Sunday, August 31, 2008


We left Yoder's Farm and drove back to Walnut Creek, Ohio to a
restaurant that Louise and Steve knew called Der Dutchman. Even
though it was mid-afternoon on a Monday, there was a line of diners
formed up on the porch waiting to get inside! It was a mild day and
we were outside and under the shade of the porch so the wait was
fairly pleasant as we talked and after perhaps 20 minutes we were
inside and seated. I ordered a hamburger (which tasted great) and
french fries (also tasty and a good size serving). I should mention here
that in my younger days going to science fiction conventions I had
adopted a "no experiments" with food policy on trips and I usually
stuck to eating meals that wouldn't come back to haunt me later, so
to speak, and it worked very well on this trip.

Der Dutchman's dining room was lined with large bay windows and
even though we were not sitting next to them we still could see
a hawk that glided by several times, probably hunting food in the
valley behind the restaurant. All in all, it was a pleasant meal, with
good food and good service, and I recommend Der Dutchman as a
good place to dine if you are the area.

After we'd finished, Steve went to get the car and Cheryl and Louise
visited the restaurant's bakery while I went around back to take a
few pictures of the valley behind the restaurant, which are at the top
of this post. I bet the view is even prettier when the leaves turn in a
few more weeks!

Our next stop was the Wendell August Forge and Gift Shop in
Berlin, Ohio. The company has been in business for about 80 years
and is famous for hand-hammered aluminum items. Their main
location is in Pennsylvania but the Berlin shop has a working forge
(which was not in use on our visit). It also has a model train that runs
around the beam overhead, a coin operated player piano, a small
amphitheater showing a film on the history of the company, and my
favorite, the world's largest Amish buggy! There is also a wide
selection of finely crafted items for sale and I bought a keychain
for my younger brother Phil. While the others did a bit more shopping
I went out on the shop's front porch and watched several Amish folk
pass by in buggies and bikes and enjoyed the weather.

We made a few more stops at stores on the way back to the motel,
including one in the town of Sugar Creek(I think.) where the buildings
in town have Swiss chattel style exteriors that reflect the origins of the
towns' early settlers. I have to confess that by now my knee was
bothering me so I stayed in the car and enjoyed the sunroof. (I probably
spent more time outdoors during this vacation than I have in years and
missed it when I went back to work at the store when we got home.)

Louse and Steve dropped us off back at our motel after a day that had
been fun and relaxing but we would see them later that night at Aunt
Dot's house where we had lasagna and garlic bread for dinner. Diana
and Gary were there as were Dot's grandchildren Brian and Anya and
Anya's three boys, so there were four generations of the family sitting
down for dinner that night. After dinner Dot and Diana gave me copies
of the photos I'd been interested in the night before and I was able to
give Dot some information about our Houghton line.

After dinner, plans were made for us to meet up at Gary and Diana's
house the next morning and Cheryl and I headed back to our motel
after a great day of sightseeing and visiting with the family.

Saturday, August 30, 2008


A little end of the workday fatigue has slowed down my posting
of the next parts of the Road Trip series but I plan to buckle
down this weekend and finish them. I did take the time to
backup this blog with a mirror site at Wordpress after reading
about how Cheryl Shulte's Two Sides of the Ocean blog
disappeared. Having 370+ blog post going "poof" on me is not
something I want to experience, so now I have insurance.

Meanwhile, this article about a misplaced gravestone might
interest you

Monday, August 25, 2008


Monday morning our cousin Louise and her husband Steve
met Cheryl and I at our motel (I have to put in a good word
for the Comfort Inn in Dover, Ohio. Nice place, and I could
really get into the idea of continental breakfasts for the rest
of my life.) Louise had sent us an email before the trip with
some of the local points of interest and we'd picked a trip to
Yoder's Amish Home, an Amish working farm that gives tours
of the site. Louise and Steve had a few other ideas as well so
he plan was to sightsee a bit and then go out to Aunt Dot's
house that night for a family dinner.

Now I need to back track a little here. A few days before the
trip I'd twisted or pulled something in my knee so I spent
most of the trip limping and dreading walking up or down
stairs. The ironic part was that once I was up and moving on
it, it was less painful. So my mobility was not what it usually
is for some of the trip. PlusI'm not a big fan of stairs.

Steve drove while we caught up a little on family news. We
passed the spot where my Dad's car had broken down near a
brick factory on a visit back in the 70's that I'd missed while
spending the summer as a camp counselor. Cheryl pointed
out the spot where they'd sat while waiting for it to be
repaired. Once again I was impressed by the scenery:
meadows or corn fields stretching over rolling hills, herds of
cows and horses. And this was the heart of Holmes County
with the largest Amish population in the country. We saw
some in the traditional horse and buggys but there were
also Amish men riding bicycles. I am still wondering how
they keep their hats on!

We got to Yoder's at around 11am. They offer guided tours
and/or buggy rides for a price and have a giftshop which we
browsed in while waiting for our tour to begin. Our guide was
an older Amish woman dressed in traditional Amish clothes
and once we were all assembled she led us up to the two
old houses that were open to the public. We paused by the
garden before we entered the older house which was built
about the time that my ancestors John Cutter West and
Arvilla Ames were married and starting a family back in
Maine. I was struck by the thought that their home might
have resembled this Amish home in many ways while
differing in others due to the Maine climate and other factors.
We then walked down a steep flight of stairs from the porch
to make our way over to the "new" house.

Did I mention that I hate stairs?

The second house was built around the 1860's and is a bit
larger. Some adaptations had been made to modern technology,
such as battery powered lights. The house also is the farm
bakery and there was bread and cookies being made even as
we took the tour. While the rest of the group went up another
steep flight of stairs, I went back out onto the front porch
and talked a bit with another tourist, a lady from West Virginia,
as we watched two hawks circling above the fields near the
buggy ride. Then the group came back downstairs and we
joined them in the summer kitchen where I bought a peanut
butter cookie and a brownie to snack on later.

The house tour concluded, we made out way over to the barn
where some of the others in our group discovered that barns,
being what they are, smell. There were sheep, pigs, goats,
ducklings, puppies and horses of various sizes and ages,
including two huge workhorses that looked like they'd put a
lot of work in at plowing over the years. Outside there were
several dogs and puppies a kitten, and one cat that had
greeted us on our arrival as we stepped out of the car by
allowing us to pet it as humans are supposed to pet cats.
There was also a tom turkey with his hen and if one of the
group got too close the tom would puff out his chest and
spread his tail feathers which made him a perfect ad for
Thanksgiving dinner. A Spanish lady seemed determined
to pat him but eventually gave up after much puffing and
hissing from the bird.

All in all, it was an interesting tour and I recommend it for
any of my readers who might be in the Holmes County area.
But our day wasn't over yet and we were off to our next
destination: lunch!

To be continued.....

Sunday, August 24, 2008


Well, my predated blog entries posted today while I was
at work, so I guess I fixed them right! One of them
is also my entry in the next CoG so I killed two birds
with one stone on that one.

I'm going to post the next part of my Road Trip memories
tomorrow. It's going to be a longer series of posts than I
originally thought but there is a lot to tell about, after all!

Meanwhile, here's an interesting story involving another
sort of Pilgrim Rock on Cape Cod.

Saturday, August 23, 2008


These are some photos I took at Yoder's farm. The bedroom
and kitchen are part of the original farmhouse built back in the
1830's. The country side in the area is beautiful as I've already
commented several times. But hey, it's true!

The waterpump stands between the old house and a newer one
built around 1860. If you look carefully you can see the old boot
being used as a planter holder. There were several of these also
among the flowers and bushs around the house.

Cheryl took pictures as well and got some great shots and I might
ask her if I can post them here.


This is one of the copies of family photos that Aunt Dot gave to
me when my sister and I visited her last week. It shows a
Barker Family Reunion at "Gibsons Grove at Norway Lake in
1896 ". A Google Search found that Gibson Grove is at Lake
Pennesseewassee in Norway, Oxford County, Maine which is
the area my Barker family ancestors hail from.

At the center of the first picture sit my great-great grandparents
Amos Hastings Barker and Betsy Jane (Moore) Barker while
gathered about them are their children and grandchildren.
The second image is of a letter sent to my Aunt Dorothy by a
Judy Barker who identifies the people in the photo as follows:

"First row children only L. to R. Everett Smith, Fannie and
Natalie Barker (Arthur's girls) Eva Smith (twin to Everett)
Merton Wyman,, Asa Smith, Oneal Mills.

Second row L to R. Fred and Leila Skinner, Amos Sr. holding
Bessie and Ella Skinner, Mable Wyman in back, Amy Mills in
front, Betsy Jane Barker holding Ervin Mills, Melinda and
Smith dau Alice between them, Arthur Barker.

Third Row L. to R. Earl Barker his sister Charlotte, Dora and
John Wyman, Olivia and Amos Barker jr. Mary and Zenas
Mills, Florence and Eben Barker, Gipsy wife of Arthur Barker.
John Barker was not in the picture."

Arthur's wife's first name is listed here as Gipsy but I've found
it on the 1900 and 1910 Federal Census images at
as Gypsey. Interestingly enough, the transcription of the 1900
census gives her the name "Gregory"!

My great grandmother Charlotte didn't marry her cousin
Frank Barker (son of Nathaniel S. Barker)until two years after
this reunion but even if he were present it seems only Amos
and Betsy's immediate family posed for the picture.

Amos Hastings Barker Sr. died 5 Nov 1907 at age 79.
Betsy Jane Moore Barker died 12 Mar 1924 at age 83.

So at the time of the reunion they were 68 and 54 years old

It's great to be able to put faces with names, and thanks to
my Aunt Dot, I can do that now with many of my Barker

ADDENDUM: I've been looking at this picture a bit more since
posting it and the two top hats (one belonging to Arthur Barker
and the other to Eben Barker) has me wondering about their
owners' occupations. It would seem they might have been men of
means if those ahts are any indication. And at first I thought
that John Wyman in the back row was smiling but on a closer look
it's just the way his mustache frames the mouth.


Category: "Write, Write, Write!" -completed. all five

A. "Write a summary of what your blog is about and post
it on your blog." Check!

B. "Participate in a genealogy or family history related blog
Check! And I've put it in pre-publish status to be posted on
Sunday Aug 25 at 1pm to partially comply to

C. "Prepare several posts in draft mode (if possible with your
blog platform) and pre-publish." Check. Although I had to
reschedule the first prescheduled post when I realized I'd
goofed in setting the date and time.

D. Write a brief biographical sketch of one of my ancestors.
Check. Posted a brief biography of Amos Hastings.

E. Volunteer to host a future blog carnival.
Check. I emailed both Tim and Lisa and I'm taking a turn
on hosting the Carnival of Irish History and Culture in
late October or early November.,

Reach Out & Perform Genealogical Acts of Kindness!
Completed 4.

A. Comment on a new (to you) genea-blog. Check. Although
Debra Sandstrom Fleming doesn't have a comments
application, I emailed her with my thoughts on her post on
The Ancestry Detective, "When Genealogy Gets Ugly."

B. Join another genea-blogger’s blog network on Facebook
Blog Networks.
Check. Joined the Crowes Nest, Ancestry Detective, Ancestor
Search and GeneaNet Genealogy Blog networks.

C. Invite other genealogists to join Facebook.
Check. I extended the invitation to Debra in my email.
I really like her writing and I'm hoping she'll join a Carnival
as well.

D. Assist another researcher with a research request or
See AnceStories "Random Acts of Kindness Week"
posts for
ideas for this..."

Check. I shared the Barker Family photos with three
Barker cousins which comes under the "sharing data" label
I think of Miriam's list. Maybe. I hope.

So, my final tally is a platinum medal for "Write Write
and a Diamond Medal for "Reach Out and Perform
Genealogical Acts
of Kindness."

Friday, August 22, 2008


Amos Hastings was born in Haverhill, Essex Co. Ma. on 3 Feb,
1757, the sixth child of John Hastings and his wife Rebecca
Bailey. Rebecca died around 1758 when Amos was 12 years
old and his father remarried, so that Amos eventually had
another 7 siblings.

During the Revolution Amos was present at Bunker Hill but
didn't take part in the battle(he dug trenches the night before)
and at General Burgoyne's surrender.(I'll go into more detail
when I discuss his Revolutionary War Veteran Pension Request

Amos married Elizabeth Wiley(also known as Wyley) in
Haverhill, Ma. or Fryeburg, Me. on 10 Sept 1778 and shortly
after they moved to Sudbury, Canada, which eventually become
Bethel, Maine. They had 8 children, 7 of whom survived to
adulthood. The image of the 1790 census I found on
shows Amos with three males under 18 and four females in his
household. The 1800 census adds one more male child to the

Amos was a major player in Bethel right from the start. His
farm was the location of the first town meeting on 15 Aug 1796.
And when a state militia company was formed in 1810, Amos
Hastings was named its colonel and commander. He is often
referred to as "General" but that must have been a rank he
achieved in the militia, not during the Revolution since it is
not mentioned in the Pension request.

Amos Hastings died 28 Jul 1829 and Elizabeth never remarried.
The earliest record that I've seen of her applying for Amos'
pension as widow is dated 1839 and apparently it was a long
fight to get the money. So long, in fact, that she died before
she ever saw a cent, for she passed away 12 May, 1846.
The government finally granted the pension to the surviving
children of Amos and Elizabeth Hastings on 16 Sept 1851.


Umm, well, it appears I had more time to catch up on the GBG
than I thought, since the deadline is Saturday noon and not
Friday noon. I've added a second predated post, this one a
small pictorial one on Yoder's Farm that should post at 1pm

That leaves only Part D, a brief biographical sketch of an
ancestor to complete all medal levels in the "Write Write
Write" Games category.

And I have been write, write, writing, for sure! Counting this
post and the two predated posts I've done 8 in the last 24
hours! I'm hoping to have my "Road Trip" memories done
by Saturday night.

At any rate, I'm done for the day!

Thursday, August 21, 2008


Sunday afternoon we met up with my cousin Diana and her
husband Gary at their house in New Philadelphia before
going on to Aunt Dot's place. Gary showed us the project he is
working on, building a wooden body on the frame of an old
Model A Ford which had belonged to my grandfather, Floyd
West Sr. He already has restored another Model A which sits
in the garage next to the new project. I wish I had that sort
of talent, because that is what Gary has!

We rode up to Aunt Dot's house at Ulrichsville in Diana's
SUV. The house is set up in a hilly area and it reminded me of
Maine. Aunt Dot was waiting for us along with her great
grandson Dawson who is a great kid. It was good to see Dot
again and talk with her, and pretty soon we started talking
genealogy. She showed me pictures of some of our Barker and
West ancestors as well as a few more recent ones I'd
never seen before, such as one of me at around 7 years old
in a cowboy outfit. I had brought along some information on
our relative Daniel Ellingwood's involvement in a early 19th
century manhunt in New Hampshire and we talked a bit
about our Laughton line while Cheryl and Diana played with
Dawson and visited. I was glad I'd brought along my genealogy
research because I was able to give Dot something in return
for all the information she's given me over the years.

Eventually we had to stop because dinner was ready and
Dawson's mom Anya had arrived with her other sons, Ethan
and Gaven. Dinner was ham, chicken, potato salad, and corn
on the cob and it tasted great! We talked about plans for the
following day and then Diana drove us back to her house and
took us by Tuscora Park in New Philadelphia, which has a
mini roller coaster, a carousel, and a Ferris wheel. All of it
is maintained and operated by the city and it was clean and
neat. I bet the local kids have a lot of fun there.

We picked up Cheryl's SUV and headed back to our motel
to rest because the next day was going to be a busy one.


Alright, so far on the Genea-Blogger Games Last Minute
Catchup Marathon:

Category: "Write, Write, Write!"
A. "Write a summary of what your blog is about and post
it on your
blog." Check!

B. "Participate in a genealogy or family history related blog
Check! And I've put it in pre-publish status to be posted on
Sunday Aug 25 at 1pm to partially comply to

C. "Prepare several posts in draft mode (if possible with your
blog platform) and pre-publish." Still have to do one more.

D. Write a brief biographical sketch of one of my ancestors.
Not yet. Might still get it done before bedtime,.

E. Volunteer to host a future blog carnival.
Check. I emailed both Tim and Lisa but haven't heard back
as yet.

Category: "Reach Out & Perform Genealogical Acts of
Kindness "

So far, part B, having joined several genealogy blog networks
over the last few days, including the Crowes Nest, Ancestry
Detective, Ancestor Search and GeneaNet Genealogy Blog

And I shared my new Barker Family photographs with three
of my distant Barker cousins, so that might fulfill part E, but
I'll bow to the decision of the judges on that one.

Still a few hours to go, but my fingers are ready to fall off,
so I'm taking a break!


Part of the Genea-Blogger Games category called "Write,
Write, Write!" is a summary of what my blog is about. I'm
not too sure I can do a coherent job of it but I'll give it a shot.

The heading below the blog title includes the line:

"A blog about genealogy and thoughts about the various
roots and
branches of my family tree as well as the times
in which my ancestors

I wrote that the day I began "West in New England" and while
it's a fairly succinct description of what this blog was intended
to be, it's become a bit more since then. My goal was to
preserve and share what I know or discover my family's
genealogy but that now has expanded to include my memories
of my immediate family, of growing up and living, and of some
of the things that I like or dislike.(Such as the previous "Tunes"
post inspired by Tim Abbott's meme.) Now as I grow older,
I want to leave stories that my niece and nephews can have
about myself and my parents, because I have come to realize
how little I know about my mother's parents and their side of
the family and wish that I knew more.

When I share what I find out about my ancestors, I try to put
it in the context of the times they lived in, and to put into
words my thoughts on how events might have affected them,
such as when I posted about my grandfather's service at
Camp Devens during the Great Spanish Influenza Outbreak of
1918, or about the diptheria outbreak in Maine in 1861 which
claimed the lives of six West children and of Orpha Reynolds
West, first wife of my ancestor Jonathan Phelps West. I try to
blend genealogy with family history because my ancestors were
not just names and dates but living, breathing people with
hopes and dreams and stories to tell and I want to pass some
of that on to others.

This blog has also become a way to reach out to those who
might share some of my ancestry and exchange information
with them. I've made contacts with distant cousins I didn't
know I had, some of whom are numbered among my fellow
genealogy bloggers.

And finally, it's become a way to socialize with an expanding
community of genealogy bloggers and learn more about their
research and their families, as well as to have fun with them
in the various carnivals or challenges. I'd never have had to
come up with all those genealogically related (sorta) uses for
flutaphones, for example, if I hadn't met Janice Brown (one
of those cousins I mentioned) via her blog!

So that's what this blog has become in the year and a half and
the 360 posts since I've been at it. It's been a lot of fun and
I hope my readers have had fun reading it!


It all started last Christmas when my sister Cheryl casually
said that she and I should go on vacation together this summer.
I said okand we set the second week in August as the date for
our "road trip". The only problem was that at first I had no
idea where we were going. Cheryl has driven around quite a bit
of the country and my car Ping was not up to the trip, so we
were going to use Cheryl's SUV and she was going to be doing
the driving. Anytime I asked where we might be going, she'd
tell me she hadn't decided yet. But finally in July she told me
we'd be going out to Ohio to visit my Aunt Dorothy and her
family so that I could bring along any genealogy material I
might want to show Aunt Dot.

We actually left on Friday night, August 8th. Cheryl picked me
up at the bookstore after work around 6pm and we set off to
get on the Mass. Pike for the New York and then into
Connecticut. The plan was to drive as far as we could before
finding a motel for the night and then continue on the next day,
arriving in Ohio around 5 or 6 pm. Unfortunately, Friday night
traffic was worsened by a heavy thunderstorm so it took longer
than usual to get out of Massachusetts. But we had some snacks
with us and sang along to a Tom Petty cd and eventually we
escaped the rain.

We stopped for dinner at a McDonald's in Connecticut around
10:30 which was right next door to another Borders bookstore
and then went on until we finally made it to Pennsylvania some
time after midnight. Cheryl has a GPS device in her Pilot and
used it to find a motel off the highway but when we exited all
we found was the hotel sign. Driving further into the town we
ended up in a large empty dirt parking lot and decided that
there had to be another motel further along the highway so
we got back on as the GPS kept "recalculating". (Cheryl says
that the voice sounds exasperated when it says "recalculating"
and I have to agree with her!) . When we reached the motel in
Scranton, the one we stopped at was full and the clerk told
Cheryl our best bet for a room was maybe 10 miles away
in Wilkes-Barre. We ended up in a Red Roof Inn sometime
around 2:30 am Saturday.

Next morning there was a great view of the countryside from
the motel and after checking out we headed for my first
breakfast at a nearby Crackerbarrel Restaurant. We checked
the Comfort Inn and Triple A guides for attractions and Cheryl
found something that interested her, a tour of a coal mine that
was 300 ft below the surface. It didn't really appeal to me
(Ok, I said "I'll be below the ground soon enough, thanks!")
and it became a running gag when we talked about the trip
with the family during the trip. Cheryl says she's going to take
me white water rafting next year instead. Yikes!

Eventually we made it back on the road and crossed more
mountains (the Poconos I believe) which had spectacular
views of the farms and towns below. There were quite a few
hawks but we also saw at least four deer that had been
struck and killed along the highway. After a stop for lunch and
a few "pit stops" we finally pulled into Dover, Ohio around
7pm Saturday night. Our reservations were at the Comfort Inn
but we stopped for dinner first at Applebee's. It was interesting
to see Amish and Mennonite diners there because when I'd
visited Pennsylvania Amish country twenty-five years earlier
I don't recall seeing them in a restaurant like Applebee's. The
food was good and we headed off to the motel to settle in for
the night before beginning our visit with the family the next


Tim Abbott over at Walking the Berkshires came up with a
meme on "The Music of My Salad Days" about the music that
influenced us in some way in our younger days.

Well, the first thing I recall is the log drums in the
...just kidding.

Ok, I'm a child of the `50 and `60's. My preteen and early
teen years I watched American Bandstand and listened to
WMEX 1510 on the AM dial out of Boston(Arnie Ginsberg
and the Night Train Show! Woo Woo!) In those days, Elvis
was King of course, but Roy Orbison and the Everley
Brothers were my favorite singers.

Along came the 1960's, high school and then college. Most of
these albums I bought in cassettes (still have most of them)
when I finally bought them, and when I did it was because of
specific songs on them:

Rubber Soul
Hard Day's Night
Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band

Hey, it's the Beatles! Do I really need to say anything more?

Days of Future Passed
In Search of the Lost Chord
Moody Blues

"Nights in White Satin" is still one of my all time favorite songs.
And the Lost Chord's "Ride My Seesaw" is another.

Between the Buttons
Beggars Banquet
The Rolling Stones
"Ruby Tuesday" from Buttons and "Street Fighting Man" and
"Sympathy for the Devil" from Banquet

Sounds of Silence
Simon & Garfunkel
"I Am a Rock"

Crosby, Stills and Nash
"Suite Judy Blue Eyes". "Marrakesh Express" and "Guinevere"

If You Can Believe Your Eyes and Ears
The Mamas ands the Papas
"California Dreamin"

Time Peace: The Rascal's Greatest Hits
"Good Lovin", "Groovin"

Yep, I'm a rock and roll dinosaur. And even though I turned
60 yesterday, I still crank up the volume when any of those
songs or many others come on the car radio.

As one of my former coworkers told me once, "Gotta have
my tunes when I'm driving!"


Ever have one of those times where you have so many things
to do you sort of freeze? That's where I am right now on this
blog. I have my vacation to blog about(at least 2, perhaps 3
posts), the Genea-Blogger's Games "events" I signed up for
before vacation, and several memes and carnivals on deck as


Speaking of carnivals, I'm a bit late in posting that the 54th
Carnival of Genealogy
is posted over at Donna Pointkouski's
What's Past is Prologue. Lots of great articles on the nicknames,
sayings and catchphrases peculiar to each genealogy blogger's
family. Great job putting it all together, Donna.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to get to sleep to run a
genealogy blog marathon tomorrow.

Sunday, August 17, 2008


Well, this has been a week for surprises and I just
got another one!

Terry Thornton of Hill Country of Monroe County,
Mississippi sent me an email tonight to let me know
I've been added to the category of genealogy
blogs. describes it self as a "digital magazine
rack" of blogs on all topics on the Internet. I'm deeply
honored to be included in the category with so many of
my Genea-Blogger friends.

Now I just need to get moving on posting my account
of my vacation and catch up on the Genea-Blogger
Games! I think I need to get some sleep because it's
going to be a very busy day tomorrow.

Ah, the pressure!

Saturday, August 16, 2008


Well, I'm back home after a week's vacation, most of which
was a great visit with my Aunt Dot, and my cousins Diana
and Louise and their husbands Gary and Steve.We saw the
Ohio Amish country, saw some really beautiful countryside,
and ate some great food.

Oh yes, Aunt Dot and I talked some genealogy. I got to see
her collection of family pictures and Aunt Dot gave me copies
of some of them.(Thanks Diana for the scanning!). I'd brought
my printed family groups and family trees and a copy of a
story I'd found about an Ellingwood relative so I was able
add some things to Dot's already extensive research but
it was a drop in the bucket compared to what she's given me
over the years.

Then the last night in Ohio they surprised me with a
birthday cake and some gifts, which I will describe in
the posts to follow but I will say that I was given something
that I never expected and I will always be be grateful
for it.

After Ohio we swung down through Washington DC
ostensibly to see some of the monuments but I was
surprised again by a visit with Stacy, a online rp friend
of nearly 11 years now, which she and my sister had
been planning for months now!

Speaking of my sister, I owe Cheryl a big thank you for
driving me around all over creation and for planning
all this with Dot, Diana, and Louise in Ohio and with
Stacy in Washington. I think this has been in the works
since around Christmas, when Cheryl said to me "Let's
go on vacation together." I never had a clue what she and
the others were up to!

Love you, Cheryl.

So, you'll be seeing a few posts in the next day or so about
the visits, the traveling, the rainstorms, coal mines in
Pennsylvania and other happenings that are now family

Friday, August 08, 2008


Both my Mom and Dad had their favorite catchphrases that
we heard many times as we grew up.

One of the earliest I recall is "as the crow flies". This
supposedly dated back to when my parents were first married
and lived for a short while "uphome" in Maine. They were
driving someplace and Dad stopped to ask someone by the
side of the road how far it was to where they were going and
the man answered it was so many miles "as the crow flies".
Another phrase she heard was "up the road apiece".
My Mom, a city girl, thought these were highly illogical
descriptions and for years after whenever we were going
somewhere and we kids asked how much further we had to
go, Dad would say "Up the road a piece" and Mom would add
"as the crow flies."

During the CB era, my folks' "handles" matched in a way.
Dad was "Farmer Brown" and Mom was "Mother Nature".
Some of her conversations with other travelers or with
truckers inevitably lead to "It's not nice to fool with Mother

And a few times when one of us was going out somewhere with
friends we'd get Mom's "If you get into a car accident and hurt,
I'll kill you."

But the one I first heard Dad use and that I use myself now
was his euphemism for a trip to the bathroom: "I'm going to
visit the Fortress of Solitude." We have headphones at my
job and whenever I need to take a bathroom break I tell the
floor manager "I need to visit the Fortress of Solitude." In
fact, it's now used by several other of my coworkers as well.

I think Dad might gave gotten a kick out of that!

UPDATE 08/10: I thought of this one today while on my
vacation. Dad occasionally amswered the phone with:
"Kelley's Pool Hall." Many times whoever was calling would
say "Sorry, wrong number!", hang up and then dial our
number again and Dad would answer it again but normally.
Some of my friends never caught on to Dad's trick!

Thursday, August 07, 2008


Geneabloggers are hearty and active souls and with the
Summer Olympic Games coming up, it's only natural that
there are the 2008 Genea-Blogger Games. You can read
about them here at Miriam Robbins Midkiff's AnceStories

While I plan to participate, it might be in a last minute rush
as I leave on vacation this Friday night. Let's pretend I'm
training elsewherebefore my event like the Olympians are
doing. I plan to compete in the "Write, Write, Write" category
and the "Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness" category as
well as time permits when I return in a week.

One thing's for sure: there should be plenty of interesting reading
from the participating geneabloggers!

Wednesday, August 06, 2008


Welcome to the Geneablogger's Picnic! Come on, find a table
and a shady spot to set up in, then mingle with your fellow
geneabloggers and sample some of their family recipes.

Let me show you around.

You'll notice a lot of us are humming or singing the song Terry
Thornton wrote called "The Geneabloggers' Picnic". You can
pick up a copy of the lyrics at the Hill Country of Monroe
County picnic table. Terry will tell you all about his first picnic
where he met the boy who would be his life long friend.

There's plenty of space available in the shade of the trees but
I highly recommend spending a few moments visiting with
your fellow picnickers along the way to listen to and swap
memories of picnics and cookouts

Here's Terry Snyder of The Desktop Genealogist. Try one of
her mustard pickles made from her grandmother's recipe.

And over there is Schelly Talalay Dardashti of Tracing the
Tribe who has vivid memories of family picnics in New York
and in Teheran.

Be sure to ask Colleen of The Oracle of OMcHodoy to show
you her pictures of picnics featuring members of the families
make up the OMcHodoys.

Now Laura from Life at the Home20 will tell you she doesn't
much care for picnics but she'll also tell you about some of her
family's recipes. Her grandmother's goulash reminds me of
my Dad's version of that dish!

Watch out when you pass Jasia of Creative Gene's picnic table.
Beware of water balloons and squirt gun battles, much like the
ones she recalls in her memories of Summer picnics.

Jessica of Jessica's Genejournal has kept her picnic setup
basic much like when her family went out for a picnic.

Randy Seaver of Genea-Musings is in charge of ingredients
for S'mores. He had more cookouts than picnics as a youngster
andI bet he developed a wicked serve in Ping Pong!

Thomas MacEntee of Destination: Austin Family is another
whose family held cookouts more than picnics. You will find
him over that way and he might give you his recipe for
baked beans if you ask him.

And Janet Iles of Janet the researcher brought her pistachio
salad. You can listen to her memories of childhood picnics and
reunions while you sample her recipe.

The footnoteMaven is in charge of the watermelon and you
can find her over there, but whatever you do, don't mention
chicken's feet!

There's Becky at kinnexions serving up fried chicken like the
chicken served at her family picnics and reunions.

Oh, stop by the table of Bob Frank of the Itawamba History
Review. He's brought along a worn and tattered picnic basket
that holds a lot of memories.

Miriam Robbins Midkiff of AnceStories has brought along
some of her family's favorite foods and I think she and Thomas
were comparing their baked bean recipes a little earlier.

Wendy Littrell of All My Branches will be showing some of the
kids how to make forts out of empty picnic tables the way she
did when her family picnicked through the summer in their

Lori Thornton, the Smoky Mountain Family Historian, is over
here reminiscing about vienna sausages and roadside picnics.

Laura from Looking4Ancestors will let you sample a drink
called Freshie while telling you about the picnics her family
went on at Point Pelee National Park in Ontario, Canada.

And Debra Osborne Spindle of All My Ancestors is over there
under the shade recounting memories of meals served outdoors
during the wheat harvest in the very hot Texas Panhandle.

My table is over there under the shade of the trees much like the
picnic at Plymouth I remember from childhood. Try some of the
Lemon Meringue pie.

Finally, let me introduce you to Sheri Fenley who has some great
memories of picnics on an airplane in a sandpit!

So, welcome to the Geneablogger's Picnic! It's nice to see so
many of you here, and don't forget to sign up for the sack race,
egg toss, and wheelbarrow races! Janice Brown will be directing

And remember, genealogists picnic in the shade of their family trees!

Sunday, August 03, 2008


Laura at Life at the Home20 has tagged me with the Blogger
Friends Forever award which is making the rounds of we
genealogy bloggers. Now I get to pass it on to five other folks!

The rules for passing on the award are:

1. Only five people are allowed to receive the award.

2. Four of them must be followers of your blog.

3. One has to be new to your blog and live in another part of
the world.

4. You must link back to whoever gave you the award.

Hmm. Well, I wouldn't say they are "followers" but I know
they read my blog. So, I'm tagging:

1 Janice Brown at Cow Hampshire.

2 Tim Abbott at Walking the Berkshires

3 Lisa at Small-leaved Shamrock

4 Apple from Apple's Tree

5 M. Diane Rogers from CanadaGenealogy, or 'Jane's Your Aunt'

I nominated Janice, Tim, and Apple because they are some
of the first geneabloggers I interacted with, and they are nice
people. Janice and Tim are distant cousins of mine, so
I'm keeping it in the family. I chose Lisa because her blog on
Irish genealogy has gotten me to think more about my Irish
roots. And Diane lives on the opposite side of the continent in
Canada, so I think it fits that 3rd rule, sortta.

Irregardless of the rules, they are all nice folks and I enjoy
reading their blogs!

Saturday, August 02, 2008


When our family moved to Boston we left a two family house
with a big backyard to live in a triple decker apartment house
with a very small backyard. Cookouts weren't possible there
nor was cooking on a charcoal grille on the back porch of a
wooden building.(I still shake my head when I see news
reports about house fires started by a grille on the porch.)
So occasionally our folks would take us out somewhere
for a swim and a picnic. These excursions weren't as frequent
as visits to Aunt Peggy's cottage at Hough's Neck and took
place over 50 years ago now, so I've only a few memories of
those picnics. Some of them took place at a statepark at
Stoneham, I think, and one or two at Hougton's Pond in
Milton. And there was one very memorable picnic at a beach
in Plymouth with some of the relatives from Mom's side of
the family.

Besides my parents, my sister and myself, there were my
Uncle Ed and Aunt Emily and their kids, my mom's cousin
Anna Bruno, her husband Ralph and their daughters, and
my Granduncle Tommy McFarland and Grandaunt Frances,
Tommy's wife. We set up on a stretch of grass at the back
edge of the parking lot where there was shade and a picnic
table and a bandstand we could clamber around on. Somebody
brought along a charcoal grille and we had hot dogs and
hamburgers, and there was lemonade in a big jug for us kids.
Although I can't spot any beer bottles in these pictures I
wouldn't be surprised if the adults had kept them in the
cooler and poured them into paper cups to avoid detection.
The dog in the photo didn't belong to any of the families.
He just wandered in, mooched successfully and stuck around
for more.

The reason I'm not in any of thses pictures is that I took them!
Even at 7 or 8 I was finding ways to dodge a photo!

This picnic was where my Dad broke his ring finger while
playing baseball on the nearby ball field, trying to catch a line
drive barehanded. The finger swelled up and when he went to
have it checked out they had to cut his wedding ring off.

Once we moved out of Boston to Abington we had a small patio
and a picnic table, and then my folks had their trailer up in
New Hampshire to go to on weekends, so cookouts replaced
picnics. But while thinking about this post, I made a list of
people and dishes I'd like to have at a picnic: Grandaunt
Frances and her lemon meringue pie, Grandaunt Peggy and
her chicken salad, Aunt Emily and her lasagna, Mom and her
homemade coffee cake and of course Dad and the traditional
hot dogs, hamburgers, corn on the cob and baked potatoes.
(By the way, baked potatoes are eaten by hollowing them out,
and after you eat the potatoes you put a piece of butter in the
skin part, fold it and then eat that as well!)

I'm getting older and eating all that stuff nowadays might not
set well afterwards but it would be well worth it!