Susan Spess Shay

Still playing make believe.


On My Tree

♪♫ Be . . . on my tree, join . . . the family. ♪♫

Okay, sorry. I’m in a rhyming mood this morning. Actually, I’ve been working on the family tree  . . . little by little. (Yes, I could use some help.)


Tintype of Grandma’s mama. (I think)

Somehow on that tree right now, Grandma Reeves’s daddy’s “leaf” is wearing my picture. I’m not sure how I did that, but it was probably something silly. Hopefully, I’ll figure out how to take it off before too long. A little girl with a man’s name is just weird. LOL.


Before I started working on this, my ancestors’ names were only that. Names that I might have heard but probably hadn’t. Since I started learning things about them through notices, hints, and pictures from other people (apparently distant relatives) they’ve become real to me.

Remember this picture? (I think I shared it before.)family-reeves

It’s my Granddad Reeves’s family. (Thank you, Uncle Robert, for sharing.) Granddad was the baby of the family (the cute little boy in the white shirt) so when Granddad went to WWI, I can only imagine how his mother felt.

His mother isn’t lighted very well in this picture, but you can see Granddad is standing near her. (I’m guess about the year the pic was taken. If Granddad was 15 here, the year is 1908.)

Great-grandma Reeves is the seated woman.


Great-Grandma Reeves made this crazy quilt.


And this quilt.

Granddad is a teen here, but in 1917 (or so) he married Grandma Reeves and went to war. Well, he joined up. When he left Okieland, his mama gave him a Bible.


I know it’s tattered and falling apart (Grandma Reeves gave it to me after Granddad died.) But a Bible that’s 97 years old should look worn, shouldn’t it?


She wrote this on the flyleaf–


A mother gift to Julius Reeves.

When I am far away, remember mother . . . has been.

And she signed it,

Mary A. Reeves

Granddad went to Austin, Texas, for training. (That’s what Grandma told me, anyway.) Here’s his draft registration card.


If I remember right, Grandma said they let him be a cook. He didn’t go to Europe or fight.

Inside that Bible, I found a letter from Grandma’s brother Harvey.

Camp Travis

CO B 358 Inf.

Dearest Eva and Julius,

Will try to write you a few lines. I wrote your letter and put it in with Mama’s and Zean (?) they lost it. Was kinda getting peeved at you when I did not get a letter from you.

Ever thing is rocking along just about the same. We are quarantined again for twenty one days have been for over a week. Was a new case of measles yesterday. Means twenty one more days to stay around here. How is ever thing getting alone up your way.? Has any body got married or any body dead? Write and tell me all the news.

The letter continues.

Don’t know if I am going to get to come home for Xmas or not. Hope so. When is the last time you have been to see mama? (Grandma and Harvey’s dad died in 1899.)

Guess I had better close. Do you ever have any thing to eat? Are you going to send me a cake some of these days?

Well, if you ans this I will write more next time.

By by Harvey.


This is Grandma’s brother, Harvey. He and his twin, Louis, both volunteered for the war at the same time, but the recruiter knew their dad was gone and their mama (the woman in the top picture) wouldn’t have any boys left if they both died in the war.

They flipped a coin and Harvey “won.”


He went to Fort Travis, became a bugler and was shipped to France, where he died almost as soon as he got there.

Harvey E Crosby
Service Info.: BUGLAR B 358TH INF 90TH DIV WW
Death Date: 18 Sep 1918
Cemetery: Arlington National Cemetery
Cemetery Address: C/O Director Arlington, VA 22211
Buried At: Section 18 Site 2323


Funny how real people become when you know their stories. And it’s funny how caught up I get when I’m reading about them. Time flies and I’m late for work. Again!

Have you found your family and put them on a tree? (Makes us sound like flock monkeys, doesn’t it? LOL)

Got any hints you can share with me? 🙂 I’m having trouble going back very far in the Spess family. 😉



Climbing the Family Tree

Just in case I didn’t have enough to keep me busy (House work? What’s that?) I’ve started working on our family tree.

FTs have always fascinated me.  (No, I’m not Mormon.) I don’t know if it’s because of the stories we heard about family when we were kids or the stories we didn’t hear.

Once Grandma told me her granddad (or her gr-granddad) was the younger son of a German count. I haven’t found any evidence of it, though. Maybe she was just wishful thinking.

BTW: I have one branch of the tree I can’t follow back very far. I call it the family stump. 😦

anna-e-dickerson-@18This is my maternal great grandma. It’s a picture of a tintype Grandma gave me a long time ago. Wasn’t she pretty?

Here’s the whole tintype.


Those are a couple of friends with Gr-grandma on the right. Tula and Betty. They don’t look like they’re having much fun.

Virgil,-Grandma-Dickerson,-This is another grandmother. Not sure which one. She doesn’t look very happy. The kids don’t either. They really look as if they’re expecting to be shot rather than remembered.

Why is that?

Quitman,-Bella,-Betty-WallaI love this picture. Looks like they’re having so much fun . . . except they left their smiles at home.

A couple of things I’ve really enjoyed about Family Treeing is the names of my family. A couple of my uncles had really different names.

One was Quitman.

The other was Okla Homer.

(No, I’m not kidding.)

The other thing I’ve noticed about names is the repetitiveness. There are several Josephs. And Lewises. And Bettys. Mary seems to be a very popular name in my linage. (Mama’s name was Mary.)

Joseph-Dickerson I wish I knew more about them.

I do know that my grandma’s daddy died when she was less than a year old, so Grandma’s mama took the kids to live with her fam.

grandma's daddy

So why do I bother? Why do I want to know where Grandma Reeves moved to Oklahoma from? Why do I care where Grandma Nycum came from?

I don’t know. I met a woman once who grew up in the town my Grandmother’s family moved to Oklahoma from. I told her my ancestors had lived there by the name of Mitchell.

She got very excited. Her brother’s best friend’s name was Mitchell and, oh, my gosh! I looked just like them.

Knowing my family history kind of makes me feel as if I have a base. Roots. You know? Now, maybe I know who I have in heaven, praising Jesus and praying for me.

And if I run into anyone who looks just like me, I’ll know we’re related. 🙂

Is your family tree finished? Do you have it proudly framed and displayed on the wall or tucked away in a drawer somewhere?

If it’s finished, how do you know where to stop? 🙂