12 April 1861, 4:30am. P.T.G. Beauregard orders the firing on Fort Sumter. A major historical event, not to mention a major genealogical event. Great numbers of our families were touched, at least in some way, by the Civil War. And 150 years ago that happened. Nothing for anyone in our country would be the same.
I wanted to have something more pithy to say, but the event literally speaks for itself. I just ask everyone to take a few moments to reflect upon the event, and try to consider what it means for them.
I finally got around to buying FTM 2011 the other day. I had my evening clear, and was looking forward to playing with some of the new features it has, and I foolishly assumed that I would be given a link to download it and I’d be on my way. Nope! All the technology Ancestry has, and their flagship product being an online service, yet they have to ship it to me. So I also got to pay extra for the shipping and sales tax (if I could have just downloaded it, since there was no physical item, it would not have been subject to sales tax). I can’t think of a single software vendor that hasn’t gone to downloading software instead of handling physical media. Come on guys. You already have 99% of the technology in place, just a little further…
With every passing day, I regret my “waiting” (I wasn’t so much waiting, I just wasn’t exposed to this “Genealogy” thing) as long as I did to start researching. I have a couple of brick walls that I have found posts on Ancestry or some other site, from people who are writing about some of the very people I am trying to find! But these are dated 1998, 1999, 2002. I’ve tracked down some e-mail addresses, but some get bounced, others just go unanswered.
My 2nd Great Grandmother Augusta (Bewig) Harston (Married Clay O Harston), Great Grandmother Gertrude Harston, my Grandmother Gertrude Florance Harston, and what I am guessing are “cousins” of my Grandmother, taken at “Grandma’s house” in St. Louis. I have a friend in St. Louis that was going to go out the house and take a picture of it form (I have the address). This part of St. Louis is apparently , not the safest anymore. 😦
If I had “caught the bug” earlier, I could worn my Grandmother out of them. Now I am just hoping for some luck (and Google Alerts!)
Ah, Happy Monday….
I was browsing Facebook the other day, and some person I had “friended” (for Mafia Wars no doubt. Yeah, I played it for a while) knew somebody who had lost their six year old daughter after tonsil surgery. They posted a video that they had done for her “Celebration of Life,” and I watched it. Being a “family historian” (it’s only been a couple of years. That “title” carries too much weight to use it already, but I don’t know what else to say), while I was watching it (even though I don’t really know anybody involved, I was moved) I started thinking about my ancestors and how they themselves lost children. I know specifically of two, and suspect a few others, children my Great Grandparents lost in infancy or soon after. Up until fairly recently, this was not an uncommon occurrence (not to the surprise of genealogists). I have a few ancestors who were named after their dead siblings. A hundred years ago, parents lost their young children all the time (assuming a large statistical population). Farther back in history you go, the worse it gets. How did they do it? Nowadays the loss of a young child is a tragedy. In earlier generations, it was almost expected. How did they get past it? I’m emotionally moved by [essentially] a total strangers loss. What would I do if it were my own? It really makes you think.
After my Grandmother passed 11 years ago, things got pretty hectic. My cousin was running the ranch, and Grandma’s house was the closest to the barn (hard enough getting up at 3 in the morning to milk cows, much less have to add a drive to it), and his then wife was somewhat of a “patriarch wannabe.” So before my Mom could get her self ready to “go through Grandma’s house,” said then wife had most stuff moved across the lane into my Uncle’s house and they moved in.
As one can imagine, this caused, shall we say, “issues.” With a few exceptions, most of the the items that were moved are still in my Uncle’s house, and we’re aren’t 100% sure the attic (attic in this case meaning space upstairs that nobody ever got around to turning into a room) is empty. This has been somewhat of a festering sore over the years.
At some point during the previously mentioned time, my oldest Cousin met his current Girlfriend. I can’t say enough good things about her. My maternal Grandfather was from Denmark. She lived in Denmark. She can read and write Danish. She found a living relative in Denmark (she’s into Genealogy as well. Just so you know ). She has even been “pestering” me to get her scans of those pictures my Mom does have.
I say all of this, because I finally made the decision, to make the trek up to Ferndale, and to go through all that “stuff” of my Grandma’s (with my Mom of course), I am going to actually have a face-to-face meeting with this “non-relative” who has made such strides in my Danish linage, and even going to go to the graveyard to see where several generations of my family are (I’m not a “graveyard” kind of person). While Grandma tended to “purge” things as she got older, I know there is still a load of boxes and such, both in my Uncle’s house and in the attic. With all the podcast listening and blog reading I do, I hear of all these amazing family history discoveries folks have made. I just hope I get to be one of them!
Early in our relationship my Wife had told me that she was told that Ulysses S. Grant was a “cousin” of some kind. I never thought much of it, but eventually I got a copy of a letter her Grandmother wrote where she not only mentioned this, but stated the possible relationship: Grant’s father and a particular Grandfather of hers were “brothers.” Haven’t gotten farther than that, but an intriguing puzzle to follow no doubt. First cousin, four times removed or something like that? Yeah, it’s a stretch…
While I never used to really understood the point of “blogging,” because in it’s essence, it is something that nobody really cares about (you just aren’t that important, or most of us least). But it finally occurred to me, I’m just talking to myself (yes, something I tend to do quite a lot). It is basically a journal, just one I need to make sure I don’t put anything in that I don’t want others to know about (surely a major problem! Not). If somebody eventually DOES care, so much the better. But being worried about anybody actually reading this? Pbstpbstpbstpbst!
I’m off to play the lottery. Odds are better.
“All in all you’re just another brick in the wall.”
So Thanksgiving has past, and Christmas is upon us, the holiday that is about thinking of your family, your neighbors, those that are less fortunate, etc. And how do we introduce this “Christmas Season?” Black Friday. Stores opening at Midnight. People trampling one another at 2am just to get a “good deal” on something they or anyone else don’t really need. Stores being evacuated because the Sheriff deputies specifically hired to keep the expected crowd under control, aren’t able to control them. Nothing says goodwill toward man, like a good shopping stampede for a half priced Wii.
One of my fondest memories as a kid was the class Christmas party. But today, kids can’t have Christmas parties, because some people get a stick up their behind regarding religion and school (I didn’t realize that Rudolph, Santa, and baked goods are religious symbols) and have forced schools to either not have them, get creative and spin it a different way (Alvarado Elementary kindergarten has their “Polar Express Party.” Not Christmas, but they at least found something).
Not even traditions like “Christmas in the Park” and neighbourhoods that get together and Christmas displays are in danger or gone, due to budget cuts and general apathy. A great memory of Conner is when he was little all he ever wanted to do was go see the “chrimasights.” Any would do, but those “overboard” displays were always his favorite.
After all the time I have spent researching family history, I’ve come to appreciate family even more than my over-sentimental self already had. And I’ve finally gotten to where the “Christmas Spirit” has been beaten out of me. So for those of you out at 2am on Black Friday, beating up the person in front of you because you want that last Guitar Hero “door buster” at $40; hope it was worth it.