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The Daily Genealogist: Readers’ Thanksgiving Traditions

(A Note from the Editor) Permanent link
 
Betlock Lynn

Lynn Betlock
Editor

In response to last week’s Thanksgiving-related stories and food survey, many readers wrote to share their own Thanksgiving traditions. Below is a selection:

Betsey Heath Howes of Plainfield, Massachusetts: This week’s discussion on Thanksgiving made me think of the differences in the Thanksgivings of my youth, held at my grandmother's farm in Huntington, Mass., and the family reunion Thanksgivings I now attend with my husband's family in Whately, Mass. My Grandmother Heath served a turkey every year that was provided by my cousin's husband, a WWII vet and expert marksman who won many turkeys at the turkey shoots that were ubiquitous in our part of Western Mass. in the 1950s and 60s. The turkey — with dressing, cranberry sauce, peas, squash, onions cooked in cream, potatoes and gravy, and various home canned pickles and homemade pies — made up the bulk of the meal. But my grandmother always made a huge chicken pie in her milk pan and everyone got a bit of that. In Whately, the basic foods are the same: turkey, squash, potatoes, onions, and dressing — but turnip and cranberry relish are on this menu. The Howes came from the Cape and there are always one or two cranberry pies — a thing I had never encountered before I married my husband — as well as squash, pumpkin, maple walnut, pecan, apple, blueberry, and real mincemeat pie made with venison. Pies are carefully cut into small slices so people can have a taste of many pies. Thanks for helping me go down memory lane.

David Ojerholm of Sydney, Australia: My wife, Janet, makes pumpkin cheesecakes for Thanksgiving. People hardly touch or have room for the pumpkin pies! We celebrate Thanksgiving here "down-under" on the Sunday before or after the actual day so other people can join us.

Roseanne Bloom of Kalispell, Montana: You didn't have a space for my family's traditional Thanksgiving food: sauerkraut! For me, it is not Thanksgiving without it, although now that I live in Montana, no one's ever heard of having it for Thanksgiving. I grew up in Baltimore, Maryland, and it was always on the table for Thanksgiving. I'm not sure if it's a regional thing, or related to some German heritage we have.

Frederick M. Dittmar of Norman, Oklahoma: Greetings and Thanksgiving tidings from Oklahoma by a displaced Plymouthian! I grew up in Plymouth and in 1921 my mother, B. Edwina Canning-Dittmar, was in the first Pilgrim Progress. [The Pilgrim Progress began as part of the tercentenary commemoration of the Pilgrims’ arrival.] If you have one of the first postcards of the Pilgrim Progress taken with the group at the base of Burial Hill, she is the lady in the lightest costume. My mother went on to work with Rose Briggs and Joan Doll in making many of the first costumes for the Progress — for Mayflower passengers, speakers at the Rock, and characters at the first fort and the Pilgrim houses on the waterfront. In my youth, our house was always full of costume production and people trying on costumes for fittings. It’s a sad and happy time of year for me as I do miss Plymouth and all the historical activity.

 


The Daily Genealogist: Priscilla

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Julie Helen Otto

Julie Helen Otto
Staff Genealogist

PRISCILLA (f): The name Priscilla is said to be derived from the Latin Prīscilla, a feminine diminutive of prīscus, meaning ancient. (Note the long “i.”) [Calvert Watkins, American Heritage Dictionary of Indo-European Roots, 3rd ed., 2011.] Strong’s Expanded Exhaustive Concordance to the Bible indicates that in the Bible Priscilla is the wife of Aquila and is a co-worker with St. Paul. She’s referred to five times (Acts 18:2, 18:18, 18:26; Romans 16:3, 1 Corinthians 16:19) as Priscilla, and once as Prisca (2 Timothy 4:19). This woman must be the model for the Puritan name. Mayflower passenger Priscilla (Mullins) Alden (born circa 1602) was immortalized in The Courtship of Miles Standish (1858) by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. (Some of the history and lore behind the story of Priscilla Mullins, Miles Standish, and John Alden is available on the website of the Pilgrim Hall Museum in Plymouth, Massachusetts.)


The Daily Genealogist: Porter County Public Library, Indiana

(Spotlight) Permanent link
 
Valerie Beaudrault

Valerie Beaudrault
Assistant Editor

Porter County Public Library, Indiana

Porter County is located in northwestern Indiana. Valparaiso is its county seat. The Porter County Public Library has made a number of genealogy resources available online.

Obituary Index
The Obituary Index, which covers 1938 through January 2011, is searchable by first and last name. Names must be entered in both search boxes to perform a search. The information has been extracted from the Vidette-Messenger and Vidette Times newspapers. The data fields are last name, first name, middle initial, maiden name, age, death date, paper (date published in the newspaper), from (where the deceased is from), and index number.

Marriage Index
The Marriage Index, which covers 1921 through 1946, is searchable by first and last name. Names must be entered in both search boxes to perform a search. The data fields are bride or groom, last name, first name, marriage date, and book and page numbers

Porter County Herald Index
The Porter County Herald was published in Hebron, Indiana. Vital records and articles for 1933 through 1938 are included in this database. (Issues for some dates are missing.) It is searchable by first and last name, both of which are required to perform a search. The data fields are last name, first name, newspaper date, and page number.

1920–21 Milk Producers Association in Porter County
This alphabetical database contains a list of members of the association. The data fields are first name, last name, and page number.

Index to Divorces
The Index to Divorce contains more than 8,000 records. They are organized alphabetically by surname. The data fields are last name, first name, entity, dependents, court, case number, and case type. The entity field contains information about whether the individual in the record is the plaintiff or the defendant.

Guardianship Court Cases
There are over 5,000 records in the Guardianship Court Cases index. The data fields in this alphabetical index are surname, given name, entity, “guardianship for,” court, case number and case type. Data in the entity field lists the status of the named individual – guardian, person, decedent, defendant, or respondent.

Combined Probate Estates
There are nearly 12,500 records in this database, which is organized alphabetically by surname and covers from the early twentieth century to the early 1960s. The data fields are surname, given name, date of death, entity, court, case number, and date filed. “Entity” refers to whether the individual is the administrator or the decedent.

Genealogy Digital Library
Click on the Genealogy Digital Library on the homepage, then click the Enter Here link, which will bring you to the search page. The Genealogy Digital Library contains two volumes — The City of Homes, Schools and Churches: a Pictorial Story of Valparaiso, Its People and Its Environs (1905) and Souvenir Book of Valparaiso, Indiana (1911). Search the database by entering a keyword or browse by subject or title. Clicking on the browse by subjects link will provide you with an alphabetical subject list. Clicking on the browse by titles link will give you access to the two digitized volumes. Click the book's image to the left of the title to select individual pages


The Daily Genealogist: Traditional Thanksgiving Dishes

(Surveys) Permanent link
 




The Weekly Genealogist Survey

Last week’s survey asked whether any of your ancestors served in major American military conflicts. 3,940 people answered this survey. The results are:

  • 84%, The American Revolution (1775-1783)
  • 54%, War of 1812 (1812-1815)
  • 10%, Mexican War (1846-1848)
  • 79%, Civil War (1861-1865)
  • 17%, Spanish-American War (1898)
  • 53%, World War I (1914-1918)
  • 72%, World War II (1939-1945)
  • 27%, Korean War (1950-1953)
  • 24%, Vietnam War (1959-1975)
  • 1%, None of my ancestors served in any of the conflicts listed above.
  • >1%, I don't know if any of my ancestors served in any of the conflicts listed above

 

This week’s survey asks what traditional Thanksgiving dishes will appear on your table this year. Take the survey now!


The Daily Genealogist: Dinarzada

(Name Origins) Permanent link
 
Julie Helen Otto

Julie Helen Otto,
Staff Genealogist

DINARZADA (f): In The Arabian Nights’ Entertainments (the title of the first English edition, published in 1706), Dinarzade was the sister of SCHEHEREZADE, the great teller of tales. Dinazada Covell was baptized Edgartown, Mass. 13 Nov. 1774, daughter of Joseph and Judith (____) Covell (Edgartown VRs, p. 26).

The Daily Genealogist: Indiana Resources

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Valerie Beaudrault

Valerie Beaudrault
Assistant Editor

Vigo County Public Library, Indiana

Vigo County is located in southwestern Indiana, and is in the center of the Wabash Valley region. This region includes counties in two states — Indiana and Illinois. Terre Haute is the county seat and home to the Vigo County Public Library. The library has made some of its resources available on its website. These include Vigo County Marriage Records and the Wabash Valley Obituary Index, about which I wrote in 2010. Click on the title links to access these resources.

Click on the Local History tab and choose Local History Books Online to open a new page to access the resources. The resources include digitized versions of ten general histories, ten pictorial histories, and four periodicals. In addition, there are specialized materials in the following areas: African American histories (two speeches); architecture (an 1875 description of plans for a new state capitol); two biographies; a volume on natural disasters; a history of public school education; fire department, hospital, and library histories; school publications, including a large number of yearbooks; travel accounts; women’s history; and an index to a 1858 Vigo County map, among other resources.

Another resource available on the Vigo County Library website is a collection of more than fifty oral history interview transcripts. Select the Vigo County Oral History Project link to access this resource. Click on an individual’s name to read a transcript of that person’s interview.

Fosdick Funeral Home Records, Union County, Indiana

Union County is located in southeastern Indiana. Its county seat is the town of Liberty. An index to the records of the Fosdick Funeral Home has been made available via the Union County Public Library website. The funeral home was located in Liberty, and the records cover the period from 1915 through 1971. The data fields in this alphabetical index include the full name of the deceased and the year of death.

Obituary Database, St. Joseph County Public Library, South Bend, Indiana

St. Joseph County is located in northern Indiana. Its county seat is South Bend.

This database indexes obituaries from the South Bend Tribune from 1913 to the present. The index includes obituaries, death records, arrangements pending notices, funeral notes, news items/articles, legal notices, and memorial announcements for individuals who had ties to St. Joseph County. (These include people who lived or had lived in the county, worked or had worked there, died, were buried, or had relatives there.)

To search for an obituary, type the deceased’s name in the search box. The search results can be sorted by name, address, city, state, or year published. Use the dropdown list to select your sort order. The data fields in the search results are last name, address, city, state, and year. Click on the name link to open a new page with detailed search results, which may include some or all of the following: source, full publication date, article type, section and/or page, date of birth, date of death, age at death, and notes. The notes field includes information such as spouse’s name(s), names of other family members in South Bend, and South Bend residential status.


The Daily Genealogist: French Couple Connect Canadians with Distant Graves of Loved Ones

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Betlock Lynn

Lynn Betlock
Editor

“For a decade now this unheralded French couple has been scouring the cemeteries and war memorials of Normandy, answering queries from Canadian families searching for a grave location—or a photograph, or a tombstone inscription—any information about the resting place of a relative who died in France during the Second World War.”

The Daily Genealogist: Ranks of WWII Heroes Are Diminishing

(Stories of Interest) Permanent link
 
Betlock Lynn

Lynn Betlock
Editor

A profile of WWII veteran Robert Ware Foster, 93, of East Walpole, Massachusetts.

The Daily Genealogist: Answer Man: How Many World War II Vets Still With Us?

(Stories of Interest) Permanent link
 
Betlock Lynn

Lynn Betlock
Editor

Columnist Roger Schlueter of the Belleville, Illinois, News-Democrat examines a number of interesting statistics for veterans past, present, and future.

 


The Daily Genealogist: Late Honor Comes to Civil War Soldiers

(Stories of Interest) Permanent link
 
Betlock Lynn

Lynn Betlock
Editor

“An obscure gubernatorial Soldiers' Recognition subcommittee . . . has been combing through cemetery records, genealogical websites and other historical haystacks to track down Minnesota's first veterans.”

The Daily Genealogist: American Military Conflicts

(Surveys) Permanent link
 
Betlock Lynn

Lynn Betlock
Editor

Last week’s survey asked whether any of your ancestors emigrated from Ireland due to the Great Famine (1845–1852). 2,953 people answered this survey. The results are:

30%, Yes
55%, No
15%, I don’t know.

This week’s survey asks whether any of your ancestors served in major American military conflicts. Take the survey now!


The Daily Genealogist: Herkimer County, New York, Resources

(Spotlight) Permanent link
 
Valerie Beaudrault

Valerie Beaudrault
Assistant Editor

Herkimer County is located in central New York State. Its county seat is the Village of Herkimer.

Herkimer County Tombstone Inscriptions

The Herkimer County Tombstone Inscriptions webpage contains burial information from cemeteries located in a number of different towns, including Columbia, Danube, Fairfield, Frankfort, German Flatts, Herkimer, Litchfield, Little Falls, Manheim, Newport, Norway, Ohio, Russia, Salisbury, Schuyler, Stark, Warren, Webb/Wilmurt, and Winfield.

The website offers links to more than 100 burial and/or cemetery databases. Some of the links will take you to databases on other websites. (Please note that some of the external links to other sites no longer work.) Click on the cemetery name link to view the list of individuals buried in the cemetery. In some cases you will also find brief histories and/or photographs of the cemetery. A few of the databases, such as those for the town of Norway, index burial permits rather than tombstones. Some cemeteries have more than one burial database, and some have only partial listings while others are more complete.

In addition to the town-specific cemetery databases, you will find four databases containing countywide burial records. The information for three of them was taken from the Proceedings of the Board of Supervisors of the County of Herkimer for 1903, 1910, and 1911. The fourth database was created from a volume titled Abstracts of Graves of Revolutionary Patriots.

Herkimer County Historical Society

The Herkimer County Historical Society is located in Herkimer. The society has made some resources available online. Click on the links in the contents list on the left side of the page to view them.

Town Histories
Brief histories of the county’s twenty towns (stated above) were extracted from Nathaniel Benton's 1856 History of Herkimer County.

Family Histories
Click on the Family Sketches link to open a new page that provides alphabetical links to the sketches. The biographical information comes from History of Herkimer County by George A. Hardin and Frank H. Willard, published in 1893.

On the society’s website you will also find a brief history of Herkimer County, some stories of interest, and the contact information for Herkimer County town historians.


The Daily Genealogist: Disasters & Our Ancestors

(A Note from the Editor) Permanent link
 
Betlock Lynn

Lynn Betlock
Editor

Last week’s article about how disasters may have affected our ancestors prompted a number of reader emails. Below is a selection:

John D. Tew of Purcellville, Virginia: Even before the frequent mention this past week of the infamous hurricane of September 1938, I knew about that storm from family stories. Like Sandy, that hurricane occurred during a full moon and a higher tide than usual because of the autumnal equinox. The storm roared up Rhode Island’s Narragansett Bay, wreaking havoc and taking lives as it went. The Bay caused a funneling effect and the surge rose to sixteen feet above normal tides, and more than thirteen feet of water was left in some parts of downtown Providence. More than 600 people were killed. When I was a pre-teen I often looked at my grandmother's special edition photo magazine that showed the utter destruction that occurred in Providence, elsewhere in Rhode Island, other parts of New England, and Long Island. My father was sixteen at the time and his parents were out of town when the storm arrived. He came home from school and when he couldn’t find his younger brother he went out into gale force winds to find him. He had the foresight to put on a football helmet before he left and it gave some protection from flying debris. He finally found his brother at a friend's home playing in the cellar, completely oblivious to the danger raging outside. My father grabbed his brother and, without wasting time for explanation, almost dragged him home.

LaBeth Hayden Pondish of Prescott Valley, Arizona: As a native of Texas City, I have been aware of the 1947 explosion from my early childhood. I was three and a half years old and living two miles from the explosion when it occurred, and the concussion of the explosion and the black smoke filling the skies are my earliest childhood memories. My father, L. M. Hayden, who passed away last year at the age of 96, had vivid memories of helping to pick up bodies and body parts after the explosion. His story is published in the memorial volume, We Were There: A Collection of the Personal Stories of Survivors of the 1947 Ship Explosions in Texas City, Texas. When I was growing up, most people who had survived the explosion spoke about it very little. When I attended the fiftieth anniversary observation in 1997, I found it gratifying to find that these people became celebrated eyewitnesses who were given a chance to tell their stories to an appreciative audience.

DeAnna B. Jernigan of Alabama: I am surprised you didn't mention "the year with no summer" (1816) which prompted many in New England to leave for the Northwest Territory and other places west. My own Chase ancestors left Maine for Ohio after that disaster.

Grant Hayter-Menzies of Sidney, British Columbia: The only family disaster story that comes to my mind is that of my great-great-grand uncle Peter Walker. Described as a gambler by the more severe members of his Scottish family, he was the first of my Scottish relatives to come to California, to invest in oil wells. He happened to be in San Francisco, sleeping in his hotel room, when the 1906 earthquake struck. He later remembered coming to on the street — the hotel was a shambles — and just began walking, he didn't know where, surrounded by fire and smoke and mayhem. It was then he realized that exactly half his clothes had been torn off. I wish we knew more about his adventures.

Mary Gilchrist of Solon, Iowa: Your survey about ancestral experiences with natural disasters caused me to check most of the boxes. I have actively sought natural disasters and astrophysical phenomena to add color to thumbnail sketches of ancestors. One of my ancestors lived through the infamous hurricane in Galveston in 1900 by having the entire family lean on the door while the water washed through the crack underneath. Another moved to Tennessee from South Carolina in 1833, "the year the meteorites fell," and that knowledge inspired me to learn that the November Leonid meteor showers were spectacular in 1833, 1866, and 1900. Although meteor showers were not disasters, the populace was afraid that the world was coming to an end because it was so light and there were so many flashes and fireballs. And some of my ancestors’ relatives were killed in tornados with some pretty extraordinary stories. I also have speculated about the experiences ancestors must have had living in places and times where I know disasters occurred. These include Iowa County, Iowa, where a huge meteorite struck in the 1870s and southwestern Ohio in 1812, at the time of the New Madrid earthquake. I urge other genealogists to examine locations and dates to find out what disasters their ancestors might have experienced. I speculate that my ancestors had resilience because of their trials and tribulations.

 


The Daily Genealogist: Artifacts Found at Air Force Base May Be Tied to Revolutionary War

(Stories of Interest) Permanent link
 
Betlock Lynn

Lynn Betlock
Editor

“In recent years, archeologists have uncovered several musket balls, a shoe buckle, a knife, and other Colonial-era artifacts on land that is part of the Hanscom Air Force Base property [about twenty-five miles west of Boston] . . . Part of the Hanscom property extends near the site of a battle known as ‘Parker’s Revenge,’ which took place hours after the dawn clash on Lexington Green . . . Around 1:30 p.m. that day, Captain John Parker and his Lexington militia unit ambushed the British as they returned to Boston from Concord.” 

The Daily Genealogist: Bring Out Your Dead: In Recording Who’s Buried Where, History Comes Alive

(Stories of Interest) Permanent link
 
Betlock Lynn

Lynn Betlock
Editor

Over the past twenty years “cemetery reader” Maggie Rail of Spokane, Washington, has transcribed gravestone inscriptions at approximately 500 cemeteries.

The Daily Genealogist: Witness Transcripts from Cocoanut Grove Fire Released

(Stories of Interest) Permanent link
 
Betlock Lynn

Lynn Betlock
Editor

In advance of the seventieth anniversary of the November 28, 1942 fire at Boston’s Cocoanut Grove nightclub which killed 492 people, the Boston Police Department has recently released transcripts of interviews with survivors. The Boston Public Library has digitized transcripts of 148 interviews conducted from November 29 to December 11, 1942. They are available at Archives.org.

The Daily Genealogist: The Great Famine

(Surveys) Permanent link
 
Betlock Lynn

Lynn Betlock
Editor

Last week’s survey asked what natural disasters significantly affected your ancestors’ lives. 2,909 people answered this survey. The results are: 28%, Blizzard 

14%, Drought 
9%, Earthquake 
17%, Fire 
18%, Flood 
21%, Hurricane 
9%, Tornado 
<1%, Tsunami
2%, Volcanic Eruption 
8%, Other 
39%, I am not aware of a natural disaster significantly affecting my ancestors.

This week’s survey asks if your ancestors emigrated from Ireland due to the Great Famine (1845–1852). Take the survey now!


The Daily Genealogist: Keturah

(Name Origins) Permanent link
 
Julie Helen Otto

Julie Helen Otto
Staff Genealogist

KETURAH (f): Hebrew for "incense." A concubine of Abraham (1 Chronicles 1:20) seen in the Parke family. Also seen in certain Stonington, Connecticut, families. A colonial lightning victim at Royalston, Massachusetts (which saw a good many such strikes), was Weston, Mass., native Keturah Babcock (1754–1769), daughter of Jason and Mary (Beaton) Babcock (Royalston VRs, pp. 161).

The Daily Genealogist: Pownal Historical Society, Vermont

(Spotlight) Permanent link
 
Valerie Beaudrault

Valerie Beaudrault
Assistant Editor

Pownal Historical Society, Vermont 

The town of Pownal is located in Bennington County, Vermont. It comprises the villages of Pownal, North Pownal, and Pownal Center. The Pownal Historical Society has made a number of resources available on its website. Links to the resources are located in the contents list on the left side of the homepage.

Maps
Resources in this section include two eighteenth-century and a number of nineteenth-century maps — many with property owners identified. Topographical maps of the town are also available.

Cemeteries
Burial information is included for about twenty Pownal cemeteries, from family lots to larger cemeteries. In some cases, you will see gravestone photographs and in others you will find a list of individuals buried there.

Churches
This section contains resources related to Pownal’s churches, drawn from a variety of sources. A chapter on the development of the town’s churches, extracted from a local history, covers the early period. For the post-1840 period, brief church histories are available.

Military Resources
Here you will find databases containing the names of Pownal’s Green Mountain Boys, Revolutionary War soldiers, and Civil War soldiers.

Census
A transcription of the 1791 federal census for Pownal is available. The transcription has been annotated to include vital statistics and other information known about the head of household. This data was gathered from a number of sources and may include date of birth, place of birth, date of death, place of death and cemetery, age at death, and lot/division where lived.

City Directory
A list of the residents of Pownal was extracted from Child’s Bennington County Directory, 1880–81. The information is organized alphabetically by surname and then alphabetically by street address. A small map is included.

Early Families
The database included here is basically an alphabetical index to Pownal’s early town record books. The types of records indexed here are primarily land records, with some warnings out and surveys. Click on a letter tab at the bottom of the page to open a list of names for that letter. The data fields in the index are family name, husband’s first name, record (type), book number, page number, wife’s name, and notes.

Vital Statistics
Two vital records databases are included. The first is Marriages to 1850, taken from Books 1 and 2 of the Pownal Town Records. Elmer I. Shepard, who extracted these records in 1941, noted that many people from neighboring towns, particularly from Western Massachusetts, were married in Pownal, and for that reason he wanted to make the records more widely available. The records are arranged first by place of residence — Pownal, other Vermont towns, Massachusetts, New York, and other states — and then alphabetically by surname. The second vital records database is Deaths 1921–1980, compiled from the Pownal Town Reports for that period. The data fields include the name of the deceased, age, death date, and parents’ names.

The Pownal Historical Society website also includes a collection of photographs, a transcription of the town’s charter, and a list of town officials, as well as other resources.


The Daily Genealogist: Disasters and Our Ancestors

(A Note from the Editor) Permanent link
 
Betlock Lynn

Lynn Betlock
Editor

This week, in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, it is hard to think of anything other than disasters. Here at NEHGS we closed down early, at 1 p.m., on Monday and remained closed on Tuesday. Various staff members experienced power outages and broken tree limbs at home but the NEHGS building was unaffected. I think we feel fortunate here in the Boston area to have escaped mostly unscathed, and our sympathies and thoughts are with those who were more directly impacted further south.

Over the weekend, as I prepared for Sandy, I thought about what disasters my ancestors might have experienced. My grandparents’ house on the Mississippi River in Little Falls, Minnesota, was flooded in July 1972, but I couldn’t recall any other major natural or man-made disasters affecting my family. Perhaps my family has been fairly lucky — or perhaps I need to do some more research!

I called my mom to get her input. When I mentioned the Flood of 1972, she put her husband, Don Kuchinski, on the line. He remembered it well. Don recalled that it just poured and poured, and over a foot of rain came down. On the local radio station, KLTF, he heard that volunteers were needed to build a sandbag dike along the Mississippi to safeguard a boat works and area homes. Don, being a good citizen and a hard worker, showed up at about 1 p.m., and started sandbagging — in water four to five feet deep! He and another man ended up rescuing a man who stumbled, fell into the water, and started going through a culvert. Don worked on until 2:30 in the morning, when he went home to milk the cows. I hadn’t heard this story before, and I think it provides a good snapshot of Don’s character. Sometimes the right questions just need to be asked in order to elicit the stories.

When I asked my husband if he had any family disaster stories, he had a vague sense that relatives were affected by the 1900 and 1915 floods in Galveston, Texas. While he didn’t have any ancestors living in Galveston, extended family members lived there and in surrounding communities. He knew a bit more about family involvement with an ammonium nitrate explosion in Texas City, Texas, in 1946. His great-aunt, Frances Loock, a dentist, answered the call for trained medical volunteers, and saw some horrific sights during her time in Texas City.

I also recall someone telling me that the Blizzard of 1978 made such an impact on her parents that they decided to move their family from New Hampshire to Florida later that year, thus altering the course of their family’s history.

Disaster stories can explain how an extraordinary event could affect a family and even profoundly alter their lives. Or a disaster story might simply illuminate an incident at one moment in time, and offer insight into the challenges our ancestors faced and how they responded. For the same reasons, our own experiences with disasters are also certainly worth recording for posterity.


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