Sunday, January 20, 2013

A Sense of Community

This morning, as I was checking Facebook, I noticed a post by one of my favorite bloggers and promptly clicked on it to read. It was a follow-up story about an award she had received and I was surprised to see my name listed as one of the blogs she was recognizing. My first award! 
I am coming up on my one year anniversary of blogging and it has been the best thing I've ever done in the realm of genealogy.  I love genealogy and like most I am self-taught. I'd been plugging away on gathering names and dates without focus or clear purpose for almost 10 years. Blogging has given me a community of like-minded people who are interesting, fun, and most of all helpful! I learn research techniques which greatly enhance my skill level. I'm inspired and get ideas that take the names and dates to the next level. I now study my ancestors in the context of history and find out the stories of their lives. Most of all, I've made new friends who are as passionate about genealogy and history as I am. They are supportive and incredibly helpful. If you love working on genealogy, I cannot encourage you strongly enough to start blogging. I was so worried that I couldn't do it...I'd run out of ideas....I didn't have the time...No one would want to read what I wrote...
But once you start, it will just blossom. Come join the community! 

Apparently, there is a bit of controversy right now regarding the chain letter aspect of a blog award and the new Google algorithms, including the possibility of negative consequences when linking blogs together. All of this is covered in the links on Heather's post. However, everyone acknowledges the excitement and sincere appreciation felt when your blog is promoted. It is in this spirit that I nominate the following blogs - with the hope they appreciate the recognition and feel no obligation to participate. 

1. Bill West's - West in New England - Bill is my inspiration. He is a cousin I met through the Ellingwood Reunion Facebook group and the Maine Genealogy Network. We were fortunate to meet in person at the reunion in 2011. His support and encouragement got me started and he continues to lead in sharing my posts on social networks. 

2. Heather Wilkinson Rojo's - Nutfield Genalogy - Heather is another cousin and we keep finding more connections as we write about our ancestors. Her blog is a favorite because her posts are so varied - from Weathervane Wednesdays and upcoming genealogy events to the connections of her New England ancestors to Hawaii. She frequently comments on my posts and has been very generous and helpful - most recently sharing a letter, written to Queen Liliuokalani, that I can use in my classroom when teaching about Hawaiian annexation. 

3. Pam Seavey Schaffner's - Digging Down East - Pam is a new friend who has similar research interests in Maine. She makes great use of pictures on her posts and I like the way her posts describe her research so I can learn how she found out about the topic. I am especially grateful for her 'Where I Dig' page that lists wonderful resources. 

4. Chris Dunham's - The Genealogue and Maine Genealogy Network - Chris has been a great help to me on several occasions this year. He doesn't blog often but I really enjoy his wit. His 2012 posts on using DNA were great reads. He invests a lot of time and energy on the Maine Genealogy Network. It is an important site for those with Maine ancestry. 

5. Cindy Freed's - Genealogy Circle - Cindy is another one who makes great use of visuals with descriptions of her research. Her site has fresh, clean look and her posts are interesting and easy to read. She is a contributing author to the In-Depth Genealogist, a twice-monthly publication that is invaluable to genealogists of all skill levels. 

6. Jill Ball's - Geniaus - I haven't discovered any common relatives with Jill but that doesn't make her Australian genealogy blog any less interesting. She writes about doing genealogy and much of it applies to everyone. I am most grateful for stumbling across her New Year's post about accentuating the positive. I took her challenge and sent her a link to my post. She sent a very nice reply that exemplifies the sense of community and the warm welcome to the world of blogging that I spoke of at the start of this post. 

If my beneficiaries choose to participate, here are the rules and a link to the original post.
The originator of the award and the rules
1. Select the blogs you think deserve the Blog of the Year 2012 Award
2. Write a blog post and tell us about the blogs you have chosen - no minimum or maximum number
3. Please include a link back to this page at and include the rules in your post (please don't alter the rules or the badges!)
4. Let the blogs you have chosen know that you have given them this award and share the rules with them.
5. You can now join the Facebook group - click 'like' on this page 'Blog of the Year 2012' Award Facebook group and you can share your blog with an even wider audience.
6. As a winner of the award - please add a link back to the blog that presented you with the award - and then proudly display the award on your blog and sidebar - and start collecting stars.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Influenza 1918

There have been a lot of news stories lately about this winter's flu epidemic and deaths related to it. My great-grandmother, Annie Cotton, was a bit of a hypochondriac, worrying about every sneeze, sniffle, and cough but in her defense she lost 3 of her 8 children before they reached their third birthday. I wondered if any of them had influenza listed as a cause of death and found that her daughter, Thelma Jane, died two days after her first birthday of influenza in 1918. That year caught my attention because it was the year of the greatest global influenza outbreak in recorded history - the inaccurately nicknamed Spanish Influenza.

Thelma's death on October 16, 1918 was during the worst month of the epidemic in Maine.
"Estimates are that the 1918 flu killed between 20 million and 100 million worldwide, including more than 675,000 in the United States. Approximately 47,000 Mainers got sick and around 5,000 died, but historical sources note the disease was underreported. Half of the deaths in Maine occurred in October 1918." ~ Bangor Daily News - May 15, 2009

What made this strain of influenza especially lethal was that it often invaded the lungs and caused pneumonia. Notice that pneumonia is listed as a complicating factor in Thema's death.

My grandmother, Fern Lyndell was born on March 22, 1922 and by then her mother had already buried three children:

Marion Elizabeth born 7 Mar 1915 & died 8 Oct 1916
Thelma Jane born 14 Oct 1917 & died 16 Oct 1918
Leonard Henry born 12 Feb 1919 & died 26 Apr 1921

The documentary I show to my history classes is the PBS American Experience, Influenza 1918 . It has really good interviews with those who lived through the epidemic and carries the ominous warning that it not only can happen  but it is likely to happen again. It also includes this 1918 Spanish Flu Chldren's Rhyme that gets stuck in your brain as it is oft-repeated in the video:

I had a little bird
Its name was Enza
I opened a window
And In-flu-enza.

Other sources of information:

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Surname Saturday - John H. Cotton Wounded at Battle of the Wilderness

My 3X great-grandfather, John H. Cotton, served as a private in the 17th Maine Infantry, K Company from 18 August 1862 to 11 Jan 1865. Looking at the regiment's history, this means he took part in the Battle of Fredericksburg, the Battle of Chancellorsville, and the Battle of Gettysburg. There were numerous other campaigns as well but those are the major battles in which the unit participated before John H. Cotton was discharged. 

The Battle of the Wilderness was the beginning of the campaign to finish off the Confederacy and capture the capital of Richmond. On May 6th at the Battle of the Wilderness, he was shot in the right arm and had it amputated. The picture below is from the Maine Memory Network and while it give the names of many of the men, none of those identified is my ancestor. Still it's interesting to see the group on the day the battle started. The caption on their site reads: 
The 17th Maine Infantry is pictured on May 3, 1864, with some of the men identified. May 3 was the beginning of the Battle of the Wilderness. Two days later many of these soldiers were killed.

Collections of the Maine Historical Society
Looking at records found on, I found this:

Cotton, John H., rank private, company K, regiment 17 ME infantry, enlisted 18 Aug 1862, discharged 11 Jan 1865, length of service 2 years, 4 months, and 23 days. 

Amputation, Right Arm, GSW (gun shot wound), Recd in action, May 6/64, Wilderness

His death record states that he died on Christmas Day, 1894 of cancer of the stomach. He is listed as a farmer and I wonder how he managed with only one arm. Was he right-handed? I'd like to get his pension application but that will wait a bit because of the cost. 

Sources of Information:

John Henry Cotton & Christiana Cox
Francis Llewellyn Cotton & Lizzie Philbrick
Ray Everett Cotton & Annie Florilla Gibbs
Fern Lyndell Cotton - my grandmother 

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Connections Through Song

Sensory memories are very powerful. We associate sights, sounds, smells, and tastes with vivid life experiences. Some people claim there is a song for every situation. Songs connect people through shared experiences. Some songs bring you right back to your childhood. One of those songs for me is "Doggie In the Window" by Patti Page. Grammie Carter had several songs she sang to me over and over and this was one of them. I can still hear her voice and picture her singing to me when I hear this song or a reference to the song - actually anytime someone says the word "doggie." The death of Patti Page has put her songs back in the news so in memory of Patti Page and my grandmother, I present "Doggie In the Window."

How much is that doggie in the window?
The one with the waggely tail
How much is that doggie in the window? 
I do hope that doggie's for sale. 

I must take a trip to California
And leave my poor sweetheart alone
If he has a dog he won't be so lonesome
And the doggie will have a good home.

How much is that doggie in the window?
The one with the waggely tail
How much is that doggie in the window? 
I do hope that doggie's for sale. 

I read in the papers there are robbers
With flashlights that shine in the dark 
My love needs a doggie to protect him
And scare them away with one bark

I don't want a bunny or a kitty
I don't want a a parrot that talks
I don't want a bowl of little fishies
He can't take a goldfish for a walk.

How much is that doggie in the window?
The one with the waggely tail
How much is that doggie in the window? 
I do hope that doggie's for sale. 

And a picture Grammie took of one of her many dogs, Peaches

Fern Lyndell Cotton Carter - b. March 22, 1922 & d. October 31, 2002. 

What songs connect you with a loved one? 

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Accentuate the Positive!

After reading some postings about what genealogy bloggers had not accomplished in the past year, an Australian geneablogger, Geniaus, issued the following challenge: Respond to the following prompts to document the year's accomplishments. Since I didn't set any genealogy goals for last year, I have nothing to lament. I am intrigued to see what I accomplished. The original post includes more than I've included here because not everything applies to me. Here are my positive accomplishments to accentuate! 

  1. An elusive ancestor I found was:
    • My great-great-grandmother, Lizzie Philbrick - My great-great-grandfather was married three times and figuring out the identity of the mother of my great-grandfather was challenging until I found a record of his marriage with his parents listed on the reverse. Now I know who Grammie Philbrick was! 
  2. A precious family photo I found was:
    • I'm taking some liberties with this, my precious photos were taken by my Grandmother Carter. She loved flowers and I love these pictures of she took of the flowers around her house. 
  3. An ancestor's grave I found was:
    • The grave of Cyrus Buck with an unusual epitaph referring to Deism.
  4. An important vital record I found was:
    • A Revolutionary War pension file that detailed the service of my 5th great-grandfather, Dominicus Smith, including the fact that he was with George Washington when he crossed the Delaware. 
  5. A newly found family member who shared: 
    • Bill West - a cousin and fellow geneablogger is responsible for inspiring me to start my blog and he's been one of my biggest supporters. I am so grateful! 
    • Also a big thank you to Chris Dunham of Maine Genealogy Network for his help with several challenges this year. 
  6. A geneasurprise I received was:
    • Being included in Heather Wilkinson Rojo's blog post on Follow Friday. Heather and I have several ancestor connections and I love her blog Nutfield Genealogy
  7. My 2012 blog post that I was particularly proud of was:
  8. My 2012 blog post that received a large number of hits or comments was:
    • The most hits have been on this post about St. George's Day. I wrote it because it's also my mom's birthday and her ancestry is very British so it seemed fitting. 
    • The most shared was this post titled When Your Family Tree Doesn't Fork.
  9. A social media tool I enjoyed using for genealogy was:
    • I have to say Facebook because I connect with cousins, enjoy pages by genealogical, historical, and family associations and get updates when new content is published on some of my favorite blogs and web sites. It is also the greatest source of readers according to my Blogger stats. 
  10. I taught a friend how to:
    • I'm going to modify this one too, I taught my students to appreciate family history and the joy of tracking down ancestors. 
  11. A new genealogy/history book I enjoyed was:
    • The Devil of Great Island - I have ancestors who lived nearby and interacted with some of the principle players in this story. 
  12. Another positive I would like to share is:
    • big thank you to the genealogists who share their stories, tips, techniques, and research with others. I have learned so much from you.