Saturday, December 31, 2011

Surname Saturday – MOREHEAD

Recorded as Morshead, Moorhead, Morehead, and possibly others, this is a name chiefly to be found in Ulster, Northern Ireland. It is a dialectal of the Scottish locational surname 'Muirhead', which derives from the word "muir", a variant of "moor", and "heid", the head or end (of the moor). states “that the name is from one of the sons of Muireadoch of the Kings of Ireland known to have come over to Scotland in the 6th century and known to be a Clan very ancient.”  The Surname data base website adds that the first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Sir William Muirhead, which was dated circa 1399 - in the "Records of Lachope", Scotland, during the reign of King Robert III of Scotland, 1390 - 1406.

Our family records begin much later in Virginia with Burrel MOREHEAD.  Burrel MOREHEAD, son of Thomas MOREHEAD, was born abt. 1822 in Virginia.  He married Sarah FLINN (O’FLYNN) abt. 1845 in Virginia.  By 1850, their family relocated to Monmouth, Jackson, Iowa.  In 1870 they were living in Farmer's Creek, Jackson, Iowa.

Burrel and Sarah MOREHEAD had 12 children.  My husband’s family line is traced through Burrel and Sarah’s daughter, Sara Jane MOREHEAD.  Sara Jane married Samuel Davidson DAVIS.

One of our family heirlooms is a Seth Thomas wall clock (ca. 1870) that belonged to Sarah O’Flynn MOREHEAD.  A couple of note cards are tucked inside the clock and are inscribed with Sarah’s family history.

Sarah Morehead's Clock

Family Notes in Sarah Morehead's Clock
These family note cards state that Sarah O’FLYNN married and became Mrs. Sarah O’Flynn MOREHEAD and lived in Virginia.  She gave birth and raised 12 children in her first marriage.  She married again and became Mrs. Sarah ADAMS and raised his five children.
At the time of the 1880 census, Sarah was listed as married, but Burrel was no longer present. 

Research has shown that Sarah’s second marriage was to Abel ADAMS.  Abel was the son of Amasa and Polly ADAMS, who was born in 1821 in East Aurora, Erie, New York. This was a second marriage for both of them.  He was first married to Mary Louisa TEMPLE.  Abel and Mary ADAMS had eight children.

Sarah FLINN (O’FYLNN) MOREHEAD and Abel ADAMS were married on 5 March 1885 in Iowa.

©2011 – Frank’s Daughter All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories – The Fruitcake

This is a continuing post for the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories which is hosted by GeneaBloggers as a means to encourage family historians to write about their holiday traditions. Today’s prompt is Fruitcake– Friend or Foe? 

It's sad that the fruitcake has such a reputation that it would be a blogging prompt on the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories.  It's sad, but true that a lot can be said about the holiday fruitcake.

As a kid, I really didn't care much for it.  I would pick out and discard the candied fruit (the cherries and those green things) and eat what was left of the remaining cake and nuts.  As an adult, my tastes matured so that I now enjoy the blend of textures and flavors and consume every bit of the dense confection.

The Old Fashion Claxton Fruit Cake

Every Christmas growing up we would receive a care package from our Virginia relatives that would include a 2‑lb. box of the Old Fashion Claxton Fruitcake along with other goodies like jars of Smithfield ham spread, Christmas Ribbon candy, tins of homemade cookies, and gifts for us kids.  The edibles (cookies and candy) would be gobbled up promptly by our little tribe and then eventually we'd get around to the fruitcake.  Did you know that a fruitcake can last a very, very long time without going bad?

Many years later I thought I would try making my own fruitcake.  Making a fruitcake gives you a different perspective and different options.  Since there are many, many different recipes for making a fruitcake, I chose one that did not include the red cherries or the green things.  I used dried apricots, white raisins, and lots of nuts.  After baking, I wrapped the loaves in cheesecloth drenched in apricot-brandy (the best part) and stored them in the back of my refrigerator for about a month.   The result was delicious!

©2011 – Frank’s Daughter All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories – Holiday Parties: Family, Food, and Photos

This is a continuing post for the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories which is hosted by GeneaBloggers as a means to encourage family historians to write about their holiday traditions. Today’s prompt is HolidayParties. 

Most of the Christmas holiday parties I experienced as a kid were part of our family gatherings.  There would always be an abundance of food, egg nog (spiked for the adults) or hot chocolate if you didn’t like egg nog, and lots and lots of cookies.  Cheerful holiday music set the tone at the gatherings and provided a festive background while conversations flowed.   

Dressing up was common for these gatherings.  The men usually wore nice slacks, maybe a blazer or perhaps a festive vest or sweater, while the ladies donned skirts and dresses in seasonal greens, reds, or possibly a Scottish plaid.  

Family Gathering + Food/Drink + Cheerful Music + Holiday Dress = Kodak moments.

(Left to right) Elma, Eva, Mary, Alice*, and Fred (sitting in chair).
December 26, 1969 in Richmond, Virginia
Here is a Christmas photo of the EMMERSON siblings
seizing that Kodak (photo) moment. 
*Alice is my maternal grandmother.

©2011 – Frank’s Daughter All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories – Santa Claus and the Evidence of Believing

This is a continuing post for the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories which is hosted by GeneaBloggers as a means to encourage family historians to write about their holiday traditions. Today’s prompt is Santa Claus. 

I checked the word 'believe' in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary today.  It said that to believe is "to accept something as true, genuine, or real."  Furthermore, it means "to accept the evidence of."  Then it struck me, as a genealogist, I am always searching for evidence!

So, instead of "sugarplums dancing in my head," the phrase "There is no truth without proof" resounds.  What I need is evidence.

I do not have any recollection of writing or visiting the magical Santa Claus so I looked though my old photos to help trigger any long forgotten memory.  I found this photo, (no memory triggered here), but it's documented proof that I actually visited Santa.

Frank's Daughter and Santa Claus
ca. 1959
I then looked at my own life and recall receiving many gifts signed, "Santa Claus."  All my siblings and other family members received gifts signed by Santa as well.  Those gift tags have long since been lost (by fire, trash compactor, etc.)

As for his magical qualities, I have to surmise that they exist because how else could I be standing right next to the jolly old elf in Virginia while my husband and his brothers are posed next to him in a similar photo, at the same time, but across the continent in California.

But again, as the family genealogist, the more records I gather, the more confidence I gain to the truthfulness of his existence.  One usually leaves some kind of paper trail; therefore, I turn to historical records.

With the help of FamilySearch, I found Santa Claus on the 1930 U.S. Census living in Marshall, Missouri with other family members but it lists him born in 1888.  I'm not sure, but I believe Santa Claus should be older than this guy (b. abt. 220 A.D.), so perhaps this guy is a cousin or was just named after the famous Claus. There were a couple of other similar occurrences on the U.S. Social Security Death Index - those weren't promising.

This was tough work so I decided to seek guidance on how to determine what kind of proof should suffice.  I typed in a couple of search parameters in Google and found the Genealogical Proof Standard.  I read though its required elements and decided that this is my hobby not my profession!  It's too much work for this article and way too much work to find solid evidence of Santa Claus who is not even in my family tree.  Furthermore, as Thomas MacEntee mentions in the How it Works section of theAdvent Calendar, this is meant to be fun not a burden.

Therefore, I will just take the easy route and just 'believe' with the few facts I have on hand, the historical evidence of my own Christmas past, and let the professional genealogist or the Claus family historian hunt for the proof of this mythical, magical man called Santa Claus.

©2011 – Frank’s Daughter All Rights Reserved

Monday, December 5, 2011

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories – Our Outdoor Tree

This is a continuing post for the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories which is hosted by GeneaBloggers as a means to encourage family historians to write about their holiday traditions. Today’s prompt is Outdoor Decorations.

I'd say that our old neighborhood had a nice distribution of holiday decorations.  Some eaves were lined with colorful lights, an occasional lighted star, or windows frosted with canned snow.  A good portion of our neighbors got into the spirit of outdoor Christmas d├ęcor, but it would actually be our house that would become a beacon in our neighborhood.

I don't know if the trees were originally on the property or whether they were planted when the house was built in 1947, but when Mom and Dad purchased our California home in the early 1960's, the driveway wrapped around two very tall trees: one pine and one eucalyptus.  The house was positioned on top of a small hill and Dad thought it would be great to string Christmas lights on the pine tree to give a festive touch to our house and our neighborhood.

My Kids Playing with the Old Outdoor Lights

Dad commandeered help from my brothers since they were light and agile and could easily climb up the tall metal ladder that was braced against the tree. The strands had the large orange, red, green and blue painted glass type bulbs; the kind that got very hot within a couple of minutes.  I’m not sure how many strands were used but it was quite a sight once lite and could be seen a couple of neighborhoods away.

Dad installed the lights so that they could be controlled by a switch in the garage.  After New Year's he would disconnect the cord but leave the string of lights up in the branches of the tree.  Each year following, my brothers were sent up to secure the strings and replace any burnt out blubs and any that had lost their colorful paint. 

This ritual went on for several years until eventually the follow-up bulb replacement activity ceased and Dad decided to switch the tree lights on during other times...middle of summer, Super Bowl evening, or whenever the festive mood struck him.  As a teenager this became kind of awkward…but, on the brightside (pun intended) we could always find our way home.

©2011 – Frank’s Daughter All Rights Reserved

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories – The Ward's First Card

This is a continuing post for the AdventCalendar of Christmas Memories which is hosted by GeneaBloggers as a means to encourage family historians to write about their holiday traditions. Today’s prompt is Christmas Cards.

In October of 1933, my husband’s parents eloped and were married in Mexicali, Mexico.  This is the Christmas card they sent out to friends and family the following year.

Christmas 1934

©2011 – Frank’s Daughter All Rights Reserved

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories – The Ornaments of New Orleans Christmas Tree

Continuing my post for the GeneaBlogger's Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories,today’s writing prompt for the Advent Calendar is Christmas Tree Ornaments:  Did your family have heirloom or cherished ornaments? Did you ever string popcorn and cranberries? Did your family or ancestors make Christmas ornaments?

We have many special ornaments collected through the years:  my daughter’s laminated handprint, a tiny cruise ship from our 25th anniversary, the polymer likeness of my son on a boogie board, my first-born’s photo surrounded by 20-year old candies glued to a paper plate, and many, many others.  Each ornament has a story, and each story is brought to mind every year when they are unpacked and hung on our tree.

But there is another story that has no ornaments, yet those ornaments were very special.
In 1965 my dad received orders for Viet Nam while our family was living on base in Quantico.  After we said goodbye to our relatives we loaded up our station wagon and left Virginia at the start of the Christmas holiday season in route for California.  Our travel plan included a Christmas Eve stop-over at a Holiday Inn in New Orleans.

Room at the Holiday Inn, ca. late 1960's
We set up a small Christmas tree on a side table in our hotel room and we all worked together to decorated it with tiny trinkets, paper snowflakes, gum wrapper chains and foil ornaments.  It was a beautiful little tree that brought the spirit of Christmas to our motel room.  Even though the ornaments were cheap and temporary, I will always remember that wonderful little tree and those very special ornaments.

It was a memorable Christmas and was the last time our family traveled across the country because Dad would retire after his tour in Viet Nam and we would settle in California for good.
©2011 – Frank’s Daughter All Rights Reserved

Friday, December 2, 2011

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories - The Virginia Ham

Continuing my posts for the GeneaBlogger's Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories, today’s writing prompt is Holiday FoodsDid your family or ancestors serve traditional dishes for the holidays?  Was there one dish that was unusual?

Our Christmas celebration has usually included the holiday ham.

We lived in Falls Church and Quantico, Virginia during our early family years.  So because Mom's family lived in Virginia, it was only natural that we would spend the holidays with them.

Thinking back on those years and prompted by "Holiday Foods," I can't help but be reminded of the distinctive salty taste of the Smithfield Ham which graced many of our holiday tables.

The Genuine Smithfield Ham
As its website states, it's "the ham that made "ham" famous."  The Smithfield Ham is aged for up to a year and dry cured with salt, lots of salt, which gives it a unique flavor unlike anything I've ever tasted.  It's a flavor that you either love or hate; I love it!

The meat is best if sliced paper thin and served on buttered rolls or biscuits to complement its smoky flavor and balance the saltiness.  It also makes great leftovers which can be fried up with eggs for breakfast.

 After our family moved to California, we received Christmas care packages from Virginia which occasionally included a ham, but more often we would receive a couple jars of Smithfield ham spread.  This was just as good to me.  The spread was one of my favorite treats.  Mixed with a little Miracle Whip, the spread would transform any cracker or finger sandwich into a culinary delight.

Nowadays, perhaps not as distinctive as the Southern Smithfield Ham, our family ham tradition continues with a spiral-cut honey glazed ham for our Christmas dinner.  But better than that, a new tradition we share is the Cinnamon-Raisin Monkey Bread served on Christmas morning!  Yum!

©2011 – Frank’s Daughter All Rights Reserved

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories - The Tinseled Christmas Tree

Like so many, this is my favorite time of year (Thanksgiving through Christmas).  Rich with tradition, surrounded by faith, in the company of family, and saturated with the colors and smells of the season.  Because of all this, I have decided to participate in the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories.  I will be posting about specific holiday-related topics as prompted by this theme within GeneaBloggers.

Today’s writing prompt for the Advent Calendar is the Christmas Tree:  Did you have a real tree or was it artificial?  How big was the tree?  Who decorated the tree?  What types of Christmas trees did your ancestors have?

One constant in our traditions of Christmas-time growing up, was the tree.  Sometimes it had been table-top size, while other times it towered so high that it looked like it pushed through the ceiling, but it was always a fresh, cut tree purchased from a lot.

Most years, it was Dad who would pick out the tree, tied it on the racks of the station wagon, and hauled it home.   After unwrapped from its tight netted cocoon, he’d set the tree in its stand and let it rest outside over night to allow the branches to relax.  If we were hasty and skipped this step, we’d find the ornamented branches resting on the floor by morning.

Frank's Daugter and Two Brothers
ca. 1961
 The tree always took main stage in the living room but a nice fire in the fireplace complimented the festive theme and added a homey bouquet of smoky pine.    Mom must have thought a fresh tree was a lot of trouble as she filled her vacuum bag with dried up the pine needles, but even she had to admit the fragrance was lovely.

We had a colorful selection of plastic and glass ornaments that we kids would race to hang on the tree.  Then, the icing on the cake or rather the tinsel (icicles) on the tree was the final touch.  The thin statically charged silver strands were pulled from their box and carefully draped over the branches.  It was taboo to drape more than a few strands in one spot and clumps were just not tolerated.  When the tree dried up and was disassembled, the icicles were carefully removed and laid to rest in their box and tucked away for another year.  

©2011 – Frank’s Daughter All Rights Reserved