Sunday, October 15, 2017

Camping with George Washington

I have a particular love for my military ancestors.
Throughout my family's history, I have men and women 
who have been in battle
since the French and Indian War
in the mid-1700's.

As I have done more and more research,
I began to realize that I had many more than I could keep track of,
so I asked Mr. Kerry for some help.

I asked him to bring me a list of all of the wars
America has been involved in 
since the French and Indian War and up to the present;
and to include the dates, as well.

Before long, he returned with a list.
And, I made a spreadsheet.
Across the top I made a column for the wars.
Across the side I began to list the members of the military.

I can now include 186 ancestors,
and shirttail relatives
who served our country.

Tonight, I was checking for some shaky leaves
Normally, I glance through other people's trees,
preferring to look at original records.
But, tonight it proved quite fruitful for me.

I carefully checked through another person's family tree that included the name of Joseph Goddard.
He was the son of John Goddard,
who had been shanghaied from England with his brother, Joseph.

Those Ancestry hints led me to some military records I had not previously been aware of.
And, which told me the Joseph had been a member of the 
10th Virginia Regiment during the Revolutionary War.

The FamilySearch Wiki is filled with good information on
military regiments.
So, I looked it up.

It was an informative article, that told me its history.
It also led me to another interesting site.

If you look closely, you can see where it directs you to another site.
The Valley Forge Legacy Site.
There he is!
Corporal Joseph Goddard of the 10th Virginia.

And, it shows a map where he was encamped.

Just this past year, we visited Valley Forge, PA,
and we stopped in front of these exact reconstructed cabins
where another one of my ancestors was encamped.

John McKissick had been close to the same area.

They were camped next door to each other!

I find this so fascinating!
Did they know each other?
I'm sure they did.
Did they suffer through the cold?
I'm sure they did.
Did they know George Washington?
I'm sure they did.

This is how I spent a blustery autumn evening...
researching and appreciating my ancestors
for their service to our country.

Monday, October 2, 2017

It's Only a Little Cup and Saucer

My maternal grandmother was the one I knew the best.
Bertha Agnes Gearheart Stevens, wife of Corbitt Sullivan Stevens

Each year in October, my parents and I made the trip to Kentucky to bring her back to Ohio for the winter. 
My mom was afraid for her mom, for she still heated her house with a coal stove, 
which meant going out back with a coal bucket
during the ice and snow.
She was always ready to go back home in March,
for it was plantin' time.

But, several years before we began to plan for her winter stay, we made trips to visit both her and my grandfather.

Once, during an extremely hot summer visit, 
we had gone "cemeteryin'".
The older folks knew where every one of their kin was buried.

We were so thirsty for something cool to eat or drink,
so we decided to stop at Raybourn's General Store.

It has since burned down. 
But, you could buy just about anything you would ever need...
from overalls, to foodstuffs, to farm implements.

That included fudgcicles.  

The four of us sat in the car slurping away on our fudgcicles 
when "Mawmaw" took me by my eight-year old hand and took me back into the store.
I was just a bit younger than eight in this photo.

There, she proceeded to buy me the prettiest little 
flowered cup and saucer.
It was one of the few things I ever received from her.

I have grown up,
moved several times,
and raised four children...
and that little cup and saucer has survived it all.

The original cup and saucer are on the left,
but through the years I have found a few more plates that 
resemble the same pattern.

I guess that little cup and saucer 
would be considered antiques today.

I'm not sure anyone in my family 
will ever want this or appreciate its story.
It may end up at Goodwill...

But, it's little story is preserved here.

And, this is probably why I love and admire dishes 
to this day.
I will stop dead in my tracks when I see lovely old dishes.

Now, I remember why.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

It Takes Some Planning

It was just announced this week that RootsTech 2018 registration has opened.

And, I can't wait!

I have attended every RootsTech Conference except for the very first one.  Even though it was only a few short years ago that the first one was held, I thought it was only for those who are technically savvy.

And, I didn't think I was anywhere near good enough in my technical skills to attend a conference.

I was wrong.

I convinced myself to go after winning a registration for the entire conference, so off I went.  I was nervous, for I felt there would be no one as out of place as I felt.

I was wrong.

I took full advantage of the technical classes and labs, as well as the traditional classes.  I talked with other professionals that admittedly had felt the same as I had.  I made the most of every moment I had there.

And, I came away recharged, and ready to be a better genealogist.

Early-bird registration begins today, 20 Sep 2018, and runs through 13 Oct 2018.  You will save a big chunk of money by registering early.

You may register here: 

As in previous years, I will be both a Speaker and an Ambassador for RootsTech 2018.  If they have enough confidence in me to invite me to be either one, then I feel I have a responsibility to promote the conference.

I began to squirrel away money for my trip awhile back.  It's expensive to stay in hotels that are close to the venue.  And, I want to be close to the venue.  It's where the action is.  

There are other hotels that are in walking distance that are quite a bit cheaper than the ones directly across from the Salt Palace.  But, I don't want to walk far.  The Salt Lake City streets are wider than most American city streets.  Brigham Young supposed made the following statement:

"The story goes that Brigham Young, who led Mormon settlers to the West in 1847, directed that the streets of Salt Lake City be made sufficiently wide so that a wagon team could turn around without “resorting to profanity” (Deseret News, July 13, 2009)."

For this 62 year-old grandmother, I come close to resorting to profanity when attempting to walk very far in Salt Lake City.  

Mr. Kerry, who often travels with me, is coming with me this year.  He hasn't been able to attend for a couple of years, and is excited to be returning.

As a speaker, I will have things up and ready to go well before I arrive.

As an Ambassador, my job has now begun to promote and report on this great conference.  One thing I will focus on will be reports from actual classes that I take.
There are bound to be wonderful keynote speakers, celebrities, and singing groups galore.  I will attend all of those, as will thousands of others.

But, I want to focus more on the actual meat that people can use as a takeaway from the classes.  People often ask me what I do when I'm not actually speaking.

I'm attending classes!  My learning is far from over.  

So, Mr. Kerry and I...and, perhaps you, will be preparing for our trip to Salt Lake City at the end of February.  I want to be ready for all that will happen, and to spend plenty of time in the Vendor Hall.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Ida's Girl

Thirty-three years ago today my mom died.

You just never forget the day one of your parents pass on. 

Mom never met a stranger, and I don’t believe I have either.  She told me I could learn something from every person I met.  I’ve seen her sit and talk to a senator and a state representative, and turn around to talk just as respectfully to the cafeteria workers at my school.

She saved me from a group of boys one evening.  After I left a store, some boys began circling around me on their bikes, poking me in the chest and backing me up against the wall.  I knew mom couldn’t see me, for she was parked across a field that had a decorative concrete wall between us.  Suddenly, something came crashing through that field, and I saw my mom ready to come out swinging at those boys.  They were terrified, not knowing where this beast had emerged from.  They scattered like oil and water, and I fell onto her chest just weeping.

She was fiercely loyal to her family.  We often made trips to Kentucky so she could check on her family.  She was the oldest of eight children, many of whom died in the flu epidemic or complications from diabetes in their adult years.  Only one other girl would be born, and she died at three years old. 

She was a Kentucky hillwoman.  She taught me how to shoot, and wasn’t satisfied until I could hit every target to her satisfaction.

She and dad grew a garden that would rival Jack and the Beanstalk’s best efforts.  I’ve never known anyone to grow a garden like them.  Dad always waited for the call that the smelt fish were running in Michigan.  One year, we hadn’t used all of the fish from the previous year.  Mom simply put one into each hill of corn and beans she planted.  For the next few days, every doggone cat in the neighborhood came and dug up those hills.  She and dad simply started over.

I once asked her how she and dad ever made it through the Depression.  (They married in 1932)  She said they were so poor they didn’t even know a Depression was going on.

She took me into the woods and taught me what I could eat to survive on, and what to stay away from.
It couldn’t have been easy for her when I was born.  Her family was grown and almost out of the house when I came along.  My sisters were 16, 19, and 21, and the oldest two were in nursing school.  Mom was in her forties, beginning all over again.  She developed toxemia with me, and had blood pressure problems the rest of her life.

I was known as “Ida’s girl”.  Now, I’m just known as Miss Peggy.  I wish more people knew her so I could still be known as “Ida’s girl”.  That’s the highest compliment.

I only had her 29 years, and it’s not fair that my sisters had her longer.  There are times I could sure use her sage advice. 

Mom…I am surely missing you today.  I can’t wait to sit and talk with you again.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Treasuring Our Homes and Our Families

I have an article that recently resurfaced at a local establishment.  A friend of ours saw it, and took a picture of it.

I had no idea that it had been hanging there since Aug 2009!  

A number of people asked if I still had the original so they could get a better look at it.  So, here it is:

Treasuring Our Homes and Our Families
Peggy L. Lauritzen

I love my home and my family.

The world I grew up in doesn’t seem to exist anymore.  My father went to work and my mother stayed home.  Both were productive and were devoted to providing a place that I could feel safe in.  The black and white television shows didn’t need to be monitored by my parents, for they were safe.  Ward and June Cleaver took the time to teach their boys good morals, Lucy was still learning lessons from Ricky for not thinking things through, and Barney Fyffe was frantically trying to uphold the law while Sheriff Andy Taylor was calmly teaching the community and his boy, Opie how to get along with each other.

It’s difficult to find those elements today, both on television and in our own lives.   But, it can be done if we make our homes and our families our number one priority.

We have a solemn responsibility to love and care for our families.  The relationship we enter into as husband and wife is second only to the relationship we have with our God.  It requires nourishment.  It requires patience.  It requires putting that person above every other person on earth.  Second to that is the relationship we have with our children.  When each of our family members enters into their home, it should be a sanctuary and a refuge against everything else.

Growing up in Mansfield has proven to be a blessing.  As a youth, I moved to the bigger city of Akron, and eventually the suburbs of Washington, DC, where I met my husband.  They were exciting places to live and offered many artistic and cultural opportunities that enriched our lives.  But when our family started to come, we both knew we didn’t want to live in a large city.

We came back to my hometown.

It certainly had its challenges.  Early on, we decided that we would take the advice of wise ecclesiastical leaders and do whatever we could to keep mom at home.  As we grew into a family of six, it took great effort and working together to keep everyone fed and clothed on a single income.  There were even times I longed to go back to work to get some rest!

But, we did it.  We took advantage of every single opportunity that we could think of that would enrich our lives.  Farmer’s markets and pick-your-own fruits and vegetables helped us make ends meet when our attempts at a garden were not always successful.  Opportunities for stretching our imagination and learning existed in library programs and used book sales.  Watching fireworks and taking part in parades contributed to our patriotism.

On those rare days when all six of us were home together, we would drive short distances to see how people who seemed to come from a different era of time live their lives.  We breakfasted by a covered bridge and roasted day-old donuts on a campfire in the backyard while looking up and making shapes out of the clouds.  At night, we would marvel at the constellations that can be seen only when it is completely dark – something that one misses living in the city.

Now, those children are gone – mostly off to bigger cities.  But, they love reminiscing about home when we talk.  In many ways, they have tried to recreate those same simple times of their youth.

It’s just the two of us now.  We are best friends, for we nourished our relationship even while raising our four children.  We live in a different day than when we raised our children, and certainly different from the times we were raised in.  News comes to us daily of terrorism threats, violent weather, violence between people, and the degrading of moral values.  But, living in a tranquil area helps me to be able to handle bad news no matter where or who it comes from.   A wise man once said “the world sees peace as being without conflict or pain.  But, we can have peace amidst the conflict.” 

Our homes can be that place where we have peace.  As we practice love, faith, prayer, forgiveness, respect, compassion, service, and wholesome lives, we will find that we can have that haven of peace that others will look to and long to have.  Exercise those attributes with own selves first.  The feelings of being stressed and frantic will always be in front of us – but knowing we have peace in our homes can readily provide the sanctity we need.

Is this a Pollyanna dream?  Perhaps.  Can it be done?  It can.  We have the tools and the resources all around us.  If we have the desire, there are many ways to make these things happen.

Consider it.

Mansfield News Journal, about August 2009

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

A Different U.S.Census Record Set

Once again, I learned something I didn't know that I didn't know.

According to the FamilySearch Wiki (found here), the 1930 census was the first to include seamen on merchant vessels.  Census day was April 1st that year.  The information contained on the census sheet includes the following:

  • The name of the vessel.
  • The owner and address.
  • What port.
  • The name of the seaman.
  • The state or country of birth.
  • Are they a naturalized citizen or an alien.
  • His occupation.
  • If he is a veteran, and if so, what war.
  • Address of next of kin!!
There is also a searchable page indexed at Ancestry, (found here) and corresponds with NARA publication: M1932.

You may also find an index on FamilySearch.  (found here)

The following states were included in this record set.

Here are some images to help you see the results better.  Most of the records I looked at were typewritten, and some were handwritten.

So, if you have an ancestor who is missing on the regular census records for his family, it may be beneficial to see if he was actually a sailor or seaman.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Caring for the Aged

I was introduced to one of the neatest record sets at RootsTech 2017.

I have known Michael Benson for quite awhile.  He lived not far from me, and was one of the microfilmers over areas east of the Mississippi River.
Even with 30,000 people to wade through, we always manage to find each other.

Just as we were saying our goodbyes, he asked me what classes I had taught at RootsTech.  I told him that one of the classes was "Substitutes for Vital Records".  He then asked me if I had ever seen the Old Age Assistance Tax images.

My interest was piqued, and I asked him what they were.  Apparently, they were set in place just before Social Security began.

And, he had just finished filming a set in Iowa.
Look at the information on these cards!  Each one has space for:
1.  The full name of the applicant.
2.  The date and place of birth.
3.  The parents' name, including the mother's maiden name.

Oh, this is good.

Here is the bread crumb trail on how to find them.

Go to the FamilySearch Wiki and look under the state you're researching.  Pay close attention to the taxation links.

Notice that #2 references Old Age Assistance Records, 1934-1936.  There is a clickable link at the end of that line.

This is the landing page.

Here, you'll see a camera at the end of each line.  There are four collections, all alphabetized.

And, there you go!  Many, if not most of these individuals were born in the late 1800's -- before most states began keeping vital records.

So, check the FamilySearch Wiki to see if there are collections available for the states you are researching.