Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Talented Tuesday: Mom, Budding Author At Age 10

I think I mentioned last week that I've recently subscribed to NewspaperArchive, an online repository of newspapers from around the US and across the globe that claims to span the years from 1607 to the present. Old newspapers are a great place to find all sorts of information about our ancestors and how they may have lived, especially if they came from small towns where the newspapers covered even the smallest events. While online subscription services may make it easier to find articles in certain publications, you don't necessarily need to pay good money. I've discovered old stories in my own hometown paper just by going to its website and searching the archives. 

I've found a crazy amount of newspaper articles about my family members in the last week while messing around in NewspaperArchive, particularly articles that covered my Grandpa John and Uncle Dutch's rodeo competitions in California. In Kansas, there are decades worth of mentions in the society pages of the Emporia Gazette about the comings and goings of my Bartram relatives (and we thought there was no privacy on the internet...).

One big surprise, though, came to me in the Sunday, June 2, 1957, edition of the Oakland Tribune in Oakland, California. There, at the top of the page, was a prize-winning story by little 10-year-old (actually 11, by the time that edition ran) Becky Bartram, about her beloved dog, Mitzi.

It didn't take long for me to realize that this talented writer was my MOM! I posted the story on her Facebook page the other night, and she was so surprised to see it. She didn't even remember writing this story. I've always known that Mitzi was an important part of my mom's childhood, because she still talks about her to this day. I've also always known that Mom was a good writer, and I hope that rubbed off a little bit on me!

It's a bit difficult to read the story in the above image, so here's the text:
A Story of Mitzi, Beloved Pet
Becky Bartram, 10 Years
Prize Winner 
I got Mitzi four years ago when I was six years old. She is an Australian shepherd. She was just a puppy then. She has been with our family ever since. She is a well-behaved dog. She is clean and she likes everyone. She comes in the house at night and in the daytime. She has had two litters of pups. 
One dog out of the first litter looks just like her. She likes to play with me. One of her favorite games is tug-of-war. We use a rope to play. She puts the rope in her mouth and I put it in my hand. We try to see who ends up with the rope. She always does. Mitzi likes to ride in the car with my family. Mitzi is a very pretty dog. 
Everyone likes her, especially me. Our family treats her like one of us, and she is. Mitzi is black with a tannish-brown face. She is one foot, eight inches tall. 
Mitzi never comes into the house with dirty feet. She lies on the rug and licks her feet. We give her a bath about three times a year. 
She is a smart dog. In the morning when she wants to get in and Daddy is at work, she barks at the bedroom window and I let her in. She likes to lie on the lawn with me in the summertime. She is a very good cow dog. I will always lover her as long as I live. 
I'm sure I have a photo of my mom and Mitzi somewhere, but I can't seem to find it now. Until I locate that, here's another very sweet picture of her at play!

Little Becky Bartram on her tricycle!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Treasure Chest Thursday: Grandpa John's 1939 Treasure Island World's Fair Rodeo Program

I've been looking for this for AGES!!! It's a program and day schedule for the 1939 Golden Gate International Exposition (aka World's Fair) World's Championship Rodeo at Treasure Island, San Francisco. But that's not all: the day schedule for Saturday night, May 13, 1939, lists my Grandpa John Bartram along with several of his friends!

I always knew that Grandpa and his brother, Dutch, rode in the World's Fair rodeo that year. He told us lots of stories about his rodeo adventures, and we have this photo of him riding in one of the World's Fair parades. But definitive and documented proof that he actually competed in any of the events had always eluded me.

Well, eBay to the rescue! Every now and then, I head over to eBay and search for books or other ephemera that might be related to my ancestors (you'd be surprised how many of my kin made it into various historical books). A couple of months ago, I got it into my head to search for "Treasure Island 1939 rodeo" and up popped both the rodeo program and the schedule for one of the days that Grandpa John and his friends competed. Of course, I snapped them up immediately!

In addition to listing Grandpa competing in the Brahma Bull riding competition, the day program also lists Uncle Dutch as one of the competitors for the whole event. There were several other exciting rodeo attractions on night of May 13, including the famous rodeo trick rider, actor and stuntman, Montie Montana, as well as rodeo clown and bullfighter, Homer Holcomb, and his Brahma Bull Chariot.

To add to my delight, my eBay seller lives in San Francisco, and has offered to keep an eye out for any other Treasure Island rodeo ephemera for me. I *wish* the program still cost only 25 cents, but I feel like I got a bargain just by finding this actual treasure!

Grandpa John, riding bronc in another rodeo
I was so excited to finally put this documentation with Grandpa's World's Fair parade photo. I was even more happy to show it to my mom and the rest of Grandpa's family.

Since coming across this amazing find, I've been digging even deeper for more information on Grandpa John's rodeo experience at Treasure Island. I subscribe to a couple of different online newspaper archives, including NewspaperArchive, and have now found further evidence of Grandpa competing in the rodeo, and being INJURED. Here's an article from the May 20, 1939, Oakland Tribune that mentions Grandpa John being gored behind the ear by the very bull he was riding, and being saved from further injury (or worse!) by the aforementioned rodeo clown, Homer Holcomb. Wow!

So, what's the lesson here? I think it's to not just rely on Ancestry.com and Google searches and other more obvious places to find documentation about our ancestors' lives. Start searching in more unlikely places like eBay, or even your local antique store. You never know what you're going to find!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Sentimental Sunday: My First Dog, Gow

Circa 1966
I was looking through some old photos last night and found some of my very first dog, Gow. Mom and Dad got Gow, a Border Collie, when I was a baby, and he was quite a dog. He had such a sweet personality, and was good with us kids. I loved that puppy so much that I named a succession of stuffed dogs after my own Gow. I still have one of my ratty, old stuffed Gow dogs from when I was a toddler, and it sits at the foot of my bed as a reminder of my old furry friend.

Like most Border Collies, Gow was smart as a whip, and talented, too. One of his favorite tricks was to ride our tricycle. It wasn't a trick we taught him, either. He just figured it out on his own. He'd put his front paws on the back of the trike, push with this back legs and steer with his nose. Eventually, as I recall, that tricycle pretty much became his own toy.

Our talented Gow

Sadly, Gowie didn't stay with us for long. We lived out in the country, and one night, when I was five or six years old, he was hit by a car on the road outside our house. That was such a sad time for us all, but Gow marked the beginning of our family's love of Border Collies.

My mom now has the sweetest Border Collie you'll ever know, Blaise, and we've been lucky to have her in our lives for 13 years.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

(Not So) Wordless Wednesday: Joe Bartram Family in Kansas

Here's a photo of my great grandparents, Joseph and Alice (Veale) Bartram and a small part of their very large family (including my maternal Grandpa John Bartram):

This was sent to me by my cousin, Reva. Her great grandfather, Arthur Bartram, is the young man on the right, standing behind the seated older gentleman. Arthur was the nephew of my great grandfather, Joseph Bartram, who came from Herefordshire, England (just on the border with Monmouthshire, Wales), in 1883. Arthur was sent to live with Joseph in 1886, at around the same time his mother, Louisa, was re-marrying (we understand that Arthur's dad may have been a horse jockey who died before he was born).

While I can't verify the identities of everyone in this photo, here's what I think: The handsome, mustachioed man standing in the rear is certainly Joseph Bartram, and I believe that the woman in the dark skirt standing to his right is my great grandmother, Alice A. Veale Bartram. I *think* that the older woman sitting on the left is Alice's mother, Margaret Harriman. I have a photo of her as an older woman, and she has the same dour expression on her face. Who the others are, I have no idea. If any of my Kansas or Indiana cousins see this, maybe they'll be able to help ID some of our kin!

Here's how I'm descended from Joseph Bartram and Alice A. Veale:

1. Joseph Bartram (Great Grandfather)
born 23 Jun 1860 in Dixton, Monmouthshire, Wales
immigrated to Kansas, USA, in 1881 
married Alice A. Veale (1872-1954) on 31 Jul 1891 in Topeka, Shawnee,  Kansas
died 4 Feb 1930 in Clear Lake, Lake, California 

Alice A. Veale (Great Grandmother)
born 26 Nov 1872 in Washington County, Indiana
died 27 Sep 1954 in Clear Lake, Lake County, California

Confirmed children with Alice A. Veale 
1. Roy Bartram (1891-1896)
2. Reva Bartram (1893-1952)
3. Ruth E. Bartram (1895-1988)
4. Robert Adam Bartram (1897-1983)
5. Ralph Bartram (1899-1998)
6. Helen Bartram (1900-1994)
7. Joseph L. Bartram (1902-1998)
8. George Bartram (1904-1972)
9. Florence Irene Bartram (1905-1999) 
10. Raymond "Dutch" Bartram (1907-1954)
11. Eunice Fay Bartram (1909-2009)

12. John Bartram (1911-1987)
13. Grace Bartram (1913-1975)
14. Mildred Lucille Bartram (1915-1990)
15. Lorna C. Bartram (1916-2003)

2. John Bartram (Grandfather)
born 4 Apr 1911 in Allen, Wabaunsee, Kansas
married Donna M. Madsen (1919-1966) on 26 Mar 1938 in Reno, Washoe, Nevada
died 15 Aug 1987 in Tracy, San Joaquin, California 

Confirmed children with Donna M. Madsen
1. Clinton James Bartram (1938-2001)
2. Brenda Rae Bartram (living)

3. Rebecca Elizabeth Bartram (living)
4. Clay John Bartram (living)

3. Rebecca Elizabeth Bartram (Mom)
married William Lee Brittain (1942-2003) on 12 Sep 1964 in Reno, Washoe, Nevada 

Confirmed children with William Lee Brittain
1. Wendy Lee Brittain (me)
2. Cynthia Lynn Brittain (living)

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Tuesday's Tip: Set Out Some Cousin Bait

With Steven and Carl in Wales
Last summer, I wrote about my fantastic trip to Cardiff to meet my cousins, Steven and Carl, and explore my roots around the border of Wales and Herefordshire, England. I still think of that amazing adventure often, and how it came to be.

It all started with private Facebook message a couple of years earlier from a man saying that he thought we might be related. Apparently, he found my information on a message board where I had posted looking for information on my Bartram family in England and Wales. I immediately replied to Steven that we certainly are related: we are both descended from my great great grandparents, John Bartram and Esther Meredith. Turns out message boards are a great place to lay some cousin bait...

During the last few years, I've received several such messages from people who have stumbled across my public tree on Ancestry.com, unearthed old message board posts with pleas from me to anyone who might have needed information, or found this blog via a random, or well-thought-out, Google search. Some of the people who have contacted me have turned out to not be related at all, but I'm amazed at the number of actual cousins -- LIVE cousins -- with whom I've connected and shared both information and adventures. And, all because they had the hunch, the whim, the guts, to send me a note saying, "I think we might be related...".

In addition to Steven and Carl in Wales, here are some of the cousins I've nabbed with my virtual bait (or, have they nabbed me?):

Sarah Meredith

  • Michelle, who shares with me our great great grandparents, William Calhoun Hunt and George Frances Ann Purser, and who actually got know to my very own beloved Grandma Edith (Hunt) Brittain when she'd travel to Oklahoma to visit her cousin (and Michelle's grandpa), Fritz. Michelle was my first cousin to take the Ancestry bait about four years ago, and I'm now Facebook friends with her, her sisters, and a few other welcoming Oklahoma cousins. 
  • Alan, who found me last year right here on this blog, and who shares with me TWO sets of third great grandparents: Samuel and Harriett (Boast) Bartram from Kelsale, Suffolk, England, and Samuel and Sarah Meredith from Monmouthshire, Wales. That means that we're double fourth cousins. The Bartram sons (John and William) moved from Suffolk to Wales in the 1840s and married Meredith sisters (Esther and Mary). Alan now lives in Canada, and I've had the great pleasure of video Skyping with him as well as several other of my Canadian cousins. He's shared some fantastic information with me about our ancestors, including a photo of our great great great grandmother, Sarah Meredith.
  • Leah and her brother, George, with
    my cousins, Debbie and Wanda
    Leah, who also found my blog and is a distant cousin via my Harriman and Veale line. The two of us had to work to figure out just how we were related because the Harrimans and Veales also stuck close to each other (lots of brothers marrying sisters from the other family), and they had the annoying habit of recycling first names: Clara, George, Elmer, George Elmer -- you get the idea. As it turned out, Leah also knew a couple of my mom's first cousins in Kansas and was looking to reconnect with them. I was happy to oblige, and when they got together later that year, they sent photos of their fun day as well as of my great great grandparents' graves and even a wonderful photo of my great great grandmother Margaret Harriman Veale!

  • Bob, who found my tree on Ancestry.com and shares with Alan and me Samuel and Harriet Boast as our third great grandparents. It turns out Bob lives in Reno, NV, which isn't all that far from Oakland, CA. I went up to Reno one weekend this past October to work on President Obama's re-election campaign, and Bob graciously invited my friends and me to meet him at his home. We had so much fun with him and his roommates that evening. It's amazing how quickly we connected with each other over our shared family ties. We're still sharing information and pictures with each other (I see three new emails from him in my inbox right now), and I can't wait for our next visit!
    With my cousin, Bob, in Reno!
  • Reva, who's great grandfather, Arthur Bartram, was the nephew of my great grandfather, Joseph Bartram. Arthur was the oldest son of Joseph's oldest sister, Louisa, who was also the great grandmother of my Welsh cousin, Carl, and the great great grandmother of Carl's son, Steven (from my Cardiff trip, above). It really is a small world! Reva emailed me the first photos of my great Grandpa Joseph that I had ever seen, and I'll always treasure those. We're also both trying to solve the mystery of the story about how Joseph's (and Louisa's) father, John Bartram, may have died at sea
  • Jennifer, my fifth cousin on my Brittain line, is a cousin that I actually reached out to in my quest to document my Revolutionary War patriot, Nathaniel Brittain, for my DAR application. She's the cousin who originally inspired me to write this blog. Jennifer writes two excellent blogs that you should visit right now: Climbing My Family Tree (excellent cousin bait!) and Sergeant Major Mom
  • Susan is a first cousin who was looking for information about her mom's biological father, and found him right here on this blog. I don't want to spoil the surprises in this very personal story, so look for it in another blog post (probably later this week).
And, there's more where that came from! All because I laid out a bit of "bait" -- in the form of information and queries -- on the internet. 

So, why would you want to set out your own cousin bait? Because getting to know live cousins not only helps us to flesh out the details and solve the mysteries of our ancestors, but it lets us really feel like we are part of a larger world family. It inspires us to think about our immediate family as well as our ancestors in new ways. It connects us in ways that we could never imagine, no matter how far apart we might live. 

So, my challenge to all you family historians out there: take a chance and reach out to someone who just might be one of your distant cousins. Comment on a blog post that you found interesting. Post a burning question on a family search message board. Send a message to a potential distant cousin via Ancestry. Start your own blog about your family research. Strike up a conversation! You never know who might be able to help you break through a brick wall in your research. And, more importantly, you might meet some really cool cousins that also end up being life-long friends. =)

Monday, January 14, 2013

New Years Resolution: Get This Blog Started Up Again!

Happy New Year! I know, I've been horribly remiss about keeping my little blog up-to-date over the last year or so. I keep telling myself that I need to get writing again, but something else always seems to come up to distract me (too tired from work, too tired from social life, my cat keeps sitting on my laptop, etc.). It's not that I don't enjoy writing blog posts about genealogy and my own fascinating (well, to me, anyway) family. I've even managed to keep up with my research. I just seemed to lose my writing mojo.

So, I've decided to get myself in gear and bring this baby back to life again.

Here is my belated 2013 New Years Resolution: 

Write at least one Shaking Leaves blog post per week this year.

Knowing me, I'll write even more once I get my mojo back. After all, this resolution is more fun and a heck of a lot easier than, say, losing a gajillion pounds (that's another story, and I'm working on it, too...)!

A LOT has happened in the last year or so, and I'm excited to share it with you. Over the next few months, I'll tell you all about stuff like:

  • Meeting more cousins than I even knew I had
  • Uncovering all sorts of fun documents that shed light on my ancestry
  • Fun with AncestryDNA 
  • Discovering a Pilgrim cousin right in my own backyard
  • Finding my mom's half sister (really!)
I hope you'll all find these stories as interesting as I do, and I always look forward to hearing from you via email or the comments section, whether you're related to me, or not. 

Now, I'm off to write a new post for tomorrow. I'm on a roll!!

Happy 2013!