©2009-2016 Becky Higgins

Thursday, December 29, 2011

My 2011 Goal Results & 2012 Goal

This year is nearly over and I know without a doubt I'll not be reaching my 2011 goal of writing and publishing my Leisure family. I did make some progress. I decided on a format and created an outline. The format which includes biographies for my direct line seems to have been my stumbling block.

As you may know, if you've followed my posts, writing my father and my grandmothers' bios took considerable time and no small amount of "pondering." I feel great accomplishment in saying their stories are finished (some editing still needed) but, since my Leisure line in America goes back to the 1700s, I have oh so far to go.

What I'll need to do in 2012 - because this goal will carry over - is be diligent in keeping to a writing schedule. No excuses this year! Of the 24 hours in each day, at the very least, one must be dedicated to completing this task. Let's say five of seven days anyway, with the exception of vacation days. See there I go again!

I know I'll be drawn to more research as I go along and, though I don't consider that wasting time, I'll need to balance it with "getting things down on paper" - so to speak. I must keep reminding myself the research will never be finished - there will always be something new popping up; but, maybe, some of that should be left to the genealogists who come after me. After all, I have lots of lines I need to cover before I'm through. If I don't provide what I know in a concise and easily accessed manner, very likely my work will end up in a recycle bin somewhere.

So, I welcome 2012 with new enthusiasm and commitment to publish my Leisure Line.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Doing The Happy Dance

Lucky for you, you can’t see my version of the happy dance.  Picture the combination of an Irish gig and the twist being performed by a senior (albeit not too senior) citizen with a stupid grin on her face. That’s it and that’s enough because I don’t want to gross you out!
Why all the frivolity, you ask? Did you find a missing ancestor? Did you break through a long standing brick wall? Have you found that missing cousin who has all the family photos and the family Bible?
No, I answer. None of those wonderful things occurred. But, I am a step closer to my 2011 goal of writing up my Leisure line. Now it doesn’t mean I’m even close to any publication which I had hoped would happen but I did finally finish my Grandmother’s bio.
I once heard a fellow genealogist say “Writing about our recent ancestors is easy because we know more about them.” Well, I’ve found just the opposite to be true. Yes, I did know both my father and his mother. Yes, I could relate from personal experience certain events. However, with both I had, let’s say, issues I needed to deal with in order to present them in as true a light as I could.
Writing Grandma’s story helped me pull back from my view and take a look at her life from, hopefully, her perspective. I came to understand why she reacted to events and circumstances in certain ways. I now see her in a different, more accepting light.
The happy dance is over. I’ll move on to my next ancestor in the line – Mary Frances “Fanny” Leisure. This one should be easier because I didn’t know her personally and I’m not starting with baggage that needs discarding. 

Friday, December 9, 2011

My Ponderer Is All Tied Up

Wow, it's been awhile since I've had a chance to post here and I will probably be remiss for a while longer. As silly as it sounds, it's all because of our dog, Bessie.
That's a picture of her before she injured her knee and before the surgery last Friday to correct it. Now the back leg you see is shaved and looks like a naked turkey leg.

She is four and a half years old and very energetic. In fact, it is her athleticism that got her in this fix in the first place. She had what in humans in called an ACL tear most often suffered by athletes who run fast and turn too quickly.

Her incision seems to be healing well and the swelling is finally gone, although she still isn't using the leg too much. From what I gather, it will be eight weeks before the leg will be healed and probably three months before she is back to normal.

Right now the trial is keeping her from licking the incision area and keeping her quiet and off her feet most of the time. Really it's not like dealing with a person; she doesn't seem to understand all this is for her own
good. She only knows she's starting to feel better and "why can't I get off the deck and chase those squirrels?"

Anyway, between my husband and I, we're on 24/7 watch the dog duty at least for another week when the wound should be healed. Maybe after that my pondering mind will get back to thinking about research, writing, and family history. For now, it's "No, Bessie, leave it alone!!"

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Thanksgiving Table

Tomorrow is the big turkey day and the family will be gathering at my daughter’s house for the feast. With few exceptions the Thanksgiving Day gathering has been an annual tradition. Though the location changed from time to time over the years, the tradition held together well.

 I don’t recall how we celebrated as I was growing up and living with my parents. Once we moved to Chicago, I’m sure we just had a quiet family dinner with the five of us – my parents, my two brothers, and me. Later, after my sister was born, my brothers and I were all married and living far from home.

However, by 1963, at least for a short time, we “kids” were all back home with our spouses and children. Once again Mom had a houseful to cook for at Thanksgiving. I guess that's when the tradition really began. Time went on and the two boys with their families moved away again but my husband, Jim, and I stayed on with our two girls. Thanksgiving became a holiday to bring all of our families together. My mother included Jim’s parents and sister in all the gatherings which meant we didn't have to divide our time between sides.

Jim and I and the girls moved from small apartment to small apartment for years – no room for hosting a Thanksgiving dinner. Finally, in 1971, after nearly ten years, we bought our home with room enough for all. Thanksgiving became my holiday! How I loved cooking, decorating the tables, and bringing everyone together!

But, of course, I wasn’t quite satisfied. My vision of Thanksgiving (Norman Rockwell style) included everyone sitting around one large table, – all the adults, at least - not split between numerous small tables and TV trays. Jim, as he so often does, came to the rescue. He built a table long enough for all the grown-ups and wide enough to handle the serving dishes, turkey platter, and place settings. The children still had to sit at a card table, but that still fit my vision.

I loved that table. It served us well for dinner after dinner and not just on Thanksgiving. It’s still around somewhere, I think. I’ve not used it in years and it’s been passed from daughter to daughter through the years. I won’t need it back but I still have the picture in my mind of our families giving thanks around it.

Wishing everyone a Happy Thanksgiving!! 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Wordless Wednesday - My Girls

Just a sample of the 500 plus photos scanned from the box under the bed!! Project complete!!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

A New Toy

I've been saving up for a long time to buy an IPad. The tablet size just seemed like it would be so much easier to read than my IPhone - which by the way I love. I guess that was really my problem; other than the size couldn't see any big advantage to the purchase. After all, I do more writing and taking notes than anything else and I really didn't think the IPad would be too advantageous with my needs.

Even so, I set out Wednesday thinking I'd come home with and IPad. I'd seen a really good price at our Sam's Club but decided to check my options at Best Buy first. While talking to the young man assisting me, I mentioned I do a lot of writing and he directed me to the Asus Tablet ( an Android system) which comes with Polaris - an app which reads and writes to MicroSoft products like Word, Excel, and Power Point; all products I use. In addition, I added the docking station which, when docked, turns the tablet into a net book with a full keyboard, USB slots, SD slot and additional battery power.

I'm giving it a try. I have 14 days to return it if I find I don't like it but, so far, I'm very happy with it. I've added a few apps and am writing this post with it using the keyboard. If I find something I really don't like, I'll let you know.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Never Stop Trying; Try Everything!

For years now, literally, I've been trying to find the death certificate for my husband's grandmother, Alice Augusta Christiansen Davey. She died 31 Dec 1948 in Chicago, Cook County, Illinois. It should have been easy. Her death notice was published in the Chicago Daily News and the Chicago Tribune (Don't be deceived by the Larsen surname - that's her step-father's name and she was never legally adopted), and my mother-in-law confirmed the date; as well as, the inscription on the tombstone in the Forest Home Cemetery in Forest Park, Illinois.

But, it wasn't easy. She wasn't listed under Davey or Davis or Davie or any of the spellings I could come up with. But today, because a link to the Cook County Death Index 1908-1988 on Ancestry was posted to the Illinois Genealogy Research Community on Skype by Robin of savingstories, I thought I'd try again.

This time I didn't put in a surname, just the death date; voila!, up came Alice Dayey. I don't think I would ever have tried that spelling but looking at it now it should have been one of my options:)

Now, the next time I'm in Springfield when the Illinois Archives is open, I'll be able to get a copy of the death certificate. Thanks, Robin, for giving me one more push. Never give up; never say can't!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Cook County Archives Comes Through

On September 28th I posted about ordering a divorce file for Julia Rush and Peter Jacobson and yesterday I received the packet in the mail. There are dates flying all over the place but it looks like the final judgment of divorce was 4 Sep 1897.

First of all, this is most definitely our Julia. The two witnesses in the case, other than Julia, were Saloma Siebel (her mother) and Jennie Siegler (her aunt-in-law).

I was hoping this record would finally resolve the issue of Julia's twins and it did and more. According to the testimony Julia and Peter had three children, not just the twins. The children had all died before 23 Dec 1894 when Peter deserted Julia. Since Julia and Peter were married 01 Mar 1892, it gives me a small window to look for the records.

I still don't know the names or sex of the children but maybe I'll be able to find some records. A cursory look at Jacobsen/Jacobson births and deaths for those years has not been fruitful yet. I'll keep on looking though:)

Chase E Stewart Coroner Report

I thought I'd blogged about ordering this film but I must have just tweeted about it. Anyway, I've been trying to find a record of a coroner's report regarding the death of my Dad's brother, Chase, for some time. When I was in Rushville, Indiana on research I'd inquired about such reports but no one at the courthouse seemed to know how I might find them. Huumph!

I knew for a previous research trip the LDS church had been filming Rush County records (just happened to be there when they were there) so I decided to try the LDS catalogue to see if anything new had appeared. Lo and behold, there was a film for Coroner's Inquests from 1893-1932. Perhaps it was new or perhaps I'd missed it before, I don't know. All I know is it's exactly what I was looking for; Chase died in 1918, smack dab in the middle of the records.

I hopped on the phone and called my local Family History Center to make sure they'd be open when I went to place the order. I was told that wouldn't be possible. "We've been told we can't take any more orders for films; beginning tomorrow you'll have to order them on-line at Family Search." She sounded a bit skeptical; I, on the other hand, was thrilled. Anything that saves me a trip to Schaumburg is a good thing!

I waited a day or two before I braved the new procedure but found the ordering quite simple. The biggest problem was finding the right page as it's not accessible from the home page: here's the address. You will need to choose the Family History Center you want the films sent to and, of course, the film numbers. They accept credit cards and paypal.

I placed my order on September 21, 2011. On October 8, I received an email from the Schaumburg Family History Center stating that my film was there. I had to wait until yesterday to go because of the Columbus Day holiday but, at last, I had the film in hand and in a few minutes I was doing the happy dance!!

Most of the information I already knew from the newspaper report and family stories but, as usual, there were a few new tidbits to add. Here's a transcription of the record:

Rush County, Indiana Coroner’s Inquests,  1893-1932
LDS film 1631808, Items 4-5
# 106
I, John M Lee M.D. Coroner of said County do hereby certify that on
the 20th day of November 1918, at Mays, Indiana
I held an inquest on the body of Chase E. Stewart the following being the
report in full of the proceedings of said inquest, except the testimony, which is, with a full and complete report of this inquest
On file in the office of County Clerk
                Said inquest was begun on the 20th day of November 1918 and concluded
On the 20th day of November 1918

Charles S. Stewart
George C. Wyatt Co
Lowell Mansfield

J. Levi Lord M.D.

Vernon Walke



I, John M. Lee Coroner of said County, having examined the body
 of Chase E. Stewart and heard the testimony of the witnesses, do hereby
find that the said deceased came to his death by accidental discharge of one barrel
of double barreled shot gun which he was carrying and occurred when he was in the
act of climbing through a gap in the fence of the S. H. Trabue farm near Mays, Ind.
The wound resulting was complete shattering of left side of face and skull death occurring instantly.
The said deceased being a male of the age of 15 yrs. 2 mos. 8 da.: 5 feet and 8
inches in height, light hair, blue eyes, fair complexion, approximate weight 116 lb., teeth good;
scars, if any None; nativity American and had on his person at the time of his death no valuables except
a watch which was given to his parents at their house.

There is one new name in the witness list: Vernon Walke. Lowell Mansfield (Chase's cousin) had gone hunting with Chase that day but what about Vernon? From the 1910 census, I learned that Vernon (who would have been a neighbor of sorts) would have been 12 years old at the time of the accident. How did it happen he was called as a witness? He must have either been hunting with the boys or come upon the accident quickly. He was never mentioned in the newspaper accounts.

Mostly, for me, this account helps account for some of my Grandmother's (Lizzie Stewart) demeanor. How does one even recover from seeing your son in that condition? I don't think she ever really did.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Documenting Our Immediate Family

Sometimes one just has to put some concentration and effort on the now or, at least, the recent past. For years, I've been researching, reviewing, digitizing, organizing the papers and events of the more distant past. Oh, you might consider my parents and my dear husband's parents to be "recent" but I'm talking about our lives and our children's lives.

Over the years, we've taking tons, and I mean tons, of photos. Some, for me, are rather irrelevant - no people - but even eliminating those, we still have tons. Most of those have been categorized by year and, at least, some in each year have been labeled with names. Some, but not all, of our home movies have been transferred to new media - that's really my husband's job and hopefully he'll get back to it this winter.

So what has me concerned? It's the BOX: the one under the bed, the one that has many of the earliest photos and documents related to our little family. It has been haunting me so I pulled it out yesterday and decided it was time - past time - to do something.

Here's the plan: I'm going to scan everything and categorized by child and/or family group, then, I'm going to give each child her own stuff. These girls are mothers of grown children of their own. It's past time for them to have their childhood memorabilia. The family group items I'll put with the later pics and docs.

So, I started yesterday. I got out my new Flip-Pal and scanned close to 200 photos and a few papers. It's just a start but it felt good to get that far.

Sunday, we'll be having lunch with one of the daughters and I'll be giving her all the report cards I've saved since junior kindergarten and the few papers I kept. There will be more but I'm not going to wait until I get it all. They can have it in bits and pieces as I go along.

I'll have to make time to finish this project while keeping up with my writing projects but I'll do the best I can.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Waiting for Julia

Back in February of 2011 I posted about ordering divorce records for Julia (Rush) and Peter Jacobsen from the Cook County, IL archives. Since I didn't want to make another trip to the Loop (that's downtown Chicago for those who may not know), I was told the archives would notify me of the charges and once I submitted a check they would send the copies.
So I waited and waited and waited. Finally in June I called to check the status. The woman (I should have asked her name, I know) told me the file was in the stack and I would be contacted when she got to it.
So I waited and waited and waited. Finally, last week I called again to check the status. I was told that I "had not replied to the bill that was sent" and the file had been returned. Ummm, I never got a bill but I wasn't about to argue. I just asked that it be reordered and that I be billed by email.
Yesterday, I received the email. Bless their hearts!! The cost might seem a bit pricey but is no more expensive than taking the train, spending the time at the archives, doing lunch and maybe some shopping (hey, I'd be downtown!), and taking the train back home. So, the check went in the mail today and, I think, my wait is almost over.
I'm hoping these papers will shed some light on the the mystery of "Jule's twins".

All I have is their picture and the family story that they died at about 9 months within days of each other - no names, no birthdates, no death dates. I'd been looking for Browns but maybe they were Jacobsen children.
I can only hope:-)

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Tomb Stone Tuesday - Charles & Lizzie Stewart

This the the tombstone for my Stewart grandparents. The "Stewart" is on the other side of this stone and around their stone are smaller ones of other family members. The location is the Center Church Cemetery in Center Township, Rush County, Indiana.
Tombstone for Charles S., 1870-1945, & Clara Elizabeth "Lizzie" (Emay) Stewart 1879-1956
My grandmother went by Lizzie throughout her life and, as you can see, to her final rest. It must have run in the family because her mother, Mary Frances (Leisure) Emay, was always known as "Fanny".

Friday, September 23, 2011

I-Phone Addition?

So there I was last night, minding my own business, watching TV with my Dear Husband, my I-Phone resting on the end table next to me. Suddenly, my phone lights up and I think Oh I must be getting text from one of the girls but, no, the message reads "No SIM card installed." What? No SIM card? Of course, there's a SIM card!
I proceeded to do all the things I could think of to correct the problem (TV and DH forgotten). I took the SIM card out and reseated it. No change. I shut the phone down and restarted it. No change. I called my daughter to see if she could think of anything else to try. No help.
Oh, no! It was too late to go to the store for help. I'd have to wait - hours!! - to get my connection back. Hours!! What if someone wanted to talk to me? What if an emergency occurred and no one could contact me (sure there is the land line but would anyone think to use it?) What if I wanted to check Twitter or Facebook or Google+ or my email? I'd have to boot up the computer and be tied to one location!! Oh no!!
Well, I made it through the night with only a little tossing and turning and fortunately no nightmares. This morning I went on the computer, got the phone number of the store, called from the land line for the hours. They didn't open until 10am so the dog would get her walk first. Not being able to check-in on Four Square when we got to the State Park was awful. I mean, if you can't check-in why go, right?
At last, we arrived at the store and within minutes, bless their hearts, a new SIM card replaced the defective one ("It happens sometimes", they said) and I was back in business.
While in those hours of limbo my DH said he felt a bit relieved to be out of contact for awhile. I, on the other hand, felt uninformed, out of touch, and just a little bit naked. Now I ask you, is this an addition or am I just totally adjusted to 21st century technology?

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Sunday Obituary - Lizzie Emay Stewart

I only have a photocopy of this obituary from the scrapbook of Eloise Davis (1st cousin once-removed). I can't believe I didn't look it up when I was in Rushville, Indiana last summer but I had so many look-up items I guess I didn't get around to it. I'm sure this or one very similar was published in the Rushville Republican but the photocopy isn't cited. I'll confirm that next time I'm in town.

Mays Resident Dies At Home
Mrs. Clara Elizabeth Stewart, 76, died at 9 o'clock Wednesday night at her home in Mays. She was born in Rush County on September 11, 1879, a daughter of William and Mary Frances Leisure Emay. Her husband, Charles S. Stewart, succumbed February 1945. 
A lifelong resident of Rush County, she was a member of the Center Christian Church and the Mays Study Club. 
Survivors include two daughters, Mrs. Ralph Beabout of Plymouth and Mrs. George Flanagan of Centerville; two sons, Earl Stewart of Chicago and Wayne Stewart of California; a sister, Mrs. Glen Ging of Greenfield; a brother, Joseph Emay of Knightstown, seven grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. 
The Rev. Myron Taylor will conduct funeral services at 2 p.m. Saturday at the Wyatt Moore Memorial with burial in Center Cemetery. Friends may call at the Memorial after noon Friday.

Clara Elizabeth "Lizzie" died 14 Mar 1956 and was buried 17 Mar 1956.(1) Since the article states "friends may call Friday..." the obituary was probably published Thursday 15 Mar 1956.

1. Clara Elizabeth Stewart entry, Rush County Indiana Deaths, Book 8B: 250, no. 5, County Department of Health, Rushville, Indiana

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Wordless Wednesday (almost) - EMAY children

The beautiful girl on the left, Lizzie, is my grandmother and the person whose bio I'm currently on. This picture was taken about 1900. Not included in the photo is the children's little brother, Cleveland, who died 24 July 1885 at the age of 10 months. Ola - or as we called her, Aunt Oli - was born 31 Mar 1886, just nine months later.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Updated Blog Page

I'm finished updating my blog site for a while. I changed the look a bit and added a surname page.

Hope you like it.

A New Face for my Pondering

I've been working on changing my blog design this morning. I hope you like it.

There's lots more to do. I plan to add a page or two with static information, include my surnames, etc. At least, I've started.

It's back to work!!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Final Day of FGS2011

I must admit my last day at the FGS conference is mostly a blur. The day was primarily spent working as a volunteer monitoring various sessions or helping out at the ISGS booth. Happily our booth had plenty of traffic.

Monitoring the rooms was lots more fun than I had anticipated and it caused me to sit in on some sessions I might not otherwise have attended. I took away new and useful information for each even when the topic wasn't specific to my personal research.

In the evening after the clean-up, I had the opportunity to dine with genealogy friends, some new, some recently met. How exciting to hear how much everyone enjoyed the four/five days we'd spent together. Most of us had helped in one capacity or another; we all had stories as well as new and exciting information/knowledge to share.

Now it's time to evaluate what we've learned, organized our thoughts, and put some of that newly gained "stuff" into action. As for me, I can't wait to try out me new Flip Pal scanner! Maybe I'll get more of my personal family pictures scanned now that I can do it pretty much anywhere anytime!!

(I have no affiliation with the Flip-Pal company other than being a new owner of the product.)

ISGS Luncheon at FGS2011

In my previous blog post, I promised a few pictures from the ISGS Luncheon.

As mentioned our speaker was Dr. Mike Lockett and here he is in his Union Soldier regalia informing and amusing us with his wonderful, unique stories.

Most important to me - not just because I had the privilege of making the introductions - was the honoring of this year's ISGS award recipients.

Marla Vizdal accepted the Volkel Hall of Fame for Libby Grimm,
Mary Matson Hawk & Donald Schmidt received the Writer's Award
Harold Workman received the Special Recognition Award
Robert Buecher  received the Community Service Award
Nelda Ravens received the Community Service Award

Gary Hargis accepting for Sandra Hargreaves Luebking
the Volkel Hall of Fame Award from
ISGS President Jance Fritsch

For those who may not be aware, the Volkel Hall of Fame is a posthumous award. The names of our two recipients for 2011 will be added to the plaque placed at the entrance to the reading room at the Illinois State Archives.

Congratulations to all the recipients and thank you from ISGS and the genealogy community for all you've giving us in time and effort.

Friday, September 9, 2011

FGS Conference Day 2 and Part of 3

This is going to be short and sweet; well, maybe just short. I'm writing this at the Cyber Cafe at the back of the exhibit hall in the Prairie Conference Center. The interent connection here is very slooow - no pics this time but there will be more later! My computer is back at the hotel and I'm tooo tired to walk across the street to get it.

Yesterday was so full and enjoyable I didn't have time to post an update last night.

The hightlight of our day was the ISGS luncheon. The speaker, Dr Mike Lockett, told some wonderful, unusual stories about the Civil War while dressed as a Union Soldier. Then, during the ISGS luncheon I had the previledge to announce the recipients of this year's ISGS award recipients. It was a grand time and I'll post more about it later.

For the rest of the day, it was monitoring or attending sessions and wondering around the exhibit hall. I had the opportunity to talk with lots of vendors, local society leaders, and happy attendees. I also got the down-low on the Flip-Pal scanner and I broke down and bought one today!! I can't wait to try it out.

Today has been spent working at registration, monitoring sessions, spending more time in the exhibit hall, and having great fun meeting and greeting so many fellow genealogists.

Tonight is the big gala for the 35th anniversary of FGS. I'll post an update on that as soon as I can.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Day One at FGS2011

I had every intention of blogging during the day yesterday but for several reasons - too busy, media area not open until Thursday... - it had to wait until this morning. Fortunately, I have a few minutes this morning before heading over the hear the keynote address from David Ferriero, the Archivist of the United States. Can"t wait to hear what he has to say.

So here I was yesterday morning getting ready to start the day. I'm not going to show you how I looked at the end of the day 'cause that's just too depressing.
The beads are from Geneabloggers as is the large pin - thanks Thomas.

I'm staying at the Hilton which is just across the street from the Convention Center. Once I got over there my day turned hectic - great fun, very information, lots of new ideas to take back to my local society, Elgin Genealogical Society - but hectic.

The evening was the best part, though. The Illinois Genealogical Society (I'm on the board) hosted a Prairie Social with our sponsor FamilySearch. What great fun!! Besides the ice cream sundaes, popcorn, and desserts, there was music from period musicians, a prized wheel, local society tables, and Fox Valley Genealogical Society hosted the Geopardy Game and, of course, our special guests: President and Mrs. Lincoln!

Some a of host members and attendees were attired in period dress as well. You can see for yourself a good time was had by all.
Jane Halderman, Larry Pepper, Janice Fritsch, David Kent Coy,
Dan Dixon, and Suzie Pope
"Mollie" Lincoln, Abe Lincoln, Suzie Pope

And this is me manning the EGS table. We had an excellent turnout with great traffic. It was great to meet so many genealogists!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

I Made to the FGS Conference 2011

Well my Dear Husband (DH) and I left home bright and early this morning, dropped the dog, Bessie, at Bark Avenue for her boarding days (This was not without some reticence on her part once she figured out this trip wasn't just for daycare.), and set out for Springfield, Illinois. The FGS Conference starts tomorrow but volunteer orientation was today.

Oriene Springstroh and Becky Higgins
We arrived in Springfield with just enough time to grab a bite of lunch and then head over the the Convention Center for our orientation. While getting briefed on how to man the Registration Desk, Oriene Springstroh of Fox Valley Genealogy Society on I had our picture taken. She wanted to prove to her DH that she isn't the only person wearing a genealogy shirt; not only a shirt but the same shirt!! - I've simply got to remember to comb my hair before the camera is snapped. UGH!!

Later DH and I completed our registration, got our bags - very nice ones - and organized our schedules with the additional information in our Guides.

We've had our dinner and later I'm going to try to find my way into a gathering which includes many of the bloggers who will be here for the next few days. I'm anxious to meet some of the wonderful people I follow on a regular basis.

That's it for now. I'll keep you posted as best I can as the days go on.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Donner Party and the Blue Family

As my husband said yesterday, "You just never know who you're related to until you find out."

If you’ve had any interest in the American migration west, you’ve heard of the tragedy of the Donner Party. I had heard bits and pieces about this throughout my life. Was the first time in school while studying the Oregon Trail? Perhaps. Anyway, then  it was simply History – not my favorite subject.

If the details of the Donner Party are vague in your mind check out the well-documented Wikipedia entry or this wonderful PBS film from The American Experience.

I recently received The Chalice, the quarterly newsletter from the Blue Family Association and there was a wonderful article, “The Donner Party Revisited” by Kenneth Blue of Grass Valley, California regarding the Blues who were part of the Donner Party. You haven’t heard of them because, of course, the Blues are on the maternal side and we all know what happens to female surnames.

Even though I have to go back nine generations to our common ancestor, John Blaw of Sommerset County, New Jersey, I am still a distant cousin to the families that made that perilous journey back in 1846/47. Now it’s about Family, not just History; now I feel connected.

Below, Kenneth lists our Blue family as associated with the Donner Party:
The DONNER Family
George Donner’s second wife was Mary Blue, daughter of Solomon and Telitha Ann (Morris) Blue:
Mary BLUE, m1.1828 Charles R. TENANT, m2.1829 George DONNER (b.1784?-1847). Both of her marriages took place in Sangamon Co. IL. Mary was the second of the three wives of George DONNER, leader of the tragic Donner Party. Presumably, she died before his third marriage, to Tamzene or Tamsen (EUSTIS) DOZIER in 1839. Mary's two children survived the ordeal during the winter of 1846/7. George died at Alder Creek Camp, Nevada Co. CA, as a result of an infected hand.
First marriage [of Mary Blue]: No issue.
Second marriage [of Mary Blue]:
1. Elitha Cumi DONNER (1832-1923), m1.1847 Perry McCOON (ca1821-1851), m2.1853 Benjamin R. WILDER (1821- 1898).
2. Leanna Charity DONNER (1834-1930), m.1852 John Mathias APP (1821-1898).
Mary died before the westward trek, but her two daughters made the journey and mercifully they both survived to make lives for themselves in California.

Mary's sister, Elizabeth, and her family were not so fortunate. Elizabeth had married Jacob Donner, George's brother, in 1835 and they had five children:

Elizabeth BLUE (d.1847), m1.1829 James HOOK, divorced, m2.1835 Jacob DONNER (ca1790-1846). Both of her marriages took place in Sangamon Co. IL. James abandoned his family and Elizabeth divorced him. Jacob was a brother of George DONNER, second husband of Elizabeth's sister Mary. Elizabeth and Jacob died with the famous Donner Party at Alder Creek Camp, Nevada Co. CA.
First marriage [of Elizabeth Blue]:
1. Solomon Elijah HOOK (1832-1878), m.1866 Alice M. ROBERTS.
2. William HOOK (1834-1847). Died while with the Donner Party.
Second marriage [of Elizabeth Blue]:
3. George DONNER (ca1837-1874), m.1862 Margaret WATSON.
4. Mary Martha DONNER (ca1839-1860), m.1859 Sherman Otis HOUGHTON (1828-1914).
5. Isaac DONNER (ca1841-1846/7). Died while with the Donner Party.
6. Samuel DONNER (ca1843-1846/7). Died while with the Donner Party.
7. Lewis DONNER (ca1844-1846/7). Died while with the Donner Party.
Elizabeth (Blue) Donner, her husband Jacob, and all seven of her children were members of the
Donner Party. Of this group, only three of her children survived, Solomon Hook, George Donner and
Mary Martha Donner.

More fortunate was George Donner’s daughter from his first marriage, Susannah Donner. In 1835 she
married Barneybeth Marshall Blue, brother of Mary and Elizabeth (Blue) Donner. Susannah and Barney stayed behind in Illinois, then in 1850 they moved to Missouri.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Grandma Stewart's Biography

I have been agonizing over writing the biography of my grandmother, Clara Elizabeth "Lizzie" Stewart, for a long time now. I have very few, and I do mean very few, personal memories of her. I've felt quite badly about that until recently.
You see our family moved from Indiana to Illinois when I had just turned ten years old. I thought surely by the age of ten I should have gathered lots of memories of family by then. And I had. I have some wonderful remembrances of my Grandma Miller and that whole family; but I can barely recall the other side.
As it turns out, however, there weren't that many opportunities to develop recollections of the Stewart grandparents because our family didn't visit there all that often. We weren't as embraced as the other siblings families so we stayed away. I don't need to go into the whys of that here as I've already dealt with it in my Dad's bio but at least I don't feel like a such dunce any more.
My little brother - 3 years older than me - remembers more and has promised to share so I'll be able to flesh out some bones with his stories. My big brother - 6 years older than me - doesn't remember any better than I do!
Bottom line, I think I'll be able to get that write-up done soon and be able to move on or rather back into the Leisure line.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Preparing for Leisure Reunion

Next weekend is the 90th Leisure Reunion and I'm working hard in preparation. Not that there is much I need to do for the reunion itself but I will have a day and a half for research in Rush County.

I did receive a copy of the newspaper article reporting our very 1st reunion, if you're interested you can read it here. I think it's pretty interesting. Now I'm going to see what I can find out about the people mentioned in the article so I can relate them to the current attendees.

Guess I'm better get to it:)

Monday, June 6, 2011

True Progress on Earl Stewart

I don't doubt that you can hear my "Yeas!!!" or see my dance of joy! I just finished a complete draft of Dad's bio!

Except for some pictures I haven't included yet (but I have them in digital form and ready to add), I actually made it through to the end. Now, I'm sure I'll be thinking of things from time to time I'll want to add and I know I'll have to make many revisions before I publish it - but THE DRAFT IS DONE!!!

I'll be moving on to my grandmother, Clara Elizabeth (Emay) Stewart next. This one may be a bit difficult as well but probably not as hard as Dad's. After all, I'm more removed from her. I'll have to work through an issue or two but, here's hoping I'll be able to fly through it.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Update on Dad's Bio

I’m still spending as much time as I’ve been able to allot to writing up Dad’s biography.  Today will also be given to that task.

Knowing what to include and what to leave out is becoming the issue for me. I keep reminding myself that this is the story of his life and not his life’s influence on mine. That may seem like a small difference but it really isn’t. My desire is to see the events and situations in which he found himself from – as best I can – his point of view. The things he did or didn’t do throughout his lifetime had an influence and effect on my life but, for this writing, my feelings or views shouldn’t be obvious.

I’m finding it much easier to write about people more distant to me who, though they are part of what makes me “me”,   have a less direct impact. In fact, I didn’t experience anything like this when I wrote about the Ruch family. They were on my husband’s side and, for the most part, I’d never met them. I could easily tell their story with objectivity.

Well, I must get back to it. I really need to get this finished, at least in draft, so I can move back a bit farther where the words will probably come with less effort. Of course, the next write-up will be my grandmother and, unfortunately, I have some issues there, too. Who knows, maybe this will help me understand her better.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

So Much to Do, So Little Time

I'll take this brief opportunity to say I'm still here and hope to get back to more frequent posts soon. For the time being, I'm caught up in household duties - both inside and out - which have been taking up most of my time and pretty much all of my energy. I've only been able to keep up with the tasks required to fulfill my volunteer jobs - EGS & ISGS - and, thus, have sorely neglected other far more fun and interesting activities like blogging!

However, I have been carrying on more consistent email correspondence with one of my brothers. He has been so helpful sharing his memories of our Dad and some great stories they are! David is three years older than I and he is able to fill in earlier years I don't remember at all. Besides, another view is always useful. With his additions, I know Dad's story will be far more interesting. Can't wait to get back to writing !!

Once the painting is finished - if it ever is - ...

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Earl Stewart & his Graduating Class of 1933

Leisure Family History: Earl Stewart & his Graduating Class of 1933: Looking for names of class mates. Please go to link to see photo of the 13 students who graduated in Mays, Indiana in 1933

Monday, April 25, 2011

Making My Way Back

At last, I'm back at the keyboard preparing to delve, once again, into my project for the year. The great delay has been because I went on a vacation. I was only gone 13 days but it's taken me much longer to get back on track. I guess sometimes you just need a vacation from your vacation.

I have done a bit of research on some individuals in my Leisure line since I've been back. It's been hit and miss, though, and they have been mostly distant cousins.

My current task is to write my Dad's biography. The spark came this morning out of the blue. My husband and I went out for breakfast at one of our local cafes. Sitting at a booth in my direct line of sight was a man who could have been my Dad's twin - at least, when my Dad was about 20 years younger than when he died. It was difficult to keep from staring. Oddly, every time I looked at him I saw a different aspect of his features which reminded me of each of my brothers and also Dad alone.

I'm taking this experience as a push (from Dad?) to stop procrastinating and get that bio finished. I'm picturing him standing with his feet apart, hands on hips and that look that said, "NOW!"

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun - Surnames

Randy Seavers of Genea-Musings has posted our weekly challenge game:
Your mission, should you decide to accept it, is to:

1)  Go into your Genealogy Management Program (GMP; either software on your computer, or an online family tree) and figure out how to Count how many surnames you have in your family tree database.

2)  Tell us which GMP you're using and how you did this task.

3)  Tell us how many surnames, and if possible, which Surname has the most entries.  If this excites you, tell us which surnames are in the top 5!

I'm using Family Tree Maker 2011 and this is the first time I've look for this option in this version. It only took me a couple of minutes to figure out I needed to create a report. Go to Publish, choose the Person Reports, then create a Surname Report. In the report options choose All Indiviuals and Sort by Surname Count. Choose Create again and voila!

My report is 25 pages long but, many of the surnames are only recorded once. As my Irish relatives would say, "They're the blow-ins". Really they are just the distant collateral lines I haven't investigated yet.

I like this report because I gives more than just a count of a surnames use; it also breaks the usage down by Male, Female, Earliest, Most recent. I find that very interesting.

Since I always have a problem following directions:) here are my top 12 most used surnames:

Surname Report

Most recent

Looking at this, I'm beginning to see why writing up the Leisure family is taking me so long!