Monday, April 23, 2012

Happy Anniversary to ME!!

I just realized that my blog's one year anniversary was three days ago. It's a little dusty from being put on the shelf, but I have shared a lot of sweet people that I've grown to love as I've learned more about them.

Sporadic Blogging and Life in Progress

I haven't blogged much lately - sorry about that. I have a son who is having some health issues, along with everything else that life throws at a person. I just want to let you know that I'm still doing research, but some things have taken a back seat - one of those is blogging. Meanwhile, I have fabulous family stories floating around in my head for when things calm down - one involves a martyred saint in 16th century England!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A Valentine's Day Proposal

Newlyweds - Eva and Gene

On a crisp Valentine's evening in 1940, two lovers walked hand in hand down an unpaved road towards the Vernal Mill, just outside Vernal, Utah. Near the mill ran a branch off of Ashley Creek, over which a small bridge stood.  This was a favorite spot for the sweethearts. The night was cold and beautiful, and a full moon was rising through the great, leafless branches in Split Mountain Gorge.

This is blurry, but it's cute - the last exposure on their film roll, they took this fun snapshot

Gene and Eva had met seven months earlier, in July of 1939, while walking down the streets of Vernal.  Each walked with two other friends, and as the groups met there were introductions, flirting, and a promise to meet at the dance later that evening.  Vernal had as many as four dances a week at The Imperial Hall, which had the only spring floor west of the Mississippi. Gene's full name was Eugene Victor Rhinehart.  As he walked away, Eva remarked to her friends that if she ever married him and had a little girl, she'd name her Victoria Jeen.

Gene at age 19 (driver's license photo)

Gene was from Cambridge, Ohio, son of Ernest Rhinehart and Goldie Agatha Myers.  He had come to Vernal as part of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), Roosevelt's program to teach young men an occupation, and keep them occupied, during the Great Depression.  Gene was learning how to run heavy construction machinery, which became his lifelong career.  In 1940, Gene was a Clark Gable-esque, well-liked 19-year-old with black, wavy hair and twinkling green eyes. 

Eva, about 1940

Eva was born in Vernal and had lived there all her life.  She was the daughter of James Edwin and Lena May Collier.  At 19, she was beautiful, with brown, curly hair, green eyes, and a slim figure. She was a smart, popular girl, active in dance and sports.

The beautiful couple on their wedding day

As the couple settled on the railing of the bridge that Valentine's night, Gene pulled something out of his pocket - a gold locket with a tiny diamond chip in it.  He carefully clasped it around Eva's neck and asked her to be his bride. They were married four months later on June 14, 1940.  Eva still has that locket today.

Victoria Jeen

Seven years later, Gene and Eva welcomed a baby girl, their second child, into their family.  They named her Victoria Jeen.  That little girl is my mother.

Sunday, February 5, 2012


The prompt for Week #6 of "52 Weeks of Abundant Genealogy" is Family Heirlooms:  For which family heirloom are you most thankful? How did you acquire this treasure and what does it mean to you and your family? A lot of the following is redundant from previous posts, but I've never posted pictures of the actual glassware, and I really can't talk about these two ladies enough!

The beautiful Rosepoint design from the Cambridge Glass Company

When I graduated with my degree in Family History, my sweet grandmother gave me a beautiful set of crystalware that was a wedding gift to her from her mother-in-law, Goldie Agatha Myers Rhinehart Bonnell. Goldie worked for the Cambridge Glass Company working on the beautiful Rosepoint design. When grandma married Gene Rhinehart, my grandfather, Goldie gave her a beautiful set of the Rosepoint crystal. Goldie didn't have an easy life, but she was fiercely dedicated to her children and is one of my favorite people that ever walked the earth. She was never a wealthy woman, but she created this beautiful depression-era glassware and shared it with her new daughter-in-law, who she accepted with open arms into her family.

I had done my undergraduate research on the Rhinehart and Myers families, and Grandma was my moral support, laundress, and cab driver while I was at college, and a window into the world of my grandfather and his family. She introduced me to Patricia Rhinehart Kennon, my grandpa's last living sibling, told me stories about the family and their personalities, and provided a wonderful collection of photos and memories.  She regularly drove down to Provo, picked me up with my laundry, drove me to the Family History Library in Salt Lake, went home to do my laundry, then came back to pick me up and take me back to Provo. She listened to me talk about my research, sometimes sat for hours in a chair next to me while I cranked the microfilm reader handle, and continues to be one of my best friends and my personal cheerleader at the young age of 91.

Detail of the Rosepoint design that my great-grandmother Goldie etched by hand

So this beautiful crystal is a connection to my great-grandmother, Goldie, who I've come to love and adore and feel close to, even though I've never met her (if you've done any genealogy at all, you know exactly what I'm talking about), and it is a physical reminder of my sweet grandmother and all that she has done and continues to do for me.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Win a Ten Hour Research Package!

Anne Bradshaw, over at True Miracles with Genealogy, is holding a contest this week featuring yours truly!  I am donating TEN hours of genealogy research for FREE and you could WIN!! My main area of expertise is U.S., especially Eastern, Midwestern, and Western states.  I live and work near the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, so I have access to millions of records!  

Head over to the contest and follow the instructions to enter. While you're at it, check out her inspirational books!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Life Experiences

Amy Coffin, MLIS, has a 52 week series of blogging prompts relating to genealogy.  The prompt for this week is:

Week 5 – Life Experiences: Sometimes the challenges in life provide the best learning experiences. Can you find an example of this in your own family tree? Which brick wall ancestor are you most thankful for, and how did that person shape your family history experience?

First of all, can I just give an "ain't that the truth?" to "challenges in life provide the best learning experiences."  Most often I find that those aren't especially comfortable to go through at the time, but if I look back at my challenges in life, most of them are things that I wouldn't have chosen to go through, but I wouldn't change the past.  Nor would I volunteer to go through them again.  LOL!  But I've gained a lot of experience and insight and my entire "self" has evolved into someone stronger, and hopefully a little better.

As far as brick wall ancestor's on my family tree, I'd have to say Andrew Myers from Aleppo, Greene County, Pennsylvania and his family have been a huge influence on my family history experience.  His daughter, Goldie Agatha Myers, was the first person I researched, way back when, in college.  I knew her name, but nothing about her parents and family.  Speaking of challenges, this lady had so many of them.  On paper, with the bare facts, she sounds like a troubled soul, but from the things I've learned about her and her family, she was an amazing, spunky, wonderful woman with a heart of gold.

Goldie Agatha Myers, daughter of Andrew and Emaline Duncan Myers
The Myers family were dirt poor. Andrew served in the Civil War (Co. L, 6th WV Infantry), and claimed to have been in poor health due to his service.  He married his wife, Emaline Duncan, when she was 16 and he was 31, ten years after the war.  They had 13 children, but as he got older, Andrew was in progressively poor health. His father had been a fairly well-to-do farmer, and it appears that Andrew's older brothers fared a little better than he did, financially.

I learned a lot about researching, have found obscure little records about hidden cemeteries (thank you, FDR!!!) that have long since crumbled, and have had to really expand my outlook on research.  Poor farmers in rural Pennsylvania, who would rather travel one mile to the town across the state border than twenty miles to the county seat to makes things "official", are hard to track!  They don't leave a huge paper trail.  Some of them bury their children on the farm with wooden markers.  Itinerant preachers that married them don't have church records, per se, that are handed down to the next installment.

They don't get mentioned in the society column of the local newspaper.  In fact, society tends to shun them.  But Jane Eyre said, "Do you think, because I am poor, obscure, plain, and little, I am soulless and heartless? You think wrong! I have as much soul as you, and full as much heart!" And these poor, obscure people did have fully as much heart!  Piecing together from the different records, sleuthing down pension files with descriptions from family and friends, just reading the bare facts - a little daughter dying young, a teenage son drowning tragically, teenage pregnancies, alcoholism, and Andrew finally dying of the effects of a stroke, after lingering for several months in a shack, with his wife too poor to call for a doctor - these things all fill in the blanks.  These people had such a hard life! 

And yet, as I've talked to younger generations who were able to meet some of the children from this family, they all talk about what raucous, joyful family gatherings they had.  Always laughing, joking, and happy. You have to admire the human spirit that can survive hardship and come out with a joy in life! 

So not only did this family history experience help me grow as a researcher, it also gave me a sense of strength in my life.  I come from this stock. Their DNA provides some of my genetic makeup.  I may have inherited a little of their attention deficit disorder, but I also inherited their sense of humor. There are times where I have wanted to wallow in self-pity, and pictured my great-grandma Goldie laughing at me with a twinkle in her eyes.  Kind of hard to wallow at that point.

Some people who do family history are disappointed when they aren't connected to someone rich or famous or notorious.  I love learning about the quiet masses and finding out what they were like, what they went through.  I love putting a name and a life story to each of them and discovering all that I can about who they were and what their lives were like. I love the challenge of finding the records they show up in and piecing together the clues.  And I love knowing that they survived, what to them may have seemed insurmountable challenges, and pulled through and went on to thrive and find joy and carry on. 

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Hanging Out My Shingle

After spending several years raising my five beautiful children, I've decided to step back into the professional arena and re-start my genealogy business. And lest you think that I haven't done genealogy in years, I assure you, it's been the main cause of unfolded laundry and "cereal-for-dinner" nights in our household.

I've worked on several projects over the years for family and friends, pro bono, because it's kept me sharp and given me experience outside of my own family tree.  I've enjoyed learning about fascinating people from all over the United States and various countries (British Isles and Romania, most recently).  One of my favorite projects of all time involved a young rogue who changed his name and made and lost fortunes - and families - moving on to the next adventure, leaving his family thinking he had died.  The piecing together hung on his naming one of his son's a very unique name - which happened to be the name of his younger brother back east. He deserves an entire post (if not book) about his life and shenanigans. 

I've also had the opportunity to do a few transcription projects.  One involved a beautiful letter box of a young woman, handed down through the generations, with remarkably preserved letters written to her from would-be sweethearts, family and friends.  Another project came about as I "met" a new relative on-line, and she mentioned that she had a cassette tape from the 1980's of an amazing and spunky aunt who lived over a century, that immigrated from Romania as a girl. Hearing her talk about her life story, from a child in Romania, to a young girl working in a textile factory in Los Angeles, to losing her husband to the 1918 flu epidemic, to owning her own grocery store and raising her three daughters, was one of the most priceless experiences I've ever had. 

I love researching and discovering people in history.  I love old letters and recorded memories and journals and newspapers, too - they flesh out the skeleton of the pedigree chart and bring people from black and white back into rich color (it amazes me how human nature hasn't changed much over the years.)  I'm excited to use my knowledge and experience and intuition, doing something I love, to help others discover their family.