Posted in Family History, Pyatt

Military Career of Charles Alfred Pyatt

Private First Class Charles A. Pyatt

Charles Alfred Pyatt (1896-1985), my paternal grandfather, was a young man of 22 in 1918. World War I was in full force across the sea in Europe. He was inducted into the Army on May 28, 1918. He became part of the 88th Division, 349th Infantry, Company “M”.


The 88th Division originated and was trained at Camp Dodge outside of Des Moines, Iowa.

Company “M” of the 349th Infantry left the United States aboard the RMS Olympic (the Titanic sister ship) out of New York on August 9, 1918. They arrived in Southhampton, England on August 16, 1918. Over the next few days, they boarded ships to Le Harve, France.

RMS Olympic in “dazzle” camouflage
Charles A. Pyatt on Passenger List

“The 88th Division although not permitted to come to France until the summer of 1918, trained and sent forty thousand men to France with other units to represent it gloriously there. Immediately on arrival in France, it was rushed into the line in a quiet sector. Without transportation, without equipment, the Division rendered a splendid account of itself in the Haute Alsace sector. By its activity there it prevented the Germans from withdrawing troops on the south to be sent against our forces in the Meuse Argonne offensive. By its activity in Haute Alsace and by its presence later as IV American Army Corps and Second American Army Reserve it permitted other American Divisions to be used directly with the First American Army in the Argonne Forest and along the Meuse.”

Excerpt from the book “The 88th Division in the World War 1914-1918”. (See reference below).

The war ended November 11, 1918. But the 88th would have to wait for transportation back until May 1919. The troops initially received more military training but commanders soon realizing this training would not benefit the troops once they returned to the United States.  A new school was built for training troops in agriculture, automotive repair, carpentry and various trades that would prepare them for their return to civilian life.  Many took this opportunity to see Europe with many leaves granted to the men allowing them to visit Britain, Spain and various other countries.
On May 19, 1919, the 349th Infantry was among the first of the 88th Division to leave France and return to the United States. Company “M” departed aboard the SS Rijndam at St. Nazaire, France and returned to Hoboken, New Jersey on May 30, 1919. Troops boarded trains back to Camp Dodge where they were returned to civilian status and many then returned to their previous lives.


Rijndam passenger list
Charles A. Pyatt on Rijndam passenger list

**I discovered this book on Google Books. Click here for the link to take you to this book. On page 135 I found my grandfather’s name and hometown listed among the roster of men in the 88th Division, Charles A. Pyatt, Chetopa, Kan. I also found another “Pyatt” on the roster, also in the 349th but in Company “F”. James W. Pyatt, Gladden, Mo. After researching I have discovered that James is Charles’ cousin. They were both on the Olympic together traveling to France and on the Rijndam on the way back. Somehow it gives me comfort knowing that my grandfather was with his cousin during this episode of his life.


Posted in Family History

Advent Calendar Memories – The Christmas Tree

This is a post from 5 years ago. We certainly have downsized Christmas since then in anticipation of our move to our townhouse. But, we still have the same traditions!

Kathi O'Neill Genealogy

Did you have a real tree or was it artificial? How big was the tree? Who decorated the tree? What types of Christmas tree did your ancestors have?

This is a picture of my Christmas tree this year.  It is a 9 foot pre-lit artificial tree. It is a beautiful tree fits perfectly in our picture window! When my son was younger we always purchased a real tree.  Not just one tree, but two!  We thought it would be nice to have 2 trees in the house – one in the living room and the other in the family room.  One big, one small.  The first year we purchased the two trees, my son was adamant that they had to be placed next to each other.  They needed to keep each other company, my son would say…so every year thereafter we had one large tree with one small tree right next to…

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Posted in Family History, Pyatt

1926 – Life on the Navajo reservation

Navajo Reservation Oil Well circa 1926
G-pa Pyatt (Charles Alfred Pyatt)
G-pa Pyatt and Dad (Earl E. Pyatt)
G-pa Pyatt and Dad

My father, Earl E. Pyatt, often talked about living on an Indian reservation when he was young.  He always commented to us on how all they had to eat was pinto beans and creamed corn.  He loved pinto beans but never really acquired a liking for creamed corn…hardly remember it ever being served at our house.  My nephew was doing a report in school on Indians of the Southwest and my father sent the following information to him regarding his life there.

Excerpt from my Dad’s letter dated 8/31/2003 to Steven (his grandson) regarding life on the Navajo Indian Reservation.

“When I was about four years old my father worked for an oil drilling company and we lived in company housing on the Navajo reservation.  This was in the Four Corner’s area west of Shiprock, NM along the Utah-Arizona border.  I was the only kid in the oil camp and so the kids I could play with were all Navajo.  They didn’t speak any English, but I did learn a few words in Navajo.  I guess we used a sort of sign language and didn’t need words just to play.

I remember playing in and around their hogan and remember the smoky mesquite aroma from their clothing and inside where their mother cooked their meals.  Another thing I remember was playing “stick horse” – running around after each other with a broomstick between our legs pretending it was a horse.

We lived there until I was school age and then moved to a town in New Mexico so I could go to school.  Later, during World War II, I was in the New Mexico National Guard and had several friends there who were Navajo.  In the combat area in the Philippines, they were in charge of telephone communications and passed information in Navajo so they would not be understood by the enemy.  All the Navajo people I have known were very nice people and I enjoyed knowing them.”


Posted in Family History, Stephens, Stewart

Scents and Memories

Today, my husband and I were doing our usually monthly grocery shopping.   One thing I had on my list was lotion.   When we got to the lotion aisle, my husband said “What brand?”.   “Jergens”, I said,  “original scent”.   He laughed and said “That’s because it reminds you of your grandmother!”  So true…

My maternal grandmother, Letha Rae Stewart Stephens (1908-1994), always had a milk glass bottle of Jergen’s lotion on her dresser.  She used it every day.  I love the smell of that lotion.  Now whenever I smell the original scent I think of her and the many summers my siblings and I spent with my grandfather and her in Mountainair, New Mexico.  I think of the daily trips to the post office to check the mail…going out to the farm…fishing in the Manzano Mountains…the numerous fruit trees in the backyard…climbing around all the Indian ruins…looking for arrowheads and picking bing cherries.  And most of all, the smell of my grandmother as she hugged and kissed us each night before we went to bed.

“Nothing revives the past so completely as a smell that was once associated with it.”   ~ Valdimir Nabokov


Posted in Family History, O'Neill, Taff

Bill’s DNA Results


No big surprises in Bill’s ancestry.  From working on his genealogy it appears most of his ancestors can be traced back to immigrating from Ireland.  I do have one major brick wall on his side.  His paternal grandfather, William H. O’Neill.  Most of the first-born son’s on that side of the family were named William.  No one talks much about him…all I have heard was he was a ne’er-do-well.  From census records he and his wife were living separately after their 3 children were born.  I did find his death certificate…apparently he was found with broken ribs along the side of a highway-cause unknown.  My husband’s father is the one who identified him…but both parents were listed as unknown.  This was even a surprise to my husband…said his Dad never told him much about his grandfather.  And my father-in-law passed away over 20 years ago.  Am hoping this DNA analysis will result in being able to break down that brick wall!



Posted in Family History, Jackson, Pyatt, Stephens, Stewart, Wilson

DNA Results…Any surprises?!?!


Finally bit the bullet and had my DNA analysis done through  Two things I found interesting…one, that there is no Native American blood, as was often mentioned on my father’s side.  And two, I wasn’t expecting that much Irish in me!  But with a married name of O’Neill – I guess that’s a good thing.  Have over 600 possible matches from others in the database, ranging from 4th cousins and closer. Closest being 2nd cousin.  I have already connected with a 2nd cousin 1 x removed from my Grandpa Pyatt’s brother’s family!  Will take some time to sort through them.  My hopes with submitting my DNA is to see if I can break thru a brick wall with my 2nd great-grandfather, Needham Stephens, on my mother’s side.  Will keep you up to date on any findings!

Stay tuned for a post on my husband’s results!