Archive for February, 2009
I’m named after my great-great-Aunt Libby. My Cousin Kitty sent me this history of her: Hannah Decker West was the mother of Eva Luella Colburn, the mother of our grandmother Dora Luella Miner Spencer.
Hannah West’s mother was Dutch and didn’t speak English. Hannah’s first marriage was to Mr. Tyler and they lived in New York, near New York City, and they were quite prosperous, even affluent. They had two children: James and Elizabeth (Libby).Mr. Tyler died young and Hannah married Mr. Colburn. The Colburns had four children: Talmadge, Gertrude, Dora, and Eva Luella (our great grandmother). She was called Ella.< Hannah was not happy with Colburn. He went through a lot of their money. He went out west and was never heard from again. It was rumored he might have been massacred by the Indians in North Dakota. Libby taught school in New York.
Jimmy planted pear trees in what would now be Central Park, but they moved before he could see them at maturity.
The family moved to Shebance, Illinois (south of Kankakee) (Don’t know why they moved.) Hannah said the water was terrible there and she and her girls would just have to drink tea. Libby also taught there. She played the organ at the Kankakee Episcopal Church, so everyone started going there except her mother who was a “foot washing” Baptist. Later Dora became a Christian Scientist. They didn’t believe in medicine, but Ella said, “Well she uses Vick’s salve.”
Eva Luella Colburn and Judson David Miner met in Shebanse and probably married in the Kankakee Episcopal Church. (Later, they went to St. Luke’s in Ridgeland which is no longer there.) They went to Portland, Oregon, where their son Enos was born. Ella loved it and called it the “garden spot of the world.” However, they had to go back to Illinois because Judson’s mother was ill and his brother, Peter, had died. Peter died during the Civil War of yellow fever and is buried in Mississippi. After the death of Judson’s mother (Catheren Lavinia Ackley Miner), they moved to North Dakota and farmed. It was so cold, they had to tie a rope from the house to the barn and bang on pans, so they could get back during the blizzards. Ella got pregnant with Dora Luella (Mimmie) and they moved back to Illinois. Ella said she would never spend another winter in that place. They moved to Ridgeland in 1898. Mimmie was eight. Aunt Dora married Ezra Brown and they also moved to Ridgeland. Aunt Libby also moved there and had her own home. She had been in love, but her boyfriend said she was so delicate she should never marry as she would probably die in childbirth. She somehow had money and married a Dr. Develling when she was “past middle age” as Ella said. Ella also said Libby would never have married him if he hadn’t hypnotized her. It seems he was a scoundrel and when Mimmie was about 18, she (Aunt Libby) told her to “never marry; you can never trust a man.” “Don’t believe a thing he tells you.”
Ella and Jud had a tuning fork in North Dakota and would entertain themselves by singing hymns. When they lived in Ridgeland they formed a quartet with Eugene and Mary Sykes. They put on programs and plays for the community.
As you probably know, Judson David Miner was Mayor of Ridgeland and lived and had a store on Jackson Street. He also kept the vital statistics for the town. During the Depression, he forgave debts of people who owed him money and ended up giving away everything in the store.
This is inspired by the Weekly Genealogy Blog Prompt #5, though it took me a few days to sort through all the trips Mother and I made for genealogy to pick one to start with.
So I finally decided to start with the first one….This was long before the Internet, even the old BBS systems like FIDOnet and Prodigy. I was 15, it was 1970 and my family took a camping trip from Alabama to California and back over six weeks of the summer. Along the way was Kansas, where mother’s ancestor Orsemus H. SPENCER homesteaded and lived quite a bit of his life. He was born 26 on 27 Mar 1836 in Venice, Erie, Ohio. He was christened in Ohio. He died on 21 Jul 1896 in Monitor, McPherson, Kansas. He married Esther A TREE on 22 Jan 1856 in Indiana.
This much Mother had gleaned from library research, letter writing, queries in the Genealogical Helper, and talking to older relatives. She had found an old, old photo of him on the homestead in Kansas in the attic of her childhood home when her father died about six years before, and a published biography in one of those old “Town Fathers” books. But when she wrote to McPherson, KS for information all she got back was a terse, “Never heard of him” from the county clerk.
So, she insisted, as we were going through Kansas anyway, we had to stop at the “Biggest Little Town in Kansas”, look in the library and the courthouse to see what we could find, and at least go to the site of the old homestead to get a picture imitating the one she had.
Turned out the town had a nice campground, and the homestead site was easy to find (the resulting photograph is still in storage up in Huntsville. If I ever get my hands on it, I’ll post it here.) So, finally it was time to traipse to the courthouse, and try to go through the old records to see what we could find on old Orsemus.
And as we walked into the lobby of the courthouse, there on the wall was his portrait, with a small plaque explaining he had been one of the first state senators in the Kansas Legislature. The clerk who had dismissed Mother’s query so tersely saw that picture every single day!
She had a few polite words with the person working the records desk, and soon we were knee deep in deed, tax and probate records! Mother was like a kid on Christmas morning.
I wandered the Internet this morning in search of genealogy related quotations. Here are a few I considered worth sharing:
GENEALOGY, n. An account of one’s descent from an ancestor who did not particularly care to trace his own. Ambrose Bierce (1842 – 1914), The Devil’s Dictionary
Genealogy is based on the obviously silly idea that there is no such thing as a bastard. Nicolas Martin, Article c. 1995
Southerners are so devoted to genealogy that we see a family tree under every bush. Florence King (b. 1936), US. humorist, essayist, social critic. From her “Uncollected Articles, 1992-1993” _DQ.
“Neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies.” Bible quotes
Genealogy is not fatal, but it is a grave disease.
Genealogists never die, they just lose their census!
Whenever there’s a will, you’ll see an heir loom.
Every man serves a useful purpose: A miser, for example, makes a wonderful ancestor. Laurence J. Peter (1919 – 1988)
Humans are not proud of their ancestors, and rarely invite them round to dinner. Douglas Adams (1952 – 2001)
Results from Laura Moncur’s Motivational Quotations:
It is certainly desirable to be well descended, but the glory belongs to our ancestors. Plutarch (46 AD – 120 AD), ‘Morals,’ 100 A.D.
We inherit from our ancestors gifts so often taken for granted… Each of us contains within… this inheritance of soul. We are links between the ages, containing past and present expectations, sacred memories and future promise. Edward Sellner
Results from Classic Quotes:
Men can know more than their ancestors did if they start with a knowledge of what their ancestors had already learned….That is why a society can be progressive only if it conserves its traditions. Walter Lippmann (1889 – 1974)
There is no king who has not had a slave among his ancestors, and no slave who has not had a king among his. Helen Keller (1880 – 1968)
Tradition means giving votes to the most obscure of all classes, our ancestors. It is the democracy of the dead. Tradition refuses to submit to the small and arrogant oligarchy of those who merely happen to be walking about. G. K. Chesterton (1874 – 1936), Orthodoxy
There is no escape – we pay for the violence of our ancestors. Frank Herbert (1920 – 1986)
What our ancestors would really be thinking, if they were alive today, is: “Why is it so dark in here?” Terry Pratchett, Pyramids
Results from Rand Lindsly’s Quotations:
Gentility is what is left over from rich ancestors after the money is gone. John Ciardi (1916 – 1986)
Pepsi brings your ancestors back from the grave. — ad slogan ‘Pepsi Comes Alive’ as initially translated into Chinese
Results from Poor Man’s College:
Some families can trace their ancestors back three hundred years, but can’t tell you where their children were last night. Author Unknown
Volunteers Rally to Bring Last National Census Online
1875 Norway Census Transcription Initiative Is Underway
SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH—FamilySearch International, the University of Tromsø, and DIS-Norge announced today a joint initiative to transcribe the 1875 Norway Census for free online access. It is the only Norway census that has not been indexed and the first to be tackled as a global, Internet-based effort. Volunteers who can read Norwegian are being sought to complete the project at www.familysearch.org. (Go to FamilySearch.org, then click Index Records, and then click Volunteer.)
FamilySearch International is the largest genealogy organization in the world. Millions of people use FamilySearch records, resources, and services to learn more about their family history. To help in this great pursuit, FamilySearch has been actively gathering, preserving, and sharing genealogical records worldwide for over 100 years. FamilySearch is a nonprofit organization sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Patrons may access FamilySearch services and resources free online at FamilySearch.org or through over 4,500 family history centers in 70 countries, including the main Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah.
The 1875 Norway Census is valuable to researchers because it was the last national census taken just before the great Norwegian immigration period that started in 1878. Researchers will not have to wait much longer for convenient, online access to the historic census. FamilySearch digitized the census images and is using its Web-based transcription tool and volunteers to create the automated index. The University of Tromsø and DIS-Norge are sponsoring the project, but many more online volunteers are needed to transcribe the 1.6 million individuals found in the tens of thousands of census sheets.
Although FamilySearch has done other major international indexing projects, this is the first one for Norway. “The biggest challenge is the Norwegian handwriting and names,” said Jeff Svare, collection management specialist. “Most of FamilySearch’s current volunteers are not skilled at reading Norwegian names or handwriting. Native Norwegian volunteers would be much more effective and efficient at transcribing the required information from the census sheets,” concluded Svare.
Volunteering is simple. Volunteers with Internet access register online at FamilySearchIndexing.org. Once you have downloaded the transcription software, there is an optional, but very helpful, tutorial. They then select the Norway 1875 Census project, and a digital image of a census page will appear. The volunteers then enter the highlighted information they see on their computer screen. That information is saved and compiled online in an index that will be made freely available to the public. Each batch should take about 30 minutes.
Indexers do not need to worry about their skill level at reading censuses. Each census page is transcribed by two different indexers. Any discrepancies between the two entries will be arbitrated by a third indexer. The result is a highly accurate, free index of tremendous value to family history enthusiasts. The more online volunteers that help, the quicker the free census index will be available online for all to enjoy and benefit from.
There are other hidden benefits to volunteering. Volunteers become familiar with historical documents, the valuable stories they can conceal, and their usefulness and application to genealogical research.
The FamilySearch Records Access program has already generated over 500 million names and images through its volunteer initiatives. The collections can be searched for free at FamilySearch.org. (Go to FamilySearch.org, then click Search Records, and then click Record Search pilot.)
Gunnar Thorvaldson, professor of history and manager of research for the Norwegian Historical Data Centre at the University of Tromsø, said, “The University welcomes the cooperation with the FamilySearch Center to extend our sample of computerized entries from the 1875 census for Norway. This will significantly increase the potential use of the first high quality Norwegian census both in statistical and ancestry-related research.”
“We are happy to be able to assist FamilySearch in indexing the 1875 Norway Census,” said Torill Johnsen, president of DIS-Norge. “Lots of important genealogical information has limited access because it is still only available on paper in archives and libraries. Online access to those reliable sources makes it available for genealogists from their own computer when they want it. Active involvement from volunteers will hasten the completion of the 1875 Norway Census and increase the number of digitally accessible sources,” added Johnsen.
FamilySearch manages the largest collection of genealogical records worldwide. In 2007 it announced plans to begin digitizing and indexing its collection for broader, more economic online access—starting with popular collections like the U.S., Canada, and U.K. censuses. FamilySearch has created free online indexes to date for the 1850, 1860, 1870, 1880, and 1900 U.S. Censuses. FamilySearch is working with The Generations Network to provide enhanced, free indexes for the remaining U.S. censuses.
Today is a ”cross-quarter” day in the solar calendar, a term for the days that fall exactly between a solstice and an equinox. It means we’re halfway through winter, and Australia is halfway through summer.
In Christian tradition, February 2nd is Candlemas Day, or the Feast of the Presentation of Christ at the Temple, 40 days after Christmas. It is this Bible story that gives us the Nunc Dimittis, which is one of my favorite canticles. I always wondered why there’s no canticle for the Prophetess Anna, but that’s musing for another day.
Many cultures celebrate the cross-quarter days. For example, today is Imbolc, the Celtic celebration of Brigit, the goddess of fire, poetry, healing, and childbirth. Traditional rhymes about this cross-quarter are like this English saying:
If Candlemas day be fair and bright,
Winter will have another flight.
But if Candlemas day bring clouds and rain,
Winter is gone and won’t come again.
Other traditions concern the emergence of animals from their winter dens and omens that predict the season ahead. The German tradition of looking for a badger on this cross-quarter day morphed into our Groundhog Day (there being many more groundhogs than badgers in New England). I have no proof, but I suppose that’s because if the animals thought the weather was going to get warmer, they’d come out looking for food.
Does your family have any Groundhog Day traditions? Record them: write them down, make a video, interview an elder relative and record it, or leave them here as a comment!