52 Ancestors Week 16 – William Heiser, National Roadeo Champion

William Kenneth Heiser Sr

Photo of William Kenneth Heiser Sr. from The News (Frederick, MD) October 1950

William Kenneth HEISER Sr. (19 Feb 1916 – 27 Oct 1988) was my father’s first cousin. He was the oldest of the three children born to Joseph Henry HEISER Jr and Mary Virginia DRONEBURG HEISER. William’s father and my grandfather, Daniel Wilbert HEISER, were brothers.

Ordinary Beginning

William had a typical upbringing. He learned to play the piano, and at times he accompanied his sister when she sang at women’s meetings and such in their home county of Frederick County, Maryland. He graduated high school, and he was a pallbearer at his grandmother’s funeral.

After high school William worked as a laborer in a distillery near Baltimore. In 1935 and 1940, he was living in Ellicott City, Maryland. On the 1940 census, he is married to Gladys Larue NAUMAN HEISER.

In time, William and Larue had two children – William Kenneth, Jr. and Judith.

Not So Ordinary Anymore

Life became less ordinary for William starting in 1949, 6 years after he got a job driving a truck for Davidson Transfer and Storage Co of Baltimore.


Not William’s truck, but probably about the same as the one he drove

William was an awesome truck driver. So awesome that he won first in his class in the Highway Safety Week truck driving competition several times and went on to compete in the National Roadeo Finals in New York several times as well.

A newspaper article in 1956 said William had entered the roadeo competition for nine years, winning the State title eight times and placing second and third in the national competitions. William drove a single-axle semi-trailer.

These competitions were about more than driving. ‘The driver had to take a written examination on rules of the road, first aid, and the trucking industry.’

He also had to ‘pass a skill test which included parking the vehicle with only four feet to spare, backing to a loading dock with six inches to spare, weaving a 39-foot truck through a serpentine course with barrels placed 20 feet apart, and driving through parallel rows of golf balls on tees.’

Driver of the Year

In 1954, William was presented with the Driver-Of-The Year award by the Maryland Truck Association.

William K Heiser Sr MD truck driver of the year 1954

William receiving the Maryland Truck Driver of the Year Award

They based their decision on his having won the state and national championships several times, his 9 ½ years of driving without a chargeable accident, his frequent radio and television appearances on behalf of the trucking industry; and a series of safety talks delivered to Boy Scout troops and similar groups, on a voluntary basis.

The Rest of the Story As I Know It

I couldn’t find anything else about William after 1959 except for his being on the social security death index. No newspaper articles or even an obituary.

I met his wife and son once in the mid 1980’s at the home of William’s brother, Charles Reginald (Bud) HEISER. William wasn’t there, but I don’t remember why.

I never saw any of those family members again.52ancestors-2015


52 Ancestors Week 15 – William Wallace Pyles: Family Man and Farmer


Not Wallace’s farm, but a farm that Wallace’s might have been like

William Wallace PYLES, my 2nd great grandfather, was the third of five children born to John PYLES/PILES and Rebecca Poole PYLES/PILES. He was born about 1837 in Montgomery County, Maryland, and he went by Wallace.



Wallace was minimally educated. He was listed as a farmer on every census he appears in, including 1850 when he was only 13 years old. At 22, he married Emeline PRICE. Over the next 14 years, they had eight children, one of which was my great-grandmother, Sarah Rebecca PYLES PRICE.

Sarah Rebecca Pyles Price cropped

Sarah Rebecca PYLES PRICE, my great-grandmother


In the 1860 and 1870 census records, Wallace is living within about 10 miles of his parents, either in the Medley’s district or the Clarksburg district of Montgomery County. His personal and real estate value increased considerably between 1860 and 1870, too. According to an article in the Montgomery Sentinel newspaper, Wallace was ‘a highly respected citizen of the county.’

Life appeared to be going well for Wallace and his family until 1877. According to that same article, ‘He was weakened and thrown into bed by diligent application of labor which proved to be unsuitable for the preservation of his good health.’

Funeral Info for WW Pyles from church records

Funeral information for WW PYLES from church records

Wallace was sick for several months and, according to church records, ‘he could neither lie down nor sleep.’ The illness finally got to Wallace, and probably seeing no chance of recovery, he committed suicide on 24 May 1877 at 40 years of age.

According to the Sentinel, ‘Being of inordinate industrious disposition, on the morning of the rash act, afore-mentioned, he had so far regained strength as to enable him to get from the bed, unknowingly to the family, and procure a loaded gun, which he placed to his breast while in a sitting posture and with the ramrod pushed the trigger, the contents entering his body where it remained. Death was instantaneous.‘ Wallace was only 40 years old.

The church record of the funeral says Wallace was believed to be ‘in a state of non compos mentis’ which means ‘not sane or in one’s right mind.’ Months of no sleep and no relief from the pain would certainly make a person go out of his mind.52ancestors-2015

52 Ancestors Week 14 – Phillip Martin: Farmer, Preacher and POW

Phillip MARTIN, my 2nd great-grandfather, was born 30 March 1831 to Joel E. MARTIN and Sarah GILL MARTIN. He was the 8th born of their 11 children.

Margaret Futrell Martin

Margaret Futrell Martin, around 1910

Joel was a planter/farmer, and Phillip followed in that line of work according to all the census records that can be found for him. Joel and Phillip both lived in Richland County, South Carolina their entire lives.

Phillip married Margaret FUTRELL sometime before 1860; their first child was born in the summer of 1860. The Civil War broke out, and Phillip enlisted. He was about 30 years old.

7th SC Battalion Flag - James and Jesse and John Henry all served in this battalion

Flag of the 7th Battalion, SC Infantry

Phillip was part of the 7th Battalion of the South Carolina Infantry. They were also known as Enfield Rifles. The Battalion fought in both Carolinas and in Virginia. On 16 May 1864, Phillip was wounded and captured at Drewry’s Bluff on the James River near Richmond, Virginia.

As a POW, Phillip was transported from Virginia to Point Lookout, Maryland and eventually to Elmira, New York. The war ended, and he was released 27 June 1865 after signing an oath of allegiance to the United States. He had been a POW for over a year.

Phillip's Crutch used from Pt Lookout to SC

Phillip’s crutch that was used on his long walk home. One of my Martin cousins has it.

On his release, it was noted that he had dark hair, dark eyes, a dark complexion, and he was 6 feet, 2 inches tall. This is especially interesting since except for a painting of him as an old man, there is no other information about what he looked like.

Phillip could have stayed in New York, but he wanted to return home. So using a crutch to help him walk, Phillip walked over 700 miles back to his home and family in South Carolina. Back home he resumed farming. He was ordained as a church elder in the Methodist Protestant Church in 1866.

Better Portrait Rev Phillip Martin 18311901

Reverend Phillip Martin, my 2nd great-grandfather

For the next 34 years, Phillip both farmed and preached. He seemed to be a successful farmer. He is listed in the 1880 Non-Population Schedule of the census where he reported having about 250 acres of land, 3 working oxen, 3 milk cows, 15 swine, and 11 chickens. He also reported that in 1879 he had slaughtered 9 cows, made 150 lbs of butter, and produced several hundred eggs.

Phillip passed away on 8 August 1901 at the age of 70. According to what appears to be his obituary: At 11:14, August 8, in the church hear his home, he fell almost instantly in the hands of his God, without a frown or struggle. The last sound of voice we heard from Bro. Martin was that sweet old song, “Oh, when shall I see Jesus and reign with him above.”

Click HERE for the words to this hymn.

Click HERE for a video of the hymn being sung.  Go listen; it’s beautiful!

The obituary goes on to say: He leaves a dear wife, five daughters, six sons, and many friends to mourn their loss, which is his lasting gain.52ancestors-2015

52 Ancestors Week 13 – Vera Luana Crouch, Pretty Young Thing

Vera Luana CROUCH was born on 18 Oct 1904 to Risden Tyler CROUCH and his wife, Pennie GRANT CROUCH. The family was in Chesterfield County, South Carolina at that time.

Penelopy Grant Lawhorn

Pennie, Vera’s mother

Vera, daughter of Penelope Grant Crouch Lawhorn cropped

Vera Crouch, appears to be about 10 years old

Vera was a beautiful girl. She had her mother’s dark hair and thin frame, but her face was rounder and less angular than her mother’s. Perhaps the round face came from her father.

When Vera was 10, she was diagnosed with mitral regurgitation which meant that the mitral valve in her heart didn’t close tightly.  This allowed for blood to flow backward in her heart. Mitral regurgitation can be caused by several things including rheumatic heart disease, mitral valve prolapse or an infection in the heart. Any of those things could have caused Vera’s heart problem.

Vera Crouch (on leftt), dau of Aunt Penny per Agnes Jacobs cropped

Vera on the left, looking to be 13 or 14 years of age

My grandma, Florrie THOMAS MARTIN, told me about a cousin of hers who “had a hole in the heart and you could hear the blood wooshing around just being in the same room with her.”  It must have been Vera she was talking about since a severe mitral regurgitation can be heard without a stethoscope. Pennie and Florrie’s mother, Margaret GRANT THOMAS, were sisters making Florrie and Vera cousins.

As you can guess, Vera died young. At 15, her heart was no longer strong enough to  keep her alive. According to her death certificate, she suffered for 5 days with ‘acute congestion of the lungs’ until she finally passed on 24 June 1919.

Vera’s father passed away when Vera was eight, and her mother married a second time to a man named George Lawhon. Vera,her mother and her stepfather were living in McFarlan, North Carolina at the time of her death. She was buried at Pleasant Hill Cemetery in McFarlan. The following poem can be found on her gravestone:

We loved her, yes we loved her,

But Jesus loved her more,

And he has sweetly called her,

To yonder shining shore.


The golden gates were opened,

A gentle voice said come,

And she with a farewell unspoken,

Calmly entered home.

52 Ancestors Week 12 – Murder at the Mill

John Henry WISE was one of the many people who lived on the Fort Jackson property before it was Fort Jackson. Wise was a saw miller and a logger. On this particular day in February 1877, Wise hired several relatives and neighbors for log piling.52ancestors-2015

The neighbors included brothers John Henry MILES (who went by Henry) and William MILES; and their brother-in-law Jesse GATES who was married to Henry and William’s sister, Fannie.

Henry, William and Fannie were all siblings of my 2nd great-grandmother, Margaret FUTRELL MARTIN.  For whatever reason, Henry and William sometimes used Miles, their mother’s maiden name, instead of Futrell.

After finishing with the logs many of the men who worked that day, if not all, started drinking. And as you can guess, no good came of it.

William Miles started arguing with Jesse Gates after William made a comment about Fannie. After exchanging a few words William struck Jesse with his fist. Jesse stepped back, drew a pocket knife and stabbed William.

John Henry Miles or Futrell

John Henry Miles, witness to the murder of his brother William

Henry saw his brother collapsing and grabbed him, lowering him to the ground. William looked up at Henry and said, “Brother, Gates has drained the life from me,” and died. He was 30 years old. Gates threatened the other men that he would cut them also if they bothered him.

Murder charges were brought against Gates, and a coroner’s jury was named to view the body to determine how William died. The results were that he died from being stabbed by Gates.

Even though Gates was indicted for murder, the charges were dropped. Was it decided he acted in self-defense? Or was it ruled a domestic family affair? We don’t know and never will.

Fannie and Jesse split up at some point. Not surprising. After all, Jesse did murder Fannie’s brother. Even if it was self-defense, how do you get past that?

Fannie married a man named Thomas Davis. Thomas and Fanny (along with her only child with Jesse Gates) left South Carolina for Alabama and eventually moved to Florida. Thomas and Fanny went on to have several children of their own. Fanny died in 1903.

This story was told to me by John Howell, another Fort Jackson family descendant (and probably a distant cousin, too, since we seem to be related to every Fort Jackson family!)  John’s great-grandfather was John Henry Wise, the man who hired all the workers that day.   Portions of the above story are John’s words, not mine.  I appreciate him allowing me to use his words for this blogpost.

52 Ancestors Week 11 – Hallie and Dosia and Ellen

When I was growing up I often heard family speak of Hallie and Dosia and Ellen. I knew they had lived with my grandma, Florrie Thomas Martin, and her family when my grandma was a girl, but I didn’t know much more than that. I asked my cousin, Agnes, who is old enough to have known them all, and she told me the story.

Sisters Theodosia Marie (Dosia) Thomas Martin and Hallie Atan Thomas Felder ca mid 1900s-cropped

Sisters Dosia and Hallie Thomas, mid 1910’s



Hallie Atan Thomas (2 Nov 1898 – 9 Dec 1966) and Theodosia Marie Thomas (3 Aug 1893 – 21 Jan 1954) were the daughters of James Renatus ‘Ren’ Thomas and Laura B. Roberts. Ren was the brother of Jeremiah Daniel ‘Dan’ Thomas, my great grandfather. According to Agnes, Laura ran off with a neighbor, leaving the girls with Ren. Ren, who worked on the railroad, couldn’t take care of the girls.

Ren loaded the girls and their clothes into a horse-drawn wagon and took them to his brother, Dan, and Dan’s wife, Margaret Ann ‘Maggie” Grant Thomas. Dan and Maggie raised them from that point on. Agnes did not know exactly when this happened. According to the census, Dosia and Hallie were living with their mother and father in 1900, but living with Dan and Maggie in 1910. Do the math.

Hallie and Florrie cropped-1

Hallie Thomas and Florrie Thomas, cousins. Approx. 1911



Ren was still in their lives, and when he was older he lived with each daughter for a time. It’s just that they needed a two-parent home when they were young. My grandma had a brother named Herbert and a sister named Aggie. Poor Herbert must have felt overrun with these four girls in the house! It was actually five for a while when you include Ellen. I’ll tell you about her in a moment.

Hallie married Lamar Felder, and they had three children: Lamar, Jr., Mildred, and Ruth. Lamar Sr. died in 1939, and Hallie remarried to a man named Falls. I don’t know his first name.

Lamar and Hallie (Thomas) Felder, circa 1920, SC

Hallie and Lamar Felder, circa 1920



Dosia married Arthur Martin (no relation to the other Martin’s in my family). Dosia started going by Marie at some point; she is listed this way in some census records and on her death certificate. She and Arthur didn’t have any children.

Arthur and Theodosia Thomas Martin per Agnes Jacobs-1

Dosia and Arthur Martin



Now about Ellen. Dosia’s husband had an older brother named Duff Martin. Duff’s wife, Claire, gave birth to Ellen in 1906. Claire was very sick after the birth and she asked their friends Dan and Maggie to take Ellen to raise because Claire felt that she would die which she did not long after Ellen’s birth. Duff was a farmer and wouldn’t be able to take care of Ellen. Dan and Maggie took Ellen and raised her for a time. I’m sure Maggie had plenty of help from her daughters and nieces.

Gladys Martin and Ellen Martin Cooke, circa 1942,SC

Ellen Martin Cooke (L) with Gladys Martin Heiser, my mother. 1940’s


Eventually Ellen went back to live with her father and her older siblings. Duff was about 18 years older than his brother, Arthur (Dosia’s future husband), so all this with Ellen took place long before Dosia and Arthur married.

Ellen married a man named Cooke/Cook. When my grandma would visit in South Carolina, she would always go see Ellen Cooke. I knew she and Grandma were close, but I thought they were just good friends.


52 Ancestors Week 10 – The Short Life of Lizzie Martin Sturkie

Lizzie Martin Sturkie ca 1910

Lizzie Martin Sturkie about 1910

Lizzie MARTIN, born 12 June 1902, was the 10th child of Adolphus Burdine MARTIN and Elizabeth Patience LEE MARTIN. She was one of my maternal grandfather’s sisters. Lizzie was a beautiful girl and woman which you can see for yourself by looking at the photographs of her.

Lizzie Martin Sturkie ca 1915

Lizzie Martin Sturkie about 1915

Lizzie’s father, Adolphus, died in 1917 when Lizzie was almost 15 years old. I know she went to school, but I don’t know if she finished her education. I do know that in 1920, she was living with her husband, J. Grady STURKIE.


Grady was a mill operator; Lizzie was likely a homemaker. Lizzie and Grady lived at 104 1st Street in the Olympia area of Columbia according to the city directory for that year. Looking at googlemaps, I can say that is now an older residential/commercial area with paved streets but no curbs or sidewalks.

On November 13, 1921, Lizzie went into labor with her first child. Five days later on November 18th, still not having delivered the baby, Lizzie underwent a C-section at Baptist Hospital in Columbia. Tragically, she died later that day. It appears the baby didn’t survive either. There are no other details about her sad passing.

Lizzie Martin (18yrs) and fiance Grady Sturkie,SC

Lizzie Martin Sturkie and Grady Sturkie, before they were married


C-sections had been around for a while but were not often done prior to 1900. As surgeons’ confidence grew and techniques improved, though, the procedure was done more regularly after 1900. Still, in the early 1920’s, C-sections were often delayed so long that the mother was close to a state of collapse which contributed to maternal death afterwards. Perhaps that’s what happened to Lizzie.

Lizzie was buried at the Enon Church cemetery on Ft. Jackson on November 20, 1921 where her parents and other family members were also buried. Grady went on to marry again within a short time, and he had three children with this second wife.

52 Ancestors Week 9 – Finding John and Mary Davis

In short order, our little entourage (myself, Joyce, Katie, Tommy, Agnes and Agnes’ son Bobby) were piling into the van. Our mission: To find the missing Thomas cemetery.BrownsChapelChurch0001

Conversation buzzed as we made our way to Brown’s Chapel Methodist Church cemetery on Old Leesburg Rd. Agnes and Bobby both reminisced about how it used to be out this way. No shopping centers for one thing.

“Momma, is this where we want to turn?” Bobby asked Agnes.

“Yes, I believe so.” Soon after the turn, the pavement gave way to a dusty dirt road. The trees draping over the road, our slow speed and the rocking back and forth over the uneven pathway transported me back in time. It was 1900, and we were in a wagon, chattering and visiting as we made our way to a joyful family event.

We arrived at Brown’s Chapel church cemetery and split up, looking at stones and checking out the woods behind in hopes of finding the Thomas cemetery. Agnes knew the cemetery was near Brown’s Chapel, but we found nothing.

Back in the van, we slowly made our way up and down Old Leesburg Rd, hoping Agnes might see something familiar, but she didn’t. A woman was coming out the door of a house. She looked curiously at us, probably wondering who this van full of people was that had been driving up and down the road. “We should talk to her,” Joyce said. Joyce later told me that something told her this was someone we needed to talk to.

Tommy got out and approached her. After a few minutes, the woman came and spoke to Agnes who told her about looking for a lost cemetery and about a woman named Jannie Jones who used to live nearby. The woman had heard enough.

“We have a little cemetery back on the property,” the woman said. “It’s got some civil war soldiers in it. Did any of them fight in the war?” the woman asked. Everyone looked at me. I answered yes.

The woman’s daughter, Mary, had joined in the conversation by now and soon Katie, Tommy and Joyce were walking through the yard and into the woods with Mary and her mother. Bobby, Agnes and I sat in the car, admiring the redbirds in the nearby feeder.

James S Thomas headstone-1

James S Thomas headstone

My phone dinged with a text message: We found James S. THOMAS and his wife.


“Agnes, this is the right place!” I announced. Mary came back to carry Agnes, Bobby, and I to the cemetery since the 90+ year old Agnes could never make the walk. We pulled into a clearing and there on the right was Tommy, Joyce, and Katie and the cemetery. “This is the place,” Agnes said. “I remember it.”

John Davis headstone-1

John Davis headstone

Two stones off to the side caught my eye. My brain stopped, as I was trying to take in what I was seeing – stones for John DAVIS and his wife Mary A. C. DAVIS. “Oh my gosh,” was all I could say.

Mary A C Davis headstone-2

Mary A C Davis headstone

“What?” someone asked me from behind.

“John and Mary DAVIS are James’ in-laws. They’re Elizabeth’s parents.” I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.

Cropped birth and death Dates of Davis' FJ Thomas Martin hand

John and Mary Davis info in the hand of Florrie Thomas Martin, my grandmother

“Are you sure?” I nodded in response as I continued to smile and stare at the stones that verified John and Mary were more than just names and dates my grandma had written down. I could feel their presence in the cemetery, like they were celebrating that we’d found them after all these years.

I came out of my stupor and looked around. The little cemetery was abuzz with busyness. Joyce and Katie were cleaning stones and taking pictures. Agnes and Bobby were talking to Mary’s mother, and Tommy was taking photos. I smiled broadly at Tommy, who smiled back. We both had worked on the family history off and on for decades and knew what a fantastic discovery this was.

We thanked Mary and her family for taking us back to the cemetery. Katie suggested calling this unnamed cemetery the Davis-Thomas Cemetery, which we did.

Raindrops started to fall as we drove away. We chattered about the find and how all the pieces fell into place for it to happen. Maybe it was all of us being together for the first time – all of us being descendants of Jeremiah Daniel THOMAS’ three children, Jeremiah being a son of James S. THOMAS and his wife Elizabeth Jane (Jane) DAVIS THOMAS. We all felt as if we were led to the right house at the right time.


John DAVIS (1 Oct 1773 – 17 Aug 1872) was my 3rd great-grandfather.  He was born in South Carolina according to several census records. I am not convinced he was always in Richland County, though, since I can’t conclusively find him there in the census records until 1840. John was a planter, and in his will he left about 150 acres to his wife, Mary A. C. DAVIS (1 June 1782 – 17 Dec 1882). Mary was always listed as ‘keeping house’ in the census records. John and Mary had several children: John A, Martha, Elizabeth Jane and Emeline; and many descendants from these children.

I know John and Mary were church going people because in the James S THOMAS family bible, it’s noted that some of James and Elizabeth’s children were baptized at the Davis’ church. I suspect the Davis’ church was Brown’s Chapel since some of the Davis’ children and grandchildren are buried there, and their property wasn’t far from Brown’s Chapel.

John and Mary must have been hard workers with all that land to plant.  And they lived a long time. There is no notation about either being blind or deaf as they aged, but I don’t know what either died of or if either was bedridden at the end of their life. That and other details about them will have to be left to the imagination.

52 Ancestors Week 8 – John Vincent Davis: MURDERED

John Vincent Davis (22 Sept 1850 – 28 May 1922), son of Thomas and Nancy Davis, was a farmer at the start of his adult life. In time, he began preaching locally for several Methodist churches, starting with his home church of Brown’s Chapel Methodist near Hopkins, South Carolina.


The church was torn down in the mid-1900’s.


John continued to farm and preach for about ten years before he was called to minister full time. For 15 years he served in various churches in South Carolina including churches in Darlington and Great Falls.

John Vincent Davis photo from newspapaer article

John Vincent Davis photo from newspaper




He married Rebecca Ellen Roberts (1855-1900) in 1876. John and Ellen had 12 children together, nine of who lived to maturity. After Ellen’s death in 1900, John married Sallie Ellen Lovin, and they had one daughter together.

John retired from preaching to become the superintendent of the Richland County Almshouse. Although John was a kind and godly man, one of the residents (or inmates as the newspaper called them) didn’t care for John…and murdered him.

According to the article from The State newspaper, Mr. Davis had asked Mr. John Watts Crocker to refrain from using bad language on the grounds of the almshouse about ten day before the murder. Crocker became angry and abused Mr. Davis.

Then on the day before the murder, Mr. Davis asked Mr. Crocker about letting his wife assist in the kitchen. Mr. Crocker again became angry and refused. Mr. Davis said he would have to report Mr. Crocker to the supervisor. According to a witness of this encounter Crocker shouted, “Look here, John Davis, you have been trying for the longest time to get me away from here, and I want to tell you that you are going to leave here before I do. You will be gone before sundown tomorrow.”

Was John Davis alarmed or scared by Mr. Crocker’s proclamation? I don’t know, but with him being the godly man he was reported to be I expect he took it to God and left it there.

The next morning when Mr. Davis and one of the cooks were handing out tobacco, Mr. Crocker shot Mr. Davis in the chest and killed him. Crocker was arrested. He claimed he didn’t do it.  His claim fell on deaf ears, though, since he was found with the recently fired gun in his hand, and shell casings were found in the room. Also the cook witnessed the shooting. Crocker’s wife said he did it because “he could not stand to be picked at.”

John Davis’ funeral was held at Shandon Methodist Church in Columbia, SC. According to the article, the funeral was one of the largest ever held in Columbia and the church was unable to accommodate the huge crowd attending. He was buried beside his first wife at his home church, Brown’s Chapel. The funeral procession from the church to Brown’s Chapel was about 400 cars.

John Vincent Davis headstone

John Vincent Davis headstone


I’ve been to the Brown’s Chapel churchyard. The church is no longer there, but the cemetery is mostly intact. It’s on a barely two-lane gravel road out in the country. I don’t know where those 400 cars parked, and I am sure people walked a long way to the churchyard.

Browns Chapel Cemetery-2

Brown’s Chapel Cemetery


The newspaper article about John Vincent Davis’ death was in my grandma’s belongings. I kept it for years, figuring he was a Davis and we have Davis ancestors so he would show up in the family history eventually. And he finally did a few years ago. I expect my grandma knew him and had heard him preach, and he was her cousin, too.

52 Ancestors Week 7 – Goldie, the grandmother I never knew

My dad’s mother, Goldie Isabel Price Heiser, was born in August 1893 to Montgomery Price (1859-1947) and Sarah Rebecca Pyles Price (1862-1940). She had three brothers, and a sister who passed away young.

Goldie Isabel Price Heiser, most likely, photo in locket belonging to Myrtle Hillard Burroughs

I believe this is a photo of Goldie


Goldie was born in Montgomery County, Maryland.  She married my grandfather, Daniel Wilbert Heiser, 16 July 1912 in Frederick, Maryland even though they were both residents of Montgomery County. I don’t know why they didn’t marry in Montgomery County, but it might be because Goldie’s parents had moved to Frederick recently.

Goldie and Dan lived in Dickerson, Maryland (Montgomery County) at the start of their marriage and moved to Washington, DC in 1915. They had three in a short order:  Charles Leroy in 1913, Dorothy V (Dot) in 1915, and Mary Helen in 1917.

Goldie died on New Year’s Day 1919 from the Spanish Flu. She was in the hospital for six days before she passed. Her burial didn’t happen for a week.There were so many victims of the flu that caskets couldn’t be made quick enough for earlier burials, and the ground so frozen they couldn’t dig the graves any faster. She was buried in an unmarked grave in Congressional Cemetery in Washington, DC.

My father’s only memory of his mother was seeing her dead, laid out on a couch at someone’s house. He remembered someone saying, “There’s your mother,” as they pointed to her. And he remembered that she had dark hair. He was only five when she died.

My dad had traveled to see his deceased mother with his maternal grandparents and he left with them, too. He told me he believed he had been staying with them before his mother passed, but he wasn’t sure about that.  The Spanish Flu was heavy in Washington, DC, so perhaps he had been sent to stay with his grandparents in Frederick to get him away from the flu. He never asked so we’ll never know.

Sarah Rebecca Pyles Price cropped

Sarah Rebecca Pyles Price, mother of Goldie


When going through the belongings of Goldie’s first cousin Myrtle Virginia Hillard Burroughs (1903-1977), I found a locket with a photo of a young woman with dark hair.  The face reminded me of Goldie’s mother and Goldie’s daughter, Dot.  Myrtle and Goldie were close even with the age gap, so I concluded the photo is of Goldie.

Dorothy Heiser Brown 1957 cropped

Dorothy Heiser Brown, daughter of Goldie


I never knew this grandmother, but I knew my dad’s sister, Dot, and I heard stories about Goldie’s mother. Both were tough, determined, spirited, and loving. I have to believe Goldie probably was, too.