Saturday, October 25, 2014

SNGF: Photographs Through The Generations

This week's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun challenge posted by Randy Seaver on his Genea-Musings blog asks us to document and picture one of our ancestral lines.
Unfortunately, my family photos are not very well organized.
I think the longest line I can document photographically is my mother's Swicegood/Coffey line.
1. My great-great-grandparents were Squire COFFEY (1828-1912) and Drusilla PARKER (1833-1901), pictured here:
2-3. Their daughter, Martha Elizabeth COFFEY (1867-1947) married John Hiram Richmon Sharp SWICEGOOD (1858-1936), and had 4 children, one dying in infancy. The photo at right shows John and Mattie with their three surviving children circa late 1897. From left to right are Bonnie Pearl (aka "Pearl"), Beulah Bliss (baby on lap), John Hiram, Martha Elizabeth (aka "Mattie"), and my grandfather, William Earl (aka "Earl").
4. William Earl SWICEGOOD (1893-1979) married Mollie Fay BROOKSHIRE (1894-1966) and they had six children. My mother, Nancy Leah SWICEGOOD (1917-1996) (aka "Leah" to her family) was their second child. At left is a photo of my mother on leave from the Army ca. 1943. She was the first of her siblings to serve in World War II.
5-6. Me--Virginia Leah SHARP (1948-?)..... in 1951 and 2013 (with son and husband).
So, just 6 generations. Though now that I've done this, I realize that I have photos of my third great grandmother, Susannah BARTSHE COLLINS FREEMAN CARTER (1829-1912), so I really could go 7 generations.
Either way, it's embarrassing how few family photos I have on my computer from the last two generations.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

SNGF: Exploring Your Grandfather's Birthdate

Tonight's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun challenge posted by Randy Seaver at the GeneaMusings blog is to:
1. Find the Day of the Week one of your Grandfathers was born;
2. List five events that occurred on the day and month of your Grandfather's birth;
3. List five famous people who were born on the same day as your Grandfather;
4. Give your answers in a blog post.

My paternal grandfather, Harold Herbert SHARP, was born in Oquawka, Henderson County, Illinois on 21 May 1893. I never met the man and didn't even know his name until a number of years after my father, his second son, had died.

21 May 1893 was a Sunday (according to ). I guess that means that Harold should have been "full of grace," but he died from alcoholism, so either the date or poem is wrong.

According to, the following events occurred on May 21st:
  • 1602    Martha's Vineyard was first sighted by Captain Bartholomew Gosnold
  • 1804    Lewis and Clark expedition began
  • 1832    first Democratic National Convention was held in Baltimore
  • 1846    first steamship arrived in Hawaii
  • 1881    American Red Cross was founded by Clara Barton
Famous people who were born on 21 May include (according to
  • 1527    Phillip II, King of Spain (1556-98) & Portugal (1580-98)
  • 1780    Elizabeth Fry, Quaker minister/prison reformer/nurse
  • 1843    Charles-Albert Gobat, Tramelan, Switzerland, Swiss politician, recipient of the 1902 Nobel Peace Prize
  • 1843    Louis Renault, French lawyer  [namesake of my first car???]
  • 1917    Dennis Day, Irish tenor/comedian/Jack Benny Show guest
I have to admit that I recognized very few of the names of people born on May 21st. There were also several Civil War generals on both sides and many inventors and artists that I've never heard of.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Family History Library, Here I Come!

Actually, the title should probably be "Ready or not, here I come." 

I am heading to Salt Lake City early in the morning for 5 days of unencumbered research at the Family History Library.

I've been there many times before.
But this is the first time I've gone without a clear research plan and extensive preparation.
I just haven't had the time and don't have access to my file cabinet and boxes of materials on my primary families.
But since I desperately need a break from this summer's never-ending medical maladies, I'm going to SLC anyway.

In the early days--1980s and early 1990s--I would do flight "stopovers" in SLC on my way home from business trips. I'd use the nights of those business trips to prep for my 24 hours (or less) in SLC and be at the Family History Library every nanosecond they were open during my stay. In the olden days, that was 7:00 AM until 10:00 PM, I believe. I would not leave the building for anything, grabbing snacks from the vending machines and maybe two potty breaks in 15 hours. Ah, the good old days.

Lately I've been managing to get to SLC about once a year, though usually not for a full week. Often I have my husband in tow, which is not conducive to doing serious research. But I'm certainly not as obsessive-compulsive about spending every available waking moment in the library. I actually go out for lunch and dinner. Once I even went to a concert after dinner instead of returning to the library. What a shocking experience!

I'm hoping that the family histories are back on the shelves by now. They weren't there the last three times I checked. Very frustrating. Most aren't available on microfilm or in any other form. Why the "powers that be" felt they needed to sweep the shelves of half of the family histories and spirit them off to unknown locations for multiple years is beyond me. I was told they were being prepared for digitization, but they hadn't gotten permission to digitize them yet. So why remove them from the shelves? Very strange for a library that is usually very customer friendly.

Anyway, wish me luck with whichever family I end up researching. I'll let you know of any genealogical breakthroughs in a week or so.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

SNGF: ImageChef Creations

Randy Seaver has come up with yet another Saturday Night Genealogy Fun challenge on his Genea-Musings blog tonight. We are to explore the ImageChef website and create a few images.

I'm not feeling very creative tonight, but managed to come with three images to share:

I can see how playing with images on this site might get addictive!

Thanks for the challenge, Randy.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Thoughts on Grandparents' Day

Today is apparently Grandparents' Day.
It's not a day I've every celebrated.
I'm not a grandparent and never lived near my or my children's grandparents.
But as I read other people's accounts of their grandparent memories, I feel a huge hole in my heart.

I never met either of my paternal grandparents.
Never heard their names spoken.
Never knew anything about them.
My father left home to join the Army while still in his teens and never looked back. Apparently he never even wrote to his parents or siblings.

When I was in high school I had an assignment to create a family tree. I started asking my Dad questions about his family and carefully recorded his answers. Amazingly, my Mother saved that project and I found it after she died. The information my father had provided was incredibly inaccurate. Whether he really didn't know his mother's maiden name, where his parents were born, any of his grandparents' names I have no way of knowing. But he sure didn't share the correct information with me back in 1965!

My Dad died at age 60 in 1978, just two months after the birth of his first grandchild, my daughter, who he never met. Ironically, his mother died two years later. Since his mother died without a will, his siblings had an attorney track down my father. They found my mother and she signed away any interest in my grandmother's estate. One of my father's brothers made a trip from Texas to Florida to meet my mother and tell her about the family she never knew. She never told me about this visit or the scribbled family tree he left with her. I found it after she died in 1996. By that time three of my father's six siblings had died. I did manage to speak to my father's only sister, my aunt (after whom I might have been named), one time, but haven't been able to track her down since. I suspect she's in a nursing home somewhere in the Houston area. One brother is apparently also still alive (the one who visited my mother) in the greater Houston area, but he's no longer listed in any telephone directories I can find.

Will I ever meet any of my SHARP relatives? I have no idea. Someone in the family has posted a tree on Ancestry, but won't respond to my messages. Maybe someday I'll get to Houston and look up some of my cousins....if I can find them. But there's absolutely no chance I'll ever meet either of my Sharp grandparents, Harold Herbert SHARP and Virginia Corinne MELDRUM.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

SNGF: How many Sarah LNUs?

This week's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun challenge from Randy Seaver is as follows:
  • How many "Sarah" persons without a last name do you have in your genealogy database? How many of them are your ancestors?
  • If you have a "Sarah LNU" who is your direct ancestor, have you looked recently to determine if there are more records online that might help you determine her surname?
  • Tell us about your "Sarah LNU" ancestors with no surname.
In my SWICEGOOD database (my mother's lines), I have 19 Sara/Sarah first names with no last names. None of these are my direct ancestors.

My Sara/Sarah LNUs are as follows:
  • Sara, wife of Adam BECK, mother of 5 children born between 1808 and 1818 in Davidson County, NC
  • Sarah, wife of Alexander SHARPE, b. 1 May 1824; d. 20 Jun 1897 near Tyro, Davidson Co., NC
  • Sarah, wife of Joseph W. WOOLERY, b. abt 1825 in Missouri
  • Sarah, wife of Daniel GIBSON, b. abt 1848
  • Sarah, wife of Thomas H. MALLORY, b. Nov 1850 in Missouri; d. 1930 in prob. Jasper Co., Missouri
    • There's a Missouri death certificate for Thomas in 1916, but none for Sarah, so suspect she either remarried (in her 60s?) or moved to another state to live with one of her children.
  • Sarah, wife of Thomas CRABTREE, mother of 7 children born between 1806 and 1836
  • Sarah, wife of Christian HAUSSER, b. in Germany, no dates
  • Sarah, wife of Charles BROOKSHIRE (b. 1796 NC; d. 1880 IN)
  • Sarah, wife of William PITTS, mother of Addie PITTS (1907-1999)
  • Sarah, wife of Conrad DAVIS, mother of Maurice DAVIS (1769-1830)
  • Sarah E., wife of Joel BROOKSHIRE, b. abt 1833 in Tennessee; mother of 7 children born 1857-1876 in TN
  • Sarah E., wife of Mathias JACOBS, mother of 2 children born 1857-1859 in Missouri
  • Sarah E., wife of FNU QUIGG (b. 1886, Hickory Co., MO)
    • My notes indicate that this wife might be an erroneous entry. I only have a birth record for her supposed husband and attached the wrong family to him.
  • Sarah Ella, wife of William Brazil BROOKSHER, b. abt 1848 in Georgia; mother of 2 children born 1868 & 1875 in Missouri (?)
    • FindAGrave lists a Sarah Ella BROOKSHER, 1848-1898, wife of W. B. BROOKSHER, buried in Cassville Cemetery, Bartow County, Georgia. No information on parents or children.
  • Sarah J., wife of John Franklin QUIGG; b. abt. 1840 in Pennsylvania; mother of 9 children born 1858-1880 in PA, MO, and KS
  • Sarah J., wife of Alfred CRABTREE, b. abt 1825 in Tennessee; mother of 4 children born 1842-1860 in Missouri
    • No Missouri death certificate or Missouri burial found. Probably remarried, as husband died about the time last child was born.
  • Sarah J., wife of John W. JACOBS, mother of 10 children born 1850-1878, some in Missouri
    • No Missouri death certificate or Missouri burial found.
  • Sarah M., wife of James Emery MEREDITH. b. 1867 in MO, d. 1923 in MO
    • Her Missouri death certificate gives maiden name as OWEN, daughter of James B. OWEN and Lucy VICKIS?? [DICKERSON in FindAGrave memorial]; buried in Osceola cemetery. F'indAGrave indicates that James MEREDITH was her second husband and includes an obituary for her first husband, parents and sibling names.
  • Sarah S., wife of Levi BRESHEARS, b. Jul 1859 in Missouri; mother of 7 children born 1881-1898 in Missouri
    • I checked for a Death Certificate for Sarah, but did not find one. She is listed on her husband's death certificate "S. E. Breshears" in 1919, so apparently have her middle initial wrong. I checked FindAGrave for the cemetery where Levi is said to be buried on his death certificate, but neither Levi or Sarah is listed there.
To be perfectly honest, none of these "Sarah LNUs" are very close relatives, so I'm not inclined to spend much time searching for information on them. I did some quick-and-dirty lookups in two databases--Missouri Death Certificates, 1910-1963 and FindAGrave--but wasn't inclined to dive into or

Saturday, August 23, 2014

SNGF: Two Degrees of Separation

Tonight's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun challenge from Randy Seaver's Genea-Musing blog is quite interesting:

Using your ancestral lines, how far back can you go with two degrees of separation? That means "you knew an ancestor, who knew another ancestor." When was that second ancestor born?

My results:
1. On my paternal side, I've never met anyone but him. Dad was born in 1917, so could conceivably have met his maternal great-grandfather (mother's mother's father), Herman Sonnen, who was born in 1833 in Germany and died in 1919 in Houston. His paternal great-grandparents died long before he was born and lived in Kansas.

2. On my maternal side, my grandfather's parents both died before I was born, and his paternal grandparents died before he was born. His maternal grandparents lived until he was in his teens and lived across the street, so I'm sure he saw a lot of them! They were born in 1828 (Squire Coffey) and 1833 (Drusilla Parker).

3. On my maternal side, my grandmother's father died a year before I was born, but my great-grandmother lived until two months before I graduated from high school. She was my idol and I absolutely adored her. Mammo, Nancy Jane Collins, was born in 1873. Her great-grandfather, Jacob Bartshe, died in 1874 in the same county, probably within 10 miles of where she was born. Chances are pretty good that they met. Jacob was born in 1801 in Pennsylvania.

So I can't make it to before 1800, though I was born in 1948. The span is still over 200 years, but I'm disappointed at not getting into the 1700s.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

SNGF: My Genea-Bucket List

This week's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun challenge from Randy Seaver is to create and share my genealogy bucket list. Specifically, he asks...

What is on your Genealogy Bucket List? What research locations do you want to visit? Are there genea-people you want to meet and share with? What do you want to accomplish with your genealogy research? List a minimum of three items--more if you want! Tell us about it in a blog post.....

This isn't something I've actually thought much about. I've got lots of research questions, but they don't seem to be what Randy's looking for. I'll list a few places I'd like to go and people I'd like to meet, in no particular order.

1. I'd like to do a leisurely research trip from Missouri to Virginia, backtracking my maternal ancestors' migration pattern and spending time in the places where they lived. All of her lines appear to have followed fairly similar routes, so I should be able to answer a few of my research questions.

2. I'd like to spend some time researching in Texas....and possibly meeting some of my paternal relatives. I've never met any of my father's kin or had any luck getting them to respond to my letters and calls. But as far as I can tell, there are still a bunch of them in Texas.

3. I'd like to travel to several areas in Sweden and to the Åland Islands, where my husband ancestors came from. He has a cousin who still owns the old family home on Föglö, which I'd love to see.

4. At some point, I really need to publish all of the research I've been doing for 40+ years. It would be fantastic if I could come up with a meaningful way to share all this information with my kids and cousins--a way that might actually interest them. I've done several short individual stories to send to my maternal side cousins every other year, but can't seem to get my head around pulling everything together. It might help if my papers and files were more organized, but that doesn't seem like a valid bucket list item.

5. Unlike Randy, I don't have any great desire to attend any more large genealogy conferences. I've found to ones I've attended (FGS, NGS, RootsTech) quite disappointing and don't think they're worth the time or money. I would, however, like to attend one of the genealogy institutes for a week, preferably one taught by either Tom Jones of Elizabeth Shown Mills.

I've shared my genea-dreams. What are your's?

Saturday, August 9, 2014

SNGF: Elementary School Memories

Randy Seaver's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun challenge for this week is to share some elementary school memories. I've noticed that the first two responders posted multiple appropriate photos with their blog posts, but I'm not that organized and don't have the energy to go looking for photos to scan. So....

I was an Army brat until the summer before 4th grade. I was supposed to start kindergarten in Groton, Massachusetts, but refused to go. Kindergarten must not have been compulsory back in 1953, because my Mom apparently humored me and let me stay home with my little brother.

The next summer we were transferred to Vint Hill Farms Station, near Warrenton, VA. When we lived there it was out in the country. Now it's practically part of Washington, D.C. and is a private development. I rode a school bus with my older brother and sister to the elementary school in Warrenton, VA. My recollection is that it was an older brick building with a primarily dirt playground and an annex on the far side of the playground with an auditorium and some more classrooms. I must have attended that school for three years, until my Dad retired from the US Army in June 1957. My only memories of grades 1-3 are:
  1. My first grade teacher was mean. She would make us "nap" with our heads on our desks. One hand had to be draped over the edge of our desk. She would walk around and lift our fingers to see if we were asleep. If we weren't, she'd rap us with her ruler. Not a fond memory.
  2. The first of May was a big deal. The older kids did a "May Pole Dance" with fancy costumes and there was a program that included a minstrel show. My older brother had to put charcoal on his face to be in the show. Even at age 8 I thought it was stupid.
  3. One time we got caught in a hurricane while on the school bus heading home. The bus flipped and my brother's mouth was bleeding all over. The boy next to me broke his arm and the bone was sticking out. I don't remember getting hurt, but I do remember being scared out of my wits!

In 1957 we moved to State College, PA (home of Penn State) and rented a small house on Aiken Place. The town had just built a big new high school, but was woefully short on elementary schools, so I attended 4th grade in one wing of the high school. My younger brother, older sister and I walked to school through a little "pocket park," down a hill and across a huge field. My teacher was Mrs. Torkelson, who I've always remembered fondly. Somewhere I still have a postcard she sent me the next summer when she was on a trip to the west coast. Imagine my astonishment when I read her obituary in The Seattle Times a few years ago. Since 1977 I have lived about 2 miles from where she was living when she died. If I'd only known.....

The summer of 1958 my parents purchased a home across town from the rental house. It was HUGE--6 bedrooms, 2.5 baths--partly unfinished on a huge lot that had no landscaping, just lots of wild blackberries. My folks got a great deal on the house because the builder went too far in debt and couldn't finish it. We lived there until after I was out of the house. Corl Street Elementary school was just a long block from that house, down a pleasantly treed path and across the playground from our house. For 5th grade I had Mr. Cox and for 6th grade I had Mr. Lee. Mr. Cox became principal the year after he taught my class and Mr. Lee had a heart attack while teaching my class. We must have been a challenge. I remember Mr. Lee having a terrible temper. One time he got so mad at a kid who was sassing him that he picked the kid up and then threw him down to the floor. That stunt was quickly followed by a heart attack. We had subs for a long time after that. After my mother died in 1996 I discovered a book about the early families in Centre County that was written by Mr. Lee. Pity I hadn't discovered genealogy yet when I was in 6th grade.

I was always into sports. Neither of my brothers (one older, one younger) ever had any interest in athletics; nor did my sister. But my Dad had been a semi-pro bowler and I think had played every sport available to him growing up. He tried to sneak me onto the Little League team, but no girls were allowed. The boys my age wanted me to play; the parents wouldn't allow it. But I always got to be the pitcher when we played during or after school. And the boys always came knocking at the door when they wanted to get a pick-up game going.

My Dad started me bowling when I was 8 or 9. He started the "Bantam" league at the local bowling alley in State College. He would take me out to the alleys around noon on Sundays (the PA Blue laws didn't allow them to open on Sundays) and make me practice picking up spares. I didn't mind, except when he gave me too much advice. Then I'd get ticked off and throw a straight ball--not the hook he had taught me--and invariably get a strike or pick up the spare. The first year I won the high average trophy for my 99 pin average. Not bad for a 9-year-old.

I don't remember liking any particular subjects. I read voraciously in grade school, finishing all of the Hardy Boy, Nancy Drew, and biography books in our school library. According to my sister, I was always "Miss Goodie Two Shoes" and vying for teacher's pet. I don't remember it that way, but it was probably true. When we were young, she was the boat rocker (a year ahead of me in school) and I was the "good" kid.

I was in the Brownies and then Girl Scouts. Each of our mothers helped us with a different badge. Carol Confer's mom was a home ec teacher and did the sewing badge with us. The sock darning was a bit tedious, but I loved the rest of it. My mom taught the music appreciation badge. In hindsight, that was really amazing. She had a tin ear and knew nothing about music. My Dad subscribed to some "great music" records, so she just read the descriptive information and played the records for us. I don't remember what other badges we did, but I stayed in the Girl Scouts all the way through high school, was a troop leader in college and grad school, and again when my daughter was old enough to join.

I'm impressed that others can remember who their best friends were in each grade. I can't. Not a clue. After we moved to Metz Ave. in 1958, there was a big bunch of us who were together through high school. We had a group of 5 or 6 girls who did all sorts of things together, but I don't remember any one of them being my best friend.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

SNGF: Ahnentafel Roulette

Once again, Randy Seaver of Geneamusings blog, has posted his Saturday Night Genealogy Fun (SNGF) challenge, and I'm tired enough from gardening to need some respite. So.....

1. What year was one of your great-grandfathers born? Divide this number by 80 and round that number off to the nearest whole number. This is your "roulette number."

My father's father's father, Alvah Clyde SHARP, was born in 1871. 1871/80 = 23.39, rounded off to 23. I'm beginning to suspect that everyone's number is going to be 23.

2. Find the person in your ahnentafel chart with that number. Who is that person and what is her vital information?

Number 23 is my father's mother's mother's mother, Elizabeth MOHR, b. 17 Dec 1838 in Germany, d. 1 Mar 1888 in Houston, Texas. She married Herman SONNEN in New Orleans, Louisiana, ca. 1858.

3. Tell us three facts about that person.
4. Write about it in a blog post....

I don't know a lot about Elizabeth, but I'll see if I can come up with 3 facts.
   * Elizabeth and Herman had at least 9 children born between 1860 and 1879.
   * The family moved from New Orleans to Houston between February 1871 and March 1873, based on children's birthdates.
   * Elizabeth is buried in the family plot in Washington Cemetery, Houston, Texas. Her maiden name is misspelled "Moore" on the tombstone.
   * At the time of Elizabeth's death in 1888, she apparently still had relatives living in New Orleans and St. Louis, Missouri, as her very short obituary in the Houston Post ends with "New Orleans and St. Louis papers please copy."

I have tried numerous times over the years to identify Elizabeth's family with no success. If anyone has any suggestions for finding them, please let me know.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

SNGF: Semi-Random Research

Tonight's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun challenge from Randy Seaver is to do a little semi-random research.

1) We're going to do a little bit of Semi-Random Research tonight...
2) Go to your family tree database of choice (you know, like RootsMagic, Reunion, Ancestry Member Tree), and determine who the very first person on your list of C surnames is. Or the first person on your list of J surnames. Or P surnames. Or any other name you need to research. Your choice!
3) What do you know (or not know) about this person based on your research? It's OK to do more research if you need to - in fact, it's encouraged!
4) How are you related to this person, and why is s/he in your family tree?
5) Tell us about it in a blog post of your own, in a comment to this blog post, or in a Facebook Status post or Google+ Stream post.  

So...I opened up my FTM2014 Swicegood database, which focuses on my maternal lines, and selected the letter "E".
The first person under "E" was "Sarah E".
No last name listed.
So I went to that name in my database and discovered that I had neglected to enter the Surnames for most of the children of Levi Henry BROOKSHIRE (1854-1923), a first cousin of my great-grandfather, Charles Christopher BROOKSHIRE (1872-1947). I never met Pop Brookshire, but his wife was my idol growing up, so I heard lots of stories about him.
The only information I had on "Sarah E Brookshire" was a birthdate of May 1888 in prob. Cooper Co., MO, based on the 1900 census.
Searching Ancestry, FamilySearch, and Mocavo, I did not find any additional information on Sarah E Brookshire from Cooper County, Missouri.
She is not listed with the family in the 1910 US Census in Elbert County, Colorado. I did not find any records for her in Elbert County, Colorado (or elsewhere in the state). One of her brothers, Houston George "Hugh" Brookshire was living in Clayton, Norton Co., Kansas in 1915, so I also searched Kansas records. Nada.

Since Sarah seemed to be a dead-end, I decided to see if I could fill in some blanks on her parents, Levi Henry BROOKSHIRE and Alice Orena DAVIS and their other children. FindAGrave proved to be a great resource for this family. I spent the better part of two hours following links to various family members on FindAGrave and verifying the birth/death dates through Ancestry and FamilySearch.

I'm too lazy to list everything I found on this family. Suffice it to say, it was a couple of hours well spent.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

SNGF: My Father's Mother's Paternal Line

It's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun (SNGF) night again. Randy Seaver's challenge for tonight is to answer the following questions:

1)What was your father's mother's name?
2) What is your father's mother's patrilineal line? That is, her father's father's father's ... back to the most distant male ancestor in that line?
3) Can you identify male sibling(s) of your father's mother, and any living male descendants from those male sibling(s)? If so, you have a candidate to do a Y-DNA test on that patrilineal line. If not, you may have to find male siblings, and their descendants, of  the next generation back, or even further.
4)  Tell us about it in your own blog post, or in a comment on this post, or in a Facebook or Google Plus post.

1) My father, Alva Curtis SHARP (1917-1978), was the second son of Harold Herbert SHARP (1893-1934) and Virginia Corine MELDRUM (1896-1980).

2) Virginia MELDRUM's paternal line is as follows:
     -father = David James MELDRUM, Jr. (1867-ca.1908)
     -grandfather = James Braithwaite MELDRUM (1840-1876)
     -great-grandfather = David MELDRUM (1819-1901)
     -gggf = Unknown

3a) Virginia MELDRUM had two brothers and one sister:
     -John Harvey Sonnen MELDRUM (1899-1989) married at least twice, but I don't see any sign of children from either marriage in census or other records. The obituary I have for him is minimal, thanks to his being a member of the Neptune Society.
     -Curtis Braithwaite MELDRUM (1904-1975) married Gladys W. WOOLLEY in Harris County, Texas in 1930. They had two daughters. No Y-DNA there.

3b) Stepping back a generation, David James MELDRUM had two brothers and a sister.
     -William L. MELDRUM (1869-?) I lose after the 1900 census, when he's living with his mother, who is now on her third marriage. He is now 30 years old and still single, working as a gardener (following his father's and grandfather's occupation).
     -John H. MELDRUM (1870-1894) died unmarried of tuberculosis.

3c) Stepping back yet another generation, James Braithwaite MELDRUM only had one brother, William MELDRUM, who died just before his first birthday back in Leeds, England, before the family emigrated to the United States.

4) You're reading my blog post, which turns up ZERO candidates for MELDRUM Y-DNA from my father's mother's line. Bummer.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

SNGF--What did your father love to do?

Tonight's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun challenge from Randy Seaver is as follows:

1) It's Father's Day in the USA on Sunday, so let's talk about our fathers.
2) What did your father really like to do in his work or spare time? Did he have hobbies, or a workshop, or did he like sports, or reading, or watching TV?
3) Tell us about it in your own blog post, in a comment on this post, or in a Facebook or Google+ post.

My father, Alva Curtis Sharp (1917-1978) was one of those people who was good at everything he did. I'm guessing that if he tried something and wasn't any good at it, he didn't do it again. He spent 20 years in the U.S. Army and told stories about hustling bowling back in Texas when he first enlisted. He'd hang out at the base bowling alley, rolling right-handed. When some poor unsuspecting GI would come by and challenge him to a game, he'd switch to bowling left-handed and crush him. I remember him telling me about being a "semi-pro bowler" at some point, but have no idea exactly what that meant or how old he was then. When Dick Weber came to State College on some sort of PBA tour, my Dad was greeted as an old friend. He helped establish the bowling leagues at the bowling alley in State College and volunteered to start a junior league (which I participated in). At one point, he bowled in 4 different leagues, including a traveling league that bowled all over central Pennsylvania. He entered many state and regional tournaments. He had an impressive collection of trophies, one of them almost three feet tall. Mine were neither as numerous nor as impressive.

Dad was also a baseball player in his youth. Unfortunately, neither of his sons had any interest in sports. But I did. He would play catch with me for hours and tried to sneak me onto a Little League team. Unfortunately, girls were not allowed on Little League teams in those days (late 50s/early 60s), so I was relegated to beating the boys on the playground. And going to Pittsburgh Pirate games with him. Forbes Field was a good three hour drive from State College, but we would drive down there at least once each summer and take in a game, always stopping at a little diner for pie and coffee/pop both directions.

He also liked to watch the Friday night fights on TV. I never appreciated his interest in boxing and wished we could watch just about anything else.

And after us kids were out of the house, he took up golf. Actually, he had played golf when we lived in Japan (1950-52) and he was stationed in Korea. The only present I remember him picking out for me was a starter set of golf clubs when I took golf as a phys ed elective in college. I still have them. When I returned to State College for grad school, he and Mom had moved out to a townhome on a golf course. We would walk out their front door in the early evening and play four holes. Mom's rule was that if you swung three times and didn't hit the ball, you could pick it up and throw it. Obviously she was not the athlete in the family!

Dad was always into woodworking. While he was still in the Army, he would use the Base shop. Once he built a "hi-fi cabinet" with inlaid top. I have no idea what happened to that cabinet. When we bought our house in State College, he set up a shop in the basement and built my Mother a complete dining room set--sideboard, table, chairs. Later he added a tall china hutch with glass shelves and lighting so that she could display her pressed glass collection. He also built a set of end tables. For some reason, everything he built was made of cherry wood, apparently one of the more difficult woods to work with. I inherited the end tables and china hutch and hope to pass them down to our kids.

Another of Dad's early hobbies was photography. He apparently had a full portrait photography set up when we were in Japan. I'm not sure what happened to all the photos; I only have a few of them. But I do have a box of glass slides of photos he took in Korea. All are carefully labeled in his tiny handwriting.

Dad also worked with my older brother to build an amazing HO gauge model railroad layout. Charles was written up in Model Railroader for both his layout and some of his scratch-build structures. I know Dad built the supporting structure and I think he also painted the backdrop. I know he had a brass locomotive that he had purchased in Japan, so model railroading must have been an interest of his long before we moved to Metz Avenue in 1958.

Some of Dad's hobbies came out of necessity. After he took up golf, Arrow quit making the two-pocket shirts Dad preferred. Since he was a lefty, he needed a pocket on the right for his cigarettes. So he taught himself to sew and made his own shirts. One of his projects at work required highly precise glass lenses. He wasn't satisfied with what the techs at work made, so he did his own glass grinding. He also bought a lathe and made some sort of supports for another work-related project. Since most of his work was top secret, we rarely knew what he was working on.

After his first heart attack, Dad decided that he needed some more passive hobbies. That was about the time Rosie Greer's book Rosie Greer's Needlepoint for Men was published. He talked Mom into signing up for a needlepoint class and went with her. Of course, his sampler was perfect; Mom's was more normal. He also took up weaving. Of course he couldn't just buy a simple table loom. He built his own. He built 3 floor looms (one never actually finished) and a tapestry loom and wove some very nice pieces.

But Dad wasn't all work. He loved to tease kids. I remember a family we knew through his work. They had two boys (the older one was the same age as my younger brother) and then a little girl. Dad teased her mercilessly, trying to convince her that she was a little boy. I'm sure he would have done the same with our kids, but he didn't live long enough to meet them.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Keystone Radio School in WWII

My mother was a WAC. According to her “Report of Separation,” she enlisted on February 3, 1943 in Los Angeles, California. She had been a comptometer operator in civilian life, working for the Soil Conservation Service in Columbia, Missouri.[1] The Army trained her as a “radio operator” at the Keystone Radio School in Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania.

After my mother died, I found a photo album she had created of her time in Hollidaysburg. There is curiously little written about this place. In several years of searching, I have found only one newspaper mention of this school:


Mom’s album says she arrived in Hollidaysburg on April 7, 1943 for Class 1-W. The first photo in the album is labeled “Highland Hall, Ye Olde School.”

She labeled a photo of Duncan House as “Barracks-Keystone Style.”

From the photos in the album, it’s clear that this radio school wasn’t exactly all work and no play. There are lots of candid photos of her classmates, both at the school and visiting the town, a carnival, and on various outings. This photo is labeled “WAACs resting in front of Highland Hall.”


There’s also a whole series of photos of the women marching.....

But most of the photos in her album are of the women she trained with. In one photo, she identifies the women in her unit. I have tried to track down these women, with very little luck. I thought I had found down one of them who appeared to still be alive in northern California, but I got no response to the letter and photos I sent her. 
Caption: Room 1 – Early June ‘43
Marion Sterne                   Nancy Swicegood
Coral Howard                    Genevieve Long
Olive Wicker                      Viola Noirot
Dorothy Smith                   Mary Sparks
Sue Wills                             Mary Strome


Both Fold3 and MyHeritage have recently added the U. S. World War II Army Enlistments database to their search results. I found my mother listed in these records as “Nancy S. Sharp”, born 1917 in Missouri, residence = Los Angeles, CA, enlistment = Aug 6, 1943 at Hollidaysburg, PA, Technician 5th grade in Women’s Army Corps.

There are several odd things about this enlistment record. First, it suggests that she didn’t enlist until after she had already graduated from radio school. Second, she’s listed by her married name, which she didn’t obtain until June 1944. And in the above record, it said she was divorced, not married. Weird.

Searching this database for other people who supposedly enlisted at Hollidaysburg on Aug 6, 1943 generated 23 additional women’s names, 21 of them were listed as “married”, one was single and one divorced. I could not match any of the names to the women identified in my mother’s photo album. I doubt that any of them were married when they enlisted in the Army and attended the Keystone Radio School.

There were clearly more women in this group than show up in the enlistment records. I believe that this photo is of the women at graduation:

There appear to be about 50 women in this photo. My mother is in the first row, 4th from the left.
I would love to know more about this school and where the women went from here. The US Army Heritage and Education Center at Carlisle, PA, claims no knowledge of the Keystone Radio School. It also isn’t identified in any of the Signal Corps records that NARA has put online. Highland Hall is now a National Historic Site and is currently used for Blair County offices. I don’t know what became of Duncan House. If anyone who reads this knows more about Keystone Radio School or any of the WAACs who trained there, please contact me through the “Comments” button below.

[1] 1940 US Census, Columbia, Boone County, Missouri; Roll T627_2086; ED 10-16A, page 9B.
[2] The Daily News, Huntingdon, Pa., Monday, April 5, 1943, pg. 6,

Saturday, May 24, 2014

SNGF: Researching on

This week’s Saturday Night Genealogy Fun challenge from Randy Seaver of Genea-Musings is:
1) You're going on a scavenger hunt - for records of one of your relatives.  You can pick a relative who lived in the 1800 to 2000 time period.  A brother of one of your ancestors might be best (since males don't change their surname).  Or the husband of a sister of your ancestor.  Tell us the name of your chosen relative. 

2)   Go to FamilySearch and search for records for that relative.  Start on the Search page -  Search any way you want.   

3)  Tell us what you found in the FamilySearch record collections.  Did you find something new about that relative?   

4)  Write your own blog post, comment on this post, or write something on Facebook or Google+.

 I’ve been scanning photos from an old album of my mother’s and ran across this photo of her grandmother, Martha Elizabeth “Mattie” Coffey Swicegood, and Mattie’s sister, Aunt Belle. Belle’s full name was Melinda Isabell Coffey. She was born on 27 Oct 1869 in Maries County, Missouri; married John T. Fields 23 Aug 1888 in St. Clair County, Missouri; and died 24 May 1965 in California. I’ve never really researched this line, so now’s as good a time as any!

A search for “Melinda Isabell Coffey” born 1868-1870 in Missouri, father’s name Squire Coffey, turned up only one appropriate record on

·        1870 Census []: Melinda, age 0, is listed with her parents, Squire (43) and Drusilla (36) COFFEE and 5 siblings ranging in age from 16 to 3 and living in Jackson township, Maries County, Missouri.

A search for “Belle Coffey” born 1868-1870 in Missouri, father’s name Squire Coffey, did not turn up any additional records.

So, I switched to searching for Belle’s husband, John T. Fields, born 1862, died 1928 and found:

·        1880 Census []: John T., age 17, is living in Jackson township, St. Clair County, Missouri with his parents, C. R. (Caleb R), age 71) and Elizabeth (age 41) Fields, and 4 siblings—Mary E. (15), James R. (13), Lonora A. (11), and Emma (5).

·        after scrolling through 10+ pages of results—mostly Civil War records, even though I set birth year as 1860-1865—I got fed up and quit looking for any more relevant records.

·        I attempted to look in the FamilySearch Family Tree, but was thwarted when I tried to sign in. Even after changing my password, I couldn’t get in and there is apparently no online account support. Very frustrating.

In short, I found very little for either Belle Coffey or her husband, John T. Fields, at FamilySearch. This may have been the most frustrating search I’ve ever done on FamilySearch. Even when I clicked “exact search” I got huge numbers of totally spurious “matches” and nothing very useful.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

SNGF: Counting Cousins

This week's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun (SNGF) challenge from Randy Seaver of the Genea-musings blog is to count your first cousins. Specifically:

1)  Take both sets of your grandparents and figure out how many first cousins you have, and how many first cousins removed (a child or grandchild of a first cousin) you have.
2)  Extra Credit:  Take all four sets of your great-grandparents and figure out how many second cousins you have, and how many second cousins removed you have.
HINT:  Make a Descendants Chart with your genealogy software program!
3)  Tell us the grandparents and great-grandparents names, but don't give the name of living cousins unless you want to.  
4)  Are there any of those lines that you don't know all of the cousins names?  Do you care?  

5)  Tell us about them in your own blog post, in a comment to this blog post, or in a Facebook or Google+ post of your own.  Be sure to drop a comment to this post to link to your work. 

1a. My maternal grandparents were William Earl SWICEGOOD and Molly Fay BROOKSHIRE. They had 6 children. The photo at right was taken in 1984, I think, at a family reunion. From left to right: Dee, Bob, Leah (my Mom), Nina, Bill, Patty. Only Uncle Bill is still alive.
   As for cousins, Aunt Dee had two daughters. One has 3 children, who I don't know, and the other has 2 children, who I keep in touch with regularly. So...2 first cousins, 5 first cousins once removed.
   Aunt Nina had two daughters. One has 1 son; the other (now deceased) has a son and a daughter. So...2 first cousins, 3 first cousins once removed.
   Uncle Bill married, but had no children.
   Aunt Patty had three children. Her oldest daughter has one natural daughter and 3 step-daughters. Between them they now have 15 children. The next daughter had one son, who has 2 sons. Her son has one natural daughter and I'm a bit fuzzy on his step-kids; there are either one or two step-daughters. So...3 first cousins, 3 first cousins once removed, 4 or 5 first step-cousins (?) once removed.
   Uncle Bob had two kids, a daughter and son. The daughter has not married; son has one daughter. Tally...2 first cousins, one first cousin once removed.
Total for Mom's side: 9 first cousins, 12 first cousins once removed.

1b. My paternal grandparents were Harold Herbert SHARP and Virginia Corine MELDRUM. They, too, had 6 children. Unfortunately, my Dad had no contact with his family from age 17 on and was unwilling to answer any questions about his family. He even claimed I was named after the state we were living in when I was born (Virginia) rather than admitting that I was named after his mother and/or sister.
   Anyway, based on census and vital records, I believe my Dad's family consisted of the following:
   Older brother Harold, who I believe married but had no children.
   Younger brother Dawes, who has been married at least 4 times and has fathered at least three children, a daughter and two sons. One son has at least one child; I don't know anything about the other two.
   Sister Virginia who I believe was married three times and had one child each by her first two husbands. Each of her kids have been married at least 3 times, according to Texas marriage records online. I have no idea how many kids they've had.
   Younger brother Jack married and had at least one daughter.
   Youngest brother James married and I think had 5 children, 3 of whom had at least one child each.
Total for Dad's side based on limited information: 11 first cousins and no telling how many first cousins once removed.

skipping to #4: I am pretty close with several of my cousins on my mother's side and with my one surviving uncle, even though we live half a continent apart. I try to get back to my mother's home town in the Ozarks every year, primarily to visit cousins, but also to do research. None of the family actually lives there any more, but the extended family still has a couple of houses in the town. I think of Weaubleau as more "home" than anyplace my family actually lived.
   I've never met anyone on my father's side of the family. My Dad died at age 60 and his mother survived him. When she died without a will, his family tracked my mother down through the V.A. and one brother, Dawes (who I think is still alive) came and visited her. However, she didn't mention this to me and I didn't discover the sheet of "family notes" Dawes had given her until after Mom died in 1996. I was able to track my aunt Virginia down--who assured me I was named after her, not their mother--but would not share any family information with me. I found an address for Dawes and sent him 2 packages of family history information and a couple of short notes, but never got a response. I guess I should try to track down some of my Sharp first cousins, but Texas is a long way from Seattle and I'm really not sure what I have in common with any of them. Someone posted a Sharp family tree on Ancestry a couple of years ago that includes this line, but is has since been taken down. I tried 3 times to contact the "owner" of this tree, but never got a response.

Funny I hadn't noticed until writing this blog post that both of my parents were the second children of six. Mom's siblings were more spread out than Dad's, from 1915 to 1932 versus 1916 to 1926. But from all I can tell, my Mother's family was much closer knit, though further spread out geographically, than Dad's. All of his siblings stayed in south Texas; none of Mom's family stayed very close to home.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

SNGF: My "Real Life" outside genealogy

Tonight's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun challenge posted by Randy Seaver is to write a blog post about our "real life" hobbies and interests outside of genealogy and family history activities.

I'm not sure I'm up to this challenge, but will try.

1. My husband and I like to travel. He prefers cruise ships and driving trips; I'm generally up for going just about anywhere just about any time. If we're driving, I can usually squeeze in some genealogy research or at least snap some courthouse pictures. I have a "thing" for old courthouses. ;-> Many of our driving trips end up being to the Minneapolis area, where our daughter lives. And every year we drive to/from Arizona where we "snowbird" to avoid the cold and wet of Seattle's winters.

2. I love sports. Since I'm too decrepit to play them any more, I watch on TV or in person. I'm an avid volleyball fan and have had season's tickets to the University of Washington volleyball program since they started selling them. We used to be part of a season ticket cartel to Seattle Mariners baseball, but that group fell apart a couple of years ago and now I'm lucky to get to one or two games a year, but did finally make it to a spring training game this winter. And, of course, after almost 40 years in Seattle, I'm a Seahawks fan. Everybody in Seattle is, at least this year!

3. Since retiring in 2006 I've taken up quilting and absolutely love the feeling of creating new pieces. I haven't yet managed to combine quilting and genealogy, but that's coming.

4. I like to garden and have our yard looking nice. I've gotten into saving seeds from year to year and starting all our tomatoes and some flowers from seed. As I get older, I have trouble with the acidity of most tomatoes, so this has become a necessity. Unfortunately, we're often traveling in the fall when our tomatoes finally get ripe, so we miss the fruits of my labors.

5. I read lots of mysteries. I have a fairly long list of authors that I check for new offerings from every 3-4 weeks through our local public library. Many years ago, I made a conscious effort to diversify my mystery reading geographically and love reading mysteries set in locales I've visited. Examples: Mary Daheim (Seattle area), Joan Hess (Ozarks), Jess Lourey & Monica Ferris (Minnesota), Susan Wittig Albert (Texas & Mississippi), Earlene Fowler (Calif. coast), J A Jance (Seattle & Arizona). In the last few years, I've sought out mysteries related to quilting and sewing. It's amazing how many fun stories there are out there!

6. And, of course, I love spending time with friends and relatives. We're still waiting for grandkids, but do have two wonderful kids and a host of friends, most living close by. My "neighborhood" bridge group of 25+ years has diversified in the past few years, but over half of our members still live within 10 blocks of us.

Probably not a very exciting life by most standards, but it works for me!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Easter Memories

I'm a day late writing this because I couldn't decide whether to post about Easter or not.
I remember family Easter egg hunts in our house--the eggs hidden in the "holes" in our bamboo furniture we brought from Japan.
When we still lived at Vint Hill Farms, Virginia, I have a vague recollection (perhaps from a photo?) of getting all dressed up on Easter Sunday, my sister and I usually dressed in matching outfits, and going off to church on the Army base where we lived. I'm sure there must have been a big post-wide egg hunt, but I don't remember them.
As our children were growing up, we did the egg dying and hiding of both "real" egg and plastic eggs stuffed with candy and coins. Those hunts were almost always inside, thanks to the early spring weather in Seattle. But the kids loved them.
But my fondest Easter memories were when I was growing up in State College, PA. I don't remember exactly when I joined St. Paul's United Methodist Church and the church choir, but I looked forward much of the year to the annual Easter sunrise service on the steps of Old Main.  Old Main is the original administration building for Penn State University and is basically across the street from our church, which was on College Avenue, the street that separated "town and gown" in State College.
For Easter, there was always a brass band at the top of the stairs, between the columns and in front of the building's doors. Our youth choir was usually right in front of them, or to the sides. I so loved hearing the clear brass tones ring out, echoing under the overhang, and watching the sun come up. Luckily I've forgotten the Easters when the weather was cold and snowy or rainy.
After the sunrise service, we would all go over to the church for breakfast, then sing for one or two more services. Most of my best friends were in the choir with me, so we always had a good time.
I've never found a similar service here in Seattle. A couple of years ago a cousin and I attended Easter sunrise service in Weaubleau, Missouri, but it was held inside the church. How useless is that? You couldn't see the sun come up!