(Student #3 AMH 2010 1115)
Blair Family Research
My research all started with a lady named Viola Dalley, a murderer. I chose this casefile of Viola Dalley from an assortment of criminal profiles. These criminals interested me and I was expecting to find something juicy. I knew already, from the casefile, that Viola Dalley was sentenced to life for first degree murder at the age of 25, and was from Riverside California. Through knowing this I searched on google finding nothing but information about the Tehachapi prison, where she was sentenced. I then went on Ancestry.com and searched for Viola Dalley, and I kept stumbling, not being able to find Viola. Eventually I saw her name and a number that looked familiar, this number was her prison number in the picture on the casefile. I found her and now I had to connect the pieces. Ancestry.com told me she was widowed so I started expecting to find something involving her killing her husband. I could not find any of her relatives on ancestry, so I went to Newspapers.com. Here I found that Viola killed her 1 day old baby, wrapped him in newspaper and threw the body into a river. Police found Viola by seeing who subscribed to the newspaper the baby was wrapped in, because it was a Seattle paper. Viola was 1 of 2 subscribers and she was quickly tracked down and sentenced. I was on to something, I just needed to find more of her family to get anywhere, but unfortunately I could not, and this was frustrating. At this time my teacher, Dr. Soldani, told me that if I wanted to, I could change my research project to searching my family tree, instead of being stuck on the baby killer. I was hesitant to do this because Viola seemed interesting and my family seems somewhat blank. After being stuck a little longer, I decided to switch over to starting my research on my Family Tree.
I started to dig into my family tree, on my moms side, and relative after relative just seemed to be dying off without moving anywhere. My mom is from West Virginia, which I already knew, including my Grandma, Patsy Wriston. As I looked through the men in her family no one had moved from west virginia since 1763. I started looking at my moms, dads side of the family, and they all stayed planted in Virginia and West Virginia as well. This was beginning to become very frustrating, finding nothing worth researching. Also being very frustrated because my dads side of the family is much harder to track down, so I decided to keep digging in my moms side because there has to be something in it. I start looking at many different censuses. I’m looking down the column of birthplace and only see West Virginia, West Virginia, Virginia, and West Virginia. I finally get out of West Virginia, where I started to find what was thoroughly shocking.
As I was saying, everybody in my family has been living in Virginia or West Virginia for over two hundred years. The first person I stumbled upon that was not born in Virginia was Reason Wriston, my 5th great grandpa, who was born in Maryland in 1763. I can only Imagine that Reason moved to Virginia because of all of the chaos with the protesting of British Rule in 1965 with the protest of the Stamp Act. After Reason moved, my family has been planted ever since. This could be because the Virginias were a fertile place for living and they had no reason to leave. Looking through the censuses my family were all either farmers or retail merchants, and they all lived on a farm. Many people were settling in Virginia and finding themselves not needing to or wanting to leave Virginia. This could be sort of like France when they had New France, there was no reason to migrate to America when they did not need to. This alone is a discovery in itself, how people do not leave Virginia, but it was not quenching my appetite and I wanted to find something more. I started searching further back in my family and saw Reason Wriston’s Father, John Clifford Wriston, was born in Devon England and died in Maryland when Reason was born. This is who in my family came to America, sometime between 1740 and 1763. I saw John's Mother's name was Dorothy Frost and this name caught my eye for some reason. I saw Dorothy died in Salem, Massachusetts 1798, and my mind was racing thinking what if she died in the Salem Witch Trials, but I was way wrong because the witch trials were a hundred years before her death. This was disappointing but I thought if she was in Salem maybe her parents or grandparents could have been in Salem during the trials. Now I was looking at the Frost side of my family that I have not seen before. I looked at Dorothy's father, John Frost, and was scrolling through, but there was nothing. I kept thinking, with a name like Frost, they are bound to have done something great. As I scrolled all the way down through John Frost I caught a glance that said his Father, Major Charles Frost was killed by Indians, and this really started to spark my imagination. Major Charles Frost was one of the highest ranked military leaders in Maine. He was killed by the Indians on his way back from a meeting on July 4, 1697. Indians despised Charles because of his success in fighting them. After Charles was killed and buried, the Indians dug up his body and hoisted him on a pole on Frost’s Hill. After this, they placed a giant flat stone rock where he was buried at the spot of the attack. This giant rock is known as Ambush Rock in Eliot Maine, with a plaque on it remembering Charles Frost. 200 years later there was a anniversary ceremony in Eliot Maine commemorating Charles and the old history of the town .
I started with a casefile of a random criminal and ended up finding that my 9th great grandfather was a famous war Major. If I would have kept digging into the original casefile of Viola Dalley, I would have never seen how my family has lived or the legacy's it has left over the past hundreds of years. This research started with some lady I never knew and ended with finding out my family has been a bunch of settlers and that there is a huge rock in Maine with my relative, Charles Frost’s, name on it.