Wise County Genealogical Society, Decatur, TX


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TXSGS 2019 Family History Conference

Texas State Genealogical Society October 11-13, for Blazing Family Trails, our 2019 Family History Conference at the Omni Houston Hotel Westside.


What Else the CCC Built: A New Deal Education Program
The Civilian Conservation Corps is well-known for reforestation and building parks and bridges. Less known is that the CCC was involved in building up its Corps members through a formal educational program and informal literacy aids, such as camp newspapers. Learn about the history and records of your CCC teacher.
Track: Records, Resources, Repositories
Level: All levels

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Federation of Genealogical Societies, Washington, DC.


“What Else the CCC Built”

The Civilian Conservation Corps is well-known for reforestation and building parks and bridges. Less known is that the CCC was involved in building up its Corps member through a formal education program. Fancher Younger, teacher of “CCC boys,” offers a good case to learn how to research this area.  


“Boldly She Stepped Out”

Whether you were a female servant or a privileged pastor’s daughter, the mid-1800s offered women a unique enticement to come to America. An early form of “target marketing” promised jobs and land to men, obviously, but also specifically to women. And the women boldly came.
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Independence Day

Visiting Fayetteville, Arkansas.

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All-Purpose Festive Roast Turkey, Dressing, and Giblet Gravy

Start three days ago. Unfreeze the damn bird. I have it on the authority of the federal government of the United States of America that it takes one day per five pounds to thaw out a turkey.

If that boggles the mind as well as the laws of time, go to the store again and buy a fresh bird, like I did. You have 12 minutes. They close at noon.

Everything up to Putting the Bird in the Oven

Take the plastic wrapper off gingerly. Don’t shred the bird’s skin, unless you want your dish to look like roadkill, in which case you could have saved yourself two trips to the grocery store, already.

This wrapper has valuable cooking instructions to which you will probably need to refer for factual information, poultry poisoning safety tips, and the 800 number of the federal government home economist lady.

Reach down the bird’s throat and take out any little structural parts you find. They will probably not be roaming free but will be in an envelope like the Best Director Oscar winner. Reach up the bird’s … well, between its legs. You know, the other end. See if there are any organs there, and take them out too. Go ahead. This is not a trick.

Giblets look like the illustrations in your seventh-grade science book: Heart. Liver. Gizzard. Neck (not technically an organ). The turkey does not need these anymore, but they will really liven up your gravy and dressing.

Put the liver, the whole liver, and nothing but the liver in the fridge.

Put either one of the turkey’s open ends – cook’s choice – up near your kitchen faucet. Turn on the water full blast and give it a rinse. Rinse the outside, too – couldn’t hurt – and pull out any feathers that may have slipped past the fine turkey pluckers. Dry inside and out with paper towels.

My cookbook says, “If desired, rub salt inside the body cavity.” I will not say that I have ever had that desire, but it is probably a good idea, a good “cook-y” thing to do and will make you feel like you are doing something while you are collecting your thoughts, looking at your naked bird.

Yes, in four hours or so, you’ll be eating your little science experiment.

Most of this recipe is magic, with the reasons for many arcane procedures shrouded in our reaction to our mysterious Puritan past, like this next part: You’re going to place some quartered onions and celery inside the bird, through one of its … openings. When the cooking is done, you will throw them away. The Lord given and the Lord taketh away.

Now it is time for turkey yoga. Twist the bird’s wings around behind where its neck would be if the turkey butcher had not already taken its neck off and stuffed it up its “cavity.” The turkey will look like it is sunbathing, not a care in the world. Now tie its legs behind its tail. (This sounds cruel, but it’s not, because this turkey has already been dead for weeks.)

Put the turkey in a shallow roasting pan and roast uncovered at 325 for four hours for a 12-pound bird.

What to Do when your Bird Is Cooking (and It’s Not Relax)

Put the giblets (except the liver, which is still banished to solitary confinement in the refrigerator) into a saucepan. Add a stalk or two of sliced celery and a small onion, chopped. Salt lightly. Cover with water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for an hour.

Hard-boil three eggs in their own totally unrelated and separate but equal saucepan.

Add the liver to the giblet saucepan and simmer for another 20 to 30 minutes.

Remove and chop giblets. Throw away neck bones and vegetables (again with the wastefulness! Go figure.) Strain broth. Chop the hard-boiled eggs. Refrigerate broth and chopped giblets and eggs until needed for gravy and dressing.

Dressing for Success

Finely chop half an onion and a stalk of celery. Sauté them in a half cup butter in a big saucepan. Yes, use real butter instead of margarine once a year, for heaven’s sake. Why? Because butter tastes better.

Stir in one teaspoon of Poultry Seasoning – that’s an actual “spice” you can buy in a jar at the dollar store. Or, use sage. Salt and pepper to taste.

Stir in one small bag of cornbread stuffing mix and one small bag of herb stuffing mix, the good brand.

With a large measuring cup, bail some of the cooking liquid out of the shallow roasting pan.

Skim some of the fat off the top.

Are you with me? OK, pour about ¼ cup of the fat into another saucepan and throw away the rest of the fat. No, NOT the liquid broth under the fat! Just the amount above and beyond ¼ cup of fat. (By the way, the fat and the broth will be distinguishable on sight. Mine is.)

Put about a cup of the broth into the dressing.

Take the giblets and egg out of the refrigerator; divvy them up however you care to, and stir some in the dressing and save the rest for the gravy.

Smoosh the dressing into a 9×12 baking pan, and bake at about 375 for about 15 minutes.

Gravy 101

Do not wait until the dressing timer “Dings” to start your gravy. Jump right in.

Stir in ¼ cup of flour into the saucepan with the afore-separated ¼ cup fat. Salt and pepper to taste, which means “put some salt and pepper in, taste it, and if you think it needs some more salt and, or, pepper, proceed as you see fit. You’re a grown-up, aren’t you?”

Add in a little more than a cup of the liquid turkey broth. No, NOT the fat, which should be dispensed with already, but the liquid. The whole thing in the saucepan should be about a cup and a half, now. Cook and stir until bubbly. The gravy, not you! Cook and stir one minute more.

Dump in the giblets. Stir a little more until it is all heated through.

You, My Dear, Are Done

De-tent the turkey. Plug in the carving spouse’s carving knife. Swish the dressing out of the oven. Pour the gravy in the gravy boat.

God bless us, every one!


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When the Peace Was Signed, A Letter Home

Trimbs, Germany

June 28, 1919

Dear Folks,

Well we only stayed one week in Andernach but it was a nice week lots to go to and that helps. The real dull part of the day is after supper which is five o’clock and it gets dark about 9:30. If you don’t have someplace to go it seems pretty long.

Just a few minutes ago a car came in from Hdqts. Saying Peace had been signed. Every body should be overjoyed but they don’t make any demonstration. In the first place, peace has almost been signed so many times that they can’t hardly believe it. Of course we all want to believe it.

Any way, we are going to have a big banquett tonight. I mean the Bolshevicks going to have some eats. (over)

[2nd page]
Baked ham, gravy, Potatoes fried with cheese, radishes lettuce. Peas with cream. Cakes. Pies. Ice cream & champagne. A few other things I can’t remember. We are going to have some time.

Sent over after some Germans to play for us in case they don’t get here we have a Victrola so you C we are stepping out. I forgot that we are going to have Egg omlettes. We poured the wine in a big bowl, put enough sugar in it then dump strawberries in and mash ‘em up and let it set a while and it makes a drink that Old King Solomon in all his Glory never had any better.

Well if it is true that Peace has been signed we will be home in two months any way if not sooner. Any way things will liven up now and that’s what I want action.

Well I must close I am full now had lemonade ice cream for supper and I just had to eat it.

With love your Son & Bro. Roy.

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To Geo. M. Parker, Woods Bluff, Ala., Feby. 19, 1871

Geo. M. Parker, Woods Bluff, Ala.

Coffeeville  Feby 19th 1871

G M Parker

My Dear Son

Feeling a very deep interest in your present and future well being I am induced to write you a letter this beautiful Sabbath morning.

You are now entering upon your first experiment in business, and your failure or success will have an evil or a good bearing upon your whole after life & you can not now appreciate the deep anxiety I feel for you and I shall pray God to keep you from temptation and I would recommend you to read the 25th Psalm every night until you commit it to memory—and especially the sentence, “Let integrity and uprightness preserve me.” I suggest the following rules for your guidance in business.

1st Abstain entirely from the use of ardent spirits.

2nd Be punctual doing everything at the proper time never putting off until the future, what should be done in the present time.

3rd Be exact to a cent in accounting for all the cash passing through your hands.

4th Never take any amount of money from the drawer great or small, for your own use but always call on Mr. Henson when you need money.

5th Keep a correct statement of money received for your private use & the manner of spending it so that your private cash account will exhibit your receipts and expenditures.

6th Never spend money to gratify a mere fancy, but be governed at all times (in your expenditures) by your necessities.

7th Lay by something every week if but 10 cents for the cause of benevolence and religion.

8th Habitually & daily look to God in prayer to aid you in carrying out the foregoing rules and attribute your success to him.

And in conclusion, I will promise to write my prayers with you daily that you may succeed in your present attempt at business. So as to gradually build up a reputation for capability and integrity as a business man, which can not be hastily attained but only by patience & perseverance.

And if you will observe the foregoing instructions which have been penned under the promptings of an affectionate father’s love, you will never have to look for business, but it will always seek you and your wages will always be equal to your services.

And may God preserve you and keep you from temptation & guide you by his Holy Spirit into Life eternal is my prayer.

Write to your Mother & Sisters often as they will greatly desire to hear from you.

Your father affectionately,

Jacob Parker

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The Last Visit


Please watch my daughter’s video about visiting my dad and mom’s house for the last time and all the memories.

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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.

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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.

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