My Grandmother’s Clinic Cards

My grandmother Alice kept a lot of stuff. But, this is by far one of the most interesting collection of hers that we have and I’ve learned so much by going through them – a set of medical clinic appointment cards for herself and her four kids!

Most of the cards are not dated, but many have a field for the “age” of the patient so I can tell that they span about 20 years, from approximately 1950-1970. This time range corresponds to the birth of her first child, my uncle Stanley – up to when her youngest, my uncle Calvin, was about 12 years old. The next two card images show a visit from when she was 25, and another visit when she was 46.

There was one card for my uncle Leonard when he was a baby

And, on the back, Alice wrote a brief summary of her pre-natal visits. While pregnant with Leonard, she went to the Maternity division of the NY Bureau of Child Health and it looks like her appointments were from December 1952 – March 5, 1953. My uncle would be born just about a month after her last recorded visit.

Another card in her collection records dental visits for my mother. Mommy was attending P.S. 126 at the time and she went there for  7th, 8th, and 9th grades, so these appointments would have been somewhere during that time frame.

Grandma also had a card that showed payments she made for her medical care. From the address at Lacombe Avenue (where my grandmother moved to in 1974), I estimate these payments were made around 1974  or so. Grandma’s $685 total payments at that time is around $3300 dollars now. That was a lot of money for my grandmother I’m sure.

Grandma also had her card showing her polio vaccination series – or, as she called it, her “polio needles.”  This card shows that she had 3 already…

and on the back, she wrote that she had one more to get – two years later in 1961 – then she would be done.

And this card was interesting because it was the only red one in the batch. It’s a card for my uncle Leonard for what looks like an ear appointment given my grandmother’s note on the side. Leonard was about 6 months old.

These cards are fascinating to me. I know Alice didn’t play around when it came to her health and these cards prove it! There is probably even more to learn by carefully examining them all, so I need to take the time to do that. What a great set of cards for us to have!

 

Best Mother’s Day Present Ever – A Family Reunion Trip!

My husband is giving me the BEST Mother’s Day present ever this year — he is sending me to Plymouth, NC so I can attend a family reunion that I’ve been wanting to attend for many years now.

Plymouth, located in Washington County, NC – is the hometown of my late maternal grandmother, Alice McNair Robinson. Her McNair family is pretty large, and this year marks their 44th Annual Reunion. In my genealogy journey these past 9 years, I’ve very much felt my interest in family history came in large part from Alice as she ALWAYS connected with her family wherever she went. I’ve been fortunate to connect with so many of my McNair relatives over the years that I am very much looking forward to meeting more in person.

My sister has a 1990 McNair Family Reunion t-shirt; maybe now I’ll get my own. :-)

I now have to start actively planning where I want to visit while I am in town. I want to make sure I see areas around town where my grandmother would have experienced, and also visit a couple neighboring towns. The reunion is held over Memorial Day Weekend and I should have at least one extra day to visit around.  I also want to make solid plans for capturing as much family history as I can from everyone attending.

Let the planning begin!!

 

Lossie Attended Winston-Salem State University

While indexing some old issues of Winston-Salem State University’s yearbooks tonight for the NCGenWeb Yearbook Index, I found another relative!

Lossie’s 1946 graduation photo

This time, I found Lossie Viola McNair (1923-2008).  Lossie is a member of the 1946 graduating class and the yearbook shows that her nickname was “Mae.”    Later on in the yearbook, in the “Who’s Who” section, it’s noted that she aids a Kindergarten classroom.  And, as it turns out, she did indeed become a teacher.  :-)  

How is Lossie related to me? She is the half-sister of my 2nd-great grandfather, Abraham McNair.   She was the daughter of Andrew D.  McNair & Bennie Slade.   Bennie was Andrew’s 2nd wife; I’m descended from Andrew and his first wife, Gracy Bullock. 

I love finding these little nuggets of info! 

Death Has a Preference for Birthdays

This is a morbid post, but I have to do it!  The other night while perusing my feed reader, I saw this article from the Annals of Epidemiology.  (yeah, I have scientific journals in my feed reader – how else is a gal supposed to keep up with the medical literature for work! :-))

Ajdacic-Gross V, et al., Death has a preference for birthdaysdan analysis of death time series, Annals of Epidemiology (2012), doi:10.1016/j.annepidem.2012.04.016

I was ecstatic to see this because it presents research around something that I and my mother have talked about for years now.  As we look at the dates of death in our family trees, we seemed to have seen a pattern of people dying around their birthdays.  I was fascinated that a research group has set out to examine this on a large-scale basis. 

Here’s the overview of the research this team from the Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine in Zurich.  (you can look more closely at the article here)

Why did they do this research? Whether or not deaths occur more frequently around birthdays has been a controversial for 40 years. Some research on suicides has shown there is a relationship; some has shown there is not. Some research on cancer deaths has also had mixed results. The problem has been though that all of these studies have looked at small groups of people or had flaws in how the research was conducted.  This research team has access to a very large database of deaths, so wanted to study it and see if they observed a relationship. 

Who did they study? They used a Swiss database of computerized death records that spanned 1969-2008. Excluding infants less than 1  year of age and people who were born or died on February 29th, they had 2,380,997 deaths of all causes to examine.  Wow.

What did they find out?  When looking at all the deaths, they saw that there was a peak in the data set for deaths that occurred the same day as the person’s birthday.  The “peak” was statistically significant (e.g. higher than you would expect to occur on average).  Deaths from all cause occurred almost 14% more often on the person’s birthday than any other time of the year.  This was pretty much the case for both men and women. Taking suicides out of the equation and looking at only natural causes (because people make conscious decisions about when to commit suicide and may or may not purposefully do it around their birthday), the effect was still significant.  Deaths on the person’s birthday occurred 18.6% more often than other times of the year in cardiovascular disease, and in women with cerebrovascular disease 21.5% more often than any other time of the year.  In cancer, death occurred 10.8% more often on birthdays than any other time of the year.  Significant excesses of death on birthdays were also found for deaths from accidents (vehicular + falls) and endocrine diseases.

What does it mean? It means be careful around your birthday! Nah, seriously, it confirms what my mother and I have suspected for several years now.  Admittedly, I don’t think I’ve seen too many cases of death ON the birthday, but usually somewhere  AROUND the birthday.  Of course, all research has its limitations, so it will remain to be seen if others reproduce these findings.  For example, there are properties of the data set that may sway the results — when  the exact date of death is not known, it is not uncommon to put the 1st or 15th of the month.  If the the exact date of birth is not known, it is not uncommon to put the same date as the date of death.  In this study, the investigators were aware of these trends and did adjust for it. I find it fascinating nevertheless.  

To quote a line from Randy Quaid in Independence Day when the television is showing the alien invasions around the world:

Good God! I’ve been sayin’ it. I’ve been sayin’ it for ten **** years. Ain’t I been sayin’ it, Miguel? Yeah, I’ve been sayin’ it.

Minus the *expletive deleted,* that was precisely my reaction reading this study!  Case in point, my ancestor Rufus Tannahill McNair.  According to his headstone he was born June 11, 1823 and died June 11, 1910.  I was always a suspicious of those two dates; a little *too* convenient and I suspect it was a case as described above – they didn’t really know his birth date.  But, I do have plenty of other family members that did die around their birthdays. Hmm.. I should run a report in my database and see if I see any observable trends or if I’m just making it up.  

I’m in total MPH geekdom right now applying this epidemiological study to genealogy research. Kewl. :-)

 

40th Annual McNair Family Reunion

This Memorial Day Weekend, as it’s traditionally held, my McNair branch of the family is having their 40th Annual Reunion.  Started in 1972, I am amazed and proud of its longevity!  I’ve not yet been to one, but my maternal grandmother, Alice McNair Robinson, used to go often and has shared with me details about her family that helped inspire my love of genealogy.

In preparation for the reunion this year, at the request of a cousin, I compiled a booklet of the family tree information I currently have for the McNair family. The reunion is for the descendants of Rufus & Mariah McNair, so the booklet lists each of the branches of their children (10 who are known to have offspring).

This is the front cover I made.

For now, the booklet is purely a list of names. Next year, I hope to be able to include pictures of at least the generation of the grandkids of Rufus & Mariah. I am honored to have met at least one – my 2nd great-aunt Martha. Aunt Martha is doing well and is attending the reunion herself this year! 

I am looking forward to the feedback from this weekend and the chance to further update and make our family tree even better.  To my McNair Family – enjoy and if you aren’t going, please consider sharing what you know so that we can preserve these memories for our own descendants. 

Establishing my Great-Grandparents DNA Profile

Well, parts of it anyway. :-)

This week, the 23andMe DNA Roots Into the Future results came back for one of my mother’s paternal 1st cousins.  A great advantage of her having done the test is that I can now begin to establish segments of my mother’s DNA that comes from her paternal grandparents,  Lewis & Lucinda (Lennon) Robinson, whom Cousin C and my mother have as their Most Recent Common Ancestor (MRCA).

“Cousin C” shares 10.5% and 28 segments of DNA with my mother.  All 28 of those segments come from Lewis & Lucinda.  Additionally, Cousin C shares some DNA segments with my mother’s brother that she does not have in common with my mother (11.2% and 32 segments).    Because the sharing with my mother and uncle are not 100% overlapping, this means even more segments from the great-grandparental units.

In the image below the DNA Cousin C shares with my mother is marked with green; the DNA she shares with my uncle is marked in blue.

This means that as I sort through my mother’s Relative Finder matches, if someone matches both her and Cousin C – then that person is related to us through Lewis & Lucinda and will thus help me narrow which branch to focus the search on.  As I have started to tabulate these shared segments into my analysis spreadsheet I have already identified a few individuals who I can now narrow our search for our MRCA to that branch of my tree.

And also of interest, I have parts of DNA of a set of my 2nd great-grandparents, Andrew & Gracy (Bullock) McNair on my mother’s side since a 3rd cousin of hers, for whom Andrew & Gracy are the MRCA, has also had his testing completed.  On my father’s side, I’ve got DNA segments attributed to ancestors of mine even more generations back that these — how cool is that?

I really need for one of the DNA testing companies to add the tagging capability I’ve described on my blog in the past — it would be so helpful!

Grandma Truly Is Forever In Our Hearts

My daughter Kaleya was born on her great-grandmother Alice’s birthday – October 16th.  Yesterday, we celebrated Kaleya’s 7th birthday.  Yesterday, my grandmother did not turn 87.  :-(

Today, b/c of it being her birthday, my mother went to her gravesite to visit her and to take the first pictures of her headstone.  Grandma is buried in Sarasota National Park cemetery and is in fact in the same section as her eldest son, Stanley, who passed away 10 months before her.

Mommy says that Grandma is in the same diagonal row as Stanley – just 11 rows above him.

 

Great-Grandparents’ Signature

My great-grandparents, Abraham & Martha (Walker) McNair, purchased their home in Plymouth, Washington County, North Carolina in 1945.  While I have a copy of the deed from the local registrar’s office it is not a true copy of the original.

My mother found their original deed last week and their signatures are on it

signature of my great-grandparents

Looking at this, I see now that my grandmother, Alice,  had her father’s handwriting.  I am looking forward to making a copy of the original deed next time I visit home.

Tombstone Tuesday: Filling in Our Find-A-Grave Entries

Sunday afternoon I was reading Susan Petersen’s post on her Long Lost Relatives blog about how to make the most use of Find-A-Grave.  It’s a useful article and while I do most of what she discusses, as I read it, I was inspired to create the memorial for my grandmother that just passed away on Mother’s Day.

So, I went ahead and created hers, then realized I did not have memorials for her mother, nor three of her brothers – all have predeceased her.  I was busy Sunday afternoon creating them, then linking the family together.

Now, she and all her brothers are there and linked to their parents, Abraham Lincoln McNair Sr. and Martha Jane Walker McNair and each has pictures added.

I am so glad I’ve done this.   I have more family members to add of course, but it was important that I do her family cluster right away.  With her passing, all of their children have now died.

Part II – There is another part I need to add onto my original post.  I wrote this Sunday, but Monday morning when I logged onto my email I had another tombstone treasure — someone was nice enough to send me a picture of my 2nd great-grandmother’s headstone that he’d taken! This is the headstone for Polly Hood Holloway.  I was tickled pink!

 

I then went over to Find-A-Grave to see if she had a memorial and sure enough someone else had added it and an picture back in November.  See, Susan is right – you must go back to review regularly! Thank you Susan for the inspiration.

Rest in Peace Grandma

Sadly,  yesterday morning, Mother’s Day, my maternal grandmother, Alice Elizabeth McNair Robinson, passed away. She was 86 years old.   Affected by Alzheimers these past several years, she fell ill a few weeks ago from an infection and never fully recovered.  She was the last one of all her parent’s children and my last biological grandparent.

Alice is truly the inspiration for my family research.  While the grave of my father’s grandfather Barfield was my initial hook into wanting to know my family; Alice was very much my line and sinker. :-).  Alice always knew what was going on with her many family members and always kept in touch with everyone.  I was fortunate enough to have learned many details from her one day when I was in college from an oral interview I conducted and when I picked up genealogy in 2006,  my notes from that interview were the basis of my family tree.   From there, I began to actively seek out additional sources, information, and family members.

I have to share an amazing story though.  My mother often said that Grandma would find a cousin wherever she went. She was naturally outgoing, so would talk to people all the time and invariably find some connection.   Grandma passed away at 5am EST, but I had a Grandma “moment” yesterday afternoon that I undoubtedly know was her doing.

I am in DC right now on a business trip. The hotel agent who checked me in had excellent customer service skills.  I was impressed by it,  so planned on letting management know and I wanted to be sure I had her name.  I did a double-take when I saw that her last name was McNair, same as my grandmother’s maiden name!  It’s hard for me to pass up the opportunity to ask about a surname I know, so I asked her about it and it turns out her husband’s family is also from NC; as my own McNair ancestors and cousins. We spoke for awhile and she indicated that his family was related to football player Steve McNair.  I’ve heard from extended cousins that we are also, though right now I don’t know exactly how.  If true, I came all the way to DC and found a cousin – a total Grandma moment indeed.

Rest in peace Grandma. We love you and miss you and I will do my best to fill your family history shoes.