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Drive-by posting: new hobby!
Ancestry.com is addictive, my friends. I'm just saying.

Since I'm the Carrier of Family Information for my generation--my cousins can't be bothered, and anyway I'm the only one who grew up hearing all the "old people's" stories--I thought over the weekend, hey, it's spring break, so let's see whether this ancestry.com thing can help me organize what I know.

So far, I've planted 289 people in the family tree, and that's just with two days of dinking around. I can see where the most irritating dead ends are: my father's paternal grandmother Sara Josephine (I think I don't have the right spelling of her maiden name) and Great-Aunt Bird on my mother's side. Those are two of the women with the most colorful lives, too, at least according to Mom the Teller of Stories . . . so it will be interesting to see whether I can attach any records to them over time.

In the fourth generation back, I've connected six people to their birthplaces in Paris, Alsace, and Londonderry. I have years of arrival in the US for four of my second-great grandparents. I'm beginning to see just how many cousin marriages happened on Dad's mother's side of the family, which, er, explains some things. ;-)

Thanks to the very helpful administrator of the Congregation of St. Joseph's convent in Wichita, who answered my e-mail lickety-split, I also have dates and details about my father's maternal aunt, Sister Hilda (nee Josephine). I knew that she was a cook and general skivvy in the convent, but never knew when she entered or where she was sent at various times during her life as a nun. Plus, the convent sent me a picture!

And there are the makings of an interesting tale in these facts:
Thomas William Patton (or Patten) and Mary Ann Thompson embarked from Londonderry on the same ship. They arrived in Wilmington, Delaware on May 27, 1833, when he was 25 and she was 23. They married in Philadelphia on August 25, 1836. Were they sweethearts at home in Ireland, or did they meet on the passage over? There's a sliver of evidence that Mary Ann came from Coldaff, while Thomas had lived in Londonderry town itself; I like the idea that they first struck up an acquaintance on the ship, then kept in touch once they landed in the strange new country, whereupon acquaintance led to marriage. Their first daughter was born in Philadelphia, but after that they drifted west to Ohio and in a few years to Missouri, where they spent the rest of their lives. They had eight children and raised six to adulthood; their youngest son was my father's paternal grandfather. Both Tom and Mary Ann lived to ripe old ages: he died in 1889, she in 1891.

Fun stuff.

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Oooooyeah. Mom (who was a convert when she married Dad) remembered helping other parish women to clean the nuns' house in the 1950s, and being appalled by the heavy, stiff clothes hanging in the cupboards.

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My favorite discovery about Bird so far: in the 1915 state census, at the age of 23, she pops up under a new surname as head of a household that includes her mother, her brother, and her toddler son. Nobody in the family has ever had a clue where she found first-name-unknown Holt, little Jimmie's father, or whether she actually married him; she wouldn't talk about him. It seems very like her that she was in charge of that household, not giving up even nominal head status to her brother or mother.

By 1920 she was (re?)married to mom's Uncle Buck . . . yes, they were Buck and Bird their whole lives, though their official names were Harvey and Mattie.

That is very cool. The personal touches are the best.

I've tried over the years, even went to that place on Santa Monica Blvd...but it seems all I can find corresponds to what I already know. At least seeing the census records there was interesting. Part of those on my mother's side had a farm in your neck of the prairie. It's hard though because no one else on either side really has done much in looking, and I have a weird gap on my father's side.

The easiest to find out was about the Howes, who founded Manchester College in Indiana. Seems the founder, David Howe, was a direct decendent of Ethan Allen according to the half obituary I have, yet I can not link the two. But at least I have photos and information about the Howes (there was even a book but way out of print).

I tried using Ancestry.com a long time ago. Sounds like it has more info now? Do they charge to use it?

I think it's great, gives one a lot of satisfaction and a sense of place when it works. Lol, I was just thinking, I wonder if a few of my ancestors knew yours?

One of my best friends in graduate school got her undergraduate degree from Manchester College!! How cool that you're related to the Howes.

I'm fairly impressed with Ancestry.com--they have a good range of census information, with actual scans (not just transcriptions, which of course vary in accuracy). Unfortunately, they do charge after the two-week free trial period, but even for a whole year it's a lot less than doll money, so I think I'm signing on for a year and seeing what happens.

I wouldn't be a bit surprised if somebody on your side was a neighbor to somebody on my side!

Yup, they were grandmother and her father and his father. It was funny that I ended up living next to University of La Verne and meeting the daughter of one of the heads there. She gave me a song book from Manchester. That part of the family was extremely musically inclined so there were songs written by them.

And thank you regarding the sweaters! It's about time I bought my Yui something nice to wear. I think I forget about her because she's the only one in her size. It's bad too that I wish the other sweater was my size. Now this gives me more incentive to clear out the hallway space for them. Fun part of moving to a new place, putting stuff away. Thanks again!

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