Tuesday, July 2, 2013

A Seventy-seven Year Old Letter From Auntie - part two.

Now for the last two pages recounting the Legend of Isleta as told by Auntie - Anna McDonnell.

Page 3

As the years went by other missionaries took up the work of the martyred one – they built a church, which still stands although more than two centuries have intervened.  When the church was finished the Indians wanted to bury the body of their beloved priest within its walls, but when they started to dig on in the sands to bring up the body for reburial, they found to their amazement that the trough, or rough coffin they had buried the priest in had risen to the surface of the earth.  This legend was oft repeated by the Indians, so Bishop Daeger of Santa Fe, one of the few Franciscan Bishops in the United States decided to have an investigation made.  He accordingly called together a number of the clergy, newspaper men, lawyers, and towns people of Albuquerque and nearby territory, and I will tell you of the Phenomenon, just as the Father related it to me that day.

     He told me that the trough, made from the cottonwood tree, was as well preserved as though it had recently been buried, although according to science the soft wood of the cottonwood tree should have rotted and crumbled away after it was under ground for a good length of time.  When they opened the trough they found the body of the priest in a mummified state, which means an unusually well preserved condition of the dead body.  He was buried in the clothes he had been murdered in.  The cloth in his clothes was of a very coarse weave, like basket cloth, and was immediately confiscated by the people assembled there, to be treasured as a relic of this martyred priest who lost his life in the cause of religion.  Father (blank) showed me several pieces of the cloth that he had encased in a little golden reliquary – he told me that he was delegated by the Bishop to wash the body of the priest and prepare him for a Christian burial in priestly vestments, so he brought a basin of water and some clean linen cloths and proceeded with the washing of the body.  When he told me this I exclaimed, Father, you don’t mean to tell me that a body buried 350 years was still intact and that you were able to wash it?  Yes he said, he was I a perfect mummified condition.  He said that he raised one arm and washed it, then the other and finally turned him over so as to wash his back – all this being done in the presence of City Officials and Newspaper Men, who had gathered there with the clergy and people to witness the investigation.

     He said that when he went to wash his back, he noticed a small hole right under the left shoulder blade where the poisoned arrow had entered and pierced his heart.  Out of this hole three little red worms wiggled – he took them I the palm of his hand and showed them to the bishop – he then crushed them and gave them no further thought.  After finishing the washing of the body, he dressed it in new priestly robes and they enclosed it in a new casket and buried it down 10 feet, putting large stones on top, to weight the casket down, hoping that after this Christian burial his body would rest at peace.  I have been told that the church officials have since started an appeal to Rome, to have the martyred priest canonized a Saint.

Page 4

     The little Father told me that three days after this Phenomenon took place, his hand and arm began to swell and a bad case of blood poisoning set I – they rushed him to the hospital and the doctors despaired of saving his arm, or even his life.  He begged them not to amputate his arm and he prayed very fervently to God to spare him so that he could go back to work among the Indians, with whom he had been for over thirty five years.  He spoke their language fluently and was a great favorite with them.  He was a young French Priest, whose health was failing him in the old world, and the doctors ordered him to go to where the climate was high and dry and he would overcome the lung trouble he had; hence his arrival in New Mexico among the Indians with whom he remained all these years.

     After a long siege the doctors were able to save him without having to amputate his arm.  He returned to Isleta and began to ponder on what caused his illness.  He remembered the three little worms and figured one of them bit him, when he held them in his hand while washing the priest’s body.  He finally concluded, however, that he was afflicted because his hands were unworthy to touch the body of a Saint, which the martyred priest undoubtedly was.  Be this as it may, the worms originating in the hole where the poisoned arrow entered, must have been deadly poison for the Indians in those days used to extract poison from the head of venomous snakes to poison their arrows with -  that poison never dies; consequently the worms were poison.  There is a law in the Western Country that anyone killing a rattler must bury the head, so that nothing can come in contact with it.  As far as the little priest being unworthy I think that a priest who could live among the Indians for thirty five years, speaking their language and teaching them the word of God must be a pretty good saint himself.

     Before I departed he showed me a “Special Decoration” he had received, a few months previous, from the King of Belgium, who with his Queen visited the United States shortly after the World War was over.  The King and Queen heard Mass in this same little Indian Church and was so impressed that he presented the “Special Decoration” to the pastor – he was very proud of this honor from the King.

     I thanked him for his kindness in giving the information I sought and after receiving his blessing joined my friends who were waiting on the outside.  On our way back to Albuquerque I gave serious thought to things that had been told me, and I shall never regret my trip over the Old Indian Trail to Isleta.  A few seasons later I learned that this little Father had lost his sight entirely, and shortly thereafter passed away on to his eternal reward.  May he rest in peace.

     And now dear Gloria, I will bid you good night, thankful for the opportunity of refreshing my memory regarding one of the most interesting experiences of my life.  When you read this little story in the years to come think kindly of your Aunt and remember me in your prayers.

Monday, July 1, 2013

A Seventy-seven Year Old Letter From Auntie

Last Monday evening a storm came roaring through as we were intently watching an episode of Walander (subtitled).  It arrived suddenly and with only a few moments of warning.  The power popped off and on three times before my house settled into a permanent darkness.  Since I am not on city water, this means I was also without water which is the more difficult of the two. . . no water = no bathrooms!  This condition lasted for 3 days!

With all of this time on my hands, what could I do?  A two drawer file cabinet that had a hodge-podge of genealogy records and photos called to me.  I did not need water or electricity to sort and organize and the room had two large windows for light.  Piled haphazardly inside were a few forgotten photos, a college scrapbook, newspaper clippings, and lots of letters from my high school and college years.  Buried in the middle of all this was a letter written in 1936 by Anna McDonnell to my mother when she was twelve years old.  Anna was always known as “Auntie” and I have written about her before here, and here.  In the letter, Auntie recounts an experience that she had sixteen years earlier while o vacation in New Mexico.

Warning!  This letter is quite lengthy and the opinions, characterizations, and terminology are strictly those of my long dead great aunt and the 1920 time period she lived in.

                                                                                   November 5th,
Written from memory at the
Request of my Niece-

     Dear Gloria you asked me to write an account of the “Legend of Isleta” an Indian Village about thirteen miles from Albuquerque, New Mexico.

     In the summer of 1920 I was visiting at Mountain View Ranch, the beautiful home of some former Chicago friends.  My hostess, Mrs. Booth, told me that about a month before my arrival in Albuquerque, there had been an official investigation made, regarding the body of a Missionary Priest (do not remember his name) who has been murdered by a hostile tribe of Indians, some three hundred and fifty years ago, and whose body kept coming to the surface of the earth, as if in supplication for some one to take notice and give him a decent Christian burial.

     The last time his body came to the surface was in the Spring of 1920, the year I was there, so the little French Priest who was pastor of the church at Isleta called the Indians together and asked the oldest one of them, who was supposed to be around a 115 years if he could remember any other time the body had come to the surface. He said he remembered well – said that it was about 80 years before, adding that the was one of the Indians who helped bury the body at that time, and could show them right where it had been placed.  It was this legend that prompted the little priest to conduct the investigation which took place shortly before my arrival there.

     My friends at the Mountain View Ranch, being non-Catholic, thought it would be of interest to me to drive out to Isleta and see the church where the phenomenon took place.  Accordingly one bright day we drove out the old Indian trail to Isleta – we followed a mud road for 13 miles, as there were no paved ones leading there.  Once we struck a rut in the road and were given such a jar that I had the back of my head injured, and it was about two years before I got over the effects of that bump.

     When we arrived at the Old Mission Church, we saw a sight I shall never forget – there were about 100 Indiana women and girls engaged in building an Adobe mud fence, about four feet high, around the church yard. They were dressed in their native costume, with Red Plaid Shawls and White felt wrappings around their legs.  A few men were standing around overseeing the job, one of whom was their Governor.  He was a tall stately Indian, who made the laws for the village and ho was responsible to the state of New Mexico for seeing that the laws were kept.

Page 2

     When we got out of the machine, the Indians eyed us critically – so I approached the Governor and asked permission to go into the church – upon assuring him I was a Catholic he allowed us to pass through the gate.  It was a surprise to me to find no pews in the church – however, I was told that the Indian custom is to sit on the floor and listen to the “White Father” during the service.  The walls of the church were decorated very fantastically, and it would be a strange place indeed if it were not for the Sanctuary Lanm burning before the Tabernacle, warning all comers that the Divine Savior was present there.

After a hurried inspection of the church my companions went back to the car to wait while I made a visit to the pastor.  On crossing the church yard I encountered a young Indian girl, so I asked her if the Padre was home – she told me he was and she showed me to a door that opened through a high board wall and bade me enter.  The wall was about 8 foot high and painted white and hid from view the pastor’s home on the other side.  The church yard was a desert sand, without a blade of grass anywhere – the Indians used the church yard for their burial ground and many are the dead Indians beneath that burning sand.  You can imagine my surprise, upon passing through that door to find on the other side a beautiful Oasis – there were trellises covered with roses and the White Magil, or Wood Dove was flitting about from place to place.  There was a long veranda the full length of the house, and walking up and down the veranda, with his arms folded was a young Indian as if keeping guard.  The house, which I presume was originally built for a fort, was but one story high, and the narrow horizontal windows were located near the roof, to afford a safe lookout, if any enemies were near.

     I asked the young man if he would please notify the Padre that I would like to speak to him – he lead me into a comfortable room with a large fire place and andirons that were indeed antique.  A warm Navajo rug was spread in front of the fire place – the furniture was plain, but good, and the place had all the appearance of comfort and refinement, such a contrast to the Indians on the other side of the wall, in their native costume.

     When the pastor came into the room I introduced myself, telling him I was from Chicago, and that I would like to learn something definite about the occurance that took place when the priest’s body was reburied in his church.  He was very courteous and after asking me to be seated told me of the “Legend of Isleta”

     Some 350 years ago the Mission Fathers of the Catholic Church worked very hard to advance civilization among the Indians.  Father (blank) was a favorite with a tribe he had converted, but while they were traveling overland, near Santa Fe, they were attacked by a hostile tribe and their beloved Padre was struck by a poisoned arrow, causing his death.  After the battle the survivors carried the body of the dead priest along with them a distance of 60 or 70 mes – they settled at the place now known as Isleta a short distance from the Rio Grande river. They cut down a huge cottonwood tree, hewed out the center and placed the body of the martyred priest inside.  They then buried him beneath the sands where they formed their village.

Because of the 4 page length of the letter, I will post the last two pages tomorrow.  See you then . . . .

Thursday, June 13, 2013

It Took a Perfect Storm but . . . Will the Real Alfred Soderberg Please Stand Up?

I know it has been a while since I posted, but my real time family and events have been occupying my time and thoughts.  Additionally, I have been wading through Swedish records piecing together my husband's family since the beginning of April.

In the past, I have ignored his family because:
A. My husband seemed totally disinterested only mildly interested
B. His grandfather changed his name and this seemed like an impossible hurdle to overcome
C. Swedish records intimidated me
D. I was more interested in my own family and had made family connections that supported
     and encouraged my obsession

Then, last March, while we were discussing where to go for my Spring vacation the beginning of April (I'm a teacher) I had an inspiration.  I told him that I wanted to stay home and spend the week researching his family AND I wanted him to go with me! On his mother's side, the family immigrated to and lived their lives in La Porte, Indiana, a town only 45 minutes from our house, and his father's family has lived in South Bend, Indiana for four generations.  He agreed, and so I began to plan.

First on my list was to contact the State Archives to get the naturalization records for his South Bend grandfathers - Alfred P. Soderberg and August Nylen.  I found the Archive contact information on the South Bend Area Genealogical Society (SBAGS) website.  If you have any South Bend ancestors this is a must visit website.  Soon I heard from the State Archives that they had located the records, and if I would send them $15, they would mail them off to me.

The family story was that Alfred had changed his last name to Soderberg when he immigrated because his brother who immigrated several years before him had taken the name Soderberg.  No one knew anything about this brother other than they remembered that he supposedy lived in Chicago - name unknown.  They had no idea why he took the name Soderberg. The only other information they remembered was that he came from Småland - a very large county in Sweden. Wow, talk about a brick wall!  My hope was that his naturalization papers would give me a clue.

Then just before Spring vacation, the naturalization records arrived.  There was no indication of his name in Sweden, but it did list the name of the ship, Campania, the port, New York, and the date of arrival, September 28, 1900.  Now, I needed to follow these breadrumbs.  Next I went to  the passenger search section of the Ellis Island website.
Click to enlarge
While I did find the ship, there was a $15 charge for a copy and the digital file was too pixelated to read, but it gave me enough information to find the Campania passenger list on Ancestry.com in the New York Passenger Lists 1820-1957 database.  The only problem was that I couldn't find anyone with the first name Alfred listed who was the correct age, and there was only one person with the last name of Soderberg - a Jonas Soderberg who was four years too old and traveling with a ?? (unreadable) Josephson who was going to his brother's in South Bend.  I was trying out all types of theories in my mind.  I knew one of these two had to be him, but it just wasn't lining up.

Searching for more information I planned a visit to the local Center for History.  I was told that some of the early church records for Gloria Dei, a local Swedish Lutheran Church had been given to the center.  Dragging my husband and his brother with me, we met with the archivist, and she brought out a box of random photos and documents, then explained that they also had folders of records alphabetically by last name but they were all in Swedish.  Yes, please. She disappered into a back room and brought out the thick folder labeled "S".  As I leafed through, I was thunderstruck when I found a Flyttningsbetyg - the official exit permit issued by the pastor of the parish in Sweden from which the immigrant came - for a Peter Alfrid Josefsson with Josefsson scratched out and Söderberg witten above.

 Translation from Ancestry.com message board:
Translation for Alfred Soderberg Flyttningsbetyg
Moving out number 6
Moving Certificate
(for one person)

1. the son living at home Peter Alfrid Josefsson (crossed out) Söderberg 
2. from Anggärdshult (That is a place in the parish.)
3. is born the 7 August year 1877 (seventy seven)
4. in Hvittaryd (modern spelling: Vittaryd) parish in Kronoberg county
5. is vaccinated (against smallpox, but the certificate doesn't say that)
6. is baptised
7 has in the Swedish church (been) confirmed and possesses (owns) acceptable "försvarlig" = good enough, reasonable, passable
8. has in the Swedish Church had Holy Communion
9. (left blank) is to Communion taking unimpeded. (The "o-" in "obehindrad" corresponds to English un-.)
10. (left blank;probably the line is there in case line 9's entry needed more space)
11. Enjoys public confidence.
12. (left blank, probably as an overflow line for # 11)
13. is free to marry
14. has royal (i.e., government, not the king's) permission 24 August 1900 to emigrate 
15. As conscript registered with number 59 28/1898.
Note: Before 1901 the conscripts had rather short period of training, and were a reserve to the regular army, to be called up if there was war. He was conscript number 59 in area 28 in the year 1898. And being conscript is why he needed permission to emigrate.
16. moved to Indiana (parish is crossed out) in North America (county is crossed out)
17. testified (certified?) Hvittaryd's (modern spelling: Vittaryd's) parish in Kronoberg county
18. the 7 September year 1900

I thought to myself, "This has to be him. Even the birthdate is the same." but still the fornames are reversed, and I didn't see Småland listed anywhere.  Note:  I have sinced learned about counties, parishes, and crofts in Sweden but at the time my knowledge was very limited!  I had a couple of hours before my shift started at the local library book sale so I decided to stop by the Local & Family History room of the St. Joeph Co. Public library to see if they had any records for the Gloria Dei Lutheran church.  Again I hit the jackpot.  He was listed with his family as Peter Alfred - the reverse of his naturalization record - in the membership records for the church.

Left side - click to enlarge

Right side - click to enlarge
So by putting it all together I now know that Alfred Söderberg arrived in this country as Peter Alfrid Josefsson, but it took documents from the State Archives, on site records from a local history center, microfilm of local church records from the library as well as online passsenger lists . . . a perfect storm of documents from a variety of sources using a variety of methods - internet, mail, in person, and library microfilm.  Answers usually come from piecing together information rather than a single document, and I encourage you to seek out those local resources, especially churches, that may have the puzzle piece you are missing. 

The best part is that this was only the beginning.  The Flyttningsbetyg as well as the microfilm of local church records held the key to locating his family in Sweden since, unlike his naturalization paper, which only states that he was born in Sweden, the church records told me the name of the parish, Hvittaryd and a place called Anggärdshult.  Swedish records are organized and held at the parish level so this knowledge is vital to successful Swedish research.  I am now learning how to browse my way around the Swedish records on Ancestry.com and have discovered the most generous and helpful individuals on the Swedish message boards - another resource. 

Änggärdshult - circa 1950(1 of 4 homes)
 It has been a flood of information since the discovery of his birth name.   I have learned that he lived much of his life in a two family stone cottage on a rented farm known as Sörskog which was part of the Erikstad estate.  According to Rosenberg's Geographic Dictionary of Sweden, Erikstad in Kronoberg is an Old estate at the SW. extremity of the lake Vidöstern in Hvitteryds located in the judicial district of Sunnerbo. I learned that his father, Josef Jönsson became too ill and feeble to farm in 1897 and so the family moved to Änggärdshult, a series of four small homes for those unable to work any longer.  His father died in 1898.  His oldest brother, Sven Johan, who had been listed as "sickly" on several previous census records died in 1918 with tuberculosis cited as the cause of death.  His mother died in 1916 still living at Änggärdshult.  

It has been an amazing ride. I have gone from an unknown surname in Småland to a complete family and the actual farm where they lived.  What first seemed like an impregnable brick wall has been totally smashed beyond what I ever dreamed possible, but it took a perfect storm!  I am still on the trail of his brother, Jonas. I found him last in San Francisco with a possibility that he moved to Minnesota.  The search goes on.

And the impossible has happened . . . my husband is interested in his family history.  

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Reunite These Soldiers With Their Families

Tom Brokaw called it "The Greatest Generation"  in his book about the generation that grew up during the Great Depression, and then as young men they fought for freedom during World War II with many dying far away from home in foreign lands.   This was the generation of my mother, Gloria Kennelly who graduated from Chicago's Providence high school in 1942.  Most of the young men were either in uniform or soon would be.  Young men and women of this age became friends and sweethearts quickly offering  promises to write hoping it would keep them connected to the lives they left.  They exchanged pictures . . . a visual rememberance of home while they prayed friends at home would remember them.

At the very back of  my mother's photograph album were several pages of photos of a few of these young men in uniform.  Some have names, some do not.  I have tried a few Ancestry searches in an attempt to locate remaining family members and have sent emails to individuals that listed men of the  same name and about the correct age.  So far, no responses.

So today, I want to share them with you.  Let's remember these heroes who left home and family when our country called.  I hope they made it back home safely . . . realistically, some did not.

Francis J. Carney

Corp.Francis J. Carney

Photo taken at Camp Elliot, San Diego, Calif. 1941. 
Enlisted Aug. 29, 1940.  Overseas 10 January 1942 to February 13 1943

I believe that this photo on the right is also of Francis J. Carney, and it was taken outside of my mother's home on Monroe St. in Chicago's Garfield Park neighborhood. Was he from her church, a neighborhood boy, or a young man she knew socially?  I'll never know. There is no name on the back so I have made this assumption of his identity by comparing their faces - enlarged through the wonder of digital editing software.


Robert S. Garthwaite, USN
There are several photos of Robert S. Garthwaite in my mother's album, usually they were just signed, "Red".  Did he have red hair, a ruddy complexion, or was there another reason for the nickname?  The black and white photos don't give us a clue, but in my mind's eye, he has red hair.  Luckily, one photo had his name on the back.

Paul Waywood
Paul Waywood
On the back of the photo, in my mother's handwriting, it says "Here's a picture of that Paul Waywood that I sent the Christmas box to."  There is no other information about him - no clue as to his military designation, rank or location.

James A. Blazek, pilot
 James Blazek

Back side of above photo

There is absolutely no information about James Blazek other than his name.  How did my mother know him?
Which brother is this?
John J. Tyrrell or Thomas Tyrrell

I have several photos of this young man and none of them identify him.  However in several of the photos, he is with my mother's best friend, Marilyne Tyrrell.  He and Marilyne look so much alike with identical smiles, it must be her brother.  But Marilyne had two brothers, John was four years older and Thomas was two.  Which brother is this?  One photo has a date of Feb. 1943 . . . but that was when it was developed, not taken.  You see,  1st Lt. John Tyrrell was killed in action January 9, 1943 at Guadalcanal. I don't know when he enlisted. Thomas enlisted in 1940, but mercifully survived the war.


With nothing but "Bob" to go by, I am afraid that he will remain forever unidentified.  Despite that, I wanted to include his photo and words in this post. "Dearest Gloria,  Well, you can't say you didn't ask for it.  Now suffer in silence.  Taken in Camp Henco, on the desert of New Mexico.  In the background are the tents we once used and though it was rough. It's home to us now.  Write soon,  Love, Bob

Philip Carpenter
a co-worker at the Herald American
Article from unknown newspaper. Scan of original in my possession.
These are the soldiers whose faces stare at me from my mother's album.  It is a reflection of the times she lived through.  While this may be a futile post, I feel better for this small remembrance of their service to our country. 

If you can reunite any of these photographs with their families, I would love it. 

Saturday, February 16, 2013

The Girls of Chicago's Providence High School . . . What Became of Them?

Providence High School - Chicago
 My mother, Gloria Kennelly, graduated from Chicago's Providence High School in 1942.  During that time period, Providence was a Catholic high school for girls.  She lived in the Garfield Park neighborhood, and so it was just a few blocks away on the opposite side of the park.  I wonder if she walked around the park or through it?

View Larger Map

My previous post about the home the Kennelly family rented for many years caused me to drag out the large cardboard box of photos I discovered on my closet shelf last summer and sift through it once again.  I always get bogged down looking through family photos. Time stands still as I pull my glasses to the end of my nose, tilt my head down so I can peer over them, and bring the photos up to within five inches of my face hoping to see some small clue that is hidden in it.  Invariably, I start to compare, sort, stack, and categorize only to find that even with my many, many categories, there are photos that don't really fit anywhere . . . or, conversely, fit everywhere.  What should I do?  So I gather them together, and, in true Scarlett O'Hara fashion, plan to deal with them tomorrow.

Well, tomorrow arrived.  Once again, I started to sort and stack. One of my stacks I mentally labeled as Providence High School.  As I pulled pile after pile of photos out of the box, the Providence stack grew larger. Naturally, my mother had not labeled any of the photos with names.  My curiousity about these girls grew as I saw them posing and laughing in photo after photo.  I love a photo set.  It seems to tell more of a story than a single photo, and I have shared photo sets before on this blog.

I wonder . . . whatever happened to them?  World War II was raging, the only eligible men were under 16 or over 40, and rationing of consumer goods had just begun. But in the faces of these 18 year old girls all you see is excitement and expectation for the life in front of them.  What were their lives like?  Happy or heartbreaking?  Exciting or wasted?  Do they have children or grandchildren who would cherish a glimpse into their grandma's past?  Are there 1942 graduates still around who could identify them?  Will you help me?

I present the Girls of Providence circa 1942

Coming out the front doors of Providence - March 1942. 

Compare to the photo above to discover the photographer for this photo. My mother, Gloria Kennelly, on far left.

 Watch those skirts, girls!

Chicago is the windy city.  Forget the hair . . . they're all smiles!

Let's take a break.   What else can we do?  Gloria Kennelly front right in plaid skirt.

Do you get a feel for personalities from this set?  Who is shy and who is gregarious?

Is the salute a sign of the times or are they saying, "Goodbye high school.  Hello life"

 On another day outside of Providence

The photo says February 1942, but this is not February in Chicago!  Gloria Kennelly, back row, center right.

Gloria Kennelly back row left.  Can you help me identify her friends?

Will I ever be able to identify them . .  or even a few of them?  In 1969, Providence merged with the all male St. Mel's becoming a co-ed school.The current school - Providence-St. Mel's is located in the original Providence building.  I called the school and inquired about their records.  They directed me to the alumni association, but it turns out that this is considered a "lost" period due to water damaged records.  They also suggested that I might try the Sisters of Providence, but I am not exactly sure how to do that. Did they have yearbooks? . . . I haven't found any yet, but I have a search saved to ebay just in case.  I do have a copy of the commencement program with the name of each graduate, but that doesn't match them to the girls in my photos.  I think the Beatles have the perfect song for this:

The 1942 Providence Commencement Program
Click to enlarge and read names

Click to enlarge and read names
Update! A 1940 yearbook has been found, and I have identified many of the girls - to the best of my ability.  Read my latest post to see the yearbook photos alongside the faces of the girls above.  With many thanks to Tony!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Merry Christmas . . . to Me

Vera Bradley hard shell computer case
I have been terribly unfocused recently (more so than usual) flitting from one side of the family to the other and from one hobby to another with work sandwiched in between.  I can't help it.  I'm a baby boomer, and I want it all!

I have multiple posts titled and languishing because I know it will take some major time to put them all together.  Of course, it is exactly that hoped for organization that propelled me into blogging in the first place.  So, I will start with this very simple and very late post about my newest family history toy wonder.

Flip-Pal scanner
For Christmas, I received a check from my brother-in-law because he was at a loss for what to get me. It was a very generous check, and I knew exactly what I wanted . . . a Flip-Pal scanner!  Ever since last summer when I discovered the giant box of old photos on a top shelf in my closet I have dreamed of a Flip-Pal.  At the two genealogy conventions I attended, I would walk more slowly past their booth and watch as they demonstrated the marvelous stitching ability of this mighty mite.  On two previous research trips to Iowa, I lugged my full size scanner which had to be connected to my computer.  This was awkward and not without a few problems.

I placed my order but went with just the basic scanner . . . had to stay within my budget.  I knew I wanted a carrying case, but the one on the website seemed a bit wimpy and did not really provide protection.  Ah ha!  There was a new Vera Bradley shop at the outlet mall in Michigan City, and I was looking for an excuse to buy something.  I was sure they would have something I could use.  After all, Vera Bradley has a bag for everything. I looked up the dimensions for my new purchase and off I went. I entered the store and was greeted by a giant sign that told me there was an additional 30% off their already lowered prices.  I walked around and around looking at everything and opening anything that was remotely the right size.  Then, at the back of the store on a lower shelf was THE perfect case.  It was a hard shell case with a quilted cloth exterior, a zippered pocket on the side and a shoulder strap. It was my dream case.  Oh no, the size was just a bit too small for the dimensions listed on the website.   I decided to wait until my little gem arrived, hoping that the actual Flip-Pal would fit.  This turned out to be a good decision as my dream case was also the Perfect Case.  I added a matching small zippered case to hold the USB stick that comes with the scanner and clipped it to the handle. 

The case was created for a mini computer, but with the repositionable Velcro sticks that can be placed anywhere in the interior, it is perfect as you can see!  Best of all the cost was a mere $24.  I would suggest that Flip-Pal pair with Very Bradley to offer these perfect cases on their website.  Can I get a commission for suggesting this?   You can travel to your nearest Vera Bradley outlet, or order one from their website.  No guarantee that the price will be the same and the price varies by the pattern chosen.  I do realize that purple floral might not be a male Flip-Pal owners cup of tea.  Oh well . . . Merry Christmas to me!

Disclaimer:  I have not received ANY compensation from either Flip-Pal or Vera Bradley. . . shucks.    I doubt they even know I purchased their products. I am just a very satisfied and enthusiastic new owner of scanner and case.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Pan . . . Christmas 2012

Well, I can't let a Christmas go by without showing "The Pan" in its most recent finery.  My brother has always been an extremely talented woodworker, but this past year, he purchsed a new CNC router.  Somehow, I knew that "the pan" would be decorated in  splendid wood, and I was right.  He used our family tree and created a billboard of our grandparents back through 20 generations.  And no, before you ask - we don't have documentation for all of them.  There are many in the latest generations that have been attached to our tree by another family member, but as of now, we consider them family.

I am glad I have a year to plot plan what I will transform it in to next, because right now my mind is blank!  It still has the wood office/desk divider glued to the inside.  I think that might be a problem to remove . . . .hmmmmmm.

If you are new to my blog, you can read about the origin of "The Pan" and its reincarnation in subsequent years: 2009, 2010, 2011

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Thank You for the Nomination

A very humble thank you to Heather Kuhn Roelker at Leaves for Trees and  Iowa Girl at Iowa girl Memories.  Both kindly nominated   me for the Liebster award.   For me this was nice because I have let my blog reading grind to a halt, and I haven't added any new blogs to my RSS feed in ages.  Both of their blogs were new to me, and I have enjoyed reading them immensely.  Like me, Iowa girl is a knitter and through her other Liebster awards, I was introduced to some wonderful blogs including a gansey knitter from Edinburgh, Scotland.  While reading Heather's blog, I discovered that she is a new quilter and I have quilted for years . . . following in the footsteps of my seamstress extraordinaire great grandmother whose quilt is part of my banner at the top of my blog.  I was even a vendor at quilt shows for over ten year, and have often found my quilting passion overlapping my family history passion.  Examples are here and here.

What is the Liebster Award?  I could try to be creative, but Heather said it best so I will just quote her.
"Liebster is a German word that means friend, dearest, adored, beloved, chosen one. The Liebster Award is given to bloggers who have less than 200 followers. The whole point is to encourage bloggers to keep chugging along and to help spread the word about interesting blogs to a new audience.

The rules for the award vary. Some bloggers ask for a list of questions or random facts to be answered and some just post their nominees."
  • Thank the one who nominated you by linking back.
  • List 11 random facts about yourself/your blog.
  • Nominate five blogs with less than 200 followers.
  • Let the nominees know by leaving a comment at their sites.
  • Add the award image to your site (optional).

As I have stated, my blog reading has stagnated so rather than nominate blogs and require them to link back I will just recommend a few of my favorites and hope you will check them out . . .  no obligation on their part.

Shakin' the Family Tree - A quote from her blog opening  gives you a flavor for the no nonsense atitude of Dee Burris.
as Julia Sugarbaker said in Designing Women:

"...we're proud of our crazy people. We don't hide them up in the attic. We bring 'em right down to the living room and show 'em off. ...no one in the South ever asks if you have crazy people in your family. They just ask what side they're on." Like Julia, mine are on both sides.

A Sense of Family - If you have Ohio ancestors, then Shelley Bishop's blog is a must read.  It is a treasure trove of research information.

Finding Eliza -  Always a fascinating read but her current post about awards is spot on my feelings.  While you are there, take time to search for and read her post/poem, "I Come From . . ." - or the title is something close to that.

Family Archaeologist - While there are no recent posts, take time to go back and read the story of how Linda Gartz grandparents immigrated to the United States.  It is a compelling story.

'On a Flesh and Bone Foundation': An Irish History -  If you have Irish ancestors, then you will enjoy the photos and stories from Jennifer.

When life allows it, I spend a few hours minutes reading family history blogs.  We have a creative, knowledgeable, sharing community. It doesn't matter if they have 10 followers or 10,000.  And while comments on our blog posts are encouraging, and greatly appreciated, most of us blog for self fulfillment above all else.

Thank you for reading my blog.  Thank you for commenting on my blog.  Thank you for being a family historian and saving the story of your family for future generations.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Hellooooo . . .Marcia Fennell

About six to eight weeks ago I noticed that one of my posts was being viewed a disproportionate number of times.  It was my post, At the End of the Trail in which I concluded the story of my search for Margel B. Wells, my grandmother's best friend in high school.  Since her name has now come down to me, I was interested in finding out who she was and a bit about her life.  I remember asking my grandmother about when I was still a teenager.  I found out more than I ever thought possible.  It was a personal quest and few . . . very few . . . readers paid any attention to this post.  No matter.

 Then this past Fall, six months after I posted, it became my most read post, and this activity continued week after week.  I was baffled.  I searched to see if the related posts on Margel B. Wells were also being read, but it did not appear that they were.  Very interesting . . . then my stats showed that the majority of page views were coming from France.  That was really interesting.  This continued for over six weeks when suddenly, I found the following comment on the post, "I am Marcia Ann Fennell, Margel's daughter. How do I contact you? Now, this made sense.  Margel B. Well's family must haved found my post and probably told other family members about it.  Unfortunately, the comment was anonymous, and she left no email address for me to answer her.  I had no way of contacting her.  I did the only thing I knew to do and answered the comment on my blog listing my email address hoping she would come back to it . . . but she has not. 

The activity on this post continued for a few more weeks, but I never heard from Marcia Fennell.  I would love to make contact with her and share the other information I have about her mother.  Maybe she even has photos of my grandmother that were left  in her mother's belongings.    The activity on that post has dwindled to previous miniscule levels.  So this is my plea to find her.

Helloooooooo . . . Marcia Fennell.  My email is listed in the column to the right.