Riding the Elevator with Neil Armstrong

July 20, 2012

Forty-three years ago today, a painfully shy fellow from Wapakoneta, Ohio stepped down from a short ladder onto an alien landscape, and into the pages of history…..

When I was barely eighteen years old, I started my freshman year at the University of Cincinnati College of Engineering. I chose the school for several practical reasons and one very emotional one. From a practical standpoint, the school made sense: UC had recently built a huge engineering research center, investing millions of dollars in computer equipment. I had been offered a scholarship in chemical engineering that would cover about 50% of my total costs, and since the school was close to home, my travel back and forth would also be inexpensive. But the one fact about the University of Cincinnati that really got my blood flowing was this: Neil Armstrong had recently accepted a professorship at the college.

This all took place in 1974, only five short years after “one small step.” If you’re much younger than fifty, I doubt you can appreciate the degree to which I wanted to meet the commander of Apollo 11. I’d been a fan of the U.S. manned space program since I could remember, and Neil represented the pinnacle of our achievements in that endeavor. So, of course, I enrolled at UC and awaited my brush with greatness.

It was with great dismay that, upon my arrival at Dabney Hall, the freshman dorm, I found a slip of paper in my mailbox that addressed the very thoughts that had been coursing through my brain. It was a notice to all students that Professor Armstrong, a “very private individual,” had specifically requested not to be approached for any reasons not directly related to classroom work. I was crestfallen! I discussed the note with my newfound friends in the dorm, and we were puzzled, to say the least.  I quickly found that I was only one of many who’d come there with the hope of meeting the first man to walk on the moon. A few of the freshmen were  already placing bets on who’d be the first to speak to him, but the notice had put a damper on this activity.

I simply tried not to think about it, and got serious about preparing for the first day of class.  On Sunday, I walked from the dorm to Rhodes Hall, the site of my 8 am chemistry class. That class would be over at  9 am, after which I had Professor McDonough’s engineering drawing class. Getting there required me to sprint down two floors of stairs, exit Rhodes Hall onto the plaza, cross the plaza, down another flight of stairs, cross underneath the plaza, enter the new engineering complex, and ride the elevator up six floors to my destination. I had ten minutes to accomplish this. Not a problem.  I was ready.

On the first day of class, I sat through Chem 101 with no surprises.  The class was my favorite, and I felt confident about getting a good grade. I had pretty much cleared my mind of any expectations about meeting Neil – after all, he didn’t want to be bothered, and I had important things to think about.

Then, class was over, and I was taking the stairs at top speed, booking across the plaza, down the steps, and into the elevator – and coming to a dead stop.

As I stepped into the elevator, I saw a tall, lanky, well-dressed man facing the wall near the bank of buttons. It was him. As I reached for the panel to push “6”, he turned very briefly to face me.  “Excuse me, sir,” I said as I pressed the button. He responded only with a nod, then turned back to face the wall.

Wednesday was the next day that I had to follow that route to class, and as I rounded the bend into the elevator, there he was again. This time, he looked up, nodded, and remained facing forward. I was afraid to speak. I didn’t want to spook him at this point. He nodded again as I left the elevator.

Friday, as I headed toward that elevator again, I was highly doubtful of seeing Professor Armstrong again. The chances of my timing being that good were just too slim.  But sure enough, there he was, and this time, I spoke. “Good morning, Professor Armstrong.” He looked a little uncomfortable, but then he responded with that voice I’d heard on TV from 240,000 miles away: “Good morning, are you an engineering student here?”  “Yes sir, I’m a freshman in chemical engineering.”  “Well, I guess you won’t be in any of my classes, but I hope you enjoy it here.  All the engineering programs here are well-respected.” “Thank you, sir.”

At that moment, I was about as tongue-tied as Ralphie standing before Santa in “The Christmas Story.” I wanted to tell him how much I believed in the space program, and how much his personal exploits had affected my attitude, fueled my own efforts to be the best student in my class, and helped me to get right where I was at that moment. But I couldn’t. Between his shyness, my shyness and hero-worship, and that damned slip of paper, I never got those words out. So here they are, Neil.  I hope you get a chance to read them, and to appreciate the effect you had on tens of thousands of young engineers in those days.

Interestingly enough, I got to ride the elevator with Neil a lot of times over the following ten weeks.  He never said much after that.  But he always remembered my floor and pressed “6” when I got on.


Eagle-Watching on Mentor Marsh

April 11, 2010

Mama's taking a rest before embarking on a hunt for food

An eagle’s nest is still a rare thing to see in this day and age, so when we heard that there was a mated pair of eagles nesting in the Mentor Marsh, Sally and I decided to see if we could get a few photos.  We found the location of the nest easily – it’s quite visible from Rt. 44 near Headlands Beach State Park.  The Mentor Marsh is home to numerous wildlife species, but this pair of eagles are recent residents.  They first nested here last year, according to a local photographer that I met today at the site.   Approaching an eagle’s nest is highly illegal, as they are still endangered, so I want to stress that these photos were taken from FAR away.  As a result, the digital shots are pretty low quality – I had to use a digital zoom factor of 48x to get them.

I also took a few film photos with my old Nikon and a 300mm zoom with a 2x telextender, providing an effective focal length of 600mm.  I haven’t got these photos scanned yet, but I’ll add them to this post when I get them.

It’s really quite moving to see our national symbol in the wild.  Let’s hope that bald eagles are around for a long time!

Out and about

Dad is doing much of the babysitting

Here's a closer shot of the female eagle

Preparing for takeoff!


A Winter Photo Gallery

February 28, 2010

Gulls fly over the open water at the power plant discharge

At least once during the dead of each winter, Sally and I take an urban safari: a sojourn into the icy wilderness of the Cleveland  lakeshore.   Lake Erie is always home to a variety of wildlife, and trudging through the snow is a good way to see it in the wintertime.  The gallery below is a small sampling of what we saw.  Click on the thumbnails to see the enlarged photos.

Our trip was quite short, only a few hours in total, but in that short time we encountered several uncommon sights:

The power plant discharge downtown is a great place to watch waterfowl in the wintertime, and this was a great day to watch ducks, gulls, mergansers, scaup, and geese as they competed for the fish swarming about in the warm water.  I’m not very experienced as a birdwatcher, so I couldn’t begin to identify the wide variety of birds we saw.  Only a short distance away from this warm water oasis, the gulls were walking about on the frozen lake.

A short hop away, the Wildwood Marina was a frozen wonderland.  The shoreline was bordered by huge ice dunes, formed by frozen spray blown up on the sand to accumulate in large piles.  These dunes are more commonly found around Presque Isle State Park, near Erie, PA.  I’ve never seen them here before.

A truly strange sight on this winter’s day was a couple of ultralight pilots flying over the marina – I hope they were heavily dressed, because it was pretty cold even at ground level.

Our little jaunt outdoors was a real cure for cabin fever.  Try it sometime, you may be very pleasantly surprised!


Christmas Toys for Boys in the 60’s

December 19, 2009

Christmas in the 60’s was a great time for toys.  The “space race” was upon us and toys for little boys were often geared toward military and space exploration themes.  And of course, there were toys based on TV series just as there are today.  So, for you oldsters out there, how many of you lusted after one or more of these great toys:

 Remco Products (see the full list on Wikipedia)

  •  1960 Whirlybird Helicopter
  • 1961 Johnny Reb Cannon
  • 1961 Mighty Matilda Aircraft Carrier
  • 1961 Shark Remote Control Race Car
  • 1963 Barracuda Submarine
  • 1963 USMC Bazooka
  • 1963 Super Car
  • 1964 Hamilton Invaders
  • 1964 Munsters
  • 1966 Batman Wrist Radios
  • 1965 Bulldog Army Tank
  • 1965 Duffy’s Daredevils
  • 1965 Kennedy Airport Air Traffic Control Center
  • 1965 Screaming Mee Mee-e Rifle
  • 1966 Lost in Space Robot
  • 1967 Mighty Mike Motorized Trucks
  • 1967 Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea Sub sets

 I had the bazooka and the Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea playset.  I also remember the Sgt. Saunders Tommy Gun from the Combat! TV series as a real favorite of mine – many imaginary Nazis bit the dust in our playtime patrols down on Second Street in Greenfield.  

 Three other toys still shine bright in my memory:

 Fireball XL5 – the space ship flown by Steve Zodiac and his ship’s doctor and love interest, Dr. Venus.  His co-pilot was a robot named Robert, and their commander at headquarters was Mike Mercury.  The series ran on TV every Saturday starting in 1962.  The show was produced entirely through puppetry (called Supermarionation) by the husband and wife team of Gerry and   Sylvia Anderson, best remembered for Thunderbirds and Space 1999.   The playset from 1963 featured the ship and all the main characters – I got two of them the on same Christmas! 

One of two XL5 playsets I received for Christmas in 1963

For those of you who remember the series, check out this link for a real hoot! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nXGGuqXB8h4&feature=PlayList&p=0B90F3E9064A759E&playnext=1&playnext_from=PL&index=20

And of course, there was the famous Johnny Seven O.M.A. (One Man Army), released in 1964.  The Johnny Seven was a multi-function weapon that worked as a grenade launcher, Anti-tank rocket, Armor-piercing shell/Anti-bunker missile, Repeating rifle, Tommy gun, Automatic pistol, and Bipod-mounted rifle.  This was the toy that Myron the postal worker (played by Sinbad) lamented in the movie Jingle All the Way.  Myron blamed all his problems on the fact that he didn’t get a Johnny Seven O.M.A. for Christmas when he was a child.  Honestly, I remember the toy, but I didn’t know anyone who actually got one for Christmas.  Here’s a link to the TV commercial.

And way back in 1961, there was Jimmy Jet – Although I didn’t own one of these, a friend did, and I remember it well.  A jet cockpit, with steering wheel and lighted control panel, the central screen had a backlighted scrolling landscape with the figure of a jet superimposed.  You steered to move the jet from side to side onscreen as the landscape rolled past.  Actually, it’s easier to show it than to describe it – here’s the commercial.   To kids back then, it was exciting….today, not so much.

 So, when you’re out shopping for your kids, looking at Nintendo DSi’s and iPods, just imagine what it was like in the days when you could bring a child’s Christmas dreams to life for less than ten bucks!  Merry Christmas to all, and I hope Santa brings you that Johnny Seven O.M.A.!!


Gone with the Wind’s Most Controversial Performance

December 16, 2009

Yesterday was the 70th anniversary of the premiere of “Gone with the Wind,” an unforgettable movie based on the novel by Margaret Mitchell.   Having seen the movie many times in my life, I watched it again last night with no expectations whatsoever.  I have become ashamed to enjoy this film, for it is clearly racist in practically every scene and characterization.  And yet, watching the film for the umpteenth time, I became fascinated with a truly moving performance: Hattie McDaniel’s portrayal of the servant Mammy.

Hattie took amazing amounts of flak for accepting the role, both before and after the film’s release.  Chief among her tormentors was the NAACP, whose president urged her to turn the role down while simultaneously lobbying David O. Selznick to hire an African American cultural advisor to the film.   Cast member Butterfly McQueen (Prissy) called her a sellout.  Practically all of Hattie’s roles were maids or servants of some sort.  Her response to criticism: “Hell, I’d rather play a maid than be one.”  At least part of her willingness to play Mammy had to come from the fact that she was paid $450 a week to do so.   That was a lot of money for anyone to earn in 1939.

The role of Mammy was criticised as degrading by many, including the NAACP

And yet, her performance in the role brought a humanity, a depth, a strength to the character that no scriptwriter could have envisioned.  Her character is a very strong woman, despite the fact that, having nowhere to go after the war, she opts to stay with her white “family” in the same capacity she held as a slave.  Her monologue about the death of Bonnie Butler and its aftermath, delivered to Melanie upon the stairs to Rhett’s bedroom, is heart-rending to the extreme.  When I heard it last night, I finally understood why Hattie won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress.  When she accepted that award, she became not only the first African American to win an Academy Award; she became the first African American ever to attend the awards banquet.  Perhaps this was some consolation for her having been barred from attending the premiere of the film in Atlanta, where the theatres were segregated.  And yet even then, when Clark Gable announced that if the black actors couldn’t attend the premiere, then neither would he, it was Hattie McDaniel who persuaded him to attend “for the good of the film.” 

Hattie never entirely lived down the criticism that rained down after “Gone with the Wind,” and her movie roles became fewer and further between throughout the 1940’s.  She returned to her radio roots as “Beulah” (the first African American woman in a leading role on a radio show intended for a wide audience) shortly before her death from breast cancer in 1952.

Hattie was protrayed on a postage stamp in 2006 as part of the Black Heritage Series

Think what you will about her acceptance of “degrading” roles, her “selling out” for money over principle, or whatever else her critics have called it.  She was a pioneer, a great actress who not only went where none of her peers had gone before, but who made the rest of us feel joy and pain right along with her.   She blazed the trail for many who came later.


Deep-Fried Turkey – It’s a “Guy Thing”

November 23, 2009

What activity provides the opportunity to buy dangerous new gear, play with fire, drink beer out-of-doors, and potentially burn down your house?  You guessed it, we’re deep-frying a turkey!

 Actually, I deep-fried my turkey a couple of years ago, and I’ll be doing it again this year, though not for Thanksgiving – we’ll be out of town with family.  When I last had Thanksgiving dinner at my house, I decided to go the deep-fried route.  After all, the method has quite a few advantages over roasting.  The bird takes an hour to cook instead of four or more, the resulting product is very tender and much moister than a comparable roast turkey, and the skin is crispy and tasty beyond belief.  On the other hand, there’s that issue with potentially burning down your house and, worse yet, risking the possibility of third degree burns over your entire body!  Yep, that’s what makes it attractive to guys.  There’s nothing more exciting than risking your life to deliver dinner to the family. 

All levity aside, this is actually an activity you should NOT ENTER INTO LIGHTLY.  I highly recommend that you read up on the safety issues associated with outdoor fryers well before you try this.  Get a good turkey fryer, not a cheap one.  This means sturdy, heavy, and with regard to the burner, powerful but controllable.  Read all instructions.  Then read the accounts of others who’ve done it successfully, i.e., without burning down the house or ending the day in the emergency room. 

The propane hose is wrapped in foil for protection. Note the fire extinguisher under the table.

I strongly suggest that you look at Alton Brown’s recipe at http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/deep-fried-turkey-recipe/index.html.  Alton actually goes overboard on the safety aspects, but I must agree with most of his recommendations, especially the part about having a fire extinguisher handy! 

I followed most of Alton’s instructions, starting with brining the turkey for 16 hours before frying.  This is accomplished by icing down the turkey in a large cooler and immersing it in brine containing ice water, kosher salt, and brown sugar.  This process will keep the turkey moist, improve the browning of the skin, and dramatically enhance the flavor. 

I did NOT build a turkey derrick, as Alton suggests in his video, but otherwise I followed his safety recommendations.  He suggests that you place the turkey into the oil at 250 degrees, then bring the temperature up to 350.  Removing the turkey at an internal temperature of 151 degrees will result in a final internal temperature of 160 or so.  I prefer to go a bit higher than that, so I removed the turkey at 160 and it drifted up to about 172.

The result is shown below.  I think everyone should try this at least once.  Once you do, you may never go back to roasting.  One final suggestion: don’t drink too much beer until the turkey is safely on the platter!

The final product - yum!


The Leaf-Bagging Workout

November 16, 2009

I love my Billy Goat blower - it rocks!

When we returned from Myrtle Beach, we were greeted by the sight of a lawn completely covered in leaves.  Having already removed 14 bags of leaves from the lawn prior to our departure, I was not looking forward to tackling the newly fallen layer.   You see, I live in Mentor, Ohio, an otherwise fairly progressive municipality which nevertheless has an incredibly primitive and backward trait; namely, the total lack of any kind of curbside leaf pick-up.  Warning: ranting & raving begins here: Virtually every other city for miles around has trucks circulating throughout the neighborhood, sucking up vast piles of leaves from treelawns and carrying them off for disposal.  The denizens of these other cities have merely to blow or rake their leaves to the curb, and a day or two later – POOF – they disappear!  Not those of us in Mentor, Ohio (are you reading this, Councilman Micchia?).  We are required to place our leaves in 30 gallon paper bags of a type and size approved by the city, and to transport them to curbside on trash day.  We are limited to setting out no more than 25 bags per week.  HA!!!  I put out 56 bags last week, followed by 69 bags this week, and if the trash guys don’t pick this week’s bags up, they’ll be lookin’ at a stack of a hundred or so by next Thursday!  Fortunately, the guys who pick up the trash are smarter than the guys who wrote the city ordinance in the first place.  End of rant.

Anyway, in an effort to control my blood pressure, I decided to concentrate on the positive aspects of this leaf-removal experience.  I now think of this chore as a customized workout, designed to build up my abs and biceps, improve my stamina, and provide aerobic exercise that I’d otherwise have to pay for by joining a gym.  So here are the components of the Leaf-bagging Workout – give it a try, it’ll help you burn off a few calories!

Blower-pushing Boogie: this exercise is a real workout for the legs.  Build up those glutes and hamstrings as you push that blower around, and around, and around, and around………

Doin' the Boogie!

The Stoop & Scoop: Build up your lats, delts, biceps, and triceps while stretching your back and abs.  Scoop up those leaves!

Stre-e-e-etch those back muscles!

The Power Ram: A great ab and back exercise that also works your shoulders, forearms and wrists.  Packing those leaves down makes room for the next rep of the Stoop & Scoop!

Smash!

The Funnel Jerk & Flip:  Another arm and shoulder workout – and you’re ready to repeat the whole set!

Oh yeah, I'm really getting too old for this s#%$ !

Ain’t it fun?

Baggin’ Update:   As of 11/16/2009, we have now filled 172 bags, and the leaves are still falling…….


Myrtle Beach Notes, Vol.1

October 26, 2009

 In the course of my job search, I decided to contact a few former business acquaintances and explore the employment opportunities elsewhere.  For various reasons, we elected to visit South Carolina.  A very good friend offered us the use of his condominium in Myrtle Beach, and that made the trip feasible.  So Sally, Andy, Sally’s parents, and I packed up the van and headed south.

 The first day we travelled through Ohio, West Virginia, and into North Carolina, stopping in Winston-Salem.  It rained incessantly throughout the entire journey.  Southern hospitality prevailed at the Holiday Inn Express, where we spent our first night out.  Although the Winston-Salem property is not of the newest design, the staff was courteous and friendly, and their service more than made up for any deficiencies in the facility.

We stopped at the Huddle House for a quick lunch, consisting of a chopped pork barbecue sandwich and onion rings.  I wasn’t expecting much from the BBQ, since Huddle House is a chain, albeit a small regional one. However, I was amazed to find that the chopped pork here is the real thing.  The sauce was sweeter than one would get further south, but very smoky, with a strong hint of spiciness.  The meat was slow-cooked, and the crusty burnt ends were chopped up along with everything else, resulting in a product that most Northerners wouldn’t even recognize as what they call barbecue. 

 We finally got a chance to walk on the beach and pick up a few shells the following morning.  Haven’t found any shark teeth yet, but we did get a chance to photograph some of the plant life, etc.

We had lunch north of Myrtle Beach, at Mama Jean’s Home Cooking, where we got some more barbecue, this time with the more familiar South Carolina vinegar-based sauce.  Again, the meat was sumptuous, and the coleslaw and hushpuppies completed the feast.  Magnificent!

After lunch, we checked out an antique mall and did some shopping. We decided to look for pizza near the condo, and luckily, found the Mellow Mushroom a stone’s throw away. Their pizza is incredible, loaded with toppings on a garlic-parmesan crust I can’t begin to describe. As Yogi Berra used to say, “Don’t miss it if you can.” Or something like that.

Gotta do some business tomorrow, but I’ll be posting more pics as the week progresses!

 


Summer’s Over, Winter’s Rolling in, What Happened to Fall?

October 14, 2009
View to the East from Lakefront Lodge
View to the East from Lakefront Lodge

Sunday, Sally and I stopped at Lakefront Lodge and walked down to the lakeshore to get a look at Lake Erie.  The wind was high, and the air coming off the lake was really cold.  One distinctive thing about Lake Erie’s beaches is their wild look when summer is over and the weather starts to get cold.   The beauty of the scenery is probably an acquired taste, since the sky is sometimes leaden and so is the water.  Nevertheless, I like to get out and walk around at this time of year.  I will, however, be praying for warmer weather – today it never got above 46 degrees!

Looking West toward Willoughby

Looking West toward Willoughby

Yes, the water looks grayer than the sky!

Yes, the water looks grayer than the sky!

A little blue sky really helps, even when it's cold

A little blue sky really helps, even when it's cold


It’s Leaf Season…..Again

October 12, 2009
First day in the back yard yielded 7 bags of debris

First day in the back yard yielded 7 bags of debris

My new Echo blower really puts out the power!

My new Echo blower really puts out the power!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve been living in Northeastern Ohio for the past 13 years, and I’m coming up on fall number 14.  Of the 13 previous seasons, I’ve paid landscapers to clean up the leaves on my property for eight of those years.  I estimate that I’ve spent nearly $10,000, all told, just getting rid of the leaves, twigs, branches, acorns, maple seeds, bark, shavings, and assorted debris that have accumulated on my lawn over this period. 

Over the years, I’ve purchased three leaf vaccum/shredder/blowers, a self-propelled lawn vac/chipper/shredder, a lawn mower that mulches and bags yard waste, a tiller, a chain saw, 400 or 500 feet of electrical cord to drive the electrically powered equipment , and over the five or so years that I actually removed the leaves myself, roughly 400 biodegradable paper yard waste bags at a cost of about 75 cents each. 

This year so far, I’ve filled 12 of those 30 gallon bags, and it’s only the first week.   You see, this year I have two excuses for firing my landscaper (a task which I wisely pawned off on my wife, Sally) and doing the job myself.  First, and most important, I’m unemployed, and I don’t have $800 to $1000 to spend on leaf cleanup.  Secondly, now that I have some time at home, I can actually do the job correctly, which is something that has not happened in the past eight years.   

It’s not that I’m unsympathetic to landscapers, but they all have one recurring problem that makes my life a living hell.  Specifically, every year around November, when all the leaves have finally fallen, and it’s absolutely imperative to get them cleaned up before the first snowfall, the landscapers simply disappear.  Most of the time, they’re getting their equipment ready for snowplowing season, having completely forgotten about  the leaf removal for which they’ve already been paid.   In one instance, my landscaper actually packed up, left town, and took a couple of weeks of vacation, never to be heard from until the following spring.  So, having already paid for the cleanup, I ended up doing it myself.  In other years, I have had landscapers show up every week or so during the fall, only to inform me, as the final deluge came down, that the best they could do was to move them to the back of my lot, to be cleaned up and removed in the spring.   Strangely, when spring arrived, they made the pile bigger rather than smaller. 

In short, I’ve been trying to get leaves and brush removed from my property for years.   I have more compost than I know what to do with, and I still have a pile of leaves 30 feet in diameter and five feet high, left over from last year! 

But this year will be different.  You can bet on it, because I’ll be doing this job, mostly alone, with help from Andy, and believe me, Sally won’t be accepting any excuses like those landscapers gave.  When the snow flies, the ground had better be clear of leaves!

This big plastic funnel simplifies the chore of filling 30 gallon bags

This big plastic funnel simplifies the chore of filling 30 gallon bags

I bought a gas powered blower this year, and I’m planning on gettng a larger wheeled version for the really heavy stuff in a few weeks.  Despite all this, I’ll be spending less than I would have by hiring someone to do the work.  The last time I did this, I filled 105 bags of leaves.  This year could be a record-setter!


A Long-ago Conversation with “Aunt Hattie”

October 6, 2009

While I was putting the post on Brown and Adams County together, I dredged up some old research material.  This reference was found on a website called Planet Murphy.  It contains a lot of genealogical information on a number of Irish families, including the Ellisons.  This excerpt contains a reference to J.R. Murphy’s encounter with our “Aunt Hattie” (whose real name was Harriet Osman) at the old log house on Vaughn’s Chapel Road, about 47 years ago:

J.R. Murphy, www.planetmurphy.org – revised 1 January 2005a

 The following was found my visit to Adams County about 1962 searching for James Ellison. This visit happened one summer day while in graduate school at the University of Michigan. Communications between Ellison descendents had long ceased and there was little information about Adams County. After reviewing an Adams County history book, it was apparent that there was another Ellison clan, probably related, but not of interest at this time. James Ellison and his family were my targets. I drove east of Dunkinsville searching for a minor cemetery which might have our own Ellisons. At approximately the reported cemetery location, there seemed to be nothing. So I stopped the car at an 1802 farm house and knocked on the door. When the door opened, an elderly lady greeted me, and I asked, “I’m looking for a cemetery with Ellisons and am a descendant of Stewart Ellison.” She replied, “Come on in, I know who Stewart Ellison is and I have all the records.” This was Mrs. Harriet Ellison Osman who lived five miles due east of Dunkinsville.

James Ellison was a member of the royal body-guard of the King of England for 16 years. After having his fifth child he decided to sail to America in 1820, leaving his family until he could raise sufficient money to send for them. On the way to America he was ship-wrecked, losing everything he owned except his bible. The bible was in the possession of Mrs. Osman in 1962. She was a descendant of Andrew Ellison (1811). The bible still showed the water-marks from the ship-wreck. In her possession were the immigration papers of James Ellison, which stated he was from Omaf, Ireland and the name of his father, Andrew Ellison, and his wife’s father, Thaman Stewart. He entered through the Department of Immigration on 2 September 1820. Osman thought that James Ellison lived on Wheat Ridge in the vicinity of Dunkinsville or West Union.

Mrs. Osman reported children and early descendants were buried in the “private” Ellison cemetery next to her 1802 farmhouse.

Mrs. Osman also added that Mary Stewart was also from Omaf, Ireland and had a twin sister, Myra Stewart, who married William McNeilan. So far, “Omaf” cannot be located. Shirley Graham reported on ancestry.com that Myra’s husband was actually Thomas McNeilan, and that one son, William McNeilan (1 May 1808 County Tyrone, Ireland), and a sister, Jane McNeilan, (1817) did immigrate to Adams County Ohio (about 1846-1850 for William). In 1850, William McNeilan was adjacent to Andrew Ellison on the census.

Comment: My biggest regret with this meeting is that an exact handwritten copy wasn’t made of the immigration paper to be sure there can be no other interpretation. Should it again surface (i.e. at the Adams County Library or in someone’s possession), this should be done. Mary Schmertz (descendant of John Ellison + Margaret Thompson) echoed this sentiment: “There are several things that make finding the truth about the Ellisons difficult. …Most of the family history comes from Hattie (Harriet Ellison Osman), who was apparently a stubborn woman who wouldn’t accept even solid evidence that (some of) her information was incorrect (e-mail of 16 October 2004).”

Hattie lies in the Ellison family plot near Dunkinsville

Hattie lies in the Ellison family plot near Dunkinsville

This may be the grave of James Ellison's wife - or not - too many Ellisons and not enough names to go around!

This may be the grave of James Ellison's wife, but it's hard to be sure. Too many Ellisons and not enough names to go around!

I’m not sure about the accuracy of Hattie’s genealogical data, but Mr. Murphy definitely got the “stubborn” part right! 


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