11 January 2016

Seven Years

Here it is, January, 2016. So much has happened since I last posted on this blog. It's been seven years since my last post. Since then, I have written 3 books, Rhoda, A Tragic & True Story of a Farmer's Daughter, A Letter From Aunt Ethel and Tattooed Heart; A Little Piece of Heaven. I am currently working on my memoir, Life & Times of a Preacher's Son; Journeys Around the Sun.

Stay tuned for more as I try to catch up!

29 July 2009

It is a very tragic story, with a bitter-sweet end

Rhoda was the youngest daughter of Jacob and Rachel (Bright) Derry. She was committed to a "Poor Farm". Then also known as "Almshouses." A term used to describe an asylum for the "incurable insane." In the late 1800's, there was no place for proper care of the mentally insane.

At the turn of the century in Illinois, the Peoria State Hospital was formally created. On 2 November 1902, Dr. George A. Zeller assumed the resposibilities of superintendent. Dr. Zeller understood the plight of those unfortunate beings languishing in the Almshouses. He wrote:

"...it is not until the almshouses are reached that the people begin to realize what a blessing this institution is to the State.It is at such time that the closets give up their skeletons and society for a brief moment again becomes conscious of the existance of individuals long supposed to be dead."

From the book, "Bittersweet Memories: A History of the Peoria State Hosptial" by author Gary Lisman.

"...While yet in her teens she was wooed by a son of a neighboring farmer. The young man’s family, however, were opposed to the match. In order to prevent the young couple from marrying, the boy’s mother visited the girl and threatened to bewitch her if she did not release her son from the engagement. The mother so wrought upon the girl’s fears that she became insane and strange to say exhibited all the signs of one possessed of an evil spirit. Shortly after the threat, Rhoda came home one night, jumped on the bed and stood on her head spinning around like a top. She declared that the “Old Scratch” was after her. For a time she was taken care of by her relatives, but was finally sent to the Adams county poor house. There she remained for forty years..."

If you dare read, Rhoda's story is told within the pages of the book, Rhoda, A Tragic & True Story of a Farmer's Daughter, where story, legend, and folklore, come alive. Click here.

D. Doc Derry

29 June 2009

54th Journey Around the Sun

Greetings, Family, Cousins and Friends!

This morning, I thought I would share an exerpt from my new book, "54th Journey Around the Sun (Chronicles of the Life and Times of a Preachers Boy)."

19,724 or 54th Journey Around the Sun

"As dawn broke over the Nishna Valley in America's heartland, there were just a few vapor trails streaking across America's otherwise clear morning sky. I was standing atop Atlantic, Iowa's tallest building, the Heritage House, I could feel the sun begin to warm my face as it rose above the treeline. Misty early morning fog hugged the ground blotting out streets and most of the houses and other buildings. Missing on the horizon were the majestic mountain ranges I had become so accustomed to in Alaska. Still, few things I have witnessed that are as beautiful. "It's my birthday, the 9th of October, and today marks my 54th journey around the sun," I thought. Aloud I said, "I wonder how many sunrises that is?" 19,724.

As though someone were using a TV remote flipping through the channels, bits and pieces of my life, tragedies and triumph alike, washed across my clear blue mind. I closed my eyes, trying to focus on certain events, from the earliest recollections as a child, to the events leading to this very moment. Milestones some. Regrets? Yes, I have a few regrets. Adventure? Oh yes, a lifetime of adventure. "There has been a lot of living crammed in these 54 years," I thought. Then, it occurred to me that if there were to be any kind of record, or account of my life, I had to put pen to paper, as it were. It may be of little importance to most, however, rather than leave many particulars of my life to speculatation, myths, non-truths or even outright lies, I give you a candid, honest and permanent record of this short and humble existence. Not for me, but for my posterity..."

Copyright © 2008 D. Doc Derry
All Rights Reserved.

Trust me when I say this is one of the most difficult endeavours I have ever undertaken. Yet, I find it is one of the most rewarding. The chronicles have begun, and I have completed several chapters. This book will also contain many photos and The Life and Times of the Derry Family in America since 1752.

I do not have a finish date as yet, but when it is done, I will be sure to let you all know.

D. Doc Derry

03 June 2009


Hello Cousins!

While searching for information on Rhoda Derry (b. 1834. d. 1906. A daughter of my Second Great-Grandfather, Jacob-1795 & sister of Philip-1817 & Basil-1820), I ran across this. Link: Bittersweet Memories: A history of the Peoria State Hospital. Very interesting story about Rhoda Derry and the horrors of life there.

26 November 2008

Iowa Thanksgiving

Here it is, the day before Thanksgiving already. Just a short note to all. Have a very Happy Thanksgiving. This will be my first Thanksgiving and Christmas in Iowa. I am looking forward to it with my Jeri and her family, now mine too. Love to all, and enjoy the holiday. Be safe.

Your Cuz,
D. Doc Derry

15 February 2008

Is it Spring yet?

Dear Cousins,

No! It isn't spring yet. HA! But, it is gettng close. Well, ok....maybe not close enough. Especially up here in Alaska where winter, many times, lasts for 6 months. I just got back home from a mining job in Juneau. It was a bust, so no good news there.

I have some interesting news concerning Old Molly Derry. First, Joan Brown Derry wrote to me about a new lead she is working on about the old witch (I say that with much affection). It seems there may be much more to Old Moll than we already knew. It's easier if I let her tell you so, I'll include her letter to me about it.

"Just a quick response to your question as to HOW Valentine Derry might tie into the Loudoun County line -- here are my thoughts:

1. First of all, the only DERRY's in Georges Township, Fayette County, PA is our line -- and we know that our female progenitor was named MOLLIE. The magazine article said that after the war "Valentine (Felty) and Mollie Derry came up over the mountains and settled in Georges Township, Fayette County, PA." This is too "on target" to not be our guy.

2. "Up over the mountains" to me is coming up out of Harpers Ferry - Loudoun County, VA area into SW Pennsylvania. Ron and I have driven it multiple times -- and there ARE the Allegheny mountains you need to cross. I have several old newspaper articles that clearly state...."The Derry's came from Loudoun County, VA"

3. The magazine article also said that Valentine Derry "deserted the British army and fought under General Morgan." Documentation records that General Daniel Morgan lived in Charlestown (outside of Harper's Ferry) and across the line from Loudoun County, VA for part of the time when he was recruiting his riflemen.

4. Mollie's eldest son was named Bazil (BALSER in the earliest Tax Records) -- and we have the name of BALTSER (Balser, Palser, etc.) in Loudoun County, VA. Plus we know that the DNA was a perfect 12-point match for you, Ron, and other Loudoun Co., VA male descendants. The older BALTSER was born 1739 in Germany. VALENTINE's birthyear was 1752/53 in Germany. The older BALTSER could possibly be an uncle or older cousin.

5. I hope we can find out where Valentine and Mollie landed in America as Hessians with the British army. Ancestory.com has their arrival time in America as November 1783 which was at the close of the war. There is the chance that they landed in Virginia -- but then again -- they could have landed elsewhere along the east coast and made their way to Virginia -- especially if they knew they had "family living there" and had planned on deserting. Having his regiment and arrival time on record, there must also be the "place" that they were transported to on record somewhere as well.

6. Lastly, I am hoping that if my German researcher can find family church records we will have other familiar first names in older generations like Balser, Peter, Jacob, etc. to help pull it all together. Hope some of my thinking makes sense -- it is so easy to "dream wonderful dreams" just because we want them to be true -- but then again, I never thought we would have this wonderful magazine article on record and brought to our attention. Miracles do happen.


WOW! This just keeps getting better and better! I need to make a note to myself to ask Joan which magizine she found this article about "Valentine" in.

One more thing about Old Molly. Kathy sawyer recently sent an email to me and Joan about a book that was found on a Google search by her sister, Cindy. Here is what Kathy wrote to me..

"Dear Joan & Doc:

Click on the link I am sending and check out this book! It was published in 2004 so I am surprised none of us had discovered it before. My sister happened upon it today while searching "Witches - Old Moll Derry". I have of course ordered a copy for my full-to-bursting library! Have a good one!!

Thank you, Kathy! I did check the book out, and really liked it. Follow the link to preview the book. It's sure to be a good read.

Until the next blog. I promise not to wait so long before I write again. As always, feel free to leave comments on any of my blogs.


09 August 2007

Embracing A New Era

D. Doc DerryGreetings my dear cousins, and welcome to the Derrys In America Blog. After years of hosting the Derry web site on my old domain, the time has come to make a change. It has been a difficult year, and I am embracing a new era for our web site. In an effort to preserve our heritage and legacy for the ages, I gladly undertake this endeavour. Bear with me as I set up our new home for the Derrys In America web site, as there is a tremendous amount of code (HTML) to write and edit.

Along with our new home, I have also created this blog site. From time to time, I will be posting Derry news and other new "stuff" on our blog. You may, if you wish, post comments to any of the blogs I post. Just click on the "Comment" link below. I always enjoy hearing from all of you.

"I am profoundly humbled by the courage of those who came before us. We are that posterity the preamble of our Constitution spoke of... We are the flesh of their flesh, and I am proud to be their son."

D. Doc Derry

P.S. - If you haven't already signed our new guestbook/map, please do.