Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

Halloween has become one of my favorite holidays. I love seeing all of the neat costumes the kids wear. Everybody is happy and I have my fill of chocolate. It is also a holiday that does not require a lot of expectations for me to fulfill, which makes it stress free (more or less). All I have to do is get enough candy and put some costume of choice on the boys and off we go. I also think the history of Halloween is pretty interesting too. A few days ago Lynn at The Armchair Genealogist posted an excellent blog about the history of this holiday, that is worth checking out.

Wishing you all a happy and safe Halloween!

*Halloween graphic was found on The Graphics Fairy blog.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Remembering A Great Lil Gal

I often wonder during my research what kind of pets my ancestors had. How did they treat them? How did they feel about them? What were the names of these pets? Were the pets purely functional, like cats to keep the mice away, or dogs to guard and protect the homestead? These are questions I may never find answers to. I can only assume that some of them must have had a pet of one kind or another, and maybe some cherished more than others.

A year ago today my 16 year old cocker spaniel, Coco, passed away. She came into my life when she was just 3 months old and I've missed her every day since her passing. If you have ever had a pet in your life that you have bonded with, you will understand how they are part of your family and the void they leave behind. I've found people who haven't had this experience find it more difficult to relate to.

At any rate Coco was a sweet special dog, and she tolerated my antics. Yes, I dressed her up for Halloween and she really didn't care for it much. Like I said, she tolerated my antics. So in the spirit of Halloween weekend I thought I'd share a few photos.

                                                                      The Bride

The Clown

The Princess (she hated the hat)
Yes, I even dressed her up for Christmas card photos (she hated the antlers too).

There were more outfits, but those are just a few. Like I said she tolerated it. In her old age I quit putting costumes on her, and put a Halloween t-shirt on her instead. I think that was by far her favorite. Her ashes sit in my closet. I don't know what to do with them. People tell me to spread them where she loved to be. However her favorite place was where ever I was. So in the closet they remain. I know on a certain level it's really wacky, but I think I'm okay with that. We all do wacky things, right? Besides when I'm 80 it will give the grandkids something to chat about, "Wacky Granny and her dog's ashes!" If anything 100 years from now, when my descendants are researching me, maybe they will come across this post and discover I had dog named Coco. And I loved her very much.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Thankful Taylor....and the Snake

I volunteer at the Tennessee State Library and Archives and am currently working on a project that involves going through the surname vertical files. I get to see a lot of really cool stuff. Then one day I stumbled across a newspaper article about Thankful Taylor. I thought about it for weeks afterward, and alternated between laughing and being completely grossed out. Since this is Halloween weekend I thought it would be a good time to share it with you.

Thankful Taylor lived in Rutherford County, Tennessee with her mother and stepfather, Didama and William Carroll. In the article Thankful is described as, "She wasn't much in the way of looks but she was hardworking and of sturdy health." Ouch. Not exactly a description any girl would be thrilled about.  

So Thankful, being a hardworking girl, was toiling away in the fields one day when she became thirsty. Fortunately, there was a spring nearby that offered up some cool fresh spring water. Thankful took a break, kneeled down, and drank her fill. Afterwards she returned to the summer heat in the fields and continued to tend the cotton. Later she would recall what felt like "a little string passing down her throat when she drank." Life continued on for many weeks as usual, until one day Thankful displayed strange symptoms and was confined to bed. She was having convulsions which grew in intensity "until her days and nights merged in a longdrawn horror." Apparently this continued for five years into her "young womanhood."

The local doctor of course was called for and gave her all sorts of treatments to no avail. However, then something strange was observed, "We could see the movements of something in her stomach...we could see it all the way across the room." A neighbor gave Thankful some wine thinking it might help, only to make the movements worse. 

Finally a different doctor, Dr. J.M. Burger, was called in to examine Thankful. He observed that, "At regular intervals something dark would appear in the girl's mouth briefly and retreat to her stomach." A neighbor claims to have touched it and described it as cold and clammy. What was wrong with poor Thankful Taylor?! The doctor decided that whatever was lurking within Thankful had to be extracted and instructed the family to grab the thing when it next came peaking out of Thankful's throat and send for him immediately. The family did just that. When the doctor arrived Thankful's mother was struggling with the item in her daughter's mouth. Dr. Burger grabbed it and pulled out a striped, scaled old water snake! After it was pulled from Thankful's throat it thrashed around and then died. The description in the paper says, "It measured 23 inches from its evil head to the tip of its tail." 

After the incident Thankful told the doctor that she felt "...a great load has been taken from stomach." No doubt. What happened to the snake? Dr. Burger took it home and put it into a jar of alcohol, which eventually ended up in the hands of his grand daughter, Mrs. Lena Burger Woodley Rogers.

On the left is Mrs. Lena Buger Woodley Rogers (the grand daughter), the middle is Dr. Burger, and on the right is the spring that Thankful drank from.

So there you have it, Thankful Taylor and the Snake! 

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Family Traditions-Fact or Fiction?

The past week has been hectic around here. My kids were on Fall break for a week (why? I have no idea) and under foot. However during that time I was able to have a nice conversation with my grandfather and had some vital records come in the mail that I had sent away for. In between the demands from my two boys, my thoughts drifted to the family traditions, stories, and rumors. How much of it is fact and how much is fiction?

My great great grandmother Sallie Louise (Luttrell) Gunter was born in Missouri on 1 September 1875. She died at the ripe old age of 84 in Camarillo, California on 10 February 1960. My grandfather told me that in the later years of her life she was known in the family to be a little coo-coo and ended up in a mental hospital. Apparently when Sallie went to visit various family members pieces of silver would go missing. Yes, she was stealing the silverware. Fact or fiction? First I consider the source. In this case I consider it fairly reliable. My grandfather was an adult by this time and it was common talk in the family. So I wondered if I could get any supporting evidence for this story.

Last week I received Sallie's death certificate. It had some interesting and enlightening information. The usual information for birthdate and place was listed, along with address and parents' names (her father is listed as Hugh Lawson instead of Hugh Lawson Luttrell). The informant is listed as "Records of Camarillo State Hospital." Huh. I look down at cause of death (stomach cancer), and underneath where is says "Conditions contributing to death but not related..." is a very interesting statement, "Chronic Brain Syndrome Associated with Senile Brain Disease with Psychotic Reaction." Hhhmmmm.....that doesn't sound good. However given that disease and the informant being the state hospital, I'd say that this is some good supporting evidence. It's also a little sad.

Most likely I'll never be able to get a hold of the hospital records. Those are usually considered confidential and sealed. I'm also not sure it's really necessary given the information on the death certificate. Do I really need more details? What point would it prove? It's something to think about. Meanwhile, this is one family story that appears to be true.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Follow Friday- A Few Selections

Okay, so I came across a few interesting things this week and couldn't pick just one. The first pick I'd like to pass on to you is a website. If you are doing any research related to New York City then you want to check out this New York Public Library site. You can find out the history of buildings/homes that your ancestors lived in or near. I found this particularly intriguing as just last week I was trying to search out the history of a building in NYC from the 1900 city directory.

Next, Valerie over at Family Cherished had a very interesting blog about you, the genealogist, as a brand. I've never thought of myself as a brand, but it makes sense. It is a thought provoking post that has lingered in my mind all week. How do you brand yourself?

Finally, Jennifer Shoer at the Scrappy Genealogist has a series on "How Does She/He Do It?" This is a series of guest bloggers discussing how they handle family (a.k.a. kids), genealogy, blogging, and life in general. I found this blog appealing as, 1) I have small children with only one being in school full time  2) My husband is very supportive of my endeavors, but other than him, I have no support system (think coworkers), of genealogists that I gather with on a regular basis to talk shop 3) It is interesting to hear how other people (genealogists) handle it all.

So there you have it. I hope you find the above as interesting as I did!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Civil War Reenactment-Battle Of Franklin

Today I went to a Civl War reenactment of the Battle of Franklin. This battle was originally fought on November 30, 1864 and lasted for about five hours. It took place mostly in the dark and involved hand-to-hand combat, which was unusual as most battles were fought using Napoleonic tactics at this time. Leading the Confederate troops was Lt. General John Bell Hood and leading the Union troops was Maj. General John M. Schofield.

                                                          Marching onto the battle field.

Nearly 10,000 soldiers were killed, missing, and wounded from this particular battle. Most of them were Confederate soldiers. Of the dead, six were Confederate generals. Eleven Union soldiers would receive the Medal of Honor.

                                              The soldier is taking the "dead" soldiers shoes.

I couldn't help but think of my ancestors who lived during this time period and fought in the Civil War.

We went as a family to watch this and the boys liked the horses, and thought the cannons interesting but loud. There were also tents set up to sell goods. One of them gave out tastings of soda. My oldest said his favorite was the sarsaparilla soda. Overall, it was a good outing, educational, and thought provoking.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

SLIG Blogging Contest!

What is SLIG? It stands for Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy. It is a wonderful educational genealogy institute. Think along the lines of Samford but in Salt Lake. Twelve different courses are offered, some of which are already sold out. They are taught by some of the leading genealogist and experts in the field. It's very exciting and I would love to go. It's basically winter camp for genealogist.

I have never attended SLIG, and am somewhat envious that two of my ProGen classmates are going. Looking at the list of courses offered it is hard to narrow down a choice to one. I have a lot of ancestors who settled and migrated in the Midwest so Course 5: Research in the Midwestern United States is appealing. If you have a brick wall or you are having a particularly tough time with an aspect of your research, then Course 12: Problem Solving could be for you. After much deliberation the course I would pick is, Course 8: Beyond the Library: Using Original Source Repositories. It is the one that best fits in my education plan right now, is taught by a wonderful instructor (John Colletta), and this is the class that would help me the most with my research right now.

The dates for SLIG are January 23-27 2012 in Salt City Utah. Along with the day session are many evening sessions being offered by many of the instructors who are teaching the courses. Most of the evening sessions cost $10.00, which is a pretty good deal. Included in the registration price is a breakfast on Monday morning and an award banquet dinner on Friday night. Vendor lunches are also available but are not included in the registration price and cost extra.

Part of the contest requirements was to include this link when referring to the SLIG website, but I haven't been able to get it to work. So instead I've included a direct link to the highlighted phrases above. Anyway, if you are looking for a good genealogy education experience this is sure to be a good one!

Monday, October 10, 2011

A Feisty Grandmother, A Sealed Vital Record, and Other Modern Day Hurdles

Let's face it, talking to and getting information from the living is great, but sometimes it gets a little sticky too. I've been trying to figure out my husband's family, especially the Italian portion. There has been some confusion on how to spell the Italian name. So I asked my mother-in-law if she could ask her mother, for some copies of documents that might help me figure out the spelling of the name in question. The response from grandma? "What does she want that for!?" Alrighty then. So I sigh and roll my eyes. After all I'm a genealogist, one feisty grandma is not going to stop me, right? I've ordered her divorce record, which might give me her maiden name. If it doesn't, then the record will probably give me the marriage date and place, so I can then send away for the marriage certificate, which will have her maiden name. No biggie.

I'm also in the process of filling out a DAR application for myself. For those of you who don't know, when filling out the DAR application, you have to provide birth and marriage records showing the connections. I discovered that I don't have documents for the most recent people. After all, I know my mom is my mom, and her parents are her parents. Another (more pressing) reason I don't have these documents is that it is a rather sticky topic. My grandparents married each other and divorced. Then went on to marry other people. Well in the process my grandmother legally changed my mother's last name, and sealed the original birth certificate. Guess what birth certificate I have. The one with the wrong last name. I took a moment to think this through and asked my mom if she has her baptism paperwork. No she doesn't, but she remembers the church. "It's that one in Pismo on the main drag, or what used to be the main drag." Hhmmm... commence big sigh and a little hair pulling. I should add here that my mom lives on the East coast, I live in Tennessee, and the church she is talking about is in California. I lived in California for a while, and I've been to Pismo twice. I have no idea what she is talking about. But, that's okay! I googled it and I think I've narrowed it down to one church. I'll call them tomorrow.

Next, I need my parents marriage certificate. My parents divorced when I was a year old and my father passed away many years ago. Apparently my mom has a copy of it somewhere.... in a box. She moved six months ago and has a vague idea of where it might be. She's working on it. I'll give her a couple of weeks. I might just have to order a copy.

Finally, a while back I emailed another relative for information.... nothing, nada, cue the crickets. Never heard back from them. I'm on my own. But that's okay, whenever this situation arises I tell myself, "You're a genealogist. Figure it out!" I've already made progress and have sent away for a (hopefully) ground breaking record.

Sometimes working with the dead is easier.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Follow Friday-From A to Zophar

I was reading Wendy's blog From A to Zophar today and discovered a term I had never heard of before, "cousin bait". Apparently the idea is to blog about your family history and hope that someday a cousin or some other distant kin will find you when researching a mutual family surname. Until now, I didn't realize this had terminology behind it.

Wendy goes on to relate how she connected with a relative who discovered her blog, and that they share an ancestor. They have been sending a flurry of emails back and forth exchanging information. I had two thoughts upon reading this post; "How exciting!" and "I wish that would happen to me."

Admittedly I have made some wonderful discoveries and even tracked down my father's immediate family. However, it was through hard research and I have never found anybody I'm related to through my blog. I have hope that someday that will happen, until then I'll just keep slogging through the trenches of research on my own.

So, have any of you connected with kin through your blog?

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

What's YOUR Story?

There is always encouragement to write your family history. To gather up all of your hard earned research, put pen to paper, and write out your ancestor's life stories. There are many blogs, lectures, workshops, and classes that will help you on your writing project. It is something that I aspire to and definitely encourage others to do so as well.

However, I also understand that some people just may not be interested in writing up their family history. The journey of research and discover is what they are after and it is enough for them. Or maybe the task is too daunting, or confidence in technical writing skills is the inhibitor. Regardless, I suggest an alternative or another project. Write your story.

I've recently been reviewing my great grandfather's autobiography. He wrote it when he was about 87 years old. His name is Jesse Richard Gunter born 25 October 1901 in Vineland, Pueblo County, Colorado. I never got to meet him, but if I could reach back in time, I would hug him and give him a big kiss for writing down his story. It is not only genealogical gold, but more importantly I feel I have connected with him.

Is it a literary masterpiece? No, but it is not meant to be. Jesse's voice comes through and makes the reading that much more enjoyable. I discovered Jesse moved to San Luis Obispo with his parents and siblings in 1910 by train. Jesse goes on to tell tales of hauling honey, working for the Kern Land Company as a cowboy, working on the Pillsbury Dam (then known as the Snow Mountain Dam), working as a lumberjack, and as a fireman.

Jesse also tells of meeting his wife, Mary Egyed, and when they married, 16 March 1927 in San Jose, California. He tells of the kids they had and of many other family members. The stories have wonderful detail and life. I have great insight into Jesse's life and will be forever grateful that he wrote down his memories and stories.

Writing down your own story doesn't have to be complicated. They are your memories, your experiences, your family, and your stories. Start out simple, what's your name, when and where were you born, who were your parents, and where were they born? The rest will flow and you can take your time. Eventually, you will catch up to present time and you can add to your story every year.

So, what's your story?

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun-List Your Matrilineal Line

Every Saturday night Randy Seaver at Genea-Musings posts a fun activity to do. Tonight's mission, should you chose to accept it (sorry, couldn't help myself) is to list all the women as far back as you can go on your mother's side. Also, if you've done a mtDNA test then list that too, which I haven't

So here's to the ladies....

a) Cinamon
b) Mom (still living) married Stephen Whitsett
c) Mary Lou Brumbaugh (b. 21 April 1931 OH  d. 21 Nov. 2005 TX) married LIVING
d) Anna May Fry (b. 2 May 1896 CO  d. 22 Oct. 1976 WA) married Albert Miles Brumbaugh
e) Louilla "Lula" Alderson (b. 8 Oct 1872 MO   d. 21 Feb 1927 CO) married Tiery Curtis Fry
f) Mary Caroline Risenhoover (b. 17 Sept. 1855 AR  d. 7 Nov 1933 CO) married Samuel Alexander          
g) Delila Caroline Kirby (b. 6 Aug. 1838 AL  d. 1 Dec. 1891 CO) married Asahel J. Risenhoover

I'd like to do a mtDNA test at some point. Until then I have plenty of research to keep me busy with the people listed above.