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Family Histories – How Much is Enough?

August 2nd, 2015 | No Comments | Posted in Uncategorized

My cousin Lorene Ensley has compiled a wonderful book about my grandparents William and Hazel Vorkink that she debuted at yesterday’s Vorkink reunion in Payson, Utah. There’s lots of photos and documents and information about these two whose descendants number nearly 400 at the present time.  The Marshall Vorkink line is definitely the smallest of the 4 Vorkink siblings and we were represented by Mark and myself and some of our children and grandchildren (and Patricia and Elaine), with my group being Erik, Juliana, Kyle, Rachel, Owen, Kade & Collin. Only Kevin and Tina were missing, which likely makes me the Vorkink Cousin with the highest percentage of my family in attendance. Not too surprising as we all live in Utah.

The event got me thinking about family histories and just how much is enough. Several of my cousins brought additional photos for Lorene to include in her document/book and while these are all interesting, there is a point of diminishing returns where another photo or remembrance doesn’t really add to the core value of the history.  In fact, I wonder if by putting in too much information we muddy the waters and make it more difficult/less interesting for the rising generations to wade through. Sure, I appreciate the detail because I knew them and I only have 4 grandparents, and I carry the Vorkink surname.  Will my daughters’ grandchildren be as interested in reading a 100 page book about their great great great grandparents? Would they prefer the Cliff’s Notes 5 page version?

I’m also thinking about my own parents and my life for that matter. Each successive generation has exponentially more that could be included in a book, so much so that it is hard to start on the task of condensing my father’s life into a narrative, and he’s been gone 14 years now. What about my sister Lisa? Or my mother, who is still living and of whom there are hundreds of hours of interviews, photos and other documents? No one has written anything about my Hucks grandparents either.

I can handle big projects, even if it takes a long time, and yet I’m a bit overwhelmed here. I do wish I had more of my father’s thoughts and feelings on life, but he didn’t keep a journal and most of what I have are the letters he sent to me in the mission field, full of stuff he did and not what he was thinking. I’ve written some about my life and thoughts in the form of blog posts, newspaper article comments, and the occasional journal entry (long ago.) My missionary journals are too boring for me to go through.

There has to be a balance somewhere. What I noticed yesterday was that the Cousins were excited about the documents and photos they were able to contribute and the process served to bring us together a bit. I will likely put the book up online at Vorkink.com as it is more suited to an easily-updated digital presentation than a printed book.

How would I summarize what I know of my Vorkink grandparents? Well, he was Dutch, loved music, loved the Gospel, loved his wife and family, was good, honest, and a nice man. She was of pioneer heritage, kind, loved education, loved her family, was devout, and served others. OK, so that’s not enough. There are those who believe that eventually we will have a wiki for the average man, a short summary of our lives that includes the pertinent details and representative photos. Maybe that’s where I should start.

Father’s Day vs Fathers’ Day

June 22nd, 2015 | No Comments | Posted in Family History

fathers day 2015I had a great time yesterday for Father’s Day as all six of my children were at the house, along with Mike, Lisa and my mother Patricia. GeriLynn was out of town visiting her father and gathered with all of her siblings at the family home in Culver City. We low-profiled the event, mostly spending our time watching home movies from 1998. I’ve just started digitizing the video tapes and we had some good laughs together. One event we watched was Father’s Day June 21, 1998–same month and day–where I was able to declare that it was my BEST Father’s Day ever as I had never before had so many children.  I was able to repeat that message yesterday and expressed that I was grateful to be a father and for the lessons I have learned along the way.

Yet, being the box-turner that I am, it occurred to me that perhaps in the future we can celebrate Fathers’ Day instead of Father’s Day. My father Marshall Vorkink died in 2001 and his father died 35 years earlier. My older children still have a distinct memory of “Dad Vorkink” and know very little about either of my grandfathers. So my proposal is to turn the focus from me and more towards our ancestral fathers. There is no real “holiday” that celebrates family history and this could be a way to teach the children and grandchildren about their forebears.

It’s not a big thing…just move the apostrophe over one character.

Mary Hudson

June 12th, 2015 | No Comments | Posted in Uncategorized

I’m tracking through some of the info about William Travis McCaskill, “Billy” as he is referenced at one point. His mother and my ancestor is listed as Mary Hudson, also shown in some places as Mary Wincie Hudson. I’ve created a page on this site for her and am following checking some info about her parents. One family tree on Ancestry.com lists her father as as Rev William Hudson and another Ancestry.com page lists a Rev William Hudson married to Mary “Polly” Mangum. Unfortunately, this second page does not list Mary as one of their children, so I am still looking for that tie in/source. I’m also looking for verification that Mary’s middle name was Wincie.  This same Ancestry.com page lists William Hudson’s parents as James Hudson and Martha (McSween?) McSwain. Via a google search I found a website that had some information about Mary Mangum that shows her parents as Jacob Mangum and Esther Gibson. Additional information is available on this site for their parents etc. FamilySearch.org lists a William Hudson KCF6-NM6 and his wife Mary Mangum L4T4-B5X and shows several generations of his ancestors in his family tree, but no information about his children. Mary Mangum’s tree shows several generations also, so it would be good to find a source showing William and Mary Hudson as Mary Wincie Hudson’s parents so we can tie the groups together.

William Travis McCaskill

June 11th, 2015 | No Comments | Posted in Uncategorized

Rachel went to Young Women last night and their evening was spent doing family history work at a local stake center. She came home with a Family Ordinance Request for Daisy Ella Smith, wife of William Travis McCaskill. Apparently one of the workers at the local family history center helped Rachel do some research and they came across this couple and noticed that they had not been sealed, in fact, none of the ordinances had been performed for Daisy.

Rachel showed me the form and we dug into the records that I have, and then FamilySearch.org. It appears that when William’s temple work was done in the 1930s there wasn’t any record on his spouse. She does show up in the 1900 census, which wouldn’t have been available (or hard to search) at the time. She also shows up in Find-A-Grave.

Admittedly I haven’t been looking for this type of relative to do temple work for as I have been spending my time trying to work backward on direct lines and get the info that we have organized and cleaned up. I have known for a long time that there are more “cousins” that can be found than there are ancestors. In William’s case, he is the brother of Esther Catherine McCaskill Bethune, one of my great great grandmothers. There were 10-11 siblings in all and I’ll need to check all of them to see if the temple work has all been done. It raises the point that there might be many other “cousins” we can find as we work with currently available information.

It is interesting to note that I have been thinking about McCaskills over the past month or so and feeling that I should be looking at the records of the Scotch Cemetery in Kershaw County, South Carolina. So, that the woman who was helping Rachel last night just happened to choose McCaskill as the family name to research so she could teach Rachel some of what to do, is perhaps just a coincidence…or not.

4-19-2015 Research Notes

April 19th, 2015 | No Comments | Posted in Uncategorized

I’m off on a tangent but wanted to record where I am nonetheless. My initial goal for today was to search for adoption records that might give us a clue about William Vorkink’s paternal grandmother Diena Willemson. (Sorry if I got that wrong, I just pulled it from memory and that’s not all that reliable anymore.) Instead I found myself at indices of Dutch birth records from 1616 – 1811 as found in two volumes that were microfilmed in 1993. They can be found at Family Search

with urls (that might not work) of

A-Küsters, Gerhardt: https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1942-32984-21498-31?cc=2038506&wc=SMH9-165:346631401,346787801,346826601page 890   page 891

Küsters-Z: https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1961-32975-14248-42?cc=2038506&wc=SMHM-BZH:346631401,346787801,346825001

The reason for the note is that just cruising through these 500+ page documents I can see many possible variations of VORKINK (pages 890-891), including Borkink,  Vokkink (pg 880), Vorking (pg 890), Vorckink (pg 890), Vorkinck (pg 890), Vorkinks (pg 891), and Vorkinx (pg 891). I especially like the last one. Perhaps one day I will cross-reference the listed names with what we have in family records. Need to check to see if Lochem and Eibergen have equivalent records.

Family History Research – Weekly Recap 12-21-14

December 22nd, 2014 | No Comments | Posted in Family History, Musings

Spent my research time on identifying two places that the Vorkinks (William & Hazel and 4 children) are shown living in the 1930 and 1940 census.  See William’s page for the details. (918 E Garfield Ave, Glendale & 901 S Bronson Avenue, Los Angeles) I posted pictures from Google maps for the Glendale property and checked the Los Angeles County online property records info to verify the size of the property, date built, etc. I need to do the same for the Bronson Avenue property next week.

Of course, my father Marshall was one of those 4 children and perhaps that’s why I find it so interesting to see where he and his family lived. From a strict genealogy viewpoint, especially when it comes to LDS Temple Ordinances, this might seem to be a side track, yet even FamilySearch.org now includes sections for photos and personal stories as just the basic birth-marriage-death info doesn’t tell much about the persons involved.

The bigger challenge is managing the project. At this time no one else in my extended family–to my knowledge–is working on any of these family lines and histories. While I started this current research with Ammons and Hucks, although a case could be made that my blogs on Bethune family history was the real restart, I’m constantly changing direction, almost at whim. Certainly from an LDS perspective there is an emphasis on identifying ancestors whose temple work has not yet been completed as those dearly departed souls might be waiting to accept said work on the other side of the veil. To a degree this seems at times like searching for a needle in a haystack, well it did at first as I believed that much of the work had been done by my grandmothers Hazel Whitehead Vorkink and Mary Bethune Hucks for their respective lines. So far I have found that on there have been some mistakes made on small details and some family members overlooked. Also, the research is much easier now than when my grandmothers were working on it 40-60 years ago.

Maybe that same trait that caused me to want to be an auditor is why I find myself wanting to correct the mistakes I have found in the work that has been done so far. Not that I have perfectly accurate information, but one of the problems I see over and over again is the repeating of bad info because no one has bothered to double-check it. Admittedly that is one of my purposes in the way that I am doing this research and recording it here. I am hopeful that those who come after me will have fewer inaccuracies to deal with if I can sort out some of the issues now.

Beyond the temple info research and correcting inaccuracies there is the desire to record something about my parents, grandparents, and great grands so that my siblings, cousins, and their descendants will have a better understanding of their ancestors’ lives. This is particularly challenging because of its scope. My mother is still alive and one of her brothers, and I have many cousins on both sides who all will have some memories of our grandparents. Lorene Ensley is threatening to get a Vorkink family reunion scheduled and has reported that she is working on some of William and Hazel’s history, but I truly understand how difficult it can be to do so. How much info does one include? What is most important?

Rather than be paralyzed by the magnitude of the challenge, I’ve decided to just start with what I can find and what I know. Hence, the information about where they lived, including photos where available. I’ll probably regret not recording some of the stories that my mother tells about her youth as I’m usually doing something while she is telling me and we’re not formally making a record. And how important are those stories anyway? As of yet my mother has not written any of her own history, although we do have hundreds of hours of recorded interviews she performed. Does anyone really want to listen to all of that?

What really does matter? From an LDS perspective it would be great to have conversion stories or testimonies, copies of patriarchal blessings, thoughts about the Gospel, records of spiritual experiences, lessons learned from a lifetime. Fortunately we have some of that for a few ancestors. From a family viewpoint it would be interesting to have a record of their achievements, their skills and traits, etc., to look for similarities in our own lives. To add historical perspective it would be enlightening to understand how their daily lives were structured, how they lived without electricity, indoor plumbing, radio, tv, the internet, modern medicine etc. We could learn so much.

If one believes in a heaven of any kind where we will be reunited with loves ones, then the more information we have about them the more we should be able to relate to them once we meet them again. I look forward to talking with Marshall, William, Mary, Howard, Lisa and many other relatives who have already passed on and hope that I have learned enough in this life to more fully appreciate who they are and the lives that they lived.

 

Family History Research Weekly Recap 12-14-2014

December 14th, 2014 | No Comments | Posted in Family History

Not a lot of new stuff this week/today. I’m still on the Sunday Morning Plan, so it was only a couple of hours of work, most of which was just double-checking. Now that I have individual pages for ancestors I need to go back through the weekly posts and transfer the pertinent information.  I also went through some of my paper files and found some interesting documents, one a photocopying of a report that Lena Temperance Hucks Padgett commissioned in 1949. Another was a 16 pages from an unnamed book that had Hucks genealogy, not all of which is correct. I have bits and pieces in my files from visits to a family history library going back almost 20 years. I’ll sort through it all and try and get the most accurate info transferred to the pages on this site.

 

Family History Research – Weekly Recap 12-7-2014

December 7th, 2014 | No Comments | Posted in Family History, Uncategorized

I made the decision this week to only work on family history on Sunday morning…a decision I might revisit. One of the challenges is that I’m not disciplined enough to just turn the switch on and off again at the same time each week.  If I’m excited to do some research I want to do it whenever I can, like reading a good book.  If I step away for a week it takes too long to get back to where I was.

As a result I didn’t get much research done this week. Last week I left it where I was putting info onto the various pages on this site, specifically I was listing Robert Lee Hucks’ children from his first marriage. Today I intended to list his children from his second marriage, or as least that’s what I was thinking last week. Instead I spend some time on the Vorkink line, registering for a Dutch site, wiewaswie.nl, and tracking down my great-grandmother Johanna Gobel. I knew she had divorced my great-grandfather Hendrik Gerrit Vorkink before she came to America, and my grandfather William Vorkink was so disenchanted with his father that he left instructions Not To Be Sealed to him. It hadn’t occurred to me that after the divorce she used her maiden name.

I created pages for Johanna and the rest of my great-grandparents and some of my great greats.  I also registered for billiongraves.com. I haven’t given up on the Ammons or Hucks lines, just bringing some of the other lines up to speed.

Live and Let the Other Guy Die Young

December 3rd, 2014 | No Comments | Posted in Kyani, Musings

Doing some research about a possible ad/meme for Kyäni that features Patricia Sheranian. One tacky idea was to ask the question “And where is most of the class of 1959 now?” and show a cemetery. While not all accidents are avoidable there are certainly some behaviors that increase the likelihood of living to a ripe old age.  Supplementing one’s diet with Kyäni products would be the takeaway.

Turns out that life expectancy charts are relatively easy to find. A little more challenging is to find a chart that shows how many people born in the same year will still be alive at age 50, 60, 70, and so on.  At http://plus.maths.org/content/understanding-uncertainty-how-long-will-you-live I found some interesting interactive charts that gave me the type of information I was seeking, although it was for the UK.

Here are two images gleaned via screen shots. In the one of the left I input my age and it shows that my expected death is at age 80. Hmm.  Not too comforting. The one on the right is what shows when zero is input for the age.

survival chart 58 survival chart 0

So 27% of my fellow 58-year-old men are expected to live to age 87, which reminds me of the story of the bear and the two hikers: Two hikers are enjoying the trail one day and are startled to hear the sound a bear not far distant as it charges towards them. The first hiker takes off running as fast as he possibly can and the second bends over to tie his shoe laces. The first stops and yells back to his friend, “What are you doing!We have to outrun the bear!” His friend, now with securely tied laces, starts running and approaches his stunned friend and says “I don’t have to outrun the bear…I just have to outrun YOU.”

I guess that means that to make it to age 87 I have to outlive 73% of the guys my age. Ok….that might be doable.

The charts are fun to play with and I found it more encouraging than just looking at life expectancy tables. While there are no guarantees, I enjoy the thought that I might still have many good years ahead of me.

As far as the ad/meme goes, I doubt that we’ll use the cemetery pic. A bit too much.

Family History Research – Clarkie Brown

November 23rd, 2014 | No Comments | Posted in Family History

Not much is known about Robert Lee Hucks’ first wife, Clarkie Brown. Lena T Hucks has her parents as John Brown and Rebecca Larrimore.  She has a FindAGrave listing that shows she is buried in the Oak Grove Church Cemetery in Britton’s Neck, Marion County, SC, the same cemetery that her in-laws are buried. Her tombstone shows she died on September 21, 1907 “in the 52nd year of her age”. Her son Jefferson lists her being born in Britton’s Neck on his delayed Birth Certificate. One would hope that he would know where his mother was born, but he filled it out shortly before he died in 1950 and it’s possible he got it wrong.

There is some conversation on Rootsweb about Clarkie’s father being Daniel Brown: “Not sure why but had her parents as a John Brown and Rebecca Larrimore (no dates just names)? from Lena Temperance Hucks. I can?t find them. But there is a Clarky Brown daughter of Daniel Brown. I really am beginning to think he is her father. Clarky?s daughters death certificate says Clarkie was from Horry County, SC. So I really think this is right. Over the years her age gets younger and younger.” She is also listed there on Rootsweb with the middle initial “S”.

Is it reasonable to think that the Clarkey Brown, born in 1847 in Horry County, whose father was Daniel Brown, is our Clarkie Brown? If so, it would mean that she was really 60 years old when she died, not 51-52 as her family thought when they made her tombstone. Also, did her husband Robert, who was 20-21 years old when they got married, really marry a 30-year-old woman who had never been married before? (Or had she been married before?) In an era when 21-year-old men–like her son Jefferson–are marrying 14-year-old girls, was Robert so desperate that he married an older woman? And even though apparently (I haven’t seen a copy yet) her daughter’s death certificate says Clarkie was born in Horry County, I don’t put a lot of credence in that type of information as it is so often wrong.

So, how to resolve this? Maybe the Hucks books will help, once I get a chance to go to the Family History Library in SLC to view them, hopefully this coming week.  Lena got the name John Brown from somewhere and maybe I’ll find the source in her book. FamilySearch.org lists a variation of her name as Clarkie Brawn.

It apparently was common for folks from Britton’s Neck to marry folks from Britton’s Neck, and while Horry County isn’t far away (about 20 miles), it does beg the question “How did Robert and Clarkie meet?” if they weren’t neighbors? (Can you really do that, have two question marks in the same sentence? Did I mention I failed English a couple of times in school?)

I suppose I should search the 1860 and 1870 censuses for Britton’s Neck and see if there are any Browns or Brawns that show up. Be right back. Ok, no one jumps out at me in the 1870 census and the Browns I checked weren’t living near any Hucks families. If Clarkie was in her 52 year when she died in 1907, then she would have been born in 1853-1855, which would make her 14-16 years of age at the 1870 census. There aren’t any John Browns in Britton’s Neck listed in the 1860 census either (the population portion), but there is a John Brown in the 1860 non-population schedule, which makes me think John was what he was called but not his given name. Which brings me back to the idea that Clarkie might have been a nickname.

I’m not any closer at this point to figuring this out and it might turn out that Daniel from Horry was her father and truth is stranger than fiction and 21-year-old Robert married 30-year-old Clarkie and she reported herself as only 23 on the 1880 census when she was actually 33.  Adding to the fun is that Robert lists himself as 22 when he was 23.  Clarkie dies 27 years later and her family lists her as around 52, which doesn’t match with any census listing.

Next, I’m going to try and track down Clarkie’s children’s death certificates to see what is listed there. James Minick Hucks’ death certificate lists his mother as Clarkie S Brown, born in–very hard to read–but I think it says Marion Co. John Whiteford Hucks’ death certificate lists his parents but not their birth places. He was born on 29 Oct 1876 in Marion County and died on June 26, 1951, and the informant was his wife, Eva Gibson Hucks.  Millie/Mellie Hucks Hatchel’s death certificate does show Clarkie being born in Horry County, but was likely filled out by her son.

Still no luck finding son #2’s death certificate. It does appear that his name was Robert Neal Hucks, born June 21, 1878. That information comes from his WWI Registration card which he filled out himself and signed as Robert Neal Hucks. Confusing the issue is a number of censuses that list him with the middle initial O and one with the middle initial N. Various family trees list him as dying in 1968 but I haven’t found a listing on FindAGrave or a copy of his death certificate. He and his wife Minnie lived on Route 2, Conway, Horry County, SC for many years.  No record of them in the 1910 census, at least that I have found so far. They would have been married circa 1901-1902.  The 1920 census and beyond does not show any children living with them, so it’s easy to suppose they didn’t have any. However, there is the slight possibility that they had a child in 1902 who turned 18 and had moved out by the 1920 census. Not likely, but possible.