About Me

My photo
Lake Mathews (Perris), CA, United States
Born in Illinois, I grew up in Wilmette, a northern suburb of Chicago. I have one sibling, an older brother. I am married, for the 2nd time now, to Butch & got 4 children in the deal. They have gone on to make me grandmother 25 times over & great-grandmother to over 20!. After many years working in industry, I got my bachelors and masters degrees in speech communication, & was a professor in that field for 13 years. I retired in 2001 & returned to school & got my doctorate in folklore. Now I meld my two interests - folklore & genealogy - & add my teaching background, resulting in my current profession: speaker/author/entertainer of genealogically-related topics. I play many folk instruments, but my preference is guitar, which I have been playing since 1963. I write the "Aunty Jeff" column for the Informer, newsletter of the Jefferson County NY Gen. Soc. I work in partnership with Gena Philibert-Ortega & Sara Cochran as Genealogy Journeys® where we focus on educating folks about Social History. More about that: genaandjean.blogspot.com. More on our podcasts: genjourneys.podbean.com. More about my own projects: Circlemending.org.

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Treasure Chest Thursday - 31 December 2009; letter from Carl Glaser, Bohemia

Happy New Year!

In November, 1899, my 1st cousin, 3x removed, wrote to his cousin, probably Anna Wilhelmina TRAPSCHUH, daughter of my g-g-grandmother Maria Theresa KNOETGEN TRAPSCHUH, to catch her up on the family (who was still alive, who was married to whom, etc.). His last words of the letter, as I'm sure he knew that he would not write again before the turn of the year, was "prosit newyear" (toast the New Year). It was 1899, with 1900 about to arrive . . . 110 years ago. How cool it is that I still have that letter from cousin Charles GLASER of Teplitz, Bohemia to his cousin; even after the death of his aunt he stayed in touch with family and let people know how things were in the old country. (Note: he wrote many letters and most were in German; this is the only one that he wrote in English.)

Charles (Carl) GLASER; b: abt. 1843, Bohemia (no death information is known; his children and other family members no longer kept contact with the American family after his death, sometime after his last letter in 1901)

his cousin and most likely recipient of the letter: Anna Wilhelmine TRAPSCHUH; b: 28 May 1840, Austria; d: 18 Dec 1912, Milwaukee, Milwaukee, Wisconsin (never married)

her mother and Carl's aunt:
Maria Theresa KNOETGEN; b: 23 Feb 1816, Bohemia; d: 18 Apr 1899, Milwaukee, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Wordless Wednesday, 23 December 2009

John JOHNSON (aka Hans HANSEN) and wife, Mary S. JENSEN, on their wedding day, about 1876, Wisconsin

After her husband's death and the loss of 2 young sons, Mary (JENSEN) JOHNSON poses with her sons Hans Peter (my grandfather) and Carl William JOHNSON.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Tombstone Tuesday - 29 December 2009, Pollie Entrekin

The Entrekin family connects to both mine and my husband's lines; not sure where Aunt Pollie comes in yet, but she's related somehow. She died 110 years ago tomorrow. She's buried in Georgia where that branch of the Entrekins settled.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Countdown to Mesa, AZ Expo, 22-23 Jan 2010, Blogger Dinner

We are less than a month away from the Family History Expo in Mesa, AZ. This is an exciting opportunity for genealogists in the area (and many traveling in from some distance) to learn about all aspects of the process of researching one's family tree. There is information there for beginners through advanced researchers as well as for those who have particular issues they want to learn about, especially subjects dealing with technological advances in the field.

This is also an exciting event for presenters who donate their time to educate those who share their passion for this activity. They personify the theme of this year's event: LET YOUR LIGHT SHINE! Many don't realize that these speakers and lecturers do not get compensated for their lodging or time . . . they are there to share their lights with all those who come to learn! If a speaker happens also to have a booth in the exhibit hall, whatever they are promoting or selling is the only return they get on their hours of preparation and presentation. Well, that and the feeling of being instrumental in assisting someone find a long-lost ancestor. As with any teaching, the reward of contributing to the students' knowledge cannot be measured in dollars and cents.

Some of these presenters also share their knowledge through blogs like this one. Each blog is different and each is unique. Each blogger, similarly, is different and unique. And they are going to gather to celebrate the blogging activity. To attend the blogger dinner, one need not be a speaker or an exhibitor at the Expo, nor need one be a blogger (maybe you would just like some ideas on how, what, or why to become a blogger). And, if one is a blogger, that blog need not be genealogy-related. If you are interested in becoming a blogger, click on the link above (the Expo icon) and then click on "Banquet." As banquets go, this one is very reasonably priced (under $30). This unusually-themed banquet will also be a live podcast with Lisa Louise Cooke (read more about her in the blog I posted last week). So attending this event will mean that you are part of history in the making! But seating is limited so reserve your spot sooner rather than later or there may not be a spot for you.

But whether or not you attend the blogger dinner, please consider joining us in Mesa. And if you are a potential exhibitor who would like to promote your service or product, there is still booth space available. The event promises to be well-attended, giving your business potential clients/customers.

See you in Mesa!

Friday, December 25, 2009

The Christmas Truce of WWI

One of my favorite Christmas songs is "Christmas in the Trenches" by contemporary singer/songwriter John McCutcheon (he has a MySpace page with lots of info). This song tells about the legendary Christmas truce on the war front in France. His verses take us through the experience of an English soldier who found himself in the trenches on Christmas eve. Sung in first person, it is clearly an anti-war song while also being a pro-peace song that reminds us that "on each end of the rifle we're the same." (Note: This song is featured on his "Winter Solstice" CD and a YouTube performance of John doing it is also available for your viewing enjoyment.)

To learn about the Christmas truce, a very comprehensive explanation can be found at Snopes.com.

I believe this is an appropriate blog for this holiday (note: the term "holiday" comes from "Holy Day" and I believe is most apropos as the "holidays" last, in our home, from the beginning of Advent through the end of 12th night and includes all the holidays/Holy Days - St. Nicholas Day, Santa Lucia Day, Christmas eve, Christmas day, St. Stephen's Day, New Year's Eve, New Year's Day, and Epiphany). I hope that all the associations in your life similarly enjoy a Christmas truce and that your enjoyment of the season will be full and stress-free!

Merry Christmas.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Treasure Chest Thursday - 24 December 2009

In about 1939, my mother created her own Christmas cards by taking a photo of the family nativity set (placed in the fireplace that was never used for an actual fire!). I have, not only some of those original cards, but the figurines shown here (most looking nowhere near as bright and shiny after over 70 years of use). They are still treasures to me and pulled out almost every year (though I had to replace baby Jesus' head, which met an unfortunate accident ... a Lego figure head fits perfectly!).

Merry Christmas, all!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Tombstone Tuesday - 22 December 2009

My 2nd cousin, 2x removed, Inize May WILCOX (b: 24 September 1881, Michigan; d: December 1881, Michigan)
daughter of Wells William WILCOX and wife Ida Mae BENTON

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Mummers don't keep mum

'Tis the season to be mum.

I remember, as a high schooler, going from house to house with my Sunday School class, serenading the neighbors with Christmas carols. (Between the houses we sang about three kings smoking a rubber cigar, but when in front of a house with a receptive family, the kings "from Orient" were and and they were "bearing gifts," not smoking a thing.)

This behavior of going from house to house to celebrate the season, singing songs and spreading cheer, dates back to the activities of the mummers in England who would take their celebration to the streets after Christmas carols were banned from the church in the middle ages. Besides singing songs, these street singers wore masks and put on plays. Songs like "Christmas is a-coming, the goose is getting fat, please put a penny in the poor man's hat" expressed the desire of the entertainers to be paid for the show (is it any different when we were invited in for hot chocolate and Christmas cookies?). The caroling usually occurs early in advent, and often those being serenaded end up joining in with the singers.

The term "carol" actually refers to a song used to accompany dancing, so the tradition of adding drama to the singing does make sense. Each country/culture has its own tradition of going house-to-house to spread the holiday cheer. "Santa's Net" is a website that covers different traditions by culture, an interesting place to start to learn about the caroling, and other holiday behaviors, that your ancestors may have engaged in.

Other well-known songs about the house-to-house tradition are "Here We Come a-Wassailing" (which I recorded on my CD Songs of Holidays Past), "a-Soalin'" (made popular by Peter, Paul, & Mary), and "The Wren" (made popular by the Clancy Brothers).

So, whether your Christmas carol tradition involves the house-to-house caroling, joining with friends in a living room by a crackling fire, raising voice in song with choirs at a church service, or just humming along with the stereo (or MP3 player), you are carrying on an ages-old tradition; one your Christian ancestors probably enjoyed, too. So don't keep mum! Raise your voice in holiday song!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Countdown to Mesa, AZ Expo, 22-23 Jan 2010, Lisa Louise Cooke

It's hard to believe, but the Mesa, AZ Family History Expo is just over a month away. And there are so many exciting things going on at that event that I know I am not doing them justice with my weekly blog, but hopefully something I write will inspire my readers who plan to attend to enjoy some part of the experience they might have otherwise missed.

Lisa Louise Cooke will be there with her Genealogy Gems Podcast booth. If you have never listened to one of her podcasts, you have missed out on a treat. Not only does she educate her listeners, but she does so in an entertaining way. I was able to attend a seminar in October where Lisa was one of the featured speakers. She spoke about the many ways of using Google and making it one's personal genealogy assistant. I took tons of notes and implemented many of her ideas (and was so proud of myself that I actually already knew about some of the things she suggested). At the Mesa Expo, Lisa will be speaking on this topic and also about Google Earth. Lisa's tips and instructions are easy to follow for the most computer-illiterate, so this is a perfect series of presentations for anyone who has not yet tapped Google for the full resource it is (not only for genealogy, but for all areas of interest).

Lisa's podcast she did with me at an Expo earlier this year (episode 32) is still up on her website (until Dec. 23), if you are interested in hearing us talk about music, rving, and genealogy and how I manage to meld them all together. To hear it takes a subscription to her premium service, but that gives the listener a chance to hear the most valuable of her genealogy gems.

Lisa also has a book of "Genealogy Gems" - tips to help make your genealogy research more effective - available on her website. Plus, she sells a specialty item - an actual genealogy gem: a beautiful pin that declares the wearer to be a "genealogy gem." These and related items can be found in her on-line store.

So, when you come to the Mesa, AZ Family History Expo, be sure to stop by Lisa's booth and check out her items, attend one of her three lectures, and/or attend the blogger banquet on Friday evening to be part of her LIVE broadcast of the event (a first-time experience for all of us)! Tell her I sent you.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Treasure Chest Thursday - 17 December 2009

No lectures about killing deer ... no one in my family did anything to this deer (though I cannot say no animals were hurt in the process of the acquisition and mounting of this head).

This is a treasure because my grandfather, Hans Peter Johnson, a traveling salesman who never shot an animal in his entire life (and, to the best of my knowledge, never even held a gun) once had a cottage built on Beaver Lake near Hartland, Wisconsin. The fireplace he had built was amazing . . . made of local rocks. Grandfather said that what it needed was a deer head over the fireplace, but he had no intention of taking up hunting just for that purpose.

One day, as he was walking downtown, he passed a taxidermist shop and saw this deer head in the window. It turns out that the hunter that had the head stuffed and mounted never returned to claim his treasure. For the cost of the taxidermist fees - about $25 - my grandfather purchased the deer head and hung it over his fireplace, where it remained from that time (about 1920) until my mother sold the cottage in 1963. I laid claim to the head and so it was brought to our house in Illinois and hung on the back porch for a number of years until I had the appropriate location for it. So here it is, over my fireplace. It does elicit some ridicule from some of our visitors, but they seem to be placated by my explanation that our family merely purchased the head and that we were not responsible for his demise.

Come the holidays, he has a bad case of Rudolph wanna-be, so we deck him out accordingly:

I call him "Hans."

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Wordless Wednesday - 16 December 2009

Entering the village of Hibben, Germany

The year the town of Hibben, Germany was founded:

Coat of arms sign in the town of Hibben, Germany:
Exiting Hibben, Germany

Some day I will visit the town of Hibben.
Thanks to Dirk Hibben for the photos.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Tombstone Tuesday - 15 December 2009

Mesick Thomas Freeman (my 1st cousin, 4x removed), b: 26 September 1842, d: 4 December 1855; buried in Mohawk Village Cemetery, German Flats, Herkimer County, New York in the Freeman/Mesick/Gorsline plot ... tallest monument in the entire cemetery!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Children's Songs and Revelations

I have been working on the Kids Camp I'll be doing at the National Genealogical Society Conference in Salt Lake in April/May and at the Southern California Genealogical Society Jamboree in Burbank in June and am going over the songs I want to share with the kids (of all age ranges). In the process, I had this amazing revelation (which, most likely, everyone is already well aware). First, some background:

I want to point out that songs come in different categories: play-party songs, riddle & question/answer songs, songs that teach lessons, lullabies, and songs that are just for fun. So I was considering some of the Q/A songs and one that I remember from my earliest childhood was called "There's a Hole in the Bucket." (Here's where the revelation comes in.) I remembered always being confused by the encouragement of Liza (to Henry, who complains about the hole in the bucket) to mend it with straw. Now, in my short life (having first heard the song when I was probably 4 years old), the only buckets I knew of were made of some sort of metal (see image above). It was not uncommon for a well-used bucket to get worn in the bottom so a hole might form. I could never figure out how straw could be used in any form to mend this problem . . . to me, the only answer was to buy a new bucket.

Now, with a little more experience under my belt, I have finally figured it out. The bucket is a wooden bucket with a solid piece of wood on the bottom and the sides made up of slats, held tight together with the metal bands around the form.

The hole that Henry finds in the bucket is probably between 2 of those slats. If one were to push some straw into the crack, it could, indeed, be mended at least to be usable for a little while longer. What a revelation! And it took me only 54 years to figure it out.

When I sing this song for Kids Camp, I'm going to make sure that the kids understand this so that they won't be trying to do what I've been doing all these years: imagine straw plugging a hole in the bottom of a metal bucket (though most probably are familiar with buckets made of plastic, which makes the straw repair sound even more bizarre)!

Songs may survive for centuries, but our field of experience can create confusion. In some ways, the lyrics of these old songs may give us a sense of what life was like in an earlier time.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Family History Expo Countdown, Mesa, AZ - Speaker, Alice Volkert

I am excited about the Family History Expo in Mesa, Arizona, for a number of reasons. One of these is that a dear friend of mine will be one of the presenters and I am looking forward to hearing her talk about naming children during Colonial Times. Alice Volkert, who will also be discussing the use of digital photography in genealogy, serves with me on the Southern California Chapter of the Association of Professional Genealogists and keeps track of our members and money as the treasurer. I have thoroughly enjoyed getting to know Alice as a fellow genealogist who has a high level of professionalism in her work as a researcher and a presenter. Check out the two presentations she will be doing at the Expo by clicking here. Alice, a DAR member, also runs Volkert Services, helping people research and chart their family trees.

If you are still trying to decide whether or not to attend the Mesa, AZ Family History Expo, maybe this will help you make that decision. I'll talk about some of the other presenters in my weekly blogs, counting down to this event on the 22nd & 23rd of January 2010. It's just around the corner!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Treasure Chest Thursday - 10 December 2009

Bounty Land Deed issued to Susannah DILLENBECK KLOCK FREEMAN, widow of Edward FREEMAN (d: 24 Feb 1856), veteran of the War of 1812.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Wordless Wednesday - 9 December 2009

great-great-grandmother, Irene FREEMAN (b: ca. 1829, probably Jefferson County, New York; d: 28 Nov 1893, Dallas, Dallas, Texas), wife of Nathan W. WILCOX (m: 13 Feb 1848, Depauville, Jefferson, New York); daughter of Edward FREEMAN and Regina GUIWITS.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Tombstone Tuesday, 8 Dec 2009 - The Mysterious Deaths of Three Freemans

Francis Freeman (my g-g-granduncle) & his wife Mary Jane had six children. The oldest three were George E. (b: 1 Jan 1841), Charles W. (b: Jan 1843), and Steward E. (b: 2 Sep 1844). The oldest, George, signed up for Company F in the 10th New York (presumed Cavalry since the 10th Infantry was a Zouave unit out of New York City and the Cavalry unit was organized in Elmira and Buffalo, closer to where George lived in Jefferson County); apparently he never got to muster in. These 3 young men died as follows:

George: 11 Dec 1861

Charles: 10 Dec 1861

Steward: 13 Dec 1861

The cause of death is unknown. The family lived in the Brownville area, but the boys are all buried in Stone Mills Cemetery in Orleans, over 10 miles from the family farm, instead of one of the closer cemeteries. The stones are located in the plot also occupied by Susanna MOAK DILLENBECK and her husband Johann Baltus DILLENBECK. The Dillenbecks were the step-grandparents of the boys' father and had already died by the time the boys passed away. I suspect that the family had burial space, which is why the bodies were interred in that cemetery.

Years later, the boys' parents passed away and were buried in Dexter Cemetery (near Brownville) in the Underwood/Freeman plot (the youngest daughter, Medora, married an Underwood). Also included were 3 memorial stones to the three young men who died back in 1861. Anyone who would examine the cemeteries of the county would be surprised to find these young men buried not once, but twice. I suspect the bodies still remain under the large tree in Stone Mills Cemetery with the Dillenbeck family.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Kreativ Blogger Award

I am humbled & pleased that I have been awarded

by a few good folks whose blogs I have enjoyed: Randy Seaver who writes "Genea-Musings" and Angela who writes "What was their Story."

According to the "rules" of the game, I need to list 7 things about me that my readers probably don't know and then pass on the award to 7 other bloggers whose work I believe deserves such recognition. So, here goes . . . what my readers probably don't know about me:

1 - I was listed in "Who's Who Among America's Teachers" back when I was an active professor, as well as some other similar publications regarding "Women in Communications," etc.

2 - I am the daughter of the late L. Roy Wilcox, a mathematician who was best known for his work in lattice theory and who taught at the Illinois Institute of Technology, but who did his earliest work as a PhD at the institute of Advanced Study at Princeton, working with Einstein and Von Neumann.

3 - I was a mediocre student in my early education (I'm dyslexic) and dropped out of college only to return to work on my BA, MA, & PhD degrees once I understood how to study and learn to love to learn.

4 - My 7th great-grandfather was John Conrad Weiser, also a direct ancestor of "Dear Myrtle," making her my something-th cousin.

5 - My 10th great-grandfather was John Gallop, who came to America in 1630 with the Winthrop Fleet (he was also friends with Roger Williams, my husband's 7th great-grandfather)

6 - I have only one sibling - an older brother - and neither of us have any biological children; our parents were both only children so we have no uncles, aunts or first cousins and our Wilcox line, through Nathan W. Wilcox, ends (biologically) with us.

7 - My kids, grandkids, and great-grandkids are all courtesy of my husband and his 2 previous marriages; they are the best wedding gift he gave me and I cherish them all (to learn more about my family, check my website www.Hibben.org and click on "Groundhog Letter").

I have decided to recognize some blogs that my genealogy friends might not be aware of and some that have not already received this award; there are a lot of great genealogy blogs that deserve this recognition, but they've already received it so here are some you might not know about . . . The Seven blogs that I would like to recognize and encourage others to visit are:

1 - Folk Alley by the Folk Alley staff (this is an on-line music channel that plays some of the best selections in the field, many performed by new artists)

2 - The Word Detective by Evan Morris (not a blog in the traditional sense - he sends out quasi-regular emails to his subscribers and covers the origins of all sorts of words and phrases, one of my particularly favorite topics, as many know)

3 - It's Good to be Alive by Jack Rushton (he was one of my mentors at Santa Ana College, the LDS Institute, during my undergrad work; he suffered a life-changing accident and is now a quadriplegic whose views on life and how to make every moment count will give the reader pause)

4 - The Wright Graveyard Stew by Diane Wright, one of the Graveyard Rabbits (her love of all things cemetery makes her a true taphophile and she shares her experiences as well as her knowledge in a way that will cause you to want to rush right out and visit a cemetery, even if none of the occupants is a member of your family)

5 - Hot Coffee & Cool Jazz by Bobby Dobbins Title (she is the secretary of the Corona Genealogical Society and shares some interesting philosophical perspectives in her regular writings)

6 - Debbie's Weekly Wonders by Debbie McBrearty (this is primarily for San Diego residents, but gives a lot of great tips for saving money in activities and purchases in a time when everyone is feeling the pinch)

7 - Storycorps blog by the facilitators of the project of the same name (here is one way of preserving family stories for the future - it's a remarkable project and should be encouraged so we don't lose this element of history)

What do you do if you receive the Kreativ Blogger Award?

Like most blogger tags and awards, The Kreativ Blogger Award asks you to tell your blog readers a bit about yourself and then "pass it on" to other blogs. Specifically, write a post announcing that you have been named a Kreativ Blogger by The Family Curator. In your post, list seven things about you that your readers might not know, and then name and link to seven other blogs that you feel are worthy of the Kreativ Blogger Award. You don't have to tell why you are naming these particular blogs, but it is nice to know why they stand out in your book.

Congratulations, Kreativ Bloggers! Keep up the good work.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Family History Expo Countdown, Mesa, AZ

I've been added to the list of the

My dear friend Gena Philibert Ortega is also one of the bloggers of honor for the Mesa, AZ Family History Expo on 22-23 January 2010. Check her regular blogs by clicking on her name here and check out the other bloggers of honor by clicking on the image above.

Gena works for World Vital Records and edits their newsletter. Her website, Your Family History Research, includes information on her project of uniting people with their ancestors' artifacts gone astray, her fascinating book on The Cemeteries of the Eastern Sierra, her blog, her list of presentation topics, and her presentation calendar. If you have been fortunate enough to hear Gena speak, you know that her enthusiasm about Family History is contagious. Her knowledge of cemetery research, care of heirlooms, citing sources in your genealogy, finding female ancestors, and so much more makes her a much-requested presenter at genealogy societies and seminars.

I am in good company to be included in the Bloggers of Honor list with Gena and appreciate our friendship and professional association (she is the vice president of the Southern California Chapter of the Association of Professional Genealogists, in which I serve as president, and is also a regional director for the California State Genealogical Alliance).

Gena will be blogging about the Mesa Family History Expo in the coming weeks so check her blog, as well as this one, to learn more about what will be offered at this fabulous event happening just over a month from now.

Friday, December 4, 2009

"Tenting on the Old Camp Ground" & The Great Locomotive Chase

Last night I watched, for the first time (I'm embarrassed to admit) The Great Locomotive Chase. I have an early copy of the book on which the movie is based (written by William Pittenger, one of the participants of Andrews Raid); it's a true story of a group of Union soldiers stealing a Confederate locomotive and causing quite a disruption among the rebel troops that had to track down and retrieve the engine. After the Northerners were captured, they spent time in prison singing. Some of the old songs of the Civil War were performed (on both sides) by the actors in the film, but the one that struck me was "Tenting on the Old Campground." This song has lived long past the event of the War of the Rebellion. A friend of mine told me that, when she was a cub den leader, they sang a version of it (of course, they were speaking of a different type of campground; in the original song, the term "campground" refers to the areas where religious encampments would take place but had been turned into battlegrounds).

Years after the war, the song was reworked by James J. Clark for the reunion encampments of the GAR (Grand Army of the Republic - the Union vets who gathered to lend support to each other for decades after the Civil War was older). My great-grandfather, John Adam Hollander, was one of those veterans and his songbook that they used in the encampments is one of my prized possessions. Here are the words of that song as sung by the members of the Milwaukee GAR Robert Chivas Post #2:

We're tenting tonight in places secure, Our toils and dangers o'er;
We're singing the songs of long ago, Of days that come no more.

chorus) Many are the hearts that are weary tonight,
Saddened though the strife long ceased;
Many are the hearts that are looking for the light
In Heaven's bright realms of peace.
Tenting tonight, tenting tonight, tenting on the old camp ground.

We're tenting tonight with no danger near, Our hearts beat glad and high;
And yet it brings a sadness now To think of days gone by. (chorus)

We're tenting tonight in joy and peace, Our comrades won this prize,
On freedom's alter offering up A costly sacrifice. (chorus)

We're tenting tonight, but the old camp ground, Deserted long and cold;
Like memory comes to us tonight, Mingling the new and old. (chorus)

We're tenting tonight on a new camp ground, The old one now is gone,
The new and the old we now entwine, In garland wreaths of song. (chorus)

Then here's to the old and the new camp ground, They both to us are dear,
Glad welcome to the new camp ground, The old one claims a tear. (chorus)

Let us drop a tear for the old camp ground, Where many heroes died;
Their deeds gave freedom to our land, Their names are sanctified. (chorus)

We're tenting tonight, may our campfires burn A strong and steady blaze;
While comrades make the welkin ring With songs of other days. (chorus)

If you wish to hear this version, I've recorded it on my CD "Songs of the War of the Rebellion." To read the original lyrics, check out this RootsWeb site. Ironically, the original song, written by Walter Kittredge, was published in 1864; the Great Locomotive Chase took place in 1862, so it was impossible for the prisoners to have known the song to sing it after their capture, but the drama of the song, sung by these men who were facing death, was a moving element of the movie. An MP3 of this song, performed by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, is also available on the web (you can even get it as a ring tone for your cell phone!).

When I think of these men, who gathered at the post for regular meetings, I get a sense that they were more than comrades - they were brothers. They had shared some of the worst things that anyone could imagine and the only people who really understood were their fellow GAR members.

One of my mother's favorite stories was the one of the Great Locomotive chase . . . if you've never read it or seen the movie, it's worth the time. These men were the first to receive the Medal of Honor.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Treasure Chest Thursday - 3 December 2009

The passport for my great-great-grandparents, Ignatz & Maria Theresa (Knoetgen) Trapschuh for their 1849 trip to America on the whaling brig, William and Joseph. This lists the birth place of Ignatz - Hochpetsch, Bohemia.

They sailed on 13 February 1849 and the trip took until the end of March. The food ran out & they had to eat potato peelings. Great-grandmother told of seeing people who had died being thrown overboard, but in this family, everyone survived the trip.

All the children and birth years were listed on the back (my great-grandmother was Caroline). The youngest listed here, Gustav, always said he was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, but this proves he was born in Austria (Bilin).

I am very grateful that my family threw nothing away. This is a prized possession!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Wordless Wednesday - 2 December 2009

Roy Edward, Alma Mae, Lee Alfred, and Nellie Elbert Wilcox -
children of Edward Everett WILCOX and Amanda E. WILLIFORD, Dallas, Dallas, Texas
ca. 1889

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Tombstone Tuesday - 1 December 2009

Alma Mae Wilcox, b: 10 December 1888, Dallas, Dallas, Texas

d: 30 November 1970, Dallas, Dallas, Texas (39 years ago yesterday)
buried: 2 December 1970, Oakland Cemetery, Dallas, Dallas, Texas (39 years ago tomorrow)

Friday, November 27, 2009

Of bands, instruments, and kids: keep the music playing

For nearly as many years as I have been alive (at least, once we got a television set in about 1956), I have spent a part of Thanksgiving morning watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade. It's as much a part of tradition (for me, that is) as turkey, stuffing, and cranberry sauce. Even though I am "under the weather" (a euphemism for "sick as a dog," or, in this case, "sick as a pig"), I still watched most of the parade yesterday morning.

I am not a huge parade lover, per se, but I am a sucker for marching bands. The Macy's parade has, as I see it, 4 primary elements: floats, enormous balloons, performing groups, and Santa (who, once I see him on the screen, tells me I now have official sanctioning to program my stereo to non-stop Christmas music and to haul out the ornaments and lights for official decorating - this year, the former applied, but I am holding off on the latter due to the illness). I enjoy watching the baton twirlers, love the drill teams (oh, yes, indeed), but the bands are amazing. I am mesmerized by a marching band.

My husband was on the Navy drill team at Great Lakes (IL) and he marched in our local parades in the area where I grew up. We tracked our personal histories to discover that he & I marched in a parade together in 1959 - he in the drill team and I in the Brownies. He was awaiting the birth of his first daughter, I was awaiting the chance to "fly up" to become a Girl Scout (after which I deserted the organization, but that's another story). My father, who of course was present for the parade, filmed (8mm, black & white, no sound) the event but only filmed 2 of the groups: the scouts (of course ... and there I was, clumsily trying to carry the flag in proper form) and the Navy drill team! When we saw that on the film a few years back, we were amazed! Was Dad astute enough to realize that was his future son-in-law he was filming? (No, you couldn't recognize him ... the shot was way too distant to differentiate the people, it was just, obviously, the drill team from Great Lakes.) Butch & I like to joke about our first date occurring when I was just 8 years old!

But back to the bands. I taught at Riverside Community College for a time and loved to listen to their Marching Tigers rehearse. They marched in the Tournament of Roses Parade on more than one occasion. And a few years ago, my friend Susan invited us to come to Yucca Valley to hear a concert by the Marine Corps Band from 29 Palms. Oh, I think I cried throughout the entire performance! And my favorite scene from Mr Holland's Opus is where he leads the high school band in the parade and they break into "Louis, Louis." I even like the part in The Music Man where the kids finally get their instruments and put on their first public "performance," as it were. But I also love bagpipe bands and even ukulele bands.

But band musicians are not easily located. I mean, it takes a lot of practice, solo and group, to be a band musician. When kids were in school, when I was growing up, they had the option to be part of "band" - the class where, for credit, they got to play music together for an hour 2 or 3 times a week. I did not opt for that as I knew I had problems with reading music and was terrified that it would be a major embarrassment for me. But I envied the kids in band. You knew who had "band" on a particular day because the kids would come to school with their little black cases, holding trumpets, flutes, saxophones, etc. Some kids had to get rides on band day because they had elected to play tuba. Well, every choice has its price! (I have a dear friend who played tuba in high school, back in the 1940s, and says that his relationship with the band and his band leader were more influential in his early development than his relationship with anyone else at that time. He went on to play the instrument in the Marine Band. He still has that tuba - it has a lot of "dings" in it, but he keeps it polished and treasures it, even though he doesn't play it any more.)

My Dad, though principally and organist & pianist, played flute at Princeton where he worked at the Institute for Advanced Study (1938-1939). It was a great stress-reliever, he told me. Back then the flutes were wooden and were harder to keep in tune as the wood would swell or shrink. But playing in the Princeton Orchestra was a high point of his time there (he talked more about that than the fact that he was doing work with Von Neumann and Einstein!). (FYI, the flute had been purchased from Sears & Roebuck Co. for, as I recall, about $15; I still have that insrument, though it is cracked and dried out and sounds pretty bad.)

I'm getting to my point (finally). What happens to those instruments and that talent when the kids graduate from high school and move on? A few (very few) manage to get music scholarships to colleges. Some (even fewer) go on to be part of community orchestras (if they play a cross-over instrument). My friend Susan, who was an outstanding flute player in high school, continues to maintain her instrument and plays it in church programs and Sunday services. But most of those instruments, if rented, go back to the music store. If they were owned, they end up in closets, attics, sold on eBay, or passed down to a younger sibling or cousin. I was given a trombone once (have no idea where it is today) by one of my grandfather's neighbors who knew I liked music. I got frustrated by it on many levels, but it was one that the neighbor's child no longer played. Many of our grandkids have played instruments in their school bands and/or orchestras: Kirbi and Emily both played violin (one that had been in our family for years, in fact) and Kirbi went on to play viola (we have both of those instruments, waiting for someone to love them again). Louis played trumpet, if I remember correctly. Jeni played oboe. Our son Max tried the flute for a year (his CP and being left-handed made it more of a challenge than an enjoyment, however).

These opportunities to play instruments with groups give kids a number of benefits in life: they learn to work with a group, they gain a new and valued mentor in their band or orchestra leader, and they get a break from the rigors of traditional school work. Playing an instrument can become an escape as well as an emotional outlet. Now that so many schools are taking this option away in their budget cuts - "band" is hardly an academic necessity - kids are needing to find other ways to develop their creative genes and learn the teamwork they get from the music programs; some such developments never happen and some occur in less than socially acceptable ways. I know that playing the flute or oboe or piccolo may not become a child's life goal, but, at least for those years in school, that can provide the stress-relief that we all seek when the demands of life are closing in. And, without the music programs in the schools, where will our future bands and orchestras come from? Most of those musicians I watched in yesterday's parade have been playing their instruments for nearly half their lives (or they wouldn't be good enough to "make it" into such a prestigious event). Without the training for the youth, who will be in those marching bands in 20 years? 15 years? 10 years? or maybe even 5 years in the future? I could not bear a parade without the bands.

Finally, I have friends who are music teachers in their respective school districts. One of those has seen the music program completed dissolved in her district. Thankfully, her educational background is broad enough that she found another teaching position. The other's music classes have been so reduced that her work hours hardly constitute a living wage. While this is a shame for these people whose passion has been to teach music to children, it is also a devastating blow to the children who are now deprived of the lessons learned in music classes. Support music programs in your children's and grandchildren's schools! Let's keep music alive for the generations to come, just as it has been part of the lives of our ancestors before us. Check out SupportMusic.com for more information.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Treasure Chest Thursday - Teddy

My mother, Virginia Marie JOHNSON, with her treasured friend, "Teddy," who dwells with me these days . . . patched many times over, but still loved (under glass at this point in time).

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Wordless Wednesday, 25 November 2009

The home my father was born and lived in for his earliest years on Kildare St., Chicago, Cook, Illinois:

My brother (kneeling) and me (Jean Wilcox Hibben) among the remains of the Kildare house, about 1955):

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Tombstone Tuesday - 24 November 2009

Pioneer Cemetery, Dallas, Dallas, Texas
Where graves were moved from Young Cemetery
Suspected to be the area where of the relocated grave of Irene Freeman Wilcox, died 28 November 1893 (116 years ago this coming Saturday), Dallas, Dallas, Texas
No stone remains to mark her final resting place

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Treasure Chest Thursday - 19 November 2009

Hair and wigmaking products from Hollander's Human Hair Emporium, Milwaukee, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, owned and operated by John Adam Hollander from 1868-early 1900s. (The curl of hair is a watch fob made from human hair and woven by one of the daughters: Hattie, Emma, or Mamie.)