Category Archives: genealogy

Celebrating Independence Day

I want to wish everyone a Happy 4th of July — the celebration of the birth of the United States of America.  Many people today do not understand the significance of the holiday, nor how it came to be celebrated in the manner it is.

I write a column for The Lakeshore Guardian and for the July 2017 I wrote about the history of our celebration and the changes that have taken place since the very first time festivities took place in the year of our independence, 1776.  You can read the column by clicking on Celebrating Independence Day, which will take you directly to my column.  While there feel free to click on Articles by Grace Grogan which will take you to a 4-page listing of the columns I have done for that paper.  There is no subscription fee for the paper so feel free to view at your leisure.

If for any reason you have difficulty using the links above, I have scanned and attached the Celebrating Independence Day column below, which you should be able to click on and enlarge for easier reading.

Wishing you all a wonderful, happy, 4th of July Celebration.

Celebrating Independence Day001

 

Celebrating Independence Day002

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Filed under celebration, events, Festivals, genealogy, Holidays, Life is a Melting Pot

Looking Back: A Facebook Review

Every  morning around 7 AM I receive a notification from Facebook that there are memories from previous years on that date.  I look forward to reviewing those memories, looking back on what I was doing or sharing in previous years.  Some of those memories I skim over,  some I share again.

We go about our day-to-day lives and don’t realize how we change over time.  I notice that the type of information I consider relevant has changed.  Postings about day-to-day life have changed.  It is fun to see what I was doing in college a few years ago, how many days I would go without being on Facebook because I was busy, or even the activities I was partaking in on any particular date or year.

I have shared a lot of pictures over the years.  When those pop up on my memories feed it is fun to see how my grandchildren have grown, or the changes in the appearance of my kids, myself and my husband.  Places I have visited, events I have attended, and more are shared through photographs on my personal page, as well as the Times Gone By Photography page I have.

Another fun thing I discovered in looking back is the notes I have posted on my Facebook page.  For several years now I have shared a challenge where you try to read 52 books in a year, and although I have never made it to 52 I have those “notes” from every year where I listed each book I read, the author, whether fiction or non-fiction and the number of pages.  I recently came across a couple other postings I did, one answering questions about how well you know your spouse, and another where you list 25 things about yourself.  I may do that one again, because things have changed.  I am now in the processing of printing off some of the things I discovered and saving them in a scrapbook or notebook for future look backs by myself and/or my children and grandchildren.

We live in a digital world.  Everything is handled electronically and people, young people especially, do not keep things in a printed, paper format.  Give consideration to printing off and saving in a notebook some of the things you share electronically.  Make it a scrapbook of you.  Future generations will be glad you did when everything you have done is lost in the cyber world.

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Filed under Activities, Discoveries, exploration, Family, genealogy, Life is a Melting Pot, memoir, reality, Scrapbooking

Finding Treasures

China Bowl 4The discovery of items that were beautiful, old, and interesting.  Four boxes of them.  Each box was labeled “Treasures.”  When we removed the top what we found were typewritten lists that not only named the items inside, it explained where they came from, and how that original owner was related or not related to us, and how the item came to be in our family.  The history of each item that had been carefully packed away years ago for us to discover.Coffee Pots

My sister and I discovered those boxes as we were going through things in our parents house, cleaning it out following the death of our father in December.  Our mother passed away almost two years ago and was very ill for over ten years.  She is the one that prepared those boxes, carefully wrapping each item, packing them into the boxes and then typing the lists on an old-fashioned typewriter.  So long they have sat tucked away, carefully stored for us to find someday

Honeymoon brochuresThe items are an interesting assortment, too many to list here.  I did take a few cell phone pictures of some of the “treasures”.  My grandmother’s wooden rolling pin and wooden board.  My grandfather’s pipe stand and his favorite pipe.  Beautiful china bowls.  A Stein from Germany.  Jigsaw puzzles with very thick pieces.  My father’s first camera  and his toy holster set from when he was a child.  My parents wedding cake top and some brochures, road map and placemats from their honeymoon.

Dads Holster SetThe discovery was a wonderful break in our cleaning out of their house.  Had we stumbled upon some of those items in the house we may not have realized their emotional value, their history within our family.  One of the best gifts we could ever have received.    I now know that there are items in my home I want to locate and pack in the same manner, carefully labeling the box and making sure that someday, when my husband and I are gone, our children can discover treasurers in our home and enjoy the  significance to their heritage.

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Filed under death, Family, genealogy, Life is a Melting Pot, parents

Cemetery Shooting

Photo by Grace Grogan, copyright 2014

Photo by Grace Grogan, copyright 2014

The quietness envelopes you. A light drizzle of rain can add to the atmosphere. The headstones are old and weathered, some no longer can be read. Some are sinking into the ground, barely visible but still maintained by loved ones of the modern day with flowers or flags beside them. Ancestors who are not forgotten but are sinking into the ground forever.  There are headstones with elaborate carvings, statues signifying the importance of the person or an affluent  family.

Photo by Grace Grogan, copyright 2014

Photo by Grace Grogan, copyright 2014

Grave of Chester Haight.  Photo by Grace Grogan, copyright 2013

Grave of Chester Haight. Photo by Grace Grogan, copyright 2013

Look at the dates. One hundred years ago, two hundred years ago, walking on ancient burial ground. What were their lives like back then? What was the ceremony like that layed the person to rest at this location? What was the reason for their passing? Life spans were not as lengthy back then. What did they accomplish in such a short time on earth?

Crawford Settlement Burying Ground.  Photo by Grace Grogan, copyright 2013.

Crawford Settlement Burying Ground. Photo by Grace Grogan, copyright 2013.

The most heart wrenching are the baby plots.   Infants, toddlers, and children laid to rest at such a young age. What caused them to pass before their life had begun? Was it childhood diseases that no longer exist? An accident? Why do so many children die at such a young age?

These are the things that go through the mind as you wander old cemeteries. That is why I love shooting pictures at cemeteries. They are peaceful, calming, and are wonderfully interesting places to take photographs.

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Photo by Grace Grogan, copyright 2013

I like to stop at old cemeteries when by myself.  Most people think I’m a bit crazy to enjoy wandering a cemetery for an hour or more taking photographs, only to leave that one and drive to another. I have visited as many as four cemeteries in one day, each one with something different to offer.

I hope you enjoy my cemetery photographs. If you ever want to take a peaceful walk, stroll an old cemetery. Don’t go to a modern one, they lack  personality. Pick an old one with ancient, tall headstones, weathered with age, and enjoy a relaxing stroll.

Photo by Grace Grogan, Copyright 2013

Photo by Grace Grogan, Copyright 2013

Photo by Grace Grogan, Copyright 2013

Photo by Grace Grogan, Copyright 2013

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Photo by Grace Grogan, copyright 2013

Photo by Grace Grogan, copyright 2013.

Photo by Grace Grogan, copyright 2013.

 

Almost lost but not forgotten.  Photo by Grace Grogan, copyright 2013.

Almost lost but not forgotten. Photo by Grace Grogan, copyright 2013.

 

 

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Filed under exploration, genealogy, Life is a Melting Pot, Photography

Running Out Of Time

I realized it was time for me to post another blog and I had not prepared anything.  Where did the time go?  I ran out of time!  Those are phrases that are frequently heard from people everywhere.  It made me think, how is it in this time of modern technology that we are constantly running short on time.  Of all generations, we should have more free time available to us than our ancestors ever did.  Those are phrases I rarely heard people say when I was growing up in the 1960’s and 1970’s.  I really don’t remember them being said very often as little as 25-30 years ago when my children were young.

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Running Out of Time

One thing that has not changed is that we still have the same 24-hour time frame per day.  Going back in history people  had to endure more time consuming chores on a daily basis.  They had to care for livestock, cook on wood burning stoves, travel by horse-drawn carriage or on horseback, wash dishes by hand, sew and mend their own clothes, and although wardrobes were smaller then, washing was done on a washboard and hung out to dry.    When they arrived home from a destination they couldn’t simply hop out of the car and run into the home.  It didn’t matter what kind of weather they were traveling in, warm and sunny, pouring rain, or snow storm, they had to take their horses to the barn and groom, feed and water the animal before walking from barn to house.

Once inside the home they couldn’t pull frozen food from the freezer and throw it in the oven or microwave.  They had to prepare it from scratch, light a fire in the stove for cooking and/or in the fireplace for heat.  Once done eating they couldn’t just throw the dishes into the dishwasher, they had to be washed and dried by hand.  If it got late there were no electrical lights to flip on, kerosene lanterns had to be lit.  Once all this was done the women could relax by the fire to mend socks/clothing or other similar tasks while the men could possibly play a little music by hand for entertainment.  This was after a day spent laboring in fields with horse-drawn plows, harvesting crops, cooking, cleaning, or other such labor intensive tasks.

When I was growing up some women worked outside the home, some did not.  While there were more modern conveniences such as automatic washers and dryers, most homes had a wash line in the backyard for hanging clothes out to dry rather than using the automatic dryer.  The fresh scent of air dried clothing is wonderful.  By the 1970’s most families had two cars.  People socialized with all their neighbors on the block, women gathering during the day and couples/families in the evenings.  Many women purchased patterns and fabric to make home-sewn clothing for themselves and children.  The microwave was invented, people enjoyed the convenience of having a deep freeze in their home for food storage, and although the convenience of packaged food was available the majority of meals at home were prepared from scratch.  Children were sometimes involved in an extracurricular activity such as band, theater or sports, but for the most part children were home after school unless they were of an age where they might hold an after school job.  Families had a TV, but only one.  I don’t recall hearing our parents complain about a lack of time to get things done, life seemed more relaxed.

Now we have far more conveniences to make our lives easy, but at the same time we seem to have complicated our lives to the point where people are more stressed and complain about a lack of time.  Our children’s lives are scheduled with a multitude of extracurricular activities, both parents often work outside the home and there are many more single-parent families.  Grocery stores carry a wide variety of selections, in the summer farmers markets can be found in abundance, and yet people eat more fast-food, restaurant food, or frozen/processed food at home then in the past.  We drive vehicles that allow us to do quick-stop oil changes, automatic car washes and other maintenance that requires very little time.  We have microwaves, automatic dishwashers, washers and dryers, and permanent press wrinkle free clothing for easy maintenance, not to mention larger wardrobes than any of our ancestors ever did.  People still socialize, but not to the level that they did in the past.  We have numerous modern conveniences to free our time and yet we are constantly complaining that we are unable to get things done.  Why?

While we have many modern conveniences designed to save us time, we also have many that cause us to waste great amounts of time, easily several hours on a daily basis.  If you are stressed to get things done analyze how you are spending your time.  How much time do you spend in front of the TV?  Check the time you spend online surfing the web or on social networking sights.  Hours can easily be lost as the interaction with online friends is constant.  Even when out of the home many people now carry smart phones that allow them to constantly check their social networking sights, do email, and play games while out and about.  We are at the immediate beck and call of anyone who wants to reach us because of our cell phones.  Then there are the video and/or internet games.  You can become attached to one or many of those and also loose valuable time trying to achieve the next level or outscore your friends.

Something I haven’t done but could prove interesting would be to to keep track of time wasted sitting in front of the TV and time spent on the computer in non-productive activities such as social networking or game playing during a one week period.  My assumption is I would be shocked at the amount of time I spend participating in those activities.  That is a challenge to any of you who hear yourself constantly saying you have run out of time, have no time, and don’t know where the time went.  Log the time you spend per week on such time-wasting activities and see if you can find some additional time that can be regained into more productive tasks.

If you take part in my challenge to analyze your wasted time, I would love to have you come back to this blog and share your findings.  It will be interesting to see if my thoughts are correct.    I look forward to hearing from all of you in the near future.

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Filed under Family, freindship, genealogy, Life is a Melting Pot, time, Uncategorized, Writing

WILD WEATHER PAST AND PRESENT

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Bald Eagle, photo by Grace Grogan

Ice Jam, photo by Grace Grogan

Ice Jam, photo by Grace Grogan

Bald Eagle, photo by Grace Grogan

Bald Eagle, photo by Grace Grogan

 

This past winter the United States experienced some wild weather, as have other parts of the world.  Here in the thumb of Michigan the ice coverage on the water resulted in a large number of eagles being seen on the river to the extent that they were written about in local newspapers.  The ice on the great lakes will help raise water tables that have been low for years while it has negatively affected the shipping industry as the ice cutters were unable to keep the shipping channels clear.  Bitter cold, snow and ice were encountered at unusual levels all across the country.

I recently watched a special on TV that dealt with the affects of global warming, the melting glaciers, and claimed this wild weather may be our new normal and may become worse.  Flooding, mud slides, earthquakes, hurricanes, could all progressively increase as the glaciers melt and our earth adjusts to the changes.  While I don’t discount scientific studies or the fact that industry and resulting pollution contribute to the changes, I also know that wild weather has been going on for centuries, prior to when modern industry existed.  Our ancestors encountered it without the modern means of communication to provide them with warnings or obtain assistance.  No telephones, automobiles,  or satellites, just the surprise of whatever happened and human determination to rebuild their lives after disaster.

It was April 12, 1934 when the weather observatory in Mount Washington, New Hampshire recorded a wind speed of 231 mph, but it was all the way back on January 22, 1885 when the temperature dropped to 50 degrees below zero at that same location.  Fifty below zero was also recorded in East Portal, Utah on January 5, 1913.  That was when the primary means of travel was horse and buggy and homes and homes were heated by fireplace or wood burning stoves.   Imagine traveling in an unheated carriage or having to go out and gather wood to heat your home in those temperatures.   Over the years bone-freezing temperatures have made their mark on history.    The coldest temperature in the 48 contiguous states was 70 below zero in Rogers Pass, Montana on January 20, 1954, but Prospect Creek, Alaska sets the record for the coldest temperature in the United States with 80 below zero on January 23, 1971.

Extreme temperatures on the positive side have also occurred in history.  It was way back on July 10, 1913 that Death Valley National Park was the world’s hottest place at 134 degrees.   It was surprising to learn that Fort Yukon, Alaska was 100 degrees on June 27, 1915.  There were several dates in the mid 1930’s that cities in the U.S. recorded temperatures at 118 degrees or higher, but it was way back on July 20, 1898 and August 10, 1898 that the towns of Prineville and Pendleton, Oregon reached 119 degrees.  As if that wasn’t hot enough on its own, that was before air conditioning or even electric fans.  Combined with the suits that men wore or the long sleeved, high-necked dresses with multiple layers of underclothing that women wore and you can only imagine how horribly uncomfortable it must have been for everyone.

Temperature certainly impacts our lives on a daily basis, but natural disasters have also occurred throughout history and at times when the modern warning systems, means of communicating a need for help or quick and easy transportation did not exist.   Imagine living in Johnstown, Pennsylvania in May 1889 and the fear, devastation and horrendous work of clean up after ten inches of rain fell in under 24 hours causing a dam to break.  Try to envision a 30-foot high wall of water traveling 40 mph  towards town and the residents unaware of what was bearing down on them.  That day more than 2,200 people were killed.  Just the need to get that many bodies buried before disease and the stench of decay set in would have been emotionally and physically exhausting.

If you ever visit Galveston, Texas you can tour the Moody Mansion, the only building left intact after a category 4 hurricane struck the island town on September 8, 1900.  With winds reaching 130 to 140 miles per hour and a storm surge of 15.7 feet hitting the island where elevation was only 8.7 feet, the hurricane destroyed 3,600 buildings and killed between 6,000 to 8,000 people, including 90 children from St. Mary’s Orphans Asylum.   Isaac’s Storm by Eric Larson brings the story of this attack by nature to life.

We watched what we considered to be unusual winter storm weather move across the United States this year.  In some ways history was repeating itself, but with our modern technology we were able to avoid the disastrous results such weather caused in the past.  It was March 11 and March 12, 1888 that 40-50″ of snow fell on Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York resulting in the death of over 400 people and causing 200 ships at sea to sink.   On  February 11, 1899 snow fell beginning in Florida all the way up the eastern seaboard, in one day dumping 20″ of snow in Washington DC and 34″ in New Jersey.    The book The Children’s Blizzard by David Laskin is a gripping tale of the blizzard that took place on January 12, 1888 in the Dakota Territory and Nebraska.   The storm came up fast and unexpectedly, dropping temperatures from above freezing to a 40 below windchill and leaving adults and school children stranded and lost, sometimes only a few feet from shelter.  A total of 235 people died in that storm.  Those who live in the Blue Water Area of Michigan are familiar with the Storm of 1913.  This blizzard, called a White Hurricane, took place on the great lakes November 7, 1913 sinking ships and killing many.

We now have exited winter and are approaching the season for tornadoes.  Hopefully history will not repeat itself with more natural disasters such as the May 7, 1840 tornado that hit Natchez, Mississippi killing 317 people.  There was no warning system of TV, radio, internet to warn those in its path.  There were 317 reported deaths from the tornado, but slaves were not counted and so the death toll was likely much higher.   St. Louis Missouri had a massive tornado rip through the downtown area on May 27, 1896 killing 255 people and injury about 1,000 others.  Over 8,800 buildings were damaged or destroyed.  St. Louis also experienced another massive hit on September 29, 1927 when a tornado tore apart more than 200 city blocks in a period of about four minutes.    The deadliest tornado in the United States took place on March 18, 1925 covering between 219 to 234 miles and leaving 695 dead and 2,027 injured.   This tornado traveled from southeastern Mississippi through the southern portion of Illinois and then into southwestern Indiana.  The tornado lasted for over three and a half hours with an average width of 3/4 of a mile and a speed of approximately 62 miles an hour and destroying approximately 15,000 homes that were in its path.

Looking back in history it is easy to determine that the wild weather of today may be of extreme proportions, but it is not new to this decade.  Massive storms have been happening for centuries and people have been enduring the hardships of destruction and recovery throughout history.   Wild weather can be found in the past, present and most likely will continue in the future.

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Filed under birds, genealogy, Life is a Melting Pot, Uncategorized, Writing

MY CRAZY WEEK

0801 Bathroom Shots 2014-1

This has been a whirlwind week with meetings on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday evenings for three different groups I am involved with.  While at first glance the three activities appear to be different, in my life they inner-mix and blend so that each has a connection with the other.  If this happens in my life, it most likely occurs in the lives of everyone. 

 The family history group’s main focus is genealogy.  I am a member of the board and also newsletter editor of Blue Water Family Backgrounds.   As newsletter editor I spend time reading old articles and books for inclusion in the newsletter or as research for articles I am writing.  I also take photographs of historical sites and activities the club does for the newsletter.  My involvement in the club is what led to me writing the column Who Am I? for The Lakeshore Guardian.  The column provides readers information on doing family research. 

In addition to the writing the genealogy column and serving as newsletter editor for the history group, I am working on a book regarding my family’s involvement with Child Protective Services, foster care and my husband’s and my attempt to adopt our granddaughters.  This is an ongoing battle which has not yet ended.  I am learning the battles we have encountered are a huge and common problem across the country.  As a result of my writing activities I began attending a Freelance Writer’s Group.  The Freelance Writer’s Group is the reason I began this blog.  I learned that writers/authors typically have blogs so readers can get to know them and their writing style.  Each blog I write is accompanied by a photograph taken by either me or my husband, another interest and activity.

My husband and I have a photography business, Times Gone By Photography and are members of the Blue Water Shutterbug Club.    We take photographs of nature, events, and travel and have them available for sale at local art studios and on Fine Art America.  We photograph art shows and opening events for Studio 1219 in Port Huron, Michigan for which I write a promotional clip that we post with our photographs on the Studio’s Facebook page.  Our photographs have also appeared in an annual vacation magazine for the Blue Water area and a photo taken by me is currently on the cover of the local yellow pages phone book.   Photography also is important to my scrapbooking hobby. 

Scrapbooking ties in with genealogy.  I have a scrapbook of historical family photos and scrapbooking itself involves the recording of family events for future generations.   In addition to that I do an annual Christmas newsletter for family and friends and have saved copies of each for close to thirty years, a written history of our family and our children’s lives growing up. 

All of these interests — family history, freelance writing, and photography tie together in a unique blend, mixing together and supporting each other in my life.  Just as my lifestyle is a melting pot of various activities that swirl and blend together, yours most likely is as well.  When life seems to be a jumbled mess of meetings, activities, and work take a look at what you are doing and how they inner relate to each other.   Stir up the blend and enjoy the results, because after all, Life is a Melting Pot.

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Filed under Family, genealogy, Life is a Melting Pot, Photography, Scrapbooking, Uncategorized, Writing