Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Search the Census Free on Ancestry.com

Ancestry.com is allowing anyone to search all of the U.S. Census records  from August 29th - September 3rd for free. Yes, I said FREE!

We all LOVE FREE! So take advantage of this offer and see who you may discover in the census. Good Luck and Happy Hunting!!








I am taking a break from listening to my local station giving updates on Hurricane Isaac, all the flooding and the very strong feeder bands that constantly have bombarded my house all day, to let you know about this wonderful offer. I will take the opportunity to do some searching myself while I have still have electricity!

Wordless Wednesday- Sisters

 
Laura Edith, Ednamae Cecelia and Lucille Irma Wiese




Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Lives Changed, History Made

 Hurricane Katrina

Seven years is still not long enough to wipe away the pain of those still hot days following Hurricane Katrina.

Not long after the storm,  I sat down and wrote my story. Not that I would be likely to ever forget that time. But, because with time things become dulled and we do not remember the details quite so well. Now as we wait in the limbo of, is it going to hit here? or there? with the latest storm Isaac, it seems like it is bringing the memories into the present with such clarity once again.

Every year on August 17th my mother brought out her story. Hers was one she wrote of another devastating hurricane named Camille. We would all sit on her bed and listen to her read it to us with a tear choked voice. I was a part of the story as I was only five months old. My sister had just turned 8 the day before. I can remember her telling of the awful horror of emerging from the storm shelter to find the world as they knew it gone.  Swept away. The stories of those who died in the storm surge. Those who had a hurricane party in the apartments on the beach. Now all that was left was what would be forever known to us as the steps to nowhere. We were always told this was the big one. A once in a life time storm.

After Camille, all the hurricanes that struck through my growing up years are a blur to me. Very few were memorable enough to even remember their names. Every few years though we went through the routine of preparing for a storm that was about to strike. Buy batteries, flashlights. Make sure you had wicks and kerosene for the lanterns. Buy canned goods, and water. Set the ice box on full cold blast so the food would remain cold longer. Make plenty of ice and bag it up. Gas up the cars. Board up the windows, or tape them so if they broke the tape would hopefully keep the pieces from shattering.  Pick up all loose items outside. Hunker down and wait!

I think most folks around here would tell you that we don't listen to just weather man to tell us that a storm is headed our way. There is an age old feeling inbreed within us that tells you when one is really going to strike. You watch the signs. The eerie quiet. One day the birds will be flying and chattering and the next the air is still. The cicadas that have been buzzing in the late August heat have even become quiet. No animals can be seen. A sudden hot still air descends upon us. The pressure changes. You can feel it. Something is not right. 

Sometimes the weather forecast says the storm is headed another way, but from the moment you hear the name a knowing in your bones tells you they are wrong. This is what happened with Katrina. I knew in my bones. Something was telling me each time they changed her pattern that they were wrong she was ours. Her hot breath would descend upon our shores, it was our time.

Now time for us will always be known as BK and AK: Before Katrina, and After Katrina.

Preparing

It is Friday. There is a storm brewing out there and she is a monster of a storm. We are told once she hits the Gulf she will become a major hurricane. The fear takes hold of those who lived Camille. They knew what it was to survive such a monster. All day we can barely get through school, our minds are not on teaching today. We are worried about where this storm is going and what we are going to do. The teacher I worked with had plans to leave to Florida for safety. She was leaving right after work. The children started being checked out and we packed up the class getting it ready just in case. 

By the time I got home from school that day, they had said it was now supposed to head towards Alabama/Florida. I didn't feel that was going to happen. They always wobble to the west in the Gulf. I was frantic, I came home and started packing everything. I mean all my precious things that I could not live without. My children's christening gowns, their baby clothes, their baby photos and books. My precious heirlooms. Enough clothes to last a month, even sets of winter clothes, and nice clothes. I sat all night and backed up my files from the computer. All the while listening to the forecast. 

I barely slept that night. I remember waking about 5am and putting on the news to hear the latest. I sat there in the dark on the edge of my bed, and heard the news. Katrina was now predicted to hit  Waveland, Ms. It was like turning back the clock to Camille. 

I called my husband who was working at the fire department. He said he would be home to help in a few hours. Now I was in a frenzy. I was moving about on full speed. I don't think I stopped to eat.  My home would be gone, this I knew in my heart. So, now I had to get everything out. We had decided to move our furniture to my husband's father's home. He lived well inland from the coast, although closer to where the eye was going to come in, we felt it would be safer there.


So, while my husband and the two boys loaded trailer after trailer load of our furniture and took the thirty minute trip each way north to his father's house, I ran to the school. They had our checks ready for us. I also needed to go back through our class and lock stuff up to make it more secure being it would be used as a shelter. I will never forget our principal, he was in a frenzy trying to get the school ready to be opened as a shelter, and worried about his own family and home. He handed me the stack of checks and asked me to put them in everyone's mail box for him so they could just grab them when they came in.

Back home I continued to wash all the clothes, so as not to leave any dirty and pack and make lists of our property. I then went out and took photos of everything. By evening the winds were picking up and we started getting the first feeder bands. My mother called worried that we were not there yet. We were still busy locking the house up tight with boards and checking tie downs.

Waiting

We finally made it to my mother's house around 10pm that night. I can remember everyone chatting and talking in those high nervous voices. My nerves were shot. I didn't want to talk. I just needed to sleep. Around midnight everyone decided to try to sleep. My family of five made pallets on my mother's living room floor. I was lying under the large window and could hear the wind and rain outside. I took my little radio out and put my ear phone in my ear and laid there for hours listening to them talk about the storm and what it was doing.

Around 5am my mother got up and started cooking breakfast. She made bacon, and donuts out of canned biscuits. Little did we know then that this would be the last REAL home cooked meal we would have for weeks. She just finished up when at 6:03am the lights went out. We did not have electricity again for over three weeks.

Katrina


The winds really picked up. The trees we could see through the windows bending nearly to the ground. I watched as my parents shingles flew off their house and slammed into my vehicle parked outside. To this day it has those shingle scrapes etched into the windshield and side glass. We stood and watched the neighbors porch roof rip slowly off their house. We prayed as my parents garage roof lifted with each gust, you could see the cracks forming. The house groaned and shifted. It was terrifying. I knew in my heart if we were this far from the coast and we were having such a bad time ourselves that the coast must be gone.

My Aunt and Uncle live five blocks from the beach. Just over the railroad tracks which were sort of a barrier being they were built up high. So, they had a sort of levee between them and the gulf. Or so we hoped. My husband came and gave me the news I could not tell my mother. That the road my Aunt and Uncle lived on was so flooded that there was furniture floating down the street. Some of his firemen had tried to get down it due to a distress call from a tornado and could not.

The radio itself was torture to listen to. The calls were coming in from people who were in their attics. They were trapped in there by the rising water in their homes. They were asking for help. No, help could come. I went into my sister's old bedroom and lay on her bed facing the wall. My husband said for me to come out because we all needed to be together in case we had to get out. I could hear the stress and worry in his voice. I was numb inside. My mind was weary. I thought my mother's sister and brother were dead. I couldn't think anymore it was making me ill. I told him no, I was staying there.

Our cell phones wouldn't work. We couldn't contact my sister who lived in Connecticut. We had no idea that she thought us all dead. It seemed like the longest day of my life and it was only 10am. In such a few short hours our lives were so drastically changed. It did something to us. Made us a little crazy in the head for listening to those reports.

Around noon the winds shifted and my husband thought that he and I could get out and we would try to go south to my Aunt and Uncle to see if they were okay and get them out. We got in the truck and with shock we saw that at the end of my parents road where the hospital parking lot was located, that the cars in it were floating. The bayou had flooded in the storm surge and if my parent's did not live upon a hill we would have flooded too.

We had to go around. Each place we went we were blocked by trees and downed power lines. We had to back up several times to finally get to the highway. Down the highway the poles were down and laying across the roads, and we could see the devastation all around us. The Wal-Mart looked as though it were sitting in a pool. The hotel where they had put the sea lions from our Marine Life Aquarium, was washed out. The poor sea lions were flooded out of the pool. Suddenly we could go no further. We saw water. Water where it should not be. It looked as if the Gulf itself were in front of us.

I can remember crying and I said is that water? Is that the Gulf? My husband said, it is the storm surge. There was a line of police cars across the highway as a blockade. We could go no further.

We turned around and went back to my mother's. We told them what we had seen. Now we were going to try to make it to our house. My husband loaded up the chain saw and we headed off once again. We had to stop several times to cut trees and move them out of our way. We could see people staring at us through their taped up windows. They probably thought we were crazy. The wind gusts blew so hard I could barely stand up. Once he was out cutting a tree and I screamed a tornado, a tornado is coming. We both jumped back in the truck and waited until it had passed. It was so terrifying.

Our road was blocked, it looked like a whole forest of  power lines and trees had piled up in front of us. So, we backed up and went around, we cut and cut trees, finally we got to the houses in back of our land. We parked and trudged through the woods. The trees swayed and cracked around us. I worried that they would fall on us and no one would find us in the woods for weeks. The water was so high. It was up to my thighs. It made it hard to walk. I had to crawl over large trees that had come down. I remember looking at how all the trees were bent a certain way. It was strange. They never straightened, they all go to the right now.

Finally through the tall grasses, and trees, I could make it out. The back of our house. It was still standing. I always think of it as Scarlett O'Hara in Gone With The Wind. When the mist lifts and she saw Tara. I said, "It's there. It's still there!"

I ran, ran through the water, through the rain until I got to my back yard. My tin roof was ripped off my house. Part of it was laying in the pool as though someone neatly laid it there. The water had ripples and waves in it and was so clear. My back porch was underwater. A tree was on the shed. and the wooden privacy fence was down in spots. A window was broken out and my curtain was flapping in the wind. We went into the house and it was eerie how still it was, the carpet was soaking wet. The roof was gone. Thank God we had taken the new furniture out.

The strange thing was I remember picking up the phone. It still had a dial tone. In all the destruction, I still had a dial tone. I called my mother's house and she answered. We marveled that some small miracle had allowed me to get through to her on her phone.

We boarded up the window, spoke to the neighbors. Told them where we would be. Told them to use the water in the pool for washing, and flushing their toilets, and we left. It would be over a week before I would be able to go back.

When we got back to my mother's we told of all that had happened. I showed the videos I had taken. Then we were silent for awhile. My husband said he had to leave. He had to go to work as it was his civic duty. He was a district chief for the city fire station. I did not see my husband again for four days.

Afterwards

That night I lay there in my sister's old bed in her old room in my mother's house while everyone else sat around my mother's table playing Yahtzee. I was sick, heart sick. The place I knew and loved was changed forever. The window was open and I must have dozed off because I awoke to hear a truck pulling up outside. It was several of the firefighters from the nearby station. My husband had sent them to let us know that he had made it to my Aunt and Uncle's and they were alive. The house was damaged but they were alive.

My Aunt can only recall that she spent the entire storm bailing water out of the house. She says it was coming down the walls the water. Seeping in through the doors, the very foundation of the house. It was all she did the entire storm, bail water. 

The next morning I was lying there in my sisters bed and the phone rang. I could not believe it. I grabbed it and it was a cousin from Virginia. He had tried to call all night and had finally gotten through. I was able to tell him we were all alive, and in return he was able to tell me of the news footage that showed the total destruction of our coast. I went to wake my mother and tell her that her cousin was on the phone for her. Then took out  the battery operated tv and tried once again to get a signal. No luck. The towers were gone at the local station. The phone did not work again after that. I was so strange that he got through at all.

All day we heard the whine of chain saws. The noise of helicopters flying over head was constant. I felt as though we were in a war zone. 

That evening we heard that there were going to be some trucks with ice for us and they were at the grocery store. My daughter and I drove down and stood there in line waiting with hundreds of other people. I had never seen so many people looking so sad and scared. It was so hot. We stood for so long. They first told us at 8 they would start distributing then it was later. Then men with guns pulled up in military trucks and we were told to leave. We were not getting this ice. 

I went to my car and cried. Ice, my God. Who would have thought that ice would have meant this much to anyone. They wouldn't let us have the ice. Now we had been nearly 48 hours without electricity and our food would spoil without ice. For the first time in my life I was worried about what I was going to feed my children. The stores were gone. Two Wal-Mart's completely washed away along with many other stores. What was there had no way of operating.

We then heard that there was ice being sold down the road in the parking lot of a store. We went down to see and sure enough they were selling ice. For five dollars a bag. My Gosh! How could anyone try to make a profit off ice and the poor souls who needed it! We sadly had to buy several bags. I mean we needed ice and they knew it. Shame on them!

The next day we were told that they had stations set up and we could get some ice and water. We drove through a long line and the National Guard loaded ice and water into our vehicles for us. Thank God for them. Their kindness to us and concern is something I will never forget. A bag of ice did not last long in the heat and we had to go twice a day to get a bag.

I took to sitting in my sister's room. I did nothing. I couldn't think. I didn't want to . I was scared. What were we going to do? I heard a beep from my phone. It was a text message from my sister in Connecticut. She said, Are ya'll okay? Please let me know. Can you text? I did not have text on my phone. I cried and cried. My sister thinks we are dead and I can't tell her we are alive.


That evening was the same as each day, hot and miserable. We had gone to get our ice and we ate our sandwiches for supper and my mother and kids went to play Yahtzee. I went outside to sit in the dark, and realized my cell phone needed to be charged. I went to my car and plugged it in and shut the door and turned the key to feel the air conditioner for a short while not caring if I was wasting precious gas. Then the phone rang. It rang!! It was a number that I did not know. I answered and it was a friend of my sister's and she said Michelle? I said YES! I was so happy to talk to someone. She said, "Oh my God! Is everyone okay?" I said yes and started crying hysterically. She was crying and she said "Let me call your sister and put you in on a three way call I don't want to risk losing you we have all tried so hard to get you guys." I hear her say to my sister I have Michelle on the line. Then I hear my sister's voice. She says Michelle? We both were crying. I had to get on the roof of my truck to get a signal because it started going out, and we both kept saying Can you hear me now? Like the stupid commercial. I could hear some of the neighbors chuckling in the dark from their porch as I was saying it. I was finally able to hear her and we were both laughing and crying and happy, and here I am standing on the roof of my truck. It was the best moment of my life.

I told her how bad it was. How we were under a military rule and we had nothing. We had no food because we couldn't cook what was in the freezer because we had no electricity and it was going bad because it wasn't cold. We were living off bread and ham, and it was nearly gone. She said they were leaving the next day, they were stopping at various friends and family along the way to pick up supplies each had gathered for us. Gas, food, money you name it they had it. I said there is no airport and the interstate is gone washed away in parts, you can't come. There is no way. She said, We will be there!

I went in and told my mother they were coming. The next day my husband finally came home. He was exhausted. He had seen many terrible things. He had to search the rubble for the bodies of those who did not make it. The fire station where he worked was located on the beach and it had been washed away in the storm surge. He lost all of the things he kept at the station. They found his helmet about a mile down from the station, it was the only thing they found.

He was able to come home finally because of the generosity of firemen from other states that came in and took over for them so they could go home and take care of their families. We were so happy to see him and he brought us real food a pizza. Dominos had set up a mobile truck for the emergency workers. I felt guilty eating it when others had nothing. He said we needed to try to get gas and see what we could find. So we all loaded up in the truck, and went out on the one lane of the interstate that was open to Alabama. There was no gas. We finally had to turn around.

On the way back we found a Lowe's hardware store that was open and we were able to get a generator. This was good news. Now we just needed gas. We heard there was a Kmart open. So we drove there. We stood in a line for over two hours. They were letting five people in at a time. We were allowed in and we had to work fast, get what we needed. Another lantern flashlight, a hand operated can opener, paper towels, water, baby wipes (for us to use as makeshift baths) bread, duct tape, hygiene products, animal food, these were things we needed and more. We got what we could and left feeling like it was Christmas with all these things in the back of the truck.

Now when we went through our daily routine of going through the line to get water, they gave us food! Canned goods and things that wonderful people from all over America had sent in for us. Little Debbie snacks, bread, canned goods, cereals. They also gave us boxes of something called MRE'S I had no idea what this was. My father who was retired military informed us that these were meals ready to eat, military rations.One of the guys peered into my truck and saw my daughter sitting there. He said wait and walked back to a pile of boxes. He dug in the box and brought something back. It was a purple lunch box. He gave it to my daughter. In it was a note from two lovely ladies from South Carolina. They wished us well and were praying for all of us. I later contacted the newspaper for the town given on the note and told them to please put my letter in their paper thanking whomever had sent the lunch box. It made us know how truly wonderful people really were.

That night I sat outside and cried quietly in the darkness. I did not want to stress my mother any more that she was, or my children. I had been so worried. I had felt such a responsibility to feed all these people and how were we going to eat. I had lost so much weight because I mainly drank water, and ate ice cubes, and took very little food from fear of my children having nothing to eat.

Seven days after the storm, my sister and brother in law made it in. They could not believe what they had seen. It was one thing to hear about it on the news but to see it with your own eyes made it real. I can never thank them and those that helped us out enough! We went and got a window air conditioner and used the generator to cool the living room off for our 90 year old aunt who we had brought over to stay with us. We ran it only a few hours at night. But it was heaven to sit in the living room. My mother hung blankets to partition the living room off from the rest of the house to keep the air in there.

The greatest thing that happened was that after seven days we realized we had a trickle of cold water coming from the faucet. Of course we could not drink it, but we could finally wash up. That cold water felt so good! A real shower, in the dark with flashlights and candles. This was a treat. Now we could also wash our clothing in the tub and hang them out to dry.

My sister had brought us plenty of food in a cooler and now we just had to keep ice on it everyday! They also brought cans and cans of gas. They had stopped in each state and friends and family members donated things to us. They will never know exactly what this meant to us. My sister stayed about three days and decided to go home because it was a hardship on us and our food supply to have them there and although they would worry about us and we would miss them, they had to go.

With my aunt, uncle and great aunt also living with my parents, I made the decision to go back to my own home. Although we had no roof and it was wet and smelled of mildew it would be better for us to go home. We spent the day pulling out the wet carpet and dragging it to the road. After a while the end of our yard became a humongous pile if trash and debris. Everywhere you looked there were piles of debris. Twenty years of marriage, twenty years of children, and life, thrown into a debris pile. But we were lucky, we were alive and together.

While cleaning the debris, we had some injuries, while attempting to stand our power meter pole up that had snapped off at the bottom, the strap broke and the pole hit a glancing blow on my shoulder. Making me black and blue and possibly breaking my collar bone. We don't know because I wouldn't go to the Navy Ship or the MASH tents for an xray. But, I could barely move it for months. While removing the large sheet of tin from the pool it sliced my husband's arm open. I had to take him to the MASH tents set up as temporary hospitals in our flooded out hospital parking lot to get stitched up.

My husband had gotten some blue tarps and they put them on our roof. That was our protection from the rain. I pulled the mattress off the bed and let it air out and dry outside. Everything inside was bleached and then we slept on the living room floor on our mattresses. We did this until November when we became the proud recipients of a FEMA trailer.

Now

Seven years later, I still refuse to drive near the beach. My husband used his pass to take us down to the beach about a week after Katrina had hit. What I saw I will never forget. I do not want to see the emptiness still there seven years later. The tattered trees that were once majestic oaks break my heart. The beautiful antebellum homes that lined our coast are gone. Few have rebuilt.It is a stark reminder of that day.

We now live further north from the coast. Our old home having been condemned. There is a great sadness in me that I fear will never go away. My life forever changed that day. We struggled and came together as neighbors and friends. If one needed gas or food we shared what we had with one another. We worked to clean and clear the debris together, shoulder to shoulder. When the levees broke in Louisiana, and the people stood out on their rooftops and the over passes, the media went wild with their story. We here in Mississippi were forgotten. We did not wait for the help to come. We made what we had left work for us. Some lived in their sheds or tents because that was all they had left. Neighbors took in neighbors. We took care of us, and when we received help, we appreciated what we were given.

This is my story, my remembrances of that terrible time.




Saturday, August 25, 2012

Surname Saturday- Strahan

Moses Strahan was born in North Carolina where he later married Rachael Howard. He was a veteran on the Revolutionary War. The Strahan family moved to first  Georgia and then the Alabama Territory. He later moved his  family on to a settlement on the Pearl River. He died in Copiah County, Mississippi. Moses is listed as the 100th person to sign the petition regarding the boundary line of the State of Mississippi and the Alabama Territory.

 The children of Moses and Rachael Strahan:

  • Temperance Strahan
  • Asa Strahan
  • Moses Strahan
  • Cornelius Neal Strahan
  • Elijah Strahan





Friday, August 24, 2012

I am an Obituary Addict

I admit it, I am an obituary addict. I scan the papers daily for someone who may have died that I know. But I don't stop there, I even had a funeral home email each time they get a new obituary typed up for the paper. Most people would think this was a strange pastime, and some may even be very critical of me thinking I am waiting for them to die.Many times I am using those obits for my genealogy research, and yes, more recent names and dates do help further my research.

But, I am also a funeral frequenter. Yes, that is right! An obituary addict AND a funeral frequenter. That's me. I have dragged my husband into this by getting him to frequent funerals with me until we have become some kind of a fixture at the funeral home.

How can you tell if you are a funeral frequenter? When you are friends with the funeral director and he knows you by name just because he sees you so often..... this would be a number one sign of a funeral frequenter. The number two sign is when you see the same people at each funeral and know that they are funeral frequenter's too.

Funeral's are a wonderful way to pay tribute to a person's life and while you are there you get to see and visit with many other relatives you have not seen in awhile. Stories are always told, tears shed and there is laughter too as we remember the good times.

Then of course there is the cemetery stalker. I think there is not a more peaceful place to be found than a cemetery. I could walk round those stones all day, and read them all. At each lonely, weed grown stone, I stop, pull away the weeds and say you are not forgotten today.

Death lurks at all our doors, we don't know when, how or where. I hope that when my time comes, someone is reading my life story in an obituary, attending my funeral, and stopping by to pull a few weeds from my grave.




Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Tombstone Tuesday- Zeno Necaise

Zeno Necaise 
July 17, 1858-December 12, 1928
Buried Necaise Crossing Cemetery





Zeno Necaise was the son of Evariste Nicaise and Eleanore Dedeaux. He married Rose Marie Moran. They had eleven children.




Monday, August 20, 2012

The Census As a Resource

So, what keeps me clicking the link each day to Ancestry? The census records would be my number one answer!

Recently there was a rather heated debate over public versus private trees. While I do keep my main tree private, I also broke my tree down into individual surname branches which I list as public. It seems that this subject is nearly as volatile as discussing politics. Everyone has an opinion and feels their opinion is right. And so it is.

I myself keep my online tree updated only for issues such as loss of data. Being I live in a hurricane state this is most important to me. My data is always keyed in on the archaic Family Tree Maker Vol 6. Yes, 6! I have bought the others and I peronally do not care for them. So it is back to my handy dandy 6. We are comfortable with one another and I do not mind that at each start up my computer tells me that it is not compatible with the new windows. I just say that's what you think, and override it each day. Sure I may not be able to use the online portion anymore, but I never used that anyway.

 The census records are what I am really there for! They are what pull me in each day. The constant search is a challenge that I love and then the rush when you find whom you are looking for.

I also use the Shoebox in order to save things I may like to find quickly again. It is so handy right there on the dashboard, and I can quickly pull something up that I would like to go back over. Another of my favorites is the message boards! I can not say enough about those. Use them people!

The birth and marriage records are another wonderful source I use on Ancestry. Many times I have found persons I needed and then was able to order those records from the appropriate places thanks to the information provided.

Webinars! Watch one today! Even old dogs learn new tricks, you never know what you may pick up!

While many think the family tree's themselves are the backbone of Ancestry, I have always felt it was the many other valuable resources to be found on the site. Namely the census records. After all the first people to start out on Ancestry had to start those trees from scratch using those records as their basis.





Sunday, August 19, 2012

Louisiana Record Hunting? Try Here!

I can credit many of my armchair genealogy finds to the Louisiana Archives website. Especially the Orleans Parish page. Here you can find many records indexed by those generous souls who are the heart of the website.

You can find baptism, birth, marriage, and death indexes as well as many many others. Most records can be ordered from the archives and they provide the address and information on how to go about this.

I would also like to commend the Louisiana Secretary of State's office for also making the process of finding and ordering birth, marriage and death records so much easier for genealogists.

The Louisiana Biography & Obituary Index is another wonderful source. Here you can search by name in the obituary index and order the records thanks to the New Orleans Library and the Historic New Orleans Collection. I would like to personally thank them for copying a delicate 1850 German newspaper for me with my 3rd great grandfather's obit in it. It made the world of difference to my research.

I would hope to see other states follow the wonderful example that the Louisiana Archives has set towards making it easier for those to find their ancestors and be able to order the actual records.




Alzheimer's Disease and Grandmother

"Are you my kin folk?" this was the question I heard from my Grandmother time and time again. We would patiently say over and over again, I am your grandchild, your son, your daughter in law, your great grandchild or your sister. "My son died you know." would often times be heard from my grandmother to her only child. Her son who was very much alive, my father.  My father would just say, "No mother I am your son, I am alive." Yet it didn't matter. Her mind told her he was dead and that was that. Somehow the wires in her mind must have mixed up the terrible car accident that she, my father and grandfather were all in many years ago, and she now thought that her son died in a car accident. Sometimes I would sit across from her and sigh and think to myself why am I even bothering to correct her as to who I am, it does not matter. So, I stopped. I would only say the first time, "Hello grandmother, it is me Michelle, your granddaughter, and here are your great grandchildren." After that what did it matter who she thought I was? It was just being that mattered now.

One cannot imagine the pain of someone you love not recognizing your face, no longer knowing your name. It is the worst disease, to have your very memories locked away, never to be found again.

Yet, somewhere in this I learned to find the good. I learned so much more from my grandmother now that her mind was gone. You just had to listen. You had to learn to ask the right questions. She was a girl again. Her parents were still living and her five sisters were all together in the old home place.

She was coming in from a hard day planting in the field with her sisters, or stuck in the house watching her youngest sister and then getting in trouble for things that her little sister had done. She talked as if these things happened yesterday. She talked of her Grandfather the minister. Of her father passing away, her mother moving them to Gulfport. Her job in the sock factory. School, walking home on the railroad tracks. Going to a dance, and what boy she liked.

Her recent memories were forever gone, but her first memories were still there. Yes, it still hurt not to have her know you anymore. Not to know that for the last ten years while she was locked in the past her great grandchildren had graduated school and college. But, we learned much from her during those years. I would hide the pain away inside and quietly cry later when no one could see. 

My terror is one day losing my memories too. I often think if I write everything down now then it will at least give my family something to hang on to as to who I am now. I sometimes wonder what it is like locked away a prisoner of your own mind. Now my mind plays inside my head like a movie of memories. What happens when your thoughts are interrupted by crossed signals? Do the memories still play, or is it still and quiet? I do not think I could stand the quiet. But then I would not know.

I was grateful that she finally was able to leave the world behind and go off to a place where her mind would be free.

I love and miss my Grandmother everyday. She was 90 when she died last year. A little bit of a thing, light as a feather, with black hair that showed very little grey even at this great age. Her once sparkly grey eyes, now rheumy with age. I loved her and she loved me, that I know. That is all that ever mattered. Whether she knew me in the end was irrelevant. It was that she ever knew me at all that was most important.





Saturday, August 18, 2012

Something is Telling Me the End of Summer is Near

One day you wake up and there they are. They are everywhere, flying in your hair, landing on your body, and sticking to your car. Nearly every surface is covered with them. Love Bugs! They appear virtually overnight, and the air is thick with the mating little souls. I can barely stand to go outside because the tickle of them constantly crawling across me is annoying. Twice a year we are bombarded with their presence. In the spring and then again in the late summer. So when we see the little creatures we know for certain that the hot humid summer is nearly at an end.

My favorite end of summer insect is the cicada. That low hum of their wings on a humid day is music to my ears. I was standing outside at recess with my class a few years ago and the hum was so loud that the kids asked what is that? I was happy to tell them it was the creature whose shell of a body they loved to find stuck to the trees after his molt. A few days later they were yelling excitedly for me to come and see, they had found a cicada in the process of molting. We stood silent around the magnolia tree for about twenty minute while he slowly emerged from his old shell. The child who discovered him got the prize of the shell to take home.
The sound is somewhat soothing to me, and I often think I should be laying on a hammock in the shade listening to the hum of those cicadas lulling me into drowsiness. 

Then there is the most beautiful sign, and no it's not the leaves. Our leaves usually don't turn until October or later. It is the Monarch butterfly.The old saying goes that when you see the Monarch butterfly expect cold weather in about six weeks.


The roadsides and fields are beginning to fill with Black Eyed Susan's and many a child can be seen dancing among them.

Okay maybe the sweltering heat is getting to me and I am just dreaming of cooler days!!





Surname Saturday- Menge

The Menge family of Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana

Anton Menge came to America in the 1820's from Prussia. He later settled in Plaquemines Parish and married Catherine Conrad and had six children. They owned an orange farm in the parish. Anton was a coppersmith and later became known for his invention of the Menge Elevated Dredge. This invention was instrumental to canal dredging and is still in use today. After the Civil War he built a fire engine for the city of New Orleans and was also a fireman.

  • Joseph Menge born August 8, 1846
  • William Menge born 1848
  • Alma Menge born 1850
  • Antoinette "Nettie" Menge born 1852
  • John Menge born September 10, 1858
  • Anton C. Menge born 1861

 The family was a very well known prominent one, who spread out from Louisiana to Florida. The old papers are full of stories of there deeds and contributions to the times.

Joseph Menge improved upon his father's pump and opened the Menge Patent Pumps which is still in operation today as makers of irrigation and draining pumps. He also invented a machine used to separate chaff from rice, the lamp stove, a dredging bucket and the rotary pump.

There is a patent from Anton C. Menge for an insect destroying device, as well as a water filter.





Friday, August 17, 2012

Friday Finds- Aunt Rita

 I rarely check family trees but for some reason I did a search on a few specific people I had been having trouble finding more information on. I was surprised to see my grandfather's Aunt Rita listed in someone's tree. I contacted the lady and she replied that she herself did not know much, but her aunt did and she would ask her and let me know. The reply I received was worth more than gold to me.This gives me a glimpse into the life of Aunt Rita and that means the world to me.

"Rita was really sweet and loved the slot machines at the corner grocery in Bay St. Louis on Washington. And she loved my sister Dolores Gerhardt. My sister would spend time with Rita and Joe and go fishing. And he would sell fish by the bunch. He was a caretaker for Higgins, a beautiful home on the beach. Higgins owned the Higgins factory in New Orleans where they made the PT boats for WWII. They lived together a long time before they got married. They got married in the 40's in a Catholic church (Our Lady of the Gulf) and never had any children. They both are buried in Cedar Rest Cemetery. That picture was taken in the back of the Higgins home. Rita cooked by a wooden stove and never had electricity or water in the house.
She didn't work outside the home. Uncle Joe and Aunt Rita had a 3 room house, a kitchen and 2 bedrooms. I called her Aunt Reetah."




Thursday, August 16, 2012

Those Places Thursday- A Coast Landmark

The S.S. Hurricane Camille
Gulfport, Ms


I miss this old rusty tugboat, I really do! I can not to this day travel down Highway 90 and look in the spot it should be. I feel slightly sick. I know times change, things happen and life goes on. Yet, this silly little boat was a part of me. The day they destroyed her, I cried so much my kids thought I was crazy. 

I was five months old in 1969 when Hurricane Camille struck. My mother says I gave my first deep belly laugh during the middle of the storm as we were all taking shelter in a local school. Half that school collapsed. The Hurricane was one of the worst to strike the U.S. Mississippi was devastated. 

A large tug boat had washed up on the north side of the highway and a little souvenir shop was built right next to it. It became a local landmark.

I can remember going fishing down on the pier with my grandfather and looking at the boat from the beach. The whole time I would be trying to think how I could get him to bring me over to it after we had finished fishing. I would stand in awe staring up at this tug and ask for the story of how it got there again. Some days we would take my grandparents to eat at the IHOP a few doors down and afterwards I would beg to go to the S.S. Camille. Sometimes we went into the shop and my grandmother would give me a dollar or two to buy something. I would often buy shells, which infuriated my mother because she said I could get them for free on the beach. Here though I could get a whole sand dollar, on the beach I could only find pieces. Somehow this boat had become a part of our lives, ordinary visits with my grandparents became more memorable because of it.

Oh how I loved that place! Then came another hurricane, this one named Katrina and although the tugboat stayed put, the shop was washed away. The S.S. Camille was battered and bullied, and while there were those who begged and prayed that she be restored, the decision was made to remove her completely. 

Now, as with most of our coastline down Highway 90 there is nothing left but memories.







Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The Eight Flags of Mississippi

Eight Flags

Before Hurricane Katrina there was a display along the coast highway that had eight very tall flag poles with the eight flags that once presided over Mississippi in different eras. Now just as I was feeling all nostalgic about those flags I saw in the local paper on Saturday that the eight flags are finally flying once again. 

Original display on the beach.



The first flag represents France. Since LaSalle was the first to claim the Mississippi River the French flag was flown from 1682 until 1783.
The second flag to be flown was the British. After the French and Indian War the British claimed the lower portion of Mississippi as part of their West Florida Colony. It flew from 1763-1779.


The third flag was that of Spain. Spain seized the lands of West Florida from the control of the British while they were elsewhere employed with a much bigger event called the Revolution. The Spanish flag flew from 1779-1785.

The fourth flag to be flown was the American flag. Mississippi became U.S. territory in 1798. The flag flew from 1798-1818.



Then there is the flag that flew for 74 days. The flag of the Republic of West Florida. The flag was known as the Bonnie Blue Flag. After the Louisiana Purchase in 1803 the Spanish refused to leave. In 1810 the Mississippians rebelled against the Spanish and overturned their authority becoming their own Republic for 74 days in 1810. They then applied for statehood. That was when the coastal region was brought into the territory of Mississippi.





The next flag to fly was the Mississippi Magnolia Flag which was flown after succession from the Union. It was flown from January 9, 1861- March 27, 1861.



After the short lived Magnolia flag we had the Stars and Bars of the Confederacy. It flew from 1861-1865.






The 8th and last flag flown is the flag of the State of Mississippi from 1894-Present. 




The new eight flags display.




Tombstone Tuesday- Etienne Ladner

Etienne Ladner 
January 12, 1885-June 27, 1926 
Woodman of the World
Waveland Cemetery, Ms

Etienne Ladner was the son of Etienne V. Ladner and Delphine Nicaise, he married Eva Roth. They had eleven children. His name is pronounced Eee-T-Ann, or A-shan, it is french for the name Stephen. Etienne was hit by a car of teenagers as he was walking down the road, he died before making it to the hospital. He was known as Uncle Man to his family. He was a carpenter, fisherman, and shipbuilder by trade. He built the first commercial building on the Coast. An automotive garage for the Martinolich family. He was greatly loved and adored by my grandfather, who passed his memory on to me, his great granddaughter.





Monday, August 13, 2012

Mystery Monday- Who Are They?

Last summer my aunt took out the box of old photos from the safe for me to look through. There was one photo though that she had no idea who was in it. I took it to scan anyway because it was such an endearing photo. The children are either from our Wiese family or the Delherbe family being they were part of my grandmother's collection. I hope to one day be able to determine just who these children were.





Sunday, August 12, 2012

Sentimental Sunday- School Days

School Days

Well, since school has started back around here this week it has me thinking about those good old school days. Playing on the playground, trying to hang on to the merry-go-round without flying off, reading Fun With Dick and Jane primers, the smell of those purple copies, chalk dust and begging to bang the erasers. Then you always had that one strange kid who ate the paste. We all have memories of school, but have we ever thought about passing those memories on to others? I cherish knowing what those times were like for my parents and grandparents.

I always loved hearing my grandfather tell of his school days. It seems like yesterday that I drove him by his old school house. He wanted me to get a picture of it and I did. Sadly I lost the photo due to a computer malfunction (Lesson learned! Back it up!) and thought to go back one day to take another. Then tragedy struck in the form of Hurricane Katrina, and the school was completely destroyed. Thankfully, others had photos and I still have his stories.

Vintage photo from the Hancock County Historical Society

As told by William Victor Ladner, "I started school in 1913. The old school house was is in the town hall. We had four classrooms and a stage. Every year I'd be in a play, once I was a Japanese. There was a pot bellied stove to keep the school warm and a big pile of pine knots that were used to light it. Whenever you did something bad the teacher made you kneel on those pine knots and boy did they hurt. At Christmas we had a tree with candles on it. It is amazing how that didn't burn down. Once a teacher hit me across the face with a switch. Uncle Semore Nicaise was on the school board back then and boy he got on to that teacher for it. Back then you could whip a kid, but you couldn't hit anyone in the face like that."



Saturday, August 11, 2012

Surname Saturday- Conrad

Conrad

The orange trees of Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana is what my grandmother always said was the reason her German family came to live in the south. She said that when they came down the Mississippi River and her great grandfather saw those trees he knew he was home. The family later owned and operated an orange plantation in the parish and the Conrad family became a well known  prominent family of the time.

Jacob Conrad along with his wife Catherine and their five children immigrated from Germany before 1838. According to the eldest daughter Catherine Conrad Menge, they came in through New York, with the intention of going to Louisiana where Jacob had bought land, but first they went to Ohio, where they had my great great grandmother, Margaret Conrad Booth Wiese. They next moved on to Mount Pleasant, Missouri. According to Catherine the family traveled the country in a Prairie Schooner, before finally settling in Plaquemines Parish, La.

A Prairie Schooner

Jacob and Catherine Conrad

  • Frederick Conrad born 1823, Germany
  • Catherine Conrad born January 1824, Germany married Anton Menge
  • Sophia Conrad born 1829, Germany
  • George P. Conrad born 1831, Germany
  • John Conrad born 1835, Germany
  • Margaret A. Conrad born December 29, 1838, Ohio 
  • Barbara Conrad 
  • Mary Conrad
Catherine Conrad married Anton Menge who was a famous inventor of his time. His son would go on to also be a famous inventor, as well as a very good friend of Thomas Edison. I was lucky enough to come across a history book which gave details of the life of John Frederick Menge, where he gave his mother's account of her families immigration.



Friday, August 10, 2012

Friday Finds-Castle Garden

There is a great site that I came across many years ago called Castle Garden. It is run by a non profit educational corporation called The Battery Conservancy. Their goal was to rebuild and revitalize the Battery and Castle Clinton National Monument in New York.

On the website you can search immigration records from 1820 -1913 for those immigrants entering America through New York.

My Castle Garden Finds

Last Name First Name Age Sex
Arrival Date Place of Last Residence
DELHERB ANTUANETTE 47 F 6 Sep 1839 UNKNOWN
DELHERB ELISABETH 20 F 6 Sep 1839 UNKNOWN
DELHERB FRANCOIS 11 M 6 Sep 1839 UNKNOWN
DELHERB JOSEPH 16 M 6 Sep 1839 UNKNOWN
DELHERB MARIA 14 F 6 Sep 1839 UNKNOWN
DELHERB PIERRE 8 M 6 Sep 1839 UNKNOWN


The DeL'Herbe family that came from France to New York, with Francois later moving to Georgia, and Marie going to New Orleans, La. Pierre and Elisabeth both stayed in New York and raised families there. 





Thursday, August 9, 2012

Those Places Thursday- St. Maurice Church, New Orleans

My Aunt gave me a most precious gift the other day, a copy of my grandmother's baptismal certificate. There was not much information listed that I did not already know except for the names of her godparents. The most important thing to me was finding out which church she was baptized in. I know she had told me many times during my childhood, but now many years later I could not remember which church it was. There are several Catholic Churches in the New Orleans area, so now I am saved the time and effort of searching for the correct one. Now on my next visit I will be sure to stop by and visit a moment. Just as we used to when we were visiting with her.

 New Orleans Churches
HISTORY OF SAINT MAURICE PARISH
The Catholic community of St. Maurice was founded Nov. 7, 1852. Father Charles Mangin, who was an assistant priest at the Ursuline Convent, celebrated a Mass at Faubourg LaCourie near the military installation which is now Jackson Barracks. The mass was celebrated in the home of a parishioner who had allowed his home to be used as a chapel.
The present St. Maurice Church was completed in 1857 and solemnly blessed on Dec. 13, 1852. The property, consisting of five lots bounded by Royal, St. Maurice, Tricou and Chartres streets, had been purchased in 1852 for the church . Even though the parish was located in New Orleans, it served the residents of upper St. Bernard and is still considered an important part of the St. Bernard community.




Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Tombstone Tuesday-Louis Stravapodie

Stravapodie

Louis Stravapodie was born October 3, 1892 in Hancock County, Ms.  He died on March 26, 1915 and was buried in the Wolf River Cemetery. Louis was the son of Josephine Strahan and Joseph Franklin Stravapodie. His grandfather was Epaminondas Stravapodis who was a Greek immigrant. He was the brother of Victoria Stravapodie Hurst.