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Linda Roorda

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Everything posted by Linda Roorda

  1. A Stitch In Time

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

    Little lambs are so soft, cuddly and cute! In my mid teens, my siblings and I were given a lamb which I promptly named “Lambie.” Very original, huh?! It was only intended until something better came to mind, but nothing ever did. She was a twin, abandoned by her mother and given to us by our cousin, Robert, from his flock. I don’t know the breed, but she had light gray wool with a black face and black legs. As Lambie’s main caretaker, I took responsibility to make sure she was fed. Following my Dad’s directions, I made a gruel with oatmeal, water and evaporated milk, feeding it to her in a glass bottle which had one of my brother’s bottle nipples attached – we were good at making do. And I loved to watch her little tail go “ninety miles an hour” while she drank! Lambie was small, not very old, so we kept her in a box near the old-fashioned wood-burning kitchen stove to keep her warm. It was too cold to put her out in the barn all by herself without her mama. Even our mutt, Pepsi, of terrier and other unknown parentage, liked nothing better than to jump into Lambie’s box to check out this new arrival to our menagerie. And, I’m sure Pepsi wondered why this little one said “baaaa” and didn’t whimper like a puppy, but she contentedly mothered her adopted baby anyway! Eventually, Lambie went to her pen in the barn, and followed me wherever I went. It was fun to watch her spring up and down as she played and ran about the yard and nibbled on the grass. Occasionally, she tried to wander beyond her guardian’s protection until called back to my side. Though I never considered myself her “shepherd,” in reality I was. I provided food and water for her, protected her and kept her from harm… until the vet diagnosed her with Listeriosis, or circling disease. Nothing could be done for her and we had to put her down. Crying so hard I could barely see, I insisted to my Dad that I would dig the grave at the edge of the raspberry patch and bury little Lambie by myself. Such were the thoughts that came to mind after writing the poem below which is based on Jesus’ parable found in John 10:1-21. Here, we read that the Good Shepherd knows each one of his sheep, and He calls them by name. But, the sheep also know their shepherd, recognize his voice, and follow wherever he leads them. Should a stranger enter the fold, the sheep will not follow him… instead, they will run around wildly or just run away en masse, simply because they aren’t familiar with the stranger’s voice. Perhaps, under cover, a thief may come near the flock, pretending to be their shepherd. He may disguise himself and draw a few young, inexperienced sheep away who think they’re following their shepherd. Or, a predator may sneak up on an unsuspecting lamb and lead it astray. Disoriented and lost, the lamb follows the predator to supposed safety. Soon it becomes obvious that the predator is not its shepherd… but by then it’s too late. Except, the true shepherd with his trained eye realizes what’s happened. Like another of Jesus’ parables in Luke 15:3-6, He seeks out His precious lamb and brings it back, or willingly fights off the predator to rescue his little lost lamb. Listening to its Master’s voice, the lamb turns around and joyfully runs back to the safety of the flock… and there it stays, feeling content and peaceful under the watchful eye of its protective shepherd. And I thought, how like those sheep we are… As Isaiah 53:6 says, “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” We have a tendency at times to follow what sounds and looks so good, what seems so right… only to realize later that we’ve been duped… we were on the wrong track… and we need someone to save us. That someone, the Master, the Good Shepherd, would do anything for us, His sheep… especially those who have wandered off or been drawn away by a predator. Not so the hireling who doesn’t care much about someone else’s sheep. With only a little provocation, he’d as soon run away than fight for the lives of those sheep. Just as my heart ached and cried for the loss of my lamb, so the Good Shepherd of our story aches for the lost, and would lay down His own life to protect and save His precious sheep from harm. And isn’t that what our Lord, our Good Shepherd, our Master, has done for us? May we always hear the love in our Master’s voice within our heart and follow His leading… The Master’s Voice Linda A. Roorda ~ Like gentle sheep we’re prone to wander Easily enticed by things of this world But at the sound of our Master’s voice Will we then heed or continue headstrong? ~ The Master’s words will not lead astray Seeking the ones who meander off Softly calling each one by name With tender words of comfort and peace. ~ When storms arrive and release their fury The shepherd guides his flock to safety. How like our Master who longs to embrace And bring us home to rest in His arms. ~ When wolves appear like gentle sheep clothed With flattery smooth they strike unannounced Their intention dark, the naïve to deceive Serving their needs, the meek to destroy. ~ Then words of wisdom are soon directed At wandering lambs who have left the fold Calling them back to a sheltered life Protected under the Master’s great love. ~ Unlike the hireling, He lays down His life Whatever it takes to gather His own Take heed to His call and flee from the foe Lean into His arms of mercy and grace. ~ Like a good Shepherd is our Savior Lord With care He protects each sheep in His fold It matters to Him whose words we follow The call of folly or the Master’s voice. ~~ 06/05/15 All rights reserved. May not be reproduced without permission of author. ~ Original posting and more at Linda's blog, Poetic Devotions.
  4. Actor David Ogden Stiers Dies At 75

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

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

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

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

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

    In a sense, our celebration of Valentine’s Day is but a small example of Christ’s love for us. As we shower each other with loving words and gifts on a special day like this, we bring the light of love to our family and friends. Yet, this love and appreciation we have for each other is also shown in a myriad of ways throughout the year to the world around us in a never-ending circle. As we think about expressing a deep love for our spouse or significant other in special ways, we’re reminded of similarities to the love our Lord has shown us. Coming to the humbling realization that God’s love is so much greater than anything we might experience amongst ourselves, our faith is deepened. Such an incomparable love might be compared to a light that shines upon us and through us. As the light of God’s great love draws us closer to Himself, it washes over us with a comforting peace, and His wisdom permeates our hearts that we may grow in grace… and so shine His light and love on those around us… a never-ending circle, for His love is like no other. In I Corinthians 13, we see an apt description of what a loving relationship with each other looks like. But, it also portrays the epitome of Christ’s sacrificial love for us. His Holy word, His wisdom, embodies His light illuminating our heart as we eagerly reach for Him. In daily reading and studying the messages He has for us, we can’t help but learn and mature as we live out our faith. And, as the light of His word penetrates deeply into our soul, we become more like Him in our daily walk. For when our hearts are open and receptive, the light we find in God nourishes us… like a plant that grows best under the warm rays of bright sunshine. As John recorded for us, Jesus told the Pharisees who were questioning him, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12) Jesus made many other comments referring to Himself as the light of the world. In teaching the great crowds in His sermon on the mount, Jesus expounded on our being shining examples of His light: “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16 NIV) May the light of God’s love, His greatest gift, shine upon us, into our hearts, and through us as we shine His love out into the world! Your Love is a Light Linda A. Roorda Your love is a light upon a dark hill Its beams extending over all the earth. Within its rays is Your peace divine That covers my soul with a heavenly glow. ~ It saved me from destruction’s pit From the grip of sin You pried me free. How can I not but thank You ever As mercy and grace shine down on my soul. ~ It’s a wisdom gained upon this path By learning to face the trials and pain. It lightens the load of burdens and cares And seeks to open doors closed by injustice. ~ It beckons and draws the soul that is lost To hands that created and long to enfold, The hands holding joy and comforting peace, When humbly we turn in faith to our Lord. ~ For we yearn to hear Your voice among us Where Your presence lies in the face of need. And may we then share Your matchless grace With a world that seeks to fill a dark void. ~ Forever Your light will brightly glow Drawing us out to heights of devotion That as we shine Your love from our soul Praises burst forth to our God of all light. ~~ January 20, 2015 All rights reserved. May not be reproduced without permission of author. "Poetic Devotions" offers faith-based poetry and everyday devotions of praise by Linda Roorda. See more at her site HERE.
  10. 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
  11. 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
  12. 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
  13. 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
  14. 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
  15. Your Family Tree #9 - Military Records

    Anything but a boring read, military records are another invaluable source of documentation. The first step is to determine when and where your ancestor served. Often clues to an ancestor’s military service are found in family stories, old photos, death records and obituaries, grave markers and/or cemetery records, local town histories, and other family records or correspondence. Many military records are available at Ancestry.com. You will find draft registration cards for WW I and WW II, enlistment and service records, soldier and prisoner lists, casualty lists, pension records, etc. In searching Ancestry’s records for this article, I found the Revolutionary War pension application file for my ancestor, John C. McNeill. I had purchased the complete file several years ago through the national archives at NARA.gov. So much more data has been placed online at repositories like Ancestry.com than was available when I began researching in the late 1990s. Search for records at the website for National Archives. Click on the Veterans’ Service Records section to begin. You will find military service records, pension records of veterans’ claims, draft registration records, and bounty land warrant application files and records available. I found the WWII enlistment records at both Ancestry and NARA websites for two of my paternal grandfather’s brothers. They had served in Europe and the South Pacific. NARA’s website allows you to download free forms in order to purchase the full military records which may not be available elsewhere. Military records can provide a good deal of genealogical and historical data about an ancestor. The various records may include date of birth, birthplace, age, date of enlistment, occupation, names of immediate family members, and service records listing battles fought, capture, discharge, death, etc. However, bear in mind that military records may not include all data you seek. My John C. McNeill did not note a date of birth or age in his Rev War pension application affidavit, and stated only that he had “nine children…5 sons and 4 daughters”, without listing any of their names. Talk about frustration! However, Jesse McNeill, my ancestor, verified in his signed affidavit that he was a son of John and that was key evidence. Thankfully, John’s wife, Hannah, noted their marriage date, town, name of the Justice of the Peace who married them, and her sister’s name in her affidavit when applying for her widow’s pension. With military records, you can take a little data and round it out with further research. My John C. McNeill answered the call of fellow patriots to serve with the New Hampshire Line at Bunker Hill (or Breed’s Hill) in June 1775. He was a Sergeant under Captain Daniel Wilkins in Colonel Timothy Bedel’s regiment of rangers, in charge of pasturing cattle to feed the men. In 1776, Bedel’s regiment was ordered to join the Northern Continental Army in New York to reinforce the military presence in Canada. McNeill’s pension file affidavits note capture at The Cedars, a fort west of Montreal on the St. Lawrence River, where they were plundered of all possessions. They were taken to an island and left naked, without shelter and scant rations for eight days. At The Cedars, “Bedel left the fort, either [to]… seek reinforcements or convey intelligence. The command devolved on Major Isaac Butterfield… who on the 19th of May [1776] disgracefully surrendered his force of about four hundred men to the British and Indians [who were] about five hundred in number.” (History of Goffstown [N.H.] by George Plumer Hadley, page 124.) Morris Commager’s “The Spirit of Seventy-Six” (pgs. 212-220) provides further corroboration of this capture with many injured, killed, taken prisoner, or dying of disease. McNeill was among survivors exchanged and returned in a cartel between the British Captain George Foster and American Brigadier General Benedict Arnold. McNeill then served out his military enlistment at Saratoga, NY. McNeill’s cousin and friends sign an affidavit in his pension application file stating they survived the ordeal with him, celebrating their release annually thereafter. Another excellent source, a great read which confirmed the information I had on Bedel’s New York Regiment, is found in “Benedict Arnold’s Navy: The Ragtag Fleet that lost the Battle of Lake Champlain but Won the American Revolution” by James Nelson, 2006, The McGraw-Hill Companies. I further assumed that, having served in New York for a time, McNeill later sought fertile land in what historians call the “Breadbasket of the American Revolution” – Schoharie County, New York. After settling in my mother’s home town of Carlisle, Schoharie County, New York in the mid-1790s, one of his neighbors, and likely good friend, was Thomas Machin, whose farmland I have seen on a side road just into Montgomery County and very near Schoharie County. Machin “supervised the making and laying of The Great Chain across the Hudson River near West Point.” “W. Thomas Machin, Engineer, Washington’s Staff, Founding Father of Masonry in Schoharie County…Member Boston Tea Party; 1744-1816.” (Personal view of two New York State plaques commemorating Machin at Carlisle Rural Cemetery, Carlisle, Schoharie County, NY, just a short distance up the road from where my mother grew up.) However, Machin was not likely to have been part of the Boston Tea Party per my additional research. Living in close proximity to each other, I am sure there must have been a good friendship between the two military men and their families – Machin’s grandson, James Daniel Machin, married John C. McNeill’s granddaughter, Lucy Jane/Jeanette McNeill, in 1852. There is so much to be gleaned from in-depth research of ancestors, learning about their lives, extended family, and the historical era in which they lived! COMING NEXT: Last Will and Testament. Original blog post at: Homespun Ancestors
  16. We previously briefly touched on the importance of your ancestor’s Last Will and Testament, an excellent source of family documentation. Wills are filed at surrogate court or county clerk’s office along with estate records for those who died intestate (without a will), inventories of estates, letters of administration, and guardianships, etc. Some older wills may be found online at Sampubco Genealogy as posted by W. David Samuelson from whom you may purchase documents. This site includes wills, guardianships, surrogate’s records/probate files, naturalizations, letters of administration, and cemetery listings. Records are available for several states via alphabetical name search by county. From my experience, mostly older wills are available, but not all of them. I can, however, recommend this site as I purchased several ancestral wills more reasonably than from surrogate’s court or county clerk’s office. However, it is still advisable to go to the appropriate office to search for and copy complete records, which I also did. One drawback can be old style writing and language. Having begun my secretarial career in an Owego law firm, researching and copying old deeds and wills in shorthand, I was familiar with most of the standard language. After transcribing eighteenth and nineteenth century ancestral wills I’d purchased, I submitted several online to respective county genweb sites. They provide an opportunity for future researchers to use this gift, a way to pay back the gifts others have freely placed online to aid in research. It’s all about helping each other on the journey. As for the old language of bequeathing one’s estate, I share excerpts in original format from the wills of a few of my ancestors – original spelling or misspelling retained. Henrich/Henry Kniskern, signed 1780, probated 1784: “In the Name of God Amen. I, Henrich Knieskern at Shoharry [Schoharie] in the County of Albany [before Albany became several counties] farmer being at present weak in Body but of Sound Mind and Memory… considering that it is appointed for us all once to Die do this Eight Day of May in the Year of Our Lord Christ One Thousand Seven Hundred and Eighty make and Publish this my Last will and Testament in manner and form following that is to Say I recommend my Soul unto God that gave & my body unto the Earth from whence it came to be decently Interred… I give and bequeath unto my eldest Son… five Pounds Lawful money of New York (I Mean and Understand good hard Silver Money) for his birth Right… it is my will and Ordre that my Wife… shall have her supporting and Maintainment yearly and Every Year for her Life Time of my Estate in Knieskerns Dorph… [Kniskernsdorf is a now-extinct hamlet established on the Schoharie Creek by my ancestor, Johann Peter Kniskern, the Listmaster of one of the original 1710 Palatine settlements on the Hudson River.] …I Give unto my Two Sons… together Equally my farming utenciels and Tools as both or Two Waggons & Two Sleeds Ploughs and Harrows with all the Tackling and furniture thereof… axes hoes & other Implements of husbandry… I Give to my Two Daughters, as bed Goods, Pewter Goods, Iron pots, Cooper goods & other goods… I give to my Two Sons… Equally my Loom and all & Every articles that belongs to Weavers…” Adam Dingman, a prosperous freeholder of Kinderhook and Albany, wrote “...know all men that in the year seventeen hundred and twenty and twenty-one, the twenty-first day of January, in the seventh year of the reign of our sovereign lord, King George, I, Adam Dingeman, born at Haerlem, Holland, sick and weak of body, but having the perfect use of my senses…” Unfortunately, he did not name his children from whom I have proven descendancy. George Hutton, son of Lt. Timothy Hutton, listed all children, with daughters by their married names, a very helpful will. An interesting inventory with values was attached to his wife Elizabeth’s will from 1845. Numerous items were listed, including “1 feather bed $7.25, 1 blue and white spread $4.00, 1 straw bed tick $.25, 1 brown calico dress $.37, 1 black cashmere shall $.75, 1 pr morocco shoes $.50, 1 rocking chair $1.00.” Other wills bequeath hereditaments (one of my favorite words), i.e. land, crops, tools, animals. A McNeill family will “allows” an unmarried sister to use half of the house for life. And an inventory made in 1758 for the estate of John McNeill, an apparently wealthy mariner (father of John C. McNeill), includes “1 Jacket of Cut Vellvet & 1 pair of Black Vallvet Britches, 1 paire of Lether Buckskin Britches, 1 Great Coat of Davinshire Carsey, 1 fine linnin Sheet x3 coarse ones, 1 45 weight of fetther, 1 paire of carved Shew buckells & knee buckells of silver, 1 paire Sleve buttons of gold, 2 Small Bibells w/one Silver clasped, 1 book called fishers Arithmitick, 1 seet of Harrow teeth, 1 Seet of plow Irons.” Old documents do make fascinating reads! COMING NEXT: Genealogy Websites Original blog post at: Homespun Ancestors - Your Family Tree #10
  17. The Stalwart

    The old red barn stood tall on an open flat, alone against the gray sky, testament to a long life. It had weathered countless storms, looking only a little worn with wear and with a few repairs… another great photo by my friend Kathy’s husband, Hugh Van Staalduinen. And once again, the picture painted a thousand words that raced through my thoughts. As we celebrated my husband’s 65th birthday in June, that barn seemed to be the perfect illustration of Ed’s character over the years. In fact, the day I saw the photo, and wrote this poem in a couple hours, I was waiting to bring him home from yet another hospitalization. Stalwart, steadfast and true, he’s remained standing no matter what life has sent his way. Oh, sure he’s aged, with just a few repairs; but, like that barn, he’s faced many storms head on, never bending to the winds attempting to shake his foundation. He’s remained firm with his faith in the Lord, resting secure in God’s provision and love. Yet, it hasn’t always been easy. There have been some serious storms that sent waves crashing against him… and against us as a couple. Despite some plain old-fashioned trials, dashed hopes causing great disappointments, the loss of a daughter, and his losses of sight, physical strength and ability, he’s overcome those trials with an inner strength and peace that comes from his faith in the Lord. Through each difficulty, his and our faith has grown stronger, for we’ve learned “[We] can do all things through [Christ] who strengthens [us]” (Philippians 4:13) As I’ve said many times before, James 1:2-4 says it so well, even though we don’t want to welcome another difficult challenge. “Consider it pure joy my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing.” Being “strong in the Lord and in His mighty power” (Ephesians 6:10-13) is the foundation on which we survive great storms and come out standing. (Proverbs 10:25) Just like that barn in Hugh’s photo. If we have a good foundation on the solid rock (Godly wisdom), weathered by time (experience), the structure (our character) will stand tall… and prove stalwart and unwavering. The Stalwart Linda A. Roorda Stalwart and stoic through the test of time Facing the world to weather life’s storms Meeting head on whatever befalls Humbly proclaiming, steadfast I stand. ~ Bringing together nature’s harmony Weathered and worn, reliably true Dependably there to meet others’ needs Asking for nothing but structural care. ~ Like the pioneers who settled this land And carved their place from wilderness wild, Weathered by nature midst elements raw They kept life sheltered from all threats and harm. ~ Without proper care, wood planks become warped Foundations fail without wisdom’s base. Oh, can’t you see! The meaning is clear! How like old barns are patriarchs wise. ~ Learning through hardship true wisdom is gained Taking a stand for what matters most, Sometimes enduring alone in the crowd Serene and secure midst turmoil and storm. ~ God bless the stalwart, unwavering friend Who braves the path no matter the storm. Of foe unafraid, on wisdom standing Steadfast and loyal with comforting peace. ~~ 01/06/17 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
  18. Letters to You

    I’m sure it doesn’t come as a surprise to anyone, but we don’t write letters like we used to. I know I don’t. We phone, email, text, tweet, IM, or whatever it takes to converse in an instant… There was a time I regularly wrote letters to friends, and to my grandmother. Every week Grammy heard all about my growing pains and insecurities as a teen, all about adventures in my marriage as a farmer’s wife - gardening, learning to can and freeze food for the winter assisted by the gift of her invaluable book, “Rodale’s Organic Gardening”, and extensive sewing for my family. She heard all about my babies, her great-grands, as they grew up, always sending some small picture from a magazine or the front of a greeting card so that my “little ones” would have something special from her in the mail, too. I miss my grandmother… her Dutch accent coming through a mixture of English and Dutch words, but I especially miss her insight and wisdom filling those letters. I always looked forward to them, and I often wish I could reread the treasures of her letters just once more. I’ve read letters from the slower-paced Colonial and Victorian eras on through the modern 20th century - from friend to friend, farmer diaries while researching my genealogy, tender voices in love, those written during war from the battlefield to the family back home, or from the home fires bringing cheer to a weary soldier… each carrying messages from the heart. Nowadays, life is so hectic for all of us. It seems I’m always on the go, cramming work, appointments, hobbies, household chores, and so much more into 16-18 hour days. It’s a different kind of busy from when our children were growing up. We have all our modern conveniences, but do we really get more done? Sometimes, slowing down a pace, and taking time to keep in touch with our friends and loved ones adds a bit more meaning to our busy days. Letters or cards that we write or receive, or even an email with a personal touch, bring a smile to brighten someone’s day. There’s a special meaning conveyed in the written word when we take pen in hand, or type an email. Sharing kindness by simply taking the time to express our personal thoughts is to know how deeply we can touch a heart… especially when illness or a few too many miles separate us. For there’s something we cherish about a personal handwritten letter that carries the fingerprint of joy as we hold the tangible evidence of love in our hands… from one heart to another. Now… where’s that pen? Letters To You Linda A. Roorda Letters written from my heart to yours Thoughts of the past, reflections of life Conveying a love enriched by words With comfort and peace midst turmoil and din. ~ Taking the time to contemplate worth Words begin flight, your heart to touch, A tribute preserved forever in ink With treasured purpose in message borne. ~ Through words expressed we feel the love When distance claims your presence afar As swirling ideas echo in thoughts To find release through pen in hand. ~ They speak of days now long forgotten Reminding of trials we somehow overcame. They pause to reflect on issues of the day Leading the way to cathartic journey. ~ In letters written as the heart pours out Joy is expressed to bless another, Testament is given of God’s tender care That others may know encouragement’s voice. ~ For by our words we unveil our soul Our deepest thoughts midst fears and blessings, A sharing of self that entwines our lives In letters written from my heart to yours. ~~ 08/20/17 All rights reserved. May not be reproduced without permission of author. ~~ "Poetic Devotions" offers faith-based poetry and everyday devotions of praise by Linda Roorda. See more at her site HERE.
  19. Your Family Tree #8 - Census Records

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

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

    It’s that time again! Time to make our New Year’s resolutions! Every year, many of us contemplate where we’ve been and where we’re going, and what to do about it. We make our New Year’s resolutions with every best intention, but all too often the determination fades as enthusiasm wanes. As we head into a future of unknowns, we like to exchange some of our old habits for new, whether they be simple mundane issues of life or more serious life-changing alterations. Yet, there’s one resolution that’s always in vogue. Not in the habit of making an annual list, I’ve been confronted over many years with seeking and extending forgiveness. Pressing on my heart were ways I had offended others. Regretting foolish words I’d said in younger days, I set about attempting to make amends with heart-felt apologies. Though apprehensive at how my messages would be perceived, writing them brought tears in admitting my wrongs, with relief for doing the right thing by apologizing. And then came joy and gratitude with the blessing of generous forgiving responses. We’ve all been hurt and wounded by the words or actions of another. We can be so hard on each other in this world, intentionally or not. Once we’ve been hurt, it doesn’t take much to be wounded even deeper. And we hold onto those grudges. We have a right! I know… I’ve been there… coming from a dysfunctional family, a difficult thing to admit. Writing a poem for my Dad, removing all trace of negativity by wording it in positives, we were especially close with forgiving hearts during his last years. Forgiving my mother and making her a quilt brought us a closeness we’d never had before. I even got to hear both my parents echo my “I love you” at every encounter, words I’d not heard while growing up. In the long run, grudges don’t do anyone any good… including, and especially, ourselves. They erode our joy from the inside. They take away our ability to see the blessings in someone else’s life. Sometimes we want revenge because of the pain we’ve allowed to fester. But, carrying a grudge for any length of time damages us, not the person we hold it against. They might not even know what they’ve done! Go to the person, explain the problem, and attempt to make amends. We also feel a release as we forgive the offender even if they don’t apologize or realize that their actions were wrong and hurtful... even when no one else understands what really happened. Releasing the hurt through prayer allows God to take care of the situation. Our forgiveness of the offender’s injustice sets us free to love more fully… just as God loves us, because we sure aren’t perfect. However, forgiveness does not always mean restoration of a prior relationship. We need to set appropriate boundaries of respect. Forgiving someone does not mean they are given an open door to resume their old ways... especially if they continue to lie or refuse to believe they did anything wrong. When you have tried repeatedly to reconcile and discuss the situation, and no conciliatory effort is shown to understand how they offended you, nor a willingness to apologize and truly make amends… it may be time to walk away, for trust and respect are earned. We can try to cover up our guilt with a façade of innocence, hiding our wrongs from others, but God knows the truth. As Desmond Tutu wrote, “Forgiveness does not relieve someone of responsibility for what they have done. Forgiveness does not erase accountability. It is not about turning a blind eye or even turning the other cheek. It is not about letting someone off the hook or saying it is okay to do something monstrous. Forgiveness is simply about understanding that every one of us is both inherently good and inherently flawed. Within every hopeless situation and every seemingly hopeless person lies the possibility of transformation.”* Tutu went on to say, “Forgiving and being reconciled to our enemies or our loved ones are not about pretending that things are other than they are. It is not about patting one another on the back and turning a blind eye to the wrong. True reconciliation exposes the awfulness, the abuse, the hurt, the truth. It could even sometimes make things worse. It is a risky undertaking; but, in the end it is worthwhile, because in the end only an honest confrontation with reality can bring real healing.”** As the old saying goes, hope springs eternal, and there is always hope that, in time, restoration will happen between you and another. For there is a much better path found in forgiveness… that of peace and joy. It happens when we each admit our errors, our faults, our sins… and apologize and seek forgiveness from the one we’ve offended, and from our Lord, as we live out the change in our heart. In this is found true peace… a joy-filled contentment that no one can take away. The disciple Peter asked our Lord how many times he should forgive his brother who had sinned against him. Jesus replied that he should forgive “seventy times seven” - in other words, endlessly. (Matthew 18:22) That’s a tough one, isn’t it?! Yet, as C. S. Lewis wrote, “To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.” Oh, how true! The apostle Paul also reminds us to “…clothe ourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love [and] let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts. And be thankful.” (Colossians 3:12-14) Forgiveness… it may be the last thing we want to do for someone who hurt us deeply… but, when we forgive, it leaves us feeling washed clean and ready for a new start. And, our heart is filled with a renewed sense of love to readily share with others. What a great resolution to start a new year! I wish you a very Happy and Blessed New Year! Forgiveness Linda A. Roorda Hurts of the heart that abound in life The pain inflicted, the soul that’s wounded The careless words and endless strife Erode our spirit and remove our joy. ~ Raging battlefield within our mind Waging havoc amid destruction Erecting walls with blinded eyes That limit our world and destroy us inside. ~ Offender at times, tossing outward darts Offended the next with indignation We each share blame for wrongs committed As we nurse our wounds or savor victory. ~ Then my soul pours out transgressions I’ve made For You know my heart, my thoughts and my deeds Nothing is hidden, repentant I am As humbly I pray with face turned to You. ~ Your wisdom alone has pierced my heart You’ve caused me to see the wrong of my ways For within Your Word are Truths that shed light As I walk this path that draws me to You. ~ To cleanse my soul, forgiveness I seek To redeem the gift You’ve given for me Your life on a cross that I might be free The depth of Your love I cannot repay. ~ Then go and seek the one you’ve offended Make right the path you both must walk Follow the lead of our Lord above Lay down your pride, release your burden. ~ Forgiveness like oil my soul You anoint In comforting peace with mercy and grace Your blessings of love now cover my heart Redeemed am I, Your praises to sing. ~ For there is no peace like to that above When forgiveness reigns in our tender hearts Compassion to share as blessings abound Bring heaven’s joy to shine brightly down. ~~ 04/09/14 – 08/03/14 All rights reserved. May not be reproduced without permission of author. * Desmond Tutu, “The Book of Forgiving: The Fourfold Path for Healing Ourselves and Our World” ** Desmond Tutu, Greater Good Magazine, 10/01/04, “Truth and Reconciliation”
  22. The Pruning

    Pruning is vital. It cleans out dead branches on a bush or tree. It clears out heavy overgrowth. Pruning is a necessary step for fruit trees and grapevines, enabling them to produce a bountiful crop of top-quality fruit. Pruning also helps plants put more energy into growing and showing off their abundance of gorgeous flowers. For those unfamiliar with the process, pruning helps a plant maintain optimum health. While dead branches, or an excessive amount, choke out the sun from reaching the inner depths, pruning opens up the heart of a plant. Removing or trimming back branches allows the sun’s rays to reach down inside the heart of the plant in order to revitalize the entire plant. It may seem harsh when beginning drastic cuts; but, when the task is done, we have a much healthier plant. Without pruning, any flowering or fruiting plant, vine or tree can revert to a more wild state, putting its energy into unnecessary overgrowth. With pruning, the focus is on nutrition, feeding and nurturing the plant so it produces the best flowers and fruit. Admittedly, I have failed to prune many plants over the years and have ended up with a messy overgrowth that is now a challenge of where to begin. And so it is with us. We need pruning… of our thoughts, words and deeds… a pruning of our heart and soul. With the trimming away of unhealthy vices, we are more open and receptive to change… change which brings out the best in us. As Jesus said, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.” (John 15:1-2) We need pruning to let the Son’s light enter the depths of our heart in order to revitalize us as we begin producing our fruit of the Spirit – “…love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” (Galatians 5:22) We’re all branches in the tree of humanity, bearing fruit of various kinds. We each have something special to contribute to this world around us. Created unique, we’re endowed with individual gifts and talents. But, we often need pruning to clear away the destructive debris in our lives. We need pruning to allow the Son’s rays a chance to enter the depths of our heart… to cleanse and renew… to revitalize us… so that we can shine our fruit, our blessings, out into the world. And since God made each of us a unique one-of-a-kind creation, it brings joy to share our special gifts with our family, friends, and others beyond our close circle. In so doing, we bless them in ways we can’t imagine, so that they in turn are encouraged to use their gifts to bless someone else. The Pruning Linda A. Roorda He takes out his shears and sharpens the blades Ready to trim overgrown chaos. He eyes the tree, knows which branch must go, Which limbs need space as he trims and shapes. ~ Decisions thus made to remove dead growth Prune overcrowding and bring in the sun. Yet not unlike my life’s debris trimmed When clutter is cleared, opened for the Son. ~ Bearing bad fruit shows a branch gone wild And bearing none how stagnant we are, What benefit then to remain untrimmed For lack of growth cannot show God’s love. ~ But if we abide as a branch alive Bearing our fruit for the world to see The evidence speaks our soul’s depth of love That we will prove the Father’s commands. ~ Abiding in love just as He loves us No greater gift has one for another For You, Lord, above have chosen us That we may bear fruit in lasting tribute. ~ Inevitable change without and within As time marches forth on its forever path But what of our heart when the depth is exposed Are we bitter in change or more gentle and kind? ~~ 09/12/13 All rights reserved. "Poetic Devotions" offers faith-based poetry and everyday devotions of praise by Linda Roorda. See more at her site HERE
  23. Gift Wrapped

    “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!”* We love that old song and the memories it stirs. But what does Christmas look like? Along with hopes for the proverbial white Christmas, we each have special ways to remember and celebrate this joyous holiday. Lights are strung to outline houses, bushes and trees, and even vehicles! Christmas trees of real or faux evergreen in varying sizes are put up inside the house. Then we choose white lights, mixed colors, or a single-color theme. And we add decorations and bows, candles, poinsettias and more to bring a festive holiday look to our homes. There are as many ways to decorate as we are different and unique! But then there’s the other part… shopping! It can either be fun or a chore... yet, there’s something in the busy, frenzied pace that belies the true peace of Christmas. I confess to not liking the commercialization that starts barely after Thanksgiving is over, if not earlier. I don’t like hectic shopping, looking for just the right gift by trekking from store to store for hours on end, and waiting in long lines that go on forever. And we especially don’t care to be among rushing crowds that push and shove and grab… we’ve all heard about those examples which, thankfully, I’ve not personally witnessed. The deals may be hard to beat, but… that ambience leaves a bit to be desired. I prefer leisurely shopping trips, listening to Christmas music playing in the background with list in hand because I’m not good at off-the-cuff gift decisions. I enjoy gazing at the fancy decorations and gift ideas on display, giving smiles to other shoppers, and watching the faces of little kids light up at the sights. But shh!! I have to admit I’ve taken advantage of online shopping and actually prefer it now. Yes, me! Someone who could never imagine she’d ever do that! Oh, and let’s not forget the best part of Christmas… all those gift-wrapped packages under the tree! They hold hidden treasures for loved ones and friends, secrets known only to the giver. Giving a gift is exciting, really the best part! As the recipient unwraps their gift, they tend to take on the bright glow of joy... and treasure the gift wrapped with love from your heart to theirs. I’m sure some of my other favorite Christmas memories are yours, too… like Christmas Eve candlelight services, caroling with friends to greet those who are housebound, memories of Christmas Day morning worship services of my childhood, and the happy gatherings of family and friends. All of which brings me to contemplate the treasured gift we celebrate on this special day - a baby born a long time ago. Seemingly no different than any other infant… except that this one was born in a stable, amongst the cattle, donkeys, cats and mice… a baby whose birth was announced by angels to lowly dirty shepherds living out in the fields… a baby whose life still holds special meaning for us today. To an astonished young woman, the blessed virgin Mary, the angel Gabriel had appeared with this message: “’Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.’ Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, “’Do not be afraid, Mary. You have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High.’” Luke 1:29-32 NIV In due time, Mary’s little baby was born… in a stable, there being no room in the inn at Bethlehem. “And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone ‘round about them, and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, ‘Fear not! For behold, I bring you tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you. You shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes lying in a manger.’ And suddenly, there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on Earth peace, good will toward men.’” Luke 2:8-14 That birth announcement must have been so exciting, yet very humbling, to have seen and heard! How awesome to consider that God sent us His love as a tiny infant, gift wrapped in swaddling clothes. The baby Jesus - Emmanuel, God with us… the one who walked this earth on His journey to a cross… He’s the gift of salvation for us to unwrap and treasure. Yes, it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas! Merry Christmas to each of you! Gift Wrapped Linda A. Roorda In wintry stillness there’s a peace I find While the world’s a’bustle with its fast-paced voice Midst a din that beckons in all directions To draw me away from peaceful reflection. ~ From frenzied crowds to pushy shoppers There’s a greed we find in ego’s actions. May we bless instead by giving of self For within each heart we hold the treasure. ~ Yet it seems we rush from here to there Exhaustion filling our stressed-out lives. Did we accomplish what needed doing Or merely deplete our dignity’s calm? ~ May even we with our lists so long Take time to ponder and remember why The reason for joy in this season of cheer Is gift wrapped in peace and given with love. ~ In celebration our voices are joined Recalling a birth from long, long ago Announced to shepherds by angels on high “Glory to God…and on earth peace to all.” ~ For with the birth of baby Jesus We gaze in awe on the promised One Messiah, Savior, and Light of the world The Prince of Peace for our seeking hearts. ~ Most holy of nights when God came to earth To share Himself, gift wrapped and swaddled With an invitation that we would unwrap His gift encased in salvation’s love. ~~ 12/05/16 All rights reserved. May not be reproduced without permission of author. *Written by Meredith Willson in 1951, sung by many, hits by Perry Como and Bing Cosby in 1951. Original blog post at: https://poeticdevotionsblog.wordpress.com/
  24. The Eyes Of A Child

    I think that we, as adults, have forgotten how to view life through the eyes of a child. Their wide-eyed innocence and purity comes to us like a breath of fresh air… like a flower opening its beauty to the sun’s warm rays. But, as adults, we sometimes become hardened by the realities of a harsh world. The evening news on Christmas Day 2014 (as told in Huffington Post, “Prankster Gives Homeless man $100…”) showed a brief documentary of what one homeless man did when given a $100 bill by the commentator, Josh Paler Lin. Standing at the side of a highway with a cardboard sign, the poor man must have felt like Lin was his savior when he was handed that much money! He was reluctant at first to take it, but then gladly accepted the free gift and walked away. From a distance, the cameraman inconspicuously trailed the homeless man as he took the money and walked into town. There, the man promptly entered a liquor store… exiting with two large and heavy bags. The assumption spoken in the video was that the money had been used by the homeless man to buy an awful lot of alcohol. I will admit that I, too, had felt great disappointment as I watched the man enter the liquor store. I, too, made an assumption by association. But, as the cameraman and Lin continued to follow the homeless man without his knowledge, the gentleman walked directly to a nearby park, set his bags down, and began to pull out packages… which he handed to others sitting around at picnic tables. And what was he handing out? Food. After watching for just a little bit longer, Lin went over to speak with the homeless man. Lin explained what he was doing in his documentary, pointing out the cameraman a short distance away, and then asked the homeless man to explain what he had just done with his $100 bill. I was impressed and teary-eyed to see a youthful Lin, with hair dyed both blond and black, tell the older man he owed him an apology for his wrong assumptions. They hugged as the younger man shared he assumed the older man had come out of the store carrying two bags full of liquor. Instead, he had learned a valuable lesson from this selfless, older man who carried all his worldly possessions in a bag… and who thought of the needs of others before his own. “You just touched my heart,” Lin told him. It was then the homeless man told Lin: “There’s a lot of people that are just victims of circumstance, and they didn’t go homeless because they’re lazy… There’s a lot of good people that are homeless.” And I was reminded of this poem I had written a few weeks earlier. May I have the ability to see the world through the eyes of a child, coming to the Lord with a simple child-like faith as I put my trust in His great love. For as Jesus said, “…I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven… And whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me.” (Matt. 18:3,5) With a child-like faith, may I show the world around me the same love the Lord has lavished upon me, a sinner, in need of a Savior…. quite like the homeless man in our story. It was his simple and generous love for his friends which allowed him to share the food he’d bought with the gift he’d been given. He hoarded neither the money nor the food. And in this, I learned a valuable lesson and must ask myself, “Would I have been so generous?” For isn’t that why Jesus humbled himself to be born into this world of sin, a world far different from the glories of His heavenly home… to share His generosity by coming to us as a newborn babe, to view this world from our perspective, and to save us from ourselves? Thank you, Lord, for loving me so much that you saw my world through the eyes of a little child so long ago. Wishing each of you, my readers, a Merry and Blessed Christmas!! The Eyes of a Child Linda A. Roorda Through the open eyes of a little child We see our Lord without the blinders To know His love as gentle as a lamb And feel His arms envelope with peace. ~ The tender faith of one so young Is a gift from God through eyes without fear A simple trust with expectant hope Holding out hands for others to lead. ~ No guile is found within this wee soul Whose love is pure like a heart of gold Who freely gives to others in need That all may praise and bless His name. ~ Untainted youth by worldly vices Pure and trusting are innocent minds With hearts that see the best in us all And faith that hopes with unfailing love. ~ To tenderly hold the hands of a child And feel secure, encompassed by love, To view the world through innocent eyes Is to see the best in all whom we meet. ~ For judging others is not their concern They simply believe that all will be well And though their pride may rear its revolt How willing are they to forgive when wronged. ~ Their trusting heart accepts our reproof When patience is taught by living examples For character grows with perseverance As praises true will confidence build. ~ What would we see through the eyes of a child Is it pure love that encompasses all? Is it a trust in those who provide? And through such faith do our eyes open wide? ~ Faith to trust Him who holds us through storms A trusting belief in His loving heart And with this love to simply accept He knows what’s best as He leads the way. ~ With eyes of a child may we see our Lord The giver of life, bestower of gifts The One who guides with a Shepherd’s voice Who lay down His life that we might live. ~~ 12/02/14 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
  25. Rejected

    Have you known what it’s like to be rejected? To feel the pain of mocking ridicule? We hear the news about our nation’s youth who shoot and kill their peers, or even commit suicide because their peers have mocked and bullied them, physically or verbally abused them, or said hateful nasty words to them, and it breaks our hearts. Yet, haven’t we said things at times that we regret… words which have hurt someone else… perhaps in retaliation for how deeply we were hurt? Sadly, my husband felt the sting of rejection and mocking while growing up. Being legally blind, Ed had to get really close to read any print. In seventh grade, he would have his head bashed into his locker by big strong black guys from the football team… until his brother, Marv, stepped in. Since their lockers were side by side, Marv would walk ahead of Ed and work the combination on the lock so that when Ed got there, all he had to do was take hold of the handle and open his locker. Brotherly teamwork! Kids can be so cruel to each other. It’s a difficult and painful subject for all of us. But we need to look deep into our own hearts to see our own prejudices, our failings, our pride… and the hurtful words that erupt from the depths of our pain at times. It’s not a shameful thing to admit and apologize for our wrongs, and then to ask for forgiveness. It heals the wounds and restores relationships. Back when we were dating, Ed shared his story of rejection with me. He loved sports, especially football, and dreamed of making the team. Out to practice he went every evening with his brother – after late afternoon milking chores, that is. On the day positions and uniforms were handed out, Marv made the team but Ed did not. Talk about disappointment! No one in football management had the courage to tell Ed he would not be allowed to play football. Not one of the main coaches he’d worked with had the guts to tell him after all the time he’d faithfully spent practicing. But who did? The assistant JV football coach (who also happened to be the swim team coach) told him he couldn’t play due to the risks of injury. Talk about “passing the buck”! So, since he loved to swim, Ed decided to try out for the swim team. Again, he went through all the rigors of practice, while making sure he also did his fair share of barn chores, of course. When the list was posted of those who made the team, Ed once again found his name missing. Feeling totally dejected, he turned to walk away… just as the team’s former manager told Ed the coach wanted to see him in the office. That was when the swimming coach offered the manager’s position to Ed, plus all the swim time he wanted at practice… with one catch. Because of his poor vision, he would not be able to participate in swim meets for fear he might stray from his lane and either hurt himself or someone else. Being a strong farm lad of nearly his final 6 feet 7 inches, Ed had a powerful fast stroke, could stay under water a long time, swam like a pro, and never strayed from his lane in practice. But, graciously accepting the position of Equipment Manager and Scorekeeper for home meets, he did an excellent job for the team which went on to win Section 9 championship two years in a row for their high school in Orange County, New York. Which brings us full circle… and to our Lord who never rejects us. Just as Moses told Joshua and the Israelites that God would go with them into the Promised Land, we, too, can “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:7) We can face those who mock us. We can stand up to bullies and move forward with our head held high. Because when we come to God in our failures and rejections, He welcomes us, and walks beside us. He’s there to help us find a better way or give us a better friend when we face ridicule and rejection. He will forgive our own wrongs and heal our deep wounds, allowing us to go and do likewise… to offer love and healing to those we have hurt, and to those who have offended us. But, forgiveness does not mean returning to a bullying or harmful relationship unless the offender truly recognizes their wrongs and mends their ways. Don’t take revenge… turn that rejection into something good, and bless the offender instead! Rejected Linda A. Roorda Why’dja pick him? We don’t want her! Not on our team! We want to win! To feel the pain rejection brings Is to know I don’t fit, and I’m not wanted. ~ But let me show you what I can do Tho I may not be the same as you. I have feelings and cry the pain All I ever want is just to belong. ~ I want to be liked for who I am Not just to be what you want me to be. Walk in my shoes, understand my hurt. See from your soul, care from your heart. ~ Why do you mock? What troubles you? Is there a pain down deep in your soul? Does it feel good to harm another? Someone imperfect, someone unlike you? ~ Then take your hurt, your sorrow and pain Turn it for good, to others show love That within your heart healing may be found Resting in grace, God’s goodness to share. ~~ 11/21/13 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