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.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

My Dad, Had He Lived to be One Hundred

Today is the100th  anniversary of my father birth.
Chester Lee and Ida Stevens Clemens, 50th Wedding Anniversary, 1984

He was born into a large family, the fifth child into what would become eleven.  The house he was born in no longer exists in Lawton, Carter, Kentucky, but he often showed me where it was located.  It wasn't really close to anything.
Chester as a baby in a dress.
Chester as a young farm boy, right around the time he married in 1932.
Chester, after working in the coal mines in West Virginia, early 1940's.
Chester in the U.S. Navy.  He served in Pearl Harbor.
He was baptized into the Mormon Church in 1951, later serving as a Bishop.
When he served as Bishop, he baptized me in 1963.

He spent his later years serving as a temple worker in Washington, DC.

Instead of going over a prologue of his life and accomplishments, I chose to go to the website: and see what was going on in the world during his lifetime.

1912:             He was born during a worldwide cholera pandemic.
                     William Howard Taft was President.
                     The Titanic sunk the month before he was born.
1914:            WWI began when he was 2 years old until he was 7.  He had relatives who served.
1918-1920:   He survived the Spanish flu pandemic.  Others in his family did not.
1920:            Women received the right to vote when he was 8 years old.
1922:            Insulin was made available to diabetics.  This would have great bearing on his family, as many  were diabetics.
1926:            Movies with sound were beginning to be made.
1927:            Charles Lindberg made the first Transatlantic flight.
1928:            Television was invented. 
                     Penicillin was invented.
1929:            The Stock Market crashed.  The Great Depression begins.
1930:            Pluto was discovered.  Dad always loved astronomy.
1939-1945:  WWII years.  Dad served in the Navy at Pearl Harbor, the only coalminer from the coal camp in West Virginia to be drafted.
1948:            They began to make 33 1/3 records.  Dad LOVED music.  I get my love of all types of music from him.
1955:            The Sale Polio Vaccine becomes available.  One of his children would become mildly afflicted with polio.
1969:            The moon landing!  Dad was fastened to the television, not believing his eyes.

Dad died in 2002.  He was born in the days of horses, mules and wagons, yet lived long enough to see men walk on the moon.

Some of the above events may or may not have directly affected his life.  I have listed the ones that I remember talking to him about.  He was an avid reader, always having a book or a magazine or a newspaper in his hand.  As a matter of fact, ten years after his death we are still receiving some of his magazines in the mail.  He had them paid that far ahead so as to not expire.

Dad was a poor boy that was born in poverty in the eastern hills of Kentucky - but what a rich life he lived.  He saw quite a lot during his 90 years.  

We miss you, Dad...

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Mapping Our Ancestors

There is nothing I enjoy more than working with maps.

When my sisters and I are on a genealogy trip through Virginia and Kentucky, it is not unusual to find us all spread out on our beds in the evenings as we peruse maps of the area we are in.  Many of those maps are the type you can pick up at the local Chamber of Commerce or public library for no cost at all.

Those maps can take us into every little nook and cranny and hill and holler of these ancestral places.

Once, while giving a genealogy class on maps, a man raised his hand and mentioned that I needed to get some Hildebrand maps.  Okay.  What's a Hildebrand map?  He told me to just call the public library in Roanoke, Virginia and they would point me in the right direction.

So, I did.  And, they did.

Apparently, J. R. Hildebrand was a cartographer who meticulously drew maps of several Virginia counties.  It was hard for me to find out any more about him, as most google hits took me to a race car driver of the same name.

These maps are wonderful!  One map of Franklin County, Virginia has at least a dozen of my ancestors on it.  It covers the time period 1786 - 1886, includes the owner's name on each parcel of land, and the year he first appears in the county.
I realize this may be a bit difficult to view in this venue, but these maps are quite large (card table size) and easy to read.  My sisters and I would be lost without them, for we use a yellow highlighter each time we make a new discovery.

We ordered the entire set, which came to $96.  Here is a list of the maps available:

  • 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
And I ordered them from:
Roanoke Public Library
706 South Jefferson Street
Roanoke, VA   24016

Ask for J.R. Hildebrand Settlement Maps.  If they don't have them anymore, they can point you in the right direction.

My father taught me how to read maps.  He felt it was important, since neither of his parents or his 10 siblings could read a map.  In turn, when my own family traveled, my husband would outfit each of the kids with their own atlas and quiz them on how far it was to the next exit, the next rest area, the town we would be stopping at.  They were all excellent with maps and geography in high school, and when three of the four would enter the U.S. Army, their orienteering skills were impeccable.

Gotta love maps!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Keeping and Writing a Journal

I admire my husband, Mr. Kerry.
He is truly the best person I have ever known in my life!

One thing that he is very disciplined about is keeping his journal.  Each day, while I am still lollygagging in bed, he has been up for awhile writing in his journal.
Even in this day of technology on every hand, Kerry has chosen to handwrite his journals.  His penmanship is impeccable - almost unheard of in today's world, where handwriting can be a lost art.
Kerry and I have similar handwriting.  When we would write letters or send cards to his family, they would always be guessing to see who wrote the message.

Kerry's journals go back several years.  He has kept a daily journal for the past ten years.

But, his record keeping goes back much further than those ten years.  He served as a missionary for our church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons).  Each day of those two years is covered in his journals from 1971-1973.
As you can see, those earlier journals were all done in very meticulous printing, whereas now they are all done in cursive handwriting.

I am unsure who will inherit these journals.  I am just hoping that whoever does inherit them will be able to read them.  The threat of dropping the teaching of cursive handwriting in school is quite disturbing to both of us, for contrary to what may be the norm today, there I simply cringe at the thought of not being able to decipher the court records, marriage records, census records, etc.

Yes, Mr. Kerry is quite the example for me, for he is far more consistent than I am.  I have chosen to do it the easy way - through newsletters and blogs.

And though it is so fun to trace our histories back to a different time, there will be a time when someone will be researching us.  Have we left them a record that will tell them of our lives?  Our feelings?  Our concerns?  The things we hold sacred?  The things we detest?

After all, I want my posterity to know me through me - not through my children!!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Dad went to college?

Dad always told me he went to college.

Um-hmmm.  Dad, who always said he spent three years in 4th grade and finally had to be asked to leave.  Dad, who was not educated beyond 6th grade.  Dad, from the hills of eastern Kentucky where education was not always a priority and opportunity was just not there.
Chester Lee Clemens
On a recent genealogy trip to Kentucky, we thought we would broaden our usual route to include Berea College, where Dad said he attended.  Even if nothing panned out, we enjoy researching at college libraries, which can certainly be a treasure trove of information.
Berea College, from the web site

The first thing we noticed was the beauty of this community.  It was founded in 1855, and the trees and the buildings were stately on this autumn day. 

The second thing we noticed was the beauty of the students.  They were modestly dressed, dripping with manners, and they seemed so happy.  One of the things that sets this college apart is the work ethic.  Students may attend for free, but are expected to work a minimum of 10 hours each week in campus and service jobs. 

The college was the first interracial and coeducational college established in the south.  Its purpose was to help the youth of Appalachia gain education and better their lives.  There are now students from all over the world.  Every one that we encountered had a story to tell, and seemed to be grateful for the opportunity to attend there.

Although it took some effort, we found our way to the area where the student records would have been.  We weren't aware that we should have let them know ahead of time that we would be coming to look for our father's records, and that even some of those might not be available to us.

In the end, our trip was not in vain.  Dad was indeed a student at Berea College.

Chester L. Clemens' name is found just below the point of the pencil.

Unfortunately, Dad's stay at Berea College during the school year 1930-1931 didn't last very long.  He had been enrolled in the Junior High Program, Industrial Arts, but withdrew in the spring.  He went home to Olive Hill.  It was plantin' time.

Dad was never able to return to Berea.  And, the following year, in February 1932, he married my mother.

Both of my parents truly valued education.  They wanted their girls to have every opportunity to learn, and to keep on learning throughout their lives.  Mom and Dad tried - but times were different. 

They did the best they could...

Saturday, May 12, 2012

The 2012 NGS Conference - A Treasure Trove for Genealogists!

Due to some previous commitments, I had the opportunity to spend only one day at the NGS Conference in Cincinnati.  And, I made sure that day was going to count in every way possible.

I chose to skip the classes and spend my day in the exhibit hall.

As a frequent genealogical speaker, I have spent many hours just this year in front of an audience.  This time, I chose to spend time just for me!

My experience in Cincinnati began as I was approaching the city.  Before I knew it, the beautiful skyline came into view, inviting travelers to come and be welcome in their city.

I had no problem at all finding the Duke Energy Center, or the easy directions to the different parking garages.  The garages were certainly filled, but not to capacity.  From the moment I stepped out of my car, friendly attendants were everywhere, helping me find my way across the skywalk into the Center.

    Cincinnati is a different city than when my sister was there attending nursing school in the 1950's.  The downtown area is alive and vibrant and welcoming.
    I LOVED the skywalk that connected the parking garage to the Center.  It took me several minutes to cross, for on one side I could view the exhibit hall, while on the other side there were tryouts for young Olympic hopefuls.
    Once inside the exhibit center, I was immediately greeted by many genealogy friends from all over.  I'm not going to mention their names, for they are well-known in the genealogy circles and on the web.  They already have plenty of coverage.  I count them as my friends, and I cherish that friendship.  
    But, my visit to the exhibit hall was not to elaborate on who or how I know.  I wanted to look at things from the perspective of just a normal genealogist who is just trying to "do" their genealogy.
    The number of exhibitors seemed small, but I soon learned it wasn't because they were few in number.  It was because of the size of the hall.  That was a good thing! I have been to a few venues where it was difficult to navigate among the displays.  I was glad for comfortable walking shoes, for I'm sure I covered a lot of ground in that hall.
    As in all exhibit halls, it becomes more crowded during class and lunch breaks.  At times, I mingled with the crowd.  At other times, I meandered alone.  It provided a wonderful opportunity to peruse the new gadgets and programs, to ask questions of the various societies, to browse through some books I hope to get, and to talk with those "normal genealogists" that were there to gain information and further their research.
    I spent a lot of time at the Ancestry booth, as well as FamilySearch.  Both were quite willing to spend as much one-on-one time as I needed to answer some questions.  
    I loved talking with folks from the Kentucky Library and Archives, the Kentucky Historical Society and the Melungeon Heritage Association.  And what better place to be able to talk with all of these groups, and more, under the same roof?  
    But, the joy of it all was the people.  Whether I was listening to someone talk about their product, or listening to someone discuss their genealogical problem while sharing the same lunch table, I was enriched and enlightened.
    This year was certainly a different experience, as I have attended conferences in the past and wore myself out trying to attend every class and every banquet and every event from morning till evening.  
    Instead of walking away with a brain that was buzzing, I drove home savoring the time spent with the people - those "normal genealogists" that are just trying to do the same thing we're all doing.
    This one was one of the best!

Once inside the Center, there were attendants on every turn to point me in the right direction.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Little Jordan's Prayer

Little Jordan’s Prayer

Jordan, our third child, was an absolute doll.  He was cuddly, bright, charming, and could worm his way into just about anyone's heart.  To see him was to love him.

One of the things I remember took place around our dinner table.  It was a place of a lot of festivity and talking.  We would ask about each other's day, about the best part of their day, Kerry would ask questions about US History, the Gospel, give them math problems, etc.

But, each meal began with a prayer - asking the Lord's blessing on the food and showing our gratitude for it.

One day, it was Jordan's turn to say the blessing on the food.  Like many little children are prone to do, he folded his arms on the table, plopped his head down on them, and proceeded to pray.  The problem was that his mouth and voice were pointed toward the floor.

No one could hear or understand anything.

At the end of it, he raised his head up and looked around.  I had one eye open, so I knew the prayer was over.  Everyone said "Amen" except me.

I told him, "Jordan, I'm not going to say amen because I didn't hear a word you said."

He looked at me and said, "I wasn't talking to you!"

Jordan.  You gotta love him...
Such a happy little feller...

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Always Anxiously Engaged: How they got around

Always Anxiously Engaged: How they got around: I'm not much good at identifying cars.  If I were asked to identify a car, I would probably just say it was a blue one, or a red one.  If I ...

How they got around

I'm not much good at identifying cars.  If I were asked to identify a car, I would probably just say it was a blue one, or a red one.  If I can get close enough to read the brand, I can identify it even more!

My dad loved a new car.  It was important to him to have a good and reliable car, for I believe the cars he and my mom owned while young newlyweds in Kentucky would not have been known for being the most reliable cars.
On my parents wedding day, my dad was up underneath the car working on something when battery acid spilled over into his eyes.  Here is an excerpt from my mother's journal:

When I was about 18 years old I had made up my mind to be married so my mom &dad told me I could get married and my cousin Burl Stevens and Blanch Newland got married on the 28 day of January and on Sunday my Husband to be Chester Lee Clemens and I went up we was all ready to take off.  too my uncle Eddie’s to a Wedding dinner so we all had a good day and went out for a walk and took some pictures of the limestone mines where my father worked so we came home that Sunday night and Clemens ask my dad if we could get married so he said yes so the next morning my darling went to town Olive Hill Ky and got my wedding dress.  He got a very pretty one navy blue with a tan stripe in it it sure was pretty and he got me a nice scarf too so we was all ready to take off.  We wanted to go to morehead KY and be married by the Judge {?} in rowan co. 
We didn’t have no car but Richard & Alice Newton to go and drive the car and be or witness so we was on our way by noon {12} the weather was ice and plenty off mud and no good road at Lawton at the time in 1932.
Clemens had to put the battery in the car so he didnt no how and go up under and got battery watter in his eys and he took like he had been crying all day and people would ask him if he was hurt be cause he was getting married we was late getting back for we had got stuck in the mud and Clemens had to get out and pust so we looked like mud dobers.

Dad and my three sisters in West Virginia.  He was the only one in the coal camp to be drafted.  He served at Pearl Harbor.

Mom and her younger brother, Thearl Stevens.

I can remember when my bro thearl and I saw our first car we sure did get out of the way.

My dad lived with us for a few years before he passed away.  Although he had been the owner of several newer cars since those days in Kentucky, some things he never forgot.  He always felt we needed to get home before dark so we didn't have to use the headlights.  It wasn't until I was talking with my sisters that I learned that they drained the battery in those old cars.  He didn't want to use the windshield wipers or turn the heater on, either.

This is from an era I cannot relate to.  I have never had to crank up a car to get it to run, though I have had to jump-start several.  I never had to rush home before dark, though I did have Dad pushing me to do it.  I never had the experience of seeing a car for the first time and being afraid of it.

Maybe that's why my mom always preferred riding a mule.  She said they were more trustworthy and sure-footed.