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Linda Roorda

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Everything posted by Linda Roorda

  1. Lady Wisdom

    Wisdom... that value within our heart and soul which helps guide our steps on this path called life. An entity more precious than gold. Lady Wisdom’s knowledge often comes from experience, by learning and gaining insight the hard way… you know, those mistakes that can either break or make us. She brings a common sense, discernment, shrewdness… an innate understanding of what’s best. But, this sound judgment can be lacking when we become distracted or enticed by what seems so right, yet, in reality, is so wrong when we heed the voice of Folly. One of my favorite life verses is “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and he will make straight your paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV) As our Pastor Steve put it recently, “Wisdom is knowledge applied God’s way.” Yet, like I’ve said before, I often think I can take the reins and direct my own way… only to realize that I erred, once again, and need to grasp His hand, allowing God to guide me as I learn from His infinite wisdom. With wisdom comes the ability to discern or judge right from wrong… to think and act appropriately, and to not become enmeshed in Folly’s foibles. As God searches the depth of our heart, His Spirit reaches out to us with a still small voice in our inner being. If we’ve embedded Lady Wisdom’s truth within our heart, we’ll know whose voice to trust and follow. And, as we humbly follow Lady Wisdom’s righteous ways, a calm and peaceful tranquility will envelope our soul. We’ll know we’ve chosen the right path when we’ve given time and consideration to acting in a way that would receive God’s blessing. I love the book of Proverbs for the depth of wisdom gleaned as we “Listen to my instruction and be wise; do not ignore it. Blessed is the man who listens to me… for whoever finds me finds life… but whoever fails to find me harms himself.” (Proverbs 8:33-36 NIV) Lady Wisdom… a personification of God’s attributes in the feminine form. She is not meant to take His holy place, but rather to give a human side to God’s omniscience… for “the fear [awe, respect] of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” (Proverbs 9:10 NIV) Lady Wisdom Linda A. Roorda Lady wisdom carries high her torch She lights the way with truth on her side. Her words bring strength to face life’s trials With comfort and peace when the winds blow fierce. ~ Listen and heed her still small voice Words to the soul that lead and protect, For like a lantern which brightens the way So is Wisdom in guiding your life. ~ When lured and tempted by desires for more Do not be swayed by enticements sweet. For trust is earned with truth and respect A higher calling than rebellious ways. ~ Seek out the Lord whose hand will uphold Stand firm on His word within your heart. Learn at His feet, discerning the right His knowledge gain with treasured insight. ~ Be wise in judgment, perceiving the darts Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Lean not upon your own understanding But acknowledge Him, the giver of Wisdom. ~~ 03/17/17 ~ 05/30/17 All rights reserved. May not be reproduced without permission of author. ~~
  2. Spring's Debut

    It’s common knowledge that spring is my favorite season! I love earth’s awakening from those long and dreary winter days… though this past winter seemed like it just didn’t want to release its hold on the cold and snow. But now, the sun shines brighter, the sky is bluer, and there’s an obvious warmth that’s beginning to penetrate every fiber of every living thing. There may be a good deal of rain mixed in; but, with that rain, slowly and surely new growth takes shape as tiny leaves, flower buds, and new blades of grass begin to emerge. The cold blanket of snow has been thrown off, the creeks and rivers flow abundantly along their way, and sparkling gems of color begin to explode. It’s a seasonal dance featuring the debutant of spring dressed in her finest! Drink in the pleasure of every facet of spring… from the sylvan palette of leaves in multitudinous shades of green, yellow and purple… to blossoms of white, pink, yellow, red, blue and every shade in between… to birds with their various colors and lilting tunes… to skies wrapped in shades of azure with clouds from white to deep gray… to shades of pink, purple, orange and red at sunrise and sunset… to the velvet black night skies of sparkling diamonds… to spring showers bearing fresh aromas as they saturate and nourish the plants and soil… to the tantalizing and aromatic blossoms from lilacs, roses, sweet peas, irises, daffodils, lilies of the valley… and so much more. “See! The winter is past; the rains are over and gone. Flowers appear on the earth, the season of singing has come, the cooing of doves is heard in our land. The fig tree forms its early fruit; the blossoming vines spread their fragrance…” (Song of Solomon 2:11-13a) Enjoy creation’s blessing in every sense of sight and sound, taste and smell, for “He has made everything beautiful in its time!” (Ecclesiastes 3:11a) Spring’s Debut Linda A. Roorda At the dawning of spring’s welcome debut The earth awakens from wintry slumber She yawns and stretches, throwing off covers Changing her gown from white to sylvan green. ~ She welcomes showers of refreshing dew As fragrant aromas drift on gentle breeze While life’s renewal and emerging growth Bring bright adornment for the bleak and barren. ~ Slowly she dons her delicate gown Until she’s covered in brilliant hues With sunlight’s rays streaming their warmth She lifts her face to absorb their glow. Regaled in finery like delicate silk She extends a brush to paint her palette With every shade of the rainbow bright Her crowning glory like entwining tresses. ~ As we gaze in awe at the transformation From sleeping beauty to splendor arrayed Like multi-hued gems that sparkle and shine Is spring’s debut, prepared for the dance. ~~ 03/05/17 All rights reserved. May not be reproduced without permission of author. ~~
  3. Bannerman's Castle on the Hudson

    A Scottish castle on the Hudson? Drawn to the hazy beauty of this photo, I was mesmerized by the castle’s classic lines… so reminiscent of centuries-old castles scattered around the British and Scottish moors and highlands, intrigued to know it sat upon American soil. After researching and naming my Mom’s maternal Scots-Irish, I am proud to say that they, too, hold a special place in my heart amongst all my Dutch ancestors. Photo by Will Van Dorp, Tugster Think back with me to an earlier day when the adventurous Europeans followed Henry Hudson’s momentous sail north on a river now bearing his name. It was an era of exploration, a prosperous time for the Dutch and their friends as they established a considerable presence in the settling of Nieuw Nederlands… and traveled freely up and down the North River with its invitingly peaceful, and beautiful, sylvan surroundings. Now envision a fairy-tale castle of Scottish design built upon a solid rock foundation, entirely surrounded by a pristine and placid river as its moat. At times though, depending on the season and storm, the waters become riled and treacherous, perhaps evoking images of an ancient castle set upon the lonely and stormy seacoast of bonnie Scotland. Such a sighting embodies the ambiance of castle life in the Middle Ages… a time of chivalry when knights in shining armor went out to battle, bravely protecting their sovereign and his empire, returning home with honor to win the heart of a certain fair young maiden… Roughly 50 miles north of New York City lies an island comprising about 5-1/2 or 6-1/2 acres (depending on source) along the eastern shore of the Hudson River as you head north. Pollepel Island is a lush growth of trees, bushes, flowers and gardens, clamoring vines, weeds, bugs, ticks, snakes, and rocky ground. Not surprisingly, the hardy Dutch left their influence on our language and place names all throughout the new world in both New Amsterdam proper and environs of the greater New Netherlands. Naturally this little island, Pollepel (i.e. Dutch for ladle), was named by these hardy early settlers, situated in an area designated as the “Northern Gate” of the Hudson River’s Highlands. Just like in the Old Country, the island’s natural harbor provides the perfect setting for a castle… Bannerman’s Island Arsenal, to be exact. Arsenal, you ask? Yes, a place where knights could well have donned shining armor for their king and perched behind the battlements with all manner of arms. Photo by Will Van Dorp, Tugster, Long before there was a castle of dreamy old-world architecture, it was said that Native Americans refused to take up residence on this mound of rock. Believing the island to be haunted, the Indians rarely dared set foot upon it in daylight, if at all, while their enemies flaunted that fact by seeking refuge on the rocky shore… The hardy mariners who once sailed Hudson’s North River left a legacy of legends and tales of this little island. Washington Irving of Tarrytown, told with skillful imagination the story of “The Storm Ship”, also known as the “Flying Dutchman”. Fear of goblins who dwelt on Pollepel Island was as real as that of their leader, the Heer of Dunderburgh. It was well known that Dunderburgh controlled the winds, those furies which provoked the waters, making safe passage of the Highlands a thing to be envied. With the sinking of the famed “Flying Dutchman” during an especially severe storm, the captain and crew found themselves forever doomed. And, if you should ever find yourself traveling the river near Pollepel in such a storm, listen closely… for in the howling of the winds which whip the sails, you just might hear the captain and his sailors calling for help. Another legend which early Dutch sailors spoke about was that of Polly Pell, a beautiful young lady rescued from the river’s treacherous ice. Romantically saved from drowning by the quick wit and arms of her beau, she married her rescuer. Such are the dreams of the romantically inclined… From a more practical perspective, Gen. George Washington used the strategically placed Pollepel Island during the American Revolution in an effort to prevent British ships from sailing north. “Chevaux de frise” were made of large logs with protruding iron spikes which, when sunk upright in the river, were intended to damage ships’ hulls and stop the British from passing through. However, these particular obstructions, set up between the island and Plum Point on the opposite shore, did not deter the resourceful British. They simply sailed with ease past the sunken deterrents in flat-bottomed boats. Washington also planned to establish a military garrison for prisoners-of-war on Pollepel Island, but there is no proof extant that his idea was ever implemented. According to Jane Bannerman (granddaughter-in-law of the castle’s builder) in “Pollepel - An Island Steeped in History”, the island had just five owners since the American Revolution era: “William Van Wyck of Fishkill, Mary G. Taft of Cornwall, Francis Bannerman VI of Brooklyn, and The Jackson Hole Preserve (Rockefeller Foundation) which donated the island to the people of the State of New York (Hudson Highlands State Park, Taconic Region, New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation).” Francis (Frank) Bannerman VI, the island’s third owner, was born March 24, 1851 in Dundee, Scotland. His ancestor was the first to bear the honored name of Bannerman seven centuries ago. At Bannockburn in 1314, Stirling Castle was held by the English King, Edward II. Besieged by the Scottish army, however, Edward II’s well-trained troops were ultimately defeated in a brutal battle. Less than half the size of England’s army, the successful brave Scotsmen were commanded by the formidable Robert the Bruce, King of Scots. During that battle, Francis VI’s ancestor rescued their Clan Macdonald’s pennant from destruction. In reward, Robert the Bruce is said to have torn a streamer from the Royal ensign and bestowed upon Francis’s ancestor the honor of “bannerman,” the auspicious beginning of the family name. Fast forward a few centuries and, interestingly, we learn that two years after the February 8, 1690 Schenectady (New York) massacre by the French and Indians, there was a similar massacre in Scotland. Barely escaping the Feb 13, 1692 massacre of the Clan Macdonald at Glencoe in the Scottish Highlands by the Campbells, Francis Bannerman I and others sailed to Ireland. With the family settling in Antrim for the next 150 years or so, it was not until 1845 that Francis Bannerman V returned his branch of the family’s presence to Dundee, Scotland. There, Francis VI was born into this distinguished family. When but a lad of 3 years, his father brought the family across the pond to America’s shores in 1854. Settling in Brooklyn by 1856, the Bannerman family has remained with a well-respected presence. Francis V earned a living by reselling items in the Brooklyn Navy Yard which he’d obtained cheaply at auctions. A few years later, on joining the Union efforts in the Civil War, his 10-year-old son, Francis VI, left school to help support the family. Searching for scrap items after his hours in a lawyer’s office, young Frank VI also sold newspapers to mariners on ships docked nearby. In the evenings, he trolled or dragged local rivers and searched the streets and alleys, ever on the lookout for profitable scrap items, chains, and other odds and ends, even sections of rope, all eagerly bought by local junkmen. Returning from war an injured man, Francis V saw how successful his son had become with his scrap business. By realizing that items he sold held more value than ordinary junk, young Frank had made good money. To handle the growing accumulations of items his son had collected, and the military surplus in 1865 purchased at the close of the Civil War, Bannerman’s storehouse was set up on Little Street. Next, a ship-chandlery shop was established on Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn. Returning to school with his father at home, young Francis received a scholarship to Cornell University. However, owing to his father’s disability, family loyalty won out and he declined to pursue the halls of higher education in order to help run the family business. In 1872, 21-year-old Francis VI took a business trip to Europe. Visiting his grandmother in Ulster, Ireland, he met Helen Boyce whom he married June 8, 1872 in Ballymena. Two of their sons, Francis VII and David Boyce, eventually joined their father in the family business. A third son, Walter Bruce, took a different path by earning his medical degree. Sadly, their only daughter died as an infant. Charles, grandson of Francis VI, married Jane Campbell, a descendant of the ancient Campbells who had attempted to destroy the Macdonald clan (from which massacre Francis I had escaped). Their marriage showed love was the impetus to rise above the ancient rivalry between the families, reminiscent of the Appalachian’s storied Hatfields and McCoys. Considered the “Father of the Army-Navy Store”, Frank Bannerman VI opened a huge block-long store on Broadway by 1897. Here, his large building of several floors housed untold numbers of military supplies, munitions and uniforms from all around the world. Francis/Frank was the go-to man in equipping soldiers for the Spanish-American War. At that war’s end, the company bought arms from the Spanish government and most of the weapons which the American military had captured from the Spanish. Printing a 300-400 page mail order catalog from the late 19th century through the mid-1960s, collectors found a large array of military surplus and antiquities. As city laws limited Bannerman’s ability to retain his massive holdings within the city proper, a larger facility was sought to store their collection of munitions. As he relaxed by canoeing the Hudson River around this time, David Bannerman observed an inconspicuous little island. Finding Pollepel Island perfectly suited to their needs, his father, Frank VI, approached the Taft family and purchased the island in 1900. Designing a Scottish-style castle to honor the family’s legacy, they built an arsenal to store their vast munitions supplies, with a smaller castle providing a family residence. On the side of the castle facing the Hudson River, “Bannerman’s Island Arsenal” is embedded in the castle façade, clearly informing all passersby of its purpose to this day. As the largest collector of munitions in the world, buying and selling to many nations, including Japan during the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-1905,and to private citizens like you and me, even Buffalo Bill Cody, military memorabilia collectors, theatrical establishments, and artists needing props, Mr. Francis Bannerman VI held an in-depth knowledge of the military supplies and ordnance in his possession. But, not being a man of greed, he refused to arm revolutionaries and returned their money on learning their intention. At the opening of World War I, he reportedly shipped 8,000 saddles to the French Army and delivered thousands of rifles and ammunition to the British at no cost. Though extremely successful selling munitions, Francis/Frank Bannerman VI considered himself a kind and generous man, “a man of peace”. It was his intention that such a vast collection of arms as his would eventually be considered “The Museum of the Lost Arts.” Energetic and devoted to his church and public service, he also taught a boys’ Sunday School class. He enjoyed bringing friends to the island to experience his family’s hospitality. His wife, Helen, who loved to garden, had paths and terraces constructed throughout the property. Even today, tour guides point out the many flowers and shrubs she planted which have survived the decades, the beauty of which enhance the antiquity of the castle ruins. With the death of Francis Bannerman VI on November 26, 1918 at age 64, building on the island stopped and many setbacks seemed to befall his estate. Two years later, an explosion of 200 tons of stored shells and powder destroyed part of the castle. With State and federal laws controlling the sale of munitions to civilians, sales began to plunge for Bannerman’s Arsenal. Family continued to reside in the smaller castle on the island into the 1930s; but, for the sake of their customers, sold their goods more conveniently from a warehouse in Blue Point, Long Island into the 1970s. In 1950, a pall fell over the island and its castle when the ferry “Pollepel” (named for the island it served) sank in a storm. Then, when the island’s caretaker retired in 1957, Bannerman’s island remained abandoned and untended for years. Frank VI’s grandson, Charles Bannerman, wisely predicted in 1962 that “No one can tell what associations and incidents will involve the island in the future. Time, the elements, and maybe even the goblins of the island will take their toll of some of the turrets and towers, and perhaps eventually the castle itself, but the little island will always have its place in history and in legend and will be forever a jewel in its Hudson Highland setting.” Ultimately, New York State bought the island and its buildings in 1967 after all military supplies had been removed, and tours of the island and castle commenced in 1968. Unfortunately, a devasting fire on August 8, 1969 destroyed the Arsenal along with its walls, floors and roofs making the island unsafe, and it was closed to the public. Though the castle now sits in ruins, much of the exterior walls are still standing, accented with climbing ivy, and held up in the weakest sections by supports. Since virtually all interior floors and walls were destroyed by fire, “vandalism, trespass, neglect and decay” have continued taking their toll over the decades. In more recent years, the island once again made headlines with a tragic story. On April 19, 2015, Angelika Graswald and her fiancée, Vincent Viafore, kayaked to Bannerman’s Castle Island. Attempting to return from their outing in rough waters, Viafore’s kayak took on water and overturned, resulting in his drowning. Graswald, charged with Viafore’s murder, admitted to removing the drain plug. Arraigned in Goshen, Orange County, NY, a plea deal was later reached before the case went to trial. Pleading guilty to a lesser charge of criminally negligent homicide, she was released from prison not long after, having duly served the time of her reduced sentence. Few people know and remember “Bannerman’s Island” during its glorious past like Jane Bannerman (wife of Charles, Francis VI’s grandson). Assisting The Bannerman’s Castle Trust and the Taconic Park Commission to repair the buildings, Jane has noted, “…it all comes down to money, and if they don’t hurry up, it’ll all fall down. Every winter brings more destruction.” Unsafe conditions on and around the island are due to both underwater and land hazards, not to mention unstable castle walls. Due to these conditions, it is advised you do not attempt to visit the island on your own. The Bannerman’s Castle Trust has initiated “hard hat” tours along with other entertainment venues. By making island visits possible, it is the Trust’s hope they will be able to restore the castle, smaller castle home, and gardens for the public to enjoy more fully. In the interest of preserving the rich history of this Scottish Castle on a small island in the Hudson River, we hope The Bannermans’ Castle Trust is successful in its restoration endeavors. Hudson River Cruises advertise a tour from Newburgh Landing: “Ruins of a 19th century castle on Bannerman’s Island can be seen on special guided history and walking tours departing from Newburgh Landing and Beacon.” For information on 2-1/2 hour guided tours held May through October call: 845-220-2120 or 845-782-0685. With my own maternal Scots-Irish McNeill and Caldwell heritage, I was intrigued by the photos of such an old-world castle built on a small, seemingly insignificant island. The fairy-tale ambiance of this Scottish castle stands out, visible by boat and train, amidst the New Netherlands’ Dutch influence up and down the Hudson River. I hope someday to take a guided tour on Pollepel Island and see Bannerman’s Castle; but, for now, the photos and articles will have to do. Many thanks to friend Will Van Dorp who initially piqued my interest by posting his photos and synopsis of the island, castle, and its environs on his blog, Tugster: Hudson Downbound 18b, April 12, 2018 - Scroll down to photo of Bannerman’s Castle which prompted my story. Landmarks, Bannerman’s Castle Arsenal, 2013 More Ghosts, photography of Bannerman Castle, 2007 There is so much more in-depth reading and photography from many websites, but I referred to the following in my research: Bannerman’s Island Arsenal Bannerman Castle Trust FRANCIS BANNERMAN, the noted merchant and authority on war weapons Bannerman’s Castle: The Ultimate Army-Navy Store Bannerman Island: A Mystery Island on the Hudson Pollepel – An Island Steeped in History by Jane Bannerman Pollepel Island: Private Fortress on the Hudson Bannerman’s Island Arsenal, Historic Images – Old Photos/Postcards Bannerman’s Castle: The Ultimate Army-Navy Store (history and photos of military supplies) 1913 Military Goods Catalogue, Francis Bannerman, 501 Broadway, New York All Things Medieval Ghosts of Old Bannerman’s Island Wikipedia: Pollepel Island
  4. Bannerman's Castle on the Hudson

    Totally agreed!!!! LOL!
  5. Bannerman's Castle on the Hudson

    I can just imagine being able to stand amidst ancient history!! but yuck about the Blarney stone!! too funny! LOL!!
  6. Bannerman's Castle on the Hudson

    How exciting you were able to go through Scottish castles, Mary!!! and yes, they are impressive for standing up to the test of time! My two youngest were blessed to go with our S-VE band to northwest England in latter '90s to give concerts in Yorkshire; they took a tour of Yorkminster and a few castles, saw Hadrian's wall, etc. I love Alf Wight/James Herriot's All Creatures book series and Ed had gotten me his photo tour of Yorkshire with some beautiful castles, or what was left of some. Amazing structures!
  7. 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.
  8. 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 ~
  9. Your Family Tree #12 - Genealogy Website Resource List

    Thank you, Chris!
  10. A Thought About Blessings

    That's beautiful, Ann!
  11. 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!
  12. 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.
  13. A Stitch In Time

    I remember reading this before, Ann, but absolutely enjoyed reading this again. I love this story
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. Making A Difference

    Awesome story Chris!
  17. 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 ~
  18. 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
  19. 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.
  20. County historical and genealogical societies are another great repository of data to aid in your research. Among their resources are town and county historical books which often include brief lineages of early settlers, donated private family records, old family Bibles or transcripts of family data, transcribed census records, church and cemetery records, microfilm of various records including old newspapers, donated copies of wills or abstracts of wills, maps, rare books, donated specialty items, published family genealogies, and unpublished family manuscripts which can often be as accurate as any published composition, and so much more. But, please keep in mind that any family genealogy is only as good as the family’s recollections and the ability to provide solid documentation, so personal footwork is still necessary to clarify or prove data if source documentation cannot be provided. If you know where an ancestor lived, contact the corresponding county historical society. You might be amazed at what may have already been researched, or what the folks can help you with, and how well they can point you in the right direction. There is a research and copy fee at a historical society, though it is always less expensive to do your own research on the premises. When I researched in the early 2000s, an average fee of $25/hour was charged by most societies to have their staff do your research (may cost more now). I personally traveled to several historical societies; but, since that was not always feasible, I also paid for some to do my research. Visit the online website for the town and county historical societies where you wish to obtain data. If you want them to research, write a brief letter of request, include their base fee as listed online, and a self-addressed stamped envelope along with a brief description of information you seek. As they respond in the order requests are received, it may be a few weeks before you receive a reply noting your request for research has been placed. By clarifying data on a family record form filed at both Tioga and Schoharie, NY county historical societies, I proved someone wrongly placed a daughter in my McNeill family. I wrote the submitter for information, but never received a reply. There were two McNeil(l) families in Schoharie County. Ruth McNeil married Matthew Lamont, removing to Owego, Tioga County, New York by 1825. Matthew and his son, Marcus Lamont(e), purchased Hiawatha Island east of Owego on June 23, 1830 and operated a ferry across the Susquehanna River. Marcus Lamont(e)’s son, Cyrenus McNeil Lamont, purchased the island in 1872 and ran the famous Hiawatha Hotel until 1887. I proved Ruth (McNeil) Lamont did not belong to my McNeill family as had been listed on the above family history form. Instead, I believe she was more likely the daughter of John and Ruth (Reynolds) McNeil, and thus named for her mother. John and Ruth McNeil were originally of Vermont as per that McNeil family history writeup which I purchased from Montgomery County Dept. of History & Archives. Per her sons’ census records, Ruth was born about 1782 in New York, the same year as was my John C. McNeill’s proven daughter, Betsey, his oldest child. Betsey was actually adopted by her mother’s childless sister per New Hampshire records. Historical societies often have microfilm of local newspapers for birth, marriage, obituary and death notices. Newspapers are a great source of collateral family data found in ads, public notices, or community event columns, i.e. the old-fashioned “gossip” columns which note the hosts and attendees of fashionable events. Other important historical society holdings include old church records which provide vital information for births, baptisms, marriages, deaths and burials. Old baptism records often include not only the name of the infant and parents, but the sponsors/witnesses who were usually relatives or close friends. Churches do not provide this data, but many older church records have been donated to historical societies. Often, you will find that someone with an interest in preserving this information took the time and effort to transcribe original handwritten records into a neatly typed report. The transcriber certifies his/her work to be true and accurate, retaining all original errors. These records may be in manuscript form or in a published book. Town and county clerks’ offices are also invaluable resources. Check the respective website for who to contact and what records they retain. Marriage, birth and death records are typically kept by the respective town clerk where the event took place. County clerk websites provide information on who to contact for genealogical research purposes. The county clerk’s office maintains original state and federal census records, public land records (deeds, mortgages, liens, and maps), tax records, and wills, etc. Family documentation can be found in wills (sometimes found at surrogate’s court), estate records for those who died intestate (without a will), inventories of estates, letters of administration, guardianships, etc. Always note the source to document your facts, i.e. book, author, publisher, date, page, for example: William E. Roscoe, History of Schoharie County, New York, 1713-1882. (Syracuse, NY: D. Mason & Co., 1882), p. 54. John C. McNeill, Revolutionary War Pension File 20246. Mortgage Book B, pgs. 69-70, Schoharie County Clerk’s Office, Schoharie, Schoharie Co., NY. U.S. 1790 Census, Weare, Hillsborough Co., NH, p. 5, handwritten p. 332, line #9, NARA roll M637_5 (ancestry.com census record). When appropriate, you may certainly state data was found on personal visit to a specific named cemetery (be sure to include the address), a personal conversation with someone specific, or in a box of letters found in Grandma’s attic. But don’t forget to note date of visits and conversations, and full names, including maiden and married surnames. By keeping solid research documentation, it will always be available to validate your findings as needed. You will never regret the extra effort. COMING NEXT: Cemetery Records "Homespun Ancestors is written by Linda Roorda. To see more, visit her site HERE
  21. Your Family Tree #5: Brick Walls

    In researching your ancestors, you will hit brick walls – guaranteed! When you do, think about who the most recent known ancestor was. Remember that we discussed previously how the Dutch used a specific naming pattern. Each child was named after the grandparents, alternating back and forth to include each of the child’s grandparents, great-grandparents, then aunts, uncles and parents. Other ethnic groups, including the Germans, often used a similar pattern, but did not follow it as consistently. By searching census records of the community where a particular family was known to live, I found the probable paternal grandfather of a friend’s ancestor. It appeared her ancestor’s middle name was that of the probable grandfather, thus creating a crack in her brick wall. Often, names changed spelling over time depending on the speller’s knowledge, or were changed to reflect the pronunciation. Your surname today may not be how it began a few centuries ago. My maternal family name of Tillapaugh began as the Swiss Dällenbach, being changed in the early 1800s among several lines, including the oft-used Dillenbeck/Dillenbach, etc. Another example is the German Jung, pronounced and often Americanized as Young. From the 1600s New Amsterdam, my Dutch VanKouwenhoven morphed into Conover. My French DeGarmeaux from the Albany area became DeGarmo, while my German Richtmyer became Rightmyer in other lines. Another example of surname change is found in my Revolutionary War families. The original Swiss Dübendorffer became Diefendorf after arrival here in the 1730s. My ancestor Georg Jacob Diefendorf remained loyal to the crown during the Revolutionary War. However, his son, a staunch patriot, took his mother’s surname (his own middle name) as his new surname, becoming John Diefendorf Hendree, to disassociate himself from his father. Paying close attention to details helped me find the marriage date for my ancestors Christina Dingman and Jacob Kniskern. Sorting book by book in one row of the genealogy section of the Steele Library in Elmira, I saw a tiny church book for Montgomery County, New York. This is a typed transcription of original handwritten church records. Having seen these church records online, I knew exactly what I was holding. Searching page by page, I saw the name of “Conescarn.” Suddenly, I realized that I was looking at the phonetic spelling for the old pronunciation of Kniskern; now the “K” is silent. I’d discovered what no one else had recognized before – my great-great-grandparents’ marriage date of October 17, 1840! The Kniskern name began as Genesgern in churchbooks from the 1500s in Germany. It is one of the oldest documented pedigrees of any New York 1709/10 Palatine emigrant according to the author Henry Z. Jones, Jr. in his personal email to me. See his two-volume set “The Palatine Families of New York 1710”. Mr. Jones and his assistants went to Germany and systematically searched records in every town and old church to document as many Palatine-region emigrant families as possible to provide solid documentation for today’s researchers. When researching old families, it is also helpful to know that Sr. or Jr. and Elder or Younger do not necessarily indicate father and son as it does today. Often, this title was used to differentiate between extended relatives or unrelated men within the same community who happened to have the same name. With the old naming pattern, it was not uncommon to find “umpteen” men and boys by the same name in town and church records. Without the title or other differentiation, it can be difficult to place them correctly in their family of origin, though key is noting the birth parents and baptismal sponsors. Census takers frequently wrote a surname based on their own spelling ability, which, I discovered, was often quite atrocious! Be flexible. As you search records, try various spellings as names were often written as they sounded. That fact alone can make all the difference in finding your ancestor. Even my McNeill name, consistently signed by the oldest family members with two “l”s, was spelled variously on census records as McNial, McNeal, McNiel or simply McNeil (without the second “l”). Several years ago, I transcribed the online 1810 census for Carlisle, Schoharie County, New York and submitted it for posting on the county genweb page. Some names were very misspelled; but, being familiar with many of Carlisle’s families from research, I understood the intended names and put them in parentheses. However, in hitting your brick wall, do not jump hastily into accepting published genealogies. If there is evidentiary proof with solid documentation (like I provided for my published genealogies in footnotes) from reputable journals or well-documented books, then you should be able to accept them. But, again, beware as I found false leads, fake ties, and erroneous data which I proved wrong with personal old-fashioned research, part of my published thesis. It pays to put in the extra effort to prove your data. I also want to stress that I do not readily accept anyone’s claim of family ties to famous historical folks, Mayflower ancestors, or royalty – nor should you. Maybe you truly are connected, but I want to see sound documentation, preferably baptismal, marriage and death records, or cemetery records for every generation backward. Also know that most well-documented earliest generations in America begin in the 17th or 18thcenturies. Viable records previous to those centuries are not always available. Since Ancestry.com has records from Britain, Ireland, Wales and several European countries, it is a valuable subscription resource. You can also hire one of their professionals should you feel the need for their assistance. A general search online for records from a particular nation may also be helpful as I found a reputable website with documented birth and marriage records from the Netherlands for my grandmother’s lineage. I purchased the book on my paternal ancestry documented by a distant relative who just happens to work in the genealogy division of The Hague. Though her work can definitively trace my paternal ancestry only to the early 18th century, I’m satisfied. And I was amazed to see the photo of a Dutch constable, a brother of my great-grandfather, who looked uncannily like my Dad! Some of your best resources can be found in books containing transcripts of original documents and/or in legitimate family records (Bibles, baptism, marriage and death records) placed at historical or genealogical societies. Unless you know that what you hold in your hands is truly legit, do like I did to prove my lineage beyond a doubt – tackle the hard work yourself to prove every ancestor. Yes, it’s time consuming and takes years, but the end result is truly worth the effort! Again, many genealogies were written in the past with ties to royalty and early American Mayflower ancestors which have since been proven false. Several resources regarding what to look out for are available at the following websites: LDS Family Search “Fraudulent Genealogies.” Genealogy.com’s “Fraudulent Lineages” by Nicole Wingate. Genealogy’s Star blog: “Genealogy as a Fraud.” Tips on accuracy of research in “Bogus Genealogies” by George C. Morgan. COMING NEXT: County Historical and Genealogical Society holdings. "Homespun Ancestors is written by Linda Roorda. To see more, visit her site HERE
  22. As you begin your research, document everything, every step of the way. Keep some paper files readily accessible, but enter data in a genealogy computer program; I have an older Family Tree Maker version. I also have “tons” of file folders filled with family research data gleaned from online resources and reputable books, emails with fellow researchers, data from visits to or purchased from historical societies, cemetery data from personal trips, etc. And then there’s the shoebox filled with several hundred census records on 4×6 index cards. I also found it helpful to paperclip together each family’s successive census records. As we’ve been discussing, the key is to seek documentation from reputable sources. Try to clarify data accuracy yourself as even the best author makes a mistake. I was very frustrated when the new editor for the New York Genealogical and Biographical Record, who oversaw my McNeill article, rewrote part of my work and erred in what I had originally said – instead of asking me to rewrite. Not being as familiar with the family as I was, she also tied some footnote documentation to the wrong facts, which I somehow overlooked in my final editing, necessitating a correction in a subsequent journal issue, making me look input. I was not pleased, but kept my thoughts to myself. As we said previously, it’s helpful to use a family history form, like these at Genealogy Search. This website has numerous forms to record your data, including blank census forms. When I first began dabbling in genealogy research, I didn’t have this resource available, or at least didn’t know where or how to find it. I initially did everything the old-fashioned way by writing it all out on paper. It wasn’t until I’d typed most family histories for my tome that I was introduced to Family Tree Maker, something which I highly recommend obtaining at the start. It stores your data, connects extended family ties, tracks individuals and families, makes multiple descendancy charts from any progenitor, includes photos, and helps you make a nice family booklet. To publish research as I did, you must prove new data (i.e. previously unpublished) or correct previously published data which you’ve proven is in error – both of which I did. Every fact and every statement you make must be backed by solid documentation, with the source noted for each fact in a respective footnote. If you make a habit of doing this right from the beginning of your research, you’ll at least prove your own lineage definitively without scrambling around for misplaced evidence. Edit, edit and re-edit your story. I cannot stress that enough. Every so often I’d print out my research, using color-coded paperclips to track each family branch of one progenitor in said draft copy. Focus on one ancestral line until it’s as complete as possible before moving on to the next line. Believe me, it keeps you sane and less confused! Back then, I had so many individual names and family ties in my head that I was a walking ancestral encyclopedia for a time… sharing a lot of early New Netherlands/New York history at the drop of a hat, and perhaps a bore to some listeners. After gathering as much data as you can about known ancestors, a good place to start researching further is at Ancestry.com. They have free 1880 census records available, but paying their annual subscription fee will provide access to a greater wealth of records. As a member, at your fingertips will be census records from 1790-1940 (excluding the lost 1890 records), certain military records, city and national records, land records, international records, submitted family trees, baptisms, marriages, social security death index, phone book data, some books, etc. These resources were vital to my research, thanks to the generosity of a distant cousin and dear friend, Mimi, who shared her Ancestry site with me. You will also find family lineages posted at this website; but, be aware that submitted family data can definitely be incomplete and inaccurate as I also discovered. Another good resource is Family Search, a free website by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Search this website for the free down-loadable Personal Ancestral File (PAF). Their data includes 1880 census records, baptism and marriage records, death/cemetery records and submitted family data, etc. Again, be cautious as not all data submitted by individuals is accurate. Books and documents on microfilm can be ordered and viewed at a local LDS family history center. Their resources can be invaluable as they include public records not readily available otherwise. I used the Owego LDS church’s family history center, ordering several manuscripts/books on microfilm. The editor for my McNeill article routinely flew to the main family history center in Salt Lake City, Utah to aid her editorial work, finding documentation from New Hampshire I had missed on prior researches. Your local public library is also a great resource of interlibrary loans. I cannot say enough about the helpful ladies at my local Spencer Library. They ordered many genealogical and historical books for me. These books included invaluable town and county backgrounds from New York and other states from their earliest beginnings, including generational documentation on early families. Elmira’s Steele Library is among those in New York State which maintains a viable genealogical section, and I availed myself of their records for hours many Saturday mornings. Their great collection includes the “New York Genealogical and Biographical Record”, the journal which published my articles, the “New England Genealogical Record”, early New York county history books, transcribed manuscripts of early New York City records, many family surname genealogy books, books on how and where to search, histories of family names and how they changed over the centuries, D.A.R. lists, and so much more. Another resource is Cornell University’s library system. My fear of getting on campus and finding my way around prohibited any attempt at investigating their tremendous genealogical and historical collection. Most of their material is held in the Olin/Kroch building. Use Cornell University’s Olin Library website as a guide for searching. Bear in mind that, just as I was able to do, many of Cornell’s genealogical holdings may be ordered through your town library. COMING NEXT – Brick walls… "Homespun Ancestors is written by Linda Roorda. To see more, visit her site HERE
  23. Growing up knowing that my dad was a first-generation American born to 1920s Dutch immigrants, I’ve always been partial to all things Dutch. Then, researching my mom’s ancestors, and discovering the several nationalities in her lineage along with New Netherlands’ Dutch and their part in building America, has been even more of a treasure. So, why is genealogy so important to us? Put another way, why is history important? To quote David McCullough in the Reader’s Digest, December 2002, author of John Adams and 1776: “The best way to know where the country is going is to know where we’ve been…But why bother about history anyway? …that’s done with, junk for the trash heap. Why history? Because it shows us how to behave. [It] teaches and reinforces what we believe in, what we stand for. History is about life – human nature, the human condition and all its trials and failings and noblest achievements… Everything we have, all our good institutions, our laws, our music, art and poetry, our freedoms, everything is because somebody went before us and did the hard work… faced the storms, made the sacrifices, kept the faith… If we deny our children that enjoyment [of historical story telling]… then we’re cheating them out of a full life.” We cannot walk in our ancestors’ shoes; we can only imagine the way their life was from recorded history. And, though their life seems from a simpler time, it was much more difficult in so many ways. We can also look back with knowledge gained from their experiences, both good and bad. With stoic determination, our ancestors left families and homes behind to sail across an ocean with hopes of building a better life in a new country, tame the wilderness, and push back the western frontier. Typically, they never again saw the “old country” or family left behind. How easy it is for us just to hop in the car for a visit to relatives, or take a flight to faraway places! We have no idea what hardships our ancestors truly faced. As you research, consider the reasons your ancestors left behind all they knew. This will give you a better appreciation for the people and their times. We know the Pilgrims arrived at Plymouth in 1620 seeking religious freedom. In 1609, sailing for the Netherlands, Henry Hudson explored the Atlantic coastline and river which bears his name, looking for the Northwest Passage. Soon after, the Dutch built their vast empire, establishing a presence in New Amsterdam and New Netherlands that helped create New York what it is today, especially the city and eastern half of the state. But, few realize it was the Dutch influence on our early legal and governmental systems, the city’s early design, free trade, individual rights, religious liberty, and language that made New Amsterdam/New York City a world hub well before the 1664 British takeover. A must read is the excellent book by Russell Shorto, “The Island at the Center of the World“, to understand the influence and legacy of that little Dutch colony. The idea of a district attorney or public prosecutor began as the Dutch Schout (Scout). A home’s front stoep/stoop or step often held hearings to settle neighborhood disputes. Baas/boss is Dutch, koekjes/cookies are Dutch, and even our Santa Claus evolved from the Dutch Sint Nicklaas. New York City’s Bowery district was part of Pieter Stuyvesant’s bouwerij, the farm cared for by my ancestor, Pieter Claesz/Claesen Wijkoff (Wyckoff). Pieter sailed October 8, 1636 from Texel, Netherlands as a teen to work on the Rensselaerswyck plantation. Owned by Dutch financier, Kiliaen van Rensselaer, it was located where the city stands today. Pieter’s house, now the Wyckoff House Museum at Clarendon Road, Brooklyn, built c.1652, displays a collection of early Dutch artifacts reflecting New Amsterdam’s history. Guns at New Amsterdam Fort formed the battery on Manhattan, today’s Battery Park. Wall Street was de wal, a row of palisades erected to protect the burgeoning town against Indian raids. Brooklyn was Breuckelen or broken land; Harlem was Nieuw Haarlem named for the city in the province of Friesland; Flushing was Vlissingen. Albany, founded by early Dutch, is the oldest continuous settlement in the original 13 colonies. The Hudson valley region up through the Mohawk River and Schenectady was settled by early Dutch before other nationalities arrived to claim their place in history. Searching for your ancestors will help show when, where and how your family fits into this country. We are a nation built by immigrants of various ethnic backgrounds seeking a better way of life. Essentially, there were four major waves of immigrants to our American shores over the last several centuries. Colonial immigration, begun in the early 17th century, peaked just before the Revolutionary War broke out in 1775. The second wave began in the 1820s, lasting until the depression of the 1870s. The greatest influx of immigrants came in the third wave from the 1880s through the early 1920s (with my and my husband’s Dutch immigrants arriving in the early to mid 1920s), while the fourth, and continuing, wave is said to have begun about 1965. Our ancestors immigrated for religious, economic and political reasons. They sought to enjoy our government-protected freedoms, to escape wars and famines and diseases, to own land, and to seek employment opportunities to provide a better way of life for their families. Ultimately, we were melded together to form a blend of cultures and ethnicities which have become uniquely American. Our next segment will begin to look at specifics on how and where to search for your elusive ancestors. And with this article, I hope to begin a schedule of posting on or about the 15th of every month. "Homespun Ancestors is written by Linda Roorda. To see more, visit her site HERE
  24. Your Family Tree # 1:Genealogy Welcome

    Welcome to the world of genealogy research where your ancestors come alive! It’s exciting to put names, faces, and personalities to your family’s past. Here, we’ll delve into clues to find those whose genes flow through your veins, and who contributed their part to who you’ve become today. But, I need to warn you – it’s addicting! I used this poem, Dear Ancestor, in the 600+ page manuscript I wrote of my mother’s ancestral history: Your tombstone stands among the rest, Neglected and alone. The name and date are chiseled out On polished, marbled stone. It reaches out to all who care It is too late to mourn. You did not know that I exist You died and I was born. Yet each of us are cells of you In flesh, in blood, in bone. Our blood contracts and beats a pulse Entirely not our own. Dear Ancestor, the place you filled One hundred years ago Spreads out among the ones you left Who would have loved you so. I wonder if you lived and loved, I wonder if you knew That someday I would find this spot, And come to visit you. By: Walter Butler Palmer (1868-1932), written in 1906 Several years ago I gave a two-part seminar for the Spencer (New York) Historical Society on researching ancestors. In this column, I’d like to revisit that arena because you may be beginning your research journey, may have hit a brick wall or two or more, or maybe just want to find a little more information on your elusive ancestors. The key to starting a study of your family’s history is through personal research of family records, census records, church records, cemetery records, and war records, etc. This series was originally published biweekly in the former local newspaper, “Broader View Weekly.” My intention is to expand the articles and provide interesting historical backgrounds. Many of you know I also wrote other personal interest/interview articles for that paper, and began a blog, “Life on the Homestead”. When the “Broader View” paper closed, my “Homestead” blog was previously included on the Elmira Telegram website, and was written by researching various aspects pertinent to our early 19th century American history and way of life. I may even decide to intersperse a few of those articles in my new blog here. To introduce my genealogy work and credentials, I researched and documented both of my mother’s parents back to the early 1600s Dutch of New Amsterdam and the greater New Netherlands, including founders of New York City and the Albany and Schenectady area. Along the way, a few French, Belgian and English folk became part of my family with their own fascinating histories. My lines also include numerous 1710 German/Swiss Palatine immigrants documented from church records in Germany and Switzerland as researched and published by Henry Z. Jones, Jr., and the ca. 1718-1720 Scots-Irish immigrants to Massachusetts Colony, founders of the Londonderry, New Hampshire region. Among various genealogy reference books, there are two books in my personal library which were invaluable to my early research: “The Palatine Families of New York, 1710, Vols. I and II” by Henry Z. Jones, Jr., and the incomparable background history of the Palatines and their travails in “Early Eighteenth Century Palatine Emigration” by Walter Allen Knittle, Ph.D. I am not a professional genealogist, but a hobby researcher who loves history. I had no prior training, but learned along the way with the help of kind strangers met on my journey. Several even turned out to be distant cousins with whom I continue to maintain a close friendship. My quest began with my mother’s family tree in hand. Though I never saw the actual tree (which now belongs to one of my cousins), it hung on the wall in my maternal Tillapaugh family farmhouse in Carlisle, Schoharie County, New York. In 1969, my Mom carefully copied down all the names from the tree for my first Bible. Then, in 1998, I purchased a book on my paternal Dutch Visscher genealogy from a distant relative who works at The Hague’s genealogy center. I also have “The Dallenbachs in America” which documents my maternal Swiss Dallenbach/Tillapaugh ancestry. It includes a photo showing my mom’s parents at the 1910 Tillapaugh Reunion on the Hutton Homestead, settled in the early 19th century. My mother’s two oldest brothers inherited this dairy farm, and my cousins continue to run it. But, it was another item which actually launched my deeper research. In 1999, a photo was offered on the Schoharie County Genweb email site noting these words penciled on the back: “First Tillapaugh Reunion July 1910, Hutton Homestead.” As noted above, my uncles inherited this farm from our Hutton ancestors, and my cousins still farm it today. Informing the seller (a professor and antique enthusiast) of my immediate family ties to the photo (showing my grandparents and paternal great-grandparents), he offered it for my purchase, and I was determined to learn more about my ancestors. And part of that photo is featured above as my header image. Out of my several years of extensive research and documentation came three articles published in the “New York Genealogical and Biographical Record” (NYGBR), which are in Elmira’s Steele Library Genealogy Section. You can also find the NYGBR in Cornell University’s genealogy library, or other libraries with such holdings. If there is no viable genealogy library near you, you local library can obtain various books and journals for you through the inter-library loan system. My first article was titled, “Which Elizabeth Van Dyck Married John Hutton?” (NYGBR REC.135:31 – REC indicates the volume, followed by the page on which the article appears). It documented use of the Dutch naming pattern to clarify which of three Elizabeth Van Dycks married the shipwright John Hutton, not the goldsmith, of the same name. They were all of New York City and documented in records of the late 1600s and early 1700s. Though this naming pattern is endemic to the Dutch, other ethnic groups used a similar pattern, but not as consistently or as extensively over the centuries as the Dutch. They faithfully followed a pattern of naming the first two sons after the children’s grandfathers, and the first two daughters after the grandmothers. Thereafter, children were named after the respective great-grandparents, parents, aunts and uncles, or even the baptism sponsors. I absolutely enjoy mapping families using this naming pattern in the online baptismal records of the early Dutch Reformed Churches of New York City, Albany and Schenectady. My second article, “The Family of John Hutton and Elizabeth Van Dyck,” (REC.136:45; 136:135; and 136:193) again used the Dutch naming pattern to determine that Elizabeth Deline Hutton’s parents most probably were William and Ariantje Deline. I could not accept that a prior researcher had published as fact (and believed by multiple genealogists with whom I was in contact) that she was the daughter of 63-year-old Margrietje Clute Deline, a woman who was more likely Elizabeth Deline’s grandmother. Margrietje would’ve held a world record for sure if that were true! This article delineated John Hutton’s descendants (some not previously documented in this family), including my ancestors who settled on the above-noted Hutton Homestead in Carlisle, New York in the early 19thcentury. My research article also corrected other mistakes in lineage, and corrected wrong Revolutionary War data chiseled onto my ancestor’s tall obelisk monument. There were two Lt. Timothy Huttons, my ancestor and his younger nephew. I proved the military data on the monument is actually that of the younger Lt. Tim Hutton. Oh, but it pays off to do your own thorough research! My third article, “The McNeill Family of Carlisle, Schoharie County,” (REC.139:123; 139:217; 139:313) documented the descendants of John McNeill, mariner, of Boston [Massachusetts] and New Boston [New Hampshire]. John’s wife, Hannah Caldwell McNeill, died (presumably) soon after childbirth, while John likely died at sea as per estate records purchased (no cemetery record available). This left their only son, John Caldwell McNeill, an orphan, raised by his mother’s parents in and around Londonderry, New Hampshire. About 1795, John C. removed his family to Carlisle, NY. The McNeills had never been documented as a family, and I knew of only one son, my ancestor, Jesse. But, piece by piece, a family was built from John C.’s Revolutionary War pension file (which only had an affidavit by son Jesse, no other children’s names), census records, cemetery stones, other family war pension files, obituaries, historical society data, out-of-state historical books the local Spencer Library graciously ordered for me, and from other descendants who replied to data I posted online. Unfortunately, I know nothing about one daughter, and only the nickname of one other daughter. Again, there is no substitute for the hard work of personal research and documentation; but, making friends with researchers of the same lines, and sharing data, goes a long way to helping you find your ancestors! It is my hope to inspire you by providing valuable tips on researching your ancestors in future articles. But, again, fair warning – it’s extremely addicting! "Homespun Ancestors is written by Linda Roorda. To see more, visit her site HERE
  25. 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
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