Goodenough in Wisconsin

It’s hard to believe I’m in Wisconsin in late September in 90+ degree heat.  When planning this part of the trip way back in the spring, I was concerned that it might be too cold!  Last year, I saw frost in upstate New York in early October, and I was hoping to avoid that.  As it turns out, no worries there!

Earlier this month in Ohio, temperatures were in the 40’s at night – delicious sleeping weather! I tend to have an instinctive urge to make soup when the weather turns cold (don’t we all?),  so I went out and bought the fixins for two different kinds of crock-pot soup: split pea with ham, and a black bean and veggie soup.  Once here, though, considering the weather, I made the soups but then froze them for later.  Who wants soup in this heat??

It was a long haul from Ohio to my Wisconsin destination – about 500 miles – and it involved driving through Chicago, which was a source of some angst before the trip.   My main concern was the possibility of getting stuck in a major traffic jam, and not being able to make it to my scheduled stop in a reasonable amount of time.  As you know, I plan all my stops, and I never want to be in a situation where I have to choose a stopping place on the fly.

It turned out just fine.  Here’s a picture of the scenery on the highway through Chicago:

Chicago Skyline en route to Wisconsin

I’m liking it in Wisconsin.  I went to college here (Beloit College), so it certainly brings back happy memories.  The campground is quiet, and my site has a lovely lake view:

Lake at Wisconsin campground
Wisconsin campsite

So I’m here to research my great-great-grandfather Darwin Erasmus Goodenough and his family.  Unlike the other research locations I’ve visited, this time it’s only one family group, one surname, and one county, which makes everything so much easier.  And I’ve never camped so close to all the important places; I’m about five minutes away from the courthouse, the library, the town where the Goodenoughs lived, and the cemetery.

While reviewing my digital Goodenough surname file in preparation for my research here, I ran across this cartoon which had been in my father’s genealogy files:

Newspaper clipping of Goodenough joke. Source unknown.

My parents both had a great sense of humor, particularly my mother.  They enjoyed the teasing about their surname – they saw it as a conversation starter because those who hear the name for the first time usually make a comment of some sort.  Sometimes it’s “Oh, that is so CUTE!!”, but mostly it’s “Is that spelled the way it sounds?  Really??”

You can imagine the jokes I’ve heard about my surname throughout my life. I had a tough time with it as a kid, because I saw it as a put-down.  I wasn’t great, fabulous, or exceptional – I was just good enough, which is what the above cartoon is implying.  As an adult, though, I took my parents’ cue and went with the flow.

And then, my wonderful ex-husband set it all right when #1, he gave me the name Roberts, and #2, he put a different spin on the standard joke, by announcing during his speech at the wedding reception that he’d told his mother, “Mom, I finally found someone good enough!”  Now THAT made me smile!

While doing some newspaper research this week, I stumbled upon this little gem from 1890:

“Humorous”, The Daily Times, Davenport, Iowa, 29 January 1890; digital image, ( : accessed 25 Sep 2017), citing original, p. 2, col. 3.

Nothing like a good joke – er, Goodenough joke – to feel that connection with my ancestors!  Evidently, Goodenough jokes have been around for a long time.

As I got out of my car at the cemetery, this was the first headstone I saw:

Junk Gravestone, Newark Cemetery, Young America, Wisconsin

which makes me extremely grateful for being Goodenough instead of Junk!

Fall Schedule 2017

During the fall, I’ll continue my trek west; by the end of the season my RV will be in storage and I’ll be on my way to Seattle and then England for several months.  I’ll be driving more miles after Labor Day than I have all year so far.  For more info, see the post called Long Term Schedule.

Here’s the fall route, showing all the stops along the way:

Fall 2017 Route, Ohio to California

As I started to write this post, I realized I’ve already written a post called Fall Schedule – in 2016.  I began living in the RV at the end of August last year, so it’s been one full year since I retired and started life on the road.  Time has truly zoomed by!  It doesn’t feel at all like it’s been that long, but at the same time my former life seems in the distant past.

Next Monday, I’ll drive from Ohio to Washington County, Wisconsin, where my Goodenough line settled in the mid-1800’s.  This line migrated from New England to upstate New York, and ultimately to Wisconsin.  My father’s grandfather, an itinerant carpenter, was born there, married in Iowa, and settled in California.

At the end of September, I’ll travel to Whiteside County, Illinois, where my research will focus on the folks from Ohio (or their descendants), who went there in the first half of the nineteenth century, as well as my ancestors from Vermont.  I’ll be staying at a campground directly on the Mississippi River which I’m excited about!

After Illinois, I’ll have a break from researching for a bit while visiting a cousin in Missouri, and then I’ll binge-drive to the warmth of Phoenix as it starts to get colder in the north.  With the RV in short-term storage,  I’ll spend a week in Mexico with a friend at the end of October, and then we’ll travel together in the RV from Phoenix up to Fresno, California, arriving around November 7th.  Many members of my Goodenough family lived there in the early twentieth century.

Leaving the RV at the Fresno campground, I’ll drive my car to Los Angeles for Thanksgiving with my kids and my favorite uncle.  My daughter will then spend a few days with me in Fresno during the week after the holiday.  Once she leaves at the end of November, I’ll be spending most of my time working through the logistics of putting my RV and my car in storage, preparing to leave the U.S. for five months, and then flying to Seattle in mid-December for the Christmas holiday.

Whew!!   It’s hard to imagine saying good-bye to my RV in just a few months, and I don’t feel ready.  I have just under 5 more weeks to enjoy my genealogy research before I hit the whirlwind of the long drive to Phoenix, the vacation in Mexico, and then the holidays.  I have a feeling that after all the genealogy research and solitude of these months heading west, I will welcome that whirlwind when it comes!

Heading West

I’m excited to finally be in Ohio, the farthest west I’ve been since I started this RV trek.  It’s a bit of serendipity that my ancestors settled near Columbus, the state capital, because that’s where all the genealogical goodies are!

Several branches of my father’s family converged here in the very early 1800’s.  The Beers and Young families came from Morris County, New Jersey, soon after the Revolutionary War, and the Usticks came from Washington County, Pennsylvania a few years later.  Members of my family were the first permanent white settlers in Knox County, according to the local history books.  More on that in a future post.

For the next two weeks, I’ll be staying at a campground about an hour north of Columbus; my campsite is directly on a sweet little river.

View of the river from my campsite

I spent last week in Pittsburgh at the annual conference of the Federation of Genealogical Societies, which was fantastic!  It started with “Society Day” on Wednesday, which was full of terrific topics on managing a society.  The conference wasn’t as crowded as others I’ve attended, which was great, considering that all the excellent national speakers were there.   It was a packed schedule, going from 8 am to 6 pm each of the four days.  I took advantage of several lectures on research in Ohio – perfect timing!

Before leaving Albany on August 28th, I drove my car down to Newtown, Pennsylvania to see my son Kyle, who arrived there from Seattle around August 15th.  Thanks to my dear friend Agnes for putting me up (or is it putting up with me?) for a couple of nights!

The trip was also my last opportunity to offload more stuff into storage, and my little Mini was packed!  I had two huge garbage bags full of clothes, which must have weighed 50 pounds each, plus several tubs of genealogy files.  I did finally finish my scanning project, so I no longer have to lug around all the original paper files.

Kyle and I had a terrific visit.  He was on the road by himself for his birthday earlier in the month, so we had a belated celebration by going out to a nice dinner near his apartment in Warrington.  He started his new job the day I arrived, so I visited him at his office the next day, and that night we went shopping for some work clothes for him, followed by another dinner out.  I miss my boy!!

I recently reconnected with Kris, a very close friend from graduate school.  We were roommates and did everything together – same two majors, same classes, same parties.  She’s lived in Virginia all these years, and I honestly don’t know why we didn’t stay in closer touch.  But after a four hour phone conversation, which wasn’t even long enough, we decided we had to see each other before I left the area, so we met at a hotel in Wilmington, Delaware for a night.  What a blast!  I just love her!  Here’s a picture:

Chris and Kris!

So now I’m heading westward into unfamiliar territory.  With no distractions, I’ll be able to delve into my family’s history in each new location.  I’ll post details of my fall schedule soon!