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Archive for the ‘Inheritance’ Category

Blog Action Day is October 15th and (in my opinion) couldn’t have come at a more appropriate time. Not only due to the current circumstances of the United States’ and the World’s economic situation but because October has generally been the month of the year when horrible things have happened to the stock market.

In the news of late, there is a lot of blame going around.  Is it the banks’ fault?  Is it the mortgage companies’ fault?  Is it Washington’s fault?  Is it the fault of those who are so greedy or seem to want more than they can possibly afford?  Is it just the fault of circumstances beyond our control?  Instead of pointing fingers and dismissing any responsibility we, as individuals might have, it’s time to focus on the positive. 

We are in a positon now to change our own behavior – to learn from not only our personal history but the history of our forebearers.  I didn’t live through the Great Depression of the 1930s, but my parents, grandparents and great-grandparents did.  Through their values, actions and stories, I learned many things. 

Even after the Depression, my grandparents always kept a stock of items that at one time had been hard to come by or had been rationed during World War II (paper and canned goods).  There would be packages upon packages of toilet paper, paper towels, napkins, canned food, dry cleaner bags, re-usable gift wrap, foil, and plastic bags in their closets, pantry and spare bedrooms.  To this day there is a box in my mother’s basement that is filled with dry cleaner bags and saved gift wrap.  Not only were they stocked up but they were saving money by reusing items instead of disposing of so much that would just clog our landfills (this is a pre-recycling era).

My paternal grandparents lived in Coshocton County, Ohio – close to Appalachia and the mining towns.  In fact, my grandfather, Lloyd Amore, some of his brothers and nephews, were miners at one time.  How my grandparents managed to feed all of their children during that time, I don’t know.  They probably didn’t have too much to begin with other than land, a home, basic necessities, and a will to work hard.

My maternal grandparents were part of the military network.  My grandfather, Glen R. Johnson, had begun serving his country during World War I and by 1930 were living in Ohio close to (what was then called) Wright Field (now Wright Patterson Air Force Base).  They were able to receive medical treatment and their groceries from the military services.  My grandparents tried to live a debt-free life except when it came to buying a home and probably a car which I’m sure came from living through the Great Depression.

My great-grandmother, Martha (Stern) Clawson, moved to Washington State from the Midwest before the Stock Market crash of ’29.  She had a garden and there were animals that were slaughtered for meat so they didn’t go hungry. 

As I don’t have too much “fleshed out” information about any ancestors that immigrated from Europe, I can only imagine that they moved from their homeland due to economic, religious, and social reasons.

Today, as we watch stocks plummet and listen to the dire news reports, we can all pledge that when we recover as individuals, that we’ll move forward with a goal to better our situation.  It’s very unpopular to forego the use of cable, digital TV, or sattelite.  What would we watch on the television?  Give up the cell phone with all its bells and whistles?  What happens if someone needs to get in touch with me?  Wait before running out to buy that new appliance, car, electronic toy, or furniture?  How will I compete with the Jones’?  Buy my groceries using coupons, rebates and shopping guides?  Buy clothing or other items from garage sales or resale shops?  What will my neighbors think?  Hang my clothes out to dry on nice and warm days instead of wasting energy drying them?  That takes too much time!  Take a vacation somewhere local or at a more frugal destination instead of that cruise or Disney World Family vacation?  The kids will be upset!

For one thing – we’ve all lived without a lot of things before.  I grew up before cell phones were even around (let alone answering machines!).  People called back!  We had others on emergency lists in case we couldn’t be reached.  We weren’t tied to the office 24 hours a day! 

Libraries have DVDs and movies that can be borrowed.  When regular shows are in reruns and nothing else is on, we throw in a movie to watch as a family.  Better yet – turn the television off (saving energy) and do something as a family – take a walk, ride bikes, play a game, sit outside and enjoy kids being kids!

If your appliance, furniture, etc. isn’t broken, why do you need a new one?  Just to keep up with your friends and neighbors?  So when they go bankrupt and their properties are foreclosed on, will you also try to keep up with them?

Memories are made by what you do – not the most elaborate vacation in the world.  How long do you want to be paying off the credit charges on that once in a lifetime destination? 

It’s time we all take responsibility – not only for our own greed and indebtedness that places so many in danger of bankruptcy and foreclosure, but for the solution to get back to the basics.  To pull together without playing the blame game.  And as our forebearers before us, we can be just as patriotic by pulling together for the good of our country as well as the good of those who will come after us.

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An article in one of my husband’s magazines explained how Family Tree DNA began. It spelled out the differences between mtDNA (mitochondrial DNA) and paternal DNA. Mitochondrial DNA is passed from a woman to her children (both sons and daughters) but only to her daughter’s children through the female line. The paternal DNA is passed from father to son to son and so on.

Reading this, I decided to follow the female line to see where it would take me – both in personal terms (how they are related) and geographical (where were they born and lived) to get a clearer picture on where my female ancestors originated.

Me – born in SW Ohio


Mary – born in Eastern Indiana (mother)


Vesta Christena Wilt – born 1898 in Noblesville, Hamilton County, Indiana;
died Jan. 1984 Dayton, Montgomery County, Ohio (gr-mother)


Martha Jane Stern – born 1872 in Clarksville, Hamilton County, Indiana;
died Nov. 1956 Lane County, Oregon (gr-grandmother)


Nancy Caylor – born 1840 in Wayne County, Indiana;
died Dec. 1900 in Noblesville, Hamilton County, Indiana (2nd gr-grandmother)

Susannah Miller – born bet. 1800-1804 in Dayton, Montgomery County, Ohio;
died Nov. 1859 in Noblesville, Hamilton County, Indiana (3rd gr-grandmother)

Catherine (or Katherine) Botafield – born 1780 in Pennsylvania;
died Oct. 1855 Washington Twp, Tippecanoe County, Indiana (4th gr-grandmother)

Now it’s time to start researching the Botafield family and especially Katherine in order to find her mother.  I also need to do some documentation in order to verify that Katherine was indeed Susannah’s mother.

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In Searching for Buried Treasure I listed my course of action to find some “buried treasure” in my genealogy files/ephemera.

My search took me a little off course – which is nothing unusual for me.  Before I actually pulled out the box of letters that I was going to look through, I noticed a box on my vanity that I’d only looked inside of one time.  That was a few years ago when my dad first gave it to me.  So I decided to open it back up to see exactly what was inside of it.

Upon opening the clasp and lifting a lid, there was an envelope on the top of the stack.  It was addressed to my grandmother, Ella Amore, and was from the US Army Recruiting Office at Fort Hayes, Columbus, Ohio.  Apparently it was sent upon my dad’s enlistment in the Army Air Corps and wanted to make sure that all of his statements were true.

  

Behind that were other envelopes containing pictures I had actually sent to my dad many years ago as the kids were growing up.  He returned the pictures to me.

Next were two handkerchiefs.  One was sent from my dad to his mother when he was stationed in Iceland and the other was one that he had given to her when he was a young boy.

Underneath the hankies was a Webster notebook.  My dad had used it in 6th grade.  Apparently it was for History as he had pasted a photo from a magazine, book or newspaper on one page and opposite that wrote a brief explanation that related to history.

On the right hand side next to the books and documents were a horseshoe, a film canister filled with sand that was labeled White Sands, New Mexico 1933, a tiny lapel or tie pin that was labeled with my Uncle Paul’s name, a small lock, a watch without the wristband, a mother of pearl handled pocket-knife, a ceramic ashtray and a football with something inside.  My dad told me that he hasn’t opened that football in over 50 years.  He thinks there is a pecan or a nut inside the football. 

 

Underneath the notebook was a book on Agriculture.  I think my father either had an Ag course in high school or he bought it to read.

This gave me just a small glimpse into my dad’s younger life.  Items that he thought were important – or at least important to him.  And if they were important enough for him to keep in a trinket box, then they are important enough for me to hang on to in order to always have a part of my dad with me in the years to come.

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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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The Carnival of Genealogy 55th Edition is “Show and Tell”.  “Remember that fun little exercise you used to do in your grade school days? Here’s your chance to do it again. Show us and tell us about an heirloom, a special photo, a valuable document, or a significant person that is a very special part of your family history. Don’t be shy now, show us what you’ve got! This is all about bragging rights so don’t hesitate to make the rest of us green with envy! This is your chance to brag, brag, brag, without seeming like a braggart (you can’t be a braggart when you’re merely following directions ;-)… so show and tell!”  This edition of the Carnival is hosted by Jasia at Creative Gene.

Do to the time constraints I have right now – I will be re-running one of my older posts on “The Christening Gown”.

The Christening Gown (originally published on May 28, 2008)

One of the items that I treasure is the Christening Gown my great-grandmother Katie J. (Blazer) Johnson hand made.  I first saw this gown when I was in high school and needed something that had been passed down through the family for an oral report.  Mom dug it out of the storage trunk and handed me the box.  Inside was this off-white gown and some pictures.  In the old photos were babies wearing this gown: my grandfather – Glen R. Johnson; his son – Glen R. Johnson, Jr.; my aunt – Genevieve; and my mother.  I’m not really sure they were all actually baptized or “christened” in this gown as I have other documents and oral histories about each one being baptized as an older child.

The gown is actually in 2 parts.  The slip which is plain gets put on the baby first and then the “dress” goes over that.  It has hand tatted lace and exquisite handiwork.  There are been some rust stains scattered here and there and Mom actually soaked the dress is carbonated water to remove most of them (old laundry hint!).

The dress remained at my mother’s and when it was time for my nephew’s first child to be baptized, the gown came out of storage and used.  When my first born grandson was to be baptized at six weeks, my mother shipped the box from Ohio to Texas to me.  Then my youngest grandson also wore the gown at 2 months when he was baptized.  The Christening Gown has been worn by 3 out of five generations (I don’t believe any of us – children of my mom, aunt or uncle or our children – have worn the gown).  It truly is a treasure that I will keep for future babies to use.

(Picture is of my youngest grandson wearing the gown at his baptism in October 2006.)

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Often families share traits or talents that may include creativity, logical thinking, type of humor, mannerisms, and even musical inclination. 

Four of my dad’s uncles had a small band, my uncle played the organ, my dad played the steel guitar, my niece and daughter played the flute, my son played the trombone, and my uncle (Glen Johnson Jr.) played the Sousaphone (first person in the Ohio State Band to dot the “i” in the Ohio Script!).  I’ve tried to play the keyboard (I’m not coordinated enough to play with both hands!) and the guitar (guess I need to play through the pain, calluses and hand stretching!).

My children have beautiful voices, my dad always was singing, two of my first cousins sang – one professionally in Las Vegas.  I can not for the life of me carry a tune!  That didn’t stop me from being in my 9th grade choir.  I was just a tiny little voice of 200!  Or my church’s choir while I was growing up.  The director didn’t care much as long as there was a warm body there!  My children have politely and not so politely asked me to NOT sing anymore!

My dad is a prolific writer of poetry and so am I.  Two of my daughter’s have also enjoyed writing poetry. 

My mom was in Toastmasters years ago and I love to give speeches.  None of my children have issues with getting up in front of people to talk.  I think we all like an audience.

What traits or similarities have you discovered within your family tree?

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(I’ve written these posts to be published while I’m away from the computer – so you won’t have to actually live without me!)

Almost 8 years ago I came across a gold mine of genealogical information which I’ve alluded to before in previous posts.  My mom told me I could search everywhere for anything pertinent.  It was also another way for her to unload stuff on me.  In the very back room of the basement – where she keeps the washer and dryer, inside clothes line, freezer and small appliance items she uses rarely – I opened a large box.  Inside were a couple more boxes.  One had old photos that I pulled out and went through.  Another box held my “artwork” and silly letters I wrote as a young child – items that parents try to keep.  Another box had more photo albums and papers.  Now most of that is in my possession. I came across my mom’s and grandmother’s report cards, pictures of my dad’s family, pictures of my great-grandparents and my mom’s baby sister at death in their caskets (my family is morbid like that!).

Then I went through every single photo album in my mom’s house (at least I think I did!) and removed “old” pictures or photos she told me I could take.  We spent time trying to label photos – especially really old ones of people I didn’t recognize. 

In another part of the basement is a big trunk.  My parents used it to pack clothes and household items when they moved to and from Japan in the 1950s.  Inside were blankets, un-cut material my mom had purchased to make clothes, and then in the very bottom was a box.  Written on the box was “Letters from WWI”.  My first thought was “no!”  There was no way any letters from WWI survived or that my mother would have them.  I opened it and sure enough there were letters.  One was dated May 1916 – my grandparents were still courting!  A hundred letters is an understatement. 

Then my mother found two more boxes with more letters – her letters from Japan to her parents; letters from my grandmother’s mom and siblings to my grandmother; later letters from my grandparents to each other when one of them was out of town.  Then my mom handed me a big manilla folder that contained letters my grandparents wrote her when they were stationed in Wiesbaden, Germany (I’ve posted some of the letters in a previous post).

Then I opened a filing cabinet that had belonged to my grandfather.  Inside were my grandparents’ memorial books, their 50th anniversary book, newspaper clippings, and two rather old looking school notebooks.  One was filled with minutes from my grandfather’s family reunions – Johnson-Shively – held almost every year since before 1920 until after 1920.  Most of the entries were very short and sweet and included the pertinent business meeting information – how much was in the reunion treasury, who was elected President, Vice-President, and Secretary, where the next reunion would be held and quite often the names of those who had passed away, married or born during the year.

When my husband saw the piles of materials that I was going to bring back home, he just shook his head and declared that we were going to have to add another wing to the house!  I feel very fortunate that I ended up with all these materials instead of them being lost to a landfill or to someone who wouldn’t know the importance of these items.  Each time I look at this memorabilia, I discover something new.

How has your treasure hunting been?

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