Monday, May 19, 2008

The Blue Van

When I was about nine years old my parents bought a van. It was one of those popular things that was the ultimate family vehicle, blue, with tinted windows. It was more than adequate to hold our luggage, us, plus a table for food and games. What more would we need?

The first trip we took was a long one. Those were the days when gas was cheap. Mom says they thought it was expensive, but in comparison with today's prices, it was cheap. The trip started at North Platte, Nebraska and was planned through Wyoming, Montana, northern Idaho and into Washington. From there, we drove the van across the border into Canada and on to a boat that took us to Victoria Island. Those were the days that you didn't need a passport to get into Canada. Security was pretty loose in those days.

After our jaunt in Canada, we drove to Oregon to visit relatives and then into Nevada. This meant we were heading toward home. Mom's eyes would light up at the prospect of driving through Utah. She calculated the miles and told Dad that it appeared we would HAVE to stay overnight in Salt Lake City.

When we began this trip, Dad proclaimed, "This is a family vacation." That actually meant no dead relatives welcome. Even with the capacity of the van, Mom left the genealogy behind. That's something she never did again when we traveled.

Sure enough we crossed the Bonneville Salt Flats and ended up in Salt Lake City, just in time to secure a motel as close as we could to Temple Square. Mom was to have the next day at the Family History Library. What Dad did not realize was that she had been calculating this all along, so had written notes from memory, families she wanted to check, locations of research and her list went on and on. Those dead relatives were lurking in the van on paper!

Checking into the motel, we unloaded the van and parked right outside the door of the room. About an hour later we went outside and discovered that somebody had stolen the cover off the spare tire on the rear of the van. That was Dad's favorite thing about the van. Had we not come to Salt Lake City in the quest of dead relatives, it would have never been stolen.

Mom had her day in the library and Dad had his day of entertaining us. He grumbled all the way home about the spare tire cover, but it was replaced once we returned home. From that day forward Mom knew that she must take genealogy to-do lists regardless of how much room we had when traveling. Within a year or so Dad announced he never did like that van because he had problems parking it and backing it up. Those were things Mom could easily do. Only took out the side of the garage once, but not with the Van. I think they sold it because of gas prices...they always tend to go up, you know!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

A Message from Patrick

My nine year old daughter, Tyrah, is enthralled with anything Irish. We have no idea how this happened, but she was excited when her genealogist grandmother told her that she was Irish. Anything green brings a respinse of "Irish" from her. The other day my Mom mailed this letter to her. I think this is a great way to get young people interested in their family history. Genealogy Grandmothers can do something similar and spark that interest.

April 24th in the year of our Lord 2008

Good day wee one named Tyrah,

This is your great, great, great, great grandfather, Patrick Cosgrove decidin' to write you a letter, I am. I hear in a round about way from yer granny Ruby that you are interested in the Irish. As luck would have ye are Irish me lass.

You see, I was born on June 18th in the year of our Lord 1821 in Galway, Ireland. That's along the sea, just as beautiful as can be. But, I was not destined to remain out my life there. When I was a young man in me 20's there came a famine big as could be all over Ireland. Such ye never seen and I'd hope to never see again in me life time.

We Irish, me folks and all, raised potatoes as tenant farmers. Things were goin' along good until in September of the ear of our Lord 1845 when the potato plants just' up and turned black. The leaves curled up and rotted. There came some winds from England that carried that fungus all over the place and the blight did spread. Oh that blight just went all over and we all began to suffer from it. People were hungry and potatoes were our only crops to provide us a livin'.

The only thing we could do was go where we could live and work. Hearing about that great country known as America, I decided to leave me folks and cross the ocean. Oh it was a long trip over those stormy seas. The boat tossed that turned, but I knew there was no other way for me to survive.

Once I got her to America I went to the state called Illinois. I found work and a wife named Maria Regan, Irish lass she was, in Putnam County. In 1852 we were married and Maria and I farmed, had children and went to the Catholic Church here. Never once, mind you, did we forget our homeland of Ireland. I could all me life see those green fields, before the blight and famine, the sea crashing against the rocks in Galway.

Maria and I had eleven children. One of our lasses we named Theresa Mary. She was born in 1867 after the great Civil War here on this soil. Theresa became yer great, great, great grandmother, lass. She married a German lad named Henry Kunkel who lived here in Putnam County.

Yer granny Ruby is so proud of you lass. Maria and I hope you'll always be proud of yer Irish blood flowin' through yer veins. You' make a might fine lass to dance the Irish jig in Galway, with those lovely locks of hir flowing. Before Maria and I died we had hoped to return to see Ireland again, but we never did. It would have been a fine day indeed had we seen our folk and friends.

Love and luck indeed to ye lass,

Patrick Cosgrove