St Clair Cemetery, Mt Lebanon, Allegheny Co, PA

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Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year Cousins

Another year has come and gone. I've worked on my roots and
uncovered some really neat stuff this year. I've been able to share
it with my readers and with my cousins by the dozens. I've got more
clues unraveled and look forward to revealing them in the new year.
Maybe 2008 will be the year I finally knock down my 200 year old
brick wall!

In the meantime, sometimes our blood talks. And this time, my blood
is singing out loud. One of my faithful readers, a cousin on my
dad's side is coming to town. What is really cool is we have only
communicated by email. Let's see. I found him a couple of years ago
when I was doing all that work on my "family cemetery." You see,
it's his family, too.

James HENRY, who is my 3rd great-grandfather is his 2nd great-
grandfather. My dear Margaret Henry was the younger sister to his
dear Jane Glenn Henry. We've swapped stories and documentation over
the years. Now, he's coming to town for the New Year!

I plan to meet him and his wife for lunch. I also plan to look deep
in his face to find the family resemblance. Is he more of a HENRY or
more of a GLENN? Or does he resemble the other sides? I do know
that a lot of us who are descended from Margaret Henry all share a
resemblance even to the latest generation. This will be fun. I just
hope he's packing a suitcase of stories and goodies to share. And
who knows? Maybe lunch will take a few days!

It's another connection. It's my blood song. It's my family.

Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Twas The Night-- 2007 Geni Style

One of the great perks in genealogy is meeting some really neat people. Thought you'd enjoy the following:

T'was the night before Christmas....a Genealogy Tale

T'was the night before Christmas, her fingers tapping away
Typing piles of genealogy long into the dawn of the day.
Where's Ruth, George, Sally, Michael, Bill and Jean?
Putting families in order from bits that she gleaned.

Who is Marshall Ney Sterling? She never learned for sure
And, after years of search, his name carried much allure.
Joshua Alpheus's relatives each carried one part of his name
One Joshua, one Alpheus - why couldn't they be the same?

In the glow of computer light, her eyes worn and dreary
If she'd ever find her ancestors, of this she grew weary.
She'd whisper their names sometimes late at night
As though they'd answer and save her from this plight.

But no one answered -- she'd listened quite well you see
It was as though all wanted her to just leave them be!
"Oh Santa!" she thought, "If I could just figure it out,
I'd jump high from my chair, clap, scream and shout!"

She closed the file on the crumbling newspaper stack
Too many names, dates, and spouses she lacked.
She punched the OFF switch - rather too hard --
As she wondered if a misspelled name was just a fraud?

She thought of everyone often, before drifting off to sleep
Said a prayer to the heavens about secrets ancestors keep.
Once in awhile, a face from ago slipped into her dreams
Grandma wanted to tell her the family's story, it seemed.

But come light of day, the faces and stories all disappeared.
She was left with clues she'd never figure out, she feared.
This night was different...the faces and features oh so clear
As Grandma told story after story--oh my, was she a dear!

Awakening on Christmas, she wondered, "Am I insane?
"To be chasing my ancestors down every street and lane!"
She shook her head silently, vowing to just "Give it up!"
And went down the stairs to find the nearest coffee cup.

When what to her wonderment, familiar persons circled her tree
She couldn't get over how "they all look a little like -- ME!"
Her Grandma stepped forward, a Bible in her wrinkled palms
"I think you need this, it's got our names near the psalms."

The elated researcher was beside herself with glee
"All my ancestors heard and came looking for me!"
Dropping her head, she quickly searched the Bible's pages...
When she looked up, her family had slipped into the ages.

The star at the treetop twinkled, reflecting the many lights
While tears flowed as she remembered having this sight...
"Oh Santa, this was the best gift I've ever gotten, I swear!
"To have my sought-for ancestors standing right there!"

Standing silent she remembered her promise from before--
And leaping up and down, clapping, she gave a hearty roar!!
"Yes! Yes! I just knew I was chosen to trace our roots
And the "find" of this bible has me kicking up my boots!

Thank you Santa and Thank you God!
Thank you Grandma!
And... Thank you to all of my big extended family,
present and distant past,
who all trust me to unravel their lives, secrets,
and to tell their stories at last.

Merry Christmas--- and may you have a "visitation" in your Christmas dreams!

Permission granted to reprint "T'was the night before Christmas....a Genealogy Tale," by Judy Florian as long as this complete statement remains with the poem. Ms. Florian can be reached at: cageycat "at" Show love to someone on a holiday!

Friday, December 28, 2007


The following is credited to a Frenchman named Crèvecoeur in the late 18th century in his "Letters from an American Farmer". Thought you'd enjoy it.....

"Ubi panis ibi patria [where I earn my bread, that is my fatherland], is the motto of all emigrants. What then is the American, this new man? He is either a European or the descendant of an European, hence that strange mixture of blood, which you will find in no other country. (...) He is an American, who, leaving behind him all the ancient prejudices and manners, receives new ones from the new mode of life he has embraced (…) Here individuals of all nations are melted into a new race of men, whose labours and posterity will one day cause great changes in the world. Americans are the western pilgrims who are carrying along with them that great mass of arts, sciences, vigour, and industry which began long since in the East; they will finish the great circle."

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

The Best Christmas Cards

Every year we get bombarded with Christmas cards. Some just have
signatures while others give details of the year. You know the cards
I like best? It's the ones where people have thought of me. One
card this year came from New York and had a NJ will abstract from the
early 1815 era in it. Another card came from San Francisco and had
an obituary from 1969 in it. Still another cousin picked up the
phone and called me with a tidbit he had just gleaned.

What joy I have at opening these cards! I just squeal with delight
and laughter. They are the best ones! They are the thoughtful ones
whose givers really know me and what I love to do. No, no, I'm not
morbid. I'm just looking for every clue on the family's past. After
all, I really enjoy the huge mystery I've been unraveling for the
last 12 years or so.

Perhaps, next year, even more kin from across this grand land of ours
will be more thoughtful and send me more obits, wills, and pictures.
Many thanks to those who take time and remember. Remember the past
and remember our roots.

Merry Christmas to all.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Ghost of Christmas Past

As I was wrapping the gifts to place under the Christmas tree the
other day, I stopped and wondered. Wondered how it is that we feel
the need to give so much to our families. Wondered how it is that so
many of have forgotten the past.

Christmas about 200 years ago was quite different from today. There
was no big turkey, stuffing and excessive eating of sweets. The
women baked and got ready for the day. However, they usually did
spend a good amount of their time baking as most families were mostly
self sufficient. The men would go out in search of meat. Bear and
deer were commonly found on the table.

There was certainly no over spending on frivolous toys. Toys were
hard to come by, and who had the time anyway? Our early American
ancestors were busy surviving. Yes, they celebrated the holiday.
They didn't work that day. If they lived near family, they would go
and visit for a few days. I can just hear the excitement as the
sleigh bells rang and the carriages carried cousins back forth.

Small gifts might be exchanged and children were thrilled to be given
a small cake, a penny, some sweetmeat, or even a new hat or dress.
Excess was something the majority of American settlers did not have.

The children might lock out their teacher thus demanding a treat
before the teacher could come back in. This practice appears to have
been quite common with the school aged and teenagers with both
schoolteachers and Sunday School teachers. The family may go to
church to spend time worshiping.

The family spent the time together, thanking God for His Gift to them
and thanking Him for their freedoms.

Hmm.. Maybe we can learn something from the past after all. Perhaps
it's time for history to repeat itself this season.

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 14, 2007

When Irish Eyes Are Smiling......

Ever have that kind of day when someone plants a bug in your ear?
Ever have that kind of day when someone suggests that our Irish
forefathers could have been less than truthful?

I've been following a conversation regarding early Irish immigrants
and the information they provided to the authorities. One source
said they were told the Irish tended to try and hide their personal
history from the English. The source went on to explain the English
suppression of about 800 years of Irish folk led the Irish to "fudge"
a little as they tried to keep information away from their English

Another source, who happens to be a cousin of mine, donated his two
cents worth and explained it was the Anglican Church who persecuted
those who did not belong. Mainly, it was the Presbyterians and the
Catholics who received the brunt force of this. Combined with the
ever recurring potato famines in Ireland, it is no wonder that many
early Irish left Ireland for the lush green lands of the American
colonies where they could practice their religions in freedom.

How does one conduct research in Ireland? We tried several years ago
to hire a local genealogist in County Down, Ireland. We hired one,
gave her the information we had and what we suspected. She took our
money and spit back the information we had provided her. To my
knowledge, there was no research done over there.

Recently, some of the Irish parishes are getting their information
online. My understanding is it can be quite pricey after the initial
index search is completed. If you choose this route, be sure to
verity the counties who have information available as well as the
time span.

I, for one, can't wait for more parishes and more time spans to
become available. I might even be willing to pay the price if only I
can find my early Irish smiling eyes.