Sunday, August 8, 2010

Sentimental Sunday- Teaching About Roots

I have shared some of the journey of our recent exploration of all things history, and there is more to tell, and today I want to share one of the best visual reminders of the way I was able to show my daughter the connection of our history and ourselves.  

One day we went to Annapolis. The historic area on this very hot mid-July day was absolutely teeming with activity around the harbor. There was hardly a place to park, which is a really fun adventure when you are in
Annapolis Harbor District
the car with a teenager at the wheel who is driving a van in circles and getting very frustrated in the process. (Does your teenagers refuse to listen to the subtle sugggestion that if she would only slow down and pause a moment now and then instead of going in a circle incessantly, we just might get into one of the open spaces before it filled again? After that, I had no intention of going on a harbor cruise).

The view out over the harbor was absolutely gorgeous that day, and I wish we would have had the time to really stay there and explore all that the area had to offer, but we were on our way to Baltimore by dark and I couldn't take enough time for that, but I will remember the view all the days of my life. 

However the view was not the real reason I had insisted that we get off the road and stop here despite pleas from my mother and daughter. (I will tell you why tomorrow--it is definitely a Madness Monday story). They soon understood the method to my madness, or is that the madness to my method?

Kunte Kinte is why we stopped here.

According to the Kunta Kinte Heritage Festival, Kunta Kinte is one of the slaves who arrived at Annapolis aboard The Lord Ligonier ship in 1767, and is the ancestor Alex Haley so completely described in his book, "Roots" that was adapted and later became one of the biggest television events of my lifetime.

Two hours every night for 6 nights, this miniseries gripped my generation and is often credited with an explosion in genealogy. I can remember coming home from school every day and could hardly wait until the show started as my entire family sat around the television and watched. As much as it was the story of Alex Haley, it was more the story of a time in our country that I truly didn't understand at my young age at the time. I would be emotionally drained every night and full of very hard questions for my parents that night, and even more for my teachers the next day.

So here we were at Annapolis to honor Kunta Kinte and all the others who came aboard those ships. I know now in my own genealogy pursuits that I had ancestors who owned slaves and today was the day to share some of that with my daughter, and my mother as we marveled at this point and imagined what it must have been like to arrive here at this harbor aboard those ships more than 200 years ago.

Kunta Kinte- Alex Haley Memorial
In the middle of all the shops and the cars and the horns from the boats coming in and out of the harbor sits this simple, yet moving statue. Alex Haley is reading a book to 3 children of diverse backgrounds. The sign next to them says:
To commemorate the arrival in this harbor of
Kunta Kinte. Immortalized by Alex Haley
in Roots, and all others who came
to these shores in bondage and who by their toil,
character, and ceaseless struggle for freedom
have helped to make these United States.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

When Ancestry Owns The World

I write this with some frustration, ok, with alot of frustration at Ancestry today, and here is why:

Today I get 2 emails from Ancestry, one to inform me that Family Tree Maker 2011  is now available for me to pre-order, and the second was to inform me that  is now the proud parents of another organization, ProGenealogist, Inc.  (I apologize for not including the links about both, but my linking skills must be frustrated as well because I couldn't get my linking to work).

Now I do understand that many of you reading this will find no problem with either event, but it just comes at the wrong time for me. Per the store Family Tree Maker 2011 comes with "more than 100 new enhancemets" including Smart Stories, improvements to their charting and reporting, additions to their timelines, and a way to rate your citation sources. Those all sound great and being a user of the 2010 software I see places where improvements would benefit my research, but it  was the statement that Family Tree Maker 2011 is going to be even more integrated with that hit my gut a little hard.

I cannot imagine how much more they can be connected. I already get the infamous "shaky leaf" on my family members whenever I open FTM 2010 and when I want to look for some records I have the choice between connecting into Ancestry since I have a subscription, and going onto the internet. Now the description tells me that I will be even more connected to Ancestry and other members.

I have  been trying to decide lately whether I want to stay with Family Tree Maker or go to one of the other programs, such as RootsMagic and Legacy, but I just can't decide. I am pleased that FTM is improving their product and I am sure I am going to like most of them if I decide to purchase the software.

I just wish that Ancestry would surprise me and send an email that says something like this:

"Great news!!! You have been a great customer for the past several years, and since we have taken so much of your money, we thought we would send you some upgrades to your Family Tree Maker program.....just because.  By the way, we,, will keep our evergrowing domination of the internet world off your program in the process, allowing you to decide when you need our help."

Now---for the other issue, acquiring ProGenealogists, Inc. For those of you who do not know, Ancestry has a service known as ExpertConnect which allows researchers around the country to provide client work ranging from answering  questions, picking up records at repositories, to very intensive research of multiple generations of the clients family. ExpertConnect has been up and running for over a year and I like the process overall, but now I question what role acquiring this company and the researchers that have worked for them is going to have on those who are providing services on ExpertConnect.

I know that not every single record that exists for my ancestors is connected into Ancestry. There are courthouses, libraries, relatives with photos and Bibles, and friends that can tell all kinds of stories about their relationships with my relatives.

I am just wondering when we can expext the announcement that Ancestry has taken over the Family History Library, or the National Archives.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Treasure Chest Thursday- The Star Spangled Banner

This is not the usual entry for Treasure Thursday, but I think the story below will explain it all.

One of the locations we went to on our trip this recently held a special place in our heart for several reasons, but the most important is due to the patriotism of my father. He loves America, and wears a pin every day of his life that is of the flag. He actually wears two- one is a lapel pin, the other a large button, and I do not know what I would do if I ever saw him without them.

He also holds a great respect for our national anthem, and not only stands with respect, but with hand over his heart, will sing every word when so many around struggle to remember the song or cannot follow the tune for various reasons. I have learned that if I start the song at a lower key I can sing the higher notes at the end. Besides, whose daughter can stand next to their patriotic father and not follow suit?

Given this, when I was researching for this trip and learned that Fort Mchenry was in Baltimore and right in our pathway on this trip, how could I miss putting it on our agenda?

Fort McHenry is actually built in the shape of a star at a point on the edge of the Baltimore Harbor in the Chesapeake Bay several years before it played such a role for Francis Scott Key.

Francis Scott Key was a lawyer and was in the Baltimore Harbor aboard a ship while the British were bombarding Fort McHenry in 1814 for over 24 hours. The smoke in the air was so thick that no one witnessing the battle had any idea who had actually won the battle for hours until dawn came and the flag of this newly developed country was flying over the fort. This inspired Francis Scott key to write what would become our National Anthem.

After watching a slide presentation that explained in further detail the story, the anthem began to play as curtains opened at the vistor center, showing the flag flying over the fort. It was an emotional moment for us, both in knowing what that battle meant to America, but more what as I thought of my father, the man who wears the flag proudly every day of his life.

Sometimes the treasure is in our hearts. This day it was for all of us.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Shame on Me!!! (But What Else Would We Expect)

I don't know what made me go back and look, and I almost wish I had not now...........

I missed my own One Year Anniversary.. (bummer).

I actually started this blog with a very perky welcome to the world on July 1, 2009. July 1st-- i didn't even miss it by a few days, but more than a month. I will blame the darn health problems this spring and summer that were miserable, but next summer I am putting on a bright pointy hat, blowing up some balloons, and singing til the face in the moon starts to crack under the strain.

For now, thank you to all of you over this year who have stopped by to take a look, leave a comment, encourage me, or give me help with the technological side of blogging. I have more to learn from you, so don't go anywhere---I would be lost without you crazy people!!


Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday- Arlington Cemetery

This is not my ususal Tombstone Tuesday entry, and you will quickly see that in the photographs attached. One of the places we went while we were on our quest to "see history" was Washington, DC, and who that loves genealogy can stay away from the most decorated cemetery in the United States that honors our soldiers. Bringing it even more to the heart of my daughter was the realization that she had a relative buried there.

It didn't matter on this trip how close to her the relative was, I just wanted to bring the reality of the events from her history books into her personal space and make them touch her heart in new ways that would help her to hold onto the memories as the years went on, and this was one of those special stops. Of course, as it was most of the time we were gone, the temperature was at least 96 degrees that day, but it did nothing to dampen her enthusiasm as we entered Arlington.

In case you did not know this, if you have a family member buried there, you can go to a special desk inside the visitor's center to get the directions to their location, get a pass to put in your windshield, and are allowed to drive into the cemetery inside of walking. This even allowed us to park just feet from many of the famous stops inside Arlington as we went along in search of my mother's relative, who proved to be a bit elusive. The map we received did not match the eventual location, but the zeal of my daughter in finding him and his wife (didn't know spouses could be buried in Arlington until this)  quickly made up for the errors in the map.

While she went charging down the road from the Kennedy's in her mission to find them, I happened to find the location of Admiral William (Bill) Halsey, who was the commander of the Pacific Fleet during World War II when my father was serving in the Navy.

    George Clint Martin
    Indiana  Lieutenant
    US  Navy   Worl War I & II
    October 14 1885
    July 30 1970 

His Wife  Edith Agnes                                              
August 11 1885
June 28 1962


 William Frederick Halsey
 Fleet Admiral Unites States Navy
  1882- 1959
  His wife
  Frances Grandy Halsey
  1887- 1968

No Words

Sunday, August 1, 2010

New Family is Always a Blessing!

I was the surprise in our family, a baby that came when my siblings were in the end of middle school and early high school. My father was also the youngest son of 11 children in his family, and as a result in timing and circumstances, many of the members of my family were gone either before I was born or when I was very young. As a result I had very little or no memory of any of my grandparents. When I would ask questions about any of them and was met with the answer of "I don't know," my intrigue and my frustration would increase. I believe that is what led me into genealogy. Well- that and my intense curiosity and love of detective work coupled with the success of snooping around long enough in our home until I found some old family photos that amazed me.

Since there was such an age difference, it was more like being a single child, or else my brother would wish on his part, considering the ways I came up with to do my best to disrupt his dates that I was either forced or invited on, I never knew which. Either way, I never grew up with a gaggle of family around me, so these days are extra blessings for me.

Today I met a new cousin of mine. By new cousin, she is technically my second cousin on my father's side of the family. She found me one day because of this blog when she entered the name of our Great-Grandfather, Israel McDaniel into a search engine and my blog came up. I was so surprised to hear that was how she found me, but also so thrilled. atoday we met for breakfast at the local Cracker Barrel. She happened to be in town for a family reunion on the other side of the family.

We could have sat there for hours, and I wished we had the time to do so. After exchanging emails for the past few months, this morning felt like a homecoming. Funny how that happens! We have already discussed meeting again, and I am looking forward to meeting the rest of the family.

I met another cousin about a month ago on my mother's side. She had found me while doing some research on the Raley line on Ancestry and my tree came up, beginning a year of emails back and forth as we worked to find some answers for her and to connect the dots. She lives out west and came to Evansville on a research jaunt with her sister on the way to Kentucky for further research on the family. We met at Willard Library and enjoyed the time together, as we looked for information that helped to break through some walls in her line. My health prevented us from spending more time together, but even a few hours was a treasure.

Just late last night I was writing this Raley cousin an email about our recent trip and checking in on her. After I emailed it I opened my messages only to find that she had been doing the very same in turn, and had just sent me an email about her research trip in Kentucky and included a series of photos of the church and the church cemetery that I am dreaming of touring soon.

To believe that as a little girl I was the one who lined up all my dolls on the couch with long back stories about all of them to now where I have family from Florida to Arizona to Texas and points beyond. Isn't genealogy great!!!