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Archive for September, 2008

This past week I shared this photo of the Caquot Observation Balloon that is on exhibit in the United States Air Force Museum in Dayton, Ohio.  I’ve taken many pictures of this balloon over the years.  Rarely do I visit this exhibit and not just stand gazing at it for a long time.  Why?  It’s a connection to my grandfather, Col. Glen R. Johnson. 

When my grandfather enlisted in the Army Signal Corps on February 5, 1918, he was sent to Fort Omaha, Nebraska for training on Caquot Balloons.  I wrote about his service in this post. Taken from his obituary is the following, “In the 1950s and ’60s, he was active as national commander and newspaper editor of the National Association of Balloon Corps Veterans (NABCV) (WWI), and had contributed many artifacts to the Air Force Museum at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.” 

The official website of the Air Force Museum says of the balloon on display: Manufactured in 1944, the balloon displayed at the museum is believed to be the only survivor. The British used it for parachute testing and noncombat aerial observation and photography until 1960. The British Ministry of Defense, Royal Aircraft Establishment, presented the Caquot to the museum after it was located with the aid of American and British WWI balloon veterans in 1975. Assisted by the Goodyear Aerospace Corp. of Akron, Ohio, which had produced these balloons during WWI, museum personnel mended and sealed the balloon fabric and prepared it for inflation. It was placed on display in May 1979.

My grandfather was one of the American WWI balloon veterans who helped locate this balloon.  I remember his excitement especially when it was finally ready for display.  He also contributed many other artifacts to the museum including this:

Piece of WW I balloon fabric manufactured in the U.S.
Donated by Col. Glen R. Johnson, USAF (Ret) Dayton, Ohio

U.S. Insignia removed from the last observation balloon
flown by American Forces in Europe.  The balloon was
assigned to the 14th Balloon Company during occupation
duty in Germany, 1919.
  (This was donated by Evert Wolff, N.Y.)
(Grandson in front)

Ft. Omaha Squadron 2 Flag (donor unknown)

So the next time (or the first time) you visit the Air Force museum, take a look at the Balloon that dwarfs one of the areas and take the time to check out the displays that talk about the Balloon years.  I guarantee that you will learn something that you probably didn’t know before your visit.

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This is my submission for the 56th Carnival of Genealogy being hosted by Lori Thornton at Smoky Mountain Family Historian. The topic is 10 essential books in my genealogy library.

Unfortunately I haven’t been able to buy a lot of the books I really should.  Some I’ve checked (& re-checked) out of the local library.  Others I’ve been able to find on Google Books.  So without further ado:

1. The Hollister Family of America.  Compiled by Lafayette Wallace Case M.D.; Chicago, Fergus Printing Company; 1886

2. The Genealogy of the Loveland Family in the United States of America from 1635 to 1892. By J.B. Loveland, Fremont, O., and George Loveland, Wilkes-Barre, Pa.; Vol. 1; Freemont, Ohio; I.M. Keeler and Son, printers; 1892.

3. The Risley Family History.  By Edwin H. Risley of Utica, N.Y.; The Grafton Press; Genealogical Publishers; New York; MCMIX; Copyright 1909 by Edwin H. Risley.

4. The Treat Family, A Genealogy of Trott, Tratt and Treat.  By John Harvey Treat, A.M.; Salem, Massachussets; The Salem Press Publishing & Printing Company; The Salem Press; 1893.

5. Genealogy of the Bigelow Family of America.  Gilman Bigelow Howe; Worcester, Mass.; Printed by Charles Hamilton; No. 311 Main Street; 1890.

6. Historical Sketches and Reminisces of Madison County.  John L. Forkner and Byron H. Dyson; Anderson, Ind.; 1897; from the Press of Wilson, Humphreys, & Co., Fourth St., Logansport, Ind.

7. A Genealogical Record of the Descendants of Martin Oberholtzer.  By Rev. A.J. Fretz; Milton, N.J.; Press of the Evergreen News; Milton, N.J.; 1908

8. Marriages of Coshocton County, Ohio, 1811-1930.  Miriam C. Hunter; Compiled from marriage records, Probate Court, Coshocton County, Ohio; Coshocton Public Library, Coshocton, Ohio; 1967.

9. History of Coshocton County, Ohio: Its Past and Present, 1740-1881.  Compiled by N.N. Hill, Jr.; Newark, Ohio; A.A. Graham & Co., Publishers; 1881; Carlon & Hollenbeck, Printers & Binders, Indianapolis, Ind.

10. Historical Collections of Coshocton County Ohio; 1764-1876.  By William E. Hunt; Cincinnati; Robert Clarke & Co., Printers, 1876

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Julie Cahill Tarr at GenBlog started a meme on the topic of what heirloom(s) you would save in the event of a disaster.  You can read her story here.

As I’ve had a couple weeks to think about this, I think I’ve actually answered this question in some of my posts.  In this post I described the christening gown made by my maternal great-grandmother. And in this post I told you about the CDs I’d received that were made from some reel-to-reel tapes recorded between the late 1950’s and late 1960’s. Here I wrote about the hundreds of letters in my possession that were written by my grandparents when they were courting and after my grandfather was in training and then overseas for WWI and other letters including the Letters from Germany my grandparents wrote while they were stationed in Wiesbaden in the early 1950s.  All of those items I would save.

I would, of course, save every photo that I have in my possession (and negative and slide), the videos of my wedding, the sonogram I had when I was pregnant with our youngest, the church musicals the kids were in, and other family type films.

One thing that has gone with me no matter where I’ve gone, is the box containing all the poetry and other stuff I wrote years ago.  Other items include my Sister-Belle doll (which still “talks” when you pull her string!) and a teddy bear that’s lost most of its fur.  There is also the flower girl dress my mom made for me to wear in my cousin’s sister’s-in-law wedding made from red velvet; shoes worn by my children when they were babies; my wedding dress.  A Hummel I inherited from my grandmother would also have to be saved as well as the German Tea Set she gave me.  Also from my grandparents would be the German Woodcut kitchen scene they bought in Garmisch and the Christmas Bell that plays “Jingle Bells”. I would also grab the scrapbooks I’ve made over the years documenting my childrens’ school years, my parents’ travel to Japan, and other events.

Hopefully, I will never have to evacuate due to a disaster and if I do, I hope that most of my “copy-able” items will have been scanned and saved to a disk, flash drive, or external hard drive that is somewhere else to weather out such an emergency.

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Jasia, at Creative Gene received a notice from the folks at Blog Carnival that the Carnival of Genealogy will be the featured Carnival on their site today! Go check out Jasia’s post about it here and also check out the CoG! Congrats to Jasia – who hosts most of these Carnivals and to all of those who contributed to the CoG to make it so successful!

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Since my day to day life has become quite a bit busier lately, I am only going to be running the Freaky Friday posts on the 1st Friday of the month.  I’m also hoping this way they won’t get stale or I run out of ideas – whichever comes first!

So the 6th Edition of Freaky Friday will be posted on Oct. 3rd.  I may also do a Special Freaky Friday post to celebrate Halloween!

Don’t forget – anyone can get in on this!  Just let me know so I can provide a link!

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I won’t be the only one remembering those who were killed seven years ago.  There will be many articles, posts and tributes written today in memory of the lives taken away so violently and without purpose on September 11, 2001.  So today – like the strike at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 was to our parents’ or grandparents’ generations – we remember what we were doing, who we were with, our first reaction, and how we felt that day and in the days to follow.

September 11th wasn’t the start of the sadness for me that year.  I’d learned in mid-summer that my brother was dying of pancreatic cancer.  An illness that lurked deep inside him, causing him immeasureable suffering for two years, and created a deep chasm of anger and guilt between him and other family members.

On Saturday, the 25th of August I was able to fly to Alabama and see my brother one last time.  He lay comatose, a skeleton of the person that he used to be, and unresponsive to our words.  My sister and mom had also come in so we all shared a hotel room not far from my brother’s home.  All weekend we waited for the inevitable – not wishing it to be – just knowing it would be . . . sometime.  Before I left on Monday, I kissed him one more time, soaking in the warmth of his skin, and running my hand over his hair, memorizing the feel of it on my hand.  I had spent hours just talking to him, hoping that he heard not only with his ears but with his heart.  That he knew how much he meant to me and how much I loved him.

That next Friday, August 31st, I received the call that I knew was coming but didn’t want to answer.  He had fought hard, but had begun in the 10th round instead of sooner.  Once again, I found myself on an airplane – this time with the rest of my family – as we made our way east toward Alabama and a funeral.  There were so many people who told us how he had touched their lives and they were better for knowing him – it made me proud that I’d had a brother like that.

Several days later we arrived home still in a state of grief and sadness.  And so I still felt that weight on my heart the morning of September 11th as I was driving my youngest daughter to school.  Here is an excerpt of what I wrote in a journal three days later:

14 Sept 01

Three days ago the world fell apart. 9-11. After dropping [my son & daughter] at school & getting gas, [my youngest daughter] & I were at Main St. crossing the bridge over I-35E when the breaking story hit KLUV that a plane had crashed into one of the World Trade Center towers in NY. First they thought it was a small plane & not even a jet. I immediately told [my youngest daughter] that terrorists had struck the center again. That they’d tried to bomb it in 93 and now this. She wanted to know what that would do and why there. Tried to explain world economics, etc. No way could I believe it was an accident. Once back at home I called [my husband] to give him news & then turned on NBC news. The pictures were bad. Smoke pouring out of the #1 tower not quite at the top. Then horribly as I & the nation watched 20 minutes after the first crash came a 2nd one into the 2nd tower. How many had died just in those 2 crashes? As I typed on the email my thoughts could not begin to comprehend the destruction. 20 minutes from that 2nd attack came a 3rd – directed this time in DC at the Pentagon. Bush had already spoken to the nation from his stop in Sarasota, Florida. My concern was to get the Pres. someplace safe as well as VP Cheney. If terrorists could strike the Pentagon, they could hit other DC places. Air travel was stopped. All planes grounded. Then word came that a missing flight had crashed in PA. In an empty field. People on board that plane had decided to stop the terrorism at the cost of their own lives but not taking the lives of other innocent people. I hadn’t been at work too long when not only the 2nd building that was hit collapse to the ground but so did the 1st one. How many rescuers were already in there? How many lives lost? The reporters kept calling it surreal because that was the only description. It looked like something out of a spy movie. Except it was all real. No Spielberg behind the camera. No Bruce Willis or Rambo who was going to take out the men responsible. No good guy to win over the bad. The 1st name on everyone’s lips was Osama bin Laden – the mastermind. Not Carlos the Jackal this time unless he was doing this from wherever they have put him. No Harvey Keitel in a movie costume. Just pure evil. I wasn’t alive when Pearl Harbor was attacked. I’ve heard about it all my life from parents who were alive then. But I don’t think this could compare. Then we knew who had hurt us. We had a geographic location to strike back at. This is not a country who has struck. It is a faction. I wasn’t sure if Hollywood had desensitized me against such brutality, destruction & evil but it hadn’t. Yesterday it felt as if my life had crumbled. I lost Jim over a week ago on Aug. 31st. My family was emotionally torn by other stuff this week. I just cried & cried & cried. Keeping busy at home wasn’t helping. I left the house for the quiet of the library. No TVs there & no radios. For over an hour I poured over immigration lists and settler books. Those ancestors of mine, long dead – who faced war in the form of the Revolution – the war that created the Patriotism we are witnessing today. The Civil War – which tried to bring a nation torn apart by different political views together. The the wars of the 20th century. WWI which Granddad was a part of. WWII – which my father was a part of. Korea – Viet Nam – the Persian Gulf War. What type of war will this now be? Can we stop the terrorism for future generations? Can we ever return to the carefree life we had before Tuesday morning? Can we ever see a plane overhead & not wonder or think about the 4 planes that were hijacked? Can we ever see a new picture of the Manhattan skyline & remember the twin towers that graced the picture & remember those who lost lives & loved ones in that terrorist massacre?

And then another piece I wrote to mark the 5th anniversary:

September 11, 2006: Five years after the attack that claimed thousands of lives and shattered the illusion of safety that America had strived to achieve for so long, the question seems to be “are we any safer now?”  Most of the editorials seem to believe that we are not.  The threat is still there around the next corner.  We have been fighting the war on terror almost as long now – on the battlefront, in a middle eastern country that some believe we are right to be fighting and some believe its wrong – we fight terror on the information superhighway, over the telephone lines, through our many forms of media, and for some people – in their own homes.  Measures the government and private industry has instituted in the last five years include: airport safety, immigration arguments, thorough background checks of some employees, the Patriot Act and much more.  More importantly – what hasn’t changed?  What safety measures are lacking?  Many entered churches (some for the first time) after 9/11 to pray for the country, for those who had perished, for comfort, and for themselves.  How many of those are still worshipping regularly?  How many have turned away from our Creator as the war in Afghanistan and Iraq continues?  How many mothers have listened in fear to news reports of roadside bombings in an area where their sons and daughters are deployed?  And the biggest question – how do we fight an ideaology that wants only death for free Americans?  We can push education – educate others to be tolerant and compassionate.  America, however, can’t dictate what other countries are teaching their young people.  What does it tell the world, when Americans can’t even begin to be compassionate to one another?  Each day there are still horrendous acts taking place – right in our cities, in our suburbs, in the rural communities, in our companies and industries, and right in our backyards.  Not only do strangers murder each other but parents and children talk to each other with venomous hate.  What do we show the rest of the world when we can’t even get along?

Are we safer today than 5 years ago?  Not really.  We all like to think we are.  We like to cling to that illusion that was shattered so instantly on 9/11 that we are a little safer.  Can we live our lives in fear and terror?  No – because as soon as we start – they have won the battle.  We have to live – go to work, to play, to worship, to school, to enjoy our families, create friendships and be friends – or we aren’t really living.  If we throw up our hands and say “why bother”, we have handed those terrorists our lives.

And so this morning, just as I was pulling into the drive to drop my grandson off at school – on this September 11th – the radio babble was shattered by words that were spoken seven years ago: ” . . . disturbing images . . . plane crashed into one of the World Trade Centers . . . ” and then silence.  A silence that was filled with pain, anguish and sorrow.  Tears welled up in my eyes as I felt everything I did seven years ago.  I was once again back on Main Street with my daughter in the car driving on the bridge over I-35E.  Grief over my brother’s death flooded back just as if it had been as recent as it had seven years ago.  Then “New York Minute” by Don Henley began, and I felt the tears slide from my eyes. 

May we always remember.

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As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, this blog and my regular genealogy website (All My Branches) has been instrumental in the “finding” of long lost and unknown relatives.  I attribute my good fortune to several things.

  1. The use of great keywords
  2. Submitting my sites to search engines
  3. Submitting information on key family names via message boards and queries on a variety of genealogy related sites
  4. Posting enough information about ancestors that will aid others who are searching for specific family names

Not too long into my research, I ran across a post on a message board by an Amore relative whose name was familiar to me.  Turns out, he was the son of my first cousin!  We emailed constantly and shared a wealth of information with each other.  When his father had to travel to my part of the country many months later, we were able to meet.  I hadn’t seen him since I was very little.  He also got to spend time with my sister, who he had known quite well when they were both younger.  I mailed letters to many with that last name who were living in Coshocton, and soon I was also in contact with others from my Amore branch.  Several others also found me through the website.

On my Johnson line, I had posted a query on a message board about my great-grandfather’s half brother and his children’s names.  Quite awhile later, the grand-daughter of that half-brother, contacted me after seeing her mom’s and two aunt’s names.  Since that time, we have exchanged pictures of our shared ancestors and family.  She even sent me copies of letters my grandparents had written to her mom.  Between her queries and my website we brought several more Johnson family members into touch with each other.

I have also heard from relatives I never knew existed: a daughter of an uncle; a daughter of a great-aunt; a grand-daughter of my gr-great aunt’s son; just to name a few.  I’ve also heard from those I’ve been searching for – maybe not by name, but by relation (case in point: Rachel Blazer Given’s descendents). 

In almost all of my closest family lines (Amore, Johnson, House, Wilt, Stern, Blazer, Goul, Werts) – there has been at least one distant “cousin” (sometimes closer) that has found me via the blog or website.  Sometimes I’ve heard from relatives that share a common ancestor through the Caylor, Roudebush, Hollister, Loveland, or Risley line.

So as you post information on your blog or set up your genealogy website, make sure you:

  • submit it to several search engines
  • use good keywords
  • post information to message boards or queries – not only Surname – but location and even ethnic or religious boards
  • list Surnames so they are easily found

When contacted by other researchers, sharing is wonderful – but until you know enough about who you are giving information to, make sure you privatize your gedcom files.  Also, make sure when you receive information from others (as is the case when surfing the web), take with a grain of salt any information that’s posted unless there are sources and accurate citations.

And if you happen to stumble across long lost relatives or those waiting to be found, enjoy the experience!

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