Monday, August 15, 2016

The Music That Soothed Her

Music has always been a big part of my life.  I have written about my love for the piano, and my parents' sacrifice to buy one for me.  The blog post may be found here: 

I don't believe my mother's side of the family had much talent for music.  Mom had no rhythm or timing when it came to singing, and not very good pitch, either.  But, that certainly didn't keep her from singing her heart out.  I didn't notice anyone else in her family being blessed with musical abilities, either.

Dad was a different matter.  His dream was to always conduct an orchestra.  An elaborate stereo sound system always graced our home, where dad would be playing his "long-hair" music.  

I can remember some girls knocking on our door one evening.  They went to my school, but I didn't know them very well.  When I opened the door, they heard my dad's music and screeched, stating that I was one of the luckiest people they could imagine.

I believe that my dad could have been fine musician, if the opportunity and the resources had been there for him.  But, they weren't.

I recently transcribed my dad's journal, and placed the contents on FamilySearch.  I was reminded of something that he often talked about, and I blogged about on 12 Mar 2013.

"Dad always talked about his little sister, Betty, who died when she was 3 1/2 years old.  

Betty was born when Dad was two years old.  She was the sixth child out of eleven that would come to that family.

One day, older sister Mary was rocking little Betty by a pot bellied stove that had a pot of beans cooking and bubbling away on the top of it.  As she rocked Betty, she would "push off" with her foot against the stove.  Each time she pushed, the pot of beans would move a little closer to the edge.

It eventually moved too close to the edge and fell right on to baby Betty and Mary.  It mostly covered Betty, scalding her severely.

It took Betty three, agonizing days to die from the burns.  What a terrible death!  And, the terrible feelings that Mary must have had running through her 11 year old mind.  The helplessness of her parents hearing her cries must have haunted them throughout their lives.

One of my sisters is named Betty in honor of this sweet little aunt that died so many years ago."

But, I didn't finish that story.  

Dad mentioned:

"...and of course the doctors was not trained to treat severe burns in those days and the most the doctor could do for her was to give her Morphine to ease the pain till she died, We lived on Clark hill at that time, a part of Olive Hill.

 I was in school at that time but I believe my mother told us that after Betty’s burn quit hurting so bad that she was rocking her in that same rocker and Betty started singing a song that we all sang in church and at home from time to time and the name of the song was,
            Heavens bells are ringing and I’m going home
            Heavens bells are ringing and I’m going home
            Heavens bells are ringing and I’m going home, away to beauliland.
That song has come to my mind many times during my lifetime and something tells me that she went right straight to the presence of God, it would be hard to make me believe anything different."

It took little Betty three whole days to die.  Three whole days.  There was nothing they could do but give her morphine to ease the pain.

I, too have lost a child.  He was much older, but still my child.  There wasn't much to comfort me.

But, as I read Dad's journal, I began to think about the words that my grandmother sang to her little girl, probably hoping that the sound of her voice and the words to the song would comfort them both.

I tried to find the song, and I believe it may have been the combination of two songs.  Here are the words:
"Climbing Zion's Hill"
Oh, the heaven bells are ringing and I'm a-going home
I'm a-going home, yes, I'm a-going home
Oh, the heaven bells are ringing and I'm a-going home
Climbing up Zion's hill
I'm climbing, I'm climbing
Climbing up Zion's hill
I'm climbing, I'm climbing
Climbing up Zion's hill
[Instrumental break]
If you don't, my mother, you'll be too late
You'll be too late, you'll be too late
If you don't, my mother, you'll be too late
Climbing up Zion's hill
I'm climbing, I'm climbing
Climbing up Zion's hill
I'm climbing, I'm climbing
Climbing up Zion's hill
[Instrumental break]
If you don't, my father, you'll be too late
You'll be too late, you'll be too late
If you don't, my father, you'll be too late
Climbing up Zion's hill
I'm climbing, I'm climbing
Climbing up Zion's hill
I'm climbing, I'm climbing
Climbing up Zion's hill

And, I was even able to find a recording of a mountain woman singing this song -- probably sounding much like my own grandmother would have sounded.  It's only a couple of minutes long, but if you feel so inclined, please listen to a piece of Appalachian history -- one that my grandmother may have sung to comfort her grieving heart.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Adding Them Up and Keeping Them Straight

I love my military ancestors.
40th KY Infantry, Co., K

As I look into their faces, I often wonder the thoughts that may have been going through their mind as they left their homes and families; perhaps never to see them again.  The photo above is of Robert H. STEVENS, a veteran of the Civil War, and one who served as a POW.  He also suffered a pain in the side and a broken foot, perhaps from a sudden jar from shells from a cannon.  (information taken from the 1890 Kentucky Union Veteran's Census)

After picking up where my parents left off, I began to discover more and more military ancestors; so many that I began to lose count.  I really wanted to keep a running list of them, and prepared an Excel spreadsheet to do so.

First, I asked Mr. Kerry to give me a list of all of the wars the United States has been involved in, including the years.  In just a couple of moments, he handed me a list.  (Note:  We have been married nearly 39 years.  The trash has been picked up every week during the wee hours of Friday morning -- for 39 years.  Every Thursday, I gently nudge him and ask, "Kerry, do you remember whose coming tomorrow?"  His answer, after pausing to think, "Uh, your sisters?"  Sigh...But, he can remember every war America has been part of.)

I entered those wars and their years across the top of a spreadsheet, leaving a column on the left to enter their names.

Each time I find a new military ancestor, it is easy to insert his/her name on the left, and to write a very brief description in the war column.

I now have added ancestor #169!!  I could never remember all of them without a chart to help me out.

I have also included those who are currently enrolled in the military.

It's just one more way to keep me straight.  Perhaps it can help you, too!

Monday, August 1, 2016

Documenting Your Experience - It's Worth the Effort!

I need help keeping up with my own self.

When a "Call for Papers" is issued by a society, there is usually a section that asks for prior speaking experience.  In past years, I didn't really keep a record like I should have, and it was a difficult task to reconstruct all of those events.

So, I began a file in Dropbox to help me in that effort.  I call it my "Genealogy - Learning and Teaching List".  It looks like this:

Each time I attend a class or present a class via conference or webinar, it is recorded.  I looked back over my calendar, and using syllabi from conferences and webinars from various organizations, I put it together.  Let me show you what 2015 looks like:

Again, there are two divisions for each year -- one for learning and one for teaching.

Here is part of the file for learning:

The list goes on for several more pages.  It also includes conferences where I have attended classes.  As much as I love hanging out with genea-friends during these events, I am also there to learn!

The one I am showing below was the clincher for me:

Last November, I was reviewing my lists for 2015.  As I was adding up the various venues I had been part of, either in person or via webinar, I realized why I was feeling a bit worn out.  

The in-person events added up to 62.
The webinars accounted for about 15-20 more.

I made the decision to fulfill my commitments up to the end of June for this current year, and to spend the last half of the year working on my own.  That includes research on my own family, refreshing some of my lectures, and the development of new ones.

And, it has been wonderful!

I have made a trip to Kentucky, with another one planned in September.

I have refreshed about 1/3 of my current lectures.  The others are still in the works.

I am in the middle of developing four new ones, with a few more rolling around in the back of my head.

There have been some "Calls for Papers" that I have responded to, and when I do I include the cumulative experience that I garnered from compiling my lists.

Now, there is another reason I am keeping this type of a record.  As with any credentialing organization, I am required to renew my Accreditation through ICAPGen every five years.  Though I am not inclined to do client work anymore, I feel I must show that I am keeping myself current and fresh.

These lists do the job for me.

And, there's even one more reason.

I have talked with several genealogists through the years that would love to become part of the speaking circuit.  A few still have children at home, or for one reason or another are just not able to do it right now.

My advice:  Do the above!

Start where you're at, and begin to record and document every time you are asked to present a class anywhere.  It doesn't matter if it's:

  • At your child's school
  • Teaching a youth class at church
  • Helping Boy Scouts on a merit badge
  • Giving a class at the public library
  • Speaking at a local genealogy society
  • Demonstrating a skill at a local history fair (think spinning, churning butter, ropemaking, teaching about early settlers)
  • Serving as a docent at an historical site
  • Writing an article for your local state or county society
I think you get the idea.

All of these experiences count!  Most recently, a friend of mine was able to receive credit for two college classes because her cumulative list showed the advisor the needed field experience for teaching.  

Be sure to ask for a letter of recommendation from any organizer that you work with.  These can carry a lot of weight, especially if they keep asking you to return.

Your time and your effort count.  But, until you actually see it written down, you may not realize just how much you have done.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Every Opportunity Counts

I consider myself to be one of the most fortunate people alive.

I was recently asked about my background, my education, etc.  I took a deep breath and gave my answer.

Other than high school, I have no formal education.  But, I certainly am educated.  Let me tell you why.

The opportunity to go to college was not there for me.  Being the baby of the family is not easy, for I didn't have a line of people encouraging me in that direction.  All of my sisters are educated, with nursing degrees and x-ray technician backgrounds.

But, I am not.  I was generally told college was for smart people.  And, I believed that.

So, I educated myself.

I worked at Bierce Library at the University of Akron for a number of years.  I could have taken classes for college credit for free.  But, I didn't.  I did take one class on how to play the harmonica from a man who used to play with Freddie and the Fendercats.  Now, I don't have the breath to even play the harmonica.

All I ever wanted to be was a wife and mother, and I really didn't think that would ever happen, either.  But, it did.  And, soon I was "stuck at home" with four children under five years old.

This is when I did my greatest amount of learning.  While the kids were napping, I was reading and studying.  I was expanding my musical talent, learning how to go beyond piano and organ and saxophone (from high school).  I acquired six-string and twelve-string guitars, a banjo, autoharp, recorders, and anything else I could get my hands and taught myself.

As the kids grew, we spent hours at the library.  Each were allowed to check out ten books - forty books each week!  Kerry and I would immerse ourselves in the history and reference section.

Our kids began to realize how books could open up the world to them at a very early age.

When my kids were in junior/senior high school, I was asked to be the Family History Director at our local ward.  At this time, I hadn't taken the time to learn to do the things the easy way (microfiche, microfilm).  I had always gone to the actual areas with my parents.

Long story short...that assignment led me to where I am today.  I have traveled the United States and spoken to the world.  

So, when asked about my background, let me give some advice:

1.  Always, always take advantage of every opportunity for learning that comes your way.  There are so many to choose from.  They range from conferences, webinars, and classes to local gatherings at the public libraries, local genealogy societies, and even public television.  Learning about the 1918 influenza epidemic helped me to realize how difficult it was for my grandmother and her sister to lose seven babies between them.  It enhanced the writings in my mother's journal, who happened to live through it and remembered it as a five-year old.

2.  Learn to recognize the opportunity in front of you.  It may come in a casual conversation with someone of advanced age, a class being held, a book at a book sale.  

3.  Make the time to learn.  If you wait for the time to come, you may be waiting a long time.  Set aside the time for your own education.

4.  Some opportunities are free - some may cost money.  We were a single-income family, so I had to be judicial in what I spent money on for myself.  It might mean only one trip per year with my sisters to do research.  It might mean borrowing a book from the library instead of buying it.  One of the best ways is looking through what I already had in my own home.

5.  Conferences and institutes are tremendous, if you can afford them and the travel involved.  I have been fortunate to attend many conferences, but had to sit back on many more.  With modern technology, I can attend some of the streamed sessions.  

The Family History Library is hosting a wonderful United States Research Seminar in August.  I would love to be attending it.  But, I can't.  However, there are at least twenty classes being streamed!  Take a look at it here .  I have registered for as many as I can.

6.  I am an Accredited Genealogist, and have been for the past fifteen years.  I made a choice between becoming Accredited, or going through the Board for Certification of Genealogists.  I chose the first, as it hones you in on a specific area.

I did not need to do this professionally.  But, I wanted to.  Some of my friends and colleagues were proud of my accomplishment, and let me know that.  But, I'm still the same Peggy as before.

My oldest child had left on a mission, and I had three more in various stages of junior/senior high school.  Acquiring this Accreditation was one of the hardest things I had ever done.  I thought I was good, but it polished me.  I am so grateful that I set that as a goal, and that I reached it.

There are many genealogy colleagues who are neither Accredited or Board Certified.  But, they are good.  Very, very good.  Neither of these are needed to do professional research or speaking at different venues.  But, perhaps it helps when the post-nomials are noted, for it shows you have gone a little further.

7.  I learn from my peers.  I have attended classes when I have sat in awe at the tremendous amount of information being shared.  I have learned things I didn't know that I didn't know.

I have also attended classes where the only thing I learned was how not to teach a class.  I am not saying that to insult the presenter.  I have known several whose brains are so full of knowledge that I am coveting them.  But, they didn't quite know how to convey that knowledge to others.  As they spoke, I took note of the attendees around me.  Again, I learned how not to teach.

8.  I am always in research mode.  Always.  When we travel, I am reading.  When we were waiting for children at piano lessons, swim meets, tennis matches, etc., we always had a book.  (We watched our parents do the same thing.)  We never go anywhere without a book to read or a journal to write in.  

9.  I have found that by helping another person, or preparing a new lecture - I learn more than anyone else.  I believe it's called *homework*.  

10.  Belonging to your local or state genealogy society benefits you in so many ways.  I am fortunate to live just a few moments away from the Ohio Genealogical Society.  I have blogged about it several times, and those are tagged in the right column of this blog.

One thing they have begun doing is having a series of summer learning sessions - for free!!!  Please check out what has already been offered, and what is yet to come:

If I follow the example of my parents, my in-laws, and Mr. Kerry, my learning will never come to an end.  In today's world, there is no reason to remain uninformed on a subject.  

We choose those things that are the most important to us.  For me, it has been lifelong learning.

So, don't be discouraged if you're not able to go to all of the events you would like to.  Instead, be grateful for the things you may have right in front of you.  Kerry's father counseled his children:
Always keep your mind active and learning.

AND, from one of my previous posts

When you're green, you're still growing.
When you're ripe, you're almost rotten.


Sunday, July 24, 2016

Treasures at the Ohio Genealogical Society

 I have been spending quite a bit of time at the Ohio Genealogical Society lately.  It's a treasure that is actually just down the road from me -- about seven minutes away.

After it's humble beginnings at someone's home, it moved to two other properties before building its new home.  The dedication of this beautiful building was six years ago.  It is conveniently located off of a major interstate.

I have done some posts about OGS before, but this time I just want to show you some photos I took there yesterday.  It was a perfect way to spend a hot, humid, Ohio afternoon.

This is the interior of this beautiful library.  There are rows and rows of books about Ohio, and about the states touching Ohio.

This is the obituary collection that I wrote about.
Al and Julia Hoffman spent nearly two years digitizing these for FamilySearch.  

These are the vertical files containing a bounty of information on families.

A closeup of some of those vertical family files.

This file contains unpublished manuscripts about the counties and localities in Ohio.

The computer room is phenomenal, with the capability of scanning microfilm and downloading it to a flash drive.

They have a marvelous collection of both city and rural directories.
I wrote about these in an earlier post.  You can read it here.

This is only a portion of their yearbook collection.

This file contains family charts that people have sent in to add to the collection.
I made sure Mr. Kerry's family is well represented.

They even have a lending library!  These books are duplicates of those on the shelves.

Newspapers dating back to the mid-1800's are stored in a temperature-controlled archive room.

All of these beautiful volumes contain naturalization records that the state didn't want, or perhaps didn't have room for.

Here are a couple of pages from some original tax records.
These are also stored in the archive room.
The ORIGINAL 1880 census for the state of Ohio!
Yes, I said the original.
I was able to look at one of the volumes, and was amazed at the clarity of the writing.
It's interesting that I could read it so well, but if I were looking at it on microfilm, it might be faded out.
This is the manuscript collection.
Many times, when someone dies, the family members will donate their papers to a facility like OGS.
They are housed in archive-safe boxes.
These are collections waiting to be sorted through and placed in the archive room.

I tried real hard to rotate this, but it kept converting back.
It's just one snippet of one of the many German newspapers that are housed in the archive room.
There aren't many around that can read the old German, so they aren't looked at very often.

These are just a few of the treasures from OGS.  I will include a few more photos later.

Hope you enjoy!

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Ohio Lineage Societies Made Simple

Perhaps some of you remember a Facebook post from a couple of weeks ago.  I attended a "lock in" at the headquarters of The Ohio Genealogical Society.

Margaret and I spent quite a bit of time together talking about lineage applications for OGS, and the simple template that she uses for her own personal submission.  Being the example that a president of an organization should be, she was working on yet another one for a family line.

A class was recently held for those who judge applications in various capacities on either a state or local society level.  She then mentioned that another class would be held to teach people how to submit a lineage application as part of their ongoing summer education series.  I told her I would be there.

So, on this very, very hot summer afternoon, I sat in a cool, comfortable classroom expanding my learning.  Margaret did an excellent job speaking to a near-capacity crowd the process of determining and submitting an application.  She mentioned what was allowed to be used, and what was not.

I could tell by the questions that there were many whose wheels were turning as they were thinking about joining one of the societies.

Let me tell you about some of them:  (

  •  This would include the descendants of an ancestor who was in Ohio prior to 1820.
  • This would include descendants of an ancestor from 1861 to 100 years back from the current year.  Example:  100 years ago is 1916.  So, it would include ancestors 1861-1916.
  • This would include descendants of an ancestor who lived in the Ohio from 1 Jan 1821 - 31 Dec 1860.
  • Open to direct descendants or collateral relatives of those who served in the Civil War.
And, a brand new one!

  • Direct descendats of anyone who lived in the Old Northwest Territory prior to 3 Mar 1803.
  • This is the date Ohio achieved statehood.
  • The ancestor could have lived in any part of the Old Northwest Territory:
    • Ohio
    • Indiana
    • Illinois
    • Michigan
    • Wisconsin
    • Minnesota (that little part east of the Mississippi)
Any of the information to join the lineage societies may be found here.

For those who are local, there are excellent submission booklets available (except for the brand new one).  If you visit the OGS library, you may want to pick one up just to see the amount of work you will be expected to submit.

They may also be downloaded at that same link.

The same information is found at the above link, but if you will wait a couple of weeks or so, all five lineage societies will be available using a PDF file on the website.  

Does it get any better than that???!!!

Margaret also mentioned a site that has an excellent pedigree chart that can be downloaded as a PDF.  I had Surface Pro with me, so I went right to the site, downloaded it, and filled it out as she spoke.  (I can sit there an fill out a complete pedigree chart with names and dates, but can't tell you what I had for breakfast.  I know...)

It is a nice chart.  Download it here.

Do yourself a favor and look over the applications, and consider being one of the dozens who are presented with certificates and pins at the annual Ohio Genealogical Society Conference.  

It's a wonderful way to polish and hone your skills, and to honor your ancestor.
A replica of the pin I have for Asbury MOORE
My Civil War ancestor from Ohio

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

My Takeaway on Day #1 - Kentucky Trip with Sisters

(Reprint from Facebook Post)

My takeaway from day #1 - Kentucky trip with two of my sisters.
We all know it's important to glean what information we can from the older generation. In my case, my sisters are the older generation. They were 16, 19, and 21 when I was born, so each of them could have been my mother. But, they weren't.
I have listened to stories from their childhood all the way down Route 23 to Kentucky. Remember, their childhood memories are not going to be the same as mine. They were well acquainted with my parents' grandparents, many of whom were born in the mid-1800's.
This evening, I was howling while I was driving. Betty told me of Ambrose Clemens, my father's grandfather who was known as a truly mean man. They went to visit him when he was living with his daughter as a 90-year old man.
He slept on a little cot in the kitchen.
Betty, being ten years old, didn't want to just sit and talk with him, so she went outside. A goat proceeded to eat her dress right off of her, leaving her with just a little slip to wear for the remainder of the visit, and the return trip to West Virginia. She had no other dress.
Fern and Betty both laughed about sister Jean Roth, who took one of her biscuits out to the pond that was covered in algae. She thought it looked good, and proceeded to smear that algae all over her biscuit and ate it.
Sister Fern, who has never done much wrong, sneaked out with a friend behind a barn and smoked cigarette butts, and both of them got sick and turned green.
Oh, this trip is already good. All of us can lose something we had in our hand a minute ago, but can remember things from 70+ years ago.
Well, 70+ years for them. I'm not quite there yet.