What Will I Do on Summer Vaca?

We are on a balanced schedule in our school district now.  While I love having an extended Spring and Fall Break, I must say that I really do desire the time to actually be lazy in the summer.  We have just over a month and a half of summer break.  And while I should be delighted to have that time, I am already finding that it is already filling up.  So I am nervous about not getting in a genealogy trip.  I need to start planning now.  But here’s the problem.  I have so many places I would like to go that I’m not sure where I should focus.  Here are some of my options:

Trip 1: To Springfield and then Keithsburg (Mercer Co.), Illinois

This is more for Andrew’s family.  His Nelson branch ends here.  The problem is that we have no death date for James A. Nelson.  James was born in Kentucky, moved to Indiana where he married Sarah Heaton.  The two of them soon moved to Keithsburg and as far as I know this is where James ended.  Sarah is widowed by 1870.  James is found in the 1860 census.  So where is this guy?  He would have been 47 when the Civil War started, so I doubt that is what happened to him.  Anyway…the point is…I’ve hit a brick wall with this guy.  I am hoping a visit to the capital and the town where he lived might shed some light on this guy.  Pros:  1. Close to Indiana.  Not the longest drive in the world.  2. Right on the Mississippi River, so that could be awesome.  3. I have always wanted to go to Springfield and see all the Lincoln stuff.  Cons:  1. Keithsburg floods…and badly.  I believe that many Mercer County records have been destroyed. 2.  Not the most exciting drive in the world.

Trip 2:  To Union County, South Carolina.

This is my ultimate brick wall.  This is as far back as I have gotten in my Brown family.  Alexander Brown was born in here in 1761 to unknown parents.  He married Sarah Benson and moved up to Darke County, Ohio where some Browns still live today.  Of all the family limbs that I have wanted to trace back to the origin country, this is it.  It’s my surname!  Come on!  There was some speculation that Alexander may have been a Quaker and moved up to Ohio to get away from the slavery issues that plagued the south, along with many other Quakers at this time.  As we all know, Quakers were among the first people to denounce slavery and act on it, even in the north.  Good old Quakers.  I would probably need to stay in a town between Columbia (the capitol) and Union (county seat of Union County) to have the best chance of finding information.  Pros: 1.  I LOVE the south.  In fact the southeast part of this country is one of my favorite places to visit, mostly for the landscape.  I find it extremely beautiful.  And I don’t mind the heat.  2. It’s the Browns!  3. There seems to be plenty of cheap places to stay between Columbia and Union, particularly in Newberry.  Sumter National Forest is nearby, and might require a visit.  Cons:  1.) It’s much farther than Illinois.  2.)  It might be more difficult to find someone interested in going with me (mainly Andrew who hates the hot hot heat).  3.) If no one has figured out Alexander by now, can I? 

Trip 3:  Binghamton, NY and Guilford County, NY

This is an area that my Lacey/Burch/Burtch branch lived and worked.  What is most interesting about this area to me is that my gg and ggg grandfathers were architects here.  Many of the buildings that still stand in Binghamton were designed by them.  I also have quite the little mystery with my gg grandfather Mister Bascom Taylor Lacey (AKA B.T. Lacey).  He was 90 years old and living in East Stroudsburg, PA in 1956.  I am guessing he didn’t do a ton of moving around before this. He is not buried with his first wife (who was not even provided a headstone) and I can’t seem to find where his second wife is buried either.  I thought that because he family business (and much of the family themselves) were based in NY that I would be able to find some info on him after his death in Binghamton.  I could be totally off-base here.  Pros:  1. I know with certainty that the buildings my people built are still standing.  I will get to stand in them and admire up close.  2. It’s a very pretty drive to NY with the potential for lots of little stops along the way.  3. This B.T. Lacey mystery is driving me nuts and I would love to know where he was finally “laid to rest”.  Please someone find me a flipping obituary!  4. I could maybe combine it with the PA trip that I plan on definitely taking in July.  Cons:  1. Once again, a long drive.  Who knows how much gas will be this summer.  2. New York = expensive.  I know it’s not the city, but the closer you get to the east coast the higher the prices generally.  3. I am going to NYC this Memorial Day.  Going again seems a little overkill.

Places I will definitely be visiting:

  • Darke County, Ohio (Brown fam)
  • Rush County, Indiana (Boyce fam)
  • Wabash, Indiana (Oyler fam)
  • Marshall County, Indiana (Reed fam)
  • Hendricks County, Indiana (Sparks fam)
  • Eastern PA (my mother’s whole side of the family)

So…any ideas you guys?  Anybody know of any more pros and cons of each location?  I could use a little help deciding.

Fall Break Part I – Pre-partying

I had an amazing two-week fall break.  Around these parts fall is kind of awesome.  Honestly, I hate to say that because I despise winter with absolutely everything in me, and fall is really just PRE-winter.  But early fall is generally very pretty and very comfortable.  Jacket weather.  You understand.

I was absolutely delighted to take this drive out to the east coast where the rumors of an even more amazing color show on the trees was promised.

The goal:  Drive from Indiana to New York City.  Spend three days in New York.  Head to Scranton, Pennsylvania, and get crazy with some dead ancestors.  This trip was gonna be awesome.

Indy to New York

We left so early, 7am-ish.  I have no idea how it felt like we were driving a lot at night.  I wonder if Andrew feels this way.  I should ask him.  Nothing super exciting about the drive, but a few observations:

  • Holy crackerjacks, the wind.  Once we were finally facing east, I think the wind had a hand in getting us better gas mileage.  Wow.
  • The leaves were not quite as pretty in Pennsylvania, at least not as pretty as they should have been.  I am guessing this is because of the crazy windstorm that almost transplanted us in Kansas.
  • As we drove through the Stroudsburg section of Pennsylvania, we were in a “caution zone”.  I feel like that might mean the opposite of what it does in Indiana ….cause…. wow.  I was going 10 over the speed limit and people were speeding past me, obviously irritated with my geriatric driving.
  • The Bronx is very easy to get to from the George Washington Bridge, but not cheap!  I paid $16 in 3 minutes.  Boo tolls.  Let me just express my rage about the lack of upkeep on the freeway leading to the bridge and how I almost got my new car stuck in a pothole that seemed more like a manhole with no cover.  Unacceptable for paying $16.

This is all very whiny so far.  Let me explain right now that my drive out was the least nice part of the trip.  It gets better.

The Bronx

We are lucky to have friends that live all over the place and don’t seem to mind when we want to crash in their homes and take advantage of their intriguing locations.  One such friends, is Amsters, who you may have remembered from previous posts.  She lives in Riverdale, a lovely little neighborhood in the the Bronx.  Let me tell you what I used to think about the Bronx.  I thought if I went there…I would probably die, quickly.  Such horrible misconceptions.  It is a lovely place and there’s so much amazing history as well.  So we thought we should probably go see some of that history.

Westchester County, New York

The first stop was Hastings-on-Hudson, an adorable little town on the Hudson River.  Amsters loves driving up on the Sawmill Parkway because it reminds her of Don Draper, and her love for him, as if she ever forgets about it.  We got there pretty quick and stopped into Antionette’s Patisserie.  We needed food and coffee.  Somehow, in my desire to find us a place to sit, I failed at getting both.  I ordered a drink…without caffeine?!  What on earth is the point?  The worst part was that I just really didn’t understand what I was ordering and the name sounded good.  It was, in effect, a hot milk.  I’m pretty sure that’s all it was, maybe with some sugar in it.  Then I pointed out a muffin I wanted, and said, “I want that, a chocolate chip muffin” and then ran outside and proceeded to speak to a man that I believe was actually Fareed Zakaria.  I am still trying to figure out if he owns a home nearby.  I grabbed an extra chair from Fareed’s table (he wasn’t using it) and then patiently sat and waited for my tasty coffee drink (which turned out to be sugary hot milk drink) and a chocolate chip muffin (which turned out to be a prune/fig health food granola dry grossness muffin).  Everyone else’s breakfast was great, so I kind of just mooched.  I’m glad people love me and accept me for who I am, and what I take from their plate.

Andrew and Amsters outside Antionette's

We finished our food and continued into Tarrytown.  I was told by a friend of mine about how great the Lyndhurst Mansion is, and I should probably go.  So we did!  I was a little worried about it considering the website looks like it was made in my Freshman year Intro to Telecom class (which I took in 1998, if that tells you anything about  the site).  You know, it was pretty awesome.  Our tour guide was slightly less than awesome, however, and I think this really detracted from the entire experience.   The house used to be the filming location for the show Dark Shadows.  It was very gothic and very strange.  One of the most popular architectural concepts of the time was using faux-anything.  At least that’s what the tour guide said.  I’m starting to think she may have just been some wackadoo off the street with a British accent who sounded like she knew something important.  Anyway, she claimed that a lot of the materials were fake.  They used wood to look like stone, even though they could have totally used stone.  It was supposed to be fake.  We were not allowed to take pictures inside.  Here are some of the outside:

Lyndhurst Mansion, Tarrytown, New York

The backyard, overlooking the bowling alley and Hudson River at Lyndhurst Mansion

We then headed over to Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, which is the oldest cemetery in the state of New York (if I’m not mistaken).  It was a beautiful cemetery with a shockingly large number of famous folks buried there.  I saw the gravesite for Andrew Carnegie (which was a hoot for my students to see pictures of, because we had just learned about him in US History), Samuel Gompers, much of the Rockefeller family, and obviously Washington Irving.  During our entire visit I tried to envision the locations from the Disney film and where they would probably be here.  I did this very quietly, so that my husband and Amsters would not judge me.

New York City, Manhattan

We spent one night in Manhattan and then part of the next day.  We happened to be in town at the same time as some of our other friends who just happened to be in the city.  We all met up for a lovely evening of comedy at the Upright Citizens Brigade and then an evening on the hotel roof having drinks with an amazing view of the city skyline.  I have to admit, I love New York City.  Every time I have been I have had a very unique and completely different experience.  There are still about a million things I haven’t seen and would love to.

Other spots I got to see this time around which was new and amazing:

  • The High Line – New walking park, which is a converted rail line and runs above ground.
  • Chelsea Market – Where we purchased amazing new red apple balsamic vinegar
  • St. John the Divine Church – Courtesy of our friend, Keely, who lives in the neighborhood.  This place is amazing.  The Children’s Sculpture park next to it is terrifying.
  • Columbia University campus – VERY different from my own undergrad experience.

The High Line, Manhattan, New York City, looking south

View from our rooftop bar location. Not too shabby.

We had one last visit to a couple of historic spots in the Bronx, but nothing family related, and we headed out to Eastern Pennsylvania, late at nigh so that I could get started early morning in Scranton.

The worst thing about traveling from New York to Pennsylvania in October in the evening….deer.  Suicidal deer.

Part II will contain ACTUAL ancestry research.

 

 

The Summer Flits Away

I’ve been pretty sick, kids.  It’s been a nasty month ’round these parts.  Tissues….everywhere.  I’m here to tell you though, that I am back.  And I will be blogging regularly again.

Moving on…

For those who are genealogy buffs out there, do you feel like a vacation/trip is wasted if you don’t have a genealogy stop somewhere along the way?  Even just a little cemetery where you wanted to grab a picture…  I really shouldn’t feel this way, but I kind of do.  Andrew and I have been trying to plan a little summer trip which is drive-able and not insanely expensive.  We also wanted to go somewhere new.  It’s been awhile since we’ve gone to Michigan, and neither of us have ever been to the Upper Peninsula (the UP).

Painted Rocks, Upper Peninsula, Michigan - Where we will hopefully be spending a few days this summer.

As soon as Andrew mentioned it I thought, “Yeah!  The Painted Rocks!  That would be super cool.”  Then I immediately began trying to figure out if anyone on the tree is from Michigan.  Not really.  But what about the rest of the route… Wisconsin?  Nope.  Not there either.  Chicagoland area?  Not so much.  I got a little mopey and unexcited about it.  Does this happen to anyone else?  I am committed to making this trip happen this summer, and I am going to get over it (or move the driving route to cover the Wabash area of Indiana).

Onto other news…

We are able to plan a small trip (versus our move into the poor house) because I finally got a teaching job!  Woot!  I will be teaching High School social studies (most likely History).  So I will actually be adding to the household income.  As of now, my income has been paying my student loans, and little more.

The summer is getting away from me though.  I start Orientation on August 2, which means that I have a short window if I want to get any ancestry trips before school starts.  And then I have to fit in the other lovely parts of summer: parties, cocktails on the patio, dinner with friends, walks in the park, and grilling.

Summer, I could just eat you up.

This is going to be a busy summer. They always are these days.