Letter from North Dakota February 1887

Ella and Judson were in North Dakota in 1887. Why I don’t know. I do know Uncle Enos was born in Oregon, where they were headed in the last blog entry. So here is a letter she wrote home.
From Frances Spencer Powell’s  files
Letter from ND to IN 1887

First page of this letter, with Enos’ contribution in lower right hand corner

Written in FSP hand at top: “1887?”
Dakota, in the midst of a Simon-pure blizzard-Feb 10th
Dear Folks at Home:
Yesterday Jud went to town as the weather was reasonably good & as usual got caught in a blizzard. He hasn’t made but one trip this winter and had pleasant weather both ways & that was in December when I was with him. He said when he left that he should stay all night so that was all that comforted me for I knew he could never reach here alive through the awful driving storm. I kept watch through the window &  just at night when I saw a little let up I took my cat under my arm & ran to the stable. The lower door was drifted fast all ready so I climbed over it & threw the cat in ahead of me. Then I proceeded to fee the horse, cow & calf & chickens. Everything was inside right to my hand. I stuffed the mangers full for I made up my mind that if it was storming the the morning I should not go out. Now I climbed out again & gasping to keep my breath which the wind seems bound to take from me I brace the door firmly, scramble up the bank of snow & turning my back to the wind speed along to the house, wherein is warmth & safety. This morning the storm continued with unabated vigor but about ten o’clock Jud drove up to the door. He did not stay in town over night but came out as far as he thought best that night. Then stopped with a Mr. “Kee-o” at least that’s the way they pronounce it. I don’t think much of Dakota as a “winter resort” — it will do as a last resort which is what it is to us.
3
Feb 11th
I will return to the subject of blizzards in order to explain some statements I have made which sound contradictory. In the first place I will assume that you do not know what a blizzard is–I did not till I saw one. The air is full of snow driven before a fierce wind at great speed. If it is snowing the wind is in the north-east and not very cold; but it just as often happens to be in the north-west & then it is bitterly cold as well. The air is full of snow just the same for the snow here is dry & light and ready to move at a moments notice. When it is dark it would be impossible to travel without getting lost but by daylight if one is acquainted with the various landmarks it is _possible_ to travel if the cold is not too severe. Jud froze the top of his nose yesterday coming home. He was about 6 miles from home. He had on a buffalo overcoat & did not suffer otherwise. People here say this is generally the worst winter month. I am thankful it is a short one. Our blizzard ended about noon today having run its course of 48 hours.
Feb. 13th
My journal received no additions last evening as it was the appointed time for the fortnightly bath in which Enos & I indulge. This is a lovely day –warm enough that the eave are dripping some on the south side of the house a thing which has not occurred more than 3 or 4 times before this winter. I hear a dog barking too which is a sound I haven’t heard since early fall. Enos just came to me with the comb and said “lay on winnow mama” I worked up in a preoccupied way & he added “mama too busy now” to which I assented & he ran away & concluded he would comb his fathers hair. Poor child he feels the close confinement as much or more than I do.
5
Feb 13 continued
I am re-reading your letter as I write to answer questions etc. On the very first page Mother asks “did I stay along?” No my son is always with me and all the protection I need. I wouldn’t stay alone in town for a good deal I am far safer here. I have stayed alone 5 times now. The author of the “Transcendental Poem” describes in a quaint manner what a Scotchman would call “speering into the future” does he not? Speaking of winter I think we have had even more “to the cubic inch” than you have. Blizzard has followed blizzard in quick succession & when not actually storming it has be so terribly cold that no female could venture forth. Mr. & Mrs. Thompson slipped out “between spells” and made us a pleasant visit.
We were very glad to have you say that you thought there was no immediate prospect even of fathers marriage. All I have to judge from is his manner while here which certainly looked very much as though he intended to keep house again. Is it possible he would live alone? Sometimes I wish I had stayed with him. I think he would be contented then. As for Susan’s carpet, — she was making that the fall I was there and has made several and sold them at a fair profit I believe. No wonder Clara failed to smile. It was a cruel stab to her I have no doubt. She is a quiet little women but capable of considerable feeling. If she only had the right kind of a man to guide her! When I read your long welcome letters I think it was too long a trial for her age. I don’t see how you can keep up your choir–music being so far from you must be very hard for you to see. Who have you for soprano now either of the “Katies”? I see Father Gonanth [?] soon sets sail for France. I hope you will like his successor as well. While I was writing the closing lines Enos took occasion to write a few on page 1. He calls a pencil a “shirty” and insisting on dipping it into the “Coffee”. Father wrote us that he thought it was too hard work for Clara to take care of him–he preferred she should have her strength for her own family.
Feb 14 1887 Evening
We’ve got a new blizzard from last night somewhere midnight. It blew terribly in the night and for a while this morning; but through the day it has been less severe and even with occasional lulls of quite a period. So far the February blizzards haven’t seemed to have the power to hang on like the ones in Jan. and I am in hopes Winter is gradually wearing out. Thought I would mention the storm so that you would see we were still supplied& about how long a breathing spell we get between spells. Wonder what you & ma have bee doing today I have patched trousers [underlined and and circled–Libbi] all day. N. B. I have just learned that is the most correct thing to say. I sat right down after breakfast & went to work–mended two pair. Jud washed the breakfast dishes and got dinner; made his first mess of biscuit–drop biscuits. They were good.
I have been weaning Enos from his thumb, in fact–I may say he is weaned. Had very little trouble. I put on thumb stalls or mittens when “the fever was on” and talked him out of the notion. Sometimes in the morning before we are up he will ask if he can suck his thumb. I say no but you can suck your toe. “No taint good”, and that ends it usually. He is very fond of nursery rhymes and keeps me telling over & over what I can remember. He can almost repeat “Tommy Tucker” and “Jacky Horner.” He is learning to count too. While of think of it did Dora or anyone save me and garden seeds? she has never written anything about it. I made Enos such a nice comfortable dress of the dolman. He hasn’t worn it any is keeping it for nice or when the weather gets so we are seen and &can see. Rachel sent him cloth & buttons for one. It is wine-colored tricot. Well the room is getting cold & I must go to bed. We go to bed at 8 every night to save coal–think of it!
Feb 15
Just heard from a neighbor that there had been no trains through for five days. Hope the blockade won’t last much longer we miss the mail so. Weather warmer and quite pleasant. Washed today & baked some excellent bread and sweet biscuits–have some? I thought I was quite a kinttist till I had ma’s report. I have knit four pair of stockings for baby and now am knitting for myself. One pair most done. I might not to have written this I forgot your eye.
Feb. 18th
My journal has been neglected for two days and Dickens is to blame for it. I have been reading “Little Dorrit”. We have been very fortunate in the way of reading matter having been supplied by Mr. Blymer. It has all be of good quality too mostly old numbers of the Century, though we have read two of Coopers novels one of Mrs. Alexander’s and this one of Dickens.
I had such a fright the 16th. Enos, disappointed because he could not go and ride with his papa, threw himself (in grief and anger) on the floor & came to me crying terribly & refusing to let me move one of his arms or hand. I thought is was either broken or disjointed so ran and called Jack back. We undressed him & tried every bone & joint from the shoulder down to the finger tips and finally found it was only a sprained hand. You can imagine my relief.
We had two day of fine weather right together the 15 & 16. The night of the 16th the wind came up again and has been giving it to us ever since. Will probably wind up tonight. It is not very cold. The enclosed clipping Cara sent us I thought it was good enough to pass on.
We saw the smoke of two trains on the 15th so know we will have mail in town. Jud goes in tomorrow if pleasant.
Feb. 19th
Pleasant this morning as I predicted so this journal will take its winding way to “Wolfs Hall.” I like this method of letter writing as I think of a good many things I have been wanting to say or ask that I neglect in writing a hurried letter. You know the old saying, “dream of fruits out of season etc.”? If there is any truth in that I surely worry for nothing. IN fact I have dreamed of everything under the sun this winter from fruit to setting on the ridge pole with Frank R. looking over a box of views!! Jud says I eat too much, perhaps I do. Well the time has come to say “adios” and I hope you will won’t add like Artemus or Mark Twain may she never “do us” again. Ella Miner
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My great-grandmother’s trip to “homestead” in Oregon.

original manuscript

The manuscript from which I transcribed this

Ella Colburn Miner

Ella Colburn Miner age 18

Transcription E. L. Miner’s account of trip to Oregon
June 8, 2015 at 9:16am
Bits of Family History Eva Louella Coburn and Judson David Miner En Route for Oregon
(Must have been 1884 or thereabouts Spring–[Frances Spencer Powell penciled note])

First day out. [Tuesday] Left Chicago at 11.30, so did a great many others. There was the usual variety of people including babies and a love sick couple. The lover was a “bonanza” to the train boys as he bought everything they came along with for his lady-love’s delectation. Then went even the same car with us as far as St. Paul, where we took the Emmigrant train or car and they continued in the usual way of traveling. Their destination being W. T. From K.K.K (Kankakee?) on we noticed the country will gradually grew wetter and every now and then we crossed a angry little streams. Judging Northern Illinois as we saw it from the car windows, I wouldn’t take as a farm gift and be obliged to live there. Land flat and wet, with no chance for drainage. Wisconsin was not much better. At Milwaukee we stopped 25 minutes but could not see much of the place from the car windows. The railroad runs through the back streets and alleys and but for one [manuscript torn] had of the city before we reached it we should have [manuscript torn] a very poor impression of it. It grew dark soon after leaving [manuscript torn] we spent the night as best we could in a crowded car. Our satchels and bundles made it much worse for us as we had no place to stretch out comfortably. Jud took occasional trips to the smoking car so as to give me the seat to rest in. So ended the first day and night.

(Second day out.) [Wednesday] We reached St. Paul at 7:20 and had to spend the day there. The day was very unpleasant -a light snow falling and melting as it fell. We went on tour a little while but the streets were so dirty and slippery that there was little comfort in it. It is a very pretty little city, but the streets are very narrow. We laid in a supply of bread there and got it very reasonable. The depot was clean and pleasant, well warmed and conveniences for wash and combing etc. At about 7 o’clock the Depot Master came to us and advised us to go on the car early and secure our berths. Here we were turned over into the hands of a burly, important Irishman, who settled us according to his liking and then left us. The train did not leave until 8:30 so we had ample time to settle ourselves and take a view of our fellow passengers. A family of six settled themselves behind us. A man, a woman and 4 children; three of them under 6 years of age. Twins and it might have been worse. We concluded to make the best of it although the children yelled in chorus; for the poor woman looked tired to death. (she had some from [manuscript torn] Co. N. Y.) At last the train started, we made up our beds [manuscript torn] retired to peace(?)ful [sic] slumber. We slept soundly, as we [manuscript torn] had so little rest the night before. That is, we did until the earthquake struck us. The first we knew babies were squalling by the dozen, men were swearing, women scolding and all was confusion. To explain, we had reached Minneapolis and the overflowing emigrant cars ahead of us had generously sent us a delegation. There were three families and they had 11 children. They were from Missouri and tired out with their trip. The men had been standing up and the women sitting on the floor holding their children in their laps. But we knew nothing of this and we were tired too, and didn’t relish being disturbed. We women sat up and jawed and pounded our pillows while we remarked that they had better not try to put any young ones in with us. Zina and Will were luxuriating in a berth apiece but when the conductor invited them to take in a few children, they crept in together, careful to take their bedding with them. At last the conductor had them piled in and very corner was full. We didn’t take any children into our bunks. We had solos and choruses all night but slept considerably not withstanding., we were so tired. When morning came and we all turned out, there wasn’t room to swing a cat. We were not favorably impressed with the newcomers. They were dirty, ignorant, and taken altogether not our style. We gave an upper berth to them and one seat in the day time. But when the trespassed farther we soon settled them. Scenery very uninteresting so far.

(Third Day) [Thursday] Morning found us in Dakota–snow on every side, nothing but sleighs in use. The weather was quite cold, we sat with shawls on, and had a good fire in each end of the car. The car has double windows and those who raised the inside one to get a better view, soon had no view at all as the windows were quickly covered with frost. The children, poor dears, had bad colds and their mothers were short of handkerchiefs or didn’t know what they were made for. The first part of Dakota that we passed through was quite flat. None of us were pleased with it. The last part was more rolling, and what we say by daylight more thickly settled and more pleasing every way. Although the snow still covered it all. At Fargo, we made a long stop; it was a nice looking little city. We had not time to explore however and one cannot see much from car windows. Jud is off the minute the train stops no matter how short the stay. I expect to leave him somewhere on the road.

(Fourth Day.) [Friday] We arose and put on our clothes, behind our curtains (which was a luxury but few enjoyed). Early in the morning we passed through the town of Glendive, a pretty little place. And now the weather began to moderate, and snow was melting although the sun refused to shine. We haven’t had a pleasant day yet. If it wasn’t actually storming, the weather was still cloudy. We stopped about half an hour here and women and all got of a few minutes. Glendive is on the Yellow Stone River and the second station we passed through in Montana. We picked up a few stones as relics and marked them Glendive. The Yellow Stone in not a large river, not wider than the Iroquois and not as deep on the average I should judge. There are high bluffs along the river and the cars ran along underneath for some distance. Jud was nearly sick with his sore eyes and throat but the colored glasses he got at Fargo relieved his eyes considerably. We ran along the Yellow Stone all day not being more than a half mile distant at any time. We reached Billings a little before night. A man came on board the train for the first time with provisions. Offered nice bread for ten cents a loaf, big loaves and good bread; men were off of course so although we were nearly out, did not get any. Nearly dark now and in the night we left the banks of the river. An hour or so before sundown we passed freight cars on a side track snow under, nothing visible but the brake wheel. They were flat cars though.

(Fifth Day) Saturday morning, the sun consented to come forth and smile on us, our first pleasant day. We went to bed in a land of snow and awoke in a country where all the snow that was visible lay on the mountain tops! We had beautiful scenery all the way and our eyes scarce left the windows. High hills with over-hanging crumbling rocks were hedging us in on one side or the other nearly all the way now, and in fact sometimes on both sides where a passageway had been blasted through solid rock. Sometimes we had a river on one side and bluffs on the other, and the thought that some of these huge rocks might loosen as we rumbled by and sweep us off the embankment down into the turbulent river below was rather depressing. But the scenery was so varied and grand now mountain clothed with evergreen and son, then beautiful little valleys, that such thoughts quickly vanished and we were lost in wonder. We were constantly exclaiming, and point out curious things to each other. Windows at last did not satisfy us and the car platform was crowded continually. I counted 14 at one time on our rear platform. We are the last car on our train which gives us a better chance for sight-seeing. Small cabins and dugouts are scattered all along the route; occasionally we see Indians or Chinamen occupying them. But most of them are deserted, having been built by track layers probably. We have seen a number of Chinese graves too, surrounded by little log pens, with a pine board for tombstone with Chinese hieroglyphics. We made a stop at Garrison of half a day’s length. How we rushed through dinner, grabbed hats, shawls etc and prepared to climb the mountain that lay behind the town! “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again” was our motto and at last we succeeded in reaching the top. Nearly all the passengers were out and as excited as school children; we had been penned up so long! we gathered stones and evergreens, and captured a cactus of the prickly variety, with which the mountain was well supplied. Jud and I also took a walk of over a mile down the track on which we were going to leave town, trying in vain to get around the curve with was always just before us. We saw a veritable cow-boy today, he rode out from his home, lariat in hand, and rode a short distance into a group of horses who were feeding on the dead grass, and soon had the one he wanted by the neck. We saw plenty of horses, cattle and sheep feeding on dry buffalo grass, and all looking well. We got out of bread today and Will went out and got one small loaf and eight dry biscuit for a quarter. We wished we had laid in a supply at billings. Eggs 50 cts., butter 5 cents, canned peaches 50. Went to bed tired with our tramp, but closed our eyes regretfully on the beautiful scenery which lay all around us.

(Sixth Day) Sunday — but no one would imagine it, here where no one seems to fear, or reverence God. It seems as though the country we are passing through must impress the most hardened mind, with the wisdom and power of Him who hath made it all and keeps us in the midst of danger as in “the hollow of His hand.” But on every side we see men busily at work, the acquisition of gold their only thought. This morning we found ourselves in snow country again, with a heavy fog hanging on the hilltops. I forgot to tell you that the express train took us 50 miles beyond Helena, where you remember we expected to be left for a freight. Since we became freight of course our progress is slower, as we make so many stops. Early this morning we crossed a high trestle-work bridge said to be over 200 feet high. Judson says 220. Later we crossed on 95 feet high, which we thought high as we cared for. It was not considered very safe we were told after crossing and that no more trains would be allowed to pass! They are going to put in an iron bridge. We went through these tunnels today, one was a mile long, and we were six minutes and a half going through. In all there are six tunnels on our route. In the afternoon we were reading and enjoying ourselves in various way not paying much attention to scenery, when something jarred our car, and the brakeman came running through and told us the step had been swept off our car by a falling rock! It was on the side where Jud usually stood, but just then he was on the other side, and said he saw something go flying along under him as the car sped along. It was a narrow escape, and we don’t admire rocks so close at hand any more. On one side of us was perpendicular rocks, on the other a river, called Clark’s Fork. So that if the rock had been a little larger we must have been swept off in the river and if we had escaped being crushed would probably had been drowned. Tonight as Settie and I were retiring she told me that some of the passengers had told her that we would cross Lake Pend Oreille [Editor’s Note: pronounced: pond-ə-ray] on the ferry in the night — two cars at a time. We were so frightened at the idea that we could not sleep. We crossed the lake about an hour before dark on a high bridge and rode along beside it till dark and we couldn’t see why we need cross it again. Finally we slept and next morning inquired eagerly if we have ferried in the night. no one seemed to think we had and on questioning the trainmen found that we were to ferry the Snake River late that afternoon. We passed through Spokane Falls at night so had no chance to see Isaac or his farm.

(Seventh Day – Monday) We begin to see a hint of green grass today and the sagebrush has taken on a green hue. We have made some very pleasant acquaintances on board and some very disagreeable ones. Nearly all our passengers left today, most of them bound to Walla Walla. the 15 children and their parents we were not sorry to part with. A Dr. Buffum and family we made friends with and we lose them tonight regretfully. Right across from our seat live an old couple on their way to Eugene City OR. The old lady is 72 years old but has stood the trip remarkably well. She has a feather bed with her. She is going to her sons at first and after a while to W. T. where she has a daughter. They have come out to live with their children. He is a step-father. We like them very much. The stop off at Portland with us and wait till the next day for their train. Between 3 & 4 o’clock we reached Ainsworth on Snake River and were ferried across safely. After we saw the boat we were not afraid; it looked strong enough to carry a whole train. We went way up on deck and watched our progress. The Snake River is a very swift stream of water. They are building an iron bridge at Ainsworth for the cars; it is to be a swing bridge. Nothing but sand and sage brush to look at from now until dark so we visited and when we reach Wallula unction [WA], said goodbye to the Dr. & family. Some of the trainmen tell us we will reach Portland at 6 o’clock and we are filled with dismay as in that case, we cannot see the Bridal Falls. Someone contradicts the story, and we go to rest determined to wake up early.

(8th Day) And do so! and dress, and hurry out on the platform as we are informed we are nearing that beautiful fall of water of which we have heard so much. The Falls is a beautiful stream of water coming down almost perpendicularly from the mountains till it is within 20 feet or so of the valley where it strikes and falls again! Of course it is a snow-fed river and the water is as white as snow. We passed several lesser falls which would be considered grand anywhere else. As soon as these were passed we hurried to our packing and had not much time to spare as the cars steamed into East Portland at 7.30. [manuscript torn] we left the Emigrant car (without regret) and ferried over to [manuscript torn]land proper. Fighting our way to the International Hotel through [manuscript torn] usual crowd of hawk-men & hotel runners. And so ended our journey.

One incident worth of mention has been omitted. At Missoula, a brakeman came in our car at four o’clock in the morning and ordered passengers to get out of their berths and make room for others who had just got on the train. He said they had carried the banner all night and now it was our turn and that it was time to get up anyway. But Dr. Buffum drew his revolver and swore an oath that made the lamps rattle. And the old man from Mich. who was in the opposite berth began to pull up his socks and gird his loins and prepare himself for battle. The brakeman left and did not show himself for several hours.

[This is on the last page. Very faded, and in the creases the paper is disintegrating]
The rolling stock of the N. Pacific is new [manuscript torn] and [manuscript torn] bad [manuscript torn] seems to [manuscript torn] Management is poor and the employees do not know [manuscript torn] thing more about railroading than a pack of cowboys [manuscript torn] No attention is given to the wants of passengers after [manuscript torn] are once on the train. All of the circulars about [manuscript torn] richness of the Coeur d’Alene mines come from the [manuscript torn] road to get people to travel. The Oregon Rez & Nav Co [manuscript torn] from Wallula Junc. to Portland seems to be better managed. The Oregon Short Line will be completed to Ogden this summer [manuscript torn but I think it says something about a better alternative to] Northern Pacific.
Bits of Family History J. D. & E. L. Miner

For the cousins:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glendive,_Montana
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Garrison,_Montana
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lake_Pend_Oreille
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clark_Fork_River#/media/File:Clark_Fork_Map.png

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Add this bookmark to your Genealogy favorites

Big Thanks to DearMYRTLE.com for coming up with this idea!

If you ever wake up one morning and say to yourself, ‘Self, I want to learn more about genealogy today’, then  head over to  GeneaWebinars.com. There you will find a Google Calendar schedule of  online meetings, classes, hangouts, seminars and webinars to be held on the Web. Many are free, although many are fee-based.

Note: The times on the calendar are  in U. S. Eastern Time Zone (New York).  If you need a time zone converter see: http://www.timeanddate.com/worldclock/converter.html.

Click on any entry and you will find details on the sponsor or presenter, probably the originator’s web site and details on the subject matter. The presenters may use  Adobe Connect, AnyMeeting, Captera, Google Hangouts, GoToMeeting, GoToWebinar, Live Meeting, Skype, Web-Ex, and Wiggio for a few examples. The presenter’s web site usually has details on how to download what you need.

What else is great: If you have your OWN Google calendar as I do, you can make GeneaWebinars appear on yours. Down in the extreme right bottom corner you will see this image:

Add to Google Calendar

Click on it, and your Google calendar appears. Tell the dialog box yes, and poof! you now will see all the upcoming GeneaWebinar events.

How Cool is THAT?

Thanks again to DearMYRTLE for this great tool!

 

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Cryptic note

This is about my Powells. And about documentation.

In my mother’s Powell file, which has documents from my Powell grandparents, I found a photocopy document entitled Family History.

No date, no author, no idea where the original resides.
But this is what it says (I kept the author’s misspellings and punctuation):

————————
“As I record. this history, May 1970, it seems farfetched to think it took six weeks to travel from Yazoo Co. Miss. to LaSalle, Parish La. when man can travel to the moon in something like four days. Travel by rocket is quite an improvement over the covered wagon mode of travel in 1895. A span of only 75 years. 

FAMILY HISTORY
Reese (Reason Powell) first married Ann Gibson and fathered Mary, Christine, and George W. (could have been others, don’t think so though). After Ann died, Reese married Louisa Foster who was some twenty years younger than he, and fathered Nancy Ann, John Wesley, Benjamine Franklin, William Henry Harrison, James Randolph*, Francis Marion, Josephine, Thomas Jefferson.
Reese Powell’s father came to America with a Brother and Sister late in the 17th. century and Landed at Charleston, S. C. His Brother and Sister returned to Ireland but he stayed, married and fathered Reese. This Emigrant Powell (first name unknown) was a descendant of the Powel who fought with Cromwell during the Puritan or Religious wars in the 16th century. Because of his service to Cromwell was given land on the northern shores of Ireland. It is tradition that this Powell who fought for Cromwell was a Scottsman.
Reese Powell with his family moved from Sumter Co. Ala. to Lauderdale Co. Miss. about 1855. This family lived many years at Meridian, in Lauderdale Co. and Reese died and was buried there. “
—————————–

The document goes on to describe the families of William Henry Harrison Powell who married Matilda. Rushton; John Wesley Powell who married Syrilde Rushton, Matilda’s sister; and related families.  JW Powell and WHH Powell were uncles to my grandfather.

The history recounts some movement between Yazoo MS and Caldwell Parish LA of the families and their friends, culminating in an 1875 trip that involved weeks of rain, camping in a cabin that burned, camping in covered wagons and other adventures. It ends with :

“William H. H. Powell family settled in Calahoula Parish (LaSalle now). Some of the men went to work loggin woods and some farmed. “

Because of the last paragraph, I think perhaps this was written by a descendant of W. H. H. Powell. Because it was in the file with my grandparent’s deeds, wills, marriage license, and a letter from a Beeman relative, I am thinking the author is a cousin to my grandfather who perhaps sent it on to Granddaddy thinking he would be interested. Or maybe Mother asked for it back in 1970. I don’t know because Mother, bless her heart, didn’t write down where she got it, or where GrandPowell and Granddaddy got it.

LESSON: Record your sources.

*William Reason Powell>James Randolph Powell>James Toxie Powell, Sr.>James Toxie Powell, Jr.>me

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RootsMagic6

I have been playing with RootsMagic 6 for a week. I like to see how genealogy programs help you fix things that are broken, and RootsMagic 6 did well!

For example: I imported a GEDCOM with my grandmother’s family, BEEMAN. In my grandmother’s generation, some of her siblings were duplicated because of nicknames. This fix was easy: Simply click the merge sign in the toolbar, bring up both entries and merge them into one. Put the real given name in the box and add the notation that another nickname is also often found, even on census records.

But further back, there was a more complicated problem. My great-great grandfather James Ivy Beeman had what today would be called a melded family: after the Civil War, he was widowed with two children. He married a woman named Sarah or Savannah Cross who was widowed with two children. In the GEDCOM, because of how the household was listed in a census, the input was that the two Cross children, John Wesley Cross, Jr. and Ransom Patrick Cross were the sons of James Ivy Beeman. Adding to the confusion is that John Wesley Cross, Sr., the father of these two, was not yet in the database. Then, Sarah and James Ivy had several children of their own, so we had about 10 children to sort out.

The Fix: first click each of the children of John Wesley Cross, Sr., then Edit, then Unlink. Then add the person who is their father, John Wesley Cross, Sr. Then link the two children as his, and Sarah’s. Now all is well! It took some clicking to find all this under the Edit file, and I do wish a right click on the name would give the same choices, but in the end, it worked.

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After Commando Course 1943

One of the boxes from Mother’s files has her brother’s letters from the 1930s and 40s. This brother is the one who died in the Battle of the Bulge.

The one I scanned and transcribed today has the personality that Mother always told me Vernon had. Here is the text with a few editorial notes from me. I had to look up Feather Merchant and the days of the week for 1943.

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Post Mark: 1943 Mar 8 1 P.M. Fort Knox, Ky.

 Saturday Night [Editor’s Note: March 6, 1943)
End of 10th Week

Dear Folks: My last letter to you left me awaiting the Commando Course I believe. Here goes from there.

The course is much too complicated and long to describe in detail so I’ll just hit the high spots. We were on the course every morning at seven. From the starting point we run (as long as we can hold out) over an obstacle course about 1/2 mile long over a hill that I would call a mountain. It goes straight up nearly from the middle to the peak. When we get to the top there is a 20 ft long wall staring us in the face that has to scaled. We climb that and jump 6 hurdles ranging from two to four feet high. Next is a 10 ft. stretch of barbed wire which has to be crawled under on your back or stomach. from there we run to another wall 7 ft. high which is solid board so you have to jump, grab the top and pull yourself over. Then we hit a 15 ft. slanted log wall that must be climbed over. That brings you to a small ditch leading down the mountain at the center of which is a smoke mine that fills the gully and makes you breakfast come up double time. After we get through the smoke we climb a 15 ft. rope ladder, up one side down the other, run through & down a creek and fall exhausted back where we started. That is done first thing every morning to limber us up. I failed to say that every so often one of the instructors holler[s] “Grenade” and throw a grenade at us. We hit the ground and stay there until it explodes. When they burst two feet in front of you it really makes you hug the ground–

After the obstacle course we spend two hours at each of the following places–an infiltration course, a village, combat firing, Judo and demolitions. Each are as long and complicated as the one I described so you can imagine how much fun it is. On the Infiltration course we had to crawl on our stomachs for 120 yards through land mines, hand grenades, bob wire, etc, while rifles and machine guns fired two feet  over our heads. If we raise up we are shot. That sounds unbelievable I know but no body raises up so no one gets shot. The guys that do the shooting really know what they are doing so it is not as dangerous as it sounds.

I gained more confidence, and learned more ways to kill others and save my neck, in those three days than I ever dreamed was possible. If I can put to use in combat what I learned, I’ll never have to worry about the other guy getting me. The only catch is they know the same tricks!

We had one cold day, dry, yesterday it snowed a couple of inches and today it rained until three when it started snowing again. You can imagine how nice the ground was to crawl on. It’s all over now but the soreness (I walk like I’m 80) and I wouldn’t take any thing for the experience but have no intention of going through it again in the near future. By the way, this course is brand new (three weeks) and I don’t know  how much information is supposed to be given out about it so the less you say to any one the better. We are never supposed to say any thing about our training but this was so good that I couldn’t keep it.

All the physical hurdles are over now. Next week is “Suitability” week and if I get over that I will have an even chance to graduate. Every Day They Send more before the “Board” so all of us have the shakes wondering who will be next. If we get a “Suitability Board” we are as good as through as they just can’t be beat. I would hate to flunk out after going this far but even if I do I learned a lot that will serve me well later, knowledge that I would have never received in my old outfit.

If you have any money left, use it. I m broke but I think the plan has been changed and I will be paid the 10th, if not I can manage.

Everyone here under 5’6″ is called a “Feather Merchant”.   Fewer of us were hurt or couldn’t take it than the big men (on the course) and they are burned up. They were the first on the Course and it nearly killed them. The first day we came in they were all ready to razz us but we bounded up the stairs two at a time (even though I thought every move was the last). You should have seen their faces fall! Big men just can’t take it.

Love, Vernon

Editor’s Note:  slang : one in a position that involves little effort or responsibility or that calculatedly evades effort or responsibility : loafer

 

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Boxes and Boxes!

This past weekend I brought home all my late mother’s files, notes, pictures and books on genealogy. I am sorting, scanning and winnowing this treasure trove. Can one feel daunted and excited at the same time?
Already, I have come up on a small problem, and if anyone out there reading this is from the New York area:
In the New York Genealogical and Biographical Record back in the 20s, were published three articles on Silas Crippen:
Silas Crippen 1759-1831
1924 V55 #3 p251-262
1924 V55 #4 p378-384
1925 V56 ‪#‎l‬ p3-8
Mama copied all of the first article, and I just turned that into a searchable PDF. Anyone who needs that can private message me.
BUT–This is Frances we are talking about. She seems to have skipped the second article, and she copied the third article, but pp. 4 and 5 are missing.

Now, as I have found sheets of paper in this Crippen file that pertain to Reason Powell, to Bradford Tree, to Dexter Hungerford and to Thomas Minor, I’m somewhat hopeful that the missing pages are still in this box, just mis-filed. HOWEVER, comma, should anyone out there have already copied V56 #1 pp3-8 and be willing to send me a copy, boy would I be grateful!!! I would pay postage, scan them into a searchable PDF and send them right back!
Praying to all the Genealogy Angel Corps!

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Family Stories

Several family stories from both sides of my family give personality and life to ancestors.

For example, at the funeral of my Aunt Isabel  (my mother’s sister) recently, my first cousin once removed, Isabel’s granddaughter, said Isabel told this story: Grandfather Spencer (my mother and Isabel’s grandfather) got married late in life after being widowed. It seems a lady came to town looking for a rich husband. Because Grandfather Spencer had a surrey with fringe on top, just like the song. Apparently, as Cathy said, it was the Lamborghini of the time. Seeing this fancy rig,  she assumed the owner was what she was looking for. She set her cap and they were wed.

Now, as Aunt Isabel told it, at the time a rich widow in town would have happily married Grandfather Spencer, had he only asked, because she quite liked him. But he went for the younger, prettier and slier girl.

Once settled into domestic life, the new Mrs. Spencer discovered to her dismay that he was not rich. Not at all. Grandfather Spencer had been a successful farmer in Indiana before moving to Mississippi, but the crops he was accustomed to growing just did not fare well in the Mississippi heat. So he was not only not rich, he was losing money each year. He had a nice house, with nice furnishings, some land, and of course that surrey. But income was not what the bride expected.

She cut her losses quickly, leaving town with all the family heirloom furnishings and was never heard from again. And, we all assumed the nice, rich widow decided Grandfather Spencer was too foolish a man to pursue any further.

This is another family history tale I want to turn into a novel someday!

 

 

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Wending My Way to Paperless-ness

So, the latest edition of Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter  (if you don’t subscribe already, you should!) had a small article about going paperless.

I remember, way back in the 80s, (yes children, I got my first computer in 1982!) that we all believed computers would eliminate the need for paper. Instead, by 1990, I was buying paper by the case.

And today, the end of January still means one thing to me: shuffling through  365 days worth of paper (at least three pieces per day, minimum) to determine what is deductible and what is not…what yearly statements I have and which I must go out and get somehow…creating and sorting spreadsheets from the 1,000 pieces of paper….ugh.

But Dick Eastman had this little blurb, linking to this LifeHacker article, about going paperless. For real.

I have experimented with Evernote,  with PDF Creator, with ShoeBox, and about half a dozen other iPhone and iPad apps, but other than being able to save quick copies of a family Bible, I have not found any of them convenient or elegant.

The LifeHacker article suggests a little hand held, battery powered gizmo for taking pictures of receipts, making them PDFs, posting them to your Evernote account, and organizing the receipts  there.

Um.

I don’t need another battery-powered gizmo in my life. I have enough of those. I also have a HP Photosmart All in One that can scan to searchable PDF for me. I also have a filing system that has worked for me, lo, these 30 years.

It being the end of January, I decided my New Year’s Resolution was to work toward paperless-ness. So I set out, not to reinvent the wheel, but to modify my particular wheel  to carry me into the paperless-ness I desire. 

First I created a new drive on my 1TB hard drive. It is labeled “Paperless”. On my Paperless drive, I now have directories (that’s what we used to call “folders” on our computers, kiddies. Quaint, no?) that match exactly my historical paper filing system: Automobile, Boat, Charitable Contributions,  Credit Cards, House, Insurance, Medical, Misc, Office Supplies, Utilities, and so on. 

Now to my new way of filing: instead of printing out all the email receipts from Amazon, Ebay, and all the other online shopping, I created PDFs of them.  Instead of taking all the paper receipts from the secretary in the living room and filing each in its category in the Bills Box, I started scanning them.  Each scan went into the appropriate folder on the Paperless drive. 

It will take me another day to finish January’s receipts (nothing is ever easy. The printer decided in early January to turn into an electronic brat. I had to re-install it twice before I could start scanning.)  After that, scanning is going to become the habit. However, it will probably be Easter before I have the nerve to recycle all these paper receipts!

Once I get the hang of it for receipts and bills, I’m going to start scanning and sorting all my genealogy paper. The photocopies, the pictures, the citation screen shots, all are going to be scanned and sorted and filed on their own little drive. The pictures I took of my husband’s grandmother’s Bible, the copies of NASA Spinoff, and so on.

It will take a while for this to feel as natural and routine as putting the paper in the folders in the box in the secretary. But I’m determined to do it!

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Support Cyndi’s List

Cyndi’s List (www.cyndislist.com) has been fighting an  intellectual property. This site is always the first one I mention in my popular talk, “Five Favorite Free Genealogy Sites” (which, by the way, I am presenting in Foley, AL this Saturday). Cyndi has been working tirelessly on this site for over a decade and a half, and it is her livelihood. For someone to swoop in, take all her hard work and post it elsewhere for profit is beyond the pale.

Cyndi posted this on Facebook:

People are still asking how they can help me. I can’t tell you how overwhelmed I am with the generosity and kindness being shown to me. It means the world to me. There are several ways you can help:

1. Tell others about Cyndi’s List: http://www.CyndisList.com/

2. Submit new links that I don’t yet have: http://www.CyndisList.com/submit/

3. Report broken links: http://www.CyndisList.com/faqs/#part3

4. Donations are very welcome to help me pay attorney’s fees and also to defer the cost of the upgrade: http://www.CyndisList.com/donate/

5. Share Cyndi’s List online with others:
https://www.facebook.com/CyndisList

http://twitter.com/CyndisList

https://plus.google.com/107399342052902753109/posts

6. Shop online and Cyndi’s List earns commissions:
http://www.cyndislist.com/shop/

THANK YOU!!

So that is what I want my readers to do today. Strike a blow for intellectual property rights! Post about Cyndi’s List on your blog/feed/web page. Find a new link for Cyndi to add. Do all the other things she listed. Let’s help Cyndi fight this!

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