Showing posts from 2010

If you can't smile, don't come in.

I woke this morning to a slate-gray sky and cool breezes blowing across my bedcovers. I love to sleep with the windows open and will covet every morning for the next two months until the frost sets in. My mother scolded me as a girl for running around in my bare feet: "Donna May, Dr. Schneider's already told you that you'll catch pneumonia... put some socks on." I'd roll my eyes and make a u-turn back to the bedroom. Why she felt the need to throw Dr. Schneider into the conversation, I'll never know as his office visit lollypops were no match for her oak twig switches. To this day I associate doctors with tubesocks. Winter mornings, I'd sprint from my bed to the livingroom and straddle the floor furnace in my long cotton nightgown and let the warm air fill me like a balloon before heading for the bathroom. Floor furnaces in those days were large natural gas burners with a blower and an iron gate fitted tightly across the firebox, then dropped into a craw

Martha Allen Carrier

August 5, 1692 five residents of Andover, Massachusetts were led to the gallows and, in front of a large crowd of witnesses, hung atop Gallows Hill in Salem for practicing witchcraft. The frenzy behind the Salem witch trials was based on the testimony of three young girls: Abigail Williams, Elizabeth Hubbard, and Susan Sheldon, and reinforced by townspeople who used the accused as scapegoats for their own misfortunes and to escape persecution. Four of the condemned were men, including John Proctor, the main character in Arthur Miller's play "The Crucible." The lone woman was an Andover housewife named Martha Carrier. It is Martha, my 8th great-grandmother, I'd like to honor today. She was born Martha Ingalls Allen in 1643 to Andrew Allen and Faith Ingalls, two of the original 23 settlers of Andover, Massachusetts. In 1674, she became pregnant with the child of an older Welsh servant, Thomas Carrier, who she married. The newlyweds relocated to Billerica. In 1676, the


I worked for JP Morgan Chase a couple of years ago and spent the better part of two years in Bournemouth, England and Hong Kong. While I was in the UK, I drove all over England and Wales (including the Isle of Anglesey) but did not make it north to Scotland. So beautiful. It's all so beautiful. Scotland is next on the agenda, but I'd like to find my ancestor family first and so more research. Today's post will be short and I will leave with a funny story: in November 1997 I decided on a whim to visit northern Wales and so bought an airline ticket, rented a car and leased a self-catered cottage about .5 km from the ocean in Llyngwril (just south of Fairborn). The first thing I found upon arriving at the cottage (which was a renovated dairy barn on a beautiful farm) was that almost everyone in that part of Wales takes vacation in November: northern Wales was pretty much deserted. Which was okay with me anyway. Llyngwril is a very small town with no real market; just a sundr

Showing Honor

Yesterday, I was invited to give a short presentation at the local Family History Center's training session. Although I'm not a member of the church, the members have always made me feel like part of the community. The director of the program asked me to talk a bit about this blog site, which I did, but not from a techinical perspective. The LDS church members are compelled to "seal" family members, be that in this lifetime, or by researching deceased family members and then sealing them as a family in heaven. I'm not sure how to address that concept as I tend to be more pragmatic about the afterlife, but I do think it a wonderful concept and simply the act of researching one's ancestors with that in mind is born out of love and respect. Each time I uncover another family member, I'm humbled by the lives they've lead. In my search for Ellen, I turned toward her husband Alfred's family for clues. Alfred's father, Abner Barrie, married Elizab

Blog Fade

Walt reminds me daily to write, least my site suffer from "blog fade." Rather than summarize the past two months of research, I thought I'd post a couple of paragraphs from a letter from my great Aunt Margaret about her mother and father's family. "I was born Margaret Joiner Barrie on December 23, 1915 to Alfred Barrie and Ellen Hold Barrie in West haven, Conneticut. My father was a machinist who was born in Patterson, New Jersey, but had moved to Canada for a while where he went to trade school two or three years. I did not know my grandfather Barrie, but I do vaguely remember my grandmother, who spoke with a real Scottish "brogue" -- I could hardly understand her. My father came from a large family -- four sisters and four brothers. One of her sisters, Margaret, was a teaher of special education children and had lost her arm as a young girl climbing under a train. She never married, nor did her sister Anna May, who was also a teacher. These two sist

Time Travel

My 40th high-school class reunion is next year and so recently I've found myself searching through Google and Facebook for those kids with whom I shared the happiest memories of my childhood. From the third grade until my senior year, I lived in Dallas, Texas but moved to California in 1978 after the birth of my son. I'd really not been back since. The first person I found was Judy Bridges. Judy now goes by "Judith" or "Kate" and teaches English and drama at the Hollywood High School of the Performing Arts. She's still beautiful, but I don't know that I would have recognized her had we passed on the street. My recollection is of a willowy 18-year-old with long blond hair and John Lennon glasses. I found her on Facebook: Kate's hair is still blond, but cropped and my guess is that she wears contacts. Since then, other classmates have contacted me with funny stories, remberances prompting me to dig out my old scrapbook. A genalogical dig into m


The past couple of days I've traded researching family for researching resources. General housekeeping such as downloading and printing blank census forms, request forms for military and vital records, updating correspondence records and research calendars, and clearing my family junk file. The latter is the most time consuming, least interesting, but most important. Sometimes when I get a lead from a source not directly related to my parents, I'll throw it in a general research folder. I've learned to attach a post-it note to the item to remind myself where it originated and why I thought it important at the time. For example, the last time I visited the Fayetteville Library's genealogy archives, I found a book entitled "Missouri Pioneers, County and Genealogical Records," compiled and published by Nadine Hodges in August 1973. My maternal ggg-grandfather, Andre Roy is listed as receiving a land claim from Francois Duquette (lower fields St. C-St C.)in Dece


For the past week, I've logged into my blog site and stared at the blank page, thinking. Somedays, the words simply don't come. Still, I think it important to go throught the exercise; sit, paper and pen in hand and let your mind wander. Tonight when Walt came in from work, we debated on what to do with the evening: music? a movie? We opted for a quick to run to WalMart for beer (him) and wine (me) and an evening on the deck gazing out over our "postcard." Postcard is what we call our home. The sight off our upper balcony overlooking Lake Ann is very much what you'd find in the postcard rack of any local Walgreens drugstore: the occasional blue heron skimming the lakeshore. The lone fisherman silently trolling his way to the harbor. We milked the remaining strains of daylight afterwhich he retreated to his music studio to compose and I to the library, to write. I logged onto Facebook instead. Janelle Chandler was online. Janelle and I had been in Ms Trantham&

01001000 01101001

Yesterday's post was all about data. I'd received some information about my great-great grandparents; not information about the person, information about statistics. Names, dates, locations. With one new piece of information, I launched into a full-blown internet investigation researching my typical databases and then turned to my files; making notes, implying relationships and then a study into the history of the community where they were living at that time until I looked at the the clock in the bottom right-hand corner of my computer and noted that it was almost midnight, and I was cold. Walt has refilled my cup of tea twice with a reassurance that I'll be up in 20 minutes. Almost done for the day. That was around 9:30. He's asleep on the couch. A dog under one arm and another laying across his feet, the house is still. For Christmas this year, he made me a picture frame. Two pieces of thin lightly-stained oak bent into a half-circle with a quarter-inch slit alon

Random acts of Kindness

I've heard arguments from my family against posting photographs and information about the family on a public website. doesn't share information about living individuals, and the rest is publically available through city directories, census records and a hundred other sources. Sometimes information I share is of benefit to others. Sometimes, like tonight, a stranger will send me a gift. One of the photographs attached to my gg-grandfather, Andrew Barr, spured a comment from the Pastor of the Seymour Congregational Church in Seymour, CT, the Reverand Greg Dawson. My gg-grandfather Andrew Barr and his brother William became church members; William on January 2, 1870, and Andrew in 1875. This morning (Saturday), he followed up my thank-you letter with a page of additional information: Andrew's wife Jane Hannah, borh January 1856. Joined the church May 1, 1875, Died March 10, 1921 in Beaverdale CT. Buried in the Seymour Trinity Episcopal Cemetary. They were marrie

Obvious Choices

Years ago, I suffered from bad headaches. It was a chaotic time in my life and after spending quite a bit of money on counselors, neurologists and beta blockers, I found that all I really needed was order. Today, my kitchen cabinets are in order: peas, corn and tomatos each in their respective rows. Flour, sugar, and cornmeal are sealed against pantry moths and labled neatly on the front and top of each opaque container in red Sharpie. Each morning, I get up on the left side of the bed, hit the bathroom, then the coffepot and check email. Before bed each night, I dim the lights in the bathroom, pour a full tub of water and add bubbles. I picture the stress and unresolved frustrations of the day draining from my fingers and toes into the bubbles. And then I pull the plug. My little routines still rouse a chuckle from the family. About three weeks ago, my husband was making Saturday-morning waffles. A favorite. I'd emptied the large container of Bisquick into a storage container, l

One step forward, two steps back, step to the side, dip and turn.

You might ask if I research every day. The answer is yes. That doesn't mean that I log into or launch Family Tree Maker every day. If all I do is click on a suggested link and incorporate the findings of one record or integrate a distant cousin's tree into my own, then I'm missing the point. A couple of weeks ago, I started reading a book called "The Worst Hard Time" by Timothy Egan. The book made the New York Time notable's list and was on the "Buy 2, Get the 3rd FREE" table at Barnes and Noble. There isn't anything specific about the Hanson/Hicks family tree in this book, but it does talk about the great dust bowl disaster of the 1930s. On the trip home from Orrick, Missouri after dropping off mom's grave marker, Walt and I stopped by Lampe, Missouri to visit my Uncle Thurman Hicks; one of mom's brothers. He had a box waiting for me full of old photographs. I'd also brought some photographs for him to identify. Thro

Start at the End

When I first started documenting the family tree, I had an advantage. My cousin Belinda had created a GEDCOM, the file type used by most genealogy software packages, and had printed a copy of her research for my mom. Although most of the information from their research was correct, parts were missing. As I read through the names and comments on the printed files, mom launched into stories about one cousin or the next all the while making corrections. I took notes as quickly as I could but realized that, for my mother,the exercise wasn't about documenting facts. Mom wanted me understand these distant relatives and to do so meant putting down my pen. The sweat from the ice melting in my glass of sweet tea lay a pattern on the table cloth as we talked. Her father was Tillman Hicks from Tennessee. A young man who'd made his way to Missouri looking for work, Tillman settled in Orrick living and working on the farm of William J Pigg and his wife, Julia Ann. Julia was the daughter o

Finding Ellen

Sometime in 2000, I was visiting my mother and as we sifted through photographs of long dead relatives I held one in my hand a bit longer than the others. The photo was of my father and his grandparents. As I looked at the photo, my mother retelling familiar stories about my father and his mother and how he danced at their wedding with his mother until everyone had drained the band and the gin, I asked "tell me about the woman in the photo, mom. Tell me about Ellen." "Well, that's Gram Barrie; your father's grandmother. She was English." My father died in 2005 of cancer. My mother passed this last year the day before Mother's Day. But their lives together ended in 1961. Family stories have always been important to me probably more so in light of the lack of aunts and family picnics and Sunday visits to grandparents. Sometime in 2000, I realized that we had family stories. I just didn't know them yet. I started documenting our family history. Toda