Lessons Learned From A Past Pandemic

My backyard poinsettia is in full bloom, the radio is playing holiday tunes and I should be baking and partying with those I love.  Except I’m not.  I hope you aren’t either. With a reported 16,000,000 million cases and nearly 300,000 deaths in the U.S. from covid as of today per Google, I can’t stop thinking about the picture above.  

Yes, it is morbid, depressing and haunting.  Taken outside the Croatian Church, then located on 23rd Avenue in Gary Indiana on the 21 February 1919, the deceased man in the center in the coffin is my maternal great grandfather that I never met because of his untimely death at age 43 of broncho-pneumonia brought on by influenza.  Joseph Kos was one of the estimated 675,000 U.S. deaths from the 1918-1919 H1N1 Pandemic. 

We’re approaching half way to the number of deceased from 100 years ago and we’re not yet close enough to see the end of the spread of covid.  That saddens me immensely!  For all of the advances in health care in the past century you would think the current death rate would be low.  Interesting how we rely on modern medicine when simple old fashioned hand washing, distancing and masks could have significantly lessened the death toll.

My mother, Dorothy Koss Leininger, didn’t remember her grandfather as he died when she was an infant but his death changed the course of her life forever.  History is repeating itself again and still we haven’t learned.  

Joseph emigrated from Croatia, then part of Austria-Hungary, in January 1910.  This was not his first time in the U.S., as he had initially come in 1893 but returned home to marry Ana Katherine Grdenich on 10 February 1895. Family lore says he joined the military and served in the cavalry but after sustaining a kick to his head from a horse while it was being reshooed, he developed epilepsy and was forced to leave the service.  With jobs scarce he decided to return to the U.S. After his arrival in New York he worked as a laborer for the Pullman Company.  He’s found in Chardon, Geauga, Ohio in the 1910 U.S. federal census as an alien speaking no English.  

With his Pullman job, Joseph traveled the country and ultimately ended up in Chicago in 1913.  Residing in Pullman housing, he sent for his wife and two children, Mary, my grandmother, and Joseph Jr. (Josip), to join him.  Ana was soon pregnant and gave birth to daughter Barbara on 14 Sep 1914 in Blue Island, Cook, Illinois.  

Joseph arranged for daughter Mary to wed John (Ivan) Kos, a villager and purported second cousin who had happened to also arrive in Chicago and worked for the Pullman Company. Mary and John wed on 28 January 1917 in Chicago; their first child, my mother, Dorothy, was born in Pullman housing on 14 April 1918.  

The family moved sometime in the latter part of 1918, renting a home at 1521 Garfield Street in Gary, Lake, Indiana.  Joseph and John found work with the I.I.B. Teaming Company which supplied laborers to U.S. Steel Corporation.  To save money, instead of using the available street car, Joseph and John commuted the 1.5 miles to work and back daily via bicycle.  With contract tracing unavailable in those days, it is not known where or how Joseph contracted the flu.  My grandmother believed it was from work which was likely, as the conditions inside the mill were brutal – unheated, with poor ventilation and large numbers of unmasked men toiling round the clock and then riding home exhausted in a cold rain would lower anyone’s resistance to infection.  As an immigrant with WW1 being fought overseas and knowing you are the bread winner your family depends on added further stress.

The last photo taken of Joseph, shown above, shows the funeral attendees maskless and not socially distancing.  I have no idea why.  Perhaps they were mask slackers but I doubt that as my grandmother always washed her hands as soon as she came in from any errand.  I suspect they didn’t know they should.  I suspect that U.S. Steel did not mandate that workers wear a mask.  By clicking through the death certificates on Ancestry I can see many men who worked as laborers dying of the same conditions during the same time period as Joseph.  Possibly Joseph caught the flu from one of the men who died shortly before him, perhaps not.  John also was ill but he recovered.  

The man on the far left of the photo was the funeral home director; maskless, he clearly did not require a face covering be worn.  The man holding the wreath to the back left of the coffin is John Koss, Joseph’s son-in-law.  The young man holding the wreath on the right is Joseph Jr.  Next to Joseph (look closely) is my grandmother Mary, hidden by a black veil. I like to think she was the only one with any sense to wear the face covering but knowing her well, I think her choice was due to a fashion statement.  Next to Mary was her mother, Ana, Joseph’s widow.  The others in attendance were neighbors and parishioners of the Croatian Catholic Church.  Missing was my infant mother and Barbara, Joseph and Ana’s youngest daughter.  Who was watching those girls is unknown.  

How Joseph’s untimely death affected my mother was profound, though as a baby she was unaware of the event.  John became the only breadwinner in the family and with the loss of Joseph Sr., the family’s income was cut in half.  Joseph Jr. was forced at age 17 to leave school and seek work.  Money would become even tighter as Mary was pregnant with her second child, Anne Marie, who would be born 6 months after Joseph’s death.  

More tragedies came in quick succession to the family – a scarlet fever epidemic that infected both children required the family to quarantine.  With no money for a physician, my grandmother relied on her neighbor’s home remedy advice to treat the family.  John then had to have a leg amputated as a result of an injury at the mill.  When recovered, he could no longer ride his bike to work and had to spend money on the street car. The KKK threatened the family and burned a cross in the empty field in front of their home.  A fire started by a candle caused extensive damage and burned my mother’s only toy, a doll.

A little over 10 years after Joseph’s death the Great Depression hit.  John’s wages were cut, the family took in boarders, raised vegetables, rabbits and chickens to survive but it wasn’t enough. Dorothy, as the eldest, quit high school at the start of grade 10 to work in a hardware store.  Her lack of a diploma hindered her job prospects for the rest of her life.  

During the current pandemic I’ve been thinking a lot about the 1918 one.  If Joseph hadn’t succumbed to the flu would my mother have been able to finish high school?  She had always aspired to be a dietician but going back to school was out of the question.  Her working enabled Anne Marie and her younger siblings, George and Marilou to obtain their diplomas.  How would my life have been different if my mother had found a career she loved and that paid better than the minimum wage jobs she held?  Would I be the frugal genealogist I am today if money hadn’t been so tight while I was growing up?  

My memories of my great grandmother are of an old woman always wearing black who sat quietly in deep thought.  What was she thinking about?  Never remarrying after the man she loved so dearly died, she spent the next 47 years of her life residing with her adult children, changing residences every few years depending on the needs of their growing families.  If Joseph had survived, how would her life have turned out?  

My grandmother, the apple of her father’s eye, missed him the rest of her life.  His death was a loss that could never be replaced.  The extra burden of being the sole breadwinner put a strain on my grandfather, John.  Would his health have been better and would he have lived a longer life if Joseph had lived?

The pandemic fatigue I’m feeling is put into perspective whenever I compare it to the 1918 pandemic my ancestor’s experienced.  I do not want my adult children to miss my husband and I as my grandmother missed her father for the remainder of her life. I do not want any grandchildren I may someday have to wonder about the grandparents they didn’t get the opportunity to know.  I’ve learned from my family’s experiences that thriftiness is beneficial.  I don’t panic over shortages of goods.  I’ve always kept a fully stocked cupboard and supplement with my garden.  My children do the same. 

The holidays will be different from past ones for all of us. In a season that personifies hope, I’m remembering the past and hope 2021 will be brighter.  I am taking the next two weeks off from blogging but will return in the new year.  Be smart – stay safe!

Blast from the Past – Holiday Photos

Season’s Greetings!  You may be feeling like the folks were in the photo above after your Thanksgiving feast.  Their enthusiasm for the holiday is well, a little underwhelming.  Maybe a smaller family gathering would have been a good thing back then.  

Whenever I think of all the work that goes into a family get together I think of this picture from my husband’s side of of the family. Taken about the mid 1930’s, from left to right is Clifford Thompson, George Harbaugh, Bert Thompson and Ruth Johnson Thompson.  In the midst of the Great Depression, the decorations were scant.  Don’t know if it was a heavy meal or the numbness of having to spend the holiday with extended family that put them to sleep.  

The picture was taken in the living room of George’s parent’s home.  Ruth was George’s maternal aunt.  We’re missing the rest of the extended family who lived there – George Sr., his wife, Elsie, and their other children Bob and Betty.  Ruth and Elsie’s mother, Louisa, also lived in the household.  Where was Bert and Ruth’s daughter, Jeanne? Maybe upstairs playing with cousin Betty.  Did Helen Johnson Chellberg, sister to Elsie and Ruth, also come with her husband and three children?  Beats me – somethings we will never know.  

I’ve been reading a lot in the past week about people being thankful for not having to travel this holiday season.  I can relate to that as I dreaded the holidays when our home was cramped with 40 plus people. All those dishes long before dishwashers!  No quiet space at all!  Lines for the bathroom!  Cigar smoke and alcohol breath – yuck!  Although I loved those people a bunch I liked them a lot better a little at a time.  

This weekend I’ve spent looking at old family holiday photos.  Some years were prosperous and others, not.  No matter what your holiday plans are for this year your experience will be long remembered not just by you, but by those who know you.  If you can’t be all together, keep in touch – via phone, Zoom, letter/card/text – as best you can.  Ask the questions you always wondered about, like where was Helen Chellberg in the mid-1930’s?  Although the pandemic made this year seem to move slowly, next year just might be too late to get your family questions answered.  

I recommend you each out – reconnect – and remember those far away loved ones.  Now is the time!

Education in a Pandemic

Today’s blog is not about genealogy so you can stop reading now if that is your interest  Instead, it is my take on the current state of the educational environment.  I am writing this because I am furious. Our today becomes tomorrow’s history; I want the future to learn from the past.

I missed writing last week as I was consumed with my newly designated title of ESSENTIAL WORKER and due to the lack of communication, cooperation and consistency in government policy, was working 16.5 hour days with no compensation for the overtime or weekend work so that children can go back to school and die alongside their teachers.  It makes my heart break.

My long time readers know I try very hard to not to be political in my weekly blog.  I understand bureaucracy moves slowly.  I respect free speech and differences in opinion.  I have been an educator since 1977.  I did not choose that career to get rich or for the summers off (we don’t get paid and we work most of the summer unpaid planning and taking training).

That said, I will not stand by silently when peoples’ lives are needlessly risked.  Don’t believe it (like one of my neighbors who insists there is no reason to wear a mask), here’s the facts – a 6-year old girl died Monday of covid in the same school district that the person WITH NO BACKGROUND IN EDUCATION who is UNELECTED but APPOINTED by the governor and who, like those currently tweeting that the virus will magically go away, refused to allow the school district where this child died to deliver educational services for an additional 3 weeks online because “Step aside, folks, there is nothing to see here!”  These bullies threatened to withhold all state funding if school does not resume with a brick and mortar, aka traditional, model by the end of August.  

Due to the wavering decisions and the utter lack of concern for children, their families and the public school staff, I, along with my colleagues across the country, have worked tirelessly to try to make the smallest classes possible for social distancing and to quickly trace students from period to period WHEN THE VIRUS ATTACKS.  This is not an IF, this is most definitely a WILL. 

For those that don’t believe that, here’s the truth…in my small school that opened to teachers only 3 weeks ago, we have already had 1 teacher with a covid diagnosis in the second week.  At my previous school, in the same time period, with about the same number of staff, they’ve had two.  My husband’s school has had two since April, one in the last two weeks.  If you have this many infections with educated adults all wearing masks and social distancing, using hand sanitizer and washing their hands well, you don’t think you’re going to have a problem when the students return?!  Think of yourself as a kid.  Instead of playing cooties the elementary kids will be playing covid.  Middle schoolers can not stay out of each others faces and forget social distancing with high school and college – they are huggers!  The children are doing developmentally what is normal but these times are not.  If we can’t save them from themselves their is blood on all of our hands.

I am outraged at the system that allowed this to happen  I also question how a teacher became an essential worker in the last week.  If that’s the case, why do we close schools for weather problems?  

Just come out and tell us how many in power view our role – you want cheap childcare and if you lose a few, well, that’s life!  You never cared about educating children before; if you had, you would have funded us adequately so the little darlings didn’t have to go door to door selling overpriced junk.  My husband and I wouldn’t have had to spend our own money for years on items our students needed.  If the value of education was really a priority there would be no threats to withhold funding.  I am so sick of the lies.

If I read one more article or hear one more news story about teachers being happy to return to school this fall I’m going to scream.  NO THEY AREN’T.  Like the rest of humanity, they long for the good ole days, last seen this past February, when they could make a difference face-to-face with their students.  Those days are gone for now and what is needed more than anything else is prioritizing life over what once was.  

If everyone had done what was the right thing to do we wouldn’t be faced with this problem today.  Children wouldn’t be dying.  Those kids that return to school and live through this will not have to have the burden for the remainder of their lives of knowing they brought home an illness that killed their family.  They won’t have to face the grief at the loss of their beloved teacher.  This madness can be halted and I’m praying someone, somewhere has the power and the sense to do the right thing.  

I’m also sick of hearing about students falling educationally behind.  Here’s a quick and simple solution for that – just have everyone attend year round once the virus is behind us.  Cut out the electives for the summer term and just teach the basics.  Duh!  If we can have students skip a grade then the whole issue of learning loss is a moot point anyway.  Studies have shown that students who do not start school until age 8 can compete academically in a short time.  Funny how our leaders, and I use that term loosely, pointed to Nordic countries who kept schools open last spring as what we should do.  Those are the same countries with well funded educational systems that don’t have young children in formal education.  They have physicians and dentists available for the children.  Heck, I can’t even get Walmart to donate free eyeglasses to my needy kids anymore.  So again, I ask, if education is so vital, then why are the basics not provided for our children?  

No electronics in the home?  Seriously, except for the last two generations NO ONE WAS EDUCATED BY USING THE INTERNET.  Here’s a novel solution – have local districts pay the local newspaper for a subscription for every family.  The lessons can be incorporated in the newspaper.  It’s delivered daily to the family’s door.  You’re developing a generation who will learn more about their community and the world. They are practicing reading and math by analyzing the charts and graphs.  Vocabulary is enriched.  You’re insuring that the press remains a vital and important partner in the community.  Why are we not doing this?  As much money as schools saved on paper and ink they can certainly afford to purchase a year newspaper subscription for their students.  Actually, in my community, the newspaper is already free electronically for our students.  If schools wanted to save even more money, they would just need to purchase a paper edition for those that don’t have electronics.  

I am fortunate to be able to be eLearning but several of my fellow teachers were not granted the same privilege I was, even though several has serious medical conditions and two are still recovering from covid’s long lasting side effects.  

If you have taken the time to read this I want to thank you.  Send good thoughts or pray or whatever you believe in because my colleagues, my students, their families and the greater community needs all the help it can get.  

Spam and Genealogy

As genealogists, we are used to spending our days looking at old documents, reading up on events that happened long ago and trying to put our “head” into the times that were so we can better understand when we analyze our findings.
We don’t dwell much on the fact that every day we are all making our own history.
I haven’t read anywhere a recent personal finding I discovered so I’m putting it out here now…
As a blogger I get A LOT of spam,  I’m not talking the pork based product – I don’t do sales pitches! I’m referring to the internet type.  You don’t see it because of the filters I constantly update to insure that the junk doesn’t get through to impact your experience or worse, infect your device.  In a typical pre-pandemic week, I got over a thousand spam hits easily, often closer to two thousand on each of my sites (my website and Blogger).  Since the pandemic, the amount has fluctuated over the months.  
When various countries reopened the spam increased; as they shut down again it decreased.  The majority in the past was from China and Eastern Europe. How do I know that?  Because it wasn’t in English.  I suppose someone who speaks English could have been using Google Translate to fake a hit but I’m not sure how likely that would have been.
Since May, my spam has been two-thirds in English based on my unscientific analysis.  I’m basing the one third on the incorrect English word choices that are being used.  (Hint to Russia and China Spammers:  We really don’t say ‘that cool’ much anymore).
In the past, the spam consisted about half regarding dating, a quarter for obtaining cheap medicines and a quarter claiming my blog was the best ever and directing readers to a link for purchase of a product that had nothing to do with genealogy.  Interestingly, the medical links are now scant.  The dating has turned hardcore and blunt.  The majority is product links.  My take is spammers are focusing on frustrated people and are trying to make a fast buck.  Just like elective medical procedures taking a back seat, so are sales of pharmaceuticals.
Last night I got a late email selling Halloween costumes.  I was flummoxed!  My first thought, was this couldn’t be serious – who is thinking of Halloween when nearly each day of 2020 has been a horror and we’re stuck in a perpetual Ground Hog’s Day. Then I thought, maybe it’s a message of hope to return to what we used to take for granted – normal times.  I don’t know what the motivation was to send an email late on a Friday evening for a holiday that may or maybe not be celebrated in three months but it did give me pause. Based on my spam and email type and amount, we’re a long way from “normal.”
What does this have to do with genealogy?  Everything!  Our times are historical and the stresses we humans are under right now impact the choices and decisions we make.  This data analysis shows insight on the conditions of our times.  
IMHO, with the utter chaos that greets us daily, what should become a priority is responsibility and obligations to community to insure the well being of all. I’m seeing so much of that in the genealogy community and not so much in other groups in which we belong.  History will be the judge of how we, as a society, have handled the numerous crises that have befallen us in the first half of 2020.  I’m looking forward, not to Halloween or Thanksgiving or Christmas, but for a turn around of hearts so that we can move forward together for a better future.  Today, I’m going back to my tree to work on my long dead people who have faced their own tragedies and rose to the occasion. I want to follow in those footstep. Perhaps your ancestors will help guide you in dealing with these troubling times. All the best!

Genealogy, Freedom and Acceptance – Black Lives Do Matter

It’s Independence Day here in the U.S. and this one will be like none I’ve previously spent.  Got a 3 part text from the Surgeon General of our state notifying us to “Avoid the 3 Cs Closed Spaces, Crowded Places & Close-Contact Settings.”  Kind of catchy!  Later that day, the bureaucrats came out stating the typical spin that this will poof be gone so no worries.  The disconnect would be funny if it wasn’t so sad for the millions who are suffering because of the disease or its side effects, such as unemployment, eviction, food shortage, and so on.  We plan on staying home and hubby has ventured out to the grocery store WITH HIS MASK to get our traditional picnic dinner that we usually have with family in the park right before the fireworks display.  This year, we’re eating it for lunch in our backyard on a quilt our daughter made to commemorate the times.  We’ll use the quilt every year from now on and perhaps next year will be different, perhaps not.  Like the immortal lyrics sung by Janis Joplin, “Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose.” My family and I realize how privileged we are and this temporary loss of our freedoms to go where we want with no restrictions is a small price to pay to insure our community stays safe.  Others aren’t so fortunate now or in the past.
The past week I have been heavily into researching my Daniel Hollin[g]shead to prove or disprove he was the only Daniel from Leicestershire, England that went to Barbados and became a real estate mogul in the Eastern New Jersey colonies.  I’m at the point I can say I have strong evidence but I want to make sure I haven’t made an error somewhere so I await a few more documents to examine.  Those records – the Bible he brought with him from England, a manuscript donated by family of a Presbyterian minister in South Carolina to an archive in Wisconsin, and a list of military men who died in the Battle of Blenheim in August 1704 would add further support or not.  The “or not” is key to the previous sentence and it’s what I love most about genealogy.  We think we know, we think we’ve found everything, we think we understand until a new document is discovered that throws us for a loop.  
In the past three weeks I’ve been on an emotional roller coaster ride with my findings.  I’ve had to face the facts and process that my gateway ancestor wasn’t the pious Quaker that I always thought of him.  Family legend stated that he was indentured to Barbados, possibly as a tailor, since he was the oldest son and his father, a tax collector, had died.  There was the issue that some of the money collected didn’t get turned in to the King’s treasury.  
I guess my interpretation of that information says a lot about my personality.  I was fine with the religion – I’m pretty much a nonconformist myself.  His “career” choice was okay, too. I love to sew and once had my own costume business so maybe that was how my skill came about. The missing tax money I attributed to an error or the sudden death of Daniel’s father but it all got resolved at the end so life was good.  
I never realized that I tend to make excuses for my ancestors actions and try to rationalize their behavior turning it into a positive explanation.  Until now.
In early June, I took every document I had on Daniel and his purported father, Francis and reviewed them.  I then asked a member of my local genealogy society who is a Brit and experienced with the time period I was working with to examine them for her suggestions.  She pointed out that the son of  a tax collector at the time would not have been indentured as a tailor so that story, with no documents, was probably untrue.  Britain had a rigid class system I hadn’t considered.  There was a Daniel who was a tailor in London but he was of an older generation than the Leicestershire Daniel.  There was also an indenture record for a different Hollingshead line but it was also for a much later time period than Leicestershire Daniel.  Perhaps, she suggested, that the family story got muddled over the past 300 years.  Heck, if we can’t even have our government officials in the same day have the same story, a 300 year time span certainly would have some errors. She suggested I search for more records and then reanalyze the findings.  Great advice!
Now I’ve looked for documents on this family for years and years and I can’t explain why I happened to find so much in just 3 weeks.  What I discovered is disturbing to me and altered my perspective of Daniel’s life and my own.  I still am working through it.
I discovered some conflicting evidence based on bios in old books.  One source stated he was born in Lancashire; the others all stated Leicestershire.  That was the first of my sick to my stomach feelings – I had put out the wrong info and so many other’s trees blindly accepted it as fact.  If that turned out to be correct, I didn’t even know how I could fix the problem.  I took a break, cleared my head and then began to research Hollin[g]sheads in Lancashire and found two families in two different parishes but he wasn’t there.  I examined the citations for the Lancashire book and hunted down the first source, another old book.  That book provided a different source so I searched for it and surprise, the initial source DID NOT HAVE LANCASHIRE – it didn’t name a location.  I’m still waiting to see what the second source states – that’s possibly the documents in Wisconsin.  I’m seeking a manuscript written before 1800 in Charleston, South Carolina.  Daniel never even visited South Carolina (or Wisconsin) so my theory of looking where they never lived seems to be supported again.  I also wanted to find the Bible to see what was recorded there.  Until I found the old bios from the 1800’s I didn’t know it even existed.  The last record of it was October 1882 in Chicago. I’m grateful to a genealogist from the New England Genealogical and Historical Society who provided a look up for me this week.  That immensely helped me move forward with finding the Bible.
The person who owned the Bible never married and had no children.  She predeceased her two brothers.  A sister, ironically, moved to a few miles from where I currently live with her husband and died there in 1939.  She had no children.  I suspect the Bible was given to a cousin from a different line who had received some other family memorabilia.  He was living in Manhattan at the time the Bible owner was and he had three children.  My theory is it was passed down to one of his children.  So I spent a day trying to locate the living of those lines.  I emailed 4 individuals and received a response from one.  Doesn’t say if she has it or not but that, to her knowledge, the Bible never contained genealogical information.  I laughed, that would be my family!  They never notate on photos, keep records, etc.  I’m not giving up hope that the current owner comes forward to verify that.
I also was trying to think of reasons why Daniel would leave Leicestershire.  Several old books mention he, as did several of his brothers, served in the Battle of Blenheim which was in August 1704.  My Brit friend stated that the brother who had died there as a Captain under the Duke of Marlborough (who Winston Churchill is descended from) would have been in the class of a tax collector so that further supports I have the correct Daniel.  She suggested finding proof of their military experience.  The National Archives of Great Britain doesn’t have it.  I’ve reached out to a few military societies in England hoping someone somewhere has the info.  
I then theorized Daniel went to Barbados because he was in the military and I began to read up on the history of that island.  The history is not pretty!  I knew there sugar plantations; his second wife, Thomasine Hasel’s father was an owner of one.  I knew there were slaves but I didn’t think much about them over the years.  I now know a lot and it is relatable to our current times.  
I was astounded to learn that Lord Cromwell placed many Scotts and Irish men into slavery.  How had I missed that?  I never knew how far back slavery went.  I do remember learning in school that the Romans had slaves but I thought they were prisoners of war.  I didn’t know that Africans were taken as slaves because of their religious convictions.  I never thought about the Spanish and Portuguese using and abusing African slaves before settling the “new world.”  I was astounded to read an archaeological  study that explored a former sugar plantation in Barbados and determined that economic power brokers in London had made the decision to exploit so they could become richer.  The evidence was buried in the soil, untouched for 400 years.  
I’m still coming to terms with the picture posted at the top of this blog.  Daniel died intestate in 1730 in Somerset County, New Jersey.  You can see from the inventory that he owned slaves.  I am sickened at the thought.  
My mantra has always been I identify with the underdog as I am one of them. I have been discriminated against because I was the only child in my parochial school whose parents were divorced at a time when divorce was frowned upon.  I was repeatedly called a carpetbagger because I was a northerner who had relocated to the south.  Some of my husband’s family would not accept me because my grandparents were immigrants.  They made negative comments about my religion.  I had a relationship severed by a friend because she hated my religion, too.  
Those experiences and my interpretation of my ancestry made me wrongly believe I was the great grand daughter of an indentured servant of Caribbean. I thought that made me linked in kinship and someone who understood the hardships of African Americans.  Geez, I even grew up in Gary, Indiana so I certainly understood the black experience, right?  WRONG!  
Growing up, even though I was at the lower rungs of the social economic ladder did not take away my white privilege.  I never asked for it but I inherited it.  As I reflect, I could have and should have done more. Coming out about my family’s involvement in slavery is not easy for me to accept but it is necessary. My blog today is my first step in this journey.
Who were “Tippeo, an old negro-man, Jack, Lelia, Jack, a boy, Bellinda and Dido?” What became of them?  Were they related?  I don’t know but intend to try to find out.  
This Independence Day I am reflecting on the past and trying to make plans for the future. My people had freedom and took away others’ freedom so that they could prosper.  I’m not sure how to make amends but I will work it out going forward.  I hope you will join me if you are at the same point in your life that I am.  Being embarrassed, sorry and ashamed isn’t enough.  Black Lives Matter – always have and always will.  It’s time for change and I will be a positive force in that.

Genealogy Food for Thought

Food items in short supply for the last few months seem to be returning to my local grocery store.  For a time, there was no flour, eggs and milk which definitely impacted home made bread and dessert making.  I don’t bake much anymore but I definitely pulled out my old family recipe book to cook up some comfort food while we were home.  

In 2001, as my oldest was about to leave home for college, I compiled a book of our favorite family recipes.  It’s definitely time for a re-do as I’ve acquired many additional ones to add to the old time favorites.  The binding on the old book is also giving out and some of the pages are stained. 

Since I’ve read every book and magazine in my house and on my Kindle, reorganized every closet and drawer, I’m ready to tackle the recipe book as my upcoming summer genealogical project.

You see, I add historical info as background to the cooking instructions.  For example, I tell the story of how Corn Meal Mush came into my grandmother’s go-to recipes when money was tight.  She got the recipe as a young bride from a southern neighbor.  All you need is corn meal and butter – simple and delicious.  

I will definitely be adding a section entitled “Pandemic” and it will contain the improvised methods I had to use when I ran out of staples and couldn’t get to the grocery store.  I don’t want to forget the past weeks – I want to document survival for a future family member.  Whether we’ve turned a corner on covid-19 or not, I can’t say.  What I can say is hope will get us through and I’m really hoping I’ll have this revised recipe collection done so I can give it out as Christmas presents!

The Proof Genealogical Connections Are Closer Than You Think

The sun is out and the weather is cool so I intend to get some fresh air and complete yard work before the next deluge descends.  

Think shelter in place lessens your genealogical connections?  Think again!  This is an awesome article that reminds us we need to sometimes not only think out of the box to discover our heritage, we often don’t need to look far at all!  

The Washington Post’s article – Amid the pandemic, a family learns their neighbors are their long-lost relatives will make you smile, remind you that your family stories are often close but not always 100% accurate and the coincidences that occur while sleuthing can just boggle the mind.  My immediate family has gotten used to my striking up conversations with strangers and discovering our families often had a shared past but this story takes it to a new level.  Enjoy!