Grand Pockets’s Blog

Genealogy, Family, Poetry and Peeves

Ancestry’s Trees Reviewed


You know the old saying – “You can’t take it with you?” That, in a nutshell, is the problem with Ancestry.com’s latest iteration of online Family Tree software. I’ve been experimenting with it and developed a 6000 person tree just to try it out – it has some cool features that make it positively addictive.

First, instant linking of source material found on Ancestry. Found great Aunt Mable in the 1920 census? Great, just click to link the census image to your tree and a couple more licks and the census entry for each person in her family is attached. There are just 2 catches – first, the indexing is horrific. My Gould line finds the surname indexed variously as Gael, Gault, Guild and Goray. Normal variations be damned – some of these indexed names are very, very baaaad. Almost as if someone with no experience in reading documents whatever indexed them. Wait a minute! They WERE indexed by people with little or no experience at reading documents! Volunteers did most of the indexing, and while that is both boon and curse to online genealogy, I’ll accept the indexing problem as a necessary evil going along with the need to find cheap resources to index the billions of pages needing input.   The second problem is – “You can’t take it with you”. If you output your tree to GEDCOM you lose the images and are left with a generic source. In order to keep the image you’ll still need to download it to your hard drive, and in order to keep the info on the census you’ll need to transcribe it to the notes section of the individual on your tree. Don’t put it in Stories, or Comments sections of the tree because anything put there? Well – “You can’t take it with you” Comments are lost and Storie end up as a link in your program’s Notes section. That of course is of no help whatever if you decide to drop your subscription, or for anyone else without a subscription.

If you put a lot of work into your online tree – adding phots, source record, stories and comments? Well, they gotcha. In order to keep reading that material you’ll have to maintain your subscription. Oh, btw, did you read the fine print? You can delete your tree, you can alter your tree, but guess who OWNS your tree? Ancestry.com of course. Yep, that’s right – that tree you deleted can be saved to their archives and used on CDs they sell, it can be freely used for any purpose Ancestry chooses in the future. When you create a tree “You c’t take it with you” and they own it, lock, stock and barrel.

SO what else is good and bad?

The trees are SLOW to input from scratch. There is no merge, so duplicates become this jigsaw puzzle of “How do I get rid of the extra Aunt Henny” without losing the downline info? If both duplicates have linked people you either need to leave it as is, or delete the entire line of people in one of the duplicates. No way to merge them.

Did I say slow to input? You wait for every single field you want to edit to download, enter your info, then wait to return to the profile, then you do it again. I have cable and it’s a fast connection but I still spend an inordinate amount of time waiting for pages to fully load so I can edit or add info. I also did a tree using a gedcom transfer and adding it to the Ancestry Tree program. It works but you still have to link each person to any source material and not everyhting in your gedcom will cross over in the conversion.

Still, the photos section is a great feature. You can search for any photos posted by cousins of your family members, as well as stories. I found hundreds of photos of cousins, and a few pertinent to my direct line. I added some of my own. Easy to upload if you have fast connection with space for full exposition, and an upload tool that will take up to 500 photos at once if you need it. As a photo album, however there are many much better places to put your photos online. And some people have crazy ideas of what makes a photograph genealogically important.  One I found of my cousin’s shadow. That’s right – it was a photo of my cousin’s shadow on a wall. Not him. Just his shadow in noonday sun. It wasn’t even a profile. So now I can prove that my cousin cast a large a shadow and lived in a white house with clapboard siding that received full sun. It’s very easy to link these photos to your own tree, too. Takes seconds and you’ve got a pic of Uncle Larry smiling out from his branch in your tree. Of course, if you decide to remove your tree and convert it to gedcom – well, “You can’t take it with you”. The process of downloading the photos to your harddrive isn’t very arduous but takes a bit of time – and for crying out loud rename them or you’ll never figure out who it is! Ancestry’s naming is a computer generated string of characters necessary to archive millions of photos. If you forget to rename good luck. Unless you can recognize them from memory you’ll never figure out who it was you downloaded. Is that Uncle Harry or cousin Dick? One last – once you upload your photos – guess who now owns them? Oh yes. Ancestry.com. You’ve given them full license to use your photos for promotion, on CDs or in any way they see fit.

Okay – what else is good or bad? Well, next is the trees themselves. Because there is no merge feature, easy linking to records and a confusing clunky input, a lot of the trees you find have really weird junk in them. I thought trees on World Connect were inaccurate. Ancestry trees suffers from technical nightmares. Seems people use that easy linking to records to link ANY record Ancestry’s hints engine suggests. Ancestry’s Hints enguine is fairly smart but it’s still inaccurate enough to wreak havoc with unwary, or unsavvy tree builders. I constantly find trees with incorrect censuses linked to families with the result the info in them becomes a hodgepodge of correct and incorrect data in a crazy quilt alphabet soup of messed up dates, places and people.  One ancestor of mine, a Fleming, had 27 children. When I checked the linked censuses there were 3 different William Fleming families linked to the same person. 2 were in Marion county, West Virgina and the William’s were born just a year apart – that I can understand someone fairly new at this getting confused. But the third William’s family hailed from Alabama, they spelled the name with two M’s in the middle, not a single kid’s name coincided and he was 12 years younger. The wife’s given name was the same, though, so the result was a woman giving birth to 6 children at age 49 -51-54-56-57 and 59 and 6 younger ones at 20-21-24-27-29-31. Evidently they rested 18 years before giving lovemaking another try. To top it off William’s other wife in this conglomerated tree had her children BETWEEN the first wife’s kids.

This isn’t uncommon in these Ancestry Trees and much of the problem is a result of the program’s shortcomings rather than the genealogist creating them. Sometimes you try and try and can’t figure out how to fix the problem. I also found in converting to gedcom and then into my Legacy software that there were lots of glitches like several same sex marriages that really weren’t. Somehow the Ancestry tree mixes up the gender – or else I’ve inadvertently switched the gender during an edit. The Online program won’t warn you, either. You can make any kind of mistake. Parents born after  the ir children, same gender marriages, endless loop parent-child-parent again links. It lets you do them all. That’s a big problem with the program – it doesn’t protect you from yourself. Even the best genealogist can click the wrong button, make a typo on a date, or inadvertently link incorrectly. All the major genealogy software offers protection – warnings, or refusing to perform parent to child to parent again loops. Ancestry Trees will let you, though. And its cumbersome enough to make it easy to do.

Summing up, I’d give the program an A for effort but an F for results. There still isn’t a reasonably good alternative to offline genealogy software. Ancestry’s attempt misses too many of the things necessary besides the speed problem. No problem checker. No merges. Incomplete and sometimes erroneous gedcom conversions. Difficulty moving around. No name prefixes. No name suffixes. No ability to format all dates for a consistent look. No date checking. Inability to double date. Handing Ancestry ownership of YOUR work.

It has many good things – Easy linking to records, decent hints (hey it misses some but its pretty smart actually, but you HAVE to check the suggestions not just link anything it offers). A massive selection of records that grows every day. An family view/pedigree view interface that is fairly clear and uncluttered, member photos, stories and comments that are easy to find, download and link up.

All-in-all I’m waiting for FamilySearch to bring on an online tree program. Even with the same problems it would be free to all, they don’t claim ownership of your work. And I’ve volunteered indexing to both but from now on my indexing work will be for Family Search – they are promulgating their records free for everyone. Pay sites are a necessary evil I suppose, trying to get the massive amounts of records still offline available on the internet but my labor is going for free so I figure the FREE sites like Family Search deserve my efforts much more than the profiteers.

grandpockets1

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June 16, 2009 Posted by | genealogy | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Aimee and Mandi – My Daughters


I have two daughters, and like most fathers I am blind to their faults and think they are too good for any guy they meet. Luckily I actually like Dobie and Brian, their consorts, but that doesn’t mean either is actually worthy. When I had a heart attack and open heart surgery Aimee and Mandi were at my bedside throughout the thing, staying for hours on end even when I told them to go home. They are also blind to my faults, those legion, because that is the way fathers and daughters are. A wise man once said – “No other success can compensate for failure in the home”. In life my greatest success has been as a father. That’s not because of any great thing I did when they grew up, but, despite the fact it was their own choices that have made them into such terrific adults, I get the undeserved but welcome feeling “Hey, we did a pretty good job with them” whenever I’m around them. Plus, they made incredible grandchildren!

aimee
manda
Daughter Mine

She is part of me that tomorrow
will embrace, when the morning
glory is bare on the trellis slats
and snows into the earth have sunk,
my clarion of spring,
tissue and seed
and the sap flowing in apple trees,
she is me and I am she.

Speak to her when I cannot,
when the slow peace flows
through my heart and limbs
and gives this soul release,
speak to her then, of my love for her.
What lived in times of caesars,

kings and tendriled history,
what lived through her impetuosity,

unremembered but still part of me,
is hers now, daughter of mine.
She is me and I am memory.

©Charles Elledge2008

grandpockets1

January 23, 2009 Posted by | family | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Chasing the City Past


As genealogists we are intimate with death. We chase dead people through records every day, and we become involved with the records of those deaths. What caused them. What happened in those last days?

Medicine was backward, doctors often trained simply by working with another doctor for a few years then taking exams often administered by the same doctor. Later, as more credentialling was required, and medical colleges opened the methods were crude, the things learned often wrong, and discoveries were made by experiments with the poor unfortunates of the slums. There was no regulation of medicine to speak of.

So, medicine was one problem pioneers faced – had I been born in 1854 rather than 1954 I would be dead for a half century now since I had rheumatic fever early, developed a heart murmur and then followed that with scarlet fever. Approximately in 1858, my mother would have wept, my father would have measured and built for me a small wooden box, and you might be hunting my records to complete some pioneer family’s history.

Another problem that led to death was the bathtub. Or the lack of them. And any other form of cleanliness. People rarely washed. Lice weren’t unusual – it was unusual not to have lice, or sleep with bedbugs.

Food spoiled easily, especially in summer, yet it was too precious to waste so you’d cook it anyway. In a stew or soup with lots of pepper or some other pungent herb to mask the flavor. You’d cook it with rain barrel water that you swept clear of flies or mosquitoes with your unwashed hands, and dice the rancid meat on a table that was pitted, scarred and creviced with grime that couldn’t be scrubbed completely out, with an unwashed knife that you also used for a dozen other things that day, cook it on a small iron stove top, and you served it in the few pieces of crockery you possessed, also unwashed, simply scraped clean.

The kids came in for dinner after running barefoot all day in filthy streets coated in horse dung and pig manure and urine. You’d serve Granma, and Aunt Nell, your spouse and your 9 kids, all of you living in a 2 room 14 x 22 foot unheated, brick tenement without running water or toilets. You tossed the slop bucket behind the curtain in the corner (called the necessary) through the back window into a trough in the street that was supposed to sluice it to the sewer. The brick wall outside that window had never been washed and was stained black all the way to the alley below.

You were lucky, though. At least your family didn’t dwell in the alley like so many others did. You faced the slightly less smelly street. You weren’t of the “unhoused poor” as the city’s newly formed committee to try and deal with those huddled unfortunates, orphans, and cripples was named.

Every single day of your life living in an early American city was a dance with death. You were only a chill, a cough, an infected cut from contracting one of the diseases that raged rampant through the streets and then you were at the mercy of a doctor who might be relatively skilled, given the time, or you might be at the behest of a butcher, a charlatan with little real knowledge at all. At the last, though, was the final indignity if you wouldn’t die fast enough. The hospital. This is pre-civil war when hospitals were more morgue than places of healing. The sick went there to die because not many ever came out. And through this horrid cityscape, this Dali like nightmare, you’d love and laugh and cry just like we do today because you never knew any better. You strived and attempted and survived, and because of what you lived with and learned, I, born in 1954, live and love and laugh and read about you with awe and wonder and can never, it seems, find out enough about you.

One thing I do know, though, TV and the movies have spoiled us into believing false portraits of what our forefathers lives were really like. They’ve cleaned them up and educated them and made them much more like us than they actually were. That’s probably a good thing, though, because not too many of us could handle the truth about them, let alone the work load or hardships they endured.

grandpockets1

January 19, 2009 Posted by | genealogy | , , , , | 2 Comments

Remembering the Past as a new Year Beigns


In the Yuma Foothills

In the Yuma Foothills

Back to the beginning – of adulthood anyway. It was the Marine Corps for me. I was stationed in Yuma, Arizona for much of my duty. Yuma is just about the most god forsaken place on earth, at least in the USA. The town’s main claim to fame is an old adobe prison for crying out loud. It’s scorching hot in the coolest part of the year and surrounded by orange groves claimed from the Mojave sands by the miracles of irrigation, and a whole lot of unconverted barren desert.

Recreation is mostly by bottle, toke or mattress. In summer the place shrivels into itself as the snowbirds head north and the sun sears everything left behind. Summer is Chicano time – most of the people left are Mexican born within a generation or less and Spanish becomes the common language.

In October and November the wealthy and retired return trailing their motor homes behind them in a dazzling stream of glinting Winnebago colors, filling empty desert lots with row after row of metallic winter suburbs. Restaurants, apartment complexes and hotels come to life and the winter wealth of minimum wage service jobs brings throngs of illegals across the border to do the drudge most Americans won’t for wages none of us want.desertbloom

It’s hardly a hopping spot for a young Marine to pass spare time so most of the guys just get drunk when they arrive and stay that way until their hitch is up. Whore chasing in San Luis Mexico’s infamous “boys town” and javelina hunting in the desert are the biggest sports around. I tried both. The javelina hunts were fun. The other? Well I was young…..

Despite it all, I loved the desert. Maybe it’s the artist in me but I found the desert very beautiful and compelling. In the midst of beige sands stretching forever a tiny orange bloom would spring alive atop a sharp spiny cactus and delight me.

mcas-yuma-signI used to love running (in those days I ran marathons and could basically run forever –Forrest Gump’s long run in the movie always reminds me of those runs in the Mojave) across the desert floor from the outer camp near the big orange groves northwest of town back into the main base stopping along the way to play with horned toads or to examine a strange stone cactus or extravagant wildflower that found a tiny breath of moisture and sprang to life for a day or an hour. The paucity of life in the desert makes each thing you find all the more precious and glorious to behold.

The desert in Arizona is big, too. Wide open, sprawling, harsh expanses that stretch your soul out like laundry hung in the breeze to freshen. Ihawk-missiles-desert still love to visit Arizona, though mostly I get to Phoenix which has become such a huge city most of the beauty it inhabits is spoiled by power-lines and manmade eyesores. Now that my son is stationed at Davis-Monthan maybe I’ll get to visit the area more often.

Anyway, during my stint in the Corps I got married. I was 19, she was 16. Lasted 12 years, 3 kids. We simply grew apart and she ended up meeting a guy where she worked and that was that. No battles or anything. He became a big scandal later but that’s another story. Her dad was my Gunnery sergeant in the Corps and his hometown was KC so that’s how I wound up in Missouri.

Remarried 6 months later because I hated being alone and that was a huge mistake. I married a party girl who kept right on partying after we got married. She was an obsessive/compulsive at everything- gambling, drinking, drugs, check writing. After 2 sons and 4 years I knew I had to get out or she would destroy me too. Yes, I tried to get her help, counseling, she was in court and they got her counseling. Nothing helped because she wasn’t ready to change. I finally left when she wrote a couple thousand dollars in bad checks and drained our bank account.

All that kind of put me off women for awhile. I mean, I knew intellectually it was my choices of women and that not all women were like that but emotionally? Yeah, you know what I mean. After a while I got my head together and quit blaming it on the woman and made myself accountable. I learned right there that no one else can ever hold the key to your own happiness.

dix-2I met my third wife, a nurse, and had a wonderful marriage that lasted 14 years. I got a call at work one September morning telling me my daughter found her in bed. She had a massive coronary a half hour after I left and died. I wanted to die with her. I quit work, wouldn’t get out of bed, spent 3 really bad months and then began to come out of it. I had kids and grandkids and in this world God decides when we come and go and He was telling me it wasn’t my time yet. So I came to peace with my life. She was a nursing home nurse and always feared living until she had a stroke or Alzheimers or something so maybe God granted her the wish to go out sudden and spared her that. We didn’t have a perfect marriage because no such beast exists but it was solid and loving. I have known the love of a good woman. I thought the cosmic rules were you only get one.

reneeThen I met Renee. So I’m twice blessed.

January 3, 2009 Posted by | family | , , | Leave a comment

More free Genealogy


Today I had a splitting headache for most of the day so I was slowed down a bit but I did manage some updates to the genealogy pages.

Biographies of William Fleming, Calvin Conaway, and George Bennett, the first two of Marion County, WV and Bennett from Orange County, Indiana. Uploaded and linked Death certficates for Billy Huffman, and Linda Durbin and Marriage certificates for Isaac Bennett + Linda McDonald, Charles Elledge + Dixie Huffman, and Leon Helm + Dixie Huffman; and gravestone photographs for Byron and Rebecca (Bennett) Miller; Joseph Elledge; Caroline Frentress Elledge, all at Ames Chapel Cemetery in French Lick, a gravestone photo for Dakota Ryan Elledge at Memorial Park Cemetery in Saint Joseph, Mo; and the gravestone photo for Cora Emily (Maddock) Elledge at Spring Grove Cemetery in Cincinnati. I also typed out some will abstracts for James Clelland, Caleb Conaway, William Fleming (son of John), Boaz Fleming, John Pierpoint and Josiah Prickett from microfilm 250081 which has a lot of Monongalia County records.  I also added a short record of the death register for Conaways and Goulds in Monongalia County, and extended the Gould deed index (grantor) for Marion County by several years.

I need to get back to transcribing deeds for Marion county, West Virginia.  I still have a pile of them to complete. Thus ends the genealogy updates for another day.

grandpockets1

December 31, 2008 Posted by | genealogy | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

More Free Genealogy Added


mad-genealogist

Chugging along, adding a few more items, including a biography of Waitman Conaway, with photo and sources from several resources, a short biography of James D Joseph, who married nancy Conaway of WV and moved to Butler Co, Kansas, where he became a successful banker. The Thomas Maddock register and .pdf descendant book I promised yesterday, delving into the lines of this immigrant from Ireland who went to Cincinnati after arriving in Maine. Finally, a few minutes ago I completed assembling the biography of Aretas Brooks Fleming, the once Governor of West Virginia, with a good photograph. These last came from Google books but they do have to formatted and the images removed from the file and sharpened up a bit, so maybe I saved you some time anyway. I’m still working at it today, next adding some more deeds to the Gould of Marion County Deed index. Digging, digging, digging….

grandpockets1

December 29, 2008 Posted by | genealogy, humor | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

More free genealogy Added


Today I mostly worked on the genealogy pages, adding a descendant register for Big John Conaway, and a download .pdf of him, as a Descendant Book, complete with sources and details, notes and stories.  I also uploaded another half dozen death certificates for different family members, Conaway’s and Maddock’s. Still not even a tenth done getting it all online. Takes time, plus I’m still actively working on the genealogy itself, so that needs time, too.

Tomorrow another register and accompanying .PDF of another family line, that of Thomas Maddock, of Cincinnati.

Then, I’ve had several people asking me to add more poems and galleries and stories to the regular posts. I hit 48 visitors yesterday, my highest count to date and in the 10 days since I started the blog’s it’s had 154 hits. That may not seem like much to y’all, but to me it’s amazing. That’s about how many hits I thought it would get in its whole first year.  They seem to be split down the middle on genealogy pages and browsing the posts.  To all who are browsing or reading, thanks for stopping by! Leave a comment even if its to say “Boy are you a dumbass”

~Grandpockets~

December 28, 2008 Posted by | genealogy | , , , | Leave a comment

Updates and Busy Work


I’ve been busy today trying to increase the amount of genealogy on site for interested family researchers. I’m finding out it’s time consuming – not only the transcribing but formatting it, adding the links, uploading photocopies and pictures, etc. and then making sure everything works.

Some of the new items added or updated include:

Added: William Bennett – Jonathan Peter Deed 9 Jan 1847 with photocopies of original

Moved around and changed the index pages in the genealogy section to sort the different families:

Added: Bennett-Miller-Speer-McGrew-Pittman Index

Added: Maddock-Munro/Monroe-Burke-Mulholland Index

Added: William Davis Moore Biographical Sketch and some supplemental information

Added: Moore-Peterson-Mick-Lucas-Prather Index

Updated: Elledge – Conaway Genealogy Pages Hopefully this makes the different pages easier to find and helps researchers looking for a specific family to go right to the parts they’re interested in

Added links to Houston Miller Jr and Sr. info and photos from Carole V. Beringer’s Blog at Avelyn’s Avenues

And I made a regular post to the blog “Christmas The Day After”

December 27, 2008 Posted by | genealogy | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bygones and Memories


1954. My birth year. Eisenhower was President, Korea was finally over, the French lost a military outpost in a hard to pronounce place called Dien Bien Phu in Vietnam presaging America’s lost effort there beginning in a big way a decade later and ending while I myself was in the Marine Corps over 20 years later. West Germany was formally recognized an independent nation by the western allies and admitted to NATO while the Soviets respond by declaring East Germany a sovereign state. The Algerian war of Independence begins against France (it was not a good year for the French). Nasser becomes President of Egypt while at home the Communist witch hunts of Senator Joseph McCarthy ended with his censure for misconduct, but hysteria over communism in general remained high as the cold war between the US and Russia begins in earnest. Rock and roll was in its infancy, already stirring up opposition as indecent and immoral – which seems incredulous when one listens to the music of that year today. It seems innocent and naïve but the America’s general public in 1954 was exactly that. Jonas Salk’s polio vaccinations are first given and I am vaccinated, perhaps saving me along with thousands of other children from that crippling disease which had ravaged so many in earlier generations. In Topeka, Kansas racial segregation of schools is banned setting the stage for the civil rights revolution of the next decade and a half. These events that occurred in the year of my birth shaped much of my world growing up and into my twenties and thirties, and in that way influenced who I am today, my opinions and prejudices and beliefs. Indeed, the year we are born bears a great deal on who we become because its events presage much of the world we’re going to inhabit as we grow up.

Of course, I remember nothing of that year, or much about the next half dozen years. Tiny fragments of memory shine like rays of light through clouds about those years. I remember the birth of my sisters Carol and Susan in an emotional sense, and of the house on Hanna Avenue where we lived, of my cousin Gary who lived next door and Uncle Bob and Aunt Edith and cousin Libby, brief vignettes and impressions. I have little memory of kindergarten in Loveland, mostly going to the bus stop of a morning, probably because of the trauma of those first separations from my mother. From that first year of school forward the memories gradually accumulate from year to year. Writing seems to find more of them floating to the surface than I had thought I still possessed. It reminds me of old leaves silting the bottom of a pond, long fallen and layered in silt under the water of many years, yet still there waiting to be exhumed, washed and examined, whole yet faded, recognizable but only echoing what once was.

It is 2007 today, more than half a century has passed. A lot of leaves have fallen in the water.

Of the historical events before 1960 that I’ve reviewed, none seem to make much impression on me, or stir any latent memories of discussions or remarks from people around me. I do get an emotional sense of memory, very vague, of Eisenhower, but overall my world then was constricted within a tight circle of family doings, my awareness of the outside world not yet awake. 1960, when I was six seems to be the year that outside awareness began to really occur. I have strong memories of the Kennedy-Nixon campaign for the presidency and of my parents disapproval of Kennedy, even of his Catholicism which my parents viewed with deep suspicion. I remember Kruschev, the Russian premier, spoken of with real hate by my father, and know at that young age Russia was in my mind the “enemy,” evil in that all or nothing frame of mind the young have. I had a crush on my cousin Libby Gould, a young teenager who babysat me.

My memories of her are her smile, her kindness. I thought she was beautiful. She wore plaid skirts, bobby socks and black and white oxford shoes, the “uniform” of the day for young girls. I had lots of cousins in Loveland since my mom’s sisters and brother all resided there. They were Aunt Mel and Uncle Carl, Aunt Georgia and Uncle Ray, Uncle Bob and Aunt Edith, and my Aunt Ruth, the eldest sister. There were cousins Larry, Libby and Gary (Uncle Bob’s) and Bill, Wes and Wayne (Aunt Georgia’s) and Mary Margaret, John Paul and Mike (Aunt Ruth’s).  My Great Uncle Charles Gould and Aunt Martha had a house just outside Loveland where the Gould clan held reunions every summer. There were grapevines, berry clumps, apple trees and long tables full of food. All us cousins played, ate fruits picked off the vines and gobbled food while the grownups visited. As dark fell we’d pile in our cars to head home. The reunions lasted until the mid sixties when most of the family had moved and didn’t make it back anymore. The cousins never maintained the ties that their parents had. I’ve lost track of many of them.

My only early memory of my dad’s family is of Grandma Elledge. I kicked her in the shin and broke her ankle about 1958 or so while she was visiting us and I remember she wouldn’t let dad spank me. It happened in the kitchen of the house on Hannah Avenue. For some reason I was her favorite grandchild. She doted on me, but she was a harridan, often abusing my sisters, and parents, verbally. She was a tiny woman, about 4-10″ tall and a hard drinker. She had a nose that dominated her face and short curly gray hair. She was a Maddock by birth and had had a tough life by all accounts.

Russell, Senior, my grandfather, had died before I was born so I have no memories of him, of course, but the stories I’ve been told by dad. He was an electrician and came to Cincinnati from French Lick, Indiana where the Elledge family had resided since the first third of the 19th century. I’m told he helped wire the first traffic lights in Hamilton County and that he was a plant superintendent for the Balcrank Corporation during WWII.

I barely have any memory of my grandparents, LJ and Mary Ellen, mom’s parents. I do have a fleeting memory of sitting on Grandpa’s knee as a tot and mooching food off of him when he ate, and of his stubbly beard and the smell of Burma Shave. He called me Mooch. He seemed to be laughing all the time, too. Of Mary my only impression is an emotional one of kindness and a soft, gentle voice. Both died when I was 3, in 1957 and are buried in the cemetery at Miamiville, Ohio. In the photo you can see LJ’s brother Charles’ headstone in the background. Unk died in 1978, the last of his generation of Goulds. LJ died first, then Mary. There is a story my mom tells of Mary’s last days. She was fading so the family had gathered by her bed waiting for her final moment. It was early morning, just past midnight when Mary suddenly sat straight up in bed and held her hand out to someone she seemed to see at the foot of the bed. “Lawrence”, she said, “You’ve come for me.”

She smiled, then lay back, peacefully passing over.

Honestly, I don’t remember their passing. As young as I was, I was probably shielded from it, too young to understand what was happening. I thought perhaps some fragment of my mother’s grief might come to me but there is nothing. What I know came from my mom’s retelling.

December 20, 2008 Posted by | family | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

West Virginia’s Big John Conaway Biography


Today, I’m giving a short synopsis of the story of Big John Conaway. My plan is that  following installments will cover his sons and daughters and their lines. John, through his son Edmund, and Edmund’s daughter Eliza, who married my great grandfather are my link to the fascinating history of West Virginia. Eventually I’ll get to other lines, like my Elledge surname, and the Flemings but let me build up some Conaway data first. Do you have a particular family line that fascinates you a lot for no real reason you can put your finger on? The Conaways are that line for me, so hoping I don’t raise the ire of other ancestors (please don’t hide behind those brickwalls, grandfolk) I’m starting this journey with Big John.

The Biography

December 20, 2008 Posted by | genealogy | , , , , , , | Leave a comment