Delayed Birth Certificates

Delayed Birth Certificates are such a gift to genealogists.   They were created for many different reasons, but our ancestors especially needed them during the late 1930’s and early 1940’s when registering for Social Security, which required proof of birth. These documents can provide us with information which we might not be able to learn from any other source.

Back Row, Left to Right:  Thomas Furlong, George Lockhart Furlong, Edward Thomas Furlong, Frederick Waters Furlong.  Front Row, Left to Right:  John Frederick Furlong, Albert Harry Furlong, James William Furlong.
Back Row, Left to Right: Thomas Furlong, George Lockhart Furlong, Edward Thomas Furlong, Frederick Waters Furlong. Front Row, Left to Right: John Frederick Furlong, Albert Harry Furlong, James William Furlong.

I love this photograph of the seven sons of my great-great grandparents, James Furlong and Mary Ball.  The couple emigrated independently from Wales, settled in Maryland where they married and had their first two children, and then they migrated to Washington County, Pennsylvania between 1864 and 1866, most likely after the end of the Civil War in 1865.

The seven sons were all born in Coal Bluff, Union Township, Washington County, Pennsylvania, between 1866 and 1885.  They were all coal miners, beginning at a very young age.  We think the photograph was taken in about 1904.  My great-grandfather is James William Furlong, on the bottom right of the photo.  I like his attitude, with the little tilt of his head and the slight smile on his face!

It’s possible that all of these men might have needed to file a delayed birth certificate, since they were all born prior to the time when births were registered by the County (1893), and it’s very likely they all would have wanted to register for Social Security.  So I went to the Washington County Courthouse in Washington, Pennsylvania, to find out.

Washington County Courthouse, looking up through stairwell
Washington County Courthouse, looking up through stairwell

The Washington County courthouse is nothing short of magnificent.  It was built in 1900, and is still in operation today.  I absolutely love doing research there, especially because I can imagine my ancestors visiting the building and seeing the same structure as I do.

The vital records are in the Register of Wills office.  The counties in Pennsylvania kept records of birth and death from 1893 – 1906; after that, they were recorded at the State level.  Marriages were recorded beginning in 1885, and continue to the present.  In fact, when I was there this week, I saw several young couples come in to obtain a marriage license, much like young couples would have done 100 years ago.

The office has an index to the Delayed Births.  It’s the original handwritten index in the old style over-sized ledger book.  It’s organized loosely alphabetically, with each letter in its own section, but it’s not alphabetized within the letter section. I went directly to the F section, for Furlong.  I found three of the seven brothers listed in the index: John, Thomas, and Frederick.

One of the clerks then led me to a basement vault where the original certificates are housed.  It was literally a vault, with a big heavy thick door.  The clerk found the books I needed, directed me to a little desk in the vault, and told me I could take photographs of the documents.  She then left me alone to my work.

john-frederick-furlong-delayed-birth-cert-rotated

Look at the information on this document!  Not only does John name his parents, but he provides very specific locations of their birthplaces in the old country.  He also provides the ages of his parents when he was born, how many other children they had had at the time, and how many had died.  There’s also his original signature, and his current address.

I don’t know how the County handled registration of births that occurred elsewhere, either in another county, another state, or even another country.  But, as we all know, where there are rules, there are always exceptions, and it’s worth checking.  One of the seven brothers lived in Allegheny County, so I’ll look for his Delayed Birth Certificate there, just in case they allowed it.

Even though I already knew most of the information on the certificates I found, it’s important to have as much evidence from as many different sources as possible.  It’s great to have confirmation of what I’ve previously concluded.  And, if I had checked for these certificates earlier, the search for my ancestors’ origins in the old country might have been easier!

P.S.:  Just a note for anyone who might be reading this who’s interested in the Furlong family:  James and Mary Furlong had three daughters as well.  Sarah Furlong Crockett died at age 36 in 1899 of typhoid fever, but I did search the Delayed Birth Records Index for Mary Ann Furlong Walker and Martha Furlong Payne Castor, with no luck.

Home in Washington County

Chris - happy in Washington County
Chris – happy in Washington County

I’m so happy to be here in Washington County!  As we drove in last Friday evening, crossing the Monongahela River, I experienced a great rush of familiarity, and even an awe of the place.  It is magnificent country, lush green everywhere with rolling hills, and expansive views around every other corner.  And I recognized so many place names, many from my family history research, and some from my childhood visits here to see my grandparents and extended family.

For the first time in over a month, I slept like a log, right through the night.  There’s something about being here….

The last two times I’ve been here have been with my mother; the most recent was five years ago.  I’m so thankful for those visits with her because she was able to show me the location of her grandparents’ farm, which is still standing.

As I’ve said before, the main reason I came here is to bury the cremains of my parents and my two brothers in the family cemetery.   I wanted to take care of that right away, so that’s what we did yesterday.  It was certainly a difficult and sad task, and brought back the pain of losing them all.  But at the same time, it’s closure for me, and a satisfying completion of a task which my mother asked me to do.  So the sadness is mixed with a sense of relief.  My family is finally home, and my mother is near her beloved grandparents, which was her wish.    May they all rest in peace together.

Now I feel like Washington County, Pennsylvania, is more my home than ever before.

The campground where we’re staying has everything we need, including terrific wi-fi, which is why I’m posting so much all in one day!  The sites are close together and there aren’t many trees, but we have full hook-ups, we’re sitting on level gravel, and the grassy areas between the sites means we aren’t tracking dirt or sand into the rig.  We have a picnic table between our two rigs, which we’ve set up with a checkered tablecloth and a large citronella candle.  Add two chairs and a fire pit, and we’re very comfy here!

I’m going to take some time today to plan my research trip tomorrow to Washington, the county seat.  I’ll be starting with the land records, to see what information I can track down about my great-grandparents’ farm.

Washington County campsite
Washington County campsite

Crossing the Appalachians

The trip from Gettysburg to western Pennsylvania was quite an adventure.  I’ve driven to Pittsburgh from Bucks County many times.  I was certainly aware that the Appalachian Mountains went through the area, but they were something to be admired, and not feared.  I’ve learned that when driving the rig, they are to be feared, respected, and then conquered if possible.

Our plan was to stop at the 9/11 Memorial in Shanksville on the way to our campground in Washington County.  We carefully chose a route which maximized the use of interstate highways, generally much easier to navigate than the smaller roads.  But to get to the memorial, there was no avoiding the two-laners.

Flight 93 Crash Site from Visitor Center, photo courtesy National Park Service
Flight 93 Crash Site from Visitor Center, photo courtesy National Park Service

The stop at the memorial was very somber, but it was important to us to see it.  One of the heroes of Flight 93, Todd Beamer, was a colleague of Eric’s at Oracle Corporation.  Eric was deeply affected by Todd’s death, and attended his funeral back in 2001.  Todd was the person who famously declared “Let’s Roll” when it was time to storm the cockpit.  The Visitor’s Center is very well done, with photos, videos, and artifacts.  Those forty heroes did an amazing thing that day, saving many lives at the probable target in Washington, DC.   We were glad we made the stop.

I can’t recall now exactly at what point we started with the hills, or which road we were on at the time, because both the two-laners and the interstate had steep grades up and down, before and after our stop at the memorial.  But that day, I learned something about weight, and how much my rig can handle.

The truck has a Triton V-10 engine and it really never occurred to me that it would have any issues pulling itself up hills.  My dinghy is very small and light.  But if the hill was long, the engine really struggled, sometimes to the point where I wondered if I would make it to the top!  If we were on a two lane road, I felt very badly for the train of cars behind me, as I slowed further and further down, several times as low as 25 mph.

I’m thinking ahead to my planned trip to the Finger Lakes area of New York – surely I will need to cross some mountains to get there.  What if the truck can’t make it up a hill – what if I get stuck?  I’ll be alone then, without Eric.  It’s a daunting thought.

So now I’ve started to think very critically about each and every item I have stowed.  Am I really going to use the 23 pounds of exercise weights I brought along?  How about the two boxes of Enviro-Logs Eric gave me, which weigh around 60 pounds? Do I really need six beach towels, or twelve pair of shoes? The extra box of office supplies?  What about the sleeping bags and the tent I’m carrying, just in case I have visitors?  The case of Barefoot Pinot Grigio? It all adds up.

I’m glad I’ve planned a stop in Bucks County in about a month – I will most definitely be offloading as much as possible into my storage unit there.  But meanwhile, I seriously have to figure out how to plan my route around the hills on my next leg.  Maybe if I just drink all my wine it will help??

Gettysburg

Gettysburg Battlefield at Sunset
Gettysburg Battlefield at Sunset

If you’ve never been to Gettysburg, I highly recommend it.

First of all, the countryside is stunning, as you can see from the photo.  As you look out over the battlefield, you see rolling hills, stone walls, green meadows, wooded areas, and mountains in the distance.

It’s difficult to juxtapose this peaceful and bucolic setting with the horrible fighting which took place here, resulting in 7,000 deaths, and many more wounded.  We attended an excellent ranger talk on the battlefield, which helped us to envision the soldiers, see the clouds of smoke, and hear the sounds of the cannon and musket fire, at times so loud that the officers’ commands could not be heard by the men.  We visited the cemetery where Lincoln’s famous Gettysburg Address was delivered, and where the Union soldiers are buried.  We watched various films in the very impressive National Park Service Visitor’s Center, and saw battlefield artifacts.   We purchased the auto tour CD from the Visitor’s Center, and drove to all the significant sites, which was an excellent way to get the full overview.

Eric has two great-great-grandfathers who fought at Gettysburg, one on his mother’s side and one on his father’s side, both from Elberton in Elbert County, Georgia.  They enlisted in the 15th Georgia Infantry on the same day in 1861.  Hosea Ballou Mattox was a Private, only 20 years old at the time of the Battle, and was shot in the neck and captured there.  Peter J. Shannon was a Major.  Certainly they would have known each other.

Hosea Ballou Mattox, 15th Georgia Infantry
Hosea Ballou Mattox, 15th Georgia Infantry

An online search yielded a fascinating account written by one of the officers of the 15th Georgia, Colonel DuBose, as well as a National Park Service blog entry, both of which described a battle near Devil’s Den on 3 July 1863, where the unit suffered great losses.  Our son isn’t much older than Hosea was at the time, and I can’t imagine what such a young man must have been going through, watching his comrades fall around him, and himself being shot and captured.

We located the place at Devil’s Den where they fought, and it was quite a feeling to stand there and know that Hosea and Peter saw the same rocks, the same hills, the same view, 153 years ago.

Benning's Brigade Sign at Devil's Den
Benning’s Brigade Sign at Devil’s Den

We stayed at Gettysburg for three nights at the Artillery Ridge Campground, which was very expensive ($60/night) but a comfortable and pleasant place.   So, we had two full days to explore Gettysburg, used every minute, and wished we had more time.

Finally on the Road!

Last Tuesday morning, on the 20th, Eric and I finally started west, heading to the Pittsburgh area via Gettysburg.  I didn’t sleep very well the night before – probably a combination of excitement and anxiety!  As I’ve said before, driving the RV by itself is one thing.  But driving it while towing a car is at another level entirely.

The Preparation

I very meticulously made a checklist so I wouldn’t forget all the little things I had to do, especially since this was my first time.  My plan was to create a checklist which I will laminate, and then re-use with an erasable marker each time.  There are so many critical items, and I don’t want to rely on my memory. For example, you don’t want to forget to close and lock an exterior compartment, and end up with your belongings littering the road behind you.  So I printed out the checklist and put it on a clipboard (what a nerd!).

Hitching up the Dinghy
Hitching up the Dinghy

The first thing I did outside was to work on securing my awning.  During the previous week, the RV mechanic had shown me how to do it.  I had taken a few notes, which I’d transcribed into my checklist.  Well, as soon as I unlocked one of the side brackets, that side of the awning immediately fell several feet, and drenched my nice neat and tidy checklist with gallons of water which had been sitting on the top of it.  This should not have been a surprise to me, since it had poured rain the day before, but I was unprepared.  Another lesson learned!

When I got to the point where I was supposed to push the awning up and it was supposed to roll itself onto the holder as it rose to meet the RV at the top, I realized that water was inside the two layers of the awning.  A great deal of water.   I’ve written before that I knew I had an awning problem when I bought the rig, but I thought it had some life left in it before it needed replacing.  Evidently not.  After consulting with Eric, we made three holes on the underside of the awning so the water could run out, and then closed it up.  A new awning is definitely on the list for when I take it into the shop in October.

Then when I was securing the shower door, I noticed some water in the base, and realized that the grey water tank was full and had slightly overflowed.  The weekly pump out at the campsite was on Wednesdays, and this was Tuesday morning.  I hadn’t overflowed before, so this was a surprise.  Most of my grey water use is by washing dishes; I’ve taken my showers in the bathhouse.  Thank goodness the overflow goes directly into the shower, and this bit of information was good to know.

The rest of the packing up was uneventful, including hitching up the dinghy to the RV.  And we were off – at the crack of noon!!

The Trip

According to Google maps, the drive to Gettysburg would be three hours in a normal car.  We figured it would take us four hours.  It took us five.  We did make a longish stop for lunch, but there were lots of times when we weren’t going the speed limit.  Eric drove behind me to keep an eye on me!

The scariest part was when I found myself in a construction zone with only two lanes.  I was in the right lane with no shoulder, and a stream of huge trucks was zooming past me on the left.  When trucks pass you, they create this vacuum which either sucks you toward them, or pushes you to the right, so you have to constantly compensate.  And I had no wiggle room.  Talk about white knuckles!  Eric told me later that he was sure I was going to scrape the concrete construction barrier – that’s how close I was to the right side.  But I didn’t, and with more practice as the day went on, I was able to better judge the center of the lane, and also prepare for those passing trucks.

And in between being terrified, I had this incredible feeling of relief and amazement that we were actually finally on the road, and all the plans were about to become reality.

Fall Schedule

We’re heading out on Tuesday the 20th, so our adventures are about to begin!  A lot of people have been asking where we’re headed next, so here’s the plan.

I’ve spent quite a bit of time looking for campgrounds and making reservations at various places.  I think I’ve mentioned before that we’ve found that it’s less expensive to stay at a campground for a week or a month, rather than for just a few nights.  So that’s generally what I’m trying to do to keep costs down.  Surprisingly, camping fees are pretty high and will take a big chunk of the budget if I’m not careful.

I’ve already written about plans for the first couple of stops – Gettysburg and then Washington County, PA.

After that, Eric will head west to Ohio, and my plan is to go to a campground in Franklinville, NY, which is in Cattaraugus County.   Some of my ancestors were farmers in the area in the early 1800’s.  I’ll spend a week there, visit them in a cemetery in the little town of Delevan, and do research at the County Courthouse in Little Valley.

My next stop will be a campground in Marathon, NY, which is in Cortland County.  I have some ancestors who farmed in Homer, just north of the town of Cortland, in the late 1700’s. One of them was born in Wales, served as a Captain in the Revolutionary War in a New Jersey regiment, and after the war migrated up to Homer.  He’s buried in the Atwater Cemetery there.

By then it will be mid-October, and I’m going to have to start worrying about avoiding freezing temperatures.  Most of the campgrounds in the upstate NY area close around Columbus Day, or by October 15 at the latest.  So, it will be time to head south.

I’ll make a stop in Bucks County for about a week, staying at a campground in Ottsville.  It will be an opportunity to see friends, go to a doctor, and visit my storage unit if necessary.

Next, I’m going to spend a week with my BFF, aka my sister, Carol, on eastern Long Island.  It’s probably been decades since I’ve spent a whole week with her, so that will be wonderful!  While I’m on Long Island, I’m going to leave my RV with Rick of Central Jersey RV in Jackson, so he can re-seal the roof, replace the awning, and make some other repairs.  It’s perfect timing, since he needs the rig for a few days, and I’d rather not drive it in the NYC area, anyway.

After that, I’ll start my trek south, stopping in Richmond, Virginia for a couple of nights to see my cousin Betsy, who is another sister!  Our mothers were sisters, so Betsy and I have a strong blood bond, and I LOVE being with her and her wonderful husband.  They raise sheep, so it’s delightful to be on their farm with the smell of the earth and the animals.

Then it’s off to Georgia, about November 1st – ish.  Amazingly, 100% of Eric’s ancestors are from Georgia, back 200 years to when the State was first formed.  I have never researched on site in Georgia, and there is SO much to do!  Eric and I are meeting at an old family cemetery on someone’s private land near Monroe, Walton County, where we will “boondock” for three or four nights (boondocking is camping on land for free, with no hookups) while we work on cleaning up the cemetery.

For the next couple of weeks, I’ll stay at a campground near Athens, Georgia, which is centrally located to several counties where I’ll be doing research.  I’m not sure yet whether Eric will be with me, or not.  Then in mid-November, for the week before Thanksgiving, Eric and I will stay at a campground near Jacksonville, Florida.  We’re going there because that’s where our mail forwarding service is.  We want to become Florida residents, so we’ll be getting Florida driver’s licenses, titling our vehicles there, etc.

We’re going to spend Thanksgiving with Eric’s sister and mother, who live in Cape Canaveral.  Frustratingly, the campground where we want to stay is completely booked, and another option close by doesn’t take reservations until a few weeks prior.  So, we don’t have that week locked in, and hoping for the best.

Then I’m headed to Sarasota, Florida.  I’ve decided to store the RV for three months (December, January and February), and rent my cousin’s house there.  There aren’t too many places for me to camp and avoid risk of frost during those months, and I want to stay on the east coast for now.  Staying at my cousin’s house and storing the RV is less expensive than camping, so that’s what I’m going to do, at least for this year.

I’m going to fly to Seattle to see my descendants for two weeks at the end of December!  I’m getting a little studio for a week near my daughter’s house – both kids live in the city.  For the second week, Eric is flying in and the four of us will be staying in a beautiful vacation rental near Index, Washington, in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains.  I’m sure it will be a magical end to quite an amazing year in my life!

Research in Western PA

washington-county-map
Washington County, Pennsylvania

The first stop on my travels will be Washington County, Pennsylvania.  Well, actually it will be the second stop, since Eric and I will be visiting Gettysburg for three nights on the way.  But Washington County will be the first place where I’ll be doing genealogical research.

My mother grew up in Pittsburgh, and summered in Union Township near the little town of Finleyville, on the farm of her much beloved grandparents.  There’s a cemetery there where her extended family, back three generations, is buried.  That’s where I’ll bury my parents and my two brothers when I’m there, which is my reason for making this the first stop on my trip.  So if there is a place which I could call home, this would be it.

I need to spend about three months there at some point.   I’m so fascinated by my extended family history in the area that I can envision writing a book about them.  This visit will only be for a week, though.  That’s longer – by far – than any other time I’ve been there, but not long enough.  It’s just not the right time of year for an extended stay.

My mother’s paternal line is filled with miners, most going way back into the 1700’s.  Three Furlong brothers (James, Lewis, and Thomas) came to America from south Wales mining country in the mid-1800’s.  Other families in this line, the Paynes, Weightmans and Tunneys, all came from Northumberland County in northern England in the 1870’s and 1880’s.

One of the things that fascinates me is how so many relatives from each family in England came to the same place in America, and then intermarried here, to the point where many couples were second or third cousins.  I wonder if they were aware of that.  I know this was common with all families, but this is the only area where I’ve found it happening in mine.

In addition, their relationships and activities tie together the old country and the new.  For example, in some cases, one sibling went back to England while the other stayed in America.  And of course another fascinating aspect is their occupation – the life of a miner was extremely difficult.  The family suffered many deaths in the mines.

I need to decide exactly what I want to accomplish while I’m there next week.  There are actually three counties involved for my extended family:  Washington, Allegheny, and Fayette.

One thing I might do is get the full divorce file for my grandparents.  They divorced in 1944 in Allegheny County.  I have parts but not all of it.  I’ll have to check to see where I would find it.

Another time when I was in Washington County, I found the original delayed birth certificates for the County.  In the mid-20th century, if an ancestor  needed a birth certificate (for example to apply for Social Security, or a passport), and they were born before birth certificates were issued by the State (in Pennsylvania, this was 1906), then they could obtain a delayed birth certificate from the County.  As I recall, the certificates were stored in the basement of the courthouse.  We were in a hurry so I couldn’t make copies of them at the time.  I wrote down the information as best I could, but there are so many more that I need, and I would really like to have photocopies or photographs of the originals.

A third project that comes to mind is to research the land.  My 81 year old uncle (my mother’s brother) has asked me when the family acquired the grandparents’ farm where the kids spent their summers, and he wants to know if I can find out anything about the house burning down and being rebuilt in the early 1900’s.  I’d like to find the answers for him.  I haven’t had time to do much land research before.

I think that sounds like a reasonable plan which could be accomplished in a week, so that is my goal.  More to come as I do the research!

RV Repairs

Eric and I have both had our share of issues with our rigs.  He bought his from a dealer, and I bought mine from a private seller, so there are differences in how they were delivered.  The dealer fixed a few items for him before the RV was delivered to him.   I knew when I bought mine that there were a couple of issues.

The first thing I needed to have was a backup camera.  There was no way I was going to try to drive that rig, especially towing a car, without a backup camera.  After doing some research, I ended up buying a Garmin GPS especially for RV’s that had a wireless backup camera attachment.  I needed a specialist to install it, though.

I also had a leak in the faucet in the shower – I knew that when I bought it.   I needed a second battery installed, and one of the cabinets didn’t close right.  The manual crank for the roof antenna had broken.  But none of it was critical, and getting moved out of the house was a priority, so we didn’t initially make any arrangements for repairs.

And then we started smelling what seemed like someone’s septic tank.  Our rigs were parked together at my house, so it was hard to tell which one was smelly.  Eric thought the smell could possibly be propane, but we ultimately concluded that it was the septic on my rig.  The smell was so bad that I knew I couldn’t live in it for a second like that.  So we made arrangements to take my rig into the shop on the Monday before closing, figuring we would drive to the campground from the shop once the work was done.

The day before we took it in, we realized we hadn’t smelled the awful smell in a few days.  Eric checked his propane and realized that he had none, and that’s when we suspected a propane leak in his rig.  So they both went into the shop on the Monday before closing.

That trip to the shop cost me about $750.  They installed the wireless camera, the second battery, and fixed the cabinet.  To fix the faucet, they took it apart and reassembled it, but said they had no water to run through the rig to check it.  They ordered a new part for the antenna crank.  On Eric’s, they tightened up a connection on the propane, and declared it fixed.

So when we got to the campground and connected water, the faucet in the shower in my rig was still leaking, maybe worse than before, and the kitchen faucet was also leaking.  And, Eric had a septic smell in his rig.  The campground management recommended a mobile RV mechanic named Rick with Central Jersey RV Repair.  Rick and his brother Kevin were wonderful.  They came to the campground, fixed my two faucets and sealed Eric’s toilet.  They installed a new digital antenna to replace the old analog one I had on the roof.  And that repair was another $700.

Then, they told me that the roof of my RV needs to be re-sealed at a cost of about $2,500, and I need a new awning.  Sheesh, it’s almost like the money pit that the house was! But the roof repair is critical – you never want any water leaks in the RV.  They’re hard to locate, and the damage from a water leak can completely ruin the RV.  And once they do that work, it’s warrantied for something like 12 years.  I’m going to make arrangements to have it done in October.

This account doesn’t even go into the details of Eric’s multiple trips to the dealer regarding repairs to his slide-out, or the final resolution of his propane problem.  Suffice it to say that we’re hoping we’re addressing all the repair issues now, so we don’t have any problems down the road.

Trip Planning – First Campground

I spent a lot of time over the summer, sitting with my computer late at night, planning where I wanted to go in the RV.  My travel plans are very much tied to my genealogical research, and the places where my ancestors lived.

I knew that I would need to stay locally at first, for a short while.  I would need time to make final preparations to get on the road, and to finish up whatever administrative items I had to take care of after the house sold.  As the time got closer and it was time to make reservations somewhere, Eric and I decided that it would be helpful for both of us to stay at the same local campground together, and that we should take a full month for this “shakedown” time.

We ended up coming to Pine Cone Resort in Freehold Township, NJ, which is east of Bucks County along 195, near Jackson.  We brought the rigs here three days before closing, and began living here so we could do the final clean-out of the house.  We arranged to stay a full month (which equals just four weeks) for $675 plus electricity.  This included water and electric hook-ups, and weekly pump-outs of our black and grey tanks (the black tank is another word for the toilet tank, and the gray tank is the water used for showers, dishes, etc.).

The decision to stay locally for a full month turned out to be a really wise decision.  We needed this time to make sure the RV’s are working properly (see post on RV Repairs), to make sure we have the supplies we need, and just in general to recover from the crazy summer and enjoy a few days of doing nothing.

After the “shakedown” period, my plan all along has been to make Washington County, Pennsylvania, my first stop.  Washington County is just south of Pittsburgh, and is the area where my mother was raised.  There is a cemetery in a small town there called Finleyville where my mother’s paternal family is all buried, back to her great-grandparents.   My plan is to bury the remains of my parents and my two brothers there as well.

Yes, I have the ashes of my family here in the RV with me.  And since I don’t want to carry them with me, and don’t want to put them in storage, it’s time to bury them, to put them to rest together, and to officially close that chapter of my life.  More on that in a later post.

Eric, in his true supportive fashion, has offered to go with me to Finleyville to bury my family.  He is headed out to Ohio anyway, so it’s on his way.  And I’m so glad that I don’t have to do it alone!

And, Eric suggested that we stop at Gettysburg on the way.  Neither of us has ever been there, but both have always wanted to go.  So we’ve reserved three nights at Artillery Ridge Campground at Gettysburg, and then we’ll head to a campground in Washington County, stopping at Shanksville (where Flight 93 went down on 9/11) for a couple of hours on the way.

Eric has a couple of ancestors, Confederate soldiers, who fought in the Battle of Gettysburg, one of whom was wounded and captured there.    So the tour of the site will have personal meaning as well.

Connectivity

One thing which was very frustrating during the initial days and weeks was the lack of connection to the internet.  The campground claimed to have wifi, but the strength of the signal was quite pathetic and not worth the trouble of using it.  I am a person who uses the internet constantly, so this was a real issue for me.

I called Verizon and they recommended a personal hotspot or jetpack which would give me 24 G’s of data per month.  The device is also known by the name “Mifi”.  So I ordered one.  I’ll report back on that once I’ve had a chance to try it out!

Update:  after a couple of weeks of frustration with Verizon getting my data plan updated, I did finally get the jetpak working, and I have to say that it’s nothing less than awesome! It’s expensive – it adds $80/month to my Verizon bill – but it’s completely worth it!

I did have a panic attack initially when I plugged in the Mifi and within an hour it had used 2 G’s of data – even though I wasn’t on the internet at all!  At that rate, I would run through 24 G’s in a flash.  After a call to Verizon, I learned that even when you don’t have your internet browser open, the laptop is still doing background tasks, updates, etc. which use data.  So I googled that – and learned about all the “data hogs” in the apps on the laptop which need to be turned off.  The most important one is to flip a toggle switch which tells Windows that your internet connection is metered – that way, the computer has to check with you before doing a Windows update.

In the RV World, the mobile internet experts are a couple doing business by the name “Technomadia”.  They wrote a book, which I have, explaining all about connectivity on the road.  They recently did a blog update about this new Verizon plan which they have purchased – and I was very pleased to see that it’s the same one I have.

I’m extremely happy with my jetpack!