Wednesday, October 31, 2012

A Story, A Certificate, A Location - Wishful Wednesday

I wish I knew the story behind these photos.  In the photo on the far right my grandmother, Beulah, stands near her fiance/husband, Gust.  Her sister, Leota, sits behind.  In the photo on the left you see Beulah standing in front wearing a man's suit.  Leota and Gust are behind her.  I know there has to be some story behind this.  What would have prompted Beulah to change into men's clothes?  Where did she change?  Who was the photographer?  If Beulah exchanged clothes with the photographer, what was he wearing?  It looks like Beulah is wearing her dress under the suit.  I suspect it's all a bunch of young love silliness but I sure wish I knew the story!

I wish Grampa Fred Gerner's Pennsylvania death certificate would come.  The certificate number in the index was undecipherable and the wrong certificate arrived in response to my first request.  With my second request I included a print-out from the index with his name and the number plus some suggestions as to what the number might be.  I also asked if their original index looked better than the scanned online version and if so, that they please look at it.  It's been more than four months since I sent my request, the amount of time they say it takes to send death certificates.  I continue to be patient... and wish.

I wish I could find some document naming the birth place of my great-grandfather, Henry Carl Meinzen.  It seems like I've searched every possible source that might give me that information and I come up empty-handed (or empty-sourced, as the case may be).  One source I hoped would respond is the IOOF since I knew my grandfather was a member in Steubenville, Ohio, but I'm still waiting (after several years).

I noticed that the July/August issue of Family Tree Magazine has an article about researching Lutheran ancestors.  I know my grandfather was Lutheran and I was able to find Steubenville church records (his church merged with the United Church of Christ of Steubenville) but I don't think I can search German records until I have a location. 

Sometimes I think we family historians could be detectives.  But if so, I know I wouldn't get paid for solving the case of my grandfather's birth location -- at least not yet.

Do you have unfulfilled wishes for your family history/genealogy?
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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Nine Turning Ten

Every 9-year-old girl looks forward to her next birthday and I was no exception.  In our house birthdays were special because we could choose the meal we wanted Mom to make, choose the kind of cake and frosting we wanted her to bake, and could invite a friend or relative for dinner.  And, of course, there was a wish to make, candles to blow out, and at least one present.

The year I turned 10, my birthday was on a Saturday.  That morning Mom sent me on an errand to Beazel's, the local grocery store two blocks away.  On the way, Linda Patterson came out of her house and walked part way with me.  Linda and I were in different grades in school and while we were friendly, we didn't spend much time together.  She began excitedly talking about birthdays and birthday parties.  I knew there was no way she would know it was my birthday so I was surprised at her topic of conversation.

When I returned home from the store, Gramma called and invited me to eat lunch with her and Grampa.  Picky me.  I wanted to know what they were eating before I accepted the invitation.  (She could have served me bread and butter and I would have been thrilled, but if she was making tuna sandwiches and I had to eat them, I wasn't interested.)  I think she finally persuaded me to join them when she told me we would drive into Niles after lunch. 

In the photo at right you can see what happened when I arrived home after our trip to Niles.  Yes, I was surprised!

I can't remember party activities.  Perhaps we played Pin the Tail on the Donkey.  Maybe my older sister, Marsha, helped.  Details have faded from my memory.  I'm grateful Mom thought to take photographs.

Here we are with candles lit.  Clockwise from front left are Audrey Jenkins, Janet Grubbs, Kathy Ambrose, Harriet Bowser, Marsha Dell, Beverly Bowser, Linda Patterson, Phyllis Bowser, and Marsha Koncsol (with her tongue stuck out).  I'm front and center.

Someone was missing in the photo above.  Here we are again.  Front, left to right:  me, Kathy Ambrose, Ann Walter, Linda Patterson, Marsha Koncsol, and Janet Grubbs.  Rear, left to right:  Beverly Bowser, Audrey Jenkins, Harriet Bowser, Phyllis Bowser, and Marsha Dell.

Notice that we were all wearing dresses, the standard party wear at that time.  Pants were for playtime, dresses for school, church, parties, and all other occasions. We looked forward to getting dressed up.

As I remembered and thought about this party, I suddenly realized that it was a hugely generous gift for my mother to host a birthday party for me.  She was a very private person and was extremely careful and protective about her home.  To have 10 little girls there for a party must have nearly frazzled her nerves.  It's strange that only now am I recognizing the birthday party for the gift it was.  Thank you, Mom!


This post is being contributed to 123rd Edition of the Carnival of Genealogy:  A Birthday Party! which is hosted by Jasia at Creative Gene.  I'm sending thanks to her for hosting the Carnival and happy birthday wishes because she's celebrating her own birthday in November.  Thank you, Jasia, and Happy Birthday!
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Sunday, October 28, 2012

Kind Thoughts...


... for my great-grandmother,
Elizabeth (Laws) Doyle --

Take this little messenger
As a token true,
That the wish recorded here
Is sincere for you.





My sincere wish for you, Gramma, is for a Very Happy Birthday.  I hope your family and the angels are celebrating your birthday with you!

Elizabeth was born on this date, October 28, in 1845.

--Nancy. .

Friday, October 26, 2012

Just Four Photographs...

...to show the life story of the woman who was my maternal great-grandmother, Mary (Thompson) Bickerstaff.  In truth, I should be thrilled to have four. For some ancestors I have none. I guess I'm greedy:  Mary lived until 1940, through several decades when home photographs were popular.  Is there some cousin, somewhere, who may have more photos?  If so, I hope they'll share!

Today is Mary Bickerstaff's birthday.  She was born on October 26, 1872.  Happy Birthday, Gramma!
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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Photos Not Taken - Wishful Wednesday

Supine, horizontal, procumbant, flat on my back, with foot elevated.  That's me, most of the time, for the next several weeks after foot surgery last Thursday.  No laptop, no i-pad, no i-phone... just books, magazines, TV, and my imagination!  It's led to wishful thinking on my part, and not only that I could walk....  So for the next several weeks I'll be composing Wishful Wednesday posts.  Join me in posting your own if you'd like.

This week I've been thinking about photographs I wish someone had taken, both from my own life and from the lives of ancestors.  Yes, I know, wishing never accomplished anything, but it does pass the time and there's the slightest possibility that some other family member may have the very photographs on my wish list.

These are the photographs I wish existed.
  • The trike I used as a young child.  It was a positively dandy trike.  Not your little 12- or 18-inch miniature thing, but a real trike.  I think the handlebars were probably 30 inches high.  It had a wide rear wheel-base, which meant few spills.  And unlike the image at right, it had a platform between the back wheels where another child could stand, hold onto my back, and we could wheel around together.  As far as I know, no photo exists.  

  • While I'm talking about wheeled vehicles, I wish someone had taken a photo of me on the big bicycle I learned to ride
  • before I was tall enough to sit on the seat. It had been my aunt's, was handed down to my brother, then to my sister, then to me.  It was one of those old-fashioned affairs with wide handlebars, wide wheels, and a wide seat.  It was as heavy as all get-out.  Yet somehow, as a 6 or 7 year-old, I learned to ride it while standing on the wheels to balance and pedal.  (Above, my 6'4" tall brother-in-law is about to give his son a ride on it.)

  • Couples on their wedding days.  While the newspaper description of my mom in her wedding dress (a gown of blue velvet with a cameo brooch... an arm bouquet of pink roses) is helpful, it's not the same as having a photograph of my parents, Lee and Audrey (Meinzen) Doyle together on their wedding day.  Ditto a wedding photo of my paternal grandparents, Gust and Beulah (Gerner) Doyle, except in their case I have no description.  If a wedding photo ever existed it's a likely possibility that Gust's second wife would have destroyed it.  I have no wedding photo of Robert and Emma (Bickerstaff) Meinzen, or of most of my other ancestors.  Does some other descendant have photos to share? I'm wishing!

  • My great-grandmothers' kitchen. I would love to see how their kitchens were arranged, the appliances they used, how they organized their storage, dishes, utensils. I think it would be fun to have a photo of Elizabeth (Armitage) Meinzen, Mary (Thompson) Bickerstaff, Tressa (Froman) Doyle, and Elvira (Bartley) Gerner in their kitchens. Likewise, I would be thrilled to find photos of their husbands, Henry Meinzen, Jesse Bickerstaff, William Doyle, and Fred Gerner, at work.

  • One of our catches after a very successful fishing trip to to Mosquito Lake.  Several times we caught so many fish it look longer to clean and fillet them than to drive to the lake, catch the fish, and drive home. Without the photo it's just an unbelievable fish story. 

Do you have a Wishful Wednesday list?
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Friday, October 19, 2012

Au Gratin Potatoes a la Bill Knapp - Family Recipe Friday

A number of years ago there was a small restaurant chain called Bill Knapp's.  Our family loved to eat there. They offered plain food deliciously prepared:  perfect for picky eaters. They sometimes offered a coupon special that included soup, salad, an entree with 2 sides, plus a dessert, all for the unbeatable price of about $6.00 (as recently as about 10 years ago).  We usually chose their fried chicken or fish and always a side of au gratin potatoes.  Always!  Dessert favorites were chocolate cake and apple pie.  On birthdays the waiter honored the celebrant with a double layer chocolate cake, often chilled, with a single candle in the middle, no charge.  The perfect ending. 

And then Bill Knapp's restaurants closed.  We searched for just one restaurant that was still open and found none.  We mourned.  We may even have moped a little.  We reminisced.   When discussing where to eat out, invariably one of us would say, "Too bad Bill Knapp's closed."

My younger daughter most mourned the loss of Bill Knapp's au gratin potatoes.  With hope, she searched the internet for imitation recipes and found one that is nearly identical in taste.  We've been enjoying them ever since.  (After my surgery today she blessed us with a pan of these for dinner -- good tonight, good tomorrow.)  If you remember and miss Bill Knapp's au gratin potatoes or if you love potatoes and cheese, here's the recipe.  I hope you enjoy the cheesy potato goodness as much as we do!

Bill Knapp's Au Gratin Potatoes

Cook and dice:  4# potatoes

Grate or cube:  3/4# cheddar cheese.  Set aside 1/2 cup.

Melt:  1/4 c. butter or margarine
Add:  1/4 c. flour  and stir

In large saucepan combine & bring to boil:
1 3/4 c. water
1/2 tsp. salt
Remove from heat and stir in butter/flour.  Mix.  Return to heat and bring to boil. 
Boil 3-5 minutes.  Reduce heat.

Add:  all but 1/2 c. cheddar cheese
Add & mix:  diced potatoes

Pour into 8 greased ramekins or one 9" pan, greased.
Top with remaining 1/2 c. cheese.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.
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Tuesday, October 9, 2012

An Anniversary Remembered

Sometimes memory leads, sometimes a photo leads.  This time the photo leads.  It takes my memory back to the fall of 1964.  In truth, I don't have a clear recollection of this event but it matters little:  the photograph tells so much.

My brother, Bob, and his soon-to-be fiancĂ©e, Jan, are at the kitchen sink in the home where he and I grew up.  They came for a weekend visit from Ada/Blufton, Ohio, where he was in college and she was teaching school.  It's a late afternoon, probably on a holiday weekend, and we've just eaten an early dinner.  Bob and Jan offered to do the dishes.  Jan, anticipating helping in the kitchen, produced her own apron and they set about washing and drying.  (Had my mother been a little less care-full and particular about her kitchen she probably would have thrilled to give up the job of dishes.  As it was, I can imagine her hovering off to the side in watchfulness that all was done properly.)

I took this photograph those many years ago when I was just a kid.  It's been squirreled away until a few months ago when I discovered it -- and promptly misplaced it.  During a more thorough search last night I rediscovered it and scanned it.  It may seem like an unusual photo to post for an anniversary but over and over again it came to mind.  I love the photo for so many reasons, not the least of which is that my brother and future-sister-in-law are working side by side. 

Bob and Jan were married on October 9, 1965.  They celebrated only 29 years of marriage because Jan passed away in June, 1995.  I wanted to honor this day in memory of their marriage. 

Bob has since remarried.  He has such good taste in women and I'm delighted to have two wonderful sisters-in-law.

Birthday Beauty

My sister, Marsha, was ready for the special occasion of the senior prom in the photo at right.  (Click on the photo to enlarge it.)

She looks like a princess and completely at ease dressed in her gown.  She's older now and yet on nearly every occasion she looks beautiful and gives the impression of being calm, collected, and completely comfortable.

Today's her birthday.
Happy Birthday, Marsha!



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Monday, October 8, 2012

First Anniversary

It's hard to believe it's been a year since my daughter, Natasha, married Jesse, the love of her life.

From newlyweds, to a tour of Rome, to a new baby, to farm-owners, and restoring a farmhouse, they've had a busy first year.




Happy Anniversary, Natasha & Jesse!
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