Thursday, September 29, 2011

Fredrick K. Gerner

This may be one of the poorest photographs I have in my collection. I can't make myself get rid of it because it's one of only two photographs I have with my great-grandfather, Fred Gerner, in them.

I don't know the date this photo was taken, nor the location. My best guess for date is about 1905; my best guess for location is one of Fred's farms, in either Butler or Mercer Counties, Pennsylvania. He and his family moved from one location to the other between 1900 and 1910. As for the children, if they're grandchildren, there are about six different little ones they could possibly be. There are several barely discernible young woman on the right side of the photo who I assume are the mothers of those little ones. I don't think anyone is alive who could positively -- or even guess -- the identify of either the babies or mothers.

Fredrick K. Gerner was born 163 years ago today. Happy Birthday, Grampa Gerner.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Wedding Musings on a Wedding Wednesday

I've had to lay aside genealogy, family history, and most of my blogging (both writing and reading) while preparing for my daughter's wedding in another two weeks.

As I carefully (and oh-so-slowly) hand-stitch lace to the bottom of her wedding gown, I ponder the activities of previous generations of mothers (and daughters) as they planned and prepared for their daughters' weddings. These are a few of the things I wonder:
  • Were any of their wedding dresses white?
  • Were any of the dresses hand-stitched?
  • Did they sent out invitations?
  • Did many people, or few, attend their weddings?
  • Did they have receptions or celebrations of any kind?
  • Did they receive many wedding gifts?
  • Did they go on honeymoons?
  • Did they wear something old, something new, etc.?
  • Were any of them carried over the threshold by their new husbands?
There are so many aspects of wedding preparation. I wish I could time travel back and be an observer for the preparation of and at each of my fore-mothers' weddings.

If I had more time I'd search HEARTH to see what I could find about the activities of brides and their mothers in times past. My research into that topic will have to wait until after October 8!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Letters from Estonia - A FamilySearch Video

There are several aspects of this video that particularly impress me:
  1. I appreciate how the video presents a visual depiction to enhance and more fully tell the story, narrated with so few words. Someone did more research to help us see what the ancestor's life might have actually been like during his early war years. For me, this is part of what family history is about: learning about my ancestors, learning about the historical environment of the times in which they lived, then putting them into that time and place.
  2. The power of writing letters shines brightly in this video. Sometimes it might seem as though there's little likelihood of success when writing letters to a person at an address where he or she lived many years ago, but one can never tell the outcome.
I hope you're having success with your family history research.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Certificate of Marriage & "How to Perpetuate The Honeymoon"

My parents, Audrey Meinzen and Lee Doyle, were married 73 years ago on this date, September 15, 1938. They had three certificates of marriage: one civil and two signed by the minister who performed the marriage.

The certificate at right comes from a beautiful booklet printed in gold, red, green, and black, with the title, "Our Wedding" on the front. It has a 1916 copyright by The Methodist Book Concern. It contains the text for "The Order for the Solemnization of Matrimony" as well as the certificate, at right, several calligraphed poems/quotes, a space to list the bridal party, and five pages for guests to sign their names.

I will scan and post all the pages later this year. I'm especially pleased to see the names of the guests and to have their signatures.

My mother saved another booklet with the title "Wedlock." It contains the second church marriage certificate and the page at left, "How to Perpetuate The Honeymoon." I find the language quaint -- uncommon to my "modern" ear -- yet with sound advice for newlyweds. I've transcribed it below for easier reading.
How to Perpetuate The Honeymoon
From Home and Health, by permission of W. H. DuPuy, A. M., D. D.

Continue your courtship. Like causes produce like effects.

Do not assume a right to neglect your companion more after marriage than you did before.

Have no secrets that you keep from your companion. A third party is always disturbing.

Avoid the appearance of evil. In matrimonial matters it is often that the mere appearance contains all the evil. Love, as soon as it rises above calculation and becomes love is exacting. It gives all, and demands all.

Make the best of the inevitable. Persist in looking at and presenting the best side. Smile and smile. A cheerful disposition can be acquired, and it will carry you thru many a discouraging situation.

Keep a lively interest in the business of the firm. Two that do not pull together, are weaker than either alone.

Start from where your parents started, rather than where they now are. Hollow and showy boarding often furnishes too strong temptation, while the quietness of a humble home would cement the hearts beyond risk.

Avoid debt. Spend your own money, then it will not be necessary to blame anyone for spending other peoples.

Do not both get angry at the same time. It takes two to make a quarrel.

Do not allow yourself ever to come to an open rupture. Things unsaid need less repentance.

Study to understand your companion's disposition, in order to please and avoid friction. Try to conform your tastes and habits to the tastes and habits of your companion. If two walk together, they must agree.

Gauge your expenses by your revenues. Love must eat. The sheriff often levies on Cupid long before he takes away the old furniture.
Happy Anniversary, Mom and Dad. I hope many are celebrating with you.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Her Name Was Beulah

I first became aware of the name "Beulah" when I was 10 or 11. I heard it in school, thought it a very unusual and funny name, and laughed. That evening at dinner as I was telling my parents about it, I laughed again.

My father gave me a warning look and said, "You better watch it."

Puzzled, I asked why. When I received no response from him, I looked to my mother who said, "That's your father's mother's name."

Ohhhh. This was completely new information to me. It was the first time I'd ever heard anything about my father's mother. I grew up unaware that most children have two sets of grandparents.

It was years before I learned more about my grandmother, Beulah Gerner Doyle, who died a few weeks after my father was born. This morning I was imagining how my life might have been different had she lived and had I known her when I was a child. There would have been trips to Stoneboro to visit with her, perhaps for week-long visits in the summer months; letters and cards sent back and forth; and one more person to love and be loved by. My imagination went further when I thought about how much different my father's life would have been. He would have grown up safe and secure, loved by two parents instead of in a home where his loving father had to protect him from an unkind step-mother. Beulah died in 1913; my father in 1987: they've had 24 years to get to know and love each other. I'm sure the reunion was grand!

Today is Beulah Gerner Doyle's 123rd birthday. Happy Birthday, Gramma!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Grandmother's Journal - Strength To Draw From

How I wish I had the journal of one of my ancestors! Even without a journal, though, I find that learning about my ancestors sometimes gives me strength.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Another Year Come and Gone

This is my beautiful older daughter whose birthday we are celebrating today. I'm so grateful that she was born to me and has been a part of my life.

In the photo at right she's auditioning lace for a wedding veil. She will be married in a month. There's lots to do to get ready for a wedding (most of which I wasn't aware of until having to do it).

As I've been planning and preparing for the celebration, a Joni Mitchell song called "The Circle Game" keeps coming to mind. It tells about a young one's transition from childhood to adulthood. For me it's a poignant reminder about how quickly time passes; how toddlers grow into adults almost overnight; and about the relentlessness of time. It doesn't stop for us no matter how much we want a moment to linger so we can savor it. There have been many moments with Natasha that I wish could have lasted longer. I savor them only in my memory.

Happy Birthday, dear Natasha! It hope it's a wonderful one!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Their 97th Wedding Anniversary

As I remember it, their marriage didn't always run smoothly. There was never any yelling but I remember hearing occasional grumbling. Grampa was very strong-willed, perhaps even stubborn. Gramma may have been just as stubborn. But in the days of their marriage the wife generally bent to the wishes of the husband, and I believe that was probably so for them, at least in most cases.

Love doesn't always run smoothly. But smooth isn't one of the bywords of marriage. I'm not even sure love is one of the bywords, though movies would have us believe it is the beginning, middle, and end of marriage. For my grandparents (and my parents, too) commitment, sacrifice, and dedication were some of the bywords (and actions) of marriage. And love was the result of living a life together.

These are my grandparents, William Carl Robert "Bob" and Emma Bickerstaff Meinzen. This photo probably dates to the late 1950s or early 1960s when they would have been in their late 60s or early 70s. They were married 97 years ago on this date.

Happy Anniversary, Gramma and Grampa.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Wonder Cake, Icing - Family Recipe Friday

During those times when I have unthinking kinds of work to do, such as stitching a hem or scrubbing a floor, I spend part of the time wondering about many different things but often especially about the lives of my ancestors (unless I'm otherwise preoccupied with wedding preparations as is the case just now). One thing I have never wondered about is my grandmother's recipe for Wonder Cake. Now, as I sit to transcribe it, I wonder why it is called Wonder Cake. Was it an exception in it's time? Was it unusual in it's lightness or easiness to bake? Did it have fewer ingredients than most cakes? Why Wonder Cake? I doubt I'll ever know.

This recipe comes from my grandmother's, Emma Bickerstaff Meinzen's, Webster's Spelling Recipe book. This recipe is unusual, compared to the other recipes in this booklet, because it tells the length of time to bake the cake. It does not, however, tell the temperature at which to bake it. Probably about 350 degrees, which is the temperature at which most cakes bake.

I still think my grandmother did not use enough chocolate in her recipes! They do seem to call for healthier ingredients, though, including plenty of nuts and fruit.

Wonder Cake
cream 1/2 cup butter
with 1 1/2 cup powdered
sugar 1/2 cup milk
a little at a time
add 2 cups flour
with 2 teaspoon R.
Baking powder
sifted with flour
1 teaspoon vanilla
fold in 6 beaten
egg whites last
Bake 20 min.

Boil 1 1/2 cup sugar
with 1/2 cup water
untill spins a thread
add slowly to 3 egg
whites beaten add
1/3 cup raisins (cut)
1/2 cup nut meats
1/2 " chopped figs
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