Episode 440 - Quilt Of Souls: Quilting Traditions And Secrets Of The Enslaved, “How I Got Here” Participants Talk About The Experience

podcast episode Nov 28, 2022

Host Scott Fisher opens the show with David Allen Lambert, Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. The guys begin with news about DNA expert and friend-of-the-show, Diahan Southard, who has landed a hosting role on a new PBS series on DNA and secrets! Fisher and David then talk about some fun recent finds before moving on to “Family Histoire News.” First up… America’s oldest person just celebrated another birthday with her 90-YEAR-OLD daughter on hand! Hear all about it. Then, archaeologists have uncovered the remains of 14 combatants from a Revolutionary battle site in South Carolina. David has more details. Then, AI is now pairing living people who were part of the Holocaust with historic photos they didn’t know existed. And finally, a new database has been created of Japanese-Americans held in camps during World War II. It is remarkable how many names are in it! The guys will tell you.

Then, Fisher visits with author Phyllis Biffle Elmore. Her new book is called “Quilt of Souls: A Memoir.” Phyllis talks about the quilts her older family members taught her to make, and their significance during the time of slavery. It’s a fascinating story of tradition, culture, creativity, and intrigue!

Next, Fisher talks with a Slovakian native who made her own escape… to Canada…in the days of Communism, as well as her daughter. Both are featured on (sponsor) BYUtv’s How I Got Here. Hear all they have to say about their remarkable experience.

David then returns for more of Ask Us Anything.

That’s all this week on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show!


Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert

Segment 1 Episode 440

Fisher: And welcome in, to America’s Family History Show Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com. I am Fisher, your Radio Roots Sleuth on the program where we shake your family tree, and watch the nuts fall out. We have so much going on today, where do we begin? First of all, I’ll tell you that we’ve got a couple of great guests as always. We’re going to be talking later in the show to Vivian and Simona. These were two of the ladies, mother and daughter, who went to Simona’s home country Slovakia on BYUtv’s show called How I Got Here. It’s amazing. It’s emotional. You’re going to want to hear what they have to say about the experience. Plus we’ve got Phyllis Biffle Elmore on. She’s written a book about Quilt Of Souls. This has to do with the Underground Railroad and her ancestors and how they would signal directions on the Underground Railroad using quilts and other methods. It’s absolutely amazing stuff coming up in about ten minutes. And right now let’s just go right to David because David we’ve got so much on our plate today, I don’t know how we’re going to fit it all in. But let’s start with the good news that Diane Southard, our good friend Your DNA Guide is the host of a brand new PBS TV show called Your DNA Secrets Revealed. Actually debuted Saturday the 26th and I’m so excited for her.

David: Yeah, no that’s great. Diane really cuts it down to the basics for anybody to learn about DNA. And she’s been around the lecture circuit for a while. So, I tip my hat to her. I hope that maybe her show influences more people to do DNA testing so we can find more matches out there.

Fisher: Yeah. We’re going to have to get her on to talk about this. This is such good news.

David: And you got some attention recently yourself in the press haven’t you?

Fisher: Well, Nathan Dylan Goodwin, we just had him on the show a couple of weeks ago talking about his new book The Sawtooth Slayer. And if you’re not familiar with him, he writes genealogical thrillers. Now, that seems kind of like a diametrically opposed thing. What it is, is solving cold cases in many cases, but this book is about an active serial killer. And in the middle of this book they have me actually interviewing one of the researchers in this novel.

David: *Sigh*

Fisher: So, find it on page 65 of the book. It’s really quite fun. I got a good laugh out of it.

David: At least you’re not the serial killer.

Fisher: Well, I’m glad he didn’t work me into that role. [Laughs]

David: [Laughs]

Fisher: And you were in Salt Lake City last week David, doing a little work. How did it go?

David: Good. I was out there with 38 people with NEHGS for our annual trip out there. But evenings I have my own time. And you remember the story about a year ago I told you about my third great grandfather in the war of 1812? He was 44. I thought he was an old soldier.

Fisher: Yeah.

David: Well, one of my ancestors came from Connecticut, Steven Sands, fights in the Revolutionary War, for the wrong side. He fights for the Loyalists. No offense to my Canadian friends up there in the North. But then I see that he signs up and fights in the military again being a soldier in the War of 1812 at the age of 63.

Fisher: Ooh.

David:   It’s on the same pension file.

Fisher: [Laughs]

David: So, 44 has nothing on 63.

Fisher: No.

David: I’ll tell you that’s some good gumption to be in it. So, I have a War of 1812 veteran a year later on both sides of the war.

Fisher: That is really fun. And have you ever heard of the Declaration of Dependence, speaking of Loyalists?

David: I have but I don’t know a lot about it. What can you tell me?

Fisher: 1776, November, New York City… it was a group of Loyalist citizens of the city who wrote to Admiral Howe and General Howe pledging their loyalty to the king. And I just found this thing. I’d never heard of it before. And found that my fifth great grandfather Elisha Gallaudet’s brother was on there. So Elisha was a Patriot and his brother was a Loyalist. And speaking of Elisha by the way, with a little work I was able to figure out that his house that he lived in before he fled New York ahead of the British occupation… he went to New Jersey… his house was burned in the Great Fire of 1776 there. I found the burn map of the city and the fire. And using a couple of newspaper ads I was able to pinpoint exactly where his house stood, and it had to have gone down in the fire, so just an amazing little discovery there.

David: Well, usually we don’t mention birthday parties for 90 year olds. Joan Schaffer from Iowa celebrated her birthday, but the amazing thing is, the oldest person in America, her mother, was there. Her mother also recently turned 115, Fish! 

Fisher: Oh! Really?

David: So, Bessie Hendricks from Iowa happy 115 years young.

Fisher: That’s amazing! And her 90 year old daughter was at the party. That’s incredible!

David: Well, going back a few years before that. One of the bloodiest battles of the Revolutionary War was in Camden, South Carolina. Well, the stories are not over because they’ve just excavated, Fish, 14 veterans from that war in the battlefield.  

Fisher: Wow! And as I understand it, two of them were British soldiers, one of them was a Tory, and the other 12 were Patriots. And so they’re finding all kinds of things connected with those bodies, you know buttons, and weapons, it’s amazing the research they’re going to be able to do with this find.

David: It is. I mean, it just goes to show you the text book doesn’t really close on something when you have archeologists in the mi that’s for sure.

Fisher: Right.

David: And now with the technology, we can rediscover history while we still have people alive that remember it. And AI technology is helping an 86 year old woman from New York reconnect with her family photos. This technology is amazing, Fish. Daniel Patt has created a website that is called Numbers to Names. He’s using facial recognition technology to identify people in photos and match them. She had a picture of herself with her family, but this matched a school picture perfectly. 

Fisher: Yeah, from 80 some odd years ago. And she just can’t believe it. And it’s really remarkable to see this story.

David: And she survived the Holocaust. She lost her siblings and her own mother. She was hidden by her aunt. Speaking of World War 2, there is now a book of remembrance that is covering over, ready for this, 125,284 Japanese-Americans who were incarcerated during World War 2 after Pearl Harbor.

Fisher: Yeah. It’s the first name database ever created, and it’s massive, which is an amazing accomplishment.

David: Well, that’s all I have from Beantown this week. Don’t forget, if you’re not a member of American Ancestors, we hope you will become one and use the coupon code EXTREME and save $20 on AmericanAncestors.org on a membership.

Fisher: All right David. He is David Allen Lambert, the Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. Talk to you at the back end of the show David for Ask Us Anything. And coming up next, The Quilt Of Souls. You’re going to want to hear this story about how quilts were used to help escaping slaves get away during the Civil War with my guest Phyllis Biffle Elmore, in three minutes.

Segment 2 Episode 440

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Phyllis Biffle Elmore

Fisher: And welcome back to America’s Family History Show Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com. I am Fisher, your Radio Roots Sleuth, and I am always thrilled to hear about people’s stories, the things they’ve dug up, and some of the things they’ve written. And a brand new book is out written by my next guest Phyllis Biffle Elmore it’s called Quilt Of Souls. It’s a memoir. And first of all Phyllis, welcome to the show. Congratulations on all that you’ve been able to accomplish in getting this book out. It looks fascinating.

Phyllis: Thank you. And thank you for having me. I’m honored to be a guest on your show.

Fisher: Well, look at this. Quilting traditions in Africa, long before slavery, and it all was brought over. First of all, how did you find out about these stories about quilting from your own family?

Phyllis: I’m originally from Michigan, but my parents sent me South to live with my grandparents for about ten years. This was in 1957 and I was four years old. And when I got there, I was with people that I had never met before. My grandmother was a quilter. I found that out later a couple of days after I had been there because she pulled out this old musty quilt that was half sewn, and she put it over me so I could stop shaking because I was shaking, not out of being cold, but out of fear of being in a strange place. So, I found out later on that through the years of living with my grandmother, she made quilts, and she only made quilts from people who had passed on. She wouldn’t mix new material and the fabric of someone who was alive. She wouldn’t put that cloth in her quilts. And the quilt that she gave me that night, it was started by her mother who was an ex-slave. So, when she put that quilt on me over those ten years I was there, she would tell me stories of the quilts that she was making. Because people would come and they would drop off quilts of their relatives that had passed on. And as she sewed, she knew the story of most of the people whose cloths she was making into a quilt. I would look at it and place the finished quilt in that family member’s hand. So, it was almost like talisman because she would say that these quilts would protect these people from harm and danger and it would be with them for the rest of their life. Just like my quilt also, which I have today that my grandmother put pieces of her family members… her mother’s and her aunt’s clothing is in my quilt… and she told me the story of all the pieces of clothing that she put in my quilt. And these were tragic stories. Most of them were tragic. But some of them have very interesting history behind that cloth. And each chapter represents the clothing of that person and what that person meant to my grandmother.

Fisher: I’m thinking that this obviously is a long running tradition in your family, but this must go way back in terms of African American culture, yes?

Phyllis: Yes. It does. It goes back to my grandmother’s mother who was also a quilter, and she made quilts for the slave owners. And also, these quilts were made according to my grandmother and my great grandfather’s stories that they helped slaves escape because they would hang these quilts over fence poles and they would hang them from the trees. The slave master I assume thought that these quilts were drying the reason that they hung the quilts. But actually it was a deeper written meaning for these quilts to be hung on the trees. And I would listen. I would crawl up under the house, because down in the country the houses are way off the ground.

Fisher: Right.

Phyllis: And I would lay up under the house with the chickens and listen to those stories of the escaped slaves and how those quilts guided them to freedom. You know, you had quilts that were blue and they looked like water and waves. And I would listen to them tell the story of the old master and how they fooled them by hanging the quilt out and it threw the master off. So, I grew up with these stories.

Fisher: Isn’t that interesting. So, this would kind of also give them directions to where the next safe house is or the way they should go?

Phyllis: Yes, and the way they should go.

Fisher: The Underground Railroad I guess is what we’re talking about here?

Phyllis: Yes. And I’ve listened to some amazing stories that these old people tell because a lot of people say that it’s folk lore and that it didn’t happen. But if I hadn’t first-person heard these stories I probably would say well, you know, I would probably feel the same way. But to hear these stories and they told them so eloquently with such deep conviction, I know it to be true.

Fisher: Sure. Wow!  So, tell us some more stories that you learned at the feet of your grandmother. Her name was Lula, right?

Phyllis: Lula. Yes. She told me the story, I think one of the most saddest stories, and it was difficult to write. I have to admit, it took me three years to write this book. But every time she told a story of her sister Ella, well, let me go back a little bit. My grandmother’s parents were born around late 1830s, 1840s. And my grandmother had three siblings that were sold in slavery. They were sold while they were still nursing so I’m assuming they were still babies when they were sold. And my grandmother thought that her mother would never have any more kids because she was barren because of her kids being sold in slavery and it was painful.  

Fisher: Of course.

Phyllis: But years later, many years later, my grandmother’s sister Ella came around 1865, 1866, and my grandmother came along in 1883 after my great grandmother thought she wasn’t going to have any kids. But then one night both my great grandparents and my grandmother’s sister Ella all perished as a result of the aftermath of slavery. I won’t tell how, but it was painful. But after that my grandmother’s entire lineage was wiped out because she didn’t know any other relatives, probably because they were scattered about. So, my grandmother was 13 at the time, so she buried her mother, and she buried her sister who was eight, nine years older than my grandmother. And my grandmother was basically on her own at 13 so she worked in houses in Laurel for one of the famous Rogers families. But she was by herself and so she kept quilting and she worked for the Rogers for years. I came along in 1957 and I think she had stopped working for the Rogers somewhere around 1949.

Fisher: Um hmm.

Phyllis: My grandmother told great stories, just that passion for quilting and what the quilt itself was capable of. It’s just like passing down history, that’s why my grandmother made sure that I knew the history of her family and how they were sold away. It’s almost like she was talking in a way that she knew that one day that I would find her family.

Fisher: Yes.

Phyllis: And that’s been the course of my life, to spend my life trying to locate her family.  But people ask me, “How did you remember all those stories?” And I said, the same way I remembered Little Red Riding Hood and The Three Little Pigs.  

Fisher: [Laughs]

Phyllis: And even today I can recite you that entire story. That was the same way with my grandmother’s stories but my grandmother’s stories were true stories and it just remained with me year after year after year.

Fisher: Right.

Phyllis: I was in the military 20 years and I deployed and that’s all I thought about, telling my grandmother’s story. It gave me time to really think…

Fisher: … of course…

Phyllis: … really think about the importance of telling her story because my grandmother took me to the old slave cemetery that sat right across the road from where we lived, maybe about not even half a mile. Well, one day my grandmother took me to that cemetery. And the stones, that was the only way to identify that somebody was buried there because of a rock. One of the rocks had the word “Mammy” written on it. And it was just like, there wasn’t any tombstones that we see today.

Fisher: Yeah, just a name.

Phyllis: Just a name and an old wooden stick with carvings. But she said, she pointed to those graves, this is something I will remember for the rest of my life, she said, “You see these people laying here? These are the best stories you aint never heard, and don’t you ever forget that, child.”

Fisher: Oh!

Phyllis: And I remembered that.

Fisher: So Phyllis, tell us about this never worn wedding dress that was worked into this old quilt that you have.

Phyllis: Well, my grandmother’s sister Ella, the one I was talking about who was killed as a result of a slave master’s anger and it was very, very brutal. And she was due to get married and leave the slave master, and I won’t tell you why, there’s a long story behind that, but he wanted her to remain. So, my grandmother’s sister Ella was supposed to marry a boy who basically was raised not far from the plantation where my great grandparents lived and my grandmother at the time. And the slave master did not want my great aunt Ella to leave, my grandmother’s sister Ella. So, he basically destroyed her. And one night he took her life. And as a result, my grandmother’s mother, passed away out of hurt.

Fisher: Sure.

Phyllis: She just had a heart attack and died on the same night. And I won’t tell you about my great grandfather. You could read about that. But my great aunt Ella was due to be married to this guy who came back from New York to get her, and the slave master did not want her to leave so he killed her. And my grandmother wiped her face with the wedding dress.

Fisher: Ugh.

Phyllis: And that wedding dress is in my quilt. And you can still see the stains that won’t wash away that are pieced of my great aunt Ella’s dress in my quilt.

Fisher: Wow! What year was she killed, Phyllis?

Phyllis: This was around 1899, 1898.

Fisher: Wow! And what a piece of history you’ve got in this quilt.

Phyllis: Yes.

Fisher: You know, I’ve had quilt stories on before but yours tell stories like I’ve never heard before. Absolutely unbelievable! The book is called Quilt Of Souls - a memoir written by my guest Phyllis Biffle Elmore. And you’ve got a little taste of what’s to be found in that book. It’s out right now. Where can they get the book Phyllis?

Phyllis: They can order it on my website through Amazon at www.thequiltofsouls.com or they can go directly to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Target, Walmart. They’re sold in various bookstores. But if they want it directly, I would suggest either through my website or Amazon.

Fisher: Very nice. Thanks so much for your time. Great stories! And good luck with the book. I’m sure it’s going to be a big seller for you.

Phyllis: Thank you. Thank you for having me.

Fisher: You know, everybody has a story, and those stories tend to last a long time, especially when they come from tragedy, slavery, the Holocaust. And coming up next, you’re going to meet a couple of people who took a trip back to the mother’s home country, Slovakia, because she had to escape from communism. And you’re going to want to hear how she did it, and the reaction of her daughter in this brand new episode from BYUtv, our sponsors coming up next when we return in five minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.

Segment 3 Episode 440

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Simona and Vivian Sasova

Fisher: Hey, welcome back to Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here. I’m so excited when we get a new sponsor on that has such an incredible product such as BYUtv’s show “How I got Here” and if you haven’t seen it yet, it’s available for streaming on all the usual places and certainly from BYUtv.org. Let me give you a little background about How I Got Here, yes, it’s a travelogue in one sense, but it’s also an amazing family history show in the process. This is where the younger generation gets to see where the older generation came from, typically from across the pond and the circumstances that caused them to leave and come over here. And so, the younger generation discovers the culture and the background of the parent and in this case, it’s Vivian and Simona Sasova from Slovakia. And Simona, you were the immigrant to Canada, and you got to take your daughter Vivian over to Slovakia, and show her where you came from and go through your whole story. And having seen the episode, first of all, as I always tell people, you better have some Kleenex close by because these stories are really emotional.

Simona: Yes, that is very true. It has been a life changing experience, absolutely amazing. I was so happy and proud and humbled at the same time to be able to show Vivian part of the life that she had never known, part of my life and really where she comes from, to understand where her roots are from and to discover more about herself.

Fisher: I can imagine. Now, let’s talk about Slovakia, at that time it was under Communist rule, so you were dealing with a very difficult situation, but you kind of came up with an escape plan by essentially creating this fake trip to Cuba that’s going to have a stopover in Montreal, and this was an escape place for many people. And in the show, you kind of recreate exactly how this happened. And the fact that you were actually tailed by somebody to try to prevent you from defecting, let’s talk about that.

Simona: Yes. I was very lucky. First of all, I will start saying that not many were as lucky as I was. So as mentioned, during Communism it was impossible to go to any Western country. People tried different ways and some succeeded, many did not. I knew through a grapevine really about this way that people were buying the whole trip location to go to Cuba, and the plane would fly from Prague to Havana, but many times it would stop in Montreal to refuel. So, I owned the savings from my family, the trip was extremely expensive and something completely unaffordable, but I got the support and we purchased the ticket. And first before even going on it I had to have permission from the school, from the doctor, and they’re kind of vouching for me that I was not going to escape. And then once I was on the plane, I soon discovered, and I was warned a little bit about it, that there could be people from state government, secret agents onboard, that will be watching for people like me trying to escape because this was one of the ways to go. And sure enough, the person like that was sitting right next to me on the plane.

Fisher: Ugh!

Simona: Yes. I was so stressed and I was so scared just sitting there. I didn’t want to say something that would reveal what I was about to do.

Fisher: How old were you at the time?

Simona: I was 18.

Fisher: Ohh!

Simona: Yeah, I was very young, maybe that helped too, but it was very difficult because of course I had to leave my family and I did not know when I was going to see them. I heard of some families that had members that escaped and they have not seen them for many years, 20 years I’m talking about. So that was very difficult. But, once we landed in Montreal they took us to a transit hall for us to be there for about an hour I would say while the plane was being refueled. That was the policy at the time that the passengers could not stay onboard. From there, this is what I heard, that you escape from there, but I didn’t know where to go and I tried to first hide in a washroom. But the door was kind of like saloon doors they did not go all the way down and there were people using the washrooms, so it was not a good idea. So, I just stepped out and I was pacing around and this guy that was sitting next to me, he came to me and he said, “Canada does not accept anymore political refugees.” I was so scared. Suddenly this commissioner looked at me and he said, “Do you want to stay in Canada?” I said, “Yes!” I remember just following him and he opened his door and there was kind of a red line on the floor and I crossed it, this is when I realized, I did it. I immigrated. I was free!

Fisher: At that moment?

Simona: At that moment, yes. That was a decisive and most significant moment and I still could hear the guy yelling down to me, “Simona, come back!” and he was taking pictures and all this. But I suddenly felt like I was stepping into a new world.

Fisher: Wow, what an incredible story! And Vivian, this was probably a new story to you, too, because as I understand from the TV show, you really didn’t know that much about your mom’s background.

Vivian: Yeah, I had no idea. And that’s why I take it so to heart this journey we went on because 22 years, I said, we live together, everyday we’re together and not once did we talk about it. Not once did I even ask to hear the whole story. So, it was really eye opening and just now I know everything.

Fisher: And how was that for you to go over to Slovakia, and take in the places that she had grown up and meet some of her family?

Vivian: It was really incredible. I met some people that I’ve never met before. And even though now with social media it’s still very hard to get in touch with those people, especially they’re older and they don’t use all the social media that we use. So, it was really amazing to get in touch with them and even also hearing it from them and how they thought about the whole thing and what they knew and what they didn’t. It was just so amazing and now I know all of this and now I’m even more in touch with them. It was just an incredible experience.

Fisher: So, I saw this scene with you guys in a shop where you were trying on some traditional Slovakian clothes and your mom offered to buy that for you. I thought that was quite a moment for you because it seemed to me at that moment you were embracing your culture.

Vivian: Yes definitely. I mean, the whole time since the first second that I walked in the store, I just fell in love with the colors, with the dresses, and myself being a dancer, before it was like, okay I really need to have this and I was already thinking about, okay, can’t forget I need to ask the lady how much they cost. I need to ask how can I ship one to Canada. So, when she told me, okay no, this one is yours. And especially after knowing how it’s important in the Slovak culture and how it’s important for a woman to own one of these. It was just such a beautiful moment. I wear it all the time. And every family gathering we have I put it on. It’s an honor to have one.

Fisher: You kind of feel Slovak now.

Vivian: I really do feel 100% Slovak, yes.

Fisher: That’s really interesting. So Simona, was this your first time back since you defected?

Simona: No, no, I went back a couple of times. It was very different this time. First of all, because it was with Vivian and I pretty much went there and visited some family but not really my friends. So for example, seeing my friends from high school after 30 something years since I escaped was just wonderful. It really brought me back to the time when we were in school together.

Fisher: It seems like for you, Simona, this was a healing trip and for Vivian it was kind of enlightenment. Is that true ladies?

Simona: That is excellent. Yes, exactly! Excellent description.

Vivian: Perfectly said.

Fisher: Well, for people who want to see this show and this episode in particular, the show is How I Got Here. It’s on BYUtv and you can see it online. It’s easy to get and stream it. Check it out and enjoy the show. And ladies, thanks for coming on. It’s very emotional and really interesting to see. And it was a real thrill to get to talk to you guys.

Simona: Thank you very much. It was our pleasure.

Vivian: Thank you for having us.

Fisher: And coming up next, it’s time to answer your questions on Ask Us Anything with me and David Allen Lambert when we return in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.

Segment 4 Episode 440

Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert

Fisher: It is time once again for Ask Us Anything on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show. I am Fisher, that's David Allen Lambert over there from Boston. Say Hi, Dave.

David: Hello there!

Fisher: And we have our first question from Kari-Ann in Nashville, Tennessee. She says, "Dave and Fish, I know my great grandfather had a mortuary in Boise, Idaho in the late 19th century and early 20th century. Where can I find records on his business? Thanks for all you do. Kari-Ann."

David: Well, Kari-Ann, if you listen to our show, you probably have heard our suggestion… eBay… and you might not think about eBay as an option, but if he had a business card or billhead or records or even an account book, that's top dollar for collectibles all day long. And you could put a search in eBay for that company name and your great grandfather's name and the place and you may find matches.

Fisher: Yeah.

David: So that's one thing.

Fisher: It’s great you mention that, Dave. I actually found an invoice to my great grandfather's business in New York from the 1870s and it was 28 bucks! I mean, these people know that if you're interested in it, it’s because you're either interested in the field or a specific company. And I have that search term on eBay and then if something comes in that matches it, then that generates an email to you and you could obtain that item. I was shocked there were actually four of them that were on sale. And so, I got what I wanted and then notified some other descendants and they went out and got the rest.

David: And the other thing which is pretty obvious, city directories, newspapers and of course, with more newspapers being indexed like Newspapers.com, you can search through a city directory on Ancestry.com. There's so many different ways you can do this from the comfort of your own home, where 25, 30 years ago, you'd have to get into the car and go crank through microfilm or...not saying that that's still not my fun, but there's a little more road trip involved, maybe go find out where the business was and see if the building's still there.

Fisher: Well, and what the obituaries, Dave? I mean, wouldn't a mortuary have an ad near the obits?

David: Absolutely. And the other thing about old funeral homes and mortuaries, Fish, sometimes they're purchased by other companies.

Fisher: True that.

David: So therefore you could find that there's a successor business. In my town, we've had the same funeral home since 1860.

Fisher: Huh! Same name?

David: It’s slightly different, but part of the original name is still there.

Fisher: Interesting. In Salt Lake City, the state historical society has a whole section devoted to one particular funeral home from the beginning of the last century and it has photographs in there, invoices. In fact, I found all the records on the death of one of my second great grandparents on my mother's side. I was just amazed! I mean, I could see the cost of his coffin, the cost of the burial site, the cost of the carriage which carried his body and those who went with him on the trip. So, I mean, every last detail was in there. And I just thought that was unbelievable.

David: The other thing is, reach out to your cousins, Kari-Ann, you never know who has what in their attic. So, the business closed up, maybe the youngest child got the business records and it’s still sitting in the barn now.

Fisher: Yeah and the youngest is often the one, because of the fact that they're still in the house the longest, right?

David: That's true.

Fisher: And so they wind up with all those things. Otherwise, sometimes it’s the child that kind of takes over, which is sometimes the oldest person, right?

David: That's very true. So, the other thing is, look up your undertaker himself and see what funeral parlor they used for his funeral, because maybe that's the one that bought out his company.

Fisher: [Laughs]

David: Possible.

Fisher: No, I like the way you're thinking there. That's just sometimes how it goes. You've got to think out of the box and figure these things out. So, that is a great question, Kari-Ann. And thanks, you really got us noodling on this whole thing. And there are some ideas that you might come up with as well as you consider what you're looking for. So, best of luck in your search. And coming up next, we've got another question about shopping for the holidays and what we might be able to give to people in the family history world, coming up next when we return in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show.

Segment 5 Episode 440

Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert

Fisher: All right, here we go for our final segment of Ask Us Anything on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show. And David, this question comes from Dallas, Texas. Cole is asking, "Guys, since we're getting close to the holidays, what are some really cool family history related gifts that I could give?" Yeah, the list is pretty long for this one, isn't it? [Laughs]

David: Well and salute to our friend, Diane, get a DNA test! [Laughs]

Fisher: Yes, a DNA test for somebody for somebody would be great. I can't tell you how many people I've helped with DNA test results when they got a test for the holidays and they didn't know what to do with it. So, they love getting those things. How about SnapFish.com? Have you been there?

David: I love it. I use it for all my autograph things, making up pictures to send out. But I know you can use it for other things.

Fisher: Yeah, I recently actually created mugs using ancestral pictures and buildings and places and times and created mugs for four different family members including myself, one coffee mug with a picture of my great grandfather's coffee, tea and spice business in New York on it from the 1870s, along with the invoice we talked about in the last segment, pictures of the partners who were the brothers, some letterhead and pictures of some of some of the spice cans they created, and this wraps all the way around the coffee mug. And so, when I drink my hot chocolate, it's all right there for me to look at. I really enjoy having it. And then I made one for my brother, my sister, my cousin, all devoted to things that they love. And they're just blown away by it. They're just 16 bucks to make a 15 ounce mug and about $8 to ship it. But it's quick and easy and you don't have to ship it. They'll do it for you. And I think it's just a great thing to do and very easy to make.

David: Well, I'll drink to that. That's great.

Fisher: Yes. [Laughs]

David: And another thing we always talk about, eBay. Think about buying something historic, as cheap as a penny postcard of an old school.

Fisher: Yeah.

David: Maybe the hospital that your cousin was born in for their 80th birthday. Or, you know, something of the scene of the downtown area where you might have a cousin who lived in a small town of what it looked like back then. Get that penny postcard. And if you get it quick enough from eBay, turn it around with Snap Fish and turn it into a postcard on a coffee mug or on a towel or, you know, whatever. You know, I mean, it's amazing. You could print anything. You can make drapery if you wish.

Fisher: [Laughs] That's true.

David: Bed sheets, blankets.

Fisher: It's an amazing place.  And you know, you can also get posters with the family trees on it or descendancy charts, including photos of your people. Obviously our friends over at Family Chart Masters do a great job with that kind of thing. And so many choices in terms of design with that.

David: That's very true.

Fisher: And it’s really amazing how many things they can do in poster land these days, so you ought to check that out. Of course we're running out of time for some of these things, because those companies are going to get flooded with so many requests to create art. You really have to get on that right away.

David: Well, on that note, then why not make a 2023 calendar with the ancestral pictures.

Fisher: Yep. Those are great. We've done that before. Ancestral photos, you can clean them up with Photoshop, make a nice copy, have it framed. How about this, David, a subscription to a well known website like Ancestry.com?

David: Exactly. Or if you have Ancestry.com, give them an add on, like Newspapers.com or Fold3.

Fisher: Yeah.

David: I salute that anytime.

Fisher: Yeah, absolutely. So there are really a lot of different things you can do. Just look around and kind of figure out what they are interested in or what they might be interested in going forward, and go from there. So, you know, as you can see,  there's a lot of stuff you can do for the holidays, but you've got to get on it right now, because we're getting awfully close, especially for some of those things that might require a little extra work. So, thanks for the question, Cole. And David thanks for being here as always.

David: Ah, my pleasure.

Fisher: And we will talk to you next week.

David: All right, until then.

Fisher: All right, and thanks once again to our guests, Phyllis Biffle Elmore, author of Quilt Of Souls, an amazing story she told, and Vivian and Simona from BYUtv's How I Got Here. If you missed any of the show, of course catch the podcast on TuneIn Radio, iHeart Radio, ExtremeGenes.com, Spotify… we are all over the place. Thanks for joining us. We'll talk to you again week. And remember, as far as everyone knows, we're a nice, normal family.


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