Saturday, August 5, 2006

FHC Research Trip today

I went with about 15 other CVGS members to the Family History Center today on a "research trip." We try to do this every two months to a local repository so that our members (especially those that can't or won't drive on the freeways) have the opportunity to see what each place has to offer. We carpool from Chula Vista, leaving at 9:30 AM so as to get there at the opening bell at 10 AM.

To prepare for this trip (it's only about 12 miles from "home"), we had an FHC volunteer give us a visual tour of this FHC via PowerPoint at our society meeting on Monday morning. The presentation informed the group of what resources are available, where to find the resources at the FHC, and how to use the resources and the equipment.

Most of the group attending had been there before and were able to find books, films and web sites to browse and use. I heard a few shouts of joy and at least one happy dance while we were there from our group.

By coincidence, we picked the day when the local German Research Association meeting was held at the FHC, and several of our members attended the meeting and were helped one-on-one after the meeting by the German research experts.

I spent the day helping a new society member get started with her research. She had some family data neatly arranged on sheets of paper in narrative form, and I guided her in putting the data she had on pedigree charts. She got the hang of numbering the pedigree chart entries in ahnentafel fashion pretty quickly. She had quite a few names, but few dates and places in the available material. The challenge for the day was to fill in some of the blanks.

We moved to the computer, and accessed to introduce her to the Ancestral File and IGI. Then we accessed (free access at the FHC) and worked a bit in the vital record databases and the census. In the vital record databases, we put one of her family names in and quickly obtained death dates and places for her parents and one set of grandparents. That led to finding Social Security numbers for her parents in the SSDI.

In the census, we started with her grandparents in 1930, then 1920 and 1910, finding ages and places, but also finding a mother-in-law. The 1900 census provided the family of the great-grandparents, and she found them in 1880 and 1870 also. So she now has decent census data for three generations of one family line. We stopped at that point because it was time to go home, but she was happy to be successful and to fill in some of the blank dates and places on her pedigree chart.

When I help people like this, I try to do two things - coach them in accessing the records, providing hints and ideas of what to look for on the records that are found, and advising what to do next. My student today has good Internet skills and an inquisitive mind, so we were able to make a lot of progress.

I told her that just 5 years ago it would have taken us several weeks or a month to do everything we did today in four hours. The FHC has all of the census films, but we would have had to use Soundex for the 1880, 1900 and 1920 census records. For each surname in each state, we would have had to:

* define the soundex code,
* order the soundex film by state,
* wait three weeks for it to come,
* install the soundex film on the reader,
* review and search the soundex film,
* write down the roll and page number of the appropriate census film,
* find the right census film in the census film index book,
* get the right census film from the drawer,
* install the census film on the reader,
* scroll to the correct page on the census,
* write down the family information found on the page,
* if we want a copy, remove the film from the reader and take it to a reader-printer, center it, put a quarter in the machine, and hope the copy is readable.

Rinse and repeat for each surname in each state.

Isn't it amazing that we can do all of that using the Ancestry or HeritageQuestOnline census indexes and images for one family in less than ten minutes (assuming the indexed names are correct)?

Online resources have made our research faster in many cases.

It was a FUN day at the FHC. I missed the turnoff coming back again because we were talking about the day in the car. No problem, it gave us a few extra minutes to talk some more.

Friday, August 4, 2006

The Price of Children

I got this from one of my email friends today - I haven't seen it before, and who knows if it is true, but it's a nice way to start the weekend:

The Price of Children:

The government recently calculated the cost of raising a child from birth to 18 and came up with $160,140 for a middle income family. Talk about sticker shock! That doesn't even touch college tuition.

But $160,140 isn't so bad if you break it down. It translates into:

* $8,896.66 a year,
* $741.38 a month, or
* $171.08 a week.
* That's a mere $24.24 a day!
* Just over a dollar an hour.

Still, you might think the best financial advice is don't have children if you want to be "rich" Actually, it is just the opposite. What do you get for your $160,140?

* Naming rights. First, middle, and last!
* Glimpses of God every day.
* Giggles under the covers every night.
* More love than your heart can hold.
* Butterfly kisses and Velcro hugs.
* Endless wonder over rocks, ants, clouds, and warm cookies.
* A hand to hold, usually covered with jelly or chocolate.
* A partner for blowing bubbles, flying kites
* Someone to laugh yourself silly with, no matter what the boss said or how your stocks performed that day.

For $160,140, you never have to grow up. You get to:

* finger-paint,
* carve pumpkins,
* play hide-and-seek,
* catch lightning bugs, and
* never stop believing in Santa Claus.

You have an excuse to:

* keep reading the Adventures of Piglet and Pooh,
* watching Saturday morning cartoons,
* going to Disney movies, and
* wishing on stars.
* You get to frame rainbows, hearts, and flowers under refrigerator magnets and collect spray painted noodle wreaths for Christmas, hand prints set in clay or Mother's Day, and cards with backward letters for Father's Day.

For $160,140, there is no greater bang for your buck. You get to be a hero just for:

* retrieving a Frisbee off the garage roof,
* taking the training wheels off a bike,
* removing a splinter,
* filling a wading pool,
* coaxing a wad of gum out of bangs, and
* coaching a baseball team that never wins but always gets treated to ice cream regardless.

You get a front row seat to history to witness the:

* first step,
* first word,
* first bra,
* first date, and
* first time behind the wheel.

You get an education in psychology, nursing, criminal justice, communications, and human sexuality that no college can match.

You get to be immortal. You get another branch added to your family tree, and if you're lucky, a long list of limbs in your obituary called grandchildren and great grandchildren.

In the eyes of a child, you rank right up there under God. You have all the power to heal a boo-boo, scare away the monsters under the bed, patch a broken heart, police a slumber party, ground them forever, and love them without limits, So ... one day they will be like you, so love them without counting the cost.

That is quite a deal for the price!

Love and enjoy your children and grandchildren. Amen.

Obtaining my dad's WWII service record

Since my father was in the US Navy during World War II, I wanted to see what records I could obtain concerning his service. All I know is that he served on the US Navy destroyer USS Halford in the western Pacific and Alaska during late 1944 and all of 1945.

The National Archives has a system for veterans or their next of kin to order their service information at  The site indicates that:

Use our system to create a customized order form to request information from your, or your relative's, military personnel records. You may use this system if you are:

A military veteran, or Next of kin of a deceased, former member of the military The next of kin can be any of the following: surviving spouse that has not remarried, father, mother, son, daughter, sister, or brother.

The directions for ordering the records if you qualify to request them is:

How to Initiate a Request for Military Personnel Records:
Click on the "Request Military Records" button below to start. This will launch a separate window.

Enter the required information in the system to create your customized request form. There are 4 steps that you need to navigate. The system will guide you through the steps and tell you exactly which step you are on.

Print, sign and date the signature verification area of your customized form. If you don't have a printer, have a pen and paper handy and we will guide you through the process. This is important because the Privacy Act of 1974 (5 U.S.C. 552a) requires that all requests for records and information be submitted in writing. Each request must be signed and dated by the veteran or next of kin.

Mail or fax your signature verification form to us, and we will process your request. You must do this within the first 20 days of entering your request, or your request will be removed from our system.

I did all that, printed out my signature verification form, addressed an envelope and sent it off today. Pretty neat - the cost is basically one stamp.

If you are not the veteran or next-of-kin, you can still obtain information about a service member by filling out Standard Form SF 180. More information about this is here.

I'm surprised that the system doesn't allow grandchildren to obtain these records. It makes it critical that children of veterans obtain these records before the children die. If your ancestor served in this war, and you haven't ordered these records yet, go for it!

World War II military records

The best collection of links to US Military Indexes and Records is at Joe Beine's site, This site has links for each US war period, and includes government, subscription or other free data sources.

I was interested in finding Seaver folks in the World War II records. Although my father served in the US Navy, I collect Seaver data when I find it and then add it to my database.

I had checked the World War II Army Enlistment Records, 1938-1946, at the FHC last week on, and had copied the index list of all Seaver entries in the database (136 people), and also copied one of the transcriptions for a George F. Seaver.

The index list on gives the name, birth year, nativity, residence state, enlistment date, enlistment state. The transcribed individual record on provides all of those, plus the race, branch of service, grade, term of enlistment, component, source, education, civil occupation, marital status, height and weight.

Today, I found George F. Seaver in the NARA Access to Archival Databases site. The data provided is similar to the Ancestry data, plus it gives the individual's service number, but it doesn't provide the height or weight. I can obtain this information from the AAD essentially for free - I can download the record to my hard drive or print the record for each person.

There are over 9 million entries in the Army Enlistment Records. There are also over 143,000 WWII Army Prisoner of War records at the NARA AAD site.

Havbe you found all of your family members who served in World War I or II?

Ancestries of famous people

William Addams Reitweisner has an interesting collection of ancestries of famous people, in addition to his own ancestry, on his web site at

There are links for European royalty, US political figures, and other people, mainly celebrities. For each person researched, there is an ahnentafel, followed by US census records. Some ahnentafel entries have notes and sources.

In addition to all the US Presidents that I am related to (I blogged about it some time ago), I found that I am also distantly related to Dick Cheney, Mitt Romney, Bill Gates, John Kerry, Bill Richardson and Howard Dean. I'm not related to Hillary Clinton, Mark Warner, Arnold Schwarzenegger, or Britney Spears, among others.

Mr. Reitweisner has had some help in compiling these, and has put in a lot of good work. If you enjoy finding famous distant cousins, this is a good site to review.

One thought that struck me as I reviewed these ancestries was that many of these folks were successful just two or three generations after immigration from the home country.

Do you think Mitt Romney or Bill Richardson will ask their 10th cousin for political advice or wisdom - probably not, but maybe a donation. Ah, I could ask for an ambassadorship!

I think I'll ask my dear cousin Bill (Gates) if he wants to share some of his largesse with his 10th cousin...

Thursday, August 3, 2006

The Perth Dead Person's Society

While Googling certain phrases, I came upon the Perth Dead Person's society web site (don't ask me what I Googled...). They are a genealogy society...

Clicking on the buttons in the left frame gives you info on the society, the members, etc.

Clicking on the "Humour" button revealed about 20 pages of jokes, sayings, etc. Some of them were genealogy humour items. My favorite one is:

The Young Genealogist

Have you heard about the keen young genealogist? He spent his weekends tramping through graveyards, and visiting archive offices, and spent his weekdays working in an office building.

One day a new young woman started work in his office, and he was smitten by her. He started talking to her at every available opportunity, and finally convinced her to go a restaurant with him after work. They spent a nice evening eating and drinking, and ended up back at her place.

Well, the next thing you know it's midnight and he jumps out of her bed, saying "My wife will be wondering where I am!" While driving home he's wondering what to do when he gets there. He parks the car in the driveway, gets his dirty boots and clipboard out of the boot, rubs his face in some bushes to scratch it up a bit, then sneaks into the house. His wife is still awake, waiting for him, and says, in a tone to freeze the blood, "Where have YOU been?!"

He sighs - "Well dear, I met this attractive young woman at work, went out to dinner with her, and the next thing you know we're in bed together..."

"Don't you lie to me you @!#$@!#$, you've been to that bloody cemetery again haven't you?"

Ah, the exuberance of youth.

I like the Perth DPS site! It's Gene-amusing.

California Bound - 1848-1873

While browsing through the Google Genealogy Groups (used to be the Usenet newsgroups) today, I found an interesting note about passenger lists for ships and wagon trains traveling to California between 1848 and 1873. The "California Bound" web site description says:
The lists are transcribed from microfilm of the New York Daily Times, the New York Herald, the New Orleans Picayune, the Panama Star, the Panama Herald, and the Boston Daily Evening Transcript.

Further down the page are links to The Maritime Heritage Project and Early American Sailing Ships.

There is a Search Box at the bottom of the "California Bound" page to search for surnames or ship names. If you have ancestors or relatives who came to California in that time period, you might want to take a look here. Or just look anyway because it is a good site with an interesting subject.

The Google Genealogy Groups I subscribe to are alt.genealogy, soc.genealogy.computing and soc.genealogy.methods. There are many others, and you can subscribe to as many as you want.

You can read the groups online rather than with a newsreader (the way I used to do it, but haven't for about 5 years now). There are many steadfast contributors on these groups - many names that I recognized from the genealogy world.

You can search each group for key words. Since these groups go back into the early 1990's, there may be posts from those early years that you have missed.

You can also search for other genealogy groups using the main Google search box at the top of the page.

What were their parents thinking?

Over on the Black-Sheep-L mailing list at Rootsweb there was a "roll call" of sorts - the question was "what is the strangest given name in your records?" There were plenty of entries, including these (with surnames in parentheses):

Lobbydew (Easter)
Mahershalalbaz (Dyer)
Versey Venus (Howell)
Gool (Williams)
Jappie Jay (Holcomb)
Strangeman (Stanley)
Styleman (Jordan)
Plain Beaver Face (Washakie)
Philantheatra (Farnsworth?)
Rocksalonia (Farnsworth?)
Hotley (Farnsworth?)
Donegly (Farnsworth?)
Algae (Farnsworth?)
Arphaxed (Farnsworth?)

The last 6 were found by Janice Farnsworth in the book "Farnsworth Memorial," but she isn't sure they were all Farnsworth surname.

There were many other strange or curious given names submitted by the listers, but these struck my funny bone.

So what were their parents thinking? Or were they?

Wednesday, August 2, 2006

"Civil War Love Story" Program at CVGS

We had an interesting speaker and topic at our special Fifth Saturday meeting of the Chula Vista Genealogical Society over the weekend.

Susan Zimmer, who is a CVGS member and board member, spoke on "The Blue or the Gray - Which Side Were Your Ancestors On?" This is the story of Keith and Malinda Blalock of North Carolina, who were caught up in the Civil War. They both enlisted on the Confederate side, but Malinda was wounded and discovered, and then sent home. Keith eventually enlisted on the Union side in Tennessee and Malinda joined the camp as a helper. The story was told in the book "Ghost Riders" by Sharyn McCrumb.

Susan also told a bit about her Civil War soldier, Lt. Amos W. Downes of Company F, Illinois Infantry. Finally, she offered a list of web pages to help others do Civil War research, including a list of hereditary organizations. Susan is a member of the Nancy Hanks Lincoln Text #5, Daughters of Union Veterans of the Civil War.

It was an interesting topic, a story well told, and useful information was provided.

The CVGS regular meetings are on the last Monday of each month at 10 AM. In our attempt to reach out to genealogists who work, or cannot otherwise attend our Monday regular meetings, we provide "fifth Saturday" programs three times a year. Other San Diego societies meet on the first, second, third and fourth Saturdays of each month. We had 8 visitors at this meeting, so our Saturday strategy is fairly successful.

Elizabeth Horton Dill: A Very Elusive Ancestor

What do you do when the supposedly good (i.e., original source, primary information, direct evidence) data is either wrong or conflicted? Here is a short Case Study of mine:

Problem: Who are the parents of Elizabeth Horton Dill (ca 1794-1869) of Eastham, Dedham, Medfield and Leominster MA?

Previous Research:

1) Elizabeth Horton Dill was born in Eastham MA on Cape Cod, became a schoolteacher in 1822 in Dedham MA and joined the church there.

2) She married Alpheus Smith of Medfield MA in 1826, and they had children Lucretia T. Smith in 1827 and James A. Smith in 1833 in Medfield.

3) She was widowed in 1840, and appeared in the 1850 census (age 52) and 1860 census (age 60) in Medfield.

4) She died on 28 November 1869 in Leominster MA where Lucretia (Smith) Seaver lived with her family. She is buried in Medfield. There are no probate records for Elizabeth.

Discussion of Data:

There are two death records in the MA VRs - one in Leominster that says her parents were Thomas and Mary (Horton) Dill, and one in Medfield that says her parents were Jabez and Mary (Horton) Dill. Both records say she was 75 years, 6 months, 9 days old at death and she was born in Eastham. That computes to a birth date of 19 May 1794.

A complete search of all available (on the LDS FHLC microfilms and at the local libraries and societies) Eastham and Wellfleet records reveal a Dill family in the town records that starts with Thomas and Mehitable (Brown) Dill marrying in 1733 and settling in Eastham in 1739. By the 1790 to 1800 time period, there are four Dill families with young children - James, Thomas, Benjamin and Moses. Their families seem well defined in the town records, and they are all in the census records. The only Elizabeth Dill in these families is a daughter of Thomas Dill, whose first wife was Hannah Horton. This Elizabeth is born 9 May 1791 in Eastham, the 6th of 9 children.

The first Jabez Dill in the records is born in 1789 in Eastham, the son of Thomas and Hannah (Horton) Dill.

Hannah (Horton) Dill died before 1797, leaving at least 4 and perhaps 9 children under the age of 13. Thomas Dill married (2) Ruth Linkhornew in 1797 and he married (3) Susanna Hatch in 1813.

The Challenge:

I believe, but cannot yet prove, that this Elizabeth Dill born in 1791, daughter of Thomas and Hannah (Horton) Dill, is my Elizabeth Horton Dill (ca 1794-1869), but the records are in conflict in many ways:

1) The census ages don’t match the age in the death record or the town record.

2) The age 75-6-9 in the death record doesn’t match the calculated age from the birth record, 78-6-19.

3) In the death records, her mother is listed as Mary Horton, rather than Hannah Horton.

4) In the Medfield death record, her father is identified as Jabez Dill, which is certainly wrong, based on the birth records for the larger Dill family.

What research opportunities or resources would you consider next? Any comments or suggestions are welcome!

Shopping for the Genealogist who has everything

I thoguht I would do a little comparison shopping so that I could recommend genealogy items to my wife and family for my birthday and for Christmas (I'm tired of getting books, socks, and ties, I want something funny and unique!). And maybe I can find something for Angel Linda too.

The site Fun Stuff for Genealogists has a wide variety of gifts for the discerning genealogist. I like their bumper stickers, the Angel ornament (my wife collects angel stuff), and the Privacy doorknob hanger that says "I'm not Stuck, I'm Ancestrally Challenged." However, the T-shirt offerings are kind of bland.

I found that the Jolene's Trailer Park web site has a "Sexy Genealogist" T-shirt for sale. What else would you expect from a site like that? I would buy that in an instant if I could get a picture in the middle of it to spice it up. Of who, you ask?

Then I found JMK's Genealogy Gifts with a wide variety of interesting shirts and gifts. My two favorites are:

1) The Viking T-shirt, with a Viking ship and speech bubbles that say:
Speech bubble 1: Right men, before the pillaging and plundering remember to visit the local library and copy the BMD’s. If you are not sure about a surname then ask the librarian. There is nothing worse than shoddy transcriptions!.....any questions?

Speech bubble 2: Eric, and his bloody family tree again!

2) The "Genealogy is a Lot Like Sex" T-shirt, which says:
Genealogy is like sex...
You think about it most of the time.
You’re always anticipating the next time you can do it.
Your partner hangs around looking bored until you're finished.
You become irritable if you go too long without doing it.

There is also one for my wife - the "Genealogy Spouse" T-shirt which says:
If you see my husband, please tell him I'm ready to go home.

Do you think I should get her the apron, the tote bag, the regular shirt, a baby doll shirt, the tank top, or a hoodie? I wish they made sleep shirts with these designs.

OK, her birthday is taken care of. Boy, will she be surprised! Don't tell her! Now to find the perfect Christmas gift. Shopping online is fun.

Tuesday, August 1, 2006

Searching for Annie Moore #3

Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak has responded to some researchers who asked for more "proof" that the Annie Moore who married Patrick O'Connell in Texas, lived there and in New Mexico, and died in 1923 was NOT the Annie Moore who came to Ellis Island. I was one of those people who, in the shower on Sunday morning, said "hey, I haven't checked out the Annie Moore O'Connell in Texas - I probably should." After drying off and returning from church, I did some census searching and found the 1910 and 1920 images with some help from a Google search. I also wrote Megan an email asking for more proof.

BOh my, did Megan do a wonderful job of proving her case to my satisfaction in her posts at Megan's Roots World. In addition to the case study, she provided pictures of 10 documents that support her case.

This is a case study with clear and convincing evidence if I've ever seen it. An excellent job - Bravo! Megan.

But we are still no closer to solving the mystery are we? I posted several days ago the set of questions I've been pondering and searching to answer, in addition to the futile search data so far.

Tally ho...

What Celebrity Looks Like You?

There is an interesting web site that provides the celebrities that look like you at You have to upload a picture of yourself (or someone you want to surprise with this news), then press the button "Run face recognition."

Your results depend upon the facial features shown in your picture - hairline, eye width, jaw protrusion, eyebrows, ears, nose shape, etc.

Using my blog photo, my #1 match was Allen Ginsburg (the pornographer?) at 64% (the beard and bald head?). I also look like Kylie Minogue (64%), Colin Powell (62%), Alan Baldwin (61%), Beyonce Knowles (60%), Benoit Mandelbrott (59%), Ozzy Osbourne (58%), Darius Mihaud (54%), Cameron Diaz (54%) and Edmund Stolber (51%). I must admit to mystification concerning the young ladies (are they going to look like I do now in 30 years? Heaven forbid!), but I will look at each of them more closely to see if I can see the likeness. Maybe they are distant cousins? I could do research on this, I guess, after I find Annie Moore (yeah, that'll be the day!). I know that my chest size is bigger than theirs.

Now I need to try my wife, my daughters and my grandchildren to see who they look like. Maybe the mailman visited more often than I thought.

It appears that this MyHeritage site wants people to sign up for a family web site. Good come-on, though. Give the face recognition thing a try.

"He was lovely, he was fair..."

A Baltimore Sun article is here and is about a gravestone for a baby that died in 1848 that was found recently along a roadside. The article is titled "Brief life, knotty mystery" by Kristi Funderbunk.

The stone is described in the article by:

The marker includes, at its top, a carving of a bird. The engraving reads: "PAUL F., Son of J & S Kalar, Died May 28, 1848, aged 6 mos."

Below that information are the lines:

"He was lovely he was fair
And for awhile was given
An angel came and claimed his own
And bore him home to heaven"

Doris Hoffman, and several other researchers in the area, have taken on the task to try to find who Paul F. Kalar was, where he lived and where he was buried. It's definitely a labor of love. More power to them - I wish them well.

Why do people do this sort of thing? I think it is mainly the emotional feeling that that this stone marked the resting place of a child and it should be returned to its rightful place. There is also the curiosity factor and the intellectual challenge to solve the mystery.

Monday, July 31, 2006

Life in the 1500s (Reality Check)

Remember all of the emails and mailing list posts that appeared many years ago about "Life in the 1500s" telling how people lived and the origin of many "olde sayings" like "Chairman of the Board," "Raining Cats and Dogs," "Upper Crust" and the like?

Well, Snopes has debunked most of them, but has provided what appears to be "correct" information for each assertion here.

It's a good read, but probably too long to email to everybody.

Oh boy -- to think I believed all of that once!

CVGS Program on Family History Centers

We had our Chula Vista Genealogical Society meeting today at the library. One of the topics that a number of our people have requested over the years was more information about the local LDS Family History Center and the Family History Library in Salt Lake City.

Our speaker today was Peter A. King, who works at the San Diego FHC in Mission Valley, and teaches classes on PAF and other subjects there. He put together a "Visual Tour" of the SD FHC using photos to describe all of the assets at the FHC - the books, computers, microfilms, microfiches, research guides, resource books, etc. It sounds pretty dry, but it was very informative and Pete added his touch of humor to the talk.

His main point was that the FHC is a one-stop shop for a number of genealogy services - not only the on-site assets but also the opportunity to order films and fiches from Salt Lake City. There are now 16 computers with access to the Internet and Ancestry Library Edition for free. This library now has two setups with a computer, scanner/printer, and film/fiche reader hooked up so the user can either print out, burn on a CD or save on a flash drive the images from books, microfilm or microfiche.

One thing that makes this FHC unique is that it houses the archives for three different societies - BIGRA (British Isles), GRA (German) and CGSSD (Computer Genealogy). It also hosts meetings for several groups, including BIGRA and GRA and the new Norwegian group.

Pete asked the audience "How many of you have ever been to the FHC?" and got about 80% response. When he asked "This year?" he got about a 30% response. Amazing, isn't it? But typical, I think, of genealogy research in the Internet age.

We have a "research trip" scheduled for this Saturday to help our members reconnect with a really good genealogy library and research facility. GRA has a meeting at the same time, and several of our members are interested in hooking up with them.

Blogging 80 years ago...

Here's a fascinating story from Hamilton in Ontario, Canada about a treasure trove of personal vignettes, letters and notes - an 80 year old "blog" of sorts, but typed, not digitally processed and distributed.

The find:
Page after page of farm notes, the day's news, offbeat poems, horseshoe scores, visitors to the farm, literature reviews, profiles and more, all typed around hand-drawn illustrations.

The vivid newsletters from the 1920s and 1930s came to life when Burford veterinarian Chris Crombie cleaned out the damp and cluttered basement in his mother's home, after her 2003 death.

32 boxes of papers, 8.5 linear feet, all needing to be cleaned up, organized and archived. What a tremendous find, especially for the descendants of the author. Even if we think we know someone well, we often are surprised by the depth and wisdom of their thoughts.

Read the entire article - makes you feel good!

Sunday, July 30, 2006

It is Mom's 87th Birthday Today - I Miss Her

It would have been my mother's 87th birthday today. I was feeling sentimental about this, so I looked for my memorial to her today in my archives, and found it (written in January 2002 after she passed on 4 January 2002), and thought I would share it with you:


A Wonderful Life -- by Randy Seaver

I celebrate the life of my mother, Betty Virginia Carringer Seaver, today with a sense of thanksgiving for her life, and gratitude for the love and encouragement she gave me.

The gravestone up at Fort Rosecrans will read 1919 – dash – 2002, but her life was much more than a beginning and an end. Mikel briefly summarized her life in his opening remarks, and the other speakers have remembered her impact on them.

To summarize the "dash" – she was a child of the Roaring 20’s, a Depression-era teen, a War bride, a 50’s and 60’s mom, a 70’s grandmother, and an 80’s and 90’s survivor. Obviously, it is impossible to cover a life of 82 years in just a few minutes.

The roles that my mother played in her life are many and varied – and typical of many women of her generation and throughout our history:

Daughter, grand-daughter, niece, student, friend, sorority sister, artist, teacher, wife, lover, worker, mother, encourager, coach, citizen, patriot, aunt, neighbor, mentor, reader, mother-in-law, grandmother, great-grandmother.

As a mother, she provided the family roots needed for her children to grow into responsible adults. She also knew when to give us wings and let us “fly away” from the nest. She emphasized education, and doing well in school. She helped us with our homework, encouraged us to try and succeed in our lives. It was quite a task to manage a home with three active boys and a demanding husband, but she did it extremely well - with grace, good humor, and love.

I am a bit of a family historian. In the last ten years, I especially enjoyed taking her grocery shopping, and afterwards sitting on the patio, listening to her life experiences, looking at family pictures and papers. I was thrilled when she found new treasures in her bookcase or in the cedar chest. I cherish this special time that I spent with her.

The “dash” between the dates on the gravestone covers quite a bit, doesn’t it?

My memories will always be of a woman and mother so patient, kind, encouraging, giving, helping, fun-loving, courteous, gracious, wise, honest, independent, organized, intelligent, articulate, confident, private, spirited, positive, good.

She enjoyed being with her family, and was very proud of them. One of her legacies is her genes. Looking at the big picture - she contributed her goodness and love to humanity and was a necessary part in the march of the generations.

Another legacy is the memories we have of her, as her family and friends, and the example of a life well lived – one of love, dignity and goodness.

This is expressed beautifully in this excerpt from “How Green Was My Valley” by Richard Llewellyn, which I’ve slightly modified:

“I saw behind me those who had gone before,
and before me those who are to come,
I looked back and saw my father and mother,
and their fathers and mothers, and all our fathers and mothers.
And in front to see my sons, and their daughters,
and the sons and daughters beyond.

“And their eyes were my eyes,
As I felt, so they had felt, and would feel,
as then, so now, as tomorrow and forever.

“Then I was not afraid,
for I was in a long line that had no beginning and no end,
and the hand of his father grasped my father’s hand,
and my father’s hand was in mine,
and my children took my hand
and all up and down the line that stretched
from time that was to time that is, and is not yet,
all raised their hands to show the link,
and we found that we were one, born of Woman, Son of Man,
made in the image, fashioned in the Womb
by the Will of God, the Eternal Father.”

Her best qualities live on in her sons and their children – and they are ours to treasure and share through the years to come.

Thank you all for coming today and blessing us with your witness and your caring.

And Thank you, Lord God, for blessing us with this wonderful woman, my mother. May she rest in peace.


Amen. Mom is up on the green hill overlooking the Pacific Ocean on Point Loma at Fort Rosecrans Veterans cemetery with my dad, under a big tree alongside the road. We don't visit them often enough, I think.