Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Every Opportunity Counts

I consider myself to be one of the most fortunate people alive.

I was recently asked about my background, my education, etc.  I took a deep breath and gave my answer.

Other than high school, I have no formal education.  But, I certainly am educated.  Let me tell you why.

The opportunity to go to college was not there for me.  Being the baby of the family is not easy, for I didn't have a line of people encouraging me in that direction.  All of my sisters are educated, with nursing degrees and x-ray technician backgrounds.

But, I am not.  I was generally told college was for smart people.  And, I believed that.

So, I educated myself.

I worked at Bierce Library at the University of Akron for a number of years.  I could have taken classes for college credit for free.  But, I didn't.  I did take one class on how to play the harmonica from a man who used to play with Freddie and the Fendercats.  Now, I don't have the breath to even play the harmonica.

All I ever wanted to be was a wife and mother, and I really didn't think that would ever happen, either.  But, it did.  And, soon I was "stuck at home" with four children under five years old.

This is when I did my greatest amount of learning.  While the kids were napping, I was reading and studying.  I was expanding my musical talent, learning how to go beyond piano and organ and saxophone (from high school).  I acquired six-string and twelve-string guitars, a banjo, autoharp, recorders, and anything else I could get my hands and taught myself.

As the kids grew, we spent hours at the library.  Each were allowed to check out ten books - forty books each week!  Kerry and I would immerse ourselves in the history and reference section.

Our kids began to realize how books could open up the world to them at a very early age.

When my kids were in junior/senior high school, I was asked to be the Family History Director at our local ward.  At this time, I hadn't taken the time to learn to do the things the easy way (microfiche, microfilm).  I had always gone to the actual areas with my parents.

Long story short...that assignment led me to where I am today.  I have traveled the United States and spoken to the world.  

So, when asked about my background, let me give some advice:

1.  Always, always take advantage of every opportunity for learning that comes your way.  There are so many to choose from.  They range from conferences, webinars, and classes to local gatherings at the public libraries, local genealogy societies, and even public television.  Learning about the 1918 influenza epidemic helped me to realize how difficult it was for my grandmother and her sister to lose seven babies between them.  It enhanced the writings in my mother's journal, who happened to live through it and remembered it as a five-year old.

2.  Learn to recognize the opportunity in front of you.  It may come in a casual conversation with someone of advanced age, a class being held, a book at a book sale.  

3.  Make the time to learn.  If you wait for the time to come, you may be waiting a long time.  Set aside the time for your own education.

4.  Some opportunities are free - some may cost money.  We were a single-income family, so I had to be judicial in what I spent money on for myself.  It might mean only one trip per year with my sisters to do research.  It might mean borrowing a book from the library instead of buying it.  One of the best ways is looking through what I already had in my own home.

5.  Conferences and institutes are tremendous, if you can afford them and the travel involved.  I have been fortunate to attend many conferences, but had to sit back on many more.  With modern technology, I can attend some of the streamed sessions.  

The Family History Library is hosting a wonderful United States Research Seminar in August.  I would love to be attending it.  But, I can't.  However, there are at least twenty classes being streamed!  Take a look at it here .  I have registered for as many as I can.

6.  I am an Accredited Genealogist, and have been for the past fifteen years.  I made a choice between becoming Accredited, or going through the Board for Certification of Genealogists.  I chose the first, as it hones you in on a specific area.

I did not need to do this professionally.  But, I wanted to.  Some of my friends and colleagues were proud of my accomplishment, and let me know that.  But, I'm still the same Peggy as before.

My oldest child had left on a mission, and I had three more in various stages of junior/senior high school.  Acquiring this Accreditation was one of the hardest things I had ever done.  I thought I was good, but it polished me.  I am so grateful that I set that as a goal, and that I reached it.

There are many genealogy colleagues who are neither Accredited or Board Certified.  But, they are good.  Very, very good.  Neither of these are needed to do professional research or speaking at different venues.  But, perhaps it helps when the post-nomials are noted, for it shows you have gone a little further.

7.  I learn from my peers.  I have attended classes when I have sat in awe at the tremendous amount of information being shared.  I have learned things I didn't know that I didn't know.

I have also attended classes where the only thing I learned was how not to teach a class.  I am not saying that to insult the presenter.  I have known several whose brains are so full of knowledge that I am coveting them.  But, they didn't quite know how to convey that knowledge to others.  As they spoke, I took note of the attendees around me.  Again, I learned how not to teach.

8.  I am always in research mode.  Always.  When we travel, I am reading.  When we were waiting for children at piano lessons, swim meets, tennis matches, etc., we always had a book.  (We watched our parents do the same thing.)  We never go anywhere without a book to read or a journal to write in.  

9.  I have found that by helping another person, or preparing a new lecture - I learn more than anyone else.  I believe it's called *homework*.  

10.  Belonging to your local or state genealogy society benefits you in so many ways.  I am fortunate to live just a few moments away from the Ohio Genealogical Society.  I have blogged about it several times, and those are tagged in the right column of this blog.

One thing they have begun doing is having a series of summer learning sessions - for free!!!  Please check out what has already been offered, and what is yet to come:

If I follow the example of my parents, my in-laws, and Mr. Kerry, my learning will never come to an end.  In today's world, there is no reason to remain uninformed on a subject.  

We choose those things that are the most important to us.  For me, it has been lifelong learning.

So, don't be discouraged if you're not able to go to all of the events you would like to.  Instead, be grateful for the things you may have right in front of you.  Kerry's father counseled his children:
Always keep your mind active and learning.

AND, from one of my previous posts

When you're green, you're still growing.
When you're ripe, you're almost rotten.


Sunday, July 24, 2016

Treasures at the Ohio Genealogical Society

 I have been spending quite a bit of time at the Ohio Genealogical Society lately.  It's a treasure that is actually just down the road from me -- about seven minutes away.

After it's humble beginnings at someone's home, it moved to two other properties before building its new home.  The dedication of this beautiful building was six years ago.  It is conveniently located off of a major interstate.

I have done some posts about OGS before, but this time I just want to show you some photos I took there yesterday.  It was a perfect way to spend a hot, humid, Ohio afternoon.

This is the interior of this beautiful library.  There are rows and rows of books about Ohio, and about the states touching Ohio.

This is the obituary collection that I wrote about.
Al and Julia Hoffman spent nearly two years digitizing these for FamilySearch.  

These are the vertical files containing a bounty of information on families.

A closeup of some of those vertical family files.

This file contains unpublished manuscripts about the counties and localities in Ohio.

The computer room is phenomenal, with the capability of scanning microfilm and downloading it to a flash drive.

They have a marvelous collection of both city and rural directories.
I wrote about these in an earlier post.  You can read it here.

This is only a portion of their yearbook collection.

This file contains family charts that people have sent in to add to the collection.
I made sure Mr. Kerry's family is well represented.

They even have a lending library!  These books are duplicates of those on the shelves.

Newspapers dating back to the mid-1800's are stored in a temperature-controlled archive room.

All of these beautiful volumes contain naturalization records that the state didn't want, or perhaps didn't have room for.

Here are a couple of pages from some original tax records.
These are also stored in the archive room.
The ORIGINAL 1880 census for the state of Ohio!
Yes, I said the original.
I was able to look at one of the volumes, and was amazed at the clarity of the writing.
It's interesting that I could read it so well, but if I were looking at it on microfilm, it might be faded out.
This is the manuscript collection.
Many times, when someone dies, the family members will donate their papers to a facility like OGS.
They are housed in archive-safe boxes.
These are collections waiting to be sorted through and placed in the archive room.

I tried real hard to rotate this, but it kept converting back.
It's just one snippet of one of the many German newspapers that are housed in the archive room.
There aren't many around that can read the old German, so they aren't looked at very often.

These are just a few of the treasures from OGS.  I will include a few more photos later.

Hope you enjoy!

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Ohio Lineage Societies Made Simple

Perhaps some of you remember a Facebook post from a couple of weeks ago.  I attended a "lock in" at the headquarters of The Ohio Genealogical Society.

Margaret and I spent quite a bit of time together talking about lineage applications for OGS, and the simple template that she uses for her own personal submission.  Being the example that a president of an organization should be, she was working on yet another one for a family line.

A class was recently held for those who judge applications in various capacities on either a state or local society level.  She then mentioned that another class would be held to teach people how to submit a lineage application as part of their ongoing summer education series.  I told her I would be there.

So, on this very, very hot summer afternoon, I sat in a cool, comfortable classroom expanding my learning.  Margaret did an excellent job speaking to a near-capacity crowd the process of determining and submitting an application.  She mentioned what was allowed to be used, and what was not.

I could tell by the questions that there were many whose wheels were turning as they were thinking about joining one of the societies.

Let me tell you about some of them:  (

  •  This would include the descendants of an ancestor who was in Ohio prior to 1820.
  • This would include descendants of an ancestor from 1861 to 100 years back from the current year.  Example:  100 years ago is 1916.  So, it would include ancestors 1861-1916.
  • This would include descendants of an ancestor who lived in the Ohio from 1 Jan 1821 - 31 Dec 1860.
  • Open to direct descendants or collateral relatives of those who served in the Civil War.
And, a brand new one!

  • Direct descendats of anyone who lived in the Old Northwest Territory prior to 3 Mar 1803.
  • This is the date Ohio achieved statehood.
  • The ancestor could have lived in any part of the Old Northwest Territory:
    • Ohio
    • Indiana
    • Illinois
    • Michigan
    • Wisconsin
    • Minnesota (that little part east of the Mississippi)
Any of the information to join the lineage societies may be found here.

For those who are local, there are excellent submission booklets available (except for the brand new one).  If you visit the OGS library, you may want to pick one up just to see the amount of work you will be expected to submit.

They may also be downloaded at that same link.

The same information is found at the above link, but if you will wait a couple of weeks or so, all five lineage societies will be available using a PDF file on the website.  

Does it get any better than that???!!!

Margaret also mentioned a site that has an excellent pedigree chart that can be downloaded as a PDF.  I had Surface Pro with me, so I went right to the site, downloaded it, and filled it out as she spoke.  (I can sit there an fill out a complete pedigree chart with names and dates, but can't tell you what I had for breakfast.  I know...)

It is a nice chart.  Download it here.

Do yourself a favor and look over the applications, and consider being one of the dozens who are presented with certificates and pins at the annual Ohio Genealogical Society Conference.  

It's a wonderful way to polish and hone your skills, and to honor your ancestor.
A replica of the pin I have for Asbury MOORE
My Civil War ancestor from Ohio

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

My Takeaway on Day #1 - Kentucky Trip with Sisters

(Reprint from Facebook Post)

My takeaway from day #1 - Kentucky trip with two of my sisters.
We all know it's important to glean what information we can from the older generation. In my case, my sisters are the older generation. They were 16, 19, and 21 when I was born, so each of them could have been my mother. But, they weren't.
I have listened to stories from their childhood all the way down Route 23 to Kentucky. Remember, their childhood memories are not going to be the same as mine. They were well acquainted with my parents' grandparents, many of whom were born in the mid-1800's.
This evening, I was howling while I was driving. Betty told me of Ambrose Clemens, my father's grandfather who was known as a truly mean man. They went to visit him when he was living with his daughter as a 90-year old man.
He slept on a little cot in the kitchen.
Betty, being ten years old, didn't want to just sit and talk with him, so she went outside. A goat proceeded to eat her dress right off of her, leaving her with just a little slip to wear for the remainder of the visit, and the return trip to West Virginia. She had no other dress.
Fern and Betty both laughed about sister Jean Roth, who took one of her biscuits out to the pond that was covered in algae. She thought it looked good, and proceeded to smear that algae all over her biscuit and ate it.
Sister Fern, who has never done much wrong, sneaked out with a friend behind a barn and smoked cigarette butts, and both of them got sick and turned green.
Oh, this trip is already good. All of us can lose something we had in our hand a minute ago, but can remember things from 70+ years ago.
Well, 70+ years for them. I'm not quite there yet.

My Takeaway on Day #2 - Kentucky Trip With Sisters

(Reprint from Facebook Post)

My takeaway on day #2 - Kentucky trip with sisters.
Oh, you all would just love traveling with us!
We slept in this morning, because we are old. Well, older. After breakfast, we piled into the car to head to my aunt's when sister Betty noticed the engine light was on.
Think about this. We are driving a Cadillac SUV in Ford/Chevy country. Last time we had a Toyota. Try getting THAT fixed. I quickly pulled out my smartphone and located a dealership not far away. I drove right to it, they took it in, and in a couple of hours we were set to go.
Before we arrived, I made a phone call to make sure they would be able to take us.
Betty: Can you tell me if I have the right address?
Them: Yes, ma'am. It's close to donal.
Betty: Close to what?
Them: Donal, ma'am.
Betty: Donal?
Then: Yes ma'am. If you've gone past donal, you've gone too far.
Betty: How will I know what a donal is?
Them: Ma'am, it's donal. There are several buildings with his name on it.
Betty: (thinking the twang...donal...donal...donal...)
Betty: Is that one or two words.
Them: Ma'am, it's two words. Donal.
Me: (driving through town, I see Don Hall)
Betty: Is it Don Hall?
Them: That's what I said, Ma'am. Donal.
It doesn't end there. Walking into the waiting room.
Man: (looking at Fern) I know you.
Fern: I don't think you do.
Man: I know I do.
Fern: I know you don't.
Man: Don't you live in Greenup?
Fern: No, I've never lived in Greenup.
Man: Then you must have a twin.
Fern: I guess I must.
Man: I guess since we're not related, then I could marry you.
Me: Fern, get over here now!
Another man: I'll never see you all again.
Betty: You got that right.
A shuttle took us to the mall while we waited, and soon we were on the way to our aunt's house...giggling like teenagers.
Something to do while waiting on the car - shopping at Belks!

It was SO good to see her! She has aged considerably since my uncle died last August. Granddaughter Erika lives directly behind her and takes excellent care of her, in addition to her own family. Her young life has not been an easy one, but she has stepped up to the plate and is doing such a fine job. How I love her and her young children.
Betty Stevens teaching granddaughter Skylan some of the old gospel songs.

Erika Stevens, Skylan, and Xavier

We stopped at more cemeteries, both on the way there and back. Sister Betty and I recalled when both of us almost got in trouble.
Me: (while waiting for the cemetery caretaker to look through the index cards) We appreciate you doing this for us.
Him: It's no trouble 'tall, Ma'am.
Me: We have fun lookin' up our kinfolk.
Him: I've always heard that was a good thing to do.
Me: (still waiting) Now, are you a sexton?
Him: No ma'am...I'm a Miller.
Me: What?
Him: I'm a Miller.
Me: No, no...I mean are you a sexton at this cemetery?
Him: No ma'am. I'm Mr. Miller at this cemetery.
We have now rolled back into our hotel room, where I called Kerry to bring some normalcy back into my life. He laughed, and recalled similar times with me.
It's all good.

My takeaway on day #3 - Kentucky trip with sisters

(This is a reprint from Facebook posts)

It just doesn't end!

Fern and Betty and I slept in again, having stayed at our favorite hotel in Ashland. We are not usually messy, but this time it looked like a college dorm room. And, we didn't care!

We settled our bill, corrected some errors on it, and headed into town. I had recently found where one set of my grandparents had actually been buried in Ashland, the same town we had been staying in for years. I was determined to find them.

After breakfast, we were chatting with some of the locals. A nice gentleman joined us, and we were asking where a certain location was.

Me: Is it far from here?
Man: No, ma'am. Just get up there on the superslab.
Me: The what???!!!
Man: The superslab. It'll go from a four-lane down to a two-lane when y'all get to the red light.
Me: What if the light isn't red?
Man: Wait till it turns red. Then you'll be at the red light.
Me: Which way do we go after that?
Man: Turn left, Ma'am. If you head straight on, you'll run into a cow.

Fern and Betty are trying to hold their faces together while I'm talking to the man. I was about ready to beat them.

Another man: Now, y'all be careful not to get too close to Shucky Bean Holler.
Me: Is it dangerous?
Man: Not unless y'all are lookin' for some 'shine (moonshine).

We got on out of there, and head toward Ashland. Sure enough, the GPS took me straight to the cemetery where these grandparents were supposed to be located. 

It was in the middle of town!

The cemetery was not overgrown, but it was not cared for very well. I got into the back to get my snake stick, and my sisters - the big babies - stayed in the car and hollered at me, telling me to be careful. Really.

I went all over that cemetery, nearly giving up as I saw weathered and toppled stones. I decided to try one more place in the nearly 100 degree heat. There, under a small grove of trees, where snakes would love to be stretched out cooling, I found the tombstone with both of their names on it!!!

I hooped and hollered, scaring Fern and Betty into thinking I had wrapped my feet around a nest of snakes. I told them I was fine, and to stop hollering.

This was on a side street that we have driven past hundreds of times. Right there in plain site!

Benjamin and Matilda Rice
Pollard Cemetery, Ashland, Boyd, Kentucky
Betty, Fern, and Peggy
Ashland, Boyd, KY Public Library

We went on to the Boyd Co., KY Library -- one of our favorites. It did not disappoint us at all. We made several worthy finds.

My sisters think I'm so smart. Gone are the days when we are standing and making copies. Between my Flip-pal and my cell phone, our research time was quality.

We had one more place to stop, and nearly didn't do it. We enjoy the Greenup Co., KY Library, too. But, we thought we might be running short on time. But, something told me to go on into the small town.

We were driving down the main street, and I couldn't seem to find it. It had been a former funeral home, so you wouldn't think it would be that difficult to spot.

We just kept on driving, and nearly drove off the road. There was a brand new library!!!! It was built in 2013, and we were tearing at each other to get out of the car and up the ramp. My gosh, it was beautiful!

Betty, Fern, and Peggy
Greeenup Co., KY Public Library

We made great finds in there. Miss Vicki Evans, the genealogist, was as helpful as anyone could ever ask for. She made copies for me of an excellent template that they use for Family Group Records. She even emailed it to me so it can be filled out on my computer. 

We had our greatest success there. If you recall an earlier post, Ambrose Clemens stayed with daughter Etta B. and slept on a cot. A goat ate Betty's dress.

His death certificate states he was buried in Mt. Ebo Cemetery. I've never been able to find it, nor any listing for him on FindAGrave. 

In their cemetery book, they showed before/after photos of the cleanup of this cemetery. In one of them, I remarked to Betty that it looked like a convict was working in there.

Betty: I don't think it's a convict. Look at what they're wearing. Fern has a skirt just like that.
Me: Betty, no one cleans a cemetery in a skirt.
Betty: I'm telling you, Fern has a skirt like that, and I love it.

Later, Miss Vicki told us how a team of convicts was used to clean up the cemetery.


Mt. Ebo Cemetery Convict Cleanup

I copied the page that shows him buried there. Not all stones are legible, but his and his family's were legible. I felt like I hit the jackpot!

Ambrose Clemens, Arthur, Etta B., and Daisy Fitzpatrick
Burial list at Mt. Ebo Cemetery, Greenup Co., KY

There were many more finds. These are certainly our highlights.

Our extremely successful trip is over. We are all back home now, and are planning our next trip.

I smiled as I listened to Fern and Betty reminisce about how they tried to bury a cat three times. Betty gave it a holy-roller funeral, but the cat kept crawling out.

I wonder what else can happen...