A journey from 1891-Post 5

Personal update

I’m here

Most of you know our family was hit with a devastating diagnosis this past year. My husband was diagnosed with brain cancer. That said, after two craniotomies, radiation together with low dose chemo, and now cycles of the highest dose of chemo, he is doing remarkably well. For this cancer, there is no cure. There is treatment and he is responding quite well, better than most for a 71 year old man. It has been difficult for me to focus on much other than his care–some days I’m pretty shaky–but I’m here. Stable is a very good place to be, and that is how we describe his path thus far. So, how about a little genealogy?

Autograph book from 1891

The Smith Family

I began this series last year about an autograph book my mother found in her genealogy trunk.  The first entry was written in 1891, and to our amazement, the book traveled from Wisconsin before landing in Oregon. The book’s owners, Charles Smith and his wife Maria Bixby Smith, likely handed the book to their oldest son Alfred Josiah Smith, who passed it to his daughter, Orah Smith Butterfield, then on to my grandma Lalla Marie Butterfield Geier Haggie, to my father Rod Geier, and then to my sister and me. The book is in remarkable condition, considering.

I’ve shared each post in the order they appear in the book. If you’d like to read the first four posts, you can find them HEREHEREHERE, and HERE.

Up next is Walter A. Hall, the Smith’s pastor. What I remember about my grandma and her family is that they were staunch Methodists. At one time, my father considered studying to be a Methodist minister. Great grandma Orah was a firm believer, possibly reflected in her unwavering, do-or-die parenting when dad was growing up. Grandma Lalla played the piano at her Methodist church in Tacoma for many years, and I believe when she no longer played, the family piano was donated to their beloved church.

That the Smith’s pastor signed their book affirms my suspicion that faith ran deeply and was a big part of this family. I am guessing he was also their friend.

His signature reads as follows:

“May you always know and ever more fully too, “which is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe.” 

Your pastor, Walter A. Hall, Stevens Point, Oct. 21st, 1903

pastor walter a hallMy author contributor/partner-in-crime Susan was able to retrieve a news clipping about Walter A. Hall. Printed in the Stevens Point Journal in 1902, the below article describes Hall as the pastor of the St. Paul’s Methodist Episcopal church in Stevens Point in 1903. We are guessing this is the same man.

hall_walter a_pastor at Stevens Pt church WI_1902_stevens point journal_sphelps

“He will endeavor to show what is the right attitude towards our brothers and sisters in this world. Attitude determines motive, while motive in turn shapes conduct. A true Christian neighborliness would solve all questions of industry and of state.” 

Given today’s political climate, this entire country may have found benefit from that sermon. I delved a bit further into what the article revealed about Pastor Hall’s interests. Below is a short description of the two groups he preached to that early March day in 1902.

Modern Woodmen of America

“The society’s principal purpose is to pro-vide substantial death benefits for the widows, orphans and other dependents of deceased members, and for this purpose it issues to accepted members policies or certificates of insurance, and incidentally affords valuable fraternal privileges and advantages to all its members while living.” 

The link will not post correctly, so I will state this quote comes from Illinois genealogy dot org, and the page is rock-island/societies/modern_woodmen_of_america.

Royal Neighbors of America

“Royal Neighbors of America is the largest fraternal life insurance society administered by women. Founded as a ladies’ auxiliary group to Modern Woodmen of America on December 5, 1888, in Council Bluffs, Iowa, Royal Neighbors of America was chartered as a fraternal benefit society on March 21, 1895, by a group of nine Illinois women. At the time, women didn’t have the right to vote, few were educated, and even fewer owned property. The group’s initial goal was to provide insurance products for under served women. The administrative structure and leadership of Royal Neighbors of America was run by women, many of whom were also involved with the suffrage movement.”


I’m proud to know my ancestors were associated with and likely influenced by such a compassionate and forward thinking pastor. We can only guess, but these snapshots of their lives lead me to believe the Smiths were a strong lot.

Do you know which churches your ancestors were affiliated with, and if so, how deeply their faith affected their lives?

Tidbit from the last post

Do you know?

Autograph books, originally used to collect signatures, were at the height of their popularity during the Civil War. Do you know which modern day book is now considered the replacement for the former autograph book?

Next: A post from 1894, Charles Albert Smith

Thank you for reading. ❤

  1. I agree—we need more civility, more understanding in today’s world. We sure have devolved into a terrible society of hate and division.

    Glad to hear you and your husband are hanging in there. You’re in my thoughts.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Devolved is right; we are so much better than this. Thanks for your kind thoughts. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  2. miltoncampbell27 May 25, 2019 at 8:05 pm

    So I have a couple of hymn books that were used by Juanita (May Cone) and her mother (August M Cone), as they too played piano in church. My great grandfather DeWitt R Cone was ordained Brethren back in Nebraska. When they came to Tacoma there were no Brethren Churches so they joined the Methodist Church. Mom was in the cradle roll at Asbury, Mom and Dad were married there, as was Virginia and George, and Patricia and Don.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This is wonderful, Cuz. I also love looking at old family bibles that sometimes contain pertinent genealogical info. Even those that don’t are a wonderful reminder of the significance they held for that person. I wish I could have heard Lalla play piano. Dad recalled she played often in the house on K Street when the extended family came for holiday dinners. Orah wrote of this in her letters. Those must have been wonderful times. 🙂


  3. Thank you for letting us know how your husband is doing. I’ve been wondering. It was great to get another autograph book post, with lots of good contextual information. I enjoyed it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you. I am here and hope to post more very soon. Thank you for your kind words and for stopping by. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I remember, of course, this series on the autograph book. I have to say I somehow missed the news on your husband’s health – my thoughts are with you and your family on this part of life’s journey. As for the autograph book and post…what a blessing this book with your story survived. Welcome back 🙂 Sharon

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    1. Thank you, Sharon. Your kind thoughts mean a lot. Yes, that book brings many smiles when thinking of its history and content. We are blessed it made such a long journey. Thanks for stopping by. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I took dancing lessons in the Neighbors of Woodcraft Hall in Portland in the late 1950’s. I never knew who they were until I read this post. My grandfather was an Episcopal priest, so I know I was influenced by him. He christened me.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Elizabeth. Yes, I’d never heard of either group until I read that news clip. What a lovely story about your grandfather. The ministers in our clan go way back, but there were several and no doubt their influence filtered down the line. 🙂

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      1. The more genealogy I do, the more I find the importance of faith in my lineage with the main exception of my parents! When I found all these faithful ancestors, I felt more at home with my religious devotion.

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        1. How our ancestors’ lives, habits, beliefs, behaviors and much more affect us now is highly interesting to me. How lovely to discover a connection of faith with your ancestors. Somehow it completes the circle.

          My mother handed me an article last week titled, The way you speak was shaped by what your ancestors ate. Imagine! I may have to delve a bit into that one. 🙂

          Liked by 3 people

          1. That’s wild. I do know that when you take a quiz about word usage you can tell a lot about your influences. I use language like someone from Buffalo, New York, my mother’s home town, not mine.

            Liked by 1 person

            1. Yes, and having been in dentistry for many years, I took an interest in Dr. Weston Price, DMD many years ago. He thought outside the box, and while not shunned from his peers, wasn’t fully accepted by them, either. He studied the diets of those living in island communities and realized that it wasn’t until the Western diet was introduced did the children in those areas develop cleft lip, cleft palate, and decay. It was fascinating. Children before the Western diet didn’t have these issues, but those born after eating the Western diet showed all sorts of dental problems.

              It would be interesting, too, to take that quiz.

              At any rate, after reading mom’s article, I feel this topic might make a fantastic blog post. We’ll see. 🙂

              Liked by 2 people

              1. That is fascinating. I had no idea about that.

                Liked by 1 person

                1. I didn’t either and likely never would have had I not been in dentistry. There is a Weston Price foundation which runs today. I truly feel he was onto something with diet.

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    2. My dad was an Episcopal priest! He was still in seminary when I was born, but he christened my brother. He also performed the marriage ceremony for my husband and me.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Hi, Liz. How wonderful to have your father perform your special day’s ceremony. Just lovely. That, and that he christened your brother. I love reading about families and how faith did or did not influence our growing up years. Both of my grandmothers were devout in their faith and that is something I’ll never forget. My parents took the attitude of “let them decide for themselves,” for which I am grateful. I take comfort in the knowledge that my ancestors were faithful and that their faith was a huge part of their lives. 🙂

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      2. My grandfather could never decide between the clergy and the university. He ended up doing both. I posted his biography on my blog under genealogy.

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        1. Fabulous. I’ll bet he was a fascinating person to be around. My dad actually began his studies to be a minister–I think for about a year or so–but stopped for various reasons. He chose instead to pursue Journalism, writing being something at which he excelled. He then many years later went into Real Estate, which he loved. It was an interesting path, but he did what he loved. 🙂 Will check the biography.

          Liked by 2 people

          1. I treasured the times I got to spend with him though he lived in Buffalo and we were in Oregon.

            Liked by 1 person

            1. I was lucky. My grandparents and cousins all lived in WA and we lived in Oregon so we saw them maybe more than most see their relatives. On both sides of the family, mine was the only one living in Oregon, all the rest were in WA so it was usually us who made the drive. I loved those trips.

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              1. We drove across the U.S. several times to see our grandparents. That way I saw many National Parks.

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                1. The best type of family vacation in my opinion. My husband’s parents did these type of vacations as well.

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  6. Welcome back! Wonderful post. The Rev. Hall was a prolific speaker. Other newspaper articles attest to the fact that he was also a beloved minister. Glad to see him getting some recognition.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you! It feels great to be here and delve further into the lives of our people. I’m still amazed the autograph book is 128 years old! I am not surprised what you revealed above about pastor Hall. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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