Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Meanest Man Who Ever Lived

I have accepted the challenge given by Amy Johnson Crow:  http://www.nostorytoosmall.com/posts/challenge-52-ancestors-in-52-weeks/
She has challenged us to write about 52 ancestors this year, and I have jumped at the opportunity.

My father's grandfather, Ambrose Clemens, was known as the one of the meanest men who ever lived.  That was the reputation that followed him long after he died. 

His talent was well-known.  If someone told him they wanted a room built on to their house, or even a new house built, he would ask them how big they wanted it, how many rooms, etc.  Then, he would calculate it in his head.  He would secure the materials and get to work.

When he was finished, there would barely be a splinter left over.

People in Carter County, Kentucky still talk about how he was so talented as a builder.  He probably would have been a wonderful engineer.

They also still talk about how mean he was.

Since I never met him, I wanted to try to figure out why he was so surly.  I have no pictures.  I heard he looked like Albert Einstein.
I began to look through my genealogy files for any clues relating to Ambrose's meanness.  This is the only thing I could realy find:

1.  His father, Francis, had to farm out his children because of the family's poverty, just as his own father, Benjamin had done to him.

2.  His father, Francis, had married three times.  Ambrose was the next-to-the last child in quite a large family.  He just may have been another mouth to feed.

3.  His grandfather, Benjamin, had been taken to court for cruelty to his wife, adultery, and beating his children.

4.  Ambrose married Mary Ann Brown, and soon after his own children started coming in close succession.  The first three were born in 1885, 1886, and 1887.  Five years passed before the fourth and final baby was born.  They were:
     Etta Bee - born 1885
     Richard Lee - born 1886 (my grandfather)
     Ollie Orie - born 1887
     Minnie Dorie - born 1892

Notice the 5-year gap between the last two children.

5.  Ollie Orie died in Sep 1893, and just two months later, mother Mary Ann died.

Ambrose was now a single father with three very young children. 

Ambrose continues to be found on censuses as a boarder, but never owning his own home or land.  The children were farmed out to others, as he had been, and as his own father had been.

Life was not real good to Ambrose, but he went on.  The children that lived turned out real fine, and they were kind.  I enjoyed going to Aunt Etta Bee's and Aunt Minnie's.  When my family moved from West Virginia to Ohio, they were stranded for several days in Portsmouth, Ohio.  Aunt Minnie took them in without a thought and fed them well. 

Sometimes we have to look at the whole picture of our ancestors.  It's more than just a bunch of names and dates.  It's "family history".

This has been reposted, as I have accepted the challenge given by Amy Johnson Crow:  http://www.nostorytoosmall.com/posts/challenge-52-ancestors-in-52-weeks/

Monday, January 30, 2012

The Death of Little Betty

Oh, my.  Life was very hard for our ancestors.

Dad had a little sister that was born just two years after he was born.  She was the 6th child of what would grow into a family of 11 children. 

They were poor.  There were lots of mouths to feed.  They ate a lot of beans.  They lived in eastern Kentucky.

One day, when little Betty was about 3 1/2 years old, she was sitting on her older sister's lap while beans were cooking on the pot belly stove.  It was January 1918, and it was probably cold.  She and her older sister were rocking back and forth in a rocking chair close to the stove.  The older sister would "push off" on the stove to keep them rocking.
Each time she pushed off, the pot of beans would scoot closer to the edge of the stove until it eventually fell off into little Betty's lap. 

Oh, how it must have burned her and hurt her.  Some of it must have fallen onto her big sister, as well.  But, little Betty was burned badly.

She died three days later.

In our days of modern medicine, her life may have been preserved and not have been so painful.  But, in January 1918, those measures were not available - and she died.

How her parents must have grieved and felt so helpless!  They had already lost a little boy at 3 months to whooping cough and now, little Betty!  And the guilt the oldest sister must have carried throughout the rest of her life...

Little Betty has always been remembered, for my parents named one of my sisters Betty, in honor of her.
Sister Betty, doing genealogy at the Prestonburg, KY library.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Family History Comes Forward, Too...

Family history is all about family.  It doesn't matter if they lived a century ago, or if they are living right here and right now.

Admittedly, we may get along with our ancestors a little better than we get along with those we have relationships with now, but it does include everyone - whether they are living or whether they are deceased.

I have been terribly swamped as I continue to refine presentations, work on my accreditation, and do research.  But occasionally, I must step back and make sure that the ones who are living and and dear to my heart know just how I feel.

Friday evening, after Kerry and I worked at the Columbus Temple, we received a text from son Erik wanting to know if we wanted to meet for dinner.  Of course!  We went to a local restaurant, Wendell's Pub, and had such a delightful evening together.
Erik and Mr. Kerry
Kerry and Peggy.  We are smitten - with the prime rib!  And, with each other, too...

Even though son Jordan and his little family live about two hours away, we don't get to see them as much as we would certainly like to.  Melissa always makes us feel welcome, and the three little grandboys - well, it doesn't get much better than that!
Jordan and Melissa, with JJ, Jayden and Justin

Miss Harmony is on the road all the time now.  Occasionally, she gets to stop in Ohio, and when she does, we try to make an effort to see her.
My little family at Easter. 

And of course, we can't forget the little people who live in the north country!

Each time we have an interaction with our little family, we are creating more family history.  Kerry and I certainly hope our memories that follow us will be good and positive ones. 

It's what family is all about...

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Wizened Ones...

I had the opportunity to spend the afternoon with a 95-year old friend today.

Bless her good heart.  She can't see very well at anymore.  She can't hear very well anymore.  Her short-term memory isn't very good anymore.

But boy, her long-term memory couldn't be beat!

I am very comfortable around older people.  Perhaps it's because I was born into an older family.  My sisters were ages 16, 19 and 21 when I came along, and my parents were well into their forties.  So...my grandparents, all of whom were born in the 1880's, were quite old. 

I could have sat and listened to them for hours.  Actually, I did sit and listen to them for hours, and they listened to me.  Though we were close to three generations apart from one another, their lives fascinated me. 

And, they still do.

This dear friend today had seen quite a lot in her 95 years.  She was born the year before the flu pandemic of 1918, so the fact that she's even here is a miracle in itself.  She was an expert quilter, and her quilts won awards at the Ohio State Fair. 

Now, she's blind.  But trust me, she can still see. 

My grandmother, Bertha, and my mother, Ida.  I spent hours listening to both of them tell the tales of growing up in the early part of the 1900's.  I learned how to honor my own mother by watching her honor hers.
My grandfather, Corb.  His own father died when he was quite young.  He and his brothers were raised by their grandfather.
My dad's parents, Richard and Fannie. 

I really am grateful for the time I am able to spend around older people.  They help me to appreciate my own life.  They inspire me to do better and to be better.

And, sometimes they even drop a little gem about the family's history!!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Free Offline Genealogy Tools

Week 4 – Free Offline Genealogy Tools: For which free offline genealogy tool are you most grateful? How did you find this tool and how has it benefitted your genealogy? Describe to others how to access this tool and spread the genealogy love.

This particular challenge takes me back to the days when I was a young girl getting my start in genealogy by watching my parents.

They did it the old-fashioned way - they still remember relatives born in the 1800's, and had first-hand knowledge of their stories, their recollections, their pictures, etc.  I would sit and listen and try to imagine myself living in their lifetime.  It seemed so far away...

My parents and I spent hours in courthouses, cemeteries and libraries.  My spelling and my handwriting was better than theirs, for I had received more education than they ever had the opportunity to obtain.  I would emerge from the dungeons of the courthouses covered in grit - and I LOVED it!  Some of the grit was the same grit ancestors had touched!!  I would run my hand over documents where their signatures were still visible, and wonder what their hands may have looked like.

But, nothing beats a cemetery.  As I state in the opening pages of my blog, I was in cemeteries when my mother was still pregnant with me.  My favorite picture is one where she is standing sideways on a bridge after a July 4th picnic.  She is getting ready for some cemetery transcribing just four days before I was born!

There we both are - Ida Stevens Clemens and me, Peggy.  I was born just four days later.

Once, when I was about 13 years old, my parents, my girlfriend and an older gentleman were in a cemetery on a Sunday afternoon.  Alice and I stayed together copying information, dad and mom were off on their own, and so was Brother Steele.  While all of my other friends were at the beach of the movies, I was in a cemetery.

My mother wore a wig.  Remember that.

Mom was down on her knees pulling weeds and trying to discover what was written on a sunken tombstone when she came face to face with a snake!  She jumped up and started doing this war-hoop dance and yelping.  Dad saw what was happening and came running with his brush - the kind you NEVER, ever use on a tombstone now.
Dad began beating this snake like it was an anaconda, when in fact it was about as long as one's arm.  The thing is, on the first strike, the snake got stuck in the wire bristles of the brush.  When he saw what had happened, he flung the brush upwards.  My mother looked up to see a snake headed straight down toward her.

My mother ran out from under her wig. 

But on any given day, turn me loose in a library.  Nothing beats a rainy day all cozied up in the corner of a library.  This is one of the first places I head to when on a genealogy trip.  I have hunkered down and read stories of ancestors, their neighborhoods and their neighbors that have taken me back in time and all over the world.  I don't want a tour of the library - just let me discover it all on my own...

Saturday, January 21, 2012

My Favorite Free Genealogy Sites

Week 3 – Free Online Genealogy Tools: Free online genealogy tools are like gifts from above. Which one are you most thankful for? How has it helped your family history experience?
This is week 3 of 52 Weeks of Abundant Genealogy, and I must respond to this one!  It deals with free genealogy tools, of which I am SO grateful for!!
My first and most favorite is www.usgenweb.com, and I use it several times each week.  I have made some of those most terrific finds through the generosity of others who have shared their research.
My first find that sent me into orbit concerned an Adam Gearheart of Floyd Co., KY.  It was simply entitled "Descendants of Adam Gearheart".  It was well written, and confirmed what I felt was correct in my own research.
Carter Co., KY hosts a wonderful site on usgenweb.com.  As a matter of fact, it's one of the best I've ever seen.  I have particularly gleaned many obituaries, for there were many family from Kentucky who moved to this area.   Lots of puzzles have been completed, or at least filled in, because of the vast amount of obituaries that are continualy uploaded onto this site.
Carter County also maintains thousands of pictures in its database.  So, not only do I have obituaries, but faces to complete the stories.  I have enjoyed seeing the family resemblances coming through the ancestral lines.  It also allows me to contribute photos with ease.
My grandparents, Richard Lee and Fannie Collier Clemens.
What would I do without www.findagrave.com?  As much as I LOVE visiting ancestral cemeteries, it's not always easy to do so.  Findagrave has enabled me to go zooming around the United States searching for cemeteries and possible ancestors which may be buried in them.  Again, I have easily uploaded tombstone photos of my own.  Thank goodness for the wonderful volunteers around the globe that contribute to this great site.
Zachariah Johnson/Johnston tombstone, Stonewall Jackson Cemetery, Lexington, VA
My greatest love and gratitude go to www.familysearch.org.  Where do I even begin?  Through the wonderful indexing project, I was able to run across 26 babies that belonged to various family members.  Twenty-six!!!  I truly was not even looking for them, for I didn't know they existed.  But, sometimes we glean help from the other side, for which I am grateful.  These babies were part of a family's history, and now they are included. 
Chester Clemens, my father, as a young baby.  Though he was not lost, several of his nieces and nephews were.  Thanks to FamilySearch, they are not lost anymore.
None of want to feel "lost".  Thanks to these wonderful websites, we can continue our research when we may not be able to afford the paid sites.  Bless the hearts of the good people that continue to volunteer their times and talents to keep them going!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Parents Outliving Their Children

Oh, today is a hard one.

It was just two years ago that the Memorial Service for my oldest son was held.  At the very moment I am writing this, I am looking back at two years to the moment that I was standing in a receiving line as hundreds of friends and family members came from across the country to help us bid farewell to our son.

Our firstborn.

The one you make all your trial and error runs on.  The one you learn how to be a parent with.

Peter was 30 years old.  As he entered into adult hood, he entered into a lifestyle that was completely foreign to us.  The gay community welcomed him as no other group of peers had.  He felt he had a place there.

Soon, it led to drinking, to drugs, to disease and to eventual death.  I received news of his death the day before a scheduled back surgery.  My world came crashing down.  We knew this day would come, but you're just never quite prepared when you actually hear the news.

Peter's body was bruised and broken, and it had taken enough.  From what I understand, he fought long and hard in the emergency room, but his heart couldn't withstand it anymore.  He died three hours later.

Though we butted heads on more than one occasion, he was still the same, sweet young man that we had raised.  It wasn't until his graduation from high school that I learned that he had given up his lunch period for six years to go and read to the mentally disabled kids.  These kids loved him and accepted him - and he didn't have to eat alone.

At his funeral, Mr. Kerry spoke of others within his ancestry that also had buried children - namely his own father, and several grandfathers.  Their feelings would have been no different than the feelings we grappled with on news of Peter's death.

There is not a single day that I don't think of him, grieve for him, feel anger about losing him, and long to hold him. 

I can't wait for that day...
Peter, about a year before he died.
Peter, the week before he died.  Drugs had really taken hold of him, as well as HIV and Aids.  He had what is called "meth mouth", where his teeth were crumbling even while eating soft foods.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Winter Finally Arrived in Ohio!

After some really unseasonable winter weather, we finally got a taste of what we are generally used to! Oh, it's been a bit cold!!! But, I do like snow. I like the change of seasons. I love the smells and foods and clothes all associated with winter.
Our beautiful home in Ohio.

Kerry and I stay nestled up at home most days. If we do venture out, it's to get several things done on the same day. But, just because we stay at home doesn't mean we aren't busy. Kerry is constantly working on things he enjoys doing - writing in his journal, hoping for more books to be published, inventorying our food storage, etc.
These are the two books he has had published, and they are still available. If you would like one, go to www.publishamerica.net Notice his pen name.

Last week, we met sister Fern at a halfway point to gather up some stuff I need for some genealogy classes. We freely share back and forth. Of particular interest for me were some large maps of the British Isles and of Germany - the Palatine area. I will be teaching about immigrants from these areas, and these maps will be valuable. There are also charts on the families and clans of the British Isles. I think people will cluster around those!

Kerry's dad reminded his children to always keep their minds active and learning.  He was a great example of that very counsel, and Mr. Kerry has taken it to heart, too.  Kerry served a two year mission for our church, and mission president frequently reminded them, "When you're green, you're still growing.  When you're ripe, you're almost rotten."

I don't want to be almost rotten.  I want to be in a constant state of learning, and sharing that knowledge.  And, I've had some pretty good examples to learn from!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Paid Genealogy Tools

Week 2 – Paid Online Genealogy Tools: Which paid genealogy tool do you appreciate the most? What special features put it at the top of your list? How can it help others with their genealogy research?

Without a doubt, it is Ancestry.com and Fold3.com!

I could go on and on about the merits of belonging to such a site, but I would prefer to mention a recent success I had.

Asbury Alburt Moore always intriqued me.  He must have intriqued my mother, too.  I believe she met him only one time, for he died when she was six years old.  She was his great-granddaughter, and was a Civil War veteran.

She frequently mentioned that one of her grandfathers had been a member of Morgan's Raiders of Civil War fame.  That was the legend.  However, I could never find any evidence of this.

Asbury was born and married in Grayson County, Virginia.  I had no trouble finding his marriage record, nor in following him on the census as he eventually moved with other family members and neighbors into southern Ohio.

Then, I lost him.  Through Fold3.com, I found his pension and his eventual death at the National Military Home in Dayton, Ohio.  For years, he tried to obtain the money that he was entitled to as a veteran of the Civil War, particularly that of being an invalid due to war injuries.  He fell on the ice in Tennessee, slipped under a wagon where a load of wood fell into his lap. 

His pensions record showed a completely different wife and children than what I had recorded! 

He died, never receiving the disability part of his pension.  Basically, the government told him he couldn't have been too disabled from the wood falling into his lap, for he had a wife and seven more children!  How disabled do you think you are?

Both mom, and then I tried in vain to locate his tombstone for years and years.  Then, just a couple of weeks ago I signed into Ancestry.com and typed in his name. 

The first thing the came up was a photo of his tombstone!!!
Asbury Moore tombstone.
It was as clear and beautiful as any picture I've ever seen!  Another photo showed the beautiful area where it is located.
Soldier's Circle, Greenlawn Cemetery, Portsmouth, Scioto, Ohio

Belonging to these two sites has saved me hours of research and travel time, for they take me back in time and transport me to areas that are beneficial in the discovery of my ancestors.  I offer many thanks to the fellow genealogist (and probably family member!) that posted these pictures.

It is a wonderful time to be alive and have the available of modern technology to further our research.  Yep, some things cost money, but it would have cost me a lot more to have sent away for the penion file, and to traipse around looking for a tombstone.  Now, this information is right at my fingertips.


Saturday, January 7, 2012

Family Resemblances

Today, I jumpstart my genealogy blog.  Due to some illness running through my family, I've had to take a sabbatical.

Thanks to the efforts of some great genealogists, I am going to follow some of their prompts.  I may have a creative gene, but I do not have an original gene.  If someone gives me the idea, I can go into orbit with it.  But if I have to come up with an idea, I will ponder and ponder and not get anywhere!

Here is today's prompt:  1. Upload your favorite picture and talk about it on your blog. Answer the who/what/when/where/why of the subject matter and explain why it is your favorite.

Now this is an easy one and a fun one! 

Years and years ago, when I was only five years old, my dad stuck me up in a cherry tree and snapped my picture.

Peggy in cherry tree at age 5, Mansfield, Ohio

For years and years, when my parents would drag out the old Argus slide projector for an evening of looking at photos, that picture would always come up, and I would think, "Look how cute I used to be!"  Others that saw it encouraged my dad to submit it to a magazine for their cover, or maybe even a calendar.

But, he never did.

I inherited all of my dad's slides.  Mr. Kerry always favored this picture, and as a surprise, he took it and had an 8 X 10 enlargement made of it.  I framed it, hung it on the wall, and didn't think too much about it.

One day, son Jordan came in, stopped and looked at it for a long time before asking, "Mom, when was I up in a cherry tree?"  I told him that the photo was not him, but me!

He looked at me, certain that I was fibbing, and we continued to go around and around about it.  I finally convinced him.

Then, I was going through photos of my own family.  I stopped in my tracks as I found one of Jordan.

Yep, we are certainly mother and son!

As I continue to look through older photos, I wonder how many of my ancestors claimed a resemblance to their parents, grandparents, etc. 

Who do I look like?  I can't wait to see them!