G is for Genealogy - #atozchallenge 2024


Letter G 

I am not sure exactly when or why I became interested in Genealogy. I think possibly my love for puzzles and stories are two factors that contribute to my interest in this area. I loved to sit in my room when I was a child and play with sliding puzzles, and then later I would sit for hours solving jigsaw puzzles, as well as many other types of puzzles. I have also enjoyed learning about history, especially my own family history. I found it at least interesting to hear the stories about different family members, even when the stories were not very pretty, and unfortunately there have been many of those. This all has continued into adulthood.

I have not been able to work on my trees regularly over the last few years but I still find it exciting that there are so many stories waiting to be discovered. Whenever I have been able to work on any of the branches of the family tree, I have often sat for hours researching, and been extremely excited to even find one small piece of the puzzle. These puzzle pieces fit together to make up a larger picture of the family history. They are also individual stories that connect us, not just as a family group, but also to the rest of the world or whatever makes up our collective human history.    

As part of my own life story it saddens me to say I lost many personal possessions that included audio files of an oral history, as well as notes, pictures, and a few items created by one relative, when I was forced to let go of a storage unit a few years back. This means that I have a lot less pictures of the people, documentation about them, or actual items they created, to include when I talk about what I do know. Regardless of the losses, I still feel that the history of these people are worth mentioning, so I will likely still share some of the stories here. 

These stories may not always be pretty of course, but at the very least they will be accurate, according to what was shared with me, learned by me through research, or experienced by me. I will also say that I am unable to formally document many things beyond what is freely available from the various Genealogical resources on the internet. If and when I can only speculate on certain information I will often say this.

Today I am sharing at least a few stories or parts of the stories of family members (ancestors) from both my paternal and maternal side of the family. The first of these stories are from the maternal side, and about my Great Grandmother Elva Mae B. I have found variations of her name to be Alva, but as I always recall it being spelled Elva, that is what I use. Elva Mae was born in Connecticut in December of 1894. I'm actually not sure what her childhood was like. I am aware that she was a weaver as an adult and having admired some of the items she created, I imagine she may have started weaving at a young age. 

When I was a child, many many years ago, lol, there were several woven items in our house that she had created. Two of these were silhouette type picture wall hangings. As I recall, it had been stated by my mother, that these were created from sketches or paintings by another artist, one of the wall hangings was of my Great Grandfather (Elva Mae's husband) and the other was of the artist that drew or painted the original artwork. She wove these wall hangings using the other artwork as a reference. This was always amazing to me as a child, and of course it was yet another craft I had to learn, so that I could be an awesome skilled weaver just like her.  

There were pieces that were later passed on to me, a handful maybe of table linens, one of those was a patterned piece. I later learned through my own interest in weaving, this patterned piece happened to be Overshot. It was a goal of mine at one point to duplicate this piece on a smaller loom once I had been able to feel more confident in weaving skills. Of course, since I no longer have a loom, I can only imagine what it must have been like to weave on the huge floor loom, that I was told she had in her house. I'm not sure what type of loom it was but I heard it took up a whole room.

Another part of Elva Mae's story that I am aware of, which was also told to me by my mother when I was younger, and confirmed by my Grandmother at one time, was that my Great Grandfather, Elva Mae's husband George, was not the nicest or most devoted husband. George was born in November of 1891 and died in August of 1952. Apparently he was a philandering sort of man, potentially toxic if not worse, to Elva Mae and possibly also to my Grandmother Hildegarde Mary (Mary H, as she preferred). Speculation on my part, all things considered... 

Anyhow, the story goes that he appeared to be having a heart attack and needed some medication from his coat pocket, hanging on a rack across the room. Laying on the floor, calling out for help, with Elva Mae being the only one available I guess, too bad for him.... They found him dead on the floor with her standing there just staring at him, in shock, or so it would seem. It was said that she was not in her right mind and that's why she let it happened. I speculated many years later that she was more than likely just tired of his 💩💩💩??? Maybe.

Possibly she said oops or gosh darn, what, you need your meds, where, I can't understand you, oh over there, sorry that's kind of far, just a sec... Umm... 

It was also said she had someone care for her until she passed, from that point on. It was also stated that she left almost everything to her caregiver. It makes sense to me that she would. I recall when she passed and there was discussion about going over to collect some items from their home in Alabama. 

My grandmother refused to go and my mother and the Step Father went instead. They brought back a small amount of items from what I recall, some of these were a grandfather clock that was always inaccurate in it's chimes by about five hours or so, an old school manually adjusted recliner that I was told the Grandfather made, and a box of silverware with the S family monogram. 

The clock stands out the most because it sort of forced us all to do some mental math. It is a bit humorous to me now, but the chiming during some hours was sort of annoying and math was not really one of my strengths.

Both of these relatives are resting in a cemetery in Alabama and though I know it might not really matter at this point, I wonder if Elva Mae would have really wanted to be buried next to him. I have my doubts. 

On another note, I have been attempting to document my life so far, over the last three to five years, attaching various songs to these entries. Sometimes it's the other way around, I'll be listening to a song and think, this would be great for this or that, in terms of life experiences, interests, or family history in general. It will seldom be an entire song, but there are at least a few. Most of the time it will be just the title, a line, a few lines, a part of the album artwork, and/or the video. 

There is so much music with relatable topics, it's not too difficult to find them, even if I don't already know of one, and too often I do. I enjoy lots of different types of music, and the music seems to help me through the heavier, not so pretty topics in life. Though this could seem random to some in terms of Genealogy, it makes sense to me, to include various songs in my life's story. 

My entry for Elva Mae, in my LyricalLyf Playlist, currently includes the song titled "Goodbye Earl" by The Chicks (formerly the Dixie Chicks). Though it might not fit exactly, the sentiment is there IMO, and the video is one I never get tired of watching. Elva Mae and I seem to have at least a few things in common, so perhaps she would also enjoy this tune and it's video. I have linked the video for this song and the audio for the following song, for anyone that is interested in watching/listening.

Part of another story, from my Maternal side involves my Grandfather. I don't know much about him actually, but one of the few things I was told, was that he had worked in coal mines as a child. Of course I selected "Coal Miner's Daughter" by Loretta Lynn, as a reference to both my mother and her father, and this bit of family history. 

It was also said that he developed black lung as part of his working in coal mines. When I return to researching I will try to investigate that more. I am not sure if it is searchable information but I am curious if it would lead to more details about him and his family, if it is. 

On the paternal side, and specifically through my fathers' mother, we are Jewish. Though I was not raised in, I have an appreciation for this part of my history. Of course I also have a large amount of disgust regarding the mistreatment of these and many other groups of people too. 

My Grandmother Zelda, was the youngest of three children born to Eva H. and Joseph B. Her mother, Eva, was the eldest of four surviving children. Eva, her two sisters, Rose and Doris, as well as one brother Max, and their parents Clara and Samuel, emigrated to this country (U.S.A.) in 1916, from Melitopol, Tabrit, Russia / U.S.S.R., which is actually Ukraine. 

At one time I had files for an oral history, along with pictures and tons of notes, for this part of my family. I only got to listen to the oral history a couple of times, and it's been a while so most of what I am sharing here is based on memory and whatever I had added to my tree so far. 

In the oral history there was mention of moving in and out of the Ukraine / Russia several times due to various conflicts at the time, which makes sense when you consider Jewish history. 

One of those occasions the family was living in China. I am not able to recall if a specific location was mentioned, but they had a restaurant I think. A local friend had warned them of some impending danger to the family, so they had to pick up and leave again, abandoning everything, including the business. 

Apparently my Great Great Grandfather Samuel was some kind of philosopher in his day, which left most if not all of the income earning or business ventures to Clara. In the oral history, it sounds like this was fairly common or accepted and the women took up the income earning responsibilities without complaint. 

I don't know how true is was regarding the lack of complaints, but I wouldn't doubt that the women did what they had to, when they had to. It was also different times or ways of doing things from what might be seen today. It's not as if I haven't also attempted to obtain different skills and work to contribute to my own family in the past, doing what I had to when I had to. 

Of course it sounds like Clara and many of the other women in the family fared better in life than I did, at least where the income earning was concerned. I can only speculate that it was because they had more supportive people around them long term, in the family, and possibly in their communities. They might have also been healthier than I have been over the course of my life.

In the oral history, I also seem to recall some mention of Troubadours, but am unable to recall what that was about exactly. This last item, the proximity to St Petersburg, Russia when they were in the Ukraine, all having been born there and lived there some, their struggles as Jewish people, the likelihood that they traveled across the water to get to the U.S.A., and the assorted businesses or other work that was mentioned within the oral history, are all referenced in my playlist so far by the songs "Sympathy for the Devil" by The Rolling Stones, and Immigrant's (We Get The Job Done) by Snow Tha Product, K'naan, Residente, Riz Ahmed, from The Hamilton Mixtape (Hamilton: An American Musical). The links in the two songs mentioned are to a video that is more lyrical and audio for the first song, and a video I feel is definitely worth watching for the second.

I may also include a few others in my playlist outline as I remember more of the oral history. Though I might hold off and save those for other family members or events, since there is still so much to add into the WIP. The Playlist already has 212+ songs, with some of those being repeats. We had other immigrants in our tree but I think those need at least one or two entirely separate posts, outside of the A-Z Challenge. 

I think that's it for this post. Thanks for visiting and reading. I hope you have enjoyed it, and will return tomorrow for the next Letter, which is H. It will most likely be a lot shorter than this was. Until then, I hope you all have a wonderful day or evening, wherever you may be. 


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