Sunday, September 7, 2014

My Grandparents: Oscar Wakefield and Sallie Maud (Minton) Beaman

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.

Poppy made gravy every morning from bacon grease, canned milk, flour, and coffee. To this day it is by far the best gravy I have ever eaten, and I despair of ever making it myself. On Saturday morning he made silver dollar pancakes, and the contest was to see how many I could eat. I often had "coffee' with my breakfast. It was the most "au lait" coffee ever, and full of sugar. Delicious!

I still remember going grocery shopping with them on Friday. They shopped at the B & B on Fifth Avenue (in Huntington, West Virginia). I know I was very young because I was riding in the seat of the grocery cart. The first row was bread, and at the end of the aisle were boxes of animal crackers. I always had one to eat as I rode around the store. It was a special treat to go shopping downtown on Saturdays. Mom did not leave the house until she was perfectly dressed, always with hat, shoes, and pocketbook to match her outfit, which were stores in the huge chiffarobe in their bedroom.

I have so many wonderful memories of them, although I was not around them for most of my childhood. I had no idea how special they were until I had children of my own. The love they gave me, the patience they had for a busy tom-boy was boundless. Every child should have wonderful grandparents like them.

Monday, September 1, 2014

A true "Labor Day"

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.

Scott Martelle
Los Angeles Times
“Opinion: The new battle over Blair Mountain -- with lawyers instead of guns.”

Clyde Eastham
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.

Clyde was in many mine accidents. His family and all families dreaded hearing the mine whistle blow. Once his back was broken and he spent a year in a body cast unable to support his family. Miners lived in company housing; for the most part when you didn't work you had no place to live. There was no help for injured miners. Widows and children were thrown out of their homes and left to fend for themselves. It was a rough way to live and people like my grandfather fought to make it better.

Granddad was still in the mines when they were finally unionized during the Roosevelt Administration. In part, due to the Battle of Blair Mountain and the revolt of the southern West Virginia coal miners, after forty years of strife, the “New Deal” National Industrial Recovery Act was enacted in 1933, giving U. S. workers the right to join a union. It was the beginning of new health, safety and financial standards for the mining industry. A coal mine is still a dangerous place to work, but thanks to those men who fought on Blair Mountain and the other labor uprisings early in the twentieth century, countless miners receive the benefits for which those “rednecks” sacrificed so much.

Now coal companies want to destroy Blair Mountain, just like they have destroyed hundreds of other beautiful mountains in the coal fields. I imagine they have to interest in preserving such a historically significant location. We have preserved numerous other battlefields on our soil. I think this one deserves to be preserved too.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Writers' Blog Tour

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.

1. What am I working on?
I was away from home for over a year dealing with family matters, including the death of my Mother. I have done very little writing in that time but I always have a variety of topics in mind, in various stages of completion. I’m excited to get back to genealogy and writing. A recent interest in orphan train research led to an accumulation of documents from two children’s homes. I am transcribing them but I have yet to decide the best option for making them available. I also have a variety of family stories in various stages, from notes from family members to first drafts. My family expects me to write “the book” meaning a sort of compiled genealogy including all of the many stories we have learned. This is the year for that project.

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?
I have written many article and reports, but my favorite genre is simply writing the stories. I prefer to focus on them. Putting them in a historical context is exciting. People, especially one’s own family, make history come alive. Every family has amazing stories to share, but they are often unaware of them. I recently worked on a project that included a sheriff involved in politics accused of murder, a moonshiner (alleged), mysterious deaths, and a connection to President Jimmy Carter through a Revolutionary War soldier. What great material for stories!

3. Why do I write what I do?
I write from a love of family and history. When I stand on those hills pictured on my blog, at the Cumberland Gap, or the land where the old Eastham home was in Boyd County, Kentucky, I see the people who came before me. I want others, especially my family to see them too. There are many stories to write, but so many have been lost. We need to find and preserve all that we can.

4. How does my writing process work?
The process depends on the type of writing I’m doing, but research is key. Often, I will admit, perhaps too much. Each new topic requires new books, both purchased and from a library, and hours of Internet searches. The family stories require research as much as any other topic. I often have ideas while driving or gardening etc. I try to make notes of any ideas that come to me before they are forgotten. As a result I have scraps of bills, napkins, etc. with wonderful ideas! I don’t use outlines or forms as I write. Of course, if I am writing about a topic like land records or migration routes, I have a basic list of points I need to male in my head. Sometimes a phrase comes to mind and gets me going. I love the rhythm of words and the cadence of phrases, and their ability to evoke emotion.

Now I want to introduce two writers to you.
One lives in Oregon, the other in North Carolina. Susan and I were editors for a number of years in addition to our other genealogical activities. I met Lisa through ProGen, a networking opportunity as well as a great educational venue.

Susan LeBlanc, an Accredited Genealogist, began researching her family history over forty years ago. Susan graduated from Brigham Young University with a Bachelor of General Studies degree with a focus in Family History. Working to create accurate and complete family histories is one of her specialties. She enjoys helping others research, lecturing, teaching classes and translation work in Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish. Her husband, six children and five grandchildren have patiently supported her in these pursuits. Susan blogs at Gopher Genealogy.

Lisa Lisson is a genealogist, blogger and etsyprenuer. She specializes in North Carolina and southern Virginia research. For the past five years, Lisa has been blogging about her genealogical adventures at Are You My Cousin?.  As another way to share family history Lisa also creates custom photo jewelry featuring a customer’s own photographs in her online Etsy shop Esther’s Place. Recently, Lisa’s blog and shop moved to

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Road Trips

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.

 More and more often I was able to incorporate some genealogy into our trips: a quick stop at the Montgomery County, North Carolina Courthouse, a side trip through Mayodan to see the cotton mill where my grandparents met, walking up a hill to the saddle of the Cumberland Gap.  I do a presentation about colonial migration routes, so last year we planned a trip through the Shenandoah Valley.

Mayodan, NC Cotton Mill

Mom and me: Fort Sumter

Mom and Lynn: Bridge Day, New River Gorge 

Unfortunately, two days after I arrived in West Virginia, my mother fell and broke her hip. Although she tied, she never really recovered from the fall and the effects of the subsequent surgery. We didn't get our road trip in 2013, and we wouldn't have another chance.

So today, before I finally head back to Oregon after the better part of fourteen months away from home, my sister and I are continuing our tradition. We are heading for Shepherdstown and Harpers Ferry, West Virginia,  Winchester and Front Royal, Virginia, and Skyline Drive.  We'll drive along Skyline Drive, look at places our ancestors might have lived, visit museums, and in the Eastham family tradition, eat a lot of good food.  

It will be bittersweet, but we'll have to sing:

On the road again
Just can't wait to get on the road again
The life I love is making music with my friends
And I can't wait to get on the road again

On the road again
Goin' places that I've never been
Seein' things that I may never see again
And I can't wait to get on the road again

                              Willie Nelson

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Summer Genealogy Fest with Tom Jones

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, 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
—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

Friday, July 4, 2014

John Chadwick: Revolutionary War Soldier

John Chadwick was born some time around 1760. He was living in North Carolina when the Revolutionary War broke out around him. His father's house was burned, and John joined the army.

5 September 1836. Declaration of John Chadwick, County Court, Greenup, Kentucky.

John Chadwick took part in the Battle of Guilford Courthouse on March 15, 1871 a crucial battle of the Southern Campaign.[1]  Although Major General Nathaniel Green and his 4,500 militia and Continental troops were forced to withdraw by a smaller army led by Lord Cornwallis, it was at a huge cost to the English army. The battle broke the tide of the British in the Carolinas; Cornwallis withdrew to Virginia, where he surrendered at Yorktown that October.[2]

After the war John moved to Kentucky.  On 12 March 1796, in Paris, Bourbon County, he married Kerenhappuch Shortridge, the daughter of George Shortridge and Margaret Muir.[3] The couple raised a family of twelve children in Greenup County, Kentucky.[4]

After Kerenhappuch's death on 17 May 1840, John married the widow Lucinda Bartrum.[5] Both John and his widow Lucinda received a pension based on his service in the Revolutionary War. John died on 4 April 1850.[6] John was buried in a family cemetery on land along the Big Sandy River in Greenup County. The Ashland Oil Company purchased the land and numerous graves were moved from the original cemetery. The original tombstones were removed, but were not placed in the new location.

1. John Chadwick pension file; digital image, ( : downloaded 2 July 2014) 
images from Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files, NARA M804, no roll number given.
2."Battle of Guilford Courthouse"
3. Bourbon County Marriage Register, County Clerk, Paris.
4. "John Chadwick Family Bible 1797-1821, "Tree Shaker, Vol 3, # 1, winter 1979; transcription John Chadwick Family Bible by Doris C Miller.
5. John Chadwick pension file.
6. John Chadwick pension file.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Thelma Edith (Eastham) Corley, My Mother

Thelma Edith (Eastham) Corley, of Huntington, quietly passed away on Wednesday, January 29, 2014. Known since childhood as “Tinker”, she was a loving mother, grandmother, sister, and friend, and will be greatly missed. She was born February 3, 1928 in Logan County, West Virginia, to Clyde Herbert Eastham and Mary Dorcas Forbes, the fifth child in the family. Thelma was preceded in death by sisters Olive Garrett and Lucille Barker, and brothers Edward, Okey, and infant Carlton Eastham. She is survived by sisters Velma (William) McClung and Mildred (Pete) Trippett, and brothers Malcolm (Debbie), Clyde Robert, Harold (Paula), and Jerry Eastham.
Thelma lived for many years in southern California where she raised her family; they moved to Hood River, Oregon, when her husband, the late Egbert “Ted” Corley, retired.  She was a long time member and employee of the Hood River Assembly of God Church. Gardening was a favored activity and she enjoyed many summer afternoons sitting in her garden among her beautiful flowers. She loved her numerous “Road Trips” throughout her life with her family and friends, and always began every trip with prayer and a verse from On the Road Again.

"Tinker" on the right with baby brother Carlton.

Her three children with husband Gordon Wakefield Beaman (deceased) are: Judith Scott of Portland, Oregon; Lynn Walker (Bill) of Huntington, West Virginia; and Marc Beaman (Janet) of Hilton Head, South Carolina. She is a loving and proud “Gram” to her five grandchildren, Kim and Rick Searcy, Jamaal Scott, Lisa Muto (Marc), and Marcus Beaman (Holly) and four step-grandchildren, Joshu Becken, Michael (Jodi) and Mac (Rachel) Walker, and Sara (Odo) vonWulffen.
Her fourteen great-grandchildren, to whom she is “Gram” or “Great”, are:  Brynn and Ian Searcy; Lindsay, Wyatt, Charlie, and Ella Beaman; Riley and Ryan Muto; Kolbey and Jamison Walker; Kylie Seaton; and Max, Nikolaus and Juliana vonWulffen.
  A Memorial Service was held on Sunday, February 2, at  Beard Mortuary with her cousin Ronald Eastham officiating.  

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

NGS Announces Live Streaming of the 2014 Family History Conference

National Genealogical Society Announces Live Streaming Broadcast 2014 Family History Conference Richmond, Virginia 7–10 May 2014

Track One: Records and Research Techniques
Track Two:  Virginia Resources and Migration Patterns