Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday- John James Raley

This is the tombstone of my great-grandfather, John James Raley, author of my treasured family journal. Born In Ohio County, Kentucky, worked all his life for the railroad, and finally settled in Evansville, Vanderburgh County, Indiana. He is buried in Oak Hill Cemetery.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Renovations & a Few Sentimental Moments

Obviously, if you are visiting the blog then you are seeing the major renovations that I have made to the design today. Since rain is keeping me from traveling to my research spots today I knew this was my opportunity. It's still a work in progress. I have things I want to add, such as separate pages about me at the top, and the places my family has traversed, as well as adding other items on the side, but I think it looks cleaner, and easier to read.

I also really liked the barn design. Since I am a native Hoosier, and an intense basketball fan (go Butler!! I attended there once long ago), among my other sporting lives (racing, softball, football----the list could go on)-- I felt the design suited a good old Hoosier girl just fine.

It also reminds me just a bit of my grandfather, Herman Eckardt. He died when I was 5, but I have a few vivid memories of going to his dry cleaners to see him. I can still hear and feel the sounds of the wood creaking under my feet as I dashed behind the counter, ran into the back room where all the dry cleaning equipment was, and danced among the freshly cleaned clothes.

However, it is not the dry cleaning business that attaches itself to this blog. My grandfather, who had spent his life as a ice cream salesman, a liquor store owner, and cleaning clothes, decided in the last years of his life that he finally wanted to fulfill his life long dream and decided to buy a farm. Even now when I think about this I silently smile at this tall suave man who purchased special cows that never belonged on a regular Southern Indiana farm and thought somehow that he and his rag tag family members (being my mother, father, and two older siblings) could take care of all the chores on a farm by coming out each Sunday to help. But try he did, and they all still have stories to tell about life on that farm that I will never remember since I was too young.

These stories included someone (can't identify who or this will be my post) falling into what seemed to be a frozen lake, but were saved when an aunt who had never even stepped into a pond in her life came running out of the farmhouse full speed ahead and took flight as she dove straight into and saved that dear life. The stories of one family member on each side of the tractor as they went down the row of corn to pick it? Boy can you tell I was too young to work on the farm.

Several years ago we learned that Grandpa's farm land had been purchased by a church and the buildings on it, long overgrown or turning in on themselves, were going to be razed. Our family took two different trips out to the farm, video camera and cameras in tow in order to learn all I could about the history of this hallowed ground and the man I never had the chance to know. We each took bricks from the chimney of farmhouse, a chimney my grandfather had built onto the house. And we all also pulled off sides from that barn. I keep two pieces behind the door in my house, waiting for that moment of inspiration that will tell me exactly how to best honor the man with those pieces of that barn, part of his dream.

So it seems only fitting that in redesigning this blog there happened to be template that in playing around turned into the side of a barn--red paint and all! I couldn't ask for anymore.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

The Women In My Life & My Questions

I have been giving the women in my life much thought this month since it has been Women's History Month, and feel very honored to be a descendent of every one of them. Each had their strengths and their moments of sorrow, their triumphs and their stories that they would rather not be passed on to their children's children, yet each shared passions and laughter, and joys and reflections that I only can guess at years later.

I wish I had the opportunity to sit down with each and every one of them to bask in their beauty and to ask a million questions about their lives.

I would ask my grandmother Flora Maude McDaniel about all the children she lost at such young ages and how she was ever able to survive those losses. I would ask her about the baby who died in her arms as she proudly snuggled him in his blankets in the wagon on the way to visit relatives, only to find that he was gone to the angels by the time they had arrived to show him off. Or how do you ever possibly survive the grief of watching your youngest daughter die after burns survived from parching corn. One moment is joyful, the next is tragic. And yet, I have photos of her full of life and laughter. I could learn from her.

I would ask my grandmother Jettie Weaver Raley to share with me all of the wisdom she gathered in her quest to learn about our family history. She was the first family scrapbooker, my creative mentor, and the cook I wish I could be. I would ask for some tips and pointers, and guidance in all matters spiritual.

I would ask my great-grandmother Julia Schnacke to teach me some German that she so famously saved to speak in front of my mother and the other cousins whenever she did not want them to know what she was saying. I would ask for her recipe to her home-made brew that she and my great-grandfather, Conrad drank every day since it seemed to help them to live a full life. I would ask her about any special stories she could share about our ancestors, my mysterious people.

I would definitely want to meet and talk with my great great grandmother, Caroline Susan Martin, and her mother, Susannah Young/Jung, my namesakes. One born on a farm in Warrick County, Indiana, and the other born in Germany in 1838. There is very little I know about either one of them, except that Caroline was a very good singer, and that she was willing to go against the will of her father to marry the man she loved. Her father eventually gave in and allowed her to be married in the parlor of his home instead of at the farm of her sister, and I really admire that love that persisted through 5 boys and 1 daughter and appeared to be very happy. I would like to know the secrets of that happy marriage, the traits of a firm, determined woman.

I would like to meet the woman I know as Martha Ann Cozart, a woman by name that has always been fascinating. My paternal great great great grandmother. She married a man after he had served in the Civil War, gave birth to 9 children, and lost her husband too soon, with young children still in the house. She remarried, and eventually lived with her oldest daughter in Lockport, New York, due to a debilitating illness that changed her life and the lives of those who cared for her. I would love to sit down with her and ask her about her first husband, one of my great brick walls, a man who just came onto the scene out of outer space. Martha came from quite a family, and I would love to hear all about this infamous Cozart clan, and hear about her viewpoints, and also to hear what she would have to say about her children.

Another woman I would really like to talk to is my  great great grandmother, Deborah Ann Cannan. She died when her son was only 2 months old. He was raised by a good woman that he always called Mom, but he never forgot who his biological mother was. I would like to know how she felt to be such a new mother, to be a new wife, how it felt to be in love, about her parents, and a million other questions.

I would also like to talk to my great great grandmother Fridolina Eastleigh who was raised in Germany in the middle 1800s. She and her husband were so determined that their first son, Richard would not be born in the religious environment of the day that they crossed the border so that he would be born in Switzerland. What an adventure! I would ask: When did you go to Switzerland? Why did you decide to do this? Were there any problems? What was it like? And I would want to know all about the process of crossing the ocean with a small baby, since they had my great grandfather in New York less than 2 years later. So much I would like to ask her.

Just a few of the women in my life, traversing through my veins, and women I admire. There are more to be certain- each with their own stories to tell, and I wish that I had a day to spend with each and every one of them. Women of virtue, of strength, of faith, of determination. What lessons to learn from them, and what lessons to pass on to my daughter, and the women to come.

Spend a day with the women in your life. You might be surprised about what they have to say.

Be Hopeful- And Cross Your Fingers!!!

For those of you who are nice enough to take a moment now and then to read this blog, when it is here, you are well aware of my darn computer problems that have plagued me with more headaches and frustrations than the plagues that affected Egypt.

I know most of the Dell technicians that live in India by first name, and more about the country than I ever considered before. Despite warranties and those great fangled events in which they can take over the computer to fix it- we just haven't been able to get it settled once and for all. On top of everything else, my new desktop purchased at Christmas has felt a bit left out of the attention and recently decided to join in the fray. These days have given me more moments of frustration and many. many times when I have seriously considered throwing the computers out the window. The last conversation with my favorite Dell guys included me telling them that they had better fix this problem NOW or come to my house in person and get them both or I was going to fly to headquarters in person and dump them on the Big Guy's desk in the middle of some conference call and that I wasn't kidding!

Blessedly, there is a man who lives here in town who is nationally known for his computer skills. I have read his column for years. Even better, I recently learned that we are related by marriage and are connected all the way back to the 1600s. Isn't genealogy great!!!!

Well. crying on the phone helped and he took my poor laptop, and discovered some issues with the hard drive, which neededto be replaced. We of course had kept everything backed up on a regular basis, and did again before he replaced the drive this past week. I have had the computer back now for several days and have kicked the tires, slammed the trunck open and closed a few times, and driven it all around Evansville and beyond and to this point we are very happy in my house.

So I think I can now rejoin the world of bloggers, and access my client work safely, complete my Pro-Gen assignments, and even work on photographs with some peace of mind.

But please keep your fingers crossed for now. I'd like to stay around for awhile.

Til next time (and I now believe there will be a next time),


Thursday, March 18, 2010

Fearless Females- Shining Star

Continuing to follow the series of blogs posted by Lisa Alzo of the "Accidental Genealogist," today she asks if you had a female ancestor who had a special talent.

This one took me some time to think about, because I happen to think that all of our women had special talents, but the first one who came to mind was my maternal grandmother, Jettie Weaver Raley. Her talents continue to amaze me.

She was a terrific cook, and although she had her own cookbook full of recipes she had written down, I believe that much of cooking skills came from her time learning from her mother, Caroline Susan Martin, and the German influences she had all around her. I have written about her Christmas specialties, but my older brother and sister often speak of all the day to day meals that she put together.

The other talents, though are the ones that really touch my life. She was a scrapbooker, and a very good one at that. She was a talented writer, and could transport you with her words. She wrote a spiritual song that was published. I am blessed to own her sewing machine, the one she had "electified" that I know belonged to her mother and even though I cannot sew, just knowing her hands worked so diligently at that desk gives me inspiration. My grandmother crocheted many blankets, painted, and she dreamed of learning the ancestry of her family.

I have often told my daughter that I believe our personalities skip generations. When I look at my family, my daughter is very much like her grandparents in temperment and personality and interests. Mine follow my grandparents, and so forth as I look at several generations in our family.

Without knowing it, through the years, as I have learned more about my grandmother I have to laugh inside as I find my grandmother in my life over and over again. These are the stories that bring our history to life, the ones to give breadth to names on a pedigree chart, and why genealogy is more.... more to all of us.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Fearless Women

I have missed my blog, and I have missed my newly found blogging community!!!  The community and Blogger has drawn me like a flower has drawn in a hummingbird with its nectar, and I already find myself feeling a better sense of calm as I write this. Maybe its the untapped writer within me clammoring to be sprung again, or its the million words that are zipping around in my head along with the voices of my ancestors, but it just feels good to be back on the keyboard and to be looking at all the great recent posts from all of you. Whatever it is, I am glad. Hard to believe that there was a time I thought that blogging was a foreign word and too "out there" for me. However, I have found many other "out there" (big smile) individuals in these past several months and you all have helped immensely. Your ideas have given me insight for further research on my family, your connections have led me to new cousins, and your writing prompts have given me the impetus to stay focused on my ancestry and forwardly (not a word, but it works for me) marching in the process.

Given all that, I think its time to get back to one of newfound loves- blogging, and with that I am going to start mid stream on the series of posts designed by Lisa Alzo of The Accidental Genealogist http://www.theaccidentalgenealogist.com/ titled "Fearless Females."  She has a different post for each day this month in honor of Women's History Month, and for today we are asked to write a six-word memoir for one of our female ancestors.

I chose 2 women in my life:

Jettie Weaver Raley (my maternal grandmother)  Fantastic Cook. Devoted to Family, Church.

Flora Maude McDaniel (my paternal grandmother)  Lively. Hard worker, Harder life.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Karl Martens and The Gold Rush

I have not been on here this week as I turn my attention to homework assignments and reports and research neeeding to be completed for deadlines. But I decided that I could take an hour to turn on the NBC series we have all been whispering about, "Who Do You Think You Are?" and do some scannig at the same time.

I knew that this would be a good day for genealogists. Any time that our favorite obsession is prodcast on millions of televisions and treated with respect is a good day. What I did not expect is to get so entralled into the story. Unlike the series on PBS, this one focused on one person at a time and included them going through the process of accessing records at repositories around the country. While not everyone can afford to just get on a plane and travel from professional genealogist to another, the spirit of the finds and the belief that there are stories to be found is what I believe is the focus and basis here that will inspire so many.

It did the trick for me. You see, I have a great-great-great grandfather was one of those crazy dreamers who traveled to California during the Gold Rush. The story I had always heard as a child was that he had come back to Warrick County Indiana with 5 pieces of gold that were made into rings, yet no one knows whatever became of those rings. as i listened to the story tonight of Sarah jessica Parker's ancestor goiing to California I remembered that my beloved great-grandfather (the author of the journal I prize and the son-in-law of this man) had written something in his journal about this adventure. So I went to find the entry in the journal to see if it would yield any clues.

This is what the entry had to say:
"Myt wife's father, Charles F. Martin, was a German farmer. He came to America from Darmstadt, Hessen Germany sometime during the year 1849. I will say that I have been advised that Darmstadt in Germany is a city and that Hessen is a State there and that for one to say that I am from Darmstadt, Hessen Germany is just the same as to say that I am from Evansville, Indiana. Mr. Martin only had a few pennies when he landed in the city of New York state of New York. He was at that time just a poor, green, young German boy starting out upon the great and turbulant waters upon the bottomless ocean of time trying to make his way through the cold and unfriendly world upon his own resources and I will say that he by being studious, industrious, honest, upright, economical, well-behaved, quiet, sober, and by being everything that it took to be a good, reliable true gentleman in every sense of the word made it all right."

"He soon acquired a sufficient knowledge of the English language to get along all right and to make himself understood wherever he went or to whom he choosed to talk. He secured work in the Gold Mines of California and made money and saved it.... he had two good trades, one was that of Broom making, the other was that of a Cabinet maker, in fact he could use most any kind of tools being very ingeniously inclined by nature and was at home or handy with all kinds of carpenter's tools. "

Karl Martens, also called Charles, came back to Warrick County, Indiana and bought 125 acres of land, built a house, ran a farm, and married Sussannah Young or Jung, also from Darmstadt, Hessen Germany, and raised a large family. He is buried in Rose Hill Cemetery, not far from his home.

A relative years ago had told me there were np records to find in California regarding the Gold Rush because of a fire, and I let that go since there were so many other ways to go in my research. But after watching tonight's episode, I have some hope, and some new ideas on my own research on this fascinating man.

That's why I will continue to watch the show. Inspiration comes from many sources, and I will take evry one of them.

Til next time,
enjoy your own journey