The Singer

 

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks topic this week is Music.  The first person to come to mind is Patricia Beck. While I wrote this, I listened to one of her recordings.  Every time I hear her voice it brings tears to my eyes.  It’s like she is still here with me.  I miss her so much! Here is my Godmother’s story.

Pat was my mother’s 1st cousin, and my 1st cousin once removed.  When I was born Pat was 14 years old and lived in Chicago with her divorced mother (my grandmother’s sister) Frances, better known to me as Aunt Fran.  We lived in a suburb of Chicago, Villa Park.  Almost every weekend Pat and Aunt Fran would come out to my grandmother’s house and spend the weekend.  I looked forward to their visits.  They always brought me some little trinket.  Pat had long hair and she would let me brush it and play beauty shop.  Pat was my idol.  She would tell me stories, sing to me, take walks with me, play games with me, and just talk with me.  In other words she paid a lot of attention to me.  She took me places too.  She would take me shopping in downtown Chicago, we would eat in nice restaurants, and she would take me to the movies.  I would spend a week during my summer vacation staying in Chicago with Pat and Aunt Fran.  One time Pat took me to Riverview (an amusement park in Chicago) with her boyfriend.  She didn’t like roller coasters, but her boyfriend did, and he took me on all the roller coasters several times.  Pat and Aunt Fran were good at organizing and holding birthday and Halloween parties.  They would buy all the decorations come out to my house, decorate, and organize the party.  The other kids loved my parties because Pat and Aunt Fran made them so much fun.

Pat had a beautiful voice and sang opera.  She would practice every morning when I was staying with her.  We would not go anywhere until she did her practicing.  She earned a B.A from the American Conservatory of Music in Chicago.  Her non-professional experience included the Lincoln Park Presbyterian Church and M. B. Sachs Amateur Hour in which she won first prize.  Her professional experience included the American Opera Company in Chicago, Board of Education Radio Station, New York City Opera, American Red Cross (Great Lakes Naval Hospital), Muni Opera in St. Louis, Pan American Council in Chicago, Decca Records – Forgive and Forget record.  She won an award at the  Chicagoland Music Festival Contest 1952 sponsored by the Chicago Tribune.  I know that Pat had won a bicycle and it was given to me.  May be it was the Chicago Tribune contest because that would have been about the time that I got the bicycle.  Pat was also fluent in several languages.  She married a man from Columbia South America and they had a daughter.    I remember one Christmas Eve she sang I’ll be home for Christmas and my father played the Organ.  No rehearsal for either of them and it was beautiful.  It brought tears to everyone’s eyes.  I wish that we had a recording of that.  Years later I asked her to sing for my husband as he had never heard her sing.  She said, “Oh, I can’t anymore, it takes practice and I haven’t kept it up.”  After my mother passed away in 1987, Pat became my go to person when I needed to talk to someone.  Pat was my Godmother, and I was her daughter’s Godmother, and her daughter is my oldest sons Godmother. Pat passed in April 2014 at age 81. For Pat’s memorial service her daughter made a CD of her mother’s singing.  She recently made a copy for us.  It’s scratchy because the recordings are old, but it is nice to be able to still hear her voice again.  She was a big part of my life, I loved her very much and she lives on in my heart.

Copyright © 2018 Gail Grunst

The Singer

This a a repeat of a post titled the Godmother from March of 2015.  For today’s post I gave it a new title The Singer.  I wrote about my cousin and Godmother, Pat.  It still holds true today.  I was going to try and insert a clip of her singing, but for that I would have to upgrade my plan here on WordPress.  Sorry, that’s not going to happen today.  But while updating this post, I am listening to her sing.  When I hear her voice, I get tears in my eyes, because I miss her so.  Here is my original post.

March is Women’s History Month and a time for honoring our female ancestors.  Today I am not honoring an ancestor but someone who played an important role in my life, my Godmother, Pat.  Pat was my mother’s 1st cousin, and my 1st cousin once removed.  When I was born Pat was 14 years old and lived in Chicago with her divorced mother (my grandmother’s sister) Frances, better known to me as Aunt Fran.  We lived in a suburb of Chicago, Villa Park.  Almost every weekend Pat and Aunt Fran would come out to my grandmother’s house and spend the weekend.  I looked forward to their visits.  They always brought me some little trinket.  Pat had long hair and she would let me brush it and play beauty shop.  Pat was my idol.  She would tell me stories, sing to me, take walks with me, play games with me, and just talk with me.  In other words she paid a lot of attention to me.  She took me places too.  She would take me shopping in downtown Chicago, we would eat in nice restaurants, and she would take me to the movies.  I would spend a week during my summer vacation staying in Chicago with Pat and Aunt Fran.  One time Pat took me to Riverview (an amusement park in Chicago) with her boyfriend.  She didn’t like roller coasters, but her boyfriend did, and he took me on all the roller coasters several times.  Pat and Aunt Fran were good at organizing and holding birthday and Halloween parties.  They would buy all the decorations come out to my house, decorate, and organize the party.  The other kids loved my parties because Pat and Aunt Fran made them so much fun.

Pat had a beautiful voice and sang opera.  She would practice every morning when I was staying with her.  We would not go anywhere until she did her practicing.  She earned a B.A from the American Conservatory of Music in Chicago.  Her non-professional experience included the Lincoln Park Presbyterian Church and M. B. Sachs Amateur Hour in which she won first prize.  Her professional experience included the American Opera Company in Chicago, Board of Education Radio Station, New York City Opera, American Red Cross (Great Lakes Naval Hospital), Muni Opera in St. Louis, Pan American Council in Chicago, Decca Records – Forgive and Forget record.  She won an award at the  Chicagoland Music Festival Contest 1952 sponsored by the Chicago Tribune.  I know that Pat had won a bicycle and it was given to me.  May be it was the Chicago Tribune contest because that would have been about the time that I got the bicycle.  Pat was also fluent in several languages.  She married a man from Columbia South America and they had a daughter.    I remember one Christmas Eve she sang I’ll be home for Christmas and my father played the Organ.  No rehearsal for either of them and it was beautiful.  It brought tears to everyone’s eyes.  I wish that we had a recording of that.  Years later I asked her to sing for my husband as he had never heard her sing.  She said, “Oh, I can’t anymore, it takes practice and I haven’t kept it up.”  After my mother passed away in 1987, Pat became my go to person when I needed to talk to someone.  Pat was my Godmother, and I was her daughter’s Godmother, and her daughter is my oldest sons Godmother. Pat passed in April 2014 at age 81. For Pat’s memorial service her daughter made a CD of her mother’s singing.  She recently made a copy for us.  It’s scratchy because the recordings are old, but it is nice to be able to still hear her voice again.  She was a big part of my life, I loved her very much and she lives on in my heart.

Daily Prompt: Sing

Generation after Generation

When studying my ancestors, I think about their lives.  I think about the hardships they endured.  What I find was so common in past generations is early deaths, deaths of children or young adults.  When trying to piece together the family of a great-grandmother or a great-grandfather, I’ll find children who died. I find that so sad and think about how the mother must have grieved for her child.  I’ll find young mothers who died in childbirth, young adults who died of influenza, pneumonia, or appendicitis.  Today these kinds of things are very curable.  In so many other ways we have it better than the generations before us.  We have the advantage of modern medicine.  We have the conveniences of dishwashers, microwaves, washing machines, dryers, vacuum  cleaners, refrigerators, indoor plumbing.  We also have things that entertain us such as TV’s, radios, smart phones, computers, and the Internet.  Information is at our finger tips.  Want a book to read tonight? Download an e-book to your eReader.  Need to go to the store?  Hop in your car and your there in a few minutes, no matter time of day or night.   You don’t have to go back very far to remember when there was no Internet, cell phones, electronic games, microwaves, etc.

Socially we have become accustomed to women working outside the home, people living together and having children, abortions, mixed race couples and children, gay marriage, and now we are dealing with transgender bathrooms.  Generations ago no one ever thought about these things.   So it makes one wonder if we are better off today than generations ago.

Back when people didn’t have the conveniences and access to information at their fingertips, their lives seemed simpler in a lot of ways.  Men went to work, and women stayed home to take care of children and house.  Each had their role, and I think for the most part were satisfied.  At least it seemed that way in my family.  I think my mom and grandmother were content to stay home.  They did things to keep busy and save money that is lost today because working women just don’t have time to do it.  They sewed, baked, cooked from scratch, washed clothes in a wringer washing machine, hung them out to dry, and then had to iron them.  They cleaned the house made sure the children were fed, washed, loved, did their homework, and went to bed at a decent time.  They made sure we ate dinner together every night. When they went grocery shopping they didn’t always have a car so they walked and pulled a wagon for their groceries.  Milk and bread were delivered.  If you lived on a farm there was even more to be done.  Come fall they would start canning all the vegetables they grew during the summer months or the fruit from the fruit trees.  My grandmother would make crabapple and grape jelly from the grapes and crabapples in her own yard.  They gave us chores to do to.  It might be the kids that washed the dishes, cut the grass, took out the garbage, shoveled the snow, and whatever else they could find for us to do.   Sunday we went to church in the morning and later that day the whole family got together for a meal, and we just enjoyed each other’s company and talk about the week.  Saturday night might be a night that friends got together and played cards and talked while the kids played.

I think some of the things we have today are nice and I wouldn’t want to do without them.  I do however worry about family traditions.  Even in our small family as much as I try to keep some of them, it’s a losing battle, the younger generation seems like they just don’t value the same things.  We still have holiday dinners and even some Sunday dinners.  But everyone is in a hurry to finish and go back to watching football, baseball, or whatever the sport may be at the moment, or they are looking at their phones and messaging their friends, or on the computer, or playing a video game.  No one wants to sit and have a conversation or play a board game where we can all be together.  I think there will come a time when they will regret it.  These distractions were not around when my parents were here so I actually spent time with them.   I miss them, and I would give anything to have one more conversation with them.

I picture in years to come that there will be no one around to be the one to carry on family traditions and dinners.  Everyone will eat whenever and whatever they want.  They will spend all their time online, texting who knows who, and not know their own family members.  Hope I am wrong!  Only time will tell.

Daily Prompt: Generation

Copyright © 2016 Gail Grunst

 

Our Ancestor’s Spirits

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I never believed ghosts, telling fortunes, or communicating with the dead, but now I feel that I am starting to open up to the possibility.  It all started a few weeks ago when I had a dream about my brother who passed away in January 2015. In my dream he was alive and well.  I said to him, “I thought you were dead.”  He replied, “No, the doctor is giving me shots in the chest.”  I felt so relieved to know that he was still alive and then I woke up.  It felt so real that I wanted to go back to sleep and continue the dream.  I wanted to talk to him.  I wanted to tell him about all the things that have happened over the past 15 months.  Of course, I was unable to go back to sleep and continue that dream.  Over the years, I have dreamed about my parents and grandparents who have passed too, and a few times those dreams have made an impression like this one.  The next day on Facebook in my news feed I see a post that asks,”Have you had a visit from a deceased loved one in a dream?”  It said to find out if it was just a dream or visitation to click here.   I clicked, but it would not go to the website.  All I got was a white screen.  I then decided the heck with this and went on to something else.  Later on I started to think about it again, and went back on-line. I Googled “dream visits from loved ones”.  Well, I got a lot of information.  I read for a while and then went on to other things.  The next day I checked the library catalog to see if we had books on the subject and sure enough there were several books on the subject so I checked out two.  According to what I have read, they try to contact you in dreams, though animals, flowers, electrical things, etc.  Now I’m looking for signs that my loved ones are trying to contact me.  It would be just like my brother to contact me through Facebook. May be seeing a post about dream visitations on Facebook was a sign from him, letting me know that he did visit me in that dream. I’ve read that there are many signs all the time, but if we aren’t looking for it we won’t see them.  Well, I’ve been looking and a little disappointed that nothing has happened since the dream.

Carole J. Obley, a medium, writes in her book I’m still with you, “If a client or someone in his family is doing family genealogy, this will also be mentioned as proof that they are aware of the fact.  Sometimes spirits will assist in tracing the family tree by offering suggestions on where to find critical information.  One of my male clients had numerous relatives come through with very specific messages; in fact, his session probably holds the record for the number of names received in one sitting — not to mention the amount of evidential material these talkative spirits delivered.  Halfway through the session, I commented on how many people showed up to speak with him.  He laughed, adding that he’d written 40 books about his family tree!”[1]

Thinking about Ancestors wanting us to find them, reminded me of an experience I had a few years ago.  I went to a cemetery where my great-grandfather is buried.  I never knew him, my father never knew him.  In fact, my father only knew his name, that’s all.  I had very little information to go on when trying to find this man, and I was having a hard time finding him.  When I went to the cemetery, I wasn’t sure if this person was my great-grandfather or some one with the same name.  I went to the cemetery office to find out where his grave was located.  The man helping me pulled a book off the shelf and opened it right to the page that had my great grandfather’s name. We both were surprised and kind of laughed at the coincident. He told me where his grave was located, but said it did not have a tombstone.  I asked if there was information in the book as to next of kin or anything, and he said no.  I then thought if I could find out who paid for the lot it could  give me a lead.  I asked who owned the lot.  The man said that information was in another book, and he proceeds to get another book off the shelf.  He opens that book up right to page my great grandfather’s name is on.  At that point the man’s eyes got big and he said, “Oh my, grandpa really wants you to find him.”  It turned out that the grave was a pauper’s grave paid for by the State of Illinois.  After all that, I still didn’t know if it was my great-grandfather.  I have since found out that it is him.  So was that great-grandpa trying to tell me it was him?  I don’t know, but I am starting to wonder more about these kind of things.  Since I have always been a skeptic, I’m wondering if this is old age setting in, or am I losing my mind?

I have always felt disappointed that my current family doesn’t care to hear about the ancestors and my latest find.  I am all alone with my genealogy.  I can’t find anybody even a distant relative that is interested.  I had my DNA done through Ancestry.com in hopes of finding a 4th, or 5th cousin working on the same line.  Again a big disappointment.  Now I am hoping it’s true that maybe the ancestors who have passed on do care and are rooting for me to find them!

Daily Prompt: Disappointment

Copyright© 2016 Gail Grunst

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[1] Obley, Carole J., I’m still with you (Winchester, UK: O Books, 2008) pg. 127

Fake Genealogy

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Fake genealogy runs the gambit from fake coat of arms, fake family trees, fake documents, fake bible records, and fake inheritances to name a few.

We had a rare last name so back in 1974 when a company advertised to get your family coat-of-arms for the Manfroid name, my mother could not resist.  Of course it is a fake (see picture). She realized it was fake soon after she got it, when she found that the company would make a coat of arms for any name.  She was kind of interested in genealogy, but never got into it, and this was before I was interested.  When I first started I made many mistakes, one was not citing my sources.  When I learned the right way to do it, I had to go back and document everything.  So one of the first things you should learn is cite your sources, cite your sources, cite your sources.  I can’t say it enough after my experience of having to retrace my steps.  I grew up in the 50’s and 60’s way before the Internet, and before genealogy became a popular hobby.   A girl in my class brought her family tree to school for show-and-tell.  She was related to someone famous in American History.  I remember being so impressed, I wanted to get our family tree done too.  I went home and asked my  mother if we could get ours done, and she said, “It’s too expensive.”  Then later after I was married, a relative of my husbands showed me a family tree she had done on her father’s side (not related to my husband) and it went back to the Mayflower.  I was again so impressed. Now it seems a lot of people are into searching for the ancestors and with the Internet it does make it easier,  but you need to be careful.  If you find your family tree on-line, check out their sources and make sure that they are correct and do belong to your ancestor, not someone else.  Do not believe everything that is in print.  There is a famous author of fake genealogies, Gustav Anjou.  Many of his genealogies are online and in reputable libraries. Some fraudulent genealogists will connect you to royalty, someone famous, or the long-lost inheritance for the right price.

Some teachers in our area give an assignment to do a family tree to their students.   I’ve had mothers come into the library to fill in a five generation pedigree chart for their kids, and expecting to find it all on-line.  They may have one or two generations filled in and when they can’t find it online, they get all frustrated and say they are just going to make it up.  I guess the more generations they fill in the better their grade.  This assignment makes me so irate!  The teacher has no idea how difficult it is to fill in  complete five generation chart.  Year after year they give this assignment, and I wish they would stop.

Doing genealogy right requires patience and time.  Most of the time you search for hours, days, weeks, months, and years before you find your answer and that usually leads to another question and on and on it goes.That’s what makes it fun!  No quick answers like on TV, sorry!

Daily Prompt: Fake

Copyright © 2012 Gail Grunst

 

 

Finding your Ancestors in the Newspapers.

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Do you use the Newspaper Archives to search for your ancestors? You should it’s a gold mine.  I subscribe to Genealogy Bank, and I can get the Newspaper Archives at my library.  Check with your local library to see if you can get access to the Newspaper Archives, Genealogy Bank, or any others.  Some libraries have their own town newspapers digitized so make sure to check with each library in the towns that your ancestor’s lived.   The Library of Congress has digitized newspapers from around the country and it is free to search so check out Chronicling America. I’m really hooked on looking for my ancestors in the newspapers.  You never know what tidbit you will find.

At first I thought mainly of Obituaries which are a wonderful genealogy resource. Obituaries can give you names of the deceased’s husband, children, grandchildren, brothers, sisters, and parents to name a few.  Also, the date and place of birth, date and place of marriage, name of their church, school, and employment.  Then on the other hand it may say “Tom died on May 5” and that’s all, but at least you get a death date.  However, beyond the obituaries, there are marriage announcements, birth announcements, and everything in between.  If they played a sport, or belonged to a lodge, you might find them mentioned in the newspaper.

I have been able to piece together parts of my ancestor’s lives this way.  I found an ancestor who was a doctor and performed an abortion in the 1920’s . The lady died, and he was charged with her death, but was acquitted. A couple of years later he was hit by a car.  Another ancestor was director of the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, and he was in the news quite a bit.  One ancestor lived to be 100 and he was featured in the newspaper article with his picture.  I didn’t have a picture of him, so this was quite a find for me.  I found an article about my great-great grandfather getting killed by his neighbor. Also, found that his son accidentally shot himself in the chest.  I’ve found the amount my grandfather paid in property tax and his bowling scores.  An obituary for my great-grandfather said that he had a great-great grandson that was related to Danny Thomas.  I’ve tried to check this out, but have not had any luck so far.  These are just a few examples.  Check it out and see what you can find in newspapers, it may surprise you.

Daily Prompt: Newspaper

Genealogy Can Be Tricky

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Doing genealogy can be tricky.  It can be tricky picking your ancestor out of a list of people with the same name in an index or database.  It helps to know something about your ancestor such as his date of birth, where he lived, died, his wife’s name,  and children’s names.  You don’t have to know everything, but you need one or two pieces of information to pick him out of list of others with the same name.  I like to watch “Who do you think you are” and other genealogy TV shows, but I think they make it look way to easy.  For example, a guest will type their ancestor’s name in Ancestry.com and up pops their ancestor.  Sometimes the name is totally different, but the researcher tells them this is their ancestor.  They never explain how they arrived this conclusion.  I know they don’t show all the research because of time and it would probably bore most people if they went into details.  But I think they should say we put in X amount hours searching for this persons ancestors, it is not as easy as it looks.  Of course this ancestor can now be trace back to some king or an ancestor who did something great.  Since they do not tell you how they arrived at their conclusions, I sometimes wonder if they have done the research, or are they just making it up for good TV.  I’ve been doing this since 1979 before computers and the Internet. It has never been that easy.

When the Internet first came to the library, people would come in and ask us to find grandpa because they heard their family tree was on the Internet, or they wanted a book that listed all of Daniel Boone descendents because their last name is Boone and they were told they were related.  They were disappointed when there was  no book that listed Daniel Boone’s descendents down to them.  I would explain that they needed to start with themselves and work backwards.  They didn’t want to do that because they didn’t want to do the hard work.  They just wanted to find it on the Internet or in a book.

I spent years trying to find my great-grandfather, because he used the name George when his name was Isidor.  I’ve had many a brick walls like that.  You can’t jump to conclusions.  When I have done the research, and I have a lot of circumstantial evidence, I am still hesitant to claim the ancestor without the documentation.  But it seems to me that they do this a lot on the genealogy TV shows.

If you post your family tree on Ancestry.com they will give you a hint by the way of a leaf.  But these hints can cause trouble too.  People think that because the hint has their ancestor’s name it must be their ancestor.  One lady attached my grandfather to her family tree by way of a hint.  For awhile, I thought he was a bigamist because she had him married to someone who was not my grandmother at the same time he was married to my grandmother.  I did  my own research on the other lady he was supposed to married to and found that she was married to a man who had the same name as my grandfather, and was born in September 1896 same as my grandfather, and lived in Chicago the same as my grandfather.  My grandfather appears on the 1930 census married to my grandmother, and the man with the same name also appears on the 1930 census married to this other lady.  If this person had done her research she would have realized she had the wrong person.  Like I said Genealogy can be tricky.  You have to be careful and do your research.  It methodical and takes time, not like what you see on TV.

 

They Came from Faraway Places

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Old German Homestead

All my ancestors came to United States in the 1800’s from faraway places.  They came from Germany, France, Belgium, Scotland, England, and Canada.  The first ones to come to the United States came in 1834 from Scotland, but didn’t stay in the US.  They went to Canada and most stayed there except for my Great-Great Grandmother (born in Canada), came to US in 1865.  Her husband came to the US in 1851 from England.  Both the ancestors from Scotland and England came on sailing ships which meant the average trip took 43 days.  There was usually a lack of food, sea sickness, lack of privacy, and the spreading of illnesses.  Once here they had to travel to their final destinations.

In the case of the Scottish Ancestors, they made their way to Nassagaweya, Halton, Ontario.  They arrived in New York on August 12, 1834 so I assume they were traveling to Canada in good weather.  I also assume they traveled by wagon and possibly a boat to cross one of the great lakes.  They had to travel through wilderness to get to Nassagaweya.  In fact, Nassagaweya was the wilderness back in 1834.

The English Ancestors that came here in 1851 came on a sailing ship too.  Steamships were just starting to be used in the 1850’s.  Their ocean voyage experience was probably much the same as the Scottish ancestors. Again, once here they had to travel to their final destinations.  Some settle in Syracuse, New York, but my direct ancestor settled in Ottawa, Illinois.  I don’t know what brought him to Ottawa other than he had a step-brother who owned a farm near Ottawa.  By 1850 there were trains so he might have taken a train at least some of the way to Ottawa, Illinois, and then maybe by wagon, carriage, or boat.  In the 1850’s he would be traveling though wilderness too.  In fact there were Indian wars going on around that time too.

The ancestors from Belgium, France and Germany came in the 1870’s and 1880’s by steam ships so their journeys were shorter 10 to 14 days.  Still it was quite an adventure even then.

Not only do you have to think about the ocean voyage and their trip though the United States or Canada, but in their home country they had to travel to get to the port of departure.  Most did not live near port city.

I admire what they did not only the travel, but the courage to leave their home country.  What was the chance they would ever go back to see their families?  Probably never!  Today, France, Belgium, Germany, Scotland, and England don’t seem so faraway because of air travel.  I think we should honor those ancestors who were brave enough to leave their homeland, families, friends, and their way of life behind for a new life in a strange land.

Daily Prompt: Faraway

On the street where they lived

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One of the things I like to do, if I can, is visit where my ancestor’s lived.  I like to see the houses they lived in, walk the streets where they walked, and see where they went to school.  If I can’t visit in person, I will look their addresses up on google earth.  But it is best to go there.  One time we were in Lincoln’s home in Springfield Illinois and my husband said, “Imagine we are walking where Lincoln walked.”  Yes, that is true and it’s nice, but I’m more thrilled when I can walk where my ancestors walked.  One time I visited the church where my grandmother was baptized.  Attached to the church was the school she attended.  I never knew my paternal grandmother.  She died six months before I was born.  Some one greeted us at the school door and walked us through the gym and down the hallways to the church office.  All I could think of was this is where my grandmother walked, the grandmother I never knew.  If I had been alone, I probably would have cried a little and let the tears come to my eyes.  In the church office I went through church records to find her baptism and confirmation.  This was the only record of her birth.  She born at home in 1900 in Illinois and no civil birth record was recorded.

I’ve also made several trips to Ottawa, Illinois where my maternal grandmother was born.  I knew this grandmother very well.  She talked a lot about her maternal family and all the information she gave me was spot on.  When I checked out the dates and places, she was right.  She was not sure about her father’s family because her father left her mother, my grandmother, and her siblings when they were small.  But I have been able to find information on her father’s family.  Both her parent’s families lived in Ottawa, Illinois.  I was able to locate both great-great grandparents homes.  I have walked the streets where they lived.  When I was a child, we would visit friends in Ottawa who had a girl the same age as me.  We would go to the corner and play on the school playground.  In my research, I found that a sister of my great-grandfather was principal of that school.  So as a child I played on the playground of the school where my ancestor was principal and didn’t know it at the time.  I had  vague idea that my grandmother’s family was from Ottawa, but of course at the time it didn’t mean anything to me.  Sometimes we would visit with old people, and I had no idea who they were or how we were related.

I’ve been to Amana, Iowa to see where another set of great-grandparents lived when they first came to the United States.  In the museum there, I was able to see a book where they signed their names when they came to Amana.  I also viewed quilts and other items that looked like ones my grandmother had in her home and that  I have now.  We ate in a restaurant and the German food tasted just like what Grandma made.  At that point my grandmother was gone, and I had not tasted her food in years.  But the minute I bit into it, the memories came flooding back.

A couple of years ago, I visited Clark County, Wisconsin where another great-grandfather owned a farm and was unfortunately killed on his farm.  I went to court-house in Clark County and looked at the deeds to get the legal description of the property.  The lady in the court house offered to show me where it was on a map today.  My husband and I then drove out to find it.  I did not know the whole story at the time on how he was killed.  Knowing now that it was on his farm by a neighbor, it would have meant more to me seeing his land.  His house is gone, and a newer one is on the farm, I image that the barns are newer too.  But just the fact that this is where he lived and died, gives me chills. See post from June 13, 2015  John Desens Killed

My husband may like seeing where famous people lived, but give me the towns, streets, houses, schools, and churches where my ancestors lived, that’s what I get a thrill out of seeing.  It’s not just the site of it, it’s the feeling that I get when I am there.  I may have known some of the people or may not have known them at all, but I feel close to them when I walk on the street where they lived.

Daily Prompt: Street

Cursive Handwriting Obsolete

Letter from Aunt Emma 2

Is cursive handwriting becoming obsolete?  Recently, I heard for the first time, they are no longer teaching cursive handwriting in schools.  I asked my grandchildren if they learned cursive in school.  My two granddaughters 16 and 18 were taught cursive in school.  My 13-year-old grandson said, “What’s cursive?”  We explain cursive handwriting to him, and he confirmed that he has not learned it.  Some where in the three years between my 16-year-old granddaughter and my 13-year-old grandson they quit teaching it.  I haven’t heard why, but I can think of a couple of reasons.  They may think it is unnecessary because people now days use computers, tablets, and phones to communicate and are typing on a keyboard or keypad and there is always printing.  So do we really need cursive?   I happen to be old fashion and think they should still teach cursive.  Your signature is unique, and I would think less likely to be copied than a printed signature.

Then the genealogist in me thinks about all the old documents that are handwritten.  Who will read these documents when there is no one left who knows how to read cursive handwriting?  I suppose there will always be specialist around that will be able to do it.  If you find an old letter written in cursive, you could take it to a specialist and have it deciphered for you.  Just like I do now when I find letters written in German, or when I find documents written in old German script, I need to find someone to translate them for me. I think of all the genealogy documents around that will be lost to future generations if they cannot read cursive.   I know genealogy is changing too, and now with all the indexes on-line, it is easier to find someone, than scanning though microfilm reels.  So some things may be typewritten for them, but if you want to look at the original, you will want to be able to read it.  Sometimes when I can’t find an ancestor in an index, and I know he should be there, I get the microfilm and search it.  I have found ancestors this way that I would have missed,  if I believed the index.  In order to do this, I need to know how to read cursive handwriting. I  have kept journals for many years now that are written in cursive.  I guess my grandson and great-grandchildren won’t be able to read them. Maybe they won’t want to, but that’s another story for another day.

I’m a believer that they should teach cursive, but they are not going to listen to me so  I guess only time will tell.  In the meantime, if you agree with me, maybe we should start teaching our children and grandchildren to write in cursive so they will be able to read historical documents for themselves.

Daily Prompt: Handwriting