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Linda Roorda

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About Linda Roorda

  1. A Stitch In Time

    I remember reading this before, Ann, but absolutely enjoyed reading this again. I love this story
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Actor David Ogden Stiers Dies At 75

    and PS - favorite Winchester episode is his surgery on the concert pianist's hand, who then can't see the point of life, while Winchester has Klinger to get him sheet music for a one-handed pianist, and finally the young man plays his heart out. But the point of Winchester telling the young man that he can play the piano, but not from the heart like the young man can... that said it all...
  5. Actor David Ogden Stiers Dies At 75

    Am sorry to hear of Stiers' passing; he was a great actor. We watch MASH every evening too, and prefer the latter years with Potter, BJ, Winchester (and Houlihan without Burns) - there are some awesome classics - but one of my favorites, if not total fav, is Father Mulcahy sitting up all night with a patient, not having his sermon prepared to impress the Cardinal, but winging it, comparing himself wanting to impress vs the patient thinking not of his needs but that of his friend...
  6. Making A Difference

    Awesome story Chris!
  7. 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 ~
  8. 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
  9. 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.
  10. 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
  11. 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
  12. The Mist

    Oh, the thoughts a beautiful scene can bring to mind! It happens now and then for all of us… and last December, it was another beautiful photo which said so much. Taken by Hugh Van Staalduinen, Jr., the husband of my childhood friend Kathy, the scene stirred memories and another poem began to form. Taken of the steeples from two of three churches in the tiny hamlet of East Palmyra, New York, it so well reminded me of my favorite childhood community. It’s a close-knit town which holds memories of many dear friends, and of the church and school where we grew up together. Living on farms nearby, my sister and I spent hours playing in the barns and fields, visiting with many friends, walking the fields and hills, and simply making untold special memories. Until… I was abruptly uprooted in the middle of fourth grade for a move with my family back to Clifton, New Jersey, the city where I was born, where my Dad grew up and his Dutch immigrant family had lived since the 1930s. Though the community of East Palmyra is hidden from view by a foggy mist swirling amongst the trees, you can sense the pulsing of life beneath the gray cover. With the morning’s awakening, life gently stirs and stretches from its night-time slumber. There’s a slower pace in a small close-knit community as compared to the larger bustling cities, and the hills surrounding the tiny town entice you to sit a while… to contemplate and reflect… to spend time talking with God… to watch the birds soar free without our load of frets and cares… and to contemplate life… all while considering the needs of those around us and what we can do to help meet those needs. Take time to pause in your busy day, spend time talking and sharing with the Lord. “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him…” (Psalm 37:7a) Get to know Him better. Even Jesus withdrew from the noisy crowds to be alone and pray. (Luke 5:16) Listen for His voice in the quiet of your heart… hear the birds softly chirping as a breeze gently sways the leaves… and, as the mist of the morning rises, let God’s love shine through to show you the way. “Be still, and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10a) The Mist Linda A. Roorda There’s a village life between the steeples Hidden from view by mist among trees Where time eases up and the pace slows down Whispering gently, come pause and reflect. ~ The world rushes on chasing evermore Dreams flying high like birds soaring free Of places and things far beyond my ken When simple pleasures would truly suffice. ~ Where slower rhythm is gently spoken Not steeped in words but in beaming smiles Pausing with care to shower with love The passerby whose heart needs a lift. ~ Take time to ponder a world needing hope Where peace is fleeting midst a harsher truth And the rush of life with its frantic pace Belies the needs tucked deep in the soul. ~ Take time to pause and contemplate The meaning of life with value inherent Reach out and touch someone’s heart today Meet the world’s needs one gift at a time. ~ Hear the breeze whisper with God’s gentle voice, Be still a while and share life with Me. As hands like branches reach out to share joy Let the mist rise as the Son shines through. ~~ 12/27/16 All rights reserved. "Poetic Devotions" offers faith-based poetry and everyday devotions of praise by Linda Roorda. See more at her site HERE
  13. Letters to You

    I’m sure it doesn’t come as a surprise to anyone, but we don’t write letters like we used to. I know I don’t. We phone, email, text, tweet, IM, or whatever it takes to converse in an instant… There was a time I regularly wrote letters to friends, and to my grandmother. Every week Grammy heard all about my growing pains and insecurities as a teen, all about adventures in my marriage as a farmer’s wife - gardening, learning to can and freeze food for the winter assisted by the gift of her invaluable book, “Rodale’s Organic Gardening”, and extensive sewing for my family. She heard all about my babies, her great-grands, as they grew up, always sending some small picture from a magazine or the front of a greeting card so that my “little ones” would have something special from her in the mail, too. I miss my grandmother… her Dutch accent coming through a mixture of English and Dutch words, but I especially miss her insight and wisdom filling those letters. I always looked forward to them, and I often wish I could reread the treasures of her letters just once more. I’ve read letters from the slower-paced Colonial and Victorian eras on through the modern 20th century - from friend to friend, farmer diaries while researching my genealogy, tender voices in love, those written during war from the battlefield to the family back home, or from the home fires bringing cheer to a weary soldier… each carrying messages from the heart. Nowadays, life is so hectic for all of us. It seems I’m always on the go, cramming work, appointments, hobbies, household chores, and so much more into 16-18 hour days. It’s a different kind of busy from when our children were growing up. We have all our modern conveniences, but do we really get more done? Sometimes, slowing down a pace, and taking time to keep in touch with our friends and loved ones adds a bit more meaning to our busy days. Letters or cards that we write or receive, or even an email with a personal touch, bring a smile to brighten someone’s day. There’s a special meaning conveyed in the written word when we take pen in hand, or type an email. Sharing kindness by simply taking the time to express our personal thoughts is to know how deeply we can touch a heart… especially when illness or a few too many miles separate us. For there’s something we cherish about a personal handwritten letter that carries the fingerprint of joy as we hold the tangible evidence of love in our hands… from one heart to another. Now… where’s that pen? Letters To You Linda A. Roorda Letters written from my heart to yours Thoughts of the past, reflections of life Conveying a love enriched by words With comfort and peace midst turmoil and din. ~ Taking the time to contemplate worth Words begin flight, your heart to touch, A tribute preserved forever in ink With treasured purpose in message borne. ~ Through words expressed we feel the love When distance claims your presence afar As swirling ideas echo in thoughts To find release through pen in hand. ~ They speak of days now long forgotten Reminding of trials we somehow overcame. They pause to reflect on issues of the day Leading the way to cathartic journey. ~ In letters written as the heart pours out Joy is expressed to bless another, Testament is given of God’s tender care That others may know encouragement’s voice. ~ For by our words we unveil our soul Our deepest thoughts midst fears and blessings, A sharing of self that entwines our lives In letters written from my heart to yours. ~~ 08/20/17 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.
  14. Your Family Tree #8 - Census Records

    As we noted previously, studying census records plays another key role in searching for ancestors. Census records track families as they grow, move to new frontiers, into the cities, or perhaps just stay put on the family farm with family members scattered within walking distance nearby. Study the old handwriting, compare unknown names or words to letters and words which you clearly know. But, know that the old fancy cursive is different from what we’re familiar with in today’s handwriting. I became familiar with it when researching and copying old deeds as a young secretary years ago, learning the old language of legal documents in the process. I use two methods for keeping census records – one is to write all data on 4x6 lined index cards, and the other is using blank 8x10 census forms. I eventually acquired several hundred index cards filed alphabetically in a handy shoebox. I find them easier to refer to than the large census forms which, admittedly, are the more accurate. The large blank forms are also used as a guide to what data to include on index cards from each census. Before searching census records, you should also know they, too, may contain errors. At times, the enumerator may have been given wrong information, or misspelled first and last names depending on his own abilities. When copying data, be sure to include the way names were misspelled, along with the known correction. For example, I tracked a McNeill descendant whose father had removed his family from Carlisle to Decatur, New York and later to the state of Maine. I knew his daughter, Appolonia Livingston McNeill, by baptism record. She married William Smyth(e) and lived in Bangor, Maine. By census records, her unmarried sister, Sarah McNeil(l), lived with them. I followed the Smyth(e) family in Bangor by census, and the family’s billiard hall by city business directory. I could not locate Appolonia in the important 1900 census, assuming she died after 1880. Searching for her sons, I was surprised to find Appolonia as a widow, listed on the 1900 census by her middle name as Livingston A. Smyth. She then resides with her twin sons in Portland, Oregon where she dies and is buried per death record I purchased. Wondering what brought them to the far side of the continent, I can only speculate that perhaps they later enjoyed Portland’s 1905 Lewis and Clark Exposition. I have not had time nor funds to pursue further research on the family among Maine or Oregon records, though I did obtain a few free cemetery records online. Every ten years since 1790, our federal government has gathered a national census. Very few records remain of the 1890 census as most were destroyed by fire and water damage in 1921. In 1934, rather than make attempts to restore the balance of records, they were destroyed by the U. S. Department of Commerce despite a public outcry. The 1890 census was different from previous with in-depth questions about each family member and Civil War service, and would have been invaluable to researchers! State censuses are equally as important. Taken randomly, they are a little-known or seldom-used resource. Typically collected by states every ten years, in years ending in “5,” New York did so in 1790, 1825 through 1875, 1892, 1905, 1915, and 1925. For privacy reasons, census records are not available to the public until 70 or so years later, the 1940 census being released in April 2012. Records available to the public from 1790 through 1940 are found at a county clerk’s office, online by subscription at Ancestry.com, on microfilm through the Family History Center of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, with some census records transcribed and placed online at county genweb sites. As a way to pay back other generous contributors, I transcribed the 1810 census for Carlisle, Schoharie County, New York. I’ve wanted to do more, but have not had time to go back and transcribe additional census records for online usage. And that was back when I had the slow dial-up internet, not my fast click’n-go high speed! Initial census records provide limited data. The 1790 census includes city, county, state, page, date, name of head of household, males under and over age 16, free white females, all other free persons, and slaves. The 1800 census begins to break down age groups by years, with 1820 including occupations in agriculture, commerce, manufacturing. The 1830 census includes the deaf and blind, but no occupations. The 1840 again includes age groups for males, females, free colored persons and slaves, but also occupations of mining, agriculture, commerce, navigation of ocean, canals, lakes and rivers, learned professional engineers; pensioners for Revolutionary or military services; the deaf, dumb, blind and insane; data regarding one’s education, and those who cannot read or write. The 1850 census is also a key census as it’s the first to list the name and age of every household member along with numbering the dwellings/houses and families of a town. From 1850 through 1940, data may include the name of each household member, age, sex (which helps when a given name is not gender specific or is illegible), number of children born to a mother, marital status, years of marriage, state or country of birth, birth places, year of immigration, street address, occupations, value of the home, etc. The 1880 census is free at both Ancestry.com and the LDS Family Search website. The census for 1900 gives month and year of birth along with other family and professional data. The 1910 through 1940 censuses are more in depth than previous. Regardless, all census records contain a wealth of vital information on your ancestors! COMING NEXT – Military Records Original blog post at: Homespun Ancestors - Your Family Tree #8
  15. Tug Salute

    In the autumnal season of life, as we age and retire out of the workforce, some of us may begin to feel unwanted and useless. We’ve done our job, and certainly did our best… we put heart and soul into our family and career. But now that we’re a few years removed from a busy active life, and no longer able to do what we once could, maybe some feel like they’ve been “put out to pasture” and left to watch time slowly tick away. These thoughts came to mind on seeing some photos, like the one below from a tug graveyard, taken by Will Van Dorp, aka Tugster, another friend from childhood days. As Will documents in his blog, Tugster, about the traffic of his aptly-named watery “Sixth Boro” surrounding New York City and its environs, we see tugs hard at work towing and pushing barges or assisting an array of ships. Once upon a time, newly minted, they slid into the water, freshly christened with a shining glow, eager to face whatever responsibility or danger came their way. These tugs of various shapes and sizes actively plied the waters for many decades, sometimes sold to be rebuilt, repurposed and renamed to fit a new owner’s need. But, it saddens us when these workhorses of watery roads are abandoned in a lonely inlet graveyard to slowly rot away. They deserve a far more fitting tribute for their hard-earned rest. Sort of like us… Maybe we had only one job, one career, or maybe we embraced multiple careers in our lifetime. Maybe we lived through an era in history with a personal perspective that today’s youth don’t understand. Be willing to share your life stories… the blessings, the fun and laughter, and the tears in tough times. What was learned through your experiences may help someone else understand how to face their own difficulty. With the end of life coming to us all eventually, whether boat or person, we can still make the most of our time that’s left. We don’t need to retire to the proverbial rocker in the corner… at least not yet anyway! We can be repurposed in retirement to benefit others. We can volunteer our time in any number of ways within our local community. In so doing, we can bring a smile, a sense of joy and love to someone who truly can’t get out and about as they once did. Listen to the stories, memories of the heart. Help a friend share their life’s history. Perhaps you can be the catalyst to write down those memoirs. Create the opportunity for such remembrances to be passed on to their children, grandchildren and great-grands, even to others beyond their immediate family. Every one of us has a story to tell… our place in history to share. Like us, those old tugboats are deserving of recognition for what was accomplished during life’s journey with a fitting salute and tribute. Tug Salute Linda A. Roorda They ply the waters, these boats called tugs Each bow riding high with a stern slung low A workhorse they say for river or sea Vital to traffic of watery lanes. ~ Now gaunt and faded like lifeless fossils Left to corrode alone with their mem’ries, Who can recall the day of christening When futures shone bright as colorful hulls. ~ Riding waves high to rescue the dying Pushing and tugging behemoths of the deep Gently nudging, tucking in a berth Or pushing deep scows hauling upriver freight. ~ No matter the calm, never minding the storm They’ve a job to do without laud or praise Handling with ease by a captain’s trained eye Who knows safe channels like the back o’ the hand. ~ But came the day they were put to rest No hands at the helm, their days were numbered Silently rocking as waves tick off time Lapping relentless to a tune not their own. ~ Haunting images mere remnants of honor Come close and listen, if you dare tread near Listen to whispers of tales long ago As we salute you, the pride of the harbor. ~~ 09/30/16 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