Grandma & The Great Depression

I became interested in family history when I was in high school. I am so grateful that I started at such a young age, because so many of my family’s stories could have been lost if I hadn’t asked my family members to share them. I spent quite a bit of time with my grandmother, Mary Holsclaw Andrews, as she shared her stories. The very first thing I asked her to do was to write down her childhood memories. Born in 1919, she came of age during the Great Depression. She lived on the Near Northside of Indianapolis. She lived with her mother and grandparents and attended Indianapolis Public Schools. Her grandfather owned a hardware store in the front of their house and she often told me about this. Below is part of her story:  

“I grew up during the Depression. Even the ‘wealthy’ people had no extra money. But, not any of us knew, or felt, that we were “underprivileged!” None of my group had after-school jobs – all ‘jobs’ were held by men supporting their families. The Nancy Drew books came along during this elementary school time. The most fortunate of us became the owners of one book. This book was shared. Since this book was shared, everybody got to read all the series. My only ‘sitting’ job was three doors up the street. I arrived there about 6:00 PM, did their evening dishes, put three little kids to bed after the usual book reading, etc. The parents appeared back home at around 1:00 AM and, after calling my mother, she would watch for me to walk back home. For this I got 25 cents. No, not 25 cents an hour – 25 cents for the whole night! Even then, this was a bit ridiculous, so I (and my mother!) quit after about three times. After school we roller-skated, played cards, and with dolls, or drew.”

My grandma shared so much with me in our time together, and when she passed away in 2008, less than a month before my first child was born, I was so grateful that I knew her so much better because of my interest in her life story. I appreciated her, I understood her better. And I know she was grateful to have spent that time with me, too.

Have you asked your older family members to write down their childhood memories? Kids who are interested in learning their family history, their grandparents’ and older family members’ life stories, will benefit from the guidance in our free workbook. There are suggestions of questions to ask family, and help for kids to simply listen to their family’s stories. This workbook has been born out of my years of experience of listening and recording family stories, and my understanding of the importance of starting family history when still young. Writing Family History for Kids: A Workbook & Guide is a resource for kids and their parents to get started discovering their family history. Subscribe to our newsletter to receive your free copy.

Happy storytelling!


My Revolutionary War Ancestors

We're back with more stories! This story was written by 13 year old Gabriel Goff of Lebanon, Indiana. He chose to write about ancestors of his who served in the Revolutionary War. Surprisingly, through this piece, I learned I am related to the Goff family! We have a common ancestor in William Parks, whom he writes about here. You find out amazing things when you share your family history. Thanks for submitting, Gabriel! 

                                                                My Ancestors

Statue of Revolutionary War Major General Nathanael Greene, located in the middle of Stanton Park, NE, Washington, D.C. Courtesy of: Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Online Catalog 

Statue of Revolutionary War Major General Nathanael Greene, located in the middle of Stanton Park, NE, Washington, D.C. Courtesy of: Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Online Catalog 

Several people have family members who are war veterans. I have gathered information about mine and have four of them listed from the Revolutionary War. They all fought in the war and they have their stories about their experience from the war.

James Goff was born on February 4, 1735, in England. His parents were named Hannah and Thiel. James had seventeen children Mary Anderson and Catherine Daugherty. He died on January 5, 1834, in Virginia at the age of 98, and was buried in Preston, West Virginia. He was my 6th great grandfather of on my dads side of the family. James served in the military in Virginia, his rank was patriotic service and he furnished supplies on the Continental Line.

John “Revolutionary John” Morrison was born on November 11, 1743, in Chester, Pennsylvania, He was the son of Margaret and Thomas, who immigrated from Aberdeen, Scotland. He married Sarah Potts in December 1771 in Iredell, North Carolina. They had eight children in 70 years. He died on July 9, 1835, in Iredell, Morrison Tartans North Carolina, At the age of 91, and was buried in Statesville, North Carolina. He was an American Revolution Private in North Carolina under Captain David Caldwell for two expeditions. On the third expedition, under Captain David Caldwell and Major Joseph Dixon, to go to Chiswell’s Lead Mines and haul a wagon load of lead from the mine to the residence of Captain Caldwell under great risk of life and property. He is quoted as saying, “I would much have preferred to have been in the lines with my gun and knapsack or mounted in a company of horse.” Another expedition John entered the service of the militia in the company of mounted men or mounted infantry commanded by Hugh Hall in pursuit of Cornwallis. Later, they were joined Colonel Lee, his light horse, and his men they were involved in a skirmish with about 200 Tories. Colonel Tarelton and his men were camped about a mile away. John is my 6th great grandfather on my mom’s side.

William Parks was born in Scotland. He had six sons and three daughters with Agnes Collier. He died in July 1833 in Garrard, Kentucky, Having lived a long life of 78 years, and was buried there. He was a revolutionary war soldier in the militia under Captain Montgomery and General Christy in Montgomery County, Virginia He died during the Cholera outbreak. They marched against the Cherokee Indians and then erected a garrison. William is my 5th great grandfather on my mom’s side.

George Wade Jr. was born on September 15, 1760, in Fayette, Pennsylvania. He married Nancy Howard in 1785. They had one child during their marriage. He died on October 30, 1842, in Monongalia, West Virginia, having lived a long life of 82 years. He served in the Revolutionary War as a private in Pennsylvania. He is my 6th great-grandfather on my dad’s side. He was drafted and marched under Captain John Cross and aided in building Fort McIntosh and Fort Laurens. His second campaign under Lieut. Philip Pierce and was said to have been an Indian spy. The four of my ancestors I have listed all fought in the Revolutionary War. Many people have family members who are war veterans. The war veterans who have served our country gave us our freedom and the ultimate sacrifice.

My name is Gabriel Goff and I’m 13 years old.  I go to Lebanon Middle School.  I swim competitively for the Lebanon Middle School and Lebanon Swim Club.  I also play in the band and jazz band.  

If you'd like to share your child's story of their ancestors, see our Submissions page!  

Family Folklore of Colonel William Goffe

Family folklore is often the most exciting and intriguing in our family history. Did the story arise somewhere along the line, or did it actually happen? No matter which way, it captures the imagination. Grayson Goff, age 11, chose to write about such a story. His father's uncle, who first told her the story, did a great deal of genealogy work before his passing, and he passed the story down to his sons. The story Grayson wrote, in newspaper article form, is from the Goff families of Appalachia – they claim to be of the Colonel William Goffe’s line who sentenced King Charles I to death – and they came to the mountains to hide from the King’s soldiers. This is the story of Colonel Goffe as told by his possible descendant, Grayson Goff.


Sussex, England 1680


Drawing by Grayson Goff 

Drawing by Grayson Goff 

Colonel William Goffe was one of 13 judges, or Regicide, in Sussex, England that signed the death warrant of King Charles I. The King was sentenced to death on 27 January 1649. Three days later, Charles was beheaded on a scaffold outside the Banqueting House in Whitehall, London.

Colonel Goffe was also a member of the High Court of Justice, Parliamentary Army, and appointed one of the major generals under Cromwell. He married Frances Goffe and had one son and three daughters. Col. Goffe had six brothers.

Colonel Goffe and his father-in-law, Gen. Edward Whalley, fled to New England to escape the wrath of King Charles II. Col. Goffe and his father-in-law arrived in Boston on 27 July 1660. From 1660-1664 they wandered about hiding in old mills, cliffs, rocks, and caves in the New Haven, Connecticut area.

In 1664, a minister in Hadley, Massachusetts granted Col. Goffe refuge in his parish until his death in 1679.

Col. William Goffe, the “Angel of Hadley” led the villagers of Hadley that had been worshipping in the chapel to victory against raiding Indians in 1675. The villagers believed that this “strange, old man with long, white beard in ancient garb” was an angel sent by God. He had disappeared from the scene as mysteriously as he appeared.

Very few details of Colonel William Goffe’s life in New England are clear, probably because of his desire not to be captured and executed. One tradition has him living in Hartford, Connecticut under the name T Duffell. Another traditional account has him living and dying in Stow, Massachusetts where his sister lived.

Clearly, Col. William Goffe’s life was a mystery, but it sounds like he wanted to keep it that way. Did his descendants decide to hide out in the mountains like their ancestor to avoid punishment as well? Were they really his descendants? It makes one wonder. An exciting story, Grayson – thanks for sharing!

Do you have an old folk story in your family? Share with us!  

Grayson is a 11 year old home schooled boy.  He likes to play basketball and soccer. Rocket League and Minecraft are his favorite video games.  Grayson swims for Lebanon Swim Club.

Giwi's Long-Standing Traditions

This is where we share our stories. Stories written by us, our elders, and our children. Stories about our lives, our childhoods, our families' stories and our ancestors' stories. Our stories. 

The following family story was submitted by Grant Goff, 16, of Lebanon, Indiana.

My grandmother, Mary Lou Woods, who we call “Giwi", is drastically into family tradition. She has started many long-standing traditions like the 4th of July parade in her neighborhood. She also has a tradition of going Christmas caroling around her neighborhood, going to the Christmas tree farm, and going to the Anderson Apple Orchard.

She started the parade in the 1970s and it is now an organized parade that gathers every year. The group consists of my family and my grandmother’s neighbors. They gather every year with cars, trucks, bikes, and some bring their dogs. She even organizes a musical band of varying ages.

She has also started a Christmas caroling tradition when my mother was one year old and friends of my mom that attended when they were children now bring their own children to the party. We meet at my grandmother’s house, consisting of family and friends. Then we go caroling around the neighborhood. After we are finished caroling we eat snacks and visit. Sometimes the neighbors will share cookies with us after we are finished singing.

Another tradition my grandmother started is a family get together at the Anderson Apple Orchard. We go every fall and pick apples. It’s always fun to find a stick and jab a fallen apple and then sling it into the woods. 

At the Christmas tree farm we find a tree to cut down then bond as a family. After we get our tree we talk to each other and then sometimes we go to my grandmother's house to help her put up her tree.

We always go back to her house for major holidays like Christmas, Thanksgiving, and Easter. My cousins, aunts, and uncles come and there is always a bunch of food, fun and laughter. Most of these traditions meet at my grandmother’s house and its always a thrill going back to.

Grant is 16 and he goes to Lebanon Senior High School.  He likes to spend time with friends and listen to music.  He also likes to play video games and sail at Eagle Creek Sailing Club.  Grant swims for the Lebanon High School Team and the Lebanon Swim Club.

Education through Generations

This is where we share our stories. Stories written by us, our elders, and our children. Stories about our lives, our childhoods, our families' stories and our ancestors' stories. Our stories. 

The following family story was submitted by Allie Wright, 16, of Indianapolis, Indiana.

“And then you divide by two on both sides,” I explained to my mom, even though she’s known this information since she was my age. It was our second time this week playing school and she was quickly getting bored from me explaining each and every lesson that I had learned at school that week. But I couldn't help it, it was in my blood.

The Commercial Review, Portland, Indiana. March 7, 1957. “Jay County has a hidden School” by M. R. Wallace Pictured: Jerry Wheeler, 7, taught by Mildred Fueling who traveled from Anderson, IN where she taught at the Jackson Township School.

The Commercial Review, Portland, Indiana. March 7, 1957. “Jay County has a hidden School” by M. R. Wallace
Pictured: Jerry Wheeler, 7, taught by Mildred Fueling who traveled from Anderson, IN where she taught at the Jackson Township School.

Mildred Irene Nearon-Feuling-Tyson, known to me as Grandma Boat, was born on November 27, 1915. She was my great-grandmother. Mildred grew up in a world where she had three options because she was a woman: become a housewife, a nurse, or a teacher. Her mother, Margaret Alice Nearon, died in 1939, when Mildred was 24. At this point, Mildred had received a teaching degree from Ball State. Margaret left Mildred with many younger siblings, who she, along with her sisters who were of similar in age, raised. Thus, she got lots of practice being a teacher.

Every time I was at her home in Portland, Indiana, I was immediately drawn to her side. She just had a way with kids, especially me and my cousins. We loved listening to her, so we know she must have been a wonderful teacher.

Mildred. Photo Credit: Alice Feuling Dickinson. 

Mildred. Photo Credit: Alice Feuling Dickinson. 

At a young age, she worked at a one room school house called Sycamore, which was later named North Grove. North Grove is still standing and holds different events from time to time. She taught at lots of different schools in Indiana and in Florida. She also was a personal tutor for small children with polio. She made a huge difference in dozens of kids’ lives.

Alice Feuling. Photo Credit: Alice Feuling Dickinson. 

Alice Feuling. Photo Credit: Alice Feuling Dickinson. 


Mildred gave birth to my grandma, Alice Anita Feuling, during her first marriage in Jay County, Indiana, on October 27, 1943. My grandma, Alice, began going to school with her mom when she was 5 years old, and instantly fell in love with education. My grandma would grow up to get a teaching degree form the University of Indianapolis, following in her mom’s, my Grandma Boat’s, footsteps. She loved teaching and she would do it for the rest of her life. She taught elementary-aged kids, special education, and eventually became a professor at Johnson University, where she taught Education, and retired from there after 13 years. She and my grandpa, Don Dickinson, would have two kids.


Donita Lynn Dickinson-Barbee was born in January 1968, and Melissa Lou Dickinson-Wright, my mom, was born in January 1970. When they were growing up, they played pretend a lot. Without fail, though my mom’s play occupation would switch around, my Aunt Donita would always play a teacher. She grew up to receive a teaching degree at Johnson University and work in elementary schools, just like her mom. Even my mom, Melissa, worked as a teacher’s aid in Kentucky.

Growing up I dreamed of being a teacher, too. After three generations of education workers, it just seemed natural. Though it may not be the profession I will go in to, I still have a heart for it. I volunteer as a tutor and love to help friends and kids I babysit with schoolwork and projects. I am also ridiculously in love with school, thanks to the strong, beautiful, and brilliant women in my life who have helped me become who I am.

About the Author: My name is Allie Wright and I am 16 years old; I am a sophomore at Herron High School in Indianapolis, Indiana, where I love to read and write. I hope to one day major in Business Administration and minor in Writing, and eventually open a nonprofit. I am honored to be able to write for Storybook Ancestor!