Showing posts from 2014


I saw this movie on Friday at the theater.  Now, just making it to the theater was an accomplishment for me as I abhor the prices, audience behavior, etc.  I prefer to watch movies in the privacy of my own home.  But sometimes, I really want to see a movie before it comes out on DVD--thus, I made up my mind to go see this one.

And, I'm really glad I did.  It had amazing effects but an even more interesting story line.  I really enjoyed how the director blended the 'journey' that permeated the movie with the emotional connections between the main characters.  I don't want to give anything away but the ending is a real tearjerker.

Definitely go see this if you think you have any interest at all in the subject.  It won't disappoint.

Bethlehem Lutheran Church3

Not actually the church mentioned in the photos below but a landscape shot taken with the church behind me.  The eyes can see a long way in this part of Texas.

Bethlehem Lutheran Church2

Here is the chapel next to the church in the post below.

Bethlehem Lutheran Church

For the first time in months, the weather was cool in South Central Texas so I decided to go out and take some pictures this afternoon.  I took this one about 30 miles from my house in a "ghost town" called Quihi.  It's not really a ghost town because people do live in the vicinity but the population is much reduced from its heyday in the 19th century.  Anyway, this is the Bethlehem Lutheran Church founded in 1852 and still with a congregation.  I have some more from this area that I will post in a few days.

Eastern Kentucky2

This was interesting.  We took this picture at the head of Long Branch about three miles from where we left the main road.  I have no idea who painted the rock or the purpose behind it but said individual seemed to have talent.

Eastern Kentucky

Last week, I visited family in both West Virginia and Kentucky.  One of the highlights of the trip was driving up this narrow road into an area called "Long Branch" in Martin County, Kentucky.  I was particularly interested in locating this area because my genealogical research identifies this as the location of some of my ancestors in the 1800s.  More specifically, I was looking for members of the 'Ball' and 'Hensley' families.  Well, Long Branch is a hard place to find if you've never been there and we had to ask a few of the locals to make sure we were in the right place.  You may also notice that the picture isn't that great and this is because trees are everywhere making it difficult to see very far!  Anyway, we didn't acquire very much information on this trip but we did get some leads concerning a few cemeteries that we want to check out in the future whenever we can get our hands on a four-wheel drive.

September Travels

I'll be visiting my family in KY/WV in September and hope to view several locations that have special resonance for me after studying my genealogy.  More specifically, I plan to explore an area where one branch of the Ball family from Virginia settled when they first moved to Eastern KY.  As I age, I become more and more fascinated with my origins and what my ancestors went through long ago.

Less than eight years till retirement and I'll move back to those mountains.  That will be my home base as I also hope to continue my overseas travels, too.

Migration Patterns

As I continue researching my genealogy, I am picking up on migration patterns into Appalachia that I was not aware of before.  In the past, I assumed the majority of migration into that area came from the Scotch-Irish who were seeking cheap land that was no longer available on the coast.  However, I now see it somewhat differently.  More likely than not, your average migrant went west because he was NOT the first son of a planter family in eastern Virginia and needed to strike out on his own to make his fortune.  You see, "primogeniture" was, by law or custom, still in effect in the colonies and required most of the inheritance to go to the eldest son.  An example of this in my lineage is the case of Moses Ball (1717-1792).  Even though he had several sons, he followed the custom and left most of his estate to the eldest one.  His other sons were left to fend for themselves and most coped with this by moving a little farther west in the Virginia colony.  My 4th great grandfa…

My 'European' Heritage

Wow!  There were a lot of surprises from my genealogical research over the past month.  As mentioned in a previous post, my DNA results indicate more of a 'Continental Europe' influence than a 'British Isles' one.  This was initially confusing since every surname I've ever been aware of was British in nature.  The problem was that I hadn't yet gone back far enough in my research.  I have now researched six generations and found the following surnames in my ancestry:

Father's Branch


Krummholz (Anglicized to Crum)
Schmidt (Smith)
Ries (Reese)
Hermann (Harmon)


Auxier (actually, Alsatian so could also be considered German)


Van Vliet (Van Fleet)

Mother's Branch


Bader (Borders)


Tonnelier (Tunnell)
Brasseuir (Brashears)

As you can see, most of this influence…


A gorge near the town of Garmisch.


The town of Garmisch below as seen from a restaurant.


Another beautiful scene from Garmisch


A friend of mine, who's been living in Germany for the last 20 years or so, sent me this view from his hotel in Garmisch, Germany.  Wish I were there.

Henry Smith (1760-1830)

"" is an amazing resource for researching one's genealogy.  Using this tool, I continue to find interesting items in my own.  Just today, I discovered a lineage I suspected but for which I had no direct proof.  You see, my DNA results indicate more of a German/Scandinavian background with the following breakdown:

Europe West        32%
Great Britain       25%
Scandinavia         19%
Irish                    16%

Compared to my mother's results (with 52% Great Britain), I show a lot of Continental Europe even though almost all of the surnames in my ancestry are British in origin.  Initially, I assumed this was from the fact that many British people are actually descendants of Germanic (Anglo/Saxon/Jute) invaders of the British Isles 1,500 years ago and the test was simply reflecting this.  Also, there is an element of Scandinavian mixed in especially if one's ancestors lived in the north and east of England and Scotland during the "Danelaw" wh…

Baby Birds!

The mother bird is sad because her chicks flew away.  This nest was adjacent to my mother's house.

William Dalton (1666-1722)

I will discuss this ancestor next as 'Dalton' is my mother's maiden name.  Some records list William Dalton as being born in the Virginia colony and others show him as being born in Yorkshire, England.  I believe both are incorrect for the following reasons.  First of all, William's father, Tyrell Dalton, was born, grew up, and died in Cambridgeshire, England.  As a matter of fact, his tomb is located in the St. Vigor's church, Fulbourn in the same shire (county).  Since Tyrell never actually traveled to America, it's obvious that his son would not have been born there.  As for Yorkshire as a possible birth site, this speculation probably comes from reading about the origins of the Dalton family as being in Yorkshire.  The inscription on Tyrell's tomb indicates this origin as well but also makes clear that Tyrell never lived there.

I speculate that William came to the Virginia colony in the late 1600s but there is no way to document this since many of those…

More on John McCoy

I have just a few more observations about this ancestor.  First of all, I am certain he is, in fact, an ancestor of mine as his arrival in America and subsequent line is well documented.  His grandson, William McCoy (1750-1835), was a Revolutionary War veteran and eventually moved to Pike County, Kentucky where he was granted a parcel of land.  He is thought to be the ancestor of all 'McCoys' in Eastern Kentucky and was my 5th great-grandfather.  I grew up in Martin County, Kentucky a former territory of Pike County.

Another observation concerning John McCoy is that he was a 'Jacobite' and initially left Scotland because of a failed rebellion to reinstall King James II on the throne.  I am curious about this because the MacKay clan was notoriously anti-Jacobite so John must have gone against clan policy in supporting the former king.  So, did he leave Scotland for fear of retaliation from the current government or did he flee because of possible clan retribution?  I wo…

Genealogy Notes

I have become obsessed with my genealogy over the past few years and spend a lot of time researching it each week.  Although this is not a genealogy blog, I do want to put items of note on it as I discover them.  I thought one possibility might be putting the names (and whatever back story I might find) of the ancestors in each branch who actually crossed the pond.  After all, this would constitute amazing adventures which is, after all, the subject of this blog.  So, here goes.

I carry the surname of the first individual I will discuss.  His name was John McCoy (changed from MacKay) and he came to Maryland in approximately 1732 after spending roughly 15 years in Belfast.  He originally came from Sutherland County, Scotland in the north of the country.  I copied the following details from a site I found on the internet:

Name: John McCoy Given Name: John Surname: McCoy Sex: M Birth: 1690 in Sutherland Shire, Scotland Death: 1762 in Washington Co., Maryland
Note: The McCoys were in Scot…

"Hidden America: Children of the Mountains"

I found this video yesterday on YouTube and thought I would post the link.  It discusses the enduring poverty in Appalachia, more specifically, that in Eastern Kentucky.  I was very surprised to see that it included interviews from my home county and with some people I actually know.  Although the video 'narrated' the poverty well, neither Diane Sawyer (the lead on this project) nor 20/20 discussed the bigger issues of why the War on Poverty had failed so miserably.  Perhaps in a follow-up segment?  Anyway, here is the link:

Old Churches

I took this picture yesterday in Quihi, Texas.  These are two Lutheran churches in the middle of nowhere in South-Central Texas about 30 minutes West of San Antonio. 

Nijmegen Four-Day March, 1984(6)

Still in Nijmegen, this photo was of one of my best friends in the military.  We thought this was making a statement what with him being in the army.  I lost touch with him as with so many others I served with--remember, this was pre-internet days.

Cute Kitty

I found this guy terrorizing the birds in my backyard yesterday.  He didn't seem to be scared of anything including me!

Taiwan Friends2

Some more pictures of friends in front of a temple in Taipei.

Taiwan Friends

A picture of some of my colleagues in Taiwan right before I returned to the US.

Notre Dame Campus

Here I am standing in front of a monument on the Notre Dame campus in '87.  It's difficult to see but the Hesburgh Library is behind the monument.  I have better pictures of that building elsewhere on this blog.

Another Golden Dome Picture

Another picture taken from a lost roll of film.  This is of the Golden Dome/Administration building at Notre Dame in 1987 when I was a student there.  I can never get enough of this scene.

Nijmegen Four-Day March, 1984 (5)

Another picture from Nijmegen.  My army buddy and I are posing with a soldier from the Italian military.

Nijmegen Four-Day March, 1984 (4)

This is a great picture!  A little Dutch girl came out to offer us some of her bread as we were marching by.  They really appreciated what we represented--a symbol of the allied troops that liberated their country from the Nazis.

DNA Screenshot

Just thought I'd add this since I'm really getting into my genealogy. has a great DNA test that you can associate with others who have also submitted to it.  PS, click on the picture to get a better view.

Nijmegen Four-Day March, 1984 (3)

Here I am with some of my teammates in a pre-march poker game.  Had we known what we were in store for the next day, we might have tried to get more rest.

Nijmegen Four-Day March, 1984 (2)

Prior to the march, teams from various countries had a chance to socialize with other teams.  I believe this group was from Sweden (with the exception of me in the background).

Nijmegen Four-Day March, 1984

Last week, I found some Kodak disc negatives in an old box that I had forgotten about long ago.  I knew they were from the '80s but had no idea what type of pictures might be on them.  The first challenge was finding a photo shop that could scan them since this type of film went out of style in the late '80's.  Fortunately, I did find a shop but they warned me that doing this would be a bit expensive with no guarantee of the pictures' quality or even if they'd come out at all.  Well, I picked them up yesterday and the quality was relatively good.  The subject was also a pleasant surprise as these pictures were taken in 1984 in Nijmegen, Holland during the annual four-day march.  This event occurs in July of every year and both civilians and military teams participate.  As a matter of fact, my army team was chosen after six months of intensive training and being culled from an original group of about 150 to only 12 participants.  I never thought of myself as being …

Taiwan Again

A delicious snack after climbing Da-ken mountain near Taichung, Taiwan.

More Photos On The Way

I was digging through an old box the other day and found some Kodak disc negatives from the '80s.  They were given to me by a friend and included pictures of our army team marching in the Netherlands.  I believe he gave these to me after he had had them developed but I never got around to developing them myself.  Anyway, it took me a few days but I finally found a photo shop that could scan them and make copies for me (albeit a very expensive process).  I'm supposed to pick them up tomorrow so hopefully, they will turn out well.

And The Final One From Carnival

Here is the last one from Carnival '85 in Venice.  I especially like this picture because it shows a good view of the harbor and the Adriatic.

More From Carnival 1985

Another shot from Venice, 1985!

Venice, Italy 1985

It's amazing what you can find in old boxes.  I was digging through one the other day and found this picture of two girls dressed up for Carnival in Venice, 1985.  I was visiting there from my home base in Augsburg, Germany during my time in the army.  Such pictures bring back great memories for me.

Once A Warrior, Always A Warrior!

On the top, Field Station Augsburg Germany in 1983 when I was 21 years old.

On the bottom, just outside Kabul, Afghanistan in 2008 when I was 46.  I'm standing next to a downed MI-24 holding my 9mm.

I'd like to go back but I'm afraid I'd never want to leave!

The Flu2

My mother's cat wishes me well!

The Flu

I have always prided myself on rarely, if ever, missing work even suffering various illnesses while still making it into my job.  Well, this week is hopefully an aberration.  Early Wednesday morning, an outside pipe burst and I had to stay home till someone came and fixed it.  While waiting, I noticed my throat was becoming scratchy which indicates an oncoming cold.  No problem, I thought.  I can easily endure a cold until the weekend.  By Friday morning though, I was at work wearing a coat in 70 degree temps and with chattering teeth!  I ultimately decided to leave work early in order to see the doctor.  What he eventually told me came as a big surprise.  He said I had the flu and a current temperature of 103.1!!!  He also told me the symptoms could have been worse had I not already had a flu shot.  Not only that but he ordered me not to return to work until Tuesday.  Of course, I could endure work tomorrow but will stay home for fear of infecting others if I returned too soon.

Happy New Year!!!

What are my resolutions for this new year?  First, I must try to have a better attitude about my job and the nature of humanity.  The latter is made more difficult since someone stole a UPS-delivered package that was left at my front door.  I must also try to attend church more often; it will give me solace as I watch my country crumble due to political decisions made in Washington.  Finally, I must try to post more on this blog even if I'm not actively traveling at the moment.

I wish the best for all in the coming year!