Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Janice Brown Is Lost In The Puckerbrush and We Miss Her

In Terry Thornton's blog post, One Blogger's Guide Through the Puckerbrush: The First Puckerbrush Blog Awards for Excellence, our host at the Hill Country of Monroe County asked, "Where is Janice Brown when we need her?" Where is she indeed.

For quite a while now those of us who call Janice our friend, have been searching for her out in the Puckerbrush. I still drop by and read through her archives; that was until I read a Tweet that said Cow Hampshire had disappeared in a cloud of pixel dust in the blogosphere. I went to see for myself. It's true. Cow Hampshire is gone.

I have to say this really hit me hard and is the reason I have had such a difficult time writing this post. Year's of work gone, just gone. It upset me; probably because I projected that loss on how I feel about my own blogs. Year's of work gone, just gone? I'd be devastated. Please, let all Janice's research, humor, photographs, and awards be preserved somewhere. Please.

At this time of year the Cow of Cow Hampshire would be waving the U.S. flag. But no more. The Cow is gone. So, with apologies to Terry and Janice, I reworked the Puckerbrush Blog Excellence Award to include the Cow and his flag. It gives me a small measure of comfort.

To the bloglings who have the privilege of being a recipient of the Puckerbrush Blog Award for Excellence, I'd like you to know something about the woman who is its inspiration.

Janice Brown was always starting something. The snowball fights. Do you remember the snowball fights? Then there was the dancing. Maven cut a rug with her old flame Mark Twain. Jib Jab has eliminated the dances. It no longer shows on my blog. What a shame. Watching my fellow bloggers was a scream. Apple, didn't you hula?

And Janice didn't just start things, she could finish things. If you were her friend she would defend you against all odds. Remember the late unpleasantness that kept us posting for weeks? Well, someone attacked me in Eastman's comments and Janice jumped into the middle of it guns blazing, to defend me. Circle the wagons. That woman could wield a word.

Then came the 30th Carnival of Genealogy. The topic was Genealogy Conferences and Seminars I'd like to see. Janice wrote a post Jasia described this way:

Starting us off with a hilarious post that had me laughing out loud, we have Janice Brown presenting Genealogy Seminars I'd Like to See posted at Cow Hampshire. Janice isn't the seasoned veteran that many others are when it comes to genealogy conferences but she sure has a good start on putting together a conference we'd all drop what we're doing to attend! Sign me up Janice! And thanks for sharing and making us laugh!

This was Janice's list:

I'll fess up that my seminar interests would probably not appear in any of the traditional conferences (mostly because I have yet to find a "Bizarre Twist" category). If Chris Dunham, the "Master of Fractured Genealogy Top Ten Lists," was willing to explain his creative methodology, I'd be the first in line to sign up.

Genealogy Seminars I'd Like To See include:

- Digging Up Dirt Through Cemetery Research.
- Clowning Around--Locating Carnival Performers Under Your Family Tent.
- Gleaning Gems From The Family Privy.
- My Auntie Made Gumballs: Discovering Family Businesses.
- Evaluating Scars and Pock Marks in your Ancestor's Photographs.
- Jailhouse Anecdotes: Was That Arsenic in Gramma's Tea? [or Peas in Miriam's case]
- The Chris Dunham Method: How Palm Prints Are Better than DNA
- Terry Thornton's Guide to Family Hills and Mounds.
- *footnoteMaven's Guide to Finding That Two Hundredth Victorian Woman in the White Dress.
- Steve's Guide to Translating Illegible Handwriting.
- John Newmark's "I'm Dracula's Cousin, Are You?.
- Blaine Bettinger: "I'm Related To You, Like It Or Not."
- *Bill West: "49 Things To Do With A Flutaphone."
- *Randy Seaver: "Performing Genealogical Research While Wearing a Mask and Snorkel."
- *Becky Wiseman: "Preserving Historic Outhouses."
- *Lori Thornton: "Unfortunate Tombstones."
- Jasia: "How to Gain Ancestors and Weight At the Same Time."
- Miriam Midkiff: "192 Year Old Trash To Treasure."
- Tim Agazio: "Power Trimming Your Family Bush."
- Craig Manson: "FOIA Is Not For Sissies."

Those with stars actually wrote the articles as a challenge and a tribute to Janice's wicked sense of humor.

Finding That Two Hundredth Edwardian Woman in a White Dress inspired by Janice Brown was then, and is now, my favorite post. I will be eternally grateful to Janice for her inspiration and good humor. That post along with Dating Old Photographs :: Becky's Mystery Photograph #9 was the impetus for creating my companion blog Shades of The Departed.

Janice could also write a wicked comment, which she did for my women in their white dresses.

Thank you so much for the dedication, I am truly honored. I have already updated your link.

As for your post... it is what I call a "jaw-dropper." Amazing isn't a good enough word. Lovely job on both the research, and for creating such a lovely story. Any genealogist or historian (whichever you call yourself) should find another calling if they can't tell a good story. You, on the other hand, could give lessons :D


When you're new to GeneaBlogging, comments like this are so encouraging. They're what keep you going. They are confidence builders.

We should all remember this as the new geneabloggers enter our community. We should go out of our way to offer encouragement to them through our comments.

To me the quality of Janice's work, the encouraging comments, her sense of humor and dedication are contained in this award.

I'd like to thank my good friend Terry Thornton for honoring Janice Brown, she deserves this. And I'd also like to express my gratitude for being named one of the first recipients of "The Puckerbrush Blog Award for Excellence." It is truly an honor. Thank you, Terry, it was a brilliant idea.

Janice Brown, phone home. Your fans miss you!

Now there will be another post where I thank those that have honored me and I will reciprocate with a few honors of my own.


Blogger Terry Thornton said...


Thanks for this tribute to our mutual friend, dancer, snowball fighter, and writer Janice Brown. She continues to be an inspiration --- her encouragement and good humor is sorely missed.

Terry Thornton
Fulton, Mississippi

June 18, 2009 at 5:20 AM  
Blogger Caroline said...

Thank you so much for sharing Janice with us! I had previously been on her site, but at the time, didn't have time to read her posts. I bookmarked her site, but it is now gone! Janice was so very correct when she wrote "you could give lessons" on how to tell a story. With your words you are a storyteller to look up to as well as a source of encouragement, inspiration and insight.

Thank You,

June 18, 2009 at 5:25 AM  
Blogger geneabloggers said...

I miss Janet very much and you are spot on in your description of her role in the world of genealogy blogging. It was Janet who made me realize the importance of commenting on the posts of others - even if it was just a brief word or saying "hi, I enjoyed stopping by."

Thomas MacEntee

June 18, 2009 at 8:02 AM  
Blogger Bill West said...

There are cached "Cow Hampshire" posts on Google. Anyone
interested can do a Google search for the blog and after
the hits come upo, hit "cached" to view it.

It's harder to find a specific post, and it saddens me
that there are no new entries since last August. I'm not
sure what the lifespans of cached pages are, but for the moment, "Cow Hampshire" is not totally gone.

June 18, 2009 at 8:53 AM  
Blogger Randy Seaver said...

Absolutely a beautiful tribute to Janice. Thank you.

There are so many blog posts in the Puckerbrush...thank you for weeding the area around her post and exposing it for all readers to see.

Who will discover what happened to Janice Brown? I keep hoping that she will pop up and say "I took a long vacation" but the disappearance of her blog means something more significant, I fear.

Hugs -- Randy

June 18, 2009 at 9:54 AM  
Blogger Randy Seaver said...

Janice also had the web site I found some email addresses there and send two out asking for information.

It looks like the domain name has been paid up through 5 September 2009.

June 18, 2009 at 10:16 AM  
Anonymous John said...

Google cache, unfortunately, will disappear over time, and I fear its a matter of weeks. And not a lot of CowHampshire got saved at the WayBack Machine (

Janice's website - - is still up, though it doesn't appear updated, and was last renewed in Sept of 2008. It's possible it too will disappear in a few months.

I take comfort in the absence of anyone with her name appearing in the SSDI after June of 2008 from either NJ or NH. I think she's out there, somewhere, but life has somehow taken her away from the internet.

I believe from her SearchRoots site, she was living in New Jersey, though I don't know for sure. The posts from July and August all appeared at midnight, meaning they were pre-written. They could have been pre-written the day before, or months before, there's no way to know.

June 18, 2009 at 12:32 PM  
Blogger Cindy said...

Reading this post made me feel that I truly missed out on something. Being one of the 'newbies' to the genealogy blogging community, I had never read her blog and attempted to do so when the award was making it's rounds. From your post I can tell that I really did miss someone with wit and whimsy, not to mention a good friend to all of you. I hope she reaches out to you soon.

June 18, 2009 at 1:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


What a lovely tribute to an old friend. Janice used to comment on my posts when I was just a blogling, and I felt honored that she encouraged me. I miss her humor, too. I am really surprised that I could not find the site using the Internet Archive "Way Back" machine - it's just not there.


June 18, 2009 at 5:14 PM  
Blogger Greta Koehl said...

I have to echo what Cindy said - I really regret now that I waited so long to start blogging and missed reading the words of this witty lady. It is also so inspiring to see how close and supportive the genea-blogging community is.

June 18, 2009 at 6:49 PM  
Blogger Craig Manson said...

Everything I would have said has been said . . . Thanks, fM!

June 19, 2009 at 2:39 PM  
Anonymous John said...

Here's the site on*/

However, nothing was archived after July of 2007, and you can only read the opening paragraphs of each article, as didn't save the full entry pages.

June 19, 2009 at 9:05 PM  
Blogger Jasia said...

First off, you wrote a beautiful tribute, fM. Thank you for honoring our friend so well.

Isn't it a great testament to Janice that we are all still writing about her and missing her almost a year after she stopped posting to her blog? In this day and age when we are all following hundreds of bloggers that's quite something isn't it?

I miss Janice and I can't help but wonder what's happened to her. Not only was she a great historian, writer, and humorist, but she was as fine a friend as anyone could wish for.

June 20, 2009 at 5:36 AM  
Blogger Judith Richards Shubert said...

Oh, how I wish I had known her as so many of you did. You have written a beautiful post and tribute to her, fM, I know she must feel the love you all have sent out on the "airwaves" or "keyboard" or some such. And I do hope she pops back in and says she's been on a long vacation, as Randy said. I feel honored to have received the Puckerbrush award just this last month and am so glad fM has told us about Janice and the award's beginnings and significance.

June 20, 2009 at 10:46 AM  
Blogger Moultrie Creek said...

Thanks for the memories - even if they are bittersweet.

June 21, 2009 at 2:01 PM  
Blogger TheGeneticGenealogist said...

This was a beautiful post and a terrific tribute to Janice and Cow Hampshire. I too greatly enjoyed many things about her and the blog, am I hope that someday she will return or at least let us know that all is well.

June 21, 2009 at 5:45 PM  
Blogger Colleen said...

Amazing tribute, fM. Nothing else to say. Truly amazing.

June 21, 2009 at 7:25 PM  
Blogger Becky Thompson said...

I really like your new Puckerbrush Award button too! Thank you fM!

June 22, 2009 at 9:14 PM  
Anonymous Kiril The Mad Macedonian said...

RE: 192 Year Old Trash To Treasure

Yesterday I shared images of some 50+ year old items, from my babyhood, that some folks might inexplicably consider Trash, and throw away, but I consider them to be Treasures. ;-D

June 23, 2009 at 2:15 AM  
Blogger Chery Kinnick said...

Thanks, fM, for this tribute.

I have been worried about Janice for some time, since no e-mails have been responded to for nearly a year. I have always been inspired by her humor and dedication, as well as her support and comraderie shown through commenting. So, is this what the digital age brings us to... wisdom and creativity lost in a flash, with no paper trail? I am facing that on the job right now, too, where libraries are being closed and consolidated to fit digitized visions of the future and "changing user needs." There is a terrible price to pay for the instant accessibility of the internet, I fear.

If Janice is ever able to read all of these comments, she'll know she is well loved.

June 24, 2009 at 1:27 PM  
Blogger Charley "Apple" Grabowski said...

I miss Janice and the way she encouraged us to have a laugh. My dancing will always be good for a laugh!

It's frustrating and worrisome when someone you know only online just up and disappears. There have been other bloggers that decided that maintaining a blog wasn't for them but we know that and that they are OK. I hope whatever is keeping Janice away resolves itself so that she can return.

July 6, 2009 at 1:52 PM  

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