Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Veterans Day

I take a moment here to honor the service of my ancestors in the armed forces of the U.S. On my mothers side I have uncles who served in WW2,Korea and Vietnam.My Grandpa George W. Byers served in WW1.And I have one,James Calvert, for sure and possibly two Great Great grandfathers who served in the Civil War.James survived Andersonville prison camp. My father Vernon Ruse and two of his three brothers served in WW2.My dad spoke little about his service in the war.His discharged papers were lost when I was teen and the records burned in the Veterans fire so we have no paper trail of his service beyond the few recollections he shared and what I remember from reading his discharge papers as a child.I remember he had Bronze and Silver stars,a French sounding cross something and a Purple Heart.My father served in North Africa under Patton and was wounded and sent to England.And he was part of the march across Europe that began with D-Day.He always wished he could return and see Europe "when it wasn't tore all to hell". Manuel John Velasquez was my fathers baby half brother.He served in the Navy,my father in the Army and dads older brother Joseph Ruse in the Air Force.My uncle Stanley, Manuel's full brother was 4-f because of his vision and he worked in agriculture. I can only imagine the wonder a young man from a small valley farm town with limited education must have felt at visiting tropical posts of call. Manuel served on the U.S.S. Boise.On the evening of August 11,1942 at a place called Cape Esperance near Guadalcanal in the Pacific,the Boise engaged the enemy.The Boise sustained much damage during the battle and 107 men died.My uncle Manuel was one of them,they were all buried at sea.He was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart.His name is inscribed on the wall of Honor at the Manila American Cemetery and on the war memorial in Tracy CA. the town he joined up from. I only remember my dad talking about Manuel a few times,about how he got bit by a squirrel as a child and the older brothers got in trouble for not keeping a close enough watch on him!I have never seen a picture of him if one even exists.I still need to apply for his military records through the freedom of information act, as I would like more detail about his service and the night he died. I remember my father sitting in my living room about a month or so before the leukemia killed him when I was 24.I don't remember how we got on the subject but I asked about Manuel.I can still remember the way my fathers voice sounded when he said"my little baby brother Manuel." The grief,the loss,over 30 years later.Time does not heal all wounds,some losses are forever.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

What did your ancestors read?

Abe Books is a Internet seller of books with a amazing selection.They have just sent me a email called "Trench Literature-Reading in WW 1,by Richard Davies, Udo Goellmann & Sara Melendre" you have ancestors who served in WW1 in is very interesting to read what the soldiers themselves were likely reading for entertainment.The article even delves into the different reading material that a college educated officer might have read versus the rank and file and what soldiers other than Americans would have been reading. A bit of history to add to our ancestor research.I don't work for Abe Books or anything though I have bought numerous books through them successfully and find them a great source for rare and out of print or used books for my genealogy research.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Music of our live's

Last night on Randy Seavers Genea-Musings blog he did his Saturday night genealogy fun post.It was basically name your all time favorite song. It was great fun to read everyone's posts but I chickened out on participating. However it got me thinking about my mothers memorial service and the music c.d. I made for it. My mom Marie Francis Byers, b. 4-10-1927 died June 4,2006.She was cremated and we did a simple memorial at my brothers house.My brother and I talked about doing some music for the memorial.I sat down at my computer and strangely enough songs came flooding back to me.Songs I had not heard in 40 years,song titles my parents had said but I had never really heard the song. With the wonders of the internet I was able to make a c.d. of the songs our mother sang to us as children,like,"How much is that doggie in the window?"and "Que Sera Sera".I was able to hear for the first time a song my mother said was one of her favorites,one that she would hear at dances she attended before she married my father,"Cherry Pink and Apple-blossom White".Songs my parents played when we were kids like,"Make the World Go Away" and "Help me make it through The Night". It is amazing how much music can trigger memories,like scents,songs seem to capture moments in time in our lives and just hearing a few notes from a song can take us back to times,places and people who are no longer with us. I sometimes wonder about how much music was a part of my ancestors lives,what they listened to and played.I know one branch of my Castro family were very musically inclined and I believe there is a photo on my mothers side with my grandpa holding a guitar. I wonder, have others written down what music their parents liked?Your grandparents?These are the things that make these people real and alive and not just names and dates on a paper.It's never to soon the write our favorite songs down as well,thanks Randy!But I think I am going to have to go with my top ten-or twenty!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Wordless Wednesday

Above the baptismal font,Mission San Juan Bautista,CA.

Monday, August 31, 2009


After not being able to write for awhile it's nice to sit down and let my thoughts run.On Saturday I watched the funeral of Teddy Kennedy.For my whole life there has been a Kennedy in Washington.I know this family evokes strong feelings in people one way or another.all I can say is I'm a blue collar,working class girl from a family of the same and though they were far removed from any life my people ever lived I grew up knowing they worked for people like us.Most of what I remember about John Kennedy was learned after the fact as I was only 3 when he died.I do have a blurry black and white picture of me in front of a t.v. set with him on it.It could not have been long before he died.Bobby I have a real,live memory of.He stopped in Stockton at the Southern Pacific railroad station that was just a few blocks from where we lived just 6 days before he was assassinated.I remember my dad pushing through the crowd to the train and holding my brother Vernon who was 3 up to him and Bobby reaching down to shake my brothers little hand.Shortly after that I moved away from Stockton forever.
Watching Teddy's funeral did evoke the end of something,maybe the knowledge that for those of us with memory's of the brothers lives our time is passing swiftly .For me the memory for Ted will be it getting so dark you could not make out the casket anymore so they showed the eternal flame and the bugler playing taps,flag at half mast, silhouetted dark against the lit building on the hill above.Darkness giving privacy at the end to a family who's life's and death's have been so very public.
I will be 50 in November,my parents have become ancestors,I have become the one of the old ones.Not everyone is given that gift.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

I Spent Some Money Today

I don't have enough family photos,to much moving around as kid.So I have taken to adding the occasional postcard or old photo off eBay,or from antique stores, to my family history.I have imagines of main street in towns I lived in as a child in the same time period.Postcards of buildings and town's in the time frame my ancestors lived there.I even found a old postcard of the hospital I was born in!It's a fun,inexpensive way to add some image pizazz to your family history. Till today,I was bad,very,very bad.I did not have any stereo views before.And it showed the interior of the Mission church that multiple family members of mine have been baptized,married and buried from.It's pretty rare I think.It better be.When I get it I will post it for everyone to see.I am glad I got it though,rare or not.I have always loved walking in the church of San Juan Bautista.Knowing my ancestors walked on the same adobe tiles imprinted with coyotes paws,touching the font they were baptized in,making the same final walk their earthly bodies were carried on to the cementerio.I loved that place even before I knew for sure that it was part of me.I will treasure the picture.Even if the price was dear.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Truck Driver

My dad drove a truck.For most of my growing up years until he retired Vernon Ruse drove for the Anderson Cartage Co. out of Stockton CA.He tried long haul before I was born and for a bit when I was a baby but most of his life was spent driving up and down the valley on the then main road highway 99.In the years my dad drove a truck you loaded and unloaded it pretty much yourself.No air shocks or plush seats.It was a hard,physical job.But not as hard as the job it helped him escape from,working in the fields or cannery's.Cutting grapes or chopping cotton.Driving a tractor or laying irrigation pipe.It was a way out,and up.A union job.when that really meant something.Medical,a retirement,decent wages,and a turkey every Christmas.My parents often told me about when the truckers union went on strike for 6 months when I was very small,maybe a year or so old.My mom and dad cut grapes to make ends meet.They told me they set me in a high chair in the shade at the end of the row while they worked.We bathed in the river and slept in the car.All this is probably child abuse today but then it was survival,and the norm for farm workers children.My father and mother made sure it was temporary for us.My dad worked long hours and many days,he did not get to see much of us kids growing up,that was normal for family's in those days to.He did not have hobbies,he worked.The places he would talk about read like a litany of small town California-Merced,Madera,Colinga,Oakdale,Patterson,Vacaville,Dinuba and Kerman.Small towns that needed goods delivered in the days before Wal Marts and Superstores.I remember him talking about delivering appliances for the new housing subdivisions going in around Sacramento and Stockton.Delivering to the Army Depot.And a winter night around 1967-68 he came home from work late at night with two toes crushed by a 50 gallon drum.The company he worked for got a special order to do a emergency delivery to Travis Air base of inbalming fluid.They were loading it on planes for Vietnam because they were running out there.A drum had rolled off the hand truck during unloading and rolled over dad's foot.He never got the feeling back in those toes.
It remains my most vivid memory of the Vietnam war.

Monday, August 10, 2009

16th Edition of Smile for the Camera--Bling

As a family-we are pretty much blingless.On my moms side there is my great-grandfather ElmondAlphonsa Arnold who was a jeweler.But I think that may have been more of a watchmaker,repairman than what we think of as jeweler today.But moms ancestors are plain,sturdy,southern stock.No bling in the few pictures I have of them. Dads Spanish/Mexican Californiano people would have lost anything they might have had that was bling in the battle to just survive the changing world they lived in.And the frontier life of Early California would have saw little use for decoration. Now I love bling.I don't live the kind of life nor have the funds for the real variety of bling but I do have a nice collection of costume jewelry that is great fun though I no longer add to it,to expensive and I really have no room for more.But here I decided to take a picture of the few family pieces I have and some little trinkets that have sentimental value that I hope will be passed on for that reason alone. The jewelry box belonged to my mother.She saw it in a store window every night when she walked home from her waitress job in Stockton Ca. in the mid 1950's.That jewelery box cost a weeks wages.Mom was not one to hang on to things and the only reason this is still in the family is she eventually gave it to her mother who later gave it back to me. The ring on the left was my moms,a gift from a boyfriend before my dad,it is the only "fine" jewelery in the picture.A pierdot set in platinum with diamonds.The other ring is my birthstone and was my 16Th birthday gift from my parents. The little dog pin was a birthday gift from my Aunt Delfino,anyone remember Sarah Coventry jewelery? The Thunderbird was a souvenir from the Thunderbird Hotel in Las Vegas,it hung on my parents keys on and off for years until they gave it to me to play with. The mustard seed was given to me by a elderly couple that lived across the street from the little grocery store in the Stockton neighborhood were we lived from my birth till about age 7-8.Their names were Bea and Russel and they also gave me my first bible,oddly enough,they were Jewish.My parents had a number of elderly friends,I was taught to honor my elders from the beginning. The mans ring my father wore before he died and the little turtle pin I won as a child. The pin in the center belonged to my fathers mother,Estella Garcia Ruse Velasquez,the only thing we have of hers. The elephant pin was a souvenir of the San Francisco Zoo from a grade school trip I took. The rhinestone bracelet was a dime store purchase I made for my mother one mothers day. My late,former mother-in-law Juanita Marie Parker Hussey was a wonderful woman that I still miss a great deal.The dress watch at the top was a engagement gift from her future husband Martin Steven Hussey in the early 1950's.The bottom watch belong to my maternal grandmother May Pearl Arnold Byers. Yes,the tiny,beaded baby bracelet is mine.As many times as we moved when I was growing up it's a miracle any of this stuff is still in my possession. Oh,and the Tiara?In this family!?That's me wearing it about the second grade in the Halloween parade at school.It was purchased just for my Halloween costume at J.C. Penney's in downtown Stockton in the mid 1960's.My daughter wore it for one Halloween when she was growing up and both of my granddaughters have worn it for Halloween since then.My grandson will be a year old this September.I need to figure out a way to incorporate that tiara into a costume for him before he gets old enough to figure out what I'm up to.It's tradition!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Conflicting evidence

What to do? When you receive information about events,people, or places from various sources and they don't agree?This comes up in genealogy all the time.Sometimes you can gather a variety of evidence and then go with the majority.Some sources carry more weight than others.Some times though you have more than one "expert" or primary source and even they don't agree!With events in a individuals life I just try to record the variations until something,hopefully!,comes along to prove which event is more likely the correct one. With information on places and from different "experts" on events from the past it gets more difficult. I think because you enter more into the realm of opinion and conclusions made from a variety of evidence.Sometimes you have to go with what your best educated guess is and keep a open mind that it may change in the future and that we may never know the answer to some questions!

Friday, July 31, 2009

Genealogy Happy Dance Time!

I am going to try and get this thing off the ground.I have to write about my great news of two days ago.I had finally got around to posting on mailing list asking if anyone else was researching the surname MOTA.This was my dads paternal grandmothers maiden name.It is not a common Spanish/Mexican surname and I have not been able to place my great grandmother Susan Mota in the census before 1880.So all I knew was she was born abt.1862 in May, in California,and spoke Spanish.She married a Sicilian immigrant and was in Gilroy by the 1890's.I had found mention of a Mota in Bancroft and figured she might be a granddaughter of his.
Well a researcher of California family's came up with her full name,baptism and birth date, place and her family!It is most certainly her!I am very excited!And amazed at how many early California lines my father is descended from.Now I need to order the film to look at her baptism and make a real effort to find her on the 1870 census now that I will have some other info. to use in the search.
I want to try and find her marriage record as well.Susana Delfina Ruiz de Jesus Arroyo was born May 21,1863 and baptised June 14,1863 at Mission San Juan Bautista.