©2009-2016 Becky Higgins

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Advent Calendar - Christmas and Deceased Relatives

I'm so thankful for the really long run we had without losing any of our close family. However, since 1994 our number has declined. First, it was my Dad, Earl Robert Stewart, who died in September of 1994. We only had a few months to adjust before our Christmas Eve party. Dad's job was always to read the Christmas story from the gospel of Luke while everyone sat quietly - a rather difficult task for the little ones who awaited their presents. Even though his job was taken over by my son-in-law, I still miss Dad's beautiful voice on that special evening. He is remembered on Christmas Eve with his famous baked beans.

Then, just before Christmas (Dec. 20) of 2001, we unexpectedly lost my brother-in-law, Warren Parrent. Warren was always so much fun, especially when our girls were small. Warren seemed to have as much fun playing with their new toys as the girls did. He would be on the floor investigating the workings and "helping" the girls figure everything out. He was a great guy and we miss him. He is remembered each Christmas Eve with a bowl full of cashews - one of his favorites.

In September 2002, my mother, Gladys Miller Stewart, died. She had literally "made" our Christmases for so many years, the thought of celebrating without her was devastating to me. I learned everything I know about hostessing a party from my mother. She had a wonderful way of making everyone feel warm and welcome. There really isn't any part of our party that doesn't remind me of her. Our special reminder of Mom, though, is fudge.

Finally, this will be our third Christmas without my mother-in-law, Alice Davey Higgins. Oh, how she loved it when the family got together. For several years before her death, she was unable to get out to our party; so we would bring an abbreviated party to her and my father-in-law. A couple of hours before the party at our house, everyone gathered at the retirement home for a pre-party - complete with food and gifts, song and jokes. Alice seemed to really appreciate the effort and we got to have double the fun! She didn't have a favorite party food, but we remember her just the same.

We miss them all but, as we celebrate, the memory of their lives are special gifts to us.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Advent Calendar - Christmas Music

I'm one of those people who love Christmas music and I always have. I can't wait until Thanksgiving when our local radio station 93.9 changes their venue to all Christmas music all the time!

When I was younger, I loved to sing it. I was in the choir at school and church and was a soloist. The church music was so majestic it would simply take my breath away. It was as wonderful to prepare for the the concerts as it was to perform them.

In later years, my personal music stayed mostly within the family. On Christmas Eve, it was my job to sing my very favorite Christmas song of all: Sweet Little Jesus Boy by Robert MacGimsey. I can't hear it even today without tearing up. Here's a picture of me on Christmas Eve 1983 (that was one of my thin years:) 

Several bouts of bronchitis have made me a listener, not a singer, but I continue to adore this season's music.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Advent Calendar - Christmas Shopping

I remember it as if it were yesterday! That was the year I did all the Christmas shopping in one day and the year I truly stumped my present peepers.

I was working at our local bank at the time and my boss and I decided to spend an evening at Woodfield Mall to try to make a dent in our shopping lists. I must have had a good idea as to what I wanted to buy because by the end of the evening I was loaded down with packages and my credit card was almost too hot to hold. In fact, it had been used so often that night that at one store they had the clerk hand me the phone to verify it was really me making all those purchases!

How on earth was I to go home with all those gifts and still keep them a surprise from my preteen daughters; especially Sam who made it an annual challenge to seek out the presents before Christmas? There was no way I could walk into the house with them and keeping them in the truck would only stall the issue. My boss came to the rescue, as she was often wont to do. She offered to keep all of it at her house as long as I needed. Hah! Sam couldn't find them there and she didn't.

The gifts remained out of the house until Christmas Eve and I was able to sneak them in without being seen. That was probably the only year the girls never had a clue what they were getting until Christmas Day. I really enjoyed that year, too.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Advent Calendar - Christmas Stockings

From the first year we held the Christmas Eve celebration at our house until the present, my husband and I filled stockings for each of our grandchildren. The stockings were hung along the staircase leading to our living room. The children's stockings hung along side mine and my husband's ("Mom" and "Dad") and, for the past two years, our dog, Bessie's.

As the children grew older, we began wrestling with the dilemma of when one stopped the tradition. We finally decided that when a grandchild reached - or would reach prior to the next Christmas - the age of 21, they would be deemed an adult and no longer receive a stocking. Last year, our oldest grandson, Stewart got his last filled stocking and was given the stocking that had been used since his infancy.

This year would be Derek's turn, except this year the party moves to another house. Oh my!! Now what to do. I guess all good things must eventually come to an end so this will be the last year for this. Santa will drop three stockings at our house which we will deliver to the new location. Derek, Kristin, and Randi will get to keep their stockings and Kristin and Randi will find a little something extra inside just to make up for the few years they'll be missing.

Even as they got older, the grandkids still seemed to enjoy looking for the treasures in those stockings.

Randi, Kristin, Kim (Derek's girlfried; he had to work), and Stewart Dec 2009 

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Advent Calendar - Day 16

I know today is suppose to be about what went on at school during the Christmas season but I don't have many school memories. Oh, there was the annual choir concert in which I participated but other than that - nothing.

However, my life (as a child and teenager) centered around our church and my friends there. Our BYF (Baptist Youth Fellowship) always worked very hard on presenting the best Christmas pageant we possibly could. For a few years our group was very sparse on female members so I usually got the part of Mary. One particular year when I was about twelve, I recall, I was Mary and my future husband, about 14, was Joseph. At the time, I really didn't want much to do with him but now it is a sweet recollection.

Somewhere, in my mother's papers there is a picture of that pageant, but right now I don't have time to go digging:(

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Advent Calendar - Other Traditions

The more I think about it the more I realize that our family's concentration during the holidays has been Christmas Eve. Even my memories of Indiana center on the party at Grandma's house; I barely recall Christmas Day at all.

One of the traditions my Grandma started was giving out chocolate-covered cherries. She gave the candy to all the men only. Over the years that really began to aggravate my mother. Once we moved to Chicago and Mom made her own party -  which in later years included our spouses, my husband's parents, and his sister and husband -  the candy was giving to all the adults, male or female! Later, it was my turn to hold the gathering and I kept the tradition going.

The tradition I started - though it lasted only a few years - was for Christmas Day. The girls and I were usually on our own that day because my husband had to work. (He always made sure he had Christmas Eve off.) So we girls often went to my mother's house to hang out and eat leftovers. I started bringing a birthday cake and we would sing Happy Birthday to Jesus. It was a fun way to remember the reason we had the holiday.

Then, we would get bored and either went bowling or to a movie.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Advent Calendar Day 9 - Santa Revisited

I know we already had the Santa prompt this year but I simply must post this wonderful picture. To me it looks like it comes right out of It's A Wonderful Life. This is of my husband and his sister sitting with Santa. It was taken in about 1947. Sorry I haven't cleaned it up at all so it still has the crease marks from being folded and Santa has a smudge on his nose.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Advent Calendar - Christmas Cookies

I love cookies no matter what time of year but there is something special about homemade cookies at Christmas time. What could be better than that warmth and aroma wafting from the oven while my two wonderful daughters and I decorated sugar cookies. I think it was Dad who liked eating those the most, while we girls could barely wait for the chocolate chips cookies to cool!

That was years ago, but usually about this time, my husband says, "Are you going to make cookies this year?" I'm thinking I may go the store bought route. Maybe if I sneak them in the house and light a vanilla candle he won't know the difference:)

Monday, December 6, 2010

Advent Calendar - Santa Claus

‘Twas the night before Christmas 1999
And this may not rhyme
But the family was gathered
For a jolly good time.
They had food to eat, carols to sing
And exchanging of presents
Before the children rushed home
To await Santa’s entrance.
Kristin, Stewart, Derek

Now, Stewart, age ten
And Derek, age nine
Shared knowing looks
with each other this time.

They thought them too old
For belief in sweet Santa
But they kept quiet that night
Because they’d been told.

You see, Kristin, age 8
Clung to the thought
That Santa rode in his sleigh
Each December 24th.

And Randi, age 6
Simply knew in her heart
That Santa would come
With toys to impart.

So Grandpa took charge
As a stand-in for Claus
On his knees with the children
He checked on the gifts, large & small.

But, wait, there’s a sound at the door.
Who could it be? The family’s all here!
Everyone’s gaze went to the stairs
Everyone’s jaw fell straight to the floor.

It was Santa in person, the real one for sure!
He paused for a moment to see who was there
He talked to each child while checking his list
He knew they were there; they were secure.

He stayed but a moment; No time for long banter
He must begin his long flight around the world
But for that one evening and those few hours
Each family member believed in dear Santa.

(Just a warning note to little ones all:
If you stop believing; Santa stops coming.)

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Advent Calendar - Outdoor Lights

I was just about to skip posting for this prompt - just because I couldn't think of any outstanding outdoor light story. However, I do have an anecdote to share.

About sixteen years ago, the company I worked for was moving its accounting/marketing departments from Schaumburg, Illinois to its headquarters in Los Angeles, California. At the time I was the supervisor of one of the Units being moved. Most of my Unit, including me, opted to remain in Illinois; however, we still had the obligation to train those who would be taking our places.

So, just before Christmas, five of us traveled to LA. We had a significant drive from our hotel to the headquarters. One afternoon, on the way back to the hotel, we were admiring some of the outdoor decorations when Renee popped out with, "Why do they have all these decorations?" After which we had to explain that even though it is always warm in LA, Christmas still comes there and people celebrate just like we did. I really think she was truly shocked!!

But, in her defense, the whole thing felt a bit surreal to me too.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Advent Calendar - Christmas Cards

I really don't remember my mother sending out lots of Christmas cards. I'm sure she sent to the relatives back home in Indiana once we moved to Chicago but I don't think she sent to friends far and wide. However, my husband's mother had a huge Christmas card list and faithfully sent to, I'm thinking, almost everyone she knew. Preparing the cards and getting them in the mail was an annual process that took many hours to complete. For her it was a labor of love and a way to stay in touch.

Looking back, I guess I fall somewhere between my Mom and his Mom. I had a fairly large list of friends and family who heard from us each year through the Christmas mail. However, unlike my mother-in-law, I wasn't sending to old friends from grammar school or even high school. Perhaps I should have; at least, I might know where they are today if I had.

Now, I lean on email, Twitter, and Facebook to send most of my holiday greetings. My physical card list has dwindled to a very manageable number which is both efficient and economical.

I must admit, though, I do love receiving the greetings I find in my mailbox - both online and off.;)

Merry Christmas Everyone!!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Advent Calendar - Christmas Tree Ornaments

Our tree holds many special ornaments for me. They're not expensive like hand-blown glass but were created by or for our two girls. One year when they were small we sat in our kitchen and made ornaments using clothes pins. The girls made a great little fireman for their volunteer fireman Dad; that one is highly treasured.

There are the little felt candy cane with the name "Samantha" barely fitting which Sam brought home from Sunday School and Tammy's owl (she loved owls) that has perched on our Christmas tree each year.

I think my favorite ornament memory, though, is a tradition my husband started after the birth of our first grandchild. Each year he buys (a labor of love done with no little agony) each child an ornament just from him. He isn't a man who displays affection easily or casually but this annual gesture is one way he shows how very much he loves his grandchildren. The ornaments, but not the love, stop at age 21 - one down and three to go.:)

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Advent Calendar - Christmas Food

Ah, the taste and aroma of Christmas treats in the making!!

Our Christmas holiday foods haven’t been the huge feasts of ham, sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, and such for a long time. Those foods have been reserved for Thanksgiving. No, we revel in the appetizer and dessert categories.

When I was a small child in Indiana, we had lots of relatives in the area and Christmas Eve was spent at Grandma’s house with the Uncles, Aunts, and cousins. My two brothers and I were piled in the car with our parents and whatever Mom was bringing, probably pie or cake. I don’t really remember what ended up on Grandma’s table; I guess I was too busy playing with my cousins.

However, when I was 10, we moved to Chicago and our family became very small - just the five of us. Rather than a big meal, Mom treated us to hamburgers and banana splits. That’s how the appetizers and desserts tradition began.

There must be some sort of sandwich, though, because the one item truly required is Dad’s baked beans. Well, really they are Dad’s Mom’s baked beans but she passed them down to him, who passed them on to Mom, who passed them on to my sister and me, who passed them on to my daughters. There is no true recipe, just a list of ingredients and instructions on how to tell the proportions are correct. Those instructions must be given in-person a number of times because it takes the eyes, nose, and taste to get it right!

Another must is Hersey’s fudge. The directions are on the cocoa can and it’s easy to make except often it takes several tries to get the perfect batch – not that the imperfect batches go to waste.

Those are the musts; the rest is up to each cook. Our table is always filled to the brim with tasty treats and munchies!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Advent Calendar - The Christmas Tree

I've seen many versions of the Christmas tree during my lifetime. Although the ones in my house have remained very traditional, there were a few years during the '70s when my mother followed the fads of the flocked and/or silver metal trees. Happily, she quickly returned to the beautifully decorated green tree I remembered from my childhood.

Speaking of childhood, it's my grandchildren who have made my best memories of our Christmas trees. When they were young they would come - all four - to help decorate our tree and spend the night. The tree got decorated, some cookies were baked, and in the morning we went out for pancakes and eggs. I watched them grow up in front of our tree.

This is what our tree looked like for many years with the help of our grandchildren.

Here the children are sitting in front of the tree before the presents have been distributed in 1994.

Left to right: Randi, Kristin, Stewart, Derek

Here they are just seven years later in 2001. They are singing a carol because they always had to "perform" before they gifts were opened. They grow up too fast!

Left to Right: Derek, Stewart, Kristin
Front: Randi

We're looking forward to a new tradition starting this year. Our Christmas Eve gathering will move to one of our daughter's home. New tree, new memories!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Gearing Up For Christmas

It's hard to believe I haven't posted since November 19 but facts don't lie! We have been busy around here though and as everyone knows sometimes life gets in the way.

Since I last posted, we have a new roof, new siding, and new gutters on our 39 year old house. We'll have to wait for spring to paint the trim but things are already looking better!

My Christmas cards are in the mail - those I still send. My father-in-law's list is ready and the cards have been purchased so that feels nearly complete.

I got an early Christmas present a few days ago. My granddaughter bought a new 4G I-phone which meant her 3G was handed down to me. I'm so excited I can finally carry my genealogy database with me all the time once again!! My old PDA went belly-up well over a year ago which left me with only my laptop. Needless to say, I've been working on getting apps for my new phone:)

I'm sure the Advent Calendar of Christmas prompts will help get and keep me in the mood for the holiday! For now, I'm off to work on those cards.

Friday, November 19, 2010

ISGS Springfield2

I had to hurry off from my previous post because I was going to be late for dinner. A number of the ISGS board members met at Cheddars and we had a great meal and lots of good conversation.

Jack, Donna Pond, Janice Fritsch, Jane Haldeman, Cheri Hunter
Kristy Gravlin, and Michele Claypool
Later, most of us continued socializing at the Comfort Suites. Now it's time to get some rest and prepare for the meeting tomorrow. I'm so pleased to be associated with such a dedicated and talented group of people.

ISGS Springfield

This morning around 9:00, Larry Pepper, the new 1st vice president of the Illinois State Genealogical Society picked me up to come to Springfield for my first ISGS board meeting tomorrow. Our trip was uneventful but full of lots of great conversation. Good company does help travel time fly by.

After a nice lunch at the Garden of Eatin', we went to the Illinois Archives to the ISGS office to see if we could be of any help. Hopefully, we did more helping than hindering.

The ISGS designated office at the Illinois Archives
That's it for now

Sunday, November 14, 2010

A Century of Progress and One Girl

Alice Davey lived in Chicago most of her life. The Chicago World's Fair was a big event not to be missed. While there, she picked up a souvenir provided by the Chicago & North Western Railway - a small note pad which she used as a diary/calendar beginning in January of 1934.

This little pad also had pictures of some of the buildings and special locations of  A Century of Progress. Some of these still grace Chicago and some are long gone.

Alice and her boyfriend, "Happy", and her family, plus visiting relatives went to the Fair many times. She always recorded the event, even if it was succinctly.

July 4, 1934
Happy & I went to the Fair. Happy took home two Coca Cola glasses.

October 30, 1934
Hap and I want to the Fair. Got home around 1:30.
October 31, 1934
The last day of the Fair. My Mother and Dad went and Cliff and Catherine. I went to school.

My guess is she had more fun going to the fair on Tuesday with Hap than she would have had with her Mother, Dad, and Cliff and Catherine (brother and sister-in-law). Just sayin' :)

Saturday, November 13, 2010

SNGF - Fun With Photos

Our fun for this Saturday from Randy Seaver:
1)  Go to the AnyMaking website (http://anymaking.com  - it's FREE to use) and ...
2)  Doctor some of your priceless photographs using one or more of their photo effects to turn your photo into a cartoon, into a puzzle, into a wanted poster, etc.  Try it, it's fun.  You can spend hours doing this.  Think about Christmas presents for your family or friends... [Note that if you want decent size photos - or real puzzles, portraits, etc., you'll need to subscribe to their Premium service.]
3)  Show off your creations on your own blog, or on Facebook, or some other online photo location. 

I only did one Wanted Poster but it's a real one. I'm actually still looking for Charles Brown who was apparently "kicked out" by Julia Ruch Brown for being a "womanizer." Where did he go and did she divorce him?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Wednesday Child: Mildred Mary Higgins

This beautiful little girl died just before her 5th birthday of complications from the Measles.
Mildred Mary Higgins  1908-1912

Monday, November 8, 2010

A Month In the Life of Alice Davey - 1929

In honor of Amanuensis Monday, I'm sharing one month of entries from the calendar/diary of Alice Davey. At the time of the writing, Alice was 14 years old and in the 8th grade. She was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois.
She mentions her friends by first name only. Their full names (of those I know) are: Mary Osman; Irene Hall; Gertrude Gronvall of Ishpeming, Michigan; Tecklas & Lida Larson, aunts from Ishpeming, Michigan; Gena Bertolone.
I love how she usual mentions the theater and title when show goes to the movies.

January 1, 1929
Mary came over to my house and woke the New Year’s in.
January 2, 1929
Too cold to go out so stayed in the house with Mary and played games.
January 3, 1929
Went to the show with Mary and saw Varsity (at the Wilson)
January 4, 1929
Went to Irene’s house and stayed until Sunday.
January 5, 1929
Went to Bobbies house that is down stairs and played school.
January 6, 1929
Irene came to my house and we went to Mary’s house and to the show.

January 7, 1929
Started school again.
January 8, 1929
Grandma House [Hossman?]came over to our house. I went to the show and saw Clara Bow in “Free to Love”.
January 9, 1929
Got a letter from Gertrude. I wrote to my aunt Teckla & Lida.
January 10, 1929
Went to church with Mary.
January 11, 1929
Stayed at home and did homework.
January 12, 1929
Went to Saturday club.
January 13, 1929
Went to Sunday School. Went to the Paradise with Gena and saw “Dream of Love”
January 14, 1929
Stayed home and studied English.
January 15, 1929
Stayed home.
January 16, 1929
Stayed home.
January 17, 1929
Went to church with Mary.
January 18, 1929
Stayed home.
January 19, 1929
Went to the American with my mother and saw “The Laughing Man.”
January 20, 1929
Went to Sunday School. Went to the Bishop with Gena and saw “Com. Marriage”. We went to the American too and saw “Silks and Saddles.”
January 21, 1929
Stayed home.
January 22, 1929
Stayed home.
February 23, 1929
Went to library. At night read “The Arabian Nights.”
January 24, 1929
Went to church with Mary.

January 25, 1929
Stayed home and fixed hearts for our church Valentine Party We had a party at school for the 8A’s.
January 26, 1929
Went to Saturday Club. Went to Wilson with Gena and saw “The Home Towners.”
January 27, 1929
Went to Sunday School Went to the American with Gena and Mary and saw “Annaoplis”. We went to the Ashland too and saw “Fazil.”
January 28, 1929
Stayed home and worked on English Book.
January 29, 1929
Stayed home.
January 30, 1929
Stayed home.
January 31, 1929
Went to church with Mary.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Transcribing Diaries

Back a few years ago, before my mother-in-law, Alice, passed away, I began transcribing diaries she had placed in my possession. I managed to complete from January 1, 1932 through February 25, 1934 before turning to other projects.

In 1932, Alice was eighteen years old. She wasn't the type of girl who poured out her soul on paper each evening. Her writings are more a calendar of her life and she kept such calendars throughout her life. Each day was given some comment. Sometimes it's a mere, "Stayed home", other times she gives mention to people in her life and special events. Alice and her friends loved going to the movies and she often mentions the title and names the theater they attended. These short writings even provide a peek into her early relationship with my father-in-law.

Recently, I found the 1929 book- oops - which I've begun to transcribe and then I plan to start where I left off in 1934 which will take me into 1935. I'll need to do a little hunting around after that because I have a gap until 1939. I'm sure the missing books are somewhere - probably in the cedar chest which is bulging at the seams!

Anyway, I plan to work on this little task, off and on, while I'm taking my short break between major projects until the first of next year. For now, it's back to 1929.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

SNGF - Halloween Personality

Saturday Night Fun from Randy Seaver:
Your mission, should you decide to accept it, is to:
1)  Go take the Hallowe'en Personality quiz at http://www.blogthings.com/whatsyourhalloweenpersonalityquiz/ 
2)  Post it on your own blog, as a comment on this blog, or on your Facebook page.
3)  Tell us if this is "right on" or note.  Have fun with it! 

Here's my result:

You're a friendly person, but not the life of the party. You like making someone else's day - and you'll dress up if you think of a really fun costume.

You definitely think of yourself as someone who has a dark side. And part of having that dark side means not showing it.

Your inner child is open minded, playful, and adventurous.

You truly fear the dark side of humanity. You are a true misanthrope.

You're prone to be quite emotional and over dramatic. Deep down, you enjoy being scared out of your mind... even if you don't admit it.

You are a traditionalist with most aspects of your life. You like your Halloween costume to be basic, well made, and conventional enough to wear another year. 

I'd say this is pretty accurate. Most of it is right on, except I openly admit I "enjoy being scared out of my mind." Also, I really do like people for the most part...sometimes...at arm's length...in the sunlight...

Friday, October 29, 2010

52 Weeks Challenge Week 44 - Giving Back

Wow, it is hard to believe we're already in week 44 of the year 2010!!

Our challenge from Amy Coffin for this week:
Week 44: Research ways to give back to the genealogy community. A great deal of genealogy information on line was put there by volunteers. This week, your challenge is to examine some different ways genealogists can donate their time and effort in kind... 

There are some wonderful places on-line where we genealogists can give back to our time. Many of them were mentioned in the original challenge; like "Find-a-Grave (http://www.findagrave.com/), Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness (http://www.raogk.org/), FamilySearch Indexing (http://www.familysearch.or
g/eng/indexing/frameset_indexing.asp), the World Archives Project (http://landing.ancestry.com/wap/learnmore.aspx), Unclaimed Persons (http://www.unclaimedpersons.org/) and the USGenWeb project (http://www.usgenweb.org/)." 

As much as possible we should contribute to these wonderful causes; however, there are also many non-online opportunities as well. Our local genealogy societies are in dire need of volunteers. These organizations continue to give back to the community through educational programs, personal help for new researchers, and digitizing and indexing local records.

The prevalence of internet use for genealogy education and research has brought about a reduction in attendance at meetings. Apparently, many researchers new to genealogy are of the impression that "everything is on the Web." What a shame!

Take, as example, my local genealogy society - The Elgin (IL) Genealogy Society (EGS). I joined in 1995 but  EGS had already been in existence for 23 years. By the time I came along they were already providing two meetings a month - one morning and one evening. In 1991, they published Kane County Illinois Early Families 1833-1835. An on-going project is the indexing of vital records from the Elgin newspapers. (In conjunction with the Gail Borden Public Library, the index is on-line through the library catalogue.) Many local records have been indexed and/or digitized and are available on the EGS website for free to Elgin area researchers. And, of course, we currently have an EGS blog:)

Now, for my point. None of the above items could have taken place without volunteers. The organization itself could not function without officers, committee chairs, committee members, project leaders and workers. Our local societies are still extremely important to the genealogy community and, I hope, we continue to support them by volunteering our time, effort, and expertise.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

It Is Finished!

At last but ahead of schedule, my project on the Ruch family is finished!

I just completed the digital presentation and, except for actually burning the CDs, the project is done!!

This is the menu page for the presentation - prepared with Passage Express software:

Now, I'm going to take a bit of a break - not from genealogy or blogging - from anything with a deadline:) I'll be able to go the the Illinois State Genealogical Society Conference this weekend without feeling any guilt. Yay!!

I already have my next project in mine but I'll wait to share that news. If I tell you know, I'll probably start on it and then when would my break start?

Saturday, October 16, 2010

SNGF - Who or What Do I Blame?

Responding to Randy Seaver's Saturday Night Fun Challenge which is:

Your mission, should you decide to accept it (and we need more of you to do this, otherwise it may end...), is to:
1)  Read Brenda Joyce Jerome's post Who or What Do You Blame? on the Western Kentucky Genealogy blog.  She asks these questions:
*  Can you identify person or event that started you on this search for family information? 
*  Did you pick up researching where a relative had left off? 
*  Did your interest stem from your child's school project on genealogy? 
*  If you have been researching many years, it may be hard to pinpoint one reason for this journey.

Well, this one is easy for me even though I've been researching our family's (mine & my husband's) for about fifteen years. I had just recently "retired"  - the company I worked for moved to California but I chose to stay in Illinois. One day my husband and I were visiting with his parents and the conversation went something like this:

Father-in-law (FIL):  "A long time ago someone told me that Higgins Road was named after my grandfather." (My FIL's name is Francis Higgins and Higgins Road is a main artery in the city of Chicago.)

Me (in ignorance):  "That should be easy to find out. I'll go to the library this week."

And I did go to the library that next week and I did find that Higgins Road is named for a man named - would you believe - Francis Higgins who had owned a farm in the Chicago area. Alas, I also learn that the two men are not related in any way.

Feeling somewhat deflated by this news, I decided I should see what I could learn about my FIL's real grandfather. It took some digging and certainly more than a week but I found the family. I was able to tell my FIL about relatives he barely, if at all, knew; even reuniting with a cousin whom he had not seen for seventy years. I was also able to tell time that Higgins Road in Hampshire, Illinois (just outside Chicago) got its name because it ran alongside his grandfather's dairy farm.

Of course, I couldn't stop there. I knew each family line had its own story and so the search goes on. At least it keeps me out of trouble, most of the time!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

It's Not Fancy But It's Done!

For Almost Wordless Wednesday: The RUCH book is in print!!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Could I Be Happier?

Okay, could I be happier than I am right now. Only if I had my Ruch digital presentation completed and on the CDs! Why? Because the book is being printed and bound as I write this!!

I decided since I am only printing a few paper copies I'd go for a hardbound cover. The proof looks great and I can't wait to see the final piece.

Thought I'd share with my blogging friends. Now, I have to get back to work on the digital version!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Almost There. Seven Smart Stories to Go!

I’m nearly finished with content for the digital edition of “The Life and Times of Charles and Salomé (Siegler) Ruch.” I’ve decided to create short, individual narratives for each of the children. Some I know more about than others but such is life. To do this, I’m using (a sneaky way to learn a new feature) Family Tree Maker 2011’s* new Smart Story feature.
There are a few things I don’t like about Smart Story but am not sure yet if it is the programming or just my inexperience and/or lack of knowledge about how to make some things happen. For example, when trying to put media into the “story”, I can’t figure out how to size it, align it or have text wrap around it.
Because I want to include footnotes – which thankfully I can do – I have to be very careful about how I pull “facts” into the writing. As you can see on the image below, (the birth fact is currently chosen) the bottom third of the right side provides options which can be dragged and dropped into the story. How I’m planning to use the fact will determine which I choose. Using the Insert button at the top right, you can choose to include footnotes or leave them off.

All in all, I think I like the Smart Story feature. One thing I like about it is that I don’t have to think about the wording for a fact until I use it in a narrative. Smart Story gives various options from a full sentence to various key words when using the “facts” option. It also has a “biography” option which basically pulls in all the facts, notes and such and creates a “story” for you. Personally, I don’t like that option but others might.
Now back to work, I have several Smart Stories to go, after which I’ll create the Menu for the CD and then I’ll be finished. Well, except I still need to print the hardcopy version and burn the CDs.

* I’m not associated with Family Tree Maker in any way other than a user. I’ve never received a free copy for review or been compensated in any way.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Marie Perttula

I'm still looking at some old photos of mostly people unrelated to our family but who were most likely friends & acquaintances. Here is a picture of Marie Perttula in her early teens (?). According to the 1930 census, she was born about 1909 in Michigan. In 1930 she was living in Ishpeming, MI with her parents: Nels, a butcher age 59, and Lizzie, age 56, who were both born in Finland. Also in the household were her siblings: John, age 30; Eino, age 26; William, age 24 and Edna, age 18. Marie is listed as age 21, a saleslady at a retail dry goods store.

If anyone is looking for Marie, here's a beautiful shot of her. I love the Little Orphan Annie hairdo!!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Surname Saturday: EVEN Lost Relation

I've been rummaging through some old pictures, most of which are unidentified. The image below is a of a darling looking little girl unrelated to my family but I'm sure she belongs to someone else. Written on the back of the photo: Dorothy Even, 2 years old, 1929.
With that information, I found her in the 1930 census living at the same address as my mother-in-law's family. Dorothy was listed with her parents: Matthew & Alma and her two siblings: Elizabeth, age 13 and George, age 7. Her father age 45 had been born in France; mother age 30 had been born in New York. He father's occupation is "cutlery helper" in a cutlery factory.
Hopefully, this post will help her find her find her way back to family.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Project Update September 24, 2010

Wow, it seems forever since I've created a post but it's really only been a couple of weeks. My husband and I were on a cruise and during that time I went totally low-tech - no computer, no cell phone (on-board), no genealogy, no nothing. Once back on land, there was a long, long two-day drive during which time I caught a nasty cold. At last, I'm starting to feel better and think I'll be back to normal soon.

I did do some work on my project yesterday. I now have all the pictures and documents I plan to include in my digital version of "The Life and Times of Charles & Salome (Siegler) Ruch". Since I still have some time before I have to finalize, I'm planning on preparing a few more reports on the children and their families for this version as well.

Except for a final proofreading, my hard-copy version is ready to print. Since I'm only planning on a few copies, I think I'll just take it to Kinkos and get the best binding they have to offer.

That's it for now. I have to get back to work.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Surname Saturday: Ruch, Fell (Fehl), Colum

This is a bit of a repeat but I've been trying to find Maggie (Ruch) Fell's death/obituary for some time with no luck. Maybe a long lost relative will see this and point me in the right direction:)

Margaret RUCH was born on 24 Mar 1882 in Chicago, Cook, Illinois.  She married Oscar FELL on 05 Mar 1902 in Chicago, Cook, Illinois.  She lived in Chicago, Cook, Illinois in 1920 (2836 Kedzie Ave., Ward 27).  She lived in Chicago, Cook, Illinois on 05 Apr 1930 (3036 N. Kedzie Ave.).  She died after 1966.  She was also known as Maggie.  She was also known as Blanche M. RUCH.

Margaret & Oscar had one child:
Elva FELL was born about 1904 in Illinois.  She lived in Chicago, Cook, Illinois in 1920 (Ward 27).  She married William K COLUM before 1925 in Chicago, Cook, Illinois (probably).  She lived in Chicago, Cook, Illinois in 1930.  She died on Jan 1961 in Chicago, Cook, Illinois, USA.  She was buried on 04 Jan 1961 in Chicago, Cook, Illinois (St. Adalbert's).

William & Elva had one child:
Laverne COLUM was born 06 Apr 1925 in Chicago, Cook, Illinois

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Project Update Aug. 31, 2010

Once again my silence has been golden; for me, at least.

I've been diligently working on editing the reports for my publication and still have "the story" out to my proofreader. The full hard-copy document is about 180 pages at this time and I'm not planning on making it much longer. The printed edition will have fewer pictures than the digital one for financial reasons.

With the printed edition well underway, I'm planning to change my focus to the CD/DVD version. I'll be using Passage Express ( I have no connection with this company except as a user of the product) which will make organizing the contents and creating a "front page" easy for me to do. With all the reports, charts and "the story" already prepared, most of my work is done. I'll just need to pick out more pictures and documents and organize them into folders to be brought into the software.

Right now I'm feeling good about getting the project finished on time. Hopefully, the end product will be worth the effort!