Tag Archives: Pennsylvania

John Colyer 1803-1876

Records show several different spellings of  the name of Colyer such as Collier, Collyer, Colyear, and Colier  just to name a few. Even within my family line the spelling of the name has been Colyer and Collier.

My gr-gr-gr-grandfather was John Colyer who was born April 30, 1803 and died October 19, 1876. John married before 1829 Margaret Keller who was born June 24, 1808 and died January 30, 1893. They had seven children: Mary A., born 1829; John W., born 1835; Susan M., born 1839; Elias B., born 1842; Candace E. (my gr-grandmother), born 1846; Samuel W., born 1847 and Joseph M., born 1850. My Colyer line has been found primarily in the Huntingdon and Blair Counties of Pennsylvania.

Over the years a group of cousins have exchanged information on John and his brother, James and their descendants. None of us have ever been able to find any information on their parents or other siblings.

A very dear cousin hired a genealogist to research James Collier and his brother, John. I received a copy of the research and boy was I surprised at the information. All of these years we focused on Blair and Huntingdon Counties and the family was also in Centre County, Pennsylvania. This was amazing because not only did I have their parents and grandparents but also other siblings that I had no idea existed! What a wonderful treasure!

Carol you are an angel for sharing-thank you so very much!
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Victor Joseph Misson

Victor Joseph Misson was a son of Phillip and Theresa (Everett) Misson. He was born September 13, 1833 in Charleroi, Belgium and died February 20, 1928 in Youngstown, Mahoning Co., Ohio. He studied art at the University in Charleroi and was an artist and interior decorator. He gained prominence in artistic circles in Belgium before he was thirty years of age. His early life was devoted to religious art and many prominent churches in Europe and Philadelphia contain his work.


Victor came to America about 1890 with his wife Marie, and sons, George Maurice and Achille and daughter, Alina with her husband, Arthur Doumont and family. They settled in the Butler, Pennsylvania area where Victor maintained a studio in Philadelphia for many years.


At the time of  his death in 1928, he had a brother, Dieu Don Misson, age 100 and a sister, Julian Misson, age 93 still living in Belgium.


I have been told Victor did not buy paintings to hang on his walls for his home. He painted his own artwork on the walls!

Victor was my great-great grandfather and died before my mom was born and think he would have been a fascinating person to know. 

James Lee Showalter

My grandfather, James Lee Showalter was born November 1, 1898 in a log cabin at Allegheny Furnace near Altoona, Blair County, Pennsylvania. His mother was Margaret Kelley died in 1901, before he was 3 and his father, Solomon Showalter in 1908, when he was 10. Grandpa and his sister Grace, were sent to live with other relatives. Grandpa for some reason, seems to have been shuffled more often with different relatives.

I’m not sure why, but grandpa did not have a happy childhood and ran away from home a few times. Most of his grandparents and uncles were involved in the coal mines and they were determined that grandpa was going to work in them too. Well, grandpa had other ideas!

I have a seven page handwritten memoir(a copy of a copy) that grandpa wrote in 1970. The handwriting is very hard to read and the copy is poor. Grandpa ran away, for the last time, around 1914 or so and it was then that he changed his name to Fred James Lewis. Apparently, he had worked for a farmer named Lewis and took his last name. He finally settled in Toledo, Ohio.

In April 1919, he enlisted in the Army. He lied about his age, said he was 21 but wasn’t even 18. He met a nurse, named Eunice Marie Misson. They both worked for the same family and on November 21, 1919, they were married. They had 4 children, one being my mother. My grandparents were married almost 42 years when grandma died August of 1960.

My grandfather’s parents, two sisters, grandparents and great grandparents on his mother’s side are all buried in a small family cemetery known as the Colyer/Kelley Cemetery in Altoona, Blair Co., Pennsylvania. The cemetery is very difficult to get because it sits on top of a big hill, at the back of an auto recycling place. You have to go through the recycling place to get to it and the owner is not crazy about people going up there. I guess if you call ahead and make special arrangements, he will allow a person to go up to visit the graves. Years ago, several distant cousins of mine in the Altoona area sent me photos and the BCG Society did a plot diagram of the cemetery. At one time the cemetery must have been really nice. There was an old-fashioned wrought iron fence that enclosed it but the last photos I saw, nature was taking its course and the whole area was pretty overrun with weeds.

In reviewing funeral home records, I ran across an entry where 3 graves were removed from the Colyer/Kelley Cemetery and moved to Fairview Cemetery. There was no reference as to whose graves were moved and but a notation that no headstones were provided was listed. I suspect that the 3 graves were for Bessie, Pearl and Solomon Showalter, grandpa’s 2 sisters and his father especially since, theirs were the only unmarked graves in the Colyer/Kelley Cemetery. All the other graves are marked and accounted for. I thought this move was very strange. His mother’s headstone reads, Maggie A. Kelley-Wife of S.S. Showalter. It almost seems as if the Colyer and Kelley families had something against the Showalter families. I am still trying to understand and figure out what happened.

My grandpa said he “did not have a happy childhood”, but stated his life with my grandmother was “the happiest 42 years of his life”!

I miss them both a lot and their memories are deeply seated in my heart but the genealogy research has kept their memories alive in my mind too!