Monday, January 31, 2011

The New Phone Book is Here! The New Phone Book is Here!!

It came!!  No, not the phone book.  Well, yeah, the phone book.  I found one dropped off on our front porch.  That's not what I'm excited for though.  Today, I received *drum roll* the application packet from the Board for Certification of Genealogists!

I know that I can do this, but I have to admit that I'm nervous.  This is a big step for me.  It means that what was a hobby, my passion, just got taken up a notch.

I have to admit that my desk was not ready for this to arrive.  I should have everything somewhat organized and the desk clear by tomorrow.  I've set the package to the side so I can finish this work.   What's that I hear?  Snorts?  Cackles?  Gasps?  I know, its amazing.  Did I get a dose of genealogy ritalin?  I think it was that last can of Diet Coke.

Stay tuned for the next episode of Days of Our Genealogy.  I'm sure I'll be here venting.

Who are you and how did you end up in a box of my ancestor's photos?!

According to the back of this photo, this is Harmon Lippel.  I'm scanning old photographs that I inherited from my aunt.  So, I'm looking at this picture and the first thing that pops in my head is "Lippel?!?!  Now that's a surname I've never seen before."  The second thing that I thought was he reminds me of Ray McKinnon's "bonafide" portrayal of Vernon T. Waltrip in "O Brother, Where Art Thou?"

I searched the censuses on Ancestry and found Harmon in Mulberry Grove, Bond County, Illinois in 1870.  He was living with Alex and Harriett Dixon.  He was living with them in 1880 as well.  I found that Alexander and Harriett were living next to some of my Edwards family.  Then I went to the Illinois State Archives databases to look at the marriage database.  What do you know!  Alex Dixon married Harriett Edwards in Bond County, IL on 11 Dec 1858 in Bond County, IL as recorded in Bond County Marriage Volume A, License 4.  Then I had a duh moment and realized exactly who Harriett was.

Very interesting, Mr. Lippel.  Let's look into you a bit more.

Seems our guy married Emma Lyngby in Fayette County, IL on 26 Feb 1896 (Volume B, License 41).  According to the 1900 and 1910 Censuses, they had at least four children:  Anna, Harold, Ernest and Irene.  There are also two girls listed with the family in 1900 that both have the surname Bone.  They are listed as his daughters, but aren't with them in 1910.  I haven't found them past 1910, but there's an entry on Ancestery that his wife died 24 Feb 1934.

Seems this fine young man appears to only be a family friend.  If he's related closer to you than me, contact me.  I've got a larger, better resolution of this picture for you.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Sunday's Obituary - Orpha Mae (Perkins) Elam

My grandmother, Orpha Mae (Perkins) Elam was the daughter of George Washington and Alzada (Edwards) Perkins.  My father was her youngest child.

I remember, as a child, attending the same church in Calvert Ctiy as my grandparents.  Grandma was the Senior Ladies Sunday School Teacher.  When my Sunday School class was over, I'd run upstairs and visit her's.  There she was, sitting behind an old wooden desk with her "pocketbook" on the corner.  Her Bible would be open along with the quarterly booklet she taught from.  In her class were the best "Church Ladies" of the Calvert City United Methodist Church.  Dots of rouge on each cheek, various shades of red or pink lipstick, some of the best hats that were ever created.  Light feathery touches from hands that felt as if they were covered in parchment instead of skin.  Each lady had a different scent - old lady perfume is what I used to call it, smells that I find comfort in now.  One whiff and I'm 6 again, running up the stairs to my grandmother's lap.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Coming Up for Breath!

I've decided that organization is highly overrated!

Today, I hit the stacks on my desk like a mad woman.  I can actually see my desk least on part of my L-shaped desk.

I've blogged before about the fact I'm convinced the ancestors are withholding information until I finally, honestly and truly file stuff away rather than having them in somewhat organized stacks on my desk/floor/top of the printer.  I've decided that the fury of my cleaning effort today was what caused four out of the five photos of my ancestors to come crashing down onto the desk.  Fortunately, no glass was broken and the frames are ok; however, the only one that didn't come down on my head was the framed version of this.  Daniel Crawford and Louvina (Carter) Sparks do NOT look like happy people anyway and 3g-grandma is looking down at me disapprovingly.  I know, Louvina.  I know my desk is a mess and I'm honestly trying to get to the point where I can find out exactly who your daddy was.  But giving me "The Look" isn't helping!

The scanning project is going well.  I'm going to put everything on CD-ROMs as I would hard copies into files.  That's the best route I can go.  No, I'm not getting rid of the hard copies, but those are being put into page protectors, scrap books and such.

*looks up*  I know, Louvina.  I promise that Carter will be the next family I research.  We'll find out when your dad was born and died.  But, honestly.  John Carter in North Carolina?  You gotta give me more than that to work with!

But the most exciting news is that I've finally decided to become a certified genealogist.  The package from The Board of Certification for Genealogists is on it's way.  That's good incentive to finally get things in their proper place.  All the work that will be needed for this, I have to know where things are.

*looks up again*  Yes, Louvina.  Perhaps I'll use your family to help with my certification.  We'll have to see what I'll be required to do.  But...honestly, Great-granny....would it have hurt you to smile?

Oh and again...John Carter?  North Carolina?  No birth or death dates?  Really?  C'mon, really?

Wedding Wednesday: May I Introduce Mr. and Mrs. William Kenneth Elam

Hubba hubba!

This beautiful couple are my adoptive parents, William Kenneth and Ardith June (Howland) Elam.  

Daddy was the son of William Birdle and Orpha Mae (Perkins) Elam.  He was born 09 Oct 1921 in Lerna, Coles County, Illinois, but soon moved to Vienna, Johnson County, Illinois.  He lived there until his early 20's when he moved to St. Louis and then enlisted for World War II.

Mother was the daughter of Frank and Lula (Conrad) Howland.  She was born 08 Aug 1925 in Bear Grove Township, Guthrie County, Iowa.  She grew up in Guthrie County and lived in Kansas City, Missouri after her graduation.  She trained to be a radio operator and worked for TWA during the war.

From Mother's diary:  "As soon as I was settled in Amarillo, Texas, I joined the USO.  There was an Army Air Corps field adjacent to our commercial field.  One Sunday, I went to bed at 9:00 a.m. after working the midnight shift.  I was so tired, but set me alarm for 2:00 p.m. to get up and go to the USO.  After an hour or so of mingling, I was so tired I left.  As I was walking to my bus stop, a guy cut across to me and asked if he could walk with me.  I said okay, as far as I was going, to the bus.  We talked some and found we worked across the airfield from each other.  He was a sorta cute soldier.  I gave him my phone number.  We rode the ferris wheel in a nearby park, had a sandwich and then I went home.  He told me his name.  I could remember the Bill but Elam was too hard and I immediately forgot it.  The next night he called.  I had a hard time placing him.  We spent hours on the phone, had dates when we could both find matching free hours. 

We got engaged and then my orders for transfer to Phoenix came.  I got a ring from him.  It was hard to leave, but most people said "After the war" anyway.  He was due to ship out too."

Reading their story, and with a little imagination, one can hear Glenn Miller playing in the background as this young couple danced at the Amarillo USO and fell in love.

Wedding Wednesday: May I Introduce Mr. and Mrs. Frank Howland

This is a photo of my adoptive maternal grandparents, Frank and Lula (Conrad) Howland.  Frank was born in Greeley Township, Audubon County, Iowa on 01 Mar 1897.  His parents were Rufus and Viola (Phelps) Howland.  Lula was born in Bear Grove Township, Guthrie County, Iowa on 29 Mar 1900.  She was the daughter of Henry and Emily (Witt) Conrad.

During the early 1970's, my mother had several conversations with her parents and recorded them for family history.  One of the conversations was about their courtship.  It was common that socializing included house parties or socials.

While Grandpa was remembering those fun times long ago, he stated, "Yeah, we cut up a lot in church; we even went outside and had swigs of whiskey when we could at night socials. I always noticed that pretty and quiet little Lula Conrad. Guess I was about 12 to 14 when we moved to that neighborhood and started going to that church. She was about 10 or 11. She never paid any attention to me. One time when we was older, maybe she was 14 or 15, me and my buddies was sittin' behind her one Sunday. Her neck looked so pretty and soft They dared me to touch it and I couldn't pass up a dare so I got up the nerve to touch her neck but she ignored me and acted like she didn't notice."

Grandma continued, "I'd go to the Bethel church. I remember seeing a woman, I knew her by sight and knew she was Mrs. Rufus Howland, Viola was her first name. She came to our church sometimes and was usually leading her little boy down the aisle. His name was George. Some of the rest of her family was scattered around in the congregation. There was one boy, Frank who sat with his brother, Claude, and some of the other roustabouts. They always seemed to be more interested in whispering and snickering and up to whatever they could get away with. All the men wore hats which they laid aside themselves in church. I couldn't help sort of noticing what this row of smart alecks were up to but had to pretend I never saw a thing. One day when everybody stood up to sing I saw that Frank Howland reach over the seat in front of him and slide this old bachelor's hat over behind him so when the guy sat down he sat on his hat, much snickering and poking went on, and what a dirty look they got from the man."

When Mother asked her about dating, she said, "I just didn't dare dream of 'dates'.  The folks wouldn't approve of that, I needed to stay home and work, or hire out. Dad snarled and growled at everybody anyway, how could I have a date?  At least we went to house parties so I did see other young folks."

Grandpa died in 1972 and Grandma came to live with us for a while.  During this time, she had another conversation with Mother about her teen years.  This conversation was recorded as well and later transcribed.

"I remember one time we went to somebody's house gathering there was music and dancing. I was about 14 or 15. I noticed that some of the Howland family was there. I especially noticed that Frank, there was just something different about him. He was in his middle teens, so full of pranks and orneriness, always with a crowd of the same kind. Some of them I went to grade school with. Frank's older sister, Clarinda, usually played the pump organ, or piano. That was our music. Anyway, I couldn't keep my eyes off that Frank as long as no one noticed me starin'. Oh he held himself so stiff and straight, he was quite slender. When he waltzed he would hold his head so stiff and smooth you could have set a water glass on his head. Our families was at the same gatherings several times, I just sat in a chair and watched, that was what my folks expected me to do. Finally when I was older, maybe 16, that Frank asked me to dance and oh how my heart went pitter-patter. He had his own team and buggy by then. The big thing was to take a girl home from these parties, but my folks wouldn't let me do that.”

As the saying goes, where there’s a will, there’s a way.  Grandma went on.  “Somehow I let it out to Frank that I wasn't always staying at home and he took to comin' around and takin' me for rides and even to parties in the evenings when my work was done. Pretty soon we was going steady, courtin' as we said in those days. I was and Frank was 20. Oh what a picture he made with his matched team and his fancy buggy. Everything was always so spic and span and shiny. The horses was curried, the harness gleamed, bells jinglin' the buggy all clean and shinned up. Lots of times we visited his three sisters, married and scatter around. Minnie lived in Adair and Bertha out from Anita.

"From then on Frank started coming over after I would be at home with the folks. I just started going off with him. I guess the folks thought I was old enough. I was 17 but we both had birthdays in March, 1918 and we became 18 and 21. We began to talk about getting married. Frank was hiring out as a farm hand and I used some of my money to buy the white minon for a wedding dress. I don’t know where I got the pattern I used but I went to work on the dress at home in whatever spare time I could get. I didn’t announce that I was getting married but Mom got the idea with me at the sewing machine so much with all that white material.”

Frank's sister, Bertha, was married to Albert Paul.  They had a farm in neighboring Cass County.

“We went there the most, almost every Sunday for dinner. They didn't have any kids yet. She helped us plan our wedding day, July 3rd (1918). On the day before, or maybe it was that morning, Frank came and got me at home and we went to their place. So, it was either the same day or the next (3rd) that I put on my wedding dress and they went with us to Atlantic and stood up with us at our wedding in the court house. We went in their car, a Model T. Then we went back to their place for a big chicken wedding supper and spent the night. The next day we went back to my folks and announced we were married and Frank went to work for my dad and we slept in the big room upstairs, the north room and life went on as usual.  Dad wasn't too thrilled over his new wild son-in-law but folks pointed out to him that he finally had a son and someone to help him out. That didn't stop him from his constant growling.”

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Those Coming Behind Us

A few months ago, I was asked to be a "special teacher" for an 8th grade history class.  Sometimes, learning history comes easier from alternative sources.  My subject was how to learn about history from genealogy, specifically letters written home.  I've got copies of letters that were written between my 4th great-grandparents during the Civil War and from their son, my 3rd great-grandfather, to them.  I've blogged about these letters here.

I arrived that morning and was greeted by 40 13 year olds.  That's 80 eyes and they were all on me; however, with all things genealogical, once I get started, I ramble.  We read the letters together and I explained who the ones mentioned in them were.  We talked about how the Civil War was more than just statistics.  Its impact is something that we as a nation are still dealing with.  We talked more specifically how it impacted this particular family - a proud man could no longer work, the only son left to do the duty his father gave his health for, the son-in-law who died hundreds of miles away from home and was temporarily buried on a mountain top before finally resting in a national cemetery near his first grave.  Those 80 eyes were wide, alert and questioning.  They had so many questions that we even went over the end of class a bit.  And they stayed to ask them!  They didn't run out of the room screaming because the crazy lady was STILL talking about some type of scandal.  Truth be told, I think that was a bit of a hook for them.  They found out that people are people, regardless of the time period.

The liaison between the school and the Kentucky Arts Commission told me that some of the kids were going to do their history project on my ancestors and she'd make sure I got copies of their projects.

Well, gentle readers, tonight, she was as good as her word.  I received an article that will be published in the local paper, a play based on the letters between my 4th great-grandparents and a power-point presentation that was not only based on what we'd talked about that day, but some other very interesting things - a piece of Confederate currency, other photos and information on the captain of the 8th Kentucky Infantry.

At the bottom of the email that carried these precious items, she said that she hoped I'd be able to make it for the school's Reading Celebration where these presentations and plays will be performed.

I've already made my reservations.