This Bird Does It

Librarian ramblings


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!


Versatile Blogger

versatile-awardSo, I take more than a week off from this little blogging project and come back to find I’ve been nominated for the Versatile Blogger Award.  Now, in fairness, the sweet Genealogy Lady nominated me, and I think she might have been reaching since she was trying to only name folks she hadn’t nominated before, but it doesn’t diminish the fun of it.  Thank you so much, Deborah!  You can read her stuff at Genealogy Lady, World War II, one letter at a time.

I have seen a few of these award things around, but this is my first experience with them.  Yes, it’s a bit cheesy, but it’s an excellent way to get me going again.  I just haven’t been able to sit an write this week, and I really don’t know why.  So, here’s the deal with the award:

1. Thank the person who nominated you and include a link to their blog. (done)

2. Nominate 15 blogs for the Versatile Blogger Award, link to their page, and leave a comment notifying them of the  newly bestowed honor. (hmm, better start thinking.)

3. Tell seven things about myself. (That will be easier, but I better nominate others first.)


Okay, nominations…

1.) The Sassy Pear

2.) The Insane and The Impossible

3.) Observations From The Cracked

4.) my family is not broken

5) Two Caged Birds


You know, I just don’t have 15.  I haven’t been blogging, or reading blogs, long enough to know 15 who should be nominated.  Yup, I’m gonna leave it at five.  If I come up with more, I’ll add them, but for now, it’s just five.


Now, seven things about me.

1.) I am a child of God.  I’m also a wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, blah, blah, blah.  But first, I’m a child of God.

2.) I absolutely love sushi.  I don’t get to eat it enough because my family doesn’t eat it, but I love it.

3.) I am a direct descendant of Gov. William Bradford.  I don’t care enough to actually join the General Society of Mayflower Descendants, but I’ve confirmed the lineage with them, and I might someday if the kids want want to apply for scholarships.  I’m also a direct descendant of the first Italian American, Pietro Cesare Alberti.  He married a Dutch woman, and thus ends my Italian heritage.

4.) I haven’t grown my natural hair color out since I was 13.

5.) I was 40 years old before I figured out what I wanted to be when I grew up.

tongue6.) My most favorite leisure activity in the whole world is reading a good book in a comfy chair with a warm (or cold, depending on the season) beverage.  It almost never happens.

7.) I can touch my nose with my tongue.  It’s not my best look, but I can do it.


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.

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Keeping Up With The Past

Just the latest stash of picture treasures from my aunt who found them in my grandmother's things.

Just the latest stash of picture treasures from my aunt who found them in my grandmother’s things.

Here’s something you might not know about me.  Or you might, depends if we’re friends in real life, or if you just met me here.  I am a bit obsessed with family history.  My parents both grew up here in Ohio, but we moved away when I was just four.  I had a great childhood, and I had good relationships with my grandparents despite being a 14 hour drive away most of my life.  I also had Bonus Grandparents in my life.  Older couples in the church, especially, who loved and encouraged me like grandparents, who watched me grow from a goofy junior high student to an even goofier high school student, to college student, to young woman.  Then I decided I needed to go “home.”

So, my whole life my parents had come “home” for Christmas, or graduations and other family gatherings.  I had a wonderful home to grow up in, but there was no doubt in my brother’s and my minds that “home” was in Ohio.  And, living in the South, one is never encouraged to forget one’s Yankee heritage.  I went to college in the South, though a full six-hour drive from my parents, so I knew I could live far from them.  Not that I didn’t have a good relationship with them, but I’m just telling you, something was calling me.  And I knew they would always come back to Ohio.  All my grandparents were living still, and I’d certainly see more of my parents in Ohio than if I picked up and moved to California.  And nothing was calling me to the West Coast.

And then there’s “him.”  I didn’t know who “he” was, yet, but I knew he wasn’t south of the Mason-Dixon.  Stupid, isn’t it?  I moved to Ohio, and met him within the first year.  We were living together inside of a few months, and married a couple years later.  I just think that’s how it was supposed to happen, and nobody will convince me otherwise.  But I don’t believe in fate.  That’s an entry for a different day.

But the point of all this is that I decided, while living in Atlanta, that I needed to go north.  I needed to get closer to those roots.  And when I moved here and took a job waiting tables and doing catering service at the now gone Buckeye Hall of Fame Cafe, I met an older couple one night who knew my grandparents in Marion, just 50 miles up the road.  Never, ever, in my entire life had I run into someone who just knew my grandparents.  Never.  I was so excited I just wanted to scream, “I belong here!  My PEOPLE hail from this place!  I HAVE ROOTS!”  Overreacting?  Probably, but nobody has ever accused me of being under-emotional.  Ever.

Now I live in the Columbus area and I trek up to Marion to see my cousins, and one remaining grandparent.  I drive right over the land that was once a family farm belonging to my paternal grandmother’s family.  I go to the church my parents and maternal grandparents were married in, which is almost across the street from the fire station where my maternal grandmother’s father was Chief, in a town where HIS father was a police officer in the 19th century.  If you go a little further north up 23, you’ll come to the area my maternal grandfather’s family comes from.  There’s a pretty large group of that family that still holds a reunion each year up there.  I never knew who any of those people were until I came back to Ohio, although my mother played with those cousins on family farms as a child.

I’ve done so much genealogy research now that I know quite a bit about each of those lines of my family.  I know that the Marion Cemetery has graves of my ancestors throughout, not to mention the dozen or so small cemeteries dotted about Marion and Crawford counties.  I even found one branch of my paternal grandfather’s family that is directly descended from Gov. William Bradford of the Mayflower.  He was my 16th great-grandfather.  And another branch of his family is directly descended from Pietro Cesare Alberti, first Italian immigrant to America.  (That’s where my Italian heritage ends, though.  He married a Dutch woman.)

THOSE are some roots.  It turns out the most recent immigrant in my family is before 1900.  Every single branch of my family was here before the start of the 20th century.  It doesn’t give me any special claim to fame, or privilege (beyond those otherwise afforded middle class white girls), but it does feel good.  It feels good to be able to visit so many family graves.  It feels good to be able to drive by houses where family lived 150 years ago.  It feels good to meet strangers who know who my family is, who that are, who they were.  It feels good to show my children these things.  To show them THEY have roots!  It’s like telling them they are firmly tethered.  Go out and conquer the world, kids, meet new folks, immerse yourself in other cultures, soak up all the new and the different and the strange and the wonderful that is out there.  But know that back in Ohio, there’s a 150 miles that covers almost all of your family roots for the last 250 years.  And you are American.  No more American than that Chinese guy over there who was just naturalized last year, or that Latina woman who worries every day about her illegal family members.  But everyone has roots somewhere, and yours are here.  It’s just good to know.