Saturday, January 31, 2009

99 Things to Meme

I found this list on Cherie’s genealogy blog, Still Digging for Roots, and thought it was fun. To be fair Cherie found it on kinexxions. After several attempts I was able to copy it and get it up on my blog. Frankly, it has been some time since I had to do a website and HTML!!!


Here is the key:
Things you have already done or found: bold face type
Things you would like to do or find: italicize
Things you haven’t done or found and don’t care to: plain type

1. Belong to a genealogical society
2. Researched records onsite at a court house.
3. Transcribed records
4. Uploaded tombstone pictures to Find-A-Grave
5. Documented ancestors for four generations (self, parents, grandparents, great- grandparents)
6. Joined Facebook
8. Joined the Genea-Bloggers Group on Facebook
9. Attended a genealogy conference.
10. Lectured at a genealogy conference.
11. Spoke on a genealogy topic at a local genealogy society.
12. Been the editor of a genealogy society newsletter.
13. Contributed to a genealogy society publication
14. Served on the board or as an officer of a genealogy society.
15. Got lost on the way to a cemetery.
16. Talked to dead ancestors.
17. Researched outside the state in which I live.
18. Knocked on the door of an ancestral home and visited with the current occupants.
19. Cold called a distant relative.
20. Posted messages on a surname message board.
21. Uploaded a gedcom file to the internet.
22. Googled my name.
23. Performed a random act of genealogical kindness.
24. Researched a non-related family, just for the fun of it.
25. Have been paid to do genealogical research.
26. Earn a living (majority of income) from genealogical research.
27. Wrote a letter (or email) to a previously unknown relative.
28. Contributed to one of the genealogy carnivals.
29. Responded to messages on a message board or forum.
30. Was injured while on a genealogy excursion.
31. Participated in a genealogy meme.
32. Created family history gift items (calendars, cookbooks, etc.).
33. Performed a record lookup for someone else.
34. Went on a genealogy seminar cruise.
35. Am convinced that a relative must have arrived here from outer space.
36. Found a disturbing family secret.
37. Told others about a disturbing family secret.
38. Combined genealogy with crafts (family picture quilt, scrap booking).
39. Think genealogy is a passion not a hobby.
40. Assisted finding next of kin for a deceased person (Unclaimed Persons).
41. Taught someone else how to find their roots.
42. Lost valuable genealogy data due to a computer crash or hard drive failure.
43. Been overwhelmed by available genealogy technology.
44. Know a cousin of the 4th degree or higher.
45. Disproved a family myth through research.
46. Got a family member to let you copy photos.
47. Used a digital camera to “copy” photos or records.
48. Translated a record from a foreign language.
49. Found an immigrant ancestor’s passenger arrival record.
50. Looked at census records on microfilm, not on the computer.
51. Used microfiche.
52. Visited the Family History Library in Salt Lake City.
53. Visited more than one LDS Family History Center.
54. Visited a church or place of worship of one of your ancestors.
55. Taught a class in genealogy.
56. Traced ancestors back to the 18th Century.
57. Traced ancestors back to the 17th Century.
58. Traced ancestors back to the 16th Century.
59. Can name all of your great-great-grandparents.
60. Found an ancestor’s Social Security application.
61. Know how to determine a soundex code without the help of a computer.
62. Used Steve Morse’s One-Step searches.
63. Own a copy of Evidence Explained by Elizabeth Shown Mills.
64. Helped someone find an ancestor using records you had never used for your own research.
65. Visited the main National Archives building in Washington, DC.
66. Visited the Library of Congress.
67. Have an ancestor who came over on the Mayflower.
68. Have an ancestor who fought in the Civil War.
69. Taken a photograph of an ancestor’s tombstone.
70. Became a member of the Association of Graveyard Rabbits.
71. Can read a church record in Latin.
72. Have an ancestor who changed their name.
73. Joined a Rootsweb mailing list.
74. Created a family website.
75. Have more than one "genealogy" blog.
76. Was overwhelmed by the amount of family information received from someone.
77. Have broken through at least one brick wall.
78. Visited the DAR Library in Washington D.C.
79. Borrowed a microfilm from the Family History Library through a local Family History Center.
80. Have done indexing for Family Search Indexing or another genealogy project.
81. Visited the Allen County Public Library Genealogy Center in Fort Wayne, Indiana.
82. Had an amazing serendipitous find of the "Psychic Roots" variety.
83. Have an ancestor who was a Patriot in the American Revolutionary War.
84. Have an ancestor who was a Loyalist in the American Revolutionary War.
85. Have both Patriot and Loyalist ancestors.
86. Have used Border Crossing records to locate an ancestor.
87. Use maps in my genealogy research.
88. Have a convict ancestor who was transported from the UK.
89. Found a bigamist amongst the ancestors.
90. Visited the National Archives in Kew.
91. Visited St. Catherine's House in London to find family records.
92. Found a cousin in Australia (or other foreign country).
93. Consistently cite my sources.
94. Visited a foreign country (i.e. one I don't live in) in search of ancestors.
95. Can locate any document in my research files within a few minutes.
96. Have an ancestor who was married four times (or more).
97. Made a rubbing of an ancestor’s gravestone.
98. Organized a family reunion.
99. Published a family history book (on one of my families).

Friday, January 30, 2009

Road Warriors--The Old Harner Homestead

“Ya know….this Internet thing is gonna catch on!” Direct quote from my brother, Ken. For years he has teased me with this phrase whenever I find something of interest on the net OR whenever we find a long lost piece of our past (that would be the old Red Rose Tea commercial with the monkeys). Credit where credit is due…he’s right!!

     Two years ago I was noodling around on the net, doing my usual inane combinations in the google search engine and up came a site that actually made my heart stop. The Old Harner Homestead listed on the National Register of Historic Homes…..well, I’m a Harner. Could this be my Morgantown Harners?

And the answer....IT WAS!!!

Registration for the Harner Homstead to be listed on the National Registry is found here:

     August 2007, found Ken and I on the road again, heading back to Morgantown, WV. This trip we decided to go down through Ohio, stopping in Lisbon for a late breakfast at the Lisbon Diner. Then we jumped onto the Old Lincoln Highway (US Route 30) into PA. I do have to add here that when you travel with Ken, you do NOT go from point A to point B without stopping at A1 and perhaps A2 on the way. This trip was no different. We had a delightful stopover in East Liverpool, Ohio and poked about this small town for about one hour before continuing on our way. As Ken says, “You have to walk a town’s streets to get a feel for the community.”

     Morgantown plans were the usual stops….the WVU library for a day of scrolling through microfilm, cemetery searches and the new….The Old Harner Homestead and Harner Chapel. Do I have the best brother in the world….indulging me in this way!!!!

     Our favorite overnight stay is the newly refurbished Morgantown Hotel. It is located right in town on High Street. Since it was purchased by the Clarion Hotel chain, there is a wonderful FREE breakfast served every morning. They have a continental waffle maker, which is my vacation treat. But I digress….

     Ken had made a contact at the Harner Chapel and they were more than happy to show us around and give us some of the Harner history. It was a set appointment for the following day in the morning. Before we turned in for the night, we did make our way out to Sabraton to see the Harner House. Standing in front of it was a FOR SALE sign. This is not the first place we have traveled to see that was on the market. Very strange.

     I connect to the Harner's through my great grandmother, Jessie Pool VanGilder. Her mother was a Harner—Sarah Louise Harner. Sarah’s folks were Philip William Harner and Sarah Fear (or some think it is Fearer). The Old Harner Homestead was built by Philip Harner in or about 1850 outside Morgantown in an area now known as Sabraton. Imagine a house built in 1850 still standing and occupied.

     The house was placed on the National Register on January 12, 1984. It has two distinct architectural features—it is an I-house with an ell feature. To learn more about these features and the house, I wrote a piece for Wikipedia at:

     Our second day in Morgantown began with that free breakfast I spoke about. I was just sitting down to my waffle and sugar free syrup when a woman sitting at a table nearby began to chat me up. She was in from NYC, visiting her sister. I was telling her of our plans and the excitement of seeing both the Harner Chapel and the Harner House. When I mentioned that “our” old homestead was for sale, she looked me straight in the eye and said, “If you don’t find a way to get into that house while it is on the market, you are missing one great opportunity.” I knew she was right.

     Ken was out of the dining room during this conversation, but when he returned, this kind lady told him the same thing. I must mention here that although I would LOVE to get into that house, I am much, much too timid to pull it off. Ken is not. He is my champion!

     We returned to our adjoining rooms and Ken immediately called the realtor. He gave some song and dance about being ancestors of the original owners (which was the truth) and that we were looking to purchase a piece of investment property and that the house might fill the bill. We had an appointment to see the Old Harner Homestead for 1:00 that day. What a day….the Harner Chapel and the Old Harner Homestead….heaven made for a genealogist.

More on the Harner Chapel in a later blog.

     We made our way to the Old Harner House. The realtor was waiting for us in the parking area behind. Keys in his hand, my trusty camera in mine and in we went. I don’t know if I spend so damn much time swimming around in genealogy that I have a somewhat cockeyed view of things, but the hair on my arms literally rose up as I walked over the threshold of that house.

Ken kept the realtor busy while I just wandered from room to room snapping away. I took well over 100 pictures of every cabinet, window frame, step, cornice, and fireplace and on and on. There are many unique features in the house, but I found the hand carved woodwork trim and cabinets to be the most fascinating. It is nothing fancy…just uncomplicated workmanship made with plain tools.

Detail in the upper enclosed porch showing the wood craftsmanship.

     As I moved from room to room I could almost feel my great great great grandparents with me. My great great grandmother would have been raised in this house. Which room did she share with her sisters? What stories were shared by the family over the years in these rooms? Which fireplace was used to cook the meals? The stairs were worn with time and it was my family’s footsteps that had made the indentations. Talk about submerging yourself in family history….

Front large room on the left side of the front entrance. The wall was banked in original cabinets, which when I opened them, were only about 6 inches deep!

Close-up of the cabinets. 

Large living area to the right of the front entrance.

     We spent well over an hour inside. I could visualize buying the place and turning it into a B&B….a little something to do in retirement. The interior would take some work to bring it up to modern standards while still retaining the integrity of the original house. I do a pretty mean breakfast and thought about what special, regional foods I could serve. Of course I would add a metal sign outside with The Old Harner Homestead and National Register on it…and a black metal wrought iron fence around the yard. My mind was racing! But alas, it was only a pipe dream. We did not purchase and my husband, when he heard of my plan he said, "What are you thinking!" He is just too practical….not a dreamer.

Other Harner Blogs on Flipside

Updated October 2023
I WOULD LOVE TO HEAR FROM YOU. All comments are welcome; however, if they are inappropriate, they will not be published.    PLEASE post your e-mail in the comment section if you would like to network about a particular surname or topic. I will capture it for my use only and not include it when I publish your comment.
© 2009, copyright Linda Hughes Hiser

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Road Warriors--Tracing Great Grandmother VanGilder's Life on The Mon

Jessie and my Grandmother, Sarah Margaret VanGilder

     A couple of summers ago (August 2006) my brother Ken and I followed the Monongahela River (referred to as The Mon to those of us from Pittsburgh) from North Charleroi , PA down to Morgantown, WV. Least you think that we come up with some rather strange trips, the purpose was to visit the various river towns that our paternal Great Grandmother VanGilder, Jessie Pool VanGilder, lived in from about 1914-1919.  On second thought, perhaps this is a rather strange trip!!! 

    I have had an unquenched fascination with my Great Grandma VanGilder. I was born before she died and I know she held me as a baby and probably saw me as a toddler, but I have no memory of her. My aunt told me that Jessie was her favorite grandmother, the “nice” one, full of life and laughter. My father remembered her extraordinary cooking and baking. Once Aunt Faith mentioned that her bedroom set in the apartment at 168 Lincoln Ave in Bellevue first belonged to Grandmother VanGilder. I was overwhelmed thinking that I used to sleep in that bed as a child when I stayed overnight with Grams and Pop Pop. 

      For years I had stumbled about trying to find out more information about Jessie…to no avail. The genealogy room at WVU in Morgantown gave me no answers. One day while I was noodling around on up came a newspaper article about Jessie. To say I was in shock would be an understatement. The paper was from Charleroi, PA--a “society article” about Jessie and her sister, Sarah Pool Pinyerd (referred to by family as Aunt Pinny). The quest was on. I put every variation of Jessie VanGilder into the search engine and came up with a multitude of information. My Dad told that he though she cooked on a riverboat called LaBelle under the wheel of a Captain Faddis.   The newspaper reports gave various small river towns between Morgantown and Pittsburgh as her home.

Aunt Pinny's home in North Charleroi, Pennsylvania

     One place she stayed and actually lived in for awhile was her sister’s place in North Charleroi. That, I decided would be the starting point of our trip. 

     Aunt Pinny housed all her sisters in her home at one time or another and her mother, Sarah Louise Harner Pool, my paternal great great grandmother,  died in that house. I had struck a gold mine on ancestry. 

     Charleroi and North Charleroi are river towns built on the side of a hill that runs parallel to the Mon. The hill is so perpendicular to the main street at the bottom, that when Ken drove up one street, I had the feeling that the car would flip end over end back down to the river. Whew! 

     We found Aunt Pinny’s former home and there was a For Sale sign posted outside. That gave us the latitude to really give the place a good look and also take some photos (Miss Snap Happy strikes again!). I will admit I had a shiver run through me standing in front of the house. Knowing that several generations of my family once lived there and that my Great Grandma VanGilder had walked this same street and perhaps stood right where I was standing was too thrilling for words.

Lock # 4 on the Mon

     North Charleroi was, at one time, called Lock #4. The lock is located at the bottom of the street where Pinny lived. The locks are in the river to allow boats to pass through water that goes over falls. Boats enter the locks and water is either pumped in or out of the lock dependent on which side of the falls the boat is going. I might mention here that Aunt Pinny’s husband, John Pinyerd was a riverboat man. I don’t know much about him. Perhaps he even worked on the same riverboat where Jessie cooked or used his connections to get her the job.

Small towns line the Mon on both sides
as it snakes its way from Pittsburgh to Morgantown.

     We stopped in several additional small river towns on our way to Morgantown—Allenport and Rices Landing, both places Jessie called home.  It was an exciting day trip which brought me a little closer to understanding the life my Great Grandmother lived and adding to my admiration of her.

Since this was written in 2009, I have found that my great grandmother's time on the LaBelle was after 1920 and those travels were primarily up and down the Ohio and Allegheny Rivers.

Jessie Pool VanGilder Blogs on Facebook

-VANGILDER, JESSICA POOL--Carnival of Genealogy

-VANGILDER, JESSICA POOLE--Chow Time on the River:  A Transcription

-VANGILDER, JESSICA POOLE--Mrs. Van Stewardess on Steamboats

-VANGILDER, JESSICA POOL--Timeline on TimeToast

-VANGILDER, JESSICA POOL--Tracing Her Life on the Mon

-VANGILDER, JESSICA POOL--Identified at Poole Family Reunion

Updated September 18, 2022

I WOULD LOVE TO HEAR FROM YOU. All comments are welcome; however, if they are inappropriate, they will not be published.    PLEASE post your e-mail in the comment section if you would like to network about a particular surname or topic. I will capture it for my use only and not include it when I publish your comment.
© 2009, copyright Linda Hughes Hiser

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Begetting of the Bracelet or another Tale of the YaYa Sisters

To beget=to acquire.

I am somewhat remiss in posting this blog. I was waiting for a photo to attach to it. This is the tale of, perhaps, the most thoughtful and gratefully received Christmas present of 2008.

We have a little sisterhood, Grace, Pat and I. Although not too original, we call ourselves the Ya Ya’s. We enjoy shopping, drinking, eating, traveling and spa-ing (is that a word?) together. Pat and Grace are sisters and come from Johnstown, PA—so we are all PA gals. Grace is my next door neighbor and Pat was the one who got me my job at Chico’s back in 2006.

Years ago, Pat was on vacation in or around Orlando, Florida and happened upon a jewelry counter among other shops at Shell World in Kissimmee. She was quite taken with one woman’s hand crafted wares and purchased a bracelet. This craftsperson (Evelyn) fashions her jewelry from natural stones, crystals, minerals and gems, all which have meaning and healing powers. Pat has, over the years, purchased bracelets, necklaces and rings and to special people, gives them as gifts.

During the build-up to Christmas, Grace kept warning me that she and Pat were going together on the present for me. She would carefully add that she wasn’t sure if it was something I would like.

On the appointed day for the gift exchange we chose breakfast at the Falls Restaurant in Olmsted Falls. Pat handed me the wrapped box and I slowly undid the paper and ribbon. To my shock and amazement, inside the small box, was a bracelet!!!! I was now a “real” member of the club!!!! Pat held my arm and carefully clasped the beaded bracelet to my wrist while saying some special words about the power of the stones.

Stones to heal and stones of mystical power.

To be certain, I was totally blown away!

Some of the stones and minerals in my bracelet:

Charoite is said to be useful for the cleansing and purification of one's energy body as well as for the transmutation of negative energies within oneself.

Garnet should be carried close to the body. Its energy is balancing and peaceful. This stone of passion stimulates the sexual drive [It really hasn’t performed for me yet, it’s a post menopausal thing….lol].

Malachite is said to aid in the regeneration of body cells, creates calm and peace, and aids one's sleep.

Amazonite makes your skin better. [I wish it would erase all the time lines…lol] Releases fear and anxiety.

Moonstone is believed to be protective for women and babies. It's also associated with the sea and planting cycles. Moonstone is said to balance yin and yang.

And one of the best—

Lepidolite which encourages independence for setting and attaining goals inconspicuously, protection from outside influences, relieves every day stress, and promotes restful sleep when placed near your pillow and attracts good luck to those who carry it, and drives away negativity

I never take the bracelet off.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Have Camera....Will Travel

Taking photos has always been an interest of mine. Family photos by the hundreds fill albums in the basement. Any occasion…there is a snapshot. Before digital, I seemed to go through cameras like Ted went through golf clubs. Of course he didn’t break his clubs, but for some reason my cameras, after short periods of time, were ready for the circular file.

This seemed to coincide with my increased interest in genealogy and I think it was taking photos of grave markers i.e. tombstones that “did them in.” Continually moving the lens in and out for those close-up shots probably knocked things out of whack.

Around 2004, I purchased a “real” digital camera from a fellow who was renovating my house. I was amazed at the clarity of his photos. One day he came to work and told me he had purchased a new digital. He was looking to sell his other one. He asked if I would like to buy it….he didn’t have to ask me twice—the camera was mine!

Snap…snap…snap…experimenting with the new camera was a hoot. So many functions and the instant reward of seeing them on the computer screen…what could be better!

We planned another trip to the UK for the summer of 2005. This time around I would take the digital and purchased a laptop so I had a place to download the photos daily. Our luggage for Scotland had the usual stuff, but Ken and I almost had an office between us….cameras, laptops, blank CD’s and DVD’s, jump drives, printers…yes a printer…paper and photo paper.

We landed in Edinburgh, the usual horrible early a.m. arrival flight…too early to check in and so tired from the jet lag that no one had any energy to do anything. The snapping began as soon as we landed…Edinburgh airport, the rental car with Ken driving from the “wrong” side, and on and on.

Fast forward to Stirling. On our first full day, after breakfast at the B&B we headed down into the Old Town area. The plan was to catch a bus over to the Wallace Monument. Walking down John Street, I became fascinated with the old architecture and couldn’t help myself….walking backwards down the street, snapping away.

I guess it must have taken me awhile to get to Ken and Ted. As I came closer Ken remarked, “Well, here comes Miss Snap Happy!” and the moniker has stuck.

I have been able to use my photography at work, taking photos of runway models, informal modeling at shows, VIP’s at charity events and corporate big wigs during visual inspections, even designing the holiday card for the store.

Family gatherings, vacations, cemeteries, landscapes, WATER, unusual shaped buildings, strange or funny signs, architectural detail….anything that catches my eye could be a subject.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Stop over in the Steel City

I am following my bliss this weekend. Edna's hospitalization for pneumonia has brought me home for a few short days. It should be no surprise to those who know me that I have spent some time poking around cemeteries taking photos to upload onto I was in familar territory driving around Perrysville, where I grew up.

I was looking for a home that I can remember from my childhood. Ruthie Arthur and I would visit and I know one of her great aunts lived there. Their surname was Schar and I thought that perhaps the house was actually located on Schars Lane beside Perrysville Elementary School...but I was wrong. The house was, just as I remember, still white clapboard and located beside the home of an old elementary school friend of mine, Beth McClintock. Both houses are located on the "other" Washington Drive....the one on the opposite side of Thompson Drive.

Of late, doing genealogy, I have become somewhat obsessed with Perrysville.

I did have a delightful time driving around the old neighborhood and even after all these years, no decades, I did not get lost. Maybe you can go home!

Sorry for this diversion....


Wednesday, January 21, 2009

My Oh My….It’s Zwieback Pie!!!

In July, 2004, my brother Ken and I decided to travel to Johnstown, PA. Ken had had a fascination with the Great Johnstown Flood of 1889 since his childhood and this was the summer to satisfy his curiosity. What made this trip of interest to me was the fact that the first person killed by the Great Johnstown Flood was Michael Mann….who just happens to be a great great great uncle of my best UK friend, Heather. Small world.

But I digress…back to the Zwieback pie.

Before we drove to Johnstown, we planned to spend a day with Dad, Edna and our Aunt Faith. Faith was driving up from Carnegie, PA to talk with me about our family genealogy and then I was going to drive her over to Monaca, PA., so she could show us where the Hughes family lived in the late 1940’s.

During our “family chat,” Aunt Faith mentioned that her mother, aka Grams, would make whatever dessert the kids wanted for their birthday. Now, I might mention here that Grams was quite a baker and she learned all she knew from her mother, Jessie VanGilder, who was a baker extraordinaire! My Dad recalled with great fondness the times he was walking home from school and he knew that Grandma VanGilder was visiting because the delicious aroma of baking was wafting up the street.

Aunt Faith said she would never choose a cake for her birthday. What she wanted, year after year, was Zwieback Pie.

How in the world would you make a zwieback pie? Zwieback, that tasteless toast that babies cut their gums on….made into a pie? I am not aware of any cookbooks from Grams’ estate. Did she even use one? She had learned to cook from her mother, a woman who ran boarding houses for decades and then became a cook on a riverboat in later years. I think Grams was just a woman who knew instinctively how to cook. A talent that is NOT part of my gene pool. My mother told me that Grams would see a new recipe in a woman’s magazine and then would make it, especially desserts. Perhaps that was the nexus of the Zwieback Pie recipe.

Short story long…..after googling “zwieback pie” for almost 5 years, finally it came up this week. Oh joy!!! Now, I could actually make a recipe that was one my grandmother made for years. All of the ingredients are things that would already be in the kitchen, except for the zwieback. So off I went to the grocery store. Would you believe that NABISCO no longer makes zwieback! After searching on the web I noted that there are substitutes and that is what I bought.

Here is the valued recipe and you will see that a Zwieback Pie is simply an egg custard inside a baked crushed zwieback with sugar, cinnamon and butter shell. It would have been a good dessert to serve in the 30’s and 40’s when money was tight. Perhaps it's time to resurrect it again.

Zwieback Pie


1 box zwieback toast; crushed
½ c sugar
½ c butter; melted
1 Tbs cinnamon
¾ c sugar
2 Tbs flour
2 c milk
4 egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla
4 egg whites
6 Tbs sugar

Mix zwieback, ½ cup sugar, butter & cinnamon. Reserve ½ cup for topping. Press into pie pan and bake at 375 degrees for 10 minutes. Combine ¾ cup sugar, flour, milk and yolks into saucepan. Cook and stir over low heat until thick. Add vanilla and pour into crust. Beat egg whites and 6 Tbs sugar. Cover filling with meringue, sprinkle with remaining crumbs. Bake at 400 degrees until brown.

PERSONAL NOTE: Aunt Faith does not remember meringue on top of the Hughes Family pie so I decided to just put the whole eggs into the mixture and did not make the meringue. Then I sprinkled the extra zwieback mixture on top and refrigerated it until dessert time.

Aunt Faith, this piece is for you!

Monday, January 19, 2009

To the Newest Member of our Family

A dear little girl, Catherine Marie Hughes, has joined our family today. January 19, 2009….born on the birthday of Martin Luther King and the day before Barack Obama assumes the role of president. Catherine, what a lucky little girl you are to have been born into such a loving family, not just your immediate family of Mommy, Daddy and Erin, or your extended Hughes/Mawe family, but the American family, whose hopes today are as high for the country as your family is for your future….and in the end they are both one in the same.

Welcome Catherine!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

No Day But TODAY

It has almost been one week since one of the best evenings I have experienced in some time. I would have commented on it sooner, but I have been waiting….and waiting….for the photo taken at the theater. I guess I will add it once it comes my way.

Last Friday began about a month ago over a glass of wine. My friend and next door neighbor, Grace, mentioned that she was given 4 tickets for the touring Broadway production of RENT. Now, RENT has to be on my top 5 Broadway musicals list. I remained calm as she told me that a client had given her the tickets for work done this year. She was planning to invite her son, her sister and the other two tickets would be for her husband and herself.

Time passed…….

Last week, on Tuesday, Grace called to tell me that I might be the holder of one RENT ticket. With the holiday’s et al, I had forgotten about the show and which weekend it was. I told Grace not to tease me about something as important as an evening at RENT….she laughed. Wednesday I got the call. I would be going to one of my favorite shows. Ah glory!!!!

We gathered at Grace’s. Pat, her sister, and I had some wine while waiting for Grace and Chuck to get ready. Grace, Pat and I love to spend time together…road trips, spa trips, shopping trips….in fact we call ourselves the Ya-Ya sisters and wear special bracelets made of multi-colored healing stones as a symbol of the club.

Through a rather blustery evening, Chuck drove us to the Tremont area near the city. Very trendy restaurants, shops and pubs abound. It is a place I have always wanted to explore. The destination was The Southside. We had to sit at the bar for dinner as the place was mobbed. It had to be good eats to be so full at 5:00 on what was shaping up to be a miserable driving night in Cleveland.

Believe it or not I had the mac and cheese. It was a delicious blend of three cheeses and a pasta shape I have never seen before. The entree was topped with crispy chicken strips. Ah heaven. Behind us was an adorable performer singing his heart out and playing guitar. It was all too, too perfect.

Unfortunately, as a couple, Ted and I do not go out very much, but when I have an opportunity I always thoroughly enjoy myself. Cleveland offers so many terrific resources. I guess we have become too complacent sitting at home every weekend. Is there a New Years resolution building here????

Next stop was Playhouse Square. I think I have neglected to mention where these seats for RENT were located. Would you believe loge/box seats!!!! I have never sat in a loge seat for a theater performance. Cushy seats with a little table and waiters serving drinks and appetizers. Have I died and gone to heaven????

The show was wonderful and the frosting on the cake….the two leads….Mark (Anthony Rapp) and Roger (Adam Pascal)….were also the same men who were in the original cast on Broadway and also reprised their roles in the motion picture made a couple of years back.

It was a perfect evening all around.

Thank you Grace!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009


My UK friend and genealogy comrade always gets a chuckle over the tremendous snow falls we experience in Ohio. Oddly, I always thought that the area she comes from, Middlesbrough, which is only a hop, skip and a jump from my Grandfather Hughes' birth town--Hartlepool--both located beside the North Sea, would have the same weather as Ohio. WRONG!!!!

These towns are up in the north eastern part of England, flirting with Scotland (that "foreign" country to the north!). As with all of England, they do get soaked with rain, but they do not have the severe winters and they do not have our hot and humid summers.
I used to think that my Great Grandparents, when they immigrated in 1908 and landed in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, would have been accustomed to the snowy, cold Pittsburgh winters. Now, I have to chuckle thinking that it was probably yet another culture shock for them.

Here you go, Heather. Our first real snowfall of the winter.....

and guess of today, it is still coming down!

Monday, January 12, 2009

What is it about Decker's Creek?

Why feature a photo of Decker’s Creek on my blog? I do enjoy taking photos of water, particularly moving water, however, Decker’s Creek is not just any West Virginia creek…it is special. Decker’s begins in the mountains just outside of Preston County and winds its way down through Dellslow, Rock Forge, Sabraton and through the east side of downtown Morgantown where it finally flows into the Monongahela River.

Decker’s Creek divides Morgantown into north and south. It crosses High Street near the old Hotel Morgan where Ken and I have enjoyed several glorious short vacation stays.

The real draw here is my history. My Grandmother Hughes aka Grams, was born and grew up in Morgantown. Her ancestors (and mine) go back in this area to the late 1700’s, when pioneer settlers began making their way west. Most of ours came from various towns in Maryland, probably taking dirt paths through the mountains along the same route that Interstate 68 crosses today.

Years ago, I did my primary research on microfilm at the Cleveland Historical Society in University Circle. Days spent scrolling through census reports on microfilm and microfiche. One day I was working on the 1900 West Virginia census looking for Grams and her family. They were at the top of the page….the first one’s listed and when I scrolled up to get the date and enumeration district number for my records, lo and behold, there….listed as the enumerator was my Grandmother’s Dad, my Great Grandfather, George E. VanGilder. And, the census read “that part of the Morgan District north of Decker’s Creek”

I guess it was at that moment that Decker’s Creek began to have some meaning for me.

Last summer we stayed at a golf/spa resort at Cheat Lake, north of Morgantown, for a week. On the first day, Ted and I drove along Route 7 (locally known as the Earl Core Road) which follows Decker’s Creek out to Dellslow and into the country. Ted was looking for a driving range, but I was looking at Decker’s Creek. On the way back I pulled the car over to the side of the road to take a few Miss Snap Happy shots. It’s a good thing my camera has a decent lens since I have found that I am not as agile as I was years ago and had to take the photos from the road.

What a sense of belonging….history…..familiarity……home.

My comfort zone.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Over the river and through the woods....

To Helena’s house we go!

Back to Tiffin, Ohio. I wonder if the Heidelberg College sign will have been replaced with Heidelberg University. I shake my head even as I write this thinking of the Berg as a university…all 10 or 12 buildings of it. What ever were they thinking?

I had a plan for Tiffin this time around. Armed with my laptop and camera, I was determined to get to Greenlawn Cemetery and take photos of Ted’s side of the family tree for my genealogy work. Helena had called Aunt Betty (the Tiffin side of the family genealogy expert) and she was eager to show me around. YAHOO

Betty has had numerous physical issues of late and she was pushing her envelope to accompany me around the hills and dales of the cemetery….but she never missed a step. In fact, she had a smile as wide as the Mississippi and was anxious to get from one grave marker to the next. I wasn’t surprised….I would be the same, heck, I am. For some magical reason my arthritis seemed to disappear that afternoon and I kept up with her!

This cemetery has some impressive tombstones in it. Tiffin must have been, back in the day, the center of some pretty heavy industry to warrant such grandeur after death. I spend a lot of time in cemeteries and I would have to rank Greenlawn in Tiffin, Ohio as one of the better collections I have seen….considering the size of the town.

With my fingers literally freezing on the camera buttons, we spent over an hour walking and me snapping. The plan next time is to come on a warmer day.

Thank you Aunt Betty!


Saturday, January 3, 2009

Following my bliss

Years back my Dad talked about "following one's bliss." Frankly, I'm not sure Dad followed a bliss, at least not until his retirement. I try to follow mine, but of late many daily duties seem to be encroaching upon my bliss time. My glorious gardens have become overgrown and a substantial section of pachysandra simply up and died....lack of watering...shame-shame! I try to squeeze my pursuit of genealogy in during the evening hours with Gregory House or Law and Order playing in the background. I do make time for photography, which has become a new bliss and my services have actually been asked for of late. With this the beginning of a new year and a new blog, perhaps I will resolve to make more bliss time in my daily schedule...make a little more time for myself.....selfish....I THINK NOT!!!!