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Archive for the ‘Inheritance’ Category

(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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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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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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Inherited Traits

I’m a little late for the latest Carnival of Genealogy (CoG) at Creative Gene (see link at the right), but I wanted to add my 2 cents.  The theme was Inherited Traits or Genes.  Most everyone on my paternal side has brown hair – which is probably where I got it.  My maternal side has either brown or black hair.  Now the brown hair has differing degrees.  Some are light-headed brunettes, some of us have some red in their hair and my dad’s mother was auburn haired – as is my niece.  The blue eyes came from just about everyone on both sides except my mom – she has hazel eyes and her father had dark eyes.  Her mom had blue eyes and so does my dad’s side of the family.  When I was very young, everyone asked me where I got my blue eyes from.  They were that dark, sapphire color of blue.  As I’ve grown older, they are more of a sky blue.  My son and oldest daughter have bright blue eyes.  All four of my children were born with beautiful dark blue eyes.  The other two now have hazel eyes (switches from green to amber to brown) and green eyes. 

My creative genes I get from both parents.  My dad is a poet and amateur musician and my mother is very creative at needlework and sewing.  I can’t sew a straight line (although I’ve tried) but I can do cross stitch and needlepoint.  I have tons of poetry that I’ve written.  I think instead of doing lots of needlework I’ve been able to transfer that to graphic arts in laying out scrapbook pages, and working for a printer and a marketing department in paste-up.  I never figured out where my “theater” gene came from until a few years ago when I came across a picture of a play my mother was in when she was in high school.  I asked her why she never told me she liked to act in plays.  It was “oh, I don’t know”.  My mother was an avid sports player – she played basketball in high school and liked to golf.  She watches all sports on television – golf, baseball, basketball and college football.  I can never see a golf game and be very happy.  Many years ago my husband picked up the sport as a way to stay connected to people he was working with so I became a little familiar with it.  I like to watch a game of baseball if I am actually in the stands.  Saw a lot of Cincy Reds game growing up and had a great time.  I’ll watch pro-football every Sunday during the season (or Thursday, Friday or Saturday).  Not so much college unless Ohio and Michigan are playing!  The only basketball game I enjoyed watching was the very last game of my senior year in high school when I actually went to the game – hoping our team would qualify for the finals (they didn’t win).  As far as playing sports myself, I loved to play volleyball; was on a swim team in elementary school; and I like to bowl.  Flirted with the idea of trying out for the soccer team when I was in high school – that was before “selective” sports and the idea that if you hadn’t been playing it since you were able to walk, then you couldn’t play at all.  My dad really isn’t a sports junkie.  Both my parents cooked – in fact my dad used to bake eons ago – he still might, I don’t know.  It took me awhile to get the hang of cooking without a recipe.  First I had to get past the “too picky to eat anything that is mixed together” people.  For a long time as a young adult and when my children were very small, I couldn’t even think about making a casserole that might have a vegetable in it – hence, I was a pretty lousy cook because I decided I could care less!  Once I met someone who actually enjoyed my cooking and told me what a good cook I was, then meal time didn’t seem like a chore anymore. 

I’m sure there are a lot of other “traits” that I’ve inherited through the generations and I’m quite pleased with the ones I do have.  Go to http://creativegene.blogspot.com to read about other folks’ perception on their inherited traits.

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