Friday, November 28, 2008

Mom's "Good" Dishes

Every Mom has a set right? I am the proud owner of my Mom's old "good" dishes. Dishes that she worked very hard to get so many years ago. Now, every year at Thanksgiving and Christmas, we use these old "good" dishes at my home. Mom gave them to me when she got new "good" dishes. The kids often ask the question - "where did they come from?" and comment on how pretty they are. I am very proud to tell them that they were painstakingly collected, piece by piece, week after week, at the local grocery till the set was complete - making sure not to miss an item, plates, cups, saucers, dessert plates, platters... you get the idea. These dishes mean a lot to me - they somehow signify the will of a woman who maybe couldn't get a new full "SET" of dishes but could certainly afford a few bucks a week to collect them. But can you imagine the time it took? THAT means something. But, these dishes mostly remind me of family holidays, all of us kids around the table and years later coming back with our own families, gathering around the same table and using the same "good dishes". Now, my kids will remember the story and recall holidays around the table using them and watching out for the plate that has a chip on the bottom, being careful not to use the cup that has the crack and the question that's asked every year... "What happened to the gravy boat?"

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving Day.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Got old photos? Identify those people!!!

Today I want to share a photograph of my great-grandmother May Kidwell's sisters. Pictured are Marjorie and Ethel Kidwell, two daughters of Silas & Bertie (pictured two posts below). They're all dressed up, hats and all, and don't you just LOVE the shoes?

My Grandmother, Edna Keener, had this photo among her things. Although her mother died when she was only 9, she held on to the very few things that her mother had from her family for her entire life. Amazing really, considering that she lost all contact with the family shortly after her mother's death, and was raised by her stepfather.

This photo had writing on it, which is how we identified it - a gem that many don't have. Which brings me to today's "Tip" ALWAYS, ALWAYS identify people in photos! New and old (make sure you're using photo safe pen). If you've got old pictures of unidentified people, someone older in your family might be able to tell you who those people are. Get in touch with them, send copies if you have to - don't let the identity of those people slip away when someone passes on. If your parents have a box of old photos (don't they all?) spend an afternoon identifying them and while you're at it, get the story behind the photos. If you identify them now, and have a family tree showing how they 'fit', it'll be a treasure for your children's children.

I don't have any idea what the occasion was in this photo and every time I look at it I wish I knew. But, I am happy knowing the identity of these two ladies, so it's not just another old picture in the box.
Happy Thanksgiving to all!!!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Who's in your Pedigree?

Fortunately for me, I have a pretty good idea who's in my pedigree, on one side of the family anyway. This is a pedigree chart of my Grandfather, William P. Bellew. I've done pretty extensive research on this side of my family and as I said, fortunately my findings have been many. Not true for everyone, as I have found on my Paternal side, all is not what it seems and you can't always track down that one person who can link it all together. So the search continues.

As you will notice, every generation back doubles the number of people you're looking for. The next generation on this chart will have 16 people, the one after that, 32! Also, every generation adds yet more surnames to your search for ancestors (on the female side, when you can find the maiden name that is :-). Often women are hard to track because their names change but luckily for me, they were in England and the records are availble to me and the marriages could be found, enabling me to take another generational step back to her parents.

Enjoy my family chart and if you're interested in completing your own pedigree chart, you can view and save a pdf format one here. See how far you can get!!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Who were they.... really?

Everytime I do a bit of research on the family, I'm compelled to know about what their lives must've been like. What kind of people were they? Was their life difficult? Did they work hard to have very little or were they successful in what they did? These are the bits that are difficult to find out without having the information passed down to you from someone who actually knows. You can't find this info in general records on the family. I posted previously about this family, the Kidwells, who lived in Fairfax County Virginia. Apparently farmers (according to census and land records) but who were they? What kind of people were they? Sadly, I may never know.....

These are the questions you need to ask of the living RIGHT NOW! Time is very short when it comes to your genealogy. Bits of memories and family stories are lost everyday when someone passes away. I may never know what Silas & Bertie Kidwell were like as I didn't ask these questions when I had the opportunity. You see, it's not just about the who and where and when - these are just names, places and dates. All very intersting and helpful to build your family history data, but no where near the full story.

I'm going to start a new series of posts about this family and how I attempted to find out more about them. I still don't feel that I know enough, but a few nuggets of info that I came to know along the way are what I've got to share with my children and their children. In the meantime, you should contact all the eldest members of your family, talk to them about their parents and grandparents, get copies of any documents and photos. Get info from them while you still can and ask more about the people and their lives, homes and jobs, not just the who, where and when.

Have a great day! Cindy

My Quest to know more... Post #3

This is a news clipping from March 11, 1944 from a local paper in Adams MA where my Grandparents lived at the time my Grandfather entered the military. This clipping states that Grandma has received word that Granddad is in England. All of this sort of "news" was published in the local paper.

Another info packed post today on my search for my Grandfather's military service. Last week I promised to talk about military papers - all boring and such if you're not into this kind of thing but what a treasure to find for a genealologist!! However, if you don't look at every detail you could miss something AND all those details can also raise more questions. Of course, I have the subscriptions to the major records available on line at Ancestry and there is such a mass of info there it's sometimes overwhelming. But, nothing can compare to having the actual original documents in your hands. All tattered from time and folded and torn. At any rate, having Granddad's Seperation Report, his enlistment information and even his medal award documents wasn't enough. According to the docs he was discharged for wounds he rec'd on July 29th - a mission he volunteered to take due to a shortage of a gunner in another crew. How was he wounded? Where was he at the time? What plane was he on? All these things I wrote about in my previous posts - But, most importantly - where were these medals he received? No one in the family knew. Grandma couldn't recall what ever happened to them - probably lost in the many moves the family made after the war. Off I went to the 94th Bomb Group website again to see what info was available on medals - turns out I was referred to the National Archives website. To my surprise, the website stated that you could order replacement medals - Huzza!!! So, after many many many forms and paperwork and phone calls and months of waiting ..... they finally told me (in Sept of this year) that he had been out of the service too long - more than 60 years. Somthing they could have told me in the beginning, for I had provided them with his discharge date on the VERY first document completed, way back in February of this year!! This simply was not fair!! I set out to see if I could purchase replicas of the medals for they told me that "the military has more than met it's obligation in issuing replacement medals" this simply did not apply to my family!! It's not my fault that they fail to keep track of this stuff!

I heard along the way that your local state representatives of Congress could help in dealings with the Federal Gov't (after all that is their job) and election time was upon us so I decided to give it a shot - do you know that they responded to me IMMEDIATELY and began to look into the problem. Last week I received a copy of a letter from the National Personnel Records Center (the folks who issue the medals), sent to the Congresswoman's office and would you believe the order for the medals has already been placed? No long paperwork burden, no "form letters" just a nice letter stating that the medals have been ordered and the copy of the form was included. Unbelievable!!!! Today's Nov 19th and I don't have word of their receipt at the Congresswoman's office just yet but needless to say, I'm anxiously awaiting word from them every day.

My Quest to know more... Post #2

This is a photo of my Grandfather (second from left in the back row) and his regular flight crew - what a treasure to have received this from someone who actually flew with him!

As promised - here's more about my search for my Grandfather's military service information, continued from last Wednesday's post.

After reaching out and finding someone who flew with Granddad, and realizing that he wasn't with his regular crew on the day he was wounded I set out to determine just who he was flying with that day. Again, Chris knew much about this and let me know that I needed to find mission reports for the day. This would give us a clue about the damaged aircrafts and any lost during the mission... I must also note that Grandma told me that after he was wounded, Grandad was reported as "Missing In Action" and she receieved a telegram stating so. This was another clue - was it possible that his aircraft had to put down somewhere other than base and the crew originally thought to be missing? There are other documents (which apparently are MIA also) that detail the crew for each aircraft on any given mission, these reports which I believe are called Load Lists or Load Reports have been searched for by many - they're not available.

Knowing that I must have the mission reports for the day he was wounded, I went to the National Archives( website and placed an order for them. I must say this was the easiest transaction I've had with those folks - much more on that later. At any rate, after a couple months the 36+ pages of information came to me in the mail. This stuff is not light reading by any means and if you're not up on your military terms of the time its very easy to get lost in all the jargon. At this time, I am in the process of making copies of some of the pages to send to Chris. He will research further and see if we can determine what plane he was on.

Next week I'll tell you about the military paperwork that I found in Grandma's papers, what it contained and all the questions that it brought about.

My Quest to know more... Post #1

I've been researching my family for years and only during the last 10 months or so have I ventured into the Military history. My Grandfather, William Bellew, was in the Army Airforce during WWII and was injured (lost his left eye) during a mission on July 29 1944. Already having his military documents in hand, I set out to find out what else there was to know - the rest of the story if you will. I came across a message board for his bomb group that put me in touch with a now dear friend in England, Chris, who lives near the base where Granddad was stationed. He is very knowledgeable in this area and, unbelievably, he managed to track down a living member of my Grandfather's regular crew! I was amazed and very nervous to call and speak to this man on the phone. He and his wife are just wonderful people and they were very glad to hear from me. He told me that Grandad volunteered to go up with another crew who was short a gunner on that day that he was wounded, and he was never seen again by his regular crew - they were never even told what became of him. He was glad to know that Granddad lived, returned home, had more children and lots of grandchildren.

Connections come in strange ways sometimes. It certainly pays to venture into other areas of the internet, such as message boards, rather than sticking to the records sites. You never know, a post might put you in touch with someone who actually knew your relative and you might make some really great friendships along the way! I called this post #1 because there's much more of this story to share... next week.

My Kidwell Connection

I'm not as "artsy" as some of my other blogging friends but I love to dabble in all sorts of things that I see them doing. So to my "Artsy" friends that might venture over here at some point, don't laugh at my blog, just visit now and then and put up with me :-)))))

Today I want to post a photo of my Great Great Grandfather, Silas Kidwell. He has his truck all loaded with peaches for the local farmers market in Washington DC. I got this picture from my Great Uncle, Marshall Kidwell who I managed to track down while I was doing research on my Kidwell side of the family. Uncle Marshall has since passed away but I'll never forget him and the many bits of information that he shared with me that I never would have known had I not met with him.

Grandad Silas

Uncle Marshall

Another interesting note for today... I've been doing some research for one of my neighbors lately and while I've not found a connection yet, his family was from the same county as mine and so we're assuming at some point our tree branches will join together :-) I've already found a connection to his wife and my family (through an in-law) so it's only a matter of time!!!