Sunday, May 25, 2014

He Died While Serving Us All!

I am a graduate of Esther High School, Esther, Missouri. There were 53 people in my graduating class and about 300 in our entire school. I knew everyone in our graduating class, the entire school, and in some cases was related to them.

Out of those 53 students two were killed in Vietnam. I toured the Interactive Vietnam Veterans Memorial and found one of them, Delbert Reese, the boy who sat next to me in Mrs. Simmons' English class.

He was very shy, at least around me. He had a great laugh and a brilliant smile. I remember him as always being happy. We both belonged to the Scribblers Club, the club for writers, and had been in the school play together.

School in a small town during the sixties was very different than it is today. I remember Mrs. Simmons sent Delbert home from school with a note to his parents. He wasn't to come back to school until he got a hair cut. He was sporting a Fonzy hairdo and the twist hung down to his nose and covered his eyes. He went home, he got a buzz cut, he didn't object, his parents didn't object, and he returned to school. Could that happen today?

I looked back through my yearbook and wondered, "Was I ever really that young?" And then I looked at Delbert, who will be that young forever. For his sacrifice he deserves so much more than this simple blog post, so I am very grateful we have the Vietnam Memorial and that his name is there.

This is Delbert's yearbook photo and the activities listed for him:

Scribblers Club 2 yrs., Vice President 1 yr.
Science Club 2 yrs.
Paper Staff 1 yr.
Tennis 3 yrs.
Senior High Play 1 yr.
County Chorus 1 yr.

This is the photo of his name on the Vietnam Memorial

Full Name: Reese, Delbert Leon
Rank: Specialist Fourth Class
E4, Medical Specialist (ARMY)
Hometown: Esther
Home State: MO
Race: Caucasian
Religion: Baptist – Other Groups
Marital Status: Single
Gender: Male
Date of Birth: 1947-08-21
Tour Start Date: 1967-08-ll
Casualty Date: 1968-02-02
Death Date: 1968-02-02
Age: 20
Casualty Type: Hostile, Died
Died of: Guns, Small Arms Fire
Ground Air Sea: Ground Casualty
Body Recovered: Recovered
Country: South Vietnam
Province: Not available
Service: Army
Enlistment Type: Selective Service
Years Served: 1
Major Command: 4th Inf. Div.
Company D Co.
Battalion: 1st Bn

All of your classmates miss you and are very proud of you!


Monday, April 28, 2014

READ -- Write -- Publish -- Genealogy

What is the collective noun for a group of writers? This is a question I asked recently on Facebook.

The answer is, a "worship of writers." The term appeared in The Book of St. Albans, published in 1486. The book is said to have been written by Juliana Berners, the prioress of the Priory of St. Mary of Sopwell which is near St. Albans. She was a writer of heraldry, hawking and hunting. Most of the terms described aggregations of animals, but it was not limited to "Beestys and Fowlys," evidenced by other contributions such as an "eloquence of lawyers" and a "flight of stairs."

While you might imagine that a "worship of writers" origin had to do with the readers of books and their obsession with the authors, it is quite the opposite. In the Middle Ages writers needed a patron to survive and therefore would heap flattery on that patron in their writings. Thus, a "worship of writers."

Noreen Alexander Manzella was the first correct answer, and the first answer period. LisaMary Wichowski and Lynne Penniman Carothers also had the correct answer, but they all just "knew" the answer. Wish I was that smart.

There were some very humorous answers. My personal favorite was "Writers' Block" from Jana Sloan Broglin. To write that as a collective noun would be a "block of writers" or a "bloc of writers." Love it!

I have found no one collective noun for a group of genealogists, so let's get our wit working and offer a few for consideration.

I will start with a couple of tree references:
a "stand of genealogists" 
a "thicket of genealogists" 
and a research reference we are all familiar with, a "hoard of genealogists."
Here are a few contributions from Facebook friends.
LisaMary Wichowski - A 'query' of genealogists? (I knew the original answer from James Lipton's lovely book, was especially amused by 'unction of undertakers')
Patricia Brown - A hoven of genealogists
Patricia Brown  -- For the record - I meant "coven". Just looked up hoven and found out it means a "swelling" which could be correct if you are looking at photos of a group if genealogists together. 
Bruce Buzbee -- A body of genealogists 
Charlotte Sellers -- A forest of genealogists ... made up of many trees. 
David Foy -- A citation of genealogists. 
Ellen Rowan Taylor -- An obsession of genealogists. 

Deborah Hart Stock -- A besom of genealogists - because a besom broom is a collection of twigs and branches fastened together, and jumping over such a broom has in the past been one way of contracting a marriage, and thus the potential beginning of a family.
We can always use more, so let's get our wit working, offer a few for consideration.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Bonjour, I'm A French Model!

Bonjour! I'm a French model. It must be true, you read it here on the internet. Right? Right. I love the point this State Farm television commercial makes. A point that is relevant to any genealogical research done on the internet. The moral of the story is that you and your work are only as good as your sources.

Who cares, and who should care?

It seems that the "genealogy community" hobbyist, expert, professional discussion is back. Everything old is new again. I gave an example of the discussion as it was in 1887 in an excerpt from a genealogy book I posted here on Facebook. The present discussion made the rounds of the blogs in 2007, and again in 2011. Nothing much has changed since then.

My opinion.

I am a genealogist. We are all genealogists who study or trace our ancestry. All. Period. Some would like to attach a level of competence to the individual person. Those names are, but not limited to, hobbyist, expert, professional, etc. What does any of that mean? We do not have a generally accepted definition of hobbyist, expert, or professional as it applies to the world of genealogy. We all have an opinion as to what the definition should be, but no generally accepted genealogical community definition.

Why don't we label genealogists well-known, known, and unknown. That could also define individual genealogists. Just as meaningful. Many of you will argue that the BCG standards are our guide. But they are only a guide to a genealogist's expertise if that genealogist has voluntarily been tested by those standards. Have you seen a list of those who have tried and failed their standards?

When it comes to the definition of hobbyist, expert or professional work product, we are again faced with no generally accepted definition. We do have standards of genealogical research and presentation of that work. And we do have opinions. So many opinions.

First, let me ask, "Why does it matter so much to you?"

Before you answer, may I say that I think I understand. I have several law degrees. I cringe when I see people online give a legal opinion or legal definition who have zero legal education. Then when I stop gritting my teeth I remember a simple truth. Their opinion is of no value to me. And if you are so quick to accept those opinions without investigating their credentials, shame on you. I am not going to waste my energy turning them in to the bar or the Attorney General for practicing law without a license. And I'm certainly not going to recommend them to anyone seeking legal advice. More importantly, I will investigate and form my own legal opinions.

What about you? You work hard on your genealogical research. You adhere to genealogical standards. Do you feel that your work is diminished by those who have no standards because they too call themselves a genealogist? Their standards are of no value to you and your work, and if you are so quick to accept their conclusions without investigating their sources, shame on you. Don't waste your energy turning them in to the Genealogy Police or the Citation Police. Don't recommend their work. You are only responsible for the standards of your own work.

Now if you want to change the fact that we are only responsible for our own work, come up with a definition, a guide, a standard, a license, a law,  something for levels of expertise! I think you will find it isn't as simple as you thought it would be.

In a 2011 post, Kimberly Powell of Kimberly's Genealogy Blog on asked:

    "How do we as genealogists strike a balance between encouraging sound genealogical standards and practices without discouraging family history newcomers who find themselves quickly discouraged by those same standards, which they often don't understand and find unnecessarily complicated? Isn't there room for genealogists of all viewpoints and varying skill levels? Can't we find a way to educate and encourage without beating people over the head with our genealogy ideals?"

These questions are as important today as when Kimberly Powell first asked them. Can we move on to solutions?

What do you think?

It's not as easy as it looks on TV.

 ~ Rosie O'Donnell ~

Who Do You Think You Are?

Monday, April 7, 2014

How To Write The History Of A Family - 1887

I found this book so interesting that I thought I'd share an excerpt with you.

It is evident the perception of the Genealogist/Family Historian hasn't changed much since 1887.

However, I have always thought that through education programs that set standards for research, writing, and production; and that teach the skill sets necessary to achieve those results, we will improve not only how others view us, but how we view ourselves. Seems my ideas aren't new either.
In this little volume it is scarcely necessary to vindicate the study of genealogy against those who assert that it is but an idle pursuit, for it may be presumed that those only will consult it who are already persuaded of the utility of preserving their family history. The reverence which is almost universally shown toward ancestors is but an extension of the commandment. "Honor thy father and they mother." All races of men seem to possess an instinctive feeling that a line of honorable ancestry is a subject for legitimate pride.

"Who are these graves we know not,
Only know they are our fathers."

But though many affect to jest at what they call "pedigree-hunting" there are few who do not feel more or less interested in knowing something of their own family history, however humble it may be; and that this is so is shown by the increasing number of those who now take some pains to trace it out and place it on permanent record.

Genealogy in the past was chiefly confined to tabular pedigrees, more remarkable for an imposing array of names and titles than for any just claim to be termed history. Still, a few family memorials worthy of the name were compiled as early as the seventeenth century, such for example, as the splendid history of the "Lives of the Berkeleys, written by John Smyth, of Nibley, about the year 1618. The independent family memoir, however, is a product almost exclusively of modern growth and though some valuable examples have been issued in England, it is in the United States that they are most numerous.

The necessity of accuracy and method is specially insisted on, and the reader's attention is drawn to the advantage of uniting the narrative with key-tables by means of a definite system of cross references, a combination which hitherto has been too much neglected by genealogists.

W.P.W. Phillimore, M.A., B.C.L.
How To Write The History of a Family
A Guide for Genealogists

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Congratulations Randy Seaver!

Photo courtesy Flipboard Magazine.

Congratulations, Randy Seaver, on the 4 March 2014, Flipboard Magazine blog post, "A Mother's Life, Remembered on Flipboard."

The article author Todd Lappin wrote, "To familiarize himself with magazine-making on Flipboard, genealogy enthusiast Randy Seaver curated photos and articles about his mother into a Flipboard magazine. Then he wrote a blog post about it."

Great job, Randy!

The Flipboard Magazine Article can be found here.

Randy's Article can be found here.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Is it a dead body?

Today, is my son's birthday. I've put my feet up, had a cup of tea and reflected on the little boy I raised. Not the man he has become, rather the child who made every day an adventure.

Like the afternoon I came home from work and found Raymond and Ken (his best friend) waiting for me in the driveway. They swarmed the car before I could get my door open. They were talking over each other and so fast the only words I could make out were "dead body."

"Alright," I raised my voice. "Slow down. I can't understand a thing you're saying." I herded the excitement into the house and attempted to get to the bottom of what looked as if two twelve year olds were about to have a coronary.

They tried to sit still, but for the most part it didn't work. The story was punctuated by the two of them popping up and down like that annoying game at Chuck E. Cheese. The story, as they told it, was that they had found a dead body in a green garbage bag just over the hill. They wanted me to come look in the bag before we called the police. Just in case. To all mothers of sons I'm sure you know why I went to look in the bag before calling the police.

I changed into my best investigative jeans and loaded the car with the two not quite under control twelve year olds. We lived at the top of the mountain. The bag with the dead body was apparently hanging off the mountain just below our house on a dirt road. The boys directed me to the spot.

I parked the car at the side of the road, got out and walked to the edge. I leaned over and looked down. It was quite a drop, but there was the green garbage bag. Just where the boys had said it would be. A tree was jutting out from the side of the mountain and the bag was under one of the branches.

I told the boys to stay put while I slid down the hill to the tree. I climbed out on the tree branch and hung upside down over the bag. The smell was disgusting, disgusting! The boys and I were going to have a conversation when we got home as to what they were doing down the mountain and up that tree in the first place.

I ripped a hole in the bag and looked inside. There was a body in there. A decomposing body. I could see a section of the skull and other bones. But I couldn't tell if it was a human body, never having seen a decomposing human body before. And I was not going to take anything out of that bag. I was not going to touch the body or drag part of it out of the bag. This was long before CSI and the knowledge by the general public of destroying evidence. I wasn't going to touch it because it was disgusting not because I might destroy evidence!

I shinnied back down the branch, up the tree, and climbed the mountain to the waiting boys.

"Is it a dead body? Is it a dead body? Is it a dead body?" greeted me. "Yes, it's dead." I answered. "I just don't know what kind of body it is. We'll call Dad. He'll know a dead human body when he sees one. If it is one."

As this was BCP, before cell phones, we drove back to the house to get in touch with my husband. He was highly skeptical. While I was talking with Mr. Maven the boys had gotten two mixing spoons from the dishwasher and were practicing interviewing each other for the TV cameras.

Disappointment soon quelled the excitement when it was determined the dead body was a deer that had probably been poached, the carcass shoved in a green garbage bag, and the bag dumped over the little used dirt road down the mountain. (Only a twelve year old boy could be disappointed the dead body wasn't human.) This was followed by the appropriate discussions and admonitions regarding the boys' conduct.

To my son, I hope you are lucky enough to have a child just like you. Every day will be an adventure and I can picture you sliding down the mountain, up the tree, out on the branch, and opening the bag. Even when you don't quite buy the story. Happy Birthday, sweetheart!!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

'Twas The Night Before GeneaChristmas!

Another tradition! A version of "Twas The Night Before" has been posted by footnoteMaven every year since December 24, 2007. The only changes have been to include advances in technology and now, social media. So as you wait for Santa, please enjoy!

Twas the night before GeneaChristmas and from coast to coast,
every GeneaBlogger had penned their last post.

Had told Christmas stories both merry and bright
while blog caroling old favorites on YouTube all night.

There’d been last minute Tweets, facebooking and song.
We’d shared Christmas memories, all played along.

Nothing’s left for us now but to track Old St. Nick;
New Jersey, Missouri, Seattle, he’s quick.

Before this night’s over his reindeer’ll alight
on the roof tops of GeneaBloggers to right

The wrongs of the census, transcription, and fire;
to give each of us our one true heart’s desire.

Please, one missing ancestor, one smashed brick wall,
then dash away, dash away, dash away all.

I’ve not been naughty, I've tried hard to be nice.
Collecting old photos my one proven vice.

Reward me dear Santa I’ll promise you this;
the year 2014 will be one not to miss!

And I heard him exclaim ere he drove out of sight.

Merry Christmas To All and To All A Good Night!