Friday, April 30, 2010

One of those good days ... with books.

Yesterday was pretty ideal. I started with my Thursday morning writing buddies at Barnes & Noble; not very productive, but we had good tea and coffee and consoled each other about major revisions happening with our novels. I ate lunch at Jason's Deli at the Shoppes at Friendly. They have a wonderful salad bar, with those giant croutons of buttery crunchy air. Then I hit the annual St. Francis Episcopal Church book sale. Ahhh.

Of course, I started in the vintage book room. They had a 1940 For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway, at a high first edition price. I chatted with the man who was running the room right then, and we both agreed that it probably was not a first edition (I confirmed later that it wasn't). He marked the price down substantially and I took it. He even threw in an extra copy, apparently wanting to get rid of another one in worse condition.

For history, I bought
- a Greensboro coffee table history book because it has two pictures of the Hockett (Hoggatt) family, near cousins of my ancestors.
- a bound volume of Harper's magazine. The cover is in even worse shape than the volume I have, but the pages are good and I figure 1864 will be an interesting year.
- a 1919 pocketguide for trappers (a gift).
- and The Randolph Story, a bound collection from the Randleman Rotary Club that includes their well known booklet about Naomi Wise (a local tale of 19th-century murder).

Here are a few that I just couldn't resist because of the unusual books themselves (vs. content)
- a 1900 history book consisting entirely of illustration plates, most of them in color.
- Ships and Havens, a thin 1898 book with fuzzy felt cover, printed in two colors.
- An illustrated Keepsake Album - an autograph book, containing several handwritten notes to someone named Jennie.
- and a 1939 Bible picture ABC book (Q is for quail ...).

Just for reading I found a Tony Hillerman book that I didn't have and a book about the leper colony on Molokai. After looking and looking, I found several Elizabeth Peters books, including the next one in the Amelia Peabody series that I wanted to read! I also picked up some Russian flash cards and a dictionary of Russian naval terms. Why would I need to know that poo-le-myot is machine gun? Now I see that this neat little book has everything from ranks, to dialogue skits about coming aboard, to polite little letters to write. All in cyrillic.

Time flew by, people were nice - if you mention an author to somebody you've been doh-si-doh-ing around for the last two tables, they'll let you know if they find it. I came home with a heavy crate and a lighter purse, victorious and content.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Thee, or Thou?

A few years ago I met a Quaker man from Atlanta at a historical event, who said something like, "Thee is well?" I thought he was just being quaint and had no idea about grammar. Since then, I've heard other people use "Thee is" - which is grammatically like saying "Me am going to the store." I've heard it in movies, and I just read a historian who wrote that thee replaced thou in America by the end of the 18th century.

But it didn't, in my part of the Quaker world.

In my and my parents' generation, we have used "you" in everyday conversation. I didn't realize until I grew up and moved away, and someone asked me to say the blessing before a meal, that we still used "thou" in all of our prayers. Daily prayers, Sunday morning prayers and the prevalence of the King James Bible were enough for us to absorb the correct grammar, including "thou art." It's not just my family. Last year a Quaker friend of mine from another N.C. county used thou and thee for a full 10 minutes of conversation, just for fun.

So, I'm confused. Even non-Quakers know "Thou shalt not kill. Thou shalt not ..." etc. Why would a group of people who read the King James Bible - like everybody else until the late 20th century - throw out both biblical and secular grammar and make up their own? Is it regional? Are we in Piedmont North Carolina the only Quakers who kept correct grammar? Or is it just a myth, a bad stereotype, that anybody uses "thee is"?

I'd really like to hear from people who grew up with thee or thou, even if you heard it from your grandparents or an old pastor or neighbor. Please include the region where you lived.

Note: "Thee" is correct as an object, just like "me." If people speak correct grammar, you'll hear both thou (a subject, like I) and thee (object, like me). The incorrect grammar is to use thee for every use.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

The English family

I've added a new page, with a link at the top of this blog, with basic family tree information for the ENGLISH family. It's "under construction" - I'm not sure if I will add any more in the near future, but I may eventually add names all the way down to me, about 10 generations down from the Thomas English who first moved to Ireland.

One of my pet peeves is the inaccuracies perpetuated by people who don't understand the calendar that Quakers of this era used - fodder for a future post. For now, I'll just say that I've translated the dates into our modern calendar so that people who use this information won't make those mistakes.

Anyone who does 18th-century or earlier genealogy, please, please write down the dates exactly as you find them, using numbers and not words (1st month does not equal January). Thanks.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Reading between the lines in old records

Context is everything.

I'm indexing the men's meeting minutes of Moate Meeting (Quaker) in Ireland. I was working on 1753 tonight when I ran across the entry, that I'd found before, in which my ancestor Joshua English requested a certificate from the meeting to take with him to America. You can imagine how excited I was when I first saw this 1753 record!

4th mon: the 22
Joshua English haveing signified to some of this meeting his Intention of removeing with his family to some part of America and requesting a Certificate from friends of this meeting to friends (there) which, Upon Consideration how he and his family Stand as to Unity with friends it was Concluded that Such a Certificate as friends Could Safely give shoulde be (written) Up for him and brought to this meeting for aprobation which being done Now read approved and Signed John Robinson is appointed to record them in the proper booke and return acct thereof to next meeting.

Tonight, I read it again, knowing now that he and his family had been disowned around 1751, because of his daughter's running out and getting married by a priest. I had assumed that he had written a letter of apology and been taken back into the membership, because he had protested the whole time that he didn't allow the marriage. But the phrases "Upon Consideration how he and his family Stand as to Unity with friends" and "Such a Certificate as friends Could Safely give," added to the fact that he had asked through a friend and not attended the meeting himself, makes me think that he had not been accepted back into the meeting. 'Makes me a little sad for Joshua.

I've been unable to find the certificate they wrote, so far. I have a serious hope that it's in another record book, which is full of letters that are out of order. Unfortunately, they've never been indexed, and I don't have access to the book right now. I doubt I will find the letter before my book about the English family is finished. I do know that the letter was a good one, because it earned Joshua the "bounty" given to immigrants of good character when he arrived in South Carolina.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Treasure Chest Thursday - Girl of the Limberlost

I walked into the room and recognized the old book, which had no words on its cloth cover, before I even set my things down. "That looks like Girl of the Limberlost!" I said.

My sister nodded. "It is. I thought you would take good care of it."

Let me explain how sweet this was. The 1909 edition had been given to our mother when she was a teenager; it was inscribed to her in 1944. She had read it and, many years later, my sister had read it. My mom was not a bibliophile like us (Daddy was); she just didn't read novels. The headboard of Mom's bed had a built-in bookshelf, and this was one of the few books, along with the family Bible, that lived there forever. And since it was always there, I came along (a few years later) and read it, too.

Oh, the book is nice - both old and sentimental. But my sister is the treasure.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Indexing the Moate Meeting minutes

What fun, to come home and check the mailbox and find international mail!

During my trip to Ireland, I agreed to index the early records of the Moate Meeting (Quaker), specifically, minutes of the men's meeting in the 17th and 18th centuries (the women's minutes don't exist until later). It's a win-win deal: the Historical Library gets a volunteer indexer, and I get to find more records about my family than I could possibly have read during my trip. I started in 1742 and I'm about a third of the way through the first set.

The package I got this week has more records, through 1792! At first I was excited, then realized that my family (Joshua) left in 1753. I was hoping for the earlier records, or copies from a different book full of un-indexed letters. But, the reward for good work is more work. And, I thought, maybe I will find out what happened to Joshua's brothers. Regardless, I'm honored to have the job.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Ancestor Approved award

Thanks to Rootdigger for honoring Travels with Books with the Ancestor Approved award!

The Ancestor Approved Award asks that the recipient list ten things you have learned about any of your ancestors that has surprised, humbled, or enlightened you and pass the award along to ten other bloggers who you feel are doing their ancestors proud. Here are the 10 things I have learned from my ancestors.

1. Surprised to learn that my ancestor Joshua English had another brother, Thomas. Fellow researchers (and I) had thought Thomas died as a baby because of a confusion with his father Thomas' death.

2. I thought I would never learn why my distant aunt, Elizabeth, never married even though outnumbered by men in a colonial settlement. I was astounded to find out that she had run away and married at a very young age (about 15 in 1751) before immigrating; and humbled that she probably spent the rest of her life not knowing if her estranged husband were alive or dead.

3. Delighted to get a copy of a photograph of my great-great-grandmother, Armecia White English, wearing her Quaker bonnet. I'm just a couple of generations away from that traditional garb.

4. Both humbled and proud, if that makes any sense, that I grew up with Quaker heritage and in the English family, because the odds are against it. There was just one son (among daughters) who died at 34, who had one son who died at 40, and one of his sons immigrated to S.C., and only one of his sons (out of 4) did not leave the Quakers, and so on.

5. That son in S.C., Thomas English, kept his peace testimony through the Revolutionary War, even though all of his brothers decided to fight.

6. Humbled at how the women in our Maness family perservered all alone. At 16, my g-g-grandmother had her only child after her husband left forever. Her mother outlived two husbands. And her little sister was later widowed with nine children (she remarried). These women stuck together and survived and reared their children.

7. Humbled at how hard some people have it. A Wall cousin in Missouri lost his wife and baby within two months. He may have lost an earlier wife, but I'm not sure. He had a stroke later in life and died in a nursing home.

8. Happy to break through a brick wall when I finally found my g-g-grandfather William Lassiter's parents. Apparently he was so much older than my g-g-grandmother that nobody in the family knew enough about him to fill out his death certificate.

9. My family was surprised when I told them about Uncle Wiley Wall (1851-1942) and his family in Missouri. Apparently he had visited N.C. so often, probably by train, that they thought he had always lived here.

10. Humbled by how nice people are: like the librarians and archivists in Ireland who helped me with copies, the couple who picked me up and opened the library for an extra day's research, and the lady who let me see inside her house because my relatives once lived there.

Here are my ten picks for Ancestor Approved blogs:

Amy Coffin's We Tree
Tonia Kendrick's Tonia's Roots
Trent Briles' Briles Information Network
Tina Lyons' Gen Wish List
Jennifer Hudson Taylor's Carolina Scots-Irish Blog
Craig Manson's GeneaBlogie
Deborah Large Fox's Irish Family Research site
Julie Cahill Tarr's GenBlog

I don't know if these bloggers' will accept because of their format, but I really enjoy
Loretta and Susan's Two Nerdy History Girls
and Maureen A. Taylor's Photo Detective

2010 Goals - How are we doing?

Last year started off so hectic I didn't even write down goals until June. This year, I started thinking about them in January, but tweaked them for a month. And the tweaking continues.

Things I want to do in 2010 (priorities are in blue)
1. Finish novel: write missing scenes, fix timeline and facts, add descriptions and background, and revise and edit.
Thanks to my nanowrimo friends, I work on this at least once a week. I've added lots of the missing scenes, but I feel overwhelmed at all the other things I still need to do before I even let anybody read it.

2. Declutter. Hah! Ahem, well...
3. Get published in a magazine.
I sent out my first query in years, but forgot to follow-up when I didn't get a reply.

4. Make a Storybook for a relative who has a big birthday this fall. That includes scanning Daddy's negatives from the 50s and getting names and information.
I haven't even started on this! But I still have months to go.

5. Make a Storybook of my trip to Ireland.
I labeled the photos and made some notes. The good thing is, I have a June deadline to get one of these books done because I have a prepaid certificate. Deadlines are good for me.

6. Index the 18th-century church records from the meeting in Ireland.
I made good progress on this until the past month, about 160 pages done. This also helps with my novel, which is based on the people in the records.

7. Run in a 5K.
This got dropped for schedule conflicts, but now it's back on - in two weeks!

8. Go on a mission trip.
I got to do this in March. We went to Jean Lafitte, Louisiana to build a house for a family still in a FEMA trailer from Hurricane Katrina.

9. Other items: Blog and network (I've done this, but it's very time consuming). Market and sell my first book (Got a review, but haven't done much). Scrapbook back to 2004 (haven't).

I love alliterative goals (inspired by FlyLady). I tried Monday minutes (indexing church records - this went well until last month)
Tuesday tweets (fell by wayside)
Tuesday taxes (very useful. The rest of year, this means business paperwork)
Wednesday walking (in full force)
Wednesday weed-out (decluttering - forgotten)
Friday finances, Freelance Friday and Saturday sales (business) mostly fell by the wayside.
An early "Nine-o'clock Novel" turned into the Morning Write, 1 to 3 days a week.
Sunday scrapbooking/scanning/see people (made progress on visiting older relatives)

Some of these went well, like Monday Minutes, until my work schedule changed, I went away on a trip and then I had meetings every night for three weeks. Hopefully I can get back to my own goals and routines now.

It's Sunday. I'd better start scanning. How are your goals coming along?

Monday, April 05, 2010

Writing tips from 'Roots'

One of my goals for early 2010 was to read Alex Haley's Roots. Since I am writing a multigenerational saga, based on my real ancestors, I may use "like Roots" in my pitch. So I figured I'd better read it. I was also looking for ideas to help me write my book. Here's what I discovered.

- Haley's first generation takes up half the book. I'm going to try to make mine more balanced between my three-plus generations/main characters.

- Over the course of 100 years, main characters are going to die. I was tempted to gloss over that, simply moving to the next MC's story. Haley tells about their deaths (except for the cases where family is separated and doesn't know about it), but doesn't linger. He spends about a page on Chicken George's old age and death.

- I have to use "thee" and "thou" because they're important words in Quaker history. Haley is a master at vernacular. He keeps up the old slang for an entire book. He must have edited over and over! I've been using some other old words, like gaol and plough. But frankly, I don't think I can be consistent with that language through an entire book. Martha Grimes' attempt to write English in one of her mysteries, frequently falling back into American, was an annoying distraction. Now I'm reading The Peaceable Kingdom, which intersperses "thou" into modern American. That may be the best course for me, too.

- Historical families tend to have lots of children, and too many characters can confuse the reader. They also tend to have a lot of the same names! Haley uses summary paragraphs to give the background/genealogical information without confusing the reader. On page 568, he writes, "The eight children grew up, took mates, and had their own children. The fourth son, Tom..." and goes into more detail for the MC. He separates people with the same name with "Little Kizzy" and "Aunt Matilda." I use "Annie" to separate a cousin from my MC, Ann. I keep the names for different generations of MCs, when the older person has died and is not in the picture.

- Haley uses dialogue to tell about historical events; "I heard that - ." If I weren't doing the same thing, I probably wouldn't have noticed. But after a while that method seemed too obvious. I will probably intersperse dialogue history with summary history. Hmm...

Alex Haley is such an inspiration - he changed the world, not only for people of African descent, but for genealogy for everybody.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Adventures in haggis

I don't remember why, now, but I just had to cook some haggis this past week. For the first time.

I had heard of haggis as a scary mixture of animal innards, used almost as a threat in the movies. Several years ago, they had some at a Celtic festival and we decided to bravely give it a try. Now remember, I grew up in rural North Carolina. I took one taste of the dark mush and exclaimed, "This is liver pudding! I grew up on this!"
(Note the word "pudding" and a meat in the same American phrase; there's got to be some Scottish or English heritage here.)

Haggis is now nostalgic, ever since we went to Scotland in 2006 and had it with "neeps and tatties" (mashed potatoes with turnips, like a shepherd's pie) at Edinburgh Castle.

I've always liked liver pudding, which is available in my local stores. But it's made of pork, and I've become more conscious of pork in everything. Why couldn't I make it out of something a little healthier, like beef or venison?

Ingredients. So I bought some beef liver and threw it in the freezer. And last weekend I thawed it, determined to find enough ingredients to try to make haggis. Anybody who knows me well knows that a recipe is just a starting point. I started with the Frugal Gourmet's Our Immigrant Ancestors, but decided not to try to chase down any icky or high-maintenance ingredients, like sheep's stomach or a heart. I did buy lamb, which required going to the grocery store on the other end of town. I knew I would need to steam it all in something, and having just eaten some beef tamales, I hit on the idea of using corn husks - same cooking method, right?

Cooking. I fried the meat instead of boiling it, since I didn't have to bother with the heart. The first problem was that I only had two cornhusks. I had saved some stiff cabbage leaves (idea borrowed from Korean cooking), but I didn't have enough for all the meat. The second problem was that my steamer was just an insert in a saucepan. I had a huge bowl of mixture (from 2 pounds of meat) and only a few wrappers and a little pot! Continuing to improvise, I wrapped some mixture in aluminum foil and formed a meatloaf shape with the rest and baked it.

Results. By now you're probably thinking that I've lost my mind! But it was all an experiment.
Everything that got baked was dry and crumbly. It might could be rescued with water and a shepherd's pie, but baking is not the best.
The steamed portions, both cabbage and cornhusk-wrapped, turned out fine! Next time I'll get more (a bigger cabbage, too), and I'll buy or borrow a steamer.
The recipe had optional gravy, but no guidelines. Frying the meat gave me the drippings to make gravy. But, note to self: gravy with liver in it is not good! It went in the trash.

By the way, the recipe called for Scotch, so I had to buy some. A drizzle on the haggis goes great. But pour it in a glass, and that's some nasty stuff! 'Guess I'm just a bourbon girl.

Tonight, I made mashed potatoes and served it on some leftover haggis, like an individual shepherd's pie. Mmm.

Friday, April 02, 2010

My first ARC assignment

I went on my first disaster relief assignment for the Red Cross today! I started the training a couple of years ago, after Hurricane Katrina. I've half-expected to get a call to pack my bags and leave for somewhere across the country on short notice, but that hasn't happened. Although I've been on many church-sponsored disaster relief trips, I'd started wondering if I'd ever get to help right after the disaster. I finally got the chance - right in my own back yard.

A tornado hit High Point, N.C. last Sunday night and caused a lot of damage on just a few streets (and more in Davidson County). The e-mail for helpers came Thursday (I think the "regulars" must have been working this earlier in the week) and we all showed up this morning. I had trained for assessing damage, but not for casework, so I stayed with the relief van while several teams went out to offer help in the damaged neighborhoods. We admittedly had the easy job, just handing out water once in a while and taking reports from the teams.

The church there fed everybody and they're doing a great job. As a matter of fact, their parking lot was home base for several organizations. 'Nice to see everybody working together - some feeding, some repairing, some collecting clothes and necessities. We had a lot of people walk up and offer to volunteer. Some of them went into the church and may have been put to work, but we had to tell them what they told me years ago: you have to go through the training first.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Shared information will outlive you

Sometimes I worry about how much to post online, especially since I plan to publish a book about one of my family lines. I shouldn't worry. The information I share will outlive me, while most of the things I keep a tight hold on will be lost when I'm gone.

One of my Twitter friends sent out a list of 25 popular genealogy blogs. Fortunately, I decided to check them all out before retweeting. Some were interesting to me, many were not, but the next to last one on the list got my attention. The author was in the U.K., where some of my ancestors lived. But he hadn't posted in months. I thought, why is this the most popular blog when he doesn't write that often? I skimmed the page and saw that he had been a prolific blogger - until December. The last post said he was dialing 999 and going to hospital.

What? I looked, in vain, for anything more recent. Was this another April Fool's joke? Finally, I went back to the 25 list and saw a note that said he had passed away, and the date was a few days after that last post. Oh, and the 25 list was from last year.

I feel so sad, for someone I've never met. It's haunting see Genealogue, Hugh Watkins' web page, and see that last post. But scroll down - there's five and a half years of genealogy searching and tips. Hugh's work is still out there, in cyberspace, to help anyone he can.