Friday, March 22, 2013

Fearless Females March 21 - A Tender Moment

Lisa Alzo of TheAccidental Genealogist is having the fourth annual "Fearless Females: 31 Blogging Prompts" for the month of March to Celebrate Women's History Month. There is a topic for each day of the month of March to commemorate the "Fearless Females" in our families. The topic for yesterday, March 21, was "Describe a tender moment one of your female ancestors shared with you or another family member." I thought of the letter my maternal grandmother Martha Leona Roberts wrote to my grandfather William (Will) Liming Redles after the birth of their new daughter, my mother. She must have looked lovingly at my mother while she wrote this letter to my grandfather.

Will was an officer in the U.S. Marines. A few months after he and Leona were married on May 8, 1923, in Bryn Athyn, Pennsylvania, they sailed to his new duty station of Port au Prince, Haiti. They were to be there for a year or more. By March 1925, Leona was expecting their first daughter, and in April of that year, she was back in Valdosta, Georgia, with her family waiting to give birth while Will remained in Haiti for a few more months.

On November 18, 1925, their daughter Leona Roberts Redles was born in Little Griffin Hospital in Valdosta. By this time, Will had left Haiti and checked into the sick quarters of the Marine Barracks at Quantico, Virginia. (He had become ill while in Haiti.)

Eight days after giving birth, Leona wrote to Will on November 26, 1925, Thanksgiving Day. Below are some excerpts and a transcription. (He must have supplied her with some of his "official" stationary as she was actually writing from Valdosta, Georgia. Even the envelope to him is written in his handwriting.)

* * *

 * * *

My own Sweetheart,

I just don't know how to tell you how wonderfully sweet and lovely our little daughter is - Will, I think she is beautiful - And I know you will love her too - Today is a real Thanksgiving for me -

She has big blue eyes - your nose and mouth I think (I hope not) - A lovely little round head - just a little dark brown hair - All her features are lovely - And I love her so - I can't realize that she is here and is ours - Everyone says such nice things about her - I want you to see her -

Your sweet letters of love for baby and me make my heart so very happy -
A heartful [sic] of love and lots of kisses from your baby girl who wants her Daddy to come see her -

Will I love you -
Yours always

Leona Roberts Redles age 6 months with her mother Martha Leona (Roberts) Redles 1926
It's surreal reading my grandparents letters. Dozens of them are love letters from Will to Leona--letters she saved. Tucked into all of these letters I found three from her to him that he must have kept (he didn't believe in saving a lot of letters because they created clutter). I'm glad he saved these! What a sweet letter about my mom!


Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Comments: Blogger vs Disqus

I spent quite a bit of time this past Saturday evening trying to figure out why a comment from a cousin who found me via my blog isn't showing up on a blog post. I blog on Blogger, and I use Disqus for commenting. I get email notifications from both Blogger and Disqus when someone leaves a comment. Even though I can reply via the Disqus email notification, I like to go to the blog post to reply.

On Saturday, when my cousin left a comment, I only got an email notification from Blogger. This has happened once before. When it happened the first time, I couldn't figure out what was wrong, so I left a comment to that person that I did see his comment, but for whatever reason, it didn't show up on the blog post. When it happened for the second time this past Saturday, I was determined to figure out what was going on and what I could do to prevent this from happening again. I was sure it was something that I needed to tweak.

Here is a screen shot of my comments counter on Blogger for the post Breaking News! Ruel RulonEscapes from France! where my cousin commented on Saturday (click on the image for a larger view). It says that I have eight comments. (The date is the date the post was published.)

Both the comment and my reply show in my Comments list on Blogger:

But when you go to the blog post itself, Disqus says there are six comments, not eight. The one my cousin left as well as my reply aren't showing at all in the comments at the bottom of the post. 

I didn't want my cousin to think I was ignoring him/her, so I tried using the Blogger email notification to reply. Not sure if my cousin received it, though.

After Googling (always the first thing I do) and looking around on for a solution, I finally found out what the problem was. If you use Blogger and have the Mobile Template activated (which I do), then when someone comments on your blog post using a mobile device, it bypasses Disqus and goes to Blogger. In addition, comments made via mobile devices are only visible on mobile devices, and comments made on computers are only visible on computers. (I don't know if this is a problem on other blogging platforms.)

In the article "Why are comments being posted to Blogger instead of Disqus?" Disqus offers three solutions to this problem. Since I didn't want to disable commenting on mobile devices or disable the Mobile Template, I opted for the third option, to manually enable Disqus in the Blogger Mobile Template. I followed their instructions and went back to look at the post on my Android. My cousin's comment and my reply are nowhere to be seen, yet the other six comments now show on the Mobile Template! 

In that same Disqus article that I linked to above, it says you can import any missing comments from Blogger, so I went through the steps and received this message:

Then I decided to click on "system status." Great. They're having problems importing:

Now what? I'm afraid that I'm going to lose contact with a "newly found" cousin because of this. Maybe he/she received my email reply. I'll just have to wait to see what happens. I like using Disqus for comments, although I've read on the web that some folks hate it and won't leave a comment on blogs that use it. I've also read that if I get rid of Disqus, I'll lose all of my comments. I'll have to research this some more and give it some more thought.

Note: I typed the above this past Monday (3/18/13). I decided this morning to check one more time on the blog post about Ruel Rulon before I published this post to see if the comment my cousin made and my reply showed up. They did! Yay! All comments are on the mobile version, too. Another lesson learned.


Monday, March 11, 2013

Fearless Females March 11 - A Tragic Death

Lisa Alzo of TheAccidental Genealogist is having the fourth annual "Fearless Females: 31 Blogging Prompts" for the month of March to Celebrate Women's History Month. There is a topic for each day of the month of March to commemorate the "Fearless Females" in our families. The topic for March 11 is "Did you have any female ancestors who died young or from tragic or unexpected circumstances? Describe and how did this affect the family." For this topic in March 2012, I wrote about the tragic death of one of my paternal great grandmothers in "Fearless Females: The Tragic Death of Hattie Finney Brown."

In that post, I said that I didn't even know what my great grandmother Hattie looked like. I now have two photos of her courtesy of a cousin who shared these with us Finney/Brown cousins a few months ago. Seeing this photo, I think that my grandmother Helen (Brown) Pendleton and my Aunt Clyde (Thomas) Joyner looked very much like Hattie.

Hattie (Finney) Brown

Hattie (Finney) Brown

I'm extremely happy to finally see her face!


Friday, March 8, 2013

Fearless Females March 8 - Letters from the Foreign Service

Lisa Alzo of TheAccidental Genealogist is having the fourth annual "Fearless Females: 31 Blogging Prompts" for the month of March to Celebrate Women's History Month. There is a topic for each day of the month of March to commemorate the "Fearless Females" in our families. The topic for March 8 is, "Did one of your female ancestors leave a diary, journal, or collection of letters?" 

I was telling my mom about this topic, and she said, "What about all of my sister's letters that your dad saved." I said, "Great suggestion!" My aunt reads my blog, so I decided I would let it be a surprise. (After my aunt read this post, she gave me a few corrections that I've added in bold)

The whole 28 years that my aunt, Catherine Redles, was in the Foreign Service, she wrote to my parents. My dad saved every letter. His plan was to make copies for all five of us children, have them bound, and then give them to us. He never finished this project, so I've added it to my list of things to do.

Catherine Redles

Aunt Catherine joined the foreign service in 1956 after she graduated from the Katharine Gibbs School in New York. She retired in 1984 [she thinks it was 1985] after 28 years of living around the world, working in the American embassies and consolates. My mom and I visited her while she was in Rome, Italy. My brother Andy visited her in Rio de Janeiro, and my sister Helen visited her in Brussels, Belgium, which was Aunt Catherine's last assignment.

While looking in the file that I set up for her letters and papers, I came across a list of her assignments which made me happy--I knew I wouldn't remember every country. Where the heck was Catherine? Well, here's where:

Department of State, Washington, D.C., 1956-1957
American Embassy, Phnom Penh, Cambodia, 1957-1959
Department of State, Washington, D.C., 1960-1961
American Consolate General, Deusseldorf, Germany, 1962-1964
American Embassy, Algiers, Algiers, 1965
American Embassy, Bangui, Central African Republic, 1965-1966
American Embassy, Rome, Italy, 1966-1970
American Consolate General, Jerusalem, 1970-1974
American Consolate General, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 1974-1977
American Embassy, Oslo, Norway, 1978-1981
American Embassy, Brussels, Belgium, 1982-1985

That's a lot of languages to learn. I remember when we visited her in Washington, D.C., in 1966 that she was taking a class to learn Italian. When she was living in Italy, she was complimented by an Italian on how well she spoke the language! I would ask her sometimes on her visits to Valdosta, "Say something in ___" whatever language she could speak.

The heading for the December 3, 1958, Phnom Penh Post newsletter.

 I couldn't find a postmark on this envelope from Jerusalem, but it was mailed sometime between 1970 and 1974. My dad took all of Aunt Catherine's letters out of their envelopes, so the letter is somewhere in the stack.

While digging around in the file, I found a questionnaire that someone (probably my dad) compiled about places Aunt Catherine lived. Here are a few of them. My answers are in parentheses. She'll have to tell me when she's sees this if I'm right:

Where did a military coup overthrow the government while she was attending an embassy function? (Central African Republic) Here's what my aunt says: "A military coup occurred in Algeria soon after I left. Then in Bangui, Central African Republic, the military coup occurred while I was stationed there. We evacuated to the Ambassador's residence."

Where did she find accommodations for 3,000 Americans evacuated from Israel during the war? (Jerusalem) My aunt said, "Soon after my arrival at Rome, the 1966 Israeli war occurred. So that is where the Embassy facilitated 3,000 evacuees from the war zone."

Where did she speed around town with a Christmas tree sticking out of the back seat of her convertible? (Rome) My aunt said, "The Christmas tree was perched in my Fiat 1500 on a drive through Rio de Janeiro, December, summer time." 
Where did she get...pinched while touring with Lonie and little Catherine? (the catacombs under the Vatican, of all places. I was warned about the possibility of getting pinched in Rome.) (I got this one right because I was there.)
Where was she known as Katarina Headless? (Rio de Janeiro.) My aunt explains, "That's the Portuguese pronunciation (Brazil). Phonetically it's Hioo di Janeiroo" [for Rio de Janeiro]

When I knew Aunt Catherine was coming to Valdosta for a visit, I would get so excited! She seemed so exotic to me, living in foreign countries and speaking foreign languages. She gave me a doll dressed in native dress from every county she lived in or visited. I still have most of my dolls, but they're in storage at the moment. I wasn't supposed to play with them, but I did play with some of them. Those are the ones that didn't last.

Aunt Catherine's letters give us a window into what her life was like in all of the countries in which she lived and visited from the late 1950s to the mid 1980s. They also let us take a peek into our own lives back in Valdosta, as she would mention things that my dad (he was the letter writer in my family) told her about us in his letters to her. I'm so glad that my dad thought to save her letters!


Sunday, March 3, 2013

Fearless Females March 3 - Namesake

Lisa Alzo of TheAccidental Genealogist is having the fourth annual "Fearless Females: 31 Blogging Prompts" for the month of March to Celebrate Women's History Month. There is a topic for each day of the month of March to commemorate the "Fearless Females" in our families. The topic for March 3 is, in part, "Do you share the first name with one of your female ancestors? Perhaps you were named for your great-grandmother, or your name follows a particular naming pattern."

I was named after two Fearless Females in my family. I'm named Catherine after my mother's sister Catherine. My middle name is my mother's name Leona.  My first and middle names come from two separate lines on my maternal  side. I thought I'd see how far back I can trace these names.

Pretty Ladies - My mother Leona, my aunt Catherine, and my grandmother Leona. Probably taken in 1945 when my mother graduated from Ward Belmont, a junior college in Nashville, Tennessee.


Aunt Catherine was named for her and my mother's maternal grandmother (my great grandmother) Catherine Margaret Young.  Catherine Young may have been named for her grandmother Catherine Barry MacIntyre. I'm not sure about the spelling. I've seen it spelled Catharine. Or it's possible that she was named for her mother's sister Catherine Caroline Wyche.  Maybe she was named for both. There is a Catherine Lawson who is the great aunt of Catherine MacIntyre and sister of my sixth great grandfather Roger Lawson.  She may be for whom Catherine MacIntyre was named. Here's where the trail ends for me in tracing my first name Catherine.


My mother Leona was named after her mother (my grandmother) Martha Leona Roberts. My grandmother Leona was named for her aunt Martha Leona Roberts, her father John Taylor Robert's sister. The trail ends here.  I don't have enough of these branches filled out on my tree to trace this name any further back.

These names have continued for at least one more generation but in variations of the names. I named my daughter after my great aunt Kathleen Roberts, my grandmother Leona's sister. I was told that Kathleen was a derivative of their mother Catherine Young's name who was called Kate for short. My oldest brother named his daughter a shortened version of our mother's name (Lee) combined with her other grandmother's name.

I had a professor in college who decided he was going to call me Kate. He said "Catherine" was too long. I don't like being called a nickname, but I told him I'd allow it since that's what my great grandmother was called. To this day, he still calls me Kate.