Thursday, June 30, 2011

Catching Up! My Massachusetts Meandering Binder!

I have learned that after a trip it is vital that I get all my information and research sourced and filed properly.   If I let it slide and come back to it later I wonder what I was trying to do or realize I don't remember!!!

So I am happy to report that my binder for my blog and trip Massachusetts Meanderings is organized with tabs and a wonderful Table of Contents.

It is all in a 4 inch Binder, yup...4 inches and it is full.  What is in it...everything that has to do with my trip to Massachusetts and Connecticut and the blog.  LOVE IT, all in one place.  Of course I have my files and photos on the computer but that is under my Genealogical Trips folder which include the original itinerary, my trip journal and my blog book - a copy of my posts in Word, the photos of the trip in nice files with topics, and of course the research which will need to be moved to the Research surname files and sourced. 

1.  Table of Contents - very detailed because I am forgetting already???
2.  Copy of the Journal of my first trip to Connecticut
3.  Picasa Public Photos - a thumbnail of the tombstones printed out.
4.  Blogger list of my posts - several pages
5.  Streets and Trips maps - I did some editing so these are the important ones
6.  Cemetery forms with the back up pages that I was using to find the graves.
7.  Blog posts printed out in black and white and doublesided.  Lots of pages.
8.  Itinerary for each of the days with edits and my scribbles
9.  Travel documents that I want to keep for awhile - reservations, airline stuff etc.
10.  Maps I picked up - in plastic sleeves and other information I want to keep for awhile.
11.  Emails I had connecting with people that I feel are important - making appointments etc.
12.  Brochures and pamphlets of various repositories and societies as well as travel, also in plastic sleeves.

Everything is sorted in sections in between tabs so that I can find it by that event like when I visited The Brookfields or Lancaster. 

In the past I had a travel file folder, a research files, pictures and everything in many places and it was difficult to remember where things were.  So having it all in one place is really nice.  Most is on the computer so I can at some point in a couple of years dissemble it and reuse the binder for something else. 

Yeah, I know I am nuts or obssessed but I have learned that if I don't document a trip and organize it when I get home, I forget and it is more painful to piece it together later!  Trips are sources. I wish my cousin Paul had been more diligent about documenting his trips to interview the family in Pennsylvania back in the 1930's and 1940's. 

Now I still have some things to do but that can be done over the next months.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Adventures in Carmel, CA - A Cousin's 70th Wedding Anniversary

This blog has emphasized the Goss, Spracklin, Keller and Delano side of my father's ancestry.  No sooner had I returned from D.C. then I was off again to Carmel, California.  I went to visit with and celebrate my dad's McDonald/MacDonald side.

Actually the name of MacDonald can be spelled several ways: McDonald, McDonell, MacDonell, Macdonell or McDonnell, Macdonnell...My father spelled it "MacDonald."  His siblings and father spelled it McDonald. 

My cousin Ruth and her husband John were celebrating their 70th wedding anniversary.  Can you believe it?They are both over 90 years old.  Ruth is a descendant of Duncan McDonell brother to my Mary McDonell mother of Ronald and grandmother of my father Keith.  I refer you to another blog of mine:

The Man Who Lived Airplanes at:  I have not discussed Duncan's family yet, but will be doing so soon in future posts.

I learned of Ruth through my cousin Mary McDonell Louiseau who died a few years back.  She was niece to my grandfather Ronald.  I had the good fortune to visit Mary twice before she passed.  She was 87 when I first met her, tiny in stature, a little bent over but big in personality.  She told me about Ruth:  "I think Ruth is a cousin?" was her comment one day on the phone.  This was a year after I had visited her.  Keep asking questions and letting family know, you never know when they will remember or tell you something about family. 

So I immediately contacted Ruth and we have visited several times since.  They came to my home once years ago and about two years ago my husband and I visited them in Carmel

The other part of this story is their daughter.  She went into the Carmelite Monastery 50 years ago and she was celebrating as well!!  She recently stepped down from being the Reverend Mother.  Ruth and John have two sons in addition.  She is known as Sister Teresita.  I had an opportunity to visit her that same trip.  Under the section Community Life there is a photograph of the sisters and my cousin is the one with the glasses.

So this was a big celebration!  I left on Friday, June 10th and was at the Monterey Airport by 2:30 p.m.  I rented a car and headed out to the monastery to visit with Sister Teresita and scope out the place to see where to set up my video camera and make a movie. Much to my surprise Sister Teresita was out and about preparing for the next days events.  This is a cloistered monastery so having her physically in front of me where I could touch and look her in the eye was a treat.  We made plans for the video.  I was so proud that I remembered how to get there.  It is an amazing place and the gardens are lovely.
Carmelite Monastery, Carmel, California - Mass is held regularly in the chapel to the right!

The Pacific Ocean is right across Hwy 1.
The celebration on Saturday morning was beautiful.  There was beautiful music by a young violinist that Sister Teresita knew and had come from New York and his classes to just be there for her.  The bishop was also there with 11 other priests. The nuns are in the cloistered area to the right of the altar but you can hear their beautiful singing voices.  The Chapel was filled to the brim and it is not small.  There were people up in the balcony.  There were others outside who could not get in for the Chapel was full. 
The service continued with prayers and what is called the Homily followed by the Jubilee Blessing and Renewal of Religious Vows and the Renewal of John and Ruth's marriage vows. 

After the ceremony there would be cake and a buffet.  Now this is a monastery and not really set up for a large number of people but somehow they managed to arrange things so that everyone was served.  Fortunately it did not rain but it was not sunny either and they had tables outside on the lawn.  The food was delicious and everyone seemed to be in good spirits and enjoying themselves. 

The whole weekend was filled with food, fun and sharing.  On Friday, the night before, we all gathered at a Bahama Billy's restaurant to get to know each other.  After the celebration on Saturday about 5 pm family and out of town guests arrived at the Mission off Rio Drive to partake of more food and everyone taking turns to share.  It was a great day.

Sunday, I waited impatiently to visit with Sister Teresita my 3rd cousin and finally 2:30 pm came and I spent a lovely time chatting with her in the first Speak Room at the monastery where she is behind the bars. She reintroduced me to her dogs. You can touch and see her but she is separate.  She was wearing her garland of flowers.  She said that in the olden days back when she joined the order you were even more restricted so things have changed.  Her parents arrived as well as her brother John Jr. with his wife and we chatted till we headed out for dinner. 

On Monday I got another chance to visit with Sister Teresita and her parents when Ruth invited me to come to the monastery that morning.  I had said goodbye to them the day before but I didn't hesitate to go.

It was a beautiful weekend and I was happy I went for I was the only McDonald to be there.  Most of the people attending were Flynn's or friends of the family.  Of course, I listened to every word and as much as I could understand about John's family history.  I did get his mother's name: Hannah. 

My gift to Ruth was a booklet of her family history down from Duncan McDonell with pictures of my family so she could see how we all fit in.  Now her eye sight is not good so I hope she does take time to look a little bit at the booklet.  I am very glad I went to share this time with my cousin Ruth and her family.  She is a tiny person.  I figure she is probably the size of my Aunt Vivian, my father's older sister who was 4 ft. 11 inches.  John is the sweetest man I have ever met.  His face just lighted up when people greeted him.  John and Ruth received a Papal blessing from the Pope as presented to them by the bishop.

Getting back home was a challenge.  San Francisco was socked in with fog and my plane was delayed till 4:41 from the 2:35 time.  I had to re ticket and get a later flight from San Francisco to Seattle.  Good thing I had my Nook Color fully charged and could read to my hearts content. 

I pondered the events of the weekend.  Two people in their 90's still vibrant and as a healthy as possible and still loving each other and together at that advanced age. Wow!

My father didn't know Ruth and John.  He did know Mary who was a daughter of Jack McDonald his uncle.  He was nine years older than Ruth and three years older than Mary.  He would be 101 years old so in reality he would not be alive now but if the heart attack had not taken back in 1970 he could have known them.  John and Ruth married the same year as my parents!  We traveled on vacation to California in the middle 1950's and we could have visited if we had known them.  I wonder what my dad would have thought of all this??

Sunday, June 19, 2011

June 4, 2011: The National Archives - Rotunda and Exhibits

While planning our trip to D.C., I struggled with whether to do research at the National Archives or not.  I  decided that I was content.  However, I had not toured the Rotunda in a long time and that was very cool.  The Nation's Charters of Freedom documents are on display there. 

Here is a Wikipedia short blip about them: 

Since I could not take pictures inside Wikipedia has a nice one showing what the Rotunda looks like, however, the Rotunda is now darkened so it is not quite as bright as their photo implies. 

The Charters of Freedom are:  The Declaration of Independence, The Constitution and the Bill of Rights.  Three of our Nation's most important documents. 

There is so much to do at the National Archives I was surprised.  I don't remember all this from 1999?  I think things have changed a lot and restoration has been done for there was evidence that the Rotunda area was quite different than memory serves.

You stand in the line to the left and enter into the National Archives in what might be the lower floor.  Once through security you can pretty much wander around to different areas and exhibits on your own following the signs. 

The National Archives building on the outside is very ornate as you see from the photos.

To do research you go into the Archives on the North side of the building.  I just remember the security checkpoint but there might be more to see there according to a reliable source?  There are actually two buildings one in D.C. and the other in College Park.  You will have to determine which works for you.  When I went years ago I was so green I didn't know how to use a microfilm reader.  I was so intimidated by it all. I suggest that you prepare by visiting the website and studying the rules and regulations.  Also do a search of the NARA catalog and pin down as much as possible what you want to research like Civil War pensions or Revolutionary war pensions and more.  I know that they have changed things greatly since then and have hours for pulling the documents, so you do need to study up and plan. 

The other option is to hire someone to help you via the APG (Association of Professional Genealogist).  There is a chapter in D.C. called the National Capital Area Chapter of APG.  The cost of a Civil War Pension file has gone up greatly and this is an alternative.  A professional will be working for you and knows what they are doing and will make sure copies of the whole pension or service file are made for you.  Yes, they will charge you but they can get the documents for less, I believe.  My friend and colleague Lisa Petersen knows the D.C. area archives very well.  She is a member of this chapter check out their membership listing by clicking the link. 

My great grandfather George A. Barclay's Civil War pension file was not at NARA!  I waited so patiently for it but they said they didn't have it. AUGGH!!!  It was at the Department of Veteran's Affairs! They, the VA, copied the whole thing and didn't charge me anything.  It was at least 2 inches thick.  Yes, I was very fortunate.  I obtained other documents as well before they raised the rates.

My first stop was the Archives Shop.  Now I did see the movie "National Treasure."  The gift store that is in the Archives did not look a bit like the one in the movie...giggle!  I studied the gift shop carefully and pondered how I wish I could do more reading.  I am amazed at all the books that are written about many topics of history. So little time!

Now they have restrooms near the Archives shop and a Cafe?  I don't remember all that from before? I did not go to the Cafe for I was not hungry.  I headed to the Rotunda and was immediately stopped with the crowd of people waiting to get in. 

The line wandered around with cording to guide you and there were these reading boards and a video being displayed but I had to keep moving so I didn't get to read all of that part.  As you enter you first find a display about the Magna Carta.  They had one of seven copies of this document.  It is being prepared for a new exhibit so it was a temporary one.  There is actually a hereditary organization you can join:  It would take a lot of work to prepare for membership.  I counted 10 generations for a client to just get to crossing the Atlantic Ocean and that didn't include England and those generations. 

As I waited to get into the Rotunda area, I observed the murals on the wall showing our founding fathers looking very much like a Renaissance painting which was a little odd to me????  I tried to count the eagles but could only find six and not the nine they said were in the area. It was very dark and cool in there. 

At a certain point they let in a group of people, lining you up shoulder to shoulder four lines deep by the gates and steps.  I think they wait ten minutes and let you into the Rotunda area as a big group.  I headed for the left which was backed up with a line but you can move about if you want.

They have display boards with glass and they have prepared materials to lead you to the viewing of the main document.  First was the Declaration of Independence and I was amazed that they have copies with corrections on them. 

The sad part was the Declaration of Independence is so faded.  They say it was in light for many years at another location and the ink and parchment do not do well in those conditions.  This time the containment area they had it in did not keep dimming and coming back.  So it seems they have learned to preserve documents of this type in a different manner.  It did make me nervous when the people would lean on the glass but apparently it is okay to do that.  There are guards standing there watching. 

It was difficult to read all that they had prepared and keep the line moving but I noticed that the crowd had diminished.  It was about 5:20 pm and they are open till 7 pm for summer.  Hmmm...maybe it is in the timing?

The next document was the Constitution and the displays led up to how it was created after the Articles of Confederation did not work.  They had George Washington's copy with his corrections.  The last was the Bill of Rights and more explanation about its origins. 

I wish my dad was here to see these documents.  He was the true Patriot in my family!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

June 4, 2011: Spracklins - Meeting a Half-Cousin

The Spracklin family married into the Goss family. Spracklins are from Somerset in England.  John Andrews Spracklin immigrated in 1817 with the Wine and Anne Rood family (his aunt) and settled in Washington Co., Ohio.  There John A. Spracklin met and married Lydia Goss, daughter of Solomon and Olive Scott Goss. John and Lydia had a son named Daniel D. Spracklin and he married Elizabeth Keller in Morrow Co., Ohio.  They had four children: Henry, Oliver, Mary and Amarilla.  Only Amarilla and Henry survived to adulthood.

Elizabeth Keller Spracklin, my great great grandmother, died in 1859 several months after the birth of Amarilla Spracklin (later Barclay) my great grandmother.  Daniel remarried to Sarah Blacketer Allgood in 1863 in Iowa where he had migrated to from Knox County, Ohio.  He and Sarah had 7 more children:  Lydia, Virda, Reed, Daniel, Peter George, Charles Edward, Alfred Marion.  Alfred died young.

On Saturday June 4, 2011 while still in the D.C. area I met with a descendant of Peter George Spracklin.  She is a perfect Half 3rd cousin.  Peter George is a 1/2 brother to my Amarilla.  I now know three cousins from this side of the family. 

So about 10 am on Saturday, I got into a taxi at the Gaylord National Hotel south of D.C. and headed into D.C.  We were scheduled to meet at 11 am. 

Well...everything went really well and I was looking forward to being dropped at the American History Museum on Constitution Avenue but....Guess what?  The National Mall was overwhelmed in PINK!!!

It was the RUN FOR THE CURE and streets were blocked off.  My taxi driver let me out at L'Enfant Metro and I had to walk.  Fortunately, it was not too hot or muggy...yet!

It was fun to walk along and observe ladies and men in different combinations of T-shirts in white with pink, pink with white and more.  Some had numbers on them.  Here I was in total black!!!  Hmmm...??? It was truly showing the power of women.  I was humbled.  My mother died of colon cancer that had decided to take over her liver back in 1984. She was 74 years old and had a good life but still! I now how terrible this disease can be. 

There were huge billboards with the map showing the route and water stations.  This photograph shows the participants heading for the finish line.

I walked quickly heading for the American History Museum entering into the cool foyer a pleasant place to wait for my cousin to arrive.  Would I recognize her?  Well, she beat me to it and saw me at once!

We sat on the soft bench and immediately started chatting about the family.  I showed her the family history reports that I had brought for her to study.  She is interested in genealogy but has not taken the plunge. It was too confusing for her and I understand that.  Having a database is vital because each generation explodes the family tree to even more great grandparents to try to learn about.  I use Legacy's deluxe version. It is free for the standard version:

I gave her a descendants chart of our common ancestor Daniel D. Spracklin and a family group report of her great great grandfather Peter George.  We happily chatted away about genealogy. 

She had decided that it would be fun to go to Chinatown and I was willing.  So we figured out how to get a taxi on 7th and headed to the Ming Restaurant. It was very nice restaurant and we took a table by the window. 

I told her about my life and family first.  A lot of girl talk!  She told me about her family and of course I wrote it down.  Lunch was fun!  I am always blow away by the stories of another's life and the similarities of experience but yet the different choices.  My cousin was being born when I was a silly teenager having Hawaiian luau parties in the 1960's. 

After lunch we wandered past the Chinatown arch and found a Starbucks on the corner.  Just like home! We decided to get some coffees and I staked out some stools.  We spent the time lingering and talking some more about life and experiences.  We did some people watching as well for it was a busy street corner and a busy Starbucks. 

Now you are probably wondering if I had a list of questions to ask her and had prepared oral interview.  I had some ideas but I decided I wanted to just let the conversation flow. I think I made the correct decision.  Now I am not a big talker so these kinds of conversations are a bit challenging for me and take concentration.  Apparently my cousin was trying to absorb as well so it was good that the conversation just flowed for our first time together. 

It was about 4 pm and I had an idea that I could visit, at the very least, the Rotunda of the National Archives and view the Charters of Freedom before heading back to Gaylord National Hotel south of D.C. So we walked along 7th Avenue noticing the shops and architecture.  We parted at the line waiting to get into the National Archives with several hugs.

I told my cousin about a curious thing that happens when you get involved with the genealogy of your family.  It is the fact that you build new friendships when you reach out to your cousins. You rekindle relationships that are lost. I had not seen a McDonald cousin in 25 years but reconnecting with her has been priceless.  I had the good fortune to visit my 87 year old cousin and get to know her before she past.  You grieve with them when the loose someone dear to them.  You rejoice when you surprise a cousin who doesn't know you yet by acknowledging their contribution and they didn't even know they had touched your life. HA!

It was a lovely day.  I have the best cousins!!!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Wordless Wednesday, June 1, 2011 - Washington DC Sites

Airplane over the Potomac

American History Museum

Julia Child's Kitchen at the history museum

Nation's Capitol from the Clock Tower

A little closer

Gaylord National Harbor Interior