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Saturday, March 31, 2012

Fearless Females: Profile

Pick one female ancestor and write a mini-profile (500 words or less).

My great-grandmother Ila Sanders was born 19 February 1881, in Martin County, Indiana.  Family legend tells that she was being courted by one of John Armstrong's older boys.  Their mother, Catherine Holt, had died in 1897 leaving him to raise eight children on his own.  The boy (either Claude or Robert) brought Ila by the farm to introduce her to the family.  Great-grandpa became smitten with her himself.  Ila and John were married 24 November, 1901.  They had 12 children together, including my Grandmother Maxine.  In 1941 the US Government sized land comprising the township of Trinity Springs, their farm, and several other neighbors farms for the creation of Crane Naval Surface Surface Warfare Center. While they were paid for their lands, being removed for their home was an unpleasant experience.  Ila died in 1949, twenty years after her husband.

On a side note, several family members (on both my father's and mother's side) worked at Crane in various capacities.  As the nearest military instillation, my grandmother would visit the PX, Commissary, and the family graveyard frequently.  Members of the family can be escorted to the graveyard for visits still.

*Image: cindy47452 via photopin cc

Friday, March 30, 2012

A Mayflower Family or Not

There was a sense of awe in me as a child when I thought about the Pilgrims; with their bonnets and starched white collars sharing a meal with the friendly Indians.  Yes, as an adult I know how unrealistic this was, but as a child it was the image of the Pilgrims and their friends that permeated all you saw, and knew, about those historic events.  Imagine my glee when I was told by my Grandmother how our family was related to people who sailed on that ship!  She read to me the poem by HenryWadsworth Longfellow, TheCourtship of Miles Standish,   and seared into my memory the line “speak for thyself John.”  My world was crushed when I learned it was a fictional account.

According to the article Mayflower Descendants by Jim Faber, 25% of Americans think they are descended from the 26 surviving Mayflower passengers.  Best guess is that actually only 35 million people worldwide have a Mayflower ancestor; much less that the 25%, or 70 million who think they do.   The odds looked like they would not be in my favor from the outset, but that is no reason to quit!

One of the first long-lost-cousins I connected with online had grown up with the same story about John and Priscilla, which made me think that there had to be something to the story.  She also had a clue, which family line the connection was to be through!  That was something I could work with.  According to her family source (which I later found out was the same source my grandmother had, Aunt Eliza Jane) the connection was through our 3rd great-grandmother Mary Jane Hayden. 

 Thanks to many different societies, organizations, and published works on the subject many of the lines are well documented and proven.  My task was to connect my line into the ones already proven.  Easier said than done I have to admit.  Almost a year later I think I am pretty sure of my research, but not completely.  I think it will take a trip to New England, or a really good genealogy library, to make me feel 100% confident in my work.  I found this website just a few days ago, and it helped me confirm my line past Mary Jane. 

The working hypothesis for my family line is:
1.       John Alden and Priscilla Mullins
2.       Ruth Alden
3.       Ruth Bass
4.       Priscilla Webb
5.       William Hayden - Revolutionary War Soldier
6.       Noah Hayden
7.       Noah Gilpin Hayden
8.       Mary Jane Hayden
9.       Franklin Willis Combs
10.   Everett Combs
11.   Paul Combs
12.   My Dad
13.   Me

Of course, this little endeavor left me looking  sideways at my Texan husband; the one with deep roots in New England.  He had to have someone in that web of New England genealogy that could trace a possible lineage back to a Mayflower passenger.  My bloodhound instincts have been working on this for well over 6 months.  Finally I had a break through, and I am a little more confident in his line than mine.

The working Hypothesis for his family line is:
1.       Stephen Hopkins
2.       Giles Hopkins
3.       Mary Hopkins
4.       Mary Smith
5.       Mary Hamilton
6.       Elizabeth Mayo
7.       Slathiel Nickerson -Revolutionary War Soldier
8.       Polly Nickerson
9.       James Cunningham
10.   Eliza Cunningham
11.   Charles Greeley
12.   Frances Maude Greely
13.   Elsie Crabb
14.   His Mother
15.   Him

Our families appear to have come over on the same boat!  My oldest child can't wait to get to school on Monday and tell everyone.  Especially the story of dear Stephen Hopkins, a Mayflower Compat signer and a Jamestown Settler.  Thankfully his teachers humor his history obsession and just go with it.

Well, there it is.  Anyone have any ideas, suggestions, or comments for me about how to completely prove this lineage?  I have twiddled with the idea of actually going on and submitting both of us to one of the many lineage societies for the Mayflower, like the General Society of Mayflower Descendants.

*wikimedia commons:   Sculpture of John Alden and Priscilla Mullins: "Why Don't You Speak for Yourself, John?"

*Photograph taken by me at Jamestown archeology site, Jamestown, Virginia.

Fearless Females: Wisdom

Did you receive any advice or words of wisdom from your mother or another female ancestor?

My grandmother's were full of sayings and advice.  Some, not fit to repeat in polite company.  We'll just call it their farm girl charm showing through and leave it at that.

The best piece of advice was given to me by my Grandma Combs when my long time boyfriend (now husband) and I were having some problems.  I went home to her for the weekend from college and spent most of the first night crying my eyes out to her.  She calmly looked at me.

"Does he have close friends?"

"I think so... sure."

"Well they are probably just giving him a hard time about being tied down, it'll pass."

"Oh, I'm not so sure, he was pretty sure we shouldn't be together."

"Yeah, well, boys can be dumb.   Your grandpa did the same thing at one time.  Know what I did?"


"Hit him with a 2x4, that brought him a round."


"Not a real 2x4 Shannon.  You just have to figure out what his 2x4 is, the thing that will bring him out of the stupid.  All men have one and once you figure out what it is, he'll be yours.  Just drag it out from time to time and let him remember you know best."

My husband and I will be married 13 years in August.  I don't think I ever figured out what his "2x4" was, but obviously we worked out the problem.  Sometimes I think about this evening in her bedroom watching old black and white movies, eating chocolate, and drinking her homemade wine.  It always brings a smile to my face when I remember how serious she was telling me about her 2x4.  That night was one of the last times we were able to have an evening like this.  She died a few months later in December 1997.

*Image: simonov via photopin cc

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Week 13 of Abundant Genealogy

Local genealogical and historical societies are the lifeblood of genealogy. Members and volunteers give their time and money to preserve local history and promote family history. Tell us about a local society for which you are thankful.

This is where I hang my head in shame and admit that I do not participate on the local level in any genealogy community.  Unless you count the local chapter of the DAR that I will become a full member of when my paperwork is completed.  I have attended two meetings, and have already become a nuisance.  You know, raising my hand and asking a lot of questions!

I wrote to the Fredericksburg Virgina Regional Genealogy Society (FRGS) about a year ago looking to interact and get more insights into this new hobby I was picking up.  Unfortunately, their meeting night is the same night as another group I belong to, and as an officer person I need to be at the other meetings.  Luckily my term is up this June, so perhaps I can look into it more then.

Beyond that, I am a member of the New England Historic Genealogy Society (NEHGS). I have thought about becoming a member of the Virginia Genealogical Society and the Indiana Genealogical Society.  Chase those roots to the source!

*Image from wikimedia commons:  Silas M. Clark House, 621 Wayne Ave at South Sixth Street, (Borough of) Indiana, Pennsylvania. Built 1869-1870. Home of the Historical and Genealogical Society of Indiana County. Had been known as "History House" and "Memorial Hall".

Fearless Females: Trading Card

Create a free Fold3 (formerly Footnote) Memorial Page or a Genealogy Trading Card at Big Huge Labs for a female ancestor. Some of you may have created your own card back in September 2009 following Sheri Fenley’s post over at The Educated Genealogist. This time, the card is for your ancestor.

This was a very cool thing, and I had never heard of creating a trading card for people.  Must investigate further... thinking playing card game al'a Magic the Gathering, but with ancestors instead.  Oh, my gears are spinning!

Tonight 1940 US Census Panel

If you have Google+ you should head on over there tonight at 8pm Central time for a panel discussion on the release of the upcoming 1940 US Census. 

The panel will include:

Thomas MacEntee (panel leader):
Amy Johnson Crow:
Dan Lynch: Family Tree Brands
Jim Ericson: FamilySearch
Joel Weintraub: One Step
Steve Morese: One Step
Tyler Heaps (moderator): FamilySearch

Read about it more on the 1940 US Census Community Project web page here.  Never fear if you are not on Google+, or can't attend, they will rebroadcast it on the FamilySearch YouTube Channel after the event is over.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Post up over at Family Tree Firsts

My latest post from FTF is up, and as always I hope you enjoy the read!

Finding the information for my immigrant ancestors was an amazing feeling. My father and his family have been looking for so long.  In fact, he didn't know the names of anyone past his grandparents in that lineage which makes every discovery even better.

When my parents were in Germany his mother and her sister sent him a letter with the town and regional name of where one of the families had immigrated from.  However, it was lost in one of the three moves after that and now the information is lost with them as well.  All he could remember was that is was in the Black Forest area. Fingers crossed that I can continue to track them down!

So far I have found, online and with the help of distant long lost cousins, the following information on my family from Germany:

Balthasar Miller and Maria Anna Wertsher immigrated from Bayern
John Miller married Mary Amelia Dishinger in Dubois County, Indiana (both were immigrants and were the children of immigrants)
John Miller married Mary Theresa Nagley in Dubois County, Indiana (the first generation born here)
Agnes Miller married Timothy Brennan in Daviess County, Indiana
Their oldest daughter Ruth is my grandmother.

Mary Theresa Nagley was the daughter of Hubert Negle and Agatha Reichter from Baden.

I will be putting the FAN investigation principle in full swing.  You know: friends, associates, and neighbors.  These people may just be the key to unlocking even more secrets.

Image from the Library of Congress

Feraless Females: Best Friends

Do you remember your mother’s best friend? Your grandmother’s? How and where did they meet? How long were they friends? What activities did they share?

Oh goodness, that is a tough questions.  I know my mother had a very close friend in high school.  They were in all the same extracurricular activities, and as my mother put it "social outcasts."  Meaning they were too smart and therefore not popular or in the boys opinions very pretty.  They lost track of each other by the time my mom went to medical school and moved away from her home town.  Her mom had many friends who where fellow officer's wives, and I know she corresponded with several of them until the day she died.

The most intriguing one is my father's mother, I never recalled her having a very close friend.  Many acquaintances, but no one ever very close to her.  That is until I found an unnamed picture in a shoe box a few years ago.  There she is as a teenager, with another girl, and written on the back is "friends forever" barely visible in pencil.  I wonder who she was.

Fearless Females: Immigration

Do you know the immigration story of one or more female ancestors? Do you have any passenger lists, passports, or other documentation? Interesting family stories?

I only have one immigration story from my family.  It has been passed down through five generations to me.  To prove it, or disprove it, has been a driving force in me taking so many classes on immigration.  Family legend states that Bridget Gerharty and her sister boarded a boat in Ireland bound for America with their husbands.  Halfway to America both men die and are buried at sea.  There is a panic among the women because they have been told they must be married to get off the boat on the other side.  Bridget and her sister find the Brennan brothers and marry them on the ship before they reach America.  The story continues that they were turned away from the ports in New England, Philadelphia, and Baltimore before being allowed to dock in New Orleans.

What a story, and I wish I could even prove a scrap of it!

*Image: Jeffrey K. Edwards via photopin cc

Monday, March 26, 2012

Fearless Females: Education

What education did your mother receive? Your grandmothers? Great-grandmothers? Note any advanced degrees or special achievements.

My mother has several Bachelors degrees, a Masters degree, and her Medical Doctorate.  She also did her fellowship in hand surgery at Johns Hopkins, and is a board certified hand surgeon.  Mom has been recognized for her teaching ability and contributions to  the field of Sports Medicine and Orthopedics in and outside of the military community and in 2008 she was recognized by the School of Health Physical Education and Recreation at Indiana University with the Williard W. Patty Distinguished Alumni Award.

My father's mother earned a teaching degree from Indiana State University.  She was a school teacher for almost 40 years.  First kindergarten, then 7th grade English, and finally High School English/Drama.  She was very active in the AAUW and her local teacher's union.  She ever was the president of the union at the same time my grandfather was on the school board.  I have been told that there were some very lively family dinners during this time period.

*Image: surroundsound5000 via photopin cc

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Fearless Females: Children

Tell how a female ancestor interacted with her children. Was she loving or supportive? A disciplinarian? A bit of both?

The only interactions I know of are the ones between my mom and myself.  My parents have told me about how they were raised, but never in great detail.  I can piece together that my grandmothers were very different.  One was a stay at home mom, one worked.  They were both caring, and loving.  Pushed their children to do the right things, and to never settle.  Each of them felt that their kids could do great things.  Like most parents. 

My mom was mostly absent from my early life.  She was in college from the time I was born to 4 years old, then worked as a high school math teacher for two years.  The next two years she was in grad school, and finishing her pre-med requirements.  Ages 8-12 she was in medical school, then there was a year of internship, a year as a General Medical Officer, then four years of residency.  So, yeah... she wasn't home much.

When my mom was available she did her best.  Most of our interactions focused on academic advancement, athletic training (the discipline and the advancement of my sports) or shopping.  Yes, as a woman she has the shopping gene and at times we took full advantage of this common trait.  Especially after she was out of residency.  My favorite times were when she was stationed in Germany.  A college student and her mother on a shopping spree in Europe... dangerous!

*Image: quinn.anya via photopin cc

Fearless Females: Traits

Do you share any physical resemblance or personality trait with one of your female ancestors? Who? What is it?

Oh this is easy... my mother.  I look like her, and her mother, more than anyone else in the family. Baby pictures get messed up, and my youngest seems to be falling into the trait as well.  Other than that, lets just say I get my over opinionated, stubborn, hard headedness from her.  Actually, I have a double dose of that... but we aren't talking about my dad right now.

This is my parents favorite picture of me.  I was five years old, and was just as much trouble as I looked.  This could be my 5 year old right now, or my mother.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Fearless Females: Timeline

Create a timeline for a female ancestor using your favorite software program or an online timeline generator such as Our Timelines.

I just did this for a handful of my female ancestors and I learned a very important lesson... I need to do more research.  Wow, a listing of dates is really boring!  Shame on me for not filling in more information and not breathing life into these women (and men).  Guess what I am going to be doing in my copious amounts of free time...

*Image: Pixel Fantasy via photopin cc

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Week 12 of Abundant Genealogy

Week 12 - Podcasts make it easy to learn about genealogy on the go. Which podcast is your favorite? Who hosts it and how has that person, pair or group helped your family history research?

The very first podcast I ever listened to was a genealogy podcast.  I was just starting into this obsession, ahem, hobby, and a good friend of mine told me I should check out the Genealogy Gems Podcast by Lisa Louise Cooke.  After I got over the fear of downloading it from iTunes, and figured out how it all worked, I fell in love with it. 

She has such a warm welcoming tone, talked right at my level, and made the hour so much fun!  Very quickly I discovered her other podcasts (Family History Made Easy and Family Tree Magazine) and began listening to them as well.  Heck, she gave me the courage to start this blog, taught me how to do it, and look at what I have done with it.

From there I have branched out into several other shows, each bringing their own flavor to the world of genealogy.  I have to admit, for a busy mom who lives out of her car, this is a great alternative to the radio!  It is compact easy learning while I am out and about.  Yes jotting down a bit of information while you drive is not a good thing, but all I have to do to find it again is rewind or look at show notes.

*Image: Colleen AF Venable via photopin cc

1940s: Greatest Generation

Paul Combs, center arms crossed,
Round House, Washington, Indiana
The Greatest Generation” was a term coined by journalist Tom Brokaw for his book by the same name.  It was fitting to give this name to that generation of people.  They grew up during the depression, came of age in the midst of a savage World War, and advanced this country to a level few thought was possible.  The struggles, triumphs, and defeats they would experience during the 1940’s shaped the world we live in today.

Those that have read my blog from the beginning know that I am extremely proud of my grandparents and their sacrifices during this time period.  I have talked extensively about my Grandfather Arvin, who was a POW, and his wife who worked during the war at a Bendix plant.  I don’t know if I will find him on the 1940 US Census or not.  By 1941 he was already in the Philippians, but I am anxious to see if he had already left or was still working as a filling station attendant in Wayne, Michigan.

My Grandfather Combs did not fight in the war, even though he did volunteer.  He was in an essential industry and worked as a track foreman for the B&O railroad.  The recruiter said they would take him, but he would get the same job, for less pay, and it would be more beneficial for him and his country to stay home.  His wife volunteered around their community and raised their young children.

Sometimes I hear people say we have it hard now, but it really is not any different than what my grandparents faced.  Our fears are generally the same; we just have different labels on them.  How many people do you know are growing gardens?  How many people do you know are collecting coupons and rationing out expensive goods to their house?  How many people do you know have been affected by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan?  How many... 

We could take a page out of that generation’s notebook, and learn a lot about ourselves while we are at it.  How similar do you think we are to that Greatest Generation, and how will our children and grandchild see us?
The 1940 US Census Community Project needs you! Consider volunteering to index and spread the word.  Records will be released in 11 days!

*Image from the Library of Congress: Grow it yourself Plan a farm garden now.

Fearless Females: Casting a Movie

If a famous director wanted to make a movie about one of your female ancestors who would it be? What actress would you cast in the role and why?
This was a hard one, wow, who do I pick?  If I could find out more about my colonial ancestors who moved from the east coast into the wilderness of Indiana I think I would have a screenplay written about them.  They had to be tough, strong, and hardy women to move from New England, Virginia, and the Carolina's into a territory that was not even tamed yet.  A few of them had lived through the Revolution, and all through the War of 1812.  Imagine the stories they could tell!  To portray such strong women, you would need strong actresses... gosh, who would it be?

*Image: I took this on board the Susan Constant Replica Jamestown Settlement, Jamestown, Virginia.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Fearless Females: Brick Walls

Is there a female ancestor who is your brick wall? Why? List possible sources for finding more information.

So far the only brick walls I have are my pesky 19th century Irish and German immigrant ancestors.  Right now I am taking the immigration master class through Family Tree University, taught by Lisa Alzo, in hopes that I will have some good strategies on where and how to search.  It is going to take me years most likely.  I keep telling myself that Rome wasn't built in a day... right?

*Image: jox. via photopin cc

Adventures at the Archives FTF Post is up!

My next Family Tree Firsts post is up, and you can read all about it here.

It was the most incredible experience, and I had the best time.  Yes, I have always found being locked in a room with a stack of dusty papers and books a grand adventure.  Its true, I do.  You should have seen me wandering around Europe looking at museums, castles, and historic sites.  My husband thought he was going to lose me at the V&A once. He did almost lose me in Salzberg, Austria when I was on a quest to find Paracelsus's Tomb.

Now I have gotten off topic again...easy to do.

I have over a thousand images that I am going through.  Yes, a lot of images.  One thing I have been taught about doing research (from my mother, my mother-in-law, my husband,historian friends, and my college mentors) is that you copy everything.  Absolutely everything.  Never leave a page un-copied, and never just copy part of the page.  You never know when you will need information from another section of the document, or that date stamp on the back as proof of when it was created.  All records are important, you just may not know it right then.

In a past post I talked about preparing for my research, and then my experience at the archives.  Over the next few weeks I hope you all enjoy my tales of what I have found.  I have records on the following people to look through:

Anna Combs, widow of Charles Combs (the senior), War of 1812 Pension File
Theresa Arvin, widow of Henry Arvin, War of 1812 Pension File
Henry Arvin Land File
Polly and Nettie Cody, widow and minor of Button Cody, Civil War Pension File
Mary and William Combs, widow and minor of Charles "boy" Combs, Civil War Pension File
Harry Coad aka Henry Thompson Civil War Pension File
Lemuel Kelley, father of Lemuel Kelley, Civil War Pension File
Julia Bartlett, widow of William Bartlett, Civil War Pension File

Wish me good digging!

Fearless Females: Tender Moments

Describe a tender moment one of your female ancestors shared with you or another family member.

My mom started medical school when I was eight years old, which meant I did not really see her again until I was a Senior in High School and she was the Senior Resident.  The few moments when she was able to have down time from school, or the rare vacation, she would try to make the most of the moment by being with dad and me.  That was a struggle, by the way, as I am sure should really would have rather been in bed sleeping. 

Downtime with my mom usually involved school in some way.  I get my persnickety perfectionist tendencies from her.  My favorite moments growing up were when she would work with me on school projects.  The most memorable of all was when I had an assignment to create a pressed plant journal for biology.   We spent an afternoon traipsing through the countryside of El Paso, Texas collecting the best specimens.  She helped me press them using her medical texts (as those were the biggest books in the house), and a few weeks later we spent another afternoon mounting them.  It was the longest amount of time I had spent with my mom in years.  Plus, I got the only 100% in the class, and I still have the album.

*Image: garlandcannon via photopin cc

Monday, March 19, 2012

1940: Feeling Lucky... then I have a contest for you

Can you believe that in a fortnight the 1940 US Census will be released?  I am giddy with the anticipation of being able to see where my family was in 1940, but where they were in 1935 too.  Can you say "two birds, one stone?"  Oh, and this will be the first census that my father will be  in.  Cannot wait to call him on the phone and tell him what I see!

This week at the 1940 US Census Project there is a contest for everyone to participate in to get you excited and ramped up for indexing!  Yes, I said indexing; it is not scary and remember if we all help it will be a boon to the entire genealogy community. 

Here is what you have to do:

1.  Download the FamilySearch Indexing software
2.  Complete a practice simulation to get your feet wet indexing

That is all!  Easy right?  So go out to the blog page to learn all about it.

After you do those two easy steps you will be entered to win a Visa gift card.  One person will be picked at random to win a $100 Visa gift card and two more people will be selected to win $50 Visa gift cards.  How many genealogy gadgets could you buy with that?

So what are you waiting for?  Spread the word!  Get on out there and help!

*As a 1940 US Census Ambassador this post has entered me in a drawing to win an Amazon Kindle Fire.

Image Library of Congress: Telephone and directory. Dubuque, Iowa

Fearless Females: Surprising Fact

Have you discovered a surprising fact about one of your female ancestors? What was it and how did you learn it? How did you feel when you found out?

My great-grandmother Sylvia Freeman Combs was a twin.  Her sister, Hattie, and her were nothing alike.  In fact there was nearly a foot between them!  One had light colored hair, the other dark.  One was mischievous, one was serious.   This always fascinated me as a child, before I figured out that twins didn't have to be identical.  Just the thought that you could be twins and so different sent my head spinning.

Below is a picture of the Freeman (or sometimes seen as Friedman) family.  I am sure you can tell why Hattie was 5'8" by looking at her father!

Back row (standing on bench):  Goldie, Hattie, Sylvia, Pearl
Front row: Alta Eldora (Davison), Stanford, John
Virgil was not home when picture was taken
Taken near French Lick, Indiana about 1905

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Fearless Females: Shining Star

Shining star: Did you have a female ancestor who had a special talent? Artist, singer, actress, athlete, seamstress, or other? Describe.

mom in the back of her
transport, Iraq abt 2003
On both sides of my family there are talented woman artists.  My grandmother excelled at water colors of landscapes as well as experimenting in oil painting.  Several of her landscapes are hanging on the walls of my parents house.  Grandma and I would sit during my summer visits and paint for hours.  She tried desperately to teach me how to make those fantastic landscapes and create still lives.  I was not patient enough to put it mildly.

Then there is my mother, the surgeon, which is an amazing talent to excel at.  She has another skill to, art.  Mom has created amazing pencil and charcoal images over the years.  She is so meticulous and detailed that she even illustrated her own articles that were published in medical journals. 

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Fearless Females: Social Butterfly

Social Butterfly? What social organizations or groups did your mother or grandmother belong to? Sewing circle, church group, fraternal benefit society or lodge? Describe her role in the group.

My family hasn't been big into joing groups.  You should have heard the comments when I stated I was interested in joining the DAR, let alone when I joined Alpha Chi Sigma in college.   Joining groups like the Girl Scouts, volunteer organizations, historical renactment groups, and the like have been a joy for me.

I know there were a few organizations that my female ancestors joined for political or professional reasons, purley because it was expected of them.  My father's mother was a member, and president at one time, of her teachers union.  She was also very active in the AAUW.  My mother's mother was in the Eastern Star and was very active in the officer's wives club while grandfather was in the service.  Mom was in 4-H through high school and as a child the Girl Scouts.  In college she was in the Army ROTC.  As a professional she belongs to neumerous organizations that relate to her postion not only as an Army officer, but as an orthopedic surgeon. 

*Image Library of Congress: Reception tea at the National Womens [i.e., Woman's] Party to Alice Brady, famous film star and one of the organizers of the party

Friday, March 16, 2012

Fearless Females: Lunch with an ancestor

If you could have lunch (or another meal) with any female family member (living or dead) or any famous female who would it be and why? Where would you go? What would you eat?

I think it would have to be my Grandmother Combs and her sisters: Mary Alice, Margaret, and Helen who is the last one living.  Just so I can hear all the stories about the Irish and German families, their childhood, and what they remember of their grandparents.  Knowing their tastes, we would probably eat what I know as farm food.  Beef roast, potatoes or other root veggies, homemade bread, and fruit pies for dessert.  The way I ate as a child; the food that reminds me of my grandmother's kitchen.

*Image: kendiala via photopin cc

Thursday, March 15, 2012

1940s: The decade of education advancements

Great strides were made during WWII and the years following in science and technology.  More importantly this flowed over into the realm of education.  We as a nation understood during this decade that we needed to be educated and give our soldiers and younger citizens chances to succeed.  Below is a timeline that highlights many of the advances that today we take for granted.

1944 –

GI Bill (Servicemen's Readjustment Act) provides educational financial aid for veterans

President Franklin D. Roosevelt writes Vannevar Bush, Director of the Office of Scientific Research and Development, asking how the successful application of scientific knowledge to wartime problems could be carried over into peacetime. (President Roosevelt's Letter)


Founding member of  United Nations Education, Science and Cultural Organization

Vannevar Bush delivers his report, entitled Science - The Endless Frontier, to President Harry S. Truman. His report proposes the establishment of a "National Research Foundation."

Senator Warren Magnuson of Washington introduces a bill to implement Bush's plan, the first of a number of bills offered in response to Bush's suggestions. In later bills, the proposed organization is called the "National Science Foundation," a title first suggested by Senator Harley M. Kilgore of West Virginia.

1946 –

Fulbright Program “the flagship international education program” for international exchange and mutual understanding, is established

The George Barden Act expands vocational education subsidies

1947 --

The National Art Education Association was founded with the merger of the Western, Pacific, Southeastern, and Eastern Region Art Associations, plus the art department of the National Education Association (NEA). The NAEA consists of educators in all fifty states plus the District of Columbia, U.S. Possessions, most Canadian Provinces, U.S. military bases around the world, and twenty-five foreign countries. This organization was founded to promote art education through Professional Development, Service, Advancement of Knowledge, and Leadership. NAEA is a non-profit, educational organization which has the potential to collaborate with federal education agencies and other national professional groups.

Congress passes a bill establishing a National Science Foundation, but President Harry S. Truman vetoes it because it did not give the president authority to name the director of the agency.

1948 –

U.S. Information and Educational Exchange Act (Smith–Mundt Act) prevents the US from disseminating information domestically that has been designed to deliberately influence foreign audiences

The Office of Education reestablished a position of "Specialist in Education for the Fine Arts."

The 1940 US Census Community Project needs you! Consider volunteering to index and spread the word. Records will be released in 18 days!

Timeline of US Federal Cultural Policy Milestones 1787-2006
The History of Art Education Timeline 1940-1949
The National Science Foundation

Images Library of Congress:
Jobs - get the facts about occupations - free classes for young men and women 16 to 25 yrs.--National Youth Administration of Illinois
Get ahead! Adult education classes : For adults at no charge.

Fearless Females: 6 word memoir

Write a six-word memoir tribute to one of your female ancestors.

From The Accidental Genealogist Blog: This exercise is based on the book, "Not Quite What I Was Planning: Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous and Obscure."

Ruth Brennan Combs (paternal grandmother): Teacher, lovable, fast driver, wine maker

Maxine Armstrong Arvin (maternal grandmother): Reader, curly hair, giggler, story teller

*Image: Olivander via photopin cc

Next Post from Family Tree

My latest post from Family Tree Firsts is up.  You can read it here.

Frustration at times is natural in genealogy research.  Or at least that is what I have been told.  There are a handful of my relatives that I know are just messing with me from beyond the grave.  Periodically giving me clues before retreating back in oblivion.  Patience, time, and meticulous notes will be my keys to getting the last laugh!

After re-reading the article I have noticed one error that I made.  In paragraph three where I refer to my maternal grandmother's family, it should be my father's maternal grandmother.  It seems I and my proof reader missed that one.  Shame on us.

*Image Library of Congress: New York - Welcome to the land of freedom - An ocean steamer passing the Statue of Liberty: Scene on the steerage deck

Week 11 of Abundant Genealogy

Week 11 – Technology: Technology makes it possible for genealogy classroom learning to come to you. Webinars are now hosted by many instructors on a variety of family history subjects. Share with us a webinar or series of webinars that you appreciate 

I have only taken a handful of webinars, all from Family Tree University.  Even before I became their Family Tree Firsts blogger I enjoyed their state series of webinars.  Each one taught me something, and I have never been disappointed.  They are easy to use, packed full of information, and presented by members of the genealogy community who are top in their field.

Recently I have begun to view a lot of the online presentations dealing with the 1940 US census.  Everyone is gearing up for the release on April 2nd and I don’t want to be left out.  What an exciting time! 

Don’t forget to check out GeneaWebinars hosted my Dear Myrtle!

*Image: selva via photopin cc

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

1940s: Inventions

I am a stay at home mom and l have an appliance I would die without.  Can you guess what it is?  Give you a hint:  it is a box, it whirs, and it makes stuff into food.  Yep, that would be a microwave oven!  The number one most used appliance in my house, savior of dinner, and king of the leftovers.  Hard to believe that it was invented in 1946 isn’t it.
crosscut image of a magnatron
As with all great scientific invention, the microwave oven was created by accident.  While working on research for radar technology Dr. Percy Spencer noticed that the candy bar in his pocket melted when he stood close to a new vacuum tube  (the magnatron) he was testing.  The curious scientist then decided to see what would happen he placed popcorn next to it.  To his surprise, it popped!  After a bit more experimentation with foods, and the code name “speedy weenie project,” he designed a metal box to hold the tube, and the rest is history. 

Dr. Spencer worked for the Raytheon Company and in 1947 they introduced the first microwave oven called the "Radarange." It was the size of a refrigerator and you could purchase one for about $5,000.  70 years later and we can by tiny ones for less than $100!

The 1940 US Census will be released in less than 20 days!   Check out all the amazing information, webinars, and blog posts at the 1940 US Census Community Project.  Even better, help us all and sign up to become an indexer!

Disclosure: as a member of the 1940 US Census Ambassador Program, this post has entered me into the weekly contest for a $50 Amazon gift card.

*Image: Magnetron cross-cut

Being prepared for research

I had a fantastic time this past weekend; visiting the nation’s capital with my family, doing some research at NARA, and attending the Family Tree University’s Virtual Conference.  Yes, it was packed to the gills with activities and by the time Sunday night rolled around I poured myself into bed.  Tales of my adventures will be coming shortly; I just have to get them all down on paper.  As well as going through the nearly 1,000 images I have of files from the archive.

There is one thing I want to comment on, that actually astounded me, and it still leaves me shaking my head.  Why, oh why, would you walk into the National Archives without doing any preliminary research?  Over the 2 days I was there I saw person after person walk up to the desk in the main room and ask the staff the same type question.  I want to find out about my family, where do I start.  That in itself isn’t a bad question, unless you know nothing about your ancestors or even where to start looking.  A few of them had never even heard of the online databases that the staffers showed them on the computers to get them started.  In fact, I think one gentleman was downright flabbergasted that they just couldn’t produce the information he sought out of thin air.  No, I am not exaggerating.
Before I arrived at NARA I printed out the images for the pension index cards I wanted to look up, as well as taking my iPad with PDF’s of websites and sources from my family tree in case I ran into problems.  I made sure to say please and thank you, because you know kindness and courtesy can go a long way.  It just seems that the older generations were just as eager for instant gratification as those younger than me.  Or I have always been an old woman in a young woman body.

*Image: Jeff Kubina via photopin cc

Fearless Females: Newspapers

Newsmakers? Did you have a female ancestor who made the news? Why? Was she famous or notorious? Did she appear in the social column?

When my mother was in college she walked on the Indiana University Women's Field Hockey team.  Until she got there she had never played field hockey, let alone held a stick.  The year before was the first time in the state of Indiana that girls had sports at the high school level.  She ran cross country, and played basketball and volleyball.  The only sports offered at her school for girls.

My mom worked hard, and while she didn't have the ball handling skills that many of the ladies from the east coast had, she worked hard and became a starter for the team.  She was even a goalie!  Her senior year she was awarded her jacket for athletics, and you can find her name in Assembly Hall at IU as a distinguished female athlete.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Fearless Females: Strength

Moment of Strength: Share a story where a female ancestor showed courage or strength in a difficult situation.

Once again I turn to my grandmothers for this post.  They both died from complications caused by cancer.  Each fought every moment until their bodies failed them, and showed more courage than anyone I have ever seen. 

My Grandma Arvin lived with us for her last two years.  She had breast cancer, which resulted in a double mastectomy.  Nothing could keep her down; she would shuffle around the house with her walker and was just as warm and kind as ever.  In fact, she is most likely the reason I am with my husband.  Looking out for me until the end.

Grandma Combs had a year long struggle with colon cancer.  In her last few months all the cousins would come and visit, which she enjoyed but made her sad.  I was among the closest, and would visit frequently from college.  One weekend I was there and my cousin John visited with his family.  After left he left she cried to me.  Telling me how brave they all are coming to visit her, and how blessed she was to have wonderful grandchildren. 

So many blogs, so little time

I have fallen in love.  Completely, and totally, head over heels, with Google Reader.  Why did it take me so LONG to find this thing and use it.  Oh I know… I am afraid of change and sometimes technology scares me.  This is why I married a tech savvy man with a CS degree.

In the past I have read a few blogs, very sporadically.  This usually happened when a friend would post a link on Facebook, or to an email list.  I would casually wander on over and check it out, but never stick around past one or two posts.  It was like I was having casual flings with various blogs, but never intrigued enough to settle down. 

Then I heard, over and over again, how I should create a blog for my genealogy research.  What?!  Me?! I know nothing about that stuff, how am I going to figure it all out?  Well 3 months of investigation and I was sold.  What sold me you ask?  Reading other people’s blogs of course.

This leads me to why I am madly in love with Google Reader.  Instead of going to each one individually, and having to remember how to get there, I just subscribe using my reader.  Anytime one of the blogs I read has a new post, it pops up on there.  How cool is that?!  Currently I am subscribed to 56 genealogy related blogs.  Anytime I find a new one I enjoy, it just gets added to my list.  Then at my leisure I can browse the taglines of the posts and read when I have the time.  Like at the school waiting to get my kids.

If you have not done this yet, go and do it.   You will love it, I promise!

*Image: Pensiero via photopin cc

Monday, March 12, 2012

A Little Music for Women's History Month

I was sent this link to the video below by a friend, and I loved it.  It is a parody of the Lady Gaga song Bad Romance, produced by Soomo publishing. Last year, they also produced an excellent video on the Declaration of Independence set to Apologize by One Republic.  Check it out too, my 11 year old loved it, and is a rev war history enthusiast. 

So sit back, enjoy the music, and learn about the women's suffrage movement in the US.

Destroyed and Lost Records

Most genealogists will come face to face with the burned court house, archive, or home that could have unlocked untold family genealogical treasures.  Recently, I found out I was a year too late in becoming the keeper of my great aunt's research.  Her son, who was responsible for packing up and selling her house after her death, had taken it all to the landfill six months after she died.  I write about my initial reaction here in my blog.  I am trying not to think too much about what has happened, but I am finding it increasingly difficult not to.  All those what-if's have started to consume me from the inside out.
Agness Miller and Tim Brennan with 3 of thier
4 daughters Ruth, Mary Alice, and Helen. 
Margaret was not born yet.  Taken about 1926

Hearing about what happened to the files, from the man who threw them away, was a lesson in control; having to inform my father was heartbreaking.  I think I can now truly understand how my dad’s mom must have felt while watching her mother burn all of her grandparents’ possessions. 

My grandmother told me stories about the wonderful things in their house.  Hand-painted china brought over from Europe, antiques, paintings, musical instruments (Grandpa John and his brother Joe could play anything they picked up), plus letters, pictures, and so much more.  Within a week of his death in 1935, everything was gone.  Her mother, aunts, and uncles had gone through the house and burned anything they thought had no value.  My grandmother could do nothing but watch, and later cry in private as no one understood why she was so upset.  Looking back she would say it was the Depression, and you took what you could to survive in uncertain times.
Ruby Cindonia Taylor,
taken 1910's. Married
George Bennett

Family fires are not unique to my family; it seems that there was a “recent” loss in my husband’s family as well.  In about 1950 his great-grandmother Ruby's family home burned on their farm near Coventry, Connecticut.  Her sister Ruth inherited the farm from their parents, Benjamin and Anna Taylor.  Benjamin’s parents, James Taylor and Nancy Wilbur, had settled there in the late 1800’s after moving from Warwick, Rhode Island.  My father-in-law told us that the fire destroyed all of the antiques, pictures, and family records.  There was only one thing that survived the fire.  The freezer of food his great aunt had dragged from the house while it was burning.

These stories have made me, once again, take up a scanning frenzy.  Before you ask, yes, I am saving the images in multiple places.  I can do my best to not let what I find be destroyed or lost. 

*Digital image of Ruby Taylor given to me by J. Finsilver.

Fearless Females: Working Girl

Working girl: Did your mother or grandmother work outside the home? What did she do? Describe her occupation.

Both my grandmothers and my mother worked outside of the home. In World War II, Grandma Arvin was a Rosie the Riveter. She made airplane parts at the Bendix plant near her home in Wayne, Michigan. After the war she made a career of being an Army Officer's Wife. My Grandmother Combs was a school teacher for nearly 40 years, most of that time in kindergarten classrooms. She retired from teaching in the mid 1980s.

My mother worked for 2 years as a high school math teacher and school athletic trainer. However, after repeatedly running into sexist remarks about how "she didn't know anything because she was a woman" by the team doctor, mom went back to school. Mom retired from the US Army in 2010 as a Lt. Col and an Orthopedic Surgeon. In total she has 2 Bachelors degrees, a Masters, and her Medical Doctorate. This would be my "I told you so" gene.