Saturday, October 31, 2009

Saturday Down Time - Just for Fun

I found a fun site today and I happened to have a wee bit of time to play around with it...

this is for the love of my family.... ALL of them!

ImageChef Word Mosaic -
You enter each name one time and it spreads them out in the shape you choose.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Arlington Question

"Why wasn't he buried there?"

This is a question that I asked my Grandmother yesterday. "Why didn't you have Granddad buried at Arlington National Cemetery?"

Grandma is from another time, she was raised not to question "authority"

When my Grandfather died suddenly in 1975, the day after Christmas, Grandma probably didn't have any idea what to do. Sure, there were others around her to help make the arrangements, but she was the spouse. When she asked the funeral director the question about Arlington she was told "He doesn't qualify." She didn't pursue it, but tells me now that for many years she often thought of the wrong this must have been. Granddad was a decorated war hero, receiving many medals in WWII, shown in a post that I did this summer, including the Purple Heart. So, my question is "What are the qualifications, and have they changed?"

According to the Arlington National Cemetery website, the following is a portion of information on the general eligibility requirements for ground burial:

Establishing Eligibility
Eligibility for Interment (Ground Burial)

The persons specified below are eligible for ground burial in Arlington National Cemetery. The last period of active duty of former members of the Armed Forces must have ended honorably. Interment may be casketed or cremated remains.

a) Any active duty member of the Armed Forces (except those members serving on active duty for training only).
b) Any veteran who is retired from active military service with the Armed Forces.
c) Any veteran who is retired from the Reserves is eligible upon reaching age 60 and drawing retired pay; and who served a period of active duty (other than for training).
d) Any former member of the Armed Forces separated honorably prior to October 1, 1949 for medical reasons and who was rated at 30% or greater disabled effective on the day of discharge.
e) Any former member of the Armed Forces who has been awarded one of the following decorations:
Medal of Honor
Distinguished Service Cross (Navy Cross or Air Force Cross)
Distinguished Service Medal
Silver Star
Purple Heart

Now the question is, why on earth did the funeral director tell her he wasn't eligible? Of course, back in 1975 you couldn't run home and get on the Internet to find out more information, or get it on your cell phone as you can today. It is the funeral director's responsibility, even today, to contact Arlington and make necessary arrangements. It is clear to me that some questions either weren't asked, or necessary information was not provided. All Grandma can say to these questions is "I just don't know why that happened."

Now I'd like to know - has any "regular guy", who served in the military and was clearly due a burial at Arlington ever been removed from his burial of more than 30 years and then interred at Arlington? Sure, we've all heard stories of personnel buried overseas and moved, but what about someone who was buried by his family because they were told he wasn't eligible? Not only should he have been buried there, but my Grandmother as his widow who has never re-married all these years should also be eligible according to what I've read.

My last Tombstone Tuesday post was of my Grandfather's headstone. He's buried in a cemetery in the town where we lived at the time in Montgomery County Maryland. None of the family lives there any longer and there isn't any room in this cemetery for my Grandmother's burial. She will be buried elsewhere. Which isn't what she would prefer of course. Grandma will be 92 years old next month and I fear that time is of the essence at this point. Should I pursue moving him? My family agrees, but is it something that's done?

I've not yet contacted the cemetery to get information from them, but we plan to do that this week. Expect more about this story!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Treasure Chest Thursday - Odd Little Panda Pin

This item isn't exactly a "treasure" but it belonged to my Grandmother, Edna Keener. Grandma had a box of costume jewelry and odd pins that I guess at some point she enjoyed wearing. This pin was among them - it now sits on the base of my monitor here on my desk.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

What Are Your Meetings Like?

I wrote a few weeks ago about a very small gathering in a county not far from here where they claimed to be holding a "Genealogy Fair". I didn't expect it to be a large gathering, and it was just as I imagined - a small affair with local-only interests for the most part.

Not having my family from this specific area of the state, there was little to hold my interest but as we all know, it's the coming together of genealogists that lures us to these gatherings. Someone, ANYONE with a common interest is fun to talk and share with. After visiting with half a dozen people for about an hour, I left feeling good, it was nice to chat with others who share our hobby.

Because there isn't a Genealogical Society, Club or otherwise in my area, I decided to contact our local Historical Society to see if there was any interest - they put me in touch with someone who writes a genealogy column for their newsletter. She and I talked via email a few times and quickly determined with my schedule and her commitments to other things, neither of us were up for the task of trying to pull something together right now. We both had a lot of ideas, Lots and Lots of ideas - but we also realized that neither of us really had an understanding of what these groups do. What goes on at their meetings? Do they usually have someone who, for lack of a better term, "runs the show" or do they just get together much like a book club and discuss their research and help each other with specific areas/problems that they're knowledgable with? I think this type of gathering would quickly lose focus - or would it? I imagine beginners who would need much guidance and there would be the seasoned genealogists who would probably quickly tire of helping out the newbies all the time and then there are the "old school" genealogists who would never think to do any kind of research on the Internet (yes, I met one of these at the little fair). I've never been to this type of gathering - so what do you do at a meeting with such a varying level of understanding and a melting pot of people who all have the same interests? ... I have no earthly idea.

I then thought about others in the area who may be interested and I had to find out a way to reach out to them. GenealogyWise was a place to start. I searched the members for all the towns nearby and friended a few of them. One gentleman said that yes he'd be interested in something like this but we ran into the same problem - lots of ideas and no clue where to begin. There were about 12 other users in our local area registered on GenealogyWise - easy enough to contact them all, but then what?

So, there's still no club or society in my county but at least I know there is just a bit of interest out there. I envision a coming together of friends with common interests, sharing knowledge, helping others and I'm a firm believer that a club or society should also give back to our home county - transcribing records, documenting cemeteries or the like - whatever we can come up with that would help researchers who are no longer local.

Please, all you society or club members out there who belong to the smallish type of groups - share a typical meeting agenda with me. Anyone join a society as it was just starting up? Anyone help with the actual starting of one? How did it evolve over time? What were the first meetings like?

Wordless Wednesday - Get Down From There!

Jerry Keener
Rockville, Maryland

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Tombstone Tuesday - William Patrick Bellew

This is the headstone for my Grandfather. I entered his burial on Find-A-Grave sometime ago and put in a photo request. I've been contacted by two different volunteers over the last 6 months, trying to get the photo for me. The first volunteer couldn't find it but the second volunteer went the extra mile to find it for me. She looked for it, contacted me about it's location and looked again but could not find it. She then contacted the cemetery manager to get further information on the location and went back today to see if she could locate it. Here's a photo showing why she couldn't locate it on her first two trips...

and this one is after she worked to trim away the grass and sweep off the stone.

William P. Bellew
S Sgt Army Air Force
World War II
Nov 26, 1917 - Dec 26, 1975


It really pays to get known burials entered into Find-A-Grave. There are many volunteers registered who are willing to go out and photograph headstones in their areas. I myself have taken many photos in local cemeteries and uploaded them to the site for others. It's a great way to help out other researchers and give back to the genealogical community.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Spotlight Sunday - Richard Cleveland Anderson

This week I want to spotlight a member of our family that I know very little about.

Richard Cleveland Anderson was born on October 24, 1933 in Washington DC. He was the son of May Kidwell and Leonard Cleveland Anderson. After his birth his mother became very ill with an infection and died on November 9th. Richard's father was left with 8 children to care for. While I'm sure it was a very difficult decision, Richard would need to be cared for elsewhere. From what I understand, Richard went to live with his Grandmother Bertie Kidwell. I was told this by May's brother when I met him a several years ago. Bertie and one of her other daughters Marie would raise him.

We have no photographs of Richard, nor are we aware if he ever kept in touch with his siblings. One thing we have found is a book from his funeral, which my Grandmother (his half sister) had in her possessions. She would have been 9 when he was born. Grandma apparently made arrangements for Richard to be buried in the Anderson family plot at the Lewinsville Presbyterian Church in McLean, Virginia. Richard has no headstone. He died on September 8, 1975 at the age of 41.

I am aware of one marriage, to a woman named Elsie Belle - her maiden name is not known, nor their date of marriage. It is not known if the couple had any children.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Extended Family Friday

Blogging about my research and family history has reaped many rewards for me. The biggest being that I've been contacted by cousins that I didn't realize were out there. Earlier this year I was contacted by a second cousin once removed who lives in England. She was descended from my McCann family, and I'd been searching for a link to this family for years, reaching out on all message boards and anywhere else I could think of.

My Great Grandmother Margaret McCann Bellew left England in the mid 1920s. I have done many posts about her story in the past, you can read them by viewing the posts labeled Margaret's Envelope. But that wasn't the whole story, as Margaret had left England to join her husband, and many of her sisters and other extended family members remained there.

Today I write about two of Margaret's sisters, Elizabeth, my cousin's grandmother; and Alice Ann. Elizabeth McCann was born 9 Feb 1888 at 5, Newsham Street, Preston. Her parents were Hugh McCann and Alice Ann Smith. Elizabeth McCann married John Mee on 14 August 1911 at the Church of the Sacred heart, Preston and they had five children, two of whom died young. Her husband died in 1926 and Elizabeth married George Fowler in 1928 and they had one child. Elizabeth died in 1943. Alice Ann McCann was born in 1894 and never married. She remained in Preston until her death - dear cousin do you have her death record? Writing about some of the extended family also allows me to note gaps in my information :-)

My cousin's parents, John Mee (son of Elizabeth and John Mee) and Eleanor Maud Nicholson married on 26 July 1947 at St. Edmund's Roman Catholic Church in Northumberland. She was wonderful to share the photo below of their wedding day, showing many of the family members I thought I'd never lay eyes on.
This is a photo of John Mee's wedding - the son of Elizabeth McCann Mee. Imagine my excitement to see a photo of my great grandmother's sister Alice, who is second from the left. Also pictured are George Fowler (far left), John Mee (center with his bride) and Eleanor Maud Nicholson. The fourth from the right is Mary Mee, the groom's sister (born 19 May 1917) standing next to her new sister-in-law. What a beautiful occasion.

It's very rewarding to receive and share family information with extended family members you may not have known existed, yet they're so close in relation to you. I am very glad to have found my new cousin and with the help of message boards, blogging and our continuing research, we'll find even more family members to share with.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Wordless Wednesday - Photos by the old tree

Virginia Anderson and Edna Keener

Jerry Keener
taken 1945-46

Edna Keener
photo taken 1946
(same day as above with her sister)

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Tombstone Tuesday

This is the headstone of Grace Ellen Horsman Souder. She was the topic of my past Spotlight Sunday and my 2nd Great-Grand Aunt.

She is buried here with other members of the Souder family - Her husband Alpheus, her mother-in-law Fannie, and a nephew Albert Wesley Kidwell.
Photo used with permission of submitter at Find-a-Grave

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Spotlight Sunday - Grace Emma Horsman Souder

Yes I do realize that it's "Black Sheep Sunday" in the genea-blogging world today, but I'm trying to find a new way to get more people in my file noted on my blog. One idea I've seen others do is to highlight a specific ancestor on their birthday. Rather than doing just a birthday spot every day, I thought I'd pick one ancestor who's birthday falls in the week (or month) and do a short write up about that person - whatever I may know to date. This will help me get more family member information posted to my blog and help me find holes in my research when there are not a lot of facts available for any given family.

Today, it's Grace Emma Horsman Souder, a second great aunt on my father's side.

Much of information I have on Grace has been passed to me from a cousin who is a descendant of hers. The photo posted here is the only one I have of her.

Grace Ellen Horsman was born Oct 20 1887 in Fairfax County Virginia; she was the daughter of James Thomas Horsman and Emma Katherine Dawson. She lived in Fairfax for all of her young life and married Alpheus Dorsey Souder on December 15, 1908 in the "Old Church" in Vienna, Fairfax County Virginia. The couple had two children, Alpheus Wesley Souder born in 1921 and Everett William Souder born in 1925. They spent some time living in Washington DC and in Prince George's County Maryland. Grace's husband died in 1950 at the age of 68 in Prince George's County; Grace died May 7, 1966 at the age of 78. I am unaware of where she died, she is buried in the Rock Creek Cemetery in Washington DC with other Souder family members.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Treasure Chest Thursday - A Locket?

We're not exactly sure where my Grandmother obtained this item. As I mentioned in my last Treasure Chest post, she frequented yard sales & flea markets. At any rate, we found this in my grandmother's things when she died, and of course the prospect of it belonging to one of my ancestors means that I'll hang on to it until I know otherwise.

The chain is odd, it's very short, meaning not necklace length, almost too short to go around a neck - it's more like the length of a watch chain, and the 'locket' thing is about 2" tall - a bit large. What would someone have done with this? Anyone know?

There is a small area on the front that appears to be for putting someone's initials or other small inscription.

There are two photos inside, they're not marked in any manner and they're not recognized by anyone we've shown them to. I may never know who these people are or if they're even related to me.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Wordless Wednesday - Rough Boys

As usual - I cannot post something 'wordless'
I really wish this photo was in better shape, unfortunately I'm not familiar with photo restoration. This was taken in Rockville Maryland, 1947. At first I thought they must be playing street hockey of some kind... but isn't that a golf club? I guess it's all they had.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

I Am Very Honored

Many of the genealogy blogs are abuzz today about the opening of voting for Family Tree Magazine's top 40 Genealogy Blogs. Being a long time reader of blogs and a blogger myself, I was excited to head over to the site and cast my votes for my favorites and I was shocked to see my blog listed among them. While I was left a bit speechless, I felt that I had to say something tonight - so thanks for the nomination and please be sure to follow the link above and vote for your favorite blogs! I am truly honored to be included among the other fantastic blogs out there!

Vickie at the BeNotForgot blog created this wordle poster of all the nominated blogs. It's a beauty and she offered the rest of us to use it. Thanks Vickie!

Monday, October 5, 2009

I Wish My County Had a Club

Last week I happened across a very small announcement in our local newspaper about a Genealogy Fair being held in a neighboring county. While I didn't expect much, I was excited at the prospect of just getting together and being around other genealogists in the area so I decided that I would stop by during their open hours to see what it was all about. There wasn't much to it, about 5-7 tables set up in a church basement, one table was a local DAR chapter, one was an expert on records for that local county (none of my family is from that area), another two were family specific, with big boards showing pedigrees and photographs and yet another was the historical society book sales table. There wasn't a lot of traffic into this event but one thing I certainly noticed, there were folks coming in who found instant connection to one of the families that were represented and there were others like me who didn't have family from this specific area and were a bit disappointed. As I said, I tried not to expect too much but admittedly I was hopeful for more.

Although I didn't have a lot in common with any of these folks, I must say that it was really nice to be around some others who share my interest (oh and actually being able to talk with other adults in person was nice :-) Ever notice how people outside of your little circle get that blank stare on their face when you mention genealogy? I didn't see any of those stares on Saturday! It was quite refreshing. For this reason alone (and the random cemetery stop on the way home) it was well worth the trip.

Dick Eastman did a post on Sept 25 titled Grass Roots Organizing at it's Best about a meeting he attended for a possible new genealogy organization and I'm now inspired to contact my local historical society or library to find out if there might be some interest in my own area for this type of organization or club. While the meeting he attended seemed to be comprised of people researching many areas and from all levels of skill, the organizations in my area are very area specific, having their membership comprised of people who are only researching in that area, whose families have been there for generations. I think it would be lots more fun to have beginners, seasoned genealogists and people researching from all over the world in attendance so we can learn from each other and help each other.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Treasure Chest Thursday - Grandmas Plates

Grandma Keener was a collector of things. Mostly glassware items that I'm assuming she picked up at yard sales and junk stores. But I know for sure that she really liked plates - I remember as a kid always wondering why she had them hanging on the walls in her home.

Years later when she died, I saw them again, carefully lined up in boxes at my parents' home. I am now the proud keeper of Grandma's collection of plates. While I don't have them displayed on the walls in my home, I do have a few out here and there. Someday I hope to display more of them.

One thing my Grandmother did with her items was to label them. The label on the back of this one is a piece of masking tape, stating who she received the plate from, and when. She received this plate for Christmas in 1944.
Hard to believe that she wrote "old" on the label and now I'm looking at it 65 years later.