Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Wordless Wednesday - A Repaired Grayscale Photo


This is a picture of Mary Laurent nee Dart (my husband's great grandmother).  The original that I scanned has some discoloration so I used my software and used the grayscale tool to re-grayscale the entire image.  Then I used the cloning tool with various degrees of opacity (depending on what blemish I was working on) to fix the rest of the photo.  My auto-correct feature brightened the image after all was done (although this could be done first if you prefer).

After using the grayscale tool
As wordless as I can be!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Amanuensis Monday - A Great Reason to Transcribe...

Last Tuesday I posted about the Rt. Rev. John Brown.  I had wondered who he was, came to some conclusions and vowed to continue my research.  I had a feeling that he was a relative.  As it turns out, I was right.  How did I discover it? 

My mom emailed me because of the John Browns I listed in that post, she recognized the city "Southern Pines, N.C." as being a place many priests were sent on missions.  That made me laugh!  Probably sent to convert the South to Catholicism!  Too funny. 

But even before my mom emailed me with this tid-bit I had already performed another search for John Browns on Ancestry and came up with the following result from the North Carolina Death Collection:

This John was born in Pennsylvania at the right year, never married and was then buried out of state.  Sounds right for my priest, but it wasn't a confirmation, but then the church in Hazleton, PA that buried him responded to my email and told me that the Rev. Brown in their cemetery was buried in September 1986.  So of the John Browns I had found in the SSDI, the Southern Pines John was the right John.  This didn't tell me that he was a relative though. That's where I credit transcribing and taking part in Amanuensis Monday for (once again) saving the day (and an awful lot of time).

I was going to transcribe an obituary.  I knew that.  I wasn't sure which one though.  I had gone through so many this summer while back home and I wanted to start getting them online.  I was a bad girl though and didn't give many of them more than a cursory glance when I first found them.  The trip back home was crammed with family time and genealogy spread in between...not to mention my 10 and 5 year olds.  So now I get to transcribing the obituary for Charles Brown, Sr.

21SEP1935 - Hazleton Standard-Sentinel


Charles B. Brown, Sr.

Charles B. Brown, prominent resident of Hazleton, died at his home, 531 Arthur street, at 2 o'clock on Sunday afternoon after a two months' illness, due to complications.  He was born in this city, where he spent his entire life.

Mr. Brown was bottom foreman for the Lehigh Valley Coal Co. at the Hazleton Shaft colliery for 35 years.  He was a member of St. Gabriel's church and of the Holy Name Society of that parish.  He was a third baseman of the old Hazleton Athletics' team of many years ago.

His wife, formerly Anna LeGrande, died eight years ago.  Surviving are the following children:  Mrs. William McLaughlin, Washington, D. C.; Charles Brown, Jr., of Hazleton; Leo Brown, Cumberland, Md.; Mrs. George Cassidy, Elizabeth, N. J.; Esther and Marian, at home; Mrs. John Hooper, Elizabeth, N. J.; John of Mt. St. Mary's Seminary, Emmittsburg, Md.

Three brothers also survive, Thomas and Neil Brown, of Hazleton, and Patrick Brown of West Hazleton.

The funeral will be held on Wednesday morning at 9 o'clock.  Solemn high mass of requiem will be offered u pin St. Gabriel's church at 9:30, and interment will be made in St. Gabriel's cemetery."

Published in the Hazleton Standard-Sentinel, 21JAN1935

Charles Bernard Brown Sr was my 2nd great uncle.  The brother to my great grandfather, Thomas Brown Sr., and the father to Rev John Brown, which makes John my 1st cousin twice removed.

Of course, his son, John, isn't a priest as of his death, but was going through the seminary.  That's enough to confirm it for me.  Yes, I'll be requesting John's death certificate from North Carolina as well as checking to see if I can get any of the seminary records or find out where he served as a priest.  I'm not overly familiar with all that, so I may be talking to my priest to find out how the Church keeps it's records.

What I will be doing when I go back home next year is looking for the burial/funeral notice for Charles Sr...and John.  It's on my Research Calendar.  I look forward to seeing what else is out there!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Sunday's Obituary - A Little Bit of the Luck o' the Irish

Uncle Tommy's tombstone
Benjamin putting flowers at Uncle Tommy's grave

A few months ago I posted a Tuesday's Tall Tales about my great uncle, Thomas Brown Jr.  There were many rumors about uncle Tommy including one that he was run out of Hazleton, PA during prohibition for gambling, that he eventually settled in Elmira, NY and ran a whorehouse.

During my summer vacation I went up to Elmira to look for his obituary in the local papers (hoping to find scandal in his death) and visit his gravesite which I was fairly certain hadn't been visited in a long time, if ever.

That morning I packed my little ones up in the car making sure that their DSi's were charged, DVD players working, and we drove north from Greentown, PA to Elmira.  I had offered to take some pictures for a fellow geneablogger at a location on my way to Elmira.  I had the absolute worst luck that morning.  I found the cemetery (or at least I thought I had), but there was no caretaker.  The cemetery was a pretty good size, but the boys and I started looking.  We eventually figured that we should head down to what appeared to be the older section of the cemetery since the graves we were looking for should have been there.  After 45 minutes of not finding even one surname (let alone the right person), I jumped on my iPhone and went to FindAGrave.com.  The picture of the cemetery sign didn't look like the one out front and the map was slightly off.  I cursed my Garmin and jumped back in the car with my boys just as it started to rain.

I enlarged the map that was posted on FindAGrave and plotted the nearest intersection to the cemetery.  Good.  It was only about 5 miles away.  I let my Garmin lead me to what I hoped was the correct cemetery.  I ended up in an industrial park.  Now I not only cursed the Garmin, but FindAGrave's map.

OK, I thought.  This kind of sucks.  Looks like the cemetery isn't going to happen, so I figured I'd find the old stomping grounds for her.  She had wanted a picture of a sign for the place and I was hopeful, but had no luck finding anything on Google before my trip.  I tried my cursed Garmin and hoped that it would do better this time.  I did several different searches to no avail and then at least found a road that matched.  It was a long shot, but I set my Garmin to get to the road and I hoped that I would find a sign that matched what she was looking for there.  It was absolutely beautiful farm country and the drive was enjoyable, but I never found the sign.  The road was only a few miles long and the best I got was a picture of the street sign.

By now I was feeling more than a little disappointed.  I know that sometimes searches don't work out, but I had made the offer and thought that I would at least come back with something.  It was almost noon and I knew I needed to head to Elmira if I was going to research my great uncle at all that day.  The sun was starting to come out, but it didn't reflect my mood at that point.  We were hungry by now and the kids were starting to get grumpy without food so I set the Garmin to the Elmira library and hoped it would take me there.

We arrived about 30 or 40 minutes later to a construction filled area.  I missed the library entrance and was just in such a foul mood by now that I did something that my straight and narrow mind wouldn't normally conceive of...I parked in a neighboring parking lot, ignoring the signs that it was for their use only (I know...I'm just sooo bad!).  It was time to forage for food and there was supposed to be a pizza joint a couple blocks away.  New York and pizza...I had to go.  I grabbed the kids and we headed down the street.

I saw the pizzeria...a hole in the wall.  That's not a bad thing when were talking pizza in New York so I wasn't deterred at all.  As I crossed the street I noticed that the strip mall-ish building that it was in had a marker in front of it.  Apparently Mark Twain's house used to stand on this site.  Oh how depressing!  Seriously?  Mark Twain and Elmira, NY?  I had no idea...but the thought that his historic (or should have been, historic) home was now a strip mall.  Holy heck!  OK.  This day was just...well...not what I had been expecting or hoping for.  I wasn't feeling as hopeful at what I would find in the library.

The only thing left to mark the Twains' home!
Strip mall where Mark Twain's home used to be

We sat down to some Cokes and our slices of pizza and ate.  We had finished our pizza and were just relaxing and sipping our Cokes when I heard one of the guys at the pizzeria ask a co-worker, "Hey you latched the back door, right?  Because that doesn't look good."  I followed his gaze.  He was staring out the front door.  I turned and saw a rather ominous sky.  I whipped out my Weather Channel app and opened it up.  Yep...Severe Thunderstorm Warning for Elmira.  Checked the radar.  Crap!

Severe weather added to the day

I live in Texas.  It's been nasty-hot for the entire summer and I was happy to be visiting up north, but when I came it got 100+ degrees nasty hot up there too.  Today wasn't quite at 100 degrees in Elmira, but it was in the upper 90s.  As a result of the heatwave, the a/c was broken in the library and it was pretty unpleasant in there.  I was in luck in finding an obituary, a funeral notice and burial notice in the Elmira Star Gazette.  I checked the paper during that time frame for anything sensational about uncle Tommy and didn't find it.  I made copies of the information I did find, but it wasn't a lot.

Elmira Star Gazette, 07DEC1957, pg 2
"Thomas J. Brown of 114 W. First St., Friday, Dec. 6, 1957.  Survived by brothers, Edward Brown of Hazleton, PA., Walter of Philadelphia.  Body at O'Dea Funeral Home.  Funeral announcement later."

Elmira Star Gazette, 08DEC1957, pg 10

"Thomas J. Brown of 114 W. First St. Today at O'Dea Funeral home.  Funeral there Monday at 11:45 a.m., the Rev. Eldred Simpkins.  Woodlawn National Cemetery."

Elmira Star Gazette, 09DEC1957, pg 9

"Thomas J. Brown of 114 W. First St. Funeral today at 11:45 at the O'Dea Funeral Home, the Rev. Eldred Simkins.  Pallbearers:  Abe Mills, Toni Turchio, Charles Forgensi, Russell Hamilton, Charles Lawrence, and Donald Tarantelli.  Woodlawn National Cemetery."

Talk about a whole lotta nothin'.  I knew that uncle Tommy was the black sheep of the family, but not much had been put in the paper.  Heck, they were barely complete sentences.  It was disappointing.  I packed up my stuff and let my boys play with the huge floor chess set on the ground floor of the library.  I hoped I would find something more in the Hazleton, PA paper where he was born.  I consoled myself that way.  Maybe even figure out who the pallbearers were.  They weren't family.  Why weren't they family?  Not a single family member.

Boy the trip felt wasted.  As the boys and I went back to the car it was only drizzling out.  They buckled up and I sat there for a minute...114 W. First Street...what the hell, "Boys we're going to see where uncle Tommy used to live."  They didn't really care one way or another, but I wanted to see if it was still standing.  I wanted to try to salvage something out of the trip and it was too late to head to the courthouse for records on the property.  A picture (if it was still there) would have to do.

I plugged the address into the Garmin as I sat in my illegal parking space.  It thought for a moment and then it showed me the map, asking if I wanted to go there.  I selected "GO" and watched as the highlighted map to uncle Tommy's appeared on the screen...I was sitting across the street from it!

Well, not directly across the street.  That was a fire station.  It was technically the house next to the fire station...and it was still there.  All brown and big.  I was seeing the back entrance to the building (although I didn't know it at the time).  I saw that most of the windows were boarded up and painted green.  Was it abandoned or was this just how it was supposed to be?  Why would you board up windows?

My first glimpse of Uncle Tommy's residence
I took some pictures and then decided to drive around to the front.  There really was nothing else on this entire street block except the fire station, 114 W. First Street and a CVS Pharmacy, so I cut through the pharmacy parking lot.  I realized I had been in the back of the building and that the front of the building had a business sign in front of it...

The sign in front of Uncle Tommy's house
Holy cow!  The Green Derby Cafe...an Irish pub/cafe.  I was tickled!  Had it been like this when uncle Tommy owned it?  I didn't know and it was too late for the courthouse.  More to do next year.  I went home elated.  A pretty disappointing day felt better somehow just because I had found that the place where the "whorehouse" would have been was an Irish pub.  Yeah...that sounds like a good front.  Or maybe it wasn't a whorehouse at all and he was just into gambling and booze.  Sounds like it would fit with the stories.  Maybe I should look for some arrest records.  Hmmm.

A few days later I went to Hazleton to see the Greater Hazleton Historical Society and visit the library for some microfilmed newspapers.  I found most of the obituaries I was looking for and a better one on uncle Tommy.

The Plain Speaker, 07DEC1957, pg 10

"Thomas J. Brown

Thomas J. Brown, 53, 116 West First Street, Elmira, N.Y. died yesterday of complications following a six-week's illness.

He was a native of this city and lived in Elmira for the past 30 years.

Surviving are two brothers: Edward J. Brown, vice principal of Grebey Junior High School, and Walter H. Brown, a teacher in the Philadelphia public schools.

The funeral will be held Monday morning from the late home in Elmira."

The address was a bit off, but I wasn't too concerned about it.  I knew from my mother that uncle Tommy actually owned the building he lived in and I doubted it was the CVS pharmacy.  Being the Irish pub just makes too much sense.  Could I be wrong?  Sure.  I won't know for sure until I can find other information to fill in this bit of family history.  Now I knew approximately when he moved to Elmira.  This will undoubtedly be helpful.

Sometimes, even when your day seems to suck, you get a little bit of Irish luck!

The front of the Green Derby Cafe

The side of the Green Derby Cafe where Uncle Tommy lived

The back of where Uncle Tommy lived

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Wordless Wednesday - Granny was a Flapper?

Mary Ann Brown nee Quirk
OK, so I don't know if she was a flapper, but hubba hubba!  My grandma Brown was so gorgeous.  I wish I knew her!

(Don't worry Uncle Ed...I haven't forgotten about you...I still have those great yearbook photos to post!)

Monday, September 19, 2011

Tombstone Tuesday - Who is Rt. Rev. John Brown?

Saint Gabriel's Cemetery, Hazleton, PA
Since I mentioned in a recent post, "A Well-Known Hazleton Baseball Player" about Rev. John Brown and how he'd been named in several family member's funeral notices, I figured I'd honor him this Tombstone Tuesday.

I still think he's a relative.  If you look at yesterday's post you may notice that Father Brown came up from Raleigh, North Carolina to be at and take part in the funeral.  Not really something that would have occurred unless he was family, so I decided to jump into my family tree and see if we've got any like players...

There is a John Brown in the family tree without a lot of information.  He's the son of Charles Brown and by looking at the 1910 and 1920 census he would have been born around 1909, just like the Rt. Rev. Brown.  Neil (who he helped celebrate the funeral mass for) would have been his uncle.

There is another John Brown in the tree (the son of the deceased), but this John was born 29SEP1927.  Wrong birth date and he would have been 10 years old when his dad died, so we can cross him out.

These are the only 2 John Browns in my tree.  Does that mean that I'm not missing one?  Of course not, but it is looking likely that the son of Charles is the John that became the priest.  I can still kick myself for not looking up his obituary when I was home a couple months ago!

I performed a search on Ancestry.com's copy of the SSDI and came up with the following John Browns born in 1909 and dying in 1986:

Ancestry.com search results

Only 6 and that's not bad.  Two, in fact, are listed in North Carolina.  Could be.  He was a priest, after all, so it's certainly possible that this is where his parish was and he came back home to Pennsylvania to be buried in the cemetery of the family's church.  Now I don't know why, but I get this impression that Father Brown was in the military too.  I don't know why this sticks in my mind.  It could be because Rev. McElwee (also listed in Neil Brown's obituary and in a separate blog post) is on my mind.  One of the things I'll have to check.  It's not listed on his tombstone, so it could just be my cruddy mind wandering off.

So where do I go from here?  I'm certainly not going to request 6 death certificates.  The SSDI isn't perfect and he could be absent from that list.  Nope.  I'm going to start simple.  Saint Gabriel's is an awesome church.  Granted, I've got quite a bias there...my ancestors helped found it and I was baptized there (as was my youngest child!), but they are very sweet about responding to requests about burials and I doubt they would object to one of their priests being remembered.

So an email to Saint Gabriel's church and most likely seeing how much a copy of the obituary from the local library would be after I find the date he was interred.  I should think that such a man would be remembered in the local paper even if he did die elsewhere. I'll keep ya posted!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Amanuensis Monday - A Well-Known Hazleton Baseball Player

Neil Brown Jr*

At least that's what his obituary says.  I will certainly be trying to find out more about my 2nd great uncle, Neil Brown Jr.  I'll have to look for pictures of the baseball team (I thought it was neat to see it spelled as 2 words rather than a compound word) and see if any of the pallbearers were former teammates.  Rev. McElwee was a relative and I've blogged about him previously, but I don't have any information yet on Rev. John Brown, although if I recall correctly, he was a relative too.  I wish I'd gone and looked up his obituary while I was at home during the summer!  Oh well...I'll put it on my to-do list for next summer!

"Neil Brown Dies In Mine

Former Well Known Base Ball Player Succumbs From Heart Attack.

Neil Brown, of 243 South Wyoming street, former well known base ball player died suddenly at 11 o'clock from a heart attack in the Hazleton No. 1 mine of the Lehigh Valley Coal Company where he was employed as a contract miner.  Mr. Brown several days ago was hurt when he was struck by a piece of timber.

Shortly before he passed away he was stricken with a pain on the side.  He asked for a drink of water and collapsed [sic] shortly afterwards.

He was taken to the State Hospital in the Valley Coal Company ambulance but life was extinct when he reached the institution.

Michael Ferrai of Hayes street, deputy coroner, viewed the body at the hospital.

Mr. Brown was born in Hazleton and was the son of the late Neil and Nancy Brown.  in his younger days he was a ball player.  he covered third base for the Hazleton team which at that time was managed by Harry Dryfoos which played its games at Hazle Park.

He was married in St. Ann's church at Woodside to Miss Bridget Brown, a native of Freeland.  Mr. Brown was a member of St. Gabriel's church and the Holy Name Society.  Surviving him are his wife and the following children:  Mrs. Rodney Prosser, of Tamaqua; Mrs. Clyde Barth, of West Hazleton; James, Nancy, Neil Jr., Rita, Eugene, Paul, Jack, Joan and Charles Brown, all of this city.  Two brothers, Thomas Brown and Patrick Brown, of Hazleton, also survives.

No arrangements have yet been made for the funeral."

[Published in the Hazleton Plain Speaker, 30OCT1937 pg 18]

"All that was mortal of Neil Brown, of 243 South Wyoming street, former Hazleton baseball player was laid to rest today.  The funeral was held at 9:10 this morning followed by a solemn high mass of requiem in St. Gabriel's church at 9:30.  Rev. Father Charles McElwee, formerly of Hazleton, pastor of the Nativity church, Scranton, was celebrant, Rev. Father John Brown of Raleigh, North Carolina, deacon and Rev. Father Edward Lynch of St. Gabriel's sub-deacon.  The pallbearers were: James Fox, Andrew Rondash, John Breslin, Nicholas Klinic, Andrew Kennedy, and Timothy Ryan.  Interment followed in St. Gabriel's cemetery. Rev. Father Brown gave the blessing at the grave."

[Published in the Hazleton Plain Speaker, 02NOV1937, pg 16]

A rather uninformative tombstone for Neil's family

*My cousin Nancy O'Donoghue nee Brown sent me this picture.  It had been labeled "Neil Brown".  Since there are at least 4 Neil Browns it's hard to say for sure that this is Neil Brown Jr.  From the age of the picture and the fact that it appears he is wearing a baseball uniform, I would say with 90% certainly that this is Neil Jr.  Unfortunately, since my dear cousin Nancy has passed away, I can no longer ask her.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Happy Anniversary (Again)

Dana Cignarella, Rick and Cherie Cayemberg and Jeff Ryan Sr

My husband and I actually have 2 anniversaries.  We had a civil wedding first and then did the proper church wedding later (which I blogged about a few months ago).  Why the two weddings?  An interesting story...

My husband and I were both in the Army and stationed in Hawaii.  We knew that we were going to get married eventually and I was playing the good girlfriend and try not to ask every 5 minutes when it would happen.  In September 1999 my husband and I took a trip to Maui.  At his unit's last Christmas party he had won a trip for two so we decided that we'd go.  Maui was gorgeous (naturally!), but our hotel room was not.  No biggie.  As my now husband said, "We'll only be sleeping there."  So we spent the majority of our days there out and about, which is really what needed to be done anyway!

The view from the top of Haleakala
We decided to take a bike ride down the Haleakala volcano and we opted to go with a company that let you do it yourself rather than in a group.  We wanted to take our time and stop when we wanted to.  It was almost entirely downhill, so it wasn't like it was incredibly difficult.  The view from the crater of the volcano was very cool.  We were above the clouds.  What an interesting perspective.  Just like being in a plane, but it's open-air.  A bit odd to say the least.  And cold.  Cold is a word I would use too.  Not freezing cold, although that could happen too, but chilly cold.  You had to layer your clothes to do this bike ride.  At the top with a light jacket (preferably waterproof) and you could peel off layers on the way down.

We had decided that we'd stop and picnic on the way down and we did.  Rick saw a farm that over-looked the lower "saddle" portion of Maui complete with ocean on both sides of the "saddle."  We parked our bikes and climbed over the fence to the farm and sat down.  I know...we were bad, sneaking onto someone farm, but that wasn't how we saw it.  We just wanted the view.  I don't remember what we ate.  It was eclipsed by my husband taking a twist tie (like the ones on a loaf of bread) and fashioning it into an engagement ring and asking if I would marry him.

Rick sitting where he asked me to marry him
I'm sure some women would have taken a look at that and thought only of diamonds.  Not me.  I immediately said yes.  I knew this was the man I wanted to spend forever with...garbage bag tie ring or diamond.  He slipped it on my finger and gave me a kiss.  Then he took the real diamond ring out of his pocket and put that on my finger!  And he thinks he's not romantic!

I almost ruined the surprise and busted him that morning before we set off on our bike ride.  He was wondering around wearing his Umbro shorts.  The only pocket they have is one on the back.  I noticed a big lump on his butt and reached out with a "What's in your pocket?"  I really was dim.  I never thought that an engagement ring was coming that day.  He swatted my hand away and I still didn't figure it out.  I suppose he moved the ring to a pocket in the backpack we took, which was probably a good thing.  Could you imagine losing the ring on a 20 mile (ish) bike ride?

It was only a couple weeks later that we decided to get married.  We'd been living together since I moved out to Hawaii about 4 months earlier and he was getting ready to go to a 2 month long military school.  He thought it would be best to finalize the deal before he left.  Now it was a rush.  We got the marriage license and found someone to perform the ceremony.  Where did we get married?  On a beach at sunset of course!  Diamond Head Beach Park (also known as Leahi Beach Park) to be exact.  It was a small wedding, and it was the day before he was leaving for school!  We had our 2 witnesses and that was that.  My uncle Jeff was one of the two witnesses.  The other was a friend stationed out there.  I would have preferred to have had my Uncle Jeff and Aunt Cathy as witnesses, but because our wedding was so last minute, my aunt had to be back on the mainland that weekend for work.

Rick's family sometimes wondered if he was ever going to get married, so in true Rick form, he called them up the night before the wedding with a, "Hey, at whatever o'clock tomorrow (yes I don't remember the time we got married!) have a beer for me!"  The response was always, "Why?" and the answer, "Because I'll be getting married."  That's my hubby!

Me being all girlie and crying
It was beautiful (although the pictures aren't the best) and I did cry.  My uncle took us out to dinner afterward to celebrate at a wonderful restaurant called David Paul's and the food was the best I had eaten!  It was such a wonderful end to the day and I could never thank my uncle (and aunt) enough for that dinner.  We even went back there on our 1st anniversary!  The staff came out and presented us with the cork from the wine we drank and a card signed by the entire staff congratulating us on our special day.

I get asked which anniversary we celebrate.  Our civil wedding or our church wedding.  My answer?  Obviously the church wedding meant something very special to me or we wouldn't have had one, but when someone asks me how long we've been married I answer based on the civil wedding.  Wouldn't you?

Rick signing the marriage certificate

The rings

Rick putting on my ring

Putting on my husband's ring

The card and cork from David Paul's restaurant

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Follow Friday - From One Extreme to Another!

I'm amazed at ignorance, although I know I shouldn't be.  If you haven't read Marian Pierre-Louis' blog post, "And So She Risks Everything by Being Completely Honest," over at Roots and Rambles, you really need to.  Perhaps those tactless individuals were indeed joking, but it really doesn't matter.  Just because someone hasn't gotten letters after their name yet doesn't mean that they are any less a researcher/genealogist/family historian.  It means that they don't have letters after their name.  Maybe some day they will.  Maybe some day they won't, but it doesn't make that person inexperienced, unqualified or any less than another.  It means THEY DON'T HAVE LETTERS AFTER THEIR NAME!  I'm not sure if they had their heads jammed in the sand or somewhere else!

Now I'd like to move to something of a more solemn nature.  A remembrance posted by the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund.  I've posted about the VVMF previously.  I love the fact that they are looking to put a face with every name that is inscribed on the Vietnam Wall.  The VVMF posted on Monday about a Vietnam Hero that does not appear on the Vietnam Wall, because he made it home alive and died saving others (thousands of others) in the WTC on 9/11.  Go and read the post, "10 Years Later and No One Has Forgotten."  It was incredibly moving.  A true hero.

A great point made by none other than Dick Eastman (always an excellent source for information), was a post "Copyright Myths."  We deal with these issues daily whether we are hearing about someone taking from us or from one of our colleagues (hopefully not us taking improperly from someone else.).  It's always nice for a little refresher.  Wouldn't it be nice if the people that needed the refresher would read this?  Ah well...we can always hope!  Thanks for the post, Dick!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Shipwreck of the Royal Charter

A few days ago I posted "So Very Excited..." and relayed that the Chester Chronicle (A Welsh publication) was going to be publishing a follow up story this week about the shipwreck of the Royal Charter that occurred on October 26, 1859.  Images of the shipwreck were going to be printed in the Chronicle at some point this week.  All I had hoped for was to see a couple pictures on their website, but I was greeted with a much happier sight via the BBC's website.  There is a 2 minute long video clip which not only shows some bits of the shipwreck, but talks with Chris Holden, one of the authors of the book Life and Death on the "Royal Charter", as well as a brief summary of what happened to the Royal Charter 152 years ago this October.

Of course this developing story is of great interest to me as a descendant of someone that died in the shipwreck.  I've posted about the Royal Charter a few times before.  I am excited that there will be a documentary broadcast on the Royal Charter and that it will include the underwater images.  I'm bummed that I'm certain it won't be shown in America.  I may have to look for any YouTube posts on it.  I can only dream of it being released on DVD, but you can be sure that if it is I'll be first in line to get it!

If you'd like to view the 2 minute video and check out the news article on the Royal Charter head on over to the BBC here!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Tombstone Tuesday - William and Katherina Boegel

The autumn is always a crazy time of year.  School is back in session and Cub Scouts starts anew.  It usually means that I've got to put genealogy aside to complete the obligations I have in Scouting and PTA.  And although this year seems to be running much more smoothly than last year, I still have found myself hard-pressed for time.  I really wanted to get the 1890 census form up tonight, but reality and wishful thinking are two very different things.  Instead of not posting anything at all, however, I decided to get up a reasonably quick post with a beautiful family tombstone.  I simply have too much family data to not post something.  I'm always hoping to run across those distant cousins researching the same lines!

This tombstone always caught my attention when visiting St. Kilian's in Wisconsin.  It's just so huge.  This is my husband's side of the tree.  My side, well, I have yet to come across something so grand!  It's beautiful.

William and Katherina Boegel nee Melzer are my husband's 2nd great grandparents.  They were the parents of at least 8 children (that I've found so far), William Jr., Maria, Katherine (Mrs. Joseph Bonlender), John, Peter, Raymond, Mary (Mrs. Gebhardt Strabel), and Theresa.  John was my husband's great grandfather.

William Boegel Sr was born on December 21st 1848 in Wisconsin.  The son of Henry Boegel and Herietta (maiden name unknown), he married Katherine Melzer around 1875 (still working on that marriage certificate) and died on October 21st, 1922.  Katherine was born on December 12th 1846 in Germany (I know...that doesn't narrow it down by much) she died on May 24th 1927.  I don't know who her parents were yet.

What I do know is that St. Kilian's cemetery in Wisconsin has been completely recorded online, and while I may have over-looked the other Melzers in there when I passed through in genealogical bliss several years back, I can easily reference the interments by going to the Campbellsport, Wisconsin website.  And hey...writing this quick post did make me realize that finding relatives of Katherina (nee Melzer) may not be too difficult after all.  At least I have some names as leads now.

Well, time to jump in bed and prepare for a PTA-filled day tomorrow.  I need all the rest I can get for it!  Have fun tending those roots!

NOTE:  And after posting this and jumping to the wonderful Wisconsin Historical Society website I found the image numbers for a marriage of William Boegel and Katherine Meker.  I love their website!  It's now in my research calendar and when I get up to Wisconsin for Christmas I'll be copying that record!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Amanuensis Monday - Two Steps Forward and One Step Back

Did you ever feel like you were doing some kind of weird genealogical dance researching your family history?  I'm feeling that way right about now.  In mid-August I wrote a post "Wisdom Wednesday - I Live For These Moments".  In it I talked about a revelation I had about finding a missing (and most likely deceased) family member who disappeared from family history.  Bessie Dugan nee Quirk died in 1918 shortly after giving birth to her daughter, Elizabeth (Betty).  Betty was found in the 1920 census living with her father and his siblings in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.  She was no where to be found in the 1930 census, but her father, Dennis Dugan, was remarried.

Family lore never passed on anything about Dennis, or Betty for that matter.  We had actually assumed that she died at the same time as her mom.  The newspaper clippings that stated the baby was well but the momma wasn't didn't change that view.  It wasn't until I started researching and found the above mentioned that we collectively began to wonder, "What ever happened to little Betty?"

My previous post's revelation was that if I researched the step-mother's obituary that perhaps Betty would be mentioned in it.  Either as having predeceased her or, hopefully, had survived her.  So I contacted the local Bethlehem, PA newspaper "The Morning Call" and asked for help getting to back issues.  They directed me to the library that holds the microfilm and they had a brilliant online search tool.  I was able to input Dennis' 2nd wife, Rose Dugan's, name and she popped up with the date of the obituary.  I also found Dennis' obit.  I didn't find Betty/Elizabeth.

So I paid the small fee to have the articles printed out and sent to me and I got them this past week.  The excitement was, and still is, there at having received this information, but it didn't answer the question I was looking for.  I will most likely continue to delve into this collateral line to find out the question of, "What happened to Betty Dugan," but for now, I'll simply share her step-mother's obituary.

The Globe Times - 13SEP1982
"Mrs. Dennis Dugan

Mrs. Rose King Dugan, 87, formerly a guest at Cedarbrook Annex, Fountain Hill, died today in St. Luke's Hospital.  She was the widow of Clarence Steager and Dennis Dugan.

Born in Bethlehem, she was the daughter of James and Ellen Larkin King.

She was a member of Ss. Simon and Jude Catholic Church, Bethlehem.

Surviving is a son, James J. Steager of Fountain Hill; two daughters, Sister Joan Dugan of Philadelphia, and Mrs. Mary Phillips of Bethlehem; a sister, Mrs. Anthony Reiser of Bethlehem, eight grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

A son Francis preceded her in death in 1956.

A mass of Christian burial will be celebrated at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday in Ss. Simon and Jude Catholic Church, 730 W. Broad Street.  Call one hour prior to services Wednesday evening.  Burial will be in Holy Savior Cemetery, Bethlehem, at 9:30 a.m. Thursday.

The Charles M. Downing Funeral Home, 835 Broadway, Bethlehem, is handling arrangements.

Memorials may be made in her name to Ss. Simon and Jude Church."

[The Globe Times, Sep. 13, 1982 pg B4:Col3]

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Where Were You When the World Seemed to End?

Tribute in Light (please take time to view the description and acknowledgement below)*

September 11th, 2011.  The day the world seemed like it was coming to an end.  Where were you?  Where was I...

I was a Staff Sergeant in the Army.  Stationed with the 25th Infantry Division (L), 125 Military Intelligence Battalion.  We were in the field.  Training exercises.  It's what we did.  My husband was playing single dad with our almost 8 month old son while I played Soldier and got dirty for the week.  At least that was the plan.

The evening of September 10th (Monday) my squad and I got in our vehicles and went out to our site.  It was my first time as a squad leader.  I'll admit I was nervous.  I always wanted to impress.  To show people that I was good at what I did.  It didn't start out well.  It was dark and we were having difficulty finding the site we were supposed to set up at.  It took awhile, but we eventually got there and set up.

I jumped into the back of our "system" after it was set up.  I then proceeded to block all news and music stations that I could find.  Our job was to "Find the Enemy" and I didn't want people distracted and not looking for OPFOR (Opposing Forces).  We were a squad of 4, Newsom, Cash, Jefferson and me.  Newsom was my Assistant Squad Leader and he took first shift.  Jefferson took guard shift.  Cash and I racked out in the back of the chase vehicle (the vehicle that follows our system with all the gear in the back).

Around 4:30am I was woken up by Newsom.  He told me, "Two planes crashed into the World Trade Center and there were fears that other planes may have been hijacked."

I sat up straight and just looked at where his voice came from in the dark.  "What?" I said as I processed the information, although I really didn't need it repeated.  Then I asked, "Did you report it to the TOC (Tactical  Operations Center)?"


"Do it."  Newsom left and got on the radio.  I got on my cell phone.  I called my husband.  He had already been called by his oldest sister and his unit.  He was watching the news.  It was bad.  There was a lot of confusion in the news.  He was getting our son ready for day care and was taking him in as soon as it opened.  He was needed at work.  It was going to be a long day.  I told him I loved them both and needed to go.  I had to call my aunt and uncle that were living in Hawaii.  My Uncle Jeff's family was from New York.

I called and Uncle Jeff answered.  I could tell I just woke them.  "Turn on your T.V.," I said, "Two planes crashed into the World Trade Center and more may have been hijacked.  We're under attack."  He said he had to go and hung up.  I understood.  He needed to make sure his family was safe.

I got out of the vehicle and went to the system where Newsom was still listening.  I asked him what the TOC said.  He replied that they claimed it was all a part of the exercise.  When that happened however, Cushman, a team leader from one of the other dismounted teams, popped up on the radio with the reply, "Bullshit!" and explained that they intercepted it too and it was a news station reporting.  They were now reporting that another plane hit the Pentagon.  Then one went down somewhere in Pennsylvania.  My home state.  How many more?  That's all I could think of.

Eventually the TOC pulled their heads out of their asses and realized that this was real.  Another platoon member who was back at the TOC had brought a portable T.V. with him.  He was from New York.  Fiorelli was his name.  A good ol' Italian boy from the city.  He turned the portable on just in time to see the first Tower collapse.  I can't imagine what that was like for him.

All four of us were standing in or around our system.  There was no one pulling security.  We just weren't "playing Army" anymore.

"It's bin Laden," I stated.  Something that wouldn't be repeated on the news until later.  Most people in MI knew who Osama bin Laden was, even if we weren't "active" in the intel field. It was no secret that he hated America.  It was no secret that he would do anything within his power to strike at America if given the opportunity.  I had no doubt that it was him.  There was no reply to my statement.  There was none need.  I guess we all already knew it was probably right.  Knowing doesn't make anything better.

Pentagon Flag **
One of the guys (I can't remember which one) asked me, "What's going to happen?"

"We're going to be pulled back in."  I don't know how I knew that.  Maybe it was because I wanted it to happen.  I needed it to happen.  I wanted to get home to my husband and son.  I was terrified that a military day care would be targeted.  He didn't care who he attacked.  Unrealistic fear?  There are no unrealistic fears to a parent.

I continued, "There are too many people that need to find out how their families are.  I can't imagine them keeping us out here much longer." And then there was the unspoken fact that we were now at war.  Attacked at home and would be needed to defend our home.  We didn't know how bad this was going to get, but we knew everything was about to change.

There was only one set of headphones for the system.  Only one person could listen at once, but we all wanted to be that person.  We did take turns and whoever had the headset would relay any new information to the rest of us.  Eventually my Platoon Sergeant, Stege, came out to the site.  To see how we were doing.  To tell us to break down because we'd be going back in.  No surprise there.  It took several hours before we made it back to the company area.

Our company was in a quad.  Four buildings facing inward.  That's just pretty much how the majority of Schofield Barracks was set up.  When we returned to the quad it was surrounded by triple-strand concertina wire (razor wire) with a guard at each entry point checking IDs.  The entire post was like this.  Not only was the post at 100% ID check, vehicle inspection (complete with looking under each vehicle for bombs), but once you got on post you had to show ID to get into your quad.  If anyone doubted that this was serious, that ended any doubts.

I got home later that evening.  Talked to family and held mine.  We watched the TV until I don't know how late.  My husband worked one of those "active" intel jobs.  I knew he knew stuff.  And I knew he couldn't tell me.  I accepted that.  I understood.  I wouldn't ask.  Didn't really need to.  I mean, how bad is bad?  It already was.

My uncle's family was safe.  My family was safe.  Why then did it seem like none of us were safe and that we all had lost someone dear to us?  Was this how it felt after our innocence was taken at Pearl Harbor?  I was certain it must have been.

I was a Soldier.  I knew we were now at war.  We all knew it.  There was no cheering.  No stupid smack-talk about going out and killing bin Laden.  We all wanted him.  We all wanted to go, but this was an indescribable moment and there was no juvenile posturing like you see today.  No one prays for peace more than the Soldier that has to fight the war and lose their brothers and sisters in arms.

Looking back I find it amazing at how calm and incredibly somber we were.  There were no tears shed from my squad.  It didn't even occur to me to cry.  We were in shock.  Perhaps if we had seen rather than heard what was happening there would have been tears.  There certainly were many since.  There will continue to be many in the years to come.  Osama bin Laden is dead.  This is the first anniversary of the attacks that we can say that.  It damn well took us long enough...but you know what?  It doesn't lessen the pain.

Members of my unit experienced what I can only describe as Divine Intervention on September 11th, although we would not hear of it until later.  My former Platoon Leader, CPT Meyer, had left the military and was working at the World Trade Center. He was one of those insanely hard-core-ranger-tabbed-dudes that would walk 10 miles with a broken leg because it was nothing big.  He'd never go to sick call.  He'd be in a hospital only if forced.  He wasn't at the World Trade Center on September 11th....he was in the hospital.  He was sick and his family made him go.

Writing this post was extremely difficult as I'm sure it was for many who have written posts for today.  I never saw the original footage of the attacks with the newscasters talking.  I saw the sanitized images.  The footage of the images without any human reaction.  Just analysis.  There was something about seeing the video and hearing their reactions that is just so gut-wrenching.  It made it feel as though it had just happened.

The website I watched this video on is a page at the National Archives called "Understanding 9/11".  The video is toward the bottom of the page and they list a chronology and description of the footage you'll watch.  There are broadcasts from Mexico, Japan, Russia, Iraq and Britain as well as the U.S.  A unique international perspective, and you really don't need to understand the different languages.

I'm a disabled veteran of the United States Army, and I'm a hippie-chick to boot.  Crazy combination.  Crazy chick.  Hippie chick or not...I can't listen to Darryl Worley's, "Have You Forgotten?" without tearing up.  Some scars don't heal that easily, and these scars dug at our country deep.  It truly felt like the world was coming to an end that day.


*Tribute in Light - The "Tribute in Light" memorial is in remembrance of the events of Sept. 11, 2001. The two towers of light are composed of two banks of high wattage spotlights that point straight up from a lot next to Ground Zero. This photo was taken from Liberty State Park, N.J., Sept. 11, the five-year anniversary of 9/11. (U.S. Air Force photo/Denise Gould)

**Pentagon Flag - WASHINGTON -- Military members rendered honors as fire and rescue workers unfurled a huge American flag over the side of the Pentagon during rescue and recovery work following the Sept. 11 terrorist attack. The attack came at approximately 9:40 a.m. as a hijacked commercial airliner, originating from Washington, D.C.'s Dulles International Airport, was flown into the southern side of the building facing Virginia Highway 27. (U.S. Navy photo by Michael W. Pendergrass )

Information presented on AF.mil is considered public information and may be distributed or copied. Use of appropriate byline/photo/image credits is requested. 

8:01 am - American Airlines Flt 11 takes off from Boston heading to Los Angeles.  There were 92 people on board.

8:14 am - United Airlines Flt 175 takes off from Boston heading to Los Angeles.  There were 65 people on board.

8:21 am - American Airlines Flt 77 takes off from Washington D.C. heading to Los Angeles.  There were 64 people on board.

8:41 am - United Airlines Flt 93 takes off from Newark heading to San Francisco.  There were 40 people on board.

8:46 am - Flt 11 crashes into the North Tower of the World Trade Center

9:03 am - Flt 175 crashes into the South Tower of the World Trade Center

9:40 am - Flt 77 crashes into the Pentagon

9:59 am - The South Tower of the World Trade Center collapses

10:07 am - Flt 93 crashes into a field in Shanksburg, Pennsylvania

10:15 am - Portion of the Pentagon collapses.  Approximately 200 people died in and around the Pentagon.

10:28 am - The North Tower of the World Trade Center collapses

4:00 pm - CNN reports that their are indications that Osama bin Laden is responsible for the attacks.

5:25 pm - Number 7 World Trade Center collapses

8:30 pm - President Bush addresses the nation

Friday, September 9, 2011

So Very Excited...

Add caption
I was delighted to come across this news article this morning while trolling around online.  It's about the shipwreck that my 3rd great grandfather, Manus Boyle, died in.  It's not famous in America (at least not any more), but was a big deal at the time.  The shipwreck was the subject of my very first blog post.  It's what made me start blogging.  You can read the post by clicking here.

Anyway, the shipwreck happened off the coast of Wales and they are going to broadcast underwater footage of the wreck.  I've often wondered about it.  I'm told that you can see the wreck from shore still today.  That's one of the things that makes the story even sadder...they died so close to shore.  And if you like tales of gold and riches, well this shipwreck is a goodie as well...many of the people (including my 3rd great grandfather) were on their way back from mining for gold in Australia.  The ship was absolutely laden with gold when it sank.  It looks like my Irish ancestor found his pot of gold, and then a hurricane got in the way.

The ship sank back on October 26, 1859.  More than 150 years ago.  The Chester Chronicle will be publishing a full report next week.  It looks like I may have to ask one of my friends in the UK to get a copy for me!  I hope I can view the video of the broadcast when it's played, but I don't see BBC America showing it.

You can read the brief article on the underwater photos at The Chester Chronicle here.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Follow Friday - Getting Caught Up on All the Wonderful Posts

I was catching up on my Google Reader account (1000+ needed to be read) over the past week or so.  Lots of great blog posts.  I really need to commit to doing my reading each morning so large numbers don't sneak up like that on me again!  And again! And (well you get the point)...

Here's just some of what caught my attention:

I saw a tweet (can't remember whose right now...memory like a sieve) about an incredible story that had to be checked out.  So, of course, I did.  I found myself at the Provenance blog and an incredible and sad story by Judy Wilkenfeld called Evidence.  After searching for answers about what happened to her father's mother, sister and brother during the Holocaust.  She got her answers and some surprises.  Check out her incredible tale!

If you haven't discovered SaveAGrave.net yet, you really should.  Follow on their site, on Facebook and Twitter.  You won't regret it.  Lots of brilliant news related posts on what we genealogists/family historians love...cemeteries.  Every day I'm amazed at the amount of news stories out there on this subject.  I was particularly thrilled when I saw a FB post on the Avondale Mining Disaster.  Being from coal miners in northeastern Pennsylvania it certainly touched me to see someone caring and determined to not let those people be forgotten.  You can check out the news article that SaveAGrave shared on the Times Leader called "Recalling Avondale".  Don't forget SaveAGrave's website, Facebook page, and Twitter account (@SaveAGrave)!

Over at Sleeping Gardens was a beautiful post called Ceramic Flowers.  I am stunned at how beautiful and delicate they look.  I don't know if the majority of the ceramic flowers hold up this well, but they are truly a gorgeous touch.  I'm surprised they aren't more widely seen and used!

As I was checking through the Geneablogger's Daily Blogroll I came across a post about scanning Black and White photos from Julie at Wandering Roots, called Tuesday's Tip on Scanning Black and White Photos.  You know (and this is going to sound bad), but I can be lazy with some things.  Everyone can from time  to time, but I didn't realize I had been lazy with my scanning.  I mean I scan at 600 dpi and I know all about the .TIFF vs .JPEG/JPG stuff, but that's not where I was lazy.  It never crossed my  mind to scan black and white photos in the scanner's black and white mode.  Julie's excellent post shows what happened when she scanned everything the right way, but in B&W.  Me...I would still be sitting there scratching my head and cursing the scanner for not working properly.  For once my laziness paid off...I had been scanning in color the whole time, not realizing it was a good thing!  Thanks for sharing, Julie!  Go and check it out!

Sassy Jane Genealogy had an excellent post called Google Maps and Uncommunicative Records.  She shows us how to make use of Google and the officiant's address that appears on some marriage licenses.  Not going to ruin the surprise.  Head on over and check it out.  It would have taken me years before this dawned on me!

And finally (at least for this week...still have more to share next week!) there is a new blog called The Catholic Gene.  As described on the blogsite it is a collaborative blog where the authors have 2 things in common:  "a love for both genealogical research and the Roman Catholic faith".  You don't have to be Catholic to follow this blog, but if you're doing any research involving Catholics you'd be a fool not to follow them.  I'm very excited to see all the posts that are sure to come from their genealogical bevy which includes: Cecile Marie Agata Wendt Jensen, Craig Manson, Denise Levenick, Donna Pointkouski, Jasia, Lisa A. Alzo, Lisa (aka Smallest Leaf), Sheri Fenley, and Stephen Danko! I'm so excited...I'll have to do a first communion blog post soon!

Until next time, have fun tending those roots!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday - First Holy Communion

Sts. Peter and Paul's 1st Holy Communion Class - 11MAY1980
Sts. Peter and Paul Lithuanian Roman Catholic Church, Diamond Avenue, Hazleton, PA.  It's closed now and up for sale.  The records are held in West Hazleton's Transfiguration Church.

Aimee Inama and Cherie Cayemberg (nee Tabor)
I recognize some of the people in the picture:  (bottom row, left to right:  Chris Hvizda, Kathleen Korb, Georgellen and Jennifer Shockley, Gina Frask, Aimee and Cherie Tabor, unknown; second row, left to right:  Andy Solonoski (the altar boy), Sheryl Tanner, unknown, Lauren Dittbrenner, unknown, Kim Gladey, Daniel Love; back row, left to right:  Barbara Shockley, Father Dastic(k), unknown.  I don't know the alter boys names (except Andy).  Don't think I ever did.  (Thanks Kathy for helping me name the majority of the people in the picture!)

Even though my sister was a year younger than me, she received 1st communion with my grade level.  My mom wanted to be our CCD teacher so she asked that both of us be put in the same class.  Our priest, Father Dastick, agreed and the rest is sacramental history!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Tuesday's Tip - Inputting Data on the 1880 U.S. Census

1880 U.S. Federal Census

Last week's inputtable census form was for 1870.  Now I'll move on to the 1880 U.S. Federal Census.  Just click on the image or text referring to this census and you'll be taken to the Google Document I created for it!

Sadly the U.S. Census Bureau's website didn't post the instructions for this census on their site (always a good place to look for great information).  There are, however, lots of links to documents regarding the statistics gathered on various schedules.  For instance there are statistics on:

-Population (of course!)
-Cotton Production
-Valuation, Taxation, & Public Indebtedness
-Forests of North America
-Production technology (petroleum, coke, stone)
-Precious Metals
-Mining Laws
-Mining Industries
-Water Power
-Social Statistics of Cities
-Report on the statistics of wages in manufacturing industries; with supplementary reports on the average retail prices of necessaries of life, and on trades societies, and strikes and lockouts (very cool!)
-Defective, Dependent, and Delinquent classes
-Power and machinery used in steel/iron works

There are more that they list, but aren't available online.  Remember that these links are for a statistical summary or report and will not be the exact schedule that people/businesses were enumerated on.  It will however give you information that may be of value to your family history.  Clues to life in the 1880s!

The people at 1930census.com have the decade's history up for the 1880s!  Plenty of interesting facts (National Geographic magazine was first published in 1888!) too!  They also have working links to the questions asked and the map of the country at that time.

Again, I took a page from Ancestry.com's playbook and made the spreadsheet in landscape form rather than portrait, so it was easier to read, but I tried to be as true to the original as possible.  As a result there are only 6 lines to input the family data for an ancestor.  I know...many of our ancestors had more than 6 people in their family, but you can easily continue on another sheet.  The goal is digitization and not so much paper (at least for me).

The spreadsheet is still locked so you can't accidentally type over the form data, but I left the section on the far left unlocked so you can change the numbers to correspond with the numbers for your ancestors.  They are currently numbered 1 through 6 but can easily be changed.

As always, just let me know if there are any problems with the spreadsheet and I'll get them fixed.  The spreadsheet still looks like it's multiple pages in Google Documents, but will be one page once it's downloaded.

Next Tuesday I'll get an inputtable spreadsheet up for the 1890 census for those of you lucky enough to actually be able to find anyone in the surviving records.  Until then, have fun tending those roots!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Sentimental Sunday - A Senior Class Picture with No Yearbook to Call Home

What a babe, right? ;)

No laughing!  Well, OK you can laugh.  I had big hair in the Fall of 1989.  I fought with my hair on a regular basis.  Heck, I still fight with my hair the majority of the time, but I think I'm starting to win.

Anyway, this post is obviously about me.  I decided to do it even though I cringe to look at my 17 year old self's hair.  This summer when I went back home to visit with family and do some research, I took some pictures of old Hazleton High School yearbooks and it dawned on me that when my descendants looked through yearbooks for their ancestors (if they look through yearbooks), I wouldn't be there.  Would they wonder why?  I realized that I wanted the story as to why passed on so when people go looking they'll know why. 

Not being in my yearbook wasn't by choice.  Well, it was partly by choice, but not because I didn't want to be in a yearbook or anything.  I just didn't know it was going to play out that way.  If I could borrow Doctor Who's time machine I'd go back in time and smack some yearbook people around...and then I'd smack myself around.  Perhaps those aren't the best words considering the story that gets me to the lack of a being in a yearbook.

All of this needs a bit of explaining, so I'm going to dive in, but this is where the skeletons start to fall out.  The story is much more involved than "My school made a boo boo".  The story is not a nice one and it is a bit disturbing so turn back now if you're squeamish! It's a part of my family's history and ignoring it doesn't change it, so here goes...

I lived in Hazleton, Pennsylvania for 17 years.  My parents began divorcing when I was in 2nd grade.  Long story, but my dad ended up with custody of us kids through a series of manipulation/guilt techniques.  So much for not using your kids in a divorce.  He was all about doing whatever it took to get my mother to stay...to not lose control.  He's a control freak...and she was leaving.  He actually convinced himself that she would eventually come back and did everything to drag out the divorce.  As long as it wasn't finalized then there was a chance, right?

In 1986 (four years before I would graduate from high school) he lost control of another member of his family.  My older sister graduated from high school and immediately left to live with my mom.  I've been told the story several times as to why she left, but I never write it down and I always forget it.  Why?  Bad memories + me = blocking.  I do need to talk to my mom and sister and finally write it down, because she did have her reasons for leaving.  I know that my father and sister had a fight before the graduation ceremony though and he told her that he wasn't going to her graduation.  He went, but he told her he didn't.  She went on for years believing he wasn't there.  That's the kind of guy he was.  My sister left and never turned back.  She hasn't spoken to him since 1986.  Harsh?  Just you wait...

In 1988 my mom finally got the divorce pushed through, she remarried and soon after had my baby sister.  I met my baby sister for the first time in 1989 when she was a few weeks old.  I was going to the prom with my boyfriend (a senior) and my mom and step-dad brought her to the prom so I could meet her.  I always loved babies and my baby sister is probably the catalyst that caused me to stop treating my mom like she was the bad guy and to renew a proper mother-daughter relationship with her.  My father had all three of his daughters treating my mother with contempt for years...we all eventually woke up and saw reality.  This was the beginning of my awakening.

My boyfriend joined the Air Force and went away.  While he was gone I began visiting my mom more.  My dad didn't like this.  He didn't say it, but I'm smart enough to figure it out.  I was dating.  I wasn't letting him bad mouth my mother in front of me anymore.  I had a job....and a smart mouth, but that was nothing new.  I was becoming an independent young woman which meant he was losing control.

It only happened 3 times.  Yeah, I know I said that I block bad things, but there are some things that don't get completely blocked.  I smart-mouthed my father one evening in the summer and he slapped me.  And slapped me.  And slapped me.  I was backed into the corner of my bedroom and couldn't get away and he just continued to slap me.  I was screaming and doing my best to cover my head and face with my arms.  I had fallen to the floor in the corner of my room by the open window.  He calmly stopped what he was doing, shut the windows in my room and came back and resumed slapping me.  The next day I had to work.  It had to have been July or August and it was warm.  I had bruises all over my arms.  I wore long-sleeves to work.  People at work did notice.  One person asked.  No one ever did anything though.  One of those things, that you kind of wish someone would be your hero, but no one wants to interfere.

I wrote to my boyfriend about what happened.  He was on his way home.  Being discharged from the military for medical reasons.  At least he'd be back soon and I'd have a bit of an escape.  The second time happened shortly after he got back.  I had just gotten back from seeing him and he wanted me to call him when I got home.  I did.  My father came out of the kitchen and started screaming at me.  I don't remember why.  There really didn't have to be a reason to get him to start.  Maybe my room was a mess.  Maybe he just didn't like the fact that I was out with my boyfriend.  I never asked.  There was little point in asking.  But I yelled back at him and he punched me.  Not in the face.  In the arm, not that it really mattered.  It hurt and I started crying.  My boyfriend knew what happened immediately, and I heard from the other end of the phone, "He did it again, didn't he?"

It wasn't long after that the last time happened.  It was October and I had just come back from hanging out with my boyfriend and his family at their house.  As soon as I walked in the house he started yelling at me for whatever reason and I got mouthy.  I was standing next to my bed and he shoved me.  He shoved me so hard that I flew over the bed and landed on the floor on the other side.  I picked up my purse and ran out of the house and to my boyfriend's.  He called my mom and told her what was going on and that she needed to come and get me because I couldn't go back there.  A little over an hour later, my mom and step-dad arrived, escorted me to my house and had me pack some stuff up quickly.  We'd be back for the rest later.  It was late.

And so I moved in October of my senior year.  I moved an hour away.  I started at a brand new school.  I was glad to be with my mom, but I was a bit upset at not being in Hazleton High School anymore.  That's where my friends were.  As a young 17 year old I just couldn't conceive of starting off new.  I was a shy kid (at least until you got to know me) and going to a new school was intimidating.

I had given my senior picture to the Hazleton High School yearbook.  When I moved I had already ordered a yearbook and I made sure to let them know that I wanted my picture to stay in that yearbook since that's where my heart was.  I didn't find out until I picked up my copy of the yearbook that it wasn't in there.  Words cannot describe the hurt I felt.  This is about where I'd like that time machine so I could smack someone at the HHS yearbook, but it's also when I'd like to go back and smack myself.  I never turned my picture into my new school's yearbook.  I was stubborn to a fault.  Regardless of my scared little girl feelings, I did make friends at Pocono Mountain High School.  A wonderful small group of friends that I was probably closer to than most of my HHS friends.  I bought a yearbook, but my picture, of course, wasn't there either because I hadn't turned it in.

Looking back part of me thinks, "Good.  It was an awful picture," but really most people don't absolutely love their senior pictures anyway.  The other part of me...the family historian/genealogist part says, "Dumbass."

So a fairly disturbing, graphic story of my dad the a-hole.  This blog post may be the only way the story of my picture...the whole story...gets told.  I don't know how long blogging will be around.  How long these posts of ours will be seen, but I will be having my blog printed annually to keep a record for future generations.  I blog to find others researching the same lines as I am.  I blog to help others by sharing local information as well, but mostly, I blog to pass on my family's story.  I don't think that family history is about hiding the bad bits.  I have had a wonderful life...with some speed bumps, but who doesn't?