Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Carnival of Genealogy- 2010- Brick Walls, Paper Piles, Proof, & Expansion

This is my first participation in a Carnival event, and I am really excited!! 

Well, as any genealogist knows, there seems to be an endless supply of goals to achieve and my resolution list for 2010 could could fill a binder all by itself! I have spent some time over the past few days giving some thought to what I wanted to achieve next year out of that ever growing binder and came up with some overall goals that I hope will encourage you to stay dedicated as well. I call these categories Brick Walls, Paper Piles, Proof, and Expansion.

My Brick Walls

     I have a few ancestors who have chosen to remain anonymous up to this point, and I believe that in good conscious  it is my responsibility to bring them out from the shadows into the light so that they can be kindly recognized by their descendants. Some of their names are known at this time, including Lemuel TUCKER, Enoch MCDANIEL, and Fridolina EASTLEIGH, but others are merely a blank spot on my pedigree sheet waiting to be filled in and celebrated with the happy dance.
      So, I plan to use this blog as one of the places where I discuss these missing characters, hoping for guidance and a little prayer that some bricks will be thrown off to the side.

Paper Piles

     Many areas come into this category, but the most obvious has to do with the "paper piles" I have neatly sitting on my desk, near my bed, and by the washing machine.They all are there with a purpose, yet a regular reminder to me that I cannot consider all documents fully sourced in my computer program, or checklists fully noted until all papers have been filed in the right family binder, sourced, and listed on the checklist I have for each person. A consistent goal this year will be to maintain papers filed where needed, sources noted appropriately, and my list regularly updated of what records are needed for each ancestor. I do believe in "cluster genealogy", so those checklists are more engulfing, but how can I best utilize my time at the repositories and on the computer if those paper piles aren't dispensed.

Proof & Expansion

     I decided to put these two categories together just to keep things interesting for everyone. Proof really is my short lingo for completing the processes to provide application proof for the Daughters of the American Revolution, to get the records that serve as proof of relationships from courthouses, repositories, and the National Archives, etc.. All of these will help with my brick walls as well. 

     Another area is the continuation of my contact with cousins I've discovered through my genealogy pursuits as well as being very determined to contact any living relative that may be able to share just one tiny little piece of light about our family. This is the critical endeavor at the moment. During the last few months I have lost 2 people who could have shared so much, in part because I did not even know who they were, but now that is changing as contacts with distant relatives are beginning and plans for meeting are being set.

     The last part of my goals for 2010 is what I call Expansion, short lingo for expanding my knowledge base for all the many facets of genealogy, whether that be learning more about how to utilize my blog for growth, participating in the next ProGen study group that starts in February, reaching out to others to ask for help when I don't understand certain boundary laws for a state, or attending more conferences, finding ways to give back, and learn some time management skills so that I can finally catch up with all my readings.

Well,  there is a lot to achieve in 2010. if I am able to complete those steps I will have achieved much indeed. That doesn't even include my desire to start writing about part of the family or .........., but being ambitious is probably better than not listing anything at all. Besides, now that it will be on my blog for all to see, I have more invested. So, let's see how this goes.

Good luck to all of you and Have a Very Happy New Year as we Celerate a New Decade!!!


Wordless Wednesday- Romance in the Air

Jettie Weaver RALEY & Herman Carl ECKHART
They are my maternal grandparents and look so in love- what else is there to say?

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Tombstone Tuesday

Walter L          Cora E.
1870- 1923          1880- 1970

Buried in Big Prairie, White County, IL

Cora Estel is my great-great aunt on my paternal side. Her parents are Rhoda Jane DARLING and John MCDONALD. Little is known about her father John, (my 3rd great-grandfather except that he married Rhoda Jane in Gibson County, IL in 1874 and that they later lived in White County, Illinois, where many of their children were raised. He is one of my brick walls.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Advent Calendar- How Do We Spend Christmas Eve

In many ways, I love Christmas Eve more than Christmas Day itself. Christmas Eve is full of the anticipation of the day, whether from the eyes of the child who is eagerly awaiting the final hours until Santa will arrive with those most wished-for items, or as the adult who finally takes a few moments under the tree to ponder the blessings of the season.

My immediate family often gets together on Christmas Eve to celebrate the Italian ancestry of my brother-in-law with an Italian meal and some stories and laughter. Although we usually go to a Christmas Eve Service, in recent years we have participated in the service at Mt. Zion. This is the church of my German ancestors, many who could not speak English when they moved into Southern Indiana. So many of the church records are written in German as well. In recognizing that heritage, part of the Chritsmas Eve service is also in German and I cannot help but imagine them in those very pews singing those songs years ago.

So much of the holiday season has drawn me closer to my ancestors this year and I am grateful. I believe particpating in this Advent Calendar has been a trasure leading the way. I hope I can use it as a stepping stone in the new year to delve further into the lives of my ancestors.

In the next few days I will be deciding on my goals for year 2010, but before that my family is going to enjoy one fun morning tomorrow when we read "Twas the Night Before Christmas", throw all the paper into the middle of the floor so we can have a big Christmas paper fight after the gifts are opened, and sit down to the annual meal of barbequed ribs, garlic bread, devlied eggs, and all the fixings before watching rented movies over dessert.

I wish all of you a very blessed Christmas day!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Advent Calendar- Salute to Our Ancestors

In the last several days, amidst the shopping excursions, refinig the lists, the efforts to clean up the house well enough for Santa to find his cookies and milk, and after enjoying a bit of what I called a "Wandering Weekend" (it's my own theme in which I sometimes take a couple of days to simply enjoy genealogy on the internet with no goals in mind), I have found myself thinking often of those great souls who have come before us.

I am lucky because I still have both of my parents with me, and although I do not pepper them with questions all the time related to their immediate relatives, I can't help but see them within their actions. For example, I know enough of the work hard but also love full personality of my paternal grandfather to see many of hus traits in my father, just as I see so many of the actions of my maternal grandmother in my mother.

When my mother and I went the other day to purchase Springerles, a cherished German cookie my grandmother made every year and I know she learned to make from her mother, I couldn't help but to stand there and think of those women years ago standing in a kitchen rolling out that dough--- and I felt connected.

Sometimes I find myself getting too caught up in learning the next birthdate or finding that elusive source that meshes one generation into another and as a result look at my ancestors as a name on a piece of paper.

But more recently I have found myself thinking of them as men and women, with dreams and desires, joy and tragedy, imagining their horses and carts on the same roads we travel to get to the mall today. We as genealogists are that strange breed that looks forward to going to the cemetery in hopes of finding another piece of our heritage. This Christmas I find myself instead carrying them around throughout all the daily events, imagining them doing the same activities within their era and I am fascinated and blessed in the journey.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Advent Calendar- Springerles

Since today is a grab bag topic, and I did not get the opportunity to write on the day about Christmas cookies, I had to use this opportunity to discuss one of the mosr beloved and precious memories and traditions that existed in my family for years- the one of the Springerles.

My grandmother, Jettie Raley, died when I was 8, and lived with us until we lost her. She was an amazing woman, very creative and much like her father, John James Raley, believing in the benefits of scrapbooks, family history, the written record,  family, and tradition. One of my basic memories came over the years at Christmas.

She would get out this special, strange to me at the time, rolling pin and would mix this and mix that (they didn't really follow their recipes back then) and lay out these fancy cookies. I did not understand as a child why they did not go into the oven, but was fascinated with all the tables throughout the kitchen and lower floor of our home as she let them sit overnight. How I still miss her making those every year!

I was blessed a few years ago when my mother gave me that precious rolling pin! I keep asking for her the handwritten recipe book so I can take the recipe out and get them framed together, but no luck so far. I do not make these cookies. Somehow they are too deep into my heart for that, but I always make sure to purchase some every year and lay them out with Grandma's rolling pin. It's like having her here for Christmas every year. I think Grandma would approve.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Thank you all!

I am overwhelmed and humbled! You all have been very kind to me and I really appreciate it. I have received several nice and fun comments welcoming me to this blogging world, as well as some that have provided insight and reminded me what makes genealogists so special!

I have corrected my blog problems with the assistance of Thomas, know that I am not the only one with ornaments like these they hold dear, and received a note from the one who inspired me to to start a blog in the first place.

I am lucky to be in the vicinty of Willard Library, located in Evansville, Indiana, known famously for its "Grey Lady Ghost" who brings visitors from around the nation every October. Lyn Martin is in charge of the genealogy department and with a good crew of librarians has developed a large collection on the 2nd floor. Every June they hold "Midnight Madness" for 5 days and literally keep the library open until midnight! The days are filled with sessions covering all aspects of genealogy and I learn much every year.

This year I attended a session held by Brenda Jerome Joyce, CG, on Creating Your Own Blog. I attended in curiosity, but became more interested as she demonstrated with her own blog and others. You know her through her blog, Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog, listed on the Geneabloggers blog roll. So, here we are, and I am glad I started.

Again, I thank you, and I wish you a blessed holiday season.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Advent Calendar- Other Traditions- A Story a Little Late

I love this Advent Calendar, and I love breaking the rules!! Not by yards, just by inches. That was my way in school, with my career as a clinical social worker when I needed to find a way to battle a favorite judge and win or a system that did not always go the way it needed for a family, and I tend to go that way now as a blogger, genealogist, parent, family member, and any other titile I can think of.

As always, I am a little late or a little early (could be if you look at it as preparing for next year). Anyway, my maternal side seems to be getting the majority of the attention in my advent calendar, so I decided to speak, or write of a tradition in our family that began with my family before I was even born I believe. You see, he didn't grow up in a family full of decorations and presents to the ceiling as we live these days. He, as many born in the 1920's grew up in the Great Depression. I tend to divide those families in my lines as the haves and the have nots, and he definitely fell into the latter.

My father reads the book, "Twas The Night Before Christmas", not the night BEFORE Christmas, but ON Christmas morning!!! He gets out this red velvet dressing jacket that belonged in Dean Martin's closet, puts it on, marches out the front door no matter what the weather, and with a pipe in his mouth he brings out once a month since he doesn't smoke, paces outside the house until all the children have arrived for the day.

As soon as the presents are laid around the tree, hugs are exchanged, and glasses of my mother's home made spiced tea are passed to all, we gather around my father as he starts the story so famous to us all. Everyone joins in unison, laughs when we miss, camera bulbs flash, and the children around him have changed through the years from his own to grandchildren, and now great-grandchildren, but it is a moment we all treasure. No one questions that we read this after Santa has come or that we have already listened to the radio announements throughout the night as Santa crosses the world, but it is a moment as dear as any first Christmas could be witnessed- a moment to treasure the man who treasures his family above all.

Now, next year I'll tell you about the barb-b-que ribs & garlic bread  & the spaghetti and meatballs.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Advent Calenday Grab Bag, or known for me - Catch Up Time!

I have missed being able to enter information about 2 of the previous Advent Calendars, so I thought I would start tonight by writing about Christmas Ornaments. 

As a little girl, one of the most exciting days of the year (and in honesty still is), was the day we got to climb up into the attic and pull out that glorious artificial tree! I was abuzz throughout the house, running from my parents to my grandmother who lived with us during my early years, to my older brother and sister, waiting very impatiently for them to get it OUT OF THE BOX!!!!  For pete's sake, what was everyone waiting for! Didn't they know that Christmas couldn't start until the tree was up and out?

Eventually, it was up and we loaded it up with those big lights from the early 60's and 70's, screwing them out of the base in order to put reflectors behind them. As much as I loved all the events around getting the tree and lights up, there were 3 very special ornaments I treasured and fought everyone else in order to have the honor of placing on the tree.

They belonged to my grandmother, Jettie Weaver Raley, and were made of wood with multiple layers of paint on them. Each depicted a very simple scene, but I always made sure they had a place of honor on the tree and easily seen when someone was sitting down and meditated on the tree. A few years ago I was honored and thrilled by my mother when she gave them to me, and I gingerly and softly open them and place them on our family tree each year, again, only in a place of honor that can easily seen- and away from litttle critters that could cause them harm. They are simple, not elaborate at all, but they belonegd to my grandmother and there is nothing more special to a genealogist than to receive one of those rare gifts that once touched the hands of someone we loved, who found the item to be special to them in turn. The circle continues and I am grateful. They are pictured below:

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

My Great Grandfather's Journal

It has been a few weeks since I have qouted any entries from John James Raley's journal, so I decided it was time for a new entry. I am doing these in order through his book he wrote, and with grammar in place.

"My grandfather John Raley was born in 1806 in Bell County Kentucky came to Ohio County Kentucky when 11 years of age with his parents he was married three times his first marriage was to Nancy Wilson who had four brothers James, Thomas, Robert, and Henry Wilson. I do not know where the Wilsons came from nor of what decent they were. Robert Wilson and my Grand Father John Raley swapted sisters Robert Wilson marrying Nancy Raley and John Raley marrying Nancy Wilson who was my Father Jonathan Raley's Mother. Grand Father John Raley had five children born to him by his first marriage my Father Jonathan Raley who was born on November the 19th 1833 his brother James Wesley Raley, his sisters Julian, Pollyann, and Nancy Jane Raley."

"Aunt Pollyann married a man whos name was Vanburan Day. They at one time when I was a small boy were doing well Uncle Van as we called him was a farmer in Grayson County, Kentucky near what is known now as Goughs Crossing on the I C Railroad running from Louisville Kentucky via Paducah to Memphis Tennessee. Uncle Van and Aunt Polly raised quite a family one sone named Presley is now a Rail Road Engineer out west one daughter Martha married a man named Scott Likins they are living in Grayson County Kentucky. Mr. Likins is a Farmer and a stock trader and is quite well fixed financially. I have forgotten the names of Uncle Van's and Aunt Polly Ann's oher children Aunt Polly Ann died when her children were all small Uncle Van soon got married again but never seemed to get along very well with his second wife. '

"Uncle Wesley Raley married Lucy Rice when he was quite young they had several children born to them named as follows John, William, James, George, Robert, Thomas Francis, and Barbara aunt Lucy died in 1880 Uncle James Wesley got married again to his cousin Media Autry they have several grown children now but I do not know their names. Uncle Wesley lives on a farm of 150 acres of land Grand Father John Raley gave him when he was first married to his first wife Lucy Rice he has never moved or lived any where else and is now 73 years of age (in 1911 when this is written) and is growing very feeble he has several of his children living near him on farms and I suppose look after his needs "

This is the end of the entry for today, but I will try to post these more often. I find myself snickering at times as i see what he had to say as well as amazed and renewed once again in my desire for furthering my own family history.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Advent Calendar- Santa Claus

Does Santa exist? Can we see the snow before it falls to the ground in the darkness, or the wind as it blows across our face in the warmth of the sunlight? No, nor can we explain the deep outpouring of consideration of warmth among ourselves as the carols play softly in the background or as we hear the never ending clang of the red bell as we leave all those big stores in the rush of shopping.

Santa exists in my family much as he does for Virgina. My mother speaks of him coming to her home to deliver her gift on Christmas Eve just as he came to mine personally every Christmas Eve with a special gift inside his bag just for me. I was always amazed that Santa had enough time to come to see me personally.

Yes, there were times when I questioned his existence, but I was always afraid that if I doubted Santa, then all the magic of Christmas was over. What a miserable world we would live in then to my way of thinking. Now, as a parent I have been blessed with the continuation of Santa all over again, and even though he has changed in circumstances over the time of our lives, he still lives, and I find no statue or picture more endearing to me in all the hustle than that of a child's action of placing out a plate of cookies-- with some vegetables for the reindeer on Christmas Eve, no matter what the age.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Outdoor Decorations in Our Family

As I was shucking through the pictures I had loaded in this computer, I was hoping I had one particular picture that represented outdoor decorations as I was growing up in my family.

It was 2 large candles that stood on each side of our door. This began when I was a very little girl and m grandmother was still alive and living with us. As the years went by they were joined by a very large, happy, jolly Santa. We of course put lights across the eave of the house and into the bushes, and we loved it when our neighbors decorated as well, but those 2 yellow and red candles just said it all to me, beaconing us all home into a place of love andlaughter at the holidays. As the years went by it became harder to keep the candles together- the parts separated and we used electrical tape to keep the flame attached and the plastic began to melt away, but I don't think my father nor I wanted to see the end of those candles.

Alas, all good things must come to an end and 2 years ago after I took several pictures, Dad finally had to throw them away.

Today my daughter was at my parents home getting out the lights and tomorrow we will put them up at their house and mine- in the snow and freezing weather- but new decorations and new traditions will begin.

In the meantime, we will continue to drive around town to see other special decorations at our favorite homes and at our local park who uses the money to help children with needs.

Blog Problems

I have been blessed with my first followers and I am so excited. Its fun to think that someone is willing to take a moment of their time to read what I have written, and for that I am very grateful and I appreciate it. Now, the irony is that I now know that there is a problem with the way I set up my RSS feed. I thought I did it right, read all the directions to the letter, did it a step at a time, yet somehow my feed is connected to someone else.

Luckily, there are some great experienced bloggers and technicians out in this world who can help me, and I intend to take them up on their offer since I have no idea how to fix this. So, the lesson for today is: never hesitate to ask for help when you need it. We genealogists know how much we can expand our trees with cooperation, yet sometimes forget that asking for help with the mechanics fits the bill as well.