Motherly Love

Last fall, my sweet Mum sent me a greeting card to keep me pumped during the campaign. The front had a little animated character with a bubble saying “Three of my favorite words?”, and then when you opened it up, the card finished, “That’s my daughter.” Mum’s handwritten note underneath says, “It just fit how I feel about you.” I keep on my desk in my office because it always give me a little boost of joy in the morning. So today, what are three of my favorite words?….That’s my Mama!!

Me and my cute Mumsy

Meg and Mum, enjoying a sunny day in the backyard in Kansas City, Summer 2012.

My beautiful Grandmom, Kay Mesle. I have no idea what year this picture was taken, but I would guess sometime in the 1940s.

My beautiful Grandmom, Kay Mesle. I have no idea what year this picture was taken, but I would guess sometime in the 1940s.

Nothing can compare to a mother’s love. I feel it from Mum. I still feel it from Grandmom. It’s calming, reassuring, and encouraging. I am fortunate to have a number of “moms” in my life. As we would say in the Mesle family, “it takes a village,” and I certainly am grateful to have such wonderful people in my life supporting me along the way.

In addition to my amazing family in Kansas City, I am lucky to have my fabulous Auntie here in California. As the “redheaded McCollister women” (as Tio likes to call us), we make sure to enjoy living in California to the fullest and explore every nook and cranny we can find.

Meg and Auntie spending a day in San Francisco, April 2013.

Meg and Auntie spending a day in San Francisco, April 2013.

So today, say Thank You to your Mom, your Grandmom, your Auntie, your Bobbie Lou, your Nancy Lee (all of my amazing “moms”). Say Thank You to the women who support you and cheer you on. They are amazing women, and deserve a little extra love on this beautiful day.

Happy Mother’s Day to my sweet Mum, and to all the Mothers out there!


Happy Birthday Mama!!

On this day, just a few short years ago, my sweet Mumsy was born. She has done many incredible things in her life, both personally and professionally, but my absolute favorite is that she is my Mom.

Mumsy's Visit to CA

Life keeps us extremely busy, but we always find time to visit and enjoy life. Mumsy is always there to explore the world with me and marvel at new experiences. I’m so glad to have her as my “Big Me.”

Mumsy's Visit to CA

Happy Birthday, Mumsy! Love you to the sky!

Lil’ you:)

Happy Birthday Lily! 11 years young today!

Lily, April 2012

Lily at the back door, getting ready for playtime in the yard. April 2012

On March 25th, 2002, Miss Lily Ann McCollister was born. With her white fur, tan spots, perky ears, and beautiful (and now toothless) smile, Lily continues to bring incredible joy to our lives. She may be turning 11 today, but she has incredible spirit, and still loves exploring all that the world has to offer.

Meg with Lily & Cousteau

Lily and Cousteau “circling” Mommy while on a hike in Tomales Bay, Mar. 2013

Family photo while hiking on Ring Mountain, Jan. 1, 2013. Clockwise from top left: Jake, Meg, Lily & Cousteau

I will always be grateful for KCREGAP (Kansas City REtired Greyhounds As Pets) for matching us with our little girl. Both Lily and Cousteau are so much fun, and we’ve continued to be involved with greyhound rescue ever since. If you are thinking of rescuing a dog, I highly recommend considering a greyhound. Nicknamed the “40mph couch potatoes,” they are gentle, loving creatures. After hard lives on the track, they simply want a human to love and a soft pillowly surface to sleep on (which is typically most of the day!). Please visit if you live in the Kansas City area, or if you live on the West Coast. Both of these groups do incredible advocacy work for greyhounds, and they always have greyhounds in need of a forever home.

We’re so excited to celebrate Lily’s 11 years today. She is a spoiled little girl, but she’s so darn cute, we just can’t help ourselves. Happy Birthday Lily!

“But…everyone is going to think we live on a farm!”

Jake and I live on the east side of Petaluma. Typically, I think of the east side as being more “suburban” and boring. There’s not as much character, it’s mostly residential, and there really isn’t much for people to do over here besides go to the grocery store, the park, or go for a run along the outer running/walking path. However, one of my favorite things about being where we live is that we’re just a few minutes walk to the edge of town, which means open spaces and beautiful views.

For Valentine’s Day this year, I decided I wanted to be in charge of our plans. The result was a yummy picnic for two, set up on the hill about a 10-min. walk from our house. It was perfect. The weather was gorgeous, the sun shining, nearly 70 degrees, and we got to our spot in plenty of time to have our picnic and do some people-watching before sunset. Naturally, I took my camera along.

While these pictures are not as magnificent of my shots of the coastline, they give you a very good sense of why I love living close to the edge of this side of town. When I showed Jake the two pictures I was going to use for this post, his response was, “but…everyone is going to think we live on a farm!” Well, I assure you, we don’t live on a farm, but the cows are a nice touch!

We had our picnic here, looking west towards our neighborhood. If you look closely, you can see the houses back behind the tree. This is right at the edge of town.

We had our picnic here, looking west towards our neighborhood. If you look closely, you can see the houses back behind the tree. This is right at the edge of town.

This is right along the fence line at the east edge of town, about 30 feet from our picnic. My favorite running path goes right along the fence for about a half mile before meeting back with the walking path.

This is right along the fence line at the east edge of town, about 30 feet from our picnic. My favorite running path goes right along the fence for about a half mile before meeting back with the walking path.

Hope you all had a wonderful and happy Valentine’s Day!

In Search Of The Harris Family Burial Grounds

The late 1850’s was a period of unrest and pending rebellion in mid-Missouri.  Family members were pitted against each other as they divided between Union and Confederate sympathies.  It divided the nation.  It divided my family, with brother literally fighting against brother.  Private Moses Harris, died in 1862 fighting with Union forces (1st NE Cavalry Regiment Missouri Home Guard). Jonathan M. Harris, died in 1910, years after serving for the Confederate army under General Price. Stephen Wheeler Harris, fought with Union troops and died in 1926.  All of the brothers are united with other family members buried in the Harris Cemetery.  But my grandmother, Minerva Harris Wright is not there.  She left in about 1855, never to return.

I have vague memories of a photograph of my great-grandfather, Samuel X Wright,[1] taken in the late 1940’s on the front porch of my grandparents’ home in Independence. Until about 2008, I knew nothing about Samuel or his family.  Eventually, I learned that shortly before the Civil War, Samuel’s parents, Samuel Wright and Minerva Harris, moved from Minerva’s family home in Saline County, Mo., to Atchison, Mo. and eventually settled in Atchison, Ks.

It was a shock when I learned that Minerva ran off with Samuel, the husband of Minerva’s older sister, Ruth Ann (“Ruthy”).[2]  Ultimately Samuel left Minerva and moved West. I do not know the rest of the story.  But I am reminded by civil war historians that the disruption in families caused by the pending conflict left wounds that divided families forever.

But I knew none of that.  It was only piece by piece that I began to uncover the basic facts about my Harris ancestors.  My research did reveal that Minerva’s parents were Timothy Harris (1803-1877) and Mary Teeters (1800-1850).  Saline County records confirm that Timothy and Mary are buried in the Harris Family Burial Ground/Cemetery, adjacent to the original Harris farm.   Timothy’s father, Jonathan Harris, who served in the War of 1812, and died after 1830, is probably is buried there as well. When I discovered that the family cemetery was adjacent to the Harris lands, it became important to me to discover it’s location.

My search for the location of Harris Family Cemetery was a challenging process. It was easier to trace my Harris ancestors back to Albemarle Virginia, where Timothy’s parents, Jonathan Harris and his wife, Ann Heard, were raised as neighbors, than to find a cemetery less than 150 miles from Kansas City.

I received help from the librarian in the Genealogy department of the Marshall Mo. public library.  But it wasn’t until my third trip along Highway O, just North of Slater, Mo. that I found it.  Even when I found the right road, the deteriorated condition of the cemetery made it difficult to see from the road. (Country Road 108).  Having finally found it, I struggled with the tall, dense weeds and grass covering the cemetery, as well as my fear of snakes.  I left the cemetery with few pictures and much frustration.

More than a year after my discovery of the cemetery, Terry and I made a return trip on January 26, 2013. We packed sandwiches, our dog, my camera and directions to the exact location and headed out on Saturday morning.


For anyone who cares, the directions to the cemetery are:

From Kansas City, drive on Highway 70 to the Marshall, Mo. exit.  Take the turnoff to Highway 65.  Drive to Marshall.  Exit at the Slater exit, Highway 240.  When you arrive at Slater, you will see a Casey’s General Store.  Highway 240 intersects with Broadway at Casey’s General Store.  Follow IMG_2253Broadway a couple of block until it turns into Highway O [3] Follow Highway O North until you reach 357th Street. (Country Road 108 was renamed last year.)

IMG_2254If you reach Highway F, you have gone too far. [4]  F begins at 357th Street.

Turn left at 357th Street.  About 1 1/2 miles down this road there is a simple bridge at the bottom of a hill.  The house at the top of the next hill has an address that reads 30643. IMG_2244Directly across from the house, on the South Side of 357th, is the cemetery.  It is identifiable (if at all) by the wood fence on the North and West sides of the cemetery.  The total distance from Casey’s to the cemetery is a total of only 7.9 miles.  It seems much further!

The cemetery is in a serious state of neglect.  I was only able to identify the names on 4 stones. None of them are stones of my direct ancestors, though I recognize the names of their children and other relatives from my research.   Because of the heavy grass and weeds underfoot, it is apparent that stones hidden under the grass will be almost impossible to find unless, and until, the grass is mowed, macheted or burned.  I will include photographs of the stones we located so that you can get a sense of the site.

S.W. Harris, a Civil War veteran, is Minerva’s brother.


I have not identified the relationship of Rachel Harris, who died August 22, 1929.  She may be Rachel Ferrel, wife of John H. Harris, who records reflect is buried in the cemetery.


J.W. Gauldin may be the husband of Patsy Harris Gauldin.


Try as I might, this stone was illegible.


Willie Wycoff is unknown to me.  Obviously, additional research is required!


This stone is for another member of the Gauldin family.


My own great-great-grandparents are not buried here.  After moving away from Saline County, my research suggests that they never returned and had no further contact with Minerva’s family.  My quest for my family roots continues.


[1]  Our family oral history is that Samuel Wright’s family traveled west with Daniel Boone.  There is also some evidence that the Harris family traveled west with members of the Boone family.  The Harris’s and Heard’s, Timothy’s parents families, lived together in Albemarle, Virginia in the 1700’s before moving through Kentucky and into Saline, County, Mo. in about 1819.  Timothy’s mother, Ann Heard, died in Kentucky.  Timothy’s father, Jonathan, may be buried in the Harris Cemetery.

[2]   Ruthy and Samuel were married in Saline, Mo. on Nov. 28, 1847.  They had three children, Tobias, Robert and Martha.  I have never found a marriage license for Minerva and Samuel nor any evidence that Ruthy and Samuel were officially divorced.

[3] Broadway mergers with Highway O.  If you turn left onto O you will head back toward Marshall.  Do not turn left.

[4]  For anyone who has seen directions to the cemetery on the internet, the sign for Country Road 108 is gone.  It is now 357. Highway O turns into Highway F at 357th.  Do not continue on Highway F.

Missing Mom: Kay Mesle

imagesMom was born on December 21, 1918.  She died January 14, 2009, less than a month after her 90th birthday.  I was privileged to know her, to have her as my mother and as my friend.  I considered her “my rock”–the one person who, from as early as I can remember, loved me unconditionally.  She made everyone feel that way.

Mom was all about love: love of family, of bright colors and of the flowers in her garden.  She supported her children and grandchildren in everything we did.  We wanted her to be proud of us, and she always was.  She loved us unconditionally, whatever the circumstances, whatever the challenge.

Over the years we became aware of her favorite sayings for challenging times.  She never said: “it will be okay”, or that “everything happens for a reason”.  She did say things like “it came to pass, it didn’t come to stay, it came to pass”, and “life is what happens when you are making other plans”.  When she didn’t know an answer to a question, she would “put it on the shelf” until she had an opportunity to figure it out.

Even when mom and dad moved into an assisted living center, mom dedicated her life to beautifying the world around her.  Having lost the garden at the home she shared with dad, she became the volunteer gardener at the Groves, planting elaborate pots of brightly colored flowers for all of the residents to enjoy.  She visited friends and strangers alike who lived in the areas reserved for those who were incapable of caring for themselves.  She provided them the limitless love that was at her core.  When she died there was nothing left of her but her endless love.

Mom, I miss you.

Jake Hodge Is 29 Today!!

IMG_0009It’s Jake’s birthday.  Jake, Meg and the dogs are driving between Wyoming and Nebraska on their way to Kansas City for the holidays.  At last report, they have stayed just ahead of bad weather.  It is a tough way to spend a birthday–driving across country with two greyhounds in the middle of winter.

Jake, we all wish you a great birthday. IMG_2042 Terry, Laura and Sophia send their love from Amsterdam Terry is visiting to be with Sophia for her 3rd birthday party tomorrow.

My dad, Sherry and Bill, Jon, Dana and Caroline all wish you a happy birthday.


I know you seem to work non-stop.  But you and Meg do have the benefit of those gorgeous California weekends to compensate for the hard work.

Have a wonderful birthday and arrive here safely.


Love from all of us.

Annandmeg Take a Hiatus

Meg has been on a “sabbatical” from our blog for just over one month.  I only see her smiling face on a fleeting basis.  Here is my last “Facetime” contact with Meg a couple of days ago.  Despite her busy schedule she is still smiling.  “Smile Meg”:

Meg will be back in just over a month.  Now it is time for me to take a brief “hiatus”. By definition, I think, a hiatus is shorter than a sabbatical. Consistent with that concept, Terry and I will only be gone briefly. We have been in a mad scramble to get all our projects in order to have this wonderful opportunity to take a break.

Our bags are packed and we are ready to go:

Casey will spend a week as a farm dog, living in the country with his friends, Dick and Patti.  He was very sad to see us leave.  We are sorry we can’t take him with us:

Terry and I will be traveling.  When we get home I hope we wonderful photographs to show, and great adventures to talk about.  Until we return, I hope your lives, and ours, are filled with adventure. I categorized this post under “Family History” because, for all of us, these are times we will remember for the rest of our lives.   I will be back in a week.  Meg will be back by November 15.

And so, dear friends, be well. Peace!

Back In Time–The Dillingham-Lewis Museum

Morgan Vachel Dillingham was born in 1843 to Joshua Robert Dillingham and Susan Jane Walker.  He fought, and was wounded, in the Civil War.  He served with confederate forces.  On his return from the war, he found his family home had been inhabited by the Mock family.  He married Melvina Mock.  The log cabin in which they lived is now located at Missouri Town.

Morgan and Melvina ultimately built the Dillingham home at 15th and Main, in Blue Springs, Missouri.  They owned a general “mercantile” store. He was a bank vice president/president. [1]  His family had a large farm in Eastern Jackson County, Mo. This photograph of the Dillingham family in 1914 identifies a couple, “Ma D and Pa D” presumably Morgan and Melvina.

Morgan and Melvina’s son, David Morgan Dillingham, was born 1873.  He married Mary Estella Spicer in 1898.  Morgan and Melvina built them a home on property adjacent to the Dillingham home.

Known as the Brownfield House, it is where David and Estella raised their family.

David owned a gas station and a store. In January, 1955, David was shot and killed in a botched robbery at his store.

David’s daughter, Margaret, was raised in the Brownfield House. She married Wade Brownfield. They also raised their family in the Brownfield House.

The Brownfield House was sold privately and has been beautifully restored.  The Dillingham House was eventually sold to Narra Lewis who, in 1977, sold the home to the Blue Springs Historical Society. It is now a museum, and also houses the historical society.

The museum has been decorated in period pieces consistent with the styles of the early 1900’s, approximately 100 years ago.

While the furnishings are not original to the home, the interior of the house nonetheless reflects the style of the early 1900’s.  It is lovely, reflecting the graciousness of that time.

The museum is open to the public for only a few hours a week.  It is worth a call to arrange a tour and to glimpse a slice of life in the earliest years of the 20th century.

[1]  Sources are inconsistent as to his role at the bank

Continuing My Search For Ancestors

Hearing from a possible relative is thrilling.  This is how the message begins:

“Hi Ann, Hearing from a newfound family member is always exciting! . . . You and I would be 2nd cousins by marriage.”

Our possible common ancestor was Conrad/us Kirs/ner, father of my great-grandmother, Catherine Barbara Kischner.  Catherine’s children knew her as “Kate”.  This photograph of Kate was taken shortly before her death, on Dec. 28, 1910.  She was living with her daughter, Anna Landes, in Niagara Falls, NY.  My granddad, Frank C. Mesle, Sr., owned the house next door.Kate may have been born June 16, 1850/7.

Our family history, and the 1910 U.S. Census, are consistent that she was born in Germany.  Sources at, including my newly connected second cousin, disagree, and believe she was born in Glogon, Austria-Hungary.

Glogon (now Glogonj) is currently part of Serbia. Between the mid-1800’s and the present, Glogon has been part of Austria-Hungary, Hungary, Yugoslavia and, now, Serbia.  It is strategically located between what was, in the 1700 and 1800’s, a buffer area between Christian Austria-Hungary and the Moslem world.  Apparently settlers were given free land to entice them to move there to provide a buffer between the two cultures.  It was certainly a bad bargain. They lived a difficult life at best. Apparently death rarely resulted from old age, but instead from disease, starvation or warfare.  By the late 1800’s there was a massive exodus from Glogon to other areas of Europe and to the U.S.

Selfishly, for me, my probable link to Glogon helps explain my DNA test results, that indicates I have DNA markers for Southern Europe and, perhaps, the Caucasus, near the Black Sea.  Obviously Glogon is located far closer to Italy than to the country I had believed to be her home, Germany.

Kate received a series of letters from her family between 1896 and 1911. All were addressed from Germany.  Each includes some tidbit of news pertinent to the family history.  They are as follows:

Letter from C. Kirsch (probably her brother) dated Jan. 22, 1897 from Ludwigshafen (at the Rhein), to the Kaisers German Consulate in Toronto, Canada: He identifies Barbara Kirsch as his sister, states his father’s third wife “died last year” and that his father, who is very weak, will be 76 in March.  He states that of the “brothers and sisters there are , besides myself: a sister, Elise Fromhold, a widow, who lives in Neckargemund.  Elise was Conrad’s daughter by his first wife, as was Kate. A brother Frederick[1] Kirsch, was a teacher in Sonborn, Elberfeld, of the second wife.

Letter from C. Kirsch dated July 16, 1901, from Ludwigshafen to Barbara Mesle, born Kirsch, in Niagara Falls, NY:  He explained he was sending Barbara her 1/4 share of her father’s estate, 2000 marks, ($478.16).  He identified his eldest daughter as Lenchen, and his son as Fredrick.

Letter from Elisa Fromhold dated July 29, 1907, from Neckargemund: It is addressed to “Dear Sister” and  identified her daughter, Marin, as nurse in Mannheim, another child as Jungfer, who lived in  Durtheim (Durbheim?).

Letter from Elise Fromhold dated August 1, 1911, from Neckargemund: It is addressed “Dear Aunt”(?) and was received by the family several months after Barbara’s death. It identified the author’s children, Dina, Karl, Uncle Konrad and Uncle Friedrich.  I assume, but do not know, that this is from a daughter of Catherine’s sister, also Elisa/e.

The correspondence from a possible cousin, who I have never met, is exciting.  She identified another brother of Kate’s, Josephus Kirschner, born September 8, 1855, in Glogon.  He has long been identified on the margins of my notes as a possible relative. Her ability to give me what may well be another piece of my great-grandmother’s history assists me, piece by piece, to trace the history of my family.

Have a great week.


Frederick is also the name of one of Kate’s sons