Sunday, November 28, 2010

Obituary Stitches

Among the Daniels family items passed down by Aunt Mattie Daniels Townsend is a small (very small) collection of obituary clippings. From pedigree memory, I can easily connect each person's obituary back to our family tree, even if only remotely, with the exception of one: Frank Eamigh.

This obituary, despite its mystery, has always caught my attention. As a surname that failed to register on my genealogical radar, it was not the contents that caught my attention, but rather, the carefully stitched pieces of newspaper. Obviously, this obituary was very important to someone. They took the time to sit and stitch the two pieces from the differing sections of the newspaper to produce a small keepsake.

I did a quick search in Rootsweb and Findagrave for this fellow. Both produced an entry. However, from the lineage listed, I still cannot see a familial link to this guy. Of course, his wife (who is missing from the online pedigrees) could be our link, but I don't recognize her maiden name at all. Perhaps one of his sisters married into our family? It could also be from the Townsend side of the family since Aunt Mattie spent a lot of time researching and transcribing historical profiles of her husband's geographic and genealogical ties.

But then, it could also be one of those wonderful wild goose chases that litter our family documents. I use the term "litter" in a light hearted way because any information about our ancestors is valuable. The wild goose chase I refer to is the sprinkling of friend information within the items passed down to the descendants. My Mother's side of the family is rife with these sprinklings of friend information: photos, notes, etc. It just so happens that my Mother actually knew which people were friends when I couldn't place a name into the family tree. She also knew how the friend was connected and why their things might have been kept. But most keepers of the family heritage are not lucky enough to have that kind of extra information.

For a branch of the family that does not have such a wonderful guide through the items, the friend connection, while providing a glimpse into the social life of our ancestors, can actually be quite a time waster as we dig and dig, exhausting our research skills on a person that will never fit into that family tree no matter how much we try to fit them in there! So my advice, when processing a family collection, is to look at the whole collection with the same eye you would look at your own. Just as we live to day with friends near and dear, so our ancestors more than likely kept their dearest friend mementos, which eventually fell into the family keepsake pile as things were passed down.

If you suspect you have a family friend in the family archives, note the pertinent details and then do a quick search locally. For instance, many of the family friends in our collection are young people. If you know their name and which ancestor they resemble in age, check the class rosters. Chances are, they are a school chum. If the friend is in uniform, you probably have an old army buddy. If they are older, check the local atlases to see which family groups lived nearby. Back before TV or computers, local neighbors frequently maintained close relationships. And don't forget churches! Many friends can be found in the member rolls.

I have not ruled out a family connection for Frank, but noting his young age at death (25) and the care with which someone stitched together his obituary, I have mentally categorized him as a possible friend relationship. In other words, I have him documented and he stays in the collection, but I will not spend an exorbitant amount of research time on him unless I find another clue that points him back into the family category. Of course, all of this advice is for those of us who are pressed for time and cannot spend full time hours on our genealogy research......with that being said, the historian in me would like to remind everyone that we are trying to tell a complete story, and those friendships could someday prove to be invaluable links to further information, or lead to a story that would knock your socks off!
Happy hunting!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Too Much Turkey!

It is only right and proper that we should stop the onslaught of Christmas for just a moment to remember our blessings and give thanks before we head out, en masse, with credit cards in hand to storm the malls for decking the halls. So, as we are flooded with Pilgrim and Native American imagery, enough turkey and tofu recipes to gag on, this is the best time to reminisce about the good ole days. In other words: the food!

Thanksgivings with the Grandparents were crowded and tension filled, but the food helped us all get along in those cramped quarters. As a kid, I didn't notice the family tensions or politics, just the FUN. We kids played together well, and packed enough toys to supply an underprivileged country. However, as the years progressed, one thing stayed constant: that fantastic cooking!

The feasts on either side of my family were tremendously indulgent. As I look back, what seemed to me a feast meant for a small village was actually a familial act of appeasement. I was so impressed by what my Grandmothers made. Every wonderful side dish imaginable was there, plus that ginormous turkey, followed by several different desserts! But why did they go to soooo much trouble? As my Mom has taken over the main Thanksgiving meal over the years, we have a great turkey, plus a few side dishes, bread and then pumpkin pie for dessert. Nothing as complex as the "olden days". So what gives?

I finally realized that my Grandmothers were practicing that age old talent of keeping everyone happy. If we took a tally, each person would probably have a favorite something - and the Grandmothers cleverly remembered what those were. Which meant slaving over the stove for hours, making sure everyone got their favorite dish for Thanksgiving. This practice of appeasement.....or, aka, selfless love.....was the reason we had such a wondrous feast every year. And which is why the above picture of Grandpa was taken by my Dad back in the late 60s after the feast....obviously Grandpa had many favorites....and whoa to those of us who indulge in all of our favorites on the table, or you too will be grabbing for the first sight of that clever product placement as seen in the photo!

To wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving, a safe and profitable Black Friday, and a creative leftover turkey weekend, I will offer the following tidbits:
**Note, the number of adult married women present at the first Thanksgiving was 4! That's right! 4! And according to the accounts of who attended, there were 5 adolescent girls, 9 adolescent boys (good grief), 13 young children, 22 adult men....and drum roll least 91 Native American male guests! So, maybe our Mothers and Grandmothers have really just been carrying on the tradition of female exhaustion for Thanksgiving!

Oh, and try to spend as much time as possible WITH the family, and not glued to the TV like this group of naughty pilgrims:

From the Gizmodo Thanksgiving Photoshop Contest lots of Turkey...but not too much!



Ah! on Thanksgiving day....
When the care-wearied man seeks his mother once more,
And the worn matron smiles where the girl smiled before.
What moistens the lips and what brightens the eye?
What calls back the past, like the rich pumpkin pie?
~John Greenleaf Whittier

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Wedding Déjà vu? Sort of....

Among the photographic heirlooms passed down from my Great Grandmother Nellie Cox Beyersdoerfer is this wedding portrait of my Great Great Aunt, Ada Beyersdoerfer Mueller. The first time I opened its folded enclosure I giggled - a lot. Despite the beautiful details in the photo's clarity, that veil looks like a lace monster that completely swallowed her head!

Beyond the giggle factor, I really do love this photo for its family historic purpose and beauty. As a farming family of little wealth, this formal portrait is the only one we have from the Beyersdoerfer side. Despite the birth of many girls, I haven't seen any other wedding portraits. (For those of you keeping track, Ada was Anna's sister from the Looking at Anna post)

As a special treat, a few years ago as I was studying the photo closer, I looked behind it, and found the wedding invitation perfectly preserved behind the happy couple!

The invitation reads:
Mr. and Mrs. John Beyersdoerfer request the honor of your presence at the marriage of their daughter Ada to Mr. Henry E. Mueller. Wednesday, the Twenty-seventh of September, nineteen hundred and twenty-two at eight o'clock A.M. St. Boniface Church, Northside, Cincinnati, O.

I grew up in Cincinnati, over on the west side, well above Northside geographically, but travelled through that city often on my backroads way to the University of Cincinnati as a college student. I had never seen this church from the main road down the center of town, but it was always on my radar to hunt down someday. When our family moved to Kentucky about 15 years ago, I still had this church on my to-do list, but it was far down the list, and I honestly doubted if I would ever get around to it.....until....

One of my younger cousins on my Dad's side of the family, still in Cincinnati, chose this same church as his wedding site just a few weeks ago. When I read where the wedding was to take place, I was thrilled! For the privacy of the living, I will not name names, but I will include some photos from my turned out to be a stunningly beautiful church inside!! To attend the wedding of a cousin from Dad's side, while trying to imagine the 1922 wedding of an aunt from my Mom's side.....quite the Déjà vu moment!

Ok, that's sort of how it's a tip....make sure you research places BEFORE you attend the events! I was wallowing in that family history moment, "documenting" the past and present with loads of photos. The photos were of course valuable for documenting the current family event, but after returning home, I remembered a conversation my Mother and I had while I was snapping photos outside.....we both thought the building didn't look too old....perhaps turn of the 20th century, but no older. So a quick Google search brought me to the official church website.

Turns out, the congregation dates back to 1853, but after several buildings, the current building dates from 1927. Ironically, my Mueller relatives got married the year after the congregation purchased this land in 1921 on the corner of Chase and Pitts Avenues, but they must have held their ceremony at the former building at the corners of Blue Rock and Lakerman Sts since this newer building was not yet constructed. Which means, I still need to go traipsing through Northside again to see if that older building still exists, so it returns to my to-do list.

As a post script of sorts, I was reading the church's official history, and it turned out to be more significant than I realized. Apparently, the first congregation was begun to accommodate the influx of Irish immigrants that were filling the surrounding Cincinnati areas very quickly. When the influx of German Catholics rapidly rose to match the numbers of local Irish Catholics, the congregation decided to split - ethnically. The Irish congregants split off to form St. Patricks and the Germans stayed to maintain St. Boniface. Which, of course, fits my German lineage on Mom's side.....the Mueller/Beyersdoerfer clan was part of the German half that kept St. Boniface. Ironically, the two halves that split reunited in 1991 under the St. Boniface parish due to dwindling numbers in both groups. That link above to the history of St. Boniface has a great slide show from the early days at the bottom of the page.

So, without further ado, here are some photos of the current St. Boniface church built in 1927:


Twittering Trees

Within my circle of influence lately, Twitter has risen as a questionable issue. Be it work, other blogs (French Essence) or my own Twitter account, people have been discussing the merits or detriments of this format. I felt it was my turn to give my two cents on the matter - specifically because I think those holding out may be missing quite a genealogical treat - or tweet - whatever.

Ironically, as a 2.0 junkie, my fascination with all things social media, which began two years ago, did NOT include Twitter. Until recently, I was completely fact, when the news mentioned anything about this subject, or God forbid, someone used one of those hash-tags (#) in everyday use, I really wanted to go bird hunting. I viewed it as a colossal waste of time, and an ego-centric outlet for those who just loved to hear themselves talk - ignore the ironic presence of blogs behind that green curtain. In fact, "Twit" was such a great word for them....until....

When my own business was born, it was decided that we would begin a Twitter account, since all major companies had one. Of course, I drew the short straw on that one. So, back in August of this year, our Pastology Twitter account was born. For awhile, I was truly at a loss as to how to make this useful. I tweeted a few random historical thoughts, such as antiquing, or attending the FGS conference in Knoxville, but I knew if I didn't learn more and throw myself into this, I was not going to create anything of use, and I feared it would quickly fade from my daily to-do list. And they say, one of the keys to a successful Twitter account is frequent tweets, at least daily....or you become boring really quickly.

However, for those Twitter virgins out is the amazing lesson I learned:

In the genealogy field, Twitter is the news feed made just for us!

That's right, as I searched for historic and genealogical groups to follow, I was amazed at the wealth of information out there. I was hooked....not for my own tweeting, but for the tweets of others!

Which brings up another lesson for the anti-Twitter people who think they have nothing to tweet about:

You don't have to tweet at all if you don't want to!

To keep your finger on the pulse of genealogical events as they happen, just create an account and follow your favorites. Even local favorites are in there....museums, historical societies, libraries, etc. Trust me, if something happens in the genealogical world, you will hear about it FIRST on Twitter. With the apps on smartphones these days, I read Twitter feeds while out and about, almost as much as I read my RSS feed reader. And who knows, once you get an account and keep up with the other fascinating, genealogical/historical worthy tweets out there, you may begin to see great stories online, and gravitate toward that "Share this" button that allows you to share your link find as a tweet! There's quite the slippery slope!

To get you started, or to learn more:

Twitter: Main site

Twitter cheat sheet created by Thomas MacEntee at Geneabloggers

Hashtags: Search for #genealogy and quickly see who has tweeted about this subject within the past few minutes.

And I just had to include this adorable desktop background that teaches about Twitter shortcuts, all in a family tree style....too cute!

Happy Tweeting!

CD aka @Pastology (For now, I am Pastology. Perhaps someday, if the company grows larger, I may separate into my own Tweetdom, but for now, I tweet from the home base.....generally historical/genealogical links and comments - you can see my feed on the upper right column of the blog) 11/20/10

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Oral History Promoted @Starbucks?

I will not divulge locations or calories consumed, but I happen to work in a library that has its own Starbucks attached to the backside. As my co-workers and I have been frequenting this establishment quite regularly lately due to that marvelous concoction, Peppermint Hot Chocolate, we took notice of this year's new Christmas slogan: Stories are Gifts - Share. Oral History is one of my side passions and I was thrilled to see this reminder to the masses that some of our most precious historical and cultural gifts are oral traditions and memories - but only if we share them! So, as the Holiday season encroaches upon us, and we attend gathering after gathering, try to get your family to share as many memories as possible! Even if you have no recording device, quickly jot things down as they were repeated as soon as you get home.....I did just that on one special Christmas back in 2002.

My Grandfather, the one seen in the previous post with all of his military medals, and seen below in his Christmas glory days back in the 80s, was 91 years old in 2002 and recently diagnosed with cancer. He was weak, but still strong in his own way, and this was the last Christmas we all spent at my Grandparents' house. The following Christmas we spent at my Aunt's and then on Christmas Day 2004, Grandpa made his final journey home at 93.

Grandpa had a few photo albums from his youth that I had scanned the previous year to have my own copies. However, when I scanned them and talked to him about them, he didn't seem interested at all in talking about the people in the album. If you asked about the Wars, that was a different story....he would proudly talk all day to anyone who would listen. It was odd to me that he would not talk about this side of his family and the many unidentified people in it, but I thought that to be a lost cause and kept the scans as my only tie to his background.

I have always felt that Christmas was a magical time of year. Regardless of how religious your beliefs about this season, you cannot deny that people act differently during Christmas. That Christmas in 2002 was a brief magical moment that allowed me to document some of our family's past.

As everyone had gone home and a few lingered upstairs talking to Grandma, I stayed downstairs with Grandpa in the family room just chit-chatting and photographing some of that old album again to practice reproduction with various light sources. He was watching my progress and when I brought it over to him to ask him about someone, he took the album and put it in his lap. I quietly pulled up a small chair and sat next to him as he walked me through the album, pointing out people he knew and telling me stories about his parents and extended family that none of us had ever heard before. I had no recording device save my own memory, but as soon as I got home, I wrote down every story he told me in his words as I remember him telling it. That type of memory recollection is not the best way to preserve important family stories, but beggars cannot be choosers, and since each of his little stories were short, my recollection abilities were able to retain everything until I could get home.

As magical as that memory is for me, I learned a few things: If you are forced to record a story from memory, write it down AS SOON AS POSSIBLE, the more time that elapses, the more details you lose - Never take an opportunity for granted, any family gathering is precious and could be the last one for a loved one in the room - Do not wait for a recording device as some relatives of advanced years can sense those things from a mile away, and balk at the idea. Besides, passing on family stories orally is a tradition as old as humanity itself - Don't knock the tried and true! One last tip: buy a nice quality journal to keep handy in case a relative starts telling a story that you cannot capture via device. I kept one during my years with both sets of Grandparents and I still use it when I hear a family story I want to make sure I remember.

So take Starbucks' advice and SHARE the gift of memories! Oh and BTW, their peppermint hot chocolate has been unanimously declared "Christmas in a cup" by the library ladies in my department.


Thursday, November 11, 2010

Acts of Honor

As we celebrate Veterans Day this year, I spent some time trying to remember all of the members of my family that spent some time serving in the military. As it turns out, my Father's side of the family is the one that remains heavily devoted to serving our country. From the American Revolution, to the Civil War, to WWII, to the Korean War, to the current conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan, this side of the family has had very strong ties to the military.

In remembrance of those who have honorably served our country, I will list their names, and a link back to their entry on FindaGrave, if they have one. As an act of honoring our relatives who served and have already passed, perhaps this is the perfect opportunity give them a small honor on that site? There are a few ways to accomplish this: add the entry if the Veteran has not already been added to the database; add a note or two about their service if you have that information ; add a flag or flower to their entry in honor of this special Holiday. These are our heroes and we should make every effort to keep their memories sure to celebrate their acts of honor today!
My Military Family:

Daniel Estle 1745-1821: American Revolution - Pennsylvania Militia

Henry Connelly 1751-1840: American Revolution - Captain - North Carolina Cavalry

Henson Mockabee 1792-1880: War of 1812 - Kentucky Militia

Madison Daniels 1838-1913: Civil War - Ohio Infantry

Myron Beyersdoerfer 1907-1979: WWII US Army

Charles C. Daniels 1911-2004: WWII, Korean War - LTC US Army (Grandpa)

Charles C. Daniels Jr. 1939-Present: Army Reserves - LTC (Dad)

Plus some other living relatives (Uncle Jeff, Uncle Bruce, Cousin David, Cousin Bobby, Cousin Eddie, Cousin Harold, etc.). Sadly, as I go through some of the old family photos, I see some other valiant men who served, but I do not know their names.....for all the Veterans out there, we say "Thank You for securing and preserving our freedom!!"

The photo above, is my Dad and Grandpa....we are very proud of these two Lieutenant Colonels! Grandpa was so proud of his only son who chose to follow in his footsteps and as you can see, he was there to celebrate his milestones at every opportunity. Dad still enjoys Veterans Day and will celebrate tonight by visiting the local Veterans in one of the Nursing Homes near his home in Georgetown. Sadly, we lost Grandpa in 2004 at the age of 93. The man who also took incredible delight in the Christmas season chose Christmas Day as his time of departure. Below is a picture of his flag as displayed at his wake in Cincinnati.

"How important it is for us to recognize and celebrate our heroes and she-roes!"
Maya Angelou

CD 11/11/10


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