Friday, January 23, 2015

Genealogy Do-Over - Week Three - What I learned from the "Real" Genealogists

I have played with everyone's research logs. Some I like, some I find difficult, and some have great features I wish were all incorporated into one. In the many (many, many) years I have worked with my family history, I have never tracked anything. The Do-Over is forcing my hand.

I am aware of the "Real" genealogists who complain about us "Family History" researchers. It seems to be us against them when it comes to research procedures. I have always just smiled at the attitudes and continued on my merry way, finding sources but not citing them. All of a sudden, it changed.

I can honestly say I have known all along that my research was sloppy. I know there are holes in my research because I couldn't afford to purchase the records I needed. The Do-Over has made it really clear that my careless research has hindered my research and I have already found two proof points I missed. I will be ordering documents as I can afford them.

Then, I actually had to cite a source. What a drag! If you are like me, you have lots of original documents, letters, photos, and certificates. I look at the sheer amount of work I need to do to catch up and want to quit.

Citing sources is a chore and a new process for me. However, I will adjust because I just learned has satisfying it is to have the information verified and documented.

Does that make me a "Real" genealogist? No way. I am still a "Family Historian" who will now use the research processes used by the genealogists while continuing to go my merry way, finding out about my family.


Wednesday, January 21, 2015

You might be a Redneck

The phrase "You might be a Redneck", popularized by Jeff Foxworthy and defined by Merriam-Webster as a "a white person who lives in a small town or in the country especially in the southern U.S, who typically has a working-class job, and who is seen by others as being uneducated and having opinions and attitudes that are offensive", had an entirely different meaning in the 1920's.

How does this fit into my Rhea family history? One of the reasons my grandmother refused to live in the tiny area surrounding Sneedville, Tennessee was the mine. The only way to make extra money was to work in the mine and she didn't want that for her husband. So, in 1914, William Ogden Rhea and Mellie Farris Rhea, packed their bags and headed north until their money ran out in Billings, Montana.
William Ogden Rhea and Mellie (Farris) Rhea in Los Angeles, California, visiting my newly married parents in August 1947. 
The rest of the family, Martha Jane Rhea, my great grandmother, and three of the kids, continued to farm the land along the Clinch River. They did quite well supporting themselves by growing corn and tobacco. However, several family members were lured into working the mine for the money to supplement the farm income. The working conditions for the miners were brutal all through the Appalachian Mountains. There were no safeguards, the worker's and their families were terrorized, and working the mines brought black lung and other respiratory illnesses.

In a letter to my grandparents on January 1, 1919, Martha Jane Rhea wrote:

"The mining people is going slow. Wages for common work is $1.50, carpenter $3.00 or $3.50. A man by the name of Coberly from Joplin, M.O. is here to setup their machinery. His family is here. They claim to have one million and quarter dollars worth of mineral in sight." Big money for the investors, nothing for the miners.

It all came to a head in 1921 at the Battle of Blair Mountain in West Virginia when more than 10,000 coal miners confronted state and federal troops. Their goal was to unionize the Southwestern West Virginia mine counties. The labor laws in effect today were largely due to this battle for better working conditions. It was the biggest armed uprising in American labor history.


The protesting miners at Blair Mountain wore red bandannas around their necks, hence the term "Redneck". In this short video of the struggle, the bandannas can be seen in some of the pictures.

Do you have Rednecks in your family?

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Week two of the Genealogy Do-Over - My car history from 1966 to 1968

As part of the Genealogy Do-Over, we were to write our personal history to use as a starting point for research. I started mine but got sidetracked. I have boxes and boxes of slides that I wanted to scan but had misplaced (read meaning "husband lost") the slide holder for my scanner. I ordered replacement parts and when they arrived,  I spent two days scanning about 300 slides. It was a treat to surprise cousins and friends with 40-year-old photos.

Among the slides were a few photos of my cars. I thought I would use them to augment two years of my personal history.

In 1966, on my 16th birthday, my parents handed me the keys to the 1958 Opel Kadet Station Wagon. There were rules that came with it. They would pay the insurance and the gas to go to and from school and church. And...oh, I must also take my brother where he needed to go. If I wanted to go anywhere else, I had to pay for it. That was fine with me. Gas was $.25 a gallon and I had a part-time job at the library.
I can't even tell you how many trips this car made to Huntington Beach. Oh, the surfers, sun, and the food at Zack's.

In 1967, when I graduated from high school, my parents thought I needed a more reliable car to go to the local junior college. So, they bought a brand new Toyota. It was also good on gas and not likely to break down.
Unfortunately, in September of 1968, I had to give this car up. My boyfriend and I decided to get married and my parents told us we needed to be responsible for our own transportation. The payment of the Toyota was more than we could afford at the time so my mom traded the Toyota for the 1957 Chevy she had been driving.
Not new like the Toyota and not good on gas like the Opel, we started our married life with the Chevy and a 1957 Volkswagon Bug.
 I look at these pictures today and wish I still had all four cars. My brother destroyed the Opel. I eventually took over the payments on the Toyota and drove it until it quit at 300,000 miles. I gave the Chevy to my brother who destroyed it too. He was hard on cars. The Volkswagon went to my ex-husband in the divorce. I look at these pictures and am filled with fond memories of the cars and the places they took me.