My First Computer

My first home computer was a VIC-20 when I was in high school, circa 1980-1981. The monitor was a small TV I had in my room. I had a cassette tape drive for storing programs. I went through the handbook that came with it and taught myself programming in BASIC.

A VIC-20 and cassette tape drive like the one I had. Courtesy Wikimedia.

My second computer was a Commodore 64 with a 5.25″ floppy drive. Big time! I wrote programs (still in BASIC) that did astronomical calculations I learned about in Astronomy class. Once, I typed in this huge long program from a computer magazine because I wanted to switch my keyboard to a Dvorak layout; I don’t know if I mistyped a character or didn’t have enough computing power, but it never worked.

At that time, I should point out, the only computer-related course in high school was Computer Math, and you had to have algebra and probably something else complicated to take the class. I couldn’t understand why math was necessary to use a computer. I still can’t do math, and I get along just fine with my PC.

Screenshot from the game Taipan!

I took an Introduction to Computers class in college, but I already knew everything, because they were teaching BASIC, and I had learned it all from my practice on the VIC-20. The class used TRS-80 computers. I didn’t want to be a programmer (maybe my sad experience with the Dvorak keyboard effort put me off). I wanted to use programs written by other people. I remember spending some of my time in the computer lab playing a game called Taipan. (Note: I just found it online and whiled away about two and a half hours.)

For home, I bought a text-based computer game, which a co-worker recently looked up based on my description and determined was probably Zork. All I remember is I ran into some creatures called – or described as – rat-ants and they had something I needed, but no matter what I tried, they wouldn’t give it to me, so I gave up.

My dad was in the Navy and had some experience with computer interconnectivity, and he suggested I should have a modem. He said I could use it to talk to other people with computers. I couldn’t even comprehend how I could find these people and why I would want to communicate with them. I said I didn’t think I needed one.

What I really wanted was a word processor. I bought the software, but it was very simple, as you can imagine. My biggest problem with it, though, was that it didn’t have true extenders; the letters all had to fit within the same shape, and it made the text really hard to read.

I ended up using Windows PCs at a couple of jobs I had, but it was about 1993 or 1994 that I got a Windows PC of my own, picked up one of those free AOL CDs, and came to appreciate the uses of a modem!

Now, I never do any programming, but I use the internet all the time, of course, and I use the computer for writing letters (on those rare occasions that I write a letter); scanning, saving, and repairing old photos; maintaining a family tree; and making notes for stories that I hope to get around to writing someday.

My old VIC-20 and Commodore 64 are somewhere in my old bedroom at my mom’s house, in their original boxes. Back when I was using them, I couldn’t have imagined everything I do with computers today, much less writing a blog to share my thoughts with other people who have computers at home.

VIC-20 Photo is from Wikimedia. I cut away a portion of another old computer in the background.

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#52Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Health

I’m a week late finishing this post that’s part of Amy Johnson Crow’s 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks project. I usually end up writing my posts, or finalizing them, on Sunday, one day before the new topic comes out.

Last Sunday, I sliced my finger on a box cutter. It wasn’t too deep, but it bled kind of a lot, and it was right on the knuckle. My husband helped me clean it and put on a Band-Aid, but I figured I needed to let it heal before I had to type all day at work on Monday.

Bamboo cutting board with serrated knife on top.
A knife like this one can slice a finger pretty well.

It reminded me of another time I sliced my finger. A few years ago, I had strained a tendon in my right wrist, and after giving it a good year to get well on its own, I had surgery. Two weeks after the operation, I had my stitches out. A day or two after that, I decided to make a ham sandwich for lunch before my mom picked me up to drive me to physical therapy. As I sliced the ham, I noted to myself that I was holding the ham the wrong way. If the knife slips, I thought to myself, I’m going to cut my finger off. I didn’t change how I was holding the ham, and the first slice was completed without bloodshed. I started cutting the second slice and the knife slipped. I was using one of those big serrated never-needs-sharpening-and-will-cut-right-through-a-nail knives, but I did not cut my finger off. I think the bone probably stopped it. I didn’t want to go to the hospital, because I figured they’d want to stab it 85 times with a needle and then put stitches in. I picked up the knife off the floor (thank you, Lord, for not letting it stab my foot), then washed the finger with soap and water. Then I put hydrogen peroxide on. Then alcohol. Then triple antibiotic ointment. Then I bandaged it. Then I called my mom and said she needed to come a few minutes early to help me get dressed. When I arrived for PT, there I was sitting with both hands propped up, and my mom filling out the forms for me, when we get to a question that went something like, “Do you have trouble using utensils?” and I busted out laughing!

I’ve been fortunate with my health. Those wrist surgeries and having my wisdom teeth out have been my only surgeries. My mom says I was almost never sick when I was little. I had chicken pox, of course, and maybe one other childhood illness. The first time I had tonsillitis was in college. Since my marriage, I have had the flu once (an inconsiderate family member brought it to a holiday gathering), bronchitis several times (all it takes is a mild cold), and COVID-19 (when it first got to Florida, while health officials were denying that there was any community spread). I’ve sprained my ankle (running in high heels in college), cracked my ribs (slipped in the tub), and had whiplash (rear-ended at a stoplight). I’m overweight now and have been diagnosed with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. I lost weight and my blood test went back to normal, gained weight and the numbers went back up. I’ve been taking a Jarrow-brand prebiotic for several months, and it seems to be helping lower the numbers. Not bad for age 55.

Looking back through the family tree, I see many of my ancestors lived to a pretty good age. My maternal grandfather, Hoyt Cook, died on his 88th birthday after a series of strokes. His wife, Willie Stevens Cook, died at 86 with dementia. My paternal grandmother, Malzie Silcox Hahn, was the youngest of all my grandparents, and the first to die, of lung cancer, at age 73. Her husband, Charlie Hahn, died – also of cancer – at age 82.

Four out of eight great-grandparents lived into their 80s. The oldest was Mollie Pittman Stevens, age 84, the same age as my mom now. The one who died youngest was Mollie’s husband, J.W. Billie Stevens, who was my age, just 55.

Newspaper article from 1908 includes this sentence: Mr. and Mrs. J.W. Stevens left Wednesday for St. Louis, where Mr. Stevens will enter a hospital for treatment.

Billie had a lot of health problems over his life. I found a newspaper article about him and Mollie traveling to St. Louis so he could receive medical treatment. I gather he drank a lot. He also got struck by lightning once. I know who Billie’s mother was. Mary Reid was born around 1855, and she was still alive as of the 1920 Census. I don’t know when she died or what killed her. I have a name for Billie’s father, William A. Stephens, according to the marriage record, but I know nothing else about him.

My biggest fear as I get older is cancer, especially after watching my dad wither away with it. Knowing the health of our ancestors may help us understand our risks and even guide us to make better life choices, but ultimately, our fate will be our own.

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#52Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Fashion

This week’s prompt in Amy Johnson Crow’s 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks project is fashion. When I think of that topic with regard to my family tree, two stories come to mind.

J.W. “Billie” Stevens (Photo belonging to Mary Elizabeth “Mollie” Pittman Stevens, now in possession of Zenova Cook Hahn)

After my great-grandfather Billie Stevens left the sawmill, possibly as it scaled back operations, for a time he sold men’s suits.

According to my mother, he received fabric samples to show his customers. They would pick out the material they wanted for their suit, and Billie would take their measurements. He sent that on to the manufacturer or tailor, and the suits were then made to order.

My great-grandmother later used the fabric samples to make a quilt.

My mother was just 2 1/2 years old when Billie died, so she got all this information second-hand, either from her mother or her grandmother.

The 1930 U.S. Census lists Billie’s occupation as laborer, with industry as “odd jobs.” The Florida Census of 1935 also lists him simply as laborer.

The “Jernigan House” (Photo: Escambia Property Appraiser’s Office, 2017)

From my mother, I know that Billie also built several rental houses. Four, she said, were built along Palafox Street. Rent was $15 a month. In 1929, he built what we call the Jernigan House, which, as I write this, still stands, and is still owned by the family. It’s called the Jernigan House because Mrs. Jernigan lived there for many years. I remember visiting her when I was a little girl, in the 1970s. My parents started using it for storage at least 30 years ago.

The word “fashion” also reminded me of something I just recently learned while scanning photos of my mother, Zenova Cook Hahn. She told me that her mother, Willie Stevens Cook, sometimes ordered clothes directly from Hong Kong.

Two-piece suit in shades of grey. Zenova believes this is one of the suits her mother Willie Cook ordered from Hong Kong.

My mother made many of her own clothes. She’s told me that, when she was growing up, Grandma Stevens made clothes for her, and they were always too big. Grandma said she’d grow into them. By the time mom got to high school, she was making her own clothes, so they would fit. She was very thin and weighed, she tells me, just 98 pounds until she got pregnant with me. At that time, stores didn’t tend to stock the small sizes they have now, so they were still too big.

When we looked at this black and white photo, she told me the suit was in shades of grey, and I asked her if she had made it. She told this was a “bought” suit, and she believed it was ordered from Hong Kong.

She didn’t remember exactly how her mother would have gotten the catalog, but she told me Willie ordered several outfits for herself and for Zenova. They sent off their measurements and the suits were made to fit. This would have been in the 1950s. My mother graduated from Pensacola High School in 1954 and married my dad in 1956.

I’ll leave you with one final photo, which I call Dapper Man. This unlabeled cabinet card is from the collection of my great-grandmother Mary Elizabeth “Mollie” Pittman Stevens. The picture was taken outdoors (note the grass) against a backdrop. I feel like it’s probably from between 1880 and 1915. It could be a member of her family or Billie’s. Unless I can find a cousin with the same photo and knows who it is, this dapper gentleman’s name may be lost to history.

Unknown Man (Photo belonging to Mary Elizabeth “Mollie” Pittman Stevens, inherited by Zenova Cook Hahn.)
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#52Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Transportation

My maternal grandmother, Willie Stevens Cook, used to teach a book called “Singing Wheels.” I read it when I stayed with her. I don’t remember the details, but it was about a family going west in covered wagons.

Cover of "Singing Wheels" book

When I read the book, nearly half a century ago, I never thought about having family members who may have traveled by covered wagon. Nor did I think of my ancestors riding in stagecoaches as I watched Westerns growing up. I knew my one great-great grandfather immigrated from Germany, and another batch came from Georgia to Florida around the turn of the century. Beyond that, I never really thought about how my family came to be in Northwest Florida.

Now I know that I have ancestors, including Pittmans and Silcoxes, who settled in Florida before it became a state, while others, such as the Ducks and Chandlers, probably arrived in Alabama around the time it became a state. Some parts of Florida and South Alabama were already well developed by then, due to its long occupation by the Spanish and British.

Still, getting from one place to another would have involved wagons, carts, or stagecoaches.

I’ll admit, I was pretty confused the first time I saw, in the occupation column of a U.S. Census record, the word “Teamster.” For a minute, I marveled that the union had been around that long and that my 3rd great-grandfather, Origen Thompson, was a member. Then I recalled that a teamster was someone who drove a team.

At that time, in 1880, the Thompsons lived in Bay Minette, Baldwin County, Alabama, about 10 miles from Stockton. Genealogy Trails has an entry about the thriving community:

In the early 1800’s, Stockton was one of the largest towns in the Territory, rivaling Mobile. The timber trade increased in the area with the building of the Kennedy Saw Mill, owned by Mr. Joshua Kennedy Other industries included, shipping (on the Tensaw River), farming, merchants, and schooling. Stockton was one of the largest cotton shipping towns in the territory. The stagecoach ran from Montgomery to Stockton, with the travellers and mail being carried from Stockton by steamers to Mobile, New Orleans, and other locales. William Kitchen and Ward Taylor partnered in 1840 to form a stagecoach run from Montgomery thru Stockton to Blakeley. The stop in Stockton was the Hammond House.

In 1880, my 2nd great-grandfather, Isaac Pittman was living with Origen, his father-in-law, and his occupation was also listed as teamster. Down the road, Origen’s brother William Hastie Thompson is also shown working as a teamster, as were his two nephews/stepsons Albert and Osmond.

Interior Page of "Singing Wheels"
Interior of “Singing Wheels”

Twenty years earlier, in the 1860 Census, Origen’s brother Eli Thompson was listed as a stage driver. Eli was married to Georgiana Hammond – you guessed it – of the Hammond House stagecoach stop Hammonds.

Over on the other side of the family tree, my paternal 2nd great-grandfather, William F. Hahn was listed on the 1870 Census as a sea captain. He was a lodger living in the home of William Hurd, and I’ve found a few articles in early Pensacola, Florida, newspapers suggesting that Hurd really was a sea captain. I suspect my ancestor was part of the crew. Other documents list William F. Hahn as a bayman and a stevedore at various times. As I’ve never found a passenger listing for his trip from Germany at around the age of 13, I suspect he may have worked his way across as a crewmember on a sailing ship or a steamship.

I’ve had the pleasure of enjoying many modes of transportation in my life. I arrived in the United States as a baby aboard the cruise ship SS Constitution; my only other cruise experience was a three-hour trip to nowhere about a gambling ship out of Fort Lauderdale. I crossed the English Channel on a hovercraft when I was five years old. I’ve ridden on trains, planes, and in automobiles, of course. My parents had two different motorhomes when I was growing up; I even drove one of them about a foot and a half one time. I drove a tram on the Backstage Studio Tour at what was then the Disney-MGM Studios, and of course I rode the monorail many times there.

The world is so much faster now, than when my 2nd great-grandfathers were driving teams of horses and sailing ships, and transportation was not just slower, it was much harder work. I hope they did have time to see and appreciate the wonders of the untamed landscape around them, before it vanished under pavement and steel.

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#52Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Free

I was reminded this week of a game my family used to play when we were on road trips.

We traveled a lot. My dad was in the Navy, so we would drive long distances when we moved. My mom and I would often come home to Pensacola when my dad was at sea. My parents also enjoyed traveling and camping. We enjoyed the “freedom of the open road” a lot (there’s my tie-in to the “free” theme).

This game we used to play was simple. It was a way to keep me occupied, whether we were in the car or the camper. My mom would make a list of 10 or 15 things to look for, and as I spotted them, I would check them off my list. I remember one item was a hotel with a swimming pool. The list might include a herd of cows or a church – anything that might be seen from a highway or a road.

Bill & Zenova in front of their camper.
Bill & Zenova in front of our camper.

As I got a little bit older, I made a checklist for my mom. Now, I don’t remember what all I put on that list, except for this: Blue Toyota.

I can’t tell you where we were going on that trip, or which roads we were on, or even what year it was. What I can tell you, is that I finished my list, and my mom had everything checked off on her list EXCEPT for that blue Toyota. By the end of it, all three of us were looking for a blue Toyota. We’d spot a blue car, but when we got a good look at the logo, it was a different make.

I don’t know when we finally found that blue Toyota. It may have been on that trip or maybe not. I just remember the laughs we had over it that day and for a long time afterward.

Yesterday, I saw a blue Toyota, and it made me smile all over again.

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#52Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Conflict

I’m two weeks late on this post, because I guess there hasn’t been much drama in my family, or maybe I was just blissfully unaware. I can’t think of any family conflicts and I don’t know much about my relations’ involvement in war.

My dad, William D. Hahn served in the Navy during the Vietnam era, but thankfully, he was never in the war zone. I remember him telling us once that the submarine he was on physically bumped into a Russian sub. Both vessels were fine and went on their way is what he told me and my mom. The most tense situation, I guess, that he was involved in was the Cuban Missile Crisis.

I don’t remember ever really talking to my dad about the Cuban blockade, and I don’t know much about the situation. For this post, I decided to learn more about it.

According to my dad’s obituary, which he helped write, he served aboard the USS Tweedy during the standoff. The ship is not among those authorized to receive the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal for the action. A history of the ship published online by the U.S. Navy says the Tweedy was decommissioned in August 1962, a couple of months before the blockade, although it was in use as a reserve training ship.

USS Tweedy (U.S. Navy Photo)

The way I understand it, my dad was in the Navy for a couple of years out of high school, then he transitioned to the Naval Reserve for five years, while he worked at St. Regis Paper Mill. Then in 1962, he transitioned back to the regular Navy.

The Naval History and Heritage Command lists this information, for the period when my dad could possibly have been aboard during his Reserve service.

In response to the Berlin Crisis of August 1961, Tweedy was recommissioned on 2 October of that year. Following refresher training, she was assigned the home port of Newport and commenced antisubmarine barrier duties in the Caribbean early in 1962. Throughout the year, she engaged in fleet and type exercises, made goodwill visits, and served as flagship for Escort Squadron 12. On 12 June, as Tweedy steamed from Pensacola to Norfolk, she came upon nine Cuban nationals in distress after two days at sea in an open, 14-foot boat. Tweedy aided the refugees and, later in the day, transferred them to Coast Guard representatives for assistance on their way to Miami.

Naval History and Heritage Command

In addition, it’s possible the Tweedy and other Navy ships around Florida could have been pressed into service to bulk up the numbers for the blockade, or perhaps the Tweedy was just in a support position for the main fleet.

The next ship Daddy served on, according to his obituary, was the USS Diamond Head, so, just to be sure, I checked for its name on the list of ships receiving the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal for the Cuban Missile Crisis. It’s not there.

At some point, I will order my dad’s military service records, and perhaps I’ll learn more about exactly where he was during those 13 days in October, 1962. I have no doubt that every member of the U.S. Armed Forces, no matter where they were, were on alert as the nation sat on the brink of war. Thankfully, the situation ended peacefully.

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Another top-notch thriller from Hank Phillippi Ryan

Her Perfect LifeHer Perfect Life by Hank Phillippi Ryan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I work in the news business, so I understand about sources. Sometimes they don't want to give a name. Sometimes their tips are spot-on right; sometimes they're way off the mark.

In "Her Perfect Life," reporter Lily Atwood, and her producer Greer, have gotten a couple of good leads from a caller, so when he calls again, they're inclined to trust him. It turns creepy, though, when the leads start hitting very close to home.

As a regular reader of Hank Phillippi Ryan, I must say her newest novel falls somewhere between my favorite Ryan books and my least favorite (not that the least favorite gets a very low rating, it's just lower on my list). The story moves quickly, with each chapter giving one more nugget of information; it definitely kept me racing through (which - word of warning - can be tough when you're reading on your lunch hour).

Ryan knows her stuff about journalism and the business of media. I love how she used social media and the trappings of fame to show both how hard Lily works for her #PerfectLily hashtag, and how important online perceptions are to a 21st century journalist's career.

Ryan also created a great antagonist; hopefully it's not giving too much away to say that this person is intelligent, methodical, and well organized.

I'm the type of mystery reader who likes to "play along" and try to guess whodunit. This book gives you all the clues, but because there are a lot of puzzle pieces, it's not simple to decide who should be trusted and who shouldn't. I will pat myself on the back and say one of my theories did turn out to be partly correct, but only partly.

If you love mysteries with intricate plots and surprises around every corner, you can't go wrong with Hank Phillippi Ryan. As soon as I finish one book, I am waiting (impatiently) for the next.

I received an advance reader copy of "Her Perfect Life" in exchange for my honest review.

View all my reviews 
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#52Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Groups

I dropped off some groceries at my mom’s house yesterday, and she traded me a small bag of photos. Three of them are photos taken at the Muscogee Sawmill in Escambia County.

A whole group of my ancestors and other relatives worked at the sawmill. One photo shows the mill from a distance. The other two, I’m told, show my great-grandfather, James William Stevens, known as Billie.

A handwritten note on the back identifies this as “Muscogee Saw Mill.”

I wonder if the mill hired a photographer to take photos or if an enterprising photographer went on his own to take pictures of the community and its people, then offered prints.

When my mother handed me the photos, this one was on top. She pointed to the man and said, “That’s my granddaddy.”

Two of the photos show a man at work in the mill. My mother pointed to the one above and said, “That’s my granddaddy.” The only thing clearly written on the back is a column of figures; I think someone used it as a scratch pad.

“Billie Stevens” is written on the back. It appears to be my grandmother, Willie Stevens Cook’s handwriting.

The other photo with a person in it has a name written on the back. In what looks like my grandmother, Willie Stevens Cook’s handwriting, it says “Billie Stevens.”

The pictures aren’t in great shape after all these years, but when I zoom in, these look like two different people. What do you think?

When I searched “Muscogee Sawmill” on newspapers.com, I found an advertisement from the Liverpool (England) Mercury (April 12, 1889) offering shares in the Southern States Land and Timber Company, with assets including two mills in Muscogee. The country was growing, and they had a good forest of pine trees to turn into lumber.

The earliest record that I have that shows Billie Stevens’ occupation is the 1910 Census. He was 26 years old and working as a grocer, probably at the company store on mill property. He’s married to Mollie Pittman, and my grandmother Willie is one year old.

Right next door, Billie’s mother, Mollie née Reid is living with latest husband, Charles Muterspaugh, who works as a night watchman at the mill.

The lines just above the Muterspaugh family list William L.D. Nellums and family. William’s daughter Flora was married Mollie Reid Stevens Gilmore Muterspaugh’s nephew, James William Johnson. William Nellums was a farmer with a home farm.

Skim through a few more pages, and you’ll find Billie’s in-laws. His wife, Mollie’s, sister Nancy Pittman is living with her husband Warren Mathis, and their children. Turn a couple more pages, and there’s Mollie and Nancy’s brother Cleve Pittman and his first wife Laura. The census taker recorded Warren working at the lumber mill and Cleve working at the planing mill.

The 1920 Census shows Billie Stevens and Warren Mathis still living in Muscogee and working at the saw mill. Charles Muterspaugh is no longer in the picture; I have never found a death record, but his wife is listed as widowed. I haven’t found Cleve in the 1920 Census, but his mother and three younger brothers have moved from Baldwin County, Alabama, and in 1920, Medrick and Charlie are working at the tar plant, and Tom is at the saw mill. Quite a few Nellums are in the area as well.

The boom would soon be over, however. Articles published in Pensacola and Tampa in 1928 said operations were winding down, and the mills and land were being sold. The 1930 Census reflects the slowdown. In 1910 and 1920, there were 20 pages of residents in Muscogee. In 1930, there were only six pages.

Billie Stevens is still in Muscogee, listed as working odd jobs. His half-sister Lottie Muterspaugh is there, married to Everett Corley, who works for the railroad. I only see two people listed as working at the saw mill; a couple of others had “lumber” or “wood truck” as the industry. More people are getting cars by that time (I saw a car salesman and a mechanic living in Muscogee in 1930), so maybe more people worked at the mill who drove in from other areas. For the most part, though, the community was dying.

I found additional photos on the Florida Memory website. These are just a few of the images available there.

Gulf, Florida and Alabama Railway Company saw mill no. 4 in Muscogee, Florida. 20th century. State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory. Accessed 27 Jun. 2021.<https://www.floridamemory.com/items/show/17686&gt;.
Interior view of the Southern States Lumber Company mill – Muscogee, Florida. 1910 (circa). State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory. Accessed 27 Jun. 2021.<https://www.floridamemory.com/items/show/38989&gt;.

Saw mill at Muscogee. 1903 (circa). State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory. Accessed 27 Jun. 2021.<https://www.floridamemory.com/items/show/297014&gt;.
Interior view of the Southern States Lumber Company mill – Muscogee, Florida. 1910 (circa). State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory. Accessed 27 Jun. 2021.<https://www.floridamemory.com/items/show/38979&gt;.
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#52Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Father’s Day

Two fathers are often on my mind as I work on my genealogy. They are ancestors for whom I have no known fathers.

I just received two Y-DNA test kits in the mail, one for each side of my family, which I hope will provide new clues about those missing men. I haven’t talked to the potential testees yet. I have a couple of potentials on my mom’s side – her first cousin and her brother. On the other side, I have my dad’s last remaining brother. My dad also has a cousin who might test, but he’s not in the area, so it’s not as convenient.

This post is inspired by a prompt in Amy Johnson Crow’s 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks project. The prompt, of course, was inspired by the Father’s Day holiday. I thought it would be a good time to express what I hope to learn from these two DNA tests.

HAHN

Charles T. Hahn (L) and William D. Hahn (R)
Charles Theodore Hahn and William David Hahn

My father, William D. Hahn, is the son of Charles Theodore Hahn, who is the son of Rev. Theodore Hahn, who is the son of William Fredrich Hahn. And that is where my knowledge ends. According to William F. Hahn’s obituary, published in the Pensacola newspaper, he was a native of Berlin. His tombstone says he was born in 1846 and that jives with ages given to the U.S. Census, as well as the information he provided on a naturalization document. Nothing I’ve found gives a specific birthdate. No other document I’ve found gives a location for his birth, other than Germany. No document I’ve found gives any indication of his parents’ names.

William F. Hahn had five children: Hattie Emmon (or Ellen); Frances Louisa; William Bernard or Bernhardt; George Herman; and Theodore.

I have found a couple of birth records for boys born William Fredrich (or similar) in Berlin in 1846. In one case, the mother’s name was Louisa. In another case, the baby was illegitimate. Right now, I have no way of knowing if either or neither record are for my great-great-grandfather.

A Y-DNA test could confirm that we are Hahns dating back centuries, or that there’s another surname to research.

COOK

My mother’s father, Dewey Hoyt Cook, is the son of Arthur Thomas Cook, who is the son of John Cook, who is the son of his mother’s lover. Family lore is that Frances Cook had a longtime love affair with one man who fathered all her children. Frances lived in Marion County, Georgia, which is close to the Alabama line, so if the story is true, based on the birth years of her children, the father would have lived in Western Georgia or Eastern Alabama between 1856 and 1874.

A surname was suggested by an older relative my cousin Pat Lowe interviewed years ago. I’ve looked for DNA connections to that family, and I have found a few cousins descended from a daughter in that family. Her father’s dates of life don’t add up, and I would expect to find descendants from other children in that family if that’s the right one. I hope that a Y-DNA test will give me some other surnames to research.

Detail of an 1859 Map of Georgia, published by Charles Desilver. Full map is located online at the David Rumsey Historical Map Collection. Marion County is just a little left of center here.

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#52Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Bridge

This week’s prompt in Amy Johnson Crow’s 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge is “Bridge.” Here is the first memory that popped into my mind.

When I was little, I didn’t get to see my extended family all that much. My dad, as I’ve mentioned before, was in the Navy. We lived hundreds or thousands of miles away, and travel was expensive. We did visit a few times – when my mom and dad first brought me home from Spain, when I was a year old, when my great-grandmother died. When I was four, my dad was stationed in Scotland, so we didn’t visit for, I think, about a year and a half.

Nowadays, if I’ve been to a place four or five times over four years, I might remember vaguely how to get there, or maybe not, especially if I’m not doing the driving. I certainly wouldn’t expect a small child to have any idea what was going on.

Now, I don’t really remember this myself; it’s something my mother told me years ago, and I remember the story. My maternal grandparents, Hoyt and Willie Cook, picked us up at the airport (we left Scotland while my dad was on a cruise, and he came home later). I had been to their house before, a few times, but they had moved from the Brent community, just north of Pensacola, out to Midway, a community east of the city of Gulf Breeze. The way the story goes, we got on the 3 Mile Bridge over Pensacola Bay and I asked where we were going. They told me to Mam-ma and Pap-pa’s house, and I said we were going the wrong way, because they didn’t live across a bridge.

Hoyt and Willie Cook’s property on East Bay (Lagniappe Beach). That concrete bench (on the left) and boat ramp (right) were there all my life.

It’s a story I’ve thought of a lot recently, because I work in the news business, and the rebuilding of the Pensacola Bay Bridge has been a story for years. First, came the planning for the new bridge. Then they built the first half of the bridge. Then traffic shifted over, and they started tearing down the old bridge – the only Pensacola Bay Bridge I have ever known. Then Hurricane Sally and some runaway barges tore it apart.

For the first time in my life, there was no easy way to get from Pensacola to Gulf Breeze.

The first Pensacola Bay Bridge was built in 1931. Before that, the only way to get across was by boat. Construction cost, per the Florida Department of Transportation, was $2.5 million. A toll was imposed to pay the bill. According to an article in the Pensacola Journal (April 28, 1932), the fee was $1 for car and driver plus ten cents per passenger. I plugged in $1 at the WestEgg inflation calculator, and that’s the equivalent of $19.28 cents today! Tolls could also be paid with a coupon book – six trips for $5 or 25 trips for $20. Eventually, I gather, the bridge was paid for, and the tolls were lifted.

In 1960, a new bridge opened. That’s the one I crossed going to Mam-ma and Pap-pa’s house that Christmas Eve in 1971. I was really worried that Santa Claus wouldn’t know where to bring my gifts, but that jolly old elf delivered one of my favorite presents ever – a palomino spring horse I named Sylvia (like the Lone Ranger’s Silver, but my horse was a girl).

After the new bridge opened, the middle was cut out of the old bridge, and for many years, the two ends served as drive-on fishing piers. Hurricane Ivan damaged them badly enough in 2004 that they were removed. The Pensacola side was rebuilt and is open for fisher folk.

Novy Lee Hale (L) and Hoyt Cook (R) on the back porch of the cinder block cabin Hoyt and Willie built for vacationing and entertaining. That's probably a grill or deep fryer in front of Pap-pa.
Novy Lee Hale (L) and Hoyt Cook (R) on the back porch of the cinder block cabin Hoyt and Willie built for vacationing and entertaining. That’s probably a grill or deep fryer in front of Pap-pa.

We got in a wreck once on the 3 Mile Bridge, probably because of the fishing bridge. This would have been around 1994 or ’95, I think. My husband’s parents had come down for a visit, and we probably had been over to Mam-ma and Pap-pa’s place or else out to the beach. My husband saw a car up ahead hit their brakes – he had seen a flash of movement to the right and figured someone caught a fish, and he blamed that for the chain reaction. The first car got away clean. Two or three others ahead of us collided. Tim stopped, and another vehicle rear-ended us. There was just enough room between our bumper and the car in front to slide a couple of pieces of paper.

Now, finally, the new new Pensacola Bay Bridge, part one, has reopened, although they’re still working to finish it. Heck, I think they were still working on it to some extent when Sally hit. Part two is supposed to open later this year or sometime in 2022. Then traffic from Pensacola to Gulf Breeze will drive on one span, and traffic from Gulf Breeze to Pensacola will drive on the other. The new spans are much higher; I don’t think anyone will be able to see someone catching a fish on the pier below.

Of course, I don’t have as much reason to cross the bridge anymore. It’s the fastest route to Pensacola Beach, but we rarely went out there, and never since they automated the Bob Sikes toll bridge, upping the cost to $3.50 per trip. (Of course, that doesn’t seem quite so steep compared to the 1932 cost for the 3 Mile Bridge.) Once or twice we went over to Navarre to visit my uncle and his family. Mam-ma and Pap-pa died in the ’90s. My other uncle had moved into their home, but Ivan left it beyond repair.

With the demolition of the old new Pensacola Bay Bridge, it really is the end of an era, but I will never forget telling my Pap-pa he was driving the wrong way, because we didn’t have to cross a bridge to get to his house.

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