Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas 2012

Hello Friends and Family,

2012 has been quite a year.  This year, we lost a number of  people that were near and dear to our hearts.  First was Vicki Hong, who we have known ever since I got started in the hotel industry back in the 1980's.  In fact both of our families got to know each other very well over the years.  She died while shopping for shoes, which is the way she would have wanted it, but she died way to young.

Father Larry was one of the original priests at our church when we first moved to El Sobrante.  He was Irish and had a wonderful wit.  Both of my daughters served with him when they were alter-servers.  This kind soul is now resting in heaven.

Probably the most difficult passing, was the passing away of Jamito Smith.  I had known his since he was a boy.  I had worked briefly with his dad at the Hotel Durant back in 1980 -81.  Jamito's dad passed away way too young and when he did, Jamito stepped up to the plate as the man of the house and the leader of his extended family.  Jamito was married less than a year when he passed away of cancer, a terrible disease that Jamito fought tooth and nail each day of the last few years of his life.  Jamito is part of a very large family, who all loved and respected him.  He was a gentle giant and is dearly missed.  He was far too young. He never made it to 40.

Just when you thought that enough, was enough, Lee O. Fisher died.  He died while working as a surveyor, a job which he loved.  Mr. Fisher was a very special man to many of us around my age who were in Boy Scouts.  We all benefited by his participation.  I can't remember him missing a camping trip, even though no one was busier, Mr Fisher always had time.  He was the father of a real life Brady Bunch.  It turns out you never really know someone until it is too late.  Mr Fisher was a true hero and accepted all as his own.  There was quite a turn out at his service, even though it was during the week. Lee Fisher will not soon be forgotten.

Fortunately, the entire year did was not filled with death and sadness.  A major branch of our family managed to find us.  We all are direct descendants of my Great, Great Grandfather John Bear.  Leona Bear and Henry Alfred Bear were brother and sister.  Many years ago, these two branches of the family lost track of each other, but this year, we were once again united thanks to my cousin Nick! I have had the pleasure of meeting a number of descendants of Leona Bear, including Larry who lives pretty close by and I am proud to call each and every one of them family.

This year, I got to play in the COHS alumni water polo match.  This was the third match that I've had the pleasure of participating in.  I consider each match a blessing.

I got to spend a lot of time with friends from school during my visits to Southern California; but once again, death struck and we lost classmate Bob Davila.  I knew Bob from swimming and water polo.  I have only seen him a couple of times after 35 years, but each time he was very kind of complimentary to me.  I enjoyed watching him play bass guitar.  He was really good.

Finally, Christmas at my house is a major event.  My wife's family celebrates on the eve and my family celebrates on Christmas day, so my kids have always been spoiled and celebrate both, but wait... there's more.  My in-laws anniversary is December 23, so Christmas really becomes a 3 day affair at our house.

I am grateful for everything I have, especially my family and friends and I have my health.  The picture at the top of this blog entry includes my in-laws, who live with us as well as my wife and two daughters.  We are especially fortunate this year to have my two nephews and sister-in-law who all immigrated to the USA about 9 years ago.  Both nephews serve in the US Air Force.  They were not born Americans, they chose to become Americans and serve in our armed forces.  They came here legally. 

I realize just how lucky I am, because I have the best friends and family in the world and the rest of you are stuck with me!

Wishing all of you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

More Family History

Monday, February 6, 2012


Here is some information I want to share with you, about the connection between Sweeney’s, Phillips and Bear families.

The emails are from a fellow genealogist, who has been working on the Jennings family line. Rebecca Jennings married my gg grandfather, Edward Sweeney. Rebecca had a brother named Morgan. Morgan is in Kathryns family line.

I will send my family tree as soon as I can find a little time.

From Kathryn Knewson

email address

Sent via email on

Dear Ed,

Edward and Rebecca Jennings had nine children. Of those, I have only been able to find where three of them, Mary, Juliett and Edward, married. Juliett married a Civil War veteran, Chester Phillips and had three children. The boys were Jonathan and Edward Phillips. The only girl, Sarah Phillips married John Bear. I am unsure of exactly how many children they had but they did have a son, Henry who served in the Spanish-American War. I have a copy of the pension record which states that Henry who was married and evidently had several children, was committed to a VA Mental Institute where he died more than 25 years later, never having gotten well enough to return home.

I came across the Bear family connection when I found Henry living with his grandparents, Chester and Juliett Sweeny Phillips in the 1900 census.

Mary Sweeny married a James Anderson on December 2, 1861. I believe they had at least one child, Amanda Anderson who I found living with the Sweeny's in the 1880 census. Amanda was age 15.

What does idiotic mean in the census? I am not sure. The census taker would not be a mental health professional nor was their much understanding of mental health. It is possible that they were just a little different or maybe only marginally retarded or it is possible that they had a physical handicap. Idiotic in the 1800's did not mean then what it needs know. Venango County does have an institute for mentally retarded children but I have not been able to get any records. I talked to a woman who worked there and she stated that while she was there, part of her job was burning old patient records. These orders to destroy these records means that there would be no record of any of the

patients from long ago. I do not know at what year they were to stop burning records.

1850 census - only Jonathan is listed as being idiotic

1860 census - none are listed as being idiotic

1870 census - only Jonathan is listed as being idiotic

1880 census - There parents are deceased. Sarah is listed as head of household.

Jonathan, Martha, Jemima and Rebecca are listed as being idiotic

There are many questions on this family that I do not have. I know no one to ask so I have to dig for the information.

I have never been able to find where the Sweeny's are buried. (Chester Phillips is buried at Cooperstown. There is no

stone for his wife but that doesn't mean that she's not buried there. I find no record of any of their children being

buried there or anyone with the surnames Sweeny, Phillips, or Bear). The Sweeny's lived in Cooperstown. It is

possible that Edward and Rebecca Jennings Sweeny were buried at the old Pioneer Cemetery in Cooperstown which I

have not gone through but it does not explain where their children are buried.


Kathryn Newson

The following is from Kathryn Newson, sent via email on Feb 1, 2000. This is the will of Chester Phillips son in law of Edward Sweeny Sr.

I, Chester Phillps of Jackson Township, Venango County, PA being of sound mind but weak of body and believing that my departure from this life near at hand and that I may be better prepared to pass from this time to Eternity,do make this my last will and testament. Revoking or making dead all or any former wills by me made. First I, command my soul to Almighty God my Creator my body to be berried in Keas Graveyard and to my daughter Sarah Culbertson I do give and bequeath all I own or possess in personal property and real estate on the following conditions that she gives me a pleasant berrial and pay what little bills I may be owing and gives each of my boys John and Edward $5.00 and I do constitute and appoint H.A Bear, my grandson sole executor of this my last will and testament.

signed Chester Phillips May 1909.

From Kathryn Knewson

email address

Sent via email on 1/30/2000

I do not have that much more information on the descendants of Edward and Rebecca (Jennings) Sweeney. You always refer to him as John instead of Edward. Why? I have never found his name given as John.
Sarah Phillips who m John Bear on 16 Dec. 1875 had 3 children that I have been able to find but there may be more. 1) Henry Alfred b 9 Nov. 1878; 2) Manda E. who according to the census records was born about 1878 which either means that Henry and Manda were twins or the census record is wrong; 3) Leona b ? m ____ Nelson who is the only sibling listed in Henry's military record.
1) Henry Alfred Bear whom I found in the census records at least once to be living with the Sweeney's, d 2 Nov. 1952 at the VA Hospital at Chillecothe, Ohio, buried Franklin Cemetery, Franklin, PA., m Sara Gertrude McGruff on 12 April 1905 in Olean, NY. They had 5 children: a) Charles, b) Isabelle, possibly never married; c) Robert; d) Donald; e) Chester. Henry served in the Spanish-American War. I have a copy of Henry's pension record. The VA Hospital that he died in and where he had been a patient for many years, was a hospital that the VA used for "Mental Illness". I don't remember if the record ever gave a diagnosis or not. I have never had a military record that was so large.
As far as the Jennings family, Jacob was the youngest of 5 surviving children of Zebulon (Jr.) and Joanna/Johanna (Little) Jennings. Zebulon Jr. was b 26 Nov. 1735 in NJ, d 16 Oct. 1776, buried at Westfield, NJ. Zebulon (Jr.) served in the Revolutionary War with the 1st Regiiment of Minute men of Suffolk Co., NY. I have been told that Zebulon supposedly died as a result of injuries sustained at the Battle of Long Island but I have never been able to confirm this. Several people have entered the DAR through Zebulon Jennings (Jr.). Zebulon married 17 June 1762 in the Presbyterian Church, Westfield, NJ. Joanna/Johanna was b 15 Sept. 1746. I have seen her first name spelled both ways and I'm not sure which way is correct. In his will, Zebulon bequeathed his elder dau, Sarah, 5 pounds, & his younger dau Susannah, 3 pounds. To his 3 surviving sons, Henry, Jonathan, & Jacob, he gave 3 pounds & all of his lands. After Zebulon's death, his widow m Ephraim Woodruff & had at least 1 child, a dau. Sometime between 1785 & 1790, this family left NJ and came to Fayette Co., PA. Jacob was the only one of the children who came north. The rest went west and are found in Washington Co., Ohio (Marietta area).
Zebulon Jennings (Sr.) was b 1709 d 1777, buried at Westfield, NJ. He m 1st Sarah _____ d 31 March 1770, buried at Westfield, NJ. (I have been told that Sarah was supposedly b in 1724 but I find that difficult to believe since her son Zebulon (Jr.) was b in 1735. She would only have been 11 years old). I have only found reference to them having one child, Zebulon. Zebulon (Sr.) m 2nd Rebecca Squire. Zebulon's will was proved in Trenton, NJ in 1777. In it he bequeathed all of his property to his wife Rebecca during her lifetime & at her death it was to go to his 3 grandsons, Henry, Jonathan, & Jacob. (Zebulon Jr. was already dead). Zebulon (Sr.) was an elder in the Westfield Presbyterian Church.
Zebulon (Sr.) was one of the 7 brothers although some think that perhaps they were no closer than cousins. They were: Joseph; Zebulon b 1709; Jacob b 1711; Benjamin b 1716; Jonathan, John, and David. At least the father of Benjamin has been proven to be Benjamin. It cannot be proven who was the emigrant ancestor. Therefore the American history begins with Benjamin who was probably either a son or grandson of the emigrant.
Kathryn Newson

1880 Federal Census. Jackson Township, Venango County, PA. Enumerated June 2 &3. 1880. Sheet 3; Line 30; House 30; Family 30.

Born Where Father Mother

Name Age Relation About Born Born Born Occupation

Chester Phillips 50 Head 1830 PA PA PA Farmer

Juliet Phillips 53 Wife 1827 PA Ireland PA Keeping House

Jonathon Phillips 24 Son 1856 PA PA PA At Home

Edward Phillips 22 Son 1858 PA PA PA At Home

1880 Federal Census Notes.

1. The curse continues as both Jonathon and Edward are Idiotic (mentally Challenged), just as their

aunts Martha Sweeney (1001-2.05), Jemima (1001-2.06), and Rebecca (1001-2.08) and their uncle Jonathan Sweeney (1001-2.04) were.

Living Next to Chester in 1880, was his mother. Sheet 3; Line 19; House 28; Family 28.

Born Where Father Mother

Name Age Relation About Born Born Born Occupation

Sarah Phillips 65 Head 1815 PA PA PA Keeping House

Jacob Phillips 28 Son 1852 PA PA PA Farmer

Michael C. Baugher 62 Border 1818 PA PA PA None

Lawrence Baugher 15 Son 1865 PA PA PA Farm Labor

Living next to Sarah Phillips in 1880 was her grandaughter Sarah R. (Phillips Bear). Sheet 3; Line 15; House 27; Family 27.

Born Where Father Mother

Name Age Relation About Born Born Born Occupation

John Bear 26 Head 1854 PA PA PA Farmer

Sarah R. Bear 20 Wife 1860 PA PA PA Keeping House

Meanda Bear 2 Dau 1878 PA PA PA At Home

Henry C. Bear 7-mo. Son 1879 PA PA PA At Home

1880 Federal Census Notes.

1. Sarah R. (Phillips) Bear is the daughter and youngest child of Chester and Juliet Phillips.

2. She is living next to her grandmother Sarah Phillips, who is living next to her son Chester and his wife Juliet.

1900 Federal Census. Jackson Township. Enumerated on June 6, 1900. Sheet 10; Line 12; House 65; Family 65.


Month Year Where Father Mother

Name Age Relation Born Born Born Born Born Occupation

Charles Phillips 71 Head Oct 1828 PA PA PA Farmer

Hanliett Phillips 73 Wife Jun 1826 PA Ireland PA None

John Phillips 35 Son Nov 1864 PA PA PA Farm Labor

Edward Phillips 32 Son Mar 1868 PA PA PA Farm labor

Sarah Sweeny 65 Servant Nov 1837 PA Ireland PA Servant

Jemima Sweeny 65 Sis in law Feb 1835 PA Ireland PA None

Henry A. Bear 20 Grand Son Nov 1880 PA PA PA Machinist on Lathe.

1900 Federal Census Notes.

1. Charles is Chester Phillips.

2. Hanliett (Should be) Juliet (Sweeney), Phillips. Census Taker did poor job of taking this census.

3. Chester and Juliett have been married for 48 years at this time.

4. Sarah Sweeny is employed as the Phillips family servant.

5. Jemima has no occupation as she is Idiotic (mentally challenged)

6. Apparently Jonathon, Martha, Rebecca have all died since the last census report of 1880. The 1890

federal census for PA was destroyed by fire.

7. Henry went on to fight in WWI. After the war he suffered from Post Tramatic Stress Diorder and ended up living out his final years in a Veteran's home, where he died.

8. Chester was a veteran of the Civil War.

9. Jonathon and Edward are both idiotic (mentally challenged).

1910 Federal Census. For Connellsville Township, Ward -5, Fayette County, PA, Taken On 1910 that On Page , at House ; and Family Shows: Approx. Approx.

Month Year Where Father Mother

Name Age Relation Born Born Born Born Occupation

Sarah G, Bear 31 Wife 1879

Charles M. Bear 3 Son 1907

Mary Isabel Bear 2 Dau 1908

Catherine Gales 23

1910 Federal Census Notes.

1. Sarah is shown as a wife.

2. They are renting this house.

3. Henry A. Bear, husband was a Railroad Engineer and was probably on a run somewhere.

1920 Federal Census: West Newton (Ward 1) Township, Westmoreland County, PA, Taken On that On Page , at House ; and Family Shows: Approx. Approx.

Month Year Where Father Mother

Name Age Relation Born Born Born Born Born Occupation

Henry A. Bear 40 Head 1880 PA PA PA Railroad Engineer

Sarah Bear 39 Wife 1881 PA PA PA Keeping House

Charles Bear 13 Son 1907 PA PA PA Not Working

Isabel 12 Dau 1908 PA PA PA Not Working

Robert Bear 9 Son 1911 PA PA PA

Donald Bear 7 Son 1913 PA PA PA

Chester Bear 5 Son 1915 PA PA PA

1920 Federal Census Notes.

1. Sometime after this Census, Henry was committed to the VA hospital for Mental issues. He was in hospital for 25 years before he died. He died at VA Hospital.

1930 Federal Census: Franklin (3rd Ward) Township, Venango County, PA, Taken On April 10, 1930 that On Page 11-A and 11-B, at House ; and Family Shows:

Year Where Father Mother

Name Age Relation Born Born Born Born Occupation

Sarah Bear 52 Wife 1881 PA PA PA Keeping House

Isabel 22 Dau 1908 PA PA PA Teaching School

Robert Bear 19 Son 1911 PA PA PA

Donald Bear 17 Son 1913 PA PA PA

Chester Bear 16 Son 1915 PA PA PA

1920 Federal Census Notes.

1. Sometime after this Census, Henry was committed to the VA hospital for mental issues. He was in hospital for 25 years before he died. He died at VA Hospital.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Finding More Family (Bear - Sweeny)

We received this email. It is so exciting to connect with family that we assumed was lost forever! Will keep you posted.


Sunday, January 22, 2012
Dear Ed.

My name is Duane Edward Sweeny, III, I too, go by "Ed". I saw the Bear Family Web page and found some of my family members named on the Bear Family Tree., I am sending this email to let you know that you and I, are distantly related. My Juliet Sweeney married Chester Arthur Phillips and they had three children, one of which was Sarah Phillips. Sarah married John Bear and they had at least two children: 1. Meanda? born in 1878 2. Henry Alfred Bear, born in Nov. 1879 and I believe he died on February 10, 1922. Henry had served in the Spanish American War, and sometime after spent many years in a Veteran's hospital. He ended up committing suicide.

I have attached a copy of a genealogy report that shows my Sweeney/Sweeny blood line. I don't know if you are the genealogist for the Bear family or not, but I would like to contact the family genealogist so we can compare notes and share other information about our families.

I, am so happy to have finally foud the connection of the Bear and Sweeney/Sweeny families. Please contact me or let the family genealogist contact me.

Thank you, for your time.

Ed Sweeny.

Monday, January 2, 2012

2012 New Years Resolutions

The first portion is my resolutions for 2012. Below that is a recap of how I did in 2011.

Clean Garage.

Tear out gazebo and build new deck in the back yard.

Improve disaster preparedness.

Get an AARP card.

Play in the COHS alumni waterpolo game.

Seeing more COHS friends.

Get more active: Hiking or swimming.

Improve our financial situation (reduce debt)

Canning: Trade with more people that can; make: speghetti sauce, soup. Add to methods of canning such as freezing and using wax

Be More Green:

Plant more ginger, herbs, lettuce ...

Increase the number of LED lights in use.

Better composting

So, here is how I did in 2011:

Get an AARP card and use it. I did not do this. I guess getting an AARP card would make me feel really old!

Read a book that is not related to work. Done. Cobra by Frederick Forsyth, my favorite living author.

Play in the COHS alumni waterpolo game. Done So glad that I did! This year, I got the coaches phone number and registered my email address when I was at the game, so I hope finding out when it is for 2012 will not be a problem like it has been in the past.

Seeing more COHS friends. Done. This continues to be one of the most rewarding things I do.

Get more active: Hiking or swimming. Nope. I better do a better job in 2012.

Improve our financial situation (reduce debt). Yes, but still have a long way to go.

Canning: Trade with more people that can; make: speghetti sauce, soup. Add to methods of canning such as freezing and using wax. Yes and no. Pam McKovich is big into canning and food storage. We are doing a lot together. I did no make spaghetti sauce, but traded with a friend that made some. I did not make soup and did not pursue freezing (in jars) or using wax.

Be More Green: Yes, but there is always room for improvement. This year, we bought another Hybrid car and increased the number lights in use.

Plant more ginger, herbs and lettuce. No, but I did plant two banana trees and a blueberry bush.

Increase the number of LED lights in use. Yes. Very pleased with our progress.

Better composting. Not really.

Let fruit we grow not go to waste. Did better. Will never be perfect.