Author Archives: Gail Grunst Genealogy

About Gail Grunst Genealogy

Gail has been researching her own family since 1979. Her research has taken her back to 1800 Belgium and 1800 England. Gail has worked in a library for the last 20 years and has answered genealogy questions for patrons and helped patrons with their research. In addition to her degree in Library Media Technology, Gail has a two degree in Basic American Genealogy Research from the National Genealogy Society. She has done volunteer work for various Genealogy Societies. Gail teaches several Classes in Genealogy for the Round Lake Area Library, and would be happy to conduct a class for your organization. If interested in a class or if you would like a one-on-one consultation, please contact Gail. Please enjoy Gail's family History Blog

Book Review: I’m Still with you

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April’s book review is  I’m still with you: true stories of healing grief though spirit communication by Carole J. Obley.  You may wonder what this has to do with genealogy.  Read the book review on the book review page, and also I mention the book on my post Our Ancestor’s Spirits posted on April 23.

Our Ancestor’s Spirits

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I never believed ghosts, telling fortunes, or communicating with the dead, but now I feel that I am starting to open up to the possibility.  It all started a few weeks ago when I had a dream about my brother who passed away in January 2015. In my dream he was alive and well.  I said to him, “I thought you were dead.”  He replied, “No, the doctor is giving me shots in the chest.”  I felt so relieved to know that he was still alive and then I woke up.  It felt so real that I wanted to go back to sleep and continue the dream.  I wanted to talk to him.  I wanted to tell him about all the things that have happened over the past 15 months.  Of course, I was unable to go back to sleep and continue that dream.  Over the years, I have dreamed about my parents and grandparents who have passed too, and a few times those dreams have made an impression like this one.  The next day on Facebook in my news feed I see a post that asks,”Have you had a visit from a deceased loved one in a dream?”  It said to find out if it was just a dream or visitation to click here.   I clicked, but it would not go to the website.  All I got was a white screen.  I then decided the heck with this and went on to something else.  Later on I started to think about it again, and went back on-line. I Googled “dream visits from loved ones”.  Well, I got a lot of information.  I read for a while and then went on to other things.  The next day I checked the library catalog to see if we had books on the subject and sure enough there were several books on the subject so I checked out two.  According to what I have read, they try to contact you in dreams, though animals, flowers, electrical things, etc.  Now I’m looking for signs that my loved ones are trying to contact me.  It would be just like my brother to contact me through Facebook. May be seeing a post about dream visitations on Facebook was a sign from him, letting me know that he did visit me in that dream. I’ve read that there are many signs all the time, but if we aren’t looking for it we won’t see them.  Well, I’ve been looking and a little disappointed that nothing has happened since the dream.

Carole J. Obley, a medium, writes in her book I’m still with you, “If a client or someone in his family is doing family genealogy, this will also be mentioned as proof that they are aware of the fact.  Sometimes spirits will assist in tracing the family tree by offering suggestions on where to find critical information.  One of my male clients had numerous relatives come through with very specific messages; in fact, his session probably holds the record for the number of names received in one sitting — not to mention the amount of evidential material these talkative spirits delivered.  Halfway through the session, I commented on how many people showed up to speak with him.  He laughed, adding that he’d written 40 books about his family tree!”[1]

Thinking about Ancestors wanting us to find them, reminded me of an experience I had a few years ago.  I went to a cemetery where my great-grandfather is buried.  I never knew him, my father never knew him.  In fact, my father only knew his name, that’s all.  I had very little information to go on when trying to find this man, and I was having a hard time finding him.  When I went to the cemetery, I wasn’t sure if this person was my great-grandfather or some one with the same name.  I went to the cemetery office to find out where his grave was located.  The man helping me pulled a book off the shelf and opened it right to the page that had my great grandfather’s name. We both were surprised and kind of laughed at the coincident. He told me where his grave was located, but said it did not have a tombstone.  I asked if there was information in the book as to next of kin or anything, and he said no.  I then thought if I could find out who paid for the lot it could  give me a lead.  I asked who owned the lot.  The man said that information was in another book, and he proceeds to get another book off the shelf.  He opens that book up right to page my great grandfather’s name is on.  At that point the man’s eyes got big and he said, “Oh my, grandpa really wants you to find him.”  It turned out that the grave was a pauper’s grave paid for by the State of Illinois.  After all that, I still didn’t know if it was my great-grandfather.  I have since found out that it is him.  So was that great-grandpa trying to tell me it was him?  I don’t know, but I am starting to wonder more about these kind of things.  Since I have always been a skeptic, I’m wondering if this is old age setting in, or am I losing my mind?

I have always felt disappointed that my current family doesn’t care to hear about the ancestors and my latest find.  I am all alone with my genealogy.  I can’t find anybody even a distant relative that is interested.  I had my DNA done through Ancestry.com in hopes of finding a 4th, or 5th cousin working on the same line.  Again a big disappointment.  Now I am hoping it’s true that maybe the ancestors who have passed on do care and are rooting for me to find them!

Daily Prompt: Disappointment

Copyright© 2016 Gail Grunst

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[1] Obley, Carole J., I’m still with you (Winchester, UK: O Books, 2008) pg. 127

Fake Genealogy

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Fake genealogy runs the gambit from fake coat of arms, fake family trees, fake documents, fake bible records, and fake inheritances to name a few.

We had a rare last name so back in 1974 when a company advertised to get your family coat-of-arms for the Manfroid name, my mother could not resist.  Of course it is a fake (see picture). She realized it was fake soon after she got it, when she found that the company would make a coat of arms for any name.  She was kind of interested in genealogy, but never got into it, and this was before I was interested.  When I first started I made many mistakes, one was not citing my sources.  When I learned the right way to do it, I had to go back and document everything.  So one of the first things you should learn is cite your sources, cite your sources, cite your sources.  I can’t say it enough after my experience of having to retrace my steps.  I grew up in the 50’s and 60’s way before the Internet, and before genealogy became a popular hobby.   A girl in my class brought her family tree to school for show-and-tell.  She was related to someone famous in American History.  I remember being so impressed, I wanted to get our family tree done too.  I went home and asked my  mother if we could get ours done, and she said, “It’s too expensive.”  Then later after I was married, a relative of my husbands showed me a family tree she had done on her father’s side (not related to my husband) and it went back to the Mayflower.  I was again so impressed. Now it seems a lot of people are into searching for the ancestors and with the Internet it does make it easier,  but you need to be careful.  If you find your family tree on-line, check out their sources and make sure that they are correct and do belong to your ancestor, not someone else.  Do not believe everything that is in print.  There is a famous author of fake genealogies, Gustav Anjou.  Many of his genealogies are online and in reputable libraries. Some fraudulent genealogists will connect you to royalty, someone famous, or the long-lost inheritance for the right price.

Some teachers in our area give an assignment to do a family tree to their students.   I’ve had mothers come into the library to fill in a five generation pedigree chart for their kids, and expecting to find it all on-line.  They may have one or two generations filled in and when they can’t find it online, they get all frustrated and say they are just going to make it up.  I guess the more generations they fill in the better their grade.  This assignment makes me so irate!  The teacher has no idea how difficult it is to fill in  complete five generation chart.  Year after year they give this assignment, and I wish they would stop.

Doing genealogy right requires patience and time.  Most of the time you search for hours, days, weeks, months, and years before you find your answer and that usually leads to another question and on and on it goes.That’s what makes it fun!  No quick answers like on TV, sorry!

Daily Prompt: Fake

Copyright © 2012 Gail Grunst

 

 

Skeletons in the closet

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Skeletons In The Closet

Are you afraid of skeletons in your closet?  Then stay away from genealogy!!!  Because you are going to find them.  My reason for doing genealogy is to feel a connection to the past.  Thousands of people had to come together to make me who I am today.  Where were they from, and what were their names?  What were their lives like and what happened to them?  How did they die?  Did they live through wars, famines, floods, fires, tornadoes, hurricanes, epidemics, abortions, miscarriages, etc?  I don’t care if they were good or bad, I just want to know their story.

I found many skeleton’s in closets that at the time my ancestors hid.  In today’s world some of them don’t seem so bad.  There have been divorces, illegitimate children, affairs, desertion, suicides, and killings.  If you are afraid of finding these things, stay away from genealogy!  On the other hand, many people are looking for royalty, or want to be related to someone famous.  Sometimes they are looking for a long lost inheritance. Many people come to genealogy because the family story has them related to someone famous.  The most common one I have found is Daniel Boone.  I swear everyone who has the surname Boone, thinks they are related to Daniel Boone.  That’s almost as popular as the myth of being related to Pocahontas. Most people do not find famous people in their bloodlines.  If you want to do genealogy because you think you are related to someone famous, you may be disappointed.  But I can tell you the lives of ordinary people who did ordinary things can be interesting too.  You never know what you will find.

Where do fit on the spectrum?  Are you afraid of what you will find or are you looking for famous people or royalty in your bloodline?  Maybe you are like me and just want to know where you come from.  Where ever the facts lead you, you need to be willing to accept it.  In genealogy we do not alter the facts to fit our narrative.  The documented facts make our ancestor’s story.

Daily Prompt: Closet

Finding your Ancestors in the Newspapers.

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Do you use the Newspaper Archives to search for your ancestors? You should it’s a gold mine.  I subscribe to Genealogy Bank, and I can get the Newspaper Archives at my library.  Check with your local library to see if you can get access to the Newspaper Archives, Genealogy Bank, or any others.  Some libraries have their own town newspapers digitized so make sure to check with each library in the towns that your ancestor’s lived.   The Library of Congress has digitized newspapers from around the country and it is free to search so check out Chronicling America. I’m really hooked on looking for my ancestors in the newspapers.  You never know what tidbit you will find.

At first I thought mainly of Obituaries which are a wonderful genealogy resource. Obituaries can give you names of the deceased’s husband, children, grandchildren, brothers, sisters, and parents to name a few.  Also, the date and place of birth, date and place of marriage, name of their church, school, and employment.  Then on the other hand it may say “Tom died on May 5” and that’s all, but at least you get a death date.  However, beyond the obituaries, there are marriage announcements, birth announcements, and everything in between.  If they played a sport, or belonged to a lodge, you might find them mentioned in the newspaper.

I have been able to piece together parts of my ancestor’s lives this way.  I found an ancestor who was a doctor and performed an abortion in the 1920’s . The lady died, and he was charged with her death, but was acquitted. A couple of years later he was hit by a car.  Another ancestor was director of the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, and he was in the news quite a bit.  One ancestor lived to be 100 and he was featured in the newspaper article with his picture.  I didn’t have a picture of him, so this was quite a find for me.  I found an article about my great-great grandfather getting killed by his neighbor. Also, found that his son accidentally shot himself in the chest.  I’ve found the amount my grandfather paid in property tax and his bowling scores.  An obituary for my great-grandfather said that he had a great-great grandson that was related to Danny Thomas.  I’ve tried to check this out, but have not had any luck so far.  These are just a few examples.  Check it out and see what you can find in newspapers, it may surprise you.

Daily Prompt: Newspaper

In Search of Alexena’s Parents

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Alexena Bowers

Alexena Frazier Bowers

I’ve had a brick wall when it comes to my great-great grandmother, Alexena Frazier.  I’ve been trying to find her parents for some time now.  According to her obituary she was born in 1847 in Nassagaweya, Halton, Ontario, Canada.[1] There are no civil birth records for this time period in Canada. I would have to hope for church records.  Nassagaweya was a remote area back in 1847 so I don’t know if I will find church records, but it will require a trip to Canada.  In the meantime, I try to search from home and archives close to my home.

Alexena’s death certificate states her parents are David Frazier and Catherine McBean.[2]  For years, I have been looking for a David Frazier and Catherine McBean in Nassagaweya with no luck.  I find a David Frazier, but not old enough to be her father and not married to a Catherine McBean.   As Ancestry.com and Familysearch.org add more records, I return to them in hopes that something has been added on Alexena, David, or Catherine.  Recently, while searching on Familysearch for her father, David Frazier, I ran across the death of a David Fraser who died September 21, 1914 in Nassagaweya and his parents are listed as David Fraser and Elizabeth McBean.[3] He was born in 1832[4]  which would make him 15 when Alexena was born.  This would probably make him too young to be her father, but possibly a brother, since his mother’s last name is McBean.  It is possible that whoever gave her mother’s name as Catherine on her death certificate got the name wrong.  Alexena did name her oldest daughter Elizabeth,[5] possibly after her mother Elizabeth.  If I go with the assumption that the David who died in Nassagaweya in 1914 is her brother, it would make sense to trace him backwards, and see if I can find a link to Alexena.

So backwards I went with David.  The first thing I found was David’s grave listed on Find-a-Grave.  He is buried in St. David’s Church Cemetery Campbellville , Halton Regional Municipality.  Tombstone read, Died September 21, 1914 in his 83 year.[6] Find-A-Grave states that David was born in 1831 in Scotland.[7]Also listed on the same tombstone was a Maud Fraser, Died August 12, 1902 in her 27 year.[8] This was David’s daughter.[9]Find-a-grave site states he was married to a Mary Robinson born 1836.[10] I then found David on the 1861 Ontario Canada Census married to a Mary.[11] On the same page further down is a Hugh Frazier married to a Christina.[12] He is 50 and she is 38.[13]  Who is Hugh and is he related to David?  Next I found a marriage record for David to a Mary Robertson, David is 26 and Mary 23.[14]  On the marriage record he lists his father as Hugh Frazier and Mother Elizabeth McBain (spelling different). The next thing I came across was a passenger ship list for David Frazier in 1834 he was 2 years old.[15] He was with a Hugh Frazier(24 years old) and Elizabeth Frazier (21 years old).[16]   Also listed with them is an Isabella Frazier 4 years old.[17] On the passenger list David’s father is now Hugh, the same name listed on the 1861 census near David.  So maybe I should be looking for Hugh as Alexena’s father not David.  I suspect that they do what so many people did back them, go by their middle name. I have run across this numerous times where they switch around first and middle names.  It makes it very confusing when trying to track them down.

My next strategy was to search Hugh Fraser (Frazer, Frazier), so back to the 1861 census. Hugh is not married to Elizabeth, but to a Christina.[18] The next thing I found was that Hugh married Christina in 1859.[19]  I started searching for Hugh’s death when I found an article in the Canadian Champion from 15 May 1873 that reads:  “Notice: Nassagaweya May 5, 1873 whereas my wife Christina Frazer has left my bed and board without just cause or provocation, this is to forbid all persons trusting her on my account.”[20]  Apparently, something happened to his second marriage.  Next, I found a death notice for Hugh Fraser and all it said was Hugh Fraser died on May 31, 1888 at Campbellville.  He was 77 years and 7 months.[21]

Now I needed to find out what happened to Elizabeth. I found that  Elizabeth died 18 November 1852 at 47 years and 4 months.[22]  This makes her a little older than the ships record, but maybe I misread the 21 since it was hard to read.  Also that would make her 42 when Alexena was born. Her tombstone read from Scotland, Inverness Shire, Parish of Moy, wife of Hugh Frazer, who departed this life Nov. 18, 1852, aged 47 years and 4 months.[23] Elizabeth died when Alexena was only 5 years old.

Earlier, when I saw Isabella Frazier on the ship passenger list[24], the name rang a bell.  I remembered that previously I had found Alexena living with an Isabella Thomas on 1861 Canadian Census.[25] Isabella is listed as 30 years old on the census[26] which puts her at the right age to be the same Isabella listed on ships passenger list.  Could Isabella Thomas be the Isabella Frazier on the ship passenger list?  Could this be Alexena’s sister?  Now I needed to find out if Isabella Thomas is Isabella Frazier.  I searched for a marriage record for Isabella Fraser.  I found one on Ancestry.com for an Isabella Fraser married to a George McK Thomas.[27]  Once again, the first name changes. Her father is listed as Hugh no surname and the mothers name is M.[28]  The “M” might stand for McBean.  This is just an index so I will eventually need to see the actual record.  Also, it lists both their ages as 24 in 1859 Nassagaweya Township.[29]  I always wondered why Alexena was living with Isabella in 1861 at the age of 14.  When I saw that Hugh remarried in 1859, only two years before Alexena appears living with Isabella, I wondered if there was a problem between Alexena and Hugh’s new wife.  If indeed this is her father.It could also be that when Elizabeth died, Isabella took over raising Alexena.

While I still have no document to prove the relationship between Alexena, Hugh, and Elizabeth, I do have a lot of circumstantial evidence.  So I feel 95% sure that I am on the right track here.  I really need to make a trip to Canada.  I’ve been on the verge of going a couple of times, but something always comes up that makes it impossible for me to make the trip.  Every year, I hope this is the year!  Sometime after 1861 and before 1868 Alexena came to Ottawa, Illinois.  So far I haven’t been able to find out exactly when she came and why.  I know she was here in 1868 because that is when she married Charles Bowers.[30]

I won’t stop until I find the document that proves the relationship to Hugh and Elizabeth.  I know there is more to be done and more places to look.  If Hugh and Elizabeth turn out to be her parents, I’m pretty sure that I will be able to go back a couple more generations in Scotland

Copyright © 2016 Gail Grunst

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[1] Obituary for Alexena Bowers. Daily Republican Times, (Ottawa, LaSalle, IL) Monday Evening, 8 March, 1926; Vol XLIX, No 208, Page 1 (Front Page).

[2] “Death Certificate for Alexena Bowers”, March 7 1926 (filed March 9, 1926), registered number 37, State of Illinois, Department of Public Health – Division of Vital Statistics, Springfield, IL.

[3] [3] “Ontario Deaths, 1869-1937 and Overseas Deaths, 1939-1947,” database with images,FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:JNQH-ZY1 : David Fraser, 21 Sep 1914; citing Nassagaweya, Halton, Ontario, yr 1914 cn 14898, Archives of Ontario, Toronto; FHL microfilm 1,861,974.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Year 1880; Census Place: Ottawa, LaSalle, Illinois; Roll: 79_223; Family History Film 1254223; Page: 516.1000 & 516.2000; Enumeration District: 81; Image: 0553Ancestry.com and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. United States Federal Census [database on-line].  Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, 2005

[6] Find A Grave web site http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=130037355 David Fraser born 1831 Scotland. Saint David’s Church Cemetery, Campellville, Halton Regional Municipality, Ontario, Canada

[7] Ibid.

[8] [8] Find A Grave web site http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=130037355 Maud Fraser, died August 12,1902, in her 27 year.  Saint David’s Church Cemetery, Campellville, Halton Regional Municipality, Ontario, Canada.

[9] Ibid.

[10]  Find a grave web site http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=130037355 David married Mary Robertson born 1836, Saint David’s Church Cemetery, Campellville, Halton Regional Municipality, Ontario, Canada.

[11] Census Record for David and Mary Fraser.  Library and Archives Canada; Ottawa, Ontario, Canada; Census Returns For 1861; Roll: C-1030-1031 Ancestry.com and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 1861 Census of Canada [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2009. 

[12] Census record for Hugh and Christina Fraser. Library and Archives Canada; Ottawa, Ontario, Canada; Census Returns For 1861; Roll: C-1030-1031 Ancestry.com and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 1861 Census of Canada [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2009. 

[13] Ibid.

[14] Marriage Record for David Fraser.  Ancestry.com and Genealogical Research Library (Brampton, Ontario, Canada). Ontario, Canada, Marriages, 1801-1928 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010. Original Source:  Ontario, Canada, Select Marriages. Archives of Ontario, Toronto.   MS248; Reel: 7

[15] “New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1891,” database with Images, FamilySearch  (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1QVPZ-R762) David Frazier, 1834; citing NARA microfilm publication M237 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.); FHL microfilm.

[16] “New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1891,” database with Images, FamilySearch    (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1QVPZ-R762) Isabella Frazier, 1834; citing NARA microfilm publication M237 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.); FHL microfilm

[17] “New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1891,” database with Images, FamilySearch    (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1QVPZ-R762) Isabella Frazier, 1834; citing NARA microfilm publication M237 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.); FHL microfilm.

[18] Census Record for Hugh Fraser.  Library and Archives Canada; Ottawa, Ontario, Canada; Census Returns For 1861; Roll: C-1031. Ancestry.com and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 1861 Census of Canada [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2009

[19] Marriage record for Hugh Fraser.  Ancestry.com and Genealogical Research Library (Brampton, Ontario, Canada). Ontario, Canada, Marriages, 1801-1928 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010. Original Source:  Ontario, Canada, Select Marriages. Archives of Ontario, Toronto.   MS248; Reel: 7

[20] Notice from Hugh Frazer, Canadian Champion (Milton, On), 15 May 1873 page 2. Halton’s Historical and Newspaper records.  http://news.halinet.on.ca/2491105/page/2?n=

[21] Death notice for Hugh Fraser, Canadian Champion (Milton, On) 7 June 1888, page 3.

[22] Find a grave website http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=130451657 Elizabeth McBean Frazer Campbellville Burying Grounds, Campbellville, Halton Regional Muncipality, Ontario, Canada.

[23] Ibid.

[24] “New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1891,” database with Images, FamilySearch    (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1QVPZ-R762) Isabella Frazier, 1834; citing NARA microfilm publication M237 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.); FHL microfilm

[25] Census Record for Alexena Fraser Library and Archives Canada; Ottawa, Ontario, Canada; Census Returns For 1861; Roll: C-1031. Ancestry.com and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 1861 Census of Canada [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2009

[26] Census Record for Isabella Thomas Library and Archives Canada; Ottawa, Ontario, Canada; Census Returns For 1861; Roll: C-1031. Ancestry.com and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 1861 Census of Canada [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2009

[27] Ancestry.com and Genealogical Research Library (Brampton, Ontario, Canada). Ontario, Canada, Marriages, 1801-1928 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010. Original

[28] Ibid.

[29] Ibid.

[30] Marriage record for Alexena Frazer and Charles Bowers dated 1868.  Illinois, LaSalle County.  Marriage License and return #1862.  County Clerk’s office, Ottawa.

My Favorite Blogs this Week

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I’ve been reading many blogs this past week.  I really, really liked a couple of them and thought I would share them with you.  Here are the links.

Two Young Women Ahead of their Time (c. 1911)

Letters offer front row seat to behind the scenes adventures in life on the road with chautauqua c 1911

A FIGHT FOR LIFE; ORANG-UTANS

I hope you enjoy as much as I did!