Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Collecting Sophia's Immigration Information

Sophia (Meinzen) Kropp is my current person of interest.  She is my great-grandfather Henry Meinzen's (assumed) sister.  I'm slowly going through sources suggested by her obituary to see if I can find a source that connects the two individuals as siblings.  Immigration documents aren't high on my list for satisfying the relationship but I decided it's worth finding whatever information I can about her immigration to the U.S.  I've come to think of this experience as "collecting" Sophia's immigration information because not every source had the same information. 

I began my search based on the statement in Sophia's obituary that she and her husband, Carl, "came to America in 1887 and settled here [in Steubenville/Jefferson County, Ohio]."  I knew this date could be wrong or just as easily be right.  It was a starting point.

I haven't searched immigration records for a while and didn't realize FamilySearch had images and transcriptions, so it was not my first choice for searching.  Instead, I headed over to the National Archives website where I searched their passenger lists at Access to Archival Databases.  There I found this information for three different individuals named Sophia Kropp.  I noticed that two of them travelled on the same ship.  (Click images to enlarge.)

I clicked through to see information for the 44-year-old Sophie Kropp and found this:
I looked at the images for Sophia, age 44, and Sophia, age 11, then found a record for Carl Kropp, age 52.  These individuals seem likely to be the correct family, but the transcribed information is limited to generally personal information.  Additional, non-personal information:  Sophie travelled from Germany to the USA and planned to stay here and she travelled in steerage.  I did not learn the date of arrival nor the name of the ship.

I next searched the Castle Garden.org where I found this information about the older Sophia.
This confirms the information from The National Archives but adds the arrival date of September 23, 1887; the town of departure, Bremen; and the name of the ship, Saale.   I found Carl Kropp, age 52, farmer, and Sophie Kropp, age 11, on the same ship with the same arrival date.

"Germans Immigration to the United States" at MyHeritage had a similar transcription with the same information and added the port of arrival as New York.

At Ancestry I learned that the Saale's port of arrival was, more specifically, Southampton, New York, and found an image of the ship, details about the ship, the name of the shipping line, and an image of the passenger list.  The passenger list was not very clear.

Last, I went to FamilySearch to see if perhaps they had passenger lists.  I found a clear image and a transcription.  The ship's name was given as something other than Saale but I could imagine how a transcriber could have made the error.  FamilySearch gave the arrival date as only 1887.

I looked at previous pages on FamilySearch, hoping to find detailed information on the first page of the passenger list but did not.  Does one sometimes have to accept the transcription as accurate when the handwritten source can't be found, or should we always question a transcription?

Considering the variety of information and the number of sources, when it comes time to add Sophia and her family to my RootsMagic database citing these sources for this one fact will be a bear.

Looking at search results for the same information from five different websites was an interesting exercise and reinforces to me the usefulness of searching several websites when the first doesn't provide the details you seek. 

--Nancy.

Copyright © 2009-2016 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.
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Sunday, September 25, 2016

Sophie (Meinzen) Kropp in the 1910 U. S. Census

I'm working my way back in time searching for Sophia (Meinzen) Kropp, hoping to find information to support her relationship as sister to Henry Meinzen, my great-grandfather.  I moved from the 1920 U.S. Census to the 1910 U.S. Census.

Sophie (or "Siphie," as the census taker wrote) is at the tail end of the list of family and hired men who lived with Sophie's daughter and son-in-law.  She was already a widow at that time.

In 1910, Sophia and her family were enumerated in Wintersville Precinct, Cross Creek Township, Jefferson County, Ohio, on April 23, 1910, recorded in S.D. #18, E.D., #95, Sheet 4B, lines 56-67, Family #73.  This image is from FamilySearch.  (Click to enlarge images.)


A partial transcription for Sophia's family is as follows:
  • Spahn, John, head, male, white, 35 years, married 10 years, born Germany, immigrated 1889, naturalized, speaks English, dairy farmer, can read and write, owns farm with mortgage, #21 on farm enumeration
  • -------, Siphie M, wife, female, white, 33 years, married 10 years, mother of 4 children, 4 living, born Germany, immigrated 1887, naturalized, speaks Englihs, can read and write
  • -------, Wilhelmine S A, daughter, female, white, 9 years, single, born Ohio, attended school
  • -------, Carl J, son, male, white, 7 years, single, born Ohio, attended school
  • -------, John [?], son, male, white, 4 years, single, born Ohio
  • -------, William T, son, male, white, 1 3/12 years, single, born Ohio
  • Clendenning, LeRoy M, hired man, male, white, 33 years, single, born Ohio, speaks English, laborer on dairy farm, can read and write
  • Hoffstetter, John, hired man, male, white, 31 years, born Switz, parents born Switz, immigrated 1887, naturalized, laborer on dairy farm, can read and write
  • Nicelworth, Michael, hired man, male, white, 25 years, single, born Germany, immigrated 1904, Al[ien], speaks English, laborer on dairy farm, can read and write
  • Schuchter, Ignecz, hired man, male, white, 21 years, single, born Germany, immigrated 1907, Al[ien], speaks English, laborer on diary farm, can read and write
  • Wittstrom, John, hired man, male, white, 21 years, single, born Germany, immigrated 1904, Al[ien], speaks English, laborer on diary farm, can read and write
  • Kropp, Siphie, mother-in-law, female, white, 65 years, widow, mother of 6 children, 4 living, born Germany, immigrated 1889, speaks German, can read and write

Comments and Observations
I don't know if there was a prescribed order of recording individuals living in a dwelling but I've never before seen a mother-in-law listed after hired men.  The order I usually see is family, grandchildren, in-laws, hired/non-family members.  Might the order in this census suggest something about the mother-in-law/son-in-law relationship in the Kropp/Spahn family?

Because I'm working backward it makes sense that if Sophia didn't speak English in 1920 she wouldn't have spoken English in 1910 but one can never tell from census records.  It's possible the 1900 census may record something different.

Sophia's immigration year was noted as 1889 in this census, as 1899 in the 1920 census.  Her obituary gives her immigration year as 1887.   If Sophia immigrated between 1887 and 1889 she would have been between 42 and 44 years old.

From this census I learn that I should search for six children, four living and two dead (in 1910).  Did two die in the U.S. and/or in Germany?  Because Sophie's listed as a mother-in-law, the wife in this census, Sophie/"Siphie" Spahn, was likely born Sophia Kropp and is the older Sophia's daughter.  First child of six found.

The search continues.

--Nancy.

Copyright ©2016 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.
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Thursday, September 22, 2016

Two Centenarians in My Family

Because it's International Centenarians Day I'd like to honor two family members who lived past the age of 100.  They are no longer living, of course, but no matter how you look at it, 100-plus years is a long time to live and worthy of remembrance.

Mina, Minnie, Wilhelmina Meinzen Harris
The first honoree is Elizabeth Wilhelmina Meinzen Harris.  In her younger years she was known as Mina, Minnie, or Wilhelmina (as recorded on various records).  About the time of World War I, when it seems no one had to go through any legal process to change a given name, she became Elizabeth W. Harris.  We called her Aunt Mina.  She was my paternal grandfather's sister.

I knew Aunt Mina from occasional visits to her home and her visits to my grandparents' home.  She seemed a stern aunt when I was a child in the middle of the last century.  She was a precise, accurate, children-should-be-seen-and-not-heard, and children-should-speak-when-spoken-to kind of aunt.  My mom's sister recalls that Aunt Mina had an excellent memory (could recite the alphabet backward, could name and give dates for relatives and ancestors' births and deaths), and could sew practically anything.  Mina married George K. Harris in 1910.  They had five children before George died of scarlet fever on December 15, 1926.  She carried on alone, working from home, providing for her family, and raising her children to adulthood.  Her stern, non-nonsense demeanor was, perhaps, both a sign of the times and necessitated by being a widow with five children earning an income in the early part of the 20th century.

Aunt Mina was born on January 26, 1885, and died on March 14, 1986.  Aunt Mina's memory never failed her.

Brendice Gerner Davis
I'd also like to honor Brendice Kathryn Gerner Davis, my paternal grandmother's youngest sister.  Brendice was to be my grandmother Beulah's helper after my father's and his sister's births but Beulah and Dad's sister both died soon after his birth.  Our family didn't have much association with the Gerner side of the family because of my grandmother's death.  It's not that ties are broken with the death of a mother but perhaps they are loosened a little and there is less contact with grandchildren and a widowed son-in-law. 

However, there had been enough contact for my father to receive help from Brendice and her husband after he left home.  Brendice's husband, Ray, helped my father get a job and I understand that Dad lived with them for a short while.  We visited Brendice and her family occasionally during my childhood years.  She also seemed a no-nonsense kind of person.

Brendice was born on October 9, 1895, and died on March 3, 1996.

When I think of these two aunts, born ten years apart in the late 1800s, I can't help but think about the changes they saw in the world around them during their lifetimes.  Riding in horse-pulled buggies and railroad cars was probably the norm when they were young.  Kitchen duties may have involved baking bread in wood-burning stoves, hauling water from a well outside the door, and, of course, doing dishes by hand.  By the time they died, people were speeding along the interstates in air-conditioned automobiles or flying to their destinations.  Store-bought bread was the norm, as was indoor plumbing and dishwashers.  How times change over 100 years. 

Just for fun I compiled a list of some inventions they saw during their lifetimes.  Invention dates do not indicate that the inventions were in use or available at reasonable prices.  It often took years for inventions to filter into common use.

Work Around the Home
Zipper, 1891
Gasoline-powered vacuum cleaner, 1899
Electric vacuum cleaner, 1901
Electric washing machine, 1906
Upright vacuum cleaner, 1907
Microwave oven, 1947

Food
Coca-Cola, 1886
Cotton candy, 1897
Frozen food, 1924
M&Ms, 1941
Fast food (McDonald's, White Castle, Wendy's, etc.), 1950s

Communication
Telephone, 1876
World Wide Web, 1989

Entertainment
Camera simple, all-purpose, fixed-focus camera, 1888
Basketball, 1891
Motion pictures, 1893
Radio (first practical system of wireless telegraphy), 1895
Tape recorder (magnetic steel tape), 1899
Radio, first long-distance telegraphic radio signal sent across the Atlantic, 1901
Crayola Crayons, 1903
Radio, regenerative circuit, allowing long-distance sound reception, 1912
Motion pictures with sound, 1926
Television, first all-electric television image, 1927
FM Radio, 1933
Kodachrome commercial photographic film with three emulsion layers, 1935
Polaroid Land camera, 1948
Color television, 1951, 1953
Compact disk, 1972
VCR and VHS home videotape systems, 1975

Transportation
Automobile, various kinds, 1885-1892
Airplane, 1903
Tank, military, 1914
Car radio, 1929
Helicopter, double rotor, 1936
Jet propulsion engine, 1936
Helicopter, single rotor, 1939
Jet propulsion aircraft, 1939
Seat belts in cars, 1962

Office Supplies and Equipment
Ball point pen for marking on rough surfaces, 1888
Paper clip, 1899-1901
"Scotch" tape, 1929
Xerography, 1938
Ball point pen for handwriting, 1944
Electronic mail, 1972

Medicine, Health, and Personal Care
X-rays, 1895
Aspirin, 1899
Safety razor successfully marketed, 1901
Insulin first isolated, 1921
Discovery of penicillin, the first modern antibiotic, 1928
Electric razor, 1928, 1931
Sulfa drugs for antibacterial activity, 1935
Measles vaccine, 1953
Polio vaccine, 1952; safe oral live-virus vaccine, 1954;  officially approved, 1955
Heart, temporary artificial, 1957
Pacemaker (internal), 1957
Heart implanted in human, permanent artificial, 1982

Modern Conveniences
Escalator, 1891
Air conditioning, 1911
Aerosol can, 1926
Bar codes, 1970
Personal computer, 1976

Major Events
First man in flight
World War I
World War II
Nuclear bomb
Man on the moon, 1969

Miscellaneous
Revolving door, 1888
Electric motor with alternating current, 1892
Bakelite, first completely synthetic plastic, 1910
Radar (first practical radar-radio detection and ranging), 1934-1935
Teflon, 1943

In the case of these aunts I suppose the most life-changing inventions/discoveries would have been the ones they used regularly in the home, such as electric vacuums, washers, dryers, fans, etc.; for transportation, especially automobiles; and in the areas of health care, vaccines, and medications to control pain, infection, and improve health in general.

If I should happen to live 100 years I wonder what the list my descendants would compile might look like.  One hundred years seems like a very long time.

--Nancy.

Copyright ©2016 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.
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Friday, September 16, 2016

The Best Place to Find a German Immigrant's Hometown

Again I face the daunting challenge of searching for the hometown of my great-grandfather Henry Meinzen's (assumed) sister, Sophia (Meinzen) Kropp.  I haven't yet been able to find Henry's hometown so I'm not sure how much hope for success I can muster for finding Sophia's.  My pattern has been to search, search, search, then give it a rest for a year or two, then search some more.

Yesterday I read a FamilySearch Blog post, Tracing German American Immigrants by Nathan Murphy, in which he reviewed research by Roger P. Minert concerning the likeliest places to find the hometowns of Germans who immigrated to the U.S. before 1900.

Dr. Minert's research indicates that the most likely place to discover an immigrant's hometown is through local church vital records in the U.S.  This means that if you can discover your ancestor's congregation, and if records were kept in that congregation and included the hometown of origin of your German ancestor, and if the records were not destroyed, and if the church has a historian or is kind enough to let you search their records (and you can read and translate old handwritten German script), you may be able to discover your ancestor's city of origin in Germany. 

Zion Lutheran Church and Parsonage, Steubenville, Ohio
Zion Lutheran Church and Parsonage, Steubenville, Ohio
I may be in luck.  (I'm mustering some hope.)   Sophia's obituary stated that she attended Zion Lutheran Church in Steubenville, Ohio, the same church her brother attended.

A few years ago I began a search for church records for Henry.  Since the church was a Lutheran church I contacted several Lutheran Church organizations, including ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran Church of America).  I finally learned that Zion Lutheran Church had no affiliation with other Lutheran churches and in the early 1900s it became Zion United Church of Christ.

At the time of that discovery Zion UCC had a historian who was able to decipher old German handwriting and was willing to search the old journals.  I can only imagine what a challenging search it must have been to scour page after page -- 50 years' worth of records -- searching for Henry and his children.  She stopped at 1870, the year of Henry's marriage, which did not yet name his home town.  He immigrated in 1866 so it's possible that had I asked her to search those four more years his city of origin maybe have been found.  (At the time I didn't have the heart to ask her to look through four more years after having searched so many already.)

I hesitate to ask her to search further back in the records for Henry and also search for Sophia and Carl Kropp.  I hesitate but now that I know church records are the one best source, I know I'll decide to contact the church again and ask for this help.

Possible places to learn of an ancestor's church affiliation are obituaries, cemetery records, and marriage records.  Newspaper articles about church activities and events sometimes also name participants in the activities.

For more information about searching for your German immigrant ancestors and Dr. Minert's work, go read the post.

I may be hoping against hope, but hope I will!

--Nancy.

Copyright © 2009-2016 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.
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Thursday, September 15, 2016

Sophia (Meinzen) Kropp in the 1920 U.S. Census

Sophia (Meinzen) Kropp's death came a few months after she was enumerated in the 1920 U.S. Census.  She was living with her daughter and son-in-law, Sophie and John Spahn, and their family.













Sophia and her family were enumerated in Wintersville Precinct, Jefferson County, Ohio, on January 16 & 17, 1920, recorded in S.D. #17, E.D., #182, Sheets 7A and 7B, lines 49-59, Family Visit #144.  (Click to enlarge images.)


Partial transcription for Sophia's family is as follows:
  • Spahn, John, head, owns home with mortgage, male, white, 45 years, married, can read and write, born Germany, speaks English, Farmer, General Farming, own
  • -------, Sophia, wife, female, white, 43 years, married, can read and write, born Germany, speaks English
  • -------, Wilmena, daughter, female, white, single, 19 years, single, not attending school, can read and write, born Ohio, speaks English
  • -------, Carl J., son, male, white, 16 years, single, not attending school, can read and write, born Ohio, speaks English
  • -------, John W., son, male, white, 13 years, single, attending school, can read and write, born Ohio, speaks English
  • -------, William T., son, male, white, 11 years, single, attending school, can read and write, born Ohio, speaks English
  • -------, Anna, daughter, female, white, 8 years, single, attending school
  • -------, Mary, daughter, female, white, 5 years, single, not attending school
  • -------, George, son, male, white, 2 years, single
  • Kropp, Sophia, grandmother, female, white, 76 years, widow, immigrated in 1899, can read and write, born Germany, cannot speak English
  • McClain, Elmer, hired man, male, white, 19, single, not attending school, can read and write, born Minnesota, speaks English, laborer on farm, earns wage

Comments about this record
I did not transcribe the immigration years for the individuals.  Immigration years vary from 1889, 1884, and 1899 even though all of the children were noted as having been born in Ohio.  Further research suggests that Sophia Kropp, her husband, Carl, and their daughter, Sophie (Kropp) Spahn, immigrated in 1887.  (More about that in another post.)

It's noted in this record that Sophia Kropp cannot speak English.  I'll be interested to see if the 1910 and 1900 censuses record the same information.

--Nancy.

Copyright ©2016 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.
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Monday, September 12, 2016

Research Hints from Sophia Meinzen Kropp's Obituary

My first acquaintance with Sophia (Meinzen) Kropp was in her obituary of Thursday, September 9, 1920, in the Steubenville Herald, which stated that her brother was Henry Meinzen (who is also my great-grandfather).

In addition to her death date (September 6, 1920), Sophia's obituary offered the following clues for further research.
  • born in 1842 (celebrated her 78th birthday on Saturday, September 4)
  • born in Germany
  • married Carl Kropp in 1861 in Germany
  • immigrated in 1887
  • settled in Steubenville/Jefferson County upon arrival
  • Carl Kropp died ~1905 (passed away about 15 years ago)
  • member of Zion Lutheran Church
  • survived by two daughters and son:  Mrs. John Spahn, Mrs. Minnie Schuette, and William Kropp, all of Steubenville

It is unfortunate that Sophia and Carl arrived in the U.S. in 1887 instead of seven or eight years earlier, when they could have been included in the 1880 census.  As it is, the first census in which they appear is the 1900, living with their daughter, Sophia, and her husband John Spahn.  I've been able to discover more about four of Sophia's children and her husband using FamilySearch's collection of Ohio sources, which I'll post over the next days and weeks.

My hope in searching for Sophia is that she will lead me to hers and my great-grandfather Henry Meinzen's parents and siblings in Germany (assuming that she and Henry really are siblings).

--Nancy.

Copyright © 2009-2016 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.
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Sunday, September 11, 2016

Ordinary Moments

The quote below, from The Gifts of Imperfection by Brené Brown, brought to mind my mother's old, out-of-focus photographs -- snapshots captured spur-of-the-moment, of ordinary, everyday times in our lives.
I think I learned the most about the value of ordinary from interviewing men and women who have experienced tremendous loss such as the loss of a child, violence, genocide, and trauma.  The memories that they held most sacred were the ordinary, everyday moments.  It was clear that their most precious memories were forged from a collection of ordinary moments, and their hope for others is that they would stop long enough to be grateful for those moments and the joy they bring.  Author and spiritual leader Marianne Williamson says, ‘Joy is what happens to us when we allow ourselves to recognize how good things really are.’

Life offers highs, lows, and everything in between.  It's usually easy to remember the highs.  In fact, we often take photos of the highs and share them with the world.  The lows we suffer and cry through, sometimes alone.  But the in-between moments, the ones that repeat every day, often go unnoticed -- just another day.  But aren't they the ones that develop our natures and characters and forge relationships with family members and friends?  Aren't those ordinary moments that ones that wrap us in the security of family, love, and home?  They help us remember who we are when we have those low times.

Cherish those ordinary moments, too.

--Nancy.
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Thursday, September 1, 2016

September Celebrations Among Relatives and Ancestors

It looks like September was the most popular wedding month among my ancestors.  Four direct-line ancestor couples, including my parents and my maternal grandparents,  married this month and five collateral-line ancestors married.  I nearly always ask myself, why this month as opposed to some other month.  September's probably a better month than some, especially if you consider transportation in the 1800s.  It would have been easier to set up housekeeping when one didn't have to transport furniture and food in horse-drawn vehicles in rain or snow.

Living Relatives
September  2   Matthew S.
September  9   Natasha
September 22   Adam and Valerie
September 24   Aedan Q.
September 28   Jesse D.

Parents and Grandparents
September  1, 1861   Ellis H. Bickerstaff and Emma V. Nelson
September  8, 1914   William Carl Robert Meinzen and Emma Virginia Bickerstaff
September 13, 1888   Beulah Mae Gerner
September 15, 1938   Lee Doyle and Audrey Victoria Meinzen
September 23, 1872   John Thomas Thompson and Lydia Bell
September 25, 1870   Henry Carl Meinzen (the younger)
September 29, 1848   Frederick K. (Fred) Gerner

Among My Collateral Lines
September  1, 1898   Gust Froman and Mary Ann Smith
September  2, 1907   Nellie G. Hashman
September  2, 1916   Russel Rhome and Naomi Faye Meinzen
September  3, 1896   Carl Nelson Meinzen
September  3, 1909   Ernest A. Gerner
September  4, 1841   Thomas S. Bartley
September  4, 1846   Thomas Hardy
September  4, 1937   Junior D Gerner and Evelyn Wire
September  5, 1874   Maria Watts
September  5, 1933   William Bickerstaff and Dorothy Justine Clemmens
September  9, 1909   William Henry Bickerstaff and Lucy M. VanKirk
September 11, 1831   Augustine Bickerstaff
September 12, 1921   Edward Eugene Gerner
September 15, 1852   Mary Ann Laws
September 17, 1884   Nellie Elizabeth Leonhart
September 18, 1844   Lavina (Vinnie, Viney) Bell
September 19, 1923   Baby Bickerstaff
September 20, 1909   Jack Davis Gerner
September 24, 1866   Robert Doyle
September 24, 1867   Tressa Rose Froman
September 24, 1900   Ethel Marie Bell
September 24, 1921   Isabelle P. Hashman

Happy Birthday, Happy Anniversary, all!

--Nancy.
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Monday, August 1, 2016

August Celebrations Among Relatives and Ancestors

Among my ancestors there were no August weddings.  I don't know why that is but think it's possible that my farming ancestors, weighed by labor-intensive responsibilities, were too busy with the harvest of field crops and garden vegetables to take time out for a wedding.  While the men were working in the fields, the women may have been putting food by for the winter months, canning tomatoes, corn, and other vegetables.

As for births, one would think responsibilities would have been lighter in November than in the summer or early autumn months, but who knows.  

Living Relatives
August   6    Carly S.
August 10    Michael and Nancy M.
August 23    Eva L.

Grandmother
August 24, 1852    Elizabeth Armitage, my mother's paternal grandmother

Among My Collateral Lines
August   5, 1909    Flora Victoria Bickerstaff
August   7, 1935    Janet Faye Martin
August 12, 1904    William N. McClelland
August 13, 1836    Thomas Laws
August 15, 1798    Sabra Bickerstaff
August 17, 1882    James R. Thompson
August 19, 1904    Infant Meinzen
August 19, 1905    Marie Hashman
August 20, 1906    Louise Snair or Snare
August 20, 1946    Jeree Lee Foulk
August 21, 1910    Anna Bell Hendricks
August 23, 1906    Catherine or Katherine or Kathryn S. Kitch
August 27, 1879    Ella Dray
August 27, 1888    Jessie Thompson
August 28, 1880    Marie Isabella Meinzen
August 28, 1938    Janet Lu Patton
August 29, 1886    William R. Henderson
August 29, 1896    Alice May Bickerstaff

Happy Birthday, all.

--Nancy.
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Sunday, July 31, 2016

No Death Date

As a family historian one of the facts I most hope to find for every ancestor and relative is a death date -- on a tombstone, a death certificate, or any other document.  But this is one time when I am positively delighted that there is no death date.

I've been absent from this blog and from all family history research for the past few weeks because my husband had a heart attack three weeks ago followed by open heart surgery for a triple bypass.  No death date is a very good thing this time.

I think it's a good idea to hug your living relatives and tell them you love them because you never know when the last time you'll see them will be.

--Nancy.
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