Across the Continent, Lithograph, Frances F. Palmer, 1869.

During the Civil War, Missouri and Tennessee were claimed by both the Union and the Confederacy. The Union dominance in each of these states was achieved by a difficult struggle on many fronts, and my great-great-grandfather William Ivans (1842-1908) lived through the most terrifying years of the war in these two states. He served for… Read More


San Quentin State Prison, circa 1910

My great grandparents Sumner Dunham (1871-1947) and Cora Belle Ivans (1873-1963) were married on 8 July 1894 in Cummings, Mendocino County, California, with Cora Belle’s parents William and Mary (Wilson) Ivans serving as official witnesses. It’s unlikely Cora Belle’s brother John E. Ivans, my great granduncle, would have been in attendance at the wedding. Then… Read More


Youth, as they say, is wasted on the young. And while you’ve got to love having non-conformist ancestors, sometimes their adventures make it difficult to track them. Case in point: my grandmother María Lucia “Lucille” Alvarado Wood Dunham Minasian. She was quite a handful, especially once she met up with my grandfather Sumner Earl Dunham… Read More


1870 Redington Mine G.J. Brayton-Stereoview

A farmer, hearing that a circus was in town, loaded his wagon with vegetables to sell there. He was excited; more than anything, he wanted to see an actual elephant. He got in town just in time to see the circus parade, led by an elephant. The farmer was thrilled, but his horses were terrified.… Read More