100 Years Later

Mildred Louise Bondurant
1921 – 2005
Relationship to Fawn: Grandmother

By Richard Gwynallen

As I am writing this, numbers are surging again in the COVID pandemic that has taken more than 800,000 American lives and almost 5.5 million worldwide.  Back in 1921, when my mother was born, pneumonia was exacting its toll across the country.  It shaped the lives of my mother and her siblings. As I wrote in a previous article, The Bondurants – Keeping a Family Together, my mother’s father died of pneumonia before she was born and her mother died of pneumonia when my mother was two years old.

My mother would have been 100 years old this year.  The trajectory of her life took her from farm life in North Carolina to working as a single Mom in small town diners in North Carolina and Virginia to being an Army wife in places such as Japan and California to the final decades of her life in Baltimore.  This article is not about the details of my mother’s childhood or young adulthood. Nor is it about her life with my father, which I discussed in Worth and Louise – Falling in Love in the 1950s. Rather, I want to record examples of what I came to see as some of the lessons of her life and some of the very personal things that made her who she was. It would be impossible to convey all the possible little stories, but here I will offer a few. Many of the incidents I’ll record here are things that one would know only if you knew her well, and even then maybe not everyone. It strikes me that some of what gives special color to a person’s life is so intimate that that part of their story doesn’t pass on to future generations.  Maybe it doesn’t have to.  I’m sure my mother would wonder who would care about these little things. When I would try to get her to record some occurrences in her life, she’d laugh and say, “Okay, but I just don’t know why anyone would care about these stories. My family was as common as dirt.” However, as I would tell her, everyone descended from her would want to know – such “little things” give color to a life (I certainly wish I knew more of them about my grandparents) and often contain some of the main lessons of their lives.  

Continue reading

Robert Bondurant at Montmartin-en-Graignes – June 1944

Robert Cecil Bondurant
1918 – 2009
Relationship to Fawn: grand uncle

By Richard Gwynallen

Award ceremony

Recently, a gentleman from The Netherlands named Egbert van de Schootbrugge contacted me with information about my Uncle Robert. Mr. Van de Schootbrugge is an amateur military historian.  In recent years he has written two books on the history of World War II. One book was about the Dutch resistance, another on the liberation of Western Europe. Both books were published in Dutch. In the last quarter of 2019 he started researching the history of the 30th Infantry Division with the intention to write a book about it, which s how he came to have this information.

What follows is drawn from that exchange with Mr. Van de Schootbrugge, and I am deeply grateful for the additional insight into my uncle’s World War II activities. Continue reading

Crombie Castle in Banffshire

By Richard Gwynallen

Brae of Crombie


Below the Brae of Crombie, nestled among fields, hills, and patches of woodland, Crombie Castle (to the right of the leaning fencepost in the foreground) awaits the advancing haar or sea-fret blanketing the distant hills, the sea-fog brought to shore from 10 miles away by sea breezes and easterly winds to creep inland.

Old maps show this approach as a track.  From here the modest summits of Black Law, Cranna Hill, Gallow Hill, and the Crannabog Hills loom northeast of Crombie Castle.

In this part of Marnoch parish the ground rolls and rises, most of the summits capped Moss of Crombie mapwith woodlands.

The soil is commonly humid and mossy, the extensive peat moss known as the Moss of Crombie west of Crombie Castle being the most humid.

To the south the ground levels as it nears the River Deveron and is rich and fertile. To the north, the ground becomes more peaty.



Crombie - Moss of Crombie - 1

Moss of Crombie

Continue reading

A German Family Line – Who Knew? Thinking about ethnic identity

Catherine Houpe
1800 – 1888
Relationship to Fawn: 4th great-grandmother

By Richard Gwynallen

Most of us whose families have been Americans for several generations have had families of different ethnic or national origin marrying together.  Even more so the longer one’s family has been here.  Yet, we may not be aware of some of these national origins.

Continue reading

A Civil War Story – A more human aftermath

By Richard Gwynallen

1834 (?) – 1921
Relationship to Fawn: 3rd cousin, 6x removed

This year Fawn and I went to Gettysburg for Father’s Day.  We had family in both armies,  which was a legacy of Irish Presbyterian families from Ulster settling in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, then in the next generation having most of the family migrate down the Great Wagon Road through Virginia and into North Carolina.  Some stayed in Pennsylvania, while the bulk of the family moved south.  We spent the day locating where their regiments fought.

We saw a marker at the site of Pickett’s Charge that told the story of a Southern officer who was wounded that day.  He was shot through the cheek.  Years later when he attended a reunion at the site he met the former-Union soldier who shot him.  They shook hands and exchanged words that indicated they could hold no animosity as they were now part of the same country again.

That reminded me of this clipping I had come across online about one of our Mooneyham relatives who had fought in the Civil War. It was posted by Judy Lynn in 2012 on the Find A Grave memorial page for Daniel Mooneyham. I am grateful to her for making it public.  I do not at this time know what paper it came from or who wrote it.  The writer states that Daniel Mooneyham was still alive at the time of the article and was 93 years of age. If his year of birth of 1834 is correct that would place the article in 1927.  That, however, is after the year I have for his death, which is 1921.  The article also says he was middle-aged when he entered the war.  That would indicate that the 1834 date is wrong.  Perhaps more research will set this matter to rights, but I would guess that the article was around 1915 – 1920.

Continue reading

The Tyree Family

By Richard Gwynallen

Sarah Ann Tyree
1795 – 1853
Relationship to Fawn: 5th great-grandmother

William Bowcock
1782 – ?
Relationship to Fawn: 5th great-grandfather

In An 18th Century Tavernkeeper we introduced the Bowcock family.  That essay focused on Henry Bowcock and Mary Tyler.   As the same essay mentioned, the Bowcock line (now spelled Bocock) eventually intermarried with the Richardsons.

Henry and Mary’s grandson William married Sarah Ann Tyree in 1825.  Having discussed a bit about the Bowcock line, this essay is about the Tyree family.  The name has many spelling variations: Tyree, Tyrie, Tyre, and others.

Continue reading

The Purviance-Wasson Family in the Revolutionary War

[NOTE: This article was edited on 3 August 2019 to incorporate information provided by Theresa Purviance.  Most of the corrections and additional information appear in the section, A Little Background on the Purviance Family.  The author is grateful for Ms. Purviance’s generous providing of information to correct and expand this article.]

By Richard Gwynallen

Sarah Jane Wasson
1746 – 1800
Relationship to Fawn: 7th great aunt

James Purviance
1733 – 1806
Relationship to Fawn: 7th great uncle by marriage

In the essay, Archibald Wasson – Cordwainer and Farmer, I introduced the Wasson family, who married into our Mordah/Murdah (now Murdock) line.  One of the daughters of Archibald Wasson and Elizabeth Woods, Sarah Jane Wasson, married James Purviance. The Purviance and Wasson families would intermarry on several occasions over two generations.

Both of Sarah’s parents were born in Ireland, but Sarah was born after Archibald and Elizabeth had emigrated to the American colonies, then moved the family from Pennsylvania to North Carolina.

This essay is less about Sarah and James’ life together, and more on the role James and other Purviance relatives played in the Revolutionary War.  I ran across some material collected by other researchers and thought it made a nice addition to the stories of our ancestors.  The Wasson line is the direct line of our immediate family.  We are descended from one of Sarah’s sisters, Agness “Nancy” Wasson, so we are not descended by blood from any Purviance lines that I know of yet.  However, the story reflects on the experience of that branch of the Wassons during the Revolutionary War, and with the intermarriage of Wassons and Purviances there is a joint experience with our direct family line.  In particular, the reader will note:

  • A reference to Sarah Jane Wasson in the records of one of her sons that offers a rare intimate insight into a moment of one of our ancestors lives.
  • A look at what Sarah was confronted with as her home became a military hospital and her husband went to war.
  • That the Purviance family interacted closely with other families that are part of our direct family line, such as Wassons and Mordahs.
  • The movement of that branch of the Wasson family west and north from North Carolina.

Continue reading

Bondurant Places in the Languedoc Region of France

By Richard Gwynallen

In The Bondurant Migration to America, I introduced the Bondurant immigrant ancestor from France, Jean Pierre Bondurant.  Exterior pictures of his house in the village of Génolhac appeared in The Bondurant Migration to America and The Bondurant Ancestral House in Génolhac..  Thanks to the Bondurant Family Association, below are images of earlier Bondurant properties in France.

First is a photo of a pre-World War II postcard showing in the foreground the Bondurant home near the existing Cougassac mill site, below the viaduct, or Chamborigaud bridge.

bondurant-home-1 Continue reading

High School Days in 1940s Raleigh

By Richard Gwynallen

Worth Bagley Allen, Jr.
1928 – 1968
Relationship to Fawn:  Grandfather

There are many places in the landscape of a family, markers along the road, crucibles of memories, places where just being there helps you think about the life of your family.

Recently my brother, Jerry, pulled out of his collection of family things our father’s high school year book from Hugh Morson High School in Raleigh, North Carolina for our Dad’s graduating year of 1945.

hugh-morson-103 Continue reading

More on our Scottish Allan Family

By Richard Gwynallen

Our direct immigrant Allan ancestor was James Allan, who arrived in the American Colonies with his wife, Anne, somewhere between 1762 and 1770. We do not know their port of entry, but they appear on the Yadkin River in North Carolina in 1770.  I found little information about his parents at the time, but I have written a few essays on a couple of his aunts who remained in Scotland.

I have found a smattering of information about others related to James, a collection that includes both ancestors of James as well as folks descended from his family who did not emigrate. I decided to write this essay, focusing on where and how his ancestors lived.

I expect that this essay will be a work in progress.  As more information is found that adds to our understanding of our family, but that I don’t think fits an essay unto itself, I will add it to this essay.  Much of the information on our family lines is reasonably documented, but not all.  Where I have made family connections that are not well documented I have drawn them from what seems like reasonable agreement among others researching the same lines.  As documentation surfaces I will amend that qualifying language.  And if errors are pointed out to me or as I discover errors I will amend the essay appropriately. Continue reading