Thursday, October 27, 2011

Grandpumpkins for Grandkids

TRAEA's grandpa and grandma hosted three of the grandkids recently, and given the time of year, pumpkin decorating seemed to be a logical art project.  The challenge was to find something they had never tried and could accomplish with relatively little mess.

Although this idea, or a variation, has shown up on several web sites, the following was our approach.  You will need:
  • Newspapers
  • 1 pumpkin per child, plus a couple for yourself
  • Cans of acrylic spray paint - we used black and champagne
  • Container of flat-backed clear acrylic crystals - we bought 1 lb. and had bunches left over
  • Additional small holiday decorations (optional) - ours were felt-like decorations precut in Halloween shapes
  • Glue dots, about half-inch size, unless your crystals and decor come with adhesive
  • Rolls of ribbon
Wash the pumpkins before the kids arrive.

Lay out plenty of newspaper in an area where accidental overspray won't be a problem.  Help young hands spray each pumpkin with short, gentle spurts to avoid runs.  Let the paint dry - ours was ready in a short 15 minutes.

Spread out all the decor options on a table.  Let the participants of all ages go wild with design, attaching each piece to a glue dot before adhering it to the pumpkin.  Tie ribbon around the stem as a final flourish.

CAUTION:  If they are touched, some crystals may fall off, taking the underlying paint with them.  Prepare your young artists in advance for this possibility, but just use another glue dot to readhere.

Note that our youngest artist took a different route - stickers.  They worked great!

Now that we've played with descendants, we'll be back to ancestors with the next post!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

(Almost) Instant Pinning

Yes, yes, yes—even this sometimes computer-challenged grandma can post to Historypin.  I couldn't get a perfect fit because of the angle where the photo of Alice May GODITT Hills and Eugene Hills was taken, compared to the street view by Google Maps.

But the Historypin people could not have made it easier, what with their quick video tutorial and step-by-step instructions.  Time to drag those photos out of the closet and off the shelves.  Happy pinning!

The vintage photo was snapped sometime in the 1920s at Whitcomb Summit, along the Mohawk Trail in Western Massachusetts.

Tree links:  Alice May Goditt is the granddaughter of Mark Goditt and Monique (Minnie) DOUCETTE
                   Eugene Hills is the 5th great grandson of Joseph Hills and Hanna (SMITH) Mellows

Monday, October 24, 2011

Historypin Your Photos

Heard a short feature yesterday on NPR that sounds like the perfect project for genealogists - as if we need another side project.  Historypin is a website where individuals can upload photos taken decades ago and "pin" them, that is electronically superimpose them, on the same location today.  The result is like looking simultaneously at a single location - both then and now.  Check it out.

As I understand it, pinners can post a single photo or a series, add to the number of existing photos at one location or create an entirely new series.  It's particularly handy if the target location is on a streetview of Google Maps, but it isn't absolutely necessary.

When the story aired, there were about 55,000 photos pinned to the Historypin world map.  Within a day that grew to more than 60,000.  Genealogists could multiply that number exponentially.  Have fun with Historypin - a brand new way to share family pictures.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Happy Birthday, Emerson!

For TRAEA's Grandma, Emerson Herbert Hills, born October 6, 1924, represents the questions, challenges and rewards of genealogy.  In the first place, he was someone who should have been more well known, but for a convergence of unfortunate circumstances.
  • He was an only child; his father was an only child.
  • His parents divorced about the time he graduated from high school.
  • Records of his World War II service in the Army incinerated during the 1973 National Archives building fire in St. Louis.
  • His father never mentioned him in front of a subsequent family.
  • His high school transcript, snippets of Army records and the newspaper report of his death contain most of the written information that apparently exists about him today.
Graduating in June 1943, Emerson enlisted at Fort Devens, the Framingham, MA, reception center for New England draftees.  Initially, he was part of the Army Specialized Training Project at Northeastern University.  He was ultimately assigned as a combat engineer with the 101st Infantry Regiment (26th Infantry Division), the highly esteemed Yankee Division, at Fort Jackson, SC.

In 2007, the Yankee Division Veterans Association reprinted The History of the 26th Yankee Division, 1917 - 1919, 1941 - 1945.  And it is from this detailed account that we follow Emerson to Camp Shanks and to nearby the docks in New York City.  Troop ships assembled there made up "the largest armada ever floated by man," 101 vessels of all varieties.  Leaving New York on August 24, 1944, the ships arrived in northern France about two weeks later on September 7.  In keeping with the questions surrounding this soldier, Transport & Ships for Yankee Division has these ships leaving August 27.  The latter site lists the 101st Infantry Regiment on the Saturnia, a "borrowed" Italian cruise liner.

Once disembarked Yankee Division plunged immediately into the war—booby traps, mines, supply transports, mud, dead comrades, brutal combat—as they made their way through France.

Emerson was killed in action November 9, 1944, just two months after arriving in France.  But in his death lies another question.  The US Army records his death as being in Aachen, Germany.  According to its History, however, the 26th Infantry Division was in combat roughly 100 miles south, near Metz and Nancy.

Emerson's burial site was officially Lorraine, France, today the Lorraine American Cemetery and Memorial.  About 10 years ago TRAEA's grandma went looking for this soldier's burial site, now under the auspices of the American Battle Monuments Commission.  But Emerson wasn't there.  Today I would go to the US Department of Veterans Affairs gravesite locator.  But then, after months of frustration, I made a phone call — it took just about two minutes before I heard, "We have him here at Arlington."  Now we know that his mother repatriated his remains in 1948 so that today, Emerson Herbert Hills lies near a large tree, surrounded by comrades, with a beautiful view of the Washington Monument.

Emerson's photo arrived by way of Bob, Holly and Margaret.

Tree link: 7th great grandson of Joseph Hills

Sunday, October 2, 2011

And Here We Are

Genealogy in the Hills/Hackett tree grew from an occasional interest to what my family has come to see as an addiction.  Not that I'm an expert, by any means.  But genealogy is a source of enormous pleasure.

Early in this journey, my mom, a Hackett, gently waved a gauntlet by saying, " You won't find anything about your father - he was an only child.  And nobody in my family knows anything." (The emphases were hers.)  More than a decade after her death, countless tidbits of information, a collection of stories and dozens of family names are stashed away in binders, files, books and stray pieces of paper.  She would be astonished and, despite her general aversion to history, fascinated.

This blog is not an attempt to catalogue everyone on the tree.  Besides - some of what I think I know is probably wrong.  Pardon me, former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, for adapting your quote, but every genealogist understands there are ancestors we know we know, there are ancestors we know we don't know and there are ancestors we don't know that we don't know.

I'll be sharing notes about the people I know that I know, hoping to hear from others about people I know that I don't know and learning about people I never suspected are attached to the Hills/Hackett Tree.  And so, here we are!

Tree links:  7th great granddaughter of Joseph Hills, 2nd great granddaughter of William Hackett