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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Trust But Verify

"Trust but verify." That's the #1 rule in genealogy and history research. Published books are secondary sources and very helpful but they can also contain errors. The information in secondary sources needs to be verified by a primary source such as a will, deed, gravestone, or other documents. Never assume. I thought I knew that. But I stumbled and it cost me a lot of wasted time and expense.
I have been working for more than a year to trace the descendants of 1754 immigrant Ulrich Burkholder of Bowmansville. He was the oldest brother of my ancestor, Christian. He is often confused with another Ulrich Burkholder who immigrated in 1732. I decided to trace the first four generations of the Bowmansville Ulrich in an attempt to resolve some of the confusion. It has never been done and was quite a task.
Ulrich had six children but only named three of them in his will. Finding the other three involved some work but eventually I had all six names from primary sources. They were Elizabeth, John, Peter, Anna, Maria, and Christian. Some of their families were easier to trace than others. Christian moved to Canada and left the best paper trail.
Elizabeth's husband, John Bowman, was one of the executors of Ulrich's estate. John Bowmans are as thick as flies around Bowmansville. But I found John and Elizabeth Bowman buried in the oldest cemetery in Bowmansville. (It was orgionally a family cemetery but the  Pine Grove Mennonite Church was later built in front of it.) John and Elizabeth had nice readable stones showing they were born in the 1760s. The death date on John's stone took me to his estate papers which gave me the names of his children. Tracing his descendants took me to Maryland, Mifflin County, Ohio, and other states in the Midwest. I have no idea how much time I spent tracing them but eventually I filled in all the blanks and was satisfied that the genealogy was complete.
THEN I showed it to another genealogist and he said, "But I thought her name was Elizabeth Clopper." Whoa!! He looked through his things and found a deed which proved he was right. There were two John Bowmans the same age married to Elizabeths. I had traced the wrong family. He was able to point me to another source for the right John and Elizabeth and their children but I am starting over. What went wrong? I assumed and did not verify Elizabeth's maiden name was Burkholder.
The sad thing is all the effort I put into tracing the wrong family. The good thing is that the mistake was caught before it was published in January. We have postponed publication until April to give me time to get it right. And I hope I have learned my lesson. Trust but verify and don't assume anything.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Thanksgiving 2012

Thanksgiving 2012 is behind us and I am thankful for an unscheduled weekend to unwind and relax.
We have spent the majority of our Thanksgiving holidays with Leroy's family. But the extended Stauffer family has grown so large it is a huge job to have two big dinners just a month apart. Their Thanksgiving dinner has been downsized the past few years. When I didn't hear any plans for this year I decided to take advantage of the opportunity to do something different. We invited our children and grandchildren, my siblings (and spouses), and two nephews (and children) who live nearby to come for a Burkholder Thanksgiving dinner.
The food was served caffeteria style on the pool table just like we used to do at my mom's house.
We can seat 32 at our folding tables and all but one were in use.

The day after Thanksgiving the women in our family (daughter and daughters-in-law) got together at Amy's house for our annual Christmas cookie bake. We baked some there and also brought some we had baked in advance.
Mine were all baked when I got there but the cut out Sugar Cookies needed to be decorated. That is always more fun if grandchildren help. Lauren, Kaden, and Arianna stuck with me until we were finished.
Both days were lots of fun. But I've been running at full speed the past two weeks and need to take a break. My calendar has only one thing on it for next week, for a change. That's good. Because just one week from today it will be December and we all know what that means.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Someone to Thank

The "holidays" are upon us again.  We have spent most of our Thanksgivings with Leroy's family but this year we are doing something different and having some of my family. The tables in the basement are set for thirty, the turkey is roasting, and my anticipation level is rising. In thinking about what I am thankful for, I find I have too many blessings to name. Here's one of my favorite songs that mentions the most important and basic ones.

There is Someone who daily my needs doth supply,
These good things don't just happen, there's Someone on high,
'Tis His mercy and grace that allows me to live;
He deserves all the thanks I can give.

There are many who do not believe in the Lord,
Say He never existed to create the world;
Oh, how empty their hearts and how lonely their days
With no Jesus to thank and to praise.

Greatest gift that the Father has granted to me,
Is the gift of salvation that sets my soul free.
Oh, I never can thank Him enough for His love,
As he watches from heaven above.

I have Someone to thank for every new day,
I have Someone to thank for the gifts on life's way;
He's the One who expects and One who accepts
All the thanks that I feel each day.

Monday, November 19, 2012


Our Sunday school lesson last Sunday was on Peter taking the Gospel to the gentiles. He needed a special vision from God before he understood that God had always intended to include people of all nations in the plan of salvation. One of the aims of the lesson was to challenge us to think about ourselves and if we are failing to reach out to some classes of people because we think they are hopeless.
Our nephew was scheduled to teach the men's class at his church so he decided to conduct an experiment before church. He dressed in scruffy clothes and walked back and forth along the road by the church holding a sign that said, "Help! Unemployed. Need food for children."
Lots of people passed him on their way to church. Of those who turned in and parked at his church, ONE man walked out and asked what he could do to help him. When it was time for church to start he went inside, changed clothes, and joined in the service.
As he taught the men's class he kept referring to "that homeless man" walking along the road that morning. Yes, most of them had seen him. No, they had not done anything about it. Just before the class was dismissed he confessed, "that homeless man was me." He said it was worth every bit to see the looks on their faces.
Gotcha! It's easy to sit in a Sunday school class and talk about reaching out to all classes of people and agree that's what we should do. But it is something else to actually SEE someone in need and DO something about it.
Reality check. We don't drive that stretch of road on our way to church but what would we have done if we had? Would we have been a Good Samaritan or just passed by on the other side?

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Medicare Maze

I will soon reach the magical age when I am eligible for Medicare. I knew for years this day was coming but now it is here and it's time to make some decisions. I have already procrastinated several months but time is running out. I need to settle on something this month for my coverage to begin on December 1.
Why do they make it so complicated? There are PPO, HMO, Supplement, and Drug Plans to choose from. And multiple carriers for each of those to boot. I have to take into consideration the monthly premiums, co-pays, in-network pharmacies and doctors, prescriptions I'm taking. Then too, I need to consider my physical condition and projected needs for the next year.
After doing some homework and having a consultation with an impartial advisor, I think I've decided on something and am ready to sign up. It's scary because I'll be locked in for a year. But if I don't like it I can change to something else next year. That's the exciting part. I get to do this all over again next year. Each year we need to look at the changes in the plans and/or our medical conditions and figure out what is the best fit for the coming year. Maybe it won't be as hard to decide the second year.
I remember my aunt (who was in her 80s) saying, "This getting old isn't for wimps." I guess I'm just beginning to learn what she meant.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Moving On

It's the day after the election and I am glad to have all that fuss behind us. In the end, gobs of money were spent and nothing changed. We have the same President and opposite parties in control of the House and Senate which means it will be politics as usual in Washington. I suppose the money that was spent on advertising put food on some people's tables but to me it seems like it was a big ado for nothing.
Now that all the election is over we can turn our attention to something more positive---like giving  thanks for all our blessings. I'll start by being thankful we were only out of electric for three days in Hurricane Sandy and our lives have returned to normal. Many people are not so fortunate and will be dealing with the after-effects of the storm for a long time.
A side benefit of the hurricane is that it blew most of the leaves down and away. Normally Leroy is cleaning up leaves every week until Thanksgiving. The nor'easter that is due to arrive tonight will probably dispose of most of the remaining leaves.
This part of the world is starting to look like winter with the leaves down. I cut off the mums this afternoon which gives the flower beds a bare look too. Life has moved indoors and I'm already started on my list of things to do this winter. Each season has a beauty and benefits of its own and I'm ready to move on into the next season.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Hurricane Report

The big monster storm called Hurricane Sandy is over--at least in these parts. There are many people all along the eastern seaboard who are still suffering and will have a lot of work to clean up. In comparison, we were whipped lightly.
The worst part of the storm here was the wind which blew down a lot of trees and wires. The eight inches of rain that was predicted amounted to only 1.5 inches here so this area was spared from flooding. The wind and rain increased Monday afternoon and by 5 p.m. Leroy was glad to be home. He got his generator ready to go after supper and went down to the garage for the gas can when the lights went out. I had managed to get a shower about two minutes before the power went off.
The wind just roared all night and I didn't sleep much. I wasn't afraid or worried but I just am not used to that much noise at night. The power was off until about 3 this afternoon. That was almost three full days.
After Hurricane Irene last summer and the heavy snow in October, both of which left us without power for days, Leroy got a generator that is big enough to run the furnace and pump water. It sat in the garage all this time without even being started. But it sure was nice to have now. It wasn't like having regular electric because we couldn't run everything at once. But we could at least function. I didn't have to sit in the dark and we could wash dishes, get showers, and keep warm.
I passed the time by crocheting. I started on Monday and the thing is close to half finished. It kept me from going crazy but I am ready to do something else! I'll start by cooking supper (on the stove instead of just warming something in the microwave) and then go out in the big world this evening. I am scheduled to be at a book signing tonight. It could have come at a worse time but I am ready to get my life back.