Saturday, October 18, 2008

58th Edition of the Carnival of Genealogy Posted!

The 58th edition of the Carnival of Genealogy has been posted! You can read it here. The topic for the next edition is

Politics and Our Ancestors. The next edition of the COG will be published on Election Day in the U.S. (November 4). So it's the perfect time to research and reflect on what we know (or can find out) about our family members' involvement with the election process. Did one of your ancestors run for office? Who was President when your immigrant ancestors first set foot on American (Canadian, Australian, etc.) shores? What do you know about your grandparents' voting record? Which of your ancestors was first eligible to vote? Do you have any suffragettes on your family tree? What did the electoral process mean to your ancestors? Do you have a personal Election Day memory you'd like to share? Think about it, write about it, and submit it for the next COG! The deadline for submissions is November 1.


Light Blogging Ahead!

I just want to let everyone know that blogging will be light for the next several weeks as I am going to be busy with school work. I will still host the 12th edition of the Carnival of Central and Eastern European Genealogy, but I don't know how many posts I will write. I probably will not be posting as much until after Christmas. Stay tuned ...

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Another Meme I've Been Tagged to Participate in ...

Apple tagged me yesterday to participate in a meme that other genealogy bloggers have been participating in the past couples days. So, here I go:

Ten years ago I ...
  1. ... was a student. (Well, I'm still a student now.)
  2. ... was in middle school. (It's hard for me to believe that it has been that long.)
  3. ... thinking about what I wanted to be for Halloween.
  4. ... was part of my school's journalism club.

(I can't think of number 5. Either way, it would be connected with school.)

Five things on my to-do list for today:

  1. Go to class. (I have two classes later today.)
  2. Work on school work. (I'm doing that ...)
  3. Research for a paper. (I'm working on that ...)
  4. Go to Graduate School Fair. (I went to it.)
  5. Chores

Five foods I enjoy:

  1. Steak
  2. Dessert foods (Well, who doesn't?)
  3. Red delicious apples
  4. Cereal
  5. And lots of other foods ...

Five places I have lived:

Well, I've only lived in Michigan, and I can only come up with three distinct places (I'm not counting the different dorms I have lived in up at college.):

  1. Where I used to live in Michigan.
  2. Where my parents now live in Michigan.
  3. Up at college.

Five jobs I have had:

  1. Interned at an archives.
  2. Done some volunteer work.
  3. I have not had any paid jobs, though.

Five places I have visited that I want to visit again (Yes, I'm copying this one and the next this from Becky and Donna):

  1. Germany
  2. Austria
  3. England (I've been once, but I don't remember the trip because I was a baby at the time.)
  4. Western states of the United States (and the National Parks of the U.S.)
  5. Switzerland

Five places I want to visit that I have not yet visited:

  1. The rest of the United Kingdom and Ireland.
  2. Alaska
  3. NARA (I have not been to the archives yet.)
  4. Huntingdon, Pennsylvania
  5. Ancestral areas of Germany. (When I visited Germany, I did not go near any of the places my ancestors lived. Of course, at that time, I did not know where they were from.)

Five bloggers that I am tagging:

  1. Wendy of All My Branches
  2. Cathy of In Deeds
  3. Harold of Midwestern Microhistory: A Genealogy Blog
  4. Nancy of Fermazin Family Genealogy
  5. Al of Polish-American Genealogy Research

Well, that is it for this meme. I hope you had fun reading it. Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Poverty And My Ancestors: Blog Action Day 2008 Post

As I have done research on my family's history, I've come to learn that some of my ancestors were poor, possibly living in dire poverty. I say possibly only because I am still doing research into my ancestors, to find out what their lives were like, and I do not know exactly how poor some of them were.

What the little that I do know about the financial conditions of my ancestors comes from the research that I have done so far on my family. Out of the few ancestors that I have an idea of their economic standing, the one I know the most about is my Civil War ancestor, Adam Oswalt. Outside of his service in the Civil War, Adam earned his living either as a farmer, farm laborer or laborer (depending upon the document where his occupation was listed). In addition, it appears that he was poor most of his life, and that he could not afford to own land, except for one time in his life.

In the summer of 1870, Adam purchased a piece of land in the village of Three Rivers, Michigan for about $2,000. In addition, as part of the terms of purchase, Adam had to pay a $125 mortgage that was on the property as well. Of course, it is hard to comprehend now how much that money is worth, so I decided to look for a historical currency converter online. I found a site, and although I am leery of using online sources, this site suggests that $125 dollars in 1870 would be worth about $2,092. 65 today. I also looked to see how much $2,000 would have been worth back then, and today that amount would probably be worth about $33,480.96. In short, my ancestor spent a considerable sum of money on a piece of property and the mortgage for that property, especially when one takes into account that he worked as a laborer and had to support a wife and five children (one of which had just been born in June of that year) as well.

As one might imagine, Adam did not own the property for very long, and about a year later, in 1871, he sold his land to two men (from what I can recall off the top of my head, one of them was a lawyer) for less than he had paid for the land. I think it is safe to assume that Adam could not afford to pay the mortgage and had to sell his land. I can only imagine how discouraging it must have been for him to work so hard and save enough money to buy a piece of land only to be forced to sell it within a year. (I should also mention that Adam was illiterate at the time he sold his land as this factors largely in the types of jobs he had.)

After Adam sold his property, I do not know what finances were like for him or his family until the 1880 U. S. census. (I'll have to do further research.) In 1880, Adam's wife had died, and the family was split up. The children had been sent to live and work with other families, and Adam was living in the household of another farming couple near (possibly) his children. By this time, it is obvious that Adam could not support his family and he had to have other people take in his children. In addition, Adam never remarried, and I believe it is due to his inability to support his family that he never did so. (I should also mention that the United States had just pulled out of a economic depression the year before, and undoubtedly, that played a role in Adam's inability to support his family.)

After 1880, life for Adam apparently did not get better. Between 1884 and 1890, he moved to Rockford, Illinois, and although I still do not know why he moved there, I do know that he struggled to survive while he lived there. According to Adam's pension file, Adam worked at manual labor jobs such as road construction, and he was unable to support himself by 1890 when he applied for a pension for his service in the Civil War. He was unable to work much due to problems with his back and eyesight, and he was given a $10 per month allowance as his pension. In 1894, the pension board apparently reviewed his file, and believed that he could still earn a living by working as a laborer. Adam, of course, fought that claim, and among those who testified to his inability to work was his employer. Adam's boss claimed that he had to give my ancestor lighter load than the other men working for him because of my ancestor's problems with his back, and Adam's boss also indicated that he could barely work most of the time. Other citizens of Rockford also gave testimony to the fact that my ancestor could only work infrequently, and one of those witnesses also indicated that Adam's illiteracy prevented him from being able to work in any other type of job besides manual labor. In addition, they also indicated that without his allowance he would be forced to take charity, and it is obvious from that testimony that Adam was living in poverty. With that testimony, Adam's pension was reinstated and he continued to received $10 per month.

By 1900, Adam had moved back to Michigan, and was living with his youngest daughter and her family. In 1907, Adam would apply for an increase of $5 in his pension. Although I'm sure the economic depression that occurred that year played a major role in his desire to seek more money, I'm sure that his living with his daughter and son-in-law was financially straining for his daughter's family as well. (They also had a growing family and Adam's son-in-law was a farmer as well.) Indeed, within a year of his applying for an increase in his allowance, he had applied and been accepted to live in the Old Soldier's Home in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He would spend the last two years of his life there, and when he died, he only had $45 dollars as his estate. His daughter and son-in-law would use that money to pay for his funeral and burial.

As I think about Adam's life, I can see that he lived in poverty for most of his life, and I believe he was unable to do better to provide for himself and his family because he lacked an education. I can only speculate, but if Adam had been able to read and write, I can imagine he would have had much more of an opportunity to escape his poverty. I can't give a solution to end poverty, but I am sure that access to more and better education would help alleviate the instances of poverty in this world as I look at the example of my ancestor's life.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

What Day Was I Born On?

FootnoteMaven has posted an article on the nursery rhyme about the characteristics of the day a child was born, and has issued a challenge for other genealogists to list the day they were born with the rhyme for that day. Of course, I could not resist not posting, and I've decided to participate as well.

So, what day was I born on? I was born on a Sunday. The poem, according to footnoteMaven's post, states: "But the child who is born on the Sabbath Day/Is bonny and blithe and good and gay."

When I was a little girl, I received a book of nursery rhymes as a Christmas gift, and I remember that this poem was in the book. Of course, I do not remember the words for the verse in the book being the same as the verse above.

Wikipedia's article on the poem gives a different version of the Sunday, and lists the verse for Sunday as: "But the child that is born on Sabbath-day/Is bonny and happy and wise and gay." This verse is much closer to what I can recall from my nursery book, although I think the wording in my book was a modernized version of the verse. Either way, the two different verses for that day are fairly similar.

So, on what day where you born?

Tombstone Tuesday ...

Becky of Kinexxions started this blog post prompt a few weeks ago, and I've finally decided to participate in this event on Tuesday. Of course, I do not know if I will be posting a photograph of a tombstone every Tuesday, but I will do so whenever I get a chance.

So, the picture of the tombstone above is of Charles H. Detwiler and one of his wives. Charles Detwiler is the son of Jacob Detwiler by his second wife, Alwilda Arnold. As you may remember, I wrote about Jacob's second marriage in this post last year. Charles is buried in Riverside Cemetery in Three Rivers, Saint Joseph County, Michigan. (I don't have my notes in front of me, so I can't remember exactly where his grave is located.)

Update, 14 October 2008 at 6:40 P.M.: Becky informed me that Amy of Amy's Genealogy, etc. Blog was the one who started the Tuesday. I'm terribly sorry. That was my mistake. Also, I happened to notice that I did not have Amy's blog on my list, and I have now added her blog to the genealogy blog list as well.

Monday, October 13, 2008

6th Edition of the Smile For The Camera Carnival Posted!

The sixth edition of the Smile for the Camera carnival has been posted! You can read the article here, and the topic for the next edition is:
Oh, Baby! Show us those wonderful family photographs of babies, or those you've collected. Share the ones that are too cute for words, or those only a mother could love. Your favorite of grandma or grandmas' favorite. Grandpa on a bear skin rug or grandpas' little love. Everyone has a baby photo, so let's see it!


Another History Book I'm Reading at the Moment ...

Last week, my school's chapter of Phi Alpha Theta (history honors club) had a book sale. The annual book sale is usually where I can buy history books fairly cheaply, and as in past years, I bought some more history books. One of the books I bought (and started to read) is Growing Old In America, expanded edition (New York: Oxford University Press, 1978) by David Hacker Fischer. I haven't finished reading the book yet, but from what I have read, this book looks at how Americans viewed the elderly in different time periods and how they treated the elderly in those time periods. In addition, the author explores how attitudes have changed in America from the colonial era to the present (which was the 1970s at the time of my edition's printing).

The book is essentially a social history book, and I thought I would mention this book because as genealogists we are always trying to figure out what our ancestors believed and how they lived. I believe this book will give genealogists an idea of how the elderly were treated and viewed in American history, and thus, possibly suggest what life was like for our ancestors, especially as they aged.