Friday, October 26, 2012

It's Somewhere

     Well I’ve had enough of that tart taste of illness and now it’s time to pour a glass of sweet tea. During my time out, so to speak, I started looking at some family photos, some old and some not so old. I found a wide variety of photos; everything from births, birthdays, nature walks, holidays to a lot of miscellaneous photos. But I didn’t find a lot on the season of spooks…Halloween that is. Don’t get me wrong I did find some, but not as much as you would think.  Most of them were of my kids, of course, and some of my brothers and me growing up. I didn’t see any of my grandparents as children in costumes or even my own parents.  That really got me to thinking about this holiday we celebrate as kids.  Do we really know a lot about this particular holiday and if our ancestors celebrated it the same way we do, was it not a big deal, or was it viewed as a day of evil? Don’t get me wrong I love Halloween, dressing in costume, eating candy and yes having to chance to scare the… candy corn out of those who venture up my driveway. 

      But what about my ancestors, there aren’t any pictures of kids in costumes, stories or letters written about Halloween.  When we begin the trip back in time looking at the lives that our ancestors lived you might find a large mix of religious beliefs, some that wouldn’t allow such an event.  Then again you might even be surprised to find out they had never even heard of such a holiday. I just can’t help but wonder what my great or 3x great grandparents thought of this holiday.  

Did they know about it? 

Who or what would their costumes have been?

What would their costumes have been made out of?

Did they carry a carved pumpkin; go door to door repeating the now familiar saying “trick-or-treat”?

Were they given candy, baked goods or told to go away?    

     I know this might be somewhat of a strange blog post to most of you but it just caught my attention. The lack of photos and other information from my ancestors about this holiday that is. I would love to see my grandmother dressed in costume with her brother and sisters.  Just the stories alone… that picture could tell. I’m going to continue to search for that picture, I’m sure it’s out there somewhere or even a diary entry, or letter about that night.  

     No matter what, just because you don’t see it doesn’t mean it’s not there or it didn’t exist or even happen.  Some of the most interesting stories about our ancestors are out there, missing and waiting to be found.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Bad News and Good News

Bad News

     Sorry to have been an absent blogger these past few days but in light of a recent injury it has hampered my ability to sit for a long period of time. I hope to be back blogging like crazy sometime next week so don’t forget about me and check in every once in a while. Just a quick taste of what’s to come, finding a witch in your lineage, discovering a recently found grave or graves and I will begin sharing all my surname purchases made on eBay.

Good News

     Tonight you can catch Kathleen Brandt, a3genealogy, and I on History Channel 2. We will be appearing on “How the States Got Their Shapes” in the North vs. South episode as dueling genealogist. It is set to appear here in TN at 9PM so check your local listings; I promise you it’s very entertaining.  Comments and reviews are accepted… just remember I’m injured so be gentle.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

New Adventure Equals New Find

     Today my daughter and I went for a short walk with a destination in mind, but wasn’t really sure what I might find. The small neighborhood we live in is fairly new and the land was all owned by one family.   At some point this family decided to sell the land so homes could be built. Currently I don’t know a lot about the original land owner except that he still owns some land on the out lining area of the neighborhood.  Okay I seem to be talking in code here… let me get to the point.

     When driving into our neighborhood if you look closely you’ll notice a black metal fence wedged between two, typical wooden privacy fences. Upon a closer look, while still in the car you will notice two large trees, but they’re dead and have been, for as long as we have lived here. Not a leaf in site, those branches are necked except for the occasional bird or squirrel.  

     Today I decided to venture up there and see exactly what was there. I wasn’t really sure what we would find but deep down I was pretty sure it was some type of a cemetery. I was right; it was a cemetery of sort.  It was completely gated shut; there was no entrance into the lot.  At first glance you would think it was originally an old foundation for a house but upon closer look I didn’t believe that to be the case.  There was one large tree that looks to have been cut down, probably during the beginning stages of construction in the neighborhood. That seems to be the only tree removed, the two dead trees we saw from the road and in the gated area.  There are quite a few large rocks and even a few that look like foundation rocks for a home. We only saw one headstone in the whole fenced in area and it was leaning up against what looked to be the pedestal for it at one time. There’s no sign on the fence letting you know the name of the cemetery or even if it’s a family cemetery.  Don’t get me wrong it’s not trashed, the grass isn’t overgrowing but it just looks sad, lonely and forgotten.

     What I wasn’t really expecting was what my daughter said as we were walking back to the house; “mom you have to find out who it is and if there are more there”.  I knew I took her for a reason and now I have another mystery to solve.  All joking aside, she was right there isn’t any information and what if this was one of my ancestors or a client’s ancestor that I’m researching.   

     So this is what I’ve found out so far, and it was just thru a quick Facebook question on our neighborhood page. One story is that the cemetery belongs to the original owners of the land, but when I asked the name no one seems to know. Another story is that there are a few people buried there and some family is taking care of the plot, again name seems to escape them. The last bit of info sent to me was that the lady buried there died in you early 20’s, her husband buried her there by their home. He later remarried and is buried in some another cemetery in Clarksville.  

     I’ve learned two lessons on today’s adventure one is that you never know what you’ll come across when you venture out. Lesson number two maybe Facebook isn’t all that bad for asking some research questions.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Spirits, Ghost and Genealogy

     I couldn’t help myself:  maybe it’s that time of year…Halloween.  And I’m getting into the sprit!  Last week while I was helping out with a PTO book fair at my kid’s school, I was asked what I did for a living. Maybe it was the changing colors in the trees, the cooler temperatures or it was just the talk of decorating our house for Halloween, that morning before the kids got on the bus.  I couldn’t resist so I told them that “I talk to dead people for a living”. There was such a mix of expressions that came over their faces that I couldn’t keep a straight face and started laughing.

     Just the other day I was reminded of what I said, that day in the library.  Strange thing is it wasn’t a joke or a lie; I do talk to the dead and I listen to everything they have to say.  All of us who are searching in the world of genealogy isn’t’ that what we do. We read their letter, diaries, police reports, newspaper clippings and more.  A name of a loved one comes across our desk, either one of our own or someone that a client is asking us to research.  We collect all the information we have, and then review it. When we have finished speaking and listen to what that spirit has told us we seek more. Until we have a better picture of what this ghost is telling us.  Don’t forget some of us will even visit a cemetery or two to gather as much information as we can, granted we usually do it in the full light of the day.

     If any of you have ever watched one of those shows on TV like “Ghost Hunters”  you've noticed that one thing they are always out to do is debunk the stories they are told. They are looking for the facts, the truth. That is exactly what we do in the world of genealogy we hunt for the facts, the truth.  Along the way we listen to what they are telling us, research the facts and debunk any misconceptions that have been told.  
     So see we do listen and talk to ghost and spirits, even when it’s not Halloween. By the way I did tell them that I'm a genealogist, just in case you were wondering.  


Monday, October 8, 2012

Descendant Story Continues

     First  I want to thank all of you who have taken the time to not only read my blogs but also comment on them. In one of the comments I recieved today there was a question about a part two on the posting that I did yesterday. Believe it or not that story does continue and I have no problem sharing more on that experience. For those of you who don't know about yesterdays post, well then stop reading this one and look at yesterdays post. Just kidding...let me give you a quick overview.
     I was confronted with the thought, from someone else, that I should be ashamed of my family and keep the fact that I'm a descendant of a slave owner a secret. Ashamed I wasn't, I don't agree with what my 3x great grandfather did but he was my grandfather and that was a time in history. Reflecting on our lineage, the history of our families we learn that somethings aren't always sweet and wonderful.
     Imagine her surprise when I told her what I found out about the other side of my family during my research. Brace yourself for this one, not only am I the descendant of a slave owner but also a descendant of a slave. Okay now I'll give you a moment to picture the look on her face..mine had a smile on it. You can only imagine the questions that came from her.
"Did the other side know?"
"How can one side of the family live with the other knowing this?"
"What in the world are you going to tell your kids?"
     Those were just a few of her questions during our conversation. I had to take a moment and try to explain with out the obvious statement of "are you serious".
Finding out that you are a descendant of a slave was another "tart lemon" moment. Hearing that one of your ancestors was a slave owner and then finding out that you're also the descendant of a slave wasn't that much of a shock to me. Lets face it when we start to research into our family's history chances are you'll find that you are either the descendant of a slave or slave owner. Chances are that you will find both in your lineage on either side or maybe even both sides of your family.
     To be asked the question if the other side knew was pretty easy for me to answer with a  "how would I know". But obvioiusly they worked through it, I'm here after all, along with my kids.  That brings me to the question of telling my kids. I'm so happy that my kids enjoy hearing about what life was like for their ancestors. I didn't even give it a second thought when it came time to explain slavery and how that affected our family's history. They know that no matter what you have both the good mixed with bad and it takes both of them to make life, to make history. I felt as if this was the perfect opportunity to teach them about history and what part their ancestors played during this time in history.
     Slavery was wrong but unfortunately it happened and is part of our history. We have all discussed it and reflected on it many times whether through school, church or even conversations we've had with others. I've said it before, that was part of who makes us who we are today. Should we be ashamed of the actions taken by our ancestors, should we be angred by what others did to our anscostor. My thoughts on this are no, instead continue to learn from mistakes and bad choices made by others and don't repeat this time in history.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Quick Thought

Excuse me but aren't you ashamed of your family?
     That was a question recently asked of me while I was explaining that one of my ancestors was a slave owner.  I never gave it a second thought, that is about hiding it. But some felt as though I should keep it to myself, as if I had done something wrong. When you are truly passionate about searching to find your family's history, if you think for one second you're going to find nothing but angels, royalty and fame...wake up! That's why I love the name of my blog "Sweet Tea, Tart Lemons & Memories". This particular find would fall into that "Tart" category, bitter and hard to swallow. I'll be honest yes, it was somewhat of a shock and hard to swallow but that was part of my family. Now I want to be completely clear I don't agree with what he did, I don't in any way condone it. Yes, it's wrong in my eyes to own another human being and treat them as if they are a piece of property. But as I explained it to her that was my 3x great grandfather, not me, and during that time in history that was believed to be the way of life.
     It's OUR history and it's what makes us who we are today. If we all take time to look back into the history of our families we might not like everything that we see. But they are still family and you too don't have to agree with what took place during that time in history.  You should however take the time to learn about what life was like back then. By doing so you just might begin to understand that not everything is as good or bad as you think.  Laws were different, medical treatments were different and the education system was even different. Many things have changed over time and why have they changed, because we have learned from our past. Granted some changes you might not agree with but these changes were made by viewing our past, our history.

Friday, October 5, 2012

     Finally I've joined the world of blogging, yes I know it took long enough. I was hoping to have my blog up, running and looking good after I attended the Federation for Genealogical Society event back in September.  Unfortunately I'm my own worst critic and had to sub come to the idea that I'll get better at blogging with time, but I have to start. So since this is my first post and kind of an introduction as too what this blog is about, who I am and what services I offer,  I guess I should start with the blog name. Sweet Tea, Tart Lemons & Memories wasn't a difficult name to come up with, actually its a true description of genealogy research and the results we get. With every letter you read, newspaper clipping you find, research site or archive room you visit you might be faced with something a little Sweet that will make you smile. Maybe there will be some information that seems Tart, bitter and hard to swallow. No matter what they are Memories and that's what many of us look for when we begin the search into our families history, where they come from, what they did for a living, their adventures and what their lives were like.
     Now for a brief introduction to myself well where shall I start, you already know my name. So how about with what sparked my interest in the thrill of genealogy research and the mysteries that need to be solved as to who we are and where did we come from. About eight years ago while we were stationed in Germany I started to find a new hobby during my husbands 15 month deployment. No it wasn't genealogy but writing stories for young children and collecting ideas for those stories. I would go on the Internet auctions and purchase old diaries, letters and photo albums of people I didn't know. Creepy to some I know but the information you get about real life adventures is so overwhelming. After a period of time I began to realize I wanted to know more about these families, what brought them to the places they were living at. What else is out there about them and there families and the adventures they were on, both good and bad. That was the switch that flipped on the genealogy light for me and it's been on ever since and I have no desire to turn that light off. There are so many wonderful things to learn about our history and the history of our families.  I continue to learn more about my own ancestors and I want to help others start their research, find those missing pieces and break down those Brick Walls.
     The desire to learn more, speak my mind, give helpful hints and help others is what brought me to this point with the idea of blogging. Thank you for viewing my blog and please make yourself at home, click around on my blog to see more, tell me what you think and watch for daily posting.