Saturday, February 27, 2016

Census Records are the Best!

It's been a LONG time since I've written a blog post...but since I gave a large group of people the address to this blog, I thought I should update it! Today I had the opportunity to present at our local Family History Discovery Day.  It was so much fun to be with so many people who love family history as much as I do!  It's fun to pull out some of my craziest family history stories and know that other people will value the work that was put into finding them. :)

Today's classes were on African American genealogy research and taking an in-depth look at US Census records.  Census records are my favorite!  On just one page, you can recreate a pretty clear picture of what someone's family would have been like at a moment in history.  For example:

From this 1920 census, you get a picture of a young family, with a hardworking father (Emmett) and a mother at home with a toddler.  You see that they are making ends meet enough to be in the process of owning their home (they have a mortgage), and they seem to live a pretty simple life.  Now, when you look ten years down the line... find that it has all fallen apart!  Emmett is in the Lima Hospital for the Criminally Insane!  How did he get there?!

We can find clues to that when we look further back  in the census records as well.  In 1910, Emmett is in the US Coast Artillery Corps, just prior to World War I. By using these census records as starting points, we can find more information on Emmett's military records and legal records. His military pension application shows that he came out of the war with enough injury to be called an "Invalid," and other legal documents use the technical term, "Lunatic." From what we know now, he likely had PTSD, and that affected him and his family enough that he was eventually institutionalized, and committed (or attempted to commit) crimes that landed him in the Lima State Hospital.  All of that information, mostly from a few census records.

I think everyone has some crazy stories in their families that can be confirmed with records.  Some of them are funny, and some of them are emotionally difficult to accept.  But these are our families, and it can also give us a context for who we are and why our families are the way they are.  So here's to census records, keeping it real since 1790. :)

Before and After, Part 5: The Living Room

The Living Room
The living room didn't need as much work as the rest of the house.  Mostly I just wanted to finally have my family history wall!  My grandmother had one in her house, and from the time I was very little, I admired it so much.

So I finally got around to putting up pictures of family.  It feels good to have it up as a reminder of some of the people who are most important to us, including my grandma.

Before and After, Part 4: The Master Bedroom

The Master Bedroom
So while this was being transformed, Jon and I moved into the guest room so I could work on the master bedroom.  Looked pretty straightforward - pull down the mirrors, strip off the wallpaper:

But this room happened to have textured wallpaper that had been painted over twice!  And the walls hadn't been primed before putting up the wallpaper, so yeah...

This stuff is not coming off the walls.  AND there are patches of mold.  So we closed the door on our bedroom and have been sleeping in the guest room for 2 months.  Hopefully this will get finished in the next month, before we have family coming to visit!

We ended up having to rip all the walls out of the room to get rid of the mold.  We had new drywall put up, and then I painted.  It is much better.

Before and After, Part 3: The Dining Room

(I am just now posting this series of posts from almost 5 years ago!  But better late than never!)

The Dining Room
This room needed to be done, because we use it all the time.  I am not a fan of mirrors but the people who lived here before us loved mirrors - they were in the dining room, the master bedroom, the backs of all the doors, BOTH all these mirrors had to come down.

All of those spots on the wall are places where the mirrors were attached and took chunks out of the drywall. So I sealed them with a drywall sealer, then went over them with joint compound.  I had to sand each one and wipe down the walls, then sealed the entire wall with drywall sealer.  I primed it and started the painting process.  It took several coats of paint to make the wall look uniform, because the sanded spots were smoother.  But it turned out.

Yes, I am proud of that wall.  (And I cut those mirror panels from the wall mirror in the bathroom that we just had re-done.  Proud of that, too.)

Before and After, Part 2: Bathrooms

(I am just now posting this series of posts from almost 5 years ago!  But better late than never!)

The Master Bath

We agreed on re-doing this bathroom before we bought the house.  The grout in the shower had deteriorated completely, the faucet handle was falling off, and it sort of reminded me of my middle school gym locker room.  Once the contractor pulled off this layer of tile, he discovered ANOTHER layer of tile (the people who had the house before us must have loved layering!), behind which were rotted out support beams from hurricane damage that was never repaired.  But it all turned out in the end:


The Downstairs Half-Bath
We weren't going to do anything with this room for a while.  We just kept going upstairs when we had to use the bathroom.  But then I kind of had a bike accident and tore my ACL and needed to have surgery and not go up the stairs for a few weeks.  So this bathroom had to be remodeled, and fast.
You can't see all the damage, but the cabinet is completely rotted out underneath.  The toilet had leaked so much that the bolts rusted out and it couldn't even be attached to the floor anymore.  It was a mess.  So we found some contractors who could get it done quickly.
They gutted out the room and put in a new subfloor in one day.  They came back and tiled the floor in the evening, and the next morning I put two coats of paint on the walls.  In the afternoon they came back and installed the cabinet, toilet, and mirror.
So that is where I crutch to and from now as I'm recovering from my surgery.  Perhaps I just needed to sit down for a while.  Because I don't think I'll be ready to pick up another paintbrush for a LONG time.

Before and After, Part 1: Bedrooms

(I am just now posting this series of posts from almost 5 years ago!  But better late than never!)

We moved into our home almost four months ago!  We have been working (and working, and working...) to fix things and make it into a home that reflects us.  The only reason I have the time to blog about it now is that, in the middle of repairs and renovations, I had a bike accident and had to have knee surgery.  So now I have time to post the "Before and After" series of what we've done so far.

The Guest Room
We started with the guest room.  I thought it would be easy - throw on a new coat of paint, put in the furniture, and finito!  But, alas, it was not so.

I went in ready to paint, but there was a lot of prep work to do.  If you look closely at the right corner of the first picture, you will see wood two-by-fours attached to the wall.  I pried those off, and that's when I realized that the wall was covered in wallpaper that had been painted.  That made it into a much bigger project.  After stripping the first layer of wallpaper (with the help of my friend's daughter, Vanessa), we discovered ANOTHER layer of painted wallpaper!  We stripped that layer, and found some sort of chipping primer underneath.  It turned out that most of the room had to be skim-coated with joint compound, then sanded and wiped down, before priming or painting.

After three weeks of work, the room was finally ready for furniture.

I'm so glad I mostly finished this room, because we eventually had to move into it when I started on our master bedroom.  But that's a completely different disaste- I mean, story.

The Second Bedroom
I still wanted to keep working after turning my bedroom into a disaster area (that story will come in a later installment).  So I worked on the most straightforward room in the house:

No wallpaper, no mold, no fuss.  It was such a bright color of green that it would have been better if I had put on two coats of primer first, but it still worked out.  I just ended up putting on two thick coats of paint, which I probably would have had to do anyway.

I also primed, painted, and caulked the floor boards.  It ended up turning out pretty nice.  This room will be a baby room (I guess we probably need a baby for that...), and I picked this color because it coordinates well with colors for both a boy or girl.