Treasure Chest Thursday: Thank You, eBay

Dear Reader: Do you think you are related to the individuals listed in this post? Please drop me a note! I love hearing from cousins and others researching my family!

Earlier this year, I created an alert for my last name on eBay. I get daily updates on new items for sale that are related to the surname Corley. There’s a ton of 80s TV show memorabilia related to Al Corley, who starred on “Dynasty” (relationship unknown as of now).

There also are several authors with the last name Corley. This daily alert has netted me two books written by my kinsman in the past year. Over the summer, I scored another copy of A Genealogy of Corleys, which I gifted to my half-brother. Just a couple of weeks ago, another book by a relative went up for auction. It was a Spanish-language novel edited by my great-uncle Ames Haven Corley for use in the classroom.

I was the only person to bid on the book and therefore won the auction. For less than $5 ($.99 bid + shipping), I now am the proud owner of the 1922 Macmillan Spanish Series edition of Amalia. It’s in great shape. Too bad I can’t read Spanish!

Ames Haven Corley

I don’t know a ton about my great-uncle Ames, but I do know that he taught languages at Williams College (where my father eventually went to school) and at Yale University, for whom this book was printed. As the title page above states, he was an assistant professor at the time this book was published.

It is neat to read the preface, written in 1917 by my great uncle, who signed his name A.H.C.

There are exercises at the back of the book, which were devised by my great-uncle as well.

I highly recommend setting up a similar search on eBay — you never know what it may turn up about your ancestors. After the luck I’ve had so far, I intend to set up more alerts for other surnames in my family tree.

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Military Monday: Billy Hayes

I recently discovered that I have another relative buried at Arlington National Cemetery. My great-uncle Billy G. Hayes was interred there in 2002. He served in the Army. I’m still trying to flesh out the details of his service. A note on his FindaGrave record reads “CSM US ARMY; WORLD WAR II; KOREA; VIETNAM.” CSM apparently stands for Command Sergeant Major. On my next trip to Arlington, I plan to seek out his grave. My father and my maternal grandparents are all buried at Arlington as well.

In 2009, Billy’s brother, my great-uncle Ben Hayes, mentioned to me that he had purchased a brick in Billy’s honor for a war memorial in Elizabethton, Tennessee, where they grew up. Ben drove my sister and I by the memorial at the time, though we didn’t get a chance to see the brick itself.

RIP “Uncle Ben” HAYES

Yesterday I received a call from my Great-Aunt Ruth, who had sad news — her brother, my Great-Uncle Ben, had passed away earlier in the week. He was 77. The news was, quite frankly, startling. My sister and I just visited Ben over the winter holidays and he drove us all over Carter County, Tenn. He took us to the house where he and his siblings were raised, to the grave site of his parents and then took us out for barbecue. He gave my sister car advice.

But he did confess to us that he had triple bypass surgery in the fall (and hadn’t told anyone in the family). Of course, we immediately tattled on him to our aunts, who in turn told Ruth. Turns out, that bypass was in preparation for an even trickier surgery a week ago to operate on an aneurysm on his aorta (and again, he hadn’t warned anyone in the family). The surgery was not successful.

Ben’s wishes were that during his funeral he didn’t want “anyone standing around my grave crying.” So his good friend called my great-aunt on Tuesday, after Ben passed away. But she couldn’t call anyone else in the family until yesterday, after the funeral. I was the first person she reached yesterday and it fell to me to try and contact my sister and aunts with the news. I found his obituary online and shared that too.

I learned a lot from the obituary. His nickname was “Blink.” He was a basketball referee and served on the board of his church. I already knew he was a classic car fan, but that was about it.

The number of times I got to see Uncle Ben could be counted on one hand. I remember visiting with him at my Great-Grandma’s house and he ordered me to finish my green beans (I was five years old and I hated green beans). This prompted me to run away though I was gone for so short a time, I wasn’t even missed. During another visit with him at my grandma’s, I remember noting that his socks didn’t match. He didn’t care. He was a bachelor to the end.

I didn’t know Ben very well, but my sister and I thoroughly enjoyed our visit with him. We were the last members of the family to see him and as I spoke with my relatives yesterday, they all remarked on the timing of our visit. My sister and I count ourselves lucky for the chance to see him and learn from him before he passed away. While we were at the graves of my great-grandparents, I noticed there was a marker there for Ben already. It comforts me that I now know exactly where to go to visit him. Thank you and rest in peace, Uncle Ben.