Time with a Cousin

November 6, 2011

Over the last couple of years, I have run into a “new” cousin. It started when I had time to listen to Genealogy PodCasts. A PodCast is like a radio show, but on an iPod. I would listen to these PodCasts going to and from work on the train. One of those PodCasts was Dear MYRTLE.

I had met her a couple of times over the past couple of years. She talked about Second Life (2nd Life), so I tried it out a couple of times, but then finally learned a little more and found the “virtual” meetings were very interesting, so I became a little more active. Later she and I did a joint meeting where we shared our genealogy screens. We soon realized that we might be related.

Dear MRYTLE was to give the talk at Lunch for the Family History Day this past weekend, so my wife, Patti and I left on Thursday to meet up with Dear MYRTLE and Mr. Myrt. We had a great time.


One of the things we wanted to do was to see the house where my grandparents lived and the house that my Dad built. We did that.

Mr Myrt and I mentioned that Valley Forge was not that far away, so se took a run over there. Clearly the Visitors Center had changed since the last time we have been there, so we went in to “look around”. Mr Myrt had an ancestor who was at Valley Forge so we wanted to check that out. Then Dear MYRTLE mentioned a name from her ancestry who was there as well. That was the same family name that she and I shared in a presentation, so then I remembered that I had two ancestors that were in Valley Forge that winter.


Dear MYRTLE’s ancestor and one of mine (same family) were from Maryland, so we looked him up and where the Monument was, and Mr Myrt mentioned his, and he was from Maine, which is where my other ancestor was from.


What a beautiful day to spend time with “family” looked and finding Monuments for our ancestors.


We wanted to visit the Chapel at Valley Forge, so we did.


When we pulled in the driveway to park, the bells were ringing. Not a normal thing to happen on a Friday afternoon. Here a couple were celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary at the chapel, with the kids and grandchildren all there.

That family were able to “relive” the wedding day of that couple, 60 years later, but will be able to tell the story of last Friday, as a new chapter for them, but another chapter for the happy couple with their family.

Valley forge was just out side of the door and all of the history that took place there, but they will remember the story of the 60th Wedding Anniversary of the lovely couple.

Family History Day with Ancestry.com – Exton PA

November 6, 2011

Just returned from the Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania’s Family History Day with Ancestry.com in Exton, PA. More can be found on their website http://genpa.org/.

This was certainly a very special “weekend away” to spend some time listening to talks about genealogy. Perhaps another blog will be about what I learned, but this one is about the Luncheon Talk by Dear MYRTLE. Her talk was “Let them eat Jam”.

I won’t go into her talk, as I hope that if you get a chance to hear her speak, you will take that opportunity to do so. But her point, for me at least, was to remember that not everyone thinks about what we do as family history researchers, is interesting, at least the way we do. It’s not about the names, dates, locations, and events that we find, but others remember family history through stories or returning to a place where an event took place, or going to a place that we have heard about and the story that went along with that place.

Earlier I have spoken about the Flight 93 Memorial, about returning to Gettysburg, where I had a “cousin” shot in the battle at Culps Hill. Heard about those stories, read about the people, but then to physically go there to experience the place and let the stories flash before our eyes.

Exton, was a miss-named place for this conference. I know where Exton is, I grew up a couple of miles from Exton.

What a surprise when my GPS landed me about a mile from where I really grew up. It was Lionville, PA, not Exton. The hotel was 1/4 of a mile from the bus stop that took my to High School. I walked to and from that bus stop for a number of years. (Not quite up hill both ways), but I could see the bus stop from the hotel.

Over the past number of years, through email, I kept in touch with the current owners of the house that my Grand-Parents lived in and my Dad and his brothers and sisters grew up in. Patti and I had made arrangements to meet with them Friday night, just to “see the place”. He was very interested in hearing about the family who lived in the house. His wife wasn’t there when I first met him, but he relayed to me that she was sorry that she hadn’t met the family who stopped by a number of years ago to take pictures of the house.

I created a small family history for the family, complete with some pictures of the family, including pictures of the kitchen wood burning stove, the wood barrel where wood for the stove was kept, and a few other pictures of the house.

It was a small token of thanks for allowing us to visit.

Dear MYRTLE reminded us, that not everyone one thinks about Family History the way that we do.

For me, it’s like sending Family Group Sheets, with some data, lots of missing data, request to help fill in the blanks, a self addressed, stamped envelope, repeatedly, and getting nothing in return.

But, from this experience, I  was greeted with “you’re holding out on me” because I didn’t have enough of the stories for our host and hostess. They wanted more.

Dear MYRTLE talked about the ‘next’ generation’s reaction to Family Group Sheets, but the young adults of this family were very interested in the stories. In fact the son, a high school senior, listened to all of the stories. Didn’t have the glazed over eyes that Dear MYRTLE talked about. Oh, I know those looks from young adults.

I was prepared for the reaction the Dear MYRTLE talked about, but was greeted with a completely different response. I had put some of my genealogy information in the back of my car. Why, I am not sure, but I did. That still wasn’t enough.

Clearly, the family who currently lives in my Grandparents home, wanted to hear the story about the family. They had experienced some of that when my Dad and his cousins visited the house just after the current owners bought the house. We’re talking days after they bought the house. My Dad told the stories about the house, and they still remembered them and wanted more.

We’ll make a return trip soon, but I am posting this as a reminder that we may find folks interesting, not in the Names, Dates, Places, Events, but the Stories about the People. In this specific case, the Jam for this family was the stories of those who lived in that house at an earlier time.

Learning: Be ready to tell the Story, not the facts.

A walk into the past

August 24, 2011

In a couple of days, we will be traveling into New England to meet up with some Genea—Bloggers.

New England Geneabloggers Bash

This past April, I decided to visit a Genealogy Conference and decided to visit the New England Regional Genealogy Conference in Springfield, MA. I met up with some Facebook and Genea-Bloggers for the first time and walked away with many more.

The Genea-Blogging community is always talking about how the “west coast” has these gatherings and the reports in Blogs, Twitter, and Facebook all sound like they are having a wonderful time.

A group of New England Bloggers will gather this weekend for a Bash. To say “can’t wait” is an understatement. Just to be able to sit down, face to face to chat will be wonderful.

As Patti and I are preparing for this trip (a first for her), Patti has been gathering the information she needs to join the Mayflower Society. She should have an opportunity to chat with other Mayflower Society members with hopes that she will be encouraged to continue with the “paper work” involved with that effort.

The drive will be between 5 and 6 hours, so now that we have made the drive, what do we do. Just come home, or make a vacation out of it. It’s funny, two retired people and a vacation. A new concept for me. Aren’t we already on vacation?

The choices were Maine or Cape Cod. I have ancestors from Maine, and Patti from New England and Cape Cod. As they say “six of one, a dozen of another”.

Earlier in my research, I had met up with a gentleman who was the grandson of a place I had been researching. Through Facebook, I had made “friends” with a couple of folks with the same Surname. They were from Maine, and this gentleman said he had living relatives in Maine. I was reminded of that, so I reached out to that FB friend, only to find out that I was not the first person who tried to make the connection between this gentleman and this FB friend. Not a connection.

HOWEVER, in a response, this Facebook friend sent me a ‘hint’ of a museum, in Maine, with the her Surname. Checking that museum out, online, I found that it was located at the Acadia National Park. That just happened to be the destination, for us, when / if we went to Maine. My maternal Grandmother had deep roots in that area, my family growing up would visit there in the summer, and my grandparents went there every summer to spend the summer.

A couple of years ago, we visited my grandmother’s “hang outs”. One of which was the Carroll Homestead at Acadia National Park.

Getting more information about the Museum, I had emailed the National Park Service, through the website, for the Museum and was forwarded to the Ranger in charge of programs for the Museum. In the email from the Ranger, it turns out that the Carroll Homestead is open on Tuesday’s and a descendent of John Carroll is part of the Open House to “tell stories” about the family.

With any luck, on Tuesday, I will meet a cousin to hear stories about our ancestors and to walk into the past, in the home of my 3rd Great-Grandfather.

With any luck, and a good internet connection, I’ll be able to blog about this “Great Adventure” and this Walk into the Past.


Air Force Memorial, Arlington, VA

June 5, 2011

For Memorial Day, 2011, we went to the Arlington National Cemetery and to the Air Force Monument in Arlington. Please visit this Slideshow to see some of the pictures of that memorial.

Thank you,

Alaska Cruise – 05/16/11

May 17, 2011

Our last day afloat, traveling from Ketchikan back to Vancouver. A chill out day, packing our suitcases.

The hi-light of the day was the show called Dreams, an enchanted classic. With a little Faith, Trust, and Pixie Dust, a young girl’s which becomes a dream come true.

We were told that we might see Orca’s, as they had been seen just ahead of us. Unfortunately, we didn’t see any.

We are all backed up. Lot’s of pictures, lots of stories of our own. I’ll post pictures when I get back home.

Early to rise in the morning, in Vancouver, then a long flight back to Philadelphia through Chicago.

This blog certainly didn’t do justice to our experiences. Each of us will share our pictures over the next coupled of days, when we get home to our own computers and a hi-speed connection.

Thanks for following our journey.

Alaska Cruise – 05/15/11

May 17, 2011

Ketchikan was our next stop. Today we were able to go on the same adventure. Lighthouse, Totems, and Eagles, not necessarily in that order. This was a great trip, but for some reason, Jenn’s camera lost all of her pictures for this trip. devastating to say the least. We saw many Eagles, flying, sitting in trees, sitting on nests, most pointed out to us by our tour guide, we found a couple ourselves. One light house, and a Totem village. Of course, local stories as we traveled on a boat.

Carrie, Patti, and I walked around town. Carrie and I walked on Creek Street. It is a creek that has stores on both sided of this creek.

Alaska Cruise – 05/14/11

May 17, 2011

Arrived in Juneau. Originally, Juneau was a fishing outpost for the local Tlingit Indians until gold was discovered by Chief Kowee of the Auk Tlingit Tribe. More stories about gold and a town that sells diamonds.

We had to split up again. Jenn, Patrick, and Carrie went on an early Mendenhall Glacier and Whale Quest. Patti and I went on the next tour. In fact we passed on the dock as they were getting off and we were getting on. Two very different experiences, however. They had am up close and personnel view of a humpback whales. They saw a number of whales, including one with a calf.

Patti and I saw Orca’s, two or three pods of them. Another awesome experience. We went a little further and saw a her of seals just hanging out on the shore line. We later saw two humpback whales, perhaps a couple of the ones that the rest saw.

After the 3 hours jet boat ride, our bus took us the Mendenhall Glacier. Wow. One of the rangers told us that some of the local fishermen would come up to the glacier lake that is there, pick up some ice, and use it, as it would last a couple of days.

Back on board the Disney Wonder, we saw Toy Story, the Musical. Very cool show.


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