Friday, September 25, 2009

Roses and Elderflowers and Vodka, Oh My!

Well, I could write some long apology on why I've been distant lately, but hey, somebody has to pay the mortgage around here! I can't really complain too much, this current job I have is an absolute pleasure compared to my last one. It's not that my last job was bad, I loved my work, but the stress level was out of control. Now I work with these all these techie kind of guys and for me, it's way low stress. But we have a big project (which is a good thing!) and it's been sucking up my time and energy.

So when I come home after a long week, or work all day on a Sunday, I make myself a drink!! And last Sunday I found the best drink in the WHOLE WIDE WORLD. Say what you want, this is the best.

It all goes back to my childhood....(imagine the picture in front of you getting all wavy in preparation for a flashback)

No really, though, when I was probably like 11 or so, my parents took me downtown to Philadelphia to a restaurant called, "Middle East Restaurant". I couldn't make up that name. It's the small sign to the right of the furniture sign in this picture. I vaguely remember grape leaves and lamb, maybe there was a belly dancer? Or that might be memories of EPCOT. But what I do remember, for sure, no doubt, was that they got me a glass of rosewater to drink.

I've often wished for the ability to project into other people's heads the song I was thinking of because I am horrible at carrying a tune. It's the same thing with my first taste of this rosewater. If only I could make you realize how incredible it was to me! I felt like I tasted the smell of a rose. That's the only way I can describe it. It was an unforgettable sensation, probably because I had no frame of reference, no idea of what it would taste like, and I was young and fresh and unjaded. Unlike now, where I am old and cynical and very very jaded. :-)

So that was a moment in time, I tasted a rose.

Fast forward 154 years from my childhood to this past summer (you see, this is a multi-faceted and complex blog post!). I went to this restaurant in Washington DC called PS 7's. It was a great meal, I think I had some sort of fabulous risotto or something, but the highlight of the meal was an accident...for an after-dinner drink, I had a glass of Elderflower liqueur. Fantastic!! Apparently the flowers are hand-picked by French elves only when the moon is full or something equally as complicated. Once I was home, I literally ran to the liquor store and bought up bottles of the stuff. And promptly forgot about it. It's been languishing in the dark in my liquor cabinet for months.

Last Sunday after a hard day of thinking about work stuff and typing work emails and working on work spreadsheets, I thought I'd have a drink, so I poured myself a glass of the elderflower stuff. And it was good. But then I decided to search around for some mixed drink recipes for the stuff. And I came across one where the drink recipe included rosewater.


I thought to myself, why, I have rosewater! Locked up in the cupboard being saved for some special occasion! So I broke it out and mixed me up a Rose-Hip Martini as they called it. was good. It was very good. It was SO good, I had three. And would have had more, but had to go to bed at some point!

Moral of the story? Don't be afraid to try drinks with ingredients picked by gnomes in the Alps. Or something like that. And go smell some roses.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun - Genealogy Trading Cards

Okay, yes, late as usual, but only a day late. And yes, I'm supposed to be working on actual work-related documents like spreadsheets and powerpoints right now, but hey, everyone needs a break once in a while, right???

Randy's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun suggestion was creating genealogy trading cards. Some people have done a really great job! I'm not as witty (or as professional) as some, and so, here's what I came up with:

Fun's over, back to my real-job work. :-) Until I find something more interesting again...

Monday, September 7, 2009

Monday Madness - Elizabeth Obendorfer Domelle

Okay, so I've got one for Monday Madness! It's my great-grandmother on my mom's side. She's a mystery (which may be what she wanted!). :-)

Her Name: Elizabeth Obendorfer

Birthdate: 27 September(?) 1882

Birthplace: supposedly Vienna, Austria

Death Date: 14 April 1958

Death Place: Dyer, Indiana

Marriage: abt. 1912 to William Domelle, in Chicago, Illinois

And that's pretty much what I have! And I'm not even exaggerating that much, unfortunately.


Here is information my grandfather gave me about his mother:

--only child
--maid for people on first trip to America, came through Ellis Island then returned to Europe for some reason, became cook for group of priests second time around through Ellis Island
--went to Chicago
--from Austria/Hungary region
--met husband in Chicago

My grandfather also often reminisces about her wonderful cooking and baking skills. He remembers her in the process of making strudel pastry where she would have the pastry so thin it would be hanging off the kitchen table.

He also says she was a quiet person, not prone to talking much about herself. He remembers his father called her "Lissie" or "Lissy". She also stated that her father was a military man, my grandfather says General; and also that at some point she was so poor over in Europe that she had to resort to eating grass. He states also that she came alone through Ellis Island both times.

So what facts do I have?

I have her in the 1920 and 1930 federal censuses. census'. censi. Someone please tell me the plural of census!

She's in Thayer Village, Lincoln Township, Newton County, Indiana on 09 April 1930, living with her husband and children, next-door to her brother- and sister-in-law.

She states her age is 48 (therefore, born about 1882). She also states that she was 30 yrs old at her first marriage (therefore, married about 1912). She states she and her parents were all born in Austria, and she speaks german. She also states she immigrated in 1912 and still has Alien status.

As for the 1920 census, she was still in the same area, Lincoln Township, Newton County, Indiana. It was the 29th of June, 1920 and she was then living with her husband and children as well.
She states her age as 38, which is consistent, but this time she states that her year of immigration was 1906. She again states her parent's birthplace as being Austria, but this time hers is Hungary. However, this time, the census taker felt the need to note "Magyar of" above each notation, so she was a "Magyar of Hungary", her parents were "Magyar of Austria" (her husband was noted that way too). The definition of "Magyar" is basically "Hungarian", so it's a little repetitive to note that someone was a Hungarian of Hungary, but there was a lot of war and changing borders going on in that region in the early part of the 20th century.

As for her maiden name on certificates, on her children's birth certificates it's listed variously as:
--Lizzie Obendorf
--Lizzie Odendorffer
--Elizabeth Oundoffer
--Lizzie Obendorfer

On her husband's death certificate, it's listed as Elizabeth Obendorfer.

She never got a social security number.

I only recently found her exact death date in: "Jasper County, Indiana Funeral Home Records of Rensselaer & Surrounding Area Nov. 1917 to 15 May 1990", 1994, pg 129. The info is:

Domelle, Elizabeth
- b Nov 29 1877 Vienna Austria

- d Apr 14 1958 Dyer IN

- sp Wm

So I don't have a death certificate for her yet. I noticed her birth year was different, which would have made her older than her husband. Did she just give out the same year as his birth year rather than let people know she was older?

As for the Ellis Island records? I haven't been able to narrow her down yet. There's too many variations of Obendorf/er and Lizzie/Lissie/Lissy/Elizabeth/Erzebet/Lizabet.

And so, that's it!

Elizabeth Obendorfer
--born between 1877-1882, maybe Sept. 27 or Nov. 29
--came over through Ellis Island, 1906 and 1912
--born in Austria, parents born in Austria, but of Hungarian heritage
--died April 14, 1958

I have no idea who her parents were, who any siblings were, why she came to America, did she leave behind any children in Europe, after all, she was 30 when she married my great-grandfather and he had an ex-wife and children in Europe, she it's a possiblity.

This is the only picture I have, it's a scan of a photo of a photo, so is not very good.

She's my mysterious Great-Grandmother!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Visit to Tioga County NY Historical Society

A few saturdays ago I hopped in the car and made the about 4 hour drive up to the Tioga County Historical Society in New York.

I was hoping that by going there I'd make some momentous finds that would help with my DAR application. Yes, I am an optimist, it's a disease and as much as I try to shake it, it sneaks up on me all the time. One of my main family lines is "MIX" and I have tons of info on them when they lived in Connecticut. My direct ancestor (Thomas Mix) eventually moved on to Vermont, where one of h is sons (Collins Mix) met his wife (Leafe Ide).

I've pondered much on the name "Leafe". It turns up several other times in my family tree, for the Ides, and then some Mix's, it was a name for girls. In some records it's "Lefie" or "Leaffee". The only thing I can come up with is that it's a surname. It was pretty common at different points in history to name children with the wife's surname as their first name.

Back to my story....So Collins and Leafe moved from Vermont to New York. I believe they paused in Sarasota, NY for a bit, but they settled in Tioga County, which is right down near the border of Pennsylvania in the Finger Lakes Region. Very beautiful country. Lots of Mix's moved over the border into PA and eventually one of them became Tom Mix, the silent movie star. Cousin Tom (4th cousin 3 times removed) is my tenuous link to Deadwood (I miss the HBO series A LOT) because he rode in a parade for Teddy Roosevelt that was led by none other than Seth Bullock. (I told you it was tenuous.)

But as for my New York Mix's? They are a hard to find bunch. They turn up in the federal census's (censi?) and that's pretty much IT! Where are they? What were they doing? Avoiding becoming part of any record? Yep, that's what they were doing! I'm starting to think they were shady! :-D

So I was hoping to find more info at the Tioga County Historical Society. It's a lovely old building right on the river in Owego, next to some big old homes (very genteel). Sadly though, the records are maintained using decades old technology. As in, index cards. Major bummer. The volunteers were EXTREMELY helpful and kind, I don't want to sound like I am knocking the place, but wow, it did show me how spoiled I am with electronic research! So even though I spent 8 hours straight there, I didn't really come up with much on my folks. It was like researching in the old days. I did find lots on an uncle, Miles Curtis Mix, oh sure, tons of records on him, he was all over the place. My guys? Not so much.

One cool thing I did find was on Collins Mix. He had a son, Jonathan Collins Mix. In the 1850 federal census, poor old Collins is living in the Poorhouse in Owego, NY. I couldn't figure out why he was there when his son Jonathan (my ancestor), was one town over in Candor. And his other son Squire (don't ask, but yes, his first name was Squire), was one county over in the town of Caroline. (He had a daughter too, but she's still a bit of a mystery.)

First I found (an index card) that listed something transcribed from the "Tioga County Keeper's Book". It stated:

Mix, Collins
D. 17 Jan. 1852 ae 73 at the Poor House
12 Nov. 1850 admitted ae 72, intemperate
Residence Tioga County

So there I had it, he was intemperate, which I suppose was a gentle term for what could have been many things. He could have been an old alcoholic, he could have had dementia or alzheimer's and was violent; the list goes on.

With that info, I was able to look at the microfilm of the local newspaper, "The Owego Gazette" and found this from the 15 January 1853 edition (it was published weekly):

Mortality at the Poor House
Names of persons who have died at the Poor House during the year ending on the 1st Day of Dec. 1852 (Furnished by Col. Daniel Bacon, Keeper).
Collins Mix, formerly of Candor, Jan 17th, 1852, 73

Unfortunately the microfilm reader was barely working, so no copies could be made from it, so I had to just manually transcribe it. I was glad to find at least this tidbit of info on my direct line, and I have a bunch of other notes on other members of the family (especially Uncle Miles, he's Everywhere!).

One other cool thing that was happening at the Historical Society was they had an exhibition in the museum part of the building on jewelery, clothing, mementos associated with death and mourning. It was a really impressive exhibit for such a little Historical Society! If you are nearby Tioga County NY at all I would recommend checking it out.

So I'll just have to keep digging on my Mix family in New York!!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Lament for the Movie Credit

Poor Movie Credit. Nobody loves you anymore. You are the first thing to get cut when a movie is shown on tv, or smooshed to the bottom of the screen while the channel runs promos for shows they were busy showing promos for on the bottom of the screen while the movie was actually being played. I learned that these bottom-of-screen promos that play during a show are called "snipes". No, really, do a search on 'tv ad snipes'.

Note to TV channels advertising departments: I actually find the stuff you run on the bottom of the screen during tv shows and movies REALLY ANNOYING. I'm trying to watch a show, and 1/3 of the screen is obliterated by people jumping around or trucks driving or whatever as you try to squeeze ever more self-promotion time out of every minute of every day.

If anything, I think we're all pretty hyper-aware of all the crap happening on tv. You don't need to remind me to watch a show while I'm already watching one of your shows. Some smart channel out there will stop doing all that and advertise the fact that the viewer can watch shows in peace.

And back to the movie credit...

I guess I am the only person out there that enjoys watching these? I kind of like seeing where the movie was filmed, what songs were used, who the minor players were. Am I it? Am I the last one standing who cares about this? And if it was an especially good movie, I enjoy hearing what kinds of song or songs they play over the credits, and some movies even throw in a little extra quick scene at the end, or amusing credits (a la AIRPLANE!).

Last night I went to see Inglourious Basterds. Yes, I liked it. I like Tarantino movies generally. Sometimes I think he goes a little long with his dialog, but hey, that's him, and it's his movie and he always makes up for it by presenting you with some awesome scene following all that dialog. Basterds was long, but I really enjoyed everyone in this movie, I wanted to see more of the characters. The guy who played the main bad guy (actor Christoph Waltz) was AWESOME and he should definitely win oscars or emmys or moviemen or whatever, just some sort of prize. He made the movie. I'd definitely watch it again.

So there I was, I had invested hours into watching this movie, and the credits started. I was enjoying the interesting song Quentin had chosen for the credits and was looking at all the actors (there were a LOT of people in the movie, some briefly), and they turned the lights on!

Sadness. Bummer. Poo.

I would have thought the one place left where I could actually sit and watch movie credits in peace would have been the movie theater where a ticket was PAID for, but no, I guess this is gone now too.

So tell me, am I the only one? Should I get over this? Why do they even bother to create credits anymore then, there should just be a link to a website for the dorks like me that want to find out something about the movie?