Tomorrow I leave for my family reunion. I’m going alone this year. Mark went with me last year and I let him off the hook this time, though he would go if I asked him to. I like for him to make an appearance every few years so these distant relatives know what a wonderful husband I have, but sometimes it is fun to go alone and not have to worry if he is enjoying himself.
I ran some errands tonight to help me get ready. I bought 100 pounds of play sand. I will take a hoe and a shovel and, this year for the sand, a hand cart. I always try to hoe up some of the crab grass on the graves of those I love and I’ve noticed in past years that the graves of my great-grandparents and favorite great-aunt have needed some augmentation. This year I hope I can do something to help fill them up a bit. This may not be enough, but it is a start.
Last weekend I bought several bunches of flowers for the graves. Some years I have been more fancy than others. This year I may not have flowers on all the graves I would like to decorate, but at least there will be some. I don’t put flowers on the graves of the great-great-great-grandparents, since everyone is related to them. But I do bring flowers for my great greats and my greats and my dear Aunt Det who was a favorite. I also have a pair of great-great-grandparents that are not related to these reunion people so I put flowers out for them, too. And there are yet two other great aunts in this cemetery who I loved very much and I try to bring flowers for them, too.
I have had a lot of interesting genealogy interactions this week that have me excited about this reunion and genealogy in general. A man from the sheriff’s office in Taylor County contacted me. I had just been doing some research last week on John Valentine Cunningham, an uncle of mine, who was sheriff of Taylor County. I had a findagrave.com volunteer go to the city cemetery and get a good photo of his gravestone for me. Then this man wrote to say that a deputy that worked at the same time as Sheriff Cunningham is getting an historical marker because he was killed in the line of duty. They are gathering information on him and hoped I might have something to add. Sadly, I don’t, and I don’t think anyone in the family does, but I will ask at the reunion. I don’t believe anyone from that branch of the family even comes to the reunion anymore. But, best of all, this man sent me a great family photo of J.V. Cunningham and his wife and five children. And he said that his individual photo hangs in the sheriff’s office and he is going to make me a good scan of it. Jackpot!
I also had an email through this blog that I discovered 6 weeks late… I’m sorry that I sometimes don’t see the comments or e-mails through this site. This man is a landman with an oil and gas company in East Texas and he Googled my cousin Effie’s name and read my blog about her when she died in November. He is searching for her family and her heirs so that they can lease the mineral rights to property in East Texas. Â Sadly, I won’t be one of the relatives that gets some nice leasing action, but I am happy to put him in touch with some of her relatives who, hopefully, will know the other side of the family, too, and find him who he needs.
Another great stroke of genealogy luck was a long email from a man that lives in Georgetown that is a Williams cousin. We share a common Williams ancestor. In fact, this man is not too distantly related to my cousin Edna who I visited in May. I’d have to think about it, but they are pretty close to even being first cousins or maybe first cousins once removed. He has sent me some pictures of some gravestones near Jarrell, Texas, that I have searched for and not found. I expect we will be communicating a lot more.
All of this has had me in high gear for the reunion and eager to find more time for genealogy. That is the hard part. It has been busy at work, busy at home, busy with my two part-time jobs, etc. I can’t seem to find enough time to do what I want to do. I did take the bold action of turning down a writing assignment today so I will not be stressing out over that through the next two weeks.
So now I need to get in the kitchen and cook a lemon pound cake for the reunion. I sometimes make pecan pies in honor of my cousin “Bud” (Mabel was her real name) who always brought beautiful and delicious pecan pies. But I also like the travel-bility of a nice pound cake. Last year I was carrying it to the table in a big carrier that had a handle on the top. As I was walking the top went – PLOP – and the cake turned itself over onto the ground. I was bemoaning my ruined cake and wondering if it was salvageable and a sweet couple that was nearby and saw me told me to dust off the leaves and put it on the table and no one would ever know. They were right and it was fine. My great-grandmother might still be rolling in her grave, though. She Â gave strict instructions, I’ve been told, of whose food you could and could not eat at the reunion, knowing that certain branches of the family weren’t as “clean” as the others. I won’t name names in a public blog. I think that same branch was known to have a few drinkers in the family, too.
I have also been reading up on copyright laws concerning genealogy. It’s interesting to me because so many people (me included!) are super protective of their work and their research. Many do not want their entire family tree to be up on the web for anyone to take as little or as much of it as they want. But reading up I find that there is very little about genealogy you can do to protect it. If I write a book about it, my creative writing and arrangement of the facts is copyrightable, but not the facts themselves. And I know of many people who have slaved over entire cemeteries, copying and recording data to produce a beautiful document that contains all of this good information. They may have done the work, but none of that is copyrightable and if I “stole” it all an put it on the web, nothing can be done. Facts are just facts. Interesting.
I hope I write about the reunion and get back to blogging soon. I miss the comments and the feedback.