Picnic Time!

Bill West at West in New England has asked the genea-bloggers to participate in a Genea-Bloggers Picnic. Here are some questions he asked:

*What food does your family serve at picnics?
Our annual must-attend picnic is my parents’ Fourth of July picnic at their beautiful log home on the mountainside north of Colville, Washington. Traditionally, we grill hamburgers and hot dogs and have all the condiments: ketchup, mustard, mayo, pickles and/or relish, onion, lettuce, and tomatoes. There’s usually potato salad, potato chips, and there MUST be baked beans. That’s because Dad, like myself, is a traditionalist. He swears that at every Robbins Reunion that he attended as a kid there was nothing served but beans and dessert. Apparently there were dozens of bean dishes. He tells me this every year, and every year I remember that he inherited the Robbins’ gene for storytelling, which although it always starts out with the truth, tends to grow and take on a life of its own! Mm-hmm.

When my niece’s family comes, they almost always brings a cold three-bean salad that I love.

There are often veggie and fruit trays, soft drinks, and several desserts. Janet (Mom’s friend) always brings a peanut-butter pie. When work kept her away this Fourth, her husband Pete did the honors.

*Are there traditional foods or family recipes?
Dad does have a special recipe for the beans. He starts out with canned baked beans, but adds all kinds of yummy stuff: mustard, molasses, etc. Can’t be beat! I usually make a Jello Wave Your Flag cake.

*Is there one particular relative’s specialty you wish you could taste again or one perfect picnic day you wish you could go back and relive?
One of my favorite times was a Spring Break when I was a high school junior, I think. The weather was beautiful, we had a picnic with a bonfire and roasted hot dogs and marshmallows for s’mores. Then we came in and watched “The Music Man” on TV.

Here’s some more ideas I came up with, and added to my AnceStories2 blog:

*You could expand to write about family reunions, past and present, and what kinds of foods were/are brought to them. As a child, I only remember attending one reunion, the Lewis family reunion in 1979 in Michigan. I have no idea what we ate, but I do remember that one of the great-granduncles had an ice cream cart!

At the Midkiff Family Reunions that I coordinated in 1990 and in 1999 in the Spokane Valley, we split up the list of names and had one group bring main dishes, one bring salads and side dishes, and the third, desserts. Everyone had to bring their own meat to grill. The reunion committee supplied buns, condiments, beverages, and paper/plastic goods. It worked out well.

*You could add what dish everyone loved to eat, and which one people were sneaking off to scrap into the garbage so they wouldn’t hurt the cook’s feelings!
Everyone loves my Wave Your Flag cake. Janet has an interesting story about her peanut butter pie. Seems her Aunt Ruth is a horrible cook, yet Janet’s husband Pete is always polite and will eat whatever Ruth sets before him. One time, Ruth mentioned she had made a peanut butter pie. Janet quickly declined, but Pete of course took a serving. He started nudging Janet, “You’ve got to try this!” Janet couldn’t believe it! Aunt Ruth had finally made something edible, and not only that, delicious! And Janet blesses us by bringing one to the Fourth of July picnic/BBQ every year!

*Is there a picnic basket, old ice chest, a BBQ grill or camp stove, a special dish (physical, not recipe) or picnic cloth that’s been handed down in the family and used for decades at picnics, potlucks, or reunions?
We have a picnic basket that used to belong to Norm’s great-grandparents. I use it as a decorative piece in my dining room, but very occasionally we’ll use it. Norm’s dad loves garage sales, and he’s found us a few old metal green Thermoses. He’ll fill one with coffee for us before we leave their place for our long ride home.

*Is there a favorite campground, park, home, or meeting place where picnics or reunions regularly occurred?
There’s a great little campground north of Colville at Mill Creek. We camped there for a few days in our camper when my parents first bought their home and we were waiting for the family to move out. Then we decided to take a trip back to Michigan, but that’s another story! This campground has a swinging bridge that my dad and brother used to play on when my brother (now 34) was five years old. Adriaen would trip across the bridge, and my dad would pretend to be the troll from Billy Goats Gruff. My brother was gut-giggling so hard, he nearly fell off the bridge! Near the falls there’s a great rock with drill holes in it from when the mill used to be there, gosh, 150 years ago? That rock is a good place to sit while fishing.

*What about unwelcome guests like ants, mosquitoes, and yellow jackets? Raccoons, anyone?
My son, Matthew, is a yellow jacket and mosquito magnet. I tell him it’s because he’s so sweet! I can’t tell you how many picnics and play days we had at lakes and streams where he’d get bit/stung. Fortunately, he’s not allergic.

*What favorite picnic or reunion photos do you have, especially ancestral?
I’ve got one of my mother’s ancestors, the Valks at a picnic, and another of a Lewis family reunion taken around 1924.


Source: The Valk Family. Photograph. Taken c. 1915 – 1918, probably in Grand Rapids, Kent Co., Michigan. Original photograph believed to be in the possession of John Hanson, Little Silver, New Jersey. 2000.

Source: The Lewis Family Reunion. Photograph. Taken c. 1924, probably in Muskegon Heights, Muskegon Co., Michigan. Original in the possession of Jeanne Holst Robbins, Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan. 2008. Reprint held by Miriam Robbins Midkiff, Spokane, Washington. 2008.

*Beverages served, games and activities played, stories told…all contain memories that future generations will someday treasure, if they’re left for posterity!
I especially like Bocci, which I learned to play in my students’ PE classes, but I need to buy a set for the next picnic!

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Clark Pleasant TOLLIVER (1861 – 1918)


Source: Tombstone of P.C. Tolliver, Evergreen Cemetery, Los Angeles, Los Angeles Co., California. Digital photograph taken by “Guardian,” Find A Grave photo volunteer, at the request of Miriam Robbins Midkiff. 11 September 2006. Digital copy in the possession of Miriam Robbins Midkiff, Spokane, Washington. 2006.

Clark Pleasant TOLLIVER…or was it Pleasant Clark TOLLIVER?…was my husband’s great-great-grandfather, born 25 May 1861 in North Carolina, probably in or near Glade Creek, Allegheny County. His parents were Jacob F. TOLIVER (1831 – 1898), a Civil War veteran, and Matilda HIGGINS (1829 – 1906). Clark had two older siblings (Amanda Phidella and Rose Phidella) and two younger siblings (Solomon and John Houston) before his parents divorced sometime before 1882. That was a time when divorce was not as common nor easy to obtain as it is today, and I hope to someday obtain a copy of their court records to discover more about that situation.

In 1882, Clark’s father remarried to Caroline CHEEK (1849 – 19270, with whom he had one known son, Clayton. Clark was a young man by this time, and not long after, he removed to Battle Creek, Madison Co., Nebraska, where he met and married Senna “Senie” COLLINS (1870 – 1950) on 3 July 1886. The couple had five children while they lived in Nebraska: a child who died young; Margie Ethel (my husband’s great-grandmother, who he remembers well); John Houston; Zada Elizabeth; and Emma Leah. The family then moved further west to Hotchkiss Twp., Delta Co., Colorado, where they had four more children: Mae; Mitchell Luther; Elsie (who died in infancy); and Lorna Ermine.

It was in Delta County that they met the MIDKIFF family. Margie married a widower in 1907, John Franklin MIDKIFF, who had four older children, including Edna Susan, whom Mitchell married 13 years later in California. Thus there were Midkiff and Tolliver cousins who were doubly related: first cousins on the Tollier side of the family and half-nieces and nephews on the other.

Sometime before 1915, Clark and Senie moved once again, this time to Los Angeles. Clark died there 22 May 1918. Senie lived until 1950. They are buried in separate cemeteries: Clark at Evergreen and Senie at Forest Lawn in Glendale.

The Newest Twig on the Midkiff Family Tree

Lillian Love Fawbush was born today, June 12th, at 2:40 PM in Spokane, Washington. She weighs 6 lbs., 12 oz. and is 20.5 inches long. She joins proud parents Nathan and Jennie (nee Midkiff) and big sister Evelyn. (Jennie is my husband’s niece.)

Lillian Love was named for her paternal grandmother and her grandmother (Love is a family surname).

Pix here.

The Newest Twig on the Midkiff Family Tree

Lillian Love Fawbush was born today, June 12th, at 2:40 PM in Spokane, Washington. She weighs 6 lbs., 12 oz. and is 20.5 inches long. She joins proud parents Nathan and Jennie (nee Midkiff) and big sister Evelyn. (Jennie is my husband’s niece.)

Lillian Love was named for her paternal grandmother and her grandmother (Love is a family surname).

Pix here.

A Civil War Soldier: Pvt. William Franklin MIDKIFF (1833 – 192)

Source: Midkiff, William Franklin. Photograph. C. 1890. Whereabouts of original photograph unknown.

How Related: Brother of my husband’s 2nd-great-grandfather

Born: 4 January 1833 in Lincoln (now Moore) Co., Tennessee

Parents: Franklin Preston MIDKIFF (c. 1800 – c. 1839) and Ellender “Nellie” OLIVER (c. 1807 – c. 1849)

Siblings: William was one of seven siblings and one of three brothers that served the Confederacy from Texas: Sarah Ann (1826 – 1912); unknown sister (b. c. 1825 – 1830); Elizabeth Carrie “Betsey” (1830 – 1912); John Rufus “J.R.” (1835 – 1909); unknown brother (b. c. 1836 – 1840); and Charles Anderson MIDKIFF, Sr. (1839 – 1919)

Married: first to Frances Elizabeth COLE (1835 – 1905) on 4 September 1851 in Fayetteville, Lincoln Co., Tennessee. She was the sister of Louisa COLE, who married William’s brother, J.R. MIDKIFF. Married second to Emma POINDEXTER (dates unknown), probably in Cooke Co., Texas

Children: With his wife Frances, William had 13 children:

  • Marcus Franklin (1852 – 1868)
  • James Jefferson “Jeff” (1854 – 1890)
  • Martha Ann (1856 – 1858)
  • Mary Jane (1859 – 1937)
  • William Davis (1861 – 1864)
  • George Price (1864 – 1847)
  • Margaret Susan (1865 – 1941)
  • John Horace “Bud” (1867 – 1937)
  • twins Thomas Jackson (1870 – 1943) and Robert Lee (1870 – 1952)
  • Kathryn Elizabeth “Kate” (1872 – 1949)
  • William Petty (changed to William Preston) (1875 – 1950)
  • Emma Tennessee (1877 – 1877)

Enlisted: 1 February 1864 in Co. D, Cooke County First Frontier District; private

Side served: Confederacy

Discharged: unknown

Biography or Information of Interest: The First Frontier District Regiment was much like a home guard or national guard, whose purpose was “keeping out the Indians & arresting deserters and those persons who are avoiding conscriptions and draft services…”

After the war, William returned to his farm at Sivells Bend, Cooke Co., Texas. Later, his family removed to nearby Gainsville. Much of William’s story can also be found in Midkiff: A Texas Family, Town and Way of Life.

Died: 3 July 1920 in Gainsville, Cooke Co., Texas

Buried: Gainsville Cemetery, Gainsville, Cooke Co., Texas

A Civil War Soldier: Pvt. William Franklin MIDKIFF (1833 – 192)

Source: Midkiff, William Franklin. Photograph. C. 1890. Whereabouts of original photograph unknown.

How Related: Brother of my husband’s 2nd-great-grandfather

Born: 4 January 1833 in Lincoln (now Moore) Co., Tennessee

Parents: Franklin Preston MIDKIFF (c. 1800 – c. 1839) and Ellender “Nellie” OLIVER (c. 1807 – c. 1849)

Siblings: William was one of seven siblings and one of three brothers that served the Confederacy from Texas: Sarah Ann (1826 – 1912); unknown sister (b. c. 1825 – 1830); Elizabeth Carrie “Betsey” (1830 – 1912); John Rufus “J.R.” (1835 – 1909); unknown brother (b. c. 1836 – 1840); and Charles Anderson MIDKIFF, Sr. (1839 – 1919)

Married: first to Frances Elizabeth COLE (1835 – 1905) on 4 September 1851 in Fayetteville, Lincoln Co., Tennessee. She was the sister of Louisa COLE, who married William’s brother, J.R. MIDKIFF. Married second to Emma POINDEXTER (dates unknown), probably in Cooke Co., Texas

Children: With his wife Frances, William had 13 children:

  • Marcus Franklin (1852 – 1868)
  • James Jefferson “Jeff” (1854 – 1890)
  • Martha Ann (1856 – 1858)
  • Mary Jane (1859 – 1937)
  • William Davis (1861 – 1864)
  • George Price (1864 – 1847)
  • Margaret Susan (1865 – 1941)
  • John Horace “Bud” (1867 – 1937)
  • twins Thomas Jackson (1870 – 1943) and Robert Lee (1870 – 1952)
  • Kathryn Elizabeth “Kate” (1872 – 1949)
  • William Petty (changed to William Preston) (1875 – 1950)
  • Emma Tennessee (1877 – 1877)

Enlisted: 1 February 1864 in Co. D, Cooke County First Frontier District; private

Side served: Confederacy

Discharged: unknown

Biography or Information of Interest: The First Frontier District Regiment was much like a home guard or national guard, whose purpose was “keeping out the Indians & arresting deserters and those persons who are avoiding conscriptions and draft services…”

After the war, William returned to his farm at Sivells Bend, Cooke Co., Texas. Later, his family removed to nearby Gainsville. Much of William’s story can also be found in Midkiff: A Texas Family, Town and Way of Life.

Died: 3 July 1920 in Gainsville, Cooke Co., Texas

Buried: Gainsville Cemetery, Gainsville, Cooke Co., Texas

A Civil War Soldier: Pvt. John Rufus "J.R." MIDKIFF (1835 – 1909)

Source: Midkiff, John Rufus, Sr. Reprint of photograph. C. 1890. Original believed to be in the possession of John and Mary Lou Midkiff, Midkiff, Texas, 2004.

How Related: Brother of my husband’s 2nd-great-grandfather

Born: 13 January 1835 in Lincoln (now Moore) Co., Tennessee

Parents: Franklin Preston MIDKIFF (c. 1800 – c. 1839) and Ellender “Nellie” OLIVER (c. 1807 – c. 1849)

Siblings: John was one of seven siblings and one of three brothers that served the Confederacy from Texas: Sarah Ann (1826 – 1912); unknown sister (b. c. 1825 – 1830); Elizabeth Carrie “Betsey” (1830 – 1912); William Franklin (1833 – 1920); unknown brother (b. c. 1836 – 1840); an Charles Anderson MIDKIFF, Sr. (1839 – 1919)

Married: first to Louisa Maria COLE (1839 – 1878) on 2 October 1856 in Lincoln (now Moore) Co., Tennessee. She was the sister to his brother William’s wife, Frances. Married second to Judith “Judee” FARMER (c. 1842 – 1892) on 20 June 1878 in Grayson Co., Texas.

Children: Children of J.R. and Louisa:

  • Charles Preston (1857 – 1933)
  • Jeffalonia Elizabeth (1861 – 1955)
  • John Rufus, Jr. (1863 – 1880)
  • Martha Ann “Mattie” (1865 – 1956)
  • William Marcus (1868 – 1934)
  • Franklin Alexander (1870 – 1902)
  • Thomas Oscar “T.O.” (1872 – 1940)

Child of J.R. and Judee: Maud MIDKIFF (1880 – 1880)

Source: Compiled Service Record Jacket of J. R. Midkiff. Compiled Service Records of Confederate Soldiers Who Served in Organizations from the State of Texas. National Archives and Records Administration. Publication M323. Digital image purchased at Footnote [http://www.footnote.com/].

Enlisted: with his brother Charles on 5 June 1862 at Whitemound, Grayson Co., Texas in D.W. Baker’s Company (Co. A), Hardeman’s Cavalry (1st Regiment, Arizona Brigade, 31st Cavalry); private; Transferred 1 December 1863 to Capt. LeKorster’s Company (E), 4th Regiment, Arizona Brigade.

Side served: Confederacy

Discharged: unknown

Biography or Information of Interest: Much of the biography of J.R.’s life can be found in the book Midkiff: A Texas Family, Town, and Way of Life by Mary Lou Midkiff, which traces the stories of J.R. and his son Thomas Oscar Midkiff and their successful attempts to provide a new and good life for their families in West Texas through the hard work of cattle ranching. J.R. had a general store for many years on his ranch in Midland County, which had a little post office with the postmark, Midkiff, Texas. Years later, a new post office with the same name was built not far over the county border in Upton County. You can read more in a post I published last November.

Died: 23 January 1909 of cancer, in Whitesboro, Grayson Co., Texas

Buried: between the graves of his first and second wives in Whitesboro Cemetery, Whitesboro, Grayson Co., Texas