Friday, October 24, 2014

Friday Faces From The Past - Place of Honor


Some ancestor pictures cry out to be placed in a frame and hung in a place of honor. It was difficult to choose which ancestor picture to use, I could easily wallpaper the entire room. This  project was just completed.  I personally know them all, it certainly feels that way.  It's as if I actually met them when they walked the earth.  Research has taught me much about these wonderful people, who they were and what they did. Their personalities speak so loudly you can almost hear their voices.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Motivation - Learning - Sharing

This past March I began a Genealogy Club.  What did I get myself into? Not everyone has the tools for research so I sit with them individually to search for answers. Examples of questions I have faced.

I don't know who my father was. My mother died young and I was raised by an aunt. (We found him  and his grandparents, gr grandparents, etc.)

I believe I was illegitimate. I don't think my parents were ever married.  I was raised by my mother  and her husband. (They were indeed married a year before she was born but died when she was an infant)

I heard my mother came to America with a girlfriend and I would like to know who she was. (The manifest revealed that and more)

When we discussed black sheep I could see by the looks on their faces and their silent voices exactly how they were feeling about this topic. How does one overcome family secrets of long ago and not feel ashamed or embarrassed by them? Once I shared a few of my own they learned that every family has them and suddenly the group turned into true confessions.  I reminded them of the saying "What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, well what happens here stays here.  We all laughed.

We choose a topic such as a wedding, military, tragedy, child, etc. and write their stories and share them with each other during our meetings.  We do a "Show and Tell" and bring in family heirlooms to share.  The items are so heartwarming. Everyone exhibits a sense of pride.

They learned that it is impossible to separate genealogy from history for they go hand in hand.

We have and continue to take excursions, such as to Pilgrim Hall to view an exhibit of samplers, the oldest by Loura Standish, the daughter of Miles Standish.  We learned about gravestones, the meaning of symbols and markers, about the stone cutters.  What does it tell us about the person's life buried beneath?  We will be discussing American Epidemics at our next meeting and did our ancestors fall victim.

 
This picture was recently taken at the gravesite of Francis Davis Millet.  He was an artist and writer who graduated from Harvard.  He was a drummer boy in the Civil War.  He drowned in the loss of the ship "Titanic" on the 15th of April  1910.  One of our members happened to have a copy of one of his paintings,  "The Sheep" and shared it with our group.

So what did I get myself into?  I learned what it was like to be challenged and how rewarding that would be. Helping them find their ancestors, discovering answers to questions that have lingered in their minds and hearts forever, has brought me so much joy, especially when I see the excitement on their faces. 

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Sentimental Sunday - Missing Yesterday

Genealogy is an interesting journey for those of us that wish to find our ancestors. Who were they, what did they look like and how did they live their lives.  It always makes us feel closer to them and ultimately helps us to know ourselves, especially when we find their picture, or find their gravestone because it makes them real, not just a story from the past and we celebrate their existence.

Then we dig deeper to find our ancestors personal stories, what did they contribute to their community, and what did they do for work.  You even find the street they lived on, and sometimes actually have the opportunity to see the house they once lived in. You discover who their neighbors were and most likely they too were ancestors for the trend back then was for family to live near one another. We don't do that today, i.e. transportation. Were they happy?  Were they sick?  Did they live a long life or died young?  Did they suffer the loss of a husband or child(ren).. How did church and faith influence their lives?   It is like we knew them all along. 

So here we are, so many years later, our genealogy books are filled with names and dates, census records, birth and death records, newspaper articles, photographs and anything and everything else we discovered .  The books are busting at the seams for all we have garnered.  Our history neatly tied up and sealed safely away for future generations so they might have the gift of their family history.

So what is the lesson learned? What is not so much the obvious?  What is behind what we have uncovered, revealed or exposed about the good and the bad, the happy and sad, and the successes and failures of those from generations past.  You learn that people really don't change, only time does.  The behavior of yesterday is the same as it is today. That alone may give comfort to some.

As time marches forward places and things have a way of disappearing. Just look around. Grandma's house has been torn down to make way for the new, the oldest buildings in the center of town have made way for the strip malls.  Our children are kept so busy and controlled so they have no time to discover, explore, play make believe and use their imaginations, all so important for personal growth and discovering oneself. Childhood is gone in the blink of an eye.  Ever wish you could have your small children to enjoy once again?

I truly want you to get your education so you can get a good job. Go ahead and make as much money as you can to enjoy all the luxuries life has to offer. I truly want you to do this if you wish .Just don't forget the true gift of life. Remember what is most important.

What I learned and has given me guidance is that time doesn't stand still, it doesn't wait for anyone.  Never miss an opportunity when it is presented to you.  Never say no to an offer to go somewhere with family or friend.  These special moments that would have created wonderful memories may never come again. These are the stories that bring laughter and warm smiles.  These are the stories of love that you want to pass down to your descendants.  Don't look back one day with regret. I won't.

.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Society Saturday, Opium and Southworth Gammons

Southworth Gammons, my 4th great grandfather was born in Middleboro Massachusetts in 1769.  He died on July 25, 1827, suddenly, it is written, by opium. Now that caught my attention and I just had to learn more.

At the beginning of the 19th century, opium was used as an everyday remedy for common ailments. Even President Harrison was treated with opium in 1841.  During the Civil War the Union Army used opium, a predecessor to morphine. They treated conditions such as malaria, known as "ague".

My 2nd great grandfather, Philip Roesch, who served in the Civil War wrote in his diary that he suffered from the ague and was put on a ship with others that were sick.  He wrote, "The person at my head,  and to the left and right side of me rolled over in death, yet I continued to get well".   Now I realize that he too was most likely treated with opium.

Other ailments treated with opium included rheumatism, diarrhea, excessive drinking, and even childbirth.  So now I can include my great grandmothers and great aunts for they too might have treated? Opium was known as "God's Own Medicine".

I wonder how many ancestors were treated with opium and perhaps even died because they became addicted?

The acceptance of opium was so general that societies gave awards for growing the poppy and medical practitioners were among the prize winners. It wasn't until 1879 that a growing number of doctors documented the dangers of addiction with opium use.  It wasn't classified as a dangerous drug until 1920.

So where does this lead us?  Remember the Wizard of Oz and that massive field covered in poppies.  Poor Dorothy, the lion, and the scarecrow all fell asleep. I guess they had a massive overdose of opium. That witch really was wicked. The book was written in 1900, 20 years before opium was declared a dangerous drug. 

Oh well, the Wizard of Oz is still a good movie.  Just close your children's eyes and ears as Dorothy and the gang run across the opium field.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Thankful Thursday, Forrest Has Been Found

In August of 2007, I wrote:  Forrest was rumored to have moved somewhere out west with his wife. We are told that his mother did not like his wife.  When Forrest and his wife wanted to return home due to financial problems, he was told  you can come but your wife, Marie, (marriage 1926) can not.  Forrest was never heard from again. 

For the last seven years I have been searching for my grandfather's brother, my great uncle Forrest. Finally, I have found him, perseverance has paid off.

Forrest was 5'8" tall.  He lived at one time with his wife Marie on 31 Jefferson Road, Scarsdale, NY. It appears that he and Marie had no children.  In 1938 at the age of 37  Forrest, listed as a widower, joined the Merchant Marines. In 1943 he became a seaman on the SS John Catron, a Liberty Ship, working as a wiper right until 1955 to the age of 54 when this search ends. 

A wiper is the most junior crew member in the engine room of a ship. The role of a wiper consists of cleaning the engine spaces and machinery, and assisting the engineers as directed.

The SS Catron ship construction began on September 3, 1942 and launched on July 11 1943.  Its' fate was to be scrapped in 1972.




Liberty Ship Construction began in 1936

In 1936, the American Merchant Marine Act was passed to subsidize the annual construction of 50 commercial merchant vessels to be used in wartime by the United States Navy as naval auxiliaries. The number was doubled in 1939 and again in 1940 to 200 ships a year.
 

 Merchant Marine Act of 1936 The Merchant Marine Act of 1936, provided for establishment of Federal training for merchant marine officers. The U.S. Merchant Marine Cadet Corps was officially founded March 15, 1938 under the auspices of the U.S. Maritime Commission, chaired by Joseph P. Kennedy (father of President John F. Kennedy), a position taken over by Admiral Emory Scott Land.

Initially, training of cadets was given aboard government-subsidized ships under the direction of shore-based Port Inspector-Instructors. In February 1942, administration of the training program was turned over to the Coast Guard, but in July 1942 it was given to the War Shipping Administration.

In 1941, the requirements for appointment as cadet were:
American citizen between 18 and 25
Good moral character, unmarried
Between 5'4" and 6'4," in height
Meet Navy physical requirements
Meet requirements for sight, color perception, speech and hearing
At least 15 high school credits
Good teeth, good feet, good posture
The U.S. Merchant Marines are made up of individuals who work on U.S. civilian-owned American flagged vessels that are responsible for transporting services, goods and people to markets outside the country, for the purposes of commerce.


Duties


An ordinary seaman works two four hour watches a day, seven days a week. His duties include the following:


Upkeep — Painting, cleaning, and polishing of ship bright work; the collection and disposal of garbage; maintenance and repair of various types of equipment
Cargo — Handling ropes and wires; storing and securing of items; assisting with the movement of cargo on and off the ship.
Lookout — Standing watch both in port and at sea.Other Duties — Assisting with any aspect of the ship's operation and maintenance that the superior Seamen or Officers feel is necessary.

In the United States Merchant Marine, in order to be occupied as a wiper a person has to have a Merchant Mariner's Document and STCW certificate issued by the United States Coast Guard. Because of international conventions and agreements, all wipers who sail internationally are similarly documented by their respective countries.

Never willing to give up, I will continue my search to discover the rest of his life. 

Friday, January 3, 2014

Moving On Is Hard To Do

It was six months ago that I lost the love of my Life.  My husband Merrill passed away quietly at home on June 26 2013. Since then, I sold our home of 35 years and moved to a one level two bedroom two bathroom home that is easy for me to care for. It is in a lovely adult community that includes a clubhouse and an opportunity to meet new people and enjoy the many activities, 

There still isn't a day that goes by without shedding a tear.  But I am blessed with four children that give me great comfort.    They have been, and still are, with me every step of the way and I know this has been hard on them as well.  All we can do is love and comfort one another.

I have been diligently trying to put one foot in front of the other.  I dipped my toes into the water and hope to start a genealogy group next month within my new community.  The word is out and it appears that there is a genuine interest among many. I am hoping that will help me resume doing something I genuinely enjoyed and help heal the hole in my heart.

What brought me here today was remembering a poem I wrote years ago.  I would like to share it with you.  It is called.

Eternal Love

Yesterday our love was young
I think of all the songs we'd song
learning of each others ways
What happened to all those lovely days?

Today our love is deeper yet
since the first day that we met.
Four children now throughout the years
along with gladness and lots of tears.

Tomorrow our love grows stronger still
and every day still brings a thrill.
Alone again with memories past
and yet new journey's do we cast.

Into eternity my love went
oh how lonely my days are spent.
Wait for me, I'll join you soon there
our greatest love in heaven we'll share.



Monday, September 16, 2013

Obituary of The Love of My Life


I have strayed away from writing in my blog this year.  Two weeks after celebrating our 50th wedding anniversary, Merrill was diagnosed with stage IV pancreatic cancer.  My heart is boken, life will never be the same without him.  I cry every day.  I haven't had much interest in writing at all for genealogy was something I shared with my husband.  My focus is looking forward to building a new life for myself.  There is always a battle going on within me, heart vs head.  I must listen to my head to make the right decissions for the future.  It became important to me and our children to turn this negative situation into a possitive one for not only us, but for Merrill as well.  On September 28 we will doing a walk in Boston for Unite to Fight Pancreatic Cancer.  Our team has been working hard and have raised a little over $6000.

#1 Have a yard sale
  must clean out 35 years of stuff - done
#2 Put house on market
    sold in four days
#3 Find a new home
    purchased
#4 Pack and move
    in process.
#5 purchase new furniture
    Done

I am just going to write off 2013.  I don't see myself having much if any free time, with moving, settling in, then the holidays and Christmas shopping. 

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Sunday's Obituary - Magdalina


Mrs. Crouch, 93, Dies at LeMars on Jun. 23, 1851
Civil War Veteran's Widow Came to U. S. in Sailing Vessel

LeMars, Ia.--Special--: Mrs. Magdalena Crouch, widow of the late Andrew W. Crouch Civil War veteran, who would have been 94 years old June 23, died Sunday morning here at the home of a daughter, Mrs. Harold Pew, after suffering a stroke Saturday night.  She was the daughter of Mathias Roesch and Magdalina Jehle.

Mr. Crouch, who was the last surviving member of the Grand Army of the Republic post here, died in January shortly before his 96th birthday.

Mrs. Crouch was born June 23, 1851, in Aachen, Germany. She came to the United States at the age of 5 in a sailing vessl with her parents, who settled in Wisconsin.

On September 15, 1871, she was married to Mr. Crouch at Potosi, Wis. The following year they homesteaded 10 miles north of Sioux City in Plymouth county, where they resided until 1901 when they retired and moved to LeMars.

Funeral services will be held at 2:30 p.m. Tuesday in the Methodist church in LeMars, Rev. J.J. Share will officiate. Burial will be in the LeMars cemetery. Her grandsons will be pallbearers.

Survivors are a son, O. W. Crouch, Hinton; five daughters, Mrs. C. C. Hauff, Merrill; Mrs. H. Van Dyke, Sioux City; Mrs. W. F. Douglass, Hampton, Ia; Mrs. A. C. Lemon, Moscow, Idaho, and Mrs. Pew of LeMars; three half brothers, Otto, Charles, and August Roesch, all of Lancaster, Wis.; 19 grandchildren, 19 great grandchildren and a great great grandchild.

Four grandsons and three grandsons-in-law are in the military service. They are Lt. (jg) Dean Lemon and V-12 Student Ralph Lemon, both in the Navy; Maj. Guy H. Todd in France; S. Sgt Richard Pew in England; Sgt Donald Douglass in Pacific area; Pfc. Richard Stillinger and Raymond Hodapp, both in the United States. S. Sgt. William E. Bergman, a great grandson-in-law, was killed May 29, 1944 in Italy.

Magdalina and Andrew Crouch
celebrate their 70th wedding anniversary
with their children

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Wednesday Child - Milton Otto Roesch


Milton was born on October 15, 1902 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin to Otto Roesch and Mary Belle Pierce.  Sadly, Milton died on July 5, 1908 at the age of six.  He is buried in Hillside Cemetery, Platteville Grant County Wisconsin.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Sentimental Sunday - What Makes Me Me

I can't help but become sentimental when it comes to uncovering the secrets that lead to who I am.

Where did that strawberry blonde hair come?  Why do I rub my two fingers together?  Who was left-handed in the family that I take after?  Why does my sister have thick hair and I have thin hair?  What about those idiosyncrasies?  Where in heaven’s name did those come from?

It’s fun to locate pictures of our ancestors, but those pictures are black and white and leave much to the imagination or yet to be discovered.   Certainly no home movies were left behind to validate information.  We can only rely on what an elder in the family remembers or what we find in more current cousins that we meet along the way. 

Only through meticulously researching the past are we able to uncover those long hidden secrets.

Let’s start at the beginning.  I have two children, a son and a daughter that have strawberry blonde hair.  In the winter it is quite auburn but in the summer it lightens up to the strawberry blonde.  My mother’s side of the family had red hair and I always assumed that was where it came from.  My husband’s mother was adopted.  Her birth mother died of TB at a very young age.  After researching his maternal birth grandmother’s side of the family we actually met some of his cousins, who much to our surprise had strawberry blonde hair.  We also discovered from the adoption papers that his maternal grandmother was a southpaw.  My husband was born left-handed but was trained to use his right hand.  Today he is ambidextrous.  Our daughter with the strawberry blonde hair is also left-handed. 

Strange how I rub my first and second fingers together, especially when riding in a car.  Never really paid much attention to it until others pointed it out.  Come to find out my dad performed this habit on a daily basis, and his father before him.  Recently I discovered I have a daughter who also inherited this feat.

These are just a few of the miracles of DNA that I have uncovered.  What can you find?

Names, dates, and places are the first things we discover.  Then we find pictures and cousins, sometimes simultaneously.  Then the personal side of what makes us who we are. Who we look like, the talents, personality, traits and habits we inherit that make us who we are, are some of the most fascinating discoveries of all.

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