Archive

Archive for January, 2018

Penniman: We Have Alleyne’s Last Name!

January 27th, 2018 Sears Homes 4 comments

After that last blog, Milton, Mark and David (three faithful researchers that have been with me since the start of this project) went to work to find Alleyne’s last name.

This morning, I found an email from Mark Hardin, explaining that he’d found Alleyne.  Her full name was Alleyne Litell Conn, born in 1886 in Virginia (see full information below). Was she a “canary” at Penniman? (Canary was the name given to women who worked on the shell-loading line, pouring molten TNT into 75mm and 155mm shells. The highly toxic TNT would turn their skin a bright yellow.)

These women sacrificed so much, and yet due to strict censorship laws, published accounts of their life at Penniman were vague and almost polyannish.  There will be a day - hopefully - when I discover that one of these “Canaries” at Penniman left behind a written journal of her life at work, that tells what it was like to work at a WW1-era munitions plant.

And Mark explained here, he’s still trying to track down “Freckles.”

Below, you’ll see a few more of Steven Beauter’s wonderful photos. Steven - a sagacious and thorough historian - purchased these postcards and photos several years ago and shared them with me recently.

All vintage images below are courtesy of Steven Beauter. The newspaper clipping (about Alleyne) was found by Mark Hardin at newspapers.com. The death certificate for Alleyne was obtained by Milton Crum at ancestry.com.

Thanks to Steven Beauter for allowing me to use these images below.

To read the prior blog, click here.

Want to learn more about this fascinating “Ghost City”? Click here.

Learn more about the “Canaries”!

*

Perhaps one day, well know more about the women who worked at Penniman.

Perhaps one day, we'll know more about the women who worked at Penniman. The workforce was overwhelmingly female. Twenty-four hours a day, women loaded TNT into 75mm and 155mm shells at Penniman. TNT poisoning was a persistent problem, with multitudinous side effects. Some women were rendered sterile by exposure to this toxin.

*

FFF

The caption within the 100+ year old photo album tells us that this is "Edith" (last name unknown) at Penniman. I am more than a little curious about her watch. I've never seen a wrist watch on a woman in this time period. It almost looks like she's used a leather strap to put a man's watch on her wrist.

*

f

The occasion is "Jean's birthday party" on August 2nd, 1918. These women are sitting by the York River at Penniman, Virginia.

*

Hanging out at the beach (York River) was a frequent theme in all of these 100-year-old photos.

Hanging out at the beach (York River) was a frequent theme in all of these 100-year-old photos. The water was apparently very shallow for some distance. Those suits are delightful!

*

From a postcard (also purchased by Steven Beauter), this is a view of H Street in Penniman. This model of house (covered in Ruberoid siding) is known as the six-room bungalow. Yes, thats its given name.

From a postcard (also purchased by Steven Beauter), this is a view of "H Street" in Penniman. This model of house (covered in Ruberoid siding) is known as the "six-room bungalow." Yes, that's its given name!

*

And

All we know is that this is Penniman. There were no captions within the photo album for this fellow.

*

If  you look behind this gent, you can see a couple posters.

If you look behind this gent, you can see a couple posters.

*

The poster on the left

The poster on the left states "Kan the Kaiser."

*

And

This seems to be an especially appropriate poster for Penniman.

*

Thanks to Mark Hardin, we have a full name for Alleyne.

Thanks to Mark Hardin, we have a full name for Alleyne (Times Dispatch, March 1919).

*

Haggerty

This photo, titled "Harvest," shows "Mrs. Haggarty, Jean and Alleyne." We now know that Jean's birthday was August 2nd (see photo at top of blog) and that Alleyne's last name was Conn.

*

DD

Alleyne Conn died in 1953.

*

When researchers study our times (21st Century), there will be no more postcards.

What a treasure to find a post card mailed from Penniman! The war had just ended five days prior. When researchers study our times (21st Century), there will be no more postcards.

*

And the text is legible.

And the text is legible.

*

First, my favorite. This is a picture of Freckles and the caption reads The trial of all of Penniman.

Freckle's genealogical records remain elusive.

*

To read the prior blog, click here.

Want to learn more about this fascinating “Ghost City”? Click here.

Why were they called “Canaries”?

The People of Penniman - We Have Pictures!

January 25th, 2018 Sears Homes 5 comments

Now we just need some names.

Thanks to Steven Beauter, a sharp-eyed and devoted historian and lover of history, we have pictures of the people of Penniman. A few years ago, Steven purchased an early 20th century photo album that he’d found on eBay. More recently, he discovered that I was seeking more information on Penniman. He contacted me through Facebook, and two weeks ago, we met at the Williamsburg Public Library and had a lovely visit.

As yet another testimony to the goodness of people, Steven permitted me to take his much-beloved photo album back to my home in Suffolk, where I carefully scanned more than two dozen images.

Below are a few of those wonderful images.

We have pictures, and I’m going to share all the captions and names within these pages. If there are any genealogists that can help us learn more about these people, please leave a comment! All photos are circa 1918.

Thanks so much to Steven for sharing this treasure. Thanks to him, we now have another insight into this ghost city.

Lastly, I would welcome the opportunity to do lectures. If your historical society/group would like to make arrangements to have a lecture on Penniman, please contact me at pennimanva@gmail.com.

All photos are courtesy of Steven Beauter and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

Please forgive the obnoxious watermarks. After countless and blatant theft of images, I must resort to this.


Want to learn about one of my personal heroes? Click here.

Did you know that the Great Atlantic Fleet remained anchored near Penniman throughout the Great War?

*

First, my favorite. This is a picture of Freckles and the caption reads The trial of all of Penniman.

First, my favorite. This is a picture of "Freckles" and the caption reads "The trial of all of Penniman."

*

Name given

The caption reads, "You might think that Charlotte might be afraid of being bombed by that aeroplane but being in a munition plant, one gets used to that sort of thing. Besides, it was only a spot on the negative." In other captions, Edith and Charlotte are identified as close friends.

*

Dick and anme

This photo is captioned "Effie and Dick."

*

people

The office staff at Penniman.

*

Bank

"First National Bank of Penniman."

*

Penniman

"Lodge 9 at Penniman."

*

ffffff

This photo is identified as Mr. Benesh's home. He was the superintendent of the plant.

*

ffddd

"Noontime at Penniman." Check out those clothes! Were these women loading shells? Judging by their clothing, I don't think so. The shell loaders wore a company issued uniform.

*

Cumberland

No information is given with this photo, but that's a Penniman house ("The Cumberland") behind this young couple. To read more about the houses at Penniman, see the link below.

*

Haggerty

This photo offers the most clues. It's titled "Harvest" and reads, "Mrs. Haggart, Jean and Alleyne." You'd think with names like "Alleyne" these people could be found.

*

To learn more about Penniman, click here.

Read one of my first blogs about Penniman here.

Want to learn more about the houses at Penniman? Here’s the link.

*

Love, Prayers and “Standard Bilt” Sears Homes

January 23rd, 2018 Sears Homes 9 comments

Yesterday started out tough but ended up on a lovely note. There were several decisions to make, hard things to do, and then, after breakfast, I discovered a jagged edge on my bottom front tooth. It had been feeling a little odd for about a month, but I’d ignored it.

Upon closer examination, I discovered it was a chipped tooth, with a vertical crack to the gumline. The panic over a big dental mess hit me hard. Thankfully, my wonderful dentist Dr. Weisberg was able to see me yesterday afternoon. After x-rays and an examination, he determined that the “crack” was a typical dental craze line. I did have a chipped tooth, but that was easily repaired.

The best guess was that it was caused by the car accident on December 15th, when an off-duty cop rear-ended me, as I sat at a light. (Although the cop told the officer on the scene that he was doing “about 3 mph,” damage to my Camry showed that it was more than 15 mph.)

Speaking of cars…

Last night, I was looking at used cars and found one that was very pretty. The stress of making a decision brought a fast return of the upset stomach, and I got fogged in by the angst.

I contacted two very dear friends to seek out their advice, and called my daughter. All three responded in seconds, offering sagacious counsel and wise insights. They patiently and lovingly explained that this wasn’t the car (or the deal) for me. Back at home, as I drifted off to sleep, I felt grateful that I had such loving and clear-minded friends, willing to drop everything and help me.

When I awakened in the wee hours, unable to sleep, I went to my website and re-read some of the beautiful comments left there by “online friends.” These are people that I’ve never met, and yet they have so much love in their heart that they’re willing to pray for a stranger’s return to health and wholeness. That is a reason for much gratitude.

This has become a habit: When I can not sleep, I revisit the “comments” section of my blog, and read each and every one, again and again. These comments mean a lot to me.

More than anything, the purpose of today’s post is to thank each and every kind soul that has helped me through the hard days. Every comment here brings me much joy, and assuages the nagging fear that I’m alone.

In 2002, this website was launched to share the good news and joy of Sears Homes. Sixteen years later, it has become a place where I am the recipient of countless blessings.

Thank you for keeping me here. And thank you for drawing that circle of love and taking me in.

PS. If you’d like to buy a slightly used Camry, please leave a comment! ;)

*

While

The above is a comment written by Emily about three months ago (at a blog titled "Thank you for your prayers."). "While your husband's behavior shocked you, it'd didn't surprise our Savior..." That line touched my heart.

*

The

Sears offered "Honor Bilt" and "Standard Bilt." The Hudson was a "Standard Bilt" Sears house. The Standard Bilt houses were never really intended to be permanent houses. They were quite modest. Framing members were spaced at 24" and doors and windows did not have double headers. There was no exterior sheathing, bur just the clapboard (1925 catalog).

*

As you can see from this description, its a little house.

As you can see from this image, it's a simple little house.

*

House

There were two floorplans. The "bigger" house had the second windows in the living room.

*

The 2nd floor plan is a wee bit bigger than the first, and it has the double window in the living room.

The 2nd floor plan is a wee bit bigger than the first, and it has the double window in the living room. Still, this "larger model" is under 600 square feet.

*

And how in the world do you find a simple little house like this?

And how in the world do you find a simple little house like this? You sure can't do it by a windshield survey. I found this house via mortgage records. It's a Sears "Hudson."

*

To learn more about Standard Bilt Sears Homes, click here. Or, just search for the terms “Angry Moose.”

To read the original blog where Emily left her comment, click here.

*

The Weather Outside is Frightful…

January 4th, 2018 Sears Homes 8 comments

Last night, the Hampton Roads area (Norfolk/Virginia Beach) had an unusual event: A major snowstorm. It was accurately forecast, so we were all well prepared. However, this was a “special” snowstorm for me, as it was my first winter in my new house. Enjoy the pictures below.

*

The view from inside wasnt too bad, thanks to the big windows.

The view from inside wasn't too bad, thanks to the big windows.

*

Initially, Teddy had mixed feelings about leaving the back porch.

Initially, Teddy had mixed feelings about leaving the back porch.

*

However, she changed her mind quickly.

However, she changed her mind quickly.

*

Less than eight weeks ago, I had a new Bosch 18-SEER heat pump installed. It doesnt seem to keen on the cold weather, either.

Less than eight weeks ago, I had a new Bosch 18-SEER heat pump installed. It doesn't seem too keen on this cold weather, either. Every now and then, it burps and a lot of steam arises from the unit. I've read that this is part of its normal defrost cycle. Unfortunately, there's no gas available in this area.

*

I have a lovely view of a creek from the back yard.

I have a lovely view of a marsh and creek from the back yard.

*

My little photo bomber was pleased to see that the

My little photo bomber was pleased to see that the oak firewood is well protected from the snowy weather. If we lose electricity, there's always the wood stove. :)

*

A view of the firepit, built by the homes original (and only) owner.

A view of the firepit, built by the home's original (and only) owner.

*

Yoshino

Hopefully, this lovely old Yoshino Cherry tree will survive this bitter weather.

*

Street

If "location, location, location" is true, then I've got a real peach. This is the view of the street where I live. It's peaceful and beautiful, and a lovely place to heal my broken heart.

*

Teddy the Dog pauses to

Teddy the Dog pauses to make sure that I'm close behind.

*

Teddy is not ready to go back into the warm house. She definitely likes the snow and loves to be the first one frolicking about in the fresh fallen frozen stuff!

Teddy is not ready to go back into the warm house, but pauses at the top of the driveway. She definitely likes the snow and loves to be the first one frolicking about.

*

This house

This house sure looks good in the snow!

*

p

When I was house shopping, I yearned to find a house that was unique and quirky and fun. This house is THAT place. And I *like* it!

*

And you know whats quite intriguing? More than a year ago, I found this house listed on Zillow, and printed out its picture because it really spoke to my heart. I put that color picture in one of my many journals and would see it from time to time. About four weeks after I purchased my current house, I stumbled across that photo in my journal, and realized, I had purchased my dream house - but in a better location.

And you know what's quite intriguing? More than a year ago, I found this house (shown above) listed on Zillow. It was already sold, but I printed out its picture because it really spoke to my heart. I put that color picture in one of my many journals and would stumble across it from time to time. About four weeks after I purchased my current house, I stumbled across that photo in an older journal, and realized, I had purchased that same "type" of house - but in a more convenient location. Although it's not visible from this image, the house has a side-loading basement garage.

*

And that house also has a partial basement, as does my current home. This may seem inconsequential, but its helped me to see that maybe - just maybe - trusting God with our dreams is a safe thing to do. As

And that house also has a partial basement, as does my current home. This may seem inconsequential, but finding a picture of this house in my journal has helped me to see that maybe - just maybe - God can be trusted with those quiet yearnings in our heart.

*

Teddy thanks you for keeping us in your prayers.

Teddy thanks you for keeping us in your prayers.

*

To learn about Sears kit homes, click here.

Do you loathe “open floor plans” as much as I do? Click here.

*