Thursday, March 31, 2016

Photo of the Day

This is a photo of my paternal uncle taken on Easter Sunday in 1965 in his family living room in New Castle, Delaware.  He was 10 years old.

James Odgers
(1954 - 2007)

I Found Them!

For nearly four years I have been searching for my maternal grandfather and his family in the 1940 Census with no luck.  I figured with a name like Branyan it was probably misspelled.  Armed with the family's address from the 1930 Census I thought I'd be able to find them.  No such luck.  There were different people living in that house.  I thought about looking page by page of the 1940 Census trying to find their names, but that would have been like looking for a needle in a hay stack, not to mention hours of research.  I had just about given up.

Then I requested my grandfather's Civilian Conservation Corps records.  He joined in 1935 when he was 17 years old.  One of the first things I noticed was that on his General Information Form his original typewritten address had been crossed out and a different address was handwritten.  I wondered what the chances were that his family would be at the same address five years later and I would be able to find them in the 1940 Census.

It was time to start digging.  I knew a good place to start would be to find the Enumeration District,  a geographic area assigned to an individual census taker, or enumerator, usually representing a specific portion of a city or county.  I used an Enumeration District (ED) finder and searched by my grandfather's 1935 address.  Once I knew the ED I started looking through the Census page by page searching for that address. When I finally found it, I was disappointed. Another family was living at that address.  But then something caught my eye.  There they the house next door!  Of course I was wondering why they would have moved to the house right next door to the one where they were living in 1935.  But that's a question for a later time.  I finally found my grandfather's family!

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Photo of the Day

This is a photo of my paternal aunt (13 years old) and uncle (nine years old) taken in the summer of 1964 at a beach in Delaware.

Diane Odgers (1951 - 2002)
James Odgers (1954 - 2007)

Individual Record - Civilian Conservation Corps: General Information

The Civilian Conservation Corps existed between 1933 and 1942.  It employed millions of unmarried men between the ages of 17 and 25 on projects in rural areas owned primarily by federal, state, and local governments. The men served a term of six months, but they could serve up to four terms. They earned $30 a month, $25 of which was sent home to their families.

This is a copy of my maternal grandfather's Individual Record form.  It includes some general information about him.  A couple things stand out to me.  First, his birth year is wrong.  He was born in 1917, not 1916.  Was this a typo or did he lie about his age?  He would have been 17 at the time he joined the CCC, so I think it is a typo.  The second thing that stands out is the original typed address for his mother and himself have been crossed out and a new address has been handwritten.  His family must have moved in the time he signed up and the time he signed this form.

On this form my grandfather states he had been unemployed since December 1932, more than two years before he entered the CCC.  This would make him the perfect recruit since the young men had to be unemployed and recommended by the Department of Labor through a local welfare agency.

Friday, March 25, 2016

My Biggest Treasure So Far

A few months ago my dad called me to say he had finally sold his family home, and if there was anything I wanted in the house to go get it.  Instantly I thought of his old toy box that I had been meaning to get for years, but never got around to doing it.  I wanted it because my great-grandfather made it for my dad.  I'm a sucker for anything that has sentimental value.

When my husband was refinishing the toy box, he came in from the garage saying, "It has his name on it."  I thought my great-grandfather had put my dad's name on it and what a nice thing for him to do.  But it was even better than I thought.  My great-grandfather had put his own name on it and the date he made it.  The weird thing was it was almost sixty years to the day.  Something that was already special became a treasure.  And the best part was how excited my boys were to have something that their great-great grandfather made.

Maybe when my boys grow out of playing with toys I'll use it to store all my family tree stuff.  I think my great-grandfather just might approve.

Pictures of Christmases Past

I love Christmas pictures.  Just ask anyone who has had to stand in front of my Christmas tree and have their picture taken on Christmas Eve.  There is something so special when I look at those pictures and study the subtle changes that have occurred through the years.

It's even more alluring to look at family Christmas pictures that were taken before I was born.  I study every detail.  The Christmas tree, the ornaments, the presents under the tree, the decorations that are on the tables and walls...Everything!  How are family traditions the same?  How are they different?  What was the favorite present that year?  What kind of food were they eating?  My questions are endless.

Flashback to Christmas 1964...

This is my paternal aunt, at 13 years old, standing in front of her Christmas tree in her family home in New Castle, Delaware.  She is probably posing in a new outfit.  Maybe even showing off her new jewelry.  A picture that seems so simple is such a treasure.  It's all in how we see the details.

It's pictures like this that will keep me insisting that everyone get their picture taken in front of the Christmas tree every year.

Following A Paper Trail

About a year ago I requested my maternal uncle's Individual Deceased Personnel File, or IDPF.  I wanted a better understanding of his military service in Vietnam, information on how he died, and what it took to get his body back home.  As I pour over each page, I have begun to do just that.

Military documents are very thorough and I am learning so much as I study each detail.  I get consumed with every itemized statement and travel voucher.  Is it really important that the military paid $500 to the funeral home for my uncle's funeral?  It is to me.

In my five years of doing research on my family, tree I have realized that each person has their own story and I want to know as much as I can about everyone.  Every line of every page in this IDPF is a story.  This is my uncle's story.

It has been the most interesting and the most haunting research I have done so far.

Little Treasures

These two buttons celebrating honor attendance in Delaware schools in 1938 and 1939 belonged to my paternal grandmother.  She would have received them when she was 14 and 15 years old.  They must have been important to her because she kept them her whole life. 

Photo of the Day

This is a photo of my paternal aunt and uncle taken in 1965 at a beach in Delaware.  She was 14 years old and he was 10 years old.

Diane Odgers (1951-2002)
James Odgers (1954-2007)

Three Pictures in One

This is a picture of my paternal great-grandfather, Hayward LeGates, taken in December 1963.  He is sitting in my grandparents' living room, maybe posing with one of his Christmas presents.

I believe the picture on the table next to him is one of my uncle's school pictures.  The picture hanging on the wall is from my grandparents' wedding day.  I have a copy of the same picture in my living room.

Report of Disposition of Personal Effects of Deceased Person

My maternal uncle was killed in battle during the Vietnam War on 10 December 1967.  This form documents that his belongings would go to my grandfather.

Getting to Know Someone Through Pictures

My paternal grandmother died over a year before I was born.  As I was growing up, some people told me I looked like her.  It was flattering in a creepy sort of way.  Flattering because those people also told me what a nice lady she was.  Creepy, I guess, because she died so young and I never got to meet her.

My uncle had the best stories about her.  Like how one time she hid one of his Christmas presents so well that she found it months later and gave it to him.  And how when she drove and he sat in the front seat, she would put her arm out in front of him EVERY time she put on the brakes.  I loved hearing all of his stories and it gave me a glimpse into what kind of a mother she was.

Maybe it's my memory, but I only remember seeing a limited number of pictures of her.  There was one that hung in my uncle's living room like she was still watching over everything in the house.  My uncle said she didn't like getting her picture taken.

One of my biggest surprises and favorite discoveries has been all of the pictures of her from so many different stages of her life.  I feel like I'm learning who she was.  I can put a picture to all those stories.

Ellen LeGates Odgers

Report of Casualty

My uncle was killed in battle during the Vietnam War on 10 December 1967.  This form is the Report of Casualty which states that he died from a gunshot wound received in hostile ground action.  It also documents that he was posthumously promoted to corporal as of 4 December 1967.

Record of Personal Effects

My maternal uncle was killed in battle during the Vietnam War on 10 December 1967.  After his death, his things were sent to my grandfather.  This is the list of those personal effects.

Photo of the Day

This is a photo of my paternal grandmother that was taken in the 1940s.
Ellen LeGates

Certificate of Destruction

My uncle was killed in battle during the Vietnam War on 10 December 1967.  This Certificate of Destruction documents the items belonging to my uncle that were destroyed instead of sending home to my grandparents.

Photo of the Day

This is a photo of my paternal grandmother taken in the 1940's, probably on the beach in Ocean City, Maryland.
Ellen LeGates

Letter from the Department of the Army

My uncle was killed in battle during the Vietnam War on 10 December 1967.  This is a letter from the Department of the Army addressed to my grandfather.  It was informing him to be expecting my uncle's personal effects on or about 9 January 1968.  Enclosed with the letter was a U.S. Treasury check for the amount of $34.45.  The dollar amount was converted from the currency that my uncle had at the time of his death.

Photo of the Day

This is a photo of my paternal grandmother with her older sister, probably taken in Ocean City, Maryland in the 1940s.
Ellen LeGates (1924-1970)
Norma Lea LeGates (1922-1992)

Summary of Action Taken

My uncle was killed in action during the Vietnam War on 10 December 1967.  This is a copy of a Summary of Action Taken (Hostile Action) form that was filed after his death.

My New Favorite Old Photo

As I go through so many old photos, I have begun to notice that they are pretty much the same.  Everyone is dressed up and they are usually standing outside of their home.  They look nice, but what were those people really like?  What did they do every day?  What did they wear when they weren't dressed up?  What did the INSIDE of their houses look like?

And then I found this phtoto.

Ellen LeGates (1924-1970)
Kathlyene LeGates (1927-2008)
It is my paternal grandmother and her younger sister.  It was probably taken in the early 1940s in Ocean City, Maryland.  Maybe they were rinsing off after a day on the beach.  I love to look at their matching bathing suits and caps.  I love the smiles on their faces.  I can only imagine how cold the water was and how much fun they were having.

It gives me a glimpse into what they were like back then, what kind of sisters they were to each other, what kind of fun they had together.  It makes me excited to find my next favorite photo.

Seven Remains Army Personnel

My uncle died in battle on 10 December 1967 in the Vietnam War.  After his death, his remains arrived at the Dover Air Force Base on 14 December 1967 with six other casualties.  Their names are listed here with the links to their memorial pages.  All of their names can be found on panel 31 of the Vietnam War Memorial.

Photo of the Day

This is a photo of my paternal grandmother (on the right) with her two sisters.  It was taken in the early 1940's.
Norma Lea LeGates (1922-1992)
Kathlyene LeGates (1927-2008)
Ellen LeGates (1924-1970)

14 December 1967 Western Union Telegram

My uncle was killed on 10 December 1967 in battle during the Vietnam War.  This is the telegram that was sent to my grandfather confirming that my uncle's remains were to be sent to the Mealey Funeral Home, all expenses paid by the United States government.

Photo of the Day

This is a photo of my paternal grandmother and her older sister, probably taken in 1925.  It is printed on a post card.
Norma Lea LeGates (1922 - 1992)
Ellen LeGates (1924 - 1970)

Report of Casualty

My uncle was killed in battle on 10 December 1967 during the Vietnam War.  This is a copy of the Report of Casualty that was filed on 11 December 1967.

Photo of the Day

This is a photo of my paternal grandmother taken in August 1943.  She was 19 years old.
Ellen LeGates
1924 - 1970

Certificate of Death (Overseas)

My uncle was killed in battle on 10 December 1967 during the Vietnam War.  This is his death certificate that states he suffered a gunshot wound to his head that resulted in his immediate death.

Photo of the Day

This is a photo of my paternal aunt taken in 1951, the year she was born.
Diane Odgers
1951 - 2002

Why Start a Blog?

I have been interested in genealogy for as long as I can remember.  I always loved hearing family stories and sitting at the kitchen table when my granny would bring out her old pictures.

I began seriously researching my family tree five years ago.  As time went on I began to acquire tons of pictures, documents, and keepsakes.  I realized researching was more than following the tiny green leaves to see how far back I could go.  Every person was more than just a name.  Every person has a
story.  Every person's life mattered.

These thoughts led to a new passion.  I decided to dedicate most of my time to documenting and preserving all of the STUFF that I am fortunate enough to have.

I still get excited every time I see one of those tiny green leaves, but now is the time to share the memories, the pictures, and the things that my family cherished.

Record of Identification Processing

The wearing of identification tags, boots and clothing marked with the soldier's name, and the carrying of identification cards were important in identifying remains during the Vietnam War.  An equally important means of identification was fingerprinting. The proven reliability of fingerprints, coupled with their availability and immediate verification, made them an invaluable part of the mortuary's identification process.  Other important means of identifying remains were the matching of the remains with recorded characteristics of race, height, hair color, tattoos, scars, healed fractures, injuries, cause of death, and markings on clothing and jewelry.

In my uncle's case, he was identified by his fingerprints, height, hair color, race, head wound, ID card, ID tags, belt marked with his name, and four statements of recognition.

Photo of the Day

This is my paternal grandmother posing for a photo.  It was probably taken in the 1940s .
Ellen LeGates
(1924 - 1970)

Record of Preparation and Disposition of Remains

My maternal uncle uncle was killed in action on 10 December 1967 during the Vietnam War.  This is a copy of the Record of Preparation and Disposition of Remains found in his Individual Deceased Personnel File.  It gives a detailed report as to the condition of his body as it was prepared for burial.

Photo of the Day

This is the husband of my paternal great-aunt.  The photo was taken in the living room of their home in Wilmington Manor, Delaware in the late 1970s.
Irvin Pinder

Photo of the Day

This is a photo of my paternal uncle playing with his toys in his living room in New Castle, Delaware in December 1964.  He was 10 years old.

James Odgers

Battle Casualty Report

My maternal great-uncle was killed in action during World War II on 22 July 1944.  Following a few clues on his Battle Casualty Report, I started researching his Infantry Division on the Internet and was able to answer a few of my questions about his death.

His division left Oahu and arrived in Eniwetok in the Marshall Islands by 1 July 1944.  He moved from Eniwetok on 18 July aboard the transports of the Southern Attack Force to arrive off Guam the morning of 21 July.  During his travels he was probably given last minute instructions and gave his weapon a last check as he prepared to disembark.

The battle began in the early morning hours of 21 July.  I can only imagine what was going on in his mind as shells exploded on the beaches and in the hills beyond.  My great-uncle's division was called in for support that night.  He was killed in the battle the following day.

Photo of the Day

This is a photo of my paternal uncle with his dog, Pal, that was taken on 1 January 1964 in his family's kitchen in New Castle, Delaware.  He was nine years old.

James Odgers (1954 - 2007) and Pal

Photo of the Day

This is a photo of my maternal grandmother taken next to her family home in Trenton, New Jersey in 1937.  She was 21 years old.

Kathryn Bunting

Monday, March 21, 2016

Photo of the Day

This is a photo of my paternal aunt sitting in her living room in New Castle, Delaware in the winter of 1965.  She was 14 years old.

Diane Odgers
1951 - 2002

Bills of Repairs September 24,1904

 This cover sheet is found in the Civil War Pension File of my paternal third great-grandfather.  The bills were submitted by a pension atto...