Vacation can take people to all kinds of new and interesting places.
Some people have a goal of visiting all 50 states and try to visit a new one each year or two. Some people have a bucket list of baseball stadiums they want to see or national parks they want to visit. I even know someone who loves to visit historic libraries that were built by Andrew Carnegie, and he goes to see them all across the country.
Some people are “genealogy tourists,” and they visit locations where they can conduct family research. They may visit cemeteries of their ancestors and make rubbings of headstones. They may drive hundreds of miles to scroll through microfilm at a small-town newspaper. They may also visit a library to pore over city directories, yearbooks and other archives.
The Norfolk Public Library often welcomes these traveling family researchers. Genealogists from as far away as Washington and Arizona have looked through the library’s materials, scouring for birth announcements, addresses and obituaries to complete their family trees.
Several years ago, the library worked with the Norfolk Daily News to get all the newspaper’s archives into a digital format that was easily searchable. The new digital archive was available in the library and greatly reduced searching time. Instead of scrolling through rolls of microfilm, the researcher simply had to type…
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The genealogy group has put up storyboards around town. Photo / Supplied
August is Family History Month and the local genealogy group has planned several activities for those interested in researching their family, or those needing a refresher in making the most of the internet for their research. Capturing family stories and publishing them is one way of ensuring memories are passed down to the next generation.
To start the month, the genealogy group has put up storyboards around town and from August 1-6, these can be found in the foyer of the local library, as well as in the shop windows of Robert Harris, the Barber Shop, Bakehouse Café and the StoryTeller.
Inside the library during the first week of August will be a static display on the key steps needed to get started with family history research, along with free handouts and contact details for those wanting one-on-one help. The library will also have a selection of family history books on display.
At the end of Family History Month on Saturday, August 27, and also on Saturday, September 3, the genealogy group is holding two separate beginners workshops at the Te Awamutu Library. Both workshops are free and run from 10am to 12.30 pm, with doors to the Community Room open from 9.30am.
The workshop on August 27 will focus on getting started. Among the topics will be research basics, key online websites and keeping yourself organised.
The second workshop will cover DNA as a key research tool, collaboration with others and writing up your stories.
Although the workshops are stand-alone, people will get the most out of them if they are able to attend both.
Also part of Family History Month will be a talk by Alan Hall on Te Awamutu’s heritage commercial buildings. Alan Hall is a member of the genealogy group and a driving force behind the heritage building research team. His talk, Te Awamutu’s Business Area: The Story of its Development, follows on from an earlier talk he gave called Old Wine in New Bottles.
Alan’s first talk focused on the buildings themselves; his latest talk focuses on the development of the town between 1880 and 1920, the role played by the town board in the provision of essential services and their part in opening up Mission Station land for commercial development.
He will also discuss some of the more important commercial buildings erected in Te Awamutu between 1890-1950, including observations about the architectural…
Because this section is free of charge, community events are subject to run based on available space. Religion items are published on the Saturday church page. Email events to [email protected]
SPORTS REGISTRATION: Danville Parks and Recreation’s registration period for youth football and cheerleading is now open until Aug. 5. This season’s offerings are available for children ages 5-12. Flag football is for children ages 5-6, and tackle football is for children ages 7-12. Registration for football is $35, and registration for cheerleading is $40. Additional fees may apply. Sports officials are also needed. Those with relevant experience are encouraged to contact 434-799-5214. Those interested in registering for football and cheerleading may do so by calling 434-799-5214 or by signing up online at playdanvilleva.com.
TODAY, JULY 12
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SENIORS ON THE MOVE: The senior citizen’s program at the Cherrystone Missionary Baptist Association, 5551 Tom Fork Road, Ringgold, meets every Tuesday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. to play bingo and dominos. Also, there’s a computer awareness class from 10 to 11 a.m. and 1 to 2 p.m., senior exercise from noon to 12:20 p.m. with lunch served from 12:20 to 1 p.m. All seniors 60 years and older are welcome. For additional information, call Frances Garlin at 434-822-6453, Barbara Williams at 434-713-5271, and for computer awareness and exercise, Kathy B. Ramsey at 434-251-0379.
BY DON W. ASHLEY
President, Bristol Library Board of Trustees
After two years of COVID-19 pandemic struggles, it is very nice to see our library returning back to near normal operations.
While still taking safety precautions as necessary, your library and library staff look forward to serving you and providing a safe environment for study, reading, research, group activities and meetings.
Since the major renovation in 2006, the vision for our local Bristol library has always been to accommodate our citizens both in Bristol Virginia and Bristol Tennessee. The Avoca branch also serves our citizens.
Our library is much more than a building with books. Did you know that the library has 90 different magazines and 12 different newspapers for you? Did you know that meeting space can be reserved for local groups, clubs or organizations? Did you know that these meeting areas are high tech and provide state-of-the-art presentations?
Did you know that the library also displays art and collections of interest from time to time? Very often these displays are unique and very interesting. Did you also know that movies are shown regularly and the teen center and children’s section have events weekly?
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Did you know resume writing and work force readiness classes are available? The Homer and Ida Jones Center is just for this. And did you know that inter-library books from other libraries can be obtained and…
In this family history, “Raft Tide and Railroad: How We Lived and Died — Collected Memories and Stories of an Appalachian Family and Its Seventh Son,” Appalachian author, poet, and editor Dr. Edwina Pendarvis, was guided by sage advice from a grandmother, Jet Johnson, known only to her through family stories and photographs.
Not long before Johnson was murdered, she asked one of her sons to note the strength of a bundle of twigs — as opposed to an individual twig — and see it as a metaphor for family strength — a metaphor originated by an earlier Appalachian — the warrior Tecumseh. In “Raft Tide and Railroad,” the author has preserved her family’s history and recognized its strength through accounts that span seven generations of experiences in Virginia, Kentucky, and West Virginia from the early 1800s to the present.
Pendarvis, a key member of the Jesse Stuart Foundation editorial team, also tells a larger, communal story of those who settled the Appalachian region. It is one of homesteading an untamed wilderness, timbering the virgin forests, and moving the logs downstream on swollen rivers. She recounts life on the farms, in the small towns created by the coming of the railroads, and in the coal camps. As the title promises, the memoir focuses on the life of one “special” uncle, the seventh son of a seventh son and youngest child of Jet Johnson. His story is a rags-to-riches account of a self-proclaimed “hillbilly” who built a horse-breeding empire after selling a successful mining company. Sports Illustrated said of Donald Johnson: “Far from being a member of the horsey…
In August, Louis Kavanaugh Jr., completed his second family history book and it is now on sale to family members and anyone interested. The first family history book was published in June of 2017 by Kavanaugh and it was on the Kavanaugh family and the McCauley family. This was his father’s and mother’s families. The 450 page book was professionally done and had a second printing later that year. That book is now on Amazon thanks to the efforts of Kavanaugh’s nephew Jeff Kavanaugh.
The latest family history book from Kavanaugh is for the James “Gus” Michaels family and for his wife Josephine (Laux) Michaels.
Gus grew up in the Montgomery area and in his early 20’s moved to Lincoln, Nebraska, to work for the Remington Rand Company, and that is where he met his wife, Josephine Laux. They were married Aug. 21, 1934, and moved to Oshkosh, Wisconsin, when Gus was transferred there with his job.
In the 1940s Gus and Josephine moved back to Indiana where they raised their family. Gus was the son of Louis and Mary Frances (Matthews) Michaels and Gus was one of 11 children born to Louis and Mary Frances. Gus’ ancestors came to this country from Ireland. Josephine was the daughter to Joseph Adam Laux and Eva Maude (Young) of Havelock, Nebraska, which later was incorporated into Lincoln, Nebraska. Josephine Laux was one of eight children born to Joseph Laux and Eva Maude (Young) Laux. Josephine’s ancestors came to this country from Germany.
Gus and Josephine had four children: James Joseph Michaels, Mary Jo (Michaels) Gaetano of Grays Lake, Illinois, Tom Michaels of Loogootee, and Liz (Michaels) Kavanaugh of Montgomery. Gus and Josephine, along with the oldest son Jim, are now deceased.
When asked why he took on this task of writing another family history book Kavanaugh said that after he completed his family history and with its success, his wife, Liz, asked him to do her family history. He said he hesitated to do so because her family was scattered all across the country and he knew it would be a big job to get all the data he needed.
But after making several contacts with Liz’s cousins in Colorado, Nebraska, and other parts of the country, it went better than he expected. They had done a lot of research and this was a big help to have that done.
The book is just under 400 pages and sales of the first printing are nearly gone. The content of the book was online for family members to view before they purchased it and they must have liked what they saw as the orders are coming in.
Another big help on this book was Pastor Louis Showers of Washington. He was able to lay out the pages and helped with the proofing. He had just finished proofing the final pages and forwarded the book to the printer when he took sick and passed away on Sept. 20. Kavanaugh said he could not have done this without Showers’ help. Kavanaugh said he was extremely grateful for the help to get this project completed.
When asked if this would be his last book, Kavanaugh said, “I do have other obligations with church, family and the pro-life movement and I want to see that through before I take on anything else. Time will tell.”
One thing Henry Louis Gates Jr. has learned in his years of fascination with genealogy: The differences that separate human beings are microscopically small.
“At the genome level,” Gates said, “all human beings are 99.99% the same. And there are demagogues that want to make us forget the fact that we are all created in the image of God.”
Gates was in Tulsa on Friday morning as the final speaker for Tulsa Town Hall’s 2021-22 season. He spoke to a full house in the Tulsa PAC’s Chapman Music Hall and took part in an informal question-and-answer session with students from Tulsa Community College prior to his lecture.
Gates, a literary critic and professor at Harvard University, has written more than 20 books and earned 59 honorary degrees for his work in exploring and expounding upon the history and contributions of Black culture.
However, he is perhaps best known as the host of “Finding Your Roots,” the popular PBS series in which he guides celebrities through the often densely packed branches of their family trees.
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Gates said his interest in his own family history began in 1960, at the funeral of his grandfather, a man so light-skinned that the children in the family secretly referred to him as “Casper.”
After the funeral, Gates’ father took him and his brother to the top floor of their grandfather’s house to show them a collection of old ledger books that Gates’ grandfather had used as scrapbooks.
“He started turning through the pages until he found what he was looking for,” Gates said. “He pointed to a clipping, then showed us a photograph of a woman. He said he wanted us to remember this person.”
She was Jane Gates, Gates’ great-grandmother. She was a midwife, and the headline for her obituary described her as “estimable colored woman.”
“The last thing I did before I went to bed that night,” Gates recalled, “was to get out the big red dictionary on my desk and look up the word ‘estimable.’ When I saw what it meant (worthy of great respect), I thought maybe some day I could be estimable, too.”
Like many African Americans, Gates was galvanized by the story told in Alex Haley’s book “Roots” and by the landmark TV mini-series adapted from it.
It wasn’t until 2000, when DNA testing had developed to the point where it could determine the various strands of a person’s ancestry, that the idea for what would become “Finding Your Roots” was born.
Originally, Gates focused on famous African Americans, such as astronaut Mae Jemison, composer Quincy Jones, actress Whoopi Goldberg and media mogul Oprah Winfrey.
“Why did I want Oprah (to be in the first series)?” Gates asked of the Town Hall crowd. “Simple — I needed $6 million in order to do the series.”
Gates later expanded the scope of the program after receiving a letter from a woman of Russian and Jewish heritage, accusing him of racism because the show did not include people of other nationalities and cultures.
“Finding Your Roots” is one of the highest-rated series on PBS, something that Gates attributes to the fact that the United States is, in the words of Martin Luther King Jr., “a nation of exiles.”
“Everyone here is from somewhere else,” Gates said. “And what truly makes America great is the fact that we welcome those people who are willing to risk everything to a find a home in this ‘city on a hill,’ as Ronald Reagan called it.”
Gates believes that one of the most effective ways to heal up the divisions in our society is to use the history and science involved in genealogy. Students would be tasked with searching through databases of census records to create their own family trees, then follow that with DNA tests to reveal one’s true ancestry.
“After all,” Gates said, “your favorite subject is always yourself. And when you open that vault of history and stories of your ancestors, you will discover information about who you are in ways you could never imagine before.
“Your genome is a walking family tree,” he said. “And being able to help let these stories live is why I’m so honored to host ‘Finding Your Roots.’”
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As the soft diffused light of late morning streamed through the windows of his home office, Charlie Ross stood up and walked over to his bookshelf. The wooden unit held dozens of books, all carefully aligned in delicate rows. He ran his fingers over the various covers and stopped at the title he was searching for.
It was a book about his family’s genealogy.
Ross smiled as he flipped through the pages. Ross was born in Frederick and was deeply interested in this research. He later published his findings in several volumes after spending 25 years studying his family genealogy.
But although Ross researched many family members, one relative’s story specifically piqued his interest. The details of her life captivated Ross, and he decided to research her background further.
Based on the true story of his sixth-great-grandmother, Ross, 88, has published a series of four historical fiction novels that explore the life of Tamsen Meserve Ham Tibbetts. The books, “Tamsen’s Quest,” “Tamsen’s Dilemma,” “Tamsen’s Fateful Journey” and “Tamsen’s False Accusers,’’ are part of Tamsen’s Chronicle, in that order. All of the novels were published in late October 2021 through Ross’ self-publishing company, Ring Gold Publishing.
The series delves into the world of Tamsen, a mother living in New Hampshire in the 1720s. Her life takes a turn when her husband is killed and two of her daughters are abducted by the Abenaki tribe, an indigenous group located in parts of northeastern North America. The series follows Tamsen’s journey to find her family, while the two daughters, Rachel and Anne, must adapt to the new challenges they face.
Ross explains Tamsen was a bold and determined woman. She dealt with many life-changing events at a young age and continued to persevere. At 22 years old, she was scalped, causing her to wear her vibrant auburn hair in a combed-over braid, as seen on the books’ covers. Living on the open New Hampshire land, Tamsen was an excellent horse-woman and a “crack shot,” according to Ross.
“I ran across [Tamsen], and I’ve always wanted to write fiction,” said Ross. “She was a woman way ahead of her time.”
Tamsen’s story offered a gateway to a new form of writing for Ross. Although this is his first fiction series, he has decades of experience writing nonfiction and conducting research for his books. Along with his published volumes on his family’s genealogy, Ross’ published nonfiction books include “Computer Systems for Occupational Safety and Health Management” and “Making Wooden Jigsaw Puzzles.”
“I’ve always been a writer,” Ross said.
Ross utilized many of these same researching skills while writing Tamsen’s Chronicle. He analyzed historical documents and family records to clearly understand the timeline of major events throughout the series.
And his research did not end there. In 2017, Ross ventured to the archives in Concord, New Hampshire, to uncover records regarding a court case involved in the series. The legal document, written in Old English, required more time to decipher, but Ross knew the accuracy was essential and researched a spelling guide to help him translate the record.
“Investigation is part of my DNA by this time, so researching stuff is what I always do,” he said.
}Although the chronicle is based on true events, Ross explains that the novels are classified as fiction when speaking parts are included. After gathering the information he needed from the historical documents, he then added conversations and descriptions to tie the scenes together.
This task was not always easy. Ross had to extend his research and study intricate details about everyday life in the 1700s. But as he continued to gather more elements, Ross started to truly connect with his characters. Sometimes, he felt like they were almost speaking back to him. Occasionally this would cause his writing to take an unexpected turn from his original outline.
“One character would ask another character a question, and my story would take a different direction,” he said. “And I’m saying ‘Wait a minute, I didn’t plan that.’ It’s an interesting process.”
Ross started writing the chronicle in 2017, after finishing his genealogy books in 2015. As part of his writing process, Ross would strive to write 1,000 words a day. He would start his day after breakfast and begin by editing pages completed from the day before.
By the time he had finished the book, Ross realized the novel would reach 1,600 pages if published. He then decided to split his writing into separate novels, each containing around 400-500 pages. This led to the creation of the four books in Tamsen’s Chronicle, which are all available on Amazon.
Although creative fiction is different from his previous works, Ross explains that he thoroughly enjoyed writing this series. He was drawn to historical fiction as a “trained investigator,” and appreciates the different directions the genre can take.
“When you get into fiction, you’re freer,” said Ross.