Sunday, November 30, 2008

Found an ancestor!

My husband has a great grandmother who we were told was part Indian. She lived in Texas and was able to get allotment checks during her later years from the tribe she belonged to in Oklahoma. Searching for her records for years we weren't all that sure what her name was or which tribe she belonged to. We had looked for her under the wrong name but we discovered her real name after talking to my husband's uncle Bill at Thanksgiving dinner.

This uncle Bill remembered hearing about his great grandmother and told us her name. Born in Missouri, her name was Catherine Bryant. She married John Knox Polk Weaver and they moved to Texas from Oklahoma. We still don't know if she was adopted or which of her parents or grandparents were Indian-usually the mother. We did discover her name in the Dawes Commission Index which was a registry of Indian people trying to reclaim their citizenship in their tribe to receive allotments from the government for their tribal land and mineral resources. She belonged to the Cherokee tribe according to this list. Now we will try to get more records and try to put her life story together. (Photo above is of Catherine's grand daughter Gladys Floyd-my husband's grandmother. With her is an Indian uncle named Walter Winfield who is definitely Indian and probably from the Cochtow tribe. So now we'll look for his parents.)

Genealogy is fascinating and habit forming. I've always loved jigsaw puzzles as a child and perhaps that explains my interest in tracing my ancestors.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Gatesville, Texas

This is my husband's hometown, where he was born and raised-his roots. Interesting to watch his enthusiasm as he tells me he caught crawdads in that pond or went to scouts in that building, etc. It helps me get to know him better. Then going with him to visit the graves of his parents and grandparents on back makes me feel closer to them even though I never met them. Their names are familiar from the genealogy I have done in their behalf over the past 15 years since I married into the family.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving Traditions

Unable to return to home after our deer hunting trips in October, we gathered our family to celebrate Thanksgiving in sunny California. Our thoughts were focused on our grandmother now unable to travel, and family in Utah. Using her recipes, we tried to duplicate Grandma’s Thanksgiving dishes. Doing our best, we recreated the traditions that we’d enjoyed when younger. Grandma would start baking days before the actual holiday as homemade pumpkin and raisin pies were made in advance to have room in the oven for the huge turkey needed to feed extended family-aunts, uncles and cousins who came from miles around. Plenty of food was prepared in order to have leftovers to enjoy for days on end without any more cooking.

Grocery stores did a big business that time of year. Many ingredients could only be bought in cans and weren’t available fresh in rural Utah. Canned yams, corn, and pumpkin for pies as well as jellied or whole cranberries completed our traditional Thanksgiving dinner. Desserts included Grandma’s homemade pies, and fruit salad with whipped cream made from fruit cocktail, fresh apples, bananas, and sprinkled with chopped walnuts.

Each family has its own special traditions for Thanksgiving dinners. My husband is from Texas and his holiday meal wasn’t complete without cornbread stuffing with celery, onion, lots of sage and chicken broth for moisture and a green bean casserole. Enjoyed by all families everywhere were gobs of whipped mashed potatoes and succulent turkey gravy, tasty hot rolls with real butter, and a relish dish of homemade pickles. Yams sweetened with brown sugar and topped with melted marshmallows rounded out the feast. There was hardly room on your plate for the different kinds of food.

If the guests gathered for dinner were many, the children sat at separate card tables in the living room. Before prayer, the tradition was for each person to express what he or she was most grateful for. Family, health, food, church or America were blessings always named, and are probably the same answers we’d give today. We ate until we were stuffed, then the men folk retired to the couches or recliners to sleep while the women assembled together in the kitchen to visit, store leftovers and tackle the heaping mound of dirty dishes. I’m sure Grandma was most thankful when the dishes were done. She could take off her apron and finally relax till the Christmas feast.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

On the road again

My husband took a photo of me below by a hogan that traditional Navahos lived in, made of mud and pine lumber, the door always faces the rising sun in the east and there is an stove pipe opening on the roof for the smoke to escape from the wood stove inside for cooking and heating. What a life our early native Americans lived.

We drove to Canyon de Chelly near Chinle Arizona to see the cliff dwellings but they were far below us in a deep canyon built on ledges. (The last photo below shows some of their dwellings on a dark ledge, look on the middle right side of the photo.) We only saw them from up above, to walk through to them you either have to hike down then hike back up or hire a guide to drive you in the river bottom where it's closer to hike to them.