Saturday, March 29, 2008

2008 Artistry of Genealogy Awards - the Joke's on Me!

You're going to laugh when you read this. At least I did, because the joke is on me. On Wednesday, I received the following e-mail:
The Photo Preservation Center is announcing the 2008 Artistry of Genealogy Awards through an upcoming Businesswire news release and your site was mentioned. Congratulations and I hope the attention draws many more people to your excellent site. An advance copy of the release is posted on our Tales from the World of Photo Scanning Blog – We will make sure to have your site hyperlinked on the official Businesswire release. Thanks for your commitment to also helping preserve families history and memories.

Well, I had never heard of this organization and to be quite frank, there were a couple of spelling and grammatical errors in the subject line and message, and the link embedded in the message led to a 404 error page--all normal indicators of a possible spam message. So I deleted the e-mail. Yes, I did!

On Thursday, Becky's congratulatory post at kinnexions popped up in my feed reader, followed by many others in the geneablogosphere, and suddenly I realized this was authentic! Sheepishly, I retrieved the e-mail from my trash folder and replied with a humble "thank you." Are you laughing at me yet? That's all right. I'm laughing right along with you!

Here is the correct link that will take you to the blog, and here is the press release on Yahoo! through Businesswire. I'm not going to repeat the whole message here as most of you have probably read it on other blogs, but I did want to mention a few things.

First of all, thank you to the Photo Preservation Center for creating these awards and to all those who voted for AnceStories as Best Personal Genealogy Blog (Renee Zamora of Renee's Genealogy Blog also received this award). I'm sorry that I didn't recognize the award for what it was at first glance!

Secondly, congratulations to all my fellow award winners! I'm honored to be listed among them. Every one of the recipients was familiar to me at first glance, with the exception of Favorite Genealogy Research Guide: Genealogy Research Guides, Tips and Online Records. After investigating this site, I slapped my forehead and said, "Oh, it's Joe!" Yes, Joe Beine of and Genealogy Roots Blog. is the front door to his portal of wonderful pages of links to online records. The other one that seemed at first unfamiliar but turned out to be part of Illya D'Addezio's conglomeration of sites (think GenealogyToday) was Family Tree Connection, which won Most Popular Genealogy Database.

One thing I learned from all this (besides not to look a gift horse in the mouth!) was that April is The Great American Photo Scanning Month! As the hostess of Scanfest, I think that's simply terrific! In honor of that event, has created the following offer:

Throughout April, is providing free photo scans to all members of four leading social networking sites; subscribers to Flickr, MySpace, Blogger and Facebook can have up to 1,000 4x6" photos scanned to DVD without charge when they mail their pictures to and pay $19.95 for return S&H, along with the downloadable order form.

This sounds like a sweet deal, and would work wonderfully for all those modern photos you have sitting around in boxes that need to be digitized. As for the antique or one-of-a-kind old family photos or documents, I urge you to join me and scan them during Scanfest (Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday this coming week) and Spring Break Scan-a-thon, currently in progress. If you can't make it this week, the April Scanfest will be held Sunday, April 27th from 11 AM - 2 PM, Pacific Daylight Time.

Thursday, March 27, 2008


Source: Midkiff, Mary Emeline Wilbourn. Photograph. Taken before Sep 1919. Reproduction of original photograph in the possession of Miriam Robbins Midkiff, Spokane, Washington. 2008.

Mary Emeline WILBOURN was my husband's Great-great-grandmother Midkiff. She was born 11 Aug 1839 in Sandoval Twp., Marion Co., Illinois to Dr. John Wilks WILBOURN of Orange Co., North Carolina and Martha Susan DEADMOND of Bedford Co., Virginia. John and Susan's respective families had migrated to Marion Co., Illinois by 1831, when they married. Mary was the fourth of nine known children which included Rufus K. (b. c. 1833), Denita Frances (b. c. 1836), James Manissa (1837 - c. 1837), John Henry (b. c. 1843 - bef. 12 Mar 1878), Aramanthe E. (b. 1846), Thomas Jefferson (1849 - 1942), Sarah Jane (1851 - 1940), and Benjamin Franklin WILBOURN (1854 - 1944).

The Wilbourn family moved from Illinois to Grayson Co., Texas between 1843 and 1846, and were prominent in that early community. It was there on 24 Jul 1859 that nearly-20-year-old Mary was wed to Charles Anderson MIDKIFF. They lived in Sherman Township when the 1860 U.S. Federal Census was taken; a time when trouble between the North and South was brewing. Charles served with the Texas Cavalry for the Confederacy, along with two of his brothers. About that time, the family moved to nearby Springville, Cooke Co., Texas. During the war, their two eldest, William Preston (1862 - 1936) and Charles "Anderson" Jr. (1865 - 1948), were born. Louanna Ellen "Annie" (1868 - 1940), John Franklin (1870 - 1926; my husband's great-grandfather), Ethel Susan (b. 1874), and Thomas Jefferson "Tex" MIDKIFF (1879 - 1941) soon followed. An infant, Mae, did not survive.

The Midkiff family remained in Cooke County where they were enumerated in the 1880 U.S. Federal Census. Charles' occupation was a miller. Sometime within the next few years, they moved to Lexington, Cleveland Co., Oklahoma Territory, where some of their children were married and their first grandchildren were born. Ever on the move, the family may have also lived in Pottawatomie Co., Oklahoma Territory, and were definitely residing in Delta Co., Colorado by 1902, where Charles was cattle ranching.

The Midkiff Family in Delta Co., Colorado. Charles and Mary are in the center, surrounded by their children, children-in-law, and grandchildren.

Source: Midkiff Family at Home in Delta County, Colorado. Photograph. Taken c. 1902 - 1908. Original photograph in the possession of John and Mary Lou Midkiff, Midland, Texas. 2008.

On 10 Mar 1908, Charles wrote his brother in West Texas from Hotchkiss, Delta Co., Colorado and told him he had sold his ranch the summer previously, as he had been injured when his mules ran away with him, getting caught under the wagon and breaking his left leg. Because of being crippled, he could not work the ranch in the winter when the snow was so deep. This injury was probably also motivation for Charles and Mary to retire after a few years to Chico, Butte Co. in Northern California, where the warmer climate and town living were more suitable for the senior couple. Mary's mother and four younger siblings and their families, along with most of the adult Midkiff children with their families, also lived in the area; however, I haven't done enough research to discover if the Wilbourns or the Midkiffs emigrated to California first.

In 1914, both Mary and Charles are listed on the Butte County Voters Registration. California had granted suffrage to women in 1911, nine years before the federal government did so. After Charles died in 1919, Mary lived with their daughter Annie until her own death in 1923. Mary and Charles are buried in unmarked graves in the Wilbourn Family Plot in Chico Cemetery.

The "empty" grassy spot in the midst of the Wilbourn Family Plot in Chico Cemetery is the final resting place of Mary Emeline (WILBOURN) MIDKIFF, and her husband, Charles Anderson MIDKIFF, Sr. The graves of Mary's sisters can be seen in the foreground.

Source: Midkiff, Charles Anderson Sr. and Mary Emeline (Wilbourn) burial location, Chico Cemetery, Chico, Butte Co., California. Photograph. Taken 31 May 2006 by FindAGrave photo volunteer Laural N. D. at the request of Miriam Robbins Midkiff. Digital photograph in the possession of Miriam Robbins Midkiff, Spokane, Washington. 2008.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Wordless Wednesday: Mary Emeline (WILBOURN) MIDKIFF

Source: Midkiff, Mary Emeline Wilbourn. Photograph. Taken before Sep 1919. Reproduction of original photograph in the possession of Miriam Robbins Midkiff, Spokane, Washington. 2008.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Scanfest and Spring Break Scan-a-thon are Coming!

Hear ye! Hear ye! A couple of announcements to my readers regarding March's Scanfest event and the all new Spring Break Scan-a-thon!

First off: March's Scanfest will be held on Sunday, March 30th, from 11:00 AM to 2:00 PM, PDT.

Secondly, I will be on Spring Break from Saturday, March 29th through Sunday, April 6th. Several of you have expressed a desire to join me for Scanfest, but due to church or family activities, Sunday afternoon has not been a good time for you. I wanted to let you know that I plan to set aside Tuesday and Thursday afternoon (evening for you back east) of that week from 3:00 - 6:00 PM, PDT to do some extra scanning...AND, I also plan to do as much scanning during the week as my family will allow me, and promise to be on Windows Live Messenger whenever I am doing so in order for other Scanfesters to drop on in to join me for some scanning and chatting fun!

SO, be sure to set aside the following times to join me and the other Scanfesters:

Sunday, March 30th, 11:00 AM - 2:00 PM, PDT
Tuesday, April 1, 3:00 - 6:00 PM, PDT
Thursday, April 3, 3:00 - 6:00 PM, PDT

And be looking for me whenever you get on the Internet at any time between Saturday, March 29th and Sunday, April 6th to "catch me if you can" and chat with me while I scan (hopefully, you'll be scanning, too!).

For those of you who have never heard of Scanfest, it is a time that those of us who are wanting to preserve our family documents, photos, and other scanable items choose to meet online via Windows Live Messenger. We usually meet the last Sunday of each month, except in November and December, due to the holiday season. Here's how you can join us:

To join us, you'll need a Hotmail or Gmail account, and Windows Live Messenger downloaded to your computer (Mac users go here to download Microsoft Messenger for Mac). Although WLM states that it is compatible with Yahoo! e-mail accounts, we have had difficulty adding Yahoo! users to our chat conversation. If you don't have a Hotmail or Gmail account, it's very easy (and free) to set one up. Just go to the links in the first sentence of this paragraph. Once you have gotten set up, send me an e-mail (my address is found on this page) and I'll add you to our chat list. You'll receive an invitation message from me at my Hotmail address, which will be sent to the e-mail account that you've set up for Messenger (Hotmail or Gmail), and then you will need to verify that I can add you as a contact.

The second thing you need to do to prepare for scanning is go to Sally's website here and sign up for her free e-mail newsletter. This will then allow you to download her helpful information called 8 Blunders People Make When They Scan Photographs...and How You Can Avoid Them All. Then you will know how to set your scanner correctly to enable you to scan your items without damaging the originals or compromising the digital images you create.

I hope you can join us!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Happy Easter

Happy Easter to all my readers!

Source: The Westaby-Lerfald Postcard Collection. Privately held by Troy Midkiff, Vancouver, Washington.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

The 5th Edition of the Carnival of Central and Eastern European Genealogy Is Posted

Jessica at Jessica's Genejournal has just posted the 5th Edition of the Carnival of Central and Eastern European Genealogy. The topic is Traditional Dishes, and there were four submissions. Be sure to have a napkin handy, because these tasty posts are sure to make you drool! My own submission was Alaskan Russian Foods. I encourage you to take a gander over to Jessica's Genejournal and check out the articles!

The 6th Edition of this carnival will be a carousel edition, which means submitters get to choose their own topics. Submissions will be due April 27th, and entered here. I hope you'll join us!

Friday, March 21, 2008

West's Forty-Nine Uses For a Flutaphone

Since September 1, 2007, Bill West has been slowly compiling a list titled "49 Uses For a Flutaphone."

Tonight, he completed his task.

Congratulations, Bill!

To read all 49 uses, click here.

Alaskan Russian Foods

As many of my readers are aware, I was born and grew up in Alaska, living in five different communities. The "city" where I was born was Kodiak, on Kodiak Island, where the Russian influence can still be felt in the culture, religious practices, and surnames of the Native Alaskans living there. While Kodiak is near the top of the Aleutian chain of islands creating the Southwest panhandle of the state, the Southeast panhandle--where I spent most of my childhood--also felt Russia's hand and can be seen in the architecture of the old Russian Orthodox churches in Sitka (the capital under Russia) and Juneau (the current state capital). However, the Native Alaskans of the Southeast panhandle were more religiously influenced by the Presbyterian, Catholic, Lutheran, and Salvation Army churches.

Russian Church, Kodiak, Alaska

St. Michael's Cathedral, Sitka, Alaska

(For more views of beautiful Russian Orthodox churches
in Alaska--onion domes and all--click

Two wonderful Russian dishes I remember eating as a child were pirok and kulich. Pirok is a fish pie that my mother would make as a simple, filling main dish, using canned or fresh Alaskan salmon. It is especially tasty topped with a tomato-based cocktail sauce, such as what you would eat with shrimp. Kulich is also known as Russian Easter bread, and is a delicious treat, made sweet from candied fruit and heavy with many eggs (made of course, to celebrate the end of Lent and self-denial). Dad was usually the one who made kulich, and our favorite way to eat it was lightly toasted with lots of butter! In fact, just thinking about it makes me want to haul out my breadmaker and make a loaf this weekend to eat with Easter breakfast!

I believe the following recipe is from Alaskan Cookbook for Homesteader or Gourmet by Bess Cleveland; Berkeley, California: Howell-North Books, 1960.

Pastry for double-crust pie
2 c. cooked rice
1 onion
3 hard-boiled eggs
1 can salmon or 1 lb. fresh salmon, deboned
salt and pepper to taste

Line pie with pastry. When steaming rice, add 1 chopped onion. When done, mix with canned salmon, including juice. Mix well. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Put 1/2 rice and fish misture in unbaked pie shell. Press quartered hard-boiled eggs into mixture, top off balance of rice and fish. Cover with piecrust, seal edges well and cut steam vents. Bake 1/2 hour (1 hour for fresh salmon) or until well browned. [A temperature is not given; I cook mine at about 425° F.] This is a dish brought to Alaska by the early Russian colonists, and was first made with salt salmon.

Traditionally, the kulich dough was braided, then baked. However, when Dad made this, he would bake it just as he and Mom did our sourdough-raisin bread: in greased coffee cans, creating a nice round load, easily sliced and able to fit into a standard toaster. While the sourdough-raisin bread, which was our everyday bread, was made in two-pound coffee cans, the kulich, more of a dessert than a sandwich bread, was usually baked in one-pound cans. I am adapting my Mr. Coffee bread-maker's recipe for a one-pound dried-mixed fruit bread, which yields a similar result.


1 egg plus enough water to equal 1 c.
2 c. + 1 T. bread flour
1/2 t. salt
2 T. honey
1 T. dry milk
1/2 c. bran cereal
1/2 c. chopped candied mixed fruit
1/2 c. raisins
1/2 t. nutmeg
1/4 t. baking soda
1 1/2 t. yeast

Place ingredients into your breadmaker according to its suggested guidelines and use the Whole-Loaf (as opposed to Dough) Sweet Bake setting (setting 8 on Mr. Coffee breadmaker). Yield: 1 one-pound loaf.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Jennie James VALK

Source: Valk, Jennie James. Photograph. C. 1915. Original photograph in the possession of Miriam Robbins Midkiff, Spokane, Washington. 2008.

This lovely lady is Jennie James VALK, a younger sister of my maternal great-grandfather, William James VALK. They and their youngest sister Geertje James "Gertrude" VALK were three of eight children of Tjamme Wiegers VALK and Berber J. DeJONG that survived childhood.

Jennie was born 29 December 1888 in Grand Rapids, Kent County, Michigan and, except for a few years spent in Holland, Ottawa County as a small child, lived most of her life in the Grand Rapids area. She attended school in Walker Township, now incorporated into the west part of the city, and as a young woman worked with Gertrude in a cigar factory. Another young woman who worked there, Agnes TUINSTRA, eventually married their brother William.

This photo may have been taken in 1915 to commemorate Jennie's engagement to Gerritt John HEIDEMA, whom she married on July 16th in Grand Rapids. An infant son, James John, was born around 1917, but died young. Gerritt succumbed to the Spanish Influenza on 21 December 1918; on 10 June 1919, Jennie gave birth to their son, Gerritt, Jr. In 1925, she remarried, to John S. VANDERWAL, and exactly a week before their first anniversary, their son John, Jr. was born.

Jennie's father passed away in 1922. When her mother died in 1934, she was the executrix of her parents' estate. Because of this, the Valk family documents have been carefully preserved in the hands of her descendants. Her grandson made contact with me many years ago, and generously shared copies of family documents, records, and photos as we traced our family tree together. This photograph was given to me by my cousin as a gift, and is something I will treasure as long as I live. Not only is it a family memento from one cousin to another, it is a fascinating portrait of a lovely lady. If you look closely, you can see that she is wearing glasses, and that in itself is a remarkable thing. Women of this era rarely wore spectacles for a "photo shoot." This photograph is considered rare just for that reason, and makes it all the more endearing to me!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Strange Searches

Recently, I was enjoying reading a favorite non-genealogy blog, Because I Said So. In her latest post, Dawn lists the search terms people use to find her blog (it's hilarious!). So in that vein, I decided to see how users of the Internet stumble upon my little corner of the web. Here are the most amusing--and weird--search terms:

an insulting nickname for a slaveowner

And my blog has the answer to this?

funeral acts of kindness
While I understand how the results of this search could lead to my blog, I am wondering why you would wait until the funeral...

i'm only hauling one thing trace adkins
...and that would be?

insulting nickname for slaveowner is french dix
Apparently someone found the answer. Huh.

my grandpa's giddy stories
As opposed to his serious ones...

sex stories father-in-law daughter-in-law
Yikes! No comment.

things i didnt know about cerebral palsy
I hope my blog has informed you of these.

twp priests spells against moses
OK. I think "twp" is a typo of "two" and not meant to be the abbreviation of township. Are you looking for two priests to spell down against Moses, or to cast spells against him? Weird.

websites i'm addicted to
Well, this is good, I think!

why should my ancestors be proud
Well, if you don't know, you can bet that I don't!

www ancest reading material
Hopefully searching for ancestors and not incest...yuck.

your ancest jokes
See above.

your riches taught me poverty by dickinson wikipedia
Starting Monday, a new series of blog posts. Stay tuned!

Wordless Wednesday: Jennie James VALK

Source: Valk, Jennie James. Photograph. C. 1915. Original photograph in the possession of Miriam Robbins Midkiff, Spokane, Washington. 2008.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The 44th Edition of the Carnival of Genealogy is Posted

Jasia has posted the 44th Edition of the Carnival of Genealogy at her blog, Creative Gene. The topic, in keeping with Women's History Month, is "A Tribute to Women." Wow! Thirty-two bloggers posted a total of thirty-four articles honoring women in their life and/or their ancestry! While I've read many already as they've appeared in my Google Reader, there are many more to savor, and I will enjoy these, as I know you will!

I did not submit anything to the Carnival this time (my submission for last year's Woman's History Month topic was "One Woman: Barbara Dorothy Valk, Missionary to Central Africa.") I started to write a post on a great-great-grandmother and ran into some research obstacles; another that I began about a heroine of mine from the Netherlands during World War II was unfinished as I ran out of time. I hope to post them both before the month is over.

Meantime, enjoy "A Tribute to Women"!

Monday, March 17, 2008

The 4th Edition of the Carnival of Irish Heritage & Culture is Posted

Lisa of Small-leaved Shamrock has just posted the 4th Edition of the Carnival of Irish Heritage & Culture, a St. Patrick's Day Parade of Posts! My own entry for this carnival is The Quiet Man.

The topic of the 5th Edition will honor the beauty of the Irish language with a focus on Irish Gaelic names and words:
  • * Has the charm of the name of a place in Ireland always called to you to visit someday?

  • * As a child did you secretly wish you had the Irish name of a great-grandparent instead of the name you were born with?

  • * Do you have a story to tell about someone with an Irish surname?

  • * Is there an Irish proverb that you have always loved to let slide off of your tongue in its original language?

Submissions are due April 27th and can be entered here. Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Cabinet of Curiosities #5 is Posted

Tim Abbott of Walking the Berkshires has just posted Cabinet of Curiosities #5, the Steampunk Edition. Go take a read!

John Adams Miniseries Premieres Tonight on HBO

This is one of the few times that I, a person who watches very little television, wish I had cable TV.

Tonight at 8:00 PM, John Adams, a miniseries based on the book by the same name by historian David McCullough, premieres on HBO. If you have never read this book, McCullough used the many letters between John and his wife Abigail, as well as official correspondence between Adams and other now-historical figures, to create a compelling and fascinating piece of non-fiction that gives deep insight into the mind and character of this great man. I first heard about this miniseries last month when I went to the post office to buy stamps. Since the United States Postal Service is sponsoring the show (tie in: the Power of the Letter), my receipt had a little blurb and the URL of the promotional website. I absolutely loved the book; I know that I would enjoy the miniseries immensely. My local library district will hopefully purchase a copy of the miniseries on DVD, as they have for many other historical miniseries featured on PBS, the History Channel, and other networks.

Friday, March 14, 2008

SMGF Participants Receive Special Offer from GeneTree

I received this e-mail today from the Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation:

Dear SMGF participant,

Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation (SMGF) is excited to announce that your personalized DNA results are now available from the Sorenson mtDNA database, through a special offer made by GeneTree, a family networking website. Eligible participants may obtain their mtDNA-HVI, II, III results and pedigree information for a special introductory price of just $19.50. Comparable tests cost over $150!

With your mtDNA results in hand you can explore new and exciting genetic-genealogy territory by taking advantage of GeneTree's:

  • Tools for making connections with mtDNA cousins
  • Resources for interpreting mtDNA results
  • Innovative tools for discovering migration patterns of ancient and recent ancestors
  • Media sharing and storage capacity for pictures, video and other media

To be eligible for this offer you must have requested an SMGF participation kit prior to October 23, 2007 and returned your kit prior to Dec 31, 2007. To view promotion details and get your mtDNA results please click here.

We encourage you to take advantage of this special GeneTree introductory offer!

The SMGF Team

Unlock and view your personal mtDNA results now at

SMGF takes great care in protecting your confidential information. SMGF does not transfer or share data with third parties without explicit donor consent.

I took a free DNA test two years ago during a local Family History Conference presented by the LDS church here in Spokane. SMGF sponsored the tests, which had to be submitted with a four- (or more) generation pedigree chart. At the time, the results were not available to the participants, but were used in comparing random DNA data collected from around the world.

This looks intriguing...I think I'll participate, especially considering Blaine's got a free new ebook available explaining DNA test results in layman's terminology at his blog, The Genetic Genealogist.

The Quiet Man

In honor of the 4th Edition of the Carnival of Irish Heritage and Culture whose theme is "St. Patrick's Day Parade," I present my favorite movie, The Quiet Man, starring John Wayne, Maureen O'Hara, Victor McLaglen, and Barry Fitzgerald. I first remember watching this movie when a young girl in our school cafeteria in Klawock, Alaska. About once a month, on a Friday afternoon, the school would order a movie from Ketchikan. For twenty-five cents and a signed parent permission slip, we could watch the film, usually a Disney classic, although occasionally, we would see something a little different. Sometimes candy or popcorn would be sold. We little ones (Kindergarten - 4th grade) would sit on gym mats on the floor and the older kids (5th - 8th grade) would sit on chairs in the back. These movies were a real treat, as the show hall had burned down within a couple of years of our family after moving to that small community of about 300 people. There was also no television in our community at that time. Years later, after moving to Washington State, I saw the movie on TV and fell in love with it all over again. It was a birthday gift to me several years ago, and will always be my Number One Favorite. The music, the lush green of the Emerald Isle, the Gaelic conversation, the electricity between Wayne and O'Hara and, of course, the fantastic semi-comic climatic fight near the can you not love it?

Thursday, March 13, 2008

2nd Edition of "Where Were You?" Carnival Posted

Dee at GenLady posted the 2nd Edition of the "Where Were You?" Carnival, the topic of which was the Great Depression. There were four bloggers who made submissions; mine was the 12th in a series of 16 posts about where my ancestors were living when the 1930 U.S. Federal Census was taken. All of my grandparents and my parents-in-law either grew up as small children or were teenagers helping out their own parents during this difficult time. Life was tough indeed, and the worst financial problems I've ever encountered paled in contrast to what these families went through.

The topic of the 3rd Edition of the "Where Were You?" Carnival is the Civil War. Of course, none of us lived through it. Dee writes, "...where were your ancestors? Who fought for the North…the South? Who lost their house…tell us about it using our carnival submission form." The deadline is April 9th.

Twins Leona Mary and Lee Joseph MARTIN

(click photo several times to enlarge)

(reverse of photo)

Source: Martin, Leona Mary and Lee Joseph. Photograph. C. 1907. Original photograph in the possession of Michael Midkiff, Spokane, Washington. 2008.

Isn't this a darling photo? The little girl on the arm of the sofa is Leona Mary "Sis" MARTIN, about a year old, and her twin brother, Lee Joseph "Mick" MARTIN, is on the sofa back. Leona was my husband's maternal grandmother. This photograph was sent to the children's maternal grandparents, Isaac LUKE and Rebecca HEWITT, as evident by the message on the back: "for Grandpa & Grandma". The children's paternal grandparents, Francois Joseph MARTIN and Rachel HUBBY, had died in 1887 and 1892, respectively, so they could not have been the recipients of this photographic gift, perhaps sent as a Christmas gift when the children were a year old.

Lee and Leona were the youngest of twelve children born 17 December 1906 to John Franklin MARTIN and Angelia Rebecca LUKE. A large Catholic family of French, Scottish, and English roots, they were living in Bonners Ferry, Bonner (now Boundary) County, Idaho in 1906, where Frank worked for the railroad (probably the Northern Pacific). At the dinner after Leona's funeral in 1993, Mick's daughter, cousin of my mother-in-law, told me the story she had heard about the day the twins were born. Apparently, no one knew that Mama Martin was pregnant with twins. The family at that point consisted of five sons and five daughters, and there was a competition on as to whether the next baby would be a boy or a girl, since Mama had declared that there would be no more babies. According to the family story, the children, ranging in age from 21-year-old Gertrude (who was married) down to five-year-old Steve, were waiting outside the house to hear the news (seems somewhat inaccurate, given the fact that it was December in Northern Idaho--brrr! Perhaps instead they were waiting in the front room.). The doctor came out and announced, "It's a boy!" to the rousting cheers of Frank Jr., Clarence, Isaac, John, and Steve. He went back in to the house/bedroom and returned not much later to announce, "and it's a girl!" to the delight of Gertrude, Maude, Jane, Agnes, and Viola.

True or no, it's a fun story. When Lee grew up, he settled in Eastern Washington. He was married three times and fathered five children. Leona also lived in Eastern Washington, but spent her latter years in Vancouver, Clark County on the southwest side of the state. She and her husband, Forrest "Frank" L. CHAPLIN, had three children, the youngest of whom is my mother-in-law. Leona was present at our wedding, along with our other three grandmothers, my paternal grandfather, and our two step-grandfathers. This was the only time I got a chance to meet her, as her health was poor and she lived on the other side of the state. Lee died in 1984, before I knew my husband or his family. Interestingly, his Social Security Death Index information states he was born 17 December 1907, rather than 1906, while Leona's has the correct birth date. I spoke with my mother-in-law to verify their birth year (Idaho didn't record births until 1908), and she told me that an error had been made on Lee's birthdate, either by the Social Security Administration (or perhaps by a surviving family member after his passing) but no one in the family wanted to go through the paperwork to correct it.

As an aside: we know that giving birth to fraternal twins is a genetic female trait, usually appearing every other generation, while giving birth to identical twins is not genetic (it's a "mutation" in the development of the embryo, where one splits into two complete embryos). Leona's oldest daughter had twin fraternal daughters. I imagine that eventually one--or both--of them may have twin grandchildren someday.

Genealogy Happy Dance!

I've been looking for an exact place and location of marriage for my great-great-grandparents, James L. YORK and Mary E. "Mae" McARTHUR for years! I knew they were legally married, because I had a copy of the court clerk's file index for their divorce. But I searched through many microfilms and websites without much luck. I even blogged about it last October. And of course, I found it while I was actually looking for something else: vital records for cousins of James to fill out the family trees of some of the collateral relatives. I did not know that James lived in Clinton County, nor that Mary ever lived in Van Buren County. Great stuff, here!

This website is the creation of the Genealogists of Clinton County (Michigan) Historical Society, and I found it through Joe Beine's Online Death Indexes site. Now to contact the historical society to obtain the news article. I may be making a list; I'm finding lots of collateral relatives' records in these great databases!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Wordless Wednesday: Twins Leona Mary and Lee Joseph MARTIN

(click photo several times to enlarge)

Source: Martin, Leona Mary and Lee Joseph. Photograph. C. 1907. Original photograph in the possession of Michael Midkiff, Spokane, Washington. 2008.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Great Lakes Dunes Featured on Stamps

(click here to enlarge)

I'm a big fan of stamp collecting. Although I haven't done so since I was child, it's one of those ways like coin collecting, reading biographies of historical characters, conducting science experiments, and creating works of art that expand a child's mind and can be a lead into learning more about one's own past. A number of years ago, the United States Postal Service began a series of a large block of stamps that highlight various ecological habitats found around the U.S. According to this article in the Muskegon [Michigan] Chronicle, the "glorious sand dunes that line portions of all five Great Lakes are about to get national exposure," while being featured in the 10th installment of the Nature of America educational series.

This announcement caught my eye for several reasons: the first, stemming from my childhood hobby of stamp collecting, and the second being that Michigan is an ancestral location for me. But I have more than a passing interest in the Great Lakes dunes than just that they are a wonderful natural feature. You see, my parents met while both their families were camping at Silver Lake State Park 47 years ago this summer, and their first date was driving around on the dunes in a rented dune buggy taking a motorboat ride across Silver Lake, then walking across the dunes from Silver Lake to Lake Michigan! I thought it would be a great idea to buy a block of these stamps and preserve them in a scrapbook to use as a creative prompt to write about how my parents met, so that generations to come would know their story.

When St. Patrick's Day is Not on March 17th

March 17th is a date we all associate with St. Patrick's Day. But this year, for the first time since 1940 and for the last time until 2160, St. Patrick's Day will not be on March 17th. Piping Girl explains.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Another Genealogy Carnival!

There's another genealogy carnival I neglected to mention in my "March Is..." post. GenLady hosts a "Where Were You?" carnival (it appears to be a monthly carnival), and the next one is due March 10th (tomorrow). The topic is "Where Were You During the Great Depression?" You can submit your post(s) here.

New Prompt (Week Thirty-Three) Posted at AnceStories2

When Mr. Boast laughed, Laura and Mary and Carrie and Ma all burst out laughing. They couldn't help it. Pa's laugh was like great bells ringing; it made you feel warm and happy. But Mr. Boast's laugh made everybody laugh.

By the Shores of Silver Lake by Laura Ingalls Wilder, published 1939 by Harper & Brothers, New York, pg. 127.

"Laughter, the Best Medicine" is the topic for Week Thirty-three over at my journal prompts blog, AnceStories2: Stories of Me for My Descendants. Who in your family shares your laugh? Do you sound like one of your grandparents? What about a cousin, aunt, or uncle? Who giggles like you?

I've shared a couple of memories of family laughter at this list of prompts, and I encourage you to leave a record for the generations to come of the jokes, humor, and sounds of laughter of your generation and those that came before you!

Saturday, March 08, 2008

This and That

Reading through my e-mail this morning, I came across these little snippets of interesting items to share with my readers:
  • *The Dowagiac [Michigan] Daily News has a fascinating article about Verge Hawkins, who is lecturing on African-American history at the Museum at Southwestern Michigan College's spring lecture series. He encourages families to study genealogy together "because if you have different generations, they can focus on some things and tell their story. When you tell your own story, you're a much stronger person."
  • *"Today Michigan lawmakers will begin contemplating one of the most heated questions within the adoption community -- should upwards of 20,000 people be allowed to access family information that has been kept secret for decades? Bills in both chambers of the Legislature would allow people adopted between 1945 and 1980 to obtain their original birth certificate. It also would allow birth parents to tell the state whether they want to be contacted, and how. A hearing on the matter will be held today before the House Families and Children's Services subcommittee." My paternal grandmother was one of the "lucky" adoptees whose adoption was finalized in 1940 (when she was 16), so she was able to access her own birth certificate. Thousands of Michigan adoptees have never had that chance. Read more here.
  • *From Cyndi's List Mailing List, a website where you can do an Irish placename search, Irish The placename finder is on this page.
  • *Looking for Michigan newspapers that might carry obituaries online? This list appears to have current--not historical--papers, but some have archived obits, so check it out.
  • *From the Oakland County Mailing List at RootsWeb came this terrific news: "Later this year the State Library will be putting digitized death certificates for Michigan on its website. The years covered will be 1900-1910. Granted its not as much as some states but for Michigan that's a major step!"

Thursday, March 06, 2008

The Family of William Bryan and Marie (LEWIS) ROBBINS, Sr.

Source: Robbins, William Bryan Sr. and Marie (Lewis), Family of. Photograph. October 1942. Original photograph in the possession of Joyce Robbins Sanders, Tulsa, Oklahoma. 2008.

I wanted to feature this photo for several reasons. It is the only group photo I know about of the family of my paternal great-grandparent, William "Bryan" ROBBINS, Sr. and Marie LEWIS. In the back row, from left to right, you can see 15-year-old Lloyd "Jack", father Bryan, and 20-year-old William "Bill" Bryan, Jr. The middle row consists of mother Marie, my grandfather Robert "Bob" Lewis (age 22), and 17-year-old Shirley Marie. In front is the "baby" of the family, Joyce, who as you can see was quite a bit younger than her siblings. Joyce's age is not listed for privacy reasons, she being the only one of this family group still living. As I mentioned earlier this week, my granduncle Bill recently passed away, and I've yet to find an obituary online for him (more to come later).

This photograph was taken October 1942 on the Robbins' farm called Five Acres, just outside of Coopersville, Ottawa Co., Michigan. I believe that the photographer was my paternal grandmother, wife of Bob. Furthermore, I am certain this photo was taken because Bob and Bill had just enlisted in the Army Air Corps during World War Two (Jack joined the Navy two years later). My grandfather had already received a draft notice, but had gotten it deferred because he was married and my aunt was "on the way." My aunt would have been two months old at this time of this photo. Bob and Bill went down to Kalamazoo to enlist together on 13 October 1942, the day after my grandparents' second anniversary. I have often heard that it was common--from the Civil War days forward--for families to take group photos shortly before their son(s) went off to war so that the son(s) could have a copy to remember their families by, and those at home could have one of their whole, intact, family unit, "just in case." There is a similar photo of father Bryan's family, somewhere in the possession of other relatives, with his parents and siblings shortly before his older brother Lloyd went off to fight in the trenches of Europe during World War One. Bryan had not yet been drafted; Lloyd is wearing his Army uniform.

Now to tell a little about my granduncle Bill, since I'm currently unable to find an online obituary: He was born William Bryan Robbins, Jr. on 22 May 1922 in Muskegon Heights, Muskegon Co., Michigan, the second of five children. As mentioned, he joined up with my grandfather and they served together in the Army Air Force. I believe--but am not certain--he served in the same unit as my grandfather, the 1452nd AAF, Alaska Division, Air Transport Command. I do know they were stationed together in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, where Bill met and married Josephine E. Semple, a Canadian citizen. Bill went on to serve in what later became the U.S. Air Force during the Korean and Vietnam Wars. I once heard my grandfather speak with great pride that his brother had attained the highest non-commissioned officer rank in the Air Force. If I heard and understood him correctly, I believe this would be the rank of Chief Master Sergeant.

Uncle Bill and Aunt Jo had a son and a daughter, and at least two grandchildren. Bill was instrumental along with his wife and parents in starting the Reinhart W. Roman American Legion Post 537 and Women Auxiliary in Chester Township, Ottawa Co., Michigan in 1946. He and Jo retired to San Antonio, Bexar Co., Texas. My grandparents and Shirley and Joyce and their husbands also lived or wintered nearby, while Jack and his wife preferred Florida. Ten years and ten days before his own death, Uncle Bill and Aunt Jo were in a terrible collision. It was the day before Jo's 76th birthday, as well as the day before Valentine's Day, and they were going out to eat. As they were making a left-hand turn, an oncoming vehicle hit the passenger side of their automobile, killing Jo and severely injuring Bill. He never fully recovered from his injuries and required some level of care for the rest of his life. Since I'm still waiting to obtain an obituary, I'm not sure if Bill passed away (23 February 2008) in San Antonio or in a community where one of his children was living. I do know that Aunt Jo was buried in Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery in San Antonio, and Bill's name was inscribed on the back of her headstone. One of my aunts told me the plan was for Bill to be interred in the same plot as Jo. My grandfather is buried in a nearby section.

As you can see, this is a poorly sketched-out overview of my granduncle's life, and very likely contains errors. I hope to obtain correct and more detailed information to improve this small tribute.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Updates on Carnival Submission Dates

Just a note: Check my "March Is..." post for recent updates to Carnival submission dates and topics.

Wordless Wednesday: The Family of William Bryan and Marie (LEWIS) ROBBINS, Sr.

Source: Robbins, William Bryan Sr. and Marie (Lewis), Family of. Photograph. October 1942. Original photograph in the possession of Joyce Robbins Sanders, Tulsa, Oklahoma. 2008.

Monday, March 03, 2008

The 43rd Edition of the Carnival of Genealogy is Posted

Before I head off to bed, I wanted to let you all know that Jasia has posted the 43rd Edition of the Carnival of Genealogy. Thirty-two genea-bloggers (some of them Carnival newbies) share their favorite hardware, software and Internet sites in this Technology-themed topic. It's a bit late for me to check them all out tonight, but as soon as I can, I'm going to sit down and enjoy reading all these posts! My own submission for this edition was "Technology and Genealogy."

The next Carnival will be "A Tribute to Women," and will be due March 15th:
Write a tribute to a woman on your family tree, a friend, a neighbor, or a historical female figure who has done something to impact your life. Or instead of writing, consider sharing a photo biography of one woman's life. Or create a scrapbook page dedicated to a woman you'd like to honor. For extra credit, sum up her life in a six-word biography.

Please join us!

Saturday, March 01, 2008

March Is...

...Irish American Heritage Month.

...Women's History Month.

March 1: Korean Independence Movement Day (celebrated in both North and South Korea - independence from Japan)

March 8: International Women's Day

March 17: St. Patrick's Day

March 23: Easter Sunday

March 25: Greek Independence Day

Do any of the above feature in or affect your heritage, culture, or family history?

Carnival Due Dates and Other Events in March:

March 1: 43rd Edition of the Carnival of Genealogy - Technology

March 10: "Where Were You?" Carnival - Great Depression

March 14: 4th Edition of the Carnival of the Carnival of Irish Heritage & Culture - St. Patrick's Day Parade

March 15: 44th Edition of the Carnival of Genealogy - A Tribute to Women

By midday, March 16: Cabinet of Curiosities #5 - Steampunk Edition

March 21: 5th Edition of the Carnival of Central and Eastern European Genealogy - Traditional Dishes

March 29 - April 6: Spring Break Scan-a-Thon

March 30: Scanfest, 11 AM - 2 PM, Pacific Daylight Time

And One More Thing:

March 1 is National Pig Day!

Postcard from Sophie ALMLIE to Randi LERFALD, 2 Aug 1908

Here is the third and last of the 1908 postcards I found I had scanned out of date order.



Source: The Westaby-Lerfald Postcard Collection. Privately held by Troy Midkiff, Vancouver, Washington.

I've been puzzled by this postcard ever since I read it. Dated 2 August 1908 from Baltic, Minnehaha Co., South Dakota, it is written by Sophie ALMLIE to her cousin Miss Randi LERFALD of Baldwin, St. Croix Co., Wisconsin, care of "S. LOKKE." It appears to have been postmarked 3 August 1908, but Rena has written "Aug 8," probably misreading the 3. Originally, the postcard was addressed to Woodville, also in St. Croix County, but as you can see, the city name was crossed out and Baldwin written instead. In fact, it appears that "Baldwin" and "c/o S. Lokke" were written by a different person than Sophie, as if it had been mailed to Woodville and someone there (the postmaster, a relative?) had readdressed it. The card reads:

Dear cousin,

Its a long time since I sent you a picture but I havent herd any about it so you must write tell me. we are all well from,

Sophie Almlie

I simply have no idea who Sophie nor Randi are, nor why Rena had this postcard in her possession. Rena did not have any siblings named Randi, and I cannot find any of her cousins with that name, although it is entirely possible, since the information on her family tree is incomplete enough that I could be missing many relatives. Rena did have an older sister named Sophia, but she married an Alpha LINE, so ALMLIE was not her last name. I can't find any cousins with the name Sophie or Sophia, either, and no one with the last name LOKKE. You'll notice the English grammar and punctuation aren't very good, so it's possible that Sophie was a native speaker of Norwegian. I'll have to do some digging in the census records to see if I can uncover some answers, and perhaps future postcards will reveal more clues to help me solve this little mystery! The next group featured will be from the year 1909.