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Archive for July 22nd, 2008

My family really doesn’t take vacations to exotic or even genealogical places.  We go where family is located – the places we called home at one time.  However, along the way we have periodically stopped to see a historical site or be tourists for awhile.

In the summer of 1994, I took a little over three weeks’ vacation back to my mom’s and a few days at my in-laws.  Just me and four kids!  On the way from Ohio back to Missouri, we stopped at Billie Creek Village located in Parke County, Indiana. If you enjoy stepping back into time and covered bridges, this is a wonderful place to see. Motoring on toward Missouri, we stopped in Hannibal (as we normally do to fill up with gas) and decided to see some Mark Twain historical sights. We toured the Haunted House on Hill Street Wax Museum, sort of. The Wax museum part of it was okay for four young children but as soon as we started into the Haunted area, with chains rattling and screams emanating from the dark, three of the four tore out of there. We walked down the street and took pictures of Samuel Clemens’ boyhood home and the Becky Thatcher House among others.

Two years ago when we reached Hannibal, we stopped so the youngest daughter (not so young any more) could go through the Haunted House.  During the Fourth of July Riverfest in Hannibal, the streets are packed with cars and the closest place to park would have been several blocks away.  With a dog traveling with us, one person would have to stay behind with her.  That’s when we stopped to turn around at a service station and noticed the Molly Brown Birthplace and Museum. (Molly Brown was a Titanic survivor.)  Daughter decided that was just as good as the Haunted House.  The home, as expected wasn’t much, but I learned a lot more than I ever thought I could learn about this woman.  We spent at least twenty minutes lingering over all the news clippings, studying the furnishings and listening to the guide explain how the small rooms were used by the family.

On the way from Missouri to Ohio recently, we passed through Springfield, Illinois.  I mentioned to my husband that “sometime we’ll have to stop to see Lincoln’s home”.  Then I began wondering where he was actually buried.  As a Lincoln history buff, I would surely have remembered!  So as we returned from Ohio retracing our path back to Missouri, as we got closer to Springfield, I asked my husband if we could just see how far the house was off the highway.  So we detoured into Springfield through the old part, following the signs until we got there.  Once again, we had the dog with us so our daughter volunteered to stay with her while the rest of us went into the Visitor’s Center to get the information we needed about walking through the house.  It’s a free tour, but not self-guided.  The tour didn’t start for 30 minutes, and I didn’t feel we should take that long with the daughter waiting on us.  The parking is $2 (basically on the honor system) which is a deal when you consider so many historical sights now charge for tours.  So we inquired about the tomb.  It wasn’t that far away – however, it was closed for three days while they did some cement work.  We were allowed to walk to the house, walk around the house, and see two other houses (inside too) that had been restored to their original condition.  It appears that the historical society is restoring several of the surrounding homes and buildings in that area.  You can go to Lincoln Home and Lincoln’s Tomb for more information.

The moral of the story is . . . if you even think you might get to stop at a historic sight or even a courthouse or cemetery on your genealogical quest – call, write or email to make sure it is open when you will be there, if there are any fees for parking or tours, hours of operation, what type of parking you can expect, and if there are any other festivals happening at the same time.

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In my post for the 51st Carnival of Genealogy - Independent From Birth, I wrote about my grandfather’s foster sister, Eva. Toward the end of my post I wrote, ” wish I could have met this woman – my grandfather’s younger sister – as she lived for many years after his death. Whenever the family discussed his relatives, we all knew he had a younger sister but I truly think that they had fallen out of touch many years earlier. It isn’t known who stopped communicating. Possibly it was a bit of both. Knowing my grandfather he would have talked and talked until he was blue in the face about “straightening up” and flying right to her. As independent as she seems, Eva probably decided to do what she’d always done – dance to her own music and “if all you’re going to do is lecture me, I’m not listening anymore.” Theories that are probably closer to the mark than not. It seems rather sad to me that no one contacted her – or knew where to reach her – when my grandfather passed away. We never sought to visit her when we were in Indiana. I hope that in her later years, she finally found what she was searching for. Life is really rather short in the grand scheme of things and family ties – no matter how strained or tenuous – should never be broken.”

During my trip back to my mom’s house, I asked her why no one ever contacted Eva when my grandfather died.  Her response was, “She had died about 30 years before.”  When I told her that wasn’t true, she was surprised.  I told her what I knew about Eva’s later life and how she and her son had a falling out about the time Eva realized she was going to be an older, single mother.  My mom then figured that her son said that she’d died because he wasn’t on good terms with her anymore.

So that solves the mystery on why we never contacted her or saw her.  I would guess that Eva really did feel as if she was all alone in the world.

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Did you miss me while I was gone?  Looked like I had quite a few hits while I was away.  Our family just spent a week and a half on vacation visiting family out of state.  While at my mother’s, I did more digging in the photos and ephemera that are in boxes and found some more information.  Then we were in Missouri for my in-laws’ 60th wedding anniversary celebration (a month early).  It was wonderful to finally meet one of the granddaughters-in-law and three of the great-grandchildren as well as the daughter of one of a grandson’s fiancee’.  The in-laws have lots of land and the kids got to fish in both of their ponds, see interesting wildlife they don’t usually see, and enjoy the fresh air and sunshine in a slightly cooler environment than our normal 100 degree temps here in North Texas.  There was much food consumed (read that as A LOT!), many dishes washed and dried, many loads of laundry washed, dried, folded and put away, and lots of hugs and laughs.

I have some updates for a couple of the posts I’ve previously written so I will be getting to those as soon as I can.  Today though – it’s back to the real world which includes work, grocery shopping, bookkeeping and doing laundry!

Thanks for not forgetting me while I was gone!

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