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