Onward and Upward

When the worst thing that happens on the first day of class is that you, The Teacher, trip over your fancy new high heels and fall flat on the ground, you know it’s been a good day overall. I ended up with a skinned knee and bruised pride.

I teach first-year public speaking at a four-year university. So, I made an object lesson of my spill. Sometimes bad things happen! You keep going, knowing that everyone else can relate to you. I’m sure there was some fear in the students whose inner dialogue I imagine as “OMG, our teacher is a loony-bird.” And they would not be wrong, exactly.

Now, a day later, every part of my aged frame aches, and my right knee is screaming at me. But I’ll keep going. I’ll stand up and I’ll wear my high heels again. I will survive! I think my joke of “short woman syndrome” was lost on them, but I kept smiling. I kept communicating.

Truth? The  Fall was a bit before class started, and there were only two students in the class at the time. So, the three of us had a moment. They were concerned (but I still imagine them wondering what kind of loony-bird they had drawn for a teacher). I stood up easily although, as I said, a tiny bit worse for the wear. I stood TALL.

Because I have an enormous fear of public speaking, yeah, I focus every bit of extroversion I have  and most of my “spoons” of energy on my few hours of classroom instruction time each week. I get good ratings and we have good class sessions for the most part. I have to admit my favorite part of teaching public speaking is the part where the students speak. The obvious reason for this is that this is time that I do not have to speak.

So, I stand in front of students on the first day and I allow myself to be vulnerable about my fear. I don’t sound pathetic because I have focused on keeping it together. When I smile, it’s genuine. I tell them this fear is common to most of us, even true extroverts. I tell them that they might hear my voice shake. I tell them that I fell down in front of people! They look a bit puzzled, but interested. They haven’t given up on me yet. That’s good.

On a deep level, I carry shame about stunts like my sudden unplanned descent. But I know that Shame lies to us. So I put on a good smile, which is my true intention, my true choice, and I tell the truth. I tell them we’ll have setbacks and we’ll find a way to laugh at ourselves and we’ll all learn together. We’ll get up and we’ll go on.

I am happy to be teaching public speaking. I am happy that I don’t have to wear high heels every day, or any day. I am comfortable in front of my students in a university T-shirt and jeans and sneakers.

Over the next few months, I will hear speeches about why marijuana should be made legal and about cosmetics routines (it’s a YouTube thing). I’ll hear speeches about football concussions and video games. And students will sometimes fall on their faces, performance-wise. But I will always help them up. I care about them and I have confidence that I can lead them onward and upward.

“Onward and upward!” has been my byword for several years. I’ll keep it, because that is my true choice.

Everything Is Fine, Indeed

The world is fine and made of good people. I have a nice warm bed, someone to snuggle with, a full pantry,  gas in my car, a vacation from school and work, but school and work to go back to. I have cool electronics, a sweet cat, a funky apartment, fun hobbies. I can cook. I have a new grandboy, enough clothes, songs in my heart. I know I’m a moral person. I know I can improve. My teeth are decent. My eyesight is decent. I have a good education. I have meaningful roots with extended family. My dad is still alive. I have good kids and good siblings. I have ideas of things I want to do or learn and places I want to go, at least in books. Everything is all right.

Names I Love

My favorite names this week come from a family where the children’s first names are Darwin, Galileo, and Waco, all born between 1893 and 1898. I want to know those wacky, learned, non-conformist parents!

What are some surprising names in your family lines?

Bits and pieces

  1. Hurray! My county of research is not a “burned county!” A burned county is one of hundreds (?) across the country where we have lost records over the decades because of various courthouse fires. So, hurray! Gentry County, Missouri, is not a “burned county.” It is, however a “cyclone county.” Cyclone county?  New term. Yes, we lost records because of a windstorm in 1883.  (https://www.familysearch.org/wiki/en/Gentry_County,_Missouri_Genealogy)


2. To clear up any confusion, Kansas, Oklahoma, is in Delaware County.


Mover? Or Sticker?

Looking at my ancestors I see two groups: the movers and the stickers. The movers are the ones who pull up stakes. They are either pioneers, moving to newly opened lands, or they move to communities already established. They nearly always move for economic reasons—better land, better jobs. Sometimes their moves were tied to military involvement. Sometimes they move because other family has moved to the new location first. The stickers are the ones who stay and become established. They have families and businesses and may become political leaders in an area. They live lives that are entwined with institutions for decades.

Sometimes the movers can become stickers. And vice versa.

Elijah Webb Fuller was a mover in early life. He was born in Virginia, migrated west (and North) to Illinois, and then to northwest Missouri. His life covered half a continent. He started his family with Almariah Chowning in Illinois with the birth of Minerva Jane Fuller. But the rest of their eleven children were born in Gentry County, Missouri, where all grew to adulthood. When Elijah and Allie settled in Gentry County, they settled. Some of the children turned out to be movers and some turned out to be stickers.

I don’t know—yet—why this Fuller family moved to Gentry County, Mo., from Coles County, Illinois. I do know that there were other Fuller families who also migrated. As yet, I do not know the exact connection. Talitha Cumi Fuller, who married John Keller, also made the same move, but she and Elijah do not appear to be siblings. Her father, Henry Fuller, also came from Russell County, Virginia. The connections remain murky at this time, generally for my own lack of investigation, though other researchers may know the ins and outs of these Fullers.

Elijah’s daughter Sarah Mariah Fuller (middle-named after her mother) married William Stam, whose family had also migrated southward but from Wisconsin. This Stam family and several others moved to the new Oklahoma Territory when it was opened, although they were not part of the original “Sooners.” My grandmother, their daughter Clara Ann Stam, was born in 1905. She always said she was “older than Oklahoma,” which attained statehood in 1907. She and her husband migrated along with oil-field jobs in the 1930s, but when my father grew to school age, they became stickers. She lived in their house in Haskell County, Kansas, for more than fifty years.

My father’s paternal grandfather was a mover most of his life. Born in Ohio, raised a family in Iowa, reportedly died but really married a young girl in another part of the state and started a new family, divorced in South Dakota, sold tamales on the streets of St. Joseph, Missouri, moved to Tulsa, Oklahoma, where he branched into the popcorn wagon business, selling popcorn, gum, and peanuts on Main Street until the day he died.

What are you? A mover? Or a sticker? Or a combination?

A Suitcase Full of Pictures

I found a suitcase full of pictures at a consignment store.

“What is inside,” was my first question. It soon became “Who is inside?”

Images: Lost and Found  (Click to watch video.)

I couldn’t wait to meet them.  I couldn’t wait to figure them out and to find out why they were lost.

Four sisters.  Or four cousins?


There was so much. They reminded me of my own family. I had to find out. It was like a big-city high-rise with millions of stories, and I had this suitcase with three generations of stories.

Oh, little child!  Who were you, and who did you grow up to be?

To figure out family groups, I sorted the pictures, which put them in chronological order. Black and whites. Color. Polaroids. Double-prints. And so many more.

People with Names

A breakthrough! The oldest picture I found had names.  Who was Great-grandmother Woods? Was Bryan Woods the baby of the family? Did the suitcase belong to Susie?


So many babies … over so many decades. They go to school. They learn to drive. They honor their elders, and they love their families.

Four cousins. Or were they sisters?

It soon became apparent that the genealogical detective work would be easy but time-consuming. Nevertheless, I started looking at names on the backs of photos. LaVirga Shipman Woods’ name came up over and over again.

Everyone Loves Pictures

Everyone loves old family pictures. Everyone wants to be in “Grandma’s Brag Book.”


But there are so many more places to find our families:

  • Letters
  • Diaries
  • Bibles
  • Military papers
  • Greeting cards

We love … and yet we let go ..

Someone has said goodbye to this family before.

“It’s been so nice knowing you. I hate to see you go. But as you must, my best wishes for your happiness in your new home go with you.”

Where is your family history?

Is your family history in your home or in a suitcase in a consignment store?

Diaries from the 1880s, bought on eBay. Letters, photos, family narratives–someone abandoned them.  Old Bibles, vintage pictures, old manuscripts. The notebook was bought for a dollar.

I had to wonder about my family, and I’ll bet you wonder about yours.

Where are my pictures?

Where is my family history?  Will it be preserved?

I found a family in a suitcase at a store.


Video produced by Lisa Reed, under the academic direction of Shannon Carter, Ph.D.

(c) 2016, Lisa Reed




Vintage Post … from 2 Nov. 2012

Such fun I’m having with my new book of World War I-era real estate listings for North Texas (and other places!). Thursday, I took a long-ish lunch break from the Texas State Genealogical Society conference and drove to the address in one of the 1915 Fort Worth listings. The house is still there! After navigating some road construction and trying to locate house numbers, I found the house.


Here’s the original listing as it appeared in business records of a real estate agency in 1915. The words were written in a thick pencil.


“W.M. Graham, R-4849. Two-story, 9-room brick house. 5 up and sleep porch. 4 down. Modern in every respect. Bath upstairs with toilet. Toilet downstairs. Basement with hot furnace. Gas in all rooms. Hot water up and down stairs. Closet in every room. Two-story brick garage for three autos. Barn for two horses. Lot 80×150 feet. Fronts north and east. Price $20,000. No incumbrance. Will consider good farm close to Fort Worth at around $15,000 or good place not too far from Fort Worth. Will give plenty time on balance.”

While I was snapping photos, the current owner walked up. That’s always an anxiety-producing situation, but he was very nice and interested in the book and the information about the house and the historic neighborhood. He does not live there but offices there now, and is not related to the original owners.

He told me the house was built about 1907. The two-story brick garage is still there but shows evidence (to me, at least) of room for only two autos—arched openings that have since been bricked over. The barn is no longer there. He said some of the rooms had been combined over the years and that the structure was once a boarding house. An iron fence encompasses the property now.

In my mind it is still a beautiful turn-of-the-century neighborhood, even though some nearby houses have been razed, some are overgrown, and some have been turned into apartments. Across the street is a lovely bed and breakfast. This frame building of the same era boasts a cupola and wraparound porch.

After working with the records for so long, transcribing page after page of real estate listings in order to produce the book, it was a delight to see Old Fort Worth come alive to me at the first address I looked for!

The book is Fort Worth Real Estate: Ben F. Allen & Sons Business Records, City Property, 1914-1916, Vol. I, and is available from me by mail at Lisa McKinney, P.O. Box 997, Edgewood, TX 75117, for $30 + $2.48 sales tax if shipped to a Texas address, plus $8 for shipping.