Grandma’s Breakfast Tradition

It has been said that the best way to a man’s heart is through his stomach and I am sure that the women in our family must have learned 100’s of years ago that the best way to a farmers heart is a good breakfast in the morning. Since many of the mothers in my family were farmers wives the value of a hearty breakfast must have just been naturally molded into my genetic structure. My husband isn’t a farmer but breakfast is still the favored meal of the day. And the nicer and bigger it is the happier he is. When I was growing up breakfast was always a big part of visiting my grandmother Williams home. She always served big platters of eggs, biscuits and gravy and lots of bacon or sausage to go with it. I can still see Grandpa bisquits and chocolate puddingWilliams sitting at the table in the kitchen eating his breakfast on Grandma’s king and queen plates drinking his coffee when he was finished and then moving out to the porch to read the paper or out to the garage to tinker on his car. As a little girl growing up it was fun to go visit Grandma Williams and enjoy her big breakfasts. But nothing ever compared to those mornings when the gravy consisted of chocolate gravy. This tradition carried on through my mother’s home and we always knew there was company in the house when the Biscuits and Chocolate Pudding were served for breakfast.

Being of hearty farmer stock when I got married I had to carry on the tradition as well. The only problem, my dear husband doesn’t like Biscuits and Chocolate Pudding for breakfast or any other time of the day for that matter. That didn’t deter me, my children were going to understand the value of a good breakfast so they naturally grew up with the treat for breakfast as often as they could talk mom into making it. I have to admit that over the years the Biscuit’s sometimes became the Pillsbury brand and the Chocolate Gravy came straight out of the Pudding box but the flavor and the memories were still there. I have to wonder which side of the family brought the favored breakfast to the table and have come to believe that this a tradition brought by Grandma Avery’s side of the family and learned that the her Southern Roots were coming out even in our food choices.

I have learned that there are several legends regarding chocolate gravy in the South: My favorite found in the Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America states: ”Spanish Louisiana had a trading network into the Tennessee valley. This trade may have introduced Mexican-style breakfast chocolate to the Appalachians, where it is called ‘chocolate gravy.’ I had relatives that came out of Tennessee so why not Chocolate Gravy for Breakfast. You can find Chocolate Gravy and Biscuits mentioned on the internet hundreds of times so I have decided that maybe our family tradition is not as unique as I thought. So if you ever come visit our home you might just find yourself being introduced to a family favorite and company breakfast must. My grandmothers famous Biscuits and chocolate gravy. And I promise to make it from scratch the way all the mothers in my family who came before me made it as well.

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John Henry Avery on Harvesting corn in 1919

John Henry Avery Corn 1919

John Henry Avery shucking the corn in 1919

John Henry Avery corn resting

John Henry taking a break during corn harvesting

corn crop 1919

The Avery Corn Crop of 1919

Corn seasonFor years as we have visited my parents in Illinois it has been a standing joke that the most exciting thing to do was watch the corn grow and see which side of the road the soybeans were planted on that particular year. I think many of my family members have pictures with someone standing beside the corn to measure just how high it was. My nephews have all had turns working in the fields DE tasseling the corn and complaining about how hot it was and what a dirty job it always became. We would watch the harvest season with the big combines with interest noting how quickly a field of corn could be harvested. I didn’t really think about how that process would have affected my own family until I was poring through some old albums kept by my grandmother Carrie Avery Williams. I knew that my mother had moved to Idaho about 1937 and that her father and grandfather had been farmers in Kansas and Nebraska before the great depression growing none other than corn. In the albums I found pictures of my great grandfather John Henry Avery’s corn crop. Along with the wagon he used for gather in his crop and the horses that pulled that wagon. I saw the big piles of corn and realized that he too had grown corn. Only his corn harvesting and de tasseling stories would have made anything my nephews experienced a walk in the park. In 1919 most farmers picked their corn by hand and threw the ears into a horse drawn wagon. Remember the corn could be a foot or two taller than the person cutting it so even getting it down could have been a challenge. Once the corn was picked the husks had to be removed from the ears of corn before it could be sold at market. To do this each farmer had a husking peg. This tool was made of metal or wood and it was usually attached to a leather strap which held it on the farmer’s hand. The husking peg would slide down the length of the ear of the corn . It would split the husk as it slid along. This made the husk easier to pull away from the ear. A good farmer could husk 100 bushels of corn a day. It took about 25 to 30 acres of farm land to grow 100 bushels of corn. As I realized just how hard my grandfather must have worked to provide for his family without the conveniences of today’s tools I stood in awe and realized just how blessed we are today with the many tools that make our work so much easier. It has been said by his children and grand children that knew my Great Grandpa Avery that he was very stern. His grandaugther Barbara Williams Hammond said ” I don’t remember him as a laughing, playful person. And I for one did not want to cross him  Each of his children had their own view of Grandpa. To my mother, the oldest daughter, he was a saint, gentle, kind and as a young father, tender when a child was sick, and even playful. To most of the boys, although they were devoted to him, he was the “Old Man” who expected hard work, obedience and bending to his will and his plans for the family. I think that in reality he was all of the above.”  My Great Grandpa Avery died when I was only 5.  My memories are all fond.  . Whenever I smell gingersnap cookies I see a tall man dressed in coveralls  who held me on his lap by the kitchen window as we shared the cookies together.  I believe that we must have had a special bond that only a grandpa and a little girl can have. I don’t remember stern only kind and willing to take a little girl on his lap and make a lasting memory with her . A memory that I will always cherish and a great grandfather that I look forward to meeting again.

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Rootstech 2013

Roots tech 2013 has been exciting .The classes are great, the entertainment wonderful,the exhibition hall even better. I have learned so much and reconnected with a cousin I have not seen in over 45 years. Our only regret choosing the Crystal inn for accommodations. The bed was old. Shuttle service to the event was even worse to none existence. I give them a minus one star

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Are you indexing the 1940 Censu

Blue Ribbon, 1940 on black, 100

1940 First Indexer Award

The displayer of this badge certifies that he or she is a proud
indexer of the 1940 Census.
1. Name: Robert Givens
2. First Indexed: April 4, 2012
3. First Batch:  Arkansas
4. Favorite experience: I found both of my parents in Idaho
5. I learned about this award from the blog of “Givens Gaggles
If you want to help index, visit

Award Rules
To earn this award you must index or arbitrate at least one batch
of the 1940 Census. Once you have submitted a batch:
1. Copy this entire post, including the rules.
2. Replace the answers to the questions.
3. If you wish, replace the badge with a different size or background.
Pick from the choices at
3. Post on your blog.
4. Display the award with pride alongside other awards and
badges on your site.


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Thanksgivings Past

The turkey is in the oven, the wind is blowing outside, family members are sleeping in and the kids are busy relaxing.  Now would be a great time to spend a few moments being thankful for ancestors now gone who sacrificed so much to allow us this wonderful day.  To the Carter family who came to Virginia in the early days of our history bringing many indentured servants with them.  To the Ives family who settled in New Haven Connecticut in their quest for religious freedom. To the Cransdorf family who left their beloved home in the Palantine Region of Germany in their quest for religious freedom eventually settling in The Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. And we can’t forget the many men who sacrificed so much for the freedom we enjoy today. The revolutionary Patriots, David Ives and Caleb Smith of Vermont, George Grandstaff and John Beadle of Virginia, John Madden and William Hubbs of South Carolina.  The Patriots of 1812 Osborne, William, and Thomas Beadle of Tennessee, Phillip Grandstaff of Virginia and David Ives Jr of Vermont.  And of course we can’t forget our Civil War Soldier both North and South. Even closer to home are those who preserved our freedom in later times. Charles Henry Burrow who was a merchant marine in World War II. Donald Neumann in the Korean War  Dan Burrow in The VietNam War and James Valle in the Afganastan War.  To each of these brave men my thanks goes out.

Today I am Thankful for my family my freedom a husband who loves me, Children who have grown up to be responsible parents in their own rights and a long line of progenitors who have paved the way for me to enjoy this wonderful day with my family.  Each one has  a story to tell and life that was lived in honor.

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Flip-Pal A Genealogists dream come true

Nothing like being in a Library and having to wait in line to use the copy machine only to be told you can’t use the machine on a

particular book.  Or better yet waiting in line for the Library to be open and find out that you can’t take anything in but a notebook and pencil.   Flip-Pal is your new answer.  Not only is it the best tool around for researching in the Library but it makes a wonderful companion when you are visiting a relative who has lots of pictures but won’t let you take them out of their home to make copies.  Of course you can always use a camera and spend time setting it up making sure the lighting is right only to get home and discover the picture didn’t turn out quite the way you wanted. Or you can set and visit and quickly scan all the pictures you could possibly want in a fraction of the time.   What is even better is the ability to take a large picture scan it in several sections and then have your computer stitch the picture back together when you get home.  The stitching software comes on the SD Card that comes with your flip-pal.  For $149.00 you can purchase a flip-pal with the SD card and the stitching program.  For $199.00 you can purchase the Flip Pal and photo editing software, a genealogy program and a digital scrapbooking program. (Over $250.00 worth of Products).

If you are interested in purchasing one or would like more information please contact me personally through the contact sight on this website. You can also order one from

A genealogists Dream Come True

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Time Out For Women


“Title: Time Out For Women
Location: Fresno Convention Center
Link out: Click here
Description: You won’t want to miss this great event. Wonderful speakers, Great Music and over 1600 special women for a weekend of fun and spiritual renewal. There are still a few tickets left for $69.00 each. The price goes up at the door.  Women need an occassional time out and this is a wonderful way to spend it.  I promise you will come away uplifted and ready to meet new challenges in your life. 

Start Date: 2011-4-08
End Date: 2011-4-09″

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Alabama Look Ups.


“As I was sitting at my desk looking at all the genealogy books sitting on the shelfs in my office that have been cataloged used a few times and then put away I had this over whelming desire to help other people do their own research. Not that I don’t get plenty of oppurtunites to do that anyway. But why not use my computer hours helping other people instead of playing silly computer games and not thinking.  So with that in mind I decided to start my own Random acts of genealogy kindness by featuring my own books and CD’s.  Therefore for this coming week I will feature my books from Alabama.  If you have ancestors in Alabama and need information out one of the following books let me know. I would ask that you limit your requests to no more than 3 surnames at a time.  If you would like printed copies of information I find I will be glad to help you for the cost of the paper and mailing fees.  You can contact me via the contact button on the left hand side of the screen.

Alabama Records I own:

1820 Census Index Alabama Jackson, Ronald Vern
Alabama Family History and Genealogy News 1987,1988 NACGS
Alabama Records vol 101 Jones, Kathleen & Gandrud, Pauline
Annals of Northwest Alabama (2 vol) Elliott, Carl
Federal Census Index 1870 Alabama and Florida Heritage Quest
Federal Census 1870 state of Alabama Heritage Quest
Land Records, Al, Ar, Fl, La, Mi, Mn, Oh, Wi, 1790-1907 FTM
1850 US Federal Census, Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi FTM
Early Alabama, Arkansas, and Mississippi Settlers 1700-1800’s FTM
Winston, An Antebellum and Civil War History of Hill Co. North Alabama Dodd, Donald B. and Wynelle S.
Federal Census 1860 Madison Co. Alabama Heritage Quest
Early History of Huntsville (Madison Co.) Alabama 1804-1870
Revolutionary Soldiers in Alabama Owen, Thomas

Happy Hunting;

Kathy “

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Creating the History in Family History

“Every once in awhile an artifact will come across your desk when doing genealogy that makes all the hours of researching worth it.  Sometimes its in the form of a particular article left by an ancestor, it may be the family bible or even an old picture. But when it’s a letter written  from one family member to another over 100 years ago it makes all the searching worth it.  Although you may only recieve a copy  the original letter the family still comes alive.  I always wondered why my husband’s  3 great grandmother Elizabeth Ellis Carter was alone in the census in 1850.  She had small children but no husband.  He appeared with her in 1860 in Texas but in 1850 she seemed to be alone living near family. Where had Jasper gone and why wasn’t where I thought he should have been? One day I recieve a packet in the mail from another family reserch which contained the letter found below along with dates and places of other family members. Suddenly the mystery was  solved and Jasper became an exciting piece of History in our family. His story and insight about the gold rush has been shared in numerous class room assignments over the years.  Jasper was now a real person with real feelings and real insights into the history of our Country. These little tidbits of Family History make all the hours of searching worth the effort.  So don’t just gather facts and figures when doing your genealogy. Look for the stories behind them.  Create Family Histories that will bind you to your ancestors and please don’t put the stories in your notes and forget them. Pass them on to your children and allow them to understand the sacrifices their ancestors made to allow them the freedoms they enjoy today.    The following letter is transcribed exactly as it was written and spelled.

Letter written by Jasper Carter to his wife Elizabeth S. Carter    From San Jose Va. Cal. June 1st 1853

 Mrs. E.S. Carter                                                  San Jose Val. Cal.

                                                                           June 1st /53

Dear Betty

                 This is the 2nd letter I write sinse receiving one of you.  Nevertheless if my letter receive as cordial a welcome in your hand as yours do in mine I should not fail or neglect writing frequently I am hapy to announce my health hopeing that the same irrestissable gift may constantly attend you all.  I recieved Amelias letter in due season and answered the same some weeks since It seems bearly possible for you to conceive how greatly I desire to greet our little ones to take part in pointing them to the first principles of true greatness and moral excellence to assist you in directing their feet in pease along the shimering pathway of the just to the sun lit hills of immortality I am convinsed that you possess the ability both natural and acquired of wielding a more powerful and efficient infulence over their minds for good than myself Remember I beseech thee Remember now is the time Sinse I wrote last nothing has occured in this country of importence to you or any one else that I know of

I did not have sufficient space in my last letter to say all that I wished to say You wished to know who had injured me and in what respect they are all straingers to you the principle mans Name is Dale and the sircumstances are about these Dale had a horse shot about the same time there was a cow shot belonging to him or some of his clique I know nor care not which but so it was said that he believed that my partner or me one or the other did it and ever since then he has been endeavoring to the utmost extent of his ability to prejudice the public mind against us not notwithstanding all that he has been able to effect we yet have at least a few substantial friends who still have the impudence to stand up for us   You say that you have been looking for my thousand Dollar bills to drop out for some time that is  no means an unreasonable expectation but since leaving the mines I have hardly had money enough in hand at one time to justify going to San Francisco to purchase a bill of exchange but the first sale I make of stock amounting to anything worth while I will send you the money unless I sell all at one time and bring it along with me  Since I have been in the valey I have had all my little fortune profitably invested and I think tolerably safely too    If I can make any reasonable and right calculation I have done better in the Ranching business upon an avarige than I did mineing but I do not wish to make the impresion on your mind that I have done well for infact I think that I have done a very slim busines considering the openings for well doing in this country and yet it is better than I posibly could have done else where   It is growing quite late at night therfore I must bid you adieu for the present..  Write me often my love you can scarcely imagine what a joy what a comfort it is to hear from you in this far off land to learn that your heart is still faithful and loveing and true I have not always perhaps never written as I would have spoken had we been face to face yet it does seem if it can be possible that since our seperation I feal a more devoted attchment for you than ever and although some who know the fealings and emotions which swell my aching bosom might be ready to conclude that if he loved her he would bewith her but ah how  could I forget thee how could I feal indifferent towards that one whose affections I have gained and weded in her girlhood will you for me kiss that sweet babe I’ve never seen may never see   My love to the children all my kind regards to all the family

                                                                                                Jasper Carter

 The following forwarding letter from Bettie Carter to Jackson Carter is found on the backside of jasper’s second sheet.

 Elliston Ky   July 25 1853

 Dear Brother I send you the last letter I have received from your brother Jasper you can read the contents I am happy to say this leaves us in health and hope it may find you enjoying the same blessing I would be very glad to hear from you indeed I think this is the third one of Jaspers letters I have sent you I would like to know whether you recieved them or not   My brothers and Sisters families are well and send their love to you al   Brother Peter has gone south will be back in about a week I have nothing of interest to write your relations are well in fayette as far as I know and the old neighbors are also well I heard from them last Monday George Egbert Lunsford are likely to remain Bachelors also all cousin George Mitchel boys I think there are about 6 there Millie Lyon is married.  She married a grandson of Unce Hezzie L…n His name is

John Marders I have understood that it is thought that Cousin Mary Nelson will marry this fall Susan Gosney looks very well indeed and is as lively as a cricket O how glad I would be to see you all once more particularly Mother I hope we may live to see each other yet if Jas ever is so fortunate as to get back I intend for us all to pay you a visit i shall look for him about christmas any how I will close by subscribing your loving sister write soon remember me to all Bettie S Carter   Jackson Carter

P S    Sarah Jane Brother Peters girl com to her death last Saturday week ago by hanging herself  cause unknown   Be sure to write as soon as you get this


 on side of Page   Mercola sends his love to you and says he would like to see you”

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Organize your Genealogy from the beginning.

“For many genealogical researhers the task of organizing years of records from file cabinets to computer based programs is an overwhelming task.  The age of computers and digitization is upon us and the years of file folders and big cabinets are gone. So instead of doing research many of us are busy making a huge transition from the old to the new.  The problem is the new changes each day and keeping up can be a little tricky. For those of you who are just beginning may I suggest that you begin with a plan in mind.  Organize from day one.  It will make your life so much easier and your work much more appealing to your tech savvy decendants.

 There is no right way to organize your records.  The important thing is to organize them in a way in which you and those coming after you will be able to quickly set down and evaluate what you have already accomplished and then pick up the research where you ended.   Whether you use  the computer, 3 ring binders or file folders for those important can’t dispose of documents matters not.  The important thing is that you are organized and have a systematic system easy to understand by others.There are several items to consider when setting up your system 1.  Do you have an archival copy either in the form of a  3 ring binder, a CD, or published as a book. 2..  Do you have your original documents filed by name,  by locality, or alphabetically 3.  Do you have an index to your original documents.  I use my research log as my index. 4.  Do you have a systematic working copy which you will take to the Library with you which needs to include a research log, possibly a family group sheet, a pedigree chart, a notebook system for your notes with a defined way in which you will make your documentation which is easy for you to use. 5   Do you file your families by Surname or a group of surnames using a system or the surname, given name then by locality, or just the surname and locality  6. Do you have an easy to understand easy to read system by which your notes can be read and understood. 7.  Did you make a transcription of your original documents if so do they refer to the location of the original document in your filing system? 8. Do you have your correspondence organized in a manner that can be understood by others?  I keep a correspondence log, abstract the pertinant data, and special stories, even digitizing the really important letters. 9.  Is your system set up that if you leave a surname for awhile can you quickly return to it with  very little evaluation?

Keep a working Notebook or File.  It is important to try and keep everything uniform and in some kind of systematic order.  It is too easy and tempting to write down information on little scraps of paper and then forget to add it to your documentation at home.  Use a documentation notebook or some other form of filing system when working at the Library. These little steps can make a world of difference later in your research. Always keep good research logs.  Use forms to help keep information together and  Keep paper the same size or if its small attach it to a bigger piece of paper.   Take the time to properly file the information when you get home.  After a research trip don’t move on until  you have taken the time to evaluate and file  the information you gleaned from the previous trip Remember: You will have to spend almost as much time if not more at home imputing the information you find and properly organizing it as you will at a Library.

Computerized Documentation should follow rules you can use and understand.  My mom’s way of organizing her records is not my way and so it is important to figure out your own system. One you are comfortable with. It can be as complicated or simple as you would like to make it. In my word processor program I have set up files for different functions.  I use Word Perfect although any word program will work. In my program I have the following files. 1.  File titled Genealogy in which are sub files under various surnames in which I keep my documentation, time lines, histories.  2.  File titled Correspondence Logs= Surname Index to correspondence data 3.  File titled Correspondence Data in which are sub files under various surnames for the data extracted from letters and email.  This may also refer to a PAF File on a Floppy disc with data on it. 4.  File titled Research Logs = Surname  Index to my documentation files and work completed.   I file complete Transcriptions under my documentation referring to the place where the original is kept. In my PAF documentation I put an abstract of that same information.

Remember: It may take awhile to transfer all of your information to the computer but you will find it much easier to work with in the future. Do a little bit each day and the task won’t seem so hard. This is also a good way to take a second look at your information and you will find new areas to research in. Finally create X-Files in your database. This is an excellent place to keep all those people in the area who you can’t connect to yourself. It also makes it   Easy to refer to when corresponding with others and you can easily transfer to your own data base when you make the connecting link.

When doing research in a particular area you always find names that don’t quite fit into your pedigree but they must be related. After all they have the same last name and live in the same locality. Don’t just ignore them. Create a file just for them as well following the same rules you set up for your family; create a X-file by surname, glean the important information and add it to the documentation of your data base.  This way you will always have the information for future use. 

Organization can be the key to a successful genealogical database and make it much easier for you to do your research.  Remember the rules are up to you. You need to be able to use and understand it.   So get organized, and happy hunting.”

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