American History, Civil War, family, genealogy, reflection, women's stories, WRITING MEMOIR

Your Ancestor Story © Arlene S Bice

Now, you’re thinking about your name and maybe thinking about where it came from. You know it is easy to find your ancestors and you know where to go to find your ancestors. Now let me guide you a bit on what you want in your story.

My father told me his people lived in New Hope, Bucks County, Pennsylvania. I knew from records that my gr. grandfather Addis was born in 1842. I read about the call to arms from Pres. Lincoln and that it would make him a ripe age for enlisting in the fight to keep our country from breaking into pieces. His tombstone told me of his love for Annie. Research online told me what was going on in New Hope at the time. The newspapers, trains, canals, and local factories were alive with action and movement. It was easy to put it all together and come out with a picture of the day.

I found Addis’ army records and followed his footsteps, not using everything I found but choosing what would flush out his story. Newspapers carried the stories of the army hospitals and sometimes the shenanigans of the soldiers. Records reported weapons. Descriptions of battles are listed on-line.

After the War Between the States ended, records continued to lead me through his life, its triumphs and its trials. I came to know who he was, what he thought and how his life came to an end. Yankee in Blue published in Rumors and Other Short Stories.

photo thanks to Robert Linder @unsplash

family, genealogy, travel, women's stories

More Researching My Name ©- arlene s bice

Photo by Ryan Searle on Unsplash
I tried possible spellings. Really, how many ways can I spell my four letter name? Byse, Bise, Bicé with an accent, Von Bicen (?) von Bisen (?) with no success.
I traveled to the UK a few times and once, after visiting Hay on Wye first, I drove through Cornwall stopping at Fowey. With Daphne du Maurier’s home in mind I pulled off the road onto the one that led down, down, down to the Channel. Whoa!!!! The road was so steep I felt like I would tumble head over heels, or trunk over engine. I spotted a street to my right that was kind of level and wrenched the steering wheel to get onto it. When I reached another street, it led back up to the main road, I took it. The engine of my rental with the gear shift on the left, was grinding all the way to the top! Whew!! I made it. What was I thinking?
I pulled off the road and looked down at the beautiful town where I yearned to go. I’d read about it but couldn’t see any other way to get to it. Other people must drive that road down, but I couldn’t make myself drive it. I gazed until I had enough and drove further west to Truro and Redruth when I decided I had enough and backtracked. I really should have found a place nearby to stay but didn’t. Oh regrets. This was Bice country and there were many connections to follow that I was unaware of. It was still early internet days. At least I was here and at least I discovered where my Bice family came from.
Finally when the internet came into everyday homes and Bingo! I sent out the plea and received a whole bevy of replies from Cornwall, England. “C’mon over! We have a history of Bices and tons of Bices still living here!” said the emails. I didn’t get back. As usual in my life, I seem to live it in reverse. Yet I found my heritage! Thanks to the internet, I learned that we (Bice folk) in our country, fought in the Revolutionary War. . .against England, that is so American.

genealogy, general, lost relative, Uncategorized

Searching, searching, searching. . .

Family Search and Roots Tech have been part of my life for many years. They are non-profit organizations that are free for you to use. Really free. Honest. They also help you get started and help you place names on your family tree. They believe that we are one, big family in this world (where have you heard that before? Love it!) and are anxious to help you find your family’s place in it. I’ve even, like so many others, volunteered to decipher the federal census. Why? Because they have been instrumental in helping me find ancestors that were lost to me. Maybe I should tell you about beginning the addictive, crazy search I started 50 years ago.
We were a mixed group in the neighborhood where I grew up outside of Trenton, New Jersey. There were many Italian families, some Scottish, Jewish, Polish, Mexican, German, Irish, a few Black families and even a Southern family. Since we all carried names that reflected our heritage, I wanted to know who I came from and where did they originally come from. Originally meaning the place they left to come to our country. Besides all that, it was a homework assignment from my third grade teacher.
Hmmm. I asked Mom because all the older family generations passed on before I arrived. “I don’t know” Mom replied. “They didn’t talk about those things back then.” Dad was in the hospital but did give me a few clues when I was five, before his illness took over. They came from New Hope in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Dad even took me there. Fifteen miles north of Trenton. That wasn’t exactly what I wanted now. I managed to learn that my grandfather met my grandmother at the roller skating rink in Trenton. She was the daughter of German immigrants and he was an all-American son of a wealthy mother. That was the subject of my first written story.
Add a few school years to my age and girlfriends whose very names announced their ancestry, made me curious. Bice. Had there ever been a Von in front of it? Hmmm. That name told me nothing at all. Add a lot more years when school was in the past and I started digging. Many letters were written and dollar bills enclosed for copies of birth and marriage certificates. Those were pre-computer and internet days. My digging began in libraries. When I traveled, the local telephone books got a thorough thumbing through. Never did I find another Bice.
Computers and the internet grew from babyhood to expensive and finally free Family Search and Roots Tech.
Have I got stories to tell you!

Photo by Eilis Garvey on Unsplash

Poetry, Warren Artists' Market, women's stories, wormen writing

Theatre Excitement Abounds!!!

I’m so excited! I’ve been invited to present a poetry piece at the Lakeland Cultural Arts Center! On stage! Joining my longtime pals from First Friday Poetry Night, we’ll be reunited on Friday-that’s the Fourth Friday-of January – the 26th from 6 to 8 pm. Littleton (NC), home of LCAC, has changed in the last several of years since I’ve moved from Warren County to Virginia. All for the better. I’m also excited to see all my poetry loving writers, readers and listeners. Sometimes I don’t know how much I miss certain friends until I am about to be with them again. How funny that is, not in laughter, in curiosity.
Lakeland Arts has also been updated, refreshed, renewed, etc. In addition to plays, they offer a wide range of live entertainment; some shows are already sold out. It’s an impressive line-up. I am eager to see the new LCAC since I often enjoyed the Lakeland of years ago. Live plays are so superior, in these days of our entertainments coming from home screens.
Now, what am I going to wear? Which poem? Excuse me, it’s time to spray my throat and walk around the apartment and practice my ah-h-h-h-s!


Finally, I’m Back!

Finally, I’m back! It’s been over a year since I’ve been able to write a blog regularly. Golly, I have missed y’all. The last 18 months has seen me move 3 times! It’s been hectic, first selling my house (Removing the weight of heavy responsibility from my shoulders. Whew.) Next to a temporary apartment while I waited for my senior apartment. Reducing my load of moveable treasures each time. Gone are hundreds of books lining my home office. I’ve parted with many favorites that I thought wouldn’t be missed but are. How does that happen? It’s like needing the very thing I gave away, the very day after I gave it. Murphy’s Law or something like that.

Now that I am truly settled in, I’m missing some of the things I’ve left behind and would have had room for, after all. Oh, well. All the chaos was worth it, as I love where I live, apartment living (very different from home ownership) and even my neighbors. The team that manages the complex is super and there is a lot of good to be said about that. So, I arrive to this last chapter of life, looking forward to more time to do what I want to do, without outside responsibilities. Aging does have its benefits!

My website is also freshened up. Please check it out. Comments are always welcome. Expect to hear from me once a week about books, writing and whatever life pops up in front of me. I’m happy to hear from you.


Year’s End©

Year’s End

by arlene s bice

Tis often sad as a time period nears end
for it is over, done unchangeable
the year has been recorded
calendars with dates marked, closed
but it isn’t sad for me this day

in its place, excitement reigns
a year ahead already filled with plans
calendar opened, freshly inked
thrills, challenges emerge
opens new doors of wonder

‘23 is washed clean, a closed space
no longer a place to make a mark
‘24 anticipates the ink, the pen
paper riffles as fresh ideas raise passions
as they blow through the brightened room.


Winding Up Winding Down

Is it a little late in the year to be introducing even more exciting news? But amid the bright gift wrappings, ribbons and jingle bells is another something new! Recently released is Rumors and Other Short Stories and it opens new avenues! My schedule was delayed a bit, but my new baby is onboard! Dipping my toe into the waters of fiction and non-fiction short stories has been an adventure I hope you will enjoy. With too many readers having less time to read long novels, I thought short stories would ring a bell and still satisfy the thirst for a good story.

In wanting my granddaughters to know some of their heritage, my research showed that we have an ancestor that came over on the Mayflower. Twelve year old Samual Fuller. Perfect to keep my youngest granddaughter Rachel interested in reading. At least that was the goal! But there are fictional stories from out-of-the-way events that happen to people in everyday living, too. Some stories to make you think, some to make you smile and some to take you to other places.

The comment about the Mayflower and ancestors? Coming up soon – an anthology about your ancestors and mine. Be on the lookout for the opportunity to write about an ancestor of yours and have it published for all to enjoy. Happy Holiday!


Excitement is in the Air!

This great time of year when the air is crisp, the leaves dressed in brilliant colors, and we’re birthing a new baby! Conversations with My Younger Self. Dee Stribling, Lisa Baron and I have collaborated for the last couple years to publish a book, we all agreed, that we could have used in our younger years. Guidance, advice and stories in essay form.

We each have many more years behind us than in front of us. You know, living to reach a crone’s age is plenty of time to collect unique experiences. After several interviews with women also of a certain age, from varied backgrounds and experiences in life, we wrote our stories that reflected their strong guidance. We extend our hands out to women of all ages and paths to read about our experiences and reflect upon what we share.

A few titles for a taste: Is My Hair a Mess? I Love Going to Work! Put Up or Hush Up! Castle it Up! Simmer and Sizzle Writerly Self Advice from the Kid Walk the Pain Does Worry Help?

Lisa Baron Ph.D, LCSW is an experienced Clinical Social Worker, Psychotherapist, Writer, and Teacher.
Dee Stribling Ph.D. is a former Poet Laureate of Hillsborough (NC) and a two-time winning Poet of the Sundress Academy for the Arts
Arlene S. Bice is the author of a dozen non-fiction books, recipient of the Second Annual Oakley Hall Literary Award and an award-winning artist.


Bears and Bikes and a Whole Year Passed

Bears and Bikes and a Whole Year Passed

Wow! I’ve missed being in touch with y’all this past year. What a year it has been! I’ve moved, twice and I’ve not had a car for five months of that year. Now I am settled into my senior apartment that I absolutely adore. All the apartments are on ground level with a parking space ten feet away. We’re surrounded by forest, a gorgeous forest of all the autumn colors right now making for wonderful walks. Yet, I’m five minutes from the center of Farmville. My roomy apartment is high on the list of thankful things.

It’s been 44 years since I’ve lived in an apartment. All the weight of owning a house and maintaining it on my own, is gone. Thank goodness. I don’t have to struggle to pay $250 to Bagley Plumbing, South Hill VA for unclogging my kitchen sink (that fee took my breath away) ever again. If I have a problem, I’ll call maintenance. The grass looks beautiful, cut when needed and I didn’t have to push the mower to do it! Such pleasure. I, and my next door neighbors, all had flowers and veggies growing on our porches till summer ended.

I even interacted with the wildlife. A bear and her cub. Well, kinda. It was early spring while I headed out for my walk. Movement over to the right, next to the dumpster, caught my eye. OMG! Ten feet away! I gasped, but I was prepared. I lifted my brand-new whistle and blew! Just as I had been directed to do. A tiny tweet came out. I could barely hear it myself, let alone the bear. Mama bear looked up at me with an expression of “Tweet. That’s it? Tweet?” Then she just moseyed on up the road looking for a better source of food. I returned home postponing my walking hour til later in the day when wildlife is napping.

Enough of that. I’m nearly finished reading Turning Centuries by Ken Youngblood. Great memoir of his touring from the east coast to the west, making side trips along the way. Did I mention this was on a bicycle? Yep. It gave him time to reflect, remember, meet new people and have exciting experiences along the way. The title refers to riding for a hundred miles. I highly recommend it. The reading of it. But, who knows? Maybe I’ll buy a bicycle next.

Christmas season

More Christmases Remembered

From: Fraser Firs, Palm Trees & Spanish Moss

A Christmas Carol – a Maggie Chalifoux story

At a gathering of friends I overheard some people talking about a writing group. There was a new woman in the group and she was a writer. Her name was Reds.  She had very red hair and a long ringlet on one side. She was willing to work with us, to help us to develop our writing skills. I jumped right in saying I wanted to be part of that.

            We began meeting every other week at Ellie’s house in Warren County, North Carolina, which she called “The Gathering Place”.  To celebrate the Christmas season, we went to Red’s instead for a writing session, and then on to Warrenton, North Carolina for lunch. She lived closer to our destination. One of our group was such a clown. She had made little round tags about two inches in diameter for each of us. They had a big red L in the middle and a black circle on the outer edge, and a black line across the L, meaning NO. This was like a sign that might say “no pets” for instance. It took some coaxing but finally we pinned these little tags to our sweaters and off we went.

            We shopped at the Scarlet Rooster, delighting in all the treasures that the owner, Todd Smith, had gathered for his shop. After a bit, Todd said, “I’m not sure I should ask but what do the tags mean?”  With some laughter we all gathered together and burst into song “Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel!” That was enough singing. I felt totally ridiculous. But it was fun.

            We moved on to the Hardware Café for lunch. Halfway through our lunch a young policeman came in. He kept glancing our way and it was obvious he was curious. Finally, he couldn’t stand it anymore. “I’m sorry to interrupt but I just have to know. What do those tags mean?” We looked at each other grinning and chuckling. Someone said

“Ready?”  On cue we sang “Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel!”

            The policeman laughed with us, shaking his head as he walked away. It was very silly but a memorable and fun time, one not likely to ever be repeated.