Category Archives: Charboneau

Fifth Blogiversary: Five benefits of genealogy and family history blogging

Sepia Saturday 467: Today is the Fifth Blogiversary of Molly’s Canopy! Many thanks to my family, readers and fellow bloggers for your support and valuable feedback along the way! Help me celebrate – please leave a comment.

Number 5. Today I am proud and happy that Molly’s Canopy is celebrating its Fifth Blogiversary. Many thanks to my family, readers and fellow bloggers for your support and valuable feedback along the way. Image: Pixabay

Today is the Fifth Blogiversary of Molly’s Canopy — a landmark event I did not envision when I began blogging in 2014 during the Sesquicentennial of the U.S. Civil War.

Five years ago I was writing weekly about my great-great grandfather Arthur T. Bull’s experiences as a Union Army soldier — but I hadn’t considered what I would blog about after that first year ended.

Yet that’s when regular blogging began to yield many valuable genealogy and family history benefits. So today — to celebrate the Fifth Blogiversary of Molly’s Canopy — I thought I’d share five benefits of blogging that I’ve discovered along the way.

FIVE BENEFITS OF BLOGGING

1. Blogging gets the writing done. As I researched my ancestors over a couple of decades, I amassed documents and photographs, kept notes, logged dPixabay - Creative Commons - no attribution requiredetails into my genealogy software — and even used this material to write draft narratives about some of them. But I did this in fits and starts as time permitted and not in a regular, disciplined way. That changed after Molly’s Canopy was launched. There’s nothing like having a regular/weekly deadline — even a self-imposed one — to get the writing done. And post-by-post, the writing transforms from an ancestral character sketch to a more detailed life story — and could evolve into the draft of a book-length manuscript. All by writing a few hundred words on a regular/weekly basis.

2. Blogging focuses broader historical research. Genealogists rely on careful documentation — from vital and church records, census reports, land and probate documents and more — to verify the life details of individuals and establish family relationships. But to tell a compelling family narrative requires additional historical research to put ancestors’ lives in context. Regular blogging helps focus this research. Where did ancestors live during the census? What was going on in their town, in the country, in the world? Why did they move there? When and why did they leave? Did they appear in the newspaper? These and other questions cropped up as I was writing blog posts — and a deep dive into history yielded valuable background details that illuminated my ancestors’ lives.

3. Blogging helps get those photos scanned. Like me, most family history researchers have a stash of ancestral photos that need to be digitized. But when to do this? It’s easy to put off the task to “someday” —  that vague deadline way off in the future that somehow never arrives! This is especially true if a family photo collection is large. But blogging can break photo scanning into regular, manageable chunks. The Internet is visual — and blog posts benefit from at least one good photo. A post can also consist of several photos and extended captions. Scanning a few photos for each blog post helps move the digitization forward.

4. Blogging creates social connections. As part of the social media universe, blogs help connect their writers with a wider world of readers — and the valuable feedback they provide. Genealogy research and family history writing are solitary tasks — and it’s easy to feel isolated when you’re working alone. But blogging puts some of that information out in public — where readers, other bloggers and relatives can follow along and leave comments. This is a great way to reach younger, Internet-savvy family members. One more bonus: newfound cousins may get in touch to share their research, photos and ancestral stories — and you can even meet up with them at reunions!

5. Blogging preserves your research for the future. Family trees are invaluable as research tools that organize relationships and documentation in one place. A blog can illuminate that research — allowing a family history writer to breathe life into the documents’ revelations and place ancestors in their historical context. Years of family history blogging will amass a body of interpretive, narrative work as a legacy for future generations — whether the blog is preserved online, turned over to a repository that accepts digital donations, or the posts are printed into a book. And this legacy can be created in a totally manageable way — one blog post at a time.

So on this Fifth Blogiversary I’m glad I launched Molly’s Canopy when I did — and I am grateful to experience these valuable benefits of blogging and more with each new post.

Up next: Annual Spring Break for Molly’s Canopy. May is always a busy month, so I am taking a much-needed blogging break to refresh and recharge. Please stop back when regular blogging resumes in June — and in the meantime, visit my fellow Sepia Saturday bloggers here.

© 2019 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

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My mother and Miss George

Sepia Saturday 449: Eighth in a series about my fourth grade teacher Miss Helen George — one of those friends, acquaintances and neighbors (FANs) who can make such a difference in a person’s life.

Although I long considered my fourth grade year an individual experience, my education was actually a group effort — with my teacher Miss Helen George working in tandem with my mother to move my learning process forward.

The best evidence of this is the teacher-parent comment section of my fourth grade report card.

My fourth grade report card’s teacher-parent comment page (1959-60). I get a kick out of these little notes every time I read them. They reveal Miss George and my mom as a mutual admiration society — one teacher corresponding with another, collaborating and taking pride in a child’s progress.Scan by Molly Charboneau

A mutual admiration society

In the little spaces provided, Miss George outlined my progress in the beautiful flowing cursive she strived to teach us in class — her signature underlined with a flourish.

In reply, my mom Peg (Laurence) Charboneau — herself an elementary music teacher — thanked Miss George and acknowledged her contribution in glowing terms.

I get a kick out of these little notes every time I read them. They reveal Miss George and my mom as a mutual admiration society — one teacher corresponding with another, collaborating and taking pride in a child’s progress.

My deportment problem

My first quarter of fourth grade went pretty well, judging by the report card notes:

“Molly is doing a fine job in fourth grade and I hope that she continues to do as well.” ~~Helen George

“We are pleased with Molly’s report and feel she has shown improvement this year. We appreciate your fine work with her.” Margaret L. Charboneau

The second quarter was another story. I started the year with only a “satisfactory” (as opposed to “excellent”) in deportment. And apparently my rambunctiousness went downhill as the year went on.

My childhood home in Endwell, N.Y., circa 1957. My bedroom is up top with the open window. Prompted by my fourth grade teacher Miss George, my parents stressed neat homework and good deportment. Luckily, I cleaned up my act and was promoted to fifth grade in June 1960. Photo by Norman J. Charboneau

So did my neatness — a point pride to my meticulous teacher. So Miss George sounded the alarm, and my mom stepped up to help.

“Again Molly has done an excellent job! If she always does as well I’m sure she will know a happy, successful future. (–I do wish she would try to make her papers a little neater.)” ~~Helen George

“We will encourage Molly to continue the good work. Also we will stress the neatness and deportment department.” Margaret L. Charboneau

I clean up my act

My parents’ intervention apparently did the trick. I actually got an “excellent” in deportment in the third quarter — and Miss George reported that my papers were neater, too. In appreciation, Mom returned a message of high praise to Miss George.

“Papers neat — excellent work — so there can be nothing but praise for Molly this period.” Helen George

“An excellent teacher can bring out the best in a youngster. Thank you.” Margaret L. Charboneau

Headed for fifth grade

I was back to “satisfactory” in deportment in the fourth quarter — but fortunately didn’t behave badly enough to hinder my educational progress. On June 24, 1960, Miss George proudly promoted me to the fifth grade.

“Molly has had a fine year in fourth grade and I hope that she will continue to do as well in fifth grade.” ~~Helen George

There are no closing comments from Mom. But when I asked her about Miss George decades later, she smiled affectionately at the memory.

“She was just great,” Mom said. “The classical type of person you think of when you hear the word teacher.”

Please stop back as this series continues. Meanwhile, please visit the blogs of this week’s other Sepia Saturday participants here

© 2018 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

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Miss George saves a cemetery

Sepia Saturday 448: Seventh in a series about my fourth grade teacher Miss Helen George — one of those friends, acquaintances and neighbors (FANs) who can make such a difference in a person’s life.

In addition to her career in education, my fourth grade teacher Miss Helen George was active in civic projects in the Endwell, N.Y., community where she taught.

So in 1960, the same year she directed me and my classmates in her play about Endwell’s early settlers, Miss George was also hard at work on a committee to restore the Hooper-Patterson Cemetery where they were buried.

Hooper-Patterson Cemetery as viewed from River Road in Endwell, Broome County, N.Y. (2018) Rather than a scary place, this cemetery became a fascinating destination for me and my fourth grade classmates. We would ride there on our bicycles to read the tombstone inscriptions and keep tabs on the restoration project our teacher Miss George was involved in. Photo: Molly Charboneau

My fascination with cemeteries — which I share with many genealogists and family historians — took root during my year in Miss George’s class, where she held forth on the disgrace of a historic cemetery overgrown with weeds and neglected by the town.

A fascinating cemetery

Miss George gave us regular updates on the cemetery restoration efforts — and we wanted to see them for ourselves. Thus the small Hooper-Patterson Cemetery — rather than seeming a scary place haunted by ghosts — became a historically interesting destination that my classmates and I often rode to on our bicycles.

We also wanted to know more about the characters we portrayed in Miss George’s play — and as we read the tombstones we were surprised to discover many graves of children, some of whom had died when they were younger than us. An unforgettably sobering experience for a fourth grader!

Grave makers in Hooper-Patterson Cemetery (2018). Miss George was involved in early restoration of this historic Endwell, N.Y., cemetery, which is now on the National Register of Historic Places. These efforts are continued today by volunteer restorationists. Photo: Molly Charboneau

A few years back, I contacted the Broome County Historical Society to see if they might have copies of Miss George’s plays. They did not — but instead they sent a copy of a small brochure titled “Endwell’s Early Days: A Profile,” which Miss George wrote in 1960.

When the brochure arrived I suddenly remembered having seen it as a child — with its careful sketch of the Hooper-Patterson Cemetery and tombstones, along with transcripts of each stone and a narrative history in the voice of settler Amos Patterson. Rereading it was like being in Miss George’s class all over again! (Click here to see the brochure.)

A collective restoration campaign

Probably because she loomed large in my fourth-grade life, I always thought Miss George was the catalyst of the cemetery restoration.

http://nyshistoricnewspapers.org/lccn/sn90066578/1960-05-25/ed-1/seq-5.pdf
Endicott Daily Bulletin article (May 25, 1960). “The restoration committee with assistance by Miss Helen George, a Hooper School teacher, is compiling a brochure which will include the location of each tombstone, and the inscription and history,” the Bulletin reported. Source/full page: nyshistoricnewspapers.org

But according a May 25, 1960, article in Endicott Daily Bulletin, the Endwell Rotary Club (which my dad belonged to) and the Garden Club of Endwell were key players on the restoration committee.

“The project has included the replacing of tombstones, restoration of the cemetery fence, grading, and seeding of the lawn,” the article said. “The Garden Club expects to do some planting.”

The  project was not without its challenges. According to the article, “Inclement weather has hindered the project schedule. The committee last Saturday found two sections of the cemetery fence in the Susquehanna River.” Nevertheless, the restoration moved ahead — as did publication of Miss George’s brochure.

“The restoration committee with assistance by Miss Helen George, a Hooper School teacher, is compiling a brochure which will include the location of each tombstone, and the inscription and history,” the Bulletin reported.

Restoration efforts continue

I pay a nostalgic visit the Hooper-Patterson Cemetery whenever I am in Endwell, usually for my high school reunion — and this year was no exception.

The cemetery overlooking the Susquehanna River still looks good — grass mowed and damaged tombstones propped up. No signs of the weedy neglect Miss George was so worked up about in 1960.

While researching this blog post, I made the happy discovery that the cemetery has inspired a new generation of volunteer restorationists to take up the task of keeping the grounds and stones in shape — after one of them happened upon the graveyard during a walk on River Road.

They’re raising funds, resetting pavers, clearing brush, trimming trees and doing what they can to keep the cemetery looking good — just like Miss George and her committee did when she was around. I’m sure she would be pleased.

Please stop back as this series continues. Meanwhile, please visit the blogs of this week’s other Sepia Saturday participants here. 

© 2018 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

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