Thursday, November 25, 2010


Happy Thanksgiving, and welcome to  the Second Great
American Local Poem And Song Genealogy Challenge

The rules for the Challenge were as follows:

1. Find a poem by a local poet, famous or obscure, from the region
one of your ancestors lived in. It can be about an historical event, a
legend, a person, or even about some place (like a river)or a local
animal.Or if you prefer, post the lyrics of a song or a link to a video
of someone performing the song.

2. Post the poem or song to your blog (remembering to cite the source
where you found it.)

3.Tell us how the subject of the poem or song relates to your ancestor's
home or life.

4.Submit your post's link here to me by November 18th and I'll publish
all the entries on Thanksgiving Day, November 25th!

This year's edition is bigger than the inaugural event and every
post is awesome. Each contributor rose to the Challenge and
found great poems or songss that connected with their family
in some way and in some cases were actually written by a relative.
I've organized them by state and regions so we can take a
lyrical tour of the world! 

 This Challenge is dedicated to our late fellow geneablogger
Terry Thornton who loved a good poem as much as a good laugh.
In that spirit I'm awarding the "WillyPuckerbrush" Award to Nancy
of the My Ancestors and Me blog for her entry.

So, sit back and relax with that sandwich made with leftover
turkey, stuffing and cranberry sauce, and your beverage of choice
and enjoy some great poetry and songs!

We start off with a poem by Rosetta Munroe Spencer,
"What's in a Birthday?" posted by Heather Wilkinson
Rojo over at her Nutfield Genealogy blog. Rosetta is
Heather's distant cousin and Heather shares what she's
learned about her talented relative.

William Henry Channing was a clergyman with a
more gentle approach than those of the Puritan era..
Carol Yates Wilkerson shares a short poem Channing
authored that has significance to her family at
her iPentimento blog.

Jacky at Vermont Genealogy has a poem she describes
as a "treasure for a genealogist". It was written by her great
grandmother Elizabeth Beard Baker and in it she describes
her parents and siblings. What a unique family record!

Awhile back singer/songwriter Nick Humphries sent
me a link to his video of his song "The Wangan Camp" in which
he sets Holman Day's poem to music. I'm reposting it here so
those who haven't discovered it yet can do so now and enjoy

New Hampshire
Poet Robert Frost was an inhabitant of New Hampshire and
wrote many poems that resonate with New Englanders. My
ancestors from New Hampshire and Maine must have spent
many days "Mending Wall" between their farm and their
neighbors, which is why Frost's poem of that name touches

As those of us interested in New England history know,
the Puritans could be a contentious lot, even the clergy!
T.K. of Before My Time shares A Poem by John Cotton
with us written to her 9x great grandfather the Reverend
Samuel Stone. Was the poem meant as a compliment
or a subtle rebuke? Read it for yourself and decide.

New York
Barbara Poole recently received a poem from her cousin
and, as she tells it, "I realized it was a a story of a person's
life, more like an obituary". Read about the life of Jason
Adams at Barbara's blog, "Life from the Roots"

Deborah Newton-Carter's 5x great grandfather Asaph
Morse was a veteran of the Revolutionary War and set
his experiences into the appropriately named "Revolutionary
Song. " You can enjoy it at her blog, In Black and White:
Cross-Cultural Genealogy

As I said earlier, Nancy the author of the My Ancestors and 
Me blog has won the "Willy Puckerbrush" award for funniest
poem for her post about the brutal winters of upstate New York
and "The Chateaugay Thaw". I think Terry would have gotten
a chuckle out of this one!

Families can have connections with schools and Nolichucky
Roots shares a poem about Georgetown University written
by her husband's grandfather entitled "The Old North".

North Carolina
Greta Koehl's brings us the lyrics to "The Ballad of Naomi Wise"
which she tells us "is considered to be the oldest American murder
ballad". Check them out as well as the links to a performance of
the song and a discussion of its origins at Greta's Genealogy Blog.

Suzanne Silk Strickland's grandfather didn't live long enough to
meet his great grandson which is what makes his poem "To A
Little Boy from an Old Man" so moving.  See for yourself at
Suzanne's blog, My Genealogy Girl.

The lives of our ancestors and our family histories have
always been greatly affected by the land. Doreen Paul
of Graveyard Rabbit of Sandusky Bay submits a
poem about the marshlands of Ohio in Twilight on Sandusky
Marsh, by John Hay 

Randy Clark shares a view of a town he lived in as a child in 
A favorite poem about Logansport, Indiana . 
Reading it brought back memories of the places I knew in my
own childhood here in Massachusetts

Leah The Internet Genealogist's ancestors helped settle Marshall 
County, Indiana in the 1830's.  She blogs about a poem written
by Minnie Swindell celebrating those early pioneers in the post
entitled "Marshall County"

Poet Josiah D Archer lived in Thorncreek Township, Indiana,
as did Becky Wiseman's ancestors. Archer wrote a book of
poetry about the area and Becky shares two of them with us
in "Ballads of Blue River" at her her blog Kinexxions


The coming of the Industrial age in America presented new 
challenges to our ancestors, some of which we still face today.
Jean Hibben of Circlemending found a poem written in 1899
by her grandmother Pauline Elizabeth Miller about the torment
of riding a streetcar while "Going Home At Night". Those of us
who've ridden in a crowded subway car will empathize!

Apple of Apple's Tree went looking for a poem that connected
with her Michigan ancestors, and wouldn't you know it, she found
one about growing apple orchards. This is the type of poetry that
resonated with our farmer ancestors. Read her post Plant
Orchards-1853 and see why it would!

Blogger Alanna of Confessions of a Gen-a-holic is a Fitzgerald
and submits a post about the most famous Fitzgerald in Michigan
history, "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald" (one of my favorite
songs) and no, she isn't related to Edmund. I bet you won't be able
to keep from humming along as you read the lyrics!   

Our Michigan medley continues as Jasia from Creative Gene reminisces
with Kid Rock about summer in Michigan with "Rockin' Out on 
Michigan via The Kid" .   Rock on, Jasia!

Elizabeth O' Neal has ancestors who lived in Nebraska, Iowa and
South Dakota and has chosen a poem by Ted Kooser that is
rich in imagery of a hot summer day in the region.  You can read
"So...This is Nebraska" at Elizabeth's blog Little Bytes of Life.

You probably have never heard of Tami Glatz' distant cousin
Dr Brewster Higley but you have heard of his poem "The Western
Home" albeit in another form with a different title. Read "Home
on the Range" over at Relatively Curious About Genealogy for
the whole story

Carolyn the Family Tree Gal's pioneer ancestors lived in Utah and
shares a poem about an item about a common item in everyday
life back then, the pocket knife. It's short but poignant.

Next we have a Texas trio. We start with Vickie Everhart's
story of a relative who was part of a dark episode in Texas' War
of Independence. It was memorialized in a poem by Walt Whitman
and you can read it in Great American Poems :: Whitman Writes 
About Texas at BeNotForgot.

Then sashay over to John Newmark's Transylvanian Dutch blog 
and give a listen to the state song of Texas, which isn't the one
you may think is. Find out more about it and the connection to

We finish up Texas with Judith Richards Schubert whose hometown is
Mineral Wells, Texas and she's found a poem about it that speaks
to her soul. You can read it and learn about the poet in her post 
My Home Town by Dorothy Hansen at Genealogy Traces.

Over at Call Me-Shell Michelle Robillard offers her translation of
the French-Canadian song "Alouette, Gentille Alouette" and tells us
how it brings back memories of happy times with her grandfather,. 

Sean Lamb's family has a legend that they might be related to English
poet and author Charles Lamb. He shares with us the poetic epitaph
from the poet's headstone at Finding the Flock

Randy Seaver posted a poem this morning, and although he
didn't submit it to the Challenge I'm including it because it
speaks both to the holiday and to the Challenge. The poem is
"Thanksgiving" by Edgar Alan Guest and it says it all about
what the holiday should mean to everyone. You can enjoy it
at Randy's Genea-Musings blog.

That concludes this years's Great American Local Poem And
Song Genealogy Challenge. I want to thank all the participants 
once again for a job well done and for the enjoyment I got out
of reading their posts. I'll do this again next year, so start looking
for poems or songs you can submit now!(and I'll try to come up 
with a shorter name for it by then as well!)

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!


Susan Clark said...

Thank you so for this wonderful challenge. Thoroughly enjoyed exploring the country through the blogs and poems. Well done!

GeneaDiva said...

I'll post my poem late; sorry must has missed this call:

Shiloh by Herman Melville
A Requiem

Skimming lightly, wheeling still,
The swallows fly low
Over the fields in cloudy days,
The forest-field of Shiloh -
Over the field where April rain
Solaced the parched ones stretched in pain
Through the pause of night
That followed the Sunday fight
Around the church of Shiloh -
The church, so lone, the log-built one,
That echoed to many a parting groan
And natural prayer
Of dying foeman mingled there -
Foeman at morn, but friends at eve -
Fame or country least their care:
(What like a bullet can undeceive!)
But now they lie low,
While over them the swallows skim,
And all is hushed at Shiloh.

As I live close to the battlefield and visit often, I thought of this poem!

Nancy said...

I finally managed to come look at the offerings for the Poem and Song Genealogy Challenge. Thank you for the Puckerbrush Award. What a surprise.

This was a really fun event and you went to lots of work to put it together. Thank you.

Judith Richards Shubert said...

Thank you, Bill, for hosting this challenge. I've enjoyed it tremendously. I loved reading and commenting on each and every entry. Good Job.