Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Where Have I Been?

My blogging status of late has been absent. I just got back from a 16 day trip back east. The primary purpose was to attend a Harris family reunion in Glens Falls, New York. All my siblings were going to be there and we were going to honor my father's 75th birthday at the reunion. My husband Bill and I were the only ones in my immediate family attending. My kids needed to scrap up the money to come but none of them quit got there. I am actually glad it was just my husband and I that went because the car would of been too crowded otherwise.

Yes, we drove about 7,000 plus miles all together on this trip. That is a lot of time in the car. I am so grateful for air conditioning :) Since we were making the trip by car we decided to stop at LDS historical places along the way. It was the first time I ever went to Winter Quarters in Nebraska. We could feel spirits following us in the cemetery. It was way cool and brought tears to your eyes too. My husband said it felt like Gettysburg's battle fields when he visited there.

We stayed several days in Nauvoo and just didn't want to leave. It is a beautiful, peaceful place. We enjoyed wagon rides, plays and pageants. We visited the restored shops and homes. We looked in the antique shops in town. Our first and last place to visit in Nauvoo was the temple. When we were there last in 1991 there was no Nauvoo temple and no plans for it to be rebuilt either. It was wonderful to see it majestically sitting a top the hill for all to see. As I looked at the statues of Joseph and Hyram longingly leaving Nauvoo before the martyrdom I could understand a part of how they felt.

In Kirtland, Ohio I did the first of my genealogy research. I wanted to find the graves of Murray and Grace (Harris) Jenkins. They joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1830 and came to Kirtland and never left. I found this couple while doing a Google search of Harrisena, the community I grew up in and am somehow related to all that lived there. I knew how I was related to Murray Jenkins but not Grace Harris. Her obituary tells of how her family in Harrisena offered her lands if she would disown the church, which she never did. They must of disowned her because I cannot find out how she is related to my Harris' but I know that she is. I didn't discover anything further while in Kirtland. I have to send away to the state for her death certificate because the town didn't have it.

With the help of the LDS visitor center I found the location of the cemetery and how to get to it. We easily drove there. When we stopped the car I got out and walked a distance right to the grave. I just knew where it was but I had never been there before. Tears came to both mine and my husbands eyes as we read their tombstone. I could just feel this longing for them to be connected back to the family. I was the first Harris relative to visit Grace's grave since the family had disowned her. It was very touching. My husband was all choked up and I said to him "Your not a used to it as I am." It was great that he could feel the spirit and importance of my doing genealogy work while on this trip. He was a great support to me in my efforts. He took the vast majority of 1,800 plus photographs we took while on this trip.

After Kirtland we stopped in Palymra, New York for the Hill Cumorah pageant. It has greatly changed since we last saw it. Much more professionally and technically done. I haven't decided if I like it better or not. It was still very good. Since we were there last the Palymra temple has been built. The roads have changed. They have also rebuilt the Smith log home and added the ability to walk through the sacred grove from the back of the log home. The path is much longer. I was to tired to walk the whole distance. I just love visiting this area.

Finally I arrived in New York. My dad took my husband and I around to the different cemeteries and homes so I could take pictures. At my first cemetery, the Harrisena or John J. Harris Memorial Cemetery I found that the church there was preparing for a benefit sale. We got to look around and I found this spice rack with all these empty clean bottles with stoppers in them. The idea popped in my head that they were perfect for me to take little samples of the dirt from each of the cemteries and homes that I visited. I was so excited about doing this. I bought the bottles and did just that. I was able to bring home a little piece of my heritage. It is one of my most treasured items from the whole trip.

The weather was perfect for taking pictures in the cemeteries. It was cloudy and the tombstones look like they came out clear. It was wonderful to finally get pictures of generations of ancestors tombstones. (The picture shows my 4th great-grandfather's tombstone, one of the oldest and most difficult to read.) The Seeyle cemetery brought back so many memories of my childhood spent sitting among those stones wondering how I was related to the individuals there. This time I really knew them because I have my ancestry etched in my mind.

The family reunion came next. It was a wonderfully successful event. First we where going to have the reunion for all the descendants of Marshall and Sarah (Miller) Harris, my grandparents. Then it grew to the descendants of the great-grandparents Leroy and Alice (Osberg) Harris. By the time it made the local papers it was all the descendants of my 5th great-grand father Moses Harris, Jr. the Revolutionary War spy. No one got a good count as to how many showed up. (The picture shows my generation of cousins - no spouses. I can already tell we are missing some that were there.)

We were out doors at a park in a covered pavillon. I was so happy to find I had a power outlit for my laptop. I was able to pin up my wall chart for everyone to look at and set up shop to take down family history information. I was busy the whole reunion. I only got something to eat because my brother brought it over to me. I was so tickled that so many expressed their thanks that I was keeping records of the family. I sent my husband around to take pictures for me. Thank goodness for name tags! It was a long beautiful day. I so needed to be there and was grateful that I could make it.

The days after the reunion I did genealogy research with my faithful husband by my side. I was even able to attend the Northeastern New York Genealogical Society meeting. The Crandall Library in New York has a wonderful genealogy room. I could spend my lifetime in there and still not gather all the genealogy information I want or needed from it. It was kind of sad that I only had five days to do all my research.

I spent two days in Greenwich, New York to work on my mother's side of the family. My Aunt Florence is the only surviving sibling of my mother's 13 brothers and sisters. It was great to see her. She had just gathered a bunch of photographs from a distance relative. We identified who everyone was and my husband took digital photographs of them all. (The picture shows my great-grandmother Hattie Hewitt Weatherwax and her daughter Hattie) Then we visited the cemetery where many ancestors are buried and we were able to take photographs. It was raining but the pictures appear to have come out well. Once again I took my dirt sample and have a piece of my ancestors with me.

My second day in Greenwich I visited the town clerk and got several copies of death certificates. Unfortunately most have parents unknown, at least that is what the clerk told me. I have yet to go over all of them. The clerks are very organized there I was impressed. After getting the death certificates she went through her database she had just finished creating and told me exactly where all these people are buried. I think she was impressed to build that database and have it finished just because I was coming on the scene. One sad thing to note is that all the town records burned in 1910 so I wasn't able to go to far back in the records, only up to 1880 and those were recovered from the state. With this database the clerk had created it cross references all the transcribed cemeteries in the area so I could find out all the Weatherwax's and other family names in the area.

The Gill room in the Greenwich Library was another spot I could of spent days in. Of course right before leaving I found the one reference book I could of spent days on. I took down what I could from the index and hopefully I can get the rest of the information later. At least I have clues.

My days of research sadly ended and we hurried back to Utah in a marathon 3 day trip. We arrived home at 1:00 am EST Monday morning, which was 11:00 p.m. MST Sunday night. I got to bed at 1:00 am and then had to get up at 6:30 am Monday morning to get ready for work. It has been a marthon trip with much done, visited and seen. I had no naps while I was gone and my health stood up to the pace. Now that I am home I am trying to recover from the trip.

Right before leaving on the trip I had bought some Chinese food and a bunch of fortune cookies. I chuckled as all my fortunes referred to my trip. My last one said "You will be traveling and coming into a fortune." Now true it was. I did come back with a fortune in genealogy materials. I also had good fortune all along the way. Great parking spots, last room at the motels, in fact my husband and I joked all the along the way on my great fortune. I truely have been blessed.

Thankfully my sons didn't burn down the house while I was gone. The only mishap while away was that my oldest son decided to clean and he started with the freezer. He threw away everything past it's expiration date. I could of cried. He didn't realize that the expiration date was if the meat was still fresh and not frozen. The freezer is pretty much empty now, my my how much room there is.

Now that I am home and starting to work on reading my emails and catching up on blog posts I am sure you will see a lot of posts from me regarding what I missed while away. The really big job now is compiling all the new information I have found. This will keep me busy for a long, long time.

See ya tomorrow, for tomorrow is always another genealogy day!


Thomas MacEntee said...


Congratulations on a fruitful trip. I loved your account of the stops along the way. I have to confess that it was very informative to me even though I grew up in upstate New York. And all those photographs too!

Randy Seaver said...

What a beautiful post, Renee. Thank you for sharing your travels with us.

I balk at driving more than 1,000 miles on a trip! We find flying and then driving much easier, but we don't have places to visit until we hit Wisconsin!

1,800 photos! wow. I hope we see more of them.

Delia Furrer said...

Renee, this trip must have just been so wonderful! How awesome to see your Church's roots and to find your family cemeteries. Memories that will be with you for a long time!