Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Where and how do I gather more knowledge?

I have always believed that when one stops learning then you might as well put me in a box. Or as Ray Kroc founder of McDonalds said, "When you're green your growing, when you're not you rot."  Just like a tomato.
I have never been to a Regional or National genealogy conference.  But I would love to go.  So, where do I learn about new and exciting things in the world of genealogy?  I love the social media, whether Facebook, or twitter.  The exchange of ideas and knowledge is so free flowing I am like a sponge just soaking it all up.  Or the webinar's that are offered by Ancestry.com, or like minded people and their blogs.  Google is my friends.  And for history,  I still have a lot of history books, since that was my major in college.  And one of my favorite things to do, is to visit the local community college or 4 year college/university to stroll through their bookstore and to  pick up new text books.  But I would have to say one of my favorites and most enjoyable way to learn, is to talk to people.  You would be surprised how much one can learn by just chatting with average, everyday people.  For example, today at work, I sold a refridge to a man whos last name was Milner,  so I said to him, " your family must have been from England and they must have been hat makers."  He could not believe what I said, his response to me was, " you are the first person to ever get it right, most think its German and none have a clue that it means hat maker, how did you know?"  Well, one thing lead  to another and we spent about 20 minutes, talking genealogy and history.
Observe, Chat, Listen, Share and Enjoy.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Stories from the past

There are so many stories I can pluck from the far reaches of my memory.  So, what one do I pick, and why would I pick a certain memory?
I often look back in my childhood and think how much easier I really had it,  never worried about playing outside until the street lights came on and that was my clue to head inside.  Never had to worry about getting a razor blade in an apple when I went trick or treating.  We always left our car doors unlocked when I went grocery shopping with my mom.  We never had computers but our days were filled with lots of laughter.

The other day I sold a new stove to a family and found out that they live on the street right behind my house and their son that was with them goes to the grade school about 7 houses up from mine, so I said to this couple, " wow, he should just cut between houses to get to school."  For a moment I forgot the time that we currently live in, cause even though they live so close to the school if they cut between house, I would say about a 10 minute walk, they always drive him to the school.  How sad is that.  I really did walk to grade school, about 1 mile or so from home.  My first grade school that I went to was Fairview,  I walked a half a block to the corner, turned right and walked another 4 blocks to this park.  I had to cross a foot bridge over a stream and cross the park, to get to the school.  Maybe 3/4 to mile to this school.

 Now a days, a parent wouldn't let their kid walk alone in the park.  But all the kids did it.  So, this get me thinking about the stories my Mom and Dad would tell all of us kids about the "simpler" times of growing up during the Depression.  Even though both my Dad and Mom were poor, (like everyone else) they never want for anything.  My dad's mom, sewed all of his clothes, how his grandmother would darn socks by putting a used light bulb in the sock to make a heel then darned them, or how my mom would get a quarter to go to the movies on Saturday.  A nickle to ride the bus both ways, 10 cents for the movie and 10 cents for a soda and popcorn, and that was for 2 movies and 2 cartoons.  How both of them slept outside on the porch during the hot summer nights.  How they always had enough to eat.  How my mom would make some money by having a lemonaide stand and my dad would mow lawns.  Simpler times.

But I think one of my favorite stories that my Mom shared with me was when she and my Dad were first married, and her dad, my Grandpa "Swede" and Grandma Mina got the first black and white tv.  The whole extended family would go over to their house on Saturday to watch tv.  The tv was about 13 inches, it only got a few channels and they were fuzzy and filled with lines, but boy oh boy they all thought it was the best thing since sliced bread.  How each family would bring a dish to pass and they would all eat outside in the summer or around the dining room table before gathering around this little tv to watch some show.
Simpler times, with family that were filled with laughter and good times.  I really wish the generation today could experience those simpler times of my mom and dad's generation and even those of  my generation.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Why do I do this crazy thing called genealogy?

There are many many reason why I tend to do this crazy thing.  Some I have written about in my past blogs, but I will recap...

1.  All those family trips we took as little kids and the love of  history.
2.  All those great family stories my Mom used to share.
3.  All those great stories my Dad used to tell about his Grandparents and his Mom
     working during the depression, and the curiosity of his not wanting to talk about his Dad.

So where does one begin....I would have to say, because of all those great family stories that my Mom
told me about her father, my Grandfather, who I never met because he died prior to my birth.  My Grandfather "Swede" who was not a Swede but of Norwegian heritage, played semi-pro baseball during the depression, he also played, according to family lore for the semi-pro football team called the Staleys.  For those football fans the Staleys later moved to Chicago and became the Chicago Bears.  As of this date, I have not been able to verified that he did played for the Staleys.  And how that during the depression, my Grandfather Swede, took care of not only his family but offered his brothers a way to take care of their families.  How when my Mom moved back to Rockford,  a lot of the extended family would gather over at Swede's and Mina's house to play cards and just have a great time.  As I got older, I noticed that these values passed on to my Mom who always welcomed not only family members, but really anyone into our home.  Ours was the neighborhood gathering place.  Where the neighborhood kids would ask my Mom and Dad to come out and play.

On the other hand, my Father would often talk about growing up with his paternal Grandparents, Great Grandpa and Grandma Crosby and his Mother, my Grandma Carolyn.  His father left his family when my dad was a very young boy.  So growing up I would hear about how hard his Mother and Grandfather worked to provide for their family.  My Father never would talk about his Dad, so there was a curiosity that I craved to be satisfied with finding out more about this man.  Every once in awhile I would ask my Mom a question about this stranger, but my Mom had no knowledge about him what so ever.  I firmly believe that because of this experience of my Dads, he did not want us to ever feel abandoned.  I believe that combine my Dads desire to be the "Worlds best Dad" and my Moms experience is what made my childhood the best.

And mix all this with my love of history,  received my BS from Kansas State University in History with a emphasis in Colonial American History,  that I wonder if my family help shape this great nation we call America.  All that time in the family car traveling out west wondering if anyone of my ancestors traveled by covered wagon.  And for one of my class, The History of World War II, interviewing my Uncle Pete, my Moms brother, about his experiences in the Battle of the Bulge or when he liberated a Concentration Camp.

So imagine my surprise when I found out that I can trace with sources, that on my Dad's side, I am a Mayflower Descendant,  I can be a DAR,  that on my Mom's side someone fought in the War of 1812,
the Spanish American War, so many historical events that shaped this country.  WOW.  We were not famous, but average Americans that had a sense of duty to God and Country and Family.  That we are shaped not only by the major events but things that occur during everyday experiences.  That I have this craving to discover where my ancestors were located and what motivated them to move out to the midwest.

So, my door is always open, where as my brother Marks house is the house for all the neighborhood kids to gather to play and where the adults all gather around to laugh and play cards.  What a great family I have,  I only can hope that my nieces and nephews understand the importance of our history and the history that they can make.................Happy hunting for those Ancestors.
This is a flyer for my Grandpa Swedes pool hall and barber shop.  During the time when he played for the 3 I semi pro baseball league,  this is how he supported not only his family but some of his brothers families.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

My oh My How can I pick my favorite photo of all time

These are probably my 2 favorites, but come on how can one pick their favorite photo or photos.  Does one choose because of some historical event, like a War, or does one choose because the photo makes you smile and remember someone who is no longer with you.
This is my mom, let me share something about my mom.  She was born on Nov. 15,1930 and died on June 22, 1999, 2 days before my birthday.  So now on my birthday, I celebrate my mothers life and the woman that gave me life...I have had friends throughout the years and even strangers approach me and ask me, how do you 2 have such a great relationship, I barely speak to my mom.  It never occurred to me that their were mothers and daughters who never got a long.  She was my best friend, and best mother a daughter could ask for,  she held me when no one else would, (I stuck a piece of sponge up my nose and no one noticed it, not our family doctor.  But because it was way up there it smelled bad, but my mom still held me thru the night).  She taught me how to pick up things with my toes, she taught me how to dance to the big bands, she took me to my first musical, (Mary Popkins) , she taught me to love the great musicals, she sang with me in the living room while I acted out one of our favorite scenes from a movie.  She showed me the love of family and taught me to love history.  She held me as I cried after my first boyfriend broke up with me, then she asked if I want her to go and beat him up...She drove me to dance lessons, ice skating lessons, piano lessons, soft ball practice, golf practice.  She taught me how to play golf..she taught me how to drive...She welcomed ever neighborhood kid into our house, all of my friends and brothers friends, even if we weren't there..she would feed them, she would play kick the can with them... she played with me in the rain...and when she need me, when she needed me to help her out after my dad left her,  I said I would be honored.  After I moved back in to town, every Thursday during the summer we would go to the park and listen to the free concert, and yes I even went to BINGO with her.....I still miss her.
  So every June 22, I visit her grave and just tell her all about the ancestors I have found, all the things that I am going through,  I thank her for having me, and I place some flowers on her grave.  This mothers day, I will place flowers on her headstone,  I just wish she would have been alive when I found the first Ericksons that came to the US...On Memorial day, I will visit all of the graves that are close to Rockford and clean the winter grime off of them, place a few flowers on their headstones, just like my mom and I used to do,  in June I will go again. I am my mothers daughter and proud of it................I miss my mom, I celebrate her life and I will do so not with tears but with laughter............

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

What is wrong with you!!!!

To  be a lover of history and a researcher of your own family history/genealogy, one gets used to the glazed over look, the rolling of the eyes or the smirky smile that you get when discussing anything of this nature with co-workers, friends and family.  Get used to it cause once you are bitten it is so very hard not to share with everyone that you come in contact with thru out the day.
I love to say during our morning meetings when they do the "get to know your co workers" exercise of what do you like to do during your spare time...I always throw out " I like to visit cemeteries."  Now those that have worked with me for awhile know what I am all about, but the newbies always do a double take. HA HA HA.
If these newbies are brave enough, they always ask me what did I mean when I said that,  Ha now I have an opening on telling them all about my researching of my family history/genealogy.
Another thing I like to do, when only a certain manager is on duty, is to play history trivia.  Now I work with a lot of young people, who really have no clue about anything history.  Its really sad but they enjoy my trivia questions.  They try to shout it out before anyone else.. I really do think it is sad that so many of the younger generation has little interest or knowledge of history.  So why is that, I remember that we had to pass in 8th grade a test on the US Constitution and our State Constitution,  or how my Social Studies or History teachers often inspired the class on what we were studying and the importance of knowing our history.  Now when I chat with a teacher that teaches Social Studies or History, they are told how to teach and what to teach.  Have we become so concerned about being Political Correct that we are afraid of encouraging great discussions on history.  Could this be one of the reasons that I really never see anyone younger than 30 interested in genealogy?  So. what can we do as genealogist do to encourage others to get involved in their own family history?  I can see how it may have been different when you had to travel to find documents and such, but with the easy access of so many documents via the internet and sites such as Ancestry.com. what can we do.
So, I have decided to reach out and see if I can generate some interest on the high school level and even through my local community college about trying to generate interest.  I think that I am going to see if others in the various groups that I belong to give me ideas, chat with some young people what would interest them.  And I really don't consider myself an OLD person.  If anyone has any great ideas,  share share share

Thursday, May 3, 2012

What does Sept 11, 2001 have to do with genealogy

On Saturday, Sept 8, 2001 I arrived at work and found out that my company was closing down and moving to another state.  No date as of yet was given out when I would be "official" be laid off but I did know that my production line was going to be one of the last to be laid off...My work schedule was Thursday, Friday, Saturday and every other Wednesday.  My next work day was going to be Wednesday, Sept  12.  I knew what the package was going to be and based on that I really wouldn't have to find work until June or July of 2002.  The plan was to just to take it easy on Sunday, and really start searching for a new job on Monday, Sept. 10, 2001.  I was going to call my Dad and my brother Mark on Tuesday, Sept. 11 to let them know about my job situation and what I had done to prepare.  I got up as usually, on the morning of Sept. 11 and like many others my world changed.  I called my brother Mark and just chatted with him about what we were seeing on the TV.  I finally mentioned to him my job situation but it seemed so trivial considering what we were seeing on the TV.  Tuesday's was the night that I went to Bible Study, Mondays were the night I led a confirmation class for my church.  I still went to Bible study that night, which was held at my church.  The group was BSF, Bible Study Fellowship which is a 7 year program, that is nondenominational but was held at my Church.  Well, needless to say my Church was having a prayer service for those that were lost in the attacks, many of my BSF friends didn't attend BSF that night but went to our Prayer service.  It was very comforting.
The next evening was a work day,  my shift was the overnight shift.  I knew it was going to be a very tense shift because we had a very wide variety of cultures that worked at our plant.  I arrived and was immediately told to go to the auditorium.  Wow, we were all laid off and the time frame for the closing of the plant was moved up to NOW.  So now I had all this time on my hands..........

So what has this got to do with genealogy?  Lots as it turns out.  I took the next month just to think about lots of things and I was always watching the news. Finally around Thanksgiving I get an early Christmas present from my Aunt, the wife of my mom's only brother.  You see, my mom had died suddenly in 1999 and she was the last of that generation of her family to have died.  Only the spouses of my moms siblings were still alive.  She had sent me a gift card with $50 on it.  So it was off to the local Best Buy to spend it.  I was thinking about my mom and all that she had told me about growing up during the depression, and just remembering all the stories she told me, and I knew that I wanted to start to scan all the photos that I inherited.  When all of a sudden Family Tree Maker software caught my eye.  So not only did I get the software, but a new desk top, new printer and a new scanner...........and I was hooked  Wow, what a time I had researching what was on line and scanning all the old photos...........I think back then when you bought the most expensive version of FTM you got a year subscription to Ancestry.  So between sending out my resume, going on job interviews and researching I had a very busy spring.  Got a job in June with FedEx Ground, and loved having a paycheck.  But I made sure I had plenty of time to research my family history.
Fast forward to now, I have had a few other jobs, including PC sup at Best Buy and lived through one of their restructuring as a full time associated in another dept.  Still have my benefits and a paycheck but no longer a supervisor of a dept due to restructuring  that took place in 2009.  And I still make the time for my fav hobby of all researching my family history.
So, even during the termoil of that terrible day of 911 something positive came out of it, my love off genealogy.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

It really is in my genes

Why oh why would anyone want to research their family history,  how boring,,,,,,,,,Welllllllll  it just felt natural to me to want to research my family history, to reach back in time to find my family.  From the flames that were sparked on those family vacations that were taken long long ago, through college and beyond, I just loved doing research.  I even completed one year of my Masters in History.  I have the ability or some call it a gift to do what some of my college professor call original research.  My problem as you all can see is putting those findings in a well written form, I stink at english comp.  That is one of the reasons why I did not complete my Masters.  Because my family moved around so much,  I went to 3 different grade schools and 3 different High Schools, I really never learned the sentence structure.  I always thought it was strange that during my undergraduate years, and many many History papers that contained original thought, not one of those professors corrected my sentence structure or better yet how to put those original thoughts on paper in a clear and concise manner.  Most think of History as the study of what major events were occurring at a given time.  History can be seen in many different ways, such as those that experienced what was going on 01first hand and document what was going on , those that can research it after the fact and how those events affected society as a whole.  For example, lets look at the battle of Gettysburg.  The solider that fought at Gettysburg will see it only from his perceptive,  where as if one looks at the battle a 100 years after it happened, will see it in a different light. I have always written about history from a social background.  How did these big events affect the average person.  Looking at someones diary and then tying it in with the big events with my own 20th and 21st century experiences.
Creating that time line for my Ancestor is the first step, then adding the major events of that time and then finding out how it may have affected their choices in life...is this speculation?  Yes it is, often we can prove how it affected their life with documentation such as obits, wills, letters home and diaries...But if one is fortunate by having a mom and dad that always loved history and discussing what was going on during their time frame it becomes possible to put yourself in the shoes of your ancestor.  I remember my mom talking about living during the great depression, and how she remembers her father talking with her uncles in moving in together to survive the hardships of the time.  That is where my mom got her love of family and being their for not only her married family, but her brother and sisters and helping each other during tough times..That is why my grandfather chose to have his semi pro baseball salary be paid to him in the pool hall.  My grandfather had his team set him up in a pool hall and barber shop during the depression, so that he could take care of his family, his brother and sister and his mother.  So, I should really thank my mom for getting me started in researching my family history cause she would always tell me stories that she heard from her dad.  I should thank my dad for asking me to think about what is what like for those brave men and women who chose to leave their family behind for a better life and why did I think they would do this.
It was around 1994 that I bought my first FTM and thought it was going to be a so easy in researching my family history, well it was not so I just wrote down and interviewed all that I could, and then I stopped.  But then 911  happened and I got laid off, my mom had just passed away and my Aunt gave me 50 dollars for Christmas.  I decided to buy a new version of FTM and I was hooked for life.......... so the next time you are with your children, nieces or nephews and grandchildren..........ask them this one simple question, "just think about all the bones of the pioneers that we are traveling over, why do you think they left their home to travel far far away and how did they travel?  See what type of response you will get.......then let me know