Monday, September 15, 2014

One Lovely Blog Award, Part 2: Share Seven things about yourself

 

Randy Seaver over at the Genea-Musing Blog passed on to me the One Lovely Blog Award and you can read all about that here. I was very happy to receive it from such a prestigious blogger who is on every Best Of list! But of course there are catches that usual come with awards and this one included what felt to me like a catch:

Share seven things about yourself 

Seven things about me?! And I'm assuming that the seven things should be at least a little interesting, shouldn't they? That's gonna be real hard. So here they are and you'll soon see why I am balking at this part of the honor;)

1. I don't like to talk about me very much. I'll share if it's helpful to someone else but otherwise who wants to hear all about me? No one. Oh, sure I'll tell a story from my point of view but that simply serves the story. Therefore, this is going to be hard. So here I am wasting one of the seven with a statement that I don't like to share things about myself... there, that killed one of em';)

2. I was born in the same county that Mom and Dad were born in, all of my grandparents were born in, and 6 out of 8 of my great grandparents. Those two were born in Wales and Ireland, that being Daniel Williams (1852 - 1920) the coal miner from Wales and Catherine Elizabeth (House) Whetstone (1865 - 1947) born in Ireland. The county I was born into is Allegany County and it's a lovely lush green piece of mountain Maryland heaven. When I'm visiting Mom I don't have to go far to find all the home places. And I can really appreciate it from afar now that I live in Southern California and don't have to shovel their record setting snow accumulations.

3. At my core I'm just a country girl with city leanings. I love the freshness of the woods and am happily surprised when I see a springtime stream and can go looking for tadpoles and wildflowers. Sure, sure, everyone enjoys a real upscale restaurant in the city or a Broadway play that just opened to rave reviews, but at this point in my life I've had my fill of city life and I'd rather have a pot of fresh vegetable stew on the stove in my own home. For years I lived in Manhattan but I feel right at home on this Southern California canyon with the skunks, raccoons, opossums, grouse, hummingbirds, a rattlesnake or two, and the rare coyote and all manner of critters and birds.

4. To me the most useless thing in the world is having the common cold. Can't think. Use up all the tissues in the house. No appetite. Useless waste of time. Now whose idea was that?

5. I'm short. All these young people are tall. I don't like it.

6. I think best either in the shower or in the car by myself taking a ride to nowhere in particular. Because we live in Southern California and there's water conservation going on, long thoughtful showers are out. A lot of us think best while going on a car ride. By ourselves. Having a car full of people is counterproductive to thinking, don't you feel? I've been know to be deep in thought and driving to a specific destination only to be suddenly shaken out of a reverie and realize that I'd completely forgotten where I was going. And of course I'd passed the exit I wanted. Don't laugh. I bet you've done that too!

7. I like to do indexing. When FamilySearch was running their 1940 census project I was a cheerful participant. Then when we all pitched together to break the world record for the number of indexers indexing in one day, I was there. The records I seek out are death certificates. I really like them. Texas are my all time faves. If I get a bunch of them from a geographic area over a couple of years, well I could do that indexing all day long. And I read those death certificates too so I'm a slow indexer. I find them fascinating because they tell a lot about a community. Number of gunshot deaths, density of clogged arteries or heart attacks, a rash of infant deaths. I can't help but wonder why.

Well, see I warned you that I don't like to talk about myself. Next time I need to tackle the list of blogs that interest me and that I want to pass this One Lovely Blog Award on to. I've only got 15 to give out so that will be difficult. I think we're in a sort of Golden Age of genealogy blogging. Yes, picking out 15 will be real hard!


My Mountain Maryland.


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Saturday, September 13, 2014

Mom's DAR adventure: It will take a village

I always thought it a great big sad shame that Mom was never able to make application to the DAR. It's not like she didn't have an ancestor who was already recognized and accepted by them as one of their Patriots, because she did. He's one of our Wonderful Whetstones and you can see my Surname Saturday post about Capt. Jacob Whetstone (1738 - 1833) and the entire line here. Problem is that a family genealogy book was put out by an interested party stating that Jacob Whetstone's line took a turn at Somerset County and then headed west. In fact, there were two Jacob Whetstones in the area at the time! Our guy was the one who got the Military Lots:) That ought to tell ya' right there that he's the one who served.

But let's set that can of Whetstone worms aside and get back to this business that Mom had not had an ancestor who was officially approved by the DAR and recognized as one of its Patriots. Until right now. (I'm all but giddy!)

Got an email from Cousin Rich who informed me that he just checked the DAR web site and looked for our ancestor to see that he is now listed, and approved!! Giddy, I tell you:) I congratulated him and his wife as well because they were the ones who readied and submitted the application. Man, I thought, that's got to feel great, to have a brand new patriot officially listed! That was some super good genealogy work on Rich's part because, well, you know, it's West Virginia where court houses burn down every other Halloween, or at least that's how it seems.

Cousin Rich really worked hard on this one, but he was helped by Mom in a major way that put all the pieces together. Without the document she found, which we've come to call the "friendly lawsuit", there might have been no proof of our connection to this new Patriot.

After the dust settled a bit and the congratulations were flung around and emailed back and forth, I had a moment to think and realize what this meant. Mom now had her Patriot under which she could finally make application to the DAR! Wow! It could finally happen for her.

I'd recently read that the usual application processing time which can take more than a year is fast tracked for those over 90. Mom qualifies at 96 years old. Maybe we could actually get this done:) I emailed Cousin Rich and explained what I wanted to do and he replied instantly that he'd love to help get Mom in the DAR. Now I had my team in place to work up the application for Mom's lineage and  to show the Patriot's service. See the ducks? Look at them getting into a tidy little row.

Time is always of the essence but especially when the prospective member is 96. So wish us all luck, and may the wind be at our backs. I so want Mom to be a DAR member at long last. I haven't told her yet. Shh, this is just between us. I'll keep you posted:)


Mom at less than a year with her parents, Cambria "Camey" Williams (1897 - 1960) and Emma Susan (Whetstone) Williams (1897 - 1956). Mom's patriot is on her mother's line.


The URL for this post is: http://nutsfromthefamilytree.blogspot.com/2014/09/moms-dar-adventure-it-will-take-village.html

Thursday, September 11, 2014

The One Lovely Blog Award!

 


I get email feeds from the blogs I really really like and don't want to miss and the rest of the blogs that interest me I read in my news reader. At the top of my list are a scant few that always get looked at no matter how fast my morning is running. Tops amongst them is Randy Seaver's Genea-Musings. It's educational and newsy, and often just darn amusing. Seriously, if you aren't subscribed go do it now. And while you're there take a close look at the tabs at the top. You'll find Best Of posts and the tab for Source Citations. That's worth the price of admission right there!

Anyway, Randy received the "One Lovely Blog" Award. The award is one of those things that goes around the blog-a-sphere from time to time. It's a swell way to shine a spotlight on the blogs you follow and would share with a good genea-buddy. It's a nice thing:) Randy then did me the honor of including this blog on his list of Lovely Blogs. Isn't that Lovely? I think so:)

Here are the rules, as stated on Randy's Genea-Musings:
  1. Thank the person who nominated you and link to that blog
  2. Share Seven things about yourself 
  3. Nominate 15 bloggers you admire (or as many as you can think of!)
  4. Contact your bloggers to let them know that you've tagged them for the One Lovely Blog Award
So I'm going to take some time and think about which 15 blogs to nominate and then think some more about the 7 things I want to share here about myself. Then I'll be back real soon and make a proper post. How's that?
 
But right now I'm doing Number 1. So here's a proper Thank You, going out to Randy Seaver.
 
 
 
THANK YOU, Randy Seaver!
 
 
 
 

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Food of the ancestors: feels like love

I remember both of my grandmother's cooking and maybe you remember yours too. It was wonderful to be in their kitchens and smell the glorious scents of heaven nearby. My Grandma Kelly was an excellent baker and came from a German way of cooking. Breads, sweet cakes, pies, and those little scraps of pie dough sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar that had no name, except, "Yes, please!" The food of our ancestors lives on in many of our hearts even though those who cooked with love are now gone.

My husband's family came from Eastern European Jewish roots. When I married him and went to family food-based events, I noticed some similarities between Grandma Kelly's cooking and his family's cooking. In short, they both had German roots. For example, noodle dishes that were either sweet or savory were often on the table. At my core, I understood kasha varniskas, an Eastern European Jewish dish that combines kasha which is buckwheat groats with noodles, mostly bow tie pasta. A "Danish" pastry by any name is still a wonderful thing.

Recently, my husband received a link from an old buddy of his so he sent it on to me to enjoy, sending me to this video titled, "Deli Man". It caught my interest not just because the food looked mouth-watering but because it speaks to traditions in food passed down through generations, with love and respect.

I wish I had my Grandma Kelly's recipes. I often asked her how she made things and even attempted to take notes. Mom did too, more often than I did. We were both persistent yet gave up after many tries. You see, Grandma didn't follow any recipes. It was a handful of this and mix with your fingers just so until it looked like this. Just a little more because it didn't feel right. Now add a pinch of salt. Not a big pinch but a medium size pinch. If video was available then it would have been perfect to catch her on-the-fly brand of cooking!

So check out the video link, above, for Deli Man. And enjoy:)


Grandma Kelly in her kitchen with Grandpop and their youngest child, Louise.
 

The URL for this post is: http://nutsfromthefamilytree.blogspot.com/2014/09/food-of-ancestors-feels-like-love.html

Friday, September 5, 2014

Wow! The Lonaconing Journal! Who knew?

Mom and I had talked about the "Lonaconing Journals" a couple of times and we even thumbed through her copy on one trip back east from here in San Diego where I live to the little mountain town of Frostburg in Western Maryland where our ancestor lived and Mom still lives. One of the great sagas of our family that carried through the generation of the 1800s and into the 1900s is that of the coal miner. Mining was the occupation put on many a census for the men of the family from that first wonderfully descriptive census in 1850 down to about 1940. That's over 100 years of the hard, crippling and low paid work of mining.

"The Lonaconing Journals" is by a woman who really knows her way around the coal mines of Allegany County Maryland, and that's Katherine A. Harvey. The proper and full title of this work is "The Lonaconing Journals: The funding of a coal and iron community, 1837 - 1840". Published in 1977 by The American Philosophical Society, it was I've been told, a master's degree thesis. This work along with Ms. Harvey's PhD dissertation, "Best-dressed Miners: Life and labour in the Maryland coal region, 1835 - 1920", Cornell University Press, 1970, is all you'd ever need when trying to imagine your coal miner ancestors, especially if the come from Western Maryland. Of all that I've ever read about coal mining and coal miner's families in the area, these two are the very best!

Here's how Harvey describes the facts of the Lonaconing Journals:
The Lonaconing journals, kept by the super-intendents of the George's Creek Coal and Iron Company, cover the period 1837-1840. Their setting is the recent Appalachian frontier, and their subject is the building of an experimental iron furnace and the development of its adjacent company town in western Maryland. The principal figure in these activities was John Henry Alexander (1812-1867), topographical engineer for the state of Maryland, professor of mining and engineering at the University of Pennsylvania, one of the founders of the National Academy of Science, a member of the American Philosophical Society, and author and editor of works on many topics.
Harvey states on this same page, page one, that the Journal chronicling the earliest days of the company miraculously survived all moves and destructions of other company documents, files, and papers! It is a window into a point in local history not otherwise available.

It paints the picture of an area in the first days of a boom time. The lives of the miners here - mostly immigrants from Wales, Ireland, England and Scotland with a few from Germany - were better than miners elsewhere and they were more prosperous too. When they moved into the area back then, miners brought the entire family and the area had as a result a much more stable population, unlike other mining town where the miners were almost always single men. This was a relatively peaceful and prosperous mining community.

Don't want to paint too idyllic a picture of it all. There were wage disputes, attempts at unionizing that met with management's resistance and dirty dealing, and awful strikes. The ill or injured miners and their families were sometimes summarily evicted from their cottages because they could no longer work. It was a hard life by today's standards but a pretty good deal for the miners of the day and much better than they were going to get in Pennsylvania to the north and West Virginia to the south.

Mom's ancestors along her father's line, the Williams family,  were almost exclusively coal miners in the George's Creek Mine Field in Allegany County, Maryland until the 1920s. The Williams family's patriarch, Daniel, came from Wales from a line of coal miners, and all worked in the Western Maryland mines from about 1841 to the time of the Roaring Twenties. Mom's father, Camey or more formally Cambria and given the very traditional name for Wales, was brought to the mines to work at a young age. His father, Daniel Williams, immigrated to work there and became a supervisor. He eventually got the fever of owning a mine during the boom times of WWI and purchased one in Mt. Savage near his home place in Ocean, Maryland where he worked for the Consolidation Coal Company. He then bought another mine over in West Virginia. The West Virginia mine, as best Mom and Aunt Betty can figure out, was rich in tin. After he passed it was eventually lost for unpaid taxes. The Mt. Savage mine property is still in the hands of one of Daniel's descendants.

Daniel and his progeny weren't the only miners who came from Wales on Mom's side. The most famous is Benjamin Thomas and his family. Below is the ships' passenger list for the Barque Tiberius where his family is listed. You can see that Benjamin and four of his sons are listed as "colliers" or coal miners.  My great great grandmother, Diana, is just 6 years old!

 
 



 
 Benjamin Thomas and family were recruited in Wales by the Consolidation Coal Company and as such their passage was paid for by the Company and they arrived at the Port of Baltimore in July of 1837. The Company had been busy with their engineers and workers building out the mine and iron works. All was ready for the miners to get to work making a profit, and they did in the fall of that year. And their plans were BIG! Once the whole operation got going, there were was a superintendent, four managers, numerous clerks, and 400 mine workers working under them. Periodically the Journals noted that a couple more families from the Tiberius had arrived, found lodging and were ready to work.

The passages included in Harvey's book are excerpts from the complete set of Journals. She admits to leaving out much of the technical details. Included are some passages from the actual journals kept by John H. Alexander from 1837 to 1840 with a lot of technical description about how the furnace was built as well as some of the more innovational aspects of the entire projects. But the day-to-day stuff about the miners is the real fascinating material.

A post office is established. Local clay gets turned into bricks and those bricks get put to work on many projects and were even used as floors in the dirt floor "shantees" or very modest cottages purchased from farmers nearby. Blacksmiths were hired. Blacksmiths up and quit, likely hired away by mines in neighboring states. Boarding houses popped up for the few single men but mostly housed families until they could find a proper house or cottage. Roads got built, men were injured.

The activity continued at a fast pace until the usual harsh Western Maryland winters gave the whole project a reason to slow down.
February 21.-Mercury stands at -1 at 7 A.M. The mornings have been so cold for several days past that the stonecutters at the hearth could only work in the afternoons.
February 22.-Thermometer at 7 A.M. stands at --9.
It is so cold that a number of hands could not work out of doors. Carpenters again stopped working at the molding house in consequence of the severe cold.

Some newly hired workers just don't work out.
February 23.-John Thomas, who has been here since October last and was intended for a furnace keeper, will persist in getting drunk and has been discharged.
I have no idea if this John Thomas was the son of our Benjamin Thomas, listed on the Tiberius manifest above.

And more accidents happen. Snow comes in March and again in April finally making a last appearance in May. Talk about harsh weather!

In Volume 2 of the Journals, the details of the lives of the miners working for The Consolidation Coal Company were recorded. This is the very best description of the terms of employment and daily life under the Company I've ever had the great pleasure to read!  Rules like no dogs being kept in the heart of the winter without the specific approval of the superintendent are noted and a directive that  houses must be kept clean and tidy, making a pleasant appearance. It was set out in writing that the miners must work from sunrise to sunset all days of the year except Christmas and Sundays. And most importantly, no distilled spirits and no drunkenness. Ever. At all. And if the rule was violated, people were fired.

On page 46 I read this.
February 19.-The night passes off quietly. The revelers at Buskirk's pass the sentinels by keeping high up the hill. Benjamin Thomas, miner, and wife stopped by sentinels in a state of intoxication.
WOW! That's our Benjamin Thomas! He and Hanna (Evans) his wife were drunk. Now that's well worth knowing! So the story is that they and others would scamper up the hillside and move as quietly as possible through the woods to get to the home of the Buskirk's where liquor was served. Everyone knew about it and most found their way, often on a Saturday night. And of course the mining company knew. It was no problem at all for them to wait in hiding for intoxicated miners and their wives as they loudly stumbled home.

It always amazes me how such juicy details are hidden and waiting for us to find them, deep in an obscure record. If Mom hadn't been so curious about the life and times of her ancestors she might have skipped the "Lonaconing Journals" in search of some index or listing with less of a beating heart. But she didn't. She found it in a local library and copied out the pages. Her notes from this time when she first read the Journals are a treasure to me. It's like she's right here with me, and we're finding it all over again!


Daniel Williams (1852-1920).

 


 
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Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Quick note: Bridget Farrell from Cumberland

Will the person who visits this blog by searching on Bridget Farrell from Cumberland please email me. I think we're looking for the same Bridget Farrell!

Here's my email: dianew858@hotmail.com


The URL for this post is: http://nutsfromthefamilytree.blogspot.com/2014/09/quick-note-bridget-farrell-from.html

This is this the 501st post for this blog

Sure, Randy Seaver over at Genea-Musings (my favorite blog!) has me beat and left me in the dust with his recent announcement of  8000 incredible posts, but this is a big deal for me. This is the 501st blog post!

When I started this blog two and a half years ago I really didn't know what was going to happen and if I'd keep with it or whether it was going to be too much work and not enough return so I'd toss it in the untended blog scrapheap. But it turned out to be way more rewarding than I ever expected!

My original thought was to blog in an effort to keep what best might be described as a hunting journal. I figured that if I set out my plans in writing as a blog post I'd have a better chance of keeping on track. Then if I reported back I'd have a place, public as it might be, to see what happened. Sounds now like I'm describing a research journal, and I do think in retrospect that a research journal was what I wanted... I just didn't know about research journals because I was a real newbie then.

As I learned things I figured that I'd post them in an effort to examine new concepts or resources. I was learning stuff right and left so there was always plenty to post!

I also posted about my ancestors and stories I heard about them and what the research and records told me about them. I've always been a total fool for a good story, even if they prove unfounded. And along the way I saw that at the core of most of these old stories handed down is a solid gold nugget of truth. I'm not talking about the Indian princess thing or descending from royalty stuff but stories with amazing specificity. I love stumbling into the detailed stories! I also love seeing how the same story can change along different branches descending from a common ancestor. Now that's pure fun!

But the very best feature of having a blog is one that I didn't anticipate. I truly thought that no one would read it except for Mom and a cousin or two. Mom did, of course, because she's Mom. But cousins pop in now and again but certainly don't visit on a daily basis. No, the very bestest thing that happens here is catching new-to-me cousins. I just love that! "Cousin bait", they call it.

I have to tell you, sometimes I go off searching about an ancestor on Google and if I've written about them here, this blog usually comes up in the first couple of Google results. How cool is that?! Right now I'm enjoying a new cousin contact about every other week.

I've never had a problem coming up with something to write about. Guess I'm just like that: if I'm excited about something I'll think to blog about it. In the past I've used GenaeBloggers's daily blogging prompts just because they are so nifty. And if I feel ill or tired I just don't blog for a while because my heart isn't in it.

There are so many good resources for bloggers now that I'd almost like to start over, but no. I like where I am now that I've done 500 posts. Here's looking forward to the next 500!


Mom. She's the one who got me interested in this genealogy thing.


The URL for this post is: http://nutsfromthefamilytree.blogspot.com/2014/09/this-is-this-501st-post-for-this-blog.html