Sunday, April 20, 2014

Blessings Come to Those Who Endure

This week has been very challenging for me and our family, but in the end we received wonderful blessings as we endure to the end. The particular ending for us is my mother's estate probate and especially the removal of her accumulations and collections of almost eighty years. Growing up in the depression and losing almost everything her family had before moving to Oregon, she dearly treasured all her many special items gathered over the years. Her home was not cluttered, but discretely organized so she could enjoy her things.

When our mother remarried after our father's death, her new husband took great pride in the estate he now held with her. Over the next twenty-two years she continued to pay for the taxes and other expenses to the home and property she built with our father. To protect the estate for her four children she wrote a new will a year after this marriage, leaving us the home and all of her personal possessions. In the end we have now received about half of those things.

Some of the most significant things that we received are her journals covering fifteen years and her calendars covering twenty-two years of her life. We are still missing her journal for 2013 and her calendars for 2012 and 2013. They are known to exist for they have been viewed by various family members since her death. The family picture albums provide wonderful memories and make up for the loss of her computer which was destroyed, and the pictures that were only stored there. We received the files of family affairs over the years and many of our mothers personal papers were found in her desk.

We have been able to enter her home four times to remove items of sentimental value for our family and now have possession of many of them. She provided an inventory of her household items and keepsakes that she had before her second marriage. We grew up with these items and are very pleased to keep them within our family. The items kept by her husband were mostly those they purchased and many of them came from garage sales, including a collection of beanie babies and several collections of trains. He kept her bedroom set, kitchen table and chairs, three end tables, a safe, a rocking chair, two wrought iron stands, some lamps, her jewelry cabinet, two wood earring holders that are listed in her original inventory.

Her husband had first choice in everything and repackaged most of her things in boxes before we arrived, so there may be things missing we are unaware of. It is obvious that our mother's finer jewelry, her rings from our father, our parent's guns, a silver tri-fold picture frame from my family, the gumball machine, the old slot machine, her thirty porcelain dolls and about sixty ceramic Christmas houses, many of which she painted for specific families and individuals, are missing. He also admitted to taking her antique hurricane lamp with a rose pattern and her wash stand and pitcher with bowl and promised to return them, but never has.

The items found in the pole barn/shop and red barn have not been accounted for. He has removed many things from these and my two brothers are aware of what is gone. These areas were not really inventoried, but during our third visit everything on the property was photographed and again when we were there this week. It was shocking to return after four months and find that so much was removed, when he had been instructed that nothing was to be removed while we are in probate until I could account for what was taken. The irony is that having gone over his list of sixty-five things that he wanted to take, there was only a short list of about twenty things that we wanted to review and share with him. Of our list of forty things we received all but eighteen.

On this Easter morning we count our blessings for moving along in this process. Surely there are so many things involved in her personal possessions that no one could take everything. Of the items we have, they are to be shared by the extended family. It is with great joy to see the gratitude of those who love our mother, grandmother, and great grandmother. She will forever live on in our lives and having keepsakes from her will be gentle reminders of the great love she has for each one of us. Blessings truly do come to our family as we endure the process of proving her will and honoring her desires in the distribution of her assets. The knowledge that we can someday be together again is the best blessing of all!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Genealogy Reading - Collecting Free Material

Most genealogists are on a budget and ordering genealogy publications from societies is usually limited. Many of us belong to societies that do include ordering the publications of magazines, newsletters and quarterlies from various resources. The main problem with this is that our time in the society research facility is usually restricted to classes we attend or direct research of an ancestral line. We usually do not or are unable to take home with us copies there for member use. Today it seems many societies are removing these publications from their collections as they are out of space and/or the publications may be found online for easier access.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Serendipity at the Cemetery

When first beginning my research in family history, my grandparents and great aunt and uncle took me to Lone Fir Cemetery to show me where the burial sites are for my great great grandmother and some of her children. What was odd at the time is we did not know where her husband was buried. Later in my journey of discovering the family story we returned to this cemetery and went to the office to see what other information they might be able to provide. At that time they were very liberal about sharing the information from the two files on this family.

Sunday, March 23, 2014 - Thinking Outside the Box

Did you ever watch Ken Jennings play on Jeopardy? How did he out think the computer and his competitors? He played seventy-five games and won over $3,000,000. Even playing against the computer "Watson" he held his own though he did not win. Recently another contestant Arthur Chu won almost $300,000 in twelve games. People were upset that he did not play using normally expected strategies, but was able to think outisde the box of ways to play. In today's world one must be mentally prepared to think outside the box and especially the computer box.

Monday, March 10, 2014 and Adapting to Change

This week during a break from tending our granddaughters there were a few minutes to work on some research at In doing so on Thursday, March 6, an odd thing happened. For the first search in my typical fashion using the "Old Search," which was my favorite, the results seemed very much as those of the past. Then when going back to change some of the criteria of the search there appeared suddenly an entirely different type of search results. Although we had been forewarned that the "Old Search" function would disappear, nothing mentally prepared me for encountering the new functions randomly in my every day work.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Blog Posts and the Oscars

Today marked 35,000 post views for this blog. In April will be the five year blogiversary. This is my 250th post and it is amazing the variety of topics that they cover. With seventy followers and many others who are reading, it is an honor to know that there is interest in what is written. Tonight I watched the Oscars, which is not something that I normally would do. It was entertaining and thought provoking.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

New England Books by Roger Thompson

This past year the opportunity to read New England books written by Roger Thompson occurred several times. Roger teaches at the University of East Anglia in England during the school year and often spends time in New England to explore the early settlers. His book, Divided We Stand, Watertown, Massachusetts 1630-1680, is a phenomenal history of a place and time where at least eight of my early ancestral families lived. Even though it only has 201 pages of the actual text, there are an additional 50 pages of end notes. This is followed by an index of ten pages, which does not appear to include the end notes.