Saturday, July 31, 2010

Saturday Morning before Putting Up Corn

Today, is corn day.  During our recent family research to Clinton, Iowa we saw people sitting in lawnchairs with plastic bags of corn selling  for $3/dozen.   My daughter had already mentioned that we "really should put up corn again"  since it tasted so good. I admitted that it had been a long time, since I had done this, and the best part of her comment was that she also offered to help!  I can't turn down an offer like that, and she is right that it does taste fabulous!  If you have only had frozen corn from the store, you are missing out on one of life's great foods.

This morning I went to my local farmer's market and paid $4/dozen, but the corn looks amazing and is so huge that I will get a lot for my money.  I had scoped out this vendor at last week's market, comparing to other places during the week.  Nothing looked as good, so today I had a plan.  I checked last night to make sure that my daughter was free to help. 

Since I am tied up for the rest of the day, I wanted to write a short post. Geneabloggers, designates today as Surname Saturday.  What surname should I choose. . . . .hmmmm.

Owen William McDonnell & Bridget O'Callahan
Wedding certificate of Owen & Bridget

I have finally decided on O'CallahanWhy?  Because I can use more of my Ireland photos.  Bridget O'Callahan married Owen William McDonnell in 1864 in Whiteside, Illinois.  I wondered why several family members married in Illinois, rather than in their own town of Clinton, Iowa.  When I visited last week, I asked at the Historical Museum.  One woman said, depending on where they lived in Clinton, such as Lyons, it would have been closer to cross the bridge and go to Illinois.  At last a common sense answer.  Look at the location of the photographer in their photograph.

A display at the Cobh Heritage Centre

Family stories, tell me that Bridget immigrated from Cobh, Ireland and that she was a bond servant in Cleveland, Ohio (Edit 8/19: Family photos seem to point to Cinncinnati, Ohio as the location instead of Cleveland, Ohio.) before her marriage to Owen William McDonnell.  They had eleven children and only two of them married.  The unique fact here is that I am biologically related to their son Owen Jerome and his wife due to my grandparent's marriage. My grandfather's uncle, Owen Jerome McDonnell married my grandmother's aunt, Elizabeth Bernette Allen. TaDa!

When in Ireland recently, I visited the Cobh Heritage Centre  hoping to find out a little more about her.  The research available was marginal, but they sent me up the hill (It must have been a million steps) to the city museum.  Now this was asking a lot of my non genealogy interested companion, but she is a good sport and went along. 

She looked around the museum and enjoyed the hand made lace while I pulled book after book off the shelf quickly scanned the many pages of names of those who emigrated from Cobh during the appropriate years.  Sadly, I had no luck.  But luckily she is still my friend.

We then took the train back to her daughter's house in Kinsale. 

I guess these aren't the most picturesque photos of Ireland, but they go along with the blog content so . . . . .
On the Slea Head drive traveling around the Dingle peninsula
I will post just one fabulous photo.  How difficult it must have been to leave this beautiful place.  I need to just spend a few days boring you with beautiful photos of Ireland.  You, of course, can choose to ignore the post, but it will be terribly satisfying for me.  I wish I knew how to do a collage on here.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Won't This Saga Ever End?

Well, today is my report on the end of our trip.

Our original plans were to go to the library and possibly the historical society if we found out that they were open and had records that are available for us to look at.  I left a message on an answering machine the day before asking about their hours and leaving my phone number.  We weren't sure if they were open one day a week or once a month.  That morning as we started for the library when my phone rang, and it was the historical society and museum.  Yes, they were open from 9-11 so we quickly changed our plans to accommodate their hours.  We could go to the library afterward.

I wish I had a photo of the Clinton Historical Society and Museum, but I was so excited that I often forgot to take photos on this trip.  I even scoured the internet for an image to "steal" with no luck.  The all volunteer staff was so friendly and helpful, but it was almost overwhelming.  This is my fault because I didn't really have a prioritized list of  information we were seeking. As they showed and described the records and information located on each wall, my eyes started to glaze a bit.   I gave my brother the task of looking through the city directories since I love the year by year picture they can give.  He brought his scanner in and began to look through them.  I should have given him a list of individuals to look up, but he made do with the surnames, Allen, McDonnell and Moldt.  I was trying to find where our grandmother graduated from high school and a couple of marriage records.  My sister-in-law with her halo still affixed to her head agreed to look through the card files for family members.  I was the only one who came up almost empty handed as the time raced by. I found a death record for Ellen Allen, my gr. grandmother's sister, who died of consumption in 1888 at age eleven - I think it is her sister.  Of course, it could be a random stranger with the same surname.  Shortly before they closed, one volunteer worker suggested that we needed to visit the records office since Clinton was one of the few places left where you can still go in and actually put your hands on the original records.  We added that to our list of "to do" jobs.

The Historical Society and Museum was closing and we gathered up the few modest records that we had found.  Off to the library - NOT QUITE YET!  Man cannot live by knowledge alone.  We needed food so  Dahl circled around the downtown, and we settled on a local sandwich shop and bakery.

Clinton library - image copied from their website
Now that we had nourishment, we were ready to tackle the microfilm machine in The Root Cellar of the Clinton library.  I had corresponded with Fran before and found the library staff so extremely helpful.  Fran even remembered me when I introduced myself.  You can't beat small town friendliness.  She showed us where the microfilm was and set us up at a machine.  I thought we should concentrate on obituaries and since I am the designated supervisor, that is what we did. . . . . . . until 5:30.  It was tedious and my back had a permanent knot in it.  When I suggested stopping for dinner, I heard no objections.  Before we left the downtown area we wanted to see St. Irenaeus.  A church built in the early 1870's that was scheduled for demolition before it was rescued by the Historical Society and Museum.  Family members told us that Owen William McDonnell and James B. Allen helped with the construction of the church and that several family members were married there.  James B was listed as a stonemason in several census records so it sounds plausible. But now that the church has closed, where are the records stored??  I am still working on that.

At dinner, we all felt a little overwhelmed, and we hadn't yet made a hotel reservation for that night.  After  2-3 minutes much discussion we decided to head for home that night and stop when we were out of town a couple of hours.  That way we could get home the next day by noon since I still had to drive 2 1/2 hours from my brother's house back to my own home.  I refer you to my original post in this Saga series.  We never got to the records office, but that just means that it is at the top of my list when we return.

Since we had gone through every small  town on the way to Clinton, we decided to take the major highways home to shorten the trip.  Silly, silly, silly.  We didn't find a place to stop for the night until 10:30 and gas until the tank said zero miles left.  I was digging out my AAA card since I was sure they would need to bring us gas.  Don't ask how I know they do this.  We tried to stop earlier, but an exit that listed hotels sent us over 2 miles into a sketchy part of town with a crumbling high rise style hotel and one that had closed long ago as the sign was very rusted.  Farther down the road we tried again, but couldn't get through the parking lot for all of the semis parked at various angles and the group of men hanging out at the door smoking put us off - imagine that!  Finally we found a choice of hotels at an exit for Peoria.

The next day was uneventful, and I arrived back at my house before dinner.  We definitely need to return.  What did I learn from this trip . . . . and I learn something from each trip?

Wisdom from the Trip

1. Appreciate the kindness of strangers. The cemetery caretaker, the volunteers at the history museum, the directions from the ice cream merchant, and the generous and helpful librarians, made our trip a success.

2. Don't measure success in quantity. This speaks for itself.  

3. Don't have a rigid schedule.  Be prepared to adjust when opportunities present themselves. The historical society wasn't part of our original schedule, but since it was open we adjusted.

4.  Take a cemetery kit with extra water in a jug. Some cemeteries have no water source. 

5.  Take more photos!  Not just the headstones, but the people and places on your journey.

 6.  It's good to be organized but don't allow this issue to stop you from making a family research trip. We can never get it ALL done anyway.  Just plan that you will return!

7.  Smile, laugh, and keep an upbeat attitude.

Edited addition: 8. Take snacks for the road.  I suggest something salty and something sweet.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Clinton Saga Continues

At the end of yesterday's post we were enjoying the best soft serve ice cream ever in Sabula, Iowa before taking the ice cream merchant's directions to the two cemeteries we were searching for in the area, Evergreen and St. Peter's Catholic cemetery.  Getting to places can be a bit problematic as the Mississippi River has shredded the land at this point and often the route is back down and then up the next shred of land to get to your destination.  And that was the case for us today. 

Evergreen Cemetery - Sabula, Iowa
Evergreen  was the closest, and as we followed the directions we were not sure if it was the right place as there was no identification or sign at the entrance.  There was no helpful caretaker or automated kiosk to help us locate our graves here.  So, we turned in and thought we would drive slowly around and see if we could spot a headstone with Guilfoil on it.  Imagine our surprise when we actually found one a few hundred feet into our drive.  I had a record I downloaded more than a year ago from Iowa GenWeb that listed Guilfoils in this cemetery.  They are a bit of a mystery.

The 1850 census for Elk River Twp. in Clinton county, Iowa lists John Guilfoil living with Thomas Gilshannon and his family.  Thomas' wife Elen was John Guilfoil's daughter and, I assume, that James was her brother.  All are from Pennsylvania.  Elen will die in 1851 after the birth of her second daughter, Nancy and Thomas will remarry shortly thereafter.  Other than this brief record, Elen seems to have vanished.  I am a descendant of Elen through her daughter Eleanor Gilshannon who married James Allen.   John, James and Ann left after Elen's death.   I believe that the Guilfoils in this cemetery, Carrie Kelsey and Mrs. John are connected to my family, but I haven't yet put the pieces together.  We walked around a while to try and find any other Guilfoils but had no luck and the loud rock music filling the cemetery from the young men working on their cars in the neighboring house, hurried us along.  So we took our photos and off we went to St. Peter's where Thomas Gilshannon was buried.

Now this was a small cemetery and it was very easy to locate Thomas' grave.  Before we left home, I asked my brother if he had packed the cemetery kit I got him for Christmas and he said no.  He thought it was just a gag gift, but I told him it wasn't and that he should throw it in.  So he did - still in the Christmas bag!  We had been using the spray bottle to make the writing on headstones more readable in our photos, but this time we pulled out the brush as well as the spray bottle.  The sentimental inscriptions were undecipherable, but the facts were clear on each side.  On one headstone was Nancy, Thomas, and his second wife Bridget Reynolds.  the last side of the monument was blank.  Beside the headstone was one that said Sister and one that said Father.  But where is Elen, his first wife?  This cemetery wasn't established until 1855, and she died in 1851 so it isn't here. I don't know if there are records for this cemetery, but there are recent burials, so I am hopeful that with a little work, we might find out a bit more about the Gilshannon family.  More information always brings with it more questions.

Our last cemetery visit for the day was back in Clinton - St. Irenaeus.  We discovered that it was also known as Calvary.  This was part of our trouble in locating it through Google Maps.  At this cemetery, we used every tool in our "cemetery kit".  This was the location of the McDonnell's graves. Family legend has it that the McDonnell's are direct descendants of MacIan, the Red Fox of Glencoe who was murdered in his bed by a Campbell after a fortnight's hospitality in 1692.  While I haven't proven that to a genealogical standard (and never will, I am sure), it hasn't stopped me from finding out more about this interesting family story.  Imagine my surprise when I found an actual event to go with this old family legend - the Massacre at Glencoe.  Check it out for yourself.

We again easily found the McDonnells as there were not far off the road and the vertical headstones made it easier.  Since I had photos of the headstones from Iowa GenWeb, I knew what I was looking for.  As we walked up to them, I understood why Dennis' headstone was photographed from the top with all of the date information hidden.  It had fallen forward and the inscriptions were buried.  My brother, Dahl, tried to pull it back straight, but it had been like this for a while.  Break out the cemetery kit again!  I supervised while he dug down exposing the front.  He likes to be the "man", and I like to be the supervisor.  This is a good match.  My sister-in-law has been the photographer and general all round gopher on this trip without complaint. She is always willing to do any task that we demand order ask her to do.  She definitely gets another star in her crown for this trip!  We photographed the headstone information and then filled it back in so it wouldn't fall forward any more. . . . . . and there was a sign warning us not to dig up the graves!  Oops!  It's a good thing no one reads this blog to report me.

Tomorrow is the library and historical society.  We mostly sat at a microfilm machine so it will be a short post.  I will finish this tomorrow.  I know what you are thinking - It's about time!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

High Expectations - The Saga of a Beginner Genealogist on a Family History Trip

With a call from my brother, we moved our departure date for Clinton,Iowa up a day or two.  This meant that I needed to leave for his house the next day.  Yikes!! My first thought was how am I going get together the information we will need.

My dining room table is my usual go to place for projects and organization, and this is where I had scattered  tossed dumped spread out carefully my paper files.  This room is used for meals only once a year at Thanksgiving or occasionally for a family get together so the table is always available for whatever current project I have.  When my brother called, I was still trying to sort through my information, and the table looked like it was the day before I had to take the tax records to our account.  I may not be good at KEEPING my life organized, but I am a master at GETTING organized, and nobody can triage like me.  I pulled out three additional bags (Note: this is a reference to my genealogy filing system mentioned in an earlier post) and stuffed placed the non-Clinton files in them.  My reasoning was that anything I didn't have listed in my newest genealogy notebook purchased in a variety of colors at a local Wal-Mart for ONLY a quarter each could be found with a little effort in my file.  I purchased several dozen and started with the following titles:  Research trips and Organization. What can I say, hope springs eternal.

From my standpoint this was not an efficient trip to Clinton looking at it from a strictly time perspective.  Our plans were to go from my brother's house, and he would drive. My house is approximately 4 1/2 hours from Clinton if you believe Google Maps and my brother's house is 5 1/2 hours.  Add to that the fact that my brother's house is 2 1/2 hours from my house and a fifth grader could see the problem.  This trip was going to be a 16 hour round trip for me. It was suggested that if I came down the afternoon of the day before we left, we could get an early start and go over our plans the night before allowing us to arrive in Clinton by noon.  Sounded good to me, and I arrived by dinner time (notice the time discrepancy between when I planned to arrive and when I actually arrived) the next day.  My brother and I loaded the software for his scanner onto my computer and pulled together all of  the equipment we thought we would need while my fabulous sister-in-law cooked dinner for us.

The next morning we got an early start as planned, but the key had barely been turned in the ignition when two of us were asking to stop and get some "good" coffee.  My father had a great saying that I have used a lot with my family:  "WE'RE OFF - like a herd of turtles".  I think many people can relate to this sentiment. Our route started by passing some wind farms in Indiana and Illinois.  It is a very strange and a little futuristic looking sight if you have never seen a large wind farm before.  The realization of just how large a windmill is hit us as we passed semis hauling the individual parts escorted by cars with warnings of "Wide load".  As we continued our route took us through what felt like EVERY small town in Illinois.  It seemed charming at first, but as the drive stretched out longer than we intended, it lost a little of it's appeal.  My brother's willingness to point out and stop at any quilt shops helped considerably.

Mid-afternoon we arrived in Clinton and we found a hotel with internet access and breakfast included.  Yea!  After dropping our luggage, my brother turned to me and said,  "Well, what are we doing first?"  My instant answer was cemeteries as I knew I had that information written down in my handy dandy Family Research Trip notebook.  It was raining, of course, but we started with St. Mary's where three generations of our ancestors are buried.  The first stop after entering was to talk with the caretaker, who luckily was in the shed,  about how to locate a grave.  He was so nice and helpful as he turned worn and torn large sheets of paper with the cemetery layout.  He had a list of plot owners, but not individual graves.  The first was our grandparents, Ed and Berenice Kennelly, then her mother, Mae Moldt Shelko and her second husband John Shelko.  According to the caretaker, the plot was owned by James Allen, Mae's father and Berenice's grandfather, but there was no headstone.  My hope was that it had sunk, and we would be able to raise it.  No such luck.  There was only a space where his headstone should be - and HE was listed as the owned of the block of four graves.   His wife's headstone lists her as the wife of James A. Allen instead of James B. Allen.  Who made this mistake since he was still alive when she died?

The next cemetery, where Berenice's father was buried was also administered by the same caretaker.  He gave us directions and met us when we arrived there, looking up the graves and driving us to their location.  This was a huge and hilly cemetery.  But sadly, three of the four people buried had no headstones or inscription.  There was only a large family headstone and a small individual headstone for Hans C. Moldt. However, this cemetery listed each person buried there rather than just the block owner and the date of death for each.  This was new information for us and would allow us to search for obituaries the next day.  Interesting family note:  Edward Thomas Moldt and his sister, Anna Moldt Shelko died within three months of each other and then their spouses married each other.  Anna and Thomas are buried with their parents, but Mae and John are buried together.

Our cemetery oddyssey continued with three, I think, more cemeteries.  We traveled next to Sabula and had the best soft serve ice cream cone, I have ever eaten at the Korner Stop Ice Cream Shoppe. The very helpful lady working there also gave us directions to both cemeteries we were trying to find in that area. We weren't having any luck because my brother's GPS was on the fritz, and we didn't have a clear address for either of them.

As we headed out of town we passed THIS colorful location.  It was interesting enough that I told my brother to go around the block so I could get a good photo of it.  As we went around the block the dog took the opportunity to pose.  Norman Rockwell eat your heart out.

This has gone on longer than I expected so I will sign off for today and finish my tale another day.  I have to mop the floor and go see "Rent" put on by the local theatre company and then home for a seafood boil with the family!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Surname Saturday

Well, I have been getting ready to travel to Clinton, Iowa next week for a short family research trip.  Unlike the previous trips, we have no one specific to visit.  This is to try and locate information and records related to my grandmother's family and visit several cemeteries while we are there.  This requires some degree of preparation on my part.  I have gone through my paper files and tried to separate out the ones that pertain to this branch of the family.  Next, I have to get an agenda of what we want to look for - my brother has made this my responsibility.  That way if anything goes wrong, it isn't his fault.  He is the original Teflon man.

The individuals and surnames that we are researching on this trip:

Owen William McDonnell - spelled a multitude of ways.  Family information says he is from Grenagh, County Cork, Ireland.  Born in either 1833 or 1837.  Immigrated in 1852.  Met his wife in Cleveland, Ohio and married in Illinois, just across the river from Clinton, Iowa in 1864.  He had three brothers who also immigrated to the Clinton County, Iowa area - Michael McDonnell, John McDonnell, & Bartholomew McDonnell. We don't know if they came together or separately.
Owen's wife, Bridget O'Callahan, is reputed to have come over as a bond servant from her home in Cobh, County Cork, Ireland around 1854.

Hans C. Moldt married Anna Magdelena Petersson in Denmark before immigrating to the US and settling in Clinton, Iowa.  His son, Edward Thomas Moldt married Anna Mae Allen in Clinton in 1898.  We hope to find a record of this marriage.  The church has closed.

Anna Mae was the daughter of James B. Allen, from Ontario, Canada and Elanor Gilshannon, claimed to be the first white child born in Elk River township, Clinton County, Iowa.  Elanor's mother, Ellen Guilfoil, died in 1851 while giving birth to Elanor's sister, Nancy.  Her father, Thomas Gilshannon, married Bridget Reynolds less than a year later.

Well, this should keep us busy.  We don't expect to answer all of our questions, but ,hopefully, some of them.  I plan to look through the newspapers on film at the library, look for sunken stones at cemeteries and possibly find out what happened to cause Hans' house to be sold at a sherrif's auction at the courthouse.  Any other suggestions?  Oh, we are also driving through Clinton and trying to locate their former farms,houses and businesses. 

Too much???

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Wisdom Wednesday

Today has been very busy.  It started at 4:45 a.m. when my  adult son called us from work that his car had been stolen with his wallet and cell phone in it.  He called us because our phone number was the only one he remembered since he had all of  his others on speed dial and hadn't bothered to ever memorize the numbers.  The thieves ditched the car a couple of blocks away, and we took him our extra set of keys so he could drive home .  I can't imagine why they didn't want to keep the red Toyota that has rusted doors, a missing door handle, multiple dents, dings and a light held in with duct tape.  My granddaughter has been promised that this will be her car to drive when she gets her license much to her dismay horror.  She was hoping  praying it wouldn't be found, but luck was not on her side.  If only the car had been stolen, I would have guessed that she hired the hit.

Today was also the library book sale.  I love the library book sale.  If you have never shopped the St. Joseph County Public Library book sale put on by the Friends of the Library, you should.  There are always surprises and everything is a great bargain. It is mammoth.  I have my usual sections that I peruse - cookbooks and cooking magazines, knitting, War (Civil, Revolutionary, and WWII - all for my husband), and, of course,  genealogy.  I thought I would share some of the genealogy books I purchased. 

I am not sure this book on Ireland will be very useful, but for only a quarter, I had to bring it home for a closer look.

Since I am off to Iowa for a research trip next week,  this seemed like a timely purchase.  However, if I am to be totally honest, I probaby won't read it until I come back from Iowa, except for a quick flip through. What I want to do and what I actually do are always in conflict.

I never can think of questions to ask older family members.  So even though this is a very old book, the ideas and questions are timeless.  It is full of great suggestions.

I'm not so sure about this one, but the title is catchy!

Sounded like genealogy short stories - I'll let you know.

Total cost for my genealogy book splurge - $1.50.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday from Ireland

 Well, if it is Tombstone Tuesday, I have to share more of my cemetery photos from Ireland. Aw, shucks . . .

The Celtic cross was every where!
The variations were beautiful.  This was in the cemetery at Kilmurvey, Inishmore, Aran Islands, County Galway, Ireland.  Whew!  That should be a complete description.  The inscription is in Gaelic, but I have a lovely individual who has offered to translate it for me so I will include an edit later with that information.

This was one of the most elaborate at the cemetery around the Muckross Friary in the Killarney National Park.  The ruins of the Friary were a spectacular backdrop to the still used cemetery.

Both of these were at the Rock of Cashel.  It is interesting that there are still about 30 people who have the right to be buried here.

                                     The IHS symbol in the center of the one on the left almost appears to be a dollar sign.  I like all of the shamrocks twining up and down.

I could post many more, but I think I might run the risk of boring even the graveyard rabbits.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

A Sad Sad Cemetery

Well, I just cant' wait. I have to post some of my photos from Ireland. I'll get to my fourth and last family history trip later. (I knew I couldn't stay organized)

While my traveling companions joked about my pre-occupation with cemeteries, the truth is that I only visited two that weren't attached to ruins/abbeys/castles that we were already visiting. One was on Inishmore, and I walked from our B&B, the Kilmurvey House, down the road one morning as they finished getting packed. The other was down a side road in Dunquoin (Dún Chaoin) just before we got to the Blasket Island Visitor Centre ( Blascaod Centre) and museum at the tip of the Dingle peninsula. How did I know about this, you ask? Rick Steves, of course - the travel guru of "off the beaten path" experiences. There was a small sign that told us to turn right for the Old Burial Ground. I instantly directed our driver to turn. I did not take time to vote on this! Not far down the road we found this sad, sad, cemetery. It appeared as though I was the only one that found this Rick Steves suggestion appealing.

Notice the warning about the grounds being uneven. That warning is an understatement.

This is the "well worn" path up through the cemetery.

The familiar Celtic cross dominated every cemetery I saw.
Close-up of the hand carved Gaelic inscription. I wish I knew his name - or hers? I wonder what else it says? Many Blascot Island residents were supposedly buried here. Could this be a fisherman from the Blascots?

Remember the warning on the entrance sign? This is the reason why. This was the center Celtic cross headstone on a small hill in the center of the graveyard. It rose above the rest. Look closely at the GIGANTIC hole at the base and the fact that it appears as thought it had been moved. Eerie for sure. I could find no identifiable markings on either side of the grave, but it had a plaque on a base near it - all in Gaelic. As I looked through my photos, I must not have taken a photo of the plaque. As I walked back down the hill to catch up with my friends, I noticed many more of these holes in the hill some even larger. If you fell into one of these you would feel like Alice in Wonderland.

Detail of the fish relief at the top.

The back side of the monument at the base.

Angel or resurrection in the wall beside the grave.

This was by far the most beautiful grave in the cemetery. It was finely carved and had images on both sides. It is the resting place of Tomás Ó Criomhthain, a fisherman, author and famous resident of Great Blascot Island.

We discovered this connection when we went a bit farther down the road to the visitor centre, and there was a poster about his life hanging on the wall. Were there others at the cemetery that we missed? I'll never know. Cemeteries often fall into disrepair, but how could this happen to an Irish hero?
If you are ever on the Slea Head drive around the Dingle peninsula, look for the small sign pointing you to the Old Dunquin Burial Ground and lay a flower on Tomas' grave, but look out for the giant holes in the ground!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Hmmmmmmm. . . . . .

WARNING: This is an unusually long, rambling blog post. You might want to skip it. This is about the man with the beard above. Remember, I warned you.

Which of my intended blog posts should I do next? Should I continue, albeit interrupted, the family research trip thread? This would give a semblance of organization and continuity to this blog. Should I discuss the Geneabloggers challenge #23? - nope, I am still in the middle of that situation! Should I do a belated Father's Day because of the unending guilt I feel for not giving my wonderful father his day? Then there is the Ireland cemetery blog in which I could share many of the photos I took - only my favorite thousand, I promise! Hmmmmm. . . . .

Darn it, I started out with such intent to be organized. I set the stage for my blog name and planned to continue in the same way, putting together the pieces I have found in some orderly way. Remember, I told you earlier that I always INTEND to be organized. But, it always seems to fall apart in the middle somewhere. In reality I assumed that I would run out of steam, get bored with it, and stop for lack of ideas, but it hasn't happened so far. I now find myself in the position of "banking" blog post ideas because I don't have the time to write about all of the ideas I have. I think I also forgot some, but since I can't remember them, they don't count. Without Lisa Ellam of The Faces of My Family I would still be thinking about a blog. She gave me the nudge I needed to actually sign up and begin. Only time will tell if that is credit or blame?? I created this blog essentially for me - to help me organize my thoughts and create a record of my family research. I only pretend I am talking to someone else, but I will continue this illusion.

Back to my original quandary. What topic will I tackle today? Since, I have an upcoming family history research trip to Iowa with my brother - or without him if he backs out AGAIN. By writing out my options here, I can see clearly that my subject today should be a continuation of the saga of my four family research trips during the first year of my obsession called genealogy.

Today I will relate the story of my third family history research trip in which I traveled to Canada!
In my post about my first trip, I said that I shared information with my cousin about "the man with the long white beard". Much of that information came from another long lost cousin that I connected with on a message board. She had posted a question searching for information on James B. Allen, and when I responded a couple of years after her original post, that I thought this might be my g-g-grandfather, it started a wonderful correspondence with his family in Eramosa Twp, Ontario, Canada - listed in the census records as Canada West. She had been working on her family genealogy with her daughter for over 30 years, but they never knew what happened to James B., one of 13 children born to James Bush Allen and Anna Lyman. I was feeling pretty good about the fact that I had just identified him from the census records. Up to this point, we were only guessing his identity. The 1925 Iowa state census was the key to unlocking a flood of information. In 1925, he was living with his daughter, my beloved g-grandmother, and that made the connection. If you have family in Iowa during this time and have not checked it out, you must do so immediately. It is a goldmine! It is four pages long and includes the names of the parents, not just the country of origin, and where they were married.

Eileen, my new relative, and I corresponded by email several times, but then she mailed some photos she had. As I opened the envelope, a photo of my grandmother standing behind the "man with the long white beard" with baby Margel on his lap, fell out. It was a rush of feelings. Then I pulled out another photo of four distinguished men . . . my g-g-grandfather (on the left) and three of his brothers, Peter, Joseph and Israel. There was no doubt that this was the correct family connection. I began to flood her with questions. Then one evening my phone rang and it was Eileen. She thought we should chat over the phone. And we did for over an hour. She told me how James B. use to come back home to visit every couple of years and some members of the family still commented on his marriage to a Catholic. She told me about visiting the Old Stone Church in Eramosa and digging up the headstone of Annie Lyman that had sunk beneath the grass. Oh, I wanted to visit that cemetery. This was my g-g-g-grandparents! We had a wonderfully long talk, and she invited me to visit - Well, maybe I hinted that I would like to meet her. A plan was born. In the last week of my summer vacation, I hurriedly made plans to travel five hours north for a family meeting. Her daughter would be visiting, and she could drive us to the cemetery.

This was to be a solo trip without GPS, but I was confident. I had multiple printed Google maps and a large print spiral bound atlas. It was a sunny day and everything looked good. Then 2 hours into the trip, Boom, kathunk, kathunk, kathunk. I looked around and pulled off to the side of the road to check the car. As I rounded the back of the car I saw the rip in the sidewall of my rear tire. Thank goodness I had AAA - I did send the check in didn't I? I finally found my information tucked between a punch card for JoJo's pretzels and an old L.S. Ayres credit card. When I called they informed me that they didn't have a record of my current membership. Oh no, it had expired. Then the wonderful lady told me that they could reinstate my membership if I wanted to put it on a credit card, and they would send a truck right out. What do you think I did? I'm saved, but the truck had several other calls first and so the half hour wait turned into two and a half as Iwalked back and forth in the grass beside the car. I called everyone I could think of and told them my tale of woe to pass the time. After the truck arrived it was off to the local Walmart to get a new tire, because my mini spare wouldn't last. Finally, I am on my way after a five hour delay. I arrived at my destination moments before dark descended and was greeted with hugs and smiles from three complete strangers. . . . but not strangers for long. They wouldn't hear of me staying in a motel, they had a room all ready for me. Isn't family great!

The next day we traveled to the Old Stone Church, but since Eileen couldn't remember the EXACT route, I saw a fair amount of the local area first. I loved it. As we pulled up to the country church, she explained that the records for the church had been lost in a fire when the caretaker took them home for safety and then her house caught fire taking the records with them. I gathered together my camera and purse, opened the car door, and then reached back in for an umbrella. Yes, it rained the whole time we were there, but, on the up side, it makes the headstones easier to read. She showed me the headstone of Annie Lyman, and it had deteriorated quite a bit since she uncovered it. It was almost unreadable. I'm glad she had a photo from when she first uncovered it. Next to hers was her husband, James Bush Allen which was in better shape. As we walked around the cemetery, dodging the worst of the puddles she pointed to this brother, that sister-in-law, an aunt or infant from the family connecting the family relationships. The downpour couldn't dampen the emotion of this experience.

This time I brought the scanner and laptop, and it was a good thing. I could barely comprehend the amount of information that they had assembled. We started by making copies, but soon decided that scanning was the logical solution. It went much faster. We worked late that night, and I was so very grateful for their generosity with their 30 years of research. Comparatively, I could only share a small snippet of information about James Bush Jr. and my family with them, but they seemed happy to get it. I am still trying to sort out everything they shared. Early the next morning I packed the car, they fed me breakfast and gave me drinks and snacks for the trip home. This was an uneventful drive home, for which I was grateful.

Over the course of two days, Eileen and her daughters went from strangers to family -a wonderful transformation indeed. Can I think of another reason to return? Hmmmmm. . . . .