Armistice Centennial

US_Flag_BacklitExactly one hundred years ago today, on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, an armistice was signed with Germany to cease fighting the Great War. One year later, on November 11, 1919, President Woodrow Wilson declared that the day would be called Armistice Day, to honor those who fought in World War I. More than three decades later—after the “war to end war” gave way to World War II and then the Korean War—the holiday was renamed Veterans Day, and was intended as a day to honor all veterans of the U.S. armed forces.

In today’s post I’d like to honor all of my family members who served in defense of our country.

This is a revised version of a post I did five years ago. Since then, some family members have died, and I’ve discovered twenty-seven additional family members who served our country. Note that I have included only relatives who served the United States or the colonies that would eventually become the United States.

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Happy Father’s Day, 2018

Happy Father’s Day to all the fathers out there, whether living or amongst the ancestors.

My own father, Keith V. Black, died a little over two years ago. I miss him sorely, but he left a lifetime of memories that will keep him forever alive in my heart and in the hearts of those who loved him. My dad was a complex person with several sides to his personality. He was always young at heart—in many ways, he was a teenager well into his seventies. He was an outdoorsman, an enthusiastic participant in the car culture of 1950s Van Nuys, an aspiring photographer, a businessman, an enthusiastic early adopter of technology (he computerized his business in 1978), a passionate fan of music of all genres, an artist, an avid learner, a solitary recluse, and an outgoing man who made friends wherever he went.

He was also a father who was terribly proud of his kids. We may not have always known just how proud he was of us, but as I’m going though his papers I’m learning just how much he defined himself as being the proud father of two children he loved more than we knew.

Here are a few shots that capture my dad doing what he loved more than almost anything else—being a dad. Continue reading

Mayflower descendancy, part 4

Today’s post is an update on my quest to join the General Society of Mayflower Descendants (or “Mayflower Society).

I mailed off my application, fees, and dues to the Society of Mayflower Descendants in the Sate of California on May 1, and hope to hear back from them with a worksheet in the coming week.

I finally received the two Washington birth certificates I wrote away for (for my father and paternal grandmother), and I’ve got to say I’m a bit disappointed in the results. Whereas previously I’ve gotten a certified photocopy of the actual record, this time I was only given incomplete transcripts of the originals. I suppose they’re trying to prevent undue wear and tear on the originals, but it’s still disappointing. Continue reading

Mayflower descendancy, part 3

Today’s post will be a short one to update you on my quest to join the General Society of Mayflower Descendants (or “Mayflower Society). In part two of this series, I mailed off my Preliminary Review Form for the California Mayflower Society and sent off requests for four certified birth certificates. I got a phone call on Tuesday from Thurston County, Washington, saying that two of those birth certificates were on their way, but I haven’t received them yet.

What I did receive just yesterday was the oldest of the four birth certificates that I’ve so far requested—from 1860. I thought this would be the hardest of the four to secure, yet I received it first. Without further ado, here it is: Continue reading

Mayflower descendancy, part 2

As I mentioned in my first post on this topic, I applied last Fall for preliminary review to join the General Society of Mayflower Descendants (“Mayflower Society”). According to the response to my preliminary review:

Contacting the state society of your choice as to full requirements in proceeding to membership would be the potential applicant’s next best step.  The historian of the Mayflower Society in the state where you reside will also receive a copy of this lineage review so that they will also be aware of your interest.

I’ve just filled out the Preliminary Review Form for the California Mayflower Society and put it in an envelope along with the requested self-addressed stamped envelope, so I figure I’ll get a head start on gathering and organizing the required documentation. What exactly constitutes “required documentation” is left intentionally vague in the response I received from the genealogist at the National headquarters of the Mayflower Society: Continue reading

Mayflower descendancy, part 1

I find myself languishing in the genealogical doldrums after a few months of inactivity, and I need a project to put some wind back in my sails. As it so happens, I finally heard back from the General Society of Mayflower Descendants (GSMD or just “Mayflower Society”) about their preliminary review of my application, which was based on my pedigree showing descent from Mayflower passenger John Alden, as well as his wife Priscilla Mullins, and her parents William Mullins and Alice Atwood.

The genealogist performing the preliminary review stated that the first six generations of my submitted pedigree—from John Alden (ca. 1599–1688) to Seth Vinton (1756–1853)—had been conclusively proven by earlier genealogists, so I would not have to re-establish those facts. What I would have to do, however, is conclusively establish my direct descent from Seth Vinton in order to qualify for membership in the Mayflower Society.

My goal is to join well in advance of the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower’s sailing from the Old World to the New World in Fall, 1620. I would like to celebrate the 400th anniversary of that voyage knowing that I’ve proven my descent from passengers on the Mayflower.

So six generations have been taken care of for me by others, but I have to document the last eight generations to a standard of proof acceptable by the Mayflower Society. Let’s go! Continue reading

Vernon’s WWII family photo wallet

For this Veteran’s Day post, I’ll be looking at an artifact that illuminates the early relationship between two veterans in my family—one who served during WWII, and one who was still two decades away from serving and was too young to understand the sacrifices his father and his family were making.

This post is about a wallet of loose photos that my grandfather, Vernon C. Black, carried with him during World War II to remind him of his family back home. My grandmother, Dorothy R. (McMurry) Black, took the photos, captioned them, and mailed them in letters she sent almost daily (most of which still survive and will undoubtedly be the topic of a series of blog posts in the future). She also cared for the wallet and photos for decades and thoughtfully left a note giving a brief history of the wallet.

This photo wallet was carried by Vernon Curtis Black with these pictures in it during WWII (carried in his right hip pocket.) —Dorothy R. Black

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Keith Black’s early childhood (1942-1949)

Keith at 16 months

This series of posts will provide a chronological overview of the life of my father, Keith Black (1942–2016), who passed away on March 8, 2016. My aim in this first installment is to give an overview of his first seven years, from his birth and early childhood in Washington state to his entering elementary school after his family moved to Santa Barbara, California.

If you have any stories to share about my father, whether privately or stories I could share publicly, I would be grateful. Please do so by leaving a comment below (comments stay private until I publish them).

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In memoriam: Keith Black (1942-2016)

Details on my father’s memorial service will be posted here in the coming weeks.

You can also sign Keith’s guestbook and see his obituary here.

I’m writing a series of posts on the chapters of my father’s life. Links to these are below. One thing I’m realizing as I write these is that I know little or nothing about large chunks of my father’s life. If you’d like to share any memories or stories to help fill holes in my father’s story, whether privately or for inclusion in a biographical post, please do so by leaving a comment below.

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Happy Easter, 2014!

1971-04- Easter on Hamlin (10)I’d like to wish all of my family, old and new, near and far, a wonderful Easter and happiness throughout the Spring.

Because I couldn’t find any vintage Easter-related photos that I haven’t already used (I went a little overboard with last year’s Easter post), I’ll leave you with a few Easter photos of me, my sister Jill, my mother Polly, my father Keith, my uncle Gary, my grandmother Dorothy McMurry Black and my grandfather Vernon C. Black taken by by father at my grandparents’ home at 13846 Hamlin Street, in Van Nuys, California, on Easter Sunday, April 11, 1971.

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