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Posts from the ‘Family Friday’ Category

Henry Spinke from Saint Mary’s City, Maryland

The Spinke (It has been shorten to Spink) family has had a long running familiarity with the Jesuits. Henry was born in 1621. He was born after the expulsion of Catholics by Queen Elizabeth, and being Catholic was very dangerous. Many Catholics lost their lives through Martyrdom. There were always pockets of Catholics in hiding, finding ways to keep the faith that had become a fabric of their very existence.

Cecil Calvert would become a becon of hope for Catholics in England. His father George worked for the King James I. George worked as Secretary, and as such he tried to secure a marriage between the Spanish Princess and the Prince. An agreement for marriage between the two could not be made, so George vacated his post as Secretary. George also converted to his original religion of Catholicism. When he was younger he was forced to become Anglican. King James granted the land that is Maryland to George. This is a quit a feat, with conflicts brewing daily like a tornado from all sides the King gives land to a Catholic. George was also given Princely rights, which allow one to raise an army, collect taxes, make laws, and give land to whomever he wishes. When establishing this new land he creates a charter that allows people to worship they way they wish. Neither Catholic or Protestant would be the dominate.


The house pictured is where Henry was born. It is the Wakemans house. The Wakemans house is the keeper of  law and order. Religious affiliation could be deadly, so the Spinke family sailed to the “New World”.

Henry goes on to Marry Eleanor Edwards, and the two of them had 7 children Ann, Thomas, Elizabeth, Henry, Edward, William, and Francis. Through the family line the names Xavier, Francis, and Ignatius repeat. Showing us the association to the Jesuits.

J & J Cellars

Just the other day as we were driving home we stopped at one of the many wineries around our home in San Luis Obispo. There was a case sale. While living in the Bay Area we often went to visit the Napa Valley, and there we would go to visit wineries. I so enjoyed hopping to a new vineyard and taking a relaxing country drive. Now, we are living in SLO. This was our first winery since living in SLO. IMG_2072

We were greeted immediately by people, and even the dog was happy to see us. We chatted with the owners, and there were others visiting. My husband I enjoy a nice rose’ in the summer. The Rose’ they had to offer was crisp, and would be perfect for a hot summer day or even some excellent chicken dishes.

We also tested a Cuvee. I really enjoyed the Cuvee, and we ended up buying a case of that wine too. I walked around and took a few photographs of the establishment.

Super Special Aunts

Yep! This is the 1970’s. I am in the photo, the little one in the blue dress. My Aunt Sharon is getting married, the tallest one in the blue is Aunt Tink, and Aunt Mary is the lady that is the second to the end. So, what is so special about them? Well, just sit back and allow me to tell you. scan0006

We were lucky that we lived pretty close to Aunt Mary, so we saw her at least once a week. Many Sunday dinners were eaten at the kids table. We spent many weekends with Aunt Mary, my sister and cousin would all sleep on the fold out couch. Sometimes we would break the rules and watch “Mission Impossible” I hated that show, but those were the days that we only had 4 channels. We would laugh so hard at the hair styles of the actors. Sometimes Aunt Mary would have to get up and tell us to stop laughing so hard. She would remind us that Uncle E would have to get up for work really early. He did get up early. I don’t know about my cousin or sister, but I would peek in the morning as Aunt Mary would lovingly make breakfast and coffee. She would talk softly to Uncle E, thinking we were asleep. She would pack his lunch, and send him to work with a peck on the cheek. I would just sigh. Longing to have a sweet relationship when I got old enough to get married.

We did some apple picking with Aunt Mary too. We were in the back of a pick up truck (when it was still legal) we stopped on the road side and picked green apples. Oh, they were so good. The sweet tender taste would just explode in your mouth. I could not get enough, and quickly learned why eating a crap load of green apples is not good. No apples I have had since that time have ever measured up to those.

To this day a sun symbol still reminds me of Aunt Mary, she used to have one of those giant sunburst clocks from the early 70’s. She is still super crafty, and can make just about anything.

Aunt Tink, I think my other cousins refer to her as Aunt Tink too. Why Tink? Okay, I am not 100% sure of the validity of this story or if I made it up over the years…When she was a baby she was so adorable that my grandfather referred to her as “Tinkerbell”, it was then shortened to Tink by her brothers and sisters. Sounds good to me.

We would get to spend two weeks of our summer with Aunt Tink. She lived in West Virginia, and out in the country. We had to use our imaginations while staying in the country. There was still no cable in those days…We caught frogs, made things from the clay soil, helped hang clothes out on the clothes line, went swimming, horseback riding, and hiking.

One time we went hiking in the woods, it was my sister, and two other cousins. We happened to see a baby skunk. We took a stick and poked at the skunk, and he was alive. We ran off, and were pretty proud of ourselves for making sure that the skunk was alive. Aunt Tink told us that we were lucky that the skunk did not spray us. She said we would have had to stay in the garage in a tub of tomato juice. Eeek! The thought of being in tomato juice that I could not drink was too much for me. I did not want to go around another skunk again.

Aunt Tink was super inventive too. She took a huge sheet of plastic and put it on her hillside. We had more fun sliding down that plastic. Slip and Slide was freaking lame!!! We had a whole hillside to enjoy. My sister would never go down the hill. The rest of us ran and dove on the plastic. Damn, that was fun.

Then there is Aunt Sharon. Every time I see a fast car I think of her. She was the dare devil! She drove fast, and did things that other Aunts would not dare do. We went to see the fireworks for the fourth of July one year, and it was hot an miserable. All of us kids, there were 5 or 6 of us in a Jeep. We were starving. We went to McDonalds, and drive throughs were not very advanced back then. We waited and waited for the people to get our order correct. They could not get our order correct, and Aunt Tink and Aunt Sharon were trying to hand the food out to us, but they gave us fish fillet. There was more whining, and Aunt Sharon lost it. She went into the food establishment and cussed those people out in the there. We were not suppose to be listening to all the words Aunt Sharon was saying when she was telling Aunt Tink what happened. Aunt Sharon then said she was going to get some resolve. She did, and it was super funny. We were not allowed to talk about it again. Sometimes passing a McDonalds brings a chuckle up into my chest about the whole ordeal.

She also had the coolest house with buttons. Everyone else had regular lights, but she had buttons all over her house. She moved to Tennessee, and married a man she loves very much. Now, she is probably out speeding in her boat, so watch out if you live in Tennessee.

My Aunts have helped formed me into the person I am today. The experiences I had with them when I was in my most formative years are treasured moments of my life that no one can ever take away from me. I have only shared a few of the stories that have made such an impact on me. My kids love hearing the stories, and there are those I can share now, then there are some that will have to wait until they are much older. When the kids are too old to do some of the things I did when I was young.

Osburn Wilson Gray

Osburn was born December 31st 1833. He lived in a town that was named by his father, Graysville. It is in Floyd County, Virginia. He was from a family that had some money. His family was the first in the area to have a two story brick house. They built a grist mill, made furniture, including coffins for the town, and they had their own Inn.

Since the Inn was by a road they had many visitors that would stay at the Inn. One day while they were going to clean out a room they found a black woman hiding in the Inn. Her name was Mary, and she was a runaway slave. She was pregnant, so they brought her into their home. Mary had her baby, and named the baby Hazel. Although Osburn’s family did not have slaves his Uncle did. His Dad and Uncle would often argue about having slaves, and what was the moral thing to do. His Uncle purchased slaves off the auction block because he thought it would help give them a better opportunity. His Uncle would have the slaves work until they worked off the money he spent for them. He also had a school for the slaves, and his neighbors did not like that his Uncle was teaching the slaves how to read, math, and how to write.

He married Rebecca Otey when he was 21. The two of them are pictured below. He would soon have a baby girl Eliza Jane. In 1861 the Civil War broke out, and it is no surprise that Osburn or any of his family believed in succession. Even though his Uncle purchased slaves his father thought it was best to stay away from the auction block all together. Personally, I would think it would be a conundrum. On one hand you could help give some people a better life by giving them their freedom after they worked off their debt. If you do buy a human being then you are giving into the chain of supply and demand. In 1858 he has another baby girl Lucy, she only lived for 5 months. Rebecca died in the same year in July. In 1860 he remarried, this time to Lucy Ann Pendleton. When the census was taken in 1860 he was either not married yet, or Lucy dies in 1864. Osburn and Lucy have 2 children Mary B. Gray and Joseph (Joe) Gray.GR147

1861 when the order was placed on all men to volunteer the Gray families did not comply with the order. Osburn was captured in 1864, and was “pressed” into service. He then fled to Ohio. He was captured  May 23rd and put into prison in Ohio on Johnson Island.

In 1862 to 1863 he spent time in the Salt Sulfur Springs Hospital. He had a bill of $8.75. He did not pay the bill until Feb. 17 1865.

The was another wife that I just learned of today. Rebecca Strotter, he must not have been married to her for very long. I will have to investigate further to see what happened to this Rebecca.

In May 1871, he sold his interest in his father’s estate, purchased a team of horses and covered wagon, and leaving two of his children, Eliza and Joseph, with his father in Floyd County, set out with the balance of his combined families for the Great Kanawha Valley in West Virginia. Arriving at Gauley Bridge, Fayette County, West Virginia, with his finances at a low ebb. He occupied a tennant house on the farm of a uncle, John Gray, on Cane Branch and took employment as a laborer in one of the construction gangs then building the Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad in that vicinity.

A year or two later he left the young children Mary, James, John, Dennis, Louisa, and Sallie in the care of his Uncle John and his wife  Eliza Jane and moved to a rented farm near Kesler’s Cross Lanes in Nicholas County, West Virginia. He and Eliza would go on to have 5 more children Martha, William, Asa, Byron, and Augustus. Milton would come in the 1880’2, and the youngest child is Herbert.

Not making much of a  success at farming, in 1884, he moved his family to Coal Valley (now Montgomery), West Virginia and enered the employment of the Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad. In the last years of his life he was employed by Samuel Dixon, a prominent coal operator, as general repairman at his coal mine at Longacre, West Virginia

Eliza dies in 1900 and in one of the sporadic outbreaks of smallpox which was still fairly common in those days, he contracted the disease and died in 1902. He was buried in an unmarked grave in the old grave yard at Smithers, West Virginia.

William E. Doyle and Clarissa Pittman

William was born inIndiana in 1856 and Clarissa was born in Ohio in 1858. I believe the census says that Williams father was a farmer. It is a little difficult to read.  The father of Clarissa was Peter, and he was also born in Ohio. He is listed as a farmer in 1860, and the house they owned was worth $50.00. Her mother was Christina, and she was originally from Pennsylvania. By the time Clarissa was 10 she was living in Brown County, Indiana. Interestingly enough, they Pittman family were not recognized as any race in particular while they lived in Ohio, yet in Indiana they are identified as White. Their home value is now 1200.500

The two were married in 1883 in Bartholomew County Indiana. The two of them had 6 children.


James Preston Fizer

James was my great, great grandfather. He was born May 19th 1860, in Hurricane West Virginia. One saving grace about being so young during the Civil War was he did not have to fight in such a horrible war. His father did have to serve, so that meant that Margaret had to stay home with three of the children. Margaret also had to watch a few of her own boys go to war.

When he turned 18 he married Mariah Gordon Persinger…there is a town story about her.



James Preston Fizer – Mariah Gordon Persinger and Warper Willow


It is reported that James came from Petersburg, Virginia and that his kinfolk came from Danville, Virginia but there is no proof of this. James was born May 19, 1860 to Peter and Margaret Fizer in Putnam County, West Virginia. His mother’s maiden name may have been Roberts. (it was)


He married Mariah Gordon Persinger on November 23, 1878 at the age of 18. Their children were John Washington, George Leonard, Ephraim Ezra, and Emma, who married Matthew Lovejoy. Most of all his people, it seems, and red hair.


James was a tobacco farmer in Virginia and loved music.


When Mariah died, he married a second time. The second wife’s name was Mary Arthur and they were divorced. He married a third time to a woman with the last name of Craft. They had one girl, Marie.


James died in March 1942 and is supposed to be buried at Persinger Cemetery in Hurricane West Virginia.


Mariah Gordon Persinger was born in Craig County, Virginia about the year 1862. The name of her parents is unknown. Her mother’s maiden name may have been Tingler and her father may have been S W Persinger. She Had three brothers – Jake, Joan, and Russell. (Her dad was George Washington Persinger Sparrowhawk and her mother was Mary Tingler.)



Mariah was lost when her family was crossing the Alleghenies. The family didn’t notice her missing until they had traveled a considerable distance.They went back looking for Mariah but didn’t find her at first. While they were looking for her, the family was attacked by the Indians. During the fight, the Indians captured Jake later to be known as or per Willow. Mariah was found in the family had to run for their lives and let the Indians take Jake.


Mariah married James Preston Fizer on November 23, 1878 in Cabell County West Virginia by C. E. Harbour. She was 16 years old when she was married.


She died when she was 32 in either Putnam or Cabell County’s while the family was moving to cocoa, Kanawha County, WV.


Walker tried to escape from the Indians. It was winter and there was snow on the ground. The Indians had no problem tracking him through the snow. Or per head to get a good lead, so he took off running down the hill and in front of him was a large pile of brush that was covered by a layer of snow. He took a leap into the pile of brush and then, using the brush as a springboard, he jumped a long way down the hillside. The Indians came to the spot where the track sanded on the pile of brush and raise their hands and arms haven’t said the great white spirit and taken him. Later, he was captured again. The white folks went to Recapture Jake and somehow they did. Some men were bringing him back to the family and they came to a place where there was a big barn dance being held. They stopped at the dance and tied up their horses and Warper. Some curious boys were watching warper and they untied him some curious boys were watching warper and they untied him. Warper took off like a shot. A man en garde saw him running away and took off after him on horseback. Warper outran the horse for a short distance and would have got away if it had not been for the rope still tied around his neck. The rope flew up and the horsemen called it. He got warper under control and returned with him.


Warper was nine years old when the Indians first captured him. When his own people recaptured him, he was 19 years old. From the time he was first captured by the Indians until the time he was returned to his people, he hadn’t grown an inch. After about three years, he was to his normal size.


Submitted by: Reese Ross

The above information was posted on

I added the photos for reference, and additional information.



Joseph William Doyle

Joseph was one of the first ancestors that I started to research while I was high school sophomore. I looked up Doyle, and it means “dark strangers”. I remember then looking up the origins of being a “dark stranger”. The Doyle ancestors were not found too far back in history of Ireland. In 795 AD the Dubhghaill’s (or Doyle ancestors) arrived in Ireland. They came in long boats from Denmark, Sweden, and Norway originally. Since these lands were becoming overpopulated some farmers and fishermen took to the sea. First, they were trying to make a living, and then greed started to bewitch them. They became pirates, and plundered their way around the world. In 795, they made the decision to embark on Lambay Island, they slaughtered the monks, and took all the gold and silver they could find.  The Dubhghaills were a part of Ireland.

So, there we have it…Joseph was Irish, but we heard through the family that he was Native American. He does look it too.

Joseph was born July 2nd 1883 in Brown County, Indiana. By the time he was 16 he moved to Indianapolis, Indiana. He was the oldest of 6 children. His father William was from California, and this is the destination that must have been on his mind because he would move there later in life and die in San Bernardino County, CA. 1903 he marries Amber Alice Cook, and 1904 Opaline Esther Doyle is born. We find that Joseph and Amber are still married in 1910. He is now an employer, and contractor. Joseph and Amber are renting, but they are business owners.  In 1917 he was drafted into service for World War I. In 1920 he is single, and living back at home with his mom and dad. He is a contractor, and carpenter. During the year of 1919 Alice is remarried to Mr. Harrington. He works on the railroad. I am not clear where they met or why Joseph was cut out of the picture. Things are looking up for Joseph by 1930. He owns a home that is worth 3500 dollars. He was remarried to Mary F. Burch in Feb. of 1921. 1942 he joins in with the fighting of World War II. After this time I can not find him in any Census,  I believe he goes moves to California at this time. He dies in California  in 1964.

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Opaline Esther Doyle Spink

A photo of my grandmother when she was young. If I did not know this was my grandmother, I would think it was my aunt. My aunt Jo looks so much like her mother. I am amazed. I have heard a commercial that our ancestors are a reflection of us. This photograph really could be a mirror reflection of my aunt.

Opaline was born in 1904 on May 31st. Her mother was Amber Alice Cook, and her father was Joseph Doyle. She was an only child. Joseph left the house, and Amber Alice Cook remarried. By the time Opaline was 16 she is listed as married, but living in the same home with her mother and step father Mr. Harrington. Opaline at the time worked in a candy factory. I could not find the name of the candy factory where she worked, but it could not have been far from downtown Indianapolis since she lived in Haughville. Since it was in the 1920’s I am guessing she may have walked to work. Horses were still in service for milkmen to deliver milk to the customers that ordered it. I doubt that the they had a car in the 1920’s.



Opaline would go on to marry three times. She had 14 children. Many of us grandchildren would often speculate over the number. Why so many children? My conclussion was she was lonely. Since she was an only child, and her father left when she was young maybe she felt abandoned. Having a full house helped her feel needed.

In 1930 she has two daughters, and is married to Otto Watson. Otto worked as a laborer. By 1940 she has four daughters, and is a widower. She is renting a home at 518 N. Miley.

By 1945 Opaline is married to Russell Spink, and they will have Mary Jo, Jim, Henry, Henrietta, and Frank. I am not sure what happened to 5 of the children. Maybe it was that she counted every pregnancy.

I know all the Watson girls went to live with another relative. I am sure this was really hard on the the youngest girls. I am not judging, people have their own reasons for doing what they do. People also have different expectations when entering a relationship. Opaline had no career of her own, it was the 1940’s. As much as this may have been seen as a clean slate, it must have caused some animosity, and hindered relationships between the Spink and Watson children. Just as Opaline felt abandoned, some of her girls would have the same feelings.

It is never easy being a mom! No mater what day and age we live in we have to make hard choices that we have to live with for our lives. As we talk to our parents and grandparents we have to remember that the choices they made were more than likely very hard ones. We have no idea how many tears they hid from us to make our lives a little easier.


Nolan Gray

Uncle Nolan was one of those people that died too young. He was only 26 when he drowned in the river. I don’t remember much about him, but I do remember the heartbreak my dad felt when he talked about his older brother. It really chokes me up to think about it.

He was a handsome guy. Sandy brown hair, very tall and athletic. In one of favorite photos of him he is lying with a little dog Cleo. The two of them are lying on the couch, and Uncle Nolan doesn’t fit on the couch. Cleo looks very comfy as Uncle Nolan scratches his tummy.  Cleo, was my grandmothers chihuahua.

Uncle Nolan and my dad used to play baseball until the sun went down. Swim in the river all summer long, and get into all kinds of mischief. Tell secrets to each other as they walked miles up hills everyday to get to school. When one of them would lose their gloves they would share the gloves for the long walks home.

Uncle Nolan worked at Quantico, Virginia for the Marine Corps. He worked as a game warden, and ranked as a sergeant. He in a boat with one other game warden. The boat capsized and Uncle Nolan could not make it to shore, but the other man survived.

We have to live everyday to the fullest. Forgive the people you feel anger toward, anger isn’t good for anyone. Remember the good, forgive the bad, and move forward with purpose!


Minerva Jane Snodgrass

My great grandmother was not the first one to have the same name. Her Aunt also had the name, but she died when she was very young. The Snodgrass family had some interesting names. Leading me to believe that someone in the family was a reader of the classics. Minerva was the Roman Goddess of wisdom. It wasn’t a popular name at the time that Minerva was named, yet her parents gave her such a heavy name. Ironically, the mother of Minerva was America.


Minerva was born May 15th 1890. She and her sister Mary were married on the same day to the Fizer brothers. George Leonard Lewis Fizer was married to Minerva. Minerva died of hypertension on May 17 1954.MinervaJaneSnodgrassFizer