Sunday, May 30, 2010

The Changing Roles of Women in My Family

This entry was completed in part as a submission for the 94th Edition of The Carnival of Genealogy.

I love the women in my life, both present and in the past. They are courageous, admirable, beautiful, and determined. I am in awe at the events that have occurred and yet they still trod on, always at the front of the line to be the mother, the daughter, the wife, the sister, the employee, and all the million of other roles that women play both today and in the past.

As I have researched these amazing women I become more enthralled by their experiences and yet they have continued to push on as we have today. Women have no choice. They do not have they the option to "check out" of life when there were children to raise, farms to tend, and the politics of the day when these decisions meant that their famililies were going to cross the ocean or travel down the river on a flatboat or through the wilderness in a wagon due to those political or religious decisions of others.

One of the sayings that is often said in my household is "the more things change the more things stay the same." I believe that applies to my female ancestors as well. The more that I learn about them I find myself realizing that their challenges were our challenges, their sorrows, ours, their triumphs, the same as mine.

In our family I was the first one to graduate from college as we know it today. But would I have had the courage to board a ship from Germany as a widow and cross the ocean with 4 young children when I did not know the language? Despite 4 years of foreign language in high school, I still would not consider myself fluent in any way, shape, or form, yet my 3rd great-grandmother, Caroline Jung, did just that in the early 1800s.

Evansville High School (courtesy of Willard Library)
My grandmother, Jettie Weaver, was trained to be a teacher through a cooperative program between what was called Evansville High School at the time and Evansville College. She graduated after her specialized training to be a teacher and went on to teach the 6th grade in Evansville, Indiana. She taught for one year. I learned recently that she did not continue because she was smaller than the boys in her class and knew that there was no way that she could keep them under control. (Sounds very familiar to the challenges of teachers today, and my own past profession when my kids were twice my size and even if I were "shaking in my boots" I refused to let them think anything except that I was in total control. She gave up teaching and went to work in a bank in town where she remained until she got married and had a household and a family to take care of. When I read her letters and she describes her days even when she was a grandmother living with her daughter, I am amazed at all the activities she completed in a typical day. She was a well educated, well read, and an independent employed woman in the 1920s.

Another female ancestor was left to take care of 3 young, lively boys in a rented room while her husband went to work for the railroad company in Tennessee. One room! There have been days when I just prayed for the joy of watching my own television in my own room as relaxation, but this was 1 mother with 3 preschoolers in 1 room with no television, Wii, DVDs, or ipods to keep them occupied. I have to laugh out loud. My mother tells me the story of one relative that I will leave nameless here who had a 5 legged kitchen table. She used to tie each of her kids to one of the legs so that she could get any housework done.

Women Welders for the LST's Shipyards (Courtesy of Willard Library)
           One event which definitely played a role in the lives of women in the United States and elsewhere was World War II. Evansville, Indiana became one of the central areas for weaponry as it became the largest inland producer of the LST (Tank Landing Ships), assembled the P-47 Thunderbolt and tanks that were tested at the local fairgrounds, as well as other complanies that were employed to produce a number of parts for these larger service related pieces of equipment. At one point, more than 19,000 men and women worked around the clock at the Evansville Shipyard building the LSTs.
Several members of my family worked there, including 2 of my favorite aunts and a favorite uncle. In fact, a favorite family story involves my Uncle Jim. he was leaving for the Navy, but on his last shift as an electrician at the  Shipyards as he passed another relative in the family he handed them his tools for them to use.

As we all know, World War II changed the roles of women in our country forever. While many went home and back to the job of running their homes and doing so very effeciently, the needs from both the depression and the war left other households in need of the income. I know in my mother's case the struggles due to the sacrifices that families at home made for the men on the front during war time, my grandmother took in boarders during the war since Evansville needed so may workers for the plants, and my mother went to work downtown for extra income. When the war ended she continued to work, even after marriage as did many of her firends until the babies came and they needed to stay at home to take care of them. Later, once the babies were older, many of these same women went back to work on a part-time basis both out of necessity but also because they enjoyed the work.

I think it is somewhat easier to research the woemn of more recent generations since records name them more readily, but as I learn more of our history not only in the United States but beyond, I see where some areas are the same in their care for those dear to them, the importance of friendship and faith, but also know that there are other privileges that have come with time, including the right to vote, to manage our own money, and to marry when and whom we choose (at least in some cultures). Progress may have come slowly but steady does win the race, after all!!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Organizing My World- Part I

I have given much thought recently to the amount of research I am wanting to complete, the ancestors I am wanting to either find or rule out in some brick wall situations, and the plans I want to develop as my family plans for a major trip through Maryland, Washington DC, Virginia, and North Carolina which are all areas in which ancestors and records are just waiting for me to come and find them.

My currrent organization system consists of  binders between 1 and 2 inches for each family and file folders where items are placed by surname until correctly filed in the binder. I do not place items in my binders until they have been properly cited. These binders, all black Avery at the store, are then colored with either yellow computer paper or blue paper in the sleeves so that I can quickly distinguish my maternal side from my paternal side when they are sitting on the bookshelf.

Each binder is labeld in large black letters on the outside front and outside back as well as the side so that I can easily see it from any angle when I am working  in multiple locations in my home. For example, one binder reads "Lemuel Tucker and Martha Ann Cozart." When the family binder is open, I have it divided into sections so that it reads more as a biographical folder. The sections in order are: Contents/Family Group, Personal Chronology, Vital Records, Census, Military/School, Land/Judicial, Everyday Life, Maps, Research Log Notes/Source Summary Sheets, Other, and then each of the other children that are not my direct descendants.

I really like my binders. I like that I can contain each family unit together, which helps me in my thinking and in keeping my mind organized. When it comes to my direct line, I have taken the advice I received from the book "Organizing Your Family History Search: Efficient & Effective Ways to Gather and Protect Your Genealogical Research" by Sharon DeBartolo Carmack (Betterway Books, 1999). In it Sharon discusses a few different ways to organize your research and I took some from here, and there, and over get the idea. But one point she made that I have well remembered is that information about your ancestors that occurred before they married should be kept with their parents, which is what I am doing. Once a direct ancestor marries another of my director ancestors, for example, when my great-grandparents Conrad Eckardt and Julia Schnacke married, records created once they married is in their joint family binder.

Of course there are exceptions to any rule. I have a personal chronology or timeline completed for each of them in the early sections of the binder, but I include ALL their life events, not just events once they got married. Although I have both a Xeroxed copy of the actual census page from Ancestry or another database and a typed transaction so all info is readable, I also have a summary sheet that lists information from all censuses. Family group sheets are in each binder and that of course includes information from not only their entire life, but generations above and below as well. 

This is becoming a rather long blog entry. I will continue this over the next few days as I explain my system. Hopefully I will give ideas to others, and encourage others to give ideas back in return.

Next entry: Futher discussion of my family binders, forms used, and some photos to use for further explanation

Third entry: My research notebooks that I take to repositories

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Railroading: A Way of Life

Indiana is often called the "Crossroads of America". Given that, it seems only appropriate that so many men in my family served for the railroad on both sides of my line.

L & N Railroad Company (courtesy of Willard Library)
One of my father's favorite stories to tell is the day he left from the train depot in Evansville to go to the front during World War II. As the train left the station it needed to slow a little further down the street, where his father, a crossing watchman was working. My father came to the window and addressed his father who was not known for open emotion. My grandfather saluted him in response before the train gained speed and headed west. What a moment that must have been.

Dad at spot of his father's stand
Last year, our family learned that the spot where my grandfather's stand stood for years was being demolished due to new interchanges on a Highway through the city. I contacted our mayor's office who in turn contacted the railroad and the demolition company and we gained permission to take one of the metal poles that the stand had been built upon as a momento both of that special day but also because of the tie it held for my father to his father, who had died many years ago. Mr. Tucker had the opportunity for a promotion that meant the family would move to Mascoutah, Illinois, but due to the pleas of his children who did not want to move, he turned down the promotion.

My father grew up at what he calls the L & NY in Evansville, a series of section houses actually placed between the tracks at the railroad company. According to the 1930 United States Federal Census for Pigeon Township, Vanderburgh County, Indiana conducted on April 15 there were 18 households living between those railroad tracks with a total of 68 men, women, and children. I can only imagine how those section houses must have rocked every time a train came through.

Israel McDaniel as Watchman

My father's grandfather, John Rankin Tucker, once worked as a section worker near his home in Maunie, Illinois My father's maternal great-grandfather, Israel McDaniel, worked for the railroad in both Maunie, White County, Illinois and later in Evansville, Indiana. A cousin speaks of coming over on the train to visit Israel. His favorite activity was to put a record on his player for their listening pleasure. Israel and his wife Clyde Bell McDonald still had two sons living at home while he worked in Evansville- Roy and Harry. He would leave a list of tasks for them to do in Maunie and as he left the depot in Maunie Israel would immediately be calling down the street for his sons about these same tasks if they were not completed.

(Note: This photo is well damaged and needs some TLC to be upgraded, but I had to inlcude it in this entry)

All of those who have read the entries of the journal by my maternal great-grandfather, John James Raley, may not know that most of that was written while he was away from his family working at one his positions for the railroad. John becamed trained in telegraphy as a young man at a drugstore in Ohio County, Kentucky after attempting farming. At one point John also ran a "hotal and bar room" in Ohio County, but he always returned to the railroad.   The train companies he worked for included The Southern Express Compnay, the CO & SW Railroad Company, the Ohio Valley Railroad Company, and the Newport News & Mississippi Railroad Company. In the course of his job he and/or his family moved more than 20 times throughout Kentucky, Tennessee, and Southern Indiana. At one time John moved his wife, Caroline, and their 3 young sons they had at the time into a rented room in Warrick County, Indiana while he went to work in Rilpey, Tennessee. How she was able to do that I do not know! Later, one of their sons followed his father into the same career.                   

The railroad has played an important role in the lives of my ancestors, both professionally but also in the ways that their families lived. Many memories are still shared around the dinner table at special events about these days. I am grateful for the ties that bind us all, just as the trains themselves bind us throughout the country, especially in its hey dey.

This entry was written in conjunction with The Blogger's Almanac available through

Monday, May 10, 2010

Amanuensis Monday- Raley Journal

I missed some time with this due to health issues, but wanted to come back to it. I decided to just share one story today that my great-grandfather, John James RALEY decided to include about a relative instead of more of the ancestry overall. I love the stories. I have to admit that with the recent discussions regarding copyright within our blogging community I have had to give some thought to this journal and the implications. I do know that he wrote this so that he had a history of his family, and I know that he gave it to my grandmother, but I would have to trust that people can distinguish the facts which can easily be verified through documentation (as I have for my own sourcing) from his own writings, which need to be creditied to him, so with that in mind, I would ask someone to contact me if they need further information. With that out of the way, here is an interesting story:

" Uncle Benjamin Pierce way back in the years from 1850 to 1865 was right wealthy. It was said that he was easily worth $30,000 back in those days but he died a pauper and was buried by the good people of Boonville, Warrick County, Indiana. Uncle Ben bought and paid for his coffin several years before he died and took it home and kept it under his bed in his bedroom, and sometimes in the fall of the year he would gather and hull walnuts enough to fill the coffin and take them home and put them in it. He was buried in it when he died at the age of 89 years. He bought the coffin from the people that own the coffin factory on the corner of Main and Michigan Streets, Evansville, Indiana, got in it, laid down, stretched himself out, and told the man that he bought it from that the thing was just the right size for him."

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy Mother's Day!!

I celebrate my mother today as we all do in our own ways, both those still with us and those with us in our hearts.

My mother, which is what I call her most of the time beyond my understanding, is my strongest advocate and my genealogy buddy. It is with her that I share all the discoveries and the brickwalls. When I search in one record she is often across the table or at another microfilm reader searching another. The rest of the family is very interested in the answers we find and the discoveries and help where they can, but circumstances prevent them from being as involved as they would like.

One of my mother's favorite things that she likes to say is that she is the mother of three, the grandmother of three, and the great-grandmother of three.

I think that really says it all. Happy Mother's Day, Mom!

Saturday Night Fun- My Maternal Line

It has been a bit since I have been able to post due to illness, so I am happy to return with this as my entry, especially with Mother's Day on us.

Randy Seaver of Geneamusings fame has a weekly Saturday Night mission that he gives us, and this week it was stated as follows:  1) List your Matrilineal Line - your mother, her mother etc. back to the first identifiable mother. Note: this line is how your mitochondrial DNA was passed to you!

2) Tell us if you have had your mitochondrial DNA tested, and if so, which Haplogroup you are in.

Here is my maternal line:

1.   Me
3.   My mother
7.   My maternal grandmother

15. Caroline Susan (or Susannah) MARTIN  was born 12 January 1857 in Newburgh, Warrick County, Indiana. She died on 29 June 1930 in Evansville, Vanderburgh, Indiana. She married John James RALEY on 8 October 1879 in the parlor of her parents, Warrick County, Indiana. She was the mother of 5 sons and my grandmother.

31. Susanah Jung or Young was born about 1835 in Hesse, Darmstadt, Germany. She died about 1864 in Warrick County, Indiana of typhoid fever.

63. Caroline Jung or Young (we do not know her maiden name) was born about 1810 in Hesse, Darmstadt, Germany. She died in Warrick County, Indiana. Caroline immigrated with 4 children at about 1850.

We have discussed doing the mitochondrial DNA testing several times recently, but have not yet conducted this. However, we did just get the results of my father's paternal line with plans to complete the other part of the testing soon.

Look forward to posting more often soon.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Goals For May

May is a big month in my house as my little darling graduates from high school. After spending most of the past two weeks being very under the weather and most of today wandering the internet (although it has been very fruitful), I have decided to follow the lead of my fellow Hoosier Tina Lyons who in her blog Gen Wish List , makes a monthly list of goals publicly. 

I have a huge trip coming up in July that combines pleasure with some fantastic opportunities to explore the ancestral lands and records of my ancestors so I had better get cracking now. So goals for the month of May include:
1) Completing the mini binders on my maternal side for both my mother and I
2) Finish sourcing my surname binders and ensuring all relative materials/documents are filed appropriately
3) Plan research trip to Kentucky Historical Society this month
4) Conduct interview/meeting with a cousin on maternal side of family

Let's hope that at the end of the month I can report that these goals were achieved and maybe even a few more.

Thanks for the idea, and the push, Tina!