My Irish Mason Family

My Irish Mason Family

Sit With Me - Share My Journey

I'm Irish & I'm a Mason...and I have lots of stories to tell! I have stories of magical, serendipitous moments on a journey discovering my Mason roots. It's been an amazing, wonderful road I've travelled & I hope you'll enjoy the stories I share about this long & difficult & very rewarding trek! I hope you'll find inspiration to never quit looking for your ancestors.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Making Dreams Come True

She had a dream - a vision - of a bookstore in her tiny rural hometown of Blytheville, Arkansas.  She left her job as a teacher and in the same way she did everything she moved ahead to make her dream come true.  If it could be done she was going to do it.

Main streets in little rural towns (and in lots of larger cities as well) have a difficult time getting people to come downtown to shop.  Her dream would hopefully bring in those potential customers.  Back when powerful women were an anomaly she was at the forefront of everything in her hometown.  She knew a bookstore would be a great benefit to her town.  She started with trading used books.  The store was called The Book Rack - a franchise.  It had to start somewhere.  Baby steps.  Just keep walking forward.

There isn't a lot to do in that area.  Reading was popular.  Trading used books was a success.  People came from all over that area - even from the bootheel of Missouri.  Gradually selling brand new books was introduced.  The used books were still being traded in the back of the store and in the front more and more new books showed up.  Selling new books was a success as well.  Her dream became a reality.  Always one to try to think of new & unique ways to bring people in eventually she brought in things like Crabtree & Evelyn.  There were many cotton rich people in that area and they loved being able to get things like that without having to go to the nearest mall which was an hour away.  If people wanted to buy a book that's also how far they had to go before she made her dream come true.  (It wasn't a pretty ride either.)  It didn't hurt that there was also an Air Force base there with a lot of potential buyers.  

She participated in the politics of the town & was a mover & shaker.  She was highly involved in a Home Street USA (can't remember if that's the actual name).  It was to get grant money to help redo downtown main streets.  She made sure there were always things going on downtown - chili cookoffs, parades (I love the one where she organized a kazoo band), art shows - anything she could think of.  I'm reminded of a town near where I live now called Manitou Springs.  Whether it's a casket race or a fruitcake tossing festival there's always something going on downtown.  It's a really fun place to hang out.  But back to Blytheville - people gathered downtown for fun and they gathered in the back of her store.  There's a big old cast iron pot belly stove in the back that's more often burning than not.  Sitting in a rocking chair near that stove was welcoming & old time comfortable.  She knew that getting people downtown would boost sales but it was also helping keep the town alive.  It goes hand in hand.  They boost each other.

She had book readings, a great children's section with great children's activities.  She author signings.  The people that came there to autograph their books weren't little nobodies either.  John Grisham started out signing his books there and he never forgot it.  He doesn't go to many places to give autographs but he goes there.  Imagine meeting John Grisham.  (He's awesome!)  Dee Brown - author of "Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee".  The list goes on & on.  Most famously - President Bill Clinton & his wife Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.  They were Arkansas' own.  A lot more people in Arkansas love that couple that the media ever let on.  #justsaying  For ANY President or former Secretary of State to go to a little book store in a little town is flabbergasting!  Many famous people signed the wooden chairs in the back of the store.  You never quite knew what would be next on her calendar.

She also promoted books on the national level.  At one time she was one of the 20 members of the American Booksellers Association Board of Directors.  She even got to present a book at the White House.

It was my great fortune that she hired me to work for her at the book store.  It was an incredible experience! Best job I ever had!  Her husband Paul was also a teacher.  Lots of teachers hung around the store too.  Education was really important.  I had wanted to go to college but various things kept me from that.  Then Paul told me I need to be in school, wrote me a check to the college, called the college & sent me out of work and off to the school.  That led to applying for a Board of Trustees scholarship which I was granted.  It was a merit scholarship.  Someone believed in me.  That's the most important thing I learned.  It changed my life.  It was only two years in a community college but it was more than I'd ever been able to achieve before that.   I graduated with honors.  I wanted to make them proud of me.  I hope I did that.

The store has passed on to new owners now and I wish it great success.  I can't imagine that town without it. I also can't imagine that store without the one that dreamed it into reality - Mary Gaye Shipley.  I'm indebted to her.  She is a very great woman - a very great role model.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

After the Burn - Fire Hurts Forever

For the second year in a row Colorado is experiencing catastrophic fires.  Hundreds of homes have been lost.  I can't help but think of the trauma the victims experience.  I truly believe PTSD is a likely result.  You don't just build a new home and have all the bad memories float away.  It stays with you.  At least that's my belief.  When my mom was a young teen their house burned down.  My mom was focused on trying to get my beloved Grandma's beloved piano out.  Her clothing caught fire.  My dad tried to help put the fire out with a hose.  I think that's how they met.  My dad - a hero then and a hero when he died.  Anyway....the memory of that fire stays with my mom.  I know it stayed with my grandma. 

I don't think newspapers often do the kind of human interest stories they did back in older times - at least not as in depth or extensive.  The local newspaper did an article on my Grandma & how the fire had affected her afterwards.  #Genealogy people will understand how every personal story we gather of our ancestors matters to us.  This being my beloved Grandma is especially meaningful to me.

From The Hillsboro Argus

Hillsboro, Oregon

Thursday, December 21, 1950, Page 2


"Mary Frances Mayfield is at it again. She is painting the interior of her house at Reedville, and her husband, Aubra, looks worried. "He says that if I begin painting, the house will burn down," said Mrs. Mayfield.

That is what happened in June, 1949. Just after their home was shining with fresh paint, a fire transformed all their belongs to a pile of ashes.

Always active, whether it is working as practical nurse or restaurant waitress, besides being a mother of five children, Mrs. Mayfield might have believed she had seen everything. The blaze, however, was the largest shock she has ever known. The family did not have a dollar's worth of fire insurance.

Following a nervous breakdown, she spent a month in a hospital and some additional time in adjusting herself.

Neighbors Help

"It was the strangest thing. I would talk with so many people without remembering who they were. The neighbors were wonderful, bringing food and clothing. And one lady in Portland, Mrs. Shuld, gave us a piano," she said.

The destruction of their home ended a project begun just two years before. She had laid the groundwork for providing recreational facilities for children of the area. Going by the theory that

youngsters had nothing but pinball machines at local beer taverns, Mrs. Mayfield took a look at the new gymnasium at Reedville grade school.

Use New Gym

While attending a PTA meeting one night, she suggested the gymnasium be used to provide activity the children needed. Mentioning the inadequate set-up that prevailed (beer taverns), the visiting speaker, a juvenile officer from Portland, agreed that the gymnasium would be an ideal spot for night-time activity

It wasn't long before children were bouncing a basketball along the hardwood floor or setting up a volleyball net. Some high school boys helped with the coaching and parents offered to provide trans-


That was just one phase of the youth program Mrs. Mayfield initiated. She got together with youngsters who knew how to play musical instruments or liked to sing and act. Auditions for talent shows were held, and the best acts were crystallized into evening performances that attracted much local interest. Two shows were held at Aloha under sponsorship of the fire department and the chamber of commerce. Another was held in Reedville, with profits going toward financing bicycle racks for the grade school.

Program Discontinued

The program for local children, just two years old, ended after the Mayfield house burned. The gymnasium is no longer being used at night, and there have not been any more talent shows. "I don't know when I can get back into recreational work," she said. "It would be nice if money can be raised to buy some equipment. There are so many ways to raise funds, but it will take more than one person to handle it. It requires the cooperation of the community."

At present, Mrs. Mayfield is working in a restaurant in Beaverton, and her husband is employed in that city as an automobile repairman.

The couple, married in 1929, have five children, Robert (sic), Aubra (sic) Mayfield and Mrs. Rita Rae Sinclair of Reedville, Mrs. John Mason Jr. of Aloha and Calvin Mayfield of Salt Lake City.

Wants to See Home Town

Mary Mayfield, the oldest of six children was born at Chanute Kansas and was graduated from the Wichita Masonic Home in 1927. Most of her brothers and sisters are now living nearby from Forest Grove to Portland.

She moved to Salem later working as a practical nurse at Brownsville for almost 10 years. An assignment of taking care of a family that had small pox was how she first met her future husband Aubra. The doctor was having difficulty in finding a nurse that was not afraid of contracting the sickness and since Mary Francis had been through it earlier she took the job. Aubra was a member of that family.

During the war she drove a gravel truck for a few months at the Hillsporo airport project. Her perfect desire along with catching crawdads and digging for clams at Oceanside is to visit her home town in Kansas. Mrs. Mayfield mentioned one thing she doesn't like office work. "I can't sit still long enough for that" she said."


I've visited the home she lived in before being orphaned.  I stood on the porch crying and said "This is for you, Grandma!"  She was the oldest of six children who had been orphaned in the span of one year.  I can't imagine going through what she did and then to have a fire burn down her home.  Heartbreaking.

Here's to you, Grandma!  I love & miss you always!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Treasure Chest Thursday - Priceless & Non Tangible - Stories

I was lying in bed this morning unable to sleep so I walked down here by myself to the river and listened to the rhythm of it and let my mind wander as the river spoke to me.  Oh how I wish it really could!  The stories it could tell!  Suddenly I knew what I want to share with you today. 

I want to share the value of stories - sharing them in any way you can - passing them down from generation to generation.  Who could put a price on THAT Treasure Chest?  It doesn't matter if you speak the stories personally and / or on recorder or if you write them down or however you find a way to pass them on.  What you share when you share stories is oral history - and a part of yourself - a part that no one else can really know until they hear it from YOUR perspective.  Others can look at your life and write an obit.  You have the power to fill in the details that go so far beyond that!  You have the power to leave a legacy.  Never underestimate the value of that!

I've shared that my grandmother was orphaned when she was 12 - the eldest of 6 siblings.  What 12 year old asks family history questions?  She did have some connection to her extended family so it wasn't as though she didn't know anything.  It was just that she didn't know very much.  She lamented that.  I had to trace her entire line as genealogists do - step by step starting with the death certificate.  I'm so proud of being able to do that - and so sad that she wasn't there to share it with.  She died when I was 12.  I would have loved to have given her that gift.  She gave me so many - and none of them ever cost any money.  I truly don't remember a gift she ever bought me.  Yet the treasures she gave me are immense! 

On my dad's side ... know that I tragically lost him when I was 2.  I was far into adulthood before I even had the slightest clue about his life beyond his name and the fact that he had drowned.  Because I didn't have any contact with his family I had no way of sitting at their feet and asking questions - allowing them to share with me the stories of their lives and the stories they could remember from their forbears.  There was a huge hole in me - a huge desire to know my heritage.  So again...step by step starting with the obituary a brother happened to find and then the death certificate and so on.  I was so blessed with everything I learned about my dad! 

My family has never had family heirlooms passed down.  My mother started changing things with her generation and even now she sorts things and make plans.  No one before ever did that.  People threw everything out.  It's insane in my opinion but I can't fix it.  I plan to follow in my mom's footsteps.  There are things I hope to pass on as heirlooms - even if inexpensive - just little treasures with sentiments attached.  We lacked in stories and we lacked in "things".  So most of the Treasure Chest Thursday things I can share are things I've been fortunate enough to receive that belonged to my dad.  I also have a tendency to share things that would equally fit into Sentimental Sunday blogs.  Oh well.....  That's just me.  :)

What I realized standing by the river this morning was that of all the treasures that I have from my heritage - the ones that mean the most to me never cost a penny.  Nor are they tangible.  The treasures are the stories that have been shared with me about my dad and his family  by my cousin John and my stepmother Maggi.  John was able to share with me stories that pictures don't tell, that military records don't tell, that medals don't tell.  The same is true of my Mama Maggi.  She could even share the stories from her perspective of meeting my dad, their marriage, his likes & dislikes, little funny stories, and also of his death and what happened that day and everything after.  A picture of her with my dad wouldn't tell me those priceless stories.  I have been able to get to know my dad through the stories shared by the people that knew him.  What a gift!

Tell your stories.  Share them.  Even if no one seems to want to listen right now - share them, record them, write them down.  Someday maybe someone will be like me and be searching to know anything and everything they can.  Someday maybe someone like me will want to soak it all up.  Someday maybe your stories will be the priceless gifts in the legacy treasure chest of their lives.   

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Elsie's Poem - "To A City Sister"

This is a poem written by Elsie. I love her spirit!!! As a brief reminder if needed - Elsie was my GGrandmother and immigrated from Scotland to Montana.

"Written on the homestead near Fort Benton, Mont.
July 12th, 1910.


You may live in your flat in the city,
And enjoy the city's gay life,
But, I'll choose my home on the prairie,
And be just a plain farmer's wife.

You may live like a Lady of Leisure,
Have nothing to do but rest,
But for me there is a great more pleasure
Holding down a claim in the West.

You may take in the city's great dances,
Or balls I should say, I suppose,
But I'll choose my pony that prances,
And champs on his bit as he goes.

You may take in the city's grand concerts,
You may sit in your parlour and gossip,
With callers all the day long,
But I'll take my hoe to the garden
And work to the meadowlark song.

Your home may be modernly furnished,
And everything lovely and neat.
Our home is a one room shack only,
But our happiness there is complete.

You may choose city life with it's splendor,
And happy you also may be,
But there is naught to compare with the freedom,
Of this wild prairie country for me.

But then after all does it matter,
If our home be a shack or a hall,
We know that our heavenly father
Watches over and cares for us all.

And as the years pass swiftly before us,
And we get more feeble and gray,
We can live with our memories together,
Till God will call us away."

By Elsie Brown
I know Elsie's blood runs strongly in my veins! I'd rather be in the country than the city. I prefer nature to concrete jungle. I live simply and I like it that way. Elsie talked on the tape recording of her little shack - and she said "Oh, but it was a MANSION!". She had such passion for her little home. I feel the same. I walk with my walking stick and think of Elsie and her passion for the freedom of the outdoors. I sit in my little "shack" and it's mansion to me. Thank you, Elsie, for coming to America! Because of you - I am.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Sentimenal Sunday - Great Info & Insights - Great Grandma On Tape

Another Sunday and we're sitting here by the river on this beautiful Spring day and I'm thinking of my Scottish great grandmother Elsie.

Before I came down to join you today I took some time to listen to something that made me very sentimental. So for my Sentimental Sunday offering I'm going to share something that would equally fit into the Treasure Chest Thursday theme. I think most of my entries on those days could be interchanged! ;) I definitely prefer the story telling to the fact sharing - but as I've admitted many times - I realize how important both are. Today's story is an illustration of that.

I shared with you about Elsie and her trip to America in a previous chat. On March 10th I shared a Treasure Chest Thursday story called "Coming to America - Letter From An Immigrant Ancestor". For those who were here to listen to me tell that story, you will have already heard much of this....but not all.

My dad's first cousin (Patty Gross) is a great genealogist. I'm very fortunate as you know that I've been able to find my dad's family in various ways over the years and she is one of those special people. They have all helped me to piece together my dad's life and his line. Through them I've been able to get to "know" people I either never met or don't remember. I'm very blessed! Those of you who have followed my stories understand why.

Patty did something not every genealogist thinks to do. I'm a beneficiary of her special thoughtfulness and attention to detail. Patty sat down with my great grandmother Elsie and made a cassette recording while interviewing her. I love that the tape includes little kids chattering and moving about. There are clearly at least 3 generations in that room as Patty asked questions and Elsie responded. Family! A moment in time captured on tape - and with it so many other moments. Past & Present converged and left a legacy for the Future. Beautiful!

Elsie was 21 when she sailed away from Scotland never to return. Instead of going to a city - which would have made a lot of sense - she travelled to somewhere remote and undeveloped - Montana. What courage! There she met and married my great grandfather and had their children before they moved on to Idaho.

On the tape she still has her Scottish accent which is amazing to hear. I wish I had known her - wish I had been able to sit at her feet and ask her a million questions about her life before and after coming to America! I have this precious tape though and I can hear her actual voice. I connect. I relate. I hear her saying things I myself say. I hear her tell stories in a way very similar to how I tell stories. I even felt a strong feeling of familiarity when I saw my first picture of Elsie. She was standing as though looking off into the distance (a pose I'm often in) with a walking stick that looks just like mine! I couldn't believe it! It's a silly thing maybe - but I think of Elsie every time I use my walking stick now - and I use it a lot.

Elsie talked about her first meeting with my great grandfather - and how they had a little bit of a go 'round about his cat getting into her milk. It's a funny story and how she tells it is funny as well. She talks about her life on the homestead and how her 12 x 14 place with a window in the front and another in the back was a "palace". She kept it so clean you could "eat off the floors" others said. She talked about how she cried when their first cow died and how it took over a year to save the money to buy another one. She talked about the Eastern people who foolishly sold most of what they had and shipped the rest West to homestead - with no place to put most of it. Dreams met Reality in Montana and many were unable to cope with it and some committed suicide. Blizzards, isolation, tragedy....she told stories of interest and agony. One heartbreaking story told of two young boys who went hunting and got lost in the endless prairie. When their bodies were found the older was holding the younger. The mother lost her mind. It was a hard life. She talked about the distances to travel and about moving by wagon and about the first Ford they bought. She talked about her garden and the crops of wheat and oats and barley(reminding me again of "Fields of Gold"). She sometimes would forget what she was saying and have to get back to it. Oh how I relate to that! She would sometimes get so wrapped up in a story that she'd forget the question. Hmmmm.....I relate to that as well!

There were a lot of facts on the tape as well. Patty questioned her about her siblings and parents and grandparents - and about my great grandfather's as well. So there is documentation along with the stories. That's the blend I always seek. I can hear from her own voice her telling these bits of information that are so important. What a gift!

Maybe next week I'll share a poem that Elsie wrote. I love it!

My great grandmother Elsie and my great grandfather William were married in Great Falls, Montana. As an Air Force brat I had lived twice in Montana - once in Glasgow and once in Great Falls. I have a lot more attachment to Great Falls where I went to high school and later had my children. I've visited the places Elsie mentioned. I've seen the mountains and the prairies she refers to. I've seen the blizzards and the remoteness. It's not like when I dream of Ireland which I've never been fortunate enough to visit. These are places I know well. At the time I lived there I had no idea whatsoever that I had any ties to Montana. I'm sad that I didn't know then but also am very glad that I serendipitously got to live in a place that I have roots in. I'm grateful to have the tape that has my great grandmother sharing her memories of that place in her beautiful Scottish accent. She reaches across time through her voice. She's gone but some of her memories and her voice are still with us.

Sentimental Sunday - Packy the Portland Pachyderm

My Sentimental Sunday offering may seem a bit unusual to some but I hope it touches a chord within for those who have great zoo memories.

One of my fondest childhood memories was going to the zoo. My grandparents were really great about taking us there and it was such a special time that zoos became a big part of my leisure time no matter where I've lived. Not only did I love & visit zoos - but I swore that someday I'd be like my grandparents and take my own grandchildren to zoos. I knew it would be special times that we'd share that they'd remember after I'm gone. I knew because I remember those childhood visits so well and I smile and thank my grandparents for taking the time to give us those precious moments. My youngest grandchild - Mason Liam - isn't even a year old but he recently made his first zoo trip and we had a wonderful time!

My grandparents were special in many ways. They were a refuge for the children in our extended family who didn't have the Beaver Cleaver childhood experience. Many of us had very difficult lives - but our grandparents helped alleviate that by giving us moments of escape. The zoo was the best!

My beloved Grandma was nicknamed Rosie. There was an elephant at our local zoo in Portland, Oregon named Rosie. We got quite a kick out of that. Still do! My Grandma passed away when I was 12 and I still miss her terribly but seeing elephants always makes me think of her and smile. I saw a documentary on elephants once and cried through a lot of it because it talked about how there would be one main matriarch that led the elephant family. Reminded me of my Grandma.

We had Rosie and we loved Rosie. But then something really special happened. It was magical! The Portland zoo had a new baby elephant that was going to be born. It would be the first elephant born in the Western hemisphere in over 44 years! It was really exciting! The local newspaper "The Oregonian" was first to announce the impending birth. The city caught baby pachyderm fever! There were so many activities to celebrate this special little baby elephant about to be born. The world caught wind of this event and reported on it and when the little one was born on April 14, 1962 an eleven page article appeared in LIFE magazine.

There was a contest to name the baby elephant and the winning name was "Packy". We didn't stop loving Rosie but we took to Packy with a passion that can't be explained! From a baby on we all "adopted" Packy and he was our favorite to visit at the zoo. Packy is now the largest Asian elephant in the United States.

I moved away many years ago and have only made it "home" a few times - but every visit has to include a trip to see our beloved Packy! We who grew up as beloved grandchildren of our beloved grandparents gather - and we remember.

Thank you, Grandma & Grandpa! You are loved & missed!


Ancestor Approved Award

I got on here today not to post anything because I really don't have an Easter photo or story to share. I just got on to look at it. Yes, I read my own posts sometimes. I often even cry when I read them. I'm what they call "Emo" - but isn't it natural that my own very personal heartfelt stories would move me to tears? Even though the stories aren't new to me - they're still "my" stories and they're still written from my heart and soul. They're the stories that moved me and I'm honored that they've touched others too.

Leslie Ann at "Ancestors Live Here" initiated this award. I add my thanks to Bill's!

Bill at "Dr. Bill Tells Ancestor Stories"
was kind enough to pass this award along to me. He's been my strongest supporter - like a champion cheering me on. Thank you, Bill! He also shares my love of the "Liam" name. ;)

It was also awarded to me by Cheryl Fleming  Thank you, Cheryl!  Very much appreciated!

This is a very special award to me. It means a lot on many different levels. I'm thrilled to receive it because I don't think there could be a better compliment (except maybe Descendant Approved) that would make me feel such gratification! Honestly - there have been so many times when I've felt the Irish eyes smiling down on me - felt that the ancestors were approving and leading me! I've blogged about that. Believe if you will - or don't believe - but I've been led by them on this journey. They've held my hand and guided me. I'm very proud to have my blog be "Ancestor Approved"!

As one of the recipients of this award I'm supposed to list ten things that have "surprised, humbled or enlightened me" about any of my ancestors. I'm also supposed to pass this award on to 10 other bloggers who are doing their ancestors proud.

Wow! ONLY TEN?! I've had so many "moments"! Narrowing it down will be a challenge - as will the honesty to "tell it like it is" for some. Not all surprises are happy. Some things that are humbling can be stories that aren't as pretty as others. Enlightened? Since every find is enlightening that's even more difficult. I really can't separate these into the categories. They're all surprises, humbling & enlightening for me.

1. Learning that my GGGrandmother had a marriage no one knew about AND that she had been involved in quite a scandalous incident. Her second husband molested her 9 year old son. Back then the name of the child wasn't protected in the media. That woman is a hero to me. I admire her strength and courage because she didn't sweep that under the rug as so many would have. I refuse to sweep it under the rug either. That wouldn't give her the honor she deserves. She brought the authorities in and had the guy prosecuted. Her son was named in the newspapers and in the arrest and court documents. In a tiny town it would have been quite the talk of tea parties! What guts! She did the right thing and I'm incredibly proud to be descended from her! She went back to using her first married name and only some great research (by someone I paid) uncovered the mystery.

2. Finding out that my grandfather was born in Ireland - County Down, Northern Ireland to be more precise. Wow! I qualify for dual citizenship. I'm Irish every day! Didn't know that for most of my life.

3. Finding out that my Irish Mason family emigrated from Ireland directly to Colorado where I now live - never having known that they were from Ireland - let alone that they had ever lived here. I've come full circle in many ways! I didn't know it when I moved here but I'm back where they started out in America. Awesome!

4. Finding out that my Irish great grandfather John Patrick Mason was a driller on the Gunnison Diversion Tunnel and lived at River Portal (East Portal). That tunnel was a pioneering project & was quite an accomplishment. That place is now part of a wonderful National Park - Black Canyon of the Gunnison. So Proud!

5. Learning that I have at least two ancestors who fought in the Civil War - both on the Union side. (I'd still like to find a Confederate since I lived in Virginia for several years and because I love Gone With the Wind. )

6. Learning that my grandfather really WAS born on a reservation! Along with that one is the incredible feeling of humility and awe I felt when visiting a Native American cemetery in his birthplace - and seeing so many of his surname there. They were the ONLY family in that tiny place who didn't see fit to claim their heritage - or they weren't really Native American like my Grandpa said. Someday maybe I'll know the truth.

7. Finding out my other grandfather drowned 20 years (almost to the day) after my daddy drowned.

8. Learning that I had an ancestor who was among the first group to arrive in Jamestown - which preceded the Mayflower landing at Plymouth Rock. Jamestown was the first successful English colony in America - and I lived right by it for several years. So blessed! Along with that one - finding out that I had other branches that started out right there on that same little peninsula - and that there's a church still standing that my ancestors attended (and sometimes got in trouble for NOT attending). Being blessed to live in places that I later learned were deeply connected to various branches of my family. Serendipity!

9. As my Grandma was orphaned at 12 - the eldest of 6 siblings - tracing her past step by step - and eventually finding the family cemetery and standing on the porch of the home she was living in before she and her siblings were placed in a Masonic Home. I remember the tears and saying "This is for you, Grandma!" She taught me so much about family! It meant everything to her. I knew she would approve of me finding her family roots.

10. Finding my stepmother - learning about her life & about the brother I never knew. A widow at 16 - the day she & my brother came home from the hospital - her strength and courage have touched me deeply! Her sacrifice & generosity in giving me the flag that covered my dad's coffin & the wallet he had on him that fateful day - HUMBLING indeed!

Now to the ten bloggers I'd like to pass this on to for their awesome work in doing their ancestors proud!

1. Bill at

2. Tom at

3. Emily at

4. Greg at

5. Sara Beth at

6. Lisa at

7. Colleen at

8. Lisa at

9. Fiona at

10. Becky at