Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Who's Visiting Your House This Week?

As we approach another Hallowe'en, I wonder who will visit my house this year. As my community has become larger and less personal, the number of youngsters who visit for treats is decreasing each year. There are only a few young children on my block these days.

Since I grew up in a small rural community, it was traditional for everyone to "trick or treat" throughout the community. One year, I remember that Dr. Goodman and his family were out-of-town for the evening, so Miss Polly left a full tray of goodies on the front porch, knowing that people would just take their fair share. It was always interesting to learn what "characters" my friends would choose. I remember many cowboys, Davy Crocketts, witches, ghosts, and other TV characters appearing in our community as goblins. My great-niece and great-nephew appeared as Wonder Woman and Spider Man last year.

All holidays are important in our research, because we can formulate ideas about what our parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins did in their lifetime. The concept of learning about daily activities and special events will help us build our skills as researchers. If you still have siblings or older family members around, why not ask them about what they remember about a childhood Hallowe'en or other holiday.

Perhaps you will earn a treat and keep the story alive.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Do Location Names Matter?

While visiting in Springfield, Illinois this past week, several of the locals were surprised to learn that I live in Springfield, Tennessee. At dinner one evening, I learned that one of the hotel staff had family from Springfield, Kentucky. Someone brought up the Simpsons movie promotion last year looking for the hometown of those characters.

Is it worthwhile to investigate the history of a city with the same name as the city from which our ancestors moved? I know that the community of Neosho in middle Tennessee was the home of many folks who moved to Neosho, Missouri; Nutbush, Tennessee was named for Nutbush, North Carolina in Granville county.

How could the city of Springfield, Missouri have anything to do with the city of Springfield, Tennessee except having the same name? Springfield, Missouri has a population of 5.6 million folks while Springfield, Tennessee has a population of only about 16,000 people. The cities are both the county seat of government: Greene County, Missouri and Robertson County, Tennessee.
Springfield, Missouri was established around 1835, while Springfield, Tennessee was established about 40 years earlier in 1796.

J.G. Newbill in his paper, Springfield [Missouri] Express, 11 November, 1881, says: "It has been stated that this city got its name from the fact of a spring and field being near by just west of town. But such is not a correct version. When the authorized persons met and adopted the title of the "Future Great" of the Southwest, several of the earliest settlers had handed in their favorite names, among whom was Kindred Rose, who presented the winning name, Springfield, in honor of his former home town, Springfield, Robertson county, Tennessee. Mr. Rose still lives on his old homestead, 3½ miles southwest of the city, where he has continuously resided for nearly fifty years."

This connection provides a proven migration trail for at least one family. Is it possible that other neighbors of Mr. Rose in Missouri also came from this area of Tennessee? Check it out and keep the story alive.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Salt Lake Institute (SLIG 2009)

The 14th annual Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy (SLIG) will be held in Salt Lake City. The dates are January 12-16, 2009. The ten courses offered for 2009 are: American Research and Records, Research in the Gulf South, English Research, Research in German Speaking Areas, Colonial American Research, Effective Use of the Internet, Hispanic Research, Beyond the Library, Skillbuilding for Professional Level Research, and Problem Solving.

To learn more about the Institute or for registration information, visit the UGA website ( and read short descriptions of the ten courses.

I will be coordinating Course 2: Research in the Gulf South course. Come enjoy a glass of sweet tea as we discover the wonderful records of the Gulf South. Discover the wonderful letters, diaries, family histories and documents that tell the story of Southern families. Unearth the value of unique records created about our ancestors that are likely to hold hidden treasure for the persistent researcher. Learn how and where to find these gems to advance your research. Uncover the historic trails that lead early settlers into and across this expansive territory. Get specific clues that might help you solve difficult research questions.

Topics covered during the week and instructors:

Early Southern settlement and migration (J. Mark Lowe)
Strategies for Southern Research (J. Mark Lowe)
Territorial and Federal Records (John P. Colletta)
Agriculture and Commerce (J. Mark Lowe)
Unique Southern Military Records (J. Mark Lowe)
Noisy Neighbors: Local and State Court Records (J. Mark Lowe)
Wills, Estates and Guardianships (Cath Trindle)
Windows to the Past: Newspaper Research (Elissa Powell)
Secondary Sources for the Gulf South (Kory Meyerink)
Southern Tracks and Railroad Records (Paula Stuart-Warren)
WPA Records (Paula Stuart-Warren)
FHL Southern States Collection (Mary Hill)
Southern Church Records (J. Mark Lowe)
Land Claims and Deeds (Cath Trindle)
Close Up: Georgia, Florida, Alabama & Mississippi (J. Mark Lowe)
Close Up: Arkansas, Louisiana & Texas (J .Mark Lowe)
Federal Claims (J. Mark Lowe)
Maps, Atlases and Gazeteers (Cath Trindle)
Listening on the Yazoo, a case study (John P. Colletta)
Big Hoops and Cowboy Boots: Finding Women in Records (Elissa Powell)

It is a great week of learning and fellowship. With the Family History Library only doors away, the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy provides a week you will want to put on your calendar.

See you there!


Monday, June 2, 2008

Looking for a different perspective.

I went to a national fast-food restaurant and purchased a combo meal with a medium soft drink. When I drove around to the window, I was handed what appeared to me a very small cup of beverage. It caused me to recall my order – did I ask for a small drink?
There has been a lot of discussion when a major coffee house began measuring their sizes using unfamiliar terms to most consumers. When I was a young man, the largest soft drink bottle available was ten ounces. Today, most soft drinks are sold in individuals bottles holding twenty ounces. I know a few soft drink aficionados who insist that the six ounce Coke™ is the only acceptable soft drink. They insist there is a difference in flavor between the six-ounce bottle and other serving sizes.
When I was in the Dallas-Ft. Worth Texas area a couple of years ago, my oldest nephew, Brett, took me out to lunch. He chose a restaurant where we could purchase a Dublin Dr. Pepper. I have to admit that I had not heard of the Dublin Dr. Pepper. I could imagine a green cola or one with a distinctive Irish taste, but I was mistaken.
Dublin Dr Pepper has the distinction of being made and bottled with the original sweetener, Imperial Pure Cane Sugar, just like the original Dr Pepper formula. It is also the oldest Dr. Pepper bottler in the world in Dublin, Texas. In the 1970s the price of sugar rose and soft drink companies started panicking because it was getting too expensive to produce their drinks using sugar. Virtually everyone switched to high fructose corn syrup because it was much less expensive. The decision was made at that time to keep using the pure cane sugar, regardless of the extra expense. The Dublin Dr Pepper Bottling Company is the only Dr Pepper bottler that has always used pure cane sugar to sweeten the drink.
The interesting history of Dr. Pepper is found on their website ( along with some other interesting tidbits of historical information. Today, Dublin Dr. Pepper has become a marketing tool, separating this soft drink from those sweetened with corn syrups.
What lesson can we learn from this soft drink story? It is important to consider the evidence we discover from different perspectives. In much the same way as we walk around a car, whose purchase we anticipate, we want to look at this item from every perspective. We will probably also take the car for a test drive. Are we overlooking some issue on this record? Are we seeing the entire picture as presented? Is there something missing? These questions and a different perspective will help us gather a more accurate picture of the record at hand.
Keep the story alive

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Getting Back Into the Swing

I have not posted to this blog since August. After that wonderful trip to Ft. Wayne to the FGS Conference, I learned a few new things about life. My Mom entered the hospital for tests and developed pneumonia and complications over a 5-1/2 week hospitalization. She passed away at the end of September.

I wrote these words the night of her passing:

Today (Sat Sep 29) at about 4:00 pm our Mom - Mama Chris - the Cookie Lady - Christine P. Lowe - went on for her reward. Her passing from this life was gentle. We were all there and saw her at peace. Our Mom was a very special person - she was larger than life - she would never have wanted to be less than herself or lose her ability to give so much joy - peace - love - encouragement to all of those around her. She always reminded me what a wonderful life she had been given - seeing all of the beautiful country and meeting so many wonderful people. Your concern and prayers have been what added joy to Mom's final days here. We now see that God knew that WE needed six weeks to prepare for this moment. I know that I have a big hole in my heart right now, but I can't thank you enough for the prayers, cards, e-mails, hugs, and concern that you have shown all of us in this time. May God continue to bless you richly as he has me and my family.

Thanks Mom for making my life so wonderful. Remembering the stories my Mom shared is one of the reasons I try to keep all of the stories alive. Thanks for reading along.

Keeping the story alive - Mark

J. Mark Lowe
J. Mark Lowe Reviews
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