Monday, August 31, 2009

Founded in 1923

Ye olde genealogy database brought it to the attention of yours truly that it was on this date back in 1923 that his great-grandparents were married in Orlando, Florida.

A little internet surfing revealed that was a banner year for new beginnings around this little corner of heaven, not just the next chapter in the Morgan family history.

1923 also saw:

* The construction of Orlando's first public library building, thanks to the donation of a generous winter resident named Albertson.

* The opening of Dubsdread Golf Course in College Park.

* The completion of the State Bank of Orlando building downtown.

* The first spring training game at the new baseball field named for local legend Joe Tinker, of "Tinker-to-Evers-to-Chance" fame.

* The founding of an impressive municipal utilities complex along the south shores of Lake Ivanhoe.

Unfortunately, all of these foundations proved somewhat shaky over the long run. My great-grandparents' marriage ended abruptly and tragically in 1927. And, the municipal institutions didn't fare much better:

* The original library was replaced by one of the most hideous structures in the country, and dropped the generous Mr. Albertson's name in the process.

* Dubsdread failed during the Great Depression and had to be taken over by the city government.

* The State Bank of Orlando doesn't exist anymore.

* Tinker Field has for years been sitting largely unused in the shadow of the Citrus Bowl during Spring Training.

* And, the municipal utility building was long ago taken over by the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts.

Kinda makes you wonder what the fate will be of all the big brainchild projects currently underway in The City Beautiful, doesn't it?

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Sunday, August 30, 2009

The key to perseverance?

Over the years, a lot of folks have told me that perseverance is the key to success.

But, what's the key to perseverance?

I've been contemplating that this morning, and the best answer I've come up with is "vision."

When called upon to persevere thru a difficult situation . . . family, work, money, whatever . . . it is WAY too easy to get bogged down if you focus on the immediacy of what you're going thru.

To persevere, you have to take a broader view, keep your eye on the prize rather than the momentary details that so easily distract.

Gonna try to do a little of that . . . now that I'm done contemplating . . .


Saturday, August 29, 2009

Yep, stumbled across another kinnection

Following-up on yesterday's post . . .

So, I was eating lunch with a realtor friend last week, and somehow the conversation turned to the little town of Montverde west of Lake Apopka.

He mentioned that his wife had relatives buried in the town cemetery, and I jokingly remarked that probably meant we were related since half that cemetery is full of my Cox and Lowry kin.

Well . . . turns out the kinnection is no joke!

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Friday, August 28, 2009

Orlando really is a small town in a lot of ways

Or, maybe that's just my experience?

It seems like, no matter where I go around here, I run into SOMEBODY I know.

And, roughly half the time, it's somebody I'm related to by blood or marriage.

I'm not complaining. In fact, I enjoy it more than a little bit.

Today's encounter occurred at my favorite little diner south of downtown. I got there a little earlier than the rest of the regulars to find my great-aunt Carol sitting at one of the tables!

She was there with some other folks from First Baptist Church of Pine Castle, working on a history of the congregation.

Well, of course, that conversation was right up my alley, so I quickly took a seat.

Anyway, gonna have to spend some time this weekend culling thru my files for info they might be able to use.

Just what I need: another project!

Good weekend, all!

Thursday, August 27, 2009


So, the guys I meet with on Thursday morning were trying to give some historical context to the Book of Acts, and I was assigned to research and report back on the city of Antioch.

Hadn't had an assignment like this since my college days.

Anyway, I found some pretty interesting tidbits.

Antioch still exists today, though much smaller in size, on the Mediterranean coast of Turkey . . . but just barely. A stone thrown in the wrong direction could very easily end up in Syria.

And, that's sorta been the story of the place for the last few thousand years. It's been a crossroads (sometimes a point of collision) between different nations and empires.

I was surprised to learn that, in Biblical times, Antioch was the third largest city in the world--behind only Rome and Alexandria (in Egypt).

It's roots go back to the famous Greek conqueror Alexander, who named that aforementioned city in Egypt. Turns out, about 300 BC, he gave some territory to one of his loyal generals. And, that guy founded a Macedonian colony which he named for his father: Antioch.

By the time of Christ, that colony had grown into a thriving metropolis of 500,000 people. It was a particularly attractive place for exiled Jews (and early Christians) to live, because the city fathers liberally extended citizenship rights to them. Historians estimate fully 25% of the population consisted of exiled Jews and their descendants by the time of the crucifixion--the largest concentration outside of Israel. So, Antioch would have been something of a magnet for fleeing apostles and disciples.

Kinda explains how the city became a springboard for all of Paul's missions, huh?

Learn something new every day . . .

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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

So, THAT's what distressed property looks like . . .

Just like last week, this Wednesday found yours truly exploring the distressed properties west of Orlando in the Lake County hinterland.

This time around, though, we ventured west of Clermont into the little town of Groveland.

All I can say is, "wow."

And, not in a good way.

One subdivision was particularly bad. Literally, every house on one block was either for sale, for rent, or abandoned.

I saw cow fennels growing in some of the yards that were taller than me, and I'm a pretty tall guy.

I saw where builders stopped mid-way thru construction.

I saw garage doors off their tracks and laying in driveways.

I lost count of all the broken windows.

We don't just have a mortgage crisis, ye socks, we have some truly distressed properties out there . . .

Eye opening to say the least . . .

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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

This day in Orlando history . . .

. . . the dapper fellow pictured here died back in 1891.

Aaron Jernigan (1813-1891) was the first permanent American settler in what is now Orlando.

Disclaimer: He is also my great-great-uncle.

He is mentioned here today to remind all ye socks out there who may have been inspired by recent posts to begin researching your own family trees that there is a difference between memorial stones and tombstones.

You see, old Uncle Aaron is buried out at Lake Hill Cemetery in the Orlovista neighborhood just southwest of the city limits.

Sadly, Lake Hill is not as well maintained as other area cemeteries, especially when you consider it is the final resting place of so many of our pioneers. The low cinder block wall barely shields it from the hustle and bustle of adjacent Old Winter Garden Road. Yours truly has encountered vagrants on the premises on more than one occasion. Empty beer bottles and cans dot the grave sites, some of them holding wilted flowers.

Anyway, near the center of the cemetery grounds is a utility building. And, just in front of that building is this fairly recent memorial:

But, do not be confused!

This does not mark Aaron Jernigan's final resting place!

To find that, you have to turn to the right.

Just before the fence that separates Lake Hill from the Jewish interments at neighboring Ohev Shalom Cemetery, you will find the plot containing the much more humble tombstones of Aaron, his wife Mary, and many members of the extended family.

See, I told you there was a difference between memorial stones and tombstones!

(Lake Hill and Ohev Shalom are located at 5950-6000 Old Winter Garden Road, just east of Kirkman Road, west of Orlando.)

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Monday, August 24, 2009


That's the name of the little English village in the Yorkshire dales where my mother's people lived "back in the day."

I bring it up here to continue the genealogical theme, because one of ye socks asked me in a private email about the availability of British records online. I pointed her to the International Genealogical Index (IGI) at, which includes quite a few old parish records . . . including those pertaining to St. Oswald's church in Horton-in-Ribblesdale (pictured above).

Starting in 1538, English law demanded all church wardens to meet after services every Sunday to and record all baptisms, marriages, and burials that occurred within the parish.

In the case of the interestingly-named parish of Horton-in-Ribblesdale, yours truly hit a goldmine of genealogical information, as members of the extended family were baptized there as far back as 1572:

Daughter of John Burton & Alice Burton:
* Agnes, 15 November 1670

Daughters of Matthew Burton & Alice Atkinson:
* Margaret, 18 July 1641
* Elizabeth, 5 July 1646 (died young?)
* Alice, 29 April 1649
* Elizabeth (again!), 20 May 1655

Children of William Burton & Cecilia Procter:
* Agnes, 1 June 1629
* Marmaduke, 26 May 1630
* Isabel, 11 April 1635
* Stephen, 31 March 1636 (twin?!)
* Thomas, 31 March 1636 (twin?!)
* Jennet, 2 July 1637
* John, 28 Dec 1640

Daughters of William Foster & Agnes Burton:
* Agnes, 3 May 1694
* Ellen, 6 Oct 1695

Children of William Foster & Agnes Howson:
* Anne, 25 Sept 1653
* John, 3 March 1661
* William, 27 June 1664
* Margaret, 28 July 1667

Son of Anthony Howson (mother's name not listed!):
* Francis, 21 Dec 1572

Son of Francis Howson & Elizabeth Ibbetson:
* John, 21 Feb 1603

Children of John Howson & Margaret Procter:
* Agnes, 29 Jan 1627
* Margaret, 29 June 1628
* John, 29 March 1629
* William, 5 April 1630
* Alice, 2 Aug 1634 (died young?)
* Alice, 11 Jan 1636 (again!)

Children of Edmund Procter & Margaret Greyson:
* Ellen, 10 July 1594
* Thomas, 6 Feb 1596
* Jane, 18 Feb 1599

Children of Thomas Procter & Margaret Twislton:
* Edmund, 24 Aug 1606 (403 years ago today!)
* Margaret, 5 Oct 1608

Children of Anthony Taylor & Mary Coats:
* Thomas, 26 July 1751 (died young?)
* Thomas (again!), 24 Sept 1752
* Edmund, 30 Nov 1753 (died young?)
* Edmund (again!), 25 Jan 1755
* John, 22 Aug 1756
* Mary, 20 April 1760
* Margaret, 8 Nov 1761
* Agnes, 26 Dec 1762
* Anthony, 3 Feb 1764 (died young?)
* Anthony (again!), 7 May 1768

Son of Edmund Taylor & Ellen Foster:
* Anthony, 28 Jan 1723

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Sunday, August 23, 2009

My dad's matrilineage

Continuing with the genealogical theme begun with yesterday's post . . .

It was on this date back in 1868 that my dad's great grandmother Hilda Bonner Arnett was born up in Randolph County, Alabama.

I spent quite some time tracing her maternal line as part of an mtDNA project, back when we were trying to get a handle on the genetic aspects of Dad's case of early-onset Alzheimer's Disease.

Anyway, here's the line as far back as I've traced it to date:

1. Skip Morgan (1948-2007), his mother was
2. (still living), her mother was
3. Ella Arnett (1901-1988), her mother was
4. Hilda Bonner (1868-1954), the lady whose birthday inspired this post, her mother was
5. Flora Rushton (1836-1905), her mother was
6. Martha Lorance (1821-1894), her mother was
7. Flora Cameron (1790-1840s), her mother was
8. Sarah Brown (1768-1850), who married James Cameron.

More complete details may be found at my online ahnentafel:

I did recently discover Sarah Brown Cameron's tombstone at the old Long Cane Baptist Church in Troup County, Georgia. I'll include a photo with this post. Here's a transcript in case your eyes fail ye:

to the memory of
Sarah Cameron
consort of
James Cameron Sen.
was born
Feb 24th 1768
& died
Dec 16th 1850

Any help tracing back from Sarah and extending this matrilineage would be greatly appreciated!

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Saturday, August 22, 2009

On this day in 1885 . . .

my great grandfather Thomas Joseph Norton, Sr., was born in Jersey City, New Jersey.

He was the eldest son of Irish immigrant Patrick Norton (recent arrival from Ballyforan in County Roscommon) and the former Margaret Conner.

Tom was a gifted athlete at Fordham University, who often competed at Madison Square Garden in New York City; and qualified for the US Olympic Track and Field Team in 1904.

Unfortunately, his disciplinarian father wouldn't let Tom forego his college studies to attend the 3rd Olympiad out in St. Louis.

Bad news for Tom was good news for his many descendants. By not heading out to Missouri, he struck up a romance with my great-grandmother Lil Irving.

They were secretly wed in Jersey City on 26 February 1905, which caused quite a stir . . . even rated a feature article in the New York Times.

Anyway, I digress.

Happy 124t Birthday, Tom!

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Friday, August 21, 2009

Coach Corn Pone's latest ramblings

So, the sweaty dinosaur ye socks see lumbering up and down the sidelines at FSU football games has once again found himself unwittingly at the center of a debate in this little corner of heaven.

Who's better: Tim Tebow, or Charlie Ward?


Eventually, the records of the two athletes will stand side-by-side and a true comparison may be made.

But, the last time I checked, Ward was working as an assistant coach at some private high school out in Texas. And, Tebow was still racking up his stats.

The day will come when that question can be discussed intelligently. But, it's not here, yet.

The day has come, however, for some people to retire. It's starting to get more than a little embarassing . . .

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Thursday, August 20, 2009

Is it slightly less crowded around here, or what?

So, it seems.

According to ye olde statisticians, Florida's population actually declined by about 58,000 in 2008.

And, that wasn't a function of the death rate exceeding the birth rate. That's always been a constant down here!

What has changed is fewer people are moving here from other places to find work.

Makes sense since there are so many fewer jobs to be had.

Fewer people isn't always a bad thing. Just ask the folks over at Universal Studios. They have reported a substantial drop in attendance, but a nice increase in actual revenue at the same time. Turns out, when people don't feel crowded together and herded like cattle, they loosen-up ye old purse strings.

So, let the whole quality vs. quantity debate ensue.

As a student of local history, however, I have to point out that we have experienced blips like this in the past. Most recently, our population dropped in 1946, as military men and women went back home after serving in Florida during World War II.

And, back in 1894/5, the Great Freeze killed off so much of our citrus crop that many, many people simply abandoned their blighted groves to return to their old stomping grounds up north.

In both of those cases, the population decline was quickly followed by a boom.

I'm not saying that's going to happen again this time around. Frankly, I'm not sure I'd want it to happen. But, in the long-term Florida has so many powerful population magnets: fun, sun, and low (or no) taxes.

So, don't get used to all the extra elbow room in this little corner of heaven . . .

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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Dry season?

Today found yours truly touring the hill country of Lake County with a distant cousin and a not-so-distant cousin.

The primary objective of our excursion was to scout out some of the distressed properties in that neck of the woods.

With the housing bust, construction of many subdivisions out here came to a screeching halt. The result is wide swaths of developed land, with roads, sidewalks, lamp posts, etc., but no houses.

Anyway, lunchtime found us in Clermont, and we ended up grabbing some grill food at the Tiki Bar on Lake Minneola.

This is a shot of the boardwalk leading down to the grill. See that gas pump? Well, before the lake waters receded beyond the dock, boats used to be able to pull right up to it to fill up their tanks.

So, it looks like just about everything's dried-up over in Lake County.

Well, except for the juicy Swiss burgers at the tiki bar . . .

Hopefully, some of ye socks have saved up for a rainy day, because it won't be like this forever.

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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Surplus Surnames

Backing up ye olde genealogy database this evening, yours truly discovered he has amassed quite a collection of surnames. Thought I'd post 'em here for ye socks to peruse. (Just the most recent 15 generations, and only direct ancestral names--if I included all the collateral lines, the list would be way too long . . . ) Let me know if any of them crop in your own family trees, and maybe we can compare notes:

Airey, Allerton, Alling, Allington, Andrew, Arnett, Ash, Aston, Atkinson.

Ballard, Barker, Barnard, Barnes, Bathurst, Batte, Bayford, Bell, Benton, Bernard, Bidwell, Bird, Blackman, Blakesley, Bolling, Bonneau, Bonnell, Bonner, Bourchier, Boyd, Brown, Buckner, Burgeaud, Burnet, Burton, Butterworth.

Cameron, Carr, Carrie, Carter, Cartwright, Chadwick, Chatterton, Clarke, Coats, Cocke, Coff, Conner, Cox, Crewes, Cullen, Cunningham, Curtis.

Daley, Davis, Dean, Deas, Dodge, Drury, DuBliss, Dupre.

Eaton, Eddy, Evans, Everest.

Fawcett, Ferrers, Flake, Folger, Foster, Fostin, Frederick.

Gaines, Gallagher, Games, Gardener, Gillet, Gleeson, Goff, Goodwin, Green, Greyson.

Hall, Hancock, Hanna, Harris, Harrison, Harvard, Hawkins, Hazelwood, Heard, Hebelthwait, Heemstraat, Hendricks, Hill, Hitchcock, Hoare, Holcomb, Hollinger, Horry, Hoskins, Howson, Hubbard.

Ibbetsen, Ingersoll, Irving, Ivey.

Jackson, Jernigan, Jones, Judd.

Kellogg, King, Kring.

Law, Lawrence, Lawson, Layland, Leary, LeScott, Lighthall, Ligon, Lorance, Lord, Lowry, Lucye, Luten, Lygon, Lynch.

Macy, Mallory, Masse, Mauze, May, McClure, Meachum, Meakins, Merriman, Miller, Morgan, Morrill, Moseley, Moss, Munson.

Nash, Newell, North, Norton.

Paddock, Parker, Parmelee, Parry, Patrick, Peck, Pleasant, Porter, Portis, Potter, Pratt, Priest, Procter.

Radcliffe, Rawlins, Read, Reade, Reid, Revaison, Rich, Rives, Robertson, Roe, Ruscoe, Rushton.

Saunders, Savory, Schouw, Scorer, Scrope, Selman, Seymour, Shakerley, Simmons, Slaughter, Smith, Sperry, Sponable, Stalman, Stith, Stockdale, Stratford, Swan.

Taylor, Thomas, Thompson, Timmons, Tjerkse, Touchstone, Tracy, Trott, Tuttle, Twislton.

Van der Bogart, Vaughan, Ventrus, Videaux, Villipontoux.

Walker, Waller, Warbowe, Webb, Wentworth, White, Wilcox, Wilder, Witchfield, Wood, Woodford, Woodruff, Woodward, Wynne.



Monday, August 17, 2009

Grayson stacks the deck, stifles free speech

Well, ye socks, our illustrious freshman congressman Alan Grayson finally got around to hosting a "town hall meeting" in the district tonight.

I put that in quotes, because the hastily-thrown-together circus was anything but an open forum for his constituents.

It was held in the union hall (go figure) of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, immediately following a meeting of the local Democratic Party.

This meant there were only about 120 seats to be had, and most of them were filled by party activists who hung around after their meeting.

Many, many more people surrounded the building, but were denied entry. Instead, they had to stand outside in the sultry summer air to express their frustration, wave signs, and chant slogans. Surprisingly, there was only one arrest during the two hours of protest: a man who jostled someone while trying to record video of the scene.

Inside, despite the late hour, Grayson used his three children as human shields, reminding every one of the four people who actually dared to ask him a probing question that they were present.

Amazingly, he had the nerve to dismiss questions about tort reform and Medicare fraud because they were not part of the socialist health care bill pending before Congress. In that, he totally missed the point. The fact that these items are not addressed in the bill are just two of the things that make it bad legislation. But, I suppose it is too much to expect our representative in Washington to listen to our concerns and . . . oh, I don't know . . . maybe introduce an amendment or two to address them?!

Ultimately, Grayson was forced to admit the real cause of the nation's high health care costs: "There is a profound lack of competition." Yep, his precise words. And, they ring true.

It is the lack of free and open competition that causes people in New York to pay double the premiums that their neighbors across the state line in Pennsylvania pay.

Any REAL health care reform would address things like that and remove the contrived barriers to affordability.

Instead, Grayson and his ilk seem hellbent on erecting even more barriers, constructing an even bigger bureaucracy in Washington, and leaving an even more astounding mountain of public debt to our children and grandchildren (and their children and grandchildren).

Pitiful and pathetic.

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Sunday, August 16, 2009

1920 Census records raise more questions

Following up on yesterday's post, I've been trying to answer some of the questions raised in the New York Times article about the 1921 murder of Dr. William Strother of Lynchburg, Virginia, at the hands of his neighbor Jesse Ford.

I thought a good way of putting the principle figures into context would be to see how they were enumerated in the 1920 Census.

If ye socks have not yet discovered Heritage Quest, yet, you need to check them out. Most public libraries (at least those in this little corner of heaven) offer free access to their indexed census images simply through obtaining a library card.

Here's what I uncovered in this case:

1920 Cenus, Campbell County, Virginia, page 272a
1208 Floyd Street, Lynchburg, renters:
(all white, born in Virginia, as were their parents)
* Ford, Jesse W., head of household, 28, married, engineer/contractor.
* Ford, Juanita, wife, 24, married.
* Ford, James R., 4, single
* Ford, Barbara J., daughter, 1, single.

Mr. Ford was evidently the son of a couple who owned a home nearby at 1223 Floyd Street, enumerated on the same page:

* Ford, James R., head, 51, married, general contractor.
* Ford, Barbara A., wife, 50, married.
* Ford, Abigail, daughter, 24, single, bookkeeper.
* Ford, Grace, daughter, 19, single.
* Ford, Elizabeth, daughter, 14, single.

However, I didn't find Dr. Strother anywhere on Floyd Street. Nor was he enumerated on either the preceding or following pages in Lynchburg. Instead, I found him living in the countryside beyond the city limits. Here's the extract on his household:

1920 Cenus, Bedford County, Virginia, page 87b
Boonsboro & Coleman Falls Road, Forest District, owners:
(all white, born in Virginia, as were their parents)
* Strother, William A., head, 35, married, physician with country practice.
* Strother, William M., son, 13, single, attending school.
* Strother, Paul M., son, 12, single, attending school.
* Mitchell, Lorna, housekeeper, 30, widow.

Note, the census record correctly give the murdered doctor's middle initial "A," whereas the newspaper article says "M." His middle name, as given on his tombstone at Spring Hill Cemetery in Lynchburg, was Alexander.

But, it also raises some new questions. Like, if the doctor was married, as the enumeration states, where was his wife?! Also, what prompted him to leave his "country practice" and move into the city, where he would lose his life within a year's time?

I suppose this case serves as a pretty good example of why genealogy is a never-ending project. Each new tidbit of information prompts more questions.

If any of ye socks can answer some of the questions surrounding the doctor's murder, or can suggest additional avenues of research, yours truly would greatly appreciate hearing from ye!

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Saturday, August 15, 2009

GoogleNews unearths 88-year-old family scandal

Here's an online research tool that I recently discovered and thought I would share with ye socks.

The next time you go to, click on the "more" option on the toolbar. Then select the last item on the list, "even more." This will take you to a page crowded with icons that will help you narrow your internet searches. If you scroll down to the NEWS icon, click on the hypertext link "archive search." This will let you search thru a bunch of old newspapers whose indexed images are available online.

But, be forewarned. You never know what you're going to uncover when you start rooting around ye olde family tree.

In my case, I uncovered an 88-year-old family scandal surrounding my great-grandfather's cousin Dr. William M. Strother. (The doctor's mother was Roberta Morgan Strother, daughter of my Civil War ancestor James Lorenzo Morgan.)

Anyway, here's a transcript of an article published in the New York Times back on 25 September 1921 that gives the (somewhat cryptic) details of the doctor's murder:

Lynchburg Man Then Helps Own
Wife Carry Body to Veranda.
Special to the New York Times
LYNCHBURG, Va., Sept. 24. -- Dr. William M. Strother was shot and almost instantly killed this morning at his home by Jesse Ford, Lynchburg superintendent for the J.R. Ford Company, contractors, who was living near Dr. Strother's home.
Ford surrendered, and a Coroner's jury, at which his wife testified, held him for the murder. Ford went to Dr. Strother's home, and after talkin with him briefly shot him several times. It is said that Dr. Strother fired twice at Ford as the latter walked away and then fell dead.
Mrs. Ford is said to have come out of Dr. Strother's house, and at her solicitation Ford Assisted her in carrying the body of the physician to the veranda of the house.
Dr. Strother was a native of Lynchburg and a member of one of the most prominent families of the city.

As with any new tidbit of genealogical information, this one leaves yours truly with more questions than it answered. The only question I ever had about Dr. Strother before finding this article was wondering why he died at such a relatively young age (38). Well, now I have THAT answer. But, what about the questions the Times article fails to answer. Like, what was Mrs. Ford doing in the doctor's home to begin with? And, was Ford ever tried for the murder? If so, what was the verdict? And, if found guilty, what was his sentence? I couldn't find any more articles on the subject, so would welcome any light ye socks can shed on the case!

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Friday, August 14, 2009

Don't try this at Mass

OK, as if yours truly needed to find a way to make napping on the big brown sofa any easier, I've discovered a new channel on the recently-expanded cable package that does just that.

For ye socks who are blessed to reside in this little corner of heaven, it is channel #169 on Bright House. Ye out-o-towners will just have to find EWTN.

That stands for Eternal Word Television Network.

Now, at the risk of sounding completely sacrilegious, I have discovered there is nothing that puts me to sleep quite so fast as Mother Angelica's recitation of the Rosary. It is merely (divine?) conincidence that it is broadcast every day at just about the precise time the couch beckons me for a nap.

The rhythmic repetition of the Hail Marys, etc., goes on for a whole half hour, just long enough for me to recharge my batteries.

And, I wake up really feeling like I've gotten away with something. Not just because, maybe, subliminally I have done something remotely soul cleansing. More because I know there is no way I could possibly get away with this without the wonders of cable tv.

Not that I've ever really tried to snooze in a real church or anything.

Anyway, think less of me if it suits you, but this channel is getting added to my favorites . . .

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Thursday, August 13, 2009

Was it ONLY five years ago?!

Believe it or not, it was.

This is what it looked like in my old neighborhood up in Apopka the day the name "Charley" became synonymous with "disaster" throughout Central Florida.

Those are the first bands of the storm rolling in from the Gulf, where the hurricane first struck with its deadly force.

We should've known it was going to be bad, arriving as it did on a Friday the 13th . . .

Actually, we made out relatively well in Apopka. Yours truly only lost one branch of one oak tree.

Just a few miles down 441, Orlando got hit much worse.

I remember my parents' home lost its roof. And, one of their old oak trees tumbled down into the driveway to block the garage . . . ripping up a bunch of concrete sidewalk on its way down.

I remember many of my friends and relatives being without power . . . more importantly, without air conditioning during a Florida summer . . . for as long as 9 days.

May the memories serve as a reminder to all ye socks living in hurricane prone areas. Stock up on your storm supplies now before anything like Charley is imminent. Ye'll thank me later.

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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The train wreck has begun

Well, ye socks, a lot of folks in this little corner of heaven were sorely disappointed by the collapse of the Arena Football League.

We had come to enjoy the Orlando Predators as a local sports institution--one of the only really successful football franchises to ever grace the City Beautiful.

Remember the Orlando Renegades from the early 80s?

How 'bout the fictional Orlando Breakers in the 90s?

The XFL's Orlando Rage?


Well, now we have the United Football League coming to town this fall, awarding our fair city with one of only six franchises.

They will be playing 3 . . . count 'em . . . THREE whole home games at the Citrus Bowl downtown! Whoo-hoo! (sarcasm detected?)

The sad thing is that there is a lot of pent-up potential football fandom in Central Florida.

But, you're not going to unleash that potential with only 3 home games a season.

And, don't even get me started on the stupid name they've chosen. The Orlando Tuskers? Really?!

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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Shiver me timbers!

For the second time in as many weeks, Texas Tech's recruiting efforts in this little corner of heaven have undermined the mighty Gators!

After securing Shawn Corker out of Fort Lauderdale's Cardinal Gibbons High School just days ago, the news tumbling in today's dryer is that Mike Leach and staff have pirated away wide receiver Kadron Boone.

Particular kudos go out to Tech's receivers coach Lincoln Riley in the poaching efforts.

Boone led Ocala's Trinity Catholic High School to the state 2B championship game last year after scoring fourteen touchdowns in the regular season.

Now, yours truly must admit to being a bit conflicted about all this, as I'm a fan of both the Gators and the Raiders.

But, it will be very exciting to see how Lubbock's evil genius of the gridiron incorporates these two outstanding Florida receivers into Tech's wide open passing style offense.

Talk about some "fun and gun!"

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Monday, August 10, 2009

15 movies

In keeping with the recent tradition of posting something light-hearted on Mondays, I was tagged in yet another of those list things. So, here goes . . .

Rules: Don't take too long to think about it. Fifteen movies you've seen that will always stick with you. First fifteen you can recall in no more than fifteen minutes. Tag fifteen friends, including the person who tagged you:

1. War of the Worlds
2. Forrest Gump
3. Gangs of New York
4. Shrek
5. Raiders of the Lost Ark (and the rest of the Indiana Jones series)
6. The Patriot
7. Gods & Generals
8. Field of Dreams
9. Kingdom of Heaven
10. Dances with Wolves
11. Braveheart
12. Casablanca
13. Dead Poets Society
14. Glory
15. Gladiator

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Sunday, August 09, 2009

Caritas in veritate

In case ye socks missed it last month, Pope Benedict XVI issued a major encyclical bearing that title.

It translates as "Charity in truth," if like me ye took some other language than Latin to satisfy your high school graduation requirements.

Anyway, it's a pretty lengthy document, and I've been weeding thru it for a couple of weeks now.

Not so much because I feel compelled to read all of the holy father's writings, but because the topic of charity has been popping up quite a bit in this little corner of heaven lately.

Don't know why, just has.

I'm finding there's a lot more to do with it than parting with your cash.

Probably already "knew" that, but it's being reinforced.

Not a bad thing to have reinforced on a Sunday . . .

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Saturday, August 08, 2009

Pre-season angst

Well, ye socks, it's hard for yours truly to believe, but it's been seven whole months since the mighty Gators beat Oklahoma in the BCS title game.

But, finally, the new season is coming into view.

It can't come a moment too soon for the fans of the orange and blue.

How can you not be Jonesing for some fun 'n gun after seeing the new Sports Illustrated SEC Preview special issue on the news stands this weekend?!

Or, how can your adrenaline not kick into high gear with all the practice reports flowing out of Gainesville?!

And, yet we still have to wait til September 5th for the real deal.

Charleston Southern? I'm assuming they're coming down here from South Carolina? Or, maybe, it's West Virginia? Gator bait, either way . . .

Orange and Blue!

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Friday, August 07, 2009

Adios, Mel!

No doubt in response to the withering criticism in yesterday's post in the dryer, Florida's most beloved spineless RINO announced his resignation at Orlando International Airport at 3pm today.

Senator Mel Martinez once inspired great confidence in these parts, and even succeeded in getting yours truly off his wallet to make a campaign contribution back in 2004.

All I can say now is that he hosed me. He hosed us all.

After taking his senate seat, Mel fell into some bad company. Supporting the ObamaNation's recent Supreme Court nominee was only the latest example. The most egregious was his partnership with Ted Kennedy back in 2006, when they crafted a bill that would have granted amnesty to ten million illegal aliens.

Ironically, despite his affinity for Democrats and their policies, the Republican National Committee made Mel their chairman about the same time. And, it was under his "leadership" that the party lost its majority in Congress.

So, goodbye, Mel. I wish you well in your future as a private citizen, but can't say I'll miss your style of "public service." I only hope your departure hasn't opened the door to 6 years of Charlie Crist warming your seat on the left of the aisle in the senate chambers . . .

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Thursday, August 06, 2009

200 days of mob rule . . . and counting

Boy, did one unsuspecting pollster get an earful when she placed a call to this little corner of heaven and asked yours truly for an opinion on the first 200 days of TheObamaNation!

Could I identify three of his greatest successes since taking office?

Well, to paraphrase an over-used campaign slogan, "Yes, I can!"

1. He and his minions in Congress successfully printed trillions of "stimulus" dollars, thereby saddling our children and grandchildren--and THEIR children and grandchildren--with a mountain of debt.

2. He did the Bush administration one better by not only continuing to hijack Wall Street, but also putting the federal government in the business of manufacturing and marketing automobiles.

3. Well . . . um . . . oh, yeah, it happened today. He succeeded in replacing one lackluster Supreme Court justice with another who issues rulings based on empathy rather than the letter of the law.

I suppose on this momentous 200th day of near-divine rule, we should remind ourselves the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue cannot claim sole credit for these "successes." He had plenty of help on the other end of the mall on Capitol Hill--including some spineless RINO's. (In the case of "success" #3, we can heap particular gratitude on our own illustrious senator Mel Martinez.)

Thomas Jefferson, ironically the founder of the Democratic Party, once warned that democracy has the dangerous propensity to descend into mob rule. Sadly, we are there.

Satisfied, Madame Pollster?!

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Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Treaty talks

Somehow, discussion over this morning's coffee turned to the simmering assertion of Texans that they have the right to reclaim their independence by the treaty their short-lived republic signed with the United States.

Far be it from yours truly to remind them of the federal government's history of honoring treaties--much less the decisiveness of the union's military victory back in the 1860s.

But, it is interesting to ponder just how crowded westbound I-10 would become if they ever really asserted that independence.

Anyway, the question was posed about whether or not our own great state of Florida might have similar recourse.

Turns out we might.

Florida was to become a U.S. territory as one of the terms of the Adams-Onis Treaty back in 1819. The U.S. Senate quickly ratified the agreement, but the Spanish government dragged its heels for a couple of years. By the time they got around to ratifying, they were embroiled in a nasty war with Mexican patriots. The latter, of course, not only wanted their independence but also disputed the treaty terms--at least those pertaining to the border of Texas.

So, did the lack of timeliness on the part of the Spanish render the treaty obsolete?

You decide.

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Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Kudos to Martha O. Haynie's office

The Orange County Comptroller is without a doubt the most capable public official in this neck of the woods.

Now, her office is deserving of extra credit for their efforts at making local land records more accessible.

Until recently, only records dating back to 1955 were available online.

Now, however, ye socks may peruse deeds and plats dating back more than a century beyond that date. Click here to check it out:

Even if your family's roots around here aren't as deep as my own, you may still get a kick out of tracing back the genealogy of your home.

For instance, after visiting a friend's vacant lot on Lake Pineloch today, I thought I'd do a little investigating of my own. Not only did I discover it was part of an 80-acre state land grant to pioneer Jesse Bumby dated 1869; but after it was subdivided into smaller parcels, it was part of the 5 acres owned by my great-aunt and uncle Nellie (nee Patrick) and James Neal from 1912 to 1916.

Who'da thunk it?!

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Monday, August 03, 2009

Where I've been

OK, something light for a Monday. I got tagged with this, so here goes . . .

Put an X by the states you have been to.......
Put an O beside the states where you have lived.
Airports don't count!

Alabama -XO
Alaska -
Arizona -XO
Arkansas -X
California -XO
Colorado -X
Connecticut -
Delaware -X
District of Columbia -X
Florida -XO
Georgia -X
Hawaii -
Idaho -
Illinois -X
Indiana -X
Iowa -
Kansas -
Kentucky -X
Louisiana -XO
Maine -
Maryland -X
Massachusetts -
Michigan -
Minnesota -
Mississippi -X
Missouri -X
Montana -
Nebraska -
Nevada -
New Hampshire -
New Jersey -X
New Mexico -X
New York -
North Carolina-X
North Dakota-
Rhode Island-
South Carolina-X
South Dakota-
West Virginia-X

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Sunday, August 02, 2009

The beauty of competition

In the late 1500's, the lives of three great artists converged in a single place: Venice. And, the competition sparked by these intersecting talents produced a flurry of masterpieces we socks still appreciate today.

The artists in question were Tiziano Vecelli, Jacopo Comin, and Paolo Cagliari--though, ye may know them better by their nicknames: Titian, Tintoretto, and Veronese.

The Museum of Fine Arts up in Boston is hosting an exhibit dedicated to this rivalry thru the 16th of this month. (

One wonders if, individually, these three great masters would have achieved the heights of their greatness without the competition.

I doubt it.

And, that lesson resonates today--and in more than just the arena of fine art.

For example, as The ObamaNation has recently turned our collective consciousness to it's latest pinata of healthcare reform, those of us who appreciate the beauty of competition should make our voices heard.

The greatest opportunities for real reform lay not in the creation of some behemoth new federal entitlement program or bureaucracy. Rather, they may be found in the removal of existing barriers to competition.

Were ye socks aware that current regulations allow . . . nay, encourage . . . insurance companies to charge nearly twice as much for policies written in New York than they do for policies written in Pennsylvania?

We do not need to create either a single-payer system or a glideway to it as folks like Barney Frank suggest. Either of those "solutions" would effectively kill competition.

Instead, our elected representatives would do well to foster an environment that encourages competition among the various insurance companies that already exist.

Let those underwriters in Pennsylvania compete in New York and elsewhere, and ye will see premiums plummet.

And, the beauty of THAT sort of competition will resound for generations, too; because, unlike the alternatives proposed by the administration and its minions in Congress, it will not bury posterity under a mountain of debt.

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Saturday, August 01, 2009

A not so quiet morning

Even ye socks who only know me thru my posts in the dryer are aware of the Saturday morning routine in this neck o' the woods.

Especially in the heat of summer, I like to get out to do the yard work before conditions become too intolerable.

Ok, maybe "like to" isn't quite accurate.

At any rate, I try to get out there and do quiet things like weeding, raking, pruning, etc., until about 8 o'clock. Then, I crank up the mower. Any earlier just wouldn't be neighborly, I suppose.

This morning, however, while I was busying myself with the quieter pursuits, the tranquility along Elizabeth Avenue was disturbed by one of the engines from the nearby fire station.

We are fairly accustomed to the comings and goings of our city firefighters around here. But, there was something odd about this morning's disruption to the peace and quiet we typically enjoy.

For some reason, the engine was emitting a long, slow siren as it practically inched down our little residential street. The only time I've ever seen something like that was when the driver was having a difficult time spotting a street number while responding to a call. But, that didn't appear to be the cause of the odd cruise this morning. The engine just continued crawling down to the foot of the street, and took a lackadaisical turn along the shore of Lake Ivanhoe, siren mournfully wailing the entire way.

I know there are a coupla firefighters who read these posts. So, what's up with this?

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