Friday, December 2, 2011

Advent Calendar - December 2 - Holiday Foods

This post is number 2 in a series of 24 for the 2011 Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories.

On the 23th Day of Christmas, I'm supposed to talk about Holiday Foods

Did your family or ancestors serve traditional dishes for the holidays? Was there one dish that was unusual?

One of the best traditions during the holidays happens in the kitchen.  Food binds us together as human beings.  Handed down recipes, memories of dinners of Christmas Past, baking, cooking ~ these are the things that bring us together as family.

Growing up, there were two things we could count on ~ turkey at Thanksgiving and ham at Christmas.  I cooked a Thanksgiving meal this year that would have made John Howland proud.  I had to pick John Howland as he was an ancestor's brother, no other Pilgrim would do.  The one thing I could not remember, though, was how my mother made dressing.  I vaguely remember toasting a whole loaf of bread and there was cornbread, but other than that, I have no memory of her recipe.  Stove-Top Stuffing took the place of that wonderful homemade concoction.  Her hams, to my child-like mind, were the things of legend.  Cloves, pineapple, scored and doused with a mixture of brown sugar and mustard.  The accompanying dishes were the usual, but that ham!  I believe it helped foster my life-long love affair with pork products.

Traditions in my family haven't strayed too far from what I grew up with.  The only different thing we do is Christmas.  Our large meal comes at breakfast.  Biscuits, gravy, bacon, eggs, pancakes, etc.  This was borne of necessity as my first husband and I divorced when the children were young.  He would take them to visit his family after they opened gifts that morning.  I wanted to cook for them so our traditional Christmas breakfast was born.

So, this year, as you gather with family and friends, ask your mother or grandmother about their traditions.  Ask your father or grandfather what they remember.  I bet one of the things remembered will be food.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Advent Calendar - December 1 - The Christmas Tree

This post is number 1 in a series of 24 for the 2011 Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories.

On the 24th Day of Christmas, I'm supposed to talk about the Christmas Tree.

Did you have a real tree, or was it artificial? How big was the tree? Who decorated the tree?  What types of Christmas trees did your ancestors have?

I honestly do not remember a "real" Christmas tree while growing up.  While friends of mine had the scent of pine filling their houses, we didn't.  We always had an artificial one. My first memory of a Christmas tree was a glorious mix of 1960s tackiness.  White artificial tree, blue balls.  While I don't recall the color of lights on the tree, I do remember my daddy stringing blue lights on the evergreen tree in our yard.

We brought in the '70s with an updated model.  This was green!  It looked like a real tree.  Well, except that it had a metal "trunk" and you could move the "limbs" around, looked like a real tree! While the rest of the world suffered with fragile glass ornaments, we braved the new decade with the most up-to-date in Christmas technology - the satin, unbreakable, ornament.  Yes, there were still strands of that old fashioned tinsel, we wouldn't have to worry about our ornaments breaking!
Once I moved away, I was free to experiment with trees.  Every fall, I wandered the aisles of stores suffering from Shiny Christmas Ornament Syndrome.  Through the years, I've had several different decoration schemes.  Burgundy & gold, purple & gold,  Victorian Santa, even Mardi Gras (colors, not masks) .  I admit that I have an embarrassing amount of bins (somewhat color coordinated) with most of the ornaments I've collected over the past thirty years in my supply closet.

Since we moved to the new house, we have two trees.  Since we have a "fru-fru" living room, there is a tree in front of the window so all can see.  We also have one in our basement den.  That area is "country" in design and, as such, so is the tree. 

And now, we've come full circle.  The Christmas tree in the "fru-fru" living room?  White artificial tree.  Blue balls.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Thankful Thursday - Going Back to my Roots

Get it?  Genealogy?  Going back to my roots?  Yeah, I know.....

Today in the Geneabloggers group is "Thankful Thursday" and I want to give thanks for the folks at the Estill County Historical and Genealogical Society.

As most of you know, I was adopted.  I worked on the genealogy of my adoptive family for some time, but met my birth family in 1992.  Shortly after, I began working on that genealogy.  I don't know if it was because it was "new and shiny" or if the family was in an area of the country that held more interest for me.  Maybe it was a bit of both.  Regardless, I was stuck.  I had no idea of anything past great-grandparents.  My situation wasn't one of calling Hoover, Henry, Allen or Sparks "cousins" because I knew of none!

I contacted the Estill County Library and they gave me the contact information for both the Historical Society and the then-President.  Immediately, I wrote to the Society, but made a call to the president.  I explained myself, my situation and what I was trying to do.  I know that small, rural areas are rather close-knit and closed lipped when it comes to outsiders.  I grew up in a small town so I knew the drill; however, I was met with such openness, I immediately knew there was something special about these folks.

As it turned out, the president of the Society and I were related through the Hoover family.  Within 15 minutes of that phone call, she took me back three generations to my 4th g-grandparents.  A few days after our conversation, I received a package from her with family group sheets.  I later received phone calls from various people she'd gotten in touch with on my behalf.  They shared photos and information with me and my files grew!

When I asked her how I could ever repay her for everything she shared with me, she told me, "One day, you may be in the position to help others.  Do that and you've paid me back."

So, for those of you that have enjoyed, learned or found information on a website I've managed, this is how you can thank me. 

Pay it forward.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Now That's a Hat....

I'm absolutely fascinated by the hats the ladies who attended the royal wedding wore.  We've seen all types and styles.

The closest we, as Americans, seem to come to this tradition is Derby Day, in Kentucky

In honor of the tradition of ladies' hats, I share with you a photograph of my great-grandmother, Mary Frances (Allen) Henry.  My birth-mom said that we should not be deceived by the sweet smile on my granny's face.  Evidently, Mary Frances could be hard as nails.

52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy and History - Neighbors

This week's prompt in the 52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy and History is "Neighbors. Who were your childhood neighbors? Have you kept in touch with any of them? Do you feel the concept of 'neighbors' has changed since then?"

I grew up in a small town in western Kentucky.  While it wasn't Mayberry per se, the older I get, the more it transforms into it.  

The one thing that doesn't grow rosier with each year was the relationship with our neighbors.  We had some of the best neighbors - the kind that you hear stories about.

When I read this week's prompt, I immediately thought of our neighbors just down the hill from us.  They had four children, the youngest was just months younger than myself.  From my earliest memories, she and I were inseparable.  I have a photograph of the two of us - we were barely 2 and 3, but there we were in the sandbox my daddy had made.  She was in all the pictures of my birthday parties as I was in hers.    

Walks to school together, bike rides anywhere in the neighborhood, playing in the dying light of days during summer vacation - there we were.

Then, one day, she told me her family was moving to West Germany (yes, there were two then) because her father was being transferred.  We were in middle school by then, but it was like losing part of me.  She would come back to visit each summer and we wrote each other constantly.  I still have her letters!  Stories of going skiing on Spring Break in Switzerland or a track meet in Paris sounded much more adventurous than "I'm going to the Smokies" or "I'm going to Cape Girardeau", when in fact, they were the same distance.

She and I've come together again on Facebook.  It was wonderful finding her and part of my childhood again.

The neighbors on our street and the surrounding ones would come together again and again in times of trouble and times of celebration.  They kept an eye on all the children and, many times, my mother knew of my antics before I ever got home!  

There was a sense of community then; one that's sadly missing from today's society.  While I know my neighbors, I don't "know" my neighbors.  I wave, they wave.  We exchange baked goods on holidays.  We speak while in the yard.  But it's not the same. 

We went back to Calvert City last year when my sister and I took our mother's ashes for burial in Iowa.  We parked in front of our old house.  I can't help but wonder if that community is still there and if it's still Mayberry for the children of Cypress Street.

(I apologize.  I've not written any articles lately.  I started a new job about 6 weeks ago and have been stressed with re-entering the office environment.  Things have fallen into place now and I should be writing much, much more.)

Sunday, June 5, 2011

This is the Face of Genealogy

Henry and Mary Margaret Jane (Pursley) Plowman.  

Henry, in an effort to serve his country, lied about his age and enlisted for the Civil War at the age of 48.  He was classified as disabled due to various diseases contracted during exposure to the weather.

THIS is the face of genealogy.

In response to Thomas MacEntee's post

My post on the photo that started all this

Freedom of Speech or Yellow Journalism

UPDATE - The offending photo was removed from the article listed below.  To see how genealogists are handling this, visit Thomas MacEntee's site.

For those of you who don't know, the 42nd Annual Genealogy Jamboree will be held June 10 - June 12 at the Burbank Airport Marriott Hotel and Convention Center.  While I won't be attending, I have been vicariously sharing the enthusiasm of my fellow bloggers and genealogists who will be.  

Until this morning.

There was an article published on the LAWeekly website regarding this event.  I won't say promoting because that is far from what this author did.  Oh, she did get the dates right, as well as the place.  The name of the event is correct.  However, in what the author obviously thought was humor and what LAWeekly curiously gave the go-ahead to amounts to nothing but yellow journalism in my opinion.  In a world where newspaper circulation has been converted to web page views, she's done her job.

The graphic that accompanies her post is the offending item.  I won't even go into what it is, you can look for yourself.  What that graphic infers are stereotypes that have plagued my beloved Southern Appalachians for over 120 years.

This author did nothing more than what reporters have been doing all along.  Sensationalism sells.  That's how the stereotype of the "hillbilly" began.  She references the Hatfield and McCoy feud.  Thanks to journalists of her type, the lies that came out of the hills during the feud have meshed with truth until people don't really know what was real and what was made up to sell newspapers.  In the process, a whole group of people have become the last group that it is still socially acceptable to malign.  Not even acceptable - it's encouraged.

I remember about 15 years ago, I met someone and that person immediately asked, "You're from the South.  Do you wear shoes?  Do you live in a shack?  What about inbreeding?"  Yes, they were serious.  While I handled the situation with humor, I was horrified that in this day and time, people still thought these things, much less expressed them.

My family came from those hills and hollows.  Most have lived there for over three hundred years.  They came from Scotland, Ireland, England, Germany, Switzerland.  They carried their ideas and traditions with them.  The traditions, many times, were not to trust outsiders.  There were generally between 3 and 5 families that traveled to the new frontier together, hence the dreaded examples of inbreeding.  Some married Cherokee women and pushed further into the "Wilderness".  Some fought in the Revolutionary War.  A few of my ancestors were Overmountain Men.  They found their way through the Cumberland Gap - here's a hint - one of my uncles is famous for it.  Uncles and direct ancestors fought in the Civil War, yes on both sides.  I had three direct ancestors who lied about their ages, shaving off between 10 - 20 years so they could go fight!  That courage, that sense of duty to country cost them their lives.  They made it through the war fine, but they were never able to work again.  During the Depression, some of my family made the drive north to find a better life.  I believe that's called "Living the American Dream."

Yes, we have Freedom of Speech, but with that freedom, there is responsibility.  And with that freedom, there are repercussions.  And you, Skylaire Alfvegren, are feeling them now.

Friday, May 6, 2011

The Sacrifice of Love

The summer of 1961 was a hot one.  She was young, only a few months into seventeen.  She lived with her parents, her sister and brother.  Life was typical in Richmond, Kentucky at that time.  She baby sat and would spend time with her friends and older sister.

He was spending the summer with his sisters.  He was born in Dayton, Ohio, but split his time between there with his mother and in Richmond with his sisters and grandparents.  One sister lived on the Kentucky River and it was a perfect place to spend your eighteenth summer.

They met that summer and began spending time together, but the path of first love is never easy.  We've all been through that first heartbreak.  He got into trouble and left town, not to return for many years.

But you see?  There was a reminder of that first love left behind.  Soon, the realization of what that reminder was became known by the family.  The young girl went to live in Louisville, Kentucky, with other girls that were in her same situation.

The details of that summer, I never ask about.  The details of the following years, I discuss with her at times.  I know that as she worked as a waitress, she would occasionally see a young girl with a family passing through.  She'd study the various children.  Who's eyes does she have?  Does she look like my mother?  Does she look like him?  She was always searching for that lost little girl.

In 1992, I had some heath related issues.  I needed to open my adoption file to see what health problems might be hereditary.  At two in the afternoon on an early Spring day, my doctor called to let me know my biopsy was clean.  At three in the afternoon on that same day, the judge called to give me my birth mother's name and phone number and stated there was a note in my file from her.  The note said that she wanted to meet me if I ever came looking.

In early June, I made my way to Richmond, Kentucky.  I met the woman who gave me life.  I met my sister, my nephew and I even met my birth father's sisters. 

After I spend three days getting to know my new family, my birth mother and I hugged as we said good-bye.  She whispered to me, "Now I feel whole again."

It's been nineteen years since I received that phone call from the judge.  It changed my life.  Most reunions are not like ours.  We're the lucky ones.

Like my birth mother, I feel whole.  I didn't even know I had pieces missing. 

Happy Mothers Day.  The gift you gave me, I treasure.  The gifts you continue to give me, amaze me.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History - Sports

This week, the 52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History prompt is "Week 15. Sports. Did you have a favorite sports team as a child? If so, which one and why. Did your parents follow the same teams? Do you still support the same teams?"

Growing up in Western Kentucky, there was only one professional sports team - The St. Louis Cardinals.  I was raised on that team.  In the days of three channel television and no sports networks, our house came to a stand-still when the Cardinals came on television.  Daddy even scheduled his beloved golf around those weekly games.

My aunt lived in St. Louis and her house was the half-way point to my grandparent's farm in Iowa.  We would stay at least the night and sometimes two as we traveled.  In order to get a bratty five year old out of their hair, Daddy would take me various places.  Sometimes, it would be the St. Louis Zoo, where I remember seeing Marlon Perkins during one visit.  Sometimes, it would be to Grant's Farm where Daddy looked the other way when I sneaked a sip of beer.  During one visit when I was much, much older (eight or nine, at least), my father took me to an entirely inappropriate tour of the Anheuser-Busch Brewery.  Well, inappropriate for a nine year old in my mother's eyes.  I had a good time though!

However, my fondest memories are in Busch Memorial Stadium, the old Busch Stadium (and the only *real* stadium if you ask me).  Daddy and I'd go downtown and make our way to the stadium.  A Coke, hot dog and a bag of peanuts were in order.  Daddy was fond of telling the story of how, when I finished my peanuts, I told him I was ready to go.  I seem to remember them warming up and when they went to the dugout, I thought the game was over.  Either way, it made for a good story.

I don't remember the outcome of any of those games.  When my parents moved to Nashville, Daddy ended his forty year affair with the Cardinals and began rooting for the Atlanta Braves.  Well, he may not have ended it entirely.  I have it on good authority that Daddy still watched the Cards on the side.

I'll admit that I don't go out of my way to watch the Cardinals play anymore, but when I see them on television, I remember my daddy and warm summer afternoons.

Civil War Blog Challenge - Accepted!

Bill West of the blog "West in New England" has challenged all genealogy bloggers to post about their Civil War ancestors for the 150th anniversary of the firing on Fort Sumter and the following four years of war.

Bill, I accept your challenge.  

My direct ancestors who fought during this time were:
  • Daniel Hoover - Union - 8th Kentucky Infantry
  • John Hoover - Union - 47th Kentucky Infantry (Daniel's son)
  • Henry Plowman - Union - 8th Kentucky Infantry
  • Richard Aldridge - Union - 8th Kentucky Infantry
  • Isaac Hickam - Confederate - 48th Virginia Infantry
Relatives who also fought?  Look at the rolls of the 8th Kentucky and the 47th Kentucky.

Over the next four years, I will be blogging about these men, their units and the battles they took part in.  I will walk where they walked, I will stand where they stood.  

And I will share it with you.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Samuel Fox - An Analysis of a Life in Story and Fact

A bright, sunny March afternoon in the foothills of the Appalachians.

Six people, all related, wander the ridges of a familiar mountain in search of the grave of one man.

Two cousins, one documenting facts, one keeping the family stories.

While I'm not directly related to Samuel Fox, he and his descendants weave in and out of my family like narrow back-roads weave along the sides of Barnes Mountain.

I've seen Samuel Fox's name off and on for nearly 15 years as his family was one of the first I added to Estill County's KYGenWeb page when we started the project. Samuel looked into my eyes from 150 years in the past and I was hooked on this family.

What I offer you here is a bit of both - documented facts and family stories.  

In the Fox family, there is a story regarding the ancestor of this Samuel Fox, who was also named Samuel.  When I asked my cousin, Jakie, about this, she sent me the following as it had been passed down:  

"I'll tell you girls a story that my father told me as his father told it to him. Your grandpaSamuelwas born in England across the big sea. Samuel's family was very wealthy and, as a young lad, he used to go down to the docks to watch the ships sail in and out of the harbor. He was kidnapped by slave traders.  They knew his family was wealthybut they did not ask for ransom.  The ship pulled out of the harbor and headed for the United States. Samuel's captors rubbed  grease on him and made him lay in the sun day after day so he would not be easily noticed among the darker skinned slaves. He was treated badly and beaten after trying to escape.  The ship sailed on to the United States......This is your heritage."

Jakie gave me the lineage on these early Fox generations as follows:

Samuel Fox was born in England about 1775.  He married Catherine "Katy" Sizemore in North Carolina.  They were the parents of William, George, Mearinda, Johnny and Martha.

William married Catherine Briggs, likely in Tennessee.  They were the parents of Malinda, Samuel (our subject here), John, Elmyra and William R.

Our Samuel was born 14 June 1821 in Grainger County, Tennessee.  The family migrated to Estill County, settling into the hills and hollows of present-day southeastern Estill County.  He died 11 April 1865 in Estill County, Kentucky.  He married Rutha Barnes and they had four children that survived childhood:  William, George Washington, Diana/Dinah and Marshall Boone.

Samuel was 42 years old when he enlisted as private in Co. E47th regiment of Kentucky Infantry Volunteers on 17 August 1863.  Samuel was a farmer by trade.  He stood only 5' 6" tall and had a fair complexion with light hair.  

Getting word from family was difficult during the war, especially when few in this area could read or write more than their name.  Another family story was passed down:

"Rutha had not heard from Samuel for a long time and was worried, afraid something had happened to him. There was a woman that lived not far from Rutha who could tell fortunes.  Rutha, sick with worrywent to see her, wanting to know if Samuel was still alive. She was told he was still alive and would be coming home soonbut would not live long after he got home. 'Samuel will be brought home by a man riding a white horse and when your husband dies you will marry that man on the white horse.'  Rutha ran home crying and upsetsaying she would never marry again.  Several weeks later Samuel was brought home by a man on a white horse.  He was wounded and sick and had to be helped down from his horse.  Samuel didn't live long after he returned home. He died April 11, 1865.  The man on the white horse was Evan Hunt and he and Rutha married September 19, 1873."

And now the facts/documentation:

Samuel and Rutha (Barnes) Fox were married 02 November 1848 by William Park.  This is recorded in Estill County Marriage Book A, Page 170.

They appear on the 1850 Estill County Census, Series M432, Roll 198, Page 59A.  They are recorded in Dwelling 178, Family 178.

On the census, we find Samuel, age 29, born in Tennessee and working as a laborer.  Rutha is there, age 18 and born in Kentucky.  Their eldest son, William, is listed as 6/12 (6 months) and born in Kentucky. This family was visited on 22 August 1850.  If the birth date given for William is true, he was born about February 1850.

The growing family also appear on the 1860 Estill County Census, Series M635, Roll 365, Page 116.  They are recorded as Dwelling 770, Family 770 and were visited on 27 July 1860.

Samuel is listed as 39 years old and born in Tennessee.  He's again listed as a laborer with the value of his real estate owned as 50 and his personal estate as 30.  Rutha is there as well, listed as 28 years old and born in Kentucky.  The family has grown now to included the four children listed above:
  1. William, age 10, born in Kentucky and attending school
  2. George W., age 6, born in Kentucky and attending school
  3. Dianah, age 3, born in Kentucky
  4. Marshall, age 2/12, born in Kentucky
Diana's birth was recorded as May 1856 on the rolls.  This can be found on the Kentucky Birth, Marriage and Death Records 1852 - 1910 microfilm.  These can be found at the Kentucky State Archives in Frankfort, Kentucky - Rolls 994027 - 994058 for the entire state.  While her brother, George, was born in 1854, I wasn't able to find him on the rolls.

With regards to Samuel's military records, I found where he had signed up for the draft, at age 42, on 1 July 1863 in Irvine, Estill County, Kentucky.  This was found on in the Records of the Provost Marshal General's Bureau (Civil War); Consolidated Enrollment Lists, 1863-1865.  Interestingly, there is another  Samuel Fox listed on the same page as signing up for the draft in neighboring Madison County.  

According to Samuel's muster rolls, he enlisted in Co. E, 47th Kentucky Infantry on 17 Aug 1863.  He was mustered into service on 5 October 1863 in Irvine, Estill County, Kentucky, joining for the period of 1 year.  His attendance, per these rolls, is as follows:

  1. Enlistment / October 31, 1863 - Present
  2. November / December 1863 - Present
  3. January / February 1864 - Present
  4. March / April 1864 - Absent from March 18"/64, Recovering from sickness in Estill County, Kentucky
  5. May / June 1864 - Present
  6. July / August 1864 - Present
  7. September / October 1864 - Not available
  8. November / December 1864 - Not available
  9. Muster-out roll - 
Samuel appears on the Muster Out roll dated 26 December 1864.  He mustered out in Lexington, Fayette County, Kentucky.  According to the documentation, he was last paid up to 31 August 1864. 

After this, according to the family story, he was brought home by the man on the white horse.

Now, this brings us forward to that warm March day.  We found the cemetery and walked from the truck.  There were only five marked graves.  This is what we found.

Samuel Fox's headstone / John Reece Cemetery / Leighton, Estill County, Kentucky.

Rest in peace, Samuel.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Genealogy Adventures - continued

We'd already been to two cemeteries, up and down a ridge and down a holler.  Where would our genealogy adventures take us?  We were headed to a cemetery further into the mountains.

To set the scene for you, Jakie's husband was driving the truck with the cousin we'd "kidnapped."  In the back of the club cab, was Jakie, my birth mom and myself.  As we approached the main road, our cousin's wife (who's a cousin as well, but we won't talk about that) was coming home.  We told her where we were headed and she agreed to meet us there after she put groceries away.

As we discussed where this cemetery was located, I kept thinking, "I know where this is."  We reached the end of the road and made our way to the gravel, one lane road that led to our destination.  As we headed down yet another ridge, I said out loud, "I've been here.  I know where we're going."  Jakie looked at me in amazement.  "You have?"  "Yes.  This is the Sparks Cemetery.  Just further down the road is where I took the picture of the old Reece house. And just beyond that is the cave with the spring in it."

We made our way over the creek and up the hill to where the old barn was.  Our cousin told of working the level spots on the ridge just to our right when he was a boy using a horse and plow.  We stopped the truck and, indeed, this time "Just over there" proved to be...just over there.  Our cousin's wife arrived and off we went.

 We made our way to what appeared to be a small cemetery in a grove of trees.  There were only five markers, but what markers they were.  We were standing in the John Reece Cemetery!  I knew about this cemetery, but had never been to it.  Yes folks, there are a few cemeteries on Barnes Mountain that I've not been to.  We found Jakie's ancestor, Samuel Fox, who served with the 47th Kentucky Infantry during the Civil War.  We found David Reece, another Civil War veteran, along with his son, John Reece.  Making our way through vinca minor covered ground, we were careful not to step on (or in) any of the sunken graves.  We found a Sarah Plowman and in the back, we found the fifth marked grave.  It was dated 1858!  As the six of us stood in various areas, the calls of "Here's another one." rang back and forth.  As we counted and estimated, the numbers grew.  There were at least ten rows of between ten and fifteen graves across.  The length of the graves ranged in size of a baby to an adult.  It was a sobering time, there among the vines and flowers.  To realize that there were relatives and friends that were only known to each other around us made each of us walk with a softer step and reflect on these people who were neighbors, families and friends.

Jakie's husband was asking about the location of the former oil fields that were on the top of the mountain.  A friend of mine and I'd found them years before and I told him that I could direct him there.  Once again, we piled into the truck, minus our cousins/guides.  We drove to the oil field ruins and, as I write this, I'm reminded that I need to take pictures of them the next time I go up there.  You can see foundations as well as old pumps.  As we made our way back to Irvine, we discussed the Granny Richardson School that had been located there, before it was moved to the campus of Eastern Kentucky University in Richmond.

As we came off the mountain, Virgil realized that he had three hungry women in the truck that he needed to feed quickly!  We spent the the last hours of our day at a local restaurant with the best "home-cooked" food that could be found.

Too quickly did their truck return us to the motel I was staying in.  Where had the day gone?  Like so many things, the fun times, the times one anticipates, the day had passed too quickly.

I'm already planning my next trip.

Over the River and Through the Woods....

As an adoptee who has met her birth family, I believe that fuels my sense of home and family in Eastern Kentucky.  Before you fuss at me, let me stress that my adoptive family was wonderful.  I had parents that loved me and an older sister who gave me wonderful advice, whether I wanted it or not; however, finding my birth family and learning about them has given me a sense of belonging that I never knew was missing until 1992 when I met the woman that gave birth to me.

I'll warn you now, this article is going to be a long one.  I usually don't write this much, but this was such a special day, I want to share it with you.

It was this sense of home and hearth that let me up Barnes Mountain once again in March, 2011.  As many of you know, I taught a history class in Estill County for a day in October, 2010.  Part of their assignment was to write a play based on the letters between my 4th g-grandparents during the Civil War.  At the Estill County Reading Celebration on March 18, 2011, a county-wide program was held at Estill County Middle School and this play was presented four times that afternoon.  Although I was only able to attend one of them, the kids did a great job.  

As wonderful as Friday afternoon was, the real treat was going to be Saturday.  Saturday, my birth mother, my cousin, Jakie, her husband and I were going up the mountain.  Jakie was going to show me an old family cemetery and then we were headed to the Hoover Cemetery.  It was a beautiful morning.  The sky was clear and it was warm for the middle of March.  As we drove up the mountain, she told stories I'd never heard before.  We stopped at our first cemetery.  With a swing around the gate, we were hiking up the hill.  Now used for logging, the road followed the ridge.  We made our way to the small, fenced cemetery.  Sunken graves were everywhere with only four marked with the familiar field stones.  The majority of these sunken areas spoke of families who made the hike we just made, only to commit a tiny pine box to ground consecrated with a mother's tears.  A few limbs had come down in the cemetery from the hard winter this area had.  We threw those over the fence with talk about coming back to clean it up further.  As we made our way back to the truck, Jakie pointed out various areas on neighboring ridges and told us who lived where.

We made our way to the Hoover Cemetery and heard more stories.  As we walked around the cemetery, we talked about our family members buried there, either in marked or unmarked graves.  We also talked about the cabin that was on a cousins' property, somewhere in the "holler" below the cemetery.  I'd met with these cousins several years ago.  As with all things in genealogy, it's a bit confusing as I am cousins with both the husband and the wife.  She showed me pictures of this cabin that, as the family story went, was dismantled with the better logs salvaged and rebuilt.  She also showed me pictures of the spring my 4th g-grandmother drew water from.  With regards to the cabin, as the story went, the logs that were used in this cabin were originally hewn by our ancestor, Daniel Hoover, sometime between 1840 and 1860.  It can be pinned down to that time frame because the Hoover family had come to Estill County by June 1, 1840 and Daniel enlisted in the 8th Kentucky Regiment in 1861.  When he returned from service in 1863, he was unable to work.  We stopped by our cousins' house (who lives next to the cemetery) on the way to the cemetery, but no one was home.  While wandering around the cemetery, we saw a truck return to the house.

After we left the cemetery, we stopped again at our cousins' house.  He was outside and we asked if we could go to see the cabin and the spring.  Now, let me preface this and describe where we're headed.  The one and a half lane road that leads to this cemetery runs along a ridge with steep slopes on either side.  After winding a bit along the ridge, the area flattens out somewhat.  This is where their house and the family cemetery is.  When I talked to this cousin years ago, I was told the cabin and spring were just "down the hill."  

Just "down the hill" evidently doesn't mean the same thing to everyone.  We started down what appeared to be a run for water down the hill.  What we found out from our guide was this was the original road to get out of the hollow.  It was hard to imagine a wagon or a sled being drawn by horses making it's way either up or down this thing!  With coon dogs baying at us, we made our way down this 35 - 45 degree slope.  The chickens that were running wild ran off as we jumped across a small stream that was making it's way down the hill.  As we got to the bottom of the hill and entered the hollow, the small stream became a creek that we had to jump over again.  Asking our cousin if we were close, we were told "Just over there." with a vague wave of the hand.  We moved in and out of brush, holding limbs/branches and unhooking ourselves from the various briars.  Another "Are we there yet??"  Another wave of the hand and "Just over there."  More limbs and thicker brush and sharper briars.  Another "Are we there yet??"  Another wave of the hand and "Just over there."  Ducking under limbs, watching for snakes on a warm day, looking up at the ridges on either side of the hollow, but this time, soaking in where we were.  

Suddenly, there it was.  Through the brush and trees we could faintly see a structure on the side of the hill. I started to get this tingling sensation in my hands and arms.  My heart beat a bit faster.  In my minds eye, I could see the ghosts of my family in this place.  Dianah was in the front washing clothes in a kettle on a blazing fire.  Daniel was working with his crops in a clearing or perhaps headed up the ridge to work as a logger.  I looked around as if I expected to see physical evidence of my imagination.

We made our way to the cabin and my breath was taken away.  From what our cousin had told us, when the cabin was dismantled it originally had been just a few yards from where it now stood, closer to the spring.  But to see these logs, to run our hands over wood that our ancestor had possibly run his hands over 160 years ago.  There was a connection there.  There had to be.  

Now, there was one last thing to be done here.  I wanted to visit the spring.  We asked our cousin about it.  We were met with another wave of the arm and another "Just over there."  Jakie and I looked at each other, laughed and we followed him through the woods again.

"Just below that biggest tree" we carefully made our way to the spring.  It was steep and the ground was muddy.  Over time, people had placed stones around and over it in attempts to keep it clean.  We could see that spring was still running as it had for hundreds of years.  

Thanking our cousin for leading us here, we began to make our way back to the truck.  Once we got there, we discussed the location of a cemetery where another of Jakie's ancestors was buried.  Our cousin offered to take us there.  We all piled in the truck again and off we went for our next genealogy adventure.

52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy and History - Spring Has Sprung

In Week 14 of 52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History, we're writing about Spring. What was spring like where and when you grew up? Describe not only the climate, but how the season influenced your activities, food choices, etc.

Spring is nature's way of saying, "Let's party!"  ~Robin Williams

And no one knows how to party like Marshall County, Kentucky, on the first Monday of April.  Regardless of what the winter had brought, regardless of how cold it had been, children of Marshall County knew that April would bring Tater Day!  That's right, folks.  An homage to the lowly sweet potato sprout and a old-fashioned "trade day", the first Monday of April became a local holiday.  Schools were closed and a parade was planned.  There were rides to ride at the park in Benton and Hutchins Bar-Be-Que to eat.  I'm sure there were my dreaded clowns there, but, in the euphoria of corn dogs and funnel cakes, I don't remember seeing them there.

Unfortunately, I only remember going a few times.  My parents would usually take this opportunity to work on our garden.  We owned not only the lot our house was on, but also the lot across the street.  Without a house there, it was ours to play on.  Daddy had built a two story playhouse that was originally used in the Calvert City Christmas Parade in 1969 as Santa's Workshop.  The front half of the lot was more like a park.  We had a fire pit, benches, flowers, a tire swing on a limb of the old mulberry tree.  The back 1/2 of this lot was a garden.  And it was this garden that was the bane of my existence!  Green beans, strawberries, cucumbers, lettuce, tomatoes, corn, grapes.  It was this garden that, later in the year, would prevent me from getting to sleep late.  But it was also this garden, that in a short few weeks, would bring strawberries.  Wonderful, luscious, plump strawberries, which brought homemade / home canned strawberry jam and stewed strawberries.  And those brought warm cornbread and homemade shortcake.

We worked all through the summer and fall from that garden.  Spring producing plants would be replaced by summer and then fall ones.  The canners were in full gear with jams, preserves, vegetables, pickles as well as frozen.  All those cans ended up in the pantry in our basement.  And the efforts of that spring, summer and fall helped feed us through the winter.  

Until it was Spring again.  And Spring brought thoughts of Tater Day, rides and corn dogs, but the realization of helping in the garden and mowing the yard.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy and History - Whistle While You Work

This week in the 52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy and History blogging event is Week 9: Sounds. Describe any sounds that take you back to your childhood. These could be familiar songs, jingles, children playing, or something entirely different.

Whistles.  No, that THAT kind of whistle.  

There were two type of whistles that my sister and I grew up with.  Our mother had us trained like Pavlov's dogs with her's.  Her distinctive short 3 tone whistle could mean anything.  I remember getting separated from her in a store.  I was panicked!  Where was my mommy?!  Then, I heard that familiar whistle!  There she was!  I also remember hearing it when I was outside and she was in...or she was in the front yard and I was in the back.  Wow!  Could that whistle carry!  

Our father now, he was a master of the whistle.  Whether it was a short catcall or one of his favorite Glenn Miller recordings, our daddy was an artist.  And he whistled all the time.  We owned the lot across the street from our house and half that lot was a garden.  He could be heard there as he was hoeing or picking produce.  Doing odd jobs around the house, he whistled.  During hikes on our many camping trips, he whistled.  During good times or bad, work or rest, he whistled.  I remember one day, when I was visiting my parents and he was working outside.  The windows were open and his whistling came through the windows.  If I could name one consistent music of my childhood, it's my father's whistling.

Two very different types of sounds - one very special feeling.  Mother's been gone three years now, Daddy two.  

How I wish I could hear their whistles again.

Why Granny! What a Past You Had!!

Angeline Brinegar.  Beloved daughter of Jacob and Elizabeth (Hughes) Brinegar. 

Wife of Martillus Patton.....and John Henry.....and James Dunaway....and Taylor Sparks.

"Back in my day, we didn't act like that!"  Well, ladies and gentlemen, I'm here to tell you, yes they did!

You see, Angeline Brinegar was my 3g-grandmother.  Neither her exact date of birth or date of death is known.  She was born about 1826 and died sometime between 1900 and 1910.  But it is her legacy through the Estill County Courthouse that will forever keep her in our memory.

Angeline's first foray into the world of matrimony was on December 21, 1841.  She married Martillus Patton in Clark County, Kentucky.  Given that her father didn't sign for her and this was in a different county than where she lived, one can only suppose that our girl decided love would conquer all and she'd have a runaway marriage.  Well, the only thing to run away was Martillus.  Angeline may have been a bit high spirited.  They divorced and he moved to Indiana.

Then came along John W. Henry, my 3g-grandfather.  John was the son of Moses and Elizabeth (Riddle) Henry.  I haven't found a marriage record for them, but do know they were married.  Why?  Read on!  The man-cold must have been to much for Angeline.  In October 1850, John filed and was granted a divorce because "she left me in time of sickness.  She went to her sister's.  I sent a horse there by way of my uncle and friend, but she wouldn't come back!"  Yes, folks...actual words from the divorce.  Anyway, John packed up and went to Indiana.  She was left with two children, Elizabeth Frances Henry and John Speed Smith Henry.  With a name like John Speed Smith, is it any surprise that his nickname was Bud?  But I digress.  Angeline and the kids are listed with her father on the 1850 census.

With the thought "Third time's a charm" surely in her head, Angeline married for a third time on February 26, 1852 to James Dunaway, son of Isaac and Sarah (Rogers) Dunaway.  James and Angeline had one child to survive childhood, Lycortis.  In twenty years of researching, I've never found what happened to James, but can only assume that there was yet another divorce.  She is listed as Brinegar again on the 1860 census.

Perhaps, Angeline decided to fulfill herself in other ways.  On September 4, 1855, she was allowed $12.00 by the Estill County Court  for twelve weeks of nursing and waiting on a cousin, William Melton, during sickness.  Getting paid for dealing with the man-cold was better than being married to someone with it.  

From 1860 to 1873, Angeline took a break from marriage.  Censuses show that she had two children during this time - Dillard, born December 1862 and James (nicknamed Bose/Boss), born December 1867.  According to the 1870 census, their last names are Brinegar, but, on the 1880 census, their last name was Neal.  This leads me to believe that their father was a Neal - unsure if it was the same for both children.  Unfortunately, there are no records to prove or disprove this.  It'll be one of those mysteries that'll be kept until the truth is ready to come out.

This time between husbands (at least her own) did not bring peace because on March 17, 1865, Angeline made another trip to the Estill County Courthouse.  James Maupin requested and received a peace bond against her, courtesy of Judge E. L. Cockrell.

Early fall of 1873, love (or something like it) came along to our Angeline.  On September 27, 1873, she married Taylor Sparks, son of Thomas Sparks and Martha Powell.  

1880 Estill County Census, Irvine, Estill County, Kentucky; Roll 412,  Page 23B - Dated 4 Jun 1880
Above is the infamous census of 1880.  What a story it tells!  Taylor's information is that he was 29 years and a professional gambler.  Angeline's information is that she was 45 and a prostitute.  That's right.  A prostitute.  Now, whether the census taker didn't like her or she took out when Taylor lost in trade, I don't know, but I have never, in this small county, seen anyone's occupation listed as a prostitute.   What is also interesting is Angeline seems to have shaved about 10 years off her age.  Remember?  All other censuses show she was born about 1826.  Yeah, Granny had a past...and was a cougar to boot!  You'll also see, on this census, Dillard and James have the mysterious Neal name showing up.  But, now we get a new mystery.  Mattie Blackwell.  Born about 1876.  She's listed as a child of Taylor's, as is Dillard and James.  Obviously, the boys are not Taylor's, but Mattie is a mystery.  On Mattie's marriage to Isom Ballard, a man nearly 30 years her senior, she lists her mother as Angeline.  There are other sources that list Angeline as her mother, but there is no record showing Taylor as her father.  

It's anyone's guess what happened with this family between 1880 and 1900.  On the 1900 census, Angeline and her son, Dillard, are living together in Irvine.  She lists herself as widowed, but gives her age as 85.  Really, Granny?  Don't I have enough with you to figure out?  Next door is her son James and his family.

Since Angeline doesn't appear on the 1910 census and death records weren't required to be kept until 1911, it's assumed that she died sometime between 1900 and 1910.  Given the fact she was between 75 and 85 (depending on her actual death date), the argument could be made that she died as a result of old age.  But, you see?  There's one last chapter to the mystery that was Angeline Brinegar's life.

In 1901, her son, Lycortis Dunaway believed his half-brother, Dillard Brinegar, was having an affair with his wife.  On that fateful day in October, he took a gun and killed his brother.  He then found his wife and shot at her.  She dodged and he missed.  He then left and shot himself.  Was their mother alive to witness the death of her sons?  This I don't know, but I will be visiting the Kentucky State Archives in March.  Hopefully, I can find an answer.

Angeline has haunted me for several years now.  When I visit her grave or the area she lived, I can almost imagine her walking with me.  What was it like for this spitfire, living in a time when women had no rights.  And why was she buried away from the rest of the family?  Why was her grave unkempt for so long?  

Angeline, my Angeline - thank you for being my ancestor.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy and History - Confessions of a Computer Cougar

This week's challenge for the 52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy and History is about technology.  "What are some of the technological advances that happened during your childhood? What types of technology to you enjoy using today, and which do you avoid?"  I think it will be fairly simple as you read along.

I have to admit, I didn't have to let it in the door.  It was my mistake.  I invited it.  I welcomed it.  My first was simple - did odd jobs around the house and kept me entertained.

But I was fickle, fickle I say!  Within a few years, there it was!  Oh and it was beautiful!  This one was shiny (what?  don't give me that look) and was so much more knowledgeable than my first.  What did I know back then?  I was a fool, but there was something dangerous about this new one.  I'll admit, it was that factor that intrigued me.  Sure, it took up space in my living room just as my first had, but this one, I justified to myself...knew Windows.  Oh yeah, baby.  And this one knew something called...the Internet.  I told you the new one in my life was dangerous.

So, we settled into a comfortable routine, this one and I.  I checked my mail, chatted with friends, even trusted it with my beloved genealogy.  Oh, the games we'd play together and the songs we sang!  Well, I sang, but it played along with me.  But you see, this soon became not enough.  Sadly, we parted ways, but I had a new plan in mind.

Like Frankenstein, or perhaps Frank in Rocky Horror, I would build my perfect one.  Self-taught and with help from the other man in my life, I pieced together something that would have made Konrad Zuse green with envy!  Bits of data flew around inside with lightening speed.  Driving down the Information Superhighway with the wind in my hair had never been faster.  I had to replace parts here and there, but what's life without band-aids now and again?  After a few years, love and care just wasn't enough....AGAIN. What was it?  Was it me?  Why did I keep attaching myself to something that wouldn't fulfill me?

Then, one day, a few years ago, I spotted one that caught my eye.  "How you doin'?" it seemed to say from its box.  I know, I shouldn't have even been looking, but that's how it is sometimes.  Just when you don't expect it, there it is.  We've been in a lovely relationship now since that night.  It's showing a few signs the others did, but I'm determined to keep this one around for a while.  It might help that I also have a laptop and a notebook, but only use them when my back's turned to the Big Guy.  Oh...and on vacation!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Follow Friday - Appalachia Ponderings

Appalachia Ponderings is a wonderful blog celebrating the maddening and complicated Appalachian heritage.  There are also two wonderful tributes, one to her mother and one to her father.  

Stop by and visit.  It will be time well spent..

Monday, February 14, 2011

Tombstone Tuesday - Henry Plowman - Hoover Cemetery

Ok, I'm going to give you a two-fer today.  The first one is easy.  The second one, not so much.  I'll explain under the photo.

Henry Plowman
Son of Thomas Plowman and (possibly) Sarah Roach
Husband of Mary Jane Pursley

This unmarked grave is directly to the right of Henry's.  We do know that Jane died after Henry did in 1898.  Burial habits of that particular time/place tend to find the wife on the right of the husband.  Given this, is this Mary Jane (Pursley) Plowman's grave.  I *believe* so, but can't say with definite proof.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History - Toys

This week, GeneaBloggers poses the topic:  Week 7: Toys. What was your favorite childhood toy? Is it still being made in some form today?  I seriously doubt it.

While most of my childhood toys were "outside games", I had a few things to do indoors.  There were always books, board games and Barbie dolls.

It had to be seriously cold outside to stay in the house....or I had to be bleeding from the ears.  Ok, not seriously, but you remember that kind of childhood.  If school wasn't in session, the minute breakfast was done, I was out the door.  Came home for lunch and then out the door again.  My father got home from work at 4:25 and we had supper at 4:30 on the dot!  After that, more outside until the dreaded streetlights came on.  We scattered like ripples in a pond the minute the streetlight even looked like it was coming on.  Children ran in every direction because you didn't want your mom on the front porch yelling your name to the neighborhood. 

On those occasions that my playground was bordered by the walls of my bedroom, I would take my Barbies from their case in the closet.  Would they dress in the haute couture of 1970?  Of course not!  MY Barbies had specially made....calico long dresses made by my mother...and even had ric rac!!

Johnny West in his bachelor days
You see, while other little girl's Barbies were dining with Ken on Broadway in New York (this was before Malibu Barbie House so deal with it) or zooming around in a pretend sports car (that looked suspiciously like a shoe box), my Barbie was busy settling the frontier with Johnny West.  Yes, Johnny West.  Scourge of all  things bad in those thrilling days of yester-year.  She'd NEVER be seen with Ken, who'd idea of adventure would be changing his neck scarf!

And the best part?  The very best part?  Johnny West and Barbie (whose name was Barbara for these purposes) traveled in a scale model of a covered wagon.  That's right - carved wheels, bench seat, all the comforts that those early pioneers had.  Well, it would have been covered if Mother and Daddy figured out what to hang the canvas from.  You see, my Daddy could make pretty much whatever he wanted to.  He was a skilled craftsman and handyman.  He also had a wood working lathe, but I don't believe he used it on this.

By the way, Johnny and Barbara West also had a beautiful pair of horses to pull the wagon.  Their harnesses were of the finest leather and had silver buckles and fasteners.

They also had their family and friends about them as they blazed their way into the new frontier.  The same Christmas that Johnny West made his way to our home, Santa also brought along Jaime and Janice West and Geronimo even came along for the adventures.

Yeah, I was a history nerd even back then, but I blame it all on this man.  I know that my 7th great-grand uncle didn't look like this, but *swoon*

So, what was my favorite toy?  Imagination.  Thanks to Mother, Daddy and Daniel Boone.