St Clair Cemetery, Mt Lebanon, Allegheny Co, PA

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Saturday, March 29, 2008

If You Don't Remember ....

I hear ethereal whispers, persuasive, soft and still, 
"Daughter, if you don't remember us, who will?"…

I don't know who first uttered this quote, but they could have been talking about me.  I hear the whispers of the past calling me to preserve their stories for the future.  I hear the whispers from the grave.

Today, I received a letter from Sweden.  This time, I had no clue when I looked at the return address.  With anticipation, I opened the letter.  It was from the granddaughter of my oldest living cousin in Sweden.  Stina's grandfather was the brother of my great grandmother who immigrated to America back in 1879.  We've been gone from Sweden for over a hundred years now.  Still, I hear the whispers calling me.

Stina is now in her 80s and neither reads nor speaks English.  Thankfully, her granddaughter has a fairly good command of English.  In the letter, she has a few surprises.  At least, I was surprised.  She tells of the area in Stockholm where my great grandmother's brother lived.  It was a poor area.  Now this in itself is not surprising.  If you read the history of Sweden, being poor was quite common.  So common that it is estimated 4 of 5 residents emigrated during the late 1800s to escape the poverty.  Many chose to come to America.  There is no doubt in my mind that had my great grandparents stayed in Stockholm, they too would have lived their lives in poverty.

The surprises in the letter come from sharing some of the life that Jonas Petter and his family had.  My heart ached for these children as I read the words of my cousin.  

It's interesting to learn about our past.  It's interesting to be able to talk about the past.  It's amazing when we can shed our rose colored glasses and look at the failings of our ancestors.  It's phenomenal when we can share their triumphs.

The past is calling me.  My family of old is whispering for me to tell their stories.  Is yours?  Sit still and listen.  You may be surprised.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Wearing of the Green, is it?

St. Patrick's Day.

It's a day of celebration of having Irish blood course through the
veins. Why wear green?

The wearing of the green was first worn in honor of St. Patrick who
used the Shamrock to demonstrate the Holy Trinity to the Irish people
back around 400 AD. In fact, the color blue was the first prominent
color associated with St. Patrick. Irish who became Christians would
wear shamrocks to show their support of Ireland and of the Roman
Catholic Church. Changing to wearing of the green seems to have
become popular in the 1700s.

Those Irish who are not Roman Catholic wear the color orange. Some
say this is because both orange and green coincide peacefully on the
Irish flag. Others say the orange is the Irish Protestant way to
honor William of Orange, a king of England, Ireland and Scotland in
the late 1600s. William of Orange was raised in the teachings of
Calvin and was Protestant.

The first known public St. Patrick's Day Celebration in the United
States was in Boston in 1737. Even George Washington allowed his
Irish troops to honor the day in 1780.

People who choose to wear orange today, in addition to the green, do
so to honor their Irish heritage. Another common method to honor
Irish heritage is to use the Anglicized Gaelic term 'Erin Go Bragh."
Ireland Forever.

My Irish blood soars. It courses through my veins as I research more
of my family history. My ancestors who chose to come to America
brought with them a tremendous heritage of courage, strength, and
deep religious beliefs.

Erin Go Bragh.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Take A Stand

This morning, I was cruising around a site with some old Civil War
Era newspapers on it. It's a free site and is focused on
Pennsylvania papers. Also included at this site are some of the old
Presbyterian papers of the time.

I found an article about Uncle Bob, that is, the Rev. Robert W Henry
(1827-1869). I've shared some of the information I have found on him
in the past with you. Imagine my surprise when I found a new article
this morning. It was in a Presbyterian paper from 1857.

Think about the times. Think about the issue that was in hot
debate. Think about the upcoming war. All of these thoughts raced
through my mind as I read the article.

In the article, an outspoken pro-slavery minister makes a statement.
In it, he writes the Rev. R W HENRY, who he says is anti-slavery, has
been asking him to remove to Chicago for the good of the church. Now
that is an interesting statement. He does include a telegraph from
the Rev. Henry, as well as other men, asking him to join them for a
meeting. They offered to pay his way and offered him several dates.
This man refused to go to the meeting. I'm curious as to what
happened to that man.

While I do know that Uncle Bob was a Presbyterian minister, I find it
interesting to see this article. I don't know his politics and I
don't know those of his family. All I know is the history books
portray them all as Republicans and strong Christian men. Is this a
glimpse into his character? Is this a glimpse into the thoughts of
his family?

His cousin, James GLENN, was a Captain in Co. D of the PA 149th. He
spent time in battle and was awarded a sword for his service at the
Battle of Seminary Hill at Gettysburg. Here is a part of the
comments found in the History of the Regiment Book by Nesbitt (1899).

"During his service he became known as a fighting officer,being
frequently assigned to other commands when severe fighting was
expected. He was almost reckless in his bravery. It was a common
remark among the boys that "the Captain didn't know when he was
licked" and after his attempt to rally half a dozen members of his
Company on the retreat from Seminary Hill at Gettysburg, to stop the
advance of a division of Lee's Army, followed by his service in the
Wilderness and other campaigns, the mention of his name was sure to
recall recollection of his bravery and soldierly qualities. He served
his entire term of service without sickness or wounds, and was
engaged in every march, skirmish or battle in which the Regiment

I still don't know their personal beliefs. I do know these were men
willing to take a stand. Stand and fight as in the case of James
GLENN, or stand and preach as in the case of the good Rev. Uncle Bob.

History is full of men and women who take a stand. Keep looking.
You'll be surprised at what stands our ancestors have taken at one
time or another. You'll learn more history about our country.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Where Are Those Papers?

Finding new clues is exciting. Finding new genealogy sites to visit
is also exciting. Just this week, I checked out a site called
Footnotes. Footnotes has many records available and it appears they
have some arrangement with the National Archives.

While they do allow a free name search, you must pay to see the
information. Lucky for me I noted they have a free seven day trial
available. Before you invest on their site, check to see if they
even have the areas of the country in which you are searching. Since
they don't have a lot from Western PA, I don't think I'll invest in
it at this time.

When I looked for the Naturalization Papers for grandpa John who came
from County Monaghan, Ireland, I had several hits. The closest
suspect in this case was naturalized in Pittsburgh in 1899. Being a
resourceful researcher, I first emailed the Allegheny County
Courthouse to see if they have a copy of the record there. I
provided the name, birth date and place, year of immigration, year of
suspected naturalization, where he lived at the time, and his
spouse's information. Nothing. I received a very nice note from the
courthouse saying they have no records.

So, I guess I either have to subscribe to Footnotes for one month or
go to NARA for the information. I'm not sure which will be the
better choice for me. I'm going to look around Footnotes some more
to see if I can find any other suspects in my family line. If I do,
then either the free seven day trial or an one month subscription
begins to make sense.

When searching for Naturalization records, be sure to ask for the
Intent to Naturalize Documents as well. That may provide more
information as to the boat and actual date of entry into the US.

One interesting note is that Footnotes does have some old FBI cases
on it. While I am unaware of any blood kin having these types of
files, it may be interesting just to read.

A quick update on my Australian cousin. I haven't heard back yet. I
don't know it they check their emails on a regular basis or if they
have changed their address. In any event, if anyone in Australia is
reading this, I am searching for the descendants of Joseph PATTERSON
b. 1843 in County Monaghan Ireland. Hope to hear from you soon.