Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Surely You Know about Randy Majors and His Search Sites?

By his own admission, Randy Majors is a map and geography geek.  Aren't we lucky that he has the talent to make these useful tools  and is willing to share them with us family historians and genealogists?  Thank you, Randy.

You can visit Randy's blog to read explanatory posts about some of these tools and how they can be useful to you.

Try these to see if you think they may be useful.


Copyright ©2019, Nancy Messier.  All Rights Reserved. 
Do not copy or use any content from this blog without written permission from the owner. 


Thursday, July 4, 2019

Thoughts on The Declaration of Independence

As an image for the Fourth of July, the Declaration of Independence doesn't cry out, "Look at me, look at me!" in the same way images of fireworks or flags do.  In fact, the image is so bland that I almost didn't write a post today.  But I realized that the power and attraction of the Declaration is its words and what those words mean.

I spent some time today listening to the words and thoughts of Thomas Jefferson as presented by Bill Barker, Jefferson scholar and re-enactor at Colonial Williamsburg.  Several things he recounted have stuck with me.
  • When Jefferson picked up a stack of copies of the Declaration from the printer and began handing them to people, they looked at them and dropped them to the ground.  Why?  The document was of little value to them because they couldn't read the words.  Jefferson knew, when writing the Declaration, that he needed to write words that would capture the attention of not only the readers but also the hearers of the words.
  • It was several days before most people living in the Colonies learned about the Declaration of Independence.  Word travelled slowly in 1776.
  • Jefferson does not hesitate to state that the ideas in the Declaration were not new but a compilation taken from several other great thinkers of earlier times.

I love the leaders' reliance on Divine Providence as they make this grand statement of independence.
We, therefore, the Representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do.  And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

If the Colonists had not stood together, if all the people had not unitedly supported this Declaration, the independence they sought could have gone the other way.  I'm grateful for the courage, stamina, and resilience of those early Americans. 

These days we enjoy the fireworks, the picnics, the family time of this holiday and, perhaps, take for granted the freedoms we have as a result -- and the cost of those freedoms.  In the past I haven't always remembered the cost of those blessings.  What followed July 4, 1776, was more than eight long years of war, until September 3, 1783, to fulfill the desired outcome stated in the Declaration.

Hooray for the writers and signers of the Declaration of Independence.  Hooray for all the men and women who fought in the Revolutionary War and who have fought in battles of any kind to help the United States maintain its freedom and freedoms.  It's true that the United States of America is not perfect, but I'd rather be a citizen of this country than any other on earth.

You can enlarge the image above to read the Declaration of Independence or click here to read a transcription.

This is one of the videos I watched today.

These are two other Thomas Jefferson reenactments:
> Interview and Q & A
> Thomas Jefferson on the Declaration of Independence (about 2 minutes)

Happy Independence Day!


Copyright ©2019, Nancy Messier.  All Rights Reserved. 
Do not copy or use any content from this blog without written permission from the owner. 


Saturday, June 29, 2019

Little Miss on a Stone Wall

This little miss, sitting on a stone wall with her dad next to her, is not posing for a photograph.  She couldn't care less about the photograph, the view, the scenery, or the fact that her dad is squatting next to her making sure she doesn't fall.

No, not her.  Her focus is on Teddy as she adjusts his blanket. 

There were no deletes with film photography, only more photos.  These days, we would probably never save digital photos like these.  

It looks like they drove on, arrived at a different stone wall, or the same stone wall further along the road, where little miss sat and, finally, with Teddy's blanket adjusted properly, she posed for the camera with a smile.

These photos are dated 1952 when little miss would have been about two and a half.  The locations were not recorded.

I'm contributing this post to Sepia Saturday 476 : 29th June 2019.  Click through to see more old photographs (with or without stories).


Copyright ©2019, Nancy Messier.  All Rights Reserved. 
Do not copy or use any content from this blog without written permission from the owner. 


Sunday, June 16, 2019

Happy Father's Day, 2019

Wishing a Happy Father's Day to my dad, Lee Doyle, who's been gone for nearly 32 years, to my grandfather, W. C. Robert Meinzen, who's been gone 40 years, and to all my ancestral fathers who I know only through second-hand memories and pieces of paper.  I wouldn't be here without you.  Thank you!


Copyright ©2019, Nancy Messier.  All Rights Reserved. 
Do not copy or use any content from this blog without written permission from the owner. 


Saturday, June 15, 2019

The Lost Journals

My mom moved into a care center in 1995 or 1996.  She had lived in the home she left for 55 years, since a year or two after she and my dad married.  When it became certain that she would never be able to return to live there, my siblings and I got together to decide what to do with what was left in the house. 

Saturday after Saturday I drove the three hours back to my childhood home so we could discuss what to do with everything.  Some things one or the other of us wanted to take home, some things none of us wanted.  It was a sad, stressful, emotional time, made harder by the fact that Mom was still alive but but not there to have a say in what we were doing.  Some Saturdays I had more to take home, others less.  I was always exhausted when I left and had yet three hours' drive home.

One Saturday we loaded part of my father's desk into the back of our little car.  (I say part because it was a roll-top desk and the top and base separated.)  There were some other items and boxes I decided to leave until the next Saturday when I was sure I wouldn't have such a full car.  One of the boxes contained a stack of inexpensive spiral notebooks (very like my mother not to spend too much money on notebooks) which we were surprised to find were diaries or journals my mother had written.  I didn't count them but the stack was probably 8 to 12 inches high.  I didn't look through them so I don't know what she wrote, and I have no idea when she began writing.

When I returned the next Saturday, the box and journals were gone and neither of my siblings seemed to have any idea where the notebooks went.  They may -- or may not -- have been a treasure.  Mom was a very private person and shared few of her thoughts or feelings with us.  Perhaps she was just as frugal with the written word as with the spoken word.  But, on the other hand, she may have written all kinds of interesting stories and memories.  I often wonder what I missed by not taking those spiral notebooks home with me the Saturday we found them.

This post was written for Amy Johnson Crow's 2019 version of 52 Ancestors.  The post topic for the week was "Dear Diary."


Image Credit:  JudyGilmore from Pixabay 

Copyright ©2019, Nancy Messier.  All Rights Reserved. 
Do not copy or use any content from this blog without written permission from the owner.


Friday, June 14, 2019

Flag Etiquette for Flag Day

Happy Flag Day to all of us who live in the United States of America.  This day commemorates the adoption of the flag in 1777 by the Second Continental Congress.  If my math is correct, this is the 242nd anniversary of that date.

"Wonder What the Flag Thinks About (A Lesson)" was published on page 5 of the June 14, 1922, issue of The Youngstown Vindicator.  A little flag etiquette is good anytime, but especially on Flag Day, right?

The flag's words in the boxes from left to right, top row, then bottom row.
Please Mister - Remember to hang me like this with the blue field in the upper right hand corner - the position of honor - also when I am hung horizontally.

In the first place I should never be draped but hung flat.
This picture of me is wrong because my stars and field of blue are in the wrong position.

And when you use my colors on a shield don't have a thing like this because it is wrong!  All wrong!  It should have no stars and there should not be seven red stripes.

Now this is correct.  The field is blue with no stars!!  And just the reverse of the flag it should have seven white and six red stripes.

Please don't drape me.  I am not a decoration.  If you must use my colors as draped decoration use strips of blue, white and red with my blue on top.

Do not use me as a mere background to set off the picture or bust of anybody - not even Washington or Lincoln.  It is an insult to both of us.  Don't let storekeepers use me in a window display.

And don't applaud when the National Anthem is sung.  It would be just as correct to applaud a minister's prayer.  The man who wrote of "the red, white and blue" was merely exercising his license as a poet.  Blue comes first.  There are as many folks ignorant of my proper use as there are folks who don't know the words to the National Anthem.

Happy Flag Day!  May it proudly wave forever.


Copyright ©2019, Nancy Messier.  All Rights Reserved. 
Do not copy or use any content from this blog without written permission from the owner. 


Sunday, June 9, 2019

Namesakes, both Male and Female

Sometimes the namesakes among my ancestors skipped a generation.

William Doyle (~1802-1838)
-- Andrew Doyle (1836-1908)
    -- William Doyle (1863-1941)
        -- Gust Doyle (1888-1933)
            -- William Doyle (1925-2015)
                -- William Doyle (living)

Emma V. (Nelson) Bickerstaff (~1845-1878)
-- Edward Jesse Bickerstaff (1871-1945)
    -- Emma Virginia Bickerstaff (1893-1973)

Tressa (Froman) Doyle (1867-1936)
-- Gust Doyle (1888-19330
    -- Tressa Doyle (1921-2003)

Other times, the naming pattern was only two generations long

Henry Carl Meinzen (1837-1926)
-- Henry Carl Meinzen (1870-19580

Abel Armitage (~1821 - ??)
-- Abel Armitage (1869-1928) (not my ancestor)

Christian Gerner (~1820-1899)
-- Christian Gerner (1854-1935)

Martha (Reay) Doyle (1809-1869) had two daughters with her name.
-- Martha Doyle (1833-1838)
-- Martha Doyle (1839- ??)

Yet other times, there were several in a generation who were namesakes.

My great-grandmother Elizabeth Armitage Meinzen's first name was given to more descendants than any of my other known ancestors.  Two daughters had Elizabeth as either a first or middle name.  Three granddaughters were named Elizabeth. 

Elizabeth (Armitage) Meinzen (1852-1920)
-- Hannah Elizabeth Meinzen (1875-1910)
    --  Elizabeth Zerelda Hendricks (1909-1997)
-- Elizabeth Meinzen, daughter (1885-1986)

Other granddaughters with Elizabeth as first or middle name include
-- Elizabeth (1897-1899), daughter of Henry C. Meinzen
-- Elizabeth (1917-2015), daughter of Jacob Meinzen

There are, no doubt, other ancestors whose children were named after them who I have yet to discover.

This post was written for Amy Johnson Crow's 2019 version of 52 Ancestors.  The post topic for the week was "Namesake."


Copyright ©2019, Nancy Messier.  All Rights Reserved. 
Do not copy or use any content from this blog without written permission from the owner.


Sunday, June 2, 2019

Hannah, the Airedale Who Loved Me

One of the things I love about family history is that its scope is broad enough to include stories and photos about all aspects of a person's life, including their pets.  If I had a photo of an ancestor with a pet, and especially if I had a story to go with the photo, I would consider it part of my family history.  With that in mind, I'm sharing a personal experience.

The two-year-old Airedale who came to our home as a foster girl in spring, 2008, was rough around the edges, to say the least.  She'd been tied to a tree with her brother for the first two years of her life, neglected, and most likely abused.  Thankfully, her rescuer had groomed and clipped her so she was clean and fresh.  But she did not know her name or recognize any words or commands.  She was not housebroken.  And she was afraid of everything -- steps, doors, walls, kitchen utensils, the computer mouse, lights, the TV, a sheet of paper, a change in flooring, men, hands, noises both loud and quiet, anything that moved, and anything new....  And everything was new to her!  We recognized fear when she tried to move away or hide, and worse, we could see the fear in her eyes.  It didn't take two hours for me to begin thinking about how soon we could find her a forever home (that wasn't ours).

I spent her first night sleeping on the floor with her because I wanted her to feel as comfortable and safe as possible in this new situation.  I was surprised that she nestled right next to me.  When the sun rose the next morning Hannah yawned, stretched, stood, almost smiled, and did a little playbow.  Her eyes were alight with joy and, dare I say it, love.  I sensed that she recognized me as pack leader and felt that she belonged to this new place in her world.  That was when I began to fall in love with Hannah.

Airedale Hannah
So Hannah stayed and blossomed.  Her timidness with new people continued but she overcame so many of her other fears.  She gained confidence little by little -- safe throughout the house, safe in her fenced-in yard, safe for a walk, safe with me.  She learned her name and the basic commands:  come, sit, down, wait, and stay.  She also learned to "say please" with a sweet head bob.  (At mealtimes I asked her to sit and wait, say please, then I kissed her on the forehead and gave her the okay to eat.)  She loved squeaky and stretchy toys and often invited us to play.  Sometimes she was just as pleased to play by herself, grabbing a tissue box or one of her stuffed toys and tossing it around.  We used to laugh when she did this, which only encouraged her to continue or repeat the behavior.  Never laugh at an Airedale's antics:  it only encourages them.  Airedales have a great sense of humor and never seem to mind playing the clown if someone's laughing.

I consider it no small compliment that Hannah chose to love me above everyone else in our home.  She liked to be wherever I was, watching or interacting with me, and came to find me if I moved from a room while she was napping.  She gave wonderful hugs.  There's nothing like a hug from an Airedale!

In December, 2018, Hannah was diagnosed with kidney disease, spindle cell cancer, and the dreaded lymphoma.  Dogs with lymphoma usually live only four to six weeks after diagnosis.  We had the blessing of nearly six good months with her.  The past few weeks her health declined until we had to make the sad and difficult choice to let her go.  

I spent most of Hannah's last night on the floor nestled next to her.  I didn't want her to feel alone and I especially wanted her to know that she was--and is--loved.  It seemed like we'd come full circle.

Being Hannah's adoptive mom has been one of the best experiences of my life -- both a blessing and a joy.  How I love and miss her!  I'm beyond grateful for Hannah, the Airedale who loved me.


Copyright ©2019, Nancy Messier.  All Rights Reserved. 
Do not copy or use any content from this blog without written permission from the owner. 


Monday, May 27, 2019

In Grateful Tribute to Those Soldiers Who Gave Their All

Oh, beautiful for heroes proved
In liberating strife,
Who more than self their country loved,
And mercy more than life!

from "America"


Sunday, May 19, 2019

His Natural Abilities

When I think of the word "nature" in relationship to family history and my ancestors, it calls to mind phrases such as "he's a natural at..." and "she has a natural inclination toward...."  We all have individual abilities and natural tendencies that make us who we are and which are integral to our very beings.  Without even one of them, we would be different people (which may be why a person who has had a traumatic brain injury can seem like a different person).

It's hard to know the natural abilities of ancestors I've never met, so for this post I thought about relatives and ancestors I've known in person.  The best example of someone with strong natural abilities I can think of is my father.

Dad grew up on a farm, ended his public education at the 8th grade, and worked at a steel mill most of his adult life.  He had natural abilities in several areas, in ways that amazed me when I was a child and amaze me even more as I think about them now. 

He was a natural at math.  In the days before calculators, adding a column of 10 triple digit figures or a list of money sent most people for pencil and paper.  Not my father.  Within a brief moment he'd mentally added the numbers and told us the answer.  Likewise, with multiplication.  He could multiply four digits by three digits faster than I can put the numbers into a calculator.  I wish I could do the same. 

Dad's fine motor skills were phenomenal and, from what I can tell, innate.  He learned the watch repair trade by mail and opened a repair shop in our home.  At that time wristwatches had tiny gears and springs and minuscule hands, all so small one needed tweezers to pick them up.  Taking apart a watch that didn't work, determining the problem, and putting all the tiny parts back together to restore a working timepiece seemed an easy task for him.  

His abilities to determine why a piece of equipment didn't work -- a car, an electric motor, a water pump, an engine -- and repair it were a part of who he was.  I don't know that he loved to fix broken things but doing it seemed second nature to him.  He grew up at a time when it was more common to repair than to replace.  He was handy with all kinds of tools.  Plumbing?  No problem.  Car engine?  Solved.  Home repairs?  Done.  I never remember him calling someone to come to our home to make a repair or him taking our car in for repairs.  He just seemed to know how things worked and, when broken, he fixed them.

Dad had other natural abilities but those are the ones that still create awe for me.

This post was written for Amy Johnson Crow's 2019 version of 52 Ancestors.  The post topic for the week was "Nature."


Copyright ©2019, Nancy Messier.  All Rights Reserved. 
Do not copy or use any content from this blog without written permission from the owner.

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