Sunday, April 1, 2018

More Pendleys To Add To the Pile

Earlier this year I took  the leap into the big wide world of genetic genealogy by ordering my DNA test from  It has opened up so many new connections for me!

Some people to DNA testing to learn their ethnicity, which was not even on my radar when I tested.  I already knew my heritage many generations back.  So there really were no surprises in that regard.
As I very much expected, according to Ancestry DNA, I'm a VERY white bread girl:

But what HAS been a surprise to me is how many cousins I have that I never knew of.   There are over 80 people who have tested who are somewhere between 4th and 6th cousins to me.  I've been reaching out to some of them through email and have found photos I had never seen before of my my great grandparents on my mother's side and am just now finding new connections on my Pendley side.  WOW.

So far I have not been able to go any further BACK in my Pendley family tree than what I already knew for sure:

But what I HAVE been able to do is fill in family members for many of the descendants of Jesse and Mary Ann Gravitt Pendley.

I've been painstakingly verifying names and dates of their grandchildren and great grandchildren using census records, social security death indexes,  Find-a-Grave, marriage records and other things I can find using 

The tricky part for me now is knowing where to quit.  Sometimes I tap into a vein of lovely old photographs, documents, and all sorts of fabulous records on the family of the SPOUSE of one of these descendants.  Clearly, these are not my relatives.   But they are related to my relatives by marriage...and I can't stand the idea of all those great records being inaccessible to any of the family.  So I will often "Connect "  the ancestry record to the FamilySearch record to make sure the family groups in FS are as complete and accurate as possible.  It is all too easy to get going down a rabbit hole doing that, as worthwhile as it may be.

So then I go BACK to my original task of completing the descendant list on the PENDLEY family, trying hard to maintain my focus.   In the process I'm "meeting" many fine and interesting people.
 I've added literally dozens of family members and have more yet to go.  This process is my passion, learning all I can about all the looping layers of extended family over the generations.

While it is the family of Frank and Jane Pendley who may be my immediate circle,  all of these others who came from our common ancestor, Jesse Pendley feel just as significant to me.

Monday, February 26, 2018

What's in a Name? PART 2

Back in March of 2011 I wrote a post titled "What's in a Name?" in which I said "For all of my life I knew my grandmother as "Jane Pendley".  On doing a little digging, however, it is clear that as a baby and young child she was known as "Jean" or "Jennie" rather than Jane".

What I did not go into for that particular post was Grandmother's middle name:  Hibbard.  For years I have wondered where that name came from.  Ages ago I had made a note to look for an "Aunt Ida Hibbard", but I never did find her and I no longer have a clue where that tip may have come from.  So the mystery remained.

Then today I received the following email from my sister, Sharon Mott:

"Ok, I have a theory about Grandma Pendley's name.

We know that she was actually called JEAN HIBBARD HUTCHINSON as a child.  she was even referred to as Jean in the newspaper announcement of her marriage to Frank.

Coconino Sun in Flagstaff Arizona 3 Dec 1921

She signs her name as "Jane" on her voter's registration in the late 1940's.  Who knows, maybe she felt it was a more "grown up" name.  But where did the Hibbard come from?  I haven't found it as a family name yet.

But today I saw something that seems plausible.

In 1895 her father, ASC "Charles" Hutchinson was listed by the Dept of Interior working as a Carpenter for the Otoe Indian Agency in Oklahoma Territory.  Scanning the rest of the page I found the Carpenter's Apprentice listed as none other than a First Nation man by the name of HIBBARD JEANS.

In 1903 Charles and Edith name their daughter Jean Hibbard Hutchinson.  It could be a coincidence, but I doubt it.  What do you think?

P.S. in 1897 Charles is still working for the Indian Agency, but Hibbard is now listed as Indian Police.

HOLY TOMATOES, what a find!  I'm grinning from ear to ear.

I'm excited as could be about learning this tidbit of family trivia.  It tells me more about my great grandparents, to know they had sufficient affection and respect for this man to name their daughter after him.  They were not bigots. 

I'm very proud of my sister for how she has developed research skills in recent years, and have so enjoyed sharing my love of family history with her.  She has been a treasure to me in so many ways.  This just adds the icing on the cake.

Well done, Sharon.  Very well done, indeed!

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Who were the Pendleys?

My grandfather, Frank Leslie Pendley (1877-1954) died several years before I was born.  The only things I know about the man have been gleaned by listening to family stories and pouring over the few photos and documents that remain from his life.

In an effort to break through some of the "Brick Walls" in my search for family information, I recently took a DNA test from   The results of that test have led to some interesting connections. 

Today I received this photo in an email from someone in one of my "DNA Circles" :

I'm a long way away from conclusively proving that this group of people is directly related to MY group of Pendley ancestors.  But I am excited to have made a connection with someone who may share a common ancestor and would be willing to collaborate.  Stay tuned for more info as it comes...

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Tribute to my Grandparents

Jane Hutchinson was born in Stroud, Oklahoma on March 18, 1903.  While Jane was very young, her mother, Edith Thomas Hutchinson, contracted tuberculosis, known at the time as "consumption".   Jane and her mother came West on a train from Oklahoma in 1910 in hopes that the Arizona climate would help Edith recover, and to have the support of Edith's family to nurse her through her illness.   Edith's widowed father,  John L.V. Thomas, along with her sister Kate and brothers John and  Lou, were homesteading in Arizona at the mouth of the West Fork of Oak Creek,  in a lovely canyon just north of Sedona.

Sadly, Edith died just six weeks after they arrived in Oak Creek Canyon.  

Jane remained in Arizona and was raised by her Thomas relatives.  She grew up loving animals and the beauty of the canyon.

Frank L. Pendley was born in Austin, Texas on March 12, 1876.  He moved to the Salt River Canyon in 1903 where he began work as a driller and powder monkey quarrying stone for Roosevelt Dam.  From 1907 to 1910 he worked as miner in the Mayer-Humboldt are of central Arizona.  His expertise in quarrying and mining was to prove indispensable in Oak Creek canyon.  He also did work as a surveyor.

Pendley came to Slide Rock during the summer of 1907.  He established squatter's rights on the undeveloped land that fall.  He worked on the land in the warm months while spending winters trapping bobcats for $5.00 a skin from the Territory.  By 1910 Pendley had figured out a way to build an irrigation ditch.  He filed for ownership under the Homestead Act and built a cabin to begin proving his claim.

Frank Pendley became acquainted with Jane Hutchinson, the child living on the Thomas Homestead, when she was just 11 years old.  He gave her a young mule as a gift. (Note - some say it was a pony, others say it was a mule.  Some say she was 11, others 15.  They exact details may be fuzzy...but suffice it to say that Frank Pendley was friends with the Thomas family, his neighbors up the canyon, and knew Jane well from the time she was a little girl.) 

When she grew up a bit they began courting.   They were married in November of 1921 in Flagstaff by the Justice of the Peace.  Frank was 44 and Jane was 18.

Frank and Jane began their married life in the small wooden cabin he had built.  In 1927 he built the large 2 story house that still stands on the property.  The house is said to have been designed like Jane's childhood home in Oklahoma.

In that house Frank and Jane raised 9 children.  They worked together, along with their children and various hired hands, to run the orchards Frank planted as their primary livelihood up until Frank's death in 1954.

Jane remained on the ranch for nine years following her husband's death, working the property with the help of various hired managers.  In 1954 she asked her oldest son, Tom, to take over the management and at that time Jane moved to Cottonwood.

In her later years Jane lived with her various children at different times, taking turns with each of their families. She died in Prescott, AZ at the Pioneer Home in 1979.

After Jane's death the children became interested in selling the family property.  In the early 1980's Governor Bruce Babbitt worked to acquire the ranch by creating the Arizona Park foundation.  The Foundation purchased the ranch from the Pendley family in 1984.  It became Slide Rock State Park in 1987.

The descendants of Frank and Jane continue to honor their legacy by gathering at the ranch for family reunions.  Tom's daughter, Kathy Pendley Shaw, has played an active role in preserving the history of the ranch through the Friends of Slide Rock State Park organization.  

Based on the following resources:

Friends of Slide Rock State Park -  Facebook Page:
(Posted March 13, 2013)

Pendley History - Information from interviews with Tom, Joy & Nina

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Setting the Record Straight

In the book "Unbreakable Dolls"  there is a lovely little story about Jane Pendley (McDonald. 2011. p54-59.).  However, there are details in that story that simply are not accurate.
Julie McDonald opens with a scene of Jane leaving Stroud, OK on a train with her father and mother and has Jane watching her brother out the window as he waved good-by.

However, what I know from stories my grandmother told me herself, she and her mother made that trip alone, without Jane's father.  This is further substantiated by the following letter which Jane's father, Charles Hutchinson, sent to her in 1940:

                                                                                                                                                                 S.A. June 1, 1940

Dear Jane and Family

This is the day I put you on the train for Arizona in 1910 thirty years ago June 1st.  I received your letter addressed to Mayleane (unclear) about a week ago   We are not at that place but at 1900 .W. 42nd.   I was glad to hear from you and know that you was all well.  Charley was over to see us last Sunday.  I had not seen him for three weeks and we are going out to Bellfower Sunday to see him and spend the day.  I intended to stay and see you when we left here and we are going to leave soon.  We will travle (sic) by bus but do not know weather (sic) we will come by Flagstaff or come in from the south by Phoenix.  I will go to town and stay at the bus station and see which is the best way.  I think we will leave sometime this coming week and I will drop you a line at least a day or two before we start.  It has been very pleasant here and we have enjoyed it out here.  We did not feel the quake in they had in the Imperial Valley.  The war is sure getting bad and it is bound to spread and may take in the entire world.  But the less we worry about it the better off we will be.  Well we will be seeing you soon I hope.  I will close with love to all and hope this will find you all well.    

                                                                         Dad & Bess

This letter clearly documents when Jane Hutchinson came to Arizona with her mother, and supports the fact that her father did not accompany them on that trip.  More importantly, perhaps, is the fact that Charles Hutchinson's  love and concern for his daughter remained throughout her life, even though he would not be there to raise her during her growing up years.

McDonald, Julie. (2011).  Unbreakable Dolls: True Stories of Courageous Women Who Helped Settle Northern Arizona. Self Published.  Book available in gift shop at Slide Rock State Park.

Pendley Water Wheel

The sign on the old water wheel that is on display at Slide Rock State Park says:

The Pendley Water Wheel -

In the 1920's Frank Pendley was determined to have electricity for the homestead.  This water wheel was constructed for use with the ditch.  The wheel did not need to rotate at a fast rate for the generator to operate effectively.  Modern electricity arrived in Oak Creek Canyon in the 1930's and replaced this system.

Frank Pendley wrote the check shown here for $192.58 payable to Fitz Water Wheel Company with the notation "Full Payment For Water Wheel".

See History of the Fitz Water Wheel Company Here.

Welcoming Rusty / Michael back into the fold

In March of 2013 something nothing short of amazing happened.  Our family had a miracle.

It began with a simple email.  A private detective from Scottsdale, AZ had found this blog, and on it was listed the name of a person she had been looking for.   That person was one of my cousins who is now deceased. The detective had been hired to find the woman, but had no luck with standard investigation techniques.  What she did not know was that my cousin had died in 1983.  That's why she was not showing up in any database.  When the investigator ran out of all other options, she tried one more Google search to see if anything at all with my cousin's name might turn up.  It did.  It was this blog.

Here is the back story to that search.  A little over forty years ago,  my cousin's life was in turmoil.  She had a little boy that she had given birth to "out of wedlock", something that had very different implications in the early '70's than it does today. Initially my cousin had been determined to raise her boy on her own.  However, as challenges piled up, she came to realize that she could not give her child the life she wanted for him.   So, after a lot of agonizing over what the best path would be, she decided to give him up for adoption so that he could have a stable, loving family.

My cousin's son, Rusty, was not given up as an infant.  He was a bright, active toddler when we was sent to a new home.  I have very strong memories of playing with Rusty when we were children.  He was an  an adorable dark eyed little boy with a musical laugh.

All of the girl cousins loved playing with baby Rusty.  We adored him.

Then one day, he was just gone.

Although much too young to understand all the reasons why his mother opted to give him up for adoption, I had always known that Tammy had problems.  When she died some years later it was very sad, but not that big of a surprise.

Through all the years that followed none of us ever forgot that darling little boy who had come into our lives for a short time and then disappeared.  We often would wonder what had happened to him.  At family gatherings sometimes his name would come up.  He was never forgotten.  We would hope that where ever he might be in the world that he was doing well and pray that he landed with a loving family that would treat him well.

Unbeknown to any of us, when Rusty (now known as Michael) grew up, he would begin searching for his biological family.   He had a wonderful mother who had raised him well.  He had grandparents and other family who did all they could to give him a secure, stable family.   Still, like many adopted children, Rusty / Michael always wondered who his first mother had been and where he came from.  He wondered why he had been given away.  He wondered if he had been forgotten.

After looking as much as he could on his own,  Rusty/Michael hired that private detective in Arizona so see if she might be able to turn something up.  They were just about to give up the search when they found this blog.   So the detective sent me an email asking if I could put her client in contact with my cousin.

I called the detective and did some checking to be sure she was who she said she was.  Then I explained my cousin had died years ago, but there were many family members who would very much want to reconnect with Rusty/Michael.   So she passed on my email to him, and on March 13, 2013,  I received his first message which said:


Hello, you have heard about me but we have never met. My name is Michael, you may remember me as Rusty. I hired Sarah to help me look into my biological family and you are here. I would love to talk more if you feel so inclined, I currently live in ______ but my number is ______. Please call me when you have a moment.

Michael C_____.

I will never forget our first tentative conversation on the telephone.   After so much searching and so many failed attempts, Rusty/Michael was not quite ready to believe that he had indeed found the right family.   I told him what I remembered about him as a little boy and about his family.   And then I emailed him a photo I had from when he was about two.

As soon as he saw that picture of himself as a little boy, he KNEW.  (For one reason this little boy was clearly the same kid as the one in a photo his new mom had taken with him at the time of his adoption.  Secondly, this little boy bore an uncanny resemblance to his youngest son.)  He knew he had found his family.  We had found the boy we loved and lost.

Over the next few months emails and Facebook contacts were flying with fury as first one family member and then another reached out to him.  Cell phones were buzzing.   The reunion was in the works.

Words cannot even come close to describing the blessing it has been to have this very special guy back in the fold of our family.  It has been wonderful to share more messages and phone calls to learn of his life, and to get acquainted with the man he has become.   Then, as icing on the cake, this past October our family gathered for a very special reunion in Oak Creek, AZ at the old homestead of our grandparents - Frank & Jane Pendley - to whom this blog is dedicated.  There we got to meet Rusty/Michael in person, along with his lovely wife and children.  We also got to visit with his mom, who came to share him with us.

                                 (Rusty / Michael is on the far left with his family).  

What once was lost has now been found.  Rusty / Michael has come home.  The bond that is family is connecting us again.   

One interesting quirk is that I made a mistake on the spelling on one of the names on the blog.   I'm generally VERY careful with my family records and make it a practice to check and double check before I publish information.  However, on one certain name I transposed two letters in the last name.  That error just happened to be the exact same mistake in the name that private detective had.  IF I had everything perfect, we might never have found each other.

So let this be a word of caution to all dedicated genealogists.  YES, we should take care to avoid errors in recording our family information.  I absolutely support the process of checking and double checking for accuracy.   But don't beat yourself up too much if the occasional mistake may somehow creep in.   You never know when the angels above will use that very mistake to help unfold a miracle.

I believe with all my heart that we are not alone in our efforts to find our kin , both living and dead.  I believe that connecting the records of our family matters.

Welcome home, Rusty/Michael.  We loved you then.  We love you now.  We welcome you and all of your family, into our clan.

I am so grateful for the Spirit of Elijah that prompted me to post this blog.  I feel tremendously blessed to have been a part of this unfolding miracle.