Saturday, January 20, 2018

When It's Time to Pass it On


Learning the story of family historian Alice Sharp Greer sounds a somber note for those who fear they may find themselves in the same situation as she did. Without family to whom we can pass along our work, we have no idea what will become of it.

Many of us have devoted years to compiling the story of our family's past, and may currently house multiple binders, photograph albums, books, working papers (you know, those "notes to self" about discoveries that never panned out) and miscellaneous keepsakes of both relatives beloved and never-met. These documents and ephemera are precious in our sight...but maybe not in the eyes of others.

The question becomes: what happens to our research when we're gone?

That's a question we almost wince to answer. Some of the bravest of us, however, have tackled the question.

In answering that question, my "genealogy angel" and mentor, Sheri Fenley, observed in her blog, The Educated Genealogist, "What happens to my research when I am gone? Well, this is all up to you. Yes, you can have it your way, but you have to have a way to let [your family] know." Sheri suggested the route of drafting a codicil, specific to genealogical materials, to attach to one's will.

Prolific genealogy commentator Dick Eastman grappled with this subject last year in his Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter, reminding us that "Someday, somebody will have to dispose of all that material." Perhaps the bluntness of that remark is what is needed to prod us to not only realistically face the fact, but take action.

For those lacking the direction on what specific action to take, Thomas MacEntee went to lengths to prepare the useful e-book, After You're Gone: Future Proofing Your Genealogy Research, urging his readers to take action now. (He also offers a one hour presentation by this same title.)

You know there are horror stories out there. In James Tanner's Genealogy's Star blog, nearly five years ago, he shared the story of his great-grandmother, who, like Alice Greer,
spent a good part of her life doing genealogy, but when I started my own genealogical research, years after her death, I could find almost no evidence of her activity. After years of research, I finally found that all of her files had been sitting...in my Aunt's basement

Stories like that are what prompted Arlene Eakle of Tremonton, Utah, to take action. As she tells it on the website for The Genealogy Library Center, Inc.,
Several years ago, after speaking at the Southern California Genealogical Jamboree, my associate...and I stopped at a Safeway Store...to get some food for lunch. Instead of re-entering traffic on such a busy street, we drove around the back of the store to use a side street. In the middle of the alley in front of the dumpster, there was a large plastic bag. I stopped to move it out of the way rather than drive over it. The bag was full of someone’s genealogy manuscripts and family recordsa handwritten diary, family letters, original photographs, family history notes. I felt a cold shiver!

When other "cold shiver" incidents of the same type kept happening to her, Arlene found a way to buy a building to house these genealogical cast-offs, giving them a home and a way to be found by family members who do care about such material. And she continues to accept material from others whose life work is not gladly claimed by their own family.

There are other options for finding a home for your research, of course. Many people have considered approaching the country's prime genealogical library, as Dick Eastman mentioned, but material accepted into the collection at the Family History Library at Salt Lake City must meet stringent requirements. Likewise, especially for those living farther east, an option might be the Genealogy Center at the Allen County Public Libraryagain, a prime destination for genealogical researchers—yet donations to their collection will likely go through a vetting process before being accepted.

Some have prudently narrowed their scope and focused on more local repositories. But, as James Tanner mentioned in his post on the topic, even local genealogical societies, historical societies and public libraries have limitations on the size and standards of their collection.

About the most lucid thinking I've come across on resolving this dilemmafor all those finding themselves headed toward the same predicament as family historian Alice Greercame in the form of a five year old post on the blog of researcher Michael Tormey. Michael fingered the root of the problem as a misdirected focus when sharing our research with family members.
One way to improve the odds that your research materials will survive is to change the focus of your research. The reason many family members see genealogy as boring is because family group sheets, pedigree charts, birth certificates and death certificates ARE boring.

His advice?
If you really want others to see value in your research efforts, you need to bring your research to life. This means that you need to flesh out the details of not just when your ancestors were born and when they died, but how the lived, why they made the decisions they did, what their beliefs and values were, etc. These are the things that make one’s ancestry a heritage or a legacy.

In other words,
make sure that others understand the value you place on your genealogy and historical records and to take proactive steps to preserve them before they meet a similar fate at the hands of a family member who simply sees them as redundant and useless records of the past.

Granted, while you can exert a certain amount of control over what becomes of your life's work when you, yourself, are the one who is prudently downsizing, there is no way you can control what happens after you are gone. True, with even the best of efforts, your files may be counted as "personal effects" of no monetary value and tossed, along with the other collectibles of sentimental value to no one but yourself. But there are options that, with the same research prowess you invested into breaking through those impenetrable brick walls, you can tailor to match your genealogical donation with the right placeor persondesignated to be their recipient.
   

Friday, January 19, 2018

More to This Story . . .


It all started because someone took the time to write the names on the back of a photo.

And so it is that the story of William and Kate Hopkins' photograph became the story of Alice Sharp Greer, and eventually also the story of Lee, the current researcher who is picking up the pieces passed along of the Hopkins family history.

In reflecting over this whole experiencethe photograph in California that connected me with Lee in Minnesota about a couple from KentuckyLee made the observation at the beginning of this post.

You may have been wondering about a gap in this story of Alice Sharp Greer's family history records, considering that she died in 1966 and this is now 2018. What happened to all of Alice's carefully compiled records in the interim?

That, in itself, is another story. Lee's mother-in-law was downsizing and needed help with the process of getting everything ready to move into a smaller apartment. As Lee remembers it,
I pulled a large box out of a closet and asked what to do with it. She couldn't even remember what was in it. Opening it was like opening a time capsule. It was a box full of family treasures handed down from another Hopkins ancestor who had no children and each object had a carefully written note attached to it explaining what it was and who had owned it. Lots of names, dates, photos, Alice Greer's 1931 letter and a one-page genealogy of the family were in the box. For someone who loves antiques and old photos as I do, it was a gold mine. This family came to life for me out of the box and I felt it my calling to keep their memory alive.

We gain encouragement from others as we learn their story. We certainly can empathize with Alice's situation, one in which there was no one to whom the treasured family discoveries could be entrusted. As it turned out in Alice's case, there was a gap of years before that treasure was rediscovereda hiatus enough to make us genealogists hold our breath, if not give up hope entirely for recovery. But somehow, in the end, things did turn out differently and the family's story was rescued.

This sort of experience, once shared, gives us the faith that, in the end, things will work out. As Lee reflected in an email to me after yesterday's post,
I will leave a box twenty or thirty years from now in a closet and hope for the right person to find it.

Some of us already know who will take up our research after we are no longer able to do it. But for those who struggle with the possibility of seeing that life's work abandoned to an unknown fate, it certainly is encouraging to know that sometimesmaybe more often than we realizethere will be someone to take up the call and continue our work.

After all, a family's story is never done.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Being the Bridge
to Connect Past with Future


From time to time, I run across fellow genealogy enthusiasts who share their one disappointment with me: that they have no one to whom they can pass their decades worth of family history research. Here they have invested multiple hours of a lifetime, devoting it to the premise that the family's multi-generational story is too valuable to loseand yet, due to various circumstances, that is precisely what threatens to happen.

There are reasons for the threat of such a loss. For some, no one else in the family is even remotely interested in those relatives of a bygone era whom they had never met and never cared to know. For other, though, there is no family to take an interest in the researcher's life work.

Such was the case of Alice Sharp Greer, niece of the subject of the abandoned family photograph I found in an antique shop in northern California. When I learned about her from Lee, the family history researcher to whom I offered to send William and Kate Hopkins' found photograph from Kentucky, I began to see Alice take shape as an encouragement for all those who are in the same position.

As Lee mentioned to me in our ongoing email correspondence, Alice had no children of her own. Granted, she had some nieces and nephews, but as many of us discover, that is no guarantee that those members of the next generation will take up the mantle we feel so strongly about.

Alicethe "family genealogist," as Lee put ithad a unique opportunity to pursue her calling over the years. It was thanks to her husband's business, coupled with her ability to travel with him on his rounds, while she detoured during business hours to conduct some research of her own. According to Lee,
Alice Greer's husband was a traveling salesman from Kansas City whose territory was western U.S. On his letterhead it says Materials Equipment EngineerCasters, Trucks, Lift-Trucks, Pallet Lift-Trucks, Conveyors.

While John Harry Greer was busy at his occupation, Alice was busy sending out letters of inquiry in that era far removed from today's online conveniences. Relentlessly, it seems, at least from Lee's description:
Alice sent out many letters of inquiry on the family history on her husband's business letterheadJ. Harry Greer. I have one of these letters from 1931 and amazingly enough, a woman found another one from 1951 in her mother's papers and sent it to me, providing me a great deal of new information about the Hopkins [family], which I have been relentlessly researching ever since.

Those letters Alice sent out in 1931 and 1951 were only two examples of the many she wrote in her pursuit of the family's history. Just like the one from 1951 that a woman found and returned to Lee, there are many more of Alice's letters out thereand Lee would love to find them. That plea is even posted on Alice's Find A Grave memorial. (You knew a researcher as dedicated as Lee would include volunteering for Find A Grave in a genealogical to-do list, didn't you?)

Eventually, despite surely still having some questions unanswered, it became time to pass that genealogical baton to someone else. Alice Sharp Greer passed away October 26, 1966, in Concord, Californiayes, in Contra Costa County, that place we've got our eye onand all her research came to a halt.

With no children to step up and continue Alice's legacy, that might have been the end of the story. But whether Alice knew this all along, or whether it was a circumstance that evolved after her passing, there was someone who turned out to be more than interested in taking up Alice's mantle: it was Lee. All the pedigree charts, all the family group sheetsand more important, all those irreplaceable letters from Alice to relatives, and Alice's extended family to each otherwere eventually passed along to someone who would take up where Alice left off.

And that is the encouragement Alice gifts us with, too, with her story. There will be someone to preserve our work, and to carry it forward. It just doesn't always come from the direction we'd expect. But however it comes to us, it transforms usand those who are willing to step up and take our placefrom a research dead end to a bridge that connects the treasures of our past with the family members in our future. 

 

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Crowdsourcing Our Research:
How We Sharpen Each Other's Skills


As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.

There are some things we "know" as researchersbut then go right on, acting as if we had forgotten what we know. That's when it helps to have a fellow researcher gently remind us to reach back into that store of what we need to remember.

That's how it was when I first connected with Lee in Minnesota, the Hopkins researcher who shared the old photograph of William Hopkins' drug store with us yesterday. In piecing together the possible story of how William and Kate Hopkins' photograph ended up in northern California, Lee offered a reasonable hypothesis: look for the connection one generation up and on the other side of the family.

As Lee explained,
We inherited a good deal of info on [the Hopkins family] from Alice Sharp Greer who was the family genealogist. She was the daughter of Adelia Hopkins Sharp who was William Bernard Hopkins' sister. Alice's last known residence was in Concord, Contra Costa County.

The minute Lee mentioned looking at William's siblings, I saw the error of my ways. I had presumed that the only family members who might have passed down a photograph of William and Kate would be relatives from Kate's side of the family. After all, Kate had died young, and William went on to raise a family with his second wife. While I should have known better than to remove anyone from my "suspects" list, I had prematurely narrowed my searchand thus, my results.

If, the minute you saw Lee's explanation that the Hopkins family genealogist Alice Sharp Greer had moved to Contra Costa County, bells went off in your mind, you are on the right track. However, we need not rush to conclusions on just whom the recipient of the Hopkins photograph was; as it turned out, there were other descendants who headed west to the same neighborhood, as well.

I was careful to heed that prompt by Lee, and built out a Hopkins family tree which provided a few other possibilities. Not only had Alice Sharp Greer moved to northern California, but so did her older sister Ruth and their brother William. Admittedly, these were descendants of only one of William Hopkins' siblings, but those nieces and nephew of William Hopkins introduced enough possibilities to explain how a photograph of a Kentucky couple would have made its way to California.

There is only one glitch in that assumption, though: Alice Sharp Greer had no children of her own. If she was the recipient of William and Kate Hopkins' photograph, who kept it between the time of Alice's passing in 1966 and the date, decades later, at which it ended up in the antique shop where I found it in Lodi, California?

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

What I Learned from Lee


It's always a delight to meet another researcher who shares that passion for genealogy. It's even better when I discover that researcher will truly value the orphaned photograph now being sent on its way home.

In the process of meeting and talking with Lee from Minnesotathe family history researcher whose tree on Ancestry.com convinced me this was the right person to receive the photograph of William and Katie HopkinsI learned a few things about that Hopkins couple that, with Lee's permission, I'd like to share.

The first time I encountered Lee's tree was through a hint on Ancestry. It was not for the ubiquitous shaky-leaf reminder to look at the other trees on the website, but it led me to a picture of William Hopkins in front of his drugstore.

Let me amend that: one of his drugstores. Thankfully, Lee had appended an explanation at Ancestry.com alongside the photograph (which you can see below):
William B. Hopkins owned drugstores in five states, but I believe this photo was taken in Kentucky around 1923. William B. Hopkins is the portly gentleman standing between the two women. I believe the younger woman on the left is his wife Katie Seeger Allen and the woman on the right is LeNorah (Dixon) Thornburg who became his second wife after Katie died in 1928. The young girl and older boy next to LeNorah are her Thornburg children, Ellen R. & John V.

Drugstores in five states? When I first saw that, I tried to do a search on the newspaper archive services I use, but nothing substantive came up, other than the Merck wedding mention that "Iggy" found for me a few days back. Now that Lee and I have connected, I wanted to ask a few more questions about the Hopkins businesses.

It was apparent from census records that William and Kate moved to locations other than Kate's home in Louisville. Could this have been due to William building his business? According to family members, William may also have had a store in Piqua, Ohio. In fact, at first, Lee was not sure whether the store photo was from Louisville or Piqua, but resolved the puzzle this way:
I got the brilliant idea to check the name (Denhard) on the side of the drug store building with names in Louisville and Piqua, Ohio. No Denhards in Ohio and lots of them in Louisville. Found a court case for Brooks Denhard who owned a surgical instrument company in Louisville. Makes sense to advertise on the side of a drug store. So I've decided the building in the photo is William's drug store in Louisville and not the one in Ohio.

It pays to pay attention to all the "superfluous" details you can find in a photograph. Not to mention, I'm sure it paidat least in William Hopkins' caseto have those ads put up on the side of his building. A clever businessman, indeed.

I picked up a few more ideas from Lee while we were discussing the Hopkins familylike where to look for the likely nexus that resulted in finding William and Kate Hopkins' photograph in Californiawhich we'll take a look at tomorrow.

In the meantime, off that photograph goes, on its way home to Minnesota!



Above: Photograph, circa 1923, of William Bernard Hopkins' Drugstore in Louisville, Kentucky; photograph in the possession of Hopkins family member Lee in Minnesota; used by permission.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Making its Way to California


As I repeat this process of rescuing orphaned photographs once again, I'm beginning to learn the patterns that shape these now-familiar results. First of all, for the three original mystery photographs I foundthe photo album from Ireland, the portrait of the Kansas salesman, and now, the picture of the young couple from Louisville, Kentuckyeach was sold by the same northern California antique shop. No matter where the item originated, its final resting place was in the city of Lodi, California.

Apparently, the place where the shopkeeper got each of these photographs was also a consistent location. I discovered that fact when I was first puzzling over how the Irish photo album ended up in a place as small as Lodi. The shop owner explained the process: hers was a consignment store, and she kept track of the various sellers through a simple code placed on the back of each item for sale.

Sure enough, looking on the back of the photo album, alongside the price was another entry: "#51." I cropped the image I used on this blog so as to cut the tag off the back of the photo for William and Kate Hopkins, but if you look closely, you can see the top of its slight mark just below the "g" in Seegar. Number 51, as it turned out, was the code for an antique distributor with whom our shopkeeper did businessand that dealer happened to live in the Bay area around Contra Costa County.

The trick is, of course, to find the nexus between the supplier's range of services and the extended Hopkins family's descendants. Somehow, that dealer number 51 needed to have come across an estate sale within (I suspect) driving range of the Bay area in northern California.

The catch is, as we've already mentioned, that William and Kate apparently had no children of their own. Furthermore, Kate's brother William Allen had no children who ventured out west, and it seemed unlikely that her half-siblings' descendants did, either. Since William Hopkins, after Kate's passing, had married a woman with children of her own, it seemed unlikely that that would be the line to cherish and pass down a photograph of William's previous wife. I wasn't sure which way to turn next in unraveling this puzzle.

However, someone popped up over the weekend to remind me that I neglected another obvious resource: the siblings of William Bernard Hopkins, himself.

That someone was named Leethe researcher in Minnesota whose Ancestry tree contained so much documentation on this entire family line. In addition, Lee passed along a few stories of the family in an email I received on Saturday, which prompted me to do some more searching on my own.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

A Leap Into a New Year


It wasn't on account of any special planning that I concluded my final biweekly review of 2017 on the very last day of the year; it just happened that way. Still, I wrapped up the year with 11,967 people in my mother's tree, 13,930 in my mother-in-law's tree, a puny 452 in my father's tree and 1,392 in my father-in-law's tree.

And then, I had to wait an entire two weeks before the next count. With that, the first month of the year is halfway over before I got to sit down and see where I was for my first tally of 2018.

There was a bit of paperwork to attend to, of course. I had to revamp my charts with this year's dates for each of those biweekly reports to come. And I needed to add columns to make provisions for my latest new project: DNA tests for both my husband and myself at MyHeritage. I bought the test kits during the company's Black Friday sale$49 per kit if I bought at least two of themso the results are not quite ready yet, but they will be, by the time I do my next report.

Since our family's holiday celebrations startedand thus, endedlater than usual, I wasn't exactly the most diligent of researchers for the past two weeks. I increased the count in my mother's tree by thirty five to reach 12,002, and my mother-in-law's tree by an even one hundred to reach 14,030. Once again, absolutely nothing of substance showed up on either my father's tree or my father-in-law's treea problem I'm determined to rectify this year.

Now that the holiday DNA sales results have started making their appearance on the tallies for the three companies where we've already tested, I'm hoping for some significant connections in the weeks ahead. As usual, we once again saw a decline in the numbers at 23andMethe ongoing mysteryso I now have 1,107 matches (down ten) and my husband has 1,164 (down seven). I'm up twenty six at Family Tree DNA and twenty three at Ancestry.com DNA, giving me 2,638 and 820 matches, respectively. My husband's tests jumped nineteen and thirteen to yield 1,682 at FTDNA and 420 at Ancestry. I expect those increases will hold steady for another few weeks. Here's hoping they include some significant connections.

January being a month in which people's thoughts often turn to new year's resolutions and plans, I can't really say I have any special projects waiting in the wings. My overall goal of fleshing out the details on each of the descendants of my third great grandparents (and my husband's, as well) is a massive endeavor and I am far from completing that. It may take me another year before I can declare that one anywhere close to being  accomplished. Even then, I may miss several dozen of our contemporaries. Before I take on any other research commitments, I want to do a thorough combing through all available documentation to insure that this goal has gotten the diligent attention it deserves. We have too much invested in all these DNA tests. If nothing else, we owe it to ourselves to do so.

That, however, doesn't mean I don't have other research dreams. Put on hold by recurrent issues, I still want to get to Florida to research my McClellan ancestors in tiny Wellborn, a trip which will require time spent at the state archives. I also want to follow up on the incredible story of John Syme Hogue, my grandmother's fourth cousinthe man with several alias and a rap sheet full of crimes committed throughout the mid-western United States and Canada. And I want to revisit the saga of that lost family photo album which recently found its way back home to Cork, Ireland.

With a research platter as full as this one, who needs to add any new projects? I think I'll have enough to keep me busy as it is for 2018.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Now Indexing: Illinois Church Records


It's the start of a new year, and I just realized I fell off the genealogical record indexing resolution bandwagon last month. I guess I was just having too much fun in December to remember my promises to myself.

Now, I'm back on track to start the year afresh. For a change of paceand, to be honest, I was looking for something I could race through with only half a brain engagedI decided to switch tracks. Instead of working on naturalization paperwork in the New York home of my paternal roots as I have for the past few months, I headed west to Chicago to see if I could provide a boost to research on my father-in-law's ancestors.

Of course, that brought on a steep learning curve. It seemed like there were pages and pages of instruction to read before I could even get started. And while clerks hired in the 1800s to work in government positions generally could be expected to display some semblance of neat handwriting, I haven't been able to say the same for clerics in the religious world. This, I found out, was bound to come back and slap me out of the running, just when I thought I was on a roll.

Lesson number one in this month's installment of indexing education: church records that qualify for indexing include births and baptisms, marriages, and deaths or burials. Not confirmations. Nor church business meetings.

So what do I encounter on my first page up? Confirmation records. Question: "Should this image be indexed?" Answer: "No." Boom! That wiped out an entire record, and the automatic confetti started falling from the top of my computer screen. Easy peasy. I felt so good about that one, I sprung for a repeat.

The next record set was for marriages. Despite the format asking for all sorts of details genealogists would love to get their hands onnames of parents for both bride and groom, not to mention even the city in which the ceremony was to take placedo you think the record provided any information so I could fill in those blanks? No. And so it repeated, times twelve, until I was able to submit that batch in record time, as well.

Figuring I was really on a roll now, perhaps I got a bit too cocky. I went for a third batch. That was my mistake. Bringing up a page of chicken scratch that looked vaguely like German, not Englishremember, this was in Illinois, the kind of good, flat farm country a German immigrant could pay good money forI took one look at the prospect in front of me and chickened out. Perhaps I had, after all, bitten off more than I could chew. Or at least process on FamilySearch's handy web-based indexing system.

Perhaps another time.

In the meanwhile, at least I'm back in the groove, reintroducing myself to the useful habit of regularly giving back to the genealogy community which has, for so many years, been so helpful to me in all my early attempts to discover my family's stories through the documents holding their names.



Above: "Winter Getaway," oil on canvas by Norwegian artist Axel Ender (1853 - 1920); courtesy Wikipedia; in the public domain.

Friday, January 12, 2018

No Children = No Grandchildren


It may seem like a no-brainer of a statement, but the fact that William and Kate Hopkins had no childrenat least none that any online documents revealedmeant that they had no grandchildren. In other words, there were no descendants who, upon their passing, had their belongings heaped into a pile which subsequently was disposed of by estate sale where they'd be distributed to those who might purchase on a whim a trifling token like an old photograph.

William did have step-children from a subsequent marriage, and Kate's brother and half-siblings also had children. But in none of their descendants did I find a path from their Kentucky location to any home near northern California, the place where I found the Hopkins photograph.

The easy part, of course, would have been if William and Kate, married in 1899, had children who, by the 1920s, would have had children of their own. These, easily, would have lived until perhaps the last ten years, when a quick search of the many now-online obituaries would have helped pinpoint which grandchild's estate might have included the very family photograph I'm now holding in my own hands. But it isn't working out that way.

Not that I have another ten to twenty mystery photographs burning a hole in my genealogical pocket, but I decided to take the quick-and-easy way out: I looked up the other Ancestry subscribers who are researching this couple. From that resource, I looked at their publicly-displayed trees and selected the one which seemed to evidence the most meticulous research style.

And then, I wrote a letter.

The message was simple: Hi, I'm a fellow researcher, and I found this photo you might be interested in. If it's your family, I'd be happy to send it to you. Just let me know.

Easy. All except for the waiting part. I really want to talk to this particular researcher, who happens to have posted another photograph of William and Kate that I would love to be able to share with you.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Getting Here From There


If the subjects of that photograph I found in a northern California antique store lived and died in Kentucky, how did their picture get here? Before I can find an appropriate (and unsuspecting) candidate upon whom to bestow the rescued photograph, I need to figure out just how William and Kate Hopkins' relativesor maybe friendshad come to be its recipient.

There are, I have noticed, several Ancestry.com subscribers who include either William Bernard Hopkins or his wife, Kate Seegar Smith-Allen Hopkins, in their family tree. Some, however, use that company's less-than-helpful device of affixing other tree entries into their own, thus preventing me from discovering the true source of their information. I prefer to look for someone who has done their own homeworkthus, someone whose paper trail helps me see the documented connection from the present to the past.

Barring enough leads from these other trees to see the connection from Kentucky to California, the next best thing is to build out a tree of our own.

Looking at the Hopkins family from the point of their marriagein Louisville in 1899through the rest of their brief lives, one thing was clear: according to census records, they moved at least once every decade. A wedding announcement in a business publicationbrought to my attention through the research prowess of one of our readers, "Intense Guy"mentioned briefly that
William Berbard [sic] Hopkins, a well-known young druggist of Louisville, and Miss Katie Smith Allen, of Lagrange, were recently married at the home of the bride's parents. Mr. Hopkins has opened a store at Smithland, Ky., and the young people will go there to live.

That was according to Merck's Report for December, 1899, one month after the Hopkins wedding. Less than a year later, however, the 1900 census counted them as residents of New Albany, Indiana, just across the river from Louisville, a good two hundred miles from Smithland.

Long commute.

Another interesting detail emerged. William, whose report in the 1900 census appeared on the page preceding his wife's entry, was indeed shown as a "druggist." However, by the time of the subsequent enumeration, William and Kate were living farther away from Kentucky in a boarding home in Seymour, Indiana, where he was shown as merely a clerk in a drug store. Another ten years later, the couple was finally back home in Louisville, where things seemed to be looking up: William was now listed as a pharmacist in a drug store, and Kate was working alongside him as a "sales lady," presumably at the same establishment.

By the time of the 1940 census, neither William nor Kate showed in the records. Kate was long gone by that point, having died in 1928. William, married again by the time of the 1930 census, subsequently passed away in 1935

There was one more detail about that sprint through the decades of census records: in none of those reports did the Hopkins couple report any dependents. Scratch that chance to trace any children from Kentucky to California. If the picture arrived in my hands via a family member, it would have to be through a more distant relationship.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Coming to a Consensus


I'm never quite sure of the information I find on death certificates, so what do I do? Look for other death certificates to verify the details of the earlier ones.

While this doesn't seem to make sense, there is a certain comfort in finding agreement between records that otherwise would have no connection—at least by sequence or by location, for instance. The only connection would be that the two people mentioned in these disparate documents would be linked by common parents.

Remembering that our Kate Seegar Smith-Allen Hopkins (phew, what a mouthful!) had an older brother, that is exactly who I went looking up next. Since the detail I wanted to confirm was that Kate's parents were Charles L. Allen and his wife, Elizabethnot Addieher brother William, four years her senior, should likely display the same names for his parents. Right?

We already saw from the 1880 censusprovided, of course, that we found the right household of their father Charles Allenthat Kate's brother William was born in Kentucky around 1876. However, when we rush to the other end of brother William's life, we find that his death certificate is of no help in confirming the names of the siblings' parents. For William's father, we do find a reassuring confirmation of his middle initial, if nothing elseL, not Abut perhaps since his mother died when he was so young, it is not surprising to learn that there was nothing on that line for the form, other than "not known."

Ah, the dreaded unknown. I have faced off with that foe before. I'm not ready to quit yet.

And so it was that, poking through every other document I could find, I eventually came across a December 28, 1897, marriage record for young William and his bride, Martha B. Tillman. Listing himself as W. H. Allen, the twenty one year old merchant, by then living in Oldham County, Kentucky, revealed that his father was indeed Charles Allen, and his mother was Elizabeth Smithyes, Smith without that awkward Smidth spelling that had appeared in his sister Kate's death certificate so many years later.

Just to make sure I really, really, did have the right family named, I swung by the Find A Grave record for Cave Hill Cemetery in Louisville, where I found there was really no doubt who the parents were for Kate and her older brother. Though the memorial for Charles had a note inserted which explained that his wife's name was "Adelaine," if you look closely at the impressive monument erected in the family plot, it is quite clear which wife was acknowledged there. It was "Lizzie, wife of C. L. Allen." 

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

On the Far End of a Short Life


Now that we've found a baby Kate Allen in the 1880 Louisville household of one Charles Allenand discovered his wife's name, at least at that time, was ElizabethI wanted to rush to the other end of Kate's life to see whether our Kate, the one now married to William Bernard Hopkins, was the same Kate who claimed these parents. Perhaps I've attended one too many lectures on exhaustive searches, but somehow the research paranoia has become ingrained in me.

It wasn't too far into Kate's future that it took to find my document goal. Kate apparently suffered from hypertensive heart disease and had suffered two bouts of cerebral hemorrhage. The second attack took her life.

She was laid to rest in an unidentified cemetery in Louisville, Kentucky, shortly after her passing on March 28, 1928. She was forty eight years of age.

Fortunately for our search, Kate's death certificate was easily located on Ancestry.com, showing that the informant was her husband, William B. Hopkins. Even so, I've found that the closest of relatives can often make the greatest of mistakes in completing the information to be used in a death certificatehence, my drive to find additional confirmation of any detail noted in such a record. While I am certainly willing to concede that family members are often under the greatest of emotional stress at the timeand understandably can make mistakesI still prefer to find supporting records for each assertion built into my tree.

As it turns out, the report on Kate's death certificate provided the mother's maiden name we are seekingand it wasn't Addie's, as we suspected, but Elizabeth's name. While Kate's mother's maiden name may explain the source of Kate's own hyphenated (or at least appended) maiden name of Smith-Allen, the odd thing was that the certificate provided an unusual spelling: Smidth.

Now I know spelling was not the big deal it is today, and that prior centuries certainly took their liberties with spelling creativity. But Smidth? Really? I mean, after all, what more common surname could you come up with than Smith?!

That may have tipped my concern when I looked up to the previous line and realized that Kate's father wasn't Charles L. Allen, as we had been told in other records, but Charles A. Allen. Frustrating. My future research path was now sealed: I had to look for another confirmation of Kate's parentsjust in case I had the wrong Kate or Charles Allen.



Above: Excerpt from Kate Smith-Allen Hopkins' Pike County, Kentucky, 1928 death certificate showing the curious spelling of her mother's maiden name, and the small discrepancy of her father's middle initial; image courtesy Ancestry.com.

Monday, January 8, 2018

An Earlier Glimpse of Kate


In searching for information on the couple featured in a photograph I found in a northern California antique shop, I'm still at the early stages of confirming the identity given on the back of the cabinet card. We can presume the photograph was taken in Louisville, Kentucky, and thanks to someone's thoughtful thoroughness, the names of the two subjects were handwritten on the reverse. We've already located a marriage record which seems likely to belong to that named couple, William Bernard and Kate Allen-Smith Hopkins, including names of the two witnesses.

Those witnesses may have been a husband and wife living in Louisville at the time, named Charles and Addie Allen. They were of an age, according to the 1900 census, to be more likely Kate's parents than a married sibling, except for one detail: Addie had only been married to Charles for twelve years, but Kate was already twenty years of age.

Had I located the wrong C. L. and Addie Allen?

I decided to take the easiest of two possible routes as my first attempt to verifyor rule outthis Charles Allen as Kate's father. I looked for an earlier record that would contain both Charles and a daughter named Kate in Louisville.

Moving backwards in time from the 1900 census, of course, lands us in that murky twenty year gap between two existing federal enumerations. But in 1880—our next option, as well as the very date the married Kate Hopkins declared as the year she was bornthere was a household containing a Charles Allen with a baby daughter named Kate. True to the later report, that earlier census record indicated the baby was born in February. And Charles declared the same occupation in both records, that of carpenter.

In the household, besides baby Kate, we find an older brother named William, who was born four years prior.



Most important, we learn that Charles' wife's name, in 1880, was not Addie, but Elizabeth. If we have the right household, that would mean that Elizabeth was likely the one who was Kate's mother.

Genealogy being genealogyand I being the doubtful researcher that I amI can't just leave it at that, though. What if I have the wrong C. L. Allen? After all, his name could have been Carl. Or Calvin. There are any number of possibilities. And we all know how perennially popular a name like Kate has been.

With that in mind, as I mentioned the other day, not only was it likely that I would pursue both of my research options, but it is precisely what I will do next. And, that done, I have a funny feeling I might want even more verification than that.

Next step: fast forward to the other end of Kate's life.


Above: Excerpt from the 1880 U.S. Census for Louisville, Kentucky, courtesy of FamilySearch.org.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Off the Shelf: The Foundling


Yes, I talked about books yesterday, but those were not volumes from off my shelfyet. I do have a book I've been wanting to talk about for months, now. Only thing is: it's been on someone else's shelf for the past six months. Now, finally, it's my turn.

I had heard the buzz about Paul Joseph Fronczak's The Foundling way back in the spring and wanted to get myself a copy. True procrastinator that I am, I somehow managed to put off buying it for so long that, during a trip last summer, I emailed my daughter and asked her to save me from myself and purchase it for me.

She did, thinking I was sending her one gigantically obvious hint about what I wanted for Christmas. (What I was really concerned about was not placing a credit card order over someone else's wifi system while I was traveling.)  It took me a long time, after arriving back home, before I realized something was missing: the book.

It did up being slated as my Christmas present. At least that was her intention. But then, since my daughter had held it so long, she forgot to wrap it and give it to me. Thankfully, just as the family was leaving me to spend some vacation time down south with The Mouse (I'm not a fan, though I will agree to spend time at his flagship hotel while my husband attends conferences there), she managed to get the book to me. And thus, I spent this past Saturday lounging around at home, glued to the pages of this story.

Of course, it might not be a surprise to anyone who realizes that I am fascinated by genetic genealogy that I really enjoyed reading Fronczak's memoir. I totally lost track of time while I was readingthankfully on a day when I had nothing else scheduleduntil, nearly halfway through the book, I realized I hadn't yet had breakfast.

It was then three in the afternoon.

As the subtitle of the book reveals, the narrative involves a kidnapping, child abandonment, adoption, and a deep sense of not fitting in. It's not really a book about researching genealogy or testing DNA, though those details fit firmly into the plot line and give the author a chance to mention names we genealogists readily recognize, like Crista Cowan and CeCe Moore. The book is biographical and historical, recounting as background information one of the most sensationaland widely publicizedkidnapping cases ever to occur in this country.

Beside the parts of the story that any genealogist would find riveting, the author's frank observations about what was unfolding as he pursued his central questionwho am I, really?serve to point out realities of DNA testing that some rosy optimists might prefer to ignore: that not all discoveries made through the power of DNA matching lead to stories which end with that tag line, "happily ever after." As Bill Griffeth, author of a similar DNA story, The Stranger in My Genes, observed, revelations uncovered through DNA testing can have a profound impact on even the most willing subject.

The narrative contains several twists and turns, something you might expect from a crime novel. And though this is definitely not fictionthis is the story of Fronczak's own experienceit does involve not just one mystery, but two. I certainly found the book well worth the wait, and I suspect you will, tooonly I don't advise waiting quite so long to get your hands on your own copy.



 


Saturday, January 6, 2018

Getting to Epiphany


In that magical winter wonderland world in which I grew up, Christmas lasted much longer than the twenty-four-hour span of time marking December 25. Besides the fact that we often found ourselves snowed in, at some time in the midst of those twelve days of Christmas, it was nice to enjoy the ambience and relax after the frenzy of gift giving.

Last night marking Twelfth Night, today is denoted in the Christian church calendar as Epiphanya day representing a concept co-opted by many outside the church world to designate a "sudden manifestation or perception of the essential nature or meaning of something."

I don't know about you, but I'd much rather have an instant realization about an enigmatic situation than have to struggle to understand something far out of my league. Yet, we often forget that, in those days preceding the arrival of the Magi on Epiphany came a long journey of plodding progress. That step-by-step work can be hard sloggingand the payoff to all the effort is not always guaranteed.

At the beginning of a new year, we all have hopes of getting to an "instant" realization: that we've improved our status, gained a financial windfall, lost all that weight, written that bookor, as one monthly goal-setting exercise in a curriculum I once used put it, "learn a foreign language."

Some things are just not sized right for instant revelation. We have to put in the work.

Perhaps it's no surprise that, in the aftermath of failed New Year's resolutions, the book publishing world suffers a spate of new titles promising to fix what went wrong with this year's good intentions. Former publishing CEO and current entrepreneur Michael Hyatt just launched Your Best Year Ever: A 5-Step Plan for Achieving Your Most Important Goals. Beating him to the punch, author and speaker Jon Acuff issued his spin on the dilemma in time for the 2017 holiday shopping season with Finish: Give Yourself the Gift of Done. And though his latest book didn't address the topic directly, writer Jeff Goins has tackled the problem both on his blog and through his free 31-Day Writing Challenge offer to shepherd other writers on toward success.

While Acuff fingers the root of the problem as a symptom of perfectionism and Hyatt points to big goals being upstaged by day-to-day minutiae, both rely on up-to-date research findings to expound what they consider counter-intuitive solutions to rescue your next big idea from failure.

Bite sized pieces, as Goins found, may well be the answer. He designed a program to encourage people to just sit down and do the one small thing today which will eventually add up to a finished project. Then, rinse and repeat. Simpleall except for the grunt work.

It takes consistency to climb that mountain, it turns out, not just the seemingly sudden arrival at fame and fortuneor even understanding. 



Above: "The Adoration of the Magi," 1904 tapestry designed by Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones; courtesy Wikipedia via the Google Cultural Institute and Musée d'Orsay; in the public domain.

Friday, January 5, 2018

Identifying the Witnesses


The best thing about finding an "orphaned" photo is, of course, that we get to find a way to escort it back home to family who would appreciate receiving it.

If that were the only thing I was doing with the photographs I find in antique stores, it would be a straightforward exercise of discovering the names of currently-living descendants to contact with the main question: "Do you want the picture I found?"

But I'm not doing that.

What I am doingstory-obsessed researcher that I amis going a step beyond that. I don't just want to find the photo subjects' family. I want to discover their story. Who they were. What became of them. And how their picture ended up in an antique store miles from where they once lived.

And then I find that likely candidate and send the photo home.

With William Bernard Hopkins and his wife Kate, we've found a possible hit with the discovery, yesterday, of a marriage record in Louisville, Kentucky. But, as we've already learned, even a name as elegant-sounding as William Bernard Hopkins can have doubles. And finding a maiden name for a popular woman's moniker like Kate only helps if it isn't something as common as Allen. Or worse (in case she was previously married), Smith.

To see the witnesses to the marriage of William Bernard Hopkins and Kate Seegar Smith-Allen listed on the document was indeed a bonus. In the city of Louisville, Kentucky, we notice the witnesses were named as C. L. Allen and Addie Allen. A first guess might be that these two Allens were siblings of the bride; that is often the case. Another possibility might be that C. L. Allen was the sibling and Addie was his wife.

So we head to the records to see if we can find any combo of C. L. Allen and Addie Allen in the most recent census record. For a wedding occurring on November 9, 1899, the closest census would have been enumerated in 1900. You knew that. And here is what we found:



Right away, we can see that we have problems. While Charles L. Allen could very well be the "C. L." Allen mentioned as witness to Kate's wedding ceremony, and while this also ushers in the confirmation that Addie was his wife, not sister, he and Addie had only been married for twelve years, themselves.

Disabuse yourself of the notion that Kate Allen was a child bride; in her own appearance in that same 1900 censusalbeit not in Louisville, but across the river in prosperous New Albany, Indianashe gave her date of birth as February, 1880. Besides, going back to Charles and Addie Allen's 1900 record, it looks like Addie had a son named Clay Kennedy, whom she stated was born in March of 1879only eleven months prior to Kate's own birth.

Granted, it is possible for a woman to give birth to two children within the stretch of one (surely wearying) year, but knowing that fact gives us one more problem: if Addie was married in 1879 to Clay Kennedy's father, why would that subsequent birth only eleven months later be to a man surnamed Allen, not Kennedy?

That's why I like the handy details included in the 1900 census. We can tell, just from this census entryassuming I have the right C. L. Allenthat Kate Allen either had a mother who passed away before Addie's marriage to Kate's father in 1888, or I need to keep looking for another C. L. and Addie Allen.

There are, of course, other ways to short-circuit this tedious research process. I could flip to the back of the book and spill the beans on Kate's demise in hopes that I can both find an online record of her death certificate and that it will contain accurately and completely provided information, or I could hunt for the next, earlier census record which includes a C. L. Allen as father of Kate andhopefully—include the big reveal on the name of Kate's mother.

Ornot one to dither over choicesI could go ahead and do both. 


Above image excerpt from the U.S. census for Louisville, Kentucky, in 1900 courtesy FamilySearch.org.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

On Their Wedding Day


In looking at the writing affixed to the photo I found at a northern California antique shop, it was clear what the name of the couple wasat least for the man. William Bernard Hopkins, whoever he was, had a wife named Kate. Whether Kate's full name was Katy Seegar Smith-Allen, as the next hand-written entry on the reverse of the photo mentioned, I couldn't yet be sure.

However, going on the hunch that the cabinet card was produced at a studio in Louisville, KentuckyI couldn't quite be sure, since an ugly water stain made reading the embossed identification difficultI looked at documents from the area to see what could be found.

With cabinet cards, it is sometimes difficult to pinpoint a time frame. While there are some guides for estimating photograph dates based on frame styles, they are rather vague, so figuring just when William or Katy were bornor marriedbecame an inexact guess.

As it turned out, though, there was a marriage record for a couple with these same names. Someone by the name of "Wm B. Hopkins" married a woman called Katie Smith Allen at Louisville, Kentucky on November 9, 1899. I'd call that close enough to our couple to count as verification.

With this one document, not only do we find a likely match for our search, but we also find an additional set of hints: the two witnesses listed also bear the same surname as William Hopkins' bride: Allen.

Just on the off chance that there was more than one William Hopkins in a city of over two hundred thousand people, we might want to check out what can be found not only about William's bride, but whether our Katy Smith-Allen was one and the same as this one. Using C. L. and Addie Allen as a gauge will come in handy as we work through this process, especially considering that the bride's name, Smith Allen, might have indicated a previously married woman. Could her maiden name actually have been Smith, rather than Allen?

Having found this recordif it is indeed of our couplealso helps us narrow the date range for this photograph. It's unlikely that the couple sat for their picture much before the date of their wedding, though we can't yet ascertain how much afterwards the portrait might have been taken. But it should be safe to say it dated no farther back than about 1899.



Above: a portion of the marriage record for William B. Hopkins and Katie Smith Allen, courtesy Ancestry.com in collaboration with FamilySearch.org.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Meet the Newlyweds


If it weren't for the fact that the names of the couple featured in an old photograph I found were so neatly inscribed on the back, my latest orphan photo project might not have seemed so promising. To start with, the couple's surname was Hopkins, a fairly common name. In addition, the location of the photography studio where they sat for their likeness, over one hundred years ago, was nearly obliterated from the frame by some unfortunately-placed water stains.

Still, it seems likely that the imprint for the studio said "Louisville, Ky." for the locationof course, I could have seen that wrongand the full names given included the maiden name of the woman. What more could a researcher ask?

So today, we get to meet William Bernard Hopkins and his wifeoh, help me with this one, since the handwriting slipped a bit on her extra long nameKaty Seegar (Siegar?) Smith-Allen.



At least, I presume that is William's wifeif Kate is one and the same as Katy. I've seen people do the strangest thing with the photographs they later attempt to label for benefit of younger family members. Of course, at this point, with as little as we know about them, these could have been brother and sister. Assumptions can be very misleading, but otherwise, how would we be able to form a working hypothesis with which to launch our research?

Now that you've had the opportunity to meet the couple, we'll start tomorrow by pursuing any Louisville, Kentucky marriage recordsor, for that matter, any other Hopkins records in that cityto see what we can find.




Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Wrapping up Some Unfinished Business


While it is true that I have several photographic treasures gotten during that recent trip up to the California foothillsthink Gold Rush territorythose little gems will have to wait until I attend to some unfinished business from a past excursion. You see, along with that Irish photo album and the portrait of the Kansas salesman, I had purchased a third photograph from that other northern California antique store a few years back. That photograph had as its two subjects a man and a woman.

It's about time this couple gets their moment of discovery here. So, as excited as I am to review all the cache from that recent outing, those pictures will simply have to wait until we attend to this unfinished business.

While I am still hot in pursuit of the family tree of this week's subjects, there are a few things I can share about this latest photograph. For one thing, the format is that of a cabinet cardwell, sort of. Unlike the typical cabinet card, the dimensions for this card measure about six inches by eight inches.

While the photo itself is well preserved, the bordera nondescript brownish grayseems to have endured a couple water stains, one diagonally placed across each of the lower corners of the card. The difficulty with that awkward placement means that the only identification for the photographerand thus, the location of the studiowas rendered even less readable than its understated, embossed appearance would normally have allowed.

And you know my eyes don't take kindly to treatment like that.

Aided by a magnifying glass in the brightest light I could muster, I thought I saw the barest outline of a line that saidmaybe"Louisville, Ky." I'll buy thatmainly because I don't have much of an option.

While lack of a location may seem frustrating, there are other useful parts to the equation in figuring out just who the couple in this photograph might have been. One of those variables in such a searchthe biggest part, I think you'd agreewould be provision of the subjects' names. In this case, the photo provides us the gift of full names for both the husband and the wife (yes, including her maiden name).

The down side is that the surname is rather common: Hopkins. And the man's given nameWilliamdidn't provide much help.

Perhaps now you can see why I was hoping to narrow the search down to a more reasonable scope by means of a specific city.

Regardless of that slight damage to the cabinet card's imprint, it turns out there is enough of a hint provided through those three variables to start us on our hunt. Tomorrow, we'll take a look at the photograph and examine some of the preliminary discoveries about this couple from over one hundred years ago. Hopefully, by the time we are done, we'll see another rescued photograph off on its journey back home to family.  

Monday, January 1, 2018

New Year's Calling


There was a time, oh, about a century or two past, when it was fashionable for friends and family to go calling on New Year's Day. In the flurry of activity from mid morning to mid afternoon, families and, most often, single men would take a carriage ride from house to house to visit as many of their acquaintances—in the case of the gentlemen, to the home of notable single women—as could be managed in the allotted time frame.

I first learned about that quaint custom through a passage in a book by Louisa May Alcott, Rose in Bloom:
     Old Miss Campbell was nearly as great a favorite as young Miss Campbell, so a succession of black coats and white gloves flowed in and out of the hospitable mansion pretty steadily all day. The clan was out in great force, and came by in installments to pay their duty to Aunt Plenty and wish the compliments of the season to "our cousin." Archie appeared first…. Hardly was he gone when Will and Geordie came marching in, looking as fine as gray uniforms with much scarlet piping could make them and feeling peculiarly important, as this was their first essay in New Year's call-making. Brief was their stay, for they planned to visit every friend they had….    
                                           
That was the very entry which inspired my first-ever New Year's blog post, back in 2012. On that occasion, I had envisioned the day's digital calling as a visit to the blogs of those I considered my mentors during that first year of A Family Tapestry, and shared links to their blogs.

This year, in my Auld Lang Syne season, I've re-imagined that New Year's holiday-inspired event as one in which we gather together with old "acquaintances" we've met, courtesy of cast-off photographs. And we have made a few "calls" already, revisiting the stories of the Hawkes and Reid families from County Cork, Ireland, and the contacts I've since received this year inquiring about various individuals featured in their photo album from 1936. We've also revisited the story of John Syme Hogue and a contact I received from one of his relatives this past summer.

For today's remembrance, though, I wanted to save the story of what became of the photograph of John Cunningham Blain, the unfortunate Kansas salesman who lost his life a few days after being struck by a locomotive back in 1908. As you may remember, I found his photograph from Walnut, Kansas, in a northern California antique shop a few years ago, and only in the past month decided to pursue the man's story in hopes of returning the picture to family members who would appreciate receiving it.

As it turned out, it was not at all a difficult task to locate a close relative who most certainly would welcome receiving the hundred year old picture. Two Ancestry.com subscribers—a mother and her daughter—who were researching that same family turned out to be close family members. I returned the little treasure by mail just before Christmas.

What I didn't mention, though, was the plan this relative had in store, once she received the package. The photo, as it turned out, was not something she intended to keep for herself, but one which she decided to re-purpose as a Christmas gift for someone else.

You see, one of John Blain's own grandchildren is still alive and happened to be planning to visit this woman for Christmas. What that grandchild didn't know was that the photograph had been located, after all these years, and was awaiting her arrival over the holidays.

I just received word that, at the family's Christmas gathering, when this grandchild—now in her nineties—was presented with this unexpected gift, at the point at which she laid eyes on the likeness, immediately exclaimed, "That's my grandfather!" And that, to a photograph of a man gone long before this woman was even born. That picture must have been a significant memory from her own childhood, doubtlessly coupled with stories told by a mother who was barely six years old, herself, when she lost her father.

That's the type of gift which elicits a response rarely encountered when opening the usual holiday fare. Perhaps its pricelessness is owing to its ability to transport a soul from present day to memories of the past so palpably.

The host of the gathering—the woman to whom I had mailed the photo—observed that, in the delightful moment of discovery in opening up that photograph, not only did John Blain's granddaughter once again reconnect with a memory of her past, but her great-grandchildren, also at the Christmas gathering, had a hands-on chance to learn about their own third great-grandfather, as well. A wonderful opportunity to tie together recollections of multiple generations, all in one holiday visit.

Of course, that was Christmas and this is New Year's Day. There was no way I could have shared that report earlier, thoughnot, at least, until after the Christmas gathering was over and the secret was out. But now, in the time-honored New Year's calling tradition kept by many of our American ancestors, perhaps we can "revisit" those friends we've met along the way in this past year's stories at A Family Tapestry by recreating a New Year's Calling tradition of our own.

Though you may not prepare your carriage to go out in the cold to greet your acquaintances on this New Year's Day, you surely have ancestors you've discovered through this year's research. I hope their stories come to mind again in a genealogical Auld Lang Syne sort of way on this mellow start to another year.
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