Tag Archives: Story Writing

“Hot Topic” Genealogy

HottopicsIt is always amazing to see how much society has changed in the last few hundred years. What is the “norm” for today was taboo a century ago and what was accepted 200 years ago seems unimaginable today. Throughout history there has always been a “Hot Topic” in each generation. Topics such as the Suffrage Movement, Religious Freedoms, Slavery, Prohibition, Wars etc. Today we are hard pressed to find out how our ancestors felt about these issues or if any of them actively supported or opposed them. Unless our ancestor was “famous” for their stand we may never know.

We can make assumptions on some of their beliefs by how they lived. Take for instance civil war battlesthe Civil War. If your ancestor fought for the North, you can assume they were anti-slavery and if they fought for the South they were pro-slavery. Also if they owned slaves you can assume that they believed in it and if they didn’t they were opposed. Some of the “topics” were not so obvious.

If we are lucky we can find membership information, letters, affiliations or other documents that can provide a glimpse into our ancestors’ stance on the issues of their day. However, most of us will never find these gems. We are left wondering if they had any opinion at all. This brings us to our own time in the genealogical timeline.  We have so many “Hot Topics” today that in a hundred years our future generations will wonder where we stood and why.

New scans15I am of the belief that I want to leave as much information for our future generations as possible. Not only about our ancestral line but also of the times in which we live. I have started writing about some of my beliefs, my stands on social issues and any participation’s I have had for or against those issues. To be quite honest I have picketed for one issue and I have picketed against another. I have participated in rallies and marches. I have appeared on local and National television, radio programs, been a Conference Speaker and featured in magazines and newspapers as an expert on one issue. I want my Great Grand-kids to know their Great Grandma held strong opinions on certain subjects and she wasn’t afraid to let others know how she felt. I am trying to be fair and explain both sides of the issues and express why I chose the side I did.

 

What “Hot Topics” do you have an opinion or belief on? Have you gotten involved fighting for or against that Topic? Think about leaving your experiences behind for those coming after you.

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, crafter, reader, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: http://tinyurl.com/Your-Family-History and http://tinyurl.com/Genealogy-Research-Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

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Filed under Ancestry, Civil War, Family History, Family Search, Famous, Genealogy, Hints, History, Hot Topic, How-to, Memories, Next Generation, Personal Stories, Story telling, Uncategorized, Write Your Story

What’s In A Name?

Whats in a nameHave you ever wondered why a parent would name their child a certain name? I do all the time. However I am guilty of giving my children “different” names myself and I am asked why all the time. Researching my family’s history, I have discovered that I am not alone in this. I have a first cousin 5x removed born in 1803 North Carolina who was named Wiseman Fisherman Loving. I have tried to no avail to figure out why he was named this. Were his parents hoping that he would grow up to be a wise man and a great fisherman? Was his father drunk the day he was born and just spouted out the name? We may never know.

PeregrineWhiteRock

My 9th Great Grandfather born in England in 1616 was named Resolved White. He came to America aboard the Mayflower with his Father William and pregnant Mother Susanna in    1620. I can only assume he was named this because his father was “Resolved” to make it to the New World. His younger brother was the first child born from those on the Mayflower and he was born on board the ship in Plymouth Harbor. His parents named him “Peregrine”!                                                           Do you suppose the first thing his mother saw after giving birth was a Peregrine Falcon?

William Brewster hsMy other Mayflower Ancestor, my 10th Great Grandfather William Brewster was also born in England in 1567 and traveled aboard the Mayflower with his wife Judith and 6 of his 9 children. My 9th Great Grandfather was named Jonathan, a very common name. However, the last 4 children born were named Love, Patience, Fear and Wrestling! William Brewster was a Protestant who along with others of his faith had to flee to Holland to escape persecution from the King of England. Perhaps he named his children after the struggles he was having before coming to America. He must have experienced Love, Fear, Patience and Wrestling while making the important decision to come to the New World.

There are some names I just can’t figure out. Like my Great Grandmother Asenath Walt born 1863 in Missouri. Was hers a family name? I haven’t found any evidence of that. Was it a popular name during that time? Who knows?  My 4th Great Grandfather Axel Heath Page was born 1785 in Virginia. Was he named for a wheel Axel?

As for my own children at least I can give an explanation for their names.   My oldest son is

Dad at 18

Douglas Age 18

named John Pleasant after my Grandfather. Pleasant was my Great Grandfathers name so we called him “Pleasant” until he reached 18 years old and he decided to go by his initials. John Pleasant Smith was the only Grandparent I ever met so I named him in honor of this wonderful man. My youngest son is named Starr Douglas. My beloved father Douglas died when I was 19 years old so I wanted to name him after my dad. I also wanted his name to be unusual like his brothers. I couldn’t think of anything. When I was about 8 months pregnant I was watching TV and a Senator came on whose first name was Starr. I thought “Starr Douglas” …it fits! He is proud of his name and has lots of fun telling people “Yeah my Mom was a hippy” My daughter’s name is Jerusha Jane. The tradition in my family is my middle name is Jane, my mother’s name is Jane and the name goes back to a great-great Grandmother named Jane. Knowing my entire life that I was expected to name any girl I had by this name I thought of every possible combination of names and nothing sounded right to me. When I was 12 years old I went to see the movie “Hawaii” where Julie Andrews played a missionary’s wife and her name was Jerusha. Jerusha Jane I loved it. I had that named picked out for 10 years before I got to use it.

I love unusual names and finding a treasure trove of them among my Ancestors has been so much fun. How about you? Do you have unique names in your tree? Do you know why they were named that? Feel free to share those names and why they were named that with me! I would love to hear them.

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, crafter, reader, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: http://tinyurl.com/Your-Family-History and http://tinyurl.com/Genealogy-Research-Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

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Filed under Ancestry, Family History, Genealogy, History, Mayflower, Names, Personal Stories, Pleasant Smith, Write Your Story

The Ghosts of Christmas Past

Christmas morning

I am often envious of those who have wonderful Christmas memories from their childhood. I was raised in a dysfunctional home where my Mother had a serious mental illness and my mean older sister was allowed to rule. I do have some good memories although they are mixed in with some very bad ones. Our family did have some Christmas traditions that I continued to carry on into the lives of my own children. These are the things I like to remember.

We moved to Tucson Arizona just before my first Christmas. Living in a Aluminum Treedesert area you learn to adapt some regular traditions to what is available.  Live Christmas trees, although available, were almost impossible to keep alive until Christmas morning. The air was too dry and it was still warm in December so after the first year my Dad went out and bought an aluminum Color WheelChristmas tree. Yes, I said aluminum!  It came with a color wheel which you aimed at the tree and when it was on it would cast the colors of green, red, yellow and blue onto the tree. The tree would then illuminate the room in the various colors.

Me at 5 years old

Me at 5 years old

My Mother found the Indian culture of the area fascinating and she especially loved the turquoise jewelry that was made here. When it came time to paint the outside of our home it was white with a turquoise trim. So, she brought those colors into our Christmas decorations. The aluminum tree was decked with turquoise colored ornaments and garland. We had white tinsel on the tree. Even the lighted star at the top of the tree was turquoise. One year she made a large wreath to hang in our oversized front windows. It was an old hula hoop wrapped in white garland. She inserted a string of lights inside the hoop and covered each bulb with a silver aluminum pan that came from the pot pies we ate. Of course, the lights were a turquoise color. My Dad would string white and blue lights along the edge of our flat roof and drape some inside the huge Century plant in the front yard.

me & dadInside the house, we would remove all the pictures hanging on the walls and wrap them like presents, complete with bows. The large Nativity scene was placed atop the Television and candles were placed everywhere.

Every year we would make sugar cookies and decorate them with M&M’s. We would then wrap them in saran wrap and hang them from the tree. Guests could remove one and eat it when they came to visit and on Christmas Eve my sister and I got to have one along with hot chocolate. We were also allowed to open one present on Christmas Eve; of course, it was one that was specifically wrapped for that purpose!

I remember the last Christmas that we spent in Arizona when I was almost Saguaro Cactus12 years old. I got a new bicycle and a one-piece swimsuit. I put on the suit and jumped on my bike and rode around for hours. When we moved to Missouri a few months later some of the kids in my class were asking me questions about AZ.  When I told them I was excited to actually have snow for the Holidays they asked about  Christmas in Tucson. When I told them about the swimsuit and bike experience they called me a liar. They couldn’t fathom how it could possibly be 79 degrees on Christmas morning!

Passing along the traditions that we had while growing up is important to the cohesiveness of the generations. It connects us to the past and helps us to share our reasons for these traditions. Spend some time thinking about how you celebrated the Holidays and then write them down. Future generations will love them!

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, crafter, reader, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

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Filed under Ancestry, Arizona, Christmas, Family History, Genealogy, Personal Stories, Story telling

Please, Don’t Write My Obituary!

Raymond Eugene "Gene" Smith Obituary 1989

Raymond Eugene “Gene” Smith Obituary 1989

This really seems like an odd request doesn’t it? If one is not written how else will people know when I leave this world? In most newspapers and even online they list the names of those who recently passed away and maybe a line or two telling a persons age and which funeral home will be handling the service. For me, this would be all I would want. Now the question may arise “WHY?”

As I search through the information I have found concerning my Ancestors I have discovered quite a few obituaries. Although most of them speak highly of the dearly departed there usually isn’t much else written about them.  Yes, some list the names of children and grandchildren or possibly an occupation or a club membership but when you think about the person’s life was that all there was?

My Uncle Gene lived for 72 years. In his obituary it sums up his life this way…died in Oak Grove Missouri, born in Napoleon

Uncle Gene and his well trained dog "Tiny".

Uncle Gene and his well trained dog “Tiny”.

Missouri, married, 5 children, 23 grandchildren, 5 great grandchildren, one remaining sibling (my mother) and that he was a retired carpenter. That’s it, just one small paragraph to cover an entire lifetime!  Nowhere does it tell that he used to raise Chinchillas in his basement on the large farm that he owned just outside of Oak Grove MO. He grew many crops very successfully, raised cows, horses and chickens. He was an avid hunter and fisherman. He loved animals and he could train any dog.  He loved to read and tell jokes. He was very artistic, not only with his wood carvings but with painting on canvas. He was a friend to everyone and he was a well thought of man in his town. He was also someone you didn’t want to get mad at you! He developed diabetes and at the age of 68 had to have his right leg amputated just below the knee.  You would never know any of this or any of the other great things he did by looking at his obituary.

So, “Please Don’t Write My Obituary”. Instead, I will write my life story and include all the things I want future generations to know about me. The good, the bad and yes even some of the ugly. So this is my mission, to sit and contemplate all the events in my life and to decide what to include and what to leave out. I will dig through my picture box and find pictures to enhance my stories. I can share some of the hard lessons that I have learned. Most importantly, I will share it all from my heart.

Challenge

Will you join me by beginning your own mission to leave behind more than just an Obituary? If you haven’t started writing your own life story yet, today is a good day to start.

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, crafter, reader, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

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Filed under Ancestry, Family History, Family Search, Genealogy, Missouri, Personal Stories

Writing About The Historical Events That Occurred During Your Lifetime

Mary Lynn Elementary School

Mary Lynn Elementary School

When I was 8 years old we lived in a house that was located on a dirt road just outside the Tucson city limits. We used to get the neighborhood kids together and play kickball in the street. One time when it was my turn at the plate, I kicked the ball and it went to the left and I ran to first base which was to the right. The ball hit a rock and bounced to the right directly under my feet. I fell over the ball and ended up with a large rock embedded in my knee. I had to have several stitches and the Doctor instructed me not to run. At school they made me sit in the office during recess and lunch because I had a hard time not running when I was outside.

I vividly remember the day I was sitting on the couch in the office when the principle, Mrs. Reineke came running into the room. She said something in a whisper to the receptionist who immediately turned pale and began to cry. The office door opened and in came several of the teachers and aides. They wheeled in a television on a large rolling stand and plugged it in. One of the aides pulled the shade down over the window of the door that lead from the hallway into the office. Everyone gathered around the set.

I heard the gasps of the adults as the News Anchorman announced that President John Fitzgerald Kennedy had been shot

President John F. Kennedy

President John F. Kennedy

while riding in a motorcade through the streets of Dallas Texas.  I could hear some of the teachers crying softly, tears rolling down their cheeks. After what seemed like an eternity to me the Anchorman then announced that President Kennedy had died from his wounds at Parkland Memorial Hospital. The room erupted in sobs and outrage. All I could do was cower back as far as I could on the couch and cover my ears. I had never known anyone who had died before so I wasn’t sure what it meant, all I did know was it was a horrible thing that just happened.

Several minutes later the room quieted down and Mrs. Reineke began instructing the teacher on how to tell their pupils about the death of our President. She suddenly stopped mid-sentence and got a surprised look on her face. All the teachers turned to follow her gaze which had fallen upon me. In all the uproar no one had noticed that I was there. She immediately came over and lifted me in her arms. This made me begin to cry, more from confusion than anything else. She sat down and held me on her lap and explained to me what had just happened. Sadness like I had never known fell over me.

JFK Newspaper clippingAfter all the teachers had left Mrs. Reineke asked the receptionist to go and get me an ice cream from the cafeteria. She then told me that none of the other children knew about what happened and that when we all return to our classes the teachers were going to give us the news. She told me not tell anyone. When the bell rang I left the office and went to meet up with my class at the water fountain outside our classroom. Remember, I am an 8 year old girl with a heavy secret. One that was too heavy to keep. After taking a drink from the fountain I turned around and informed the student behind me that the President had been shot and he had died. She was not the only one who heard me and the next thing I knew there were several kids crying. Yes, I did get in trouble from my teacher.

This was a terrible time for our Country. President Kennedy was very well liked and he had done a lot of good while he was in office. On the day of the Presidents funeral the entire school went into the Auditorium and watched it on television. Most of us were too young to realize that we were having a firsthand look at an historic moment.

I will ever forget where I was when Kennedy got shot; do you remember where you were? We experience so many Historical Moments in our lives and this gives us an opportunity to write what we see, feel or believe concerning these events. Spend some time and think of all the changes that have happened in your lifetime, think about some Major event that took place that impacted you in some way. Now write about it. Let’s all leave our own accounts of History for our future generations.

 

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, crafter, reader, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

 

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Filed under Ancestry, Arizona, Family History, Family Search, Genealogy, History, How-to

9 Ways to Discover Your Religious Heritage and Passing Yours on to the Next Generation.

Park Ave Chirstian Church - Drive in Church

Park Ave Christian Church – Drive-in Church

Growing up I went to Church every Sunday morning. My family attended Park Avenue Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Tucson AZ, the one my parents joined shortly after moving to Arizona when I was 11 months old. It wasn’t until I started school that I learned that there were other churches and religions in the world and that there were even some people who didn’t believe in God at all. It was also the time I discovered that our Church was a little unique. We had one of the two Drive-in Churches in the entire United States. In 1956 our pastor made a trip to Florida and saw a Church that had built one the previous year and he decided that he wanted one. So my Dad, along with a couple of other members built the small enclosed red brick building where the pastor would deliver his sermons each Sunday. They installed the poles and speakers and it was “open for business”. My parents loved going to the Drive-in Church because they didn’t have to get dressed up and they could smoke in the car during the service. My sister and I liked it because we could wear our pajamas and read or play in the back seat. I thought this was normal.

Now as an adult I attend a totally different denominational Church. I began to wonder how our family became the religion that we were. What religion or denomination did my Ancestors choose and why? I wondered if any of them had been Atheists. Did any of them flee to America so they could practice their faith, free from persecution?  I wanted to search for this information but I wasn’t certain of where to begin. I started looking through the documents I had acquired for my Ancestors and as a result I was able to piece together a pretty good description of what religions my family had practiced.

Here are 9 of the places and document types where I found my “Religious Heritage”.

 

  1. Church records. This is one of those “duh” moments. Where else would you look? A lot of the older churches kept very precise records. Not of just who attended their church but of many different events. These records can have a person’s date of birth, the date they were baptized, their marriage and death date and place of burial. They also can list family names, their participation in church activities, and a confession of their “sins” and in some cases their testimony as to why they became Christians. If an Ancestor was a minister it would also include a list of the previous churches he had pastored and the places where he had preached. These records can be a treasure trove of information.

 

  1. Wills. You may find which religion a person was by reading through their Will. In some cases an Ancestor will leave a possession, money or land to a church. You can then conclude that this church was associated with their religion. Most Will’s begin with a Statement of Faith and by reading this you could possibly determine what they believed.

 

 

  1. Marriage Records. Listed on the marriage certificate is the name of the person who conducted the ceremony. If it was
    Marriage Record stating name of Church and the Ministers name.

    Marriage Record stating name of Church and the Ministers name.

    a priest or pastor you can do a search of that name to find out which religion they were associated with. In some cases, especially in the 1800’s they even listed the name of the church on the certificate. You can also check your Ancestors childrens marriage certificates as they may have this information on them, especially if you can’t find a marriage certificate for the parents.

 

  1. Death Certificates. In newer Death Certificates there is a place where you can state which religion a person is. This information is given by an informant and may not be correct but it is at least a place to start your search.

 

 

Obituary stating name of Church Rosa attended.

Obituary stating name of Church Rosa attended.

  1. Obituaries. Obituaries are an excellent place to look. Sometimes they even list the name of the church they were a member of or the name of the minister and I have found a few that give a short testimony of when a person decided to attend this church or convert to this religion.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    

65th Wedding Anniversary clipping states Church.

  1. Newspapers. Newspaper clippings celebrating special events in a persons’ life can give you additional information. In an article covering one of my cousins 65th Wedding Anniversary it states the name of the Church they attended. I was able to contact the Church and found records of other Ancestors who also attended this Church

 

 

  1. Cemetery. This one sounds strange but you can sometimes determine religion by their place of burial. A non-Catholic would not be buried in a Catholic Cemetery. The same goes for the Jewish faith. Also a lot of cemeteries are attached to Churches and you can assume that if your Ancestor was buried there then they may have been members. At least it would be a place to start further research.

 

John Page Church Plaque

John Page Church Plaque

  1. Histories. If your Ancestor was a pioneer in an area they could be included in the History of that place. I have found several relatives who were founders of town or counties so a lot is written about them, including which church they attended. You can also find the names of Churches in the area that your Ancestor lived and then do a search of Church Records in those specific Churches for their names. You never know what you may find!

 

 

  1. Family Bibles. If you are lucky enough to have in your possession an old family Bible then it may shed some light on what your Ancestor believed and what religion they were. Hopefully it also includes a list of family members, births, marriages, deaths, baptisms etc. This indeed would be a treasure.

 

This is not an exhaustive list of places to look but it is a start. Unfortunately, unless your Ancestor was famous you may never know why they chose the Religion or beliefs that they held.  It has been interesting to see the progression of my “Religious Heritage” beginning with my Ancestors being Catholic, to becoming Quakers, to converting to Presbyterian, then to Methodists, Baptist and ending with my parents being Disciples of Christ.

This is actually a 2 part endeavor. The first part is finding what religion if any, that your Ancestors practiced. The second part would be passing on your beliefs to the next generations. We have an opportunity to explain to our Great-Great Grandchildren what religion we are and why we chose this certain path. If you do not believe in God, this is the chance you have to let them know your reasoning for that. You can include your traditions, activities, favorite scripture or quote, give a testimony, or whatever you feel is the most important things you would want them to know.

How I wish my Ancestors would have left something in writing explaining to me the how’s and why’s of their choices when it came to religion.  So I will write the story of how I came to believe as I believe so my future family will not have to guess at it.

 

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, crafter, reader, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

 

 

 

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Filed under Ancestry, Arizona, Church, Family History, Family Search, Genealogy, History, How-to, Missouri, Religion