Thursday, February 24, 2011

Mountain View Cemetery, Part Two

Again, many thanks to my dad and stepmother for sharing these wonderful photos of this cemetery near Casa Grande, Arizona.

A grassier section ~


A few more graves ~


The very simple, but touching marker of Rena



Friday, February 18, 2011

Forebear Friday – Abel Parlin Adams

abeladams‘ Abel Adams and his wife, Eliza Hudson
Abel Parlin Adams was the son of Abial and Irena (Gray) Adams, born in Vermont.  He left his home in Orleans county, and headed for Massachusetts, there marrying Eliza Hudson, a native of Canada, in 1853 in Lowell, Middlesex county. 
Two daughters, Nettie and Jennie, were born about 1857, and in 1859.  During these years, Abel worked as a pattern maker, first in Lowell, and later in Fitchburg (Worcester county).  He served during the Civil War, spending 4 months and 8 days in Company A, 7th Regiment of the Massachusetts Light Artillery.
He and his family settled in Springfield, Massachusetts, between 1870 and 1880, and after his wife died in 1901, he moved in with his youngest daughter Jennie and her husband, Charles Martensen.  There he lived for the next twenty years.
There is a death certificate for Abel in his hometown of Newport, Vermont; I have no doubt that this is his death.  However, it states his “usual residence” is in Newport, which is somewhat confusing.  He died August 4, 1920, in Newport.  But in January of 1920, when the census was taken, he was still living with his daughter Jennie in Springfield, at the age of 87 years.  Did he moved back to Newport?  If so, why?  And with whom did he live?  His oldest daughter was in Chicago, so it wasn’t her.  Was he visiting there when he died?  Was the “usual residence” an error on the part of the city clerk?
Abel was buried with his wife in Oak Grove cemetery in Springfield.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Mountain View Cemetery

Recently my father and stepmother decided to pay a visit to Mountain View Cemetery, near Casa Grande, Arizona.  They have shared photos they took of a few of the incredible memorials they found there.  I was awestruck by how personalized some of these burial sites are, and how strikingly different they are from the cemeteries I’ve visited.  I would love to see this cemetery personally.


Above: An overview of one section of the cemetery – the mounds are interesting, and quite a contrast to another section, below:


And still another section:

In looking at the cemetery photos, the incredible personalization of the burial sites was very touching.

More photos of some of the other unique graves to come ~

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

And we lived to tell about it...

I was just transcribing one of my great-grandmother’s diaries, telling of their trip to the Oahe Dam in South Dakota.  The year was 1956; they all piled into my Uncle Ray’s station wagon: Grandma and Grandpa, their two daughters and sons-in-law, and 6 kids on a mattress in the back of the wagon.


Reading this, I could almost feel my brother’s elbows in my ribs, and getting squashed by a gaggle of cousins on any of the road trips we took under similar conditions.  Sometimes there were so many kids piled in the backseat that we really weren’t sure whose foot that was...  and to make things even more exciting, there were oftentimes a dog or two in the mix.

Sometimes we’d pile into the back of my dad’s yellow pickup truck for a ride; I can still feel the wind whipping my hair around violently like it was just yesterday.  It was so exhilarating...

Awhile back in our local paper, there was an article about winter safety, and they mentioned that pulling sleds with vehicles wasn’t safe.  Even with a long rope, out in the middle of a field?  No!!  I felt a pain through my very heart!  Again, another portion of my beloved childhood memories were relegated to the Hall of Shame.

I’m not saying any of this is good, or bad, just that it’s different.  Times change.  The world changes.  Are we better off?  I don’t know.  Did the parents of the 1950s look back at past generations and think them nonchalant where safety was concerned?  I wonder.  I know only one thing ... that I won’t be telling my grandchildren about the time we ... never mind.

Image courtesy of

Friday, February 4, 2011

Future Friday – Photo Albums with a Twist, Part II

Last month I began a project to bring life to our family photos, and to make them meaningful to future generations.  At the time of my previous post, my mother and I had sat down with a photo album, a digital audio recorder, and, of course, her memories and stories.  We now have completed the project for this album, and I wanted to share our experience.
After recording our conversation, I transcribed it as closely as possible.  This was probably the most difficult part of the project, but I discovered some simple tactics that made it easier.  After transferring the audio file from the recorder to my computer, I used a media player to play it back, and transcribed it into a template I’d made in my word processing program.  I used different colored text for each person, to make the conversation easier to follow.  I could transcribe one person’s sentence, pause the recording, then simply move my cursor to the next line, and the text would automatically change color.
One of the helpful features of the media player I used was the timeclock feature.  Since this was a labor-intensive job, I did it in small bits, and by noting the clock reading (in green) I could easily pick up where I left off, or find this place in the recording if I needed to in the future.
After the transcribing was done, I scanned the pages of the photo album, in order, using numeric filenames (01, 02, etc).  I scanned at 400 dpi, and saved the files as .tif. 
When the scanning was complete, I went back to the first scan and worked page by page.  I first re-read the transcription pertaining to that page to “refamiliarize” myself with the details.  Using Irfanview to process the photos (I have no connection to this company, just like their software), I cropped each one and resized it to a manageable size, but still large enough to show detail clearly, and saved a copy as a .jpg.  These smaller versions would be incorporated into an online photo album, while keeping the original, larger scans as they were.
Again using Irfanview, I added extra “canvas” to the bottom of each photo, where I could add text.  I added the year (or an estimation), identified the people in the photo, and added any stories or pertinent details.
When I saved these .jpg copies, I used a particular formula for the filename:
1950 represents the year (if I didn’t know it, I’d estimate and use “1950Abt”) to keep the files in somewhat of a chronological order.  The middle part pertains to the subject.  If I had several photos of the same subject, I used, for instance, “museum1”, “museum2”, etc. to keep similar photos together when sorted by filename.  The last number refers to the original scan number, in case I wanted to locate the high-resolution version of this picture in the future.
Once I had this completed, I created a PhotoBucket account and uploaded the .jpgs.  Again, I have no connection to this particular company.  I use it because their free account offers a lot of space, the ability to set up multiple photo albums in one account, and offers a “guest” password so other family members can access the photos while still keeping them private from the general public.  One of the options I could chose was to sort the photos by filename, and because of the particular nomenclature I described above, the photos are in reasonable chronological order, with photos of similar occasions together, with very little effort.
All in all, this is a big project, but priceless for our descendants.  I want to bring life, interest and, in a sense, immortality to the people in these photos, who might otherwise have ended up as a bunch of smiling strangers on the page of an album.  We have many more albums to “enhance”, but I believe this is one of the best investments we’ll ever make.

Forebear Friday – Herb Ulmer

DapperHerb Herb Ulmer was both the quintessential cowboy and a dapper gentleman.  Born in 1915 along the rolling hills of the Missouri River valley in South Dakota, he moved with his family to the middle of the state at a very early age.  His parents, Christian and Katherina Ulmer, settled in Ree Heights, among the gently rolling hills, where they farmed.  Herb was ninth in a family of ten children. His father died when Herb was just six, and three years later, his mother married Christian Rosenau.
Herb earned his high school diploma in 1932 at Ree Heights and married Jessie Ball seven years later.  In the following years he owned a dance hall at St. Peter, Minnesota, and after coming back to Ree Heights, owned a billiards establishment.  But horses were his passion.
Herb traveled the rodeo circuit throughout the United States, riding in roping events, bringing home numerous trophies and buckles.  In 1964, he won the South Dakota State Barrel Racing Championship with “Rusty Habit”, pictured at right with Herb’s wife Jessie.  After retiring from the rodeo circuit, he started a horse breeding operation at Ree Heights, and raced his horses throughout the midwest.  He continued the remainder of his career as a winner, both at the horse races and as a breeder, turning out many future champions.
Herb His wife Jessie was killed in a car accident in 1971, and Herb continued alone at their ranch for the next two years, until he married my widowed mother-in-law, Louise, and became a vital part of the family.   While he had no biological children, he took on the role of father, and eventually grandfather, with a tremendous amount of patience and enthusiasm.  Everyone loved him, and with good reason.  Herb passed away in 1996.  We’ll see him again someday.  Until then, we’ll treasure the memories.