Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Is Grandma Tossing and Turning?

Lorena Grace Sanford - age 18
As I prepared to enter high school here in Memphis back in the early 60s, I remember my Mother telling me one day that my Dad would be rolling in his grave if he knew that I was going to Central High School and not Tech High, his alma mater. I was horrified!
Not knowing much about my Dad or his family anyway, I will always remember that ‘visual’ scenario in my head, and I honestly felt as though I might be betraying him. It was, of course, the first time I had ever heard that particular phrase. Mother assured me that I was making the right choice, since the school I was attending had a college-focused curriculum, and that my Dad would have been proud of me. I gave a sigh of relief, but I've always remembered that vivid phrase and have used it a few times myself since then.
I think my Grandmother might be rolling in her grave today. In fact, I’m pretty sure she is!
Lorena Grace Sanford Wallace Werkhoven was born on 5 Aug 1896. So on 4 June 1919, when the Senate confirmed the amendment to the constitution that would give women the right to vote, she would soon be twenty-three years old and had just given birth to my Mother on January 10th of that same year.  She would be twenty-four the following year when the amendment was fully ratified. 1
Naturally, she rushed right out to vote. Right?
Wrong! My Grandmother was a firm believer that a woman’s place was in the home and had no business whatsoever involving themselves in politics. It went completely against her personal faith. So did drinking, dancing and other “tools of the devil.”
Yep. She was a strict Southern Baptist, and so were all of her friends. But I loved her dearly and just learned to live with her distinct beliefs, even if I didn’t always agree with them.
Thankfully, my Mother did not follow her mother’s belief about voting and took the first opportunity to show her duty to her country by voting for the first time in the 1940 election. She turned twenty-one the previous January and always told me about her first time voting. She even took me with her a few times when I was a child.
Obviously, I did the same. The first election I was eligible to vote in was the exciting, but controversial 1968 election. I turned twenty-one the 5th of June that year - the same day that Robert F. Kennedy was shot. He died the next day. The times were so turbulent that I knew it was my obligation to vote to try to make a difference.
When I became a mother myself, I also took my children with me to vote and always preached the importance of voting to each of them.
My Mother tried so many times to get Grandmother to register to vote, but she could never persuade her to do so. Grandmother lived to the age of 89 without ever setting foot in a voting booth.
That old phrase came back to me like a flash last night when the first woman in history was placed into position by one of the major political parties to run for the office of President of the United States.
Wow, I thought as I watched the confirmation occur. I’ll bet Grandmother is rolling in her grave. Seriously, she may be tossing and turning.
I think I’d better go to her gravesite soon and check to see if the earth has been moved. If anyone could do that, it would be her!


@2016 Copyright by Carla Love Maitland

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Breaking Down a Major Brick Wall – for Someone Else!

Sometimes I help others begin their ancestry research. When I do that, I usually create a private tree on to help guide me. I build a tree with my friend as the “home person” and look for clues from that point forward. If I’m lucky, the friend has at least some information on ancestors for at least two generations back to help me begin.

Since I’ve not worked on my own tree (or even written on my blog) in a while, I decided to step back into genealogy research by going back to work on a friend’s tree. I had begun developing the tree before Christmas and worked on it quite often until around January or February. 

I had gotten a couple of his lines “across the pond” and had even provided documentation to help him qualify for the SAR and his daughter for the DAR if they so desired.

Nevertheless, I had gotten completely stuck on who the parents of his paternal great grandfather were! It was odd that there appeared to be no information on someone whose relationship was that close. So back to the drawing board I went, adding other research tools - and still coming to a complete standstill.

Then I remembered a recent blog post written by the Legal Genealogist, Judy R. Russell. Judy sensibly reminded us to read every word.  

Well, heck, I know that, and I most certainly do that…don’t I? Well, heck, I guess not!

In going back through the same records that I had looked at before, I actually stopped and read the hint information on one that I hadn’t really looked at before. The reason I hadn’t was because the gentleman I was researching had been married for 48 years to the same woman. This was a marriage record and the woman’s name was different.

What I failed to realize in my first perusal was that the gentleman in this record matched every single thing I knew about the man I was researching: approximate age and exact place where he lived. I had forgotten  that his wife had passed away in 1928. He was 65 years old at that time, so it never occurred to me that he might have remarried.

So I decided to open the record anyway and received a pleasant surprise. He had decided to marry again at the wonderful age of 71 years old! And not only that, the marriage record asked for his parents’ names and their places of birth! Hallelujah!

I couldn’t believe it. Jackpot. I found his father’s name and that he was born in Virginia. I also obtained his mother’s name and the fact that she was born in Ohio.

As I plugged that information into the tree on Ancestry, I was able to find them in various census records. There was only one problem: in every one of those records, his mother gave her place of birth as Kentucky.  Well, her son was 71, after all, when he gave out that information. Maybe he just got confused.

I hope he wasn’t confused on her name, though, because I’ve found nothing on her – yet. That’s okay. I’ve only just begun. And I’m most assuredly reading every word!

As to my own family tree? Watch out brick walls. I’m coming after you next!

@2016 Copyright by Carla Love Maitland