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Learning about the lives our ancestors lived. 

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Civil War, April 1865 - Appomattox

Civil War, April 1865 - Appomattox

Whether or not we had ancestors or extended relatives who served in the American Civil War, it’s only fitting that we commemorate the 159th anniversary of its conclusion this past April.  This was the war that gave freedom to all slaves, despite that issue not being the war’s original intent.  It all began when seven states from the south seceded from the bonds of the United States of America upon Abraham Lincoln’s election as president in November 1860.  By February 1861, the Confederate
Civil War, April 1865 - Elmira vs. Andersonville

Civil War, April 1865 - Elmira vs. Andersonville

When the Civil War came to an end with Gen. Lee’s surrender to Gen. Grant on April 9 1865, the prisoner of war camps in both the North and the South began to empty.  Unfortunately, many prisoners never saw their home and loved ones again after giving the ultimate sacrifice.  Though a multitude of men did make it back to their families, they took with them the emotional and physical scars of prison camp – from starvation to disease, along with the after effects of war’s emotional turmoil for all
Newtown Battle near present-day Elmira, August 29, 1779

Newtown Battle near present-day Elmira, August 29, 1779

August 29, 1779, 244 years ago, a battle near present-day Elmira in Chemung County, New York was significant to the Revolutionary War.  It played a crucial, though seldom discussed, key role.  It was not a bloody battle, but it was instrumental in breaking up the power of the Six Nation Iroquois Federation, thus allowing westward frontier expansion for colonials. For centuries the Iroquois Nation included the Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga and Seneca tribes.  In the early 18th century, th

Linda Roorda

Linda Roorda

Celebrating Independence Day!

Celebrating Independence Day!

It’s a fact that we Americans love our 4th of July celebrations!  We especially enjoy family gatherings and picnics, and big parades with lots of floats and marching bands.  We look forward to fireworks with their beautiful colors and designs exploding in the night sky.  We decorate our homes with flags and bunting.  We salute, or respectfully place our hand over our heart, as our nation’s flag is carried past us by military veterans in parades.  And, we recall the two important founding documen

Linda Roorda

Linda Roorda

School's In Session! The One-Room Schoolhouse

School's In Session! The One-Room Schoolhouse

It’s that time of year again!  School is already in full swing in some states, while locally and elsewhere school begins during the week after Labor Day. And students are either glad to be back in class or longing for the final bell of the day to ring.  Classes and the extended subjects are much different now than they were 200 years ago.  Students often did not have a strictly set school year like today, but were excused to help with farm chores such as planting and harvesting crops.  Like many

Linda Roorda

Linda Roorda

Tis The Season!

Tis The Season!

December 5th is a day my/our Dutch ancestors celebrated Saint Nicholas Day or Eve, part of traditional European Christmas celebrations for centuries.  My cousin Sytske Visscher in the Netherlands shared that “St. Nicolas Day/Sinterklaas Day is celebrated on December 5, or the weekend before or after. According to the myth, the Bishop of Myra in Turkey (St. Nicolas) was born on December 6 and started to give presents to the poor members of his congregation on the evening before, December 5.  Fami

Linda Roorda

Linda Roorda

Heroes of Yesterday

Heroes of Yesterday

I’ve read books or stories from virtually every war in which men and women of our nation, including my immediate family, relatives and ancestors, have been involved.  Their sacrifices have deeply touched my heart as I live a life of freedom, a blessing either limited or unknown to so many elsewhere in this world.  Yet, our families have not known a loss of life in war during this past century. A few years ago, friends of ours shared some treasured family papers with me before the reign of C

Linda Roorda

Linda Roorda

The  Harvests of Fall

The Harvests of Fall

As summer’s warmth gives way to the cooler days of fall, our thoughts turn to cold-weather projects, and that of storing food for the coming winter.  Without that process, our ancestors would be hard pressed to get through the bitter cold months, unless, of course, you could afford to purchase all your food supplies at the local general store.  Once upon a time, most families cultivated large vegetable gardens and raised a barnyard menagerie to put food by for the coming winter – a vital n

Linda Roorda

Linda Roorda

Johnny Appleseed, The Ever Elusive Man...

Johnny Appleseed, The Ever Elusive Man...

I’m sure we’ve all heard of Johnny Appleseed and those apple seeds he planted “everywhere.”  The 1948 Disney movie, “Melody Time,” and their 2002 version, “American Legends,” both include a short story about him with a simple upbeat song:  “The Lord is good to me, And so I thank the Lord, For giving me the things I need, The sun and rain and an apple seed, Yes, He’s been good to me…”  But who was this legendary man?  Not many Americans know the real story behind the myths perpetuated in fi

Linda Roorda

Linda Roorda

Celebrating Independence Day!

Celebrating Independence Day!

It’s a fact that we Americans love our 4th of July celebrations!  We especially enjoy family gatherings and picnics, and big parades with lots of floats and marching bands.  We look forward to fireworks with their beautiful colors and designs exploding in the night sky.  We decorate our homes with flags and bunting.  We salute, or respectfully place our hand over our heart, as our nation’s flag is carried past us by military veterans in parades.  And, we recall the two important founding documen

Linda Roorda

Linda Roorda

Laundry Day

Laundry Day

Starting my early Saturday morning chore of laundry, I couldn’t help recall this article I wrote a few years ago. Doing the laundry is everyone’s favorite chore, right?  Ummm… no!  Even with modern conveniences, it’s a task I don’t think many of us look forward to.  Sort the darks and lights, delicate linens from the jeans, pre-treat stains, use various cycles and water temperatures, to bleach or not to bleach, does it go in the dryer, on a hanger or the clothesline outside, does it need to be i

Linda Roorda

Linda Roorda

Bannerman’s Castle on the Hudson

Bannerman’s Castle on the Hudson

A Scottish castle on the Hudson?  Drawn to the hazy beauty of this photo, I was mesmerized by the castle’s classic lines… so reminiscent of centuries-old castles scattered around the British and Scottish moors and highlands, intrigued to know it sat upon American soil.  After researching and naming my Mom’s maternal Scots-Irish, I am proud to say that they, too, hold a special place in my heart amongst all my Dutch ancestors. Photo of Bannerman's Castle  by Will Van Dorp, on his blog,

Linda Roorda

Linda Roorda

The Sap’s Running!  Making Maple Syrup - PART II

The Sap’s Running!  Making Maple Syrup - PART II

(Originally published as front-page article in the local newspaper, Broader View Weekly, March 21, 2013. ) My family’s memories:  Sharing about the old ways of collecting sap and making syrup brought to mind the stories my mother has shared over the years.  The Tillapaugh family of 12 children in Carlisle, New York made and sold maple syrup for several generations, and my cousins continue the annual tradition today.  My mother, Reba, and her younger sister, Lois, readily recall the ch

Linda Roorda

Linda Roorda

The Sap’s Running! Making Maple Syrup - PART I

The Sap’s Running! Making Maple Syrup - PART I

My first personal-interview article originally published as front-page article in the local newspaper, Broader View Weekly, March 21, 2013: “It’s all up to Mother Nature,” said Al Smith.  When the days begin to get longer and stay above 32 degrees, but nights are below freezing, the sap begins to flow.  And it’s then we start to see those long lines of plastic tubing snaking between maple trees in the woods as we drive by.  Did you know it takes about 30 to 50 gallons of sap to make just on

Linda Roorda

Linda Roorda

The Underground Railroad - Part IV, Conclusion

The Underground Railroad - Part IV, Conclusion

Many communities in states above the Mason-Dixon line had safe homes to assist slaves fleeing north to freedom, like Portland, Maine.  A center of activity, the city was important to blacks fleeing slavery for not only safe homes enroute to Canada, but also employment in the rail and shipping industries. Recently, I learned from friends near Portland, Maine that the city’s Underground Railroad Abyssinian Meeting House/Church, built during 1828-1831, is undergoing restoration.  Noted to be

Linda Roorda

Linda Roorda

The Underground Railroad - Part III

The Underground Railroad - Part III

As we noted earlier, most of the early conductors on the Underground Railroad were Quakers, but their early numbers steadily grew to include Methodists, Presbyterians and many other denominations, anyone interested in helping free the slaves.  Both preachers and abolitionists spoke publicly despite threats against them as they made inroads into the hearts of Americans.  William Lloyd Garrison was one such man who influenced untold thousands of people with his abolition work, as did others who sh

Linda Roorda

Linda Roorda

The Underground Railroad - Part II

The Underground Railroad - Part II

Thomas Jefferson embodied the dichotomy of struggle about slavery within our nation.  Acknowledged in his writing of the U.S. Constitution is the biblical premise that “all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with the inherent and inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness…”  Though he owned slaves, he struggled with how to end the institution of owning another human.  He called it a “hideous evil,” yet, like others, saw blacks

Linda Roorda

Linda Roorda

The Underground Railroad - Black History Month

The Underground Railroad - Black History Month

PART I - Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “We are determined to work and fight until justice rains down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.”  Paraphrasing the Biblical book of Amos 5:24, King did just that with God at his side to challenge us to seek justice.  Sadly, slavery is still a profitable venture around the world, including in our nation under various guises.  It flourishes in over 100 countries with India, China, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Uzbekistan, and North Korea topping

Linda Roorda

Linda Roorda

America's Favorite Christmas Carols

America's Favorite Christmas Carols

If there’s anything that exemplifies the Christmas season, it’s the music.  The familiar faith-based carols and popular melodies embody the meaning of a beloved holiday as well as add to our joyous spirits.  But Christmas music back in the early days of America wasn’t what we think of today.  Obviously, there were no radios for listening to popular tunes, no records, cassettes, CDs or MP3s to buy. And, if anyone was dreaming of a white Christmas, it certainly wasn’t with a popular tune!  It

Linda Roorda

Linda Roorda

Of Christmas Tree Ships

Of Christmas Tree Ships

More than just the popular Christmas evergreen to celebrate the holiday, the Christmas tree has a storied background. Holding treasured memories for each of us, it’s been said to represent strength, perhaps to resist temptations or to remain strong in harsh times.  We often consider it a symbol of our Christian faith, a reminder of Christ’s birth and everlasting life, but it has also been an ancient symbol of wisdom and longevity.  President John F. Kennedy referred to the durable evergreen as a

Linda Roorda

Linda Roorda

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