Monday, February 25, 2013

Mystery Monday or Military Monday? More from Nolan Lane's WWII Photo Album and the Japanese Passport

Passport of Maka Kanehawa
issued in Okinawa, Japan, 1931
Well, the search continues for more information about the strange Japanese passport found in my Uncle Nolan's WWII photo album.  (If you need to catch up on this story, click here and here.)

First of all, I got a great suggestion from fellow genealogy buff Heather Kuhn Roelker who writes the wonderful blog Leaves For Trees.  After reading my first post about the passport, Heather recommended that I contact the PBS show "History Detectives" to see if they might be interested in investigating the story behind the Japanese passport.  So I did just that!  I went to the History Detectives website and submitted my story.  It's probably a long shot, but at least it's worth a try, right?  Thanks so much for the suggestion and the encouragement, Heather!

I also spent some time this past weekend researching the Battle of Okinawa.  I specifically wanted to find out about the aftermath of the battle since this is what my Uncle Nolan and the 9th USN Construction Battalion (Seabees) encountered when they arrived in Okinawa in late June of 1945.  According to all the accounts I read, the Battle of Okinawa, which lasted from April 1, 1945-June 21, 1945, was the bloodiest battle of the Pacific as well as the largest sea-land-air battle in history.  There were numerous military casualties on both sides and over 100,000 civilian deaths and even more civilian injuries.  To find out about Maka Kanehawa, the original owner of the passport, I think my focus should be on these Okinawan civilians.

By all accounts, the Okinawan people endured tremendous pain and hardship during and after the Battle of Okinawa.  At the beginning of the battle, they were told by the Japanese military to go south, away from the advancing American forces.  Okinawans were also warned by their military that the American soldiers would rape and/or kill them.  So they fled south, taking refuge in caves, abandoned buildings, and makeshift structures.  As the Japanese army also retreated south, the civilians were driven out of even these meager living quarters so that the soldiers could use them.  Laura Lacey, in her account of the battle on Military History Online, notes that even at the start of the battle, 75% of civilian homes had been destroyed.  The Okinawan people, she writes, "were covered in lice and unclean, starved and injured from bombing, shelling, and bullets."  When American forces closed in, many civilians committed suicide rather than face the torture they feared from the Americans.

Thus, a land and it's people destroyed by battle is what my uncle and his fellow Seabees encountered when they arrived in Okinawa to construct roads, living quarters, work and communication centers for the American military that would establish a presence there for nearly thirty years.  Below are some more photos from Uncle Nolan's album that offer some visual details about what the Seabees found in Okinawa.

Nolan A. Lane (seated on left) & other USN Seabees in front of one of the
numerous caves used by Japanese civilians and soldiers during the
Battle of Okinawa, 1945

After doing this research, I wonder if my my colleague, Japanese teacher Nathan Patton, was on the right track about the owner of the mysterious passport.  Was Maka Kanehawa a casualty of the Battle of Okinawa?  That certainly seems possible.  Did she flee her home leaving her passport behind where my uncle found it among the ruins?  Did my uncle find the passport while searching through one of the caves where civilians hid, or maybe he found it simply laying on the ground where it had been dropped?

While doing my research, I also ran across several references to the Okinawa Peace Memorial Park in Okinawa, Japan.  Part of the park is a memorial which contains the names of all those who perished during the Battle of Okinawa.  I've found a contact email address for the park, and my next step will be to submit my passport story to someone there in hopes that they can help me discover Maka's story and actually return the passport to her family.  Stay tuned. . .


Laura Lacey, "The Battle of Okinawa," Military History Online, 2003

John Prados, "Battle of Okinawa," The Reader's Companion to Military History, Houghton, Mifflin, Harecourt Publishers, 1996, on

Nicholas Kristof, "The Darker Side of Okinawa," The New York Times, Jan. 21, 1996, on New York

"Okinawa Story," on Okinawa Prefectural Peace Memorial

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Edith Naoma Lane

Edith Naoma Lane
This is my favorite photo of my Aunt Edie. I love the huge smile on her face! Number 3 of William and Martha Pierce Lane's children, Edith Naoma was born on March 24, 1908, in Clairfield, Tennessee. By the time she was two, she and the family were living in nearby Anthras. Papaw was working in the coal mines, and Granny was taking care of three young children.

In 1925, when Edith was only 16 or 17 years old, she eloped with Clarence D. Mayes who was ten years her senior.  They remained in Claiborne County, Tennessee, where both of their families lived.  Clarence worked as a coal miner and Edith was a housewife.  All this information is verified in the 1930 United States Federal Census.  What I can't verify are the elopement stories told my mom, Betty, and my aunt, Ruth, Edith's younger sisters.  My grandmother would have been pregnant with my mom, and Aunt Ruth would have been only eight years old when Edith and Clarence eloped.  Both, however, often told stories about the night Edith snuck out of the house and met Clarence, and of how the two of them ran off through the fields, climbing over fences and rocks while my papaw yelled after them to stop.

Edith Lane with her second husband, Earl
Sisters Ruth and Edith Lane

At some point after 1930, Edith and Clarence divorced, and Aunt Edie moved to Cincinnati.  My mom often talked of visiting her big sister in the city and of what fun that was.  Aunt Edie would marry two more times.  Her second husband, named Earl, I know very little about.  Her third husband was Herbert William (Bill) Janssen who was born in Holland in 1899.  Bill had been married previously as well and had a son, Eric.  Aunt Edith never had any children of her own.

Aunt Edith and Uncle Bill eventually settled in Florida, and Bill passed away there in 1980.  Edith remained in Florida for a while, but shortly after my Uncle Nolan died, she moved to Middlesboro, Kentucky, to be close to her sisters, Betty and Ruth.  My cousin and Edith's niece, Betty Jo McManaway, moved Aunt Edie into her home in Harrogate, Tennessee, and took care of her when it became difficult for Edie to live by herself.  Edith died, according to her death certificate, of an "acute cerebral infection" on June 11, 1992, at age 84.

Edith Lane Janssen

1930 United States Federal Census
Tennessee Delayed Birth Records, 1869-1909
New York Naturalization Records, 1897-1944
Commonwealth of Kentucky Certificate of Death #15409

Friday, February 22, 2013

Family Recipe Friday: Betty's Fried Corn

Betty Lane Lee's Recipe for Fried Corn
FOUND--the recipe my mom used to make her fried corn!  I knew how Mom made fresh fried corn, but I never knew she had an actual recipe for it.  While looking through one of her old cookbooks this week, I found this index card with a recipe from a newspaper taped to it.  This is indeed how she made it, and it was yummy!  Just thinking about Mom's fried corn reminds me of summer suppers in the mountains, and that's a sweet memory to relish on this icy February morning in the Bluegrass.

The old newspaper clipping is difficult to read, so here's a transcription of the recipe:

Fried Corn

6 to 8 medium ears of tender corn
1/2 C. bacon drippings
1 C. milk or cream
1 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper

Cut kernels from cob. Scrape the ear to remove all the milk.  Have skillet very hot; add bacon drippings and corn.  Let the corn crust but not burn.  Stir constantly for five minutes, until thick.  Add milk or cream.  Season with salt and pepper.  Cover and let simmer for 15 minutes or until thick.  Serves 4-6.

Betty Lane Lee & Frank Welch Lee in their kitchen
Middlesboro, Kentucky, c. 1980

Mom would use an iron skillet, and I know she used more than 1/8 tsp. of pepper and probably more salt than the recipe calls for.  My dad would hope for Hickory Cane corn--his favorite.  He would often get it from friends and customers who would visit his drug store, Lee's, in downtown Middlesboro, Kentucky.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Mystery Monday: Update on Japanese Passport

Maka Kanehawa, 1931
Last week I revealed a mystery that lay hidden inside my Uncle Nolan's WWII scrapbook.  (You can read that post HERE.)  Well, I sent the mysterious Japanese passport to my former colleague, Japanese teacher, Nathan Patton, and asked him to tell me what he could about it.  Today, I have some answers.

The passport belonged to Maka Kanehawa, and she lived in Okinawa Prefecture in Japan.  She was married to Mr. Kogi Kanehawa, and her occupation was in agriculture.  Presumably, she was a farmer.  Her height was 155 centimeters, or about 5' 1."  On July 13, 1931, Maka Kanehawa got permission from the Japanese government and the Argentine consulate in Kobe, Japan to travel to Argentina.  She arrived in Argentina on September 4, 1931, and visited the Japanese consulate in Buenos Aires on September 7, 1931.  That seems to be all the passport reveals.

My colleague, Mr. Patton, adds the following historical note and his educated guess about the passport:
Because of the U. S. Congress restricting immigration from Asia in the 1920's and the world wide depression in the early 1930's, there was emigration from Japan to South America (mostly to Brazil and Peru) in the early 1930's.  Being that [Maka Kanehawa] was a farmer, going to Argentina might have been somehow related to this emigration wave from Japan.  Since the U. S. has had a large military presence in Okinawa since the end of WWII, my guess is that a passport like this could have easily ended up in the hands of your uncle if he was stationed in Okinawa during or after the war.  Perhaps Ms. Kanehawa died in the battle for Okinawa?

With the identity and place of residence of the passport owner revealed, I took another look at my uncle's scrapbook and military records.  According to his discharge certificate, Nolan A. Lane was part of the 9th Naval Construction Battalion from October 22, 1943, until his honorable discharge on November 27, 1945.  The 9th USN Construction Battalion arrived in Okinawa, Japan, on June 26, 1945, and remained there until the end of the war.  According to Naval History and Heritage, while in Okinawa, the 9th constructed a four lane coral-surface highway, a compound for the 17th USN Construction Regiment, internal roads, shops for aircraft repairs, a 1600 foot quay wall, and a marine railway.  They also operated a coral pit and rock crusher.

Photo of sign in Okinawa, Japan, from the
WWII scrapbook of Nolan A. Lane
So my uncle WAS in Okinawa, home of Maka Kanehawa, after the Battle of Okinawa and at the end of WWII.  Did he encounter Maka Kanehawa or her family?  Did someone give him the mysterious passport, or did he simply find it while the Seabees were completing a construction project?  I still want to explore this a bit more, so I hope you'll visit again for my next Mystery Monday post.  As always, I'd love to hear from you!


"9th Naval Construction Battalion Historical Information," Naval History and Heritage, pages 1-5

Laura Lacey, "Battle of Okinawa,"  Military History Online, April 13, 2003.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Family Recipe Friday: Phil and Judy's Tomato Basil Chicken Noodle Soup

Phillip David Lane

Today's recipe was sent to me by my cousin, Phillip Lane, and his wife, Judy.  Phil is the youngest son of Roy B. Lane and Mildred Wagner Lane.  This soup, Phil says, is a favorite of his and Judy's, and I think it's the perfect time of year to enjoy it.  Thanks, Phil and Judy!

Tomato Basil Chicken Noodle Soup

1 pkg. (12 oz) Reames Frozen Noodles, cooked per directions on package
1 lb. chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 large onion, chopped
3 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. minced garlic
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
2 (14 1/2 oz) cans diced tomatoes with basil, garlic, & oregano
2 (14 1/2 oz) cans chicken stock
1 Tbsp. basil leaves
1 C. grated Parmesan cheese

Cook noodles per package instructions and set aside.  In soup pot, saute chicken pieces and onion in olive oil until onions are transparent and chicken is done.  Add the garlic, salt, and pepper.  Saute for 1 minute.  Add the diced tomatoes and the chicken stock, and heat until the mixture is boiling.  Add the noodles and the basil, and bring back to a boil.  Serve immediately.  Garnish each serving with Parmesan cheese and your favorite crackers.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Jessie Bertie Lane

Jessie Bertie Lane
When I was a little girl growing up in Middlesboro, Kentucky, I LOVED going to my Aunt Jessie's house.  At that time (late 1960s and early 1970s), she and her family lived in Middlesboro, too, and only three or four miles from our house.  But while we lived in just a regular old house in a regular old neighborhood, Aunt Jessie lived on a farm.  Not a big farm, maybe not even a farm at all, but she had a barn and all sorts of animals.  Dogs, cats, chickens, a rooster, cows--and even apple trees. I thought it was great!

My Aunt Jessie, full name Jessie Bertie Lane, was the fourth child of William and Martha Pierce Lane.  She was born on September 18, 1909, in Clairfield, Tennessee.  With three older siblings and four younger ones, Jessie grew up as one of the middle children in this big family.

Jessie Lane and Wallace Greene
Jessie Patricia Greene
2 months

Jessie married Wallace Wesley Green on February 23, 1932, in Hickman, Tennessee. At age 22, this was Jessie's first (and only) marriage.  Wallace, 30 years old at the time, had been married before and had two children.  In the early 1940s, Jessie and Wallace had their one and only child together, my sweet cousin, Patsy, or Jessie Patricia Greene.

Jessie and Patsy Greene

For a while, Aunt Jessie and her family lived in Cambria, Virginia, and then they came to live for a while in Middlesboro on that wonderful farm that I loved to visit. Sometime in the 1970s, the Greens moved back to Virginia, settling in the town of Rocky Mount in Franklin County.  Wallace died in 1975, and Aunt Jessie died in 1982 at age 72.  Both are buried in Rocky Mount.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Monday, February 11, 2013

Mystery Monday: Japanese Passport in Nolan Lane's WWII Scrapbook

Last week I shared some information about my Uncle Nolan who served in WWII with the U. S. Navy Seabees.  My Treasure Chest Thursday post was about his WWII scrapbook.  Not only does this scrapbook contain some amazing photos of WWII, it also contains  a mystery--one that I hope someone can help me solve.

Japanese Passport found in WWII Scrapbook
of Nolan A. Lane

Among the pages of the scrapbook, I found a Japanese passport.  The passport is in good condition except for some frayed edges around it's dark green cover.  Inside is a clear black and white photo of a young woman, and I assume the passport belonged to her.  Dates throughout the passport are all from 1931.  Okinawa, Japan, and Argentina are about the only words I can decipher.  The rest of the writing looks to be Japanese.

Inside Pages of Japanese Passport

The mystery, to me, is why did my uncle have this passport?  Who is the young woman in the photo, and what happened to her?  Most importantly to me, however, is how can I find this woman's remaining family and return the passport to them?

I've taken my first step toward solving this mystery by sending the passport to a former colleague who teaches Japanese at the high school where I used to work.  He and his wife, who happens to be Japanese, have agreed to take a look at the passport and tell me what it reveals about the young woman.  While they are doing that, I hope to do some additional research myself about my uncle's WWII service.  How might he have come to possess this passport?

I'll keep you posted about our findings. In the meantime, I welcome any suggestions and/or information anyone can offer about this mystery.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Family Recipe Friday: Betty Jo's Butterscotch Pie

Betty Jo Williamson
c. 1960

My cousin, Betty Jo Williamson McManaway, used to make the MOST delicious Butterscotch Pie!  Though I  sampled this pie several times while I was growing up, I gained a true appreciation of it's awesomeness when Betty Jo made it for me once on our shared birthday (January 13).  She brought the pie, still warm from the oven, to our house on this cold, gray afternoon, and it was such a treat.  Below is her recipe which, according to Betty Jo's daughter, Joy, is the recipe used by our Granny, Martha Pierce Lane.

Butterscotch Pie

2 1/2 C. brown sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
4 Tbsp. water
4 C. whole milk
9 Tbsp. cornstarch
6 egg yolks, beaten
4 Tbsp. butter
1 tsp. vanilla extract

In a large saucepan, combine brown sugar, salt, and water over medium heat.  In a large mixing bowl, mix together 1/4 C. of the milk with the cornstarch.  Add the rest of the milk to the mixing bowl and blend.  Add the cornstarch mixture to the saucepan of heated syrup and cook until thick.  Cook 15 minutes more.  Add the beaten egg yolks to the saucepan and stir.  Cook for 5 minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in butter and vanilla.  Cool.  Pour into pie shell, cover with meringue, and brown in the oven.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Treasure Chest Thursday: Nolan Lane's WWII Photo Album

After my Uncle Nolan died in 1983, my mom, Betty, inherited a few of her big brother's personal items.  These items were then passed to me when my mom died in 1992.  Among these items is another one of my family treasures--Uncle Nolan's WWII photo album.

Front cover of Nolan Lane's WWII photo album

Inside WWII photo album

Both historical and very personal at the same time, this album shows me a part of my uncle's life that he rarely discussed.  As the album progresses you see the young men in the photos go from looking healthy, excited, and proud in their crisp, clean white sailor suits to appearing tense, haggard, older.  And WWII, an event I only studied about in school, becomes real.  

Nolan Lane (center) and buddies during WWII

WWII, c. 1944

Nolan Lane (right) and Frank Gores during WWII
c. 1944

My post this coming Monday will be about something else I found in this photo album. Please visit the blog then and help me solve a WWII mystery. 

Nolan Andrew Lane

Nolan Andrew Lane
c. 1916

My Granny and Papaw Lane had their fifth child, Nolan Andrew Lane, on July 22, 1911, in Clairfield, Tennessee.  He was named in part after Papaw's older and much admired brother, Andrew Lane. Nolan spent most of his childhood moving with the family from one mining town to another throughout Claiborne County, Tennessee.  I know very little else about his early life, but by age nineteen he was working as a baker in Lafollette, Campbell County, Tennessee.

Nolan A. Lane (right)
c. 1930

He met his first wife, Mildred Rhea Jacobs, in Lafollette, and they married there on April 26, 1935.  They had their first and only child, a daughter, in 1939.  Rosemary Lane was a beautiful little blonde, and by all accounts was the apple of her daddy's eye.

Mildred Jacobs Lane and Nolan Lane
c. 1937

Nolan Lane and daughter Rosemary Lane
c. 1941

Some time before 1943, Nolan received vocational training and became an electrician.  As I mentioned in my recent Miltary Monday post, he enlisted in the United States Navy on October 15, 1943.  He became one of the Navy's Fighting Seabees and saw active military duty in the Pacific during WWII, mostly in Okinawa, Japan.  Uncle Nolan was honorably discharged from the Navy on November 27, 1945.

Naval Service Card of Nolan A. Lane

At some point after returning home from the war, Uncle Nolan and Mildred divorced.  Rosemary continued to live with her mom in Lafollette, while Uncle Nolan took a job with the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) and moved to Lenoir City, Tennessee.  For reasons that I don't know, Uncle Nolan sadly would never see or speak to his daughter Rosemary again.  He attempted to do so, but Mildred first and then Rosemary herself chose to break all ties to him and eventually to the Lane family.

In 1956 on October third, Uncle Nolan married Martha Marie Sims in Cumberland, Tennessee.  Uncle Nolan and Aunt Marie lived in Lenoir City where Uncle Nolan continued to work for the TVA for about the next twenty years.

Nolan and Marie Lane

After he retired from TVA, the two of them moved to Brooksville, Florida, where they lived the rest of their lives.  They never had children of their own.  Marie died in Florida on November 29, 1982, and Uncle Nolan passed away soon after on March 17, 1983.  Uncle Nolan had battled heart problems for a number of years, and his death was due to a massive heart attack.

Nolan and Marie Lane
c. 1980

I remember my Uncle Nolan well as a tall (about 6' 4"), rather quiet, and gentle man. He was an animal lover who always had a cat or dog as a pet, and he would often send us photos of them and talk of their antics.  Fishing was his favorite pastime, and he pursued this diligently especially during his retirement years in Florida. He was adored by his family, and as I was growing up I heard countless wonderful stories about him from his sisters, Betty (my mom), Ruth, Gladys, and Edith.  I remember his deep, gruff voice and a sweet, slight smile which crossed his face only occasionally. Spending time with Uncle Nolan was always a joy.

Big Catch
Nolan Lane
c. 1980

Nolan Lane and best buddy

A Visit to Florida
Nolan Lane, Beth  Lee, Marie Lane


1920 U. S. Federal Census
1930 U. S. Federal Census
1940 U. S. Federal Census
Tennessee State Marriages 1780-2002
Florida Death Index, 1877-1998
U. S. Department of Veterans Affairs BIRLS Death File, 1850-2010

Monday, February 4, 2013

Military Monday: Nolan Andrew Lane

Nolan Andrew Lane
c. 1943

My uncle, Nolan Andrew Lane, was the fifth child of William B. Lane and Martha A. Pierce.  He was born in Clairfield, Tennessee, on July 22, 1911, and died at age 72 on March 17, 1983, in Brooksville, Florida.  Today, I remember Uncle Nolan's military service during World War II.  He served in the Pacific Theatre as a Chief Electrician's Mate in the United States Navy Seabees, enlisting on October 23, 1943, and being honorably discharged on November 27, 1945.  Thank you, Uncle Nolan.

Nolan Andrew Lane
c. 1943

Friday, February 1, 2013

Family Recipe Friday: My Family's Favorite Potato Soup

It's 8 degrees here in Lexington, Kentucky, this morning.  Snow is on the ground, and more is predicted throughout the weekend.  Most importantly, the Super Bowl is almost upon us!  Sounds like the perfect weekend for this warm, delicious soup.  I've made this for years, and my husband and our two sons LOVE it.

Potato Soup

6 slices of uncooked bacon
1 C. chopped onion
3 C. potatoes, cubed
1-2 C. water
2  10.5 oz. cans Cream of Chicken Soup
2 soup cans milk
salt and pepper to taste
shredded cheddar cheese

In a dutch oven or large saucepan, cook the bacon until it's crisp.  Remove bacon from pan and set aside.  Pour off all but about 3 tablespoons of the bacon drippings from your pan.  Add chopped onion to this same pan and brown.  Add to the pan the potatoes and water.  Cook uncovered for about 20 minutes or until potatoes are tender.  Blend in the Cream of Chicken soup, milk, salt, and pepper.  Heat through on low heat.  My boys like to top their bowls of soup with crumbled bacon and shredded cheddar cheese.