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As a deaf person myself, I take particular interest when I find deaf people in my family history. I've found a few and Wiley Spivey, the great uncle of my paternal grandfather is one of the most interesting characters in my family tree. These are bits and pieces about him that I gathered from various places on the internet and from his obituary.

Wiley was born 4 Feb 1863 in Emanuel County, Georgia to Jasper Spivey and Mary Kea (or Key). Jasper and Mary had 10 children altogether. There are photos of his parents at Find a Grave- Jasper and Mary.

Wiley was deaf, but it is not clear whether he was born that way, or became deaf later. There is an interesting family legend about what caused his deafness:

Family stories say that when the Confederates came to conscript Jasper
Spivey to fight in the War he was taking care of his family and his wife
who was pregnant with son Wiley. Jasper did not intend to join them and
in his anger, he packed his gun and stood on the front porch telling
them if they came any closer he would "blow their brains out." When the
Confederates left and Jasper unpacked his gun, he realized that had he
fired the gun, the explosion would have killed him instead since it had
been packed in such haste. This incident supposedly traumatized his
wife to the extent that Wiley was born a deaf mute. (Olivia Terjesen's family tree at RootsWeb)

But the truth is Jasper had already enlisted in the Confederate Army in May of 1862. Wiley's obituary stated that he'd been "almost deaf and mute" for many years, whatever that means.

His local newspaper, the Coffee County Progress, wrote a nice tribute to him upon his death. It's a longish front-page piece, so I'm not sure if it's properly an obituary, but it begins:

Death, that Grim Reaper, came for Wiley Spivey, 104 years of age, at 2 pm, Sept. 11, 1947, at the local hospital, after a brief illness.
The 104 figure came from Wiley himself, who often bragged about his age, but he was actually 84 years old when he died.

He made his living peddling trinkets from a pushcart on the streets of Douglas, Georgia. After over 40 years, he became such a familiar sight and a beloved resident of the town. Hundreds of people got to know him and learned to communicate with him in sign language.

Did he learn sign language at the Georgia School for the Deaf (est. 1849)? Or did he invent his own? For now, I just don't know, but he must have had some education because he liked to keep up with current events and loved to talk politics with those friends.

According to the obituary, along with the trinkets he sold, for 10 cents, he let people take a peek into a box where he kept a rattlesnake.

For years the snake was said to have been a loyal and faithful companion to Dummy. One day he was seen walking down the street, the snake following a few feet behind him. Needless to say that both of them were given a wide berth, clearing out all pedestrian traffic on that particular side of the street.
I find that story dubious myself, but that's a quote from the obituary.

Wiley had been a homeless man for some years, laying his head down at night wherever he could- benches, inside doorways, empty buildings. Considering that many of Wiley's family members lived in the same town, I've often wondered about that. Were they too poor, barely scraping by, trying to feed their own family? Or did Wiley prefer to be on his own? Was there a feud? Whatever the case may be, there was a good Samaritan in town who built him a small house where Wiley lived with his sister.

Wiley had a very striking face, which was considered an "artist's delight." He was on one of the Coca Cola posters, and one still hangs in the Douglas plant. (message board post at Ancestry) I would love to see that poster, but I have the picture from his obituary.

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The obituary concludes:

Dummy was a he-man who had long professed to an ardent desire to die "with his boots on." He missed this ambition by but a few hours the other day when friends, finding him ill on the street, took him protestingly to the hospital where death, as it must to all men, however belated, came to Wiley Spivey.
Source of tribute/obituary excerpts and photo from Coffee County Progress Sept. ? 1947

And a little FYI- I've quoted what I found, but deaf people find labels such as dummy and mute very offensive.

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These are old photos and postcards from our family reunion album. All descendants of my great grandparents contributed all kinds of photos, correspondences,  important papers, etc.

My great grandparents were Swiss immigrants who first settled in Montana, then Canada, then Florida, where I'm originally from. My great grandmother had a brother and a sister who lived in New York. Her sister was married with two children, and the brother lived with them.  Census records show they lived in Manhattan.

As some of great grandma's children got older, they went to New York to work for a number of years. One great aunt worked in a brassiere factory. I know I saw her union card in the album somewhere, but I wasn't able to find it. I was told another great aunt was a diamond cutter.

I just find these old pictures of New York pretty interesting and hope you do, too. They are dated between 1919 and 1939.

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Family group. I'm not familiar with NY but I think that's the Queensboro Bridge?

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I have no idea what this rubble is.

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Central Park fountain

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Also Central Park

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Times Square postmarked 1922

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NY skyline also postmarked 1922.

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Rockway Beach

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1939 World's Fair

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Deaf Awareness Week is celebrated the last full week in September to commemorate the first World Congress of the Deaf by the World Federation of the Deaf in September 1951.

Some of the primary purposes of DAW is to celebrate deaf people's history, language and culture, as well as to recognize notable deaf people; to bring attention from politicians and lawmakers to deaf issues and concerns, and to provide information about educational programs, support services, and resources that are available to all hearing impaired people.

This diary is a hodgepodge of deaf-related trivia.

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Laurent Clerc, called the Apostle of the Deaf, is the first deaf teacher in the United States. Born in France in 1785, he became deaf as a child when he sustained a blow to his head after falling from a chair. He was sent to the renowned school for the deaf in Paris where he learned sign language.

He, along with Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet, founded what would later be known as the American School for the Deaf in Hartford, Connecticut.

Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet and Alice Cogswell statue

Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet was born in Philadelphia in 1787. He initially became a preacher, but after he met his nine year old deaf neighbor, Alice Cogswell, her father asked him to go to Europe to learn deaf education methods. While in Europe, he met Laurent Clerc. Gallaudet University is named for him.

The photo on the left is a statue of Gallaudet teaching Alice the manual letter A. The statue, which graces the front entrance of Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C., was created by Daniel Chester French, the same person who did the Lincoln Memorial.

Legend has it that the statue of Lincoln shows his hands forming the manual letters A and L, his initials, but National Parks Service disputes this.  

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Ferdinand Berthier who was born in 1803 in France was a contemporary of Victor Hugo (see Quotes below), the author of The Hunchback of Notre Dame, whose main character, Quasimodo was deaf. Ferdinand was also a student at the school for the deaf in Paris and he was one of the first advocates of deaf identity and culture.

Dr. Andrew Foster Born in Alabama in 1925, he later became deaf from spinal meningitis when he was a child. In 1951, He was the first and only black person to be admitted to what was then Gallaudet College, and the first black person to graduate there. While he was a student at Gallaudet, he worked with deaf inner city kids, which influenced his decision to become a missionary for the deaf in Africa. As a missionary, he founded many of the schools for the deaf there.
Gallaudet University, established in 1864 when Abraham Lincoln signed a charter to establish a national college for deaf students, is the only liberal arts college for the deaf in the United States.
Deaflympics, formerly World Games of the Deaf is one of the oldest Olympics-sanctioned events, after the Olympics itself. Unlike the Paralympics, they receive no funding from the International Olympics Committee. They held their summer event this year. The winter event for 2011 was cancelled due to, you guessed it, lack of funds.
National Theater of the Deaf is an acclaimed theater company that has performed plays in sign language since 1967. They have both deaf and hearing actors. The hearing actors use ASL for their own roles, and act as voice interpreters for the deaf actors on stage. I have seen two different plays by this company, and wow, are they ever so mesmerizing!
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Some Famous Deaf Americans

 photo Deaf_smith_zps697e4cde.jpgDeaf Smith was one of Sam Houston's best scouts and was involved in a couple of battles in Texas.
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"Dummy" Hoy was a deaf major league baseball player in the 1890's. The umpires hand signals were created because of him.

Black Coyote was a Lakota Sioux who may have been one of the first, if not the first, to be killed at Wounded Knee. When the tribe was ordered to disarm, the army went around searching for more weapons, and found Black Coyote who didn't want to give up his newly purchased gun. Tribe witnesses reported that they tried to tell the soldiers that Black Coyote couldn't hear and probably didn't understand them, but they shot him, starting the massacre. The video below tells his story, narrated by a deaf Native American.

Marlee Matlin is the only deaf actor to win an Academy Award. She won the award for Best Actress in 1987 for her role in the movie, Children of a Lesser God. She can currently be seen in the ABC Family drama, Switched at Birth, an ASL-heavy series about two children, one hearing and one deaf (played by another actress), who were switched at birth.

Heather Whitestone, the first deaf woman to win the title of Miss America in 1995.
Lou Ferrigno, a body-builder best known as the alter ego of Dr. David Banner in the 1970's TV series, The Incredible Hulk.
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Every decent man, and every real gentleman in particular, ought to apply himself, above all things, to the study of his native language, so as to express his ideas with ease and gracefulness.  

Laurent Clerc, 1864
What matters deafness of the ears when the mind hears? The one true deafness, the incurable deafness, is that of the mind.

Victor Hugo to Ferdinand Berthier, 1845
The world that you are hearing now
Is the same world that I see

verse from I Hear Your Hand by Mary Jane Rhodes, mother of a deaf child
The problem is not that the students do not hear. The problem is that the hearing world does not listen.

The Rev. Jesse Jackson, during the Deaf President Now protest in 1988. He gets it.
And for a bit of humor, this fake quote attributed to Beethoven, who himself lost his hearing.

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Undoubtedly, most people know Florida for its abundant sunshine, endless beaches, and assorted theme parks, not to mention right wing politics and stupid laws such as SYG, but how many know about the hundreds of freshwater springs that dot Florida's landscape?

First, what is a spring? I'll just quote Florida Department of Environmental Protection because it doesn't get any simpler than that:

A spring is a point where groundwater flows out of the ground, and is thus where the aquifer surface meets the surface of the earth.
According to the FDEP, there are over 700 freshwater springs in the state, one of the largest concentrations of springs in the world. Most are located in the central and northern parts of the state, and eighteen of those springs are self-named state parks, i.e. Blue Spring State Park, Fanning Springs State Park, etc. Photo below is Fanning Springs (source: © User:Ebyabe / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA-3.0)
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Springs are measured by their water flow at the source in cubic feet per second, gallons per day, or pints per minute and they are classified by magnitudes from Zero to Eighths. First-magnitude springs discharge hundreds of gallons per second, or millions of gallons per day and eighths may just be a trickle, less than a pint per minute. Zero-magnitude springs are former springs that are no longer flowing. Florida has 33 first-magnitude springs, including Fanning Springs above (at #31, 109 cubic feet per second, or cfs). As you may imagine, the more water that is discharged, the stronger the force is.

I currently live near San Antonio, but I'm originally from Volusia County, in Central Florida. My folks still live there. There are about ten freshwater springs within a hours drive from where my folks live, and that's only counting the ones that are accessible and open to swiming. There are a handful that are only minutes away that are closed to swimming.

The one I used to go to most often, and I still go there when I go home for a visit, is at Blue Spring State Park. The water temperature at Blue Spring stays pretty constant throughout the year, at around 72° and it flows out to the St. Johns River, the longest river in the state, and one of the few in the country that flow north. The picture below shows the end of the spring run where it meets the St. Johns River.
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Because of the constant temperature, manatees seek refuge there, both when the river gets too cold, or, in rare instances, when it gets too warm, and I suspect, just because. The park is a designated manatee sanctuary and is their wintering home, and as such it's closed to swimming during the winter. But, that doesn't mean they don't wander into the spring and the run at other times of the year. I've often seen them in the summer, too, and because they are protected, whenever they enter the human swimming area, it's "everybody out of the pool."  

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Yes, that's a manatee.

The spring flow at the spring boil, so named because it looks like it's boiling at the surface, I imagine- is measured at 162 cubic feet per second, and ranks at #21 of Florida's 33 first- magnitude springs. In other words, if you want to dive down to where the boil is, and where the caves are, you are swimming against such immense pressure. Personally, I'm contended just to float around the boil, with a mask and snorkel, but even so, the water pressure coming out of the spring pushes you away from the boil, so you have to keep struggling to stay there. Photo below is of the boil at Blue Spring, and if you look closely you can see bubbles at the surface where the dark circle is on the bottom right corner. (source: State of FL at wikipedia, no copyright)
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That dark circle, by the way, is where the caves are, and they extend below the soil surface.

Years ago, people would walk to where the boil was, then dive off the banks. These days, to preserve the landscape, the only way to access the boil now is by swimming there, or when the water level is low enough, to wade there. The boil can also be accessed by a boardwalk, but only to enjoy the view.

Did I mention the water is crystal clear? That's true of most of the springs in Florida. By contrast, nearly all of the lakes and rivers in Florida, including St. Johns, is some shade of brown, from a sort of see-through brown all the way to an almost black where light hardly penetrates it. The brown coloring comes from a combination of two factors: tannic acid leeching from decaying trees, leaves, and roots, and the slow movement of the river. Remember Florida is mostly flat, so naturally the rivers move at a much slower pace. Tannic acid, by the way, is the same substance in iced tea.

Here's an old picture- dated early '90s- of me and my daughter, who is shown in the photo mostly underwater, so you can see how clear the water is. This was at Blue Spring.

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When it gets into the triple digits here in Texas, as it often does in summer, Blue Spring is one of the things I really miss most about Florida.

Another one of my favorite springs is Ichetuknee Springs, or to be more precise Ichetucknee River. Pronounced ish-tuck-nee, according to a couple of sources, the river that flows from the head spring, Ichetucknee Springs, is 6 miles long, compared to only 2,336 feet for the Blue Spring run, less than a half mile. Ichetucknee Springs comes in at #14 of the 33 first-magnitude springs, at 361 cfs, more than twice the flow of Blue Spring. There are several other springs along Ichetucknee River, by the way. Photo below is of the Ichetucknee Springs- source: State of FL, no copyright at wikipedia.
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There is nothing more relaxing than floating down Ichetucknee River on an inner tube, enjoying the very cool water on a hot, humid day, and taking in the pristine beauty of the natural landscape. It takes about 3 hours to go the whole six miles, but nowadays, one can opt for the 20 minute or one hour trips, disembark, and get on the trolleys that will take you back to the head spring area. Well, at least that was true in the mid '90s, the last time I was there.

A bit of trivia: The ASL sign deaf Floridians use for Ichetucknee is the motion of a hand scratching a knee. Do I need to explain?

In recent news, it's been announced that Silver Springs Nature Park, of glass-bottom boats and Tarzan fame, has been closed temporarily, and will reopen as a state park beginning October 1st. For the record, Silver Springs is #3 at 811 cfs, five times that of Blue Spring. If Blue Spring is immense, then that is ginormous!

I hope y'all enjoyed the springs with me. All unattributed photos above are my own.

List of major springs in Florida at Wikipedia.

All about Florida's springs at

Live manatee cam at Blue Spring State Park. They ask for your email to view it. I tried, but they are not allowing a video embed here. On edit, according to the live cam website, they are currently showing previous recordings and will go live when the manatees return in the winter.

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Fri Sep 06, 2013 at 09:05 AM PDT

GFHC: Greetings from Switzerland

by raina

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Further below is a sampling of the postcards sent to my Swiss immigrant great grandparents (shown in the photos above) and their children in the U.S. from their relatives in Switzerland between 1902 and 1928.

All are in French. Some translations were provided by a cousin, some by me via Google Translate, as best as I could make out. Feel free to correct me. I won't mind.

A little background-- L'autre Mama (the other mama) had at least two brothers who lived in Switzerland, Alois and Paul. There is also a Henri, but I'm not sure if that's another brother or Paul's middle name because their father was Paul Henri. Her family was from Sainte-Croix, though it appears that Paul lived in Lausanne. Two of L'autre Mama's siblings also immigrated to the U.S.

Papa had three siblings: Olga, Georges, and Fritz. I was told one of his brothers also immigrated here, but I never found out who. His father and sister lived in La Brevine, aka Swiss Siberia.

In a card dated 1942, Paul explained that it took 3 months for a letter to reach its destination, so that was why most of the correspondences were through postcards.

Hope you enjoy the postcards. You can click on anyone of them and it'll take you to my photobucket account, and while there you can see bigger pictures in a slide show format. There are a number of cards there that I didn't include in this diary.

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This is my sig: Pah! Deaf with a capital D. Do you know what it means?

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I've explained this before, but, again, Pah refers to the mouth movement, aka mouth morphemes, Deaf people make when they sign success, finally, or at last, or similar words, and if it were vocalized as a word, it would sound like pah. Mouth morphemes give context and meaning to a sign.

Pah! has become a catchphrase for the deaf community, and it has to do with the Deaf President Now movement where they successfully ousted a hearing president in favor of a deaf one at our nation's only liberal arts college for the deaf.

The second part of my sig comes from an episode of Switched at Birth, an ABC Family drama about two girls, one deaf and one hearing, who were, well, switched at birth. In the photo on the left, the actress Katie Leclerc, who portrays the deaf child who was switched, is wearing a Pah! shirt.

In that Switched at Birth episode, one of the deaf characters, Travis is considering a cochlear implant, and another deaf character, Emmett scoffs and says, "You're Deaf with a capital D."

What Emmett was saying was that Travis is so immersed in the deaf culture, he couldn't imagine why he would want to hear. There is a fear among some deaf people that they would lose their Deaf identity if they got a cochlear implant. I don't want to get down into the weeds about CIs, but Deaf people rarely give up their Deaf identity, even after they get implanted.

Television show or not, the truth is Deaf vs deaf has been around for a long time.

Capital D Deaf refers to people who consider themselves part of the deaf community, who use and advocate American Sign Language, and are immersed in the deaf culture.

Small letter deaf refers to the disability, and also to hearing-impaired people who do not consider themselves part of the deaf community. People who lose their hearing due to aging would be in that group, but there are also people who become deaf while young who shun the deaf community or deaf culture for whatever reason.

So, though this is not my whole identity, it does play a major part- Deaf with a capital D.

Who are you? This is an open thread, so feel free to discuss whatever comes to mind.

I leave you with this remarkable video. The beginning shows deaf people from different countries signing, "I am deaf." Considering that there is no universal sign language, the signs, at least for this particular phrase, are strikingly similar.

PS While we are at it, deaf and dumb is offensive. Yes, I know it's "just an expression," but so are many offensive expressions. Cease and desist!

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Tue Jul 03, 2012 at 10:33 AM PDT

GFHC: Links Table updated

by raina

These are links compiled from comments from the GFHC: Links! diary from a couple of months back. I've entered them in the categories as they were suggested. If I missed any, or put any in the wrong category, let me know. Or if you are an editor, please feel free to change or add to it.

I haven't read every link, except to make sure the links work, but I want to thank you all for all the suggestions. Hopefully in the future, as we find more links, we'll remember to add to them. As always, editors of GFHC are free to add to them as well.

As was previously discussed, I've now entered the link to this diary in the boilerplate. This is the sole reason I'm publishing this diary, but if you want to add links, chat, rec & tip or whatever, go ahead. I'll keep checking. Thanks again.

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Fri Apr 06, 2012 at 09:05 AM PDT

GFHC: Links!

by raina

Genealogy & Family History Community

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edwardssl book

Leave the blood feuds at home

family treed
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