1 Nephi 1: 1, 3
...therefore I make a record of my proceedings in my days. And I know that the record which I make is true; and I make it with mine own hand; and I make it according to my knowledge.

^^That pretty much explains this blog.

Monday, December 5, 2016

I Wish You a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

This blog was created so my children could read about my life. I've tried to answer a few questions from the book Jewely got me. I've also tried to write about things I care about.

When you get to be my age, anything you can find about parents and grandparents is special. That's why I have this picture posted.

When my grandmother Mary Lou was 63, she had a beautiful picture taken of herself. It reminds me of a high school yearbook picture with the drape and exposing her shoulders. I thought it was the best picture of her and I treasure it. She was a beautiful woman.

I am 62.9.  I can't believe I am almost the age of my grandmother in her picture, though I don't have the high school pose. We had our photos taken at work and I never take a good picture (I'm notoriously unphotogenic), but I think this one is pretty good. I know I'm old(er), and there are lines on my face, but, to tell you the truth, after all I've been through in my life, I'm surprised there aren't more. I guess my white hair (that's covered with color) makes up for the wrinkles.

I want to bear my testimony of the true gospel of Jesus Christ, so my children know I stand steadfastly by my testimony and it shall never waiver. I have been through a lot, as I said, but my testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ is intact.

I love my Heavenly Father, and I know He loves me. He is my Father. I pray to Him and speak to Him as I would to an earthly father. I count on him to guide me and protect me, as I have no husband or father on earth to do so. I put my complete trust in Him.

I know that Jesus Christ is His only begotten Son on earth and that He is my Savior and Redeemer. There were many times that I saw only one set of footprints in the sand, and I know they were His. He has carried me through so many rough times. I totally rely on Him for His atoning sacrifice. Many times I have let go and let Him help me.

I bear witness that the Holy Ghost has walked beside me, especially during my divorce. His Spirit was so palpable, I could almost hear Him breathe in my ear. I could almost feel Him take my arm and lead me to a better place.

I know Joseph Smith was called as the prophet of this last dispensation and brought forth the Book of Mormon through prophecy, through our godhead's revelation. And if Joseph Smith was a prophet, then all those who followed were also prophets. Thomas S. Monson is a great man and current prophet of our church. I have a testimony that he is our prophet. I had it confirmed by the Holy Ghost, even before President Hinckley died.

I believe in the Holy Bible, as far as it is translated correctly. Whenever you see a word in italics in the Bible, it means a word was put in to make the sentence work. It was a guess on the part of those who compiled the King James version of the Bible. I love how Joseph Smith translated some parts of the Bible as well, and made it so much more understandable and relatable.

The Book of Mormon is a true and concise book, brought from the dust and into the hands of Joseph Smith. I have had witness after witness that the events and scripture of this book are true. It happened the first time while I was reading in Mosiah. Ammon asked King Mosiah if he could travel to the land of his inheritance to see what became of his kin. What happened while on that trip filled me up and I knew it was true. There were so many twists and turns, I knew Joseph Smith, with a third grade education, could not have written that book. It had to be inspired and translated.

I know how hard it is to write a book, but to write a book of that magnitude and length in such a short time period, would have been impossible without the help of God, angels, resurrected beings, and the Urim and Thummim. Not to mention great faith.

The Book of Mormon is the Keystone of our religion. If you believe it is true and correct, then Joseph Smith must be a prophet to have been able to translate it. If you believe Joseph Smith was/is a prophet, then Thomas S. Monson is also a prophet. He is the leader of our church, which I know, after investigation back in the 1980s, is the truest church on the earth today. It was "restored," and didn't come from any other religion of the time. I have had it made known to me that the Book of Mormon contains the truth. I know it, and I know God knows I know it.

I believe in eternal families. I have been sealed to all of my children and their spouses are sealed to them. We will have each other in eternity and who knows what that will entail? I have never heard of going to church while in heaven, only that we will be together as families in a family organization that stretches forever. It's a great thing.

I hope my children will get interested in genealogy as I did. I have never regretted all the work I've done. It was so well worth it and exciting as I know so many of our ancestors who have gone before us into the spirit world. I have a testimony that you can be their savior as you do temple work for the dead. They will call you blessed. They are waiting for their work to be done. Research is fun. I hope my children will love to research their ancestors as much as I have. Hopefully, I've left a few for you to uncover. :-)

I love my children. They are all unique spirits. I love my siblings. They are also all unique spirits. I pray for my mother, immediate and extended family daily. Sometimes I cry unto the Lord, as in scripture, my feelings run so deep for all of you.

My hope, my children, is that your future is bright, that you live your lives to the fullest, that you treat your "name" with respect and keep it untarnished. Remember who you are. Read your patriarchal blessings at least monthly so you know and realize how great you once were in the pre-existence, and that the greatness has followed you to earth. A lot is expected of you, since much has been given to you.

Please think of me fondly. I tried my best. My very best.

I love you all so much.

I wish you a Merry Christmas 2016, and look forward to a bright and happy New Year 2017. I hope to post a lot more in ensuing years.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Christmas Times and Things I Treasure

Michael McLean wrote a song in "The Forgotten Carols" called "I Cry the Day I Take the Tree Down."  I get so sad when I pack up all the ornaments and decorations. I love Christmas.

At the conclusion of 2016, I decided I would take pictures of my Christmas Tree, ornaments, and my Nativities. And maybe even revisit Christmases past . . .

I wish you could see the sparkle lights. They're just like lightening bugs.
This is my tree this year. Since I got Tobey, I used a table tree, but decided to trust him and put up my Alpine tree again this year. I have new copper bows on it, replacing the mauve/pink-colored bows I had on my trees since forever--1990s, I think.

My tree in 2011. First Christmas in my new house. Pink bows.
Charlie Brown Christmas Tree, 2013 and 2014. New puppy. And in 2014, I traveled to Florida and didn't want to put up a tree that year, so this worked perfectly. I keep it at work now and put it up in my cubicle. I wonder where those pinecone ornaments are. I guess I gave them all away.
Table Tree, 2015
Timmy has this now.


Ornaments that I put on the tree are special to me. Some are very old. Some are symbolic or significant.

I made dough art ornaments, probably in the late 1970s. I worked craft shows in the area on weekends and sold my wares. I tried to keep the best ones for my collection, though. I guess you could say these are "vintage."

Heart in Hand--Pennsylvania Dutch Saying

Snowman . . .missing a button, I see.
I probably still have the tools I used to make all these things.
The "straw" of the broom was made by putting dough through a garlic press.

I love this Santa's face.
Yep, the beard went through the garlic press.
I love these colorful dough ornaments. These are just a few. I keep them in a box in my closet so the weather won't get to them. I have more than these, stowed away. My tree isn't big enough--or strong enough, to hold them all.

I made two of these happy little star-faced guys. It was Christmas of 1982. I was pregnant with my first child and I learned to make these, out of pantyhose and fiberfil, at a Homemaking meeting. We were still in the little, old, white church building. Julie Carlini was teaching us. She was nine months pregnant, and actually started labor while she taught us. Her mother whisked her away to the hospital.

My mother gave me the Hallmark ball on the right with 1983 dated on it. She also painted the smaller one and dated it 1983 as well. I wonder what significance 1983 is . . . Something to do with a little angel, I guess . . .

My mom also gave me this one, above, with Florida sand and sea shells in it. The card that accompanies it, in the green, reads: When you see this ornament upon your tree, may you remember the Man Who walked the shores of Galilee.

At Christmastime in 1990, Carol Clemmer, the Martha Stewart of Crafts for the Doylestown ward, showed the Young Women how to make these muslin angels. I begged her to allow me to join in. I wanted to make them so bad. She did let me. I made twelve of them--all hand sewn. I always tried to make twelve of everything when I made ornaments for the tree. Twelve Days of Christmas, I guess. I used raffia for the wings and halo. I can't remember what Carol used. Probably wooden limbs from trees. 
I was pregnant with my fourth and last child while sewing these. I also remember watching the Persian Gulf War on television while I made them. I was afraid because I thought it was WWIII. I kept thinking about the Bible verse that says something like Woe to those who are with child at the Second Coming. Can't remember exactly. I just remember being so afraid it was Armageddon. But I love these muslin angels. It just wouldn't be my tree without them. They are twenty-six years old.

I found a prototype of a lace fan at the annual craft show at a beautiful Victorian house in Telford--I think it was called the Victorian Boutique, but I forget. So I decided I would copy it and I made my own version. I believe I made these at the same time I made the muslin angels. It seems like yesterday. Most of the dried flowers have fallen off or disintegrated. But . . . memories.

I was shopping at Clemens one day (now Giant), and saw these gold birds in a section at the end of an aisle. Clemens used to have such nice gifts. I bought a few one year, and added on in ensuing years. I have twelve of these too.

I forget what year I made these crocheted reindeers. I made one for each of the managers and supervisors I worked with at Selecthealth at the time (about 15). It might have been 2011 because I couldn't do much after I broke my ankle and was recuperating from surgery. 

The next year, I made doves out of the same type of yarn. 

For two years in a row, while in Florida, I painted little ornament cards to give to my co-workers.
This is the wreath I painted in 2014. I also painted pinecones in 2013. They are next to my Charlie Brown Christmas tree, in a photo above.

My Mom got this ornament for me. This is the year my Grandfather, Henry Tobelmann Sr., was born. 1896. She knew I would appreciate it. December 16, 2016 is his 120th birthday. I loved that man.

Bonnie Meyerson spent Christmas back east a few years ago and brought this back for me. We always gave each other Jim Shore ornaments and such for Christmas. Behind this, you can partially see a Jim Shore tall Santa she gave me one year.

Every year since I moved to Utah, I said I was going to throw away the mauve-colored paper bows that usually adorned my tree and make new ones. I must have made them in the 1990s. For years, I kept watching at Michaels for when ribbon went on sale, but I never saw any I liked. This year, I found this pretty copper-colored wired ribbon and bought three spools (I only needed two). 
Lo, and behold, I must have thrown away the mauve ribbons last year because they were nowhere to be found. I guess I figured if I threw them away, I'd have to make new ones. It must have been somewhere in my psyche because I bought ribbon at the beginning of this season and didn't wait until the end. Serendipity.

When I lived in Pennsylvania, I had an extensive Nativity collection. I think I counted over one dozen at one point. I had everything from a tiny Nativity in a walnut shell to my large Willow Tree Nativity. I had Jim Shore Heartwood Creek, Willie Ray, which Zannah now has, and my beloved Willow Tree. I also had my parents' "vintage" Nativity which I grew up with. My mother got the pieces at Newberry's five and dime store, or maybe it was Woolworth's, in Coatesville and added to it every year. I think there is still a sticker on the bottom of one of the pieces that says 29c. Still they added to it every year. Couldn't afford to buy it all at once. The pieces are Italian. I think they're made of plaster.

The stable, above, has a spot for a little light, but I never plugged it in. It made the star shine at the top. Around the time Zannah was born, I got a zig-zag sewing machine and made the velvet and satin wall hanging above the Nativity. I always loved seeing this set. I haven't used it since I moved to Utah. I don't have as much room for display as I had in Perkasie. But perhaps next year I'll display this one instead of one of the others. I gave it to Jewely, but she didn't take it with her to Maine. I'm happy to keep it and Jewely can have it one day in the future.

I enjoy decorating my mantel at Christmas every year. It's the perfect spot for my Willow Tree Nativity. I have the whole collection, including the doves and trees (which are discontinued). I'm not sure if there is another new piece this year. I bought the stockings at Michaels, and the lighted wreath at The Quilted Bear, when I bought my house in 2011.

Closeup of the Nativity Holy Family
I think I wanted to paint the wall blue just to be the perfect backdrop for this Nativity.

Sherryl Smith gave me the wooden letters. So appropriate. She also gave me the star backdrop behind the Holy Family, above. Bonnie has given all of her children a Willow Tree Nativity set, and adds to it every year. I love displaying my Willow Tree angels.

Above, and below, is my Jim Shore Nativity. I lost the shepherd and animals--probably stayed in Pennsylvania and is long gone by now--but I looked on eBay and found a perfect set, so I treated myself and purchased it. They don't make these anymore, so I was lucky to find one. I love all the colors and the quilt theme--after my own heart.

The Baby Jesus looks so comfortable and warm under this beautiful quilt. 
I'm sure the manger wasn't this comfy in real life, but . . . art makes it beautiful.

These "knock off" Carolers were purchased at Sine's Five and Dime in Quakertown. I would occasionally walk across the street from Miss Cindy's while Zannah and Jewely took their dance lessons. I think the Byer's Choice Carolers (made in Chalfont, Pa.) are kind of ugly, but I like the faces on these figures. They decorate my piano every year--an appropriate place for them, I believe, while I play Christmas Carols.

The carolers still stand on my piano here in Utah. On the other side is my wooden Nativity and the three wooden trees I made at a Christmas in July. The wooden plaque on the left, and below, was also made at a Christmas in July. Or was it Christmas in October? Either one. We looked forward to it each year.

Since I got this new chest, which holds my art supplies, I decided to try the wooden Nativity on it this year. I always used to pair it with my birdhouses. The one sort of looks like a stable. This Nativity was the first Decorative Painting venture for me, in probably 1995. My friend, Cherie Webster, taught me how to cut them out with her scroll saw, then how to paint them. That led to a slightly lucrative venture when my friend, Kathy Davis, asked me to paint some birdhouses for her then-boutique in Montgomery Mall. I love the quilted birdhouse on the left. And the one on the right didn't sell, so I kept it. My signature was adding buttons. I have scads of antique buttons and was able to use them. Good times. Fun times.

Perkasie mantel of long ago, about 2002

Perkasie mantel of 2008

Family room Christmas tree of long ago, filled with ornaments the children made through the years.

Donna Ramsden gave me this NOEL Santa. I loved the look on his face. Alas, I can't find it. It may have stayed in Pennsylvania. This photo makes me miss it. It was definitely one of my favorite things of Christmas.

At least I have these noel blocks. On the back of the blocks is the word Welcome. I turned them over and stenciled noel on some of them. Then I stenciled the word "Joy" on the back of ABC blocks that I got at the Victorian house one year. The two dogbone ornaments with Rusty and Toby on them were made by our former neighbor, Sue Wilkinson.

Family dog of long ago. RIP, Rusty, 1996-2009

I used to love to decorate for Christmas. The living room was the "holy" room with all my Nativities. The family room was snowmen and more secular decorations. And the stair railing was different every year. One time, when I was babysitting after school kids, one of the kids commented that my house looked like a country store. That made me feel good. It was the 1990s. I was totally into country decorating.

This is the best Christmas Card picture of all time.
O, Holy Knights

The story behind this . . . It was the perfect year for this picture. Two-year-old Jewely was being a spitfire that day. It was September 1991, and we used the playhouse fort, about six feet up, for the backdrop. We put straw on the floor, and I stood on the sliding board to take the picture. Jewely was not cooperating. She fidgeted and didn't want to pose. Patient Zannah, wearing a hooded bath towel, and her father's white shirt turned backwards, was the perfect Mary. Alex (Sandy back then), in his father's robe and a baby blanket on his head, waited. Even three-month-old baby Timmy was good. He was hungry. He's gnawing on his hands--but not crying.

This was in the days of film in cameras. I had no idea how they were turning out. I was almost through a roll of film. Finally, I offered Jewely a granola bar to be good. She had to have it first. She ate it. Then she posed. This was photo number 17 . . . the last one I took. It's a little over-exposed, but I'll take it.

Christmas is my favorite time of year. Any fond memory of family growing up centers around Christmas. I have tried to make Christmas a day of worship for our family, celebrating the reason for the season--and I don't mean giving or receiving of gifts. I mean worship of our Savior, Jesus Christ. I hope my own children will keep up the tradition when they have children. I also hope they invite people who would not otherwise have anywhere to go for the day. It's a happy day for me.

I wish you a Merry Christmas ♫♪  I wish you a Merry Christmas ♫♪ I wish you a Merry Christmas ♫♪ and a Happy New Year.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Benjamin Lemaster, Revolutionary War Hero, Part IV

Please begin reading this four-part chronicle HERE.     

     I’ve taken most of my information in this four-part saga from Benjamin Lemasters and the American War for Independence, by Agnes McNeill, via Katherine LeMaster Dendy. Some information came from Wikipedia and other web sites. I’ve given credit to photos when it was available.

     As I said before, I will be forever grateful that I took the time to pursue my family history while my children were young—and not save it for retirement. Most of the people from whom I gathered so much information—on both sides of my family tree—are no longer with us: my dear grandmothers, my great aunt Kitty, my cousin Kent Kessler and all my West Virginia cousins who are now in heaven having reunions without me.

     I also have living cousins who have given me enormous bounties of information on this line: Karen “Kandy” Kessler Cottrill, and Judi Spencer, James Lewis Ball. At one time, when email was new and the internet wasn’t invented, we exchanged thousands of emails on our research. Yes, thousands. Good times.

     And thank goodness for the internet. When I started doing my research back in the late 1970s, there were no computers—just libraries and hard copies from a Xerox machine.

     After spending some time in New Orleans and gleaning information from my father’s first cousins, and my second cousins, we purchased a computer in about 1994. What had taken me three weeks to “fill in the blanks” by hand on pedigree charts after that trip, took me 30 minutes on the computer. That’s progress!

     When I returned to New Orleans in 2001, when the World Wide Web was still young, I spent a week sitting in the New Orleans Library, twirling the handles of microfilm readers until my shoulders ached. Now, most of that information is on the internet.

     I am thankful for my kissin’ cousins who have spent entire lifetimes gathering this information about Benjamin Lemaster(s) for me. There are many, many of my cousins, far and wide, who have used this patriot to join the DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution).

     I visited the DAR headquarters in Washington, D.C. in about 2006. It’s a beautiful building full of books, documents, photos, and letters. I would like to join that community. Maybe I’ll save that for when I retire.

     This is the last segment I will pursue on Benjamin Lemaster. Be proud if he is your ancestor. I know I am.

__________OF BENJAMIN LEMASTER__________

Washington Rallying the Troops at Monmouth
by Emanuel Gottlieb Leutze
June 28, 1778: Battle of Monmouth Court House, New Jersey
     Prelude to Battle: To be brief and not tell the whole story, suffice it to say, once they learned of the French helping the Americans, the British decided to leave Philadelphia for New York, and possibly flee to Quebec. They were going to take ships down the Delaware Bay and up to New York, but the Loyalists in the city heard they were leaving and demanded they take them with them.

     The Loyalists/Tories took up all the room in the ships, so the British soldiers were left to hoof it through New Jersey to New York, under the command of Sir Henry Clinton, who replaced William Howe in May 1778.

     The evacuation began June 18, 1778. Little did Clinton know that Washington’s new and improved troops, fresh from Valley Forge with new recruits, pursued a parallel path through New Jersey, waiting for a time to strike.

     Washington sent Charles Lee, only recently exchanged after a winter of captivity in New York, to head up the 5,000 men to provoke the British. The First Virginia Regiment was with them. On June 28, the British launched the attack, focusing on the left wing under the command of Major General William “Lord Stirling” Alexander.

     If you remember the photos of the organization chart from the Valley Forge Visitor Center, Lord Stirling was the head honcho reporting to Washington, and our Benjamin served under Brigadier General Peter Muhlenberg, who served directly under Lord Stirling. BUT Benjamin’s regiment, under Colonel Richard Parker, were in the Advance Guard—the Right Wing. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monmouth_order_of_battle)

     To make a long story short, after doing some battle, and with his men dropping from "fatigue," Lee ordered a retreat and the men landed in the lap of Washington, who sent them all back to the battlefield. Washington was so enraged, it’s reported he actually cursed at the general in public, something he rarely did. He also dismissed Lee from the battlefield.

You can see where Lee charged into the battle, then his retreat, right into the path of George Washington.

     Lee was eventually court martialed and never led another unit. Read more about this HERE

     The temperatures on June 28, 1779 were in the 100s, so you can bet the humidity was probably in the 80s or 90s. Many men on both sides suffered from heat stroke—37 Americans died of "fatigue." This severely impacted both armies—the British lost 59 to heat stroke. The Americans, plagued by the hottest time of the day—could not pursue the fleeing British.

     By twilight, the British had all withdrawn from the battlefield. In fact, they withdrew from the whole area during the night. Washington chose not to follow them, probably because of the fatigue of his men.

     Having just spent the winter at Valley Forge, though, the Americans were renewed by this engagement, even though the battle was a draw (neither side gained the field of battle). Even so, both sides claimed victory.

     Although the war would last five more years, this was the last engagement between two full armies ever fought during this war. It was considered the last battle of the northern theater.

M'r Capitaine du Chesnoy, A.d.C. du Général LaFayette. - Library of Congress
Map of the Battle of Monmouth Courthouse, N.J.
Public domain
     As an aside, this is the battle of “Molly Pitcher” fame. Learn about that HERE.  
Molly Pitcher

June-July 1778: Hospitals in Brunswick, NJ and White Plains, NY
     It appears Benjamin Lemaster was one of the unfortunate victims of heat stroke. In those days, without “air conditioning,” it was very difficult to cool down a body during heat stroke, especially in 100-degree weather, other than cool baths, and ice, if you could get it. Symptoms include confusion, agitation, slurred speech, delirium, seizures, coma, nausea and vomiting, flushed skin, rapid breathing, racing heart rate, throbbing headache. Ugh.

     According to his muster roll for the month of July 1778, Benjamin Lemaster spent time in the hospital at Brunswick, NJ, then a flying hospital at White Plains where his regiment removed, and where he first began his service in the war, if you remember.

     By August, he stood guard duty at White Plains. In September, he was stationed at Camp Robinson in NY “on command.” From October through December he suffered through another winter camp at Middle Brook, NJ, then ended up sick again at Brunswick in January 1779.

     He began the spring of 1779 on lookout duty at Sandy Hook, NJ. Sandy Hook is an elongated sand bar attached to the New Jersey coast and which jutted directly north into Lower New York Bay. The southern tip of Long Island and the Verrazano Narrows were visible from Sandy Hook. Washington posted lookouts here to keep him apprised of the movement of British ships into and out of New York harbor.
Sandy Hook, NJ, across the Jamaica Bay from New York.

     This last assignment must have been boring. During his stint at Sandy Hook, Benjamin Lemaster had nothing to report. Little did Washington know, the British abandoned the plan to go north and were gearing up for battle in the south.

May 7, 1779: Last Muster Roll
     Benjamin Lemaster drew pay on 7 May 1779 for service in the month of April at Sandy Hook, the last muster roll on which he appears as a member of the First Virginia Regiment.   

     According to his Pension Statement, he took a furlough to go home and get married. While home, he said the battle of Yorktown took place, so he never returned to duty. His memory was a little foggy because the Battle of Yorktown took place in October 1781. His two years were up in April 1779, so that’s probably why he didn’t return. He had served two years, four months, and two weeks.

     By the time he gave his first pension statement in 1832, he was 76 years old. He couldn’t remember the order of the battles—and who can blame him? He participated in so many, he must have been addled just a little bit. 

     The pensions were supposed to be given to men who fought in the war and were now destitute. Benjamin sought a pension in 1832 because, before that, he owned too much property or land to qualify. He was granted the pension in 1833, retroactive to 4 March 1831. Fifty-seven years had passed since his original three-month enlistment in September 1776.

     He had to testify again in 1835 because his 1832 testimony didn't add up. Though Agnes McNeill wrote that his $80 per annum pension was reinstated, I have found no evidence of this. The poor man died in 1837.

     Read part of his Pension Statement HERE

     I have more information about Benjamin, but I decided only to write about his Revolutionary War experiences. I urge you to go online and find what you can about the war and the engagements in which he fought.

     This is only one of many of our ancestors in Grandmother Mary Lou’s lineage who fought in the Revolutionary War. Be very proud of your heritage. It is noble.

     Please visit this YouTube channel to see the homestead gravesite of Benjamin Lemaster and his wife, Rebecca Ann Martin Lemaster.
Benjamin Lemaster gravesite, and homestead in Bucks Garden, Summersville, Nicholas County, WV 

     I visited many family plots like this throughout West Virginia in the summer of 2006, when our cousin, James Lewis Ball, graciously escorted me all around creation in the heat of the summer. I was in my glory. J

     We descend from their second of 10 daughters, Mary “Polly” Lemasters, who married James Clendenin Boggs, son of Francis Charles Boggs (born in Chester County, PA, near Doe Run), who also fought in the Revolutionary War. But that’s another story.

You’re welcome!