Saturday, December 21, 2013

Blog Caroling with Footnote Maven

Our dear fellow Geneablogger and all-around lovely lady, Footnote Maven (, reminded us today that it's time for her annual tradition of Blog Caroling. Blog caroling, as FM explains it, consists of choosing your favorite Christmas carol, and blogging about it, including lyrics and video.

Christmas is about tradition, so I thought I'd give this a try and join in the singing.

It just so happens that one of my very favorite Christmas carols - okay, it's more of a song than a carol, but I think FM will allow it - also carries quite a bit of tradition along with it, perhaps in a way you might not think.

For 27 years, Darlene Love has been a special guest on the Late Show with David Letterman for his last show before Christmas. Ms. Love comes with one purpose, and that is to sing "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)" to the delight of fans around the world. Darlene Love is a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, a Tony award nominee, and has an exhaustive list of musical performances as a backup singer and collaborator and lead performer in her own right.

So last night, at the age of 72 years, Ms. Love took the stage over at David Letterman's show for her 27th year.

She brought the house down.

Here is last night's performance, sung as no one else on this planet could sing it.

And the lyrics are posted below, so you can listen again and sing along.

The snow's coming down 
I'm watching it fall
Lots of people around
Baby please come home

The church bells in town
All singing in song
Full of happy sounds
Baby please come home

They're singing "Deck The Halls"
But it's not like Christmas at all
'Cause I remember when you were here
And all the fun we had last year

Pretty lights on the tree
I'm watching them shine
You should be here with me
Baby please come home

They're singing "Deck The Halls"
But it's not like Christmas at all
'Cause I remember when you were here
And all the fun we had last year

If there was a way
I'd hold back this tear
But it's Christmas day
Baby please come home

David Letterman (through his representative) was quoted by the Huffington Post saying, "It isn't Christmas without Darlene Love."(1)
I tend to agree.
Wishing all of you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! 

(1) "Darlene Love's David Letterman Appearance Kicks Off Christmas",  Includes additional links to Ms. Love's past performances as well.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Veterans Day Honor Roll

Veterans Day.

It’s the day we remember those who served, those who never came home, and those whose sacrifice saved lives, preserved a union, and freed nations.

I try to put together my own list every year of those known ancestors of mine who served, and I find that I discover more every year. It makes me proud, of course, but it also reminds me that as I research these ancestors throughout the year, so it was that they lived with their service every single day of their lives. Their memories were not put on hold and brought out just on one day a year, but every day. Perhaps because of physical injury, perhaps because of the sheer horror that remained in their psyche, they lived with those experiences. It makes me wonder who are we to relegate their bravery, their steadfastness, their patriotism, to just one day.

Every day should be Veterans Day, because as I see it, we owe them nothing less.

And now, my personal Roll of Honor as I know it to be (there are more, I am certain).
Thank you, all, for the sacrifices you and your families made.

*Thomas Wells, Massachusetts, Member of the Ancient and Honorable Artillery of Massachusetts
*Jonathan Massey, Revolutionary War minuteman, Salem, New Hampshire
*Capt. Philemon Waters, Revolutionary War, Virginia
*Edward Askins, Revolutionary War, Virginia
*James Officer, Revolutionary War, Virginia
*Major George Bruton, Revolutionary War, Virginia/South Carolina
*Walter Wake, Civil War, Union, Company C, 20th Illinois, wounded at the Battle of Shiloh
Robert Carter, Civil War, Union, killed in Georgia during Sherman’s March
*Andrew Lawson, Civil War, Union
*John Robert Mawson, Civil War, Union
*James Zook, Civil War, Union
*John D. Alexander, Civil War, Union, 8th KS and 8th Wisc. Battery
Ralph John Carter, WWII, killed in action, buried in The Netherlands National Cemetery
Robert Reeve, WWII, Iwo Jima
Major Frank Reeve, WWII, Iwo Jima

*denotes a direct ancestor

Thursday, September 19, 2013

The Book of Me - Week #2

I am participating in Julie Goucher's activity:

Week #2 - Your Birth

Do you have any baby photos?
Where were you born?
Who was present at your birth?
What day was it? Time?
Did you have hair? Eye colour
Are you a twin?

All of my birth information is packed away either in my closet or at my mother's, so I can't be very exact right now. Here's what I can recall. 

I was born in Jacksonville, Illinois, at Our Savior's Hospital at around 7:30 in the evening, apparently during a thunderstorm (that part always makes me giggle a bit). I weighed 8 pounds and some-odd ounces and had a head full of hair and big brown eyes. I was quite roly-poly as I remember from looking at my baby photos. 

The thing that stands out about my birth was not so much the event itself, but what happened once I got here, according to what my paternal grandmother always told me. 

My father was still in college when I was born, and as an English major, he was taking his share of writing courses. I don't know the name of the class or the specific assignment, but the timing was such that he wrote an essay - about me. Me, the first time he held me, the amazement he felt at my arrival and my being, the feelings he had about how scared he was that I might break if he didn't hold me just the right way. All of his emotions apparently came flooding out in this paper he wrote for a class. 

Oh. He got an A+. 

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

The Book of Me - Prompt #1: Who Am I?

Often when we research our ancestors, we forget to preserve our own memories. Some Geneabloggers are trying a new writing prompt series from Julie Boucher at her Anglers Rest blog entitled "The Book of Me, Written by You", about how you view "you", or in this case, how I view me. 
  • I am Kellie, not spelled with a "y".
  • I am a mother, a daughter, a sister, a cousin.
  • I am a wife, and I'm happy about that. 
  • I love my cat, Chloe.
  • I have the most awesome daughter on the face of the planet. 
  • I'm not biased. 
  • I love history, and particularly appreciate living in the midst of it.
  • I love genealogy to the point of obsession. 
  • I consider myself to be a professional, but I will never stop learning.
  • I enjoy helping others. 
  • I am strong-willed and determined (never stubborn *wink*)
  • I am a good friend to have around. 
  • I can be a perfectionist about some things, and a total mess about others. 
  • I take naps, and I have no guilt about that.
  • I love football and hockey. 
  • I go crazy over flowers, vintage jewelry, and old "girlie" things. I don't know why.
  • I refuse to let a day pass without at least one giggle, and preferably, a belly-laugh or two. 
  • I love music. It soothes my soul.
  • I live with MS. I don't let it define me, but it does change my routine at times (see naps, above). 
  • I am a softie and will cry at any movie or show that is the least bit heartwarming. 
  • I am thankful for every single day.
  • Really, about that bias thing...(see daughter, above)
  • This "exercise" was a bit more difficult for me to write than I anticipated. 
You don't have to be a blogger to do this little activity, and I must admit, it was interesting. Give it a try!! 


Saturday, August 17, 2013

Andy, York, and Tellie

I was excited tonight to confirm another ancestor who fought during the period of the Revolutionary War. I'm proud of my patriotic ancestors, and am continually amazed at men who "guarded the frontier" during such an uneasy time in our newly-formed collection of states. I say that because I firmly believe that we were not aware as colonial America that we "were": a country until after the Civil War, when the concept of the preservation of the Union was solidified. But that's another blog...

I was gathering some data online about this ancestor who hailed from Spartanburg, South Carolina, and I noticed he was a slave-owner. He is not the first of my ancestors to have owned slaves, so I continued on and didn't really think much about it.

I had found a couple of possible collateral relatives to this veteran, and if you have ever used collateral research in your genealogy, you know how important those other relatives can become. If you haven't used collateral research in your family tree, it's 20 lashes with a wet noodle to you, and we need to talk.

So I searched a cemetery just to see the burials with my veteran's surname contained therein. I found a couple of possible connections that I need to look at further, but that's not what really caught my eye.

I came upon York and Tellie (my ancestor's surname).

York and Tellie were an African-American couple. York was born in Spartanburg in 1842. No one apparently knew when Tellie was born, nor when she died. York's father has no burial in the cemetery, but his name was Andy, according to additional information listed.

They have my ancestor's surname. Andy too.

I realized that I had possibly come across the slaves of my ancestors, or at minimum, their direct descendants. That's never happened to me before.

In previous research, slaves owned by one of my family lines were mentioned usually in wills, first name only, and just listed like all of the rest of the property being distributed in those types of documents. I've yet to look for any more information on them, and I chalked it up to colonial Southern life. There was a certain neutrality in those first-name-only people I had seen listed.

Seeing York and Tellie and Andy tonight was different. They have our name, and carried our name through the present day long enough for their grandson (in the case of Andy, his great-grandson) to purchase proper cemetery markers for them in the same cemetery where they rest with other members of my family.

I'm still processing this as I write. But to Andy and York and Tellie...I'm glad to have met you.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Insomnia and the Genealogist, or What Kept Me Up Last Night

I can be an insomniac at times and I'm used to it. That's generally when I read, or play a mindless game on my phone until I can finally slip into the comfort of sleep.

I slept 2 whole hours last night. Twice I thought about getting out of bed and jumping on the computer, but since our cat, Chloe, was contentedly ensconced next to me, I thought better of that and just tried to drift off.

Instead, I managed only to think more, and more, about what my newest research had uncovered and how it was that I could unravel the myriad of mysteries within.

Here's some of what I thought about:

  • A 29-year-old man leaving his wife and 3 young children to go off to fight in the Civil War. 
  • Dying of smallpox in Cahaba Prison, Alabama after being captured during a fierce battle at Pleasant Hill, Louisiana. 
  • Existing at all after being captured and living at Cahaba. Just being there. 
  • Having 2 children born during the war, a son in 1862 and a daughter in 1865. Never seeing the daughter at all, and perhaps not even knowing she existed. 
  • Wondering how this couple managed to have 2 children during the war to begin with, given that the father was with the Army of the Mississippi and a little far from home. . 
  • The conduct it takes to rank up from private to 2nd lieutenant during a war. Perhaps there was more to this man than literacy. 
  • Why a family moved from Missouri to Illinois at the start of the war. 
  • Why the wife ended up marrying 4 more times after the loss of her husband, and what happened to her children. How did the loss of their father affect them, or were they too young to understand. 

The answers to these questions will undoubtedly lead to more questions, too.

I don't know about you, but this is enough to keep me awake for days. My mind has adopted this family and this Union solder buried now in Marietta, Georgia, and I cannot rest until I figuratively breathe the life back into them.

Have you ever had the same feeling about an ancestor you've discovered? Have you been bitten by the insomnia bug and become so doggedly determined about an ancestor that you cannot sleep? How did your sleep-deprived experience turn out?

Some people would call it being a bit obsessive. Others would just call it genealogy.

Some of those questions may never be answered, but I owe this man something for what he did in sacrificing his little family and his life to join the Union cause, and bringing his story to light is my goal.

It's the most, and the least I can do.

After I grab a quick nap.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

On Sharing, Hoarding,and Ethical Genealogy

Much has been written lately about sharing, plagiarism and ethics in the genealogical community wherein we all reside and interact. It's a great community, and a generous, healthy spot in our world where we feel safe to address the trials and tribulations of our genealogical obsession. However, the fact that we are having the discussion, and that the issue has affected major icons as well as the everyday genealogist, has caused some to consider locking their doors at night and cast wary glances at their neighbors as they walk along the sidewalk.

I'm no expert on plagiarism (I will leave it to others more expert than I to continue to address this specific topic), nor do I pretend that my ethics are perfect, but my own experience tells me that our community has become increasingly lax on these issues. I find it ironic that as we strive to provide more guidance, more instruction, and more access not only to genealogical information but to genealogical standards, we find more and more reluctance on the part of some to be cognizant of any ethical mindset. 

We all know, or should know, a few things about sharing and ethics and genealogy in general.

Our genealogy is never "done".
Therefore, it only makes sense to cite our sources of information so that those who come after us know where we've been and why. They may want to take a trip there in person to see for themselves.

We don't "own" facts.
My 5th-great-grandfather, Huram Reeve, was born on May 10, 1806, in Wilkes Co., North Carolina. The only reason I give you that fact is that Huram said so - not to me personally, but to various others who interviewed him. Huram was quite a fellow, as it turns out, and loved to talk about the old days in frontier Illinois. I don't "own" his birth date, however. It is a fact, and anyone interested in Huram is free to use that date as his birth date from any publication of mine.

I use Huram as an example because things began to get more interesting over the years with his information and his likeness.

Photographs can become a sticky wicket and libraries lose books.
There is one known photograph of Huram. As far as I can tell, I'm the only person in the last 80-some years to have found it. I found it by accident in a very old book in a little-accessed corner at the Jacksonville (IL) Public Library about 20 years ago. That book contained photographs of some of the earliest settlers in Morgan County, and on a whim, I looked to see if it might contain one of my ancestors. There, I found a photo of Huram AND his father, Isaac. The special collections librarian assisted me in making a photocopy of these 2 images, as I did not want to harm this old scrapbook by trying to do this myself. I was beyond delighted to have these photocopies and showed them to practically anyone who would stop long enough to look at them. I was so proud of them that I contributed an upload of the 2 photos to an area RootsWeb site. I graciously received photo credit for the uploads on the website, without requesting it, and thought nothing more about it until I went back to the library in Jacksonville to look for more pioneer ancestor photographs (and to obtain a proper source citation for the book), only to discover that the book has disappeared and no one at the library knows what happened to it. 

Credit where credit is due. Always. That goes for what I've done and where I've done it. 
Huram's grandson, John, became a prominent member of Jacksonville also. My cousin and his mother (my great-aunt) had some photos of John and his family, and 2 family photos were taken and copies were made for anyone in the family who wished to have them. This was around the time of the Bicentennial when everyone was doing family history research. I don't know how much it cost to obtain copies of these photos, but I would venture to say it was quite a bit more than it would be today. Being proud of my ancestry, I uploaded these 2 photos to the same website where I had uploaded Huram and his father's photos. Again, I received photo credit without even asking. I then merrily skipped along the sidewalk of the genealogical community, happy that I could have such wonderful photos to share. I also knew the provenance of the original photographs, who made the copies, and how I came into possession of them, all things necessary when using photographs to support your genealogical house.  

Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago.

I will never post my family tree on I will only post to a controlled and linked website. 
I'm on checking some census data for a client. I use Ancestry often, and it's well worth the price of admission. Remembering my ties to the state my client's family is from, I paused my attention span and looked for my family in that area. And to what did my wandering eyes should appear (sincerest apologies to Clement Moore) but my 4 photographs on about a dozen family trees. Family trees done by persons I do not know. Family trees with incorrect information (about Huram and Isaac and others). Family trees with no sources. No sources, no photo credit, nothing.

Not only were these photos, 2 of which I pretty much "found" and 2 of which were literally and physically "mine", posted without my name being attached to them at some point, but credit was not even given to the RootsWeb site where the photos were obtained. They have never been published to by me.

I'm not a hoarder.
To say that I was livid is probably an understatement. My husband has requested permission to share his views on my level of lividity here, but he will have to start his own blog.

I have shared tons of information over the last 25 years with other researchers from different lines of my family. Most of it was good, solid information, and I admit, a smidgen of conjecture that I have since corrected as my skills have improved. A lot of it arrived via the postal service and may still not be found online. A lot of it came straight from courthouses and libraries because no one had a computer back then. I have met new cousins, online and in person as a result. I consider my own life to have been enriched by knowing where I came from. I cherish the good and the bad (shout out to my Black Sheep). I have volunteered photos, transcribed and read cemeteries, and have gotten lost several times within 25 miles of my own home in the process. I love my ancestral heritage.

This last revelation about my photographs, plus the latest ethical upheaval in the genealogical community, has really given me pause. Frankly, it's almost enough to make a person consider hoarding their information, if only momentarily. Of course, I won't, and I'm actively cleaning up my genealogy as I write this (boy, do I have a blog post about that subject). As I clean it up for proper publication, it will be "out there" for future researchers, and my daughter, hopefully forever. Remodeling my genealogical house is taking a lot of effort and time, but hey, I don't want to be the ugly house on my genealogical street. It will also be correct to the best of my ability, sourced properly, and with added historical context to fully develop who my ancestors were. Chances are, every photograph will be watermarked, too.

Be polite and ask first. When in doubt, give a shout-out. 
I have found that it does not take a lot of my time to ask another researcher if I might use a document or a photograph. Really cool things happen when you do that. You meet a distant cousin, most likely, or someone who shares the same interests. More likely than not, more sharing ensues, too. You've met another neighbor here in the community that lives a little further down the street.

What about those people who don't respond to your inquiry? What about those distant cousins who provided you their family group sheets back in 1981 and have passed away? What do you do about that information, you ask? You acknowledge it. Giving cousin Betty credit, either as a source or even just as a mention in your side notes is the proper thing to do. Most of us didn't get this far without help from others, and they should be given their due - each and every one of them, automatically without their having to ask for it, and whether they are living or dead. 

Common courtesy and common sense
For most of us, all of this boils down to common courtesy and common sense. Sometimes I feel like the crabby old lady, shaking her cane at the kids and telling them to stay off my lawn, but that's not really who I am. I welcome anyone to visit my genealogical house. All I ask is that you come equipped with some common courtesy and common sense. We'll have a great time relaxing on the front porch, telling old ancestor stories, sharing conclusions, and sipping some sweet tea.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Fabulous Friday - A Fabulous Find - Finally!

It seems like eons ago, but before my health and life intervened and stomped upon my genealogical pursuits, I had told you about my mysterious great-grandfather and BlackSheep ancestor, Arthur B. Alexander, who disappeared back in 1927, leaving his wife and two daughters in Hobart, Oklahoma. I had always taken Arthur’s disappearance in stride since his mother, Lucy Zook Alexander, had also eluded my grasp for many years. I was beginning to attribute the entire lineage to genetics in a wanderlust sort of way.

Not anymore. I found Lucy!

I celebrate this Fabulous Friday post with sheer joy and yes, a bit of rapture, at this new development. I’ve found people with accompanying documentation back in the 1630s before. How I could not have found my own great-great grandmother was just plain silly. Sheepishly, I admit that I had given up finding her. However, I had forgotten two very important tenets of genealogy

1.  There IS a reason it’s called REsearch. Another blogger said this in a post I read recently, and it’s a huge, huge reminder of why we do what we do. It’s particularly applicable to those of us from the snail mail days, the dial-up modem racing to Compuserve era, and the countless backroom favors granted by the friendly county clerk brigades. This grand experience of tracing our family history has come so far, and changes faster than my teenager’s moods. So much information is “out there” now, and we must not forget to check again – and again – and again – to re-research those ancestors and brick walls we have put aside for another day. I had done this with my Lucy, wondering if I would ever find out what happened to her.

     2.   Let your ancestors speak to you. I don’t necessarily mean in a creepy, horror movie kind of way, although I have heard some interesting “coincidences” over the years. Recording old family stories may not just be for the preservation of the interviewed and cherised relative, but it may lead you directly to the information you seek. We’ve all heard about the “three immigrant brothers”, the “Cherokee Indian blood” we might have, and countless other genealogical myths. I’ve been fortunate to have communicated with relatives well into their 80s and 90s who have not only shared information and answered many of my questions, but have done so with uncanny accuracy. Not all of our elders are capable of this, but apparently mine were. Still, I have always taken their “reminiscences” with a heavy grain of salt, at least until I have the certified document to prove it.

Lucy’s grand-niece, or Aunt Eva, as I have always called her, told me time and time again in our many letters back and forth that Lucy was buried in LaHarpe in Hancock County, Illinois. Lucy’s other niece told my cousin during a personal visit that Lucy was buried near Augusta, Illinois, also in Hancock County. I could find no information online to verify either one of these ladies’ stories, and had yet to travel to Hancock County personally to try to obtain any record of Lucy’s death. It was partly due to not knowing when Lucy had died, or if she had died at all or had been involved in a divorce. I had only been able to pinpoint a time period of between 1900 (after the census was taken) and 1907 when Lucy’s husband, Charles, was married again and living in Oklahoma. Lucy had disappeared sometime during that seven-year period. Seven years can be a very long time in genealogical terms, and I couldn’t make a case one way or another. Yet it stuck in my head that both of these ladies repeated the information they remembered. 

On a break the other night from doing a little client work, and I thought of Lucy again.

You also might have heard my squeals of delight when I came upon this item shortly thereafter:

Several page rotations, neck stretches, and 104 pages later, I found Lucy Alexander – listed along with her mother, Louisiana Mick Zook, in a cemetery plot owned by Charles Alexander. My cousin, Mary Elizabeth, was sweet enough to travel to Pulaski Cemetery and take these photos the next day, and sent them on so they could be posted online. 

There was my long-lost Lucy, right where those ladies said she would be. 

So, remember to RE-search, and then research some more. And listen to your ancestors. They just might be trying to tell you something...fabulous.