11 April 2010

Ancestor Approved Award Nomination

The Ancestor Approved Award was created by Leslie Ann Ballou At Ancestors Live Here. There are two criteria. 1. Recipients should write 10 surprising, humbling, or enlightening aspects of their research. 2. Recipients are to forward the award to 10 more blogs that are "doing their ancestors proud."

My nomination was forwarded by MHD and her GreatGreats blog. Being new at blogging I am humbled to be selected for the nomination by a fellow genealogist.

Having researched for 40+ plus years writing about 10 aspects of research should be easy. But as I sit here my mind is churning with many different ideas. My answers may be a little longer than most and I apologize if I get wordy.

1. I am humbled and enlightened to have researched long enough to see so many changes in research techniques. But at the same time it saddens me a bit. When I first began researching, libraries had very few microfilm readers and few had "genealogy rooms" specifically geared for our needs. Thus to find a specific item you might have to travel many miles to locate what you needed for a quest. Along the way I saw and visited many fine repositories to find items I now see with a click of the button. Today our younger researchers do more and more armchair research and may never experience browsing these wonderful places nor have the stories that were involved in those treks. I hope they are able to experience the thrill of holding an original document in the dusty attic of an unorganized courthouse.

Census records rarely had been indexed. Thus a person must hand crank the readers. But the benefit of viewing every page of a county was the knowledge base you acquired of the many families that surrounded your ancestor. On the other hand how enlightening to be able to "plug in" a name today and find those cousins that moved away from the family unit in just a few brief moments.

2. I am humbled to have learned of my great grandfather [Edward] Leopord Feyler's background. He came to America leaving his Jewish family in Hungary. European research finally led me on a quest to find Cousin Hajnalka Feiler Richter's family and how she, her husband and in laws had been marched to the trains and then died at Auschwitz. In the same moment of tears, our family was reunited with one of her sons that had survived. And what a joy to communicate with his grandson who speaks English. My emotions ran high then and do now. I sat reliving that moment when I recently watched Lisa Kudrow in her appearance on Who Do You Think You Are. May we never forget!
And what a joyous surprise when I found my grandfather's name on the Hungarian memorial card of his great grandfather in Budapest - when he had never been to Budapest. Thank you FamilySearch Labs!

Over the years I have been tagged the CSI lady [Cemetery Scene Investigator] and simply the "Cemetery Lady." I have cataloged cemeteries in New Jersey, Ohio and my wonderful Eastern Kentucky. My husband and I have repaired dozens of stones. I have bonded with many other cemetery trompers. The memories are wonderful. But when my husband and I inherited trusteeship of our own community cemetery I was and am humbled beyond words. I am humbled even more every time we have a country burial or here the bugle blow at a military service at the top of our hill. The love of family and friends in Eastern Kentucky is unlike any where else on earth. This is truly God's country and to quote my father, God's Plan.

4. The definition of Serendipity is the effect by which one accidentally stumbles upon something fortunate, especially while looking for something unrelated. I believe that everything happens for a reason and a season. Thus during my time as a genealogy librarian I saw many Serendipity moments, but none so surprising as the day two 1/2 sisters came from two different states searching for answers and sat down at the same table without knowing the other. As they worked side by side they began to chat and the reality on their faces was amazing. As the day settled down I looked around the room. There were five empty tables but these two ladies sat down together at the same table. Had it happened any other way would they have met?

5. Clues and documents come from many different places. But I was never more surprised and overjoyed than the day I shook the filth and dirt off the Memorial written 7 November 1877 by the Neal Valley Grange #1340 to honor the death of Marcus Sexton 21 October 1877. It was buried under piles of garbage and filth in an old smokehouse on the family property in Boyd County, Kentucky. I had spent an entire summer going through papers and killing silver fish and was down to the floor when my husband and a friend suggested literally scraping the dirt at the bottom with a shovel. It came up in one piece and little damage. It has led me on a quest to learn more about Kentucky Granges. If anyone can pinpoint the Neal Valley Grange in Eastern Kentucky I will add you to the list of things that surprise and delight me!

6. Marcus Sexton and his wife are buried in Klaiber Cemetery. We have lovingly cared for their graves for many years. What a surprise when I found a very small newspaper clipping that he had been exhumed from another location when his wife died and brought by wagon to our cemetery for his final resting place.

7. I am humbled by those in the genealogy world that take their time to thank each other and share their work. I have never been so delighted than when recently, Marian Stromberg steered me toward a newly discovered 1625 Virginia Company letter written by my ancestor Robert Addams. I had shut the book on his research in 2004 & had not come back to it since then. The letter was discovered in 2005. I have shared my experience when visiting Martin's Hundred during Hume's execavations and the rest of my research notes with her as well. The letter is so enlightening. I am so honored to say this gentleman was one of my ancestors and the struggle these people went through so that I can say proudly I am an American.

8. I was humbled and enlightened to participate in the Veterans History Project with the Library of Congress with the American Folklife Center. The men and women that served and do serve for our Nation as our Military are amazing. The World War II and VietNam veterans who sat down with me for interviews are all heroes. Many said that they were telling me things they had never shared before and were thankful to finally record their story. All touched me deeply. I am blessed that my own father published two books about the CBI and the courage of all those that flew the Hump with him. It was his legacy to me, his grandchildren and his great grandchildren. May we all learn from the "greatest generation."

9. I remember the surprise I felt and the joy of holding the bible that had been retrieved from the estate sale trash bin by a caring friend. The back and front were gone and the pages tattered. With the overwhelming chore of cleaning out the family home my aunt and mother had mistaken it as just a damaged book not worth keeping. Inside its pages lay the wonderful history of my maternal grandmother's Halterman heritage. I showed it to my paternal grandmother who opened the door to the world of genealogy to me. I will always hold dear the memories and shared discoveries I had with her. She was a colorful lady, ahead of her time who's love was unconditional. Thank you Clara Page Geer Martin.

10. I am so humbled when my tiny grand daughter asks me who the people are that look out at her from picture frames within our family home. While the question may be fleeting as she scampers off I hold onto the thread that someone else will take time to follow the journey our ancestors followed. I was totally surprised and thrilled as 15 year old Taylor Tackett [Klaiber Descendant] stood by the stone of her 4th great grandmother this past weekend and jumped with glee saying "I know her! I read about her in the book." [She was referencing a now out of print book Klaiber Cousins that I wrote many years ago.] She truly makes my journey worth every minute.

Reading back over the 10 items I note how many times I have used the word humbled. Every time I work with a patron, client, family member or fellow genealogists, I learn something new and valuable. Every time I follow the paths of my ancestors I learn valuable lessons. Thank you Leslie and MHD for this exercise.

Criteria #2 won't be hard. There are so many wonderful genealogy blogs that share information.

  1. Eastern Kentucky And the Civil War
  2. 14th Kentucky Infantry
  3. The Jewish Graveyard Rabbit
  4. Appalachian Aristocracy
  5. Tracing the Tribe
  6. family Bibles
  7. A Genealogists Sketchbook
  8. Arlene Eakle's Kentucky Blog
  9. Greenbrier Valley Graveyards
  10. Ohio's Yesterdays


  1. Teresa,
    I enjoyed reading through your top ten list. There were some very poignant reminders of why this research is so invaluable and rewarding. ...And your mention of serendipity, really hit the nail on the head. Especially before there were online message boards, etc. (when one needed to scour the queries pages of local Gene Soc. newsletters to make research connections), a lot of research connections were made quite by luck; or, one researcher saying to another..."I know someone who is working on that family." It is so heartening when one sees the sparked interest of a young, budding family historian. As you said, it's comforting to know that our ancestor's journeys will live on.
    At age 16 (1986), I was a newbie, just getting my feet wet in Cambridge, Ohio, research. I will always be thankful to you and Lois Bell of the Finley Room at the Cambridge Public Library. Even though you both had your own work to do: -that summer, countless times, you two took the time to guide me in my fledgling research. A couple of years later, we corresponded briefly (me asking you yet another question about methodology), and you asked me how my research was going. That really made an impact on me.

    Thanks for being the kind of family historian who we all aspire to be.

    Best regards,
    Andrew Miller, Columbus, Ohio

  2. Andrew thank you for sharing your story. You have lit up my world! May you enjoy your journey as much as I have mine.

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