Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year's Eve!

I couldn't help this last post for 2013. As I was looking at the year totals, I was only one post away from blogging more than last year. So, here is a small token of the New Year celebrations of the past. This is a photo of my grandparents: Bessie (Pace) and Charles Daniels....with a twist. In mid-December of 1943, my Grandfather had been home on leave, still recovering from contracting malaria after fighting in the Pacific. As the year was coming to a close, he was given orders to return to service, in Europe this time. To spend every last moment possible together, my Grandmother traveled with him to New Orleans where his ship would be disembarking. I have always loved this photo of them - the sadness and fear is evident as they face an unknown future. At a later date, he sent her this memento wishing her a Happy New Year, and recalling the moment they spent together "Dec-15-1943. Me & My Darling on the eve of my departure, Hoping for a safe journey & an early return. Pop" As readers of this blog will be able to attest, he did make it home safely, and lived to be 93 years old, passing away on Christmas Day of 2004. Grandma on the other hand, is still with us, and 93! What a long and memorable life together!
Happy New Year's Eve! Here's to more blogging in 2014 - not a resolution, just a hope!

Monday, December 30, 2013

Musical Graves & A Mystery Solved

In autumn 2011, I posted about the practice of grave robbing in the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky area. This late 19th century practice has been well documented, but the actual number of bodies stolen has not been. As part of the post, I related a family story that was written down and added to the E.E. Barton Papers in the 1940s: "My Mother never did think that her grandfather [Samuel Cox] rested in his grave, for just in a night or two at 12 o'clock, a man left that grave with something wrapped in white lying across his horse in front of him. The man was a truthful man, and is a brother-in-law of my father, Newton Humble was the man. [Speaking of the witness]. We always thought that it was old Dr. Thomas, and that he probably took the body to Cincinnati and the medical college to find out what was the cause of his death." Pearl Allender 

For decades, my family has known where this small family plot was located. My Great-Grandmother, Nellie Cox Beyersdoerfer, would always point it out to us, and when I was early into my genealogy journey, my Mother and I visited a few times. We knew this was the resting place of Samuel Cox (d.1857) and his first wife, Mary Dean Cox (d.1836), on their farm, Cox's Run. The stones were in terrible shape - hardly legible with lichens filling in the carvings. They were so bad that photographs did not help, and so I took notes about each stone. The plot only contained a few graves. Two upright, carved stones, and a couple of rocks sticking out of the ground with no markings/carvings. Per Kentucky law, the landowner had been faithful about keeping them from harm by placing his bales of hay around the plot each year. There was a small fence, but things were deteriorating, and they did sit dangerously close to the road.
Samuel and Mary Cox Graves, taken in 1996
In a surprise move out of left field, Jim Cox, another distant cousin and descendant of Samuel Cox, recently decided that they were in harms way. He took action and paid to have the graves re-located to a larger cemetery that already contained many of this couple's descendants. According to reports from John Peoples of Peoples Funeral Home in Falmouth, they disinterred each grave, but only found remains in two of them: the two adult graves with carved stones. With no remains being found in the rock marked graves, everyone assumes these were infants and already decomposed to dust. Both sets found were re-interred into the same grave next to Sam & Mary's Grandson, Jeremiah Cox in Lenoxburg Cemetery. If my memory serves me correctly, Jeremiah is on the outer edge of the cemetery, not too far from other Grandchildren of Sam & Mary - a very fitting spot for them - and quite romantic as this was the original couple who produced so many Cox descendants. I'm certain they would have approved.

So....with two sets of remains being found (one set was more complete than the other), this might suggest that our old family story related through many generations was just that - a story. Which, actually makes me feel better. I was hoping Grandpa Cox was resting peacefully in his grave, and not scattered to the wind without his family's knowledge or permission. This also exonerates poor Doc Thomas as Pearl accused so many years ago. Will this make me leave this story out of our family history? NO WAY!! I still love this story, and it serves as a valuable example of the oral grapevine that flourished in our family - even if the tale was wrong.

Plus....how do we know there wasn't some community truth to the story? In other words, maybe there wasn't a grave robbing going on....but maybe some other nefarious activity? Was someone sitting in a graveyard getting drunk and needed to be carted home? Was the person on the horse drunk and merely took a small detour late at night through the graveyard? Or, was Newton Humble drunk as a skunk that night, and telling a whopper only seen in his imagination? With any of these scenarios, it makes for a colorful addition to the family narrative! Besides, the conclusion they all made about the sight in the middle of the night proves the prolific nature of the grave robbing rumors in the area.

As for a small post script, their new stone has not been made just yet. That is a work in progress. Another cousin, Eric Peelman, has been hot on the trail of this story and is helping with the effort to replace the stone. They had hoped to re-incorporate the old stones into a new monument, but that might prove to be too cost prohibitive. However, Eric sent me these wonderful photos of the stones after they had been cleaned off - how beautiful they were under the years of lichen build-up!! We rarely get to see them in this state, so I was delighted with the end results. I can't wait to see what they have in store as a monument. Once that is up, I will travel to that cemetery for more photos!

Friday, December 13, 2013

RootsTech 2014: Sneak Peek

While RootsTech may be a little less than 2 months away, the speakers and organizers are hard at work getting all of their logistical ducks in a row! Seriously, new updates and meetings are practically a weekly occurrence - and the Christmas season is no exception! Which is why you have seen so many posts and announcements from the 2014 participants. As the energy and buzz increase over the coming weeks, here are a few brief updates:

New RootsTech Flipboard Magazine, put together by Lisa Louise Cooke:

I have loved Flipboard for over a year now, but this new, curated issue, full of RootsTech scrumpciousness is a fantastic way to get into the RootsTech energy. 'Tis the season to sit by the fire with a cup of hot chocolate while the snow piles up outside - what better reading material than a collection of RootsTech commentary from your favorite writers/bloggers!? Flipboard is great for tablet reading, but is available across many platforms and via your PC.

RootsTech Session RT1452 (on-site & recorded):

One of the things speakers have been encouraged to do is introduce their session a little before the conference. As a sneak peek, I will expound a little beyond the general session description which reads:

"Piecing Together History: Crowdsourcing Events to Glean the Most Out of the Current Generation. As a technology driven society we have focused most crowdsourcing initiatives on social media venues and electronic metadata collecting methods. However, a balance of tech and nontech approaches is necessary to reach a generation in transition."

This session was birthed as a result of several crowdsourcing or "knowledge sharing" events that took place at the Kentucky Historical Society over the past few years. As a state historical society library, our collection runs the gamut from genealogy/history related books, to original photographic and manuscript collections. Many collections are small and family or community focused with little to no contextual information. In an attempt to provide additional information, we hosted a series of events called "Piecing Together History" to foster community engagement. Through this process, we had to assess the individual collections that would be used for the events, as well as determine what information was sought. This session will follow the steps we took in preparing the collections for community interaction, followed by the information gathering strategies utilized to ensure the information was permanently attached to the collection components. Over the past few years we have incorporated many strategies, including technologically driven gathering methods. Only after trial and error did we find a mutli-method approach that allowed for maximum involvement and knowledge sharing. This final method can be employed with any type of collection and with any type of group. From family reunions to academic settings, this session will demonstrate best practices for engaging audiences of all types and technological levels. (This session has been selected as a recorded session to be broadcast at the RootsTech Family History Fairs - see below)

RootsTech Livestreaming and Family History Fairs:

As a special treat, for those of you who cannot make the trek to Salt Lake City in February, you can still enjoy RootsTech sessions from your area via two options:

1. This year's conference will be livestreaming several sessions for free throughout the conference! Get a cup of tea and enjoy some sessions from home!

2. Many other sessions will be recorded for later viewing at local Family History Fairs in various national and international venues. As a goal for 2014, RootsTech is attempting to arrange 600 satellite locations around the world which will receive and broadcast recorded sessions from RootsTech 2014, in several languages. Information about the locations should be coming soon, so stay tuned to see if your area will be hosting a local fair to showcase some of the 2014 sessions! For those in Kentucky, the Kentucky Historical Society in Frankfort will be one of the venues showing the recorded sessions. We anticipate hosting our Family History Fair in March as part of our regularly scheduled Second Saturday programming. More info TBA.

Can't wait! See you all soon!


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