Sunday, August 31, 2014

Getting Away from it All

You may recall that last week I introduced you to my great-aunt Signa Jackson in Mothers and Their Daughters. She is making a comeback this week. Signa grew up in and near Boston until she was about 18 when she moved to Chicago, another major metropolis.

A few years ago, my mother gave me several photos from her mother's (Signa's younger sister and my grandmother Dorothy) collection. I had barely begun looking into this part of the family and knew very little at the time. In that collection were a couple of photos that I found especially intriguing. The first was a photo of Signa standing all alone in the middle of, well, nothing:

Inscription: Signa Calif -
Signa was a city girl, through and through.  What was she doing standing alone 3,000 miles away from home and apparently away from all civilization as she knew it. Well, obviously she was not completely alone–someone must have snapped the photo.

The mystery became a little clearer when I saw this photo and its inscription:

It looked like the photo had been removed from a scrap book as it had bits of black paper stuck to the back, but most of the inscription was still legible:

Eureka! The handwriting on the back of this photo is clearly that of my grandmother's which helped me identify who the ladies were based on their relationships to my grandmother. I recognized "Aunt Jack" as Ethel Jackson, sister to Signa's father, Harry Jackson. You can read Ethel's story, or at least as much as I knew at the time, on my post The Real Aunt Jack. I had never seen the two ladies on the left and really had to do a little digging to identify exactly who they were. Since I knew what Signa's maternal grandmother looked like, and "Grandma" was not her, I came to the conclusion by the process of elimination that she was Signa's paternal grandmother Ida Estella (Whittemore) Jackson. And "Aunt Nettie" is none other than Ida's sister-in-law Annette Jackson who went by the name of Nettie since she was a child.

I also realized that the date on the back of the photo, June 23, 1922, was Signa's twelfth birthday. It seems that Signa's paternal relatives took her on a trip to California as a birthday gift!

But why California? There are so many other interesting destinations much closer to Boston. Traveling 3,000 miles seems a bit extravagant and overindulgent. It wasn't until six months ago that I found Nettie had married George Amerige in 1894[1] and moved to Fullerton, California by 1900.[2] Coronado Beach is a beautiful drive down the coast from Fullerton.

Now I understand why Signa was getting away from it all.

If you're hankering for more vicarious trips escaping the crowds, visit the Sepia Saturday blog. Speaking of getting away from it all–I will be away for the next couple of weeks so don't look for new posts from me for a while. Maybe you should try joining the Sepia Saturday fun. One thing these writing exercises have done for me is make me realize how much more research I could be doing on these relatives. My to-do list has grown immensely.

P.S. Did anyone notice the Eureka! above? Did you know that  California's state motto is Eureka...I have found it!?

Thanks for dropping by.

[1] "Marriages registered in the City of Malden for the year 1894", line no. 185, p 245, Amerige-Jackson, 1894; digital images, ( : accessed 19 Feb 2014); citing Massachusetts Vital Records, 1840-1911. New England Historic Genealogical Society, Boston, Massachusetts
[2] 1900 U.S. census, Orange County, California, population schedule, Fullerton Township, enumeration district (ED) 141, sheet 25A, p. 49A (stamped), dwelling 582, family 582, Edward R. Amerige household; digital images, ( : accessed 31 Aug 2014); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm T623, roll 95; FHL microfilm: 1240095.


  1. Nice work Sherri. I enjoyed the way you wrote this story.

  2. A great bit of research and a very apt post for the theme.

  3. I agree, great work! It's always frustrating when you have old photographs that you can't identify, but you have done very well with this one.

  4. I love the whole "getting away from it all" theme, even down to your own mad escape. Does that mean you'll be bringing back more stories? I wish more of my relatives had written on the backs of photos.

  5. Sherri, I remember Vincent Heinz owning a bar County Line Inn on Rt 2 in Arlington Heights/Palatine in the 60's and Vince's on 83 or 45 hwy in Salem Wi. In the 70's George was my Grandpa and I was named after his father Martin Heinz.