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Posts Tagged ‘Henry County’

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(Links to previous installments at bottom of post.)

Our second day (first full day) in Anderson, Indiana began after breakfast by finding the homes where my great-grandparents (John and Katie Johnson) and my grandmother (Vesta Wilt Johnson) resided. Needless to say, the homes were either gone or it wouldn’t have been a good idea for me to step out of my car and start taking photos of houses so I dispensed with that idea. I did take a photo of the church where the Johnson’s attended and where my grandfather, Glen R Johnson, was baptized. After attending this church on Easter Sunday 1916, he met the woman he would marry – my grandmother, Vesta Wilt.

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Central Christian Church, Anderson, Indiana

It was almost time for the library to open so we waited in the parking lot for awhile. My grandson was already grumbling about spending more time in a library. Unlike, the one in Coshocton, the genealogy room was upstairs and open. There was no door that shut behind us as we entered. It was also very large. Since I had promised that we wouldn’t be there more than two hours, I hurriedly began looking through books. I used my Kindle to photograph information. In hindsight, had I known that I would find a wealth of information there, I would have spent more time at the Indiana Public Library and less at the Coshocton Library. Lesson learned!

Once we left the library, we headed toward Pendleton and Falls Park. It was a beautiful day for hiking the trail, seeing the falls, and enjoying nature. We didn’t park in the main lot but at a smaller lot on the opposite side of the park. The first thing that drew my attention was the beautiful Monarch Butterfly garden.

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While walking through the woods, we noticed that there were signs indicating our location which helps to not get lost! We crossed some bridges over Prairie Creek and came upon the CSX railroad bridge. The year “1910” was marked on it!

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While we explored, we saw groups of people who were walking/jogging the trails and those who were setting up cameras for photos. We came out of the woods in to the main area of the park and saw many people enjoying the day. There was even a bride having photos taken. I saw some geese but couldn’t get a very close picture. The falls were beautiful!

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We went back to the car the same way we had come. By then we were hot. We got back on the road and stopped for a sweet treat at Good’s Candy Shop about 2:30. Not only did they have several varieties of popcorn and candy but also hand-dipped ice cream – which is what we both chose. After we finished, we headed back to Maple Grove Cemetery. I was still looking for the graves of my great-great-grandfather’s sister – Elizabeth Blazer – and her husband – Coleman Hawkins (please go back and read “Mingling of Families and Murder” to get an insight about these relationships!) This time, when we entered the cemetery, there was a sign “No Pokemon Game Play Allowed in Cemetery.” Needless to say, there were at least 2-3 golf carts filled with college students driving around and stopping. Two cemetery security vehicles followed them and seemed to run them out of the area. A few times, security followed me until they figured out that I really was looking for gravestones! Our 30+ minutes driving around was fruitless. I decided that I just wasn’t going to find the Hawkins family or any other Blazers that day.

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We drove way out in the country to Henry County where my Nash ancestors were buried. Lebanon Baptist Cemetery isn’t very big and the graves were easily found.

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The photo above shows the stone of Alexander and Elsie (Minesinger) Nash. They were the parents of Christena Nash who married Israel Wilt. Christena and Israel are the parents my great-grandfather, Joseph N Wilt, and great-great-grandparents of my grandmother, Vesta C (Wilt) Johnson. That makes Alexander and Elsie my three times great-grandparents. Alexander’s inscription is on one side of the stone. To read Elsie’s inscription, I had to move some vines out of the way. A tree has grown up right in front of their stone (where “Nash” is inscribed at bottom) and is dislodging the stone from the ground.

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Close to Alexander and Elsie Nash rests the headstone of Christeana Minesinger – mother of Elsie (two photos above left). There is a stone leaning on Christeana’s but I wasn’t able to tell whose it was. The photo (third from left) above indicates how close her stone is to her daughter and son-in-law. The far right photo are graves of Nash children. Unfortunately, they were very hard to read. Before leaving, I told Christeana and Alexander and Elsie that I was very glad that I could visit their final resting place and thanked them for their lives.Without them, I wouldn’t be here. My grandson snapped a photo and labeled it “Nana talks to dead people.” Yes, yes I do!

It was time to head back to Anderson. That evening we ate dinner across the road from our hotel at Steak-n-Shake close to 7 p.m. By the time we were finished eating, it was time to head back to our room and settle in for the night. I was looking forward to a fun-filled and emotional Sunday. I would be meeting a cousin for the very first time!

Next – A Day with Lynn!

To catch up on this series please go to: Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four, Part Five, Part Six, and Part Seven.

(All photos copyright Wendy Littrell, address for private use)

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(Links to previous installments are at the bottom of this article.) The morning of July 15 found us leaving Coshocton before 6 a.m. headed south west. I wanted to get to Anderson, Indiana before the afternoon but planned a stop before leaving Ohio. My four times great-grandparents, Adam Goul and Elizabeth (Lutz) Goul, settled in Champaign county by 1817. They were buried at Treacles Creek Cemetery in Goshen township off of South Parkview Road. By the time we arrived at the cemetery, my grandson had gone back to asleep. The only parking was off the shoulder of the road so I woke him just enough to tell him I was going into the cemetery. Luckily, the photos I have seen of the headstones gave me an indication as to the area I should look.

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I found them pretty quickly and took some photos. As I had done in many of the other cemeteries, I talked to them for a few moments before heading back to the car. We drove on toward Anderson, Indiana.

My mom, her older two siblings, and my grandfather had all been born in Anderson. When my mom was just a few years old, the family moved to present day Fairborn, Ohio. Ancestors on my grandmother’s side had lived in Henry county – very close to Madison county so I hoped that I could also visit where they were buried.

When we arrived in Anderson, I realized too late that the hotel sat off the road to the right of the highway, and I was in the left lane. Having lived in the Dallas area for so long, I was used to driving a bit and going around the block to my destination. That is not so in Anderson! I drove a very long way and kept thinking that surely this road will intersect with the highway again – nope, it went right over it without an exit to the highway! Even with that bit of trouble, we arrived at the hotel about 11 a.m. I knew check-in wasn’t until 3 p.m. but I had hoped that they (like the hotel in Coshocton) might let us check in early. Sadly, that wasn’t the case. I was told that it “might” be ready by 2. The first thing we did was find a place to eat – Pizza Hut. Then we drove out to Maplewood Cemetery near the college in Anderson. My grandfather’s parents and siblings are buried there – along with many of my grandfather’s cousins.

With the size of the cemetery, I stopped at the office. I explained to the lady that we were from out of state, and I had hoped to see some of my family member’s graves during the short time I was in town, but I needed to know exactly where they were buried or I would never find them. Her comment: “We really don’t do that.” Before I could pick my jaw up off of the floor, she sighed and asked me “just how many people are we talking about?” Well I knew that anything over 4 was just going to shut her down so I gave my great-grandmother’s name as I knew that some of the others were buried right next to her. The lady made the look up on the computer, retrieved a book from an inner room, and marked down her plot on a map she gave me. I also got the location for my grandfather’s foster sister, Eva’s grave. I thanked her profusely, and then we left the office to follow the map.

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Top Left to Right: Letis W Johnson, Mary A Johnson, Eva L (Johnson) Skinner (my great-uncle & great-aunts)
Bottom: John L Johnson and Katie J (Blazer) Johnson – my great-grandparents

As we were driving through the cemetery looking for other graves, we saw a father and his son crisscrossing many of the roads. I stopped to ask if they were playing “Pokemon Go” – sure enough, they were but had also been visiting his parents’ graves. We thought it was humorous because many of the college students were also wandering through campus and nearby streets playing the game. Needless to say, even though one of the gravestones I was looking for was rather large and next to the road, we never found it. We did stop at the Veterans area and take pictures.

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Finally, we were able to check in at the hotel. I saw several families staying there – so that always makes me feel better about safety. I had booked this place on the advice of my cousin – who I would finally get to meet in person on July 17.

Realizing just how difficult it was obtaining grave location information at Maplewood, I contacted the other cemetery – Grove Lawn – in Pendleton (a few miles down the road). I reached the Town Hall so I explained the reason for my call and was passed off to another woman. She was very helpful and told me she would call me back and email me a map once she had the graves located. It wasn’t too long when she called to apologize that the area I needed to search was the older section and those records had burned in a fire long ago. She told me to check my email for her advice along with the map.

My grandson and I headed off to Pendleton and passed Fall Creek park. I turned into one of the small lanes of the cemetery and stopped. Based on what the lady at the Town Hall told me, I suggested that my grandson head off to the section on his side of the car to start looking for gravestones. As I stepped a few feet back and looked down, there they were! As I believed on Tuesday in Coshocton, it appeared the ancestors wanted to be found!

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Left side – top: Franklin Blazer & bottom: Melissa (Goul) Blazer
Right side: John & Martha Goul (Melissa’s parents)

Over a bit from Franklin and Melissa’s graves were the stones of Franklin’s brother’s family. George and Amanda Blazer are buried near three of their four children: Estella (Blazer) Dilts, John W Blazer, and James Albert Blazer.

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Also, close by were two other members of the family – John F Blazer, son of Franklin and Melissa (my great-grandmother Katie’s brother), and Franklin’s father, John Blazer. There is an area without a gravestone next to the elder John Blazer, and I believe my three times great-grandmother, Mary Ann (Nelson) Blazer, is buried there.

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Left: John Blazer b 1810 d 1873 / Right: John F Blazer b 1859 d 1897

Further back in the cemetery is where I located Melissa’s parents grave – John and Martha Goul. Then I saw John Goul’s brother’s gravestone. It looks like a carved tree trunk.

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Above: Side of headstone for Henry Goul and Bottom: Sarah Shaul Goul

By the time we were finished at Grove Lawn, we headed back to Anderson and the hotel. After a bit of rest and relaxation, the grandson and I went down the street to eat at Cracker Barrel. After supper, the rest of the evening was spent back at the hotel in anticipation of another busy day.

Next: Day Two in Anderson and Vicinity

(Please visit the previous installments for the story up to now! Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four, Part Five, and Part Six.

(All photos copyright Wendy Littrell, address for private use.)

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Two years ago, I posted an article about my my great-grandfather’s brother, Jacob Marion Wilt. If you haven’t read it or need a refresher, please go here.

In summary, I have not been able to locate any further information on Jacob nor on his wife, Sena Gibson, for the last two years. I located their son, Russell, and his wife, Ferna Potter (I learned her maiden name!), along with their daughter, Thelma. Or is she (more on that below)?

Yesterday, after checking Find a Grave one more time, lo and behold! There was the headstone for Jacob. Checking in the same cemetery, I located Sena, Russell, and Ferna! Yes, I did a happy dance – not so much of a dance rather than some arm and fist pumps in my chair!

Now, I have a more detailed picture of Jacob’s life and death than I had two years ago. It turns out that Sena Gibson was born Marsena Gibson to Wilson Gibson and Cynthia Ann Maddy about 1856 in Indiana. Sena’s mother, Cynthia, is found at the age of 12, living in the household of Andrew and Marcena Maddy in the 1850 US Census in Henry county, Indiana. Cynthia’s siblings included James, Isaac, Elizabeth, George, Rhoda, Philena, and Sarah Jane.

Cynthia and Wilson married in Henry county about Feb 1855. Besides Marsena, they had two more children – Rhoda and George (which coincidentally, are the names of two of Cynthia’s siblings). The family is found in the 1860 US Census in Jefferson, Henry county, Indiana – along with a girl named Amanda, age 9. Amanda is possibly the daughter of Wilson Gibson from a previous marriage. By the 1870 US Census, Wilson has died (about 1864) and Cynthia has remarried Thomas Ray on March 7, 1866 in Henry county. Son, George, is not in the household giving the impression that he died between 1860-1870. Included in the household is “Sena” Gibson, age 14; Rhoda Gibson, age 12; Sarah Ray, age 4; and James Ray, age 1. In the 1880 US Census, Cynthia and Thomas with children: Sarah, James, Albert, Josie, and Alta are still living in Henry county. Marsena (“Sena”) is found living in the Anderson Sherman household in Henry county as a servant.

The following year on August 5, 1881, Sena Gibson and Jacob Wilt marry in Henry county. About nine years later, their son, Russell Ray Wilt, was born in the same county. Due to the amount of time between their marriage and the birth of Russell, it seems likely that other children may have been born – and died (as a result of stillbirth or miscarriage). However, no records have been found. Sena does report on the 1900 US Census that she is the mother of only one child and that child is living. It wouldn’t have been the first time that a woman did not list stillbirths. It is also possible that couple may have had fertility issues, and Russell was their “miracle” child.

Jacob and Sena are found – still residing in Henry county – in both the 1900 US and 1910 US census records. Jacob does not list an occupation in 1900 but in 1910, he says that he is a “railroad worker.” At that time, the family owned their home “free and clear.” By June 1917, their son, Russell, is a resident of California as shown on his draft registration for WWI and is self-employed. Was that the reason Jacob and Sena moved to California from their native Indiana? To be closer to their only son? Jacob’s father, (my 2nd great-grandfather) Israel Wilt, was still living. Was it difficult for Jacob to move clear across the country from his then 80-90 year old widowed father – knowing that he would probably never see him again? Sena’s mother, Cynthia, had died in August 1911, so she wouldn’t have been leaving her parents.

The couple has been very hard to find in the 1920 US Census. Up until today, I wasn’t sure if they were in Indiana during the enumeration or on their way to California. Jacob Wilt has been found in the 1920 US Census! He is a renter living at 439 King Street in San Bernardino and listed his age as 57 (several years were shaved off his age!), born in Indiana with father born in Virginia (yes) and mother born in Pennsylvania (yes). Jacob is a laborer on the railroad. And for the kicker – his marital status shows he is divorced. What? Divorced? So where is Sena? Has she died?

Yes, Marsena Gibson Wilt died on December 26, 1913 at the age of 57 years in San Bernardino. She is listed as Mrs. J Wilt. So does that imply that prior to Russell moving to California by 1917, the entire family moved? Did Jacob and Sena divorce prior to her death or did Jacob marry someone else between the end of 1913 and the census in 1920? But what happened to Jacob Wilt? In 1930, he is renting 1745 W. King Street in San Bernardino next to the rail yard. He lists his age as 69, working for the railroad “at home” and is widowed. By the 1940 US Census, Jacob had already died. His death record shows that he died at the age of 70 on September 26, 1931 in Los Angeles county.

Jacob and Marsena are buried at Mountain View cemetery in San Bernardino. Thanks to Lynette (Find a Grave member: Gooffson), she not only uploaded the cemetery information to Find a Grave but also photos of their headstones. She has allowed me to use her photos in my family tree.

Jacob Wilt gravestone

Marsena Gibson Wilt headstone

(Headstone photos by Gooffston – AKA Lynette – used with her permission.)

Finding Jacob and Marsena’s headstones and where they are buried enabled me to find even more records and information for my great-grand-uncle and his wife!

Their son, Russell Ray Wilt, had moved – either with is parents or by himself – after 1910. On his WWI draft registration, he lists his birthday as September 6, 1890 and place of birth as Newcastle, Indiana (in Henry county). The address he resided at on June 5, 1917 was 1120 S. Madison in Stockton, California. Russell was a self-employed oilman with a wife who was dependent upon him for support. In 1920, Russell and his wife, Ferna, are roomers in the household of 64 year old Isora M. Oulland in the 7th Ward of Modesto living at 142 Rosemont avenue. Russell’s wife, Ferna, is listed as age 28 born in California with her father born in “English” Canada and her mother born in Illinois. Russell does not have an occupation listed.

In the 1930 San Diego, California City Directory, Russell and Ferna are living at 2351 Boundary street. If that address is still current today, the home is duplex. Russell’s occupation is salesman. By the 1930 US Census enumerated on April 11, 1930, the family is living at 1382 36th street in Oakland, California. They are renting for $30/month. Living with them is their “daughter” Thelma, age 12 born in California. So where was Thelma in the 1920 US census? She wasn’t shown to be living with them in Stockton – unless the landlord, Ms. Oulland, provided the information to the enumerator and failed to mention Thelma. Russell was 22 and Ferna was 21 at the age of their first marriage – putting their marriage as taking place in about 1912. That leaves the impression that Russell was in California by that time. His occupation in 1930 was a specialties salesman.

The 1940 US Census reports that Russell and Ferna were living in Chillum, Washington. By 1940 they are residing in Alderton, Washington. Once again, the couple are roomers in the household of a widow – 69 year old Charlotte Laidlaw, who was born in Canada. Russell lists that his occupation is a self-employed artist and had worked 30 weeks in 1939 and only 6 hours between March 1 and March 30, 1940.

On March 27, 1937 Thelma L. Wilt and James M. Norris were married in Kittitas county, Washington with the approval of Russell Wilt and John Norris Jr (fathers of the intended). Thelma would have been almost 19 years old. James McGovin Norris was born on October 29, 1906 in Roslyn, Washington. The couple are living on the United States Indian Service Government Camp located in Yakima county, Washington in the 1940 US Census – along with their year old son. Thelma reports that she has completed one year of college. Her husband is a surveyor for the government.

By November 30, 1951 Thelma and James had divorced. She then married William Christensen in King county, Washington.

By the time of the 1942 WWII Draft registration – to register older men – Russell and Ferna were back in California, living at 1700 “F” street in San Bernardino. Russell was unemployed at the age of 51 years. He had a scar under his right arm – no mention if it was a large scar or not.

Russell died on August 4, 1954 in Orange county, California. He was buried in Mountain View cemetery – the same as his parents. Ferna followed on August 1, 1963.

Now, back to Thelma and the answer to where she was in the 1920 US Census since she did not appear in Russell and Ferna’s household. I still haven’t located her but I have learned that Thelma was born Thelma Serrano to Lucille Rogers and Arthur Jesse Serrano in March 1918 in Alameda, California. Apparently, the child’s mother took off and left her with Arthur who in turn moved in with his parents. Soon, Thelma’s biological grandparents came down with tuberculosis. Arthur feared for his daughter’s health and put an ad in the paper asking for a couple to take his daughter. It is unknown if an adoption ever took place after Russell and Ferna took young Thelma into their home as their own daughter. Thelma tracked down her biological family in the late 1970s.  She passed away in Washington on February 21, 2000.

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Jacob Marion Wilt is my great grand uncle. He is the oldest child born to my 2nd great-grandparents, Isreal Isaac Wilt and Christena Nash and oldest brother of my maternal great-grandfather, Joseph Napolean Wilt.  Jacob was born on February 21, 1858 in Indiana. On August 6, 1881 Jacob and Scena Gibson were married in Newcastle, Henry County, Indiana. They had a son, Russell Ray Wilt, born September 6, 1890 in Newcastle. The family is found in the 1900 Census living in Jefferson township in Henry County.  They reported that they had been married 18 years. By the 1910 Census, Russell was already out on his own.  Jacob and Scena were living in Sulphur Springs in Henry County.

And there begins the mystery.  It was reported by a distant cousin (Jacob is their great grand uncle also) that Jacob and Scena moved to California. I have not located either one – however, according to the 1920 Census, Russell is married to Ferna (LNU) with a young daughter, Thelma, and living in Modesto, California. In 1930 the Russell Ray Wilt family is in Oakland, California and in 1940 they have moved to Pierce County, Washington.

There is a Jacob Wilt listed in the 1920 and 1930 Censuses in San Bernadino, California – but his age is off by a couple of years and the listing for his father’s birth place is not Virginia. In the 1920 Census, that particular Jacob reports that he is divorced and in the 1930 Census, it shows he is widowed. I need to pinpoint the exact locations in the enumeration districts where both this Jacob and also Russell were living. If they are close by, then these two “different” Jacobs may just be one and the same. I haven’t located any further information on Scena (whose name has also been spelled Sena and Cena and mistakenly reported as Lena – depending on who was reading the writing!) nor on Russell’s wife, Ferna, or their daughter, Thelma. The Wilt branch of the family still living in and around New Castle, Indiana, didn’t seem to know any further information.

Sources: All Census information came from www.familysearch.org indexes.  Jacob and Scena’s marriage information came from the same website – the “Indiana Marriages, 1811-1959” database (digital image).

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I wanted to update my post of the other day concerning the obituary for Ellen Ora (Johnson) Moffitt that is the Knightstown (Indiana) Banner.  A wonderful person in that area checked the obituary for me and said that neither her parents or siblings are listed in it.  So that rules out that source.  She did, however, suggest I contact the Health Dept to see if the death certificate would have her parents listed.  I would like to think that her husband would have known who her parents were but whether or not that information was part of the standard death certificate information in 1929 for Indiana is an unknown to me.  The only way I’ll find out is if I make that call.

Stay tuned for more . . .

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The journey is taking a surprising turn . . .

If you’ve followed this series, in Part 1 , I explained how I’m on the search to find out how the Moffitt family is connected to my maternal Johnson family. In Part 2, I examined some letters from Elenora Johnson Moffitt’s daughters that shed some light on the relationship.

Yesterday, I decided to check the Henry County Genealogical Society webpage to see if I could find any information on the Moffitt family.  I clicked on the Death Records and scrolled down.  Listed under Moffitt, Christopher – I saw that he died on July 8, 1939 at the age of 84 years old.  The informaton also gave me what Book Name, book number and page number the record was located.  Then I saw Moffitt, Ellen O. (not Elenora) who died on October 26, 1929 with the same type of information on what book, number and page to find her death record. 

Under obituaries, I found that the Banner (a newspaper in Knightstown, Indiana), had an index of obituaries on their sight.  There was also a warning that because so many people had called up to complain about inaccuracies, it was a strong possibility that the index might be taken down as well.  And no one at the paper was going to go off and look for any information.  However, I found both people.

Ellen Ora’s obituary apparently lists not only her husband and children – but her parents!!  Her obituary is located in the November 1, 1929 edition of the Banner, on pages 1 and 3.  I am no where near Knightstown so I can’t just go down to the local library and look it up.  The Banner people obviously have had enough of “genealogy” people complaining about things so they won’t be able to help me.  What I really need is someone to go to the local Knightstown library or the Henry County Genealogical Society and look up the obituary – since I’ve provided date and page – and be able to at least give me the parents’ names.  That would be a big help and a wonderful gift. 

So in the meantime, I will continue to scour the census records to see if I can find Ellen Johnson, Ora Johnson, or Ellen O. Johnson (perhaps Ella Nora – depending on what the census taker heard and wrote down).

Stay tuned for more!

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In my post a year ago, My Nash Connections, I mentioned my 3rd great-grandparents – Alexander and Elsy Nash. Elsy’s maiden name has been reported to be Winninger or Winger – and several variations of those names. With my Ancestry subscription that came with my new Family Tree Maker software, I thought I’d do some more digging.

Clicking the “leaf” next to Alexander’s name brought up seven different records.  The very first one was the Pennsylvania (PA) Minesinger Family Tree.  It listed Alexander’s wife as Elsie Minesinger.  Well, it was a start.  I had to start checking that information out and see what documentation I could find before believing that Minesinger was the maiden name I’d been looking for.

There were no source citations listed for their marriage and the citations listed for Elsie’s birth and residence came from a census after her marriage to Alexander.  Still nothing that answered any questions.  Elsie’s parents were listed as Joseph Minesinger and Christina.  Since Christina had been Alexander and Elsie’s daughter’s name, and the reason my grandmother’s middle name was Christena, I thought it was a clue.  However, I also knew that whoever put together that information, could have just deduced the woman’s name was Christina.

Since most of Alexander and Elsy’s children were born in Henry County, Indiana, I knew that the couple had moved there from Pennsylvania.  Looking to see if there were any other Minesinger families in the Henry County area – perhaps a purported sibling of Elsy, I found John Minesinger living two doors away from Alexander and Elsy in the 1850 US Census for Henry County.  In the 1860 Census, they are shown right next to each other and again 2 doors away in the 1870 Census.  There is also a “Christean Minesinger” buried in Lebanon Baptist Cemetery – which is where Alexander, Elsy and three of their children are buried. 

It’s not enough information for documentation that Minesinger is the Elsy’s maiden name – but it’s more than I had a year ago.  I will continue to search for other records – church, christening, etc. until I am satisfied that I am on the right track.

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