This Bird Does It

Librarian ramblings


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I won’t rant, I’ll ramble

I’ve wanted to rant for days and days, but I haven’t gotten my thoughts in order. I want to rant about all sorts of things from politics to social injustices, to neighborhood crazies on Facebook and Mommy Wars. Every time I sit down to try and sort it all out, I just keep coming back to one main thought. So what? And not “so what” in the usual way that nobody wants to really hear what I have to rant about. I’m fully aware that I’ve got a pretty, um, well, a pretty limited audience. It’s different this time in that I know I’m just adding to the problem I’m most annoyed by. I don’t really know how to fix that. I want to jump in and share my indignation, but I just can’t shake the feeling that the world is full up to the tip top with all the righteous indignation it can hold, and most of it ain’t doing anybody any good whatsoever.

Instead of trying to distill my indignation, which I assure you is super duper righteous, into any kind of actual post, or even trying to figure out how to channel it into something of some use to somebody, I spent several hours on Friday on a project of no use to anyone. Absolutely nobody on this planet is better off for knowing what I figured out in the three hours or so I spent on this task. No one will eat, sleep, or breathe any easier because of this knowledge. Yet, somehow it helped me put some things into perspective.

Let me see if I can distill THAT for you. I’ve mentioned before that I discovered a few years ago my direct descent from Gov. William Bradford. That and a five dollar bill will get me a plain red cup of coffee these days, for sure. I’ve done the math. Some THIRTY FIVE million Americans can trace their lineage to one of the 24 males on the Mayflower who produced heirs. I just ain’t that special. The cool thing is that I know all the names. ALL of them, that directly connect me to the Mayflower, and the pilgrims, and the first Thanksgiving, and all that. Now, this isn’t the time to tell me about the down side of Puritanism. I’m well acquainted with the shortcomings of this favorite American myth, but that’s not the point I’m getting at, either.

The super cool thing about knowing all those names, is that they’re all wrapped up with all sorts of other cool things going on in the country over those generations. Think about it. There just weren’t that many families back then compared to now, and even fewer of them had the means to do more than subsist. And those that did do important things often didn’t have surviving records for us to peruse today. But having an ancestor like Gov. Bradford means there’s a good chance that many of the generations in between are also well documented. So, I’ve found out some other fun things over the last few years.

For instance, Maj. James Fitch, who married Alice Richards Bradford, granddaughter of Gov. Bradford, generously donated the farmland and all the glass and nails to build the first building for what would become Yale University. James and Alice’s daughter, Lucy married Henry Cleveland, a cousin of Moses Cleaveland, credited founder of Cleveland, Ohio. Maj. James Fitch’s maternal grandfather, Henry Whitfield, was the leader of another group of puritans. They founded Guilford, Connecticut and built the Henry Whitfield home. The stone house still stands, and is a state museum.

So, I knew about Lucy Fitch Cleveland. For no particular reason, about a year ago I came across Lucy Fitch Kilbourne, first wife of James Kilbourne, founder of Worthington, my adopted hometown. I just knew there had to be a connection, given the time period and the fact that the Scioto Company came here from Connecticut, too. I wrote a bit about it when I came across the name last year. It popped up in my Timehop, Facebook memories, blah, blah, and I’d forgotten all about it. Friday seemed a good day to waste some more time on this project. I reposted the blog post on Facebook, and a genealogy enthusiast friend jumped right on it! It took us less than an hour to track down the actual connection this time. I’ll spare you the begats and begots. Here’s a chart.

Untitled presentation (12)
Clear as mud, right? Well, Paula and I were pretty psyched to figure it out. It was a lovely little diversion. Of course, I couldn’t just say MYSTERY SOLVED and go on about my productive day. That would be ludicrous. I spent another couple hours poking around the internet reading random things about the Fitches and the Kilbournes. Turns out, one of James and Lucy’s sons was Byron Kilbourne, who was one of three founders of Milwaukee, WI.

I found a few more tidbits, but they’re too convoluted to spell out. Let’s just say there’s a link to the Fitch in Abercrombie & Fitch. That doesn’t even get me a family discount, so whatever.

This is what I know now. I have even more connection to this place, Worthington, than I thought. It didn’t matter when I thought I had no ancestral connection to this town, and it doesn’t matter that I found one now. Still, for all that it doesn’t matter, or change a thing, I’ll still go visit Lucy’s grave this week. Lucy Fitch Kilbourne died in 1807 during childbirth. She and the unnamed baby girl, her eighth child, are buried together in St. John’s Episcopal Cemetery just a mile and a half up the road.

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A history/genealogy/procrastinating question? HELP!

Gov. William Bradford

James Kilbourne

Yeah, I really am the queen of procrastination. I know, I know. I’m on top of it. Despite the time I gave to this question today, I still managed five of the six to eight pages written today. But now I’m a bit obsessed. Anyone think they can help? I’d be glad to give you more information, such as I have, if you think you can provide some assistance.

For real? Anybody else like an internet research quest? I’m absolutely sure the information is out there. Probably already easily accessible.

Here it is. I am sure that Lucy Fitch Cleveland (1698-1770), granddaughter of Gov. William Bradford, governor of Plymouth must be connected somehow to Lucy Fitch Kilbourne (1770-1807), first wife of James Kilbourne, founder of Worthington, Ohio. Seriously. There MUST be some connection. The Cleveland Lucy Fitch is my eighth great grandmother.

Pretty sad that you can’t get pictures of the women, but their male connections are readily available. That’s a rant for another day.

So, genealogists, researchers, librarians, archivists, internet enthusiasts! Somebody help me!


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Three down, thirty-three to go…

First MLIS class is complete.  First paper of grad school is complete.  I feel pretty confident I will get an A minus, but an A is still possible.  There are four assignments and the final paper still to be graded.  Man, I’d love to start this journey off with an honest to goodness 4.0, A.  Once you get something less, it can never get back to the 4.0, right?  On the other hand, bursting the bubble right out of the gate with a 3,7 A minus might just take the pressure off.  I can spend the rest of my grad school career trying to see how many digits I can put the 3.99999 out there.  So, anyway, three credit hours complete, thirty-three to go.  I’ve already registered for my summer classes, which don’t start until June, and fall registration is a week from Monday.  It suddenly seems like it’s going very fast.  I’m sure I won’t feel like that when I spend the next eight weeks or so doing NOTHING toward graduation.  That’s a little frustrating.  I wish I’d figured this half-semester class thing out in time to register for another class for the last half of spring term.  But I didn’t, so I will enjoy the time off and dive in head first in June.

I’m still fat.  No big surprise there.  I’m a stress eater and it’s been a struggle all weekend with working on that final paper.  I didn’t go completely crazy.  I didn’t actually give myself permission to eat whatever I wanted, so that’s good.  I’m pretty sure I didn’t lose anything, but I don’t think I gained anything, either.  I guess I better take advantage of this time without classes to get a handle on some lifestyle changes if I want to be successful at getting my health under control.  I’m having a sneaky little thought that is starting to piss me off.  I may actually have to get off my butt sooner than later.  I can’t wait until I’m “successful” at dieting.  It just doesn’t make sense.  I’m going to have to sweat.  On purpose.  Oooh, how I hate that.  I’m making peace with it, but I’m not happy about it.

And, oh boy you’re going to get sick of me!  I’ve got several writing assignments I want to give myself now that I have time off school.  One is to tell you my grandmother’s stories as I know them.  I also want to gather as much as I can on my grandfathers’ military histories.  My maternal grandfather was in the Navy, my paternal grandfather in the Army.  One is gone now and the other is not exactly a reliable source anymore.  I need to gather the memories of those who knew them while I can.  I want to write it down for my children.

And I want to rant about Victoria’s Secret and their new line for tweens.  It’s all over the internet, I’m sure you’ve heard about it by now.  If you haven’t, Google Victoria’s Secret “bright young things.”  After you get out from under your rock, of course.  Yes, there’s a nice minister dad who wrote an open letter to VS about his daughter and what he thinks of the line, but frankly he was too soft.  This crap isn’t appropriate at 25, let alone nine.  I can’t imagine ever putting the words “Call Me” anywhere on my body, let alone my underwear.  Whatever, I’m too giddy to give this rant my proper attention tonight.

I’m going to go enjoy my adult beverage and wallow in my feeling of accomplishment.  I’ve completed something on this journey.  I can DO this!  I’m so PUMPED!


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Interesting Lady and Names

I’m just learning to navigate this world of blogs, but so far one of my favorite things is finding writing prompts.  I’m finding lots of people writing about their mothers and grandmothers working outside the home.  I could write about that, too, but it isn’t that exciting.  Mom worked in retail when we first moved south and up through junior high.  One grandmother was a nurse, the other a secretary.  Exciting stuff.  Eh, okay.

But my great grandmother was a character.  She was my paternal grandfather’s mother.  She was born Toni Barbara Sand, but apparently there was a boy named Tony in her class and she didn’t like that.  So as soon as she was legally able, she changed her first name to Antonia.  She went by Toni her whole life, but legally she was Antonia, and there were no boys named Antonia around.

Toni and her car, the first motor car in Crawford county.

Toni and her car, the first motor car in Crawford county.

Great Grandma and Grandpa, young and in love.  They look ornery, don't they?

Great Grandma and Grandpa, young and in love. They look ornery, don’t they?

The thing I find even more interesting about Toni, is that sometimes it was Tony.  And at least once it was Toney.  How can that be?  My name is Elli, and I have spent my life correcting people.  No, it’s not Ellie, or Elly, or for heaven’s sake not Eli.  I correct people.  I almost never just let it stand.  If you write Elly, that’s not really my name.  But Toni was very good at marking pictures with names, and she marked her own name in all three ways.  Maybe it was different with her mood.  Who knows.

Along those lines, I have a more observations about names.  We all know how names were changed as folks came to this country from other lands.  Names were changed to reflect a desire to assimilate in the country where they’re hoping to create a different life.  They changed their names just to make it easier to spell, or to pronounce, or just to break ties with an old life.  They changed their names to escape debt, or just to start over.  Toni’s father was George, and he came from Alsace with his father, also George, and brothers, John and Michael.  The ship’s manifest, however, shows Georg, and sons Georg, Jean, and Michael.  I don’t know if they made conscious decisions to change the names, but I’ve never seen anything else of theirs spelled that way.

In census records I have found all sorts of discrepancies in spelling.  Anyone who does genealogy research finds that frustration pretty quickly, especially as we use databases indexed by humans trying to read the handwriting of other (sometimes less educated) humans.  Sometimes names are unrecognized.  Sometimes they’re just off a little.  Literacy rates are at play here, I’m sure.  But so is our digitized world.  If my name is spelled wrong, maybe they won’t be able to pull up my records at the doctor’s office.  But if you couldn’t read, or even if you could, you probably didn’t correct the census taker.  So, not only did folks change their names for all sorts of reasons, but their names existed in various forms.  Spelling was fluid lots of times.  Dynamic.  How different from today.

Today it’s a huge decision for a woman to change her name when she gets married.  Obviously, it wasn’t even a decision not so long ago.  You get married, you take his name.  It’s not that you had no choice, it was just that nobody gave it any thought.  It was basically a given.  But slowly over the years, some women didn’t change their names.  More and more it was acceptable to NOT change your name.  You can keep the name you were born with, spelled just like your parents spelled it when they filled out the paperwork in the hospital.  What a novel thought.  Now it’s a real decision.  I took my husband’s name because it was right for me, and for him, but I have plenty of friends who made a different decision.  It is just as valid a decision, but I am glad I won’t be doing genealogy research on them.

I think that plays on our thoughts of permanent identity, too.  I have mixed feeling about that and maybe I’ll expound on that in a future entry.

I guess that’s all I have today.  I started out wanting to tell you about my great grandmother and what a character she was.  I got a bit off track, but she was a character.  And a wonderful one.  I’m lucky to have so many memories of her, as she lived to be 100 years old, passing away when I was 24.  I can’t find it, but somewhere there is a picture of me with her.  We are both touching our tongues to our noses.