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When I was a young girl, my mom mentioned something in passing about my Grandad’s brother.  What? A brother? I thought my grandfather was an only child. So I pressed her for some elaboration. The story she told (which had to have come from her dad or his parents) was that Letis Johnson was 13 years older than my grandfather, and that he was “crazy”.  My grandparents had to commit him several times to the Insane Hospital in Fort Wayne, Indiana.  Sometimes Letis would come home for visits. One time he threw a brick through the chicken coop.  Another time he was so engraged he tried to cut off my grandfather’s ear. Grandad carried the scar the rest of his life.  Mom also mentioned that it was believed Letis had falled at some point in his infancy or early childhood, and it was thought the fall had caused some sort of brain problem.

As a young girl and teen, this story was fascinating. A loony great-uncle who died at the age of 28.  As a budding family historian over ten years ago, this was the type of information that needed to be delved into.  But as a mother – it was heartbreaking.  I wrote about this in Katie’s Story.

On the Friends of Allen County website (Friends of Allen County), I found information that showed that Letis had been admitted to the Fort Wayne State School (Home for Feeble Minded Youths) due to epilepsy (probably caused by the fall), and he died from pneumonia.  What makes this story even sadder, is that it happened decades before there were medicines to help with epileptic seizures. Today, Letis could be a functioning member of society.  I don’t know if he attended enough school to be considered educated.  I don’t know if he ever felt romantic love for someone.  I don’t know if he felt all alone when he was far away from his family.  And until two years ago, I didn’t even know what he looked like.  Then I found the pictures.  Suddenly I had a face to go with the name.

So the question I still go back to – was Letis really “mad” or just suffering from a medical condition?  Epileptic seizures have ocurred in many people throughout history – from Biblical times until now – sports figures, celebrities, and normal people trying to live their lives. How debilitating one must feel when a seizure strikes – especially in a time when others wondered what the person had “done” to be cursed with this illness. Did Katie and John (my great-grandparents) blame their son for having epilepsy? Themselves? The universe? Or did they just feel helpless?  They weren’t wealthy enough to travel to a “big” city to have a fancy medical doctor treat Letis – if there even was a treatment then.  All they could do to protect themselves, their younger son, and their home was to send him to a place where he would be treated, cared for, and kept from hurting himself or others.  My heart goes out to my great-grandparents because that type of decision must not have been made lightly.

So the Great-Uncle I didn’t know much about, has aided me in the way I look at the other members of his family.

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In between the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday on Monday, the grandson’s school schedule getting back to normal, starting back to my class schedule on Wednesday, work, normal life, and wanting to reach through the phone to strangle doing my best to keep my cool with a customer service rep for our health spending account, I did manage to get some blog reading accomplished!  My happy dance this week was installing the Google Reader app on my kindle fire so that I have all my genea-blogs in one place!

I want to highlight a few outstanding (in my opinion) genea-blogs that I enjoyed in the past week.

First is Ginger Smith’s To Cite or Not to Cite? That’s not really the question! at Genealogy By Ginger’s Blog. This post was written on January 13 but I had not read it before publishing my Follow Friday post (I apologize, Ginger!)  She discusses footnotes and the mysterious disappearance of said footnotes – even when she tries really hard to include them!

Second, the wonderfully informative (tongue-in-cheek humor) post on The Sound of Music Effect from Donna Pointkouski at What’s Past is Prologue. As only she can, Donna explains the difference between “a true story” and “based on a true story”.

Lorine McGinnis Schulze is much braver than I ever would be in her post, Sharing Memories – Week 3 – Hair! at Olive Tree Genealogy Blog. I’ve had some of those “wild” hair-do’s as well!

Many of my fellow genea-bloggers were discussing SOPA and PIPA in the past few days and some blacked out their sites on Wednesday in protest (along with Wikipedia and other well known websites).

If you haven’t read the above posts that I mentioned, go check them out, leave a comment and add them to your “must reads”. And as always check out Randy Seaver’s “Best of . . .” on Sunday.

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These are the posts, authors and blogs that I recommend for the week January 7-13, 2012.  Please go visit, leave a comment, and put them on your favorites list!

Preparing for RootsTech 2012 by Elyse Doerflinger of Elyse’s Genealogy Blog. This will be her first time at RootsTech and the first time she will get to visit Salt Lake City and the Family History Library. Elyse writes about her anticipation!

Denise Levenick blogs about the treasures she found when she carefully examined items in a box in Lessons From the Archive #2: Maintain Order at The Family Curator. You may also know Denise as “Miss Penelope Dreadful”.

Is It April 2nd Yet? by Ruth of Ruth’s Genealogy explains what she plans to do on that date (or soon after). Don’t have it marked on your calendar yet? You should!

Greta Koehl seems to have some experience with the “Oh, Look it’s Shiny” disorder too. Her humorous post, How NOT to Jump Start Your Genealogy can be found at Greta’s Genealogy Blog.

Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak (no, that’s not a misprint!) did a Genealogy Round Up January 12 at Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak’s Roots World.

One of the new (to me) genealogy blogs I’m following now is Leaves & Branches by Melissa D. She is a fellow Buckeye and her research includes Brown County, Ohio (where my Johnson and Shields ancestors lived before traveling on to Rush County, Indiana).

And as always you can always check out Randy’s Seaver’s “Best of . . .” on Genea-Musings when he posts it on Sunday.

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At one time I had tons of genea-blogs that I bookmarked and read every day, but when my daily schedule became too busy, I stopped reading many of them. Not because I didn’t like them, because I did, and many still provided good advice or stories.  I just had to decide which ones were more important and could fit into my schedule.

Those I read on a daily basis include:

Genea-Musings because Randy always has good tips, a little humor thrown in at times, and writes consistently each and every day. I enjoy the Saturday Night Genealogy Fun that he posts each Saturday afternoon and the Best of . . . posts that he writes on Sunday.

Ruth’s Genealogy. It used to be Bluebonnet Country Genealogy but has undergone some changes lately. Please go visit Ruth and see what wonderful renovations she has made!

Kinexxions by Becky Wiseman. She has spent a good deal of time traveling the country, posting about her travels, as well as the research she was able to accomplish during her two (yes, TWO) trips to Salt Lake City in the last year!

Reflections from the Fence by Carol. I started reading this blog after Becky Wiseman posted on her blog about meeting up with Carol and her husband, “Man”, during her first visit to SLC. This couple has spent the better part of the year traveling out west, and Carol has written many posts about “The Trip” and inserted wonderful photos. Almost feels as if you are with them!

Blogs that I try to get to on a semi-monthly basis (a few times a month) include:

Jasia’s Creative Gene blog.

Donna Pointkouski’s What’s Past is Prologue. Donna always inserts her own brand of humor and insight!

Becky Jamison’s Grace and Glory.

footNote Maven’s footnoteMaven. Unfortunately, fM has had some personal issues to deal with for several months and she hasn’t posted as often as I’m sure she wanted to. I’m sure she would say that she’s doing what she wants to be doing now (except for getting over a recent auto accident). Many have sent prayers and good thoughts to fM and Mr. M, and we will continue to do so.

There are several more that I read on a consistent basis but I wanted to highlight those above. However, in my last post, I urged readers to go check out some blogs and posts, and I will be taking my own advice and try to read more frequently.

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Since I’m attempting to get back on a routine of posting consistently, I wanted to highlight some of the interesting blog posts I’ve read this week. Please check them out!

Jasia at Creative Gene has posted the Carnival of Genealogy, 113th edition (A Dickens Christmas). Ten geneabloggers contributed to the COG (including moi).

Randy Seaver at Genea-Musings posted a series of articles about Finding Census Records at Archives.com – you can read them here, here, and here. These posts have some helpful tips about searching the UK Census records.

Miriam at AnceStories: The Stories of My Ancestorswelcomed in the New Year with her post 2012 – Out With the Old, In With the New!. For those who enjoyed reading her blog, she explains her partial absence over the last year aside from doing Scanfest posts. This is a truly moving story!

Judy at The Legal Genealogist posted Docking an Entail – you are now wondering what an “entail” is and why would you “dock” it, right? No? Then you must already know what it means! For those who don’t or who want to know, go read. Oh, just read her entire blog! It’s brand new that began on January 1, 2012! Welcome to the geneablogging community, Judy!

If I didn’t pick your post (or blog), please forgive me. I’m just now starting to get back to reading on a regular basis. These are the ones I happened to stumble upon this past week.

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A comment left on one of my posts mentions a family that I have never heard of and can’t begin to understand exactly why it was left. The commenter mentions a lady whose family they are searching for and goes on to describe relatives and children of this woman. Apparently someone looking for that particular family saw the comment (probably after googling the name) and left another comment – which is still unpublished and then another comment was left – also unpublished. I had responded to the original comment that I wasn’t related to that family and believed they had left comments on the wrong blog post.

After looking at all three of these comments, I have decided to write this blog post about them. Hopefully, those who are searching for the same people will be able to contact each other and get more information.

Here is the first comment that is published written by “Eliza” at email address – iceelizabethe@yahoo.com on September 8, 2009:

“I came across a posting for the family of Cassie Whittlesey.
No other information other than her husband’s name.
LDS church member from Spokane, Washington area.
Cassie Whittlesey father’s name was Asa Gore, and his father was Wm G. Gore. His first wife’s name was Casey Warren, also listed in the LDS church in Los Angelos Calif.
They were married April 6th, 1833 in ? MS. They had one daughter married a Traxler from Rankin Ms. Mary Gore Traxler. Wm G. Gore’s second wife was Elender maiden name Unknown. She was in fact a full blooded Cherokee.
She was not of the Hennigan family. She is other another group.
Wm G. Gore family is unknown also.
Cassie Whittlesey mother was Anna Slena Slaydon Gore.
The Slaydons were from the Indian Village of Leon Texas, in Cherokee County Texas. Asa Gore had 5 daughters and 2 sons. 3 daughters moved from La to Calif.
His son Willie Ethan Gore’s boat was shot and sunk in the Phillipines during WWII, and listed as MIA and a marker is listed placed in the Midway Islands for his patoon and him.
Would like to know what Elender Gore maiden name was, and no it was not Hennigan. This was another William and Ellen Gore family, whom this Ellen Gore was previously married to a Harrall man from GA.”

The next comment left was from Richard Davenport at email address – klingon1@sbcglobal.net on July 6, 2010:

“I am sitting next to the daughter of Cassie. Her name is Olga Bearden. She is 92 years old. I have a copy of her father’s death certificate and she has a large book of Whittlesey history. Please feel free to contact me and I can get you in contact with her by phone as she has no computer. She lives in Dallas, Texas.”

And the final comment was left by B. Alton Cooper at email address – roscoebeauregard@ymail.com on September 14, 2011:

“critical…I am a decendent of William G and Ellen Gore…I grew up in Bancroft LA, totally unknowing of these people, as my grandfather JESSE GORE, knew of him but no more..Only after searching for info on my grandmother Jessie (Wingate/Neely) Gore-Cooper, did I learn of these people, and was told as child of Cherokee blood…I was given the name Wah Wah at birth, to honor that…I can be reached at Roscoebeauregard@ymail.com, or at roscoebeauregard/facebook…I am deeply indebted to a distant cousin of Sarah Jane Gore/Bivens…who started her own quest for the hertiage…Two daughers married Franks, we have located their graves, and grew up with one family, without knowledge of the kinship (bivens communtiy)….also Warden (Susan), whose house I play at many times as a child, never knowing that farmstead was of a gore, a sister to my g/grandfather…thank you would like to discuss partiulars with you ….b alton cooper/roscoebeauregard to honor those I grew up about…thanks..”

If you are one of these commenters – or have information that could help them – please shoot them an email and help them out!  Unfortunately, I do not have any information and I am not related to any of these people (nor am I looking for them). Thanks!

UPDATE: I believe that these persons were searching for a woman named Mary Gore Traxler (let’s see how many more people find my blog now!) – and came across my blog because my Dad’s uncle – Clarence Wesley Amore married Mary Ann Traxler. Mary’s father was John Traxler and her mother was Mary Tunney.  So my Mary is NOT the Mary the others were searching. Whew! At least one mystery is solved!

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With the spring semester of college behind me and a couple of my “volunteer” jobs winding down, I’ve been doing some serious research for the last month.  My “free” subscription to Ancestry will be ending at the end of this month, so I’m scouring it for last minute tidbits. One thing I’ve realized is that with my time short, I’m grabbing the image and the source information and will transcribe later.  That is mainly when I find the census images.  I can list occupation, residence, etc. all later.  I do make sure I’ve listed my sources – that way I have a way to look for it at another time if need be.

Some of the people I’ve located information for aren’t in my direct line, but rather collateral family members who hadn’t been located past a certain time.  Databases – besides Ancestry – that I’ve used include: Rootsweb, Familysearch, Find a Grave, and county websites. 

This week I’ve taken a break from my own line.  An older couple at my church came into the office (I work for my church) and we proceeded to talk about the husband’s father and grandfather.  They mentioned they didn’t know much about that side of the family – so there I was, offering my research services.  That afternoon after the wife sent me information she did know, I started finding census records and naturalization records.  It feels good to accomplish something.  I’m hoping to give them a report in another week.  I think taking a break from my own research will give me a fresh perspective when I get back to it.

I’ve also enjoyed reading the blogs of those who attended the Southern California Genealogy Society Jamboree over the past weekend.  I wasn’t able to listen to any of the lectures that were streamed live.  The pictures I’ve seen showed many of my geneablogger “friends” having a great time – maybe too good of a time!

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