Week 1: Did your family have any New Year’s traditions? How was the New Year celebrated during your childhood? Have you kept these traditions in the present day?!

When I was a kid, we didn’t normally have a huge bash at New Year’s Eve like some people did.

Most of our family members lived within 2 hours of us, but not in the same town.  Besides, we had seen all of them at Christmas, so we usually rang in the new year with just us (my parents and 3 siblings). New Year’s was normally spent at home with football and food  – lots of chips and dip.

We would of course stay up until midnight and watch the ball drop on TV.   Not very exciting, but as a kid we always thought staying up that late was so cool.

As I got to be a teenager, I generally spent New Year’s with friends who lived nearby. We always made sure we were spending the night somewhere, because really – who wants to be on the road on New Year’s Eve with a bunch of crazy drivers?

Now that I’m married and have a family of my own, we can make our own traditions.  The kids like to drink sparkling cider from wine glasses at midnight – even though I have a feeling that they don’t really like the cider, they just like drinking out of grown-up glasses. :)

You would have thought that we would have at least had a huge celebration to ring in 2000, but we didn’t.  We were living in San Antonio at the time and had a 6 month-old baby.  We stayed at home and fell asleep soon after midnight. We’re boring, I know.

This year, we spent New Year’s Eve at Sea World in Orlando.  Definitely one that we will all remember.:)

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This Thursday, I want to express my gratitude to Darwin Edward Thornton (1920-2002).  He was my first cousin, twice removed – twice.  His mother was my great-grandmother’s sister.  His father was my great-grandfather’s brother.  Robertson sisters married Thornton brothers and made the family doubly related.:)

I never met Darwin – actually I never even spoke to him or his family.  I was given a copy of a copy of a copy of his genealogy research by my aunt though, and I am very thankful for that.  He did a ton of great research in the years before Ancestry.com and online databases.  Not only did he do a lot of research, but he also put it into a narrative format which makes it so easy and enjoyable to read.  I was very excited to receive the copy of his work early on in my family history quest.  Even though I can find most of the names and dates on my own now online,  what is invaluable in his work is the stories.  It’s not just names and dates, but memories and pictures.

So, if Darwin’s family is out there in Internet-land and finds this, I just want them to know that his work is appreciated!  It has inspired me to do the same sort of writing for other lines of my family.  I hope that some day I am able to write my own family history books for my descendants to read.:)

  • Cheryl Cayemberg - January 6, 2011 - 9:49 am

    If anyone can, you can!ReplyCancel

  • Taige Thornton - May 19, 2013 - 4:20 pm

    I do not know how to respond on Facebook – so I am back at your site to thank you for your kind words about Darwin providing you with the incentive to write about your family history. If he has Facebook in heaven, I am sure he is smiling!

    I hope all is well with your family.

    Thank you,


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Aren’t these little guys adorable?

I “found” these when I scanned in some old negatives.  I had no idea who they were.  I passed them on to my mom, who passed them on to her older sister and she was thankfully able to identify them as their cousins – children of my grandpa’s sister Lou.

He has a mini me!  These two pictures are actually the same pic, I just couldn’t scan it all in at once.  And yes, I know that I AGAIN scanned it backwards.

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My grandfather, Donald Sanchez, served in the Coast Guard during WWII. His exact service dates are unknown to me. I have asked my mom, as a next of kin, to order his military records. I am hoping that they provide with some more details.

I do know that he served on the cutter “FIR” (WLM-212), which was based out of Seattle, WA. I found a wonderful publication about the history of this ship, including some great pictures. It answered many of my questions about what his duties may have been.

I had a comment on one of my previous Coast Guard-related posts from Dick Levesque, and that led me to his wonderful website, Coast Guard Pics.   He is a retired Coast Guardsman who created his site for anyone interested in pictures related to the Coast Guard.  What a great idea!  I sent him the pictures I have to add to his site.  Do you have any Coast Guard pictures in your collection?

The following picture was in my stack of those unidentified. With a little googling, I found out what it is. It is the Tillamook Rock Lighthouse, off the coast of Oregon. It was on a very cool website called Lighthouse Friends, where you can search for lighthouses by map.  It only took me a couple of minutes to find what I was looking for!

It is no longer a working lighthouse. I saw a picture with the waves way over the top of the building, so I can see why it was abandoned.  I read that “storms often brought flying rock and debris crashing through the lantern room and iron roof.  The fog signal would clog with pieces of seaweed or rock”. The repairs were just too much. Someone actually bought it and is trying to sell space to put your loved one’s urn in. Hmm.

Can you imagine being THAT isolated though?  I don’t see anywhere to walk around, do you?  In the article I read, it mentioned the lighthouse keepers not getting along with one another after being cooped up together for so long (there were 4 of them assigned there for 3 months at a time). It said that “enraged keepers were known to pass notes at dinnertime rather than speak to each other”. Wow. I wonder if the FIR stopped here to drop off supplies, or perhaps switch out stir-crazy keepers.  Maybe my grandpa just took a picture as they passed by.  Who knows.:)

  • Liz - January 4, 2011 - 11:28 pm

    Yea, that kind of looks like Alcatraz, doesn’t it? :) Great pictures, Jen!ReplyCancel

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From the 15 May 1942 issue of the Sioux City Journal, Sioux City, IA.

Mrs. Ellen Thornton
A resident here for 30 years, Mrs. Ellen Thornton, 79, died Thursday in the home of a son, Clarence J. Thornton, 816 16th street.
She was born in Dubuque February 22, 1863.  She was a member of the Royal Neighbors of America.
Surviving are four sons, Alonzo, Edward, Joseph, and Clarence, all of Sioux City, and James E. of Chicago; three daughters, Mrs. Marie McHale of Portland, Ore., Mrs. Ella Thompson and Mrs. Irene Underscheid, both of Sioux City, and a sister, Mrs. John Sullivan of Jackson, Neb.
Funeral services will he held at 9 a.m. Saturday in Cathedral of the Epiphany with Rev. T. M. Parle officiating  Burial will be in the Catholic cemetery at Hubbard, Neb., under the direction of Larkin’s funeral home.  The body will be taken to the home this afternoon, where a rosary will be said at 3:30 o’clock.

{Her husband, Edward Joseph Thornton, died almost 40 years before her in a farming accident. She never remarried and was left to raise 8 children on her own. }

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