Friday, September 16, 2011

What I've Been Doing For 15 Minutes Every Day!

And no smart aleck comments from the peanut gallery, please!  I've been WRITING for 15 minutes each day ~ and here's why:

At FGS 2011 I was inspired by a talk give by Lisa Alzo called Write Your Family History Step by Step. One of the things she addressed was our excuses for not writing. One of those excuses - the one I use - is "I don't have time." As she's talking I'm sitting there thinking, "But I really don't. I work, I go to school, I get home late because of a project I'm working on..." and then she said, "Even if it's just 15 minutes every night, write something."

OK, so how could I say that I didn't have 15 minutes in a day? Heck I spend that much time checking Facebook and tweeting or even watching TV. So, I decided to put a separate page on my blog to start putting in my 15 minutes a day. It's not ideal because I have to update the page each day, but I do like having it out there in the open so to speak.  It keeps me more accountable!

Emma Zaugg age 16
Lisa encouraged us to have a focus - be it a person, a branch of the family, a geographic area etc. On the drive home from FGS I decided that my focus would be Emma ZAUGG, my great-great grandmother.

After just six days, here's what I've learned.

I realize what I don't know and what I want to know.  Oh I've always heard that writing helped to show the holes in your research, but then I didn't exactly think I had holes for this particular ancestor.  I don't when it comes to the events in her life.  I know and have documentation to show when she was born, married, when her children were born and when she died.  I have visited the cemetery where she is buried many times.  She lived her whole life in the same rural county in Ohio and I really didn't think there was much I needed to learn about Emma.

Boy, was I wrong!  Trying to write her life as a story shows me how much background material I need to explore. While she didn't leave a diary, there would be many histories of the area and time that I could read.  I've also pulled off my shelves, "The Expansion of Everyday Life: 1860 - 1876" and "Victorian America: Transformation in Everyday Life, 1876 - 1915" two books that I've had forever but not yet read.  (and by forever I mean almost 20 years - I KNEW I'd need them at some point)

The Graber Farm
And I do have research holes as well.  I don't have any information pertaining to their land - and I know there would be some.  The farm where they eventually lived is still standing and I have this old picture from their daughter's photo album as well as a picture which I took a number of years ago.  One of my questions is why and how this ended up with their oldest daughter and her husband (my great-grandparents) and not with one of their sons. 

 I also have a newspaper article written in 1980 featuring Emma's son Raymond Graber with a story about how his father Rudy had been the first cheese maker in the area.  It briefly mentions Emma as well.  There is a lot from that article that I could explore to add to Emma's story.

One of the totally unexpected benefits of this exercise has been that it takes my mind off my work problems.  That's certainly a good thing right before I turn in at the night! Now, instead of tossing and turning as I think about my current project, I find myself thinking about Emma Zaugg Graber and what her life was like.  With 8 children, a husband and a farm to care for, I'm sure she could have told me a thing or two about being busy!!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Day 0 at FGS2011

I know there are many people posting about the events and I will certainly be tweeting as the days go by.  Not sure how much blogging will happen, but thought I'd put in a quick word or two today.

I called this "Day 0" because I just drove up after work today.  I didn't attend any of the Wednesday classes but I did arrive in time for the Prairie Social which was presented by the Illinois State Genealogical Society and sponsored by

The first group of people I saw included Caroline Pointer, Amy Coffin, Lisa Alzo, and Kathryn Doyle.  It was good to see some familiar faces - as I meet more and more of my "virtual friends" it makes attending genealogy events sort of like a family reunion.  The difference is at this family reunion people WANT to talk about genealogy and don't try to politely excuse themselves the moment they see an opening! 

At the Social I also got to meet in person a few more of my blogger/Facebook friends.  Susan ClarkJennifer Holik  and I thought we were going to go over to watch Genealogy Jeopardy.  As the announcers started explaining the rules it turned out that we were on one of the teams.  We were joined, moments before the game started by Linda McCauley - who didn't realize she had just joined our team!!  The good news is - we won.  We received beautiful picture frames for our astounding wealth of genealogical knowledge...we won't mention that we weren't the only people on the team and the people sitting in the row behind us were the ones who really pulled our team ahead to victory. :-)

After the Jeopardy game I met Tina Lyons and her husband.  She is just as much fun in person as I would expect from reading her blog.  That's one things I've found as I get to met my blogger friends in person - I feel as if I already know them.  Reading what they share in their blogs really gives a good sense of who they are.  I'm never disappointed!!

I also got to chat briefly with Audrey Collins who is here from the UK.  I think she wins the prize for coming the farthest.  I was fun to hear about the various places she's been recently - and it also made me start thinking again about trying to figure out how to go to RootsTech in 2012!

Tomorrow I am all set to learn some cool stuff and hear some great speakers.  I have my three-day agenda all outlined in a color-coded spreadsheet that shows just the sessions I have decided to attned.  (Hey, I work in accounting, EVERYTHING is a spreadsheet to me!)  I have all the handouts for those sessions printed out and in my folder.  
Also, just in case something doesn't work out or I have a change of heart, I have the WHOLE schedule printed out with all the sessions that looked interesting highlighted in various colors and then those hand outs available as well.  It pays to be flexible.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

RIP ~ David Lee Ritchie July 30, 1933 ~ August 31, 2011

September 2, 2011 FREDERICKSBURG -- David L. Ritchie, 78, of Fredericksburg, passed away Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2011, at West View Manor Nursing Center in Wooster. 

He was the son of David W. and Lela (Saurer) Ritchie and was born in Apple Creek on July 30, 1933. He graduated from Apple Creek High School, class of 1951. He received his bachelor's degree from Miami University in 1955. He served two years in the U.S. Army while stationed in Germany, and then received his master's degree from Miami University in 1962. 

Dave started his career in teaching at Sterling school in 1955, then resumed it when he returned from the service. He taught at Norwayne School District and was head basketball coach and assistant baseball coach for six years. His next teaching job took him to Chardon schools and was head basketball and head cross country coach as well as math teacher and assistant baseball coach. He then went to Streetsboro schools and in 1971 married Vicki (Sutherland). She survives.

This is part of the obituary for my Uncle Dave ~ the full version can be found here.

Reading it made me realize another reason for collecting family stories - for any person there is so much more than just these final few paragraphs. Here are just a few of the things I remember about my Uncle Dave.

He was born on a farm near Apple Creek, Ohio.  The farm was the home of his mother, Lela Saurer's family.  For many years Uncle Dave had a painted picture of that farm that had been handed down to him by one of this Mother's aunts.  That picture now hangs in my bedroom and is one of my genealogy treasures. 

When I was very young I used to tell people I was named after my Uncle Dave.  That always brought some amused looked! I thought it was so incredible that we had the same initials - DLR.  I'm not sure why I equated that with being named after him, but somehow that made sense to me as a child.
The obligatory horse picture taken in Cleveland.

Although Uncle Dave was born out on the farm the family spent his early years in the city of Cleveland.  For many years I thought this picture of Uncle Dave on a horse must have been taken out on the farm.  I have a similar picture of my Dad and in talking to him about it one day he told me he doesn't remember exactly but it was NOT on the farm.  His grandparents didn't have ponies!  This picture was taken in the city somewhere.  

My Uncle Dave, the older of the two brothers.
My dad was the younger brother, but he was the first to marry and have children.  I remember my Uncle Dave living with his parents at least for part of the time I was little.  One memory especially stands out.  It was probably late morning and my sister and I had been asking about Uncle Dave.  Apparently he was still upstairs asleep and the adults all told us to go waken him.  So we crept up stairs and silently made our way across the big open room upstairs until we stood by Uncle Dave's bed.  There was a reading light over the bed - it pulled down from above and to this day I can't remember if we actually pulled it down or if it had been left that way, but we both yelled, "UNCLE DAVE WAKE UP" as loud as we could.  Of course he sat up and hit his head on that light while we ran for the safety of Grandma and Grandpa!!

The farm didn't have ponies, but it had dogs!
That is a particularly funny story because eons later, when he had two very small children and they were being, well children, he made a comment about how well-behaved Jackie's girls always were.  My mom just laughed at that and told him he obviously didn't remember very well.  I don't think she brought up the light incident, but that was hardly the only thing we ever did to torment Uncle Dave.

In spite of that little incident, one thing I remember was when Uncle Dave bought us cowboy boots.  I'm not talking about some pretend dress-up things - these were real, honest to goodness boots and something our parents had told us they would not buy.  Of course they wouldn't because we would grow out of them so soon but Uncle Dave bought them!!  I used to wear them to roller skate because I had the old metal skates with a key.  I could tighten the skates and then still slip my feet out later.  

 We could always count on Uncle Dave to indulge us.

I know that to many people 78 doesn't seem young.  People will always says, "He lived a long and full life" but for those we love there is no number of years that ever seems long enough.