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Linda Roorda

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About Linda Roorda

  1. Do You Remember When...

    Ever climb a mountain? I have… well, sort of… See, I have a bit of a wild side tucked away that shows itself now ‘n then! Recently, I read a short story of a 75-year-old man who thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine’s Mt. Katahdin.* Though he dealt with a few health issues along the way, I was impressed with his successful endeavor. His story reminded me how much I’ve admired others who have hiked that trail over the years. I’ve even wished I could have hiked that trail, or climbed mountains, in my younger and stronger days. Yet, as I said, I did… sort of… and that event may well have sparked my interest, though now only lived out in reading the stories of others. "I remember when…" How often haven’t we heard that, or said it ourselves? Well, I do remember when, back in the spring of ’73, I climbed one of those ever-changing ridges at Chimney Bluffs State Park in Huron, NY, east of Sodus Point along the southern shore of Lake Ontario - ever changing hard-packed sand formations formed from the strong winds blowing off the lake. Visiting my friend, Kathy, for a spring weekend our senior year of high school, we joined the church’s Youth Group that Sunday afternoon. The East Palmyra Christian Reformed Church and Christian School had been a big part of life until my family moved to New Jersey when I was in 4th grade. Now, walking past a section of bluffs, a young man in our group decided to climb a ridge. Asking if anyone wanted to join him, I found myself the sole volunteer. Beginning our climb up the narrow ridge, he led as I followed. Learning where and how to place my feet from him, I found that I totally enjoyed this new challenge! One had to be sure-footed, like a mountain goat, in several spots or risk a tumble off the ridge’s peak as it narrowed higher up. Reaching an intersecting upward ridge, he recommended we change positions at the gap. In fact, thinking about it now, I realize he must have had previous experience to gain the knowledge and skill he appeared to have. The ridge down was steeper and narrower, and he felt it was best to face forward to see our way as we walked. He also thought it best if I went first so he could guide me better. Leading the way, I started down very carefully. At one point, I slipped, earning a scraped-up leg in reward, but he grabbed my hand to help stabilize me… as I gathered my wits to contemplate the next step. Admittedly, starting the trek down, and seeing our height above the beach, had left me a bit scared compared to the easier hike up. I remember thinking, “What did I get myself into?” Now, not so sure about my sanity in joining this venture, I also knew I had no choice but to continue on. Slowly and carefully we made our way down, step by step, and then… Taking the final step at the bottom of the ridge found me grinning from ear to ear! I did it! As tall, peaked and narrow as most bluffs are, the first ridge up was easy, while the ridge down was definitely narrower and more difficult. But, I had challenged myself and those inner fears, succeeding beyond my wildest expectation! Successfully traversing the steep and narrow ridges, returning safely to the sandy beach and friends below, was an exhilarating experience! Despite the fears that crept in, I overcame them! Loving every second of that climb, fears ‘n all, I would gladly do it all over again! You know, there’s something to be said about pursuing a dream, and, with God’s help and steady determination, reaching the pinnacle to savor success. Realizing that thought covers a lot of ground, we can openly face the challenges in many areas of our life, learning the lessons each step forward holds. Ahh, those carefree days of our youth as we faced our mountains and earned successes! Those days of uncomplicated friendships and simpler times that bring special memories to treasure as the years rush onward… Do You Remember When… Linda A. Roorda Do you remember when the days were long And we made our fun beneath a bright sky, When neighborhood kids called out to us “come” As we fled confines for the great outdoors? ~ Do you remember a time of few cares When our word was good, and trust was implied, When our biggest fret was the end of games As the dark enclosed to shoo us inside? ~ Do you remember when we took our chances Taking on risks seeming without fear, Acquiring skills we’d not otherwise gain If safely ensconced at technology’s beck? ~ Yet you can’t go back, back to what was It’s never the same, the moment that passed, But memories linger, frozen in place When you recapture the essence of time. ~ Within those moments the mind has preserved Are sights and sounds with laughter and tears, Images held dear to our heart and soul Retrieved at will for nostalgia’s cheer. ~ 07/25/17, 08/02/17 All rights reserved. May not be reproduced without permission of author. *April 2018 Guideposts, “Soul Trail – How old is too old?” by Soren West. "Poetic Devotions" offers faith-based poetry and everyday devotions of praise by Linda Roorda. See more at her site HERE.
  2. Your Family Tree #12 - Genealogy Website Resource List

    Thank you, Chris!
  3. As we conclude our discussion on how and where to begin your ancestry research with suggestions based on my experience, I thought it would be helpful to collect the online resources in one place. The following is a list of some of the many online sources which I found most helpful. I also continue to stress that not all submitted family records on any given site are totally accurate. Unintentional errors and misspellings in data creep in. It is up to you to seek out and prove the accuracy of whatever data you find online about your ancestors. Unless you know a book is truly accurate and can prove the author had sound documentation, do not take a published book as fact “just because it says so.” That’s how I proved errors in a book that had been accepted as fact for decades as I noted previously. The extra footwork involved can be extensive, but it’s worth every effort put forth to have solid documentation for your family’s ancestral heritage. Ancestry.com – free 1880 census record; but, for an annual subscription fee, you get in-depth census records from 1790-1930, military records, city and national records, land records, international records, family trees, baptisms, marriages, death index records, etc. Family Search - free website with 1880 census records, baptism, marriage records, death records, and submitted family data. Books and documents on microfilm can be ordered and viewed at a Family History Center of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, locally as in Owego or Elmira. They also have a free down-loadable Personal Ancestral File, PAF, which I have used, though I prefer the Family Tree Maker. My Heritage – discover your roots in a free trial to a subscription-based genealogy compilation. I have not used this site. Olive Tree Genealogy - free old church/cemetery records, 1600s ships’ lists, records for New Netherland, Palatines, Mennonites, Loyalists, Native American, Military, and Canadian data, etc. I found this website to be very helpful in my early research nearly 20 years ago. RootsWeb – free source of records, county genweb sites, surname lists, e-mail lists, posted documentation for cemeteries, church records, family websites and more. Currently undergoing a full-site rebuilding, but worth checking out for sections as they come back up for use. CyndisList - free listing of American and International records and resources – a great resource. Vital Records – U.S. birth certificates, death records, and marriage licenses for a fee. U.S. GenWeb – free County GenWeb sites with a lot of data to aid your research. Three Rivers – free source for middle-eastern New York families in the Hudson, Mohawk, Schoharie river regions, family genealogies, books, etc. Sampubco - Wills from several states, but not all wills. Fee charged for copies. I purchased several wills from this website and was very pleased with the service. National Archives and Records Administration – Click on Veterans’ Service Records section to begin searching. You will find military service records, pension records of veterans’ claims, draft registration records, and bounty land warrant application files and records available. Order forms are free, but you pay a fee to order copies of records. Well worth the cost. NARA contact/forms – see various forms listed for National Archives Records Administration, government war records. Obtain free forms from which to order military records including pre-Civil War full service records or pension application files (on NATF Form 85 and/or 86; forms are free). Some list family members, others do not. You will find a good amount of information in files re: a soldier’s service, enlistment, capture, discharge, death, etc.,; these records provide valuable documentation. Soldiers and Sailors Database - Civil War Soldiers and Sailors Database for military records. Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island Foundation - search passenger and ship manifest records free, or order quality record copies for a fee. Ship manifest records are also found at Ancestry.com, a subscription resource. New York Biographical and Genealogical Society – very trustworthy site with many online articles/records; they are working to put more records online; however, most are limited to membership in the Society. The Steele Library in Elmira has the full set of the New York Genealogical and Biographical Record and the New England Genealogical Journal. I can attest to the high quality of published research and records in both journals. I used these journals in my research, with my documented research articles published in the NYGBR. In order to publish, you must prove all of your statements with solid documentation. Making of America, Cornell University – old books, magazines, newspapers online in searchable/readable format – worth wading through this free resource. Higginson Book Company, Salem, Mass. - old maps, family surname genealogies, county/state historical books, published cemetery and church records, etc. Contact for free catalog; copies books/records obtained for a fee but worth it, from which I purchased a few books. Olin Uris Library, Cornell University - Cornell University’s guide to research of their extensive holdings. They note that, unfortunately, not all their genealogical books are kept in one section. Find-A-Grave - free resource of many gravestones around the United States. Be careful of family notes – I found errors in a family of my close relatives; when I contacted the contributor who added notes tying my family to theirs by error, there was no response, no correction. Tips on fraudulent lineages at: Family Search Fraudulent Genealogies Genealogy Today Gustav Anjou, Fraudulent Genealogist Genealogy.com - locating published genealogies Genealogy Bank, Researching your Pilgrim Ancestry from the Mayflower Again, locally, the Steele Library in Elmira has an excellent genealogy section on the second floor to aid your research. I spent many a Saturday morning searching through their collection for documentation on my ancestry data and can highly recommend it. Cornell University also has a major genealogy library though I was afraid to go up on campus for a personal visit. And, last but not least, your local library can order books through the interlibrary loan system. This was a tremendously helpful resource to me for out-of-county and out-of-state historical/genealogical books. I could not have done it without these resources. I must also give credit to the many friends I made along my genealogical journey, some of whom proved to be distant cousins and have remained close friends. We shared data, books, and a love for our ancestral families. And now, I wish you every success as you search for your ancestors. Enjoy the journey! ~ The End ~
  4. A Thought About Blessings

    That's beautiful, Ann!
  5. The Nail

    I so appreciate your comments, Ann and Chris! I appreciate hearing how deeply this day affects you and others, that we share the same focus of Good Friday and Easter, and the ways that make it special for you. Happy Easter!
  6. The Nail

    A version of this poem and personal reflection was initially posted here on The Network, an online resource of the Christian Reformed Church. It seems that at times I have taken our Christian celebrations for granted. Oh, I appreciate them for their remembrance of all Jesus did for us. But, I have not always contemplated the intimate details in a more personal way. Out of these recent thoughts, came a poem and personal contemplative blog. Have you ever seen or held an old-fashioned iron nail? The history of nails is fascinating, but not until the latter 19th century did we begin producing round cut nails by machine. Bronze nails have been dated back to about 3000 b.c., with the Romans eventually using harder iron for their nails. Since the earliest nail was made, each hand-forged nail has been pounded out individually by a blacksmith from iron heated in the fire. The nails are typically square, flat on four sides, tapering to a point at the other end. An online search brings up images of such nails from a hundred plus years ago all the way back to include Roman crucifixion nails. Those old Roman nails were ominous-looking objects about 5-7 inches long and half an inch wide at the top… and doubt I’d be wrong to call them spikes. It makes me shudder to think of the damage one of those Roman nails could do to a person’s flesh and bone. It also seems that a heart hardened to the cruelty inflicted was required for the job. And that was after the condemned criminal had been flogged mercilessly with the flesh torn and stripped from his back until he was hardly recognizable. I did not go to see Mel Gibson‘s movie, “The Passion of the Christ.” I know I could not have watched it for those very reasons. There’s a movie playing in my mind from reading the passages in our Holy Bible, and I prefer that familiarity. But, the above-referenced images are those which typically come to mind as we contemplate Jesus’s crucifixion during the Passover. Condemned under trumped-up blasphemy charges by Jerusalem’s synagogue leaders, yet found faultless by Rome’s representative, the crowd defiantly yelled, “Crucify him! Crucify him!” As the leaders promoted the release of Barabbas, a rightfully jailed criminal, the crowd demanded that Jesus take his place on the cross instead. And, just as we think “oh, the shame of it all!”, we also wonder how the Jews could condemn an innocent man to such a horrid death, one of their own who healed their sick and who spoke wisdom into their lives. They did not understand His life’s purpose. Yet, here I am, holding that nail and pounding it in deeper with every little sin I’ve committed. And, it humbles us even more to know Jesus went to that cross willingly. The Son of God willingly died! He took our place… and bore our shame… to redeem us from our petty and monumental sins. For “we all, like sheep, have all gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” (Isaiah 53:6 NIV) Yes, we have each gone astray, perhaps in only minor and seemingly insignificant ways, but our perfect God still calls sin what it is - “sin”. To know that God deeply loved you and me, before we even came to be, and that He sent His only Son out from a perfect heavenly home to this fallen world for our salvation is simply overwhelming. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16) I am forever grateful for such a gift of love… and that He came to shower you and me with His limitless forgiveness, mercy and grace. The Nail Linda A. Roorda Gripping the iron between my fingers I feel its cold and lifeless form, And it’s at this point my wandering thoughts Flash back in time to another day. ~ Would I have taken that nail in my hand When before me lay a man condemned, Bruised and beaten, battered and bloody A man despised, forsaken and worn? ~ But, in fact, I did. I did take that nail. With hammer in hand I raised my arm, To pound that nail into flesh and bone And heard its ring bring pain and anguish. ~ Deep in my heart, I knew it was wrong. He’d done no crime, no offense or harm. But with every strike my sins came to mind For I’m the one who nailed him to the cross. ~ And yet with each pound his face was serene No anger or hate… but a tender deep love. With tears I confessed, “My sin nailed You there!” Yet He replied, “It’s for you I died.” ~ “It’s for you I came. For you I suffered. For your very soul I gave my all…” Death will not gain the heart of faith, The heart that to Him forever is pledged. ~~ 06/27/17 All rights reserved. May not be reproduced without permission of author. ~~ "Poetic Devotions" offers faith-based poetry and everyday devotions of praise by Linda Roorda. See more at her site HERE.
  7. A Stitch In Time

    I remember reading this before, Ann, but absolutely enjoyed reading this again. I love this story
  8. There are many free genealogy websites which are a great resource for records and helpful family data, including RootsWeb. This free site, part of the ancestry.com family, includes a “Getting Started” section with their “guide to tracing family trees.” The latter has great tips on how to begin, a list of sources and where to find various records, and a list of various countries/ethnic groups. Clicking on any of these hi-lited items will provide information on beginning your research. Unfortunately, in checking the RootsWeb site to update this article, I learned they’re in the process of making website repairs. Feel free to check them out for their explanatory letter as some functions, like the Message Boards, are up and running while other functions will gradually return for usage. However, most of what I reference here from their site is currently unavailable while they make repairs. They have a section entitled “Searches.” This includes surname listings you can peruse to see what might be out there. My favorite section was the “U.S. Town/County Database.” Here, I have found a wealth of information for vital records from churches and cemeteries, biographies, family lineages, and more. Researching my early New York families often brought me to the Albany, Schenectady and Schoharie county genweb sites. The next section is labeled “Family Trees (World Connect).” You can search family trees generously submitted by other researchers. I did find errors in submitted family trees when I began my research, prompting my own research to document, write and publish my family articles. For that reason, I tend to stay away from this section in seeking information on my ancestors. I prefer to do as much footwork as I can on my own, albeit with guidance from friends who taught me as I learned along the way. Submitted trees certainly can be entirely accurate; however, if used as a starting point with other online records, you can then seek sources to provide solid documentation and corroborative proof, i.e. church and cemetery records in reputable books or journals, census records, wills, etc. The next section is “Mailing Lists.” These lists are also invaluable. I was formerly on an email list which provided discussions on various topics relating to the early settlers and records of the 1600s and 1700s in New Netherlands/New York. It was a rewarding experience to reply to someone’s query by contributing data I have in a book of ancient Albany’s city and county records that was helpful to others. From RootsWeb , I had subscribed years ago to the Schoharie County email list. That resource was where I saw the notice by a professor from Long Island who found an old photo in a Washington, D.C. antique shop. The pencil writing on the back of the matting read, “First Tillapaugh Reunion July 1910…” I replied that my mother’s two oldest brothers inherited that farm, and their sons continue to farm it today. A reproduction of the photo is in the Dallenbach book of descendants which I own, so I was well aware of what the professor had found. In fact, the house in the photo, built in the 1830s, is still very much in use today. I was offered the opportunity to purchase the photo which, of course, I did, thus beginning my genealogy research in earnest in the late 1990s. RootsWeb also includes a section for “Message Boards.” Here, you can search your surname of interest, read other posts, and post your own query for information which I have also done. Folks on these message boards have been very helpful. This has also been a resource to meet extended relatives in various lines, which I have also done. We have then shared our own researched and documented data with each other. Several friendships were made this way, and they continue to be counted among my close friends today. Other sections have even more options available including various surname websites, other tools and resources such as blank forms and charts, and hosted volunteer projects. The latter includes books owned by folks who are willing to research them for information you might need from a particular book. You may also find volunteers who are able to do local lookups at either cemeteries or historical societies for you. When volunteers have helped by doing research footwork for me, I felt it appropriate to pay their expenses, a much-appreciated gift. You can also submit your FamilyTreeMaker data to RootsWeb. Instead, of doing that, I submitted a McNeill descendancy outline with names and dates of birth to the Schoharie County Genweb site. It is also common courtesy not to submit names of any living relatives, or those born within the past 75-100 years out of respect for privacy. Another free online source of cross-referenced data is the comprehensive CyndisList. The Categories section provides a list of resources, including American state and government as well as international resources. There is an Adoption section to help find orphans and living people, message boards, and volunteers to assist your search. A section entitled Free Stuff includes charts and forms, translation tools, online databases to search, volunteer lookups, surname family associations and newsletters, etc. Sections you might not have thought about include 1) Migration Routes, Roads and Trails, 2) Canals, Rivers and Waterways, and 3) Immigration and Naturalization. There are sections entitled Heraldry, Hit a Brick Wall?, and Ships & Passenger Lists. The Mailing Lists are great for asking questions when you’re stumped, and for connecting with researchers working on the same lines. There are also sites to purchase items, and free trials to search various genealogy websites before paying their site subscription fee. Ancestry.com has some free data, like the 1880 Federal Census records, but the best records are obtained using subscription-based entrance. Here, you will find tabs for Home, Trees, Search, DNA, Help, and Extras. It is an invaluable resource. Perhaps your ancestors came through Ellis Island. Search The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation to find your ancestors and the ship on which they sailed. A ship’s manifest lists the passengers, their age, name of the ship, port, date of departure, occupation, nearest relative in their country of origin, and their sponsor in the U.S. I found information for my husband’s paternal grandfather’s family when they emigrated from Holland in the early 1920s. Some went first to North Dakota before settling in northern New Jersey as dairy farmers while others settled right away in northern New Jersey and Massachusetts to work in the textile mills. I also found records at the Ellis Island website for my father’s families which emigrated from the Netherlands. Like many families, both of my father’s grandfathers came through Ellis Island, each with their oldest son – my dad’s paternal grandfather in November 1922, and his maternal grandfather in September 1923. They settled in and around Kalamazoo, Michigan among other Dutch. When they earned enough money, they sent for the rest of their family. My paternal grandfather emigrated from Uithuizermeeden, Groningen at age 15 in July 1923 with his mother and siblings through Ellis Island. However, my dad’s maternal grandfather was determined his wife and children would not go through the rigors of steerage and Ellis Island. Instead, he sent money back home to them in Rotterdam for second-class tickets. Decades ago, my grandmother told me only a little about their sailing on the S. S. Rotterdam to Hoboken, New Jersey. Research showed the ship came into a New York City port in January 1926, with the ship’s manifest listing my grandmother’s family. Unfortunately, I didn’t ask more questions. She told me that a Dutchman, who made a living helping immigrants, met my great-grandmother and her children (my grandmother was age 15), and took them to his home in Hoboken, New Jersey. He fed them, put them up overnight, and the next morning put them on the right train to Michigan with lunches in hand. There, my great-grandmother was reunited with her husband, and my grandmother and her siblings with their father and oldest brother. How exciting that must have been! My grandparents married in 1931 and lived in Kalamazoo, Michigan. With the Great Depression, my grandfather and his father lost everything as building contractors. They removed to another Dutch enclave in Clifton, New Jersey where my grandfather became a door-to-door salesman before again becoming a successful general contractor, with many a beautiful house or remodeling project to his credit. You can purchase quality photo documentation of the ships your ancestors sailed on. However, I simply printed the free online photo of the ships on which my ancestors sailed, along with each respective ship’s manifest for documentation. I used both Ancestry.com and the Ellis Island websites to obtain records. For steerage immigrants, the Ellis Island experience included passing a medical and legal inspection. If your papers were in order, and you were in reasonably good health, the inspection process typically lasted 3-5 hours. The ship’s manifest log was used by inspectors to cross-examine each immigrant during the primary inspection. Though Ellis Island has been called the “Island of Tears,” the vast majority of immigrants were treated respectfully and allowed to enter America to begin their new life. However, about two percent of immigrants were denied entry. Typically, if you were suspected of having a contagious illness, or if the inspector thought you might become a public burden, entrance to the U.S. was denied. I can only imagine the pain it must have caused when one or more family members were told they had to go back to their native country. I am very appreciative of the efforts my many ancestors made to emigrate from their home country, to which none ever returned, of becoming American citizens, and of their hard work to provide a better way of life for their family. By sharing bits of my ancestral heritage, of who they were and whence they came, I hope it has encouraged you to search for your ancestors, to find their place in the building of our great America, and thus to know the gift of your family heritage. NEXT: Genealogy Website Resource List "Homespun Ancestors is written by Linda Roorda. To see more, visit her site HERE.
  9. The Master's Voice

    Little lambs are so soft, cuddly and cute! In my mid teens, my siblings and I were given a lamb which I promptly named “Lambie.” Very original, huh?! It was only intended until something better came to mind, but nothing ever did. She was a twin, abandoned by her mother and given to us by our cousin, Robert, from his flock. I don’t know the breed, but she had light gray wool with a black face and black legs. As Lambie’s main caretaker, I took responsibility to make sure she was fed. Following my Dad’s directions, I made a gruel with oatmeal, water and evaporated milk, feeding it to her in a glass bottle which had one of my brother’s bottle nipples attached – we were good at making do. And I loved to watch her little tail go “ninety miles an hour” while she drank! Lambie was small, not very old, so we kept her in a box near the old-fashioned wood-burning kitchen stove to keep her warm. It was too cold to put her out in the barn all by herself without her mama. Even our mutt, Pepsi, of terrier and other unknown parentage, liked nothing better than to jump into Lambie’s box to check out this new arrival to our menagerie. And, I’m sure Pepsi wondered why this little one said “baaaa” and didn’t whimper like a puppy, but she contentedly mothered her adopted baby anyway! Eventually, Lambie went to her pen in the barn, and followed me wherever I went. It was fun to watch her spring up and down as she played and ran about the yard and nibbled on the grass. Occasionally, she tried to wander beyond her guardian’s protection until called back to my side. Though I never considered myself her “shepherd,” in reality I was. I provided food and water for her, protected her and kept her from harm… until the vet diagnosed her with Listeriosis, or circling disease. Nothing could be done for her and we had to put her down. Crying so hard I could barely see, I insisted to my Dad that I would dig the grave at the edge of the raspberry patch and bury little Lambie by myself. Such were the thoughts that came to mind after writing the poem below which is based on Jesus’ parable found in John 10:1-21. Here, we read that the Good Shepherd knows each one of his sheep, and He calls them by name. But, the sheep also know their shepherd, recognize his voice, and follow wherever he leads them. Should a stranger enter the fold, the sheep will not follow him… instead, they will run around wildly or just run away en masse, simply because they aren’t familiar with the stranger’s voice. Perhaps, under cover, a thief may come near the flock, pretending to be their shepherd. He may disguise himself and draw a few young, inexperienced sheep away who think they’re following their shepherd. Or, a predator may sneak up on an unsuspecting lamb and lead it astray. Disoriented and lost, the lamb follows the predator to supposed safety. Soon it becomes obvious that the predator is not its shepherd… but by then it’s too late. Except, the true shepherd with his trained eye realizes what’s happened. Like another of Jesus’ parables in Luke 15:3-6, He seeks out His precious lamb and brings it back, or willingly fights off the predator to rescue his little lost lamb. Listening to its Master’s voice, the lamb turns around and joyfully runs back to the safety of the flock… and there it stays, feeling content and peaceful under the watchful eye of its protective shepherd. And I thought, how like those sheep we are… As Isaiah 53:6 says, “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” We have a tendency at times to follow what sounds and looks so good, what seems so right… only to realize later that we’ve been duped… we were on the wrong track… and we need someone to save us. That someone, the Master, the Good Shepherd, would do anything for us, His sheep… especially those who have wandered off or been drawn away by a predator. Not so the hireling who doesn’t care much about someone else’s sheep. With only a little provocation, he’d as soon run away than fight for the lives of those sheep. Just as my heart ached and cried for the loss of my lamb, so the Good Shepherd of our story aches for the lost, and would lay down His own life to protect and save His precious sheep from harm. And isn’t that what our Lord, our Good Shepherd, our Master, has done for us? May we always hear the love in our Master’s voice within our heart and follow His leading… The Master’s Voice Linda A. Roorda ~ Like gentle sheep we’re prone to wander Easily enticed by things of this world But at the sound of our Master’s voice Will we then heed or continue headstrong? ~ The Master’s words will not lead astray Seeking the ones who meander off Softly calling each one by name With tender words of comfort and peace. ~ When storms arrive and release their fury The shepherd guides his flock to safety. How like our Master who longs to embrace And bring us home to rest in His arms. ~ When wolves appear like gentle sheep clothed With flattery smooth they strike unannounced Their intention dark, the naïve to deceive Serving their needs, the meek to destroy. ~ Then words of wisdom are soon directed At wandering lambs who have left the fold Calling them back to a sheltered life Protected under the Master’s great love. ~ Unlike the hireling, He lays down His life Whatever it takes to gather His own Take heed to His call and flee from the foe Lean into His arms of mercy and grace. ~ Like a good Shepherd is our Savior Lord With care He protects each sheep in His fold It matters to Him whose words we follow The call of folly or the Master’s voice. ~~ 06/05/15 All rights reserved. May not be reproduced without permission of author. ~ Original posting and more at Linda's blog, Poetic Devotions.
  10. Making A Difference

    Awesome story Chris!
  11. Oh God! The Pain Out There...

    Here we go again… another killing rampage leaving behind dead and wounded, with families devastated and torn apart. How sad. How tragically sad for everyone involved, including the family of the man pulling the trigger. My thoughts and prayers go out to all involved for their peace amidst the utter senselessness of it all. At a time like this, we often ask “Why?” None of these recent killing sprees makes any sense – including the young men who beat to death a WWII vet with their flashlights in Washington state; the young black men who shot to death the white Australian tourist in Colorado because, in their own words, they were bored; the brothers who unleashed mayhem and murder with homemade bombs upon those at the Boston Marathon; the lone killer of the elementary school children in Connecticut, and the list goes on. And now in Broward County, Florida. And again we ask, “Why?” At some point, it seems to me, when one becomes desensitized to destruction in moral decay within society by the incessant evil and violence on TV, in movies, and in video/computer games, life is cheapened to a meaningless and worthless entity, and we bully and kill to get our way. The weapons themselves are only the instruments. We can ban every possible weapon we can think of; but, then, we remember that once upon a time Cain killed his brother Abel with a rock. The evil lies in the human heart and the thought behind the weapon’s use. Perhaps we might look back and see a shift in culture – away from moral absolutes, away from a lack of respect, away from a lack of responsibility to each other, away from discipline, away from a love of those around us, and, perhaps the key to them all, away from a relationship with God, our Creator. These principles are not inherently within us from birth; they must be modeled and taught. And I would prefer to see how God can work in my life and use me to reach out to another in need… Oh God! The Pain Out There… Linda A. Roorda Oh God! The pain out there Alive in this world Is so immeasurably deep It sears, it burns, it weeps. ~ Oh God! Look into the heart Of each hurting soul And let them see The love You hold for each. ~ Oh God! Let me be your eyes To see the many needs Of those surrounding me As we travel this road together. ~ Oh God! Share glimpses with me Into your heart of peace So with arms of comfort A life I may bless upon the way. ~ 2013 ~
  12. Daydreams

    Daydreams…we all have them. But, what we each might dream about is obviously as different as we are… for dreams are at the core of our individuality and uniqueness. By definition, daydreams detach us from the present. They might be momentary fleeting thoughts, or a longer intentional refuge from reality. Sometimes, daydreams are like watching a few lazy clouds pass serenely through the sky above. Sometimes, they’re like those magnificent billowing thunderhead clouds of a gathering storm, as thoughts wrestle to resolve an issue, or perhaps as you struggle deciding which direction to take. Sometimes, dreams are of creative designs or embellishments that lead to an invention we couldn’t live without. And sometimes, they’re the longings of a heart for something more… a dream to overcome a disability… or to simply succeed at whatever life hands us. After writing this poem, I was reminded of a book I’d read recently. It was about a young Pakistani girl, Maria Toorpakai… someone who wanted more out of life than the expected. From an early age, she dreamed of more than the hidden life of a girl who felt ashamed to be who she was born to be. Publicly presenting herself as a boy simply to get an education and play the sports she loved, encouraged in her endeavors by her parents, she became actively involved in life, not hidden away from the world. Facing strong male competition and resentment, with a fierce determination and love of the sport, she became her nation’s top squash player. But, it came with a price when her gender was learned on applying to college. With threats against herself and her family, and years of fleeing those Taliban’s threats, Maria eventually found assistance. Jonathon Power, the first North American named the world’s top squash player, sent her an offer she couldn’t refuse. Resettling in Power’s native Canada, Maria began training and competing at an international level with all due respect given for her talents. Read more in “A Different Kind of Daughter – The Girl Who Hid from the Taliban in Plain Sight” by Maria Toorpakai and Katharine Holstein. The initial part of the book read a bit laborious to me, but it soon became a book I didn’t want to set down. Daydreams… of where they can take us, and the good they can bring to others… Daydreams Linda A. Roorda Like a gentle breeze, a wind blowing free Are thoughts and ideas that randomly roam Within the great halls and echoes of time Bearing a vestige to presence of mind. ~ Restless reverie on wings soaring high A pulsing of thoughts from reality’s screen Punctured and framed by fragmented scenes Of treasured gems retrieved from the past. ~ This contemplation draws deeper inward Losing oneself to an inner eye Perspective tinged by the breadth of life From where I’ve been to where I am now. ~ Lost yet again in rapt reflection Generating change from a constant flow Creativity within the mind’s eye With its secret’s allure just one step beyond. ~ For they draw me in to lose myself free In solitude’s calm to meditate lone To gather my dreams from farthest corner And find gentle peace in depths of my soul. ~~ 04/26/16 All rights reserved. May not be reproduced without permission of author. "Poetic Devotions" offers faith-based poetry and everyday devotions of praise by Linda Roorda. See more at her site HERE
  13. Your Love is a Light

    In a sense, our celebration of Valentine’s Day is but a small example of Christ’s love for us. As we shower each other with loving words and gifts on a special day like this, we bring the light of love to our family and friends. Yet, this love and appreciation we have for each other is also shown in a myriad of ways throughout the year to the world around us in a never-ending circle. As we think about expressing a deep love for our spouse or significant other in special ways, we’re reminded of similarities to the love our Lord has shown us. Coming to the humbling realization that God’s love is so much greater than anything we might experience amongst ourselves, our faith is deepened. Such an incomparable love might be compared to a light that shines upon us and through us. As the light of God’s great love draws us closer to Himself, it washes over us with a comforting peace, and His wisdom permeates our hearts that we may grow in grace… and so shine His light and love on those around us… a never-ending circle, for His love is like no other. In I Corinthians 13, we see an apt description of what a loving relationship with each other looks like. But, it also portrays the epitome of Christ’s sacrificial love for us. His Holy word, His wisdom, embodies His light illuminating our heart as we eagerly reach for Him. In daily reading and studying the messages He has for us, we can’t help but learn and mature as we live out our faith. And, as the light of His word penetrates deeply into our soul, we become more like Him in our daily walk. For when our hearts are open and receptive, the light we find in God nourishes us… like a plant that grows best under the warm rays of bright sunshine. As John recorded for us, Jesus told the Pharisees who were questioning him, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12) Jesus made many other comments referring to Himself as the light of the world. In teaching the great crowds in His sermon on the mount, Jesus expounded on our being shining examples of His light: “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16 NIV) May the light of God’s love, His greatest gift, shine upon us, into our hearts, and through us as we shine His love out into the world! Your Love is a Light Linda A. Roorda Your love is a light upon a dark hill Its beams extending over all the earth. Within its rays is Your peace divine That covers my soul with a heavenly glow. ~ It saved me from destruction’s pit From the grip of sin You pried me free. How can I not but thank You ever As mercy and grace shine down on my soul. ~ It’s a wisdom gained upon this path By learning to face the trials and pain. It lightens the load of burdens and cares And seeks to open doors closed by injustice. ~ It beckons and draws the soul that is lost To hands that created and long to enfold, The hands holding joy and comforting peace, When humbly we turn in faith to our Lord. ~ For we yearn to hear Your voice among us Where Your presence lies in the face of need. And may we then share Your matchless grace With a world that seeks to fill a dark void. ~ Forever Your light will brightly glow Drawing us out to heights of devotion That as we shine Your love from our soul Praises burst forth to our God of all light. ~~ January 20, 2015 All rights reserved. May not be reproduced without permission of author. "Poetic Devotions" offers faith-based poetry and everyday devotions of praise by Linda Roorda. See more at her site HERE.
  14. We previously briefly touched on the importance of your ancestor’s Last Will and Testament, an excellent source of family documentation. Wills are filed at surrogate court or county clerk’s office along with estate records for those who died intestate (without a will), inventories of estates, letters of administration, and guardianships, etc. Some older wills may be found online at Sampubco Genealogy as posted by W. David Samuelson from whom you may purchase documents. This site includes wills, guardianships, surrogate’s records/probate files, naturalizations, letters of administration, and cemetery listings. Records are available for several states via alphabetical name search by county. From my experience, mostly older wills are available, but not all of them. I can, however, recommend this site as I purchased several ancestral wills more reasonably than from surrogate’s court or county clerk’s office. However, it is still advisable to go to the appropriate office to search for and copy complete records, which I also did. One drawback can be old style writing and language. Having begun my secretarial career in an Owego law firm, researching and copying old deeds and wills in shorthand, I was familiar with most of the standard language. After transcribing eighteenth and nineteenth century ancestral wills I’d purchased, I submitted several online to respective county genweb sites. They provide an opportunity for future researchers to use this gift, a way to pay back the gifts others have freely placed online to aid in research. It’s all about helping each other on the journey. As for the old language of bequeathing one’s estate, I share excerpts in original format from the wills of a few of my ancestors – original spelling or misspelling retained. Henrich/Henry Kniskern, signed 1780, probated 1784: “In the Name of God Amen. I, Henrich Knieskern at Shoharry [Schoharie] in the County of Albany [before Albany became several counties] farmer being at present weak in Body but of Sound Mind and Memory… considering that it is appointed for us all once to Die do this Eight Day of May in the Year of Our Lord Christ One Thousand Seven Hundred and Eighty make and Publish this my Last will and Testament in manner and form following that is to Say I recommend my Soul unto God that gave & my body unto the Earth from whence it came to be decently Interred… I give and bequeath unto my eldest Son… five Pounds Lawful money of New York (I Mean and Understand good hard Silver Money) for his birth Right… it is my will and Ordre that my Wife… shall have her supporting and Maintainment yearly and Every Year for her Life Time of my Estate in Knieskerns Dorph… [Kniskernsdorf is a now-extinct hamlet established on the Schoharie Creek by my ancestor, Johann Peter Kniskern, the Listmaster of one of the original 1710 Palatine settlements on the Hudson River.] …I Give unto my Two Sons… together Equally my farming utenciels and Tools as both or Two Waggons & Two Sleeds Ploughs and Harrows with all the Tackling and furniture thereof… axes hoes & other Implements of husbandry… I Give to my Two Daughters, as bed Goods, Pewter Goods, Iron pots, Cooper goods & other goods… I give to my Two Sons… Equally my Loom and all & Every articles that belongs to Weavers…” Adam Dingman, a prosperous freeholder of Kinderhook and Albany, wrote “...know all men that in the year seventeen hundred and twenty and twenty-one, the twenty-first day of January, in the seventh year of the reign of our sovereign lord, King George, I, Adam Dingeman, born at Haerlem, Holland, sick and weak of body, but having the perfect use of my senses…” Unfortunately, he did not name his children from whom I have proven descendancy. George Hutton, son of Lt. Timothy Hutton, listed all children, with daughters by their married names, a very helpful will. An interesting inventory with values was attached to his wife Elizabeth’s will from 1845. Numerous items were listed, including “1 feather bed $7.25, 1 blue and white spread $4.00, 1 straw bed tick $.25, 1 brown calico dress $.37, 1 black cashmere shall $.75, 1 pr morocco shoes $.50, 1 rocking chair $1.00.” Other wills bequeath hereditaments (one of my favorite words), i.e. land, crops, tools, animals. A McNeill family will “allows” an unmarried sister to use half of the house for life. And an inventory made in 1758 for the estate of John McNeill, an apparently wealthy mariner (father of John C. McNeill), includes “1 Jacket of Cut Vellvet & 1 pair of Black Vallvet Britches, 1 paire of Lether Buckskin Britches, 1 Great Coat of Davinshire Carsey, 1 fine linnin Sheet x3 coarse ones, 1 45 weight of fetther, 1 paire of carved Shew buckells & knee buckells of silver, 1 paire Sleve buttons of gold, 2 Small Bibells w/one Silver clasped, 1 book called fishers Arithmitick, 1 seet of Harrow teeth, 1 Seet of plow Irons.” Old documents do make fascinating reads! COMING NEXT: Genealogy Websites Original blog post at: Homespun Ancestors - Your Family Tree #10
  15. Your Family Tree #9 - Military Records

    Anything but a boring read, military records are another invaluable source of documentation. The first step is to determine when and where your ancestor served. Often clues to an ancestor’s military service are found in family stories, old photos, death records and obituaries, grave markers and/or cemetery records, local town histories, and other family records or correspondence. Many military records are available at Ancestry.com. You will find draft registration cards for WW I and WW II, enlistment and service records, soldier and prisoner lists, casualty lists, pension records, etc. In searching Ancestry’s records for this article, I found the Revolutionary War pension application file for my ancestor, John C. McNeill. I had purchased the complete file several years ago through the national archives at NARA.gov. So much more data has been placed online at repositories like Ancestry.com than was available when I began researching in the late 1990s. Search for records at the website for National Archives. Click on the Veterans’ Service Records section to begin. You will find military service records, pension records of veterans’ claims, draft registration records, and bounty land warrant application files and records available. I found the WWII enlistment records at both Ancestry and NARA websites for two of my paternal grandfather’s brothers. They had served in Europe and the South Pacific. NARA’s website allows you to download free forms in order to purchase the full military records which may not be available elsewhere. Military records can provide a good deal of genealogical and historical data about an ancestor. The various records may include date of birth, birthplace, age, date of enlistment, occupation, names of immediate family members, and service records listing battles fought, capture, discharge, death, etc. However, bear in mind that military records may not include all data you seek. My John C. McNeill did not note a date of birth or age in his Rev War pension application affidavit, and stated only that he had “nine children…5 sons and 4 daughters”, without listing any of their names. Talk about frustration! However, Jesse McNeill, my ancestor, verified in his signed affidavit that he was a son of John and that was key evidence. Thankfully, John’s wife, Hannah, noted their marriage date, town, name of the Justice of the Peace who married them, and her sister’s name in her affidavit when applying for her widow’s pension. With military records, you can take a little data and round it out with further research. My John C. McNeill answered the call of fellow patriots to serve with the New Hampshire Line at Bunker Hill (or Breed’s Hill) in June 1775. He was a Sergeant under Captain Daniel Wilkins in Colonel Timothy Bedel’s regiment of rangers, in charge of pasturing cattle to feed the men. In 1776, Bedel’s regiment was ordered to join the Northern Continental Army in New York to reinforce the military presence in Canada. McNeill’s pension file affidavits note capture at The Cedars, a fort west of Montreal on the St. Lawrence River, where they were plundered of all possessions. They were taken to an island and left naked, without shelter and scant rations for eight days. At The Cedars, “Bedel left the fort, either [to]… seek reinforcements or convey intelligence. The command devolved on Major Isaac Butterfield… who on the 19th of May [1776] disgracefully surrendered his force of about four hundred men to the British and Indians [who were] about five hundred in number.” (History of Goffstown [N.H.] by George Plumer Hadley, page 124.) Morris Commager’s “The Spirit of Seventy-Six” (pgs. 212-220) provides further corroboration of this capture with many injured, killed, taken prisoner, or dying of disease. McNeill was among survivors exchanged and returned in a cartel between the British Captain George Foster and American Brigadier General Benedict Arnold. McNeill then served out his military enlistment at Saratoga, NY. McNeill’s cousin and friends sign an affidavit in his pension application file stating they survived the ordeal with him, celebrating their release annually thereafter. Another excellent source, a great read which confirmed the information I had on Bedel’s New York Regiment, is found in “Benedict Arnold’s Navy: The Ragtag Fleet that lost the Battle of Lake Champlain but Won the American Revolution” by James Nelson, 2006, The McGraw-Hill Companies. I further assumed that, having served in New York for a time, McNeill later sought fertile land in what historians call the “Breadbasket of the American Revolution” – Schoharie County, New York. After settling in my mother’s home town of Carlisle, Schoharie County, New York in the mid-1790s, one of his neighbors, and likely good friend, was Thomas Machin, whose farmland I have seen on a side road just into Montgomery County and very near Schoharie County. Machin “supervised the making and laying of The Great Chain across the Hudson River near West Point.” “W. Thomas Machin, Engineer, Washington’s Staff, Founding Father of Masonry in Schoharie County…Member Boston Tea Party; 1744-1816.” (Personal view of two New York State plaques commemorating Machin at Carlisle Rural Cemetery, Carlisle, Schoharie County, NY, just a short distance up the road from where my mother grew up.) However, Machin was not likely to have been part of the Boston Tea Party per my additional research. Living in close proximity to each other, I am sure there must have been a good friendship between the two military men and their families – Machin’s grandson, James Daniel Machin, married John C. McNeill’s granddaughter, Lucy Jane/Jeanette McNeill, in 1852. There is so much to be gleaned from in-depth research of ancestors, learning about their lives, extended family, and the historical era in which they lived! COMING NEXT: Last Will and Testament. Original blog post at: Homespun Ancestors