Thursday, November 25, 2010

It's Been Too Long

Happy Thanksgiving to All.

The title has a double meaning - it's been too long since I posted anything AND it had been WAY too long since I saw my BFF Marsha Jane Johnson Bryant and then my relatives in Virginia. So....I took off for a long visit in late September to North Carolina, Virginia and wee bit in South Carolina.

This is "my girl" Marsha and me standing by the James River on our way to walk around the Jamestown Historic Park.

I had not seen my cousin Jim since the late 80's - and he has had serious health issues in the past couple of years - so Marsha and I went and stayed with him, and his lovely and gracious wife Beverley, for a few nights. First of all - their house is absolutely gorgeous and they were the most gracious of hosts you could ask for.
Second, I just wanted to hang out with Jim - and catch up. We had many great times when we were growing up together. Here's proof.

The other fellow on the far right is a little boy named Sam, and he was a foster child who stayed with Jim and his family once upon a time. My daddy and mother wanted to adopt him - he was to be my brother!! But, alas, the State of Virginia would not allow him to be adopted in Florida. Here's hoping that little Sam had a good and secure life.

Here is Jim and me - at this time in our life - along with his wife Beverley and his mother - my Aunt Rosetta.

Back to Jamestown - in all my genealogy research I found that way up my Carter-Erambert-Sheffield branch my 9th great-granparents were John and Ann Johnson who just happen to be shown on the 1624 Jamestown Census!! Here are a couple of pictures from the unbelievable Jamestown historic site - where there are current archeology digs in progress.

We got to walk around with one of the archeologists for about an hour and learn alot about the historic significance of what they are finding - and also how life was really tough in the Jamestown colony.

That afternoon, we took a walk around Williamsburg. Luckily for me, my Cousin Jim actually lives in Williamsburg - so very convenient for tourist me! We didn't do any of the museums - not enough time - but just seeing the "living museum" that Old Williamsburg is was so worth it!! Especially for this DAR member!!

This is the Virginia Colony Governor's mansion - it was GOOD to be the governor.

Ok - so that's it for this time. Next post - I'll tell you about the Benton's North Carolina connections! Many generations lived around the Wilmington-Brunswick County area.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Good Old Florida Days

This will be a quick one, but I just have to post a couple of old pictures I came across today.

The first one above is some shindig or other the dear mothers or Archer, Florida put together when I was about 4. I think it was called a "Tom Thumb Wedding" and it was held in the Archer School Gym - which is still standing. I barely remember it at all, but I do remember being so afraid that I was crying, which made my mother laugh and say that "mothers are supposed to cry at weddings". I portayed the mother of the bride or groom - not sure which. The lovely bride is my very dear friend, Lura Williams and I think that is Frank Batey as the groom. I am the "lady in black" on the back left side.

Next - and this is for my cousins in Florida and their children - my cousin Larry Benton and his sister, little Miss Donna Benton. Honestly - I think this picture of Larry looks quite a bit like one of his gorgeous grandsons. These two adorable kids were my "living dolls" growing up. I was the "big" cousin - 5 years older than Larry and 6 years older than Donna.

Thank you, Donna, for all your patience in having your hair done a hundred different ways. And Larry, thank you for always loving me like a sister - even after all these years.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Faith of our Fathers (and Mothers)

The past few weeks have been a whirl of family secrets revealed and exciting discoveries of family history. You know - I am just the biggest history nut in the world and it is so much more interesting when it involves your own family.

In trying to track down where my great-great-grandmother, Margiana Cathren Erambert Carter (also known as Kate) might be buried, I was getting stumped. By the way, my Nana - Margie Anna Carter Camp Stokes was quite obviously named for her. Well, she was not buried anywhere near the grave of her husband, John Thomas Solomon Carter (whew - is that a mouthful or what?) This is a picture of his headstone at Mt. Zion Cemetery in Cass County, Texas.

It is so hard to read what people put on these old headstones, but here is transcript of what is written on his. "No pain, no grief, no anxious fear can reach the peaceful sleeper here". I think that is so touching. He died at the very young age of 26, after having traversed with his wife and young family to make the move from Terrell, Georgia to the far northeast Texas lands.

I also had found her mother Sarah Erambert's headstone very near J.T.S. Carter. And here it is.

Sarah was a widow and she had moved with her daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren to look for opportunity in Texas. Her headstone has the following inscription:
"We saw not the angel who met her at the gate of the City. We could not see over the river, Over the river our mother stands - Waiting to welcome us". Obviously, my ancestors were people of deep faith.

There a many, many Carters (and Camps) buried in this cemetery. And, let me quickly tell you this is a very historic old pioneer church. The congregation has been disbanded for many years, but they still have a once-a-year service at the church, and all who ever attended or who have ancestors buried in the graveyard and welcomed. I am thinking I WILL be at the next one. It is a covered dish lunch following, and I can attest to what that means in East Texas from the family reunions I attended when I was growing up. Here is the Texas Historic Marker from Mt. Zion Baptist Church.

And here is a picture of the inside of this old church.

As usual, thanks to, I found someone else who had Kate Erambert in their tree. I contacted them, because their tree is "private" and got a quick response. Kate remarried, after her husband John (my great-great-grandfather) passed away. She married William Harrison Sedgass and she is buried in Trinity Cemetery. (The person who contacted me is the grandchild of Ruth Carter who was my great-grandfather Charley Carter's sister - so they are some sort of cousin of mine).

I had also been to Trinity cemetery on the same day as I visited Mt. Zion. My Charley T. Carter, son of said Kate, is buried there along with my great-grandmother Lily Ann Fason Carter.

Several other close family members are buried at Trinity, including my sweet uncle James Earl Camp, who died at the tender age of 12. He was the one who stayed behind when Nana brought my mother, Gladys and my Uncle Joe to Florida.

His little headstone just says "Gone Home".

And here is a picture of old Trinity Methodist Church.

So, I'll be heading back to Jefferson, Texas within the next month or so, and going to Trinity Cemetery to look for my great-great-grandmother's burial site. I am on the trail of membership in the Daughters of the Texas Republic, because Miss Margiana Cathren Erambert Carter Sedgass was the daughter of Charles Erambert who served in the Army of Texas during 1837. He had come all the way from Virginia to help the newly found Republic of Texas as they continued to struggle for independence from Mexico. Charles was granted two "bounty land grants" of 480 acres each for his service. He promptly sold them both after his discharge and headed back towards Virginia. On the way he stopped in Baton Rouge and there he met and married a young widow named Sarah Sheffield Edwards. Coincidentally, it is through Sarah's grandfather that I have my membership in the Daughters of the American Revolution. Their story is fascinating - and you will hear more about that one in the future. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

My Margie

Margie Carter Camp - circa 1931-1934??

So, when last we met, I had made contact with and visited my long-lost Camp family around the Shreveport, Texarkana and Jefferson, TX area. What I didn't have room to say in that LONG post was that all my life when I was growing up - my grandmother Margie, my mother and I would come to that area - every two years - for about two weeks in the summer. We came to attend two family reunions which were held around July 4th.

One of the families we always spent a night or two with was my grandmother's brother John and his wife Zanah Carter. They had A LOT of children - from some that were my mother's age down to a couple of girls who were just a little bit older than I was. And - coincidentally - one of those daughters was also named Lynda - with a Y.

During conversations with my newly found uncle James Leland Camp, he has shared that his dad (my grandfather Jim Camp) and his second wife Hattie remained very good friends with John and Zanah through the years. He recalls visiting their house often and that they would come over to visit Jim and Hattie - even spending the night. So....this begs the question...why didn't John and/or Zanah ever tell Jim where his children were? You see...Jim Camp always believed that Margie had taken the children and moved to CALIFORNIA. Holy cow - sure glad that didn't turn out to be true.

Well, so be it, maybe they felt on some level they should not get involved. But James Leland and I think it so strange that he and his parents were often in the same places that Margie, Mother and I were. My poor Mother always believed that her Daddy had abandoned her, wanted nothing more to do with her and her brothers - or something to that effect. And, I don't know what his true thoughts were - but I believe he did love them and wondered where they were.

After he remarried, he still felt love for Margie (my grandmother). One night, he couldn't sleep and was up and wrote a song about her. First thing the next morning he told his wife, Hattie that he wanted to tell her something. He didn't want her to be offended or have her feelings hurt, he said, but he had to write this song.
So, let me share the lyrics here with you. James Leland so very kindly gave me one of the two remaining copies of the sheet music.

My Margie
lyrics by J.D. Camp music by Gene Brooks

I've been wondering since you went away My Margie,
What I'd done to make us drift so far apart.
Since the day you went away to love another,
My love for you still burns deep in my heart.

After twelve long happy years we spent together,
I still wonder why you felt you had to roam.
Til the day I die I know I'll still be wondering,
If you will change your mind and come back home.

I am sure down in your heart you know I loved you.
Yes, I loved you more than human tongue can tell.
And I wonder if in trhis great lonely world dear,
Together we will ever chance to dwell.

My thoughts are always with you, My Margie.
And our loved one's you've had through long years past.
If in this world we never meet again dear,
May we meet in the world on high at last.

You may remember I mentioned "secrets" in the previous post - and
within the lyrics of this song, you will see at least one of them.

Here is a picture of James Daniel Camp, my grandfather. How
I wish I could have known him here in this world - but I am looking
forward to a reunion, as he says, in the "world on high".

Remember that line in the chorus - "and our loved ones you've had since longs years past"? I believe that line refers to his three "lost" children. The eldest, James Earl, passed away within a year after he remained in Texas with his grandparents and Margie, Gladys (my mother) and Joe had moved to Florida. My grandfather was not informed until six months after his son had died. I'm going to post another picture of Earl and Joe - and look at those crazy high-top tennis shoes Earl is wearing. James Leland tells me that his father (my grandfather) kept those shoes for years, in a box along with other memories.

I just wish my mother would have known all this, in her life, but you know, I guess when she went to "that world on high" in 1979, her Daddy was probably right there waiting for her, and her brother James Earl right by his side.

This is all very emotional for me - and I truly feel the loss of not having had the chance to know James Daniel Carter "in this lonely world". He passed away in 1963. See you in Heaven Papa Jim (this is how his other grandchildren refer to him).

My Other Side - Camp Family

If you read my blog - you know how proud I am to be a Benton - and to have grown up surrounded by that wonderful Clan. I greatly credit who I am to having been raised in a big extended family of grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins. We had some great times.

Even so...there has always been another side that was missing. You see, my sweet mother, Gladys Lorraine Stokes Benton, was, in truth, Gladys Lorraine CAMP Stokes Benton. She, along with her two brothers James Earl and Joe Edward were born to Margie Anna Carter Camp and James Daniel Camp in and around Jefferson, Texas back in the 1920's.

This is a picture of Joe Edward Camp and James Earl Camp circa 1930.

And here is their sister and my mother Gladys Lorraine Camp at age 7 - which would be sometime after July 1930.

Like Glinda the Good says in "Wicked", every family has their secrets - and mine has its fair share. At some point, in the year or so after these pictures were made, things went wrong in the Jim and Margie Camp family. I won't get into the details here - but it was sudden and sad. The parents went their separate ways and these three sweet children were left with my great-grandparents, Charley and Lily Carter. They did not know where their parents were - or if they would ever see them again. Before I - or you - start "blaming" anyone - let's remember this was the Depression -with a CAPITAL D. Times were very different, easy communication from distances was difficult and people were trying to survive.

Sometime two or three years later after the EVENT, Margie returned - reportedly having been in Oklahoma trying to find work and put together money to raise her children. She then took Gladys and Joe and moved to Florida. James Earl stayed behind with his grandmother and uncles on the Carter Farm. Charley had passed away during this time.

This picture was taken around the time Margie returned and moved with Joe and Gladys to Florida.

So, first Margie and the children went around Lake Okeechobee - and she had a hard time finding work. They traveled north and landed in Gainesville, Florida. And thus, I am a native Floridian - and proud of it - rather than being a native Texan - which I also sort-of claim - and proud of my Texas heritage as well.

This picture is of Gladys and Joe after they are living in Florida.

Margie met and married Furman Lee Stokes in Gainesville - in 1938. He was a wonderful man and he loved Joe and Gladys and was a good "Daddy" to them for the rest of their lives. But...when I was a curious child, I wanted to know what happened to their "original" Daddy. I was just told - he abandoned his family. Of course, as with secrets, that was not the whole story - or necessarily even the true story. That will all be in a different post. Let's just say, I was always bothered to not know anything about my Grandfather Camp.

You may know, I am into genealogy and family history. Through my research I truly hit a dead end where James Daniel Camp - my biological grandfather - was concerned. So, I posted a question on (By the way, if you aren't watching Lisa Kudrow's program on NBC, "Who Do You Think You Are?" - which is sponsored by - you should. It is wonderful). As usual, I digress.

I was contacted, through my post on, by Mike Stout who told me his wife, Christine, was the daughter of Frank Camp, who was the brother of my grandfather James Daniel Camp. We began to email back and forth - and found we had some similar pictures of James when he was a young man. Mike told me that my grandfather had remarried and had two more children, Elizabeth Ann and James Leland. He had heard that Elizabeth Ann had died but thought James Leland might still be living. I am having visions now of a brother my mother never knew she had. I am picturing a man - probably in his late 70's who could go at any time. I wanted to meet him, or at least talk to him. Maybe he would know what had happened to my grandfather and why he never had contact with my mother and uncles.

About a month ago, Mike Stout (who is a truly kind and generous person) emailed me and said that James Leland Camp's wife had passed away and Christine was going to go to the funeral and would try to tell James Leland Camp about me and find out if it would be okay if I contacted him. She did get to tell him and he said - yes, by all means - please have her call me. I finally did last week call him. I felt awkward and shy to some extent - what would I say?? Well, when he answered the phone, I just said "Is this James Leland?". He said, "Yes it is". Then I said, "well this is Lynda, I am your niece." The conversation started and has continued and this weekend I met some of my Camp family - at long last. Here I am with my "Uncle" James. He is only six years older than me, so he seems more like a cousin, and definitely like a friend.

I hope I have "teased" you with this posting. So, stay tuned, for more about my adventure into my family's past and the mysteries surrounding what happened way back in the 1930's.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Finally...the rest of the St. Louis Story

Well, to make it short and sweet - we had another fun day going to see Grant's Farm. Seems the Busch family (of Anheuser-Busch) had a big estate a few miles out of St. Louis, which they loved and used.

It is called "Grant's Farm" because the land originally belonged to Ulysses S. Grant's wife's family, and they were given some land and a house their when they married. This is adjacent to Grant's Farm and is a National Historic Site. Apparently U.S. Grant would ride his horse from his military post in St. Louis out to court his future bride on this farm.

The Busch family lived near the brewery in the city and it would take a whole day to take a buggy out to their "country estate". Finally, Mr. Adolphus Busch moved the family to the farm when transportation became easier between city and country.

Mr. Adolphus Busch loved wild animals, and it became a bit of an animal sanctuary over the years. Mr. Augustus Busch, who passed away in 1989, is the one who is responsible for those wonderful parks many have enjoyed - Busch Gardens. Anyway, it is now mostly open to the public, and the grounds are beautiful and full of wonderful animals to see up close and personal.

A little "aside" about Mr. Gus - when my daddy was still alive, he had the opportunity to go fishing with Mr. Gus on the Miss Budweiser, out of Tampa. It was all set up by none other than Roger Maris - Yankee great and record setting home-run hitter - who owned the Budweiser distributorship in Gainesville after his retirement from baseball. Anyway - so I have a special place in my heart for Mr. Gus.

On the grounds of Grant's Farm is the famous Budweiser Clydesdale Stud farm - and we got to see several of these magnificent animals up close. This one is named Carter.

One of the most fun parts is getting "baby bottles" and feeding the goats. They don't seem to get enough of this and will climb on you for the next bit! Tilda really got a kick out feeding them - as well as numerous muddy hoof prints on her clothes!

The old barn and carriage houses are now museum areas and a place to get some good food and a free sample of some of Anheuser-Busch's finest.

There's much more to show and say about Grant's Farm - but to sum it up - it is a wonderful place to spend a few hours - and it is FREE!! You do have to pay to park, but that is all. We highly recommend it for anyone visiting the St. Louis area.

One the way back to our hotel, we detoured to the area of St. Louis known as "The Hill" which is very much still an Italian neighborhood, with more great restaurants than you can pick from. We stopped at a deli and picked up some wonderful meatball subs to eat back at the hotel. It is a very cute old neighborhood and I'd love to try one of the restaurants next trip to St. Louis.

I realy loved that St. Louis is more "old fashioned" than the newer big cities in Texas - I like cities that have their unique neighborhoods with their own distinct personalities. It is really a beautiful city, with many wonderful museums and parks. Can't wait to visit it again one day.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Wicked Fun

So...after a nice nap, Tilda was in charge of getting Google map directions from the Hotel to the theater - the Fabulous Fox Theater. The Fox is famous and is one of the amazing art deco masterpieces from the 1920's. They sure don't build them like this anymore.

Tilda's directions were perfect, and we found our way to the theater district with no problems. I was concerned about finding parking - not knowing the area at all. But, as usual, our angels were looking out for us and we found a little parking lot with ONE space left just a half-block from the theater.

There's a cute little park on the corner of the street in the theater district which had this unusual and rather lovely statue of a rabbit. It is called "Earth Rabbit" and he seems to be doing Yoga. The statue is covered in colorful mosaic tiles - wish it had been brighter in the picture. (I was having an issue in getting my camera to go flash on, no flash or auto).

Here is a picture of the outside of the theater - even it's exterior is so reminescent of those "good old days" of big movie theaters - not the kind we have these days at the mall. I used to love going to the "Florida Theater" in Gainesville when I was a kid and sitting in balcony - front row - and watching movies. But, as usual, I digress.

When we walked into the lobby, we were stunned at the beauty of the architecture - I just really can't describe how ornage it was. Every where you looked was elaborate carvings, gargoyles and more. Darn my camera for not working to get a picture of it.
We learned there was an elevator to take us up to the "middle balcony" area - and it was the old-fashioned kind which requires and operator to stop and start it. Very cool. We found the ladies room - and it was as beautiful and exquisitely decorated as everything else in this place.

When we got to our seats, I tried to fidget with camera and got one picture of the interior of the theater - not very good - and was told "NO PICTURES". I wasn't trying to take pictures of the show - but apparently taking any pictures inside is not allowed - for goodness sake! If you look really hard, you can almost make out the dragon that is part of the stage decor (over the stage) and the curtain which glows green on the map of Oz.

Now...for the most important part....the SHOW! Well, it was fabulous. So creative and such a great message. I read the book "Wicked" a few years ago - and the musical is "loosely" based on the book. They do a great job of tying the book's main theme's in with the original "Wizard of Oz" story. The dialogue and lyrics are clever, and go between hilarious and very touching. The sets and costumes were just great. I have to say, it is one of the best - if not THE best - musical I have ever seen. And, I have been lucky enough to see some great shows on Broadway and with major touring companies. I guess I always love them all - but this is one I hope to see again - very soon. It is really special. Tilda just loved every minute of the show. We bought the CD and listened to it almost all the way back to Tulsa. We want to be ready if they need us to fill in on the tour - Ha!!!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Meet me in St. Louis, Louis!

I am asking myself "Why, why have I waited so long to go to St. Louis?" It is a beautiful city and has so much to do - great place for a family vacation. The main reason I always wanted to go someday was to see the Arch - well, that's the tip of the iceburg on the fun that awaits in beautiful St. Louis.

I booked a room via Hotwire for 3 nights and went for the 3.5 stars downtown choice. It was - as always - a great hotel for a great price. (If you aren't using Hotwire, you should be). We got the Crowne Plaza, right across the street from the Jefferson Expansion Memorial - aka - the Gateway Arch. Let me also mention that I got it for $57 a night - which you can hardly get a Motel 6 for in a major city these days. Here's the hotel as seen from the parklands around the Arch.

When we checked in, since I was traveling with my teenage granddaughter - I asked for a king room. The front desk clerk said - not only am I putting you in a king room, but I'm giving you a balcony, sofa with pull-out bed and a kitchenette. Are you kidding me (thinking to myself - I only paid $57). We were on the 25th floor - and here is Tilda on the balcony. Honestly - can you believe how blessed we are?

We took a nice stroll around the national park grounds and then headed over to eat at Joey B's which is Laclede's Landing area. This is an historic section right by the river and next to the park - just a few blocks from the hotel. I had found Joey B's online and picked it when I saw that Rachel Ray recommended it! Yahoo!! The old area is charming, with original cobblestone streets and the old buildings that used to be warehouses for goods brought up the Mississippi by river boats.

Next morning - we were off to discover St. Louis. We had reservations to take the trip to the top of the Arch at 10:30am (you can book your reservation and get your tickets on-line). Before our appointed adventure to the top, we did a little walking around downtown and found ourselves at the home of the St. Louis' Cardinals - Busch Stadium. I had hoped they would be in town and we could take in a game - no luck on that one. But, I have to say this is a gorgeous baseball stadium and quite an addition to the downtown area. My daddy loved Stan Musial, and I had to take the picture of his statue in memory of Daddy - who loved baseball so much!

We discovered the MetroLink right next door to the stadium, and a quick subway ride later we were back at the Arch park and on our way to the top - oh my!! You ride a "tram" with about 10 cars, each holds five people and are shaped liked bubbles!
Here is the door to the tram car and the tram car - showing only 3 of the 5 seats inside. This trip is not for anyone who suffers from claustrophobia!

Fortunately, the ride only takes a few minutes - and then you are up 630ft in the air. It wasn't windy during our visit - but I've heard people say you can feel the sway up there - I didn't. The arch was constructed to sway up to 9" in either direction during a 150 mph wind - and is said to usually be swaying about 1/2" on most days. Note to self - don't go up there during a storm!! Got a nice picture of Busch Stadium from on high and here we are in the somewhat tight space at the top.

A good friend had recommended we check out the old Union Station - once the largest train station in the world - while in St. Louis. It has been "saved" and is a shopping and dining area now. The architecture is beautiful and they have small exhibits highlighting how travel was when everyone went by train - the beautiful dining cars, etc. There are even stained glass windows in this lovely old building.

After lunch at the St. Louis Hard Rock Cafe, we headed back to the hotel for a swim on the roof-top pool - 29 floors above the city - and a nice nap - and then we'd head for the Fox Theater to see "Wicked". That's another post!