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Throw Back Thursday – Harris Siblings

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I love this photo of my grandmother, Edna, with her siblings.

Left to Right: JD Harris, Edna (Harris) Higginbotham, Maudie (Harris) Chapman, Magdalene (Harris) Griffin, James Harris, Oscar Harris and Mittie Lou (Harris) Brock.

Harris Siblings

Harris Siblings

How much is your finger worth?

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To my grandfather Earl Higginbotham, his finger was worth $307.04 back in 1919, when he was about 19 years old.

I came across these two letters from the U.S. Railroad Administration in the last batch of letters my Uncle Charlie gave me.

Then I found this reply from Earl’s father, Rufus F. Higginbotham Jr. to Mr. Jim McPhetridge of the US. Railroad Administration settling for the amount of $307.04.

I never knew my grandfather worked for the Railroad. I had found several pictures and postcards of his from when he was in Kansas City, but I had no idea what he was doing there.

After I found these letters I asked my Dad if he knew that his father Earl had worked for the Railroad, and if knew about any injury, and he replied, “Oh yes! I sure did. Daddy worked for the Railroad and one evening they stopped the boxcars in Mena. Daddy grabbed the side of the boxcar and jumped down, his ring caught on something on the boxcar, and his ring ripped his finger off. He could not get any help until they got back in Texarkana, and he lost his finger.”

I had never noticed in any of the pictures of my grandfather that his finger was missing, so I went back through them all, and I found only two photos in which you can tell his finger is missing.

Just looking at this one without knowing the story, I would have thought it was just tucked under.

This is my grandfather with my father’s first cousin, Lou Ann Brock Brown, you can see his finger is missing in this one really well.

I love finding these letters, I love the fact that the first letter up above, even mentions Earl’s grandfather, Justice Higginbotham, and about all the places that he tried to find my grandfather at.

Thank you, Uncle Charlie! These letters are a true treasure!


Project Life – From the Past to the Present

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Last year my Dad’s cousin Debbie let me borrow three journals that her mother, Mittie Lou, my father’s maternal Aunt had written.  They were from 1943, 1945, and 1946.  She had written in several more, but she had a fire in her home that had started in the room where the journals were, and only these three were spared by the fire.  My father grew up on a family farm that his paternal family had lived on for generations; in fact they had a 99 year lease on the land.  There were 19 houses on this land during various times.  Many of my grandmother’s family lived there on the farm after my grandparents married.  Mittie Lou was one of them, and she wrote in these journals faithfully.  I was able to catch glimpses of my father’s life through Mittie Lou’s eyes from when my father was 9, 11, and 12 years old.  What a treasure!!  I learned so much about my grandparents, the cousins, aunts and uncles, how farm life was and about rationing during the war, and so on, and so on.   Here’s a picture of Mittie Lou, with my Aunt Jane, and my father Rufus:

Lou Jane Higginbotham Starks, Mittie Lou Harris Brock, Rufus Earl Higginbotham, Jr.

Here is a page from Mittie Lou’s journal.  We were able to use this page to locate the date information for my 2nd great grandmother, Alice Herring Harris.  Until I read this, we were only able to locate her death year from her headstone.

Diary of Mittie Lou Harris, 1945

A couple months prior to getting Mittie Lou’s diaries, my Aunt Jane gave me a huge tub of old photos and other memorabilia that I have mentioned on here before.  One of the things in the tub was an old diary that belonged to my grandfather, Earl Higginbotham.  The diary didn’t give me any obvious clues like Mittie Lou’s had, but what a treasure to see how he lived in 1920.  I was able to find out little things, like he called his father “Papa”, and his mother “Mama”, and how hard he worked on the farm.  I also learned that he played the guitar, and the fiddle.  Here’s a page of his diary:

Earl Higginbotham, Diary 1920.

Their journals inspired me to start keeping a journal for my children to have one day.  I didn’t write in it faithfully like Mittie Lou, but I did manage to do it quite a bit.  Three to Five times a week on average and I even printed out little wallet size pictures and taped them in there when I had a picture to go with what I was writing.  I even wrote letters to my children that they will find some day when I’m gone.  Here’s an example of my diary, I picked a page where there wasn’t journaling.


My journal from 2011

A few months ago, I became aware of Project Life from following Elise’s blog.  If you don’t know what project life is, you can get the details here.  Elise’s pages were amazing, and I started thinking I could sure spice up my journal this year.  This year I am also doing the 52 weeks of personal genealogy, which you can find out about here.  Instead of posting them on the blog, I have been doing them privately, but this got me to thinking (I know, it doesn’t happen often people) and I have decided to incorporate the 52 weeks of personal genealogy into a family history project life book.  I mean let’s face it, every day I am digging up my family history, which makes it a part of my present.  So I made this project life page as an example of how you can combine your present, with your past and make a beautiful treasure to pass down to future generations.

Family History Project Life - Earl and Edna Higginbotham

Here’s a digital version of this page, maybe you can see it better:

Project Life Digital Page - Earl and Edna Higginbotham

I have also gotten into the habit of printing out my blog posts and keeping them in a binder so that I have a record of the happenings on my blog.  Since I am always posting things about my family, I want to make sure and not lose those memories either.  I will also incorporate those posts into my family history project life.

Here’s a gander at my personal project life page:

Reynolds Family Project Life - 2012

I’m by no means a scrapbooker, and prior to this I have only used photoshop to restore old family photos.  I’m here to tell you, scrapbooking in photoshop is a whole other ball game.  It has taken me all day to do this one page.  I’m sure I will get faster as I build skills.  Part of my problem has been working around ancient printing equipment that is not really meant for this, but I managed to get by.

I want to give a big thank you to Elise for turning me on to project life.  She’s given me a great way to preserve my family history, and made me realize I can make it interesting for future generations, and hopefully my kids will hang on to this stuff after I am gone, instead of burying it with me, or throwing it into the nearest dumpster.

I would be remiss if I didn’t also thank my Great Aunt Mittie Lou, and my grandfather Earl for inspiring me, even though they have been gone for years, their “Project Life” journals continue to impact our lives.

Stayed tuned for more family history Project life pages!



Cousins Party

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Wednesday found us in Texarkana, Arkansas and Texas, visiting family and celebrating the holidays.  First we went to see Aunt Jane in the nursing home.

Then we went to Nedra’s for a cousin’s party.  My Dad hasn’t seen some of his cousins in years, so he really enjoyed it.  I of course, had to get them all together for photo opportunities.  Here’s a picture of the Harris cousin’s as children, and as adults.  Some of them are no longer with us, and Pat had to leave early and missed the picture.

Here is a couple of group shots, with everyone that came except for Pat Harris Sherrin who left early, and Jon Brock and his family, who arrived after the photo was taken.  I’m sorry I didn’t get one with everyone.

Two different photos for two different photo takers, next time I will remember the tripod!

It was a fun time, and a special Thank you to Nedra and Jerry for having us all in your home.

Christmas Traditions for the Harris’ and families

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First off, just let me say that I’ve been enjoying all the Christmas posts from the Geneabloggers.  While I haven’t had time to do the daily blogging on the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories, it gave me a great idea. My mother has always talked about her family and the things they did while she was growing up, but I don’t know one thing about my Dad’s Christmases.

I took those blog suggestions and interviewed my father, on camera.  It was awesome!!!  The interview went great, and it prompted me to go back and look through some of my grandmothers photo’s for Christmases past.  Prepare for picture overload.

First, the men would eat. That’s Uncle James back there grinning like a Cheshire Cat.  Oscar is on the right, and on the left looking at the back of Uncle Doc’s head, and my grandfather on the right, Earl’s head.  But lookout fella’s, I think Ruby was hungry and didn’t want to wait.   Looks like she’s just going to grab it right from the bowl.

Since you guys seem to be in no hurry, the girls are going to stand behind you and try to send you secret mind signals to get up from the table so they can get your food. Mary Helen, Ruby, and Lou Jane, are going to burn a bald spot on the back of your heads Oscar and Audie with their x-ray eyes!  And, they think it’s funny!

See, I told you!!  The men cleared a path and Aunt Sis moved right in!  Follow her ladies, like Mary Helen did.  Lou Jane is on the left explaining to Audie how long it will take for the hair to cover the spot on the back of his head, and Major and Doc weren’t fazed at all.  You gotta bring it better than that girls, to get them outta the food!  I think Earl might be scared though, he’s watching Lou Jane hoping she won’t zap him next.

Mittie Lou runs in and says, “If I kiss you Daddy will you get up and let me have some food?” By the look on his face, I would say it’s about to be your turn girls!  Uncle Doc is about to take his last bite anyway!

Way to go Ladies!!  Glad you got your turn.  I mean you deserve it, after all the hard work preparing the food, you should get to eat.  I hope it was still warm after those slow pokey men.

Now that the eating is over with, how about “Rockin’ around the Christmas Tree” for a while.  We gotta work this food off!!

Lou Ann says “Enough of this, let’s do gifts!!”

Nedra’s a little overwhelmed by all the gifts, so I think she is going to call some folks in for some help.

Pat and Billy are not sure what’s up with the adults, I mean for real, cut the chit chat and let’s start ripping some paper!!  Audie, Rhodean, Uncle Doc, and Grandpa Major and Big Momma Mollie are just waiting for someone to hand them out!

Aunt Sis to the rescue again.  She’s gotta keep it moving, keep those gifts flowing people!!

Ok children, you have waited long enough.  The surprise guest is about to make his appearance.  But be warned, I think the snow at the North Pole is really bright, cause Santa, I mean the surprise guest, looks like he’s been baking in a tanning bed, and we all know you didn’t have those back in the day!

“Ho! Ho! Ho!  I hope I brought someone some Aloe Vera, cause I need you to re-gift it back to me.  My face is burned.  Maybe it’s from the glare on the snow, or the wind from my fast flying reindeer’s, but seriously, I need a volunteer.  Who wants to rub some Aloe Vera on my face?”

“Now wait just a minute lady, you don’t have to jump in that fella’s lap, and there’s no need to hold me back.  Ole’ Santy will get Mrs. Santy to do it later.  We gotta get this party moving anyway!”

“Well little lady, I think Burton Hillis said it right when he said ‘The best of all gifts around any Christmas tree:  the presence of a happy family all wrapped up in each other.”

So that is how my Dad spent his Christmas when he was growing up.  And by the way, the picture right above, that young man to the left of Santy is my Dad, Rufus Higginbotham.  My Mom is sitting next to him.  She was Mary Helen Parks at the time.

Here they are again, my parents:

And here’s my Dad with his cousin Ruby:

I have such a nice looking family.  I bet they had some really good times on Christmas Eve.  I know I did.

Here is me with my grandmother Edna:

And here’s my grandmother many years later.  She had eyes as blue as the sky.  I love her and miss her.

So there’s my walk down Christmas memory lane.  I hope you all enjoy the pictures.  I know I did, and if I hadn’t interviewed Dad, I would have never thought about looking for his photo’s or learning about his Christmas traditions.


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