Wednesday, November 27, 2013

A Grateful Heart and To Wish You a Happy Thanksgiving

At this Thanksgiving season and always, I am richly blessed.  Some blessings are obvious -- easy to see and easy to be grateful for.  Some blessings have come in disguise as challenges to be overcome, wrestled through, and learned from.  It's not always easy to be grateful for the challenges, especially in the midst of them, but I'm grateful for both kinds of blessings.  My hope is that I will never take any of them for granted.  I echo E. P. Powell's sentiment, "Thanksgiving Day is a jewel, to set in the hearts of honest men; but be careful that you do not take the day, and leave out the gratitude."  I hope for a grateful heart every day, not just in November, not just on Thanksgiving Day.   As Anne Frank said, "I do not think of all the misery, but of the glory that remains. Go outside into the fields, nature and the sun, go out and seek happiness in yourself and in God. Think of the beauty that again and again discharges itself within and without you and be happy."

I wish rich blessings to you and yours at this Thanksgiving season and always. 

I know most of us won't have time to sit and listen to music just now but at some time over this weekend, maybe you will enjoy this program from the Mormon Tabernacle Choir's Music and the Spoken Word celebrating this holiday. 

The songs include "Come, Ye Thankful People, Come"; "Now Thank We All Our God"; "All Things Bright and Beautiful"; "Simple Gifts" (organ); "Bless This House"; "Prayer of Thanksgiving"; and "Come, Ye Fount of Every Blessing."

Happy Thanksgiving!


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

When My Mind Can Wander

Sometimes I must do activities that require my physical presence and involvement.  They usually take me away from family history research but sometimes they don't require my complete mental attention.  For example, while I'm dusting furniture, scrubbing a floor, sewing a hem my mind is able to go where it wants, wonder what it wants, and think and ponder about other things.  It has been so for the past week and will probably be that way for the next few weeks.  When my mind is able to wander it nearly always turns to living family and/or to my ancestors and the activities of their lives. 

Yesterday and today I have been thinking about coming-of-age events and activities in the lives of my grandparents.  At what ages did a baby boy transition from a dress to pants, and the boy from short pants to long pants?  At what age did a girl begin to wear corsets?  Did she also begin wearing her hair up at the same time? 

What kind of soap did my great-great-great-grandmothers use to scrub their floors?  And what did they do for chapped hands?  Did they mix lotions or creams and were they the same lotions and creams that their mothers and grandmothers had used?

What were the first chores given to little children in the family and how old were they at the time?   Did their parents make it a fun experience?  What if a child was strong-willed and resistant?   

Was there humor in the homes of my ancestors?  Did mothers and fathers purposefully use humor?  Who were the story-tellers, the entertainers, the musicians? 

Were any of my fore-mothers spinners or weavers?  Did they spin wool or cotton or linen?  Was it from their own sheep or plants?  Did they dye the yarn?  Did they weave their own cloth and sew their own clothes?  How far back would I need to go for a yes to all of these questions? 

Some of these questions will go unanswered, I know, but perhaps some of these thoughts will become future posts after research into the topics.  I hope so!

Does your unoccupied mind turn to your ancestors, too?


Sunday, November 17, 2013

Like a Collection of Photographs

"Nothing will sharpen the memory, evoke the past, raise the dead, rejuvenate the ageing, and cause both sighs and smiles, like a collection of photographs gathered together during long years of life.”             Arnold Bennett in The Old Wives' Tale


Monday, November 11, 2013

Veterans Day 2013

Honoring and remembering the brave veterans
who fought to give us a safe and peaceful place to live.
Thank you.


Thursday, November 7, 2013

The Book of Me - Dream or Memory?

For many years a recurring dream frequented my sleep.  I haven't had the dream lately but I remember that it was always the same without variation and without much detail.  That I remember it at all is itself amazing because generally when I awake in the morning it's as if I slept a dreamless sleep.

In the dream I am little, maybe 3 or 4 years old.  I am sitting on the side of a bridge facing the road with my back to a large body of water.  Suddenly I fall backwards toward the water, completely losing contact with the bridge.  My breath goes out of me.  I am surprised at the sensation of falling, of being in midair, but I am not fearful.  At the moment when I'm almost out of arm's reach of others on the bridge, strong hands suddenly snatch me back to safety. 

Was it just a dream or was I dreaming a memory?  I don't know.  The only memory I can possibly attach to it is going with my family to Meander Reservoir just west of Mineral Ridge.  For many years during my childhood on an occasional summer evening we took dried bread and fed the fish from the bridge.  I think my father usually took my brother, sister, and me; I can't remember my mom going on these outings.  I don't remember sitting on the bridge overlooking the water nor falling off the bridge.  The thing I take from the dream is that I was saved, that someone loved me enough to grasp me back to family. 

A definite childhood memory is of my father was driving the car and parking in front of a house with an alarmingly steep hill going down from the back of the house.  We visited some very old people, then left.  When I asked my parents about this when I was an adult they couldn't think of a house with a very steep back yard.  They wanted to know where it was but I couldn't tell them because I didn't know the people we visited.  Years later I asked my father's half-sister is she knew of a house like this but she didn't recognize it by my description either.  Then we visited her and she took us on a tour of Stoneboro to show us the places where family had lived.  And there was the house -- with a gentle hill in the back yard!  Size is all about perspective.

This is another post in The Book of Me series, created by Julie Goucher of Anglers Rest.  This week's topic was "unexplained memories."


Copyright © 2013, NDM & My Ancestors and Me

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

William Meinzen - Wednesday's Child

I found William, age 8, in the 1880 U. S. census living with his parents, Henry and Elizabeth Minzen, a spelling variation of Meinzen.  After that he disappeared.  I thought perhaps he would be lost forever. 
And then this brief sentence came to light in the Friday, November 30, 1888, issue of The Steubenville Weekly Gazette.  "William, son of Henry Minser, died at his home on North Eighth Street Saturday evening, of typhoid fever, aged sixteen years."

Could this be Henry and Elizabeth's son, William?  The spelling of the surname for this William is wrong, but then I've found so many spelling variations, misspellings, and typographical errors in the newspapers that I'm ready to claim him.  Other indications that this is my William:
  • On the 1880 U.S. Census, William was recorded as age 8, therefore born in 1872.  The ages coordinate.
  • The location aligns with where Henry and his family lived at the time of William's death.  Henry bought property on North Eighth Street, Steubenville, in April, 1873, which he later sold in February, 1892.  Additionally, the 1880 U.S. Census records Henry and Elizabeth living on North 8th Street.
  • Union Cemetery records indicate that William Meinzen, 1872-1888, is buried with other family members in Section Q, Lot 203.

Not long ago my cousin, Joyce Humprey, took photographs of Meinzen grave markers at Union Cemetery and gave me permission to post them.  (Thank you, Joyce.)  At left is young William's marker.

Based on all this information, I would say that the William in the news article above is my William Meinzen and that he died of typhoid fever on November 24, 1888.

Typhoid fever is caused by a salmonella bacteria and is spread through contaminated food or water or contact with people who have the fever.  Symptoms include high fever, headache, abdominal pain, and constipation or diarrhea.  Did William's mother realize that he had typhoid fever?  What would have been the method of dealing with a fever in those days?  Wrap the sufferer in blankets?  I'm sure she cared for him based on the knowledge she had and with a mother's love.  There were no antibiotics in those days and probably little recourse other than to pray and hope that he would recover.

This William Meinzen is not to be confused with my grandfather, William Carl Robert Meinzen.  My grandfather, born in 1892, was one of those people who was named after a deceased sibling, a tradition common in the past in some cultures.  Grampa was usually called Bob or Robert so there would have been no confusion.  I remember Grampa saying that he had a brother named William.  The adults around him couldn't understand why his parents would give two children the same name.  I can't remember Grampa's response.

This post is in memory of William Meinzen, my great-uncle.


Copyright © 2013, NDM & My Ancestors and Me

Monday, November 4, 2013

Statistics of Life, 1871 - Amenuensis Monday

     STATISTICS OF LIFE.---The yearly mortality of the globe is 33,333,333 persons.  This is at the rate of 91,554 per day, 3,730 per hour, 62 per minute.  Each pulsation of the heart marks the decease of some human creature.
     The average of human life is 33 years.
     One-fourth of the population die at or before the age of seven years.
     One-half at or before 17 years.
     Among 10,000 persons, one arrives at the age of 100 years, one in 500 attains the age of 90, and one in 100 lives to the age of 60.
     Married men live longer than single men.
     In 1,000 persons, 95 marry, and more marriages occur in June and December than any other months in the year.
     One eighth of the whole population is military.
     Professions exercise a great influence on longevity.

When I search a city directory I enjoy looking at some of the general information printed on the first few pages.  I thought this was interesting enough to save and share.  I have many ancestors who were alive and older than 33, sometimes by decades, in 1871.  I wonder if they were aware that they had out-lived their expected lifespan.  

I try to imagine being a mother living in a world in which one of four children was likely to die before the age of 7 and half of all children before the age of 17.  We live in such a different world these days.  I'm grateful for the miracles of modern medicine.

From Palmer's Steubenville Directory, for 1871.  Compiled and Published by J. Palmer, Steubenville, Ohio, p. 11.


Copyright © 2013, NDM & My Ancestors and Me

Friday, November 1, 2013

Houses / Home / Heartstrings

In the early morning hours when sleep wants to flee and I refuse to let it go; or sometimes while falling into sleep at night; or even occasionally when I'm in the car when my husband is driving and I drift into a nap -- sometimes an almost-dream will take me home.

In muddled half-sleep my mind confuses me and I go back to the home I knew as a child, the home where I grew up and lived my entire life until I moved away from home.  I may find Mom in the kitchen fixing dinner, or in the basement doing the laundry, or possibly sitting at her desk writing a letter.  Dad might be repairing a watch, napping in the recliner, or standing near his desk.  Or he may be in the garage working on some project.

I go up to my bedroom and find it exactly as it was when I was a child:  a narrow room, bed on one wall, chest of drawers on the other, window opposite the door.  Our home never changed.  Oh, yes, there were new curtains or carpet, the walls were painted, new pieces of furniture added or the furniture rearranged.  But our home never really changed.  The windows, the polished wooden bannister to the second floor, the swinging door between the kitchen and the room where Dad's desk was -- it was always the same.   Always neat, tidy, and perfectly clean.

They never see me:  I come and go quickly because, with a start, I realize I've returned to a home where I no longer live and where no one in my family lives. The call to come home seemed so strong, home so real, the homesickness so heart-breaking, that I had to return.   My wakeful mind is not aware of what my sleepy mind knows.

Other times my half-asleep-not-awake mind takes me home to our little story-and-a-half house where my own little family lived for a decade and a half, the home where my husband and I raised our daughters.  It sits at the top of a hill on a street with houses so close to each other that if two people with arms outstretched stand between them, each can touch a house.

An original farmhouse, it was shaped like an L with a porch that wrapped around the front and side.  There were two doors at right angles to each other in the L on the porch.  One led into the living room, the other into the kitchen.  We had a swing on the front porch and used to sit and watch the thunderstorms.

The house was cobbled together in the late 1800s by people we assume weren't carpenters.  As the house needed repairs we learned that no studs were at the standard 18" on-center anywhere in the house:  12", 15", 18", and any increment between, and sometimes different at the top of the wall than at the bottom.  The house had a full basement except for a small section under what was probably originally a porch but which had been converted to a bathroom by the time we lived there.  We found treasures in that crawlspace:   lovely old bottles, some hand-blown.

I open our red front door and walk in, put my things on the counter, and suddenly realize I'm home in the wrong house.  It is not my home but memory and dream make it feel like home.  Everything is just as it was when we lived there:  the baskets on open shelves above cherry cupboards in the kitchen.  The hard-as-nails yellow pine floors, the creaky steps at the top of which was a wall:  turn left into the big bedroom or right into the smaller back bedroom with low and angled ceilings.   It was a small, cozy home, really more a cottage than a house.   A place of comfort and joy, a place of challenges and hardship, a place of love.  Home.

Sometimes, when I'm half-awake and dream of home, it's to the house where we live now.  It's larger and sturdier than any other house I've lived in.  It too was an original farmhouse but built in the mid-1900s.  I walk into the breezeway, open the door, and walk into the kitchen.   I'm coming home to the rest of my family gathered there.  My Airedale Hannah comes around the corner to greet me, overjoyed to have me home again.  Then I waken enough to remember that there's only Hannah to greet me.  My husband and I have just left our daughters in their new homes and we're coming home without them.

The houses that I've called home, the buildings that were really homes and not just places I lived for a time, have strings tied to my heart that pull me back every so often, even if only in my memory and dreams.   Thank goodness for memory -- and a few photographs.

And my ancestors?  What of their memories of home?  Many moved from one place to another, some from one country to another.  Did they sometimes imagine or dream of going home to a home they could no longer return to?  Did a particular home tug at their heartstrings?

What about you?  Does your half-awake-half-asleep mind take you home to a home where you no longer live?

This post is a contribution to Sepia Saturday.  Click through to find other posts about home.

(This post was originally published in August, 2012, as a Sentimental Sunday post.)


Copyright © 2013, NDM & My Ancestors and Me .

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