29 November 2015

Sentimental Sunday – Saviors of “The Stuff”

On this nearly last day of November, I feel compelled to ensure that thanks goes where thanks belongs. That means that I say a heartfelt “thank you” to Steve and Nancy Baer (Strubbe).

Nan, as she was known to her friends, lovingly kept family materials given to her long ago. OK, lovingly might not be absolutely accurate, but at least they looked something like this when I got my Archivist hands on them:

The second batch of family history materials saved by Mary Strubbe
I include this photograph in a lecture I do about caring and maintaining family history materials, and it gets a chuckle from the audience every time. I love pointing out the picnic basket in the plastic tub; it’s a classic example of someone’s best effort at preserving something important.

And the things in those boxes, and the archival boxes that Nan’s daughter Mary had begun storing some of the materials in, were very important. The picnic basket secured a Bible and a large book of piano music, which has a published date of 1800 and a signature of ‘Robert Chambers Greene’ on the frontispiece. The other materials included marriage certificates, original letters from the great aunt of Nan, who at the time was completely unknown to any of us. There was just so much that it’s taken me several years to put the pieces together to create a rich family tapestry of stories.

When I stopped at Steve’s home in Bloomington, Indiana on my way back from NGS in Cincinnati in 2012, he showed me an original copy of a photograph of my second great-grandmother, Laura Louisa Greene Richards. Laura was born in 1837, and we believe the photo was taken around 1857, the year she married Randolph Richards. Steve, after a career as a dentist, had opened an antique store and had a house full of wonderful antiques. He maintained a genealogical collection; after he passed away in 2013, his children had a yard sale to get rid of much of what he’d had because they thought it was stuff he’d saved from the antique store. There's no way to know how much of it was from the family materials he'd described to me. I don’t know what happened to all the genealogical material that he’d researched over his adult life.

These two people were the keys to my ability to fill in the blanks of our family history. The twins, Stephen Burrows Baer and Nancy Richards Baer Strubbe, certainly had to be descendants of Stephen Burrows (1776-1849) and the Richards family (John Richards {1788-p1834} and Mary Penn {1785-1860}), and much of the materials were from these families. There are also materials from Greene, Hunt (a line by marriage), as well as mentions of Sargent and Penn. I’ve been able to fill in the blanks and research through to lines that include Sefton and Chouteau in French St. Louis; and a lengthy list of others including Russell, Wallace, Chambers and Camp.

Photo taken while processing the Strubbe Family Archives
This is the story of two families, Steve and Nan’s, who took different directions in handling their ‘stuff’ after they were gone. I’m grateful that I had the opportunity to meet Steve personally and to see some of the genealogical material he’d acquired over his lifetime. There’s really no way to know what he had and it’s gone now. Nan had told her daughter, Mary, that there was a lot of “stuff” she’d kept and that if Mary didn’t want it that she could "get rid of it." So there's a measure of thanks that goes to Mary who found the material interesting and decided to keep it. When I left Cincinnati last, the material from the plastic tubs looked like this:

A portion of the Strubbe Family Archives
It’s not ‘perfect’ and I tell people all the time that it’s not about perfection. It’s about honoring those who kept the material for us, and helping those who will be its stewards in the future to understand its importance by putting it in containers that LOOK important. Thank you, Steve and Nan, for saving our family history so we can share its stories.

Steve and Nan with the Strubbe twins (courtesy of the Strubbe Family Archives)

11 November 2015

Wordless Wednesday - Veteran's Day 2015

Please also see my 2012 musing regarding looking at Veterans in a broader sense.

Daniel Beightler (1844 - 1925)

George Jeffrey (1858 - 1935)

John Cosgrove (1891 - 1971)
Robert Sprague Beightler (1892 - 1978)

Francis D Cosgrove (1923 - 1944)
Elmer Ill (1920 - 1980)

Daniel Barnes Cosgrove...the green light's on...

To all the veterans who've served to protect the freedoms we have today.

10 September 2015

Thankful Thursday - Krystine Lorenzana Cabalfin

Part of this post was first published on 9 September 2011; it has been slightly edited. Today is the ninth anniversary of Krystine's passing from our world. We finally can truly embrace her legacy; the beautiful children she left behind.
(CJ, Matthew and Emilyn with their 1st cousins Gigi and Mimi)
When most of us think of genealogy, I believe we think of it in a ‘far off’ way. Even when that genealogy includes putting our grandparents or parents ‘Died on’ date in that space in the software or on the sheet of paper, somehow we always think of the past. And even when we miss our Grannys and Grandpas (sadly, both my grandfathers died when I was an infant), I think there’s a nostalgia that goes along with it that somehow makes it feel OK.

Of course, anyone who goes back beyond even the mid 20th Century has seen plenty of death in their tree. It’s a simple fact to us, that there’ll be a date on that line, and that the date will make sense. But every once in a while, there’ll be one that tugs at your heart. The mom and baby that died the same day, or the siblings that die within days of one another due to illness. It is a fact that pre-20th Century parents dealt with on a regular basis: children and young people die.

But, in the late 20th Century, and certainly in the 21st Century, especially in the developed world, fewer and fewer children die. We’re so blessed to live in a country that, for the most part, is a safe place for us to live.  Modern medicine, sanitation, clean water and safe sources of food have increased our life expectancy significantly.

Then there’s the day that you can never quite get right in your head. The day that changes how you look at life, and love, and the way you fit in the world. For me, that day was September 10, 2006. It was a Sunday, and my parents were over because we were going to take them out to celebrate their wedding anniversary, September 11th. The phone rang, my sister-in-law’s phone number showed on the caller ID, and because my husband was busy, I picked it up. I can still hear her voice in my head, incomprehensible words through screams and cries, “Krystine’s dead.”
Krystine, 2000

I could write pages and pages about the minute details of that day; for as crummy a memory as I have, the details of that day are crystal clear. I won’t do that, or at least I’ll try not to. But I do want to share some things with you, if you’ll indulge me.

Krystine Summer Lorenzana Cabalfin was my niece. She was the daughter of Edgar and Crisel Lorenzana, my husband’s oldest brother and his sister-in-law. She was a precocious little girl, and a vibrant young woman. She was the quintessential ‘social butterfly’ with an incredible array of friends and a very tight knit, though far strewn, family. At her funeral, when discussing who she was with the priest who would provide her eulogy, I described her as the family’s Social Director. She would’ve taken that title, willingly. Most importantly I considered Krystine not only my niece; she was a confidant and friend.

Krystine was married to Jose Cabalfin in January, 2001. Christopher Joel Cabalfin was born in 2001, and his little brother Matthew Ryan followed in 2002. The role of ‘Mom’ took a while for Krystine to manage; she was challenged with lots of what I called “loving interference” from the older women in the family. But when her daughter Emilyn was born, in 2005, Krystine had finally grown into her role as mother, wife, student, friend, and Ate (a Filipino word).

I like to tell the story of the last time I saw Krystine, because I find a lot of comfort in it. We were celebrating her older brother’s birthday; Edgar Jr, who we all call Jay-R, was celebrating his 29th birthday on September 2nd so we all got together at my in-laws.  Krystine was there with her family, and as the youngest, she was ‘working’ the party, preparing food, filling dishes, running errands, etc. all while trying to fulfill her role as the Social Director, Mom and Friend. It wasn’t going well…LOL. I came into the little kitchen and asked if I could help her wash the dirty dishes and she happily accepted. As we stood at the sink, shoulder to shoulder in the cramped space, she began to share with me how she was feeling about some of the things going on in her life, and as I normally did, I tried to make her feel she had the strength to handle it all. Because I knew she did. We were interrupted and she was called away, and hours later, as the party was winding down, Cas and I prepared to leave. I found Krystine, gave her a big hug and, as she squeezed me tightly, I said, "I love you, Tin" and she replied, "I love you too, Auntie Laura." Those are the last words she said to me. I treasure them like the gift they are, and I can smile, even with a sad heart when I think of her, because we shared that moment. 

Krystine died the morning of September 10, 2006. She died when her heart stopped beating while she was sleeping. There were many questions regarding her death because of her age and the fact that many in her family were/are in the healthcare profession. And none of us were prepared to lose her so soon, to put that date in that space in the software. As I scanned her funeral card, I was surprised at it’s simplicity. Because Tin was everything but simple. She was a shining light, a mother, a wife, a daughter, an Ate…and she was my friend.