Monday, December 5, 2011

Santa: Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories, December 6, 2011

This is one of my favorite and sweetest Santa stories.

In 2004 the three youngest grandchildren Jayden, Jazzie and newborn Taytum were visited by a very special helper of Santa's. Our 13 year old grandson Joshua, agreed to help Santa out and let his cousins and little sister have their pictures taken with him.

It went something like this:
ME: Josh, I think you would make a great Santa

JOSH: I don't think so grandma

ME: Sure you would, we will even get you a cool suit to wear, just like

Ummmm I'll think about it

Sometime later:

ME: Josh, look, your mom found a really cool Santa Suit!!!!

ME: Please?????


JOSH: Ummmmm, well, I guess I could do it, it does look KINDA cool

Christmas Eve 2004

Uhhh grandma???

ME: Yes Josh?

JOSH: This is really really hot and sweaty........How long do I have to wear it for?
JOSH: Grandma???
Grandma???? where did you go????????
man I gotta get outta here.............

ME: THANK YOU JOSHUA .......Here comes Santa Claus here comes Santa Claus.......

Outdoor Decorations: Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories December 5, 2011

I grew up loving the outdoor Christmas displays. My parents seemed to enjoy the lights as well and even though my dad didn't enjoy driving at night, he and my mom would bundle me up and put me in the car to "go see the lights". I remember standing on the backseat floor of the car using my mitten to clear the frost off the window so I could see the lights. It was magical how the lights all seemed to have "halos" through the frosted glass. When I think of those snowy Colorado nights, I can still remember the familiar smell of my "daddy's" old cars. They all pretty much smelled the same, the warm radio tubes, dust on the seats, well worn mechanic's tools and cigarettes. Somehow that was a safe and cozy environment to protect us from the snow and ice.

Then when my kids were young and we were still in Colorado, they also had quite a few rides to see lights in "Grandpa's" car, (of course by then there were seat-belts.)

In the early '80's we moved to Arizona and I wondered how the lights here could possibly be as beautiful without the snow and ice. We were thrilled to find out that not only were they as beautiful, but sometimes it was nice to enjoy them with the temperatures in the 50's instead of the '20's!

Actually, one of the most beautiful displays we have ever enjoyed was in Mesa, Arizona at the Arizona LDS Temple. The display has been a part of every Arizona Christmas since.

I am including some of the the Temple Garden pictures as posted on the City of Mesa web site. I hope you can enjoy a special part of the yearly tradition that lights up our season.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Holiday Cards: Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories.

I'm fortunate to have a collection of my grandparents and parents' letters and cards. Some of them are as old as the early 1900's, but the majority of them are like the ones shown here from the 1940's. I love the soft colors and innocent images, these are the images I grew up with in the family scrapbooks and albums and they almost seemed like storybooks to me.

Not only are the cards beautiful, but the personal notes inside were handwritten with beautiful penmanship and hopeful messages for the upcoming years.

I feel so fortunate that I have been able to learn so much about my ancestors from these cards. So many of the cards are from brother's and sister's and aunt's and uncles that had passed long before I was born. The cards I treasure the most are the ones that were sent between my mom and her mother. Some of the thoughts they shared showed how much love and concern they had for each other and how much they missed being able to see one another.

We no longer exchange cards in the family and I can't help but feel an obligation to make sure that my grandchildren appreciate the treasures in this little box of memories.

Ornaments: Advent Calendar of Christmas Dec.3, 2011

Last year this was one of my favorite topics for the Advent blog. Although some of this post will be the same as last year, I wanted to add some pictures I have found and some information on the little village houses and the Nativity set.

I had three favorite decorations or ornaments, the Nativity, the small cardboard village houses with the hole in the back and the original colored bubble lights that were both an ornament and a light! (In case you can't tell from my previous blogs I was born in the '50's).

My parents bought the simple Nativity set when they had my oldest brother (15 years older than me). Both of my brothers, Doug and Willard were in charge of it until I came along. I did some research on this Nativity and found out that it was sold both pre and post World War 2, at major department stores.

It was Italian made and was made out of a chalk like material. It had a young looking Joseph and Mary and the Baby Jesus had a manger made from a strange brown piece of organic material with small sticks glued on the side for legs (by the time I came along, rubber bands were added).

My favorite Shepherd was tall and kind looking and carried a lamb over his shoulders.
The camels were very heavy and for some reason, the bull's horns had springs sticking out them. The barn that Joseph, Mary and the baby stayed in was made out of such rough old wood that I believed that it actually came from Bethlehem! All these years later only a few of the pieces remain.

The Christmas before my brother Doug passed away, he found a complete set just like the original at an antique store and purchased it for me since I was so attached to it. It now is lovingly displayed each year with the remaining original pieces AND the organic brown manger.

I still have the cardboard village houses as well. "Back in the Day" I spent hours putting the fat Christmas lights through the hole in the back. The windows all were covered in colored cellophane and when the lights were shining, all the houses looked like families were home, warm and safe in the snow sheets.

I hope that you and your families are all able to sleep tight tonight like the families in the little cottages.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Holiday Foods: Advent Calendar of Christmas Dec. 2, 2011

Our family has always been very traditional with our Christmas dinners. There were plenty of beautiful brown turkeys, with moist stuffing (my favorite was my mother's oyster stuffing), heaps of mashed potatoes and plenty of rich gravy to go around and endless specialty side dishes . Then there were the deserts, pies, cakes, cookies and fudge. Sometimes the varieties changed but everything was always wonderful especially after smelling it cook all day and waiting for company to arrive. But for every perfect dish, there are many stories of the less than successful attempts at creating them. Somehow, those mishaps seem to be the stories that get repeated over and over until they become family traditions in themselves.

I'm sure that almost everyone that reads this story could contribute many of these same types of "recipe's gone wrong". Here goes.

Mashed potatoes, runny or dry, runny or lumpy, too much butter or forgotten all together. Ever cooked too many or too few? Waaaaaay more potatoes than gravy? How about not enough to go around? Burned on the bottom or raw and crunchy?

Gravy, thicker than the potatoes? How about greasy on the top? My favorite....just keep adding water and pepper there will be enough...... Then there is the "oh my goodness, we forgot to make the gravy!"

Turkey, too brown, too dry, not done, over done, bag of giblets baked inside on numerous occasions? Our family favorite was the junior small tom fueled a competition between my brothers to see which one could successfully make a small turkey feed a lot of people. Between one adding stuffing and the other "infusing" it with the baster the turkey got very large just before it E X P L O D E D.

There were rock hard rolls and dough balls, too much baking soda or not enough and of course "uh oh...did we forget the rolls"?

Finally pies, broken crusts, burnt edges, all crust hardly any pie, all pie no crust, no sugar, too much sugar, too runny and those that were raw. Store bought crust, first time crusts, perfect crusts with awful pie and sour pies with beautiful crusts.

No matter what kind of disaster occurred before or during dinner, it always seemed like the meal was perfect and the best ever! We always knew that no matter how it turned out it was full of love and we were all together, that was what made it special.

Family Christmas Trees: Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories Dec. 1, 2011

Last year I wrote about our artifical tree's when I was growing up,-particularly the silver aluminum tree with the four color light wheel. This year, I was thinking about some of the memorable trees we had when my children were young. My mom was the type of person that would get an idea in her head and until she was able to make it happen, she was on a mission! (I have to admit I take after her when it comes to that.)

Somewhere in the mid 1970's, Winnie the Pooh and Friends were very popular and of course the little one's were all crazy about Pooh. Mom was tired of trying to come up with a suitible tree each year so she decided to get a large life-like tree at Sears. Since most of our ornaments were passed down from Grandparents and my older brother's Christmas's, they were pretty thin and worn. She thought that if she was going to get a new tree,  she should get new ornaments. Then, she decided that if she got new ornaments, she would want them to be something that could be passed down to the grandchildren. Unfortunately, it was getting very close to Christmas, and the possibility of getting enough ornaments that would be special enough to hand down was proving to be difficult. Not only that, she wanted to make sure that they would all be able to have the same type of ornaments, so no one would be slighted. It was quite a problem until we walked into the Christmas department of our local Sears in Fort Collins Colorado.

In the middle of the floor was a beautiful tall, perfectly formed artificial tree, decorated with lights and what seemed to be a hundred Pooh and friends plush ornaments! In addition, there were little gingerbread men and houses and little colorful felt baby animals. It was perfectly beautiful. Problem solved! Mom proceeded to work her magic and would not be defeated even when she was told there were no ornament sets like those on the tree because most of the Pooh characters were excess small plush toys that had been nestled carefully within the branches.

Not to be denied, my mom used her very best barganing skills. She asked the Manager if he had thought about how much trouble it was going  to be to take down that tree and restock all the toys after the holiday. Within 15 minutes she had made a deal to purchase the complete display tree, lights and ornaments (and a few larger stuffed Poohs for good measure). The only stipulation is that we had to wait until the week of Christmas before we picked it up.

Oh did I forget to mention that we had to remove the tree just as it was with out disassembling it?

Here's where charming the Son-In-Law comes in. Since My  husband and I were the only one's with a pick up truck, and we worked the night shift, my husband was elected to take mom to Sears and pick up the tree. What a sight it was, driving down College Ave. with a huge tree covered in plastic with Pooh and the boys just "Hanging Around"! After the tree was unloaded, mom supervised while everything was put in place and the lights were lit.

All I can say is that it was magical when the kids saw the tree they were (almost) speechless. Before any arguments over ornaments could break out, mom sat them down and explained that after Christmas, she would let them take the ornaments down and count them evenly into four groups so each family could have a Pooh tree for their house. And yes, there were more than enough animals for us all to have a full tree. Like I said, Magic.  We still have some of the ornaments that have survived and been passed down and they always remind me of that special one of a kind Christmas tree.

I spent this evening trying to find some pictures of the ornaments in old Sears catalogs and I was only able to find a few. So I will add them here. And if you close your eyes and let your inner child imagine a Magical Tree of Pooh might be able to see it lit up in front of the fire on a snowy Colorado Christmas.

I hope you all find a little Magical wonder in every Christmas season. God Bless.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Flora Rosa Louise (Loy) Dunn Childhood Years

Our mother was born August 14, 1918 in Denver County Hospital in Denver Colorado. At that time and through the time that my brother was born, she was one of the largest babies born in the hospital and the hospital put an engraved plaque over the door of the maternity ward with her name and birth information on it. Mom did not know about that until she saw the plaque when she was in the ward having my brother! It was a real shock to her but she had a lot of fun with it.

Her parents were Andrew Jackson Loy and Clara Jones Loy both from Bartholomew County Indiana. She had an older sister Lila and 3 older brothers, Brock, Brandt and Herman. Her parents were living in Otis Colorado where they had settled after homesteading for a short time in the county. Her father was a businessman in the community and owned a general store, tire store and a tin shop. She had fond memories of her childhood before her father passed away. Her father was in the city band and there were always occasions to get together with the neighbors in the lot next to their home. She also remembered that her family hosted a big fourth of July party for the town every year and it was always very exciting. She thought that was why she always enjoyed seeing the fireworks so much.

She had a very close knit family and was close with her sisters Lila and Clara as well as her brothers. Her favorite study in school was reading and her favorite sport was Basketball. Since she grew to over 6 foot tall, it gave her an advantage. She loved dancing as well and would go with her brothers on the weekend to the county dances. Many times the dances were marathons which she particularly enjoyed. She always said she danced late into the night until she was exhausted.

When she was 18 she met our father Maynard Charles Dunn and they eloped with another couple to Alliance Nebraska on a cold December 30th, 1936.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Eldred B. Tresize Narative Part 7 Settling in

This is a narrative that covers the history of the family of Edward John Tresize and their immigration to America from England. It was originally posted on but is not avail. May have been posted by his children.

We finally worked our way across Eastern Colorado and Western Kansas and ended up in Hutchinson, Kansas. My father found work there and so did the rest of us. My step mother, Helena, made several trips by train to Leadville to visit her old girlfriend, Baby Doe McCourt.

My stepmother finally moved to San Antonio, Texas. My father married Mary Bloom. She died shortly after my father and is buried in East Side Cemetery in Hutchinson, Kansas near the Reformatory Wall. My father died the day after New Year's Day in 1930 in San Antonio, Texas. I had his body brought back to Hutchinson and he is buried in Fairlawn Cemetery. His headstone is just a hundred feet west of the Mausoleum. I bought a headstone for my mother and my baby sister who died in Leadville. Their graves had remained unmarked for almost eighty years.

I joined the Navy in World War I and returned to marry my sweetheart, Grace May Hiestand. We had one daughter, Carol June and twin sons, Harris and Farris. I worked for the Missouri Pacific Railroad. I have had a good life and have many more stories to tell.

Excerpts from a letter dated 5/13/1906 written from Leadville by my father Eldred to his sister Charlotte:

"Lewis had a birthday party the 12th of May. His birthday was on the 8th but there was school. He had been told that he could have a party on no Saturday. Saturday morning, we had a picnic and not a party. We took our baskets and went up to pa's mine, and no sooner had we got there till it began to snow. We went in the shaft house and sat down on some wooden benches all the morning till the bell rang for the miners to come up out of the mine and when the door opened for the men to come in we looked out and saw that the ground was all covered with snow. In the afternoon the sun came out and some of the snow melted and so it was very wet and muddy but we did not care, we wanted to have some fun anyway, but we could not. Pa let us down the mine so that we would not get wet. So we went over to the cage and got on. A cage is a thing that looks like an elevator. The mine is only 300 feet deep. When we got to the bottom, we all had a candle and marched off in the tunnels, but when we came home, we were all tired out. Was not that a nice picnic? We call it a picnic in the storm. You hoped that we are all well but we are not. All of us are kind of sick. We have 9 birds but they are not all ours. Two birds got 3 little birds. Well, I think you are well. it's time for me to close now. From your loving brother, Eldred Trezise, 514 E. 9th St. Leadville, Colorado."

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Eldred B. Tresize Narative Part 6 Moving on

This is a narrative that covers the history of the family of Edward John Tresize and their immigration to America from England. It was originally posted on but is not avail. May have been posted by his children.

We reached Salida, Colorado and a man at a livery stable let us stay there for a week or two in one of the stalls. There was a spring wagon in back of the barn with a lot of frozen yellow squash in it. He gave us all the squash. We lived on squash for weeks; boiled squash for breakfast, fried squash for dinner, baked squash for supper, cooked on an oil stove or over a camp fire. I hate squash to this day!

We moved on to Pueblo, Colorado where the winter set in again and a blizzard came up. We lived in a barn at the state fairgrounds until the storm was over. My folks were very proud and were strictly against begging. But I was the oldest and I knew the situation was desperate so I went to a house several blocks away and told them of the condition we were in. They gave me a dozen potatoes and some bread. My folks did not like it one bit that I did that but we had some food to eat anyway.

We moved on. It was so cold and the breath from the horses heads swirled like a cloud of steam and our breath made puffs of white as we struggled along in the icy wind with our heads bent down low. We could not ride in the wagon. Tom had holes in his shoes and cried a lot. I gave him my coat because I was afraid he would freeze to death. I remember the sky being fiery red at night. My father said it was going to be a cold day tomorrow and it turned out that way. Later that evening, near Swink, Colorado, we came across a little abandoned two room shack that had no windows or doors and holes in the roof. A herd of cattle was around the building but they were all dead. They were frozen and us kids could jump from one frozen carcass to another without touching the ground. One cow was frozen stiff in the doorway of the shack but we climbed in over it and stayed in the shack for the night. We could not move the cow out of the doorway so we led the team of horses over the dead cow and put them in the one room and the seven of us slept on the floor in the other room. We hung blankets over the windows and put the oil stove in the middle of the room on top of the wagon seat. We had only one joint of stove pipe for the stove so we set it on the wagon seat so it would be higher. That made the pipe closer to the hole in the roof. The black smoke from the stove pipe rose straight up in a perfect circle and went out through the hole above it.

We brought in snow to melt to have water for cooking and for the horses. We intended to make it to Florida and needed the horses to take us there. I remember being so cold and miserable that I could not sleep. Everyone squirmed and moved around all night long. We moved on the next day, walking along in the snow. The wagon wheels sounded like violins squeaking. We found some hay in a field and fed the horses. It was Christmas Eve, 1909 and we were looking across a frozen landscape, there were no roads, no fences, and no trees. We were not lost because we knew we were headed east. As it got dark, we could see the lights of a town and headed in that direction. As we went over hill after hill, the lights did not get any closer. We finally saw a farmhouse about 11:00 at night. My father knocked on the door and asked how far the town was. The farmer was surprised to see us and asked what we were doing out on a cold night like this? He said the town was Las Animas and it was 8 miles away. These people were a young married couple named Maynard. They invited us in and we were warm at last! The wife was only 16 and Mr. Maynard laughed as he told us he "robbed the cradle". That was the first time I had ever heard that term. He had bought a box of chocolates for her for Christmas. He gave each one of us a chocolate. We had a wonderful Christmas.

Mr. Maynard got us a job excavating an irrigation ditch from the Purgatory River. He directed us to an old two story stone house on the river and we lived there until spring. Father used the team to work on the ditch. The farm was called the Carmen Ranch. She died not long after that. They were the nicest people I ever met.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Eldred B. Tresize Narative: Part 5 Leadville Fires

This is a narrative that covers the history of the family of Edward John Tresize and their immigration to America from England. It was originally posted on but is not avail. May have been posted by his children.

The second big fire that destroyed Leadville burned not only the hillsides and all the old houses and buildings, it also destroyed the Methodist Church that we attended. The church had a big tall steeple and the men later dynamited it to the ground. Even to this day, there are very few trees to be seen in the area because of the big fires that occurred in Leadville.

The fires were not the final blow, however. With the gold standard change over, the silver miners became tired, sick, and disappointed. They were hungry, ragged and destitute and began leaving the barren snow covered hillsides in droves by any means available. Most went by wagon since the train was too expensive. Four of the six railroads which came into Leadville were abandoned, leaving only two in operation to serve a town of less than 400 people. The Trezise family with nine kids were some of the last families to stay in the area. Our house at 514 East 9th Street in Leadville burned to the ground in 1903. We lost all of our belongings including pictures, picture albums, valuable papers, and money. We were left with only the clothes on our backs. Our close knit family split apart, not to get together again for over 40 years. John moved to California, Charlotte raised a large family in Oregon, Precie (Pricilla) moved to Sterling, Colorado and Polly and Fred moved to Missouri.

We packed up our few belongings in a covered wagon and were going to go to Florida. My father heard it was a land of sunshine and oranges. We got as far as Buena Vista, Colorado. We got there in the dead of winter. We stayed in Buena Vista and raised strawberries and potatoes. We sold the strawberries for 10 cents a quart and the potatoes for 25 cents a hundred pound sack. The five of us younger kids got to go to school there for four years. In the fall of 1908, we left in a covered wagon, determined to get to Florida. An early snow set in and covered the hills. The winter of 1909 - 1909 was one of the coldest ever recorded. We were not prepared for it. Our clothes were mostly rags and we did not have warm clothes to wear. We passed an orchard that had some frozen apples on the ground. I asked a boy at the farm house if we could have the apples and he said yes. We ate apples cooked over a camp fire in the cold. My father had a shot gun to bag a few rabbits along the way. I remember one evening we saw a tree with a bunch of black crows in it. My father shot and got six of them before they all flew away. They were cleaned and roasted for dinner. My little brother Tom was real skinny, like Lewis, and never seemed to get enough to eat. He did not get enough to eat until he joined the Army in World War I.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Eldred B. Tresize Narative Part 4 - Leadville Railroads

This is a narrative that covers the history of the family of Edward John Tresize and their immigration to America from England. It was originally posted on but is not avail. May have been posted by his children.

I remember some of the people who were our friends and neighbors. To name a few, there was Dora Baker, Hazel Olds, Big Mary, Little Mary, Pollywog, Whiskey Smith, Bug House Pete, Whirley Gig, Maddy Harmon, Molly Tobin, Oxelburg, and Clara Bond.

There was a kid who lived on the corner just a block from us. He was an ornery little brat and his name was Jack Diamond. He finally ended up getting sent to reform school but got in trouble again when he got out. He got in a lot of trouble in Chicago and was
later sent to prison. We always considered ourselves to be the good kids on the hill on East 9th Street. Hazel Olds mother chopped off her finger while splitting kindling wood. She lived across the street from us and always called me "Eddle". One of her boys was named Ted. Hazel later moved to Sterling, Colorado where my sister Precie lived and she became a school teacher. Dora Baker was a chunky little girl who was a wonderful piano player.

Raymond Bond and Dora Bond lived next door to the east of us. We had daily play school where Dora was the teacher. We learned to read and write from her. Some of the other kids did not go to school so our play school taught them a lot. Johnny Spargo and his brother were good friends of ours. John became a preacher and lived in Denver. Molly Tobin was a waitress in a restaurant and a clerk in the store. She married Johnny Brown and moved to Denver.

There were six railroads in town when we lived there. They were the Colorado Midland, Union Pacific, Colorado Southern, Rio Grande Western and were all narrow gauge railroads. The cars had to be unloaded there and reloaded into the wider gauge rails. Later, three rails were laid and most of the railroads had three rail tracks and all the cars had 2 knuckle couplers on each end, one for the narrow gauge and one for the standard wide gauge. Sometimes, a train would haul both narrow gauge and standard gauge cars at the same time. Railroads seemed to run all over the place. One kid we knew had a father who was an engineer on a switch engine. One day the locomotive he was operating derailed and overturned on a sharp curve. The steam pipes burst open and he was scalded to death. All of us kids ran down there to see the wreck but it left us with bad memories.

All of the kids ran together in gangs like the 7th street gang, the 8th street gang, the 9th street gang and the 10th street gang. Some were good and some were not so good. We belonged to the 9th street gang and we considered ourselves to be the good guys. One of the kids was a section foreman. We could get the extra hand car from a shed and pump it up and down and ride up and down the railroad track. We thought that was the best time ever! Occasionally, we would come across another hand car parked along side the track. It would have a bunch of lunch pails on it. The men would be working around the bend out of sight. We would eat all of the pie, donuts and cookies out of the dinner buckets then pump the hand car back down the tracks.

They did not have a lot of safety rules in those days. If they did, us kids did not know about them. They did not lock the tool sheds along side the tracks. One day we found a lot of torpedoes in a shed. They were about the size of a hamburger with tin straps on the sides. These straps were used to hold the torpedo on the rail. They were full of black powder and when they exploded, it sounded like a clap of thunder. We strung out a whole string of them along the rails and hid behind a pile of railroad ties. They were not creosote ties, just plain yellow wood. When the train came along, the torpedoes went off like cannon fire. "Bang, bang, bang!" The engineer and fireman hung their heads out the cab windows to see what was going on. It is a wonder they didn't get their heads blown off. The train slowed down real slow but did not stop. We stayed hidden behind the ties until the train was out of sight. Johnny Wahl, my sister Polly's stepson, got both his arms blown off at the elbows because of playing with those torpedoes.

We took one of the torpedoes home and put it on a big rock in back of the wood shed in our back yard. We set the torpedo on the rock and put a big rock on the sloping roof of the house and rolled the rock off the house. The first time we rolled the rock off, nothing happened. The second time, it exploded and shook the whole house. It scared all the neighbors. My mother had washed clothes all morning with a wash board in a big wooden tub. The whole back yard was full of clean clothes hanging on the line to dry. White bed sheets, pillow cases, shirts, dresses, overalls, all sorts of things. All of the clean clothes were blown full of holes. We kids ran and hid under a barn for the rest of the afternoon. We did not escape mother's wrath when we finally came home, however.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Eldred B. Tresize Narative: Part 3 Life in Leadville

This is a narrative that covers the history of the family of Edward John Tresize and their immigration to America from England. It was originally posted on but is not avail. May have been posted by his children.

My father, Edward, took the job of mine superintendent on April 10, 1898, at the Matchless Mine. Baby Doe Tabor was in charge of giving the gold pieces to my father so he could pay the miners. The miners were paid in $20.00 gold pieces once a month. My father would let me play with the gold pieces on the kitchen table while he figured the monthly payroll with all the windows and doors shut up tight.

A baby sister named Grace, after my mother, was born on January 24, 1901. My mother died of complications just three weeks after my baby sister was born. My mother is buried in the old cemetery in Leadville. My baby sister, Grace, died just a year later on February 15, 1902.

Macon the grocer died about the same time as my mother did. Helena married my father a short time later in Glenwood Springs, Colorado and brought into the family a little girl named Hazel. My father adopted Hazel and she took the name Trezise.

We used to play with the Tabor girls, Rosemary Echo, "Silver Dollar" was the dark haired girl and Elizabeth Bonduel "Lilly" was the blond. They lived with their mother at the Matchless mine. They used to ride a white horse down to our house to play with us. They went to school with us in Leadville.

I can remember my little brother Tom was playing with the cat one day. My mother told him to quit pulling the cat's tail and Tom replied, "I'm just holding his tail, the cat is doing all the pulling!"

There were always lots of kids to play with around our house in those early days. Every family had burros, donkeys or horses. I can remember playing "circus" and all the kids would bring their donkeys and pets and we had a lot of fun. The kids knew how to entertain themselves in those days.

We also worked and helped earn money for our families. I got to go down in the mine with my father several times. I worked hauling railroad ties and did odd jobs around town.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Decoration Day - Memorial Day

For as long as I remember Decoration Day weekend was a very special time for our family. First of all my brother Willard's birthday wa
s on the 30th so we could get together with family to celebrate. The Memorial Day holiday is a time to honor those who gave their lives in the service of our country. In our family we also had special remembrances of all our family members and friends who had passed before. The week before the holiday we would go to the nursery and pick op potted plants like geraniums, zinnias and and iris, sometimes even small rose bushes and other bedding plants if they were available. Back then, we were able to actually plant the flowers on the graves around the headstones. The grounds keepers actually kept them watered throughout the summer. During the week my parents would make plans for visiting the cemeteries at Sterling, and Otis Colorado.

Usually dad would work until noon on Saturday's and ,when we lived close to Sterling, we would go to Riverside cemetery in the afternoon to visit the graves of my dad's side of the family, the Dunn's. Riverside is a beautiful old cemetery with huge trees that were fully grown when I was small. We have old family pictures of my father's family visiting Riverside when there were only small trees and no shade.

There was almost a ritual to prepare the graves for planting. We would take all the plants out of the car and carry them to each location. Dad would then unload the planting soil, canvas tarp, garden tools, hand broom, rags and water. First, any weeds, stray grass or dead plant material was trimmed, pulled and removed. Then, the planting area was prepared and the potted plants were carefully removed from the pots and laid on their side on the canvas. Then the plants were placed in the hole that had been prepared with potting soil and water. After everything was planted, any debris was removed and the stones were lovingly cleaned and polished. Finally, everyone would reverently tell each resting loved one their private thoughts. After the tears. The trip home would be filled with stories and family memories.

Monday, May 23, 2011


This is a narrative that covers the history of the family of Edward John Tresize and their immigration to America from England. It was originally posted on but is not avail. May have been posted by his children.

My father, Edward, and Johnny dug a hole they called the "little Johnny" but no gold was found. They sunk another one nearby and called it the "Big Johnny Mine." They found silver but no gold. The same can be said of other miners in the area. No gold was found. The only gold that was found was in H. A. W. Taybor's mine, the Matchless Mine. He would invite famous people to Leadville because he was a senator. He would feed them a big banquet then take them into the mine and show them gold nuggets laying around. He was trying to get them to invest in his mine. One day, he had a group of investors in the mind and they were about to sign papers to buy the mine when a man came running up and said, "Looky, looky," his eyes were bulging out and he was excited. He had a gold nugget in his hand the size of a walnut. The men asked him where he found it and he replied,"right over there, and it wasn't there yesterday!" Tabor looked startled as the men turned and walked away and did not sign

Tabor's first wife did not like all of his crooked ways and divorced him. My stepmother, Helen, knew Baby Doe McCourt back in Glen Burnie, Maryland. They were girl friends at that time. They moved west together and lived in Davenport, Iowa. Helen married Macon while she lived there. They later followed the gold seekers to Colorado. First, they moved to Central City, then Breckenridge, and finally to Leadville where Macon went into the grocery business. My oldest sister, Polly, married a widower, Fred Wahl. He had a small son, Johnny. Polly and Fred opened a bakery business a few blocks away from Macon and his grocery store. When gold became the money standard in place of silver and the big bust came, they all went broke, along with everyone else. Horace Tabor married the good looking blonde McCourt woman.

Photo of Baby Doe's Home by Mo & Terry Smedley

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Narrative By Eldred Bennett Trezise:Part 1 Coming to America

As promised I am posting this story in a serial format. The story is a collection of memories written by my Grandmother Pricilla's brother Eldred. When I was growing up my parents and I visited him on numerous occasions. He had a very impressive train set up that seemed to fill his basement and had multiple trains running at the same time. He also was an accomplished painter. For my mother and father's 40th wedding anniversary he presented them a beautiful painting of the Rocky Mountains during aspen. The painting still hangs in our home. I want to give credit to the web site this is published on as it looks like one of Uncle Eldred's children originally posted it. The credit follows the post. Please respect the copyright of this material in this and all further portions of the letters.


The Trezise family originally came from Cornwall England and settled in Ishpeming, Michigan. My father, Edward John came over to the United States with a brother. He left his wife, Grace and four children in England while he searched for work and established himself in this country. The children left in England were: Elizabeth Mary (Polly) who was born 6/8/1881; Edward John who was born 12/13/1882 [should be 30 Aug 1883—SCM]; Priscilla Jane who was born 1/23/1885; and Charlotte Anne who was born 6/11/1886. A baby sister, Priscilla Anne was born on 9/2/1882 and died 12/13/1882. Edward worked for the Michigan Central Railroad. My father sent for my mother and brother and sisters and they came to Ishpeming. I was born in Ishpeming 11/23/1893. My brother, Lewis Henery was also born in Ishpeming on May 8, 1895.

Shortly after my brother Lewis was born, my father followed the Gold Rush to the Klondike in British Columbia. While there, he met a man named Johnny Brown and they became good friends. My father returned to Michigan and moved the family by covered wagon to Leadville, Colorado where it was rumored they had discovered vast veins of gold. Johnny Brown went to Leadville ahead of my father. The prospectors arrived in Leadville by the hundreds, until it became a metropolis of 14,000 people. Many were living in tents, shacks, dugouts, and lean-tos built of wood and canvas. All of the stories about the vast wealth to be found there was only half the truth. Many of the people there starved to death and died of malnutrition.

My sister, Dora Ellen was born while we were living in Adlaide Park near Alma, Colorado on March 8, 1897. Heating was done with wood and lighting with candles and oil lamps. A huge fire took place and wiped out the whole mountain side. The mountains were covered with thick timber at the time and the tents, shacks, lean-tos, sheds and houses all were consumed. The only part left was the downtown section. We lived in a house near the Matchless Mine when my brother Thomas Wesley was born on December 21, 1898.

One has only to walk through any of the six cemeteries located there and note the dates on the markers to realize how very young the people were when they passed away in those days. There were a few stories going around about someone striking it rich, including the Tabor family. If the Tabors had diamonds, jewels, mansions, and fantastic wealth, I did not see it. Horace Tabor died when I was only six years old and I do not remember a lot about him.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Things to Come - A Pioneer Story

The last few weeks have been hectic at work with training and working late but the ancestors are no respecters of our short sighted understanding of time. Even though I come home exhausted, they keep prompting me to log on and take a stroll into their world. This week was so exciting, I got a message from an member who had found a story written by my granduncle Eldred B. Trezise. This is a wonderful story of an adventurer and his family that starts in Cornwall England and ends up in Kansas, by way of Michigan, the Klondike, and gold and silver mines in Leadville Colorado.
Over the next few days I will share a piece of the story in each post so you can enjoy it. I hope by doing this we may find out who posted the narrative originally. Best guess right now is one of Eldred's children. So stay tuned for stories and pictures.
Until next post, I wish you peace and blessings.
Mary Ellen

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Family Reflections and Thanks

I would like to start out my post by thanking my lovely and talented granddaughter Natasha Smith for her "remodeling project" on the "Quilt". I just love it, you can see her own creation at her Blog Melted & Merged: The Smiths.

Over the past few weeks I have reconnected with one of my father's cousins, Robert Dunn. We had lost touch after my father passed about 10 years ago. We reconnected on and found we each had pieces of our family story that the other did not have.

He is a very creative photographer and had put together a photo retrospective of Ben Dunn's time in the Army during WWI.

Ben was an uncle of both Robert and my father Maynard. Cousin "Bob" had also transcribed Ben's letters to his family during his time in service. These letters gave me an opportunity to get to know more about him and my great-grandparents.

I received another treasure as well, a framed marriage certificate for my great-grandparent's (Mary Ellen Ramsey and Wilbur Dunn) wedding in 1887.
As soon as I get a photo taken of it I will share it as well.

Reconnecting with long lost relatives is a great earthly reminder that our Families are Forever. Don't let procrastination and and the fear of rejection or awkwardness stop you from reaching out to others and enjoying those blessings.
Till next time....Mary Ellen

Monday, January 31, 2011

Ancestry Approved Award for Our Family Quilt

A few days ago I was awarded the "Ancestry Approved" award by another genealogy/family history blogger. I am excited and honored to be recognized and given this award. Leslie Ann Ballou of "Ancestors Live Here" is credited with creating this award. The award is given for blogs that are "full of tips and tricks as well as funny and heartwarming stories...." One of the requirements of the award is to list ten things that "surprised, humbled or enlightened them about their ancestors." So, here is my list in no particular order.

My paternal grandparents Manly O. Dunn and Priscilla Jane Trezise homesteaded in Northeastern Colorado and did so living in a tent during brutal winter blizzards.

My maternal grandparents Andrew Jackson Loy and Clara Jones also homesteaded outside of Otis Colorado with 3 small children. They came from Columbus Indiana because my grandfather wanted to be a "Cowboy."

My paternal 4th great grandfather Russell Shaw 1781-1864 was the founder of Russellville Ohio.

Russellville Ohio was a route on the Underground Railroad.

Russell and his brother's built paddle boats on the Ohio river and once transported the young Abe Lincoln down the Ohio.

We have ancestors from the "Hatfield and McCoy" families.


A visiting dignatary was so impresed with my Grandmother Pricilla's work in the Methodist church in Sterling Colorado that he gave her a calf-skin robe that is now hanging in the Overland Trail Museum in Colorado.

My second great grand uncle Amberson Shaw, toured Europe with Buffalo Bill Cody's show.

Amberson and his wife Matola Bear Woman had a son who went on to become a minister on the Rosebud reservation.

Jacob Prickett, my fifth great grandfather knew George Washington and Prickett's Fort in Virginia was built around his home.

I hope this list inspires you to think about your own ancestor's stories.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

First Home Memories - Week 4

The Merino "Chicken Pickers"
According to my parents, they lived in several little places in the Merino Colorado area when I was first born. They referred to them as "beet shacks" since I was born in '54 and went through the '60's, I thought that they were talking about "Beat Shacks" and those of you that remember that time period would probably think the same thing.....a place where Beat-nick's hung around. When I got older, they set me straight. In Northeastern Colorado one of the major crops were sugar beets. So during harvest, the area would fill up with people coming to work in the fields and any shack, shed or small building that could be rented was put into use. They usually had little or no heat and very rural plumbing. I know my brothers suffered through a lot of winter ailments growing up. When I came along, my mom said I was always sick and they took me into town to stay where it was warmer.

I think the old grocery store that they rented was a pretty big place compared to some of the previous locations.
It looks pretty scary in the picture but it didn't look that bad back then. There were 2 big plate glass windows in the front and two windows in the attic. My "room" was behind the window on the left. Under the window was a hand made cedar chest that my oldest brother Doug made for me in high school shop class. I still have it and it is one of my most treasured possessions. On top of the chest sat my prized stuffed animals. Most of these my brother Willard won for me at the fair's and carnivals. My favorite was a big yellow elephant.

We had a dog named "bootsie" she was a bull terrier mix and was pretty old by the time I came along. I loved to dress her up in my petty coats, scarfs and sunglasses and try and get her to dance with me. She was always very patient with me and sat still, but I think she secretly longed for the old days when she would run the fields and down to the river with my brothers. On one of the dress up days, someone snapped a color picture of us posing in front of the old Phillips console radio. Doug carried the picture in his wallet all through his time in the service and long after. By the time I saw it, it was so creased it was hard to see it.

Over the years we have driven through Merino on many occasions and taken photos of the changes. I will post some in my upcoming posts.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Week 2 - 52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy - Winter Memories

I grew up in Colorado on the plains and later in the foothills. Winter was gray, snowy and cold. My earliest memories were of the first house I remember we lived in, it was an old grocery store in Merino. The only heat was a pot belly stove in the corner of the big space we used as living room. The space was originally the main part of the grocery store so it seemed huge! It was cold everywhere except in the corner where the stove was. This was in the late 50's so we were a little behind times. When it was time for a bath, my mom put an old wash tub in front of the stove and poured kettles of hot water into for warm bathwater. I think the rest of the family used a shower in the basement and there was no heat at all for them. My brother's had it much worse. They lived in the attic, no heat and lots of wind blowing through. We were always bundled up in layers of clothes and wrapped in old wool blankets some of them the same as the bright colored blankets with stripes that were traded to early Native Americans.

When I was a little older, I remember we lived in a house with a front yard that sloped to the curb. My brother Doug had a pizza kitchen so he brought home a large pizza pan for me to use as a sled to slide down the hill.

My favorite part of winter in Colorado were the Canadian Geese. They flew so low over the houses I used to think that if I climbed the roof of the house with a big fish net, I could catch them on the fly. They seemed so close that you could see the beautiful detail of the goose down on their bellies.

Finally of course, there is nothing more awe inspiring to see the beautiful Rocky Mountains covered in snow as you looked out your windows. It was magic.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

2011 Week 1 - New Year's Memories

Happy New Year everyone. May it be filled with many blessings!

Throughout the years the only tradition I remember about the new year was to gather together on New Year's day for family dinner. It was not usually elaborate, but it was enough for relaxing and watching the games on TV. Some of us would have resolutions we had made and we would talk about them, but it was mostly a time to regroup and get ready for the year to come.

14 years ago when my husband and I celebrated our first new year together, it was with his family in California. There was a wonderful meal prepared by his mother and a big gathering. The guys all went outside to toss the football and after dinner, family pictures were taken.

My husband always ponders the upcoming year carefully and makes a prediction of how he feels the year will turn out. Then he asks me what my thoughts are, at first I wasn't prepared for this but over the years I guess I grew into it. Now when he asks me, I add my feelings as well. I think it is a positive way to frame our attitude for the upcoming year. Of course, it is not always a positive outlook each year but at the end of our reflections, we always thank our Lord for our blessings and acknowledge that through his love we will "get through" whatever the new year brings as long as we stick together and support one another.

From our family to yours, we hope the coming year brings all you hope for.