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Some of the prompts for this week included: sharing a family recipe; which ancestor/relative would you have come to dinner; or family dinner traditions. I can’t pick just one ancestor or relative that I would want to have for dinner – besides I wouldn’t want to spend time preparing, serving, and cleaning up because it would cut in to the time to visit! I decided on focusing on family dinners – those way in the past and not so distant past.

When I think about family dinners, I remember many things.. The first is how my niece and nephews and I all had to sit at the “kids” table for Thanksgiving or Christmas. That was not where I wanted to sit, and I wasn’t shy about letting my parents know! My mom always had the table decorated with a gorgeous tablecloth and her good china. Today, I have the same table and one set of the china! I remember Mom and Dad in the kitchen working together to get the turkey sliced and ready for the table.

There were years we went to Michigan for the holidays. Two of my dad’s brothers lived in Detroit, and my mom’s brother lived in Battle Creek. During those meals, there would be aunts, uncles, and cousins at the table.

Some meals of my childhood included Memorial Day picnics where we all sat outside in the backyard at our two picnic tables. Cold drinks and fresh watermelon as wel as Mom’s potato salad were on the menu. There were meals at my grandparents’ apartment with my Uncle and Aunt in attendance. One year during a birthday, all of us “kids” were squished around the kitchen table while the adults took the dining table or TV trays.

Me and my two oldest daughters – Thanksgiving 1984

After my kids came along, most Thanksgivings were spent for the most part in Missouri with all the extended family on my husband’s side. Meals were eaten anywhere someone could find a seat! Two years in the late 90s, we went to my dad’s for Thanksgiving. The first year we went, my brother and his wife were there. It had been the first time since I was about nine that I spent a holiday with my brother and my dad at the same time. It was also the very last meal I shared with my brother before his death almost 3 years later.


My dad Eugene Amore and my brother Jim Amore – Thanksgiving 1998

During my kids’ high school years, we would have their friends in and out – just as my mom had when I was a teen. There was one summer that one of my daughter’s boyfriends was at dinner almost every single evening. At Christmas, their friends, our son-in-laws, their parents, and extended family would join us at our church’s Christmas Eve service and afterwards, everyone would meet us at the house for our “appetizer” meal. Most evenings at home, our family meals were noisy with chatter and laughter. The funniest stories have come out of those meals. As our four children grew up, moved out, got married and had their own families, there were meals spent at their homes.

Many years ago at one of our family reunions, someone made sure to leave a chair empty as a remembrance to those who are no longer able to share our meals. In conclusion, what does “come to dinner” mean to me? It’s a sum of all of the meals I’ve had the priviledge to share with family in the past and to continue to share with in the future.

This is a post in the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge for Week 4. For more information or to sign up to participate (all free!!), check out Amy Johnson Crow’s post: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks.

(Top photo: Wikimedia Commons licensed under Creative Commons)

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I have a difficult time picking just one photo of an ancestor or relative that is my  favorite. Many of what I consider in the top five include my maternal grandmother, Vesta Christena (Wilt) Johnson. I called her Nana because I believe it was my brother – the oldest of the grandchildren – who gave her that title.

As a child, many people would always comment on my blue eyes and ask me where I got them. My dad and siblings all were blessed with blue eyes so I would say that I got my blue eyes from my dad. There were also others who would tell me that I looked like Nana. I just couldn’t see it. I was a pre-teen or teen, and my grandmother was 63 years older than me. How could anyone tell?

However, in the last ten years or so, as I’ve shared photos of Nana online, many have repeated those assertions – that I did resemble her. Since I am much older now, I do see it. And then back in December, my cousin posted a picture that I had never seen before. It was of my grandparents with my uncle (my cousin’s father) when he was a baby. I cropped the photo to show just my grandmother and compared it to a photo of me about the same age. Well, what do you, my readers think?

This is a post in the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge for Week 2. For more information or to sign up to participate (all free!!), check out Amy Johnson Crow’s post: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks.

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There are two ponds on the farm – the North Pond and the South Pond. For many of the years that we vacationed here, there were cattle in the vicinity of the North Pond so the family didn’t fish out of that one. The pond and pasture is separated from our backyard by a barbed wire fence.

The photo above is of the South Pond. This is where our nieces and nephews fished as kids as well as our own kids. After some neglect – which was apparent when we moved to the farm two years ago – all that my grandson caught were weeds. My husband spent most of that first summer here cleaning it up and just recently the dam was fixed because of so many muskrat holes that had caused it to leak on the backside.

I took the photo a year ago. It looked serene, and I can picture all the kids there being very quiet as they fished. The farm isn’t my favorite spot on earth without reason! And the pond is just one of those reasons.

(Photo above taken by Wendy Littrell.)

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I have been so busy the last few months that I completely missed my blogging anniversary (blogiversary)! Nine years ago on April 19, 2008, I wrote the first two posts here on All My Branches Genealogy: New Genealogy Blog and They Died How?

Since that day, I’ve published 580 articles; have 66 followers; and have had 404 likes, 14,789 visitors and 65,457 views.

Thank you to my faithful readers!

 

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This Saturday I will be attending my very first genealogy seminar! I’m looking forward to being with other genealogists and experiencing what several of my genea-friends have experienced. There are some in the field who are considered “rock stars” – the ones who speak at conferences all over the country and have a wealth of knowledge to share. One such “rock star” is Judy G. Russell. She is known as the Legal Genealogist. Judy’s blog of the same name (Legal Geanealogist) is full of useful information on copyrights, laws from year’s past, and other helpful hints. If you are a family historian, you must read Judy’s blog. I’ve also been Facebook friends with Judy for several years. Finally, on Saturday I will get to hear her presentations and meet her in person at the Midwest Genealogy Center Spring Seminar.

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Happy New Year to you, my readers! Our family has entered 2017 with several wonderful things happening! The first I can share – our oldest daughter and her husband moved closer to us! Instead of 9-11 hours away, they are now only 90 minutes away! I will wait awhile to share with you our other exciting news.

This past year was a very good one in terms of research. I took the AncestryDNA test and connected with several close and distant cousins. I also uploaded my DNA to FamilyTreeDNA, GedMatch, MyHeritage, Geni.com and DNA Land. Then via documents and DNA I knocked down a couple of brick walls. I completed all the forms and gathered the documentation in order to join my local tent for Daughters of Union Veterans, 1861-1865! The highlight of 2016 was my two week genealogy road trip (which I blogged about previously).

Do you make goals or resolutions as the New Year begins? I think I stopped making resolutions when I was a teenager. As a genealogist, I do make goals related to my family history research. This year, I want to focus on making sure I have clear documentation for information entered into my Family Tree database. I also want to list my sources so I’ll know exactly where the information came from.

 

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FINDING LINCOLN

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My grandson and I finished gathering everything together in order to check out of the motel in Anderson, Indiana on the morning of July 18. He went to get a rolling cart so we wouldn’t have to make more than one trip from the room to the car and back. One final look around, and we were out the door to complete the final day of our trip before reaching home later that evening. I pushed open the door to get to the car and stopped – it was pouring down rain! Several things ran through my mind: I have to get gas in the rain; it is still dark and won’t be daylight for awhile; and I don’t know what drivers are like in the rain in Indiana. It really didn’t matter – we had to get back on the road if we wanted to be in Springfield, Illinois as early as we could.

By daylight, the rain had dwindled to sprinkles. We moved right along into Illinois. At one point, the rain came down so hard and fast that the wind blew it sideways. I was having a difficult time seeing the lanes of the highway plus so much water on the road made it difficult to navigate. I kept telling my grandson that I needed to get off the road. Finally, I saw an exit with a sign reading “Gas.” If you have ever heard my story about finding a gas station in Illinois, you know where this is going already! (Many years ago when my youngest daughter was about 4, we needed to find a restroom quickly and followed a sign reading “Gas” for about 10 miles before realizing it was a joke – not really, but we never found a gas station. My husband always said it was the only way for Illinois to get people to live there – to confuse them enough until they stay!) Anyhow – I made sure I followed the directions to where “gas” would be located and drove at least five miles or more down a narrow road off the highway. In the distance, I saw a water tower and knew a town would be there. Sure enough, itty bitty town with its lone gas station was right there. With no parking, I just pulled beside a gas pump. Time for restroom break and then to get snacks and something to drink. By the time we walked back outside, the rain was gone!

Onward toward Springfield! That place has been on my list for quite awhile and even more so after our stop there in the summer of 2008. We missed the tour of Lincoln’s home, and the tomb at Oak Ridge Cemetery was closed in order to make ready for Lincoln’s bicentennial birthday celebration. This time, I wanted to get to the home tour early enough in order to get on the list before the day grew late.

If you have been to Springfield, you are aware that you must pay for parking before entering the visitor center. Unfortunately, it isn’t easy to predict how long the tour or the wait will be so that is like fortune-telling. I decided that we wouldn’t be there longer than two hours no matter what and paid for parking. Luckily, we arrived five minutes before we needed to meet our tour group in one of the historic buildings by the Lincoln house.

Since the home and the other buildings there are part of the National Park system, a Park Ranger led our tour. He was entertaining and knowledgeable. If there was one thing we all learned – keep your hands and feet on the blue carpet! Word of advice – if you can get away with carrying your money/license/credit cards in a pocket – do so. At least take a small purse with a strap to put over you. You can not lean on or bump the walls in the Lincoln home with your body, hands, purse, or objects. That is how they can keep it preserved. After the initial instructions, we were ready to enter the building.

Abraham Lincoln is my favorite president. I am still learning more and more about the man and his presidency. So to stand in the same rooms where he and his family lived, was awe inspiring for me.

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Scenes in the photo (above): the front of the home and front door; the front parlor where Lincoln found out that he had secured the nomination for President in 1860; the dining room table and the sideboard; the stove in the kitchen; the kitchen table; the fireplace in the sitting room; the carpeting in the sitting room; Abraham Lincoln’s bedroom with his bed, wash basin and writing desk; Mary Todd Lincoln’s bedroom; Robert Lincoln’s bedroom; Willie and Tad’s bedroom; the hired girl’s room; and the apple tree in the back yard. I do believe that the wallpaper in Lincoln’s bedroom would have kept me awake all night!

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My grandson in front of Lincoln house

In the Charles Arnold house located across the street from the Lincoln’s, we were able to see displays of items found on the Lincoln property; architecture and building material information; portraits of Mary and Abraham; a diorama of the Lincoln house; campaign banners; campaign medals; and other items. The Visitor’s Center also had a diorama of the streets and buildings of Old Springfield.

lincoln-displays

 Since the tour of the home doesn’t take very long, once we were finished looking at the displays in the Arnold house, we had plenty of time before we had to get the car out of the parking lot. We walked along the historic roads, and I captured photos of the homes.

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Descriptions of the homes from left to right, top to bottom are as follows. The Allen Miller house was built in the mid-1850s and is named for the Allen Miller family who lived in the home after 1860. The Dean house was the home of Mrs. Harriet Dean and her son, Frederick. The Charles Corneau house was built about 1849. The Henson Lyon family rented the house in the early 1860s from Lemuel Ide. The Dubois house was built about 1858 and the Jesse Dubois family resided there until 1864. The Henson Robinson house was built about 1859-1860. The Sprigg house was the residence for Mrs. Julia Sprigg, a friend of Mary Lincoln, from 1853 until 1869. The Beedle house – named after William Beedle – was built about 1841. The final house was built in the early 1850s and was rented by Mrs. Sarah Cook, a widow, in the early 1860s.

lincoln-neighborhood-objects

While we were walking through the historic Lincoln neighborhood, we saw a wagon, the Politics in the Neighborhood Log Cabin display, the Underground Railroad display, and the stone in front of the Henson Robinson house. Then we ventured to the Visitor’s Center and gift shop. My grandson found a Lincoln pocketwatch while I bought three books, magnets, and some postcards. To read more, please go to Lincoln Home National Historic Site.  Then it was time to head toward Oak Ridge Cemetery.

As we entered the cemetery, I told my grandson that we were not going to be able to miss the monument. We drove until we saw this.

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We found a parking lot next to the tomb and made our way toward it. As we walked, the structure seemed to get larger and larger.

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As we entered, I was struck by how solemn it was. This was a burial location for the man I believe was this country’s greatest President. It was a place of quiet reflection, honor, and respect. As we circled through the building, there were several displays.

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The inner room is not as big as one would think it should be but on the other hand, it almost feels cavernous due to the flood of emotions that comes from standing at the final resting place of a beloved President, his wife, and three of his sons.

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lincoln-plaques

After paying our respects to the President and Mrs. Lincoln, we left the burial chamber and the tomb. Outside in front of the monument, is the famous Lincoln “head” that many use to rub Lincoln’s nose for luck. There are beautiful flower gardens surrounding the building.

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And just like that, our road trip had come to a close. It was time to finish our journey back to the farm twelve days after we had started.

In summary, I was able to see just about everything I had set out to see. I found almost all of the graves that were on my list. I had taken care of my father’s wishes and made sure that all went according to plan with the interment of his ashes. I felt as if there were new bonds formed with my cousins. I met cousins that I’d long communicated with only online. Most importantly, I believe that it was a time for my grandson and I to make memories together. And in the end, it really was great to get home.

If you would like to start at the beginning or re-read any of the previous installments, please go to:
Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part FourPart Five, Part Six, Part Seven, Part Eight, and Part Nine.

(Photo of Abraham Lincoln: Wikimedia Commons, public domain. All other photos copyright Wendy Littrell, address for private use.)

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