Saturday, July 15, 2017

Genealogy Place Names - A

Silly me I thought it would be a good idea to create a ‘Place Usage Report’ in Family Tree Maker. I didn’t limit the report to direct line ancestors and what I ended up with was 4,434 pages of places mentioned in that huge tree. What to do with that massive document? Since the report is alphabetical I decided to go at it one letter at a time.

I want to share information with my family on, not only, our ancestors but the places where they lived – feeling that those places helped to shape their lives. With hundreds of choices among the ‘As’ how do I choose? I decided to keep it simple. I picked the town (or place – it could be a castle, county, etc.) that came first in the ‘As’ with a direct line ancestor. Then I picked the last place with an ‘A’.
This is how that turned out (my first random choice landed a big fish!):

Aachen, North Rhine, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany (AKA – Aix-la-Chapelle) and dear Grandpapa Charlemagne. 
Aachen Cathedral with Palatine Chapel

According to Wikipedia – “Charlemagne spent most winters in Aachen between 792 and his death in 814.”  This makes me want to stop there on my next trip to Europe – the last time I was in Germany was when I was 4, so I’d say it’s about time for another visit.
Check out the links with a ‘control/click’. 

Ayrshire, Scotland 
Eglinton Castle, Ayrshire
John Beatty 1672-1720 and Lady Margaret Montgomery 1436-1461

John and Margaret lived in Ayrshire in different centuries – but one represents my mother’s family the other represents my father’s family. Their families lived in the same wee county in Scotland and
they met and married in the 20th century in Iowa. How cool is that?
John Beatty arrived in New York in 1691 and almost immediately married Susannah Asfordby, who had arrived with her parents from England in 1674 at the age of five. He just as quickly became a prominent resident of Ulster County, New York and the village of Marbletown. Some sources say he was born in Ireland and others say Ayrshire, Scotland. I somehow hear him with a Scottish brogue. These days it is a ferry boat ride from Ayrshire to Northern Ireland so he may have lived in Aryshire and disembarked for America from Ireland. Hm, I may need a trip to Ayrshire to get to the bottom of this puzzle.
Lady Margaret Montgomery had 18 hints awaiting and her father 23 on the tree. More questions than answers here but then that is part of the hunt. Right?  I can already see the value in the exercise. I’m learning more than my children, no doubt! I wonder what ‘B’ has in store?

Photos:  Aachen Cathedral with Palatine Chapel, Photo by CEphoto, Uwe Aranas via Wikipedia Commons
Eglinton castle ruins, Eglinton Country Park, Kilwinning, North Ayrshire, Scotland. A view from the old stables/offices side.
Rosser1954 at English Wikipedia

Monday, April 3, 2017

Nature or Nurture

 A ship like the Gellert with interiors showing 1st, 2nd, and steerage accommodations. The Gellert is the ship taken to America from Hamburg, Germany by the Timmerman family 30 Oct 1888.
(Photos courtesy of

I’ve been playing with the idea of blogging about what I remember and how I feel; or more specifically, moving beyond the cold facts to a blend of subjective and objective genealogy. It will be my memories of the family added to the more objective facts presented on This genealogy website gives us encouragement in offering a ‘Lifestory’ feature that gives a head-start in bringing our ancestors to life on the page. This Lifestory can be edited, rearranged, and enhanced by personal memories and I've mostly ignored it. Now I hope to put this wonderful feature to use. 
A caveat – my tree is far from perfect. It is a worksheet, a fluid work in progress. Where I’ve done the field work I’m pretty certain it is correct. I’m a big fan of and other genealogical websites and all the documentation they have available – but computerized mistakes have a way of spreading like weeds and becoming part of the genealogical landscape. I’m open to suggestions, corrections, and ideas and in the end I have to go where my gut leads. Will my ramblings be of interest to blog readers or genealogist? That remains . . . as they say.
Yesterday I started with a look at my ex-husband’s family. They are, obviously, not related to me but they are related to three of my children.  Since they are my ex’s family deep emotions are stirred while looking at their tree. It is a large eastern Nebraska family. My children’s great grandfather was an immigrant from Holstein, Germany. He arrived with his parents at age 10 in 1888. Their great grandmother was also from Germany and was born at sea – arriving with her family in 1882. Just think of her mother – leaving her home to travel to a foreign land at the end of her pregnancy and delivering that baby while on the ocean! These families didn’t stop on the east coast, they made their way to Nebraska where there were German speaking farming communities and social clubs that helped them feel at home. These families worked hard to learn English and fit into the American culture, but they were welcomed here in their native tongue. When I went to college in Nebraska I found there was still a fondness for polka – although two world wars had pretty much killed the German language in America.
But wait, my ex-husband’s maternal family is not only NOT related to me! They are genetically not related to him and therefore not related to my children. He was adopted. Do I spend time pursuing a step or adopted family? I knew these people, most not well, but others who have affected my ex, my self, and my children by their love and life experience. Their very existence and life stories were woven into the fabric of our lives. Blended families are a frequent fact these days and how much time you may wish to spend on researching their roots really depends on what significance they hold in your lives. 
As I come back to my genealogy and start with fresh eyes, I can see that my mother-in-law and her family touched my life beginning at age 18 and my life would never be the same. God’s little elves, weaving together the strands of my life at a mad speed, picked up those threads before I could take a breath and the Timmerman, Able, and Steinhauer families were a part of my life’s tapestry.
Tell me, please. Do you research step and adopted families as part of your line?

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Woodland Cemetery - Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
(photo courtesy of by Miriam McDonald)

2 April 2017
I’m home from a Florida vacation with fresh eyes, renewed ambition, and the genealogy bug is nibbling at me. The bug is easily fed by opening my large file to just about anywhere and I’ll find hints in the form of leaves flying in the virtual wind. This time I was given an email nudge from a fellow researcher. I don’t know her other than she is a kindred spirit who belongs, as do I, to and
In this case Rosemary was snapping photos of tombstones in cemeteries in Ontario. (When will I ever get to Ontario? Probably never. What a boon the Internet is to genealogists.) As well as adding her photos to the database at ‘Find a Grave’ she did a search for these particular ancestors on and notified me of the photos she’d posted. How wonderful that she went the extra mile.
The odd thing is that I couldn’t find those ancestors on my rather mammoth three. As of this morning there are 44,228 entries. Subsequently, I wrote back to Rosemary to thank her for contacting me but that I couldn’t find those Canadians in my family. She wrote back immediately saying that these ancestors were on ‘Rachel’s Tree.’ Mystery solved. Over the years I’ve put together family trees for various friends and loved ones and there they sit on my account with little or no attention.
These Canadians of long ago on my friend Rachel’s tree are not my family. The question to myself is – do I spend my time on them or ignore the information and go directly to my tree?  What is the most productive and most satisfying use of my time? (As we get older that is a question we ponder more and more. I had, after all, just turned my Outlander calendar to April 2017 – what time I have left, whether it be less than 1 year or more than 25, is slipping quickly away.) I opted for Rachel’s tree which seems rich with Scottish Protestants who immigrated to Canada in the early part of the 19th century. How exciting. I can see those woolen garbed Scots with their heavy brogue immigrating to the cold north – a climate to which they were not unaccustomed. What adventurous souls. Were they excited? Scared? In awe of what they dared to do?
Rachel, whose tree I hadn’t looked at in eons, had lots of green leaves flying. I dwelt among them with the new information, mostly recent cemetery photos, for a couple of hours doing updates. Later that day as I was walking Beatrice, my Coton de Tulear whose dog ancestors hale from Madagascar, we stopped at Rachel’s for a chat. In her eighties, with no known living relatives, Rachel was delighted and most surprised to hear that a stranger had contacted me about her ancestors long buried in Canadian ground. Soon she’ll come over to take a look at her enriched tree. Was it a good use of my and Rosemary’s time. Absolutely.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Saluting Our Veterans ~ Saluting the Fallen
with the aircraft carrier USS Midway (CV-41) in the background.
(Where Jim's grandparents are buried.)

If you Google a timeline of war, you will clearly see that human beings are warlike creatures, who are constantly in conflict with each other somewhere in the world. Peace is a rare and treasured state that is all too easily cast aside if we feel wronged or threatened. I’m sure you’ll agree that although this is the case, the constant striving to learn, to change, to break that violent cycle and move into a state of balance and peace, where differences can be worked out by non-violent means, is the ideal.

Looking back, though, we are trailed by death and destruction in every era. Even our generations of peace-loving and conscientious objecting Quakers couldn’t avoid getting caught up in the American Revolution and Civil War as the fighting swirled around them. Not willing to take up arms against their fellow man they provided food, supplies, shelter, abolitionist zeal, and medical aid to those who did. Like our Quaker ancestors our most recent generations have chosen not to join the military.  They are peaceful and more interested in the arts than the art of war ‘and I say’ (to quote the Beatles) ‘give peace a chance’ – Good For Them! – It is with these younger generations that we as a human race can begin to break that terrible cycle of war.
Still, humans are aggressive, war-like creatures and no peace is kept without vigilance and for that we are forever grateful for a strong, well-equipped defense.  Looking back on American conflicts we had brave men in most of them from King Phillip’s War to Vietnam.  And, along with them countless women and children were left behind to run the farm and keep the home-fires burning. I’ve drawn up a sampling of veterans from our family history to salute.
Family, I hope you will take a moment on this Veterans Day to thank each of them for the time they served – the men and their wives and children. . .

Ron, Capt. USAF

Lyle B Shaffer Jr, 1 Lt US Army
Lloyd E Disney, Radioman RM3

Lyle B Shaffer Sr – Wagoneer, Hospital Corp (Grandfather)

Civil War
David Shaffer - Union – E.I. Ohio (2nd GG)
William C Cullins – Union, Hospital Corp. (2 GG)
Lorenzo Archer – Union, McKeag’s Battalion, PA, Infantry (2 GG)

William Beer – Union, I 1 PA Cavalry & H & I 2 PA Cavalry (Ron – Great Grandfather)
Charles T Neuhard – Union, D 177 PA Infantry (Ron – 2nd Great Grandfather)

James Hoyt DeLoach – Confederate, D Georgia 61st Infantry, 2nd Lt. (Mike – Great Grandfather)
David Daniel DeLoach – Confederate, Company K, Georgia 47th Infantry Regiment, Private (Mike – Great Grandfather)
Moses J. McElveen – Confederate, Co. D, 5th Reg. Georgia Cavalry, Private (Mike – 2nd GG)

War of 1812
John Cullins – Russell’s Battalion, Ohio Militia, Private (4th GG)
Job Meredith – 2nd Regiment (Evans) Virginia Militia, Private (5th GG)

Post-Revolutionary Volunteers
Matthew Wing – 1st Claiborne’s Regiment, Militia, Mississippi Territory (6th GG)

Revolutionary War
James Draper – 3rd Regiment, South Carolina, Private (6th GG)
George Beatty -  Pennsylvania, Adjutant (5th GG)
Ebenezer Wheeler – 1st Regiment, Massachusetts, Private (5 GG)
William Jay – Pennsylvania, (7th GG)

French and Indian War
Joseph Rogers – 1st Regiment 8th Company Connecticut Volunteers (6th GG)

King Phillip’s War
John Jay and Mercy Bartlett Jay - Civilians

King Phillip’s War  [Just in case you thought New England tribes were peaceful (ala Thanksgiving).]  Our ancestor’s paid for their land with their blood in New England, New York, Georgia, the Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, and Ohio. The natives didn’t go peacefully. Atrocities were committed on both sides. This bloody history was scrubbed from our history books and a much milder version presented to us as elementary school children.

The war [King Phillip’s] was the single greatest calamity to occur in seventeenth century Puritan New England and is considered by many to be the deadliest war in the history of European settlement in North America in proportion to the population. In the space of little more than a year, twelve of the region's towns were destroyed and many more damaged, the colony's economy was all but ruined, and its population was decimated . . . More than half of New England's towns were attacked by Native American warriors. King Philip's War began the development of a greater European-American identity. The colonists' trials, without significant English government support, gave them a group identity separate and distinct from that of subjects of the king.” - Wikipedia

We have many more veterans than those listed above, it is just a sampling. We are left with a deep appreciation for them . . .and the awareness that we are the end result of generations of survivors. These are the men who returned from war to father children and create more generations. And it leaves us with a deep sadness for the thousands upon thousands of bodies left behind, snuffed out, and ended – never to contribute to future generations. To them we owe reverence and respect, sorrow and regret. What would the world be if all the rows of tombstones in all the National Cemeteries were blank? What changes might have been made if Obediah Smith or John Jones had lived? We’ll never know – but we salute you – we survivors. We hope we can do better with our present and our future. Peace.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

On Joining the DAR

Why join the DAR? I suppose there are portions of the population that haven’t a clue what I’m talking about and need this explained, but the vast majority have at least heard that ‘DAR’ stands for Daughters of the American Revolution, an organization first established in Washington D.C. in 1890 by women celebrating their revolutionary roots. These women stepped up to form their own club after being rejected and excluded from membership in the SAR, or Sons of the American Revolution. Now, doesn’t that sound familiar? The DAR has gone on to surpass the SAR in width and depth, in service, fame, and controversy. Both celebrate the American Revolution and our genealogical roots to the founding of our country.
There are articles about the DAR on their website at and various other informational sites, such as and I won’t repeat the information here other than to say it is a service, social, and genealogical organization that came to me with confusingly mixed reviews.  I’m at the beginning of my approach to membership and will chronicle the journey for others who might like to follow.

My personal involvement with the group has a little history. I started doing genealogy with my paternal grandmother when I was 11 years old. She was proud of her family and we spent summers putting together photo albums and talking about the old folks. She grew up in small town Iowa where 100% of the population was white, most of them were farmers or in farm related businesses and anyone who was anybody belonged to a local church, the Masons or Elks or other service group if you were a man; and with a Mason husband you belonged to the Eastern Star. This was her world. It was a world of helping neighbors build or harvest or quilt. It was a world of patriotism and honoring the flag (which you brought in from the rain or snow, and which you never let touch the ground). It was not an era without problems. There aren’t any of those. But it was a kinder, gentler world where there were no locks on doors and neighbors helped neighbors.
I grew up in the city with roots in the Baptist, Democrat, union beliefs of my mother’s family. But, oh did I love my Methodist, Republican, Masonic and Eastern Star grandparents of Northeastern Iowa. I loved the world of small town politics (my grandfather ran for office), ice cream socials, feeding harvest crews, family reunions, and social evenings of bridge.

I must have been a teen when my grandmother handed me a small book containing the genealogy of the Rowland’s  (her maiden name). With it, she proudly announced that I should be able to join the DAR – something I hadn’t thought about previously. Why she didn’t join is a mystery. She was college educated and a teacher with the skills to pursue a membership, but that quest she bequeathed to me. A child of divorce, maybe she thought it would tie me closer to my father’s family.

But then, in my Democratic soul I heard of Eleanor Roosevelt’s resignation from the DAR over their racial attitudes and the shunning of the opera singer, Marian Anderson, and I put membership out of mind as being impossible. My roots run deep on both sides of the family with abolitionists, underground railroaders, and followers of John Brown. How could I be a member of such an organization? It may be why my grandmother didn't join, and she passed to me with the hope that attitudes would change within the DAR.

Of course, the group, spurred by Eleanor and the times has changed and they welcome women of color as long as they have roots in the Revolution; and they have promotional photos sprinkled with faces of various hues. Still, I’m not much of a joiner and membership hasn’t been a priority.  Now, at 71, I’m looking to please my grandmother, who I imagine as watching over me and my long genealogical journey; and to open the way for my daughters and granddaughters to be DAR and my son and grandsons to be SAR if they choose.
After a lifetime of research and building the family tree I find I have many choices from the revolutionary soldiers in the family. Prior to 2012 I’d hoped to join with a line on my mother’s side so that she could also join. Time got away from me, my mother left us, and I still haven’t joined. Now I’m considering a membership based on the Cullins family – really an odd choice as they are not my mother’s family nor are they my paternal grandmother’s family, but instead are my paternal grandfather’s family.

I was amazed at my family’s involvement in the establishment of Ohio after the Northwest Territory opened for development. The Cullins family was one of those pioneering families that moved into the wilderness, coming up from Virginia or what became West Virginia. And, my joining the DAR through this line rests on the fact that John Cullins (listed with the DAR as Cullens) was the first family member I found that had already been established in the DAR genealogy databank. Someone else has laid the groundwork and what I need to do is prove our family connection and voilĂ  I can be a member – or, at least I hope so.
This then, is the beginning of my membership journey.  It has been a mixed bag so far. About 4 or 5 years ago I enthusiastically contacted, via email, a woman in my area (north costal San Diego County) about help in the application process. She was designated as a contact person, but I never heard from her. I let it drop. Then at the beginning of September 2015 I tried once again – pulling a contact off the Internet for the state-level organization. I heard back immediately from the membership chair for the state of California and I thought I was on my way. She promised that I would hear from a local member who could help me with the application.  By the end of September I still hadn’t heard from that local person. This time, instead of letting it drop I wrote that helpful woman at the state level once again. There is a chapter in the city where I live and she tracked them down immediately.

I have now heard from a local person, who has invited me to a meeting at the country club. Figures – I'm afraid I’ll be a poor donkey in the midst of a herd of well-heeled elephants – but this is Oceanside and not San Diego, so we’ll see. The DAR is a genealogical, social and service organization but I can't help but see it in political terms. I wonder if there'll be any other Bernie Sanders supporters in the group?
I want to meet with someone and finish my initial application before venturing into a meeting. We’ll see how this goes.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Vikings in Lincolnshire

It does seem strange how one family demands attention. It is as if the ghosts of our ancestors are saying 'pick me pick me!' They will not be denied.  As of today there are 38,059 people on my tree. In preparing the Christmas project for 2013 it was the Cullins family that pushed to the fore. (Hannah Cullins was my paternal grandfather’s mother.) Throughout this year I’ve added to the Cullins information and I can’t seem to get away from them. sends emails with new hints for our trees. These hints could be for any one of the 38,059 people, although they generally are hints for direct-line ancestors, which narrows the pool significantly.  Still, that is a lot of people. I decided to pick one random hint, do an updated search, and write up a little article for the blog.  It was the Billesby family that was picked out the virtual straw hat. I knew nothing about them but when I looked them up – guess what! – they lead right on down to Hannah Cullins .

Cicely Billesby * (1475 - )
is Sandy’s 13th great grandmother

Your 13th great granJane Langton * (1515 - 1559)
daughter of Cicely Billesby *

son of Jane Langton *

son of Edward Asfordby *

son of William Asfordby *

William Asfordby * I Hon (1638 - 1698)
son of John Asfordby *

daughter of William Asfordby * I Hon

son of Susannah Asfordby *

son of William Beatty * II

daughter of George Beatty *

son of Rebecca Jane Beatty *

William C Cullins * (1825 - 1918)
son of John Cullins * II

As you can see the first Billesby (Billsby, Bilsby) in our family was Cicely born in 1475. Once she married we lost that name, of course, but the DNA flows on down.  So, what of Cicely’s family? It seems that the family of Cicely’s husband, Alexander Langton and the Asfordby family were close, intermarrying neighbors in or around the village of Billesby (now Bilsby, yes it is still there!), Lincolnshire, England. Cicely’s second husband was John Asfordby.

 Lincolnshire, England

These days Bilsby is a 10 minute drive to the beach at Sutton on Sea, or a 2 minute jaunt into the market town of Alford, East Lindsey District.  You can read more about Bilsby at
Here is what I’ve gathered from perusing the online information given for the Billesby family. They were likely not Angles or Saxons, or Norman French . . . most likely, they were settlers who came with the marauding Vikings of Norway.  If you haven’t seen the Vikings series on the History Channel I recommend it, especially to my family.  These are your ancestors, colorfully portrayed. (Another of our lines leads back to Ragnar.)  I’ve watched the first season, but there are two more.  Also, look at this article about the Norman Invasion of England especially the section called Tostig's raids and the Norwegian invasion.

The suggestion that Bilsby (Billesby) was probably named for a Norse goddess, Bil, is another clue that our ancestors were Norwegian settlers. They, of course, didn’t have a 10 minute drive in from the coast, but a few days of trekking would have brought them to the ideal spot for a settlement.  I believe they were there a while before the Norman Invasion of 1066. After the invasion when the Normans were in power they would have granted the Billesby family the land they had already claimed, no doubt, in thanks for aiding in the conquest of England. By the time the Doomsday book recorded Billesby it was a settlement of 18 households.  There was, eventually a castellated and moated house (replaced by the Bilsby House mansion built in 1740 on the same sight). The other dwellings would have been wattle and daub with thatched roofs.

Our family name comes from that first settlement and most likely was of that first land holding Billesby family.  Here is Cicely Billesby’s family tree:

John de Billesby */ (1226 - )
is Sandy’s 21st great grandfather

Your 21st great grandfath
son of John de Billesby */

son of Robert de Billesby*

son of Eudo de Billesby *

son of Richard Billesby *

son of John Billesby Bilesby *

son of Thomas Billesby *

son of Richard Billesby *

daughter of John Billesby *

John de Billesby, born 1226, is as far back as the records go at the moment. That is 160 years after the Norman invasion and 140 years after the village of Billesby was listed in the Doomsday book.  The family certainly had a long history in that area prior to the first of our records. This John was my grandchildren’s 23 great grandfather.  
Lincolnshire is primarily, even to this day, agricultural and life keeps the slow pace of the seasons. Most likely the landholding Billesby's were Medieval landlord famers with tenets working a good deal of the land. For many more generations Cicely’s descendants remained in Lincolnshire. It wasn’t until 1674 that the brave Billesby descendent, William Asfordby, gathered his wife, Martha Burton, and children and left the land their family had claimed six centuries before and headed for America.  You’ll find some interesting facts about this intrepid ancestor at 

Credits: Thanks to and

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Ichabod and ADGD

[There's a song at the bottom!]

Okay, here’s the deal. . . I have this disease called ADGD. The above picture was posted on Facebook by one of my genealogy wielding 3rd cousins, whom I love dearly. It’s meant to be funny (I’d love to give credit for the picture, but I don’t know where she got it). It is in no way meant to poke fun at those with ADD or ADHD. Still I think most genealogists will agree that they have a problem with ADGD, which if you are trying to accomplish anything, can be a very real problem.
At Christmas I promi told my family to expect an “Ohio family-of-the-month” until the workbook I sent them was complete. That would mean I’d need to send one family’s information in January, right? Today is January 30. Yikes! It is a given that January is a very busy month for me in other ways but you’d think I’d be able to finish the Cullins family in short order as it is the one I’d already started. Not done. Of course, there’s plenty of time . . . two days. I have two whole days to work on this. Aren’t I lucky there are 31 days in this month? I have many non-gen things to do but that is beside the point.
Boy have I been distracted. There were several days when I was determined to work on the Cullins. Indeed, they are fascinating people but. . . picture this, I’m sitting at my desk looking at’s John Cullins page on my monitor and then someone walks by me with a steaming bowl of home-made corn chowder. My nose picks up the scent, I sniff the air, my head turns to follow that delicious odor, and I start to float out of my chair. I'm transported out of the 1805 Cullins’ cabin with spoon in hand and feet flapping. Picture, if you will, Ichabod Crane at a party. Yes, it is downright cartoony. Of course, it isn’t literally a bowl of chowder it is more likely a comment someone made on the Oldfield family on Nancy Fidler’s page. (I started this morning with this one.) Since revved up their ‘comment’ section to social media status it has been a banquet of comments (large
enough to cause nightmares), most of which I’ve had to save to look at later (even with the fear that the headless horseman will soon be riding my way).

Or, it could be that I pulled myself back to the Cullins only to find I’ve somehow gotten wrapped up in the fascinating Vassal family (Yum, pot roast with veggies!), landing in the 1600s. Well, who could resist. You probably haven’t heard of Uncle William who, in my opinion, was one of the most significant men to set foot on our soil. For me he has risen to the ranks of Abe and MLK and FDR. So, you can understand why I was pulled away from the good ol’ Cullins.
I’m switching everything over to a new tree. I try to do some of that every day -- it’s a distraction. In December I found my cousin Stephanie’s daughter on Facebook. There’s so much to catch-up on with her (Hm, chocolate cake!). Oh, but she's not a Cullins. And so it goes . . .
I’m really rock ‘n rollin’ with Facebook. Yesterday I added as friends cousin Patty and her daughter on my father’s side (hamburgers hot off the grill!) and the son of my cousin Susie on my mother’s side (the chips – got to love those Lays).
So you can see each circumstance is a delightful bowl of food passing by Ichabod’s nose.  Old Ic definitely has ADGD. There is no end to the work you can do on your family history. It is absolutely endless.  Still there is a great feeling of satisfaction when you complete a project, which is why every month I’ll work to overcome ADGD!

Ichabod and pie – Disney Wiki
The Headless Horseman Pursuing Ichabod Crane, by John Quidor, 1858, Smithsonian.
Turn, Turn, Turn - The Byrds, embryonicsoul,
YouTube GVmota

Monday, January 20, 2014

Saddling Up the Horse


It says there have been 34 visitors to my blog so far today and that is amazing as nothing has posted in almost a month. Like everyone I was busy with the holidays. January is an odd one. Welcoming it as a fresh start I try to sort through any files from the previous year both paper and digital to be ready for taxes, have a clean and orderly desk with room in it (!), and a tidy computer with fresh files for the New Year. That is the ideal anyway. I try to have a life in addition to all that but do hope by the end of the month I’ll be ready to rock 2014.
After Christmas Our Ohio Pioneers and the stacks of books had been sent off to family. My copy was still in pieces and there was a very messy guest/assembly room to reclaim. The door was closed on the mess. As of this morning it is accomplished. The book is on the shelf and the room looks great. Guests are welcome once more. So, what’s next?

The book, or rather workbook, is a work in progress. The introduction promised that more information on each of our families would be added every month. "Welcome to the family of the month club!" reminiscent of the fruit of the month, wine of the month, etc. This month it's time to finish the Cullins family of Muskingum County, Ohio. What fascinating stuff! I’ve run into references to Melungeons, a mixed-race group of mysterious origin from Appalachia, mention of Jamestown, and even John Smith and Pocahontas. Good grief, maybe there were vampires back there as well! (Okay, just kidding. If you haven't followed the Twilight series that comment makes no sense at all.)

Are any of these related to my family? I don’t know yet, but what interesting possibilities they present.  There's still a lot of work to be done. Of all the Ohio pioneer families we had this Cullins family is most like the one depicted in Conrad Richter’s Awakening Land Trilogy. They entered Ohio very early and carved out a homestead in the wilderness.
So folks, that’s where I’m at. Just saddling up the horse for a ride through the year. (No, not a literal horse, that beauty at the top of the page isn't mine. I snapped a photo of him while working on Sandy Hikes San Diego, at the lovely and rugged Daley Ranch near Escondido, CA. Two riders were ready to go up one of the many trails best accessed on horseback. Looking further into these Ohio families will be an interesting journey, and it brings up the desire, once again, to travel to Ohio. Today the TrekOhio website posted on Facebook a fabulous winter hike. Check it out!

I received a note on my hiking blog that the musical links were great. There isn't anything relevant to my genealogy work at the moment except that wonderfully cool, mellow music that has been keeping me company - Jack Johnson's album Brushfire Fairytales. Enjoy!

Credits: FlipsterR10 YouTube, Jack Johnson - Drink The Water, Album – Brushfire Fairytales

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Wrapping It Up

For decades, since I first read them, I had an idea. That idea was to share The Awakening Land trilogy with my family; and to develop a family history library of literature that was reminiscent of our family experience. The Luckett family is a fictional composite but their experiences, culture, and life represent our many families who moved into Ohio in the early days, shortly after the Northwest Territory was divided.
For Christmas of 2012 the family library idea kicked off, not with the early 19th century, but with Elizabeth Chadwick’s two historical novels: The Greatest Knight and The Scarlet Lion. Unlike Conrad Richter’s Ohio trilogy these weren’t fictional characters but fictionalized accounts of real people on our family tree – Sir William Marshall and his Lady Isabel deClare who lived in the 12th and early 13th centuries.  These five books, plus the two genealogies I’ve put together make a seven volume start to that family history library for my children and grandchildren.
The 2013 experience also included blog posts that documented my Internet journey into Ohio. This is how the blog post started back on

June 1, 2013:

. . . and so it begins. Our pioneers in Ohio.


Here we are the day after Christmas. That is 54 blog posts and close to 40 books into the mail to the family – including my own self-published workbook.
As in any huge project, there were changes from the initial idea. I realized that sending all four books at Christmas would be overwhelming to readers busily involved with the holidays and the toys they’d just unwrapped. They needed more time to read and digest the books. The trilogy, individually published as The Trees, The Fields, and The Town, to my dismay had slipped out of publication and pulled from library shelves. It seems I was just in the nick of time. Our libraries are less and less repositories for literature of the ages and more and more shelf space for current best sellers. I had to scour the country via Amazon, Abebooks, and other sources to find all the copies I needed – each part of the story becoming more and more expensive. In fact, I’m sure my searching for so many of these hard to find books pushed up the price in the used book market.

By October I had all the copies of The Trees I needed. It was the easiest to find as it, at one time, was read in mid-western schools as part of the curriculum. Since they were early Christmas presents, they were wrapped in pretty paper and tied up with ribbon and off they went to their various homes. The Fields, more scarce in the marketplace, was wrapped and ready to send before Thanksgiving. The Town, for which Richter received the Pulitzer Prize, was the most costly. It is available in more recent publication but expensive and difficult to find in its original version. I’d heard that the story was compromised somewhat by being edited for a modern audience. I didn’t read multiple versions to test this out, but bought the older versions if I could come up with the asking price.

With The Town wrapped and ready to go in December that meant I had the daunting task of finishing, editing, printing, and packaging my Ohio book. After doing the Ohio and 18 county histories and designing and setting up the framework for the actual genealogy I realized it was humanly impossible to include all of the family information. The best I could do was add the information I’d gathered on the Cullins family – that pioneering group I was working when I started the Ohio project. So, the book morphed from a complete and bound book to a workbook-in-progress placed in a ring-binder.

Family Reunion - the workbooks together and ready to send.
Finishing up that huge project was one of the most intense, difficult, and rewarding I’ve attempted. I was happy with the result and hope that it will be, at least eventually, loved and appreciated by each family that received it. In the end it was exactly as it should be – a work in progress.  Over the months of 2014 I will be adding the pioneer families to each of the counties and sending them on to be added to their ring-binders.  In short order, the smaller ring-binder will have to be replaced with a larger version. You know those gifts people send – the wine of the month, the fruit of the month. This will be the family of the month! 
Group Hug!
During the year, in addition to these books and the blog, I read Helen Hooven Santmyer’s (1895-1986) Ohio Town, her autobiographical memoir of Xenia, Ohio. Although we had no family in Xenia it is representative of the development and growth of Ohio towns and is an amazing read that incorporates the memories of her grandmother, mother, and her generations.
2013 has been my Ohio year.

I hope one day to make it there!