What a difference 9 years makes! Tuesday, Sep 25 2012 

I know I am supposed to be alternating between my maternal and paternal heritage but a recent discovery just won’t let me go!

From a very young age I knew music existed within me.  There was no doubt.  As though the rhythm, melodies and lyrics blended into my very spirit.  I don’t know at what age I started singing but I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t.

As much as I consider myself a writer I am equally a singer.  The passion I have comes from the warmth that radiates in my core, travels up my chest, tingles in my throat and reverberates on my lips.  I feel the music in every single fiber of my being and every cell in my body.  I am a writer.  I am a singer.  I am an artist.  And apparently so was my great, great-grandfather Elmer.

If you haven’t already read my post about Elmer’s coal mining accident in 1902 then a) why not and b) here’s a brief synopsis…he was killed in a tragic accident at the Cranberry mine at the age of 32.  I wasn’t surprised to learn that he was a coal miner.  My mother’s relatives come from upstate Pennsylvania, where coal miners and farmers are a-plenty.  But I was floored up on reading his 1893 marriage record.  His occupation was listed as…just wait…MUSICIAN!

I know!  How amazing is that? I gaped at my computer screen, blinked the clouds from my eyes and felt the chills course through my arms.  As stunned as I was I also started wondering more about his life.  What instrument did he play?  Did he sing?  Did he perform locally with friends or family members?  How did his life change so significantly within a short period of time?  Marriage and children – having to provide for his family was the most reasonable answer I came up with.  Most likely being a musician couldn’t sustain them.  Couldn’t pay bills.  Couldn’t keep food on the table.  What was the inner struggle over giving up a passion?  Were there extenuating circumstances?  An emotional or mental breakdown?  Or was he a pragmatic man who acknowledged the reality of his situation and simply moved forward?

In all my research, I’ve learned about intriguing individuals on both branches of my family tree.  But my connection to Elmer is deeply rooted by more than bloodlines!

to be continued…

History was never my favorite subject. Thursday, Sep 6 2012 

I know…I know…I’m interested in ancestry research so why do I dislike history?

During my school years I loved English and Math but hated Science and Social Studies.  I constantly heard that the pairings were typically Math & Science versus English & Social Studies.  If you liked one subject it was likely you’d do well in the other.  Not me!  I didn’t understand why History was linked with English.  Studying literature was so engrossing.  So creative and based on using your imagination and critical thinking.  On the other hand, History was based on facts.  How many states?  What are their capitals?  When was the Spanish-American war?  Who was the 14th president of the United States?  How did we….Sorry, I just bored myself to sleep.

It wasn’t until I started reading Historical Fiction that I came to appreciate Social Studies/History as more than empty facts.  It was about PEOPLE.  About their experiences, hopes, dreams and struggles.  It wasn’t about knowing the time period of the Civil War but more importantly, why did it occur and what were the reasons behind them?  Who were the individuals involved?  How did they struggle on both sides of that horrendous time?  My third great-grandfather is just one of many young men who fought during the Civil War.  His story leaves me to ponder not only what he experienced but how I perceive my own choices.

Pvt Martin Karchner served in Company K, Pennsylvania 81st Infantry Regiment.  He enlisted in 1861 and was shot in the foot during the Battle of Charles City (also known as Battle of Glendale) in June of 1862 and according to the records I’ve found he was captured by the Confederacy. He returned home in 1862 on a ship carrying sick and wounded soldiers and went on to marry my 3rd great-grandmother.  They went on to have many children; one of which was Elmer who died in a coal mining accident in 1902.

I’m in the midst of doing more research on Martin’s military experience; the results of which will prompt another blog entry at a later date.  The point being, knowing the dates have led to me to know where and when he fought.  That leads me to want to know more.

And that’s a history lesson worth paying attention to!

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