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Showing posts from March, 2010

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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 along…

Random acts of Kindness

I've heard arguments from my family against posting photographs and information about the family on a public website. Ancestry.com 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, la…

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 Ancestry.com 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. Throu…

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 of…

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. Today, I …