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    In every family, someone ends up with “the stuff.” It is the goal of The Family Curator to inspire, enlighten, and encourage other family curators in their efforts to preserve and share their own family treasures.

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    Here We Go A Blog Caroling

    Our family favorite remains the grade school performance of Away in a Manger, complete with home-made costumes, shaky home video, and wayward sheep. This rendition is good competition for some of the movies we made of our own kids; maybe I will have the films converted to digital in time for next year’s Blog Caroling Concert.



    If Our Ancestors Wrote Christmas Letters: 2010 Edition

    The Annual Christmas Letter, circa 1900

    Dearest Cousin,

    Forgive the brevity of this holiday message. I have only a small quantity of ink and this one sheet of paper torn from the back of Mr. Smith’s store account book and will of needs write in a small hand and with a light stroke. 

    I wish I could say that we are all well, but after Bessie kicked the ladder upsetting George onto the hay rake, we have just had one hard knock after another. George only had the wind knocked out of him, landing on the handle not the tines of the rake, but poor Bessie was so unsettled her milk went sour and made the baby sick for nearly a week. The poor thing (the baby, not the cow) just couldn’t get any rest at all and we were nearly crazed what with listening to the little mite cry and cry. Finally, the old dear (the cow, not the baby) settled down and her milk got just as sweet again as white honey. She has always been such a good animal; we surely do hope and pray that she will stay well for the children have all grown to love her so, to say nothing of how highly we regard her milk.

    The five older children are well except for Georgie who seems to have the same hard luck as his father. He didn’t fall on the hay rake, although it might have knocked some sense into him because on account of his hard head (just like his father’s) we are now grandparents with a new baby in the house – not the baby that got sick from Bessie’s milk, but Georgie and his wife’s baby born just five days after our youngest (the one who did get sick from Bessie’s milk). If it wasn’t for Georgie being so stubborn he would have let that girl marry Johnson boy across the creek, but Georgie just wouldn’t have any of it. That Bessie took off from our farm crying most piteously after George hollered at her for knocking him off the ladder and on to the hay rake. You know George is usually a very mild man, but he was so surprised that his voice just got the better of him. Georgie went running after Bessie who ran across the field to into that Johnson boy who was courting Patience Wilson. They were probably doing what younguns do (Riff Johnson and Patience, not Georgie and Bessie) and she started wailing, probably about how her mama was going to give her a piece of her mind when she found out what those two were up to. Georgie thought Riff was hurtin’ her (Patience not Bessie) so he pulled back and gave Riff a fistful of good manners. The boy just stood there with his face swelling up and bleeding and the cow moaning into the sky because everyone else was shouting and yelling.  After all that Patience decided Georgie was a hero and she wouldn’t have any more to do with that Johnson boy after all. Georgie fell sick in love and nothing would do except he and Patience would be married and you can see what came of that.

    Bessie seems to know she was the cause of all the fuss and she cries and carries on most all the time. This is pretty fine by us because her moaning is a bit of a lullaby song and with two new babies and only one cradle, we are celebrating Christmas with a babe in the manger and Bessie singing carols. 

    I hope that you and your family have good news to share and that you will be able to write again soon. We read your news about Cousin James position at the bank and the ice sculpture carved in his likeness for the holiday dinner at the Ritz Hotel. I expect it was fairly spectacular with his fine brow and long nose. George wonders if the bank would like to borrow a cow to model as an image for dairy investments? Bessie is available.


    Your Cousin Amelia 

    Photograph: Barry, Kelley & Chadwick. Down on the farm, c1906. Photographic Print on stereo card. Digital. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 US. Accessed December 2010.


    Black Friday Cooking

    It’s that time of year… while some families are watching football, shopping, or already trimming the tree, our is usually mixing up a batch of holiday LevNog that probably won’t last until the first day of Christmas.

    Our recipe came from a friend who made the mistake of gifting us with a glass snowman filled with the stuff. She probably got tired of refilling Frosty, and finally gave us the recipe.

    The recipe is traditionally brewed from dairy and distillery sometime during Thanksgiving weekend, and carefully stored in the basement for as long as you can stand it. About 24 hours. We give in to worries about food safety in Southern California and keep ours in the basement fridge. It is really cold in there.

    But things will be different this year. We are travelling in and around New York State and sampling the local specialties. Wonderful farm fresh eggs, delicious homemade bread, free-range fowl, this-season apples. Maybe we can find some nog somewhere to hold us until we get home and mix up our own.


    Aha! Gotcha!

    Nope, not Kansas, Linda. But it was a very fun day in the pumpkin patch selecting future jack-o-lanterns.

    Although in Pasadena, California we don’t see roadside stands like this one, I just know they must exist up and down hundreds of country roads. This particular farm happened to be in Dutchess County, one of my favorite places to visit.

    I’ll be looking for your local pumpkin patch next year.

    Thanks for stopping by and leaving a note, Linda; Michelle, Turning of Generations; Elizabeth, Little Bytes of Life; and Bill, West in New England.


    Answering Riddles: Which Came First. . .

    No, I don’t know if it was the chicken or the egg, but I can tell you WHO was first.

    Donna Pointkowski, What’s Past is Prologue, wins the gold ring for being first and fastest to guess where I was last month – at the National Archives in Washington, D.C.

    Of course, it would have been more than “a little embarrassing” if she didn’t know that one. I took the picture standing in front of the fabulous sculpture bearing the name of her blog!

    Donna beat out Elizabeth O’Neal, Little Bytes of Life; Sheri Fenley, The Educated Genealogist; footnote Maven; and Becky Wiseman, Kinexxions – they are ALL pretty savvy.

    Jenna, Desperately Seeking Surnames, also correctly guessed from the Day 2 photo that I was in D.C.; I have to go look for her posts about her trip to the Library of Congress. That’s a future destination.

    Day 3 Winner was the incomparable footnoteMaven who correctly named the photo subject as Ottomanelli & Sons Prime Meat Market in the West Village of New York City. The butcher’s special on Lady Gaga flank steak was just to good to pass up.


    Anywhere U.S.A.

    This photo may have been taken on a country road in your home state. Well, ok, it doesn't look much like Arizona or even Southern California. But, it sure does look like many pumpkin patches across America.



    Another Travel Riddle

    You are all so clever. My visit to The National Archives in Washington, D.C. was still in progress when Donna Pointkowski correctly (and rightly so) commented on my whereabouts. That big statue is dead giveaway.

    Next, for your armchair-travel pleasure I am posting a photo taken just yesterday morning.  The sign out front caught my eye, the American entrepreneurial spirit at work!

    Many eat it; she wore it.
    Some love it; some abhor it.
    She decided to fashion a dress
    The local butcher was unimpressed.

    Best when fresh; delicious with age,
    Will this fashion be the rage?

    Where am I?



    Research Results: 1-?


    Day One was Most Successful: A Lovely Pension file for Great-Great-Uncle Isaac Winsor. Oh, thank you Collateral Relatives. More to come on this one which included original Marrriaige Certificates, Divorce Decrees (yes, plural), and Guardianship papers. It was full of gems.

    Day Two, not so much. Samuel Chamblin (who married our Mercy Winsor) "Rejected" after enlisting and never returning to Muster Roll Call. And multiple "pink slips" for records not found. Bummer.

    Oh well. Gives me something to do next.



    A Riddle: Where Am I?

    What's Past is Prologue, what's present is now past.

    Having a great time; wish you were here.



    How do you keep track of your research progress? The #FHExpo Bloggers want to know

    FHExpo Bloggers (from left) Amy Coffin, Thomas MacEntee,
    Kathryn Doyle, Elizabeth O'Neal, Lisa Alzo

    One of the highlights of attending a genealogy conference is the chance to learn ask a lot of questions and share ideas with other attendees. This morning, at the Beacon of Bloggers table, we've been talking about ways to record your research progress. The most popular solution so far is a non-solution; most of us use a traditional research log on paper or Word. doc, combined with keeping things in our heads. What do you do?

    • Paper or computer Log?
    • Bygones?
    • Google Docs on the cloud?
    • Dropbox?

    Ideally, we would like an app we could use on our mobile device and sync with our computer to be printed out for the file and for review.

    Have you found a good solution?


    Shades of the Departed, The Mourning Issue

    The newest issue of online magazine Shades of the Departed is now available, featuring 110 pages of outstanding content from nine contributors. I am honored to be in such good company writing short fiction as Miss Penelope Dreadful.

    Editor footnoteMaven opens this issue with a beautiful farewell message to two Shades contributors, my mother Suzanne Mercy Winsor Brown and The Graveyard Rabbit Terry Thornton. Terry was the first Shades columnist and a chief instigator in The Graveyard Rabbits Association. Suzanne was a happy one-time contributor to Twice Told Tuesday in 2009 with a birthday surprise for me. Thank you, fM, for a beautiful tribute.

    This issue comes just in time for the California Family History Expo October 8-9 which will feature a live podcast by Lisa Louise Cooke highlighting Shades of the Departed. If  you can't make it to Pleasanton, you can hear the podcast on Lisa's Genealogy Gems show.



    Stealth Blogger to Attend CA FHExpo

    I am looking forward to rendezvousing with Shades of the Departed writers, geneabloggers, and family history enthusiasts this weekend, October 8-9 at the Family History Expo in Pleasanton.

    A few months ago, I couldn’t commit to being a Blogger of Honor (OBE as it were), but I think I will just go anyway. . . as a Stealth Blogger. My main focus will be R & R, with a bit of E & E thrown in. Stay tuned . . .


    Celebrating Suzy


    The Memorial Service for my mother, Suzanne Winsor Freeman, was held Saturday, 25 July 2010 at her church, Evangelical Free Church of Green Valley, Arizona, under deep turquoise blue skies filled with fluffy white clouds.

    Mom’s church community helped us celebrate her life through beautiful music, photographs, and heartfelt memories. We were deeply touched by the number of people who contributed their time and talent to making the day a special one for our family.

    During the service, Mom’s pastor shared portions of a short piece she wrote several years ago about a parent’s role in passing on a spiritual legacy to their children. I could hear Mom’s voice as he read her words, and love the way she linked her ancestor Roger Williams with her own life and the spiritual legacy she left to each of her children and grandchildren.

    Although she didn’t leave any specific requests for a memorial, we were pleased to find one small newsprint clipping inside the folder with her Will. Somewhere, she had found the lyrics to a song she liked, cut them out, and written in the margin “sing at funeral.” The Memorial Service closed with “I Can Only Imagine” by Mercy Me, followed by her pastor’s warm benediction. 



    Memorial Fund Will Assist Student Genealogists

    The Suzanne Winsor Freeman Memorial Student Genealogy Fund has been established to honor Suzanne’s Freeman’s lifetime of service to young people and to assist young genealogists seeking to advance their genealogical education.

    Suzanne Freeman was a life-long volunteer who worked with many youth organizations in the capacity of leader, organizer, and administrator. She also developed a strong interest in family history, and was delighted by the growing number of young student genealogists.

    The Suzanne Winsor Freeman Memorial Student Genealogy Fund honors her love of service and family history. The purpose of the fund is to assist young genealogists by offering grants to advance their genealogical education, including funds to attend genealogy conferences and workshops.

    At the time of her death in Tucson, Arizona August 28, 2010, Suzanne was still searching for elusive Winsor cousins, and was delighted to meet her cousin Christopher Childs from the New England Historic and Genealogical Society at the  2010 SCGS Jamboree. She embraced the possibilities of DNA and had recently submitted a sample for testing.

    Mother-Daughter Team -- Denise Levenick (The Family Curator) and Suzanne Freeman
    with GeneaBlogger Welcome Bags at the  2009 SCGS Jamboree. 

    Genealogy bloggers came to know Suzanne the past two years at the SCGS Jamboree where she enthusiastically joined the GeneaBlogger Welcome Bag project, assisting in the assembly and distribution of gifts to attending genealogy bloggers. She was a fan of new technology such as podcasts by Lisa Louise Cooke and The Genealogy Guys, but also looked forward to analyzing old photographs with Maureen Taylor, The Photo Detective.

    Suzanne enjoyed researching family history online and frequently posted queries that resulted in new family connections. She supplied numerous stories and anecdotes for where her tales always received enthusiastic reader comments. Suzanne was also honored to appear as a guest blogger at

    Donations to the Suzanne Winsor Freeman Memorial Student Genealogy Fund may be made at any Wells Fargo Bank c/o Wells Fargo Bank, Green Valley, Arizona 520/625-1222. For more information, contact Denise Levenick via Contact the Curator.

    Further Reading --
    Obituary at and Green Valley News


    Suzanne Mercy Winsor Freeman 1933-2010


    Suzanne Mercy Winsor Freeman

    Suzanne Mercy Winsor Freeman, 77, life-long community volunteer, died Saturday, August 28, 2010 of respiratory failure in Tucson, Arizona. Suzy made her home in Green Valley, Arizona since 1997 where she was an active organizer of church and civic events, and known for her broad smile and engaging enthusiasm.

    Suzanne was born January 5, 1933 in Olathe, Kansas to Arline (Kinsel) and Frank Ammi Brown, and grew up in Orange and Santa Ana after her family moved to California in 1937. She purchased property in Green Valley, Arizona in 1982 to be near her half-sister Lucile Smith, becoming a full-time Arizona resident in 1997.

    As a mother and homemaker, Suzanne found great satisfaction as a Girl Scout Leader and church volunteer in La Habra, California, and later used her community experience as Executive Director of the North Orange County Volunteer Bureau. In Green Valley, Suzanne served as President of the Villas West Homeowners’ Association where she organized many social events and the annual craft show. She was an active member of the Green Valley Evangelical Free Church Christian Women’s Association and a frequent Bible study leader. Suzanne was a member of the Green Valley Genealogical Society always searching for new Winsor cousins. She enjoyed travel, crafts, and cooking.

    During her final illness, it was her great joy to know that her namesake Charlotte Mercy had been born to her eldest granddaughter Heather Craig and her husband David Ricketts.

    Suzanne is survived by daughter Denise and her husband Dan Levenick of Pasadena, California; daughter Deanna and her husband Kip Craig of Silverado Canyon, California; grandchildren Zack Levenick, Heather Craig Ricketts, Christian Levenick, Chelsea Craig, Chloe Craig, and Kayli Craig; great-grandchildren Anabelle May Ricketts, Charles Levenick, and Charlotte Mercy Ricketts; sister Frances and her husband Harold Jones of Santa Ana, California.

    She was preceded in death by her parents and half-sisters Lucile Paulen Smith, of Green Valley, and Bearnadean Duvall Avery.

    A Memorial Service celebrating Suzanne’s life will be held Saturday, September 25, 2010 at 10:30 a.m. at Green Valley Evangelical Free Church, 1393 West Mission Twin Buttes, Green Valley.


    How does the family curator share the sad news of a parent’s death? Carefully, lest any vital date or place be omitted. Sadly, because it’s just so hard to do.

    Fellow genealogists may know my mom Suzanne Freeman after meeting her at the SCGS Jamboree or some other genealogy event. You probably know that she was a spunky senior citizen with the juvenile sense of humor.

    She became suddenly ill in early July and never fully recovered. Mom wanted to live independently as long as possible in her home in Green Valley, Arizona and her wishes came true.

    In her last weeks, her breathing was assisted by a ventilator and communication limited to lip reading and writing, however, she still had much to say! She wanted to know about all the people around her, was happy to hear about Thomas MacEntee’s growing career as an e-book author and speaker, and footnoteMaven’s latest edition of Shades of the Departed. She was interested in Amy Coffin’s research and Joan Miller’s travels; both geneabloggers she met while working on the SCGS Jamboree Geneablogger Welcome Bags. She wanted to know everything about everyone.

    Mom was a enthusiastic supporter of new ideas and new projects. She loved hearing about A.C. Ivory and Elyse Doerflinger, young genealogists with energy and zeal for the great ancestor hunt. She hoped that one of her own grandchildren would be bitten by the “genie bug” and continue the search for her Winsor ancestors. She loved meeting so many geneabloggers at Jamboree.

    It is hard to fathom that I will now be searching alone for those rascally Schiffbauer boys, or for the final Chamblin connection. Instead of picking up the telephone to say “Hey Mom, guess what I found out?” I will be typing notes to myself, and wishing she were there.

    My greatest regret is that I did not finish a family genealogy or history that would have helped her make sense of those convoluted cousin relationships she tried to unscramble. I thought we had lots of time; but we didn’t. I do hope, however, that, as our friend Sheri Fenley noted, Mom is now meeting the Windsor family she knew she had, and perhaps even making the acquaintance of a few cousins new to her as well.

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