About Me

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Lake Mathews (Perris), CA, United States
Born in Illinois, I grew up in Wilmette, a northern suburb of Chicago. I have one sibling, an older brother. I am married, for the 2nd time now, to Butch & got 4 children in the deal. They have gone on to make me grandmother 25 times over & great-grandmother to over 20!. After many years working in industry, I got my bachelors and masters degrees in speech communication, & was a professor in that field for 13 years. I retired in 2001 & returned to school & got my doctorate in folklore. Now I meld my two interests - folklore & genealogy - & add my teaching background, resulting in my current profession: speaker/author/entertainer of genealogically-related topics. I play many folk instruments, but my preference is guitar, which I have been playing since 1963. I write the "Aunty Jeff" column for the Informer, newsletter of the Jefferson County NY Gen. Soc. I work in partnership with Gena Philibert-Ortega & Sara Cochran as Genealogy Journeys® where we focus on educating folks about Social History. More about that: genaandjean.blogspot.com. More on our podcasts: genjourneys.podbean.com. More about my own projects: Circlemending.org.

Friday, January 31, 2014

L. Roy Wilcox, PhD - Autobiography, Part 4

                                      EO: PRE-BIRTH, PRECURSORS

This chapter should, of course, have been written by my parents. But this project was conceived too late, and so I am required to depend on hearsay plus memory. My knowledge is necessarily spotty and irregular. I am truly sorry not to guarantee full accuracy throughout the chapter.

So far as I know, my ancestry on the paternal side (as to males at least) is heavily Scotch. Peter Wilcox emigrated from Scotland;* his son was Nathan, whose son Edward sired Lee, my father. On the paternal side I know less about my grandmother Gertrude’s[1] ancestry, except that it contained a mixture of German and French. She emigrated from Bonn, Germany for reasons that are not entirely clear. What I know is that she had been Catholic, had aspired to become a nun, and to that end had been in a convent. 
Gertrud, ca 1873, Germany

For some reason she had become disillusioned with Catholicism and had left the church and the convent. Probably her migration to America was an escape from expected unpleasantness related to her withdrawal from the convent.** Her accounts included little concerning her husband, from whom she became estranged early (but not before three children had been born to them***); he too was a German immigrant. 
Fritz and Gertrude Mueller, ca 1875

She was clearly negative concerning him (and indeed concerning most men, so far as I could tell); the only positive thing that I recall her saying was that he was musically inclined, perhaps proficient (and presumably not capable of supporting his family). Her daughter Pauline was my mother.

Lee’s childhood was an unhappy one. His father was an ultra-stern man, and his one brother, older than he, was something of a bully; his mother having died early, he was reared by a stepmother who had joined the family perhaps more for benefit for herself than for love. The family was thoroughly Southern in all respects;**** Edward had settled fairly early in Dallas, Texas and remained there until his death.
Edward Everett Wilcox, ca 1920, Dallas, Texas

Most of Lee’s relatives also lived in the South, as did Lee throughout most of his adolescence. (He completed eighth grade and went to work thereafter.) He was evidently fed up and chomping at the bit to leave, which he did, joining the Navy. Shortly after his discharge he moved to Chicago for reasons unknown to me.* 
There he attended and was graduated from, the Moody Bible Institute, a fundamentalist school (named after the evangelist Dwight L. Moody) designed to prepare graduates to become ministers of the Gospel in the informal world of evangelism. Indeed, Lee did secure the post of part-time pastor of a fledgling church in Galewood (a western suburb of Chicago, now incorporated therein) which church was labeled “Congregational” but was actually independent. Lee was highly successful in effecting the growth of the church and was well-liked by the people; he was especially effective in working with young people. (Unfortunately, much later he was forced to resign from the church when it moved toward becoming formally a Congregational Church, since he was unqualified for ordination.) To make a living, Lee worked as a stockman at Sears Roebuck & Co. in Chicago. For the rest of his life, Illinois was his adopted home.

While Lee benefited a bit from the Navy stint in that he became muscular and strong and was able to overcome some of the demeaning he suffered during early life, there were also some negative effects. 

He became a heavy drinker and smoker and seemed to get into fights frequently; one fight led to a permanent injury to one year. He said later that when mustered out he was seen by a doctor who refused to recognize the injury as Navy-related and whose only apparent function was to ensure that he was free of venereal diseases. Eventually he lost his hearing completely in that ear; and throughout his later life his hearing in the other ear deteriorated steadily for some reason, ultimately almost to zero.

My contacts with Lee’s relatives were too superficial to lead to any further recounting of events or ideas involving them here; occasional references will appear later.

Much more is known to me concerning the maternal side of my ancestry, limited mostly to relatives of one or two generations back; I also know or knew cousins and some of their children. 
Gertrude (left) with Pauline (top), Ottillie (right), and C. Arthur (bottom)

Gertrude was able to make a home in a German neighborhood in Chicago’s near Northwest side (about a mile north and 2 miles west of the Loop). She was now a Baptist, nurtured by the First German Baptist Church, of which she and most of her friends were members. In the course of events, she had two daughters, Ottilie and Pauline Elizabeth and one son (Chester) Arthur in that order;** all of them, along with Gertrude, or to figure heavily in my early, and to a degree in my adult, life. Because of an early as strange men between their parents, Gertrude’s children had to be provided for through Gertrud’s efforts alone; having few skills, Gertrude[2] was limited to menial jobs.***

Gertrude is front, left, sitting (photo, ca 1920)

Pauline, like Lee, had an unhappy childhood. Her mother was stern; her older sister Ottilie was a stuck- up snob who mistakenly regarded herself as superior to both her siblings. Also, Pauline had an early illness which threatened a possible malformation of her upper torso. To treat this condition a doctor put her in a cast, in which she remained much too long (because the doctor disappeared and Gertrude didn’t know enough to find another). When the cast was finally removed, a real malformation was evident, and she lived with it all her life. This handicap led to increased taunting by Ottilie;
Pauline and Ottillie

but the positive outcome was the creation in Pauline a strong determination to excel in at least some ways. As it turned out she succeeded magnificently.
Gertrude with Pauline (who is about 6 years old in this photo)

Accordingly, after completing the eighth grade, she went to business school to learn shorthand and typing, hoping to become an expert secretary. I later learned that she succeeded beautifully in her aim: she later worked as a private secretary to high executives in several corporations, including, for example, William Wrigley, Jr., founder of the gum company bearing his name. I am sure that, had she competed in a speed typing contest, she would have finished the winner. She proceeded to earn enough money to put her brother Art through college and to better living conditions for herself and her mother; she even managed to buy a house for Gertrude and herself in Irving Park (Northwest side of Chicago, then a choice neighborhood). By the time they moved, Ottilie had been married, divorced and remarried to a Carl Dallmann, by whom she had three children, Wilbur, Myra, and Edith. 
Wilbur, Edith, and Myra Dallman, ca. 1910

The Dallmanns lived a few miles northeast of Irving Park. Also, Art married Leora Price: they lived in Oak Park, a west suburb of Chicago. My recollection is that Art had prepared for the ministry, but had withdrawn from that almost immediately and started his own food-supply business, which he operated until the great depression. Carl Dallmann was a salesman, also in the food business.

During her adolescence and early childhood, Pauline became involved in evangelical religious activities; it was this interest that led her to meet Lee (ca. 1910). They were both involved independently in evangelizing institutionalized persons, and chanced both to be active briefly in the same place – “Dunning” – known then as an “insane asylum.” (Why the “insane” were targets for evangelism is unclear.) Lee and Pauline were married in August 1911 in the house of Pauline and Gertrude at 4150 N. Kildare Avenue, the location which ultimately became part of an exit from the Kennedy Expressway. 

It was natural that Lee moved to the Kildare house, at least temporarily (though it didn’t quite work out that way). By that time a woman, Jenny Schultz, whom Gertrude had befriended, was rooming there. (By odd chance, she had emigrated from Bonn, Germany.) Poor Lee: he was stuck in a house with three women, one (Gertrude) as strong-willed as he, leaving him no voice in household management.

The newlyweds planned to become missionaries to Central America. (Why Central America? Not clear. Where in Central America? Also not clear.) All that remains of these plans is a Spanish-American dictionary, never used by them, but now in use by me in my work with crossword puzzles. Almost immediately Pauline became pregnant (with me), and plans had been to be changed. Pauline could probably have learned Spanish, but I doubt that Lee could. Though he lived for many years in a German environment, he learned, so far as I know, only two words: Schluessel (key) and Spazieren (take a walk). I learned later that the missionary zeal lasted for quite a while – that they planned to enter the field after the baby was born. Fortunately, especially for me, this didn’t work out. (Fundamentalist missionaries never fared well in foreign countries, and their children, if any, fared worse.)

It’s not clear why I remained an only child. Pauline had said early in the game that she planned to have six children – all boys. I’ve often wondered whether the absence of any more children stemmed from her belief that the machinery of reproduction was sinful; she must certainly have realized the machinery to have been God’s invention. In any case, I have always felt satisfied with my “only child” status.

* There is no indication in any documentation that the family came from Scotland (this includes DNA testing via Robert H. Wilcox, direct line male). It is reported by earlier generations (notably, Nathan’s brother Luther) that the immigrant ancestor was Caleb Wilcox (Willcockson), father of Peter, and that he hailed from England, settling in Vermont prior to the 1800s.
[1] Originally in German form Gertrud, but later changed to the more anglicized form
** The reasoning for the immigration of Gertrude is explained in her mother’s biography: Elisabeth: The Story of a German Immigrant by Jean M. Wilcox Hibben, ©2012. Gertrude and her siblings were actually raised in an orphanage attached to the convent of the church the family attended in Bonn, Germany. Elisabeth had immigrated to the US, then sent for her children. Gertrude came to America in 1874, ten years after her mother had left Germany. Disillusionment with the Catholic Church appeared to have developed after she arrived on these shores.
*** There were actually four children; the fourth was Oscar Friederick. He died a few months after birth, likely during the blizzard of 1888.
**** Not really. Ed had been born in Michigan and raised till adolescence in Iowa. When Nathan and family moved to Tennessee, Ed came along reluctantly and was often in fights because of his Yankee position (the Civil War having just ended). Ed moved to Dallas in about 1880 with friends of his first wife’s family (the Lees). His first wife, Lee’s mother – Amanda Williford – was the Southerner (Georgia and Tennessee). She died after the first four children were born and Ed married her nurse, Leonora Stickle Caskey, another Yankee (she was from Pennsylvania).
* Lee had met a Christian man (a Negro) while in the Navy and was converted to Christianity (a belief not shared by his father). He went to Chicago to further that new belief and develop it into a potential career at Moody.
** Plus the fourth, Oscar, mentioned earlier
[2] Gertrude’s married name was initially Mueller; at Art’s insistence, it was changed later to Miller.
*** Gertrude’s maiden name was also Mueller. The spelling change, according to Art, was for purposes of making the pronunciation easier. It is suspected that it was more to avoid the prejudice towards Germans that was prevalent throughout the US.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

L. Roy Wilcox, PhD - Autobiography, Part 3


As indicated, this part deals in narrative fashion with “eras,” the number of which I have arbitrarily chosen as 11. They are unequal in time – length, two very short as two years, and one as long as 25 years.

In general, the early eras are the short ones, since in developmental changes they occur more rapidly than later. A listing follows:

Years (appr)
Prebirth; Precursors; era; culture
Preschool; residence: Chicago
Elementary grades 1-6 (Chgo)
Junior High Period grades 7, 8 (Res: Wilmette)
High School Period (Res: Wilmette)
University Period (Res: Wilmette)
Post Doctoral Period (Res: Princeton, NJ)
Initial Professional Period (Res: Madison, WI)
End of Bachelorhood
Further Professional Period (Res: Chgo)
Start of Married Life and Parenthood
Further Professional Period (Res: Wilmette)
Includes Parenthood (not completed)
Retirement (Res: Wilmette) (not completed)

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

L. Roy Wilcox, PhD - Autobiography, Part 2

(this section and the introduction pages are marked with “Redo-reorganize!!” No such reorganization has been found in the original notes)

To my daughter, Jean, who commissioned this work.
Writing biographies, in particular the auto – kind, is one of many things about which I know very little. Accordingly I have spent probably more time in thinking about this project that I have in carrying it out.

Probably this type of job is relatively simple when the subject’s life is essentially single – faceted, at least so far as readers’ interests are likely to be concerned as for example, in the case of a great statesman. But in a case where greatness, together with a consistent amount of mediocrity, if any, is spread over a number of “facets” and where salient features are far from constant over the years, the job is pretty complicated. This is so in part because a simple chronological account of such a life must deal at early stage with many or at least several related or unrelated facets; and the results promises to be a grand hodgepodge.

Therefore, since I regard myself as a multifaceted (a jack of many “trades,” master of at least two) I have decided to write my (auto –) biography into parts with inter-part and in intra- part biography, cross references kept to a minimum.

Part one is a chronological account in the form of a collection of commentaries, one for each of us set of “eras” with relatively little attention to the “facets.” Part two deals with the facets including hobbies, special areas of interest, or significant pieces of my career. A table of contents of each part appears at the beginning of that part.

In part one there is no implication of lack of continuity from one “era” to the next, but there is enough shift in lifestyle, Outlook and self-evaluation at each transition to justify the organization there are many anecdotal items, some possibly significant, which should appear somewhere but don’t fit well in part two; these are therefore included somewhere in part one although they may span two or more eras. Similarly in part two, the various items have sufficient identity to lead to their separation; yet there are many inter-relationships, some of which have become evident to me only through the sorting out processes in which I have been recently involved in connection with this project.

(Note from transcriptionist: some of the “unknowns” about the families mentioned here are known by the person typing this manuscript and have been identified in footnotes, marked * on the respective pages, for the edification of the reader. Numbered footnotes are from the original manuscript. This was transcribed using Dragon software and then hand-revisions, as necessary - JMWH.)

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

L. Roy Wilcox, PhD (1912-1999) - Autobiography, part 1

My dad wrote his autobiography.

When I started working on my Family History, I asked him to write it, record it, video it . . . something! I knew his life was extraordinary, but I also knew that there were a lot of pieces missing from my knowledge of it. Couldn't he please fill me in? I interviewed him, but he often steered the talk into another direction (his cousin did this, his mother said that, etc.) . . . so frustrating. I gave him tools (lists of questions he could answer, a cute book with topics he could expound on, pictures he could identify and discuss). Nothing worked. How was I to know that, all along, it WAS working? That he had begun writing the work and was keeping it secret (no doubt to surprise me with it in type-written form).

My mother was always Dad's secretary (this probably because she was the only one that could read his scribbles). Dad's writings were done in long hand on scratch paper (the most recent piece of which was dated in 1986, so he had to have begun the bulk of the work then or after . . . I suspected after). One reference mentioned something that happened in early 1990, so that gave me a more accurate date - he had to have written (at least that part) after early 1990. My mother died in June 1994. She had typed the first portions of the work (with a carbon copy, of course). Dad died on 31 December 1999. I suspect that he wrote little, if anything, after Mom's death - after all, how would it get typed? (Yes, he still had his Underwood typewriter, but he didn't really use it in his later years.)

Dad had outlined all the planned sections and subsections of the work and wrote on all of the items in the first section. Only two elements of the second section were addressed. While sad, he still ended up with about 82 pages of typed manuscript (I know this because I just finished typing it, learning to read his handwriting as I went). Now, what do I do with it? My brother and I are the only descendants of my parents and neither of us has biological children. Those who would care about this extraordinary man are, for the most part, dead. But maybe my readers would find his autobiography of interest. He talks about his life, those of his ancestors, and historical events in general (some with which he was intimately involved). So I am going to set up a series of blog posts of the Autobiography of L. Roy Wilcox, PhD and hope that his experiences will be found interesting or inspiring to those who read this work.

Tune in tomorrow for the life and times of a 20th Century mathematician, musician, electrician, and all-round incredible individual.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Everything I Need to Know I Learned from Doing Jigsaw Puzzles

14 hints for doing jigsaw puzzles or genealogy

1- if it doesn't fit,  it doesn't fit... Don't force it!
2 - work surface must be large enough to fit item but not so large as to require uncomfortable reaching 
3 - there are two different ways to approach doing puzzles: with or without the aid of the box cover; decide (with partners) which way you are going to do the process
     a.  if using the box, make sure it is available for everyone working on the puzzle to use it
     b.  if working "blind," plan for the process to take longer
4 - do straight edge pieces first to establish the boundaries (keeping it separate from other puzzle families) (From Sharon Sergeant)
5 - when working as a team, don't take over the part being handled by team mate(s) unless that person is agreeable for that or asks for help
6 - having time limits avoids working while exhausted (when mistakes occur and important pieces are overlooked)
7 - snack/meal breaks improve stamina, brain function, and motivation
8 - some comfortable listening music (according to personal taste) can help ease the soul when parts of the task are exceedingly difficult (all must agree on this, however)
9 - communication with the partner(s) helps work to be more efficient ("I'm looking for pieces with red and blue like this one") allowing the other(s) to assist by passing along the sought for piece
10 - if you have a term for a piece shape, be certain to let others know your terminology 
11 - check environment for fallen/overlooked pieces
12 - if a piece is apparently permanently missing, make note of it for the person or people who will work the puzzle in the future
13 - when the task is done,  it's done...don't forget to save (take a picture or otherwise record the accomplishment) and identify the date, time, place, etc. (cite sources and give credit where due)
14 - file your puzzle so that you can find it again for your use or to pass along to someone else