Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Living in Tornado Alley

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Hello again!

I've been spending my time "in the garden," not blogging, and I've missed it.

However, the past couple of days have been spent preparing for the tornadoes predicted in my corner of the world.

How does one prepare for a tornado? First, you make sure any outside decor and equipment, lawn furniture or anything that could become a deadly missile is secured or removed.

You prepare your safe room, which for me is the basement of the house. Lucky, because it's not a cramped space and there's a real bed to sleep on if required. We are advised to gather necessary supplies such as flashlights, batteries, fulled charged phones, portable radio, water, food, pillows and anything else you might need if required to stay there for any length of time.

I put in a safe place valuables -- items that can be turned into instant cash in a worst case scenario. Also, car keys, wallets with credit cards/drivers license/ -- anything that would be time consuming to replace.

Of course, one can be prepared and none of this would make a difference if the worst happened, which it did for some not so very far from where I live.

Tornadoes destroyed a boat marina just a few miles from where I live. A community just down the road from the marina was virtually destroyed -- homes, a fire station, church, school. People died. 

The hardest hit in some cases are mobile homes, as some residents don't leave them for a shelter as they are advised to do. A great number of these homes were destroyed in a park in the same community.

It unnerves me to no end watching the television weather reports as the storms progress. I realize this is a valuable tool for keeping people informed but I get upset. So finally I turned it off and went to bed, hoping the worst was over. It was.

We awoke to a new day -- for the damage to be assessed, for cleanup to begin, for the families to mourn their loved ones. Tonight was to be a repeat of last night but we got lucky, I think. Nothing on the horizon as of yet.

Tornadoes are just one of the natural disasters that occur on the planet. People in other parts of the country and world endure hurricanes, earthquakes, tsunamis, wild fires, floods, droughts, as well as many many man made disasters.

At least with tornadoes, we get advance warnings because of the advancements in radar and storm projection equipment. It has not always been this way; I remember so well as a child knowing a tornado was in the air by looking at the sky and the way the air outside "felt." We had no basement or storm shelter; we simply huddled in a corner of the house and hoped for the best.

Once again we have been spared property damage or worse.

What kinds of natural disasters are you required to prepare for? What preparations do you make?


Thursday, April 24, 2014

An Unfinished Project - Please Help!


Hello again!

Those of you who know me likely knew I've been in the garden nonstop since the weather FINALLY turned warm.

And that's exactly what I've been up to. Mind you, I'm only doing clean up, and there's tons of that to attend to.

I don't plan to start any new things this year - but concentrate instead on taking care of what I already have. And that's a lot!

I have had in mind for a year or more that I wanted to make note cards from my photographs. I even bought the stationary required to print from the computer; I gathered many photos into a file. And that's where I left it.
I kept thinking I'd make the cards when I became better at taking pictures but that may never happen.

So now I'm thinking it's time to make that happen.

Below are a few of the photos I set aside for the finished project. And I need your help.

Please choose a favorite!

1.  Flowering Cherry Tree

2.  Moon in the Night Sky

3. Chive Blossom

4.  Hydrangea #1

5.  Gardenia

6.  White Petunia

7.  Pink Petunia

8.  Hydrangea #2

9.  Magnolia Blossom

10. Day-lily

11. Scented Geranium

12. Magnolia #2

13. New Dawn Rose Bush

14. New Dawn Rose Cluster

15. Alabama Peaches

16. Late Afternoon Sky

17. Sunset

18. Clouds at Sunset

19. Butterfly on Zinnia
I haven't been able to view and comment on the Blogs I usually visit daily, but I hope to be back with you soon.

Thank you very much for your input on the above photographs!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Finnish Community of Lauderdale County in 1885

I found  "The Heritage of Lauderdale County, Alabama," online some time ago. The book has no publication data; it is likely an unpublished manuscript.

Nevertheless, it contains a great deal of historical information about the county in Alabama where I live. Lauderdale County is actually older than the state itself, created in 1818 by the Territorial Legislature; Alabama became a state in 1819.

I am somewhat of a history buff and most of the information was familiar to me. However, I found two entries therein about a Finnish Colony that once existed in the county -- something I was not aware of.

I know from my blog statistics that I have readers in Finland, so I am reprinting two articles, as you, too may find them interesting.

The book begins:

"A special thank you goes to Marjorie and E.B. Norton Jr. for undertaking the task of documenting every historical marker in LauderdaleCounty. They visited each site and transcribed the text as listed on the markers. Marjorie compiled the text and her husband E.B (illegible) the locator maps. We praise them for such a worthwhile endeavor. This is an invaluable addition to our heritage."

Finnish Colony At Cloverdale - II
Cloverdale's Finnish community was established by immigrants from Finland who wanted a better life and freedom from oppression. Finland had been under Swedish rule in the years 1155 -1809, then Russian rule from 1809 - 1917 when Finland obtained their freedom.

During the years 1880 - 1900 there was a Russian military leader who was very harsh and wanted to make Rusians out of the Finns. Times were very hard, especially for the farmers. Finns had always had to serve in the Swedish army and then in the Russian armed forces. Many young men were tired of serving the Russians and did not want to continue being oppressed. The Finns always dreaded the times when the Russians came to their farms and confiscated their food and animals.

In addition to harsh treatment by Russia, there were the long dark cold winters when living was very difficult. Summers were short, the weather was cold and rainy, making it difficult to raise food for family and livestock. They heard living was easier in the United States and work was available. 

Most of the Finns at Cloverdale came from the north central area of Finland not very far from the Arctic Circle. A few were acquainted with each other
in Finland, but most were not.

The immigrants obtained passage on ships bound for North America and entered North America at Halifax, Nova Scotia; Saulte St. Marie on the Canadian-Michigan border at the mouth of Lake Superior; others through Ellis Island. Most of the Finns who came to Cloverdale first lived on Michigan's Upper Peninsula and Wisconsin where they worked in the iron and copper mines, on the railroad, in the woods cutting timber, or on boats plying the Great Lakes.

There were land agents advertising the good farm lands for sale at Cloverdale, Alabama. Thus began an influx of Finns moving to Cloverdale around 1885 and continuing until 1912. Most of the Finns settled on a road currently known as Renegar Road. The road is the first road to the right just past the post office and exits at Cloverdale School.

There were about 8-10 families with names such as Hakola, Ilves, Haataja, Seppanen, Keranen, Ahonen, Symons, Leskinen, and Marjetta whose family name was changed to Abramson. The total population was about 60 persons.

Some came but did not stay long, possibly due to the hot summers. Finns have a word which cannot be translated - "sisu". Sisu is a key word for a Finn's success. It's an inner fire or superhuman force that comes in times of stress and helps a person to overcome obstacles which seem unattainable.

The Finns who came to Cloverdale showed their "sisu" by overcoming the burdens of learning a new language which was entirely different to their native tongue; also facing a different culture, weather, livelihood.

The families that stayed all farmed, learning to raise crops such as cotton, plus foods needed for families and livestock. Everyone had large gardens for vegetables, orchards for different types of fruit trees, and very important, a spring and fall crop of potatoes. There were a few cows, lots of chickens and some hogs on each farm. Dairy products were VERY IMPORTANT since butter was much used for seasoning and milk for drinking. One popular dairy product called ''viili'' was similar to our present day unflavored whole-milk yogurt. Homemade bread was baked with flour made from wheat raised on the farm.

In November or December the arrival of a large wooden bucket of salted herring from Finland was eagerly awaited. Delicious dishes were made with this salted herring and potatoes. It was important to have the fish and potatoes for Christmas dinner. This was a traditional Finnish dish.

Coffee breads seasoned with cardamom were very popular and, of course, coffee was always ready. Most everyone drank milk at meal time and adults had coffee at mid-morning and mid-afternoon. Even when the adults were working in the field, the coffee was taken to them.

The Finns enjoyed a simple farm life, since they enjoyed the quiet beauty and solitude of nature. They realized it was a special privilege to be an American and to be able to own their own farms. The older immigrants had much difficulty learning English, so Finnish was spoken at home. However, it was very important that the children learn English, many learning when they started school. Parents stressed the fact that being an American was a special privilege. Thus, several men served in both World Wars and one immigrant served with General Joe Wheeler in Cuba and the Philippines.

The Finnish community at Cloverdale has now disintegrated. However, it could be said that this community truly was a "melting pot" as the first generation Finns have mostly married spouses with non-Finnish backgrounds. The descendants became a part of the community and the USA by being teachers, farmers, writers, nurses, bankers - to name a few of the occupations pursued by them. All have benefited from the courage displayed by the early
immigrants who were willing to face an unknown life in a new country.

Submitted by: Milka "Millie" Seppanen Duke, a first generation Finn who grew up in the Clover Finnish community.

Finnish Colony At Cloverdale I
  
The Finnish settlers first came to Calumet, Michigan where they found work in the copper mines. There was quite an influx of Finns to Cloverdale between the years 1885 and 1912. This was due to three Finnish land agents, J.P. Hendrixson, Adolph Korvonen and Matti Lappi from Michigan and Illinois who wished to establish a Finnish settlement in the South. 

Through Finnish newspapers in the north, they advertised good farm land in the South, at Cloverdale, AI. First to purchase land were William and Louise Keranen from Ironwood, Michigan. Her mother, Nina Symons came with them about 1885. They ran a store in Fairview until his death in 1916. Mrs. Keranen later married Isaac Heikkinen but they divorced in 1917. She later married Andrew Leskinen and both died in 1930's. William Isaac Abramson and family came from Michigan in 1884. He highly recommended Cloverdale to other Finns. 

In 1897, Joseph Ives and wife Katarine left Finland seeking a better place to live. He purchased a farm. In 1890, Stepanus Hakola of IImajaki, Finland left Finnish army and came to U.S. first going to Chicago. He purchased land in Cloverdale in 1896 and later joined U.S. Army where he became ill and lost his farm. His brother, Jacob Hakola, a carpenter in Helsinki, Finland brought his wife and two sons to redeem the farm. Later they had one daughter, Hilda Hakola who married Meadows Gray. 

Matt Haataja born in Oula, Finland came to America in 1906 to find a better place to live. In 1911, he moved to Cloverdale. The same year came Olli Seppanen family from Calumet. They also bought a farm and remained. Other families came but stayed only briefly.

It seems that all the Finns who settled in Cloverdale came between 1880 and 1906 when Finland was under Russian dominion. Years between 1910 and 1925 were the growing years of "Little Finland" in Cloverdale. About eight families with population of about 50 became almost as one family and continued the Finnish language for sometime. They were remembered because of their "sauna" steam baths and their "Sisu". Hard to explain, they felt it was their "sisu" that sustained them. Their meaning of this word was "an unexplainable kind of inner fire or superhuman nerve force that comes miraculously in time of stress and helps one to do the most impossible."

In 1998, the only land still owned by Finnish descendants
belongs to Mr. and Mrs. Oscar Duke (Millie Sepannen) whose both
parents were Finnish.

From Paper by late Mrs. Hilda Hakola Submitted by: Mrs. Henry
B.Abramson

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Looks like spring

But the wind feels cold this morning. Here are a few things I have in bloom:

Pansies
Vinca
Thrift
Chinese snowball (chartreuse now but will turn white

Crabapple tree
Quince fruit tree
Late blooming cluster daffodil

Wishing you a happy and productive weekend!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Finding the Lost Family

I mentioned in a previous post that I would write about my "Lost Family," the one I "discovered" thirteen years ago while involved in genealogy research.


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The Howell surname originated in Wales

Before the days of the Internet, finding such information was near impossible, or else would require untold hours of grueling work and travel time. But now, researchers and historical associations are sharing massive amounts of digital files to aid those interested in discovering their roots.

I don't recall exactly how I found the lady in Colorado who so freely shared information; at times you follow one link after the other and it's impossible to reverse the steps and know how you got there!

She is a Howell descendant and researcher, having spent years tracing her family. She was kind enough to tell me her personal memories of her family, as well as send an unpublished manuscript another researcher had compiled. 

Between those two sets of information, I learned the following facts -- heretofore unknown by any of my family members living at that time (2001); I say "at that time" because it's possible older family members now deceased knew all or part of this):

  • Moses and Jemina Howell were the grandparents of Poppy Howell.They moved from Virginia to Tennessee after the American Civil War (1860-1864).  
  • Moses and Jemina had ten children -- eight sons, one of which was Solomon (father of Poppy) and two daughters.
  • Solomon and all his siblings were born in Lincoln County, Tennessee.
  • Solomon married Sarah Sandlin in 1863. They had three children, two daughters and one son. 
  • Sarah died (year unknown) and one of Solomon's brothers moved his family to Ben Wheeler, Van Zandt County, Texas, taking Solomon's two daughters with him. No record has yet been found of the son, neither in Texas nor elsewhere. Numerous researchers have tried to find information about him, but to no avail.
  • Solomon remained in Lincoln County, Tenn., and eventually moved to Limestone County, Ala., where he married Georgia Ann Stanton in 1873.
The lady who provided the above information is a descendant of Solomon's brother who moved to Texas.

The connecting link -- the way I know this is our family -- is the marriage of Solomon to Georgia Ann. She is the mother of Poppy!

The lady in Colorado had no knowledge that Solomon married again and had a son (Poppy), nor did she have information about his death.

Now we know from a family story that Poppy's daddy (Solomon) was "killed with a baseball bat by a man in Elkton, Tenn." That's what we've heard all our lives, but that's all we knew.

As I mentioned in the previous post, several of our family members have tried unsuccessfully over the years to find out more about Solomon, details of his death and where he is buried.

Now here's the "kicker" to this story. Early today, as I was assembling my notes in preparation of writing this post, I was doing a bit of additional research on the Internet. And what did I find? THIS!!!


Source: Lincoln County Pioneers publication

KILLEDWe clip the following paragraph from a Pulaski letter dated October 31st, to the American. The killed man is thought to have been a native of this county. His father, Moses Howell, was one of our early citizens, and moved a few years ago to Limestone County, Ala., where he is now living, unless he has recently died. Solomon Howell left Lincoln County about 5 or 6 years ago, and was then unmarried.

At Kelly’s Ford, near Elkton, on last Saturday evening, Lewis Kelly struck Sol. Howell on the head with a base-ball bat from which death almost immediately ensued. Howell was about forty years old, and leaves a wife and two children. He was drinking at the time and brought about the difficulty. Kelly is a quiet young man, of good family, but it is said he was not justifiable in killing Howell. He has left the country.

This is what many of us have been searching for many years -- some sort of documentation of how Solomon Howell died. 

I cannot tell you how gratified I am to have finally solved this mystery. I should have made a career as a detective!

Of the two daughters -- Poppy's half-sisters -- who went to Texas with their uncle:

One (Jenny) never married; the other (Elizabeth) married and had three children. 

I'll leave it for future family genealogists to sort through and try to find the offspring of these relatives!

For me, two mysteries remain:

1) Where is Solomon buried?

2) If the entry in the publication above is correct -- if Solomon Howell left TWO children -- what happened to the other one? Could the second child mentioned be an additional one belonging to Georgia Ann? or could it be the unaccounted for son of Sarah Sandlin?

Ah, something else to keep me busy for awhile I'm sure.

This is the last post on the family genealogy subject. And I thought you all might like to know that I've begun work to consolidate all the family information I have into a book. Wish me luck because I have a great deal of hard work ahead of me.




Thursday, April 3, 2014

Best Scents Under the Sun

No, this post isn't about perfume, although I do love scent in a bottle.

But I also love fragrant flowers. I mean, that's half the enjoyment of growing them, isn't it?

That doesn't mean every plant I introduce into my landscape must have a wonderful scent, but it's close to the truth.

Some plants were chosen for their form and structures -- trees and shrubbery; the bones of the garden. I also add a few non fragrant flowers for summer color or novelty.

But I'm mostly interested in flowers that smell good, really good. Here are some, in no particular order, that I consider to be winners in fragrance. 

Lily of the Valley

Daffodils
This is only one variety I have.
Oops, think I captured one of the dogs in the background!

An old-fashioned variety of daffodil - one of my favorites.

Oriental Lilies


Night Blooming Cereus
Read more here

Moonflower
Read more here

Roses
Read the story about my New Dawn Rose (pictured above) here

New Dawn cluster


Datura

Magnolia

Gardenia


Carolina Jessamine
Read more here



Winter Honeysuckle
More here

I'm sure I've left some out, but these are very fragrant plants, worthy of your time if you are interested in planting a Fragrant Garden.

What have I missed? What would you add to the above list?







Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Harbinger of Spring - Peepers

The Spring Peepers (Hyla crucifer) are hard to see, but easily heard small frogs. They are in the amphibian word what American robins are to the bird world - a harbinger of spring.


(It may take the video several seconds to load. Turn up the volume!)
The large balls of light in the darkened sky are neighbors' outside lights; the small moving lights are vehicles out on the highway.

video

I recorded the sound just as nightfall descended. Oh what a treat it is to listen to these little creatures on a coolish spring evening!

A pond full of Peepers sounds like sleigh bells jingling. The chorus begins near nightfall and reaches a crescendo as darkness falls. The sound continues for a few hours until, all at once, the sound suddenly stops -- at about 9 p.m.

Peepers have large "vocal sacs" under their chins that are pumped full of air until they look like a full balloon. The mighty "peep" happens as they discharge the air.
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They are found in wooded areas and grassy lowlands nears ponds and swamps in the central and eastern parts of Canada and the United States.


Peepers are rarely seen, being nocturnal creatures. They hide from predators during the day and emerge at night to feed on delicacies such as beetles, ants, flies and spiders.



Don't mistake their chirping for crickets, which call to each other in late summer and fall.

Nicknames for peepers are "pinkletinks," "tinkletoes," and "pink-wink."

Whatever you call them, these tiny creatures add much enjoyment to a spring evening -- if you're lucky enough to live near a wooded area or grassy lowland near a pond or swamp.

The breeding period is from February -June, when the female lays 200 to 1,200 eggs, attached to submerged aquatic vegetation. 


After the breeding season, they move into woodlands, old fields or shrubby areas(or sometimes onto the back of our house, as we have often seen them at night clinging onto the wall near the lights, waiting to catch unsuspecting flying bugs.) 

Depending on the temperatures, eggs may hatch within two to four days or may take up to two weeks during cooler periods. The newly hatched eggs become tadpoles by early July. When they become tadpoles, they breathe with gills and swim using a tail. 

Peeper tadpoles are bigger than the adult peepers. As they mature, they lose their tail, and they develop lungs for breathing air. Transformation occurs within eight weeks when the young tadpoles are fully transformed into young frogs and leave the pond.

By the end of the summer, they have reached the adult size of about 1 - 1 1/2 inches. Maturity is reached within one year. As the days cool, the peepers dig into the soft mud near ponds for the winter. During the winter, peepers go into a type of partly-frozen hibernation, and they re-emerge when the weather warms.


After they mate and lay their eggs in water and spend the remainder of the year in the forest. During winter, they hibernate under logs or behind loose bark on trees, waiting for the spring thaw and their chance to sing once more.



Many of my childhood summer days were spent catching tadpoles at the pond. I had a cousin, David, who lived to come to our house and catch tadpoles with us! It was just a child sport -- catching them in fruit jars, watching them for awhile and then released them.

Such sweet memories!

I can't wait until tomorrow night when I can once again go outside and listen for the sweet sound!
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Learn more about Spring Peppers here

Cherry Blossoms

One of my favorite times of the year is when the Yoshina Cherry Trees are in full bloom.


We have nine of these non fruit-bearing trees on the front lawn. Ornamental in nature only.

What a joy it is to be outside when they're blooming. The constant buzz of honeybees, the frosty and snow-like petals against the backdrop of clear blue skies, makes one feel that maybe there IS a spring this year after all. 




I made a video near nightfall yesterday that I so wanted to share. It captured another sound of spring - that of little peeper frogs singing in the pond. But alas, something went wrong with the sound and the video was useless. I shall try again tonight!
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