Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Giving Thanks for an Amazing Genealogy Resource

It's the time of year when people give thanks for many things in their lives.  Prompted by Elizabeth O'Neal of My Descendants' Ancestors, I want to give thanks for one of the most important, amazing resources in genealogy:  volunteers.  Without them far less would be accomplished.  It's particularly gratifying when someone is inspired by something you wrote to step in and help.

Earlier this year I wrote about a photo that I had found two years previously, for which I had been fruitlessly trying to find the owner.  One of my readers, Alan, took it upon himself to try to figure out who the beautiful woman in the photo was — and he succeeded.  By juggling well selected search terms in Google, he identified her as actress Juanita Moore, and even figured out who her nephew was.  Then I realized I knew the nephew, and I was able to return the photo to him.  I learned that he has been researching his aunt's career in order to nominate her for a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and the photo was the only known copy.  If not for Alan's help, it's unlikely the photo would have made its way back home.  So my biggest thanks this year go to him.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: Expanded Ancestor's Geneameme

You've heard of the game of 20 Questions, right?  How about 70 questions?  That's how many Randy Seaver is asking readers to answer for today's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun.

Your mission, should you decide to accept it (cue the Mission:  Impossible! music) is:

(1) Jill Ball created a 40-question "Ancestors' Geneameme" in 2011, and Linda Stufflebean recently expanded it to 70 questions on her Empty Branches on the Family Tree blog.

(2) Let's do Linda's expanded list this week for SNGF.

(3) Copy and paste the list of questions below and replace my answers with your own.

(4) Share your answers as a comment on this b;og post, in your own blog post, or on Facebook or Google+.   Please leave a comment and al ink to your answer in a comment on this blog post.


Ok, here are my answers.
  1. Can name my 16 great-great-grandparents  Yes
  2. Can name my 32 great-great-great-grandparents  No
  3. Can name more than 50 ancestors  Yes
  4. Have photos or portraits of my 8 great-grandparents  Yes
  5. Have an ancestor who was married more than three times  Yes
  6. Have an ancestor who was a bigamist  Not that I know of
  7. Met all four of my grandparents  Yes
  8. Met one or more of my great-grandparents  Yes, rumor has it
  9. Bear an ancestor’s given name/s  No
  10. Named a child after an ancestor  No
  11. Have an ancestor from Great Britain or Ireland  Yes
  12. Have an ancestor from Asia  Not that I know of
  13. Have an ancestor from continental Europe  Yes
  14. Have an ancestor from Africa  Not that I know of within recent history
  15. Have an ancestor who was an agricultural laborer  Yes
  16. Have an ancestor who had large land holdings  Not that I know of
  17. Have an ancestor who was a holy man:  minister, priest, rabbi  Yes
  18. Have an ancestor who was a midwife  Not that I know of
  19. Have an ancestor who was an author  Not that I know of
  20. Have an ancestor with the surname Wong, Kim, Suzuki, or Ng    No
  21. Have an ancestor with the surname Smith, Murphy, or Jones   Not that I know of
  22. Have an ancestor with a surname beginning with X  No
  23. Have an ancestor with a forename beginning with Z Yes
  24. Have an ancestor born on 25 December  Not that I know of
  25. Have an ancestor born on New Year’s Day  Not that I know of (whose New Year?)
  26. Have an ancestor who shares your day and month of birth  Not that I know of
  27. Have blue blood in your family lines  Yes
  28. Have a parent who was born in a country different from my country of birth  No
  29. Have a grandparent who was born in a country different from my country of birth  No
  30. Can trace a family line back to the 18th century  Yes
  31. Can trace a family line back to the 17th century  Yes
  32. Can trace a family line back to the 16th century  Yes
  33. Have seen signatures of some of my great-grandparents  Yes
  34. Have ancestors who signed with an X (or other mark)  Yes
  35. Have a grandparent or earlier ancestor who went to university  No
  36. Have an ancestor convicted of a criminal offense  Not that I know of
  37. Have an ancestor who was a victim of crime  Yes
  38. Have shared an ancestor’s story online or in a magazine/periodical  Yes
  39. Have published a family history online or in print  Yes
  40. Have visited an ancestor’s home from the 19th or earlier centuries  Yes
  41. Have a family Bible from the 19th century  No
  42. Have a family Bible from the 18th century or earlier  No
  43. Have an ancestor who was part of a multiple birth (twins, etc.)  Not that I know of
  44. Have a family member who closely resembles an ancestor  Yes
  45. Have an ancestor who owned their own business  Yes
  46. Have an ancestor who belonged to a trade guild  Not that I know of
  47. Have an ancestor who moved more than 100 miles away from his/her birth home, EXCLUDING immigration to another country  Yes
  48. Have an ancestor who gave birth to twelve or more children  Yes
  49. Have an ancestor with a rare/unusual/uncommon forename  Yes
  50. Have an ancestral family who changed their surname  Yes
  51. Have a passenger list or travel manifest for an ancestor  Yes
  52. Have an ancestor who was adopted  Yes
  53. Have an ancestor who adopted a child  Yes
  54. Have a naturalization record for an ancestor  Yes
  55. Have an ancestor who received a military pension  Yes
  56. Have a school record or school census for an ancestor  Yes
  57. Have an ancestor with a gravestone still in existence from the 18th century  Yes
  58. Have an ancestor with a gravestone still in existence from the 17th century or earlier  Not that I know of
  59. Have an ancestor who had only one child who survived to adulthood  Yes
  60. Are descended twice from one couple  Yes
  61. Are descended three times or more from one couple  Yes
  62. Are descended from an American president or other political figure  Not that I know of
  63. Are descended from a person famous in history, other than in politics  Yes
  64. Have an ancestor with a rare/unusual/unique surname  Yes
  65. Have an ancestor who you have found mentioned in a pre-1870 newspaper  Yes
  66. Can name the ship on which at least one ancestor emigrated  Yes
  67. Have a female ancestor who worked outside the home pre-World War II  Yes
  68. Know of at least one ancestor who returned to the ancestral home after emigration  Yes
  69. Know of at least one ancestor who permanently returned to the ancestral home after emigration  No
  70. Have an ancestor who was survived by 50 or more grandchildren  No
So I have 43 yeses out of 70.  I was expecting more.  Guess I have work to do!

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Genealogy Resources Are Like eBay


I can already hear some of you muttering out there:  Barely two months in Portland, and the rain has already turned her brain to mush.  I know it sounds like a weird comparison, but hear me out.

I search for lots of different kinds of items on eBay related to my family's history, particularly historic postcards with images of ancestral towns.  Something I've noticed over the years is that the sellers who post items on eBay generally target only the market they are involved in and don't think about any cross-marketing.  For example, a postcard with a scene from Tukums, Latvia might be listed as a postcard, with details about the postmark and/or the stamp, or possibly a description of the scene.  But practically no one includes the sender's and recipient's names written on the postcard, even if they are in Roman characters and easily readable, in the item's description.  I believe that happens because those sellers are totally focused on their own communities — collectors of stamps, postmarks, postcards, etc. — and don't see other value to the items beyond that focus.  It never occurs to them that there might be a descendant or other family member of the person to whom the postcard was sent who would be interested in the item.

So, for example, the image shown above is the address side of a postcard with postmarks from 1900.  It has a May 14 Warsaw postmark and one from May 29 from Paris.  The front of the postcard has two views of Kamenets Podolsky, from the north and south.  The description of the item mentioned the postmarks and that the images were of Kamenets Podolsky.  It did not list the addressee — Mademoiselle Suzanne Lambert, Chez Madam sa Mére, Rue de la Rochelle, Bar-le-Duc, which translates to Miss Suzanne Lambert, c/o her mother, Rue de la Rochelle, Bar-le-Duc — even though it's pretty easy to read.  If you were related to Suzanne Lambert, wouldn't you love to find this card available online?  But the odds of you doing so would be diminishingly small without her name in the listing.  So you need to think of other ways to search for items, such as looking for the towns your family members were in.  One man I knew used that method to find some postcards sent between relatives and then followed the sellers, who continued to post more over time.  Eventually my acquaintance acquired more than half a dozen postcards, which were instrumental in learning more about his family.

And how does that relate to genealogy resources?  Something many, many people forget is that the vast majority of resources genealogists use in our research were not created for genealogical purposes.  While the mega genealogy sites (FamilySearch, Ancestry, FindMyPast, and MyHeritage) have made it much easier to find records based on any individual's name, not all indices are that thorough.  Probate records are still often indexed only by the name of the decedent and not any of the heirs.  Many records in archives may not have a finding aid at all.  We can't count on the repositories to create indices that cater to us, because as I said, those records weren't created for us.  We need to keep in mind why records were created and how a repository uses them and then tailor our searches to fit those parameters.  It's nice if a repository allows something such as an every-name index to be made, but we can't count on that.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: Make an Ancestor's Timeline

 I haven't participated in Saturday Night Genealogy Fun for the past few weeks, partly because I'm still unpacking mountains of moving boxes (will it never end?!) and partly because the themes weren't really up my alley.  This week, however, Randy Seaver chose a topic that looked a little more fun to me.

Your mission, should you decide to accept it (cue the Mission:  Impossible! music) is:

(1) Have you created a timeline for one of your ancestors using a genealogy software program (e.g., Family Tree Maker, RootsMagic, Legacy, Reunion, etc.), an online family tree (e.g., Ancestry Member Tree, FamilySearch Family Tree, Geni, MyHeritage, etc.), or a spreadsheet (e.g., Excel)?

(2) If not, try to create a timeline using the program/Web site of your choice.  If so, create another one for the ancestor of your choice!

(3) Show us your timeline creation and tell us how you did it:  which program/Web site, the process you used, and how you captured the images to display your timeline.

(4) Share your timeline creation on your own blog post, in a comment to this post, or on Facebook or Google+.

1 and 2.  I have created a timeline before.  In fact, Randy used this idea in 2016, and I posted a timeline then.  In addition, the program I use, Family Tree Maker, automatically creates a timeline with the facts that you enter about each individual.  I created the timeline I'm posting tonight specifically for this exercise.

3.  I use Family Tree Maker v. 16.  I created a Genealogy Report that included all the facts I had for my great-grandfather Thomas Kirkland Gauntt.  I exported the information in an RTF file, then added additional facts and edited the file in MS Word.  I copied and pasted the text from Word directly into this blog post.  I have found that makes it easier to read, as opposed to doing a screen capture.  As Randy commented, it's pretty plain, but the benefit of exporting the file and opening it in a word processor is that I can add as much information as I want to it.


THOMAS KIRKLAND GAUNTT
May 25, 1870, born in Fairview, Medford Township, Burlington County, New Jersey
June 28, 1870, enumerated in U.S. federal census in Medford Township, Burlington County, New Jersey
June 15, 1880, enumerated in U.S. federal census in Mt. Laurel, Burlington County, New Jersey
May 15, 1885, enumerated in New Jersey state census in Centre, Camden County, New Jersey; occupation farm laborer
September 2, 1891, married Jane Dunstan in Greenland, Burlington County, New Jersey
May 15, 1895, enumerated in New Jersey state census in Centre, Camden County, New Jersey
June 27, 1900, enumerated in U.S. federal census in Mt. Laurel, Burlington County, New Jersey; occupation farm laborer
June 1, 1905, enumerated in New Jersey state census in Burlington County, New Jersey
April 27, 1910, enumerated in U.S. federal census in Mt. Holly, Northampton Township, Burlington County, New Jersey; occupation insurance agent
June 1, 1915, enumerated in New Jersey state census in Mt. Holly, Northampton Township, Burlington County, New Jersey
February 1920, enumerated in U.S. federal census in Burlington, Burlington County, New Jersey; occupation farm laborer
April 23, 1930, enumerated in U.S. federal census in Mt. Holly, Northampton Township, Burlington County, New Jersey
1935, living in Burlington, Burlington County, New Jersey
April 15, 1940, enumerated in U.S. federal census in Mt. Holly, Burlington County, New Jersey
August 1, 1954, died in Mount Holly, Burlington County, New Jersey of a pulmonary embolism
About January 23, 1951, buried in Brotherhood Cemetery, Hainesport, Burlington County, New Jersey

Monday, October 30, 2017

Photographs: A Cautionary Tale

Harriet Gordon,
bar mitzvah, 1960
I have posted before about the benefits of showing unidentified photographs to older family members to see if they recognize any of the faces.  It's important to do that as soon as possible — multiple times, if necessary — because once those older family members have passed away, no one else in the family may recognize the faces in those old photographs.  And sometimes it doesn't even have to be as dramatic as someone passing away for the opportunity to be lost.

Several years ago, in 2003, I visited my grandmother, Bubbie, in Florida.  We had lunch with several of her cousins, and she remembered that she had photos that were important to them:  "I have a photograph of your parents on their wedding day."  "I have a photo of you when you were a baby."  When we returned to her apartment after the luncheon, she had me drag out four big boxes of photos and we went through them looking for those she wanted to give to the cousins.  Bubbie wouldn't let me label any of the photos, but we put aside the ones she wanted to give to the cousins.

Fast forward two years to 2005.  Bubbie's memory had started to fade a little.  She hadn't actually begun to forget things, but she was repeating herself several times in one conversation.  I remembered those boxes of unlabeled photographs and thought I better do something.  I was already planning to visit a paternal cousin near Orlando, Florida for Thanksgiving, and my grandmother lived near Fort Lauderdale.  That was pretty close, so I  told Bubbie I wanted to visit her and quickly added a flight to Fort Lauderdale to my schedule.

This time Bubbie was much more amenable to labeling the photos.  I brought piles of sticky notes.  We went through all four boxes again, and she let me put a note on every photo.  This not only meant that every photo was identified, it led to the discovery that one photo was of my great-great-grandparents.

And why is this a cautionary tale?  The visit to my grandmother was in November.  The next summer, in 2006, she had a severe stroke.  While her brain and memory functions were left relatively intact, she was functionally blind.  She could no longer see the photographs and would not have been able to tell me who was in them.

I am very fortunate that I took advantage of the opportunity to visit my grandmother and convince her to let me label the photographs she had.  If you have a lot of unidentified photos in your family, don't wait.  Talk to those older relatives and ask for their help in letting you know who is in the photos.