December 1 – Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories

As a young girl, I remember the excitement my brother and I felt when we realized that mom was heading out into the garage and bringing down the Christmas barrels out of storage. Before long, she would be coming into the house with arm-fulls of artificial tree branches, putting them on the living room floor and giving directions to “sort these by size!” before she would head back out for another bunch. I honestly don’t think there was any other time when we would comply so quickly or with so much enthusiasm. It didn’t matter that it smelled old and musty. I didn’t matter that they were prickly. The Christmas decorations were coming out, and the tree was going up!!

I loved our tree, always adorned with different colored lights and then getting re-acquainted with the previous year’s Hallmark ornaments. But there was one thing our tree didn’t have. It didn’t have that one special decoration that was only found at our grandparent’s house.

My Grandpa Parrish would decorate his tree every year and place a white dove somewhere in the tree. A dove, that with the flick of a switch, started to tweet and twitter (before Tweeting and Twittering as we know it today!!). I know that doves don’t tweet – they “coo” softly.  But there was nothing soft and quiet about this decorative bird, and it was exciting for all of the young cousins to make it over to our grandparent’s house each year to first of all locate the dove on the tree and then jump up & down excitedly while waiting for grandpa to flip on the switch sending it’s year-long forgotten sounds throughout the house. We would cheer, grandpa would laugh with a twinkle in his eye that you would swear came from Santa Claus himself, and finally when the tweeting had gone on long enough, grandma would yell in from the kitchen, “Paul – turn that thing off!”

I’m sitting here in my own house now, looking upon my very own tree that I decorated just a few days ago.  Just like my own mother did, armfuls of artificial branches were brought into the family room, and the command to “Sort these by size!” was given to my own children.  Almost like looking back through time, these children obey with more excitement and enthusiasm than what they usually do.

There is no tweeting dove on our tree though, for he continues to sing out only in my memories.

IMG_5634~C.

(The Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories (ACCM) allows you to share your family’s holiday history twenty-four different ways during December! Learn more at http://adventcalendar.geneabloggers.com.)

52 Ancestors #21: Great-Grandpa Homer

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I never knew him, for he passed away eight years before I was born.  There were times during family dinners when perhaps his name may have been mentioned, and for the majority of my childhood, that’s all he was – merely a name.  But families being what they were and are, mine had it’s own state of dysfunction.  I didn’t know my own paternal grandfather until I was maybe nine or ten years old, so it wasn’t odd for me to also not know the details of my great grandfather’s life.   But who was Homer Alonzo Hulbert?

He was the son of Charles and Florida (Kerr) Hulbert and he was born on November 3, 1887 – some say in Huntington, Cabell County, West Virginia and some believe he was born across the Ohio River in Gallia County, Ohio.  That confusion of facts is an ongoing disagreement between my grandmother and I.  Perhaps she is just determined to maintain our family’s Buckeye roots for as many generations as possible.  All I know is that I have a birth record for both places.  Personally?  I wonder if the family lived in Ohio, and happened to travel to Huntington (for whatever reason) where Florida gave birth (hence the West Virginia record).  Upon returning home, they recorded the addition to the family in their county of residence.  But that’s only my opinionated guess.

Tragically, when Homer was just a year old, his mother passed away, as did an older brother at the age of about 8 years old. Whether the two deaths were related is as yet unknown, but the loss of the two left Homer and his (barely) older sister alone with their father who was not yet 30 years old.  His father, Charles, remarried in 1890, but the two children seem to have disappeared for a short time, as they are a vivid absence on the 1900 census that only shows their father with his new wife and the six  children they had together.  I can’t help but wonder, being small children at the time of their mother’s death, if Homer and his sister, Della, weren’t sent to live with a family member while their father attempted to restart his life with a new bride.  Wherever they ended up, I have no record of his childhood years.

By 1910, Homer was now 22 years old, a newlywed and a new father as well, his little family of three living in Piatt County, Illinois.  He had married Miss Carrie Hill in September of 1909, and their first born son, Charles, was born in January 1910.  Three more sons would quickly follow – Wayne in 1911, Donald in 1912, and Homer Jesse in 1914.

Hulbert,Homer & Family

In a strange twist of fate, not long after this photo was taken he found himself in the same tragic situation that his father had been through many years before.  It was in 1917 – not long after the above photo was taken, that his wife passed away, leaving this young father to raise four boys on his own.

Homer would marry a second time, in January of 1919, a young 16 year old, Helen Allen – the daughter of Herman and Sarah (Rentfrow) Allen.  I often wonder what it was like for this young girl to come into this ready-made family with four young boys all under the age of 10 – boys who were certainly missing their own young mother.  Although I can certainly understand that times were different, and perhaps it was “normal” for young women (girls) to be considered as replacement mothers for the children of widowers.  What was their life like as a married couple when Homer was almost twice her age?

Somehow, they made it work, and Helen raised those boys as if they were her own.  In 1925, she and Homer added yet another son to their family.  Robert was born in January 1925, but then tragically died in the spring when he suffered from whooping cough and pneumonia at just five months old.  He was buried next to Homer’s first wife, Carrie, in an unmarked grave in Cerro Gordo.

The following year, 1926, Homer and Helen once again welcomed another son, my grandfather, to their family.  What soon followed was a series of moves across multiple states for this family.  The first was away from the state of Illinois and into northwest Ohio in the late 1920’s.  The same unknown reasons that led my great-grandfather to Illinois as a young man, are probably what led him to relocate with his wife and five boys 20 years later.  Perhaps it was to be close to his sister, Della, for they had made their way to Illinois together, and in 1930, they are both found in Northwest Ohio – he in Bryan, and she is in Defiance County.

In 1934, in a Tucson, Arizona city directory, Homer & Helen and “Homer Jr.” are shown as living in Tucson, Arizona.  Whether this was actually his son, Homer, or my grandfather, I’m not certain.  My grandfather was living in Tucson, Arizona with his mother and father in 1935 (according to the 1940 U.S. Census).  Whoever was living there with Homer and and his wife, Helen, the stay did not last long.  By 1940, they had set up housekeeping in Steuben County, Indiana.

As has happened many times in my Hulbert family line, it was a short time later that Homer and Helen would end their marriage.  In 1942, Homer was living in Fulton County, Indiana, very possibly with his sons, Don and Warren, both of whom were working in the area at that time.

Sometime in the 1940’s, his son, Wayne, made his way to California for a short time.  The story within the family is that on his way back from California, Uncle Wayne decided to stop in Missouri and he purchased a farm there.  He asked Homer to join him, and for a short time, both father and son had a farm in the “Show-Me State”.  It was approximately 1948-49 when they both returned to Ohio.

Homer soon found and married his 3rd wife, Hannah (Schlosser) Allomong.  They were  married in Arkansas and returned to Ohio – for a short time returning to Gallia County, where Homer began his life on the banks of the Ohio River, until finally returning to Bryan and Williams County, in 1959.

The last five months of his life were spent as a resident of the Williams County Home where he passed away in 1964.

This great-grandfather of mine seems to have been a bit of a restless soul.  Constantly going wherever the wind would take him, packing up the family and moving on to where he could find whatever opportunities were awaiting him around the next bend.

~C.

Will The REAL Warren Hulbert…Please Stand Up?

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I recently sat at my desk and looked up on my wall where my Settlers & Builders of Gallia County certificate hangs. These were ten ancestors that made their mark in Gallia County, Ohio and they were ten ancestors that I proudly researched and helped to find their place within Gallia County history. I wanted to make sure that they were really known within Gallia County history.

On this particular day, however, I was bothered by a different ancestor – from the same family, but an uncle from three generations before me. I had never located evidence of him marrying or fathering a child, and at the time of my earlier research, there was no sign that he ever left his surroundings near the Ohio River prior to his death in April of 1920.  That was the extent of the life that I had heard of and researched of my 3rd great-grand uncle.  An uncle who could have easily slipped through the cracks of time as un-noticed, or labeled as too “unimportant” to be nothing more than another name on a single line in the family tree report.  As far as I could tell there was no story to tell.

But what did I know? I was merely going off of what the family historian (a.k.a. Grandma) had – or rather hadn’t told me about any military history with this ancestor.  Basically, if grandma hadn’t found it, it was probably because it wasn’t out there to be found. The “genealogy bug” had only bitten me a few years earlier, so I relied on Grandma to keep me up to date on these details. When I had inquired, she didn’t know anything about his military history, and therefore, in my young genealogist’s mind, there wasn’t  a military history to discover.  

EXCEPT…(Which is kind-of like a “but”.  It’s a big “wait a minute, look at this!” in our genealogy world.)

Except…I was contacted by a stranger through my Ancestry.com family tree who was wanting to share information that he had collected on my ancestor, Warren Hulbert. He had been working on a listing of Civil War soldiers, and wanted to pass along to me the tidbits that he had gathered with regards to the service of my 3rd great-grand uncle.  Unfortunately, the details he shared with me didn’t make sense. Even to my untrained genealogist eye, I questioned the validity of his claims that my ancestor had been a Civil War veteran.  An ancestor whom I should have been proud of in finding out that he served in the Civil War.   However, I wasn’t completely certain that he actually did.

The documents that were shared with me stated that Warren Hulbert had served in the New York Volunteer Infantry.  I would have expected him to have enlisted in Ohio where he was actually living.  Perhaps he had “gone home” to place his service in the state where he was born and spent a large portion of his childhood – but it still seemed highly unlikely.  What I realized was that if indeed my ancestor had served his country during the War of the States, then there was certainly more about his life that I had yet to reveal and discover.

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Warren Hulbert, MY Warren Hulbert, was born 25 September 1838 in Steuben County, New York. He was the fifth child born to Lester and Feronia “Laura” (Henshaw) Hulbert, and he was their third son. The Hulbert family would grow to 11 surviving children and one infant child who died in 1854. It is believed that shortly after the death of this last child, the family moved from New York to southern Ohio where they settled in Green Township, Gallia County.  That’s what I knew.  That’s all that I knew.  That’s all that I thought there was to know.

So you can imagine my surprise when I was informed otherwise by Mr. Ancestry.com Stranger, that there was a possibility that I had an ancestor who was a Civil War veteran that I was not previously aware of. Perhaps “intrigued” is a better word to describe it.  As previously mentioned, the tidbits presented didn’t seem logical to me.

A few years later, I was once again presented with this scenario – that MY Warren Hulbert had served in the Civil War.  I decided that I would pull all the documents and evidence of my ancestor’s life in Gallia County.  I also was able to make a connection at the National Archives who was able to provide me with the Civil War pension file of a Warren Hulbert of New York.  Laying it all out in front of me, I set out to find exactly what the truth was.

Who was the REAL Warren Hulbert?

A quick comparison quickly pointed out that we were indeed talking about two different individuals:

  • Warren (OH) was born in 1838, while Warren (NY) was born in 1842.
  • In 1840, Warren (OH) was living in Steuben Co., NY , while Warren (NY) was not yet born.
  • In 1850, Warren (OH) was still living in Steuben co., NY while Warren (NY) was just down the road in Wayland, Steuben Co., New York.  Close proximity, two separate individuals.
  • Warren (OH) left no evidence of being married, and Warren (NY) had a wife and child.
  • Warren (OH) died in 1920 (I have a death certificate and his Will), Warren (NY) died many years earlier, in 1890. (shown by record of Veteran’s tombstone)

Many other documents presented themselves such as census records, tax records, veteran’s pension file records – all showed these as two different individuals.  I suppose if I’ve learned anything in researching my family, it’s never to assume anything – but short of Warren Hulbert hatching an elaborate plot that consisted of a completely separate family and faking his own death 30 years prior to his actual death…well, that logic just simply escaped me.

Still…there was one particular record.  A record that actually referred to MY Warren Hulbert as a Civil War veteran.  A “soldier’s burial card” that meant his grave was registered with the County Recorder’s Office as a soldier, and in this case …in the Civil War.  I wanted to know more about this card that was registered to him, and was told that sometimes no other information can be located, but it does show that he was a potential soldier or he would not have had this card otherwise.

That led me to inquire at the County Recorder – what kind of registration information did they have for my Warren Hulbert to warrant this card?  The response I received was disheartening, but yet one more step in the direction of finding a final answer:

“I’m sorry, but I have no discharge for a Warren Hulbert.  I do have a listing for a veterans gravesite for a Warren Hulbert for 10/11/1920.  The listing I have does not specify in what war this Warren Hulbert served.  The listing indicates Mound Hill Cemetery but does not specify a grave location.  Wish I could be more help.”

Problem #1 – again, no record to verify that he was a soldier.  Problem #2 – Mound Hill Cemetery?  I don’t think so.  I have a photo from the Hulbert Family Cemetery where he was buried – which agrees with the death certificate that I also have.  So…no.  IF there is a mystery Warren Hulbert buried at Mound Hill, again – it is NOT my Warren Hulbert.

As I try to put into practice the genealogy skills that I learn, I know that there is always a level of family history that we may not know about our ancestors.  We didn’t walk with them to know every single detail of their lives.  But we can research thoroughly, and come to a well thought out conclusion.

For me, I believe that there are just still too many questions, and not enough complete answers for me to believe that MY Warren Hulbert was a Civil War veteran – and that any reference to such is actually a reference to another individual with the same name who lived in the same approximate area where another by the same name once lived, and one who did serve  and sacrifice during the Civil War.

Each man was a real Warren Hulbert in their own right, but still two very separate individuals.

~C.

A Whole New Set of Questions

Genealogy questions, of course! (What else!?!?)

I’ve been actively tearing down, brick by brick, my ancestral wall…or on a more positive note – building my tree, limb by limb? However you might want to phrase it, for the past 5 years or so, my family’s history has been my passion. Maybe “obsession” is a better word for it.

Not to brag, but I was feeling pretty confident of my abilities to maneuver around a Google search engine to find my ancestors! (The real ones…not just the ones that so-and-so says we’re related to).  So when a friend of a friend of a friend inquired about me taking on the task of helping him with his family tree, I thought “sure! How hard can it be?”

Let me tell you how hard it can be. I know that my ancestors were all dead and gone long before I came along, but I had my family’s oral history being passed down to me. Little tidbits about great-grandma or that cousin that made finding out more about their lives just that much easier. I “knew” them.

So when I started the journey of locating ancestors from years past for my friend, I quickly became overwhelmed. Not only did I not have a clue about these people and who they were, but unlike my family members who spent a great deal of time up north in Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois (to name a few), I was suddenly thrown into the deep south of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama trying to locate records and online resources for a group of people I did not know at all. Throw into that, the other side of the Civil War, a world of slavery, and a completely different cultural attitude. This was a lot harder than what I ever expected!

I’m thrilled to say that I’ve been able to uncover 5 generations for my friend.  I don’t know how far I will go for him, after all, my family is still sitting here on my bookshelf waiting patiently each day for me to return and uncover a new relative, or another intriguing story. But I know that when one search goes dry, and I need to refocus, I can pull out my new “family”…the one I’m slowly getting to know more and more each day. Who knows, maybe one day our family lines just may cross!!

In Memory…

In memory and in honor of the ancestors who have gone before me – the ones who died before their time.

  • Infant Hulbert – son of my 4th great-grandfather. Never knew about you until I happened across your stone in the cemetery. Died at only 1 day old.
  • Ferona Margaret Hulbert – daughter of my 3rd great-grandfather. I have a picture of you as an infant, and you only lived to the age of 3, probably the only picture taken of you.
  • Florida Kerr Hulbert – 1st wife of my great-great grandfather. You died shortly after giving birth to my great-grandfather. Thank you for your gift of life into our family.
  • Robert Allen Hulbert – great uncle – another one I never knew about. You died as a toddler, and when you were buried a stone was never put in place to honor your memory.
  • Charles Orville Bingle – my great grandfather – the story of the fall to your death was one told often in our family, you left a young wife and 3 small children who missed you greatly.
  • Nettie Peak – my great-grand aunt, killed at the hands of her husband. Your death was not spoken of, and it’s tragic knowing that domestic violence was just as horrific an act 50 years ago, as it still is today.
  • Sarah Lucretia Comer – my 2nd great grandmother who died shortly after giving birth to my great grandfather. You were loved and greatly missed by your family.
  • Jessie Parrish – my great uncle who died at only 2 years of age from a tragic railroad accident.

Although all of the ancestors I research are special to my family and their history, these are just a few of the those that have always saddened me with their stories.

~C.

Just When You Think You Know Someone…

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I grew up out in the middle of nowhere, in the middle of corn fields. Two houses down from us sat a little house trailer with a couple of newlyweds. An older couple, but newly married to one another in 1980. Many times my brother and I could be found down at that little house trailer, usually underfoot of this couple, but always having a blast. They did more than tolerate us, they loved us. We shared our holidays together, they got my brother his first job, and when we were old enough they were the ones who bought us our “big kid” bikes – mine was a 15-speed Schwinn.

Here’s the thing – this couple was my grandmother and her husband. Not my actual grandfather, as they had divorced in 1977, but being as I was so young when Art came into our lives he was still known as “grandpa” to me.

Grandpa Art was quiet and didn’t say much. He loved going out to his woodshop and spending an entire day doing…well, he spent a lot of time out there tinkering on this, working on that, repairing something, building anything…just working. He had a smile that made his eyes squint into little lines, and when he laughed he would lean back and give his knee a little slap while he chuckled to himself.

He was also Hawaiian – straight from the islands, Hawaiian. All of his family were still living on the islands, but here he was in Northwest Ohio where many times he was seen as a black man married to a white woman. We all kind-of wondered about his life, and my parents tried to get him to open up, but the most we ever found out was that he had come from a large family with many brothers and sisters. He also told us that after the attack on Pearl Harbor he worked with the Army Corp of Engineers. Then he would often clam up, we assumed the memory of what happened there was too vivid, too disturbing for him to want to share any more.

Fast forward to a few years ago. I had started working on my family’s history, Grandpa Art had passed away a few years prior, and the idea of trying to research Hawaiian records to learn more about this quiet man was too good to pass up (and how great would THIS genealogy field trip be if I just had to go to the islands!). I had no idea what I was about to find.

Little did I know that the birthdate he had given us was not his true birthdate. I was able to track down a great-niece of his who was wonderful in helping me fill in the blanks on grandpa’s extended family. She also went to her mother who was able to tell her the family stories on her “uncle Art” – the man who left the island and went to Indiana to work and was living in Ohio.

You see, he didn’t cross the Pacific willingly. There was a reason he remained quiet about his life before, and there is a sad story of his life since coming to the mainland. A story that involves the wrong group of friends, and a cross-country trip trying to find his way afterward. There is the tragedy of his father coming all the way from Hawaii to Michigan to visit, only to die of pneumonia after he got here.  All of these are just tiny puzzle pieces of a life that I have yet to put together to see the entire picture of my grandfather’s life.

But I know my grandpa, and there was a reason Grandpa Art was a quiet man. His memories of his life’s choices were his own demons that seemed to haunt him. As a genealogist, I can’t ignore the facts of his life, but I do choose to look at these details as the parts of the story that helped him to become the man we knew – the man who cherished our grandmother, and the quiet grandpa whom I loved.

Wright, Gpa & Gma

Military Monday – 4 July 1944

(Continuing the letters written by our soldier to his sweetheart – “as is”)

My Dearest little Darling:

Just a line to the brightest little ray of sunshine in my life on the darkest day I believe. Now aint that a hot beginning but I mean it dear. But I sure am blue and home sick today. If I was the kind of man that indulged in intoxicating refreshments I think I should be tempted to get on a real one today. I went over to beer city with Sparks and had a couple of beers last nite then went to the 8:00 show. They sure do have a nice theater hear. I came in the Rec. Hall writing this and the boys are practicing for a littel program they are going to put on tonite. I just wrote dad a letter and told him we were going to get married. I might not have you but I will have the papers to show that you are mine. Have you written that letter we were talking about Sun.? I hope so as I think we should have decided to of done this a long time ago. I don’t know if I will be able to get a pass Sat or not, but if I feel like I do now I will be home one way or another if you get what I mean.

Good morning sweet heart this is the 5th. I was call out yesterday and didn’t get to finish this but I am going to finish it now if I have to whip the whole damn army and I feel like mabey I could do it today, of course I would probaly change my mind before I got through. I should have my ___ kicked for not finishing it. last night I went to a damn program instead I sure am cussin this morning aint I.
I sure do wish I could re-arrange the alphabet so I could put U & I closer together this morning. Honey if I ever get out of this Army I won’t even go out on the porch unless your along. I miss everybody but I miss you most of all. I don’t know what I would do if they shipped me out west or some other far away port and it would be just my luck for it to happen. I am planning on getting it this week or the first of next.
Chap Taylor got shipped Mon. so I guess it is a good thing he did go home over the wkend, if you happen to find out where he went to let me know will you. I was sitting out in the park yesterday watching all of the boys with there folks and sweethearts and wives and I got the strangest feeling I wanted to call you so bad but it cost so much and I decided I hadn’t better do it. It makes me feel like I was a tramp or something of that nature any how because it has been a long time since I couldn’t spend a dollar or two and not miss it, but I suppose I might just as well get used to it. It wouldn’t be so bad if I was training or something to help get this war over but I’m not doing anything and this damn sitting around is about to get the best of me.
I don’t think I will ever feel right till the day they tell me that I can come back to you. I was showing your picture to some of the boys the other nite and I told them you were my wife. Please don’t be mad at me for telling them that. if I hadn’t they would of wanted your address and honey I guess I’m powerful selfish but I don’t want any of them writing to you. I know it wouldn’t hurt anything if they did but if you have any time to write any body I want it to be me. I will probably find out someday to my sorrow that I am just to jealous of you. Dearest if anything ever happened that I couldn’t have you I don’t know what I would do I love you so much. I wouldn’t care if I didn’t have anything else when I got out of here if I had you to help me I could get the rest. Honey please don’t ever change your mind about wanting me.
Honey have you taken those films in yet? I hope so I am very anxious to get those pictures. Well toots I suppose I had better close this thing because I have to write mother a letter. I have only written her once since I have been in here.
I hope you have seen Don by now. I have to write him a letter two so this is me signing off with all my love and with but one thought in mind and that is of a gal that is going to be my wife soon I hope.

Yours
First, Last, and always
I! Love! You!

Just Another Phone Call ??

One day…many years ago, it was just another Manic Monday. My phone was blinking with (count them) 8 messages. EIGHT! And when it wasn’t blinking, it was ringing and alerting me to something else that needed done. And when that phone wasn’t ringing, someone was calling me on my cell phone…or texting me. I was coming dangerously close to having a “Calgon, take me away!” moment.

My son had actually been 3 of the 8 messages, calling to alert me he was staying after school to study – then calling again to see if I got his first message – then calling a 3rd time to let me know I had to come pick him up. Just as I hung up the phone, grabbed my keys and was on my way out the door to head over to the middle school – the phone rang yet again.

I looked at the caller ID and I read it in my head as “National something or other calling to solicit.” I then proceeded to pull out my annoyed voice from deep down within and answered my phone with the most exasperated sounding “hello” that I could muster. It wasn’t hard. I was truly annoyed and exasperated at that moment.

The voice on the other end said to me:

“Hi, this is so-and-so from the National Archives and Records Administration in St. Louis, Missouri…”

I know she said something else, but that was all I needed to hear. I had to sit down and prepare myself for what she was about to tell me.

You see it was about 9 weeks prior to this crazy day, when I had completed the paperwork and sent away for my grandfather’s military file from World War II. (The same soldier who’s letters I have blogged about). I popped the paperwork in the mail and busied myself with other things thinking it would be months before I would hear anything. Imagine my surprise when just a few weeks later, I received an envelope from them in the mail. Yes I was intrigued to say the very least, but this was not an envelope that was the size of a military file or anything, so I cautiously opened it only expecting to see a letter saying that grandpa’s file was destroyed in 1973.

1973 – the year when a devastating fire would rip through the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis, literally destroying 80% of the Army personnel files of soldiers who had served between 1912 and 1960.

But 80% – well that leaves 20% that weren’t destroyed, right? I had to take a chance and hope that just maybe grandpa was part of that 20%. So as previously mentioned, I had mailed off my request and kept my fingers crossed. The letter I received back just 3 weeks later wasn’t exactly hopeful, but not entirely disappointing.

It stated that more than likely, yes- the file was probably destroyed. But to be sure, please fill out form #2, and if it pertains, form #3 and then they’ll dive in and see what they can find. Form #2 was easy to fill out, just some additional basic information that I was able to get just from reading his letters, and Form #3 didn’t pertain to him. So another stamp and envelope and the new info was off to St. Louis again. And again, I tried not to dwell on it.

Until today.

When the phone rang as I was walking out the door.

And I heard her voice telling me where she was calling from.

And that’s when I had this incredible urge to sit down and hold my breath so I wouldn’t miss another word.

“We received your additional information that you sent us, and yes, your grandfather’s file was lost in the fire.”

(#$%*#.)

I felt my heart drop just a little bit as it sunk in, but I continued to listen as she started on additional information she had for me, one sheet of paper on grandpa that pertained to his military history. A paper that listed only some basic information such as his enlistment date, his final station, and a few other things that I already knew and just didn’t foresee it being worth the $20 to look at this paper.

(Did I mention I’m a cheap-skate genealogist? Excuse me…I mean, frugal.)

And so, yes, disappointing is an appropriate word to use describing how I felt, and I now despise that 1973 fire officially more than the fire that destroyed the 1890 census records. But …BUT…the more I thought about it, how cool was it that someone who works on behalf of the National Archives took the time to personally call me and let me know this information? I mean, really, I was most definitely impressed that my request had fallen on this woman’s desk and she took the time out of her day to call me rather than just sending me a cold, form letter alerting me to the single paper that was available and the desired file that had become a pile of ash many years ago.

I found that to be a top-notch customer service move in my book.

Well played NARA.  Well played.

C.

DNA! What Does It Mean?

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DSC_0227Remember this photo? I suppose I could go out on a limb and tell you this is an extended family photo. Ancestors upon ancestors upon ancestors are represented in this photo.

Right now you’re thinking, “Candy – it’s just a cheek swab.” Well guess what. It’s my blog, and it’s my DNA, so if I say it’s an ancestral photo it’s an ancestral photo. Moving on…

I once wrote that this was the beginnings of a story, and I still think it is. I’m just not entirely sure of all of the characters and details within this story. But I’m working on it! The beginnings of this story (other than the initial cheek swabs) is that I was given an opportunity to try and test Ancestry’s DNA test product before it was offered to the general public. I wasn’t really surprised when the email arrived telling me they were getting into the DNA side of genealogy. They are one of the biggest names recognized with genealogy, and I’d say my reaction was more like “It’s about time!” They were providing the test kit and the results…I was providing the sample. And $10 shipping. I jumped on the chance to be a part of this, and considering that these tests run anywhere from $99 to $269 depending on the sort of testing that you want done, I could afford the meager $10.

In November 2011, I responded to the email,ordered my kit, swabbed my cheek, and sent it back to the lab just as soon as I possibly could. When I say without delay, I mean it. I responded to the email – that day. The day it arrived in my mailbox, I swabbed my cheek and returned it via my postal worker hubby, the same day. I was told via email that my results would be available sometime “early next year”. Thought it was a pretty vague time frame, but again, I wasn’t going to complain over the opportunity.

Early the next year arrived.  2012.  I wasn’t naive enough to think that on January 2nd there was going to be an email waiting for me telling me where I came from. It would have been nice, but I knew better. I even told myself not to look for anything until the end of February. Good thing too, because there were no results at the end of February. Fast Forward to a Friday in March…A new episode of GTV (genealogy tv) was airing – “Who Do You Think You Are”, which just happens to have major sponsor Ancestry.com…and SURPRISE! The new episode was featuring the results from their new DNA testing! Well now that the cat was out of the bag, surely my results would be on the way, right? Nope. My email inquiry was answered that it would be a few more weeks.

So I waited.

And waited.

All of this waiting was leading up to the time when I was able to take my mind off of my waiting and was able to keep myself busy preparing for the release of the 1940 U.S. Census images. (I had the sinking feeling that my DNA results would arrive the same day as the ’40 census images were being released! What would I do? Which would get my attention?? As it turns out, there was no conflict.)

I have a friend who believes that I have to be at last 1% Asian. (Fairly certain they were being just a wee bit of an “intellectual rear-end”) My dad has always thought that maybe, just maybe, there was a wee bit of Africa running through our family. This was due to an ancient family picture that showed a great-great-great aunt with what appeared to be features of a colored woman. I have been able to trace my dad’s paternal side back to England, so I wasn’t completely convinced of his theory. As it turns out, the facts don’t lie.

April of 2012,  I received that wonderful email, alerting me that my results were in! At that time I clicked through the provided link and found my results:

I clicked through the link and this is what I found…

  • 38% Scandinavian
  • 33% British Isles
  • 24% Central European
  • 5% Uncertain

Intrigued? Of Course! Fascinated? Certainly! Surprised? Not really. Especially with the finding that 33% of me is British Isles (That was more of a “Whew! I did that research right!” reaction). The Central European I don’t completely understand since it doesn’t look very “central” to me. But that could just be me and my geographically-challenged self. But I do know of a family on my maternal side that did originate from Germany, so this also makes sense. But it’s the majority of me, that 38%, that is showed of Scandinavian descent. As in – Sweden, Norway, and Denmark. That’s the one that had me saying “Huh…never saw that coming.” Although again, not completely blown away in surprise. Let’s face it. I’m a white girl’s white girl. But since I’ve yet to get my paternal grandmother’s family out of Ohio, this at least gives me a little something to look forward to one day. When after years of research, finally stretching beyond the borders of the Buckeye state, reaching that coastal edge of our country and realizing that before they stepped foot on this land, they sailed from …. Scandinavia??

Yep. Never saw that coming at all.

Fast forward a few years – Ancestry’s product has done well for itself in the genealogy DNA department, and they’ve constantly made changes to the testing they do and other scientific things that just make my head hurt to attempt to understand.  Basically, they’re able to narrow it down even further.  My updated DNA looks like this now:

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  • 58% Great Britain
  • 16% Scandinavia
  • 13% Ireland
  • 5% Europe West
  • 3% Italy/Greece (Aha! There is an inner Italian in here somewhere!(
  • 2% Iberian Peninsula
  • Less than 1% European Jewish
  • Less than 1% Europe East

Even Common Core math tells me that all in all, I am 99% European.

And that remaining 1%?  Would you believe that is a mere trace amount of DNA from West Asia?

Huh…go figure.

C.

A Good Name

What qualifies as a good name?  As parents, Mr. D. and I put a lot of thought into what we would name each of our children, making sure that they were named after someone incredibly important in our lives or that the very meaning of their name would be a testament to their lives.  But let’s face it, naming the kids isn’t always an easy task.  It took us until after our 3rd child was born before we agreed on a name for him (and even then I totally pulled the “I gave birth to this child, I’m naming this child” card). Sometimes, the names are trendy, and sometimes they’re just plain weird.  So…in honor of the oddball names that every family has at least one of, here are a few from my heritage.  Starting with the most obvious…my own.

Candy – Really mom? You had to do it? What were you thinking? Okay, granted my given name is Candace, but to be honest nobody calls me that except for the IRS. So here I am, 42 years old with a name that is best known as the only name given to strippers, prostitutes, and air-head cheerleaders in the movies. The story that I’ve always been told is that I was going to be named “Heidi” until the morning I was born.   As my parents were reading the newspaper, they came across a wedding announcement where the bride’s name was…yes, Candace. My mom said she was such a beautiful bride that she decided then and there I would be Candace and not Heidi. (Almost makes me want to dig that newspaper up in the library archives and find out who the woman is that was ultimately responsible.)

Moving on…some of my favorites from within the branches of my family tree ~

Nettie & Zettie – twin sisters

Experience – I actually have a few of these

Goldie – Hmmm…retriever or great-grandmother?

Florida & Mississippi – Not a single relative in either of these states, but they got named after them?

Loizy – Not Lois, not Lizzy…but Loizy

Lucretia – I have no idea.

Mehitable, Honor, Temperance, Beriah, Bethyah – Quite a few of all of these, not surprisingly from colonial era.

Feronia – I have no idea, but momma loved it so much she named 2 of her daughters with this one. (Ferona & Feronia)

and last but certainly not least… Lioka, Kailani, Kaiu – Thanks to my Hawaiian ancestors (which just begs the question of how a white girl from the midwest ended up with ancestors on the Islands? Well that’s another story for another day!)

C.

(This post originally appeared Party of Five in its original form.  I have updated it and included it here as part of my family history.)