Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Obituary: Mary Jo Jackson

I was not close to my Aunt Mary Jo but my mother spent many of her younger years at her home playing with nieces and nephews that were her own age or older. As I really begin to sort out this blog now that I am six months in, it is fitting to add Mary Jo today as it would have been her 85th birthday and today is my 33rd. Happy Birthday, Aunt Mary Jo.
Her Obituary as posted in the Daily News Record, Harrisonburg, VA:
Mary Jo Jackson, 76, of Dayton passed away Sunday, Feb. 24, 2008, at Rockingham Memorial Hospital in Harrisonburg after an extended illness. Mrs. Jackson was born July 13, 1931, in Rockingham County and was the daughter of the late Hensel and Angie Landis Baker.
Mary Jo attended Rockingham County Schools and was a member of Mabel Memorial Chapel. She enjoyed gardening and flowers and most importantly she loved her grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
On June 17, 1952, she married James M. Jackson, who survives. She is also survived by two sons, Rick M. Jackson and wife, Patricia of Harrisonburg and Donnie R. Jackson and wife, Mary Elizabeth of Dayton; one daughter, Vickie J. Bodkin and husband, Gary of Harrisonburg; five grandchildren, Kimberli D. Jackson, Shannon T. Bodkin, Christopher T. Bodkin, Sarah E. Jackson and Katie R. Jackson; two great-grandchildren, Steven A. Bodkin and Spencer A. Bodkin and numerous nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by one brother and three sisters.
A graveside service will be held 2 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2008, at Woodbine Cemetery in Harrisonburg with Pastor David R. Miller officiating.
The family will receive friends this evening (Tuesday) from 7 - 9 p.m. at the Kyger Funeral Home in Harrisonburg.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Harrisonburg-Rockingham SPCA, P.O. Box 413, Harrisonburg, VA

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Obituary: Nelson Thomas Wetsel

Today would have been my grandfather, Nelson Wetsel's 94th birthday. We miss him every day. This is one of my favorite photos of him and me. It was taken after a church youth group play.  


Nelson and Helen Wetsel
Nelson Thomas Wetsel, 82, of 1491 Virginia Avenue in Harrisonburg, died on Friday, July 9, 2004, at Avante of Harrisonburg.

He was born April 20, 1922, in Harrisonburg, and was the son of the late Earl and Edna Thomas Wetsel. Nelson spent his childhood around his grandfather’s seed business, watching it grow from a small business and moving to larger locations. Ninety-three years ago, the business was started from the back of a wagon, which his grandfather and father brought from Port Republic to Harrisonburg on court house days.

Starting to work as a teenager, then college, military service and back to the business, Nelson did everything from sweeping, seed cleaning, inspecting fields, truck driving, sales person and on to office and money management. He served as president of Wetsel Seed from 1970 to 1990 and was on the Board of Directors and a stockholder.

Nelson T. Wetsel in South Pacific
Mr. Wetsel attended Strayer Business College in Washington, D.C. until World War II started. He served in the U.S. Army as a staff sergeant in the 40th Division of the 108th Regiment in the Intelligence Division and received a Bronze Star for "Above and Beyond the Call of Duty." He spent time on many islands in the Pacific including Luzon, Leyte and Guadacanal and was in Korea at the time of the peace treaty signing.

Nelson has twice been president of the Virginia Seedsmen’s Association, as his father before and followed by his brother, Bob, and his son, Tom. He served as board member of the American Seed Trade Association and was instrumental in taking Wetsel Seed from a small seed store to a multi-state distributor.

He was a 45-year member of the Fire Company No. 1 and, as president, helped organize the first rescue squad in Harrisonburg.

Mr. Wetsel also served as president and was a 55-year member of the Exchange Club, which helps raise funds for nurse’s scholarships and promotes an educational program in area schools for justice and liberty.

Also in the community, Nelson served as a director of the United Virginia Bank, Rocking R Hardware, treasurer of the Harrisonburg Parking Authority and trustee at Bridgewater College.

A lifelong member of the First Church of the Brethren, where his maternal grandfather was the first minister, he served as chairman of the Church Board, Sunday school superintendent, helped organize and was president several times of the Friendship Sunday School Class, usher, head usher, deacon, chairman of deacons and served on other committees of the church.

In giving so much during his working life, after retirement, he and his wife, Helen, enjoyed going on cruises.

Nelson T Wetsel and Helen M Moore Sept. 5, 1947.
On Sept. 5, 1947, he married Helen Moore, who survives.

Also surviving are three sons, Thomas M. Wetsel and wife, Sandy, of Timberville, Va., Jeffrey N. Wetsel and wife, Malinda, of Midlothian, Va., and Donald E. Wetsel and wife, Susanna, of Fairfield, Va.; one brother, Robert E. "Bob" Wetsel of Harrisonburg; six grandchildren, Denise M. Ablard, Lorne N. Wetsel, Tamela M. Dove, Peter H. Wetsel, Whitney E. Wetsel and Matthew E. Wetsel, and four great-grandchildren, Earl L. Wetsel, Christopher Wetsel, Destiny Dove and Elena Ablard.

Memorial services will be conducted 7 p.m. Monday at the First Church of the Brethren, 315 South Dogwood Drive in Harrisonburg by the Rev. Ronald E. Wyrick. The family will receive friends following the service.

Private burial will be in Rest Haven Cemetery.

Memorial donations may be made to the Bridgewater College General Fund, Bridgewater, Va. 22812.

Arrangements by the Kyger Funeral Home in Harrisonburg.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Tombstone Tuesday: Otis D and Minnie Lee (Shoemaker) Falls

My great grandparents tombstone: Otis Daniel Falls and Minnie Lee Shoemaker Falls. This stone is proof that you cannot always trust grave markers to have accurate information. Minnie's first name is misspelled and while Fauls is a common way their last name was written, it was actually Falls. 

Monday, April 4, 2016

Frederick Linhoss

My 5th Great Uncle, Frederick Linhoss was born in Hessen, Germany on 29 May 1823. He came to the US alone (my 4th great grandfather, Frederick's brother followed later) and settled in the Shenandoah Valley. 
I feel like I know little of Frederick and yet, know so much. He entered the military and fought in two wars, was wounded and retired. 
In his own words from a family history: He fought in two wars, the Mexican War and the late Civil War. He was wounded in the ankle during the late war which caused him much suffering in after years. He fought in the Battle of Manassas, Battle of Bull Run, the Battle of Gettysburg, the Battle of the Wilderness, and others.
Upon special inquiry made not long since of two vener
ble gentlemen, Mr. Richard Mauzyof McGaheysville and Mr. 
J. N. Liggett of Harrisonburg, I was informed that Rocking- 
ham County, although a stronghold for Polk and his party, 
took very little interest in the Mexican War, 1846-8. Of 
Rockingham soldiers in Mexico, the following were all that 
could be recalled: John P. BrockM1823-1892) ; N. Calvin 
Smith" (1823-1897); William Smith (brother of Calvin). 

In October, 1873, William Ralston died near Linville 
Depot, aged about 50, It was said that he had been in the 
Mexican War, as well as in the Civil War. He was known as 
"Soldier Bill." 

Mr. Robert Coifman of Dayton states that Frederick 
Linhoss, formerly of the same town, was a soldier in Mex- 
ico; and Mr. Benj. Long, also of Dayton, agrees with Mr. 
Coffman in reporting the tradition, received from Mr. Lin- 
hoss and Mr. St. Clair Detamore, that a number of men 
(about a dozen) left Dayton for the Mexican War. 

From his niece in 1938: Frederick Linhoss enlisted at Harrisonburg, VA in the regular army under Capt. George W. Getty in the year 1846. Went to Fortress Monroe and from there to Mexico. Was there until 1848 then back to Fortress Monroe and from there to Florida and stayed there until 1850.
From the National Park Service's U.S. Civil War Soldier records, I have learned the following:
On 18 April 1861 Frederick Linhoss enlisted in Co. D, 10th Virginia Infantry at the rank of orderly sergeant in Harrisonburg, Virginia. He was elected 1st lieutenant on 23 April 1862 and then wounded 9 August 1862 at Cedar Run. On 20 April 1864 he resigned his commission due to disability.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Recording a Transgender Family Member

There are certainly mixed emotions on the transgender topic. I do not plan to write an opinion piece on transgender issues on a genealogy blog. Rather, this post is dedicated to what do we do and how do we do it when a family member has transitioned.

I have researched and read many ideas on recording a transitioned family member but have not found consensus across genealogists. For many, this feels like a new topic as the transgender community has found itself frequently in the news as of late.

The various genealogy software platforms have not introduced any way to note a transgender person. We get very clear choices for sex: Male, Female, and unknown.

Family history, to me, is like medical information. We should have it as accurate and truthful as possible. So we have to ask ourselves if we are keeping our trees for biological bloodline research or for the stories, the physical people who make up our story. For me, it is a little of both. I love using DNA to find new cousins and share research and trace my paternal and maternal bloodlines. But, the family tree I write about, share with family and friends is about the people, the individuals. I feel I would be short-changing the life of an individual not to include their transition as a part of that story for the good, the bad, and everything in between.

Future generations should not have to guess who these two supposedly different people that will show up in the census or disappear from records were. Documentation will allow those who write about all of us in 75 - 100 years to get it right on the first try and tell the right story.

As I have read on this topic, some like to leave the original birth information as the only information on the tree, others will leave off the original information after transition.

So what have I done?

I have marked the individual in my family with their preferred gender and name with a note: "transitioned in XXXX" and include original names, gender, and other identity information in a comment section. To document, I have sought out the court documents or newspaper legal posting documenting the change in name and keep in my personal family tree files.

I would love to hear how others have handled this, often sensitive, information in their own family trees.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Throw Back Thursday: The Venice of Africa

Traditional pirogue (boat)
As part of my 2007 trip to Benin, our group spent time learning about the slave trade from the African perspective. One of our stops was the safe haven of Ganvié.
Entering the very traditional pirogue (boat), I had no idea what was in store. We traveled for what seemed like forever past fishing boats, other pirogues that served as water taxis on  Lake Nokoué, near Cotonou. Some with motors and others with hand sewn sails. The amazing village that awaited me is still one of the most impressive places I have ever been.
Ganvié is Africa’s largest lake village with approximately 20,000 residents sitting nearly 4 miles from the nearest shoreline on Lake Nokoué. When I say it is a lake village, I mean all structures are on stilts above the water, including the scattered electricity. 

The marketplace is a row of boats bumped up against each other, you float past on your own boat. Older structures look like they could fall into the waters below with a hefty gust of wind. Ganvié is the kind of place you fall in love with because it is so rickety and you feel like you could be electrocuted in your room while as you sleep.
The village was founded in the sixteenth or seventeenth century by the Tofinu people who fled the shores near what is now Cotonou as the West-African Fon tribe was hunting and selling other native tribesman to the Portuguese and taken to the Americas. While there were few physical impediments protecting the ancestors of today's Ganvie village from outside attack, Fon religious practice forbade their raiders from advancing on any peoples dwelling on water, laying the groundwork for the Ganvie Lake Village. Today, the village’s main industries are tourism and fish farming.

At night, the chants of Beninese voodoo followers are heard among the water plants. This isn’t the Americanized voodoo of pin dolls but rather a very majestic, misunderstood religion full of tall tales, kings, priests and ghosts.   
Photos from Ganvié:

Wednesday, March 23, 2016