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!