Heart of a Southern Woman

A snapshot of life one blog post at a time.

“O’ is for Officer, Sir, Sergeant James Kearse, Irish Cop


George "Gabby" Hayes as Police Officer from free-classic-movies.com

George “Gabby” Hayes as Police Officer from free-classic-movies.com

Before I started my genealogical research, I knew nothing about my great grandfather, my mother’s grandfather, except that hia name was James Kearse, and that his father  Robert had come over from Ireland, fought in the Civil War, and raised ten children along with his wife Margaret.  James, my great grandfather  became a cop in Richmond, Virginia like his Dad, as did his son, my grandfather Tom.  James married an Italian woman, apparently the love of his life, my great grandmother Mary Catherine Botto. Lots of friends gave him grief about marrying an Italian, but they were happy with  their four children.
As a police officer, James was apparently very popular as he was nonminated to be chief, and stories of him filled the pages of The Richmond Times Dispatch 1870-1890 after the Civil War.
As I read the articles, I was thrilled to feel I was getting to know the man born  almost 100 years before me!  There was one story in the paper that gave me a great glimpse into James’ personality! It was hilarious, and showed his sense of humor!   Such a cute story, I wish I had written it, and that I could have been there!  I want to share it with you here, hope you enjoy.
Source: storytime.readingchick.com

Source: storytime.readingchick.com

 Kerse, James, Cow visit police station Halloween 1913
Sergeant James Kearse has a visitor on Halloween night at the Police Station–fromThe Richmond Times Dispatch,
Nov. 1, 1913




This gallery contains 4 photos

“M” –Mangled Marriage of Mack and Marissa


domestic.violence.battered.woman500x250, americansendingabuse.org

source: americansendingabuse.org –National Hotline, 24/7, 1-877-1-800-799-SAFE (7233)

Mack had just gotten out of jail for beating his wife nearly to death. After only three months in jail, he was now on probation and court ordered to attend “stupid” outpatient therapy once a week for two hours for a whole year! “Disgusting” was his cleaner thought. He wouldn’t bother to go, but if he didn’t, the therapist would report him and he’d just end up back in a cell–“no thank you!” So attend he did–hating every moment that he had to pretend he was learning “anger control–how stupid do they think I am?”

His great desire was to get his wife back. He was pretty sure he could do that, but for that damn therapist who kept talking to her. The therapist would never encourage her to return to him. Just the opposite, she’d gotten his wife to take a protection order against him, and he could not go closer than 100 feet to her! He’d lost custody of his son…”all because he’d lost his temper…once…okay, maybe two or three times. He didn’t mean to hurt her, but she aggravated him so much, she was so stupid sometimes. Still, she was drop dead gorgeous, and he loved her in some ways. But sometimes, he just had to haul off and smack her! He just got out of control this last time. He didn’t mean to pick up the butcher knife, didn’t mean to cut her arm, her hands–he was just so mad, and the knife was just there. It really was her fault, if she would just shut up!”

“I truly believe I can get her back, if I can just talk to her! I have to see her,” Mack thought to himself. So, he hatched a plan. They both had to go to the large public mental health center for counseling. The center took great pains to schedule them on different days however, so they wouldn’t cross paths.

“What can I do? How can I fix it so we are forced to run into each other there, and we can talk?” Mack knew there had to be a way, and he was scheming as hard as he could! When he was at the center for his group therapy tonight, he noticed that the cleaning crew left the front office open while carrying out the trash. The office was always locked, you had to talk to the receptionist through a glass window. But here was the door, propped open! There sat the appointment calendar for anyone to thumb through! Quickly, he picked it up, opened it to the current week, and “yes! –Marissa was scheduled at two o’clock tomorrow afternoon. Stupid therapist!” A plan began to form in his mind.

Wednesday brought a bright, sunny day in Georgia. Marissa was scared to death as she loaded the last suitcase in the trunk of her car. She’d already arranged for the sale of her car, and the buyer was taking delivery in an hour at the Mental Health Center of all places.  She was headed to school to get her five year old son Michael. She couldn’t believe it, but she was leaving the state today!

She really thought Mack was going to kill her this last time he’d beat her. He’d cut her as well. Although she loved him, she knew now that he’d surely kill her if she let him into her life again. Her own group and individual therapy had convinced her she had to get away. She should have done it while he was in jail, but now she had to take Michael and go! She had no money–that was part of the problem. But once she’d convinced the therapist she was serious, the shelter had introduced her to the Underground Railroad for Abused Women. She was scared to death, but today was the day. She would take Michael with her to the Mental Health Center.  A lady from the Women’s Shelter would meet them there, and take them to the train, bus, or airport, she wouldn’t know until it happened. They would give her a new ID, a new passport, and send her to a home where she and Michael would stay, just tonight, one night! The next night they would be staying in a different home or shelter, or hotel. Her expenses were taken care of. It was like entering the witness protection program. She’d filed for divorce while Mack was in jail. He’d signed the papers in exchange for reduced active time. She’d said goodbye to the few friends and family she had, just saying she had a job opportunity and was moving away. Her parents were deceased, she hoped to never see Mack again.

Marissa knew that in about seven to ten days, she and Michael, from now on to be called Ken, Kenny, or Kenneth, and his Mom Carol, would arrive at their new home, an apartment paid for by the Underground Railroad. Kenny would go to school and be safe she hoped. She had a job waiting for her, she didn’t even know what yet, but different from what she’d done before. She was scared a bit, nervous, but excited also. “Finally,” she thought “Michael And I will be free, safe, and able to pursue a more normal lifestyle.” She was only thirty years old.

Meanwhile, back in Atlanta, Mack was putting his plan into motion. What he didn’t know was that Marissa and Kenny had arrived at the Center at one thirty. She had signed papers and transferred the title to her car to its new owner. Pocketing the cash, she met with her therapist only long enough to say goodbye and be shown out the back door to a waiting car, with tinted windows, where they quickly loaded her, Michael, and their suitcases. Waving goodbye, Marissa and Michael were gone, on their way to their new life before two o’clock.

Not knowing any of this, Mack took a break from work “to run an important errand,” he told his boss. Within minutes, he’d called in a bomb threat against the Mental Health Center from a pay phone. He drove directly there, thinking he would surely find his wife in the parking lot, evacuated along with everyone else. He laughed, no one could beat him, he always got what he wanted!

When Mack pulled up near the Mental Health Center, he was delighted to see all the staff and clients standing out in the parking lot, just as he’d predicted. He parked on the street, and began to look for Marissa. He saw the police forming teams, each with a bomb-sniffing dog, and enter the building to search. Half of him wished he’d been able to plant a real bomb!

He walked around a bit, but didn’t see her! “Where could she be?” He knew she wouldn’t still be in the building. Then he saw her therapist, his also, “that stupid woman!” He looked carefully, then approached the counselor. “Hi Angela, what’s going on?”

Angela was surprised to see Mack for sure! She smiled at him and said, “Hi Mack, what brings you here this time of day?”

“Well, I was coming by to settle my bill, and I heard on the radio about the bomb threat. Thought I’d swing by and check it out. Everyone okay? I thought I’d heard that Marissa had an appointment this afternoon, it worried me, so is she here?“

Red flags went up immediately in the therapist’s brain and intuition, but she stayed calm, and kept a smile on her face, as she said, “Oh, thank heavens, as it turns out, Marissa canceled today. I can’t remember why, but we rescheduled for later in the week.” (She lied to protect Marissa, hoping the delayed appointment time would keep him from searching for her beyond the center.)

Mack said he had to get back to work, but she saw him circling the crowd and the building. She immediately sought out the nearest police officer she could find. She pointed Mack out as she and the officer watched him get into his car and drive away. Immediately, the officer issued a bulletin for him to be brought in for questioning as a person of interest in the planting of the bomb at the Mental Health Center, or the issuing of a false report.

It was determined before long that there was no bomb in the building. Angela entered with all the other staff, although she didn’t feel very safe or comfortable. The afternoon and evening continued as if nothing had happened. About six o’clock however, Angela got to talk to the same police officer she’d seen earlier. She reminded him that she’d reported that one of her male clients, arrested formerly for domestic violence, was seen loitering around the Center during the bomb threat evacuation, and that he’d admitted he was looking for his wife, from whom he was separated. She asked if he knew whether or not he’d been involved.

The officer said he was just coming to see if Angela was still in the building, and continued to tell her the outcome. They had picked Mack up to be questioned as a person of interest. Under intensive interrogation, Mack had admitted he had planned the whole thing, that he had called in the bomb threat. He admitted that he’d wanted to see his wife evacuated from the building, and even how he’d discovered her appointment time!

Angela was surprised and saddened, even though on some level she’d suspected just that! She knew, and it came to happen, that when he appeared in court the next morning, his probation was revoked and he was sent back to jail for breaking the terms of his release–trying to harm his wife, get close to her, possibly threaten or intimidate her, and calling in a false report. This meant of course, Angela would no longer have him in the Men’s Violent Offender’s Group either. While sad, and wishing she could have done more to help this couple, she also used his incarceration as a warning to other group members that they meant business–that if the men failed to attend group and participate, or broke the rules of their probation or restraining orders, they would be reported and go back to jail. It had an impact, most didn’t want to lose their freedom.

Mack got out of jail a year later, and immediately went to see Marissa. He was surprised to learn she had moved away quite a while ago, no one seemed to remember just when. He used the internet, but could find no trace of her. After he was back at work, he used his first paycheck to hire a private detective to find her. Even the detective was unable to discover her whereabouts. The women’s shelter, the Underground Railroad had done their jobs well, and Carol and Kenny were happy in their new home and community.

(© This fictional story by Helen Y. Holshouser, was inspired by a true one, unfortunately.)

This gallery contains 1 photo.

“L” is for Liam, 7- Year- Old Grandson Has His Own Blog!




I have been blogging for a couple years now, mostly genealogical in nature. A couple weeks ago, my 7 year old, first grader, grandson Liam and his class at school started blogging! I was very surprised, and thrilled! Another writer in the family! Of couse, don’t tell him that, he’ll tell you quickly he’s going to be a State Park Ranger like his Papa!

Liam is the son of  my daughter Ali and her husband Greg Orcutt.  Liam is a nickname, named for his Great-Grandfather William Donald Brown, and his Great- Uncle  William Donald Brown II, called Bill (Greg’s mother–Kaysie Brown’s father and brother). So three in a row we have William, Bill, now Liam, all from the same name! I think that is very cool! A wonderful tribute to beloved family members as well.

Liam does so many wonderful and fun things, as you can see from above, but today, I wanted to share his blog with you. It is on a site for his school, not available to the general public. However, he was kind enough to let me repost his blog posts!

Liam concentrating so hard, has his little tongue out, just like his momma used to do when she was little! LOL   Liam’s Blog               

March 30, 2015  9:52am

Thursday night, me and my sister got new shoes. I thought mine were best!


March 30, 2015, 4:05 pm

“My Base” 

 I built a new base on “Disney Infinity.”  It has a hiding place.  I made a world for it myself.  


 April 7, 2015, 4:50pm

Walt Disney World

 My family is going to Disney World. We are so, so , SO excited.  I ‘m really excited to go to Star Tours and Animal Kingdom.  





This gallery contains 14 photos

K is for Katy! My 3 Year-Old Granddaughter




Katy at 3rd birthday party. Collage by her father's sister, her Aunt Amy Orcutt Pickering.

Katy turned 3 on January 21, 2015,  Princess cupcake cake made by Aunt Annie Holshouser was a hit!


Kathryn Marie Orcutt, called Katy, my precious granddaughter, lights up our lives with her sweetness and joy. She is the daughter of Gregory Orcutt and Alexandra Kathryn Orcutt, my daughter. 

When she is sitting calmly by herself –sometimes, you can hear her singing her current favorite song–“Everything is Awesome!”


Katy climbing where she should not go

“Look at me! First I pulled all the videos off the shelf, then I climbed right up and leaned, fell, jumped over to the back of the chair! Now, how am I going to get down?! Help, Mommy! “

Katy is a daredevil too, however, so she keeps us  on the edge of our seats! She loves to climb and nothing is too daunting for her!  She once tried to climb  the long chain hanging  down from a stained glass lamp and pulled the treasured lamp, made by her Granddaddy, right out of the ceiling! Thank heavens, she wasn’t hurt, nor was the lamp, miraculously!


Katy the flower girl at Amy Orcutt's wedding, Oct. 11, 2014

Graceful flower girl in her Aunt Amy Orcutt Pickering’s wedding.


Katy is named after several beloved family members– first and foremost, her mother Ali, Alexandra Kathryn Holshouser Orcutt. We also have my beloved cousin Kathryn Youngblood Fuller, and my mother’s sister Katherine named after her mother–my maternal grandmother Katherine Steptoe Houchins Kearse/Kerse (called Kate) . These are some of the treasured family members her parents were thinking of when they named her Katy.

 Her middle name Marie, is just as, or even more prevalent in our family.  Max Holshouser, my husband, Ali’s father, Katy’s  granddaddy–his mother was Helen Marie Wagner Holshouser.  Helen Marie named her daughter Brenda Marie, Max’s sister. Brenda named one of her three daughters Patrice Marie, Patrice had Amanda Marie, who has Paisley Marie! That’s five generations of Marie’s in Ali’s father’s family!

I also had an Aunt Helen Marie Youngblood Webb, who had a daughter Grace Marie Webb Wingo , and a granddaughter through her son Philip named  Maria Webb.  In the South, we love family legacies, and family names, it makes genealogy harder, but it is a loving tribute.

Katy with wings and sophia gown cropped

Katy pretends she can fly as she jumps off the sofa, fairy wings held high!

Katy was a premature baby like both of her siblings. She was  6 weeks   early, and had to be in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit for  about three weeks.  That was an extremely stressful time!  Every developmental milestone she reaches, counting, recognizing letters, talking– is duly noted by her mom, and her psychologist grandmother!  We are very aware of the concerns–possible leaning difficulties. So far she is meeting or exceeding every developmental milestone, counts and knows all her letters, and even laughs at her grandmother’s jokes! 

Katy’s current favorite joke is this one which sends her off into peals of laughter!

Knock Knock                
Who’s there
Banana                                   20140801_150129
Banana who…
Knock Knock
Who’s there
Banana who…
Knock Knock
Who’s there
Banana who…
(This bit can go on for some time!!)
Knock Knock
Who’s there
Orange who…
Orange you glad I didn’t say banana again!!

She even likes to tell it herself, dress herself, walk by herself, eat by herself, and just do everything–“by myself!” Miss Independent! I love it and her.  (Sorry if it doesn’t show, LOL)  I’d love to hear about the special kids in your own life! Thanks for sharing  with me. Helen

This gallery contains 11 photos

“J” ~ Juvenile Detention/Treatment Center




Teen in jail

source: httpwww.independent.co.uknewsworldamericasorange-jumpsuit-for-nineyearold-whos-accused-of-shooting-girl-7440652.html


After college, for seven years before graduate school, I was a teacher of  children and adolescents with emotional and behavioral disorders.  So it stood to reason that my first job offer right out of grad school with my Master’s in Clinical Psychology, was in a juvenile treatment facility.   I was the “Staff Psychologist” (masters, not PhD), and there were 8 to 10 kids for whom I was regularly responsible. There were, all together, about 50 adolescents, ages 12-18 in the building.  Most were “Juvenile Offenders”, meaning they had been picked up by the police for shoplifting, fighting, or breaking other laws and were mainly with us awaiting their first day in court. In those days, the 1980’s, there were some kids who’d been apprehended for running away. The police picked kids up for that back then, not today.  These kids were only with us two or three days usually, and I only worked with them if they were suicidal.  

I was hired to work with kids who had been proven violent and aggressive by the courts and mental health agencies, and were therefore locked away from general society, called treatment, not jail.  


I was actually quite excited to have this  job opportunity. Coming right out of school with training in behavior modification, and realizing there was a caring, committed, and well-trained staff already in place, I truly, with all the enthusiasm and naivety of youth, believed we could turn these kids and their lives around–inside out– and send them on the “right” path through life.

We controlled their every move. Child care workers (guards) told them when to dress, eat, and sleep. They slept in individual locked cells. The doors along the hall were locked every ten feet or so, leading to other areas of the small building. I had to learn to buy and wear clothes with pockets in them, so I could carry my keys with me at all times. The kids went to school in this small, squat brick building as well– in fact lived there–sometimes for years. They played outdoors where there was a basketball hoop surrounded by a high barbed-wire fence, and they had therapy.  If they behaved and followed the rules, they could earn privileges including going out of the facility, to see a movie, to shop, or maybe even to see family. Staff was generally kind to them, there were long talks with lots of people–even the cooks and teachers, the director, all were involved.

If a kid had a temper tantrum, “broke bad” , child care staff would go silent. They would surround the child, and take him or her to the floor gently by sweeping them up by their feet, while others held their shoulders.  Then they picked the kid up with about six of them carrying him. They would take them to a “cooling off” room, and put them on a bed where they were put in five point restraints until they were calm. If the kid was a head banger, or tried to bite the staff, they had a helmet put on their head, and a mouth guard put in their mouth. The psychologist, social worker or head child care staff were the only ones who were  supposed to talk during this time, to see if the child was okay, if they wanted to cooperate, if they were ready to talk– instead of course, to threaten, kick, hit, spit, bite, or whatever.

When I started working at this facility, my oldest daughter was 12. She had a favorite pair of black jeans she wore, with a pink lining which had little black polka dots. My very first day on the job, I walked in–and my first sight was to see the staff having to take down a kicking, screaming, biting young girl, who was only 12 herself! As I watched them helmet her, I realized she had on those same black jeans with the pink polka-dotted lining, that I’d just left at home on my own child! I had to leave the room as tears flooded my eyes!

Individual and group therapy, and designing behavioral modification structures,  was mostly what I did at the center. We were teaching the kids to talk about things instead of acting them out…in babysteps. So we had group sessions often.  We role played behaviors, we talked about families, we talked about growing up in a facility, getting out, how to cope, so forth and so on. Sometimes it went very well– sometimes not so good!

I remember very clearly one time when we were meeting for group therapy– I was sitting on a couch with one other teen, and the other eight kids were seated in a circle. The very same young girl I’d seen restrained my first day at work, was sitting across from me now, almost 2 years later. She was getting angrier as the group discussed an earlier altercation on the playground. It had cost a lot of them privileges, and even though painful, we were trying to learn what principles had been taught by it. Sally (fictitious name) was getting angry and I could tell. I was getting ready to ask her if she needed to take a timeout, or to take some deep breaths.  Before I could blink however, she attacked me! She leaped out of her chair and it seemed like she was flying across the room! Then she jumped on me– grabbed me around the neck, and took me over the back of the sofa onto the floor! Before I could get a breath, six childcare staff, summoned by the one who’d been in the room, surrounded her and took her off of me and once again put her in restraints. Her lack of impulse control, was greater than her loathing/fear of going back into the restraints.

I wish I could tell you that we did indeed “turn these kids lives around”.  Unfortunately, I saw many  transfer out at age 18, only to be arrested a few weeks or months later for hurting someone! Then they went to jail. I became very disenchanted, and more cynical. I became a believer in the “missing gene” theories of crime, it surely seemed  like something was missing for these kids, with such highly invested treatment, not to be able or willing to change their behavior. Some seemed to literally have no conscience, to be budding psychopaths and sociopaths. 

One Friday night, about 10pm, when I was at the Juvenile Center because one of the “regular juveniles”  had threatened suicide, I talked on the phone with my husband.  He was home alone with our two children, ages 7 and 15, and his wheelchair-bound father, who had moved in with us after his mother had died. I found myself asking , “How are the kids there, honey? Did they get to bed easily?”  In turn, he asked, “How are the kids there doing?” WHOP! That conversation hit me upside the head, and got my attention!  I was suposed to be at home, helping him raise our own kids.  Yes, I felt a great responsibility and caring for the kids at the Juvenile Center, but actually, they were beginning to get more of me than my own family! That was a turning point, and it wasn’t long before I had moved to outpatient counseling of adults, families, and groups in a center owned by a private psychiatric hospital.  As the director of the small counseling center, I also got to teach seminars all over the community, in schools, churches, and businesses–I was a teacher at heart and loved it.  A whole new chapter of my life..one full of new experiences and joys had opened–and although I was sad to leave the Juvenile Center behind, I was thrilled to move on as well. 





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“H” –Heart Attack! My Personal Story.


source: time.com

source: time.com

“You’re having a heart attack!” my doctor said, and my response was…”You’re kidding, right? You’ve got to be kidding?” I must have repeated that phrase a hundred times in the next week as my whole life turned upside down!  
I was 50 years old, and had two silent heart attacks in a brief period of time. I had no idea, I felt nothing that I considered an imminent threat.  That was 16 years ago, and it took me right out of my life as I knew it! 
Looking back, I missed or ignored a lot of incidents/symptoms  that should have sent me running to my doctor. About a month before my doctor told me I was having a heart attack, I had several unexplainable experiences. Except, I was diabetic, and I chalked the episodes up to low blood sugar, never checking to see if that was true. Twice during that month before, I was doing my weekly grocery shopping and found I couldn’t get all the way around the store. I felt dizzy, nauseated, and out of breath–like I was going to faint. Once I was at the register checking out, and I had to ask the check-out person to call my husband to come get me (we lived five minutes away) because I felt so sick. She called for me while I sat down. (before cell phones) He came and took me home where I had something to eat (low blood sugar?) and took a nap. When I awoke, I was feeling better. A couple of weeks later, it happened again at the same grocery store, only this time, I left my basket half-way around the store, and walked out to the car and sat until I felt like I could drive home. Then it happened again in a fast food restaurant where I had stopped for lunch. I got so weak feeling, i had to give the counter person a note with my phone number asking them to call Max to come get me. At work, I couldn’t seem to regulate my temperature–I was always so hot I couldn’t stand it, but I thought I must be entering menopause.  I had these coughing spells, with no sign of a cold or anything. I’d cough so hard and so long, I’d have to leave therapy groups and even individual sessions, very disruptive to the process!  In hind sight, yes, i was an idiot not to go to the doctor. But I was only 50, a professional psychotherapist and an active volunteer. With one daughter in college, and one a junior in high school, I was too young to be seriously ill.  (Denial, Denial, Denial) 
But I was worried enough to talk to the nurse at work about it. She scared me with tales of people having heart attacks while driving and killing themselves and other people. My mother, a diabetic also, had her first heart attack at age 50, duh, that should have been a clue!  I had always thought my life was so much less stressful than hers, I’d never thought it would happen to me!
On the way home from work that evening, I decided, on the spur of the moment, to pull into an urgent care center close to my house.  We lived in a very small town. The doctor checked me over and gave me an EKG, which surprised me. then he looked into my eyes, and said, “I’m calling an ambulance, I think you’re having a heart attack.”  
Shock hardly describes my reaction, and I was full of rationalizations, denial, and bargaining!  “Can’t I just go home and pack a bag, and get my husband to carry me to the hospital? It’s just five minutes away, I’ll be fine I’m sure.”  When he said no, he’d call my husband to meet me at the hospital, I said again, “You’ve got to be kidding!” LOL, some people are so hard-headed, I never thought I was! 
We went to the hospital and they did all kinds of tests then a heart catheterization, my first of 15 to come! My doctor, a cardiologist called in, explained that, depending upon what they found when they did the cath, they wanted me to give them permission to place stents in my heart, or to do a bypass. “You’ve got to be kidding.” I was very erudite!  But I gave permission. 
After the cath, they said there was nothing they could do for me, that I had advanced coronary artery disease, and that they were calling a helicopter to life flight me to a large teaching hospital, at Duke University, about 3 hours away! I know you are sick of hearing about my stupidity, normally I’m not like that I swear, but here came another, “You’re kidding , you’ve got to be kidding!”  Did I really think that? No, I was just totally incredulous! 
I arrived at Duke about 4am I remember. A team of doctors, nurses, and technicians surrounded me!  No one in my family was even there yet, I was scared. I could feel my heart fluttering, I had never noticed that before, and they took me right into the cardiac cath lab. 
This story would be and might be, a book in itself one day. I surely can’t tell you all of it right here. I was in and out of the hospital constantly for the next six months. I was diagnosed with stage four coronary artery disease, inoperable, my LAD was 99% blocked, my coronary arteries were “withered” I was told, due to my diabetes, and they said I needed a transplant to live more than five years! Oh, and by the way, you can’t go back to work, not now anyway, maybe not ever.  
Shock and depression set in! I wanted to die, I didn’t want to be a burden to my husband and asked him for a divorce! He refused to leave me. I felt guilty that my daughters were so upset, one left college her freshman year to come home and help care for me. One changed her wedding plans. We had to sell our lovely house, our home, because we’d lost half our income. We decided  to move back nearer to Duke. What an upheaval. 
How is it that I am here 16 years later? I did not have a transplant for many reasons, I did have some experimental, open heart surgery that researchers later determined was probably not helpful.  I take like 15 prescription drugs a day, to slow my heart rate, to keep my platelets from sticking together to form a clot,  to lower my blood pressure, to lower my cholesterol, for the diabetes, for my thyroid, yada, yada, yada. They think the medicinal regimen has saved my life.  I think they are right, but I also felt the prayers of the many, many people and groups who lifted me up, I know it is a large part of the reason I am still here.  I’m not sure just why I am still here, I thought I’d found my path as a therapist, but now my genealogical research and my relatively new writing  have given me new directions. The depression lifted, with medicine and with the support of family and friends, I lifted my head and looked around, and started a “new normal”–very unlike my old life,  but a good life in many, many ways. As I roll around my neighborhood, often with a grandchild perched on the arm of my power wheelchair, sometimes singing “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah” at the top of our lungs, I am thankful for all the many, many, blessings in my life. 

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“G” is for Genealogy, One of My Passions


 (This blog post was written as part of the A – Z blogging challenge given by 10 Minute Novelists. Therefore it is somewhat of an introduction of my blog and genealogical work, very familiar already to my  blog readers whose support I appreciate greatly, hope you enjoy this as well.)

Langhorne, James Steptoe to Anne Cary, cropped

Everyone who knows me, knows I am into genealogy! Yesterday, I joined a facebook group called “Genealogy Addicts Anonymous”!  Seriously.  Not one of us who joined this group wants to give up genealogy, we just want to join together with other ancestry obsessed!  I belong to four or five other genealogy groups online as well–like Genealogy Bloggers, Genea Bloggers, Irish Genealogists, Scotland’s People, Italian Genealogy, and more. Besides my own blog, I write for “Worldwide Genealogy~A Genealogical Collaboration”.  My blog is featured in a Netherland blog as well, as I occasionally write about my Dutch ancestors.  It’s fun, it’s informative, and we hope our work will leave our families something to treasure. Now that I’ve added stories about my ancestors through my blog “Heart of a Southern Woman”. I hope it just adds joy to the facts I’ve found in my research.

Genealogy picture, funny

 I keep my main family trees on ancestry .com, with a backup on Family Tree Maker on my computer. My main tree, “Old Virginia Families” has over 23,000 people in it now! I have actually got 26 other family trees I have started on ancestry as well. These include, one for my husband’s family, and the rest for cousins! This has been my hobby/avocation for the last nine years.  It is absorbing, intriguing, and makes me feel like a detective at times. Yet, I have several “brick walls” still,  places where I can’t find the next generation. Lots of times, a group of us have gotten together to pool our skills, but we still can’t always find that elusive connection!
Katy and Liam, grandchildren of author, in front of the Governor's Palace, designed by their 10th Great Grandfather, Henry Cary

Katy and Liam, grandchildren of author, in front of the Governor’s Palace in Williamsburg, Virginia, designed by their 10th Great Grandfather, Henry Cary

 A lot of people ask me questions about my work, other than who did you discover in your family tree this week? (one of my favorites) Questions like have you found anyone famous? Yes– how exciting is that! How about anyone historical? Yes, and yes!  Have you ever found someone in your family tree in jail? The answer is yes, I was shocked!  These finds thrilled and surprised  me! I had no idea I could trace my family back to Jamestown and the Mayflower! That I had ancestors who were the first in New Jersey! No idea one of my cousins married the daughter of Daniel Boone–after saving her from the Indians! Can you believe I am kin to the Plantagenets, the Tudors, and royalty in Scotland, Denmark, and Russia for heaven’s sake!  You can find all these stories in the index of my blog.  I actually did trace my granddaughter Eve back to Eve of Adam and Eve! No wonder I am kin to everyone, I guess we really all are!
Six Degrees of Separtion visualization by Dnnie Walker featured in Wikipedia article about this subject. see link in accompanying post

Six Degrees of Separtion visualization by Dnnie Walker featured in Wikipedia article about this subject. see link in accompanying post

 As for you  metaphysical folks–I’ve found some interesting phenomena in my family tree. In fact I wrote a five-part series about it in my blog, which you can find if interested at Interesting Phenomena in our Family Trees–in Our Lives–Coincidence? Happenstance? Serendipity? Reincarnation? Six Degrees of Difference?”
 One of the most fun things I have done in my life, was to get my dna done for genealogical purposes! Oh my gracious, it opened doors and introduced me to a hundred cousins I never knew before! I have attended at least two family reunions, with a third planned, for family I met through my dna or genealogical research alone, who are now good friends and actual family! The heart just grows you know!

DNA relative

 DNA also gave me my ethnic background, and verified what I already knew from my research–I am a melting pot American!  Scottish, Irish, English, Welsh, French, Dutch, Danish, Russian, Italian, Iberian Peninsula, Caucasus and more! LOL What fun is that, kin to the World!
This journey of genealogical research has turned into a lifetime’s adventure and more fun than I ever dreamed possible! What do you know about your own ancestors?

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“F” is for A Flamboyance of Flamingos!



The 82 year-old man looked forlornly out his window as he cut off the lights and prepared to go to bed. Would Spring ever come? He knew he was down in the dumps, because it had been a long winter with record snowfalls, and he hadn’t seen anything but white and gray for months.  He was so ready for a colorful Spring–but would it ever come? He’d had a lot of trouble with his back and knees as well, so he wasn’t sure just how much he’d be able to do in his beloved garden this year. His knees had given him so much trouble, he hadn’t been to church, or anywhere in weeks…that was the problem, he had cabin fever! He said a little prayer that God would help him look on the bright side, starting the very next day. With that thought in his mind, he kissed his wife goodnight, wrapped up in a warm soft blanket, and snoozed away.

The next morning, his wife awakened him and seemed so excited, you’d think it was Christmas! For a minute he wondered if the kids had surprised them and arrived with the grandchildren to cheer them up! “No,” she said, “just hurry, come get your coffee and see!”

Struggling into his robe and sliding on his slippers, he shuffled into the kitchen hardly opening his eyes. It seemed last night’s vows– of enjoying today had gotten lost overnight.  His wife handed him a cup of coffee, dark and strong just the way he liked it. Then to his surprise, she walked over to the large bay window and threw open the curtains. He’d never seen her do such a thing, and thought maybe it had snowed 10 feet!  

What a shock he had– to see 100 or more ,plastic pink flamingos strutting around his front yard!  He laughed out loud–a booming, house shaking belly laugh! What else could you do?  “So that’s what you call a flamboyance of flamingos?!” he said. He and his wife just stood side by side, gazing out the window, with a silly grin on their faces which gave way to giggles every so often. “Thank you God,” the man whispered as he squeezed his wife’s hand. He knew that this was a message from his church, from the minister and the kids! They were saying “We miss you!”  “We love you!” “Here’s some color for your world!”  How wonderful, it was kind of like being wrapped in cotton candy! He decided he couldn’t wait another minute to be outside among them, robe and all! Suddenly his knees didn’t hurt so badly, things were looking brighter, and wasn’t that a Spring breeze he smelled in the air?!

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“E” is for Evie, Eve or Evelyn, our Grandaughter


Evie and Grandaddy Max, try out her new rocking horse made by Max.Easter, 2015

Evelyn Noel Orcutt is my youngest grandchild – the youngest of three, Liam 7, Katy 3, and Evie 15 months, who belong to my daughter Ali-Alexandra Kathryn Holshouser and her husband Gregory Alan Orcutt.   Pictured above with her Grandaddy Max, my husband, who made that beautiful mahogany and oak rocking horse for the children for Easter, 2015.

Evie is just coming into her own as a little person, not just a baby. I love to see her playing games with us like when she is in her high chair and throws her sippy cup onto the floor for the 10th time, and says “Oh-oh! “ so convincingly as if it were an accident!” Someone picks it up, and within a second it is back on the floor, as long as someone is playing! She laughs and giggles..oh my gracious, is there better food for the soul than the sound of a child’s laughter?

Evie has quite a genealogical history behind her name, as do many in our family. Her paternal grandmother, whom she adores, is named Evelyn Kaye Brown, called Kaysie. Grammy Kaysie, to the kids, is full of energy and joyful fun!  Kaysie’s maternal grandmother was also an Evelyn, her name was Hulda Evelyn Haslop Marcelle. Evie’s relationship chart to her looks like this:

Hulda Evelyn Haslop (1895 – 1977)

is your 2nd great grandmother

Constance Marcelle (1920 – 1991)

daughter of Hulda Evelyn Haslop

Evelyn Kaye Brown (1948 – )

daughter of Constance Marcelle

Gregory Alan Orcutt (1971 – )

son of Evelyn Kaye Brown

Evelyn Noel Orcutt

You are the daughter of Gregory Alan Orcutt

On her maternal side, Evie has a Great Aunt Evelyn, also called Evie by the family. Her whole name was Mary Evelyn Langhorne Kearse. She was the oldest of seven children and my mother’s sister. She also has  a third great grandmother named Evaline or Evelyn Langhorne. Their relationship chart looks like this:

Evaline Langhorne (1866 – 1900)

is your 3rd great grandmother

Katherine Steptoe Houchins(1883 – 1943)

daughter of Evaline (going blind when died young)) Langhorne

Margaret Steptoe Kearse (1918 – 1980), sister of Mary Evelyn Langhorne

daughters of Katherine Steptoe Houchins

Helen Spear Youngblood(1949 – )

daughter of Margaret Steptoe Kearse

Alexandra “Ali” Kathryn Holshouser (1974 – )

daughter of Helen Spear Youngblood

Evelyn Noel Orcutt

You are the daughter of Alexandra “Ali” Kathryn Holshouser

Kerse, Evelyn

Mary Evelyn Langhorne Kearse

Isn’t that an interesting legacy, at least 4 Evelyn namesakes , two from her Father’s side of the family and two from her Mother’s side.

Actually, there are more Evelyn’s in our tree I am sure, but perhaps the most important one is her relationship to Eve of Adam and Eve! Truly, I have gathered together, with the help of other researchers, our family line from Eve Orcutt, b. 2013, to Eve born about 4020 BC! I cannot print the ancestral line in this post, because I have it in a notebook, and it takes up about 22 pages. I have not had it checked by a Biblical scholar, but I would truly like to have that done one day.  I put it together as a gift for Evie and for our whole family, and it feels awesome to I look at it. If you have a strong desire to look at this information, leave me a message in a comment and we’ll see what we can do. 

I’d love to hear about your own name legacies in your families, who are you named for, do you know? Is there a story? I’d love to hear about it.



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“C” is for Cake–Created by Father and Daughter



Red Velvet cheesecake

Close your eyes, take a deep breath, smell the aroma of hot baking chocolate, as the red velvet pound cake is brought out of the oven….mmmmmm. Now, in your mind’s eye, see and smell the moist, warm, delicious, velvety pound cake  as you cut into it and the steam rises! The white chocolate icing poured over it a minute ago just adds to the anticipation as it slowly slides down the sides. Now open your eyes, and take a bite of that heavenly tasting cake served to you by ….oh my gracious…it’s my daughter Annie! She has become a Pastry Chef!

My husband Max is also quite a good baker, and enjoys it. He learned from his mother, and Max has made decorated cakes for our children and grandchildren for the last 43 years. It should not have surprised me that one of our daughters would take after the two of them. Our daughter Annie  went to Appalachian State University here in North Carolina where she earned a degree in business management and hospitality.  Last year she went back to school, surprising us by deciding she wanted a certificate as a pastry chef! I guess we were so used to Max being the baker in our family, we hadn’t yet realized the student might surpass the teacher, or at least team-up with him! Along the way, she learned a lot of other skills, like working with knives (yikes), sanitation and safety, artisan bread making (yum), and cake baking and decorating!  I remember when she began to make fondant flowers–oh my gracious, I had no idea she had such artistic, sculpting ability inside! (parents are always the last to know, the last to believe the talents of their own children–because they are CHILDREN–even at 30!) LOL  Today I want to show you some of her and some of Max’s incredible baking creations–from wedding cakes to gingerbread houses, they are both  gold medal winners!

Here’s wishing that you always get to eat incredible, mouth-watering, moist and delicious cake!

Annie’s cakes and creations:


Max’s cakes, a few:


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