Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Wednesday's Child - Haylee Jane Boniface

"Our Baby"

Haylee Jane Boniface

Daughter of

Paul & Atash

Boniface, Jr.

Dec. 17, 2003

This stone is located in Darlington Cemetery, MD.

Sadly, this small cemetery has more than its fair share

of "Wednesday's Child" headstones.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Tombstone Tuesday - "RC" Reeves


Robert Claude
March 21, 1932
Nov. 21, 1987

Jean Marie
March 21, 1938

Sept. 21, 1957

This headstone is located in Darlington Cemetery, MD.  They are not my family members. 

The scene depicted on this headstone leads me to believe that "RC" was a farmer, perhaps even an apple farmer.  The town is well known in the area for its annual event, the Darlington Apple Festival. 

The 21st was a big day for this couple:  RC and his wife Jean Marie shared the same birthday, March 21.  He was six years older than she.  I'm sure having that shared event to celebrate annually was a source of great fun throughout the years.  Their other "21" was their anniversary; they were married on the 21st of September, 1957. 

This headstone is engraved with the maiden name of RC's wife.  My walk through this cemetery revealed quite a few stones that include this information, along with marriage date, which is also here.  That's important information for ancestors, so it's great to see it shared here. 

I have to be sure to include that detail in my wishes.  I guess you can never be too early in planning those details, but you can sometimes be too late.  

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Abundant Genealogy - Darlington Cemetery

Main Gate at Darlington Cemetery
Harford County, MD

This week's Abundant Genealogy topic is Cemeteries.  Like many family historians, I too, have had emotional experiences in cemetery after cemetery.  Everything from standing in the rain crying, to hugging a kind (and quite surprised) funeral director who guided me during a lull in the day, to wandering and wondering only to leave "empty-handed."  On occasion, seredipity prevails and I immediately find the stone I seek.  Or even better, I find an important connection on a stone I did not seek!

One of my most pleasant, emotional and eye-opening cemetery visits was to little Darlington Cemetery.  Situated on the top of a hill in Harford County, MD, the cemetery was founded and incorporated by the wealthy of the area in 1882. 

The new part of the cemetery is still active today.  I was there back in the fall, on a crisp, sunny day, and there were many visitors.  One dear woman rode through on her scooter, her adult grandson by her side.  They realized I was not a familiar face and spoke to me, and before long, I knew a lot about "the other side" of my Jordan and Jourdan ancestors, who hail from this small farming community.  This blog post explains much more about that day, and why Darlington Cemetery is so dear to my heart.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Gift that Keeps Giving

As I’ve mentioned here many times, genealogy research is a new journey for me, not quite one year.

This time last year when I first signed on the, little dancing leaves were popping up all over the place with details on people previously unknown to me.  While my mom was excited to be filled in on her own great-grandparents and other ancestors, I think she was not so thrilled that I was calling ten times a day to confirm these facts and prompt any memories she may have.

My research did prompt Mom to dig out albums of old photos, which I am in the process of scanning and sharing here and on Facebook. 

But since some family members aren’t on Facebook and don’t follow here, I decided to share the old-fashioned way:  photo albums.  

For Christmas, I bought albums from Michaels, a national chain of craft stores.  They were nothing fancy and not expensive, for my two nieces, two nephews, two sisters and two brothers. 

I'm behind the times in getting an album to my brother in Texas.  Back in October I sent him some photos without thinking to, DUH, put them in an album.  So I picked up one for him, too.  Ed, I am very happy to say I mailed your album earlier today!  Finally!    

I filled the albums with prints of many of these old photos from Mom, captioned with as many names as I knew.  And guess what happened?  They loved it!  Not only that, new conversations have started.  My nephew has loaned me great-Uncle Benny’s Purple Heart and military mementos from other relatives (more about this in a later post).  My sisters are starting to share their old photos. 

Another good thing: there is not so much of that nasty "eyes-glazed-over" look that family genealogists often get. 

One of the best results:  my oldest sister Diane now emails me several times a week with fantastic memories of our parents, aunts, uncles and grandparents!  Diane is the oldest child; I am the youngest, with 13 years (and three additional children) between us.  When Diane was growing up, our immediate family, and indeed the entire extended family was much smaller; life was so very different for my sister than for me. 

What I can’t believe is I never thought to talk to her about these things!  So, besides all this wonderful sharing of photos and mementos, I have learned a very valuable lesson:  everyone has a story to tell.  And, oh, what beautiful stories they are!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Tombstone Tuesday - Mozart Family, Salzburg

Saint Sebastian's Cemetery
Salzburg, Austria

Leopold Mozart

b. 14 Nov. 1719
d. 28 May 1787

Father of Composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
Composer, Conductor and Musician.

Others buried on the site [L-R]
(as related to Leopold):
Jeannette Berchtold von Sonnenburg (granddaughter)
Genovesa Weber (daughter-in-law's aunt)
Constanze Mozart Nissen (daughter-in-law)
Euphrosina Pertl (mother-in-law).

(My photo, Dec. 28, 2008)

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Rest in Peace...


b.  1996

Adopted, March 1998

d.  18 Feb 2012

As Sweet as He was Beautiful.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Friday Family Recipe - Cauliflower Pizza

Over the last year, my family research has taught me a lot of things.  Most of all, it brings home to me, in so many ways, just how different my life today is from the lives led by my ancestors. 

While we all love grandma's cookie recipes, Mom's chicken soup, and all the other great foods of our relatives, every now and then, I, too, have a contribution to the family recipe collection.  Here's another: cauliflower pizza.  This is not my original recipe; it was given to me by my online diet support group friends.  You may be thinking, big deal, another version of a veggie pizza, just with cauliflower on top.  That's where this recipe differs.  The crust is made from cauliflower, and many people say if they didn't know that cauliflower was the crust's main ingredient, they would not be able to guess.  I must admit, I was skeptical.  But this was last Sunday's dinner, and I'm here to tell you, it's pretty darn yummy!
Preheat oven to 440 degrees.  I begin by trimming and cleaning a head of cauliflower, cutting into chunks, and pulverizing it in the food processor.  This turns it into a flour-like consistency, although it will be a bit moist.  That right there is something my ancestors could not have done!  "Ancestors" and "food processor" are words that you almost never see in the same sentence!

Add one cup of the mashed cauliflower with 1/4 cup of Eggbeaters, 1/2 teaspoon oregano, and 1/2 cup of shredded mozzarella cheese.  (If you are trying to go the healthy route, low-moisture, part-skim works well.) 

Spread this on a cookie sheet that has been generously sprayed with Pam or similar product.  Even better, use parchment paper to prevent sticking. 

Use a spatula and spread/pat this mixture into a circle, about ten inches or so in diameter.  Place in a preheated oven for 12-15 minutes, until very nicely browned.  The edges should look almost burnt. 

I checked my pizza "crust" at 12 minutes, and wound up cooking for a few minutes more, and more, and more.  The entire cooking time for me was almost 20 minutes.  But since all ovens are different, be sure to check it at 12 minutes.

Remove the crust from the oven.  If you used parchment, slide the paper off the pan, lightly spray the pan with Pam, then slide just the crust back onto the hot pan.  Top with three tablespoons of your favorite (sugar-free, if desired,) pizza sauce.  Then sprinkle with 1/2 cup of shredded mozzarella.  Add toppings.  In the one above, I added chopped fresh spinach, then sliced up a few black olives, some mushrooms, and even some...wait for it...tofu pepperoni!

Place back in the oven, under the broiler.  Watch carefully to make sure it doesn't burn, remove when cheese is melted.  Cut into wedges.  Talk about YUM!  ENJOY!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Abundant Genealogy - Historical Documents

This is Week 7 of Amy Coffin's Abundant Genealogy series.  The topic is Historical Documents:
Which historical document in your possession are you happy to have?
How did you acquire this item?
What does it reveal about your ancestors?

Last week's topic was Family Heirlooms.  I wrote about the five important documents, shared between my siblings and myself, that tell the story of my dad's life.  While I consider them heirlooms of a sort, they are rightfully, Historical Documents.  But I'm not going to write about them again this week. 

I'll answer Amy's first two questions out of order and quickly:  My mom gave this document to me, along with many other papers and photos, about a year ago when I began researching the family history.  The title of the document is "Department of Defense Personnel Security Questionnaire."

My Dad in his Coast Guard Reserve uniform,
with good friend Pete Santoro.
Baltimore, 1945.
I'm not sure why my father completed the questionnaire.  I have his own copy, unsigned, dated January 31, 1961.  By then, Dad's time in the U.S. Coast Guard Reserve was far behind him (Dad was 4-F and for health reasons could not serve actively.) 

At that time he was working at The Martin Company, grinding and devising tools to that were used in the building of aeronautical things like, oh, B-52 Bombers and such.  So perhaps everyone had to complete one of these questionnaires every once in a while.  I'll have to check what was going on around then that might be behind the need for something like this.  It doesn't matter that I don't really know the "why" of it.  What matters is everything else that's in this fantastic document!

This questionnaire is completed in my dad's meticulous, distinctive printing.  So I can count on the credibility of all the information.  BONUS!

From this document, I have learned:

Every school my dad attended, and the years.

Every job he held, some as a teenage grocery clerk, one as a Western Union messenger, until his eventual employment at The Martin Co. 

His parents and siblings, with birthdates, place of birth, addresses, and for three of those siblings, death dates.  This was helpful; I only knew of one of those siblings who died young.

Every address he lived to date, and the duration.

Five references, always a good thing to have.

Whereas the five documents I posted about last week tell the highlights, this Security Questionnaire fills in the nitty-gritty details.  And I love it!  It was a lot of fun to read through, and also very informative. 

Some (though not any family historians or genealogists worth their salt) may roll their eyes in boredom at the phrase "historical documents," but I can attest, anyone lucky enough to get their hands on a document like mine will be happy, happy, HAPPY!!!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Motivation Monday: On a Scale of One to Ten...

...I am an ELEVEN!  I cannot believe myself. 

There is someone inhabiting my body that I have never met before, I honestly think in my entire lifetime!  In my last Motivation post, I mentioned my new diet.  That’s responsible for all this crazy energy.  As a friend said to me, “Welcome to your new life, Jenny.”

Now, I digress.  This is a family history and genealogy blog, not my general musings.  But I had to give some back story, and that is it. 

Yes, I am an ELEVEN!! (Which probably means a twelve, but “eleven” in all capital letters with exclamation points is even better, to me, than a lower-case “twelve,” wouldn't you agree?)

The trouble is, if it can rightly be called “trouble,” is that my motivation, overflowing as it is, is not AT ALL directed toward my genealogy research. 

That’s OK, I’m not concerned, it will redirect itself eventually, once I finish completely reorganizing my entire house, office, life… 

Truly, today I sat down and wrote a list of all the nooks and crannies in my home that need re-organizing.  Honestly, I think hubby is getting a little fed up, I never sit down anymore just to relax and talk.  He sets something on the counter, and I immediately pick it up and start walking around with it, looking for a place to house it.  You know, "A place for everything and everything in its place!" 

I think he may also be a little weirded out by all this; we’ve been married almost 17 years and he probably has never seen me with this much energy. 

Just Friday at work, I spent the entire day on one project…I tore my office apart and re-organized EVERYTHING!  Threw out all the outdated stuff I had been holding on to, sorted about 20 pounds of brochures, cleaned out and re-organized two filing cabinets of stuff, pulled everything out of the information center and reorganized that, and walked four blocks up the street to visit friends, and then walked down seven flights of steps, all in three-inch heels!!! I never do that kind of stuff, what has happened to me? I LOVE THIS!!!

To some of you, that kind of thing is all in a days' work, but I can assure you that is not the case for me.  But, enough about me.  I just had to get all that out there.  I am getting lots of things done, things I have been meaning to do for months, and sadly, possibly, years.  Most of them just aren’t very genealogy-related. 

Here are the ones that are:

I made copies of this great family photo, which I talk about in Home on Leave, But Not For Long.  I've 
mailed it to several of my relatives, who I know will be happy to receive it. 

Last night, while watching our goddaughter, we made a photo mobile (more in a later post).

I'm preparing a photo album to send to my brother Ed in Dallas.

Gotten a few things listed on Find a Grave.

I’m working with hubby a little bit on his dad’s side of the family.  We’ll be visiting in a few weeks and want to have all of our research ready to go.  Hopefully, we’ll get to a few cemeteries and hometowns. 

I’m also keeping up with my blogging.  I committed to at least three times a week, and I am doing at least that.   I’m doing my best to keep up with the 100 or so geneablogs that I follow, too. 

So this is where I am right now, very happy but focused on other things.  Just today I pulled everything out of the pantry (five shelves worth of food) and re-organized it.  I’m actually starting to re-think my career…a professional organizer sounds right up my alley!  Once I get my genealogy research in order, that is!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Treasure Chest Thursday, meet Abundant Genealogy: Family Heirlooms

This is Week 6 of Amy Coffin's Abundant Genealogy series.  The topic is Family Heirlooms.  Questions to consider:
For which family heirloom are you most thankful?
How did you acquire this treasure and what does it mean to you and your family?

I've been thinking about heirlooms for a while as I considered future blog posts.  When I read this week's topic, all kinds of ideas popped into my head:  my paternal grandma's kitchen ware, Uncle Jack's old fishing mug, the stuffed barn owl shot by Uncle Albert's father about 70 years ago,  my maternal grandmother's salt & pepper shaker collection. 

But as I looked around my house, two things really stood out:  the loose photos and photo albums currently on loan to me from Mom.  Need I say more than they are priceless!  They tell the story of so many lives, not to mention the history itself--look at the clothing and hairstyles for an idea of the 1910s, 1920s, 1930s, 1940s and beyond.  I'm scanning these to share with my family and of course for my own research and pleasure.

Remembrance of Holy Communion
The other heirloom that probably means the most to me is my dad's First Holy Communion and Confirmation certificate.  It's titled Remembrance of First Holy Communion, which he received on May 18, 1930.  He was confirmed two days later; that's also on the certificate.  This document is about 8.5" x 14" in color.  It's really beautiful, even though it is somewhat faded with age.  It has one small tape mark on it.  He or my grandma probably taped it on a wall or in an album at some time. 

Mom passed this to me after Dad died.  My two brothers, two sisters and I each received a document that was important in Dad's life. 

Here's the story:  After Dad died, Mom of course eventually got around to cleaning out his papers, where she found the five documents given to us.  She didn't tell any of us that she was planning this for Christmas.  She got the documents professionally matted and framed, they all look very nice.  She wrapped them in Christmas paper and numbered the back of each.  She wrote the numbers on pieces of paper, and on Christmas Day, had each of us pick a number.  Then she brought out the gifts.  I can tell you, my siblings and I were certainly curious about what Mom had up her sleeve.  Once everyone had their package and Mom gave us the green light to unwrap, the room fell silent as we examined our treasures.  Moments latter the noise level went through the ceiling as we all realized what we had and began chattering, "What's yours about? What do you have?"  Just thinking back to that day makes my eyes tear up!

My sister Diane received my father's hiring letter from Glen L. Martin, (later Martin Marietta and now Lockheed Martin), dated October 2, 1940. The letter says he is accepted for employment and gives the reporting date and place, along with proof of citizenship. The letter clearly states he would be earning 50 cents an hour with no chance of overtime.  His hours were 12:15 a.m. to 8 a.m.

Diane recently told me she always wanted this letter before Dad died but never mentioned it to our parents.  When she opened her gift on Christmas, she felt like it was a miracle that she was the one to receive this letter!  

Sharon received Dad's Certificate of Promotion to High School, issued June 1937, from St. Stephen's School.  Dad attended St. Stephen's for a few years when the family moved from the city to their grandparent's farm in the next county, about 30 miles away.  Now that area is strip malls and housing developments, but in the late 1930s, it was truly considered country.

Ed received my father's baptismal certificate, which is in Polish!  Ed lives in Dallas, so as he spelled words into the telephone, I typed into Google Translate.  We not only determined that my dad was baptised just one day after he was born (they didn't mess around in those days!), but the church (St. Casimir's in Baltimore), and his grandparents, his aunt and uncle (his mother's sister and brother).  Best of all, in the course of that conversation, a brick wall came tumbling down!  (More on that in a future post!)

Mike has Dad's State Department of Education high school equivalency, dated July 14, 1955.  As the second oldest son, like many young men during his time, Dad dropped out of high school to work and help support his family.  By the time he received this document, he had been married 12 years. 

It's very difficult to pick just one item, photo, or document that could be most important, that I value the most, that means the most to me.  These documents tell the story of my Dad's life.  His Polish Catholic upbringing, the family moving to the country, leaving high school to help the family, the beginning of a 42-year career at Martin's.  Even though I hold but one of five documents, the collection is special to me.  It connects me to my siblings, my Mom and my Dad in a special way.  And I'm pretty sure that my siblings and even my Mom feel the same.  I know one thing for certain, when they are at my home, I always catch at least one of them looking the Certificate. 

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

(Not So) Wordless Wednesday - Snuggle Time!


My sisters Diane and Sharon look fresh from the bath and all ready for a bedtime story here.  This photo is around 1953.  My parents had just moved into this newly-built home in the County from an apartment in the city.  It was an exciting time for the young family.

My parents paid $9,000 for the one-storey, two bedroom home.  My mom says she remembers thinking "How will we ever pay off this mortgage?"  Over the years, they not only paid off the mortgage, my dad dug out and finished a basement and added another storey to the house, which created two more bedrooms for their expanding family.  Mom is still there.  I'd say they got their money's worth!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Tombstone Tuesday - Old Bennington Cemetery, Vermont

About five years ago, hubby and I traveled throughout New England for a few weeks.  I love it there, there is so much wonderful history!  Treasure-filled antique shops!  Fascinating cemeteries!  One cemetery we visited was Old Bennington Cemetery in Vermont. 

This graveyard, located directly behind the Old First Church, contains the graves of about 75 revolutionary war patriots as well as other foreign soldiers killed in the Battle of Bennington.  There are many early politicians buried there as well.

The grave of American poet Robert Frost is also in the cemetery.  At the time we visited, I was of the belief that I should not photograph his grave, or much of the cemetery at all, out of respect. 

There are many graves of famous people that I have seen but did not photograph.  My feelings about photographing cemeteries is very different now.  Oh well, live and learn!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Shedding Light on Your Passions

Lately I am finding that my genealogy interests are running to the creative type of thing.  Besides genealogy, I really enjoy crafting and miss it when I can't find the time. 

I thought I'd share these beautiful switchplates with you.  I did not create these, but have done others that are in my home.  These were created by my friend Ann, of the Harford County Public Library Genealogy Discussion Group.  Ann is quite a multi-talented crafter: paper crafts like these, jewelry, cards, scrapbooking, she does it all, and very well. 

At our group's Christmas party, she offered as door prizes very plain wall switchplates that she had decorated beautifully with genealogy-themed scrapbooking paper.  Can I tell you, I was thrilled to be the very lucky recipient of these items.  Here they are before I hung them in the hallway.  Let me tell you, they dress up the place!

A project like this is easy enough to do.  You could even make copies of photos and use those.  Just make sure that the light toggle comes through in an acceptable place in the photo. 

You've just got to love YouTube, it's got just about everything! 
Here's an easy demo: How to decoupage a light switchplate

Have fun, and please send me photos of your results!


Wednesday, February 1, 2012

(Not So) Wordless Wednesday - Home on Leave, But Not for Long

"Anj and the Kids"

This photo just came into my possession.  Mom found it in the house, among my Dad's papers and other things.  That's my Dad in the middle.

Mom said she remembers this day "like it was yesterday."  It was the last day of Uncle Joe's leave (he's second from left), and this was taken outside my grandmother's house, where they all grew up, just moments before my dad took his brother to the airport.   

From left to right:

Frank Walter Szymanski, known to us as Uncle Buddy
Joseph Szymanski, in his Navy whites
Agnes Szymanski Stanley
Edward John Szymanski, my dad
Grandma Angeline Szymanski, immigrated from Poland into Baltimore at age 3
Jerome Szymanski
Helen Szymanski Lay

As I studied this photo, I determine that it's probably from the early 1950s;  that's around the time that my Uncle Joe served in the US Navy.  It stuns me to look at my grandma and realize in this photo, she is about the age I am now, mid-50s.  Such a very different life! 

What a great group they all were and are!  Hard working, loyal to family, always laughing at life.  As a kid we don't think of these things, but I surely do realize now what a treasure it was to grow up surrounded by so much love.