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.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Countdown to Mesa Family History Expo - 4 weeks

The Mesa Family History Expo is only 4 weeks away. Here we are on Christmas eve and celebrating the birth of our Savior. We are also planning for the trips in the New Year, as well as resolutions for the next 12 months. Is one of your resolutions to work on your genealogy? Here is the perfect start of 2011: a place to get your genealogy resolutions off the ground while rubbing elbows with some of the best in the business. All that and a FREE exhibit hall (more on that next week) with lots of opportunities to improve your family history research. Check out Family History Expos for more on this event.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Treasure Chest Thursday - The Hibben Home Creche

My creche is mostly composed of my wolf figurines with my mother's family's nativity set (which she had in our home while I was growing up). It gives me a peaceful feeling to see the old with the new and know that traditions from my childhood and my mother's live on in my home.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday - 21 December 2010 - Helen Lorentzen Clayton

Helen LORENTZEN CLAYTON, the sister-in-law of my great-granduncle, Heinrich (Henry) Ignatz TRAPSCHUH, born 15 July 1864 (probably in Canada) and died 22 December 1892 (108 years ago tomorrow) in Wisconsin, buried in Forest Home Cemetery, Milwaukee, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Hoping that posting this may connect me to my relations from that branch of the family. Henry and his wife, Margaretha (May) LORENTZEN TRAPSCHUH, divorced after having 2 children. Henry moved to Minnesota and remarried. Margaretha stayed in Milwaukee. I know nothing of their relationship.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Sunday Singalong with Circlemending - Songs of the Season - The Birth of our Savior

It is the last Sunday of Advent. This coming Friday night is Christmas eve, when we celebrate the birth of our Savior. There are so many songs, hymns, and carols that celebrate that event. Surely you have many favorites, so share one here.

One of my favorites is "Infant Holy" - it's a simple song and I love the version on the recording "Twas on a Night Like This" (discussed a couple of weeks ago. But here is a YouTube version with a lovely background video, the song performed by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Enjoy the experience.

So now it's your turn: Share the lyrics, title, or link to a favorite song that speaks to the birth of our Savior, the reason we celebrate this time of year. Let us not forget the Reason for the Season.

Merry Christmas to all my followers, and to anyone who just stumbles on this post.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Mesa Family History Expo Countdown - 5 weeks

Only 5 weeks until genealogists from all over the country will converge on Mesa, Arizona to enjoy the Family History Expo and learn new ways of researching their family trees. Last week I discussed the various things people can do while visiting the Phoenix area. Today I want to suggest a schedule for those who are beginning genealogists. Now, these are not the only choices for beginners; in fact, if you have some specific areas of concern (ethnic genealogy research, software interests, etc.), then I wouldn't suggest this list. But if you are new to genealogy and have no idea what to "take," this schedule might be helpful:

10:00 am - Putting the Flesh on the Bones - Ron Arons
11:30 am - Juicy Family History: 25 Ways to Write Compelling True
Stories - M. Bridget Cook
1:30 pm - Who is That? Why Did Your Ancestor Associate with Apparent Strangers? - Jean Wilcox Hibben
3:00 pm - In the Beginning – Just Getting Started - Betsy Frith Gottsponor
4:30 pm - 7 Habits of Highly Successful Genealogists - DearMyrtle

8:00 am - State and Territorial Censuses & Substitutes, Additional Names for U.S. Genealogical Research - Leland Meitzler
9:30 am - I LOVE Libraries: Using Libraries for Your Genealogy - Gena Philibert Ortega
11:00 am - United States Immigration Overview - Jason Harrison
1:00 pm - Little Known Facts About the U.S. Census - Shirley Gage Hodges
2:30 pm - Keeping Your Genealogy Computer File Clean - Janet Hovorka

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Treasure Chest Thursday - Holiday Books

My Christmas book display - many of these have been in my family for generations. I appreciate that my ancestors hung onto them.

Happy holidays.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Monday "Mum-along" with Circlemending

Since I was busy yesterday (Sunday) dealing with computer email problems, I never got the Singalong blog posted, so today I will suggest a Mum-along. The Mummers were the folks who took holiday music to the street when Cromwell banned it from the Church (1600s). While many mumming songs have become our regular Christmas carols (from the French carole meaning "ring" - songs that would accompany dancing, usually those performed in a circle, or ring), I thought it would be interesting to see if others like mumming songs as I do. Sometimes they are songs sung as rounds (another form of ring), sometimes they are songs that simply express the joy of the season. One verse resembles the previous, with just simple changes, encouraging people to sing along.

While the mummers usually did their plays and music in disguise (possibly so that Cromwell's people would not recognize them, saving them from the stocks), we sing them around the piano, fireplace, or even going door-to-door. They often wish happiness and health to the household they visit, suggesting a prosperous New Year. They also often ask the householder to give them some food, drink, or even money in exchange for those wishes.

One of my personal favorites of the mumming songs is named for the punch - wassail - that is also part of the holiday (read more about that at Wikipedia, and check the companion article on wassailing, the focus of the song I include here).

Here we come a-wassailing among the leaves so green,
Here we come a-wandering, so fair to be seen,
Love and joy come to you, and a Merry Christmas too,
And God Bless you and send you a happy New Year,
And God send you a happy New Year.

(See the full set of lyrics here). On YouTube, there is a wonderful instrumental by The Canadian Brass and a vocal by the Strathroy Chorale, among others.

One of my favorite renditions is on the Caroline & Sandy Paton recording "'Twas on a Night Like This" available from Folk-Legacy.

I recorded a version a couple of years back that can be heard or purchased (as a CD of Holiday Songs) from CDBaby.

So what songs on this type of theme are your favorite of the season? Share lyrics, links, or just titles here . . . and maybe sing a few to add some merriment to the holidays.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Mesa Family History Expo Countdown - 6 weeks

It's time again to start counting down to a Family History Expo. This one is taking place in Mesa, Arizona. It's the third time they have held one there and I'm proud to have been asked to present at all three. I am looking forward to being involved again, not only because it is an honor, but because it is my husband's home state. He was raised in Tempe, a descendant of some of the first settlers of the region. Every time we go back, he tells me where the city "used to" end and what had been in place of the freeways and sky-scrapers when he was growing up! I've heard it all so many times that I think I can run a tour now. Speaking of that, I thought I would let you know what other sights await if you plan to attend the Expo.

I don't know how many times I visited the Phoenix area before we finally took a trip to the zoo. What a great place! This is especially nice if you are a genealogist with family members who don't care to spend their day learning how to dig up the dead. They can leave you at the convention center and head over to the Phoenix Zoo, one of the 5 most kid-friendly zoos in the country. Take the Safari Train around the grounds to get the lay of the land, then exit wherever you want to focus some time (this zoo is too large to properly visit in just one day).

A few years ago we had a family reunion in Papago Park. What a great place! Providing the weather is being nicer than it was last year, this is a wonderful location for a picnic, hike, and visit to the botanical garden. Read some park reviews here.

Every year we attend a folk festival in March, held at Sahuaro Ranch Park Historic Area in Glendale (just outside Phoenix). The grounds are amazing - sort of a pioneer town with all sorts of exhibits and historical information. This is a kid-friendly place that is bound to be interesting (with all sorts of birds wandering around the orange groves that surround the property). Visiting is free. Check here for information and exact location.

If you are into shopping, Scottsdale is a wonderful place to just wander and browse (but watch your pocket-book, some prices are steep). There are some art galleries there that have some incredible pieces, especially featuring Southwestern art. Frank Lloyd Wright wintered in Scottsdale, so you can bet there is some of his work to view. Check this site for more information.

What if the weather is "normal" for January (rainy, cool, blah). No problem, there are other options. Since you are at the base of the Superstition Mountains, why not learn about the history of that area. It is not recommended that you take off for a hike in those mountains, unless you are an experienced hiker, but the next best thing is the Superstition Mountain and Lost Dutchman Mine Museum. Learn about the early legends of the area for a very minimal charge and no danger of falling or getting lost.

More Arizona Museum links can be found here: youth-oriented exhibits, natural history displays, modern marvels museums, etc. Even if the weather is a bummer, your visit to the Phoenix area need not be.

Hungry? Well, that happens. This is a college town, you know, so there are plenty of fast food joints, bistros, health food eateries, and specialty cuisine restaurants. Over the years we have found ourselves drawn to some of the same locations repeatedly. My husband's favorite (and it was his favorite when he was a child growing up), is Bill Johnson's Big Apple (if you see us at the Expo, be sure to ask him the stories behind it). There are now 5 locations in the Phoenix area so there's bound to be one near where you are staying! We also have come to enjoy Monti's La Casa Vieja Steakhouse in Tempe - the food is not cheap, but they give you a ton of it. Plus, you can split a meal and, if you pay $5 extra, they'll provide you with a second soup/salad, side dish, and bread serving for the second person - that is a good idea that I wish more restaurants would adopt!

So join us at the Arizona Family History Expo - click on the image below - and find out about "Old Dogs Learning New Tricks"!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday - 7 December 2010 - Cleveland H. Sherman

Cleveland H. SHERMAN, born: 11 July 1884, died: December 1974
Buried: Spokane, Spokane, Washington

He was married to my 1st cousin, twice removed (Florence Luella TRAPSCHUH, daughter of my great-granduncle).

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Sunday Singalong with Circlemending - Songs of the Season - Snow

OK, I am reading Facebook posts by friends all over who are dealing with snow (some say they are enjoying it). I moved to So. Cal. to escape the snow of the Midwest, but I still appreciate snow - in photos. And in songs of this winter season. Many of our most well-known Christmas songs don't mention Christmas or even Santa, but they focus on the weather - the snow and/or cold.

One of my absolute favorites is called "Dark December" (click the title to access the full song lyrics) by Graeme Miles and some of the lines dealing specifically with the weather are:

Should we curse the winter, for being e're so dark?
When the sun is late in rising, but early to depart.
When the bitter northern winter winds freeze our very hearts.

cho) Oh, should we curse the winter? (3X)
And December most of all.

It's an old and obscure song with a haunting melody (I have recorded it, as have a handful of others). Just singing it makes me feel cold!

Any songs about the weather of the season? Share them here (some lyrics, link to lyrics, link to an MP3 or YouTube video, or just the title).

Your turn.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Sunday Singalong with Circlemending - Thanksgiving, Part 2

Last week I suggested songs that expressed gratitude in the lyrics. This week, let's consider songs about things for which you are thankful. There are many things in our lives for which we are grateful (I've been reading about such things on Facebook throughout this month and have been moved by many of the things that evoke feelings of gratitude in people).

I can think of a multitude of songs that deal with elements (ethereal and concrete) for which I am thankful. But probably the things that is a blessing constantly are the freedom and liberty we enjoy in America. It hasn't always been that way in our country and still is not in other countries. But even today we hear about people who have been brought to America as slaves - human trafficking. It seems inconceivable that such behaviors are back on these shores. It reminds me of a song from the Civil Rights movement but dating back to pre-Civil War days of slavery. I used this song as an example back in July, but will suggest a different YouTube version this time:

Alfred Street Baptist Church, Male Chorus, singing "Oh, Freedom."

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday - 23 November 2010 - Bayhnum Brooks Wilcox

Bayhnum Brooks Wilcox, wife of my granduncle, Roy Edward Wilcox. Buried in Oakland Cemetery, Dallas, Texas.
Bayhnum was born 9 June 1886 and died 21 November 1978 (32 years ago Sunday). I never met her or her husband, though my grandfather idolized his older brother and was heartsick when he died (in 1965). They had no children. My father was named for Roy, who is buried next to his wife.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Sunday Singalong with Circlemending - Thanksgiving, Part 1

We are entering Thanksgiving week so I want to use that as the theme inspiration for this week and next. To start with, how about a song that expresses gratitude?

In 1968, I wrote a song for my friend, Pernell Roberts, which I was honored to sing for him twice in his life (once in 1969 and again in 2008). It expresses what his influence in my life did for me. I did record this on a CD a number of years ago (it is no longer available) and am planning to record it again in the coming year. Meanwhile, here are the words:


For you, for always being there; for you, because you always care;

For you, you always understand; you are, to me, a special man;

chorus) Thank you for just being you; no one else could ever do,
What you've done for me; can't you see? Because of you, I'm a better me.

When I'm alone I see your smiles, I hear your voice across the miles;
I haven't seen you for a long, long time, but the mem'ry keeps me feelin' fine (chorus)

For you, every night I pray; I think about you ev'ry day;
You are to me a special friend; I know some day I will see you again (chorus)

copyright 1968, Jean M. Wilcox

Your turn. Share a song; lyrics (some or all, as applicable); a link to an MP3 file or YouTube video or the printed words. Let start the Thanksgiving week with a musical reminder!
(Next week: songs about things for which you are thankful.)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sunday Singalong with Circlemending - Songs to make us feel better

This week has been one of organizing and cleaning for us. Putting things in order can be a somewhat therapeutic activity for me. And while I was doing much of the work, I was playing music (not personally, I mean on the player). It occurred to me that perhaps I didn't needed to clean up to make me feel better . . . all I needed was to play some music. Of course, my office would still be a mess!

So, what songs make you feel better? There are so many songs that fit that description for me, but I can only choose one, so I'll select "Golden Slippers." I love the topic, but also the upbeat manner in which most people perform it. I found this version on YouTube that reflects these elements.

Is there a song or a tune that makes you feel better? Share some lyrics, a link to a YouTube or MP3, or just tell us the title - what song will help bring you up when you are feeling down? Or just keep a good mood going?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Treasure Chest Thursday - Veteran's Day Thanks and Remembrances

My great-grandfather's GAR medal. He served in the Civil War from 1862-1865.

Thanks to all who served and are serving.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Sunday Singalong with Circlemending - The 5 Senses - Taste/Smell

For this week's singalong, I thought I'd put two senses together: taste and smell (they often occur together, anyway). The sense of smell is the one most connected to our memory, so songs about smell are likely to have to do with remembering something.

At this time of year, when smells and tastes are so connected to the holidays, I thought it might be fun to see if folks would like to stretch their minds to see if they can identify songs dealing with these 2 senses. It took me a while, so I won't be surprised if the offerings here are limited.

Our friend Mark Witman, wrote a song - "Seven Thousand Feet" - dealing with the seasonal memories, including these lines:

"But here inside the house the smell of cinnamon and clove
Drifts from the apple cider out there steaming on the stove.
And the ponderosa kindling is just a-nibbling at the oak,
Flavoring the valley with the smoke." (c) 1991, Mark C. Witman

The imagery is perfect for a cold winter day.

So, as you start planning the smells and flavors for your holiday meals, see if you can remember a song that talks of such things. Then share it here (the lyrics or all or part of the song, a link to them or to an MP3 or YouTube video).

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Response to Poetry/Song Challenge of Bill West

My blogger friend Bill West, whose music and family stories tastes seem to run right along with mine, has challenged his readers to find poetry or song lyrics that are ancestrally related. Here are his rules and my responses to them:

1. Find a poem by a local poet, famous or obscure, from the region one of your ancestors lived in. It can be about an historical event, a legend, a person, or even about some place (like a river)or a local animal.Or if you prefer, post the lyrics of a song or a link to a video of someone performing the song.

I love the option of "obscure," because that is exactly what this poet was. She was my grandmother and, even during the time I knew her (my early childhood) I think "obscure" would have been the perfect label. Her poetry usually was religious, but she often wrote poems to honor a friend, family member, or well known person. However, she had a humorous side to her and that would come out in odd ways in her poetry. Because this challenge is asking that the poem be about an event, person, or place, etc., I think that this particular piece (though not stated as being autobiographical, obviously was) fits perfectly.

2. Post the poem or song to your blog (remembering to cite the source where you found it.)

The poet, about four years before she penned this piece

Among my grandmother's effects were all of her writings. I took on the chore of transcribing all of her English works (I have yet to tackle the many written in German). So the citation is as follows:

Author: Pauline Elizabeth Miller
Title: "Going Home at Night"
Date: November 13, 1899
Location: Chicago, Cook, Illinois
Source: Papers of Pauline Elizabeth Miller Wilcox in possession of Jean Wilcox Hibben, Riverside County, California

Oh, how many aching feet
Can be found at night,
When the street car is so full
And we're packed so tight.

Don't you talk about a seat,
Such a thing is rare,
As there's hardly standing-room
For the people there.

Some of them have stood all day,
And their feet do ache,
But to stand and hold a strap
That just takes the cake.

And the straps are up so high
That it is no snap
For a girl who's naturally short
To hang on a strap.

But the worst of all is this:
If some heavy form
Comes along and plants his foot
Right upon your corn.

Oh, what dreadful agony
We do have to bear.
But we're just compelled to pay
The same five cent fare.

3.Tell us how the subject of the poem or song relates to your ancestor's home or life.

Pauline Elizabeth Miller met my grandfather about ten years after writing this poem. Prior to their meeting at the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, Illinois, my grandmother lived in Chicago and had to take the street car to get to work (she was a stenographer). Her reliance on public transportation obviously was not always enjoyed, but her sense of humor, plus the need for her income to augment what little the family had, surely saw her through the worst of it.

During her adult, single life, she cared for her mother and helped to put her younger brother through school. She was a devout Baptist, besides attending Moody, in later years she worked for Paul Rader at the famous Chicago Tabernacle, doing secretarial work for him, still commuting by street car and, later, buses.

Pauline Miller Wilcox, in the early 1900s, Chicago, Illinois

Pauline was a short woman who had suffered from whooping cough as a young child. For some reason, her doctor had her wear a body cast and then the physician just disappeared (he may have died; no one is certain), leaving her body in the cast for many months, causing an unusual spine curvature which resulted in her small stature that probably would not have been her lot had the cast been removed in a timely matter.

Pauline (on the left) with her older sister Ottillie (they were only two years
apart in age and Pauline was about four in this photo, being after she
was out of the cast, but the damage was done).
Photo ca. 1883, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Throughout her unmarried adult life, Pauline wore shoes that were fashionable, in spite of the pain they caused her feet. As a result, she was plagued with foot problems so severe that, in later life, the podiatrist would make house calls. She always told me to "wear shoes for comfort, not fashion," and I have followed her advice throughout my life. These various details of her life are all expressed in this poem, making me believe that it is autobiographical.

Lee Alfred Wilcox, my grandfather, and Pauline, 1955, Wilmette, Cook, Illinois
(notice Pauline's stature)

4.Submit your post's link here to me by November 18th and I'll publish all the entries on Thanksgiving Day, November 25th!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Sunday Singalong with Circlemending - The Senses - Touch

After a week + with a cold and bronchitis, I finally am back among the living. Just in time for the Sunday Singalong. Continuing on the subject of the senses, it occurs to me that there are a large number of songs dealing with touch. Whether it is a loving touch, a hug, or touching something, rather than someone, we are constantly using our sense of touch. And singing about it.

I have loved the old song "Bold Soldier" that can be found in some obscure music books (it's in an ancient Burl Ives pocket-book of songs that I have had since I was a young teen). The phrase, implying touch, "Hold your hand," is repeated a couple of times. It actually means to stop a moment, but sounds as if one is being physically held back. Of course, the song also involves a physical altercation - another type of touch. The Burl Ives version of the lyrics can be found here. But my preferred version is sung by Pernell Roberts and a YouTube of his photos, with "Bold Soldier" playing in the background, has been posted on the Internet.

Your song need not include all the lyrics - just the one about touch. Or make it a link to an MP3 file or YouTube video. Or just a title. Do tell why the song is one that you like. Remember, my grandkids have access to this blog, so keep it clean, folks!

Your turn.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Sunday Singalong with Circlemending - The 5 Senses - Hearing

Last week we looked at songs that used references to sight or eyes (tackling the 5 senses over the next few weeks). How about hearing? I can think of a lot of songs that emphasize sounds - what about you? They don't have to be songs that our ancestors sang, but that's always a nice idea, reminding us that many of our songs have been part of our families' lives for many, many years.

A number of years ago Phil Ochs took the poem "Bells" by Edgar Allen Poe and put it to music. You can hear his singing of it on YouTube (though it is taken from the recording, not video of a live performance).

How about you . . . can you think of a song that emphasizes sound? I know there are a lot of Christmas songs that include that theme (just to give you a hint). Post the lyrics, just a verse and/or chorus, the title, or a link to lyrics or a performance of the song in MP3 form or on YouTube.

Have fun with this!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Treasure Chest Thursday - Dominoes

We still use this set of dominoes . . . but have transferred them to another container to preserve the box. I love the graphics from this set, which has been in the family for close to 100 years!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Sunday Singalong with Circlemending - The 5 Senses - Sight

Well, I got another idea for a theme from listening to The Village on XM Radio on Friday: Songs about the Five Senses (to go on for the next few weeks). We will start this week with the sense of sight (references to seeing things, watching, or eyes). The older the song, the better (considering what our ancestors sang), but more contemporary pieces will work as well.

Share some of the lyrics, a link to the lyrics, just the title, or a link to an MP3 or YouTube.

My offering is found on the Traditional & Folk Songs site (with a MIDI file): "Copper Kettle" by Frank Beddoe. The chorus includes the phrase "Watch them jugs a-fillin', in the pale moonlight." I have fond memories of singing this song with friends and, while I am a definite non-drinker, I find the lyrics and melody to be soothing. Some of the history of the song and its meanings, along with links to recordings of it, can be found on Wikipedia.

Your turn.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Ancestral folklore challenge - are you game?

What a great idea: locate poetry or music - the literature of our ancestors - that was from the geographic area of the forebear of your choice. Where is this contest to be found? On the blog of Bill West. I'm in for it (now to select the ancestor and the geographic location). We have until mid-November to find the entry, but let's not procrastinate. I can't wait to see what people come up with.

Let the hunt begin!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Treasure Chest Thursday - Card Carried by Charles Lindbergh

"Miss M. Hollander" was my grand-aunt, Mary (Maria) Eva (AKA Mamie) Hollander.
What the circumstances were behind the acquisition of this card, I have no idea. It was among the Hollander estate items that ended up filtering down to me.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Treasure Chest Thursday - Froggy the Gremlin

Do you remember Froggy Gremlin, and the opening phrase "Plunk your magic twanger, Froggy!"? My husband and I have argued about whether it is Froggy Gremlin or Froggy THE Gremlin, but, according to what I'm finding on the Internet, my husband is correct with his addition of the article and THE wins out (I hate when that happens).

When we were kids, my brother and I obtained this rubber Froggy toy (located at a rummage sale, where the large abundance of our toys originated). Problem: my mother bought it and gave it to her 2 children, 6 years apart in age (Bob is the older). When we were children living in the same household, this was not a problem, but when we grew up we needed to determine ownership (of this as well as a large number of books, records, and toys). The books were fairly easily "divvied up"; ownership of most of the stuffed animals was also fairly easy to assess (one or the other of us was usually given the animal originally and though we had "traded" stuffed animals throughout our childhood, we decided that original ownership would be the determining factor); most of the records had been purchased for my brother, so he got those, with the understanding that all would be recorded and we would each have recordings of everything; but Froggy was a problem. He had literally been given to both of us. So we decided he would make the journey between Illinois and California on an annual basis, taking the trip each Christmas. We'd each have custody for a year, then he'd get to move to the other household.

In about 1978, my brother sent Froggy to me with a note that he could no longer handle the travel stress and that he was to stay with me. By this time, his rubber body was feeling the wear and tear and was rotting in places, most notably, his left foot. So I got him a little protective "display case" and there he stays, enjoying a spot of honor in our "frog room."

An interesting addition to this story: in 1979, my brother came to California and visited me. We went to a swap meet and there we found, low and behold, a king-sized Froggy Gremlin (at least twice the size of the little rubber guy I had). My husband (who loves to barter) bargained the seller down to $25 to get the toy for my brother. Now we each have a Froggy and many great memories of the TV show and how we used to watch it together.

Were you a member of the Buster Brown Gang (radio & TV) or Andy's Gang (TV)? Well, then, "Hiya, kids; Hiya, Hiya!"

(Note: all links provided above are to different bits and pieces of Froggy the Gremlin history, for those desiring to wallow in nostalgia.)

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Sunday Singalong with Circlemending - Place Songs

Another week has sped by! I was pleased to be a featured speaker at the Chula Vista Family History Seminar yesterday, Oct. 2 (see Randy Seaver's blog for a full report on the lectures presented - mine and others).

On the way home from the seminar I listened to The Village (on XM radio) and a themed program of songs about places. I thought that would be a great idea for a theme for my own Sunday Singalong, so I am suggesting that you consider the many songs of geographic locations that you have learned over the years. Songs about places are not new - our ancestors wrote about the places they loved just as many do today (consider "Home on the Range"). The subject can be about a town, a state, or a general area (including a country or continent).

Most of us have a soft spot in our heart for a location that means "home" to us. I am from Wilmette, Illinois and was raised there from the ages of 1 to 20. No matter where I go, when I think of "home," I think back to those tree-lines streets (which were brick, back when I was growing up). But your selection need not be about your hometown (to the best of my knowledge, "Wilmette" figures into only one song - a piece by Chicago musician Steve Goodman, author of "City of New Orleans," who snuck it into the chorus of a song called "Lincoln Park Pirates" - well, there are 2 place names, though the former refers to a train, not the city).

Is there a song about a place that sticks in your mind? If so, share the lyrics here, or maybe just a verse and chorus, or just the title; or you can provide a link to an MP3, on-line set of lyrics, or a YouTube recording. But do tell why the song is special to you.

So here's one of my absolute favorites, which covers them all. It's by Lou & Peter Berryman who are known for their humorous songs that touch on subjects that most of us are familiar with but that we would never expect to find put to music. It is called "Your State's Name Here." I have been unable to locate a YouTube recording of it, but if you click on their website link here or Google them, you can find a number of other YouTube recordings they have done. Sure to make you smile, and that's one reason I love their material!

Your turn.

Friday, October 1, 2010

California Family History Expo Countdown - 1 week and counting

This is it . . . the last week before we gather in Pleasanton at the Alameda County Fairgrounds to network, learn, share, and have a fabulous time addressing the topic of Family History. An entire two days of this . . . what more could we ask?

In the last couple of weeks, I have discussed the topics of things to see between So. Calif. and the Expo, what is free for those not interested in attending classes, what I will be doing there, and what topics will be good choices for beginners. Today I want to share some of the things that will be included in the exhibit hall. To read everything, check out the link on the image below, but to get my recommendations of exhibits to visit, scroll down further here . . .

FamilySearch: Need I say more? But there is so much . . . there are so many changes happening and about to happen at FamilySearch that this booth is a must if you want to understand all that is going on. Of course, they will also be sponsoring lectures on their resources, always available for free to the public. And there are always FREEBIES at the booth, so you must stop by this one!

Ancestry.com: Another booth and company that has a reputation that should not require additional explanation. Its recent acquisition of Footnote.com will surely be explained, especially for those of us with subscriptions to both. And did you know that Ancestry has a website with more to search than just census records? I just found an ancestor's passport application on Ancestry. How can anyone get very far in their research without Ancestry? And, of course, their representatives will also be giving presentations to help you navigate their website. (They also usually have some fun FREEBIES at their booth, so check that out, too.)

RootsMagic: This is my personal favorite software when it comes to organizing my ancestors in an easy-to-use method. Bruce Buzbee provides personal attention to RM users. He will walk you through one-on-one or instruct you in the lectures he will present . . . either way, there is no excuse for not becoming a self-sufficient RM user in short order. (Check out his FREEBIES, too . . . there's usually something fun that he passes along.)

While those are my favorite ones, there are so many others that will help you manage your family trees, network with other researchers, and add to your genealogy education that I cannot possibly list them all here. I will be spending some time in the Exhibit Hall, helping at the Southern California Genealogical Society booth and doing music (during lunch) in the concession area. Also, my CDs will be available for purchase at the Family History Expo booth, so be sure to check them out too (they have some marvelous t-shirts, genealogy-oriented stamps, and other fun goodies to tell people "I am a genealogist").

And don't forget to check on the door prizes that are always part of the Expos . . . watch for your name to be drawn!

Lots to see, lots to learn, lots to buy . . . see you in Pleasanton where my next blog in this series should originate!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday - 28 September 2010 - Rosannah Stuyvesant Wilcox

Rosanna M. Stuyvesant Wilcox, b: 11 November 1832, Watertown, Jefferson, New York; d: 30 September 1894 (116 years ago this week), Decatur, Van Buren, Michigan. Buried: Prospect Hill Cemetery, Paw Paw, Van Buren, Michigan.

Married to my great-great-grandfather's brother, Calvin Wilcox, on 26 October 1851, Watertown, Jefferson, New York.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Sunday Singalong with Circlemending - waterways

It is time to share a song. I am listening to some sea chanteys while I write this so my mind immediately goes to that as a theme. Sometimes sea or waterway songs can give a person a sense of peace; sometimes the story is one of stormy seas and peace is hardly an aspect.

I have a fondness for Bill Staines's song "River" - it makes me want to find the closest river and just sit on the bank with my feet in the cool water, feeling the smooth rocks, and watch the sun go down. Do you know it? It's on YouTube (of course): Aileen & Elkin Thomas (one of my favorite musical couples) performed it with him at the 1987 Philadelphia Folk Festival (how I would have loved to have been there).

Or just read the lyrics.

Do you have a favorite waterway song? Share the title, some lyrics, or link to an MP3 or YouTube performance. Don't forget to tell us why it is a special song to you.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Music: the passion that holds our family together

I enjoy reading Orson Scott Card's weekly column in Mormon Times. Some people will be familiar with Mr. Card's writings in the field of Science Fiction and his award-winning Ender's Game, a great series, particularly designed for youth. I am not a big Science Fiction fan, but Mr. Card's work is not limited to that genre and his inspiring column often gets me thinking. Such it was this past week.

The column of which I speak is titled "Who are we as a family?" (Sept. 11, 2010). In it he addresses the issue of how families distinguish themselves from one another through various characteristics unique to them. He mentions his own family's love of the theater and involvement on both sides of the stage; all the children are active in some aspect of the field of drama. Mr. Card mentions another family he knows that has the same preoccupation with sports, and yet another whose members are all involved with video gaming.

I can think of families whose uniqueness is defined by their love of travel, boating, fishing, mountain climbing, etc. But it didn't take me even a half second to identify what our family's passion is: music (you thought something else?). But instead of looking at who is under our roof right now (that would be two adults and two dogs), I can look at each of our "kids" (all adults now, of course) and most of their children as well.

Our oldest daughter, Patty, and her daughter Miracle are heavily involved in a local choral group where they have weekly rehearsals and frequent performances. It binds them together as mother and daughter while challenging them in their singing. Miracle also plays the flute, has played the piano, and just announced that she also wants to learn guitar (Grandma is so very proud!!). But Miracle's younger sisters are also musical and when the three girls sing together it surely must make the angels stop to take notice. One of the girls plays piano and the other is about to begin learning violin. Patty herself has been involved in music probably since she began to talk. She instilled that love of music into her children (she also has six children from her first marriage plus two step-children). All of those kids were involved in singing at church, but two of them - Emily and Amy - attended a performance-based high school so singing, instrument-playing, and drama were a major part of their adolescence. The oldest of the Patty's offspring, Kirbi, was accomplished on the violin and then graduated to the viola when she was growing up. After leaving her school years behind, she continues in her musical interests, often being asked to sing in church. It is no surprise that she met her husband on a stage and his profession - a professor of music and drama - brings music into the household virtually daily (we visited them in August and were treated to Joe's wonderful piano playing, but missed hearing a song from Kirbi). When the two perform together you know that they are bound by a deep love of music. What a blessing. Patty's other children also enjoy music, but have not pursued it to quite that same degree - they have other, just as valid, passions.

Our son Quentin learned to play guitar when he was young, but he discontinued that when he went into the Navy. But he never quit his love for music - it has only grown and changed. His music tastes touch on everything from hard rock (or whatever it is called now) to classical. But, when he met his lovely wife Mary Jane, he was introduced to Country music (about which, in the past, he had been less than complimentary). Now it is just as likely that a C/W song will be playing in his home as a classical piece. (Well, with two young boys, it's most likely that the songs on the stereo will be from Sesame Street! And Quentin, who has an amazing voice, will probably be singing right along!) Quentin's older children, now adults, also are music lovers. Jenifer played oboe when she was growing up and became quite proficient at it.

Sandi, our daughter in Georgia, brought lovely music into our home when she took up residence with us when she was in high school and continues to do so in her home near Atlanta. She married a music lover, too, who enjoys playing guitar and banjo, accompanying Sandi and their children for some family music time. Sandi's children all sing (a year ago when they were here for Christmas they made a family holiday CD - the "children" - two will be graduating college this next year - have grown up harmonizing together). Three of Sandi's children have been in competitive choirs and her daughter Kati has been involved in an a cappella choir in college. They are all natural performers. I cannot imagine what there house would be like if music was banned from the earth.

Our youngest son, Max, has taken his love of music into a completely different direction. As a child he sang in the school choirs and often was featured as a soloist. But as an adult he let his interests take him into the world of providing music for others as a DJ. He is getting known in Austin, where he lives, and is frequently booked to do weddings and private parties. He is as comfortable with music from the 1980s as he is with that from today or his father's childhood. His is another home where music is often heard. His young step-son, Zack (age 5), is already showing a musical talent and enjoys singing and dancing.

So it appears that I am correct in saying that the passion that binds our family members together is music. But it can also be traced back to those whose legacy we carry on. My husband, Butch, has nurtured his enjoyment of music, having been taught to appreciate it at the knee of his grandmother. How far back in his line the music gene goes, I am not sure. Of course, my kids are all my step-kids, but how much is nature and how much is nurture? My music roots extend into both branches of my family. My mother's maternal grandmother had been raised in a household where musical performances were frequently part of the evening's events and the family had a conservatory in the house (in Bohemia) where entertainment was commonplace. My father's maternal grandfather was a musician and he passed that talent on to my father, who was truly a genius on the piano and organ (and any other instrument he elected to pick up). He had perfect pitch and was very particular about the sound that was emitted by whatever was being played. It made performing in his presence somewhat intimidating, but, looking back, that was not necessarily a bad thing. Unfortunately, my mother was tone deaf, though she loved music and even tried to sing along (until my dad would ask her to stop). Nevertheless, our family get-togethers almost always included some music time (and, yes, much of it was recorded).

Now in our home, with two adults and two dogs, music is just a natural part of most events. Whenever we have a gathering, music is generally at the center. I like it that way, though some may see it as strange. When we celebrated our 30th anniversary, Patty and her family were here, along with about 25 or 30 of our closest friends, and after about two or three hours of music (we sat in a group on the porch taking turns singing and playing folk music), my granddaughter Mikayla crawled into her dad's lap, sitting next to me, and said that she finally figured it out: "This is a music party!" (I think she was waiting for some other part of the party to start!) I told her it was the only party we knew how to have and she nodded and agreed that she liked it.

Thank you, Orson Scott Card, for reminding me of the passion that has been in my family long before I came along and that I have taken the responsibility of passing on to the next generation and the one after that. Is there a passion that has bound your family together from one generation to the next and the next?

Friday, September 24, 2010

California Family History Expo Countdown - 2 weeks and counting

I cannot believe that there are only 2 weeks left before we have our genealogy reunion in Pleasanton, CA. That's one of the things I like the most: getting together with friends and cousins to network, reminisce, learn, and create new memories. I truly love this group of folks and am honored to be in their midst.

But what if you are new to genealogy? Will you feel out of place? Will there be anything for you? I know that sometimes there is an assumption that everyone knows the basics and some of the speakers can approach topics as if everyone knows that an "M" on a census record may stand for "Male," "Married," or "Mulatto," depending on which column it is in. Sometimes, as speakers, we forget to be clear. Please, if that happens and you are confused, ask for clarification (ideally, wait until the end of the presentation, but if it's something that will make the presentation meaningless until it's clarified, speak up, especially if the presentation is advertised as being for "beginners").

That said, let me make some suggestions for beginning researchers to "fill your bill" of genealogy presentations:

Friday, 10 am - "Genealogy for the First Time" - Laura Best

Friday, 11:30 am - "Google Search" - Lisa Louise Cooke

Friday, 1:30 pm - "Best Strategies for Searching Ancestry.com" - Ancestry.com Staff

Friday, 3:00 pm - "FamilySearch 2010 and Beyond" - Gordon J. Clarke

Friday, 4:30 pm - "What Can I Learn from the United States Census?" - Debbe Hagner, AG

Saturday, 8:00 am - "Clue to Clue: Tracking a Family across Time and Miles" - Jean Hibben, CG

Saturday, 9:30 am - "How to Use Your Family Tree to Improve Your Health" - Jordanna Joaquina

Saturday, 11:00 am - "Facebook for Genealogists" - Thomas MacEntee

Saturday, 1:00 pm - "Using Timelines and Historic Maps in Genealogy Research" - Laura Best

Saturday, 2:30 pm - "How to Find Your Ancestors on Ship Passenger Lists" - Debbe Hagner, AG

Saturday, 4:00 pm - "Kiss Those Brick Walls Goodbye! Research Success Stories" - Holly Hansen

Please note: these are general ideas for beginners. If you are particularly interested in working with FamilySearch, then I would recommend you attend more of their programs; if you are working on finding an ancestor from a particular culture (Irish, Scottish, German, etc.), check out the offerings for those beginning ethnic research endeavors. Click on the image above to access the full schedule of the event to select what is perfect for you.

Next week I'll talk a little more about the blogging that will be part of the expo.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Treasure Chest Thursday - Iron dogs

Do you have one of these doorstops? I know that no self-respecting door would ever dare to close with one of these standing in the way. How did I end up with two? Well, they may have been separated at birth, but they were reunited out here in California about 15 years ago.

The first one (the one closest to the camera) is the one I grew up with - he stood in the cottage where my mother's family stayed in the summer. It was on the shore of Beaver Lake and I have fond memories of "playing" with this pup (good thing the floor was very solid). He used to have a leather collar but soon after I inherited him, it just rotted off (maybe it couldn't handle the change of climate from the humid midwest to the arid state of California).

Soon after moving to California I found myself spending most holidays with my first cousin, once removed (my dad's cousin) and her family in Riverside. There, at her fireplace hearth, stood an iron dog. I remarked about how similar it was to the one I had inherited from my mother's side of the family and when my cousin moved to Oklahoma, she called me aside and gave me the dog.

So now I have 2 iron dogs (neither one is relegated to door stop duty - they both stand guard on my hearth), one from each side of the family. Two more things to dust. Two more things to remind me of loved ones who have gone on to the next life. Two cherished pups.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Wordless Wednesday - 22 September 2010, Knoetgen/Strasser family

Strasser Brothers



Photos taken in early 1900s or late 1890s, Teplitz, Bohemia.
My first cousins, 3 times removed, related through the Knoetgen family of Teplitz and Bilin, Bohemia.

Their mother:
Fani Knoetgen Strasser, my great-great-grandaunt, died between 1896 and 1899 in Teplitz.

Would love to find living relatives.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Sunday Singalong with Circlemending - weather

The seasons are changing. Or so they tell me (living in Southern Calif., the seasonal differences are not as pronounced as in the area where I grew up in Illinois). Nonetheless, we know that we are moving into fall just because our temps have dipped below 100 degrees!

Do you know a song that speaks of weather (changing seasons, specific weather conditions, a discussion of all types of climatic situations, etc.)? Share the lyrics or maybe just a verse and chorus; or provide a link to the lyrics on line (or maybe an MP3 or YouTube video). But don't forget to share why the song is significant to you (or why you zeroed in on that particular one).

My offering:

While I enjoy fall, I hate to say goodbye to summer. I love how summer days go into the evening (I hate to say goodbye to Daylight Savings Time). It reminds me of the blues song "Summertime." My husband loves to play saw to that song and it lends itself to that instrument. George Gershwin's lyrics can be found at this site, where you can make it a ring for your cell phone. Or check out Ella Fitzgerald's version on YouTube.

When I Googled the song, I was amazed how many different people have recorded this song - and in so many styles! I guess the feeling is essentially universal - "Summertime, and the living is easy." Ah, summer, I shall miss you.

Your turn.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

"America's Heart and Soul" - Disney movie

When you think of the "heart and soul" of America, what comes to mind? Some will mention jobs, others will bring up values, family, religion, freedom, etc. I think that some people will consider the vast differences in geography as one travels from one end of the country to the other. In fact, when we made our most recent trek across country, I paid special attention to the changes in weather and terrain as we went from west to east and back again. We could start a day in the desert and end in the plains of Texas; we went from mountains to flatlands in the space of a few hours. There was a lot of constant in the temperature (most days were over 100 degrees), but the change in humidity was dramatic from the beginning days of the trip to those in the middle.

However, how many of us think of the different types of music that are prevalent in the different geographic areas? Last week I saw an amazing movie (sort of by accident - just channel surfed and there it was): "America's Heart and Soul" (released in 2004). If you require your movies to have a clear plot and segues, this one won't be your cup of tea, but if you are interested in variety, types of people, a look into lifestyles, and (here is where I was hooked) a glimpse at different musical styles, this is just the film that you should see. No, it's not for everyone: there is no sex or violence or offensive language (can we really see an entire movie without any of that? What a shock!). For those of us who want to get a break from all that "normal stuff" we are bombarded with every day, then check this one out. This video can be purchased from Amazon.com (there's even a classroom version).

Why I liked it: the music. From New Orleans jazz to family and friends gathering after a hard day's work to swap fiddle tunes. The message that I took from it is that music is part of a normal life; it may not be the main focus of people's lives, but it has a role in making the hard stuff easier to take and the good times that much more enjoyable. And people don't have to play the instruments to enjoy them. So it continues to promote what I've been saying all along: music and families (those alive as well as those who have gone on before) are connected.

A less than complimentary, but very comprehensive review, can be read here.

Friday, September 17, 2010

California Family History Expo Countdown - 3 weeks and counting

I think it's time to promote what I will be doing at the Family History Expo in Pleasanton in 3 weeks (Oct. 8-9). I will be teaching 3 classes, 2 on Friday and 1 on Saturday:

# 3 - 10am Friday - County Websites: An Overlooked Resource

Here we will examine some of the information available on the websites set up for genealogical research within the different County sites as well as how to determine what county a city is in (and was in) and how to find the sites themselves.

#33 - 4:30pm Friday - Shaking the Myth: Proving/Disproving Family Stories

Here we will discuss a method by which anyone can get an upper hand on determining the truth or falsehood of a family legend. It's both fun and educational.

#38 - 8:00am Saturday - Clue to Clue: Tracking a Family Across Time and Miles

This is one of my most popular programs; it is a case study of a family with descriptions of the methods I used to find them as they went from state to state over a period of about 50 years. There's a lot of humor in this one.

Plus, Butch and I will be doing period music (and maybe a few original pieces) during the lunch hour in the exhibit hall. Our CDs will be available for purchase from the Family History Expos Booth (#67-69). So come to the event, say "hi," and have a great time! (Click the logo below to get to the event website.)

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Treasure Chest Thursday - Lotto game and story playing cards

The Lotto game from my family's game collection. One person pulls the numbers and people put the little glass squares over the numbers that match. What makes this game particularly interesting are the playing cards (there are enough for at least 12 players). Question: Can you figure out what story is being told on each card? (Note: the stories are irrelevant to the game itself, but the graphics are great & the tales are timeless, thanks to the Brothers Grimm.)

1 -
2 -
3 -

4 -
5 -
6 -

Good luck!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Sunday Singalong with Circlemending - Home Sweet Home

There's no place like home, right? On this 9th anniversary of the attacks on our "home" (9/11/01), we may feel even more connected to whatever represents home and security to us.

Having recently returned from a cross country trip, I recognize the comfort of having "home" to return to. Meanwhile, some of those reading this may have lost their homes - storms in the Central US, fires in the Rockies, and other disasters can take away that home and place of sanctuary in the blink of an eye. My heart goes out to them.

While we were traveling with our "home on wheels," we experienced a bit of homelessness when our vehicle broke down. This meant that our mobile comforts were temporarily lodged at a Chevrolet dealer in Nashville, while we had to find other accommodations. How wonderful that our dear friend Betty Joe Gentry opened her home to us to give us sanctuary until we could get our own "digs" back. The warmth of her bungalow in Tennessee was a perfect example of Southern Hospitality. We felt that comfort even while we were in our own distress, with various issues confronting us; home, no matter whose it is, can be balm to soothe the stressed soul.

Maybe when you hear the word "home" you think of the place where you grew up; perhaps you focus on the building or the group of family that makes up your current homeplace; or possibly you think in a broader sense: the city, state, or country that you call "home" or your ancestors considered their "home." Whatever the word "home" means to you, here is a chance for you to share a song that represents that concept.

The "rules": write a comment/post that includes a verse and/or chorus of the song, the entire lyrics, or just the title; or give us a link to an MP3, YouTube video, or lyrics of the song. But also state why the song is your choice for this week's Sunday Singalong.

My offering: "Who Will Watch the Home Place" by Kate Long. Many attribute the haunting lyrics to Laurie Lewis, whose recording is the best known, but Kate wrote these words that express the emptiness that is prompted when one has to sell the family home. There was a time when I was unable to sing it, having just cleaned out and sold the house I grew up in in Wilmette, Illinois;

but I have been able to reach beyond the emotional reaction and now enjoy sharing this song at various gatherings. It seems that, as we get older, the inevitability of having to experience this heartbreaking activity becomes more and more likely and many who listen to the lyrics nod and even shed some tears as they think of what is to come, or remember what they have, or a loved one has, gone through. Click on the title, above, to read the lyrics, or the house photo to hear Laurie Lewis's rendition of it.

Your turn.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

A beloved uncle, a war, and a Dobro

(Links embedded in the text below give the reader more information about the Dobro as an instrument and a piece of history.)

Once upon a time, a young man fell in love with a young woman and they planned to marry.

This love story was interrupted by WWII, changing the course of history in general, and those young lives in particular. That young man, Curtis Lee Hudgins, is buried in Normandy.

But just before he left for his tour of duty that took his life, his beloved Dorothy gave him an instrument - a Dobro - that he cherished and played before he went overseas.

Curtis's niece, my friend Betty Joe Gentry, told me that the Dobro had been part of her family's household for as long as she could remember: her mother, Ila Hudgins Gentry, ended up with the instrument following the death of her brother Curtis. Betty Joe's "Uncle Curtis" was memorialized in their home because that instrument remained a constant reminder of his existence and the family's love of the fallen soldier.

Curtis was remembered in other ways, as well. Ila named her only son after her beloved brother (sadly, Curtis Gentry died just a few years ago and, like his uncle, left a grieving family behind).
And the United States government also acknowledged Private Hudgins's ultimate sacrifice:

I first met Betty Joe in 1973 when we both lived in or near Chicago. I was invited to her family's home in South Wilmington, Illinois (not far from Chicago, near the Indiana border) where I immediately noticed the Dobro, a 1935 collector's item, and asked who played it. Ila told me that, though she had played with it at one time, no one used the instrument any more; that it remained on display in the home in memory of her brother. I told her that if she ever decided to sell it, to let me know. She assured me that that would never happen.

Betty Joe and I lost touch after I moved to California and she left Chicago for other areas before settling in South Wilmington, where she was on hand to assist her mother when Ila needed help in her old age.

Through the wonders of the Internet, Betty Joe and I found each other again, about 25 years after our last visit. One of the first things I asked was whether her mother still had, and cherished, the Dobro. I was assured that it was still a fixture in her home (and she still was not interested in selling it). There it stayed until Ila was done with her journey on this earth, leaving Betty Joe and her sister to settle the estate. I got the call: Did I still want the Dobro? I assured my friend that the instrument would have a special home in my house where I would restore it and play it in my genealogy music programs. And so it has become one of my cherished instruments.

I have a tendency to "name" all my instruments; this particular one is no exception. Its name: "Curtis," of course.

But Betty Joe has not forgotten her uncle, or his namesake. She has a special memorial in her yard, with stones for all of her family members whose graves are not local to her new home in Cookeville, Tennessee (where she moved after her mother's passing). I spent a few days with her this summer and got photos of that memorial:

And Private Curtis Lee Hudgins's marker in particular:

Our ancestors (and many of their possessions) do not die when their bodies do . . . they continue to be part of the legacy which makes up our heritage.

(To hear the Dobro's unique sound, check these YouTube videos: Jerry Douglas, Martin Gross, and Ivan Rosenberg. These three musicians demonstrate completely different styles - blues, "old timey," and bluegrass, respectively. Enjoy.)