My Family Story: The Hidden Legacy of Caroline Feil (1858-1936)

Welcome to the next installment of My Family Story focusing on my 2x great-grandmothers. This is the story of Caroline Feil Bliss (1858-1936) who is my maternal grandmother’s mother’s mother. Caroline was born in New Baltimore, Somerset County in 1858. The story of Grandma Caroline is itself quite a tale, as is the story of finding […]

50 LGBTQ Parents #AMPLIFY Their Experiences for #LGBTQFamiliesDay 2018

Monday is #LGBTQFamilies Day on social media, sponsored by the blog Mombian and the Family Equality Council since 2006. This day celebrates LGBTQ families. Once again, I’ve decided to share #AMPLIFY posts highlighting the voices of parents, step-parents  and grandparents and other caretakers of children.  If you are a LGBTQ person with ties to Western Pennsylvania, please […]

RIP Uncle Ron Keck (1935-2018)

This week, I learned that my Uncle Ron (Carl Ronald Keck) died over the weekend. He was 85 years old. I always liked my Uncle Ron. I thought he was funny even when he was using humor to hide some uncharitable thoughts. I thought he was fond of us (my brother and I) because he […]

My Family Story: The Complicated Life of Alice Jenkins (1873-1898)

Content Note: slavery, white privilege, sexism One of the few family history things that I knew growing up was that my great-grandmother, Harriet Hackney, was from rural Tennessee. She died before I was born so I didn’t know her personally, just through stories that my mother shared with me about her ‘Nana.’ The general impression […]

An Essay About St. Patrick’s Day and My Not-So Irish-American Cultural Heritage

Irish American Pittsburgh

Growing up in a working class Pittsburgh suburb, I knew two things to be true about my family – we were Roman Catholic and we were Irish (with a little German.) We were Irish Catholics and celebrated St. Patrick’s Day robustly. St. Patrick’s Day is also my younger brother’s birthday. Robustly meant lots of green […]

The Confidence of an Olympian

One thing that always amazes me about Olympic athletes, especially the young ones, is their confidence. They might nervous or anxious, but they have demonstrated to themselves that they *can* do this thing, this feat of physical strength and grace. They know they are among the very best for a reason – they earned it. […]

My Family History Christmas Edition: Grandma’s Date Nut Pudding Recipe

Date Nut Pudding Handwritten Recipe

For most of my childhood and young adulthood, my paternal grandmother baked these puddings for Thanksgiving and Christmas. She made one per household for her three adult children, one for her own household, and one for the family meal. She may have baked more on occasion as a gift for a friend or hairdresser or […]

US Supreme Court Leaves Stand Texas High Court Ruling Undermining Marriage Equality

Domestic Partner Benefits

This is a nightmare scenario for me. I am not being histrionic, or perhaps I am being consistent with the histrionic level I’ve been maintaining on domestic partner benefits since 2014.  The US Supreme Court has let stand a Texas Supreme Court  ruling that there is no established right to spousal benefits in same-sex marriages. […]

Dear Santa Letters from My Great-Grandmother Circa 1896

One of the sweetest moments in my family tree exploration was the discovery of a very simple item – a letter to Santa published in the Pittsburgh Press on 18 December 1896. The author was a 6-year-old girl named Jennie Rice. She lived at 70 Poplar Alley in the Lower Hill District. Jennie was either […]

Five Bright Spots in My Thanksgiving

Our holiday was perfectly fine. The food was great, the family was all there, etc. But I feel like there was a lackluster veneer between me and everyone else. I’m sure part of that is depression over the menstrual period I’ve been having for two solid months as it sucks all the good out of […]