Wednesday, November 11, 2009

One more life to add to the other

Good grief, one more thing. I joined Second Life. Ugh!!

I have a handful of friends that keep asking me to come into the fun of Second Life. I would sit in the group with them listening them talk about it and while it did sound intriguing, I held to my belief that I just have too much I never get done as it is, things I whine and complain about regularly on my blogs, and that I have no business adding yet one more thing to take my attention from no less than spinning, knitting, family research, SCA research (that never ever gets done), AOL roleplay (that gets too much done!), 16th century garb for myself and my daughter, Turkish embroidery (hardly touched) and so on. Oh yes and that I have a full time job and a 19 year old daughter still at home and not much of a social life. So do I really need to be in Second Life?  Then, I heard a lot about it this weekend in PA at the Pennsic Staff meeting I went to.

The culprit who tipped the scales much is Genie Weezles, much to the joy of my friends who have been telling me I should be in Second Life. My excuse was I don't have control over my first life, why do I need a second????!!!! Lol. Genie writes one of my favorite blogs, I have her tool bar too and I like it, btw. I met her in SL on my first night there and found her to be extremely nice and helpful. I am looking forward to sitting in on meetings and chats but right now I am all about figuring out the game. I rode a train in a 1885 Victorian village and went to Scotland though I was transported out by accidently walking onto private property. Heh.

One thing SL has awakened is my inner Barbie. Yes. My three nights in SL have been little more than shopping and dressing. Do not be surprised if I sit in on a Genealogy discussion dressed like Marie Antoinette. I have gone very period in my shopping. I have a nifty Tudor ensemble now and a pirate girl outfit. See, this is why I should not be in a place like this. It does remind me though of my Grandmother (Elizabeth Dewar Fender Duncan) who used to settle in for a night of my sister and I putting on a Barbie fashion show. Those are some of my best memories. She would have us narrate our outfits with details as we walked Barbie along the edge of the shiny black case like a runway and would ask questions about the garments. Those were wonderful times.

So, if you see an overdressed or perhaps underdressed, you just never know with me, character with a different hairdo every day named Genea Moorsider, that would be me!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Once Upon A Wall

The anniversary of the Berlin Wall coming down reminds me that I have knowledge of history and how will my descendents know this unless I tell my story. Another one of those duh moments. We chase those links to the past but I know I forget that someday someone will want to know this about me.

I have seen this wall. I toured it when I was 17 and a young army wife while my husband was stationed in Ansbach. I saw the wall that kept East Germans inside their borders and I remember this tour 33 years later. I remember being afraid as being 17 I clearly remembered my European Studies classes in high school.

I boarded the bus and sat next to a window. I was excited and scared at the same time. The tour guide asked us not to make any gestures towards the watch towers or anyone guarding the wall saying that the bus could be apprehended and by law no one had to let the US government know we were in custody for 48 hours. This alone terrified me and being an impressionable teenager I took this as gospel and was actually afraid to lift my hand to eat the peanut M&M in it! Too, I had a baby on my lap. Our bus driver, however, was of a different mind and he was beeping the horn and making all sorts of gestures towards the soldiers the entire trip and I wondered if the man had a death wish for everyone on that bus! I have never been religious but I do remember looking up and mentally begging for a safe trip home and promising to never hit my sister again and so on. Come on, I was 17 and out of the nest way too soon and in a foreign country! I couldn't imagine why the bus driver would do all this, risking our lives, as that is what I thought he was doing. It is very easy to think this when you are looking out the window at men standing in uniform and holding a machine gun. Today I wonder what they thought. Were we just another bunch of American's to dislike or did they envy the freedom we had? If I had been older, I would have asked a thousand questions of the tour guide. What a missed opportunity being that I was of an age where I really had other interests and this was part of my arrival orientation to live in Germany with the Armed Forces.

The tour consisted of seeing the sights and hearing of the horrors. I gazed at innocent looking chain link fences. There was nothing innocent about them. They were razor sharp and would take the fingers off anyone trying to climb the fence. If they happened to get to the top they would get no further with barbed wire and a rolling tube waiting to keep them inside. Wide open fields would be seen and I would wonder why anyone could not just run and make it out. I did not realize it was not one solid wall around the country but then again, I was young. These areas were patrolled by Russian Wolf Hounds trained to eat from the trainers throat then left hungry enough during their time on duty. As explained, they were attack dogs. I never looked at the family dog again in quite the same way. There were towers where armed men would shoot to kill should anyone make a run for it. Then there were the check points and the wall. I was moved by it. I remember feeling so bad for the people behind it given no choice. I heard the stories of families and friends separated by just the placement of the wall; neighbors one day and then of different worlds the next. The Autobahn lined with slab walls and dynamite to set off stopping anyone who tried to leave or come in. I know there was a lot more but it was so long ago I don't remember it well and it was part of my very forgettable "first life" that I call it.

What I do remember clearly was the story about truck drivers. If they were delivering or picking up outside of the wall their families were put in protective custody to ensure the driver and the truck came back. That was what bothered me most out of everything I learned that day. Why are peaceful hard working people terrorized like that. This is where I come back to that bus driver that scared the life out of me with his outward behavior to the guards at check points all along this bus route. He was one of those truck drivers and he smuggled his wife and children out of the country in the truck he drove out. The sheer act of such bravery astounds me. Would I ever risk everything, the very lives of my family, to make a getaway like that? He knew what he was up against and the risk he put his family in. I can't begin to touch upon how this family must have felt through the planning and eventual escape. There had to be people they left behind. The bus was parked when the drivers story was told. What he got for it was a standing ovation and a pride so strong and seeing clearly the reason why we were there. The fear I felt by his actions that day melted away to a huge respect and feeling he was well in his rights to celebrate as he did every day driving that bus.

When the wall went down I knew I had been a tiny part of history. I could say, "yes, I have seen it with my own eyes." Twenty years later I realize just what a big part of history it was. I realize the importance of that wall coming down. As many wish over the years, I wish when I saw that wall at such a young age that I truly understood the weight and importance of it and its time and place in history.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Transcription - G. W. Duncan - Coffin and Grave

I guess my previous post was what I needed to shed my mood. Tonight I decided to look at what I had saved in Footnote and to start transcribing. This file has 12 pages of information. I did find a clue or two in this information. I am seeing very clearly why transcribing is important, especially for a skimmer like me. I can pinpoint Jane Edwards Duncan to Hendersonville, NC in 1862. I will see if there are newspapers from there in any archives.

{Edit:  Oh discrepancy!  I wonder if his age was written down when he mustered in or if he gave the wrong age.  By taking the age of 29 that he was listed as when he died, that places him born abt 1832.  His wife was born 1817 and their son William Franklin was born in 1842.  That would make G.W. 10 years old??  More research to be done.  In the statement below it is mentioned he was 42 at time of death.}

From North Carolina Troops
A Roster

Compiled by Weymouth T Jordan, Jr.
Vol. VII

Duncan, George W., Private

Born in Ashe County and resided in Yancey County where he was by occupation a farmer prior to enlisting in Yancey County at age 29, July 26, 1861.  Died n hospital at Knoxville, Tennessee, June 20-27, 1862 of "diarrhoea."

The reference card:

Duncan - G.W.
Co. G. 29th N.C.

Reference Card

See Manuscript No. 1687 Page …
Coffin and Grave
Dated - July 16 1862


I certify that the within named George W Duncan a private of Capt E H Hampton's company (G) 29th Regt NC Troops was born in Ash County in the State of NC.  Age 42 years five feet nine inches high.  Fair complexion blue eyes black hair.  And by occupation a farmer.  Was enlisted by M Chandler at Day Brook in Yancey County in the State of NC on the 26th day of July 1861 to serve one year and died at Knoxville Tennessee in regular hospital of dioreiah on the 27th day of June 1862.  A left the following effect {viz} two suits of clothes, two blankets and 36 dollars in money all of which was hand over to his leagal adminstrator, Jane M Duncan except one suit of clothes which was used in burying him.  Given in duplicate at Beau Station, Tenn this 8th day of July 1862.  E.H. Hampton, Capt.  Comdg Comp 29th Regt, NC Troops.

Auditor/Comptroller Document:

The Confederate States

To George W Duncan, deceased, late Private of Capt.  Hampton  Co G 29th Reg't, North Carolina Troops Dr.

For pay from 1st May the date of which he was last paid by Capt. Neill A 2 M to 27th June, 1862 the date of his Death.
1 month & 17 Days @ $11 per Month

Commutation for Clothing



Per Certificate of Capt Hampton herewith.

Payable to B. M. Edward (?), Attorney of Jane E Duncan the Widow of said deceased Hendersonville N.C.

Treasury Department
Second Auditor's Office
June 6th 1863
C W Johnson, Clerk.

Comptroller's Office
June 9th, 1863
S.H. Boykin(?), Clerk.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Taming The Runaway Brain

I think maybe I am overwhelmed. Sometimes I feel like I do things over and over and I think I take good notes and I put everything in RM4. I don't have the best filing system but I am not disorganized either, I can find everything. One thing that I know I am struggling with and my common sense just jumped out with an answer the other day. My DAR line is documented by my mothers cousin. While I have the family history she wrote many years ago, I have never seen any of the documentation. Recently I found my Edwards line by a website (a great website!) done by someone else but still I have no documentation. So while it is "done", to me it is not "done". So I was putting a lot of thought into "should I redo research?" Well duh, yes! What if I find a new clue or new information and how would I know if it is new or not never having seen documentation! And, we should always double check our resources, etc.

So clearly I do know what I should be doing.. But maybe my brain is having problems in knowing where to start. And, as you can see, this is frustrating me because I am watching all my subscriptions ticking away, haha. Too, I am missing the boat on a lot of things. I do the primary look ups, chase down a lead with excitement when I have one but then I seem to drop the ball. I see all these fantastic Genealogist's uncovering all these documents I never get around looking for. So clearly my research skills have not rounded out yet.

I need a master checklist of all the things I can do to find an ancestor that I can use. I have one but can't say I like it that much so I will keep searching for something that covers everything I want with some minor tweaking of my own. Sometimes I think there is just too much information out there and I feel I am on overload. So when I feel like this about anything, back to basics seems to work for me.

So, I am allowing myself this down time but! it will not be wasted time. I have assigned myself three jobs. One, to put all my folder files into notebooks like DearMyrtle does on her January 2009 checklist. Two, I am going to get all my surnames and regions on mail lists. I have about 6 or 7 but I can do much better. Three, I am going to get all the forums I watch on my RSS feed in Bloglines.

It's a start.. I crave to research, I see so much potential in my family tree and so much missing information. So once I do these tasks, I guess I will pick a family line and start from scratch.  In the mean time I will continue to write a blog when topics interest me or I feel I have something to share.  The blog prompts are a fantastic thing.

I read about all these great collections being scanned for the world to see.. how do people get jobs like that! Lol.

If you read all the way through this.. thank you for listening to me ramble!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Blog Prompt #39: Did your ancestors come by boat? Talk about the documentation that records their departure and arrival.

Two family's that I know of came to America by boat in the 1900's. On my mothers side was my Great-Grandfather Edward Fender. Edward came over the first time with his oldest child and only son, George Fender. They came over in steerage and decided during that trip that my Great-Grandmother, Grandmother and Great-Aunt would come over by first class passage. Edward was a Mason and the most memorable event about his arrival was that they took his trunk and opened it to inspect his luggage. Upon finding his Mason's apron, his baggage was closed up as it was and he was escorted through customs.

I have been very lucky to find the documents for this families passage. The interesting thing is that both my grandmother and great-aunt were listed 2 years younger than they were. A small mystery though I am guessing that the clerk was misinformed. If my great-grandfather booked the passage, perhaps he just couldn't remember how old they were. I know in the family history of my mothers cousin my sister and I are also listed by two years off.

The second family would be my Great-Grandmother and Great Grandfather Stivic that became Stevens. They too came through Ellis Island and settled in Detroit, Michigan.

(this is the information filled in on a #29 line blank passenger list form, Excel is giving me issues and not pasting like the table I made.  Each line numbered, first is Zivco, second is Marianna.)

1 11 12

2 Stivic Stivic

2 Zivco Marianna

3 26 19

4 M F

5 M M

6 Labourer Housewife

7 Yes Yes

7 Yes Yes

8 Hungarian Hungarian

9 German German

10 Vodincia (?) Same

11 Anna Landakic same

11 Mother Mother-in-law

12 Michigan same

12 Detroit same

13 11 12

14 Yes Yes

15 Self Husband

16 $50 comment about Husband

17 No No

17 - -

17 - -

18 Acqua Kocian Anton, Guton? Acqua

18 Hendrick St 32, Detroit Michigan

19 No No

20 No No

21 No No

22 No No

23 No No

24 No No

25 5' 7" 5' 5"

26 dark dark

27 fair fair

27 blue blue

28 no no

29 Lapovac (can't read handwriting)

Friday, September 4, 2009

Daughters of the American Revolution - Verified!

Exciting news came by email this week!  My local chapter had word from the NSDAR in Washington that the genealogists had verified!!! our applications and our member numbers will be coming.

This alone crosses off a "to do" on my life's list that is over 20 years old.  My mother had her applications from 1989 I think they are dated that her cousin had helped her with. At that time Patsy was a Chapter Registrar and was helping my mother join.  She put them in her safe and there they stayed.  I had mentioned them many times over the years but I had at that point not done any genealogy work at all.  So then when I picked up the family history baton once more I decided it was time to finish this project and while we were at it to get every female that was eligible in.  May as well do this only once, right?

There were a few times I hit some frustration.  A few times I wondered why I was doing this for four people.. I couldn't get what I needed or there was no support or any appreciation.  This is a lot of work for one person but in the end, I have brought about a huge accomplishment.. one that I have wanted for a very long time because I am very proud of my heritage.  So!! My mother, sister, daughter and myself are now Daughters.

My mothers cousin also says I qualify for the Colonial Dames, perhaps I will persue that down the road.  The Hugoenot Society might be in the future as well.  One of our ancestor's, William John Witt, is thought to be one of the first Huguenot's of the Manakin Colony, Virginia, I am not sure we have the proof of this.  The last I looked at the Huguenot website, The Huguenot Society of the Founders of Manakin in the Colony of Virginia, he was listed but with a ? denoting there was no proof for him.but I do see the surname "Vaux" on the list as well and he married a Vaux in France.

That is the news for Society's.  Next week I will be going to my first DAR meeting.  I am looking very forward to it.

Saturday Night Fun - 8-29-2009

I haven't met many of my ancestors but here goes. I really enjoy doing Randy Seaver's Saturday Night Fun and have been trying to be more on top of it for if nothing else, it keeps me blogging during down times. Currently sitting and sifting through census images annoy me so the spinning wheel has my attention. That is how my mind works.. I am either spot on with research or feeling like my brain doesn't like to work. When this happens, I have learned it is time to be creative until the research bug hits again. Basically, why fight the tide.. be productive no matter where your head is at! Anywho..... I digress a LOT.

I took my Ahnentafel and see I have met six of my ancestors.

Number 1 and 2 are my parents.  Since they are still alive they are being listed.

Number 3 and 4 are my paternal grandparents.  I met them when I was very small and do not remember them and my father did not stay in touch with them that I know of.  

3. Bozidar (Theodore John) STIVIC (STEVENS)-422: born 1913 in Michigan; died in Detroit Michigan.

4. Bernadine Vevione SHEUFELT-785: born 29 Sep 1914 in Detroit Michigan; died 2 Jan 1997 in Bullhead City, Mohave, Arizona, United States of America.

My maternal grandparents.  My grandmother was the most important person in my world.  My grandfather was a Southern Gentleman and had this very charming way about him.  I have posted seperate blogs about them in this blog previously.

5. John Foster DUNCAN-313: born 27 Dec 1906 in Bradley County Tennessee; died 28 Sep 1995 in Rochester, Monroe, New York, USA.

6. Elizabeth Spalding Dewar FENDER-5: born 21 Mar 1909 in District of St. Mary, Dundee, Scotland; died 3 Mar 1984 in Rochester, Monroe, New York.

As you can see, my post is very late!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Tombstone Tuesday

James C Cowden
13 Nov 1805 in Williamson, Tennessee, USA
23 Nov 1862 in Chestuee Creek, Bradley, Tennessee, USA

Tom Cowden 1775–1879
Nancy Crewse 1785–1878

Henrietta Chilcut 1806–1891

Angelia Cowden 1842–1930
Minerva Jane Cowden 1843–1902
John G Cowden 1846–1925
Deborah Louise Cowden 1852–1939

Monday, August 24, 2009

Madness Monday - Hugh Lawson Baldwin

One frustrating man....

Born 6/14/1809, Amhearst County, Virginia.
Married Betsey Stockton June 15, 1832 in Rhea County, Tennessee.
Census 1840, Meigs County, Tennessee
Census 1860, Bradley County, Tennessee.
Died 6/15/1895, Lancaster, Texas.

His tombstone is in Edgewood Cemetery and I have spoken with two people but do not have a picture of it and not sure I have the entire inscription on the stone but it says husband of S.E.

From an email (7/29)

Byrum's has given me your letter requesting info on Hugh Lawson Baldwin.
I have an H. L. Baldwin 12/29/1809-6/14/1895 buried on lot 53.
m marker says his spouse is S. E. Baldwin. There are no other burials on
this lot - it is a large lot......

And another email (7/29)

The lot #53 that H. L. Baldwin is buried on - the owner is listed as Routh ?. Could a Routh have been a relative that purchased the lot? It is an 8 grave space with only this one marked grave. There could be other burials on it but unless they have a marker we wouldn't have records that far back.
Just a thought.

So this is what I have. I don't have any family by that Routh name so I am betting that is the second wife's maiden name so will do a little research to see if I can find a marriage something for them. I haven't gone back to Virginia to find his birth record yet and I do know who is parents are: William W Baldwin and Betsey Luttrell. (It is the Luttrell line that is my DAR application line.)

I am very stuck on his Texas years. I can not find him on any census, no death information other than that headstone and since I don't know what all is on it, I am not sure if there is another clue on it. His family knew he went to Texas and died there. I am guessing he went there after Betsey Stockton died but I can't find him on anything after the 1860 census.

This is one very elusive man.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Look what I found...

This was hiding on a comment that I had missed. I have been going through this blog today trying to make changes to it that make blogging on it easier for me. So in trying to figure out something, I happened to find this comment with this award.

This is from Tammy. A blog I follow as well in my bloglines feeder.

Thanks so much Tammy! I am sorry it took so long to thank you!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Saturday Night Fun - August 8, 2009

Here is my generation 5.. (16 ggg-grandparents)

17. Anna Landekic: married. Croatia

20. James Sheufelt: born Jul 1846 in , , Ontario, Canada; married 28 Dec 1867 in , Sanilac, Michigan, USA; died.

21. Frances Wilson: born Apr 1846 in , , Ontario, Canada; died.

22. William Oliver Hubel: born 25 Jun 1845 in Norwich Twp, Oxford, Ontario, Canada; married 1872 in Greenleaf, Sanilac, Michigan, USA; died 23 Mar 1913 in Berlin, St Clair, Michigan, USA.

23. Ella Alice Harris: born 1 Jul 1854 in Austin, Sanilac, Michigan, USA; died 2 Aug 1931 in , St Clair, Michigan, USA.

24. William Franklin Duncan: born 1 Sep 1842 in Sparta, Ashe Co NC; married 28 Sep 1865; died 25 Oct 1924 in Clevelend Tennessee Bradley County.

25. Martha Jane Hensley: born 1848; died 25 May 1870 in Bee Log NC, Yancy County plot at foot of Bald (Bold) Mtn..

26. Hugh Wilson Baldwin: born 23 Jul 1841 in Meigs County Tennessee - Rhea Springs; married 29 Aug 1869 in , Bradley, Tennessee, USA; died 14 Mar 1881 in Rhea County , Tenn.

27. Deborah Louise Cowden: born 18 Feb 1852 in Bradley County Tennessee; died 30 Apr 1939 in Clevelend Tennessee Bradley County.

28. George Fender: born 9 Jan 1852 in Dundee, Angus, Scotland; married 9 Jun 1871 in Dundee, Scotland; died.

29. Jane Watt Alexander: born 1852 in Dundee Scotland.

30. John Anderson: born 3 Jun 1855 in Monikie, Forfar, Scotland; married 27 Jun 1879 in Dundee Scotland; died 10 May 1935 in Dundee, Angus, Scotland.

31. Elizabeth Dewar Spalding: born 17 Oct 1855. Scotland.

I am a mix. The missing three will all be from Croatia as I have only figured out my great-grandfathers mother so far. Scotland is a big percentage for me. The Duncan's of Tennessee are from Scotland a few generations back and the Baldwins were English through Connecticut though that link is not made yet. There are only so many hours in a day.

This exercise did teach me how to drag and drop in RM4 so now I know how to fix up my insanely messed up saved files!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

SNGF ~ Good Genealogy Luck

Tonight's Fun Assignment

1) When have you had a dose of good genealogy luck? What document or resource did you find just by happenstance or chance? By being in the right place at the right time? By finding a family history treasure in your family's attic or basement? By finding a helpful document or reference without even looking for it?

2) Tell us about it in Comments to this post, in Comments on Facebook, or in a blog post of your own.

My good luck was posted on this blog entry... an OMG! moment.

George W Duncan had been a hard man to track down and his wife was even worse since his son referred to her as "Miss Edwards" in his civil war applications. She turned out to be Jane Edwards. George was a man that I had spent 20 years off and on poking around trying to find him.

Tired of looking for him I thought I would see if there was any pension information out there for Jane and she lived and died in North Carolina. So I spent a night looking for all of the Duncan men on the North Carolina state archives website and finally thought to look for Jane Edwards. I was so excited when I found her civil war widows pension application so ordered a copy to be sent to me. That seemed all well and good, progress, another document to put to her life on my family tree. She had been difficult for years too and suddenly in a couple of weeks I had figured out who she was AND!! found that line of family history already documented by another family historian!

So mail day! In came the envelope and when I pulled out Jane's information, the WONDERFUL person at the North Carolina Archives thought to put a copy of the page from a book showing George W Duncan's death!! He died in Tennessee, I had been looking in North Carolina for years! It was not expected and it was an important find and solved the mystery of "just was that man the G. W. that went to Texas??" I was so glad that he wasn't!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Google Thyself - Saturday Night Fun on Tuesday

I always want to do Saturday Night Fun but then I forget as the weekends just seem to disappear. I realize I spend more time surfing and reading than I do actual research anymore. I spend way too much time admiring all the research other people are doing and blogging about!! And, I seem to be constantly working on this great "organization" project. I am getting organized but just not getting organized enough to get to what I want to be doing that I needed to be organized for! Phew.. that was an exhausting thought!

So, instead of researching, haha... I did the Saturday night fun from Randy Seavers blog, Genea-Musings.

I wanted to do this because I am not sure I ever remember Googling myself so I was excited and disappointed but relieved in a sense too.

The searches:

"sharon lighthouse" "Rochester, New York"
"sharon stevens" "rochester, new york"

Sadly.. I have no life. Google life that is... but I am almost thinking that is a good thing since I am not famous or a mover or shaker in any of my life's projects. By not showing up it really cuts down on crazed fans and stalkers too! So all is good in my Google-less life.

I did a few variations of the above searches and came up with ONE hit that is actually me. I showed up as a Facebook friend for one person. And it seems that there is another Sharon Stevens (my maiden name) in Rochester that is not me. There are a lot of Sharon Drives and of course.. every lighthouse of the known world showed up in my search and the images tab was completely lighthouses!

However, with this blog post I imagine now I will have a Google life!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

And then a day when family historian is not fun..

In searching for each document and clue, we all know there is the thrill of the chase, that "Yes!" moment and that "Ahhh!" moment that we hear so much about. But usually those are for generations gone names on our family tree.

I forget sometimes that family history is the today and the now. Sometimes I remember like when my daughter and I are doing cemetery work and we use the voice recorder. Some day, generations away, our next generations will hear our voices and think we were insane or laugh at how silly would could be.

This week family history has not been fun but it has two stories for the future generations to get an up close and personal view simply by what I write here. Someday a grand child, or great grandchild can read this blog entry and know what their Grandfather, Grandmother, Great Grandfather or Great Grandmother, and so on, went though this year on July 13, 2009.

Kevin Vincent Lighthouse
b. February 8, 1960, Rochester, Monroe County, New York.
d. July 13, 2009, Norwich CT.
Son of: Ken Franke and June Baker

This is the father of my daughter. This was a man that I loved very much and who over time became my dearest friend while we were married. We were married for 10 years. We has so much in common and in the course of our marriage we had become mini homesteaders. Kevin was a man that worked three jobs at a time and always had people asking him to work for him. He never ran out of opportunities just because he was honest and had a good work ethic. He was an avid gardener and loved to do woodwork. He enjoyed milling around antique shops and big barns full of "stuff".. he could spend an hour picking through a jar of bits and pieces that I would categorize as trash. He took the role of father to my 9 year old son who struggled with his own loneliness of an absentee father. Kevin taught my son that "Dad" is a good word. Kevin was involved with boy scouts with him and had been as a child. My son has become a fantastic father to his two children.

Kevin played Rugby and the team teased him calling him Peter Purebread because he was a decent guy. That was how I met him. The first week he was rather inebriated and I thought him silly, the next week he collected me up at the game and we were together from that point onward. We had a wonderful wedding. We were very active with friends and family and a couple years after we were married our daughter was born.

Two years ago Kevin was diagnosed with cancer. He fought hard but he had already had it quite a while before it was found. He was just 49 and it seems such a waste of a good person. There is so much more I could say about him and perhaps I will someday. It is all still sinking in that he is gone and even as his ex-wife it is a hard pill to swallow. We never hated each other, we had a rough year or two but our daughter was always the focal point which kept our perspective. Sure, we could have tried harder, perhaps we could have done things differently but things ended up as they did. I have missed our life on occasion and was happy he found his own happiness and remarried.

I was lucky enough to spend time with him before he died. Of the four days I was in Connecticut, the first two he was awake and alert. Sitting by his bed talking to him about our daughter he would pick up a blueberry from his bowl and eat it then offer me the bowl to take one. I said no thank you but he kept the bowl there looking at me until I took one and ate it. Three times he did this! The third time I said no thank you, he stared me down and I finally said "okay! okay..." I Plucked one and ate it with a look at him, he grinned then and I laughed but wanted to cry. I am very lucky to have so many good memories of him. In fact when I think of him and those blueberries I chuckle then I cry.

Kevin and Mackenzie Lighthouse (May 1993)

And this brings me to our daughter. For the last week I have watched an 18 year old girl say goodbye and stay by her fathers side until the very end. In the four days I was there, she was strong, dedicated, vulnerable and simply amazing. She took his care seriously. She had moments when she was scared yet stayed with him. She took shifts at night so he would not be alone. Shortly before he died he told her he loved her. She was offered an out when it was seen he was slipping away. She chose to stay with him until he passed. The morning of the day he died I could see in her eyes she was starting to unravel.. from somewhere she found the strength to continue her vigil. I was strong at her age but not that strong. I traveled to Germany at the age of 17 with a six month old child but I could not take a person to their end like she did. I marvel at what I have seen in her this past week. I hold a new respect for her and a pride so deep. I tell everyone, "She was amazing." And she was.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Slacker I am....

I have not been blogging of late. I do that, I tend to fade then come back.. fade, and so on. I am trying to be better with the family history. It is not to say there has not been some significant progress on my Grandmother's line but I have been angry for four days and it zaps all of my energy yet re-energizes a different side of me. I am just grumpy and have a lot of attitude right now and a lot of thinking to do. I am angry at myself and this kind of makes me realize that these are the things we will never know about our ancestors. In this day in age, by reading this blog, everyone will know I am in a mood. Two generations away can read this blog and see I was in a mood. What were the days like when my great-grandmother came here from Scotland. Was she ecstatic about leaving her family to come to America. Was she excited but then have to deal with the homesickness. Did it ever seem too much to her to uproot and rebuild? It is not like they suffered. They were working class and weathered the depression pretty well. Did she have... "moods". Did she have a 10 year mood like I seem to be having? I am a ten year increment person I have decided.

I feel like I am changing yet again, or maybe I am re-emerging. Ten years ago I felt like I needed a change and that prompted a divorce. It was what I wanted but at the same time I did not anticipate how I would respond to losing my home, my house. I was silently devastated I will say. Not a lot of screaming or crying, a move to a crappy apartment that would take our cat but a silent shut down of everything I loved to do. I am a spinner, weaver, knitter, felter and an all purpose fiber addict. I had a group of four friends and we had spinning days, dying days and so on. So when we moved into this small apartment I stopped doing all the things I loved. It all sat in boxes or stuffed in a storage cubby. My wheel just sat in a corner being ignored. My friends all left the area. I took up a hobby of roleplaying. It was a good place to lose myself and found I made a few friends and could write and just have fun but then a year would go by, then another and constantly I would say... "My wheel just sits there.... I should start spinning again.." but then there went another year. One of the friendships I made is 10 years old. I have never met him face to face, I have never spoken to him on the phone yet he knows about my life and I know about his. We share stories of our kids, our frustrations and our pride in them. His wife wishes me well on holidays and I do the same to her. I love him dearly. And... we fight. It was a stupid fight but it was hurtful. Maybe it helped me put things into perspective.. today anyway, who knows if I will see this the same in three days when the anger begins to fade. It made me see what a time sink that hobby is,
it makes me wonder why people who say they have such a good life seem to spend so much time in a time sink... food for thought. Things are never ever as they seem and it opens my eyes enough to ask the following questions...

Where is the woman that was an awesome fiber artist.

Why did I put her away.

Where is the woman that chased life and made it happen.

Why do I ignore the peace that these activities brought to me in the past.

What do I want to be remembered for......

Did my Grandmother, Great-Grandmother and back beyond ever feel this way about life? Elizabeth Anderson, did she? She was a widow that had an illegitimate child in 1855... her hardships had to be quite more than my week of fussing.

So as you can see, there is a lot of thinking going on here though I think that had always been one of my bigger problems. I think.. wayyyyy to freaking much. I am analytical, I will lay awake all night picking apart a discussion/argument until I drive myself insane and it makes me mad. It is hell being a Virgo, let me tell you!

I distanced myself from my friend to lick my wounds, to assume he doesn't care and is over it already and I am in the process of making some decisions to change. When I am ready I will talk to him and see if the friendship will be salvaged. I love him but today I do not care if I speak to him again. ::lying like crazy::

Why is this all in this particular blog? No reason.. vent space. I am miserable yet feeling good too.

This morning I ordered my dream spinning wheel, for it I have given up my vacation to Pennsic this year. The energy I expend will be to what I like to do. Family History, Spinning and Knitting. The roleplaying hobby will take a lesser role in my life until it disappears for good. It is time. I have sulked long enough, I think ten years is plenty of time to waste feeling sorry for myself or whatever it is that I am doing.

I am going to walk more.

I owe emails to my sister and my cousin.

And in a completely different direction.. Genealogy...(yes, finally on topic)

Finding Grandpa. I can so relate to this blog. I find I want a happy ending for she and her mother.

A woman contacted me through Ancestry about my family tree. She said she found her Aunt Leona on my family tree and her Grandfather. Leona was my Aunt as well and we share the same Grandfather. She didn't tell me who she was the daughter of. My father had four sisters and in honesty, I would not be surprised to find he might have had more children at some point. I have not seen him since I was 13 and it will stay that way. Still, she is either my first cousin or could be a half sister. I have written a message to her and I hope that she replies sometime soon.

My Grandmother's family tree is coming right along. I have quite a few generations that I have researched in I have actually had quite fun being a sleuth as I had an illegitimate child show up. My Great-Great-Great-Grandmother (Margaret ANDERSON) was a widow and her third child (John ANDERSON) was written in as illegitimate on his birth record yet his marriage record had his father listed as William CAMERON. His death record and all the census I have found on him listed no father. So... what do I do in this case? I will keep searching for something that might mention a father but if I can't find anything I suppose I will have to consider this a brick wall. In the meantime the search is on!

The Ahnentafel for my Grandmother. ( I LOVVVVE! Roots Magic 4).. see that? 6 generations with progress. Not too shabby. I have been taking a class on GenClass with David W Webster. I have enjoyed it very much and David has such an enthusiasm that it keeps me plugging away.. until the last couple days anyway.. slacker mode hit (though the knitting I have gotten done!)

Generation 1

1. Elizabeth Spalding Dewar FENDER-1: born 21 Mar 1909 in District of St. Mary, Dundee, Scotland; died 3 Mar 1984 in Rochester, Monroe, New York.

Generation 2

2. Edward Cummings Alexander FENDER-2: born 19 Jul 1878 in District of St. Andrew, Dundee, Scotland; died 10 Apr 1952 in Akron Ohio.

3. Elizabeth ANDERSON-3: born 8 Mar 1880 in Carnoustie Scotland; died 31 Jan 1933 in Akron, Summit, Ohio.

Generation 3

4. George FENDER-5: born 9 Jan 1852 in Dundee, Angus, Scotland; married 9 Jun 1871 in Dundee, Scotland; died.

5. Jane Watt ALEXANDER-6: born 1852 in Dundee Scotland.

6. John ANDERSON-7: born 3 Jun 1855 in Monikie, Forfar, Scotland; married 27 Jun 1879 in Dundee Scotland; died 10 May 1935 in Dundee, Angus, Scotland.

7. Elizabeth Dewar SPALDING-8: born 17 Oct 1855.

Generation 4

8. George FENDER-9: born 4 Apr 1817 in Dundee, Angus, Scotland; married 26 Nov 1843 in Dundee Scotland.

9. Jane BEAT-10: born 18 Feb 1817 in Ferry Port on Craig; died 18 Mar 1898 in Dundee Scotland.

10. Alexander ALEXANDER-11: born 20 May 1820 in Dundee Scotland; married 24 Jan 1842 in Dundee Scotland.

11. Margaret WATT-12: born 1822.

13. Margaret ANDERSON-15: born 1826 in Brechin.

14. James SPALDING-13: married.

15. Elizabeth DEWAR-14: born.

Generation 5

16. George FENDER-40.

17. Elizabeth SMITH-41.

18. James BEAT-38: born 1 Oct 1789 in Ferry Port on Craig; married 22 May 1816 in Ferry Port on Craig.

19. Isabel MURRAY-39.

20. Thomas ALEXANDER-36.

21. Elizabeth MILNE-37.

22. A WATT-16.

Generation 6

36. William BEAT-42.

37. Jean GORIE-43.

I come from quite a few Ship Masters. Two George Fenders and James Beat were all Ship Masters. Alexander Alexander was a stonemason. I come from the working class, I would love to take a further peek into their lives.

So there.. a long winded blog to attempt to fill in the space of the long weeks of silence.

If you read all the way through this.. woah.. I am impressed. If not.. it is so understood.


Friday, March 13, 2009

Elizabeth Dewar Spalding Fender Duncan

For this post I will pay tribute to my maternal grandmother. I wrote about her husband (John Foster DUNCAN) in my blog already and for she being "the" person of my life I have not yet written about her. There is so much emotion attached to her and this month would be the perfect time to bring you into the world of a woman that was not famous, she never had a lot and her retirement sucked, it was stolen by a stroke.

b. March 21, 1909, District of St. Mary, Dundee Scotland

m. January 4, 1934 to John Foster Duncan, Clarksburg, West Virginia

d. March 3, 1984, Rochester, New York

b. March 5, 1984, Webster Union Cemetery, Webster, New York.

Elizabeth Dewar Spalding Fender Duncan was a woman that came to the United States from Scotland as a teenager. Her father and older brother came to the US first in steerage and during that journey her father decided that her mother, herself and my great aunt Edna would travel first class when they moved across the pond. My grandmother came to the US aboard the Adriatic leaving Liverpool England on December 27, 1924 and arriving in New York on January 9, 1925.

My Grandmother; My Mother; Me

Until the day she died her Scottish accent was clear as a bell. She rolled the "r" in my name, Sharon. I still to this day hear the way she said it yet I can not duplicate it. This woman had an uncanny knack of looking into my eyes and seeing my soul. She saw all of my childhood fears and made me safe; she was the woman that made it all better. We lived together for the first five years of my life and then my parents, sister and myself moved to Rochester, New York and she stayed in Akron, Ohio. I don't recall it ever being easy for me that she was there and I was here though we went there many times during the year, every holiday and a week or two in the summer and she would come here to New York for her vacations.

She worked in a dental lab in Akron. She took the bus there every day and she never drove, she never had her license. She lived on West Exchange Street just down the street from Clix? (Clicks, Cliks), it was a very large five and dime sort of place. She smoked a lot, Tarryton cigarettes, and she knit. I knit now. She was fantastic with a sewing machine and I remember she made a lot of her clothing just for the pure enjoyment of doing so. She had a singer machine that set into a sewing table the size of a card table and that was always put up in the corner of her bedroom but it would come down on our visits so a mattress could be put there for my sister and I. We LOVED bunking in with her and on the weekend, one of us got to sleep with her, it was such a treat.

My Grandmother; Her brother George; Her sister Edna

She was a fabulous multi-tasker.. she would sit in her chair, catch the evening news, talk to us, knit and smoke -- all with me in her lap. She was very tolerant of my need for her attention and my adoration of her, lol. She liked her occasional "wee ticky" of scotch when my mother was there to enjoy some too. She drank her coffee black. She would pour a bit into the saucer to cool it and then poured it back into the cup until the liquid cooled enough. I remember the shape of her hands and fingers and I remember holding her hands and pressing my fingertip against the filed edge of her nail. Every morning she had a soft boiled egg and toast with unsalted butter for breakfast. I remember what the egg cups looked like that held her eggs. When we were visiting I would sit and watch her eat her breakfast; I was her company as she got ready to go to work. She always had a box of sugared donuts for us on arrival and chocolate milk.

She was very particular about her likes and dislikes. She loved shalimar perfume. She liked her linens "Crisp" as mentioned in this blog before and had the laundry sent out and delivered back just so. Linens were just something that had to be done right. Lawrence Welk, she never missed that show even if my sister and I wrinkled our noses a lot. Lawrence Welk was no Partridge family or Davey Jones! She had a lot of plants along a very large bay window in the dining room. I remember that apartment.. I would love to have it today, it was a great apartment. She always had the comics there for us from the Akron Beacon Journal and silly putty to stick to it to take up the image. Oh! And she would have me stand and sing for her and the delight in her eyes as I would belt out my current favorite song or something I was singing in the school choir. She liked to be entertained by my sister and I. She had expectations of giving it a try but was very gentle with us when we sucked at what we did. Smile. And the famous Barbie fashion shows. She would buy us clothing for our Barbie's and my sister and I would stage a fashion show and it was like our own personal Academy Awards show.

She lived alone for a great many years. My grandfather and she seperated when my mother was in her teens. They never divorced and I will never know if she found someone to spend her time with, those things were never known or spoken of back then and that is something I simply do not need or want to know. My bet would be no. She was extremely independent and never seemed to suffer for being alone and I think for the most part it suited her just fine. I remember worrying about her being alone and I would cry all the way back to New York just certain she was in pain and suffering for not having us with her or anyone. I have to say that now that I am approaching 50 and I am living alone and have been divorced for about 10 years now, I do not mind being alone, my sister is the same so maybe my Grandmother knew more than we did! She seemed happy, content and she loved my mother, my sister and I to pieces. Later in life after she retired, my grandfather asked if he could move in, she had two bedrooms so she took him as a roommate. For his choices of leaving her, he made restitition by becoming her caregiver after her stroke. He wiped his slate clean in my book and I think my mother's too.
She had a temper... I have one too. Hers was not a horrible temper but a stubbornness that would say very clearly she would not do anything she didn't want to and she would speak her mind. She was very intelligent and I remember she would put my biological father in his place with a set of her jaw that he did not argue with. Too, she was compassionate. I was not his favored child and he was cruel to me on many occasions and she tried to assure me that it was not me but him. She was my life raft. I would have given anything to live with her.

I was a child that made mistakes. I ended up pregnant and married at the tender age of 16. My boyfriend was going into the Army and we would "just die" without each other and so.. eh well, it happens! My mother was livid and I remember hearing about what would their friends think, what would my step fathers boss think! (She does regret that now, it was the 70's). It was my grandmother that put a stop to the stress and let me know clearly that I and my baby could come live with her, no need to be married, no need to worry of a thing and what I decided was.. my decision. Well, I should have gone to her in hindsight, I married the boy I couldn't live without and learned the true definition of Hell. But that is another story!

I do have regrets when it comes to this woman I loved like I did. When I was in Germany as an Army wife, I got the news that she had a stroke. I had no idea what that was and so thought little of it, I was 17 and just did not know these things. What I found when I returned home broke my heart. Her being sick frightened me and I missed so much opportunity and regret so much. Her stroke was massive and left her fully paralyzed on her left side and never to walk again. Her life became a chair with no knitting, and her independence stripped away from her which I think was the worst. Her eyes were sharp, which is cruel too, to be so sharp of mind and a body that kept her trapped. She was moved here to New York with my Grandfather and he took care of her until she had to be placed in a nursing facility. They lived in an apartment nearby and I would see her but not like I should, me of all people. I was in denial, her illness scared me and I had a crappy life with that boy I just had to marry.

The last time I saw her alive was in the nursing home facility. I had not been to visit her in a long time and she was angry at me, something I feel I deserved. She ignored me that day but I could see in her eyes that she was disappointed yet she loved me and I remember the shame I felt all because I would not face my fears and grow up, act like an adult, and so on. I was in my early 20's.. old enough to figure it out I think. I will never forget it, a nurse came in and she introduced her son-in-law, that boy I just had to marry, and did not introduce me. Awkwardly the nurse looked at me then to my Grandmother but in her stubbornness and pride she talked about his accomplishments and having made her a great grandmother. I was effectively put in my place. She gave me years of leeway and I was the one child who should have picked up the slack, we had a bond like no other in my life. I know she loved me and was teaching me a lesson. Because of this I push my youngest, my daughter, not to lose touch with her father as he had moved to another state and has been struggling with reoccuring cancer. I want her to benefit from my lessons.


I wrote the above on the 5th of March and really found myself just missing her badly and could not get through a paragraph without getting weepy. Then that evening I "officially" started on her family tree as that is straight across the pond for research. I installed the beta Rootsmagic 4 (yippie!) and got busy. I entered her into the program and it hit me.. she was buried on March 5, 1984. Ahhhh, Grandma!

The single best thing my sister ever said to me is "When I look at you, I see so much of her..." Now if ever that wasn't the finest of compliments.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

A Taste of Oral History

I had the most delightful conversation with my mothers cousin last evening. I have a huge family I have never met. My grandfather moved to Akron, Ohio from Tennessee and then my parents moved to Rochester, New York. I grew up away from the extended families. And so, I sometimes feel detached. I am a relative by blood and name but I don't have all the photo's or anecdotes of memories. It is not to say we were not close with our Akron family, I spent a lot of time with cousins on my Grandmother's side growing up but the Tennessee family I know what I see on my pedigree chart. I have some articles and pictures but I don't have the experience with them. My mother went to Tennessee once as a child and while she did form relationships with them it was long distance. It is not like I didn't know any of them, I knew my grandfathers two sisters, Ruth and Bertha, they lived in Akron too. So talking to Patsy was an absolute joy.

I expected it to be business about the DAR and Colonial Dames 17th Century. I am in the process of getting my mother, my sister, my daughter and myself into the DAR and the Colonial Dames 17th Century has been a little more difficult to make contact. She gave me helpful information as to what line I want to take into the Colonial Dames as I am a colateral descendent of Ann Lee who married Thomas Youwell. Her father was Richard Lee, who signed the Declaration of Independence. And so I will try to make contact with them again once I get the DAR buttoned up.

What I ended up with from this phone call was a few stories and a smile that lasted all night long. Listening to her talk of my great grandparents was such a treat and she told me a couple of very short stories about David Washington Duncan and Carrie Ann Baldwin Duncan. Carrie is the blood line that goes back to the Revolutionary War and Colonial times.

David and Carrie were living in Atlanta, Georgia for a time. He was a postman on the railroad and he would pick up mail and sort it to be delivered. When McKinley was elected President of the United States, Atlanta began to celebrate. A man stepped from his hardware store and started banging two cast iron skillets together as noise makers. David looked over and decided he liked those skillets. The next day he went back to the store and bought them for Carrie. One Patsy gave to my mother to pass down through the family since Patsy didn't have grandchildren.

Carrie Baldwin Duncan wanted to die on the same day as her husbands birthday/death date, March 24. For days she laid on her death bed and she kept asking what day it was. Those with her would respond, Monday or the day of the week and she kept asking the date. One day she asked the date, she was told it was March 24th, she smiled and closed her eyes and died. Patsy said that Carrie loved David Duncan more than anything and that they had been a happy couple. I find it ironic that he worked so many years around the rail road and it was on the rail road that he died. His car was hit by a train when he was crossing when on the way to a meeting. Patsy said it was figured he was pressed for time, he was on his way to a cattleman's meeting, and distracted so didn't hear the whistle. Carrie hated slang of any kind, a darn or shucks around her was as good as swearing in her book. I wish I had known her.

After talking about so many other things, we left the phone call with what she likes to bake for Pam when she comes to visit. Pound cake with almond flavoring and cookies. She said to use a chocolate chip cookie recipe and substitute chopped dried bing cherries for the chips, or add both. They sound so good! I will have to make them sometime soon. Today I don't feel so deprived of family stories and I look forward to talking with her again and hearing more of her stories.