Summer Family Fun Begins

It’s not even summer (sure feels like it though!) and my genealogy adventures have begun. Yesterday I visited a suburb of Charlotte, NC to meet two of my second cousins – Marcia Moore and her brother Gene Moore. They were in town from California because Gene’s grandson is graduating from high school Tuesday night.

Here’s a picture of three generations of the Kingsbury family – Marcia and I are the bookends for Dylan Vassily and his mother, Carolyn Moore Vassily. Moore is the married name of Marcia and Gene’s mother, Josephine Kingsbury Moore, the first child born to Frank and Anna Kingsbury.Kingsburys.3 generations.6.12.16 Here’s a link if you want to read more about our visit and see some of the family photos Marcia brought to share with me. Yes – it’s a bit uncanny that Marcia and I are wearing tops of the same color. I am so glad I finally got to meet her. I can’t wait to collaborate on family stories with her.

If there’s anyone out there wondering if it is worth it to create a family history blog – I can assure you – the answer is YES!!! Marcia contacted me because she discovered my blog “The Family Letter Blog” when she was searching for information on the Kingsbury family.  Be sure to include categories and tags and you might be surprised what you’ll discover.



Meeting a Kingsbury Cousin in 10 Days!

Never underestimate the power of social media and blogging to connect you to your relatives. About six weeks ago I got an email from Marcia Moore who discovered The Family Letter Blog in a Google search for the Kingsbury Family.

Marcia lives in California and I recognized her name as Josephine Kingsbury Moore’s daughter. I’ve spent a lot of time reading my grandfather Kingsbury’s contribution to the family letter that made its way across the country for decades during the mid-1900s. It was the primary way that the five Kingsbury brothers who had grown up in Osage Iowa at the end of the 19th century and early 20th century kept in touch with each other once they’d moved away and started families of their own.

Josephine’s father Frank Kingsbury was the brother who stayed in Iowa and worked in the family hardware store with his father, Wayland Briggs Kingsbury. Here’s a brief article from the Omaha World Herald from June 3, 1951 announcing the sale of the hardware store in Osage. I have a much better one from the Osage, IA paper with a picture of Frank that I’ll add as soon as I find it.


Long before my current interest in family history I wanted to meet Josephine. Somehow I knew that my grandfather thought very highly of her and since she was living in Carson City Nevada when I was living in southern California it seemed reasonable to think we might get together. For the brief time in the mid-1990s that I was in the family letter loop we even talked about the possibility of a family reunion. Maybe some day.

So even though I didn’t get to meet Josephine, I’m happy that I will get to meet her daughter Marcia when she visits Charlotte NC for her great nephew’s high school graduation next weekend.

You can see what my grandfather wrote about his niece Josephine and her family when he spent Thanksgiving in Osage Iowa 50 years ago by checking today’s post on The Family Letter Blog.


Happy Birthday Bryant Kingsbury

If he were alive, my father would be 84 years old today. I recently discovered I had some pictures of him as a child and they are quite adorable. The caption on the following picture indicates it was taken at Brice House in Annapolis Maryland when my father was two years old.


Brice House

The Wikipedia entry for Brice House indicates it was used for faculty housing for St. John’s college. I wonder if my grandfather ever lived there? Probably not, but he certainly taught at St. Johns for at least four years during the early part of his marriage.

My father at 10, 11 and 14 months. The lower right picture is one of the most handsome pictures of my grandfather I have ever seen. I know he loved to swim in the ocean.

In the methodical organized way one might expect of a college professor, my grandfather captured the milestones of his first-born son. My father was born in Bethesda, Maryland on May 30, 1932. His father was a professor at St. John’s College in Annapolis Maryland so I’m guessing that Kitty was living with her parents when it came time to deliver. Her parents, Herbert and Elizabeth Bryant,were long time residents of the District of Columbia – 435 Rittenhouse Street, NW.

My father spent his early years in Washington DC. The family moved to Bloomington Indiana in the late 1940s when my grandfather accepted a position on the faculty at Indiana University. My father was active in Boy Scouts and enjoyed photography and spelunking.

I attribute much of my l0ve of nature to my father’s influence. We spent many weekends camping and fishing. He taught me about birds and plants but more than anything specific it was just an appreciation for spending time outdoors. In his later years my father lived close to the coast  – first on the Northern Neck of VA and then on the Currituck Sound in North Carolina. He was always happy near the coast and I know he loved his time in the Navy, especially when he sailed from Bremerton, Washington to Mayport, Florida on the Franklin Delano Roosevelt aircraft carrier. It was too large to fit through the Panama Canal, which is why it sailed around Cape Horn.

Thank-you to my Genealogy Guardian Angel!

Before I was “into” genealogy, I had a few family photos that I was happy to have but didn’t think that much about. This weekend I realized how much I treasure those photos.

I’m still struggling to figure out how to arrange and organize my old family photos but at a minimum I try to keep them in one location (safe archival box) until I can create an index and store them in a “safe” permanent home. Ideally in frames on my walls – but I feel I need to organize them first. I need to know what I have before I can arrange them on a gallery wall.

So here’s a story that will make my genealogy friends cringe. I got a new scanner in March, just before my husband and I made a trip to visit one of his new-found cousins who we hadn’t met before. Dominic Renzi is 85 and lives in New Jersey. His step-mother was Lena George – my husband’s great aunt – who married Nick Renzi when Dominic was ten years old. So Dominic has lots of George family history and we got lots of good stories during our visit and scanned many of the photos that line the walls of his apartment.


√ – Checked

This past weekend I went to Richmond, VA to celebrate Mother’s Day with my 82-year old mother and help her clear out her shed. Her younger brother (who is actually 3 years younger than me and was adopted by my grandparents when I was 4) joined us for dinner on Saturday. Earlier in the week I called to ask if he had any family photos that he could bring for me to scan – he thought he might.

On Saturday when we talked to arrange the details for dinner, Ken thought the only pictures he had were “my” pictures that I had given him to scan a few years ago.  He said a lot of them were from Nana’s 80th birthday party and some of my baby pictures.“My pictures???” I was puzzled. I didn’t remember giving Ken any pictures to scan. Continue reading

Today’s Family History Adventure

map.5.6.16I’m driving to Richmond, VA today to spend Mother’s Day weekend with my mother. From Greensboro, NC, where I live, there are two primary options for driving to VA. One is on interstate highways 40 E to 85 N to 95 N. It is about a 3.5 to 4 hour drive. Interstate highway all the way but not very scenic.

My preferred route, which doesn’t take much longer and is much more scenic, is to take Route 29 N to Danville, Va then head east on Route 58, and Northeast on Route 360 all the way to Richmond. This route passes small Virginia towns and lots of farmland. I much prefer it. There are also many options as you approach Farmville, VA; continue east on Route 360 through Amelia County, or swing North and go into Richmond on Route 60.

This second option passes through counties where my Virginia ancestors are from; Prince Edward, Cumberland and Buckingham. If I’m able to leave early enough, I like to squeeze in at least one courthouse or cemetery visit en route. The dilemma is deciding which one. On one of my earlier trips I stopped by the Prince Edward County Courthouse in Farmville to research the Hubbard family. I’ve also visited a beautiful cemetery in Prospect Va., where the oldest daughter in that family is buried but I haven’t found the graves of Henry and Mary Jane Hubbard, my 3x great grandparents.

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L is for the Liberty Antiques Festival

laf signLiberty is a small town about 21 miles southeast of Greensboro, NC surrounded by farms and fields. It anchors the north eastern end of Piedmont Land Conservancy’s Liberty-Randleman farmland corridor, an effort started 17 years ago to protect more than 500 contiguous acres farmland before growth and development intervened. Many of the farms in the area were protected by the landowners’ generous donation of their development rights. Other than some federal and state conservation tax benefits, the landowners received nothing in return for giving up the development rights to their land. They wanted to insure that the way of life they’d grown up with would continue to exist for their grandchildren’s grandchildren.

Long before I started working for a land conservation organization whose mission is to preserve farmland, I valued the ability to drive through farmland within just a few minutes of leaving my suburban neighborhood. There is something restorative about driving through green pastures, crops in the fields and livestock grazing. So every year, when I read about the Liberty Antiques Festival  I’ve thought, maybe this year I’ll go. Even though it is held twice a year, in April and October, it tends to fall on a weekend when there’s a lot going on. April and October are busy months for me at work and home.

LibertyAntiquesFestivalThis year the festival will be held on Friday and Saturday, April 29th and 30th. As with past years, I have a conflict for Saturday – camping with my Girls Scout troop. But just maybe, I’ll find a way to scoot down there on Friday. Maybe this will be the year I finally get there.

B is for Bright Star on Broadway

Bright StarEarlier this month my family took a trip to New York City. It was our kids’ (Sarah, 26 and Will, 23) first trip to New York and their first Broadway play. Although I traveled to New York on business several times (more than 20 years ago) and we visited Rick’s sister when she lived there (more than 30 years ago) this was our first visit to the city as “tourists.” Frankly, we were a little nervous about how it would go (Rick and I drove into the city on a Wednesday and the kids flew up a day later) but it was much easier than we expected. We had a great time! And despite years of our laid back southern lifestyle, Rick hasn’t lost any of his NYC driving moves.

A motivating factor in making the trip was the recent opening of Steve Martin’s and Edie Brickell’s musical – Bright Star, starring Carmen Cusack in her Broadway debut. Not so much because of the famous writers and actors but because the stage musician on banjo is Bennett Sullivan who grew up right here in Greensboro, NC. Ah yes, I’m proud to say, “I knew him when . . .”

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The Half-Way Mark

By the time I post this it will be midnight on April 15th, which marks the halfway point for this month’s writing challenges.  My primary objective is to keep up with the remaining prompts for the #AtoZchallenge and NaPoWriMo 2016. I also want to complete the prompts that are missing so far.

Here’s what’s missing from the #AtoZchallenge: B, G, I, K, L and M, which is today’s letter.

I’ve completed a poem each day this week but am lagging farther behind on this challenge and still need poems for the following days:

Day 2- A family portrait

Day 3  – A fan letter to a celebrity or historical figure or someone/something you love

Day 4 – The cruelest month

Day 6 – A poem about food

Day 7 – A Tritina

Day 8 – A poem about a flower

Day 9 – A poem with a line you’re afraid to write

Day 10 – A book spine poem

Whew!!! Six A to Z write ups and eight poems to go plus each day’s new prompt, which is a total of 3 posts per day for the rest of the month! I think I can, I think I can, I think I can ….

I think I can.4





Adrift – Day 14 of NaPoWriMo 2016

Here is today’s prompt.

Today’s prompt comes to us from TJ Kearney, who invites us to try a seven-line poem called a san san, which means “three three” in Chinese (It’s also a term of art in the game Go). The san san has some things in common with the tritina, including repetition and rhyme. In particular, the san san repeats, three times, each of three terms or images. The seven lines rhyme in the pattern a-b-c-a-b-d-c-d


Majestic white clouds drift by in the blue sky

Above the maze of springtime shades of green

Sailing like swans, aloft on the gentle breeze.

Alone and free on a sea of blue they drift by

Bending slender necks they pause to preen

Earthbound, I gaze up and wonder whether

I’d like to sail away on wind-swept seas

or like a tree embrace my earthly tether.