Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Wordless Wednesday: Candes Spence

Picture taken approximately 1907/1908.

Candes Spence (b. 16 Jan 1893, d. 21 Aug 1945).
Daughter of Benjamin (1855-1930) & Nancy Reece Spence(1858-1919).
Married Samuel Jennings (1887-1937) on 30 July 1910.
My great-grandmother.

Tintype of Candes as a baby.
Candes was born in Claiborne County, Tennessee.

Monday, May 5, 2014

The Road to NGS 2014 in Richmond

I have lived and traveled through many parts of the United States during my lifetime.  I have backpacked with friends in Costa Rica and Peru and have even made the long trip to Melbourne, Australia.  Every place I have been I have brought back stories to my grandfather, Joseph Hosaflook.

He would listen to every story and always had the same response:  "I don't know why you want to go to all those places.  There is no place like Virginia.  It is the best state to live in!"  I would roll my eyes and always reply, "Yes Granddad!"

Since moving back to Virginia four years ago I have begun to realize just how much I missed living in Virginia.  My grandfather grew up in Augusta County, in the heart of the Shenandoah Valley.  Growing up we would visit family in the Valley and of course there were annual family reunions.  Going back now as an adult, and as a researcher, I see the wealth of history and beauty in the Valley.  This also extends to the other areas of Virginia I have been exploring.

Today I left home to head off to Richmond for the National Genealogical Society's 2014 annual conference.  Instead of heading down I-95 for a dull ride, and the inevitable traffic that always seems to appear between Woodbridge and Fredericksburg, I set my GPS to avoid highways and tolls.  I then followed the voice as it told me where to turn.

The voice took me out Route 29 through Bull Run Regional Park then down to Culpeper.  I then turned onto Route 552, Zachary Taylor Hwy, by Lake Anna to Route 33 and finally W. Broad Street into Richmond.  The trip took about an hour longer than I-95 (assuming the traffic did not form today) but it was so worth it.

The drive took me through several small towns, past old churches and cemeteries, battlefields and other historical landmarks.  All these places marked for a visit in the future.  All these places missed if I had taken the fast route, via the highway.

The Commonwealth of Virginia continues to inspire me both in my own family's research and through research I do for others.  Sometimes you have to take a detour to see what you have been missing.  The drive today is the beginning of a week of discovering more about my home state while engaging with fellow genealogists from all over the world.  This will be a great week indeed!

And yes Granddad, there is no place quite like Virginia!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories: Day 2 - Christmas Cards

Card sent by my 2nd great grandparents William Harrison (1856-1937)
 and Mary Ann Barb (1859-1940) Hosaflook, date unknown. 

The second day of Christmas memories is dedicated to Christmas cards.

Today it seems like Christmas cards have been replaced by emails, animated images and musical cards with the heads of your relatives and friends on the bodies of dancing elves!  Gone are the days that I remember seeing the mailbox full of large square envelopes colored brilliant white or red during the month of December.
Growing up I remember my parents receiving no less than fifty cards, at least, during the holiday season.  In my parent's house there used to be two wooden doors separating the kitchen from the dining room.  The doors had angled wooden slats which would be filled from top to bottom with Christmas cards every year.  The overflow was placed in a wooden reindeer with a rectangular wooden basket as a body, which was located near the Christmas tree.

I tried to keep the tradition alive after I moved away from home but over the years it has dwindled down to nothing.  The intention was always there but before I knew it there would only be two days left till Christmas and I hadn't sent out one card!  So to make up for that I started sending out cards that said "Happy Holidays!" If I missed sending them out by Christmas I had an extra week to send them by New Years!  Even that eventually stopped.

Now it seems that Facebook is the vehicle of choice to wish everyone season's greetings by updating your status.  Facebook may be quick and efficient, but it loses the magic of receiving that letter in the mail and seeing the design/message that the sender decided to send to you.

Maybe this year will be the one where I restart that tradition ... but don't be waiting out by the mailbox, just in case I miss it again!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories: Day 1 - Christmas Trees

My maternal grandparent's first
Christmas tree in 1947.
(Yes, the tree stand is a wrapped suitcase!!)
Today is the first day of the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories series and it is dedicated to Christmas trees.

I always loved helping to decorate the house for Christmas, but my favorite part was decorating the tree.  The tree seemed almost magical with the lights and ornaments.  The way the lights reflected off the glass bulbs and the tinsel was amazing.  I can't remember when my parents stopped buying tinsel for the tree.  It might have been a combination of my brothers and I having the tendency to toss handfuls of it at a time in the air to land on the tree (it seemed more natural that way) or our dog eating the tinsel off the tree!

1956, my grandparents got a larger tree after my mom
and her brother came along.  They had lots of tinsel too!

With or without tinsel, I loved decorating the tree.  My mother has collected dozens of the light up, motion ornaments from Hallmark over the years.  Some of them can be quite heavy. One year, on Christmas Eve, after all of us had gone to bed and she had placed the last gifts under the tree, she decided she did not like how I arranged some of the motion ornaments.  So she rearranged them, mostly to the front of the tree so they could be easily seen.

The next morning when we were unwrapping gifts, my mother reached under the tree to pull out the next gift and happened to get the one that was supporting the weight of the tree as a result of her rearranging of the ornaments.  Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a streak of lights and heard my mother let out a shriek as the tree landed on top of her.  My brothers, my dad and I were doubled over laughing while my mother was stuck yelling at us from under the tree.  Needless to say every year since, a brick has been placed on the back leg of the tree stand.

That is me in 1977!  Just look at all that sparkly tinsel!!

The Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories (ACCM) allows you to share your family’s holiday history twenty-four different ways during December! Learn more at