My daughter hasn’t been a baby for a long time, as she is so fond of reminding me. But… as my mom used to tell me, and as I now tell my own daughter, “You will always be my baby, no matter how big you get.” Moms, you know what I mean. It’s like that Elizabeth Stone quote, “Making the decision to have a child – it is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.”
Well, my heart went to 4th grade this week. And I’m pretty sure it was harder for me than it was for my daughter.
So I decided to share a post that I wrote back in 2011 when my only descendant went to her first day of Kindergarten. I hope you enjoy it. 🙂
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My daughter starts Kindergarten tomorrow. As you might imagine, our household is all abuzz with excitement: new backpack, new lunch box, new clothes, pencils, erasers, crayons, glue sticks. Everything is in readiness for The First Day of School.
This mom has mixed feelings. On the one hand, I’ll get a few hours to myself each week. My daughter has been with me pretty much 24/7 since she was born. I’ve loved being with her, but sometimes I’d really like to use the bathroom without having company.
On the other hand, this marks the moment that my baby is no longer my baby.
That’s hard to swallow.
Over the past few weeks, I couldn’t help remembering my own time in Kindergarten, thinking about how my daughter’s experience will be so different from mine.
And as I thought about the whole Kindergarten experience, I began to realize just how basic and important the lessons learned during that time are, and how they can apply to almost anything in life.
ALL I REALLY NEED TO KNOW ABOUT GENEALOGY I LEARNED IN KINDERGARTEN
Share everything. Genealogy only works when you share. Keeping it to yourself won’t help you.
Play fair. Don’t take things from other people without giving credit where credit is due.
Don’t hit people. Even if they’re hogging the copier at the library.
Put things back where you found them. Unless there’s a sign telling you to put them somewhere else.
Clean up your own mess. Those boxes and piles aren’t going to organize themselves.
Don’t take things that aren’t yours. That tree you found on Ancestry.com, the Find A Grave memorial that’s already been posted, a Geni.com public profile… Ask first. Most people will say yes if you ask nicely.
Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody. If you swiped that photo off Find A Grave and posted it without asking or giving attribution, it’s never too late to apologize. Unless you’ve already been reported for copyright infringement.
Wash your hands before you eat. And before you handle very old documents or artifacts. Actually, it’s not a bad idea to wash them afterwards, too.
Flush. If you don’t need it, get rid of it. Or scan it so it takes up less room.
Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you. A cookie break is always a good idea. Period.
Live a balanced life – learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some. All genealogy all the time might be fun, but it makes Jill a dull girl. Do something different once in a while to refresh yourself and clear your head.
Take a nap every afternoon. Especially if you stayed up all night looking for ancestors.
When you go out in the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands and stick together. Go to genealogy conferences, society meetings… get out in the world and meet other genealogists. They really are nice people, and they like to help. And have fun.
Be aware of wonder. Remember the little seed in the Styrofoam cup: the roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that. Never forget the wave of emotion that came over you when you stood at the door of your great-great-grandparents ancestral home. Or the excitement of finally finding your grandfather’s grave after 20 years of searching. Or the thrill of meeting a new cousin… who happens to own the family Bible. These are the wondrous moments that fuel and feed us.
Goldfish and hamsters and white mice and even the little seed in the Styrofoam cup – they all die. So do we. To put it bluntly, genealogy is the finding of dead people. We all know that. But don’t forget that YOU will be named on a death certificate too, one day. Live a wonderful life worthy of remembering. And back up your data in a format that can be passed on to future generations.
And then remember the Dick-and-Jane books and the first word you learned – the biggest word of all – LOOK. LOOK EVERYWHERE. Not everything is on the internet. Look in libraries. Look in Family History Centers. Look in county courthouses. Look in cemeteries. And look at what you’ve already got multiple times. As your knowledge and awareness change, your interpretation will also change. You can see the same things with new eyes and maybe find answers that were right in front of you the whole time.
Everything you need to know is in there somewhere. The Golden Rule and love and basic sanitation. Ecology and politics and equality and sane living.
And it is still true, no matter how old you are, when you go out in the world, it is best to hold hands and stick together.
Fulghum, Robert. All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten. New York: The Random House Publishing Group, 1986. The words in bold are his; the others are mine.
Virtually heading down the Information Superhighway
For my virtual research trip, I decided to head out in search of my 3x’s great-grandfather, Isaac Kizer (or Keizer, Kysar, Kyser, Kyzer, Keiser, or Keyser, as I was to learn). Isaac’s branch had been dangling on my family tree for over 25 years. In fact, I can’t remember ever doing any research on him.
Sorry, GGG-Grandpa Isaac. [Hangs head in shame.]
I actually knew very little about Isaac to start with. My Aunt had left notes that he was born c. 1800 in Virgina, and married a woman named Mary. Together they had at least 9 children, including my gg-grandmother, Susannah. To my knowledge, all 9 children were born in Tennessee. Not much to go on, but thankfully he had that unusual name thing going for him… or so I thought.
So off I went, cruising down the Information Superhighway.
My first stop was at Ancestry.com. I put Isaac Kizer’s name – and what little I knew about him – in the search boxes, and I was directed to exit at the 1850 U.S. census. There, in Washington County, Tennessee, was 50 year-old Isaac Kizer living with Mary, and 8 of the 9 presumed children, including Susannah. Isaac was indeed born in Virginia, was working as a carpenter, owned $1,000 worth of real estate, and apparently could read and write. Mary and all the presumed children were born in Tennessee. I did not see any other Kizers in the immediate vicinity; however, there was a James Keys a few doors down who might bear further investigation.
Prior to this trip, I had known absolutely nothing about Isaac’s wife Mary. I could now glean from the 1850 census that she was born in approximately 1806 in Tennessee. So I decided to take a detour, and headed over to Ancestry.com’s Tennessee State Marriages, 1780-2002. There I found an entry for Isaac Keizer and Mary Bradly, married 30 April 1825. Oddly, there were two entries for this couple: the first entry seemed to be signed by a witness, and the second entry by the Justice of the Peace. Strange, but apparently this particular clerk found the double-entry method to be the most efficient because he did it for quite a few other couples on the page. Anyway, the date of marriage seemed appropriate, and the name Isaac Keizer wasn’t exactly common in the area, so I was convinced that this was my guy. Oh, and now I (hopefully) had a maiden name for Mary… Bradly. And the witness was named Jonathan Bradley. Father? Brother? Hmmmm.
Kizer-Bradly Marriage Records
My next stop after the detour was the 1860 U.S. census. I found the family still living in Washington County, Tennessee: 60 year-old Isaac was living with 51 year-old Mary and 5 children, including a 9 year-old Virginia, who I did not previously have in my database (she’ll be important later). Susannah was no longer in the household, which made sense because she married Albert T. Swanay in 1855. This time, Isaac was listed as a farmer, owning $3,300 worth of real estate and $770 in personal property. Again, no Kizers nearby, but a few doors down was another Keys family. Interesting.
The Keizer Family in 1860, Washington County, Tennessee
I did not find Isaac in the 1870 U.S. census, so I suspected that he may have died before then. I did find 62 year-old Mary J. Kizer living alone, owning $2,000 worth of real estate and $350 worth of personal property. She was listed as “keeping house,” but with that much land, she would certainly need help taking care of it.
When I find a widow living alone, I always check the neighboring households to see if one of her children is living nearby. Right next door was a John Sellars, living with an 18 year-old Virginia. John was a farmer, but did not seem to own any land. Could this be the mysterious Virginia who showed up in the 1860 census?
I checked the Tennessee State Marriages, 1780-2002 database and found an 1868 marriage for Louisa V. Keizer and John W. Sellers. Could Louisa’s middle name have been Virginia? Made sense; Virginia would have been 17 years old in 1868, so she certainly could be the same 18 year-old Virginia living with John Sellars in 1870, next door to the widow Mary. At least, I was convinced.
So… that would mean Isaac must have died some time between 1860 and 1 June 1870.
Nothing turned up on Ancestry.com, so I hit the road again and headed for one of my fave places: the Tennessee GenWeb. I suspected that Isaac would have died in Washington County, where he had been living for at least 35 years (that I knew of), so I exited at the Washington County, Tennessee, GenWeb site. I had been there many times before, but had never taken the time to look for Isaac Kizer.
After wasting time looking at a few random pages, I finally got serious and started putting names into the search box. Kizer: nothing. Keyser: nada. Kyser: zip. Keizer: BINGO.
Keizer, Isaac Isaac Keizer, an old and respectable citizen of the vicinity of Cherry Grove, departed this life on Wednesday, August 11th, 1869. We have known him for many years and can say that he was a good neighbor, and no doubt is gone to a better world to reap his reward. Vol. I. #1, Thurs., Aug. 26, 1869
Well, that made sense. He did, in fact, die before the 1870 census was enumerated. Seeing this, and finding “closure” on Isaac’s life, made me so emotional that I almost missed the other gem that had turned up. In the search results, right under the listing for Isaac’s obituary, was a link to Mary’s listing in the Pleasant Grove United Methodist Church Cemetery index:
Keizer, Mary J. b. 2 Mar 1808 d. 9 Nov 1890 Wife of Isaac Keizer
And you know what I found as I was scrolling through the index today while writing this post? At the bottom of the list of K’s was Isaac Kyzer! I had thought it odd a few nights ago that I did not find Isaac buried “next to” Mary, but obviously I did not look hard enough. Which once again proves that you should always double-check your work! I got back on the Highway again and headed over to Find A Grave. Finding no Kizers, Kyzers, Keizers, etc. listed in Pleasant Grove United Methodist Cemetery, I added Isaac and Mary myself, and requested photos for both. Hopefully their graves are marked, and a nice volunteer will post pictures of them. Soon. Hint, hint.UPDATE: A nice volunteer did indeed post photos for Isaac Kyzer and Mary J Bradley Keizer.
So now I knew when Isaac died… perhaps he left a will. I hopped back on the Highway, this time heading to FamilySearch.org. I exited at Washington County, Tennessee, Probate Court Books, 1795-1927, and found that Isaac Kizer did indeed leave a will, proven in September 1869. While it was mostly filled with the usual boilerplate, I did learn something important: he addressed his wife as “Mary Jane,” so I now knew Mary’s middle name. Unfortunately, he only named one child, “Manda,” who was still single and living on the farm, and only addressed the others as “his heirs.” I was hoping he might have mentioned Susannah, but… Ah well… we can’t have everything we want.
A portion of Isaac Kizer’s Will (from FamilySearch.org)
Isaac signed his will with his mark, but in previous censuses, he indicated that he could read and write. I can’t help but think he that must have been quite ill at the end of his life. I’ll probably never know.
So that marked the end of my virtual research trip. Arriving home, I organized my swag and my thoughts, and decided that a few things would bear further investigation:
Finding no other “Kizers” (or other name variation) in the area makes me wonder if those folks named Keys might have dropped the “zer” at one point. Based on the numerous phonetic spellings I found, I can’t help but think the name was pronounced “Keezer,” so shortening to “Keys” would make sense.
“Manda” (or Amanda, as she was found in the censuses) was not in Mary’s household in 1870, nor was she found nearby. I wonder where she went? She was obviously very important to Isaac, since she was the only child he named.
If Mary’s maiden name was Bradly, who was Jonathan?
Isaac’s will was witnessed by Lewis Cooper and Adam Cooper. Who were they?
Isaac seemed to own a bit of land… a review of the deeds is in order here. And tax records, to figure out when the Kizers came to Washington County.
So, where did you go on your virtual research trip? Bring back anything worth sharing?
“The Drunkards Progress: From the First Glass to the Grave” Note the woman and child standing under the bridge.
This article has been difficult for me to write. As a genealogist – and a descendant of the main characters – I wanted to do justice to the story. I think we’re always looking for “one more”: one more vital record, one more news article, one more photo, one more book… one more anything that will shed light on what really happened. At some point, we need to stop looking and just write… which can be harder than it sounds.
And while I’m still looking for one more, I need to just write.
From “The Daily Times” (Portsmouth, Ohio) February 25, 1899
On February 6, 1899, Louise Faivre’s life as she knew it was about to change. Unbeknownst to her, husband Andrew and a few of his buddies shared a bucket of beer in the shop after work, and then headed out to the local saloons for a few more drinks.
Several hours and several bottles later, Andrew and a buddy boarded the train for home. Andrew supposedly got off at the correct stop, but in his intoxicated condition, fell down and spent the night in a snow drift. And it was an extremely cold night – some reports say as cold as 10 below zero. Andrew was badly frozen by the time he was found the next morning (one newspaper reported that he had been frozen to death). His fingers and toes were badly frostbitten, requiring amputation of all of his fingers, and at least one of his toes. He got to keep his thumbs.
Having no fingers would certainly make his job as a tailor difficult, if not impossible.
The temperance movement was in full swing at this time, and there was a law on the books allowing a wife damages against “persons who sold her husband liquor against her wishes, causing him to suffer permanent injury.” In March 1899, Louise filed suit against three of the saloonkeepers for $10,000 in damages.
After all, she had warned them. And she meant business.
From “The Des Moines Leader” (Des Moines, IA) April 13, 1902
The case went to trial, and was anything but easy. After two mistrials, Louise eventually asked for a change of venue, claiming that there was so much influence from the liquor industry in Woodbury County that it was impossible for her to receive a fair trial. The judge agreed. The case was moved to Onawa, in Monona County, and after a few preliminary battles, went to trial.
On May 3, 1900, after three days of lawyers putting up what was called “one of the hardest fights in the history of Monona County,” the jury ruled in Louise Faivre’s favor. She was awarded $6,000 in damages, although only two of the saloonkeepers were found guilty.
The saloonkeepers were not going down without a fight, and immediately filed a motion for a new trial.
However, almost two years later, in April of 1902, the Iowa State Supreme Court would uphold the lower court’s ruling, and again award Louise $6,000 in damages against the two booze-giving saloonkeepers.
In late November of 1902, Louise would finally receive compensation of $7,123 (the extra $1,123 was for “costs and interest,” since the unpaid initial judgment of $6,000 had been due in May 1900).
(Interestingly, Iowa was the 31st state out of 46 to ratify the 18th Amendment, doing so on January 15, 1919, almost 20 years after Andrew Faivre’s fateful freezing.)
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Needless to say, Louise’s life could not have been an easy one. She persevered through what must have been an unhappy marriage, the loss of so many children, her husband’s alcoholism, permanent injury and loss of income, as well as 4 very public trials, including one at the Supreme Court level.
When her husband couldn’t perform his duties as the “man of the house,” she stepped up to the plate.
And oddly enough, through the good, bad, and ugly, she and Andrew stayed together. One Connecticut newspaper reported the headline of “Drunkards Wife Gets Divorce,” but that never happened. Census records show that Louise and Andrew were still together, still married, and living in Union County, South Dakota, in 1920.
Only a very strong – and very patient – woman wouldn’t have kicked the bum out.
Andrew Faivre died on November 11, 1928, at the age of 75. No mention is made on his death certificate of any illness related to drinking. Hopefully he learned his lesson and gave up the bottle.
Louise died at a hospital in Sioux City, Iowa, on June 15, 1942, at the age of 87. She was still living in South Dakota at the time of her death.
Growing up in the ’70s, I hated that song. After all, I was too young to care about the Women’s Liberation Movement, and I had been raised to believe that my life could be whatever I wanted it to be, regardless of my being “a girl.” But lately, the song has new meaning for me. You see, on some level, I’ve always known (and joked) that I come from “a long line of strong women.” It’s only been in the past few years that I’ve come to know – and appreciate – the adversity which made these women strong.
The Strong Woman: There’s One in Every Family.
My great-great grandmother, Louise (Rudity) Faivre, might not have been invincible, but she was most definitely strong. Born to French émigrés on September 12, 1854, in Scioto County, Ohio, she grew up a small-town girl who would eventually make news headlines across the country. Unfortunately, these would not be the kind of headlines of which every girl dreams.
On January 14, 1878, Louise married Andrew Faivre, a twenty-five year old tailor that she’d known for many years. Andrew was the eldest son of Andrew and Mary Faivre, and as many eldest sons were known to do back in the day, he had taken on the trade of his father, quite possibly under protest. A man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do, especially if he wants to get the girl.
Shortly after Louise and Andrew married, they headed west to make their home in Sioux City, Iowa, after a few-year stop in Illinois. During the next 15 years, Louise would bear 10 children, but only 5 were known to survive: Sadie, John, Bernice, “Zee” (Azelia), and Henry.
I cannot imagine the inner strength needed to survive the loss of so many children.
Meanwhile, Andrew had his own demons to bear. Either unhappy with his life, or under tremendous peer pressure, he became a habitual drinker. And by habitual drinker, I mean well-known drunk. By his own admission, he would frequently drink to the point of becoming incapacitated for at least a week, during which time he was, of course, unable to work.
To keep the family from drowning financially, Louise became a washerwoman, taking in other’s dirty laundry to compensate for her husband’s lost and squandered wages. Their eldest daughter also went to work, most likely as a domestic servant, and then later as a “dry goods clerk.” Andrew would frequently ask them how much they earned, but neither woman would give him a straight answer. They knew that spare change in Andrew’s pockets would – sooner or later – end up spent on booze.
Sadly, Andrew did not turn out to be the husband or father that Louise must have hoped he’d be when she married him.
Frustrated, Louise eventually took matters into her own hands: she made the rounds to Andrew’s favorite saloons, warning the proprietors not to sell liquor to her husband. This was apparently not an unusual practice for wives in the mid to late 19th century, and saloonkeepers were expected to comply with these requests.
However… these saloonkeepers did not.
And Louise’s life as she knew it was about to change.
Bill West of West in New England has issued a challenge to fellow genealogy bloggers to design a float for the Genealogy Parade.
When I first read about this, something utterly silly and almost embarrassing popped into my head, and I thought, “No way, I can’t say that.”
But after a frustrating few hours of once again finding absolutely NOTHING about my elusive Delaney ancestors, I’ve decided to go for it. After all, aren’t first reactions usually the most true and honest?
So, here’s my float:
That’s right folks… it’s The Mother Ship, appropriately representing my mother’s mother’s family.
Despite the claim that they came from Ireland, I’m fairly certain that her ancestors were beamed here by aliens. Sadly, I can find almost no trace of them anywhere, nor can I find others who are looking for them.
Coincidence? I think not!
Here’s my dilemma:
Richard John Delaney is my most distant “known” Delaney ancestor. He was probably born c. 1840 in Ireland, and he was married to a lady of the surname Bergin, but whose first name is unknown. They had four children: Jerimiah (b. August 1858), Bridget (“Bess”), Mary, and my great-great-grandfather, Dennis Daniel (June 1863 in Belfast, Ireland).
We could just call him “E.T.”
After Richard’s/E.T.’s wife died, he supposedly emigrated with his children to the U.S. in either 1862 or 1892.
How did they get here? By spaceship, of course! There are no passenger records for UFOs, silly people!
My great-great-grandfather Dennis Delaney married Nellie Coyne (b. March 1875, in Illinois) in approximately 1895.
I imagine they met in a crop circle somewhere in the Midwest.
They had two children: my great-grandmother, Elizabeth Marie Delaney (b. Sept. 1895), and her brother Richard John Delaney (b. Feb. 1898), both born in Nebraska. They’re all found alive and well in the 1900 U.S. Census living in Lancaster, Nebraska. Dennis is 36 and working as a railroad engineer. He states that he came to the U.S. in 1882 (on that spaceship, with his dad!).
Now, here’s where the trail grows cold:
Family legend says that Nellie died in a car crash in about 1901. I can only assume that this tragedy happened in Nebraska, but I’ve found nothing to prove it.
Perhaps she was called back to the Mother Ship?
Following her death, Dennis dropped his two kids off with his brother and sister-in-law, Jerimiah and Zella Delaney, and supposedly made a mad dash for Kansas. Or Oklahoma. Or Jupiter.
Poof! Dennis and Nellie have both vanished off the face of the earth!
I’ve been told by a family member that one day while Uncle Jerry was out of town Aunt Zella took the kids to an orphanage where they stayed until they were old enough to work.
So, after years of searching the Census for kids in orphanages (without knowing which state or planet), I recently put the right mysterious variables into the Ancestry.com search engine and found Elizabeth and Richard living with Uncle Jerry and Aunt “Zalla” in 1910 in Clay County, Nebraska. This was nine years after their mother supposedly died.
Could Jerry and Zella have had second thoughts about that orphanage? Or perhaps Elizabeth and Richard were home on vacation?
Or was “orphanage” code for SPACESHIP???
Dennis is nowhere to be found at this point. I’ve head that he lived for several years after he left his family, but again, I’ve been unable to find any proof.
Was he called back to the Mother Ship too? Who knows! They don’t leave records for us humans to find!
Jerry and Zella had a daughter, Laura, b. 1889 in Nebraska. In 1910, she’s living with her parents in Nebraska. In 1920, she’s once again found with her parents, but this time she’s listed as a “widow.”
Hmmm… I wonder what happened to her husband?
Elizabeth was married to Thomas McGraw by 1917, I assume, since my grandmother, Mary, was born in May of that year. They had four more children: Thomas Jr., Delores, Robert, and Myda. Thomas deserted his family after 1930, leaving his wife to care for five children by herself.
Another one beamed home, maybe?
Nah, but that’s a story for another day.
The truth is out there. I just haven’t found it yet.
So stick a shamrock on the Mother Ship, and my float is complete.
What does YOUR float in the Genealogy Parade look like?
Hello, I'm Elizabeth! I'm a genealogist, writer, and educator, and I've been looking for my descendant's ancestors for 3x's longer than she's been alive. I tell some of their stories here, but I also share tech and blogging tips, news, and other stuff I like. I am the host of the Genealogy Blog Party, which I hope you will join! Find out more right here.