Thursday, December 31, 2009

Kinexxions in 2009

The year 2009 started out the same as any other year but took a little twist early-on when I got sick and had surgery in February. There's something about being bed-ridden and being unable to do much of anything or go anywhere. You're kind of like a prisoner in your own mind. For me, it was a time for reevaluating my life and the impetus for finally getting 'around to it' and doing something that I had been wanting to do for a very long time.

In February the decision was made to do some extended travel. A date was set. Plans were made. Furniture was sold. Stuff was disposed of or boxed up for storage. Documents and photos were scanned so I'd have my research papers with me. A new vehicle was purchased. It was a hectic, nerve-wracking time but when September came, I started a new chapter in my life.

I didn't leave genealogy completely behind but it was put on the back-burner. There were new adventures in store and it was very exciting. As every year comes to a close, we tend to review accomplishments and goals. And so it is with the blog. The lists below include some of my favorite posts from 2009 as well as some that were most popular, in no particular order.

The 'Top 10' Genealogy Posts
Five Favorite Family Photos
Favorite Five Travel Posts

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Ain't Makin' No Resolutions!

At this time every year a lot of people make them. Resolutions. Goals. Aspirations. Declarations. Intentions. Call them what you will, a rose by any name is still a rose. However, I always called them goals and, generally, along with what was a growing “to do” list, have tried to use them to help guide my research. It seldom works. I'm not gonna do it this year. I'm doin' sumthin' else.

However, for the record, I did set a few goals for 2009.

I thought I'd get back to posting at Whitley County Kinexxions but that didn't happen and likely won't for some time to come. The blog will remain, taking up a little room out there in cyberspace. Maybe someone will find something of interest there someday.

I thought I'd contribute to the Carnival of Genealogy and Smile for the Camera more often. But that didn't happen either. In fact there were fewer contributions this year than in the past.

Illness and surgery sidelined me for several months early in the year. But they were the impetus for a major change in my lifestyle.

Scanning family photo albums and genea-documents were on the list too. Guess what? They became a high priority item and they got done! Yeah! Feels Good. Something Accomplished.

I was going to start the cleanup of my two genealogy data files, and update sources. Didn't happen. And isn't going to happen for quite some time either. But, I did get Legacy 7 installed. That was the first step in the process. A smalll step, but a start. Sort of.

I wanted to continue with research begun in 2008 on the Fisher and Wise families. Didn't happen. With a proposed research trip to New England (which kinda, sorta didn't happen), the Joslin line became the primary focus with a review of documentation and research that has been done to prove the connections between generations.

My final goal for 2009 was to make my task list shorter for 2010. It is. Actually, there isn't one. Not formally anyway.

That doesn't mean there aren't things that I should do or need to do.
All those scanned files still need to be organized, tagged, and identified.
My Legacy databases still need to be cleaned up and the sources still need fixed.
There are still ancestors and relatives to be found.
There is still more research to be done on the ancestors that have been found.
Perhaps it is better to say that the task list is on hold. Indefinitely.

For there are places to go and people to see.
There are still stories to write and pictures to take.
The Journey continues. Indefinitely.
Perhaps I'll see you somewhere along the way...

This post was written for the 87th edition of the Carnival of Genealogy: New Year's Resolutions!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Greetings from... Georgia

After I left Anastasia State Park and my visit with Denise, I headed a little further north into Georgia. I'm not going to say just where since I'm still there and will be until January 2nd.

It hasn't been nearly as warm these past 10 days as I'd like (daytime highs in the upper 50s and lower 60s and nightime lows in the upper 30s and lower 40s) but there have been a few very nice, warm days! And I'm not complaining, really, just saying... Still beats the winter weather in the Hoosier State!

A visit to my niece to see my new great-grandnephew was a highlight as was spending Christmas Day with Carrie and her family (though Jasmine and Valen weren't there). I just wanted to reassure everyone that wondered where I spent Christmas, that I was not alone, I was with family! And I thank you for your concern...

This will be my longest stay in any one spot since I left home in September. It's a little strange not to be on the move yet, but I wanted to get “settled” in somewhere for the holidays. I looked into staying in Florida but many of the State Parks were booked up for both Christmas and New Years. I guess the “big thing” in Florida and Georgia (and probably other southern states) is to go camping on holidays. I rather expected it during the summer holidays, but not this time of year. Guess it makes sense though, about as much as anything does.

This may be my last post of 2009 so I'd like to wish all of my readers a Happy New Year! May the coming year be the best ever for you, may your brick walls tumble, and may you enjoy health, happiness, and prosperity.

With that I'll leave you with a final sunset photo – actually, it is what I call the “after glow” of sunset, because the sun had already fallen below the horizon when this was taken (and the sun was off to the left outside the view of the camera). I'll tell you where it was taken once I leave this place...

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Newest Twig on the Family Tree

My niece, Carrie, with her 2 1/2 month old grandson, Valen Lopez, and her daughter, Jasmine (the baby's mother).

Me with my great-grandnephew. He is the first of the "next" generation, my mother's great-great-grandson - that's five generations from her, but whose counting? The pictures were taken on Friday, December 18th.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Anastasia State Park

I didn't quite make it down to the beach for the sunrise, but the sun was playing hide and seek through the clouds when I got there.

It was a chilly morning, but that is sand, not snow.

Surf and Sea Foam.

Sand and Sea Shells.

Wind-blown patterns in the sand.

Monday, December 21, 2009

A Visit to Moultrie Creek

As I waited in the dark parking lot I wondered if we would get along, if we would like each other, if we would have anything to talk about... I shouldn't have been the least bit anxious though. When Denise stepped out of her car to greet me with a hug and a big smile it was like being reunited with an old friend rather than meeting someone for the first time. In a way we had come to know each other, through our blogs (she at Moultrie Creek and Family Matters), but now we have actually met, face-to-face, and I'm delighted and honored to say that we are truly friends.

It was Friday evening (December 11th) when I met Denise and her husband for supper. It's hard to believe it was 10 days ago. Good golly, how the time does fly!

Saturday morning (12/12) Denise and I attended a wreath-laying ceremony at the National Cemetery in St. Augustine. It was impressive, especially with the Florida Patriot Guard Riders in attendance. It had been raining all morning but as the ceremony was about to begin the skies opened up and it just poured. Denise had loaned me her umbrella since she had worn a jacket with a hood and the sound of the rain on the umbrella pretty much drowned out the voices of the speakers.

After the official ceremony was over, Denise and I were honored to lay a wreath at the grave of Emily Kennedy – the only female veteran buried in that cemetery. Emily served in the Army Nurse Corp from 1905-1907 and in the Navy 1909-1912. She also enlisted in 1917 the Army Nurse Corp, when in her 30s, serving during WWI. On facebook, Denise linked to the online article but here's the link for those who missed it or don't “do” facebook...

Since it was raining, we just “hung out” at Denise's place Saturday afternoon. Talking. Army, Navy, National Guard, Travel. Family. With a little bit of internet, checking email and reading blogs. But mostly talking. After a supper of Denise's own chili and rice, which was quite good, I departed for the night (I stayed at Anastasia State Park).

Sunday morning saw warmer weather and sunshine! And that meant sightseeing in St. Augustine and the Historic District. Denise was the best tour guide, ever. Very knowledgeable about the history of the area, the buildings, and the various ethnic groups who have lived in St. Augustine. It was, quite simply, delightful. It was a beautiful day, weather and otherwise.

We got together again for a “farewell” supper Tuesday evening at the neighborhood Mexican restaurant, about two blocks from Denise's house. I certainly enjoyed the time I spent at Anastasia State Park in St. Augustine but the time I spent with Denise and her husband was enjoyable as well, but moreso. Their friendliness and hospitality was greatly appreciated. Thank you!

Denise Olson and Becky Wiseman - December 15, 2009

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Wordless Wednesday :: Sebastian Inlet

Sunset from the Bridge. Sebastian Inlet. December 9, 2009 5:09 pm

Sunset from the Bridge. Sebastian Inlet. December 9, 2009 5:21 pm
(The Zoom was at it's full 7x capability)

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Just Another Sunset...

These pictures almost weren't taken. As I was sitting at the picnic table at the Sebastian Inlet State Park Campground, getting eaten up by the tiniest little critters I have ever seen, I decided to go for a walk. I usually take my camera but for some reason didn't this time. As soon as I got to the road and saw the clouds over the water, I turned around and went back for it.

Interesting clouds. Nice, yes?
But I didn't think the sunset was all that spectacular.
I should have known better.
4:53 p.m.

But then I walked further down the road.
And the sun got lower.
And the clouds changed.
And I zoomed in a bit.
5:04 p.m.

A change of position and I zoomed in a bit more.
5:06 p.m.

Just a little further down the road.
5:14 p.m.

It just got better with each passing minute.
5:17 p.m.

And then it was over.
5:22 p.m.

Day is done, gone the sun,
From the lake, from the hills, from the sky;
All is well, safely rest, God is nigh.

One version of the History of Taps

I can't pass up a good sunset. Especially one that combines clouds and water. The perfect subjects. Mother Nature showing off yet again.

Just as a side note, the only “adjustment” made to these pictures was to resize them for posting to the blog. The colors and contrasts are just as they were captured by the camera. All I did was press the shutter button. They are, quite simply, Mother Nature at her awesome best!

Posted from the Brevard County Public Library, Melbourne Branch. Thanks to their free Wi-fi.

Monday, December 07, 2009

'Twas Forty Years Ago...

It was recently brought to my attention that I passed a major milestone in my life. Had I thought about it, I would have re-posted these letters with the same date with which they were written. But I didn't remember and so you're just getting a list (nothing wrong with lists is there?).

On November 14th 1969 I enlisted in the U.S. Navy. For the next 10 weeks I went through basic training at RTC(W) Bainbridge, graduating on January 23, 1970. These are the letters that I wrote home during that time.
Another milestone has recently passed by... on November 17th I filed for Social Security! And Time Marches On...

Christmas Memories

The Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories, originated two years ago, was the brainchild of Jasia and Thomas MacEntee. Many genea-bloggers are participating again this year but since I'm traveling I haven't taken the time to re-post my memories from 2007. Instead, this will provide a link to all of the posts dealing with Christmases Past. Enjoy!
  • Christmas Music - Christmas Music. What songs did your family listen to during Christmas? Did you ever go caroling? Did you have a favorite song?"
  • Fond Memories - Christmas and Deceased Relatives. Did your family visit the cemetery at Christmas? How did your family honor deceased family members at Christmas?
  • Christmas Shopping - Christmas Shopping. How did your family handle Christmas Shopping? Did anyone finish early or did anyone start on Christmas Eve?
  • Christmas Stockings - Christmas Stockings. Did you have one? Where did you hang it? What did you get in it?
  • Christmas Church Services - Christmas Church Services. Did your family attend religious services during the Christmas season? What were the customs and traditions involved?
  • Christmas at School - What did you do to celebrate Christmas at school? Were you ever in a Christmas Pageant?
  • Christmas is Here! - Christmas Grab Bag. Author’s choice! Please post from a topic that helps you remember Christmases past!!
  • Fruitcake - Friend or Foe? - Fruitcake – Friend or Foe? Did you like fruitcake? Did your family receive fruitcakes? Have you ever re-gifted fruitcake? Have you ever devised creative uses for fruitcake?
  • Christmas and the Arts - Christmas and the Arts. Did your family attend any special events or performances during the holidays?
  • In a time of need - Charitable / Volunteer Work. Did your family ever volunteer with a charity such as a soup kitchen, homeless or battered women’s shelter during the holidays? Were you able to make the holidays special for someone less fortunate?
  • Holiday Travel - Holiday Travel. Did you travel anywhere for Christmas? How did you travel and who traveled with you? Do you remember any special trips?
  • A Christmas Gift to Remember - Christmas Gifts. What were your favorite gifts, both to receive and to give?
  • Holiday Parties - Holiday Parties. Did your family throw a holiday party each year? Do you remember attending any holiday parties?
  • Christmas Cookies - Christmas Cookies. Did your family make Christmas Cookies? How did you help? Did you have a favorite cookie?
  • Grandpa's Candy - Christmas Grab Bag. Author’s choice! Please post from a topic that helps you remember Christmases past!!
  • Santa Claus - Santa Claus. Did you ever send a letter to Santa? Did you ever visit Santa and “make a list?” Do you still believe in Santa Claus?
  • Outdoor Decorations - Outdoor Decorations. Did people in your neighborhood decorate with lights? Did some people really go “all out” when decorating?
  • Christmas Cards - Christmas Cards. Did your family send them? Did your family display the ones they received? Do you still send Christmas cards?

Greetings From ... Florida!

After leaving Huntington Beach on November 21st, I kind of went into a funk. The muse departed - I didn't feel like writing and it would be nine days before I'd shoot another picture! The weather just wasn't conducive to picture taking – cloudy, gray days intermingled with rain, and more clouds. Besides, I was on the move, traveling south to a warmer climate. My mother used to say “Be careful what you wish for little girl, you might just get it!” Oh, so true.

But first, Georgia. Yep, went through it. I was hoping to stay at a State Park south of Brunswick but they were booked up through the Thanksgiving weekend. I called another park near Okefenokee but they were filled too. Gave up on that and went into Florida. No luck there with the state parks either. I called half a dozen of them that were on my route south (roughly just west of the Interstate 75 corridor) and their campgrounds were all full through Thanksgiving weekend as well. So, I just kept going south towards my ultimate destination, Everglades National Park, where I arrived on Monday, November 30th. It was probably a good thing that I didn't get there earlier. They had a pretty severe thunderstorm, with high winds, sweep through the area Thanksgiving night. A couple of RV'rs lost their awnings to the winds.

Well, I got my wish – warmer weather! It has been in the upper 80s during the day and not much cooler during the night. And humid, oh my. So hot and humid it's sweltering. A couple of nights it has rained off and on. Thursday it rained most of the night. At the visitor center they told me it was good to be here this time of year – at the start of the dry season. Hah! Well, even with the heat and humidity, it has been an interesting visit. It is a fascinating habitat with a tremendous variety of flora and fauna. I've seen lots of trees and plants and birds and a few alligators.

On Wednesday, I took a boat trip out into Florida Bay and, aside from the birds, the only wildlife we saw was one dolphin, which jumped out of the water three times near the aft engines. That was it. Still, it was an enjoyable ride. The cool breeze onboard the boat was nice. And the tour guide had a sense of humor. As we were coming upon a turn out of the channel into the bay, there was a tall buoy that had half a dozen terns sitting atop it. He said that it was our tern signal. [big groan]

A free, Ranger Guided Canoe Trip was offered on Saturday morning through the Flamingo Visitors Center so on Thursday I moved from the Long Pine Key Campground to the one at Flamingo. After spending a sweltering night in the van (and I do mean sweltering, I was sweating so much that it steamed over the windows) I began to wonder if I'd made a mistake.

But after the three-hour trip was over, I concluded that it was well worth the wait. Although, in all honesty, the six days spent here was about three days too long!

There were no pictures taken during the canoe trip since I really didn't want to take the chance of losing my camera in a spill. The Ranger said it doesn't happen often, but it does happen and they aren't responsible in case of a loss.

Anhingas – one drying it's wings so it can fly and another sitting on it's nest. December 1, 2009.

I love it how the alligators seem to be smiling at you! December 1, 2009.

Sunset over the pond at Long Pine Key Campground. December 1, 2009.

Some kind of stork at Coot's Bay Pond, midway between Long Pine Key and Flamingo. December 2, 2009.

Sunset over the Flamingo Campground. December 5, 2009. Long Pine Key was just a few miles from the park entrance while Flamingo was a little over 40 miles.

Posted from the Homestead [Florida] Branch Library thanks to their free WiFi, which is greatly appreciated.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Blue Ridge Parkway :: Reflections

The air was crisp on Sunday morning. Frost still covered the grass in the shady areas.

What it is, I don't know, but there is “something” about reflections in calm, clear water. An image within an image. Real. Yet not real. Seeing what is or isn't there.

Sunday morning, November 15th.
Julian Price Memorial Park. Blue Ridge Parkway.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Wordless Wednesday :: Sunrise

Sunday morning, November 15th.
Lenoir, North Carolina.
About 30 miles east of the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Blue Ridge Parkway :: Brinegar Cabin

The grounds were neatly mowed. The garden was lying fallow. The cabin was locked. Peeking into the windows revealed nothing but empty spaces, except for a large object covered with a sheet. It was likely the loom used in demonstrations during the “prime” visitor season, summer.

The Brinegar Cabin, at milepost 238.5 on the Blue Ridge Parkway. A placque at the top of the hill overlooking the cabin proclaims:
The Brinegars were not famous or rich, but they were important to their families and neighbors. In 1876 Martin Brinegar purchased this 125 acre farm from Henderson Crouse, Caroline Joines' uncle, for $200. Two years later Martin and Caroline were married; he was 21 and she was 16. there were many small communities close by where the Brinegars visited their families and friends, traded for supplies, and attended church and school.

Martin and Caroline first lived in a one-room cabin that was already here. Their three children – Alice, Sarah, and John – were born in that cabin. As the family grew Martin built the cabin that stands here now. Their last child, William, was born in this cabin, but died as an infant.

The Brinegars did all the usual work of living on a farm – raising crops and animals, preserving food, and cutting firewood. Martin also made shoes for his neighbors. He was a local justice of the peace and notary public, and for many years he served as clerk for the Pleasant Grove Baptist Church. Caroline made clothing for her family and augmented their income by gathering medicinal plants like bloodroot, snakeroot, and black cherry bark and selling them to nearby drug merchants.

In 1925 Martin was caught in a storm on his way home from church and died from pneumonia eight days later. He was 68. The state of North Carolina bought the Brinegar farm in 1935 to become part of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Although Caroline had a lifetime tenure to stay in her home, she went to live with her daughter Sarah when it became too noisy here for her. Caroline died in 1943 when she was 82.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Greetings From... North Carolina

In an attempt to evade the wind and rain, I left the Richmond area the morning of Friday the 13th, heading west and south, stopping for the night in the small town of Stuart, Virginia. It had rained off and on during most of the drive. Sometime during the night, the rain finally stopped.

The next morning I awoke to sunshine and blue skies and drove the few miles west to the Blue Ridge Parkway. The good thing about driving the Parkway this time of year is that there are very few other people doing the same. The bad thing about driving the Parkway this time of year is that all the campgrounds are closed as are the visitor centers and picnic areas.

Near Cumberland Knob, North Carolina
From the Blue Ridge Parkway - November 14, 2009

Friday, November 13, 2009

Still in Virginia – but not for long!

After determining the location of Hawksbill Church (which was named after a small river rather than the mountain peak) I headed back into Shenandoah National Park on November 3rd. Two days later (and as many very cold nights) I was at the southern terminus of Skyline Drive. The weather had been rather dreary and the color was gone from the few leaves remaining on the trees. But it was still a very pleasant drive. I didn't hike as much as I would have liked though because it was just too windy and too cold.

I wanted to get out of the mountains and back to the coast. But there were a few stops along the way and Mother Nature would have some say in the matter.

Two main stops were at the Walton's Mountain Museum in Schuyler, Virginia – hometown of Earl Hamner, Jr. and Appomattox Court House. Both sites were interesting in their own way. I was a fan of “The Waltons” from the time it first aired. The exhibits were informative and they had a lot of pictures. At Appomattox, I sat in on a chat with one of the volunteer Rangers and was reminded of bits that I had forgotten and learned a few new things as well. It was the highlight of my visit there.

For the next few days I stayed at two Virginia State Parks – Holliday Lake (near Appomattox) and Staunton River (near South Boston and about 25 miles from the North Carolina Border). On Monday (November 6th), I checked into a motel and learned that Tropical Storm Ida was due to go ashore near Mobile Bay. The wind and rain would be into the Carolinas the next day with the possiblity of 4-6” of rain. I had waited a bit too long before heading south, so I decided to go back north towards Richmond, partially to meet up with my friend TJ (who also happens to be a distant cousin) and then visit Williamsburg and Jamestown, eventually going down the coast of the Carolinas, specifically Cape Hatteras National Seashore.

But Ida changed directions and stalled out and, in the last two days, has dumped 6 inches of rain, more in some places, in southeastern Virginia! Currently (the morning of Friday the 13th) it is still windy in Richmond but the rain has pretty much stopped. Now is probably not the time to take the route I had initially planned so I'll be going back west, towards the mountains and then south, avoiding the flooded areas along the coast.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Something Better than Good

The inaugural edition of the Carnival of Genealogy was published on June 4, 2006 by Jasia at Creative Gene. The topic of the next edition (#84) is “What has the Carnival of Genealogy Meant to You?”

It was early in 2006 that I first “discovered” some genealogists that were blogging. But it wasn't until January 12, 2007 that I finally got the nerve to start my own blog. My second post two days later, with the very creative title of Carnival of Genealogy - food!, was for the 16th Edition, which was on Food & Family Recipes. I felt like I was in over my head, but Jasia was encouraging when she presented the post:
“Let's hear it for good plain food! Becky describes the good plain Midwestern food she remembers from her childhood in Indiana. This is the kind of food many of you will remember from your childhoods too. Fried chicken, homemade pies, and vanilla caramels... yum! Thanks Becky!”
And Thank You, Jasia. For thinking of creating the Carnival of Genealogy, and for your kind words of encouragement to everyone with each new edition. I've said it before, but I'll say it again – the CoG was truly the beginning point of what would become an online community of genealogy bloggers. A community that provided encouragement and praise. For better, or for worse, you can blame (or credit) the existence of kinexxions on Jasia and the Carnival of Genealogy. I wanted to belong to that community, to be a part of something that was good. And I was welcomed with open arms, as others have been since, and it has become something better than good.

In the beginning, the CoG was the means of introducing yourself to other bloggers. If you wanted someone else to read what you had written the best way to get “noticed” was by contributing to the Carnival of Genealogy. It was how we met each other. It was how we got to know each other. With each post published, we shared a little bit of ourselves with everyone else. We laughed together, and cried together. We became friends. Even though I've had the pleasure of meeting only three genea-bloggers in person, I feel like I know so many more of you because of your blogging.

With each new edition of the CoG, I looked forward to the next. What would the topic be? Would I be able to come of up with something worthy of contributing? Not always. It was a challenge and, in my mind, some submissions were more successful than others. But like many thngs, the more we participate, the better we become.

It has been my honor to host two editions of the Carnival of Genealogy. The first time was July 3, 2007 with the 27th edition, whose topic was What America / Independence Day has meant to my family – hosting that CoG gave me a greater appreciation for the time and effort that Jasia puts into each edition of the Carnival. My second hosting gig came along this year, on February 4th, with Come Dance With Me and it was a huge success, thanks to the 50 contributors who shared their Happy Dance Moments with us!

A recent contribution that I really enjoyed writing was The Best Gift – Ever! for the 69th Edition "What if: Rewriting History" which was hosted by Bill West at West in New England.

Earlier favorites, in 2007 editions 20 and 26 were tributes to Women and Dads in which I presented the stories of my mother's parents in Grandma's Story and Grandpa Vic.

According to my records, including this post, I have participated in 56 editions of the CoG (22 in 2007, 22 in 2008, and 12 thus far in 2009). See Kinexxions :: Carnival of Genealogy Contributions for a complete list of CoG posts. Although, for various reasons, I haven't participated as much as I would have liked this year, the Carnival of Genealogy still holds a place near and dear to my heart and I hope to contribute more often in the future.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Search for Hawksbill Church

Monday afternoon (November 2nd) found me back in Shenandoah County, Virginia - specifically Strasburg, Edinburg, and Luray - in search of that elusive church mentioned in my previous post!

On Wednesday (October 25th) I had made a detour from Shenandoah National Park to Luray, known for its caverns. But that isn't why I went there. I stopped at the library and got some assistance from one of the librarians. I was looking for the location of what in the 1700s and early 1800s was known as the Hoxbiel or Hawksbiel or Hawksbill Church. By 1848, when a new brick building was constructed, it was known as Mount Calvary Lutheran Church. The librarian provided a copy of transcriptions of the church register of baptisms and marriages but it was for a much later time period. But in the preface I learned that even though the congregation disbanded in 1959, the church building still existed and that it was located three miles south of Luray. However, none of the library staff knew where it was located.

The first two pastors that served the Hawksbill congregation were J. C. Stoever (Sr) from 1733-34 and J. C. Stoever (Jr) from 1734-42. They were Johann Caspar Stoever and were my 6th and 5th great-grandfathers, respectively. As stated in the previous post mentioned above, the elder man died at sea in 1739 while returning from a fund raising trip to Europe. The younger Stoever was a traveling pastor visiting and serving several congregations, often at the same time, in Pennsylvania (primarily in what was then Lancaster County, which encompassed a great deal more territory than it does today) and northern Virginia. Much has been written of his exploits and troubles regarding his pastorate and conflicts with his fellow clergymen. There is no way that I can possibly condense it all down so it would make sense in a brief blog post. A fairly complete accounting of his life can be found on pages 51-101 in "Stover-Stoever-Staver- Stiver, An Account of The Ancestry and Descendants of Johann Caspar Stoever of Pennsylvania" by Vernon Stiver & Patricia R. Donaldson, Saline, Michigan, 1992.

The fact that the two Stoevers were both pastor of this church was interesting but not too surprising given the fact that it wasn't all that far from Madison and the Hebron Lutheran Church, albeit on the other side of a mountain range! But what intrigued me more was the fact that another ancestor, 5th great-grandfather, Wilhelm Georg Forster aka William Foster, served as the eighth pastor of the Hawksbill Church from 1798-1806. The Stoevers are ancestors on my Dad's side of the family and William Foster is on my Mother's side.

I took the main road south from Luray (Business Route U.S. 340) thinking there might be a sign pointing the way. I got excited when I saw a sign for Hawksbill Primitive Baptist Church, until it sank in that it was a Baptist Church! I did stop at a gas station along the way, but no one there knew anything about Mount Calvary Lutheran Church, which wasn't surprising since it had closed in 1959. For another hour, I aimlessly drove along the back roads of the valley, hoping for some good luck but finding none, and not finding the church.

While staying with my aunt that weekend I spent some time at Panera Bread using their free WiFi (thank you very much – my aunt has dial-up access, sloooow) and found a pdf file which is an application for the National Register of Historic Places and which provided an exact location for Mount Calvary Church. I really wasn't concerned with finding the actual church so much as just wanting to see where it was located. The building itself held no meaning for me since it was built long after the Stoevers and Fosters were there.

To make a long story short, I returned to Luray after I left my aunt's place and found the church, sort of. I briefly saw the building through the trees high on a hill at the base of a mountain on a narrow, winding dirt road where there was no place to stop without blocking the road completely. I did see a dirt road (more like a trail) that led up the hill, but it was deeply rutted and overgrown and there was no way I was going to attempt to drive my van on it. I also chose not to walk up the trail since it was rather remote and rugged terrain. And I didn't get any pictures either. But I did satisfy my curiosity. It was really out in the middle of nowhere. Now and even moreso back then.

While pastor of Hawksbill, Wilhelm Foster also served as pastor of the Hebron Lutheran Church in Hampshire County, Virginia (now part of West Virginia) from 1797-1803. It is located on West Virginia route 259 between Capon Lake and Intermont (Photograph on wikipedia). And yes, I did make the drive and went to see where this church was located.

In 1796, Wilhelm Forster had purchased 289 ½ acres of land located on the "drains of Bauman Mill Run" outside of Strasburg, Virginia. It was from this central location that he served these two congregations. Strasburg is located midway between the Shenandoah and Blue Ridge Mountains, just below the northern end of Massanutten Mountain, which divides the Shenandoah Valley.

To get to Hawksbill he had to go over a portion of Massanutten. To get to the Hebron Church in Hampshire County, he had to cross over the Shenandoah Mountains. Both churches are about a distance of 25-30 miles from Strasburg. Over the mountains, through the rivers and forests. A distance that took me far less than an hour to travel probably took him several days. By spending the time to drive through the valley and over the mountains to locate the churches, I gained a greater appreciation for these pioneer ancestors.

Oh, and I also obtained the signature of Wilhelm Georg Forster. It was on the land record where he and his wife Magdalene were selling the land they had purchased in 1796. (Shenandoah County Deed Book Q page 43) They sold the land on July 4, 1807 prior to their move to Fairfield (now Perry) County, Ohio. In 1805 Wilhelm had been appointed as a traveling preacher in the Ohio district known as "New Pennsylvania" which included Fairfield (Perry), Muskingum, Pickaway and Ross counties.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Shenandoah National Park

After leaving the Hebron Lutheran Church in Madison, Virginia I drove south on U.S. 29 to Charlottesville then west on Interstate 64 to Waynesboro where I spent the night. The next day (Monday, October 26th) the Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park beckoned me. The first 20 miles were still quite pretty with brightly colored foliage but further north and in the higher elevations, the trees were nearly bare though there were patches of brilliant yellow here and there.

That notwithstanding, the next several days were spent traipsing through the forest (or perhaps I should say, huffing and puffing) on several trails. The weather was not very cooperative with heavy fog and intermittent rain on Tuesday. It gave me an opportunity to catch up on writing blog posts (but I've fallen behind again – can't believe it's been two weeks already).

I was staying in the Big Meadows Campground, not far from Hawksbill Peak (the highest peak within the park) and hiked to the summit on Wednesday. The rain had stopped during the night and the fog had lifted mid-morning. The trail was just 1.7 miles long with only a 500 foot elevation gain, but it sure felt longer and higher!

Wednesday afternoon, I made a short detour out of the park to Luray to try and track down a church where two of my ancestors served (more about that in a future post) then returned to the park and spent the night at Mathews Arm Campground. It was cloudy on Thursday morning and more rain was in the forecast. I took advantage of the offer made by my Aunt in Silver Spring, Maryland and spent the weekend at her place.

10/26 near Bacon Hollow Overlook

10/26 Moorman's River Overlook

10/28 Fog Rising at Fisher's Gap Overlook

10/28 from Hawksbill Summit

10/28 Crescent Rock Overlook

10/29 Gimlet Ridge Overlook

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

John Caspar Stoever and Hebron Lutheran Church

The charming little town of Madison, Virginia lies on U.S. Route 29 about 10 miles south of Culpeper and 25 miles north of Charlottesville. A few miles north of Madison there is a small church that is significant for several reasons. The Hebron Lutheran Church is the oldest Lutheran Church in continuous use in the United States. Built in 1740, it is one of the few wooden churches surviving Virginia's colonial times. The first pastor of the congregation was my 6th great-grandfather, Johann Kasper Stöver aka John Caspar Stoever, in my father's lineage, on his mother's side.

Baptized January 18, 1685 in the Lutheran church at Frankenberg, Hessen (in present day Germany), Johann Kasper Stöver was the son of Dietrich and Magdalena (Eberwein) Stöver. Along with his son of the same name, he arrived in Philadelphia on September 11, 1728 aboard the ship James Goodwill with David Crockett as the ships Master.

Several years earlier, after fulfilling their obligations at the Germanna Colony, a group of German Lutheran colonists purchased land near what would later become the town of Madison. They settled there and carved out lives for themselves and their families. And in 1726, they built a small log chapel along the Robinson River. It wasn't until the spring of 1733 that they were finally able to secure the services of a minister - the Rev. John Caspar Stoever (Senior).

His time as pastor of Hebron, was short - only about a year and a half. But in that time he laid the foundation for the future growth and prosperity of the church. A new house of worship was badly needed. The chapel in which he preached had become too small for the growing congregation and unsuitable for church purposes. The means of his people were limited. After paying their pastor's salary and taxes for the support of the established church, they felt that the burden of building was too great for them to bear alone. It was finally decided to ask for help from their brethren across the seas. Thus it was that in the fall of 1734, Pastor Stoever, Michael Smith (an elder), and Michael Holt (a member of the congregation) were sent to Europe to solicit funds to aid in building a church, establishing a school, and supporting an assistant pastor.

The fund-raising trip was quite successful. Sadly though, on the return voyage to Virginia, in the spring of 1739, Pastor Stoever became critically ill and died at sea. Though constructed in 1740, after his death, the church building is part of the legacy of John Caspar Stoever as is a school built in 1748 - the first school for German speaking colonists in the South – that was used for 100 years.

This historical marker is on the right side of the road when traveling north on the Blue Ridge Turnpike (Virginia Route 231) and is a little south of Hebron Church Road (County Route 638).

The inscription reads “Nearby stands Hebron Lutheran Church. This cruciform church was built in 1740 and is America’s oldest church in continuous use by Lutherans. The congregation was formed by 1725 by German families, some of whom arrived to Virginia in 1717 to work at Germanna, Lieutenant Governor Alexander Spotswood’s frontier mining community. The church was enlarged about 1800 and a pipe organ crafted by David Tannenburg of Lititz, Pennsylvania, was installed. The interior of the church has elaborate frescoed ceilings painted by the Italian born artist Joseph Oddenino. It was listed on the Virginia Landmarks Register and the National Register of Historic Places in 1971.”

It was on Sunday morning (October 25th) that I was given a tour of the church by its historian, Mrs. Judy Ann Fray. Due to poor timing, I arrived after services were over but was extremely fortunate that Mrs. Fray was still there. And even more fortunate that she was gracious and willing to take the time to show me around.

Hebron Lutheran Church, Madison, Virginia. The parish house is to the right (east) of the church. The cemetery and stone fences date from the early 1900s.

The south side (front) of the church was added between 1790 and 1802. The small platform in front of the church was used for mounting and dismounting from horses and carriages. There are three of them, the one in front and one on each of the east and west sides.

The north side of the church (now the back) was built in 1740.

The pews and balcony on the east side, part of the original church building.

Installed in 1802 and restored in 1970, the Tannenberg organ is still in use today.

The southern side, added between 1790 and 1802. In the balcony area, where the organ was installed, you can see that the church originally had a high barrel-shaped ceiling.

The ceiling was lowered and plastered during renovations in 1850. In 1884, the ceiling was painted by Joseph Oddenino of Turin, Italy. Additional renovations were made in 1961.

History of the Hebron Lutheran Church, Madison County, Virginia from 1717-1907 by Rev. W. P. Huddle, Pastor. New Market, Virginia, 1908. Pages 23-30.

Stover-Stoever-Staver-Stiver, An Account of The Ancestry and Descendants of Johann Caspar Stoever of Pennsylvania by Vernon Stiver & Patricia R. Donaldson. Saline, Michigan, 1992. Pages 11-49 provide an interesting and detailed accounting of the life of John Caspar Stoever, Sr.

Pamphlet published by the Hebron Lutheran Church, Madison, Virginia. No Date.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Tombstone Tuesday :: Marjorie Quillen

September 11, 2009 - Since it was dark the previous day when I went through the charming community of Overbrook, Kansas and because I was now back in the area to photograph tombstones from another nearby cemetery, I decided to see if I could locate the grave of little Marjorie Quillen.

According to an entry on, Marjorie died on January 20, 1903 at the age of 14 days. Her parents were Mandella “Della” Joslin and James Downey “J. D.” Quillen. Della was was a sister of my 2nd great-grandmother, Malissa (Joslin) Brubaker. They lived in Overbrook for a few years before moving to Anacortes, Washington prior to 1907. While in Overbrook, J. D. was editor and publisher of the Overbrook Citizen. I wonder now whether any issues of the newspaper exist (on microfilm or otherwise) and if J. D. wrote of the death of his little daughter. For some reason I didn't even think of it while I was in Overbrook. A one-track mind, I guess.

I stopped at the library in Overbrook and asked it they had a publication of tombstone transcriptions. She said no, then when I asked if they had a diagram of the local cemetery, she said yes! And then brought out this huge book, which they called a “census” of the cemetery. Different terminology, but just what I was looking for.

Alas, the diagram of Overbrook cemetery that was published in the book bore no resemblance whatsoever to the various sections as they now exist. The drawing even had the librarian confused. The “census” did show that Marjorie was buried in the old section of the cemetery. The lady I was speaking with tried to tell me where that might be and I think that is the area where I went, but nowhere could I find little Marjorie!

I looked for over an hour, in the hot sun, and I walked up and down all the rows in what seemed like was the oldest section, to no avail. Then off in the distance I could see a young man on a three-wheeler driving down each of the lanes. Attached to the three-wheeler was a weed-eater. He stopped in front of me as I frantically waved my arms at him.

He had the nicest smile. He was very helpful but couldn't recall seeing a stone with the Quillen name on it, but he said he sees so many stones every week and even if he remembered the name he probably wouldn't be able to tell me where it was located. So for perhaps another 30 minutes we both walked up and down the rows, but little Marjorie was not to be found – at least not by me and not on that day.

There was a touching tribute to another little girl, Vivian Butell. She was older, having lived for four years from 1914-1918. I am sure that Della and J. D. would have liked to have left such a monument to their little daughter, but they were not wealthy folk. I envision little Marjorie's marker to be a small one, unassuming and unostentatious. I was somewhat saddened that her grave site wasn't found but that's the way it goes sometimes.

Marjorie wasn't found that day, but I must admit that I was overcome with emotion when I saw the lovely monument to Vivian Butell. The inscription read: Vivian Dau of / Dr. A U & Maud / Butell / 1914-1918