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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Life and Genealogy

Lately, I've felt the pull of Girls Scouts (yes, I lead), the school yearbook (as a lead adviser), second grade homework, support of a preschooler (who only attends school 3 mornings a week), indoor soccer, and the various chauffeuring around the area to be a sharp contrast to my research.  I have also learned how to cook (started in October 2009).  Wow, I finally said it.  I am a stay-at-home mom and busy as heck.  I love my kids and my family.
       
Now, that does not mean I am giving up on my family tree research.  Not at all.  I may just not get my posts out as timely as I have over the past couple of years.  My goal is to get to 1000 posts and then re-evaluate where I've been, what I've done, and what my future plans are.  I'm not there yet.  It could take a while.  In the meantime, I might have to slow down a bit on posts.  We'll see.  I'm approaching 600 posts.  Free time is becoming a very hard thing to find.  I love what I do and will continue.  It might be at a different pace, however.

SlĂ inte

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Napa and a Long Life

Now, I don't actually live in Napa but many of my ancestors did and I still have a few relatives there.  I used to joke about the long lives of people who lived there.  My own relatives are no exception.  I used to say my ancestors lived long lives because of Napa - the water and the wine.  I have no scientific proof of this and it really is all anecdotal for the most part.

I have noticed one big trend with my Napa Family line, if you smoked cigarettes, you only lived to be in your 70s.  By in far, many of my direct line ancestors lived to be in their 80s.  There are some illnesses and diseases here and there that cropped up for people, however, and shortened their lives.  I also have found a bit of a distinct difference in lifespan for my German vs. my Irish ancestors.   My German family lived slightly longer lives on average.

So, is it all genetics, luck, lifestyle or Napa?  I'm not sure but in recent months I've come to understand a bit more about how some of my ancestors extended their lives.  While genetics and living in a mild climate play a big part, lifestyle and diet choices do too.

My German family are all pretty slender people.  I've always said that they had great thin genes.  My Irish family in Napa also appears in photos as quite slender.  I suppose that was the makeup of people around the turn of the century.  They were not generally fattened up for the most part and worked hard lives farming and working the land.  In California, you could do that year round with some months being a bit cold, you could still grow winter vegetables and farm the land.

In sharp comparison, my East Coast ancestors lived in the city and did not have farms.  By the late 1800s, my NYC ancestors were coach drivers, grocery store owners, and may have done some woodworking.  By  the 1930s, many of them worked in offices in the city.  My great grandfather worked for the New York Transit Authority (The Subway).  While they did not all have sedentary jobs, they were not overly active.  Some of them were a bit stocky.  Many of that line did live into their 80s.  I suppose that is genetics for sure but I don't know what their diets and lifestyles were like.

Back to Napa....I do know about the diets and lifestyles of my West Coast ancestors.  My German family ate a whole lot of fruit and vegetables.  The old saying "Eat your vegetables!" rang true in my household growing up.  The vegetables tasted even better at my grandparents house in Napa.  Why was that?  I have a few family lifestyle tricks and tips that I've gathered over the years including some that I just found out about.

Recently, my mom told me that the vegetables tasted so good at my grandparents house because my grandma would put butter on them.  Her cooked fresh from their garden green string beans were grown and cooked with care.  To finish off the job, a pad of butter was mixed with them in the serving bowl making them oh so good.

I can honestly remember being at my grandparents house for dinner.  There would be a nice piece of meat cooked with sides of sliced tomatoes, cooked zucchini and green beans.  These were all from their garden.  Yes, there was butter on the cooked veggies and we'd even put a bit of mayo and salt on the tomatoes.  The dinner would be polished off by a salad that we'd eat last.

So, how bad is butter for you?  Maybe it's not so bad when you use it in moderation over fresh cooked veggies grown in your own garden.  Can you count the number of servings of fruit and vegetables at that dinner table?  Mind you, tomatoes are actually fruit.   Also, my grandma loved avocados and those were chopped up in the salad.  Let's not forget the wine.  Everyone had a glass of red wine with dinner (except the kids, of course!).

My grandma, who was German, grew up in a household where the family did subscribe to everything in moderation and eat your fruit and vegetables.   They even owned a fruit orchard.  My grandma and her siblings would have to help pick the fruit.  That was not my grandma's favorite thing to do.  When you are surrounded by fresh grown food, that's what you eat.  It's also what you become accustomed too eating.

Some other details of my family's diet and lifestyle only surfaced recently.  My 87 year old aunt said that she drinks apple cider vinegar in water with honey every morning.  I did not know this about her.  She said that she hardly ever gets a cold.  I hope that I did not just jinx her.

In talking about health, my aunt said that her mother would drink lemon water every morning before she ate breakfast.  She had a continual stock of fresh lemons and would squeeze them into water each morning.  She even took her lemon juice on vacation with her.  So how effective was her lemon juice?  Well, Mary Borchers did live to be 96 years old.  I suppose it was not just because she lived in Napa that she reached that age.  She had wisdom to meet her years on this earth.  By the way, she was all about everything in moderation and tried to live a positive, stress free life.  Mind you, life was hard when she was a kid and she worked hard her entire life from taking care of other people's children and houses, to taking care of her own, and then back to taking care of others.  In her later years, her own children took care of her as it should be.

One final health topic that I'll mention here is about skin.  There have been a few cases of known skin cancer in my Irish Napa family.  My own grandfather had skin cancer removed from his nose and back of his arm when he was elderly.  He considered himself lucky that it was not malignant cancer.  That was not the case for his nephew and for his grandfather, Thomas McLaughlin.  If I am reading and interpreting Thomas' death certificate correctly, he had skin cancer.  Wearing a hat and sunscreen is so very important in my family.  Finding shade at the beach is a good idea too.

Do I heed all of the lessons learned by these examples above?  I certainly need to.  I don't always remember  my sunscreen or to eat all of my veggies.  Part of my New Years' resolution is to incorporate some true lifelong healthy habits as demonstrated by my ancestors.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

EC-121 Warning Star - Part 3

From about 1966 until 1971, my father was in the service of our country in the USAF during the Vietnam War.  He was in combat flying over the war and spotting enemy planes for the war (police action) in the air over South East Asia.

I asked him once if he was looking for enemy planes so that they could be avoided.  He indicated quite the contrary. They were spotting planes using radar screens and driving the U.S. forces toward the enemy planes to engage them.  The goal of their plane (EC-121 Warning Star) was to stay clear of the fight that would ensue.

Looking back on that conversation with my father, I realized that I never really asked much more.  Fighting and war are a tough subject.  That brief description always made me wonder how they all survived.  War is far from my favorite topic and yet it is a reality.

I had hoped the box that I was looking through at my mom's house would tell me more.  While there was not much written down, there were plenty of military patches, pins, and other uniform bits and pieces.






I did go look up "College Eye" and do know now that my father was in the 965th AEWCS.  My mom thinks he might have started in the 963th AEWCS as a Lt. but was moved shortly after that.  Maybe because he made captain or maybe because they needed more people.  I'm just not sure.  There were three squadrons out of McClellan AFB at the time.

Now, my father would go on TDY to Korat RTAFB, Thailand.  He was stationed in Sacramento at McClellan but was also assigned to Korat.  Now that I know more, I could ask so many questions of someone "in the know".  I do know that he was part of the College Eye Task Force of the 552d Airborne Early Warning and Control Wing.  The USAF used the Royal Thai Air Force Base in Korat as their overseas base.  My father indicated that he was sent there on a number of occasions.  My mom said that right after they were married he was gone for 6 months to Korat.

It would be interesting to have contact with someone who was involved in this particular air command during Vietnam.  My father is no longer around to answer questions.

I've done my best to honor his service in this post.  There is so much more information that I could share about my father, including photos.  For now, this is what I feel comfortable sharing.

Rest In Peace
Brian E. McGuire
1944-2004

Saturday, January 19, 2013

EC-121 Warning Star - Part 2

Recently at my in-laws house, my father-in-law (FIL) and husband were intensely discussing the infantry and military service of their step uncle by marriage.  They knew so much detail and had photos.  I thought to myself, "I know so much more than that about my own father's service."  When I went to look up his group (which is known as an air control wing), I realized that I actually did not know much.  Since I work on my family tree, I decided that I'd dig up "proof".

Before I went digging, I did try to figure out exactly what I'd be looking for.  The 552d AEWCW, McClellen AFB, California was what I was looking for.  I also realized quickly that I was seeking the squadron number too.  I asked my mom but she could not remember exactly what squadron number he was in.  The next time I went to her house, she handed me this:



I asked her about the box.  She said it was probably given to my dad, full of cigars, by his Air Force buddy's when I was born.  The contents hold a treasure trove of what I like to call "proof" and stories that I will probably never fully realize.

Capt. Brian E. McGuire, USAF 

I asked my mom what the medals were for but she really did not know.  She said that after every mission to Vietnam, he'd come home with more medals or ribbons.  While it is not a medal or ribbon, there is patch above that refers to my father as a short timer and says "Go to Hell" on it.  My father was in the Air Force for 4 years and 3 months.  He would say that was long enough for him.

So, I found a lot but there was more.........see my next post.

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Since I posted this, I've found out what each medal and/or ribbon he received represented.  They are as follows:

  1. Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal
  2. Small Arms Expert Marksmanship Ribbon
  3. Vietnam Service Medal
  4. Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal
  5. National Defense Service Medal 
  6. Air Force Training Ribbon
  7. Air Medal 

Of all of the medals, the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal had the most striking description.

This medal was established on Dec. 4, 1961, to be awarded to members of the United States Armed Forces who, after July 1, 1958, have participated in a United States military operations and encountered foreign armed opposition, or were in danger of hostile action by foreign Armed Forces.




Wednesday, January 16, 2013

EC-121 Warning Star - Part 1

Years ago, I recall making an attempt to tell my college roommate's military officer father what plane my father flew on in Vietnam.  All that I could remember was that it was a "121" and it was a radar plane.  His rather insolent response back was that there was not such thing.  I attempted to explain to him that I was not clearly recalling the full title of the plane.  Soon after, I abandoned the conversation.

My next experience in working to remember the plane that my father flew on in the military was met with someone who knew what I was talking about.  While I had asked my father a few times what plane he few on during the Vietnam War, it was not always in the forefront of my mind.  The second instance was with a retired Air Force officer.  I was at work helping him as the customer.  Somehow the conversation went to his military service.  He had indicated that he'd flown out of McClellan AFB in Sacramento.  My father had too.  While he was in wars prior to Vietnam, he was definitely up to speed with the Air Force air crafts.

I made my best attempt at telling him the plane.  He came back with "The Connie".  I had not heard the plane called that before.  He said the EC-121 Super Constellation was made by Lockheed.  "That was it!"  I wholly agreed.  He told me a few of his stories and his own interests in these planes.  His recommendation to visit the museum at McClellan AFB was soon forgotten for a number of years after my conversation was over this with gentleman.  At least he knew what plane that I was talking about.

Now, before my father passed away in 2004, the topic of his Air Force days would come up here and there.  He was not inclined to chat about his military service unless it involved some funny stories outside of any missions.  I did get him to tell me more about the plane that he flew on.  Mind you, he was not the pilot, co-pilot, or the navigator.  He was, in fact, the non-pilot officer running the back of the plane.  That would be the radar portion.

The name given to the Air Force (and I suppose the counterpart in the Navy) was the EC-121 Warning Star.  This military version of the Lockheed Constellation was used from 1954 to 1978 as an early warning radar plane with 2 large radomes and 4 tubro supercharged radial engines.

At McClellan Air Field Museum c.2009 Zelsersk

Yes, I finally got to McClellan AFB (now an air field since it is no longer an active military installation) in 2009.  It took me long enough.  I only live about 5 miles from the base.  The museum was very interesting to say the least.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Micro Film - Reviewing Moynalty Church Records

A few months back, I decided to try my hand at viewing and gleaning information from a microfilm at the LDS library.  They have gathered information from all over including Ireland where and when available.

Now, I had known that others had obtained information from a film in search of my Maxwell Family. In fact, the film number is 926176, Parish of Moynalty, County Meath, Ireland.  It contains marriages, baptisms, deaths, and other memorabilia starting around 1829.  The test to myself was to try and find exactly what others found plus seek out extended family on my Maxwell and Shaffrey side when possible.

What this meant was going page by page on the film seeking what ever stood out in the way of a family connection.  On about page 4 of my search, there was my 3G Grandmother, Judy Shaffrey, as a sponsor for a baptism.  What a find and the person who was showing me how to load the microfilm machine said that was great luck.  He indicated that many people don't find what they are looking for that quickly, if at all.  I didn't have the heart to tell him that I'd be finding a whole lot more.  I didn't want to sound overly confident.  I did tell him that other family members had already searched this film and found people so I figured that I would.

When it comes to church records, you just can't be quite sure what to expect.  The handwriting is tough to read.  Over the 50 year period in which these records are from, the handwriting does change a few times.  Around 1841, the handwriting is pretty atrocious at times and yet reminds me of my own cursive scrawl when I am in a big hurry.

It did take me about an hour to get a feel for what I was reading through.  This document starts with a number of pages from Parochial Registers of Coole (1864-1883) and appears to be marriages only.  These pages are lined and everything is written impecably.  That is not the case for Moynalty, yet there is significantly more information for this Parish.  

The second part of the film is the ledger book with church baptisms for the Parish of Moynalty, Meath.  The ledger pages simply have the following up top for example "1831 January B".  The "B" stands for baptisms.  Some of the "8's" look like "9's" and yet they are "8's".  The person wrote fancy at times making the numbering a bit of a pain to read and interpret for sure.  I am still not sure how you can make such a huge consistent run on eights that look like nines.  One might have thought the years were 1931 on up the line. It is the 1800s though.

I quickly found my 3G grandmother as a sponsor to a baptism and found five of her children readily (Denis, James, Ellen, Catherine, and Judith Maxwell).   Those records are intact and I did not have to spend hours zooming in and out on the document to figure things out.  It definitely helps that I already had their birth dates which, in fact, are their baptismal dates.  That really is no surprise.

As I scanned through baptisms, I found lots of Caffey's, Lynch's, and Cahill's for the early 1830s.  I also spotted a number of entries for Shaffrey's.   That surname is indicated as Shaffrey, Shafery, Shaffery, and Shaffry in the book.  I can tell they are all the same variation on the same family's last name.  Shaffrey is spelled a couple of different ways just in reference to my own 3G grandmother, Judy.  A Catherine Shaffrey seems to have the same issue going on with a few other Shaffrey's.  You know, when spelling of a last name really does matter most, it's butchered or altered.  Let's not forget that some of these entries look to have been written in great haste.

The next part of the book has a ledger for the marriages for the Parish of Moynalty, Meath.  They run from about 1830 to 1883.  I quickly found the entry for my 3G grandparents, Joseph Maxwell and Judy Shaffrey on September 24, 1834.

My original plan was to print the entire document and review it carefully at home line by line.  However, it takes too long to scan the document off the microfilm and save it to my flash drive.  Instead, I decided to just save the pages where I found Shaffrey's and/or Maxwell's.  That was still a lot of work.  On the microfilm reader, you get a decent view of the church record entries.  It can take some time to get through them but once you spot a name like Shaffrey and familiarize yourself with the scribes' handwriting, you're set.  Printing a copy does not produce the best results and saving it to a drive is not much better.


As meticulous as my research has been on this film, I'm sure I missed something.  A second set of eyes with me would have been great to decipher the sanskrit.  I don't have too many complaints though.  The test of my abilities to track this down and get through it do shine through.  The satisfaction of reviewing and discovering this source information myself was fantastic.  I am so thankful that the predecessors to my own research left me with clues including the film number.  I now understand what these films are and how to use them.

Additionally, my uncle has stressed to me to prove my ancestry to myself without taking other's research at complete face value.  His words ring true -- "Prove it!"   I'm getting to the point of proving my family tree.  I might actually find more information than others found along the way.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Life's Quirks and Genealogy

"Wow!"  I must say.  Life certainly has it's ups and downs.  I must stress though how fortunate I am before I delve into some mishaps, inconveniences, and quirks along the way that take me away from my family tree.

First off, I must be upfront in letting people know who read this blog that I write my posts well ahead of time.  Some of my posts are written at least a month in advance of the posting date.  This gives me time (if I find it) to go back and edit and rethink things.  Most of the time lately, I have not had time to edit further on my posts.  They truly are what they are as part of my online family tree diary.

I had a gentleman sitting next to me at the family library tell me that he's been working on the same family line/surname for the past 30 years.  He has not deviated off that line.  It is his given surname so I guess from his perspective, it is the single most important line.  I, on the other hand, have been been working on upwards of 15 surnames, in several different locations and origins for about 2 and half years.  I am a multi-tasker and it shows through with my genealogy.  Am I an expert on these lines?  A few of them.

It did strike me recently that while my scheduled posts in December were mostly about Kate "O'Brien" Flanagan and her family in New Zealand, I was actually researching my Shaffrey line out of Moynalty, Meath.  Is that confusing?  Not for me but I do think that I have more research ahead of me for Kate.  My Shaffrey line was just begging for a peek since I've known about the LDS Film for the Parish of Moynalty since the beginning of my family tree quest.

In the next month, I will probably get to posting about the Shaffrey's which leads me to my second point of this post.   Life kind of got in the way from mid-November until the end of the year.  While I reserve only a few hours per week for my family tree hobby, those hours were sucked up during this time by sick children, other volunteer obligations, and social activities.  The "sick kids" were my own.  There were also more days off from school this year than expected because of various furloughs for the teachers.  That meant, my children were with me.  Let's just say, we had lots of fun together but family tree work just did not happen.

The dead ends that I've hit on my various lines, require me to now seek out information away from my home, my desk, my computer, and the internet.  I try to squeeze in time to visit the local family history library.  I only wish that they were open on the weekends but they aren't.

Making my research portable has been tricky.  That brings me to my third point in this post.  Carrying electronic research around is problematic.  On Monday, December 17th, I left the house with my preschooler buckled in her car seat headed for school and my thumb drive in my jacket pocket.  Everything went fine in dropping off my 4 year old.  I headed to Starbucks for some strong black coffee before heading to the library.

While in line for coffee, I reached into my pocket to discover that my thumb drive was gone.  I was not happy at all.  I grabbed my coffee and started to retrace my steps on this rainy Sacramento Monday morning.  After an hour, of looking high and low including tearing apart our car, I decided to call it a done deal.  That flash drive was gone!

It was time to regroup.  I went home and located about 75% of my Shaffrey/Maxwell research from the Parish of Moynalty Church Records.  What I had failed to do was to backup my most recent research from after Thanksgiving.  My only other consolation is that I still have access to the film until the end of February.  I guess rework is in order here.  Also, this is the second micro-film tape because there was something wrong with the first one.

When it comes to my family tree, I've got to remember to pace myself, know that there will be delays, and backup my research.  From my own previous post - Backup! Backup! Backup!

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What luck!  Since I wrote this, someone turned in the flash drive to the preschool director.  They found it in the parking lot at the school.  I must say that I scoured that parking lot in search of it.  I'm just glad to have it back!


Tuesday, January 1, 2013