Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Book Of Me: Prompt 47 --Awards

If you are not familiar with this wonderful project that was created by Julie Goucher of the Angler's Rest blog, please refer to this link:

This week's prompt is - Awards
Have you or a close family member received one?
What was it for?
How was it presented?
Do you still have it?
Have you inherited an award?
If so, who was awarded it and what for?

I haven't inherited any awards but I have earned a few in my lifetime. I think awards are good in terms of giving recognition for a job well done. I don't think they are what we should strive for in life. I think we should look for happiness and doing what you have a passion for. Still, I can't say I didn't like getting awards.  I've enjoyed and appreciated each and every one that I've ever been given.

The earliest award I can remember receiving was the "Student of the Month" award. I attended St. Pascal's Baylon, a Catholic school located in St. Albans, NY. This award was given out at the end of each month to the top students for each class.  I don't want to brag, but I was given this award many times during my tenure there.  I was a kid and I was under the impression that I was supposed to get this award every month. I didn't understand that teachers had to rotate giving it to the other smart students in my class. Secretly, I would be annoyed when I didn't receive it. It's funny how a child's mind works. I remember that the award was on white paper and printed in black ink with a fancy blue border. I was impressed by how official looking the certificate was.

The next award that sticks out in my memory is from when I went to sleep away camp. I must have been about 8 years old. There was a camp Olympics. It was a big deal, at least it felt like a big deal because the winners received actual medals!  There were 6 cabins and each cabin would represent a different country. I was a member of cabin 5 and we represented Venezuela. We even came up with our own chant to cheer our team on when competing. We raced and swam, and for the life of me I can't remember the rest of the events now. Somehow, even though we weren't the oldest group, we won! I was ecstatic to get one of those medals. 

When I was in high school, I got the nerve up to sign up for a lip sync talent show my school held each year called "Puttin' on the Hits." My first couple of years in high school I was a bit of a shy kid, but by my senior year I had started to put myself out there. Originally, a few of my friends and I had planned to lip synch together, however a week before the competion my friends opted out. I still wanted to do it even though I was nervous wreck. I went ahead as a solo performer and lip synched "Black Cat" by Janet Jackson. I gave it my all. I danced. I jumped off the stage. I even did a power slide as I came running back on to the stage, leaving a huge run in the black tights I was wearing. When it was all said and done, I managed to take home 3rd place in the solo category. Just to refresh everyone's memory regarding the good old days of lip synching, here's a clip from the TV show that our high school talent show was based off of.

I used to fence when I attended college. It was a club sport at the school I went to, not varsity level or anything but I was good enough to earn a few medals and trophies. You can catch a glimpse of those awards on my post Looking Back While Looking Forward.

Over the years, I've worked different retail sales jobs and on occasion I was given awards for providing excellent customer service. They were usually the sort of thing that was given out after a store was visited by a secret shopper.

The last position I held before becoming a stay-at-home mom was that of a unit manager at a call center. It was a center that handled collections.  The job was stressful at times, especially for my reps who had to call folks about their outstanding balances on their accounts. I was good at motivating them to keep their cool while on the telephone and as a result, we made or exceeded team goals often. I was awarded unit manager of the month on a couple of occasions because of this.

I was especially proud of being included in Family Tree Magazine's Top 40 Genealogy Blogs of 2013.  I was so shocked and honored to be included in the company of so many talented bloggers.

That's all I can think of now. Next stop, Prompt 48.


Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Wordless Wednesday: First Day Of School Sept 2014

The kids have been back in school for a couple of weeks now. I just found time today to post these. Here's to another great school year!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Something About Me Saturday: I Can Get Goofy Sometimes

I love slapstick comedy. The more ridiculous something can be, I think the better and usually the result will be that I will laugh my head off. I love props and silliness and bought a bunch of these glasses with big noses for my husband's birthday last week. So here's a few pictures of me having a good time with them.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

52 Ancestors: #22-- Bristow Harris Or Was It Bristoe, Brister or Bristol?

You could say I have fallen behind a bit on the 52 Ancestors Challenge. Well, life happens sometimes so I've decided to do the best I can with posting. If you aren't familiar with the challenge put forth by Amy Johnson Crow of the blog No Story Too Small, click here.

No matter how you say it, Bristow, Bristoe, Brister, or Bristol Harris, he still was my 3rd great grandfather. I believe he was a man with ambition which is a trait he passed on to a number of his descendants, a couple of which I will be mentioning in upcoming posts. In any event, I wonder if the barrels he spoke of in this deposition dated September 30, 1872 for a William Merrick, looked something like the ones pictured above.

I with others, was employed by Wm Merrick to make the tar. I cannot now say how much tar there was, I am of the opinion there was over a hundred barrels. The provost martial paid me for my work in making the tar, what he did with it I know not and further this deponent saith not. 

This deposition was from a Southern Claims Commission Claim for a William Merrick. Apparently, he employed my 3rd great grandfather during the Civil War when New Bern was Union occupied. The Union Army took for use in the war some of the provisions made by Mr. Merrick. Bristow Harris's employer sought reimbursement from the government for these items. You can read more about this deposition on my post Amanuensis Monday: Deposition Of Bristow Harris Found In A Southern Claims Commission Claim.

I am a descendant of Brister Harris's second family who resided in New Bern, NC. Here's what I know about Bristow's life so far.

On my post, My Harris Family Line --Part one, I featured the 1870 and 1880 Federal Censuses that show Bristow's second family who lived in New Bern, NC. That family group featured Bristow, my 3rd great grandmother, Amy Brown Harris, and two children, Sarah and Lemuel T Harris. I am descended from Sarah who went on to marry a Samuel Whitney. On a Freedman's Bank Records entry dated December 28, 1872 for Bristow Harris, his age was listed as 47 which would make his approximate year of birth 1825. I say approximate because on the deposition he made in September of the same year, his age was listed as 53.  Oh well, at least I have a ball park time-frame for the year of his birth being between 1820--1825. How lucky was I to find the names of his parents, brothers, sisters, and children listed on this record?!

It's important to note, that Bristow listed his place of residence in 1872 as Wilmington, NC. My current thinking is that perhaps Bristow Harris's occupation as a boatman had him traveling back and forth between Wilmington and New Bern. The Battle of New Bern took place on March 14, 1862. From that point on, the Union Army occupied the city until the end of the Civil War. It would have been in Bristow's best interest to stay in a place where there was the opportunity for work and protection from the Confederacy.

These are the children who who I believe were born to Bristow Harris and Rose "Rosa" Anderson in Wilmington.

Bristow Harris (born abt. 1856)
Thomas Harris (born abt. 1865)
Lucinda Harris (born Feb. 1866)
Hester A Harris Pierce (born May 1870)
William Harris (born abt. 1874)
Eliz Harris (born ?)

These are the children born to Bristow Harris and Amy Brown in New Bern.

Sarah Jane Harris Whitney (born Oct. 11, 1859)
Lemuel T Harris (born abt 1868)

By looking at the approximate dates of birth of my 3rd great grandfather's children, you can get the sense of which city was really his primary residence. I don't even know if he was ever officially married to either Amy Brown or Rose(a) Anderson. The start of the Civil War led to Bristow being separated from his Wilmington family. With probably limited or no contact with his loved ones there, this separation must have been terribly hard on him. I can understand how and why he started a relationship with my 3rd great grandmother, Amy Brown. Thankfully he did, otherwise I wouldn't be here right now. :)

It had been awhile since I reviewed what I knew about Bristow Harris. I am happy to say there there seems to be a ton more city directories now available online than a couple of years ago. I was able to find him listed in a few.

Wilmington 1875:

Source Information: U.S. City Directories, 1821-1989 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2011. Sheriff and Co´s Wilmington, N C Directory and General Advertiser, 1875-6

When Bristow lived in New Bern, his occupation was listed as "boatman" and "laborer" on the 1870 and 1880 census respectively. It is interesting to note that when he resided in Wilmington his occupation was noted as "cooper." 

Wikipedia's definition of a cooper: 

Traditionally, a cooper is someone who makes wooden, staved vessels, bound together with hoops and possessing flat ends or heads. Examples of a cooper's work include but are not limited to casks, barrels, buckets, tubs, butter churns, hogsheads, firkins, tierces, rundlets, puncheons, pipes, tuns, butts, pins and breakers. 

You could say my 3rd great grandfather knew something about making barrels then. Anyway, I was able to find him in the following city directories as well:

Wilmington 1877-78

Sheriff's Wilmington, N.C. directory and general advertiser for 1877-8 : containing a general and complete business directory of the city : as well as a complete post office directory of Virginia, West Virginia, and North Carolina (c1877)
Image courtesy of Internet Archive.

Wilmington 1879-80,

Sheriff's Wilmington, N.C. Directory and General Advertiser [1879-80] (1879)
Image courtesy of Internet Archive

Wilmington 1889,

Directory of the city of Wilmington, North Carolina (1889). Published by 
Julius A. Bonitz. Image courtesy of Internet Archive.

Wilmington 1897,

J.L. Hill Printing Co.'s directory of Wilmington, N.C. [serial] (1897)
Image courtesy of Internet Archive.

Wilmington 1900,

J.L. Hill Printing Co.'s Directory of Wilmington, N.C. [1900] (1899)
Image courtesy of Internet Archive.

So with this information I plotted out on a map the approximate neighborhood in which Bristow Harris lived in. 

Image courtesy of Google Maps

Eagle Island is marked with the yellow arrow. Bristow resided somewhere on the island in 1875. All the other directory listings point to an area I have marked in red. I have included the link to the North Carolina Maps online collection, where you can see a view of a map of Wilmington, N.C. from May 1889. Just click here.

I believe the corresponding area on the 1889 map to be square 59.

According to his 1872 deposition, Bristow resided on West St in the city of New Bern. Here's a view of that neighborhood.

Image courtesy of Google Maps

The yellow arrow points to West St. The red notation is the approximate location of where Bristow's daughter, Sarah Harris Whitney eventually purchased land with her husband, Samuel Whitney and mother, Amy Brown Harris in 1883.

The 1900 city directory listing is the last record I've been able to find for Bristow Harris. Not too long ago, I found a newspaper article about one of his sons dated 1903 that mentioned his father had passed away in the city of Wilmington just a few years before the article was printed. This narrows down when he died to somewhere between 1900--1903. 

I am proud of Bristow for many reasons. He survived slavery. Yes, he was once a slave. I will go over what I know about that in a future post. I know that he could read and write. He learned a trade and was a cooper as well as a boatman. He eked out a living and provided support for his loved ones. He was my 3rd great grandfather.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

The Book Of Me: Prompt 46 --Childhood Reading

 Image courtesy of stockimages at

If you are not familiar with this wonderful project that was created by Julie Goucher of the Angler's Rest blog, please refer to this link:
This week's prompt is - Childhood reading

Did you read as a child?
Did you experience the wonder of bedtime stories?
Favorite books
Did your childhood reading influence you?
Special moments and memories

Did I read as a child?

Yes! Thanks to my mother. She established early on a routine of taking my brother and I to the local library so we could borrow books of our own choosing. Choosing my own books, was the first step I ever took in establishing my own identity.  Before I could even read that well I would lose myself in the imagery on the pages of the books. I'd imagine story lines. I would let my mind wonder. I fell in love with books. They were a home away from home.

Did you experience the wonder of bedtime stories?

I don't remember it, but I'm told by my mother that my brother used to read to me sometimes. Both of my parents worked when I was growing up, so by the time they were done getting in for the day they were pretty pooped. I am ever more thankful and amazed at how my mother worked all day and then took care of the household when she got home. She made sure my brother and I completed our homework. She cooked, cleaned dishes, and usually took care of a couple of loads of laundry as well. She didn't have any energy left for bedtime stories by the time everything was taken care of. I don't feel I missed out because I quickly learned to read for myself. 

 A Few of My Favorite books

Charlotte's Web
The Mouse and the Motorcycle
Runaway Ralph
The Little House on the Prairie series by Laura Ingalls Wilder.
(read these in particular many times)
Freaky Friday

Did your childhood reading influence you?

Childhood reading definitely had an influence on me.  Once a reader, I think always a reader. I really enjoyed reading the Little House on the Prairie series. I liked imagining what things looked like from that era in my head. I still love doing that now. It's just that now I am picturing what the towns and places where my ancestors once lived looked like. 

I still have a lot of catching up to do, so I am going to end this post here. On to prompt 47!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Being Present With The Living

So you may have noticed that I've been posting a bit less this Summer. Life became really busy and it was apparent that I needed to focus on spending quality time with the living, specifically my family. And boy did we have a blast! We traveled some, played at local parks, and on quieter days just enjoyed the simple goodness of a cookout in the back yard. I marveled at how my husband and kids could stand the freezing temperature of the water that came out of the garden hose as they sprayed each other on hot days.  At first, I felt a little unsettled with the fact that I wasn't posting as often and that I continued to fall behind on blog prompts. Initially, I had big plans to keep up with the The Book of Me and 52 Ancestors projects. Nope. Didn't happen. I will continue on with these as much as I can. They are wonderful projects and if you haven't looked into them, click on the highlighted links so you can learn what they are about. 

What I do know is Summer comes and goes too quickly and my little ones aren't so little anymore. I am trying to be conscious of savoring the time I spend with them. My time as care giver slips ever more quickly away and I see these young bodies trying to shed their childhood selves. I can't say to them, wait! Stop growing! Slow down! No, it wouldn't do any good. I can be there and that is what I have done. I've been present. 

Tomorrow my son and daughter go back to school. I will have time again for writing and for research. My ancestors know and wait patiently for their stories to be told. They know. They know.