Thursday, December 1, 2011

Kerry and Peggy Fall In Love!

Kerry and Peggy Fall in Love
I never expected to ever get married.

As a young girl, I was always heavy.  Heavy girls are usually poked fun at, laughed at, have horrible sounds made when they pass by.  It can do a lot of damage to one's self-image and self-esteem.  Hence, I not only had low self-esteem as a youth, I had no self-esteem. 

The Washington Temple was nearing its completion, and my parents and I were excited for the open house that would take place in the summer of 1974.  I had never been near a temple before, and I fell in love with it immediately.  It was so peaceful and serene there - I didn't want to leave.  I went through on the tour at least twelve times. 

Later that day, we drove on into Virginia.  We stayed at a beautiful campground.  My parents and I were discussing where we should go the next day.  I immediately piped up and said I wanted to go back and tour the temple again.  We did, and I went on 13 more tours. 

I couldn't get enough.

My parents moved to work in the Washington Temple in Oct 1976.  I was in awe as I watched them prepare to sell their home and make a new one in the Washington area.  I wanted to be like them so much.

In March of 1977, I was invited to also work in the Washington Temple.  I couldn't believe it, for I thought you had to be really special to work there.  I made a special trip for an interview and was told that I was hired. 

Little did I know that my path had already crossed with Mr. Kerry's path several times.  He was on security during the open house.  He was there to check cars at the gatehouse when my friend, Janet and I drove there for my interview.

I moved there April 14.  I went through the temple April 15.  I met Kerry April 16. 

Kerry and I met while I was greeting another friend of mine in the temple cafeteria.  I didn't think too much about him.  But, apparently he saw something in me that peaked his interest.  He called around and found out who I was, where I lived, and made contact with me.  I didn't even remember him.  He asked me out on a date, and since he worked at the temple, I said yes - even if I didn't remember him, I figure he's probably be safe.

Our first date was April 30.  We went to a movie (Freaky Friday), had dinner, and went to a Baltimore Oriole's baseball game.  I had a nice time, but I really wasn't that impressed with him.  He greased his hair down and reminded me of Bowser from Sha-na-na.

He continued to ask me out.  I agreed, but kept saying to myself that I probably wouldn't go out with him any more.  But, I kept saying yes.  I didn't want to hurt his feelings.

Toward the end of June, we were watching "Rich Man, Poor Man" at my parents' apartment.  They had gone to bed.  Kerry kept hanging on and on and not leaving.  I was tired.  I was bored.  I was waiting for him to leave.  I would lean on my hand and leave one eye open while the other slept for awhile.  Then I would switch hands and switch eyes so the other eye slept for awhile. 

Finally, I got up to use the bathroom, thinking he would get the message and leave.  When I came back into the living room, he was kneeling on the floor praying.  I didn't know what to think.  When he finished, I sat down and waited some more.  He remained on the floor.

In the next few minutes, he quietly asked me if I would be his wife for eternity.  Good grief!  I had to hold my face together to keep from laughing.  I told him I would let him know before long.

A week went by.  Sisters Fern and Jean and nephews Dave and Steve had come for a visit, and they all seemed to like him.  Fern got his head down in the kitchen sink and washed his hair.  I'm not sure if she used something like a Brillo pad or not, for his hair seemed to have a lot of grease on it.  She blew it dry and he looked great!

One day, my dad asked me if I had given that young man an answer yet.  I said no.  He wondered why not!  It wasn't fair to keep him hanging on.  Was I waiting on God to straight out tell me?

I pretty much said that I was.  He wagged his head and said I should know how to get an answer to a prayer.  I needed to make my decision, then take it to the Lord for confirmation.  I knew that - I just needed to be reminded.

I listed the pros and cons of Mr. Kerry.  There were far more pros than there were cons.  He was a good young man, he was worthy in every way to enter the temple every day, he held the priesthood, he was active in our religions, he cleaned up real good, etc.

But, I didn't love him.

My dad - my own father - reminded me to consider just how many people would be willing to live with me.  Both my parents really liked him.

I made the decision to tell him yes.  I wrote my answer on a card and quoted a verse from the book of Ruth - "Entreat me not to leave thee or refrain from following after thee.  For whither though goest I will go.  And whither thou lodgest I will lodge.  Thy people will be my people and thy god my god."

Little did I know that at the same time I was in the temple praying earnestly about this, he was outside near some trees praying, as well.

He flipped out.  We told my parents.  He called his parents.  We told temple workers.  Every one was thrilled!!

Except me.  I didn't love him.

He gave me my ring on my birthday.  We flew to Utah in August so I could meet his parents and family.  Things were in motion as we set our date for December 1.

But, I didn't love him.

The date was getting closer.  One day in October, we were walking to my parents' apartment from the temple through a beautiful neighborhood.  Soon, we heard a car turn onto the street we were walking on with some boys loudly shouting.  We both bristled as we heard what could have been a gunshot or the car backfiring.  In the Washington suburbs, it could be either one. 

The car approached us with the boys yelling and the loud sound that scared us.  As that "shot" came very close to us, Kerry immediately pushed me to the ground and covered my body with his.  The car drove on past.  When they were quite a distance away, Kerry helped me to my feet and made sure I was okay. 

I looked at him a little bit differently beginning at that very moment.  He was ready to protect my body with his at the risk of being injured!  It was truly a turning point for me, for I had always wondered what would happen if I married him and somebody better came along.

I have grown to accept the fact that it would never happen.  Nobody could ever come along.  As I look back on the 34 years we've been married, I now realize how much the hand of the Lord took part in all of this.  Kerry was born in California, at 16 he moved to Utah, served his mission in the Delaware/Maryland mission, returned there after his mission to work in the temple.  I'm from Ohio - and yet we meet in the Washington area.

This was not by happenstance.

He is truly the best person I have ever known in my life.  He makes me laugh.  He adores me and has never said one bad thing about my cooking.  He still opens doors for me and pouts if I jump out before letting him. 

He's the man of my dreams!

Happy Anniversary, dear Kerry!  I love you so...

Grieving again!

I am just mortified.

Here I am, a "Accredited Genealogist", looking at my own mother's obituary and not believing my eyes.

My mother passed away 27 years ago.  I was a young mother with four children under five, three of which were in diapers and two were still on formula.  Her death hit me hard.

And now, it's hitting me hard again.

Thanks to some wonderful new features in RootsMagic 5, I am transcribing source information into my ancestors' records.  Memories come flooding back to me as I type away, remember their lives, their smiles, their cooking, and their funerals.

Then, I get to my own mother's obituary.  I really don't know who gave the information to the newspaper.  It may have been the funeral home, my father, one of my sisters, maybe even me!  I really don't believe it was me, though.  Even with my hands full, I think I would have done better than what was actually published.

Her maiden name is not even listed.

It states that she was a member of the Mormon Word of Wisdom.  What is that?  She was a Mormon, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  We practice the Word of wisdom (no coffee, tea, alcohol or tobacco).

Her niece's name is listed as Juanita.  Her actual name is Elwanda.

My sister's married name is misspelled.

My husband's name is misspelled.

MY name is misspelled.

Good grief!

There's nothing I can do about it now.  I would love to post it on USGenWeb, but I'm too embarrassed.  I would love to post it on FindAGrave, but I'm too embarrassed.  I would have to do a lot of correcting and state the reasons why.

Which brings me to our own research, and why we just cannot rely upon one source of evidence.  It's all part of piecing together the jigsaw puzzle of the lives of our ancestors.  When something like this happens so close to home - my own mother - it makes me wonder about the information given on other documents in my possession. 

I remember reading the obituary when it was first published.  I scanned over it.  I was grieving.  I couldn't even think straight, for my mother had just died. 

My feelings would be no different than any other grieving ancestor trying to give the correct information on a death certificate or for an obituary. 

Sorry, mom...

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Midwifery in Eastern Kentucky

One of my foremothers was a midwife.

Elizabeth Emma Bailey Roe, who was married to John Jack Roe, was a midwife in eastern Kentucky during the mid to later 1800's.  Her signature appears on many of the birth records from that time period.

Perhaps she learned this trade from her own mother, for I have seen her name on some of the birth records, too.

I can't even begin to imagine what it would have been like to be one of the chief persons that expectant mothers would turn to.  She experienced probably every joy and every pain imaginable as she aided the many women looking to her for guidance and assurance.  Her skills would have been valuable, her reputation known widely.

Having at least twelve known children of her own, she was not inexperienced in this field.  She knew pain.  She knew suffering.

One of the births notes that there were triplets born at 7 months.  They lived a short time before passing - two boys and a girl.  How the young mother must have struggled as the midwife guided her along, perhaps saying a prayer under her breath.

Each of my four children were born under tender and clean care in a hospital setting.  I also had four miscarriages, again using the medical professionals and the knowledge and skills they possessed after years of training.  Every need I had was attended to.  Every pain I felt could be dealt with with medicine unheard in this grandmother's time.  I feel extremely fortunate.

Elizabeth Roe, you are a heroine to the people of Carter County, Kentucky!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Driving Miss Ida!

Today is my mother's birthday.  She would have been 98 years old today!

I recently returned from a weekend in Charleston, West Virginia, where I delivered a series of classes at a Stake Family History Conference.  I love the people of West Virginia.  I feel so at home when I visit.

It's where my mother and my three sisters were baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon) in 1948.

Mom and my three sisters, Fern, Jean and Betty.

Mom would tell me many stories about West Virginia - the moonshiners, the snake handlers, the Regulators, the coal mines, the company store.  But, something that fascinated me was how she was granted a driver's license, or in her words, an "operator's license".

When going for her test, they placed a glass container filled with water up to a certain point.  Then, they turned her loose on a certain route.  She had to come back with a certain amount of water still in the container or she would fail her test.

Her story didn't really mean anything to me until I was old enough to drive, and was married for a few years.  My husband and children and I were on a trip, and it took us through West Virginia.

I hung on for dear life!  I have never seen so many twists and turns and hairpin curves!!  My husband, who learned to drive in Utah, didn't think twice about it.  But me?  I grew up in Ohio where it is mostly flat with rolling hills.  Those hills were nothing like what we were driving on!

So this weekend, I though of Mom.  We were off the beaten path for awhile in an area not too far from where Mom would have taken her "test". 

Mom is gone.  But through this blog, I'll try to help her stories and her life stay alive...

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

How Important Are Family Legends?

I grew up listening to all sorts of legends about our family's history.  My parents were from eastern Kentucky, and they passed on stories they had heard from their parents, which had been from heard from their parents, which had...

You get the idea.

In the genealogical world there is much discussion about correct citations of our sources.  There probably isn't a genealogist alive that hasn't wished they could go back and do things a little bit better.  I remember thinking, "Oh, I'll always remember where that was."  Then, life got in the way and I don't have a clue.

But, back to the family legends - perhaps we ought to listen a little bit closer to those stories.  Try as I might, I could not locate a single fact in our family's history that pointed to our having Dutch lineage.  But, Dad insisted that was what this ancestor was always called.

Dutch.  Dutch.  Dutch.  Deutch?

Yep, that was it!!!  The line was German!!!  That made a lot more sense, because a lot of the German foods and traditions were passed on through the family.  I just didn't realize it.  The sausage, the sauerkraut, the Christmas legends, etc.

But, one legend still continues to haunt me.  One of my mother's grandfathers was Robert H. Stevens/Stephens.  He fought in the Civil War.  He settled back into Elliott County, Kentucky.  He died.

A few years after his death, the legend was that a Doctor Brown (?) was supposed to assemble a skeleton as part of an exam.

The legend was that Robert's grave was disturbed.
The legend was that someone ran upon Doc Brown in the woods with a big pot of boiling water.

The legend was that a hand floated to the top.

The legend was that Doc Brown kept a skeleton hanging in his closet for years.

Now, this all makes for some wonderful storytelling.  But, that's not what I'm after.  I'm just trying to find where he was buried.

A few years ago, my uncle told me that a picture existed of Robert, and that it was hanging in the home of a cousin who was in her 80's.  I really wanted to see it, and perhaps take a picture of it.  He told me to go up to the house and knock.  If there wasn't an answer, just look through the door, for it was hanging right inside within viewing distance.

Now, we are talking Kentucky.  You just don't do something like that.  But, I figured there wasn't any other way to see that picture.  My husband and four young children drove up to the house, and I told them to stay put.

I knocked on the door.  There was no answer.   Looking at the hound dog out of the corner of my eye, I took my chances and looked through the door.  It was hard to focus, but that's because just an inch away on the other side of the glass was another pair of eyes looking at me!

I thought for sure I was dead.

This was my mother's dear cousin and childhood playmate.  She reminded me so much of my mother - same hair, same arms, same laugh.  I wanted to get right to the point, but there are some very important points to remember when visiting someone in the south:
1.  Do not, under any circumstance, rush.  If you're foreign, or from the north (in my case, Ohio), you've got to earn their trust.
2.  Ask how the garden was this year.
3.  Ask how the family is doing.  Include the hound dog.
4.  Talk slowly.  Don't try to imitate the "twang".  You'll just sound silly.
5.  Again, don't rush.  Things go at a different speed.  Adapt to it, no matter how anxious you are to get the information and get on the road.

We had a wonderful visit as she shared such fond memories of my mother.  We did finally get around to talking about family, and I asked her about the picture that was indeed hanging on the wall.  She took it down for me to look at, and I gave it a good "goin' over".

I was amazed at the family resemblances that were in this man's facial features that have carried right on down through the generations.

I asked her where she had gotten it.  She slapped her leg and said that some people up the holler had been tearing up their linoleum and ran across it.  (People often placed layers of newspapers and other papers between the floorboards and the linoleum to help insulate against the cold.)  She said Robert's name was even on the back of it, though I didn't ask her to take it out of the frame to look at that.  I kind of wish I had.

She agreed to let me take a picture of the picture, so I took it outside and placed it under a tree so the sun wouldn't glare on it.  This was before the days of digital cameras, so I took several pictures with my inexpensive Vivitar 35mm to make sure at least one turned out.
Robert H. Stevens/Stephens, md to Rachel M. Burton

I have since downloaded his Civil War Pension File, and learned that he served in the Union Army, and at one point was taken as a prisoner of war.  In the 1890 Kentucky Veteran's Census, he is living at Hogtown, Elliott Co., KY, where he states he had a pain in his side and he broke his foot during the war, possibly due to:  "A sudent jar from shells by cannon".

He's a bit of a hero to me.  He's in the Civil War, he dies, perhaps is dug up and hangs in a doctor's office for years.  His picture stays under the linoleum for years and is finally uncovered.  My husband asked, "Were they singing 'I'm Walkin' the Floor Over You'?"

Smarty pants!  Quit talking about my grandpa!!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Combing Research Trips With the Living and the Dead!

One of the toughest things about genealogy research is combing the living and the dead.

Let me clarify!

First of all, I love my living family.  They have helped me become who I am today, both through tears and frustration!!  They are near to me.  They are dear to me.

Second, I love my ancestors, and those that have passed on that are really not that far back in my genealogy.  I love the detective work that goes along with piecing their lives together.

I do not like combining the two. 

While raising a young family, I found it difficult to spread out my research on my dining room table when I knew I might be called away to pick up a child, bring something out of the oven, answer a phone call, etc.  I was never quite sure what I would find when I returned, for the dining room is the hub of our home.  I didn't have a genealogy room that I could simply close the door on.

When we would take a trip, my husband would try to find some time for me to dash into a library while he held the kids at bay in the children's section, or entertain them while I labored in a cemetery.

He never once complained, for we are both library people.  But, we didn't have the chance to spend hours, like we would both love!

Then comes Salt Lake City.

 Mr. Kerry's family was centered in Utah, so we would go there quite often.  Many of my genealogy friends would give me envious glances when they heard I was off to Utah again.  But, most of these trips involved activities with the living - weddings, reunions, funerals, etc.  I cherish those times, but there was never, ever a time for research in the genealogy mecca known as the Family History Library.

Once, when in Utah for a wedding, we stayed in the hotel adjacent to the FHL.  For two days, I longlingly looked out our window as we dressed to go to dinners, rehearsals and then, the wedding.  When the events were over, we arrived back at the hotel when the library only had twenty minutes before closing.  I dashed through the doors, found what I needed, printed it off and had five minutes to spare.

My dream is to go to Salt Lake and learn and research and come away filled with knowledge, sources, and lots of avenues I have not yet pursued.  The Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy beckons me, and I want to come!

I can dream, can't I? 

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Cemetery Adventures...

I have always felt at home in a cemetery.

I was in cemeteries before I was born. My parents took me to cemeteries when they were doing indexing for the Ohio Genealogical Society. While all of my friends were in movie theaters and on the beach on Sunday afternoon, I was in a cemetery with my parents.

I was born into an older family and everyone was dying when I was young, so I went to many funerals and cemeteries. I feel quite at home in a cemetery, thinking of the many times a family has paid their last respects to a loved one.

I've also had some interesting experiences in cemeteries. Two stand out.

I must have been about 12 or 13 years old. It was Sunday afternoon, and we were off to another cemetery. I had talked my best friend, Palm Tree (Alice) into going. One of mom and dad's friends, Brother Steele (who never spoke) also came along.

And...Mom wore a wig.

We were all in various corners, with Alice and I hanging together writing on our index cards. Mom was down on her knees pulling weeds from a tombstone that had sunken into the ground. The information she needed was below the level of the grass and the ground, so she had a job to do.

Then, she came face to face with a snake!

She jumped up and started doing this warhoop thing that mortified Alice and I. I was SO embarrassed. Dad saw what was going on and came running across the grass with a stiff wire brush. (Never, ever use those now!!) He saw the snake and started beating it like that Fat Broad in the comic strip B.C.
But, the ends of those bristles are extremely sharp, and during the first strike, the snake got stuck in the bristles. When he saw what had happened, he slung the snake straight up in the air. That's when my mother looked up and saw the snake coming straight down for her, head over tail.

Mom ran out from under her wig.

Alice and I just wagged our heads. Brother Steele was trying to hold his face together to keep from laughing. I wanted to tell him to just go ahead and bust out and laugh, but I didn't. Oh, well.

The second incident directly involves me.

I had a broken foot once again. I was heavy. I was unstable. I was in a cemetery.

Sisters Ferne and Betty and I were in a Kentucky cemetery, which could be anywhere - soggy bottomland, mountains, backwoods properties, high grass, old stones, etc. You name it - we've been there.

We were looking through a familiar cemetery once again to make sure we had all stones recorded. The three of us were scattered around, with me over closest to the top ridge of the burying ground. It was high up on a hill. (People were buried high up so the floods wouldn't get the graves saturated.)

I was copying the information from a tombstone that looked a little bit like the Washington Monument. It was on the crest of the hill, and there were names on all four sides. I kept wondering if these people were buried in a pinwheel.

I had a walking cast on that looked like a "moon boot". It was solid and didn't bend much. As I'm walking around all four sides of the tombstone, I hung on to it to keep my balance. Suddenly, it toppled. I grabbed on to it so it wouldn't break further, and cradled it in my arms. I also lost my footing, fell, and began rolling down the side of the hill - hollering the whole time. A true genealogist.

My sisters heard me, but couldn't see me. When they finally saw where I had landed, they stood on the hill above me, dumbfounded. The first thing out of Betty's mouth was, "Good night! Is the tombstone alright?"

Yes, girls. It's was alright. So was I, in case anyone was wondering...
A stiff wire brush.  Never, ever use this to clean a tombstone with.  They're great for killing snakes, though.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Learning the Hard Way - Again!

I guess I've always been one to learn things the hard way.

During this time of year, my parents' garden would have been pretty much over and cleaned up.  The final weeks of summer would have been spent "puttin' food by".

But, the apples kept on producing for a bit longer.

We had thirteen apple trees on our property.  Most of them were the Golden Delicious variety, and in my opinion there is none better!  All of the delicacies that can come from an apple came from that particular apple - applesauce, apple butter, apple pies, apple crisp, fried pies, sausage and apple stuffing, you name it!
But, I learned a very hard lesson from dried apples, i.e. dehydrated apples.

My mom and her mom kept a supply of dried apples to make stack cakes.  At many southern funerals, a stack cake was almost always on the food table.  It was a staple.  It required dried apples.

Mom would peel, cut and slice bushel after bushel of these beautiful apples.  We had no dehydrator, so most of the time she used the oven - sometimes even the back window of our car.  If it happened to be humid, which it often is in Ohio, it would take a little longer.  Dad did build some screens to dry them outside.  This helped to prevent flies from getting on them.  Sometimes they even dried them in front of the fireplace. 

Mom stored these dried apples in big, half gallon jars or plastic wear. 

One day, I happened upon some and decided to eat some.  She warned me not to eat too many.  I also had a bottle of 7Up. 

Big mistake.

She warned me to slow down on the apples, and for goodness sakes, don't drink the 7UP!!  But, I was thirteen years old, and I knew more than her.

So, I thought.

Oh, I can't even begin to describe the pain and misery I was in as those apples began to rehydrate!!!  I laid on the bed and rolled back and forth all night trying to calm everything down that was going on inside of me.  I just had to let nature take its course, and watch my mom wagging her head with that "I told you so" look.

I guess I should have listened and watched the older generation better than I did.  They preserved and prepared so they would never have to depend on anyone else to take care of them.

I miss them...

Dried Apple Stack Cake
1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg, well beaten
1/3 cup molasses
1/2 cup buttermilk
3 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon vanilla
Cooked dried apples
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream shortening and sugar; add beaten egg, molasses, buttermilk, and mix well. Sift flour, soda, salt, and ginger into a big mixing bowl. Make hole in center of dry ingredients and pour in creamed mix, stirring until well blended. Add vanilla, stir well, and roll out dough as you would for a piecrust. Cut to fit 9-inch pan or cast-iron skillet (this amount of dough will make 7 layers). Bake layers for 10 to 12 minutes, or until lightly browned. When cool, stack layers with spiced, sweetened old-fashioned dried apples. (See recipe below.) Spread between layers and smooth around sides and top. Sprinkle with powdered sugar, if desired, or beat egg whites into a meringue and spread on outside of cake. You may brown the meringue if desired. Prepare cake at least a day before serving it and put in refrigerator (it will keep several days, if necessary, in a cool place). To serve, slice into very thin layers.
Cooked Dried Apples*
Put 1 pound apples in heavy pan and cover with cold water. You may need to add water several times to keep apples from sticking to pan. Cook until soft enough to mash. While still hot, mash apples and add 1 cup brown sugar, 1 cup white sugar, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, ¼ teaspoon cloves, and 1 teaspoon allspice.
*If dried apples are not available, cook several pounds cooking apples with a little water. Add spices and sugars as listed above, and cook until mixture is very thick., "Appalachian Heritage, A Literary Quarterly of the Appalchian South", Fall 2004.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

History and Geography in the Lives of Our Ancestors

Harriett Beecher Stowe wrote:  “Every individual is part and parcel of a great picture of the society in which he lives and acts, and his life cannot be painted without reproducing the picture of the world he lived in.”

Family history is so much more than just the names and dates on a pedigree chart or in a genealogy program on our computers.  I believe that "genealogy" involves basic vital information and goes straight back.  "Family History" encompasses the histories of those families.

For each ancestral family, 
Years ago, Curt Witcher spoke at a conference I was attending.  As usualy, his talk was inspiring and made me want to go right home and get started researching better.  The title of this particular presentation was, "Doing the History Eliminates the Mystery".

So true.

In the classes I teach, I try to emphasize just how important this can be.  Let me share some pointers:

1.  Learn all you can about the area your ancestors lived in and study this material.  Look at the time period, their nationality, the neighborhood.
  • County histories and “heritage books” may be particularly helpful, though the data may be incorrect.  Use the information as a springboard to take you to the original records containing primary sources.
  • The family may have followed general trends that pertained to the area.
    Obtain atlases and topographical maps to study the geography, and claim those maps as yours!  They may help you to determine why your ancestor traveled nearly 20 miles to go to a courthouse in a neighboring county, as opposed to 5 miles to the one in his own county.  Perhaps there was rough terrain and mou
    ntains that you can't see on an ordinary map.
  • How did the family arrive?  Were there watercourses?  Did they run a ferry on the river?  Could they have had a mill?  Did they come through mountains?  Did poor weather affect the crops and the economy, effecting a move?
  • Collect materials about libraries, archives and courthouses in the area, as well as their location and hours of operation.
2.  Check out the neighborhood and collateral relatives.
It might be wise to bypass indexes and go directly to the records themselves.  

  •  You are the one that knows your family and different spelling variations.
     Families did not live in alphabetical order.
     Study the family in the proximity of its neighbors.
     Whole communities were known to migrate.
     They witnessed each other’s deeds and wills, and attended          church together.
    Tax records and deeds often showed neighbors.
     Land was described by whose property it bordered
3.  Join a society in the ancestor’s geographic area.
  • If they have a website, visit it frequently.
    Many societies collect pedigree charts, family group records, or ancestor file cards from its members.
    Most societies publish a newsletter and accept free queries from members.
4.  Join a local society and be active.
  • Local societies offer learning opportunities and workshops.
5.  Consult with an expert in the geographic area where your ancestor lived, and/or hire a professional researcher.

Above all, avoid presentism!  This is when we place today's morals, values, manners, speech, routines, hygiene, etc. upon people who lived in another time and place. 

Step outside the normal routine of collecting documents.
Explore the area’s history.

Friday, September 30, 2011

A Tribute to My Father-in-Law

Today is the anniversary of the birth of my father-in-law, Orson William Lauritzen.  He would have been 93 years old today.

What a good and gentle man he was! 

I loved him the first time I met him just over 34 years ago.  He treated me with such respect and was interested in everything I had to say. 

Through the years, I've learned a lot about this great man.  He was the grandson of the immigrant Peder Lauritzen, who came from Denmark to America after several years of teaching from LDS (Mormon) missionaries.  He brought his family on the ship "Monarch of the Sea".
The Monarch of the Sea brought them to the processing center at Castle Garden.

After making their way to Florence, Nebraska, they walked the rest of the way with their handcart.
Peder Lauritzen, the immigrant.

They lived a pioneer life in central Utah, raised their family in the gospel, and left quite a legacy for others to pattern their lives after.

His son, Peter, was Orson's father.  His name, and that of his wife, Mary Loanna Terry, were people that others came to rely on for their great personal strength.
Peter and Mary Loanna Terry Lauritzen

They raised twelve children, and son Orson and was number ten.  He and his good wife, Shirley Elma Rhoades, raised eleven children of their own, burying two after they had been raised to adulthood.  Mr. Kerry is number five.

Orson and Shirley Rhoades Lauritzen

Kerry has often told me stories from his childhood.  Mom, of course, was the choreographer of the family and of the home.  Her job was full-time, day and night, as she sought for the best for her children.

Orson was that quiet force in the background.  I never heard him raise his voice or act impatiently.  He nearly always had one, or two, or more grandchildren on his lap.  He took time for each one of them, and for each person who wanted to talk with him.

Kerry has always shown great respect for womanhood.  After nearly 34 years of marriage, he still holds the door open for me, pulls my chair out and helps me on with my coat.  When we had our own four children, he always had the baby at the end of the dinner table, patiently feed them. 

All of these things were examples from his own childhood.  Before Kerry was of the age to date, his dad took him aside and talked with him about how to respect and treat a young lady.  I would loved to have heard his words of counsel!

Orson has been gone since 2004.  He was such a valiant man.  He stayed true to his beliefs all of his life, having served as a patriarch in the church since the early 1960's.  He was a CPA, owned a dairy ranch, served in the Manti Temple, and taught the truths of the gospel at every opportunity.  When anyone wanted an answer to a scriptural question, they would seek out Orson.

But, most of all, he was a husband and a father.  He raised the boy who would grow and become my husband.

What an honor to have had this man in my life!

Orson and Shirley Lauritzen on the occasion of their 50th wedding anniversary.

Friday, September 23, 2011

A Noble Ancestor

One of my ancestors could be considered a stellar man.

His name is Zachariah Johnson/Johnston.  Born in the Augusta Co., VA in the year 1742, he was a prosperous farmer by the time the Revolutionary War began.  He served as a captain in the county militia, patrolled against Indian uprisings, and participated in the Virginia campaign that led to the surrender of Lord Cornwallis.  After moving to Rockbridge Co., VA, he served in the House of Delegates.  Apparently, he knew both Thomas Jefferson and Patrick Henry quite well.

He owned three plantations in Rockbridge county, one in Augusta county, and lands in Kentucky.  He married Ann Robertson, daughter of James, and together they had eleven children.

His parents, William and Ann Jackson Johnson/Johnston, were charter members of the Tinkling Spring Church, presenting son Zachariah for baptism on 26 Sep 1742. 

Tinkling Spring Church

When "Committees of Safety" were appointed in every district, he was made a member with high recommendations from his neighbors.  In this office he discovered so much good sense, and such ability to express his opinions with clearness and force, that he was persuaded to become a candidate for a seat in the Virginia legislature...

A religious man, he represented the area Presbyterians when Thomas Jefferson formulated his bill for establishing reigious freedom, which became law in 1786.  He states:
-"Mr. Chairman, I am a Presbyterian, a rigid Presbyterian as we are called; my parents before me were of the same profession; I was educated in that line. Since I became a man, I have examined for myself; and I have seen no cause to dissent. But, sir, the very day that the Presbyterians shall be established by law, and become a body politic, the same day Zachariah JOHNSTON will be a dissenter. Dissent from that religion I cannot in honesty, but from that establishement I will."

I recently had the opportunity to do some research in Virginia, and decided to visit his grave.  The only real information I had was that he was buried at Stonewall Jackson Cemetery in Lexington, VA.  Off we went.

My husband and I had no trouble finding the cemetery, but finding the grave was a different matter.  When we drove in, we saw a statue of Stonewall Jackson.  It was in the middle of an area similar to a traffic circle.  It was quite stately, but the ground was covered with lemons.
Stonewall Jackson Monument
There were lemons everywhere!

For some reason, it just struck my funnybone!  I asked husband Kerry, who is a walking encylopedia of American History why they put lemons there.  He actually didn't know.  It wasn't until I got home and looked it up that I found out - he just like lemons!  Apparently, he like to suck on them when going into battle.  The lemons around his monument, and around his original grave (before he was moved) were all fresh.  Perhaps they are placed there by VMI, located nearby.

The cemetery was old, and we began going up and down every row.  They were very, very hard to read.

View of the oldest part of the cemetery.

When we had nearly given up, my husband suggested "one more time".  Sure enough, just as luck would have it, we found the grave of Zachariah and of his wife, dear Ann.
There were many other family members buried nearby.  Some of the tombstones were so old and weathered, I could only tell what the names were by tracing my finger along the engraving.

A real treat was yet to await me.  At the historical society in town, a dear woman suggested we drive out to look at his house.  HIS HOUSE??!!  Oh, my!  Where exactly was it located?

We located it by doing a GOOGLE search, and found it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  The asking price is $1.5 million.  I want it.  Here is the web site:

Zachariah Johnston house, built circa 1797

This house took my breath away.  Even the drive back to see it was beautiful.  We actually drove right up to the front porch.  I could just imagine stepping out of a buggy right onto the first step.

Some of my ancestors were not quite as prominent as Zachariah.  As a matter of fact, most weren't.  But, chasing them down through court records, moonshine happenstances, brawls, murders, adultery, delinquent taxes, etc. makes them a bit easier to find!

Zachariah and Ann left quite a legacy.  The Library of Virginia in Richmond houses hundreds of his papers, period records and writings.  But, I think the following statement is the best one I've read concerning this ancestor.

We do certify that Capt. Zh Johnston, his wife Ann, his sons John and Zh and his daughter Elizth are in full communion, and free from moral blot known to us: The remainder of his juniors are of fair and unblemished standing in this place. Signed by advice of Session this 21st May, 1792. J. McCue

Free from moral blot.  I like that.  I also like his house.  I want it.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Lost In A Sea of Faces

Lost in a Sea of Faces!
I was six years old, and I was lost.

Quite often, my parents and sometimes my sisters would travel to Palmyra, New York to view the Hill Cumorah Pageant.  It is the one of the largest outdoor pageants in America, and quite possibly the world, with a cast of 700.  Nightly attendance averages 10,000 and more.  Our family had the opportunity to be in the cast on several occasions.  It was one of the highlights of our lives.

When I was about six, my parents and I were there with sister Ferne.  I can't remember if any other of my sisters were there or not.  I just know that we had been sitting in our seats for a long time and were waiting for the time when the pageant would begin. 

Since I was young and a bit squirrelly, I was hopping up and down and trying to convince my mom that I needed to go to the bathroom.  She was hesitant, for she really didn't want to leave her seat.  Ferne said to just go ahead and let me go, and told me the exact route to take up through all of the people to get to the restrooms.  It really wasn't very complicated.  But, I was six.

I came back out, looked around and couldn't remember the route.  It was really just a straight walk down an aisle, but I was six.

I began to cry.  There was a light rain that was threatening us.  I had on a blue and red plaid raincoat.  As more time went by, I began to get terrified.  I saw a sea of faces and knew I'd never see my mom again! 

I cried more.  Soon, a man picked me up and dried my eyes and helped me blow my nose.  He had me stand on one of the benches and helped me look out over the crowd.

I soon spotted my mom!!!  She had begun to worry and was going up and down the aisles looking for me.  When she saw me standing on that bench, she pushed through the crowd, thanked the man, and held my hand tightly back to our seats.

I felt so safe and secure.  Relief just swept over me.  Mom later told me I looked so forlorn when she saw me - and I was just as cold and blue as the blue in my raincoat.
Peggy at age 6 - about the time this incident happened.

I guess as a result of that experience, I worried that the same thing would happen when I began to have my own little family.  I thought the best way to help prevent this was to have something identifiable on us so that we could see each other better.  Shirts were the best idea.   

My good friend, Waunita, told me that when she and her husband took their boys to Sea World, they did that very thing.  Except - there were lots of school children there that day and they all had the same color of shirts on!

So, when we went to Disneyland, I had all of us wear red shirts.  Sure enough, there was a sea of red shirts there that day!  But, there was one man in a yellow t-shirt that I could spot anywhere in the park.  (Yellow stands out particularly well for our eyes.  That's why we have black on yellow for our "warning" road signs - Merge, Railroad, etc.)

Also, when we dressed alike, not only was it easier to spot my kids, but it was easy for them to spot us, too!  They could tell a cop or an information person or a store clerk exactly what their parents were wearing...
I might add that we don't all dress alike now.  They're on their own.