Friday, December 21, 2012

Follow Friday - Favorites

Favorites is my weekly list of favorite genealogy, history and random finds from across the Net.
A tip from Gena's Genealogy on religious research: Library of Congress Online Exhibits
Vintage Vignettes compares Find A Grave to Patchwork Quilts
The Bee's Knees Daily shares Vintage Toys from a Sears Catalog
Visit Polish Research and see if you can help read a document: What does it say?
See great photos of the Grove Park Inn National Gingerbread House Competition at Scrapbook of Me.
A good tip from My Genealogical Quest: Turn the Page
Fantastic advice at The Ancestry Binder Files: Analysis of Worries
Women in the Civil War: Covert Force
Interesting historical photo merge: A Walk Through Time in Spitalfields
The Civil War's role in our Christmas of today: Civil War Christmas
History in the Walls at the National Museum of American History
Bill West of West in New England discusses: If I Ran Christmas


Monday, December 17, 2012

Military Monday - Dr. Leroy P. Kuhn, A.E.F. surgeon

Dr. Leroy Philip Kuhn, my 2nd great grand uncle, was a surgeon during World War I. I only stumbled across this information when I Googled his name during my research on a history I am writing for his parents. I found a biography for Dr. Kuhn in the The Alumni Record of the University of Illinois (Chicago Departments) 1921 which stated his service:
It says "Capt., M.C., U.S.A., Ag 4-D4, 1918." M.C. historically stands for medical corps, which makes sense given his occupation. I'm not sure what the Ag 4-D 4 is referencing. Now I was interested to see if Leroy Kuhn had served overseas.

Given this information from his biography I searched for Leroy Kuhn and found that he had a membership in the Military Surgeon Association:
At a meeting of the Military Surgeons Association held August 1 and 3, 1918 443 medical officers gained membership into the Association, to include Dr. Kuhn. Membership was restricted to commissioned officers in any of the military services. Here is proof of his commissioning, but no indication of his service.

Yet another Google search yielded this gem from the History of Medicine and Surgery and Physicians and Surgeons of Chicago, 1922.
This reference mentions his unit: Surgical Group No. 7. I searched long and hard for this term, but found nothing. So I reached out the historians at the Army Medical Command (AMEDD). I had asked why I could find nothing on the term "Surgical Group." They explained that the peacetime Army medical structure (which was used upon our initial entry into WWI) was heavy on hospitals did not have the capability to push forward to be closer to the front. Thus the birth of Surgical Groups or Teams. The reason I couldn't find any information on Surgical Group No. 7 is that these groups typically were called "Teams."

However, numerous searches for Surgical Team No. 7 have yielded nothing. Presumably, Surgical Team No. 7 would have been attached to Hospital No. 7. I have found information on this hospital, but nothing about Dr. Kuhn. So it appears it is time to order his military service record. Records prior to 1950 are archival and are open to the public for a copying fee. They can be ordered here at the National Archives eServices website.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Follow Friday - Favorites

Favorites is my weekly list of favorite genealogy, history and random finds from across the Net.

The 1941 Christmas Tree: A Bright Light in Dark Times
A German genealogist's take on Westphalia and Lower Saxony research (in English): Angela's Genealogy
An easy craft gift idea for family and friends: Vintage Photo Pillow
Putting the London Blitz in perspective: The Bomb Sight
Humble beginnings: A brief History of the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree
Historypin gets an update: All new Historypin
Life in the Past Lane reminds us: Never Trust the box!
A random pairing: featured on CSI
A great tip from The Spiraling ChainsDesignating tomorrow's heirlooms today

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

12 Ancestors to meet, 12 questions to ask and 12 things to tell

Today is 12-12-12 and I just had to write a "12" post to celebrate this day! My topic will be twelve ancestors I would like to no particular order, of course.
A snippet of a letter written by Philip Kuhn telling his wife about the attack on the City Belle.
1. Philip Kuhn - Ah, Philip. Admittedly, one of my favorite ancestors. I'm not sure why I'm drawn to Philip. Perhaps it is his Civil War service or time as a prisoner of war. Either way, I would like to talk to Philip about his time on the City Belle, a Civil War Union troop transport that was attacked on the Red River in 1864. Philip survived the attack and ended up a POW in Camp Ford, Texas.
William Butler, Sr. (1824-1895)
2. William Butler, Sr. - I have lots of questions for Mr. Butler, my 3rd great-grandfather. His early days were fascinating...he was a prominent business man in early Chicago, married well and became very wealthy. I would ask William who the mother of my my 2nd great-grandfather is. I'm sure he would think me impertinent, but the documents don't match the story he passed down.

3. Peter Kuhn - Peter is my immigrant ancestor and furthest ancestor to have been found in my Kuhn line. He was born in 1748 in Germany and came to America around 1760. If I could meet Peter I would ask him why he chose to leave Germany and I would sneak in a question about where he was from and who his parents were.

4. Bertha Kuhn - Bertha (Cutler) Kuhn was my 3rd great-grandmother and wife of Philip (No. 1). I have written previously about my desire to meet her. I feel a connection to Bertha because she was a military spouse at home while her husband went to war. If I could ask her one thing I would ask her if she ever had her photo taken and if so where it is now!
Joseph M. Creed (1841-1917)
5. Joseph M. Creed - Joseph is my ancestor that floated all over the country before settling in Oklahoma. Joseph's question is too easy: I would ask Joseph who his parents and grandparents were. I have snippets of proof for his ancestry but nothing concrete.
Marcellus White's headstone (1832-1895)
6. Marcellus White - Another ancestor I have too many questions for. Marcellus is yet another 3rd great-grandfather. He was born in Virginia and at some point moved his family to Missouri. I think I would ask Marcellus why he chose to move more than 900 miles away from his home state. I would also ask Marcellus about his Civil War experiences, especially whether he was really at Appomattox Court House.

7. Samuel O. McGuire - Samuel was also a Civil War veteran, fighting for the Confederates. He was also captured and spent time at Fort Delaware prisoner of war camp. I think I would ask Samuel why he chose to fight for the Confederate side. He was born and raised in Kentucky, which I'm sure had a strong bearing on his choice. But I would like to know if he was fighting for States rights or for maintaining slavery or both.
8. Lois Burnett Kuhn - Lois was my grandmother and she died when my father was only 18. I was never able to meet her, but my father has spoken of her so much I feel like I know her well. I think she would have made a terrific grandmother and I would give anything to be able to sit down with her for an afternoon and just talk. I don't have any specific questions for Lois, I just want to be with her.
This is possibly a photo of young Bettie Knupp, later Coffman. (1857-1887)
9. Elizabeth Knupp Coffman - Elizabeth was a 3rd great-grandmother. She was born and raised in Virginia. She married John Coffman and they had five children. Just two days after her 30th birthday Bettie committed suicide. Although I'm sure there are more, Bettie is the only ancestor I have found that has ended their own life. She had a 9-month-old baby and I'm wondering if she was experiencing post-partum depression. I would like to ask her why she felt this was the only way out.
10. James Smith Trabue - James is no relation to me, other than he married a distant cousin. However, he is one of the only people I have found in my tree that fought in World War I. Unfortunately, James was killed in the early hours of November 11, 1918, just hours before the armistice was signed. If I could meet James I would ask him about his war experiences.

11. Leroy Philip Kuhn - A distant uncle, Leroy is the only blood relative I have found that participated in WWI. He was assigned to Surgical Team No. 7, A.E.F. To date I have found no information about his actual service and whether he was sent overseas. So, the obvious question is: Tell me about your WWI service.

12. William White - William White was my Mayflower ancestor. He arrived in America but died the first winter, leaving a wife and two small children. I would ask him this: Would you do it again?

Here are 12 questions I would ask any relative I was fortunate enough to meet.

1. Who were your parents?
2. Who were your grandparents?
3. Why did you immigrate/move cross country?
4. Did you ever have your photo taken and where can I find a copy?
5. What was your most prized possession?
6. What modern day invention would you most like to have had in your day?
7. What moment in my life are you most proud of?
8. What moment in your life would you like to re-live?
9. What moment in your life would you like to do over and change?
10. What historical moment will you always remember?
11. What was your favorite activity or past time?
12. What is your favorite memory and why?

And finally, here are 12 things I would tell my ancestors (in an assumption they have not been following the saga of my life!):

1. I wish I could have known you.
2. I love genealogy because it is important to me that your story is remembered.
3. I have a wonderful husband and two great (albeit crazy) sons.
4. My parents did a great job in raising me.
5. I think I received some of your traits: work ethic, desire to help my community, importance of family
6. I'm not religious, but I'm still a good person (important, I think, to let all of my uber-religious ancestors know).
7. I really enjoy working and especially love public relations.
8. My favorite invention is the Internet.
9. I enjoy sewing and especially quilting.
10. Service to country is very important to me and I appreciate your military service.
11. I would love to step back in time and live life in your shoes.

And last but not least,

12. I hope I make you proud.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories - Grab bag

My favorite memory of Christmases past is family gatherings. There was nothing better than the organized chaos of a big family in a small place.
A family gathering at my great-grandparents house circa 1977. I'm the short red head.
Our family was very busy during Christmas season. We would have one Christmas celebration at my great-grandparents house, Clifton and Hazel White. This celebration was reserved for a gift exchange with my great-grandparents and a huge potluck. Then our more immediate family would have a celebration at my grandparents' house. This celebration included my grandparents, their three children and all the spouses and grandchildren.
The second family gathering of the day.
This second celebration included another gift exchange. In later years it also included a massive potluck (when not held on the same day as the White family Christmas). There were always close to twenty people in a small house. There was a kid's table in the back room and some of the adults had to eat in the living room, but I don't ever remember hearing complaints. My mother would always bring her iced sugar cookies and my grandmother would make a turkey or chicken with all the fixings which included mashed potatoes, noodles, homemade yeast rolls and several pies.

My brother and I have since moved away and are not able to join in the family celebration anymore. My family does go back for the holidays, but we usually have to miss the big family gathering. Instead, we have a new tradition which includes my grandmother, parents, my children and my in-laws. My children are lucky to be the stars of the show!

But I remember back to the big groups and I miss tripping over people and being at the kid's table. What I wouldn't give to go back for just one Christmas.

To see my 2011 Grab bag - Christmas playlist post click here.

The Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories (ACCM) allows you to share your family’s holiday history 24 different ways during 24 days in December! Learn more here.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Follow Friday - Favorites

Favorites is my weekly list of favorite genealogy, history and random finds from across the Net.
Census adventures: Census Taker Proves a Hero
Good recipes to try at My Northern Ancestral Souls: Cooking with Grandma
Helping an Italian Prisoner in World War II
World War I recruitment: 1914 British WWI Recruitment Posters
Making historical recipes available online: Transcribe culinary history with the click of a mouse
DIY History by the University of Iowa libraries: Help build the historical record by doing it yourself
Photos of London in the early 1900s: The Streets of London
WWI trench talk entrenched today: The trench talk that is now entrenched in the English language
Exploring Missouri's role in The Great War: Missouri Over There

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories - Santa Claus letters

This is the first year that my oldest could write a letter to Santa. Writing letters to Santa has been a tradition in my family since my husband and I first got together. It was a way to let each other know what we would like and still keep the fun of Christmas! And now my son is in on the action, too.

My son's letter has reminded me of an important lesson about Christmas. For at least a month my husband and I have been determining what gifts to get our children. We usually try to get one "large" gift and a couple of small. We had all sorts of grandiose ideas for our oldest to include one of those hand-held educational tablets. But then I read my son's letter. He didn't want any whizzbang stuff. He asked for three simple toys. And on top of that he wanted to include some things for his Angel from the Salvation Army tree. The moral of the story? Christmas gets out of hand quickly because we as parents let it do so. If my son is given tons of pricey gifts now, he will grow to expect that. But if we focus on a few items he would really love we can make the holiday more about giving and less about getting.

Read my 2011 Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories - Santa Claus here.

The Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories (ACCM) allows you to share your family’s holiday history 24 different ways during 24 days in December! Learn more here.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories - Outdoor Decorations

One tradition with holiday lights that our family always observes is a tour of the Country Club Plaza, Kansas City, Missouri to see the holiday lights. Known as "The Plaza," with your pronunciation of the "a" dictating your financial status, the Country Club Plaza was designed in 1922 and was touted as the nation's first suburban shopping district. It's architecture and fountains are amazing. But my favorite draw is Christmas when the entire shopping district, 15 city blocks, is lit with Christmas lights.
Photo by ChrisM70 via
The Plaza is lit on Thanksgiving night with a celebration that draws thousands. My family went to the lighting ceremony when I was little and as soon as I could drive I started heading there with my friends. It was a tradition that we kept for years until I moved away. The lights stay on through early January.

There is something about the lights that just makes it seem like the holidays.

The Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories (ACCM) allows you to share your family’s holiday history 24 different ways during 24 days in December! Learn more here.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Military Monday - Gen. John Pershing, A Truman State Grad

I graduated from a small state school in northeast Missouri called Truman State University. When I started college in the fall of 1995 the school, in Kirksville, Missouri, was called Northeast Missouri State University, but the name was changed in 1996 to honor Missouri's only president.
Photo by Derhai, Wikimedia Commons.
I was immediately enthralled by the campus on my first visit and didn't even apply to any other colleges. Thank goodness I was accepted! During my freshman year I was put in Military Science, better known as the class you take when you are in ROTC. I loved it! Our classes were in Pershing Hall, which was the sports facility and also had classroom space. I knew that Black Jack Pershing was from Missouri (Laclede) and I thought the building was named to honor another great Missourian.
However, during a recent trip down memory lane I stumbled across a link on the Truman State University ROTC website that stated that Pershing was a graduate of the school. A little digging and I found that, sure enough, Pershing graduated with a Bachelor of Elementary Didactics degree in June 1880 from the then named First District Normal School. Soon after he attended West Point, graduating in 1882.

Pershing went on to a distinguished military career, serving in many positions to include commanding general of the American Expeditionary Forces during World War I. He was also Army Chief of Staff in the early 1920s and it all started in Missouri.

For more information on Gen. John Pershing visit the following links:

John J. Pershing, Historic Missourians, The State Historical Society of Missouri
General John J. Pershing, American Experience, PBS
The Pershing Museum
John J. Pershing Obituary, The New York Times