Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Happy Birthday to My Daughter

You were maybe twenty months old, and we had started using a time out chair when you continued to get into something you had been told not to get into, like say, cigarette butts sitting in an ashtray. Only this was in a pre-enlightened time, when I didn’t know any better and called it “The Bad Girl Chair.”

I was standing near “The Bad Girl Chair” one day, when you suddenly pushed me. I lost my balance and fell back into the chair. I quickly stood back up, and you pushed me again, and continued to push me until I, suddenly wising up, asked you, “Do you want me to sit in this chair?”

Head nod yes.

“Because I’ve been bad?”

Vigorous head nod yes.

I sat down in amazement. Here you were, less than two, and not only did you understand the concept of “The Bad Girl Chair,” but you stood there unafraid to stare down an authority figure (me) when you thought you were justified. I knew then that the world was in big trouble, just as was said authority figure (me)!

You are such a paradox, my beautiful daughter. Gentle hearted, thoughtful, strong willed, competent, stubborn, insightful, considerate, tough, brave, intelligent, less than punctual and kick ass funny, when the mood strikes you. I would not change one tiny little thing about you, my love.

From the first moment I saw your sweet little heart shaped face, I fell hopelessly in love with you. I don’t say it often enough, princess, but I am so glad that you are my daughter. Happy Birthday, baby girl.



My Year of Positive Thinking - Week 6

I am suffering from an embarrassment of “positive” riches. My friend Teagen, though she had a stressful week last week, managed to send me a beautiful book filled with enough positive quotes to last me an entire year. That’s right, an entire year, every day, 365 days!

Next week, I will be pulling from this quote book and talking more about it, but I wanted to thank Teagen publicly for such a thoughtful gesture, especially with the kind of week she experienced.

Speaking of last week, as you know, last week started on a bit of a low note. Apparently, I wasn’t the only one. HARRIET of Genealogy Fun also had a Bad Day last week. She dwelled a little in that vat of you-know-what, but was able to pull herself out of it. I say, “Good for you, Harriet!”

This week’s quote comes from my boss, Sam. When she sent it to me, I knew that this was the next quote that I wanted to use. It’s from Nelson Mandela.

"And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same."

So that’s my goal this week, to be the candle instead of the candlesnuffer.

Have a great week.

PS to Harriet. Ohio has more snow in the forecast this week. If I could only figure out how to do it, I would share. :-)

Monday, February 16, 2009

A webinar, a database, and the forgotten African American Ancestor

There is a brick wall for African Americans when they start researching their ancestry. That brick wall is slavery. On February 24, Ancestry.com is presenting a free, one-hour webinar featuring Marjorie Sholes, a professional genealogist who can show you how to identify slave owners and track down your slave ancestors. You can read more about the program and register for it here.

You should know however, that it is possible your ancestor belonged to an overlooked group, known as free people of color. Though their numbers were small, these individuals existed from the days of the early colonies right through to the eve of the civil war.

Some of the individuals were former slaves who had been given their freedom and some descended from African Americans who came to the colonies as indentured servants early in the seventeenth century. When their term of indenture was completed they were free, the same as their white counterparts.

By the last half of the seventeenth century, African Americans were brought to the colonies as indentured servants for life, in other words, slaves. But for some, those among the first to come to this country, there was freedom – for themselves and their descendents.

Just how many of the Free Colored was there? Below are graphs of statistics taken from the 1790, 1820 and 1850 census. As you can see, the percentage of Free Colored remained steady at 2% of the total population. During that same time period, the percentage of slave to total population declined from 18% in 1790 to 16% in 1820 and finally to 14% in 1850.

Would it surprise you to know that some of the largest population of free coloreds resided not in Free states but in Slave states? In 1790, the six states with largest population of free colored accounted for 71.4% of the total free black population.

Below is the chart for the number of slaves that were freed and those that fled, according to the 1850 census.

If your ancestor came originally from the state of Delaware, the chance that they were a member of the free colored class is much better than if they came from the state of Georgia.

Curious how your free African American ancestor might have made his living? Below are the top occupations listed in the 1850 census for Connecticut and Louisiana.

Finally, if you are wondering if you descend from a free person of color, the New England Historic Genealogical Society is featuring their database “Free Negro Heads of Families in the United States in 1830.” For the month of February, you may access this database free. Happy Hunting!


Debow, J.D.B., Statistical View of the United States, Compendium of the Seventh Census, 1854, PDF download, Internet Archive, http://www.archive.org/details/statisticalviewo00unitrich: 2009.

Russell, John Henderson, The Free Negro in Virginia, 1619-1865, 1913, PDF download, Google Books, http://books.google.com/books?id=G7AJAAAAIAAJ&printsec=frontcover&dq=Free+Negro+of+Virginia : 2008.

Slave Code for the District of Columbia, American Memory, Slaves and the Courts, 1740-1860, Law Library of Congress, http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/sthtml/stpres02.html, 2009.

Slave State, Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slave_state, 2009.

Maine 1790 Census, USGenWeb Census Project, Maine 1790 Census, http://www.usgwcensus.org/states/maine/me1790.htm, 2009.

Vermont1790 Census, USGenWeb Census Project, Vermont 1790 Census, http://www.usgwcensus.org/states/vermont/vt1790.htm, 2009.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Not Dwelling in the Vat of Crabbiness

Okay, okay, I lied. I didn’t post my positive thinking piece as promised. But, in mulling it over, I decided that I would let Monday’s post stand.

Yah, I was crabby, but in writing about my day, I relieved my stress, poked some fun at myself, and then got on with things.

Life doesn’t always go the way you want it to go. Sometimes, no matter how good your intentions, things run amok. As long as you find a healthy way to deal with it, and don’t dwell too long in the vat of crabbiness, it’s okay. The positive police won’t come and lock you up.

It turns out that writing is my coping mechanism. Once I wrote the post, my doom and gloom mood lifted, and I was able to laugh at how personally I was taking a series of random events. Now that may be an unconventional vision of positive thinking, but it kind of works for me. Maybe that’s progress.

Until Next Time . . .

Monday, February 9, 2009

Dear Internet – This is NOT my Monday Positive Thinking Post

Dear Internet,

I am having a bad day. I do not like Mondays. It is laughable that I chose this day of the week for my positive thinking posts. Was I not begging for trouble?

Most of the issues I am having are computer related, and while that might not sound like a big deal, it is. I make money using my computer and the Internet. And when I can’t log into a certain database in a certain East Coast city, I can’t make money. Wah!

However, the whole tone for the day was set first thing this morning, before I knew the universe was conspiring against me.

I did a dumb thing. I made myself a cup of tea, and put it into one of our mugs that we’ve had for almost seven years. As I am carrying the tea from the kitchen into the family room, I hear a telltale crack that should have been my warning that something bad was about to happen. But I am slowwitted and I keep on walking.

Actually, I got as far as one more step, when the side and bottom blew out of the cup, spraying the contents of what moments before had been boiling water, all over me. My left foot with its long Morton’s toe, along with one of Morton’s brother toes, took a direct hit of the liquid as it obeyed the laws of gravity.

Fortunately, though I am by nature a hillbilly (please no emails, I use the term lovingly) and start my mornings barefooted, this morning I had slipped on a pair of footies. Unfortunately, they are made of absorbable material and as I am jumping around in pain, it occurs to me that the biggest source of pain is this now soaked footie, which I immediately rip off. This turned the pain down a notch, but it still hurt. So I took an ice pack wrapped in a washcloth and put it on the burn to cool it down and ease the pain. Then I sprayed burn ointment on it.

According to the Internet, I should have run the burn under cold water for about 15 minutes, not used the spray, and then wrapped in non-fuzzy material (I had some gauze that is now wrapped around the two toes.) All the other burns were superficial. I suspect this might be a partial thickness burn.

Moral of the story - wait a few minutes before you pour boiling hot water into a cup. Then wait a minute or so more before carrying the liquid anywhere. If you hear a funny cracking sound, set the cup down immediately and step back. Learn to drink a nice cold glass of milk to wake yourself up in the morning.

So I’m cranky, I hate Mondays, and I’m setting down my Pollyanna persona that I’ve been practicing for the last few weeks, and taking a few hours to enjoy some well earned crabbiness.

My quote for today (oh yes, I have one) comes from my friend Leslie, who upon reading all the aforementioned catastrophes wrote me back and said, “Sometimes you just need to bask in the vat of crabbiness.” Indeed.

Tomorrow, I will post my regular positive thinking post. Have I mentioned I hate Mondays?

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Snapshot - Summer of 1932

The car, grandmother’s dropped waist dress and hairstyle suggest a picture taken in the late 1920’s. Her sister Elsie’s dress style, finger wave bob, and more importantly, the little guy holding each of their hands, my dad, firmly dates the picture as summer or early fall 1932.

This post written for the 10th edition of Smile for the Camera: Costume at Shades of the Departed.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

The Monthly Mélange - Edition I

We live in such a hurried world, always rushing from point A to point B, from one task to the next. Frankly, I don’t do “hurry” very well. That probably explains why I am so unprolific when it comes to posting on my blogs. (Or would that be non-prolific? Or does non-prolific apply only to nuclear test band treaties? Hmm…)

I’m not sure why we are all racing around. Where exactly do we think we are going? I am, by nature, a more reflective person. Things have to roll around in this brain of mine before they take root. So once a month, I’m going to sloooow things down, and do a little reflecting on the blog posts that lingered with me from the past month.

Now understand, I could easily come up with a hundred or more that fit into that category. There is a lot of good writing and interesting topics to be found in the blogosphere, but I’m only going to highlight a dozen or so that, for whatever reason, have stayed with me. It may be that they made me smile. It may be that they made me weep, or it may be that they told me something I wanted to know, even if I didn’t know I wanted to know it.

My picks, like my tastes, are eclectic, hence the name “Monthly Mélange.” I hope you find one or two of these topics that linger with you.

Now to kick this series off, I have a wonderful post that is universal in its theme. What is more wonderful than a grandparent sharing their passion with a grandchild? I loved this story, “You Really Do Know Her” by our lady, footnoteMaven. It’s sweet, without being saccharine, and it’s guaranteed to make you smile.

Speaking of smile, I chose this post by Amy of We Tree, because in addition to the fact that “The G-Files” is about organizing your genealogical data (which always interests me since organization is my personal downfall,) but also because of this wonderful line in her post. “I bought 100 manila folders and I'm not afraid to use them.” You go, girl! I’m still smiling typing that line.

For those of you not local, that is not Northern Ohioans, you may not know about Johnson’s Island. Johnson’s Island is located in Lake Erie, along the Sandusky Bay. During the Civil War, it housed Confederate officers as prisoners-of-war. But why was it called Johnson’s Island? Well, now I know thanks to Dorene of Graveyard Rabbit of Sandusky Bay, and her post, “Leonard Beatty Johnson.”

Do you remember the Challenger? Well Denise Olson does. She had a unique perspective of the event. She watched from her office, which happened to be 120 miles from the launch site. This is a short, touching post about the day, and its impact on Denise. Read “Remembering Challenger” at her blog site, Moultrie Creek.

I’m a BIG PowerPoint fan. But just when I think I’ve found all the bells and whistles, Thomas MacEntee shows me another in “Creating a Banner Image,” at Facebook® Bootcamp for Geneabloggers. While it’s true the post is geared toward bloggers, anybody wanting to learn how to make a banner with their PowerPoint program can easily follow along with this step-by-step post. (Dude, Thomas, where were you when I was struggling with the PP program last year?)

My smart friend, Sheri Fenley, tackles a subject near and dear to every genealogist’s heart, “What Happens To My Research When I’m Gone?” In Part 1, Sheri talks about the use of a codicil to determine your wishes and in Part 2, she tells of a wonderful woman who is ready and willing to give your research an eternal home. Not for nothing is Sheri called The Educated Genealogist.

Sometimes when we write about those people who loomed large in our childhood, we tend to look at them through a filtered lens. We round out the rough corners; soften the focus, and dim the light until some of their special essence is scrubbed from the picture. This is not the case with Craig Manson’s portrait of his grandmother. In “Nana’s 100th Anniversary”, we meet a woman who refused for decades to pay property tax because her son had been barred by segregation from attending the local school. A woman, who unannounced, showed up in Germany while her son and his family were posted there. Make no mistake. This is a loving tribute, but it is also a refreshingly honest portrait of a woman who had what we Ohioans call spunk. You can read about it Craig’s blog, GeneaBlogie.

Miriam Robbins Midkiff of AnceStories holds a Scanfest about once a month. What is a Scanfest, you ask? Well, it’s a get together via Live Messenger, where the individuals, mostly geneabloggers, spend an afternoon “chatting” and scanning. This month, before the event, Miriam wrote a blog post entitled, “Things You Don’t Want to Do During Scanfest.” She went on to list seven things, some of which are definitely worth knowing for anyone who does scanning. (Including No. 2, which is, don’t scan photos into .jpg files.) If you scan, you definitely want to check this out.

Randy Seaver’s has a habit of writing exactly what I’m thinking, only writing it better, and funnier, and well, actually writing it. So when he wrote his post, “Is US Content being held hostage on Ancestry.com?” I was all like, right on, Randy. I snickered when he mentioned that we were on Day 6 of the hostage watch. I wanted to come up with a comment that fit his post, but I drew a big blank. A few days later, with visions of a large, organized geneablogger protest, I went back to make an appropriate comment only to find that a very nice person from Ancestry.com had REPLIED to Randy’s post. Talk about making your voice heard! So get over to Genea-Musings to see both Randy’s piece and Chris from Ancestry’s reply. (Note to Randy – can you say you want to see additions to the Newspaper collection – I LOVE that collection.)

Under the category of “You just can’t make this stuff up,” comes my next pick, “Killed by Wm. C. Falkner.” Mona Robinson Mills of Graveyard Rabbit of Yorknapatawpha County tells an interesting tale of bad blood, a few killings and an unusual tombstone. All revolved around the great grandfather of Nobel Prize winner, William Faulkner. With such a bloodline, Faulkner probably had to become a writer.

If you have ever had the solemn chore of packing up the vestiges of a deceased loved one’s life, you will understand the feelings of Lorine of Olive Tree Genealogy Blog. Her two-part post, “Packing up a Life” and “Packing up a Life – Day 2” are a touching memorial to her mother’s life. She sums up what many have felt in the same circumstance. “We left feeling a bit depressed both at the seemingly never-ending job ahead, and at the realization that we were packing up a life. Once packed it would be over. A life lived, now gone.”

Finally, I admit it. I totally missed this entry when it was first posted on January 1 at Terry Thornton’s, Hill Country of Monroe County, Mississippi. Which is a pity, because it would have brought some much needed levity to my life, but better late than never. For a few months in the 1940’s, the Thorntons were the proud owners of a pet alligator. Like yarn being waved before a cat, Terry entices us with the story of an alligator, plucked from the Georgia swamps by family friends, delivered as a prospective pet, and determined to cause the family (and community) chaos. For my part, I’m still trying to get my head wrapped around the idea that “friends” would think a medium sized alligator had the makings of a perfect pet. While I sit here and chew on that some more, go see for yourself at “My Pet Alligator.”

Well, that’s it for the January edition of The Monthly Mélange. If you missed any of these particular posts, why not spend some time catching up. It’s okay to take the time, maybe even do a little reflecting. After all, what’s the hurry?

Thursday, February 5, 2009

The 65th Edition of the Carnival of Genealogy Has Post

Fifty geneabloggers responded to the topic, “Happy Dancing, The Joy of Genealogy” that Becky Wiseman of Kinexions hosted for the 65th Edition of the COG. That’s a lot of twinkle-toed genealogists! Share in their joy, and maybe take a moment and share a similar experience by commenting on some of their posts.

Just in Time for My Friend Dawn

My friend Dawn today was bemoaning the complexities of organizing your genealogy data. Funny that she mentioned this because I am currently writing a post for the first edition of The Monthly Mélange, in which I confess that, “organization is my personal downfall.” Cross my heart, I wrote that exact phrase yesterday.

Well leave it to Dear Myrtle to have solutions in the shape of a checklist. Myrtle prepared a checklist for January (“2009: All You Can Be”) and one for February (“Finally Getting Organized: February 2009 Checklist”). You can download them free, in a PDF file, but as “Myrt” suggests, viewing them online will enable you to click the hyperlinks.

Just so you know, Dawn and I will have to do double time to make up for the month we are behind, and if we can do it, so can you.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Sandusky County Kin Hunters Meeting

Just a reminder, that the February meeting of Sandusky County Kin Hunters will take place this Sunday, February 8 at 2:00 PM. John Tate, the guest speaker, will be sharing his own knowledge and experiences in doing family history research.

The meeting, which is free and open to anyone with an interest in genealogy, will be held at the Sandusky Township Hall on Rt. 19 North in Fremont. Parking is ample and the building is handicapped accessible

For more information, contact Kim at 419-603-0367

Monday, February 2, 2009

My Year of Positive Thinking - Week 4

I am announcing that this week, I will be inaugurating a monthly post entitled, “The Monthly Mélange” which will list blog posts that for whatever reason, stayed with me after I had read them. Perhaps the post made me smile, reflect, or learn something new. While I could easily come up with 200 that would qualify, I am limiting myself to 10 - 13 that I want to highlight and share with you.

Some will be for those of you who, like me, love working on family history. Other posts, I hope, will have universal appeal. For the present, I am sticking to using those written by other geneabloggers, but that is not a hard and fast rule.

And finally, I have this week’s quote. It comes from Teagen’s Mother-in Law, who succumbed to cancer in 2001. Teagen says that she had “a very positive and spiritual outlook throughout her life.”

I didn’t know Teagen’s mother-in-law, but I think she would have liked the idea of inspiring a stranger with one of the quotes she had collected. Perhaps it will be your inspiration too.

"People who have the gift of courage are those who can feel angry, hurt or depressed, yet can bounce back into life and add a bit of laughter and enthusiasm to other lives as well as their own."Fresh Bread - Joyce Rupp

Keep the Faith, and have a great week!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Looking for Catherine

When I first saw her picture that summer of 2000, I admit I was not the tiniest bit interested. There was no sense of recognition, no feeling of familial kinship, just mild amusement at my mother’s latest passion, and maybe a sense of gratitude that I had not inherited the looks of the woman in the picture. I confess, now, to being a little embarrassed by my own shallow arrogance.

Still, there must have been something in that picture that reached out to me, because like a bag of forbidden Halloween candy, I kept stealing back to take a peek, picking up pieces of information here and there, studying them intently, looking for clues, trying to discover who Catherine Good Lynch really was. I discovered that she had married George Washington Lynch in Seneca County, Ohio on December 17, 1852. I learned that the family had moved to Crawford County, Illinois in 1874, before moving to what was then Greer County, Texas. (A boundary change later would put the county in Oklahoma.) Catherine and George had run a general store in Mangum, Oklahoma. She was the mother of four children, her second eldest, a son, was my great grandfather. I learned that she had died of typhoid fever in November of 1900, and was buried at Riverside Cemetery in Mangum. But knowing these few details was not enough. I wondered, who were her parents? Did she have siblings? Through the census, I discovered three Catherine Goods in Seneca County. None was the correct age, but they were close enough to make me take a second look. Eventually I settled on Catherine Good, the daughter of Joseph Good. I narrowed it to this Catherine because of the family’s close proximity to the Lynch family farm. When I had finally discovered Catherine living in Crawford County, Illinois in 1880, I found that both of her parents had birthplaces in Virginia, and only Joseph’s daughter, Catherine fit the bill. But how was I to prove it? Joseph had not made out a will, but he did have an estate. It was my first look at probate records, and while the clerks in Seneca County were helpful, there was nothing in the microfilmed papers to suggest a relationship between Joseph and Catherine. I began to collect names of other Goods who might be siblings, then reading the obituaries of these “maybe siblings” to see what I could find. I came up empty handed. Finally, one night as I drifted off to sleep, I thought, “What happened to the land?” For Joseph, who was a farmer, had farmed the land right up until his death in 1873. The probate record, mentioned nothing about land. By chance, I had made an Internet connection with a woman who did title searches in Seneca County. I posed the question to her in an email. She wrote back asking me for details of the land Joseph had owned. She told me she would take a look. Finally, one day, she wrote me that she had found the land, and noticed that there was a court case attached to it. This made her curious, and she said that she would see what she could find. A few days later, she called to tell me she had the case file, but in looking at a list of the heirs, Catherine was not mentioned. I was crushed. I had been so sure that Joseph Good was Catherine’s father. About 20 minutes later, she called back and said she had found “something.” She would not say what, but asked if I could meet her at her house later in the week. Without a moment’s hesitation, I said, “Sure.” On arriving at her home a few days later, she handed me a sheet of paper. On the top it read, “Statement and testimony of Susannah Miller.” It began as follows: “My name is Susannah Miller. I am one of the defendants herein and oldest daughter of Joseph Good, deceased. I was present when my father and my brother in law, Willis Morse, came to my house in Cass County, Michigan where I now live in September 1871 and heard my father give directions to said Morse in writing into a book he had for that purpose, the amounts he (my father) had paid on advancement to his children respectively and in number the amounts and items, and some of which I know to have been advanced viz: “ Susannah’s deposition went on to list her siblings, the children of Joseph, and the amount of money he had advanced to each child. The fifth name on the list, made my heart race. “To my sister Catherine Lynch $50.00.” Catherine had not been listed as an heir, having sold her share of the estate to a nephew-in-law, Dennis Blue before moving west. Dennis, anxious to get his share of the estate, which had been sold at a sheriff’s sale, was getting set to close the deal when Susannah and two other siblings, brought suit to halt the proceedings, thus the reason for Susannah’s deposition. It had taken three years of tracking down leads, and in the end, my happy dance resulted from a generous, knowledgeable friend, a court case, and a $50 debt. It was as simple and as complicated as that. Until Next Time – Happy Ancestral Digging!

Written for the 65th Carnival of Genealogy - The Happy Dance. The Joy of Genealogy