Sunday, November 27, 2011

Gone but not Forgotten

This is my favorite picture of my grandmother
and my daughter. Three years ago today she passed at the age of 92.

In this photograph she is well
into her eighties and still an incredibly active
and dynamic woman. It was this day that my beautiful daughter with the innocence of childhood looked up at her great grandmother and said "I didn't know an old woman could be SO pretty." Kids, you can't censor what comes out of their mouths. There were times when my grandmother considered being called old an insult, and she tried her hardest
not to act old. But on this occasion she seemed to
enjoy the sentiment. We enjoyed her company tremendously and think of her particularly today.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

CSI Civil War Style

Long before there were televisions and crime scene investigators, the US government was engaged in such investigations. I am fascinated by the civil war pension file of my husband's ancestor, Jacob Stuck. His pension
file reads like an episode of CSI as the investigator post-humously attempted to recreate Jacob Stuck's love life and death.

Jacob Stuck was married three times, never divorced. He lived in central Pennsylvania
primarily with the exception of an intriguing trip out West. He served in the Civil War for the Union in D Company 74th Pennsylvania Infantry. He survived the war, applied for an invalid pension, and died in 1894. The pension file investigates who is his rightful widow: wife #2 Sarah Miller, mother of two of his children, who subsequently married John Foust, or wife #3 Sophia Wagner with whom he had eleven children.

His third wife with whom he had eleven children was his most prolific genetic legacy. It is for these Stuck descendants and for my husband's line that I finally digitize this pension file. Attached is the first half of the summary of the legal investigator's conclusions on this interesting case.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Victorian Verna

I love photography, and particularly old photographs. This Victorian styled photograph was taken about 1910 in Roanoke, Virginia of my great grandmother, Verna Andrews Kohl.

Verna's mother died when she was just 13 years old and she moved to Roanoke from Amherst, Virginia to live with her aunt, Anna Laura Magann Hogan. She worked in a clothing retail store where she would meet her husband.

I love the puffed sleeves, the Victorian heart necklace, the chatelaine on her left shoulder and her divine hairstyle of the period. She looks sort of wistful but is very attractively posed on a bench of the period.

She would live the rest of her life (excepting her elder, more infirm years) in Roanoke, Virginia. A truly gentle woman who was a loving mother, grandmother, and great grandmother.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Road Trips- 52 Weeks of Personal History and Genealogy

Week #36 – Road Trips

Week 36: Road Trips. Describe a family road trip from your childhood. Where did you go and why? Who was in the car? How did you pass the time?
Oh, the memories of the station wagon with the fake wood trim down the side. An iconic vehicle packed full of all of our essentials for the next month or two. Being an Army brat, we moved frequently and one packed up whatever one would need until the moving truck would arrive at our next destination.
Once all the belongings were crammed into the car it was time to shoe horn the children into the vehicle. Of course this was in the days before air conditioned vehicles, so the tighter the car got packed the hotter the vehicle became. The miles went by slowly, needless to say ,moving from the East Coast to the state of Kansas. Two 12 hour days of closeness designed to test the most even of tempers.
Being a one car family, as most families were in those days, there was no wiggle room. Parents in the front, three kids in the back with suitcases in the floor wells. All right, now for the coup de grace, cram the 100 pound Labrador Retriever in ON TOP of the kids and away we went! Of course the dog would scramble across the outstretched bare legs of the kids wearing shorts-- to see out one window, and then back across all those legs to look out the other window. (A dog always is convinced the other window has the best view.) Oh, the life of a military family on the move in the 1970s!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Free Genealogy Resources

This week I had great success with two free resources, public libraries and facebook. Once you identify where a family member died, you can contact that local public library. Some of them have genealogy departments or reference librarians that will pull an old obituary for you free of charge. It worked for me! You have to love your tax paying dollars and hard working local librarians working so hard for you, it is heartwarming, isn't it? And it is as easy to do as sending an email to that particular library. I have had a librarian find a source for me that identified my great great grandfather's murderer after I spent years looking through records unsuccessfully. Librarians are wonderful resource people

Secondly, facebook. This social networking media is not as easy to use at was once for genealogy. Now that they don''t list where a person is from it is harder to determine if some person is the said person you are looking to contact. Scrolling through their list of friends for other family surnames and maiden names can help you to determine if this is the contact for whom you are looking. When "friend requesting" that person be sure to identify yourself and your purpose for contacting them if they will not recognize your own surname.

Monday, July 18, 2011

John George Hess, Revolutionary War Patriot

On the 4th of July 2011, I finally found the lead that I needed to learn more about my Revolutionary War Ancestor, John Hess. I had previously combed the DAR records and Lebanon Historical Society records without success. I knew my ancestor was a dyer who was a patriot buried in Lebanon, Pennsylvania.

An old application from the 1950s had a "John George Hess" buried in Lebanon, PA. I was familiar with the Daughters of the American Revolution but not the companion organization for men. How sexist of me!

Since that time I have learned more of his birth (orphaned within 2 weeks of his birth), his service (several stints starting as a replacement for others) and his family, life and death.

What a wonderful celebration of Independence Day weekend 2011! Thank you, John George Hess and to all your fellow comrades in arms for helping to establish this fine country we are so blessed in which to live.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Life is Short

A couple of weeks ago I hit genealogical paydirt. I had been corresponding with some McKenzie family cousins and someone gave me an address of a fellow in his seventies who remembered my great grandparents well. He and I shared several emails, although he apologized for the brevity of the correspondence since he wasn't feeling well. He shared an address of another cousin with me who sent me some wonderful old family photographs.

I went to thank the old fellow and his email address bounced back as inactive. I googled him and discovered he had died just weeks after he had shared with me. He was emailing and sharing family history information just weeks before in spite of feeling poorly. If I had waited longer to contact him I never would have received the address of the caretaker of the family photographs. Life is short, the longer you procrastinate on the old fashioned chores, such as writing an old fashioned letter, (which prompted this initial exchange) the more chance you take that the link you are seeking will have passed, quite literally.