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"The ancestor of every action is a thought." Ralph Waldo Emerson

Entries in history (46)


Daughters of the American Revolution Take 2: Saratoga

A few years ago I blogged that I was joining the Daughters of the American Revolution. For whatever reason it just didn't happen in Brooklyn. Now that we're living in Saratoga County- it's happening! Today I met with the chapter registrar and she was delightful. With my worksheet almost fully filled out, I just need to work on getting full documentation on my parents and my paternal grandparents (birth, marriage, death certificates).  I need to do this! I want to check this off my list and finally become a member of this prestigious group. For myself and my girls! My daughters are more fuel to the fire.

My American Patriot is Lieut. Samuel Merrill of MA. He settled in what is now Maine, specifically Salmon Falls, Saco, York Co Maine. More to be shared on him and his property.

Feeling very excited and motivated!


Sweet Genevieve

It's been way too long since I've checked/updated my blog, a lot has happened in the past 8 months! I now have two sweet daughters- Georgiana Marie and Genevieve Louise. Identical twin girls born in late July 2012. (lots of pictures and stories to come, just trying to catch up here!)

My Genevieve Louise was named after her father's paternal grandmother, known as "Maw". I was just checking comments from past posts and a comment on my post about Maw Burchett (the original Genevieve Louise Burchett) left me speechless. My brother-in-law, Joe, had transcribed a beautiful letter Maw had written to him.

Genevieve Louise Woodard Burchett (age 101) with her great granddaughters Georgiana Marie and Genevieve Louise (6 weeks old). September 2013, St. Albans, WV. Maw passed away just 5 days after this picture was taken. We are so blessed to have had this visit. 

Maw's letter to her grandson Joe:

March 29, 2001

Dear Joseph,

I am your paternal grandmother Genevieve Louise Burchett, nee Woodard born August 19, 1911 in Huntington, WV.

I never knew any of my grandparents as they all died when I was very young or before I was born.

My mother’s name was Lula Maud Richardson. She had a sister, Susan and a brother Samuel. They were left orphans at an early age and were separated for life. My mother was raised by an aunt, Emma, and uncle, Will Davis - but they never adopted her. They lived in Guyandotte, WV and were the only “grandparents” I ever knew. Many of my summers were spent there. They had a cow and chickens and an outdoor toilet. I thought that was fun – especially when grandpa would take us for a ride in his Buick touring car. It had high seats and a top that was convertible. Grandma fussed at him for driving too fast – which was probably 15 or 25 miles per hour – if that fast!

My father, James Calvin Woodard, was the oldest son of John William and Laura Jane Messersmith Woodard. His siblings were Carl, Benton, Floyd, Clay, Stella and Nina. I loved my aunts and uncles and spent many hours visiting them – especially Uncle Sam and Carl and Aunt Nina. When my grandmother Woodard died, my dad left home. He took a variety of jobs, ending up as a Freight Conductor on the C&O Railroad out of Huntington, WV. He met my mother when he was eating at a boarding house in Guyandotte – run by Mrs. Emma Davis. He fell in love with her and when he could he attended the Methodist Church where she sang in the choir. Mrs. Davis was against his courtship – so while she and her husband were on vacation they eloped to Wayne, WV and were married by the Justice of Peace.

They lived in Huntington and there my oldest brother William Waldorf and I were born. When I was two we moved to St. Albans, WV and lived in a little house on Railroad Ave. as it was called then because the trains ran along it. Every time a train ran past we would race outside to wave to the conductor and engineer. Sometimes dad would be on that particular train and he would always be on the caboose to wave to us and we loved that.

I remember when the troop trains carrying world war one soldiers would come there – they always waved to us and would throw “hard tack” crackers which we would race to pick up. They were hard as rocks but we thought they were a treat.

One evening we all walked up to the depot (about 1-1/2 blocks) – President Wilson was on the end car of a train and he came out and waved to everyone. He had a nice smile.

I loved living there in that little house. It’s still there and when I had my car I would drive by it – remembering how it used to be. It had a big barn and a smoke house used for smoking hams. We played in the barn – dad made us a rope swing in the doorway. I remember swinging and singing at the top of my voice. That’s what I was doing the day my brother was throwing rocks. One hit me on the forehead and I still have the scar.

By now I had another sister, Laura Elizabeth and two brothers – James Arthur and Lewis Webster. Our little house was getting crowded.

When I was six I started school at the old Central School Building on 6th Avenue. I had to walk across a scary (to me) trestle bridge as that was the shortest route. My older brother was supposed to stay with me but he never did after the first few days.

The first thing that happened I got head lice. Because my hair was long and red like his mother’s my dad wouldn’t let it be cut. My mother worked and I would cry – getting rid of those pests was quite a battle. The other memorable thing that happened I had to stand in the corner for whispering to someone. That was very humiliating.

I was twelve before I got my first haircut. I had to plead and cry before my dad would consent. He took me to his own barber and when all that long red hair was laying on the floor all he said was, “I hope you’re satisfied.”

My dad was a very handsome man with black wavy hair. He was very strict with me and my older brothers but by the time there was nine of us he lightened up a lot. He always wanted a car but I heard him tell a neighbor that there was no way he’d fight with all of us over car keys!

My mother was about 5’-6” with long straight dark hair that came below her waist. She never cut it in deference to Dad. She worked so hard doing for all of us and looking back I can see how little we helped her. She was much more lenient with us than Dad. When he was gone we could play ping pong on the dining room table, play “Puss in the Corner” in the house and about every other game we wanted to play. I guess she realized that growing children needed to let off steam. When Dad was home all was quiet. I was not allowed to read “paperback trash” – so I would hide my current novel in my big geography school book and pretend to be studying. Sneaky, huh?

When I was 7 or 8 we moved into our new house at 511 6th Ave. It seemed very spacious to us – Mom and Dad went up first – then Waldorf, Arthur, Laura and I – we pushed baby Webster in his stroller.

We had gas lights which meant no jumping in the house lest we shatter net mantles that sheltered the flame.

I remember when the Armistice was signed and World War I was over. The churches and school bells began to ring and whistles blew. I was frightened and ran inside – I found my mother down on her knees and crying. My dad had two brothers overseas and in the war but they were not hurt. I gave your dad the empty brass shell casing that Uncle Ben brought back from France.

I remember when I was 9 or 10 I was late getting home from school as I had loitered to talk and giggle with one of my friends. I thought I was in for it but when I got there I found everyone in a state of great excitement. Our house was flooded with electric light. It seemed so bright to us. Now we could have a refrigerator instead of the old wooden ice box on the back porch. The pan under it had to be emptied periodically or the floor would be flooded. Still, we missed Mr. Burdette and his ice wagon. We would run after it hoping for a chunk of ice. Dad also bought an electric washing machine. We had been using one that ran on manpower - that is by turning the cylinder with a piece of a broom handle. We kids had to take turns doing this. My brother and Dad’s younger brother Clay would do the timing and I’m sure I came out the loser. Uncle Clay lived with us after his father died. I don’t remember how long he stayed but I do remember he got small pox and we were all lined up buy old Dr. Thompkins and vaccinated. Uncle Clay was isolated in the attic and his sister Aunt Nina came and took care of him. We carried their meals to the foot of the attic stairs and Aunt Nina would be wearing a long coat and hood and that would scare us. It must have been a big added hardship on Mom but I never heard her complain. I wish you could have known my mother, Joe. Looking back I realize what a truly remarkable woman she was with nine children, a husband who was more than likely to be called to work in the middle of the night – which meant getting out of bed, baking biscuits, frying eggs and apples (which was the only thing acceptable to my father), packing his lunch bucket and falling back in bed for 2 or 3 hours. Then up to work without ceasing until our bedtime.

She had such a pretty singing voice and she taught us all “Now I lay me”. When she had a little time to read, it was her bible. I wish I had helped her more and told her I loved her. When I was twelve years old there was a Revival held in a big canvas tent in the field next to our house. Then was the time I gave my heart to Jesus and was baptized by sprinkling – I didn’t always remember my vows but now I realize that my mother with her prayers kept us all in line – not a stray in the bunch.

Dad died in 1957 in November of pancreatic cancer. Mom died in May of 1968 of congestive heart failure. They are buried in a Hurricane, WV cemetery along with Dad’s parents and brothers.

Dad couldn’t afford to give anyone music lessons but we always had access to music. We even had an Edison that played round wax cylinders. It had a big black metal horn for an amplifier with roses painted on the inside. After it was relegated to the attic we kids used the horn to yell out the windows at passersby til we were ordered to stop. Then we got the Silvertone Victrola and we loved that – although we had a record “Sweet Genevieve” that my brothers would play just to aggravate me. Then came the radio and on to T.V.

listen to "Sweet Genevieve"

We had a lot of fun in our pre-teen years. We played softball and in the long summer evenings there was “hide and seek”, “King of the Hill,” and several others. The girls jumped rope, played with Jacks, cut out paper dolls, and marbles were big – needless to say we didn’t have much grass in our back yard. I don’t believe kids have a childhood today. They are constantly going to structured activities or in the house watching T.V.

When fall came Dad always bought a barrel of red apples which he put in the basement. It was my pleasure to come home from school, get me an apple, sit by the fire grate (Gas) and read. Every Saturday we kids had to go thru that barrel of apples and pick out the ones starting to go bad so mom could cook them. We didn’t enjoy that very much.

When May 12th came, no earlier or later we could take our “long Johns” off and go barefooted and boy did that feel good!

When our aunts came to visit in the summertime and would bring our cousins that was fun. Mom would make us pallets of blankets and quilts downstairs for us to sleep on. We would tell stories and jokes and rough house until loud hushes were heard from upstairs.

Then in the Fall it was apple butter making time. We would take turns on the apple peelers but were not allowed to stir the apples in the big copper kettle. It stood over a fire outside. I’m sure it was not much fun for the grown-ups. Dad always tossed in a silver fifty cent piece to keep it from sticking and whoever got it when apple butter was served was allowed to keep it. Riches indeed!

I graduated from High School and Berea College School of Nursing. I went to Peabody Teachers College in Nashville, TN, but when the money ran out I left school to take a job in Prestonsburg, KY. I had planned to go back to school but I met your grandfather in May and we were married in November 1938.

We raised and educated (with their help) four children – your Aunts Sue, Linda and Janice and your father Robert Calvin. They all married and then the grandchildren began to come. You, my dear Joseph, were the last one that your grandfather knew. He was so thankful for a grandson to carry on his name. He died Oct. 29, 1974 of a heart attack...




Only 2 more days!

Are you ready for the 1940 census?! The details of the 16th United States Census will be revealed for the first time Monday April 2, 2012! Thats just 2 days away!

This great video is from the National Archives. To learn a little more about the 1940 census, read my previous post!


Get Ready for the 1940 Census Release! 

Picture from the US Census BureauI am so excited, in just 5 days the 1940 census will be released to the public!! For genealogists and others interested in researching their family tree this is a huge deal. Mark your calendars! On April 2, 2012, after the mandated 72 year wait, detail collected by the 16th United States Census will be available to the public.

Over the past 72 years America has really changed. The US Census Bureau has created an infographic displaying some very interesting comparisons of America 1940 vs. 2010. From population size, education, top industries, to details about housing- it was a different world! For example, in 1940 78.9% of rural/farm households had an outdoor toilet, only 17.7% had running water, and only 31.3% had electricity! Click here to take a look, I found it very interesting! This time period was a turning point in American history, just getting through the Great Depression and right before WWII.

You might be wondering what information can be found in the 1940 census. The standard census information was taken: address, name, gender, age, education, place of birth, and occupation. A new feature to this census was an indication (circled X after the name) of who in the family was giving the census information. Another interesting new feature is the additional questions for individuals on lines 14 and 29. If your ancestor just happened to be the person occupying one of these 2 lines of the census page, they were required to give more detailed information. Such as: birthplace of father and mother, language spoken at home early in childhood, if a woman- has she been married more than once? If so, age at first marriage. You will find this information at the bottom of the census page. I'm really hoping I find an person on one of these lines! There are 40 lines (or people) to a page, and as it turns out about 5% of the population were required to answer these additional questions. To download a blank 1940 Census Form and see the questions and format for yourself, click here.

How can you get your hands on the 1940 census? A few ways, for free! will be offering the 1940 census for FREE through the end of 2013. You will be able to search through the 1940 census AND view the original images. On you can always search for free, but unless you are a subscriber, you normally can't see the original document (where most of the details are located). is another site you will be able to search for free. Both of these sites indicate that they are working to release the databases with a name index, meaning you can search through the records with a persons name to locate them.

The National Archives will also have the census available on April 2, 2012 at 9am, but here they will not have a name index. Instead, you will search by enumeration district. To know the enumeration district, you will have to know the individuals address. To learn how to search this way and how to compile this information before April 2nd, please visit the National Archives "Start Your 1940 Research" page. You might wonder why you would go through all the trouble of using this method for searching when will have a name index. Sometimes names are misspelled, either by the census taker or the person transcribing a document. So if you have trouble locating a person by name, go ahead and try using their address to find them!

After writing this and learning all this great information, I'm even more excited! I'm going to start getting myself ready for the release by making a list of everyone I"ll be looking for on April 2. If you have any questions, tips, or resources you'd like to share, PLEASE contact me or leave a comment!