Always Anxiously Engaged

Peggy Clemens Lauritzen, AG

Accredited Genealogist and AG are certification marks of the International Commission for the Accreditation of Professional Genealogists (ICAPGen). Genealogists licensed to use the marks have met the competency standards of ICAPGen.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Today I am grateful for parents that taught me preparedness.
My parents instilled something in me from the time I was just a little girl, just as it had been instilled in them by their parents. The lesson was to be prepared.
They taught me skills that could be beneficial to me in case of a crisis. And, a crisis could be anything -- from a power outage, to an attack, to a truck strike, to unemployment, to just about anything.
Let me tell you some things they taught me:
1. Both of them taught me how to cook over an open fire, both outside and in a fireplace. It takes some skill to cook in cast iron and not burn everything on the outside, leaving it raw on the inside.
Malabar Farm hosts a Thanksgiving meal each year that the participants cook themselves over open fires.  I am stirring a kettle of potato soup with sausage and kale.
2. Mom taught me how to survive in the woods if I ever became lost. She taught me what I could eat, what to stay away from, and even how to build a shelter.
Kerry and I went hiking on Backbone Mountain in Maryland a few years ago.

Once, when we were in the holler behind her parents' house, she was showing me these things, and issued a warning; that if I were to ever begin smelling something like a cucumber or a very, very still. Why? Because a copperhead may be near by.
I laughed at her.
Until a couple of years later when we were walking. I smelled a cucumber like it had just been cut. I turned around to say something to her and she motioned to be still. She pointed her head to the right, and there indeed was a copperhead, coiled. Read to strike.
Mom always had a walking stick and a few rocks in her pocket. Without moving, she reached in for a rock, flicked it, and totally decapitated that snake.
I died. I never laughed at her again.
3. Both mom and dad taught me how to shoot. They set up targets and wouldn't let me go until I had satisfied them. Later, when I got my CCW, I blew away the center of the targets. The instructor and other students said, "Dang! Who taught you how to shoot?" My Kentucky mama.
4. They always had a big garden, Jack-in-the-Beanstalk style. When everyone else's gardens would be drying up and failing, their's flourished. Mom planted leftover smelt (fish) in the corn and bean hills one year, and every doggone cat in the neighborhood was in that garden!

Mom always wore her bonnets in the garden or when working in her flowers.  
They hang in my house today.
5. They preserved everything they grew. I spent my childhood snapping beans, peeling apples, cutting corn, making ketchup, apple butter, applesauce, etc. Someone once asked me if I was afraid to eat something canned. Are you kidding me? I knew what went in the jar!
6. To be prepared to evacuate. A 72-hour kit wasn't really called that when I was young, but we had something to keep us going in a catastrophe. Depending on the government to help us was not ever mentioned, and was absolutely not an option. Take care of your own self.
7. Cook from scratch. Look at what you have on the shelf and make something out of it. Don't go running for convenience foods that has unidentifiable stuff in it.
8. Learn how to hide. My parents stuffed me up into a fireplace when a rash of tornadoes came barreling through our part of Ohio. They pulled the dining room table up close and stayed underneath it while I was in a safer place in the sturdy fireplace well. We had no basement.
9. Keep kerosene lamps filled with oil to spare. Keep wicks. Don't use scented candles, for the odors will all mix together and give you a headache. Mom always turned all of the lights out on Christmas eve, just having the tree lights and kerosene lamps on. I still do it to this day.
10. Be prepared to help your neighbor. They might not have been taught as well as you have.
And so, I still do these things. I don't can as much as I used to, but I can recall Kerry and the kids and I looking at over 800 jars of food we had put up as a family. Everyone had their part.
I thank my parents for teaching me these "old-fashioned" ways, for they learned from their parents, who learned from their parents...

Sunday, November 15, 2015

I mourn with France

My head and my heart are heavy this week as we reel from all of the newscasts that are flooding the media.  I mourn with the people of France.

I have never been to France.  But, my heart has.  I took four years of French in high school.  I don't know why.  Everyone else seemed to be taking Spanish, which I probably should have done.  But, I've never been one to jump on bandwagons, so I took French.

The first thing we did in French class was look up all of the bad words.  To this day, the only things I can remember in French are beef, eggs, and telling someone where to go.

But, during my senior year I was invited to go on a special trip to France.  I was one of the top students in the class, so part of the fee for traveling would be covered.  Somehow, we would have to come up with the other part.

And, we did.  Things were falling into place.  I had my passport photo taken, which was awful.  We could piece together whatever else I would need.  My parents weren't too thrilled about it, but I convinced them I would be just fine with the group that was going.  My French teacher with the tight little Cheerio curls had been there many times before.
Peggy - passport photo, 1973

As we were narrowing down to the day, out of the blue my brother-in-law felt I shouldn't go.  What?  He just didn't feel good about it.  He talked with my parents, and they listened to him.

Perhaps it is well they did.  Lightning hit the plane on its way over there.  It didn't go down.  All of the students were safe.

I guess I just wasn't supposed to go.  For whatever reason it might have been, I wasn't supposed to be there.  And, I wasn't.

I still can only remember beef, eggs, and telling someone where to go.  Oh, and cheese!  I remember cheese.

Aahh...brie, a loaf of French bread, some sparkling grape juice...

But, aside from the tragedy that has beset France, I have also been delighted to learn that I have some French ancestry -- something I didn't know during my high school years.  That would have really been the icing on the cake!  

I have discovered some ancestors that were French Hugenots, as well as some that were from the Alsace-Lorraine area, long before it created in 1871.  There was always a dispute between France and Germany over this border area.  My people are from both countries.

So, though I've never been to the country that came to rescue us in the Revolutionary War, a small part of my heart -- and my heritage -- remains there.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Big conference...Little conference...And the love of our youth!

I had the wonderful opportunity to speak to the Muskingum County Chapter of the Ohio Genealogical Society.  What a delight!

It was held in Zanesville, which is approximately 1 1/2 hours from my home.  This time, I drove alone and relished in the beautiful pre-autumn countryside that surrounded me.

The first thing that caught my eye was a very old schoolhouse that I have passed many times before.  Or, it might have even been a church house.  I don't know.  I do know that it was once a beautiful structure.

I wonder about the stories of this old building.  How I would love to hear them now!  And, I don't even know anyone who ever set foot in it.

When I arrived at Immanuel United Church of Christ in Zanesville, I was warmly greeted by those setting up for the banquet.  Then, out of the corner of my eye, I saw displays.  I had to get over to see them!

Just look at these displays!  I had to pour over every one of them, thinking how I could incorporate the same type of feeling in my own home.  I can just imagine a grandchild wondering what kind of songs I sang, what type of dolls I played with, what tools did we work with, what did I read...

Soon, it was time for the banquet.  I sat up front at the speaker's table, which always makes me feel awkward.  I love being with all of the regular folks.  I just don't feel that special.  But, they made sure to put me there.

Tonight was a special night for this chapter, for there were many inductees into the First Families of Muskingum County.  Some had come all the way from Indiana!  (Zanesville is east of Columbus, which is in the center of the state.)  After my talk, I listened to the awards.

I nearly had a lump in my throat and a tear in my eye as two little girls, through the help of their parents and grandparents, were inducted.  They were sisters, ages 11 and 8, and were so excited!  The older one went happily skipping up to receive her certificate!!

Before the awards, I had made a really big deal about those little girls.  Of all of the places they could have been on a Saturday evening, they were at a genealogy banquet listening to me speak about cemetery experiences.  Everyone applauded for them!

But, when it was all over, they both came up to me to talk about genealogy.  I gave them every bit of my attention, even allowing others to wait a little longer before I gave my attention to them.

Now, why do I even bring this up?  Because I am a conference speaker.
Peggy at OGS Conference, 2015

I have spoken at some really big ones.  And, I have spoken to as few as 3-4 people.  And, I love them both.  But, I have a special affection in my heart for the smaller gatherings where hard-working genealogists that may never get any accolades are quietly working their fingers to the bone on cemetery projects, histories, etc.  God bless them in their efforts.

And now, I'm working on next year's schedule for 2016, and even have booked some into 2017!

I love what I do...

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Constant cleaning up

Many years ago, I'm going to say probably about 1994, I attended the BYU Conference on Genealogy and Family History for the very first time.  I loved it!  Little did I realize that I would be one of the speakers many years later.  I have enjoyed speaking there for many years now.

At that time, I didn't use a computer for much of anything.  We had one in the house that my children knew how to use.  But, my thoughts were that it was a glorified typewriter.

One of the keynote speakers that year was Elder Neal A. Maxwell of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in the LDS Church.
Elder Neal A. Maxwell

I have always enjoyed his talks and his writings, and have missed them since his death several  years ago.  At this particularly conference, he asked the question, "How many of you, when people find out you are tracing your family history, want to know how far back you have gone?"

Of course, nearly every hand shot up, with a ripple of laughter through the crowd.

He then gave some very wise counsel.  He said that instead of worrying about how far back we can go, perhaps we should clean up what we already have.

Truer words could not have been spoken.

In the twenty-one years since he issued that challenge, I have concentrated on the correctness of my own genealogy records, beginning with my own self.  I have found the following:
  • Additional marriages
  • Corrected places of births, deaths, and marriages.
  • Corrected dates of the above, including more than just the year.
  • Military records that became so numerous I had to put them into a spreadsheet.  The number of military ancestors is now 186.
  • Stories from extended family members and newspapers.
  • Babies that were unknown to our family.  As of this writing, I have now found 79 babies, the oldest being four years old.
  • Temple work that needed to be completed.
I had more cleaning up to do than I ever thought.  My parents were thorough, but there is more accessibility with today's technology.

Plus, perhaps they are helping me out a bit.

So, I needed to put a bit more effort into what I thought had been a pretty good genealogy.  However, I now realize it was only the beginning.

Thank you, Elder Maxwell!  I'll keep at it.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

RootsTech is coming soon!

RootsTech will be here before you know it!

And trust me, you don't want a reason not to go.

Two years ago, Julie Cahill Tarr hosted a RootsTech giveaway, and it was awarded to ME!  It was my first year to go, and I walked away vowing to be an even better genealogist.

Just drop me a line and let me know why you would like to know, and what you expect to take away from attending such an event.

The winner will be announced on February 1.

Come on!  You know you want it.

OGS - A Treasure Trove Close to Home

I live real close to the headquarters of the Ohio Genealogical Society.  Real close.
Ohio Genealogical Society
Taken Jun 2014

So today, I ventured out to finish up some client work at the library.  The first place I went was into a back room where Al and Julia Hoffman are serving a Family History Mission.  They are scanning all of the obituaries that are in card catalogs.  The first estimation was at 500,000.  But, that estimate was not taking into account that many are on both sides of the index card.

As of today, they have done over 570,000.  There are 51 boxes for the letter "S", and they are on box 48.  When that is complete, they will do some from Crawford County, and Ohio obituaries from Florida.
Al and Julia Hoffman
FamilySearch Missionaries

After finding what I came looking for, I chatted with the staff for awhile.  Then, just before leaving, I noticed some activity going on in one of the conference rooms.  Newspapers were spread out everywhere.

Old, old newspapers.  Just look at some of the things I got to see today!
A great little map showing how our county was formed from so many others.

 A man lost his Pocket Book in 1848.

 Section 16 was set aside for schools in each township.  However no one paid the taxes on this land in 1848, so it was being sold.

 I really liked this one.  It's a land indenture from 1823.  The village of Perrysville is still a village 192 years later.
 At the bottom of the land indenture, it states that Mary and Nancy, wives of the two involved in the transaction, were "examined separately and apart from their said husbands".
A petition for divorce, based on "adultery and more than three years wilful absence".

I love to go to different facilities to do research.  But sometimes, we can find a treasure trove right in our own neck of the woods.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

It's almost here! You could attend RootsTech for free!

Yes, you certainly could!

If you have even once hesitated about attending, think again.  During this next week, let me know what you think you can learn at RootsTech.  Then, you can do any of the following:
1.  Send me an email at:,
2.  Contact me on Facebook:
3.  Get the word to me somehow.

If you have already paid for a three-day registration, directions will be given for reimbursement.

Remember, this is a wonderful opportunity to advance your genealogy research skills.  Go to this link: Why attend RootsTech?

I will announce the winner on February 1.  So, be thinking about what you would like to concentrate on in your learning experience at RootsTech.

And, remember!!!  It's a three-day pass!!