31 December 2013

Last Day Local: 12 Days of a Michigan Christmas

My daughter, Kirsten, and her mother-in-law, Leslie, have an annual tradition of attending the One of a Kind Show in Chicago, held at the Merchandise Mart.  Artists from all over North America show their wares and let shoppers find a truly, one of a kind gift.  I was the recipient of one of the artists, David Price, work, 'A Michigan Christmas' cotton towel. I love it.  It is beautiful enough to frame.

Here are the 12 Days of A Michigan Christmas and their meaning:

  1. A Partridge in a White Pine Tree:  The White Pine is Michigan's State Tree
  2. Two Bowls of Kellogg's:  Kellogg's is located in the Cereal City of Battle Creek, my hometown.
  3. Three Feet of Snow:  Yes, we do get a lot of snow.
  4. Four Great Lakes:  Lakes Michigan, Huron, Superior, and Erie touch the shores of Michigan. The fifth Great Lake, Ontario, does not.
  5. Five Gold Motown Records:  Motown Records was founded by Berry Gordy, Jr in Detroit, Michigan.  It was the record company of The Supremes, Smokey Robinson, Stevie Wonder, The Jackson 5, The Four Tops and many more.
  6. Six Cars a-Building:  Detroit is known as the Motor City and car manufacturing is an important part of Michigan's history.
  7. Seven Vernor's Ginger Ales a-Fizzing:  Vernor's Ginger Ale was invented in 1866 by James Vernor, a Detroit pharmacist.
  8. Eight Yoopers Dancing:  A Yooper is a nickname for someone living in the U.P. or Upper Peninsula of Michigan.
  9. Nine Tigers Batting:  The Detroit Tigers are Michigan's American League Baseball Team.
  10. Ten Cold Days in Hell:  Yes, there really is a Hell.  Hell, Michigan that is.
  11. Eleven Spartans and Wolverines Blocking:  This refers to the Michigan State Spartans and University of Michigan Wolverines Football teams.  
  12. Twelve Hockey Sticks a-slapping:  Michigan's beloved hockey team is the Detroit Red Wings. 

28 December 2013

Genealogy for Christmas: My Family is Getting the Message

I think my family is getting the message about how much I enjoy all things genealogy.  This year they gave me gifts that show their understanding of my obsession!

First, is one I don't think my daughter thought of as a genealogy gift, but that is how I plan to use it.  Every Monday I organize my week and this sticky note weekly calendar will come in handy.  I am going to use it to plan my blog posts, webinars and genealogy research.  I love organization and this will come in handy.

Next, is a book by Karen A. Clifford.  I put this on my wish list after her Legacy Family Tree Webinar on Pre 1850 U.S. Research Methodologies, last February. I used money that my parents gave me to purchase this.  I can't wait to sit down, read through it, and use the information to further my research.

I have wanted "My Brave Mechanics" by Mark Hoffman since I read about my 2nd Great Grandfather, Samuel S. Glover in it.  He was part of The First Michigan and Engineers Company and it gives an accounting of his gunshot wound. It is a great representation of the company and their role in the Civil War. My local library has this book, but it is not available for checkout, so I read bits of it every time I go.  I am so happy that my husband gave it to me for Christmas.

Did you receive any genea-gifts this Christmas?  Please share in the comments section, I may want to add them to my wish list for next year!

23 December 2013

German Symbolism at Christmas

I enjoy going to Christkindlmarket in Chicago at Christmastime and getting in touch with my German heritage. Christkindlmarket is set up much like a German Christmas market is.  It has delightful little shops selling everything from glass ornaments, to nutcrackers, to German baked goods, to wood carvings and more.

Cute wood carvings at Christkindlmarket in Chicago.

I went this year with my daughter, Kirsten, and thoroughly enjoyed it.  I bought a pickle!  I imagine many of you have heard about the legend of the Christmas Pickle.  I have never had one and thought it was time to add one to my heritage tree.  A German tradition is to hide a glass pickle in the Christmas tree.  On Christmas Day, everyone searches for the pickle.  The person who finds the pickle first, gets an extra gift.

Other symbolism of Christmas decorations can be found in ornaments.  The middle of the 19th century found Christmas trees decorated with glass Christmas balls and ornament figures.  These figures had a meaning of their own. It was a sign of their wishes and dreams.  The following is the symbolism of ornaments:

  • heart-symbol of love
  • teapot-hospitality
  • flower-beauty
  • fish-goods blessing
  • owl-symbol of wisdom
  • gift package-charity
  • bells-prevent bad luck
  • ladybug-talisman, mojo
  • rabbit-hope and faith
  • grape-friendship and sociability
  • nutcracker-get awareness
  • bird-joy and happiness
  • angel-protection and a blessed home
  • fruits-generosity and good harvest
  • Santa Claus-goodness and courtesy
  • pine cones-fertility and motherhood
  • house-shelter and protection
  • frog-upgrade and success in business
  • flower basket-good wishes
  • star-hope and a kind destiny  
How many of these symbols do you have on your tree?  I have a few.  I hope everyone has a blessed Christmas.

19 December 2013

Happy Birthday, Kirsten

My daughter, Kirsten, turns 30 years old this year.  It doesn't seem like it has been 30 years since she was born.  She grew into a beautiful, talented young women. One that today brings memories of her third birthday, in 1986.

Her celebration was a simple family dinner with Kirk and I.  We went to La Senorita Restaurant in Petoskey, Michigan.  We were living in Harbor Springs Michigan at the time, about nine miles from Petoskey.  Kirsten liked LaSenorita because it had a treasure chest of little toys and as she left she could pick one to take home.  The picture above is Kirsten at the restaurant with a cake provided by the restaurant. The staff sang Happy Birthday to her.

The day was spent quietly at home.  I was ninth months pregnant with a due date six days away.  Kirsten and I waited for Kirk to come home so she could open her presents. Once her gifts were opened we played with them for a little while and then went to dinner.

 I love the expression on Kirsten's face.

Kirsten playing with her train.
Everyone needs a pearl heart necklace to play trains with.

One of her favorite presents was a T.C. Timber wooden train set.  Harbor Springs had a wonderful toy store, Rocking Horse Toy Company, and they had a wooden train set up for the kids to play with.  Kirsten loved going to the toy store and she always played with the train.  We bought her a starter train set.  It had track pieces, a freight train, trees, and a couple of buildings.  She loved it.  We still have the train set.  Many additional pieces were purchased throughout the years.  It is a classic toy and one I had as much fun with as Kirsten.

"Putting make up on" with her Fisher Price Vanity Set, a birthday gift.  
It came with play nail polish, perfume, comb, bracelet with animal charms, 
a pearl necklace with heart pendant, headband, and a key to lock it up with. 

Kirsten opening a gift and a very pregnant mom folding her suspender outfit.  
Other gifts in picture includes a bear puzzle.

We didn't have a big party for Kirsten that year, but I remember how nice having dinner with just the three of us was.  It wouldn't be long before Kirsten would be a big sister.  Kirsten was very verbal at the age of three and I remember her talking a mile a minute as she opened her gifts.  She was very excited about the train set and vanity set.  Both of those toys were played with a lot.  Kirsten and I would put make up on each other and do each others' nails. We would spend hours playing with the train set.  It was fun to see the track configurations that Kirsten would come up with.  Good times and good memories.  Happy Birthday, Kirsten.

17 December 2013

Christmas in Ireland

I have very little Irish in me, but I channeled what I have on a cold, Sunday afternoon to make an Irish Basket o' Greens.  My friend, Donna, and I went to Southern Exposure, a herb farm outside of Battle Creek, for a delightful afternoon of eating good food and making a basket o' greens.

Lunch consisted of an authentic 18th Century Irish meal.  We had a stew made with tender beef, carrots and tiny potatoes served over mashed potatoes, a salad of shredded carrots, and a slice of apple pie with Irish cheese.  It was delicious.  I wonder if my great grandmother, Katherine McGee Watt, ever made Irish stew.

Next, was the making of the basket.  The Basket o' Greens represented an Irish greeting and is meant to be placed at your doorstep.  Southern Exposure does a wonderful job of explaining the materials used and their meaning.  The greens and materials selected had specific meanings to the Irish:

  • Yellow twig dogwood was thought to turn yellow upon the birth of Christ.
  • Holly leaves were believed to have curled on the birth of Christ and the red berries represented the blood of Christ.
  • Fresh lemon leaves were used in Ireland to cradle fruit, which during the holidays was a treat,
  • Boxwood was used throughout the United Kingdom as an evergreen.  It was used by the early churches and garland was made with it,
  • Red Velvet Bow represented the coming of Christ,
  • 3 apples represented the Trinity-Holy Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
My basket may not be an Irish masterpiece, but I enjoyed making it and it is waiting to welcome guests to my home.

As the Irish say, "Nollaig Shona Duit" or Merry Christmas!

16 December 2013

Christmas in Scotland

The Royal Standard of Scotland

Christmas trees, stockings, Santa Claus, gift giving, and nativity scenes are the sights of the Christmas season in the United States, but what are the custom and traditions of other countries?

This year I thought I would take a look at how my ancestors celebrated the holiday season.  What customs and traditions are found in the various countries my ancestors emigrated from?  My paternal great grandfather, David Watt, immigrated to the United States from Scotland in 1881.  I wonder what customs he brought with him to celebrate with his family.

If David Watt was to celebrate Christmas in the true Scotland tradition he would have gone to work that day!  It wasn't until 1958 that Scotland recognized Christmas as a holiday.  Before 1958, the Scottish people would go to work, go to church, have a Christmas dinner at home and the children would expect a gift from Santa Claus.

Christmas was known as Nollaig Beag or Little Christmas.  It was a solemn time, one to celebrate the birth of Christ.  The celebrations didn't begin until days later. The real Scotland celebration of the season was Hogmanay on New Year's Eve.  That was the time for a big celebration.

I am thankful that David Watt didn't pass the Scottish tradition of working on Christmas Day down to the family.  I enjoy celebrating Christmas with my family.

13 December 2013

Family Recipe Friday-Milk Chocolate Fudge

Milk Chocolate Fudge

Mix in a heavy 2 quart pan:
1 1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter
3/4 cup evaporated milk
1-7 ounce jar marshmallow topping
Bring to a boil, stirring constantly.  Reduce heat to medium when bubbles appear all over the top of the mixture.  Stir for 8 minutes.

Remove from heat and add 2 cups milk chocolate chips.  Stir until melted.
Add 1 teaspoon vanilla and 1 cup chopped nuts. Stir to combine.

Pour into greased 8" square pan.  Cool thoroughly.

A Christmas doesn't go by that someone in my family asks for me to make fudge. This is my go-to recipe for fudge.  I have been making this recipe since I was a teenager.  I got the recipe from my mom.  It is a recipe from Hershey's.  It is definitely a family favorite.  I have tried other recipes for fudge, but this is one I come back to year after year.  It has a smooth, creamy texture and is easy to make.

I have varied the recipe by substituting 2 cups mint chocolate chips for the milk chocolate ones.  I have added 2 Tablespoons Irish Cream Liqueur or 2 Tablespoons Raspberry Liqueur in place of the vanilla. I have made it with just about every kind of nut: walnuts, pecan, hazelnuts.  I sometimes make it without nuts.  It is a no-fail recipe.  I hope you enjoy it as much as my family does.

11 December 2013

Eli Fry-Son or Grandson of David Samuel Mast?

The 1880 United States Census for Walnut Creek, Holmes, Ohio citing sheet 429C, family 10, the household of David Mast lists an Eli Fry, age 2, as a son of David Mast.  Adopted is written in the column for profession. I was curious about this and wondered how Eli fit into the family.  I did a little research on Eli.

According to "Ohio, County Births, 1841-2003," index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1951-23099-39857-27?cc=1932106 : accessed 21 Nov 2013), > image 1 of 1, Elias Fry was born 14 September 1878 to Noah Fry and Christina Mast in Holmes County, Ohio.  

I knew that Christina Mast was the daughter of David Mast and Anna Nancy Livengood, but further research was needed.  I tried to find a marriage certificate for Noah Fry and Christina Mast and was unsuccessful.  Another search was done for a death record of Noah Fry and Christina Mast and Christina Fry with negative results. These findings added to my determination to learn more about Eli.

I have more questions than answers.  Did Noah Fry and Christina Mast ever marry? Why was Eli listed as adopted son of Christina's parents two years after his birth? No Christina was in the David Mast household in 1880.  There was a Dinah listed in the census, is Dinah Christina?  When did Christina and Noah die?

Even though I have more research to complete on Eli Fry, I know that Eli was the grandson of David Samuel Mast.  Was he adopted?  I have yet to prove that.

08 December 2013

Sunday's Obituary: Tully Daniel Fenn

Published 6 February 1939, unknown newspaper

Tully Daniel Fenn was born in Chelsea, Mich., February 26, 1859 and passed away Monday, February 6, 1939 at his home in Pennfield township at the age of 79 years, 11 months and 11 days.
            His early life was spent around Jackson where he married Mary Ella Blake, April 26, 1882. She passed away April 6, 1930. He had spent the last twenty-eight years at his Pennfield home.
            Those left to mourn his loss are two sons, Bert and Warren; three daughters, Mrs. Henry Darwin, Mrs. Ned Kay, Mrs. Edgar Thomas; one sister, Mrs. Hattie Glover of Munising; also eleven grand children.
            Funeral services will be held Wednesday afternoon at 2:30 o’clock at the Convis church with the Rev. John Foy and the Rev. V. J. Hafton officiating.  (Feb. 6, 1939)

The above obituary was found in Huldah Rowley Fenn's (Tully's grandmother) Family Bible, which is in the possession of Carol, the same woman who was responsible for me getting Hattie's Bible. Tully Daniel Fenn was the son of Daniel C. Fenn and Elizabeth Poor Fenn.  He was Hattie Fenn Glover's brother, my great granduncle.   

05 December 2013

Those Places Thursday: We Bought Our First House!

It wasn't long after the birth of our first child, Kirsten, that my husband and I decided it was time to move out of our small apartment and into a home.  We had to decide if we wanted to rent or buy. We looked at where we planned to be in ten years and came to the conclusion that we would stay in our small community of Deckerville.  We decided that buying a home would be the way to go.

We met with a realtor and went to see a few homes.  There wasn't much available to purchase in Deckerville.  We expanded our search to the nearby town of Sandusky, about 12 miles away.  We weren't finding what we were looking for until I saw an advertisement of a house for sale by owner.

 April 16, 1984  We always joked the "B" on the house was for Brenda, but it was for Block, the previous owners.  We took it down after we moved in.

2457 Maple Street, Deckerville, Michigan was a beautiful home on a corner lot, complete with a white picket fence.  We made an appointment to view the home.  It was a well maintained, two story, four bedroom, 1 1/2 baths house.  It was just what we were looking for.  We made an offer on the home, they countered, we countered again and it was ours!

It was a home that we could see out the living room window of the apartment we were living in. The move wouldn't be hard!   Also, I knew one of the owners of the home.  I had gone to high school with her.  Everything was falling into place.

We moved into our home in April of 1984, Kirsten was four months old.  We went from a cramped apartment to a home with lots of empty space. We would have fun filling it up.

The house had two big porches that went along the front and back of the house, the oval lead glass front door opened into a dining room, that we needed to furnish. The living room was to the left with a bedroom off of that.  We used this room as a den and later, a playroom.  The large kitchen was off the dining room.  A half bath was off of the kitchen.  The stairs led from the dining room up to three nice sized bedrooms. Another room that was too small to be a bedroom, became my sewing room, was at the end of the hall.  A full bath completed the second floor.  There were pull down stairs to an attic that ran the length of the house.  I loved everything about the house but the basement.  It was a Michigan basement, cold and damp.  I had to do laundry down there, but that was about it.

Kirk, Kirsten and Brenda on the front porch, July 1984

Although, we only lived in our home two and a half years, I have many memories of living here. It is where:

  • Kirsten celebrated her first birthday.
  • Kirsten learned to walk on the wood parquet floors of the living and dining rooms.
  • Kirk and I tested our skill at home improvements.  We painted the exterior, painted the kitchen and learned that if we wallpapered together, it would lead to a fight.
  • We entertained friends on snow days here.
  • I found out I was pregnant with our second child here.  I recovered from a miscarriage and grew more in love with Kirk for his support through this difficult time.
  • I found out I was pregnant for Travis.
  • I remember Kirsten would stand at the front window, waiting for Kirk to come home from school.  He would pull in the driveway and she would get so excited.  Kirk said all you could see was from her eyes up.
  • Kirk's parent's, Jim and Betty, brought the rocking horse to Kirsten and her squeals of delight as they pulled it out of their truck.
  • Kirsten crawled into a freshly painted pantry cupboard and ruined her brand new outfit.  She was so cute, I couldn't get mad.  She was 16 months old.
  • Kirk would build a tower with wood blocks and every morning Kirsten would come downstairs and knock it over, before she did anything else.
  • We grew in our early years of marriage, falling more in love with each other, having candlelight dinners, watching movies on DVD-a new invention, learning how to become parents, and being a family together.
  • We decided to move so Kirk could become an elementary counselor.
We didn't stay in Deckerville, like we thought we would, because Kirk had received his Master's degree in school counseling and elementary counseling jobs were opening up.  We decided if we were going to make a move, now would be the time. Kirk applied for numerous jobs and accepted a job offer in Harbor Springs, Michigan, 240 miles from Deckerville.  

We put our house on the market and waited, and waited.  We weren't able to sell it. Kirk had to move to Harbor Springs without Kirsten and I.  Eventually, my seven month pregnant self and Kirsten moved to Harbor Springs.  The house sat empty and it was tough making our house payment and our rent payment.  We decided to rent it to a teacher and her husband.  The spring rolled around and we accepted an offer on the house. One of the conditions of the sale was that the renters had to move out before they took possession. We gave our renters their notice and they moved out.  The buyers decided to back out of the purchase, sigh!, and we were left to put it back on the market.  Needless to say, we learned a lot about selling a house with our first try. Eventually, we sold it, but didn't recoup our down payment.  We were just glad to be able to sell it.

I loved that house and Kirk and I have always said we would have loved to have moved it, sans basement, because we wouldn't buy a house that big again.  I have fond memories of Deckerville and it was sad to leave good friends, but our family life was just beginning and their were many memories yet to be made.

03 December 2013

I Have a Genealogical Confession To Make

This morning I was adding a few facts to my Roots Magic database and I sinned.  I added an index, Dibean Michigan Marriage Index, as a source for the marriage of Frank H. Glover and Hattie Fenn.  One of the themes I heard at the FGS Conference in August was 'an index is not a source'. Now, before you quit reading this or call me out for my sin, let me explain.

I use my Roots Magic database as a research log of sorts.  I record all sources, whether I find information or not.  I record primary and secondary sources, original and derivative, and direct, indirect and even negative searches, and Indexes.  This is one of the reasons I like Roots Magic.  It allows me to evaluate my sources.  I can keep a record of where I have looked for information and whether I found what I was looking for or not.  It helps with where to look next.

I don't stop looking for sources once I find information in an index.  Usually, I will add a to-do item to my database.  For the above example, I would write, "Find the marriage record for Frank H. Glover and Hattie Fenn who were married 12 May 1882 in Jackson, Jackson, Michigan."  I might not have known the marriage date without the information from the index.

Once I had the information from the index, I knew I had to look for the marriage record in Jackson County, Michigan.  Eventually, I followed up on this 'to do' item and went to Jackson County and got a copy of their marriage record.  Additionally, I was fortunate to be gifted Hattie Fenn Glover's Family Bible and the original marriage certificate was in the Bible.  In this case, the information in the index was accurate.  This isn't always the case.  That is why it is important to follow up on the index information by looking for the original record.

Technically, an index is not a source, but I still record it as one.  I think where researchers go wrong is when they rely on an index as the only source.  It is like an index in a book.  It is there to help you find what you are looking for, the original record in this case.  It is important to find a primary, original source when possible. An index is a way to start you on the path to that primary source.

What do you think?  Do you record indexes as a source?