Finding Grandpa Lemaster

Curtis Austin Lemaster, age 12, in 1930.

I had the great fortune of finally meeting up with Gail Skaggs, her brother Timothy and her mom.  I’d contacted Gail almost two years ago through Find a Grave to discuss my great-grandpa William Arby Lemaster because she seemed to have quite a bit of information on my Lemaster side.  Turns out, she and I are third cousins and we have a lot of matches on our DNA.   So we’ve spent the last two years emailing back and forth about our family and helping each other with pieces we’re missing from our trees.

When I met up with Gail and her family, she pulled out a box of photos that came from Dewey Lemaster, her grandpa and brother to my grandfather, Curtis Lemaster.  She pulled out the photographs thinking that I might be able to help identify certain unknowns, but the most amazing thing happened.  One of the very first photos she pulled out was a small school picture from 1930.  On the back was written “Curtis Lemaster.”  I about fell off my chair.  It was my grandpa Curtis at age 12!  Until that moment, I had never seen a picture of grandpa young – not even in his teens or twenties.  All my photos of grandpa are of him from my childhood and he’s already in his late 50’s/early 60’s.  But there was that sweet, little familiar face, slightly smiling, wearing bib overalls and showing his remarkably long arms that my mom commented he always had.  To my delight and surprise, Gail gave me this photographic treasure after making a copy for herself.  I think my heart nearly burst in my chest with excitement.

I immediately sent a snap to my two uncles, neither of whom had seen that picture before, and they were thrilled.  My cousin Shawn also had never seen it.  We were all so tickled!  I tried to show my dad, who is still suffering terribly after his second stroke and he didn’t really seem to grasp who it was.  When we told him it was his own father, he shrugged and said “Whoever that is!”  I wish he could remember more.

It goes to show you that for however many bad, rude and jerky people you may find on Ancestry (or any of the other genealogical sites, for that matter) there really ARE those people out there who are helpful, caring and willing to share their information.  Luckily for me, Gail is part of my actual family and while I found a new relative in her, I’d like to think she and I would have been friends regardless even if we wouldn’t have been related.  So please, don’t give up when someone won’t reply or someone won’t share information you’re looking for.  Keep going, keep reaching out and perhaps you’ll get lucky too.  I’m always amazed how Providence has placed some of the most amazing people in my life when I needed them most during my genealogical research.

My New Heirloom

Clara Lou Peters and Archie Stewart on their wedding day.

My mom sent me a picture of my grandma Clara Lou Peters Stewart on her wedding day recently.  It reminded me that she showed me her wedding dress once when I was little.  I’m not sure why she had it out specifically but it was in a big yellowing box and when she pulled it out, I remember thinking how lovely it still was and how much I’d love to wear it some day.  I never did get to wear it; my first impromptu wedding dress was a bright pink dress I’d worn to homecoming and at my second wedding, I wore a black lace number.

I had been thinking for a very long time about doing something with my wedding dress.  Not only was a black Gothic wedding dress totally unique at the time fifteen years ago but I also had hand sewn my own black veil trimmed in the sweetest black crochet trim.  It took me weeks to finish.  My dress, being delicate lace, had ripped during one of our military moves and so it hung in my closet for years now staring me in the face, unable to be worn any longer but being too sentimental to toss out either. 

The Importance of Speaking to the Living

Dad with great grand-daughter Mia!

I cannot stress the importance of speaking to your living relatives NOW before it’s too late. In my genealogy course I taught, that was practically my first tip to my students and right now, I’m truly needing to practice what I preach. My dad suffered a stroke last week and while he is expected to fully recover, for a while he was missing time, could not remember his only great-granddaughter, nor her name. He thought for a bit that he was still working at the place he worked at when I was a kid… so he was missing about 30 years there for a few days. It’s coming back to him and even today I quizzed him on a few relatives I had planned on doing an interview with him in October when I’m there for my daughter’s wedding but now, it’s even more pressing for me to make sure I ask absolutely everything I’ve ever wanted to know before it’s too late.

My Wedding Flower Heirloom

Our wedding day in 2002.

Flowers and weddings have been on my mind quite a lot here lately.  My daughter is in the midst of finalizing her wedding details for October and my own anniversary passed just last week.  Fifteen years ago, I carried the most beautiful bouquet of white roses at my wedding.  Today, even though the preservation process made them a creamy, near pink color, they hang on my wall in a special preservation “bubble” frame where I admire them every day when I walk by.  They serve as a wonderful, constant reminder of my wedding day.

The Ladies with the Flowers

My rhododendron about to pop!

I’d been anxiously watching my rhododendron bush for a few weeks waiting for its bright pink buds to open and this week did not disappoint! My patience was rewarded with a towering hot pink display this week… when I say towering, I mean it. It’s reaching my second floor windows!  In conjunction with Mothers Day last week, it made me start thinking about the ladies in my life who’ve always seemed to have particular flowers growing in their gardens.

I have unfortunately NOT inherited my ladies’ gardening gene… my father has it too and grows orchids which are notoriously hard to keep but he loves them and they flourish under his care. Even my husband can get plants to grow! He’s like the Jesus of plants, able to revive them from the dead. I have a pothos that I’ve nearly killed off twice, having just ONE brown leaf left and he’d somehow, someway, bring it back to life like Lazarus from the grave. We’ve had that pothos for about 9 years now! His name is Simon and he resides in my dining room next to Robert, another variegated pothos.  Robert Plant. Get it? LOL The only thing I’ve successfully kept alive for any amount of time has been my mini bonsai tree that I’ve had for two years now.  I don’t dare touch anything else. I’m like the Grim Reaper of the floral world.