Sunday, March 21, 2010

Rainy Sunday Kept Changing Our Plans Too

Plans today kept changing too. (It is after midnight—but I am still thinking it is Sunday night.) We had planned to eat out today with daughter Katherine’s family, but with the rain and other problems, we did not. So I quickly opened a jar of spaghetti sauce and added it to already browned ground beef from the freezer. (Daughter Jeannie taught me the advantages or keeping frozen browned ground beef on hand ready to use.) Brian dropped by and ate a plate with us before he headed back to central Illinois.

Finally I remembered that I had planned originally to go our first 2010 meeting of the Illinois Chapter of Trail of Tears Association. But after Gerald decided he wanted to celebrate his birthday by going to the softball tournament at Knoxville this weekend, I had emailed our chapter president that I would likely be in Tennessee.

I had actually forgotten today’s meeting despite the great publicity given it. When I remembered, with the chilly rain coming down and a tie-breaker game going on that I wanted to follow, I was tempted to stay home and skip the meeting. But I wanted to hear Herman Petersen’s presentation, so I left the dishes in the sink and drove slowly to Vienna—not wanting to hydroplane in the rain.

I thought maybe the crowd would be slight with the rain, but I had to park a long way from the library door. (That is when I discovered the fold-up umbrella I usually carry in the car pocket was no longer there.) Entering the downstairs community room and shedding my dripping raincoat, I was pointed to a couple of empty seats on the back row by Sandy Boaz. They were filled when I squeezed back there, but one unfolded chair was there. Two or three people kindly lifted it out and passed it and set it up in the one tiny space remaining. Others came in who had to stand throughout the meeting after the chairs ran out.

I enjoyed seeing again the National Park Service video again about the Trail of Tears. I was very glad to hear Herman Petersen’s story of his own search for information about his Cherokee ancestor. Since there are few records of the Cherokee in the 19th century, such family history searching is quite challenging. Herman started his family story in Norway, from where his known ancestors came.

Since his great grandfather, the Cherokee, had moved out of Indian Territory before 1895, neither he nor his daughter were there to be on the Dawes Roll. But Herman did find this man’s mother listed as already deceased on the special census that was taken to prepare for the Dawes Rolls and also the sister who did not leave Indian Territory. Herman’s pride in his Cherokee heritage was made clear by wearing a ribbon shirt and a typical turban that the men often wore in 1838. At someone’s request, he had to demonstrate how to roll the turban.

The difficulty of researching Cherokee heritage was also clear by his presentation, but then all family research can be challenging. So often, as in my own family, relatives had the same first name. In our case the William Martins almost overwhelm us with confusion sometimes.

Johnson County Historical and Genealogical Society members, who hosted this meeting for TOTA, always serve homemade cookies to go with coffee and drinks. During this social time at the end of the meeting, it was interesting to find so many people searching for ancestors who had dropped off the Trail here in Illinois. One woman who had just started searching was referred to Joe Crabb, who knew her people. In fact, thanks to Joe, her relative from Womble Mountain recorded the family story for us shortly before his death. It makes us grateful that we did get some of these stories recorded before it was too late.

The first question I asked Gerald when I got back home—had Georgia Dogs been able to come back again after being behind when I left for the meeting. (My cell phone is not working again, so I couldn’t call on the way home. I thought I had the phone fixed—so now I must take it back for another fix.) The answer was yes—in an overtime inning. Then I fixed us a bite to eat.

We were both concerned because a young friend of ours from Texas was coming to Saint Louis for a seminar this week and had planned to come early and visit us on the farm for Gerald’s birthday. We were both excited about this, but overnight Gerald’s cold had taken a terrible turn for the worse. (Yesterday he seemed better.) We did not want to tell him not to come, but Gerald didn’t feel he should let him come and be coughed on either. When he called and asked Gerald how he was, Gerald said not so good. Brad said why, and Gerald said because he was almost 80 years old! Brad then explained that he was not so good either—he was in the hospital at Denton with shingles and so would not be able to visit us after all. He promised to come a weekend later in the year after he gets back from a trip to India, so we look forward to that.

It was too late to go to our evening church service, so while I glanced through a large file folder (a real treasure trove of information) that a lady brought me this afternoon from Michael Scott, I also watched the debate and media coverage of the historical passage of the health bill. That is why I am writing after midnight.

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