Saturday, March 28, 2009

...AND PENNY MAKES EIGHT !

Sometimes miracles within a family come in ways that we least expect. The saga of this story began in the late 1990's.

This was a particularly hard time for all of our family. Relationships within our own little family were strained as we were confronted by some very hard facts of life involving our youngest son. At the same time my Mother and Dad were in declining health and other problems began to pile on. Our oldest son took himself out of the situation and moved in with his grandparents while he finished high school. I was glad that they had someone with them but missed him not being home with us. Our youngest son dropped out of school and was in with the wrong "crowd". There seemed to be little help because after age 16 the schools would not work to legally keep a child enrolled. The next few short years brought mostly sorrow and tragedy to our youngest son and our family. At the same time that his life was in turmoil, we lost both of my parents. All the years that my parents were here had been the best years for all of us. They were the binder that had kept our large and extended families so close. We had truly been blessed and had known little sorrow before those years of the late 90's.

In 2001, after a hard couple of years, things had begun to look up for us all. Our oldest son had settled in Wyoming, was working and happy. Our youngest son was striving to move forward in a positive way and had rekindled a relationship with his first love. They were married and to them were born beautiful twin girls in 2003. They were our first grandchildren and they brought such hope and joy for the future of our family. One of the babies became seriously ill a short time later and again we were all thrown into despair as we worried and prayed for her recovery. Thankfully, after several weeks she did recover which again gave us hope.

By 2004 our son's marriage had ended and his girls stayed with their mother. Again the family was torn apart and it seemed as though it would never be healed. The next year (2005)brought new light once again. Our son had met a wonderful new lady and brought her into our lives. She came not empty handed, but with four children of her own and before long we had yet another new grandchild added to the mix. They have struggled and worked hard to make their families become one and whole. All of these children have brought great new enjoyment to us. It is as if they have always been here and part of us. It is hard to look back without seeing them as a part of us and part of our history from the very start.

Time was moving fast now and by the end of 2006 our children had fought for and gained full custody of our son's twin daughters. The family was growing fast again and now had grown to seven children. We had become grandparents several times over in just a few short years! By the Grace of God and with a lot of hard work our family was getting back on track once more.


Both of our sons were moving onward and upward with their lives and we were so very proud of them both. Our youngest, who had fallen to near the bottom in his teen years had picked himself up, with the help of the Lord, and become Dad to seven children in the blink of an eye. It took a lot of work as one would imagine, but he has excelled beyond our dreams. He has a life partner to walk side-by-side down that path with. He goes to college, has a small family business on the side, and is a great "Mr. Mom". Our awesome and talented daughter-in-law teaches full time in an inter-city middle school. Most importantly, all of these children are happy and healthy with the love and support of two great parents.

I believe that our past in no small measure, leads us to our present. The road may indeed be rocky, but how and where we ultimately end up defines who we are.

One never knows what life may throw at us. A lot of it is exceptional and good, sometimes it puts us down into the pits of despair but one thing is for sure- we must never give up hope!

Our generations are growing close and now making their own memories, while NEVER leaving memories of their parents, grandparents, and loved ones far behind.This genealogy loving Grandma could not be happier. My family is whole again and just look at all the Grandchildren and step-Grandchildren who will need their history and ancestors to be uncovered! Who are we if we have no idea as to where we have been?

AND......, oh yes, how could I have forgotten? The year 2009 brought us all yet another miracle, a new bundle of joy. Our beautiful little " PENNY MAE" who was born on the 2nd day of January and named after her very own GGGGrandma----well,--- now, our Penny makes eight!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

"BUFFALO BILL" GOES DIGITAL


Are you related to William F. Cody, "Buffalo Bill"- or just interested in the study of his life? Great new announcement will make a vast amount of his historical records available to the public soon.

My family and I have visited the BUFFALO BILL HISTORICAL CENTER in Cody, Wyoming on two different occasions and have found it to be one of the best American West Museums available. You will never be disappointed if you plan your vacation or research trip to see this wonderful collection. Our boys were only 8 and 9 when we last visited but they both often talk about the great things they saw and learned about while there nearly 20 years ago. Our memories have carried us through the years and prompted my husband and I to plan another vacation there again this summer. This time our boys are now long gone from home so we will travel from Nebraska to Cody, Wyoming by motorcycle. We look forward to all new adventures on the trip and to finding great things to study once we get there.

A recent news release in March from the Buffalo Bill Historical Center in Cody, Wyoming offers exciting news for the genealogist/family researcher. The center has raised over $300,000 from private donors, matching $300.000 from the Wyoming Legislature and an additional sizable grant from the Federal Government to help move forward the plans to bring the massive holdings of the museum into the digital age. "Buffalo Bill" Cody's personal correspondence, Wild West show records, photographs, and the rest of the McCracken Research Library holdings will all be digitized over the next 3-4 years. This will make available thousands of images for use through the Historical Center's website. They hope to finish within approximately 3 years, having added additional staff, and will offer the records free of charge. This is one of the largest holdings involving the life and history of William F. Cody.

The McCracken Research Library which is housed within the Buffalo Bill Historical Center is a wonderful place to spend some time doing research while also visiting the unparalleled exhibits of the Historical Center. Often it requires reservations to use the library for major research so be sure to contact them ahead if you plan a visit. The Center also houses 5 great museums: THE BUFFALO BILL MUSEUM, THE PLAINS INDIAN MUSEUM, THE WHITNEY GALLERY OF WESTERN ART, THE DRAPER MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY (of the Yellowstone Basin Area), and THE CODY FIREARM MUSEUM home to the "Winchester Collection" which is one of the premier firearms displays in the world.

At this time there are already hundreds of digitized photos and other ephemera already online at the Center's web site with more being added daily. Go online at the BUFFALO BILL HISTORICAL CENTER and spend some time looking at what they have to offer. There are wonderful photos and documents that reflect both "Buffalo Bill" the man- and our great American history.

Cody, Wyoming and the Buffalo Bill Historical Center lie just to the east of Yellowstone Park so if you plan a vacation to the area, be sure to include the Center in your vacation. It is a grand place for any historian/genealogist/researcher/or firearms collector, whether you visit in person or peruse their online digital collection.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Taking Root In Nebraska !




Thomas Gordon Gardner was my great, great, Grandfather. His journey through life brought him to Nebraska where the Roots of my family were planted.

Thomas Gardner and his wife, Mary Ellen Allen were both born in Kentucky. They married in 1860 in the state of Missouri. Thomas served in the Missouri state militia for three years prior to his enlistment in the Union Army at Maryville, Missouri in 1865. He served during the Civil War and was discharged later that same year.

Mary Ellen and Thomas came to Nebraska around the year 1883 and settled in Custer County., near the village of Westerville. There they homesteaded and had timber culture lands. It was on that little farmstead that they raised their eight children, seven of whom lived to adulthood and had families of their own. Their sixth child, Willis David Gardner, was my great Grandfather. Mary Ellen Gardner died in Custer County, Nebraska in 1897. Thomas Gordon Gardner died in the near by town of Broken Bow, Custer County, Nebraska in the year 1929.

In the year 2008, my sister-in-law and I took a trip through central and eastern Nebraska on our way to the Nebraska Genealogical Society's Annual Conference in Lincoln, Nebraska. We attended the conference over three days, made research stops, visited several relatives, haunted the halls of a couple libraries while doing research, and most importantly-we visited several old family cemeteries. It was great fun and educational to say the least!

One of our stops was a visit to the old Booknau (Westerville) Cemetery near Westerville, Custer County, Nebraska to locate and visit the graves of Thomas Gordon and Mary Ellen Gardner. The cemetery is a beautiful old country cemetery on top of a hill and is still used today by the small population of a once busy community.

Next stop, location of the nearby homestead of Thomas Gardner. It lies just to the North and west of the town of Westerville. The old house still barely stands, close to 125 years old. It is a rare beauty standing in a small grove of trees at the edge of a pasture and very near a public dirt road. Outside is the windmill and old water pump that served our loved ones. We were accompanied by another cousin as we scouted out the property and took photos. We felt as if we had discovered a sunken treasure of gold ! One dreams that it must have been a grand and happy little home for our ancestors in it's day. We managed to come home with some weathered boards and a few old bricks from the crumbled chimney. These were truley treasures to cherish as they had been touched by the hands of those who had gone before us and planted those precious Nebraska Roots.

If you have not visited the town, home, or final resting place of one of your forefathers; you may be missing a precious piece that belongs in your heart. It wells up wonderful feelings of love and pride in your SOUL !

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Life Looking Back

Here it is, March 2009 already. Today was a day of memories which included family and other loved ones who are now gone. Remembering the past is almost as important as looking to the future. Our past makes up part of who we are today. Those who have gone before us have left us with a most precious legacy. We should cherish it everyday going forward.

Today I remember My Dad, his birthday would have been coming up on March 9th. It is his legacy which has made me who I am more than any other. Love of family, love and respect for the natural world around us, and learning about history were all wonderful gifts given to me and his other children. How lucky we were to have had him.

My future blogs will include what I hope will be interesting facets of my family's life told from my precious memories. Growing up in a wonderful extended family, surrounded by fun and love. I will include photos, stories, traveling, some scrapbooking and most importantly the genealogy and a lot of the history of an exceptional family. My love of family and it's genealogy will hopefully shine through. Some will be the good times and some the harder times but they all have contributed to who I and my family are.

Join me as I begin this journey. It will be a learning experience but I have the guidance of my wonderful sister-in-law who is herself a professional genealogist, to set me going down the right road. She has encouraged her daughter and me to start writing....so we are off and moving forward. Please visit their blogs at Genealogy Lines and Growing Up Genealogy.