Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Family History Interviews

In my quest to research my family, I've been trying to track down living family members and talk to them about family. I'd like to hear their stories, share any information I have, and I always hope that there will be a few special treats like photos, letters, documents etc. So far I've been pretty lucky. The few people I have reached out to have been more than happy to help me. Today I reached my father's cousin who has agreed to let me interview him! 

This is my very first interview and there are lots of lists of questions out there. I’m putting together my own list, but I’d like to hear from all of you if you’ve ever conducted an interview like this, what did you ask? What do you wish you’d asked that you didn’t ask? What would you suggest that I avoid asking?

I'm hoping to get a recorder app working well on my phone so that I can transcribe the conversation. I've learned that sometimes little tidbits can get lost if you aren't paying close attention. 

He also mentioned to me that he still lives in his grandparents house and that there are some things that my grandfather made around the house. Apparently he was a budding potter in grade school and made some charmingly awful vases! I hope one day someone looks at my terrible art and thinks it worthy of keeping around for future generations!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

I've been a very bad blogger.

Thank you to some inspiration from beyond the grave though, I realized that I needed to get back to this. I've been searching for my family members using the Access Newspaper Archive which is available for you to use free at your local family history center. I've been working on one chunk of family at a time trying to track down newspaper articles, announcements etc. I started with my dad's father's side of the family since it is one of the least documented lines I have in my tree. In my searching I've found a few little notes. Wedding licenses, polling notices, that sort of thing, but yesterday I found a real treasure. My Great-Grandmother, Marietta C. Stephenson Thomas published a poem in the Oakland Tribune’s Editorial Page on March 27, 1943.

He Shall Not Know

Why should I let him know
I cried when he went away:
‘Tis better to write of things
We did on another day.

I’ll write to him of starlight nights,
Warm rains and my cookie jar;
I’ll never write of gloomy things;
Some pleasure it might mar.

I’ll write to him of life at home;
The truth from him I’ll keep
That Oh! We miss him every day;
He shall not know I weep.

And so, I’ll write of pleasant things,
To bring him home a while;
And when I end my letter,
I’ll leave him with a smile. 

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Feeling Fancy

Ok. Long time, no post. The flu hit our house and hit it hard. Everyone in my house has been sick and I am just starting to get over it. I mentioned that it may actually be a violent allergic reaction to Oklahoma, but my doctor didn't think so.

I think I've mentioned before that I am a Family History Consultant at church. Today I got to open the center all by myself (after a minor debacle with a bad key) and got keys to all the locks inside. I then dutifully worked my 3 hour shift with my fellow volunteer. Theis also means I can go whenever I like, and I can take others with me to help them with their research. I felt so fancy. (Really, it doesn't take much to make me happy.)

I worked the entire 3 hours on MY OWN Family history though. Kind of sad. I'm there to help others work on THEIR family histories. When I'm sitting in a room filled with computers with access to tons of premium websites, shelves full of books, and drawers full of microfilm, all free to use, I wonder why people don't come.

Do me a favor, and keep me feeling fancy. If you have a Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in your area, call them. Ask them where their Family History Library is located and the hours. Then GO! Use it. (If you are a member of the church, you have no excuse. Commence feeling guilty now.) I promise the Family History workers aren't there to try to convert you. My fellow volunteer is not a member of the church and has worked there for 15 years. She will back me up on this. We are there to help you and we will devote ourselves to it. If we can't find it, we can get in contact with the huge Family History Library  in Salt Lake City to get help for you. There are sad, underutilized and easily amused Family History Consultants all over the country waiting pathetically for you to show up and put a little sunshine in their day. Now Scoot!

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

1940 Census

The 1940 census comes out in 32 days. You may have noticed a new badge on my blog. When the census comes out, it will still need to be indexed so that it can be searched. The more people working on the project, the faster the results will be out and we will be able to continue our research finding our ancestors. For some of us, this will be the first time we are able to find certain relatives in the census. In honor of the census and to get the word out, I'll be dedicating my Wednesday posts until the  census is released to one of my relatives. My grandfather Robert Thomas served in World War II and was kind enough to leave us a journal documenting some of his time in the service. Each Wednesday I'll be posting an excerpt from his journal.

February 7, 1942 We have taken on a lot of cargo, 5 inch guns have been put on and machine guns. The people on the ships are sailors, coast guard, civilians who are going to work in the islands, nurses woman marines all together I guess about 7,000 or more on board. No one knows when we are leaving, I may go to sleep and wake up at sea who knows. I phoned Mother two times from goat island the last time to tell her where I was going and I know that she took it hard, poor Mother that is my only worry now. I wish I could get liberty to see her before we pull out. I saw everyone and tried but no soap, so will just give up the idea. At least I had a nice talk with her the first telephone call, she and I was also so happy that phone call was worth a $100 dollars, I also talked to Nadine and I was so happy to hear from her, dear little Nadine, several times while talking I had tears in my eyes I know. We eat in the dining room here and have waiters so everything is OK. on board ship I like it all right if it was not for the way Mother feels I would be all right. We are going by convoy as there are tankers, cargo ships and tin cans, troop ships with soldiers army on a ship laying in the bay so I guess we'll all pull out soon. HERE'S HOPING HOCK.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Family photo Friday

I bet you thought I'd forgotten about you. Not at all. Finally starting to feel human after the bronchitis.

Today is dedicated to my grandmother Francis Jean Thomas. She went by Jean, worked at Sears for umpteen years, really liked scotch and travelling, and was very tall. This is a photo of us on what I believe was my first birthday.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Finding a Grave

You should probably be on the lookout for mine soon, since the little bug I caught two weeks ago has turned into bronchitis. Feels like someone smacked me with a headstone. But enough morbid ramblings, on to the good stuff.

I signed up this weekend to take pictures of headstones on findagrave.com. There is a cemetery just down the street from me that I figured would be a good place to start helping people out and thereby collecting some of my own good genealogy karma.

Let me just start by saying the Muldrow Memory Garden appears to have been laid out by a drunk person and there is no map available. I signed up to take photos of 3 graves and after an hour of searching, we found nothing. Some might say, "Well an hour isn't too much time to look." I would counter by saying, you are right, unless you are in Muldrow Oklahoma. It's a wee little cemetery. I'll be going back in the next few days to try my luck again and hopefully sketch up a bit of a map.

It is a very interesting thing to do, genealogically speaking. Many of the graves had photos and biographies.One even had a picture of a gentleman's truck. He was clearly very attached to it. I also learned about what appears to be a local custom of taking items regarding current family events to a recently departed family member's grave. My daughter told me about how many of their friends and their relatives will take sports trophies, copies of diplomas, and other important items to display on their family member's grave as a means to "keep in touch". Not only does it connect a family to their loved one, but what an interesting find for someone interested in genealogy to be able to keep up with the family over time.

There was one particular headstone that was already on findagrave, but that charmed me utterly. I have always had a special place in my heart for Guadalupe. I love Mexican folk art, and she s easily my favorite of all the images. That is why I squealed like a little girl when my daughter found this:

Forgive the bad picture. We were losing the light, but really, how beautiful. Mrs. Rojas, wherever you are, you have excellent taste.

As soon as these antibiotics kick in, I'll be back and hopefully with photos of the stones I was sent to find.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Two Cool Things

Just a quick post today so I can go care for my family that has been blighted by some sort of zombie producing virus. They've asked for brains for dinner. Send help.

Cool Thing the First:

On Wednesday we got the youth from our church signed up to start doing research on their family histories. I promised to come to each families home with cookies to get them started on learning to research and fill in those family trees. that was really cool in itself, but what was even cooler was yesterday when I was talking to the Young Men's president after a church function where someone mentioned a relative. He had pulled up Family Search on his tablet and was super excited to tell me about this grandmother who had named one of her children Jesse James. Apparently she had danced with the notorious outlaw several times. Who said family history isn't cool?

Cool Thing the Second:

Now that I'm writing my own genealogy blog, I need to learn how to pimp this thing, yo. DearMyrtle is offering a webinar on Monday February 20th (yes, tomorrow) on using Google Reader to follow blogs and kee track of them. You can sign up here.

Thank you to everyone who has stopped by and left a comment. I really appreciate it. I hope you'll keep coming by!