Tag Archives: genealogy

Genealogy and Mixed Genes

DID YOU KNOW…
I have another blog called MIXED GENES, in which I share some of the snippets I’ve discovered as I researched (and still find in current researching) my own family roots.

Check it out!!!
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Genealogy posts: Family Tree

DID YOU KNOW…

– that I also write a blog regarding my genealogical discoveries? I call it MIXED GENES! Many times they are ancestors and relatives somehow related to either my wife or me, but often they are simply genealogical nuggets I’ve discovered while searching my own family tree.

CHECK IT OUT!!!
http://www.mixedgenes.blogspot.com

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REVIEW: A Journey In Time: 1811-1986

I have been away from the blog for QUITE a while! It’s not that I didn’t have anything to say, but I have been doing A LOT of reading and I learned how to play at some games on facebook. And I finally dropped ALL facebook games so I could have time to go on with my life. SO… my newest venture is to start writing reviews of select books as I go along.

My first review is actually just because I was on Amazon.com trying to find the sequel to a local history book from the Potter County area of Pennsylvania where I grew up. I never did find the second book, but I found they had a listing for the first one, but no description or anything. And since no one has one for sale (at least right now) there was NO info at all! So I wrote a review.

A Review of A Journey In Time:1811-1986
By Dayton D. Mix (Pennsylvania)

This 1988 book was written by Harold F. Baker, a local history buff in North Central Pennsylvania. Following the settlement and descendants of the Sartwell Creek area in Roulette & Pleasant Valley townships in Potter County, PA, not far from the New York-PA border. Baker combined research into written sources and oral genealogical sources to create a fairly complete picture of the land and its people from 1811 through 1986. He also sprinkled old photos and graphics which are well documented and explained. There are several family listings of descendants that are invaluable to genealogists. 474 pages including the 41 page index.

That’s it. Just getting my feet wet if you will. An appropriate start for me I suppose since I am a huge Potter County History Buff AND Baker was actually researching my paternal grandmother’s family. In fact, Baker starts with the first settlers on Potter County, the family of Benjamin Burt. I didn’t know it at the time I first got this book as a gift from my grandmother, but I guess Benjamin Burt would be my great-great-great-great-great-great-grandpa.

I LOVE local histories. I’m reading one now of the Sabula & Hickory areas of Clearfield county where my wife served as a pastor for a year. If you ever run across a local history, save it and share it with the local history society or genealogy group. Sometimes there are only a few copies left and when elderly relatives die, many families don’t recognize the treasure they are about to throw away. OK… commercial is done!

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Irish Eyes Are Smiling…

“I arise today Through a mighty strength: God’s power to guide me, God’s might to uphold me,
“I arise today Through a mighty strength: God’s power to guide me, God’s might to uphold me, God’s wisdom to teach me, God’s eyes to watch over me, God’s ear to hear me, God’s Word to give me speech, God’s hand to guard me, God’s way to lie before me, God’s shield to shelter me, God’s host to secure me: Against the snares of devils, Against the seductions of vices, Against the lusts of nature, Against everyone who shall wish me ill, Whether far or near, many or few.”
—St. Patrick of Ireland, in The One Year Book of Personal Prayer, May 21st entry, (Tyndale:1991)

When I was growing up, I loved St. Patrick’s Day because I could truthfully tell people that my family is Irish… or at least one strand of it is.

I used to love hearing my Great-Grandma Haynes tell how her Grandma Meacham had come from Ireland as a child. Nancy Ann Foy was 12 years old when an older sister and her husband, a man named O’Donald, finally decided to emigrate to the United States. When another sister backed out of the journey, Nancy Ann was tapped to make the journey, and the move, with them.

Somewhere in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, Mrs. O’Donald fell ill and died. Some other Irish immigrants, named Sullivan and Cavanaugh, took Nancy Ann under their wing for the rest of the voyage. When they arrived in New York, the grief-stricken husband returned home to Ireland. Nancy Ann stayed in America with her new found “family” and moved with them to Potter County. She worked as a “domestic,” eventually married Franklin Meacham, raised a family, and was known as a “hard-working, witty, sharp-tongued, lovable Irishwoman.” She died in 1893 at age 51.

As we observe Lent more than a century later, I find myself looking to this branch of my family tree and still find it bearing “fruit” today.

First of all, even though she found herself alone by age 12 in a far off land, her faith was strong. Her upbringing in the Catholic Church in Ireland was deeply rooted, and family records tell how she, in a non-Catholic area, ended up getting every one of her ten children baptized in her faith. She was described as a “staunch Catholic” who was not easily dissuaded in her faith. In contrast, how often do we now-a-days look for any excuse to leave our “religion” behind? Any reason to get out of church seems to suffice.

Secondly, Grandma Meacham, once she set her mind on her goal, even as a young child, didn’t look back. Like the Biblical Daniel and Joseph, she didn’t set out to be left all alone in a foreign land and yet, like those two teens from the Bible, she didn’t pine away for what was lost or what “could-have-been.” Instead, she set her face towards the future and began to create a new chapter in her life. She lived almost 40 years after arriving here, yet, best as we can tell, she never reconnected with her former life across the sea. How often do we spend so much time looking backwards at our past and the glorious moments of yesteryear, that we stop moving forward towards the future?

As we continue celebrating Lent throughout this month, we are confronted with the same kind of questions and choices my Grandma Meacham faced.

  • First, will our faith in Christ be something left for church and religious times only… or will He be a constant guide and companion in whatever circumstances we face?
  • Second, can we move beyond our past into the present reality and look towards the future?

Our answers affect our future, in our daily lives and in our faith walk, as much as they did for my Grandma Meacham.

—from my pastor’s letter in the SOUND OF THE TRUMPET, FUMC, Reynoldsville, PA March 2007

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What’s In A Name?


Within a couple of months of moving to DuBois, PA, as a pastor in 2003, I encountered the city’s annual Tom Mix Festival, celebrating the early 20th Century western film star and his roots in the DuBois area. This week (Oct. 12th) marks 66 years since his death. This was my sermon the weekend of the Tom Mix festival in 2003.

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I have spent a great deal of time during the past three months trying to learn names. And, little by little, I’m starting to get some of your names into this thick skull of mine… Some of them are even the right names.

Also during these past few months… actually since my very first night of meeting Mt. Zion folks back in early February… I’ve had people struggling with my name as well… just like people have for the past four decades. How do you remember a name like ‘Dayton?’ A great majority of the time I find that people think I’m saying ‘David’ because they can’t imagine anyone being named like a town in Ohio.

Then there’s the last name. Not too many letters in it… just three. That was pretty handy when I was in boot camp trying to stencil everything I owned. Pity the guys named Horowitz or Wojeckhowski.

But mine was just those three little letters… M… I…. X.
And nowadays I inevitably get one of two immediate questions
1. Is that M-I-C-K-S? …or…
2. Are you related to Tom?

During these past few days, as the annual Tom Mix Festival has been going on here in DuBois, my family name has drawn attention… but not because of my reputation… but because of a man named MIX who lived here at the end of the nineteenth century… a showman who would become very famous and very rich by the name of Tom Mix.

Names are pretty important aren’t they?

Remember elementary school? One of the absolute, most horrible things someone could do to you was to call you a name… ‘wimp,’ ‘sissy,’ ‘tomboy’ ‘cheater…’ and there were others that were even worse… and meaner… and more debilitating to the receiver of that name calling.

Our names identify who we are… not that every Mary is virginally pure in motive like the Mary of Luke 1, or that every George is presidential material like the two Bushes and Mr. Washington.

No, people aren’t like their name… but that name they wear comes to be associated with them… and to speak a person’s name is to identify that man or woman’s reputation.

Thus, to speak of Benedict Arnold or Judas Iscariot, instantly brings to mind, not so much every aspect of that person’s life, but their reputation of betrayal springs into view.

To speak of Abraham Lincoln or Rudy Guliante suggests strong leadership in the midst of crisis and the mention of names like Billy Graham or John Wesley brings into focus an image of honesty and faithfulness in spiritually leading and caring for thousands.

So, this attention to my name… and the fact that it’s NOT because of my reputation but rather this Hollywood cowboy, has forced me to find out more about this man who used the MIX name during the past two centuries.

Tom Mix died in 1940 and I wasn’t born until 1962, so I wasn’t a fan of his… I’ve never heard his radio show and never seen one of his more than 300 short films… although I bought one of each this weekend so I can see what he was like.

So far, a single comic book, is all I’ve ever seen… although I’ve read a couple of biographies and stories about him.

To begin with, I grew up with the family stories of how we were related to this really famous person named Tom Mix. My grandfather, John Dayton Mix, spoke highly of Tom Mix, and always laughingly said things like: “Yeah, I’m related to Tom Mix, but not close enough to help me… nor to hurt Tom.”

I suppose Grandpa thought his reputation as a commoner might tarnish a famous movie star’s reputation.

It was this weekend, as I met an even more distant relative who was here from California for the Festival, that I finally was able to conclusively determine whether or not we are related. And we are!

And it’s even more distant than grandpa even knew… you have to go back to the early 1700’s to my grandfather’s great- great- great- great- great-grandfather to connect the two Mix family lines.

OK, so now I know… but what’s that got to do with anything practical in life… It really isn’t going to help me tap into the fabulous wealth of Tom Mix… that was gone before Tom died for the most part, thanks to the Great Depression and some personal choices and unfortunate circumstances in his life.

So what’s the value of knowing?

And I draw your attention to Proverbs 22:1 where we read: “A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold. “

As I have heard about Tom Mix and the reputation he had on screen of being a good role model and refusing to ever even play a part that had him smoking or drinking or gambling suggests that a connection with this man, is not so bad. And millions of youngsters in the last century identified with his characters and his message he proclaimed of “Take care of your body, keep your mind clean, and always be truthful.”
In one biography, one of his wives recalls a time when Tom confronted a script writer about a script that called for Tom to be smoking, gambling, and drinking in the next film…

Mrs. Mix writes:

The script writer was taken aback. “I was only trying to get away from the old formula,” he explained.

The writer was a little hesitant. “Well, I still think it’s a good script.”

“Sure,” said Tom. “It’ll be swell when we cut out some things. The role I play on the screen has got to represent a man of high ideals. Just remember that when you do the script over, then we’ll come out all right on it. We’ve got to convince the boyhood of America that drinking and gambling are bad, that physical fitness always wins out over dissipation, that a good life brings rewards and evildoing brings punishment.”

—Olive Stokes Mix, The Fabulous Tom Mix, 1957, Chapter 8

OK… so with reports like that… and the fact that he really did make his movies that way… and didn’t use stunt men even for dangerous scenes… gives me some pleasure to have my name associated with his… Presenting a good image… positively influencing the youth and children… and conveying the dangers of drinking, gambling, and smoking… I like that. That’s a good reputation… Yay Tom…

HOWEVER…

PUBLIC IMAGE can never be all there is for reputation is there?

Off screen, it seems, my distant cousin, so many times removed, was known for his carousing, and his inability to tell a straight story… And to this day, outside of our area where we know better, there are still reports a full hundred years later of how Tom was born & raised in this place or that out West, rather than lowly, Eastern Mix Run and DuBois, Pa. And the fanciful tales continue of his heroic antics with Teddy Roosevelt and the Rough Riders in battles that Tom may or may not have ever been near.

Since I arrived, I’ve heard local residents tell me that they’re pleased to have people come to enjoy their town, but wonder why such attention is given to a man who went from wife to wife… and perhaps woman to woman… and who was not such a great role model in his real life.

One man told me just yesterday, “It seems that Tom Mix left town one step ahead of the sherrif… nothing major…. just carrying on.”

Tom Mix, it seems, had two reputations… far more than any one human can carry on his or her own. A public persona… the movie image of wholesomeness that he would meticulously cultibvate and guard… and even contact various clergy to see if his image was appropriate for kids… and then the ghuard dropped, back home, off-screen image where he would do as he wished, would spend as he liked, and would drive as fast and as furiously as he wanted…

And that brings me to the second Scripture passage this morning:
Ecclesiastes 10:1 “As dead flies give perfume a bad smell, so a little folly outweighs wisdom and honor.”

The perfume can be the very costliest and most expensive there is… with the greatest smell you can imagine…. But let a few dead things sit in it for a while and the whole thing will stink… And you can have a reputation of honor and be known for wisdom and kindness and being a good role model, but “a little folly” behind the scenes will reveal the true nature of your reputation.

As it did here for Tom Mix… the people around here who knew Tom the man… weren’t convinced by a public persona when they had seen him in real-life right here.

So… I ask you… what’s in a name?

And the answer is… NOTHING… unless you put it there.

Yes, I’m related to Tom Mix, but my identity isn’t as a distant cousin of a former wealthy movie star. My identity comes, as does yours, in the name I make for myself… what do I want to be known as… to be known for… Not in who I’m related to… good or bad… but who I am.

I daily help redefine what the MIX name will mean… and I become a role model for those around me… And a good name is better than all the riches of the world.

How about you?

What’s YOUR name say to people… What kind of reputation have you earned?

Is it good?

Is it bad?

Does it LOOK good, even while you wallow in the muck and mire?

As we have seen with television preachers, politicians, and athletes, all it takes to ruin sweet-smelling reputation are a few dead flies… a few uncontrolled unrestrained choices…

What’s in YOUR name?

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