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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Halloween and Fall Festivals

One of my cousins, not really so distant, truly enjoys Halloween.  I know how busy she is but I can't let Halloween go by without noting it here.  Personally, I love Fall and Halloween, both.  It is a time in California where the summer transitions into winter and can take anywhere from what seems like two months to just a few short weeks.

This year I offer a photo collection that shows off a bit of Halloween and Fall in Northern California.

Happy Halloween!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Honestly, some Honesty

In my life, I try to surround myself with people of good loyal character who are honest and hold myself to that too.  Walking a fine line of honesty usually means that you are too close to the edge and may cross the line.  Crossing the line even a little leads to contradiction and deception even if the end result means you are just a bit insincere.

My quest to complete my family tree has not quite run into a full story of deception or impropriety.  I may run across something someday.  It could be interesting.  There is that McGuire great grandfather of mine after all.  For now, I leave you with this......

Sometimes the truth,
we are tempted to hide.
Due to our guilt,
or just simple pride.
An exaggeration,
may lead to a lie.
Those that affected,
may break down and cry.
When honesty,
we try to avoid.
are often destroyed.
Our intentions,
are not to distress.
The only solution,
is to genuinely confess.
If we continue these ways,
we shall never gain trust.
For healthy relationships,
it’s an absolute must.
When we have done wrong,
we should be honest and frank.
People will appreciate,
in the end they will thank.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Links for Researching a Family Tree

My Favorite Links for researching a family tree

Family Search:

Just Google your surname, individual name, and location:

Find A Grave:

There are other sites that I explore on occasion but these are where the majority of my research originates.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

My Ancestors and Moving Out....of The Agrarian Society

I used to work in "Corporate America" and worked for a CEO around Y2K who used to say that we needed move out of the "Industrial Society" and into the "Technology Age".  He'd always start his speech off with referring to the "Agrarian Society" (one that revolves around agriculture) and then move forward to more modern business eras and concepts.  He'd emphasize the fact that we needed to advance from industrial age thinking to technological ways.  His main point in all of this was that we were behind the curve in this technological age.  He may have been right.  But why do I bring this up now?

In my recent research about my ancestors, I have found that the majority were farmers.  The word agrarian stuck with me all of these years.  I must admit to it sounding appealing even at the time of the "Big CEO" speech telling us to move forward.  Farming sounded so great, rather mundane, and a whole lot less stress than working in what I was doing in "Corporate America."  Don't get me wrong, I liked my job, the people that I worked with, but somehow longed for a simpler time and life.

As I've researched my ancestors, a trend in occupation overwhelms the vast majority of my direct line family tree members.  As is no surprise, the vast majority were farmers.  Farming dominates the occupation category on most census until around the turn of the century (1900).

There are a few exceptions to the farming.  I find my great great grandfather, Charles McGuire, living in New York City on the 1870 U.S. Census with the occupation of "coachman".  As you can probably figure out, that meant he drove a horse drawn wagon.  It would appear that his son/my great grandfather, Francis J. McGuire, did the same thing except that he was referred to as a driver.

All of this "big city" exception aside, the vast majority of my ancestors were farmers in 1870 whether they lived in Ireland, Germany, or the United States of America.  A few questions pop into my head about my "agrarian society" ancestors.  Were they strictly farmers?   When did the shift from farming to more industrial type jobs occur?  Did the women work outside of the home?

My German immigrant family, the "Vienop's", were certainly farmers.  Even once they were in Napa, California, the oldest generation farmed fruit orchards on their land.  However, they brought with them a trade from the old country.  They rolled cigars for a living.  This actually makes them easy to find on any census in the U.S. in the late 1800s/early 1900s.  Not only is their last name unique but their occupation a bit of a standout from the rest.

My Flanagan's probably had the most varied occupations early on (the late 1800s) than I have found in my other lines.  While they were most certainly farmers, several of my direct line chose other occupations.  My great grandfather, John Francis "Jack" Flanagan, went to correspondence school to learn mechanical engineering.  By 1904, he was he manager of the repair shop at a local car dealership in Napa.  As a mechanic, he spent his days quite differently than his childhood years growing up on a farm.  By 1918, he was back to being a farmer because there was no one else to run the family farm at the time.

As for the women, I have found that my great grandmother, Mary Elizabeth "Minnie" McLaughlin Flanagan was a school teacher.  Working outside of the home for women was generally not all that common.  Finding her as a school teacher was common for a woman if she did work outside of the home around 1890-1900.  One of her sister's, Katie McLaughlin, is indicated as a glove maker in one census after 1900.

I can see that from one generation to the next, the agrarian society that many of my ancestors lived in was phased out.  By the 1930 U.S. Census, my Vienop Family members are mainly contractors to include carpenters, plumbers, and bricklayers.  While they may have still owned a plum or cherry orchard here and there, it was not their primary occupation to farm.  In fact, a lot of the picking of fruit shifted to the women in my family.

I enjoy seeing what my ancestors' occupations were.  While farming could be a tough job, I still see the agrarian society as a back to basics type of life.  I love the technology at my fingertips and still like to run my fingers through the soil in my own yard.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Giving of your time....Giving back

When I was young, we'd go see my grandparents once a week in Napa during the summer.  We'd go on Wednesdays each week as that was our set day to visit.  I would sometimes ask why we couldn't go a different day.  My mom would say that it did not fit in with ours or my grandma's schedule.  I did inquire more about this and one thing really stood out.

Every Tuesday morning my grandma would volunteer for the Lutheran Braille program at St. John's Lutheran Church in Napa, California.  I recall at one point that she was the person leading the program.  The volunteers would use a braille printer to press pages to create Bible books for the blind.  They would also bind the books.  

As the years passed, my grandma aged, and ended up with health issues in her 70s near the end of her life. She had to give up her volunteerism.  Her obituary indicated that if people wanted to donate that they should give to the American Cancer Society or the Society For The Blind.   I recently looked up the Lutheran Braille program to find that it still exists today.  

What a way to give back to your church and community!   

About a year and half ago, I was attending a Girl Scout leadership meeting for our local service unit.  There was a woman present who had been a Girl Scout for over 50 years.  She had started as a young girl and continued to volunteer her time to the organization as an adult.  She was a cheery, friendly little lady.  Her goal at the meeting was to teach us a song for the 100th anniversary of Girl Scouts.   She got all of the troop leaders in attendance singing along to this newly learned song. 

Yet, another example of giving back to your community!

I have many other examples of people giving back too.  I used to work with a gentleman who was a leader within the organization that I worked for full-time.  Outside of his normal work hours, he would man the phones at a suicide hotline.  He would especially make time in the evening of various holidays to answer calls.  He was always vague about his experiences and conversations with people who were on the edge.  Suffice it say, I am certain he saved many and listened intently to everything that they said.  

This example of giving back really tops my list because most people are not cut out for this type of work!

I've been thinking a lot lately about how some people have it in them to give back with their time, while others sit by and watch it happen.  I came across the following online the other day:

I would rephrase the final line to say, "Let's see how many people can figure out a way to volunteer their time in helping others."

Time and time again, I have found several of my ancestors giving back to their community and church.  Several of my relatives helped start their church in their given community whether it was in Upstate New York or in Napa, California.  They gave money, time, and energy.  Even if you're not religious, you must recognize that churches are "community-centric" and give many people a place to belong, get help, and help others.

Even on this given day, I find that I could be doing more to give of myself and still seek the one thing....that one volunteer job where I can make an impact.  So far, my days take me to volunteering for the Girl Scouts, at my children's school, and in creation of the school yearbook (which includes mentoring students who create the pages).  As I write this down, I realize just how rewarding these "give backs" are.  Mind you, I give little money but give a whole lot of time.  My reward is all of the smiling faces that I see, most of which are children.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Blog and Genealogy Email, Correspondence, and Networking

I have been so fortunate over the past 3 and a half years in my genealogy research.  Not only have I been able to discover my family tree, I have been able to connect with so many people.  Some of these connections have been in person and some were in the virtual world of the computer.

In the virtual world, so many quick correspondence are possible.  I've posted to various message boards which have resulted in emails to and from various people with like interests or even people who share the same family line as myself.  I am so grateful for their responses and shared information.

Skype has proven to be a wonderful way to communicate with others about our family tree.  From New Zealand to New York to Ireland, I have met relatives that I would not have a chance to see in person everyday, year, or decade.

The "in person" meetings have been so genuine and amazing.  I can only say that I hold onto the memories of those meetings with sheer joy.

Trying to maintain all of these connections has proven to be quite the challenge.  My life takes me away from my genealogy depending on the day or month.  I do, however, keep thoughts of everyone who have contributed to my quest to find my family tree.   As living members of my tree or observers, you have made it so worth it.

Even if I am unable to make a personal contact with each and every one of you regularly, I want you to know that I appreciate all of you and our connection.


Saturday, October 5, 2013

The Ross' of Mercer County, Pennsylvania

A few years back, my husband decided to research his Ross line on his mother's side.  He'd always told me that they were Scottish and legend had it that they were related to Betsy Ross who is credited with making the first American flag.  Well, the latter has been disproven.  Betsy is not a blood relative and Ross was her last name by marriage.  It was a marriage that did not produce any children and her husband passed away.   She married again but seemed to have retained the Ross name which hit the history books when she crafted the flag.

All family legends aside, the fact that my husband is Scottish is true.  If you look up the Ross name online, you find that Clan Ross is a Highland Scottish clan.  Their castle is called Balnagown Castle located beside the village of Kildary in Easter Ross.  So, is this the line that my husband is related too?

My husband's original research on took him about four hours to complete.  In no time, he had "borrowed" information from a few other family trees and gotten his tree all the way back to Hugh Rarichies 1st Laird of Ross, his apparent 19th great grandfather.  He lived from 1300-1371 in Cromaty, Ross and Cromaty, Scotland.  It was his son William Ross 2nd Laird of Balngowan who apparently first lived in the castle.  He lived from 1340 to 1398.

When my husband first told me of his findings, I was a bit envious and somewhat doubtful.  In my own research, I have only made it back to 1690 Ireland with the potential of some Flanagan's who probably descend from Kings of Connaught in County Roscommon, Ireland.  I have little proof except family lore which has documentation back to around 1700.  Prior to that, we are stuck in 1707 Termonfeckin, County Louth, Ireland.  By the way, it's a pretty nice place to be stuck.

My doubt in this whole Ross Family tree creation was in that he borrowed the information from others who may or may not have actually proven that family line.  I reviewed his Ross tree that had proof and documentation back to about 1849 Pennsylvania.  That's when I stopped and advised my husband that he'd need to really dig up some proof of his line starting with the Ross' of Sandy Creek, Mercer County, PA.  He set aside his research for a while.

Recently, I forgot and left open on the computer and went to bed.  My husband seized the opportunity and decided to give it another go to prove his Ross line.  Well, he found a book that has been scanned into for Mercer County, Pennsylvania.  It proves his Ross line back to his original immigrant ancestor, George Ross, born 1629.  In 1658, George married Constance Little in Connecticut.

So, my husband is currently working to "prove" his 8th great grandfather and his immigration from Great Britain to the new world.  He has some cleaning up to on his Ross Family tree.  I've encouraged him to complete that clean up before he tries to move further back in time.

At this point, it is looking very much like Clan Ross of Balnagown Castle are his ancestors.  I am green with envy as I try to even work back 1 more decade on any of my family lines and feel successful if I can get back to around 1700.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Wordless Wednesday - Carneros

Map of El Rancho Rincon De Los Carneros, Circa 1880 - "P.Flannagan" indicated.