So as I said previously, I’ve fallen off the genealogy bandwagon for a few years due to general life-stuff and have just recently gotten back into actively pursuing leads. Since getting back into active mode I decided to start following some blogs and joining some FaceBook groups to help me with organization, motivation and brick walls. Thanks to The Organized Genealogist FaceBook group I’ve been actively working on adding citations to my genealogy database (what a mess THAT is, but it’ll be worth all the work when I’m done) and organizing my genealogy.
In the process of organizing my e-files I realized that, for the past few years, all I’ve been doing is collecting genealogy stuff and not categorizing or printing anything at all. Whoa, not really the smartest move I’ve ever made. So, I decided it was time to do some serious printing and organizing of e-files. For the past few weeks I’ve been slowly organizing my e-files into family folders on my hard drive, which I will then back up so I have multiple copies. As I’ve been doing the organization I’ve also been taking picture files and converting them to TIFF files (which don’t have image loss the way JPG files do) and I’ve also been converting any picture files of census images and other documents to PDF format. After all that is done I then print the document and will work on filing those according to the system I’ve chosen. (Eliminate Genealogy Clutter by Sherene Henrie Whiting is the system I’ve chosen in case you’re interested…it’s a fantastic system!)
Whew! So I’m wading thru this slow process of converting and printing documents last Saturday while D1 was helping his brother and I ran across a rather surprising read. It wasn’t surprising so much that I had it (or that I didn’t KNOW that I had it), what was surprising was the content I found within it.
What you see here is an obituary for my 2nd great grandmother (on my maternal side). It’s quite a nice obituary, it tells of her longevity in the community, where she lived and who she lived by, some of her thoughts and, of course, where her services and internment will be. But within all of that information resides a couple of pieces that I had forgotten about and one piece that I’d never heard about before and I found very interesting.
After reading this obituary, I recalled that my mother had told me at one time that I had a family member in Topeka, Kansas who was an undertaker. Well either I wasn’t listening very well or I’d forgotten what she really told me because it seems that my 2nd great-uncle (Frank Conwell) wasn’t just an undertaker, he owned a funeral parlor. The funeral parlor where gg-grandma Margaret’s services were held, of course. The other piece of information I recalled after reading this was the fact that my mother had also told me my 2nd great-uncle Frank’s second wife, Jennie Finch, was a member of an OES chapter in Topeka. Not just that but also that a photo of my 2nd great-uncle Frank, resides on the wall of a Masonic Lodge in Topeka. I’m going to have to make a trip up there specifically to see that picture I think. And maybe see if I can find where the funeral home was located.
The piece of information in the obituary that I didn’t know about was “Mrs. Conwell recalled that she often had trotted Charles Curtis, former vice president of the United States, and his little sister, Libbie Curtis (Mrs. Jerome Colvin) on her knee.” Wait. Charles Curtis, former VP of the U.S.? Something started tickling at my brain after I read that. It tickled…and tickled…and tickled until…BAM! I remembered!
A little back story needs to be inserted here: my son, J, is a proud band geek (yep, I raised him right!) and thru my involvement in Eastern Star I learned about the Kansas Masonic All-State High School Marching Band. J participated in this band for five years (and loved every minute of it). His last year participating in the band was 2012. That year the Shrine Bowl, the football game the marching band performs at, was held in Emporia, Kansas. Activities for the Shrine Bowl last all weekend for the families, it’s crazy fun and so memorable. So D1 and I are down in Emporia killing time driving around and we end up at a museum in Council Grove, Kansas. The Kaw Mission State Historic Site was a wonderful place to pass the time between events that weekend. While we were touring the Kaw Mission, I ran across the picture and caption below:
At the time I just thought it was pretty interesting that the U.S. had a Vice President that had Native American heritage. Little did I know that later, I would find the obituary for Margaret that connected my family to the former Vice President and his family. I really wish I had gone back thru my genealogy files prior to going to Council Grove. I don’t know if the Kaw Mission had any further information on Charles Curtis but it would have been interesting to learn a little more about him if they did.
Since the Curtis family isn’t a known part of my family, this is a project I’ll be putting on the back burner for now. I have my hands full with working on my paperwork for the Daughters of the American Revolution. My intention is to come back to learning about Charles Curtis after I complete my paperwork for the DAR. I want to learn a little more about his life and see if there’s any information about my family included with his family’s information.
What this discovery has taught me is that, periodically, it’s useful to go back and review your genealogy documents. Take an inventory of what you have and make sure it’s in good condition. Re-reading may provide some new and interesting information. You don’t catch everything the first or second time you look at something.