Heart of a Southern Woman

A snapshot of life one blog post at a time.

Surviving the Mississippi River Flood of 2008

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June 21, 2018 

 Today I am publishing a treat for us, as we have a guest author.  My second cousin, Susan Walker Youngblood Kerr is joining me to share an amazing family story. Let me introduce her to you first.  Susan married Robert Kerr, called Bob, and together they have three young adult children, Lauren, Robert, and Ryan Kerr. Ryan is married to Katy. Born in Virginia, Susan was raised around the world as she traveled with her career military family with Dad a Colonel at retirement. After marriage, Susan and Robert settled in Iowa, very close to the Mississippi River where it intersects with the Des Moines River.  Susan has recently retired from a career in teaching, and Robert has farmed successfully for many years.  

Youngblood, Susan Kerr, map of area lived in in 2008

Susan tells this account of trial, tribulation, survival, patience, and as she describes: “God’s provision.”

 “We had a saltbox wood- framed farmhouse, part of it built in the 1800’s. We had remodeled the house and added a downstairs master bedroom and bath with a full basement underneath the addition.  We had also added a computer room. The house was 2600 square feet on less than an acre. The Great Flood hit us ten years ago this month, June 15, 2008, but the story needs to begin in January 2008.  At that time, I was teaching, Bob was farming and the children were 14,16, and 18 years old.

 In January 2008, I received an email at work that a family had a house fire and among items they needed were beds for their children. I had just bought full beds for my sons so I called my husband and he brought the twin beds over to the KEOKUK armory to give to a Sgt. Steffens. Sgt. Steffen was about a 6’ft 8 ‘’ guy that started crying when he received the beds the morning after the fire. He conversed with my husband and asked where we lived and farmed. My husband told him we lived and farmed on the Mississippi bottomland. Sgt. Steffen told Bob, my husband, that National guard had already been called out for a major flood on the Mississippi the following summer. We were in disbelief because we were at the end of a three-year drought! Barges were getting stuck and the river was less than five feet. An all-time low. Flood stage is 15 feet.

 However, we watched the weather patterns closely. Flood insurance is very costly in the Midwest. About March there were huge storms up north. We started watching houses plunge into lakes in Wisconsin. We decided that it was time to get flood insurance. It took 2 months going through red tape to acquire flood insurance but we were finally insured on Bobs birthday, May 12th. This is important because you have to have flood insurance in place 30 days before the time the water enters your home.  

 We had to cancel our 20th wedding anniversary plans on June 11, 2008. There was a wall of water headed our way from Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The Des Moines River had flooded the entire bottom area of Cedar Rapids.  Our farm is several miles from where the Des Moines and the Mississippi River intersect.

 The water was predicted to crest at 30 feet and our levee is built to hold up to 26 feet flood stage.  On June 15th, the water was actually 32 feet! The water came up under the Canton Dam and flooded the Hunt Drainage District which is 32,000 acres of farmland. What a shock and nightmare as we lost almost everything!

We were thankful, however, because we had gotten flood insurance. However, we were only insured 50 percent of the square footage. That is how flood insurance works. It doesn’t matter how old or new the structure is but how much based on $100.00 a square foot, it would cost to build a new house. We also had $20,000 coverage on contents but got some things out, so the assessors gave us $6,000 on contents. So, we had a check for $136,000 that we banked immediately.   

Youngblood, Susan Kerr, flooded house of 2008, June 15

 

Youngblood, Susan Kerr, flooded home of 2008, interior

Believe it or not, we had been through the “once in a lifetime, 500- year flood” of 1993!  We had just closed on the farm in May, then get flooded in July. Bob was a contractor so put the home back together. But I had no interest in doing this a 3rd time. It all has to do with mismanagement of our river system. The Mississippi is silted in.  

We moved into a house that was less than a mile away, up on the bluff road. It was basically a 1400 square foot FHA house with an added 4 car garage. The house had a black mold problem and they were asking $176,000 for it. No thank you. But the garage was great for moving our household items out. My eldest son started getting severe nosebleeds. His doctor told us to get the “ hell “ out of that house because it was killing him.

Under doctor’s orders, we moved again, to a house on the river above the dam, in Hamilton, Illinois. It was a log house but had been steel sided. The outside of the house was ugly but the inside was beautiful log with 20-foot ceilings, a stone fireplace, and a wood burning stove. The house was fairly close to my job (10 minutes) but was 30 minutes from the farm. We learned then that in order to be an effective farmer you have to live near the farm. We lived in this home for two Christmases. It was a great place to clear our heads and heal our hearts. The girl’s bathroom had this huge jacuzzi tub where you could sit in it and not see over the rim, it was so deep.  We loved this home and would have built one just like it, minus the siding, but location, location, location…. it was wrong.

We had a plot map and asked everyone in our area if they would sell us some land on the bluff. Nothing, absolutely nothing would open up. (All of our land is in the floodplain) we looked for 18 months!

One day we heard that a house on the bluff was in sheriff foreclosure. My husband had mowed the lawn there as a teenager. The house was padlocked but my husband knew the secret passage into the house and went in and looked around. We didn’t know who was handling the foreclosure so we called our county treasurer. She gave us the name of the realtor, Bert Berthound. We googled that odd name but nothing came up. I told my husband to try Gertrude. He did and the name of a realtor came up. We lost her trail in Hannibal, MO. My husband got the thought to trace who was paying the electric and water. He was told it was Century 21 out of Quincy, IL. He looked in the phone book and found five Century 21’s. On the 4th Century 21, he asked if there was a Gertrude Berthound. They said they had a Bertie Kunz. When he spoke to her she said Berthound was her name two marriages ago. The house was not on the market yet but she agreed to drive the 30 minutes to meet him.  A half-hour later, this little lady drives up in her pickup truck with Harley emblems emblazoned on it, a tough but nice person to work with. Bob took her down to see our flooded house. When they came back he wrote out an earnest check and made an offer on the house she was handling. Bert said, Bob. I believe you need to up your offer $50,000 to buy this house. Bob said he would like to stay with his offer and see what happened.

Bert called us a few days later to tell us that if we wanted the house, we needed to counter offer. Bob asked her what he should counter offer. She said “Bob, this has never happened in all of my years in foreclosure realty but the bank has a predetermined price. You need to redo your bid to $23,500 LESS than you originally offered!  Are you still interested? We about ran everybody off of the road to get to the bank and fax our new offer!

Amazingly, we closed and moved into the home in 30 days! Oh, we bought the house, with closing costs, for $136,000. Our flood insurance check was $136,000! We moved into a 3000 square foot brick house with an 800 ft., two-story sunroom, on 18 acres, on the bluff, overlooking our farmland! Included were custom drapes, lilacs, and an 80-foot blue spruce tree. We feel very blessed! All along, my husband spoke the one-word “patience” to me.  It has been 10 years since the levee broke June 15th, 2008. Don’t feel sorry for us or our house though. We came out pretty well even though it took two years of faith, patience, and perseverance!

I was a school teacher just a few weeks retired now. Ten years ago, I took my class to see the house after the waters receded. It took 2 years of patience but we have a testimony of Gods goodness through this. We had a 2300 wood frame farm house, on an acre of land (but surrounded by our farmland). We closed on a 3,000 ft. brick home with an 800 square foot two-story sunroom, on 18 acres.  We bought the home for the exact amount of our flood insurance check. This had to be a gift from God and is a testimony that can never be taken away from me. 

Susan Walker Youngblood Kerr, June 2018

 

Helen‘s note:  What an amazing story that resulted in a true blessing for a wonderful family! I cannot tell you how much I admire Susan and her family for their courage and faith!  They are an excellent example and light to many of us in our often-challenging world.  Thank you so much, Susan, for sharing all of this with us, the extended family and for generations to come.  Hopefully, it will stand as a great example to trust in God, to persevere, work hard, and have patience. 

Until we meet again, I wish you all well, 

Helen Youngblood Holshouser  Southern woman whose heart is family!

 

 

 

 

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Genealogy Research Identifies Easter Traditions from Relatives and Ancestors Worldwide

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In my genealogical research, I have learned that my family is a typical American melting pot of ethnic origins! Our ancestors hail from Denmark, England, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Scotland, Sweden, and Switzerland—at least. As we are preparing for our own Easter celebration, I was wondering how similar or how different some of my ancestor’s traditions might have been.  

Our own traditions include attending church as we were raised Protestant and believe that Easter represents the death and the rising of Jesus Christ, Son of God, to save us all from our sins and to give us eternal life.  It is basically, the basis of our Faith, and, is such an important time in the life of Christians.  We celebrate Easter with a long season of Lent.  However, Holy Week is marked with Maundy Thursday Communion in church on the Thursday before Easter Sunday.  This communion celebrates the Lord’s last supper with his disciples. On Good Friday, we gather at church to mourn the death of Christ upon the cross. Our own church holds a “Tenebrae service of Shadows”.  One of our daughters will sing special music with the choir, “One Sacrifice”.   The service itself begins with 14 lighted candles in the sanctuary, and as Christ walks his final passion, each candle is extinguished to signify his abandonment.  Easter Sunday, we gather to celebrate the joy of Christ’s resurrection and His salvation for each of us individually throughout the whole world. This is an astounding day for many of us faith wise!

Part of the joy of Easter at our house is gathering with family and friends for dinner.  Many in the United States serve ham for this dinner with other spring vegetables especially like asparagus and carrots for the Easter bunny. Surely you see turkey and beef as well. My own sister, however, serves a Crown Roast of Lamb every Easter without fail!  Bunny rabbit salads made of half pears are a treat for our family.

Since our family includes young grandchildren, an Easter egg hunt is in order for the day!  Of course, we give the children Easter baskets full of trinkets, chocolate, and other candy.  We hard boil and decorate Easter eggs as well.  In our own family, we often hide the baskets and the children have to follow clues to find them!

Easter 2015, hunting eggs with Katy and Evie

This is one way to hunt eggs! -grandchildren of author, personal library, HY Holshouser. 

Evie, Katy, and Liam with Easter Bunny, 2016

Grandchildren visiting the Easter Bunny—from the personal library of this author, H Y Holshouser.

What about our Hogue ancestors from Scotland?  I understand that they especially were sheepherders and that their and most Scottish Easter dinners include roasted lamb!  As with us in America, chocolate is the taste of the day!  Dessert might be chocolate cake and coffee! Chocolate eggs and bunnies are ever present for both! Easter egg hunts, horse displays, and battle reenactments make for fun and festive occasions. Of course, churches throughout Scotland hold special Easter services like ours, to celebrate Christ’s rising from death and giving us the grace of salvation. We had many ministers, mainly Presbyterian, in our Hogue family.  In fact, we are told that our first immigrant from Scotland was a Covenanter.  A covenanter was one of the many Scottish people who fought against the Catholics for the right to have their own personal covenant with God. In fact, his persecution by the Catholics apparently led to his flight to America.

Our Kearse family from Ireland and the same ancient family, the Des Cearsais of France, how did they celebrate Easter?  The French word for Easter is Pâques. To say Happy Easter, you can say “Joyeuses Pâques or “Bonnes Pâques.”  According to my general research, Easter is an important holiday in France also. It is a religious one, and a lively, fun time with Easter egg hunts to honor the coming of Spring. Like Ireland, roast lamb is the choice for a large family meal. In Ireland, it is also an important religious holiday as well, with many traditions. Confession on Good Friday, silence on the Saturday before Easter lends to a meditative state. Eggs take center stage on Easter as they are given up for the forty days of lent by many.  Chocolate eggs, decorated eggs—all symbolizing Spring, new beginnings, renewal and joy!

What about the Langhornes and others from England? Among many lovely and fun Easter traditions, Easter parades are one of the greatest. Children and adults don new clothes for good luck, and often children make elaborate paper hats to wear as they march in their local town parades!  Fun! Egg rolling, hot cross buns, Simnel cake, Morris dancing, and so much more contradicts the vision of the staid Englishmen and women! 

Abingdon Traditional Morris Dancing Princess Royal

 

Our marvelous Italian ancestors and relatives add so much spirit to our family. The BottosRaffosRivaros, Costas, DeSantos,  and more, mostly originate in the coastal area of northwestern Italy, near Genoa. Italy of course, is home to the Vatican, and the place for the pilgrimage of so many Catholics on Easter.  My mother’s Italian ancestors were Catholic as well.  Mass on Good Friday in St. Peter’s Basilica is followed by the Pope leading a candlelight procession on a walk symbolizing Christ’s walk to the cross.  Our own church reenacts this walk to the cross, and we are protestants.  

St. Peter’s Square, Vatican City, Andreas Tille – Own work, Permission details Quote of http://fam-tille.de/italien/rom/2004_030.html – Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this images under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.1 or any later version published

 

As I understand it from relatives, northern Italian Easter feasts often feature ham, like us!  Interesting. Of course, salami is a big choice as well.  Colomba, a dove shaped cake, made of almonds, egg whites, and sugar, is probably the most famous cake and available worldwide these days.

Italian bread with almonds and sugar,Colomba-Pasquale

Colomba Pasquale, An Italian Sweet bread J.P.Lon~commonswiki

What about our German JungblutsYoungbloods? And my husband’s Haulzhausen—Holshouser family?  According to a wonderful article from DW –Deutsche Welle —  http://www.dw.com/en/german-easter-traditions/a-1520904 — the Germans of course, also celebrate a religious holiday like most Christians.

Although mainly a Christian holiday commemorating the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, Easter also marks the beginning of spring. The Germans, of course, have a whole range of customs and traditions to celebrate the change of seasons in proper fashion.

A time for eggs and bunnies

Eggs and bunnies are two of the oldest symbols of Easter in Germany and every spring shops boom with eggs and bunnies made of chocolate, cardboard or flowers in different sizes and wrappings.

The tradition for using eggs and bunnies for Easter originates from pagan worshipping where they were symbols of fertility and new birth and traditionally used for celebrations of the coming of the spring.

The Germans have a number of egg games which the children play over the holidays. One tradition is to blow eggs and paint them in multiple colours and patterns on Good Friday. The eggs are then put in a basket for the Easter bunny — Osterhase— to hide around the house on the night leading up to Easter Sunday. On the morning of Easter Sunday, the children go hunting for the eggs and often find that the Easter bunny has also left chocolate eggs and Easter presents for them to find.

It is also a custom that friends exchange the painted eggs as gifts or that young people in love paint eggs for their sweetheart.” Now that is a different tradition, which I find so special and romantic!  

For the Netherlands and our Van Vreeland, Van Swol, Voorhees, and Banta families, what was Easter like for them? According to many articles, they celebrate much the way we do…. or we celebrate much the way they do!  One of our favorite meals is a festive brunch and apparently, it is theirs as well:  eggs, cheese, ham, rolls…and did I say eggs?  The Dutch also take great pride in providing the thousands of tulips to decorate St. Peter’s in Rome for the Pope’s Easter service.  Wow!  Back home, they are also known for their beautiful painted eggs.  However, they do not have the Easter bunny, but the “Paashaas, the Easter hare!  

Our ancestors represent many more countries and traditions from around the world, but as you and I can readily see, we are more alike than different.  This Easter, as I pray, and as I play, I will have a keener sense of connectedness due to my genealogical research, and our worldwide collaboration.

Until we meet again, Helen Youngblood Holshouser

 

 

 

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Cousins Find Each Other Around the World

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A World of family and ancestors, united by DNA

Today’s technology and DNA testing provide all kinds of exciting opportunities in genealogical research.  Many of us, and I am surely one, believe that each individual has the right to know exactly who she/he is and to know her or his ancestors. As my own genealogical research progressed, it helped strengthen my identity– as I learned about the ancestors whose DNA coursed through my own veins as well as theirs, hundreds of years ago.  Lately, I’ve learned that nowhere is this “need to know” stronger than for adoptees. Many, probably most adoptees feel the need to know their own individual identities and heritage.

I have a cousin named Bradley who was adopted. We didn’t know each other until we both did our DNA tests on Ancestry, and discovered our match.  Bradley and I have worked together a lot over the last year or so.  We have used AncestryFTDNA-Family Tree DNA23 and Me, and Gedmatch.com as well as other genealogical research sites and have learned amazing things.

Before Bradley contacted me about our DNA match, he had met another cousin named Courtney–DNA proved she was my cousin also!  I have to tell you, one of us is from California, one from North Carolina, and one from New York–we cover the whole of America, and we are cousins — united by DNA and ancestors/genealogy.

 

People united by DNA

Bradley is a force of nature, who makes things happen. He found two other cousins, Stella and Zoe, both of whom were also adopted, and who are also related to him, and to Courtney and to me by DNA! That is truly incredible!  In my experience, finding five people, unknown to each other, from all over the world, all of whom are related by DNA to each other–well, I would wager that it would be a zero probability that we would find each other!  However, the miracle continues, even more amazing to me is that Stella had met another DNA matched cousin  named Eva and she was related by DNA to the rest of us as well!  That made six of us, three from across the United States, and three from Central Europe — the Netherlands, Germany, France, and Switzerland.  We are three adoptees and three who know their parents, all 4th, 5th, or 6th cousins! 

Bradley then organized us into a group on Facebook, so that we could communicate more easily.  He invited one other DNA match of his to join the group hoping she might also match some of us. Laura did indeed match another one of us, another cherished cousin.  I asked my daughter Ali to join our group, as she speaks and reads German and French fluently, and was also a cousin of course! Eight of us, what a wonderful group of people, all dynamic and interesting to know!  Typically, the Europeans all speak and read English with different levels of experience, while we Americans only speak English, except for my daughter Ali, whose linguistic abilities did not come from her mother, but from other ancestors.

Eight people, eight cousins, three adoptees from all around the world– united by a desire to know our common heritage — awesome!  We truly engage in “Worldwide Genealogical Collaboration”!

We have been working together for a few months, but we may have just discovered our common line of ancestors, one of Netherlander origin.  We still have research to do to be sure.  As we identify our most recent common ancestor–possibly 4th, 5th, and 6th great grandparents depending on our cousinship and as the ancestral lines fall in place, birth parents are often– usually identified.  It is a fact of research.  What happens next is a choice that adoptees and their birth parents, if living, have to make. Reunions can be fulfilling and joyful, or full of rejection. With DNA, technology, and our heritage research, identities can no longer be secret — instead they can be stronger than ever.

There is one more phenomenal situation that we have discovered with our genealogical work together.  Our common ancestors, the Vreeland family, came to America in the mid 1600’s from the Netherlands to New Amsterdam (New York) in Colonial America. They helped found New Jersey, buying land from the Indians, and fighting in the Revolutionary War. Now, 350 years later, eight of us are getting to know each other and one completes this circle of migration.  Zoe was born in America, in New Jersey.  After her adoption, as a very young child of 2, she was taken to the Netherlands to be raised by her adoptive family. She brings OUR family full circle–from the Netherlands to New Jersey and from New Jersey back to Europe!  Isn’t that amazing!

Worldwide Genealogical Collaboration— aren’t we blessed to be a part of it! Enjoy finding your cousins all over the world. 

Until next time, Helen

 

Map depicting migration of colonial settlers from Europe to America and back to Europe. –From DNA Genetic Communities, Ancestry.com.

Originally published in Worldwide Genealogy- A Genealogical Collaboration , 27 July, 2017

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Mapping My Genealogical Research

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Mapping My Genealogical Research
by Helen Y. Holshouser
-first published on the Worldwide Genealogy–Genealogical Collaboration Blog, May 27, 2017

In honor of Mother’s Day, May 2017, my daughter Annie gave me a world map, cork to post it on, and a large box of colorful push pins!  What a lovely gift to give a Mom who is totally “into” genealogy!  As we opened the gift, she explained that she thought we could post it on a wall and use the pins to mark some of my genealogical discoveries.  I was touched by such a thoughtful gift. 

We had so much fun not only posting the map, but placing the push pins according to  things we thought important.  We have just started this project, and already realize that we need a larger map!  How wonderful is that! 

The first thing we did, was place red pins where our immediate family lives. That is mainly in three places, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia, USA.  Next. we looked at the family trees I had developed for both my side of the family, and for my husband’s side. We also looked at the genetic ancestry, or ethnicity maps that Ancestry gave me based on my DNA testing.  It was exciting to see the details of our family represented on a map, and like my own genealogical work, the map evolved as we thought it through. It is still a work in progress, and I would welcome your suggestions for other things to add. 

From working on both family trees, I knew before doing my DNA, that I personally was a melting pot American.  On my mother’s side I had inherited traits from Irish, English, French, and Italian ancestors mostly. Perhaps that is where  the  passionate, emotional side of my genetic makeup was nurtured.  On my father’s side, I have the more practical traits of the German and Scottish. (Stereotypes, I know!)  My husband Max’s ancestral make up is mainly English and German.  On our map, I used orange push pins to symbolize our ancestral heritage.  Notice how they are clustered in Western Europe– well, that is 99% of my heritage according to my DNA results.  Look how ancestry breaks it down on this map: 


I keep thinking I need to make a list of all the cousins I have met through my research and on facebook where the many genealogical and family groups enhance our meeting  DNA matches as well as ones found in encouraging each other’s research. For awhile I kept telling people I had met 100 new cousins through my research, then 200, now I have no doubt that it is  500  or more new cousins who have come into my life with a similar interest–genealogy and family  history!  How exciting and life enriching is that!  I used blue pins on the map to represent all the cousins I had met in the States and in Europe and Australia!  Obviously, I did not have a big enough map, nor enough blue pins, to represent all the wonderful cousins I have met. 


The yellow pins stand for the focus of my most recent genealogical research and DNA detective skills that improve with experience. One of the great joys of my life, has been the honor of joining an adoptee’s search for their own ancestral and biological roots. I used the yellow pins to represent some of the adoptees whose journey’s I have joined. Sharing these life experiences–life stories–has been intensely  rewarding—and intensely painful.  There have been the joys of reunions, the pain of rejection, death, lies, hiding, and even discovering horrors like the fact that your biological parent was a rapist or other criminal!  We must look for biological roots with wide open eyes–bracing for the worst that can shake our identities, and allowing joy for good news, which can still shake our identities. We must work to center ourselves before embarking on such a search, which should ultimately enhance, deepen, and expand our sense of self–not shake it to the core! You are not your parents, not your DNA traits, you are who you choose to be. 

This new ancestral map hangs in the hallway in the center of our home. How wonderful to pass by it many times a day and think of all the individuals and their unique stories and personalities–all the new family I’ve come to know and appreciate!  Still it’s evolving.  

All of the authors of this blog engage in genealogical research, most of you  readers are interested as well. What a life enhancing experience doing genealogical work has been for me.  With my severe heart disease, I was told years ago that my time on earth was limited–the joy of this work, the joy of being involved with the people the work represents, well, that has brought an immense quality to my life.  Mapping a few of the projects is a wonderful representation of the joy I feel.

Until we meet again, I am wishing you the very best, and that you meet new cousins who add joy to your life as well!  Helen


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Italian Cousins through DNA and Genealogical Research

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botto-home-in-italy-san-colombano-certenoli-ge-italy

San Colombano Certenoli GE, Italy By Davide Papalini (mio lavoro) [GFDL Commonshttps://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Val_Fontanabuona-IMG_0568.JPG

I suspect I am not alone in being surprised, when we have researched for years already, that breakthroughs in our genealogical research bring us exciting new family information, and if we are really lucky, new cousins! Especially, when it is not really due to our own work, but a gift of someone else’s hard work! That happened to me in just the last three weeks when a woman named Karen Migliori got in touch with me on ancestry to tell me that my DNA matched her husband’s Italian line of ancestors whose DNA and family tree she administered. I was so excited, because I knew very little about the Italian line of my mother’s family except for those who had lived in Richmond, Virginia, USA where I was born and raised. My DNA results said I was 5% Italian, and I was so happy to learn that. My mother often talked of her Italian grandmother, Mary Catherine Botto, who married her grandfather James Henry Kearse, who was Irish. Even though I am 15% Irish, I have always felt an affinity and affection for the Italian passions I inherited.

When I started my family genealogical research, I was thrilled to get my Italian line together, even if only through my second great grandparents who immigrated from Italy to America, settling in Virginia. Lewis Botto, 1831- bef. 1866, of San Colombano Certenoli (GE), Italy, married Catharina Revaro, 1825-1903 of Genoa, Genova, Italy. They married in Richmond, Virginia in 1853. Notice that from this marriage record, I learned the names of Lewis’s parents, my third great grandparents, Lawrence and Mary Botto (Lorenzo and Maria Rosa Costa Botto).Louis Botte (Lewis Botto)

_______________________________________
In the Virginia, Select Marriages, 1785-1940

Name: Louis Botte (Botto)
Gender: Male
Age: 21
Birth Date: 1832
Birth Place: ItalyMarriage Date: 3 Sep 1853
Marriage Place: Richmond, Virginia

Father: Lawrence Botte (Lorenzo Botto)
Mother: Mary (Maria Rosa Costa)

Spouse: Catharine Rivers (Revaro)

FHL Film Number: 31855
Reference ID: P1 #39

_______________________________
Together, Lewis and Catharina Botto had two children, James Lewis Botto, 1857-1923, and Mary Catherine Botto, 1858-1906. Mary Catherine as I said before, married James H. Kearse and they were my great grandparents, making Lewis and Catherine Revaro Botto my second great grandparents.. On the 1860 census, Lewis appears as a confectioner in Richmond, VA. and is living with his wife and two children.
________________________________
1860 United States Federal Census
Name: Lewis Batto (Botto)
Age: 28
Birth Year: abt 1832
Gender: MaleBirth Place: Italy
Home in 1860: Richmond Ward 1,Virginia, USA
Post Office: Richmond

Family Number 207

Household Members:
Name                    Age
Lewis Batto           28
Catharine Batto     20

James Lewis Batto  4
Mary Catherine       3
________________________________
However, I have not yet been able to discover for sure what happened to Lewis Botto. I do not know if he died in the Civil War, if he and Catharine got divorced, or just why he disappeared, but I do know that in 1866, Catharine married her second husband, Nicholas Raffo, 1837-1873, also born in Italy. Together they had one son, John Francis Raffo, 1867-1951. On the marriage record of Catharine Revaro Botto to Nicholas Raffo, I finally learned that Catharine’s father’s name was Anton Revaro, sometimes seen as Andrew Rivers. At last, I knew the names of my third great grandfathers.
______________________________________

Catharine Botto

Name: Catharine Botto
[Catharine Revaro] 
Gender: Female
Age: 43
Birth Date: 1823
Marriage Date: 7 May 1866
Marriage Place: Richmond, Virginia, USA
Father: Anton Revaro
Spouse: Nicholas Raffo
FHL Film Number: 33620
Reference ID: p 90
Catharine Revaro Botto Raffo had three children altogether, two sons and one daughter. James Lewis Botto married Margaret Slattery and had six children. Catharine’s daughter Mary Catherine Botto married James Kearse and had four children, including a set of twin girls and two boys. Catherine Botto Raffo’s son John Francis Raffo , 1867-1951, married Mary Margaret “Minnie” Finnegan and had eight children! Blessed to have three children, Catharine had 18 grandchildren! Lewis Botto had ten grandchildren. What a legacy!
James Lewis Botto owned and operated a nightclub in Richmond called the St. Helena. Mary Catherine B. Kearse was a business woman like her mother, collecting rents from rental property they owned, and she was also a jeweler, the co-owner of a well known jewelry store in Richmond. John Francis Raffo was a firefighter who became the Chief of the City of Richmond Fire Department with a career that spanned fifty years! Teachers, Police Officers, Firefighters, and a Catholic Priest. the caretakers of Richmond, Virginia, USA were some of my own family! Previously, I had met, through ancestry, some of my living Raffo cousins, in California, Virginia, and right here in North Carolina, only about an hour away!

That was about all I knew until two weeks ago. Even though I had met and become friends with another Botto cousin through our own DNA match- Eric Dimiceli from New York, he only knew that he had a second great grandmother named Catarina Botto, 1837-1913, who was born in San Colombano, Certenoli, GE, Italy also! She had married a Carlo Molinari. We knew they were related, but could not determine how for lack of records.

Then two weeks ago, I got a note on Ancestry from Karen about her husband Tom Migliori and his cousin Raymond Malispina. She and Ray are the genealogists of the family. Raymond had been to Italy at least five times, and had a cousin who did original research there. Ray sent me this lovely note for my records just a few days after we met:

“Good morning cousin
Amen to that!
One piece of new news you might want for the records is the church containing the data on Botto, Cuneo, et. al. is S. Maria Assunta in the town of S. Colombano Certenoli. It is just about a mile or so southeast of the wonderful city of Chiavari, on the sea some 40 miles south of Genoa and just below Portofino (the Cinque Terra is just a short train ride south of Chiavari). We’ve used Chiavari as our base city on five visits to Italy. Ray”

Raymond shared his own genealogical research and family tree with us, which gave us more ancestors! It also let us know that the four of us descended from siblings! Lorenzo (Lawrence) Botto, 1801-1860, married Maria (Mary) Rosa Costa, 1806-1883. I checked my DNA for matches to the surname Costa, and there they were, I matched Eric, Ray and Thomas–Karen’s husband. In fact, Ancestry has now put the four of us in an ancestry DNA circle! Lorenzo and Maria Rosa had six children, and now we know descendants from three of them! Ray sent this information to Eric Dimiceli and me:

“Botto Family Records S. Colombano Certenoli

As promised here is the information found in the records of the church in S. Colombano Certenoli.

Lorenzo Botto (son of Bernardo) was born in the town of Rapallo in 1801 on July 19 1826 he married Maria Rosa Costa (daughter of Luigi) at the church in S. Colombano. Lorenzo died November 14,1860.They had six children:


-Angela Maria born October 16, 1827, She married Bartolomeo Daveggio on February 5 1845 This is my second great grandmother!!!!
-Giacomo Luigi was born July 23, 1831. No record of marriage in S. Colombano.

-Maria Teresa was born October 13. 1834. She married Antonio Raggio May 2, 1859.

-Caterina was born April 17, 1837. She married a Carlo Molinari (no date). She died July 25, 1913.

-Rosa was born October 19, 1841. She died October 9, 1842.

-Bartolomeo born October 9, 1845. Married Angela Cademartori December 31, 1865. Died February 18, 1906.”

How exciting to discover that our second great grandparents were siblings! Eric descends from Catherina Botto;  Ray and Tom descend from her sister Angela Maria Botto; and I descend from their brother Giacomo Luigi! Giacomo Luigi, I was so happy I could hardly stop saying that name. I had only known him as Lewis who married Caterina Revaro, and had a son named James Lewis Botto and daughter Mary Catherine Botto! Giacomo Luigi translates to James Lewis also, the name of his son! Live and learn! It was so much fun! I immediately sent out an email to all of my Kearse/Botto first and second cousins to introduce Ray and Eric, and give them the information! I also learned the names of two of my fourth great grandparents! Lorenzo’s father was Bernardo Botto, and Maria Rosa Costa’s father was Luigi Costa! There it was, Luigi, a family name.

Since Ray, Eric, Tom, and I are fourth cousins, we should share a third great grandparent, and indeed we are all descendants of our third great grandparents, Lorenzo and Maria Rosa Costa Botto! Ray and I share 13.1 centimorgans of DNA across one DNA segment! Eric and I share 12.0 cM’s of DNA over one DNA segment and Tom and I share 22.5 cM’s over 2 DNA segments.  Below are our relationship charts, detailing our kinship.

What a blessing from DNA and genealogical research to find three new cousins from California, to New York to North Carolina, USA–from Italy with love!

Genealogy Quotation-Lawrence-Dillard-friends-best-Meetville-Quotes-152308
Sono cosi felice! (I am so happy!)
Fino a quando ci incontriamo di nuovo, benedizioni  (Until we meet again, blessings)
Helen
Relationship Charts:
Raymond (Ray) Malispina (1935 – )

father of Raymond (Ray) Malispina

Louisa Cuneo (1888 – 1953)

mother of Elvin George Malispina

Jennie Deveggio (1867 – 1932)

mother of Louisa Cuneo
mother of Jennie Deveggio

father of Angela Maria Botto

Giacomo Luigi (James Lewis) Botto (1831 – )

son of Lorenzo (Lawrence) Botto

Mary Catherine Botto (1858 – 1906)

daughter of Giacomo Luigi (James Lewis) Botto

son of Mary Catherine Botto

Margaret Steptoe Kearse (1918 – 1980)

daughter of Thomas Philip Kearse
Helen Spear Youngblood Holshouser
You are the daughter of Margaret Steptoe Kearse
____________________________________________
Eric Dimiceli
4th cousinPrivate Silvinsky 

mother of Eric Dimiceli

mother of Private Silvinsky

Francesco Molinari 

father of Catherine C Molinari

Caterina Botto (1837 – 1913)

mother of Francesco Molinari

Lorenzo (Lawrence) Botto (1801 – 1860)

father of Caterina Botto
daughter of Giacomo Luigi (James Lewis) Botto

son of Mary Catherine Botto

Margaret Steptoe Kearse (1918 – 1980)

daughter of Thomas Philip Kearse
daughter of Margaret Steptoe Kearse Youngblood
_____________________________________________
Thomas Migliori
4th cousinDora Pedrucci (1916 – 2012)
mother of Thomas Migliori

Della Catherine Cuneo (1891 – 1944)
mother of Dora Pedrucci

Jennie Deveggio (1867 – 1932)
mother of Della Catherine Cuneo

Angela Maria Botto (1827 – )
mother of Jennie Deveggio

Lorenzo (Lawrence) Botto (1801 – 1860)
father of Angela Maria Botto

Giacomo Luigi (James Lewis) Botto (1831 – )
son of Lorenzo (Lawrence) Botto

Mary Catherine Botto (1858 – 1906)
daughter of Giacomo Luigi (James Lewis) Botto

Thomas Philip Kearse (1883 – 1939)
son of Mary Catherine Botto

Margaret Steptoe Kearse (1918 – 1980)
daughter of Thomas Philip Kearse

Helen Spear Youngblood Holshouser
You are the daughter of Margaret Steptoe Kearse

__________________________________________
This blog post was originally  written for  the blog entitled “Worldwide Genealogy –A Genealogical Collaboration”          http://worldwidegenealogy.blogspot.com/                   `

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Happy New Year 2017–Looking Back and Looking Forward

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Until yesterday, when I posted my first post of this year, I had not blogged since June, 2016!  Some of you missed me, thank you very much.  It’s been an interesting six months, good and bad as real life always is.  This is my family’s story, part of it for 2016.

The less than good events were of course, my continuing battle with heart disease, and angina, which only creates problems if I walk too far, more than  20 to 35 feet, or stand more than a few minutes, or get too cold, or too hot!  

Health issues continued to try to bring us down, but didn’t succeed!  My husband of 45 years, Max had cancer last year.  He had surgery and treatments, and appears to be cancer free.  We are keeping an eye on his numbers of course, but so far it’s been great!  Max, who is never sick, but our strength and rock, also had bronchitis which would not stop!  We all had viruses as well, so we kind of quarantined ourselves for a couple of weeks, with coughing and hacking being the ultimate sound in our house!  LOL

 Our adult  daughter, one of them,  hurt her back and has been unable to return to work for over a year! Treatment after treatment, doctor after doctor, she had to give up her apartment and move home–then there were the medical bills. Thank God for Obamacare!  Oh, you say Republicans are going to get rid of it? You say they won the elections?  How did I miss that? Not!

Even in my family of origin–normally healthy people were sick last year! Seriously ill. My sister had quintuple bypass and an ablation for afib.  The ablation failed and in a month they did a cardioversion!  Vasculitis set in, so forth and so on!  She continues to improve, but what a battle!  One brother fights severe diabetes, and another had cancer surgery also!  It’s true what they say…

http://www.criticalchristian.com/view.asp?file=431.%20The%20Latest%20Chapter(1).htm&id=3&feature=Essays&title=The%20Latest%20Chapter%20in%20Growing%20Old

http://www.criticalchristian.com/view.asp?file=431.%20The%20Latest%20Chapter(1).htm&id=3&feature=Essays&title=The%20Latest%20Chapter%20in%20Growing%20Old

So you can see that health concerns overshadowed our lives this past year.

Good news buoyed us however, our faith sustained us and fun and adventures brought joy!  Max is much better, I am stable, and our daughter is improving, slowly but surely!  So why did I not blog for six months?

I kept thinking I would.  But besides health issues, I got into helping people find their birth parents and their true heritage, genealogy!  It was so rewarding, and so much fun, I felt like a detective!  Amazingly, and as we all know, the universe works in strange ways. Most of the people I had the joy of being involved with were people who matched my own dna on ancestry!  I’ve written about a case or two before actually, but in the last six months, the numbers of folks topped fifteen that I was involved in searching for roots with! I can hardly wait to tell you about some of them, some successful, some not, some still in progress. However, all were successful in one way, I met a new cousin!   I met generally  3rd, 4th, even 6th cousins who had been adopted, and were kin to me!  Amazing adventures!

Of course my other special hobbies, of my 3 g’s, besides genealogy, are grandchildren and gardening. They each brought us so very much joy this year, that we can still smile,laugh,and enjoy life…and maybe even blog a little.  

Fully present in the moment, children help you focus on joy! Fully beautiful at the moment, flowers do also.  And don’t forget Elvis, it’s his birthday!

 Lift your head, look around, breathe, smile, life is worth living. Wishing you all the best, and looking forward to the journey. 

Personal photo collection, grandchildren enjoying first snow of 2017

Personal photo collection, grandchildren enjoying first snow of 2017

daylillies-onpatio-of-90-castlerock-dr-youngsville-nc-helen-and-max

Personal photo collection, lillies in our garden

 

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“We Are the Storytellers, Called by Our Ancestors”

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“We are the storytellers– called by our ancestors.

 In each family there is one who seems called to find the 
ancestors. To put flesh on their bones and make them live again, to tell the family story and to feel that somehow they know and approve.

Doing genealogy is not a cold gathering of facts but, instead, breathing life into all who have gone before. We are the storytellers of the tribe. All tribes have one. We have been called, as it were, by our genes. Those who have gone before cry out to us, “Tell our story!” So, we do. In finding them, we somehow find ourselves.

 How many graves have I stood before now and cried? I have lost count. How many times have I walked up to a grave and felt somehow there was love there for me? The bones here are bones of my bone and flesh of my flesh.

 How many times have I told the ancestors, “You have a wonderful family; you would be proud of us.” I cannot say.

It goes beyond just documenting facts. It goes to who am I and why do I do the things I do. It goes to pride in what our ancestors were able to accomplish, how they contributed to what we are today. It goes to respecting their hardships and losses, their never giving in or giving up, their resoluteness to go on and build a life for their family.

With love and caring and scribing each fact of their existence, because we are they and they are the sum of who we are. So, as a scribe called, I tell the story of my family. It is up to that one called in the next generation to answer the call and take my place in the long line of family storytellers.

That is why I do my family genealogy, and that is what calls those young and old to step up and restore the memory –or greet those whom we had never known before.” Author Unknown
While many of you may have seen this writing, author unfortunately unknown, I have only read it recently.  As a person who has been telling family stories for years, this message speaks to me.  It also reminds me of so many of you whom I have come to know.  You, the genealogy bloggers, the researchers, the family reunioners, the bedtime story tellers about great grandpa folks, you are the Storytellers of your family, and  I know how valuable you are, how much it will be appreciated in years to come, how much I appreciate others who left stories and information for me to find.  

This poem inspired me to get back to blogging, and to start 2017 with enthusiasm and renewed energy.  Looking forward to being in touch with you all again.  I am also wishing you the very best in 2017!  

happy-new-year-message-images-18

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