Sunday, December 30, 2012

A grateful heart, and it's written down!

Can I ever be grateful enough?

My mother was one of the most influential people in my life.  She taught me to appreciate all the parts of my life - both the good and the not-so-good.  She was not a despondent person, and I never once saw her depressed.

One thing she emphasized to me a lot was the attitude of being grateful.  She said that if I whined about things too much, the Lord just might give me something to whine about.  She had learned this from her parents, who learned it from their parents, who learned it from...

Because of her good example, I have tried to be grateful for all things in my life.  I am thankful for the good times, when life has been a bit flush and is going smoothly.  But, I am also thankful for the trials that have come into my life.  They have taught me to appreciate the good times.  And, there is usually a lesson to be learned.

A few years ago, my sister gave me a small, skinny, spiral-bound blank book.  It was cute, but I didn't really know what I was going to do with it.  Then, one day it dawned on me what it would be perfect for - a gratitude journal!
It took me two years to fill it up, for I would do it during the passing of the sacrament (communion) at church.  It was a perfect time to reflect on just how much the Lord has done for me in my life.

Some of the things that are included may seem a bit odd when first looking through it.  There are the normal things, like family, grandchildren, home, husband, parents, etc.

But then, I stretch it out to include things that we may take for granted.  In the words of a very wise man:  "Sometimes the things we take for granted are the things other people are praying for."
These have grown to include:  good dental care, tears, my five senses, technology, windshields, hair, etc.  The list goes on and on.

I could fill volumes with the things I am thankful for.  And, I intend to do just that.  I want my posterity to see and notice those things that their grandmother did not take for granted.

And, it's in my own handwriting.  It would be much easier and much faster to do such a volume on the computer, but I want them to know what my handwriting looked like.  I would give anything to see what some of my ancestors' handwriting looked like.

So, 2012 is coming to a close, and so is my fourth Gratitude Journal.  Next week, I'll begin a new one with a whole new list of things to record.

And, it will be different than all of the previous ones.  The older we get, the more of a reverence we have for life...including our own.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Mapping Our Family's History

I love maps!

I have always loved maps.  From the time I was a young girl, my father would place a road map into my hands and I would follow along the route, never once having to ask "are we there yet?"  He told me how proud he was that I could read a road map, for none of his sisters could.

Mr. Kerry and I taught our own children how to read maps, supplying them with their own mini-road atlas as we crossed the country.  Those children were very good at orienteering during their Army years.

But in tracing one's genealogy, it's nearly impossible to create an accurate history without using maps.  I have my own collection, and they are not up for borrowing in my family.  Y'all just get your own!
Once, when I was teaching a series of genealogy classes, the subject of using maps was being emphasized.  I brought some of the most important ones that I have that show nooks and crannies and creeks that contain family names in Carter County, Kentucky.  

One gentleman suggested to me that I needed a Hildebrand map.  Okay, what's a Hildebrand map?  He said just call the public library in Roanoke, Virginia, and they would direct me on how to get one.  

So, I did.  They said they had all of them, and wanted to know which one I wanted.  I didn't know, so I asked them what they had.  When she told me, I knew I had to have them all.  It would cost $96.  I asked if they took Visa, which they did not.  But, she said just send a check in the mail.  She would go ahead and send the maps.  My sisters shared the cost.

When they arrived, nothing else in my house got done.  Nothing.  I perused these maps for days - and I still do!  Mr. Hildebrand was a cartographer who lived in Virginia.  He devised these Settlement Maps that show the residences of people in the county, and the year they first appeared in the county.
The above map is for Franklin County, Virginia, and comprises the years 1786-1886.

How I wish there were more "Mr. Hildebrands" for all of the areas I research in!!  He has done a project that to me is more valuable than most anything else I have.  My sisters and I have spread these maps out and highlighted family members.  Months later, we return to the same map to highlight more.

Other states may have similar maps.  Some may be called a settlement map, others may be a simple plat map.

He's no longer alive so that I may personally thank him.  But, I will forever be indebted to him.

J.R. Hildebrand Settlement Maps

Roanoke Farms
Fincastle County
Wythe County
Town of Salem
Original Grants, Roanoke
Beverly Patent, Orange & Augusta
Borden Grant, west of Blue Ridge
Pulaski County
Rockbridge County
Franklin County
Augusta County
Botetourt County
Bedford County
Montgomery County
Roanoke Public Library
706 S Jefferson St. – Roanoke, VA  24016

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

We Were All Beginners Once...And, Will Be Again!

There has been much talk in the past week concerning "Drive By Genealogists" and some of the effects on beginning genealogists.

I have been an educator in the genealogy field for more than thirty years.  Although I teach intermediate and advanced classes, some of my fondest memories have come in the classes I teach for those that are just getting their feet wet.
They are anxious to get started, but a little bit nervous, too.  At this point in their quest, they don't know about all of the "rules and regulations."

And, I'm not going to tell them.

I give them weekly assignments to get them started.  They are given a couple of pedigree charts and six family group sheets with the following challenge for the coming week:

  1. Fill out the pedigree chart as completely as you can.
    1. Always capitalize the last name!
    2. When recording the place of an event, always include the county.  Always.  not everyone was born in a town, but everyone was born in a county.
    3. Begin recording the date in a standard genealogy format; 27 Nov 2012.  This can really help to avoid confusion if using just numbers.
    4. When recording the grandmothers, use the maiden name.  Always.
  2. For the family group records, fill them out as follows:   
    1. For #1, your family as it appears now.
    2. For #2, your family showing you as a child, with all siblings living or deceased, who they married.
    3. For #3, your mother's family, showing her as a child with her siblings and who they married.
    4. For #4, your father's family, showing him as a child with his siblings and who they married.
I encourage them to contact every living relative for family stories, obituaries and funeral cards, etc.

And, I also encourage them to write down where the information came from and who possesses the obituary, family bible, birth certificate, discharge paper.  

I do not tell them that those sources must be written in a certain format.  That's for later on.  However, emphasis is given that someday when they're gone, their work will have more credibility if they can show where the information came from.  

As they cross the stepping stones into published family histories and family trees on the internet, don't assume they are either right or wrong without looking first to see if their sources were documented.  If they aren't, that doesn't mean they are to be discarded; just use that information as a springboard to take you to the original sources and find out for yourself.  Then, you document it!

Some people may do nothing more than just the above minimum homework of a pedigree chart and some family group sheets.  And, that's fine.

Some may go forward with gusto and pursue a lifelong love of their family's history.  And, that's fine.

The last thing I want to do it completely overwhelm them at first.  I want them to feel this is something they can do.  And, if all they do is simply write that the information came from an obituary in a shoebox in the top of their aunt's closet, that's fine with me.

We were all beginners once, and we are again; each time we begin a new family line or discover a new maiden name, we are beginning our research again!  Hopefully, those that are seasoned are a bit more thorough than when we first started out.  

I want each student to feel this is something they can do.  The refinement can come along the way.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Tombstone Tuesday - Stones by a cabin

While going for a beautiful autumn drive a few days, I happened upon a cabin I've been meaning to stop by for several years.  It is known as Workman Cabin, and is situated in the southwest corner of central park of Loudonville, Ohio, not far from where I live.

It was built on the original homestead about 1840, which was located about three miles from the town.  People had covered it with a type of siding.  It was removed and restored.   Later, it was moved on the back of a flatbed truck when it was donated to the local historical society.

Leaning up against one side of it were two tombstones, that of Hezekiah Clemens, who died in 1812.  I'm unsure of his relationship to the family.
Beside him is the tombstone of Jerutia Workman, wife of Morgan Workman.
What a beautiful centerpiece for this little town!  I wonder how many drive by and never give it a second thought...

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Tombstone Tuesday - Damaged Stones

We've all seen them.

Damaged stones. breaks my heart, as I'm certain that it breaks yours, too.

I've wandered hundreds of cemeteries in my lifetime.  I've seen stones that are tenderly cared for, those that haven't had a visitor in awhile, stones that are old, and stones that are broken.

Some of these broken stones are simply laid up against a tree, or a fence, waiting for someone to take care of them and place them back where they mark the final resting place for a loved one.

However, there are many times where that just won't happen.  Time, money, and wondering where they should even be placed prevent this from happening.

However, while visiting a pioneer cemetery in Richmond, Missouri a couple of years ago, I saw what is probably one of the best answers to this problem I have ever seen.
This pioneer cemetery was filled with early members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints - Mormons.  Much of the cemetery was extremely well-kept.  
But, there was a section that contained stones where they would never be able to find the original graves and repair the stones to be placed there.
So...this is what they did.  They laid them flat, encased in cement, with walkways between them.  They were preserved, and one could easily do a rubbing on them.

One of the best ideas I have ever seen.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Tombstone Tuesday

My dear Aunt "Burnzie".  Though I didn't know her very well or for very long,  I do remember her well.  I was 13 years old when she died.
I always felt she was beautiful - even exotic!  She just had such a gorgeous look, beautiful long, black hair, and a mysterious coloring to her skin.  Perhaps she may have even had some Native American heritage.  I can see why my father's brother, George  Russel Clemens,  fell in love with her.

Aunt Burnzie had a large family of eleven children, and lost at least five of them as babies.  It was hard to have good care in the coal camps of West Virginia.

Aunt Burnzie is buried in Limestone Cemetery, Carter County, KY.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Set in Stone

It wasn't supposed to happen this way.

You raise your oldest child to be your oldest child.  They are the ones you can usually count on to move into adulthood with you before the younger children, to look out for you and your spouse, to help make some decisions, to talk to about plans when you can't care for yourself anymore.

They are not supposed to be buried before you.

Peter William Lauritzen was our oldest child.  He was born when we were still growing up ourselves.  He's the one we made our parenting blunders on.

He was the oldest of our four children.  They were stairsteps, for the fourth one was born when Peter was only five years old.  He didn't like the other kids coming along, for he enjoyed being with just us.  But, they kept on coming.

He grew into a handsome young man, developing his piano talents along the way.  He truly had a musical gift, for when he played, people would stop in their tracks to listen to him play.

After serving a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, he fell into a lifestyle completely foreign to us.  It took him further and further away from family and the values he had been raised with.  He became someone we didn't recognize anymore.

He delved deeper into drugs and alcohol and illicit moral activity.  His body became ravaged and diseased.  It was difficult to recognize him anymore.

One afternoon, after spending time with my son and his family, I came home to hear the phone ringing.  Though there were many things to do after being gone all day, I knew I had to answer it.  After a few questions from those on the other end, I knew what was coming.  Peter had died.

I quickly got in touch with my sons and my husband.  All of them rushed home.  Through the evening, these young men guided their parents into thinking straight.  I was scheduled for surgery the next day.  Peter's body and belongings were in Florida.  While the world was spinning around me, I felt strangely still.

Now, nearly three years later, Peter's stone is in place.  It took me awhile.  There were many times that Kerry and I drove to the monument company to look over stones and make a selection.  But, after driving there, I just couldn't bring myself to do it.

But now, it's done.  His final resting place is marked.  There's nothing more I can do for him.

But, parents just are supposed to outlive their kids.  It's not supposed to work that way...but, sometimes it does.

Rest in peace, my beloved son...
Peter William Lauritzen, Washington Village Cemetery, Richland Co., Ohio.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Remembering the Babies

I have not set out on a quest to discover the forgotten babies in my family.  It just happened.
Little Faye Stevens, youngest sibling of my mother, Ida Stevens Clemens, and the only other girl in a family of eight children.  She died at age 3 of acute lymphatic leukemia.

It first began while perusing the West Virginia Death Records that are available online.  My parents, along with a couple of my dad's brothers and their families were living in the West Virginia coal camps in Logan County.  I had heard my mother mentioned that her two sisters-in-law had a number of pregnancies, along with a number of miscarriages and premature births.  Each of these aunt supposedly had 18 pregnancies.

I found a number of these premature babies listed, along with children that lived.  My heart began to break, for I saw many causes of death that could have/would have been easily preventable today.  Such causes included rickets, malnutrition, childbed fever and syphillis.

I found where many of these young ones were buried, for it was included on the death certificates.  Some made the trip back to Olive Hill, Carter, Kentucky and a couple of others were buried in Logan County.  Even though my parents knew the families intimately, not all of the babies were included in our records.

Another big surprise happened while teaching at a genealogy conference.  I decided to go "live" onto and demonstrate different ways of researching.  While illustrating how one can do a "Parent Search", I filled in the names of my mother's grandparents, Benjamin Franklin and Celia Moore Gearheart.

My mother knew this family quite well.  They lived nearby.  She played at their house.  They died when she was well into her adult years.  But, while I was waiting for the screen to load, I was taken by surprise.  There appeared an entry for Matt Gearheart.
Matt.  Who in the world was Matt?

I searched over all of the records I had, plus went into the files given to me by my parents, and there wasn't any Matt listed anywhere.

First of all, Matt is not a name common in my family, or even in that part of Kentucky.

Second, he was born and died the same year as my mother.

Third, I have noticed a tendency that when a child died in New England, they often named the next child of that same sex the name of the deceased child.  That's not always the case in the South.  Many times, that child's name was just not spoken again.  It may have been  just too painful.

I have now come across forty babies.  I have not set out to discover them, for I didn't know they needed discovered.  At times, we may see a gap in the usual number of years between the births of children that may elude to a miscarriage or death.  But, in most of these cases I didn't know to look.  Little Matt was the last-born of a large family.  He could have easily been forgotten.

But, he and 39 other babies are not forgotten now...

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Large family, small posterity

My mother was the oldest of eight children.

By today's standards, this was a large family.  However, many of those children never made it to adulthood.  Mom made it through the flu epidemic of 1918, but so many of her brothers did not.
Her little brother, Edward, died of infantile paralysis at age 3.
Her little brother, Zearl, died during the flu epidemic.
Another little brother, Delbert, died at age four of unknown causes.
Her only sister, little Faye, died at three years old of acute lymphatic leukemia.  She was the youngest.
Her favorite brother, Thearl, was born when Mom was five.  They were playmates and as close as any brother and sister could be.  He did live to adulthood, served in the Navy, married, had one daughter, and died from complications of diabetes at an early age.
A brother that was absolutely beloved by all was also taken in death at an early age - 34.  He married, but had no children.

That leaves one living brother, who still lives in the family home in Kentucky.  He and his wife had one son, who was killed in an ATV this summer.

This large family had only six grandchildren, of which my sisters and I are four of them.  I'm sure my grandparents had no idea of the tragedies that would beset them, for they had come from large families, too.  Their cousins number into the dozens.

My own parents had nine grandchildren from three of their four children.

And then, there's me.  My husband and I had four children.  One has passed.  Our grandchildren numbered five, but then extended to include ten through adoption.

I look at the situations that my grandparents endured while raising their families.  Many of the causes of death that would be relatively easy to treat today tragically swept through their family and extended loved ones, bring sorrow.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Battle Still Rages - 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks

This past week was the anniversary of the Battle of Blair Mountain.  In honor of that battle, and my young father's place in it, I am reposting this entry from three years ago...

Another post for 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks...

I have watched with interest the ongoing battles concerning Blair Mountain in West Virginia.  This mountain and its people just won't give up.

Bless their hearts.

I began to study the history of this mountain, beginning with an article on Wikipedia:
I saw the images of the battle that raged back in August and September of 1921.  What I did not know was that my own father played a part.

He was a boy, not even 10 years old.  Let me quote from his own writings:

As well as I remember we did not stay in Olive Hill very long after Betty died because we moved back to Lawton where we lived till we moved to West Virginia and that was quite an experience because moved to W. Va. In a boxcar along with a man by the name of Milton Cline, each family had one end of the boxcar and since we were moving to the same place everything worked out all right, there was no trucks to move one in those days and very few automobiles, one might see a half dozen autos a week and there was no paved roads, we moved to an area called Rex Camp which was owned by the coal company, I think it was the year of 1920 when we made that move and that would have made me about eight years old at that time, it could have been 1919 when we moved, I do remember that I was very young and I had never heard anyone talk in a foreign language and it sounded so silly to me, it took me a long time to get used to it because we had foreigners living all around us but they had their own schools and the black people had their own so we managed to get along allright with everyone but it still was a lot different than Kentucky, my oldest brother Russel and my father both worked in the coal mines and although we were poor people I cannot remember a time when we went to bed hungry.

Let’s go back for a moment when we were moving to W. Va., I remember that we were in a passenger coach on the train and the boxcar with our household furniture in it was the last car on the train so we did not get there before our belongings did and one thing I remember so well is that my uncle Logan Brown was sharing the same seat on the train and I got awfully sick and I begged him to let me sit next to the window so that I could vomit out the window and he would not do it and when the train stopped I could not hold it any longer so I vomited all over him and he was very mad about it and I told my father what happened and he told Logan that if had let me to the window it would not have happened.

As well as I remember we lived there about one year or more before trouble started, the union was trying to organize the coal fields and the coal companies didn’t want that to happen and there was fighting all around, the union men were coming over Blair Mountain into Logan County and all who would not join the union were called red necks and my uncle Arthur Fitzpatrick, a big Irishman who had just gotten out of the army in 1918 and he was tough but they arrested him because marshal law had been declared and him and me started to walk to Logan about four miles away and a deputy sheriff inquired where we was going and he told him it was none of his business and he arrested him, and he handed me his big 45 army colt and he told me not to let anyone take it from me and I took it back to my aunt Etta Bee and gave it to her and they blackballed him out of Logan County and never would let him come back, it was not easy living under marshal law but we did it for about two years or more.

During the war between the union and non union there were many people killed on Blair mountain, the sheriff of Logan county and some of his deputies was killed and many coal miners went to work and never returned.

The army moved heavy artillery right by our house by mule team and we could hear the heavy artillery being fired from our home, nothing looked good at all for a long time but we finally come out all together.

Wow.  My own father was part of the history of Blair Mountain, and he was only a boy.  He acted in the face of danger - danger than an adult placed him in.

A different type of battle rages there now, and I am unsure what the outcome will be.  I wonder what my dad would be thinking now...

Monday, July 9, 2012

A Kentucky Funeral

It was just two short weeks ago that we learned of the death of my cousin, Gregory Earl Stevens.

Greg was the only child of my aunt and uncle, and the apple of their eye.  They were married 14 years before he was born.  It would be hard to find a son better loved than Greg.
Have you ever seen a prouder look in a father's eye?

Greg was only 42 years, and his life ended in an ATV accident.  He was not horsing around.  He came up out of a creek bed and got stuck in some weeds.  When he gunned it, it flipped backward on him, crushing him badly.

It has been many years since I attended a Kentucky funeral.  As a young girl, my memories were not always pleasant ones.  I remember wakes that lasted through the night while the body lay in state in the parlor or front bedroom.  Someone would bring up politics or religion, and mom knew it was time to send me upstairs to bed.  "Discussions" would begin in the dining room, move to the living room, the front porch, and eventually right out into the front yard.

Women would begin bringing in the food, trying to find room for it all on the groaning table.  There would be periods of crying, coupled with periods of laughter and memories.

All of this was called "sittin' with the corpse".

The funeral service was held at the local church, accompanied by a very loud preacher.  I mean no disrespect by stating this.  But, to a little girl it can be quite overwhelming - even frightening.  The church my family attended in Ohio was quite a bit different.

My sisters and I left early in the morning to drive to Olive Hill, Kentucky.  We've driven Rt. 23 south many times in our life - mostly for funerals or Decoration Day.  We were still in shock, but talking with each other greatly eased some of our grief.  We all have good memories of Greg, and of our Aunt Betty and Uncle Dick.

The funeral chapel was in Globe, and the parking lot was already packed.  When we pulled in, we were greeted by someone who is actually a shirttail relative of ours.  I asked him when the next Cline Reunion was going to be, since we hadn't been to one in 12 years.  He said there hadn't been one since then.

People were looking us over.  First of all, most of the cars and trucks were Chevys and Fords.  We drove up in my sister's Toyota Sienna.  We all had skirts on.  There weren't many others who wore skirts or dresses.  I'm sure they were wondering who in the world we were.

We spotted my uncle first.  I was amazed at how much he had aged in the short time since we've seen him.  He embraced me and told me to take lots of pictures.  I mentioned that some people might not like that practice, but he said he didn't care.  He wanted pictures.  Period.

Among all of the beautiful flowers was a bevy of quilts that people chose to send.  I've seen this in the past, but neither of my sisters had.  What a tender way to cuddle up in comfort long after the flowers are gone.
As the choir came in, each member paused to embrace the family.  I was so touched.  Their hugs and love were genuine.  They began to sing, and I was immediately taken back to my childhood.  In my heart and in my mind, I could remember every word.  The peace and comfort began to flow over me.

A wonderful bagpiper played "Amazing Grace" as we filtered into the cemetery.
After a few words at the cemetery, we all traveled up Rt. 174, past Aunt Betty and Uncle Dick's house, past Greg's house, all the way up to Porter Creek Fellowship Hall.  When I walked in, I was taken aback by the tremendous amount of food that had been brought in.
I have never seen so much food at a funeral.  Actually, I've never seen that much food at any of our church socials.  The table seemed to go on for miles, sometimes three deep across the table.  The dessert was located against the wall.

Some of was catered, most was homemade.  My mind again returned to my childhood as I grazed my way through fried chicken, mashed potatoes, fried corn, green beans picked that morning, cornbread, red tomatoes, yellow tomatoes, cucumbers, stack cake, butterscotch pie, chocolate pudding, etc.  I can't even begin to list it all.  The sweet church ladies kept coming around asking if we got enough, and reminding us about the "to-go" boxes that were available.

I sat and talked with my aunt for a long time, my sisters sat with my uncle, who just couldn't eat.  Greg's only child, Ericka, sat across from us with her little daughter, Skylan.  Ericka couldn't eat, either.

Our hearts were broken as we left them for our trip back home.  But, knowing the people in the eastern hills of Kentucky, my aunt and uncle and Ericka will be well taken care of in their grief, their sorrow, their long days to come.  The church and neighborhood family will step in to be the comfort they need in our absence.

There are no more cousins on this side of the family.  My uncle is my mother's only living brother out of a family of eight children.  Mom was the oldest.  Uncle Dick is next to the youngest.  

This funeral brought sweet memories back to me - memories of being a little girl without a whole lot of understanding to a woman grateful for the experiences of childhood.  

Thursday, June 14, 2012

How did they not stink?

I love to soak in a wonderful bubble bath...
But, my ancestors didn't.

I grew up in an older family.  My parents were born in the early 1900's, and their parents were born in the late 1800's.  People are amazed when I mention that I knew people that were born in the 1800's.  But for me, it was the norm.

Because they were of a generation quite a bit older than most of my friends, their ways, habits and traditions were also a bit out of touch.  My parents were the age of most of my peers' grandparents.

One of the things I grew up with was a generational line drawn between bathing every day and bathing every now and then.  My parents followed the tradition of their parents by taking their last bath of the year sometime in the late fall and not bathing again until spring.  In his later years, my father lived with our young family and followed this same tradition.

But, never once did my parents or their parents ever have a bad odor.  How did they not stink?

I really don't know.

They didn't pile on lots of powders or perfumes, and they did use deodorant.  They were not offensive in any way concerning their hygiene.

So, how did they do it?
Well, I'm sure this was one way, but this would have occurred mostly in the summer months.  Dad told me he learned how to swim because his brothers threw him in the Upper Tygart Creek in Kentucky.  One either learned how to swim or drown.  That was their choice.

I watched my mother and her mother make batches of lye soap - something I cannot stand to this day.  She would render lard in a cast iron skillet, also saving the ashes.
It was used for scrubbing just about anything.  When I used it on my skin, it would be quite abrasive and seemed as though it burned my skin!

And then I ran across the web site for Colonial Williamsburg, where it described in detail how one would deal with those who did have an offensive odor.  They simply sprayed a lace handkerchief and slipped it up their sleeve.  Then, it would be quite handy to remove the hankie and place it near the nose and sniff the perfume.  Maybe that's why my female ancestors kept hankies close by them, sometimes tucked in their ample bosoms.

Mom and Dad also believed that bathing too often in the winter months would provide more opportunity for disease and the ague to set in.  For females, a monthly flow meant no bathing, and certainly no washing of hair.  I argued and argued with Mom over this one, but she finally relented to letting me take a short bath, but don't even ask about washing my hair.


Perhaps part of the reasoning comes from just how hard it was to get a bath ready.  In the hills of eastern Kentucky, running water was a rarity.  It meant heating up the water on the stove, perhaps after hauling it in from the creek.  Dad would take a bath first, followed by my three sisters.  Since he worked in the coal mines, the water would readily turn black, so by the time the youngest of my three sisters had her turn, Mom had to really hang onto her so she wouldn't lose her.  Hence, "don't throw the baby out with the bath water!"

I love the cleanliness standards of today.  I grew up feeling greasy and smelly (those teenage years encouraged the oil in my hair and skin), so I love to soak in a wonderful tub and read a book with a candle glowing softly nearby.  My towels are soft, unlike whatever feed sack Mom could find to use as a towel.

But, how did they not stink?

I must thank fellow blogger, Caroline M. Pointer, for her post of today, and for her challenge to write a blog on this subject.  Caroline, I did it.  But, how did they?

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Appalachian Feuds - My Take on the History Channel's "Hatfields and McCoys" Miniseries

Wow!  That's my first impression of having watched the "Hatfields and McCoys" on the History Channel this past week.

Let me first point out that I am not from either West Virginia or Kentucky, but my parents and my three older sisters are.  They were born and raised in the area where this infamous feud took place.

Feuds are nothing new.  They have been going on since the days of Cain and Abel, Jacob and Esau, Isaac and Ishmael, and Romeo and Juliet.  There just doesn't ever seem to be a good outcome.

The Appalachian area was filled in by both Germans and the Scots-Irish.  The Scots-Irish, in particular, has been plagued by feuds for centuries and is not uncommon today.  These feuds existed over land, religions, romance, etc. - and the element of these feuds came right over to America with them.  We've all heard of the 'Fightin' Irish'.

When the area of the Shenandoah Valley was settled, the Germans came southward from the southeastern areas of Pennsylvania and created beautiful farmland.  They were renown for keeping their homes and farms neat, clean, and highly functional.  They were basically peaceful, but still protective.  The Kentucky Rifle was actually fashioned by the Germans.

The Scots-Irish, known for their tempers and their warfare in the old country, were pushed a bit further to settle the frontier.  This helped in the protection of homes against the Native Americans that were being edged further to the west.  They didn't have a lot of fear in the blood.

Come forward a few years to the Hatfield and McCoy feud.  The same pride, stubbornness and sense of justice are coming right along with them.

I won't go back and repeat the story, for it is being re-broadcast again tonight, and you can find the story simply by doing a google search on the subject.  It is the most famous of the feuds.

The main story consists of hog-stealing, forbidden love between the families, and killings.
The leaders of the two rival families.
The two who fell in love.  She ended up pregnant.  They never married, the baby died, and it is said she died of a broken heart.

The History Channel's Miniseries was certainly believable, and they were mostly correct.  But, in talking with my sisters, it was easy to tell this was not filmed on site.  It was filmed in Romania.

First of all - the terrain was much too nice.  In West Virginia and Kentucky, the hills are very, very steep and thickly forested.  There are few flat areas for running the horses.   In the late 1800's, when the story actually was in its heyday, the forestation was so thick that one would be hard-pressed to get through it at all.  It's the same today!  The hills are at such an incline that it would have been hard to get equipment to stay on them at all.

Second - the cabins were too nice.  Back then, they would have been hewn logs with every chiseled mark clearly visible.  There were have been mud chinks packed in between the logs.  The cabins in the movie were ones I would like to live in today!

Third - the horses.  I'm just not too sure about the horses.  Most horses were used for plowing.  Mules were the preferred mode of getting through the hills.  My mother much preferred to ride on a mule than a horse, for mules were more sure-footed.  These horses look like they were taken from the Kentucky Derby.

Fourth - the accent.  I'm sure it was just the Hollywood version of the Appalachian "twang" - and it's not easily duplicated.  There was at least one local in the movie, and I could spot him a mile away.

Fifth - the saloon scenes and the "get on your horse and let's go" reminded me of western movies.  This would not be unusual, given Kevin Costner's background in "Dances With Wolves" and others.

But, all in all, I thoroughly enjoyed the miniseries, and plan on watching it again.  I was happy to hear that a truce had been called and a declaration that the feud had ended, but I'm not so sure that feuds really end.  There always seems to be an air of mistrust hanging in the background.

My father liked to relate an incident that happened while living in Logan, Logan County, West Virginia.  He and my mother and sisters lived there in the late 1930's and 1940's.  Everyone knew of this famous feud.  Dad even took my family over to see Devil Anse's grave.
In this part of Logan County where they lived, they lived in a house on a road that was very, very steep.  Mom always said if you open your mouth and talk while walking uphill, you would get a bit of dirt in it.  The house was built on stilts.  The house up on the hill above him had a drainage pipe where sewage would spill over into my family's back yard.

The family's name was McCoy.

Dad told the man on several occasions the problem needed to be solved.  Mr. McCoy replied that once it left his yard, it didn't matter to him.  It was no longer his problem.

Getting nowhere by talking, Dad took matter into his own hands.  He mixed up a batch of concrete and plugged up the pipe.  Problem solved.

Mr. McCoy was furious, but eventually the problem was solved.  Just think - there could have been another feud...

Little did dad and mom know that our family lines have now been researched back into the McCoy line!

For more info on feuds:

All pictures are from

Monday, May 28, 2012

A Fond and Heartfelt Salute!

It is time to again honor the veterans who have served in our family. I am so grateful for their willingness to put their lives on the line to insure our freedoms we so enjoy today.
Chester Lee Clemens, my dad, who served at Pearl Harbor.

Kerry's dad, Orson William Lauritzen, served on the Naval Transporter Pacific Okinawa Campaign 1945.

Daughter Harmony Rebekah Lauritzen, who served in the Signal Corps.
Son Jordan Christopher Lauritzen, who served in the Army Band.
Son Erik Lauritzen, who served in the Dietary Department.
Kerry's brother, Bill Lauritzen, who was killed in a jeep accident in Germany in 1965.
Kerry's brother, Steve Lauritzen, who served in Viet Nam.
Kerry's brothers, Christopher and Kelly, who are still serving.
Kerry's sister, Charm Lauritzen, who served in the National Guard.
Kerry's Uncle Wilson and his wife, Idona.
Kerry's Uncle Vaughn and his wife, Lona Mae.
My mom's brother, Richard Stevens, who served in the Korean War.
Sister Fern's husband, James Bierce, who served in the Navy.
Sister Betty's husband, Perry Demming, who served in the Air Force.
Ancestor John Littleton, who died when the D A January exploded near Cairo, IL.
Mom's great-grandfather Robert H. Stevens, who was a POW in the Civil War.

Oh, I could go on and on and on....

And, there are many, many, many more...As a matter of fact, I have begun a spreadsheet where I list all of my military finds, the war they served in, their rank, etc. I am now up to 86 ancestors that have served in everything from the French and Indian War to the present.

I honor them. I thank them. I salute them.