About Della Dale Smith-Pistelli
I'm originally from Southern California, but have also lived in Pompano Beach, Florida, Northern California, Portland, Oregon, North Hanover, New Jersey, and now Brenham, Texas, a small town about half way between Houston and Austin. My third great grandfather, James Henry Rollins, was one of the original settlers of San Bernardino, California, when the Mormons were sent there from Utah in 1851, one hundred years before I was born. His father, John Porter Rollins died in a shipping accident on Lake Erie in about 1820 when James was just 4 years old. His mother was Keziah Katurah Van Benthuysen, a Dutch girl whose ancestors came from Holland to New Amsterdam (New York) in the 1650's. After her husband died, she sent James Henry and his two sisters to live with her sister, Elizabeth Van Benthuysen and her husband, Sidney Algernon Gilbert, who had no children of their own. James Henry Rollins and his sisters, mother, aunt and uncle joined the Mormon Church in Ohio in the 1830's and moved from Ohio to Missouri, then Illinois, Iowa, Utah, California, back to Utah, and finally Wyoming where James Henry Rollins passed away in 1899.
James Henry Rollins had 9 children with his first wife, Evaline Walker Rollins, who was the daughter of Oliver Walker and Nancy Cressy of New York and New Jersey. When the church sent him to San Bernardino, California, in 1851 they instructed him to take a plural wife, an English girl, Hannah Hulme, who had been assisting James and Evaline in their home with household duties and raising of their children. James married Hannah before departing for San Bernardino, and they had 13 children together.
James and Evaline's, John Henry Rollins, Sr., married Nancy Malinda West, daughter of Samuel Walker West and Margaret Cooper of Tennessee, who were early pioneers arriving in Utah in 1851. They left Utah in about 1879 and settled in Snowflake, Arizona, in 1880 when it was the wild frontier. They encountered lots of problems with outlaws, Indians, and the natural disasters common to those times. They had eleven children, but sadly four of them died young, including my great grandfather, John Henry Rollins, Jr., who was killed at the age of just 24 years old when he fell from a wagon in which he was riding and his head was crushed. His 20-year old widow, my great grandmother, Dortha Roxana Madsen, the daughter of a Danish immigrant, was left with two children to raise alone, her daughter, and my grandmother, Dortha Evelyn Rollins and son John Delbert Rollins. Eight years later she married an Arizona Sheriff, Joseph T. McKinney, and they had four more children, but later separated, and she moved to California sometime between 1910 and 1920.
Another branch of my family tree includes an interesting great-grandfather and second great-grandfather, James Joseph Eubank, and Stephen Green Eubank, who were carpenters from Tennessee. James Joseph Eubank enlisted in Company C of the 124th Illinois Infantry in 1862 and was wounded in the battle of Vicksburg during the Civil War, fighting for the Union. Prior to the war, James had gone to California for the Gold Rush in the 1850's leaving his first wife and two young sons behind, but did not return to Illinois until about 8 years later around 1861. He was surprised to learn his first wife had remarried, thinking he died out in California, and had four more children with her second husband.
James Joseph Eubank's father, Stephen Green Eubank, was supposedly a friend of Abraham Lincoln, who built cabinets and a desk for Lincoln which was on display at the 1904 World's Fair in St. Louis, Missouri. Ironically, Stephen's father-in-law, James Branch, owned seventeen slaves per the 1820 U.S. Federal Census. Perhaps that is why his grandson fought on the side of the Union and not the Confederacy in the Civil War. Thank goodness Stephen did not keep the slaves given to him by his Branch in-laws after his wife Susannah Q. Branch Eubank died in 1833 in Palmyra, Missouri, during a cholera epidemic. Stephen's second wife, Mary Ann Phillips, died in 1841 from consumption, but his third wife, Sarah Armstrong Waggoner Eubank, who was 24 years his junior, bore him 13 more children, the last being born only two years before Stephen's death in 1872. Stephen received two patents for improvements to a clothes washing machine he designed in 1869 and 1870. His religion was Swedenborgian according to family papers. His wife, Susannah Branch's family were all Southern Baptists.
I'm told my third great-grandfather, Samuel Walker West, was descended from English Royalty, and supposedly, the state of Delaware was named after one of these ancestors. Samuel Walker West's wife, Margaret Cooper West, was from a prominent southern family who owned a 1,000 acre plantation in Tennessee in the early 1800's. They also owned slaves but gave them up when they joined the Mormon Church in 1834 and moved from Tennessee to Kentucky briefly before gathering with the Saints in Nauvoo, Illinois, in about 1842. Their plantation in Tennessee had been given to Margaret by one of her mother's uncles for his service in the Revolutionary War.
My second and third great-grandfathers, Christian and Jacob Christensen Madsen, came to America from Denmark in the 1850's. Christian married into the Welker family, who arrived in the USA from Germany in the late 1700's. The Welker's had also married into the Dustin family, who came to America from England in the 1640's. The Madsen, Welker, Dustin, West, Rollins, Van Benthuysen, Walker and Cressy families were all early members of the LDS Church. Many of them served as bishops for the church including John Welker, Samuel Walker West, and James Henry Rollins.
My father's family, the Smith's, were Quakers who had migrated from Pennsylvania to Ohio and then to Indiana, and later he and his brother moved to Kansas in about 1894, where they worked as farmers from about 1894 to 1922 when the family moved to Venice, California, due to my grandfather's health. Supposedly he had asthma and could not tolerate the "Dust Bowl Days" of Kansas according to my father. Sadly, he died just a few years later in 1928 when my father was only 18 years old. My father's mother, Mattie Estella Scott Smith, was a Christian Scientist whose family moved to Kansas from North Carolina two years after the Civil War ended. Her father, Thomas Benton Scott, was born in North Carolina in 1845, and her mother, Luzena Elmina Couch Scott, was also born in North Carolina in 1846. They were married in North Carolina in 1866. Elmina died in Kansas in 1898, but Thomas lived another 23 years and died in Kansas City, Missouri, in 1921.
One of my most interesting ancestors was my 8th great-grandmother, Hannah Dustin, who lived in Haverhill, Massachusetts, in 1697, when she was captured by Indians. They killed Hannah's twelfth child, a six-day old baby daughter, by bashing her brains out against a tree. Later, with the assistance of other captives including her friend/midwife and a 14-year old boy, Hannah killed her Indian captors, took their scalps, and returned to Massachusetts to claim a bounty for the scalps. There are two different statues commemorating her bravery in New Hampshire and Massachusetts. It is believed she was the first woman ever immortalized by a statue in her honor in the United States. She had one more child, a daughter, about a year after she returned from her capture. Had she not escaped, the Indians had planned to take her and other captives to Canada where they would have been sold into slavery.
I graduated from John H. Francis Polytechnic High School in Sun Valley, California, when I was 16 years old and in December of 1968 took a job with the Department of Public Social Services of Los Angeles County. After 4 years I decided I'd had enough of government work and went to work for the Los Angeles County Employees Association, where I worked as the assistant to the legal advocate to the Civil Service Commission. After that I ended up spending most of the remainder of the 1970's in Marketing Communications in the computer industry. Then in the 1980's and 1990's, I worked for an exhibit/museum design and production company for eighteen years. The travel got too intense so in 1998 I went into real estate sales and management and worked for two of the largest real estate brokerage firms in the country, Coldwell Banker and Prudential Real Estate. After moving to Texas, I worked for 5 years with a conference management company in Bryan-College Station, the home of Texas A&M University, and now I'm the CEO of DS & Associates of Brenham, Texas, and basically retired.
I'm working to expand my family tree in order to help my second cousins, Meili and Tai Eubank, who are half Chinese, know more about our family history. A few other interesting ancestors in my family tree were:
William "The Conqueror", King of England, 24th great-grandfather.
Edward I "Longshanks", King of England, 21st great grandfather.
Richard FitzAlan, 10th Earl of Arundel, 19th great-grandfather.
Edward IV Plantagenet, King of England, 14th great grandfather.
Sir Thomas Mirfyn, Lord Mayor of London, 14th great grandfather.
Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom, Elizabeth II Alexandra Mary Windsor, 12th cousin.
John Fitzgerald Kennedy, the 35th President of the United States, 13th cousin.
Marlon Brando, American Actor, 14th cousin.
Marilyn Monroe, American Actress, 13th cousin once removed.
Brian Wilson of The Beach Boys, 10th cousin once removed.
Tom Selleck, American Actor, 10th cousin twice removed.
English Rolling Stones Vocalist Sir Mick Jagger, 16th cousin once removed.
American Country Music Singer/Actress Reba McEntire, 12th cousin.
Henry VIII, King of England, Ireland and France, 1st cousin 14 times removed.
George Washington, 1st President of the USA, 7th cousin 5 times removed.
Aaron Burr, Jr., 3rd Vice President of the USA, 6th cousin 6 times removed.
Alexander Hamilton, 1st Secretary of the United States Treasury, 10th cousin 7 times removed.
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