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Connecting Generations

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We interrupt this WWI Diary to bring you news of two special wedding anniversaries!


Our Wedding

August 6, 1983

August 6th is a pretty good day for a wedding if stability is what you have in mind. Today as my husband and I celebrate our 34th anniversary – we wish my uncle and his bride congratulations on their 57th anniversary!


It’s funny how wedding dates are selected – no doubt it depends on the availability of the church and reception venue and I know many brides today spend many months, if not years planning their weddings.  For Rick and me – it was a much more practical consideration – there were only a few weeks between the end of my summer job and the beginning of my second year of law school. Why else would anyone choose early August in Washington DC?

We spent the early part of our time in Washington DC finding a church that we wanted to join. I remember many Sundays visiting different churches. I also remember visiting Chevy Chase Presbyterian Church and thinking I wouldn’t like it (it was in a wealthy DC suburb and I thought this very middle class girl would feel out of place with Washington’s upper crust). Of course, that was before I knew all of my Preston and Bryant family history, through which I learned that I am a descendant of Washington DC’s “upper crust!”

I still remember the sermon on our first visit to Chevy Chase Presbyterian Church int he spring of 1983 by the head minister – Tom Jones. It was entitled, “Sins of Omission.” It was a sermon about the civil rights movement and the terrible things that were going on during freedom marches in the south in the 1950s and 60s. He certainly got my attention when he said – “if you were not actively protesting the abuses by whites in the South,  you were just as guilty as the people holding those fire hoses on the marchers.” Hmmm… maybe this wouldn’t be such a bad church to join after all. And of course, it was beautiful both inside and out.

We joined in short order and remained active participants in the life of that church for the next two years until we moved away from DC in 1985. But I digress – this post is supposed to be about wedding anniversaries!

Rick and I were married at Chevy Chase Presbyterian Church on August 6, 1983. It was hot – the Washington DC kind of hot, dripping with humidity. I remember Rick asking if he could pay extra to have the church leave the A/C on the night before. We were assured that someone would turn it on early enough for things to cool down in time for our 10 am ceremony. I don’t remember being too hot so it must have worked out.

As for Deane and Nancy who celebrate their 57th anniversary today – I have this picture that I found on from page 6 of the Columbus, Indiana Republic on August 8, picture.1960

Sorry to cut off the article but what an elaborate affair it seems to have been. I don’t see Deane and Nancy as often as I’d like, but it has always made me happy to share a wedding anniversary date with them.

Here’s an excerpt from my grandfather’s family letter dated November 25, 1958 in which he describes meeting Nancy’s parents for the first time.

“There are prospects of a wedding in our family. Deane is sure he has found the right girl, and they thought of getting married at the end of this school year, but the latest decision is to wait until Deane finds out whether the Army is going to take him, and for Nancy to finish her last year at the university. [Deane was a senior and Nancy a junior at Indiana University when this was written.] They met while they were both working on the Daily Student, and this fall it began to get serious. Nancy Myers lives in Columbus, Indiana, 40 miles east of Bloomington; she is majoring in journalism and literature. She is pretty, intelligent, and wise for her years, and we like her very much. We invited her father and mother for dinner about a month ago, with her sister and her boyfriend. It was her father’s birthday and we all had a good time. The four young people went to a dance and the four parents stayed home and had a good talk.

Mr. Myers studied for the ministry and preached for a while in a Christian church, then went into one of the plants in Columbus that makes radios and a number of other things as a personnel and labor relations officer. Her mother was born in Australia, and they are both lively, witty, and good people. They like Deane, and had no objections to the kids getting married, though it would please them if Nancy finished her last year in the university. This is an example of Mr. Myers’ kind of wisdom: he suggested that they think over carefully the pros and cons of getting married next June, then he would arrange a debate and he would argue in favor of it. Well, when Deane and Nancy thought of all the reasons against it, they called up her father and told him there would be no debate. They may still change their minds, but they are both thoughtful youngsters and, we will be satisfied with whatever they finally decide.

I just realized as I was typing this that the “we” in this letter means that Kitty also met Nancy’s parents. I rarely think of Kitty (my grandmother) as being involved in family events because she died in December 1959.



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JBK’s Diary – Sunday May 26 – Wednesday May 29th 1912

Sunday May 26th – Great day – fine weather. Finest day ever. Carey went over to Georgetown to sing but didn’t. Jack Brantly and I went canoeing. Fine time. River full of people. Supper at Curry’s. CE (Christian Education – I think) meeting led by Mrs. Cookman. Bed at 11.

Monday May 27th – Fine. Got up 6:30. Studied Logic. Took suit to be pressed. Busy at work. Quit at 4 pm. Came home and studied Logic – took exam. Missed 1 question. Fooled away the evening. Bed at 11. Took run and swim.

Tuesday May 28th – Fine weather. Rose 6:30. Carey and I went shopping at Woodward and Lothrop before work. Fairly busy day. Board meeting. Talked with Hank at noon. Picture with Leaders Corp’s  Harris & Ewing 5 pm. Went out to Henry Olson’s room, bought 3 camp blankets at 4005 14th Street. Hank & I went swimming. Started packing away stuff. Bed 11:45.

Wednesday May 29th – HOT. Packed up stuff. Busy at work. Did shopping at noon. Went out to Dom. Heights at 4:30 & saw Comley about Carpenter. Talked with Dean Wilbur til 7. Punch in Mizell’s room. Packed trunks. Marcy & Marshall came up and took swim. Bed at 11.

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Bryant Family of Washington DC

Originally written in February 2016; Updated March 29, 2019

My father Bryant Kingsbury was born on May 30, 1932 in Bethesda, Maryland. His first name is his mother’s maiden name. His brother, born four years later, was given another family name as his first name – Preston- but has always gone by his middle name – Deane.

My grandmother, Katherine Gertrude Bryant, was the only daughter and first child of Herbert Sydney Bryant and Elizabeth Monica Preston. Kitty, as she was known, was born on October 27, 1902 in Washington DC. Her father Herbert Sydney Bryant was the youngest son of Levi Jesse Bryant and Ellen Sarah Salley. Although Levi and Ellen met and married in Wisconsin, they started their family in Washington, DC where they moved at the end of the American Civil War.

I’ve written about Levi Jesse Bryant losing his arm in the Battle of Chancellorsville in May 1862. In September 2015 I visited the Chancellorsville Battlefield and with the help of a very knowledgeable ranger, was able to find the spot on the battle field where the Wisconsin 3rd Infantry came under intense fire on the last day of the battle. According to the ranger, that was most likely where Levi was wounded.

Levi and Ellen had four children – all born in Washington DC. Arthur Levi Bryant (1870-1933); Charles Fardon Bryant (1872-1923); Grace Bryant (Eynon) (1876 – 1943) and Herbert Sydney Bryant (1878-1950). After mustering out of the Union Army in August 1862, Levi worked for the US War Department for several years. He also was a member of the fourth graduating class of the Law Department of National University in May 1875. His oldest son Arthur also became a lawyer.

In 1893, Arthur Bryant married Lizzie Habel, who’s mother was born in Germany and immigrated to New York just before Lizzie was born. Lizzie and her mother moved to Washington DC to live with Lizzie’s uncle Dr.George M. Kober after her father died. The 1910 census shows Lizzie, her husband Arthur and her mother, living with Dr. Kober. Dr. Kober was Dean of the Medical School at Georgetown University.

ArthurBryant.LizzieHabel.marriage.evestar.5.18.1893Here is their marriage announcement from the Washington Evening Star – May 18, 1893. Arthur and Lizzie took a long honeymoon and went to the Columbian Exposition in Chicago.

Arthur and Lizzie never had children. He died in 1933 and Lizzie lived the next 30 years as a widow, dying in April 1963.  From some family correspondence I know that she had a sizable estate some of which passed to my father and uncle because their mother (Lizzie and Arthur’s niece) had died in 1959 so they inherited what had been left to her.

I haven’t been able to learn much about Charles Fardon Bryant. He was only 48 years old when he died and there was only a brief mention of his passing in the Washington newspapers.  Charles was a business man of some sort and I suspect he married well. Isabella Byrne, his wife, is sometimes mentioned in the Washington Post and Evening Star society pages. They had one son, Charles Byrn Bryant, born in 1900. He went to the Carnegie Institute in Pittsburgh in 1919 to study engineering .

HerbertBryant.ElizabethPreson.marriage.evestar.9.10.1900Levi and Ellen’s two youngest children, Grace and Herbert, married within a month of each other in 1900.  Herbert married Elizabeth Monica Preston on Saturday September 8, 1900 at Epiphany Church, an Episcopal church in Washington DC. It seems they had a small ceremony. The church has survived the passage of time and never ending building boom in Washington DC and is currently located at 1317 G Street NW, just a couple of blocks east of the White House. I’ve submitted an email to the church to see if they have a record of Herbert and Elizabeth’s wedding.

GraceBryant.WilliamEynon.marriage.evestar.10.3.1900On October 2nd, Grace Bryant married William John Eynon at All Soul’s Unitarian church located at the corner of L and 14th Streets NW. The church building today at 1500 Harvard Street was constructed in 1923. The church congregation dates back to the early days of Washington DC. This ceremony got a bit more press. I was surprised to read that Grace was escorted by her brother Arthur Bryant. Why not her father Levi? Then I remembered that Levi’s obituary in 1920 mentioned that he was one of the District’s oldest residents and that he had been paralyzed for the last 20 years of his life. Perhaps Levi wasn’t physically able to walk his daughter down the aisle.

I’ll focus a bit more on each of these Bryant family members in preparation for an upcoming visit to Washington DC in June 2019.











Two Missing Children of Herbert and Annie Preston

Herbert Augustine Preston and his wife Annie Elizabeth McNabb (my great, great grandparents) married in Washington DC on 19 October 1869. I know they had seven children because in the 1920 census, Annie reports she had seven children but only five were still alive.  Hmmm… I found birth records for some of them but not all. I also found a short article in the Washington Evening Star about the death of their first-born daughter Mary Gertrude, who died of typhoid fever in 1878. But all of my searches over the past year were only coming up with six children – five girls and one boy.

This often happens when children are born and die between census years. This is why the 1920 census account of number of children born/number of children living is very helpful. It’s a lot easier to find something if you know what you’re looking for – or at least that what you’re looking for exists, even if you don’t know quite what it is.

The recent snowstorm kept me indoors and home from work for a few days so I had lots of time for my favorite genealogical activity -reading old newspapers. I also had access to the digitized version of the Washington Evening Star available from the Washington DC public library. The $20 I paid for a library card when I was there a few years ago was a great investment.

Since I had that rare commodity, time, I browsed through each of the  16,000+ records for “Preston.” Within an hour I found this bit of news from the Evening Star published on December 29, 1876:


So there was the missing child who also turns out to be the first son born to Herbert and Annie. From the gap in their children’s births (between Annie Beatrice born in 1872 and James David born in 1876), I surmised that the missing child was born around 1874. Unfortunately, this article doesn’t tell us much other than “little son” – not even his name, age or cause of death. But with a death date, the records on soon generated a “hint” from the Washington DC death and burial records for a Herbert Preston who died on December 28, 1876 at age 2. My guess is that his name was Herbert A. Preston, Jr.

As for the death of their first born child, Mary Gertrude, born in 1871, who also was born and died between census years, I found this article from the Washington Evening Star on June 1, 1878.


It seems that Mary Gertrude was at her grandfather’s house to avoid infecting the rest of the Preston children. I do wonder what is meant by “their interesting daughter.” I’ve seen various weddings described as “interesting” but I wonder what that means when used to describe a seven year old?

The Preston family of Washington DC has certainly captured my attention lately so you can expect to see more posts about them over the next few weeks.



Joseph B Kingsbury’s Summer of 1911

Joseph Bush Kingsbury circa 1910

In the summer of 1911, JBK was 21 years old and had just finished his first year of college in Washington DC. Although he was home for about a week in early July, he was back in Washington DC by July 21st. I know from his federal employment application (Standard Form 57) that from November 1910 to January 1916 (while in college) JBK was employed as a “typist; stenographer; executive clerk” at the Civil Service Commission and the US Department of Agriculture in Washington DC.

He often used short hand in some of his diaries. It often happens just when he was just about to write something juicy that I’d really love to know. His neat cursive handwriting transformed into a series of squiggles and dashes – ARHGGG… the dreaded, indecipherable short hand!

So here is JBK’s diary entry from July 21, 1911. I would love to know about the game Jenko.

Friday- July 21 – Another big day’s work. Came to work early and wrote letter. After supper went out to Woodhead’s Camp. Mizell and Reinhart also there. Swung the girls until storm came up. Played Up Jenko (?) in shack ‘till 10. Stayed with Mizell.

My husband suggested that “Jenko” might be the phonetic spelling of what we now know as Jengo – a popular game that consists of stacking wooden blocks and then removing them without causing the tower to topple over.

I also found this entry in the January 12, 2016 online version of Mental Floss in an article about games nobody plays anymore. I think Up Jenko was likely to be known in other places as Up Jenkins.

From JBK’s diary entries I’ve learned that in the early 20th century the work week included Saturday morning. So here’s what JBK did after his Friday night of “swinging the girls” at Camp Woodhead.

Saturday – July 22 – Took walk thru woods. Came in town early and got breakfast. Worked ‘til one o’clock. Started packing up (apparently the office where he worked was moving to a new building). Henry and I went over to see Senate vote on Reciprocity. Visited Senate office building – walked up Avenue. Band concert on the Ellipse from 6 to 7. Studied SS (Sunday School) lesson. Took bath, shaved and unpacked some more. Mason bought some ice cream, Olson, Allanson, Klause and Herbert came in. Talked ‘til 11:30.

I can picture the Senate Office building. I have no idea where Camp Woodhead was, but I can relate to the feeling of walking through the woods before returning to the city. I walked through the Ellipse (well actually around the Ellipse because of security measures) on a recent visit to Washington DC. The next time I do that I’ll be sure to imagine my 21 year old grandfather listening to a band concert there.


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Annie McNabb Preston – 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – Live Long

I have a lot of female ancestors on both sides of my family that lived into their 80s and 90s. I like to think that this bodes well for my chances of living a long productive life as well. Today’s post is about Annie McNabb Preston – my great great grandmother who was born in Baltimore, Maryland on January 15, 1841.

Annie was the second child and second daughter born to James McNabb and Eliza Folk. The Census reports consistently list James’ birth place, as well as that of his mother and father, as Baltimore Maryland. The results are not as consistent for his wife Eliza, who is sometimes listed as being born in Pennsylvania and sometimes Virginia. I’ve yet to find their marriage record or birth records and Eliza Folk’s early life is a complete mystery.

In the 1850 census, 9-year old Ann McNabb is the second daughter in the home of James and Eliza McNabb, living in the 12th ward of Baltimore City. Her older sister Mary is 11 and the following younger siblings are also in the home: James (5); Kate (2), John (11 months). Interestingly, I find no other records or mention of John and the line with his name is hard to read so I’m not sure that name is correct. Later census reports don’t seem to have a child that is John’s age, so he may have died before the next Census. Also in the home is 26 year-old Frances McKew whose birthplace is listed as Ireland. Unfortunately it is impossible to tell from the Census whether she is a relative of James or Eliza or neither! Another mystery – they never end!

The McNabb family of Baltimore does not appear in the 1860 census but I’m not sure why since other records suggest they were still living in Baltimore. James McNabb appears on several IRS tax assessment lists for 1862-1863 and his son, James McNabb, Jr. enlists as a Sergeant in Company G of the 10th Maryland Infantry of the US Army on July 3, 1863, serves for about six months, then re-enlists in the 11th Maryland Infantry in early 1864. He was wounded in the Battle of Monocacy (in Maryland). It can’t be a coincidence that he enlisted on the day the battle of Gettysburg ended – or can it?

By the 1870 census, James and Eliza McNabb have moved to Washington DC and have the following children at home: James (26), Kate (18), Gertrude (15), Henry (13) and Charles (10). The McNabb family remained in DC for the rest of the 1800s. James McNabb died in 1894 and Eliza died in 1906. Several McNabbs are buried in Green Mount Cemetery in Baltimore, James Jr. and Charles for sure, but Annie McNabb Preston is buried in Arlington Cemetery with her husband Herbert Augustus Preston (HAP) and their youngest daughter, Theodora C. Preston.

Part of my fascination with Annie is that she was a working woman in the early 1900s, which was probably not that common. She also had seven children of her own. I suspect she had to support her family after her husband’s sudden death in 1893 in his early 50s. I did find a record of her claiming a widow’s pension for HAP’s service in the Civil War but I doubt that would have provided for all that she needed.  Annie lived until 1930 and the 1910 Census, which lists her age as 69, lists her occupation as a government clerk for the Treasury Department.

Although I don’t know how Annie McNabb and Herbert Preston met, there is a wonderful account of their wedding in the National Republican dated October 20, 1869, a Wednesday, referring to the wedding taking place at 7:30 a.m. “yesterday” at Saint Patrick’s church. It was part of a morning nuptial mass and after a fairly detailed account of the ceremony, including the Bible passages that were read, the article ends with the following account of Annie’s wedding outfit:

“The bride was attired in a traveling dress of delicate dove colored poplin, with upper and lower skirt trimmed in pleated ruffles. A close fitting basque, gloves and veil of the same shade, and a beaver hat with a white gull, completed a dress at once tasteful and appropriate.”

in her later years, with the exception of the Census report for 1920 when Annie McNabb was living in Boston Massachusetts with her younger daughter Theodora, Annie was always in DC. She died in August 1930 and her obituary reports that she was living in the Cordova Apartments, close to 20th and S Street NW in Washington DC. The 1930 Census lists her at that address with her daughter Theodora who was 46 and never married. Annie was about two months shy of her 90th birthday when she died.

She is buried in Arlington National Cemetery in her husband Herbert Augustus Preston’s plot, along with their daughter Theodora.

Headstone for Herbert A Preston's Grave Headstone for Herbert A Preston’s Grave
Together in the End Together in the End