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Urban Posters 2

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It looks like shipped my order today, almost exactly three months after I ordered it.  I still have not received feedback regarding the lateness or the multiple e-mails, or the BBB complaint, and I suppose I don’t expect to now, as they will feel they fulfilled their end of the bargain.  I am not satisfied, however, and will still not order from them again.  Three months for posters they said they had in stock is ridiculous.  Amazon does better with out of print materials than that!

Crossposted at Much Madness is Divinest Sense, the Pensieve, and

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Consider this post a public service announcement.

Back in mid-August, I ordered two posters from the website poster outfitter  September came and went, and they had not arrived.  Furthermore, the company did not respond to numerous e-mails regarding my order.  I filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau, but the company has yet to respond to that complaint as well.  I’m out about $27, which is not a lot, but much more disturbing to me than the fact that I lost money is the fact that the company ignored repeated requests and a BBB complaint.  I have rarely received such shoddy customer service anywhere. I would urge you strongly not to do business with this company and to spread the word around.

Crossposted at, Much Madness is Divinest Sense, and the Pensieve.

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A Question of Honor

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A Question of HonorAfter over six years of sitting on a finished book without time to shop it to agents and publishers (aside from the odd submission here and there), I finally decided to publish my book with

A Question of Honor is a young adult novel set in medieval Wales and Scotland. Gwenllian has been accused of a horrible crime; she’s not even sure she is innocent herself. How can she resolve this question of honor?

Support independent publishing: buy this book on Lulu.

Tagged: Five Things You Might Not Know About Me

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I have been tagged by two people to participate in this meme, but I have struggled with what I should say, and furthermore, who else I should tag.  I decided the best thing would be to participate, but not to tag anyone else, mainly because everyone I could think of has already done it and the thought of searching for genealogy bloggers who hadn’t was causing me to procrastinate something terrible.  So I offer five things you might not know about me (at least not if this is the only one of my blogs you read):

  1. I am a walking encyclopedia on Arthurian legend and Harry Potter lore.
  2. I have been published in education circles — a study guide for Beowulf for Penguin-Putnam and an article on integrating Judaic concepts with a study of Benjamin Franklin’s autobiography in English Journal.
  3. My husband is a true crime writer, and he has a very popular blog on the topic.
  4. I am a big fan of blues music, but I like all kinds.  Blues is practically all I’m listening to right now.
  5. I have played flute, French horn, and guitar, but I do not currently play any instruments.  I could probably pick up the flute and guitar again with some practice, but I’m too rusty on the French horn.  I pick up musical instruments fairly easily.

That’s it!

Genealogy Gifts

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At this time of year, thoughts turn toward giving (and receiving) gifts. I have received so many gifts related to genealogy. First of all, I have made friendships with distant relatives. Of the three Christmas cards I’ve received so far this year, two are from distant cousins Chris Stofel and Helen Lowry.

Helen sent me a wonderful gift once of a photograph of my great-great-great-grandparents and their family taken in about 1880. Chris has sent me some wonderful information about our family, including my great-great-great-grandfather Shelby McDaniel’s Civil War records (he deserted!)

My grandfather’s cousin Lee probably doesn’t know this, but he is the one who got me started researching my ancestors. Some years ago — and my memory says 1990, but that may be off by a bit — he sent my grandparents a copy of “The Descendants of William Cunningham.” At that point, he had researched the Cunningham family tree back about as far as any of us have been able to trace it — to William Cunningham born in 1792. At that time, Lee’s chart was really more of a complete descendant chart for Amos Blakey Cunningham, William Cunningham’s grandson, as any descendants of Amos’s brothers and sisters, or aunts and uncles, were not included. Since then, Lee has added more of these descendants of William Cunningham and the tree is more complete. I had never thought before about where I came from or who my ancestors were, and I was intrigued. I used library time in the stacks at UGA’s library to do more research, but back in those days I didn’t know what I was looking for and scarcely knew how to take it down if I did find something. Still, it got me started.

My grandfather’s cousin Mary, who is Lee’s sister, has given me the amazing gift of a CD full of family photos. In addition, she gave me copies of several family photos of my great-grandparents and great-great-grandparents. She also gave me a photocopy of my great-great-grandmother Stella Bowling’s diary, which I transcribed. It would be hard for me to put into words how much these gifts have meant to me.

The best gift I ever gave myself was a subscription to I have balked at paying for the subscription for years on the principle that the information they collect is available elsewhere. However, once they made the census records from 1790 to 1930 available, I had to check it out. I reasoned that I would spend much more than the cost of the subscription fee in traveling to view all the documents they have available online. Frankly, I wouldn’t have been able to travel because of family constraints. I have small children at home and I work full time. My enables me to learn about my family.

Several years back, I made my grandfather a genealogy-related gift with information about his family tree. If memory serves, there may be some errors in that information I’ve since corrected. There is also additional information that I’ve learned. It is my plan to give genealogy books to family members for Christmas this year.

If I could ask the genealogy fairy for anything, it might be to break through the brick wall I’ve hit with the aforementioned William Cunningham and to learn more about my paternal grandmother’s mysterious antecedents. I would also like more time to do research.

What’s My Legacy?

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In the movie Forrest Gump, Forrest sits next to his mother at her death bed. They have a conversation that is, on the surface, about Forrest’s destiny. Underneath, however, it is a conversation about what Forrest is going to do without his beloved mother.

“I happen to believe you make your own destiny. You have to do the best with what God gave you.”

“What’s my destiny, Mama?”

“You’re gonna have to figure that out for yourself. Life is a box of chocolates, Forrest. You never know what you’re gonna get.”

Somehow, in my mind, when I remember that quote, I turn Forrest’s question into “What’s my legacy, Mama?”

I think one of the reasons I am so interested in genealogy is because it helps me see that I do fit in this greater family, this web of humanity, in some way. I suppose I have felt like a bit of an outsider. Had I been born at an earlier time, I most likely would have died. I was blue from lack of oxygen. I was placed in an incubator for some time and I became well enough to go home. Later, when I was about six months old, a bout of gastrointeritis nearly killed me, and probably would have, had my grandmother not insisted I receive immediate medical care. I should explain that my mother was very worried about me, but prepared to do as the medical officals said and take me home — to wait, in other words. She was a young mother, inexperienced, and in her shoes, I’d have followed the medical advice, too. My grandmother demanded to see the doctor, who recognized the gravity of my condition and admitted me immediately.

Ever since I found this out, I suppose it has been in the back of my mind that I was actually destined to die, that my life has been a gift that was not supposed to exist, and sometimes I wonder why. I wonder why I am here, why I am me instead of someone else. Why was I allowed to survive? It has to be something more than good medical care. Plenty of people have access to that and don’t survive. Plenty don’t have access, yet they still survive.

So I am wondering if there is some specific reason I’m here. One thing I do know is that had I not survived my birth and later illness, then my three children would never have existed. I don’t know what may have happened to my family had I died. I suppose it’s possible my sister may not have been born. The death of a child creates ripples. Would it have torn my parents apart? Perhaps they would have had a child earlier than my sister, and she wouldn’t have been born.

When I began studying genealogy, I realized how precarious our existence is. If one couple 200, no 1000 years ago had decided not to marry, or even decided not to have sex at the exact moment they did, I wouldn’t be here. And not just me — you, too. It’s a heavy burden to bear in some ways. The fact that I exist impresses upon me the feeling that I have an obligation to do something with that existence.

Sometimes, I ask myself if I’m spending my life wisely or wasting it. I would like to think being a teacher is a good way to spend one’s life, but I also know there are things I want to do and places I want to go.

I just finished Diane Setterfield’s book The Thirteenth Tale (you can read my review here). I was struck by the character Vida Winter’s assertion:

All children mythologize their birth. It is a universal trait. You want to know someone? Heart, mind and soul? Ask him to tell you about when he was born. What you get won’t be the truth; it will be a story. And nothing is more telling than a story.

Perhaps this is true. I think we also mythologize the lives of those who came before us, when we learn who they are, that is, and turn census records and the odd historical document or record into flesh and blood people. Perhaps we learn enough about them to give them certain characteristics. I think that many genealogists are more interested in the stories of their ancestors than in collecting names as far back as they can go.

Maybe it’s our way of fulfilling our legacy. In a way, it bothers me that a lot of people move through their entire lives, start to finish, without thinking about where they come from, where they are going, and what they are leaving behind.

Herman Cunningham and John Roy McCravey

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About a month ago, my Aunt Carolyn sent me some interesting photos.  I have previously posted a photo of my great-grandfather, Herman Cunningham, taken while he was serving in WWI.  He is posing with John Roy McCravey of Floydada, Texas in the photo.  I don’t know how the two knew each other, and I surmised they may have posed for this photo because they were from the same area of Texas.

Herman Cunningham and John Roy McCravey

In her e-mail, Aunt Carolyn said that the two had looked for each other for years after the war.  I am not sure when they reunited, but judging from my great-grandfather’s appearance and the appearance of the photo, I think it must be the late-1960’s to mid-1970’s.  Carolyn believes she has a newspaper clipping describing their reunion.  Again, John Roy McCravey is on the left in both photos, while Herman Cunningham stands on the right.

John Roy McCreavy and Herman Cunningham, circa 1966-1975

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