More Brothers Leave Clutton
Charles and James, the two and youngest, sons of George and Elizabeth, are both very important to our story.
As the reader will recall, in the letter from Florence Blacker
Fielding as copied in the last chapter of this account, she
stated: "Now I don't know if I have told you that Uncles Charles
and James went to live with my father and mother (meaning William
and Sarah who had so much misfortune with the loss of their
babies, this while still in Clutton. L.B.) when they were quite
young boys. Uncle Charles was 15 years and Uncle James was eleven
years old. It seems at that time work was very poor in England
and Wales was not much better. Uncle James always lived with them
until he married here in St. Clair."
As we start Charles' account, let's review the family chart as
shown above. In the upper right hand corner of the chart we
see that Charles was born in 1834 - 3rd of August 1834 to be
exact - and he later married Mary Moore Parfitt, presumably in
Clutton. Of the latter we are not sure, however, the name Parfitt
has been observed in our Clutton research. In fact, while
developing the ancestral lines of the Australian emigrant, George
Blacker, who married Sarah Matthews, and set sail from Clutton
the day after, and to whom we have assured ourselves of definite
relationship, we found that he is related to a Mary Parfitt who
married a George Blacker, both of Clutton, in 1775. This Mary
Parfitt is the emigrant George's great grandmother. The name
Parfitt in the little village of Clutton could show a distant
family relationship between the two Marys, the one marrying in
1775 and the latter probably marrying our Charles in the early
1850s. Naturally, no attempt has been made to prove relationship
between these two Marys, but in case they were related, there
could develop an in-law relationship in the two Clutton Blacker
Roland Pinger, now deceased, of Berkeley, California, who
married Miriam Blacker, a granddaughter of James, whom we are
scheduled to discuss soon, became interested in his and his
wife's genealogy upon retirement. Without introducing him and
wife, Miriam, at this point, that pleasant task will be deferred
until we turn our consideration to James and family. Roland and
Miriam lived near and associated closely with the daughter of
Charles Blacker, she being Lillian Blacker Blankenship.
With this statement having been made, let me quote directly
from Roland's short account of Charles, speaking of immigrants
"One of these, Charles Blacker and his wife Mary Moore Parfait
Blacker came from Clutton, Somersetshire to Pennsylvania in 1848.
A few years later he was Captain Blacker, fighting not for his
king but for the Union - E Pluribus Unum! Postbellum, that
grateful government gave him a job in Georgia where sharpshooting
"moonshiners" or worse do what the Johnny Rebs had never
succeeded in doing. But he recovered from their bullet-holes,
lived happily with Mary, and raised his little daughter Lillian
(he had no sons and Jessie had died in infancy ) to be the
gracious southern lady we have all know so affectionately.
"Of course your question is - why did Charles not emulate old
Valentine (of the Irish Blacker family - see page 5. L.B.) by
"selling his lands" in William Penn's Forest, buying a southern
plantation from some Carpetbagger or burned-out Confederate, and
sipping his mint julep in the shade of a nice magnolia tree? The
answer is simple - he may have been a Captain of Horse or Foot
(his curved saber would indicate that he rode), but now he was
just another 'veteran' with neither land nor money, in
Pennsylvania or otherwise. The moral is - get hold of some land
early in life - even if you are not a farmer. It may be one good
way of beating inflation, that awful thing that has been
depreciating mere money from 2 to 3 percent compound per year
ever since our Revolution". (Roland write this on the 26th of May
1957 as part of his "A Long Letter To My Grandchildren").
On the 24th of May of 1957 Charles' daughter, Lillian Blacker
Blankenship, wrote me in answer to an inquiry:
24 May 1957
2619 Ellsworth St.
Berkeley 4, Calif.
I received your letter a few days ago, with pictures enclosed
of my dear parents, so kind of you to send them to me but, I am
returning them, as I have quite a number of different styles of
them and I think you would like these. My father was born August
4th 1834 (just one day off our record of his birth. L.B.) I do
not know the date of my mother's birth. If you would like the
history of the Blacker family, write to Colonel Roland Pinger, 53
Tunnel Road, Berkeley, Calif. He has a complete record and knows
all about the Blacker family, as he married my cousin, Miriam
Blacker (actually first cousin one generation removed. L.B.)
"My father was born August 4th - 1834. He served as Capt. In
the Civil War and later on was postmaster in Cartersville,
Georgia. After that he worked with the Revenue Department in
Atlanta, Georgia where my mother passed away when I was only 12
years of age. My father put me in Boarding School and later on, I
went to live with friends who lived in Marietta, Ga. From their
home I married (very young) to such a fine man, George Fillmore
"We moved to Calif. many years ago (Roland elsewhere says
1903. L.B.) and adopted Mr. Blankenship's niece. She and her
husband and son live with me now and we are so happy together.
Mr. Blankenship passed away 25 years ago which was the greatest
sorrow of my life.
"Next time you come to Calif. do come to see us. It would be
so nice to meet another Blacker. I have four cousins living in
Berkeley, one married, one a widow and two unmarried sisters.
"I hope you will write to me and tell me about your
Much love from cousin,
(At this time Lillian would have been 93 years 1 month. L.B.)
Commenting on Roland's account of Charles above:
Even though Roland is not with us to defend his date of 1848
for Charles' arrival in America, we are going to question the
plausibility. Charles' birth date was 3 August 1834 which, if his
arrival was that early, it would simply mean that he would have
been at the ripe old age of fourteen and, if he had married in
Clutton, which seems a possibility, his wife would probably have
been still younger, which would appear to be just a little young
for such a venture. No marriage shows up for Charles Blacker and
Mary Moore Parfitt on Clutton marriage records prior to 1850.
With these odds, it seems Florence Fielding's statement given
in the previous chapter could have more chance of being correct.
She wrote, "Well, my father was the first to come in the summer
of 1854. He came with my mother, sisters Margaret and Elizabeth
and Uncle James came with them".
Even at the time of Florence's father's coming in 1854, his
brother, Charles, would have been 20 - even then plenty young.
Undoubtedly Charles did not come with William and James in 1854
or else Florence would have also named him. This is another
instance which, seemingly, will have to be put on the back
With Lillian Blacker Blankenship having been Charles' only
offspring, and the fact that she didn't have any children of her
own, Charles' line appears to have ended with Lillian.
The parents of these emigrating sons, George and Elizabeth
Bowditch Blacker, seems to have had no peer so far as
contributing to the de-population of Clutton. Their two oldest
sons, John and George and families moving to Monmouthshire with
George, years later, with his two sons, William and Albert moving
to Houtzdale, Pennsylvania - probably as late as 1880. George's
and Elizabeth's eldest daughter, Mary, marrying and going off to
Dublin; son, Upcutt off to Australia; William, their fourth son
with family and youngest son, James, to America in 1854 and, also
emigrating, son Charles, for whom we have no immigrating date
George and Elizabeth, the parents, stayed in Clutton with the
two remaining children, Tobias, who had married Catherine
Griffiths and Elizabeth who had married George Moody. Mother
Elizabeth died in 1865 and father, George, died nine years later
in 1874. The reader will remember previous mention of the unusual
Clutton Blacker tombstone (page 27) under which four generations
of the family have been buried. It received its fifth and
subsequently sixth bodies when Elizabeth and George were placed
in it. Whether son, Tobias was still alive when his father,
George, passed away we don't know. The fact is that he was the
only one with the Blacker name of our branch stemming from Tobias
Blacker and Mary Sage remaining and that he, the younger Tobias,
had no sons, but three daughters. Therefore, when father George
was buried and then son Tobias, whether before or after his
father, Clutton was drained forever of our branch of the Blacker
surname. It is true, other branches of Blackers, such as
Frederick's son Charles and daughter Frieda who still operate the
Monumental Sculpturing business now carry on the only Blacker
surname, so far as we are aware, in Clutton.
Youngest son, James, eventually married Ann Williams, but not
for another eight years following his arrival in St. Clair. Ann's
father and mother, John and Mary Parker Williams were from
Abergavenny in Monmouthshire, Wales, only a few miles from
Abertillery, the longtime home town of John Blacker and brother
George and families.
James and Ann's first son, George Henry, was born on the 20th
of February 1863. Between that date and 1889 - a period of 26
years - thirteen children were born. In Fannie's letter to us of
1930 and, subsequently, Florence Fielding's letters of 1940, the
names and birth dates were sent. Since then there has been a
question as to the reason for the gap between the birth date of
eldest son, George, in 1863, and their second child, Henrietta in
1869. With such a prolific couple, parents of thirteen children,
all born within two years of each other, and to have an early
span of over six years, with no births, a question is raised
concerning such an irregularity.
The remainder of the children are here mentioned: Adessa,
1871; Mary, 1874; Fannie, 1875; twin Charles, 1875; John, 1877;
Bessie, 1870; Ena, 1881; William, 1883; James Milton, 1885; Harry
W., 1887; and Frederick, 1889. (Please see chart above.)
For fear of over-using the term 'it is with regrets' as we
have so often done in this account, let us change expressions -
but with the same general meaning - and say, 'we are saddened'
because there are so many of these Blacker families on which we
have so little or no information at all, other than name. We do
have, hopefully, some interesting data on a few of the above
Due to the fact that we had our earliest contact with this
family through Fannie A., let all of us make an acquaintance with
her. It was while visiting with Uncle William in Penrhywceiber,
Wales, in 1930, that he gave me the name of his cousin, Fannie A.
Blacker, unmarried, of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. After
returning home from my mission in April of 1930, I subsequently
wrote to Fannie - as present records indicate - probably in
August. I was at the ripe old age of 22 and, naturally, single,
and remained in that state for well over another six years.
Fannie was born in 1875 and by 1930, she would have been 55
years of age providing my calculations are correct. She passed
away in 1936 according to another cousin of hers, Florence
Fielding of whom In have previously written.
Fannie's first reply to my letter:
30 August 1930
4021 Spring Garden St.,
Edward L. Blacker
Your letter of August 24th reached on Thursday afternoon. As
this is the first opportunity In have to answer, I will try to
tell you what little In know of my father's family. I have
enclosed a list of names of my grandparent's children as was
given to my father by his brother George whom my father visited
at the home of his (George) son, William, in Houtzdale,
Clearfield Co., Pa., about forty years ago.
My father married Ann Williams of St. Clair, Pa., May 22,
1862. I expect to visit in St. Clair in October and can then get
more definite information when I talk with our cousin, Mrs.
Florence Blacker Fielding.
Are you the Edward Blacker who lived in Almy, Wyoming a number
of years ago and previously had been in Shenadoah, Pa.? Did you
know some of the English relatives had gone to Australia?
One of Aunt Mary Blacker Moody's sons, Walter Moody lived in
Bristol and his nephew, Walter Moody, was living in Los Angeles,
California six years ago. In having visited at his home.
If you are further interested, and will again write to me, I
will be glad to gather facts concerning our family. Did you visit
the Blacker home in Clutton, and did you learn it was used for
Belgian refugees during the war? (World War I).
Will close with kind regards, expecting to hear from you
Fannie A. Blacker
Don't fail to find Fannie on the Blacker-Bowditch chart. A subsequent letter from Fannie:
4 Feb 1934
607 East Norwegian St.
Mr. Edward Blacker,
It is several years since your letter arrived asking for
information concerning the Blacker family who originally came
from Clutton, Somersetshire, England. I answered at that time,
but could not give any definite information concerning my
father's people as you desired:
Two years this coming summer Uncle Charlie's daughter,
Lillian, Mrs. G.F. Blankenship of Berkeley, California visited
the Blacker homestead in Clutton, England for a few days. Our
Cousin Polly Tiley's two daughters now occupy that home. I have
understood you visited that homestead also. Did you see our
cousin, Polly Tiley? (Yes, I did. L.B.) She passed away two years
this month, advanced in years. It is always much regretted by me
that I could never see her, or our cousin, Walter Moody of
Bristol, England, who passed away two years this coming summer,
for I was much drawn toward both of them. Did you know that
Walter's brother's son lived in Los Angeles nine or ten years
ago? He was then employed as a baker in the large bakery of Davis
& Co., in Los Angeles.
I do not know just how you gain your livelihood, but I trust
you are able to have a comfortable living, despite all the hard
times for lack of employment and money. Times are hard in this
section. We are in the heart of the hard coal industry, but so
many collieries have been idle so long, and many banks closed for
depositors who lost their money and so many people are in need.
We trust everything will soon be better in every way so folk will
not lose their trust in our Heavenly Father who is All Wise.
"We had a very cold week after several weeks of mild weather
but not much snow. I am staying with my youngest brother since I
am not able to work and earn a living. My sister Adessa is a
nurse in Philadelphia but work for nurses has been very slack the
past few years. "A twin brother is in a soldier's home at Erie,
Pennsylvania and another brother next older than we two lives at
Orwigsburg, Pa., ten miles from here.
"Will close at this time and will hope to hear from you".
Sincerely a Cousin,
Fannie a. Blacker.
Note that Fannie was a twin to her brother, Charles, they each
a niece and nephew respectively of Captain Charles Blacker of the
previous generation. The fact that the younger Charles was in a
soldier's home in 1934 is interesting. Two 'fighting' loyalists
names Charles and surnamed Blacker. So far as can be determined
from our family tree of considerably more than a thousand names,
there are no other sons of any set of parents who have been given
the name, Charles. Can this be a precedence facing another
Charles Blacker? Parents needing military assistance in the
raising of their sons should consider this and become assured of
this potential help by giving the little guy the name of Charles.
Uncle Sam, apparently, will come to the aid of any parent who has
a son by the name of Charles Blacker. Also, if the equal Rights
Amendment is accepted and ratified by three additional states by
June of this year, 1982, -- four months hence - would the name
Charlene by an adequate feminine name for Charles and do the same
for the little girl that Charles would for a boy?
The above observation relative to the name Charles, in no way
infers that there have been no other Blackers who served for
their country. If the reader will recall, in Florence Blacker
Fielding's letter, dated October 1, 1940, she wrote - see about
middle of page 80 - "My father was in the Civil War." This fact -
that the two brothers, immigrants with ten years time - both had
sworn off, at least some of their British allegiance to their
good Queen Victoria and took up arms for the cause of the North
in what devastating Civil War from 1861 to 1865. Both brothers,
William and Charles (Captain) seemingly fared much better than
thousands of casualties of that terrible conflict. Coming form
England as late as they did and living in Pennsylvania they
apparently had no reason to become involved with the slavery
practice which was, perhaps, just as well for they wouldn't have
been permitted to hold them for long. It really would have been
another story had they been caught up with the ownership of the
slaves. Perhaps Ripley could have picked up a 'quip' such as 'The
Blacker brothers - William and Charles - fighting for their
blacker brothers - their Negro slaves.'
Fannie's twin brother, Charles, was too late for the Civil
War, for the twins were not born until 1875. In none of Fannie's
letters did she mention the war her brother had fought in, but he
would have been a good age - 23 - to serve in the
Spanish-American War. Who knows but that he was right behind - at
least he was supportive to - Teddy Roosevelt as he purportedly
led his troops to the tope of San Juan Hills in Cuba, which
literally turned the tide of the war to the American's
It is far less likely that young Charles would become involved
in World War I even if he enlisted early, for in 1914, he would
have been 39, a little advanced in age, particularly for
volunteering let alone being drafted. Certainly this would have
been true in 1917 when the U.S., despite Wilson's promise to the
American people, got militarily involved. We who remember that
war very well though not quite up to the age of either enlistment
nor draft, remember the U.S. accounts of its cavalry, but it is not likely young Charles
would have a part in it such as his Uncle Charles had in the
Civil War. Perhaps by chance, young Charles insisted that he
assist with the cavalry stables way behind the Maginot Line for
older men with experience would here relieve the younger soldiers
and, at the same time, demonstrate their allegiance by serving
their country in such a manner. This is all supposition.
Included with the names of her Uncle James' children,
Florence, made a note on the side of her cousin, Charles' name
that he, Charles, had died on May 2, 1939, in the Soldiers and
Sailors Home in Erie, Pennsylvania and also that Fannie had
passed away on January 17th, 1936 in St. Clair.
To this point we have reviewed youngest brother, James' and
Ann William's children, Fannie A. and twin brother, Charles.
Their sister, Adessa, was mentioned by Fannie as being a nurse in
Philadelphia. It is not known whether Adessa married, nor if she
did, anything about her family. There was no evidence that
brother Charles married. No mention has been made of some of the
other brothers and sisters such as Henrietta, born 1869, of Mary
born 1874, John born 1877, of Bessie, born 1879, Ena born 1881,
William born 1883. Brother Harry, born in 1887, was mentioned by
Roland Pinger, a nephew-in-law, as visiting relatives in
Berkeley, California in 1940. He also mentioned another brother,
Frederick and they may possibly be referred to later. See son
James on the Blacker-Bowditch chart.
This leaves us with two of James and Ann William's children of
which we have some data. Let us now turn to their son, George and
son James Milton. In order to report on George, the eldest of
James' family, it will become necessary for us to introduce
son-in-law, Roland Pinger who has played a vital role in
compiling data of this branch of the family. First the family
tree which is an outgrowth of the Blacker-Bowditch chart.
As one searches for his genealogy and family history occasions
often arise which leads to acquaintances who share family data
which become mutually beneficial. It has become my pleasant
experience to have acquired many friends thru personal
correspondence - dear friends and unknown-before relatives who
have become as endeared as anyone in this world. On occasions
correspondence has led to personal meetings.
Already this story has mentioned any number of folk whose
acquaintances would never have been made were it not for an early
interest in family history and genealogy. Such men and women as
Uncle William of Penrhiwceiber and Aunt Mary Watkins of Mountain
Ash and members of their families in South Wales and others such
as Frederick Blacker of Clutton, of Beatrice and Stanley Blacker
of Bega, Australia, of Fannie Blacker and Florence Blacker
Fielding of Pennsylvania, of the two Rowland Blackers of Canada,
of Lillian Blankenship and Helen and Dorothy Blacker of Berkeley,
California, of Jim and Hazel Blacker of Mechanicsburg,
Pennsylvania, of Reid and Jean Blacker of LaGrande, Oregon and
possibly others plus now Roland W. Pinger, his wife, Miriam
Blacker Pinger and of late their daughter, Barbara Ann Doyle of
Berkeley, California. Each of these has contributed to the data
of this story, plus members of the Edward Blacker Family
organization who number well into the hundreds upon hundreds.
In genealogical research, one finding often leads to another,
such as in the early 1930s while corresponding with Fannie A.
Blacker. She gave me the name of a cousin, Lillian Blacker
Blankenship of Berkeley, California, in fact who had been at that
home since 1903 after leaving Georgia.
In my early research, I contacted nearly everyone with whom I
thought there would be a possibility of securing family data. I
had written to dozens whose names and addresses I had secured
from telephone directories etc. etc. with a high percentage never
replying. On the 18th of June 1935, I wrote to Lillian
Blankenship and it appeared that the letter was another
The years went by - some dragged, some flew - but in the
meantime, I started a brief school teaching career - some eight
to nine years in Evanston, Wyoming. Subsequent to that we moved -
I was now married - back to Rupert to the farm for three years.
From thence, to Ontario, Oregon, where for several years we were
engaged in the furniture business. Selling our interests there we
found ourselves in 1956 in Riverside, California, where we lived
for nearly a year. It was while there during the winter of 1956
and 1957, my father, Thomas Blacker, passed away on the 27th of
March 1957. He and our stepmother had spent two or three winters
in Mesa, Arizona.
In his last illness in the hospital, my brothers and sisters
took turns staying with him. When it was our turn Mabel and I
spent a few days and then had to return home to Riverside to my
work and our children. On one occasion, I went alone and within a
day or so following that trip we received a telephone call of our
father's passing. The next day we again found ourselves in Mesa,
where my brother, Roy and I, arranged for the shipping of the
body to Rupert, Idaho for the final service. It was under these
circumstances that my brother, Roy, handed me a letter from a
total stranger, a letter which had been addressed to Rupert,
which Roy brought down with him to turn to me.
Opening it, I was immeasurably pleased. On the 28th of March
1957, I finally received a letter in response to the one I had
written on the 18th of June 1935, some twenty-two years
In my letter to Lillian, I had asked her for any assistance
she could give about family data and, as is always a good policy,
I had attempted to give more than I asked for. In addition to
charting a little of my ancestry, I also mentioned the fact that
I had secured a copy of "The Blackers of Carrickblacker" of the
Irish Blacker family, and that the family had traced ancestry to
a very early date etc. etc. as has been explained in Chapter I of
Now, before I introduce Roland, I should add that he had
recently retired from his life's pursuit and had just commenced
to start on his retirement goal which was to prepare family data
and history for his children, and particularly, his
grandchildren. The following is a copy of what he had already
written prior to his writing in answer to the letter I had
written to Lillian.
"A LONG LETTER TO MY GRANDCHILDREN"
Home of Roland and Miriam Blacker Pinger in Berkley California
"As you study literary composition, you will learn that in any
extensive writing the author should, at the start, tell his
readers something about the subject matter involved, his motives,
and his intentions. I shall do my best under all three
categories, but I am not certain that I shall be completely
faithful to any. No harm will result, however, if I just state
the facts as I see them in A.D. 1957, leaving revision to some
later day when the act of writing shall have clarified what for
the moment may seem a bit confused.
"For many years I have contemplated two related undertakings -
first a GENEALOGY starting with YOU, my beloved Grandchildren,
and working back into the past as far as possible; second an
AUTOBIOGRAPHY which might entertain you and your posterity long
after I am gone. A busy military and academic career has not
afforded much leisure until the present, when I have just passed
my sixty-eighth birthday. Unless I do it now, it will probably go
undone, as in the case of my forebears.
"Not long ago I read something which was quite incredible -
the fact that few Americans can tell the names (first, last and
maiden) of each of their eight great-grand-parents. Testing
myself I did quite well on the masculine side, but with the
exception of one first name, (Christina) I knew nothing about the
four ladies involved in my earthly presence. So, my first task
has been to construct a large (22" x 30") "organization chart"
with a rectangle for each man, woman or child, whether I know
their names or not. With this chart (or with more portable copies
or excerpts) my children and grandchildren will certainly pass
the test, and to aid their memories I have assembled all
available portraits in a loose-leaf ANCESTOR BOOK. Eventually I
hope to present each of you with a brochure containing a copy of
this "Long Letter" and of each important chart and picture. In
accordance with the principle of primogeniture, which has
responsibilities as well as privileges, I bequeath all original
documents to my grandson Steven Stuart Pinger. (At the time
Steven had not yet reached his fifth birthday. L.B.)
1890-1966 Miriam Blacker Pinger - 1941 Daughter of George and Rosina and a granddaughter of James Blacker who came to America in 1854
1889-1967, Col. Roland W. Pinger - 1941
"Concurrent with this task, and as a respite from it, I shall
write my own biography primarily, as I said, for your
entertainment. I hope that your other grandfathers shall have
done likewise, or at least, have left behind a diary or letters
from which such an account can be reconstructed. My own
grandfathers never found time for this, but some day I shall try
to translate the dozen or more letters which Grandfather Pinger
wrote (in German) to his brother Christian, and which were
apparently returned to my father some year later.
"Your entertainment, however, is but one motive. Not long ago
I read that the great need of historians, one hundred years
hence, will not be just the lives of the famous, but of the less
distinguished but reasonably literate persons who lived in these
earth-shaking times. History is broadening its scope - in the
future it may concern itself not only with political matters but
with how ordinary folks spent their days. Moreover, it may be
less interested in the generalizations of social scientists, and
more in the personal stories of actual people. So, if my own
expectancy (about thirteen years) permits the accomplishment of
this task, I shall try to draw a picture of my times, with myself
thrown in only as a witness of things which happened between 1889
and say 1970."
Roland Wilbur Pinger
53 Tunnel Road
Berkeley 5, California
April 3, 1957
Roland was officially retired at the end of 1956 and by the
above dated Preface, 3 April 1957, he had had done some little
research. Naturally, he started with what data he had in his own
home and prior to the middle of March he had been to his nearest
relatives, at least we know he had been to his wife's nearest
relatives for his grandchildren were to be presented with data of
their grandmother, Miriam Blacker Pinger, as well as Roland's
It was while he was at the home of Lillian Blankenship, first
cousin one generation removed from Miriam, that he made inquiry
for Blacker family data. As Lillian went to her file, I imagine
she said something like this as she pulled an old letter from her
folder, "Roland, here is a Blacker guy who, years ago, was
inquiring for Blacker genealogy. You might try writing to see if
he can assist you."
When I opened the letter in Mesa, Arizona, on the 28th day of
March 1957 this is what it said:
53 Tunnel Road
Berkeley 5, Cal
March 15, 1957
Mr. Edward L. Blacker
Dear Mr. Blacker:
"In a letter which you wrote Mrs. Fillmore Blankenship (see
Lillian Blacker) June 18, 1935 you gave her many interesting data
on the Blacker family and among other things said,
"Probably you are aware that there is a large important
Blacker family or branch in Ireland, they are located at
Carrick-blacker and vicinity".
"Now, I married a Miss Miriam Blacker (her father, George, was
a cousin of Lillian) way back in 1913. Today, in my retirement,
In am writing up a genealogical history for my three children and
6 1/2 grandchildren. Taking your letter (or rather a copy) as a
guide In immediately went to our library (University of
California) and this 'ozalid' print is a sample of my
"However, your fifth paragraph contains several sentences
which intrigue me:
"The history of the family dates back with considerable
certainty to the ninth century when the Northmen were spreading
down over the countries of Ireland, Scotland, England and France.
This history states that - - -. This history mentions that - - -.
(Roland was but picking up bits of some of my complete sentences
I had used in the letter to describe the little book "Blackers of
Carrickblacker"a copy of which In had made in 1929 in Birmingham,
England and to which In have referred to in Chapter In of this
account) (Roland continues):
"Is there a written history? Could you lend it to me or give
me a reference of some kind. In would be most careful with it -
both in copying and returning it.
"- - - My children graduated from the University of California
in 1936, 1941 and 1945 respectively.
"If you are interested I shall, upon completion of the Blacker
genealogy send you a copy. From one book (at the University
library) I learned that your great g g g -grandfather in 1300 or
just before, was Henry de Blakkar, which certainly confirms the
Roland W. Pinger
Colonel, Ordnance Dept.
U.S. Army (retired)
P.S. Aunt Lillian had dinner with us Thursday evening. She
will be 93 April 8, 1957. (At another time Roland said they
called Lillian "Aunt" because of age and respect. L.B.)
While Roland's letter was written on March 15th I did not receive
it until the 28th due to it having been addressed to Rupert and
taken to Mesa by brother, Roy. Due to the funeral in Rupert on
3rd of April, it was not until we returned by car to Riverside
that In had an opportunity to answer Mr. Pinger's letter which In
did on the 6th of April. With it, I mailed my copy of "Blackers
of Carrickblacker" in which Roland seemed so interested.
From the time of his receiving the history of the Irish
Blackers until his own passing on the 26th of December 1967, a
period of well over 10 1/2 years, he gave considerable attention
to what he felt to be a remarkable story. Mr. Pinger was not
content until he contacted a representative of the Irish family,
another military man, but of the Royal British Forces, one Lt.
Col. Latham Valentine S. Blacker who proved to be a son of the
author of the book. Years later he, the son, wrote a sequel to
his father's history, according to Mr. Pinger, but I have not had
an occasion to see it, for frankly, I never became excited about
it for I was interested in our own family and we never found a
possibility for a connection.
In think I can do no better to introduce the reader to Mr.
Roland Pinger than, to present the chart below showing our
relationship and his obituary. I, long ago, found the reading an
obituary of an individual to be an excellent means of
OBITUARY COL. R. W. PINGER MEMORIAL HELD
(Roland passed away Dec. 26, 1967)
"Berkeley - Memorial services were held yesterday for Col.
Roland W. Pinger, 78, who organized the ordnance division of the
University of California's department on military science and
tactics, and who was held for 37 days by bandits in China while
on Army duty there.
"A graduate of the U.C. College of Mechanics, he was
commissioned in the Army in 1910. He was assigned to organize an
ordnance division at U.C. in 1923 because there had been a lack
of ordnance officers in World War In. He recruited his R.O.T.C.
unit members from the colleges of mechanical and chemical
"His experience with the Chinese bandits occurred earlier in
1923 when he, his wife and two small sons were taken from a train
in Shantung Province with a group of other officers and
civilians. The women and children were released almost
immediately, the men 37 days later.
"In 1928 he was assigned to the office of chief of ordnance in
the war Department at Washington, D.C. His stations included the
Presidio, where he had begun his military career, for a second
tour of duty from 1937 to 1941. He retired in 1944 and returned
to the university, where he was a lecturer in the engineering
department until his second retirement, in 1956.
"Colonel Pinger was a member of the Tau Beta Pi engineering
honor society, the U.C. Faculty Club, Army and Navy Country Club
of Washington, D.C., the Berkeley Commons Club and the National
"His wife, Miriam Blacker Pinger, died in 1966. He is survived
by a son and daughter, Edward B. Pinger of Hillsborough and Mrs.
Barbara Riordan of Arcadia. Another son, Roland Jr., is dead.
Colonel Pinger's survivors also include three brothers and a
sister, Alfred W. Pinger of Concord, Harry G. Pinger of Pleasant
Hill, Frank W. Pinger of Napa and Verna E. Pinger of
"Services were held at McNary Chapel, with burial at the
Presidio National Cemetery in San Francisco."
Until Roland's passing our correspondence with the Pingers at
53 Tunnel Road was strictly with him. Since his decease - Miriam
preceding him - we have had occasional correspondence with
Miriam's sister, Dorothy, and Roland's and Miriam's daughter
We, Mabel and I, purposely made a trip to a Furniture Market
in San Francisco and, thence, a side trip to Berkeley, close by,
in the early 1960s to see Miriam and Roland at 53 Tunnel Road.
Their home was a stately house with eight to ten steps leading up
to the front door. The house, as I remember it, was somewhat of
colonial design such as could be seen on southern plantations
prior to Civil War times. It was outwardly square to the roof
line above the second story.
Inside, the house had beautiful hard wood floors with deep
carpet runners in the hallways and the couple rooms we saw had
nearly room-size rugs which could have been oriental rugs with
fringe - not quite wall to wall- with hardwood borders.
Naturally, the house was excellently kept up , with five or six
good- sized rooms on each of the two full floors. The open
stairway from the roomy main hallway had heavy, oaken, highly
polished posts with a heavier than normal bannister. The house
would certainly have required a cleaning woman to come in one or
two days a week and all this house - just for the two of them in
later years. They had undoubtedly raised their children here -
Roland Jr., until he married, but who, prior to our becoming
acquainted with the family, had passed away. Edward Blacker
Pinger, their second son, had lived there until marriage. He has
passed away since his father's and mother's passing, so Barbara
has informed us. Also, Barbara, youngest of the family and only
daughter was home until her marriage. She has divorced since her
father's passing, but she has remarried and has moved back to
Berkeley from her former home in Arcadia in the Los Angeles
Our brief visit was probably not more than an hour but it was
very pleasant. No one could have been made to feel more welcome
and, perhaps, Roland's greatest interest during this meeting was
our family-tree chart from about 1650 to near the date of our
visit. This chart contained all the Blacker families and children
we had then researched. The chart was on a six-foot long and
four-foot wide roll-up cloth window shade with approximately
one-thousand names. Both Roland and Miriam marveled at the family
being so extensive, and yet, with so much research on sidelines
yet to be done. In Roland's quite extensive correspondence with
us since that time he had had occasion to comment on the novelty,
as he put it, of such a chart.
Roland was very appreciative of what genealogy we were able to
supply him, particularly, of our ancestral families, those
families which Miriam had in common with us. Many years prior to
our acquaintance with Roland I had secured from several sources
the names of the family for several generations. What was
probably appreciated most by the Pingers was the photos of, as I
now remember, Florence Fielding, George Blacker and Elizabeth
Bowditch, Miriam's great grand-parents.
Originally, Roland had in mind the developing and extending of
his family genealogy in tree fashion , but when I introduced to
him the L.D.S. pedigree and family group system he was quite
overwhelmed and acknowledged that he was convinced that system
had many advantages. As he continued to write at a later date in
his "Long Letter to My Grandchildren" he had this to say,
"I thank Loyn Blacker for re-orienting me in another respect,
by enclosing a printed genealogical form which he has used in
recording the vital statistics of a single family. Until now I
have visualized the 'family tree' in a literal botanical sense,
in which the important elements are the tribal ones of roots,
trunk and branches, and the personal ones of leaf, blossom and
fruit. A general 'history' would do for the one, and biographical
sketches would suffice for the other. But now I realize that any
palm or pine analogy lacks something of great significance in
human experience - the basic group of father, mother, and their
children. Unless my grandchildren learn something of the
intra-family relationships, the aspirations and achievements of
the comprising individuals cannot be fully appreciated.
"Therefore, with neglecting the tribes and personalities as
such, I shall first deal with the single family units, such as
the Pingers of Buena Vista Way, or the Blackers of Blake Street.
It would be logical to start with the ancients and work down (or
up) to the moderns. Unfortunately, missing data make this
difficult, so I shall begin with the well-documented families,
hoping that time, luck, research, and tribal cooperation will
take care of the others. Perhaps, when I finish, the biographical
sketches will be less indispensable, for the essential
characteristics of the individuals may have already been
portrayed in the setting which gives truest significance.
"This procedure, however, raises two questions. First - when
does a family begin and end? Second - how much detail is
necessary? As to the first, I shall ordinarily begin with the
parents' wedding, consider the children until they are
marriageable, and the parents until death. As to detail, I shall
give only so much as is necessary to understand the family
experiences as a whole, leaving individual accounts to
auto-biographies if I can induce relatives to write them, or to
short 'sketches' by myself or others, if I cannot".
Naturally, I somewhat, had the advantage over Roland when it
came to family data for Roland was just starting his project
after a long and busy military career while, admittedly in my
spare time, I had been using Uncle Sam's postal system for well
over 25 years. In addition, my visit to Wales and Clutton
certainly provided an insight which, perhaps, I would never have
As Roland stated in his "Long Letter to My Grandchildren",
above on this page, he writes, "It would be logical to start with
the ancients and work down to the moderns" he later wrote:
"Actually, in the case of the Blackers, I did attempt the
logical procedure and by the first of April (1957) had completed
its 'ancient' history to the middle of page B14. This was
possible because of our great libraries at the University of
California, at Berkeley, and at San Francisco (Sutro). At the
first I read all about the Blackers of Carrickblacker in
"Burke's" various and ponderous volumes, and was intrigued by
Editor Barron's "Skoal to the Norseman" (1904) which satirized
(sometimes unfairly as I learned from the Crigglestone Pedigrees)
Major Latham Blacker's history of that family (1901-1903).
"Then a "bomb-shell" arrived - Edward Loyn Blacker's letter of
6 April 1957 in reply to my note of March 15, 1957 asking "What
History?" Not only did he lend me his precious copy of the
Carrickblacker brochure, but in a series of letters gave me all
kinds of additional data including the pictures of Miriam's
Roland was very appreciative of what we were able to supply
him , particularly, our ancestral families, those of which Miriam
had in common with us. Roland later pursued gathering historical
data on Miriam's close-in family ties with an interesting
"The story of James Blacker and Ann Williams and of their
ancestors in England, should have been written by a Blacker, or
at least by someone with Blacker blood in his veins - say their
son Harry Winfield Blacker who did indeed give me many useful
data September 1, 1940, twelve years after his elder brother
George Henry B. (my wife's father) died. But no one - even
George's four daughters - seemed to have the motivation - or knew
where to look for the needed information. So, as a loyal
son-in-law with children and grandchildren with Blacker
hemo-globin, I assumed the task.
"Fortunately I only completed 14 pages before encountering
Edward Loyn Blacker of Rupert, Idaho, through a long-ignored
letter of June 18, 1935 which he had written to B.H.B.'s cousin
(Lillian Blacker). Loyn proved to be descended from James'
brother, John (1818-1893) and a "Latter Day Saint". As such he
had already employed professional help, and run the Blackers of
Clutton, Somersetshire back to William Blacker, born about 1651
and buried there Mar. 6, 1821. (Does not seem right)
"Through Loyn, In made the acquaintance of many other Blackers
- Mormon and Gentile, Yorkshire, Armagh and Somersetshire etc., -
Gradually we seem to have supplemented each other, he emphasizing
the search for the exact ancestry of his and Miriam's family,
generation by generation, and I trying to find the inter-regional
Roland turned probably as much attention to his Pinger lines
of ancestry and soon ran into a rather common problem with
genealogical researchers and that was changes of names, oft times
within proven relationship. With this problem of the Pingers,
Pingrees, Pingrys etc. he concluded to search for authoritative
opinions and so, he reported to us later, wrote directly to
Archibald F. Bennett of the Genealogical Society at Salt Lake
City. At one point in writing of this experience he refers to
Brother Bennett as being Dr. Bennett. I think this was a title
which Roland felt was appropriate and certainly no harm was being
done, but we have no recollections of Brother Bennett ever having
matriculated with a PhD. Had Roland ever had an occasion to have
mentioned his Blacker efforts of research Brother Bennett would
have asked if he knew Loyn and Mabel Blacker. When we first
turned for professional counsel with our research, it was
Archibald F. Bennett who assisted us, in fact, subsequent to our
first becoming acquainted with him, we have entertained him in
our home on two or three separate occasions so we knew him very
well. At this point I cannot refrain from reporting an
interesting experience - interesting to me.
An Englishman, one Percival Boyd, a well to do and knighted
Britisher, in his retirement concluded to copy and have printed
as many English marriages as possible from parish registers prior
to Civil Registration in 1837, when the government then required
marriages to be registered. It is estimated Boyd and his crews
totally gathered approximately seven million marriage records
which have since become almost invaluable to English research.
Boyd died in about 1950 so his was not an ancient
Early in World War II, when the German Luftwaffe began bombing
London and before the British Spitfires had much capability in
defending Britain, bombs dropped on one of England's great
national repositories in one wing of which Percival Boyd was
storing his hundreds upon hundreds of volumes of marriages. The
president of that particular society and his wife were killed and
it is reported fire literally gutted the main portion of the
building, but the one wing of the building in which was stored
Boyd's records was saved.
Boyd, being aware of the value of his records, and who was
acquainted with the L.D.S. Church's program of gathering records,
telephoned President David O. McKay of the Mormon Church and
asked permission to crate a set of all of his marriage records
and, as early as possible, ship them to Salt Lake City to be
under the care of the Church. President McKay promptly accepted
the opportunity to watch over the records but, told Mr. Boyd
that, with his permission and upon their receipt, the Mormon
Church would microfilm the records and provide a duplicate
microfilm copy for Mr. Boyd.
To shorten a much longer story, Mr. Boyd crated his hundreds
of volumes and, with apprehension of the danger of ships being
sunk by the Germans, he made three separate shipments on
different boats - part of the cargo in a first boat, a part on a
second boat on a different date and, thirdly, the last portion on
a third boat on still a separate day.
One morning in the spring of the year - we were then living in
Evanston - I went to Salt Lake. As I recall it must have been in
1941 or perhaps 1942. As I walked into the Genealogical Library -
it was then in the old Joseph F. Smith building just behind where
the present Relief Society building now stands - I stepped into
Archibald F. Bennett's office. For many years he served as
secretary of the Genealogical Society of Utah. His door was open
and I stepped in as I had done nearly every time before when
visiting the library. We lived so far away we didn't go overly
often. He arose from behind his desk and shook my hand in a
gesture of welcome and immediately said, "Brother Blacker, I
want you to see what we have. Come with me."
I had no idea of what he was talking about, but we visited as
he led up two flights of stairs. We walked into a large ballroom
on the third floor and I could see four or five large crates in
the further corner of the room. As we entered the room, he told
me the story of the shipment of Boyd's records. He had carried
papers in his hand which proved to be Percival Boyd's description
of which counties in England had records in which crate. Each
crate was about the size of a large office desk and the steel
bands around two of the crates had been cut. The nailed-down lids
of two of the wooden crates, had been pried open but not wholly
taken off. They had been pried back from one end far enough for
one to reach inside. It was quite uncanny, and even Brother
Bennett was surprised that one of the boxes, according to its
number and the paper he was holding, contained the marriage
records of Somerset county, along with another county or two.
Looking down his index he found that there was a volume
containing Clutton parish records - the very parish in which I
was interested. Without much difficulty - there seemed to be a
ton of books in the crate - we stacked books in piles around the
crate until we finally reached Clutton.
After being in this process with brother Bennett for, perhaps,
30 minutes, he said, "Brother Blacker, I don't know what your
plans are for the day, but if you would like, you are welcome to
stay right here, - I'll get you a little table and a chair - and,
if you don't mind being alone you can spend the whole day or any
part of it you wish."
He said he must be about his work and as he was ready to leave
he said, "You can always claim the distinction of being the very
first patron who used Boyd's Marriage Index in America." I don't
know that that distinction every meant that much to me, but I did
spend several hours, searching, not only thru the Clutton parish
marriage registers, but also many of the surrounding parishes to
Clutton. I did find several records which were helpful to me.
Now, back to the story of Roland's problems with the various
spellings of the Pinger name. Some time after Roland wrote to
Archibald F. Bennett, the author of several books of genealogical
research, Roland reported - in fact, quoted directly from the
answer he received: " - - - As you expressly point out
(apparently Roland had presented his theory. L.B.) the theory of
its origin is not proved. (Roland inevitably underlined. L.B.)
However, your conclusion sounds plausible and natural. The story
of the development of many surnames is certainly no less extreme
than the theory that Pingre of Dauphine (a city. L.B.) eventually
changed by descendants in one line to Pingree, and in the other
to Pinger. All that remains is to trace both lines back and prove
that they actually passed through these supposed changes".
In Roland's search on his Pinger lines, he located a branch of
his family rather distantly related who were Pingrees of early
Mormon history and he, Roland, was elated seemingly as much
because they were Mormons as that they were his distant
relatives. All through Roland's writings anything having to do
with Mormons was rather a mark of distinction. As an example, the
suggestion he received from Archibald F. Bennett was nothing more
nor less than common sense, but this came from one who Roland
credited as being an authority on the subject.
As it does to all, sadness came into Roland's life. Roland was
adept in innovations which were peculiarly his own, such as
announcements. When he announced Miriam's passing away, he took a
regular sheet of typing paper such as this sheet now being used.
He folded it - top to bottom- and then folded it again and on the
inside quarter of the page to the left he printed - as only
Roland could print - beautifully done,
Miriam Blacker Pinger
died in her sleep in the
early morning of October
hundred and sixty-six.
Her urn is buried in the
hillside overlooking the
Golden Gate, in the national
cemetery at the Presidio
of San Francisco, California.
She was greatly loved by
all who knew her.
On the opposite side of the above announcement Roland wrote,
November 9, 1966
Dear Loyn and Mabel,
She had enjoyed many happy social events - her 76th birthday
on October 15th; a cousin's 40th wedding anniversary - even a
bridge luncheon on October 25th. But I persuaded her to spend the
day in bed on the 26th.
About 10 I kissed her goodnight and even peeked in shortly
after midnight. But Thursday morning when I brought up her
breakfast tray, she had just slipped away.
May the Heavenly Father be equally merciful to all of us.
Roland W. Pinger
Naturally our surprise and condolence were sent and our
correspondence continued as Roland's interest in his Pinger and
Blacker genealogy continued. Particularly did he continue to
pursue the possibility of a possible inter-family relationship
between the Blackers of Ireland, Wiltshire and Yorkshire, and he
was in quite regular contact with them. It was during these years
that Mabel and In were mailing the Family Organization Quarterly
letters and, naturally, Roland and Miriam were included on our
mailing list. Roland and Miriam expressed a great interest in
particularly the ones which included a biography of the children
of Edward and Althera Blacker family.
On occasion, naturally, we expressed appreciation to him and
commended him for his interest in family research and history and
in his letter of October 1, 1961 he replied, "I am particularly
grateful for your encouraging words about my modest efforts. Most
of my friends and relatives are indulgent with me and my 'old
man's hobby', but I not only enjoy it as such, but believe that
my grandchildren and their posterity will really be grateful as
time rolls on. You have the additional motive of your religion,
but I think the work worthwhile from 'general ethical and
cultural viewpoints'. I simply cannot believe that the present
moment is the only important thing in the history of mankind - or
On a few occasions in our correspondence - but not often - we
left genealogy temporarily for other topics including religion
and in most cases, I must give him credit for opening the topic.
He had supposed that my grandparents, Edward and Althera, came to
America specifically for the Church after joining in Wales. I
called his attention to the fact that Grandpa Edward never joined
the Mormon Church until considerable time after arriving in Almy,
Wyoming and that we can't give the Church credit, at least,
entirely for its promoting his and his family's passage to the
Roland had learned thru his Pingree research - Job Pingree, an
early Mormon convert - of the extensive proselyting program very
early in the Church's history in England. After his revealing
this to us n took the liberty to loan him Richard L. Evans' "The
First Century of Mormonism in Great Britain" which was printed in
At the time Roland returned the book he wrote:
15 June 1967
"Under separate cover I am returning your most interesting "Mormonism in Great Britain" by R. L. Evans. I dare say that it was your most useful handbook on your own missionary tour of duty a generation ago." (Interrupting his letter for a comment.)
Roland had dared wrong for it wasn't until seven years after
I returned that the book was even printed. Richard L. Evans, who
at the time of his writing the book had become the voice in the
ten radio and later the T.V. program "Music and the Spoken Word"
featuring the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.
When I, with other missionaries, landed in Southampton,
England on the 18th of February 1928, it was Richard L. Evans,
then secretary to the British Mission under President John A.
Widtsoe, who met us and accompanied us by train arriving in
London at 2 a.m. the next morning. The next morning three of us
were assigned to serve in the Ulster District in North Ireland.
Eleven months following that I was called by President Widtsoe to
serve as president of the Birmingham District, back in England.
It was here I again met Elder Richard L. Evans and for several
weeks until his mission release I had frequent occasion to meet
with and become personally acquainted. The readers of this
history who are L.D.S. will recall that in 1938 Richard L. Evans
was called to the presidency of the First Quorum of Seventy - a
General Authority of the Church - and in 1951 he was called as a
member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles. A long comment but back
to Roland's letter:
"I was particularly impressed by Chapter 27, "The Men Who Have
Come From Britain" which confirmed by theory that Mormonism is
very much an English religion, acceptable to certain Scandinavian
people for deep historical reasons, but perhaps less so to the
more purely Teutonic (but still Protestant) folk.
"Perhaps one of the reasons is literary. The King James
version of the Bible is still far superior as a work of art to
any of the more "accurate" modern translations. The Book of
Mormon written in almost identical 'style' therefore had great
appeal to Englishmen apart from the theological standpoint. The
German (of which nationality Roland was. L.B.) however, (except
perhaps those who enjoy Shakespeare of almost the same period) is
deeply affected by Luther's translation from the original Hebrew,
Greek, Aramaic etc. I doubt if any modern German translation of
Mormon could possibly have the same impact unless the translator
deliberately imitated the sonorous prose of Luther. As a child I
heard and was emotionally affected by the latter, even though I
understood few words. I suppose that Roman Catholics are
similarly inspired by the Latin - and some recent translation
into English because of the spiritual and psychological losses
"Personally I believe in the widest possible latitude in
religious thought. If there is a hereafter, it will come soon
enough at which time for answers will be known. It should be
sufficient in the meantime for us to be charitable to all men of
good will - Catholic, Protestant, Islamic, Buddhist, Brahmic,
Shintoist, etc. I have found so much common ground among all faiths that superficial differences mean
little to me. Of course this shocks many of my friends, but
perhaps not too much, for they at least believe in Ecumenical
progress - and that is in the right direction.
"Thanks again for lending me your book.
Roland W. Pinger
I must confess at this point I have had a serious weakness in
my letter writing which is that I have usually failed to retain a
duplicate of my personal letters going out. With business
letters, not so. With personal letters it would seem that it is
such a major accomplishment to get an original off that I don't
get to the duplicate. Just what I wrote back, I honestly do not
recall so now let me bridge the void and go directly to his
response to my letter. Little more than three weeks after his
previous letter he wrote:
7 July, 1967
"Many thanks for your personal letter of 25 July 1967 and for
your quarterly family letter of 1 June, 1967. I enjoyed both -
but particularly your story of your dear mother. It reminded me
that while I have written quite a complete account of the
"Pingers of Buena Vista Way" as parents and siblings, I have yet
to cover either my father or mother in a truly filial way. But I
did say: "In a future codicil I hope to tell you more about him.
He gave himself wholly to his family - I wish that we had patted
him on the back more frequently. - In many ways Mother's devotion
to her family required greater sacrifice and keener ingenuity
than did Dad's. In any case, only a separate story for her alone,
will do my mother justice. Dad died at 74 - Mother at all but 90,
she was ten years his junior.
"Your parents were older than myself, but much younger than my
parents. It is thus a little hard for me to realize that in
relatively modern times life in rural areas could have been quite
so difficult. But I guess that farming was a very uncertain way
to make a living, and, was only compensated by the
character-building effects upon children. And of course faith in
God helped a lot.
"Speaking of faith, please don't apologize for your interest
in mine - and I won't for my interest in yours. Of course we
won't agree in details - or even on what is detail, rather than
essential. But that is the way God made us. Man knows how to
breed animals so that individuals are almost identical and Dr.
C.P. Blacker, the eminent eugenicist thinks that man might yet do
the same with his own species. (This Dr. Blacker was a descendent
of the Irish Blackers then living in England with whom Roland
"But I see many values in diversity, and all the talk about
ecumenical integration leaves me a little cold. I do not
disbelieve God's revelation to Joseph Smith, Martin Luther, Joan
of Arc, etc. etc. But I do not disbelieve his revelation to me
"In Genesis 9, Noah saw the rainbow as a covenant of God. But
God has shown me (or rather some physicist before me) how I can
make a rainbow at will by putting the sun's rays through a glass
or even a plastic prism.
"To me it is quite a revelation to learn that the light from
the sun is not all the same wave-length or frequency (one being
the reciprocal of the other). Some are long (red) and some short
(violet); some are extra long (infra-red) and some extra short
(ultra-violet) - both invisible to my human eye but detectable by
other means. An Irishman may prefer green, an Ulsterman, orange;
a Russian, red etc. etc. But I can put them all back through
another prism and reproduce the original white sunlight! So be it
with all God's children. At 78 1/2 I shall soon know a lot more -
that what my wife and son already know".
Roland W. Pinger
And such was Roland Pinger's philosophic bend. Roland admitted
his religious philosophy was peculiarly of his own choosing. In
comparison on this subject, his and my conception of what it is
all about is about as far apart as are the earth's poles. I am
well aware that there are many who question that God has revealed
his overall plan for the human family - literally his children -
with sufficient clarity that there need be no such differences of
opinion but that doesn't mean that he hasn't for, in fact, he has
in sufficient detail in the writings of his prophets that no one
need remain confused.
God is the author of the plan of salvation - that plan which
will take any and everyone back into his, God's, presence - but
certainly it is going to be on his, God's terms. What man thinks
with all his philosophical deductions is not going to make it
otherwise than what God has decreed, for as the Lord said thru a
great prophet, Isaiah:
"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways,
saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so
are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your
thoughts" (Isaiah 55:8-9).
When we come to acknowledge that the plan of life has been
designed by someone who has an immeasurably greater ability and
greater foresight than we, we will then have to acknowledge that
the author of the plan, and, in fact, the creator of all, has
Divinity to separate him from us which gives explanation for his
greater ability and higher thoughts. Until we are able to accept
this fact, there is danger of floundering.
The plan to which is being referred is the gospel of Jesus
Christ which program is literally 'spelled' out in the scriptures
and no one needs to grope in uncertainty. Jesus, with his
Divinity, has pointed the way,
"Jesus said unto him (Thomas with whom he was in
conversation), I am the way, the truth, and the life; no man
cometh unto the Father but by me" (John 14:6).
More than simply accepting the name of Christ in one's own
mind, if convenient, audibly with a simple utterance from the lip
there are other essentials.
The Lord counseled,
"Jesus answered them, and said, My doctrine is not mine, but
his that sent me. If any man will do his will, he shall know of
the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself:
(John 7:16-17). And:
"He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that
loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and
I will love him, and will manifest myself to him" (John
The scriptures teach that commitments were to be made,
commandments to observe and faithfulness was to be maintained to
The Lord did not leave man to determine what was essential for
himself. Such leads to confusion for we do not interpret the
scriptures alike. One would go in one direction and another in
another direction. The Lord assured that prophets would be
provided to give direction and that they, in turn, would have
close contact with the heavens.
"Surely, the Lord god will do nothing, but he revealeth his
secret unto his servants the prophets" (Amos 3:7).
This simply says there never has been a time nor will there
ever be a time when Christ's true disciples will be on the earth
without a living prophet to direct them, which simply means that
the Lord will recognize his own organization on the earth and
deal with it thru prophets. Paul, the apostle, was very definite
relative to this being a fact when he said,
"And he gave some apostles; and some, prophets; and some
evangelists; and some pastors and teachers; (And he gave the
For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the
ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: (And he gave
the duration of such an organization. L.B.)
Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the
knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure
of the stature of the fullness of Christ" (Ephesians
What more direction can the Lord give us than he already has?
The fact that he is the only way; that he has given full
instructions as contained in the scriptures which were written by
prophets and apostles; the fact that he has provided prophets
thru whom the Lords's messages will be given to his children on
the earth, plus the fact that he has provided prophets throughout
the ages, including today.
And so, Roland and I differed in our religious thinking and
yet, I am sure, our love for each other was mutual. There has
been absolutely no ill feeling. And yet I feel far greater
security than he did. The scriptures have far more restrictions
than Roland wished to admit which is confirmed by the
"Personally I believe in the widest possible latitude in
religious thought. If there is a hereafter, it will come soon
enough at which time all answers will be known. It should be
sufficient in the meantime for us to be charitable to all men of
good will - Catholic, Protestant, Islamic, Buddhist, Brahmic,
"I have found so much common ground among all faiths that
superficial differences mean little to me. Of course this shocks
many of my friends, but perhaps not too much, for they at least
believe in Ecumenical progress - and that is in the right
My simple comments in rebuttal cannot be done better than to
quote a recognized Authority as already quoted:
"Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life;
no man cometh unto the Father, but by me: (John 14:6).
The latitude the Savior allows appears far more limited than
many of the philosophic segments would feel wise and justifiable
but didn't the Lord warn that "My ways are not man's ways"? We
can call it a lack of charity if we will, but when the Lord
speaks it would appear that it should be final. Again, observe
"Enter ye in at the strait gate; for wide is the gate, and
broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be
which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate and narrow is the
way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it"
Limitations? The scriptures are full of limitations, but these
limitations are to guarantee that we be free. It was Jesus who
said to those who believed:
"If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed;
And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free"
Life has continued since Roland passed away and his liberalism
of religious thought seems to ever be expanding in the pulpit and
the media when ministers of religion and, particularly, the
becoming-popular evangelists of the day are so successfully
lulling today's listeners into a state of false security by
over-simplifying the requirements to gain eternal life. They are
wilfully falsifying the Savior's plain and simple requirements
for entrance into heaven.
Alarmed at what is being taught, I have recently written a
brochure of about 135 pages of this size sheet, but with
double-space type with the sole intent to defend the teachings of
the scriptures which brochure I chose to title, "To Heaven the
Scripture Way". I think Roland would have been interested in it
but, maybe not, for he had already gently slapped my wrists when
"Speaking of faith, please don't apologize for your interest
in mine - and I won't for my interest in yours. Of course we
won't agree in details - or even on what is detail, rather than
essential. But that is the way God made us".
At this point this getting-older-grandfather feels a
compunction to veer a little from that which is strictly Blacker
historicity to claim a privilege and, perhaps, even an obligation
to counsel his children and grandchildren of the importance of
true religion in one's life, for truly one's willful neglect
today will never be compensated by tomorrow's repentance.
I cannot believe, as Roland had so sincerely hoped, that when
we once reach the other side thru the portal of death that we
will then know what we don't know here, and that Christ will
there be more readily understood and more readily accepted. I
cannot feel there will be such a transition in or through death.
When we open our eyes over there we will find ourselves the same
person we are when our eyes will be closed here.
If the truth is here in the scriptures - which we know that it
is - and we are unable or unwilling to find it, then we are but
fooling ourselves if we feel there will be a marked difference
there. As I go thru the door from one room to another in my own
home and the door closes behind me, I am no different than
before. Such will be the sameness in death. We are what we are
and death will not be death as we sometimes hope for, but only a
change of locality.
But Roland had resigned himself when he wrote, "But that is
the way God made us" but even he would have to agree that that
realization does not mean that that is the way we have to remain.
God, in fact, did give us the capacity to change. 'The Lord's
ways are not man's ways' is but a succinct statement which can
still allow that 'man's ways' don't have to remain that way,
particularly, when we only have to go to the scriptures to find
reason for change.
If Roland were only here, equal space for his defense would
gladly be offered. Roland, if by some chance you are looking
down, let us repeat again that we appreciate you.
Roland's last letter to us:
53 Tunnel Road
December 24, 1967
Dear Loyn and Mabel,
"I have not yet resumed Miriam's extensive Christmas card
procedure, but I do wish to thank you for your kind Yule-tide
message which arrived December 23, 1967. In return I shall merely
report that I am 'doing fine' in every important respect, and
hope that you and yours are doing the same and that Loyn has
overcome his 'flu'.
"I am keeping my house, day-a-week maid, hour-a-week gardener
etc., for the benefit of all 'Pingers', 'Blackers' etc. whatever
their present surnames. And there is still room for non-related
friends who may wish to enjoy my modest, self-helping
hospitality. Just let me know - or take 'pot luck'.
"As to my hobby (genealogy and family history), I, this year,
wrote two condensations of my much more voluminous "colored"
books - "The Pingers of the Middle Kingdom", and "The Blackers of
the United Kingdom" - also a thick manual entitled "Genealogy -
How Does One Get Started". Copies will be gladly lent to anyone
"As usual with those born February 2, 1889 or thereabouts, my
hope and joy is in my posterity - particularly in my eight
grandchildren, Sharon finished college and is now Mrs. Barry
Dowsett of Portland, Oregon. David, "Candy" and Bruce are in
college, while Steven, Jane, "Ned" and Whitney Ann are right on
their heels. I'm hoping to live long enough to see all through
college, and starting production on the next generation. (Roland
didn't live to see this 'hope' for two days later he had left us.
"Living in a college town of much and varied publicity, I am
not too worried. These young folks are basically pretty
intelligent people, lacking merely age and experience to become
well qualified fellow-citizens. Only a small percentage make
obnoxious noise. The majority may dress less formally, or visit
the barber less frequently than did their parents and
grandparents, but I'm sure that they will become substantial
members of our on-the-whole admirable society, once the
responsibility for earning a living - and helping others to do
likewise - tempers their more youthful enthusiasms. I love them
all, and hope that they reciprocate - even if I am past
"MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR,"
Roland W. Pinger
P.S. Sharon predicts I'll be a G.G. Pa next June.
Reader, Please note date of his letter - 24th Dec 1967. We were never more surprised, after much transpiring in Berkeley had subsided, this following letter arrived:
January 7, 1968
Dear Mr. Blacker -
We want you to know that Col. Pinger passed away suddenly
December 26th. He had a heart attack and died in his sleep. He
had had a wonderful Christmas with all his family and had already
mailed his Christmas thank you notes for gifts and cards. (His
letter above was one..L.B.)
We had a nice visit with him on the preceding Friday and he
looked very well. His death was a shock to everyone. Yesterday,
January 6th, a family memorial service was held. (The newspaper
announcement of this memorial was copied in this account on page
He held you in high regard and always enjoyed your letters. He
was busy with his writing right up to the end. What a perfect way
to end an active life!
With best wishes ----
Helen and Dorothy Blacker
(Miriam Pinger's sisters)
Yes, indeed, what a "perfect way".
Subsequently to our receiving this sad news, we wrote a letter
to Helen and Dorothy, a copy of which, on second thought, I
decided not to include in this history for fear that I am already
including too much of my personal comments.
During the years Roland had mailed us partial - two or three
pages here and a page there - of what he was doing, but we had
nothing one could classify as a complete product. Included in our
return letter to Helen and Dorothy, I asked if there was such a
thing as a finished product, if the family would permit us to
obtain a copy.
A few months later, without a reminder from us, this letter
April 16, 1968
Dear Loyn - -
"At long last 53 Tunnel Road (Roland's old address. L.B.) is
cleared out and ready for sale. Barbara left for her home in
Arcadia on Saturday. It was a big job - physically and
"Barbara took all Roland's genealogy material with her and
will get it sorted out - eventually. You'll hear from her in
"We had many good times at 53 Tunnel Road and it made us sad
to see it empty.
"Best wishes to both of you - -
P.S. Helen sends best wishes, too.
Letters from Berkeley have not been as nearly so frequent as
they were from Roland, but we do hear occasionally. Helen passed
away on May 8, 1980, and our last letter from Dorothy, which as
always, we appreciated so very much, was dated 31 January
In the meantime, Barbara mailed us a brochure her father had
compiled, portions of which I shall refer to within the next few
pages of this account. Also, since Roland passed away, his only
living son during our corresponding period passed away. Edward
Blacker Pinger, died in March of 1974 which leaves Barbara the
only daughter and now the only living child of Roland's and
Our last letter from Barbara was dated 2 February 1982. She
was divorced from her first husband in about 1972 and has since
remarried. She reports that her eldest son is now 34 and has
Barbara's first grandchild who was born 22 Sept 1981. Barbara has
moved back to Berkeley and lives in Dorothy's vicinity and
assists her in such chores as shopping etc. Dorothy is now 85 but
still active. Barbara is teaching United States history and
government in an adult education program to students from ages
eighteen to fifty.
George Blacker (1863-1928) = Rosina Barbara Bessler
- Olive (1886-1979) = Howard Gaines (1885-1943)
Miram (1890-1966) = Roland W. Pinger (1889-1967) Married 1913
- Muriel (1914) = Charles Reasoner (1908)
- Rosemary (1918) = Robert Caldwell (1917)
- Dorothea (1920) = Craford Galloway (1910)
- Roland Jr. (1914) = Carol Pape (1915)
- Edward Blacker (1920-1974) = Joan H. Whitney (1927)
- Barbara Ann (1924) = Barnard W. Riordan (1921-1079) [Divorved] Patrick Doyle (1927)
Hopefully the reader will keep in mind the Blacker-Bessler chart to assist in keeping
family branches in perspective.
By the reader following the Blacker-Bowditch chart, to assist in following
Roland's short history, let's quote direct from the portions he
titled JAMES BLACKER (1837-1893) who is the grandfather of the
Miriam, whom Roland married in 1913:
"At the age of 44 Elizabeth Bowditch had more than
accomplished her maternal mission - she had born and raised eight
children. But one thing she had neglected - to provide for your
future, my dear grandchildren. So, although she already had six
sons (and could have used a third daughter) she prayed for one
more. Her prayer being answered, she named the young man JAMES,
in honor of the King who had made it possible to read her Bible
in some of the best English prose that has ever been written. You
will note that this James Blacker was the first since the little
Jim of 1695. (Roland is here referring to the first Blacker
christening in the Clutton parish records - "24 Jan 1695, James,
son of William and Ann Blacker" which copy of entry I had sent to
Roland in 1957. L.B.) (By the way, this James does not fit into
our family pedigree. L.B.) William and George were the popular
names since the Stuarts gave way to the Hanoverians.
"James (b. August 1831) apparently lived happily with his
parents for about thirteen years. When his mother died (about
1850), Father George probably went to live with one of his
daughters - for 24 years until he too died in 1874. (Roland was
right with death of George, but too early for mother, Elizabeth.
Her tombstone - see page 27 - says she died in 1865. L.B.) But
James joined the family of his brother William, ten years his
senior. In this household he probably made himself very useful -
he had had no experience with babies at home, but Sarah could
certainly use a little help with her first six children, only two
of whom reach maturity - Margaret (1851-1885) and Elizabeth
(1852-1880). In any event he needed none of the basic motivations
for coming to America - "Economic, Political, Social, and
Religious". He just went along with the family.
"But what of elder brother William? Had Charles written of the
glories of William Penn's Forest? Was he, William, tired of the
danger, gloom and intrinsic black-dustiness of the coal-mines?
Where the mines of Clutton depleted after hundreds of year's
service to the hearths of local British homes? Was the coal
unsuited to the industries springing up all over northern England
(Somersetshire was and still is essentially agricultural) -
"non-coking", "high sulphur or phosphorus"? Was the coal
satisfactory but unprofitable, because of adverse freight
differentials? All these questions I would love to explore, but
not right now. But we do know that brother JOHN delayed the evil
day by moving first to Monmouthshire and then on to Wales leaving
the final move to America for his son Edward to make in 1883.
William decided to do it now, A.D. 1854. It would be interesting
to know how the other Cluttoners ("1400 inhabitants, largely coal
miners" according to "The Victoria History of the Counties of
England" Vol 2, page 487).
"Perhaps this is a good place to say something about "Old King
Coal" and the "pros and cons" of being one of his subjects. If
you care to look ahead to my 'Blackers of Blake Street' (Roland's
account of this family will eventually likewise be copied. L.B.)
you will see that James' son George eventually (1889) thumbed his
nose at O.K.C., but mostly because in America the self-respecting
Welsh, English and German miners had been largely replaced by all
kinds of low-grade Europeans, especially Slavs and people from
"In England it was entirely different. If you had to work with
your hands, mining was not a bad way to do it. Dangerous? Of
course, but not as bad as it was before Davy invented the safety
lamp. Degrading? Not at all, mining was a special craft, with
skills wholly unknown to certain nationalities. The world might
be full of valuable minerals, but extraction waited for the
Cornishman, Welshman or Southwestern Englishman with the economic
and manual "know-how". Dirty? Yes, if powdered carbon can be
called dirt. But only for a few hours a day; every miner ate his
supper as clean as hot water, soap and a scrubbing brush could
make him - seven times as clean as the average farmer who always
smelled like a barnyard, and ordinarily waited until Saturday
night for his purification. Inspiring? Not in the mine but wait
for "after supper", when in summer it was still light at 10
'clock - or Sunday, all day. Then did the miners tune their
voices into the harmony which has become famous the world over.
Digging and singing - they had an affinity which only a
psychologist can explain, and not convincingly at that.
"When the British miner resumed his traditional occupation in
the United States in the early days, he brought his standards
with him. Fairchild (page 249) says:
"A graphic comparison is given by Mr. F.J. Warne in his book,
"The Slav Invasion and the Mine Workers", says that, by the time
of the coming of the Slavs, the Irish, English, Welsh, Scotch,
and German mine workers had grown accustomed to a "social life of
some dignity and comfort". The English-speaking mine-worker
wanted a home and family. That home was usually a neat, two-story
frame house, with porch and yard. Within were pictures on the
walls, and carpets on the floors of the best rooms. He wished to
have no one as a permanent resident of the house save only his
own family, or very near relatives. He desired his wife to be
well dressed and comfortable, and his children to have the
benefits of school. His wants were always just beyond his wages,
and always increasing.
The Slav had no wife and children, and wished none. "He was
satisfied to live in almost any kind of place, to wear almost
anything that would clothe his nakedness, and to eat any kind of
food that would keep body and soul together. "He was content to
live in a one-room hut, built of driftwood and roofed with tin
from old powder cans - - -."
"To this I might add that the Englishman, unlike other
Europeans, already spoke English upon arrival. Moreover, he often
had a kind of tribal memory of earlier glory, worn down somewhat
by the principle of "primogeniture" of which he was the victim,
but by no means tarnished or shattered. One did not boast of such
things, however - - almost any Englishman could do the same if he
cared to take the trouble. Furthermore he did not apologize for
coming two or three hundred years late - personally, he had to
await birth - tribally, his people were getting along nicely in
Old England, when some of their contemporaries, impelled by one
or more of the four basic pressures sailed for the New.
"So in 1854 James, age 17, arrived in America and presumably
went to work in the anthracite mines of St. Clair, Schuylkill
County, Pennsylvania. Seven years later the Civil War broke out,
and Charles, now a 100% American, dashed off to it, as a Union
captain. James, much younger and not yet understanding much about
the issues involved, was in no hurry to enlist. Then a young lady
entered the picture and on May 22, 1862 they were married. The
next year little George Henry (my father-in-law - Miriam's
father) led the procession of 13 children. It was too late to get
into the war, but let's find out a little about that remarkable
woman, Ann Williams, of Abergavenny.
THE WILLIAMS OF ABERGAVENNY, MONMOUTHSHIRE
"By comparison with little Clutton, Abergavenny (pop 9,021 in
1921) was a metropolis.
"According to the Ency. Brit. (Vol. 1, p.41) it started as a
Roman border fort called Gobannium. The Normans built a castle
there for the same purpose. "At the siege of Abergavenny in 1182
(E.B. Vol. 5, p. 69) it is recorded that the Welsh arrows (from
Glamorganshire no doubt) could penetrate an oak door four inches
thick. No chain mail (light and well ventilate - R.W.P.) could
withstand such a blow, consequently plate armour was worm over
the mail shirt". As an ordnance officer I am proud of the Welsh
arrow, and the metallurgical skill of the fletcher y who made it.
But my hat is completely off to the Welshman who gave it the
"muzzle velocity". And I know where he got his power - from
digging coal - for the Romans or even such Danes or Saxons as
liked hot water in the baths of Bath, Wells, and similar places.
What a pity that the Saxons could not have shot such an arrow
(one would do) straight through William the Conk in 1066, instead
of letting some Norman softy plug poor Harold in the eye.
"John Williams, born in Abergavenny, could have made arrows
(at least the shafts) but chose the less bellicose trade of
carpenter. At the proper time he crossed the border into Wales
and took unto himself a wife, Mary Parker. Later, probably about
1840, with a daughter Margaret and another child (unnamed and
possibly unborn) they embarked for America. On the voyage the
little one died and was buried at sea. Without additional facts
we cannot fairly call this a "penalty of emigration", but we can
mention some of the conditions, which make one wonder how anybody
ever got across the sea - by "Mayflower", Elizabeth and Ann" (Jon
Whitney's ship of 1635) or later schooners, side-wheelers or
early "screw-drivers". Let me quote from Fairchild's
"There is a record of one ship which made the voyage in 1731
on which there was such a scarcity off food provided for the
passengers that they "had to live on rats and mice, which
were considered dainties. The price on board for a rat was eighteen
pence, and for a mouse an English sixpence. The captain was under
the impression that the passengers had considerable money and
valuables with them, and believing that he might profit by it, he
endeavored to reduce them to a state of starvation. He succeeded
too well, for out of the 156 passengers only 48 reached America".
"If we only knew how this benevolent Captain suffered for his
sins, perhaps we could get a modern Robert Southey to write
"God's Judgment on a Wicked Skipper".
Page 59: "Shipping conditions were still very bad. We are told
that in 1818 one ship from Amsterdam embarked about eleven
hundred persons for American. Out of these about five hundred
died, some of them before leaving the shores of Europe. Some
ships seem to have followed the practice of sailing from Europe
with a cargo of passengers, ostensibly for America, but instead
of following this course, stopping at some near-by island,
compelling their passengers to disembark, and then going back to
the mainland for a fresh load. It follows, of course, that a
large part of the immigrants who finally reached America arrived
in a most deplorable condition".
"Whatever the cause of the little one's death, John, Mary and
Margaret got to St. Clair, Pennsylvania, and there on April 9,
1842, Ann Williams arrived. I am sorry not to have a picture of
the whole family, but we do have a "tin-type" of Mary Parker
Williams, her daughter Ann Williams Blacker and Ann's eldest
child (Miriam's father) George Henry Blacker. We also have
one of latter with his father James Blacker. These and a dozen
more children will be discussed as "The Blackers of St.
THE BLACKERS OF SAINT CLAIR, PA.
"Forgive, please, my digression into one phase of sociology.
It is applicable to all American families, (Red Indians
excepted), and the earlier the migration, the worse the
situation, generally speaking. Fortunately, your ancestors were
made of sturdy material; unless something serious occurred, all
inconvenience was promptly forgotten in the exciting experiences
of the New World. Let us - - - list all the little Blacker
children who came to live with James and Ann in this little house
in St. Clair. (Roland here had a pencil sketch of the house about
3 inches x 4 inches).
- George Henry, Feb. 20, 1863
- Mary, Nov 28, 1875
- Hettie (Henrietta) June 30 1869
- Adessa, Sep 13 1871
- Charles, Nov 28, !875
- Fannie, Nov 28, 1875 (twin to Charles)
- Harry Winfield
- James Milton, Mar 5, 1885
"With its two stories, this little "salt box" (meaning house)
meets English specifications (see page 110). From the 'overhang'
I infer that the porch, for privacy, was in the rear, overlooking
the garden, flower and vegetable. But what has puzzled me is -
where did they all sleep? Today the mystery was solved. From her
memory of a visit in 1919 Miriam dredged up the secret - cradles
for the smallest and "trundle" beds for the next larger. Roland
Jr. age 4 1/2 slept in the one remaining after distribution to
the next generation.
"I am told that my own family of five children was quite noisy
- especially the four boys. My uncles always wondered how Louisa
(their sister) could possibly stand it. I know the answer to this
one myself - the Blackers of st. Clair set a reasonable total of
decibels, and then divided it twelve ways (George was married
before James Milton was born). So when little Roland and his
mother lived with the "Blake Streeters" during World War I, he
learned to speak very softly - like "Papa" (My name was "Daddie"
"Subsequent records are not very detailed, at least out here
in Berkeley. I shall give you what I have, however. (Roland here
repeats the names of the 13 children as above, but in this
instance adds historical notes which are important to us.
- George Henry married Rose (Rosina) Barbara Bessler on August 9, 1883. See "Blackers of Blake St".
- John ?
- Mary became Mrs. MacLaren, had three or four children, lived in Philadelphia, died in 1929
- Adessa became a trained nurse. We saw her on many occasions in Berkeley, Picatinny Arsenal, N.J. and Washington D.C. She was a handsome, capable, well-informed woman and would have made a wonderful wife and mother.
- Fred had a farm near St. Clair, wife, two daughters and sons Fred Jr., and Robert.
- Charles married but had no children. He died May 2, 1939
- Fannie (his twin) never married but lived in the 'salt box' after her mother died Nov. 22, 1923.
- Harry Winfield married May - and lived in Los Angeles where I believe that he had two or three small apartment houses, but no children.
- James Milton married Carrie - and had two sons, Francis and Jimmie, and one daughter Bessie and another later on - Adessa after her aunt. They were very attractive children as evidenced by a photograph (with Roland Jr.) of 1919. "Milton" is still living (a retired mail-carrier, I believe) - his two sons and their cousin Fred will keep the Blacker name going - I hope.
"They will do nothing for the coal mining business. That,
apparently, was taken over by Kipling's "lesser breeds, without
the Law", long ago. Thanks to John L. Lewis, these are doing
nicely these days and, as in the case of Mark Twain, Old King
Coal's death has been greatly exaggerated. Of course he has been
more than sick in Merrie Old England, and the new atomic power
plants won't do him any good. But he is still very much alive,
with quite a reasonable "expectancy".
William Blacker, son of George and Elizabeth Bowditch Blacker born in Clutton 1826. Probably the first Blacker immigrant. Brother of our John Blacker. Father of Florence Fielding and others.
James is the father of Fannie Blacker and George Henry who, in turn became father of Miriam Blacker Pinger,Helen and Dorothy. Also Olive and Stella
This family photo shows James Blacker’s widow, Ann Williams with eight of her children.
James Milton, back left is the father of James Milton (Jim and Hazel) of Mechanicsburg, PA.
George, center back is the father of Miriam and Sisters
THE BLACKERS OF BLAKE STREET
Captain Charles Blacker son of George and Elizabeth Bowditch Blacker, born 3 August, 1834 in Clutton. Died in September, 1919 in Pennsylvania. He served in the American Civil War, 1860-1865 for the Union. He is the father of Lillian Blacker Blankenship who moved to Berkley, California early in the 1900’s.
James Blacker the youngest son of George and Elizabeth Bowditch Blacker. August 10, 1837 – November 19, 1896. At 17 he joined his brother William and family and came to the U. S. in 1854. He married Ann Williams and they are the grandparents of Miriam Pinger and Jim Blacker of Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania.
Roland has compiled a brief history of his wife, Miriam's
father and mother and family - George Henry, her
father and Rosina Barbara Bessler, her mother. George Henry and
Rosina with three of their children moved from st. Clair,
Pennsylvania to Modesto, California shortly after Miriam was born
in 1890. Two new daughters came to their home in Modesto, namely
Helen born in 1892 and Dorothy, born in 1897. Roland's account
which shall be copied will give more details.
Unattached to his brief account, but serving as a Prelude,
Roland gives some excellent advice which will be copied here
because of possible application to any of us. As the reader will
recall, in an obituary which was copied on page 94 it mentions
Roland was a member of The National Genealogical Society of
Washington D.C. This article was copied from the March 1964
"SAVE YOUR GENEALOGICAL COLLECTION"
Recently the Society came into the possession of a
genealogical collection which represented the combined efforts of
work by a man and wife team. This in itself is not unusual, but
the fact that the collection would have been lost had not the
Society been informed that the collection was about to be
destroyed, is, I fear, too often the case. One member of the team
died several years ago and the other willed everything to an
organization that had no use for or interest in the genealogical
collection and, without a doubt, would have been destroyed had
not our Society taken steps to acquire and preserve it.
I wish to urge that each of you with a genealogical collection
of books, manuscripts, or papers, will the collection to a
genealogical society. Of course, I hope that you will consider
our Society. The national scope of our organization, coupled with
our library loan service, make our library an ideal location for
such collections, especially when one considers how mobile our
population is today. DO NOT LET YOUR GENEALOGICAL BOOKS AND
MATERIAL BE CAST ASIDE BY A RELATIVE OR FRIEND WHO DOES NOT
APPRECIATE THE TIME AND EFFORT YOU SPENT ON A MOST WORTHWHILE
PROJECT". (Roland then follows with a personal experience on his
This is the section of the family tree which had been lost.
Aunt Polly was going to send it to us. She had gone to special
efforts to have it traced back this far for her. But she moved to
Heaven before she got it sent to us. We do not know Stella's
whereabouts. Stella was her step-daughter. Of course the
Pinger-Blacker tribe now have plenty of descendants who would
gladly receive and preserve all parts of our collection. But if
not, consult the SUTRO LIBRARY at the UNIVERSITY OF SAN
FRANCISCO, TO WHICH I HAVE ALREADY SENT A THINK FOLDER OR TWO. It
will gladly recommend other depositories, in case of
duplications. BUT DON'T THROW THEM AWAY. R.W. Pinger 22 July 1964
and then he adds a postscript: (Or one of the L.D.S. Genealogical
libraries.) (And now we make a new start on Roland's history.
THE BLACKERS OF BLAKE STREET, BERKELEY, CALIF.
You might very well ask, my dear Grandchildren, why the story
of the BLACKERS OF BLAKE STREET should not be written by one of
the four living, highly literate daughters of that unique family,
rather than by me, a mere by-standing son-in-law. The answer is
that perhaps it will be - when the "Girls" get around to it. But
"tempus fugit" as the Romans said, so I am taking no chances.
Here is the tale as I, a man with but one good ear and that
usually uncocked, have absorbed the essential facts over the past
Like all respective families, this one began with a wedding -
in St. Clair, Pennsylvania, County of Schuylkill, on August 9,
1883. George Henry Blacker (b. Feb 20, 1963) was a tall
good-looking lad just ready to vote - Rose Barbara Bessler (b.
Nov 18, 1859) was a sweet, blue-eyed, blond and nearly
twenty-four. The Besslers knew that George was hardly a
"Gutsbesitzer" (landed proprietor), but in America they could
have asked the alternative Teutonic question, "Hat der junge Mann
Tactfully, they did not ask, for George had been helping his
own parents and their twelve younger children by working in the
anthracite mines, ever since he left school at fourteen. His
otherwise handsome Somersetshire face had many a little blue mark
on it, which he would carry to his grave - the indelible "tatoo"
of blasting powder on too short a fuse. (Actually Roland must
have been referring to an inherited Somerset face from his father
only for his mother's side were from Monmouthshire and young
George Henry was born in St. Clair. L.B.) But he had much love
for Rose, and Rose for him. How do I know? Just look at their
wedding certificate - there they are, sailing out on the deep,
wide sea of Matrimony, hand in hand - she with eyes only for him
- he (I hope) with half an eye on the pennant! (Roland inserted a
pencil copy of what must have been the original certificate with
a sketch of a chapel and a sailing vessel on blue colored water
with a green hilly background and a photo of each of the
participants with the names of the witnesses and the minister. At
the base of the certificate is a drawing of a tree indicating
undoubtedly, branches pertaining to a planned family. At the base
of the tree are the statistics of the ceremony. Crowning it all
are the words, "What therefore God had joined together let not
man put asunder" (Matt. 19:6 - L.B.) (Roland continues)
Of course it wasn't all sailing before the wind. Trade Unions
had not yet made mining a lucrative, if dangerous occupation, so
with Olive joining the crew in 1886 (Feb. 3rd), and Stella in
1888 (Oct 24), it soon became necessary to make a momentous
decision - stay East with Old King Coal, or over the rainbow to
the Pot-of-Gold in Sunny California? Horace Greeley's advice was
still valid, so West they went. But not without regrets- from
George's viewpoint old "Anthracite" was dead. Why make a little
black monument out of his own fossil self, and blow out the lamps
In Modesto, George quickly found work as a carpenter, for he
was a handy lad with tools. Presently the Blackers were joined by
Rose's parents "POP-POP" and MOM-MOM". The elder Besslers,
however, had been transplanted too late in life. Homesick and
very old (59 and 53 respectively) they had to be taken back to
St. Clair by the four Blackers. And when they returned to Penn's
Forest, it wasn't quite as green as they had remembered it. So,
"about face", and back to the "golden hills" of California. Now,
however, there was a short delay while third daughter, Miriam
logged in, late in 1890 (Oct 15). Then back through the
snowdrifts to marvelous Modesto! Pop-pop set up his loom in the
tank-house, and Mom-mom was always in demand, for she had three
more daughters in or near that town - each, except school-mom,
Emma, raising daughters until eventually there were ten in all.
Yes, there was one boy in the three families (Elbert Donkin), and
I always felt sorry for him until he grew up and produced a
couple of sons for company.
In 1899 (Apr 24) Christiana Lesser Bessler went to her reward,
and three years later (Apr 30, 1896) Gabriel followed. In the
meantime daughter No. 4, Helen had arrived (23 Dec, 1892) to
George and Rose. But there was sadness too, for in 1894 little
Stella, victim of what would probably be no problem for a modern
pediatrician, simply wasted away. She was a beautiful child, and
the religious faith which accepted the departure of her
grandparents, hardly sufficed when she was taken away from those
who loved her. But in 1897 (Oct 1) her place was filled by fifth
daughter, Dorothy. Perhaps the Lord's generosity was one reason
for economizing on but ONE NAME. Father Blacker (like Father
Graber of my mother's family) believed that third names should be
acquired by matrimony.
In 1900, Modesto was a typical "market town" - prosperous if
the surrounding farmers and ranchers were making money, and
depressed if they were not. Now they were NOT, and building
activities declined severely. So the Blackers had to leave their
many friends and relatives, and move to Napa. Mr. Williams, their
Methodist minister had already preceded them, and recommended
George to a local contractor as a highly qualified interior
"finisher" and cabinet-maker.
And that he was! Proof needed? Just look at any one of the
four Hope Chests which he carefully and successively made by hand
for each daughter as she reached the age of eligibility. Solid,
polished, mortised OAK, lined with fragrant CEDAR - they should
last for centuries. Miriam's has already been tested - twice
across the Pacific - twice through the Panama Canal, plus seven
or eight cross-country jeopardies at the hands of men with strong
arms but feeble minds. To be sure, it needs a little repair right
now, but not until I've finished this "history".
In my "Re-orientation (page 9) I said: "Finally, the Blackers
who did not inherit their father's soil usually received a good
education, enabling them to make a living in various occupations
While this applied specifically to the fathers with plenty of
sod under their feet, the instinct was the same with the
landless, and particularly with those for whom emigration had not
yet brought any great economic advantage. George Blacker's
education had not stopped when family necessity sent him into the
mines. By wide and discriminating reading he made himself a
literate, cultured, well-informed man in the truest sense of
those words. But he still believed that formal higher schooling
was the best foundation for a real education, and he was
determined that his children should have it.
So again, but no more, the Blackers migrated - this time to
the quiet, "homey" University town of Berkeley - named after
another George B. (Berkeley, Bishop of Cloyne 1685 - 1753) who in
his famous poem "On the Prospect of Planting Arts and Learning in
America" (of all places - R.W.P.) said:
"Westward the course of empire takes its way;
The four first acts already past,
A fifth shall close the drama with the day;
Time's noblest offspring is the last".
There he, George, had the good fortune to meet Mr. Hugill, who
lived on the campus just across the street from the little wooden
Methodist church. Mr. H was Superintendent of Buildings and
Grounds and George was his assistant for twenty-three years,
while hordes of Blacker, Donkin, Gaines and Pinger children took
their various degrees, and became teachers, physicians,
engineers, army officers, dentists, and the like. In turn, the
children's children did the same, but that, of course, is another
At first (1905) the Blacker family lived close to the campus
(Union Street), but presently they moved to a roomier home on
Blake Street. There to their consternation they found themselves
next door to a family with four boys - nice ones, too (the
Rushforths) and it was amazing that nothing ever happened
matrimonially. (Mr. Rushforth was an architect and designed both
the new Trinity church and the "Rose Window". (In this account of
the Blackers of Blake Street Roland did not relate the 'story'
behind the "Rose Window" , but just mentioned it in a postscript
to the story he addressed his grandchildren on the subject.
I have mentioned the beautiful "Rose Window" which your
great-grandmother Rose ("Bamma") gave to the Trinity
Methodist-Episcopal church in memory of her husband, George Henry
Blacker, who died on New Year's Day 1928. In one case I even
mentioned the curious misspelling on the brass plate - BLACKNER
instead of BLACKER, and said:
This must be corrected, otherwise a hundred years hence this
plate will be offered as proof that my honored father-in-law was
a pessimist, and not an optimist. I know better and loved him for
As an estimator of time I have evidently been an optimist
also, for in the eyes of some modern architects and young
ministers (and their lay brothers), Rose-windows are definitely
OUT, DEFENESTRATED, obsolete, etc. etc., and must be replaced as
soon as possible by symbols more acceptable to you and your
The current proposal to remove your ancestor's window and to
replace it with another focal symbol, a cross, may wither under
the disapproval of Trinity's older members who built the church
in 1928, and of younger members who sense the value of building
up tradition as the years roll by. It may even fail because
"progressives", young or old, may lack the money with which to
make the change. Of course they could resort to the "modern"
installment plan, or better yet, explain the income-tax quirks to
some wealthy widow or high-bracket businessman.
In any event the conscientious ICONOCLAST is with us again (he
has never disappeared for keeps), and a mere son-in-law like
myself and a "backslider" in the bargain, can do nothing. Well,
not quite nothing; I can write you a short sermon on
According to my Harper's Dictionary, an ICONOCLAST is "a
breaker or destroyer of images, especially those set up for
religious veneration". If I recall correctly, the early
iconoclasts distinguished between "graven images" and
two-dimensional ones, but some even objected to flat ones, if
they were in any degree representational. Abstractions, like
"rose-windows" were tolerated, and usually survived the
Reformation, Puritan excesses and the like, while statues often
had their heads and arms knocked off.
But if a "rose-window" represented nothing, what did it
symbolize? "Bamma's first name, ROSE? I think not. If I know
anything about my sweet mother-in-law's religious concepts, her
window merely meant:
"O, worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness:
Let the whole earth stand in awe of Him".
Surely we must agree that this rose-window is beautiful!
Round, too, like the earth and possibly our whole galaxy.
As a nominal Presbyterian (they say I am still a Deacon) but
more truly a Unitarian or Universalist (the two sects are about
to coalesce) , I have no dispute with those for whom Jesus'
historical instrument of martyrdom has significance; certainly
his corporeal removal from what would otherwise be a crucifix, is
to be commended. But its substitution for the larger, deeper,
more beautiful symbol of God's love and law in the Universe
(which we are only now beginning to comprehend) is beyond my
So, Grandchildren, while there is still time, and whenever you
are in Berkeley, seek the third of our ancestral "Trinity's"
(Miriam and I were married in No. 2 after meeting in No. 1) at
Durant and Dana (streets), stand reverently in the nave, and look
westward and upward. If you can remember the words from "Venite,
Exultemus Domino" (curiously omitted from the King James Bible,
but certainly on page 728 of George Blacker's Methodist Hymnal,
for I just checked it), you might quietly repeat:
"O, worship the Lord, in the beauty of holiness:
Let the whole earth stand in awe of Him".
In the meantime, for each of you I shall try to get a good
picture of the window while it is still in the central position
of reverence, and certainly before it is reduced to melted lead
and fragmented silicates. For unlike the sturdy carved stone
escutcheon which Colonel L.V.S. Blacker rescued from the
demolition of "Carrick-blacker", Rose's beautiful "rose-window"
may not survive displacement, when our "conscientious iconoclast"
begins his "sanctuarial renewal" program.
NOTE: In a separate notation and prior to the above comments
by five years a remodeling job was completed in about 1960 and
following the concern of removing the Rose Window - in its
original position in the nave it was too low to permit the new
design - it was, with great care, 'crated in place' and moved up
six feet without bringing it to the ground. Roland's above
history but told of the trauma encountered in his persuasion that
the window be retained. He was successful. Now, after this
'side-trip' in explaining the Rose-Window let us return to
Roland's story of the family at Blake Stree - L.B.
Still later, improving fortunes permitted the purchase of the
old "Bruce" mansion at 2211 Blake Street. Comodius in other
respects too, this house had not only a large dining-room and
"sitting" room, each with a fireplace, but a front "parlor" also
equipped with a beautiful mahogany fire-place, and better yet,
sliding doors by which isolation was easily accomplished. Little
wonder, then, that Olive "Graduate of Univ. of Cal., 1908) and
Howard Gaines (1909) there made the decision that sent bride and
groom tripping over the horse-block of 1911. This interrupted
Olive's teaching career for many years but Howard continued his
(teaching in the university), until his tragic fall in 1943.
The younger Blacker girls were a little dubious about the
parental sacrifice which a full four-year college course would
entail. So Miriam compromised on two years plus a secretarial
course and got herself a good job with Haviland and Tibbetts,
Consulting Engineers. (Prof. Tibbetts also taught me "Strength of
Materials" in 1907-8. R.W.P.) Helen and Dorothy took two-year
"Normal" courses and became primary school teachers. Helen
retired a few years ago (this writing was done by Rowland in
1957. L.B.) but "Dots" (Dorothy) still helps toddlers over the
threshold of learning, as she did for some of their parents and
even grand-parents. In a way, they've had a lot more children
than their older sisters (Helen and Dorothy never married. L.B.)
- certainly their nieces and nephews, plain and grand, will
always remember them with well-deserved affection.
In 1913 (Dec 30) the courting-room with the sliding doors
inspired another wedding - Miriam and Roland Pinger, First
Lieutenant of Ordnance & Second Lieutenant of Coat Artillery.
(Elsewhere Roland mentions that his brother-in-law, mentioned
earlier, Olive's husband, Howard Gaines, was a personal friend
and classmate. L.B.)
Through their common interest in male production of song
(George just loved the old Welsh ballads). Father Blacker had
known Roland for a long time, but he was a little doubtful of a
far-roving military career for his child. So Roland promised
that, come what may, Miriam would return to the parental roof at
least once each two years. And that promise was more than kept -
to the great joy of the Union Pacific and other railroads.
The big house with the iron fence (N. 2211) was always the
ancestral castle for the six grandchildren who presently joined
the Clan - how they loved the little room back of the kitchen
with all the wonderful objects, trinkets, gadgets, tools, toys
and what-have you which it contained. The first two (Muriel, July
3 1914 and Roland Jr., Nov 26, 1914) promptly re-christened
everyone. George became "Poppa" and Rose, "Bamma" a child
psychologist might tell us why. Helen became "Honie" and
"Dorothy, "Dodo". The next four accepted these names as final, so
have the rest of us. (The four: Rosemary, Jan. 6, 1918; Dorothea,
Jan 7, 1920; Edward, June 28, 1920, and Barbara, Oct. 8,
On New Year's Day in 1928 George Blacker, penalized no doubt
by his early years in the sunless dusty mines, went his way. The
new Trinity church was under construction, so the "Rose Window"
became his memorial. Rose lived on at Blake Street until at the
age of 85 it was no longer possible to give her the care her
bed-ridden condition demanded. So the old house was sold - the
"girls" took an apartment on Benvenue Avenue and "Bamma" went
into "Miss Howland's" across from Alta Bates Hospital, where she
lived for five more years, visited daily by her devoted
daughters. Years before she had told George that she wanted to be
above ground on Judgment Day, so in 1949 (Aug. 30th) we put her
beside her husband in Sunset Mausoleum. The voyage, begun so many
years ago, was over, and the world had been the better for
Mentioned but not sufficiently reviewed is another son of
James Blacker and Ann Williams, James Milton, born 27th of March
1885, probably in St. Clair, Pennsylvania. On the 12th of October
1910, he married Carrie Gerhart in Pottsville, Pa., and it was
here they raised their four children, Francis, born 1911; Bessie,
born 1913; James Milton II, born 1914; and Adessa, born 1920.
James Milton was a carpenter, which gave way to a long employment
in the U.S. postal service from which he eventually retired. The
following chart is a take off from bottom right of the Blacker-Bowditch chart.
With the passing of the years, we have forgotten the event
which first brought the names of James Milton Blacker and his
wife Hazel to our attention, but we now think it must have been
their visit to us probably as early as 1970, if not earlier.
There is a question as to whether or not we had corresponded
prior to their visit but we think not. During their visit West,
very likely on their way home from the west coast they stopped in
Rupert at our business. It so happened that both Mabel and I were
at the store at the time when they came in and introduced
themselves. What a joy it was to meet members of our family of
whom we had heard but had never met!
Jim and Hazel had been advised of us, probably for several
years, for Jim is a first cousin to Miriam Pinger and they had
been corresponding. Roland, by letter, had informed them of us
for Roland and we had been corresponding since the spring of
1957. We were pleasantly surprised to learn that Jim and Hazel's
oldest son, another James Milton and his wife, who were then
living in Texas, had named one of their sons William Loyn in
1967. This, indeed, has been deemed a great honor. None of their
particular family had ever met us before Jim and Hazel made
their, actually, out-of-their-way trip to Rupert.
We visited for possibly an hour at the store and tried to
persuade them that they should spend the night at our home, but
they claimed their schedule would not permit. For some reason our
hired help at the store was out at the time and we were unable to
leave the business. I did, however, drive to our home to pick up
our family chart and a copy of a history of my father and mother
which I, not long before, had completed which I presented to
Approximately forty years earlier, I had received from Jim's
Aunt Fannie, the names and dates of her brothers and sisters
which included James Milton, her youngest brother who was Jim's
father. Jim and Hazel were most cooperative and furnished us with
the names of their children and grandchildren with other
genealogical data, some of which came later by mail.
Ever since Jim's and Hazel's visit we have maintained rather
regular correspondence. As of this writing date - end of 1982 -
Jim has been retired from his active life's work, also with Uncle
Sam's postal service. Interestingly, Hazel retired the same year
Jim took his retirement. Hazel, for several years, has served as
food service director for the school lunch program in their area
which included nine schools, therefore, a sizable supervisory
Within the last year Hazel - Jim's secretary - wrote a brief
summary of their family's activities. I shall quote directly from
her letter of 2 March 1982.
James Blacker, my father-in-law, was a carpenter, then a mail
carrier until his retirement. His father, James, died from burns
received in a mine accident so, apparently, he remained in coal
mining as a life work.My husband worked in post office as a clerk
for 30 years until retirement.
Francis Blacker worked as a civilian employee in signal corps
Francis is now in New Jersey, but they move from state to
state. Had been in Florida, also Virginia.
Bessie worked in bank, also social security board in
Baltimore, Maryland, where she still lives.
Jim and I always lived in Pottsville, met through church and
Our sons: Jim, air force - Oliver, Georgia. Will retire
shortly and hopes to remain in that area. Bob, a senior planner
in IBM, Kingston, New York. Lives a few miles from there. Dan,
army. Works with guarding of prisoners etc., M.P. (Military
Police), stationed Leavenworth, Kansas.
Our close relationship with Jim and Hazel has proven another
great blessing to us which has come thru our interest in family
togetherness. They have become very dear to us and, really, could
fit in our society as literally a brother and sister. These folk,
as other Blacker families, have made us proud to be one of their
Known as the Blackers of St. Claire, Pennsylvania, four generations are depicted in this photo. The eldest being a son of the “17 year old James, who came to America with his brother William and family. ” Left James Milton III, born 1939; center, James Milton I born 1885; right James Milton II, born 1914 and husband of Hazel of Mechanicsburg, PA. Front youngest James Eugene, born 1961. The Picture was taken in 1963.
Hazel and Jim Blacker at their home in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania.
Both retired at the time of the picture in 1981.
She had served for many years as the director of the public school lunch program in a district of several schools.
Jim had served as a postal clerk until reaching retirement.
In approximately 1970 Jim and Hazel Blacker gave the Loyn Blackers a surprise visit at our furniture business in Rupert.
They had just previously visited with their relatives, the Pingers and other Blackers in Berkeley, California.
Left to Right: Jim, Mabel, Loyn, Hazel