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Saturday, January 23, 2010

Site-seeing Saturday ~ Geneva Illinois

My great-great grandfather's family left Sweden and came to America in stages during the late 1800s. The four oldest children (adults by then) traveled one at a time. Later the four youngest children, my gg-grandfather among them, immigrated with their parents and settled in Batavia Illinois.

Before I found my ggg, I located his two youngest sisters in Geneva Illinois on the 1880 census. At 15 and 17, they worked as domestic servants in the home of flour mill proprietor Charles Bennett.

Since my ancestors are shall we say, less-than-historical figures, they didn't make an appearance in the local history books. Mr Bennett however was a well known person in the community. His life was well documented.

Charles Bennett's house is shown in this picture which was taken during the time Frida and Amanda Tolf worked there. How I wish there was a picture of all the household help standing outside in front of the house!

I can only imagine how the girls looked in their starched white aprons and ruffled mop caps. But I got a glimpse of their lives by viewing a site they saw everyday while still new to this country. And in so doing, I have a better understanding of their day to day activities.

Through his limited fame, Mr Bennett shined a spotlight on two women who may remain anonymous in other ways. Even when photographs of my ancestors no longer exist, I can still picture them by doing a little sight-seeing in the places they lived.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Follow Friday

So many blogs, so little time! But to reach that goal of learning at least one new thing everyday, reading blogs really is a necessity. When I come across a writer who teaches me things I need to know in a fun and interesting way, you can bet your 3rd cousin twice removed, I'll become a follower.

Such is the case with Tami Glatz and her Relatively Curious about Genealogy blog. It's fun and sometimes funny, informative and very well-written. I encourage you to stop by and give her a "howdy, hi"!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Thursday's Tithe

I've encountered many gene-angels in the last decade. I couldn't have accomplished nearly as much on my family tree without so many people who have helped in so many ways. People who willingly shared their experience and expertise. Who offered guidance and direction when I was out of clues, or out of ideas, or just out of steam.

This year one of my resolutions is to quantify more pay-it-forward moments. To give more often than I take. To answer more questions than I ask. To share the resources available to me. I resolve to more actively seek opportunities to "tithe genealogically".

Each month I devote one day to RAOGK (Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness). Today was my volunteer day and I'm completely exhausted. But I'm also really happy because I gave another researcher a reason to leap off her chair. You know the YIPPEE moment, don't you? When someone gives you that tidbit of information that makes another puzzle piece fit exactly right. The tidbit you couldn't have found without help.

What limbs would your tree be missing if you hadn't gotten guidance from a gene-angel? The very nature of genealogists is that of community. How lucky we are to have each other!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

How much were your ancestors impacted by the neighborhood in which they lived? Did they have friends next door? Were relatives on the next block? Was the neighborhood a friendly place where people congregated on warm summer days? Were ethnic celebrations common occurances?

Those neighbors, especially homeowners, may point toward your hard-to-find ancestor. If the census taker or indexer misspelled your ancestor's surname, look for a neighbor you found on a previous census. What a wonderful surprise it will be to locate your family living next door!

My neighbor put a birdhouse on our viewing side of the fence around his pool. Spring and summer were enhanced for us as we watched a wren couple care for their babies. Our neighborhood is friendly, filled with homeowners who stay for decades. My descendants should have no trouble finding me. Just look for the neighbors!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Road Trip!

There's a genealogical road trip on the horizon. Time will be limited (isn't it always?), so I'm making every effort to organize and prioritize my to-do list. First stop, the Arlington Heights Illinois Library for passenger lists, city directories, and obituaries.