Found in my grandfather’s postcard collection. Scene of “La Porte Rivotte” in Besancon, France.
Found in my grandfather’s postcard collection. Scene of “La Porte Rivotte” in Besancon, France.
The 65th Edition of the Carnival of Genealogy is “The Happy Dance. The Joy of Genealogy” and will be hosted by Becky Wiseman (one of my distant cousins!) of Kinexxions.
I’ve had several “Oh, Yeah!” moments. One of them I wrote about in A Goldmine – about discovering a box of letters written by my grandparents to each other when they were courting in 1916 and during 1918 when my grandfather went to Signal Corps Training and during his overseas duty during WWI.
Another moment I had was when I was looking for my maternal 2nd great-grandfather, Emanuel Bushong Stern. As I was going through the 1850 Census looking for him in order to get information on his parents and siblings, I wasn’t having any luck. Obviously, they had disappeared during the Census. And then just by chance, I came across Peter Sterne living in Clay Township, Hamilton County, Indiana. The last name was spelled wrong – with an “e” at the end of the surname but the names for known siblings was correct. I think I jumped out of the computer chair at this find!
Another “happy dance” moment came a couple years after I had posted a query on a message board giving names of my paternal g-grandfather’s half-siblings and their children. I received an email from the daughter of one of his nieces. She had quite a bit of information about the Johnson line including the first wife of the man I was researching (James Wilson Johnson) who was my 2nd great-grandmother. And my cousin was actually descended from James’ 2nd wife. Since that time several years ago we have exchanged (with a couple other Johnson cousins) more information.
It doesn’t take much for me to do the Happy Dance! Each tiny rock I turn over or piece of information I find that leads to bigger and better finds, is reason for me to stand up and shout “Oh Yeah!”.
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.
This post is written for the 57th Carnival of Genealogy on the theme: I read it in the news!
Our family has always been big on cutting out newspaper articles that relates to anything having to do with someone in the family. I’ve located small clips on people who have applied for marriage licenses, obituaries, and even larger articles. As I began my genealogy quest almost 10 years ago, I once again perused some scrapbooks at my mom’s house. I found the following clipping:
I knew that my parents, my brother and my sister all learned to fly when my dad was stationed in Japan, but I didn’t realize they had been in a movie! Even if it was for the Aero Club of which they were members. They flew quite a bit while in Japan and continued once back in the states. My parents took me up once (that I remember) as a young child, but I wasn’t a very good airplane passenger. I passed out once in the air and woke up in the car on the way home. I do much better in commercial airlines.
Another news article my mom clipped and mailed to my grandparents contained information about Japan “Asthma”. Mom suffered from this while they were overseas and it was hard to explain what it was so she sent this news article.
I also found my grandparents’ wedding announcement which I think is a pretty good treasure since they were married in 1916 in a small town in Indiana.
I also have been blessed that many of my relatives and distant cousins have shared news articles with me – either a scanned copy or a regular copy. I also feel very lucky that many of these articles have survived over time – especially with standing moves across oceans and across country not to mention just across town.
As I began to think about all the ephemera and research notes in my file, on the computer, and elsewhere, I wondered where I could begin looking. My plan of “attack” is this:
Hopefully I’ll learn some fascinating new information!
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.
In the 1950s when my parents lived in Japan, they bought a reel-to-reel tape player and recorded oral letters which they sent to my grandparents in Ohio. There weren’t many that survived as they were erased, recorded over or became so bad no one could understand what was recorded on them. Those that did survive were compiled into CDs by my cousin and sent out to those of us who were there. I really wasn’t there as it was many years before I was born. I’m on one or two tapes that were recorded at my dad’s family reunions.
Yesterday I received these seven CDs in the mail and hurriedly put one in to listen. I had never heard my sister as a young girl or my brother’s voice as a young man. All of them – including my parents – sound so young. Then today I listened to another CD that included the voices of my grandparents.
To say that this is like Christmas for me would be an understatement. I’m hearing people whose voices I haven’t heard in many years. Even though I have dozens of handwritten letters, there is something to be said to actually hear family speak about their day to day activities. I hear the excitement of being in a new country, the sadness of being so far from family, the laughter from being silly, and the fear when my aunt became very sick.
My cousin probably doesn’t really understand just how much these CDs mean to me. It’s a piece of time that will never come again – yet it’s been captured forever in the lilting words of my family.
Yesterday I spent a few hours scanning letters that my grandparents wrote to my parents while my grandparents were stationed in Wiesbaden, Germany. It has been several years since I read them so it was a chance for me to re-read while I was scanning. I try not to handle these pages from the early 1950s very much in a way to keep them from picking up too much acidic content. When I received them from my mom, they had been placed in a large manilla folder and kept in her basement. To be clear, my mom’s basement is finished and air conditioned so they haven’t been in damp, musty or too hot conditions. All of them are still readable and intact which is rare since most of them were handwritten or typed on very thin onion skin paper. Remember, they were being sent from Germany to the United States so to pack a lot of pages into one envelope for the regular price of a stamp, they used very thin paper.
My grandparents wrote letters at least once or twice a week and they were in Germany for three years so I have many – MANY – letters to scan. And that’s just of the Germany letters. There are also letters they wrote to my parents when my parents were stationed in Japan twice. Letters my grandfather and grandmother wrote to each other while they were courting, when my grandfather entered military training after they were married, when my grandfather went to France during WWI, and letters from my grandmother’s siblings and mother to her.
Here are some excerpts from the Letters from Germany.
Most of the letters are little more than reciting the more mundane chores of daily life or the functions that my grandparents attended. For genealogical purposes, they provide a window into their lives that I wouldn’t have if not for these letters. My grandparents also took several weekend trips into other regions or countries during their time in Europe. My grandfather took my grandmother to the area he was in during WWI in France and showed her spots she had only read about in his letters. My grandmother saw what was left of some of the concentration camps from WWII. They went to Holland and saw windmills and tulips. They shopped in Garmisch. One thing that was always consistent in the letters they wrote from Germany: they missed their children and grandchildren terribly. No matter where the military sent them, their hearts were always wherever their family was.