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Monday, January 22nd 2007

4:30 PM

This Blog is Moving!

I've decided to move my AnceStories blog over to Blogger, so please change your links to http://ancestories1.blogspot.com.  You can subscribe to the RSS feed at the bottom of the page over there, where it says "Subscribe to: Posts (Atom)."

Since I already have my journaling prompts blog at Blogger (AnceStories2: Stories for My Descendants), it was easier to keep it all at one place, and I've found Blogger is easier to use and maintain.  My posts here at Bravejournal will remain in place while I copy and paste them over at Blogger.

Thank you for your patience during this transition!
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Sunday, January 21st 2007

9:22 AM

Things You Didn't Know About Miriam

Jasia over at Creative Gene recently tagged me for a meme (whoa, I learned a new word!) in which I have to divulge 5 things about myself that you don't know.  I decided to raise the bar a bit, and I'm listing below 5 things each from both my personal and genealogical life for your reading pleasure:


1. My "real-life" job is a paraeducator in special education.  Under the supervision of a certificated instructor, I teach literacy and mathematics at the junior high-level, as well as assist students in their elective classes (Industrial Arts and Technology), Health & Fitness, Vocational Training, Social Skills, and Living Skills.  I work with a wide range of disabilities, including cerebral palsy, Autism/Asperger's Syndrome (my favorite students), Marfin's Syndrome, Down's Syndrome, and mental retardation.  I have also worked with children who have spina bifida, traumatic brain injury, and Fetal Alchohol Syndrome.

2. I enjoy different needle arts, all of which are self-taught: crochet, knitting, cross-stitch, plastic canvas stitching, and sewing.  Crochet is my forte'.  The photo below is of an afghan I designed and created for my son last year to match his bedroom decorating themes of Star Wars, Spider-Man, and other movie/comic book characters.

3. On New Year's Day 1987, I marched with The Salvation Army band in the Pasadena Rose Parade (I played the flugelhorn).  As an aside, The Salvation Army (TSA) band and the Pasadena High School band are the only bands that have a standing invitation to the Pasadena Rose Parade.  All others must receive a special invitation only.  It is considered a great honor for any band to participate in this parade.  On the other hand, I have also marched in the Butte, Montana Fourth of July parade with TSA, and that was an unforgettable experience as well (potholes, drunken miners, etc.)!   Between TSA band, various school bands, and church music programs, I also have played cornet, alto horn, clarinet, piano, autoharp, concertina, and even the timbrel (in a drill-team-style group for The Salvation Army).  Sadly, am no longer involved in any music groups.

4. I am a cat person.  My current pet is a "green" and black tabby female named Tessa, who we rescued in the neighborhood about 3 years ago.  She loves to play "catch" with her rabbit-fur-covered fake mice.

5. Sometimes I wish I could duplicate myself!  Then I could have enough time to do both genealogy AND create graphics.  I use PaintShopPro 6, and have created many backgrounds, images, and animations, some of which are available at my graphics website, Kidmiff Kreations.  Being a wife, mom of two teens (my kids drive me crazy; I drive them everywhere else!), employee, and hobby-genealogist, I haven't been able to keep up with this.  I tend to dabble in graphic creation and design much more in the summer.


1. I am a Mayflower descendant through Richard Warren (twice), George Soule, John and Joan Tilley, their daughter Elizabeth Tilley, and her husband John Howland.  My husband is a descendant of John and Elinor Billington, and their son Francis Billington.  Those Billingtons!  John was the first white man hanged on the North American continent (for murder), and Elinor was once condemned to be whipped for gossiping.  Francis may have been the son that William Bradford wrote about, who nearly blew up the ship on the voyage over, by making a squab (firecracker) IN THE GUNPOWDER ROOM!  After landing, John, Jr. got himself lost for three days, throwing the whole colony into a panic, until he was found and returned by (fortunately) friendly natives.  I often remind my husband that the apple didn't fall far from the tree!

2. Due to the small genetic pool in colonial New England, I am related to myself quite a few times.  My husband also descends from that same Puritan/Pilgrim pool, and between the two of us, it's amazing our two children were born with all the correct number of body parts!

3. My own black sheep ancestors include 4th-Great-Grandpa Uzza Robbins, a hot-tempered blacksmith from Potter County, Pennsylvania, who murdered his son, and later his second wife (with his step-daughter nearly losing her life as well).  Learn how Uzza lost his head, post-mortem, here.

4. Although I have never lived there as a permanent resident, I consider Michigan my home state.  Sixty-nine of my direct biological ancestors spent all or part of their lives in that state between 1836 and the present.  This includes all those ancestors in the generations between my parents and my great-great-grandparents, plus many in the earlier generations, including two sets of 5th-great-grandparents.  In addition, I have 12 direct adoptive ancestors and 25 step-ancestors (married to my direct ancestors) who were also Michigan residents.

5. If I never find another ancestor, I will consider my genealogical research to be successful, as my first goal when I began my quest was to reunite my paternal grandmother with her biological family.  She and her younger brother had been kidnapped from their mother's home by her father when she was three years old, and abandoned at an orphanage.  I was successful in achieving this goal, and you can read some of this story in my great-grandmother's AnceStory.

There, you now know more information about me than you ever cared to learn!  I hereby tag  Cameron and Maureen, David Bowles, Maureen Taylor, Denise Olsen, and Dana Huff.  Pass it on, folks!
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Monday, January 15th 2007

9:19 AM

Childhood Food Memories

I feel very blessed to have had the childhood I did, although for years, I did not appreciate it!  I was born and grew up in Alaska, living in mostly Native American-populated villages.  My parents were Salvation Army officers (ministers), doing mission work with the various native tribes.  When I was older, they built a house by hand (no power tools), and they had a little farm, living nearly completely off the land.  Because of this environment, I have had rich and varied experiences that many my age have not, and can understand and relate to the lives of my ancestors who lived pre-electricity, pre-running water, and pre-supermarkets.

Coming along hand-in-hand with these experiences was the assortment of foods that I enjoyed.  I was born in Kodiak, whose native peoples were heavily influenced by the Russian culture.  Here my parents learned to make pirok (salmon and rice pie, flavored with onion and hardboiled eggs), and kulich (Russian Easter bread - a heavy bread full of eggs and dried fruit, baked in a coffee can).  Living on a minister's salary was not easy.  I may be mistaken, but I believe that at that time, The Salvation Army paid its officers stationed in Alaska and Hawaii the same salary as those in the "Lower 48."  This was disproportionate, since the cost of living in those two states is much higher, due to shipping charges being passed along by retailers to the consumers.  I well remember eating pancakes and salmon frequently at the end of every month.  In fact, salmon, so outrageously priced at my local supermarket, was as common as hot dogs are for most people during my growing up years.  My parents owned a succession of several small outboard boats long before we had a car, as it simply was more practical to have a vehicle one could use on water to bring home the bacon--er salmon--with.  For most of my childhood, we lived in or near the village of Klawock, on Prince of Wales Island, the third-largest island in the U.S. (after Long Island, New York, and Whidbey Island, Washington).  The road from Klawock to Craig, a larger town mostly populated by Caucasians, was a treacherous 7-mile logging road remnant, and it was more convenient and less time-consuming for my parents to boat down than drive.  Prices were slightly lower in Craig, and so they often did their shopping there.  Later on, they would order by telephone to a grocery store in Ketchikan, and have their goods shipped over on a freighter that came to P.O.W. Island once a month.

Besides the many varieties of fish (salmon, halibut, coho, red snapper - some of which I helped Dad catch), there were clams, crab, and seaweed harvested from the sea.  My favorite treats were the seaweed that would be spread on sheets on the rooftops in the summer to dry, and smoked salmon (nearly everyone I knew had a smokehouse).  The kids I knew growing up loved Indian Cheese (fermented salmon eggs) with eulachon oil (a candlefish), but it was too strong for me.   And speaking of kids, many would go salmon fishing on the bridge that spanned the mouth of the Klawock River where it fed into the bay.  Fish that were considered "too small" were rarely tossed back in the water, but left to rot on the bridge or roadside.  Dad often tells how when we moved to Northeast Washington and he saw the price of salmon in the supermarkets, he would remember all the rotting fish on the bridge, and silently mourn!  I hated live crabs...they always looked malicious...and you had to put them in a large pot of water and slowly boil them to death.  Once a crab crawled out of a pot Mom had on the stove, and I remember her shreiking and pushing it back in with a broom handle!

In addition to the bounty of the sea, the land gave as well.  I don't really remember Dad going hunting, although I know he did.  I do remember eating venison once in a while, although some may have been given to us by neighbors.  I loved the way my mom prepared venison in a kind of barbeque sauce.  In the fall, it was very common to see deer carcasses hanging off people's front porches to drain all the blood out of the meat before cutting it up.

Dad once shot a bear on our front porch--which is a blog for another day!--and he and Mom made delicious sausage from the oily meat, which I loved to eat for breakfast with waffles.

I fondly remember picking elderberries, blue huckleberries (erroneously referred to as blueberries by area residents), thimbleberries (a favorite of mine), and salmonberries (a wild raspberry with colors ranging from yellowish-orange to maroon).  Mom and Dad made the best jams, jellies and pies.  I did hate picking salmonberries, as they had thorns and their thin whip-like branches always seemed to slap me in the face when I followed Mom into the berry patches, with old coffee cans hung by our necks with strings to leave both hands free for picking.  I remember always being a little nervous about black bears when berry picking, and to discourage any in the area, we would always sing loudly in the berry patches.  When out playing in the woods, sometimes I would snack on wild currants, but I never remember anyone picking any to make jam or anything else with it.  After my parents started their little farm, Mom experimented with drying ground salmonberries on waxed paper in our egg incubator, and came up with some great fruit leather.

Wild asparagus, a green about four inches high and a quarter-inch in diameter resembling the domestic asparagus, could be found near the beaches, and I liked it with butter and salt.  But I disliked goose tongue, another wild green that looked like long, wide blades of grass.  When steamed, its texture was too soggy for my liking.

The growing season was short and very wet (160 - 180 inches of rain a year), so mostly root crops flourished in my parents' garden: potatoes, carrots, turnips and radishes.  There were also peas, lettuce, cabbage, kale and rhubarb.  Dad tried strawberries in a barrel, but they never amounted to much.  He had a green thumb, and grew beautiful roses, tulips, morning glory and honeysuckle, in addition to the vegetable garden.

On the farm, which we liked to refer to as the homestead, we raised goats, rabbits, pigs, chicken, ducks, and geese.  Dad brought in Pygmy goats, because the miniature adults could be shipped in dog kennels in the small engine planes that delivered to the island.  That way, he didn't have to wait for (goat) kids to grow up before breeding, milking, or butchering.  Some friends of ours owned a restaurant and lodge; being from Texas, they had a barbeque pit for preparing their famous Tex-Mex foods.  Dad bartered and was able to have a whole goat barbequed over the pit for several days...one of the most delicious meals I've ever eaten!  Of course, we drank goat's milk, and the folks experimented a bit with cheese-making, which if memory serves me right, ended up being a bit like Feta.  We had two pigs at two different times, and each time Dad and Mom made wonderful sausage, as well as bacon, ham, head cheese and cracklings.  The first time we had rabbit, they didn't tell me what it was, but kept making comments about how the "chicken" had four drumsticks!  Of course, we had plenty of chicken, duck, and goose, along with eggs galore.

Mom made good old-fashioned sourdough bread from an old Alaskan recipe, sweetened with molasses and raisins (which kept the bread moist).  She would bake it in coffee cans, a good half-dozen loaves at a time, then wrap them in foil or plastic bags to keep fresh.  She made this bread for years, even after we moved to Washington, and it was a favorite Christmas gift among the neighbors from our home.

My parents felt it was important to starting incorporating elements of Dutch culture into our home.  As a white child in a village of Indian children, I learned a great deal about the Tlinget culture at school, where we had "blocks" - elective classes in native dance and song, mythology, language, and crafts (beading, blanket making, and woodcarving).  While this was certainly an enriching education, they wanted me to understand that I had my own heritage of which to be proud, and this was probably the beginning of my interest in genealogy.  They determined that between them, I probably was nearly half Dutch and half English, with a bit of Heinz 57 thrown in for good measure.  Being from Western Michigan, heavily populated by Dutch immigrants, they were familiar with the Dutch culture.  One of the many things they did was to find a cookbook of traditional Dutch foods.  Favorites included vijfschap (Five Kinds) - a beef stew with five kinds of vegetables and fruit (potatoes, onions, carrots, celery and apples) - and olie bolen (literally, "oily balls"), what we know as donut holes.

My all-time favorite treat growing up (and even now) was banket (bun-KET), a traditional Dutch pastry with almond paste filling.  My grandfather would make it and send it in our Christmas package from the relatives on my mother's side of the family.  A huge box would arrive, plastered over with sheets of stamps.  Grandpa worked for the US Postal Service in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and he, along with my dad and myself, collected stamps.  The box was a gift in itself!  After Christmas, Dad would carefully cut the cardboard, then place wet towels over the stamps to soak them off, later to be mounted in our albums.  Inside the box, everything was packed in the Sunday comics, another treasure in itself.  We were not regular subscribers to the nearest paper, The Ketchikan Daily News, and even then, its comics were in black-and-white.  The Grand Rapids Press, however, had Sunday comics in full, glorious color!  At the top of the carefully wrapped and packed Christmas presents would be the banket, wrapped in foil and still semi-frozen.  Dad would cut the pastry into one-inch diagonal slices, and we would enjoy every bite.  There never seemed to be enough!

In 1997, I wrote my grandfather, and asked him for the banket recipe.  At that time, he was 81 years old, and I figured I may not have many opportunities to ask him.  As a matter of fact, he lived another 9 1/2 years, passing away just a few days ago, on January 6th.  Every year when I make this treat for my family and friends,I think fondly of my grandfather, and next Christmas, it will be with a mixture of loss and joy.  I've included the recipe here, in this very long blog, as a tribute to my grandfather.  Although complicated, time-consuming, and expensive (almond paste is not cheap!), the results are worthy!


4 c. sifted flour
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. baking powder
1 lb. margarine (good quality)
1 c. cold water

1 lb. kernel or almond paste (kernel is cheaper and tastes as good, says Grandpa)
2 c. sugar
2 whole eggs and 1 egg yolk (save white for glaze)
1/4 c. flour
2 t. vanilla

1 egg white
granulated sugar

To make pastry, crumble or chop margarine into flour, salt, and baking powder mixture until mixed fine.  Add water and mix well.  Form dough into flat ball; wrap in waxed paper and chill overnight.

For filling, crumble or chop paste (a blender or food processor can be used, says Grandpa, but I used a hand pastry cutter).  Add sugar and flour and mix.  Add two whole eggs, egg yolk, and vanilla and mix well.  Form into a flat ball, cover or wrap, and chill in refrigerator overnight.

Divide pastry and filling into 8 equal parts each.  Shap pastry dough into an oblong ball.  Roll the ball away from you on a floured pastry cloth into a strip about 3 inches wide by 12 - 14 inches long.

Take one piece of filling and roll with palm of hand into a long rope a little shorter than the pastry strip.  Roll the filling onto pastry.  Brush one edge and the ends of pastry with water, fold the ends over the filling, and roll the pastry around filling toward moistened edge.  Press lightly to seal and place each finished roll lengthwise on an ungreased cookie sheet, seam side down.  Put 4 rolls on each sheet.

Beat egg white and brush on top of rolls; sprinkle with sugar.  Prick rolls with fork at one-inch intervals.  Bake in preheated oven 425* about 25 - 30 minutes or until light brown.  Makes 8 rolls.

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Saturday, January 6th 2007

9:17 AM

Adrian DeVries (1919 - 2007)

My grandfather, Adrian DeVries, passed away this morning at Covenant Village of the Great Lakes, Grand Rapids, Kent County, Michigan.  He had been fighting aspiration pneumonia for some time and had been hospitalized for eight days over the holidays.  To make him more comfortable, he was returned to his home at Covenant Village under the care of Hospice.

I am happy for him that he is at rest, and reunited with my grandmother, his parents, and siblings.  He was a World War II veteran, like my other two grandfathers.  Grandpa DeVries was my maternal step-grandfather, but we never thought of him as a "step."  He raised my mother, who was three years old at the time he married my grandmother (Mom was calling him "Daddy" when he and Grandma were still dating).  He planned to legally adopt my mother, but her biological father wouldn't hear of it.  He never treated her any differently than his son or daughter, and he walked Mom down the aisle when she married Dad.

Eventually, I'll add his story to my AnceStories website.
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Tuesday, January 2nd 2007

3:24 PM

Research Log - CROTHERS research

Distant cousin Sharon Flood sent me some notes that she had compiled years ago about Moses Crothers' family, plus a photo of his daughter Myrtle's grave.
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Saturday, December 30th 2006

11:04 AM

My New Year's Genealogy Resolutions for 2007

Having already done some reflection on my genealogical accomplishments in 2006, it's time to look ahead to the New Year.  Here are my resolutions:

*To continue and to improve my process of recording my research, especially when I search online databases.  It's so easy to quickly enter one search term after another, without stopping to record which spelling variation or soundex code I used in each search.  I know I waste time by repeating searches later on.  I think I'll create a form to help me.

*To cite my sources properly. It's a lot of work, especially to go back and re-cite 20 years' worth of  information that I used to enter in note form on my computer.   Now that I have RootsMagic, its computerized source citation forms will ease that process, but it still will be time-consuming.  My goal for this year is to get all the sources I currently have for my husband's and my direct ancestors through our great-great-grandparents' generation cited properly.  This includes printing up a lot of census records that I have accessed on Ancestry.com, but have not bothered to add to my hard copy files.

*To photograph and log my genealogical "treasures," items that have once belonged to my ancestors and late relatives.  My friend Beverly Smith Vorpahl once wrote a terrific article about the importance of documenting these items, so that they will not be carelessly disposed of in the event of your death.  I also plan to continue to take steps to preserve these items and to educate myself in areas where I am not sure of how to do so.  I have already ordered two books by Maureen Taylor, Uncovering Your Ancestry Through Family Photographs and Preserving Your Family Photographs: How to Organize, Present, and Restore Your Precious Family Images that should help me in these areas.

*To begin to slowly change my hard copy files from a file folder system to a notebook system, using archival-safe, acid-free page protectors.  Currently, I have all my hard copies for each surname I'm researching jumbled together within one (or more) file folder(s).  This is not very organized, and downright messy.  I  have so much information now.  I want to organize it by generation.  I already started this project for my HOEKSTRA files.  It's going to be time-consuming and expensive, but I have to think about the big picture: having hard copy data stored in a preservable format.  I plan to color code the D-ring notebooks: blue for my father's lines, red for my mother's, green for my father-in-law's black for my mother-in-law's, and white for my Location and Subject files (county and state resources and research topics such as probate, land, military records, etc.).


*To continue to blog at this location, and when I am lacking in time, to at least record my research in my Notepad Research Log (see my entry of December 29th).  Also, to be consistent in writing both prompts and responses for my new blog, AnceStories2 (hope you'll join me!)
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Saturday, December 30th 2006

9:30 AM

What's In A Name?

(I'm posting this as a response to the prompt on my other website, AnceStories2.  I invite you to journal with me. It's a great way to leave a record behind for the generations to come!)

The name that was given to me at my birth was Miriam Joy Robbins.  Now that I am married, it is Miriam Joy Midkiff, but professionally I go by Miriam Robbins Midkiff.  My mom picked out my name from the Bible.  Miriam was the sister of Moses, a prophetess, who danced when the Egyptians were destroyed in the Red Sea, and who grumbled with her brother, the high priest Aaron, against Moses' leadership.  Her punishment was a temporary case of leprosy.  My parents picked out Bible names for all of us children, either as first or middle names.  They served as missionaries to Native Alaskan communities for many years, and so Bible names were a natural pick.

My great-grandmother, Lillian Fern (STRONG) HOEKSTRA, absolutely loved the name Mary.  She gave it to herself as a nickname, and named her youngest daughter Mary.  She also had a granddaughter named Mary.  When I was nine months old, my parents went back to their hometowns in Western Michigan for several months, and during that time, we visited Great-grandma.  She wanted my mother to change my name to Mary.  Diplomatically, Mom told her grandmother that I was used to my name now, and that besides, Miriam was a variation of the name Mary, anyway.

Miriam is the Hebrew version of the Greek name Mary.  The roots of both names come from the  Hebrew word for "myrrh," the dried sap of a tree native to Somalia and eastern Ethiopia that is mentioned frequently in the Bible.  For years, I did not like my first name, because it was a) hard to spell; b) hard to pronounce; and c) every name meaning book I read said Miriam meant "bitter."  Then one day I came across an extended explanation of my name.  While myrrh is indeed bitter, it is the base for healing ointments, incense, and perfumes.  It was one of the three gifts the Wise Men brought to the infant Jesus.  When the women went to Jesus' tomb on Easter Morning, they brought spices with them.  It is likely that they had myrrh, as it was used to embalm bodies (and it covered up the smell of decay).  Myrrh was worth more than its weight in gold in ancient times.  The extant meaning, then, of Miriam is "bitterness turned into sweet fragrance," a definition much more acceptable to me!

"Joy," my middle name, is self-explanatory.  My maiden name, Robbins, means "son of Robin."  The name Robin is a nickname for Robert, which itself means "bright fame" or "red."  Midkiff is still a puzzle.  It is probably a U.S. southern dialect pronunciation of Metcalf(e), which means "meat calf."

My younger brother could not pronounce Miriam when he was a toddler, so he called me "Mimi" for a few years, which is actually a standard nickname for Miriam (along with "Mim").  My younger sister also called me "Mimi."

I prefer children to call me "Mrs. Midkiff," although I don't mind teenagers addressing me by my first name (I notice, however, that my teenage children's friends tend to either call me "Mrs. Midkiff," or simply avoid my name altogether when addressing me).  Because I work at a middle school, the students there naturally call me "Mrs. Midkiff."

All my names (except for my middle name) are difficult to spell and pronounce.  I could make long lists of the way they have been butchered in pronunciation and mis-spelled over the years!  What is curious to me is that Midkiff, which is so easy to pronounce (yes, MID-kiff) is constantly pronounced "Metcalf" by strangers.  It has also been mis-spelled as Midriff and Midkiss ("f" sounds like "s" over the phone, I figured out, so now when I have to give my name via telephone, I spell it out "M-I-D-K-I-double-F-as-in-Frank).  Robbins is easy, too, but I constantly got "Robinson," "Roberts," and "Robertson."  And Miriam is generally mis-pronounced as "MAIR-yum."  The correct pronunciation is MEER-ee-um.  Just two days ago, a clerk mis-read my name on my debit card and called me Mariah.  Marion, Maryann, and Muriel are other mis-nomers.  This explains why I named my children Melissa and Matthew.  No odd names, no odd spellings!
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Friday, December 29th 2006

10:38 AM

The Year in Review (2006)

Jasia is encouraging those of us who participate in the Carnival of Genealogy to write about our New Year's (Genealogy) Resolutions for 2007.  Before I do that, I need to write about my accomplishments in 2006.  Too often, when we set out to make New Year's Resolutions, we don't take the time to credit ourselves for all we HAVE done.  Our resolutions tend to have a negative theme in that they stress what we should have been doing, yet didn't do (lose weight, pay off debt, quit smoking, etc.).  So here's a list of things I achieved in 2006, genealogically speaking:
  • My main theme in 2006 was to get documentation for my great-great-grandparents' generation.  I think I did pretty well.  I searched for 8 birth records and came up with 4 (one was a duplicate, though).  During my search, I did find quite a few birth records for siblings of these ancestors, which expanded my knowledge of their families as whole groups.  I now have 6 of the 8 marriage records and 9 of 16 death records needed for this generation.  I have 15 obits and 15 grave photos for this generation, thanks to the wonderful volunteers at RAOGK and Find A Grave.
  • Speaking of RAOGK and Find A Grave, I performed many volunteer services doing records lookups and some gravestone photography at local cemeteries.  I researched the life of Herman THOENI, a gardener for the Campbells, a wealthy Spokane family from the turn of the century, whose home is now a part of the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture.  I also took on more responsibilities for my local genealogical society.  Helping out the genealogical community is one way of paying forward the many favors I have received over the years!
  • My husband's ancestry is one that we've had a lot of info on for many years, but precious little documentation, so this year, I started gathering evidence to support all the events I have listed for his ancestors: vital and census records, obits and grave photos.
  • I started keeping better track of my research, using research log forms bound in a notebook, as well as a research log in Notepad, and this blog.  I don't always have time to sit down and blog my research notes, but I can always quickly whip open my Notepad log and jot down a few notes, everyday.  I learned this trick in an article in Smart Computing magazine: Open Notepad and in the first line of the file, type .LOG (make sure you enter this in all uppercase). Press ENTER twice. Then choose File and Save.  Create a name like "Research Log" and file in a folder you'll easily remember ("Genealogy," etc.).  I created a shortcut to my desktop by right-clicking on the folder icon and choosing "create a shortcut."  Then I can easily access it.  The cool thing about this Research Log is that every time you open it, it date and time stamps the log, so it's all ready for you to record your notes.
  • I purchased a copy of RootsMagic, upgrading from my old Family Origins software.  I love that it has an electronic form for easy citations of sources!  I also purchased GenSmarts, and it has given me tons of possibilities for finding and researching documents of my ancestors. I was able to obtain a good used laptap, and although it doesn't currently have a wireless card, it is handy to do non-Internet computer tasks. We also upgraded to a new, larger, faster computer with a flat screen monitor, and DSL Internet connection. These technological upgrades and additions help make Internet research faster, more efficient, and productive.
  • Through my local community college district, I taught online genealogy for three quarters, as well as two Internet genealogy classes for my local genealogy society.  I didn't get much of a chance to add to my Atlas Project website, but did create another genealogy site for a client.
Now that I've listed what I've done, I can write about what I want to achieve in 2007.
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Wednesday, December 27th 2006

8:27 AM

Gerald R. Ford (1913 - 2006)

Gerald R. Ford, 38th President, died yesterday at the age of 93.  He was born in my ancestral city, Grand Rapids, Kent County, Michigan, where 29 of my direct ancestors were either born, married, lived, or died.  That doesn't count the many other siblings, cousins, aunts, uncles of ancestors that also made Grand Rapids their home.  My Grandfather DeVries attended South High School with him (a grade behind Ford), and later attended the University of Michigan, Ford's alma mater.
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Monday, December 25th 2006

12:18 PM

Christmas Gifts

Merry Christmas!

My family came over to our house to spend Christmas Day: my parents, my sister and her three little boys, and my brother (who lives on the other side of the state).  I am so blessed to have such a loving family!

As always, we adults drew names to exchange Christmas gifts, and my sister drew my name.  I mention this, because her gifts to me had a definite genealogical theme.  She got me a year's subscription to Family Tree Magazine, and also a couple of acid-free, archival-safe photo storage boxes from Wal-Mart.  Yippee!
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Sunday, December 24th 2006

11:59 AM

Research Log - ROBBINS research

Spent some time looking into the life of Eva E. ([--?--]) LYTTLE / LITTLE of Benona Township, Oceana County, Michigan.  I am wondering if she is the missing sister of my ancestor, Charles H. ROBBINS, Evaline ROBBINS, who makes only one appearance with her parents in the U.S. Federal Censuses (1860 - listed as "Eveline L.").  The family moved from Liberty Township, McKean County, Pennsylvania to Oceana County in the late 1860s.  In the 1870 Federal Census, I can account for all of Joseph and Marinda ROBBINS' children except Evaline.  I had assumed (yes, a bad word in genealogy!) that Evaline had passed away by 1870.  However, a biography of Joseph in The History of Manistee, Mason and Oceana Counties, published in 1882, states that he has (emphasis mine) seven children, and includes "Evaline E." in that list.

I started searching in Federal Censuses for any woman whose name started with "eva" or "eve" who was born c. 1853 (+ or - 2 years) in Pennsylvania who lived in Michigan.  I kept coming up with Eva E. LYTTLE (sometimes spelled LITTLE), married to Joseph, b. c. 1840 in Ireland.  Her father was born in New York and her mother was born in Pennsylvania (consistent with Evaline ROBBINS' parentage).  She lived in Benona Township during the 1870 - 1920 censuses.  He disappears after the 1880 census, and she is listed in the 1900 census as a widow.  Of course, the 1890 census for that area does not exist.  So sometime between 1880 and 1900, Joseph had to have passed away.  I double-checked the 1890 Veterans Census, and did not find either one of them, at first concluding that he must not have been a veteran and/or died before 1890.

Then I looked at the Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System website and made an interesting discovery.  A Joseph LITTLE served in Co. I of the 42nd Pennyslvania Regiment (also called the First Pennsylvania Rifles)...the same company that Evaline's brother Charles and his step-brother-in-law Angelo Crapsey served in!  Now neither Joseph nor Eva appear in the 1890 Veterans Census, so I am still in the theoretical stage here...trying to discover what does or does not add up.

Eva LYTTLE had 12 children, 10 of whom were still living in 1900.  Although widowed, she stated she had been married for 32 years (she was 48 years old) .  If Joseph died right around 1899 - 1900, this means she would have been about 15 or 16 when she married.  This is consistent with the family structure of Evaline ROBBINS, who likely would have been married by 1870, when she does not appear with her parents or siblings during that year's census.

If I can obtain a death certificate for Eva LYTTLE, or a marriage record, it may determine if she is my Evaline ROBBINS.

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Sunday, December 24th 2006

10:55 AM

Research Log - LYTON / TURK research

Received an obituary for Emma Alice (LYTON) CHAPLIN from Christine Gray, RAOGK volunteer for Multnomah Co., Oregon.  There wasn't a lot of new information, with the exception of the fact that she had two great-great-grandchildren living when she died.  Emma's father was Henry LYTON, a Civil War soldier who had immigrated from Canada to serve in the Union.  His real name was George TURK, and for some reason that is not quite clear, assumed the name Henry LYTON.
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Thursday, December 21st 2006

6:28 PM

Research Log - ROBBINS research

From Shawn StGermaine, I received via e-mail a photograph of Arthur Roy ROBBINS taken during his military service in WWI, as well as his obituary, and the obituary of his brother Albert.  She also sent a newspaper article written about his wife, Ellen HANSON, who lived to be over 100 years old; Ellen's obituary; and their son Russell's obit and funeral card.

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Thursday, December 21st 2006

9:02 AM

A Genealogist's Christmas

'Twas the night before Christmas
When all through the house
Not a creature was stirring,
Not even my spouse.

The dining room table with clutter was spread
With pedigree charts and with letters which said...
"Too bad about the data for which you wrote;
Sank in a storm on an ill fated boat."

Stacks of old copies of wills and such
Were proof that my work had become too much.
Our children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugarplums danced in their heads.

And I at my table was ready to drop
From work on my album with photos to crop.
Christmas was here, and such was my lot
That presents and goodies and toys I forgot.

Had I not been busy with grandparents' wills,
I'd not have forgotten to shop for such thrills.
While others bought gifts to bring Christmas cheers,
I'd spent time researching those birth dates and years.

While I was thus musing about my sad plight,
A strange noise on the lawn gave me such a great fright.
Away to the window I flew in a flash,
Tore open the drapes and yanked up the sash.

When what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But an overstuffed sleigh and eight small reindeer.
Up to the house top the reindeer they flew,
With a sleigh full of toys and ol' Santa Claus, too.

And then in a twinkle, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of thirty-two hoofs.
As I drew in my head, and bumped it on the sash,
Down the cold chimney fell Santa--KER-RASH!

Dear Santa had come from the roof in a wreck,
And track soot on the carpet (I could wring his short neck!).
Spotting my face, good ol' Santa could see
I had no Christmas spirit, you'd have to agree.

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work
And filled all the stockings (I felt like a jerk).
Here was Santa, who'd brought us such gladness and joy
When I'd been too busy for even one toy.

He spied my research on the table all spread.
"A genealogist!" he cried (my face was all red!).
"Tonight I've met many like you," Santa grinned
As he pulled from his sack a large book he had penned.

I gazed with amusement--the cover it read,
Genealogy Lines for Which You Have Plead.
"I know what it's like as a genealogy bug,"
He said as he gave me a great Santa hug.

"While the elves make the sleighful of toys I now carry,
I do some research in the North Pole Library!
A special treat I am thus able to bring,
To genealogy folk who can't find a thing.

"Now off you go to your bed for a rest.
I'll clean up the house from this genealogy mess."
As I climbed up the stairs full of gladness and glee,
I looked back at Santa who'd brought much to me.

While settling in bed, I heard Santa's clear whistle
To his team which then rose like the down of a thistle.
And I heard him exclaim as he flew out of sight,
"Family history is fun!  Merry Christmas!  Good night!"

 --Author Unknown

(Thanks to my cousin--and fellow HOEKSTRA researcher--Kathy Birnell for sending this to me!)

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Wednesday, December 20th 2006

2:39 PM

Research Log - ROBBINS research

Received an e-mail from Shawn StGermaine, who is a sister-in-law of a descendant of Ben Frank ROBBINS and Helena SWEET.  She has added both grave info and photos of the ROBBINS family to the Find A Grave website from West Cemetery, Hesperia, Michigan, including photos of Joseph and Marinda ROBBINS' graves (graves which another photo volunteer had been unable to find this summer).

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