Monday, September 29, 2008

Sanders Family History Trip - 2008 - Day 3

Day 3 (August 24 2008):

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Next day dawned and we were all off to breakfast to one of my favorite feeding places in Sterling - the J&L restaurant. Everyone who is anyone comes here for the excellent service, ample helpings, and wonderful flavorings. Tammy and Dad got the pancakes, Larry got some health food, Mom got the special, and I got the breakfast burrito (semi-healthy version). My plate was overflowing with spicy delights and of course my eyes were bigger than my stomach, but it was too good to pass.. soon it was gone. One of the best burritos in the USA.

The conversation was about the past (friends, family, things that happened, etc) and the present. We were all family, sharing the moment, which is all too few and far between, but it was good all the same.

We finished breakfast, said goodbye to Larry and Tammy, and headed out to the Foy homestead, north of Iliff. The goal was to survey the foundations and area to see if it was possible to reconstruct the original locations of the home, barn and other improvements. I had dragged along the metal detector just for this, along with a tape measure, and a shovel for any shallow digging that may be needed.

Original plan was to see the homestead before lunch then drive out have lunch with our cousin Bob McKenzie, who has a ranch just north of the Foy homestead. However, I called Bob and told him we were in the area just heading over to the Foy homestead. I asked him if he would like to join us and he said SURE... so we drove out to get him and in the process added 2 more people to the adventure - Bob and Laurie, his daughter. Bob even drove us back over to the homestead and we proceeded to "investigate" the area.

It was wonderful seeing the homestead again. This time the area was grown over a lot more with grass and weeds, which made it more difficult to locate foundations or previous markers. I took pictures, compass readings, physical measurements and actually did a little digging, but only to locate edges of the concrete foundation. Dad took the metal detector and headed "down the hill" in search of treasure. A previous visit yielded more metal since it was easier to see - to the south east we found fence wire, similar to what was used for chickens and a fence post/gate. To the east of the well, we found a few metal objects and even a red brick, which was possibly from the chimney.

All in all, a productive visit. We piled back into Bob's truck and meandered north to Peetz, but on the way, we stopped to see the windmills - giant electric wind generators that are producing energy for the area. After this, we headed to downtown Peetz. Went by the church that Pete and Verona were married in... Bob said that his sister Helen had a painting that was still hanging in the church. We didn't stop as it was Sunday and mass was in session. After a bit of reminiscing, Bob mentioned that he knew of another place that Edgar and Jennie had lived, which was not too far east. We drove out there and the building was still in use, but the porch area had been converted into a whole part of the house. This seems to have been a common theme I found along the way. Comparing the old pictures of this house to the present was fun (see images in my photo library).

Bob mentioned that he also knew roughly where the Poverty hill house was located and he explained where we could find it, as we would be heading east through that area and it would be easy to find. He also mentioned that if we were to go through Ogalala, Nebraska, that we should look up a Dr. Foy whom he met at a wedding recently. Turns out that this Dr. Foy had a father name Phil Foy... so how could that be? Note: later on, I was able to find Dr. Foy, a vet, and talked with him. Short story is that we are not related, but that is another story.

We returned back to the McKenzie farm and proceeded to take pictures of Verona nad Pete McKenzie photo albums. It was a treasure trove of images. Afterward, we enjoyed a wonderful meal prepared by Laurie. Sitting outside of the old farm home, we talked about the past and present - a wonderful time, but all too short. We finished up, said our goodbyes and headed on out toward Ovid, in search of the Smalley home on 6th street.

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Every time we have gone through Ovid, mom has told stories of who lived in which house, and how they were related, like it was yesterday. But unfortunately, I have not been able to record these stories (yet), but hopefully next chance we can do this. Certainly a video would go a long way...

After this, we proceeded onward to Curtis Nebraska. As it was getting late, we decided to stop in North Platte, Nebraska for Dinner at Applebees. Food was fairly good and was enough to tie us over. We jumped back into the car and proceeded onto our hotel in Curtis - the Hi Line hotel.

This hotel was rated a 3 star and it was ok, but lodging accommodations was always minimum for us... we were after all not living there, just sleeping.

See day 4 for more of what happened.

Sanders Family History Trip - 2008 - Day 2

Day 2(August 23, 2008):

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Early morning risers get the worm. Fortunately, someone got there before me and I was left with more traditional foodage. The typical Sanders' reused coffee grounds were thrown out in honor of the eldest sons visit and a whole fresh batch of "new" grounds scented the early mountain fresh air. It is a well known fact that the coffee beans keep better if not used, ergo the reason why they are so infrequently ground and used!

So with suitcases, equipment, food, snacks and fresh coffee in hand, we set off eastward toward the rising sun. Pictures were taken along the way to ensure we knew we were there, but some have been left out of the record to protect the shy.

After a short while (2.5 hours) we arrived in Fort Morgan. This stop was meant to locate grandpa Jake and grandma Mabel Smalley in the Fort Morgan cemetery. We were not able to find them, even after looking for nearly 45 minutes. I figured we could come back on the return and at that time, we would have a chance to locate the exact gravesite.

So, we got back into the car, meandered further east and north, toward Sterling. Prior to getting into Sterling, I had called the Riverside Cemetery to see if they were open. As it was a Saturday, it was likely that there was not going to be anyone there, but to my surprise, I got a hold of a person (the owner) and they said if we came over right away, we could catch them before they left. Luck was on our side, so we hustled over to the Riverside Cemetery, which was only 5 minutes away from where we were and stopped to talk with the attendants. As usual, we were able to get the information on locations of family in the cemetery, which was VERY helpful as this is a very large cemetery. It would have been near impossible to find some of the family interred if we had not been able to talk with the attendants of the cemetery. As usual, Dad was very helpful and in the process of looking up the names, we found out that one of the persons was a daughter of someone that Dad went to school with (small world). After this quick stop, we had maps and details of where to go, so we went onward to see Grandma at the home.

Grandma looked good and it was a pleasure to see her in good spirits at 87 years young. We visited for a while in her room, then went to a side area to talk and eat her favorite Taco John's food. Following the delicious "Taco John lunch", we took some pictures, said our goodbyes, and headed out to the Sunset Memorial Cemetery, where we paid our respects to Yahns.

From here we went back south into town to see if we could meet Dad's half sister, Becky. We didn't have any luck in meeting her, as no one was home. So we moved onto the next location, back to the Riverside Cemetery.

At Riverside, we paid our respects to the McKenzie's, Yahn's, Wood's, Kidwell's, Sanders', Cheairs, Giacommini and others. Several pictures later, we were off to visit with Larry and Tammy. The olympics, family, reunions, fish and ponds predominated the conversation. The house and back yard looked wonderful (as usual) and the wildlife seemed to be everywhere - toads, birds, crichets and more. Some drinks, appetizers, and an excellent Dinner completed the night and we all turned in for bed. For those of you who still speak "old Missourian, midwest english", Dinner (not Supper) is the proper name for the last meal of the day, which occurs in the evening, around 4-7pm. This is a much debated subject at tables around the world.

See Day 3...

Sanders Family History Trip - 2008 - Day 1

Day 1 (August 22, 2008)

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The trip started with a 800+ mile plane ride from Phoenix to Denver International. Folks met and picked me up around noon:30 and we were off to our first destination - cemeteries in Denver, Colorado. We found everyone we were looking for, with help from the local staff (these are large cemeteries covering acres and acres), said a few prayers, took a few pictures, then ventured onward. It was great to stop and pay our respects.

Our next stop was Brent and Tracy's home about an hour away. Some important tools that I hauled along on this trip was a metal detector and compass. When we arrived the kids were out playing and excited to see grandma, grandpa and uncle Brian. We hugged and started to pull out some items from the car. I couldn't help pulling out the metal detector for the kids, even though it might cause some headaches later. If you have never used a metal detector before, basically they emit a loud obnoxious noise when the detector moves over a metal item. They are really cool tools and necessary to have when you want to find something underground.

My nephew was the first to try it out... after a quick explanation of what it was and how to use it. He promised not to take it outside of the yard and would "be careful" with it. Before long, he was checking out everything... the ground, the walls, the chairs, hair on the dog, the grass, trees, people, etc. Inside the house, it was becoming a bit of a nusaince since the dog didn't like it, and consequently the dog kept barking. After about 10 minutes (may have been longer), the detector and users were banned to the "outside", somewhere in the nether areas of the porch. It wasn't long before the metal detector was discarded for the next activity and left to be found at a future dig site!

Our family went into "catch up" mode with details about work, life, kids, the HOA, the food, and more. It was quite a whirlwind as we had a number of things to celebrate - Dad's birthday, Brad's "moving" and the all too rare event of having all the boys in the same space with ma/pa.

It was a delight to see the younger bipedals of our clan. The enchanting Miss rumbling stream and the taller than a spruce tree, Mr. B, kept going and going and soon tired me out just watching them. I was educated on how to use the drums so that we could sing some AC/DC songs. Tracy sang the lyrics and the kids did the rest with the guitar. I think the game was rigged as I couldn't keep a beat to save my life!

I seem to recall a quadraped like creature that was part canine and mostly rodent that tried to bite me. Not sure what it was but they called it their pet, even though it was about shoe size.

The evening was choreographed and managed by the graceful and wonderful Tracy, with her assistant/chef, Brent. Food was plenty (and good), drink was cold (and good), and altogether the time was great (but short). Pictures were taken to commemorate the time.

A side trip to Boulder with Brad and a trip up the mountain to sleep, was the end of "day 1". The morning was going to be up soon, so sleep was a welcome event.

See Day 2 for more adventures.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Sanders Family History Trip - 2008 - Pre-ambling

I have added a number of blogs, recently, to chronicle my recent Family History Trip I took in August of 2008. The trip was from Arizona through Colorado and Nebraska with the goal of finding my family roots, specifically on my mothers side.

Plans were drawn up and this time, I tried to be very detailed, allowing for limited flexibility and marginality. The trip was planed to be a 9 day adventure into the plains of Colorado and Nebraska, searching in dusty back rooms for old legal land descriptions and driving across country to places my relatives lived over 130+ years ago.

I used a nice tool to chronicle the trip stops and have embedded the links here googlemaps. Each blue tack is a significant place that we stopped and is also an active link in and of itself.

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Pre trip readiness/Background/Preview
As has been the case in past trips, this was packed full of items that would need 20 days to complete and as typical, the days preceding the trip were also a bit challenging with a business trip to Taiwan the week before. Therefore, much of the preparation was limited to what was done a month earlier.

I expected that this would be a fun trip entangled with details and more details of what/where to go, but due to the schedule prior to departing, I didn't get a chance to print out all my detailed documents, in their usual organized format, of WHAT we needed to do... so I went "old school" and used a "pen and paper" (very messy technology and hard to erase). I managed to jot down my KEY OBJECTIVES of the trip and in enough detail as to understand them all. This ancient technology was a valuable aid, and thus allowed me to focus on another important task - navigating with your retired parents! This type of stuff is actually the FUN part of genealogy research, but it gets a bit monotonous. Find location, read hundreds of mostly dry and old records, document what you found, and go to the next location, and repeat a few hundred times.

I have managed to come up with a fairly efficient process where the data is collected quick and easily, then cataloged, organized, declassified, and eventually summarized, AFTER the event. The method is to take lots of pictures with a digital camera. This can be amazingly fast and effective, especially when you don't have a copy machine OR the books are too large to make copies, OR as I found in one stop this trip, they won't let you make copies due to the effect of the light and interaction with ink.

In this trip alone, Dad and I collectively took nearly 2500 high res jpeg pictures, recorded 5 mpeg videos, and 14 digital audio recordings. The total digital information storage space was over 3.6 gigabytes!

To see how this trip went, be sure to read the next blog - DAY 1.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Family History Trip 2008 - Adelia Foy Short Story

In August 2008, I departed Phoenix Arizona on another adventure to locate my family roots. This trip was planned to be a 9 day journey across the plains of Colorado and Nebraska, searching for details of my maternal lineage, namely the Weber, Foy, Wood, Faber, and others. Of course, the trip would not be complete without my trusted companions and knowledgeable experts of the past (ie. my parents), so we met at the Denver airport for the start of a 1500 mile road trip.

The trip was broken up into 3 major stops - 1st around Sterling, Colorado, the 2nd in Curtis, Nebraska and the 3rd in Hastings, Nebraska. From these 3 locations it was possible to get close to the heart of key information sources - county court house, library, historical societies, cemeteries, previous homes and business locations, plus restaurants, hotels, and family!

More details will be plied about this trip in a later writing, but there was one story I wanted to capture as it relates to a combination of factors that has aided me in the past. Call it coincidence, luck, or just plain stubbornness, the fact remains that locating family details is a lot like a detective story - clues lead you along a path and hopefully you "solve" the mystery. In this case, I wanted to find my maternal Great Great grandmothers burial location and any other details (ie. my mothers, mothers, fathers, mother) - Adelia (Arnold) Foy.

Since 1975, Grandma Adelia (Arnold) Foy has been a bit of an enigma. I have had limited information and even less success in locating details on her. In fact, attempts in the last 2-5 years have led to a number of possible clues, via the internet ( etc), but all of the leads have ended up being inconclusive. This was one reason why a trip to Hastings Nebraska to find Grandma Adelia Foy was so important.

One crucial source of information in searching for family history is a cemetery. Not everyone is comfortable in doing this, but with some practice, you find it very rewarding connecting with your relatives and paying your respects to those who came before you. What our families endured in their lives can't be summed up in a headstone with dates, but knowing that they were on this planet adds validity to our research and most importantly, a chance to honor their memories. We knew where grandma Adelia Foy and family homesteaded and based on experience, we could assume she could be buried within a radius of 15 miles. When a survey of cemeteries was computed (from the internet), there were over a dozen in this radius, but 4 looked very promising. It was still going to be a bit of luck to locate the cemetery.

A compounding effect of history is that it blur's names. In the 1800's, farmers did not have a "street address". In fact, depending on the size of the town, if you lived in the "town limits", you likely did not have a house OR a street address. Anypost would be addressed to the person and the town (ie. Bert Smith Hastings, Nebraska). Additionally, people defined their residence based on the township (ref #2) and county, relative to a city post office. For grandma Adelia and grandpa Charles Foy, their homestead was in Little Blue township, Adams county, Nebraska, roughly 3-5 miles southwest of Pauline. The name Little Blue comes from the river that passes through Adams County. However, there is also a town called Blue Hill just across the county border in Webster County, about 15 miles away. Blue Hill town and Little Blue township have been "blurred" in my database so it is unclear which was which.

As we departed Hastings, heading south to find grandma and grandpa Foy's homestead in Little Blue township, we stopped along the way at 2 of the 4 potential cemeteries, looking for Grandma Adelia Foy. We were able to eliminate the first as it was a Mennonite cemetery and the 2nd as it had an index - Foy's were known to be Catholic. The next cemetery location was the furtherest away, located in Blue Hill (town) - this is in a different county (Webster), furthest from Hastings, and as the sun was setting, we quickly realized this cemetery would be the last stop of the day and would be a quick search.

Most cemeteries are small, have limited information about the decedent burial locations and the older they are, the less information is available. As we drove into the cemetery, it was big enough that the 3 of us could search on foot, but it would take about 1+ hour, which would put it past sundown. It so happened that there was a cemetery index, sorted by alphabet and locationally ided - this was a great find. We quickly looked up the surname Foy, but found nothing. A quick search for Arnold resulted in a few names, but nothing triggered anything. There were many other cemeteries we needed to investigate, and this was just the 3rd one so far, so we started back to the car, ready to return to Hastings and call it a day. Mom and dad were already in the car and I meandered over to look at a few headstones. Interestingly, I happened to find a surname that was related to my maternal line (Harper). I remember thinking, I should look at the Arnold headstones, just for potential help in the future, so I went back to the index/map and looked up Arnold again. This time I noticed an Adelia Arnold and told mom and dad that I would like to look at the Arnold site and I may have found Adelia. They got out of the car and together we looked at the map to find where she was at. We drove over to where the map showed us, but to our dismay, there were many broken and illegable headstones - perhaps they were buried here?? The sun was going down and we thought this was the best we could do, but we were eager to expand our search area a little bit more south. Still nothing! We started to head back to the car, when I thought I would head east of this location and within 50 yards, I discovered an Arnold, then another and then there she was - Adelia Arnold Foy.

So after nearly passing up this cemetery, we found her, but without a few hurdles - her listing surname was wrong, the map location was wrong, and the light was nearly gone, but yet with a bit of persistence (AND LUCK), we managed to find grandma Adelia Foy. The wonderful part of this find was that she was also buried in family plot, along with her parents - Oscar and Maria Arnold.

The sad story of her death was common in these times of hardship. In 1890, the banks had foreclosed on all their property, there was a serious drought and many people were losing their shirts. They had nothing and then within 4 monhts, Adelia gave birth and both died. Later, I discovered that the Arnold family had homesteaded south of Blue Hill town, in Elm Creek township, Webster county, Nebraska, so this was a central location for the Arnold's and Foy's. Oscar Arnold passed away in 1888 and Maria Arnold, Adelias mother was still alive.

It was very rewarding finding my Great Great grandmother Adelia Foy as well as my Great Great Great grandparents Oscar and Maria Arnold. Future trips will be made to honor these people and my hope is that I will continue to have the opportunities to share the memories.

Until next time.

Blue Hill Cemetery