Friday, September 30, 2011

A Very Special Gum Wrapper

Cousin Steve sent photos of the gum wrapper mentioned earlier here (see post Seriously G2). I wrote: Received an email this morning from Cousin Steve who just got some more memorabilia from his brother. (His Mom and my Mom were sisters.) In the holdings was a Wriggley's gum wrapper and on the back was a note from his Mom written on the first date she had with what turned out to be her husband and my cousin's father! How magical is that?

Asked Steve to email me the scan of the gum wrapper whenever he got around to scanning. I expected to wait a long while because, well, the man has a life;) But yesterday there it was! So take a look... how wonderful is this?!

Wonder what she meant by "real" date?

The Happy Couple, May 9, 1943

Here's what Cousin Steve wrote about his Mom and Dad and their courtship for the Summer 2011 edition of our family newsletter:
My mom, Dorothy Frances Williams graduated from Frostburg State and was teaching in the Baltimore area when she “laid down the law” and said they were going to get married or else. She had had enough of this long distance romance. So on Friday the 13th in November, 1942, Dorothy and Harold were married. Even the minister questioned whether they really wanted to get married on Friday the 13th!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Good Gestalt and Another Drinking Man Story

Joel Weintraub said something that this newbie thought very interesting at a lecture he gave covering the 1940 census release next year. Well he said a lot of interesting and important stuff... thanks, Joel! But one thing sticks with me: genealogy is geography, or words to that effect. Sorry if I've misquoted Joel:) Nevertheless, I got the point that you need to spend time going beyond names, dates, and places in order to understand more about the ancestors.

One of the things that's also sticking out as I scan the horizon of the ancestors is the need for me to understand the era, get a gestalt for it, a feeling for the whole of it. Here's an example: somehow I had this erroneous concept that no one was in the Western Maryland area in the early and mid 1700s. Bad gestalt! It was populated with frontier farms and a couple of taverns. Taverns were popular... wonder why;)

This becomes an issue for me when I think I have one family group and it turns out to be another. I see a family with kids with names that are close but don't exactly match. Then in a little while I see a mirror family with almost identical names, a few variations, located "over the hill." Grrrr.

Now for the drinking man story. There were men who partook of the drink in my family and some stories to go with them. Mom said to me yesterday, so your Dad's uncle drowned in a rain barrel. What?!! Yeah, seems he got drunk and passed out, face down, in a rain barrel. Tragic... but why am I laughing??

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Seriously G2

I'm infatuated with this idea of how we second generation genealogy people are so different than our first generation relations. I think we need a support group. Or maybe there is one and this newbie just doesn't know it... and if so please let me know:)

Received an email this morning from Cousin Steve who just got some more memorabilia from his brother. (His Mom and my Mom were sisters.) In the holdings was a Wriggley's gum wrapper and on the back was a note from his Mom written on the first date she had with what turned out to be her husband and my cousin's father! How magical is that? He also discovered her prom picture. He's warming up the scanner as I write this. (His summer fun is golf and his winter fun is genealogy.) Can't wait to hear what else he finds!

He and I are both second generation genealogy fans. Actually there are degrees to this G2 stuff, I'm finding. My Mom is seriously into genealogy but his wasn't so he's got all the work to do on his Dad's side. He's starting from scratch with the usual early brick walls to overcome. We both benefit from the extensive work that Mom and Aunt Betty have done on the Williams side. Our work will be to figure out what the next step might be into the future. We already know where the hardest brick walls are because Mom and Aunt Betty pointed them out to us right away! And those walls look gigantic, at least to us now. I need a support group!

Mom, her Mom, Aunt Dottie (her sis) and
Uncle Camey (her brother). Abt. 1930.

Monday, September 26, 2011

I'm G2 and Loving It!

So this is what this newbie is: second generation genealogy! G2! Being second generation, I've taken up the mantel of this genealogy stuff and some days it's too much fun and other days it's kinda heavy.

In the beginning when I'd talk to Mom (who let me remind you, is 93 and been doing genealogy since the 1970s) she'd tempt me with all manner of fun facts. She knows her kids and she knew exactly where my hot buttons were. She started with the stories... and had me at, "Did I ever tell you about our ancestors the counterfeiting twins?"

Then one thing lead to another and before I knew what hit me I was ordering up my copy of Family Tree Maker and downloading a GEDCOM, when just short weeks before I didn't know what a GEDCOM was! Next I signed on and was introduced to those shaking leaves. UH OH!  You know what I mean;)

It wasn't long before I discovered the responsibility of it all too. Data checking. Care of the archives. Putting information out to the relatives such that more of the cousins and their offspring get interested too. Looking down the long road to see that what has been compiled is not lost.

But there's fun as well. Hearing the stories is great and I wouldn't have missed it for the world... thanks, Mom! And discovers our scamps and scoundrels is always entertaining. But right at the moment on my learning curve the thing that keeps me going and putting one research foot in front of the other is that I do love wondering about my ancestors and what their lives and times were like. Whenever I'm in a slump I dig into the past of one of my ancestral lines. Just this week was wondering about Delilah Porter and who her father really was and if it was the famed Revolutionary War soldier, Moses Porter. I think I have a good clue too that it's Moses' son. But I'll let Mom be the judge;)

Friday, September 23, 2011

"Officially Irish"... I love it!

Was checking out the genealogy blogs that I follow this morning and found a post to "Help: The Faerie Folk Hid My Ancestors" that mentions an official Irish Heritage Certificate to be issued starting later this month to those who can prove Irish ancestry... and that otta be, what, about 9 out of 10 people on planet Earth?! I immediately thought, oh so cool. I want one!

It seems to be a flat out money making scheme - at 40 Euros a pop, just think of the profit - but it's all good fun too because you don't really get anything but a piece of paper to trot out on Saint Patrick's Day and spill some green beer on. But hey, sign me up: I'm Irish!

Here's the link to Deborah Large Fox's blog and links to the official stuff.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Thank Goodness for Small Genealogy Groups!

At Mom's urging, I joined the Genealogical Society of Allegheny County Maryland and now - for my $12 a year membership - receive their newsletter, by snail mail mind you, The Old Pike Post. It's a labor of love, you can tell right away, and I'm so glad to have it. The Post usually starts off with a longish story from a member about their search for ancestors. Even though mine haven't been included just yet, it's a fascinating read! How the mystery of tangled family names gets solved in each issue is a whirlwind story:)

Mom received her issue before I did and commented that the listing at the back of the latest issue included a couple looking for a group of my ancestors: Eckhart, Gormer, Kelly, and Natolly. I grabbed up my issue and the highlighter, noting their email address. Mom tried it and it bounced. DRAT! So she's off to mail them a note. She's good at stuff like that from back in the days when everything was done by snail mail. When she mentioned sending them a note I was, like, du'h....

So me, being an internet-based person you might say, got on the web browser trying to find the afore mentioned couple. No luck on that with google searches but then got the idea to try family trees on Ancestry. No luck with that ... ah, truth be told, didn't even get very far. And here's where FOCUS comes into play... I drifted off chasing Moses Porter instead. How did that happen??!! No focus.

But never mind and look at that... I lost focus just then writing this post. Started off saying thank goodness for small, labor-of-love, genealogy groups. And bringing it back that's where I'll leave it:)

Thursday, September 8, 2011

First Time Jitters

I went to the Family History Center in Mission Valley, San Diego, a couple of weeks ago and their resident British expert showed me how to browse and order microfilms online such that the films would then be delivered to the Center and ready for viewing. Good stuff for this newbie to know:)

Am looking for proof that my ancestor Nehemiah Newans actually was in the British army in 1754/55. After narrowing down the offerings (which I was shocked to see are VAST) came to a group of about six, and finally decided to order two.

Have received email updates twice: for the order and later that they were shipped as of August 26th. At the moment I'm waiting patiently for them to arrive. But I have the jitters. Did I do it correctly? Are they really ordered and in transit? How long should I wait before panicking? Someone told me that the Center only keeps them for 7 days so you have to run down there and get a look right away. OK, now I'm about ready to panic for real! That's a lot of pressure!

So I called the Center and just asked. They are very patient there... don't you just love patient people? She told me that yes, an email goes out when the films arrive so not to worry that I won't know when they arrive. And that it could take a couple of three or so weeks to get there and to call in a week or so if I don't hear from them and they'll be glad to check the status. That an email goes out from the Center telling me that the films are there waiting for me. Finally she said that I'd have 7 weeks (not days) to look at them. WHEW! Jitters gone.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Church Document Translation Come Home to Roost!

Remember those Congregational Church documents a while back and how the kind Maureen of Wales translated the pages? No... OK, so here it is from the top.

Aunt Betty was given the originals of the founding documents for the Frostburg, Maryland, Welsh Congregational Church, drafted 1873. Mom is on a Wales mailing list and put out a call to anyone willing to translate. Maureen replied and said that she was working on a project about Welsh founding church documents anyway, so to the good all around!

Meanwhile, I was visiting Mom and she was having fits trying to get the copies of the documents to Maureen and thinking about snail mail. I said, oh no, I'd just take a picture with my cell phone and send it to her (Mom's) email inbox and she could forward it to Maureen. Done deal!

Maureen did the translation but noted that page 4 was missing. I thought I'd messed it up and went on a wild goose chase tracking it down only to be told later by Aunt Betty that page 4 was in English and didn't need translation and that's why it wasn't included. About to drive me nuts!!

Just today I received an email from a woman in London saying that she'd read my post and thinks that her ancestor, Rev. Isaac Thomas, was the first pastor of that church! Oh yes he was! I checked the files on my computer and attached them to the reply to her... of course I couldn't wait to forward all to Mom and Aunt Betty!! Hey, maybe she's related because we have Thomas people on our own tree...? Mom? Aunt Betty? Is she kin?

Anyway, it caused me to notice that this blog doesn't have my email address because the woman in London had to Google and email me through my artist's web site. So there ya' go. I put it up on the right hand side there as I should have done from the start. It never once occurred to me that I might write something that someone would want to contact me about... such a newbie! Ha!

GG Grandmother Dianna Thomas Price, abt. 1832 - 1871

Friday, September 2, 2011

Those Who Labored

It's the start of Labor Day Weekend and I'm remembering all of my ancestors and what they labored at. I'm also thinking of those of our countrymen out of jobs today who want to labor but can not and I'm especially thankful for every blessing I have. (Wait, I'm getting ahead of the holidays... that goes with Thanksgiving!)

Amongst the ancestors there's a long list of farmers in the late 1700s and throughout the 1800s. In the 1700s we also have a tax collector (for the British Crown before the revolution in which he was a captain but turned to farming after) and a stone mason. Stone masonry was big back then. Have an another ancestor who was a stone mason and laid stone on the National Pike in Maryland and then traveled the area plying his craft and writing letters home to his beloved wife. (Note to self: must get digital copies of those precious letters from Mom and transcribe. Am so glad Mom's a bit of a pack rat!!)

As the 18th century moved along, there were plenty of coal miners. And rail road men too. The two occupations sort of go together in Western Maryland in the late 1800s. Those who could got work on the rail road. Those who couldn't went to work in the coal mines. Hard work all around.

Then there was my great grandfather Gustav Zeller. He was a barber and I've told a tale of two about his drinking fun here on the blog. He was quite the promoter and built his business up to a couple of shops throughout the county. Put a big fish tank in the window with exotic goldfish swimming around. His son took over from him when Gus Sr. retired. Gus Jr. also ran a floating card game in the basement with lots of drinking amongst the leaders of the community... but that's a story for another time!

In the 20th century many were teachers: seems to be the family business of the mid-century moment. Recently there's a turn to the law and the digital age. We keep up with the times!

Barber, entrepreneur.

Tobacco distributor, entrepreneur.

Pro baseball player.

Rail road and coal miners.

Computer wizard.


And not to say that the women of the family didn't work at home! See post below about Grandma... now that was WORK!