Monday, November 27, 2017

Gratitude Day #27 - Books - 27 Nov 2017

Today I am grateful for books.
Growing up as an only child, books were my friends. Like my parents, I always had my nose in a book. On our weekend trips to Kentucky, I would be reading in the back seat with a flashlight.
On our cross-country trips, I was buried in my storybooks.
Heading up through Michigan and on around the shores of Lake Superior, I missed a great amount of scenery because I was caught up in finishing a book and moving on to the next one.
I married a man who is much like me. We counted up our bookcases in our house a couple of days ago, and they number 27. And, we actually need a couple of more.
Once, we invited some friends over for dinner. As they looked at the books in our dining room, the woman asked, "Have you actually read all of these?"
You bet we have. Some more than once.
We raised our children to immerse themselves in books, for they could take you back in time and fly you into the future. I enrolled them in every reading program I was aware of. And, some of our favorite memories are the rainy days when we would head off to the library. We would each nestle ourselves into a corner and read away.
Upon checkout, each of the kids were allowed to check out ten books. I had bags and a milk crate, for on the way to the van we were lugging over 40 new books.
When I have volunteered to take someone to a medical appointment, or help in some other way, they may be hesitant to make me wait.
Are you kidding me? I always have a book with me. As we waited for kids at piano lessons, swim meets, track practice, etc., we always had a book.
I still do. I have tablets which hold 400 books at this point. I am in a constant state of learning.
But, there is still something about the feel and smell of a book that I love. I can recall holding "The Black Stallion" by Walter Farley, and all of the books in that series in my hands wherever I went. "Christy", by Catherine Marshall became one of my all-time favorites. I still have my original copies of both of those books, which I secretly ordered from Doubleday Books behind my mom's back.
I'm grateful for the literacy I have to read and comprehend good writings. I'm grateful for the diversity of subjects that have expanded the capacity of my mind -- everything from religious books of scripture to tombstone epitaphs to migration trails to political genre.
My sponge-like mind is far from being filled.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

You Know You Want It! Another RootsTech Giveaway!!!

Thanksgiving is over, 
and we are heading into the Christmas season.

And, our minds are not exactly on February.

Well, they need to be!!!

As a RootsTech Ambassador,
I have the opportunity to offer a giveaway for a 


Yes, a 4- day pass to the 
largest genealogy conference in the world!

RootsTech begins on 
Wednesday, 28 Feb 2018
and ends on
Saturday, 3 Mar 2018

Now, how do I win a 4-day pass?

Please go to the RootsTech website:

and take a look around.

Then, post a message to me in the comments below,
and tell me three classes that you think
you would love to attend.

That's all it takes!  

I'll read through them, 
and then, I'll read them again.

And, I'll announce the winner on
1 December 2018!!!!!

Gratitude Day #26 - My Heritage - 26 Nov 2017

Today I am grateful for my heritage.

I am grateful for my Appalachian roots that take me to northeast Kentucky --> southeast Kentucky --> southwest Virginia --> tidewater Virginia -- the British Isles and Germany.

Some of that bypasses the tidewater regions, and comes down the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia --> the outskirts of Philadelphia --> the British Isles and Germany.

I have often remarked that some of my people are not real stellar. I have often wagged my head as I have discovered:
Slave owners (it took me awhile to find any)

There are many more examples I could give, but this gives you an idea.

The good thing is...many of these lead to good records.

But, I look beyond the statistical information you would put on a pedigree chart, and look at the stories. We don't always know the backstory in a person's life, but sometimes we can get an idea. The may be other factors going on in their lives and in the world that caused them to do what they did.

Or, maybe they're just rascals.

Let me give you a short example. I have a grandfather named John Goolman Davidson, who lived in southwest Virginia. He was a scout in the Revolutionary War.

A man by the name of Rice stole a hog from him, and in court was ordered to pay John a good sum of money, with the vow that this wouldn't be the end of things.

Awhile later, John and some others were on a scouting expedition. He thought he heard something, and took off on his own to see what it was.

First, they found his hat.
Next, they found his stirrup.
Then, they found him.

He had been killed and was laying at the base of a tree. Before he died, he had carved the word "Rice" into the tree.

I wanted to see the marker that was erected to him, but the only directions I had were written in 1933. I stopped at Wytheville College, and the director and I poured over maps where he thought it might be.

He finally said, "I think it you go up to this area, you'll find a general store. If there is a marker, they'll know where it is."

We found it, and I knew immediately I needed to leave Kerry and the kids in the van. I walked up, "twanged" a bit with them, and then finally asked about the marker. The owner told me, "Honey, my brother runs over it with his pickup truck every morning."

Good grief. First he gets murdered. Then, he gets run over by a truck every morning.

We found it. I took pictures. Then Kerry took the kids to the van and left me alone for a bit. The date on the marker said he was killed Mar. 8, 1793.

We were there on Mar. 8, 1993.

As I looked around, I don't believe I saw any tree that was 200 years old. But, the mountains would have been the same mountain that he saw when he died. The sky would have been the same. The concourse of the creek may have changed, but more than likely it was there, too.

I saw what he saw as he took his last breath.

None of my people are famous. They were generals in battle. They didn't arrive on the Mayflower. They won't be in any history books.

But, they're the bravest people I've ever run across. Every single one of my ancestors arrived during the mid-1700's, probably in one of the great migration waves of Germans and Scots-Irish that left their homelands for various reasons, hoping for a different life here in the colonies.

They blazed the trails that other people's ancestors would use for roads.

They fought in George Washington's army to help free this land for others to make their home.

They cleared the lands that were so thickly forested you couldn't reach out your arms without touching a tree.

They moved to the frontier, not knowing if they would ever see one of their parents or siblings again.

They gave birth to large families, seeing only part of their children live to adulthood.

They fought on both sides of the Civil War, with lines drawn within their own families.

They were given large land tracts for their service in the earlier wars, only to lose it because they couldn't pay the taxes.

They were real people who used to play as little children, who discovered the other sex, who fell in love and courted, who married and raised families, who experienced the hardships of life, and who became old and died.

I am grateful for them, and for the courage it took to even exist during times when there wasn't good medicines, antibiotics, good dental care, clean water, and food with certain standards of cleanliness.

But, they survived. And because of them, I am here to day.
Marker is in Bluefield, West Virginia

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Gratitude Day #25 - My Teachers - 25 Nov 2017

Today I am grateful for my teachers.

And, I have had SO many of them!!

I can still recall the feelings of a scared six-year old girl entering first grade. I hadn't gone to kindergarten, because they told my parents I didn't need to go. (Harumph!)

But, I sweet, large-bosomed woman with bat-wings for arms swept me into her arms, told me how happy she was to meet me, and my fears went away. She started my love of life-long learning that continues to this day.

Years later, after being wheeled to my semi-private room following surgery, I heard this sweet voice through the curtain saying, "Peggy? Little Peggy? Is that you?"

It was Mrs. Boone! My first-grade teacher and I were roommates!! After all of the thousands of students she had taught in the 24 years since I was in her classroom, she remembered ME!

My schoolteachers filled my sponge-like mind with things that I use even to this day. My piano teacher taught my fingers to fly! My church teachers helped to instill a love of God that filled my spiritual soul, and still do to this day.

And once, when I was in my early thirties, I wrote thank you notes to every, single one of my school teachers and my church teachers that had to put up with me in my youth. I let them know they had indeed made a difference in my life, and that I use the knowledge and techniques they filled my mind with.

Speakers at genealogy conferences and on webinars open up new avenues I would never have thought of. The ones I admired from afar for so many years are my colleagues today. I never, EVER expected that to happen.

I only took one college class in my life. When I worked at the University of Akron, I was permitted to take any classes I wanted for free. Not having a lot of confidence at the time, I took a class on how to play the harmonica from a man who used to play with Freddie and the Fendercats.

I wish I had taken more.

I place my parents at the top of the list, for they taught without teaching. All I had to do was look at their example, and recognize this was something I needed to know. Sometimes I used to get weary when my kids would say, "Well, never taught me that." Well, open your eyes and learn like the rest of us do.

Let me tell you about my uneducated mom.

Mom had a keen eye. She taught me how to shoot. She took me out behind the tobacco barn, set up several targets, and wouldn't turn me loose until I satisfied her. Later, while qualifying for my CCW, my instructor was astounded at how I could blow away the center of a target every single time. He asked me who in the world taught me how to shoot.

My Kentucky mama. Enough said.

But, let me tell you an even more important time when she taught me. Over the course of several years, she would take me through the woods, showing me different things I could survive on if I ever became lost. She also taught me things to stay away from.

And, she warned me that if I were ever walking along and suddenly the smell of a cucumber or a muskmelon seemed to be in the air...beware! Why? She told me it would be a copperhead masking its scent.

Yeah, right.

About 2-3 years after that, she once again had me up the holler behind her parents house. I guess I was trying to pay attention, but not close enough.

I seemed to notice a scent in the air that smelled unfamiliar, and turned around to say something to her. She fastened her eyes on me with the "look", and without saying a word, pointed her gaze to the ground.

It was a copperhead!!! And, it was coiled. I knew I was dead.

Now, let me point out that my mom would walk with a bonnet or sunhat on her head, a walking stick, and an apron. In the pocket of the apron, she carried a few rocks.

Seemingly without making a move, she reached down into the pocket of that apron, took a stone, flicked it, and totally decapitated that snake!

I was a blithering idiot. But, I never mocked her again. That woman knew her stuff!

Mom had a lot of wise words that I find myself saying today. She once told me:

"You will learn something from every person you run across.
You may learn a better way of doing things.
Or, you may learn a way to never do something.
Either way, you will learn."

Mother speaks.

So, for all of my teachers in my life, I thank you. You have enriched my life and made it fuller. I have learned things I didn't know that I didn't know.
Dad and Mom were master gardeners, whose flowers and vegetables would cause people to stop at the house just to look.

Mom usually wore a sunhat or a bonnet.

Mom's bonnet is on the right.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Gratitude Day #24 - Temples - 24 Nov 2017

Today I am grateful for the temple.

Most of you know that I am LDS. And a good many of you are familiar with the Salt Lake Temple, which is right across the street from the Family History Library.

A few more may know that there is perhaps a temple in your city, in your state, or in your country.

Actually, there are 158 operating temples across the world, with 12 more under construction and 12 more that have been announced.

At some point, there will be hundreds more of these temples across the world.

Kerry and I met in the Washington, DC temple over forty years ago. He had been working there a few years, and together we would work a few years more.

Once all of our children reached age 19, we began working at the temple here in Columbus. (The Church does not assign people to work in the temple while they still have family at home, which is first priority.)

We have been working in the Columbus Temple since 2002, and 2003 (for me). So, we started out our married lives in the temple, and will finish up our lives there, too.

Some temples are huge. Washington, DC., Los Angeles, and Salt Lake City are examples of the three largest. Our temple is much smaller. But, the important work that we do inside is exactly the same in every way as what is done in the larger temples.

There is no difference at all.

Kerry and I work each Friday. And, when I get in the car at the end of the day, the first picture below reflects what I see in my side mirror. I've been seeing it for fourteen years, and it still makes me stop and think each time it comes into view.

I've read my share of misconceptions about the temple through the years. I've read some very hurtful things as people mock what they think they know about it. During the presidential election when Mitt Romney was a candidate, I had to unfriend several FB friends because of irreverent comments about something I hold very sacred.

It hurt me.

In short, we believe families can be forever. This is where those beautiful ordinances are performed for both the living, and by proxy for the dead.

So, this is not a theology lesson. This is simply another statement of my gratitude for such lovely edifices as these temples. I can walk inside the doors, bring my burdens and my cares there, worship the Lord and listen for answers, and totally -- and I do mean totally -- remove myself from the outside world.

Besides my own home, there is no other place where I feel closer to God.

People sometimes ask me where I get my strength, my fortitude, my anchor, and my kindness from. I am giving you the answer.

Only church members in good standing are permitted to enter the temples. However, if you live in an area where an open house is being held prior to its dedication, or perhaps one is being closed for updating and refurbishing with an open house following, I urge you to attend. Drink in the beauty. Feel the peace. (PS -- Washington DC will be closing March 2018 for two years. There will be an open house after the renovation, it will be open to the public for a short time.)

To learn more about temples:

A list of temples is here (many have Visitors Centers):