Friday, August 19, 2011

Homestead in a Jar

Family History on Display

I am always looking for {creative} ways to display my family history in my home. To everyone else this is a jar of dirt. To me it is a reminder of my great grandfather's homestead in Holmes County, Florida and close proximity to where I spent many of my summer days.

My Great Grandfather, George Washington Stafford, homesteaded 160 acres. On my last visit in 2004 these acres remained in the family [of his 3rd wife].

I have a photo of George on the cap.

I have one other display for my homestead dirt and will share it, more details on the land patent and about George in a future post.

George Washington Stafford

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Sweet Gum Head

Sweet Gum Head is a magical place. A place where the fairies dance at twilight; and trolls live
under the bridge. It is a place where the imagination of a child knows no boundaries. It’s not an
imaginary place, but a tiny community nestled in the panhandle of Florida, in Holmes County. It
is a place where time moves at a different pace.

I can barely remember living there for a brief time before the rest of my memories were captured
through visits. Summer-time visits were my favorite. We could hardly wait for the car to come to
a complete stop before we tumbled out in our excitement, already breathless from the anticipation of the adventures to come. There was much wonder to be found in the places waiting to come to life through the eyes of a child.  

Our destination was the home of my grandfather’s sister, Aunt Gypsie. Her home could be found down a narrow dirt lane secluded from the rest of the world by the piney woods standing guard around it. Those piney woods, draped in moss, were kingdoms waiting to be conquered and the hiding place of those brave enough to be enveloped by the cover of their darkness after sundown. It truly was a magical place.

Mornings began with breakfast that included eggs collected from the hen house. My favorite part of breakfast was a homemade biscuit covered with tomato gravy. The name tomato gravy has been known to crinkle a few eyebrows but the simple southern dish graced our breakfast table often. Aunt Gypsie always had enough left over biscuits for our sugar biscuit snack. To prepare, all you needed to do was poke a hole in the biscuit with your thumb and fill it with sugar. The older kids knew to wiggle your thumb around a bit to make the hole bigger so it would hold more sugar.

After breakfast we were ushered outside with instructions of not slamming the screen door and to
watch out for snakes. Those words reached our ears long after the door had already slammed. It
didn’t matter that these were the same places we explored last summer, our days were filled with
laughter and mischief as we reacquainted ourselves with our surroundings. Some places were off
limits but surely that didn’t mean us. The dark corners of the corn crib held new treasures beyond
the spider webs and all good adventures included a make believe trip on the big tractor. Chickens
needed to be chased; the troll that lived under the bridge needed to be defeated and the new piglets needed names, even if the mama sow didn’t think so. Of course, we had been warned to stay out of the pig pen, but rarely did we listen. She wouldn’t really eat me, would she?

As the daylight faded we’d take our place on the back porch to wash away the grime from our
tired little bodies in a washtub filled with water drawn from the well. Aunt Gypsie and Uncle
Willie had no indoor plumbing during my childhood years and I never gave much thought about
leaving those amenities behind during our visits. As the sun bid us good night we waited for the
arrival of the fairies and would watch them dance among the pines before we settled down for
the night. The next morning we awoke refreshed and ready for new adventures.

At the end of each visit we knew Uncle Willie’s departing gift for each of us was a palm full of
quarters. Those quarters never left Sweet Gum Head, for as soon as we reached the black top the
general store was our first stop. I would buy a bottle of Coke and bag of salty peanuts which I
poured into my Coke. So began my journey home, sipping my sweet and salty treat as I day
dreamed of my next visit.

I’ve been back to Sweet Gum Head many times as the years have passed. Each visit greets me
with change. Aunt Gypsie and Uncle Willie along with many others have passed on. The old barns and corn crib are no longer there. The fields have been dormant far too long and the earth has reclaimed them. Everything seems much smaller than before, but the piney woods stand as tall now as they did many years ago. When I close my eyes I can hear the yesteryears calling me. It’s the magical whispers of Sweet Gum Head.

May 2009
One of my family stories from a writing class

Taken with an old polaroid camera many years ago. It wasn't a good photo before I scanned it. This is how I remember my Aunt Gypsie and Uncle Willie.

Friday, August 5, 2011

3 Generations

This photo was taken in May, a few weeks after my son, Clayton, returned home from Afghanistan. We made a quick trip south to visit my Daddy.

The next day Daddy broke his hip and hours after his surgery he suffered a stroke. It has left him with some mobility limitations and robbed him of most of his speech ability. I am in the process of moving him from GA to KS.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Funeral Card Friday

When my little sister, Teresa, died in 2007 it was winter. Since she was cremated our family decided to wait until the spring to bury her and hold a memorial service.

During that time I knew the boiler plate memorials from a funeral home were not what we wanted to use.

I designed this version. Immediate family received a color copy and others a black and white copy. It is 8 1/2 x 11, printed on both sides and folded in half with half sheets for the insert. I created it in Microsoft Publisher but you could do the same with other software options.

With this we were able to share more about her than the traditional memorial card would offer.

Includes her drawings and signature
Inside: Notice the T
Includes many family photos we liked to make fun of.
Mama - did you really think our hair looked pretty like that?

Insert page
With family information

Printed copy

 My world, as I had known it, cracked that day. In 2008 my older sister, Denise, died. Three months later my precious Mama would also leave me.


Circle Me!

I posted this earlier on my G+ stream.

Raise your hand if you have more than one blog.

I do! I blog about cemeteries, genealogy and photography. To organize myself online I decided to create a master blog to refer others to and let them decide which of my blogs they want to read. It also gives me a place to share something that isn't specific to my other blogs.

I created a QR code for the master blog [and placed it on my other blogs]. I plan to have a card made with this code, my email and cell phone number. Now it will be easy to share how to find me.

With the ease of creating QR codes I have some other ideas...more on that later.

Here is where I made my code:

Stop by and see what I'm talking about!

Oh, I downloaded my reader "Scan" for free from the app store for my iPad. When I upgrade my BlackBerry to Android this weekend I'll find a reader for it.
~cross-posting on my blogs~

No smart phone with a QR reader? Click Here

Farm Home

My husband is the 3rd generation of his Wall line born in the United States. His great grandfather, Klaas Wall, immigrated from Prussia.

Here is the family farm home in Buhler, Reno County, Kansas. His grandfather, John Wall, was born in this home. It was torn down some years ago.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

My Jar of Forks

To you this is just a jar of mis-matched forks. To me it is a walk down memory lane. I don't really remember if Mama had a set of matching flatware when I was growing up. I do know that in the drawer of mixed flatware was MY fork. While I can no longer recall the pattern or much else about it I do remember that I would only eat with a particular fork. I guess I got over that somewhere along the way.

When Mama passed away in 2009 I was faced with the task of emptying her home. In the kitchen she had a drawer of mixed flatware. As I sorted everything to be devided among her grandchildren I couldn't help but keep a few for myself. It was a memory I wanted to keep.

Funny how something as ordinary as a fork could awaken long forgotten memories.

Blog Header Photo

I'm so disappointed. I found a photo I wanted to use as my header photo and it won't work because it won't fit across the top of my entire blog. I think I remember cropping it.

Oh well! The one I have used, until I find a better one, was taken from my backyard. The field is now planted with wheat but was used for alfalfa before that.

Here is the one I wanted to use, also taken from my backyard:

Monday, August 1, 2011

New Books

I've spent a lot of time in my hometown of Columbus, GA in the last 2 1/2 months. I picked up two new books and my cousin gave me a copy of Columbus, Georgia; What Progress Has Preserved.

On my cemetery blog, Digital Cemetery Walk, I have my cemetery bookshelf list and plan to add my genealogy bookshelf list here soon.