Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Love of My Life

As I prepare to decorate many graves of loved ones, I am mindful of one special person who was in my life.  The final resting places of our ancestors are special. 

My dearest husband ...
As I decorate your grave this first Memorial Day after your death, I am mindful of how quickly this first year has gone.  Day by day after you left me, I thought the days could not be any longer.  They passed so slowly and each step I took seemed painfully sluggish.  What was I supposed to do with my life?  An empty life without you in it.  It was a life that I had known for almost forty-six years with you, by my side, in my arms, my thoughts and in my waking and sleeping moments.  Now as quickly as I could blink my eyes, you were gone from me. 

Four days before your death, you told me that I should resume my genealogical research, my passion for genealogy, my writing, teaching and lecturing.  You knew that you were not going to be with me much longer.  I had cared for you for three years.  We cried together, laughed together and prayed together.  After you left, I knew each day that I must return to my genealogy.  I knew you were proud of me and my work.  Each day I grew stronger and more secure in what I was doing.  

There is not a day that goes by when I am researching ancestors, mine and those of others, that I do not think of you.  All the memories of our life together come rushing back.  Like a surge of energy, I know you are here guiding and encouraging me.  You will always be here in my heart, my mind and soul.  I know you are with the ages and those wonderful ancestors and relatives who paved the way for us and our life together.  

You are still the love of my life!   .... Ruby 

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Genealogy Conferences

I went to a genealogy conference and found my family tree!  Not exactly, but the Nebraska State Genealogical Society Conference held May 1-3 in Lincoln, Nebraska was rewarding and fun.   The featured speaker, Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak was excellent.  Be sure you take in her lectures if you are where she is lecturing.  

While I did not find my family tree, I did find information to assist me with my research.  That is also the fun of attending a conference.  My sister-in-law and I planned our conference trip to go to cemeteries, libraries and archives ... no courthouses on this trip.  I created a notebook with directions, including which exits to take, back roads that would get us to cemeteries along with the hours and directions to the libraries and archives.  This is easy to do with Google Maps.  I drove and she directed!  

At Topeka, Kansas we visited the Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library.  Unfortunately the day we selected for research was the day the Kansas Historical Society was closed.  The public library made up for it.  On the second floor, they have a very inviting genealogy section which includes state of the art equipment, moving shelves and a Victorian appearing Topeka room for research.  It's not huge, but comprehensive with a lot of good books and maps, plus more.  If you are passing through Kansas, take a jaunt to the library ... you will be glad that you did. 

Conferences also mean laughing, telling a year's worth of genealogy stories, meeting old friends and making new friends.  I enjoy being around people who speak my language which is the language of genealogy.  

For those of you following my blog along with that of my daughter, Growing up Genealogy, you will be interested in knowing that my car was full in the back seat, trunk and around my sister-in-law's feet in the passenger seat.  I took three bags and she took six.  I took five pair of shoes and wore all of them.  She took five pair of shoes and wore one pair.  By the time we got home we had a lot of purchases in the way of books as well as memoirs from an ancestral home in Nebraska.  The next time we travel together, I'll make certain she leaves half the bags at home! 

Next week I'm heading out again, this time going west and north to do research and decorate graves for Memorial Day.  I may not find my family tree, but I'll have fun trying.  

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Happy Mother's Day Grandma Caroline

It is difficult to pay Mother's Day respects to just one grandmother, particularly since I have so many in my various family files.  However, I have recently visited Grandma Caroline's grave, thus I have selected her for my blog.  The vitals on her are ... Caroline Gettis, born 11 February 1839 in Ohio to Ira Ellis Gettis and Mary "Polly" Daniel; died 20 August 1924 in Beatrice, Gage Co., Nebraska.   She married Jacob Zehrung in 1855 in Tama Co., Iowa.

Her life between the dates is interesting and adds meaning to the family history.  Caroline had thirteen children, the first born when she was almost eighteen years of age and the last when she was almost forty-four years of age.  There were eight girls and five boys and twins (boy and girl) born in 1874.  That qualifies her for being an outstanding mother!  

The Zehrungs lived in Iowa until about 1879 when they moved to Jewell Co., Kansas.  According to family stories they made the journey by wagon, most likely stopping off at places in eastern Nebraska and eastern Kansas to visit relatives.  In 1881 they moved to Harlan Co., Nebraska, where they lived near Ragan.  Some of their older children married in Kansas as well as Harlan Co., Nebraska.  

Jacob took advantage of the Timber Culture Act in Nebraska and left Harlan County in about 1890, going to Sheridan County, NE in the sandhills.  It was there that he died on 15 June 1893.  The land had not been proved up on and Caroline was left with some young children.   Jacob was buried in a country cemetery not far from the land that he owned which was relinquished.  Each year our family decorates his grave.  

In 1969 the son of Caroline's older daughter, Nellie, visited me.  He was elderly, but his memory was sharp.  There would be no written documents to verify his stories, but they were interesting.  When Jacob, Caroline and children (some married and some children) left Harlan Co., Nebraska for the sandhills in Nebraska's panhandle, they went by wagon north to the Dismal River, stopping to visit his brother, David Zehrung.  They followed the river as far as they could to locate the land they would claim.  The prairie was desolate, and while the government wanted settlers to plant trees, it would be next to impossible to grow them in sand.  

Caroline tied young children up to their wagons to keep them from wandering off in the never ending flow of sand.  The older boys hunted wild game and eventually they built a house, most likely from sod.  When Jacob died at age 57, Caroline probably didn't have to think twice about leaving the sandhills of Nebraska.  According to descendants, Jacob's brothers in eastern Nebraska provided the means for her to bring the younger children to Gage Co., Nebraska.  In 1915 Caroline married Aaron Rummerfield.  

With Jacob in the panhandle of Nebraska and Caroline in eastern Nebraska, there were children married and buried in various locations.  Amazingly they stayed in touch through their lives.  My sister-in-law and I had never been to Grandma Caroline's grave until last week.  She is buried in the Evergeen Cemetery in Beatrice, Gage Co., Nebraska.  This year, both she and Jacob have flowers on their grave for Memorial Day.  

Happy Mother's Day, Grandma Caroline ... you were indeed a great mother!