"I should not talk so much about myself if there were any body else whom I knew as well."
-Henry David Thoreau

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Birdsong

It's slightly easy to become obsessed with the ancestry thing, especially when you're finding cool stuff.  I have so many hints popping up that it will take hundreds of hours to even look at them all.  The cool thing is that the more hints you look at, confirm, and weed out... the more hints that pop up.  Here's what I've discovered since yesterday.
1. It's much easier to find information on people who had money and property.
2. Surprisingly enough, I have at least one line of ancestors that had enough money and influence to be in the history books.  The Birdsong branch of the family (my Grandma McCarty's mother's maiden name was Birdsong) has been fairly easy to trace so far.  I don't know why, but I had in my head that Birdsong was Native American.  I was WAY off.  When I got all the way back to the 1600 & 1700's I discovered John Birdsong (and his son John Birdsong II and his son John Birdsong III) that were majors and captains in the American Revolution, are in the history books as opposing England & fighting for the American Revolution, were members of the House of Commons, helped establish government in South Carolina, had lots of kids & property and... slaves.  Y'all, I discovered wills that specified which children should receive which slaves upon their father's death.  What in the actual hell?  (excuse my language here, but we are talking about records that put a monetary value on another human being and who they- and their offspring- shall legally belong to.  cursing seems appropriate.)  I learned the same things about American history in school as the rest of you and I know that slavery was real.  intellectually I understand that.  I just found some sort of strange comfort in thinking that my ancestors were too poor (and maybe even moral) to actually own other human beings.  I was wrong, at least about this branch.  What a kick in the gut... and I'm just a middle class white girl in 2017. 
So John Birdsong was my 8th great grandfather (which I feel pretty confident about given all the census records, property records, wills, etc. that list dates, relatives, locations, etc.), but after that I'm not 100% certain.  One record says Heinrich Vogelsang Birdsong was his father and that he was born in Germany.  Wait, what?  That makes total sense.  Vogel means bird in German.  Duh.  They moved here from Germany and "Americanized" their last name.  My Ancestry subscription doesn't cover foreign records, so I'm not able to look further and verify that Heinrich was in fact the father of the John Birdsong that I'm related to (but my hunch is that there are records to discover).  I may upgrade to access that information in the future, but for now I have plenty of other things to discover.
I have wondered how that line of the family went from a plantation with hundreds of acres of tobacco crops, cash, livestock, slaves, heirs, and political influence and wound up at my Great Grandma Belzoni Birdsong Stanfield- the wife of what most in my family assumes to be a moonshiner in the hills of Oklahoma (and later suddenly moved to Oregon).  I can't say for sure (though maybe there is more to discover regarding this), but I have found that many years after the Revolution there was a legal petition by the widow of John Birdsong for compensation for revolutionary services that states (with witnesses) that she had nothing left, no means of supporting herself, and required the compensation that he never received as a Revolutionary soldier in order to survive.  After that there are more and more relatives that show up in census records moving west to Tennessee and Arkansas.  So interesting.
All of that information was really unexpected, so I found myself caught up in the legalities of who these people where.  Even so, I can't help but take a step back and look at them (especially the women) through a more personal lens.  Y'all, they were getting married at 13, 14, 15 years old and having babies for the next 30 years.  It wasn't uncommon to see a child that was born and died in the same year.  Or a child with a birth date, but who is not listed again in any records.  Or a confirmed death of a child at 5 or 10 years old.  I find that sometimes I just click away and gather information as quickly as I can, other times I stop and let it soak in.  These women were my people and if the only way I can ever really know them is to stop and acknowledge the names of their children, well, then that's what I'm going to do.

Let's finish with some photos of our weekend.
 We had planned to go camping for the weekend, but with the threat of severe weather and a general desire to stick around the house, we stayed home for Drew's birthday weekend.  Only my husband would request a work project for his own birthday.  My raised vegetable beds are awesome, but the back side gets quite muddy  and nasty when the weather is wet.  At one point in the past I had mentioned how nice it would be to have it decked.  Drew pulled that out of the files of his mind and set his sights on decking.
Before...
 After! 


 While Drew worked up a sweat building that deck, Eleanor & I laid by the pool... the Minnie Mouse kiddie pool.  AKA, the dog's new giant water bowl. 
 She wasn't a fan of actually getting IN the water. 
 But was quite content to sit on the bench and splash her feet in the water. 
 It was ridiculously humid on Saturday and Eleanor's hair just got better and better.  Oh, the body curls! 
 Lunch under the umbrella.  (Side note: we went three weeks without any dairy and Eleanor's constipation issues didn't get any better.  She's back on cheese and couldn't be happier.  We'll just do prune pouches- because apparently she will eat anything if it comes in a pouch- and Miralax as needed.) 
 John stopped by to tell Drew happy birthday and we all took a break to eat Otter Pops (Drew's other birthday request).  He's easy to please. 
 Eleanor spent most of her pool time gathering things from the yard (including sticks, rocks, leaves, and scraps of wood from Drew's project) and throwing them in the pool to see if they float or sink.  I was happy when her nap time rolled around because I got to kick back in my cute new swim suit (isn't it retro and fun?!), lay by our super awesome pool with the baby monitor and a book, and soak up some sunshine. 
 Weight Watchers was temporarily suspended for Drew's birthday and we took full advantage.  Not only did we eat a million cupcakes, we ate pretty much everything else in sight. 
 Sunday morning we went to church, that afternoon we played in the back yard again, and that evening we went to our first Naturals baseball game of the season. 
Did you know you can buy wine at the ball park?  You can.  And hot dogs and brats and funnel cakes and lots of other stuff. 

 Nonnie and Jim joined us for the game and Eleanor took advantage of Nonnie snuggles. 
 Eleanor was NOT a fan of the fireworks during the National Anthem and spent the rest of the game nervously asking about fireworks and declaring that the loud speaker was too loud.  (We have head phones for her.  Drew reminded me three times.  I forgot them at home.  Oops.) She was also not a fan of the mascots.  She cried when the players came out on the field and Braeden wasn't among them.  I'm not sure she was a huge fan of the evening, but she was really good and we look forward to attending other games and being more prepared next time.
Drew played a round of golf Monday morning and I had visions of Eleanor and I enjoying another day in the back yard around the pool.  She refused to get in, but wanted me to make the water "rain" so she could "lick" it.  This kid. 
 She found a lady bug and fell in love.  All was well until the lady bug flew away and she spent the next 20 minutes crying about where he went.  "Where go? Lady bug! Where go?" Really, I can only explain that he flew back to the grass to be with his lady bug family so many times before I just lose sympathy altogether. 
 Pool?  Okay.  Sunscreen required if you're going to be in the sun and water.  FULL MELTDOWN.  Backyard fun time over.  
 She had a bit of a runny nose, but really nothing big.  By Monday evening she had really red cheeks and the whining had gone to a whole new level.  By Tuesday afternoon she had a 101.7 fever.  I googled it and I'm thinking it's Fifth's Disease (which sounds awful, but isn't anything serious).  The redness has gone down a lot, but not totally gone yet.  The fever is gone, but the clingy, whiny, snuggle baby is still not feeling great.  We've stayed home and are just taking it easy.  My understanding is that once the redness shows up on her face that the contagious part is over, but we're playing it safe while she's feeling crummy.