Friday, May 24, 2013

My Aruba


I am from turquoise sea its waves shadowed by drifting white clouds
prickly cactus and the soft smell of frangipani
sunsets so red behind the rising smoke of an oil refinery.

I am from iguanas crawling over dull gray coral or hiding in a sea grape tree
pelicans diving for shimmering fish in a lazy lagoon
burros and goats forever searching for a blade of grass.

I live in the caress of a warm wind that makes trees bow and carries the scent of paradise
I am rooted in soft white sand, sharp coral, lumps of lava rock
old pirate caves, Crystal Mountain and Hooiberg.

I am from a land of kaleidoscope people who speak many languages
who taught me to embrace our shared humanity.

I am Aruban.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

William Edwards Learned, 1905-1977

This is a photo of my father, Bill Learned, and his mother Dolly Edwards Learned taken about 1910.  Isn't she pretty? 

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Dorothy (Dolly) Edwards Learned 1879-1977

My paternal grandmother, Dolly Edwards Learned, grew up in Lewes, Delaware.  Her father, William S. Edwards was a 5th generation pilot of Delaware Bay and River.  Her mother, Clara Burton, was the daughter of Cornelius T. Burton and granddaughter of John Burton, another pilot of the Bay and River.  Dolly's mother died from injuries sustained when a can of coal oil exploded, leaving three young children, Catherine, 8, William, Jr., 5 and Dolly, 1 1/2.  Her father remarried Hannah White in 1882.  While researching the 1880 census, my grandmother, 3 months old, is listed as Hannah.  I can only assume that her name change to Dorothy happened when her father married a Hannah.  There is no birth certificate for her created at the time of birth.  There is a delayed one created when she applied for a passport in 1939 with her mother's brother attesting to the information about her birth.

I am surprised at the lack of genealogical material about the early pilots on the Bay & River.  Some of them lived in Cape May, some in Lewes and others chose to live in Philadelphia.  Apparently it was quite a cutthroat profession in the early days, each pilot trying to out run his competition to be the pilot on an incoming vessel.  Eventually, they had to join together mostly because of the privateers and pirates that found that area of the Atlantic very rich pickings.  I have found a few stories, mostly about the War of 1812 and the bombardment of Lewes.  I would love to find a diary written by the wife of one of these pilots. 

I did not grow up close to my grandparents.  I only saw them every 2 or 3 years.  By the time I began to get interested in genealogy, it was too late to ask her anything and we lived 1300 miles apart.  My father, William Edwards Learned, was an only child so the hope of finding a diary or letters about her childhood is not good.   I do remember she was small, had beautiful gray hair and wore it piled on her head, wore a corset, and smelled good.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Pastfinders of South Lake County

Most of my genealogical research has been in the northeastern states - all of New England, New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware.  I didn't realize how lucky I was with the availability of research materials until I moved to Florida and began helping other people discover their families through our Help Session program of Pastfinders of South Lake County Genealogical Society.  I have worked with people researching most of the US as well as 1st and 2nd generation Americans who want to know about immigration and researching in Eastern Europe, South American, Latin America, Greece, Germany, France and more.  While I have not become an expert in any of these areas, every moment spent in research is an exciting exploration into new territories.