Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Eyes that Looked into the Lens

I recently finished reading Jacqueline Winspear's Maisie Dobbs mystery, Among the Mad. I appreciated the image she created for me in the following paragraph.

"She spread out the photographs and began picking up each one in turn.... As she studied each successive image again, she smiled, and though the flat was chilly, she felt the residue of the evening’s warmth rekindled. Unwilling to wait until she could buy more frames, she brought a small box of drawing pins from the kitchen and began to pin photographs to the wall, and soon they flanked the painting of a woman alone on a windswept beach. Then she looked at each photograph once more. There were the Partridge boys sitting on the MG’s bonnet, and Priscilla and Maisie bearing the brunt of a snowball fight.... There were photographs taken during walks, photographs taken of the boys in the garden. And as she looked at the prints, she felt as if the eyes that had looked into the lens were looking straight at her, and she knew she belonged.”

Perhaps it's just the romantic in me, but I sense a connection, a belonging, when I see my ancestors looking at me from those old photographs, almost as though we are making eye contact. Is it the bond of family that I feel? I know the photographs are just images on paper, or on a monitor, and yet it is as though their souls somehow connect with my soul.

Do you feel a connection when you see photographs of your ancestors looking at you? Do you sense a bond and a belonging?

Monday, April 26, 2010

E. J., the Coffee, and His Moustache

This is my great-grandfather, Edward Jesse Bickerstaff. He was born in Jefferson County, Ohio, on April 27, 1871. He and his twin sister, Alice, were the 3rd and 4th children of Ellis and Emma (Nelson) Bickerstaff. Alice died three weeks after she was born, and E. J.'s mother died in May, 1878, when he was but 7 years old.

I haven't learned yet whether he and his family moved to Mineral Ridge first and their daughter Emma's husband-to-be, William Carl Robert Meinzen, followed; or whether Emma and her husband moved to the Ridge, and E. J. and the rest of his family followed. Either way, they all ended up living in small village of Mineral Ridge.

I love it when someone I know remembers something specific about an ancestor I've never met. My brother, Bob, has a great memory, back to when he was 5 or 6 years old. He remembers being at Gramma Meinzen's house when her father, E. J., was there for lunch. He sat rocking in the oak rocker that was next to Gramma Meinzen's dining table, and then,
Grandma Meinzen fixed lunch for Great Grandpa Bickerstaff. I've no idea what she served him. I do know that she made coffee and set a cup of coffee before him on a saucer. I remember that he took the cup of coffee and poured part of it into the saucer and then blew on it to cool it without spilling a drop. He then drank the coffee from the saucer and not the cup. After doing so he put his index finger (I don't recall whether left or right) and sucked the coffee off his moustache, first on one side then the other. I found that rather strange but was probably too afraid to say anything at the time.
I think it's interesting what things we remember. Out of all the many interactions we have with others, sometimes it's the little, odd moments that stay with us. And in this story, I don't know which seems odder: drinking coffee from the saucer or sucking the coffee off his moustache. Either one would be considered very bad manners today, but in those days.... I don't know....

Great-Grampa E. J., I wish you a wonderfully happy birthday today. I'm looking forward to meeting you.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

A Marriage Made in Heaven?

In 1870, April 24 was a Sunday. That was the day that Elizabeth Armitage and Henry Meinzen were married. I wonder if they attended church services and were married afterward. Or perhaps it was an evening wedding. No newspaper records the details of their wedding; no journal survives, if there ever was one; no family stories recount the occasion.

Elizabeth would not turn 18 for another 4 months. Henry was 32. When I first learned this information I was appalled. How could he?!!! Cradle robber!!! Perhaps I should still be appalled, but I'm not. I can't be as I learn bits and pieces of the life they lived together.

Was it a marriage made in heaven? I don't know. But I do know that the marriage survived the births of 15 children (and the deaths of 9); a number of Henry's career changes; at least 4 moves; Elizabeth's face cancer; and who knows what else.

In one of their children's birth records Henry used the endearment "Lizzie" when he gave the child's mother's name. Perhaps she had a pet name for him, too.

The marriage ended 50 years and 2 months after it began when Elizabeth died of cancer. A photo taken of Henry and the 6 surviving children after her passing seems evidence of the awful loss he felt.

Whether the marriage was made in heaven or not, I like to envision them together now, reminiscing and celebrating 140 years.

Happy Anniversary, Gramma Elizabeth and Grampa Henry.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

My Crewson/Cruzen/Crusin Bell

Of course, he's not just mine, but whenever I find a family member, I just consider him or her "mine."

I've been searching for the family of birth of Lydia (Bell) Thompson, my great-great-grandmother. I've found some of her siblings, but not all. This post explains part of my search for one of her brothers.

In February I explained my search for Cruzin Bell and how I found Robison Cruzen Beall in a book of death records transcriptions. Since Cruzen - or Crewson, Cruzin, Cruson, or any other number of variations - is such an uncommon name I wondered if that was my man. I asked readers if Bell might sound like Beall when pronounced with a Southern accent and if, sometimes, the spelling might change. Several readers responded, and I was encouraged to search further.

The transcription in the book stated that Robison Cruzen Beall died in November, 1900. State death records for Ohio begin in 1908. Prior to that, records were kept at the county level. It's harder to obtain a photocopy of a county death record than a state death record, though I have in the past purchased them.

In this case I decided to look through the local newspapers for an obituary for Robison Cruzen Beall or Crusin Bell, and then decide whether to request a county death record (if I found Beall) or see what family information the obituary contributed to my search (if I found Bell).

With film numbers in hand, I headed to the Ohio Historical Society files of microfilm, pulled the ones I wanted to view (so I could search all three newspapers if I needed to), and rolled the first one to November 20, 1900. And then I began my search, column by column, page by page.

And there he was: Cruzen Bell! And Crewson Bell! I found no one by the name of Robison Cruzen Beall. I continued by search through the other two newspapers, just to be sure, and found two more obituaries, one for Crewson Bell and another for Cruzen Bell. Nary a Beall in sight.

I was hoping that knowing that Bell and Beall might sometimes sound alike and be transposed would help me find his parents in the 1860 and 1900 census records and death information for other members of his family. It hasn’t so far but as I continue to search I’ll be aware of the possibility that I should be searching for both names.

Thanks to Herstoryan who told me that in her Texas accent Bell and Beall are pronounced the same and to the others who responded about name variations. I appreciate your comments and help.

The first obituary is from The Steubenville Weekly Herald-Star, Friday, November 23, 1900, p. 4, column 7.
The second obituary is from The Steubenville Daily Gazette, Tuesday, November 20, 1900, p. 5, column 3.

Copyright © 2010 by Nancy Messier.

Monday, April 19, 2010

The Children of John and Lydia (Bell) Thompson

John Thompson and Lydia Bell were married on September 23, 1872, in Jefferson County, Ohio. John died on March 4, 1923. Lydia died on February 21, 1930.

John and Lydia are my great-great-grandparents. This is my line to them: me -> Audrey Meinzen Doyle -> Emma Bickerstaff Meinzen -> Mary Thompson Bickerstaff -> John and Lydia (Bell) Thompson

These are their children who are known to me.

Mary Thompson
born 26 Oct 1873 in New Alexandria, Jefferson, Ohio
died 6 Sep 1940 in Mineral Ridge, Trumbull, Ohio
married Edward Jesse Bickerstaff on 15 Mar 1891
They had 9 children; 8 survived to adulthood

Laura V. Thompson
born 15 Dec 1875 in Cross Creek Township, Jefferson, Ohio
died after 21 Feb 1930
Laura is named as Mrs. Laura Shorts in her father’s obituary (1923); and as Mrs. Laura Short of Wellsburg, WV, in her mother’s obituary (1930).

Anna Thompson
born abt. 1877 in Jefferson County, Ohio
died after 6 Sep 1940
Annie is named in her father’s obituary (1923); as Mrs. Levi Allen of McKeesport, PA in her mother’s (1930) and her sister Mary’s obituaries (1940).

Rachel Ann Thompson
born 23 Feb 1878 in Jefferson County, Ohio
died unknown date
It is possible that Anna and Rachel Ann are the same person

Ida Thompson
born ~1879 (8/12 year, b. April of census year: 1 Jun 1879-31 May 1880) in Jefferson County (probably), Ohio
died after 6 Sep 1940
Mrs. Ida Hall is named in her father’s obituary (1923); Mrs. Ida Deal of Cleveland in her mother’s obituary (1930); and Mrs. Ida Diehl of Parkersburg, WV in her sister Mary’s obituary (1940)

James R. Thompson
born 17 Aug 1882 in Jefferson County, Ohio
died after 4 Mar 1923
James R. is named in his father’s obituary (1923)

Elizabeth May Thompson
born 28 Jan 1885 in Cross Creek Township, Jefferson, Ohio
died 8 Mar 1920 in Alikanna, Jefferson, Ohio
Elizabeth May Gather died of septicemia at her parents’ home.

Jessie Thompson
born 27 Aug 1888 in Cross Creek Township, Jefferson County, Ohio
died after 6 Sep 1940
Jessie is named in her father’s obituary (1923); as Mrs. Jessie Mendenhall of Wheeling, WV in her mother’s obituary (1930); and as Mrs. Jessie Mandenhall of Athens in her sister Mary’s obituary (1940)

Male Infant
born 1 Jan 1891, Cross Creek Township, Jefferson, Ohio
died unknown

I believe there are several more children to be found, based on the 1900 census which indicates that Lydia had 7 living children out of 11 born to her.

If/when I discover/uncover more information I will update this page.

Friday, April 16, 2010

What Will You Do?

Family history is one of those activites which brings an abundance of accumulations. At least that's how it is for me. The growth comes primarily in the form of papers -- documents; photocopies of documents; photographs -- and sometimes heirlooms that have been carefully passed from one pair of hands to the next through the years.

Family history is also one of those activities in which one is acutely aware of the cycle of life and death. Afterall, we search for death records, then marriage, then birth records for our direct ancestors and sometimes for their children. Life is relatively short and always comes to an end.

Not to be morbid, but one of these days -- hopefully one of these years or decades -- I'll be on the same side of life as my ancestors. When I'm there what will happen to the family history materials I've left here? What I have now would not fill a 4-drawer file unless I include my mom's little rocker, my dad's desk, my great-grandmother's quilt, and some of the other objects entrusted to my care. Still, they take up space and require care.

I'd like to hope that my daughters would want them and take care of them. But maybe they won't.... If they don't, who will want them? What will I do with them? Or, more to the point, what will someone who lives after me do with them? Will they stay in the hands of family? Or will they go to others who don't know or care about their history?

Have you given this any thought? If so, have you made plans or provisions for your family history papers? What do you hope will happen to the materials (both paper and objects) you've collected as you've worked on your family history?

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


... the birth of the newest member of our family and my 6th grand-nephew!

Noah Alexander
son of Hester and Tim
born Thursday, April 8, 2010

Welcome, Welcome, Welcome!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Andrew Doyle, Born April 13, 1836

My great-great grandfather, Andrew Doyle, was born in northern England. He was a coal-miner before he came to America in 1869. He came alone a year before his 2nd wife, Elizabeth Jane (Laws) Doyle, came with their 4 children.

I have to admit that when I received and read his death certificate, I was surprised to find that his occupation was listed as "grocerman." I'd heard very little about my dad's side of the family while growing up and I think everything was a surprise to me.

I asked one of his great-granddaughters about the grocery store. She wrote that the store was "up across from Wesleyan Camp Meeting Ground, Fredonia Road, in Stoneboro -- it was Grandpap Andrew Doyle, who had the 'store.' It did not look like the stores of today -- merely a building with 2 or 3 men outside.... I'm quite sure it was mining supplies, tobacco, and possibly potatoes, and other garden produce. They were all coal miners, had gardens, & the things in the 'store' were available when they got home from the mines. I'm sure the building has been gone for years."

The informant on his death certificate, Mrs. H. H. Campbell, is his daughter, Mary Ann, who married Hurd Hendrickson Campbell.

I look forward to talking to Grampa Andrew. I want to learn what coal-mining in northern England was like in the middle of the 19th century. Horrid, for sure, but I want to learn details.

Happy Birthday, Grandpap. I'm looking forward to meeting you.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Genealogical Concept Map

Here's one more form I use: a Genealogical Concept Map. It is one of my favorites.

At a glance I have quite a lot of helpful information. I put the ancestor's name in pen and add other information in pencil so it can be corrected or added to as I find more definitive sources. This form, combined with the
Checklist for Completed Searches that I posted a few days ago or an updated one at Me and My Ancestors, gives a concise overview of what I need to know when I'm researching -- and space to add more information I have or might need for a research trip.

It doesn't have sources on it because I use this in conjunction with my research log where I keep a detailed record of where I've searched and what I've found (or, in so many cases, haven't found).

I found this years ago when I was thinking about doing my family history and I thought it might be helpful and copied it. Unfortunately I didn't note where I found it. If any readers know its source, please let me know and I'll remove it if it violates copyright or give credit if permission is given by the creator to leave it here.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

45th Anniversary

My sister and her husband are celebrating 45 years of marriage today! The photos above were taken about 6 months after they were married (and developed several months after that!).

Their wedding photo is to the right.

Happy Anniversary, Marsha and Chuck! I hope you celebrate big!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Hoping My Ancestors Approve

Dorene from The Graveyard Rabbit of Sandusky Bay and Terri from The Ties That Bind honored me with the Ancestors Approved Award. Thank you both. I'm grateful that you like my efforts to share my family history and also I hope that my ancestors approve.

This award comes with two assignments:

#1 List 10 things I have learned about my ancestors that have surprised, humbled, or enlightened me
#2 Pass the award to 10 other genealogy bloggers who I think are doing their ancestors proud

I'd like to pass the award to the following bloggers:

Olive's Granddaughter at
Grandma's Stitches
Leah at Random Notes
Aunt Annie's Grand-neice at
Dear Annie...
John Newmark at Transylvania Dutch
Mindy at
Roots and Branches
Stephanie at
The Ancestor Blog
Kerry Scott at
Clue Wagon
Mavis Jones at
Conversations with My Ancestors
Chery Kinnick at
Nordic Blue
Rachel at
Folk are the Thing

I am surprised, humbled, or enlightened... learn that I have a paternal and a maternal great-grandmother who both had 15 or more children. know that one of my great-grandmothers lost all but 6 of her 15 children (ages newborn to adult) before she died. realize that many of my male ancestors on both sides of my family were very short. the hard work that families did on farms in previous generations. learn that I have coalminers on both sides of my family. see family resemblances across 3 generations. learn that one of my great-great-grandfathers was a junk collector. see that within 3 generations one line of a family name can completely end. the generosity of family members in sharing their knowledge about those who have already passed on. learn that some of my ancestors was literate and some were not.

Thanks again, Dorene and Terri, for this award. I appreciate it.

She Would Have Been 61 Today

These are 10th birthday photographs of my cousin, Belinda. She would have been 61 today, April 9th.

I hope you're having a grand birthday celebration, Belinda! We miss you.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

What Happened in this Family?

I want to know what happened in the family of John and Lydia (Bell) Thompson....

From my mother’s records I knew that one of her family lines went like this:
Audrey Meinzen -> Emma Bickerstaff Meinzen -> Mary Thompson Bickerstaff -> John Thompson & Lydia Bell.

I already knew that Mary was born in October 1873, married in March 1891, and died in September 1940. But I knew nothing about her parents other than their names and a general location: Jefferson County, Ohio. That, in combination with Mary’s birth year, was a start.

I began my search with census records and found them in the 1880 census. John T. and Lyddia B. Thompson were living on Main Street in New Alexandria, Jefferson County, Ohio, on June 11, 1880, when the census taker came. John T. was 29, an illiterate laborer. Lyddia B., 26, his wife, was keeping house, and could read and write. Their children were Mary B., 6; Laura, 5; Annie R., 3; and Ida, 8/12 years. Ohio was the place of birth for all of them.

The 1880 census record also helped anticipate a possible year of marriage for John and Lydia. Their date of marriage in Jefferson County, Ohio, was recorded as September 23, 1872. Their names on the county marriage record were recorded as John Thos. Thompson and Lydia N. (or M.) Bell. (No parents’ names were recorded.)

The 1880 census also helped identify the names of children already born and still living. I searched birth record transcripts and requested records for Mary, Laura V., and Rachel Ann (who may also be Annie R.). I found nothing for Ida.

The 1900 census was a different matter. Instead of John Thomas Thompson, I found Thomas Thompson, 52 years, a junk dealer, with wife, Lydia, 4? years. The census indicated that Lydia was the mother of 11 children with 7 still living; and that Thomas and Lydia had been married 11 years.

Except for their ages, the 1900 census information didn’t add up unless this was a second marriage for Lydia. Did she marry her deceased husband’s brother (Thomas) who happened to have as his first name his brother’s middle name (John Thomas)? Or did John Thomas choose to be called Thomas sometime between 1880 and 1900? Or did the census taker make a mistake? And what about the children who were listed in the 1880 census? Mary was married in 1891 when she was 17. By 1900, Laura would have been about 25; Annie, about 23; and Ida, about 20 years - all old enough to have been married, so it wasn’t unusual not to find them living with their parents.

Lydia as the mother of 11 children with 7 living adds up, too, if we consider the children in both census records together and assume that 4 had died. Together the living children were: Mary (b. Oct 1874); Laura (b. Dec 1875); Annie R. (or Rachel Ann) (b. Feb 1878); Ida (b. 1879-1880); James (b. Aug 1881); Elizabeth (b. Jan 1883); and Jessie (b. Aug 1887). Birth transcripts all give the parents’ names as John Thompson and Lydia Bell.

In the 1910 census, I found a John and Lydia Thompson living in Follansbee, Brooke County, WV. The ages seem to fit but John was a shoemaker, and somehow, considering other information from Steubenville city directories, I doubt these are “my” John and Lydia.

Searches of Steubenville city directories were helpful.
1899-1900: John T. (wife Lydia) junk dealer, residing at 615 South
1904-1905: John T. (wife Lydia) junk dealer, residing at the Seminary Building
1913: John T. (wife Lydia) laborer, residing at 238 N. Lake Erie Avenue
1915-1916: John T. (wife Lydia) laborer, residing at 258 N. Lake Erie Ave.

The 1920 census, taken in January 1920, recorded John Thompson, widow, as an inmate at the Jefferson County Infirmary.

I went on a hunt for Lydia Bell Thompson’s death date, sometime between 1915 and 1920 - and came up empty-handed. I searched the Ohio Historical Society Archives, where death certificates from 1908 to 1952 are indexed by name and are available on microfilm. In fact, I searched for both John and Lydia. There were several people with those names, but I decided none of them were mine either because of location or after searching out obituaries for them.

And then! And then suddenly, had the Ohio Death Certificate Index online and it had more search options than just a name. In fact, they also had death certificates from other states. (Note: you can still find Ohio death certificates at familysearch but they are no longer searchable separately.)

I found Lydia first. She died in the Cross Creek District of Brooke County, West Virginia, on February 21, 1930. Could this be “my” Lydia? Probably not, since John was already a widow in 1920, but it was worth a look. FamilySearch linked to West Virginia Vital Records where I was able to find, print, and save her death certificate. It certainly looked like my Lydia: born May 8, 1851 in Ohio; husband: John Thompson. The informant was Laura Shorts. Could that be Laura of the census records?

I decided that one of the Steubenville newspapers might have an obituary, since Lydia had lived most of her life in Jefferson County. Yes, there was one. But one piece of the information was odd: “Her husband preceded her in death several years ago.” How could that be? I was certain this was the right Lydia Thompson because the children were listed, including Mrs. Ida Deal of Cleveland; Mrs. C. J. Bickerstaff of Mineral Ridge, Ohio [my great-grandmother]; Mrs. Jessie Mendenhall, Wheeling; and Mrs. [Laura] Shorts, at home. And, Lydia was being buried in New Alexandria, Ohio, where she and John had lived.

How could both John and Lydia be widowers at the same time?

Then another John Thompson - different from the ones I’d search at OHS - turned up in the FamilySearch Ohio Death Certificate search. His death date was listed as March 4, 1923, in Cross Creek Township at the Jefferson County Infirmary. Again I decided that an obituary might have helpful information. There are lots of John Thompsons and maybe this wasn’t mine.

My search for an obituary revealed two. One indicates that he was survived by his widow and James R. Thompson, Mrs. Mary Bickerstaff, Mrs. Laura Shorts, and Mrs. Ida Hall. That first obituary didn’t mention his place of death, but listed Union Cemetery as his place of burial. The second obituary said that he passed away at the County Home and was survived by daughters Mary, Annie, Laura, and Jessie; and by two brothers, Wm. H. and James R. Thompson. This was definitely "my" John Thompson.

I contacted Union Cemetery for information about his burial. They returned information from their interment directory with his name, date of death, cause of death, date of interment, and first names of his parents. Someone from the Union Cemetery Association added a note: “This is all the information we have on your Great Great Grandfather. He is Buried in County Ground, and no other Relatives are around him. County Ground is Ground owned by The County and is where they bury those who have no one to bury them.”

I want to know what happened in this family. I probably never will, but I want to know why John and Lydia are buried in two different cemeteries. I want to know why John was at the County Home while Lydia was with a daughter. And why did no family member (or members) come forward to buy a plot of land so my great-great-grandfather didn’t have to buried in a pauper’s grave?

Do you have unanswered questions like these for any of your ancestors?

1880 U. S. Census, Ohio, Jefferson, New Alexandria, Main Street, E. D. 100, written p. 18, Lines 43-48, Family #37, John Thompson and family, 11 June 1880.

1900 U.S. Census, Ohio, Jefferson, Steubenville Township, 3rd Ward, Market Street, E.D. #80, printed p. 92, Lines 92-96, Dwelling #8, Family #9, [John] Thomas Thompson and family, 1 Jun 1900.

1920 U. S. Census, Ohio, Jefferson, Wintersville Precinct, Jefferson County Infirmary, E.D. 182, p. 25, line 23, John Thompson, 21 Jan 1920.

Marriage Records of Jefferson County, Ohio, Book 8, Part 1, 1865-1874. (Image shown above.)

Steubenville City Directory 1899-1900. The Burch Directory Company, Akron, Ohio, p. 205.

Steubenville Official City Directory 1904-1905. The Burch Directory Company, Akron, Ohio, p. 275,

Steubenville Official City Directory 1913. The Burch Directory Company, Akron, Ohio, p. 352.

Steubenville Official City Directory 1915-1916. The Burch Directory Company, Akron, Ohio, p. 376.

Certificate of Death for John Thompson, State of Ohio, Department of Health, Division of Vital Statistics, File No. 19754, (1923), from

Obituary of John Thompson, The Steubenville Herald-Star, Monday, March 5, 1923, p. 10, col. 8, Archives Library of the Ohio Historical Society, Microfilm #13008. (Image shown above.)

Obituary of John Thompson, The Steubenville Daily Gazette, Monday, March 5, 1923, p. 2, col. 6, Archives Library of the Ohio Historical Society, Microfilm #22486.

Union Cemetery Association Interment Directory: John Thompson, and note from Association representative, 4 Aug 2008.

Certificate of Death for Lydia Thompson, West Virginia State Department of Health, Division of Vital Statistics, Certificate #2545 (1930),"> (Image shown above.)

Obituary of Lydia Thompson, The Steubenville Herald-Star, Saturday, February 22, 1930, p. 5, col. 2, Archives Library of the Ohio Historical Society, Microfilm #13041.

Copyright © 2010 by Nancy Messier.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Fact/Opinion/Search Chart

This is another form I use. I print this one and the checklist in the previous post back to back with this one toward the front.

I think this is especially useful to keep track of those little nudges I get to check this place or that for a record -- forgotten if I don't write them down. When I've made good use of this form and for some reason have to stop research for a particular ancestor, I can step right back into work because it helps me remember where I was and what I wanted to do next.

This form, like the previous one, does not take the place of my detailed research log. Also, like the previous form, I don't know if I this form was my idea or if I found one like it somewhere and adapted it.

As Barbara mentioned in a comment on the checklist post, these forms might be most useful for those new to family history.

How do you keep track of what you want to do next, especially if you're working on multiple relatives at the same time?

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Checklist for Completed Searches

I thought I would post a form I use to help me with my searches. This doesn't take the place of a detailed research log or any other form where source documentation would go.

I primarily use it to check off the places I've already searched and to remind myself where else I can look. I generally don't add much information on this form unless there are several places to search for an item, such as in more than one Bible, military service in two wars or two countries, more than one marriage, etc.

If I ever retype this there is one more section I would add, and that is addresses. I think I would leave space to list them, along with dates. For me it would make an easy reference.

To be honest I don't know how I came to have this form. I remember that I typed it in this format, though it was probably a list I found in a book when I very first started thinking about the possibility of working on my family history. If someone out there reading this blog sees this form and can point me to its source, I'd be grateful. I'd like to give credit.

I have another form or two that I like and use, which I'll post in the next few days.

Do you have suggestions for improvement of this one? Do you have forms (other than census transcription forms) that you like and use?

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Having Missed a Birthday....

Bill is my niece's husband. I didn't miss his birthday on purpose. It happened that someone told me his birthday was on April 13, but today I learned that it's really on April 3! So I'm two days late, by the time he or anyone else sees this post.

I'm so sorry. I understand this was one of those "milestone" birthdays -- and I hope it was grand.

Belated Happy Birthday, Bill, and best wishes for success with your new business!

A Joyful Easter-Tide

Happy Easter Blessings to you and yours.

I was thinking this morning about what family history I could share in an Easter post. I don't have any knowledge of how my ancestors celebrated Easter, but a few memories from my own life came to mind.

My grandmother who lived just a few houses away always made Hot Cross Buns on Good Friday. I wish I knew if she started the tradition and if it was one from her own childhood that she carried on.

One Saturday before Easter when I was very young, a family in the Ridge had an Easter egg hunt on their property. I remember carrying my basket and not finding many eggs.

In the weeks leading up to Easter my mother took my sister and me shopping. We both had new dresses, hats, gloves, probably shoes, and maybe a spring coat, too, if Easter was early. On Easter morning my father always gave my mother, my sister, and me corsages to wear. I did not realize how special that was, how debonair. Thinking about it, it was a surprising extravagance for my generally frugal parents.

I don't really remember Easter Day activities other than attending church. Mom probably baked a ham and perhaps we had family to dinner. I know the Easter Bunny hid baskets because I still have mine, but I don't really remember eating candy on Easter. These days my Easter thoughts turn to my Savior, Jesus Christ.

I came from a family of irregular church-goers. We were members of the Methodist Church and lived around the corner from our church in the Ridge. It seems like we went to "Sunday school" and/or "church" but not usually both on the same day. (Of course my memory could be very faulty on this.) Church was the meeting for adults in which the minister spoke a sermon. Sunday school was the time where children, teens, and adults attended classes by age-group. I think I was usually sent to Sunday school, though perhaps my mom and siblings went, too. My whole family occasionally attended church all together; other times one or the other of my parents attended with one or several of us children. Perhaps it was because my father worked turns that he was unable to attend church regularly.

The church building itself was nothing fabulous - red brick with a steeple and a bell. In the photograph of the church you can see the arched windows across the front of the church. The opposite side also had arched windows. Between those windows was the sanctuary which had a very high arched ceiling and felt cool and dark. It was silent in the sanctuary.

While the building was plain, the stained glass windows were fabulous! Each window on either side of the sanctuary showed an image from either the life of Christ or of His apostles. When sitting in a church pew, we had to look up to look at the windows. As a child not completely interested in or able to understand the sermon, the windows captured my attention. They were amazing. There was so much detail - faces with eyes and beards; toes; and fingers holding objects. When inside on a cloudless day, the sun dazzled through the colored glass. The rose window at the end of the sanctuary above the altar was my favorite window. It was striking from the inside, but the best time to see it was from the outside on a dark night. When the sanctuary lights shone through the colored glass, they caused the window to glow. It was breath-taking.

How is it I never took photogaphs of the windows of the church, either inside or out? The rose window has been gone for many years. Recently the building was sold and the steeple is being torn down. It won't be long before the rest of the windows are gone, if they aren't already. So sad.

Do you know if your ancestors celebrated Easter and if they did, how? Do you have special memories of Easter? How do you celebrate Easter now?

I wish you a blessed and joyful Easter-Tide.

Copyright © 2010 by Nancy Messier.

Celebrating David

This is David, my nephew. We visited with him and his family in early March for the first time in too many years. He lives across the continent so we don't get to see him very often. It was fun to visit and meet his girlfriend and their sweet little Lina of the Sweet Cheeks post.

Happy Birthday, David!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

April Fool

If I were asked to list holidays, April Fool's Day would be one of the last to come to mind. So I was surprised when my Aunt Tressa mentioned the holiday when she wrote about her father, Gust Doyle. When I asked about my grandfather's personality, she wrote

Dad wasn't extremely talkative but he was a good conversationalist and had a great knowledge on many subjects. He had a good sense of humor and liked to joke and tease the family. He never failed to catch us in April Fool Jokes.
How many descendants think to include that particular holiday when recounting memories of an ancestor?! Since she did, I wish I'd asked her to share some of the jokes he played, but she's gone and I can't.

My father and Gust's son, Lee, was pretty serious most of the time, but I remember one April Fool joke. When I was 5 or 6 years old it seemed to me that I'd been asking for a horse (or perhaps a pony) for a very long time, what probably seemed like years. The answer was always a firm "no." We didn't live on a farm in the country but to my young mind, that was no obstacle. In fact, nothing was an obstacle except my parents' "no." One morning when I went downstairs at breakfast time, my father told me to look out the window because there was a horse in the back yard. What a short moment of joy followed by a huge feeling of disappointment. Of course I was disappointed that there was no horse but also at being called an April Fool, especially because I had no idea what that was. I can't remember that my father ever played an April Fool joke on me again....

Do you have a story about an ancestor who played an April Fool joke? Do you remember an April Fool joke you played on someone or one that was played on you?

May your April Fool jokes be plenty and painless. Happy April Fool Day.

Copyright © 2010 by Nancy Messier.
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