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Thursday, September 27, 2007

Vacation Report

My "vacation" is over (boo-hoo). It is going to take me the rest of this week to get my act together and then next week I will try to go on. I looked forward to the visit of the Good cousins for months and the days flew by so fast. But the memories will last longer than the months of anticipation, so I can savor them whenever I like.
Trying to give a complete report of the past 12 days would result in a very lengthy post, so I will try to recap and touch on the highlights.
Don Good, from Texas, was the first to arrive. He flew into Harrisburg and showed up on our doorstep around 10:45p.m. on September 15. The next day was Sunday, so we went to church in the morning and after lunch drove down to spend the rest of the day in the Bowmansville area. One of the stops was at the Good Homestead on Good Road, which is now owned by Luke Burkholder. We walked around the grounds and talked to Luke outside. One of the big questions was where Jacob Good built his first (probably log) house. Luke told us he dug up some big foundation stones when he was burying a fuel tank next to the house. That was pretty clear evidence to us that the first house stood very nearly on the same spot as the current stone house, which was built in 1852.
Another big question was, "Where are the original deeds to the property?" Don asked Luke if he has any old deeds. He said he has one and took us out to the office of his shop where he opened the safe and pulled out a sheepskin deed from 1769 transferring the property from Jacob I to Jacob II. What a treasure! We could not believe we had found something so rare and valuable on the very first day.
Monday (17th) was a day to tour the local area here and tell Don what I had found about his Lauck ancestors. The Host church, which stands about a quarter mile from our house has record of some of his Laucks being married and baptized there.
Tuesday (18th) we spent the day at the Lancaster Mennonite Historical Society. We found a few things and talked to Carolyn Wenger who is the Archivist. Don told her how excited we were to find the deed on Sunday. He went on to say it is the first deed transferring the land from father to son but not the Patent Jacob I got from the Penns. Carolyn calmly said, "I think I have that one." Don and I looked at each other in disbelief. But a few minutes later, Carolyn came back with the Patent in her hand.

A sheepskin deed and Patent in the first three days!! I had very little hope of finding these old documents and to find two of them in three days time was far more than we could have dreamed. Don's ancestor, Jacob II, moved on to Virginia and died there. His son, Abraham, stayed in PA and got the farm. So the two documents we found are the very two which contain the signatures of Don's two Good ancestors.
Wednesday (19th) we went back to Lancaster to visit the courthouse and Lancaster County Historical Society. We got copies of a few wills, deeds, and other tidbits but nothing as big as a sheepskin deed. He went to the airport at Harrisburg to pick up his two cousins, Ginny Traycik and Meredith Mauck, who arrived (from Florida and Kansas) in the late afternoon. Another cousin, Millie and her husband Wayne Croy (from Missouri), also arrived on Wednesday afternoon but went straight to their motel at Reading.
Thursday (20th) was the group's "tourist day." We were at the Leola Produce Auction at 9 a.m. I had called Noah Oberholtzer (who works there) to make arrangements to visit with them on Sunday so he knew who I was bringing. When I introduced him to Don, Noah said, "I saw there were strangers here, but you don't look like a foreigner. If you told me you were from Brownstown I would believe it." That "foreigner" comment was repeated for the duration of the trip! We did other touristy things like Bird-in-Hand, Intercourse, Ephrata Cloister, and wound up at Jonathan and Ada Martin where Don and Jonathan had a good genealogical conversation while the ladies looked at quilts.
Friday (21st) found the group back in Bowmansville where we met Henry Horning and his wife. Henry lives in the area and knows the people and places better than I do. He was our tour leader there, beginning with the grave site of Jacob Good I at Pine Grove Mennonite Church.

Left to right--Ginny, Meredith, Don, Millie & Wayne

The whole group toured the Good Homestead. Don had called Luke and asked him to get the deed out of the safe again so he could photograph it. While the group toured the house, I sat down and transcribed the entire deed directly from the sheepskin. It was easier to do that way than to try do it from photographs. The thing was about 20 inches long and full of writing. It took me a lot longer than I expected, but I got every word. Our next appointment was with Ron Funk who had agreed to show us through the Bowmansville Roller Mill which he owns and is preserving. He gave us a thorough 2 hour tour which was very interesting. In the evening Ron and his wife went with us to Shady Maple Smorgasbord for supper. The Good cousins all declared they had never seen such a large restaurant or choice of foods. Saturday (22nd) the Good cousins went on a tour of Philadelphia sponsored by the Lancaster Mennonite Historical Society. While they were gone, we had our day crammed with other activities which included a sale, wedding, and school reunion.
Sunday (23rd) the whole group went to church with us and came to our house for dinner. After dinner Millie and Wayne left for home. The rest of us piled in their rented van and drove to Noah Oberholtzer's place at Leola by way of Ephrata and Fairmount hill. Noah and his wife went with us to see the spring at Groffdale which attracted Hans Graeff to settle there. Peter Gut (Good), the father of Jacob I, owned 100 acres of land across the road from Hans Graeff. After seeing the spring and Peter's land, we went back to Noah's place. He gave the "foreigners" a buggy ride.

Monday (24th) Don, Ginny, Meredith, and I headed for Virginia to see the place Jacob Good II lived from about 1800 until his death in 1803. The first day was largely spent touring the Gettysburg Battlefield. We hired a guide to ride with us and tell us what we were seeing. It was well worth the $45 cost. We got to Harrisonburg, VA by supper time and checked into our separate Comfort Inn rooms. David Steinberg had agreed to be our VA guide. He came to meet us at the motel and make plans for the next day.
Tuesday (25th) David Steinberg met us at 8:30 a.m. and was our navigator. Our first stop was the EMU library where we found some things and made a stack of copies. Then we visited a few cemeteries, including Singers Glen where Frances Good, the wife of Jacob II was buried in 1826. She was the first person buried in this cemetery, followed by her son Daniel and his wife who were the second and third burials on this steep hill cemetery.

Our next stop was the courthouse in Harrisonburg which yielded a few results but not everything we had hoped to find. We also visited the Early Cemetery where some surmise Jacob II is buried (on the other side of town from the cemetery where his wife is buried). If he was buried there, his stone has not survived. As usual for this group, it was dark by the time we had supper and called it a day.
Wednesday (26th) we swung by Trissels Mennonite Church to stomp through another cemetery on our way north. Then we hit the Interstate and made it to Harrisburg in time for Ginny to catch her flight home. Don, Meredith, and I went from there to Lancaster for another raid of the courthouse there and then swung by Bowmansville again to catch a few forgotten items. We got home a little after 5:30 p.m. I had a "quickie" meal in the back of my head for just such an occasion and it came in handy. Leroy grilled some sausages while Meredith stirred together a salad and in less than a half hour we had supper on the table. Meredith preferred to spend the night at Lantern Lodge, so she headed there after supper.
Thursday (27th) Meredith had said she would be back to pick up Don at 9 a.m. but made a wrong turn on the way and didn't get here until 10. Her flight out of Harrisburg was leaving at 11:50 so there was still enough time to make it. Don's flight was scheduled to leave at 2:30 p.m. We had a wonderful time together and I enjoyed every minute of my local vacation. We found the answers to some questions and made some amazing finds, but other questions remain unanswered. Just before they left Don said something about this being their "first trip." He can see it will take another trip to get more answers to the unsolved riddles that remain. I have a feeling they will be back someday. And they are more than welcome.
I could make a career of digging for documents and stomping in cemeteries! But there are other things on my "to-do" list and I guess I will have to go back to the daily grind. Vacations are meant to be enjoyed and then savored in memory.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Vacation Schedule

I will be "on vacation" here at home the next two weeks. Five Good cousins are coming to look at their PA roots. I'm sure I will enjoy being their "tour leader." The first one arrives this evening and the others come Wednesday, 19th. Here is the basic schedule we have worked out, although some things could change as we go along.
Sunday, Sept. 16--Bowmansville area, Good Homestead
Monday--Lauck ancestor sites in Berks County, John Schmid program at Hinkletown Mennonite School in the evening
Tuesday--Lancaster Mennonite Historical Society, Gary & Judy Good come here for supper
Wednesday--Lancaster Courthouse, pick up two women at Harrisburg airport and come back here for supper
Thursday--Lancaster County "tourist" day seeing things such as Leola Produce Market, Ephrata Cloister, Lapp Valley Farm, etc.
Friday--The whole group sees the Bowmansville area, Shady Maple for supper
Saturday--The group takes a tour of Philadelphia sponsored by the Lancaster Mennonite Historical Society, I scramble to do all my own things
Sunday, Sept. 23--The whole group attends our church and comes here for dinner, see the Groffdale area where the oldest Good immigrant first lived, get a buggy ride at Leola
Monday--two leave
Monday - Wednesday--side trip to Gettysburg and then on to Harrisonburg, VA to see where the Goods lived in VA, search for some documents, EMU library, etc. Return to PA in time for one to catch her flight out of Harrisburg
Thursday, Sept. 27--The last two leave.
Since history is my passion, I'm expecting to have a grand time. Posting may be sporadic or nonexistent until after Sept. 27.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

A Win/Win Situation

This afternoon I took the 33rd jar of applesauce out of the canner, cleaned up the mess, and hung the "closed" sign on the canning season for 2007. Although I no longer can and freeze as much as I used to when the family was all at home, I am always glad when the season is over and I can do other things. Is canning and freezing food worth all the work?
I would not have to can and freeze a year's supply of food each summer, but store-bought products do not hold a candle to homemade. And it is so nice to have my own private supermarket in the basement. Cooking does not require much pre-planning with meat in the freezer, potatoes and vegetables from the garden, and jars of canned fruit on the shelves in the basement. A couple months of canning yields enough convenience foods for the rest of the year.
I've been pushing to finish canning this week because I will have guests in the house the next two weeks. Five Good cousins are coming to look at their Lancaster County roots which go back to the 1700s. I will be running hither and yon with them, digging for information and looking at the places related to their family history. This comes at a just the right time--after I finish canning and before I start the next fall project. I'm going to be on vacation right here at home for the next two weeks. I'll consider it my reward for the summer's employment--and as a bonus I get to eat the fruits of my labor until next summer. It's a win/win situation.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

The "Real" Story

My mother always told me that my name came from Romaine Hertzog--a girl she knew and admired for her piano playing. But early Monday morning the real reason was revealed to me in a dream.
I thought I was talking to someone who also has an uncommon name. He asked me what I tell people when they ask where I got my name. I said I tell them, "My mother gave it to me." (No kidding. Somebody once actually asked me where I got my name and that's what I told her.) But then the story drifted into fantasy mode. I went on to tell the guy what really happened was that my mother found me under a cabbage leaf in the garden, thought it was lettuce, and named me Romaine. So that's the "real" story of how I got my name. :-)