Sunday, October 16, 2011

Uncovering the history of the search

I really never know what I'm going to find when I look into the files in the filing cabinets of genealogy research left to me by my father and mother. It never fails to amaze me, in today's technology age, how much my parents achieved through letters! At the same time, it often brings frustration - first in understanding my mother's filing system - but also in finding that as her Alzheimer's took hold, she often misfiled pieces of paper and files. However, I can never be too thankful for the time she took to leave me the legacy of our family.

Today, I was working on writing the next post on the YODER family (Howard Harrison YODER who married Luella Drucilla SLACK); and came upon the notes from my mother about the Slack research. They began in 1959 with a copy of the family history of the Slacks given to her by her Aunt Leah (YODER) DAY. The information had been originally distributed at a Slack reunion in July 1926. Supposedly there is a copy of this in the file - but not something I can find. She continues searching through census, marriage records, historical records and DAR records, each providing another piece of the puzzle. In 1967, her father (Earl YODER) suggested that she write to Mildred (MASTERS) COLDIRON about the family - although no response at that time. Mildred did write my mother in 1977, asking for Slack information. How different that was then today - when a simple search of her name on to figure out the relation - a true cousin of my grandfather Earl.

In addition, my mother corresponded with Harold CROWL who descended from a sister of Luella Drucilla SLACK who was known as "Della." What is most fun - is that his son and I have been corresponding and sharing pictures through Ancestry for over 2 years about our respective families! What writing is causing, is the effort to go through each file, look at the collection of documents achieved by my mother, and realize she did this as a labor of love and respect for our past.

Friday, October 14, 2011

More Pages - More People

I've now completed pages for Richardson and Coleman - my husband's grandparents on his father's side; and Robertson and Braun - my husband's grandparents on his mother's side. His mom, at 92 is still living in Miles City, MT. Unfortunately dementia is ever-present, and so we can learn little at this point about her early years. The good news, is that she wrote a book for each of our children about her family (called Grandmom remembers) and we will be able to also share her stories.

Now my goal will be to work each of the families back - not just about who their parents are, but the stories that are part of our family legacy.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Pages on my Grandparents

Please be sure to visit the pages that I've included in my blog. Coffman, King, Yoder and Fox are the pages I have started introducing you to my grandparents. Virginia (King) and Maurice Coffman were the parents to my father Maurice Fred Coffman. Fern (Fox) and Earl Yoder were my mother's parents.

Both my parents worked hard to research their family lines. My mother started the research because her grandparents, on her mothers side both had the name of Fox. She was curious about their relationship. This is something I will detail in upcoming posts. My father found a similar situation in his King line, with two King's marrying each other 4 generations back.

It was these discoveries that resulted in all of their genealogy work, and a wonderful legacy of stories and pictures.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

How did I get started in Genealogy?

I teach a genealogy class each semester at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute for Widener University. Each semester I begin the genealogy class telling the story of visiting cemeteries throughout the Midwestern United States as part of every summer vacation that I can remember. My mom always gave the kids (my brother, sister and myself) the same task and reward, “Find the tombstone with this person’s name, and you can choose the place for dinner
tonight.” For many years I thought that this was the same experience every child had during vacation.

It wasn’t until my mid-20s that I realized these experiences were at the heart of genealogy research. I then began to learn more about genealogy, as my husband and I researched my husband’s ancestors with my mother’s help. The research took us from Montana, the birthplace of my husband, back to Texas, Missouri, Tennessee, and North Carolina in the 1770s.

Throughout the process my mother made sure I studied the stories of the relatives, not to just find the documents that established their lineage, but to research the history and background of the era to better understand why people moved or bought and sold land. It was also during this time that I watched her write and publish several articles about our Fox relatives.

Upon her death in 2006, I received 40 boxes and four filing cabinets of genealogy materials. Pictures, files, documents, and stories—all left for me to learn more about my ancestors.

Last week at a conference (I am by day a continuing educator) one session talked about how blogging could be a great way to communicate information to others. I realized that blogging would be a great way for me to journal my research in genealogy, and to be able to share my work with others. Thus the "birth" of Leaving a Legacy!

The work from the class has resulted in an article that was just published. You can find it here:

Meanwhile - who am I researching? On my parents side we have the names of Coffman and King (my dad's parents) and Fox and Yoder (my mother's parents). On my husbands side we have the names of Richardson and Coleman (his fathers parents) and on his mothers side we have Robertson and Braun. I am hopeful that this blog will help me to stretch my thinking and share the stories of my family.