The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August

The First Fifteen Lives of Harry AugustThe First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This novel is hard to categorize. Not exactly SciFi, regardless of the title and the basic premise. The author proposes that there are many people, throughout the world, who live their lives over and over. These extraordinary people belong to a “Cronus Club”, members seek each other out, provide houses of sanctuary, and help five-year-old’s get away from their parents, so that the 700 year old inside the child’s body doesn’t have to repeat the boredom and tedium of elementary school.

Harry August is always born early in the 20th Century, growing up in time to be the right age to fight in World War II. Harry, and others like him, are careful not to make any big changes in the world around them, but he is free to change his personal life each time. Fight in the war, or not? Marry or stay single. Marry this one or that one? Become a lawyer, doctor, teacher, spy. . .whatever he wants to do, knowing he can have the other choice in his next life, or the life after that.

In Harry’s eleventh life he becomes aware that someone in the Cronus Club is deliberately trying to influence the flow of world events and as a result, the world may end for everyone. He sets out to find this person and stop the dangerous meddling.

So is it a mystery? A literary novel? Or excellent Science Fiction? Whatever, The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August is a Good Read and rates a big 5 Stars from me.

View all my reviews


police-news_2068686bDon’t you love to read old newspapers? I do! Those who know me well might say I’ve made a career out of old newspapers. My book, Fulton, Missouri 1820-1920 is filled with transcribed newspaper articles illustrated by photographs from the Kingdom of Callaway Historical Society collection. I spent many hours reading microfilm while writing that book, that’s why I’m excited about all the historical newspapers we can now find online.

There are literally thousands of pages of free online newspapers from all over the world, including every state in the United States, if you know where to look. Best of all, many of these are searchable!

One of the best lists I’ve found is the Wikipedia List of online newspaper archives. Here you will find online newspaper archives listed alphabetically from Algiers to Venezuela.  A few of the European newspapers date back to the 1700′s. Here in the United States you will find many from the mid to late 1800′s.

A private research group, Xooxle Answers, has compiled a list of excellent free historical resources for vintage newspaper articles in the United States. They cover a broad swath of U.S. history — from the 18th to the 21st century –and cover state, city, town, county, and regional newspapers. Headlines, articles, photos, display ads, classifieds…they’re all there for the taking.


N is for Newspapers. We are halfway through the April A-Z Blogging Challenge. 




Missouri State Genealogical Association

MoSGA Web Site

MoSGA Web Site

M is for MoSGA, the Missouri State Genealogical Association, an organization dedicated to enhancing the knowledge of its members and the public in the study of family history, genealogical records and the principles of sound genealogical research.

MoSGA publishes The Journal,  a quarterly publication featuring transcriptions of Missouri records including county, church, Bible, and cemetery records to name a few. It also features historical and educational articles contributed by experts in the field. The Journal is online and can be searched by surname or topic.

The MoSGA Messenger, edited by Tom Pearson, is the Official Weblog of the Missouri State Genealogical Association. The Messenger is rich with links and news about changes in archives and online sources.

National speakers are on hand every year in August at the MoSGA Annual Conference.

I’m proud to say I’ve served on the MoSGA board, as webmaster, conference registration chair, and public relations director at various times.

You don’t have to live in Missouri to find useful information on the MoSGA web site.  We are in the center.

Last Chance

Mattie and Riley Roger - 1956

Mattie and Riley Rogers – 1956

Marketers use the term last chance to motivate procrastinators to get moving. They warn us it’s our last chance to buy whatever it is they are selling. We are bombarded with the phrase in online ads, TV commercials, and by reams of junk mail. We’ve had that warning screamed at us so often, most of us don’t even hear it anymore.

But what if you knew it was your last chance to hug your mother, to tell her you love her and appreciate all she’s done?  You would find time for that, wouldn’t you? No matter how busy your day might be.

What if you knew it was the last chance you would ever have to listen to your grandfather’s stories? Your last chance to learn what his fife was like?

Trouble is, no one warns us when that last chance is approaching.  It sneaks up on us, and leaves us forever after, saying “if only I had known.”

Have you missed an important last chance? Or is there a day in your life you remember because you did take the time to be with a loved one, and it turned out that was your last chance?


L is for Last Chance.  Making it to the middle of the A-Z Blogging Challenge.



bonnie gary tommy

Some of my favorite kin – from left: cousins Gary, Bonnie, and Tommy Rogers.

KIN means almost the same thing as family. The difference is you always know who is FAMILY, but sometimes you have to be introduced to KIN.  Like when you’re a tired child standing in the sun at a cemetery and your mother insists on introducing you to everybody: “This is cousin Jane, she’s my third cousin on your grandpa’s side. That little redheaded girl you played with at the reunion last year was her granddaughter, remember?” 

It may be years before you see Jane again, but when you do, you’ll know she’s KIN, although you won’t remember exactly how. Thirty or forty years down the road, when you begin to research your family history, you’ll come across Jane’s name and for the first time, you’ll try to get better acquainted.

Family Historians, and Genealogists are always looking for more KIN, because we all hope that distant cousin knows the fact that will help us add a generation to our family tree. Or cousin Jane may have photos of your great grandparents and other family members. And best of all, cousin Jane may know family stories.That’s what it’s all about, collecting and sharing family stories.

The Internet helps us connect and communicate with distant kin.  There are many family pages on Facebook, for instance. I check two of mine frequently: The Kemp-Rogers Reunion site is for all descendants of Riley & Mattie Rogers and/or Dora & Henry Kemp. The other page I use is Daniel & Hugh Paul Descendants .

You can find out if any of your family lines have a Facebook page by simply typing the surname into the search box at the top of your home page. You may have to play around with it for a while. Try adding “family” to the surname, or “descendants” or “ancestors” or even “cousins.”

Another free site to help you find kin is WikiTree.  FamilySearch can help you find cousins through their family tree search.  There are many others.

 After you find new kin, use this  Cousin Finder chart from Carolyn Leonard to help you figure out exactly how you are related.

K is for KIN. Writing my way through the April A-Z Blogging Challenge.


John Henry Paul

The life of John Henry Paul reminds me of a song they used to sing on the TV show Hee-Haw: “If it weren’t for bad luck, he’d have no luck at all. . “

John Henry was born October 23, 1868 in Madison County, Illinois. His father died when he was only four years old, and he lost his mother shortly after his ninth birthday. He and his three young sisters were orphans. The girls were taken in by an uncle and aunt and raised as part of their family. But John Henry, at the age of nine, was given to a farmer, where he began immediately to work to earn his keep.

cattledrive1John Henry worked hard and grew up to own his own small farm in Madison County, Illinois. He was ambitious and dreamed of having a big cattle ranch someday. In 1899 he bought a tract of land near Lexington, Missouri, and drove his cattle herd 208 miles to start a new life there. He brought along his wife, four children under the age of six, plus all his household goods and tools. John Henry put every penny he had into that big move.

At first, everything seemed to be going well. His wife gave birth to four more daughters and the size of his cattle herd increased every year. He was on good terms with his neighbors and thought he was settled for life. Then one of his neighbors brought home some new cattle from a sale. Those new cattle were infected with Brucellosis, and the devastating disease spread to John Henry’s herd. There was no cure. No vaccine. John Henry had to shoot each one of his prized cows and burn or bury the bodies.

He lost everything, but did not give up.  In 1912 John Henry borrowed money and bought a smaller farm about 100 miles east of Lexington in Callaway County, in the Toledo neighborhood.  It was hard to build back up from nothing, especially since he was getting a little older and slower, but he did it.  All of his nine children were grown when the depression hit Missouri in 1930 and took another farm away from John Henry Paul.

He couldn’t to buy another farm, but he rented the Horner place near Mokane, Missouri and took all his stock and tools to begin once again.  His wife died in 1931 and he continued on alone, taking care of his few animals, planting a little corn, raising a garden.  One morning in the late fall of 1935 he found that he was unable to get up out of his chair.  He sat all day, listening to his cows bawling to be milked. No matter how hard he tried, he just couldn’t get up out of that chair.

When his son came by to check on him, John Henry’s first concern was for his animals. But his son, Jimmy,  was more worried about his father. Once Jimmy helped him to his feet, the 68 year-old could get around, although he staggered and grabbed on to furniture to keep from falling.  John Henry said he just needed help for a couple of days and then he would be fine.

His children ignored his pleas, called an auctioneer and sold everything John Henry owned: animals, furniture, even his precious  tools brought all the way from Illinois. The auctioneer gave John Henry the proceeds of the the sale in cash and he stuffed the money into the pockets of his old barn coat.  His children had decided he would go to live with Jimmy’s family in Mokane.  On the way there, John Henry asked to stop at a Mokane store. It was a busy Saturday and lots of people were on the streets doing their Saturday shopping. John Henry staggered up and down the street, greeting people he knew and some he didn’t.  He reached into his pocket and pulled out dollars by the handful and gave it away to every man, woman, and child he met that afternoon.

John Henry Paul died a few months later on February 11, 1936.

He was my grandfather.

J is for John Henry Paul – working my way through the April A-Z Blogging Challenge.



Was Your Ancestor an Indentured Servant?

AdvertisementHonest, hard working poor people do not leave many records of themselves as they move through life. Well-to-do folks leave records of property bought and sold, taxes paid, court disputes, wills probated, and are even occasionally mentioned in early newspaper articles. Dishonest people can be found in newspaper articles and court disputes, as well. But if your ancestor happened to be hard working, honest, and poor, the records he left behind as he moved through life may be sparse, or non-existent.

That’s why it might be a very good thing to find an indentured servant on your family tree. Indentured servants had contracts. Indentured servants left records. If any of your people were from Virginia, there is a very good chance that one of them began their life in this country as one of the 120,000 indentured servants who came to Virginia and Maryland in the seventeenth century.

Most were young (15-24), male (six men to every woman in 1635; three men to every woman at the close of the century), and single. Mostly they came from the same regions of England: London, the Southeast, and counties extending from the Thames Valley to the West country. Common laborers, skilled artisans, husbandmen, yeomen, and even an occasional gentleman formed the occupational ranks of servants. In other words, they came from a broad spectrum of working men and women, from the ranks of the destitute and homeless through the lower-middle classes and sometimes beyond. They were ordinary people who wanted a new start in the new country, but couldn’t pay for the cost of the voyage. So they signed an Indenture contract, promising to work for a year, or for as much as five years, to pay for their passage. Many responded to ads such as this one.Indentured servant ad

The Bristol registration, a remarkable official record of the emigrant’s name, length of indenture, occupation, sex, place of origin and destination, owner’s name, and name of ship—provides information on the largest single group. Virtual Jamestown offers a free search of these records.

Indentured Servants Search

I is for Indenture.  Working my way through the A – Z Challenge!

Charles Horner and His Horrible Train Journey

Horner family 600dpiCharles Horner took his wife, Molly Owens, to California shortly after their marriage in 1880. The move was made to please her. She was born in California during the gold rush and always wanted to return there. Unfortunately, like so many other women, Molly died in childbirth. Suddenly, Charles was alone and trying to take care of a two-year daughter, Mattie, and a newborn son, Frederick.

Immediately after burying his wife, Charles and his babies boarded a train to take the long trip back to Missouri and the one person Charles needed most, his mother. Since he had a baby in each hand, Charles wasn’t able to carry much luggage, just one hastily packed bag of his own clothes. Obviously, Charles was not a “hands-on” daddy, he did not pack any diapers. None. Both babies were in diapers. Both babies were hungry.

A woman traveling by train with her own children took pity on him.  She loaned him diapers from her supply and even nursed little Freddie for him. This Angel of Mercy was only traveling a short way. When she got off the train she left Charles a few diapers and showed him how to feed the baby by letting him suck on a twisted cloth dipped in cow’s milk. That feeding method didn’t agree with Freddie. He was colicky, cried all the time, and it seemed Charles needed to change his diapers every ten minutes. He didn’t know what to do with the smelly diapers, so he threw them out the window of the train. Before long he was out of diapers.

While Charles struggled with Freddie, adventurous two-year-old Mattie kept getting away from him, running down to the end of the car to play with other children. When a young mother brought her back and saw Charles’ dilemma, he had his second angel of mercy, who provided more borrowed diapers and help with feeding the children. In this way, Charles made his way from one stop to the next, one helpful woman to the next, until he finally made it back to the depot in Mokane, Missouri, and the welcoming arms of his mother, Fannie Horner.

Several years later, Charles remarried. This picture is Charles with his second wife, Louise, and their little girl, Leona.  Mattie and Freddie are standing behind them. Mattie Horner was my maternal grandmother.

H is for Horner. Working my way through the April A-Z Blogging Challenge.



What is a GEDCOM?

gedcomOne of the biggest advantages to using the Internet for genealogy research is the ability it provides to exchange information with other researchers. The most common method used for this information exchange is the GEDCOM, an acronym for GEnealogical Data COMmunication. GEDCOM is a method of formatting your family tree data into a text file which can be easily read and converted by any genealogy software program.

Thus, if you are using one genealogy software program, such as Family Tree Maker and your cousin is using The Master Genealogist, you can exchange research easily by emailing gedcoms.

The GEDCOM specification was originally developed in 1985 and is owned and managed by the Family History Department of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  A GEDCOM specification uses a set of TAGS to describe the information in your family file, such as INDI for individual, FAM for family, BIRT for birth and DATE for a date. Don’t try to open and read the file with a word processor. Theoretically, this can be done, but it is a very tedious task. GEDCOMS are best suited for opening with a family tree software program or a special GEDCOM viewer.

GEDView is a portable viewer for GEDCOM files. Save your GEDCOM to a USB drive with this utility and you’ll never be without access to your research. Provides name listing, individual screen, and pop up pedigree, descendant, Mitochondrial DNA, and Y Chromosome views.



familysearchYou can access a wealth of FREE genealogical records online at FamilySearch, the genealogy arm of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

One of the best resources at FamilySearch is the indexes and document images available through their Historical Records Collection, which includes more than 3.5 billion names in 1,400+ collections from countries all over the world, including the United States, Canada, Mexico, England, Germany, France, Argentina, Brazil, Russia, Hungary, the Philippines and many more.  These are official records from governments and churches, including census records, marriage, birth, christenings, military, pension applications, death certificates, probate, land, etc.

Another fabulous resource FamilySearch provides is Family History Books, a collection of more than 100,000 digitized genealogy and family history publications from the archives of some of the most important family history libraries in the world. The collection includes family histories, county and local histories, genealogy magazines and how-to books, gazetteers, and medieval histories and pedigrees.

F is for FamilySearch – starting week two of the April A-Z Blogging Challenge.

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