Monday, October 18, 2021

Genealogy - Chapter One

I had a few comments and questions on my middle of the night genealogy quest and thought I would share my genealogy journey.  

I have always been interested in genealogy - interested enough to say that but not interested enough to do real research. At one point I was trying to convince one of my children to do some genealogy research as a 4-H project. She completed the project and that was that.  Gosh, if I could go back in time and ask my family questions. 

The tiny library in the little village next door offered a beginners genealogy class on a week night. Diane, who I volunteered with at our county fair,,  also attends my church and caught me on a Sunday and asked me to come. She was trying to drum up numbers and caught the right person. 

I met with the small group in the back room and the four newbies and the genealogy volunteers wrote down what we did know. Our parents information and grandparents information if we knew that. Right away Jodi from the genealogy group and I discovered her husband and I share an ancestor and she was able to fill in that branch my little hand written family tree quickly. The genealogy people exclaimed, "Why you are one of our county's "First Families". 

I went back for the second session and we logged onto the library's laptops. The library has a subscription to Ancestry and I "searched" a few names. Instantly I saw a photograph of my grandmother! A closer look showed us that it was actually a photograph of my 2nd great grandmother, who raised my grandmother. They are a spitting image of each other! At this point we also found out that my other teacher, Diane, and I shared a relative too!

I feel like a cheater in the world of genealogy. My father's side all came over from Germany in the late 1800's. Their large family all settled on farms in one little area and kept in contact with their families in Germany. When I was a little girl, I can remember visiting my dad's family and looking through the two volume genealogy that was already published in the 1970's. The family still meets every summer at the tiny church built when the parents joined the three oldest sons who traveled here and on alternate years the "cousins" travel to Germany to meet with cousins who stayed behind. Then the next year, the German cousins are hosted here in the Bed and Breakfast in one of the originally constructed farmhouses. 

I was close to my maternal grandmother who never talked about her past (she was orphaned by age 9) but we live in a small community and she did gossip. So I did know that her family had been here since the beginning of time. I knew that some of my classmates were grandchildren of her cousins, etc. When a family member passed, there would be conversation about the obituary. Her family was not close so there were no family get togethers or anything, but I was aware of the family. And I guess I was aware of how far back her family ties were to our community (1830's). 

Our county has always kept very good records and as I was starting my genealogy journey, the folks from Family Search were actually at our courthouse copying records.  As I went back to each generation, I would find death records, marriage records, property records. It was pretty easy. 

My grandfather's family was here for about the same length of time. And my friend had already traced them back to New York where some of my ancestors served in the Revolutionary War.  This side of my family is documented in what is now the United States since at least 1710 where we have a marriage record for one of my grandfathers. 

Learning about my ancestors was not a struggle as it is for some. Eventually I succumbed to the DNA offers and joined the website. I had absolutely no surprises, I am related to everyone I knew I was related to for generations and generations and generations.  I did check with my children before testing to make sure no one had privacy concerns. No one did. 

I also talked my husband into DNA testing. His grandparents were all first and second generation to this country. I had over 10,000 matches going back to sixth cousins and beyond.  He has about 300. And looking at them it is pretty easy to figure out where they are on his tiny little tree. No surprises and, unfortunately, no one has searched back any further than the arrival in the United States. 

As you can tell, my favorite part of genealogy is finding family pictures. It really makes people come alive to me and I feel like I have really met them and had conversations with them. I have found out things that they did not know about themselves.  And a lot of secrets.  I just wish that I had developed this interest several decades ago and was able to share with my mother who would have delighted in some of these stories.

Friday, October 8, 2021

Why you don't do Genealogy in the Middle of the Night.

We have a house full tonight. My youngest son's children have a day off tomorrow so they are spending the night. I have a five year old and six year old sleeping in my guest room and a two year old asleep in a pack and play in my bedroom. Tomorrow morning a first grader and a third grader will be here at 7:00 a.m. for breakfast before they get on the bus and another two year old will drop by around 7:20 a.m. to spend the rest of the day while mom is at work. 

What am I doing? Staying up all night chasing those leaves on Ancestry. 

My great grandmother is one of a large family of semi literate farmers. The inconsistent spelling of all their names is a challenge. When I began doing genealogy, my favorite thing was that every single piece of paper or document I found for my great grandmother had a different spelling of her unique name.  I have branched out into her brothers and sisters. 

To further complicate matters, the handwriting and spelling on our county records prior to 1900 is pretty interesting, too. 

There were at least six daughters in this family that I have found county birth records (this was before birth certificates). The four I am struggling with are Ella (1863), Ida (1864), Eda (1868) and Edith (1869). It isn't just me that is confused by the similar names. The website and other subscribers are mixing them up or combining them, too.  I am positive these are four sisters with different birth years. They are listed on census records together as children and I have found marriages for Ella, Ida, and Edith. But what happened to Eda (sometimes Ada)?

Eda was 12 years old on the 1880 census. Unfortunately the 1890 census is the one that burned. She may have already been married by then. Or deceased. I have spent the night reading her sister's obituaries for clues. They mention three other siblings (all leave out the baby boy who was born in 1867 that must have died shortly after birth) and information on the other sisters, but not Eda.  Eda must have proceeded them in death.  I cannot find a marriage record in our county for her - but boy, I came close!  I have been searching for Eda for a while. 

Tonight I thought I found her! Unfortunately I made several mistakes, the first being that I am up too late for this type of investigation.  I found a marriage record for "Ada" to a Mr. Smiley.  My Eda would have only been 12 years old, but that could have happened in this family (my great grandmother married at 15). Her father did sign the license that she was underage. Mr. Smiley did not have a first name, only initials, C. A.  I looked for him everywhere. I did find two references in Ohio newspapers around this time period, but they were quite the distance from here. I also looked in nearby states. Where did he come from and where did he go? I searched obituary lists for him. Nothing. 

Finally I got out the paper and pencil (why do I try to use the internet for everything? I do not have an internet brain).  And, wait.  The wedding month and year are the same as her older sister Ida's. And Ida's husband's name is Charles A.  And his last name does start with an S.  And, I guess if you were sounding it out and mumbling and spitting, you could turn it into Smiley.   

So my marriage register for Ada and C. A. Smiley was actually the marriage registration for Ida and Charles S*****y. In my defense, because this is such a dumb mistake and time waster, all the other trees I have seen for Ada and Charles have them marrying in a nearby county, not this county.  My brain is just fried. And I still don't know what ever happened to poor Eda. 

Now it is 1 a.m. and in six hours I need to feed breakfast to six children and a grandfather and then spend nine hours trying to entertain four grandchildren aged 6 and under. 

I guess I will do what I should have done a few hours back and go to bed. 

* Have I gone to bed? Of course not. I suddenly remembered the gravestone transcriptions for our county which are online. I went through all the spellings of the last name (5) and found a stone in a small country cemetery with a few of these family members. And I am keeping in mind that this family is scattered across a few of these small cemeteries in that area. There is a small stone that says "E. T."  which would be her initials as well as a ton of other people's initials. There is no date or any other inscription at all. I do not believe there are any records for this cemetery either.  I sure hope this isn't all I can find. And I hope that I will really give up for now and go to bed. 

Monday, September 20, 2021

Almost Autumn


I know that the first day of Autumn is a few days away. But I was down to one grandchild today and the weather forecast is rain (finally) so today was the day. We went to one of the farms where we purchase sweet corn and picked up some corn stalks. Between my gigantic hanging baskets and the stalks, it's like an enclosed porch. 

My mailbox cover is still September apples. My October cover is more Halloween than harvest. I usually pick up a bale of straw (a real bale, not a craft store bale) but gosh the prices have soared. And I don't really need one. 

Several windows have the silk flower fall wreaths. I only thought to include one in a photo. We had a lot of fall weddings and used them around wooden pumpkins with flower arrangements. I spotted the pillows on an early morning masked trip into our Walmart. Of course i was the only customer (or cashier) with a mask. 

There used to be a great craft show in a neighboring county. They had acres of woods with paths and crafters had "deeds" to small properties. Most constructed semi-permanent primitive sheds or cabins to sell their wares. There were several food concessions in replica buildings and picnic tables everywhere. Live music and wandering entertainers.  The empty fields served as parking lots (with tractors and wagons back and forth to your car) and a "show" - maybe antique cars or tractors or a Civil War or Native American camp out. Well, it turned out the organizers had a 20 year lease. Lease was up and owners did not want to renew. The crafters had to remove all the buildings and no more crafts like these nifty pumpkins and sunflowers planted in my lily bed. 
Here is one of my supervisors wearing grampa's hat.  I think these tin flowers came from the craft show, too. The flowers in the bicycle basket were pretty sparse so I stuck some of my silk leaves in there too. 

We are expecting the delivery of some very expensive mums. I believe that two different grandchildren's elementary schools had mum sales. I am also expecting some cookie dough from at least one other school and I am a little confused on quantities of what I ordered. 

I returned to my hoarder friend's apartment. She has secured a new apartment in a senior living complex. I am unclear as to what the rules are there or what kind of supervision there might be. Another friend had come and spent a day finishing the bedroom project I started. She had someone she knows come and help her start with the living room. All I could see was that they took piles of papers and stuff and, without any sorting, put it all into a zillion shopping totes, like ones they sell by cash registers. They are on the floor and all the furniture. 

I went to the kitchen.  I spent 8 hours and emptied and washed all her upper cupboards and all but one lower cabinet. i had a constant sink of dirty dishes soaking while I put the cupboard contents on a table and made her sort trash, keep and Goodwill.  Then I would wash a load and start another shelf. We made two trips to Goodwill with my SUV loaded with donations each time. I packed at least 6 files boxes of dishes, glasses, mugs and 2 frying pans and one pot. (her choice). We filled trash bags.  I found five nonoperational crock pots, and unearthed a huge 1990's computer monitor in a corner along with the tower. 

I had a pretty big birthday on Saturday and asked my husband for a trip to the landfill. He graciously humored me and drove his new truck over and helped me load her old mattress, box springs, the computer, the crock pots and the trash bags. I had asked her to pick out anything else that could go, but she was too tired. She was actually "too tired" to answer the door and just told us to come in and watched.  My husband took a glance at the kitchen and couldn't believe I had spent 8 straight hours attempting anything in there. Neither could I. 

She is to the point now where she has decided to just let stuff sit and make the landlord clear it out. I am sure they will sue her. Her children are no help at all. They are whining about helping her move. I really think she needs serious help. I am hoping the complex where she is moving might provide some supervision. I have a feeling if she does not change, they will move her to a nursing home. 

We are both the same age. I have discussed this with the mutual friend that is also trying to help. We both feel this is so far beyond us. I should mention that while we are trying to dispose of tons of stuff. (Literally tons), her daughter took her garage sale shopping this weekend. 

My husband is still shell shocked and traumatized from stepping in the apartment on Saturday. The good news is that I have not heard one word about my clutter, LOL! 

Sunday, September 12, 2021

September Word of the Month?

 I know it is only September.  We had temperatures in the 70's last week and it inspired me.  And the fact that it is in the 90's today (and forecasted for the next week) has not detoured me. My word for September is two words. And those words are Pumpkin Spice. 

It all started with my shower curtain. I have a floral curtain I use in the summer and I replaced it with my favorite fall green gingham. The minute I hung it, I knew something was wrong. After thought and detective work with my tape measure, I believe I have determined the problem. The curtain has shrunk 6 inches. I am sure it is all my fault and it somehow snuck into the dryer last year. I am heartbroken but hope to bring it back to life as a tablecloth. 

So - I went to Amazon. My new Autumn shower curtain will arrive on Wednesday. And then I had to find a new rug to match. At least I hope it matches.  

We got up this morning and hubby decided we were going to Menards. I haven't been in a store forever and . . . . walked out with new towels to match the fall bathroom as well as new hand towels.  I talked him into stopping at Dollar Tree so I could get ribbons to tie up my corn stalks. They did not have any ribbon, but I still spent $8 on more fall decorations I don't need.  I also ran into Family Dollar where I found some more fall littles and some very cute fall facecloths.  They only had four so I just left Amazon where some coordinating ones might arrive by Tuesday. 

I also ran into Aldi since we were in the big town and guess what I found! 

Aldi just knew what I needed.  The whipped topping is so delicious, I am going to try to talk my better half into a trip tomorrow to stock up. 

Our Covid numbers just keep climbing.  We went from a 15 cases in a week total in July to Wednesday's high of 72 cases. In one day.  Our total for this week was 377.  The hospital is sharing a graphic on Facebook each morning with number of Covid cases hospitalized, number of Covid patients in ICU and number of Covid patients on ventilators.  People laugh at the post.  While shopping today we were estimating about 20% of the people at Menards wore a mask, 100% of employees were masked (how I talk hubby into going there).  Dollar Tree had two customers walking out wearing masks when I went in, however no one else but me was wearing a mask while I was there, including cashiers. I was also the only shopper at Family Dollar with a mask. There may have been two other mask wearers at Aldi. Their employees were masked.  

*EDIT*  The Health Department announced that we had 77 new positive tests yesterday. 

Wishing you all a good week. 

Miss Merry