Monday, May 25, 2015

Tika Missed Me!

When I get home, whether from a 30-minute trip to Walmart or a 3-week trip elsewhere, Tika always acts overjoyed to see me. I always get smothered in doggie kisses and I don't mind at all. This scene was repeated at the end of May when I returned from a genealogy research and learning trip.

I first flew to Houston, Texas, to rendezvous with Cecily a long-time genealogy traveling friend. We drove north to Kansas City, Missouri, to visit some of my family, and to spend a day or so at the wonderful Mid-Continent Library (a division of the Kansas City Public Library system).

Then we drove 200 east across Missouri to St.Charles (just north of St. Louis) for the 2015 NGS Conference:

There we both wore out our "sitters" and overloaded our brains with all the genealgy learning. How ever do you choose among six different presentations each hour for four days?????

On our way back to Texas, we visited historic Vicksburg, Mississippi, a place high-up on my Bucket List. 

All in all, it was a wonderful trip and while I'm quite sure that hubby missed me, he did not shower me with kisses like Tika did. 

Monday, May 18, 2015

Tika & Mary Ethel Leverich Oswald, 1886-1967

Tika wants to teach us today about the value of writing down your family stories. This story is about my hubby's grandmother.  He always remembers the story told to him by his mother, Esther Mary, about the time she was a pre-teen and her grandaunt, Sarah Esther Leverich, came to visit the family on the farm near Spokane. Esther tells how each child recieved a shiny silver dollar from "Aunt Doll" as she was called. Esther carried hers to the outhouse (when nature called) and accidently dropped her prize down the hole. She was mortified and told nobody......... at least at the time. Stories! How wonderful.

Mary Ethel Leverich, born in the middle of a sweltering July day in 1886 in Danville, Vermilion County, Illinois, was the first child of a prosperous merchant farmer.  When she was 25, in 1901, she did what many well-bred young ladies of the time did: she took a trip out west. She did not go alone (heavens!) but was accomplanied by her maiden aunt, Sarah Esther Leverich, only nine years her senior.

They traveled by train and Mary Ethel kept a diary. The train made a long stop in Gardiner, Montana, where the two ladies boarded a stagecoach for a tour of Yellowstone Park. They went through this large stone arch, planned at the time to be the official gateway to the park.

We have a photo of the ladies standing beside their stagecoach in front of the Yellowstone Park Lodge. Likely there was no other lodging available.

Back on the train, there is an entry in her diary that reads, "Met Mr. Oswald in the dinner line on the train."

John Peter Oswald and Mary Ethel Leverich were married on 21 July 1911 in her hometown, Danville, Illinois, and immediately returned to the west. They first lived a short time in Butte, Montana, and then settled in the northeast suburb of Spokane, Washington, called Hillyard. John Peter worked for the railroad and that's where the plant was that crafted the engines and was also a major railroad hub.

In late 1912 when Mary Ethel was expecting their first child, the family story went that she wanted to raise her children on a farm as she had been raised. As I delved further into the history of Spokane, I learned that the "White Death" (tuberculosis) was rampant in most all American cities and Spokane was no exception. I think Mary Ethel and John Peter chose to move to the far west side of Spokane on a section of land whichw as then far out of the city.

Mary Ethel lived in the home they made for 55 years (or nearby with her daughter) until her death in 1967. (John Peter died in 1946.) Together they raised five children: Esther Mary, Ralph Eugene, Dorothy Rose, Gilbert Leverich, and John Myron "Mike." All lived, grew and thrived and their descendants now number many.

My hubby and I now live about three miles from the old farmstead and we drive by there often. It is still owned by a member of the family. Nice warm-fuzzy memories.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Tika & Learning New Things

No matter that she looks bright-eyed and eager to learn, Tika really does not care too much about genealogy or family history. I think that's because all she knows is that she was born in Idaho. Not much to go on, poor dogger.

But I try. As she snuggles beside me in our chair, I talk to her and tell her about some of the new things I'm learning........ and boy, oh boy, are there new things to be learned and new opportunities from Ancestry.

First is Ancestor Discoveries.  Assuming you've taken an Ancestry DNA test, just log into your Ancestry account, go to the DNA tab and check your DNA homepage. If you have a New Ancestor Discovery, it will show up on your results page!  Basically, what's happening is that Ancestry is searching all their databases ("real" data and family trees) and finding matches for you within these databases. But with Ancestry being one of the industry giants in databases, isn't this a good thing?

Second is Ancestry Academy.  "Watch. Learn. Discover. Self-paced courses from the experts." This is a FREE opportunity from Ancestry! Chose from a long list of these courses (usually 45-60 minutes in length) and settle down (with your dogger at your side) for some genealogy learning. I won't list all the course topics here. Just ask Grandma Google (who knows everything) for Ancestry Academy and start learning.

Don't be a "dogger-head" and care not for new opportunities for genealogy learning........ unless of course you've completed (and documented) your entire family tree. "Unlikely," Tika snorts.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Tika & Our Family's Very Special Rocks

These "sponge rocks" have, for over 80 years, been important to my family. In the early 1930s, my mother lived with her parents in St.Louis, Missouri. (She always pronounced it St. Lois.) Her father, my grandfather, worked in a print shop and hated it; he hated being indoors all day long. Weekends, he would putter in his urban back yard and he built a fish pond there. He rimmed the edge with these large pieces of "sponge rock."

Mom remembers going out to Rock Hollow (they called it) somewhere near but outside of the city. There they could spend a picnic day and gather rocks for the fishpond.

In the 1940s, my grandparents moved from St. Louis to near Kalamazoo, Michigan, to live on very small Pickerel Lake. Oh, did Grandpa enjoy living on that lake! They took the sponge rocks with them and they formed my grandmother's flower bed.

Upon her death in 1987, my Mom hauled the rocks back to Spokane, Washington, and they've been around her favorite lilac bush for these past 28 years. Upon Mom's passing in 2014, the rocks were mine and now they reside in a space near the garage entry where I walk past them several times a day. (The brown insulator was added to show the scale of the rocks.)

To this day I don't know where "Rock Hollow" was, but doing a Google search I did find a Rock Hollow (bicycle) Trail as part of the Meremec River Greenway. I'm sure today it would be a tremendous legal offense to haul rocks from this spot but back in the 1930s it was wilderness and unprotected.

And my grandfather, then my mother, and now me, are committed to protecting these very special rocks.

Tika is duly appreciative; she totally ignores them.