Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas Greetings To All

We sincerely wish all our wonderful friends and readers a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! We are very appreciative of all our followers, to you a big thank you. May you have an enjoyable holiday with friends and family and be blessed with a bountiful table, fun times and great memories of 2010.

We will be back with more "old memories" after the holiday with our own family and would love to have you all join us again in 2011.

from Geoff and Cheri Hopkins

Monday, December 20, 2010

Sharing Christmas Pudding Memories

As Christmas draws near, I have been thinking a lot about those wonderful family gatherings of past. Our large extended family always gathered at Mom and Dad’s either on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day to celebrate all together. Each of us children had our own homes and families and spent time in our own homes but we never missed the gathering with our parents at their home. Christmas just wasn’t complete unless we made the trek to Mom and Dad’s for the great food and precious time to be together. Mom made the best chili and oyster stew in Nebraska. Her chili was more like soup than thick stand alone chili but it was the best and not one family member remembers those special times without recalling that chili. She always made it by the gallons too. All of her children and grandchildren are good cooks but our varied chili recipes never tasted quite the same as Moms’ chili. The evening was always topped off with a dish of Mom’s suet Christmas pudding, just “suet pudding” as our family always called it. The thought of that rich, warm, and luscious dessert always brings back the flood of old memories.
Our holiday times together were often highlighted by watching Mom and Dad open their special gifts from the whole family. We all piled on the furniture and around the floor to watch them open the Christmas gifts from everyone. Watching them delight in their new treasures was better than all the gifts any of us could receive. Dad, especially, was thrilled with anything he got. Beautiful collectible books, western figurines, American Indian artwork, motorcycle magazines, humorous motor gadgets, long red neck scarves and especially the unique handmade trinkets from all the grandcildren were all delights to him. I remember the year that his brother from Idaho sent him a real “turd bird”. They always exchanged something humorous. We all laughed until we cried but I think it was one of the best presents that Dad received that year. It sat on his desk in his gun room for many years to come as a great conversation piece and always called up the great memories of that particular Christmas eve. It did not matter what it was or if it fit or not, he never exchanged anything… but put it to use one way or the other and if it didn’t fit, he just modified it! He had a great laugh that delighted especially the kids and it was truly a jolly laugh, not unlike old Santa himself!
While the wonderful aroma of the steamed Christmas suet pudding was filling the house and the fragrant rum sauce for topping drifted in the air we often spent time singing around the organ in the living room. I played some and sister-in-law, Ruby, was the accomplished musician. I don’t think any of us were very blessed with beautiful voices but that didn’t matter, we sang and played just the same. Of course the traditional Christmas carols were performed but we made quite a ruckus with such presentations as “Alley Cat” and “The Bird in the Gilded Cage”. Dad often played the banjo or occasionally the violin in accompaniment, always signing along too. With sometimes near 20 family members in the compact living room singing our hearts out, looking back, it was enough to scare even Santa away. He always seemed to show up though so maybe we weren’t as bad as I remember. We certainly did our part to rejoice in the season! Even the Lord must have been pleased because we were blessed with many years of celebrating and being all together for Christmas.
Anticipation grew among us all as we waited for Mom to announce that the suet pudding was ready to eat. Her special gift to us all was the warm and loving home she had worked so many years to provide. She was a cook extraordinaire, not fancy dishes but the best homemade food there was. She collected recipes both old and new but I never once saw her resort to using one as her lone road map to culinary success. She had the natural touch and everything was wonderful. She always said her Mother was a great cook so I think she surely came by it naturally. Last night and ironically while looking for another recipe, I found the copy of that old Christmas pudding recipe. It is large probably about ten by fourteen inches and was folded into a small bundle and had been wedged in the bottom of Mom’s old recipe box, under many other recipes, clippings etc. Over the years it has been folded and refolded until the folds are tearing and parts of it are nearly separated. Looking at that old Christmas Suet Pudding recipe, one would have to assume she could just make it work as the recipe itself is a tattered and torn paper with the original ingredients written in the hand of my Grandma, Pearl Moore, and just later notes added to the page by my Mom. Notes that only she knew exactly what they meant. The joy of finding that precious piece of paper cannot be expressed. It is my Christmas treasure. I tried to make Mom’s suet pudding only once since she has been gone as I could never find just the right recipe. I had looked but just didn’t have her original and had watched her many times over the years as she made the tasty concoction but never paid enough attention to the detail. I sit here thinking that if I could only go back once more and watch and learn, those shortcomings of youth indifference often come back many years later as we realize the missed opportunities.
As time went on and it was getting late on Christmas Eve, finally it was served and it was so worth the wait. The memories, the smells, the taste; they all come rushing back as I fondly hold the old paper and write this blog. Although the family gatherings had been wonderful, that pudding cake was the final treasure, the sweet ending to every Christmas gathering for many years in the past. New traditions can now be passed on to my children and grandchildren as they will have the copy of Grandma and Mom’s Suet Christmas pudding. I hope it will encourage them to make the pudding and serve it as part of their celebrations as they create their own fond family memories.
Christmas pudding, also known as plum pudding (because of the abundance of prunes), originated in England. It is traditionally made five weeks before Christmas, on or after the Sunday before Advent. That day was often deemed "Stir-up Sunday," and each family member or child in the household gave the pudding a stir and made a wish.
The rich and heavy pudding is boiled or steamed, made of a heavy mixture of fresh or dried fruit, nuts and sometimes suet, a raw beef or mutton fat. My Mom always used fresh ground beef suet that she ordered from the old local meat market. Modern recipes say that vegetarian suet may also be used for a lighter taste. The pudding is very dark, almost black, and for extra flavor can be sprinkled with brandy or other flavored alcohols as it is wrapped for storage. The puddings used to be boiled in a "pudding cloth," but today they are usually made in glass baking dishes, baking crockery, fancy pudding tins or even tin vegetable or coffee cans like my Mom always used.
Many households stirred silver coins (for wealth), tiny wishbones (for good luck), a silver thimble (for thrift), a ring (for marriage), or an anchor (for safe harbor) into the mixture, and when served, whoever got the lucky serving, would be able to keep the charm. Now you can buy special little trinkets at any large culinary store that are made for baking into the concoction.
After the pudding has been steamed, it is cooled, removed from the baking container, wrapped in parchment and kept in a cool dry place for several weeks or longer. Mom always froze extra and it keeps very well, even for months. It will need steamed for a couple hours more on the day it is served. There are different ways Christmas pudding is served. Some decorate it with a spray of holly, douse it in brandy or set it on fire as it is brought to the table. Mom always served it in individual dishes with the warm rum sauce and a dollop of cream. We sat around the living room eating the pudding and ending a special night as a family.
Christmas pudding may be garnished with brandy butter, rum butter, hard sauce, cream, or even with custard. My Mom made a homemade vanilla butter sauce with a few drops of rum extract or real rum added and topped it with a small dollop of whipped cream!
One Cup bread crumbs
One Cup flour
One Cup fresh ground suet
One Cup sugar
½ Cup dark molasses
½ Cup sweet milk
One egg
One tsp. baking powder
One tsp. each of allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves
One cup raisins, currants, or any kind of dry fruits
(she usually used a mixture of all!)
One cup of finely chopped nuts
Mix together all the dry ingredients. Stir in the eggs and mix through well. Turn the mix into 4-1pint or 2-2 pint lightly-greased pudding basins or tin cans. Put a circle of baking parchment and foil over the top of each basin and tie securely with string or rubber band. Put the containers in a large steamer of boiling water and cover with a lid. Steam puddings for 3 - 5 hours, topping the boiling water off from time to time if necessary. If you don't have a steamer, put the basins in a large pan on inverted saucers on the base. Pour in boiling water to come a third of the way up the sides of the pudding bowls or cans. Cover and steam as before. Cool. Change the baking parchment and foil covers for fresh ones and tie up as before. Store in a refrigerator or you can freeze until Christmas Day. To serve the pudding on Christmas Day, steam for 2 hours and serve with brandy butter, rum sauce, cream or home-made custard.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Orphaned Old Photos-Kellenbarger, Frye, Hogue, Horn (NE & IA)

Kellenbarger, Frye, Hogue, Johnson, Gardner (Ne and IA)-old photos. I "inherited" two very large boxes of old photos from a cousin of my Dad's who had no living direct relatives. I have worked on and off with these for a month now. What a collection, over 500 photos! Labeling what I can and soon sending some on to other people that re...lated on the other side of the family. A sad lot, some great pics but many damaged by moisture, etc. Some are getting thrown out which is a heart breaker but they are damaged and musty and no one to give them too. Scanning all the good ones and even some not so good ones. Sad to see someone's life and family almost come to an end--even in the photo department. I will be the caretaker for years to come with what is left. Will my boys ever care or pass them on? I sure hope so. Surnames: KELLENBARGER, FRYE, JOHNSON, HOGUE, GARDNER, HORN, AND OTHERS. These are all from the central Nebraska area near Broken Bow and some from the Corydon, Iowa area. Many late 1800's pics too. Contact me if you think you are related!
I have included just two photos--names or pics look familiar?

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Wordless Wednesday-Barbara Elizabeth Troyer

Barbara Troyer was born 15 Oct 1884 in Iowa City, Johnson Co., Iowa to Andrew Troyer and Sarah Stutzman. "Lizzie" as she was known was truly a "beautiful" young lady. She was my husbands great Grandmother. Lizzie, as a young woman, lived a lot of the early history of Wyoming, her father being a foreman of the Two-Bar Ranch which was part of the famous Swan Land and Cattle Company ranch system in Wyoming. She met and married Benjamin F. Smith, he being a cowboy for the ranch and they were married in Cheyenne, Wyoming in 1905. Barbara Elizabeth Troyer Smith had three daughters, several grandchildren and great grandchildren. She passed away on 5 May 1968 in Wheatland, Wyoming.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

9/11...We Weep!

We Weep

On this day of not so long ago...
We lost the smiles of so many good Americans
to the senseless actions of a few.

On this day of not so long ago...
The whole of our country did weep at the sad
and fateful outcome of our day.

On this day of not so long ago...
All of our lives were forever changed by the
grievous loss brought about by the actions of a few.

On this day of not so long ago...
Our beloved America was struck hard and could
easily have failed under the onslaught of the day.

On this day of not so long ago...
We managed to rally and come together as
one to condemn the heinous actions of those few.

On this day of not so long ago...
Our country began to rise up and be stronger,
we were not beaten and this was not the end of our day.

On this day of not so long ago...
The souls of nearly three thousand showed to the
world that they were stronger than those of the few.

On this day of not so long ago...
The God and creator of our Country stepped in
again and offered to help save us and our day.

On this day of not so long ago...
Our memories were vivid, our hearts full of sorrow,
man had struck man with hatred in the hearts of but a few.

On this day of not so long ago...
Our people cried and prayed as we grieved those dead,
as this would forever be... their sacred day.

On this day of not so long ago...
Our President stood tall as his people turned to God,
they had not won... those lowly few.

On this day of not so long ago...
Slowly we began to heal, the strength of all our souls
combined and ensured; this would not be the end of our day.

Today we remember that day of not so long ago...
With help from our God, our America still stands, her people
yet steadfast as we again mourn... and condemn the few.

© Cheri Coleman Hopkins, 2010

Friday, September 3, 2010

Follow Friday: Fishkill Supply Depot Revolutionary War Site

For the Geneabloggers sponsored Follow Friday , I would like to recommend a relatively new site: Friends of the Fishkill Supply Depot. Below is a small excerpt taken from their site. We are fast loosing many of our historical sites and these folks are working to preserve this important part of our history from sale and development. Many or our revolutionary ancestors are believed to be buried here.

The Friends of the Fishkill Supply Depot have several aids on their website of material of use to researchers and historians. Many of us may have ancestors who served and were possibly bivouacked in this area during the Revolutionary War.

What is the Fishkill Supply Depot?

Named over three decades ago as "the last of the important Revolutionary War sites yet to be properly explored," the Fishkill Supply Depot remains so today: a one-of-a-kind site of national importance that has never gotten its due. Fishkill, New York, contains a key strategic center of the American Revolution, established and visited repeatedly by George Washington. Hallowed history happened here - hundreds of the original soldiers who fought to found the nation died and were buried here in unknown graves.

Check out their site if you are interested in Revolutionary History or in helping to preserve this land.

Image courtesy:

Sunday, July 11, 2010

The Rope Of Destiny

Events in history have changed the destiny of all the people of the world over time. We, the living, owe so much to our ancestors. Their actions, whether they were chance meetings of future spouses, decisions on migrations to other regions of the world, or they may have even involved the presence or use of ordinary inanimate objects. One or all of those actions may have affected the destiny of all of us and our future decedents.

During a recent History Channel program, it was stated that 10% of the people in America are descended from those who came across the Atlantic Ocean on the Mayflower. I am one of those descendants of John Howland who was a passenger on the Mayflower. John Howland is my 11th great grandfather. John Howland had ten children and eighty eight grand children of whom I am descended through his daughter Desire. According to author Nathan Philbrick’s book Mayflower, John Howland came over as an indentured servant. All passengers were not allowed on deck for fear of falling overboard and lost at sea. It is supposed that John grew restless and climbed up on deck. The Mayflower suddenly lurched during a storm and John tumbled in to the sea. This should have been the end of him, but dangling over the side of the ship, was a halyard rope used to raise and lower the upper sail. John was in his mid twenties and strong. His hand found the rope and he hung on even as he was beneath ten feet of sea. Several sailors took up the rope and hauled John in, finally snagging him with a boat hook.

I am one of probably thousands of descendants who owe their existence to John Howland of the Mayflower. Two Presidents; George Walker Bush, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, John’s ten children, eighty eight grand children, and I owe so much to him; to his shipmates, to the Mayflower and to the halyard rope that was trailing behind the ship. I am here today because of the presence of an inanimate object, a lowly twisted piece of hemp that just happened to be at a certain place and time in history. The “rope of destiny” saved all our lives.

My lineage:

John Howland>

Desire Howland Gorham>

Hannah Gorham Whilldin/Whilden>

Mary Whilldin Crowell>

Elishabee Crowell Godfrey>

James Godfrey>

Mathew Godfrey > and Thomas Godfrey>

Armina Godfrey Godfrey > (first cousins married) Henry Sheldon Godfrey>

Mary Elizabeth Godfrey McComsey>

Mathew “Mattie” Alice McComsey Smith>

Benjamin Franklin Smith>

Alda Lucille Smith Hopkins>

Harold Hubert Hopkins>

Geoffrey Ted Hopkins

Websites for more researching on the subject:

Pilgrim Hall Museum

History of Plymouth Plantation-Google Books

Wikipedia-John Howland

Mayflower History

The Pilgrim John Howland Society

By: Geoff Hopkins

Written for the blog; THOSE OLD MEMORIES © 2010

****Three weeks until the Midwest Family History Expo in Kansas City, Mo. Check out the schedule and attend a great genealogy conference. Speakers include: Thomas MacEntee, Leland Meitzler, Arlene Eakle, Tami Glatz, and Lisa Alzo- just to name a few.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Worthy Genealogy Event

Summer is in full swing and so are all the genealogy conferences that give us all the chance to polish up on our research techniques or to learn something new. If you have never attended a conference, now is the time to schedule a fun trip and take in one near you. Check out the internet and you will surely find a great conference near you, be it a state meeting, local presentation or even one of the bigger national gatherings. The chance to meet new friends, see all the great books/software offered by vendors, and of course to broaden your knowledge base make any conference a very worthy event to attend.

One such conference is the Family History Expo which is coming up soon in Kansas City, on the Missouri side of the line. July 30-31 are the dates of the conference with a special tour on July 29th for those who study LDS history OR have LDS roots. Taking in one of these genealogy conferences that is put on by Holly Hansen and her group is an exceptional chance to experience the conference atmosphere with classes that often rival the best National offerings. You can read the class agenda here. The Family History Expos are large in scope and classes, yet they have that wonderful feel of friendliness like being with a group of really good friends! We are lucky that the Family History Expos are coming to the mid west with their gatherings, giving more of us who live in more remote areas the access to their classes and vendors. Often, the Expos will also offer some classes which are pertinent to the area study- such is the case in Kansas City where several classes will be offered on Swedish researching. Many early immigrants settled in and established large communities within Kansas and the surrounding area. For anyone with Swedish ancestors, this is an opportunity to learn how to research your Swedish family even if they did not settle in the Kansas area. Kathy Meade will present several classes with information on searching for your Swedish ancestors, and using Genlines and Lenora Lynam will present "Finding Your Swedish Soldier." If you research Sweden and its emigrants, this is the conference for you!

Arlene Eakle will present several classes which will all tie together different aspects of southern researching. "Want Land. Will Travel. Southern Land Records: State by State" will be one of her classes. Arlene is most knowledgeable and her expertise will inspire anyone to get home and get busy finding those elusive ancestors.There will be many more great classes and the vendor area will offer many new great items as well as a nice selection of books to broaden our knowledge. The blogger's Cafe' area will introduce you to the world of blogging your history as Expo bloggers post live each day.

It is my honor to have been chosen for the second time to be an "Honor Blogger" for the Family History Expo in Kansas City. I will be updating you from both of my blogs with information, travel plans and daily updates on the fun at the conference when it starts. I will be attending with my son so this will be a fun Mother and son outing, something we have not done for years! My usual team travel partner and co-writer of The You Go Genealogy Girls blog will not be along on this trip but you can read her blog postings about the Family History Expo that she recently attended in Loveland, Colorado. Click here to review one of her fun and informative articles.

Hope to see you all in Kansas City, new friends are always welcome!

Those Old Memories
The You Go Genealogy Girls

Saturday, May 8, 2010

For My Mom!

The year is 2010 and sadly another year has passed by without Mom here with us to make our lives complete. My Mom has been gone now for nearly 10 years, yet is seems like just yesterday that we were all together. Time has such a funny way of moving so fast yet we are very lucky that our thoughts and memories have a way of staying with us, often making the past seem as though it was just yesterday.

My Mom was part of the glue that held our family tightly and kept us close together. No matter what the day, Mother's Day, Christmas, or just another day of the year--ours were always bound by the ties to Mom and Dad. Since Mom passed away in 2000 our family has slowly drifted a bit further apart, not because we all have not stayed close but because the reason we were all bound together on those special days is now gone. Our family gatherings were always at Mom's house. That is where we had the big family meals, gathered for the good times and also the place we always grieved together in times of loss. We now just seem to spread out with our families which have grown more too and have come to the time when our newest memories now are made with our own families. Going to Mom's house- now means my house! I am the one who lived closest to my own Mother but not a day went by that one of my brothers or myself did not call or stop by to see Mom and Dad. We were all so close and that is the testament to the strength of our Mom.

Words will never begin to express what my Mother was to me. If I could write a book, I am sure that all the facts and memories would never all get told. Those memories are special and many only private to me and her. It is my hope that you might know my Mom from just a few special things that come to mind. Irene Dorothy Moore
Coleman was born on April 3, 1916 in Alliance, Nebraska. She raised three children here, worked here and owned a business here. This was her home and she never wished to live anywhere else in the world. She did love to travel but always said the sight of the Nebraska Sandhills was the best there was upon nearing home after a long trip. Even some of the Grandchildren might not know that Mom was an adventurer too. For over 60 years she and Dad adventured in the outdoors. Dad loved to hunt and Mom often went along just for the ride and she was the one who took my brothers out hunting after school if Dad was working. If fishing or camping was on the agenda, then Mom was the first to start packing. She never minded the heat, cold or sometimes nasty conditions that went with the outdoors, especially in the earlier years when tents were poor quality and camping gear was sparse or make do- because she was with her family and having fun. For 40 years of the time that Mom and Dad were together, one could find her riding on the back of his motorcycle as they adventured across the roads. They took trips to Wyoming, the Black Hills, and Montana, always looking to the west. In the early years of "Sturgis", they never missed a trip, dressed in their black skid leathers, long before they became the fashion of the day. When I got old enough to go with Dad, Mom gave up her spot on the bike to me. Those were great memories of riding with Daddy but looking back, I think it was just Mom wanting me to experience the same great fun and she knew that it was important for me to have time with Dad.

The gentle side of Mom was in her home, yard and garden. I don't know where she got the extra time but she kept a very nice yard and loved to spend time in it. Roses, peonies, glads, poppies and pansies, those are the things that I really remember her spending time with. The little garden of pansies that was the back door of our house for many years is forever in my memory: I can see Mom sitting on the sidewalk there by the door, weeding that patch with such great care. She was a flower show judge for many years too and of course entered her floral beauties in those shows as well as at the yearly county fairs. The beautiful tall gladiolus blooms still come to mind, as I recall getting to help her with those arrangements. She always included me in whatever she was doing. I have dozens of her winning ribbons in my collection of memorabilia. My love of crafting came from her too. We tried it all together at least once, I am sure. Even after Mom's eyesight was nearly gone she still loved to go to the craft shows and to see what was new. She could no longer see to make the pretty crafts and jewelry she had done for so many years but never lost her interest and was always ready to get out and go see what others were offering for sale.

My Mom worked most of her married life in various types of business. She worked for several years at a small local grocery/ meat locker where she became lifelong friends with the owners, was sales person in the catalog department of Montgomery Wards through my childhood days and sold Stanley products, Tupperware and Elmcraft wedding announcements for many years. I do not remember a time, not even one when she complained because she was tired or had experienced a hard day. The evening meals were always on the table and enjoying her family at home was always put first. In the early 1960's she bought a local ladies' ready to wear store, "Mode O' Day" and owned that until the late 1970's when she and Daddy retired to once again hit the road with some travel together, by then in their motor home. I worked for Mom in that store all the years she owned it and it was a wonderful experience for me and best of all, I got to spend time with Mom. From her I learned how to run a business, deal with people, and how to display and sell merchandise: all skills carried over into my own business which I ran for over 30 years. We had fun together through those years which was the best memory of all.

Mom had seven grandchildren and at the time eight great grandchildren. She loved them all dearly and some of her best times were when all the family was able to be together. A houseful of family with all the kids was her idea of fun. She was the cook and boy was she the best at it! Homemade noodles, chili, chicken and dumplings, pies, apple dumplings and pineapple panouche candy with suet pudding for the holidays. All of the family still talks about her food, although we laugh about her "beans" as she always made enough baked beans to feed the whole town. The house was so full when family got together that you had to go out the front door, around to the back door and back in to fill up your plate for the second go 'round of great food! To go back to one of those days just once more....

As this Mother's Day approaches, I am again reminded of the last two years of my Mom's life. The loss of my Dad in 1998 was devastating to her. They had been married for 62 years and had been together for nearly 70 years as a couple. Her eye sight was nearly gone, her health was declining, and the love of her life was gone. Mom moved in with us and during her last year it was difficult for us all. The role we all played had suddenly been reversed in life. My husband and I became the caretakers for Mom. It was difficult for us all but Mom was in many ways still her old self! She loved to go outdoors when she could, we found some craft things she could do mostly by feel and we "listened" to tv programs and movies with her. Oddly enough, "The Shawshank Redemption" and a few others became her requests because they told a story with voice which she could listen to. When my husband reminded her that she wasn't to eat salt, she let us know that she was still capable of decisions and that she wanted a bit of salt--so that was the way it was.

My Mom, as I am sure many millions of others on Mother's Day, are and were so very special but personally I put my Mom at the top of the list! The blog "Genealogy Lines" has a wonderful little write up today about Moms and the history of Mother's Day so click on over and check it out--you might be surprised at what you learn! Don't forget to take a moment to remember your Mom or to reflect on those old memories at this special time.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Soap Bubbles In My Nose!

How funny it is that memories come "floating" to the surface, often inspired by the most unlikely things. Such was the recent article in the newest Family Tree Magazine. The July 2010 issue has an article under History Matters: "Lathering Up" on page twelve that sure did bring up some great old memories for me. The article is on the history of soap, of all things and featured a great old ad with a man standing in a lake, washing up with a bar of floating IVORY soap. I can so clearly envision that man being my Dad, right down to the type of clothes he was wearing and the backdrop behind him.

From the time I was born in 1952, my family has made several trips each year to our favorite lake in the Black Hills of South Dakota to camp. We go to the same place each time but never tire of it's beauty and of the memories that it holds for us. Both of my brother's were several years older than I was but I do have memories of them along on those early camping trips. As time went on, their growing families followed us to the "Hills" and the gatherings became larger and larger. My Mom and Dad had wonderful friends who also often made the jaunt north with us and we all camped, fished, skied and had such wonderful times. Some of the best times of my life were those spent at Sheridan Lake with family and friends. My own two sons grew up around the same camp grounds there as have several of their cousins. We still get together as a family there but not nearly as often as I would like. Both sons try to make at least one annual trip there at least for a few days each year even though they are far away now. My Grandchildren have all been camping in our beloved spot.

Those early recollections of when I was small, all came rushing back when I read the great little article in Family Tree Magazine this month and while scouting for pictures I also came across a great blog: A Full Life with a nice historical take on Ivory Soap. All the years that we camped in the Black Hills also included those wonderful bars of floating Ivory soap. They were a staple that Mom never left home without when we camped. The picnic table always had a bowl of water on the end of the bench that had been drawn by the hand pump from up the hill. Beside it on a washcloth was that bar of ivory soap, often 1/2 of one of those that could be easily broken in two. It sure did take the smell of fish off your hands! Dad had an old enamel wash basin that he carried for years to use for his morning shave. I clearly remember him using another bar of floating soap each morning to shave with. His small mirror hung from a tree branch and he lathered up with his half of the bar of Ivory. I still have that enamel washbasin in my family room, but now it holds magazines as well as those memories- perhaps I need to find an old bar of Ivory and display that washbasin and and old soap bar in my spare bathroom for the Grandchildren to see.

More than any other, was the picture in my mind that came back of Mom and me. Often our camping trips would last up to two weeks and sometimes longer if Dad was working at the same time. He worked for the Chicago, Burlington, and Quincy Railroad out of Alliance, Nebraska and often the crews from here would man the little narrow gauge Railroad that ran as a tourist attraction out of Hill City, S. D. If he was working we would stay out at the lake which was a few miles from town. The evenings would be spent fishing for trout and looking for crawdads along the shore. Night fishing was a big sport there in those days and all the men worked the little train during the day and fished at night if they were on a shift up there. Night time was not just for fishing however, that was when Mom and I would put on our bathing suits, after full dark and head down to the lake to take a bath, our big bar of Ivory in hand. It just floated there on top between us in the moonlight! Looking back on that with what is now known about soap and such things in our native lakes, it was probably not the best thing, but I would not trade those wonderful memories, well over 50 years old now- for anything. I have often told my husband about my soapy recollections but who would have thought they might warrant a blog? I wish I had a photo of me and Mom along the lake shore but I do not, still those precious memories with the old photos that I do have will last a lifetime and that lowly bar of Ivory Soap has it's place in my family's history!

( P.S. All these photos were taken by my Dad and are printed from original slides, except the scrap booking collage which I made from a photo of the old soap bar taken from the internet and old ads scanned from my personal collections of old magazines. )

Thursday, April 1, 2010

My Easter Parade!

With the traditional celebration of Easter about to dawn this coming Sunday, I have been thinking of many of the Easter Sunday's from the past. As a child in Alliance, Nebraska; I remember that my family was always together for that special day. Our gatherings always included Grandma and Grandpa and often my aunt and uncle with their children. The day always started with an early morning Easter egg hunt. I usually got to do that in the house as the weather was often cold or rainy. To this day, over fifty years later, I can still taste the candies and hollow chocolate eggs. I always got lots of those colored hard shell eggs with a soft center that were wrapped in cellophane- pure sugar but they were really good! It was great fun and because my brothers were gone from the house by then, the Easter bunny was always very generous to me. I could even go so far as to say I was spoiled! Candy and goodies were plentiful. The city always had a big egg hunt in the city park later in the day which was great fun too. We lived right across the street so I had the added advantage of seeing all the "bunnies" hide the elusive eggs ahead of time. My cousins would come and we scoured the park with our bags in hand. That was during the 1950's and the park was full of children and parents.

Attending Easter Sunday church services was always on the agenda. After the big egg hunts, we all got dressed up in our finest to go to church and celebrate the resurrection of Jesus on that special day. My Dad was a railroad conductor and we got free passes to ride the passenger trains. Mom and Dad and I usually made a trip on the train to Denver in the weeks before Easter, as it was a fun tradition for all of us to shop for our new Easter outfits there. We always went to the big Montgomery Ward store, riding the bus was out to the south side of Denver. Next stop was downtown to the May D & F, and to the Three Sisters Store where Mom and I liked to shop(I also got my wedding dress at that store many years later). All of us would come home with new outfits for the upcoming Easter Holiday but I think most of mine were worn out by the time Easter Sunday came as I spent days just dressing up and modeling before hand! The memories of those trips and spending time with my Mom and Dad will always be associated with Easter time for me. If the weather happened to be nice we would walk to church and back, about the only time I remember doing that rather than driving.

Our family always had the traditional Easter Sunday feast with family. Most of the time there were lots of family gathered, usually at our home but I do remember at least once at Grandma and Grandpa's house and one Easter at the home of my cousins, but it seems like we were usually at our house. We had a large extended family and my Mom was always a great host for meals of any kind. She knew how to cook for a crowd and loved doing so, Easter was a special gathering for her and she loved all the family around. All the kids could play in the park and go to the egg hunts from our home after church and the big feast.

My Easter parade photos which are all over fifty years old now, include several from my childhood, all with special memories attached to them. We never missed taking new pictures as each Holiday rolled around. One of the special Easter scrapbook pages is of our twin granddaughters which was taken in 2006 while they visited Grandpa and I. That too was a special day and was added to my album of Easter Memories! I was so lucky to have had a wonderful family to celebrate with and cherish the memories with them. Looking to the future generations for new memories and being thankful for them is part of what Easter means to me. I hope you enjoy my short Easter Parade of photo memories.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Four "MOORE" Generations

During the summer of 2008, the You Go Genealogy Girls took a short trip to eastern Nebraska to visit the graves of Joel Moore, his wife Adaline, and their son Thomas.They are buried in the pretty cemetery at Blue Springs, Nebraska. Remembering this family was our honor and standing before their final resting places made this great four generation picture even more meaningful.

Joel Moore who was my great, great grandfather is the older man on the left side of the photo. He was ordained as a Baptist minister in 1863 while living in Illinois. In 1867 the family moved from Illinois to Johnson Co., Nebraska where they lived for several years before moving on to Blue Springs, Nebraska in Gage County. Joel's son, Thomas who was my great grandfather served in the Civil War while living near Springfield, Illinois. The four generations are rounded out with
Ella Moore Clayton who was the daughter of Thomas and she is holding her son, Harry.

Another short story about this family, "Looking for Adaline" can be found here.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Jessie's Boots

Friday's Featured Foto this week, stars two of our handsome ancestors and their BOOTS! What great boots! The more I look at this great photo, the more I have to wonder about those boots. Jesse Silas Hopkins, pictured on the right, is shown with his two sisters: Theresa "Rettie" Ann and Jane Eliza. They are pictured with their cousin, Aronah Hopkins on the left. The photo was taken in Stephenville, Texas around the year 1895. These boys were very obviously proud of their boots! A new research project is in the making to try and find out more about their prized foot ware. One is lured into the thought of exciting days in the old west, but sadly, the reality of life steps back in.

Jesse Silas was born at Ripley, Tippah Co., Mississippi and first went to Texas between 1882 and 1885 with his father and mother and settled around the Stephenville area. In August of 1897, Jesse Silas Hopkins was united in marriage to Flora Virginia McPherson while still in Texas. For a short time in the early 1900's he homesteaded near Kenna, New Mexico but eventually returned to the Stephenville area. Most of his life was spent building road and railroad grades using teams of horses and mules to pull the heavy construction equipment in the early years. Jesse took his wife and four surviving children and began to move northward through Colorado and into Wyoming, building irrigation ditches and grades. The work was hard and both Jesse and Flora put in long, arduous hours working and taking care of crew and family.They eventually ended up in Scottsbluff, Nebraska and remained there for the rest of their lives. Jesse's children graduated from school in Scottsbluff and eventually migrated back to the state of Wyoming. Jesse and Flora are both buried in Scottsbluff, Nebraska- far from the state of Texas and the seemingly romantic western setting of the photo with the young men and their new boots.

The beautiful 1880's style boots that "the boys" wore in the picture were typical of the style of boot that evolved after the civil war. They were often designed after European riding boots and served the cowboys and working men in this country. I would love to know more about their boots and wonder if they both purchased the same style and maker boots or if they were studio props for the photo? I am willing to think they were the proud owners as they sure did make a point to "show" the boots off for the photo. One can make out part of the name on them as ____Banner boots. Needless to say, we love the photo and cherish the memory of our Great Grandfather Jesse and our other Hopkins ancestors.

Our cousin, Gene Hopkins had a photocopy which he generously shared with us and Melissa McCoy Bell found one of the original prints that she also gave us a copy of. Thank you to them both!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Grandpa's History Lesson

When I was a small boy, my grandfather, Wick Hopkins, took me on a fishing trip to Wendover Junction on the North Platte River near Guernsey, Wyoming. The day had turned cold and rainy by the time we arrived at the fishing spot. Grandpa and I boarded an old cable trolley car that was to take us over the river to the north side. It was hand operated by pulling the car along with a lever that was attached to the cable that the car hung from. A man was there to operate the lever while grandpa and I sat and watched the Wyoming scenery as we crossed the North Platte River. When we arrived on the other side we then walked down the river to a spot where grandpa often liked to fish and we started casting out. I soon got cold and gave up on the fishing so grandpa Wick told me to go and gather up a bunch of the dried buffalo (cow) chips which were abundant around the area. Of course, being a boy, if it was doing something to get dirty... then all the better! He piled a few of the chips up and lit them with a match, growing up in Texas and Wyoming, he knew they would instantly burn. As they burned slow and hot, they put off enough heat to keep me warm. I was fascinated by the way they burned and I entertained myself gathering and keeping chips stoked on the fire for most of the rest of the day. He told me there was little wood to burn in the prairie states during the 1800's and the plains were nearly treeless at that time, finding fuel for fires was a constant chore for the pioneers and emigrants heading west but there were plenty of buffalo chips and the homesteaders used them for cooking and heating as they crossed the plains in wagons. They also gathered and dried them for use as fuel when they began to build sod houses and cabins on the prairie. He told me that the homesteaders had used everything available to them to live and survive.

My grandpa passed this knowledge down to me in a unique and special way, We had a fun day together, despite the in-climate weather, one that I will always cherish and remember. Grandpa Wick didn't catch any fish that day and because the burning prairie "fuel" had kept me warm, I did not catch a cold!

by: Geoff Hopkins, AKA "Go Hubby", number one fan of The You Go Genealogy Girls. You might also enjoy reading the recent posting on their blog: "Buffalo Chips, Cow Patties...and Such"

Friday, February 26, 2010

Gustaf Larson's Sons

At a time in the 1800's when patronymic names were changing, that is when our brothers decided to emigrate to America in hopes of a better life. Johan Gustafsson was born in 1864 to Gustaf Larson and Klara Hansdotter on the small farmstead of Lugarp, Floby Parish, Skaraborgs Lan, VasterGotland, Sweden. His brother Frederick soon followed in 1867 and was born in the same location.
Johan entered military service in Sweden and his name was then changed to Johan Hellgren. He was known for the rest of his life by the last name of Hellgren. Johan was married to Maria Christina Anderson in 1886 while he was still in military service. Johan and Christina left their homeland, bound for the eastern shores of the United States soon after their marriage and settled in the Chicago, Illinois area. Upon reaching the American shores, Johan again changed his name to the more American style of John Hellgren. They raised their family in Chicago, had two sons who served in WWI, one giving his life for the newly adopted country of his parents. John and Christina also had two daughters and another son. The Hellgrens' lived out their life in the Chicago area and both died there. They are buried in Graceland Cemetery, Chicago.

Frederick Albert Gustafsson became known as Fred A. Larson and that is the name which has carried down within our family. Great Grandpa Fred also emigrated to America upon the urging of his brother, John Hellgren. Fred arrived in the United States in 1888 as did his future bride, Hilma Wilhelmina Anderson. "Minnie" was a sister to Christina who had earlier married John before leaving Sweden. Fred Larson and Minnie were married in 1891in Chicago, Cook County, Illinois. They spent a short time around Chicago and then began to move westward. Some time was spent in Oklahoma and their final destination was Wyoming, the state in which our family has its roots through Fred and "Minnie". The Larsons' are both buried in the Wheatland Cemetery, Wheatland, Wyoming...a world away from their homeland of Floby Parish, Skaraborgs Lan, Sweden.

Though Fred and John lived miles apart, carried different surnames, and seldom saw one another over the years, they were still brothers and helped to build the strong base of our family. Today we still research them both and will keep working to put faces on their ancestors and ours!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Two Gracious Ladies!

Today starts a new project here at "Those Old Memories" to showcase some of the wonderful old photographs in my personal collection. As many of my readers may already know, I collect old photographs by the thousands. Family is at the forefront of that collection but it includes many more that I hope will be of interest to my readers. Please join me on Fridays for a walk through history with the faces and places of the past. I will also continue to add stories and memories as my regular feature.

On the left is Stella Maud Hopkins, my husbands Grandaunt. Stella was born 28 Jan 1901, Foard County, Texas and died 1 Oct 1997 in Riverton, Fremont County, Wyoming. Stella married Frank D. Ellermeier in Scottsbluff, Nebraska and to this marriage were born two children.

Amy Vandergriff, on the right, a distant cousin, was born 6 Nov 1896 in Texas and died 21 Feb 1992 in Texas. Amy became a chiropractor, according to letters she wrote to our Grandmother.

I love the contrast of the light and dark dresses in this photo and of course the large wide brimmed hats!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Railroaders: The Men in My Family

Railroading seems to be in the blood of the men in my family. The combined service of my Grandfather, Dad, brothers, nephew and husband covers just over 150 years. In fact they have been in the business of riding the rails across Nebraska and into the Dakotas for what has now been the continuous service of a century. Their lives started in the days of steam engines, wooden boxcars and cabooses and stretches into today with the modern diesel locomotives with their high tech controls and sleek designs.

Frederick Millard Coleman, Grandpa, was living in Broken Bow, Nebraska when he started his career. In 1911 he married Opal Gardner there and was at that time working for the Chicago, Quincy and Burlington Railroad. He worked on the West Local between Broken Bow and Seneca, Nebraska. In 1917 he brought the family to Alliance and worked out of here for about 3 years and then returned to Broken Bow where he worked until 1930. The family then again moved to Alliance which was a division point for the CB&Q Railroad. Fred held conductor rights and worked both freight and passenger trains until his retirement in about 1958. Grandpa had put in 47 years with the railroad by the time he retired.

My Dad, Frederick Dale "Freddie" Coleman, grew up in Broken Bow, Nebraska and rode trains with his Dad at an early age. (In those days is was quite common for family members to occasionally go along on a run. I even rode the caboose with my Dad to Edgemont S.D. when I was 6 or 7 years old, during the 1950's). Dad was in the 5th grade when he rode with Grandpa on a trip to drop off cinders or "track ballast" between Anselmo and Dunning, Nebraska. As kids are known to do, he was doddling along the track playing while the train was slowly dropping the ballast and he got left behind. The engineer happened to see him and backed up to pick him up. Dad always recalled that he rode both the steam engine and caboose on that one trip. His railroading career really started at quite an early age! Freddie made several memorable trips as a kid with his Dad from Broken Bow before the family moved permanently to Alliance in 1930.

Living in Alliance, my dad and a friend ran a motorcycle delivery business, worked part time as a painter for his future father-in-law and graduated from Alliance High School in 1932. Dad went to work for the CB&Q Railroad in 1935 and continued to work for O.C. Moore's painting business during the first few years of his railroad career. In those years it was common for the railroaders to get laid off and only work minimally. Freddie married Irene Moore in 1936 and by the early 40s had fairly steady employment with the railroad. Dad spent 40 years railroading between Ravenna, Nebraska and Deadwood S.D. He worked the "extra board", rode the front motor as a flagman and brakeman, worked passenger trains and was also a rear brakeman. All types of freight and passengers were shipped through the Alliance rail yards in those days. Cement, coal, oil, gas, sand, lumber, feed, farm implements, machinery, livestock, grain and gold were all moved through Alliance. Dad was a brakeman in the latter years of steam engine days and also was an express messenger between Alliance and Deadwood, S. D., on the "Highlines". He made many trips from the Homestake Gold Mine, carrying armed shotgun messengers and well over 1 million dollars worth of gold bullion that was destined for the Denver mint. World War II brought many trains which carried war materials, troops, prisoners of war, and even poison gas that was shipped east from Provo, S.D. to be used in bomb production. Railroaders were considered essential to the war movement and were not routinely drafted into military service, although many did serve during WWII. Presidential trains went through Alliance, including those of Harding, Roosevelt, and Coolidge. Both Grandpa and Dad worked during those years and witnessed the diversity of travel through our area. All of my "railroading men" have worked under arduous weather conditions including the famous Blizzard of 1949 and other fierce Nebraska and South Dakota blizzards. During the '49 blizzard, the trains carried extra crews and it often took two and a half days to go the 111 miles to Edgemont, S.D. (A trip that can be made in 4-5 hours). Many railroad men lost their lives working the rails during adverse weather conditions. Dad once recalled a wind and hail storm that actually blew so hard that their normal train, No.79 which was headed west from Hecla, Nebraska was blown to a full stop for several minutes! After the demise of passenger trains, Freddie worked freight trains full time and he retired on April 30, 1975 with 40 years of service.

Next was the third generation to go to work for the CB&Q. William G. Coleman, my brother, followed in Grandpa and Dad's footsteps. "Bill" went to work for the railroad in 1956. He worked night baggage and as a dispatcher/clerk until 1958 when he became a brakeman and went into road service. He worked at the same time as his Dad and Grandfather until Fred M. Coleman retired later in 1958. Bill worked freight and some passenger trains and spent quite a bit of time working the "Highlines" through the Black Hills area of South Dakota. Bill saw some passenger service but mostly worked freight trains, was promoted to conductor in the mid 1960's, and served in that capacity on the Alliance Division until he retired in 1995. Bill Coleman had worked for 39 years upon his retirement. Another brother, Richard "Dick" Coleman was a crew caller out of Edgemont, S.D. during the year 1959 but decided that he did not want to follow railroading as a life long career.

My fourth generation railroader is William R. Coleman, "Billy". He is the great grandson of Fred M. Coleman and son of William G. "Bill" Coleman. He started his career working for several years for what had become the Burlington Northern Railroad here in Alliance, Nebraska. He worked in the roundhouse and drove the crew taxi before he moved on to another career. Billy rejoined the ranks of railroaders in about the year 2000 when he became a conductor for the Union Pacific Railroad, working out of western Nebraska. His job is mostly hauling freight and coal out of the Wyoming coal fields. As of this writing, he is still employed with the UP Railroad.

In the year 2004, my husband, Geoffrey T. Hopkins, joined the family ranks to further the legacy. Geoff retired in 2001 from a 30 year career as a communications tech with Quest Communications. After about three years of being retired, he decided to apply at the BNSF Railroad as they were again hiring. He met the "age quota" and trained to go to work. Geoff works all directions from Alliance: east to Ravenna, west to Edgemont, S.D., and south to Guernsey, Wyoming. They mostly haul coal but on occasion there is some other freight and specialty items such as Boeing airplane bodies and parts. I can still remember the day in 1971 when my husband was offered a job with the railroad here and also with the telephone company which was then Northwestern Bell. My Dad and brother both advised him to take the telephone job which he did at that time. Here we are now and have come full circle back to the beginning and he is employed by the Burlington Northern Sante Fe as a conductor in this year of 2010.

Four generations of the Coleman family plus a son-in-law: all together my men have a proud legacy as Railroaders. Over the years I have heard hundreds of their stories, some told with great pride and others of disgust with the railroad company itself, but all have imparted the TRUE story of their 150 years of combined service. For each one I have a great pride in their honored service to their company, country and especially to their families as railroaders and their families sacrifice much of their private lives for their work. All of my men have displayed prime loyalty to their profession and to them I would say: "You are the best!" With love to Grandpa, Dad, brothers, nephew and my loving husband.