The Blacker Epic Chapter 7

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 families.

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 from England:

"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.

Dear Loyn,

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 Blankenship.

"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 family.

Much love from cousin,
Lillian Blankenship"
(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 burner.

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 from Clutton.

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 children.

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.,
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Edward L. Blacker
Rupert, Idaho
Dear Sir:

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 again. 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.
Pottsville, Pa.

Mr. Edward Blacker,
Rupert, Idaho

Dear Sir:

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 advantage.

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 casualty.

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 previously.

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 this account.

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.

Home of Roland and Miriam Blacker Pinger in Berkley California

On 19 September 2020 I received the following in an email from Mary Swearingen:

I found your genealogy for the Blacker family which included information for the Pingers on the web. I recently acquired a scrapbook of pictures that included several of the Pingers, one of Barabara, several of Edward, and some of their father Roland Pinger. Some of them, were taken in the Philippines. My father was a Capt in the Ordinance division of the Army after WWI. And he and Roland must have worked together.

If you would be interested in these pictures, or if you know of anyone in the Pinger/Riordan family that might like to have these, please let me know.

She sent the pictures to me with a letter of explanation. The pictures are of Roland, Miriam and their three children Roland Wilber Junior, Edward Blacker and Barbara Ann. The letter and pictures are shown below.

Ruth Blacker Waite - 14 November 2020

Roland and Edward in the Phillipines in January 1921
Miriam and Edward in the Phillipines on 8 May 1921
Roland Jr. age 7 years 1 month, Edward age 19 months and Miram on 1 January 1922
Edward in April 1922 at Baguio City, Phillipines
Roland Jr, Roland and Edward in Manilla, Phillipines in March 1923
Barbara age 1 year 2 ½ months on 25 December 1925


"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.)

1889-1967, Col. Roland W. Pinger - 1941
1890-1966 Miriam Blacker Pinger - 1941 Daughter of George and Rosina and a granddaughter of James Blacker

"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 family.

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
Rupert, Idaho

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 research).

"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 Norse origin."

Sincerely, 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 introduction.

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 engineering.

"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 Genealogical Association.

"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 Berkeley.

"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 Barbara.

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 area.

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 had, otherwise.

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 great-grandparents".

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 apology:

"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 relationships".

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 compilation.

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 twenty-seventh, nineteen 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. Sincerely, 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 of myself".

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 New World.

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 I took the liberty to loan him Richard L. Evans' "The First Century of Mormonism in Great Britain" which was printed in 1937.

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 involved.

"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
Dear Loyn:

"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 corresponded. L.B.)

"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 either.

"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 14:21).

The scriptures teach that commitments were to be made, commandments to observe and faithfulness was to be maintained to the end.

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 reason. L.B.)

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 4:11-13).

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 following:

"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, 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".

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 limitations,

"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" (Matt. 7:13-14).

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" (John 8:31-32).

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 he wrote,

"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
Berkeley, Calif.
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 interested.

"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. L.B.)

"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 thirty.


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:

Berkeley, California
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 94. L.B.)

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 arrived:

Berkeley, California
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 emotionally.

"Barbara took all Roland's genealogy material with her and will get it sorted out - eventually. You'll hear from her in time.

"We had many good times at 53 Tunnel Road and it made us sad to see it empty.

"Best wishes to both of you - -
Dorothy Blacker

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 1982.

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 Miriam's family.

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
  1. Olive (1886-1979) = Howard Gaines (1885-1943)
    • Muriel (1914) = Charles Reasoner (1908)
    • Rosemary (1918) = Robert Caldwell (1917)
    • Dorothea (1920) = Craford Galloway (1910)
  2. Stella (1888--1894)
  3. Miram (1890-1966) = Roland W. Pinger (1889-1967) Married 1913
    • Roland Jr. (1914) = Carol Pape (1915)
    • Edward Blacker (1920-1974) = Joan H. Whitney (1927)
    • Barbara Ann (1924) = Barnard W. Riordan (1921-1979) [Divorved] Patrick Doyle (1927)
  4. Helen (1892-1980)
  5. Dorothy (1897)

Hopefully the reader will keep in mind the above 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 south-eastern countries.

"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.


"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 "Immigration".

"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". Page 39.

"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. Clair".


A drawing of the Blacker home in St. Clair

"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.

  1. George Henry, Feb. 20, 1863
  2. John
  3. Mary
  4. Bessie
  5. Hettie (Henrietta) June 30 1869
  6. Adessa, Sep 13 1871
  7. Fred
  8. William
  9. Charles, Nov 28, !875
  10. Fannie, Nov 28, 1875
  11. Harry Winfield
  12. Ena
  13. James Milton, Mar 5, 1885

"With its two stories, this little "salt box" (meaning house) meets English specifications. 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" or "Dad")

"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. L.B.)

  1. George Henry married Rose (Rosina) Barbara Bessler on August 9, 1883. See "Blackers of Blake St".
  2. John ?
  3. Mary became Mrs. MacLaren, had three or four children, lived in Philadelphia, died in 1929
  4. Bessie?
  5. Hettie?
  6. 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.
  7. Fred had a farm near St. Clair, wife, two daughters and sons Fred Jr., and Robert.
  8. William?
  9. Charles married but had no children. He died May 2, 1939
  10. Fannie (his twin) never married but lived in the 'salt box' after her mother died Nov. 22, 1923.
  11. Harry Winfield married May - and lived in Los Angeles where I believe that he had two or three small apartment houses, but no children.
  12. Ena?
  13. 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.</p>

"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. He served in the Civil War from 1861 to 1865 for the Union.
Captain Charles Blacker son of George and Elizabeth Bowditch Blacker, born 3 August, 1834 in Clutton. He served in the American Civil War, 1860-1865 for the Union. His daughter, Lilian Augusta married George Fillmore Blankenship and moved to California before 1900. The 1910 census shows Charles living in Atalanta, Georgia with his second wife, Willie and their two daughters. Willie died in 1917 and is buried in Georgia. Charles then moved to live with Lillian and George. He died 28 September 1919 and is buried in the Mountain View Cemetery in Oakland, Alameda, California.
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
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
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 served for the Union during the Civil War as a soldier in Company B of the Pennsylvania 14 Infantry. After he was released from the army he married Ann Williams, they are the grandparents of Miriam Blacker 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 Quarterly:


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 Pinger line)

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. L.B.)


George Henry Blacker is the first cousin of Edward Blacker. Their fathers were brothers.

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 half-century.

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, 1863) 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 Prrroperty."

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 forever?

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 and places".

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 story.

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. L.B.)

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 it.

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 parent's generation.

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 ICONOCLASM.

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 understanding.

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


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, 1924).

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 it.

R.W. Pinger
May 1957

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 them.

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 position.

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 and radar.

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 school work.

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 family number.

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