Monday, March 23, 2015
I didn’t set out to be a genealogist. I didn’t say, “I’m going to be a genealogist one day.” There was a day, however, when I said “I am a genealogist.” But it was a long and tortuous journey. My previous blog post about my uncle explains how that journey began. Because I didn’t set out to be a genealogist, I made many, many mistakes as I began my research. Most of those mistakes are discussed in a blog post by Roberta Estes at DNAeXplained – Genetic Genealogy entitled “Eleven Things I Would Do Differently.”
Although it has been a slow process I, too, have learned a few things. I always loved the family stories I heard. When I was young my grandfather, Poppy, told me about his travels across the country before he married. I especially remember him talking about the Dalton gang and an Indian princess. Of course, I wish I had asked more questions. I wish I remembered more, but I wasn’t more than five or six when he told me about them. But I’ve always wondered. Now I try to record the stories I hear. I started by writing notes about them, but I can’t tell you how many little scraps of paper I have with notes and no identifying information. Yes, even napkins!
Eventually, I started carrying a spiral notebook with me whenever I am with my family or on a research trip. We spend a lot of time driving; I tried a voice recorder, but it picked up too much road noise. Then I discovered that if I turned on my video camera it recorded the conversation quite nicely. I just set it on the seat or between the seats-I don’t point it at anyone. If I’m not driving I’m also jotting notes in the current spiral notebook. They’re all so used to me doing this now no one pays attention.
If you were to look at all the papers in my office, you can see the evolution of my genealogy research. From scraps of paper with no dates, napkins with scrawled notes, to notebooks and documents with proper citations and photos of documents including title pages and microfilm boxes. I have come a long way. I always travel with a notebook and a camera. If I can, I often make scans or copies too. (I always have a laptop, but I transfer the information to it later.) I have a great digital camera that allows me to take photos, even at 70 miles per hour. I take pictures of road signs and landmarks as we travel. It’s a photo diary, of sorts. I can look at a series of pictures and know when and where they were taken. Over the years, I developed a system that works for me. Everyone has to find their own.
With all the classes, books, seminars, webinars, and online resources available to beginning genealogists they have the opportunity to do things the right way from the beginning. But, with the excitement of the chase, I imagine that they will make their share of the same mistakes.
I have lost four family members this past year. Never again can I ask “when did that happen,” or “who is in that picture.” I put off the DNA tests too long, and now it’s too late. So don’t wait to read “Eleven Things I Would Do Differently,” and put those steps into practice. Don’t wait until you are rummaging in a box of papers and find an unidentified note on a napkin that you wrote years ago that will, once and for all, answer the question you didn’t know needed answering when you wrote the note on the napkin.
By the way, Poppy was in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, at the same time as Emmett Dalton, after he was released from prison. I haven’t found the Indian princess.
Tuesday, March 10, 2015
|Harold Ray Eastham|
Last month we said goodbye to another family member, my uncle, Harold Ray Eastham.
Harold was the original genealogist for our family. He had an abiding love of family and our heritage and he has passed it along. He was certainly a big influence in my life. If it weren’t for him I might not be a genealogist.
He carried a black briefcase with him, full of old family photographs and copies of documents he had gathered from family members, or potential family members, far and wide. He did genealogy his own way: looking in phone books, knocking on doors, and calling everyone with the Eastham surname. He was often invited to speak at other reunions about the Eastham family. He couldn’t tell you about proper citations, or how to number your genealogy, but he knew all things Eastham. So much so that when a distant relative died, he was given the portrait of his great-grandparents, George Nathaniel Eastham and Susan Margaret Chadwick; because she knew he was the one who would cherish it.
I remember the first time he took me to two old family cemeteries in Boyd County, Kentucky after a family reunion. I hadn’t spent much time in Kentucky, and I had no idea where we were. I vaguely knew of some of the occupants in the first cemetery, but not the second. After visiting the cemeteries, we went to see the remains of an old family home and I was hooked. Now I spend part of every summer roaming the hills looking for old cemeteries.
Sunday, October 12, 2014
I was delighted to be invited to participate in a Writers' Blog Tour by fellow blogger and ProGen friend, Liz Loveland. The purpose of the tour is to highlight writers and bring attention to their blogs. Each participant is to answer the following four questions and introduce two new writers. My post has taken some additional time to post; soon after Liz asked me to participate I had to load a moving truck and drive across the country from West Virginia to my home in Oregon. Two days later I was scheduled to speak at the Genealogical Council of Oregon Genealogy Fest in Eugene.
An old plow in pieces.
A box of rocks.
My son Jamie and his girlfriend Tammy didn't bat an eye at the curious assortment of items crammed into the rental truck I drove across the country recently. The only remarks were from Tammy, who was counting chairs as she discovered them in the truck. Nine, nine chairs, including my Grandmother’s dining room chairs. The truck was loaded with things from my Mother’s house. I would have driven a bigger one but I was worried about driving a wider, longer truck across the country by myself. There was a reason for every item in that truck, even the big box of rocks. From the family that shipped, or carried, an antique cast iron (heavy) rabbit across the country three times, a box of rocks in a truck is nothing. As a matter of fact, several of those rocks traveled to West Virginia from North Carolina first.
Also in the truck: starts from garden plants, most I had sent her; more than 40 packing boxes and about 20 large plastic bins; tubs of photos, of course; a collection of old strainers and colanders; coal miner’s lamps; and a lifetime of memories.
Sunday, September 7, 2014
For a little girl full of energy, with two younger siblings, Mom and Pop's house was my haven. I could, and did, run clothes through the wringer washer, take blankets and sheets outside and make huge "Arabian" tents over the clotheslines, frequently cause volcanoes to erupt in the kitchen, and play with snakes in the yard. They put up with it all, with kindness and patience.
Their house had a wrap-around porch lined with pots of flowers and a swing. I liked nothing better than to set on the swing in the midst of a thunderstorm. Mom would be calling out the window, "Judi Ann, get in this house before you get struck by lightening," or some such. I still love thunderstorms.
Monday, September 1, 2014
You can visit just about any long-operating city in this country and find a local monument to the rich capitalist who built the mansion during year whatever. But you have to look far and wide to find memorials to the people whose labor created those riches, to those who died in the battles for such modern-day givens as the eight-hour work day and weekends off, and to the organizers who brought the workers together into the unions that helped create the nation’s now-disappearing middle class.
Los Angeles Times
“Opinion: The new battle over Blair Mountain -- with lawyers instead of guns.”
The crutches are due to a mine injury.
"On a hot summer day in 1921 Clyde Herbert Eastham slung his shotgun over his shoulder, kissed his young wife and babies goodbye, and marched out the door of his cramped coal camp cabin to join thousands of other West Virginia miners in a strike that had the attention of the entire country."
That is the beginning of a story I wrote about my grandfather, Clyde Herbert Eastham, and his participation in the struggle to unionize the coal mines of West Virginia. This particular attempt culminated in the Battle of Blair Mountain and ended in defeat. Thousands of miners marched in West Virginia tired of their working conditions, including the murder of many who tried to change the system. They made a stand on Blair Mountain, against an army of “special deputies”, Baldwin-Felts thugs, state police, and eventually federal troops, accompanied by 14 armed bombers. My grandfather was blacklisted from the mines for years, but he continued the effort, even holding secret meetings at his home.
Thursday, July 10, 2014
On the road again
Every year, sometime after our Eastham family reunion on the second Saturday in June, it has been our practice to take a road trip: my mother, my sister, and me. Several of our trips covered bits of the Blue Ridge Parkway. We even stopped by Dollywood one summer and liked it way more than we expected.
Always, as soon as we were on the highway, Mom would sing "On the road again . . ." She was always excited to take a trip. My sister says if you called and ask her to take a trip she would be standing at the curb with her bag packed before you hung up.
Mom was game for anything. Several years ago she rode the highest roller coaster in the world (at that time) at Cedar Point with my son Jamie and me. Recently Lynn and I took her up Grandfather Mountain to stand on a metal bridge in a storm, just because we always wanted to do it, and this was our chance.
|Mom, Lynn, Judi: Mile high swinging bridge, Grandfather Mountain, North Carolina.|
Sunday, July 6, 2014
Additional Classes Available:
Naturalizations: All The Papers in Packet, by Jewell Dunn
Cutting Through the Confusion: Research in Upstate New York, by Karen Mauer Green, CG, FGBS
Fabulous and Free FamilySearch.org, by JoAnne Haugen, AG®
Using the Flip-Pal Scanner with Photoshop Elements, by Jim Johnson
Getting From Then To Now Locating People In The Last Century, by Leslie Lawson
Ancestry.com—Tips and Tricks, by Susan LeBlanc, AG®
Artifacts and Our Ancestor’s Lives, by Connie Lenzen, CG
What’s A Deed?, by Kevin Mittge
Start Writing—Your ancestor’s legacy depends upon it!, by Steven W. Morrison
Placing Out: The Story of America’s Orphan Train Children, by Judith Beaman Scott
Dating and Identifying Your Family Photographs, by Karen Wallace Steely
Correlation for Beginners: How to use simple tables to see your evidence differently., by Eric Stroschein