Category Archives: History

Celtic Call – Part 2

I have vague memories of sitting with my grandfather at the piano. I don’t remember him playing. But I remember his love for music. The violin was my key to my heritage.

After my dad’s comment that he thought he remembered his father saying we had Irish heritage, I concentrated on following my grandfather’s line. As I added known names of ancestors and searched through each hint, given I discovered the wife of my two times great grandfather. A photo of her headstone was one of the hints. Knowing it was her as it had my grandfather’s name as her husband, I attached it to her profile on my tree. I had no idea how significant this would be in my search to prove my Scottish and Irish roots.

Her name was Athy Olevia Guffin. My two times great grandmother. The mother of my grandfather’s mother.

The day after I attached the photo of her headstone I received a message through from the person who originally posted the photo. His last name was Guffin.   He asked how I was related to Athy Guffin saying her grandfather and his two times great grandfather were first cousins. I replied telling him my connection to her. It was his reply back that brought it all together.

When he replied he shared that he has taught genealogy at the University of Alabama for the past 40 years. He also shared my Athy Guffin’s family tree. The family tree that traces my roots back to Ireland and Scotland. Her great-great grandfather immigrated to the American colonies in 1773. His name in Ireland was McGuffin, but the Mc was dropped when he came to America. His family was Scots-Irish.

Professor Guffin was kind enough to share as much family history with me as he has and offered to help me in my research if I ever need it.

I’m not sure how I knew there was Scottish or Irish blood in my family other than the music. My grandfather whose family line traces back to Ireland instilled a love for music in me. He is the reason I took music lessons as a child. I’m so drawn to the music. Perhaps it’s in hearing the violin that is so prominent in Celtic music. I always associate fiddle/violin music with my grandfather. Turns out the violin was always the key.

I wonder how much of our tastes and things we are drawn to can be traced back to the roots of our heritage. Roots we don’t even know we have.

Have you ever researched your family history? What interesting discoveries have you made?


Celtic Call

It was the music. It always stops me. I never dared speak my thoughts aloud. To say I somehow knew the roots of my heritage without knowledge or proof simply by the call of music sounds crazy, mystical.

Celtic music finds my ears and something stirs. Something I cannot name is pricked and I drift to a place I’ve never been.

So I began to wonder if my instincts were true, if what draws me to Celtic sounds is more than just a love of music.

As I started cleaning out closets I found pages of family history my mother began taking down years ago. Previews of the new season of Who Do You Think You Are began. My curiosity could not remain quiet any longer.

My quest to research and map out my ancestry began. (As if I really need another hobby.)

The search becomes a bit addictive as you begin the tracing. Using I begin building my tree, adding names thanks to my mother’s notes from years ago. Almost immediately census records appear. Piece after piece is added. A small fact of each of their lives now known.

I tell my dad I want to trace our origins back to Europe. I never mention my suspicions of Ireland or Scotland. He seems to suddenly remember his own father mentioning Ireland. Never mentioning my instincts, I keep searching.

I did not have to wait long. Within three days I have confirmation.

And the story of how that confirmation finds its way to me? Well it’s a pretty cool story. One I will share in my next post.

Remembering 9-11

It was ten years ago today. A Tuesday.

I was preparing to leave for the Mother’s Morning Out where I worked. My son was just over eighteen months old and went with me. I was about to get him up and ready.

The Today Show was on. They broke in with news that a plane had hit one of the towers…..and then another one.

We finished getting ready and left. I turned the television on once we arrived at work. And the horrors continued. I did not know anyone directly effected, but it is not a day I will easily forget.

I took this photo in 1995 from the Empire State Building when my future in-laws took my future husband and I to New York during Christmas. I love New York City during the winter.

I did not think much of them that day. Those towers rising above everything else.

I took this next photo from the Statue of Liberty when my sister and I went to New York in 2009. You wouldn’t know anything was really missing if you didn’t know.

We walked to Ground Zero after visiting the Statue of Liberty. It was fenced off. We could not see much, but we visited the temporary Memorial Museum. It was located next to a fire station. An eeriness is the only way I can describe the feeling of walking through and seeing the missing persons flyers and other things collected from that day. I did not take any photos. It seemed almost irreverent.


There were signs of life. The construction crews. The sounds of rebuilding. In spite of that horrible day no one had given up. You could hear the sounds of hope. I’m ready to go back to NYC. Ready to see how the city has continued to rebuild.

Where were you on this ten years ago?

Frontier Days at Fort Toulouse

If you've never been to Fort Toulouse/Fort Jackson for Frontier Days it is an experience worth the trip to Wetumpka. The renactors stay in character and make it such an educational experience. You can click here for more information on the Frontier Days this year happening November 3-7. We're going on a field trip there next week so I'm sure I'll be sharing more about it soon.

First the canon at Ft. Toulouse. They do fire it. It's interesting to observe, but loud.


Within Ft Toulouse they have barracks where the reenactors sleep during the frontier days. They also have ladies cooking and baking. The bread of course caught my eye.



DS being all boy, pretending he is in a battle. 


The French flag in Ft. Toulouse.


Of course DS was attracted to the firearms. 🙂


The reenactors come out to do a drill.




The Native Americans doing a stomp dance in their historical dress. Some have turtle shells they have made into leg wraps to make music as they dance.


One of my favorite instruments – the hammered dulcimer. It makes such beautiful music.


Ladies participating in the frontier days weave yarn and dye it with natural elements native to the area. I love the blue yarn.

A sleeping tent for one of the Native Americans.


Ft. Toulouse and Ft. Jackson are located on the Coosa River.


Of course there were people in an area selling wares. These are some of the turtle shells with beans or something in them like the Native Americans used in the Stomp Dance.


The colorfulness of the rock candy caught my eye.


Puppets tied to her knee. She made them move by moving her leg around. Very interesting. She said these were predecessors of the marionettes.


Tents over on the Ft. Jackson side.


This guy was quite entertaining. He was really into his character and I love how I caught the smoke when he shot the rifle. It was very loud, too.


I can't remember who this guy was portraying, but they were really into their characters.


Again, what is it with boys and canons?


Loved the red wagon.


Saw this in the beat up road between the two areas. I don't really like hearts, but I couldn't help to snap a photo of it.


Food over in the Native American camp. Last year I was there early enough to see them actually skinning a deer. Kind of gross, but very interesting when you understand that's what they had to do to live and how none of it went to waste. They would trade the skins for anything they needed.


There were a few Englishmen near the French encampment.


So there you have it. Our little field trip in photos. If you have a chance you should definitely take your kiddos. 

Tomorrow I'll be back and starting my Daily December photo. My plan is to do a photo a day in December.  We'll see if I can stick with it. 🙂

The Church of St. Michael and All Angels

Driving along Alabama Highway 21 through Calhoun County,  you might see one of those historic marker signs on the corner of 18th Street. It almost gets lost amid the intersection with a McDonald's and other fast food joints.

Having grown up in Calhoun County I often noticed the sign pointing to the west to St. Michael's and All Angels Church. I had often heard of its historic place in our county and how beautiful of a church it was.

So many times I passed that historic marker sign on the corner of Hwy 21 and 18th Street. Always saying "I need to go visit and see for myself." Never really slowing down to actually visit. So in March when I traveled back to my home county I made it a point to visit.

Driving west along 18th Street through a part of Anniston that seems almost forgotten I came upon the historic church on a glorious spring day.

The Tyler and Noble families founded Anniston, establishing an iron works industry after the Civil War. When immigrant families began settling in Anniston to work in the mills and other businesses it became apparent that Grace Church, the first Episcopal church in Anniston, could not accomadate all the new families. In 1887 John Ward Noble petitioned the Bishop of Alabama to organize a second parish.


On St. Michael's Day of that year the parish was formed and architect William Halsey Wood was retained and ground broken and the cornerstone laid in 1888.

In September 1890 the church was consecrated. The church remains as a gift to the people of Anniston.

The tower of the church is reminiscent of chuches in the Noble family's native Cornwall, England. Beautiful stain glass windows grace the walls of the church as well as an amazing pipe organ. The woodwork is graced with wooden carved angels .



So if you're ever in Anniston and have a few moments turn west on 18th Street and visit the church. It truly is a beautiful church. The church is open daily from 8 a.m. – 4 p.m.