Sunday, January 23, 2022

What happens when you go away for a while?

I doubt there's anyone who reads any longer...  and that's okay.  Afterall I didn't start the blog all those years ago (2009 I believe) because I needed or wanted people to read. I made a lot of friends, met lots of cool folks and worked on my family stories as much as I could. Then... well, life happens. Five kids, all at home at the time and two of them barely out of diapers... sports... high school activities, college, elementary school 'stuff'.  Yeah, my research, writing and everything that goes along with it went by the wayside. 

So, I'd like to work again on MY stuff and I've forgotten how to use the platform. It appears totally foreign to me...  here we go! 

Sunday, November 11, 2012

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 to my brother Dale for his service in the Army, time in Iraq & your continued service
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 

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

Sunday, April 15, 2012

He was "lost" in the 1940 Census

This week the 1940 U.S. Census Community Project Blog challenges it's Ambassadors to write a post about someone in the 1940s.   During my search for information on my family in 1940, I began to realize that while I have tons of information on my family, I took a few shortcuts in my gathering of history on one of them and found that I had lost him in 1940.  My story isn't about what I know, but more about what I didn't know, and should have.

When the 1940 U.S. Census was released,  most of us were busy preparing ahead of time - gathering addresses and enumeration districts to be ready for the 'big day'.   Myself, I had two families in the front of my mind, my Dad (this would be his first census appearance) and my Grandmother on my Mother's side, who would be making her THIRD appearance in the census.   My Grandmother is still living, born in 1917, she turned 94 years old this past November and I planned to call her and get the information I needed and I couldn't wait to show her yet another census with her family listed.  

The day of the release was busy, so I ended up calling her Tuesday morning and we chatted for a while on the phone as I pricked her memory of her early adult years.   "Oh 1940, we would have been living on Hoosac Street in Adams" she says.  "I remember because we lived way up on top of a hill and there weren't many houses up there on one side of the street."  I asked her for the nearest cross street - Summer Avenue was her reply.  The family of her husband (Bellew) was also living in Adams, but I didn't ask her for their information just yet, sometimes baby steps are better with Grandma's memory as she can get family members mixed up at times.

Armed with the information for the Leeming household,  I found the ED and quickly started scanning the images looking for her family - funny thing, I wasn't looking for my Bellew family but lo-and-behold the name jumped out at me from the screen and I realized that I had stumbled across them by total accident. Then my questions began -  my Grandfather was not in the home with his parents - where on earth was he?  I quickly called Grandma again:
"Grandma, where on earth was Granddad in 1940?"  
"Well, let me see...  his family would have been living on Allen Street" she said
"Yes, I see that because I found them there,  but he is not in the house with his parents, only his two brothers were listed there, where was he."
"Oh?"   "Well he must have already been in DC, working at the Embassy"
"Wait, WHAT?"

Okay, so I knew that he had worked in DC at the British Embassy for a period, but I did not know when in his lifetime he had done this - assuming (incorrectly) that it was after WWII, but honestly I never really asked.  I knew that my Grandparents met in Adams, married in 1941 in Adams,  had their children in Adams in the 1940s; I knew that he had registered for the Army at the start of WWII in Adams, and that he returned there when he was wounded. I also knew that they had at some point lived in DC...  but I had made assumptions, incorrect assumptions that is. I quickly realized that I needed to make a better timeline for my Grandfather, a man who I had done much research on and had well documented his military history, but I didn't have any "order" to his life.  In 1940 he was lost to me - I hadn't any idea what to think of this.  I'm not some disorganized buffoon, I've been doing this for almost 20 years..  yet Granddad was lost in 1940.   Yes, I am a disorganized buffoon!

So I've begun building his life on a timeline (again), and I found that indeed this thought had occurred to me previously and I had started to make one - I obviously needed to fill in some of the blanks and get things straight.  I have visited with Grandma this week - again pricking her memory for the details.  While I've done this many times before, I find that I always learn a few new things every time.   I still have not found the household where my Grandfather was living in 1940, I am sure he is there... somewhere, and I will find him!

Have you found your family or are you waiting for a searchable index?  If so, I would like to say that indexing is a fun and worthwhile activity for all of us.  The more of us who help out, the more quickly it will be done!  I began a few days after the release, and it's fun to watch your accuracy numbers, and talk with others who are doing the same on the project's facebook page.  Visit the The 1940 U.S. Census Community Project  for information on how to get started.  You might just help someone else who has found that their family was lost in 1940.

Participation disclosure: As part of ambassador program, this blog post enters me into a drawing for a visa gift card.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The First Step - Admit You Have a Problem

Obviously by now, if you're a regular reader of genealogy blogs or even watch the news, you're already aware that the 1940 US Census was released on April 2nd. For the seasoned researcher, this was like a gift that we've waited 10 years to see and for some it came with disappointment, while others were cheering and squealing with excitement at their desks that day. My personal search of the census came with a bit of disappointment as a famed family "secret" was well kept when the enumerator came to the house - but that story is for another post.

On the day of the release, after doing my initial search and then walking away from my computer disgusted, I returned and started reading up on what other bloggers and friends were finding.  Someone posted a link to  The 1940 Census Community Project Blog where news about the release was being shared. I read posts about the 1940s people, news and culture, indexing the census and how to search it - soon I was recharged by the excitement and went back to looking at the census.   In the days following the release they have posted information on famous people in the census and where to find them, as well as contests for indexers to participate in.  I suggest you visit the blog, subscribe and share the content - its a great read and will keep you up to date on all things "1940 US Census".  

Now for my first step - admitting I have a problem.. As I looked through pages and pages of different districts in different states, I became enthralled by the names and places and soon I was signing up to do some indexing - something I had never considered before thinking surely I didn't have time for it. Seriously?  I can barely squeeze out a blog post these days.  At heart I am a data entry geek, love entering data & always have, so this was actually right up my alley - maybe a little too much

"My name is Cindy and I'm addicted to indexing census data."  I cannot stop, every waking moment my computer calls to me.  That little whisper in the back of my mind asking "wonder what states are available now?"  I began working on Colorado & Kansas - states that I had no family in, but then Virginia came up and soon Maryland and Massachusetts.  While I really try to work on the batches that they have labeled "Highest Priority", it's difficult not to grab a batch from a state that you're interested in now and then.  If you like this sort of work I highly recommend it and even if you don't, won't it be great when the entire census is on line and indexed?  All genealogists should take part in this project. Our "community" always helps the other researcher from time to time - certainly we can all take a little time and help index the census.  After all, every one of us will benefit from it and even if you can only spare an hour a day, it's time well spent.

As part of ambassador program this blog post enters me into a drawing for an ipad

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Happy Birthday Grandma Keener Feb 11, 1924

Edna Reba Keener 11 Feb 1924 - 17 Jan 1995
Her son Jerry Keener 14 Jul 1942 - 22 Mar1983
photo taken in late 1940s 
My Grandma Edna Keener was a strong woman. Her mother died when she was only 9, the oldest of 8 children. Having her own first child at 14, raising three sons along with the many siblings in the home - it must've been a very difficult life for her. As an adult, she worked in some kind of electrical assembly job for most of her life and took care of her husband who was almost 30 years her senior.

Grandma lived nearby when I was young, I recall sunny days on her back porch, in the garden, playing in the yard that seemed so enormous to me. Her kitchen was giant and it seemed she always had something cooking (we were probably there for meals most of the time). Her dining room walls were covered with collected plates and was rarely used, except to pass through to the front of the house. As a child I didn't notice, but whenever I smell old books, or a damp basement - you know that smell? I remember her home smelled just that way.
Edna Keener and her sister Virginia Anderson
photo taken in early 1980s

Grandma moved away when I was in my early teens and I only saw her once or twice when I was an adult,  Too bad that I didn't realize the things that were slipping away at the time - the things that now I would love to talk to her about, her memories, her family, her life.

I am told that I resemble her, tell stories the way she did, and often make facial expressions that were just like hers. Strange how you do those things when you really didn't "know" a person, or spend any time with them to pick up habits such as these.

The last time I saw her, she was on her deathbed. Only a few weeks before she passed away. Oh, the things I wish I had asked! Grandma died on January 17 1995. She was 70 years old. Today would be her 88th birthday.

Happy Birthday Grandma, you're always in my heart!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Wordless Wednesday

John Jerry Keener b. 1942 d. 1983

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.