There are some folks in my circle who wonder why on earth I wander through cemeteries… for fun! It’s true that as a genealogist I often need to find a gravestone for a client. But very often if I have time to go for a nice long walk, I will drive to a cemetery. The older cemeteries are full of mature trees and have wonderful paved paths.
And the smaller, country cemeteries are sometimes just in a field. But the views! It does my soul good.
My favourite cemeteries are those that have a combination of very old gravestones and some modern ones. Many of the newer gravestones are actually BENCHES with the names and dates of the deceased engraved on them.
Along my walks it's impossible to walk past the older gravestones. Most of the time there is no living person who remembers the deceased. But the words that are carved into the stone will tell the world about the person for all eternity. It’s amazing how much you can learn about someone in the way that they are summed up in a few chiseled words.
Occasionally, I even stumble across a stone with amazingly detailed genealogy information. It would be nice if my own family stones had such rich stories, but future generations will appreciate it. [historystone]
I hope you take the time to check out one of your local cemeteries. They really are lovely, unique and historical places to explore.
Don’t worry, I’ll get back to my dead people in my next post.
Recently, I was challenged to create a blog post detailing twenty facts about myself. So here goes…
1. 42 years old and proud of it. I know too many people who never lived to see their 42nd birthday so I’m enjoying Every. Single. Day.
2. 5’2” tall. Yep. I’m short. But good things come in small packages, right?
3. Wear black glasses that make me look like a librarian. Which is good, cuz I AM a librarian.
4. Have blue eyes. Which, due to #3, you can barely see.
5. Will be married for 10 years this July. I think that’s a good excuse to have a party. Where has the time gone?
6. Have a beautiful, spunky 5 year old daughter. She has the amazing ability to drive me crazy and make me melt with overwhelming love. Usually in the same breath.
7. Have an angel collection. It started just after my mum died in 1999. They’re all around my house and are a great source of comfort.
8. HATE gardening. But I love flowers. Especially lilacs, which remind me of my childhood home.
9. Love to read. My tastes change periodically. Currently, I’m in an adventure/swashbuckling phase. Michael J. Sullivan’s Riyria Revelations held me spellbound until Hadrian and Royce’s very last adventure.
10. Love walking through cemeteries. There is so much beauty in the headstones, their eternal words that mark the passing of a loved one, and the calm peacefulness of nature.
11. Have recently uncovered a knack for writing for other people. It’s nice to be able to branch out beyond genealogy.
12. Have a gluten sensitivity due to a thyroid disorder. I wasn’t aware of this sensitivity until last year. Since going gluten-free all of the symptoms I’ve had since I was a teenager have FINALLY subsided.
13. Have two university degrees. My Psychology degree helped tremendously when my daughter was going through the Terrible Two’s. And my Library Science degree helps me find research about anything at any time.
14. Have many of the same friends that I went to high school with. We’re still giggly when we get together, but it’s cool to see each other as responsible parents.
15. Like to drive a SCOOTCH over the speed limit. Yes, I’m impatient.
16. Am a nurturer. I had no idea. Once I became a mom I started baking from scratch and putting home cooked meals on the table for when my hubby came home from work. I must have been ripped from the 1960s.
17. Love to be goofy. My husband knew this about me when we got married. Now when our daughter acts up the exact same way he just shakes his head and says “You get it from your mother”.
18. HATE/refuse to wear uncomfortable clothing. I actually wore running shoes to my own wedding. Yes I did. After being in countless wedding parties in torturous shoes I swore I’d be comfortable on my day. And I was.
19. Play piano. I hated taking lessons when I was a kid. But I enjoy it now.
20. Love setting new goals and challenges for myself. Funny, when it was performance review time when I worked I HATED the dreaded “What are your goals for the next year” bit. But I really do love setting new challenges. It’s immensely satisfying to check something off your list.
So that’s twenty facts about me.
I have to admit. I'm feeling quite overwhelmed with the amount of genealogy resources available online these days. After taking three years off to be a full time mommy I'm finding it more than a bit difficult to navigate the scads of sites and figure out how they're all connected. More importantly, I'm trying to figure out how to make the process a bit easier on myself when I usually only get slivers of time to do research throughout the day. Such is the staccato life of a domestic goddess.
After another brain numbing session trying to figure out the logic behind yet another awkward search engine, I literally threw my hands up and powered down the computer, mumbling threats against a major Genealogy-Site-That-Shall-Not-Be-Named, and began reconsidering my career choice.
Sipping my tea, I looked out the window to my lovely back yard. I started to think about other moms who'd lived here with their kids and wondered how they managed back in the day. Feel free to picture a light bulb going off over my head. Of course, I had to run back and reboot the computer. I remembered seeing a link on Olive Tree Genealogy's website for land records, specifically an atlas map for the County of Oxford.
Because I can never for the life of me remember my Lot number I had to scrounge for an old property tax receipt. Once I had this information I was able to find out that in 1876 a Scotsman named Thomas Patterson owned my land! This was interesting, but we all know I had to keep digging.
I checked the 1871 Canadian Census and found Thomas, 48, was a farmer here with his wife, Eliza, 45. They dutifully had nine children, with another one showing up on the 1881 census. There is no mention of them in the 1891 census so I have no idea what happened to them. Yet.
My next step is to visit the local LRO to see if I can find any other interesting tidbits on the Patterson Family.
Seems I just had to literally look under my nose to rekindle my enthusiasm.
How often do we get to hit "reset" and start researching our family history all over again?The family that I've been researching for several years is not my blood family. I was adopted as a child. I was fascinated by the family stories my relatives would tell me. And, being curious (ok nosey) I wanted to know more. I've learned a lot about Polish, Ukrainian and Scottish immigration patterns and customs from both sides of my family.
Recently, however, I have uncovered information about my birth mother. Her family is peppered with French names. In the entire time I've researched my family I've never had a French ancestor! I'm starting from scratch; new research avenues, new resources, etc.
This is a completely new family tree. MY family tree. I imagine this will be an emotional journey as well as an educational one. It's difficult to describe how this feels. I've been researching my adopted ancestors for years. They're comfortable and familiar (yes, I know they're still dead). But there was always a sense of detachment from them. Like they're weren't my blood. So anyone who had "questionable" habits was interesting, rather than "gosh, I share the same blood as this person."
I'd be grateful to anyone for suggestions on where to begin researching French Canadian relations. I'm starting at the grandparent level.
It's been a while since I've set foot in a cemetery for genealogical purposes. Last week I took my preschooler out to a local church and cemetery to look around and take some photos.
(On a side note, did you know that tombstones are the PERFECT height for a 3 year old to hide behind? My nerves!)
After we found the very furthest reaches of the cemetery we turned back. I noticed something on the BACK of a few of the newer tombstones. Something I'd never seen before. There were etchings and pictures on the backs of the stones.
Most of them were harmless, like this one:
I do not like photos of the deceased on tombstones. I think it's morbid and creepy. That said, you can imagine my horror when I saw....
There aren't enough words to describe how awful this is. And tacky. And creepy.
After three years of being an at-home mom it's time for me to dust off my brain. The day it dawned on me that I knew more about Max and Ruby's family than my own family tree made me realize I need DESPERATELY to get back into the swing of all things genealogy.
To that end, I am offering my services (and my scanner) to those who have old photos. I will scan old photos to preserve them.
And, for an extra fee, I will enhance them. What does that mean? Not only will I scan the photos in a safe environment, but I will delete creases, stains, etc. Now you can hang your great-grandmother's wedding photo on the wall, not just look at it in the musty old photo albums. I can't promise miracles, but I will use the technology available to make photos look better than they have in decades.
Yesterday, while driving into town, I ended up behind a funeral procession. The highway into town is 80km/hr but it IS a major commuter route and folks rarely go less than 100km/hr. (Since my hubby will be reading this I must sheepishly admit that I, too, belong in that category!) It isn't unusual
to end up going no faster than 80 when there is a long line of traffic ahead. But when the speedometer sat at a constant 55km/hr my patience began to wear thin. As soon as the highway split into four lanes the vehicles ahead of me eagerly jumped into the passing lane to escape the snails. Almost as quickly as they switched lanes I saw them merge back into the lane they had just left. As I got to the front of the line in the passing lane I noticed the flashing hazard lights on the cars ahead who were following a hearse. Ah! Not wanting to pass the hearse I too slipped back into the 55km/hr stream of traffic. The
rest of the cars behind me did likewise.
I also noticed on the other side of the highway oncoming traffic was also pulling over as the hearse passed. This is something that I haven't seen in a very long time. Although, it's been years since I was either in or behind a funeral procession. I was very impressed with my fellow travelers. At intersections cars who had the right-of-way with the green light were stopping to let the procession proceed through the red light. In an age where we are always running behind schedule or are distracted by the minutiae of life, it was refreshing to see people paying respect to the dead.
When people ask me how I can spend so much time in cemeteries I'm not sure that I can explain completely. I don't find them creepy -- although I have never been in one at night. On the contrary, I find them to be very serene and calm places. I feel a sense of reverence, kind of like when I'm in a church. All around me are mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, soldiers. I am very careful to respect their space. When I need to get a closer look at the text on a stone I always mutter a quick "excuse me" as I step on the grass. Perhaps it's the Canadian in me that always thinks to ask permission, I don't know! :)
More than 150 years ago, a young Quaker named Abraham wrote this letter to his wife, Jane. Only two details of the couple's life are known today: The letter was written while Abraham was on a business trip, and he and his wife had two sons -- one born in 1852, the other in 1864. Cherished by descendants, the letter was sent to Good Housekeeping by a family member who felt it was a touching example of the love that binds man to woman. I'd like to share it this Valentine season.
August 1, 1853
My Dear Jane,
I send this little watch for thy birthday gift. I suppose thee is twenty-four years old, the seventh day of this month. Thee has been my loving wife nearly three years, we have a little darling boy to crown our love, and we do love each other very much - more so since he has been with us. I think sometimes no one in the wide world loves his wife better than I do, and that no one has a sweeter wife to love. Thee knows, though I am cross sometimes, I love thee very much. Now I want to love thee through coming years, more if possible than I ever have done, and avoid all cross words and feelings. I think with thy assistance I can improve, and perhaps, My Darling, with our Heavenly Father's help we may do more than we think possible now.
Time goes very fast. It seems but yesterday I saw thy white dress pass the Meeting House, and thought to myself what a sweet trim girl thee was. Then as we often met and I knew thee better, I loved thee more, and before many years, we stood in the same meeting as husband and wife, to love faithfully and affectionately until we should be separated for our long homes. We have loved so and been very happy and we have the power to be more happy still. If we have troubles they will strnegthen our love - for "the Lord loveth whom he chasteneth," and if we are very weary, "He giveth his beloved sleep." I hope and pray, My Darling, that we may all walk through Life in sweet unity to a better Home. I cannot write the feelings that draw me towards thee tonight, but thee knows, Love, better than I could tell thee what place thee holds in my heart. Good-bye. All wishes for thyself and our darling boy.
As ever thine,
With a 4 month old baby in the house I haven't really had time nor the energy to think about genealogy. In fact, my life has really begun to revolve around a very cute but demanding daughter who likes to keep me on my toes at all hours. In an effort to regain my sense of self I am going to embrace the following resolutions. I take no credit for them, I'm simply copying them from the Internets. :)
1. Drink plenty of water.
2. Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a beggar.
3. Eat more foods that grow on trees and plants and eat less food that is manufactured in plants.
4. Live with the 3 E's -- Energy, Enthusiasm and Empathy
5. Make time to pray.
6. Play more games
7. Read more books than you did in 2009.
8. Sit in silence for at least 10 minutes each day
9. Sleep for 7 hours.
10. Take a 10-30 minutes walk daily. And while you walk, smile.
11. Don't compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.
12. Don't have negative thoughts or things you cannot control. Instead invest your energy in the positive present moment.
13. Don't over do. Keep your limits.
14. Don't take yourself so seriously. No one else does.
15. Don't waste your precious energy on gossip.
16. Dream more while you are awake.
17. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.
18. Forget issues of the past. Don't remind your partner with his/her mistakes of the past. That will ruin your present happiness.
19. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone. Don't hate others.
20. Make peace with your past so it won't spoil the present.
21. No one is in charge of your happiness except you.
22. Realize that life is a school and you are here to learn. Problems are simply part of the curriculum that appear and fade away like algebra class but the lessons you learn will last a lifetime.
23. Smile and laugh more.
24. You don't have to win every argument. Agree to disagree...
25. Call your family often.
26. Each day give something good to others.
27. Forgive everyone for everything.
28. Spend time with people over the age of 70 & under the age of 6.
29. Try to make at least three people smile each day.
30. What other people think of you is none of your business.
31. Your job won't take care of you when you are sick. Your friends will. Stay in touch.
32. Do the right thing!
33. Get rid of anything that isn't useful, beautiful or joyful.
34. A greater power heals everything.
35. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.
36. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.
37. The best is yet to come.
38. When you awake alive in the morning, thank a greater power for it.
39. Your Inner most is always happy. So, be happy.
I'll be back writing about dead people in a while but I wanted to introduce my daughter to the world.
Lily Anne Morehouse was born Monday September 14, 2009. My dainty girl tipped the scales at 5 pounds 13 ounces and was 18 inches long. Her daddy and I are enjoying getting to know her and we wonder every day how we created something so perfect!