Tuesday, December 15, 2015

What's Under Your Christmas Tree?

It's that time of year and as I wander the toy aisles looking for that perfect gift for grandkids, I find myself feeling overwhelmed, not only by the sheer variety of toys, but also by the noise and flash of today's toys. Dolls call out to me as I pass by, furry stuffed animals bark and meow and toy trucks honk and flash their lights. Times have certainly changed, but I wonder, have kids?

marbles, games, Candyland, Life, childhood, genealogy, family history, ancestors, ancestry
Karl Witkowski-Game of Marbles
Wikimedia Commons 
While I am not sure if kids have changed, I can't help but notice that when the grandkids come over, they choose the old board games from our shelves to play even though we actually do own a few video games. Is it possible that maybe they too see the value in some of the slower, simpler games?

When I was young we played board games such as Checkers and Life, in addition to games such as marbles, jacks, pick-up-sticks and hopscotch. Evenings with cousins often consisted of games of kick-the-can and red rover. The games we played required very little expense and could be played whether or not there was electricity or an internet connection.

The generation previous to mine also played very simple games. Among my most prized possessions are my dad's marbles from his childhood. I can almost imagine Dad and his buddies bent over a circle drawn in the smooth dirt, shooting to win.

genealogy treasures, father, marbles, simple, office
Dad's marble collection
I too played marbles when I was little. I remember having favorite marbles and that often there was a fair amount of marble trading that went on. While boys liked marbles that were good shooters, for me it was all about the color.

We live in a fast paced, noisy world so maybe it makes sense that the toys have become the same. Maybe simpler games were best suited for simpler times, but I can't help but notice that there were certain advantages to playing the games from the "olden days."

I don't ever remember anyone having to go to counseling to deal with a marble or hopscotch addiction. There were no concerns that playing our simple games would result in antisocial tendencies, anxiety or an inability to function in day-to-day life. Families weren't broken up because of anyone's obsession with non-stop rounds of pick-up-sticks and no one feared that we would play endless hours of hide and seek. High tech they were not, but in many ways, I wonder if some of the simple games of yesterday were better. But then again, isn't it typical of the older generation to think that the old ways were best?

While I seriously doubt Santa will get many requests for marbles or pick-up-sticks this year,  I am glad they were part of my childhood and equally glad they were part of my dad's. I keep the treasured jar of my dad's marbles sitting on a shelf in my office. There alongside some of my other genealogy treasures, they warm my heart and serve as a quiet reminder that in many ways, simple is good.


Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2015, All rights reserved

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Rain, Rain and More Rainwater

Rainwater, newspaper, genealogy, family history, Cloudy Night Rainwater, Wood Rainwater, Night Rainwater, Lloyd Rainwater, Pearl RainwaterNames that are also common words add an extra degree of challenge to genealogical research. Among my ancestors I have names such as Cook, Bell, and Kite. You probably have similarly challenging names in your trees. 

My second great grandmother was a Rainwater, and as you can imagine, researching that name can be challenging. Whether researching in general databases, newspapers or a general Google Search, I frequently find myself wading through results such as rainwater baths, rainwater harvesting, and ads for artesian bath houses with water as-soft-as-rainwater. 

Thanks to classes taken from Lisa Louise Cooke and tips in her book "The Genealogist's Google Toolbox," I've learned tricks to help me narrow down those searches, but with a name like Rainwater, there still seems to be a variety of results sure to bring a smile. 

The two newspaper articles below are just a few examples:


A SERIOUS FALL 
Yesterday morning Mr. Rainwater, engaged at the store of March & Price, while standing on a tall step ladder arranging the price of an immense pile of seersuckers and ginghams they suddenly fell with a dull, sickening thud--we mean the prices.  The proprietors advised Mr. Rainwater to let them B flat.
Fort Worth Daily Gazette (Fort Worth, Texas)  1 May 1887 Sun page 5
accessed on Newspapers.com September 30, 2015


and yet another:

A WELL WATERED BANK 
     There can be water in banks the same as in wells and securities.  
     For instance:  The Rainwater Bank & Trust Co of Morriton, Ark. 
     Wood Rainwater is president of the bank; Cloudy Night Rainwater, vice president and Night Rainwater treasurer. Loid Rainwater and Pearl Rainwater are directors.  But somehow or other Pure Rainwater was left out. Ditto "Rain-in-the-face." 
The Pittsburg Press, October 20, 1913, accessed on Google Newspapers


Yes, Cloudy Night was a man's real name and no, they weren't Native American, but possibly they believed they were.  Cloudy Night Rainwater is in fact in my ancestry and since he is the only child I have listed for that family, I can see that I have some work to do on his family, among other Rainwater families. 

Recent contacts with Rainwater cousins have helped me focus a little more on my Rainwater side of the family and with that has come the realization that I have neglected them for long enough. Maybe it's time I wring out the records in search of my Rainwaters. 

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2015, All rights reserved

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Site Sleuthing- On Demand Court Records for Oklahoma

Oklahoma, court records, genealogy, family history, research, marriage license

When we lived in Dallas, Texas, shopping was both wonderful and hard. It was wonderful because there were so many options and it seemed that whatever I wanted or needed could be found if I just persisted in looking long enough. The bad part was for someone who is a little compulsive in nature, if I couldn't find something it was hard to just give up because I knew if one place didn't have it, another place might. So with so many options, the search could go on forever and sometimes it felt like it did.

In ways I feel like that is how it is with genealogy research today.  It's good because there is always one more place to look, but bad because the never ending options are responsible for both anxiety and sleep deprivation for many a genealogist.

While some stay within the confines of the sites created specifically with genealogy in mind,  the bottom really opens up once we realize that, in addition to the massive number of records on those sites, there are many options beyond the typical genealogy sites.

A couple of years ago I stumbled onto a website for Oklahoma court records called  "On Demand Court Records." This site has Oklahoma public records searchable for free. In addition, there are subscription options for advanced tools, but so far I have only used the free version which allows me to search by individual, by court, by county, by party type, and date range.

What have I found on the website? The records I've found vary from marriages, imported marriages, divorces, estates,  and lawsuits etc., so in other words, the stuff genealogist love to find!

For example, I found a reference to an imported marriage license for Edgar Howell and Ollie Ganus for 1896. Now granted, I was not successful as long as I searched only for Ollie or Olivia Ganus, but when I searched for Edgar Howell, I was able to find the couple. Unfortunately she is listed as Allie Gomes instead of Ollie Ganus and with that experience, I was reminded to be very creative with spellings and to search for all who may have been involved.

 


One downside is, it is really more of an index, but it is still useful in narrowing down dates and places and in providing clues leading to other existing records.

Some counties have records going further back than others and it's also worth noting that I've found instances where there are records on the site that actually go further back than indicated for that particular county. For instance on the marriage record below,  the marriage license was filed in Lincoln, Oklahoma in 1899 and yet looking at the website's court upload status, it indicates that records for Lincoln County go back to March 22nd, 1904.




Another downside (for your cousins) is that having recent court information online means you get to see references to recent driving violations, arrests or scuffles that friends and family may have been implicated in, which can make for some interesting discoveries and possibly even provide material for some entertaining conversations for the next family reunion.

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2015, All rights reserved