Saturday, November 16, 2013

Surname Saturday: THORNTON- Margaret "Peggy" Kitchen Thornton Coppedge

Copyright 2013, The Hopelessly Hooked Genealogist (B. Harrison)

Margaret Kitchen Thornton Coppedge, 1805- 1886

Burial  1886

Headstone Inscription: "Margaret, wife of Geo. H. Coppedge - died Oct 8, 1886, aged 81 yrs. Adieu my companion, adieu, How sadly I bid thee farewell". - Info provided by Jean Beckham in 1993. Find A Grave Memorial# 54005698

Margaret "Peggy" Kitchen Thornton was the daughter of Thomas Thornton III and Nancy Kitchen. She was my 2x-great-grandmother on the paternal side of my tree, though my father's grandmother's line. She was born about 1805 in Louden County,Virginia, and died 8 October 1886 in Maries County, Missouri.  The Thornton lineage has been traced back to Richmond, Virginia in the late 1600's and to Yorkshire, England in the early 1600's. There is still documentation work to be done to complete and verify the lineage of this direct line of Thorntons. 

Margaret was married to George Helm Coppedge. Their daughter, Mary Jane Coppedge married John Milton Harrison- these were my paternal great-grandparents. 

Margaret's direct-line paternal ancestry includes the surnames of Thornton, Peyton, Randolph, and Ryland; her maternal ancestry includes Kitchen, Harrison, Butler, Grayson, Wiggington, and Crume. Margaret's parents were Thomas Thornton III (1781- 1848) and Nancy Kitchen (1780- 1815). 

The reference book entitled "Coppage-Coppedge Family 1542-1955", on pg 81- indicates that Margaret was the "daughter of Thomas Thornton III by his 1st wife, a Miss Kitchen, sister to the 2nd wife of Thomas Thornton II".   If accurate, this means that her mother was the sister of  Elizabeth Kitchen, 2nd (or 3rd) wife of her grandfather, and that her father had married the sister of his own father's 2nd wife. 

Margaret's maternal grandparents are believed to be William H Kitchen and Nancy Anne Harrison. Nancy Anne Harrison was a descendant of Burr Harrison III, immigrant ancestor from London, England who went to Virginia about 1664 as an early settler and member of House of Burgess. He  died in Stafford, Virginia in 1706. 

Friday, November 15, 2013

Family Recipe Friday- Scalloped Potatoes and Holiday Meal Traditions

          Copyright 2013, The Hopelessly Hooked Genealogist (B. Harrison)

As the Thanksgiving holiday approaches, thoughts turn to the traditional holiday feast.   There is comfort in enjoying favorite family recipes at holiday time, evoking warm memories of holidays past and the people connected with those recipes. 

When I was growing up, my parents typically hosted pot-luck family gatherings at our family home in Orange County, California;  where the extended clan and assorted friends who lived in our area of Southern California would gather at our house.  My parents would usually provide the turkey and ham main courses, rolls, one or two side dishes, tea, coffee, and soda; while everyone else would bring an appetizer and a side dish or dessert to share.  Kids would be running around noisily everywhere, chasing and playing games, while the grownups would gather into two groups- the men in the living room gathered around the tv watching football; the women alternately busily fussing in the kitchen or drinking coffee around the kitchen table as dishes baked in the oven. 

As my parents aged and my siblings and I grew up and married, starting families of our own, these holiday gatherings gradually shifted from my parents' home to one of the adult children's homes.  And so this pattern continued within our own families, as it has for many others.   Today our society is so mobile that families are scattered far and wide, from coast to coast, as ours is now.  These large clan gatherings just aren't as feasible anymore.  Everyone is busy with their own lives in different states; working, going to school, pursuing outside interests, juggling different schedules; as in mine and my husband's extended families, and we rarely all can gather together anymore in one location even at holiday time. 

Since we are now empty-nester retirees, my husband and I often choose to take a vacation over the holidays and enjoy a non-traditional Thanksgiving or Christmas, free from all the hustle and bustle.  We may visit with relatives before or after the holiday, but often just enjoy "escaping" for the actual event. Sometimes we got to a beach resort in Mexico, other times we may go to Las Vegas or Laughlin, or take a cruise.  We still have family in California, mostly on my husband's side now,  and sometimes go there for the holidays.   Sometimes we just stay home to avoid inclement weather and travel hassles of holiday-traffic snarls and jammed airports.  I usually say, every year, that I am not going to bother putting up a tree or any lights or decorations this year.   I say that every year, and yet I always end up doing the tree and decorations anyway, and I do still enjoy it. 

Whether we are eating out for the holidays, or on a non-traditional vacation somewhere, or at a relative's home, or just staying home; it is a time of year that  I do still enjoy cooking a few traditional dishes myself, even for just the two of us; decorating the house a little, and getting into the festive spirit of the season. I do not and never have enjoyed hosting big gatherings or company for dinners myself at our home, and all of the work involved, so I rarely do that and prefer the "let's eat out" option if it involves entertaining guests.  I leave the big feast holiday cooking and fussing to others who do enjoy doing it, and the younger generations who have the energy for it. My ideal Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner these days is on a cruise ship, traveling to someplace warm with tropical breezes, and with fruity-tooty froo-froo drinks on the side with little umbrellas in them.   Holiday joy!

Still, I like to have the traditional foods for us at home also during the holiday season.  Aside from the traditional ham and turkey, there are side dishes that have always found their way into our holiday meals, year after year since I was a kid.  These are probably the same dishes that many others look forward to, and there is comfort in this tradition of familiar foods:   Deviled eggs, green bean casserole, pecan pie, pumpkin pie, fresh-baked rolls. One dish that never failed to grace the holiday table when I was growing up was that of home-made scalloped potatoes.  I must admit, I am not one for a lot of cooking-from-scratch these days.   There are good quality frozen prepared versions that suffice, with a lot less work involved, they just need to be popped into the oven or microwave.   But, if the mood strikes...I have been known to peel some potatoes and do a baking dish full of the homemade version. Here is a link to a good recipe, from the website "Taste of Home", for scalloped potatoes either plain or incorporating leftover ham from the holiday meal. This is very much like the traditional family recipe version I grew up with. Double or triple this recipe for a larger gathering.

TOTAL TIME: Prep: 15 min. Bake: 1 hour 20 min.
MAKES: 4 servings


  • 6 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 3 cups 2% milk
  • 6 cups thinly sliced peeled potatoes
  • 1-1/2 cups chopped fully cooked Boneless Carving Ham
  • 1 small onion, grated


  1. In a large saucepan, melt 4 tablespoons butter. Stir in flour, parsley, salt, thyme and pepper until smooth. Gradually add milk; bring to a boil. Cook and stir for 2 minutes.
  2. Combine potatoes, ham and onion; place half in a greased 2-1/2-qt. baking dish. Top with half of the sauce; repeat layers.
  3. Cover and bake at 375° for 65-75 minutes or until potatoes are almost tender. Dot with remaining butter. Bake, uncovered, 15-20 minutes longer or until potatoes are tender. Yield: 4 servings.

November 2013- Being Thankful, and Looking Forward

Copyright 2013, The Hopelessly Hooked Genealogist (B. Harrison)

I seem to have taken a few months hiatus from writing in this blog, or else posts I did write have disappeared.    Nevertheless, I am back.  We approach the holiday season of yet another year's end.  November is traditionally a time when we focus on what it is we have to be thankful for.  Facebook friends have been posting their daily "I am thankful for....." status updates.   I too, have much to be thankful for, and try to remind myself to focus on the positives and not let the irritating negatives get out of proportion.   Looking back, I cannot say that 2013  has been a spectacularly great year on a personal or economic level or for this country, but it has not been a horrid one either. Some horrid things did happen in this county and in the world in 2013, it is true....some were natural disasters, some were man-made tragedies.  These types of things do happen, it seems, every year, that affect us deeply; much as our ancestors were affected by tragedies beyond their control in their own time.  It is part of the human existence.   Loved ones are lost, babies are born, and life goes on.  Things are looking up, and I am optimistic that 2014 will bring further recovery of the U.S. economy and to the region where I live in particular, with new growth and construction once again taking place.   I will refrain from overtly-political comments since this is primarily a Genealogy blog, but will say that I believe the current administration in the White House has made some positive changes that will benefit all Americans in the long term.

Back to the subject of Genealogy:  There is a new ongoing genealogy project among my Facebook group of genealogy associates, that I intend to begin working on soon; along with many among my genea-friends who are also participating.   It is called "The Book of Me, Written by You"....the brainchild of genealogist Julie Goucher. It is intended to be a series of prompts to help genealogists and journalists everywhere take the time to sit down and write their own life stories.   We spend so much time delving into the life stories of our ancestors, to document those as much as we can for posterity, that we tend to forget that each of us has our own story to tell.  Each of us will eventually become "the ancestor" that future generations of descendants and kin will be curious about.    Who better to tell our own stories, than ourselves?   And so, I encourage each and every one who may read this Blog post, to journal about yourself.    Whether in a paper notebook, pen to paper the old-school way, or typing it into an online Blog or private journal, or recording your voice telling your story....just do it.  Record and share your life stories and experiences, before they are lost forever.  No one knows the facts and nuances, trials and tribulations, tragedies and triumhs of what really happened along your pathway in life, better than yourself.  I may be sharing the "Book of Me" prompts in future Blog posts, along with some of my responses. I have a lot of catching up to do on that project!

My hopes for the coming year include enjoying my new early-retirement status, and hopefully being able to do a little more traveling.    One or two genealogy-research trips are on the tentative agenda, including a big genealogy conference in Richmond, Virginia in 2014 that I "hope" to be able to attend.  I have a great deal of ancestry in Virginia going back many generations to colonial America, and in the Richmond area in particular. I'm greatly looking forward to that adventure. More time for socializing with friends locally is also on the agenda.  Much work remains to be done on my family tree, and more time devoted to this Blog as well.  Perhaps I will finally make that long-dreamed of genealogy trip back to Missouri to visit my roots there as well, and meet distant-cousins that I have connected with over the past few years who share my interest in genealogy and our family history. So, here is my toast to a happy and thankful Thanksgiving season, followed by a spirited Christmas and Hanukkah season, and finally to a most welcome New Year in 2014!