27 December 2009

Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep

The first Blog Carnival for 2010 is entitled "The Final Resting Place".  The questions posed include:

In today's mobile society, does one choose a place near where they last lived? Or do they return to the place of their roots? Do they rest in a family plot? If so, and if married, whose family plot? How has the determination of the final resting place changed between the time of our ancestors and now?

I would say that practices for burial in my family have changed a lot over the years.  The majority of my ancestors are buried in Luzerne County, PA because, well, that's where they settled.  Families were buried together.  Together they lived on earth, together they were placed in the earth. 

Thanks to a cousin, Pat, in New Jersey, I have photographs of many headstones of my maternal ancestors.  Here are a few representatives of my maternal lineage, found at the cemetery at St. Mary's Help of Christians Church in Pittston, Luzerne County, PA:

Photo courtesy of Pat Sharpe Dunn

There is something quite interesting about the marker that gave me my genealogical start: That of John J. DOYLE (1920-1943).
So what is so interesting?  He has THREE markers.  The one above, of which I really do not know much about.  Is it in China where his plane went down in WWII? Is it in PA? I don't think it's in a military cemetery, as I couldn't find a listing for him in military cemeteries. 
The above two, however, are in the family cemetery at St. Mary's Help of Christians.  Same person, three markers.  He must have been loved.  Whatever the reason for three, it is apparent that his family wanted him remembered along with their relatives.

As far as my paternal lines, I know that my paternal grandparents died in Lewiston, Niagra County, NY and are buried there. I also know that my great-grandparents, Edward and Justina HODICK, died in Lewiston, Niagara County, NY but apparently are buried in/around Nanticoke, Luzerne County, PA.  Nanticoke is where they settled and presumably where they have ancestors buried.  The only photo I have that may be a wreath for one of them is of a floral arrangement. The photograph was found among my father's collection and may be totally unrelated, but he thinks the arrangement was for one of his maternal grandparents.

Things have changed since my great-grandparents' time.  My grandparents on both sides of the family had moved to Western NY state, and died and are buried there.  My mother, having moved with her family to Arizona in 1977, died in Tempe, Maricopa County, Az and is buried in nearby Mesa.  My father has a pre-purchased plot right beside her. 

My oldest brother resides in Georgia, my middle brother in Texas, and I am in Tucson.  Hopefully our times are very far off, but how will we decide where our final resting places will be? Or will we? Will our loved ones remaining be the ones to make that decision? They don't have to be, with the availability of pre-need purchase available.  Generally, with our family so spread out, I suspect the deciding factor will be financial. Would my mother have preferred to be buried in the same cemetery as her parents? And her brother, who died in Va but was buried in the Falls? We never talked about it, so I don't know. 

I have always thought it sad that families are so often separated by miles, both in life and in death.  If I had my druthers, my entire family would be buried in the cemetery in Niagara Falls which holds the graves of my grandparents.  Of course, if my grandparents had had their druthers, they may have preferred to be buried in Pennsylvania with their parents. 

As a funeral director once told my father, funerals are for the living. And so, I suppose, are burials.

25 May 2009

Happy Memorial Day

The above are replicas of the honor certificates for my first cousins once removed, Paul and John DOYLE. They are the sons of William Leo DOYLE and Ellen "Nellie" (REGAN) DOYLE. William was the son of my great-grandfather, John J. DOYLE. Replicas created from the honor certificates posted at the WWII Memorial site (http://www.wwiimemorial.com/default.asp?page=home.asp).

The photograph below has been featured often in my genealogy blogs as the photograph that started me on my ancestral journey. It is a marker for the same John J. DOYLE honored with the above right memorial.

There is no shortage of markers for my first cousin once removed John J. DOYLE:

Below is the grave marker for Thomas F. DOYLE, son of my great-grandfather John J. DOYLE, making Thomas my grand uncle.

Below is my mother's brother James "Jimmy" O'Rourke, 1929-2005. It is one of my favorite photographs of him.

I know that I have several military veterans on my paternal lines as well, but do not have a listing of who nor photographs or certificates to use in this memorial. While documentation of their service is lacking, gratitude for it is not.

Thanks to both our veterans and active members of the U.S. Military. The importance of today is not lost on anyone.

17 May 2009

The Sunday Spook

It was the middle of a long, hot summer in Tucson, Arizona. Temperatures outside reached 105° in the shade every day -- what little shade can be found, anyway. Car seats and steering wheels scorched the skin that touched it the instant contact was made. Waves of heat drifted above the pavement: Waves that could actually be seen rippling above ground level. While most people turn on a hot water faucet and wait for the water to warm up, people in Tucson turn on the cold water faucet and wait for the water to cool down! That's how hot it gets in Tucson, Arizona.

One particularly hot day, an eerie occurrence arose at the cemetery off Grant Road. People driving by noticed the busy-ness off the large cemetery, commenting that they'd never seen the drive circle so packed with parked cars. What was even odder was the fact that people were not sitting in their cars with the air conditioning blasting through the vents as they waited for a sole loved one to run back from the hot field after placing flowers on a gravesite. No, sir, no ma'am. People in this cemetery were sitting in the grass, standing around chatting with strangers, or praying calmly at graves. Why, people were even parking in the lots next door to the cemetery and walking to the cemetery, clamoring to step foot within its fences.

(photo courtesy of picasaweb.google.com)

It became so busy at this cemetery that the police were called to control not a funeral procession, but the crowd that had gathered. There was no need for this, however. Not a single temper flared and everyone made room for whoever wanted to stand in their midst. One last strange thing about this phenomenon? No one stood with even a hair falling outside the rope fence along the cemetery's borders. Why, one might ask?

Because while the rest of the county boiled with unbearable heat, the cemetery grounds were blessed with a coolness that belied the world beyond its midst. As long as people were fully within the confines of the laughable rope "fence" they were cool as cucumbers on a crisp winter salad.

05 April 2009

The Sunday Spook

The oddest thing is happening with my computer, and it has been happening for quite some time. I never would have noticed it had it not been for my genealogy work.

I have thousands of images on my computer. No, I haven’t counted each and every one, but my photo editing program shows that I have over 1200 pictures of my dog Izzie, so I think it’s safe to say that I have thousands all together.

Anyway, quite some time ago I attempted to clean up my photo folders in my genealogy databank. I moved folders into appropriately-categorized folders, deleted duplicates, and copied some that I felt needed to be in two folders. Quite proud of myself for my feat, I then opened up the main folder that I just finished organizing. Only I didn’t see an empty folder as I’d expected after moving or deleting them. Instead I saw a folder with the same images as I’d started with, all of which were named with the words “Copy of….” See, all the files I had moved or deleted were indeed moved or deleted, but before Windows (XP Home) completed the task I had directed it to perform, it made a copy of each one and put the copy in the very same folder I was trying to clean up!

Okay, that was weird. But I’ll just select all and delete them.

BIG mistake, because then I was faced with the original “Copy of…” images that were placed there with the first clean-up AND another set of each of those images, each entitled “Copy 2 of …” So now I had double the images I’d started with. Triple if you count the original images that were in their new folders.

After unsuccessfully searching the web and the “Help” file in Word and Office, I called in a professionally techie. Who did what all professional techies I have experience with did: Backed up my data and re-formatted the hard drive. Oh, first I had run a virus scan and all was clear.
Well, after the re-format, the problem appeared to be solved, though the techie never could tell me why it was doing this in the first place. But just a few days post-“repair” I noticed that if I tried to move or delete multiple image files at one time it again would make copies. I could, however move or delete images one-at-a-time. When I called the techie he had no answer and suggested another re-format. No thanks, I already wasted $180 thank you.

Now the other problem I faced then, and thought I’d resolved, was that some thumbnail images in my photo files actually pointed to another image when I opened the thumbnail. So what was labeled “Grandma Hodick" and showed the image of Grandma Hodick on the thumbnail actually opened up to an image of Uncle Jack at the beach! Somehow I’d managed to fix this problem. Or so I thought until yesterday when I randomly opened a thumbnail of Grandma Hodick-McHugh and got Uncle Jack. I have no idea what I did before to fix this problem, and I’m faced with the task of opening every image thumbnail to see how many thumbnails point to a different photo when opened.

Or I might just write to my niece and ask her to send me the photo albums so I can start from scratch and re-scan everything all over again. It’d be nice to have them scanned at 300 dpi anyway, as opposed to the 200 dpi my scanner was originally set to.

Before I embark on this, perhaps someone has the answer to my problem, other than the answer I came up with on my own: My computer is possessed by my ancestors who think everyday is April Fool’s Day!

22 March 2009

The Sunday Spook

The cemetery at the center of town was, well, the talk of the town. It was the center of peace, calm, and tranquility, regardless of the mood of the townspeople. In fact, most people not living in this town went out of their way to avoid it. This town was known for its violence and crime, being home to multiple rival families, feuding for reasons long forgotten.

The cemetery located at the center of this town was arranged in a circular pattern, with lush green grass, immaculately maintained headstones, and concrete benches surrounding the edges of the spherical lawn. During daylight hours, one would be hard-pressed to find an open spot on any bench. Neighbors sat side-by-side, showing their respects to those who have passed, some at the hands of the families seated next to them. Yes, the cemetery at the center of town was the one place where the peace was not disturbed, problems not addressed, and respect was abundant.

The council members of this little town were oft-confused by the loss of tension as one approached the cemetery. “How”, inquired the mayor, “Can a town so rife with violence be so peaceful at the sight of the cemetery?”

The police chief knew something the mayor didn’t know, and finally decided the time was right to share his insight. “Mr. Mayor, it is not so surprising that the cemetery is rife with peace while the town is rife with strife. The spirits within the burrows of the cemetery know the value of peace. They cannot speak this truth, so they spread their spirits out, surrounding the lawn with the calm and tranquility we see daily at the center of this town. Their spirits rule the roost, and the peace that is there cannot be broken by any human force”.

Over the next year, the town lost its reputation for the violence and the strife. Neighboring residents were no longer afraid to take the short route through it, opting not to travel miles out of their way to avoid it. The solution wasn’t one of uprising, or political upheaval. The solution was much, much simpler than that:

It was simply to build a cemetery at every outer edge of the town, which thus became enveloped in the loving arms of the spiritual world.

22 February 2009

The Sunday Spook

The sounds of the little neighborhood by the train tracks were typical of your everyday, working-class neighborhood. Children’s laughter and screams of “Tag!” and “You’re IT!” were heard from every corner, while adolescent strife played out in the music as the teens washed cars and shot hoops. Dogs barked at the threat of any intrusion upon normal life, followed by their masters’ admonitions to be quiet.

Life was good in this not-so-sleepy town of Ghostly Hollows. That is, it was good if you lived here. And if you didn’t? Well, not so much.

The four streets leading into the Hollows looked normal enough, and they were actually in quite good repair. But just let one misplaced soul cross its boundaries and the basis of the development’s name is soon made clear.

Upon the touch of a stranger’s shoe, the road will roll up, swallowing the intruder whole.

Upon the roll of a stray car’s tire (or truck or motorcycle or golf cart, if you will), the street lights bend at the base, pounding the invading machine into the ground, never to be released from the grasps of the souls beneath the tar.

Upon the breeze made by a migrating bird the trees suddenly spring to life, snatching the poor critter right out of the air before it can even make a sound.

Yet in this strange little hamlet the residents came and went as they pleased. Life was normal for them and no one thought things strange. In fact, they liked the privacy the Hollows provided, and were often praise-full when they thought about the reason behind the strange occurrences at the slightest hint of a stranger’s breath:

The fact that the neighborhood’s inlets were few, and the ones that came through were accessed only by crossing through one of the cemeteries planted at each of the four corners of Ghostly Hollows.

16 February 2009

I Interrupt This Program

I have a special announcement for all of my geneablogging friends, my non-blogging friends, my readers and anyone else who stumbles across this post. Most of you are aware that I am fanatical about my dog, Izzie. So fanatical, in fact, that he has his own blog. I’m a fan of dogs, and hate to see any animal suffering.

The economy of late has been, as we all know, rather tight lately. People are losing their jobs, their homes, and quite possibly, losing weight as they struggle to keep food on their tables. Thankfully, there are food programs to assist with the latter for many families.

The same is not always true of our pets. Dogs and cats are being abandoned or surrendered at alarming rates. Often, it’s foreclosures that do the pets in. Often, it’s simply the cost of providing for them. A 2007-08 survey by the American Pet Products Manufacturing Association estimated basic annual expenses for dog ownership run $1,425, and cat ownership $990 (Maryland Newsline Business).

Many, if not most, animal shelters try to provide struggling families with emergency supplies of food if it means the difference between one more pet "in custody" and maintaining a pet’s home. But many, if not most, animal shelters use donated food to feed the pets in their care and cannot meet every need for every family.

Tucson is lucky. There are a couple of food programs to assist with feeding pets when families are struggling. I am lucky, as well, to have an opportunity to help feed Tucson’s pets. The Hermitage Cat Shelter in Tucson has been around for over 30 years, and one of their programs is called Food For People’s Pets. Its aim is to provide some relief to families who struggle to feed their pets (cats and dogs), in hopes that the families will be able to keep the pets as opposed to surrendering, or worse, abandoning, them. This program is in need of some re-vamping, and I hope to work with the shelter’s staff to do just that.

There is now a blog dedicated to the Food For People’s Pets program. I hope to make it a place for people to learn about pet nutrition, the prevalence of animal hunger, solutions to the problem, events of the program, and spotlights of the program sponsors. While hunger in animals will be addressed, it will be done so in a respectful, family-friendly manner; no “shock and awe” tactics such as graphic photographs will be used.

Please, bookmark the blog at http://www.feedingpeoplespets.blogspot.com/ and visit often. It’s just getting off the ground, but I want to make it a true showcase for the good that people’s donations do. I also, admittedly, hope to make it an accessible way to donate to the program. Towards this end there is a link on the blog page to the “Network For Good” badge that is assigned to The Hermitage Cat Shelter. From this badge, one can designate donations to the Food For People’s Pets program. I also have this link on my other blogs and here, so please, if you can, donate $5 to the program. Or donate a bag of pet food to a program in your area if you have one. I would be crushed if I had to surrender Izzie for lack of food, and I hate to think of something so simple being so far out of reach for pet owners everywhere.

Thanks for listening. I now return you to your regular programming.

09 February 2009

Ancestral Delectables

The Geneablogger cookbook is HERE! Thirty-Five recipes from Eighteen geneabloggers! Wow. What a feat. It is available via download at THIS SITE! It is in .pdf format so you will need the Acrobat Reader to view it. You can choose to print it up yourself, copy it to disc and have a copy place print and bind it, or use an online service such as lulu.com to upload it, print it, bind it, and ship it.

This wound up being a bigger project than I had imagined, and I enlisted the help of a few geneabloggers to assist. Special thanks to Julie Cahill Tar, footnoteMaven, and Thomas MacEntee for their assistance with editing, graphic design, and technical guru.

I hope you enjoy the submissions, the photos, the stories, and of course, the recipes. I can tell you I've already tried one and it was delicious.

08 February 2009

The Sunday Spook

The library at the end of the street was a popular place. There was a huge children’s section, and volunteers were on hand every day after school to read to the children and conduct activities related to the stories they’d read. There was a room with several computers for people to use on a sign-up basis. There were tables and chairs in the middle so people could bring their books and papers back to conduct research. There was another room with newspapers and magazines, and comfortable fabric lounge chairs. Finally, there was a big section in the back with microfiche films and machines. There were archives of newspapers, family biographies, and computers with access to genealogy websites. This was indeed a very popular place.

This library was different from others also in that it was open from sun-up to sundown. But because of legends of strange happenings when darkness took hold, they were pretty strict about not letting a soul through the doors before the morning dusk was whisked away and just as strict about ensuring every living, moving being was out the doors before the sun took its final bow. This created quite a problem with the staff of this very popular library.

You see, the no-one-enters-this-building-before-daybreak-or-after-sundown rule was enforced even with the staff! The manager opened the door for the workers at the same time as they opened the door for the patrons. The manager kicked out the workers at the exact same time as they kicked out the patrons. It didn’t matter at night if the library hadn’t been cleaned up and if books were all in-disarray. The whole building must be emptied every evening before dark without fail.

It was said that the library looks quite peaceful in the darkest hours of the night; the architects and engineers who built it made it so the lighting took on a special glow at night that was intended to bring calm and peace. And calm and peace it did bring. To every area of the library but one:

The genealogy section.

This section was too busy at night to be peaceful and calm. While the other areas of the library were silent and unmoving – a situation that would be ideal for the dedicated patron seeking a retreat from the noise of the day -- the spirits that took hold of the genealogy section were hard at work. While researchers spent valuable time each day poring through the films and print to find just one tidbit of information, the spirits spent valuable time each night relocating and hiding the data that was removed during the day, making sure the genealogists would never completely finish their work.

The movement within the library after dark was quite spooky; hence the strictness in obeying the hours of operation. The spirits, though, knew just what they were doing. If the genealogists couldn’t find the information they sought, they’d have to come back. The spirits, you see, were not scary spirits, just lonely spirits. They were content to scare off the patrons at dark, knowing they’d be back for more at the sun’s first morning kiss.

01 February 2009

The Sunday Spook

A strange phenomenon took hold of the World Wide Web’s GeneaBlogger community. It all started on November 1, which is also the day many cultures recognize those who have passed on.

Linda was visiting the Christian Cemetery in Williamsport, Pickaway County, Ohio on a dark and gloomy day. She was busy reading the inscription of one marker that honored veterans of past wars. She wanted to take a picture of the stone, and while she was preparing her camera, a stream of light appeared over the stone that sat in front of her. When she looked up, the sun was nowhere to be found.

Meanwhile, Midge was over in Bridgewater, Massachusetts looking at a gravestone of a WWI veteran, Dudley W. Stewart. It was as dark and gloomy a day in Massachusetts as it was in Pickaway County, Ohio. Suddenly, as Midge took a photograph of Mr. Stewart, a light shone down with no source to be found.

In Mississippi, on a gloomy and dark day, Janice was photographing granite memorials to war heroes, including one from the Revolutionary War. She too experienced the eerie sensation of a stream of light amidst the cloudy sky.

Diane in British Columbia, Canada experienced a similar phenomenon while visiting the granite memorials dedicated to the local high school’s war heroes. It was, again, a dark and gloomy day, except for that moment of brightness.

That night as all four genealogists were home uploading their photos to their Cemetery blogs, the realization hit that four people from four different parts of North America felt a strange phenomenon of a burst of light at four different cemeteries on a dark and gloomy day.

Linda, Midge, Janice and Diane were a little freaked out after the events of the day were over. They were glued to the television news as they waited for an explanation for this very odd phenomenon. Nothing was reported, however, and the genealogists were left wondering how long it would be before they returned to any cemetery on a dark and gloomy day.

The next day brought more of the same in terms of weather in British Columbia, Ohio, Mississippi and Massachusetts. It also brought four more trips to military graves from four dedicated genealogists seeking to honor soldiers who’d passed.