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Friday, December 31, 2010

Genealogy New Year's Resolutions for 2011

Devote the year to my paternal grandfather's ancestors. While searching for thirty direct line ancestors is still a major undertaking, it has to be more productive than looking for everybody.

Request receive records from churches, courthouses, and other
repositories. Over the years I lost track of many unanswered record requests. This year I will follow through until the documents I need are in my hands.

Take four cemetery road trips, connecting with living relatives along the way. Most of my ancestors settled out of state, but conveniently close to children, grandchildren and cousins. This year I hope to find a better balance between time with the living and time with the dead.

Write Grandma stories and share them. So much oral history dies with the narrators. I want to write down the stories my children are tired of hearing now, but may wish they remembered in later years.

Attend monthly meetings at the local genealogy society. They may not be able to help me geographically, but connecting with other researchers is a must for a sometimes solitary hobby.

Go to a genealogical conference this year and choose one for next year. I want to travel, learn new research methods, meet interesting people.

Combine scrapbooking and genealogy. Scan and digitize old photos. Preserve hard copies of pictures. Archive online photos off-site. Organize, label and safely store slides and negatives. Share pictures with relatives. Create heirloom photo albums.

Back up computer files off-site and to external hard drive regularly. For someone who experienced a computer crash, I've gotten awfully relaxed about backing up all my hard work.

Continue adding to Find A Grave until my contributions average one a day. Fill photo requests during my cemetery road trips. 

Talk, write, share. Tweet 200 times. Blog 100 times. Update my family history website 50 times. Do this for my grandkids and for their grandkids.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Standard Operating Procedure

The files stored between my ears are sometimes less than accessible. Whether you call them senior moments or information overload, they have the potential to thwart my efforts at organized research. Hence my SOP:

Active surnames have a hanging file with the surname on the label in all CAPS. Active direct line surnames also have yellow file folders labeled as follows:
  • Census Records/City Directories
  • Charts and Trees
  • Correspondence
  • Multiple Births, Marriages, Deaths
  • Photographs
  • Requires Further Action
Documents in the Census Records/City Directories folder are placed with census in the front and city directories in back. Each group is arranged in reverse chronological order; i.e. most current in front.

Use the same system in the Charts and Trees folder; charts in front, trees in back. Arrange each group in reverse chronological order.

File Correspondence in reverse chronological order.

The Multiple Births, Marriages, Deaths folder consists of four groups; births, marriages, deaths, and misc. Each group is in reverse chronological order.

Label and scan pictures to appropriate computer files, FTM, and Store originals in archival-quality containers. Arrange copies by ancestors' given names and store in Photographs.

Arrange the items in the Requires Further Action folder in order of priority. Highest priority items are in the front, lower priority items behind.

Type file folder labels in 14pt Arial font. Surnames are in CAPS on the top line, then space, hyphen, space, and year of birth. Given names are in upper and lower case on the second line. Highlight given names in yellow on direct line ancestors’ file folder labels.

Each direct line ancestor has a manila file folder containing a current Family Group Sheet and documents that are exclusive to him/her. These documents are arranged in reverse chronological order. Working copies of active family group sheets are in my genealogy brief case, filed under the appropriate surname.

Collateral ancestors have a kinship report in the front of their folder listing immediate family members.

File a copy of each marriage record in both spouses’ folders.

Documentation for children is filed in their father’s folder (in birth order) unless a.) the quantity is such that a separate folder is necessary for the child or b.) the father is unknown. In the latter case, file documentation in the mother’s folder.

For each direct line ancestor; locate, secure documentation, and cite sources for at least the:
  • date and place of birth
  • date and place of baptism and/or confirmation
  • date and place of marriage and/or divorce
  • date and method of immigration (when applicable); naturalization records
  • residences (census records, city directories, tax records)
  • land ownership, mortgages, deeds
  • cause, date and place of death
  • wills when available
  • date and place of burial and photo of headstone when possible
Create a timeline for each family group; include political leaders and world events during the ancestor’s lifetime.

Create maps with residences and their proximity to local churches, schools etc.

Log this info in the facts section of Family Tree Maker. Cite sources and add any additional information to the Notes section.

Update the public tree on Ancestry. Update the LITPL web site. Update Find A Grave. Post new info on Twitter and Facebook.

Keep my fingers crossed that someone researching the same line finds me.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

The Serious Nature of Genealogy

Genealogist caught chopping down family tree; microfilm at 11:00!

My family tree research twists and turns like a windsock in a strong breeze. I've studied the history and geography of the places in which my ancestors lived. I've become familiar with the records available in a variety of locations. I've looked for them online, in maps, in books and newspapers, on microfilm.

Every family tree has some sap in it.

The search is still exciting, even after ~ hmm hmm ~ 30 years. When I started, I told myself that if I reach a point that this is no longer fun, I'll stop. The research continues to keep me interested, but some of the researchers I've met have me shaking my head.

Ancestors run in my family.

Why do genealogists take themselves so seriously? We are an odd bunch, really. What other hobby includes searching through dusty courthouse basements, squinting at faded handwriting, attempting to decipher ancient Latin script, and wandering through abandoned cemeteries?

Adam and Eve probably found genealogy boring.

In good times there is a comaraderie among fellow researchers. We willingly share our knowledge, our frustrations, our triumphs - we all belong to the same club. Lately however, I have encountered a different group: mean genealogists.

Genealogy is relatively interesting.

Some of the family members that reside in the living branches of our trees can be a bit challenging. I understand and empathize. Truly I do. But we don't "own" our family history. I think it's wrong to hold the family tree hostage from people who share our DNA.

Genealogists do it generation after generation.

I recently listened in horror as a woman proudly announced her refusal to tell her inquiring family about any of the information she gathered. She felt that they weren't willing to do the work and therefore they should reap no rewards.

Old genealogists never die, they just lose their census.

Perhaps in 2011 we can be kinder, gentler genealogists. Remember we need to recruit new club members and they will need time to learn the secret handshake.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Surname Saturday - Gury

My third great-grandmother was Marie Anne Gury, born April 1818 in Francaltroff, Moselle, France. After marrying Nicolas Schmitt, Marie moved to Hellimer and had 10 children before immigrating to the United States in the early to mid 1850s. The family settled in Cincinnati.
Another Gury descendant shared a photograph of a woman who may have been Marie's sister Christina. There are women named Christina in nearly every generation of the Gury family, so the possibility of a connection is strong. The Christina in question was the Mother Superior in a convent in France. This makes me cautiously optimistic; there may be some interesting records available.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday ~ Elmer Eugene Clarke

Elmer Eugene Clarke was my 2nd great-grandfather's younger brother.

He was born in Funkstown, Washington County, Maryland December 3rd, 1865.

Elmer and two (or more) of his brothers relocated to Chicago where he met and married Susan Berg. Together they had 10 children; Lyman, Clifford, Zora, Elmer Jr., Stella, Edna, Alice, Eloise, Irma, and Dorothy.

From the November 19, 1952 edition of the Chicago Daily News, page 55; CLARKE - Elmer E, Clarke Sr., Nov. 18, dear husband of Susan, fond father of Zora Blake, Stella Rudolph, Edna Hanson, Alice Jenkinson, Eloise York, Irma Froberg, Dorothy Thompson, Clifford M., Elmer E. Jr., and the late Lyman John Clarke. Services Friday Nov. 21, 2 p.m., at funeral home 301 S. 5th-av., at Maple-st., Maywood. Interment Arlington Cemetery. FIlmore 4-0100.

A special thank you to Grandson #3 for locating the headstone above after we walked and re-walked all the likely rows in Section 11 at Arlington Cemetery. And for his cheerful willingness to help Grandma fill Find A Grave requests while we were there.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Scraps of Family History

A pile of books about family history scrapbooking waits patiently on my desk. I've become obsessed with creating a written and photographic record for my descendants.

What a celebration there would be if I discovered a diary written by my great-great grandmother! Or a photo album compiled by a long lost great-aunt. Heck, I'd be happy to see brief notes my ancestors had written to one another, wouldn't you?

The books I'm reading encourage me to start by preserving one story, one event, or one photo and the tale it tells. How excited I would be if any one of my ancestors had done this for me!

Some stories are in the here and now; the first big snow of 2010 with pictures taken while running from falling tree branches. Others are in the past; tales of a much beloved pet who now resides in cat heaven. The one I'll share today spans the past, the present and possibly the future.

When I was a kid we had a 20 foot flagpole in our front yard. My dad was uncompromising about the care of the flag that flew from sun up to sundown everyday. In the morning, one of my sisters or I would hold one end of the flag while Daddy hooked it to the cord and raised it by a pulley. In the evenings we would lower the flag and fold it width-wise twice. Then starting at the striped end, we made a triangle fold 13 times, one for each colony.

My parents divorced and my mother had the flagpole removed. Folding the flag was relegated to Girl Scouts and parades, until last month when my dad was laid to rest at Fort Snelling National Cemetery.

Uniformed volunteers folded the flag that had been draped over Daddy's casket. With a 'thank you' for the service my father gave his country, they placed the flag in my stepmother's hands. Pastor said a few more words and the crowd started to thin. In a moment of immeasurable generosity, my stepmom turned to me and said, "You should have this." Then she handed me the flag. And returned the memory of my dad holding his end as we moved closer to each other with every fold.

Today the framed flag resides next to a photo of more than a hundred uniformed men, one of whom is my husband's late father. The stories of our veteran dads have merged and will be told to our grandchildren as one. The future will tell which of them will take ownership of the treasures and the stories. Perhaps the first to erect a flagpole in their front yard.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Silver Linings

Despite my advancing years, my father was always Daddy to me. My evening commute was often spent visiting with him on my cell phone. Every conversation included hearty laughter on both sides of the line. I miss that the most.

The compassion shared by others has been overwhelming. There aren't words enough to thank everyone who reached out with comforting thoughts and more. Your kind words and deeds helped in many ways.

A dear friend of mine refers to this type of experience as an AFGO; "another flippin' growth opportunity". In that spirit, here's what I've learned:

Every family needs an active genealogist. All eyes turned to me when the funeral director asked about names, places and dates. I wrote Daddy's obituary for the living as well as for his great-great-great grandchildren.

Every genealogist must interview his or her own family members. The tapes on which my dad talked about his life are among my most precious possessions.

Every grief-stricken child needs a clear-thinking genealogist to lean on. My husband is my hero. He was the genealogist I couldn't be in those first few action-packed days; locating another source for Army discharge papers, assembling groups of relatives for photographs, gathering printed materials for Daddy's genealogy file, and so much more.

Every picture tells a story. I looked through hundreds of photographs while preparing a memory board for my dad's church service. And I realized how quickly our stories can be lost if they aren't written down for the next generation.

So as part of my healing process, this genealogist is also becoming a scrapbooker. I attended my first workshop last night. The scrapbook I'm creating is filled with mementos and pictures of a handsome young man named Bill.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

To Daddy, with love

William Edwin Mueller
October 25, 1931 ~ October 18, 2010

One week prior to his 79th birthday, William E. Mueller, Barron, Wisc., died at his home with his beloved wife Harriet May (Anderson) at his side. The couple was married for 38 years and lived in Barron for the last 10 years.

William was born in Chicago October 25, 1931 to Frances Lois (Mangels) and Harold Clarke Mueller. At 17, he joined the U.S. Army and served as an infantry unit auto mechanic. His most significant assignment was at Battery D 71st AAA Gun Battalion at Fort Belvoir, Virginia.

William's love of cars became his career, working first at auto dealerships and then owning several auto body shops in Chicago.

Surviving are daughters Laura Aanenson (Gregory), Lizabeth Chocian (Scott), Lana Gruber (James), LouAnn Mueller, and Victoria Bray (Terrence); 15 grandchildren; 10 great-grandchildren; many nieces and nephews; sisters Janice Stetz and Karen Brenke; and brothers Ernie Mueller (Kylene), Alexander (Barbara) and Robert E. Brenke Jr.

William was preceded in death by his parents Robert and Frances Brenke, sister Lois Cuevas, and daughter Patricia Mueller.

Services will be held at 11 a.m. Monday, Oct. 25, from Salem Lutheran Church, Barron. William will be laid to rest at Fort Snelling National Cemetery, Minneapolis.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

12 Step Program for Genealogists

Child #2 tells me I am a genealogy addict. I counter with my attendance of meetings, ostensibly looking for a cure. Child patiently explains the concept of 12 step programs; they are supposed to help one kick a habit, not provide another fix.

After some thought, I developed my own 12 Step Program. Rather than looking for a "cure", it focuses on encouraging my family to help me find just one more ancestor.

Step 1: When dinner conversation turns to county boundary changes (after nonchalantly steering the family in this direction), share no more than two stories of ancestors impacted by the change.

Step 2: If asked who the new baby looks like, answer using only the names of same-gender ancestors. Share photos when your opinion is met with rolling eyes.

Step 3: Offer to help with grandchildren's homework, especially history and geography. Casually include information about ancestors who lived in these times and places. Stop talking when you hear your children's footsteps.

Step 4: Discreetly include photos of ancestors in baby books, holiday photo albums etc. Act surprised when your children point out the impossibilty of a Revolutionary soldier at last Thanksgiving's dinner.

Step 5: Carry important papers everywhere. One never knows when a 1910 census will come in handy during a lull in the conversation.

Step 6: Make copies of family group sheets and "forget" one every time you visit.

Step 7: Plan vacations that coincidentally (how was I to know?) include the final resting places of ancestors.

Step 8: Help with the purchase of new school clothes for the grandkids. Authentic period costumes can be found on many web sites.

Step 9: Ask everyone, everywhere, about their ethnic origin. When in the company of children and grandchildren, prompt them to share theirs with store clerks, softball coaches, postal employees, directory assistance operators...

Step 10: While at the corner market, point out the simplicity of purchasing food in "these modern times". Tell stories of ancestors carrying shotguns into a nearby forest to shop for the evening meal.

Step 11: Offer to drive the grandkids home from school. Take a different route each time so those cemetery visits don't seem redundant.

Step 12: Take steps to create lifelong addicts genealogists in the next few generations. Openly share your love of family history with the family who is creating their own history today.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

So Many Ancestors, So Little Time

My new job allows less time for my genealogy project. This means until I win the lottery, I will have to research in stolen moments here and there.

To make the most of these abbreviated time allotments, organization will be key. Obviously the three file boxes filled with notes can't be conquered simultaneously. And the cluster genealogy approach, often leading me down interesting but non-productive paths, must be streamlined.

Where to begin? I chose my grandparents and printed pedigree charts for each. Such a surprise to see the lack of information in some those spaces! While some lines trace back centuries, others end within decades. How can this be? I've been working on this tree for, gasp, nearly 25 years!

And so a plan is born. To record what I know and how I know it. To follow direct line ancestor's back as far as I am able. To use siblings and cousins as aids in the search, not as focuses, well...until later anyway. And to share the organized (and oh-so-interesting) facts about my family on my web site.

Wish me luck!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

An Extraordinary Extra Minute

Hartford Michigan
One more minute I told myself, and then I really must go to bed. I was wandering around FamilySearch and had already entered several surnames from my tree looking for something new.

Michigan Deaths and Burials, 1800-1995, had been updated in May. I typed Clarke in the Last Name field. 3585 entries. I narrowed the search by choosing Maryland in the Place tab. And there he was. My grandfather's grandfather; Wm. P. Clarke.

William Penrod and his wife Mary Ella appeared in the 1930 census in Hartford Michigan. They posed for a picture with their grandsons in the early 1940's, after which the trail grew cold. And stayed that way for years.

Until late one night when William's name filled my computer screen in an index that included his full date of birth, a date and place of death, and news that Mary had predeceased him.

Who needs sleep? I quickly located a web site for the Van Buren (Michigan) Regional Genealogical Society where they've created an index of death records from 1935-1945. Just the years I needed! For a mere $3 each, I ordered uncertified copies of the two death records that had eluded me for years.

I'll have to allow myself 'one more minute' more often.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Surname Saturday ~ Peterson, Thompson, Tolf

Four generations of women posed for this picture on a hot summer day in 1934. 

My mother is the toddler in front. Her mother, Harriet Kathlyn Tolf is on the left in back. My grandmother was born in Chicago in 1909.

Harriet's mother Julia Christine Thompson (back row right) was also born in Chicago. At age 19, Julia married Harry Wilhelm Tolf in St. Joseph Michigan. They had three children before they divorced.

Julia's mother (seated) was Maria Frederika Peterson. Maria immigrated from Tånnö Sweden at age 16. When she reached America in August of 1880, she became known as Mary. She married a Norwegian immigrant named Peter Thompson in Chicago in January 1883. Shortly before this picture was taken, Peter went to Norway to help his father. The family story is that he was delayed at Ellis Island on the return trip and died there of pneumonia.

The photo was taken in my grandmother's mother-in-law's (Mrs. Flood) yard.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Surname Saturday ~ Grosse, Gury, Schmitt

Fashionable women ~ 1850
I'm enamored with my paternal French line; learning to speak French while driving, reading French history books, translating birth records during my lunch hour, ordering films from the Family History Library every Tuesday evening. Some might say I've become addicted, but that's not true. I've been addicted all along.

New clues show themselves frequently, but most often they come accompanied by more questions. 

The knowns:
  • My 3rd great-grandfather, Nicolas Schmitt, was born in 1813 in Hellimer, Moselle, Lorraine, France.
  • His parents were Francois Schmitt and Elisabeth Grosse.
  • His wife was Marie-Anne Gury, born in 1818 in Francaltroff, Hellimer, Lorraine, France.
  • Nicolas had at least two siblings, younger sisters Elisabeth and Barbe.
  • He traveled to America with his eldest son Jules in April 1854.
  • Nicolas and his family settled in Cincinnati Ohio.
  • Several children, including my 2nd great-grandmother emmigrated to Chicago where they raised their children.
The unknowns:

  • When did the remaining family members arrive in America?
  • What happened to Francois, the last child born in France?
  • What happened to Joseph, the first child born in Ohio?
  • Did Jules really die in Ohio, or did he relocate to Chicago leaving his wife and children behind?
  • Was Nicolas the first, one of several, or the only Schmitt that left France?
  • Where is the elusive marriage record of Nicolas and Marie-Anne?
  • and so many more unknowns; far too many to list.
The next steps:
  • Order microfilm for 1792-1810 birth, marriage, death records for Hellimer.
  • Continue checking the mailbox for the will that will tell if the French-born Ohio-residing Emile Schmitt who married Mary Kauffman is "my" Emile.
  • Translate Barbe's birth record; it includes her parents' ages.
  • Search passenger lists for my 2nd great-grandmother and her siblings.
  • Determine whether the brother mentioned as co-owner of John Schmitt's restaurant in Chicago is Jules.
And so, as we French say, la recherche se poursuit!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Thursday's Tithe ~ Boston Massachusetts

Boston Evening Transcript
~ May 20, 1907 ~

Police Lieutenant John B. Rosatto

Lieutenant John B. Rosatto, the man who demoralized La Mafia in Boston, died Saturday at his summer home in Billerica. While traveling through Italy with Chief Watts, the lieutenant was marked by La Mafia for death because of his uprooting of the branch of the society in Boston, and before he and Chief Watts got through with them two were under arrest in Rome.

Born in Boston, Jan. 15, 1858, of Italian parents, John B. Rosatto grew to be a thorough American citizen. He was educated in the schools of the North End and was an apt student. On Aug. 12, 1887, he was appointed a reserve officer, and on June 9, 1888, he was made a permenent patrolman. His devotion to his work was so complete and his success so marked that his rise was rapid, for on Aug. 10, 1893, he was made a sergeant, and on Oct. 23, 1894, he was made a lieutenant. He always served the department at the North End station, where his services were so valuable because of the growth of the Italian colony.

This obituary was located during one of my RAOGK volunteer lookup days. More information about the newspapers I search is on my family history web site. A memorial has been created for John B. Rosatto and can be found on Find A Grave. I hope you'll take a moment to leave flowers for him there.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Thursday's Tithe ~ Chicago Daily News

Some of the newspapers our ancestors' read announced deaths in a more abbreviated fashion than we see today. These obituaries, however brief, often contain clues for family history research. The following notices appeared (exactly as typed here) in the Chicago Daily News May 13, 1886;

"ANDREWS-At 1010 Harrison-st, May 10, NELLIE W. ANDREWS, aged 31 years.

HUGHES-At the residence of his parents, 444 W. Adams-st., May 12, 8 p.m., BEN O., dearly beloved son of William T. and Annie E. Hughes. Notice of funeral hereafter.

HOGLUND-At her residence, 64 Cornell-st., Tuesday, May 11, TOBENA C., beloved wife of John H. Hoglund, nee Nelson. Funeral from late residence Friday, 1:30 p.m., by carriages to Rose Hill.

HETLAND-At 587 N. Robey-st., May 10, JOSEPHINA HETLAND, aged 18 years and 7 months.

KELTZ-May 11, JAMES KELTZ, aged 24 years and 8 months.

KELLIGHER-At 80 N. Superior-st., May 11, DENNIS KILLIGHER, aged 32 years and 4 months.

KINDELIN-At his residence, 749 W. 23d-st., May 12, 1886, PETER KINDELIN, aged 62 years 3 months and 10 days. Notice of funeral hereafter.

KNAPP-At 2954 Arch-st., May 9, FREDERICK KNAPP, aged 45 years.

LINDEMANN-May 11, 8:35 p.m., HENRY FREDERICK, son of Henry and Doretha Lindemann. Funeral Friday, 11 o'clock a.m. sharp, from residence of parents, corner of Elm-st. and Sedgwick court, from there to C., R. I. & R. R. R. Depot, thence at 12:15 to Blue Island Cemetery.

M'LAUGHLIN-At 6 Grand-av., May 11, BERNARD M'LAUGHLIN, aged 21 years.

MUSSER-At Alexian Brothers' Hospital, May 10, NICLAUS MUSSER, aged 38 years.

NEUROTH-At 2821 Dashel-st., May 11, ELIZABETH NEUROTH, aged 37 years and 11 months.

O'LAUGHLIN-May 11, ANDREW O'LAUGHLIN. Funeral from his late residence, 662 W. 20th-st., Thursday, May 13, at 9:30 a.m., to St. Pius's Church, thence to Calvary by Milwaukee & St. Paul cars.

OLDERSHAW-At his residence in Riverside, Ill., on the 12th inst., PERCIVAL P. OLDERSHAW, in the 57th year of his age. Notice of funeral hereafter.

REES-In this city, May 12, CLARISSA J. RICE, beloved wife of Joseph H. Rees, aged 28 years. Funeral from 542 Austin-av., at 3:30 p.m. to-day (Thursday). Interment at St. Lawrence, N.Y.

RICKIE-At 128 25th-st., May 11, ETHEL RICKIE, aged 7 years.

RICHTER-At 572 Larrabee-st., May 10, ETHEL RICHTER, aged 25 years and 7 months.

SHEHAN-AGNES, daughter of Michael and the late Mary Ann Lucy Shehan. Funeral notice hereafter. Gone to meet her mother.

THOMAS-At 2522 S. Dearborn-st., May 10, ROBERT THOMAS, aged 38 years.

SILK-ELIZABETH SILK, aged 51 years and 9 months. Funeral Friday, May 14, at 10 o'clock, from her late residence, 2605 Cologne-st., by carriages to Waldheim.

TOBEY-At Southern Hotel, May 9, MARION E. TOBEY, aged 70 years.

WOOD-At 569 W. Adams-st., May 10, SOPHIA B. WOOD, aged 74 years and 4 months."

These obituaries were located during one of my RAOGK volunteer lookup days. More information about the newspapers I search is on my family history web site.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday ~ Hester Ann (Leffel) Clarke

Hester was born 30 Nov 1863 in Springfield, Clark County, Ohio to Reuben W. and Rachel J. (McClelland) Leffel.

She married Norman A. Clarke 23 Nov 1887 in her hometown of Springfield. The couple moved to Dayton where Norman worked as a foreman, first in a manufactoring shop, then in a sewing machine factory. Hester cared for their home.

Hester did not have any children. She died at the age of 48.

From the Monday April 1, 1912 issue of The Springfield (Ohio) Daily News page 9, "CLARK - The body of Mrs. N. Clark, who died in Dayton, and who was a sister of Mrs. C. L. Reese, will arrive here at 8:17 o'clock Monday night over the Big Four and will be taken to the residence of Mr. Reese, 1840 South Limestone street. The funeral will be held Wednesday at 2 p.m. from the Reese home and burial will be at Fernclliff cemetery."

This headstone photo was a gift from a fellow contributor at Find A Grave. It took two trips to the cemetery to locate the marker because it was covered with snow. The volunteer said because the headstone is lime, the letters and numbers are already wearing away.

I very much appreciate the photograph and knowing where Hester was laid to rest. But I can't help thinking this is such a dismal looking memorial to a woman's life.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Thursday's Tithe ~ Baltimore Maryland

Baltimore Sun

~ May 6, 1905 ~

W. Irving Lindsay

The funeral of Mr. W. Irving Lindsay, who died last Tuesday evening, took place from his late home, 1706 McCulloh street, yesterday morning.

Rev. Duane Wevill, of the Reformed Episopal Church of the Redeemer, officiated. The interment was in Loudon Park Cemetery. The funeral was attended by representatives from Baltimore Tent, No. 1, Knights of the Maccabees, and Arundel Council, No. 155, Junior Order United American Mechanics.

The pallbearers were Messrs. William A. Tottle, James W. Ramsay, James W. Hilbert, Emmanuel Holtz, John A. Lidie and H. A. Doughty. George W. Little had charge of the arrangements.

This obituary was located during one of my RAOGK volunteer lookup days. More information about the newspapers I search is on my family history web site. A memorial has been created for Mr. Lindsay and can be found on Find A Grave. I hope you'll take a moment to leave flowers for him there.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday ~ Mary F Thompson

Mary F. Thompson was born Maria Fredrika Petersdotter November 22, 1864 in Tånnö, Jonkopings, Sweden.

At sixteen, Mary traveled alone to America. According to family stories, she worked as a domestic on Nob Hill in San Francisco for a time. Somehow Mary ended up in Chicago where she married Norwegian-born Peter Thompson in January of 1883.

Mary and and her husband had two sons and two daughters. At the height of the Great Depression, Peter traveled to Norway to help during a family emergency. He contracted pnemonia on the return trip and died before reaching Chicago.

After losing her husband, Mary was swindled out of money she deposited on an apartment building. She moved to Wisconsin and farmed with her son for a few years until he had an accident that prevented him from farming successfully. Mary returned to Illinois and lived her last years with a grandson and his wife in suburban Chicago.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Thursday's Tithe ~ Los Angeles California

Los Angeles Examiner

~ April 29, 1958 ~

Capt. Leo Gus Wallace

Death of one of the last of America's old windjammer skippers today called attention to a seafaring tradition fast fading into memory.

Leo Gus Wallace, 90, died yesterday at the California Rest Home here after a year's illness, during which he entertained fellow patients with sagas of the sea from the Horn to the Artic Circle.

In retirement from storm-tossed bridges and quarterdecks for 20 years, Capt. Wallace lived at 2231 Locust avenue. Until 1953, he operated a landlubber business as a refrigerating engineer.

Of Scot ancestry, Capt. Wallace was born in Olympia, Wash., after his father, David, brought a fullrigged ship into the Puget Sound at the end of a voyage around the horn and decided to settle in the Northwest.

Capt. Wallace leaves his wife, Ada May, three grandchildren and three great-grandchildren in addition to his son Tom.

Funeral services will be held at 10 a.m. Wednesday in Sheelar-McFadyen Mortuary. Interment will be in San Gabriel Cemetery.

This obituary was located during one of my RAOGK volunteer lookup days. More information about the newspapers I search is on my family history web site. A memorial has been created for Capt. Wallace and can be found on Find A Grave. I hope you'll take a moment to leave flowers for him there.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

A Sense from Belonging

My family tree contains more leaders than followers. The trend has been to do, rather than wait for direction. Some of us have learned to sit on our hands when the call for volunteers is heard, lest we become overwhelmed by our desire to help in everything.

This "selective joining" brings a stronger commitment to the groups in which we take part. And taking part in group activities and organizations creates a picturesque record of one's life.

One of my ancestors joined a lodge that set aside a portion of membership dues for life insurance. Good decision; he died shortly afterward and his widow was able to meet her financial obligations. Others have become members of unions, or clubs related to their occupations. The roles they played in those organizations helps me get a sense of the people they were.

Women frequently joined charitable groups and helped meet society's needs. Their accomplishments were often featured in the local newspapers. The responsibilities my female ancestors accepted (in addition to those they had at home) paints a picture of the kind of people they were.

What will your descendants learn about you when they read about the clubs and other organizations you joined?

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday ~ Norman A. Clarke

Norman A. Clarke was born in Funkstown, Washington, Maryland on March 30, 1862. As a young man, he and his brother traveled from Maryland to Springfield, Clark, Ohio where he married Hester Ann Leffel in November of 1887.

The couple moved to Dayton Ohio, where Norman was a foreman in a manufacturing shop. Hester died in 1912.  Norman brought her body back to Springfield to be buried with her birth family. They had no children.

I lost track of Norman for a bit, but caught up with him through a marriage certificate filed when he remarried in Chicago where his brothers lived. Adele Curie(?) had also been married previously and she had a young son.

Norman and Adele move to Lafayette, Tippacanoe, Indiana where Adele had family. Norman worked as a foreman in a card factory. By 1930, Norman had retired. He and Adele lived out their last few years in Dayton. They are buried at Woodland Cemetery near Adele's son Charles Leigh Paulus.

Norman is my 2nd great-grandfather's brother. He left a better paper trail than ggg William Penrod Clarke. Through Norman, I have been able to learn a tremendous amount about William and their nine siblings. Knowing Norman was in Ohio when William was in Illinois helped verify the identity of my 3rd great-grandfather back in Funkstown, Washington county, Maryland.

Recently Norman provided another clue that may help explain how, when, and why the brothers traveled to Ohio. "Early Clark County Ohio Families Vital Statistics" states Norman's sister-in-law Ada Mary Leffel married Clinton L Reese who was born January 11th, 1857 in...drum roll please...Washington County, Maryland.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

A Course in French

"It is obviously the date of the document." Obvious to whom? It was anything BUT obvious to me.

The woman to whom the date was obvious is French, a transplant to the United States. She has graciously designed a course for BYU to teach non-French-speaking genealogists enough of the language that we can read those oh-so-vital records.

Because of the instructor's clearly written directions, the dates on my ancestors' records really did become obvious. Although fluent in French I am not, I was able to make out a good portion of my 3rd great-grandfather's birth record:

"Naissance de (Birth of) Nicolas Schmitt:
Line 1.) L’ an dix-huit cent treize le neuf mois
Line 1.) The year eighteen hundred thirteen the nine month
Line 2.) à huit heure du matin par devant word8 maire
Line 2.) at eight hour of the morning in front of word8 mayor
Line 3.) officier de l’ Etat civil de helimer et word9 word10
Line 3.) officer of the state civil of Hellimer and word9 word10
Line 4.) et comparu Francois Schmitt word5 domiciliée
Line 4.) has appeared Francois Schmitt word5 residing
Line 5.) au dit helimer lequel nous áprésenté un enfant
Line 5.) in the said Hellimer who to us has presented a child
Line 6.) du sexe masculin né aujourd’hui word7
Line 6.) of the male sex born today word7
Line 7.) minuit et un heure de lui déclarant word8
Line 7.) midnight and one hour of to him informant word8
Line 8.) d’ Elisabethe Grosse son épouse et auquel il
Line 8.) of Elisabethe Grosse his wife and to whom
Line 9.) a declaré le prénom de Nicolas ladite
Line 9.) he declared the given name of Nicolas the said
Line 10.) présentation et déclaration faite en presence
Line 10.) presentation and declaration made in presence
Line 11.) d’ Jean Nicolas word4 word5 de word7
Line 11.) of Jean Nicolas word4 word5 of word7
Line 12.) word1 âgé de vingt deux an et L’orent Sadler
Line 12.) word1 age of twenty two years and L’orent Sadler
Line 13.) word1 âgé de trente neuf an tous deux
Line 13.) word1 age of thirty nine years both
Line 14.) domiciliés a helimer de que nous
Line 14.) residing at Hellimer of which we
Line 15.) nous ai word3 word4 acte que le pére
Line 15.) we have word3 word4 record of the father
Line 16.) word1 word2 déclarant ont signé avec nous
Line 16.) word1 word2 declarant have signed with us
Line 17.) aprés lecture faite
Line 17.) after reading done

Whew! Translating these records will certainly get easier as I become better acquainted with them. But this precious record was my first. And at the moment, it's my préféré.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

London Times; April 18, 1870 Marriages

From the front page of the London Times, 140 years ago today:

"On the 5th April, at Stoneywood House, near Aberdeen, by the Right Rev. Bishop Suther, Captain HOGANTH, 43d Light Infantry, to MARY, only daughter of FRANCIS PIRIE, Esq.

On the 5th April, at Newent, Cloucestershire, by the Rev. T. P. Little, vicar of Okenhale, assisted by the Rev. B. R. Keene, vicar of Newent, HENRY, son of the late JOHN BAIN, Esq., of Morriston, Lanarkshire, N.H., to SUSANNAH MARIMA, youngest daughter of JOHN CHARLES COOK, Esq., of Newent.

On the 5th April, at All Saints Church, Norfold-square, Paddington, by the Rev. Watson Buller Pole, vicar of Over ?? and Condi? parishes, Gloucestershire, uncle to the bride, assisted by the Rev. W. Mercer, HENRY SOPPITT, Esq., only surviving son of General Soppitt, of Her Majesty's Bombay Army, to PHILILPA MATILDA POLE, youngest daughter of Lieut.-General Arthur Conliffe Pole, Colonel 63d Regiment.

On the 5th April, at St. John's, Hackney, by the Rev. T. O. Goodchild, M. A., JOHN T. PAUL, Park-road, Dalston, to MARY, daughter of ANDREW CHRISTY, Malvern-road, Dalston.

On the 5th April, at St. Andrew's Church, Plymouth, by the Rev. Roger Smith, CAROLINE, third daughter of Commr. ELLIOTT, R. N., to Wm. HENRY LEWIN, Lieut. R. N., youngest son of the late Lieut. W. C. J. Lewin, Bengal Artillary.

On the 6th April, at St. John's Church, Buxton, by the Rev. T. B. Foalkes, M. A., vicar of Llany??, near Oswestry, HUGH, youngest son of JOHN FOULKES JONES, Esq., Machyatleth, to MARTHA, only daughter of the late ROBERT OAKLEY, Esq., Shrewsbury.

On the 6th April, at the German Church, Wright-street, by the Rev. H.E. Marotski, OCTAVIO, only survivng son of GEORGE KISSEL, Esq., Frankfort-on-the-Main, late of Manchester, to HELEN, eldest daughter of LOUIS KNOOP, Esq., Victoria Park, Manchester.

On the 7th April, at St. George's, Hanover-square, Captain BULKELEY, of Clewer Lodge, Windsor, to SELINA MARY, daughter of the late Sir FREDERICK HERVEY BATHCRST, Bt."

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Spring Cleaning Genealogy Style

In the spring, life is all about cleaning and organizing inside and out. I'm fairly organized (obsessive according to my family, but I digress), so restoring order has never required a huge amount of time or energy. Until I turn to my genealogy files.

Every piece of paper left unattended seems to multiple overnight. I used to awaken to an unruly stack of folders, forms, and files; the result of overzealous family history searches.

One day I had an epiphany. I needed a SOP for my hobby, something similar to what I had at work. And my genealogy took a turn for the better, both historically and environmentally.

To be effective, a Standard Operating Procedure has to be written. I appreciate good documentation since my aging brain cells can misplace even the most brilliant of ideas.

So I created a Word document that clearly spells out how I do things. Things like who gets a manila folder and how those folders are labeled. My SOP explains how a surname is determined to be worthy of its own hanging folder. Where unmarried daughters' records will be kept. How to tell (at a glance) the difference between three folders with the same first and last names on the labels. What each direct line folder should contain. The purpose of those color-coded folders in the front of each hanging file.

One of the reasons I documented my process was the gap between research opportunities. If too much time lapsed, I wouldn't remember where I had left off. My SOP is priceless for that alone, but even more so in many other ways:

* Who will take over my research? If they can't understand my system, what precious records will they toss?

* Fewer trees give their lives to the creation of census records printed two and three times because I didn't know I already had them. My SOP explains where one copy will be kept for each family group. Don't have the SOP handy? Not to worry. Part of the instructions are to put directions for shared records in each folder.

* Only a tiny increment of time to play genealogy? Each folder has complete information and 'next steps' are clearly explained.

It's quite possible that your system is better than mine. That's okay. Having a system is the real key. Consistently using that system is a time-honored method for unlocking more priceless family history treasures.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Ancestor Approved

Many thanks to Leah of The Internet Genealogist, Lori of Branching Out Through the Years, and Lisa of The Faces of My Family for their stamps of approval for my It's All Relative blog. I'm touched, and delighted to accept the Ancestor Approved Award. Thank you very much.

The Ancestor Approved Award asks that as a recipient, I list ten things I have learned about any of my ancestors that have surprised, humbled, or enlightened me and pass the award along to ten other bloggers who I feel are doing their ancestors proud.

Here are the 10 things I have learned from my ancestors:

  • Risk-taking permeates the very roots of my family tree. Whether they crossed an ocean or scaled a mountain range, my ancestors saw promise outside their circumstances and pursued their dreams of a better life. This drive for improvement is evident in every generation including my grandchildren's.
  • Physical attributes and personality traits are more prevalent in our genes than we might believe. One of my living relatives looks so much like a nineteenth century ancestor, it's almost eerie.
  • The depth of my feelings for people who lived and died a hundred years before me continues to surprise me. I honor their wishes, protect their secrets, accept their shortcomings. These people are my family and I hold them close to my heart.
Things that humble me:
  • It is agony to see our grandchildren in a rearview mirror knowing it will be months before we see them again. How could my ancestors say goodbye, knowing they would never see their children again? Knowing they would have grandchildren, but never hold them, or hug them, or even hear their voices?
  • My car rests in the garage, my great-great-grandmother's horse shivers out back. My dishwasher has a china setting, my great-grandmother heats water for dishes on a woodburning stove. My grandchildren ride to school on a bus, my grandparents worked in a factory. Enough said.
  • One of the very first census records I saw listed my great-great-grandfather's sisters as domestics in a nearby town months after they immigrated from Sweden. They were 13 and 15 years old.
  • Immigration issues look a lot different to me now than they did 25 years ago.
  • Susan B. Anthony be praised.
  • Family stories and tall tales have a lot in common.
  • Ours is not to pass judgment on the past. We have only to show the cloth woven by a family of threads; some golden, some frayed.
The most difficult part of this challenge was narrowing my list of favorite blogs to just ten. I hope you'll visit my choices and enjoy them as much as I do. They are in no particular order:
  1. Midwestern Microhistory
  2. Cemetery Divas
  3. Genealogy Tip of the Day
  4. Virginia Pioneers
  5. We Tree
  6. The Genealogue
  7. In My Life
  8. Arlene Eakle's Virginia Blog
  9. Anna-Karin's Genealogical Blog
  10. The French Genealogy Blog

Monday, April 5, 2010

Gravely Disappointing

It's spring and a genealogist's thoughts turn to...cemeteries, of course!

On a recent warm and sunny day Husband and I trekked to a graveyard to take photos of headstones for Find A Grave.

This particular cemetery requires all headstones to be flat for easier "perpetual care". And while the grass was cut and the pathways were clear; some of the headstones, like this one, left me deeply saddened. Have you ever been told there is no headstone on your ancestor's grave? In a few more years the headstone pictured here could be completely covered.

How can we take a headstone photo for a family member if it looks like this? We simply cannot. We've prepared a cemetery kit for our personal use when we are out ancestor hunting which is helpful during these volunteer expeditions as well.

For starters, when visiting a cemetery, one must dress appropriately. Let's just say goose droppings can be plentiful. Choosing shoes that cover one's feet and prevent a wayward snake from slithering over one's toes is a good idea. Long pants and bug repellant will come in handy for fighting off ticks with nothing better to do than go than home with you. Sunscreen and a big hat are also wardrobe necessities. In our carry-along tool box we have:

  • a first aid kit
  • garden pads (for comfortable kneeling to take pictures)
  • gardening gloves
  • a sharp knife (to cut away overgrown grass)
  • a handheld garden hoe
  • a soft whisk broom
  • trash bags
  • a small mirror (to reflect the light for better photos)
  • moist towelettes (it's hard to stay clean)
  • extra batteries (cameras die at the silliest moments)
This is not an exhaustive list, but it's a good start. And like us, you'll probably tweak your cemetery tool kit every time you use it. But please do use it. It doesn't take much time to clear the area around a headstone. As long as you are taking care of great-grandmother's grave, take a moment to whisk away the debris on her neighbor's memorial too. Perhaps someday another researcher will do the same for you.