Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Perfect Genealogy Workshop

Max beneath the tree

I am finally back home with the usual Christmas decoration take down, put away hanging over my head on my list of must dos.  A big thank you to my husband who completed the take down part of this job while I was attending a genealogy workshop.  Many of the decorations are now piled on our dining room table for me to wrap and pack away. I think I can handle this if I listen to a Genealogy Gems podcast while I work. Additionally, the return of wrong size, duplicate, or broken gifts is also on the agenda for this afternoon.  Luckily, these are minimal and, as usual, a result of last minute desperation buying. 

Well, as I mentioned I have been very busy at a local 3 day genealogy workshop. I took the following courses:

    Methods for Hard Drive Organization.
    Antique Photo Identification including Age Progression
    Reverse Genealogy through Correspondence with Living Family Members
    Google Earth for Genealogy - Beginning Map Overlays
    Backing up your Data
    Online Research Sites
    Family Treemaker Software - crashes and how to do a manual uninstall
    Genealogy apps for the iPod Touch

This workshop specifically targeted the organizational deficiencies and haphazard practices of the research oriented genealogist who loves the chase through history, but lacks the will to do the follow-up record keeping.  I'm a bit like the Dr. Who of genealogy so this was a workshop I needed. 

Classes started early - most days about 6:00 a.m.  Coffee was allowed in the comfortable classroom, and there was a break for breakfast between 8:00 and 9:00 a.m.  Then the participants, each sitting with their computer in front of them, proceeded with the task assigned, talking and moving from computer to computer, sharing their knowledge and understanding.  Interruptions by outsiders were not tolerated, and they were asked to  participate or . . . . . . . .well, leave.  Breaks for lunch were up to the individual while dinner was a more organized affair.  After dinner, the work conitinued with the first two courses mentioned being the longest and usually going until 10:00 or 11:00 p.m.  The Google Earth for Genealogy - Beginning Map Overlays was a distance learning class taught via computer by Lisa Louise Cooke.

My original intent was to continue the distance learning class on Google Earth , but on the last day, I unexpected decided to sign up for the Family Treemaker Software class instead.  It was a grueling class full of frustrations and problems, but finally, it all came together, however it left little time for the class I had to lead - Online Research Sites.  A quick, brief overview was given of several of my favorite sites and participants practiced using the sites, but a more thorough investigation is needed in the future.  This, of course, means that I will have to be invited back for a Part II course and a continuation of the Google Earth series.

I proclaim the workshop a success!  The price was reasonable - $0.00.  The participants congenial and helpful - my brother and I.  The environment pleasant - my brother's family room and my sister-in-law's comfy chair. The food was delicious - Prime rib leftovers make great sandwiches!

I see another workshop in my future for 2011!  Happy New Year.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

I Found a Kindred Spirit

A knitting store window taken in Dingle, Ireland

Tonight as I was trying to wade through my Google Reader list of blogs that had accumulated over the holidays, I started to randomly open some of the more enticing ones.  After all I wouldn't want to open them in any orderly fashion and ruin my reputation.  Not all of the blogs I read are genealogy related.  I have a few knitting and food blogs sprinkled in.  Now in the world of knitting blogs, the queen bee is definitely the Yarn Harlot.  I used to read her blog faithfully, but somehow drifted away. . . I don't exactly remember why. I think that sometimes life just sidetracks us, and blog reading was considerably more time consuming before my discovery of Google Reader.  Then this year I set up an iGoogle homepage explained by Lisa Louise Cooke of the Genealogy Gems podcast. . . .and so I discovered the Google Reader gadget.  My love of blogs was reignited. It is my favorite gadget.

Then tonight while I scrolled through the recent posts, I opened the Yarn Harlot and coveted  drooled over admired the fabulous Paul Atwell socks she made as a gift for a very lucky person.  Indeed, the socks were so fabulous, but in an understated way of course, that I had to find out more about the pattern.  This is where I was really blown away.  It linked to a knitting/pattern/family history blog/store fusion called the Family Trunk Project Blog that took my breath away.  Now this is a blog that reaches into my heart.  After all, I come from a long line of women who made a living by their handwork, and, as I said before, it's in my genes.  I can't imagine a life without knitting or sewing, although I think about them a lot more than I actually sew or knit, but just walking into my messy sewing room can slow my breathing and relax the knots in my muscles.  I have great plans for retirement.  For the present, a knitting retreat is on my calendar for February in a stone cabin, on a lake, with a fire in the fireplace, The Big Bang Theory in the DVD player, magic meals prepared by others, and knitting with good friends!  I might have to make the Paul Atwell socks my project.

I invite you to enjoy this blog, and enjoy the spirit of her family as she creates knitting patterns to represent them and their lives.  Be sure and read the payment instructions. There is the traditional money, but there is also an alternate option to exchange your family stories for a pattern instead . . . . .wow!  My family stories are just snippets, or have already been published. If not I would be all over this.  This blog is an inspiration, if you don't knit, you might consider learning and yes, men knit.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Let Us Not Forget . . .

Let us not forget that the spirit of the upcoming holiday is peace, good will and charity.  What ever your religious persuasion or lack thereof, it is still a universal wish for a kinder world.  I agree that it can get lost in all the commercialism, and my blog has definitely focused on the quirkier side of my family celebrations.  So. . . .

I want to share with you a blog post from the Chicago History Journal about the Good Fellows.  It is easy to feel helpless as "only one person", but it only take the vision of one person to make a difference.

Do something for others no matter how small the effort. Remember many individual grains of sand make a beach.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Artsy Craftsy Christmas Creche

In our house, Christmas was always home made.  It might have been partly out of necessity, but it never felt that way.  In addition to having a sweet tooth, and being a sewing whiz my mother was very artsty craftsy.  Not only did she make all of my clothes, but she made EVERYTHING for our house.  She loved magazines and used many of the ideas she saw in their pages to adapt for our home.  She never seemed comfortable being ordinary or mundane.  As an example, our living room had one wall with a painted plywood false wall about 5"-12" in front with floor to window top arched cut outs in front of the windows and sheer drapes hanging in the arches.  I am sure this idea came from a magazine.  She was a big city girl living in a small town.  Her second husband, Merle and the best stepfather a child could ever have, always went along with her ideas even as he grumbled.  Mother always had to put her own spin on things.

Across the street from our house lived Mamie Schleeter, the mother of Merle's best friend since childhood.  She was like a second mother to him, and her hobby was ceramics. Mamie was exceptionally talented and sold a fair number of her ceramic pieces. So one year Mom and Merle ordered a complete nativity set with gold trim.  Merle was very handy (a much more important trait for a husband than wealthy) and I am sure envisioned making a nice standard wood creche for the figures.  He should have known better.

One day during the late Fall, Gloria and Merle were going for a "drive".  Going for a drive was a ritual in our family, and one that I didn't always appreciate when I was young.  As an adult, my husband and I often go driving around country roads after dinner, and now I love it.  As children we used to claim that Merle knew every gravel road in our county, and we drove along them feeling like the car was on a perpetual rumble strip.  Mother was always on the lookout  for natural items that she could use in one of her hundreds of craft projects.  Driving along mother would just yell stop if she saw something she wanted and then direct Merle to retrieve what she wanted if it was in a particularly difficult spot. Mom supervised.  She (meaning Merle) always gathered items such as bittersweet, cattails, rosehips and rocks for her arrangements and projects.  However, the creche needed a very special setting.  When they arrived home that day, the trunk lid was open indicating it held something so large that it couldn't close.  Mother had discovered a stump with roots on the side of the road, and amazingly, she was able to talk Merle into wrestling it into the trunk.  What a perfect natural setting for their new nativity set!

And so it was.  She cleaned that stump and covered the top of the television with a layer of the roll out cotton snow, arranged the figures in the spaces formed by the roots, and sprayed aerosol snow over the top.  She then fixed an over-sized angel and star at the top surrounded with evergreen boughs which hid the fact that the angel was out of scale. Televisions in those days were big, boxy freestanding pieces of furniture that were the main focus of the room, so it was a perfect location. It could hold the weight of the stump.

This was our nativity setting for many years.  So many, in fact, that my younger brother thought it was a piece of driftwood, because the bark had worn off.  Really??? We lived in central Indiana and never went on vacation.  Where would we get driftwood that large?  The years have passed, and my brother is now the official keeper of the nativity set, but he has the figures in the more traditional setting imagined by Merle originally.

Personal note:  This post was completely written and ready to post when an amazing, some might say providential, event occurred.  I was re-reading the text and adding the photos, when, as I was searching for photos and cropping the new ones sent by my brother, I noticed a curious looking thumbnail.  Could it really be??  I quickly closed the select window so I could open the thumbnail in question to see it more closely.  It was, it really was . . . It was an old fuzzy photo of the original stump on our television!  I shrieked shouted, "O.. M.. G..., I can't believe it!"  My fingers quickly called my brother who was in his garage making this year's gifts.  I asked if he knew about the photo.  No, he didn't remember ever seeing it and neither did I.  This is truly a family memory restored. I love my blog.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Follow Friday. . . Oh Whoops, It's Tuesday

Well, even if it is Tuesday, I can't wait.  I have always intended to include a Follow Friday for The Faces of My Family blog since I first began my own blog.  After all, Lisa was the friendly stranger at a local library genealogy fair who invited me to join the genealogy club at a local church.   Great.  It would be so nice to be around people whose eyes wouldn't glaze over when I said the word genealogy and would laugh at cemetery jokes instead of thinking I was creepy.  The rest of the members of the group were just as friendly as Lisa.  At the first meeting I casually asked her about blogging since she mentioned her blog in our conversation.  She was so supportive and encouraged me to "just go ahead and do it".  She persuaded me and then answered my pestering questioning emails so quickly and with great patience.  When it turned out to be as easy as she said, I was thrilled. She read my blog and left comments to keep me going.  She even listed me in a Follow Friday post on her blog.  She is much more organized than I am.

Now The Faces of My Family has been nominated by Family Tree Magazine as one of the top 40 blogs in the new blog category.  Wow!  I have already voted several times - and by the way that is totally legal.  Not only is her blog a wonderful read, but she is a cemetery superhero.  Read her blog posts here, here, and here.  I have been so amazed by her ability to locate small cemeteries on private lands and bring the final resting place of her ancestors back into the sunshine. But beyond that she is active on Find a Grave and RAOGK.   A dedicated genealogist with a blog that is fun and interesting to read.

I could be subtle, but why.  Vote for The Faces of My Family as one of the top 40 genealogy blogs here.  As I said in the last presidential election:  Vote now, vote often.

Monday, December 13, 2010

A Christmas Story

As I mentioned in an earlier post my mother did not particularly enjoy cooking - except for sweets!  I don't have any memories of Christmas cookies.  Oh wait, there was a Christmas or two with Spritz.  I think grandma gave the cookie press to my mother, and a sense of obligation must have overwhelmed her.  Then again, I don't ever remember Grandma making Christmas goodies of any kind.

What I have a vivid memory of my mother making is candy!!  I remember pulling taffy and caramels so buttery that the mention of them can still make my mouth water.  The children had the job of cutting up squares of waxed paper and wrapping each piece individually.  Our reward was, of course, fresh caramels!  Ummmmmmmmmm. . . . . . . .excuse me I drifted off into caramel memory bliss.

But the memory that has become legend in our family is about the peanut brittle.  One Christmas, mom decided to add peanut brittle to her increasing Christmas candy tradition.  I am sure a neighbor gave her the recipe and told her how easy it was, but the exact origins have been lost in time.  She already had the candy making thermometer and other necessary supplies.  Since I worked at the candy counter of the local dimestore during the holidays, it was easy to purchase the raw peanuts.  In those days, the nuts were roasted at the store and then put in a rotating display. Everything went perfectly until it was time to turn it out to cool. The recipes said to turn it out onto a large enamel pan.  The originator of the recipe told mom that she could just turn it out on her stovetop because it had a large flat enamel section in the middle, and that she had done it many times that way.  Now here is where the story becomes murky.  Somewhere in the directions, the step to butter the surface was left out.  Mom, of course, said she was never told she needed to do this.  It looked so perfect as it cooled on the stove, but when she tried to lift it, she discovered it was stuck tight to her stove.  She chipped, chiseled, and pried that peanut brittle in an effort to get it off the stove, digging gouges in the enamel as she tried.  Some of the peanut brittle remained despite her efforts. We had peanut brittle crumbles that year as mom would never throw out candy.  The next year we had an enamel pan, and we buttered it first.  The story is that when she traded in that stove for a newer model, there was still peanut brittle stuck to it in spots!

For those brave souls, I am including her recipe.  Myself, I make cookies.

Peanut Brittle
2 cups sugar
1 cup Karo
1/2 cup water
Boil above ingredients until it threads then  add 2 cups of raw peanuts and 1 tablespoon of butter
Cook until 290 degrees stirring constantly  add 1 teaspoon vanilla
Remove from stove and add 2 teaspoon baking soda
Pour on to greased pan.
Lift sides until cools every once in awhile

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Ancestor Approved. . . But Would They Really?

I am speechless very honored to have been awarded the Ancestor Approved by Nolichucky Roots.  While I have seen this on many blogs, I didn't pay close attention to what it was.  Often my blog reading is done through Google Reader, and I miss all of the extraneous awards and links in the side columns.  There are so many good blog writers out there in genealogy land, and Nolichuchy Roots is one of my favorites.  After a bit of investigation and following the link in her blog post - duhhhh - I discovered the following.

Leslie Ann at Ancestors Live Here began the tradition and said. "As a recipient of this award I ask that you list ten things you have learned about any of your ancestors that has surprised, humbled, or enlightened you and pass it along to ten other bloggers who you feel are doing their ancestors proud.

My dilemma is that I don't read ten other blogs that have not received the award already.  This "passing on" will have to wait for a bit.

Now, on to the challenge at hand.  I am such a haphazard genealogist and I think my list will reflect that.

1.  I have a strong Quaker (Society of  Friends) heritage on my father's side of the family and their obituaries confirm that they were not shy in expressing their opinions. - I wondered where I got that trait!

2.  Whenever I start to feel like life is beating me up, I think of the hardships endured by my ancestors as they traveled to a new world, moved their families multiple times to avoid living  in slave states, and watched helplessly as their children died of diseases such as diptheria.

3.  According to an obituary of my g-g-grandfather I am a direct descendant of Charles Carol of Carrollton, a signer of the Declarationm of Independence, and who had a fortune to lose by signing.

4.  I come from a family of strong women and flawed men. 

5.  Headstones can sink so deep that there is no indication they are there.  Always include a metal rod in your cemetery kit. 

6.  When I traveled to Ireland last summer and walked around a replica famine ship, The Dunbrody, I could not comprehend taking a family on such a voyage in such conditions.  They were allowed on deck only 30 minutes each day to build a fire to cook their bread and dispose of waste.  If it rained, they had to eat the dough raw.  I get shivers as I write about it.

7.  My g-g-grandfather, Isaac Walker, enlisted in Company D, 8th Kansas infantry with his oldest son and when this son contracted measles and died at Iowa point, he borrowed a wagon and horse to take his body home for burial.  After a long journey, he stopped short of his destination, exhausted and sorrowful.  A message was sent to his home by a local settler and his youngest son, my g-grandfather traveled with an ox team to meet him.  Together they brought the body back to Frankfort.  Isaac then returned to his regiment until a caisson ran over his leg and broke his ankle.  He suffered with this his entire life.  He enlisted because he was a staunch believer in the evil of slavery. He acted on his beliefs. His wife plowed the fields and kept the farm going while he was gone.  This makes me proud.

8.  Isaac Walker took two boys when the Orphan Train came through Kansas.  I wish I knew they were treated well, but I haven't been able to discover any information.  I am confused by this information.  It shows that people and relationships are complicated  - then and now. 

9. Lots of the women in my family, sewed for a living. My g-grandmother Mae Allen Moldt owned a dressmaking shop during a time when women did not work if they were married.  She always was a modern lady.  My g-grandmother Mary McDonnell Kennelly was a personal seamstress for Mrs. Potter Palmer in Chicago.  My paternal grandmother, Gertrude McCoy, was a milliner back in the day when every respectable woman wore a hat, and it didn't ruin you hairstyle if you did.  My mother, Gloria Kennelly Perry, sewed every garment I ever wore except underwear and swimsuits.  She was always on the cutting edge of fashion.  My passion for sewing must have a genetic link.  I'm sure it will be acknowledged by scientists any day now.

10. I am more Irish than I realized and my American roots go farther back than I ever imagined.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Holiday Fun for Genealogists

Well, I have always known that I would write this blog post.  It has taken all of my willpower to save it for the holiday season where it rightly belongs.

Please note that the photo below is from left to right:  Gloria Kennelly (my mother), Mary McDonnell Kennelly (her grandmother), Berenice Moldt Kennelly (my grandmother).  I am including it because it is a wonderful photo, and I don't have any good Christmas photos of my mother later in her life.  Those that I could find, I can't bring myself to post for she would surely haunt me if I did.

During the holidays it is not unusual for families to laugh, reminisce, and share stories about past family times.  It usually starts "Remember when . . ." and ends with a smile and a warm family feeling in your heart.  Occasionally, accompanied by a smile or chuckle.  At our house, we usually began the litany of memories with "Remember that d*&#  pan of mother's?"  Except for sweets, our mother did not particularly enjoy cooking. While she loved new sheets and towels and had a whole room for her sewing equipment and crap craft supplies,  her pots and pans were gathered together from who knows where and never replaced.  We had knives that were dull, mismatched plates, rubber spatulas with handles that fell out, and cake pans that must have been passed down from gr-grandma.  Then there was THE PAN.  It was cast aluminum with an exterior darkened from centuries years of burnt oil, but the standout feature was the handle.  It had a wood handle with a long screw through the center.  The screw was fastened securely to the pan, but the wood handle had long ago worn larger in the middle.  This meant that the pan would swing and spin as you held the handle.  We begged our mother to throw it out every time we had to use it, and the contents would spill as the pan would sway and swing when we lifted it.  Mother was particularly fond of boiling macaroni  in this pan.  Pouring off the water was an exercise in frustration accompanied by loud swearing.  I told her that if she didn't throw it out, I would put it in the casket with her. . . . . and I tried to.  Little did I know that my brother retrieved it, sandblasted the oil off and wrapped it in Christmas paper for the following holiday.  Years have passed, and I don't remember what was in the pan that first Christmas. Since then it has been a planter, a clock, etc. Each year we pass it back and forth and talk about that D*&# pan and about our mother.

Last year it was my turn.  I never had any really inventive ideas.  Dahl, my brother, was the more creative one.  But last year was different.  He will have a hard time topping this. As I have said in an earlier post, my brother is the original genealogist in the family, but since I have joined him in this wonderful adventure, I have dragged him with me to various cemeteries in Chicago and Iowa.  I teased him about needing a "gravedigger" tee shirt since our adventure at Calvary cemetery pictured at right.  Privately, I had a brainstorm for THE PAN.  I filled it with dirt, covered the top with moss from Hobby Lobby, and painted small wood shapes to resemble tombstones.  A package of dollhouse scale flowerpots completed the look.  I decided to make him a "portable cemetery"!   It would be a representation of our past adventures searching for our ancestors.

And now to share it with you.

Click to enlarge and see detail

I included a tombstone for our g-g grandfather James Bush Allen because I was sure we would find it when we went to the cemetery - we didn't.  So I guess this is the only one he will ever have.  There is also a tombstone for g-g-g grandmother Anna Lyman, mother of James B. Allen who is buried in Canada, g-g-grandparents, Owen &; Bridget McDonnell, and our gr. grandparents Edward P. and Mary Kennelly.  Lastly, I put a headstone for Margel Kennelly and partially covered it with moss since we had dug up the original.  It was beautiful!!

My brother loved it ,and it has decorated the shelf above his computer for the past year.  It will be sad to see it go.  But, I wonder what he has in store for me??

Maybe you have a special object from a loved one who is no longer here.  I challenge you to think about the possibility of starting a similar tradition of your own. What wonderful fun to pass it around the family and laugh about times past and the family who came before us.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Thursday's Leftovers

Most nights at my house we have leftovers from the evening meal. These leftovers are occasionally packed  for my lunch at school the next day.  It's very handy that my classroom has a refrigerator, six stoves, a dishwasher and at least enough dishes, glasses and mugs for 60 people. When my granddaughter lived with us we never knew how many of her friends would just hang around and stay for dinner.  Her father was working nights and so he would also come home from work and search the refrigerator looking for the dinner leftovers to reheat.  Occasionally, we planned a extra amount with the intent to have it for two nights - like chili.  I can't even imagine trying to make just exactly the right amount. And every now and then, if the stars were in alignment as I was trying to decide what to make for dinner, I would open the refrigerator and notice that we still had leftovers from the previous few nights.  All together this amounted to a considerable pile of food. Hmmmm. . . Well, if I warmed it all up, I would have an easy dinner, I would exercise my frugality gene, and clean the refrigerator all at the same time.

So today's blog post is like my leftovers. A few little bits that I forgot to mention in a previous post, or a thought that  floated through my brain but didn't relate to what I was writing at the time.  I refer you here to my previously admitted disorganized tendencies.  I have started several posts and left them in the title and first sentence stage thinking that I would get back to them, but they are still sitting in my que waiting for my return.  I haven't lost the idea, just the enthusiasm to write about them for the moment.  So today is about tidbits put together to make a proper post.

First, I have to admit that I check my stats.  Silly isn't it?  Did I have two page views or five? Where in the world did they originate?  Really - Latvia and Slovenia??  It blows my mind that anyone finds me. After all, I rather enjoy my anonymity. It's seems easier to write that way, and it certainly means there is no pressure to post on any type of regular schedule.  This brings me to my dilemma.  I like the feeling of my blog the way it is.   It's comfortable and reasonably private.  But . . . I loved when a Guilfoil cousin found me and told me about a whole other connection that was previously unknown.  I would love to hear from someone in my mother's graduating class, but I know that probably won't happen if I stay in my secluded little corner of the internet.  Many of the blogs I've read push increasing your followers, joining social networks, and spreading a wide net to make a lot of connections. I find this uncomfortable.  Facebook gives me the creeps. Yet . . . I get a thrill when someone comments on one of my posts.  I get a kick out of reading my mini-stats.  How can I stay the same yet make some connections?  Where is that blissful middle?  I don't want to ruin what I find so fulfilling.

The Dunbrody Famine Ship I visited in Ireland
 My last blog post was about my search for my, Owen William McDonnell's roots in Ireland.  As I read the post again, I realized that I made it sound like this was just one visit to the Irish History Foundation's website.  Not true, that post was a distillation of a multitude of visits and searches for information in Ireland. The Cork Ireland GenWeb site gives the traditional naming patterns for Irish families and so the possibility of Julia Cunningham as the mother of Owen McDonnell  is one that needs much more research.  I wish I really understood Excel since I think a grid of information my help me sort out the dates, names and parishes.  I was reading the blog On a flesh and bone foundation  and she echoed my thoughts on the Irish History Foundation -  expensive and difficult to narrow down the results. While she gave multiple other ideas for Irish internet research, the links are most helpful for ancestors who are more recent immigrants.  My family all came over during the mid 19th century or earlier with many of them from the Counties Cork and Kerry.  There aren't as many options for this information.  I am listening if you have suggestions, because I keep telling myself that I need to go back to Ireland.

Do you like my new colorful blog?  I love it.  The quilt was made by my gr. grandmother Anna Mae Allen Moldt Shelko.  It was a bit of a wrestle trying to get it on the scanner and trying to scan a place that showed the most pattern.  Then I took it into my photo software and softened the edges.  I could mess with stuff like this forever.  It takes forever because I don't know what I am doing.

Well these aren't many leftovers, but I need to finish this and go to work.  I am a slow blogger, and I "wordsmith" posts to death.  Strange that I still find so many mistakes after I post them.  Originally, this was titled Monday's leftovers, then Tues. and . . . well you get the idea.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

On the Trail of Owen McDonnell . . . a.k.a. Anatomy of a Search

My g-g-grandfather's name was Owen McDonnell, Owen  William McDonnell to be exact.  And that is important because in our family there are plenty of Owen McDonnell's.  He was the father of Mary McDonnell Kennelly ,my gr.grandmother, who lived at 2338 W. Washington Blvd. The photo at left is titled "The Three Owens".  It is Owen William, his son, Owen Jerome, and his grandson, Owen James.

May 16, 1921 - Clinton Advertiser

 According to his obituary he was born in Grenagh, Ireland in 1837 and immigrated when he was 18 years of age.  The problem is that his headstone has 1833 chiseled into it.  Which to believe??  Family lore says that he was born a "stone's throw" from Blarney Castle. Hmmmmmm. . . . . . Grenagh is close but not that close to Blarney Castle.  Census records give a mixture of years for his immigration as census records often do.

When did he immigrate to the U.S.?  The Federal census images below show an immigration year of 1852 in 1910 & 1920, but 1849 in the earlier 1900 census.

1900 Federal Census
1910 Federal Census
1920 Federal Census

My dream is to find a record of Owen William's family in Ireland.  I want to know when he came to the United States and on what ship.  I want to know if he came alone or with his three brothers who also lived in Iowa - John, Michael, and Bartholomew. I want, I want, I want. . . . . . . .I know, I know, family historians are never satisfied.

Recently this digital chase has become an obsession.  Some of my answers and more of my questions have come from my research at the Irish Family History Foundation. They only have an index so the information you can access is minimal and to see the full record costs 5 euros (that is $6.97 including a .23 foreign transaction fee for those readers in the U.S.). This means I REALLY need to narrow down the many pages of result to find MY family. The search options at the Irish Family History Foundation are: county, surname, first name, year (with a range), and if you are looking for births there is a place for mother's name and parish.  All of this sounds wonderful, however most of this is information is what I am hoping to find in the record!!  But, move over Sherlock, I'll give it a go.

The 1860 Federal Census for Elk River, Iowa shows Michael, age 34 (b.1826), his wife Ellen, along with John, age 30 (b. 1826) and Bartholomew, age 26 (b. 1834) residing together.  If I presume (I know that isn't a good thing to do, but I have to start somewhere!) that the birth date for my Owen is 1837, then he would be 23 in 1860.  I have not yet found a census record that I am certain is him.  I will use this birth order as a guide in my record checking.
1860 Federal Census for Elk River, Iowa
At the Irish Family History Foundation website, the first thing I do is login and go to the search box.  I select the Birth and Baptism record, check the box for county Cork and enter the date range typing Owen"s first and last name.  Hmmm. . . four hits - not too bad but still expensive.  Then I try Bartholomew since I am hoping that this is a less common name than Michael or John (Warning! Don't use the Irish Sean as it won't work).  I still put in a date range because it seems that exact dates weren't of great importance to my ancestors.  I used 3 years.  Two hits, but the date is 1831.  I put in the father's name of  John as the family claims it is.  One hit.  This is great.  Now, let's see if we can identify the parish.  Grenagh is listed in Owen's obituary so let's start there. I choose the Advanced option but  no luck.  There are 90+ parishes and so I begin to try and locate the parish that the one Bartholomew is registered in.  An eternity later - it shows up as Mourne Abbey rather than Grenagh.  I wonder how far apart these are?  Is this a "stone's throw" from Blarney Castle?

View Larger Map

When I check on Google Maps it shows the distance from Mourne Abbey (B) and Grenagh (A) as 8 km. which is very doable.  If I search for Owen in Mourne Abbey will I find him also?  I need to confirm that it is my family.  Did you hear me scream??  There is an Owen born in Mourne Abbey with a father named John between  1829-1839.  But I need to confirm the birth date so I keep changing the birth date with no range and discover that this Owen (I am not yet ready to claim him as mine) was born in 1830.  I feel deflated.  This is so far outside my presumed range that it cannot be correct.  I decide to take a chance that the birth record for Bartholomew will help, so I buy this one record.  

So his mother's name was Jula . . . back to the Advanced Search, and I put in Jula for the record for Owen.  Yes!! This is the same family, but is is my family. Both Michael and my Owen William named daughters Julia so this could be confirmation of a family member named Julia - perhaps a mother?   I wish I could see the original records to tell if the dates could be wrong. Now I check to see if this John and Julia had a Michael and John.  Nope!

This is where it gets messy.  What about John and Michael, the two eldest sons? I cannot find records for any parish with a John McDonnell father and a Julia mother for a John and Michael McDonnell. I can find all kinds of variations of this information by mixing and matching, but nothing really lines up.  Did they move?  Family information claims that the father, Sean (John) McDonnell came from County Tipperary.  One interesting bit of information is that in researching the name Julia Cunningham, I found a Julia Cunningham born to a Bartholomew Cunningham . . . . . ahhhhhh!, so plausible, but . . . the search continues.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Belated Follow Friday

I realize it is Saturday not Friday, but when you find a post that puts words and thoughts together in such a way that your breathing speeds up, you shout out loud at the printed words and then you read it two more times just for the emotional rush, you know it must be shared . . . . even though it is just with my seven acknowledged followers and two lurking followers (Dahl, you are in this category).  As genealogists, we try to explain to the Famuggles* (My apologies to Harry Potter. . .  see below for a detailed definition)  just what it is about genealogy that holds us so tightly, but trying to convey the emotional connection has always been elusive. This post  from Clue Wagon's blog titled Consumption is a must read.  She definitely has a way with words.  Enjoy!

*Famuggle: Non family historian/genealogist who can be identified by the rolling eyes and loud sighs as family relationships are attemped to be explained by the more enlightened.  Famuggles often co-exist in family units alongside family genealogists.  Note: My experience with attempts to convert Famuggles has met with limited success.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

1942 High School Memories

Gloria Kennelly
It is the end of the first grading period, and so, as a middle school teacher,  I have been consumed with getting everything graded and entered into the grade reporting program at our school. I've graded tests, folders, and  worked with students after school to complete projects that were unfinished due to absence or . . .uhmm. . .poor use of class time.  As a student, I never fit in with the social butterflies or the bookworms (pre nerd term),but remember great conversations with my teachers. I loved my classes and always asked too many questions. Personally, I have a few great memories but many miserable memories of my time in high school. Most of us fall on one side of the fence or the other.  Few of us are neutral about our high school experience.  I have never attended a reunion and have no desire to in the future.  I am content leaving it in the past.

My mother was a more outgoing personality. Her father managed theaters and in the 40's, Hollywood was everything.

So, at this time, it seems appropriate that I share with you a few photos from my mother's time in school.  Gloria Kennelly attended Resurrection Grade School and  Providence High School for girls in Chicago.  She graduated in 1942. At 5'7" she was one of the tallest girls in her class.  Her best friend was the tallest.  She told of the time they skipped school and went shopping downtown - after all who would find out in a city so large.  Coming home that day they boarded the same bus as her next door neighbor.  There was no place to hide . . she had seen them.  My mother was a wonderful student, as you can tell from her report card, who loved Shakespeare and had big dreams of becoming a journalist.  I think my mother loved her high school experience, but it was 1942 and the world was at war just when she was about to leave the nest.  The future must have seemed so uncertain to her.

I would love to hear from any of the other students who graduated from Providence High School in 1942.  Do you remember my mother?  Do you have any stories to share?  Is there a yearbook with other photos.  Please contact me.

Providence High School - Chicago

Many report cards will be arriving in homes this week or last.  I hope this is a pleasant experience for you and your child.  Remember that it is just a waypoint on their way to becoming an adult. Contrary to what is in the news so much these days, your child's teacher works hard at his/her job.  I arrive at work at 7:30 and rarely leave before 5:00. Those who leave earlier, often take work home with them to squeeze around their own families in the evenings.  It is easy to remember the one teacher who you felt treated your child unfairly and forget the 30 who went above and beyond for your child.
Just know that we really do care about your child's success.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

A Rite of Passage

Yesterday, I picked up my granddaughter to take her to her voice lesson and, as she jumped in the front seat, she opened her folder to show me that she brought her "learner's permit" with her.  "I'm all legal, if you want to let me drive home." she said with an "I love you grandma" smile on her face.  "We'll see."  I replied evasively.  In the end I gave in because grandparents are always suckers when it comes to their grandchildren.  I even let her drive on the highway for a short way before we made a right turn (I love her, but I'm not crazy) and turned down the back road to her home.   The best compliment was when she told me how great it was because this was the longest she had ever driven, and that I don't yell at her.  Oh. . . . . .she must be referring to her father, my son, who totaled our car two weeks after he got his license when he slid sideways on the ice into a railroad crossing gate.  I can still remember my husband's scream  shock when he went to the garage and saw it.
  This made me start thinking about cars and family. As Americans we love our cars.  I grew up in a central Indiana town that had many of the local citizens employed in a nearby auto factory.   When the new models came out, they were a constant topic of conversation.  My all time favorite will always be the Mustang.  I love seeing the cars in my family photos.  They really add a sense of time and place unlike homes that are static over time. Everyone has photos with family standing next to the family car ready to start a journey, whether just to Sunday church services or a longer family vacation.  A teenager getting their driving permit is both frightening and exciting, but tinged with a sadness that they are growing up. Cars and family are intertwined.

    I would like to share a few of the photos of my family with their cars and also a few short stories, because all genealogists know it is the stories that bring family history to life.

In the center back seat is "Auntie" Anna McDonnell, sister of my great grandmother Mary McDonnell Kennelly,  with Mary Kennelly , the youngest of my grandfather's sibling, in the middle in the front.  There was no way that Auntie was going to let Mary go unchaperoned!

My great grandparents Anna Mae Allen Moldt and Edward Thomas Moldt.  I love the chains on the tires.  I have a vague memory of stories about a car with a rumble seat.  I wish I could see if this car had one.  Can anyone identify what model/make this car is.  Are those bloomers DaDa Mae is wearing?

My mother, Gloria Kennelly, as a child. The year was around 1929 since she was born in 1924 and looks about five or six in this photo. Funny, I never noticed before how much my brother, Dahl,  looks like her in this photo.

My youngest brother, Dahl, loves anything with a motor.  He can also fix anything with a motor.  He definitely got all of the handyman genes in the family.  In his wild  younger years he had a bright orange car and his red hair and freckles made his nickname, "Orange Peel" a natural.

 During the mid-sixties, my brother, Flip, asked his favorite girl to the Senior Prom.  In those days, proms were held in school gymnasiums and decorated with tissue paper flowers and crepe paper streamers by members of the junior class.  For this big event, he asked to use the family car and was told that he could take the truck.  With great indignation, he said he wouldn't go if he had to drive the truck so he called his date and told her he wouldn't be able go because he couldn't get the car.  He never mentioned the truck possibility.  But this girl was not giving up and told him not to worry, that she could drive and so she did.
She picked him up in her family's truck!!

I took my driving test in a 1949 Ford with a manual transmission.  I can't find a photo of that exact car so one taken from Google images will have to do.  I wasn't allowed to take my test until I could drive a stick and change a flat tire.  My dad didn't think you had any business driving if you couldn't do both of those things. When he took me out to "practice" driving, I knew we would always go by way of the Orestes hill.  I just prayed that there was no one behind me at that stop sign as I slipped back while trying to get the clutch just right. Yet, I don't remember him ever yelling at me.  I have used both of those skills, and I passed my driving test the first time I tried, unlike my brother, Flip, who took three attempts to pass.  I try not to mention this too often - loud giggle!  Luckily, he doesn't read this blog.

My youngest son with his first car, purchased after he graduated from college.  It is a Porsche that he bought used from an ad in the newspaper.  It had always been his dream to own a Porsche so he couldn't believe his good fortune to find one used at the very moment in time that he was looking.  I was flattered when he asked me to go with him to look at it. This invitation became clearer when the seller asked if he wanted to take it for a drive, he lowered his head and mumbled that I would have to drive it because he didn't know how to drive a stick!  I loved it.  He bought the car, and then I had to teach him to drive it.  But a Porsche is not meant for northern Indiana weather, and I am sure he was the only Porsche owner to buy snow tires for the car.

Recently, I have read several blog posts encouraging each of us to remember to record the family history we are creating now and not focus only on the past while letting the present slip by. Sometimes, it is difficult to know where to begin, but every family has automobile stories and these are a few of mine.  Stories don't have to be long.  Just snippets of life to pass on to those that follow.  
Won't you share a few automobile stories from your family

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday - Michael McDonnell Falls From Bridge

Davenport Leader - Oct. 27, 1896


Michael McDonnell - St. Irenaeus Cemetery - Clinton, IA
Born October 26, 1869
Died October 22, 1896

Michael was a brother of my great grandmother, Mary Winifred McDonnell Kennelly of 2338 W. Washington Blvd.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

#@%& . .Why Can't I Comment on Blog Posts

  This has been a constant source of frustration to me.  I like to comment on the blog posts of other bloggers.  Actually, I have several times . . . and then watched as Whoosh, it disappeared when I press either preview or post comment.  I have tried to change the choice in the drop down menu.  I have tried on various blogs.  I have been logged  onto my blog and logged out. I have tried to comment on my own blog without success. I usually try a half dozen times until I start shouting at the computer.  Then time passes and I decide to try again with the same results.  The real frustration is that I have been able to comment in the past and have it show up.  Then this morning before I got to the shouting stage, I decided to search Google and see if anyone else has had this problem.  Silly question - of course there were others.  I pulled up several queries and the answers offered.  Mostly they suggested the "cookie" setting as the culprit.  I then wandered around  searched my computer settings until I stumbled upon located the "cookie" setting.  #@%& my settings were already set to accept third party cookies.  Now what?  Back to Google again.  This time I read several boards that had queries with this problem.  Some suggested that the bloggers needed to change their settings, but that didn't account for the fact that I had been able to post but now could not.  Many of the same answers were also offered, but I was starting to notice a pattern.  Hmmmmm . . .Everyone who was having difficulty was using Firefox.  Could it really be that simple?  This called for a test.  I changed my browser and went to a blog I follow.  I filled in the comment box and held my breath as I clicked preview.  Oh my gosh, it really was that simple.

 So now I know that when I read Dick Eastman's newsletter, I use Firefox, but when I want to comment on a blog, I use Internet Explorer.  I feel much better now.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

The Wild, Wild West. . . near Deadwood, South Dakota

Owen Jerome McDonnell -standing center

This post is courtesy of my wonderful double cousin, Mary Margaret mentioned in this blog before here, here, and here.  I think her passion for family history exceeds my own, and she has many wonderful stories passed on to her by her father.

Crook City Tale

My Uncle Ambrose McDonnell was born in Iowa in 1900. As a baby he was taken to the Black Hills in South Dakota by his mother and father.

Owen Jerome McDonnell knew there was gold in the Hills and with four other partners, he had purchased land in the old Cook City site. After my uncle was born, he brought his wife, Elizabeth Burnette Allen and baby to a land where he was sure to make his fortune.

Owen Jerome McDonnell and wife
 Elizabeth Burnett Allen
with their childrem
One day, he had business in Deadwood and he left his young wife at home alone. Nettie heard a knock at the front door and when she opened the door she was dismayed to see a scraggly old women standing there. Nettie was frightened and did not invite her in. The old women looked sick, dirty and Nettie feared she had something Ambrose could catch. Then the old lady spoke, “ May I have a glass of water? I would never harm a hair on the head of Sunny Boy’s child.” Nettie knew that was a nickname used for her husband. She gave the old woman a glass to get water from the well. While she stood in the door way, the old woman said she was walking to catch the train to Lead. Nettie knew there was a hospital there. The old lady smiled her thanks, turned and left down the street.

Crook City home

When Owen returned home and heard the story he told his wife that he thought it was an old friend, Jane. Later that week, they learned that Calamity Jane had gone to Lead and died. This story was told to me by my father, Ambrose’s younger brother, Owen James, many times and is a family legend

The photo at the beginning of this post is presumed to be Owen Jerome and his four partners.  I would love to be able to identify the other men in this photo.  If you can help identify them,  please contact me.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Uh-oh! Now I've Done It!

I didn't mean to do it. It was all done with the best of intentions -- really it was.

What did I do?  I asked my relatives who avidly occasionally read this blog, to consider writing a "guest" blog post.  In my past correspondence with family members, they often mention memories or information that is new to me.  I thought this would be a  no low pressure way to share their memories in their own words with all* of us. My request was for a post that could be from two paragraphs to two pages.  It could be a memory, a story about an ancestor, a recipe, a tradition, or anything.  I wrote that I would take care of uploading everything if they could just send me a Word document along with any photos or scans they want to include.  I was extremely excited about this idea.

While I have had no one reject the idea, I have had no responses AT ALL.  The total silence in my email is deafening.  I didn't mean to upset anyone.  I can take it.  You can tell me you don't want to do this. I love writing about the family, but it might not be for you.  But please, write back to me.  I promise I won't mention it again.

However, if you get the urge in the future . . . . . . . . . . . . .

* Note: The use of the term "all" refers to the six acknowledged and five unacknowledged followers of this blog.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Government Efficiency at It's Best

 A couple of days ago a very thick manila envelope arrived addressed to me.  That's funny - I didn't remember sending for anything.  My genealogy passion has had to take a back seat to my work since school started.  When I looked at it, I was even more puzzled.  It was from the Department of Veterans Affairs - WICHITA OFFICE??  This meant it was about my father.  Why was I getting something from them?  I quickly opened it and found my father's medical file along with the letter I wrote requesting it  - dated over one year before!  The stamp on the back verifies that they received it in Aug.  This odyssey began when I learned that an immediate family member can request the service records at no charge - or so I thought.  My parent's divorced when I was seven or eight and I never saw my father after that time. So, since my father is a bit of a mystery, I thought I would give it a go.  Free is always a good price.  The letter below is four months after my initial request which involved applying online then they sent a letter for me to actually sign for permission then they sent a request for $20.  There goes the free part!  A couple of months later I received a single sheet separation paper.  Minimal, but a couple of new pieces of information.   Hey! Wait a minute. Where was the medical record I requested?  So I called to find out.  I am nothing if not tenacious.  The letter below is my next step after the phone call. I have cropped it to leave out the identifying information for my father and myself.  After all,  I am sure the paparazzi would be hiding in the shrubs for a photo.

I skimmed the medical file that spanned his military service until shortly before his death.  It will take some time to look at it in more detail.  But I will have to look at it when my mood is right.  Anything about my father is either completely devoid of emotion or absolutely drenched in it. 

My quick observations:  It confirmed his stay in a TB hospital after the divorce.  I have always tested positive for TB even though I have never had it.  Interestingly, the information that was the most upsetting wasn't his continual alcoholism, which I knew about, but the fact that he had some type of infection during his military service and had lost quite a few of his teeth!  Oh vanity, my vanity.  I am sure there are more surprises in store.

The best part of this surprise was that over a year after my request, it was sent Priority Mail for $4.90 because they obviously wanted to get it to me as quickly as possible  Remember this is the same government that paid $2000 for a toilet seat!  I wonder how long it took to deliver those?

Saturday, September 18, 2010

A Tale of Two Margels

My name is Margel (prounced Marge-l). I have never gone by any other name.  Not Marge or Margie,  just Margel unless you count the times my mother got mad at me, and then it was "Lady Locket".  I have NO idea where that came from?When I was growing up my classmates had names like Linda, Sally and Barbara with a Carla or Beth sprinkled in.   As a young child I remember wanting a name "like everyone else."  I always held my breath and waited as attendance lists were called knowing that there was a 90% chance that they would say Mar- Gel with a hard G and the emphasis on the second syllable.  My only decision was to correct them, and the whole group would turn to look at me, or let it go. "Is that what you go by or do you have a nickname?"  Nametags would inevitably be a conversation starter with the question, "Where did that name come from? Is it a family name?"  But if they asked, I told them . . .

I'd always known where my name came from, but it wasn't until I was a teenager that I began to really think about it more.  Margel was my mother's sister, but my mother never knew her because she died before my mother was born around age two of spinal meningitis. At some point in my teenage years, I became very proud of carrying this family name and of being a living reminder of a very special little girl.  As a teen, I remember asking my mother where she was buried.  Why didn't anyone visit her grave?  "Oh, her grave washed away long ago." my mother replied, "There's nothing to visit"  I had visions of coffins floating down a river.

Margel Florence Kennelly
Then a couple of years ago, I became interested in family history.  Finding Margel was at the top of my list.  At that point in time, I assumed that I would enter her name in the search engine for Cook County, and the information would magically pop up on the screen.  But, oh no, Cook County vital records database had no record of her.  The wheels in my head started spinning.  Could she have died somewhere else?  There were lots of photos of her with the family in Clinton.  Maybe she died there.  But they had no record of her death either.  Then a chance encounter with another researcher at my local library introduced my to CyberDrive Illinois and the searchable online databases of the Illinois Archives.  This time when I typed in her name and, hit enter, I found the record!  Back I went to the Cook County website with the record number . . . . again it was not to be as they had someone else listed with that record number.  Frustrations, frustrations.  Then when I was unsure of what to do next, a post on the  Cook county message boards suggested that I contact Cynthia at Chicago Genealogy so I did.  Yippeeee!  She found the death record and the price was very cheap reasonable.  Unexpectedly, I cried when I opened it.  I have used Cynthia's services through her genealogy lookup service Genlighten several times since then and always been immensely satisfied. 

Now that I had the death record, I found that Margel was buried at Calvary cemetery in Evanston and IT'S LOCATED ON LAKE MICHIGAN.  It turns out that there was a scrap of truth to my mother's story of the grave washing away - it is located near water.   Next, I called the cemetery to find out how I could locate a grave if I would travel there for a visit.  The wonderfully helpful man told me that there was a kiosk that I could type in the name, and it would print a map of the grave location if I came during the hours the office was open.  Fabulous!  Now . .  how could I talk my brother into traveling with me to the Chicago area to find her grave?  I better get more information about other family members so that I could sell this as a package deal.

I began to assemble a list of Chicago family members and the cemeteries where they were buried. In addition to Margel, I found three ancestors who were buried at Calvary - Margret Kennelly Logan (my g-g-grandmother), John J. Kennelly (her son and my great grandfather's brother who was unknown to most family members), and Edward Kennelly (possibly my g-g-grandfather and Margret's first husband).  Then last Fall, when I knew winter was fast approaching and I might have to wait another six months, I talked my brother into committing to a weekend in Chicago. Remember, he does the driving and at that time, had the only GPS. Besides, this would be way more fun if we could share it.  This seemed like a good opportunity to also visit with another cousin of my mother's if she was available. We originally met at a funeral and so didn't have much time for conversation, but we emailed a few times, and she sent me a large brown envelope full of family photos, obituaries, and newspaper clippings.  She told us that no one in her family wanted them, and she had already thrown some away.  I was thrilled.  Luck was on our side, and she was free on the Sunday afternoon we would be in Chicago. She would go with us to Calvary.

Calvary Catholic Cemetery - Evanston, IL
The Saturday of our trip was spent traveling to Chicago and then going to several of the other cemeteries on our list.  Again, my sister-in-law was a good sport tramping up an down rows of graves helping my brother and I find our family.  We managed to find most of the people on our list, but finding the graves would have been near impossible without the kiosks and maps.  It is a great system.  We needed to quickly stop by Calvary while the office was still open so we could get the map for the next day.  I typed in the name Margel Kennelly, but the information on the screen said that no one by that name was buried there.  WHAT!  But the death certificate said she was buried there.  I approached the counter and told the man of my dilemma.  He asked for the information that I had and disappeared into a back room. A few moments later, he reappeared with a record in hand.  It seems that she was listed as Margaret and the age was incorrect due to a very poor copy of the death certificate.  Here's the bonus:  The record he copied for us had a list of everyone who was buried in that block of graves, the dates of death and identified James Logan, Margret's second husband, as the owner of the block.  Margel, Margret Logan, and John Kennelly were all buried in the same block.  This was a goldmine that I have still not sorted out.  "Did you have any other graves you were looking for" he asked.  "Why, yes I do." was my speedy reply as I handed him the death certificate of Edward Kennelly.  Again, he went to the back and came out with a complete listing of everyone in that block of graves.  We explained that we wouldn't be able to look for the graves until the next day, and he told us to look for the cemetery custodian who went through every hour if we had any difficulty. I was so excited.

The next day, we stopped by one more cemetery before we went to our cousin's house.  When we arrived, we found that she had invited her sister to join us - how wonderful!  She told us so many family stories and pulled out more photos.  It was almost too much to absorb and we loved it.  Then we got in the car and headed for the cemetery.  It was a very cold windy day, and we were not prepared for it.  I only had on a thin jacket when I really needed mittens and a wool hat.  If you have ever been to Chicago, you know how the wind can blow off the lake, and the trees only slowed it down a little.  We walked to where we thought the map showed the grave, but there were no Kennelly graves in sight.  We spread out farther.  No luck.  There seemed to be lots of missing headstones.  Maybe we weren't in the right section, I suggested hopefully.  I did not want to get this close and not find her.  When our fingers were numb from cold and we were just about to give up, a truck came towards us on the cemetery road - the custodian, I thought as I flagged him down. 

With a smile on his face he asked if he could help us find a grave.  We handed him our map, and he walked us over to the correct area.  My heart sank, still no headstones, only grass.  He told us to wait, and he drove back to the office garage.  A few minutes later he was back with a shovel, a brush, and a long metal rod.  Quickly, he stepped off a measurement from the road then took the shovel and tapped the ground until there was a thunk.  Using the shovel he revealed a circular stone marker with numbers which indicated the block of graves and explained how we could read them to find our block.  Then he started to probe the ground, explaining that early graves would have had wood coffins that would have rotted away by now.  It had rained recently and the ground was very soft.  He took his shovel and again went along one side vigorously tapping the ground.  Nothing, nothing, clunk!  This would be a headstone, he told us.  So he pushed the shovel into the ground feeling for the edge of the headstone.  The level grass showed no evidence of a headstone below. When he had gone all the way around, he knelt down and peeled back the seven inches of grass and dirt to reveal . . . MARGEL KENNELLY.  She shared a headstone with her great grandmother, Margret Kennelly Logan, and her uncle, John J. Kennelly.  I couldn't believe it.  The headstone looked like new.  I quickly knelt down and started brushing the excess dirt from the top.  It may sound silly, but it felt like I had reached into the abyss and pulled her out.  Then I noticed the dirt and roots that had been peeled back.  The names were clearly visible in the roots that had filled in their names.  When I asked, how we could have the stone lifted, he told us to call the office and they would take care of it. "How much will it cost?" I asked.  "No charge."  What a nice surprise.  As I looked around the grassy cemetery, I envisioned the multitude of stones hidden beneath the surface. I hope others will heed this lesson and check for sunken headstones before they give up like I almost did.

It was getting late, and we had to go.  We had a long trip home and our cousin, Kitty, had dinner waiting for us at her house.   The grassy plot of Edward Kennelly would have to wait for another visit.  We never even checked for any other stones in our block.  We were so excited, we didn't think about any others, but I noticed the headstones in the block next to theirs was O'Connor.  Hmmm . . . Margret Kennelly Logan's maiden name was O'Connor.  Do you suppose they're relatives?  I took a few photos just in case, but that is another story.

The search for Margel was a roller coaster ride with a satisfying and exciting end.  It was very late that night when we arrived back at my house, but this still remains one of my most emotional experiences.  How can anyone think genealogy is boring?

Oh, who is that girl in the photo at the top you ask??   Why she is the third and original Margel.  She was my grandmother's school friend at Mount St. Clare college, and so she named her first daughter, Margel Kennelly, after her.  I don't know her last name, but this was taken at Lake Delavan according to my grandmother's photo album. This is a special photo for obvious reasons.