Friday, January 28, 2011

Memory Lane: The Challenger Explosion

That frosty January morning of my fifth grade year started as every other school day did.  I got up and began to get ready for school.  I decided I really didn't feel well and went to my mother.  After feeling my forehead and taking the obligatory temperature, my mother decided I wasn't going to school that day.  My sister, three years my junior, headed off on her own to wait for the bus.  My mother got herself ready for work and then I was at home with just my grandma.  I can't recall where my grandpa was but likely out working in his shop on something or other.

I had settled onto my mom's bed with pillow and blankets in tow to watch morning television.  I distinctly recall seeing the first few minutes, maybe even as much as a half hour, of Bob Barker and The Price is Right.  Suddenly there was a breaking news story cutting into the show.  The Challenger launch at Cape Canaveral had gone awry.  It was too early to know what happened, but I recall there was a lot of speculation on the news anchor's part. 

When it became apparent that The Price is Right wasn't going to resume any time soon, I relocated to the living room sofa.  My grandma had likely been watching Donahue as was her routine after everyone left for work or school.  She was watching the NBC coverage and I can distinctly see Tom Brokaw talking about the apparent explosion of the Challenger Space Shuttle.  The morning wore on, the coverage continued, and the questions began.  I must have watched that short, but tragic video clip a hundred times that day.  The focus seemed to be so much on Christa McAuliffe, the first teacher in space.

Probably the reason this day sticks so much in my memory was that Idaho teacher Barbara Morgan was in the Teacher in Space program with McAuliffe and was backup to McAuliffe for the Challenger launch.  Our local news coverage was heavy in the days leading up to the Challenger launch, with particular emphasis on the Morgan connection.  She was an elementary school teacher in the McCall-Donnelly School District and it was big news that little ol' Idaho had such a teacher worthy of being selected for this elite group.  I remember it was talked about in my fifth grade class.

My memories of the rest of that day are blurry, likely from not feeling well.  I know I went to school the following day.  I remember the teacher talking to the class about explosion.  It was the top story of the NBC news coverage for days to come.  And I remember learning that the Teacher in Space program was suspended.

Though the program was halted due to the catastrophe that January day, Barbara Morgan did get her turn in space when in August 2007 she participated in a 12-day mission to the International Space Station.  Following her successful mission, she has been a speaker and more recently at the local university as a Distinguished Educator in Residence.  However, nearly all news coverage of her links her to the Challenger disaster and Christa McAuliffe.

It seems hard to believe 25 years have passed since that day I didn't feel well. 
©2011, copyright tracysroots

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Obituary of Walter J. Harmon 1857-1921

This obituary was published in the Clark County Courier, Clark, SD on June 9, 1921:

Walter J. Harmon Passed Away on Monday Morning
 Another of the early settlers of this section passed to the great beyond at nine-forty Monday morning when the death angel called Walter J. Harmon to his eternal home.
Deceased was born at Round Grove, Ill., sixty-six years ago and was there united in marriage to Fannie Arnold in 1881.  A year later he was one of a party who came to South Dakota and took up a homestead in section five, Mt. Pleasant township, where he lived for many years and raised a family of five children.
In 1907 Mr. Harmon moved to Clark where he has since resided and during the past several years has not enjoyed the best of health, having experienced a paralytic stroke a few years ago from which he never fully recovered and was unable to walk prior to his death.
Besides his widow, deceased is survived by three daughters and two sons, Mesdames Edna Heath of Kansas City, Walter Matson of Canada, and Herbert Schaeffer of Cesco, Iowa.  Ed and Maurice of near Garden City.  Funeral was held from the late home in this city Tuesday Afternoon with service at the Methodist church conducted by Rev. Hoyer and interment made in Rose Hill.

First, I believe he was 64 years old rather than 66 at his death.  He listed his birth month and year in the 1900 census as Feb 1857.  Additionally, his headstone lists 1857 as his birth year.
Secondly, his daughter Ida married Walter Watson not Matson as listed above.
Lastly, his younger son's name was spelled Morris not Maurice.

©2011, copyright tracysroots

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Take a Stroll With Me Down Memory Lane

For a long time now I have been trying to decide how to record some of the memories of my childhood, my college days and some of the memories of my husband and I before we got married.  I want to be able to share those memories with my children who are now too little to understand them but hopefully someday can appreciate them.  Additionally, now that my sister has been out-of-state for a few months and will likely move away permanently, I want to share with her some of the things I remember of our childhood.  I hope maybe she will even want to share her stories and memories, since I know mine differ from hers.  I have talked with my own mother and grandmother about things such as Pearl Harbor, the Kennedy Assassination, the Beatles invasion, Watergate and a whole plethora of now historical events.  I want to have those same memories documented of the major historical events that have occurred in my lifetime.  And, with luck, I can record some of the memories of my family, too.

I have been a long admirer of Greta's Memory Monday posts but lack the discipline to post weekly, not to mention the lack of comparable writing skills.  Let's face it, nobody can tell the story of a simple dish like Greta!  So in honor of Greta's original Memory Monday posts, I am creating my own Memory Lane posts.  I hope you will join me as I take a stroll down my Memory Lane. 

©2011, copyright tracysroots

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Walter J. Harmon and Fanny Arnold

Walter Harmon and Fanny Arnold are my great-great-grandparents, through their son and eldest child, Edward Joseph Harmon.

Walter was born February 1857 in Whiteside Co, Illinois, likely in or near the community of Round Grove.  He was the son of Porter J. Harmon and Rebecca Armstrong, and one of six children.  When Walter was 19 his mother passed away, leaving some younger siblings without a mother in the house.

Fanny was born in Berkswell, Warwickshire, England on 7 November 1856, the daughter of Edward Arnold and Mary Arnold.  When Fanny was only about 4 years old, Mary died, leaving four young children.  Edward remarried to Emma Smith and had several more children.  At about the age of 10, Edward and Emma brought their children to Niagara, Ontario, Canada.  They settled in this area and as of current research, Fanny is the only child that I have found to have left Canada.  In about 1881, Fanny arrived in Whiteside Co, Illinois though by what route I do not know nor do I know the reason she came.

On the 16th of February 1882, Walter and Fanny were united in marriage.   Their first child, Edward, was born in 1883 and as a two-month-old infant the family relocated to Dakota Territory.   Walter and Fanny homesteaded property in Clark Co, Dakota Territory, in what is now Clark County, South Dakota.  It appears that Walter's sister, Adaline, and her husband Almon Zimmer, as well as their father, Porter Harmon all came together from Whiteside Co, Illinois.

Walter and Fanny had five children:
  1. Edward Joseph, my great-grandfather, born 9 Jan 1883 in Whiteside Co, Illinois
  2. Edna Barbara born 16 Feb 1885 in Clark, Clark Co, Dakota Territory (now South Dakota)
  3. Ida Elizabeth born 13 Jul 1890 in Clark, Clark Co, Dakota Territory (now South Dakota)
  4. Fannie Mary born 21 Mar 1892 in Clark, Clark Co, Dakota Territory (now South Dakota)
  5. Morris Walter born 25 Apr 1896 in Clark, Clark Co, Dakota Territory (now South Dakota)
Their original homestead was in Mt. Pleasant township in Clark Co.  Research indicates that Walter's father, Porter, likely lived with Walter and Fanny on their farm until his death in 1897.  By 1910, the family had moved into the town of Clark and lived their until Walter's death on 6 Jun 1921.  According to Walter's obituary, he had suffered a stroke some years prior that left him unable to continue farming.  He died within days of my grandfather Fred's birth.  I always have wondered if Walter ever saw his grandson through which the family middle name of Joseph was passed along.

Fannie Arnold Harmon - July 1944
As a result of Walter's death, Fanny was a widow for over 20 years.  During her later years, she lived with her son Edward.  My grandfather Fred was the youngest of the children in the house, so he spent some of those years at home with his grandmother Fanny living with them.  Because she was only 4'10" tall, Fred had coined the term "Little Grandma" and I remember as a child hearing him refer lovingly to his "Little Grandma".  She died 12 Jun 1945, just mere months before my grandpa Fred returned from his military service in her home country of England.  I remember him speaking with regret that he didn't make it home in time to see her before her death.

Walter and Fanny are buried together in Rose Hill Cemetery, north of the city of Clark, Clark Co., South Dakota.  On my mother's recent trip to South Dakota, she photographed the headstones of her great-grandparents.

Photo taken June 2010

Please contact me for more information, especially if you descend from Walter and Fannie.  Please note that I have seen Fanny's name also spelled Fannie. 

©2009-2011 copyright.  All rights reserved.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Honored to be Ancestor Approved

I have been remiss in acknowledging the kindness of two fellow bloggers for awarding me with the Ancestor Approved Award originally created by Leslie Ann Ballou of Ancestors Live Here.  Back in December, Cheri Daniels of Journeys Past posted a comment to honor me with this award.  Last evening, I was pleased to received it again from Sue Edminster of Echo Hill Ancestors.  Both of these wonderful blogs were new (to me) and have been added to my Google Reader.  Please take the time to visit and add them to your feed.

Considering I haven't been a consistent blogger of late, I am deeply honored these ladies think enough of what I have done here to consider me for this award.  When I first received this award last spring, I posted my list of what surprised, humbled or enlightened me and that list is still appropriate today.  I hope you will take the time to revisit that post.

As for passing it on, I am behind (again) in my reading and have no idea who has received this or not.  At this time, I will defer passing it along but there are hundreds and hundreds of wonderful genealogy blogs written every day so please consider yourself honored.  I would be thrilled to read your list so please share.

©2011, copyright tracysroots

Looking Back at 2010 - Part 2

Because my computer is bogged down in an online backup, it is too terribly slow to try to upload photos of the things I discuss below.  Please look for those at a future date.

Please see Part 1 where I discussed my 2010 goals.

At some point this summer I realized that once my second daughter was born, I stopped making an effort to put up recent pictures of our girls and stopped updating photo albums. Two children became more than double the work and I really let things slip. As a way to make up for that and to document our lives currently, I decided to take the plunge to begin digital scrapbooking. I had successfully completed one traditional (i.e. paper) scrapbook a few years ago which both girls love to look at. It really hit me that the album I had made was of my older daughter at about the age my younger daughter is now. I knew I needed to make something for both girls that they could view (and laugh about) for years to come.

I have successfully completed one digital album that also doubled as a gift.  Last August we took a trip to the Oregon Coast.  My in-laws and two nephews joined us.  There were lots of wonderful memories from that trip.  For my mother-in-law's Christmas gift this year, I made a 10 page album with all the pages made digitally.  The bonus is that I can make copies for us as well.  Two albums for the work on one!  I am all about saving time.

The second way I decided to document our lives was to make an album (12x12 size) that documents each year's Christmas photo and letter.  Yes, I am one of these people that write a standard letter to enclose with the Christmas cards.  Because I send out over 40 cards each year I simply do not have time to write a personalized letter.   I was able to find letters dating back to 2000 which is probably the first year I wrote such a letter.  I am making an individual scrapbook page for each year from 2000 until 2003.  Beginning in 2004, I am doing a two-page spread that has one side with the letter and the other side with the Christmas photo of our family.  It has been a lot of fun to read about the major happenings in our lives like the year we got a new puppy and two weeks later I had thyroid surgery, or the first Christmas after 9/11, or the year our oldest daughter was born followed four years later by her baby sister.  It's amazing some of the details that I have forgotten.  This album is helping us to remember.

If you are interested in documenting the stories of our lives now, especially through digital scrapbooking, I highly recommend the following:
  • Ali Edwards - Beautiful photography and with a strong emphasis on the story
  • Cathy Zielske - First off, she's very funny, but she makes beautiful, simple pages.  She, too, emphasizes the story.
  • Renee Pearson - She has a wonderful intro to digital scrapbooking class called Just The Basics. 
  • Jessica Sprague - Extensive class selection on all things digital for scrapbooking, photo editing and design.  I have taken her Family History Album class as well as Up And Running, an intro to digital scrapbooking.  I also will be completing the followup for the intermediate level.
While I am no artist, I have created some pages that my daughters can look back on fondly and remember.  That to me has become one of the most important things I did in 2010.

©2010, copyright tracysroots

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

How One Little Word Will Guide My 2011

I will readily admit that I am not good at New Year Resolutions.  I always start out with a bang and fizzle in no short order as my work week rapidly expands to 50+ hours through mid-April.  By that time, I'm tired and have long forgotten what I wanted to do on January 1st.

I have been very intrigued by scrapbook blogger Ali Edward's One Little Word concept and how it guides so many people through their new year.  Once I started thinking about this concept, I realized that this is actually something that might work for me.  It's not a Resolution (which always get broken) and it's not a Goal (which I'm not so good at either).  It's just one word.  I can do that!

So then I started thinking about how I wanted this word to correlate to my family history research AND work with the memories my family is making now.  All of December I spent agonizing over this choice and realized that it shouldn't have to be agonizing....that's how I feel about resolutions and I didn't want this to end as those usually do.

While many people following Ali's blog or taking the class came up with very profound, thought-provoking words, I chose something simpler.  For me, my word is Completion

I started by making a list of the top 10 items I wanted to complete during the year.   And I don't mean start, lose interest in and abandon.  I mean complete, as in finish, be done with....well you get the idea.  I won't list them all right now, but I can say I have made great headway already on three of those items. 

First on the list was to sign up for Mozy Home.  I actually signed up on December 30th to take advantage of a coupon for a year's subscription.  I downloaded the program, selected the files to backup on my new computer and the external hard drive (in my case these are not duplicates) and it is has been chugging along ever since.  With over 30,000 files to backup, it's a slow process but one that I feel is very worthwhile.

The second and third items on the list are really the same project, just one for each of my daughters.  When I was a child, my mother saved the greeting cards I received for birthdays, holidays and Valentine's from school friends.  She put those in a scrapbook for me and it was always so much fun to look at all of the pages.  I wanted to do the same thing for my children so when my older daughter was a year old I gathered all of the cards and put them in an album....and that is where the project stopped.  She is now nearly 7.  So I started by tackling the smaller scrapbook for my two-year-old and I can happily report hers is complete through 2010.  I am still in the sorting and organizing phase for my older daughter but am very close to putting those into an album for her.

Already Completion is working for me.  Here it is the 11th of January and I have made progress.  While my list isn't static and I do expect to make changes over the course of the year, I will continue to work through them.  Slow and steady wins the race, right?

©2011, copyright tracysroots