Saturday, May 9, 2015

The Tale of Two Mother's

Like many adoptees I have two mother's.

Momma and my birth mother were treated by the same Ob-Gyn and he made the adoption arrangements. In 1962, the adoption process didn't take very long like it does in today's world. The application for adoption was made in August 1962 and was finalized in early November 1962.

My Adoptive Momma
I am very lucky to have my Momma, Nina. She is my adoptive mother. She and Daddy brought me home from the hospital the day after I was born. My Momma had two miscarriages before she and Daddy adopted me in 1962. They had been told that their chances of ever having children was not good (those doctor's didn't know what they were talking about) so they choose to adopt. 
The picture above is my Momma, Nina Rueff taken while she was in high school about 1952.

Momma raised me, dried my tears, cheered me on. Momma made my clothes, my wedding dress, and my school uniforms. Momma kissed my hurts, nurtured me and raised me to be who I am today. She was my Brownie Leader and she was always there when my siblings and I got home from school. She taught me how to laugh, to love and to dream. Momma taught me to be kind, compassionate, and to treat others the way I would want to be treated.

For as long as I can remember I have known I was adopted. There is a long running joke that I was suppose to be an only child. However, my Momma and Daddy saw fit to give me four more siblings all of whom are their natural children. I told you those doctor's didn't know what they talking about, thankfully!

When I got married the first time, she stood there and told me, "You don't have to do this." When I got married the second time, she told me I was making a mistake. I should have listened to her about those first two marriages but hindsight is 20/20. When I married Tommy, Momma was my matron of honor. Never in my life did I feel that I was any different than my siblings who followed after my adoption. 

Momma and I have had our ups and downs, especially during my teenage years, what mother and daughter don't? Momma has a great sense of humor. She loves all of her children regardless of how God brought us into her life.

My Birth Mother

For more than thirty years I searched for my birth mother because I had things that I needed to say. I finally found her living about an hour away from me in 2011. My birth mother gave me life. Something she didn't have to do but something I am incredibly grateful for. She is now in her 80's. She agreed to meet me and to give me a family medical history as well as a family history. I was relieved to hear this. 

I drove to her home and spoke with her for a few hours. She showed me pictures of my first great paternal grandmother and pictures of my half siblings. I was amazed at how much my younger son looked like my older half brother. I didn't see any resemblance between my half siblings and me. I must take after my birth father's side of the family in the looks department.

It was during this first conversation that she informed me that half siblings knew about me and were not interested in meeting me. Disappointment, yes but also relief. She told me that if I wanted a relationship with her, I would have to do all of the work. I thought I maybe I could do that but soon realized that I had said everything I needed to say to her. For the first time a peace settled over me that told me I had done my best. Especially since she made it very clear that I would have to be the one to do all the work if we were to have a relationship. That isn't how relationships work, relationships have to be worked on together not just one person. She was polite and gracious but reserved. 

As our conversation came to a close that evening I told her what I had been dying to tell her for all of those years. I told her how thankful I was that she did in fact choose my parents to adopt me. She didn't have many choices in the early 1960's and I wanted her to know that she had made the right decision. I told her that I had been given a good life with four more siblings, that I was blessed with two sons and a wonderful husband. 

Reasons to be grateful this Mother's Day

As the clock counts down to midnight and Mother's Day approaches I have good reasons to be grateful this Mother's Day! My birth mother did what she had to do at the time of birth and I am grateful that the doctor thought of my Momma and Daddy to adopt me. While I am not my Momma's biological child I am in fact the child of her heart. I love you Momma! I hope you have a great Mother's Day!

 The picture above is my Momma, Nina Rueff taken for her high school graduation about 1955.

Copyright © Dawning Genealogy/Dawn M Kogutkiewicz 2014-2015, All rights reserved.  

Thursday, April 30, 2015

My Visit to Bonaventure Cemetery in Savannah, Georgia for Horace Rivers and Family

Earlier this month we went to Savannah to support another Parrot Head Club's fundraiser for prostate cancer in the form of a pub crawl. It was a lot of fun but I did manage to get some genealogy done as well. This is the first of the two families I was looking for at Bonaventure Cemetery.

I went to Bonaventure Cemetery looking for the 2nd great paternal uncle of my son's via their paternal grandmother, Ursula Floride Plowden. I was disappointed to find that there were no headstones for Horace or his wife, Adele Lewis Rivers. There were only two tombstones. One was for his son, Marion Pinckney (1884-1931) and the other belonged to his sister in law, Edith Irene Lewis (1870-1891). 

This is a view of the entire plot for the Rivers family. The elaborate tombstone in the back is for Edith Irene Lewis who died at age 21. The other stone is for Marion Pinckney Rivers who died in 1934. It was very wet and drizzling during this visit.

Horace Rivers was born March 4th,1858 in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina to Constant Henry Rivers and Mary Elizabeth Minott. He married Adele "Addie" Lewis about 1882 (I have not found a specific place as of yet). Horace and "Addie" had three sons, Marion Pickney Rivers born in 1884 and died in 1931. Herbert T. Rivers born in 1885 (no death or marriage records as of today) and Horace Rivers, born in 1890 and died in 1932. They also had two daughters, Mary Rivers born in 1888 (no death or marriage records as of today) and Edith Lewis Rivers born in 1900 and died in 1969. Edith married George Hawkins Unchurch in 1922 and they had two daughters. 

Horace Rivers was born on June 10th, 1890 in Savannah, Georgia. He married Marguerite Virginia Walker (no marriage record as of today) and they had one son. Marguerite died on June 13th, 1930 from complications after her appendectomy in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina. Horace died from angina on September 1st, 1932 in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina. Both are buried at Magnolia Cemetery, Charleston, South Carolina. This left their son Lewis, an orphan by age 5. I found Lewis in the 1940 US Federal Census living in the home of Harry I. and Marie W. Shingler listed as their adopted son. 

The picture above is the tombstone for Edith Irene Lewis. I only know that she was born on January 9th, 1870 in Charleston County, South Carolina and that she died on September 12th, 1891. I don't know if she died in Savannah or not but I am hoping that on my next trip to Savannah, the cemetery may have more information. The telephone number listed for the cemetery connects you with the city of Savannah as they own Bonaventure Cemetery.

Marion Pinckney Rivers was February 24th 1884 in Savannah, Georgia. On June 16th, 1908 in Savannah he married Henrietta Ruby Williams. They had one child, Marion Pinckney Rivers, Jr who was born in Savannah in 1912 and died in 1966. According to his death certificate, Marion died of a coronary occlusion. I have been unable to locate a death certificate for his wife Ruby but I believe she may have remarried or perhaps moved to another state which will make finding her more difficult.

As you can see in the above picture it is clear there are other family members buried in this plot. There are no tombstones just small area which makes me wonder if some of Horace & Adele's children died in early adulthood. There are two children, Herbert T and Mary Rivers that were born in 1885 and 1888, respectively. They are both accounted for in the 1900 and the 1910 federal census records however, after that I lose track of them. I have scoured marriage and death records to no avail for them both. 

It is a rather large plot and there is evidence that others were there as well. The only people I know for certain who is not buried there is Horace Rivers, Jr. and his wife, Marguerite Walker Rivers. I will be making another trip to Savannah to do more research at the cemetery in June. Hopefully I will find some more answers.


Kiosk, Bonaventure Cemetery, 330 Bonaventure Road, Savannah, Georgia 31404
Phone: 912-651-6843

Death Certificates, Vital Records, Public Health, RG 26-5-95, Georgia Archives, ( : 27 April 2015)
Digital Collection: Georgia Death Certificates, Horace Rivers 10 September 1922

"Tennessee, Death Records, 1914-1955," database & image, FamilySearch ( : accessed 27 April 2015), entry for Adel Lewis Rivers, Died 18 October 1931;citing FHL microfilm 1,876,782.

Georgia, Deaths, 1928-1939, database & image, Family Search ( : 27 April 2015) entry for Marion P. Rivers, Died 25 June 1931 citing Atlanta, Fulton, Georgia, United States, CN-31-15076, Georgia Archives, Morrow.

South Carolina Deaths, 1915-1943, database & image, Family Search ( : 27 April 2015) entry for Horace Rivers, 1 September 1932, citing Charleston, South Carolina, fn-13209, Dept. of Archives and History, State Records Center, Columbia; FHL microfilm 1, 943,783.

South Carolina Deaths, 1915-1943, database & image, Family Search ( : 27 April 2015), entry for Marguerite Walker Rivers, 13 June 1930, citing Charleston, Charleston, South Carolina, fn-9513, Dept. of Archives and History, South Carolina, State Records Center, Columbia; FHL microfilm 1,913,723.

United States Census, 1940, database & image, Family Search ( : 28 April 2015), entry for Lewis W. Rivers in the household of Harry I. Shingler, James Island Township, Charleston, South Carolina, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) 10-73, sheets 1A, family 5, NARA digital publication T627 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 2012), roll 3795.

Copyright © Dawning Genealogy/Dawn M Kogutkiewicz 2014-2015, All rights reserved.