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Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Memories and Stories

I have spent the day going through pictures of my grandparents, parents, brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews and children.  Today  made me realize more than ever that the stories of today need to be preserved too!  The stories in my head, the memories of my siblings, Aunt, cousins and children need to be documented.  It was so much fun sharing the pictures and provoking our memories to determine what year some of the pictures were taken.  Everyone was making comments, my niece told me that I had made her day after sharing a picture of her deceased father.  I was surprised to find some of my mother's grandchildren had no idea how she looked when  she was in her twenties.  One comment was "Wow grandma was hot".  I did not realize that they had not seen those pictures of her.

I have spent much time and money working on my family tree.  Mostly, however I am recording dates found on documents and photos of the more recent ancestors.  I don't know their stories, I know where and when they lived and died.  I do not know the personal story of their lives.

The memories of the living must be recorded before it is too late for the younger generation to have the knowledge to pass along these stories along with dates of certain events.  All of my grandparents as well as my parents have passed away. There is barely anyone left to tell the stories of my ancestors. I have one living aunt that I have been gleaning information from for over a year about her sister (my mother) and my grandparents,  but she has a hard time as her memory is fading with time, she is in her 70's.

I would like to challenge all family historians, parents and grandparents to preserve the memories that are yours so your children, grandchildren and great grandchildren will have the pleasure of knowing them.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Surprise Connection

I want to talk about something that has surprised me on this journey of following my family history.  I have had the pleasure of connecting with people from many different places that all share the same love of family history.  It is always enjoyable when you can share your love of something with people who feel the same way.  Family history tends to bore my family so finding this community of people who love what they are doing and will listen to what you have to say is such a blessing. It is not just about genealogy it has become personal as well.  Although I have never met these people in person, I look forward everyday to read what they have to say!  They take pride in their work and are not afraid to say when someone is taking the wrong path, not because they are trying to be mean, but because of their love of genealogy!  There is a lot is misinformation out there and they continually try to educate newbies and clickophiles as to the pit falls of shortcuts. These are some of the most professional, knowledgeable, intelligent, witty and funny people I have ever connected with before.  They have welcomed me into their genealogy-related groups and continue to teach me everyday, just through normal posts!  They have always been willing to help whenever I or others need it.  It's not just the administrators, it's the group members too.  Several of the people have their own blogs that are full of so much information I feel inadequate about mine.  I just tell myself, everyone has to start somewhere!  I am so thankful to have connected with them.  You know you are :)

Friday, September 28, 2012

Anna Cox Bolton (1821-1912) An example of how a family story can change over the years.

  • This was transcribed from the Kokomo, Indiana newspaper dated 5 Jun 1907 per Vernard Thompson

    Family Members all live long

  • June 5, 1907 , Kokomo, IN

  • Three sisters and one brother live and each is over one hundred years old---they attract much attention.

    Mrs. Anna Bolton, Alexandria, age 104, is to pay a visit to her son, Hiram Bolton, 323 South Washington Street, this city, tomorrow. She will come unattended and will stay several days. Leaving here she will go to Ford, Kas. to visit her sister, Mrs. Eliza Wilson, 116 years old.
    Hiram Bolton believes that in point of longevity his mother and her sisters have the world's record. There are three sisters and one brother, all past the century mark. They are: Mrs. Eliza Wilson, Ford, Kas, age 116. Mrs. Nancy Ridnhour, Brownsburg, Ind., age 106. Mrs. Anna Bolton, Alexandria, Ind., age 104. James Cox, Quincey, ILL., age 104.
    Mrs. Bolton and Mr. Cox are twins and lay claim to the record as the oldest twins in America.
    Mrs. Bolton is still spry. She travels frequently and she will tolerate no assistance from any younger relative, purchasing her own tickets, superintending the disposal of her baggage and attending to other details in a way that would put many a younger woman to shame. It is in vain that her sons importurne her to allow them to look after her. She insists that she will not be treated "like and old woman."
    With the exception of Mrs Ridenhour, who is an invalid, all of the centenarians are in the best of health and all are not only able to look after themselves, but insist strenuously in doing so. This is true of Mrs. Wilson at the extreme age of 116. Two years ago Mrs. Bolton, then 102, paid Mrs. Wilson a visit. While there Mrs.Bolton became ill, and for several nights her sister, 114 years old, attended her in a manner that a professional nurse might have envied.
    Mrs. Bolton is a Baptist of many years standing and is a regular and faithful attendant at Church. She never misses a Sunday and she walks to and from the services, sometimes accompanied, but just as often alone.

    Elwood Call Leader
    Elwood, Madison County, Indiana
    Wednesday, March 13, 1912

    Former Resident Here Died
    At Ripe Old Age of 109 Years.


    Monday evening at the home of her son, Andrew Bolton, living near Morgantown, Mrs. Anna  Bolton, until three years ago a resident of the county just north of Elwood died at the age of 109 Years.  She was generally acknowledged to be the oldest woman living in Indiana, until a short time preceding her death she was in splendid health.
    Made Trip to Kansas.
    At the time she left Elwood, Mrs. Bolton  went to Hollowell, Kas., where she made her home with relatives, but having spent all of her long life in Indiana, she soon began to tire of the west, and last November she returned to her native state with a grandson Charles Sosbe who went there for the purpose of accompany her home.
    During the return trip the couple stopped at Chicago where they spent several days, and this being her first experience in a large city, she was deeply interested in the many sights she witnessed there.  They
    also stopped at Indianapolis where she attended a large theatre and witnessed a musical comedy for the first time.  She stood the entire trip remarkably well.
    Arriving at Morganton, she insisted upon walking the entire three miles from that city to the farm of the relative where she was to make her home.  She remained in good health until the later part of the winter when she contracted a severe cold and her death followed within a short time.
    Always Seen With Market Basket
    Mrs. Bolton is well remembered by all the older residents of this city and community and by many of the younger ones.  During the latter years of her residence here, she lived with her sister, Mrs. Sosbe, and never a week passed that she did not visit Elwood on Saturday.  She always went directly to the Leeson store where she did her trading and she often spent almost the entire day there.  She had an unusually wide circle of friends here and all will be grieved to learn of her death.
    Mrs. Bolton was one of a pair of twins, and it is understood that her twin brother is still living.

    I started researching these articles about my 3rd great grandmother Anna Cox Bolton with some skepticism.  Although quite a bit of the info is correct some of it is not. Anna was born in North Carolina to William Cox, Jr. b. 1798 in VA and Mary Polly Cook b. 1786 in North Carolina.  William Cox and Polly Cook married in 1813 Stokes County, NC the bondsman was John Cook.  Anna lived in North Carolina and Tennessee before moving to Indiana.  According to the 1850 - 1880 census data Anna was born between 1820 & 1822, the above articles indicate she was born in 1803.

    The siblings mentioned are all in my research; brother James b. 1820 - 1822, but one article states 1803, sister Nancy Cox Ridenhour b. 1824, according to articles birth year would be 1801, sister Eliza Cox Wilson b. 1830, according to articles birth year would be 1791.  The first article mentions Anna visiting her son Hiram Bolton in Kokomo on Washington St. in 1907 and the 1910 & 1920 census shows her son Hiram living in Kokomo on Washington St!  The obit mentions Anna's grandson Charles Sosbe who is the son of her daughter Rhoda Bolton b.1856 who married Archibald Sosbe in 1876 in Tipton Indiana, the article incorrectly refers to Mrs. Sosbe as her sister. The obit states that she dies at the home of her son Andrew Bolton, which my research shows Anna had a son Andrew b. 1863.  Anna's son lived in Indiana all his life and married his first cousin Elizabeth Ridenhour.  In the 1900 census Nancy Cox Ridenhour is living with Andrew & Lizzie, census states she is a widow and is 92 years old which would have her birth year as 1808 instead of 1801 in the first article.  I was excited about being able to verify the relationships mentioned in the articles but was taken aback by the range of differences in the birth years.  It is common to have birth years 1 - 3 years difference on records that old but I have not seen the differences to this extreme.

    Andrew Bolton is the informant on Anna's death certificate and stated her date of birth as October 9, 1803.  I believe the October 9 part is probably correct because people tend to know the month and day of their relatives' birth and many times have the year incorrect.  Anna's is the only death certificate I have been able to locate.  I found a death record that could be her twin brother's.  It shows that James Cox died in  Tipp County 6 Aug 1889.  I just think that Anna would have known he was dead when the 1907 article was written.  So I am not sure of this date.

    It was exciting to hear about the lives of this family and how well-respected Anna Cox Bolton was in her "unusually wide circle of friends".  I loved reading about how independent she was and how her grandson accompanied her to Chicago and she experienced things for the first time with him.  This has been a rare look at part of my family and I have enjoyed this trip.

    What do you think, is this an example of how a story changes throughout the years?  I believe so, other then the birth years the rest of the information coincides with my research.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

September 11

September 11 has always been a day of celebration in my family because my parents were married September 11, 1954.

Since 2001 it has been difficult to think of anything other than the twin towers tumbling down and all who lost their lives!  This day will be a day remembered for years, by our children's, children's, children.  It is a part of our American History. Just like December 7, 1941 the attack on Pearl Harbor by Japanese forces was declared as "a date which will live in infamy" by President Franklin D.Roosevelt. Just as V day May 8, 1945 will always be remembered as the end of World War II in the European theater.

Tomorrow all of the tragic images will come flowing back, I will remember all of the calls between the family members to make sure everyone was alright. There were a lot of "I love you's" that day.  We were all very worried because we didn't know when it would end.  I kept thinking to myself, is Pope AFB a target, is Fort Bragg a target, is Camp Legeune a target.  All of these military basis are less than 2 hours from my home.  But as the President ordered all planes to land, the terror eased off slightly. We were all in a daze as to how something like that could happen in our country.

So although tomorrow should be a day to remember this horrific act, it should be a day to pray for the families of the injured and deceased for they are still suffering. But let us not forget that tomorrow may have also have a happy meaning to someone, a birthday, an anniversary, etc. but may not feel comfortable celebrating it, lets tell them it is okay to celebrate it.

PS:  I wrote this last night & forgot to publish, silly me, I shouldn't be blogging at 2 am.

Friday, September 7, 2012

The following tells exactly how I am feeling on this journey of discovering my family history.  I am very grateful to my sister Angi who as taken me to many county courthouses & cemeteries, I actually think she enjoys graveyard hunting with me although she would never admit it.  It is such a pleasure listening to my Aunt Sandy talking about the family and helping me identifying old pictures.  I do feel the pride in following my great grandfather from Italy to the land of opportunity.  I feel the pain of the deaths, especially those of children.   I have met relatives that I otherwise would not have had the pleasure of meeting.  Through I have exchanged information and pictures with cousins I have never met.  One cousin I did not even know about contacted me through an message board.  I know we would have never met as we live on both coasts.  Who is the keeper of your family tree?  Who will it be in the next generation?
"The Chosen" 
By Pam Shenefield Long in
We are the chosen. In each family there is one who seems called to find the ancestors. To put flesh on their bones and make them live again. To tell the family story and to feel that somehow they know and approve. Doing genealogy is not a cold gathering of facts but, instead, breathing life into all who have gone before.
We are the story tellers of the tribe. All tribes have one. We have been called, as it were, by our genes. Those who have gone before cry out to us: Tell our story. So, we do. In finding them, we somehow find ourselves. How many graves have I stood before now and cried? I have lost count. How many times have I told the ancestors, "You have a wonderful family; you would be proud of us.". How many times have I walked up to a grave and felt somehow there was love there for me? I cannot say. It goes beyond just documenting facts. It goes to who I am, and why I do the things I do. It goes to seeing a cemetery about to be lost forever to weeds and indifference and saying - I can't let this happen. The bones here are bones of my bone and flesh of my flesh. It goes to doing something about it.
It goes to pride in what our ancestors were able to accomplish. How they contributed to what we are today. It goes to respecting their hardships and losses, their never giving in or giving up, their resoluteness to go on and build a life for their family. It goes to deep pride that the fathers fought and some died to make and keep us a nation. It goes to a deep and immense understanding that they were doing it for us.
It is of equal pride and love that our mothers struggled to give us birth, without them we could not exist, and so we love each one, as far back as we can reach. That we might be born who we are. That we might remember them. So we do. With love and caring and scribing each fact of their existence, because we are they and they are the sum of who we are.
So, as a scribe called, I tell the story of my family. It is up to that one called in the next generation to answer the call and take my place in the long line of family storytellers. That is why I do my family genealogy, and that is what calls those young and old to step up and restore the memory or greet those who we had never
known before.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Family history, sometimes sad: George L. Dorman, mother Betty Mae Morris

This week, 28 years ago I lost my father.  In my family research I have discovered just how very little I knew about his life before he married my mom.  I knew him as a hard working man and a good provider for our family.  My mother didn't work except for a few weeks before Christmas a year or two, they had 7 children.  I also knew him as the disciplanarian, he was strict, with swift and decisive action.  No doubt learned from his years in the USAF.  He was someone who was always there when I needed a shoulder to cry on and would tell me it would all work out.  He came to see me when I was in the hospital as a child as much as he could which made me feel special.  He coached my brothers' little league baseball team.  He taught us to play cards.  I also knew him as a man who drank.

After 20 years in the service he retired and landed a job in information services.  He was promoted within the company and provided his family with a modest way of life.  He was killed in a single car accident when he was 51 years old.

I have discovered  things that have led to more questions then answers.  I have not even been able to prove that he was the biological son of the man's name he carried.

On April 12, 1933 he was born baby boy Johnson, to Betty Mae Johnson in Cumberland County, NC.  The father's info on the birth certificate has illegitimate written across that section.  My grandmother's maiden name was Morris.  I haven't been able to find a marriage certificate, directory listings, etc., so I do not know how she came to use the Johnson name.  The next discovery was that she did not marry the man I thought was his father  (Dorman) until my father was 3 years old in 1936, her maiden name Morris was the name listed on the marriage certificate.    Two years after they married, Fez was killed in a workplace accident.
I had so been looking forward to the 1940 census, hoping to find out where he was in 1935 and 1940.  Her last name is Strickland now and living in Zebulon, NC.  J William Strickland (the respondent) states they resided at the same address in 1935.  I believe Mr. Strickland lived there in 1935 but not my grandmother and father as she had not yet been married to Fez Dorman.  My father is listed as Mr. Strickland's stepson.  I do know at some point he lived with his granny Dorman, as the man in his mother's life at the time wanted him to work in the tobacco fields, but Granny wouldn't have that.  I am not sure how long he lived with her.  His mother moved them back and forth between Cumberland County near Fort Bragg and Wendell and Zebulon areas in Wake County.  I found a picture of my dad and his cousin and noted on the back is 1944, Spring Lake which is in Cumberland County.  I discovered he didn't have any stability or consistency in his childhood.  I have a better understanding now as to why he didn't talk about his childhood much.  I do know that he dropped out of school when he was in the 8th grade, liked to fish, play pool and joined the service as soon as he was eligible.

In May, 1951 a month after his 18th birthday and one week before he reported for duty, George L. Dorman obtained a delayed certificate of birth, with the father listed as Fez Linwood Dorman, mother was listed as Betty Mae Johnson.  At her death her last name was Dickerson.  I knew my grandmother somewhat, she passed away when I was about 15, but I just never got that warm and fuzzy feeling from her.

With each new name I have discovered, I have such a feeling of sadness.  What did my father, the little boy, experience in his childhood?  Was he taken care of?  Did he feel loved?  Was he lonely?  How did he learn to parent?  The more I learn about his childhood, I believe he did a pretty damn good job as the father of 7 children.

After my father's funeral, people told us story after story of how he had helped them out, bought food for them, always made sure they had a turkey at Thanksgiving, etc.  We never knew this.  He was buried with full military honors.  A send-off he deserved.  My quest is not over, I will always look for the answers.  I know there is more to this story ........

Wednesday, August 29, 2012


It will help you tremendously if you start from the beginning  keeping your research organized.  Both paper and digital records which you will have both types of media.  I keep my information together in family groups, that is just my preference so use a method that works for you.  Try not to use the "organized chaos" method, it will become overwhelming to you very quickly.  Also, when you are researching it is important that you note where and what sources you have searched, especially when you are researching an allusive relative.  This will keep you from duplicating your work.