Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Toledo, WA and Ancestry.com~ Travelin' Tuesday

Last Memorial Day Weekend
I traveled north for a family friend's
100th Birthday Party!
And since the party was a very short distance from
my grandparent's hometown of Toledo,
I decided to combine the visit with a photo/research trip
to satisfy a recent burgeoning interest in my ancestry.

Since watching Henry Louis Gates, Jr.'s PBS series
on 'African American Lives' and 'Faces of America',
I have become fascinated with the idea of learning about the people
who created my DNA.

But back to the party!

Eileen, my grandparent's friend from Toledo days,
turned 100 years old.

And everywhere, on every table at her party, were
photos from her early life
as well as the photo book above that her daughters had compiled
entitled 'The First 100 Years'...

Shots of this beauty everywhere
and here posing with her sister, Eleanor~
her younger sister who was too elderly
and ill to attend the party...

When I walked into the Virgil Lee Community Center in Chehalis, Washington,
this tough cookie greeted me at the door
sans cane or walker, perched in heeled shoes
and stood for the ENTIRE 3 hour event!

I couldn't have done it!

Not once did she sit, nor stop to fill herself a plate from the buffet line
as her more than 100 guests did throughout the party.
She tirelessly hugged every guest upon their arrival
and posed with a genuine smile for every photo op.

When I came in she hugged me
and said, "I'm so glad you came."

"You look fantastic," I said.

"Feel great," she replied. "Not a single ache or pain."

"What? How is it that at nearly 50, I'm filled with aches and pains
and you have none. Do you walk for exercise?"

"Nope, the stairs to my room are all the exercise I need. And I occasionally
still go to the casino."

Whoo Hoo! So much more to look forward to!

With more than 100 guests, there wasn't much more opportunity for us to visit. Only a few words here and there. So I filled MY plate, had 2 (count 'em two) pieces of cake and wandered through the room admiring old photos, wishing I could turn back the clock to the days when she and her husband and my grandparents partied and played together.

I'd seen pictures of them all when they were young, seen them visit in their later years when Eileen would take the train down and spend a few days together but I'd never seen them interact as young people.

As I flipped through the photo album of her first 100 years, I came upon the photo that made me gasp.

Roy Moffitt, (spelled wrong in the photo). My grandfather's father! I had completely forgotten! Eileen's sister Eleanor had married my great-grandfather after Grandpa's mother, Hazel, died. Look at that dashingly handsome guy!

So after the party and a night on Hood Canal (another place my grandfather spent time as a kid and where his family owned a resort before the depression), I returned to Toledo for a few photos.

There's not alot terribly charming about Toledo...
though several of the town's buildings have recreated and mounted famous paintings on their walls...

But to me it is rich with the history of the people I loved, now a puzzle for me to dive into, a treasure hunt not only of the puzzle itself but of all it's many intricate pieces.

The town of Toledo was named after this Steamer,
also called the Toledo, in 1881 according to this photo mounted near the pharmacy.

As I wandered the town taking shots
and wondering how best to find out more,
I came upon a tiny Logging Museum.

The man at the antique store next door asked
if I wanted to look inside.
I said if he had the key and was the one who could make that happen
then the answer was yes.
And when I say tiny,
I mean that the museum is a quaint enough room
that one can walk inside and twirl but not actually walk anywhere.

So I twirled and looked, admiring all the photos and equipment on the walls
remembering that my grandmother had worked in a logging camp
after her mother died.

And then I recognized a face...

The man standing second from the right
with the mustache
holding his cup next to the coffee pot...

is my great, great grandfather: Jeremiah (Jerry) Lewis.

More to come in future posts and from Ancestry.com. And if you missed it and are interested in either of Henry Louis Gates Jr.'s PBS series, go to PBS.org and streamline it on your computer.

I guaranty you, you'll get hooked!

(All photographs copyright: Kirsten Steen)


  1. Good morning Kirsten!!Long time no see, but how lovely to come and read and see such an interesting history of your DNA! On a recent trip to California, I met up with my first cousin who is not retired but has been researching our maternal side of the family and what a treasure he has given to me. Loaded with pictures that I had never seen, his files are filled with interesting characters. Our grandfather was related to a BOURBON!!!! My cousin actually as a photo of our grandpa as a little boy, in the arms of his uncle, this regal man from this famous lineage! My father's side is also impressive....about 8 generations back, several PELAYO brothers traveled from Spain to Mexico, founded a little town where all the Pelayos took over (horrible, I know), and then married within each other! I believe there is a link to King Pelayo, the first "Christian" king of Asturias. Fun information and a helpful look into who we are!

    How are ya'?


  2. Hi Kirsten! Yes, I had a fabulous stay and especially up north! L.A., well, smoggy, crowded and stifling, but lovely to see loved ones! But give me the northern climat and landscaping ANY DAY!!!! ENJOY THE WEEKEND COMING!

    Bisous, Anita

  3. Very cool, Kirsten! What a rich heritage you have. Have a wonderful weekend. xx

  4. hey kirstie,

    so cool that you are undertaking this project! i will certainly stay tuned as it progresses. see you in a couple weeks!


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  6. This is a fascinating post. All of it. From your 100 years young friend who is so inspiring, to your family history and Toledo. Thank you for sharing this with me. It reminds me of how important events are.


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