Archive for August, 2011

Levin Thomas is born

August 27, 2011

My youngest son was born today, 26 years ago. His name is Levin Thomas. But he was not named until the 3rd day of life. Each of our children has a unique name all their own. The first one’s first name starts with a “J”. The second one, an “L”. The 3rd one, again a “J”. It makes sense that this child, our 4th, should have a first name to start with an “L”. However, I had the name JOEL in mind. Joel Thomas. His father had the name Levin.

Levin, or Lev, is the friend of Anna Karinina who tells her story in the book by Leo Tolstoy. Levin is also Leo himself, put into the book. Levin means “Leo-like”. So he is named after Leo Tolstoy, and also my husband’s favorite literary character in any novel.

The middle name Thomas was my father’s middle name (John Thomas). It was also the name of a childhood friend of my husband’s, who died in a tragic accident. Thomas as a young boy was killed by a tractor tire his father had been working on, that suddenly flipped out and up, coming down on Thomas at about age 10. He was a good friend of my husband’s.

So Levin was born at home. When we say that in our hometown, people assume we mean “Home Hospital” one of the 2 main hospitals there at the time of his birth. That is not what we mean. We had a “home birth” with a midwife and a few friends and family around us. For Levin’s birth there was Molly Witt, who actually wrote a poem about the experience called “Peaceful Thomas”; Shirley Morris, a good friend who herself died in a car accident years later. These two milled about, cooking for everyone, helping with our other children, then ages 8, 5 & 3, and being very calm and peaceful themselves, that day. Their presence was much appreciated. My sister Sue got there. She was at our first home birth for our oldest son, Jamal. She came to this one, I remember, to stay a few days afterward. The midwife’s name was Sharon and she had one assistant.

I won’t put down all the details now but the labor took about 26 hours total. The first part was mild and I couldn’t imagine we would be holding our new baby within a day. It is always hard to imagine, the baby will really be here within a few hours. I was 32. It was our lowest time ever, financially, during those years soon after Levin’s birth. Downsizing of managerial jobs hit us hard. I was a stay-at-home mom & had been home with my kids for 10 years. I stayed home one more year with Levin, then went back to work.

Where is he now, you ask? He is a newspaper reporter in an oil boom town in northern North Dakota, making use of his telecommunications and journalism degree from Ball State University. Still single, he has lived in Indiana, New Orleans, South Carolina and now North Dakota. He has a very strong personality, like his father. The word “headstrong” has multiple meanings. Being strong in the head may also mean being smart, with a natural propensity to analyze every situation. That’s our son alright.


what is in my office

August 20, 2011

If I wondered just exactly what all was in my office, now I know. It was recently painted. This miracle occurred suddenly, causing me great happiness. They even did the floor. However, all had to be moved out, and then moved back in. It is now sitting all around me, not yet quite in order.

What is really sitting here is 10 years of painstaking graduate, and in some cases undergraduate, study. Every book I used in a graduate class is now sitting in this room. Each one means something to me. I remember the class, I remember the papers I wrote, I remember the pain it took to get through the class. More important, I remember things I learned, things that turned my head around, things I read that change my outlook on life. It does happen. It happened to me any number of times.

Sitting on the shelf next to me is the “Norton Anthology of Literature by Women”. The pages are so thin, they feel like tissue paper and there are 2450 of them! Enclosed in this book, only about 3 inches thick because of the tissue-like paper pages, is Jane Austen, Emily and Charlotte Bronte, Mary Wollstonecraft, George Elliot, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Sojourner Truth, Emily Dickinson, Christina Rosetti, the complete Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own, the complete Kate Chopin’s Awakening, Zora Neale Hurston, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Adrienne Rich, Sylvia Plath, Alice Walker, Gwendolyn Brooks. Women whose words amazed and inspired me, and truly affected my outlook on life. This is from the very first class I took when I returned to school. That was about 15 years ago. I was 43. I returned to school in Women’s Studies, which was a very good move, if I must say so myself. I didn’t know how to word process a paper. The world of computers was knew to me. It is hard to imagine how much things have changed, since then. It is hard to imagine that I now assign and grade 10-12 page papers in upper level social theory classes. I have 4 of my own publications. Can this really be real?

Other things in my office are graduation commencement booklets, my own, my children’s, and now, 3 years’ worth of students. I miss them already, sad that some of their familiar faces will not be with me in classes this Fall.

There are a few personal things in here. Shells from a trip to the beach, where I walked with grandsons, looking for them and marveling at the waves on our feet. I miss them now, wish I could be there again. There is a little snow man hanging from a book shelf, saying, “Let it snow.” That is for the Indiana home I left behind. A butterfly with a tag that reads, “Celebrate each day,” which came from my mother. A reading-of-the-day pad, made with 3 X 5 cards, hole-punched and held together with binder rings. This came from my Dutch grandma, includes her strong Christian faith outlook, and reminds me of my past. There are two sets of book ends from Mexico– one of a man with sombrero hiding his face and taking a nap, the other set of horses. These were my father’s. Some of his books are here as well. People probably wonder why my shelves contain books on “thermodynamics” and “Who’s Who in Engineering of 1964”. My father.

And so a new Fall begins, in my freshly painted office, pieces of my identity all around me. It is a good space.


August 18, 2011

Cuddle Up

Cuddle up on the couch,

Wrap yourself around the last week of vacation,

Bury your head in the sand,

Or possibly, the pillow.


These are the last days of solitude,

Of empty hours

Where you don’t have to be anywhere,

For anybody,


No student is asking what will be on the next test,

explaining their absence in your last class,

or asking if they missed

anything important,


You are only here, with Horatio,

Waiting for the next fake line,

For him to put on his sunglasses,

And solve the murder case,

Because that is what he does.


Your syllabi, still unfinished,

Lie upon your laptop,

Awaiting assignments

and “student learning outcomes”

No one cares to read,


Soak it up,

These final hours of summer,

Watch the sunrise upon the window,

Take a walk around the pond,

Go fishing for a poem.


CF Black               8-17-2011

Owen Owens frees his slaves in 1830s

August 14, 2011

ancestor of my grandma Mary Agnew, through her mother, Cora Belle Owens:
Owen Owens established a homestead farm in Indiana, after giving his slaves their freedom in Kentucky, and moving to Indiana sometime during the 1830s, & PRIOR TO the end of the Civil War. In the 1860 census, they were living on the Indiana farm valued at $3000., which was a good bit of money in 1860.
Solomon Jordan Owens, son of Owen, was born on this Indiana farm in 1837. It was in Lawrence County, near Bedford.

Solomon married Margaret Malinda Lemond on 20 Oct. 1859. They had 9 children. The 4th child was Cora Belle Owens, who married Charles Reid on 27 Feb. 1889 in Bedford, Lawrence County, Indiana.

Charles and Cora Belle were parents of Mary, my grandma Mary Reid Agnew. Mary was the 3rd child of 4 children: Margaret b.28 Oct. 1892, Noyes Earl b.25 Aug. 1895, Mary Frances b. 10 Dec. 1899, and then Walter who only lived 8 mos., b. 07 Nov. 1903 and d. 30 July 1904.

great grandmother Carrie Bybee Agnew

August 14, 2011

I have filed for the medical records of my great grandmother, Carrie Bybee Agnew, who died in the Madison State Hospital for the Mentally Insane, in 1916. She was admitted sometime after the 1910 census, where she was still living at home, a widow of 4 years. I know from cemetary records that she died of some sort of “brain hemorrage” and was returned to New Albany to be buried next to her husband, my great grandfather, James Agnew, who died in a fall off a ladder, while painting a house with one of his sons, in 1906. This all takes place where they lived out their adult lives, southern Indiana.

Vansandt Morgan

August 12, 2011

I am having a series of quick breakthroughs on family history, to the extent that I cannot even keep up with it! It is jumping ahead at light speed. I have no doubt that Aunt Lucille is helping from the next world, since she just got there. I also feel certain that eventually, all the family lines will be able to be traced back to their origins. It is so exciting to put the pieces together.

On my husband’s side, through his grandmother Julia (Morgan) Black, “Vansandt Morgan” was traced thru his mother’s line to the American Revolution & beyond. So my daughters can now join the D.A.R. organization (not that they would ever want to).

Immigrant on the Vansandt family line was: Gerrit Stoffelse Van Sandt, married to Lysbeth Gerretze, immigrated 1651 to New York. That’s a very early immigration, folks. 
Going back to the John Morgan who married Dolly Haniford, the Haniford side, we now know, came to America from Cork County, Ireland, in 1853, Thomas Haniford (sp. Hanaford) placed an ad in a Boston newspaper searching for his brother, Timothy, who had immigrated a year earlier with 3 sons.

poem for my father-in-law

August 10, 2011

Life Sneaks Up on You

Life sneaks up on you,

You’re not thinking about it,

You turn around,

And your kids are grown,

Your kids, in fact, have grandchildren,

And they are telling YOU

what to do,

You wouldn’t listen to them,

except you’re having trouble

getting out of your chair,

Your neck is in a 24-hour brace,

And they can’t figure out how to cure the infection

That sends you running to the bathroom,

Just yesterday, you took your wife

on a Caribbean cruise,

Drove out of state for family weddings,

Walked 2 miles when you felt like it,

Now, there are more pills to take

than you can remember,

Your body aches from constant pain,

You leave the house with a diaper on,

Your friends and siblings


One by one, they desert you,

You spend more time at the funeral home

than you do in your own living room,

Inside, you feel like the same young man

who years ago, returned from the war,

married the pretty young girl you loved,

and started your own home,

Hopes and dreams melt into

days gone by,

You turn around

And the years are gone,

You have no idea how this happened,

Yet, in everything, there is a season,

a time for every purpose under heaven,

the less time we have, the more we value it,

— the more precious the hours we are given.                     

                                                   CF Black, 7-30-2011

going to the doctor

August 9, 2011

I am going to the doctor today. Nothing is wrong, at least that I know of. It’s just that I am approaching my 58th birthday and I never go to a doctor— like ever. I figure it’s the responsible thing to do.

Having never been to a doctor except for less than a handful of times since I had my kids (yes, really), I have a certain great amount of trepidation about going! I don’t like doctors, have never liked hospitals, but I realize a lot of this is irrational fear. At my age and with the history just mentioned, I refuse to see a male doctor for a gynecological exam. It just is not within my being to do so, to have some random strange man looking at my body parts. I know this is also based on irrational worries, but I don’t care. The point is to get myself into a doctor’s examination room and have a check-up.

I am going in this morning only for them to draw blood. The appt. is actually next week. And it’s taking me forever to take a shower and get going.

My last 2 kids were actually home births, as in “in our home”. I definitely saw a doctor all through the pregnancy, who knew of our plans, and also a lay midwife. Everything looked 100% and all turned out well. I just don’t like hospitals. They are impersonal, bureaucratic, and we know today that infections are rampant in them. You have to tell every shift of nurses the same things you told the last shift of nurses, they wake you every few hours, you hear noises and can’t sleep in hospitals. At any rate, at my age I want things checked out, see how I’m doing, check the heart, check the sugar levels, etc. There is zero incidence of cancer in my family. I know of none. No diabetes either. However, there certainly is heart disease. I’m getting to the age where arteries could be blocked & it’s just time to check things out.

I walk 3 miles a day, take an occasional swim, do not crave sweets, feel pretty good. I’m starting to have a few aches & pains out of nowhere but nothing major.

Morgan family history

August 8, 2011

This is on my husband’s side, through his Grandma Julia Black’s father’s side.

Found some more on the Morgans today.  
John Morgan married Johanna “Dolly” Haniford (parents of Julia).
–John Morgan’s parents were: James Watson Morgan and Rebecca Jennie Wagoner.
–James Watson was called “Watt”.
–I have a picture of Watt and Jennie, from Aunt Lucille. — not good quality, but it is something. They are fairly old in the picture. “Watt” and Jennie Morgan had 4 kids: Sue E., Harrison, JOHN (who married Johanna), and Edward. 
——“Watt’s” parents were: Joshua Morgan and Susan Jacobs. Susan was Joshua’s 2nd wife. They had 4 kids, James Watson being one of them.
——Joshua and Susan Morgan are buried in Bethel cemetary in Attica.
Joshua was supposedly born in OHIO in 1820.
Susan was born in OHIO in 1827.
————Now, I have to research MORE to check on this, but JOSHUA’S FATHER, supposedly, was named: VANSANDT MORGAN and was born in Pennsylvania……….in 1785 ?? AND died in ————-TIPPECANOE COUNTY INDIANA in 1840. Fascinating. 

————Vansandt was married to Nancy Murrell, born in Tennessee in 1788 and died in Indiana.

Mary Reid Agnew’s roots

August 6, 2011
Been researching more Bedford Indiana relatives of my grandma Mary (Reid) Agnew today.
Following her mother’s line, her mother was CORA OWENS. Cora married Charles Reid. I have a picture of them engaged. Charles worked for a stone company (go figure — southern Indiana).
Cora’s parents were Solomon Jordan Owens and Margaret Lemond. They were still born in southern Indiana.
Solomon’s parents were: Owen Owens born in Tennessee; and Frances “Fanny” Hunter born in KY.  They are the ones who migrated north to southern Indiana & the Bedford area. They migrated to Indiana sometime between 1810 and 1840.
Margaret Lemond’s parents were John O. Lemond and Rachel Moore. They came from Rockingham County, North Carolina. They migrated to Indiana in that same time period.
— Going back to Charles Reid and Cora Owens, tracing Mary’s father’s line, Charles Reid’s father Alexander Reid was born in KY. His mother, Nancy SMITH came from southern Indiana. NANCY’S PARENTS, Peter Smith and Margaret Ford are buried in Bedford, but Peter came from North Carolina and Margaret from Tennessee.  Peter and Margaret would have come west and north to Indiana in that same time period, sometime after 1810 and before Peter’s death in 1849.
Peter Smith’s roots go back to Germany on both his parents’ sides. So from my Grandma Mary Agnew, some of her father’s roots trace back to Germany also. “Schmidt” would be the name there.
WHAT DOES ALL THIS MEAN?? It means on my family’s side there are strong roots in southern Indiana, & most all of them migrated there during the 1820s-1840s, from NORTH CAROLINA, TENNESSEE AND KY. And it means one side goes back to Germany. But not the Agnews. They will be Irish, English or Scottish eventually. And then there’s my other side: the Dutch.
— Some of those who migrated to southern Indiana have gravestones showing up in Bedford cemetaries online. But a lot of them are not found so far.