Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Wondering About Tombstone Styles

As a newcomer to this genealogy thing I wonder about a lot of things. It's a long list and I won't bore you with all of it:)

One of the things I wondered about after my recent visit home to see Mom - and way too short at just two days - is grave marker styles. They vary tremendously and seem to me to be a product of era, assets of the family and perhaps local influences.

Here's a look at my GGGF John Kelly's (1829 - 1891) marker. He was born in Shanonbridge, Ireland in the parish of Clonmacnois. He died in Eckhart, Maryland and is buried in St. Michael's Cemetery. As you see, it's the traditional Irish Cross. It's of modest size and I think, appropriate for the times and places of his life.

Took this picture to show the location in relationship to the
big tree and flagpole in the middle of the cemetery.
We always have trouble finding his marker!

By contrast are the newer markers for my aunts and uncles, and my Dad. You can just see the progression of styles!

The Williams Family, sort of Mid-Century and
typical of all the Williams burials in the last half of the last century.

My Dad, F. P. Kelly

May they all rest in peace knowing that they are missed.

Just Googled tombstone styles and came up with this:

Very interesting!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Graveyard Rabbit

Since I'm a newbie to genealogy I'm always running into a term that's new to me. Take graveyard rabbit. Now I've been to my fair share of cemeteries and there are a lot of bunnies around munching on grass. But this term "graveyard rabbit" seemed to refer to people!

Then I remembered how Mom likes to traipse through old cemeteries and look for the odd random tombstone on the hunt for an ancestor. She'd find them too. Up in Springs, Pennsylvania near Grantsville, Maryland one day, after a nice lunch, she dragged a friend through an old cemetery and found William House's tombstone. Mom was thrilled! Not so sure about the friend;)

On my visit back to see Mom recently she and I went AWOL on the family for an hour or so and headed to two remote old, but still in use, cemeteries. I finally "got" how wonderful they are. Even saw an authentic graveyard rabbit in its natural habitat;) The real kind!

Isn't he/she cute?

View from the Porter Cemetery

The Eckhart Cemetery

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Mending Broken Stuff

This genealogy newbie can already see the potential to mend through the work of finding and documenting ancestors. Contact with relatives has been re-opened or forged anew.

Take cousin JC for instance. Lost track of him, sort of, but now we email all the time. We've found similarities with our sugar issues, wacky sense of humor, and world view. I am so glad to have him in my life again!

Then there's Aunt Betty... see other posts about her here about her. I really value having her in my life now. And wish her good luck fixing her computer and who knows how long she'll suffer without an email connection. Ugh! We've all been through that!

Just wish I'd hear from cousin Kevin in the Maryland State Legislature, and cousins Mick and Tommy Lee (Thomas to the rest of the world) both retired. I don't take it personally. Kevin probably has an intern sorting his email;) And hopefully Mick and Thomas are busy having a happy retirement.

Here's another sort of mending: old photos. I love to take old battered photos, the older the better, and work on them in PhotoShop. While I was with Mom last weekend she dug out an old hand-tinted portrait photo of her father, Cambria Williams (1897 - 1960) taken when he was a young man.

It has once resided in a glass domed frame but upon removal from the framing many years ago it had torn. The backing paper contained much acid and had turned brittle and yellow. I taped the back very carefully with transparent tape in an effort to recreate the convex shape of the picture. Then armed with my trusty camera I took a photo of it using different light and camera settings.

Once home I loaded the best image in Photo Shop and started the repair. As you can see below the first job was to get that rip through his head fixed. Then the background could be easily mended.

I picked up an oval mat from Aaron Bros and there you go! Here are the progress photos and the finished product in oval mat.

Grandpop Williams was a "Looker", wasn't he?!

Grandpop as I remember him. I see that young man in this photo of him. Do you?

With fish! Oh, did he love fishing!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

A Box of Treasures!

Just now finished posting that one below when my husband walked in from the mail box with a package from my cousin, JC who lives in Upperco, Maryland. Opened it and ... drumroll please... in it are a boatload of old family photos! How precious are these?! There is even one of my Mom fishing in her swimsuit, JC's Dad in uniform during WWII and grandmom and grandpop Williams! Holy COW!!

I'm a newbie to this genealogy thing but already I've learned from Aunt Betty that good archiving is job one. If you can't find it once you've filed it then what good is it to you? I sure have my work cut out for me in doing justice to JC's photos on loan.

Better go warm up the scanner and get a big cup of coffee;)

Kelly's WHAT?

In the little town of Eckhart, Maryland sits a house on the side of one of the finger lanes off the main road. It's what I expect some would call an "old homeplace," a place where ancestors lived for a generation or two. The Kellys lived there: that would be my paternal great grand father, Francis Patrick Kelly (1854 - 1923) and my great grandmother, Christiana Eckhart Kelly (1861 - 1932). Here is a photo of that house taken last weekend, likely much changed from the original look. As you can see, the present residents are working on the house.

Back up the lane and across the street is a deep mountain spring called Kelly's Pump. When Mom and I drove up a guy was there filling his 5-gallon jugs with water right from the pump. Back in California you'd pay plenty for pure mountain spring water! Ha! And here there was spring water with my family name right on it -- for free! And if I had anything to say about it, which I sure as heck don't, good clean water would be free everywhere. Guess it runs in the family:)

Ya know, it's funny how you look at the same old place through different eyes when you're doing genealogy!

Kelly's Pump, still hard at work in Eckhart, Maryland!

East Coast: History You Can Wrap Your Arms Around

I grew up on the east coast of the USA but now live in southern California. We're missing a couple of things her. Snow is one of them but layers of history is another and I do miss it.

Here there is the ancient history of the native peoples and you see lovely signs of it in the most unsuspected places. An old dam, a grinding rock for grain preparation for example. And the museums of anthropology exhibit testimony to the ways in which native people made everyday objects beautiful. I love that.

But east coast history has layers and layers of people living on the land that you can feel if you are open and sit quietly in one place looking and observing the way the land is and what's upon it.

I'm sorry, So Cal. Your are smack-you-in-the-head beautiful with a climate hard to match. It's easy to live on your land. But when I really want to feel our nations long history give me the east coast any day. Everywhere back east has that "sense of place" I grew up on.

Eckhart Cemetery overlooking Eckhart and Eckhart Mines in Western Maryland.

Friday, May 27, 2011

The Welsh Congregational Church Founding Documents

Aunt Betty, mentioned below, received into her care the original founding documents of the little Welsh Congregational Church on Bowery Street in Frostburg, Maryland. It was written in the Welsh language of the late 1800s. See below.
Title page. Isn't that lovely to look at?

Now please understand that none of us speak Welsh anymore... time and distance having done their work. (However, now when I make copious spelling mistakes as I am likely to do, I will now say that I might be speaking Welsh. Who knows;)

Aunt Betty gave a copy to Mom. Mom has been to Wales and has daily email contact with a group of enthusiastic genealogists there. She put out a call to anyone willing to have a go at translating and Maureen responded!

Mom asked me to get an large envelope for her from the office so she could mail the copies to Maureen. In my gut a voice said, "no!" There has got to be a faster better way so that Mom can keep her copy.

So I whipped out my trusty cell phone (see post below about how my cell phone had just gone for a "swim") and took three pictures of the title page and first page. Then I emailed them to Mom's computer so she could forward them to Maureen.

And so that's what happened. By the time I got back to San Diego the next afternoon I found Maureen's translation from Welsh to English in my email box! Done!

Here's what Maureen wrote back:

"Hi Virginia,
Very good images. Yes I can translate, the writing is very easy to decipher. If you want to send more in this format that's fine.

The title page reads:
Independent Church,
Frostburg, Maryland,
Established in1873
Strange thing is that I have been translating the History of Independent Churches in Wales, county by county, for a volunteer project on Genuki. Could be of interest if we find where the church elders came from in Wales. I'll do the page you sent and mail it back.

What are the chances that Maureen is working on just such a project in Wales?! And of course between Mom and Aunt Betty the answers to the question, where did they come from, will be answered soon.

Church Picnic, 1935.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Shout Out to Aunt Betty!

So here it goes: Aunt Betty is my mother's father's brother's child. Got it? Therefore using the Steve Morse One-Step web site's relationship calculator - which is the only way this newbie can figure out complex relationships - Betty is my first cousin once removed and is a blood relative. Cool. But I asked and she said it was OK for me to call her Aunt because I am fresh out of actual aunts.

Check out the calculator at:

When I got to Mom's house last Saturday there was a packet of information from Aunt Betty waiting for me. WOW! She is a super organized researcher and I aspire to learn from her.

Here is a picture I took of two of her photo sheets organized by family grouping that were in Mom's files. And as you peruse it, ask yourself how easy it would be to import photos to your Family Tree Maker program if we all were as organized as Aunt Betty! Feast your eyes on this...


Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Mom - She's Amazing!


There's Mom hard at her work: genealogy. She's been at it for about 25 years. See that cabinet behind her desk, the brown wooden one? That's chock-a-block full of blue binders with surnames on each. Two full binders for the Williams clan.

There she is looking at her laptop. That's where her Family Tree Make program is always running at full speed. That big monitor behind that laptop is out surfing the internet doing her research. Nice big screen my brother got her, so it's easy to see.

On the left is her big-boy lazer printer also from brother. It's usually humming away.

Nice big comfy desk chair with plump pillows too. And that trash bag keeps it all neat and clean. But I'm not showing you the rest of the room! OK, Mom?

Now where are those two cats who walk on the keyboards at feeding time?

The One Thing I Didn't Want to Know

OK, so I'm pretty new to this genealogy thing and really enjoying the ride. Just got back from a visit back east to see Mom. Spent a lot of time copying some of her massive files too. She's been at this for about 25 years or so. The depth of her work is amazing!

Soon after I got the genealogy bug I asked Mom if any of our ancestors ever owned slaves. The question was prompted by an episode of Who Do You Think You Are? She said no, that she thought not. All of our ancestors fought for the Union. They were from Pennsylvania, Western Maryland, and West Virginia, which as we know split off from Virginia to side with the Union. Case closed. Clean conscious. No worries there that some ancestor participated in that blight on our nation's history.

Sitting on the airplane going to see Mom I had occasion to read up on the Eckharts starting with my 4th GGF George Adam Eckhart (1729 - 1806) and his son, my 3rd GGF John Eckhart (1768 - 1835). Well I just about jumpped out of my seat when I read that John's widow, Mary Ann wanted to free her slaves. How can that be?!! Oh yes, it was all true, to my deep horror.

Stuff like this makes you think and examine our life and times in contrast to the life and times of those who lives in the 18th and 19th centuries. Now I'm in no way making any excuses here: slavery is wrong anytime and anyplace. How do you justify that? You can't.

I read on and found that slaves where the most prized of all "possessions" and the values placed on these African-Americans was between $400 and $600, which in about 1800 was a small fortune.

I'm still shocked and trying to figure out how to deal with it. Do I need to feel guilty?

Location of the Eckhart Mansion now long gone, in Eckhart, Maryland.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Trip to See Mom... It's HUGH, I Tell You!

Just this afternoon got back from a wild and wonderful trip back east to Western Maryland to see my Mom and visit with the clan. Brother and his lovely and warm wife were there of course.

Visited with Aunt Betty, who is not my real aunt but I've run out of those so Betty has stepped in to be aunt to us all. Whatta a gal! You should see how organized she is. Her photo sheets are amazing.

Even ran into charming and beautiful cousin Cynthia and her husband at Lowe's garden center too! It's a small world there abouts and you're likely to run into some relative or other any time you go out.

There is so much family news on the genealogy front that a good half-dozen posts are in order here. Plus the sheer numbers of old photos that are now new to my collection... Wow! My computer will be smoking for days due to the load I'm about to heap on it.

Plus, I took along one of those super small external drives and backed up both of Mom's computers so that I'd have everything! Cool, huh?

Travel today is difficult at best but it is so worth it if you're going to go see family:)

Jimmy Whetstone in his WWII uniform.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Fishing for Troutman on Footnote

There's an ancestor on our tree named Peter Troutman. I have some info from mom but you can never have too many facts, especially about an ancestor who was reportedly in the American Revolution.

I love hunting down tidbits on Revolutionary ancestors because it's a fabulous time in history - holy cow, can you even imagine what that was like - and there are super war records... if you're lucky. Well I got lucky. Curious to me, I didn't find him by searching on his name. I browsed, and who doesn't like a good browse now and again? Records stated that he was in the Pennsylvania Militia, so I checked out the Pennsylvania Archive. Maybe you'd approach it differently, but remember I'm kinda a newbie. I got nuthin'. Seriously, nada.

Then I searched his name in all Pennsylvania war records of soldiers. Zip. Zero returns. Bummer.

So thinking that as usual I probably am clueless about the working method a pro would use I hit the browse button. Drilled down and up popped an alphabetical column (nice!) and I knew - duh - to click on the "T". Troutman! Bingo! Four and a half hours later I had downloaded copies of his war record, pension request, widow's request, and various sundry other documents. Found out he was married two years after his first wife passed. Did not know that. Browsing is way cool!!

It's days like this that keep me coming back. Now today I'm looking for George Adam Echart who also reportedly served in Pennsylvania in the Revolution. Not one hit. Some days you get the bear and some days the bear gets you.

Elsie Long. Isn't she so very cute?

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Mom Said: Don't Touch That Dear, it Might be Dirty

When we all were kids our parents probably said some version of, "Don't touch that because it might carry germs." And as we all know germs can make you go Kablooie!

The same is true of genealogy research. Mom told me that right at the get-go: if you're going to simply (and lazily) cut and paste some one else's data onto your tree your tree might go Kablooie later. And of course, as we do know, Mom was right about that and so very much else. Thanks Mom!

I like Ancestry.com a lot. Mom likes FamilySearch.org too. When we talk and both say, I'm going to go look that up, she uses FS and I use Ancestry. It just worked out that way.

Now if you use Ancestry or especially Family Tree Maker and see those little green leaves, it's very tempting to just click and merge any ol' piece of data into your tree. Hey, that sounds right, you'll say to yourself... and not double check sources.

We read about this issue all the time. And I've tested some researchers by double checking enough so that I come to trust them. Only then will I go ahead and merge what they have into my own tree.

"Test and then trust," Reagen said. Mom said it first;)

An old family photo.
Don't know who they are because no one took a moment
to write their names on the back. How sad is that?!
Think they might be from the Zeller line.

Monday, May 16, 2011

First Post

What I really don't need is another time sucker-upper! Yet I am compelled to start this family history blog thing. What's wrong with me? I guess it is true: nuts don't fall far from the tree:)

See that lovely creature below? That's my mom. She was hot back then and at 92 she's the hottest lady in town, but in a very dignified different way than back them. Warmth, love, and intelligence are the new hot.

Her passion is family history - for the last 25 or so years - and she's gotten some of us cousins interested. Nuts falling not too far from the tree, if you catch my drift! So here we'll try to keep on keepin' on with her and let whoever is interested know the latest scoop.

Here's Mom's web site: http://www.virginiawkelly.com/