Thursday, October 30, 2014

Family Reunion Friday - Cayemberg Family 1946

The Cayemberg Family Reunion was only in its infancy when this little snippet was published in a Wisconsin newspaper.  It was only the 9th reunion, but 94 family members were in attendance.  They took pictures.  They played games.  They.  Had.  FUN!!!

When reunions begin sure there's lots of enthusiasm.  That's to be expected.  People think keeping the enthusiasm is hard, but why is that?  Do you have an annual water balloon toss?  Baking contest? A family reunion baseball or football game that everyone loved playing in?  A tug-of-war? Why did you stop having them?  Was it because Uncle Bill was getting too old to play?  What about Billy Jr?  Maybe Uncle Bill can't play anymore, but that doesn't mean he wouldn't enjoy cheering on his branch of the family.  That he wouldn't enjoy watching his cousins, children and grandchildren make the same memories he had made in reunions past!

Focusing on what the aging portion of a reunion can and cannot do and basing your itinerary on that is a sure-fire way to bore the heck out of the younger crowd.'re probably boring the heck out of the older crowd too!  Make sure you incorporate fun into the day so that the enthusiasm that was at the 9th reunion is still there for the 79th, 89th or 99th reunion!

"Cayemberg Family Has 9th Reunion

('Handwritten 1946')

Pamperin Park was the meeting place for the ninth family reunion of the children of Mr. and Mrs. Eli Cayemberg.

There were 94 members of the family at the dinner Sunday, including great-grandchildren.  The reunion was an all day affair at which the family pictures were taken and those present signed the record book.

Games were played with winner being:  Adelbert Guillette, Tonet; Marie Cayemberg, Ensign, Mich.; Nancy Cayemberg, Manitowos; Gladys Carrie Cayemberg, Green Bay, race winners; Mrs Wallace Guillette, Tonet, door prize; Mrs. Thersia Massert, Rosin and Byron Gregor, Rio Creek, guessing games.

Mrs. Edward Van Ben Den and Mrs Jerry Tilkens were the co-chairmen for the reunion.  Mrs. Florence Cayemberg received a gift from the family.

Next year the family will hold their tenth reunion at Pamperin Park again.  Mrs. Russell Anderson and Mrs. Harvey Moureau have been named as 1947 chairman.  Only one son, Wilfred, Manitowoc, was unable to attend."

The clipping was taken from a scrapbook handed down to me by my mother in law.  No newspaper name was given, but other reunion articles were from the Green Bay Press Gazette.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

An Historic Shipwreck...and a Bloggiversary

"The Royal Charter off Moelfre"
Image used with permission of E. D. Walker

This is a repost.  It's the first post I ever made to my blog back on October 26th 2010.  I've been doing this for four years now, with far too much blog-neglect in between.  This story was one of the main reasons I decided to start a genealogy blog.  It's a story that I found interesting the moment I heard it and it's a story that touches my heart.  I think of Manus probably more than almost any other ancestor.  I think of the hardship he must have endured to travel so far from his family and the tragedy that kept them from ever uniting again.  Unlike stated in the post below it is now 2014 and we're marking the 155th anniversary of this wreck. A wreck famous in Wales, but for the most part unknown in the States.

October 26, 2010 is the 151st anniversary of my great-great-great grandfather, Manus Maurice Boyle's, death in the shipwreck of the Royal Charter. He worked in the coal mines of northeastern Pennsylvania. He and his wife, Alice Monaghan, were both Irish immigrants and longed for a better life for their two daughters, Bridget Mary and Anna. He left Pennsylvania in September 1856 to go to Australia to mine for gold in hopes of a better future for his family. He was returning to his family from Australia in the autumn of 1859. The Royal Charter would have taken him back to Britain. No one knows what ship he was to board to return to America. No one knows what fortunes, if any, he was returning from Australia with. During the last leg of his journey to Liverpool a hurricane struck. There was no advanced warning. None existed prior to that date.

The winds that raged over 100 mph changed from East to North/Northeast and the bay (Moelfre Bay) which Captain Taylor had hoped would shelter them became the instrument of their demise. The anchors that had been weighed, snaped in the first hours of the morning of October 26th and the ship was repeatedly thrown against the rocks until it split and sank. Of more than 480 passengers and crew only 41 survived. No women or children were saved.

The valiant efforts of one of the crew, Joe Rogers, and the inhabitants of the Moelfre coast were what enabled even those 41 to be saved. The storm had caused damage to one of the Moelfre homes and as residents were repairing the roof in the early hours of the morning they saw the ship in peril. They woke the town and 28 local men made a human chain in the violent waters of the bay to attempt to rescue those aboard. Joe Rogers took a line from the ship and swam to shore, being turned back in the violent waves of the storm at least 3 times before reaching the men on shore. The rope was used in an attempt to bring those from the vessel ashore.

Sadly, many of the passengers on the ship jumped or were thrown overboard. The bulkiness of the clothes of the time coupled with the fact that many had money belts and pockets filled with gold inhibited their efforts to the deadliest of degrees. Had they abandoned their garments and treasure many more may have survived.

There was over 322,000 pounds (British monetary unit) of gold aboard the ship. This was the amount insured back in 1859 and does not include the gold the passengers kept on their persons. I do not know the equivalent in today's currency the gold would be valued at, but it would obviously be substantially higher. The large amount of money combined with the rumors of "good fortune" that surrounded the town after the wreck led to the shipwreck being called the Golden Wreck.

The village church of Saint Gallgo became the collection point for the bodies. The Reverends Stephen Roose Hughes and his brother Reverend Hugh Robert Hughes paid the local inhabitants to bring the bodies to the church, a difficult trek up the rocky shores to the church made monetary remuneration the only way to persuade the locals to take on the grim task. They saw to the burial of those killed and personally answered over 1000 letters received begging a response regarding loved ones. The stress from this caused the Reverend Stephen Hughes' life to be cut short. He died a few years later.

The church at Saint Gallgo still exists today and each year remembers those lost in this tragedy. Monuments stand to remember those lost. A distant cousin of mine Debbie Fay Buch and her husband, Josh Buch, placed a memorial stone at Saint Gallgo Church in August 2004. It reads:

Manus Maurice Boyle
Never Recovered from the Royal Charter
Placed by the Fay Family
Hazleton, PA USA 2004

I don't sit around depressed over the fact that this is the anniversary of my ancestor's death. What would have happened had he come home with gold from Australia? My 2nd great grandmother, Anna Boyle, may never have met her husband, Martin Blanchfield, and I would never have been born. Sometimes good can come from tragedy. People's fortunes can improve or worsen causing them to make decisions that determine the outcome of their history and sometimes other people's histories. It does sadden me to know that Manus was never to hold his youngest daughter, Anna. She was born 2 months after he left for Australia. It saddens me to know that his last thoughts were most likely of a family that he would not see again in this world. Or perhaps his last thoughts were of a determination to survive and get back to them. A determination that was matched by the ferocity of the circumstances in which he found himself. It saddens me knowing that he did not die the "peaceful" death of drowning for the majority of those lost were broken on the rocks of the bay. The passengers and crew of the Royal Charter died so close to shore that even today the wreck can be seen below the surface of the waters from the bay's shoreline. Still there, resting peacefully below the water.

It is not everyone that can say their ancestor's demise was written about in books. I have read two that write of the Royal Charter. One by Alexander McKee, "The Golden Wreck: The Tragedy of the Royal Charter" is out of print, but it tells of the voyage from Australia to it's wreck, the recovery of the remains of the victims and the trial of the crew that survived. I have read the account of the shipwreck written by the great Charles Dickens (yes, I said Charles Dickens wrote about this tragedy!) in his book "The Uncommercial Traveller" (only about the first 20 or so pages of the book are dedicated to this wreck. It's a series of 34 books and this is in volume 24. The entire series tells of Dickens' travels as he IS the Uncommercial Traveller).

I take this time today to remember a man I never knew, but love nevertheless. As a genealogist it can be hard to convey to those that do not research their ancestry that while we may never have met these names that appear in our family trees, we feel a closeness that defies explanation.

Rest in Peace, Grandpa. You will be remembered by your many descendants.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Family Reunion Friday - The Committee

Who's on your family reunion's committee?  Who should be on your family reunion's committee?  How long should they be on the committee?  Should they be elected?  When should you hold elections?  Are all family groups being represented?

Have you ever known a family reunion to be run by one person or a very small group of people year after year?  And year after year that group gets smaller and smaller and new blood never seems to find its way in which usually means new ideas usually don't find their way in.  This is a one way ticket to a terminal end to your reunion.

That's not to say that those people that take on so much shouldn't be recognized.  They absolutely should and they do so much, however the best intentions can turn sour quickly.  People tend to like the way they do things and if you make a suggestion it can be taken as criticism quickly depending on that person's personality.  People often feel that they are "stuck" in the position of coordinating the reunion and can quickly become jaded.  "How dare you make a suggestion when I'm the one doing all the work!?!?!"

Here's a great question for those people..."WHY are you doing all the work?"  Many would say that it's because no one else volunteers.  Time for some hard words.  Some people won't volunteer to do it because of how hard this person/group of people makes it seem.  They drum up the drama as to their family reunion martyrdom and how much time they've given and how unappreciated they are.  Others look at it and think, "Well, I just don't have time for all that."  The reality is that with a properly elected committee it really doesn't take that much to coordinate a reunion...or it shouldn't.  Let me explain...

I served as a PTO president for one year.  I then served as a PTA president for two years.  I have been an adult leader in Cub Scouts for five years.  What do these positions bring to this discussion?  In each one of those groups finding people to take part in running the groups is extremely difficult.  It shouldn't be.  They value and use the groups so why do they hesitate to take part in running them?  Because they are under the false impression that it takes up too much of their time.  It shouldn't.  Sure there are leaders that are always looking to do more and spend a lot of time working to improve these groups, but the truth is that if there are enough people filling the leadership and committee positions then the work isn't that intensive.  Many hands make light work.  It's true.

Poor leadership can stifle a group.  A "president" of a committee doesn't actually do much, but you'll see some of them try to do everything.  This is deadly to a group because it undervalues the other members of the board.  No one likes a micro-manager and there's a very good reason why.  You have volunteers that work hard to make something a success and someone comes along and tries to do it for them.  That volunteer won't consider that being helpful.  That member might not come back.  A president guides the board and diffuses conflict.  A president is NOT a voting member except in the case of a tie vote.  A president can politely remind other committee leaders about upcoming deadlines and check up on work being done between meetings.  With a well-run family reunion committee the president should be quite bored.

The vice-president should be even more bored.  S/he has very little to do except when the president cannot attend meetings.  Then the VP takes the president's place.

The secretary takes notes at the meetings the committee holds, types them up and sends them to the board for corrections.  Many PTO/PTAs vote on approving the minutes at the following meeting which is fine, but the minutes need to be sent out to everyone as soon as the board suggests any corrections.  This would usually take place prior to the next meeting.  You don't ever want to withhold information from the families in your family reunion.  Individuals may not be on the committee, but that doesn't mean they don't want to know what's being planned.  Minutes can be distributed on a reunion website, blog or email.  You'd probably be surprised at the interest generated just by sending out the minutes.  You might get useful insight from a family member or even a volunteer!

The treasurer handles the money.  S/he works the deposits and signs the checks (although you should have 2 signers minimum on the bank account and each check).  The treasurer prepares the budget with the input given by the committee.  This may sound like a lot, but let's think about it.  The treasurer isn't actually coming up with all the input for the budget.  You'd have a budget meeting and take input from those in attendance.  You'll vote on what should be put into the budget (trust me...not everything is budget-worthy).  You'll prioritize the items in the budget and decide what types of fundraising will be done and a goal for each fundraiser.  Your fundraising efforts determine what actually gets funded in the budget.  All this isn't done by the treasurer, but by the committee and those in attendance in the budget meeting.  The treasurer organizes it all into the budget and then checks will go out only for things that have been approved in the budget.

You can have plenty of other people on your family reunion committee.  A fundraising chair.  A public relations chair (think newspapers).  An entertainment chair.  Essentially think of something you want to do at the reunion and you can create a committee for it.  Committees spread the workload.  Don't worry about having too many committees.  Spread the responsibility.  Giving people small, accomplishable tasks will make them come back for more.  It will make them feel invested in the reunion.  They will start to take ownership of it and you will breathe much needed life back into a dying event.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Tuesday's Tip - Say That Again?

Have you ever searched for someone in a census record, a death certificate, birth certificate...heck the list goes on and on...and couldn't find them because of the spelling variations?  Of course you have!  We've all been there.  Even the most experienced researchers have found it difficult.  After all, everyone was a novice genealogist at some point.  When researching you need to remember that you shouldn't get overly hung up on spelling.  What is more important is how the last name sounded.

Yep.  We get twisted up about grammar and misspellings all the time, but think about the time many of these records were created.  The grammar and spelling police weren't out in force.  Additionally, some names actually went through changes over time.  You should see the rather annoying evolution of the surname "Cayemberg"...I mean..."Caeyenberghs" would really throw you for a loop!  I can see the evolution in that name, but how many would over-look it.  I digress...

When these records were created, sure they may have been asked to spell their surname.  What if they couldn't?  Or perhaps their accent was just too thick.  Ever deal with that?  Perhaps the registrar or census taker just wrote down what they heard (Yes...they did that) and moved on.  I can't even begin to tell you how many times I've overcome a brick wall (granted a low brick wall) by going by how a surname would sound.

Take the surname Boegel.  I was a German major in college.  I know that Boegel was originally Bögel.  English doesn't have an umlaut (the two dots over a vowel)  so when writing it in English an "e" gets added after the vowel that had the umlaut.  It's an attempt to keep the sound similar.  I don't personally find it that similar, but it is what it is.  Bottom line...Boegel and Bögel are the same thing.  Trust me on this one.  Now how is that pronounced?

To me Bögel can sound like "bur-gell," "buy-gell," or even "bay-gell".  You get various spellings depending on the how the person reporting the information says it (how strong their accent is or which region of the homeland they hail from) and what the recorder hears and if they have any knowledge about where the person comes from.  In this case, do they know any German?

I wasn't finding much with my knowledge of how German should be pronounced so I asked my mother-in-law how she pronounces the surname Boegel.  After all it's her line.  I was absolutely flabbergasted when I heard her say "Beagle" the dog I own.  Well, that explained why I was having a difficult time.  Once I knew this I realized the brick wall I was trying to climb was actually only a small bump in the road and researching names like Boegel (Beagle) and Kuehl/Kühl (Keel) became much easier.

If you don't have someone readily available to answer your question about how a surname is pronounced, ask a stranger.  Go to the message boards and find someone that is researching the same line from the same area of the country and ask.  Remember that region is important with pronunciation!  Words today can sound drastically different depending on whether you're hearing them said from someone in the north (and even us northerners have huge differences in accents), the south, the west and midwest.

Figuring out how they said that can make a world of difference when scaling that brick wall!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Sunday's Obituary - SGT Lester Kuehl, part 1

There's quite a lot of information on my husband's great uncle, Lester V. Kuehl, who was Killed In Action (KIA) in France during WWII so I'm splitting up his obituaries.  The first two newspaper articles (which I'm posting today) announce his death and memorial service.  That's memorial service, not burial.  Lester was initially buried overseas in the United States Military cemetery at LeChene-Guerin, France.  This was in 1944.  His remains eventually came home in 1948.  I'll post that article on a future Sunday.

"St. Kilian Sergeant Killed

Another inductee who left for service on the same date, Sept. 29, 1942, Sgt. Lester V. Kuehl, 24, of St. Kilian, was killed in France Aug. 9.  His parents, Mr. and Mrs. John Kuehl, St. Kilian, were informed by the war department on Friday, their son's birthday.

Sgt. Kuehl had been overseas since September, 1943, and is believed to have been in France the last month, after being stationed in England for nine months. Before going overseas he was stationed at Camp Livingston, La., Camp Gordon Johnson, Fla., and Camp Pickett, Va.

Besides his parents, Sgt. Kuehl, who was born Aug. 25, 1920, in St. Kilian, leaves three brothers, Roman (sic) and Elmer, St. Kilian, and Marvin, town of Wayne, and a sister, Mrs. Leona Strean, Sheboygan Falls.  Sgt. Kuehl was a member of the Reformed church of the town of Wayne, where memorial services will be held Sunday afternoon, Sept. 3, at 2 p.m., the Rev. Carl Flueckinger officiating."

"The community was shocked greatly on Saturday owning when the news was circulated of the casualty of Lester Kuehl, son of Mr. and Mrs. John Kuehl, which took place in France Aug. 9; this is the first casualty from town Wayne as well as from the Ev. Salem Reformed church here.  Sgt. Kuehl had arrived in England Oct. 1, 1943 and went with his company to France in July. Memorial services will be held here on Sunday afternoon, Sept. 3, at 2 o'clock at the Ev. Salem Reformed church by Rev. Carl Flueckinger."

(The newspaper clippings and dates of publication are unknown.  The articles were passed on to me by my mother-in-law)

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Family Reunion Friday - Cayemberg Family 1945

As promised I'm continuing my Family Reunion Friday series this week.  The descendants of Eli and Florence Cayemberg nee Villers have been having reunions for about 77 years now and I have many clippings documenting them in an old scrapbook.  This one from 1945 is the earliest I have although I have a mind to go back through old newspapers this winter and see if I can find them all!

Remember that if you're going through the trouble of having a family reunion you should see about getting it into the local newspaper.  If you're having a reunion then you apparently care about your family's history.  Getting it into a newspaper will be a record for generations to come.  Have one person each year in charge of the sign in sheet and doing the write up for the paper.

I'm a Scout leader and one thing they teach us about recruiting new volunteers is to give them something small and easy to accomplish.  If they can see how easy helping out can be they may be more likely to take on other tasks that need to be done.  You can do this with more than just newspaper article submissions.  Remember that "many hands make light work!"  You don't have to do it all yourself!

Finally, if you're having a special reunion (the 25th, 50th, 75th, etc) contact the newspaper before and let them know about it.  They might just send someone out to take pictures and report on it!

"Cayemberg Family Has Large Reunion

(Handwritten '1945')

Pamperin park lodge was the setting for the eighth reunion of the family of Mrs. Eli Cayemberg, Pulaski, Sunday when 73 members gathered for dinner and supper.

As 'mother' of the group, Mrs. Cayemberg was presented with a corsage and prayerbook by the chairman, Mrs. Patrick Cayemberg, during the dinner.  Mrs. Cyril Blohowiak, Tonet, co-chairman, was unable to attend.  M.J. Cayemberg took charge of the pop stand.

Youngest member present was Merten James, two-weeks-old son of Mr. and Mrs. Walter Cayemberg, Pulaski, who was christened that morning in Flintville.

Mrs. Henry Cayemberg, Manitowoc, won the gift given by the elder Mrs. Cayemberg.

The family will again get together next June in Pamperin park with Mmes. Jerry Tilken and Edward VanBenden as chairmen and Jerome Tilkens in charge of the refreshment stand."

The clipping was taken from a scrapbook handed down to me by my mother in law.  No newspaper name was given, but other reunion articles were from the Green Bay Press Gazette.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Military Monday - Two Free WWII Databases

Wm Turnbach Jr WWII entry
I was researching summer activities for my youngest son's Cub Scout Pack when I came across two links to some databases on the Peterson Air & Space Museum's website.  The first was for a World War II U.S. Army Enlistment Archive.  As the website explains about this archive:

"This site is a searchable archive for World War II era Army enlistment records, generally spanning the years 1938 - 1946. We have records of 8,433,326 U.S. Army soldiers, reservists, and enlistees. Includes enlisted men and women, foreign scouts and nationals, etc. As a base resource for World War 2 U.S. Army Enlistment Archive we have relied on resources available through U.S. government archives and other public resources."

I don't know how they compiled the list of  "**possible alternate first names"  but since he was a cousin, and one I had actually communicated with before his passing, I'm fairly certain the William is correct.  Still, having alternates is certainly helpful if they come up when you search...they don't though. I went back and searched "Willy Turnbach" and got the response that there were no results to my search.  To perfect this search engine and database, I would suggest that the results would link back to anyone that has possible alternate names listed.  Still, if you're at all a veteran researcher with databases like this you'd simply leave out the first name entirely if you weren't getting any hits or just input a partial.

Wm Turnbach Jr WWII Expanded entry

There was also the World War II POW Archive that I checked out through the museum's site:

"This site features records of 143,374 U.S. servicemen/women and civilians who were held captive by Japan and Germany during World War Two. As a base resource for World War 2 POW Search we have relied on resources available through U.S. government archives and other public resources."

You can search both of these archives by first name, last name, alphabetically through links at the bottom of the page, or by partial name searches.  Both archives state that their records may not be complete due to record loss or loss during transfer to the archive due to corruption.  The archives are certainly worth checking out...and they're FREE.  Sure you may be able to find the same information on one of the paid genealogy sites out there, but here you don't have to pay.

A drawback to the whole "free" thing...there are ads that are on the page as well.  I suppose that's the price you pay for using a free site.  They have to pay for it somehow and ads don't really bother me, but it did get a tad annoying when there were 3 ads on the results page interrupting my flow.

I didn't know of any family members that were POWs during WWII so I threw the surname McCain into the POW search engine.  John McCain was a POW in Vietnam not WWII, but when I think of POWs his name pops into my head first (sorry Senator).  As it turns out there were 2 John McCains that were POWs during WWII.

The Personnel File Core Info can give you Name, Serial Number, Rank, Service, Arm (branch within the service), Organization, Parent Unit, and Unit Type.

As you can see from John A. McCain's record some of the information isn't there (no, it wasn't cropped out).  No reason is given as to why.  Perhaps there was no information in those blanks on the records that were entered into the database.  It would certainly be nice to have those last three bits of info, but I'm still impressed and quite frankly with the whole Name, Rank and Serial Number you can try to request information...and hope it wasn't lost in the records fire.

The Expanded Details give you the Detaining Power, Camp, First and Last Report, Area (Theatre), Source, Status.  Then below all of that information is a link where you can click to see the other POWs held at that camp.

The POW Camp that John K McCain was held at

Here we have two McCains each detained in a different theatre and each with a much different outcome.  Our European Theatre McCain was liberated/repatriated and the other died.  Now it says that he died in a ship sinking or shot trying to escape.  Remember to take a look at the first and last reports here.  He was held prisoner for almost 3 years before dying.  So unless they were putting him on a ship to transport him after he became a prisoner, it would be safer to say he was shot trying to escape.

Expanded Details for John K. McCain

Expanded Details for John A McCain

Lots of great info, but with some annoying adverts (yes, I cropped them out of the photos).  Still should be very worth a researcher's time!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Family Reunion Friday - In the Beginning...

In the beginning there was a great have a family reunion.  To a genealogist a family reunion is a wonderful opportunity to fine-tune the family tree.  This isn't the motivating factor for many people to attend though.  A family reunion tradition may begin for many reasons.  Remembering the descendants of a beloved couple.  A get-together for a monumental anniversary or birthday celebration.  It doesn't matter why you have them, but if you want them to continue regularly and be successful then you need to do some maintenance on them now and then.

Too often family reunions begin and as they age into their 25th...50th...75th anniversaries you see changes.  Fewer people show up.  The people that do show up stay in their smaller immediate family cliques.  The old-guard are the only ones on the committee and new ideas don't seem as well received.  Many regard these reunions as boring and go only to please an older family member.

It's sad to see family reunions fall apart.  I am somewhat of a family reunion novice.  I've only been to two in my life.  One was when I was a very little girl.  I was shy and left to play with the other children...only there were no games so there was no playing involved.  Just a girl and her sisters bored to tears and constantly asking our father when it would be time to go.  I also attended one as an adult where I sat with my immediate family members, met a new cousin-in-law and fellow family historian and talked and got to hear my children ask multiple times when it would be time to go.

These are my only two experiences.  You'd think I'd be somewhat jaded about them, but I'm not.  I think they are a wonderful way to remember loved ones that have passed.  I think it's a great opportunity for new cousins to meet each other and keep in contact.  I think it's a fabulous way to introduce the family's history to a new generation and get them in to keeping it alive.  I think none of that matters if it's not an ever-changing entity that everyone builds on.

Do I know how to make a family reunion successful?  Nope.  Do I have ideas?  Yep.  Will my ideas work for your family reunion?  Who knows, but listening and trying other people's ideas isn't a bad thing.  I hope that other people will share what they have experienced (both good and bad) with planning and going to family reunions and maybe we can all learn how to make them better.  To make them more successful.  To make sure that family reunions are revived and do not become the dinosaurs of our age.  Extinct.  Things of the past.

This is the first post in what I hope will be a successful series.  So until next time...

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Let's Try This One More Time...

I'm back.  Sort of.  I love my blog, but it's hard to dedicate as much time to it as I once did...but I miss it.  I see friends/fellow Geneabloggers posting their wonderful stories and I wanted to come back.  I've wanted to for awhile and back in June I actually started a slew of posts.  They're sitting in my Blogger "draft folder" just waiting for me to get on them and shine them up a bit.  So why didn't I start posting back in June?

Well, it was sometime around June that my husband and I talked about me using my post-9/11 GI Bill before it expires.  I would have loved to transfer my benefits to one of our two boys, but both the hubby and I got out of the military before that was an option.  So I've got this awesome educational benefit and no idea what to use it on.  I'd have loved to have gotten a Bachelors in some kind of genealogy program, but it would have to be online and would also have to accept my benefits.  There were some online programs, but not online degree programs.  I was frustrated, but my frustration didn't change the fact that the clock was ticking on my benefits.

One weekend I was talking with my sister and she asked me why I didn't study photography.  I almost always have my camera with me and sometimes my photos are actually semi-OK (my words there, not my sweet sister's), so I decided to give it a try.  Yes...just like that!  It's the same way that I decided to join the Army.  My aunt and uncle talked to me about joining.  Told me some stuff and it just seemed logical to me.  I was sold.  I looked at this as history repeating itself in a good way.

I still don't know what really to do career-wise with photography and genealogy is always the thing closest to my heart, but if I could find a way to combine them both (I'm still working on that...) I'd be in heaven!  The college I'm getting ready to attend also focuses on making sure that you can use your skills in a career.  Not just a here-have-a-degree-now-bye-bye sort of school.  This appealed to me and I look forward to maybe them helping me to figure this all out.

But if my degree program takes me years, where does that leave my blog?  How will I have time to blog if I'm taking care of my family and going to school full-time?  This is what really kept me from hitting "publish" on any of the posts I started.  I tried coming back to blogging last year and got overwhelmed again.  I don't want to keep trying and not succeeding.  It's not who I am.

Then I woke up Wednesday morning and realized that the anniversary of the great Peshtigo Fire had arrived and I hadn't prepared anything to post.  I didn't want to just recycle posts from last year or the year before.  This fire was meaningful to my family and I wanted any post to be just as meaningful.  So I asked myself, "Can I commit to one post per week at a minimum?" and I decided that I could at least do that much.  Maybe I'll get more out, but one post each week would be a good start.  I've been away from the blogging scene for so long that I kind of need to figure it all out again.  With Google Reader gone, most of my traffic is probably gone as well, but I'll have to figure out what everyone is doing to pull traffic back.  It'll be painful although no where near as painful as the drawing classes I have to take for a photography degree!  Seriously, I feel bad for the professor that has to see anything I attempt to draw! 

So with that, I'm back.  Not completely.  Not full-time, but enough to not let this blog go away.  I didn't start it to let it wither and die.  This doesn't count as my post for this week and a Peshtigo Fire post won't get done this year.  It's just too late to make it good.  I'll be starting with a new series of posts on Friday called "Family Reunion Friday."  I'm sure I'm not the first Geneablogger to create a series of posts like this, but I know that I've got a lot to say about Family Reunions even though my experience with them is limited.  I've got tons of clippings from family reunions on my husband's side of the family to share too so I'll be going between giving input on family reunions and sharing clipping transcriptions about reunions.  I hope anyone that comes across my blog will find the series worth reading.

Until tomorrow, tend those roots and keep the tree alive!