About Me

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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.

Friday, October 30, 2009

"The Minstrel Boy" Lives on & on & on

I am getting ready for a seminar in Ridgecrest, California tomorrow, where I will do my musical program: "Erin Go Bragh: Songs and Stories of Irish Immigrants." I love this particular presentation: it hits all emotions - anger, sadness, humor, loneliness . . . the Irish immigrants experienced them all!

One of my favorite songs is one I have done since I first learned to play guitar: "The Minstrel Boy." I learned it off a Dick Rosmini record (he was an amazing guitarist and banjo player who frequently backed up "the big names," such as Bob Gibson and Tom Paxton; but he did make one album for Elektra and "Minstrel Boy" was on it). Anyway, initially I didn't realize it had words (Dick never sang, just did instrumentals) and one day, while on a trip, I was playing it in the motel room and my mother (who rarely listened to my noodling on the guitar, but in this situation was sort of a captive audience), started to sing it (not a good thing to my father, who despised Mom's attempts to sing and, whenever she did, he would moan, "Virginia, pppleeeeaazz!"). There were words! And, even more shocking, my mother knew the song! I was able to trace down the lyrics fairly easily, though they have been somewhat altered from the original as it was written by Thomas Moore at the turn of the 19th Century in memory of fallen soldier friends during the Irish Rebellion in 1798.

Regardless of the reason for its composition, the song has resurfaced in other wars, especially when Irish are involved. It gained new fervor during the Civil War (the time frame in which I have placed it in my program, the songs of which are available on my own CD).

I have found a few versions of this song on YouTube: the first by Danny Quinn (the song encompasses the first couple of minutes on the recording); a second is by Charlie Zahm who performs it in military garb, accompanied only by Irish Bohran (it will cause one to be mesmerized; he has included a more modern, additional verse); a third is by Lady Emily of England who plays it, in mask, on violin - no lyrics on this one (a little fast for my taste); a fourth is by The Corrs, also done as an instrumental (primarily violin and guitar, the original tune "The Moreen") in a very stately fashion, which is probably a more familiar tempo for most of us; another version is found done by an entire drum and bagpipe band, Lewisville Keeping Tradition Alive (slight variations in the tune, which seem to be standard for those playing it on bagpipes, I've noticed); finally, the 97th Regimental String Band also has a spirited version, both words (with the extra verses) and instruments (primarily mandolin) - no real video on that recording, however, just a flag graphic.

Other places you may have heard the tune: Folkies will recognize it as being the "tag" on the John McCutcheon song "Christmas in the Trenches," recorded on his wonderful album Winter Solstice (a great addition to anyone's Christmas CD collection, regardless of the individual's genre preference). And it comes up in the movies quite frequently: Blackhawk Down includes it, and it is played in the incredible movie, The Man Who Would be King with Michael Caine and Sean Connery. It can also be heard in Star Trek at various times!

Curious about the words and, possibly, chords? Check the words out at the Wikipedia link, which includes one of the newer verses added, and, for chords, try Chordie.com (though the version I use includes an F# thrown in for added effect).

Now you probably have much more information on this song than you ever desired, but I hope that it shows that a piece of music, composed in the 1700s, with words added in the 1800s can not only survive the ages, but be applicable to circumstances in the 2000s!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Wordless Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Dad, at about age 3, with his parents (L-R):
Lee Alfred Wilcox, Lee Roy Wilcox, Pauline Elizabeth Miller Wilcox
ca 1915, Chicago, Illinois

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Tombstone Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Frank Pierce Goldthwaite, Jr., son of my grandaunt, Lenora Mildred Wilcox and her first husband, Frank Goldthwaite. He was born 22 September 1920 and died 27 October 1920, 89 years ago today. He is buried in Oakland Cemetery, Dallas, Texas.

Monday, October 26, 2009

"Genealogy Gems" Highlights My Music!

My podcast with Lisa Louise Cooke - Genealogy Gems - has been uploaded to her website, in the Premium subscription format. She incorporates it with some of her amazing gems that help people research their ancestors; "my" part begins at about 13 minutes into the broadcast. She has done a unique incorporation of some of my songs with the discussions about them. I really appreciate the amount of work that had to have gone into that editing project! Little snippets of "Streets of Laredo," "Barbara Allen," "Red is the Rose," "Careless Love," "Tom Dula," and "Little Old Sod Shanty" are included. To listen to this, and the many, many wonderful podcasts that Lisa presents on her websites, check it out at Genealogy Gems.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Cemetery Stroll & Civil War Music

This Sunday, Oct. 25, Sunnyslope Cemetery on Rimpau in Corona, CA, will be the location for a "Cemetery Stroll" in which visitors will be educated by reenactors participating as deceased Civil War veterans, interred in that graveyard, describing their lives and experiences. Visitors are invited to this event between 2 and 4 pm. Donations are welcome.

Butch & I are honored to be included in this year's event and will entertain visitors at the conclusion of the stroll where refreshments will also be provided. We will be singing the songs of the soldiers and their families from that era. Among the songs that we will sing will be "Marching through Georgia," "Battle Cry of Freedom," "Tramp, Tramp, Tramp," "Vacant Chair," "When Johnny Comes Marching Home," "Tenting on the Old Campground," and more. We will also be playing the instrumental tune, "Ashokan Farewell," made famous in Ken Burns's Civil War series on PBS. Stop by to listen to the music as well as learn about Corona residents who served the country in the War between the States. (We will also have CDs available for sale.)

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Treasure Chest Thursday, 22 October 2009

Some of Great-grandfather John Adam Hollander's GAR memorabilia.
Robert Chivas Post #2, Milwaukee, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Wordless Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Northwest Branch, National Home for Disabled Veterans, Wauwatosa, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA

Friday, October 16, 2009

Stones, Bones, & Ancient Tomes and the Music of Our Ancestors

Tomorrow (Saturday, Oct 17) we (Butch & I) will be hosting a table at the Corona Genealogical Society's "Stones, Bones, & Ancient Tomes." This is an event to introduce the community to genealogy & how to do family history research. We will have a number of tables to help people with doing research for their Hispanic, Jewish, African American, and Native American ancestors; using DNA to find ancestors; archiving ancestral photos with scrapbooking and photo restoration experts; learning about researching Revolutionary War ancestors with DAR representation; what to expect in the 2010 Census; and consultants to assist with one-on-one research help. Butch & I will be presenting Music & Our Ancestors in our display of period instruments with occasional demonstrations, as we've done at some of the Family History Expos in Utah and Colorado.

To learn more about this event at the Corona Public Library, 650 S. Main St., Corona, CA, check the Website. And if you live in the Inland Empire, come on over between 10 am and 4 pm to check out the event in person. There will be door prizes given away throughout the day and classes to help folks learn about getting started in family history research and use the local resources of the Family History Center, the Corona Genealogical Society, and the Corona Public Library. Be sure to stop by the Music table to say "hi" and maybe sing along with a song of your ancestors. (CDs will be available for purchase.)

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Treasure Chest Thursday - Ham Radio Equipment

Dad's old ham radio set on his desk in his bedroom in Wilmette, Cook, Illinois (ca. 1928). I still have the headset (on the left) and my granddaughter has the desk. Glad Dad (Lee Roy WILCOX, b: 8 Jun 1912, Chicago, Cook, Illinois; d: 31 Dec 1999, Northbrook, Cook, Illinois) took care of everything for the future generations.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Wordless Wednesday, 14 Oct 2009

Sisters: Claire Corinne (b: 22 Jan 1886, Milton Junction, Rock, Wisconsin; d: Jan 1974, Riverside, Riverside, California; buried: Milton Junction Cemetery, Milton, Rock, Wisconsin) & Ada Leora PRYCE/PRICE (b: 26 Jun 1888, Milton Junction, Rock, Wisconsin; d: 24 Aug 1973, Riverside, Riverside, California; buried: Memorial Park Cemetery, Skokie, Cook, Illinois), daughters of James Corliss PRICE, Jr. & Ada Florence BRIGHTMAN

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Tombstone Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Took these on our recent trip back east . . . Milton Junction Cemetery, Milton, Rock County, Wisconsin
The grave of my 2nd cousins' great-grandfather (who is also their 7th cousin, twice removed; their 8th cousin, 3 times removed; and their 8th cousin, twice removed!):
James Corliss PRICE, Jr., b: 29 December 1854 or 1855 in Albany, Green, Wisconsin; d: 3 October 1888 in Milton Junction, Rock, Wisconsin.

Friday, October 9, 2009

"Comrades! Touch the Elbow" - Song of the GAR

In a previous post, I included the picture of a songbook used at Civil War reunion encampments. I have stewardship over this booklet and have enjoyed using it to research some of the songs of the war. In his autobiography, Take Me Home, discussed last week, John Denver states that an unnamed 19th Century philosopher stated "when music plays, canons [sic] keep quiet" (p. 199). I have been unable to find the source of that quotation (thus far . . . if anyone out there can give me the exact quote and/or its origin, I'd be pleased to learn about it), but I believe that there is a lot of truth in this. But after the war, the music continues.

One of my favorite songs from the booklet I included in yesterday's blog is "Comrades! Touch the Elbow" by I. E. Thorpe (sung to the tune of "Battle Hymn of the Republic" by George Frederick Root):

1) We will rally to the Post, boys, we'll rally once again;
Comrades, come and touch the elbow.
To those who served upon the land, or upon the raging main,
Comrades, come and touch the elbow.

Chorus) The old flag forever, hurrah, boys, hurrah!
We stood by Old Glory, it hasn't lost a star.
We will rally to the Post, boys, we'll rally once again,
Comrades! Fall in and touch the elbow!

2) We'll gather in the Post, boys, to talk of times that's past,
Comrades . . .
How we marched in summer's sun, how we stood mid-winter's blast,
Comrades . . . (chorus)

3) We will welcome to our numbers, the loyal true and brave . . .
Who put on the Union blue, our dear nation's life to save . . . (chorus)

4) We will gather in the Post, boys, we'll gather once again . . .
Though death open wide our ranks, we will close them up again . . . (chorus)

5) So we'll rally to the Post, boys, we'll rallly once again . . .
Those old songs we used to sing, we will sing them o'er again . . . (chorus)

I have found another song that also uses this phrase, sung to "When Johnny Comes Marching Home." Like the one given here above, there is no explanation of this term. This unusual phrase refers to the sense of solidarity the soldiers would feel when, in battle, with the smoke of cannon fire obliterating everything within even just inches from their faces, they could touch the elbow of the comrades next to them. There is even a blog on the web that uses that phrase, "touch the elbow," as its title. Check out Touch the Elbow-Blogging the Civil War to read more about the war and experiences of these men and boys. An explanation of the phenomenon can be found in an 1860s soldier handbook as well as in a guide for reenactors.

I have recorded the song listed above on my own CD, "Songs of the War of the Rebellion," but I know of no other recording of this unusual and rare piece that, I would like to think, was sung with gusto by my great-grandfather and his comrades at the Robert Chivas GAR Post #2 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (If you would like an MP3 download version of this song, contact me directly.)

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Treasure Chest Thursday - Civil War Memories

Memories of the Civil War and the companionship of Charles John TRAPSCHUH (Wisconsin 26th Reg) and John Adam HOLLANDER (Wisconsin 24th Reg): GAR medal, reunion encampment song book, 26th Regiment souvenir ribbon, and 24th Regiment 50th reunion banquet program.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Wordless Wednesday, 7 Oct 2009

The Milwaukee, WIsconsin TRAPSCHUH Family: Ignatz TRAPSCHUH & Maria Theresa KNOETGEN & children (abt 1861):
The Spokane, Washington TRAPSCHUH family: Gustav Mathias TRAPSCHUH & Emma BARKMAN & children (abt 1898) (note photos of Ignatz & Maria Theresa - Gustav's parents - on back wall)

(thanks to Melody MURPHY for this photo)

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Tombstone Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Irene TRAPSCHUH was my first cousin, twice removed. Because of a divorce, her part of the family lost contact with my part of the family.
Irene was the daughter of Heinrich (Henry) Ignatz TRAPSCHUH and Margaretha (May) LORENTZEN, b: 14 April 1884, Milwaukee, Milwaukee, Wisconsin; d: 6 October 1900, Milwaukee, Milwaukee, Wisconsin (109 years ago today); buried in Forest Home Cemetery, Milwaukee. She was 16.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Wedding Songs over the Ages

I am sitting at my son's wedding location (wedding doesn't start for about 45 minutes) and my daughters have been at work practicing a song for the ceremony. The 2 girls (well, hardly "girls" anymore . . .) always sound so beautiful together! Their brother wanted to have them sing for his wedding and they couldn't hardly turn him down. Having all 4 of our kids together (the 3rd time in their lives) was, in itself, somewhat amazing! Our older daughter lives in Arizona, our older son lives in Illinois, our younger daughter lives in Georgia, and our younger son (the groom) lives in Texas, yet, despite the years and distance, we're going to hear a duet in short order. They selected a very modern song (I'd never heard it before) and it's beautiful. Got me to wondering what songs might have been sung at our ancestors' weddings.

Of course, we know that many early marriages were of convenience or business (combining 2 families & their assets), so possibly the romantic love songs were not sung at such unions. However, we also remember such stories of Romeo & Juliet (OK, so that was fictional, I think), Abelard & Heloise, Antony & Cleopatra, Abigail & John Adams, and Elizabeth Barrett & Robert Browning.

Robin Frederick has an interesting website about Early Love Songs and that may shed some light on the songs our multi-great-grandparents (and earlier) crooned. Then there are songs of unrequited love (not likely to be heard at a wedding . . . after all, that's when the 2 get together, not pine for the loss of love not returned . . . well, unless the object of one or the other's affection is not present!). So, while "Greensleeves" (possibly by King Henry VIII) may be a song of love, our ancestors probably did not include it in their wedding ceremony!

How about those who married in the 1800s? Check out the "Greatest Hits" of that Century at "Most Requested Music Hits of the 1800s" to see the few love songs included there (including "Beautiful Dreamer," mentioned in an earlier blog, among others).

So, unless your ancestors happened to leave a record of what they had sung at their wedding, we will probably forever be in the dark about the music portion of their wedding ceremonies. Still, it's fun to imagine those early weddings with maybe just a touch of music, even if it was only Mendelssohn's famous "Wedding March," written in 1842.

Treasure Chest Thursday - Nathan Wilcox Business Card

In 1870, my great-great-grandfather Nathan Wilcox and his family lived in Decherd (near Winchester), Franklin County, TN. I found his business card in a box of ephemera, passed on to me by my father. It was only years later that I could figure out what it all meant and how it helped explain his migration from Franklin County, TN (where the card was printed) to Clarksville, Montgomery County, TN (where he claimed to be in business).

The Clarksville Courthouse (among other buildings) was burned in April 1878; I found Nathan and family living in that town in 1880, but the back of this card implies that he was moving there in May 1878 (see clarification below). The Winchester newspaper - The Home Journal - ran advertisements from Clarksville, asking architects and builders to please make bids on the the reconstruction of the destroyed buildings. No doubt, this was how Nathan responded to those requests (which were run throughout April and May, and possibly longer, in the newspapers throughout Tennessee and probably surrounding areas).

"Received 28th day of May 1878" "Franklin County, State of Tenn., Winchester"

This is a treasure on many levels:
1) written in Nathan's handwriting
2) explanation of when he moved to Clarksville
3) a priceless piece of history as the only known business card for him