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Sunday, December 21, 2008

Genealogy Brag Book

Here is a small Genealogy Brag Book I made for Christmas gifts.
Hope you enjoy.

Christmas is in the Air

Christmas is in the air. I'd like to share the family Christmas Cards I made. They are digital Christmas cards with hybrid on the covers. Each card has a 6x6 picture inside and one 6x6 picture on the back. For the inside front covers I placed pictures and on the outside "door openings" I put scrapbook paper with Christmas/Winter three dimensional stickers on the front. I even made a vacation one of our summer trip and a card reflecting the Holiday Party from my Lifestyle Writing Class.

Ice Skating Memories

In October, as the beginnings of winter lurked around the corner, my sister Mary and I became excited in anticipation of skating on the make-shift pond in front of our house. “Daddy, Daddy! When are you going to fill the pond for us?” we would begin asking at Halloween after the first snow flurries, as the weather turned cold. The slope in front of our house on Hillside Avenue would freeze over with a little help from dad
who filled it with water every winter. Our corner lot was 100 feet by 100 feet and flat
except for the front three feet where it sloped on an angle to Hillside Avenue and wound its way around the corner along Coolidge Avenue, giving us 200 feet, the perfect practice “rink” for after school until the weekend. My sister, Mary and I skated around the “mini pond”, enthusiastically, speed skating, practicing figure eights. That we did well! I fantasized skating on ice like Sonja Henie. On weekends we walked three miles to Phillips Park Lagoon. I liked to go early in the morning on Saturdays as the afternoon was too crowded. On Sundays, we went after church. In the beginning, I went with my friend Jane, but she gave up because she had flat feet and they hurt after too long on skates. After that, I went by myself or with my sister. I wore woolen slacks and sometimes leggings over the slacks, a sweater and jacket, a babushka and a red plaid scarf wrapped around my neck and of course gloves. I walked from home to Farnsworth Avenue, up New York Street to Hill Avenue and Ray Moses Drive, ending
two and a half miles later at the Lagoon.
I wasn’t very good at jumps, ice dancing, or going backwards but I managed to skate well and fast forwards. My favorite game on ice was Crack the Whip. I was always part of the whip and I wasn’t scared of that! Crack the whip was a simple outdoor game that involved groups of about twenty to thirty players. One player was chosen as the head of the whip and skated around the ice randomly with subsequent players holding on to the hand of the player in front and behind, whipping around the ice. There was much more force on the person at the end of the tail and this person held on tighter. As the game progressed most players fell off the tail. Sometimes they would get back on, moving up before the others could reconnect to the whip giving them a more secure position. There was no objective to this game other than sheer enjoyment.
Skating was a popular winter sport in Illinois. Dad told us he was a great speed and figure skater. According to my dad, Robert Fermazin, he was the Aurora city ice skating champion in his youth. My dad bragged to us over the years about his speed and figure skating prowess. The stories were collaborated by Aunt Lola, Oma and Opa and the lonely trophy which sat on the shelf of the cherry wood hutch cabinet. We haven’t found the newspaper clippings to confirm this yet, but I don’t doubt him.
One Sunday, Dad, took the challenge. Mary and I were 8 and 11 in 1954, watching our hero, our Dad, prove his skating talent to us on Lake Mastodon at Phillips Park.
Dad was only 5’6” tall and weighed about 150 pounds with bright blue-gray eyes and dark thick, wavy black hair, parted on the side and combed back from his forehead when he wasn’t sporting a crew cut. This particular Sunday, Dad took us to Lake Mastodon about two o’clock in the afternoon when the temperature was a frosty twenty-eight degrees. I remember this like it was yesterday. My sister and I watched with awe and amazement. He skimmed effortlessly over the frozen surface of the lake on this blustery, January day, with the collar on his jacket turned up and inward hugging his neck, cold air blowing off the lake into his face sending his hair straight up flapping in the wind over his ear muffs and black leather gloves warming his hands as he skated. He was as light and graceful on his feet as dancing was to Fred Astaire doing it all using an old rusty pair of clamp-on skates. Mary and I had pretty white shoe skates with striped red and white laces adorned with jingle bells on the top. And, oh how he could skate! ...moving with a grace that was wonderful to behold....gliding effortlessly on the ice...making figure eights and jumping with precision and twisting and turning in the air, skating backwards, then forwards... a look of sweet pleasure on his face. His large hands were clasped behind his back and his head tilted to the side as if he were listening to sounds from another time and place. We watched with glazed eyes, magically spellbound, not taking them away from Dad as his performance dazzled us. He was so proud.
Skating backwards was difficult for me. I bent forward at the waist, pushing off with my legs bent at a forty-five degree angle, but was never able to get up the momentum. It looked so easy when you watched the professionals. I skated fast, forwards and was able to do figure eights with ease. Jumping and twisting in the air was not in my repertoire. Dad did it with ease. In the beginning (of our ice skating days), Dad helped us get ready to skate. He would say, “Here honey, let me help you with that.” as he knelt in front of us taking the laces from our hands. He pulled firmly on the laces to make sure each skate fit snugly, wrapping the laces around our ankles, neatly tucking the ends in so we wouldn’t trip. Then he folded the tops of our wool socks over the edge of each skate’s boot and gave us a gentle pat, saying, “There you go, girls”, and stood so he could take our hands to hold us steady while we got upright. With ankles wobbling in the beginning years as our feet adjusted to the narrow blades we made cautious steps. “That’s my girls. You can do it.” With that, Dad left us self-confident to skate on the ice returning a few hours later to pick us up for the ride home. Even if you were a klutz on ice, you could still have fun. We played Crack the Whip, Red Light, Red Light, Stride and Glide and just skated and skated, round and round at the lagoon. In Red Light, one skater stands at the end of the ice with his back to the rest of the skaters counting out loud. Then, all at once he yells “red light” and you have to race back to the starting line, tagging it. Stride and Glide was where you took a few strides and then glided on the ice with the winner being the one who glided the farthest. Some times as a challenge, we glided on one skate. Not me.
We received lots of exercise skating. After a few hours of fun on the ice at the lagoon, with sore ankles, legs heavy, and toes starting to burn from being too cold and cramped, a scarf covering our mouth, bright red cheeks, eye lashes stuck together with ice crystals and nose dripping we would trek to the enclosed pavilion. The inviting embers burned in the pot belly stove and a full mug of hot chocolate piled high with whip cream awaited us. The invigorating afternoon was over and soon we would be home. On Saturdays, when I got home, I had lunch and a nap - walking into a warm house after being out in the cold had a somnolent effect.
Ice skating was a large part of our winter life growing up in Illinois and generated fond memories of by gone days. In door ice rinks have replaced the outdoor ice skating ponds. The lagoon remains, but it is fenced off and houses three resident elk. The pot bellied stove and the benches are gone, and the pavilion serves as a concession stand on weekends.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Digital Scrapbooking

I started a Genealogy Scrapbook on my Fermazin Family. I made a 12x12 book for myself and an 8x8 for my grandson, Peter. I have been taking Digital Scrapbooking so this helped a lot. One page I made was with Memory Mixers ( but the other pages have all been done with Photoshop Elements. I had so much fun doing the book that I also made a DVD of my family heritage using Photoshop Elements. That was a big hit. I love Digital Scrapbooking because it allows me to connect yesterday to the present and leads me to tomorrow's world through pictures and journaling of family, friends,and events.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Tradgedy on the Homestead: Lake Koshkonong (the-lake-we-live-on), Wisconsin, March 1893

Tradgedy on the Homestead: Lake Koshkonong (the-lake-we-live-on), Wisconsin, March 1893
This is how I imagine my great grandparents, Ira and Cornelia Ames lived in Lake Koshkonong. The story is fictionalized based upon the history of this family's survival on the prairie. It was taken from newspaper articles, Civil War papers, and the family Bible.
Ten-year old Nancy, hovering over her mother, Cornelia, sobbed uncontrollably. Her hazel eyes were almost swollen shut as she cried out, “Ma Ma… Ma….” With a flask in his left hand, her father, Ira pushed open the door of the homestead and stomped in, his unshaven beard growth of a week beaded with little drops of melting frost. He dropped his gloves to the floor as he rushed over to Nelia’s (Cornelia) side, leaving tracks of white slush on the floor of the one-room shack they called home. Most of the year, he eked out a living fishing on Lake Koshkonong, but in winter he hunted for game. The sobbing children looked fearfully at their father, saying in unison, “Paw, do something.” Nelia Ames lay stiff and cold, breathing noisily, with barely a rise and fall in her small chest. She had been lying on the bed in the corner of the room, listless and sick with fever and cough for the last two weeks.
All of the garden vegetables were gone. The last of the wild turkeys had been eaten one month earlier. Only a lonely crust of bread remained on the table with a few scattered crumbs on the floor. Little Caroline, born six weeks before, on January 21st, had died two days earlier from prematurity, lack of nourishment, and proper care. In those days, when a child died, there were no boards to make a coffin. Relatives dug a pit and laid logs across the top. With a crosscut saw, one man in the pit and one on top, they ripped planks out of the logs for the coffin. Because of the family life, abject poverty, baby Caroline was laid to rest in a shallow grave under the snow in Otter Creek Cemetery.
“Come children, we have to get some help here. Hiram and George, you two get some coal and wood and get a fire goin’.” Irritated, Ira shouted, “Nancy, quit blubbering and gather up the little ones or I’m going to send you for the doctor. I’ve got to get some help for your ma. Be back in a few hours or so,” he said as he slammed the door shut, trudging out into the cold.
Ira Ames homesteaded a piece of land near Lake Koshkonong in south-central Wisconsin. Bringing the family to live on Lake Koshkonong had been a good idea in the beginning. Fishing for a living would provide support for the family. Green ash, white oak, and silver maple groves dotted the horizon. Hog pastures, wild turkeys, and lanes rutted out by cattle tramping through the area were common in this part of Wisconsin. Bald eagles and osprey nesting in the trees, ruby throated hummingbirds and white sparrows were numerous. Squirrels, raccoons, chipmunks, coyotes, and white tailed deer abounded. In the spring, wild strawberries and fresh flowers dotted the landscape: lilac, mauve, yellow and white crocus with their white central stripe along the leaves, fragrant grayish-blue morningstars with pinkish-white eyes, and deep purple violets covered the landscape. The marshlands abounded with wild rice which grew seven feet high above the water, and so thick all over that it was difficult to push a canoe through it. Mallards The marshlands were sprinkled with wild ducks of all colors, mostly mallards.
For the family of Ira Daniel Ames, the first part of 1893, was the worst year of their lives. Life was unbearable.
1893 was not a good year. The winters on Lake Koshkonong were always severe; the year of 1893 was an especially bad winter. The country was in a depression. The depression of the 1890s was on a par with the Great Depression of the 1930s in its impact on employment. In some places it began before 1890. An agricultural crisis hit Southern cotton-growing regions and the Great Plains in the late 1880s. Twenty-five percent of the nation's railroads were bankrupt; in some cities, unemployment exceeded 20 or even 25 percent. People of different incomes experienced the depression in markedly different ways. In the bitter winter months, some poor families starved and others became wanderers. Vagrants, out of work, crisscrossed the countryside, walking or hiding on freight trains. Many appeared at back doors pleading for work or food. People accused those who were out of work of laziness. Some of the unemployed blamed themselves. The newspapers were full of reports of despair and suicides due to these circumstances.
Ira Ames had fought in the War Between the States in Company D, 8th United States Infantry, Regular Army for several years. He came home a broken and disturbed man. His regiment had lost a total of 280 men: 6 officers and 53 enlisted men killed and mortally wounded, 2 officers, and 219 enlisted men died from disease.
After returning home from the war, Ira met and fell in love with a beautiful young woman, Cornelia Palon, feeling that with love he could overcome his depression. They married in Albion, Wisconsin on June 25, 1868. Work was hard to come by after the war. The first years were particularly difficult. Ira worked as a farmer in 1870 in Albion. By 1880, he was listed in the census as a day laborer living in Milton, Wisconsin. In 1890, the Ameses were living eight miles north at Gebo Point, on Lake Koshkonong. During this time the demons came back to haunt Ira and he began to take up the bottle. The family suffered greatly from their father’s drinking habits. Things had not always been like this. Ira had dreams, dreams of settling down, buying a farm, raising a family…. That was in the beginning.
As the children came, their situation became more difficult. The first born was Charles Henry in October 1870, Beth Frances in January 1872, Frankie in October 1872, Chauncey in 1873, George Elliott in 1878, Hiram Edison in September of 1880, Rosie Belle in 1881, Nancy Theo in 1883, William Scott in 1884, and Marion Frances in 1889. Marvin Franklin was born November 22, 1890 and the last child, Caroline, was born in the year 1893, making twelve children in all. The two oldest were no longer at home. Frankie, Chauncey, and Rosey Belle had passed.
The family could not survive without food and heat during this severe winter of 1893. Without proper care, the 12 by 18 foot, one-room house, became a shack of wide, rotting, gray boards running up and down with cracks in the walls allowing the brisk, cold air in and the heat to seep through the openings. Their meager furnishings consisted of a table sitting in the corner covered with a red cloth, two beds, the family Bible open to Psalms on the lone dresser, and a shiny black, polished cook stove in the center of the room. The family lived in a lonely place about 80 rods (half an acre or half a football field) away from the nearest neighbor. Ira began to drink more and more and worked less frequently, and cared less and less about the family. He attempted to work as a fisherman, but was not doing well during this winter.
In March of 1893 life became so difficult for this family that the mother, Cornelia, died of pneumonia, starvation, and frost bite. The doctor came and pronounced her dead. He found six children, starving and freezing in the “shack”. He called the authorities. If they hadn’t intervened these children would have been dead with their mother. They found the children scantily clothed, one little girl having on only a calico dress with no underclothing, and a little boy having on only knee breeches all torn to strings. The neighbors came and took them into their homes. The two oldest boys, ages 12 and 14, were sent out to make it on their own and the four youngest were sent to the orphanage in Sparta, Wisconsin.
Two years later, in March 1895, Ira died in despair and depression of a broken heart. Life had taken its toll. Nelia was dead, the children were gone, and fishing was poor. The demons had returned and he had begun to take up the bottle again. His spirit was broken, battered and bruised. All he had were memories.
1. Wisconsin Historical Society
2. Caswell, Janesville Gazette. Reporting on the homeless.
3. Jacob Covey. “Legal Tender”. From Coxey’s Magazine, “Cause and Cure”, December 1897.
4. Wisconsin, Civil War Regiment Histories. Wisconsin Historical Society.

5. Janesville Gazette, March 7, 1893, page 1. Article titled “Mother Froze to Death Babes Barely Saved.
6. Cornelia Ames Family Bible now in possession of Nancy Fermazin Peralta, Buena Park, California.
7. Janesville Gazette, March 9, 1893, p. 4, column 3. Article “Ira Ames is a Dead Man Indeed, Traded his wife’s garden as boot for swapping horses.”

Sunday, August 10, 2008


Just returned from a six week vacation. We drove to Pennsylvania and upstate New York and back over the last few weeks. Rocky my Chessie accompanied us on the trip via van.
Did a little genealogy plus lots of sight seeing.
Branson Smokey Mountains Graceland Hermitage Monticello Mount Vernon Colonial Willamsburg
Civil War Battlefields Gettysburg, Mananassas, Harper's Ferry, Brandy Station, Winchester, Fort Royale,
Willow Grove, Horsham, New Hope, Lancaster area, Amish country, Ogdensburg, Liberty (Port Allegheny) PA, Jackson, MN, CHICAGO, Little Big Horn, Yellowstone, Jackson Hole etc
I'll bring you up to date

Friday, April 4, 2008

Nicholas in Poster

Here is one of my pictures of Nicholas in a Photoshop Elements edit

I'm Back

Well I'm back. Getting ready to make a trip to Salt Lake City to work on Genealogy.
Hope to prove my 3rd great grandfather's parents.
Been taking lots of classes in Genealogy, Memoir Writing, and Digital Scrapbooking. It's exciting to do digital scrapbooking. Will soon post some of my work.

I'm working on writing a story about my first job of "Picking Corn" in Illinois as a 14 year old to make money! I think you will enjoy my story when I finish.

See you soon.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Dad's old cars were a kick! and he loved them.

A New Year

A New Year

Well 2008 is here already! I'm excited.
I'm taking some computer classes on Advanced XP and Digital Scrapbooking at Anaheim and at Huntington Beach. Busy.....I'm also working on a Family History Photo Album little by little and hope to have completed by December 2008.
Here are some new pictures of Rocky my Chessy. He is very narcissistic. He sits in front of the door and admires himself for hours. Also I finally captured him fetching the newspaper. He loves to go out at 6 AM daily and "fetch". Better him than me. I don't like the cold.