TSGS Cruiser Blog

Saturday, November 29, 2008

"Big Doggie"

I began serious genealogical research in 1978. The same year the youngest of my three sons was born. When I first traveled to various courthouses in Kentucky, to keep me company, I would bring Becky and the kids with me. I did some courthouse & library research added visits to lots of cemeteries and sometimes living relatives. We would have a nice picnic lunch and for the most part Becky and the boys liked the generally all-day outings. They loved running through the cemeteries with all of the neat statues and tombstones. I took a lot of the kids pictures while they stood behind ancestors' stones. Over a few years, we had visited over forty cemeteries. My youngest must have thought visiting cemeteries was a normal way of life and that it was important to go into the cemetery and check for family markers (bear in mind this was before we had nice cemetery transcribed, indexed books). Where ever we traveled, he would see a cemetery and shout, “Dad, there is a cemetery, don't you want to stop and check for our family?” He was only 3 or 4 years old and cemetery searching was his most exciting family activity!

One evening before sundown, we learned of a cemetery in Grayson Co., Kentucky where my great, great grandmother Rhoda [Kimble] Wood was buried. The cemetery had narrow roads around it with little space to park. I pulled over close to a pasture fence and began my search. I had noticed the cows were making their way to the barn to be fed and milked for the night. The sun was beginning to set and I was lucky to find the grave before it got dark. It was a humbling feeling to see her grave. Mom had talked about her ever since I could remember... it was almost like meeting her – what a great feeling!

Becky and the kids stayed in the car since it had been a long day and everyone was tired. I shut off the car engine and all the windows were rolled down to enjoy the cool evening breeze. As I headed back to the car, I noticed that it was rocking back and forth – what in the world was happening? Becky started yelling for me to come quick. I ran to the car and a cow had its head in the back window. About that time the poor cow got its head out and turned to go to the barn. The cow did not hurt itself or the car. Becky told me that our youngest son thought the cow was a big “doggie” and called it over to pet it. The cow came over and evidently wanted to be petted – which was done with delight by our son. I avoid using his name as he does not like us telling the “Big Doggie” story. - by John G. West

Friday, November 28, 2008


This past week, TSGS has made some aggressive moves to communicate with our members that live outside of the immediate area of the tri-state, as well as, our local members. And to non-TSGS members a great opportunity to interact with TSGS. We have set-up our first guestbook on the web site that has been signed by several non-members. I am very excited about the potential of this blog. We need people to submit articles. There is a survey in the right column that will expire on Monday afternoon, please tell us your favorite pie and then click on the "vote" button. There are a couple other "gadgets" in the left column that might be interesting to read, too. The "TSGS Cruiser" can be fun, interesting, entertaining and educational... in addition, it can be a great communication tool with messages like this one.

I have developed a test "forms" page where the Long Range Planning Committee can help me develop some forms that visitors can type in responses and submit them to us for a direct feedback on our web site and society. Speaking of feedback, I sure would like to get some on this blog to see what you think about it and the types of things it should have. Praise is always welcome; but, truthfully, we need constructive, positive criticism to make improvements. Click on my name to send me an email to let me know what will make this a great forum for TSGS, members, and visitors.

John G. West, TSGS President

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

By 1621, the Pilgrims survived the winter and were at peace with the Indians. Governor William Bradford proclaimed a day of thanksgiving to celebrate their success, that would be shared by all colonists and their Indian neighbors. Having an annual thanksgiving after the harvest became a custom that continued for many years. Abraham Lincoln was the first President to recognize a National Thanksgiving. In 1863, Lincoln issued a proclamation calling for the observance of the last Thursday of November as a national holiday. However, in 1939, President Franklin Roosevelt decreed that the holiday should always be celebrated on the fourth Thursday of the month.

On November 20, 2007, President George W. Bush granted a "pardon" to two turkeys, named May and Flower, at the 60th annual National Thanksgiving Turkey presentation, held in the Rose Garden at the White House. The two turkeys were flown to Orlando, Florida, where they served as honorary grand marshals for the Disney World Thanksgiving Parade. The current tradition of presidential turkey pardons began in 1947, under Harry Truman, but the practice is said to have informally begun with Abraham Lincoln, who granted a pardon to his son Tad's pet turkey. In this morning's newspaper, I read that the President pardoned a 45-pound turkey named "Pumpkin."

Part of the above from History.Com - http://www.history.com/

On behalf of the Tri-State Genealogical Society, have a very Happy & Blessed Thanksgiving!

John G. West, TSGS President

Genetic DNA News

11/12/08 - New York Post: DNA testing is the rage among Latinos: the latest social networking is not on Facebook or MySpace, it's DNA-testing.
As of November 27, 2008, Family Tree DNA hits new milestones with 140,809 records in their database of Y-DNA results with 5,132 Surname Projects, which include 85254 unique surnames. And, their mtDNA database has 80,449 results. I want to put this into perspective, the average Surname Project has 25 participants, of course there are many projects with only one or two test results since the project is new or few have taking the test. Some projects are huge with as many as 4,000 participants. The WEST Surname Project has 176 test results.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

"Never Give Up"

Well, I am new to Blogging but here goes. I have done a lot of research for clients over the years and am still learning. Some years ago, my client's main interest was to learn where his ancestor came from in Germany. He could supply most of the family history after he arrived in Evansville, Vanderburgh County, Indiana, but his German origins were a mystery.

I did everything the good genealogist should do. Examined the Intentions and Naturalizations. Although I located both documents, unfortunately, before 1890 in Vanderburgh County intentions and naturalizations merely state the county from which one immigrates. Both documents stated Germany, which agreed with censuses but most censuses do not give any more data than a country. Death records, first recorded 1882 in Indiana, also stated Germany. Next searched were the microfilmed funeral home and church records. At least they were all consistent. He was born in (guess where?) Germany. An obituary in the German newspaper listed his birthplace as Germany and the Evansville city cemetery in which he was interred.

On to the cemetery. By now I was getting a little discouraged. The cemetery office verified the location of the gravesite and since I had failed so miserably to establish any data other than Germany, I decided maybe a photo of the grave would be a small consolation.

It was August around noon and 102 degrees in the shade. The grave was in the sun on top of a hill. After all my research I expected no stone. However, there it was except it had fallen face down. It was one of those old narrow tall ones about thirty six inches high. The longer I stood and looked in frustration at it, the more determined I grew to make a photo. So I grasped the edge and heaved with all my strength and flipped it over. Mercy me!

The inscription gave his name, birth date, the name of the little village and the German state in which it was located as his birthplace. Further, it stated his parent's names and his death date. The moral of this story is never give up! - by Bettie Cummings Cook, CG

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

"The Great Pitchfork Incident"

If you do research in Vanderburgh County, IN, then you must have looked at the two volumes of the county's smaller cemeteries compiled by Carol Lantaff and Glenda Trapp. When you worked with Glenda in the cemeteries transcribing tombstone records you were either crazy with a boring life or you came along to do some important work and have a good time doing it. Glenda was extremely meticulous in getting the stones read accurately and would often return to a cemetery numerous times to ensure its accuracy. She was perhaps the best there was in being able to cipher out the impossible to read markers. She would amaze us all when she would tell us what a blank stone had cleverly hidden from us at first glance. She would outline the letters and suddenly, like magic the names and dates would seem to jump out at us. She had fun doing this work, but she took it seriously. She would have us probe the top soil with rods looking for covered fallen stones, and when we found one the work began to dig it up and usually lift it up to be read.

I remember one time in particular when we were working in Union Township in an old cemetery that was flooded often each year by the Ohio River. We were probing for the covered markers. I was busy digging up a found marker and Bonnie Fehd, Glenda's sister-in-law, and Glenda was working behind me. Bonnie was working hard using a pitchfork to probe the topsoil. She was finding tombstones faster than we could dig them up, the pitchfork really worked well. Suddenly I heard this scream!!! I turned around and Bonnie was white with shock. She had accidently plunged the pitchfork into Glenda's sneakers (shoe). One of the tines went through the top of her canvass shoe and through the sole of the shoe and several inches into the ground. Glenda did not know what had happened until she tried to move her foot. It seems the tine went right between her toes without even a scratch. After we realized that Glenda was alright we laughed until tears came to our eyes. I mentioned that something had happened with a pitchfork in a cemetery in one of my President's columns of the Packet years ago, but never told what happened, so TSGS members now you know the rest of the story!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Welcome to the new TSGS blog!

This is our society's first post. I was talked into creating this blog site by the TSGS Long Range Planning Committee. One said it is a method to post genealogical research tips. Another said we can use it to poll members concerning what our members may wish for our society to do to better serve their interests. And another suggestion was that this is a great method to distribute information about events & meetings, as well as, hear from members & visitors some of their genealogical problems, interesting experiences or new tools, web sites, etc. Please make the committee look good by responding to this post and adding lots of good exchanges of information.

This blog will be monitored and any posts or replies that are deemed objectionable or inappropriate will be removed. I do not see that as much of a problem, but we do want the blog to be a pleasant & helpful resource.

Welcome & thanks for visiting us, John G. West, TSGS President