Thursday, December 8, 2011

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories - Dec 8, Cookies

Nothing makes me happier than giving tins of Christmas cookies to friends and neighbors. Having four girls in the family, there's always a helper around when it's time to spend a day baking cookies, sprinkling the sugar, placing the little decors around or taste testing. Neither of my Grandmothers were big on making Christmas cookies. I have my paternal grandmother's cookbooks - most recipes are for dinner meals and how to cook on a budget. But, my Mom? She was all about making Christmas cookies and decorating them with little intricate decorations.

While I don't have any photos of them unfortunately, some I can clearly remember. Mostly she made cookie cutter cookies - carefully assembling holly leaves with green icing and little red balls, wreaths with silver balls and little red bows, She also made angels and I think her favorites were the stained glass cookies. Mom also made miniature pecan tarts that were absolutely wonderful. Itty-bitty crusts filled with yummy sticky goodness! One of my favorite cookies that she made was her cranberry cookies which were always a staple this time of year.

With my own children we've made many different things over the years. Our favorites are Russian Tea Cakes, and little decorated spritz butter cookies made from a cookie press (pictured above) - how did I ever live without that? While they're not an intricate cookie-cutter cookie, they're yummy, easy to decorate, easy to make and come in large batches so you can make multiple designs in one batch. We also enjoy making fudge, mint bark candy, little minty snowmen (pictured here), peanut butter buck-eyes, peanut butter cookies, and lots of different breads (banana, cranberry and pumpkin). We make lots and lots of this stuff and then pack up tins or plates to share with neighbors, friends, teachers, bus drivers and the milk man.

I'm sure that all of these holiday goodies will be remembered by my own kids, but most of all the memories of cold days spent in the kitchen together making them.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories Dec 4th Christmas Cards

Christmas cards are wonderful things. I love finding a pile of them in my mailbox during the early weeks of December. Sadly, it's too often that this is the only time we hear from some distant relatives and friends.  We hang ours on a pantry door in the kitchen, enjoying them through the month and adding to them everytime we get another greeting in the mail. In my parents home we did a similar thing, there was a louvered door in their kitchen and the cards easily slipped through it, overlapping each other and filling the door throughout the season.

Now that I have my own family, I do send cards every year to close friends and family. My Mom always sent cards - when I was old enough to help I seem to remember hundreds of them - possibly I just didn't want to help and the task seemed endless :) My own family now sends about 30-40 cards a year.

What do you do with them when Christmas is over? I'm sure that there are some who pack them away every year and others who simply keep any photos sent and drop the cards in the trash. Thankfully, my great-grandmother Margaret McCann Bellew kept some very special Christmas greetings sent from her husband John Bellew while they were apart - she in England with two children and her husband here in the US with another of their sons, building their new life.

While these cards are not what we see today in typical Christmas design, they are beautiful and contained hand-written notes of Christmas greetings from her husband and a son that went ahead with him to the US.

I was unable to scan these cards - they are not made of paper, but rather the fronts are some type of plastic material that is very fragile at this point, so I photographed them some time ago, and they have been put away for safe keeping. The embroidered one in the back appears to have more of a Christmas design and the greeting inside is as follows:

From Your Loving Husband and Son Willie
To Wife and Children
25th Dec 1923

When she finally joined her husband in the US, Margaret had the terrible misfortune of leaving one of her sons (John) in England. This must have torn at her heart for her entire life. When he was older, he sent Christmas greetings from England to his parents:

After seeing these cards in Margaret's things, I knew that she loved them and I will hang onto them and preserve them as best I can for future generations.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Advent Calendar - December 3, Tree Ornaments

So my dates are a bit off and I'm a few days behind, but I wanted to share this post from last year.

Christmas is a magical time - excitement, anticipation and many enjoyed festivities go along with the season, making it a wonderful time to share with family. Nothing gets that excitement started like decorating the house and putting up the tree. I remember as a child growing up, after the Thanksgiving turkey was put to leftovers and the pumpkin pie was gone, it was time to decorate for Christmas!

The tree trimming was my primarily Mom's job, but we all enjoyed looking through the ornaments, straightening the branches of our tree and helping to hang them all. In our family every child got a new ornament every year. My parents carefully put our names and the year on the ornament somewhere. In those earlier years our tree didn't really have a "theme" but was more of what I would call a children's tree. After all, Christmas was all about the children. There were a few sets of glass ornaments that my parents had purchased over the years and we always hung those as well. Over time, there were less and less of them, as various ones got broken. I have two or three such ornaments from those glass bobbles that belonged to my parents when they first started their lives together. These are among my most cherished ornaments and I put them on my tree every year.

On the first Christmas after moving from my parents home Mom pulled all of my ornaments from her boxes and gave them to me - giving me a collection of ornaments to start decorating my own tree.

This Santa is plastic, covered with thin felt and is from 1974 and the Pooh below is from 1978. My children give me a hard time about these every year - "Here Mom, it's that old Santa"


When my paternal Grandmother passed away in 1995 I received very few of her Christmas decorations. But among them was this ornament which I have carefully put on my tree every year ever since. I haven't any idea where she got it and I had never seen anything like it but it too is one of my most cherished.

Every year my ornaments get a little older and every year we add new ornaments to our tree for each of our children. My Mom still gives me (and my kids) a new ornament every year. When they grow up I hope that they enjoy taking them out every year, remembering the times we had trimming our tree and adding to their collections for their own children, keeping the family tradition alive.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

It's my Blog's Birthday & Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

Happy Thanksgiving to all of my family, friends and readers! Thanks for following me! 

This photo was taken on Thanksgiving 1957 - look at those mashed potatoes! Getting ready for the feast are: left Pauline Keener Harrington & Joe Harrington, at the back Leonard C. Anderson, on the right are an unknown female and Russell Keener

Happy 3rd Birthday to my blog!  I am so thankful to all the folks who have followed me, contacted me and become my friends.   The genealogy blogging community is a wonderful group to be a part of.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

To the Veterans in my family - past and present

In honor of those in my family who served in our military, in the past and in the present.

My Dad, Donald F. Keener
United States Marine

Grandfather Leonard C. Anderson
Served during WWI

Grandfather William P. Bellew
Army Air Force
Purple Heart Recipient

Uncle Vernon Lewis Keener

Uncle Carl W. Poates (born as Carr Anderson)

For privacy reasons, I will not post photos of living relatives who were, or are currently in the military but I will say..

Thank you Uncle Jack for your long service in the Army and your time in Vietnam
Thank you to my nephew Greg for your service in the Army and time in Iraq
Thank you to my nephew Danny for your service in the Marines and time in Afghanistan
Thank you to my cousin's husband Andy for your service in the Army and time in Iraq
Thank you to my husband's uncle Johnny for your service in the Army and time in Iraq
Thank you to my nephew Christopher for your service in the Marines (just completed basic)

Thank you to all military personnel and veterans for your service, past and present!  

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Throwing in the towel? Nah, just needed a bit of breathing space!

This poor, neglected blog!

I have actually been doing research - in my "spare" time (that is, during the wee hours of the morning).   Between the 4 kids at home and one off to college this year, I have been one busy Momma! So yeah, I've been digging up info but haven't had the time or the drive to write.    I've also been teaching adult education for a few months, something I've always wanted to do.  The class topic?  Genealogy of course!  This has been a wonderful outlet for me and helped me meet some fantastic people right here in my own town who enjoy this wonderful hobby.   I am hopeful that we will continue to share, meet and help each other with our research.   

In the meantime, I would really like to revisit my blog and actually start writing again, that is if I can  find that spark to share that seems to have left me after my father died.  

So, if you used to read regularly or if you've just started following,  please come back and read again.  I have so missed this!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Military Monday - Comparing WWII Journals

Researching my Grandfather's WWII history has been a very rewarding endeavor for me.  Looking for the records, finding his discharge paperwork, obtaining his medals, reviewing hometown newspapers for information - all of these things were very worth while.  Lucky for me, he kept a bit of a journal during his time in the Army Air Force and noted the dates he flew on missions, what the target was, the flying altitude, and other details about the weather and enemy fighters encountered etc.  This gave me more of the story behind his time in England, but didn't offer up many details in the way of actual "stories" of his missions.

I was contacted by another researcher last fall for more information on his missions.  It seems our two Granddads had fought together.   He was interested in the journal, to enable him to order mission reports for specific dates.  I provided the information I could and one entry intrigued me (below) and I asked that if he did get mission reports would he mind sharing information with me on this particular mission.

June 25th, 1944 - 16th mission
Target - X
300-500 feet
light flak
2 FW 190S Fighters
9 hours 
About a week ago I received an email from the other researcher. Seems he's been doing his homework and reaching out to others in the same squadron. Luckily, a family member of another serviceman in the same squadron had yet another journal - with an entry for the same date...

Ate at midnite, took off at 4 am for S.W. France with 10 parachute bundles of supplies. Dropped them from 300 ft. in a valley between mountains to the French marquis. We were so low, we could see the grateful smiles on their faces as they waved to us. The group was attacked by one FW-190, but P-47's chased him away. Bombardier (Moe) had a close call by flak. Flew as crew in 138 - new ship with only two previous missions on her.
I was so relieved to read that "target X" in my Grandfather's journal was actually a location for a supply drop and not one of their usual missions.  He wasn't looking down at terrified people, but other soldiers who were happy to see them.    All the official documents in the world can't offer up this kind of information - the actual experience of the individual.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

Edna Keener  b. 1924 d. 1995
Taken on the steps of a school in Frederick Maryland 1946

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Tombstone Tuesday - And a Mystery - George J. Keener revisited

I posted this tombstone previously in June of 2009.  At the time, I couldn't figure out why the wife was listed - as she was no longer his wife (although I could find no record of her death, so I haven't a clue the circumstances).  

I recently obtained an abstract of his obituary and it left me with even more questions.   So I started at the beginning of his life again and tried to map out what I know about the family.    I am still left with the same questions and cannot seem to solve the mystery of his headstone and his obituary nor find any deaths or burials for his three wives...

George J. Keener was born 26 May 1852 (date according to his death certificate is 1853), to Samuel B. and Mary Johnston Keener of Taylor County WV.   On 12 Apr 1868 he married Tryphenny S M Thomas in Taylor County WV.    In the 1870 census the couple is found living with his parents, along with their new daughter Mary.    I cannot find any further records of this wife in the county or surrounding area. It is assumed that she died prior to 1872...

On 23 Apr 1872 we find another marriage record for George J. Keener and Letis A. Poling.   This union resulted in the following children:  Amos, Nella, Virginia, Isaac, Selena, James, Rachel and Ray.  All of these children were born between 1873 and 1887.    In the 1880 census, Mary (the daughter from his first marriage) was listed in the household of her Grandparents Samuel and Mary. 

In the 1900 census we find George J Keener at the age of 48 with yet another wife, Nora age 27, (aka Honora, Hanolla, Hanna).  Two of the children of the previous marriage are listed in the home (James and Rachel) and he and Nora have another 4 children: William, Samuel, Harry and Clarence.   Another son, Robert would be born later in the year.    

In case you've lost track, thats a total of 14 children born to this man and his three wives.

So where is the confusion or the "mystery?.....   here


First problem with the headstone is the year of death.  It appears that it says 1925, but his death certificate issued by the state of WV clearly states March 1, 1926.    The bigger problem with this headstone is that Lettie Keener is noted as his wife when his last wife was Nora (note the certificate states he is a widow so Nora clearly died prior to him) - this would be yet another death certificate that I cannot find.   It is possible that only the children from the marriage to Lettie were involved in his "arrangements", which would also explain the obituary - which left out all of the children born to Nora, listing only his first daughter Mary and the children born to Letting who were still living.

G. J. Keener Passes Away. The Grafton Sentinel. Grafton, WV. March 2, 1926.

Abstract--Geo. J. Keener, s/o Mrs. and Mrs. Samuel B. Keener, died yesterday at the home of his daughter Mrs. H. McWilliams, 720 Pearl Street. Inflamation of the stomach was the cause of death. The deceased was 72 years, 10 months and 2 days old, and had been a resident of Taylor county practically all of his life. He has been in ill health for nine months. He is survived by five daughters, Mrs. David Mowder, Wheeling; Mrs. Irvin F. Kinter, Fairmont; Mrs. Claude Griffith, Mrs. Logan Trader, amd Mrs. H. McWilliams, all of Grafton; two sons, James B. Keener of Fairmont, and A. S. Keener of Grafton, one sister, Mrs. Margaret Utterback of Brownsville, Pa. Funeral services were held in the home of Mrs. H. McWilliams. Interment was in the Philippi cemetery.

This obituary raises yet another question about the interment - George was buried at the Current Cemetery in Taylor County, not at the Philippi Cemetery which is in Barbour County (this would be the county that Lettie's family was from).  

So, please weigh in - why are there no death records for any of his wives?  Can anyone find them?  I have searched the WV Culture site thoroughly, all counties, all dates..   I cannot find anything that fits.  Where are his wives buried?    And something I may never know - why did Lettie's children not list the others in the obituary and why did they put her name on his headstone? 

Friday, January 14, 2011

Extended Family Friday - The Keeners

As this post is written, I have been busy weeding through much information that I have received from another found cousin in my Keener line of the family. First, I must tell you that I met this cousin in a chat hosted by the  Ancestorville Genealogy Facebook page.  If you don't join the chats being held there, you could certainly be missing out!   They have state-focused chats and chances are, if your family has a large presence in a certain state, you may find someone with common research interests.   Such is the case with me and cousin Nancy who I "met" on a recent WV chat.

She has shared much with me already - especially photographs.  She's been researching this family for years and is glad to share her knowledge with me - someone who has not done much on the collateral lines.   Thanks so much Nancy!

Today I highlight her Great Grandfather, my 1st cousin 5x removed; Lewis S. Keener.

Lewis was born in 1841 to Thomas Ullery Keener (aka Ullery Keener; Ulrich Keener) and his wife Sarah Ann Kisner, in Fetterman, a town in now Taylor County WV.    Lewis enlisted as a soldier for the Confederacy on May 13, 1861 and fought for Company A, 25th Infantry Regiment of Virginia and was promoted to the rank of Sergeant on July 9, 1864.     He married Catherine B. Jackson on December 8, 1864, in Abermarle County VA and the couple was listed in the 1880 census for Whitehall, Abermarle, Virginia.   Lewis and his wife had 7 children: James, John, Thomas, Catherine, Mary, Susan and Andrew.    I had not even realized that a very large part of the Keener family had gone to this part of Virginia and a nearby town called Crozet -  assuming (incorrectly of course) that they all remained in Taylor County because I was so focused on my direct line that I've not bothered to see where all the other brothers had wandered off to.

Nancy shared the photo below with me, of Lewis and his brother James Alfred Keener and their wives.

Photo privately held
Yet again, it pays to be a part of the larger genealogy community on the web.  Without reaching out to others, making connections and joining groups or chats, we cannot corroborate or share our research fully with others. 

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

Standing:  Pauline Keener Harrington b. 1 Jun 1926; d. 26 Jun 1980
Joe Harrington (husband of Pauline)
Vernon Lewis Keener b. 29 Sep 1930; d. 12 Jun 1997
girl:  Sally Watkins b. 14 apr 1947; d. 15 Feb 2001
Blackie the dog
John Jerry Keener b. 14 Jul 1942; d. 22 Mar 1983

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Sunday's Obituary

Born Nora Jemima Elizabeth Hott, on Sept. 5th 1873 in Hampshire County WV, she was the daughter of Mary M. Henderson and Samuel William Hott. 

On October 31, 1891 she married Benjamin Lee Shanholtz (NO doubt a distant cousin but who's counting?) and had three children; Mandel, Charles, and a daughter named Ida.     I am unaware of what became of this marriage, but do know that she married another man, Raymond Franklin Roles prior to 1909.   From this marriage she had three children; Archer, Edward and a daughter, Virgil.

In 1910 she was living with her husband Raymond and their children in Aquia, Stafford, Virginia.   In 1920 the family was in Providence, Fairfax, Virginia.  In 1930 Nora was living in Washington DC with her sons Edward Roles & Charles Shanholtz and her widowed sister, Sally Anderson.

This is the only photograph that my family has of Nora.  She is standing in the photo below.  Seated is her sister Sally (my Great Grandmother) and an unidentified child in Sally's lap.    The date of this photo is unknown.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Tombstone Tuesday

Another stone from the Cemetery In the Woods that I visited this past October.

Susanna J. Keener
Daughter of Abraham Smith Keener and Elizabeth Hume
Susanna would be my 1st cousin 4x removed.