Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Saturday, November 27, 2010
This post has been submitted for the 100th Edition for the Carnival of Genealogy subject "There's One In Every Family". The carnival is hosted by Creative Gene.
"There's One in Every Family", or at least, I would hope so. In this case, I'm talking about family portraits. Yes, I would agree that most people dislike having their picture taken and that includes me. Usually the statement, "let's take a family picture" results in moans and eye-rolling. Sometimes, it may even evolve into the gnashing of teeth and ripping of clothing! We may try to avoid it like the plague, but it is interesting to note that when people are asked what items they would try to save from flood or fire, a great many of them would say, "family photographs".
I can say myself that for the past few years while I have been researching my family history, there have been few discoveries that have pleased me more than those that involve the finding of a family photograph.
For example, for years the photo you see above hung upon the wall in my maternal grandparent's home, but I didn't appreciate just how much this picture would mean to me. The Norris family portrait was taken, probably on Christmas Eve, 1962, when I was just a few months old. (I'm on the far right side of the photo, sitting on my father's lap.) It's far from the "perfect" shot my professional photographer husband would be happy with, but to me it is priceless. Sure, my mother is looking away from the camera, as is one of my cousins, but this precious portrait offers a glimpse into a very special time in the life of my mother's family. My grandparents are obviously thrilled to have all their children and most of their grandchildren present with them on a happy holiday evening. The children, excited to be with cousins and anticipating the presents that await them, are clearly enjoying themselves. They may have complained about stopping the festivities for picture taking, but thankfully, they sat down long enough for the photo.
In subsequent years, the family grew larger. Grandchildren married and my grandparents became great grandparents. It became difficult for the entire family to get together. The large events became fewer and far between and sadly, the Christmas Eve dinners came to an end. As always happens in life, family responsibilities change and become more complicated. Children and grandchildren grow up.
After my grandparents passed away, we still tried to have the occasional family reunion, but we seldom took formal family portraits.
As of this writing, eleven people in this photograph are no longer with us. I treasure each and every memory I have of them, and I am grateful that those are many in number. I carry this portrait, and many others, in my heart. I truly hope that when it comes to a family picture such as this, there really is "One in Every Family."
Thursday, November 18, 2010
Aunt Grace Norris Bailey
A Page from the Scrapbook
I thought I knew quite a bit about my Great Aunt Grace. A few years younger than my grandfather, she graduated from college and became a school teacher, eventually being voted into the Kettering (Ohio) Teachers Hall of Fame. She married my Great Uncle, Harrison (Red) Bailey and they built a house on land ajacent to that of my grandparent's. Though they remained childless, they shared their home with their "family"; a beloved succession of bulldogs. Her name was quite fitting for a woman who carried herself with an air of style and elegance. Yes. I thought I knew quite a lot about this woman. That is, until yesterday when my mother brought me a box full of mementos that had belonged to Aunt Grace and I learned something quite surprising. My aunt was a diva.
There in the old box, among the scattered postcards, photographs, and blueprints, I found an old, dusty, ragged scrapbook. Inside were pasted newspaper clippings detailing recitals and appearances where Aunt Grace performed as a singer. The articles called her a "dramatic soprano". Under each clipping Grace had lovingly described the event, listed the songs performed, and even detailed what she had worn, such as "a peach taffeta dress" and "an orchid chiffon". Even though my mother remembered her aunt singing in church occasionally, she had no idea of the scope of her singing career and we were both surprised as we read of her accomplishments. Several pages into the book, on the side of the page she wrote, "been having a terrible time with my throat this winter so haven't been able to do much. Don't know if it will ever get better." On the following pages there are a few other clippings and then underneath a church program she wrote, "Solo at church one evening. Got through it all right, but don't know how it sounded to listeners". Then, on the page following the clipping that I have attached to this post, she wrote "Ralph Thomas gave another recital on June 2. He was quite angry that I did not sing but finances said NO! and so did Dr. Sullivan, my nerves are very bad. This Fall I hope to study earnestly - I can notice my voice is getting rusty."
After this, the scrapbook ends. Did her voice fail her? Was this the reason why her career went no further? Was this when she decided to become a teacher? How I wish I had known about this portion of her life! How I wish she was here now to answers these questions and so many more! I am very grateful that she never threw this scrapbook away and I wonder if there were times when she opened the book to remember those days. The box has revealed many treasures that I will share in the future, but I had to begin with this discovery and the revelation that my Aunt Grace was a diva!
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
For today's Wordless Wednesday I have chose this photograph of my paternal grandmother, Imogene Christine Huffman Shoemaker (in pigtails), seated between her paternal grandmother, Nancy Johnson Huffman and her sister, Lavonne Huffman Jackson, circa 1910, Clinton County, Ohio.
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
Wednesday, November 3, 2010
My great grandfather, Harry Norris, holds my grandfather, Leland. Standing next to him is his wife, Elizabeth Routsong Norris. Surrounding them is Elizabeth's family, the Routsongs. Unfortunately, the family members are not identified.
Dayton, Ohio, circa 1899
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
While visiting David's Cemetery in Kettering during the summer, I discovered the following gravesite that I had to photograph. It belongs to T/Sgt William H. Freeman, Jr.. The inscription reads "He Gave His Life That Others Might Live", "Missing in Action at Myikyina, Burma". I decided to do some further investigation and here is what I discovered.
William H. Freeman, Jr. belonged to the 5307th Composite Unit. His date of death is listed as 10 November, 1945, but his last status was "Missing". He was awared the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star.
Source Information: National Archives and Records Administration, World War II and Korean Conflict Veterans Interred Overseas (database online). Provo UT, Ancestry.com Operations Inc. 2000:
Original data: National Archives and Records Administration. Register, World War II Dead Interred in American Military Cemeteries on Foreign Soil and World War II and Korea Missing or Lost or Buried at Sea. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration.:
According to the 1930 United States Census, William was living on Constance Ave., in an area of Van Buren Township known as "Southern Hills", along with his parents William H. and Mabel Freeman. His father is listed as being a public accountant. It appears that the 5 year old William, Jr. was an only child at this time.
I couldn't help but think that he may have been friends with my Uncles Don and Ed, who both entered World War II shortly after their high school graduations. I searched the Fairmont High School yearbook from 1943, but he did not appear. He may have graduated the year before, or even perhaps left school to serve his country.
I am thankful that his family chose to inscribe the information about William's sacrifice to his country so that those of us who passed by his resting place could stop and give thanks for his service.