Sunday, October 4, 2009

Monday Madness - Rose...Is this you?

There is a story in the Hoover family about an aunt who was found dead, sitting on a rock outcropping found in southern Estill County. In her hand, was the murder weapon - a rattlesnake, dead as well. The story goes that as she was sitting there, a rattlesnake was nearby and coiled. It struck and bit her on the nose. As it did, she grabbed it and squeezed. She squeezed it to death.

This story has intrigued me since I first heard it. The thought of this girl or young lady, dying without family or friends, goes through my mind each time I visit the area where this happened. The rock outcropping is called Standing Stone. During the summer, it can barely be seen through the trees. However, once fall comes and the leaves have been shed, it rises as a monument. During a multi-family reunion, I asked someone if they'd heard that story before. He hadn't, but knew the place well. He told me about one trip with his father. They sat and rested from their hike. As they talked, they heard the familiar rattle that causes a sane person to stop in their tracks. Then, another. And another. Slowly they moved. After the rattles subsided, they peaked under the ledge and found a nest of snakes.

In my research, I've found one aunt that is unaccounted for. One of John Andrew Jackson Hoover and Lucinda Stamper's daughters was named Rose. She was born about 1873 in Estill County. There is no other record of this daughter. There are no marriages for her. No death record. No 1900 Census record. Was this the aunt that died alone on the mountain that day? I hope to find out some day.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

As The Mountain Turns...

When I started my research on the Hoover family of Estill County, Kentucky, I didn't know what to expect.  Would I meet other members of my birth family?  Would they accept me?  Well, not only did they accept me, they shared information and photographs with me willingly, helping me discover the people who made

Charles Cox, a cousin in Kentucky, shared this photograph with me, and what a photograph it is!

According to some family members, this is, reading left to right, John Andrew Jackson Hoover, Sarah Ann Richardson Hoover Reece and Elijah Reece.  Look at the surnames.  See where this is headed?  John and Sarah were married approximately 1857 in Owsley County, Kentucky.  Unfortunately, we don't know the exact date because the courthouse burned.  They divorced and they both remarried.  But this is where this photograph gets sticky.  Elijah Reece is Sarah's second husband.  According to the stories, John and Elijah were good friends, and remained so throughout their lives.

In doing research and paying genealogy favors forward, I shared this same picture with some other cousins.  When I gave their names, I was told that the information I had was incorrect.  It was actually Elijah on the left and John on the right.

To make this even more confusing, I've got this photograph.  Obviously, this is Sarah, but is it Elijah or John?  If it's John, why would she have her picture made with him?  But then again, why would she have her photograph made with her two husbands, past and present?

This and more will be continued....As the Mountain Turns....

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

A Rememberance...

Mary Louise (Hutchens) Jobe Campbell and her son, Tom, Madison County, Kentucky - Circa 1915

Lock of her hair surrounding the photo.

Monday, July 20, 2009

The Greatest Man I Ever Knew...

William Kenneth Elam died at home July 17, 2009. He & his wife, Ardith, lived at the Cloister at St. Henry for over 20 years.

He was born Oct. 9, 1921, the son of William Birdle and Orpha Perkins Elam, and grew up in Vienna, IL.

He enlisted in the Army Air Corps in 1943 where he learned to fly & do aerial acrobatics which he loved. His career was in airplane engine mechanics & served on Guam.

In 1946 he married the "prettiest girl from Iowa", Ardith Howland, who he met at the USO in Amarillo, TX, where he was stationed and she worked for TWA.

In 1949 he enlisted in the Army and served in Korea with the 40th Infantry Transportation Platoon and was quickly advanced to the rank of Master Sergeant.

After Korea, they moved to Calvert City, KY where he worked at Pennsalt Chemical (Arkema) until retirement.

In 1984 they moved to Nashville to be near their daughters.

His great joys were golf, camping, and doing odd jobs for everyone he knew!

He is survived by his sister, daughters and grandchildren.  He was preceded in death by his parents and his sister, Dorothea Elam Passmore.

Memorial donations are welcome to "The First Tee", a character-building golf program for young people.

Rest in peace, Daddy.  We love you.

My Old Kentucky Home...

Believe it or not, nearly fifteen years ago, genealogy wasn't as easy as it is now on the internet.  There was no, was in it's infancy, and there was definitely no GenWeb.  I know this because I was there when GenWeb was born.

*cue the cane and the hearing trumpet*  Back in my, I'm not going to say that.  Wait!  I am!!

There were a few mailing lists out there, mainly ones for states only.  I was subscribed to the Kentucky mailing list and we began to talk.  There had to be a better way to compile genealogy information.  There had to be a central place with information on specific counties.  There would have to be people who were willing to gather, compile or oversee that information.  What came out of that conversation was the Kentucky Comprehensive Genealogy Database Project in the spring of 1996.  The people involved each volunteered to host counties and develop websites for all the information.

By this time, other states were seeing what we were doing in Kentucky and copied us.  The projects began joining and evolved.  What became known as KYGenWeb evolved into USGenWeb.  Shortly after, it became WorldGenWeb as other countries saw the progress we'd made.

Today, there are pages for every county in the United States as well as provinces, shires, etc world-wide.  Some are more detailed than others, but each is great in it's own way.

I hosted Rockcastle, Madison, Estill and Jackson Counties in Kentucky.  I also hosted a few others, but as time became dear, I had to whittle them down to just Estill County.  One of the things I'm most proud of is that we initiated the Estill County Homecoming.  It was an opportunity for online researchers to gather in Irvine, KY.  They could meet with locals and learn where old homesites and cemeteries were.  They were able to go to the Courthouse and get copies of documents.

Am I tooting my own horn?  Just a bit, but there are so many others that gave their time and information to make this  project become what it has.  To every one of you, I give my thanks.

Friday, July 10, 2009

The Wait is Over...

Written 13 Feb 2008, the day after my mother died.


Sometime over the past year, my mother and I talked about dying.  Being a former nurse and having been there at that moment for so many others, she wanted to know how I felt about that.  I told her that it was a blessing.  My answer confused her.  How, she asked, could sitting next to someone dying be a blessing.

I told her that, regardless of religious views, the moment of death, just like birth, is special and I was blessed to be allowed to share that.  I was able to help someone, if by nothing more than holding a hand, at the time they needed someone most.

These thoughts came to me again tonight.  I spent the last 48 hours at my sister's house.  At the bedside of my mother while she was making that last journey.

Her breathing had been unsteady since Friday.  We thought Saturday would be it...then Sunday...then Monday.  My sister and I sat at her bedside until it was more than either of us could take.  We tried to eat.  We watched some tv, all the while, we could hear the "death rattle" of my mother coming through the baby monitor we carried with us.

We tried to sleep some Monday night, my sister in the bed next to her, I was on the couch across the hall.  About every two hours, we woke and talked.  And laughed.  And cried.

I went home briefly and was back for the hospice nurse's visit.  She stayed and talked with us much longer than her usual visit.  When she left, we realized it was because she was waiting for mother to die.  Day turned into evening.  Again, her breathing became erratic.  We called the hospice nurse and she came within 30 minutes.  The three of us sat around my mother. The nurse and I were in chairs, my sister in the bed with her.  We held her hands and, at 10:40 in the evening, my mother took her last breath.  I looked at that hand in mine.  It was the hand that spanked me when I ran into the street and it was the hand that comforted me when the latest cute boy didn't show up at our house.  It was the hand that held mine when I was in labor with my daughter and after my son was born.

I held my mother's hand as she took her last breath.  Through the tears, yes, I was blessed.

Taken the morning of her funeral.  Flowers were
picked that morning at the old home place

Thursday, July 9, 2009

I Got da Fever...

I've been working on getting this site up to speed with everything uploaded.  I've been going through the boring motion of uploading and linking.  Just making sure that the database is the way i want it.  No joy, but just mechanical actions.

I took a break yesterday and was browsing the Kentucky Explorer magazine.  It laid open to a picture that intrigued me.  It was a family portrait that was taken about 1901 or so.  The woman looked at me through the decades.  She "spoke" to me.  She and I looked at each other and I tried to place her.  so familiar.

Suddenly, the names in the caption tore my gaze away.  Sparks.  Cox.  Brinegar.  There was a location, Station Camp.

My attention was pulled from whatever else was occupying my mind and given to the magazine.

Cynthia Sparks Cox.  Coleman Cox.  five of their children, but they were unidentified.  The submitter was asking for help.  A grin spread across my face.  I knew them.  Cynthia was a younger sister to my great-great-grandfather, John Graddison Sparks.

I looked to find the contact information for the submitter and grabbed the phone.  She and I spoke for about thirty minutes and agreed that we'd talk next week when we both could gather our information.  We exchanged contact information and then said good-bye.

I stood up with a huge grin and turned to my family.  I did my trademark "happy genealogy dance."  Don't laugh, you know you've done it too.

The spark's back and bigger than ever.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Germany is Germane to the Situation...

Karl Ruhr.  his wife, Karola Jenke.  Their daughter, Henriette.  Her two husbands, Johan Witt and August Lass.  Her daughter, Emilie.

For years they have mocked my research and resisted any attempts of discovery.  They have rested their graves in Schwenneker Cemetery and kept quiet.

"Grandma?  Where did they come from?"  A one word answer - Germany.

My adoptive mother had gathered quite a bit of information on her ancestors, but this one line stopped with Karl and Karola.  Germany.  Germany was my brick wall and what a wall it was until one day after shelving these people for many years.  I opened a green notebook that my mother complied during the last years of her life.  She had obituaries, deeds, letters.  It was a treasure trove of information.  As I turned the pages, I found bits and pieces that I'd forgotten.

Then, there it was.  Karola's obituary.  I'd never seen it before!  I scanned it for information about this woman that had been such a mystery.  "The place of her birth was Dorf Hartwick, East Prussia, Germany."  No longer was it a one word answer, but a four word mystery.  Where was it?

Next to Karola's was Henriette's obituary.  "In 1883, she was married to August Lass of Grünhagen, Germany, and in 1889 they came to America."  Another place!

I hit the internet at 2 a.m. like a woman possessed.  Dorf Hartwick - no such place.  East Prussia - big place.  Grünhagen - lots of places.  Then I remembered that neither Karola or Henriette learned English.  This would have been translated the way it sounded.  

Back to the internet where i found an East & West Prussia Gazetteer.  Slowly I scrolled through it, picking up what the abbreviations meant.  Suddenly, there is was.  It was about 3 a.m. by this time.  Everyone was asleep except me and one of the cats who insisted it was well past my bedtime.  It was Hartwichs.  In Ostpreußen.  Grünhagen as well.  I quickly went to Google Earth and searched for Grünhagen.  Not Germany any longer.  Sometime between 1889 and the present day, it changed to Zielonka Paslecka in Poland.  Knowing the probable cause of the name change tempered my excitement.  What were the chances any type of record survived?

Within the next few days, I was contacted by a wonderful man who is a professional researcher in Germany.  He offered to research for me and we agreed on terms.  Imagine my surprise when he informed me that the records from that area are now housed in Berlin!

Perhaps Karl and Karola, Henriette and August and Emilie have decided to let their secrets go.

What Infects Someone with the Genealogy Bug...

What causes someone to want to spend hours in a dusty old courthouse pouring through book after book of marriages or court cases? What gets that person to walk through waist-high weeds to find an old fieldstone marker? What causes another person to drive hundreds of miles just to take a photograph?  Genealogy. but what is it that gets us started? What begins that lifelong search for more and more information?

For me, it was three things:

The first was an absolute obsession with anything relating to Daniel Boone.  Fess Parker. Coonskin cap.  That's what started it, but, as things go, I wanted to find more. I went to the library as a little girl and checked out a book on his wife, Rebecca, at least 30 times. Do you remember the old checkout cards in the back of the book? You would sign your name, the librarian would replace that card with a card that had stamped dates to tell you when your book was due back. Yeah, that signature card had my name only on the front and back. I remember telling my adoptive mother that I wanted to go to Boonesboro for my honeymoon the day i found there was a state park there.

The second was a family story. My adoptive mother passed down to me that there was a rumor she was related to the Howland family that came over on the Mayflower. She didn't have any proof, just that story.

The third was being reunited with my birth family at the age of 30. That ignited the fire that had been burning since i was a child.

Through research, I found my adoptive mother's story was true. She wasn't a direct descendant of John Howland, but of his brother, Henry. Boonesboro, Kentucky? It was the center of one branch of my birth family. The rest were just southeast of it. There were ancestors who knew him. and my unexplained lifelong love of the Applachian mountains? I found that's the land of my ancestors. That was "home" for nearly 200 years.

Did they welcome me? Did the old ones guide me back? That's a story for another time.

Dipping My Toes in the Water...

That's what i'm doing.  I'm officially entering the world of blogging with this.  I've done webpages, MySpace, Facebook, etc, but this is the first time I've done this.

I'll be posting more as I rebuild my family's personal and genealogy website.  I've also got a special project in the works, but more on that later.

As for now, hi!  looking forward to meeting new people.