Saturday, September 19, 2015

(LUKE) Richard Osmer Luke... Or Should That Be Jones?

There is no question that Richard Osmer Luke was not fathered by his “father,” Henry Luke. Richard was born to the widow Harriet Ellen Luce Luke in 1870, more than three years after Henry died.

So who was his father?

As far as we know, Harriet never disclosed that information.

Some descendants believe that Harriet must have been raped. Others have said that one of Henry Luke’s brothers saw to the “comfort” of his widow. Others are aghast that we mention it at all, vociferously maintaining that Harriet took the secret to the grave and it’s our duty to respect that decision.

Whatever our thoughts or wishes might be, technology has made many of them irrelevant.

What my ancestor concealed my cheek cells have revealed…through the power of DNA testing.

I believe it likely that my great great grandfather was a man named Elisha Jones.

  Above: Elisha Jones. Below: Richard Osmer Luke.


Elisha was born in Ohio in 1813. In 1864 he moved to “Provo Valley,” better known as Heber, Utah—the home of my great great grandmother and the birthplace of her son.

I share significant amounts of DNA with 8 of Elisha’s known descendants. To put that in perspective, I don’t share significant amounts of DNA with ANY OTHER descendant groups of “non”-relatives. Which means, it is extremely likely that Elisha is my ancestor.

He fits neatly into the one hole in my family tree (Richard’s father)—right place, right time, fathered two legitimate children that same year—and does not fit logically anywhere else. My relationship to my only other Heber ancestors is supported by the “paper trail” and also by DNA.

As technology improves, there is a chance that this suspected relationship will be altered. I presume, however, that additional developments will only strengthen my assumption: my great grandfather was born a Luke, but he should have been a Jones.

*Interested in helping us learn more? Buy a DNA test from! The more descendants we test, the more answers we can find.

*Note: I recognize that the sensitive subjects in this post might be difficult for some of my readers. It is perhaps wise to mention here that all of Heber obviously knew that Richard was born to an ostensibly single woman. But she wasn’t shunned or disrespected. In fact, Richard said that all the shops in town closed on the day of her funeral. Elisha was entrusted with civic and religious responsibilities. They both seem to have been upstanding, respected citizens. We need not fret over what may or may not have happened—there are many possible scenarios, ranging from an affair to rape to a secret marriage. It is unlikely that we’ll ever know their motivations; there’s no sense guessing or fretting about an occurrence that’s 145 years old.

For more about Elisha, see 

Line of descent:
Richard Osmer Luke, 1870-1938
Russell Victor Luke, 1905-1996

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

(ROBERTS) Jack's Sprained Wrist

November 25, 1963 was the funeral of President John F. Kennedy.  In a letter to her mother and sister, Dolores Roberts called it “a very solemn day.” She mentions being “stunned by the news of Kennedy’s death.” “It certainly was a loss to us. He was a brilliant man.”  

Although the beginning of her letter touches on Kennedy’s funeral and death—matters of national significance—the remainder covers matters closer to home. She discusses Thanksgiving plans, doing laundry, and giving rides to a friend.

She also tells a story about her 12-year-old son Jack.

“Jackie and Jay went ice skating Fri. night. Jackie fell and hurt his wrist (naturally, it was his week to wash dishes – so Jay did them for him Sat. and Donna did them yesterday.) I notice it is better today – now that it’s Donna’s week to wash dishes. Ha! His wrist is a little swollen, but not bad. – I guess just a slight sprain.”

Convenient time to be healed! I guess 12-year-olds have always been the same. :)

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

(SMITH) William Holt of Colonial Williamsburg

***NOTE: I have NOT verified this line. Descent from William Holt is based on information others have posted on***

One of my husband's 6th great grandfathers is William Holt, from Virginia, who lived from 1737-1791. (I wrote about one of William's runaway slaves previously, here.)

The most interesting thing about William Holt is that he is one of the characters portrayed at Colonial Williamsburg. So if you're ever in Virginia, stop in and say hi!

William was a local merchant. He owned a store and a mill. He also imported slaves to sell, and posted newspaper ads in the Virginia Gazette to assist others searching for their runaway slaves.

Another notable thing about William is that he fathered triplets! All three babies were born healthy, which seems impressive for the 1700s.

The Colonial Williamsburg website has a page dedicated to William, which you can view here.

Line of descent:

William Holt 1730-1791
William Holt 1765-1820
John Holt 1792-1872
Jesse Payton Holt 1833-1922
Maria Druzilla Holt 1861-1946
Lucia Naomi Scoville 1889-1958

Alice Zemp 1925-2000

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

(LUKE) R. O. Luke and the Miracle Cure

Every generation has its snake oil cures.

Richard Osmer Luke, my great grandfather, was featured in a
testimonial in a 1930 newspaper. “‘Wonderful!’ Thousands Say of New Sargon,” it began.

According to the advertisement, after taking multiple bottles of Sargon Luke noticed incredible bodily improvements:

“The pains in my…leg have entirely disappeared! … my nerves have been strengthened. I enjoy sound, refreshing sleep, and my whole system is…built up and invigorated.”

“Sargon Pills straightened out my liver, cleansed my system of poison [and] regulated me perfectly.”

“I feel like a different man.”

“My wife is as happy as a child over my wonderful improvement!”

Most of these pronouncements are suspect, but perhaps Sargon did assist regularity: one of its primary ingredients was a laxative. The other was grain alcohol.

Despite its popularity, the medical cure-all was essentially a fraud.

Line of descent:
Richard Osmer Luke, 1870-1938
Russell Victor Luke, 1905-1996

- Newspaper article from The Salt Lake Tribune, May 18, 1930, page 11, available at
- Some of the Sargon information is from

Thursday, June 4, 2015

(SCOFIELD) Sex, drugs, and on parole - Maud Cheshire's teenage travails

Teenagers can be a lot of work. George Cheshire, my husband’s 3rd-great grandfather, certainly knew that.

At 15, his daughter Maud ran away from home, possessed of the “childish notion that married life [was] absolutely necessary to her existence.”1 Fortunately, she was discovered before she was able to leave Utah for Montana, where she was supposed to meet her paramour. She “sassed her aged father,” however, and refused to return home. George asked the police to intervene, charging that Maud’s associates were “questionable, to say the least.”2

For her part, Maud alleged “that her stepmother treats her cruelly, often striking her with a walking stick.” Maud’s brother told police that she “had always been inclined to run wild”; her father seemed to agree--rather than denying her charges of corporal punishment, he said she deserved it.3

Five days after running away Maud was arrested. Two days later, she went to court “and pleaded guilty to the charge of residing in a house of prostitution.” Calling her associates “questionable” was evidently an extreme understatement. Maud’s sentence was suspended when an aunt agreed to take charge of her, and Maud “promised to do better.”4

Promises, promises.

Two months later, Maud was arrested again. She and another girl were picked up in a rooming house, located above a saloon5, on charges of prostitution. The detective “testified that the girls bore a bad reputation, and had been in the hands of the police on several occasions on similar charges.”6 The girls admitted that “two gentlemen” had rented the room for them.

The judge remanded Maud to the state reform school and Maud “clapped her hands in glee.” She explained that she “had lots of friends there.”7

After 3 or 4 years’ incarceration (at the school), Maud was paroled.8  Whether through conformity or discretion, she kept her name out of the papers for almost a decade, with the exception of a brief notice that she was getting married.9

Unfortunately, matrimony did not make it easier for Maud to abide family life or social conventions. After 7 years of marriage, her husband filed for divorce.

Her husband alleged that during their married life, she had “become accustomed to the use of drugs and that she also…acquired the habit of entertaining other men.”10 One night, “when he came home at midnight…his wife was entertaining another man and…when he remonstrated against such action she struck him with her fist and threatened to carve him with a knife.”11

The divorce was quickly granted.

Maud didn’t have long to regret or rejoice in her return to singleness. Nine months later, she died of a heart condition, worsened by morphine use. She was 28 years old.

Line of descent:

George Cheshire, 1822-1908 (Maud's father, mentioned in the article)
Thomas Cheshire, 1843-1925
George Cheshire, 1873-1935
Clara Lavon Cheshire, 1915-2007


1 - Salt Lake Herald, 17 Oct 1899, page 3
2 - Salt Lake Herald, 19 Oct 1899, page 5
3 - Salt Lake Herald, 19 Oct 1899, page 5
4 - Salt Lake Tribune, 24 Oct 1899, page 5
5 - Salt Lake Herald, 28 Dec 1899, page 3
6 - Salt Lake Herald, 14 Jan 1900, page 5
7 - Salt Lake Herald, 29 Dec 1899, page 5
8 - Salt Lake Tribune, 13 Sep 1903, page 3
9 - Salt Lake Herald, 29 Sep 1904 or 1905, page 5
10 - Evening Standard, 3 Sep 1912, page 9

11 - Evening Standard, 3 Sep 1912, page 9

These newspapers are all available at either or

Monday, May 25, 2015

(ROBERTS) Diana, "a beautiful baby"

Diana, Dolores, and John Roberts, about 1945
Dolores Mae Peters married John Curtis Roberts when she was 16. At 17, she had her first baby, Diana Gale Roberts. John was in the army, so Diana was born in Savannah, Georgia, where he was stationed, rather than in Missouri or Kansas, where John's and Dolores's families lived. 

While recovering in the hospital, Dolores wrote a letter to her mother, Eva Irene Laws Peters. In her letter, Dolores mentions that she was awake for the entire process. At the time, women were routinely put under for childbirth, awaking with a new baby and no memory of the delivery. Dolores's experience was somewhat unique.

Below is a full transcription of Dolores's letter, followed by scans of the letter itself.

140 Dunrobin Drive
Cherokee Homes
Pt. Wentworth, Ga.
September 11, 1944

My dearest Mother,
Well, here I am in the hospital, Diana was born on September 10 at 6:00 a.m. I am at Hunter Field. It is the other air base in Savannah. My labor pains started at 2:30 a.m. Sunday and at 6:00 a.m. Sunday she was born. They didn’t have time to get me to sleep. I was awake during the whole time. The doctor and nurses told me I was an excellent patient as I didn’t make a bit of noise. It certainly hurt though when she was coming out and when they were sewing me inside. They think she is a beautiful baby. She has dark brown hair, blue eyes, fair complexion, round face, and a dimple in her chin. She weighed 6 lbs and 11 oz. John is certainly proud. Right after they brought me to my room he came in to see me and he was smiling from ear to ear. I have a very nice room-mate. Her name is Mrs. Braasch. She has a baby boy born on Sept. 7. He weighed
the same as Diana. He is longer than she, but not as fat. John was so excited that he put she was born at 5:15 a.m. instead of 6:00. I feel fine. I hope it does not turn hot while I am here. It was cool yesterday and is so far today. After I get out I will tell you what our meals consisted of. All we have to pay for is diaper service. The rest is all free.
I’ll close for now. I wish you could see Diana. Tell Betty & Pat hello. I’ll
probably not write them until after I get out of the hospital.
With lots & lots of love & kisses,
Dolores, John, and Diana

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

(SMITH) The Slave that Got Away

In 1783, William Holt owned 21 slaves—more than any other Williamsburg resident at the time. If the British Army had cooperated, he would have owned 22.1

During the American Revolution, the British commander-in-chief2 hoped to weaken the American economy3 via the Philipsburg Proclamation, which proclaimed freedom to all slaves owned by American patriots and promised protection to slaves who left their masters.4 Thousands of slaves escaped to the British lines.5

Accordingly, one condition of the Treaty of Paris, which ended the War, prohibited the retreating British from “carrying away any Negroes or other property of the American Inhabitants.”7

General George Washington met with the British to discuss implementation of the treaty terms. Washington reminded them of the importance of returning “all Negroes and other property” to the Americans. The British general, Carleton, said that “in his interpretation, the term property meant property owned by Americans at the time the treaty was signed,” and therefore excluded slaves who had absconded to British lines during the war.8

The Americans were not pleased, but the British stood by their word: they had promised freedom. Although the former slaves had run away because of the Philipsburg Proclamation, Carleton noted that “the Negroes in question” had escaped before he arrived in New York as commander-in-chief. “I had therefore no right, as I thought, to prevent their going to any part of the world they thought proper.”9

Some of the former slaves were evacuated to the Canadian "part of the world." Among those bound for Port Roseway, Nova Scotia was Hannah Jackson, age 12, a “fine girl. Formerly the property of William Holt of Williamsburgh, Virginia.”10

William Holt would simply have to make do with 21 slaves.

**I am NOT condoning slavery, merely reporting history. And for the record, I think it's great that the British kept their word. 

Line of descent:

William Holt 1730-1791
William Holt 1765-1820
John Holt 1792-1872
Jesse Payton Holt 1833-1922
Maria Druzilla Holt 1861-1946
Lucia Naomi Scoville 1889-1958
Alice Zemp 1925-2000

1 - Thad W. Tate, Jr., “The Negro in Eighteenth-Century Williamsburg,” Colonial Williamsburg Digital Library,
2 - “American Revolution: General Sir Henry Clinton,”, Accessed 29 Apr 2015
3 - Black Loyalists, “The Philipsburg Proclamation,, Accessed 29 Apr 2015
4 - Wikipedia, “Philipsburg Proclamation,”, Accessed 29 Apr 2015
5 - Wikipedia, “Philipsburg Proclamation,”, Accessed 29 Apr 2015
7 - Black Loyalist, “Treaty of Paris,”, accessed 29 Apr 2015
8 - Black Loyalist, “Evacuation of New York,”, Accessed 29 Apr 2015
9 - Black Loyalist, “Evacuation of New York,”, Accessed 29 Apr 2015. Same reference for entire paragraph.
10 - Black Loyalist, “The Book of Negroes – Transcript,”, Accessed 29 Apr 2015