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.

Monday, May 31, 2010

A repeat of last Veteran's Day post . . . to remember my ancestors who served

Some of the Vets in my Family Tree . . .

great-great-grandfather Capt. Nathan W. Wilcox, Bissell's Engineering Regiment of the West, MO (ca. 1861) (his headstone is being placed on his grave this week in Nashville, TN and we will be dedicating the grave on August 14)

great-grandfather, Private J. Adam Hollander, Union Army, Co. I, Wisconsin 24th Inf. (1865)

grandfather, Seaman Lee Alfred Wilcox, USN (1903)

My first cousin, once removed, Wilbur Dallman, with his friend John (WWI)

2nd cousin once removed, Robert C. Trapschuh, USN (WWII)

Thank you to them and to all the living family member vets and current servicemen:
my husband, Lynn A. Hibben, US Navy vet
My brother & sister-in-law, Robert & Jaynie Wilcox, US Navy vets
my son, Quentin L. Hibben, US Navy, ret'd.
my daughter, Sandra Hibben Dodge, US Army vet
my son-in-law, Gregory Dodge, US Army, ret'd.
my grandsons (currently serving), Chris Schmidt (US Army) and Matt Hicks (US Navy)

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Music and our Military Ancestry

It's Memorial Day (officially) and the weekend when we take time to remember those who served and, especially, died so that we can enjoy our freedoms. It's easy to take these things for granted, but there are many ways that those memories are brought back to mind. One way this is done is with music (you knew I was going there). Many songs born of wartime are still sung in all types of venues: in churches, around the piano in the parlor, and around campfires (the Boy Scouts sing a version of "Tenting on the Old Campground," many not realizing that this song is from the Civil War and the "Campground" was the area where revival encampments took place, not where folks pitched tents for recreation).

Many popular songs about war focus on the opposition to war (check Songfacts for a list of titles and links), but songs that recognize the service of our military personnel date back to the prior Centuries. WWI and WWII both spawned songs of patriotism and hope. The series "Songs that got us through WWII" is a perfect example. Wikipedia has a great article on the role of music in WWII. Perhaps by the 1940s they'd discovered that previous wars benefited from having music as an element of conflict: WWI had its songs, too (many are still sung today). And all of these are a carry over from the 1861-1865 conflict where music was prolific on both sides. There are so many websites devoted to this topic that it is hard to select just a few to share here, but here's an attempt:

The Music of the American Civil War
The Civil War Music Site
Keith & Rusty McNeil's Civil War Music Site
The Civil War Music Store
Check this collection of videos of the songs of the War of the Rebellion

My own CD of Civil War songs is also available on-line.

There are also songs from the Revolutionary War. Check these:

Songs and Ballads of the American Revolution
Keith & Rusty McNeil's Colonial and Revolution Songs
And this collection of videos of the songs of the Revolutionary War

So, as you remember the men and women who served this country to obtain and preserve our freedom, take a moment to make music part of that recognition.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Treasure Chest Thursday: Before there were video games

Ignatz Trapschuh (see blogs of last 2 days) was a cabinet-maker. He was an artisan and his skill was amazing; he was able to provide for his large family by making furniture and selling it to his fellow Milwaukee residents. But, when work was scarce, he and his wife, Maria Theresa Knoetgen, went from door to door, carrying a glue pot and repairing the furniture of their neighbors for the small cost of 5 or 10 cents. Another side-line job was to take horsehair mattresses, remove the hair from the ticking, and wash and air it; then Maria would restuff and sew up the mattresses; a nasty job, but necessary and one which helped the family make ends meet.

Some of Ignatz's handiwork (a dresser and a bedstead) had been part of my family's household until the 1960s when things were sold. Ignatz, my g-g-grandfather, made a "Skittles" (AKA, in our house, "Devil among the Tailors") game with a huge playing box. The original box is gone now (it was very heavy and impossible to keep; the bottom got warped and it could no longer be used for the game, so we have replaced it with a lighter playing box). But the pieces Ignatz carved are still part of my treasures. A few years before it was given to me, my mother had tried to sell the entire set (I learned this just recently when reading about it in her diaries - no one wanted to buy it, so it was relegated back to our attic and then, in the 1970s, offered to me). I cherish these pieces, knowing that my great-great-grandfather made them by hand. I also imagine that the family played with the game during their many gatherings for fun and music. Of course the string on the top has been replaced (a number of times); the set hangs on our wall, but we have taken it down and let the grandchildren play with it over the years . . . carrying on a tradition.

(To see what this game, the precursor to the pinball machine, looks like, check Masters Traditional Games where it is called Toptafel. To learn about the English history of this game, check this site on Traditional games.)

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Wordless Wednesday - 26 May 2010

Ignatz Trapschuh (see yesterday's "Tombstone Tuesday")
Maria Theresa Knoetgen & husband Ignatz Trapschuh (ca. 1861)

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday - 25 May 2010 - Ignatz Trapschuh

The Trapschuh marker, Forest Home Cemetery

The family headstone

Ignatz Trapschuh, cabinet-maker; husband of Maria Theresa Knoetgen (md: August 1838, Austria)
b: 20 August 1815, Hochpetsch, Bohemia, Austria
d: 26 May 1893, Milwaukee, Milwaukee, Wisconsin (117 years ago tomorrow)
buried: Forest Home Cemetery, Milwaukee, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Lot 2, Block 67, Section 23

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Music: Keeping history alive, albeit altered, through oral tradition

I am watching the History Channel about the true story of Robin Hood. I had always considered him to be a legendary hero that was a composite of what the poor had wishfully concocted as their salvation. And this possibility has been given credence by the researchers. But it is also possible that the original outlaw was a very real person. As with most of our families, names are changed, adjusted, even completely altered for various reasons, not the least of which is that the ability to read and write was rare among the average citizenry nearly 1000 years ago.

How did the legend of this fascinating character stay alive from its inception (about the 1100s) to today? The program suggests that the information about the legendary character was transmitted by the oral tradition, just as so much of our own family histories have been passed along. But rather than "telling" the stories, these events were immortalized in song: the minstrels carried the tales of Robin Hood and his merry men into the pubs and the streets.

The songs were usually 4-line couplets that were easy to remember due to their simplicity (of course the problem with simplicity is that, in an effort to be concise, many details are left out, leaving the listener to fill in the blanks when retelling the stories to others). The use of drawings and carvings further spread the stories, discussed in great detail in the essay by Richard Rutherford-Moore.

Mary's TV Site gives a brief review of this program and Toni V. S. also goes into detail on the legend and the different perspectives, partly based on the History Channel program.

My point here: the use of songs to carry messages and keep history alive (albeit altered) is a practice that has been going on for ages upon ages. Did your ancestors teach or preserve history in this way? How much will future generations know about us because of the retention of songs and stories? With the Internet (and blogging), as well as videos, and who knows what other technology to come, helping us hold onto memories and history, I suspect songs won't be as instrumental as they were in the past; but I also would guess that much of the data that is retained for future reference will have "background music" (such as what we hear in movies and television shows to communicate emotions). Just some thoughts.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Treasure Chest Thursday - 20 May 2010, Grandma's opera glasses

Grandma Emma Marie Hollander Johnson's opera glasses. I come from a long line of theater-lovers. They had a cottage near Hartland, Wisconsin and going to neighboring Oconomowoc to see the Port Players every summer was a traditional activity for the family. Years later I learned that my friend Pernell Roberts had acted with the Port Players. Mom had saved all the programs from the shows she'd seen so I checked them out . . . wouldn't you know it: the family didn't go during the 1951 & 1952 seasons because they had a new baby at the cottage (me!). Those were the years Pernell was there. But we were in the same neighborhood!

I cherish the opera glasses & have used them at many shows I have attended (including those Pernell did - on the few occasions I did not sit in one of the front rows!). Keeping the past alive!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Sing along!

I love the Reader's Digest (note: the apostrophe is before the first "s," not after it, so it focuses on the single reader, not readers en masse . . . just a little detail that did not escape me). I think I have subscribed to it since I was in high school. For a while in life, when there was very little extra $$ for the small pleasures, a friend and I developed a system: one of us would maintain a subscription, then give the magazine to the other person the next month; we rotated this arrangement each year for quite some time before I was able to have my own subscription. I preferred to get my own copies as I would take out articles of special interest to keep in an ever growing file. I now remove only very carefully selected items since past issues are all available on line these days.

This latest edition (June/July 2010) of Reader's Digest includes "100 Things We Love about America." One of the "things" was "Best Crowd-Pleaser": musician Josh Wilson's experience in the Liberty International Airport in Newark, New Jersey. As has happened far too often in recent years, a delay, the result of a security issue, caused crowds of travelers much inconvenience and, as a likely offshoot, much frustration and short tempers. Josh, took his instrument and played and sang the Beatles "Hey, Jude," among other songs. This song, obviously well-known (or at least somewhat known) by most of the travelers, got the crowd smiling and, soon thereafter, clapping and singing along. Soon his fellow sojourners were all "na-na-na"-ing together! What an amazing experience that must have been. Josh stated that he wanted to take the situation and "make it better" . . . and he did (p. 120). Read more about the amazing young artist, whose latest recording, "Life is not a Snapshot," was released last year, at his Sparrow Records website (where other accounts of his experience at Newark are detailed). Or check out the experience on YouTube (nothing can happen in this post-1984 world without someone capturing it on video!).

I see this shared experience of those passengers and Josh as a perfect example of what music can and will do for a group: bring people together and help them deal with everything from adversity to amusement, religion to relaxation. It was no different with our ancestors who joined together after a day of work to share a little music in front of the fire before turning it. When times were hard, a song could help them deal with the stress (consider the passengers on the Titanic, joining in "Nearer My God to Thee," or all of us at various venues on and shortly after 9/11, joining in "God Bless America"). When someone passes away, we gather at a memorial or a funeral and sing together - "Amazing Grace," "Blessed be the Tie that Binds," etc. Conversely, during the holidays, even the non-religious can be found singing "Fa-la-la"s with the mall carolers. And, for those of you who visit Disneyland whenever the opportunity arises, can you honestly tell me you have not joined in with the (animated, not even human) pirates singing "yo-ho, yo-ho, a pirate's life for me"? And don't we feel better and more connected to those around us when we've shared a song? Obviously, Josh Wilson was well aware of the emotional power of "singing along."

This weekend - Sunday, May 16 - Southern Californians will have this opportunity at the 50th annual Topanga Banjo and Fiddle contest, taking place at Paramount Ranch Agoura Hills. But this is much more than just a contest: there are concerts, workshops, activities, and lots of vendor booths, plus many jamming and singalong opportunities all over the vast park. My husband, Uncle Butch, will be teaching a saw workshop with our friend, Gary Friedman, who will teach people how to play xaphoon at 1-2pm. There is truly something for everyone as this all takes place on the old Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman filming location: lots of hiking opportunities are provided in the surrounding acreage, and, of course, a lot of great food to refresh oneself after the hike. Our friends, Songmakers, will have a spot in the "town" where they will be entertaining the crowds and providing lots of singalong opps, so check them out (and join in the singing), if you decide to come to this great event.

So do like your ancestors did - celebrate life by singing along (if not at "Topanga" this weekend, then maybe with friends or family). The emotional experience is worth the effort!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Countdown to Jamboree, Burbank, CA, 14 May 2010

Only 4 weeks to go and I will be at Jamboree . . . will you be there too?

This will be the second year that we will be doing the Kids Camp and I am excited about that, but there are a lot of other things happening as well. The exhibit hall will be filled with some exhibitors that one usually sees only at the largest genealogy conferences. Click on the icon above to see everything that will be available for perusal in the exhibit hall. Here are a few examples:

Genealogy products, e.g., software, books, other supplies

Genealogy societies, lineage societies, family history organizations

Magazines & other publications (online and hard copy) in the field

Help and consultation services

Book publishing options

Various organizations that further the field

Exhibitors with ideas of how to preserve and share your family history

Promotion of genealogy and history events

It's hard to summarize all that is available, so click on the logo above and read about them all for yourself . . . then try to schedule your exhibit hall visits among all the other things happening at the event.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Treasure Chest Thursday - 13 May 2010

Dad's shoes
Worn by Lee Roy Wilcox, b: 8 June 1912, Chicago, Cook, Illinois; d: 31 December 1999, Northbrook, Cook, Illinois

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Wordless Wednesday - Gallup Coat of Arms

The Gallup/Gallop Coat of Arms (see yesterday's posting of Gallup ancestor grave). More information on the family is located on the Flick Family Tree Blog.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday - 11 May 2010, Marian Gallup Freeman, d: 12 May 1850

My g-g-g-g-grandmother's grave; cemetery: unknown (somewhere in Herkimer County, NY)

(photo: courtesy of Cora Preston Davis)

Marian Gallup, b: 4 May 1768 (probably in Rhode Island), d: 12 May 1850 (160 years ago tomorrow), Stark, Herkimer, New York
Daughter of Thomas Gallup and Jane Patterson
Wife of Isaac Freeman

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun - Mom's mom's mom's mom

In honor of mother's day, I am responding to Randy Seaver's challenge to identify my matrilineal line. This is fairly easy for me as these special people dwell in my heart and their identities are noted in my mind (but I do have to check the pedigree to get the exact dates for all the events).

My mother was Virginia Marie Johnson Wilcox, b: 24 August 1911, Milwaukee, Milwaukee, Wisconsin; d: 24 June 1994, Evanston, Cook, Illinois

A significant time in her life: She essentially single-handedly cleaned out 4 homes of relatives when they either died or were no longer able to live in their houses; she handled every detail and kept meticulous records of all the items and experiences, aided by the fact that she kept a daily diary for most of her adult life (the last entry was 4 days before her unexpected death and 1 day before she slipped into a coma).

Her mother was

Emma Marie Hollander Johnson, b: 9 August 1873, Milwaukee, Milwaukee, Wisconsin; d: 10 September 1964, Glenview, Cook, Illinois

A significant time in her life: When her father lost his sight, Emma maintained the records of the family home and the business, orchestrating the necessary tasks to supervise the building of a new house, shortly after losing her fiance to death.

Her mother was

Caroline (Carrie) Maria Trapschuh Hollander, b: 16 December 1844, Belin, Bohemia, Austria; d: Milwaukee, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

A significant time in her life: After meeting her future husband, saying "goodbye" to him as he went off to serve in the Civil War. He returned to her and they made a life together, but she ended up nursing him after he went blind in later life.

Her mother was

Maria (Mary) Theresa Knoetgen Trapschuh, b: 23 February 1816, Bohemia, Austria; d: 18 April 1899, Milwaukee, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

A significant time in her life: Leaving Bohemia and her family in Teplitz to make a life in America with her husband, a cabinet maker, and children; the voyage lasted nearly 3 months and the passengers on the small whaling brig had to resort to eating potato peelings to stay alive. Though she watched the burial at sea of many fellow passengers, Mary lost none of her 5 children that also made the trip (3 more were born in America).

The mitochondrial DNA has clarified that my roots lie in the Czech Republic (no surprise there). What the DNA does not show: the strength that these women possessed and, hopefully, passed on to me.

Countdown to Jamboree, Burbank, CA

In 5 weeks, I will be deeply involved in the Southern California Genealogical Society's 41st Annual Jamboree - a time when genealogists from all over the country will converge on Burbank, CA en masse, bringing with them enthusiasm and expertise. Highlights will include the Bloggers' Summit on Saturday Morning, hosted by Thomas MacEntee of Geneabloggers, who will guide experienced & novice bloggers in how to best adapt their efforts to the genealogy world.

The biggest problem with the Jamboree: there's too much good stuff happening at the same time. I have no idea how folks are going to decide what things to attend or do and what things to forsake. I know that I will be spending a lot of time in the exhibit hall (free for everyone, even those not registered for the conference), helping at the Southern Calif. Chapter of the Assoc. of Professional Genealogists booth. Stop by to say "hi" if you are attending the event.

Click on the image at the top to learn more about the schedule of events.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Songs and Stories Keep the Past Alive: A Reflection on Kids' Camp at NGS

Last week (was it really that long ago?) I had the choice opportunity to work with some great folks to present the concept of family history research to a group of young folks (ages 8 through 16) at the NGS conference in Salt Lake City. It was an interesting experience because the "audience" included people of all ages (many adults joined their children/grandchildren) and they seemed to appreciate the "kids' songs" even more than the youth.

I started the program with the song "Old Dan Tucker," which is one I remember fondly from my own childhood (I've discussed this, and some others, on the earlier blog about my new "Songs of Early Childhood" CD). I informed the kids that their ancestors did not have CD or MP3 players, so they made their own music and this was one example. Personally, I fell in love with the song when I was a kid and would visit my grandfather. He had an extensive collection of 78 rpm records (which I have inherited).

I also performed "Tom Dooley," but didn't go into great detail about the back story on that (it's a bit racy). But I did mention something I have remembered since that song first hit the airwaves in 1958: my elementary school music teacher, Miss Shaddock (spelling may be wrong here), taught music to one of the members of the Kingston Trio (no, I don't remember which one, I'm afraid). When she told the class about that, I was quite impressed, even though I was very young - I really enjoyed their music from my earliest memory.

I told the back story of "Pretty Little Horses" (see earlier blog) and we discussed lullabies. I was pleased to see so many hands go up when I asked who had been sung to sleep by family members. I also sang "Go Tell Aunt Rhody" (which some people consider a lullaby) and "She'll be Coming 'Round the Mountain." In this latter one, I got the group doing the motions that accompany the words (they knew them better than I) and pointed out that the motions and some of the verses were a modern addition. This actually makes the song more of a "Play Party" piece - the songs that were created to circumvent dancing prohibition of an early American society.

In between songs, we did a little storytelling. I told a couple, then the audience members got involved. It was great: they told stories of injuries (of their own and others in the family or circle of friends - good thing no names were given as some of the narratives could have been considered embarrassing . . . you know how kids can get!), messes, disobeying rules, and scary situations. Some of the adults got into the storytelling, too, which made it even more enjoyable for me (I love stories and could hear and understand the adults' stories a little better than those the kids told). Then I informed them that they might want to share these stories in the years to come, so they should write them in their journals . . . time will dull the memory of something that seems so vivid today. But I also reminded them that, for our ancestors, stories and songs were often used to communicate a message or warning about things they should not do; many of their stories could serve that same purpose in the future with their children.

I don't know if the program had the desired effect, but I hope that my songs and stories gave those present a reminder that family history is not just names, dates, and places: it's experiences, interests, activities, occupations, and relationships. Through the songs and stories of earlier generations, we can connect with our ancestors. So take a break: tell a family story this weekend and make sure there's a record of it. Let's not lose these pieces of our lives to history!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Wordless Wednesday - 5 May 2010 - C. A. Miller

C. A. Miller - throughout his life, with some of his family.

With his mother, Gertrude (far left), and older sisters (left to right): Pauline and Ottillie (Till)

The young businessman - ca. 1905

Brother & sister: Art with Till, Oak Park, Cook, Illinois

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday - 4 May 2010 - C. Arthur Miller

My grand-uncle, Chester Arthur Miller (born Carl Arthur Mueller), born 27 March 1884, Milwaukee, Milwaukee, Wisconsin (I have the birth certificate to prove this, though he often said he was born in 1886 in New York as Chester Arthur Mueller); died 6 May 1972 (38 years ago this week), Oak Park, Cook, Illinois; buried 9 May 1972, Memorial Park Cemetery, Skokie, Cook, Illinois.