Standing in for Peggy

This week, guest blogger Anne Peterson writes about celebrating life and keeping our loved ones alive.


It’s difficult when we lose loved ones. Sometimes our grief is like Tsunami waves. There we are standing and all of a sudden we’re thrown off balance completely.

But as time goes on, the waves lessen, except maybe certain days. Anniversary dates, and special celebrations. Like one we’ll have in December.

Peggy and me little

Sisters Peggy and Anne


My sister disappeared in 1982 never to be seen again. Peggy was a victim of domestic violence. Her missing person case was changed to a possible homicide. In 2004, we went to court and after 10 grueling days, we watched her husband declared “not guilty.”

The other side of the courtroom erupted in cheers, giving him high fives. We sat frozen till an officer escorted us out of there.

A couple of months later we had a memorial service for her. All of us had a chance to share what she meant to us. Although there were many empty chairs, we knew there were also many who cared about her.

And as we know, life went on. Her boys who were five, seven and nine years of age are now 37, 39, and 41. Two of them have married and have beautiful children. And in December, we’ll attend the wedding of her eldest son.

He called me the other day and said, “My wedding will be quite different than my brother’s wedding, but there is one thing I’d like to be the same. Would you give me the honor of walking me down the aisle?”

I felt a few tears slide down my face as I said, “I would be honored.”

My emotions will be varied that day. While I feel privileged to walk my nephew down the aisle, I’m sad Peggy won’t be there.

But instead of stuffing my emotions in, I will acknowledge them. And then I’ll carefully fold them up and put them away. Denying our feelings never works. We need to embrace them and move on.

My nephew received excellent advice from his pastor.

“I know you have loved ones who won’t be there. Your two uncles who recently died as well as your mother. Honor the ones who won’t be there in a tangible way and then focus on those who are there to celebrate with you.”

As I walk down the aisle in December, I will be thinking of the little boys who she loved so much. Peggy would play the piano and the boys would appear out of nowhere. They would dance to the tempo of the piece and finally collapse on the floor as we all laughed.

Yes, I wish Peggy were here to walk him down the aisle herself. To beam like I did when my son got married.

But this December we will celebrate my sister’s son’s wedding and we’ll be smiling. And maybe this poem I wrote depicts what my sister’s thoughts would be.

I’m Watching

Although you will not see my face,

as you walk down the aisle,

Imagine me just watching you

with my familiar smile.

Imagine just how proud I am

that you have found true love,

And know that I’m not missing this,

I’m watching from above.

Anne Peterson is a poet, speaker and published author of Real Love: Guaranteed to Last, Broken: A Story of Abuse and Survival, and most recently, her first children’s book, Emma’s Wish. Anne is also the author of 42 published Bible Studies through, an affiliate of Christianity Today, as well as the author of over 28 articles. Anne’s poetry is sold throughout the U.S. and in 23 countries. For more information about Anne visit, or


Treasure Chest Thursday – Mom’s Candlestick Holders

These candlestick holders sat on my mom’s dining room table.

Mom's candlestick holders

Mom’s candlestick holders

Sometimes they held red candles for Christmas or peach ones for spring or white ones for no special reason at all.  They were part of what made my mom’s dining room hers.

They were part of the sameness of my childhood, the comforting consistency, like the hardwood floors creaking in the same places all the time and the yard being blanketed with yellow maple leaves every fall.  And then one day the candlestick holders were gone.

GMH Candlesticks-2


My Aunt Millie and Uncle Norman had moved into a large parsonage with many rooms to fill.  My mom offered the candlestick holders to Millie, her sister, to use in the parsonage dining room.  I was sad about it because I loved them. They were simple but elegant. They were Mom’s to give, though, so I didn’t make a fuss about it.

Several years later I married.  When we came home from our honeymoon my husband and I opened presents.  The card and gift box from Aunt Millie and Uncle Norman were non-descript and traditional.  But when I opened the box itself I found my mom’s candlestick holders inside.  Tears welled up in my eyes as I read the note tucked in between them.

Note from Aunt Millie and Uncle Norman.  I keep it with the candlestick holders.

Note from Aunt Millie and Uncle Norman. I keep it with the candlestick holders.

They live in my china closet now, the one I inherited from my mom when she passed away.  I use them on special occasions, but they’re visible all the time through the glass front of the china closet.   Whether they grace my table for a holiday dinner or I view them through the glass, seeing them brings me right back to the comforting consistency of my childhood.

Tinker and the Mailman

Tinker was a cocker-beagle. She was tri-colored like a beagle, but her face was cocker-shaped, and she had short, wavy hair on her ears. Tinker was a good watchdog.Her deep, hound-dog bark scared newspaper carriers, the milkman, the mailman and anyone else that she didn’t ‘know’.


How could anyone be afraid of this sweet face?

Our mailman was terrified of Tinker. Tinker would start howling even before he stepped foot on the driveway. You’d think the Ringwraiths from Lord of the Rings were storming the house the way she barked. The mailman was clearly shaken by Tinker’s barking.

In warmer weather, Mom would leave the front door open so air could flow through the locked screen door. (Yes, this was before we had central A/C.) Every day, Tinker would bark and snarl through the screen at the mailman. And every day the mailman kept one foot against the metallic bottom half of the screen door as a safeguard against the seemingly rabid Tinker. We tried to convince him that Tinker wouldn’t hurt him, but he would have none of that.

As you can guess, everything changed one summer day.


Tinker at about 2 years of age.

That day, Tinker heard the mailman coming and charged at the screen door about the same time the mailman landed on the top step of the porch. Only this time the screen door wasn’t only unlocked, it wasn’t closed all the way either.

The door swung open and Tinker came barreling out and onto the porch. I’m not sure who was more surprised, the mailman or Tinker.

My mother, my sister and I came running to find the mailman on the porch and Tinker down the steps and in the front yard barking and howling and yipping at the mailman. Her hair was up on her back, her tail was between her legs, and she was clearly glad to see we had come to her rescue.

Once we got Tinker and the mailman calmed down, the two made nice with each other. He petted Tinker, and Tinker wagged her tail. From then on, the mailman no longer put his foot on the door when he delivered the mail. And Tinker’s only bark in his direction was a friendly hello kind-of-bark.

Joyce and Tinker-1

Tinker sitting in my sister’s lap.

I wrote about Tinker in honor of National Dog Day which was on Tuesday this week. Please share your dog story below. I’d love to hear it.  Leave a comment, please!

The Chaos of Camille

Have been trying to find time to write you about the hurricane, but it’s hard to stop long enough. It has really been two weeks of nightmare. That’s how a letter from my Aunt Martha Martin dated September 3, 1969 began. It was written 17 days after Hurricane Camille made landfall on the coast of Mississippi where my Aunt Martha and Uncle Jerry lived.

Martha continues: Jerry decided we would ride this one out and not leave town as we had an invitation to stay with a friend in his office at the bank building on the third floor. 

Hurricane Camille-1

Photo courtesy of T. A. Gibbs

The building is made of concrete, steel, etc and designated as a bomb shelter so we felt we would be safe there, if anywhere. So we took enough food for a couple of days, blankets, pillows, T-V, radio (with batteries), candles, etc, and settled in middle of the afternoon. We filled pots and the bathtub with water before we left and taped the windows, etc. 

The winds began to blow shortly after we moved into the bank building and we watched the news on T-V until the current went off, then started listening to the radio. Of course, only the children slept. At first, only the people that worked in the bank building, relatives and friends were there, then later in the night, the Civil Defense began moving others in. They sat in the hallways on each side as thick as you could get them.

No air conditioning after the current went off, so you could hardly burn a candle in the hallway for the lack of oxygen. The worst part was around midnight, after the lights wore off, T-V and radio stations had been knocked out, we could hear windows breaking, tin roof rolling down the street and the winds howling terribly. But finally the worse was over and about 5:00 or 6:00 a.m. people began leaving the shelters and going back home. 

Hurricane Camille-2

Tugboat brought onshore by Camille. Photo courtesy of T. A. Gibbs

Hurricane Camille-3

Same tugboat turned into the SS Hurricane Camille Photo courtesy of T. A. Gibbs








My aunt and uncle were fortunate. They lost a TV antenna and a tree at their house, and there had been about 4 inches of water in the lower section of the new house they were building at the time. A good friend of theirs didn’t fare so well.  Martha wrote:  We could see from the outside that the double garage was blown out and the front door was open, so we went in to inspect. The water had been up about 4 feet, the furniture was strewn from room to room, the piano was in the back yard, freezer a block away, walls blown out and mud 3 or 4 inches thick. Everything was a total loss. China and silver, pictures, etc, all in the mud. All the homes around her and along the beach were the same – one house was completely missing.

The letter goes on to tell about my aunt and uncle pitching in to help friends and acquaintances who hadn’t been as fortunate: They stayed for about a week – meals, meals, dishes, dishes, and I washed clothes steadily for 3 days. I didn’t stop my washer and dryer from the time I got up till I went to bed. The letter, 5 typewritten pages in total, gives my aunt’s firsthand account of riding out the storm and the chaos it created afterwards.

Hurricane Camille-4

A home destroyed by Camille. Photo courtesy of T. A. Gibbs

Hurricane Camille made landfall on August 17, 1969 – 45 years ago. It was one of only three known hurricanes to make landfall in the U.S. as a Category 5 storm according to this article:  45 Years Later:  Remembering Hurricane Camille’s Deadly Landfall, Aftermath



Did anyone in your family history encounter a major weather event like a hurricane, blizzard, tsunami, earthquake, volcanic eruption? These websites could help you learn more about them:

Major Blizzards in U. S. History

List of Natural Disasters by Death Toll

The Deadliest Volcanic Eruptions

The top 10 deadliest earthquakes in history

Earthquake “Top 10″ Lists and Maps for the U.S. 

The 30 Deadliest U.S. Hurricanes/Tropical Cyclones 1851-2006

Betty Boop and Bambi


Question:  What do Betty Boop and Bambi have in common besides both starting with a B?

photo courtesy of Rob DiCaterino

Answer: They both premiered on August 9, Betty Boop in 1930 and Bambi in 1942.

The cartoon in which Betty Boop first appeared, Dizzy Dishes, looks primitive to us now but was likely fresh then.  Click here to watch “Dizzy Dishes”

The improvements made in the 12 years between that cartoon and Bambi are amazing. Not only the quality of the animation, but the differences in music and sound. And Bambi was in color!  Click here to watch a clip from Bambi.

Were moviegoers as impressed by Bambi and Thumper on the ice as my generation was with seeing Disney’s Beauty and the Beast dance, seemingly in 3-D, across a computer-generated ballroom? Probably so.  Click here to see the ballroom dance from Beauty and the Beast.

My dad loved cartoons. His favorite was Woody Woodpecker. He watched cartoons with my sister and me when were kids. And when my girls were little he watched cartoons with them sitting in his lap. Yes he often dozed off, but they happily cuddled up to him and kept watching the cartoons.

Charles Leroy Heiser with Joyce and Nancy, early 1960-cropped

My dad, Charlie HEISER, with my sister and me. I am the baby in this photo.

Personally I didn’t understand my dad’s love for Woody Woodpecker. I found Woody to be annoying, but I didn’t tell my dad that. I didn’t want to spoil cartoon time with him. I liked Pepe Le Pew, Tom and Jerry, and Sniffles; a lesser known Merry Melodies character. I still like them now.

We’re visiting my in-laws this weekend. I can’t wait to ask them who their favorite cartoon character is and what they remember about watching cartoons when they were kids. My father-in-law is nearly 88 and still sharp. I’m sure it will be a fun conversation.  :)

How about you? Who is your favorite cartoon character? And what is your favorite animated movie?


Elephants and Giraffe Swim the Pee Dee

According to the Cheraw Time Line on the Chesterfield County SC Genealogical Society website, in 1837 “the first circus came to town. The elephants are too heavy and the giraffe too tall to cross the covered bridge so they must swim the river.” That would be the Pee Dee River.Elephant-3

One of my 3rd great-grandmothers, Margaret PEARSON GRIFFIN, likely witnessed this event.  She was the only one of my 3rd great-grandparents who lived in one of the counties on either side of the Pee Dee River, and she was a wee girl of 4 in 1837. Other of my 3rd great-grandparents lived in nearby Richmond County, NC, but who knows if they even knew about the circus coming to town, let alone witnessed it.

Now I’ve been to the circus. You maybe have, too. Elephants, lions, trick bicycle and unicycle riders, fire eaters, clowns, and all the rest. The circuses of the mid-1800’s weren’t much different. According to The Ins and Outs of Circus Life by John H. Glenroy, circuses of the mid 1800’s had clowns, horseback riders, modern Samson and Hercules, trick riders, singers, acrobats, plate spinners, a tattooed man, vaulters, jugglers and minstrels of color (which seemed to be a fascination of circus goers in those days.)


Olympians of the Sawdust Circle, A Biographical Dictionary of the Nineteenth Century American Circus by William L. Slout says the following animals were seen in circuses of that time period:  leopards, lions, panthers, tigers, elephants, and rhinos.  Imagine the amazement and awe that people on both sides of the Pee Dee experienced upon seeing the circus arrive with exotic animals and curious performers.

More than one resource used for this quick study said that the first giraffe arrived in America in 1837, coming to New York.


This leads me to believe that perhaps the circus event in Cheraw happened a year or so later than 1837. I don’t doubt the event happened, though. By the way, the first elephant in America arrived in April 1796.

This Cheraw circus event is going on my Margaret Pearson Griffin’s personal time line. I don’t know much about her, but this tidbit helps to add some depth to the flat name-and-dates information that is currently her in my family history.

How To Make the Most of Your Life

Two poems have significance in my family history – The Arrow and the Song” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow andThe Clock of Life” by Robert H. Smith.

After my grandma passed we found “The Clock of Life” written again and again on index cards, notebook paper, paper scraps, and stationery.  I know there is more to this poem than what she recorded, but this is the part that was meaningful to her.

The Clock of Life Poem in the hand of Florrie Thomas Martin cropped

A portion of The Clock of Life in my grandma’s hand

My grandma lived through both World Wars and the Depression. She was the wife of a tenant farmer, and they moved often. Between 1923 and 1943, they lived in 12 different places. Two of her brothers died as boys, one after a freak accident. She was a widow for 24 years, and she buried 4 of her 8 children before she passed at the age of 84.

1978 Martin Family Reunion Florrie Thomas Martin-2

My grandma, Florrie Thomas Martin, in 1978.

She knew how ugly life could be, but she didn’t let that fact control how she lived her life. She was generous with her time and her prayers, and with the small amount of social security she received and what she made selling her crocheted creations. She laughed sometimes until she cried, and she loved people as they were, not how she wished they would be. She lived each day for the gift that it was, an admirable example of how to live.

What words to live by did your ancestors leave for you?



Time to Binge-Watch ‘River Town’

River Town, a web-based video series, ‘takes a look back at everyday rural Harnett County, North Carolina in the adventurous 1850’s.’  The series uses local talent and citizens to portray real people and tell real stories about the history of Averasboro, aka River Town. The cast also includes locally ‘known’ people like NC State Senator Ronald Rabin.

Campbell Creek at Cape Fear River

Campbell Creek at the Cape Fear River, the river featured in River Town

The series has been featured in local papers such as the Fayetteville Observer and the Dunn Daily Record, and on an episode of WRAL-TV’s Tar Heel Traveler. Plus River Town’s facebook page has over 1600 likes.

River Town is a drama, and it has twists and turns in the storyline but a lot can be learned from watching it, too. For example, in Season 1 Episode 4, I learned about turpentine farming, an occupation that shows up many times in the census records of my North and South Carolina ancestors. In this episode, the actors actually perform the necessary tasks to farm turpentine.

Season 3 begins this fall. Go to River Town’s youtube page to watch seasons 1 and 2. Each episode is less than 15 minutes long, so you can easily binge-watch and be current before Season 3 begins.

Know of other web-based video series like River Town?  Please comment if you do!

Etch-A-Sketch: 54 years in America

Etch-A-Sketch was launched on the American market 54 years ago this month.

Mona Lisa Etch-A-Sketch

image from

I had a love/hate relationship with Etch-A-Sketch when I was a child. I loved what other people could draw with it, and I hated that drawing a square with it was a major accomplishment for me! My brain didn’t work that way then, and it still doesn’t now. The difference is that now I can be in awe of what people can draw with it, but not envious that I can’t do it, too.

Click here to see some amazing art done on an Etch-A-Sketch. Note that some of the creations were made on the pocket version.

Then check out this history of Etch-A-Sketch drawn with an Etch-A-Sketch.

I’ve shared my experience with Etch-A-Sketch. Tell me about yours.


Daddy always liked you better

The Ancestry Insider

logo from The Ancestry Insider

When I read this blog from The Ancestry Insider – New FamilySearch Add On: Find A Record – I was intrigued, and I gave it a try. I narrowed my search to Chesterfield County, SC where my Grant ancestors lived for many years.

From the choices I was provided, I chose to focus in on probate records. The records were mostly indexed which helped aplenty. Also, the records I wanted to see are housed at the SC Dept. of Archives and History (SCDAH). Applause from me for the SCDAH. They are awesome to work with!

I called the SCDAH. They took my information about the three probate records I was looking for, said they’d research for the records, and invoice me for the cost of the research and copies. Yes, I called them and they did this. Like I said. They are awesome to work with. :)

Invoice arrived, check sent, and then the waiting game.

Last week, my packet of papers arrived. It was like Christmas in July as I opened the tightly stuffed envelope. Two of the records were average probate records. Names, dates, signatures, value of the estates, etc. All interesting and worth the cost for research and copying.

Tintype of a Grant-cropped

Tintype photo believed to be D. B. Grant


The final record was a juicy one, though. Jeremiah Grant, my 3rd great-grandfather died without a will. As expected, his oldest living son, my 2nd great-gandfather, Daniel Baity Grant (aka D.B. Grant) would be the likely executor named by the probate court. But two of D.B.’s sisters weren’t keen on that idea.

His sisters, Ella Grant Gardener and Malinda Grant Quick, petitioned the courts requesting that D.B. not be named as executor. Their reason: D.B. ‘is not a successful business man’ and ‘has proved a failure and is today without any property and is hopelessly in debt’.

Sibling Rivalry-1

Modern day version of D. B. and his sisters?


The sisters also said in the petition ‘that said D.B. Grant has no interest in the estate, his father having advanced to him in his life time, as needed, more than he would be entitled to receive from said estate.’ I can hear the sisters now, “Daddy always like you better.” They also provided evidence that D.B. was in debt for nearly $6000. The court ended up appointing D.B. as the executor anyway.

I still have some chicken scratching from the sisters’ lawyer to interpret. Who knows what else I might find out about D.B.!

I certainly will be using this FamilySearch Add On again. Thanks, Ancestry Insider, for blogging about it.