Saturday, September 23, 2023

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: Your Genealogy Highlight This Past Week

As if I weren't far enough behind, I actually finally caught COVID!  So I've been isolating and recovering and trying even harder to catch up.  Thank goodness I had a ready answer for Randy Seaver's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun challenge today.

Here is your assignment, should you decide to accept it (you ARE reading this, so I assume that you really want to play along; cue the Mission:  Impossible! music!):

1.  What was your genealogy-related highlight of this past week (or two weeks)?

2.  Write your own blog post, leave a comment on this post, or write something on Facebook.

By an amazing coincidence, my genealogy highlight this past week is also related to an AncestryDNA match who has an adoption in his line.

I've been corresponding with Edward for three and a half years now.  He matches my sister (whose kit I manage) at a much higher level than he does me.  We've been trying to figure out what names we might have in common, based on what he knew of his tree.

The big news came a few days ago, when Edward sent a message saying that he had been able to identify his paternal grandfather.  So now he has new surnames to add to the mix.  Unfortunately, we still don't have any that match in recent generations.  Currently the most promising lead is Asay, going back to the 1700's in each of our lines.  Hurray for old Quaker names in New Jersey!

But now I need to step up my research on my Asays!

Saturday, August 19, 2023

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: Make an Ahnentafel Report

I get all excited about having enough time and energy to participate in this week's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun from Randy Seaver, and my computer tries to thwart me by not cooperating.  But I won, and here's my post!

Here is your assignment, should you decide to accept it (you ARE reading this, so I assume that you really want to play along; cue the Mission:  Impossible! music!):

1.  Have you made an Ahnentafel report ("name table" in German) recently?  Show us yours!  How did you do it?  Which program did you use?

2.  Write your own blog post, leave a comment on this post, or write something on Facebook.

I will admit, it has been a while since I did an Ahnentafel report, and I don't think I have done one since I installed Family Tree Maker2019.  Things have apparently changed since the last time I did a report.

As just mentioned, I am using Family Tree Maker2019.  I went to my paternal grandmother, the person I had decided I wanted to do the report for, then clicked Publish, Genealogy Reports, and Ahnentafel Report.

After I clicked Ahnentafel Report, I got a pop-up screen that told me that whereas previous versions of Family Tree Maker offered an Anhentafel report and a simplified Ahnentafel report, this new version had combined the two reports and included all the options of both.  I don't remember there being two choices before, but I'll believe them.

After clicking ok to that little squib, I then clicked Create Report.

The output I got didn't quite resemble what I remember an Ahnentafel looking like.  It had a lot more information than I thought it should, I think partly because the options for the previous report I had created in the program (not an Ahnentafel) were carried over.  So I unclicked several items, and it looks slightly more like what I remember of an Ahnentafel, but still not quite.  Oh, and it doesn't even say Ahnentafel in the default header.

But that's why Randy has us do this type of project, right?  So we can learn about the capabilities of our computer programs.

This is page 1 of the Ahnentafel for my grandmother Anna Gauntt.

It only ran two and a quarter pages and has 32 people total over nine generations (I was optimistic and had requested 20).  I just don't have the same kind of information Randy does.

Then came the real fun.  This is only the second report I have run in my new FTM, and I had totally forgotten what to do next.  I couldn't find the report on my computer.  I searched on the computer, searched for help online, and finally realized the report is internal to FTM.  To obtain something I could use in this post, I had to print it.  Aha!

That worked.  It created a PDF, which I then converted to a PNG file so I could upload the image to Blogger.

Just remember, computers make our lives easier, right?

Saturday, July 22, 2023

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: Who Is Your LAST Immigrant Ancestor?

I actually knew the answer to this question as soon as I saw it on Randy Seaver's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun post tonight!

Here is your assignment, should you decide to accept it (you ARE reading this, so I assume that you really want to play along; cue the Mission:  Impossible! music!):

1.  Which of your ancestors was the LAST immigrant to your current country?  When did they arrive?  Where did they arrive?  Why did they migrate?

2.  Write your own blog post, or leave a comment on this post, or write something on Facebook.

My most recent immigrant ancestor is on my mother's side.  All four of my great-grandparents on her side were immigrants, coming to the United States between 1905 and 1911.  The last one to arrive was my great-grandmother Minnie Zelda (Nowicki) Meckler (about 1880–1936).  She was born in the Russian Empire, probably in Porozowo, which is now in Belarus.  She departed Antwerp October 14, 1911 on the Vaderland with three young children in tow and arrived in New York City on October 23.

She came to this country because her husband, my great-grandfather Morris Meckler, had immigrated earlier, in 1906.  The family was separated for five years.  They came primarily for economic opportunity.  Other family members had come earlier to pave the way.

As far as I currently know, on my father's side my most recent immigrant ancestor was my great-grandmother Jane Dunstan (1871–1954).  She was born in Manchester, England.  She departed England October 8, 1890 on the Lord Olive and arrived in Philadelphia on October 21.  As far as I can tell, she was traveling by herself.

Less than a year later, on September 2, 1891, she married Thomas Kirkland Gauntt in Greenland, New Jersey (although I don't know if it was the Greenland that is part of Magnolia in Camden County or the one that is part of Edison in Middlesex County).  Their first child, Frederick Cleworth Gauntt (named for Jane's father), was born a mere four months later on January 7, 1892.  My grandmother was their second child, born a year after her brother, on January 14, 1893.

I have never heard any story within the family of why Jane came to the United States, but her brother Frederick Dunstan (1868–1932) came here first, about 1888 (I still haven't found a passenger list for him).  Maybe he made New Jersey sound absolutely wonderful, and Jane just had to come.  Or since she hooked up with my great-grandfather relatively quickly (apparently at the latest by about April 1891, only roughly six months after she arrived), maybe Fred was being a matchmaker?

I will say, however, that I still have not identified the biological father of my paternal grandfather, and while I have a good candidate, who was a native of New Jersey, it's possible that Grampa's biological father might have been an immigrant and might have arrived later than Jane did.  The latest he could have arrived would be about July 1902, as my grandfather was born in April 1903, so my most recent immigrant overall would still be on my mother's side.

Sunday, July 16, 2023

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: Three Things about an Ancestor

Tonight Randy Seaver has us thinking about the details of our ancestors' lives for Saturday Night Genealogy Fun.

Here is your assignment, should you decide to accept it (you ARE reading this, so I assume that you really want to play along; cue the Mission:  Impossible! music!):

1.  What are three things about one of your ancestors that you have learned doing genealogy research?

2.  Write your own blog post, or leave a comment on this post, or write something on Facebook.

I chose my great-grandmother Laura May (Armstrong) Sellers Ireland.

• Laura May Armstrong was born May 7, 1882 in Burlington County, New Jersey to Joel Armstrong and Sarah Ann Deacon Lippincott.

• Laura bore at least ten children, only four of whom survived to adulthood:
Bertram Lynn Sellers, Sr. (1903–1995)
Cornelius Howard Sellers (about 1904–1905)
Amelia Sellers (after 1904–before 1920)
Catherine Marie Sellers (about 1907–1989)
George Moore Sellers (1908–1975)
Nellie Elizabeth Sellers (1912–2004)
Harry J. Sellers (1913–1913)
Herman J. Sellers (about 1914–between 1915–1920)
Birdsall Sellers (1916–1916)
Bertolet Grace Sellers (1921–1927)

• Laura was apparently a bit of a wild woman for her time.  She gave birth to my grandfather in 1903 without benefit of a husband; his birth certificate, which took quite a while to track down, has merely the socially disapproving "OW" (out of wedlock) on the line where the father's name would normally appear.  She married Cornelius Elmer Sellers seven months after my grandfather was born.  Then, in 1921, almost three years after Elmer had died, she gave birth to another child who did not have a father's name on the birth certificate.

Sunday, July 2, 2023

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: Top 10 Genealogy-related Books That Helped You

I suspect that most of my choices for this week's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun challenge will be different from those of other posters.

Here is your assignment, should you decide to accept it (you ARE reading this, so I assume that you really want to play along; cue the Mission:  Impossible! music!):

1.  What are the top 10 genealogy-related books that helped you the most in your family history research?

2.  Write your own blog post, leave a comment on this post, or write something on Facebook.

Here's my list.

Finding Our Fathers:  A Guide to Jewish Genealogy, Dan Rottenberg

Professional Genealogy, Elizabeth Shown Mills (editor)

Where Once We Walked (revised edition), Gary Mokotoff and Sallyann Amdur Sack, with Alexander Sharon

A Dictionary of Jewish Surnames from the Russian Empire (revised edition), Alexander Beider

Dictionary of Ashkenazic Given Names, Alexander Beider

Dictionary of Jewish Surnames from Galicia, Alexander Beider

Sephardic Genealogy (second edition), Jeffrey S. Malka

The Jewish Encyclopedia:  A Descriptive Record of the History, Religion, Literature, and Customs of the Jewish People from the Earliest Times to the Present Day (1925)

Black Roots:  A Beginner's Guide to Tracing the African American Family Tree, Tony Burroughs

Red Book:  American State, County, and Town Sources, Alice Eichholz, Ph.D., CG (editor)

Saturday, June 24, 2023

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: How Are You Saving Family Photographs and Home Movies?

I'm still running behind, so I'm catching up on an older Saturday Night Genealogy Fun today.

Here is your assignment, should you decide to accept it (you ARE reading this, so I assume that you really want to play along; cue the Mission:  Impossible! music!):

1.  Almost all genealogists have family photographs and/or home movies of their ancestors, relatives, and friends handed down over the generations.

2.  What steps have you taken to obtain, save, and pass on those photographs or home movies to your family members?

3.  Write your own blog post, leave a comment on this post, or write something on Facebook.

I am the family genealogist, so I am the person who has ended up with most of the family photos.  I brought home two or three boxes of photos after cleaning out my maternal grandmother's apartment when she had a stroke and it was clear that she was not going to be able to live by herself anymore.  I have one or two boxes of photos from my maternal uncle, which he gave to me when I visited him and my aunt in the summer of 2022.  I even have photos given to me by a cousin's widower; I had visited them while my cousin was still alive, and after she passed away, her husband contacted me and asked if I wanted the photos from her side of the family (hell, yes!).

The exception is that my sister currently has custody of the photos that my father had in his possession when he passed away (and she got them from our stepbrother, but that is a long, complicated story).  I believe she also has our father's lifetime of automobile racing trophies, but they might still be with our stepbrother's widow.  (I said it was complicated.)

I don't know of any home movies that were made in the first place, much less that have survived.  My family seems to have stuck to photographs.

Before scanning became so easy and so ubiquitous, I had photo negatives made of a few photographs before giving the original physical photos to the family members pictured in them.  Then I had prints made from the photo negs.

I have done lots of scanning of the photos that I have and have shared a lot of those scans (although I don't think all) with family members.  I also share them by posting them on my blog, and this has helped get some of them identified.  I have given physical copies of photographs to people pictured in them or to close relatives of those individuals.  I have shared duplicate copies of some photos (made when the photos were first printed) with family members.  I always identify as many people in a photo as I can and try to include date and location when possible when sharing scans and giving physical photos.

I have put together photo books of different family lines and shared those books with family members.

I have also tried to find family members for photos that are of friends of my family but not my family members, to give them.  So far I haven't been successful with any of those searches.

My most successful photo return was when I was given several photos of my paternal grandfather with his second wife and my youngest aunt (my father's only younger half-sibling).  That took a few years, but I found my aunt (and her mother)!  And I scanned those photos before giving them to her.

My sister was having her niece scan the photos she has.  I received copies of some of them, maybe all that had been scanned.  The last time I checked, scanning was still ongoing.

I don't do any colorizing.  I really don't like it.  I think it's far too easy for people to forget that the color was added later, and then they'll think that's what the photos looked like originally.  I have done some enhancements myself to try to make some photos clearer, but that's generally all.

When I determined that one photo I had was of my great-great-grandparents, including the great-great-grandmother who died in 1908 and whose death started the family's chain migration to the United States, I had it professionally scanned and cleaned up, because I considered it such an important photo for the family.

I still need to work on archival storage for the photos I have.  I know they can deteriorate, and I don't want that to happen.

Sunday, June 18, 2023

Fishing with My Father

Today is not only Father's Day, it's also National Go Fishing Day.  I figured I could cover them both by writing about fishing with my father.  Brilliant, right?

Daddy used to like to fish for bass, but I wasn't that crazy about eating bass.  I liked fishing for catfish.  There's something about catfish and the steaklike texture of the fillets that I just love.

Since we were freshwater fishing in Florida, we would catch mud cats, apparently more properly known as flathead catfish.  They're scavengers that live on the bottom of creeks and rivers, ergo the mud in their nickname.  I don't remember what we used for bait, but the Wikipedia page about them says live bait is preferred, so it may have been small fish or possibly worms.

One of the interesting things about catfish is their skin.  They don't have scales.  Instead their skin is kind of like leather.  Like scales, you don't eat it.  Unlike scaling a regular fish, however, it's necessary to peel off their skin.

That was something I always left to my father.  I had a great time going out fishing with him, and I was always happy when we caught catfish.  But he was in charge of skinning them.

The way he did it was to nail the catfish's head to the porch and then, wearing heavy gloves, use pliers to peel the skin off the body.  I freely admit it was not something that I wanted to do.

Then we would have yummy catfish fillets for dinner.  I think my mother lightly fried them.  They were always delicious.

Another fun thing about catfish is that I was always told that their spines are poisonous.  I don't think it's supposed to be enough to actually kill you, unless maybe you're just a little kid, but I guess enough to make you sick.

One time when we had catfish for dinner, my brother was put in charge of taking the trash out afterward.  The spines and nasty bits of the catfish were on the bottom of the trash bag.  He took the bag out, dumped it upside down, and mashed it down so that the trash can lid would close — and stuck himself with a catfish spine.

He ran into the house screaming, blood spurting out of his hand.  My mother, who didn't deal well with blood in general and especially not her children's blood, became hysterical.  I had to tell my sister to get her out of the room because she was just freaking out.  I got my brother to sit down and I bled out the wound as best I could.  And now that I think of it, I don't remember my father being there.  Hmm, where was he?

I also don't remember if my brother went to the doctor the next day or did anything to follow up, but he didn't get sick, so I guess I did a decent job (or maybe the spines aren't actually poisonous after all).  He developed a small lump in his palm where the spine had stabbed him, and years later he finally had to have it removed.

photo by Bébéranol

Used under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.

Sunday, June 4, 2023

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: What Genealogical or Historical Societies Have You Joined?

For this week's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun, Randy Seaver asks about our membership in groups, something I'll have to think about to answer, at least for the past ones.

Here is your assignment, should you decide to accept it (you ARE reading this, so I assume that you really want to play along; cue the Mission:  Impossible! music!):

1.  What genealogical or historical societies have you joined to pursue your family history research over the years?

2.  Write your own blog post, leave a comment on this post, or write something on Facebook.

I am pretty sure the first genealogical society I joined was the San Francisco Bay Area Jewish Genealogical Society.  I found out about it from someone who came to the Oakland Family History Center.  That was way back about 20 years ago.  For several years that was my only membership.  I have stayed a member continuously since joining.

I was a member of the California State Genealogical Alliance from 2006 or 2007 until the group was dissolved in 2017.  In fact, I was one of the board members who voted in favor of and helped with the processing of the dissolution.

I think the next group I joined was the California Genealogical Society, in 2011, after giving a presentation to them about online newspapers.  I remained a member of CGS until I moved to Oregon.  I think my last year was 2018.

Soon after CGS I became a member of the African American Genealogical Society of Northern California (how's that for a mouthful?), in 2012.  That membership also ended when I moved to Oregon in 2017.

I think I was a member of the Southern California Genealogical Society for a couple of years in conjunction with having given presentations at Jamboree, but I can't remember which years.

The first group I joined after my move to Oregon was the Jewish Genealogical Society of Oregon.  As I recall, I joined not long after arriving in September 2017.  I had a break in membershp for about a year but returned and am currently a member.

I began participating in the African American Special Interest Group of the Genealogical Forum of Oregon also soon after I moved here, but that group is open to the public and didn't require joining officially — until I volunteered to take over as coordinator after the founder of the group stepped down.  To be a SIG coordinator, you have to be a member of GFO.  So I joined and have maintained that membership through to the present.

I was a member of the Oberlin African American Genealogy and History Group in 2020 and 2021, but I forgot to renew for 2022 and they didn't remind me.  Earlier this year I sent a message asking about current benefits of membership but was told that I would find out about benefits only after joining.  I didn't consider that the best way to market the group and still haven't decided if I'm going to renew.

I joined the Jewish Genealogical Society of Long Island in 2021 as a life member, so that's still current.

I was given a membership in the Virtual Genealogical Society because I gave a presentation at its 5th birthday party this year.  Hmm, I don't think I've received any messages from them since then, but it was only a month ago.

I can't recall ever having joined a historical society.

So that makes my current memberships SFBAJGS, JGSO, JGSLI, GFO, and VGS.

Saturday, May 20, 2023

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: Then and Now, Oral Interviews

I think I've gotten a little rusty with writing, it's been so long.  But I need to start again, and today is as good of a day as any.  Thank goodness for Randy Seaver and his Saturday Night Genealogy Fun writing prompts.

Here is your assignment, should you decide to accept it (you ARE reading this, so I assume that you really want to play along; cue the Mission:  Impossible music!):

1.  Then and Now:  Did you ever conduct oral interviews of family members or friends and neighbors about your ancestors over the years?  Who did you interview, how did you record the interviews, and what did you learn from them?  Please share your experiences.

2.  Write your own blog post, leave a comment on this post, or write something on Facebook.

I first got hooked on family history after a school assignment at age 13 to fill in my family tree four generations back.  I still have the original purple mimeographed piece of paper, even though it no longer has that special mimeograph ink smell.

To fill in more information than what I knew already, I conducted oral interviews of all my relatives who lived nearby:  my mother, father, paternal grandfather, paternal aunt, and cousins (my aunt's children).  I recorded the information from the interviews by hand in a spiral notebook, and I still have my original notes.

I learned a lot more about my father's family through this process than about my mother's, because I had grown up hearing information about my mother's side of the family.  My father was not as close to his family, however, so much of the information was new to me:

my great-grandmother's name, Nanny Ireland

my great-great-grandmother's name, Kate Moore

my aunt's first husband's name, Zeke Lore

When I began working more diligently on researching my family, however, I learned that a lot of what I had been told was accurate but was not pointing me in the right direction.

Ireland was my great-grandmother's second husband's name.  No one knew or remembered his given name, with the story being that Nanny (given names Laura May) had been told that she really needed a man to look after her, so she married Mr. Ireland, then figured out he wasn't worth the trouble and got rid of him.  It took thirty years to track down that he was John Ireland.

Moore was my great-great-grandmother's second husband's name but was told to me as her maiden name.  That also took almost thirty years to straighten out, after my grandaunt told me that was her second marriage.

And my aunt's first husband's actual given names were Clarence Newcomb.  To this day, no one has been able to tell me where Zeke came from.  And I still haven't found documentation proving that they were really married, either.

Oral interviews are great, because you get to know your family members better and learn more about the family.  Just make sure you check evrything they tell you to make sure it's right.