Thursday, December 12, 2013

Jess Baldwin and Dyslexia

Jess Baldwin and Dyslexia

Jess and Mabel Baldwin were the parents of fourteen children and grandparents of 46 (50 including step-grandchildren) and great-grandparents of about 89.  Those of us who are older are fortunate enough to remember Grandpa Jess.  Ask any of the cousins and some of their favorite childhood memories are of spending time with Grandpa Jess.  We all remember helping Grandpa feed and milk the cows and how he would tell us to look up to see the star and then squirt us in the face with milk.  Grandpa loved to tell stories and always had a willing audience when grandchildren were around.  He loved the holidays and always tried to make them special for his children and grandchildren - especially Christmas.  And, we could all say without a doubt that we knew grandpa loved us.

Several years ago, my mother told me that her father, Grandpa Jess, could not read or write - with the exception of writing his name.  Supposedly, when Grandpa Jess was young boy still living in Texas, his 5th grade his teacher sent him home from school and told his parents to just keep him at home because it was a waste of time to send him to school when he could not learn. 

Mom remembers when she was a young girl watching her mom trying to teach her dad to read.  Grandpa would bring a newspaper home and ask grandma to help him read it.  While waiting for grandma to come and sit next to him at the kitchen table, grandpa would take the newspaper and look at it then turn it sideways then turn it again trying to make sense of the letters and words.  Grandma would patiently try to teach grandpa to read but he could never learn, no matter how hard he tried.

Grandpa had to depend on grandma to read everything for him - letters, documents, contracts, newspapers, etc.  Grandpa made a living by buying and selling livestock.  He was good with sales and business, but Grandma would have to read to him all the contracts before he could sign them.  One of the cousins can remember grandma reading the newspaper to grandpa every night while they were laying in bed just before going to sleep.   Learning these stories of grandma and of her tender love for grandpa has increased my appreciation and love for both of them.

Recently I tested my DNA with, which offered health results according to one's DNA.  I was interested to see that I carried a higher than average risk for Developmental Dyslexia.  My sister, my mom, and my aunt (maternal) also tested at with the same results - DNA markers indicating higher than average odds of dyslexia.  This information from our DNA health results confirms our suspicions that grandpa was dyslexic.

Also, there have been a few grandchildren and great-grandchildren of Jess Baldwin who have been professionally diagnosed with dyslexia.  Descendants need to be aware that this runs in the Baldwin family.  During grandpa's lifetime (1898-1972), Developmental Dyslexia was not commonly known.  Grandpa Jess went though out his life thinking it was his fault he could not read and write.  I am thankful that with the information from the DNA health reports from, the family now has a greater understanding of Grandpa Jess and the challenges he had to face throughout his lifetime.

Below is a copy of Jess's signature from his World War I draft registration. He was 20 years old at the time.  Mom said that Grandpa could not write with the exception of writing his name.  On the draft registration, he wrote his given name as "Jeese" instead of "Jesse."   He appears to have had a hard time writing his name.  Some of the characteristics of dyslexia are repetitions, additions, transpositions, omissions, substitutions, and  reversals in letters.  These problems are clearly shown in this 1918 signature.
World War I Draft Registration; 1918; Kiowa County, Oklahoma;
The following signature is from Jess's 1970 driver's license.  His name on the driver's license was Jess William Baldwin.  By 1970, his signature was much more legible.
Colorado Operator's License, issued 19 Mar 1970
The Developmental Dyslexia was probably passed down through grandpa's Baldwin/Sadler side of the family.  I have copies of letters written by his Stewart/Medlin grandparents, so they appear to have been able to read and write.  A lot of our early ancestors could not read or write, but not because they couldn't - they merely hadn't had the opportunity to learn.  Read the story here of our 4th great-grandmother, Sally Carr Brown, learning to read when she was 76 years old!

Recently there has been negative news concerning the FDA and the health results offered at  The FDA has ordered to stop offering DNA health results reports as of Nov 22.   My main purpose when I originally tested with was to find genetic relatives, but the health results report has become an important and necessary part of my health maintenance program.  Hopefully, the FDA will allow to continue to offer the health reports in the future.  Not only does the health report give us information to help us manage our own health, but it also brings a greater understanding of our ancestors and the health challenges they may have faced.

Other posts about Jess Baldwin:

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Sarah Ann West and Her Husbands

Sarah Ann West was a 1st cousin to our great-grandpa, Charles Edgar Leffel.

Sarah Ann West and her Husbands:
Calvin S. Dale, N. Houston Holt, George W. Mead

Sarah Ann West, daughter of John W. West and Barbara Harmon, was born on 13 May 1836 in Springfield, Clark, Illinois.  She moved to Texas with her parents when she was young. The family first lived in Red River County, Texas, where her father had a blacksmith shop.  Below is an 1848 newspaper article that mentions her father.

Saturday, September 2, 1848;   Newspaper: Standard (Clarksville, TX) Page: 2
Sarah's family later moved to Grayson County, Texas where her grandfather, Michael West, and her father's siblings had also moved.  Her father died in July 1861.  Sarah's mother, Barbara, died on October 10, 1875 in Grayson County and was buried in the Rockport Cemetery.  Below is a photo of her mother's headstone.  Some of the broken pieces of headstone may belong to Sarah's father.
Headstone for Barbara West
Sarah married Calvin S. Dale on 7 Jan 1853 in Red River County, Texas. The marriage was announced in "The Standard" newspaper of Clarksville, Texas on 8 Jan 1853.  Sarah's father is referred to as "Capt. John W West".

The marriage ended in divorce prior to 1860.
Calvin Dalewas born on 9 May 1829 in Tennessee. He died on 3 Nov 1899 in Texas. He was buried in 1899 in Akers Cemetery, Grayson, Texas.  Below is his obituary.
Sarah and Calvin had one son, John Felix Dale, who was born about 1856. He died in 1898.

Calvin Dale Obituary - Dallas Morning News 6 Nov 1899
Sarah married N. Houston Holt, son of James D. Holt and Anna D. on 18 Mar 1863 in Grayson County, Texas.  The marriage ended in divorce about 1882 while Hous was in prison.  N. Houston Holt, called "Hous", was born about 1837 in Gibson, Tennessee. Hous Holt was convicted of murder in 1880 and sentenced to life and 5 years.  Hous was pardoned by Governor Hogg in 1894.  He died on 20 Apr 1915 in Denton County, Texas. He was buried on 21 Apr 1915 in Cooper Creek Cemetery, Denton, Texas.
Sarah and Hous had two children:
1. James F. S. Holt was born on 1 May 1863. He died on 15 Feb 1908.
2. Nina B. Holt was born on 13 Jun 1865. She died on 21 Oct 1886.

Sarah married a third time to a widower,  George W. Mead on 6 Sep 1887 in Vermilion, Illinois. George was born on 20 Mar 1827 in Union, Ohio. He died on 8 Feb 1922 in Vermilion, Illinois.

Sarah Ann West Dale Holt Mead died on 27 Dec 1919 in Fithian, Vermilion, Illinois. She was buried on 29 Dec 1919 in McFarland Cemetery, Vermilion, Illinois.
Sarah A Mead

Sarah Ann's children and grandchildren:

1. John Felix Dale (son of Calvin Dale and Sarah Ann West) was born about 1856 in Sherman, Grayson, Texas. He died in 1898 in Texas. He was buried in 1898 in West Hill Cemetery, Grayson, Texas.
According to the obituary of his father, Calvin S. Dale, John F. Dale was a portrait painter in New York City.  The obituary states the following: "His (Calvin S. Dale) body was laid away in Akers church yard by the side of his son, John Dale, who after acquiring fame in New York City as a portrait painter, came home to die of a lung trouble contracted in the north, his widow resides on South walnut street with her two little children."
Another obituary for his father, Calvin, in a Dallas paper states: "An only son went to New York, became a well known portrait painter, but the northern climate undermined his constitution and he come home, dying shortly afterward..."
John married Elizabeth Maiden "Bessie, Bettie" daughter of Samuel Landis Maiden and Nancy Harriet Doran on 10 May 1881 in Washington, Virginia. Elizabeth was born on 20 Apr 1859 in Shortsville,Virginia. She died on 9 Nov 1949 in Travis, Texas. She was buried in 1949 in West Hill Cemetery, Grayson, Texas.
John and Elizabeth had the following children:
i. Maiden Dale 50 was born on 18 Jul 1883 in , Denton, Texas. She died on 20 Jun 1969 in Houston, Texas. She was buried in 1969.
ii. Nineal Dale was born in 1885 in Abingdon, Washington, Virginia. She died in 1896 in Virginia. She was buried in Maiden-Foster Cemetery, Washington, Virginia.
iii. Bonnie Dale was born on 30 Jun 1896 in Manhattan, New York, New York. She died on 10 Dec 1980 in San Antonio, Bexas, Texas.

2. James F. S. Holt "Jim" (son of Hous Holt and Sarah Ann West) was born on 1 May 1863 in Pilot Point, Denton, Texas. He died on 15 Feb 1908 in , Denton, Texas. He was buried on 16 Feb 1908 in IOOF Cemetery, Denton, Texas.
James married Sophia Black "Sophie" on 22 Oct 1885 in Denton, Denton, Texas. Sophia was born in Apr 1865 in Texas. She died on 18 Apr 1942 in Grayson, Texas. She was buried in Oakwood Cemetery, Dennison, Grayson, Texas.
They had the following children:
i. James Houston Holt "Huse" was born on 27 Sep 1886 in Pilot Point, Denton, Texas. He died on 14 Jul 1942 in Texas. He was buried in Oakwood Cemetery, Dennison, Grayson, Texas.
ii. Nina Mae Holt was born on 10 Mar 1888 in Pilot Point, Denton, Texas.
iii. Fred Holt was born on 19 Feb 1890 in , Denton, Texas. He died on 20 Nov 1957 in Phoenix, Maricopa, Arizona.
iv. William Grady Holt was born on 10 Jun 1891 in , Denton, Texas. He died on 23 Dec 1963 in Denison, Grayson, Texas. He was buried in Fairview Cemetery, Grayson, Texas.
v. Pearl Holt was born on 17 Sep 1896 in Denton, Texas. She died on 4 Dec 1944 in Texas. She was buried in Oakwood Cemetery, Dennison, Grayson, Texas.
vi. James Dewey Holt was born in 1898 in Pilot Point, Denton, Texas. He died on 27 Jul 1899 in , Denton, Texas. He was buried in Ioof Cemetery, Denton, Texas.
vii. Joseph Bailey Holt was born on 6 Oct 1900 in Pilot Point, Denton, Texas, United States. He died on 24 Dec 1922 in Denison, Grayson, Texas, United States. He was buried in International Order of Odd Fellows Cemetery, Milam, Texas, United States.
 viii. Julia Louise Holt was born on 20 Jun 1902 in Pilot Point, Denton, Texas,
United States. She died on 29 Apr 1973 in California, United States.
ix. J. R. Holt was born on 31 Mar 1904 in Pilot Point, Denton, Texas. He died on 25 May 1904 in Denton, Texas. He was buried in Ioof Cemetery, Denton, Texas.

3. Nina B. Holt (daughter of Hous Holt and Sarah Ann West)  was born on 13 Jun 1865 in Grayson, Texas. She died on 21 Oct 1886 in Denton, Texas. She was buried in Pilot Point Cemetery, Denton, Texas.
Nina married William H. Ellington on 20 Jan 1886 in Denton, Texas. William was born about 1851 in Mississippi.
They had the following child:
i. Nina Ray Ellington was born on 4 Oct 1886 in Denton, Texas. She died on 30 Oct 1886 in Denton, Texas. She was buried in Pilot Point Cemetery, Denton, Texas.

4. Piggie Holt (son of Hous Holt and Sarah Ann West) was born 9 Nov 1876 in Pilot Point, Denton, Texas and died a month later on 19 Dec 1876.  Buried in the Pilot Point Cemetery.

Sources and documents can be found on my Leffel Box Family Tree.

Gainesville, Texas "Great Hanging" Monument

Descendants of the Leffel family will be happy to know that their ancestor, David Miller Leffel, will finally get a memorial!  Yesterday, the Gainesville, Texas city council approved the placement of two monuments, which will tell the known facts of the Great Hanging of 1862 and list the 42 names of men who died in the Great Hanging.  David Miller Leffel was among the 42 men who died during the Great Hanging.

Click on image below for news clip from KXII News, Sherman, Texas.

GAINESVILLE, TX -- The Gainesville city council approved the placement of two monuments that some in the community say are long overdue.
In October 1862, nearly 150 men suspected of supporting the Union were arrested for treason against the Confederacy.
42 of them were hanged in Gainesville, just days later.
Now,151 years later, the city and community is making sure this historical event is not forgotten.
91-year-old L.D. Clark has waited decades to hear these words...
"The motion passes unanimously," Mayor Jim Goldsworthy announced to the council.
Tuesday night, the council approved construction of two 5 foot tall monuments to be built where The Great Hanging took place.
"Well, it makes me feel somewhat justified," Clark said.
Clark's great great grandfather, Nathaniel Clark, was one of the men accused of treason, and hanged on the land right off California Street in Gainesville.
Clark and other members of the Great Hanging Monument committee say this project is long overdue.
"As you grow up in this area, you hear about it. So, I felt like it was a story that was long overdue to be told to the general public," Nancy Brannon said.
Nancy Brannon says the current monument, which was erected in the 60s, is nearly unreadable. And Steve Gordon says the information on it is now outdated.
"That's the information available up to 1964. There's been a lot of research done since then," Gordon said.
Gordon and several other Gainesville residents, some whom have since passed away, have worked tirelessly to collect the facts of the historical event.
Mayor Jim Goldsworthy said their efforts helped push this motion through.
"Our concern at council is that we're historically correct. Beyond that, we would like us to remember history as it unfolded and learn from history," Goldsworthy said.
The monuments will tell the known facts, and list the 42 names of the men who died.
The group says this outcome is a victory for them, but specifically for Mr. Clark.
"There's been a great change of heart in Gainesville concerning this monument, and it's going to be a great, adequate one to fit the situation," Clark said.
Clark has written both a novel and screenplay on The Great Hanging. He says he hopes one day that screen play will be bought and shown in theaters across the country,
The group has spent their own money, and collected donations to pay for the monument.
If you'd like to help contact Steve Gordon at 940-372-8835.

Links to other posts about David Miller Leffel and the "Great Hanging at Gainesville":