March 2012

My father’s mother, Frances Ruth Bryan, saw Haley’s Comet twice!  In 1986, when the comet was visible to her and many others for the second time in their lives, a newspaper in Lexington, Kentucky (“Comet Watchers Remember spectacle of 1910,” Lexington (Kentucky) Herald-Leader, 23 February 1986, p. 1-2.),wrote an article about the event.  This is her account:

In 1910 I was living with my father, mother, three sisters and two brothers about 3 ½ miles west of Stanford.  I was 13 ½ years old.  There was no radio or television, and teen-agers were not much interested in the newspapers, so we knew little about the expected comet.  Our mother came upstairs and told my sister and me to wake up because the comet was visible.  We didn’t like being awakened.  We thought we could see it some other time, but she assured us we might never have another chance for it would be many years before it would come again.  As I remember it, there was a bright, beautiful star with a long wide tail.  It was beautiful.

— Mrs. W. B. Bryan


My grandmother, Frances Ruth Bryan, is just left of the middle of the photo, in a black dress (white trim on collar).

By the way – 3 copies of this article were found in my father’s (Robert Bryan, son of Frances Ruth Bryan) papers.


Recently, my husband and I were able to go on a trip to the Holy Land – specifically Jordan and Israel.  We traveled with a group tour, Educational Opportunities.  I highly recommend Educational Opportunities.  Beginning in 1973, Educational Opportunities provides Christian travel programs.  EO provides land tours and cruises.  Check out their web site:

Our trip was wonderful – we saw so much in the brief time we were there!  We spent 1 ½ days in Jordan – Amman, Petra, and Jerash.  Then, we traveled to Israel – Qumran, Jericho, Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Caesarea Maritime, Megiddo, Nazareth, Cana, Yardent Baptismal Site, Tiberius, Mount of Beatitudes, Tabgha, Capernaum, and Beit Shean.

Now, like so many, we are being asked to give a presentation on our trip.  And we are happy to do so.  This has been a challenge for us!  We took close to 1000 photos!   Aren’t digital cameras great?  No need to worry about setting up the perfect picture – if one doesn’t work, just take another.  So, with two digital cameras full of photos, we began the sorting.  We were able to narrow down the photos for the PowerPoint presentation – just shy of 300 photos.  This many photos, with a little commentary, needs about 1 ¾ hours to present.

As a genealogist, I think this has been a good learning lesson for me.  There are times when I have so much information on my family that I must somehow condense and organize it – without the organization, it is just a bunch of data.  Even though some think that this can be a waste of precious time, it is most definitely not!  I know that the books that I have written about my family show that the organization was worth it!



Do you back up your data?

As a genealogist, I have many, many records, photos, etc., stored on my computer.  As a family historian, I have the same kind of records.  I do print out some of the records – I like having a paper copy at times.  However, many of the records are stored just on my computer – not in a file cabinet.

If I had a power surge, wiping out my hard drive, the surge would wipe out all of those precious records!

Even if I print out a copy, I also store every record on my external hard drive.  And, this external hard drive is disconnected from my computer when I complete my backup.  That way, if a power surge did occur, the surge would not harm this external drive.

Many people back up their data to an external drive on the 1st day of each month.  I do mine more often – a few times a month.  I do is especially on those days when I have “found” new data that I would be lost without.

Something to think about!


Phenie Cordelia Jones Babcock was my great-grandmother.  She had quite an interesting life – I plan to blog about more of her life in future posts.  A little of her life – she was born in New York, married a Civil War veteran, bore three children (1 daughter and 2 sons), moved to Tennessee because of the health of her husband (who died shortly after the move),  was a postmistress, became a missionary to Barbados, and died in Tennessee.

I sent away for her death certificate so that I could confirm family stories about her:

And, my goodness, what a lot of information I was able to add to my database!

I now have this confirmed (agrees with family story):

  • she died in Sunbright, Morgan County, Tennessee, on 1 January 1922
  • her age was 75 years 3 months 4 days
  • she was born in New York
  • her father was Sylvester M. Jones, born in New York, and her mother was Cordelia M. Cole, also born in New York
  • the informant was her daughter, Mrs. C. S. Lyon (Mrs. Charles Stanley Lyon) of Vernon, New York
  • she was buried in Burrville on 3 January 1922

There was also some “miss” information:

  • she was born 23 September 1922??  Obviously, the writer of the information made a mistake – she was not born before she died!  However, from her age she was born about 27 September 1846 (family story is 23 September 1846).

One never knows what information will be on a death certificate.  However, this one gave much!


Back in 1981, my husband and I were celebrating our first Christmas together.  He was in the U. S. Coast Guard, and he was stationed on the Coast Guard Cutter Dallas.  Our home was an apartment on Governor’s Island, in New York harbor.

Our parents and siblings all lived a good distance away – Ohio, Virginia, and Kentucky.  To celebrate a “home-y” Christmas, my sister mailed me a Kentucky country ham.  You may wonder what a Kentucky country ham is – it is a salt-cured ham.  Years ago, the settlers would butcher their meat in late fall, and salt cure the meat.  Then, smoking would be over a fire.  The salting and smoking protected the meat from spoiling.  When I was growing up, we would often have country ham for Christmas dinner.

The ham was a surprise, and I had no idea as to how to cook it.  So, naturally, I called mom.  She told me how I needed to scrub the ham (taking off some of the salt, but not all), then cut off the hock end, boil the ham, and then bake the ham.  One of the most important steps was cutting off the hock end, and preparing it the same way the rest of the ham was prepared.

As I said above, we lived on Governor’s Island, and our neighbors in the apartment building were from Connecticut.  They had never heard of a country ham!  So, since there would be two pieces of the ham to prepare, we decided to share with our neighbors – we would each have the experience of preparing, and eating, the ham.

And, we did all of the preparation, enjoying every single step!  When our neighbors tasted the ham, they were not sure about eating it – they had never taste anything like it before!  However, they did eat more for Christmas dinner and for leftovers too!  There was one question that the neighbor asked that I could not answer – why did we cut off the hock end – why not cook it all together?  So, back to asking mom.  She told me, “Mother always did it.”  So, I went to the source – my grandmother.  When I asked her, her answer was, “The pot was too small to cook all of it together.”  What a laugh we all had!  Mom had prepared many a country ham for our family, and she had prepared it just like her mother did!


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