Friday, April 30, 2010

93rd Carnival Of Genealogy:"How To" Confessions of a Storytelling Family Historian; Part III, On Writing

I really don't know how I write, so talking or writing about the process is difficult. Writing's magical. Writing's messy. I would love to be a writer who makes and follows chapter outlines --- but I am not. This process I repeat time and again: As I am nearing the completion of the research, I am driven to bake cookies, dig in the garden, take my black shepherd for a walk, or get in my car and just drive. The words and images flow through my mind. It seems as though my subject, a Baby Irene or Orena, begin to flow through my blood, coursing through my body. For a time, I become Orena, her mother, her grandmother. I hear the voices of her father, uncles, and brothers. I see the cabins, cemeteries, and the mountains in far away Tennessee. I see the Atlantic and Pacific oceans from atop the Summit of the Cierro Gigante. The story consumes me, my nights, my dreams, my thoughts --- sometimes for hours, or days, or weeks

Then by some mystical internal working, I see the story. Usually, I sit down and pound out the story at one fell swoop. Sometimes my research and my immersion into the life of the subject is so thorough, that my rough draft requires only cosmetic changes. Those are the best of times. Unfortunately, re-write is usually significant and the messiest part of writing.

In addition to the nuts and bolts of writing, I have three litmus tests that my stories, especially those of family history, have to meet: Respect, Honor and Truth. These have little to do with my research or the story, but more about the storyteller. I have to respect the story and the subject by not changing or tweaking it in order to make the story more exciting, more risqué, more politically correct. When I use dialogue, I have not heard my 3rd great-grandmother speak specific words, but I have heard three generations of women speak similar words, similar intonations. I do know what her home looked like, the recipes she handed down, and how many children were playing around her feet. I know about her political beliefs, her family of origin. I know they came from the traditions of the Chartist, Separationist, and Temperance movements. I know her pride in her husband and their accomplishments in a new land. I know the historically close knit family ties. I test those words that I put coming from her mouth against everything that I know about her and then I ask the three questions:

Am I respectful of the story and it's place and time? The storyteller cannot assume the mores and customs of the present time, or any other time --- only the story's time and place.

Have I honored the subject by being honest, and conscientious about portraying their lives?

Have I been true to the spirit of my subject and their story?

In this process if I can say that my words are true to the spirit of my subject, I give honor, respect, and truth to the story – whether the story is a family history or fiction.

* * *

Confessions, Pt.I

Confessions, Pt. II

Confessions of a Storytelling Family Historian; Part II, Doing the Footwork

Confession 1: In this community of serious genealogist, being a teller of stories places me in a space apart, and indeed intimidates me.
Confession 2: A desire to be recognized as a serious historian, as well as a gifted story teller.
Confession 3: When I started this series, I did not have a clue as to how I write.

So this is what I know. Storytelling, and especially in the realm of family history, is serious business. Outside my storytelling world there are those waiting for the misstep, the wrong year, the wrong picture, the crack in the story's facade. My readers they will tell me about it --- and so they should. This weaver of dreams and what-might-have-been's learned (usually the hard way) to relentlessly do the research.

I live in rural southern Oregon. The internet is my friend, Google is my friend, Ancestry is my friend. Hours are spent staring into the computer screen, plinking out queries, trying here and looking there – scouring for historical documents available to me. The research process is the same for genealogist, historians and the teller of stories. We gather bits and pieces of information to weave a tapestry of our subjects lives in time and space. As a story teller, I tend to look at the hard facts with a desire fill in the blanks, shapes and colors.

Research for a good story, especially for family history, has two separate but related phases; First, the research specifically related to the person or persons in the story, and secondly, research into the specific time and place. I start by creating a framework for my family stories --- a scaffold to which I add names, dates, places and events. When I am lucky I the “old ones” left me stories, letters, and the “begats” of Bibles and family trees. Although there was a time when I viewed such items as the Truth, now these are just pieces of information to verify. We all share this process of obtaining and verifying historical documents, however, as a storyteller, I always want more - more emotion, more color, more sounds and sights, more taste and feel.

In my storytelling brain, every piece of information forms a picture of at that particular time and place. For instance, I had only three pieces of information for Baby Irene and her 18-month life: a death certificate, a short death notice from a newspaper, and an old family picture that always graced my grandmothers wall. My mind's eye saw the untimely death of beautiful baby girl in the break-lands of Oregon's high desert. She was attended by a country doctor who came up with a very sophisticated cause of death, given the place and time --- a snapshot of her story.



My search for Baby Irene's story took me further afield, even though I had a significant amount of secondary information about the area and people of eastern Oregon. The list questions for my secondary research included: What did this medical terminology mean in 1905? What was the history of this disease? How would a country doctor in a small town in eastern Oregon know about such a sophisticated disease? Does that disease have any relevance to future generations? After delving into the morass of 19th century writings about “Marasiuus Juvenile, probably Tubercular sclerosis” and the current understanding of the disease, my head and heart began reconciling the lovely, laughing baby with the ultimate ravages of the disease.

Orena's Story was, in many respects, a very different process for me. I had a jumble of family stories but no real image of her came through until I was looking for her headstone in the family cemetery. Intrigued, so I started my scaffolding by going back to census reports; starting at 1840 and going through 1930. I viewed every page of Johnson County census reports as though I was a newcomer to the community and visiting new neighbors. In the process, I became acquainted with who lived next door, across the valley; I found old familiar names and names that would join the family in the future.

The 1850 & 1860 Tennessee Census reports for Johnson County provided an emerging set of scenes. The David L Keyes, his wife and family were a tight-knit, well-to-do family of four boys and three girls, surrounded by grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. By 1860, the grandfather Keyes and David's youngest son, 4 year old Benjamin, had died. As I followed the census reports, each became a mini scene painting a picture in my mind of a changing family, household shrinking as children moving out on their own, Tennessee relatives coming and going, and losing beloved uncles and parents.

Although the variety of hard facts tend to be stronger in census reports, Wills are one of my favorite documents as there is a certain immediacy of thoughts and feelings of the person, as well as the likely affects of the Will upon family members. The Wills of Orena's Uncle James and her father David clearly reflect that she received a substantially greater share than her cousins and siblings. Although neither Will states that this largess was due to her steadfast care of family, the backdrop is clear.

I also plow my way through all the family documents I can find such as Bibles, letters, recipes, journals, ledgers, and pictures. Gleaned bits and pieces to give texture and color to the scenes in my head. Fleshing out Orena's life, required reading histories of Tennessee and Tennessee families of the time period; then on to Oregon's histories of Benton, Wasco and Wheeler Counties, as well as family histories and genealogies; and researching ship travel from New York to Panama, building the Panama railroad, and travel over the Isthmus of Panama. Each of these gave me a glimmer of the sights and experiences Orena and her family.

Maps, especially maps of different eras, are one of my favorite tools. The graphic images form the questions: How far the distances? Where the mountains and rivers lay? Where roads were” Where roads were not? What kinds of roads? Villages Towns? These are the insights that go far beyond words. Maps of Oregon in the 1800s , make it obvious that the Willamette River, the old fur trading routes of the early 1800s, was still a viable form of transportation in 1870. Considering they had to transport 7 to 10 people, the accompanying luggage, and supplies, it is no wonder that the Orena's family chose the fur trader's route down the river, rather than slogging in mule drawn wagons over roads that were muddy during the rainy season and dusty during the rest of the year – and always bone jarring.

Family photos provide a visual aspect to the story, but often there may only be one picture such as with Orena. A lovely young woman, 23 years old, frozen in time. To round out my visual images I search for photos, drawings, and newspapers of that particular locality and era, such as clothing, transportation, houses, street scenes, church activities, stores and occupations. As I place my subject in a real time and place, the textures, color are added to the fleshed-out skeleton of my subject's life.

I would be remiss if I didn't mention using local museums and historical societies. In addition to the bits of information related to the individual I am researching, I find the greatest boon of the local groups to be the realm of historical setting. Staff member quite often have a long standing relationship with the area, as well as the families past and present. Most of all, I appreciate their willingness to share their time and even personal history that is relevant to my research.

At some point the writer must say, “ The research is finished (well, research is never finished) and now it is time for work of writing” --- and that is Confessions, Pt.III.


Also see Confessions, Pt.I

Monday, April 26, 2010

Amanuensis Monday: McPherson History, Letters from Uncle Ralph, Oct 7,1980

Amanuensis: a person employed to take dictation or copy manuscripts.

I read about Amanuensis Monday in Heather Rojo's blog "Nutfield Genealogy," who read about it in  Randy Seaver’s blog “GeneaMusings” and he read about it on John Newmark’s genealogy blog “TransylvanianDutch”.  That said,  for me this is a great way to transcribe and post my Uncle Ralph's letters.

The following letter, written by my Uncle Ralph, reflected his daily scouring of the newspapers for clippings and bits of news to send to his sister or sisters, as they passed the letters around to one another. The newspaper clipping about the organ was not in the letter, and very few of the clippings remained with the letters. In this letter he was quite interested in the full-size pipe organ that his brother-in-law putting together in their home. (They had a full room devoted to the pipes, while the organ itself was on the other side of the wall in the living room.)

Along with the daily weather and sports reports, as well as his views on local San Diego issues, Ralph writes about his sisters, Olive, Betty, Verna, Helen, and of course his dear oldest sister, Bertha (and Bertha's daughter, Cleona.)



Oct 7, 1980

Dear Olive & Norman,

Thought Id drop a line this AM & send Norman this clipping altho he more than likely knows all about that family if they’ve been in the organ business that long.

Weather here feels like fall, pretty foggy this morning. Of course with baseball winding down to a close & football in full swing we don’t need the weather to say what time of year it is. We are having lots of smog, just like L.A. in fact most of it is from L.A. & the thing is Alpine where a few yrs ago every one would remark on what a nice climate it was is that now with the air curants, it now has a 2nd and rd smog alert which is 3 times what the rest of the county is having.

I think SD G&E our power co has gone absolutely nuts, They’ve raised their rates to the highest in the country & now they are going to raise the cost of a hook up to a new customer from 151.80 o 2,000.00 boy they have all the builders & developers on their ears. O course the buyers will pay in the long run & some banker figured out on a 70,000 home by the time its paid off the purchaser would have paid out 8,875.00 for that hook up. It will really stop a lot of bldgs from going up & mostly people buying a lot & moving a mobile home on it.

Don’t hear from Bertha much but expect Cleona keeps her pretty busy. Of course with the play offs & world series on now & Cleo and Cal being fanatics on watching the ball games. They will be all glued to the boob tube & Berthas like sally she could care less about then.

I like sports but its getting so down here that the tube is getting saturated with sports. The only ones I watch are football, baseball, & once in a while basketball, but in addition to that they have soccor, rugby football, hockey, & a bunch of others.

Getting back to organs. I always thought Norman was a little slow & methodical about putting his together, but according to that clipping you have to be, it takes longer to build an organ than to build a house.

Glad you guys are all doing a lot of walking. I should do more of it as I think it’s the best form of exercise.

Hope Helen & Verna are feeling OK. The walking would be good for both of them. Expect Verna & Rowe will be back in the desert this month some time, but its still getting pretty warm over there.

Is Leland being treated by a Redding Dr & how is Betty putting in her time since she left the unemployment job? The 3 places up there should look pretty different now with all of you building or making improvements.

Well, like I say nothing to write about so better close.

Love,
Ralph & Sally

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Blogging Problems

About a week ago, a strange thing happened.  For some reason, (possibly due to my propensity to push buttons before looking) I lost pictures on my blog  --- not all, just some.  Even more frustrating, I am having problems uploading pictures.  Well, the pictures upload, they just don't show on the blog.  To make my life even more frustrating, some of my blogger friend's pictures don't show up on their blogs  --- not all, just some.  And the final straw, my networked blog do not show up, tho they appear to be there and perhaps even receiving messages from me.  O, and one last thing,  sometimes the pictures that don't show up on my blog, show up on my FaceBook links to my  blog.

O, it's a sad state of affairs --- and my surrogate grandson (friend of grandson, whom I have to pay to help me) is off the grid at the moment.  Yikes! Gad Zooks! Yikes, Again!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Amanuensis Monday: McPherson History, Letters from Uncle Ralph, Oct 2,1980



Amanuensis: a person employed to take dictation or copy manuscripts.

I read about Amanuensis Monday in Heather Rojo's blog "Nutfield Genealogy," who read about it in  Randy Seaver’s blog “GeneaMusings” and he read about it on John Newmark’s genealogy blog “TransylvanianDutch”.  That said,  for me this is a great way to transcribe and post my Uncle Ralph's letters.

An everyday kind of guy, my Uncle Ralph wrote letters telling his sisters of his daily life in the 1980s as well as regaling them with family history that he remembers.  In this letter,  he mentions his sister Margie, who was the next youngest to him.   He  also tells his baby sister, Olive, about  the older generations and stories that she was too young to remember.




10/2/80




Dear Olive & Norman,


Your letter came the same day I wrote to you. Getting some funny weather now. Supposed to be a Santa Ana that can get only within 5 mi of the beach. Most of your Santa Anas, its just as hot at the beach as it is on the desert. This ones different. 70 degrees at the beach till 5 mi inland then to 95 to 100 & the desert 116 yesterday at Palm Springs.


Knocked $30 off the elect bill this last month but it was still almost 46.00 but the weather had cooled so we just had the house open with a fan or two on.


Not much news, its mostly all political now. The Liars are out in full force now. So I never listen to them. I just read their record and on most of them its pretty shoddy.


Yes I suppose being the youngest & coming to Calif so young you might not even heard of most of your relatives. I didn’t keep in touch like Margie did but I met lots of them & knew of others & nearly all the older generations are in Wisconsin. Some in Iowa, not many in Minn or Mich. In wis there were the Burmeisters, Fosses, Irelands & McPhersons, also a few Foys , in Iowa, the Fiskes. In those days people were close knit, some of them never got over 50 mi away from home in their life time. In those days, and late in the afternoon would pull into any farm house & ask to stay all night. It was common precedure if you lived close to a highway & very few would take money for putting a person up. I know 2 or 3 times a year some one would stop at our place to stay, team & all & all of them Perfect strangers. In one way it was a way of getting outside news (outside of a 20 mi circumference). Also in those days you might work for a neighbor 4 or 5 days but never think of getting paid except by him helping you.


I can remember Dad giving me hell. He was going to shock grain for another farmer & then that fellow was to shock corn for Dad. The only thing Dad and Mother had to go to Madison so Dad told me to go in his place which I did but when I finished shocking his grain, he asked if I’d rather have the 3.00 or have him come up & shock corn for me. The 3.00 looked big to me & it was no problem for me cut and shocks the corn. Only I didn’t know what bawling out I was going to get when Dad got home.


Write when you can & say Hi to everyone.


Love,
Ralph & Sally



Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Confessions of a Storytelling Family Historian; Part I, The beginning

Growing up in a world of make-believe, and being a verbally precocious child, it is no wonder that I became a storyteller. On the other hand, it may be a bit surprising because none of my family shares my penchant for storytelling -- not my siblings, nor my mother, and I don't remember my father being a storyteller. However, my father did love his stories that came out of the radio and off of the movie screen. When I was a child, I remember sitting with my dad in the car outside the movie theater listening to the radio. We wouldn't go into the theater until the Lone Ranger and Tonto saved the day. Missing a few minutes at the beginning of the movie was OK with us as we could catch what we missed at the beginning of the 2nd show, but in those days there was no replay on the radio.

In elementary school, I always had big ideas for plays, which were usually too intricate for us kids. I would also put on Christmas pageants at home, with sister and cousins taking the major parts, my Irish Setter pressed into the part of the donkey, and a doll for the Baby Jesus. I felt artistically challenged when my brother was a baby, and my mother would not allow him to be Babe in the manger (or red wagon, in a pinch). I had to settle for the doll baby. In school speech contests, I loved dramatic stories and poems the best. The “hammy-ier,” the better, so said my mother and aunt. I emoted over “Madame X,” Poe's “For Annie,” “Annabelle Lee,” and “The Raven”, as well as Noyes' “The Highwayman.”

After I had my first child at 18, my storytelling took another turn. As mothers everywhere, I read and told stories to my children and now to my younger brothers. They liked the poems and stories I read, but most of all they liked my stories that were like serial versions of old fashioned radio shows or the Saturday movie matinées. Cliff hangers were my forte. The next night or so, my little audience clamored to hear the ending, but my stories never ended, just morphed from one story line to another.

During my late 20s, into my 30s, and even 40s, this favorite pastime of mine slacked off, partially because these were self-involved years, but also the adults around me viewed this proclivity as “too emotional”, “not seemly for an adult woman,” “there is real work to be done,” and other story-killing judgments. However, by my mid 40s, I came into my old mode again. I now had a captive audience; my own company employed up to 40 people --- all young, bright, energetic and, most importantly, they like my stories. I would regale them during staff meetings, on the way to conferences, and at after work sessions.

I also found that I had somehow acquired a significant amount of family history and began a serious delving into family records. In a very short time the two facets, family history and storytelling, began to merge. Discouragement many times hampered my family stories as I couldn't always find out everything about my ancestors. I was stonewalled by stilted lists and records as I sifted through census, birth, marriage and death reports. Wills and Probate records were better, but land titles and tax records did not a flesh and blood story make.

Next, I joined a writing group that supposedly focused on family history writing. I found my first niche; not family historians per se, but a group of writers that were to become my “writerly” friends. My writing improved, my stories got better, but my family history stories tended to be labored and somehow unfinished.
I fussed,
fumed,
and vented frustration.

I could just make up stories, write “creative” family history. I shuddered as I remembered the cutting words at a genealogy workshop where the leader slammed a workshopee's family history, “That's not a family history! You can't say anything in a family history that is not verifiable.”

What? No descriptive rhapsodies. No dialogue, unless of course, my 3rd great grandmother carried around a small tape recorder and mystically passed that recording to me through the shifting veil of the ages. The old folks of my past were talking to me. I shuffled stacks of old pictures of my departed ones, only to have their faces come to me in the night like a shimmer, in quaking leaves, in shifting clouds, white and grey. Sometimes faces would roll through my mind like an endless TV show. Faces calling to me. Stories begging to be told. What was I to do?
* * *

Monday, April 12, 2010

Amanuensis Monday: McPherson History, Letters from Uncle Ralph, Sep 26, 1980,


Amanuensis: a person employed to take dictation or copy manuscripts.



I read about Amanuensis Monday in Heather Rojo's blog "Nutfield Genealogy," who read about it in  Randy Seaver’s blog “GeneaMusings” and he read about it on John Newmark’s genealogy blog “TransylvanianDutch”.  That said,  for me this is a great way to transcribe and post my Uncle Ralph's letters.


As I previously  noted, my uncle, Ralph Jabez McPherson, was an everyday sort of guy.  He loved family, read 6 newspapers a day and wrote letters nearly every day to one or another of his sisters.  In this letter,  he mentions sisters Helen, Verna, Olive and Bertha.  He  and Bertha were the two oldest of the siblings and were close throughout their lives.   Ralph fussed about the fact that  Bertha's daughter had moved her mother from her home in San Diego, and placed her in a Missouri nursing home, far from southern California and her siblings but closer to the daughter's  own home. Other than writing about family, Ralph gives of a running commentary about his life and times in San Diego in  the 1980s.


9/26/80
Dear Olive & Norman


I don’t know wether I owe you a letter or you owe me but as long as I have a little time will write altho there really isn’t anything to write about.


So you guys up there are doing a little walking for exercise, well walking is one of the best forms of exercise there is, its even better than jogging. I should do a lot of it.


Verna sounded a little more cheerful in her last letter, hope those drs are right & that it can be cured in a yrs time. How is Helen. She don’t write much so I have to get any information on her from you girls. Finally had a letter from Bertha, she doesn’t say much, but outside of being lonely & unable to go out & eat at various places, guess she is doing OK


Our weather is still holding up. Has been nice all thru Sept.(can’t think of a time when it been better so long at a stretch.


Well its sports time of the year again & the tube will be full of all the sports, like tomorrow the Aztecs and Missouri play at 10 a.m. but will listen on the radio as the T.V. will be a delayed broadcast & as a general thing I don’t watch a delayed broadcast. (The game is over & I know the score so the interest is over.)


Expect your nights are cooling off pretty good now. What are you burning for fuel this winter. I know you will use the fireplace & have Monte & you guys been able to gather up fuel enough for this winter. Timber is harder to get even up there & down here its out of the question @ 135.00 a cord. I have gas heat but don’t need that except in the eve later on.


Went over to Solano Beach last week to visit Sallys sister & brother in law. They were down for the races at Del Mar, as a general rule they last 6 weeks but this year they added 12 extra days. Each year they rent for a certain length of time & these landlords try to keep there rentals going so as fast as 1 moves out another one is in. so this year they were stymied as they had to get out and rent a motel the last 10 days but they said the rent was the same 175.00 a week.


Do you watch TicTacToe on T.V. The guy that’s on there now has won 275,0000 so far & still going strong. Hes in the navy stationed at Mira Mar & lives at Poway, 10 mi from Escondido.


Rancho Santa Fe a mostly residential community between here and the coast are trying to get the state to put in another highway or two so traffic won’t have to take the Del Dios highway thru the ranch land sells for 100,000 an acre & there are no addresses or mail delivery. The quaint little town has some exclusive shops, a post office, 1 service station & has quite of pop. of several thousand. The land is up & down, full of gulleys, brush & trees and crooked roads so outside of the town theres nothing to see really.


Another item, there been a 3rd more banks robbed this year than last & the one the other day in Pacific Beach they got 287,000 quite a haul. They had it timed pretty good as they were in the bank but got it all from a lomis bank truck delivery.


Well haven’t said anything, just filled up the blank spots. Write when you get time.


Love,
Ralph & Sally

Monday, April 5, 2010

Amanuensis Monday: McPherson History, Letters from Uncle Ralph

Amanuensis: a person employed to take dictation or copy manuscripts.



I read about Amanuensis Monday in Heather Rojo's blog "Nutfield Genealogy," who read about it in  Randy Seaver’s blog “GeneaMusings” and he read about it on John Newmark’s genealogy blog “TransylvanianDutch”.  That said,  for me this is a great way to transcribe and post my Uncle Ralph's letters.


Mondays are my days to enter transcriptions of the letters my Uncle Ralph wrote to his sisters.   The following  letter was written to his sister Olive Lorraine.  He mentions her husband, and his sisters, Bertha, Helen and Verna, as well as a bit of family history from Minnesota and Wisconsin. This letter is also one of his shorter missives - just a four-page letter to keep in touch with his sister.  To the left is a  picture of Ralph taken in the mid 1940's.


9/8/80
Dear Olive & Norman,
Received your letter the day after I had mailed you one so to keep the record straight I'll write again today & besides I got more idle time than you have,


Norman thinks I have a good memory. Well I have & I also think that the times of life also have something to do wit it. Everything was so much slower and relaxed 50 or 60 years ago that think the impresions get imprinted on your memory like years ago when the roads were so bad & we were driving trucks with poor brakes after about the 2nd  trip we knew every bump in or where to slow or speed up. To show you an example  Bertha & I both started school at the 5th Ward schoool in Madison wis & the 1st grade teacher there also taught our mother when she started to school when she was 6y yrs old.


Our Dad drove a wholesale delivery wagon for Gold-Wells&Blackburn wholesale grocers & his section of town to deliver in was called little Italy. For all of this he received $1 a day 5 1/2 days a week which at that time were considered good wages, he quit them & went to work as a marble setter when they were finishing bldg the Capitol at Madison.



The problem I have now & have had for years bringing something to mind like I"ll introducetwo people & I'll know their names as well as my own but at the time can't think of them.


You know as I look back I know a lot of Grandfather’s (James Burns McPherson) brothers and sisters & also some of his aunts and uncles & no where has there been much illness. They either had to get killed or die of old age & I mean old in the nintys, of course generations ago when people never got 50 mi away from home in their life time there was some pretty close relationship along the line although none of them were deformed like the royalty in Europe altho there were some like one of Dad’s cousins with two thumbs on each hand and a few more like that


No you dont get much impressions in todays world you drive along the highway you don't actualy see it or anything else


Our weather is still nice but the nights are getting a little chill to them but I can cut down on the electricity which is good


Had a letter from Bertha this last week but she doesn't say much


Write to Verna this a.m. & should drop Helen a line. Guess she is in a vile mood if she's quit smoking it bothers me too.


Love,
Ralph & Sally

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Honored by Ancestor Approved Award





I am honored to be the recipient of the Ancestor Approved Award from SouthwestArkie

The Ancestor Approved Award asks that the recipient list ten things you have learned about any of your ancestors that has surprised, humbled, or enlighted you and pass the award along to ten other bloggers who you feel are doing their ancestors proud.  Here are the 10 things I have learned from my ancestors.

1.  Surprised to find out that my great-great grandmother Sarah Duty Brown taught my grandmother Agnes Laura Keyes, who taught my mother Ruth Sigford to do the Indian shuffle dance.
2.  Humbled to receive a copy of of great great grandmother Mary Burns McPheron's recipe for Scotch Shortbread, via her great-granddaughter, a granddaughter of Margaret Burns McPherson Burmeister.
3. Humbled to find  a book, Children's Friends,  given to my  grandmother in 1888.  It was tucked away in a box destined for storage, disposal, or whatever.  What a wonderful find.
4.  Enlightened to find how far back our family history of activism goes in the Burns and McPherson families:  the Hecklers of Dundee, the Chatrists and  even the Temperance movements of the 1800s,
5. Humbled to be a witness to the recognition and awarding the Congressional Gold Medal to WASP and their efforts on behalf of the nation in World War II, and of my Aunt Gail's efforts as a WASP and also her work in the shipyards prior to joining the WASP.
6. Humbled by the bravery exhibited by the women who followed into new lands, and kept the families in tact in the most difficult circumstances:  Sarah Duty Brown, came across the Oregon Trail at 21 years of age and 2 babies;  Mary Burns McPherson came from Scotland, to New York, to Wisconsin, following that Scots great-great grandfather,  and even my grandmother Elizabeth Alfreda Foss McPherson, who loved a Scots with a wandering heart.  These women made a home, cared for children, while following  the wild and wandering hearts of their men.
7. Surprised that Oyster Stew, which I thought only my dad and I liked, was a McPherson family favorite from New York, to Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota, California, Arizona, Iowa, and to Oregon --- and possibly points of which I know not.
8. Enlightened to find the thread of education coming from the back hills of Tennessee and the flax mills of Dundee, Scotland.
9. Enlightened by my Uncle Ralph's letters; he read six newspapers a day, told me stories of family, and gave me his view of  the world around him.
10. Surprised at how many of my ancestors have no one left to tell their story.  Enlightened that I have found their lives and stories; Humbled that I have the honor of telling those stories.

The last part of Ancestor Approves is to pass on this award to 10 deserving bloggers;
1. Bonnie at Amore e Sapore di Famiglia
2. Missey at Bayside Blog
3.Amanda at Abt Unk
4. Arlene at Arlene Eakle's Tennessee Blog
5. Patti at Consanguinity
6. Deb at Deb's Genealogy Desk
7. C M Pointer at Family Stories
8. Nancy at Fermazin Family Genealogy
9.  Karen at Genealogy Frame of Mind
10. Mary  at Mary's Musings