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Archive for June, 2008

I am uploading new and updated information on my website: All My Branches .  To see what’s new, please click on the “What’s New Since Your Last Visit”.  All of the updates are on the Amore family.  There are new names, a new page with information on Georgia Anna Amore, Beatrice Pearl Amore, and Florence May Amore, plus updates on several previous family members.

 

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I started updating my genealogy website – All My Branches – yesterday. I have located documented facts for folks that I hadn’t listed yet. Nothing is online yet but I will let you know when I have them up. I’m also hoping to include new obituaries and photos.
Do you have a genealogy website – as well as your blog – that you update? How frequently are you able to do that? Has your website, or your blog, brought new family members into your life?
I’m always amazed when I receive an email from someone who is related to me. What’s even more wonderful is the maintaining of that new relationship. I’ve had a cousin who is descended from my great-grandfather’s half-sister send me information and stories; others who I’ve traded information and family history information with; another cousin related to me through my maternal great-grandmother’s brother send me scans of Bible records, pictures and family stories; and much more!
My family tends to think of me as the “family historian” or the person who “keeps” all that stuff. Unfortunately, one of the items I’d love to get my hands on and scan is my dad’s family scrapbook. My cousin – who I haven’t seen since 1971 – has it and she’s not giving it up any time soon. She also hasn’t been on good terms with anyone for at least 20 years no matter how much we all reach out to her. My fear is that sooner or later one of her children will end up with the scrapbook and either not care for it properly or dismantle it to get the pictures and no one else will see it intact.
Do you know what treasures are in the possession of your cousins and out-lying family members? Did you hear about the genealogical treasure trove that was found in the attic of a Maryland home recently? I think if that were me several things would happen:

  1. It would be a combination of Christmas, my birthday, Mother’s Day, Thanksgiving, and Easter all rolled into one!
  2. My family would have to drag me kicking and screaming from the treasure because letting me near it would mean they wouldn’t see me for a long time and I would take forever trying to figure out what to do with any of it!
  3. I wouldn’t be publicizing the fact that I had all of that until I knew exactly what I had!
  4. I probably wouldn’t know where to start or what to part with!

See, I don’t play the “if I won the lottery” game, I play the “what would happen if a windfall of genealogical documents and artifacts came into my possession” game!  How about you? 

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Unusual Photos

While combing through a treasure trove of photos, did you come across some pictures that seem odd or unusual?  Or possibly many pictures through the years of some odd tradition your family has?  As mentioned in my post Stop and Smell the Flowers my dad took a lot of pictures of flowers.  My grandfather took a lot of pictures of men in his service unit and barracks that he lived in.  Those in themselves don’t seem so odd – however – the one thing my family thinks is quite amusing is to take pictures of other people taking pictures!  Whenever we are all together, someone always tries to get a shot of someone else with their camera.  It has become one of those odd “traditions” that we are still following and it has even trickled down to my children!  At one family gathering a year ago someone took a picture of two people taking pictures of each other – that is how silly we get.  So in honor of our weird “Photos of Photographers”, I thought I’d share.

  

 

What do your photos depict?  Do you have a relative who takes pictures of houses?  People’s feet?  Street Signs?  Weather?  Have you wondered how certain photography traditions started? 

 

Pictures:
1. Dad taking a picture of a statuette
2. Dad taking a picture of my cousin and me
3. Dad taking a picture of his sunglasses on the table (I do have the picture of the sunglasses, too!)
4. I took a picture of two of my girls taking a picture of each other!

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Yesterday I spent a few hours scanning letters that my grandparents wrote to my parents while my grandparents were stationed in Wiesbaden, Germany.  It has been several years since I read them so it was a chance for me to re-read while I was scanning.  I try not to handle these pages from the early 1950s very much in a way to keep them from picking up too much acidic content.  When I received them from my mom, they had been placed in a large manilla folder and kept in her basement.  To be clear, my mom’s basement is finished and air conditioned so they haven’t been in damp, musty or too hot conditions.  All of them are still readable and intact which is rare since most of them were handwritten or typed on very thin onion skin paper.  Remember, they were being sent from Germany to the United States so to pack a lot of pages into one envelope for the regular price of a stamp, they used very thin paper.

My grandparents wrote letters at least once or twice a week and they were in Germany for three years so I have many – MANY – letters to scan.  And that’s just of the Germany letters.  There are also letters they wrote to my parents when my parents were stationed in Japan twice.  Letters my grandfather and grandmother wrote to each other while they were courting, when my grandfather entered military training after they were married, when my grandfather went to France during WWI, and letters from my grandmother’s siblings and mother to her.

Here are some excerpts from the Letters from Germany.

 

Most of the letters are little more than reciting the more mundane chores of daily life or the functions that my grandparents attended.  For genealogical purposes, they provide a window into their lives that I wouldn’t have if not for these letters. My grandparents also took several weekend trips into other regions or countries during their time in Europe.  My grandfather took my grandmother to the area he was in during WWI in France and showed her spots she had only read about in his letters.  My grandmother saw what was left of some of the concentration camps from WWII.  They went to Holland and saw windmills and tulips.  They shopped in Garmisch. One thing that was always consistent in the letters they wrote from Germany: they missed their children and grandchildren terribly.  No matter where the military sent them, their hearts were always wherever their family was.

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Please check out the 50th Carnival of Genealogy – Family Pets hosted by Bill West (West in New England).  There are 29 authors and 30 stories about pets we or our ancestors owned.  And when you visit each post, please make sure you leave a comment so that the authors know you visited and how much you enjoyed reading the stories. 

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This is the only picture I have of both of my grandmothers together and not with anyone else.  The lady on the left is my maternal grandmother, Vesta Christina Wilt Johnson.  I knew her as Nana.  Grandma Amore (Ella Marie House) passed away fifteen years before I was born.  In fact I don’t even know if that’s what her other grandchildren called her.  In our house she was referred to as Mom Amore (by my mother).  It seems odd that I think of her as “Ella” or as my dad’s mom instead of as my grandmother.

They are together in this picture because they both were in Montana to see my parents while my Mom was pregnant with my sister.  Apparently my grandfather, Lloyd Amore, didn’t want to fly out there.

Nana lived until I was 22 so I knew her very well.  I never remembered that she was that tall though; probably due to her osteoarthritis as her age advanced and she seemed “shorter”.  She always had a smile on her face – even through her many hospitalizations later on.  Nana always had a stash of kid friendly candy and cookies.  She was a good cook and had sewn quite a bit.  Since she and my grandfather had lived in many different places and she had traveled extensively, their home was decorated with beautiful artwork and figurines.  She had a prized Hummel collection that I loved to look at.  Nana always thought the best about people.  She tried to find that one small thing within each person that made them unique and special.  She loved all her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren the same – yet she loved each of us as if we were the only one.  One of the best gifts she ever gave me was the knowledge that no matter what I did, where I went or who I became, she would always love me unconditionally.  At a time in my teenage years when nothing could go right and I was always doing something wrong, that knowledge kept me from going over the deep end.  She only got to meet one of my children and saw a picture of my second daughter days before she died.  Yet I know that she is my guardian angel and is looking down on me and my family.  I don’t know how she’d feel about me reading the love letters she wrote to my grandfather before they were married, but somehow I think she’d get a twinkle in her eye and tell me that she had to maintain some type of mystery – even from her children and grandchildren – about what a passionate woman she was.  Nana didn’t have to lecture.  She taught by example and by her love.  And for that I will always be grateful.

Grandma Amore is more than a woman of mystery since I never met her or felt her grandmother’s love.  My dad thought the world of his mother and I think, as her “baby”, she probably spoiled him a little.  I wish I could find a colored picture of her because I’ve been told her hair was auburn.  My cousins (much older than me) have never really told me any stories about our grandmother for me to form any sort of opinion.  I guess I don’t feel her loss because she was never a part of my life.  I often wonder what was going through her mind when she learned she had breast cancer.  I also wonder that if the technology of today was around in the 1940’s if it could have saved her life.  Would her survival have changed the course of my father’s life?  Would it have impacted mine in a more dramatic way? 

I’m just glad that with this picture, there is a snapshot of my grandmother’s together.  That even though I only grew up knowing one, I still had two.  Possibly Ella’s been looking down on me as well.

Thank you, Nana and thank you, Grandma Amore, for the legacies you’ve left through your children and all those family members who knew you.

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A bit late in the evening but I wanted to post a bit about Father’s Day.  There have been several influential men – father figures – in my life.  None more so than my Dad.  He has led a pretty great life and has seen the world and technology change.  Dad was the youngest of seven and grew up in Coshocton, Ohio.  Soon after he graduated from high school, he enlisted in the Armed Forces and was in the Army Air Corps (later the Air Force) until 1960.  He worked Civil Service on the Air Force Base for many years after.  He’s lived in Iceland when he was in training, Ohio, Florida, Montana, Wisconsin, and Japan for a total of six years while he was in the service.  Dad is primarily a nomad and likes to move every few years – similar to how the service does it’s placement and transfers.  He’s traveled all over the United States for recreation.  Similar to his brothers and uncles and father, he likes to work with his hands and has built furniture and done minor house maintenance. 

As a young girl, my Dad was very patient with me when I wanted to play.  He’d let me play house while he just went along.  He’d sit with me for tea parties.  I’d sit and tell him made up stories and when I was a pre-teen, he listened to me sing (that should earn him a spot in heaven!) for hours on end!  My Dad and I had a very tenuous relationship for many years and didn’t speak for quite a while due to some personal issues.  I realized one day close to Easter in the late 80s that someday my Dad would be gone and then how would I feel if the silence continued.  I reached out to him in a letter and soon got a reply.  Then I picked up the phone.  It was almost as if those lost years were swept away as we picked up our father-daughter relationship.  He’s been there when I’ve needed him and he’s turned to my husband and I when he’s needed to.  I called him early this morning to wish him a Happy Father’s day because he’s still going strong and I knew he’d probably be hard to reach any other time.

My grandfather also played a big part in my life.  For most of my formative years, I always thought he was so tall and formidable.  He had a booming voice that commanded – but of course – he’d retired as a Colonel from the Air Force.  When Grandad talked, people listened.  He was respected where ever he went and by whomever he met.  Yet, then I didn’t realize half of what he’d lived through in his life.  I remember the look on his face the night my grandmother passed away in 1984.  It was as if somoene had torn out his heart.  He was very lost.  She’d been by his side since Easter of 1916 – the day they met.  It was only a few years ago when I found their love letters and letters they wrote after they were married, that I learned of the depth of my grandfather’s gentleness, playfulness, and immense love that he had not only for his “Dearest” wife but for his entire family. 

During the years my dad and I were estranged, my brother – 21 years older than me – was also a father figure.  He’d spend time to talk with me about how my choices would affect my life.  And when he was disappointed in me, I felt just awful.  Rarely did I ever hear my brother raise his voice.  He never had to.  He had a way of looking at me with his blue eyes that made me very aware of his disapproval.  Yet my brother was full of fun and always found time for a little sister.  One summer he and his wife took me along with them on a short trip to Cedar Point Amusement Park.  Even though we were sleeping – along with their infant son – in a pickup truck camper, I thought it was a wonderful trip.  Unfortunately, my brother’s not around anymore for me to let him know how much I appreciated his influence on my life. 

I miss my Grandad and brother – because they are no longer around.  I miss my Dad because we’re separated by distance and not able to see each other very much – although I can hear his voice whenever I want.  Happy Father’s Day!

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