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.

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."

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