Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Dan's Navy Journal is complete, and the living family tree is up

This month's update is a little late in coming, thanks mainly to the Web site design program, SiteSpinner, which continually got hung up while uploading the site to the Web host.  Once it did load, I noticed that it hadn't loaded all the new pictures I had posted, so it was back to the drawing board.  I'm now on a first-name basis with all the techies iHost in Seattle, but once again they pulled me through.  In the wee hours of Tuesday morning, the completed version finally loaded successfully.

The main benchmark this month was the living family tree, which basically combines the layout of the descendants' charts with the Photos pages of the various family members.  Now you can go to, say, Frances Holsenbeck Gillham's decendants chart, click on the relative of your choice and be led to their Photos page.  In the other direction (i.e., back in history), I have also enlivened the ancestors' charts with some photos that I have been collecting.

In the ongoing development of the Stories pages, this month we reached a milestone in completely Dan Holsenbeck's Navy Journal, which started as a 100-page scrapbook that Dan had created about his time in the U.S. Navy before and during World War II.  I put out the first section last month, and this month the entire story, along with scans of Dan's own photos and memorabilia, in on the site.

The most fascinating part of the Navy journal is Dan's day-by-day account of the Atlantic Charter Treaty Summit between President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Prime Minister Winston Churchill in August 1941.  The story unfolds like a good mystery, since at first no one on board the USS Augusta was aware of any such summit, until the ship was summoned from its port in Rhode Island to a Navy yard on Long Island, NY.  Then it became apparent that they would be taking on the president of the United States, who would travel to his famed retreat in Campobello to do a little fishing.  At that point rumors began swirling in England that the Prime Minister was nowhere to be found, and that he was last seen aboard the British Naval ship HMS Prince of Wales.  The craftily concealed summit finally did take place on August 9 of the coast of Newfoundland, and Dan does an admirable job of giving us an account of his involvement in the proceedings, as well as his thoughts and impressions.

The thing that struck me the most of Dan's journal was his ability to sense the gravity and historical nature of the summit, and to realize as it was happening how important this meeting would be to the fate of world.  He was not a historian or political scientist, but rather, as he pointed out several times, just a boy from Georgia who was now thrust onto the world stage.  To most of his fellow sailors, this detour up to Newfoundland was nothing more than an annoyance, but to Dan, it was a life-changing event.

I have been in touch with Mary Air, who is the niece of Elizabeth "Libba" Paulin, who in turn is a niece of Pop's through Aunt Grace.  She lives in Houston, TX, and has been doing a lot of research on Pop's family lineage.  She sent me a wonderful letter outlining the histories of some of Pop's great grandparents that included dates and info that I had not been able to find at ancestry.com or in our own family histories.  She also sent along some photocopies of family photos, which includes the only photo that I have ever seen of Pop's father, Daniel Marshall Holsenbeck.  I have put these photos up on the ancestors charts, which you can find by clicking Pop's picture on the People page.

This month, my mother came across a treasure trove of photos that were squirreled away in a filing cabinet.  They include some great photos of Effie Tucker and her father, William Augustus Tucker, which, to my knowledge, are the only existing photos of him.  We also found a photo of Libba's wedding, which included Pop, Mother Cile, Uncle Gartrell (Pop's brother) and Uncle Ozzie (Pop's uncle).

This month is travel month, and, due to budgetary constraints, we may have to split the originally planned trip into two.  This month we will be traveling to Port Tobacco, MD, the entry point for several family members;  the Montague memorial in Virginia, which was near the entry point of the Montague clan in WTG's family;  the grave of Thomas Gillham in South Carolina, the first of the Gillhams in the United States, who left Ireland around 1730.  We will also visit Atlanta and West Point, GA.  The next trip will hopefully include Memphis and St. Louis.

As always, I am looking for any photos, letters and stories you may have.  Katherine Caldwell has submitted a nice piece about Frances, which is now on the Web site, and I have added a few stories, as well.