Sunday, December 29, 2013

Sunday's Obituary - Samuel A. Sparks

This is a transcription from the Centreville Record published on November 18, 1899 in Queen Anne's County, Maryland.

Sparks, Samuel A., of Kent Island, died at his residence in Coxe's Neck Friday morning. He was a life long resident of this county. The deceased was 74 years of age and leaves a widow and two daughters, Mrs. Robert H. Councill and Mrs. John W. Councill, and two sons, Messrs. Charles G. Sparks, of Kent Island, and Daniel Sparks of South Dakota. Interment in Centreville cemetery.

Samuel Sparks and his wife Susan Godwin were my 2x great-grandparents. Their daughter Arianna Sparks and her husband John Wesley Councill were my great-grandparents.

Thanks to George Sparks for posting the picture of Samuel's grave on FindAGrave and for Dee for sending me the newspaper transcription all the way back in 2004!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories - Christmas Eve

How did you and your family spend Christmas Eve? Did you attend church services, perhaps a children’s service with a pageant? What about food – was there a special meal or did your family hold an open house so friends and family could stop by? Share your memories of Christmas Eves gone by.

We often attended church services on Christmas Eve, although sometimes we went on Christmas morning.  When my sister and I were a little older, we attended Midnight Mass. The mass included singing of traditional favorites like O Holy Night and Ave Maria and the church was beautifully lit with candles. I also remember my sister and I looking out our bedroom window in the hopes of seeing Santa and his reindeer. Somehow, we always fell asleep before he came!

I don't remember a specific meal for Christmas Eve. When we had relatives visiting, we sometimes repeated a Thanksgiving type of meal with turkey and the trimmings. Christmas Eve was usually more of a family affair, while our friends in the neighborhood stopped by on Christmas day or the day after.

The picture above is of a very young me hanging up my stocking. The little Styrofoam tree on the center of the mantel was my parents' first Christmas tree after they were married. It was displayed for many years until it finally fell apart, so it's nice to have the picture.

Wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas!

The Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories (ACCM) allows you to share your family’s holiday history twenty-four different ways during December! 
Learn more at

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories - Christmas Tree Decorations

Do you have unique decorations that you use each Christmas? How did you get them or were they passed down to you from family members? Do you have certain traditions surrounding Christmas decorations such as purchasing one from every state or country you visit? Describe your favorite decorations!

My Mom decided to use a smaller tree a few years ago, so she split some of her ornaments between me and my sister. One of my favorites from the ornaments that she passed on to me is my Florida orange. My sister got the matching Georgia peach. I'm not sure exactly when my Mom bought these, but it was probably in the early 1970s. I have a strange little tradition where this is the first ornament I put on my tree each year.

My best friend and I used to have a tradition where we would choose an ornament from each others tree (with our Moms' permission!) and hang it on our trees. I still have a couple of those in my collection and they remind me of her and her Mom. The gingerbread man shown below was one of the first ornaments I chose. His sequins have lost most of their color, but he's still cute!

The Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories (ACCM) allows you to share your family’s holiday history twenty-four different ways during December! 
Learn more at

Monday, December 2, 2013

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories - Christmas Cards

Do you still send Christmas cards or has electronic communication taken the place of this tradition? Do you remember sending Christmas cards as a child – making a list, sending out your family’s cards and then checking the mailbox for cards sent to your family? How did your family display the cards?

I still send a few cards, but not nearly as many as I used to. My Mom used to have a list and sent out most of the family's cards. My Dad also sent a few to his family and friends from Ohio. We used to display some of the cards on a buffet cabinet in the dining room.

The card above is the oldest card I have. It was signed by my grandmother, Anna Lee Pulskamp Creeden, but I don't know who it was for or the exact date. My guess is that it's from sometime in the 1930s and may have been for my grandfather or his parents. The ribbon on it is velvet and is actually threaded through the card. I think it's the only signature I have of Anna Lee's, so it's a nice keepsake.

The Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories (ACCM) allows you to share your family’s holiday history twenty-four different ways during December! 
Learn more at

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories - Christmas Trees

What are your memories of your family putting up the Christmas tree? Many of us come from different traditions: some people won’t put up their tree until after Thanksgiving or even on Christmas Eve? Some like live trees and actually go out into the woods to cut their own while others prefer the convenience of an artificial tree. Write about anything related to Christmas trees and your memories of Christmases past.

When I was growing up, we used to put the tree up sometime between Thanksgiving and Christmas and I've kept that tradition. My earliest memories of a Christmas tree are from when we picked out a live tree from a Christmas tree lot in Florida. Then we started getting a special delivery each year from my aunt and uncle in New York. They owned a tree farm and used to send us a beautiful live tree. We eventually switched to an artificial tree for the convenience and also, unfortunately for those of us with allergies. I've always had an artificial tree in my own house for the same reasons.

I remember my parents having different roles in the whole tree decorating scheme. My Dad would set the tree up and do the lights and then my Mom would put garland on the tree. My sister and I helped put the decorations on. There was always much fussing with lights that went out or garland that was crooked!

This is a nighttime picture of my tree in 2009. I have a newer pre-lit one now with clear lights, but I kind of miss the colored lights. Many of the ornaments on my tree were passed down from my Mom when she switched to a smaller tree and some of them were made by me and my sister. It's always fun when I'm getting them out to see the old familiar ornaments again.

The Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories (ACCM) allows you to share your family’s holiday history twenty-four different ways during December! 
Learn more at