Thursday, January 29, 2009

Etched in Stone

Just because something is etched in stone, doesn’t mean that it is, well, “etched in stone.” Take for example the case of the Good Family Marker. On August 15 1979, the marker was unveiled at the Flat Rock Church of the Brethren’s Homecoming Sunday service. The church, located in Forestville, Virginia, included the unveiling ceremony in its program that Sunday morning. The marker read:
In Loving Memory of William Good 1737 – 1806 And Wife Maria Snavely 1740 -1831 Early Pioneers of the Tunker Brethren in Virginia And Descendents. Erected by William Conrad Good And Other Descendents 1978
A lovely sentiment to be sure, but unfortunately the death date for Maria was wrong. Maria’s grave marker, which was located on the original family farm, was still legible when it was read by D. Saylor Good, a descendent, on December 29, 1903 The marker was in inscribed in German. “Hier Ruht Marie Guth. in Sie ist Gestorben Augst den 10, 1822. Ald 82 Jahr 1 Monat 6 Tag.“ Roughly translated it said, “Here lies Marie Guth, Died August 10, 1822. Age 82 Years, 1 Month and 6 Days.” The death date is confirmed by a will that was proved October 7, 1822 for Mary Good, which can be found in the Shenandoah County Will Book M, Page 94. The story, which was told by June Hulvey in her book, “The William Good Family,” does not say how the error came to be, but clearly a descendent reading the marker and going no further, would come away with an incorrect death date for Maria. That incorrect death date might lead someone to overlook Maria’s will. It might lead to confusion on just who Maria’s children were, and in effect, it might change the history of a family. Mistakes happen on markers. They happen in obituaries. And they even happen on death records. Whenever possible, it is always good to keep digging, even after you have found your prize, just to confirm the accuracy of your find. The marker, which originally rested on the property of the Flat Rock Church, was moved to the Flat Rock Cemetery about a half mile away.

Flat Rock Church of the Brethren Flat Rock Cemetery

That is where the fifth Great Granddaughter of William and Maria Good found it, when she went looking for it in 2005. Incorrectly inscribed or not, it was still a thrill to find this monument of my family’s heritage.

Until Next Time – Happy Ancestral Digging!
Hulvey, Velma June Good. The William Good Family, Revised Edition (Stephens City, Va., Commercial Press Inc.), 1996.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Monday, January 26, 2009

My Year of Positive Thinking - Week 3

This week's positive quote comes from my friend Shirley. As a teenager she saw the quote in her local newspaper, and the words captured her own "imagination." Today, a framed copy hangs on her wall.

"Imagination disposes of everything; it creates beauty, justice and happiness, which are everything in the world." ~ Blaise Pascal.

So here's to imagination and all it promises to create, and to my friend Shirley, who was kind enough to share this special quote.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

My Year of Positive Thinking - Week 2

Well it seems, uh, downright dorky, this whole year of positive thinking thing. I am mentally cursing myself for having started it. But since I committed to it, and I was always big on making my children stick with their committments, I guess I will just have to live with being dorky. It's only for 51 more weeks, how bad could that be?

This week’s positive quote is from my friend Teagen, who sent me, “What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters, compared to what lies within us. ” The quote is from Finding Your Way Home by Melody Beattie

Last week proved personally trying; I proved that mere words do not a positive thinker make; and the only thing I can say positively for sure is, that this post (which I previously said would be on Mondays) is two days late.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Fulfillment of a Dream

It is, of course, ironic that Martin Luther King day and the inauguration of our 44th President are occurring on consecutive days. The man who stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in August of 1963 and said, “Now is the time to open the doors of opportunity to all of God's children. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood,” must surely have envisioned the historical event that is taking place tomorrow.

Whether or not you supported his presidency, you cannot ignore the magnitude of what is about to happen, a man of black heritage taking the oath, for the highest office of our land.

Real progress, however, will be made when the young children of today, look on the election of an individual of any race, man or woman, as nothing out of the ordinary. We will have arrived, as a nation, at the door of our mutually promised heritage when that day occurs.

The man who said, “We can never be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote,” must be pleased with tomorrow’s events.

Today we honor a man who had a dream. Tomorrow we see a portion of that dream fulfilled.

Note: If you read this post at my original Desktop Genealogist Blog on the News-Messenger website, you will notice that the second to the last paragraph was not included there. That is because the website required me to change the word "Negro" to the word "Black." Not wanting to change the historic speech of Dr. King, I elected to omit the offending paragraph.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Memories of a Giggle

I came out of the womb a serious, anxious child. The world scared me from the first. I preferred my mother’s presence to that of anyone else, feeling warm and safe with her. But you can’t stay in the cocoon of a mother’s love. There is a world, and you are expected to live in that world.

Very early then, I began to collect laughs. I decided as a small child that a person was safe to be around based on frequency and style of laughter. If you didn’t pass my laugh test, I wasn’t spending any time with you. My Aunt Marion passed this laugh test with flying colors.

Funny, I don’t remember any specific conversations with her. I remember being in her basement where the family was living while their house was being built. I remember her decision to push my cousin’s twin beds together one time when I was spending the night, much to my delight. I remember warm, fresh from the oven peanut butter cookies tasting like heaven as we ate them in her sunny kitchen, but mostly I remember her laugh.

Aunt Marion -Thanksgiving 1951

It started at the back of her throat and came bubbling out her lips. It was really, more of a giggle then a laugh. It was delicate. It was feminine. It made you smile. It punctuated sentences, or sometimes marked the beginning of one. It was infectious and drew you in, especially if you were a serious, anxious little girl. It was unique and part of my earliest childhood recollections.

My aunt died this past Sunday, leaving the world a lesser place with only memories of her unique little giggle. She will be missed.

Until Next Time . . .

Monday, January 12, 2009

Resolutions and No Resolutions

You may have noticed that I passed on doing a New Year’s Resolution this year. I shamed myself with last year’s resolution (Finding out more information on Jacobus ancestors) so badly that I figured my making a resolution was something akin to Congress requesting accountability on bailouts. A great idea, but without muscle, it’s just words.

However, not to worry, the Carnival of Genealogy had in the neighborhood of forty “resolute” geneabloggers who willingly put their own reputations on the line to share with you their personal New Year’s resolutions. They were, to say the least, inspiring. They were, to say the most, practical ideas that may be just the thing you need to start your year out right. You can catch the link at Jasia’s Creative Gene website.

I have however, been thinking about my own cranky, go away don’t bother me attitude. If I said, “I hate Christmas!” once, I must have said it - well enough times to have a daughter-in-law tell me, “You always say that.” Ouch!

So I’m trying an experiment, which is different from a resolution. (Don’t ask me the difference, just roll with me here.)

I’m calling it, “My Year of Positive Thinking” and every Monday, I’ll write a positive quote on an index card and read it first thing in the morning and the last thing before going to bed for an entire week. The next week, I’ll do the same thing all over again with another quote.

In each Monday’s post, I’ll tell you what my quote for the week is. My boss, Sam, and my co-worker, Teagen, have offered to help me come up with some positive quotes. (As I told them, the only quote that leapt to my mind was, “When you see light at the end of the tunnel, it’s the light of the oncoming train.” You see my problem.)

If any of you have a favorite quote that fits in with what I am hoping to accomplish, feel free to send me the quote. I can use all the help I can get.

However, I think I found just the ticket for this week’s quote. It comes from Max Ehrmann’s “Desiderata.”

You are a child of the universe
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Until Next Time …

Tri-Racial Isolate: A Hidden Ancestry

In the foothills of Eastern Tennessee, there lived a group of individuals called Melungeons. I mention them because they are perhaps the best-known example of a tri-racial isolate. “Tri-racial isolate” is an academic term used to denote communities of mixed racial ancestry. Most often, the mixture is said to be that of European, Native American and African American, although some would argue this point.

Other theories vigorously promoted include descendancy from shipwrecked Portuguese sailors (who intermarried with local natives) to shipwrecked Spaniards, Sephardic Jews, Gypsies and the Lost Colony of Roanoke Island. Each theory has articulate proponents and disciples. Each theory endeavors to explain away deep olive skin, dark hair and the blue, gray or green eyes that marked many of these individuals as “different” from their white neighbors.

These differences, noted in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, often made them unsuitable spouses for their white neighbors. Their own unwillingness to embrace the economic, legal and social disadvantages of the African American community made them shun this group as potential mates. Because of this, they intermarried within their own populace, thus isolating themselves socially and sometimes physically from society at large.

Since they were not considered white or black, this posed problems in a racially divided 18th Century America. These problems would haunt the Melungeons and the other tri-racial communities well into the 20th Century. Prior to the 1850 census, you will find many of these mixed ancestry individuals tabulated under the “Free Colored” columns of the census, along with their free African Americans counterparts.

In the 1850 and 1860 censuses, the census taker instructions were, “Under heading 6, “Color,” in all cases where the person is white, leave the space blank; In all cases where the person is black, insert the letter B; If mulatto, insert M. It is very desirable that these particulars be carefully regarded.” This of course, left the census taker with a dilemma when enumerating members of a mixed race group. You will often find them listed on the census with a letter “m” under the column “Color.”

Other famous tri-racial isolate communities include, North Carolina’s Lumbee Indians (from which the actress, Heather Locklear, descends), the Carmel Indians of Highland County, Ohio and the Redbones of South Carolina and Louisiana. The article, “ ‘Verry Slitly Mixt’: Tri-Racial Isolate Families of the Upper South – A Genealogical Study” by Virginia Easley DeMarce, states that “Ethnologists have identified approximately thirty-five tri-racial isolate communities in the eastern half of the United States (or up to two hundred, if one counts small groups.)”

One of these smaller identified groups originated in an area of Gibson’s Mill in Louisa County, Virginia. Sometime in the early to mid 1830’s several families from “Gibby’s Mill” migrated across the Ohio River into what was then Gallia County, Ohio. A boundary change in 1850 placed most of the group within the boundaries of the newly created, Vinton County with the remainder living on the Jackson/Vinton County border. These individuals had surnames of Napper, Dorton and Thacker, joined later by Doles and Freeman.

Like other mixed race communities, they congregated closely together. Like other mixed race communities, they intermarried heavily within their own group. Like other mixed raced communities, the census taker marked them with an “m” under the heading of “color.” But unlike the other tri-racial isolates, this community is of special interest to me. A branch of my family tree has roots within this community, roots that I had been unaware of until this past year.

If you have noticed a lack of posting and participation in geneablogger pursuits, it has been because of my own fascination with this “Vinton County Group.” In order to study the group I have had to study the disciplines of history, anthropology, cultural and ethnic studies, geography, sociology and law –certainly a stretch for a former business major.

I’m not complaining. I cheerfully gobble up each new detail, but it does take time, and time is a finite quantity. So if I am less attentive, or seem preoccupied, this is the reason. I’m not sure what will become of the information that I am amassing. Maybe one day I will devour that one last piece that will satiate this curiosity, this hunger and I will sit back on my heels (okay, you realize the sitting back on the heels thing is a metaphor, my knees would scream in heated protest, should I actually try that move) and say, well okay, now I have had enough and I can move on.

Until I have had enough, I will still be posting (I do have to come up for air from time to time) just not as much or as often.

If you are interested in learning more about tri-racial isolates, here are some websites to get you started.

Melungeon Heritage Association Website A great website with articles of differing points of view.

Discover: “Where Do We Come From?”

The Lumbee Indians A variety of information and articles.

Open Salon: “ Who was America’s first black President?” An interesting article about the racial background of previous presidents.

World Culture Encyclopedia:: North America – “American Isolates”

Frontline: “The Blurred Racial Lines of Famous Families” Be sure to check out some of the other links in the sidebar.

Additional Resources Used:

DeMarce, “’Verry Slitly Mixt’: Tri-Racial Isolate Families of the Upper South—A Genealogical Study,” NGSQ, Vol. 80, No. 1 (March 1992): 5–35.

United States Census Bureau, “Measuring America: The Decennial Censuses From 1790 to 2000,” 2002. Pamphlet, U.S. Census Bureau, 2009.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Sandusky County Kin Hunters Meeting this Sunday!

Kim Harden of Sandusky County Kin Hunters sent me a note reminding me that the next meeting is this coming Sunday, January 11, at 2:00 PM. The meeting will take place at the Sandusky Twp. Hall on Rt. 19 North in Fremont. The building is handicapped accessible and there is ample parking available.

Kim says, "We would like to welcome anyone interested (or curious) in genealogy research. Present members will be glad to share knowledge and experience. Anyone wishing to join will receive a free starter kit."

So don't be shy, come out and meet some fellow family historians! For more information you can contact Kim at 419-603-0367.

Until Next Time - Happy Ancestral Digging!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

My Twelve Sentence Review

Okay, proving that geneabloggers are just as warped as your average person, several memes are going around the geneablogger universe right now. One instructs – “take the first sentence from the first post of each month. You will end up with only twelve sentences. Post those twelve sentences.” Well, okay then.

January 2 - Other Voices of Genealogy - My writing style tends to be a casual, slightly irreverent style of prose.

February 1 - Web sites to check out - Aaarrrggh!!!!! How in the world did it get to be February already?

March 2 - Pension File Stories: Louisa Ish Smathers, Disappearing Woman - “I am nearly 48 years old, a housekeeper…”

April 1 - A look back — on Women's History Month and beyond - When my sister and I were young, we would play make-believe games.

May 1 - Part II: Pomerania - War and Consequences - The people of Pomerania knew that the Russian Army was rapidly advancing on them.

June 2 - One SuperPower to Go - Please! - Over the past couple of days, I’ve been thinking about what superpower I could appropriate that would help me most in my genealogical snooping.

July 1 - Delete is NOT an option - Okay, this post is only for those of you who maintain blogs on this newspaper website or those of an affiliated newspaper website. The rest of you can go do something else - sleep, eat, start a third world country.

August 4 - 7 Days, 7 Requests - Inertia is defined as the resistance to motion, action, or change.

September 1 - Our Family Treasure - For 102 years, various members of my family have been responsible for keeping the documents that my great grandparents Leo and Emma Schrader brought with them when they immigrated in 1906.

October 1 -Geneablogger Gnome makes a visit to the Desktop Genealogist - The little fellow below came for a visit to the Desktop Genealogist blog via email for my participation in Terry Thornton’s “Getting to Know You Challenge. "

November 4 - Some Final Thoughts on This Election Day - I just read a piece in the New York Times which said that the election with the largest voter turnout happened 100 years ago, on November 3, 1908 when 66% of the registered voters showed up at the polls and elected Ohioan, William Howard Taft, the Republican candidate, as President.

December 2 - Today I cannot write - Last night, big fat flakes of snow traveled softly to the ground.

So there you have it. My twelve sentence review of my blog. I’m not sure what it proves – that I don’t always start my posts with the word, “okay?”