Category Archives: family

My First Motherless Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day Without a Mom

It feels kind of weird. I imagine it would be worse if the stores were fully open because I’d be seeing little things to get my mom. She loved little things, multiple packages to open, no matter what was inside. Tissues? Great! A new tube of deodorant? Very thoughtful! Something, anything green? Perfect! Anything with the Reds logo? Love it! That was my mom.

Still Celebrating!

There is still a lot to celebrate. I’m a mom. I’m a grandmother. I adore the mothers of my grandchildren. I have a terrific mother-in-law!

I have been blessed beyond measure without a doubt!

But…

I’m the little one.

I have wonderful memories about my mom. It took me awhile, though, to allow those memories to surface. My mother had dementia and grew increasingly difficult to deal with in her final years. She was still loving and pleasant, just not all the time.

There were difficult moments as I had to make difficult decisions for her. There was family strife while making those decisions. I was frankly exhausted from not only the tension, but also the 2 hour drive each way when I went to visit her or to take care of business for her. When she passed away last summer just a few days after her 90th birthday, I felt as though I’d already traveled through most of the grieving process. As her memory faded, I lost bits and pieces of her and of our relationship. I honestly at that time could only remember the bad times. Even before this happened to her, the memories were of arguments or her lack of cooking skills or her willingness to enable certain family members who took advantage of her. I came to terms with that when I realized that it would take time to remember the “old” mom. And it did. The good memories finally came through. Like this one:

And this one:

And lots more because she was so goofy!

So that’s why I’m celebrating Mother’s Day not with tears but with joy.

Take My Advice

If you still have your mother and/or your grandmothers (any family member of a previous generation for that matter) ask questions. Take notes.  Make videos. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people say, “I wish I would have asked her/him about xyz.” Celebrate Mother’s Day that way. Even if you think you’ve heard the stories before.

Questions you might ask:

Was there ever a time when you remember people having to adjust because of a pandemic (polio, flu, something else?) What changes do you remember taking place and how did that make you feel?

How did you meet Dad (Mom, Grandma, Grandpa…)?

How did you get engaged?

What is your earliest memory?

How was your family affected by The Great Depression? (WWII, the Vietnam War, the Cold War, the Recession?)

What meal was your favorite growing up?

Tell me about the first car you owned. (House, pet…)

Did your parents force you to go to church when you were a kid? Why or why not?

What are your memories about watching the first moon landing? (Day JFK was assassinated, 911…)

Using questions will help guide the conversation so that you don’t hear the same things over and over. Try to think about the things you may be curious about later.

Celebrate Family

Photo by Stationery Hoe on Unsplash

However you define family. There are lots of ways, but you know who the people are you’re closest to. Many of you have been spending time in the house with them, and others you’ve kept in touch with by email, video, and over the phone. Get yourself a journal and start recording those memories, including your own. Are you keeping a pandemic journal? If not, start today! Future generations will want to know what we thought about and how we handled 2020. Write down your thoughts because in the future someone may forget to ask!

How Will You Celebrate Mother’s Day in 2020?

C’mon People Now, Smile on Your Brother

In light of being called a bigot for writing about the Scots Irish, I decided to reflect on the attitude held by some of those whose ancestors never left the homeland toward those of us living in the immigrant melting pot called America.

Students at Ellis IslandLabeling our Ancestry

If your ancestors have lived in a country or region for hundreds of years, you might feel a sense of pride in your heritage. You might resent others who claim that heritage but who were never born in your country, but if you do, you are surely short-sighted, or at least, uninformed. America was populated for the most part by people who came from other countries. Some recently, but many from the 18th century to the massive immigration period of the 19th century. That means we have a short past on the North American continent and are likely to identify with the countries from which our ancestors came. Immigrants

Some like to call themselves Irish, English, Italian, or whatever, but what they really mean is they have roots in those countries. If they themselves were born in America, they are American. They might say they are Irish-American, African-American, or Chinese-American, but if they do, they are only referring to the land where their ancestors were born. This is not meant to defame any native born people. I wish people would not take offense. (Personally, I only say I’m American or sometimes American with Irish roots, or Scots-Irish roots, or Welsh roots, because I can positively trace my ancestors to those countries.)

What This Labeling Really Means

Irish famine immigrantsIt means we appreciate the sacrifices those ancestors made. It means we respect their decision and we understand how much they missed the land of their birth. But perhaps even more important, it means we recognize there was family left behind. Sometimes we long to reconnect what our ancestor was forced to sever, even if we can only do it in a small way.

This sums that up so well: Letter to My Irish Ancestor

What the Labeling Does NOT Mean

Flag of the 89th OVI Civil WarIt does not mean we aren’t proud to be Americans. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that. Ever. We live in the land of the home and the brave, the land so many people come to to seek freedom, the country so many people today depend upon to protect democracy or to bring humanitarian relief all over the world.

American Flag

Lee Coursey

We ARE Americans, first and foremost. But to ignore where our ancestors came from would be to ignore part of ourselves. Some do, of course. They are not interested in genealogy. But many, many others care very much.

We Are Family

Truly the entire human race is connected somewhere along the way. Who can truly say he/she is native? People have moved about since the beginning of time. Can anyone truly hold on to his/her ancestry and say it only belongs to those currently living in a particular country? I don’t think so. And if you think so, I say let’s compare DNA. Let’s start living as though we are all long-lost cousins, because in fact, we are.81fa7-congregationpast350

That’s my view.

The Civil War Trail of my Ancestor, A Case Study

The Story of A Civil War Solider

So many letters exist detailing the experiences of Civil War soldiers. Unfortunately I’ve not been able to find any written by Edward B. Myrick, the Civil War ancestor I’ve been trailing. But that didn’t stop me from trying to find out more about him. He was born in Clermont County, Ohio, in July of 1845. He mustered in with the Ohio 89th Volunteer Infantry, Company F, at Camp Dennison in Ohio near Cincinnati. He was 18, 5′ 6″, light complexion, gray eyes, light hair, born in Clermont County, and was a farmer. This I found in his Civil War Pension File from the National Archives.

The Company History

Camp Dennison where author Cindy Thomson's ancestor mustered in.

Camp Dennison depicted in Harper’s Weekly

I was able to find out what the company Edward was attached to was doing when. This became valuable information when I was trying to patch together his own experience, because for nearly two years he was not with his company. He hadn’t gone AWOL, even though the rolls often listed him as absent.

The company was ordered to Covington, KY, shortly after being organized in August of 1862. They participated in the defense of Cincinnati against threatened attack. When I visited the Roebling wall murals in Covington, KY, with friends this summer, I had no idea one of the mural represented something my ancestor did.

Roebling mural depicting ancestor of author Cindy Thomson

Civil War Soldiers crossing over the Ohio River.

From there they went to Point Pleasant, WV, on October 5, and attached to several other units. They advanced to Falls of the Kanawha, VA, October 10-November 3 and then moved on to Fayetteville Court House until January, 1863. From there they went to Nashville, TN; Carthage, TN; Murfreesboro, TN; and the Tullahoma Campaign June 23-July 7. They were part of the Occupation of Middle Tennessee until August. In late July Edward fell sick. This is where the rolls contained at the National Archives helped me out. (Although in one place it says he was sick in June.) He was in “Convalescent Camp Gallatin, TN.” There was a lot of fighting going on in August in and around Gallatin. You can read about it here.

There were 108 beds at this hospital. He first shows up in Hospital Muster Rolls of the Cumberland USA General Hospital in Nashville, TN, July & Aug 1863, and is listed “sick.” There are 900 beds here. He remains listed there as sick through Feb. 1865. Back in Gallatin the muster rolls listed “1st Battalion of Convalescents.” The Nashville rolls don’t list this. I had to look that up.

What Injured and Sick Soldiers Did While Waiting to Rejoin Their Units

This book: The Encyclopedia of Civil War Medicine By Glenna R. Schroeder-Lein, has some interesting information. Look it up if you want more in depth information, but basically soldiers in these hospitals could be called upon for defense if needed, and were often given nursing duties. They could be furloughed if their recovery was expected to take more than 30 days, but there is no evidence Edward ever went home during this time. I’m not sure I’ll ever know what he was doing during this time or how sick he really was.

The Ohio 89th’s History

In the meantime Edward’s Company moved on to Georgia and participated in many campaigns, including the Siege of Atlanta and of Savannah. When they began the Campaign of the Carolinas, which came after Sherman’s march to the sea, Edward rejoined them, probably in March of 1865. He participated in the Grand Review in Washington, D.C., on May 24, and his company was mustered out and paid at Camp Dennison in June. A regiment is normally 1000 men. A company has about 100. Edward’s regiment lost three officers and 47 enlisted men killed and mortally wounded. They lost five officers and 245 men by disease. A total of 300. I’m not a Civil War expert, but I think they fared better than most. Disease was the biggest killer of men during the Civil War. I have another ancestor who died from disease having not fought at all.

 

Great great grandfather of author Cindy Thomson

My great great grandfather Edward B. Myrick

That’s what I have on Edward so far, except to say that right after the war he moved to Indiana, got married, had children, and died in 1907.

If you have any research that crosses any of this, please let me know!

 

There is a really interesting web site dedicated to the Ohio 89th here. Also I’ve contributed Edward’s complete pension file records on this site. You can find it under “Other Information.”

My First Post

Welcome! 

I’ve been working on a new website, and since it’s just me, myself, and I working on it, it’s taken me a while before I was ready to show it to the world. But here I am, finally, and I’m glad you stopped by!

With my new series with Tyndale House, I thought I needed a new website, and a new blog. A place where I can connect with folks who are interested in what I’m interested in: history, family legacy, Ellis Island, reading, and writing.

Check out the tabs above where you can find my books and where to purchase them, something about me if you’re so inclined, and some other stuff.

I’d love to hear your family stories. Where did your people come from? Do you know a lot or just a little? Would you like to know more?

I’ve been interested in genealogy for some time. I call myself an amateur genealogist, because I’m not professionally trained, and I’m not in the business of tracing other people’s roots for them. I like to hear the stories, and imagine what life was like for those people, and then create fiction. I also have been known to write some “how-to” articles for genealogy magazines. I may not write about your family exactly, but I what I do write might allow you imagine the world your ancestors lived in, what was important to them, how they grew spiritually through their life experiences, and maybe even how that affected you generations later.

What about you? Tell me something. I’m listening! 🙂