Edith was my grandmother, my mother’s mother.
I knew her as a buxom, heavy-set woman who always wore dresses, usually dark, that buttoned up the front, an apron, and black lace-up shoes. With her grey hair, she was the consummate loving grandmother, and I remember her running to greet us when we arrived, every time we arrived, and giving me a big hug. I’m glad I have that repeated memory, as she passed away when I was four of a sudden heart attack. This picture of me on her lap is exactly as I remember her.
As I look at her birth date, it’s just so hard for me to comprehend that someone I knew in my lifetime was born in the 1880s. My personal knowledge by talking to that person stretched from today back 126 years in time. That’s the width, or length, if you will, of her personal testimony. Until my mother passed away, in 2006, her length of personal testimony stretched back to 1866 with her mother’s mother, Nora Kirsch Lore and 1857 with her father’s mother, Eva Miller Ferverda. That’s 149 years that personal recollection in the family covered at one time. Both of those women, of course, would have had personal memories of their grandparents that reached back into the 1700s that they could have conveyed. Of course, that’s assuming Mother had the presence of mind and interest to ask the right questions – which – of course – she didn’t!
Isn’t that so often the bane of genealogists – learning too late that we should have asked those important questions when we could have.
The photo below, cropped from a larger family meal photo, serves as a 3 generation photo of me, Mom and her mother.
You could also call this a mitochondrial DNA picture, because we all carry the mtDNA of Edith’s mother, Nora, passed to Edith, then through Edith to mother and then on to me, and now to my children as well.
The Early Years
Edith’s parents, Ellnore “Nora” Kirsch and Curtis Benjamin Lore were married at the Kirsch House, the Inn where the family lived, in Aurora, Dearborn County, Indiana on January 18, 1888. Nora made her wedding dress and descended the spiral staircase in the parlor. This photo was taken on her wedding day.
Church baptismal records indicated that their first child, my mother’s mother, was born August 2, 1888. In case anyone is counting, that’s not 9 months. That means the baby was “2 months premature,” and of course, the baby wasn’t premature, Nora was pregnant when they married.
The family took great pains to hide this fact, going so far as to enter the year as 1889 in various places. Edith’s said that her birth year had been recorded incorrectly as 1888 for insurance purposes, which was probably something she had been told.
This seemed like a great deal of trouble to hide a pregnancy, especially since others in the same family had suffered from the same “prematurity” issue. But in reality, it wasn’t the pregnancy that was being hidden, but what they “did,” you know, that three letter s-word, to cause the pregnancy. Harumph….for shame….
However, today, we view these types of things from our cultural perspective and their perspective in 1888 was quite different. This was well into the Victorian Era which lasted from about 1850 to about 1900. Victorian morality could be described as any set of values that espouse sexual restraint, low tolerance of crime and a strict social code of conduct. Obviously that “sexual restraint” part had been an issue. Hmmm….
My mother recalled that they had a terrible time finding Edith’s birth certificate at all, because Edith thought she was born in Rushville, Indiana but she wasn’t it turns out, but in Indianapolis, Indiana. This was during a time period when the family would do just about anything to disguise a pregnancy before marriage, including sending the young woman away, which may be why the baby was born in Indianapolis and neither in Aurora where Nora was raised or Rushville where they subsequently lived.
Nora, Edith’s mother, had married a wildcatter oil driller from Pennsylvania, Curtis Benjamin Lore [Lord], known as “C.B.” Roguishly handsome, I do believe he got to look down the business end of a shotgun held by Nora’s father, Jacob Kirsch, who was none too shy about using said gun. Jacob fought in the Civil War, led a lynch mob who meted out justice to an itinerant bricklayer who killed a man, and I’m sure he had no great love for this “older man” who got his daughter pregnant. Had Jacob known that Curtis Benjamin Lore had a wife and family back in Pa., Curtis Benjamin Lore would have died in March 1888 of a shotgun blast instead of 24 years later in 1912 of TB.
Also, back then, when a woman married, she often dropped her middle name and inserted her maiden name in its place, so Nora Kirsch would have become Nora K. Lore and Edith Barbara Lore would have become Edith L. Ferverda when she married John Ferverda. For whatever reason, that seemed to be tradition, at least in that part of Indiana, kind of a rite of passage into marriage, but it could and would certainly serve to confuse an unsuspecting genealogist a few decades later, well, maybe a hundred years later. I think our ancestors have a sense of humor and enjoy doing things like this to us!
I have always loved this photo of Edith as a young child, wearing a gold bead necklace still in the family today.
Edith grew up in Rushville, Indiana where she would meet the agent who worked for the railroad, John Whitney Ferverda. They married on November 17, 1908.
The photo of Edith, above was made into a postcard which was a popular way to say hello to someone when she was young. This was probably about the time she married John Ferverda. She did send at least one post card to him.
The back of the postcard, below.
Their courtship must have lasted some time, because this postcard was a year and 10 days before their marriage.
A Woman with Aspirations
Edith was not a “normal girl” for her time. In fact, she never was “normal” when compared to her contemporaries of that time.
She went to business school in downtown Cincinnati, shown above in 1910, by commuting daily on the train from the Kirsch House where her grandparents lived, in Aurora, Indiana. Edith had aspirations, first, for herself and then for her family. She was a frustrated adult, because given the time in which she lived, and then the Great Depression, things didn’t quite work out the way she had in mind.
In fact, during the Depression, it would be Edith that supported the family. Her husband John lost his hardware business sometime between 1920 and 1930, a devastating personal blow. In the 1920s and 1930s, Edith worked at the chicken hatchery as the bookkeeper. She is third from right, front row, below.
In 1951, she went to work as a stenographer for the Welfare Department until her death in 1960.
The women in my family have TRIED to behave themselves, for generations, but overall, we haven’t been terribly successful. In a moment of wild abandon, my grandmother, Edith, on the rear of this motorcycle, her mother, Nora in front of her and her two sisters, Eloise and Mildred in front leading the pack. Yes, they did ride motorcycles, but not all 4 on one! No, their husband’s did not approve. No, they did not stop, well, at least not because of that. And even after they stopped, they had a little relapse from time to time. Yes, my grandmother was a biker chick, a Harley Mama. Way, way ahead of her time.
Edith Lore and John Ferverda moved back to his home town of Silver Lake, Indiana, away from the hustle and bustle and excitement of the big city and politics, where they spent the rest of their lives. I think in many ways this was really difficult for Edith.
In the Family Memory book I gave to Mom to record her memories, here’s what she had to say about her mother, Edith:
“Mother went to business school in Cincinnati. She commuted from Aurora at the Kirsch House to Cincy by train. After that, she worked for a man who became a state senator from Rushville. This was in the early 1900s before she and John [Ferverda] were married. He wanted her to come to Washington DC and be his secretary but she turned it down because she had met John and did not want to leave Rushville. She wanted to stay and marry my father and when he misbehaved, she reminded him that she could have gone to Washington instead. This was before women could even vote which happened in about 1918 when women become franchised. There were 8 or 9 young women who were the “Barnard Beauty Bunch” who worked his campaign. He selected her from that group but she turned him down.”
The Kirsch House, shown above at right, was located right beside the train depot, at left, so commuting to Cincinnati was easy.
Mom couldn’t remember the name of the man who ran for Congress. Google, being my friend, I discovered that William O. Barnard was elected from that district in 1908. This also makes sense in terms of the first name to go with the “Beauty Bunch”. While we think of this as highly sexist today, it was apparently effective then and thought of as normal. He was not reelected in 1910 and returned to practice law and become a judge in the area. This would have had to have been the politician and it also makes sense in that John and Edith married on Nov. 17, 1908, just days after the election.
Mom’s Most Precious Memory of Edith
Here’s what Mom said in answer to the question, “What is your most precious memory of your mother?”
“There are so many. For many years she drove me 40 miles nightly after work to Fort Wayne two or three times a week to attend dancing school from which I at one point emerged as a professional tap dancer for approximately 5 years. I first danced in Warsaw for a couple of years, then in Wabash, then in Fort Wayne. That particular career ended when I fell and broke a bone in my foot. She would go to work early and take her lunch so she could get her 8 hours in just in time to make the bank deposit and get me to class. When I got home and she didn’t get home till 5 it was getting dark. Lore, my brother, was delivering his papers and I was alone. A couple of times Mom found me sitting under the street light at the corner because I didn’t want to be alone in the house. After that she left work at 4.
In a small town there really wasn’t a sitter because there were so many neighbors watching to be sure that you weren’t doing something that your mother needed to be told about so she could get it stopped. Busy bodies did serve a purpose. Once it rained and neighbor boy Frank and I were playing in gutters. I heard the phone ring and I knew I’d better get inside and answer it or I’d be in trouble. “Barbara Jean – you get in the house and you stay out of the street – NOW.” We’d been having a “splashing good time”.”
My mother had Rheumatic Fever as a child which left her with a heart murmur, among other issues. The doctor at the time recommended dancing as a way to strengthen her heart, so dance she did. And she danced very well too, even with her “late start.” But Mom’s story is one for another time.
As Mom got older, a teen, she taught dancing and her mother played the piano for that as well as for the local Methodist church. In the piano room in the house in Silver Lake, a hardwood floor was installed for Mom’s dancing and teaching.
Edith managed to break both of her wrists roller skating, which, ironically, she would not let my mother do because she was afraid she would hurt herself and not be able to dance. Mom was 14 or 15 when Edith broke her wrists, so Edith would have been just under 50. Edith wanted to try and skate, but she fell and lit on her behind, catching herself with her hands, shattering both wrists. The Doctor said they were not repairable because she had crushed the bones. She practiced the piano to loosen them and worked out the pain because she was NOT going to give up playing for Mom’s dancing and recitals. That woman had tenacity!
Newspaper articles from the local paper give us some additional glimpses of information about her life after she and John Ferverda moved back to Silver Lake.
May 22, 1911
Edith used to accompany various students both for dance and voice. She had married John in 1908 and their first child did not arrive until 1915. This would have been after she married but before the responsibilities of children.
May 23, 1911
May 24, 1911
They were apparently pleased as she played for the students a second year as well.
July 30, 1912
Mrs. Gertrude (her name was Nora, not Gertrude) Lore of Rushville is here at present visiting with her daughter, Mrs. John Ferverda and husband. Mrs. Lore’s two daughters (Mildred, 13, and Eloise, 9) have been here for the past several weeks visiting at the Ferverda home. (I don’t think the following paragraph is relevant to the Ferverda family, but with all those females maybe my grandfather was taking up residence in the garage.)
October 11, 1912
Mr. and Mrs. John Ferverda of Silver Lake are here for a two weeks visit with his parents, Mr. and Mrs. H.B. Ferverda.
April 25, 1914
Mrs. Ferverda and Miss McClure entertained a crowd of young people at the McClure home Wednesday night.
July 10, 1915
Mrs. John Ferverda is at Leesburg this week visiting with relatives. The squirrel law is now out and she took a rifle with her and she will spend some time hunting squirrels.
What? My grandmother shooting squirrels. Her first child, Harold Lore Ferverda was born in November 24, 1915. So she was shooting a rifle in July of that year? Amazing.
Nov. 27, 1915
John Ferverda, our genial agent at the Big Four station and wife and Percy Helser the drayman, and wife, are the proudest people in the whole community and passed the most enjoyable Thanksgiving of any. The stork came to their homes Wednesday afternoon and left a bouncing boy baby at the Ferverda home and at the Helser home he left a sweet little girl.
There was a doctor in Silver Lake. Everyone knew him of course. But Edith’s two babies were not delivered by the doctor, but by a midwife. Edith truly was a woman of the Victorian Era. The doctor was not allowed to see her unrobed, and I don’t believe my grandfather, or any other man, ever did either. This was typical for the time. Hard to believe her granddaughters were bra burners and wore those immodest things called bikinis!!!
Jan. 22, 1916
J. W. Ferverda has returned home from a trip to Rushville where he was for a couple of days visiting with his wife and son.
From the sounds of this, perhaps Edith took her new baby and went home to be with her mother for a few weeks.
October 14, 1916
Mrs. John Ferverda and son have returned home from Aurora where they had been for a week visiting with relatives and many friends.
August 11, 1917
Mrs. John Ferverda and son are down to Wabash this week visiting with relatives and friends.
Nora’s mother eventually moved from Rushville to Wabash, Indiana. From the looks of this article, I’d say it was in 1917. Wabash was much closer to Silver Lake than Rushville and it was probably a welcome move for both women.
I tried every Sunday to write something about Mom’s life. Her health was deteriorating by then, so I felt the need to record as much as possible while I still could.
Mom described her life and surroundings after she was born in1922. In doing so, of course, she also described her parents’ lives during that time.
“Search and discovery led to many new items that made life easier and better for many, many people. Medicine and surgical procedures were progressing. Surgery was softer and easier to handle. Penicillin was in the 30s. Inside bathrooms became the norm instead of the exception. We purchased the house where I grew up when I was about 3 . For several years we had an outside privy but then when I was about 8  a room was taken inside the house and water and drainage installed so we had an inside bathroom with a toilet, sink and bathtub. As a child, I took a bath in the foot tub. Adults washed all over from a washbasin and they were clean and smelled alright.”
“The electric refrigerator from GE had a big ball on top.”
‘Before that we had an ice box in the basement and an ice truck came by twice a week to put ice in the ice box. The ice was cut from Silver Lake in the winter.’
“Mother made her sewing room a bathroom. I sat on her lap while she pedalled the machine and I guided the fabric, or vice versa. It was a Wheeler and Wilson machine which was at that time a very good machine but the wheel ran backwards. I could not pedal and work the wheel and guide the fabric all at once. I could stretch to reach the pedal which we had to pump back and forth. I was about 10 then. That is the only sewing machine she ever had.”
“We had electricity in the new house when we moved into it in 1925. We had an electric stove and oven. That was a luxury. Four burners and the oven to the right side on the same level as the burners.”
“We had a phone in both houses. You would pick up the phone and ring the phone for the operator by cranking. She would answer and say “number please.” You would tell her the number you wanted to connect to.”
“You could call long distance too but most people avoided it because it was expensive. Today it is still expensive, but we call long distance more freely and more people have phones too.”
On another page of the family book, the topic is “my mother’s kitchen”. It asks questions about the most wonderful thing about your mother’s kitchen, how she let you help and about Mother’s best recipe.
Here’s what Mom had to say:
“Mother had a really good fudge recipe. She was at work and I was home by myself. I got the recipe out and made fudge, beat it until thick enough to put into pan, so I sampled it, and sampled it some more. By the time Mother came home, there were 2 pieces left which I gave to her and was so proud of myself that I had made fudge. Never occurred to me I shouldn’t have eaten the whole batch.”
For those of you who are adventurous souls, I scanned the recipe out of Mom’s recipe box and it’s below. White syrup is Karo Syrup. The chocolate referred to below is unsweetened.
My daughter made that same “from scratch” fudge recipe for my Mom as a gift for Christmas more than once.
I have a special memory of that kitchen too. My grandmother had bluebird pie tins with holes in the bottom.
My grandmother and grandfather had an apple orchard and a raspberry patch, so pies were always a staple. She made her own pie crusts of course, because at that time, frozen foods weren’t available at the grocery store. When she had a little extra dough left over she would spread it thinly in the bottom of the pie pan, butter it and sprinkle it with sugar and cinnamon and bake it special for me. I love those pie crust pies better than any other!
The next page in the family book asks about lessons learned from Mother, and here’s what Mom had to say:
“The road to Hell is paved with good intentions.”
I can’t tell you how many times Mother said this to me. Somehow seems appropriate, considering the fudge situation anyway:)
The Road to Hell
That was true of our DNA too….that good intentions, road to hell thing. We’ve learned a lot in the past decade plus.
As I mentioned before, Nora, Edith, Mom and I all carry the same mitochondrial DNA, passed from mothers to all of their children, not admixed with any DNA from the father. But only females pass it on. So it’s a special grandmother-mother-daughter-granddaughter kind of bond. It also means that to test to discover the mitochondrial DNA of an ancestor, you have to find someone descended from that ancestor to the current generation through all females. But in the current generation, males can test too, because they inherit their mother’s mitochondrial DNA, but just don’t pass it on.
When DNA testing first began, in about the year 2000, we didn’t have full mitochondrial DNA sequencing available like we do today. We know, for example, that our full haplogroup is J1c2f because every single location of our 16,569 mitochondrial DNA locations has been read. There is no more to read, no mitochondrial DNA upgrades to be had…so we’re done. Now the only way our haplogroup will “grow” is if new subclades within our subgroup of J1c2f are found and we fit into them, and then we might be classified as J1c2f1, for example.
For a long time, because we initially tested so early, all I knew was that my haplogrop was J, then J1, then J1c…you get the drift. So we tried to make connections with people, and their ancestry, who matched us only on the HVR1 and then on the HVR1+HVR2 when we could test for both regions. We found a match with a woman, Clara, whose ancestors were from a village not far from where Nora Kirsch’s great-grandmother was from in Germany. Clara’s ancestors were Jewish and had vacated that area in Germany to journey into the Russian mountains into an enclave where they felt they would be safe several hundred years before Nora’s great-grandmother lived there in 1800.
While Clara and I could not connect genealogically, we felt that the coincidence of a 50 mile close connection, even if a few hundred years apart, was too much to be purely happenstance. So, I thought, at that time, that it was very possible that our ancestors had at one time, been Jewish.
I was wrong. We didn’t have enough information at that time but we didn’t realize it.
As additional testing became available, both Clara and I took the full sequence test and discovered that we are in different extended haplogroups. This means that our common ancestors weren’t just 50 miles apart and a few hundred years, but 50 miles and a few thousand years, before the time of Christ and before the advent of the Jewish religion – back in the Near East. Yes, they had both wound up in Germany, but their paths there were very different. Clara’s ancestor as a Jewish woman and mine probably with the neolithic expansion of agriculture, thousands of years earlier.
Today, Clara and I don’t even show as matches. This is because of smart-matching. Family Tree DNA knows that if your full extended haplogroup doesn’t match, you really aren’t matches, so you are no longer shown at the HVR1 and HVR2 region as matches either.
How could we have been so wrong? Partial data – it’s a dangerous thing.
First, initially we had few matches. Second, some were Jewish. He’s an excerpt of my haplogroup origins page. Looks Jewish to me. Right?
Right up until I tell you that these are ONLY HVR1 matches, ONLY 6 of 86 entries, so 7% of the HVR1 entries, and that none of my HVR1+HVR2 matches nor any of my full sequence matches are Jewish. So were these HVR1 matches to test further, to the HVR2 or full sequence level, it’s very unlikely that any of them would continue as matches. Now you’re not so excited anymore are you? Well, this is the discovery sequence that happened over the years to our Jewish theory as well.
Fortunately in our case, we didn’t have a horse in the race, meaning we didn’t “want to be” Jewish or “not want to be” Jewish. We were ambivalent about it. We did however, want to know the truth, whatever it was – Jewish or not. Our DNA gave us that, once full sequence testing was available.
Some people, on the other hand, become very unhappy, even disbelieving, when their pet theory has a scientific blowout. Let’s just say this isn’t the first time that I’ve been thrown out of what I thought was my family tree. The bad news is that more often than not, I’ve been the one sawing on the branch! Ah yes, that road to hell thing…maybe it’s genetic:)