Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Family Dopplegangers

Sometimes family resemblances are just too strong not to notice.

Harmony licking sap from sugar cane

Angel munching a delicious apple


His grandfather, Kerry

Peter, our son
His grandfather, Orson

And, last but not least...
Jordan, our son

And me, Peggy!

When I hung up my picture in the cherry tree, son Jordan walked by and asked when he was ever in a cherry tree!

A Perfect Combination

Right in the middle of winter, when we all have the dreary doldrums, a dazzling marriage of two conferences is taking place.

We can't help but win!

The Federation of Genealogical Societies and RootsTech have combined forces to hold the largest conference yet.  And, I will be there!

I am already prepared to both attend this conference, and be one of the speakers.  The FGS conferences have always been worthwhile to attend, and this one will be no different.  My attendance at a previous RootsTech conference left me longing to increase my technology skills even more.

I can't wait!  Though there will be thousands of attendees, I expect no problem in finding fellow bloggers, Facebook friends, and genealogy colleagues.  We just always seem to be in the right place at the right time.

Having been to the Salt Palace for a previous RootsTech conference, I know:

  •  This is a large venue that will require the most comfortable shoes I own.  We are staying just a stone's throw away at the Marriot, and it doesn't sound far.  BUT, this is Salt Lake City, and the streets are wide and the blocks are long.  Brigham Young said the streets must be designed to be able to turn a wagon pulled by four horses around.  I only have two legs, so I must accomodate.
  •  I must bring the right glasses.  All of them.  I will need my trifocals, my readers, and sunglasses. Bright sun on snow reflects into my eyes, rendering me useless.
  • I must learn to condense.  A cross-body bag forces me to weed out what I don't need to lug around.  My hands are free to look over products in the Exhibit Hall.  My arms will be free for plenty of hugging.
  • I look forward to all of the address labels that will be arriving for the holidays.  They are great for filling in entry slips in the Exhibit Hall.
  • Business cards are a must!  It's even better when you remember to bring them.
  • I get hot.  I get cold.  Therefore, I love clothing that doesn't wrinkle.  I have a light jacket I just bought that can easily be wadded up and put into that cross-body bag.
  • I take pictures.  I use a camera, a real one.  I just don't like to fill up my phone.
  • My Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 goes with me, too.  I love being able to take notes on Evernote.  That is just one of the most wonderful techy-things ever!  
  • The Family History Library is across the street!!!!!!
I love attending conferences.  And, I love the networking and the camaraderie that happens when meeting friends that I have only known "virtually".  But, even more important to me, I am there to learn.

Yes, I am there to speak.  But, I am also there to learn.  I have been involved in family history all of my life.  I have spoken to thousands of people in hundreds of venues.

But, I need to learn.

Prepare to attend this combined conference, either in person or through live-streaming.  You will learn things that you didn't know that you didn't know.

That, I know.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

At Home in a Cemetery
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, I went to 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.

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.

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?"

Yeah.  It was alright.  So was I, in case anyone was wondering...

Nope!  Don't ever use these!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

For the Strength of Our Youth

I have worked with some fantastic youth for the past several weeks.  They have been in and around central Ohio, most are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and they are phenomenal!

Let me tell you about yesterday.  I spent the day in Reynoldsburg, a suburb of Columbus.  The youth leaders had been planning a "Beehive Bash", and wanted to know if I would come and talk to the girls.

Sometimes I say no to things, but I rarely say no to working with young people.  They need our encouragement and trust, and need to know how valuable they are.  In turn, we need them.

The moment I got there, I was taken away into another realm.  There were about 40 girls between the ages of 12-13.  There were various "stations" where the girls would go to learn family history facts:
These four women represented ladies from the early 1900's and late 1800's.  They would tell stories to the girls, the girls would listen for clues, and then they would interview the women.

The girls loved being on the computers in the Family History Center.  Their minds and fingers are quick and sharp.

They made crafts commemorating this day.  This dog tag would eventually become a beautiful piece of jewelry.
 I was really impressed with the attentiveness of these young girls.  
 They called the girls "Superheroes".  They even gave me a cape!

 Books from the local library were on hand to inspire the girls to learn.

 They even had a cemetery set up as you walked in the door.  There were clues on several of the graves.  It's amazing what you can buy at the Dollar Store and the Halloween Store.

 Of course, you have to have food.  Mr. Kerry made a wonderful banana split.
And, it finished up with me.  I don't know how had more fun - them or me!

I especially wanted the girls to know how proud I was of them.  On a beautiful Saturday morning, they chose to do what none of their friends were doing.  They chose to learn about how to better research their own families.

And, today at Church, I nearly repeated the same presentation to the girls I see each week.  

I'm happy to be working with the young people of today.  Someday, they will be taking our places.  Someday, they will be the moms and the grandmas we talked about.

God bless the youth!

Saturday, January 11, 2014

She saved me so much time and money!

I had to really give this one some thought.

Gilbert Stephens was an ancestor of mine who fought in the Revolutionary War.  He served from Virginia, later moving his family to Morgan County, Kentucky.

Years ago, I sent for his pension file from the National Archives.  It was a large one, costing a total of $72!  The day it arrived was indeed a happy one.  And, nothing else got done in my house for several days as I read through it.

Gilbert was entitled to bounty land for his service in the Revolutionary War.  We were a country that was cash poor, but land rich.  The last years of his life was spent trying to secure the necessary proof needed for his land.

Then, he died.  Wife Nancy Osborn Stephens was left to continue on with the quest.  And, this quest went on for years.

She spent those years trying to produce the needed proof of her marriage to Gilbert.  Many, many documents are included in the pension file that attest to witnesses having known them all of their married life, and that they were indeed married.

It wasn't good enough.

Even their sons wrote that their parents were indeed married.

That wasn't good enough.

Nancy asked a man to go back to Virginia to see if anyone was alive that could remember the wedding, which took place at Thomas Leadingham's home, where she was a servant.

The man went, but died when he was there.  

One of the final pages in the pension file indicates the following:

Nancy states that after years of trying to prove she was indeed married to Gilbert Stephens, "she expects she will not be able to produce any public record of her marriage".

This absolutely touched my heart.  She was 88 years old and couldn't remember if she was married in 1796 or 1797.  Dozens of friends and relatives stated their knowledge of Gilbert and Nancy being husband and wife, including her own brother, Jesse.

But, none of it was good enough.

In the end, she actually was given the bounty land due to her and Gilbert.  

She died a very short time later.