Thursday, March 31, 2011

Happy Birthday to Jack

John B. Hendricks, Sr. March 31, 1934 - July 29, 1993)

I will not make this a downer post. I swear.

The gentleman in this picture is my grandfather (Flora's great-grandson). That picture was taken of us when I was maybe 3. I have other pictures of us when I'm older (not that much older, he passed away when I was almost 7), but they have people in them that probably don't want to be on here so I chose this picture instead.

He died when I was two months away from being 7, but I remember him pretty well because he made such a big impact. I thought he hung the moon when I was a kid, still do. He was in the Army, he was an air traffic controller, then he opened a used bookstore. I practically grew up in that store, a once hole in the wall place that went from having two employees (the owners) to 9 employees today. Because he opened that store, I have a love of reading and writing, plus I have made so many friends throughout the years there.

My favorite memory of him in there is when I went in when i was maybe 6 years old and tried to buy a bunch of books with my birthday money. I couldn't understand why he was giving them to me for free. I wanted to pay! I remember him taking the money and putting it back in my little purse. Eventually I believe he ended up taking a dollar from me, probably just to shut me up.

Then there were the sacrifices he made. I'm not going to go into them, because they are deeply personal, but he did alot for his family. I didn't know it as a kid, but I sure as hell know it as an adult. The more I know about him, the more I realize he was a brave, sweet, compassionate man that I was very lucky to have in my life for 7 years.

I also think he'd get a kick out of the fact I'm a writer marrying into a family of air traffic controllers. :)

Monday, March 28, 2011

Switching Gears

I'm adding another thread to my research in addition to Flora. I'm going to continue to research her, but since it's getting frustrating I'm also going to start working on another side of my family - my mother's.

At some point last summer I did a TON of research, but I still end up knowing very, very little about them. Here's what I know:
  • Her father (my grandfather - and I use that term very, very loosely) was born with his name spelled Rodgers and died with it as Rogers. Same with his brothers, but not his sisters.
  • One of his sisters was born Juanita and died Dorothy. No idea why.
  • That same sister (the only one that lived past childhood) was married to a football player for the Chicago Cubs back in the 1930s.
  • Supposedly, we're Indian. That's what I've always been told, but I don't know if it's true or not.
Right now I'm adding what I know into my database, then I start looking.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Puzzle Pieces

In order to find out more about Flora, I'm researching her children. It's not as simple as one would think - these people loved living off the grid, apparently. Flora's middle child, her only daughter, Zelpha Mangrum Copelin is who is making me absolutely crazy.

She married a man named Johnston Copelin. I know I've written that in a few other posts. I don't know the date, because I can't find a marriage certificate of any kind. I only got his name from Flora's obituary (which I'll be posting shortly) when she was listed as "Mrs. Johnston Copelin." That's a very uncommon name, so I headed over to FamilySearch and found his death certificate.
He died at the Graystone Hotel in Lorain, Ohio in 1940. I can barely read the cause of death except for the words "unknown" and "probably", so I'm guessing he was found dead in his room.

Everything on there fit - except one name. Of course, it was Zelpha's.

His parents are listed as Ida Johnston and Eudolphus W. Copelin, born in New York and Indiana, respectively. His birthdate matches a census record I found. It all fit so well. But then there's the wife's name - Louise. I know that has to be Zelpha. Could she have gone by a middle name? Changed it? It couldn't have been a legal change, because she's listed in the SSDI as Zelpha Copelin.

I'm going to have to break down and order Zelpha's death certificate, aren't I? Any ideas?

Monday, March 21, 2011

Related To Someone I Know?

I've been talking about things I found on Mocavo and on my New Madrid trip. One of the things I found in both places was the last name of Flora's daughter, Zelpha. She was born Zelpha Mangrum, but she married a guy named Johnston Copelin.

According to a death certificate of one of her brothers, Zelpha (the informant) lived in LaPorte, Indiana. I didn't think anything of it. Then I did some research on her husband, finding out that his family was based in Indiana and Illinois. And then it hit me why I kept coming back to the name that sounded so familiar - Copelin is the name (spelled a bit differently) of the doctor who literally saved my life multiple times since 1996. (I'm not being dramatic, by the way - the man saved me as a kid, as teenager and as an adult. I owe him everything to the point he's coming to my "family only" wedding in August.)

Guess where he's from? That same area of Indiana. I know that the good doc and I don't have a blood relationship here, but I think it's so incredible that we do have a link - besides all the rearrangement he's done of my organs over the past 15 years. This is why I do what I do. I am still amazed in the connection. I don't know exactly how he is related to the Copelin gang I'm working on, but I'm making progress. I'm determined to find the link between him and I, even though it's probably ten degrees of separation. I don't care, I still find it amazing.

Friday, March 18, 2011

The Mystery of Ive

I spent all day Wednesday down in New Madrid, Mo. Home of the majority of my extended family, county records and, I've learned, a whole lot of family secrets and drama that are slowly unfolding before me.

The first story I bring you is The Mystery of Ive.
Family legend says that Ive, my 2nd-great grandfather, was in some sort of "accident in town" which ultimately caused his death (some say death was instantaneousness, others say he held on for awhile.) I searched and searched, but I could find nothing to back up this story. Not a newspaper clipping or a death certificate - in fact, I still can't find out where and when he died.

The only thing that I saw about Ive the entire day I was researching was newspaper clipping from 1914 that said Ive Hendricks was taken to a hospital in Illinois for "an operation." It was very vague and cryptic, so that's all I know. I figured that the "accident in town" happened sometime after that, so I looked and looked for anything else about him and came up completely empty.

However, when I was sorting through all of Flora's stepchildren - the multiple marriages, all to men much older than she was, brought her many stepchildren over the years- I found the death certificate for a guy named Carl Lee Ive Mangrum. He died in 1919, in St. Louis (160 miles from New Madrid), from an accident in town. He cracked the base of his skull and fractured his neck.

My best guess is that it wasn't Flora's husband Ive that died in an "accident in town", it was her stepson, Carl Lee Ive Mangrum. (Maybe he went by Ive?)I consider this a definite clue and a hint that the elder Ive (Flora's husband) wasn't the one in the "accident in town", but rather he died from surgery complications or just poor health. I have no record or proof though.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


There's a brand new genealogy search engine up - Mocavo. For those who don't know what it is yet, it's a search engine that targets "genealogy websites", like Find-a-Grave and genealogy message boards and the like.

I've seen mixed reactions about it. Some people LOVE it, some people HATE it. I haven't really seen anyone on the fence yet.

My thoughts:

I like it because it helped me find an ancestor I've been searching for for the past couple of months - Flora's daughter, Zelpha. I typed in "Zelpha" and "Mangrum", hoping to hit a marriage record - instead I hit her half brother's Find-a-Grave page (a Mangrum - someone I never knew existed) where she was listed as the next of kin - and it had her married name (Copelin) plus current residence location - Indiana. From there I was able to research with her new name and find her death record. After that, I was able to find several other of Zelpha's half siblings, which let me find her father's first wife who was somehow related to her husband's 3rd-4th (depending on the source) husband. It brought out a whole new path for me.

Yes, it's quite possible the path will lead to finding some inbreeding 4 generations back, but I'm open to it.

I know that not all searches show up on the site yet. That's the biggest complaint I've heard. It isn't "expansive enough" yet. The site is approximately a day and a half old. It's still in its infancy and they are still adding websites, blogs, and other sites that we use all the time to help in our research. It's going to take time before it is all inclusive. You can help it by suggesting a website to add to the search engine.

I have added it to my list of websites to check when I get a new name to research. Who knows, I could be pleasantly surprised again!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Oh My...

So Thanks to Mocavo, I found Flora's daughter's married name - she was Mrs. Zelpha Copelin. She was the informant on a couple of her siblings' deaths and I have her last known address and I found out where she died.

I then found out that before Joseph F. Mangrum was married to Flora (he was husband #2 or #3, depending on the source), he was married to a woman named Elizabeth (Betty) Hendricks from a little town in KY. The same area that Flora's #3/#4 husband Ive/Joe Hendricks was born in. Most likely scenario is that they're all related.

I'm not sure what to think, except that I'm on the path to SOMETHING...

Sunday, March 13, 2011

My Guilty Pleasure

I have an iPhone. I love it because it works internationally, has wifi, internet / email /Facebook / Twitter capability, etc. When people call me I can see their pictures (synced with Facebook thanks to the amazingly simple FriendSync app), I have wonderful customized ringtones (people from work have one ringtone, my mom's side of the family has one, my dad's side of the family has one, my fiance's relatives all have their own specialized tone - it's my backup caller ID), it's absolutely perfect. And I have a wonderful protective cover on it because I tend to kill electronic devices.

Now that I sound like a walking commercial for iPhone, let me tell you my new guilty pleasure on it - podcasts. Specifically genealogy ones. I never realized how many free podcasts are out there about tracing your family. I love the Genealogy Gems, Family History and the Genealogy Guys. I'm learning, I'm laughing, and I'm hoping someday to make a podcast of my own. Nothing fancy, but I do have a bit of a radio background, so I think I may be able to pull it off.

Got any special podcasts I should listen to?

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Legacy Software

I think I'm in love with Legacy's genealogy software. It's a bit complicated at first, but I've spent a great deal of time over the past few days entering data into the program. Since my trip today was canceled because of a work thing and rescheduled for next Wednesday (I took the day off for it, and if anyone calls me in I will hurt someone, no joke), I spent my evening reviewing the sourcing section of the program.

I love it. I love the citations, the details. I have a journalism background, so I'm a sucker for documentation, sourcing and details. I can enter where I found all this information - death records, my aunt's research notes I received after her death, or newspaper microfilm. It's all perfectly documented now.

Did I mention I'm totally in love?

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

When Records Don't Exist

This may be a genealogical filled rant.

According to my great-aunt M who works at the funeral home, there's no record of where Flora buried. She went through records, both in the books and on the computer. We know she went to that particular funeral home because, not only is it the one listed on the death certificate, it was the only one in the area at the time (still is.) Unless they ended up cheaping out and doing something "at home" (which I seriously doubt), that funeral home had to have taken care of her burial.

I have nothing at all to back up what probably happened - that this particular funeral home DID take care of her. For the most part, all I have is a line on a death certificate, which was informed by a man who, according to family legend, didn't care for Flora - his mother.

My next stop is heading down to the funeral home on Thursday to check records myself, then to city hall and a few cemeteries to look around and ask more questions.

So what would you do? Solving this woman's mystery is party of why genealogy is so exciting for me, the thrill of the hunt and all that, but sometimes it's so remarkably frustrating. I really do truly think that this woman does not want to be found and she wants her secrets to stay secrets. I will figure this out, I know, but it felt good to rant.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Pictures, Pictures and More Pictures

Over the weekend I was finally given a bunch of old family photos that I had been hoping to receive from that one relative I blogged about yesterday (hereby known as The Relative). Because she's alive I won't give details like her name or actual relationship to me, but I will say that she is someone who is extremely close to my in the family tree but someone who I don't talk to often because we don't exactly see eye to eye on many topics. The perks of being an adult is I'm no longer forced to deal with her unless I have to.

Anyway, I was given all these pictures and now I'm trying to figure out two things: who half of these people are and what to do with them once I figure it out. Identifying them will be a challenge in a good way, since I love mysteries.

Two things stand out in my stack of pictures - a picture of me and my favorite great-aunt, who passed away when I was 15 and a picture of my parents and I.

My aunt, who is a mystery unto herself (my family is full of 'em), was one of the sweetest ladies I have ever met. She had her quirks and when she died I cried more than I had expected I ever would. We weren't really close, but she was a great lady.

The photo of my parents and I is a rare one - and even better, we're all smiling. They had a rather unpleasant divorce when I was in the 1st/2nd grade. The one I have now was taken at someone's birthday party when I was maybe 3 years old. I'm getting it framed.

What do you do with old pictures?

Saturday, March 5, 2011

The Brick Wall of a Living Family Member

I have a family member who is more or less... out there. Not saying she's good or bad, but she's just... well, out there. It's a close relative (at least family tree wise), that I don't speak to often for a variety of reasons.

I called her the other night about getting family information. I'm tracing her husband's side of the tree and he's passed away, so I figured he might have left something behind. Pictures. Anything. There are a few things, yes, but she'll have to find them. He's been dead for nearly two decades, I'm sure they're buried in with his stuff in an upstairs closet. She also told me a few stories about relatives, one in particular about Flora that I'm pretty sure is true, but I may never know for sure (Emily's Genealogy Rule #1). These stories were telling about Flora's nature (if they are true), but overall particularly harmless.

Then the brick wall came. I asked more information. Names. Dates. Things I know she had to know, because she was there. Nope, don't remember a thing.

Uh huh.

I'm not saying she's lying, but I think she knows more than she's ever going to tell me. There could be a couple reasons for this, but I think the main one is she doesn't want to do her husband's family "wrong" by slipping up and letting on a dirty little secret, or some skeleton, something probably minor in the whole picture but was a big scandal 100 years ago.

I keep forgetting that we are living in a totally different world than 100-200 years ago. Babies out of marriage is perfectly acceptable now. "Shacking up" is perfectly acceptable now. Weddings are huge now, not five person affairs on Tuesday evenings (that I wish we could go back to, because my wedding has turned into some sort of Princess Di event and not the wedding it started out to be, but that's a different post and not related to genealogy at all.)

I've hit a brick wall with her, but I'm not out of luck yet. There are a couple others out there that may be able to give me answers. And if not, there's always the library... Right?

Friday, March 4, 2011

Lionel Richie - Who Do You Think You Are?

All I knew about Lionel Richie before tonight was he was in the Commodores and he helped raise Nicole Richie, his adoptive daughter. Then I turned on Who Do You Think You Are and my perspective was changed.

From what the records found, his great grandfather was the product of a slave-master relationship. The gentleman lived to be 90 and was buried in an unmarked grave in the cemetery he tended toward the end of his life.

Before he was a caretaker, he was the head of the Knights of Wise Men, a black fraternal organization. Then the business failed and his wife (who was 35 years younger than he was) left him. He died poor, but proud.

The best part of this episode were the amazing documents. Original wills, pictures, all the great stuff you have to wear gloves to touch. Lionel got to see pictures of his great-grandfather (who looked very white to me), pictures of his probable 2nd greatgrandfather, and the will of his 3rd great grandfather, a document which freed his 2nd-greatgrandmother and his great-grandfather. (It's not as confusing as it sounds.)

I love this show because not only does it bring genealogy to the public, it shows family stories that in a weird way I can relate to. I can relate to the discovery of a photo, or the discovery of a document to complete a piece of the puzzle. That's why I watch it and the Generations Project (which I will be blogging about over the weekend).

Did you watch Lionel? What did you think?

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Happy Birthday, Dad!

Happy birthday to the man that got me started in genealogy when I was a kid....

Your Eldest (but not tallest) Daughter

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

My March Goals

It's March 1st, so it's time to think about goals for the coming month.

  • Start scanning all the family documents I have into the computer. There aren't alot, but there are enough it will take time.
  • Clean up my notes (and my desk!). There are papers everywhere and I need to get them organized.
Specific Research Goals:
  • Find Flora's obituary. I have an aunt trying to help with this, but considering my Flora history, I'm not holding my breath.
  • Figure out her maiden name. No one knows it, so it's going to take a roadtrip and an archive search. I found her first husband's name, so now I just have to confirm it.
  • Once I get her maiden name, start researching her family line.
Random Stuff:
  • Do some FamilySearch Index work.
  • Order the NGS CD 1.
  • Merge my genealogy Twitter with my work Twitter. (Doing tonight.)
What are your March goals?