Gene Notes

Some random and some not-so-random thoughts on family history.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Relatively Speaking

I'm up tomorrow and was inspired by e-conversations with cousins Carol & Karen. Don't forget to check back!

Happy Hunting

Copyright 2010, ACK for Gene Notes

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Surname Saturday: Kruszka

This is my husband's surname - and mine for the last 30 years. The origins are Polish, of course, and it is pear in Polish.  At one time, hubby's grandfather used the name Pear instead of Kruszka. Then came social security and since he hadn't legally changed his name, he was screwed. Unfortunately, he didn't live long enough to collect social security. There is a family story about why he changed his name to Pear, but I've never been able to substantiate it.

Copyright 2010, ACK for Gene Notes

Friday, January 29, 2010

Random Finds

The other night I was playing working on the Oneida County, New York GenWeb. Oh what fun. It's a great site and their indexing is wonderful. It's always great to find something you didn't have before, like births, deaths, maiden names! This is a great site, one that was last updated in December of 2009.  Since I have been working in this area, the Oneida county genweb has been a real boon.

And, while working on some census last night, I found enumerated with Charles and Lydia Percival Rice (daughter of Moses and Susan Percival) a man by the name of Lorenzo Percival born about 1824. I think he could be one of the three remaining elusive children of Moses and Susan, his birthdate falling well within the 1816 - 1841 birthdate time frame of Moses and Susan's children. Unfortunately that is the only time I find him anywhere.

I do love a mystery!

Copyright 2010, ACK for Gene Notes

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Notes on Color This Life Tragic

After doing a little more research on this family, I find at least one other child born to Arch and Edith Percival Lough, an unnamed male born June 5, 1889. I also discovered that Arch died in 1943.

However, what else I've found are the number of indictments against Arch Lough. Besides inciting riot, for which he was indicted in 1895 - returned home to find his wife with another man, Arch was indicted for stealing horse and assault and some petty crimes. Some prior to his marriage to Edith Percival. Probably their divorce was a good thing.

Copyright 2010, ACK for Gene Notes

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Newspaper Research - Color This Life Tragic

Family research is not just names and dates and causes of death and burial places. You have to sometimes read between the lines in census and death and marriage certificates.

I am still working on these Percival lines in New York State. I've been working on them for the whole year. Ok, so the year is not quite 4 weeks old, but still.

One of the things I found was a granddaughter of Chauncey and Catherine Percival enumerated with them on the 1900 census. Her name was Florence Lough. Since they had two daughters,  there were suspicions on my part that both daughters had been married more than once.

Still using my latest favorite newspaper site Old Fulton Postcards (aka Fulton History), I found Florence Lough was adopted by Chauncey Percival. Great, just what I needed was one more Florence Percival to research in New York. Well, on the 1910 census I found Florence living with Howard Marvel and Edith Marvel, and she is listed as daughter.

Well, now I have to find what I can on Chauncey's daughter Ede (per 1870 & 1880 census), who is listed as Mrs. Edith Marvel in Chauncey's obituary.

I find her, but oh, what a surprise. I find an article about Archibald Lowe who was arrested and charged with being an instigator of the Tonawanda, New York riot of 1895. Finally released on bail, he comes home to find another man at his dinner table. This man is referred to as Harvey Marvin. Is this really Howard Marvel?

Whether or not it is, apparently Mrs. Lowe deserted her husband and two children in favor of Mr. Marvin. The kicker line was that Mrs. Lowe was formerly Miss Edith Percival of Annsville, New York and is well connected.

Ok, newspaper reporting apparently was not that accurate in 1895 in Rome, New York. Substitute Lough for Lowe and BINGO! you have the story of the end of a marriage. Whatever happened to the other child is unknown.

By 1896, Howard and Edith Marvel have a child and he dies at the age of one month and seven days. In 1900, they are living in Utica and census record says she was the mother of two, none living. I guess Florence didn't count? And what happened to the other child of Archibald Lough?

In 1901, after a chase through the streets of Utica, Howard Marvel swears out a warrant against one Archibald Hall who claimed Marvel was living with his wife! Is this supposed to be Archibald Lough (Lowe)?

I don't know exactly when Edith Percival Marvel dies, but Howard remarries in 1927. I find no record of her after 1917.

Florence Lough Percival marries one Ernest Spediacci on August 3, 1922. Her obituary says he dies in 1947, but the only Ernest Spediacci I can find was a bootlegger who died in 1937.  But there is indeed a Florence Spediacci in Utica in 1930. 

Florence married Utica Deputy Police Chief Vincent in November of 1947. He hung himself in their cellar August 25,1960. Six months later, Florence, despondent over his suicide, hangs herself in the bathroom. No mention of survivors is made in her obituary.

I can't even imagine a life as tragic as this. Sometimes the things we find in researching are happy, or interesting, or mysterious. And sometimes they are just unbearably sad.

Copyright 2010, ACK for Gene Notes

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Rest of the Story

Last week, I blogged about my grandmother, Mary Anne Bowman Percival. She was born in Lexington, Missouri in 1893 and died August 11, 1938 in Sault Ste Marie, Michigan. Yeah, it was a long way from Lexington, Missouri.

She married John Stearns Percival on March 3, 1920. They had two sons.

In the late 1920's my grandfather, a civil engineer, took a job in Detroit. He was a supervisor on the Detroit Water Intake Tunnel project.

They were a long way from home in the 1930's during the Great Depression. Dad said things were really hard for his parents, and when in the mid 1930's things started to get better, they started to take trips again.

They were on their way to "The Soo" when my grandmother took ill. Grandpa left his two sons, ages 13 and 17 in St. Ignace and took his wife to War Memorial Hospital in Sault Ste Marie, Michigan. The next day he retrieved his sons, so they could see their mother before she died.

Fast forward to 1986, conversation between me and dad.

"Dad, what did your mother die from."

"She died of female trouble."

No kidding. That is what he told me. As someone who suffered from "female trouble," I thought "No one dies from female trouble while on vacation."

A simple written request and $5 to the Chippewa county Clerk's office netted me the real story. Mary died of a bowel obstruction. Not female problems.

So while it is imperative to ask your relatives all the questions they will answer, don't take everything for gospel truth. Memories are highly imperfect.

Of course, that death record wasn't without errors, either. It had her father as Frank Bowerman.

Copyright 2010, (ACK) for Gene Notes

Monday, January 25, 2010

Blame it on the Flu

Have you hit some stumbling blocks in your family research, say between 1910 and 1920. You have that family on the 1910 census but by 1920 they are gone. Or maybe you find a child who was 10 in 1910 and in 1920 you have a 19-21 year old that could fit, but the rest of the family is nowhere to be found.

Consider the influenza epidemic of 1918. Hubby and I watched an interesting PBS special - circa 1998 - about the great influenza epidemic of 1918.  I knew that it was towards the end of 1918, but had no idea it started in September, in October it had reached its zenith and by the time of the Armistice it had burned itself out.

Estimates are that 30 million people worldwide died from this epidemic. The shocking statistic is that from October 1st through October 31st 1918, 550,000 people died in the United States alone. The other shocking statistic is that this virulent disease wiped out the people it generally skips, the young and healthy.

Even though it bears the moniker of Spanish Influenza, it started at an army base in Kansas. Army bases being crowded during war time, it spread rapidly.  On September 12, 1918, the last major draft was called. These men were stuck in crowded conditions in public halls awaiting draft registration. These were the carriers and victims of this deadly disease.

If you are lucky enough to be able to get access to death records from 1918, scan the months of September through November.

Check newspapers for lists of dead for those months. Maybe you have a relative with a badly misspelled name in a report.

PS - I found a link to The American Experience - Influenza 1918 online at PBS.  You can view the program by clicking here and following the link.

Copyright 2010, ACK Gene Notes

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Relatively Speaking - Cousins Who Blog

Cousin Carol is up tomorrow with the Wild Ones Relatively Speaking blog theme. Check her out at Reflections From the Fence. While I don't have a clue as to her topic, Carol's blog is great. If you haven't read her yet, click on the link!

Copyright 2010, ACK for Gene Notes

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Surname Saturday - Zabrack

This has been the most frustrating name to research. The name belongs to Christine Wilhelmine Zabrack Klesat (Clesat/Cleasott, etc). She is my great-great grandmother and her daughter, Augusta Wilhelmina married August Zimmeth. I've been told the name is wrong, and that may very well be, but her adult daughter gave that name when she converted to Catholocism.

The transcribed copy from St. Joseph Catholic Church in East Tawas, Michigan reads:

Baptism 1885-#56 Augusta Kleesaert wife of August Zimmeth.

AD 1885, 25th October, baptized Augusta, born 26th October 1849, wife of August Zimmeth and daughter of Christopher Kleesaert & Wilhelmina Zabrack; godparents were Henry (last name unreadable) and Mary Griffin, wife of Daniel Douglas. - William A. Nevin (priest).

Unfortunately, somewhere in this move, I have misplaced that piece of paper with the photocopy of the baptismal record.

I have no way to prove or disprove whether or not Zabrack is correct, since I have no clue where Wilhelmina and Christian (not Christopher) were married or where their three children were born.

I've been beating my head on the wall for over 20 years on this family. It would be nice to see at least a little dent - in the wall not my head!

Copyright 2010, ACK for Generational & Gene Notes

Friday, January 22, 2010

Handy Occupations, the Other Side

A while back I talked about how my previous jobs of medical secretary and library clerks prepared me for family research.

In going through the census, I have made note of some of the occupations of these people who came before.

In my own immediate family, my dad was a janitor at the Catholic Church and school we all attended. Some of us even worked there as temps, part time employees or full time employees. My dad was the ultimate handyman. I am sure he could have gotten work as an electrician and been licensed to do that, but he liked to do all kinds of different stuff. When he retired, that is what he did - handyman jobs.

My paternal grandfather was a civil engineer and worked for the City of Detroit until they forced him to retire circa early 1960's. His father was more like my dad, trained to work with tin, with plumbing, he partnered in a hardware store.

My maternal grandfather was a day laborer. His father was a farmer and onetime sawyer.

We have the usual farmers, doctors, dentists, carpenters, lawyers, merchants, but I've come across a few that really tickled my fancy.

Stage driver. This was in New York State in the years between 1850 and 1870. Harness makers and liverymen. Pretty self explanatory. I have in my Percival line blacksmiths all the way back to the 1670's. Not every generation, but you had to be pretty handy in those days if you wanted to keep your farm going. The last blacksmith I found in our line was Jabez Percival, who apprenticed under his uncle Joseph Oliver. Jabez ended up a partner in the Percival Iron Works in Los Angeles, California. Jabez died in 1896.

If you throw in the bank president, painter, servants and clerks, you see how rounded they become. There is a smattering of milliners, dressmakers, nurses and teachers on the female side, not to mention librarians.

The four that were really memorable were:

The beer truck driver in upstate New York. Not sure if he had been drinking on the job or not, but in 1932 he lost control and crashed and rolled his beer truck. He died a few days later.
The gentleman who went from being a lawyer to a Capitalist to a dry good merchant. By the time he died, he had no living descendants, so he left his money to a nephew who was a traveling salesman.

Then there was the family of jewelers in Boston. There were at least 3 generations of them, some of them Harvard graduates.

But being the chocoholic that I am - I would have like to known the confectioner!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Reading Between the Lines

On Monday, my blog subject was Obsessive Compulsive Family Research Disorder, and I'd like to thank everyone who left a comment. I can see the Wild Ones and I are not the only ones who suffer enjoy this affliction.

But it was Alice over at My Genealogy Research-Alice who triggered a memory for me.

You see, I never knew my dad's mother. We always knew her as Mary Bowman Percival, Bowman being her maiden name. According to my dad, his mother never had a middle name. She was just always, Mary.

So imagine my surprise when I came across an engagement announcement for my grandparents, and it lists her as Mary Anne Bowman.  Not only that, but her marriage license gives her name as Mary A. Bowman. Unfortunately, by the time I had discovered these records, my dad had passed, so I couldn't even discuss this with him and why he thought his mom had no middle name. But it makes me wonder if this middle name is legitimate or not.

It's prompted me to look at the family and wonder why I don't have middle names for anyone else in this line,  The line was sort of anal when it came to naming their children.

I don't really remember my dad and his father ever discussing dad's mom. I certainly never thought to ask my grandfather is dad's mom had a middle name. I  was only 13 when he died. But since both these records predate my father, It's entirely possible that her middle name was Anne.

So imagine my surprise when I came across this little table favor from their wedding.

Copyright 2010,  for Generational & Gene Notes

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Passing It On

I have been interested in family history for many, many years. I hung on the stories my mom and dad told about their childhoods. Both parents lost their mothers when they were young, mom when she was almost 8 and dad when he was 13. So their memories of their formative years were bittersweet.

Dad had copies of his mother's application for the United Daughters of the Confederacy hanging on the wall for many years. Yes, dad's family fought on that side. I got him to make me a copy and when I got my first genealogy program, and after adding immediate family began to enter the information Grandma Percival had written in on her worksheet. The interesting thing about that worksheet was that Grandma was not eligible to enter on her maternal grandfather's record. John Garland Webb took the Oath of Allegiance before 1865 upon his release from the Gratiot Street Prison in St. Louis as a POW. She ended up joining on her paternal grandfather's line, John Parker Bowman. And so it was, that fifty years later, I joined the UDC on her record.

It seemed for years that dad and I were the only ones interested in the family history. Occasionally, I would get an inquiry from a sibling about one of the surnames in our family tree. Then one day, Older Daughter showed an interest. She still doesn't like going to cemeteries, and still isn't obsessed the way her mom is. But there is hope there.

Recently, one of my much younger sisters (11 years is quite the gap, eh?) started to show an interest. I suggested free software that she could download and sent her an email with a gedcom attached. Her most recent comment to me was "I can't believe I am getting sucked into this."  Yay! I'm glad to pass on this contagious disease.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

At Work or How I stay organized

Yes, that is my desk. As you can see, not a lot of space, so staying organized while I obsess and compulsively search is really important. I've taken to adding post it notes and clips to my piles so that I can quickly search through them for what I am looking for. You can also see that I also enjoy listening to music/audiobooks while I work. The large sheet from the notepad has citations for the obituaries and marriage notices I found. I will save the image and type the name of the newspaper and the date, page and column where available. On the bit from a biography, I actually wrote the name of the individual and his father's name so that when I get to it I don't draw a complete blank. The calculator is there to figure ages.

Lots of notepaper around because it gets buried so easily. Also, I am a southpaw, so smaller pads work better for me, although I have a large notebook sitting on my scanner. I usually use that for tracking census when I am searching for a family. Just more room to write the info, makes me wish I was more ambidextrous. Don't forget the paper attached to the top of my laptop. Right now it is holding a bunch of obituaries for me to type. I try to print obits and marriage notes two to a page. The note holder also will clip to the side of the monitor if necessary. What you can't see are my stapler and my little sticky-notes flags. I use these to mark pages in books.

No, that is not dirt on the wall to the left of my monitor - it is the shadow of a lucite case that holds some of my miniatures. I love minis and am trying to figure out a place to put together a half-inch scale dollhouse kit I have owned for years.

The printer on the far left is the possessed thing that has been making me nuts the last couple of weeks.

I know the size of my office would not work for a lot of people but it is actually larger than the office I occupied when I was a pathology secretary. And it is bigger than the cubby I had when I worked at the library. Since this has MY STUFF in it, I like it a lot better. It also has a window which helps me keep an eye out for the newspaper and the mailman and is great for birdwatching.  Not pictured are the binoculars I use to try and identify birds at the bird feeder. DH thinks I use them for spying on the neighbors! Who has time for that?

Monday, January 18, 2010

True Obsessive Compulsive Family Research Disorder

I'm not complaining. Really. I'm not. I've spent the last 14 days working on some obituaries and marriages over at Old Fulton Postcards aka Fulton History. I started with seven. As you know, once you start transcribing them, you come across things like "She is survived by a sister, Mrs Charles Geiser" or something along those lines. Only she has 4 sisters and you don't have any idea which sister is Mrs. Charles Geiser. The obituary tells you that Mrs. Charles Geiser lives in Whitesboro (New York) but when you look up the 1930 census, you don't find Charles Geiser let alone Mrs. Charles Geiser.

So here I sit, still trying to find a marriage record or an obit for Charles Geiser - or Mrs Charles Geiser.  In the meantime, I've typed four of those seven obituaries, only now I have ten sitting there waiting for my attention. How did that happen? I type two more. An obituary gives me a woman's married name (along with her first name) and I go hunting for her. Since she is a sister of Mrs. Charles Geiser, I think hey, this will help. Only it doesn't. She is still listed as Mrs. Charles Geiser. And because I can't find her on the census, either. By now my pile of obituaries/marriage announcements has grown to twenty five.

At this point I figure I will just type all the obituaries and put them aside to work on descendants later. By this time, I have associated about 120 census records with these families I am working on. I have a stack of printouts with information to verify from Find-A-Grave. I have pages from county histories and biographical dictonaries from related people awaiting my perusal and evaluation. And that pile of obits? I've whittled it down to sixteen. But I know I am not done. I know those obituaries and marriage announcements and census records are out there, I just haven't found the right combination of words to put in the search box to whittle those hits on Fulton History down below 5000.

Hubby tries to drag me away from my research by promising lunch out. I ask him for five more minutes - in reality more like fifteen - and I am still drinking my morning coffee which has long grown cold. Hubby is glaring at me from my office door. Ancestry won't load the page fast enough, my palms are sweaty and I sit there rocking back and forth and ..

Yes, this is how you know I have OCFRD. That and my office chair has my butt so deeply impressed into it that no one can sit there comfortably except me.

Good luck researching!

P.S. My OCFRD paid off. I determined that Mrs. Charles Gaiser (not Geiser) was Ethel Percival who married first Henry Lockwood (not Larkwood as one obit had it.) Her second husband was Charles Gaiser and I actually found his obituary too. I didn't find them together on the 1930 census because they weren't married yet. It only took two weeks! I'm even done sorting out which child belongs to Charles and his first wife and Ethel and her first husband and which belongs to both of them.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Friday, January 15, 2010

Researching in Cemeteries

It is no secret in my family that I love cemeteries. My husband and children will attest to that. We've actually planned some vacations around cemeteries. Visiting relatives in Missouri was just an excuse for going to MachPelah Cemetery in Lexington, Missouri  and Sunny Slope in Richmond, Missouri to find the ancestral burial plots. And sure, I was sneaky when planning trips to Kings Island, Ohio when the kids were little and planned that side trip to Burlington Cemetery in Burlington, Kentucky to find the burial plot of my great-great-great grandmother Sarah Ann (Kirtley) Percival Webb. Husband and I have made so many trips to Lexington Cemetery in Lexington, Kentucky photographing headstones, that he could probably drive there blindfolded. And I am far from done with that cemetery.

Then there are the occasional trips to Mount Olivet in Detroit to find the odd plot here and there. Last summer, when stopping at our favorite coffee supplier in Madison Heights, I asked Husband, how far are we from Mount Olivet Cemetery? Can we make a quick trip there, I want to see if my mom's uncle John Ochsenfeld was buried there? 

Funny. We hadn't been there since the mid 1990's probably before I went back to work, and discovered McNichols was closed there. Finally, circling the perimeter we found the way into the cemetery and were able to discover the plot and headstones of John Ochsenfeld and his first wife, Selena Warmuskerken Ochsenfeld. My mother's aunt, Rose Zimmeth, was married to John and they basically raised my mother before and after the death of her mother and abandonment by her father when mom was 7, her brother 9 and sister 6.

But what do you do when you live in Michigan and the cemetery is in California; or you live in Tennessee and the cemetery is in Philadelphia?

First, check for burials. The link here takes you directly to the search page. Many, many people have contributed to this site, not only information, but cemetery photos, headstone photos, personal photos, obituaries, death certificates, etc. Please remember to source these and if you are going to use the linked images, get permission. Another good site, I am told, is Unfortunately, I never have luck with this site.

Second, if the cemetery in question is across the country, consider looking for a researcher to get the records for you. I did this in the case of a branch of the Percival family in California. The family was that of my great-great grandfather John Percival's brother, Jabez. It was worth the cost to me, because I know there isn't any chance of me traveling to Los Angeles.

Third, check to see if the cemetery has an online presence. One I found is Laurel Hill Cemetery in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. You can submit queries, and they will respond. I submitted a query last year and they not only sent me a copy of the burial record, but 8 x 10 glossy photos of the burial blot and each stone in it. I gladly sent a donation to the Friends of Laurel Hill. Or there is Lexington Cemetery in Lexington, Kentucky which has their burial records online. Another of my favorites is Spring Grove Cemetery in Cincinnati, Ohio. Clicking on the record number will get you a .pdf of the burial record. Some of the information that may be included are parents, plot owner, sometimes the cause of death. Another favorite is Cave Hill Cemetery in Louisville, Kentucky. Their twist to the index is that you can also find the section and plot on a .pdf map. Friend/Cousin Karen has used this also in preparation for a trip there last year. Husband doesn't know yet, but that is the next cemetery project.

Fourth, if you have a veteran, don't forget to check the Nationwide Gravesite Locator. This site is maintained by the US Department of Veterans Affairs and lists burials in National Cemeteries.

I found the cemeteries by simple searches of google. If they have a web presence, you will find them. Even if they don't have a web presence, you can sometimes find SKS who will get the information for you for either a small fee or for free or in exchange.

Happy digging!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Best Laid Plans

One of my New Year's resolutions was to join a genealogical society. Well, there is one here in town. I've been a couple times and as far as I can tell they are not very active. I haven't seen anything other than non-members are welcome to attend that encourages new members. No seminars, no classes for newbies, nothing.

With that in mind, I forced myself to get ready to attend and even "gasp" join. Dear Husband and I decided to take a run by the library to see what the parking situation was. There are maybe 30 parking spaces at this library, not including the handicapped spots. I figured with the weather it might be best to see what the situation was.

I guess it is a good thing we drove by as the library was closed due to the one and a half inches of snow we got over the last couple of days. Yes, you read it right, one and a half inches of snow.

That resolution will hang on for another month.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

More Distractions

First, let me say I would rather work on my family history than almost anything else. I absolutely am crazy about finding things. It doesn't even have to be my family.

So imagine my mood when I am pulled away from a research project by printer problems. Such was the case last week. I was trying to print a couple of 4 x 6 inch borderless photos from my niece's wedding in 2008. These were pictures with most of my siblings. Even after hours of dealing with Hewlett-Packard's outsourced-to-a-foreign-country help, I still cannot get these photos to print without chopping off heads. Or if I do, they are no longer borderless photos. I want them specifically for a collage frame that specifically uses 4 x 6 photos. I have tried everything. The other problem was that my printer did not want to pull the photo paper through. It was so frustrating. I felt the 4 hours I spent on this was a total waste of time except for the photo paper thing. I am thinking about pulling out my little portable travel printer which is a Canon and seeing how that does the photos.

It is frustrating when you purchase a product specifically for a particular use and it does not work the way it is supposed to. And, because of the irritating problems with this printer, I am seriously considering the purchase of a multifunction that is anything but an HP.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Aliens Dropped Him from a Spaceship

I know I've talked about those to do folders sitting in my file cabinets behind almost every surname. I also keep a virtual one called Needs Work on my laptop. I think I owe this idea to friend/cousin Carol over at Reflections From the Fence. Anyway, over the last year I have relegated a lot of digital images to this file. Some that are about the join it refer to the Percival/Allen/Scott/Slaughter line of Adair and Macon counties in Missouri. 

The Percival in question is one Jared Erastus Percival aka Erastus Percival. He married Susan Allen in 1864 and they had two children Elizabeth M, born 1865 and died in 1866; and Mary "Emma" born 1868.

Besides his marriage record, Civil War record (he was discharged because he was unable to speak) and Civil War Pension application and the headstone in the cemetery, there is no other information on this man. It seems he was either hatched or dropped from a spaceship.

I can find no obituary for him, no death record, and maddeningly no census. If he was born circa 1840, he should at least appear in 1850 and 1860. Nothing. Nada. Zip & Zilch!

I've posted him to the Percival list over at Rootsweb and hopefully someone knows who  the heck he is! otherwise it appears they will end up in that Needs Work file. [Since writing this, I have been given a lead that he might be from the UK. I've not been able to prove or disprove this suggestion. I am still leaning towards the spaceship scenario.]

Monday, January 11, 2010

Relatively Speaking: Reaching Out

Last week, cousin/friend Carol at Reflections from the Fence introduced a weekly theme called Relatively Speaking. If you haven't read her yet, go take a peek. Also included in this theme is cousin/friend Karen at Genealogy Frame of Mind. How we managed to become friends and then discover relationships is just mind-boggling.

Really, one of the great things about the Wild Ones is that we always have a sounding board for ideas like this blog theme; speaking topics; examples for speaking topics and the list goes on and on.

We will email each other and ask - how do you source something? Or if you were going to design a custom fact for your genealogy program how would you word it or what would you call it? The funny thing is you will get similar answers from at least two of the Wild Ones.

And travelling with them! We've taken many genealogical day and overnight trips together and there is nothing like looking up and seeing one of your friends doing a small happy dance in the stacks at the Library of Michigan or in the stacks of the genealogical library at the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne.

Since DH and I moved from Michigan to Tennessee, and because I have constant email contact with these friends/cousins, I have forgotten we no longer live in the same state.

Actively researching your family really does mean contacting living people, whether by email, letter, phone, blog, facebook, a website or through membership in a genealogical or historical society, or as a volunteer at your local Family History Center. It is imperative we keep making these contacts/friends/relatives. Everyone has something to give, share or even receive. Everyone has a unique perspective on family history research. Everyone has a reason why they are researching, whether it is for publication or trying to figure out who in the family carried that awful disease that someone in this generation has.

If I had a hope for research, besides that pesky great-great grandmother thing on my mom's side, it would be for all researchers to find the type of friendship that the Wild Ones have. These women are not only my friends and/or cousins, they are sistahs!  So if you are thinking about joining a society, volunteering, or trying to contact that long lost relative, do it now! Tomorrow could be too late!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Working on a Project - Check back Monday

I've decided I am going to take weekends off from this blog. Hopefully, my weekend will be spent working on one of the numerous projects - like sorting photos.

Check back on Monday for week two of Relatively Speaking - Blogging cousins. It is my turn. If you didn't read friend/cousin Carol's blog - here is the link for the intro to the Relatively Speaking theme.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Does Half a Resolution Count?

Sometimes you can kill two birds with one stone. For example, on Sunday I sat down with hubby and we went through photos I had already scanned and linked to my genealogy program, searching for photos to put on an SD card for the digital photo frame I gave him for Christmas. He thought he was going to have to browse through over 12000 images. Hello? I am much more organized than that! He really enjoyed browsing through the pictures. I can't tell you how glad that makes me because we have two boxes and five bins of photos to go through. Those are just ours. There are also two bins of photos from his parents. I think this unseasonably cold January weather (our normal high is 46 and it is 26) is great for sifting through all those old photos. If I can get those bins out of our storage room that will free up so much space for me to organize that room better. Sounds like one of those win-win situations!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Handy Occupations

If any of my previous jobs prepared me for family research, there were three.

1. Medical records clerk. Taught me to read diagnoses. I actually attended a community college to become a Medical Librarian. It got kind of boring, I ran out of money and found my next job, which was number 2.

2. Medical transcriptionist/pathology secretary. This has probably been one of the most useful occupations in preparing me to read old records. I read doctors' handwriting for a living. I read and transcribed pathology reports and autopsies and had to call doctors' offices with results of laboratory tests. It gave me a boost when looking at old records.

3. Library clerk. This was useful in a different way. I was fortunate to live in a city with a population of 100,000 that operates four libraries and that was a participant in the interlibrary loan system. If I found a branch of the family was mentioned in a book that was available somewhere, I requested an interloan. You didn't have to be a library employee to interloan, but it sure helped when you had a weird request and the branch librarian would manage to get it through the system. (Gee, I miss you TLP.) I know one of my cousins/friends is really grateful for this too!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Consider the Source!

Of all the records available to family researchers, vital records are my favorites. Especially free vital records.One of the reasons, I like them is they can give some great information.

One of the things I highlight when I am entering information into my genealogy program is where the person lived when he died and are there vital records online that I can search. Also, obituaries, where available are such a great resource since they often list other family members, ancestors, occupations, church affiliations and birth, death and burial places.

So I was really pleased when a search of Kentucky death records online at yielded a death certificate in Kentucky for Joseph Chambers. Since the Chambers/Tousey lines was one I was working on, I pulled this record, just checking the year to see if it was feasible. It was. The puzzling thing was the place of death: Cincinnati, Ohio! On a Kentucky death record.  Okay, this is not that unusual, as some states require a death certificate for burial, and you will often find a derivative in the Kentucky records. A check of the Ohio Death Certificates (1908-1953) on the Family Search Record Search Site would hopefully yield the "official" death certificate.

Well, I'd like to say that it proved everything I thought. But alas, it opened a can of worms. While the date of death and burial and the cause of death were all the same, the only other items that were identical were the place of death - Grand Hotel, Cincinnati, Ohio and the cause of death. There were nine years difference in the age, and Ohio had his father's name as Joseph and Kentucky had his father's name as Charles!

When faced with this type of problem, I look to the informant. The Ohio certificate gave Donnelly Bros. as the informant. Donnelly Bros. was the name of the undertaker in Covington, Kentucky.  The Kentucky Death certificate had no informant.

This is where census work comes in. The 1900 census for Cincinnati, Ohio at the Grand Hotel, clearly shows Joseph Chambers, birth date Mar 1834, born in Kentucky, parents born in Kentucky.  The 1880 census shows him enumerated with his wife, Elvira and son Vactor, along with his mother-in-law Elvira Gaines and he is 46 years old - birth year 1834 in Kentucky. I found him only becauses his wife was indexed with him. He was indexed as Jas. instead of Jos.The 1870 and 1860 census are still consistent with that 1834 birth date and children. The 1860 census shows him with his wife and his household is enumerated after that of one Charles Chambers age 58 and Joseph is still born circa 1834. Finally a check of the 1850 census has him enumerated  with his father and brother and birth year is still circa 1834.

I don't need any more proof to conclude that the death certificates are for the same person, but am glad that I found two conflicting death certificates. It is a prime example that even "official records" can be wrong. I will admit that if I had found the Ohio record first, I would have dismissed it. But having seen the Kentucky one, I now see the errors on the Ohio record. And I found this because I have obsessive-compulsive family research disorder!

* Clicking on the images will display a full scale photo.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The 2010 Census

I can't believe ten years have passed since I filled out the 2000 census. And forgot to mail it back, so a census taker hunted us down!

Are you planning on filling out the 2010 census? I know you're supposed too, but, it is obvious that they really can't count every one.

Since the last census, hubby and I have moved from Michigan to Tennessee. On the 2000 census, I put my maiden name in for my middle name. I will do the same for the 2010 census because I want my descendants (if our progeny ever procreates) to find me. Will they be surprised to find us here?

It makes me wonder exactly who and what filled out my Zimmeth grandparents census. My grandfather could sign his name, but was a natural left-hander whose father forced him to write right-handed. My grandmother was ill with tuberculosis and died the following year. Even though she is listed as living with them, I wouldn't bet on it. Most of the time, my mother, aunt and uncle lived with relatives. Somehow they were written as Zimeth and grandma appears to be Louyetta instead of Luetta.

Will my descendants in 2082 find our last name has been butchered so much that we are impossible to find? I hope not!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Setting Your Genealogy Goals

The hangover is gone. The football games are over - most of them anyway. Your Christmas decorations are packed up and stowed away. You are only four days into the new year and you are wondering "What do I do now?"

If you are like me, you are not done tracing that family tree. Or as a friend and co-volunteer at the LDS where I volunteered for over ten years always said: "I can trace my family back to Adam and Eve, I just haven't done the work yet."

Here are a few ideas for setting some goals for this year:

1. Are you planning on publishing a family book? Start reviewing now what you have and what you need to make it more complete. You can start by printing a draft. This assumes you are using one of the many terrific programs that will develop a narrative report for you. If your narrative seems too stale, look at what you can add or subtract that will punch it up a bit. Or maybe this is the year you set aside to update your already published book with all the great information people have shared with you. Be sure to get permissions from any living relatives if you plan on including them.

2. If you need more information to fill in that whole side of the family for great Uncle Homer, maybe you need to check the census for location and birth/marriage information. Finding the location might yield a great paragraph or two from a local history. Does your local/county/state/regional library hold any of these histories? Are they online at Ancestry or Heritage Quest? Maybe a trip to Salt Lake City, the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne, one of the branches of the national archives is in order. I know I use the online catalog at the Allen County Public Library a lot for focusing my searches. Not everything is online and published indices and books with birth-marriage-death-cemetery transcriptions sometimes plug those holes up!

3. You know that your family is buried in a cemetery in a certain town. Have you tried googling it? A lot of cemeteries are putting their records online. Or maybe some kind soul has posted that material online on Find-A-Grave or Check these sites. If feasible, plan a cemetery trip and get the information yourself. Over the past few years, I've been photographing graves of family - direct and collateral lines - at the Lexington Cemetery in Lexington, Kentucky. While visiting in Michigan last summer, my husband and I made an unplanned trip to a cemetery in Detroit on a hunch which paid off.

4. Ok, you have those cemetery photos, how about sharing them online at Find-A-Grave! It is an easy process to add information to an existing cemetery database there.

5. Unless your ancestors were 100% American Indian, they were immigrants. Do you have their naturalization papers if they became citizens? Do you have the passenger list they appeared on? Sometimes you just will not find this because the name is so butchered by the indexers or the manifest is just this side of unreadable. I have yet to find my Zimmeth ancestors by any name appearing on any ship manifest between 1837 and 1839. But I do have my immigrant ancestor's 1844 naturalization.

6. If you had ancestors who were early New England settlers, particularly in Massachusetts, there are many great books published for New England towns. My favorite collection is "Vital Records of Sandwich, Massachusetts to 1885." It's a three volume set that I bought in 1998 because that is where my Percival line started. It was expensive, but so worthwhile. There has not been a week gone by this year that I have not marked a page or followed a line through. With the LDS adding Massachusetts deaths and marriages to their pilot Family Search Record site, I've been able to validate many of the collateral lines who lived in Sandwich. And for those of you are researching on Cape Cod, don't forget the Cape Cod Gravestones site. This site has records of stones from 1683-1880 from the 15 towns that comprise Cape Cod.

7. Speaking of travelling, it is always nice to travel to where your family lived and died. I was able to squeeze two trips to Cape Cod out of my husband. It is such a beautiful place. We also discovered how much we really liked Boston, minus the driving and parking. So try and plan a trip to the ancestral home.

8. Actively look for living descendants.  The year I started working on my husband's lines, which are 100% Polish, I talked to his parents and got as much information from them about their aunts, uncles and other siblings. My f-i-l told me about his Aunt Sophie and her husband Fred and their two sons, Carl and David. This was before we had internet access and I owned one of those every name phonebooks on disk. I found some people with the same last name and wrote to them. One I never heard from, one wrote back and said he was not from that family and the third wrote back saying yes, he was Sophie & Fred's son and did I know who the people were in the pictures he was enclosing. The pictures were of my f-i-l, his parents and siblings circa the late 1930's. I can't even describe the feeling that gave me. Since then we have become quite close with this cousin and have enjoyed many visits with each other.

9. Attempt some organization with your records or just your physical space. Despite the space constraints in my office, I've managed to store just about everything I need. It still needs some tweaking because my horizontal spaces seem to collect paper, photos, note pads and other miscellaneous stuff.

10. Believe it or not, there are people out there who do not own genealogy programs. They keep everything in binders. I started off that way, but found there just was not enough binder space to be had for what I owned. This year, one of my goals is to make sure all the birth, marriage, death and other vital records that I have are all neatly stowed in binders in sheet protectors. Specifically all the records that cost me money to procure, like those expensive vital records from Michigan, and any vital that pertains to a direct line ancestor for hubby or me.

I hope I have given you some ideas to direct your research in 2010. Good luck


PS - Don't forget to check out  Relatively Speaking theme at cousin/friend Carol's blog at Reflections from the Fence. This will be a joint blog, hopefully every Monday. Check out my sidebar.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Relatively Speaking

I'm taking the weekend off from posting, but wanted to give you all a heads up on a new blog theme with my friends & cousins, Carol and Karen called Relatively Speaking. We hope this will be a once weekly blog inspired by the many discussions we generate! The first one will be Monday, January 4th and you will find it here.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Genealogy Nightmare!

My husband and Older Daughter are having a little chuckle at mom's expense. It seems they just showed that credit card commercial where father and son travel to Norway to experience their roots only to discover upon their visit to the hall of records that they were Swedish.

Older Daughter always thinks of me when she sees that commercial. Why? HELLO! I WOULD NEVER MAKE THAT KIND OF MISTAKE! What idiot ad writer wrote that? Why would they think it is funny to spend thousands of dollars and travel to the wrong country?

I've spent the last twenty-three years checking facts, double-checking facts, and I will admit there was one person who led me down the wrong path. You see, I went looking for some church records and when I called the church in this small Ohio town, they said someone else had their records and was busy indexing them. I called this person, and was asked a few questions and this person said they would get back to me.

A couple weeks later I received a nice packet in the mail, outlining my family with the statement that your "Anton Meyer" was the son of so and so. They were from this town in Germany. And so on. Fine. I ordered the church records via a Family History Center. Great, I was able to get a couple more generations back. I was happy with this and shared the information with the cousin who shared the original information with me. We were both happy campers.

About four or five months after the initial contact, I received a note from her and a pile of copies, and oh, incidentally, I gave you the wrong parents on Anton. She then proceeded to give me the correct information and all the siblings I had known about. I wasted all those months of research, and cash for films and copies, and time for entering the wrong information in my database. I think I finally decided it was about six months wasted. And now I had to reorder those films and make more copies.  This was at a time in my life when research dollars were limited.

The up side of this is that I was able to get the correct information and take the family back about two more generations. Since this was my first foray into German records, I felt really pleased with the results of my search.

Since then, unless I personally know the researcher, the thought of asking someone else or paying someone else for information is abhorrent to me. I'd rather find it myself. And I found that I really enjoy the hunt!

So for someone - even in a commercial - to go to the wrong country looking for their ancestry is just a nightmare!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Family History Resolutions

Are you having a hard time figuring out what you want to accomplish in 2010? I have so many ongoing projects, many of which are hugely time-consuming, that I sometimes have trouble setting goals. The ideas are there, it is the follow-through. I won't even attempt to blame husband for distracting me.

1. Photos. We moved bins full of photographs with us from Michigan. I've managed to have both daughters paw through them and pull out what they want. If there was anything they had that I wanted a copy of I scanned it. Wow, the blessing of scanners, eh? So my goal is for husband and I to go through all the photos we have and pull out what we want to keep. And put them in albums. The rest will be discarded. I've decided that while the concept of double prints was a good thing at the time, allowing us to share with family those precious moments of our lives, it has just added to the problem of what to do with all those photos. This doesn't even include father-in-law's photos we brought with us. We can hardly discard them, and most of them are in some type of album.

2. To-Do files. I want to continue to work on those items I set aside to work on at a future date. I'd really like to be more organized and more consistent with this.

3. I'd like to get back into a genealogical society. Sadly, the local society here in mid-Tennessee is not all that I would like it to be. Maybe I should resolve to start attending meetings again.

4. I think I'd also like to get back into Genealogical speaker mode again. I haven't spoken to a group in years because of my work schedule when I worked at the library. Since my schedule involved some nights and weekends, it virtually put an end to my speaking career.

5. Convince hubby to make another trip to Lexington, Kentucky Cemetery so I may photograph more of my families graves. Start working up other cemeteries to photograph.

6. Keep up this blog. I'm not sure I'll keep up the weekend, but hope to have plenty of material for Monday-Friday.

Since resolution #1 is a biggie, I think I'll quit with six. What are your resolutions?