Fate and Brandied Peaches

Many family memories came flooding back as I canned peaches today.

Freezer Full

Yesterday, I bought a huge box of Blades Orchard peach seconds for $18 from at the farmer’s market, with the intention of making brandied peaches last night. But I ended up working all day and ran out of steam that evening while I unpacked jars, the pressure canner and other equipment I’d need for the project. I decided to wait until today.

It wasn’t until this morning that I realized what day it was. My Aunt Teri’s birthday. She was the inspiration for making the brandied peaches in the first place — she was famous for them. They were coveted gifts and a beloved side at family holiday meals. After eating the peaches, we often used the leftover juice in the jars for making bellinis. But the world has been without Teri’s brandied peaches since she died two years ago. I still miss her (and her brandied peaches) terribly.

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SNGF: Summertime Fun

It’s been a while since I participated in Saturday Night Genealogy Fun (or blogged at all, for that matter). I happened upon this week’s SNGF assignment from Randy Seaver and was inspired to write a post though!

1) It’s the first day of Summer 2014, so let’s talk about what we did as children (not teenagers or young adults) on our summer vacations from school.  

2)  Write about your life as a child in the summertime (say, any age between 5 and 12).  Where did you live, what did you do, how did it influence the rest of your life?

I have such fond memories of the first house my family lived in, which was in the Woodmoor neighborhood (aka Four Corners) in Silver Spring, Md. Summer days were spent almost entirely outside there.

I remember having to go to bed before it was dark when I was really little, but not before watching Family Feud with my parents in the den. My mom would often let me have an After Eight or Andes mint as a special treat while we watched TV. I loved sleeping with the window open in my room, listening to the crickets and watching for lightning bugs.

My backyard had the swing set, making it the destination for all kids on my block. My friend Lauren lived across the street and we’d often be found hanging out on the swings, coloring on the back patio or sneaking pieces of bubblegum behind my mom’s car in the driveway.

Around the time I was 7 or 8, my summer morning chore was to scoop Miracle-Gro into a big watering can and water the roses along the fence in the front yard. My sister and I had to accompany Mom on trips to the grocery store during the summer. The most exciting grocery store trip was in prep for our annual trip to the beach — we’d get to pick out those mini boxes of sugared cereal (the only time of the year we were allowed to eat it), sodas (ditto) and other snacks.

We’d usually be back from the store in time for lunch — PB&Js with chocolate milk. I remember watching lots of the TV show Reading Rainbow, which then inspired trips to the library. I was a voracious reader from an early age.

When I was a bit older, my mom trusted me to walk around the corner with Lauren and an older neighbor, Joelle. We’d follow a creek that cut through the neighborhood to a larger stream (all a part of the Rock Creek network of waterways). We’d search for crawfish and minnows, climb rocks, avoid snakes and find cool in the shade of the trees along the water.

I’d also walk up to Woodmoor Shopping Center armed with a couple dollars and our family’s video rental card to pick up a movie or two for my sister and I to watch, along with some candy from the drug store. I always made sure to window shop at the Woodmoor Pastry Shop (they still have the best cookies and cupcakes).

On summer nights, Joelle’s family often hosted the neighbors for bbqs in their backyard. I remember my first toasted marshmallow, burnt to a crisp over their grill. Then we’d gather in my family room to watch scary movies (Jaws and Gremlins come to mind).

My grandma, aunts and cousins would come over for bbqs in our yard too (and we’d visit them). I grew up on charcoal-grilled chicken, burgers and dogs all summer long. I still prefer that smell and flavor when grilling. On really special occasions, my mom would make creme de menthe brownies for dessert.


For Mother’s Day, Favorite Photos of Grandma Grace

Mother’s Day is tomorrow and I thought I would post some unpublished photos of my Grandma Grace, which I count among my favorites of her.

The earliest photo of my Grandma Grace that I am aware of. This would have been taken on the family farm in Elizabethton, Tennessee.

The earliest photo of my Grandma Grace that I am aware of. This would have been taken on the family farm in Elizabethton, Tennessee.

Grandma Grace in the kitchen.

I love this photo of Grandma Grace. I wish I knew where this was taken.

Grandma Grace with my mom as an infant

Grandma Grace with my mom as an infant

She was so pretty.

She was so pretty.

Another Ancestor, Another Newly Discovered Birthplace

Ancestry.com sent me an email with new hints for ancestors among the Texas death certificates. Amid this information, I learned the supposed birthplace of my 2G-grandfather, Anson G. Bennett — Warsaw, Mo. I say “supposed,” because Anson obviously wasn’t there to verify the information. I haven’t done a lot of research on my Bennett line — this gives me a new lead to work from.

Might a New Clue = A Chink in a Brick Wall?

I had a breakthrough on one of my lines over the weekend. I found a passport application for my paternal great-grandmother Ida Champ Ferris, which listed her birthplace as Brownsville, Penn. (Her name was mis-indexed, which is why I’d never come across it before.) I had always thought that she was from the Philly area because that’s where she went to college, but turns out that she was born closer to Pittsburgh. I don’t know much more about her parents except that they came from England shortly before she was born. Hopefully this new information will lead to more clues about them!

Ghostly Encounters: Have you met the McNamees?

I just missed Tombstone Tuesday with this…

Terrapin Tales

Are you following our spooky posts about campus ghosts?  Creeped out yet by the spectral spirits of Morrill Hall and Marie Mount Hall?  Keep reading – the best is yet to come!

This week finds us at the McNamee Cemetery behind the Stadium Drive Garage.  Not many people know about this spot, which looks pretty innocuous to the innocent passerby. While there is no record or rumor of paranormal encounters occurring here, who knows what the McNamee family gets up to when there’s no one around?

We took a hike over to McNamee Cemetery earlier this year. It was so peaceful and sunny. This place couldn’t possibly be haunted, right?

The cemetery contains the remains of several members of the McNamee family, who sold this part of campus to the university in 1938.  We are pretty sure we know at least two of the people buried there.  One of the deceased was a child named Albert McNamee.  He was the son of Charles and Elizabeth McNamee. Albert was born in 1904 and unfortunately…

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Genealogy Research Tools News to Me

Recently, I attended WebSearch University in Washington, D.C. The conference is geared toward research professionals of all ilks. I attended pre-conference workshops on public records and finding business information in the “deep web” (those sites that aren’t indexed/searchable by services like Google). I learned about how to search without leaving a trace. There were sessions on Big Data, MOOCs, multimedia searches and other online resources. I was attending on behalf of the engineering company that I work for full-time, but a list of tools that I could put to use as a genealogist came to light as well. Here’s just some of what I learned:

Death Indexes Online — divided by state; online searchable death indexes and records. (Interesting side note: I found out about this resource in a session taught by a Department of Justice researcher who LOVES to use FindaGrave to search for next of kin in cases where there are assets to disperse.)

Western States — have an ancestor who lived in The West? This BYU-established resource may have marriage information for them.

GenWed — marriage records arranged by states

VitalRec.com — comprehensive database providing access to birth, marriage and death records.

Geonames.usgs.gov — this place name repository provided by the USGS can help you identify the county in which a place your ancestor lived in or frequented is located

NETROnline — find what public records are available online for a particular location

Public Records Search Directory — another resource divvied up by state and topic

Google tip — search for your ancestor by searching for “lastname firstname” AND “firstname lastname” to make sure you are finding all records (a good tip for other databases too)

Another Google note: I learned that Google disabled the use of the tilda (~) for searching back in June when it did away with almost 70 different services. At an earlier genealogy conference, I had learned to add ‘~genealogy’ to search terms on Google to help narrow results to only those that would be relevant to genealogy. According to Google, their built-in synonymizer should provide the same function, but you lose control over the search by turning it over to them. Just a word of caution.

Black Book Online — a site geared towards private investigators that may also prove useful to forensic genealogists and others trying to find living relatives

EInvestigator — another site that serves PIs; check out their link for genealogy resources