Silver and gold... on ev'ry Christmas Tree

*Warning: Heavy Load Ahead*

It's not often we get company out here in the SC backwoods, and no one outside the family ever gets to see our Christmas decorations. And since I don't have any heirloom ornaments, or homespun stories to tell, I thought I would take this opportunity to "show off" some of our first generation pieces.

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories
December 2 - Christmas Tree Ornaments

In my previous post I mentioned the pewter ornaments we have received from Aunt Elsie every year since 1994, and I'd first like to show you those.

Click to enlarge.

Next up are our "First Christmas" ornaments. The horse pulling the couple in the sleigh was given to us by my cousin Nancy as a wedding present. The teddy bear on the bottom left is the ornament that marks our daughter Lyndy's first Christmas in 1982, and the one on the bottom right marks our son Caleb's.

Click to enlarge.

Here is the ornament Caleb made at school last year. Ain't it cool?

And these next two were gifts from our granddaughter Taylor (aka Tator).

The ice skating, red nose reindeer was sent from the UK by my bff Shelagh.

And last but not least are the homemade snowmen I received when I participated in a blogger ornament exchange...oh gosh, was it 4 years ago? I don't know, maybe it was 3 or 5...Anyway... I included them because I want to plant an idea seed--It was a lot of fun exchanging ornaments with a fellow blogger, whichever year that was, and I think it would be equally so if we genea-bloggers could arrange to do something similar next year.

Leave a note in the comments if you're interested.

Now for a little treat...Enjoy!

People, I have fallen behind and I can't catch up!

The Christmas holiday is upon us, and I still have a bucket of Halloween candy sitting on my china cabinet. So, in an attempt to bring my inner elf out and up to date, I danced around the house to some holiday tunes today. Not one of which was O Tannenbaum (aka O Christmas Tree), I might add, and yet that is the one song I can't get out of my head. Thank you Thomas and Jasia!*

Oh, and by the way, we can all blamethank Janice for that excruciatingly lovely image of my elfin self, and the veritable treat that awaits those of you who dare to click the embedded link promises to knock all the sugar plums right out of your head, or your money back, guaranteed.

Now where was I...That's right...O Tannenbuam, O Tannenbaum...

Christmas 1967
The photo above was taken at my Aunt Elsie's house in 1967. I assume that's the year we lived with her because that's my tricycle and toy doggie under the tree, but I was only two that year so I'm hardly a good witness. I do recognize the sofa however, and believe it or not, she still has the exact same one in her present home. It's been reupholstered since then of course.

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories
December 1 - The Christmas Tree

When I was a kid, the holidays around our house were a haphazard affair. My mom worked three jobs during my early years, and the equivalent of three even after she went into business for herself. Back then, she was also something of a non traditionalist, and I don't recall any two trees ever looking the same.

One year I came home from somewhere to find an artificial tree with nothing but gold hanging from its limbs, and the next we had the real deal, all done up in bright, cherry reds, and she let me help add some of the silver tinsel.

A few years after I married, Mom gave me a beautiful tree for my birthday (pictured above), and it became a tradition to put our tree up every December 8th thereafter. We've replaced the tree a time or two since, but unlike my mom, we hang most of the same ornaments from one year to the next, and the kids always help, whether they want to or not (seems only fair, if you ask me, since they made a lot of 'em). And every year we add at least one new piece.

It comes from my Aunt Elsie whose Christmas gift to us each year includes Avon's annual pewter ornament. Aunt Elsie is in many ways the polar opposite of Mom, and her traditional nature inadvertently starts traditions in the lives of other people. Particularly this one, which has matured into a lovely collection that I believe will be cherished and enjoyed by many future generations.

That is, unless they take after Mom. :-)

O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree

O Christmas Tree O, Christmas Tree,
Your branches green delight us.
O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree,
Your branches green delight us.
They're green when summer days are bright;
They're green when winter snow is white.
O, Christmas Tree, O, Christmas Tree,
Your branches green delight us!

O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree,
You give us so much pleasure!
O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree,
You give us so much pleasure!
How oft at Christmas tide the sight,
O green fir tree, gives us delight!
O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree,
You give us so much pleasure!

O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree,
Your branches green delight us.
O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree,
Your branches green delight us.
They're green when summer days are bright;
They're green when winter snow is white.
O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree,
Your branches green delight us!

*Sorry I didn't get this done in time to submit it!

The "161" meme

Of course you would catch me reading nothing as titillating as Jasia or as instructional as Miriam, but I've been tagged not once but twice to share the 6th sentence on page 161 of the book I'm currently reading which is The Most Fearful Ordeal: Original Coverage of the Civil War by Writers and Reporters of The New York Times, and the 6th sentence from page 161 is...


"The battery of Capt. De Hart also replied vigorously."

And now it's my turn to tag 5 3* geneabloggers...Hmm...

Colleen of The Oracle of OMcHodoy because she has escaped until now.
Dave of OakvilleBlackWalnut because I always tag Dave. ;-)
Mary Beth of What's Your Line because I like picking on the new blogger.

Now we get to see who's paying attention. ;-)

I can't find more than 3 that haven't been tagged already. :-)

You knew this when you were five

Remember when you were a kid and your mom would nudge you, or your dad would thump you, whenever you forgot to mind your manners? Well, consider this a slap because some of us have forgotten what our parents taught us.

A lot of hard work, long hours and money goes into the compilation of a family history, and yet there are literally thousands of genealogists who gladly share everything they know with you, with me, with everyone. Think about it. A huge undertaking, an even bigger investment, and they give it away for free.

These people are the backbone of places like WorldConnect, FamilyLink, WeRelate, Ancestry Trees, and I think too many of us prefer to emphasize the inaccuracies we've uncovered there rather than the generous spirit. So, next time you come across information in a family tree database that helps in your quest to find your ancestors, say thank you to the person who was kind enough and brave enough to submit it there. He, or she, didn't have to do it.

Instead, he could have squirreled it away like a lot of other genealogists do, which leads me to my next point. Return the favor by sharing with others. Few will thank you (see above) but think of it like this, it took more than one pair of hands to get you this far, and you probably owe more than you're owed.

I've talked before about the challenges I face with my grandfather's branch of the family, but I've had an opposite experience with my grandmother's, and all because the cousins on that side are more willing to share with each other. If one of us discovers something new, emails are sent to the group, and inevitably someone will get bitten by the "can't stop" bug and run with it. Next thing you know, all of our databases are another generation richer. In fact, we've got a recently bitten cousin running around now--he jumped tracks a week ago, and now he's gathering information on lines that he's not even related to!

OK, he's not the first genealogist I've seen climbing out on an unrelated limb, but people like him aren't a dime a dozen either, and you'll see less like him if so many of us keep forgetting that it's our turn to repay the favor.

Calling all historical photo enthusiasts

It was the dress that first caught my eye. I had just finished scanning the portrait of the unknown pair and was starting the laborious job of scanning the photograph of Leonard, Sally, Mattie and Grace (laborious because the image is captured on paper so thin, it moves around every time I lower the scanner door), when I noticed two of the dresses were very similar. Thinking this was little more than a clue to time period, it was a another full day before the thought that could possibly solve this mystery came to me. Is the unidentified boy and girl actually my grandma Mattie and an older brother?

Mattie and her family

Mattie Helen CRADDOCK was born 19 June 1903, the 1st or 2nd child of James William Christopher Columbus CRADDOCK and Pandora "Dora" Texas NUNN. Columbus and Dora married on 1 April 1900, and had 5 children in addition to Mattie: Leonard, b. 24 October 1906; Sally, b. 11 December 1910; Grace, b. 3 May 1913; James, b. 18 November 1917; and a child of unknown gender that was born after 1900 and died before the 1910 census enumeration.[1]

Mystery boy and girl

The first thing I noticed about the image of the boy and girl is that it's a real photo postcard. A real photo postcard is a photograph that has been developed "onto photographic paper the size and weight of postcards, with a postcard back," and the design of the corner stamp box tells us this particular paper was manufactured by NOKO beginning in 1907 to sometime in the 1920s.[2] Nevertheless, upon further inspection, I was able to determine this is not the original -- although it's not obvious in the digital scan, when the original photo was duplicated onto the postcard paper, the resulting copy fell 1/8 inch short of filling the paper on both sides, thereby exposing the edges of the original. Of course, a duplicate could have been made at the same time as the original or years later.

I noticed next how young and adorable the children are. The little girl looks about 3 years old, the little boy about 4 or 5, and both are impeccably dressed. I haven't been able to find out much about boys' clothing, but the girl's dress and hairstyle appear to be from the Edwardian era (1901-1910).[3]

But, what I didn't notice until recently was the family resemblance.

Sibling comparisons

Mattie's baby picture (c. 1904) was discovered in Mattie's bible and identified by her daughter Elsie. Assuming this is so, it shows Mattie with much lighter hair than later photos indicate, and it also shows that she and the unknown girl share similar facial features (e.g., shape of face, eyes and lips).

The photo of Leonard, Sally, Mattie and Grace was taken in about 1914. Mattie would have been about 11, Leonard about 7, Sally about 3 and Grace about 1. In the photo, Sally is wearing a dress quite like the one worn by the unknown girl; she and the girl are about the same age too. In a family with a tradition of hand-me-downs, is it possible the girls are wearing the same dress?

Now look at the two boys. Leonard's features are more mature, and his hair and complexion are slightly darker than unknown boy's, but look closely around the eyes and nose. Is it wishful thinking to believe these two boys could be brothers? I don't think so, but I'd like to know what you think.

Could the unknown pair be my grandma Mattie and her big brother? Is there any reason why it couldn't be them? Please share your opinions, gut-feelings, and/or educated guesses in the comments or on your blog. Thank you!

Edited to add Craddock Boys collage, 06 Nov 2007.


[1] 1910 U.S. census, Patrick County, Virginia, population schedule, Dan River, p. 15b, dwelling 258, family 258, digital image, ( : accessed 1 November 2007); citing NARA microfilm T624, roll 1640. The only evidence we have that a 6th child probably existed is the 1910 census in which the number of children reported born to Dora Craddock is 3, and the number of children reported still living is 2.

[2] Ron Playle, "How to Identify Real Photo Postcards," Playle's Auction Mall.

[3] "Online Collections: The Children's Clothing Collection," Wisconsin Historical Society, "Off-white cotton girl's dress, dropped waist with pin tucked bodice, c. 1905."

Taming the WorldCat

When WorldCat first launched, I remember thinking it would be even better if users could save search results for future reference, and now we can.

Make a list or two (or 20!) @

I started two bibliography lists today, and found the new features intuitive and easy to work with, but to take full advantage, read over the help page.

Happy Halloween, Everyone!

I also want to take this opportunity to thank Apple, Becky, Chris, Craig, Denise, Jasia, Maven, Miriam, Randy and Steve for such a warm welcome back.

Thank you all! You are the greatest! And now, let's go trick or treating!

Getting the dish in a little known source

Two months ago, I was hired to make photocopies of The Stroller's Cook Book, a supplement our local newspaper The Spartanburg Herald-Journal (originally, The Spartanburg Herald) has published annually since July 1958.

I hadn't seen one of these cook books in years, and didn't know before taking the assignment what a family history gold mine they can be. Years 1958 to 1985 later, I can attest to it.

To give you an example, a story on page 2 of the 1958 edition, "Cooking For Big Family Easy," explains in some detail how Mrs. Kirk NEELY, a former home economics major at Winthrop, manages to feed a family of 10 every day. Even better, the half-page article is accompanied by a photograph of Mrs. Neely frosting a cake as 7 of her 8 children watch from the sidelines: Beth, 12, Mamie Louise, 4, Lawton, 9, Kirk Jr., 14, Bob, 8, Jeslyn, 6 and Bill, 10 (Baby Katherine is not shown).

And here's a humorous little piece from page 18 of the same edition.

Methods Of Housewives Mystify Kin Of Spartan

Dr. Ralph LEWIS, father of Mrs. H. B. BAGWELL, Jr. of West View, probably wonders about the ways of women when it comes to practicing the culinary arts.

Dr. Lewis, who is a medical missionary in Thailand, found himself in the position one day of having to go to the store to buy a chicken for Mrs. Lewis to roast.

Not familiar with such things as buying groceries, Dr. Lewis was stumped when he was asked by the butcher if he wanted the chicken whole or cut up. Thinking it would be easier to prepare when it is already cut up, Dr. Lewis decided to take the cut up chicken.

When he returned home, Mrs. Lewis threw up her hands in dismay and explained to her husband that you just don't roast a cut up chicken.

"Well that's easy to remedy," a somewhat upset Dr. Lewis asserted, "I'll just sew it together." The medical missionary proceeded to do just that.

Mrs. Lewis baked the children but what probably puzzles Dr. Lewis about the ways of a woman is that after it was finished, Mrs. Lewis put it on a platter and then told him, "Now cut it up."

Shaking his head in puzzlement, the good doctor nevertheless cut up the parts of the chicken he had so laboriously sewn together.
The Stroller's Cook Book has become a tradition people here look forward to each year, but I don't know how much popularity, if any, newspaper inserts like the Stroller have enjoyed in other cities and towns. So, you might find it's something worth looking into, and then again, you might not.

Image and article used by permission of The Spartanburg Herald-Journal.

Was Grandma stepping out, or what?

Morning, Aunt Elsie. How you doing today? Good, I'm glad to hear it. You got a minute? OK, well, the DNA results are in. I know, it did seem like it was gonna take forever. Uhm...well...the news ain't great. Yep, you guessed it--no matches to anyone in the TURNER surname group. Yeah, I was disappointed too. But listen, we do have some matches...uhm...outside the TURNER group.

Murphy's Law Applied

From the beginning, the TURNER branch has represented a challenge for us. Missing marriage records, no recorded wills, contradictory data stemming from the records that do exist...In other words, name the problem, and we've probably encountered it. That's why we enlisted the help of my uncle H. To make a long story short, however, let's just say, whatever can go wrong will go wrong, and H. TURNER is now a member of the MILLS surname group.

Naturally, the first thing I did was contact the representatives of Uncle H's exact matches, but they can't explain it any better than we can. So, instead of the answers we were hoping for, we're left with yet another question.

Nothing But the Truth

Uncle H is the 5th of 6 children born to John Crisenbery TURNER (1895-1958) and his second wife Mattie Helen CRADDOCK (1903-1966).

John is the 2nd of 3 children born to William Lee TURNER (1840-1896) and his (much younger) second wife Genarie T. CHANDLER (1873-1930).

William is the 1st of 5 children born to Eli TURNER (~1819-1902) and his (by all but one account, older) first wife Mary WILLIAMS (~1815-1878). In my inexpert opinion, and based on reasons I won't go into right now, William's birth presents what I consider the first real opportunity for a non-paternity event.

Eli is probably the son of John TURNER (~1789-?). Aside from circumstantial evidence that favors John, there's nothing to say Eli couldn't be the son of a MILLS. Let's face it, I wasn't trying to build that case, and even though I try to keep an open mind in these matters, I could've missed something.

And John is our true mystery man. We don't know who his parents were or what part of North Carolina he was born in, and if he has a connection to any other TURNER, thus far, it has gone undetected. My bet is on him.

Where To From Here

Now that I've recovered from the initial shock, my next step is to thoroughly examine the information our newly discovered cousins have been kind enough to share. Although at first glance, our two families appear to have nothing in common, not even a location, further study could find the answer lurking in there somewhere. And after that...well...I simply don't know.

Second mouse gets the cheese

While gathering links for the previous entry, I noticed Elizabeth Shown Mills' Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace (hardcover) is now available at for considerably less ($38.81 as of today) than this early bird paid. The book also qualifies for free Super Saving Shipping.

A lot of things different

Who of us has no regrets, nothing we would change if given half a chance?

Genealogically speaking, there's a lot of things I'd do different.

I'd start when I was younger. My biggest regret is that I never had the chance to talk to my grandma's brother. He died in 1994, and I never even met him.

I'd buy a book on day one, a genealogy how-to book like George Morgan's How to Do Everything with Your Genealogy, and I'd read it.

I'd commit to one piece of genealogy software--Legacy, Rootsmagic, etc. They're not all the same, granted, but they're not all that different either.

I'd document everything, from the size of Grandpa's shoe to the source that it came from, and I'd do it right the first time, every time.

I'd buy a bigger hard drive, and save myself some floor space.

"Yes, I'd do a lot of things different." I think we all would.

The title, A Lot of Things Different, and the next to last line comes from an old Bill Anderson song, reintroduced to the public in 2002 by Kenny Chesney.
She's a bit skittish, that one. She's as apt to bolt and run as she is to write.

Yet another genealogy blog... Will this one last, you ask. In the immortal words of the late Aldous Huxley, "Consistency is contrary to nature, contrary to life. The only completely consistent people are the dead." A comforting thought, yes?