Tuesday, May 14, 2019

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – Week 20: Nature: The Gorrells Go Camping

This is my second year working on this year-long prompt, hosted by Amy Johnson Crow. I will write each week in one of my two blogs, either Mam-ma’s Southern Family or at My Trails Into the Past. I have enjoyed writing about my children’s ancestors in new and exciting ways.

One way to get out into nature is to go camping. My in-laws, George and Thelma Gorrell, were enthusiastic campers. They had five children, so camping was probably an economic way to take a vacation. But they also enjoyed being in the out of doors. A few of their sons enjoyed fishing with their dad, and two of them still fish and hunt these many years later.

Camping involved the whole family. They cooked their meals on camp stoves but also had fires going all day to keep water heated for drinks or showers or washing of dishes. They played games in the evening such as cards, spoons, or other family-fun games. Thelma like to put together jigsaw puzzles and George made a board with edges to keep the pieces from falling off.

My husband was not a huge fan of camping but we did go on a few trips after we were married in October, to celebrate George and Thelma’s anniversaries. The first two years it rained the whole weekend, but I have fond memories of the card games we played to keep occupied.

For their 40th anniversary, the whole family, including the grandchildren, took a week-long camping trip to Mount Lassen. I purchased nice air mattresses so my husband could be more comfortable. We were at a group site and we all brought our bikes. Our children became pretty proficient in riding that year. The girls also found wood and built a fort.

My favorite activity while camping is reading and taking a nap—it’s the best way to really relax. Other fun activities are taking hikes, bird watching, photographing wildflowers, and stargazing at night. Camping is most fun when there are few mosquitoes.

George and Thelma camped in tents for years but in the late 1980s, they finally purchased a motor home, which made everything easier for them.

Motor home in the woods
Tent camping


Putting puzzles together

Copyright © 2019 by Lisa S. Gorrell, My Trails into the Past. All Rights Reserved.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Monday Genea-pourri, Weeks of April 22-May 12, 2019

Genealogists are great at documenting our ancestors’ lives but not so great documenting our own. I’ll write about what I’ve been doing the past week. This idea came from Randy Seaver of Genea-Musing, who started this meme.

I spent two weeks in New York City visiting my daughter, Margaret. We attended her play, “Meg Jo Beth Amy & Louisa” twice, as well as seeing the Broadway play “Come From Away.” Historical sights we visited were Dyckman House; the old Custom House which now houses the Smithsonian Native American Museum, as well as the New York National Archives; Fraunces Tavern where George Washington gave his farewell to the troops; the old Cunard Building where passenger ships docked back in the day; and rode a train up to Poughkeepsie to visit the Roosevelt home at Hyde Park.

I also got in some bird watching on three separate days. First at Central Park with an Audubon guide. Saw a blue-winged warbler, which was a first, and again on my own, where I saw a red-bellied woodpecker. I was looking for the indigo bunting but didn’t see it. Lastly, I rode the train to New Jersey, and was met by Judy Russell. She took me to two sites where we at last spotted a palm warbler. My photos of the birds were so-so, I think because of the wind, it was difficult to focus the camera.

Blog Writing: During the two weeks I did post the two posts for 52 Ancestors:
  • For week 17, I wrote about my family and their First Communion.
  • 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks For week 18, was “road trip” and I wrote about Amos Gorrell’s move from Ohio to Missouri.
Webinars/Study Groups Attended:
  • This past week was the National Genealogical Society’s conference and I viewed the five presentations that were livestreamed on Friday, which were the BCG presentations. I really enjoyed both Elizabeth Shown Mills’ and Rebecca Whitman Koford’s presentations. I plan to watch them again.

Volunteer Work:
  • I worked the desk at the California Genealogical Society and had some customers that I helped.

Own Work: I did not do any genealogical research or writing during my trip or the week following. 
  • I am working on a column for the California Genealogical Society’s Nugget
  • I am working on a proposal to teach genealogy at the Acalanes Adult School. 
  • Spoke with Kim during the Cert discussion group on Thursday evening and we spoke about client work.

Other Activities:
  • Got a tour of the new remodeled LDS temple in Oakland on Wednesday. The director of the Family Search Center gave the tour.
  • Had a German class dinner at a new restaurant in Oakland. It was nice, but no German-speaking waiters. Still we did manage to speak some German.
  • Attended two San Francisco Giants vs. the Cincinnati Reds baseball games with my friend, Beth. They split the two games that I saw.

Copyright © 2019 by Lisa S. Gorrell, My Trails into the Past. All Rights Reserved.

Friday, May 10, 2019

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – Week 19: Nurture: Thelma Gorrell Loved Everyone

This is my second year working on this year-long prompt, hosted by Amy Johnson Crow. I will write each week in one of my two blogs, either Mam-ma’s Southern Family or at My Trails Into the Past. I have enjoyed writing about my children’s ancestors in new and exciting ways.

This week before Mother’s Day is appropriate for talking about my second mother, Thelma Marie Nilsen Gorrell, my mother-in-law.

She was the oldest daughter of Arthur Nathaniel Nilsen and Agnes Hilma Carolina Lundquist. Four brothers were born before her, one brother after her, and then three sisters, one who died as an infant.

So being the oldest daughter, a lot of responsibility fell on her that did not fall to her older brothers. Inside work was “women’s” work. Her mother was weak and bedridden. Because of her  mother’s sickness, Thelma took care of many household chores.

At the age of ten, it was Thelma who found her mother had passed away. She had to go to the neighbor’s home to get help.

When her father remarried, the step mother expected a lot from Thelma as well. She had to come home straight from school to do chores and couldn’t join Girl Scouts or be in the chorus or on a sports team.

Still, even though her childhood was hard, she had a loving soul. She saw the positive in everyone. She gave freely of her money and helped whenever she could.

I felt this, the first time my future husband brought me home to meet his family. Thelma was so welcoming. I knew we’d be kinship souls when I saw the kinds of books she read. She loved mysteries and the westerns written by Louis L’Amour, as do I. At the first Christmas together, she had presents (yes plural) for me so I felt like part of the family.

Over the years she was very active with her church, singing in the choir and working as their bookkeeper. She put in a lot of hours but it was clearly her calling.

She also loved and adored all of her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Whether they were biological or step, it didn’t matter. She loved spending time with them and also buying them Christmas presents. Every child had a subscription to Highlights or another magazine. She thought it was very important that a special magazine was addressed specifically to each child.

Four of her granddaughters lived nearby and she would buy or make matching dresses. She adorned having them stay with her. They went to the State Fair or county or city parks. Often they went camping. She played games with them or cooked or baked in the kitchen. A favorite among the girls were Swedish Pancakes.

Thelma passed away in 2018 at the age of 92. She lived a very long, loving life, and is greatly missed.

Copyright © 2019 by Lisa S. Gorrell, My Trails into the Past. All Rights Reserved.