Monday, October 30, 2023

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: Where Were Your 16 2nd-great-grandparents Born, Married, and Died?

This week's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun exercise from Randy Seaver had me looking up a lot of information!

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.  Where did your 16 2nd-great-grandparents live and die?  What are their birth, marriage, and death dates and locations?

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

I can write about only twelve of my great-great-grandparents.  I may have their names committed to memory, but not all that other data.

James Gauntt:  born June 18, 1831 in New Jersey; married February 1, 1851 in Westhampton Township, Burlington County, New Jersey; died February 16, 1889 in Rancocas, Burlington County, New Jersey

Amelia Gibson:  born June 1831 in Burlington County, New Jersey; died June 19, 1908 in Lumberton, Burlington County, New Jersey

Frederick Cleworth Dunstan:  born January 18, 1840 in Deansgate, Manchester, Lancashire, England; married October 18, 1858 in Manchester, Lancashire, England; died September 21, 1873 in Hulme, Lancashire, England

Martha Winn:  born August 12, 1837 in Manchester, Lancashire, England; died November 26, 1884 in Manchester, Lancashire, England

Simcha Dovid Mekler:  unknown when born, possibly in Kamenets Litovsk, Grodno gubernia, Russia; married before 1885 in Russia; died before 1904, possibly in Kamenets Litovsk, Grodno gubernia, Russia

Bela <unknown maiden name>:  unknown when born, in Russia; died before 1924, possibly in Kamenets Litovsk, Grodno gubernia, Russia

Gershon Itzhak Novitsky:  born about 1858, probably in Porozowo, Grodno gubernia, Russia; married about 1875 in Russia; died December 12, 1948 in Brooklyn, Kings County, New York

Dora Yelsky:  born about 1858, probably in Porozowo, Grodno gubernia, Russia; died February 9, 1936 in Brooklyn, Kings County, New York

Victor Gordon:  born between 1864–1868, probably in Kamenets Podolsky, Podolia, Russia; married before 1891 in Russia; died January 25, 1925 in Brooklyn, Kings County, New York

Esther Leah Schneiderman:  born between 1868–1874 in Russia; died December 10, 1908 in Kishinev, Bessarabia, Russia

Morris Brainin:  born between 1860–1863, probably in Kreuzburg, Russia; married before 1883, possibly in Kreuzburg, Russia; died February 13, 1930 in Harlem, Manhattan, New York County, New York

Rose Dorothy Jaffe:  born between 1866–1871 in Russia; died November 9, 1934 in Harlem, Manhattan, New York County, New York

As fuzzy as some of the information is for my great-great-grandparents on my mother's side, at least I have something, which is more than I can say for my paternal grandfather's paternal side.  I'm still hunting for that biological father.

Tuesday, October 24, 2023

Photo Bonanza!

The origins of this story go back to 2019, when my father passed away.  I didn't know what there might be in his estate, but I had told my siblings that I was really interested in only two things:  his racing trophies and his photographs.

My father raced cars (and some motorcycles) everywhere he lived:  New Jersey, Florida, California, Australia, Florida again, Texas.  And he won lots of trophies (although my stepfather informed me that most of the time that's all he won; rarely did the races have any cash prizes).  Daddy talked about getting rid of the trophies a few years before he died, but I made him promise not to, because they're such an important part of his (and therefore our family's) history.  I even got to ask the Archive Lady how best to preserve them!

But this story is about the photographs.  My father used to be kind of a semiprofessional photographer.  He took photos everywhere and of everything.  Lots of family photos, lots of photos of cars, and all sorts of other stuff.  As the family genealogist, I knew I needed those photos to help tell our family story and to find more information about family members.

Due to various things that happened after Daddy died, the photographs ended up going to Texas with my stepbrother, and then to my sister in San Antonio.  I kept asking about them, and at some point she told me that her niece had started scanning them, and that eventually I would get a copy of the scans (and the photos themselves).  I asked a few more times after that and I was always told that the project was still going on.  After a while I stopped asking.

Out of the blue, about a week or so ago, I received an envelope from my sister.  In it was a flash drive, 128 gig!  (The biggest I've seen.)  I asked her if this was indeed the scanning project and was told, "Yes."

I finally had a chance to look at the flash drive a couple of days ago.  OMG!  Something like 6,000 scanned files!  The niece grouped them by whatever storage unit they were in:  a black tote, a can liner box (um, what is that?), a little white box, a U-Haul box.  Files and files and files!

So far I have been able to go through the files from the can liner box.  I have looked at all 1,343 photos.  (Remember, that's only the photos from that one box.)

Along with lots of photos Daddy took — of family members, friends, houses, touristy stuff, TOO MANY CARS — there are also photos of him.  Some have notes from his mother, my grandmother, written on the back.  One has a note from my grandfather (I actually recognized his handwriting).  Photos of him when he was a little bitty baby.  Congratulation cards to my grandmother on his birth.

Photos of my half-sister and her mother when they were in California, living with us!  Photos of my father's parents when they were young!  Photos from when my family lived in Australia!  A genealogist's gold mine!

And I know what I need to do.  Those photos need to be labeled as soon as possible while there's still someone around (that's mostly me!) who actually recognizes people in the photos.  Just like I harp on other people to do.

Like I said, I have gone through one folder so far.  I stayed up all night Sunday, obsessed with finishing that folder, labeling photos with the names of the people in them.  Although I am still trying to figure out how to label umpteen photos of the same car (he did this with more than one car, too).

Just a small sampling:

Me and my brother, about 1964

My half-sister Laurie, maybe about December 1964, with my mother's menorah

My half-sister Laurie and my father, about December 1957

My mother, maybe 1964?

My grandfather holding my father, maybe January 1936 (Grampa's handwriting)

Back row:  my mother and her parents
Front row:  me, my sister, my brother
Australia, circa 1972

Saturday, October 21, 2023

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: Do a Genealogy Software Problem Report

I certainly didn't get the result I expected when I tried to do Randy Seaver's challenge in tonight's 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.  Have you created a Problem Report from your desktop genealogy software program?  Tell us which software you're using, how you found the "Problem Report", and your results using it.

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

I almost had to concede defeat.

I use Family Tree Maker2019.  I blithely went to it and looked under Tools, as Randy did for Roots Magic.  I saw:
• Date Calculator
• Relationship Calculator
• Soundex Calculator
• Global Spell Check
• Resolve All Place Names
• Convert Names
• Compact File
• Sort All Children by Birth [which is a really convenient tool I didn't know was there]
• User Information
• References

So nothing there seems to be the general kind of "problem report" that I'm looking for.

The other top-level menus are Family Tree Maker 2019, File, Edit, View, Window, and Help.  I looked under the first five and found nothing apparently relevant to what I was looking for.  So I tried Help and entered "problem."  That netted me:

• Managing Places
• Sync Weather Reports
• Errors to Include [which is about dates]
• To send a sync error report
• Incorrect Date Format
• To re-establish a link
• Send Sync Error Report
• Edit Name
• To open a tree
• Double Dates
• To check a tree's synchronization status

I learned that FTM is inconsistent about capitalization but nothing about problem reports.

Next I searched in Help for "error", with similarly unhelpful results.

I then tried my failsafe:  Google.  I searched for <family tree maker problem report>.  And I got:
• Troubleshooting Family Tree Maker
• Report a Bug | The Software MacKiev Company
• Managing the Data Error Report - Part 1 (The English was so fractured I could not figure out what this page was about.)
• How to fix the orange sync weather report in Family Tree Maker
• Family Tree Maker 2019 App Started Having Problems

Okay, looking pretty bad.

But the sixth result finally looked promising:

"Another Way to Find Errors in Your Family Tree", with teaser text of "Family Tree Maker has a built-in error report that may surprised [sic] you with its findings."

When I clicked that link, I found a lovely explanation of how to create what Randy is calling a Problem Report and what FTM calls a Data Errors Report:

  • Click the Publish tab at the top of the program.
  • Click Person Reports in the left column and choose Data Errors Report.
  • Click Create Report, then click Cancel to make some enhancements:
    • Choose to include All individuals.
    • Click the first button under Data Errors Report Options to open the Errors to Include dialog box. I chose to deselect two choices:
      • Spouses have the same last name (so what?)
      • Marriage date missing (that's because the document is not available)
  • Close the dialog box, click Generate Report, and wait.

Now, why that didn't come up when I searched for "error" in Help, I have no idea.  I also have no idea why someone programming this thought this was an intelligent place to put this function.  But now I know where it is (and I hope I remember it the next time I want to do this).

I also deselected "Spouses have the same last name", as the author suggested, because I don't do my data entry by making a woman's married name her family name (I know lots of people who do, though).  If spouses have the same last name in my database, it's because that's what their names were.

I did not deselect "Marriage date missing", because one of the uses of this kind of report is to point out to you what data you are missing.  If you're going to omit "Marriage date missing", you may as well take out "Birth date missing" also (I would have included "Death date missing", but that is not an option in the list).

That said, when the report was finished, it was 121 pages long!  The vast majority of the items were missing birth and marriage dates.  I reran it without those items to see how long that report ended up:  a mere nine pages!  Much more manageable.

I noticed that in the new list the majority of the items were "Event divorce contains no data."  If I know that a marriage ended in divorce, I'll add a field for a divorce even when I don't have the date.  It appears that FTM considers that a data error.

So I ran a third version of the report, deselecting "Event contains no data."  And that report is only five pages long.  Better and better!

Well, I certainly learned more about Family Tree Maker tonight!

Monday, October 16, 2023

Mary Lou and Shetland Ponies

To celebrate the birthday of my half-sister's mother (my father's first wife), here is my half-sister Laurie with a guest post!


And here I am again, faced with my mother’s birthday, and yet another request from my Seester to write something for her ancestry blog.  Except THIS time . . . .

On this October 16, Mary Lou Bowen-Sellers-James would have been celebrating her 85th birthday.  Having been a single mother for a good part of her working years, she managed to find jobs or situations where she could work while I was at school or bring me along on her workday.

In 1967 we lived in El Monte, California in a house owned by the family she worked for.  In exchange for rent, we got to care for their horses and train Shetland ponies for the owner’s business.  At any given time, there were three to four horses and 30 to 35 ponies, along with a number of dogs and cats.  This in itself was her dream job, but there was a secondary job that seemed to be a part of every child’s life in the Los Angeles area in the '60's.

Along with a host of others, my mom worked as a roving photographer, taking photos of kids on Shetland ponies.  The crew would show up at the owner's property, prepare the ponies, load them up on the trailer, and then drive to a targeted neighborhood.  From there, each photographer would start walking, pony in tow, carrying a tripod, camera, chaps, vest, cowboy hat, whatever other equipment was necessary, along with her lunch, water and snacks for the pony, and a shovel, for a long day of photographing cowboy poses.

I was thrilled to be able to work alongside my mother as she got the children ready for the shoot and hear her talk about the horses to the kids and parents.

Of course, those were the days of developing film, so once the photos were ready, she’d be back to deliver the sleeves of photos to the parents, but while I was in school.

We took SO MANY photos of kids on Shetland ponies!  I grew up thinking every kid in the world had a picture taken on a Shetland pony!  Later in life I remember being shocked at the number of people with no knowledge of photographers and ponies just showing up in neighborhoods, looking for kids to dress up like cowboys!

It was a cool job and we were happy.  Even at the age of 10, I felt like we had found our place to be.  She loved what she was doing and I thought we were settling in.

Unfortunately, Mom suffered a back injury when she was thrown from one of the horses and we had to give up the house and the job.

That was the bad news.

Our salvation came in what most people would find an unconventional source:  My stepmother invited us to live with her, my father, and their three young children until my mother got back on her feet.

I thought I had hit the family jackpot!  I could actually LIVE with my siblings and, I’m pretty sure, we all had Shetland pony photos!

I’m not sure why, but we trained the ponies to stand in this manner as in the photo above, stretched out for the photo.  This guy’s ears were back, which my mother would never shoot.  She’d click and talk until the pony was looking at the camera, alert and ears forward.  She told me that making the pony look like it was enjoying its situation as much as the kid is what sold photos!

Photo posted by Maia C. and used under a creative commons license.

Sunday, October 15, 2023

Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day

Baby Boy Kent

Stillborn, November 26, 1975

Buried December 4, 1975, Holy Sepulchre Cemetery
Hamilton, Mercer County, New Jersey

Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day

Saturday, October 14, 2023

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: Have You Helped Someone with Their Genealogy?

Oh my goodness!  It was difficult to choose who to write about for this week's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun challenge from Randy Seaver!

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 helped someone (a friend, a colleague, someone you didn't know, etc.) with their genealogy and family history?  Genea-blogger Ellen Thompson-Jennings wrote on this topic last month in Have You Helped Someone with Their Genealogy? on Hound on the Hunt.

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

Helping people with their genealogy is what I do with a lot of my time, and I've been doing it steadily since 2000, when I started volunteering at the Oakland Family History Center (now the Oakland FamilySearch Center).  Since my move to Oregon in 2017 I've been helping at the Gresham FamilySearch Center.  I've also helped people in the various genealogical societies of which I have been a member, including Jewish Genealogical Society of Oregon, Genealogical Forum of Oregon, and San Francisco Bay Area Jewish Genealogical Society, which are a few of my current affiliations.

Probably the most interesting time I had helping people was when I worked at the Seismological Society of America and was doing the genealogy of all four people I worked with:  Susan N., Dorothy G., Kathy R., and Bo O.

Susan's family was mostly British Isles people who had been on this continent for a long time.  One of her grandfathers was from Greece, however, and I had fun reading Greek records on microfilm at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City.  One great-grandfather went from Missouri to California for the Gold Rush, and I found him in an early California state census.

Dorothy was always saying that her family wasn't interesting, but I found that her Portuguese line was one of the original settling families in the Azores.  She had a grandmother who lived to be 100 and was feted in San Francisco.  Her parents eloped and then pretended not to be married for a few years because her maternal grandmother did not approve of her mother's choice of husband.

For Kathy I researched both her and her former husband's families, because she was interested in sharing the information with her children.  Kathy had ancestors from Alsace-Lorraine with a surname that originated in only three towns there.  She had always been told that her maiden name was from a Jewish line, and I found her ancestor in Colonial Virginia identifed as a Jew; he even signed documents in Hebrew.

Rumor had it that Kathy's former mother-in-law had had the family history well researched and then thoroughly obscured.  A "family tree" had been created that listed only the male of the line and his wife, going back several generations.  After only a small amount of research (two or three generations) it was clear that the tree had been made up of whole cloth.  It appeared that perhaps part of the reason to hide the real information was that the family might have been scalawags.

Bo had one parent who was Jewish and one who was solidly British, so the research went in two entirely different directions.  His is the only family I am still working on.  I've actually found some of his Jewish ancestors in European records, which is more than I can say for my own family.

Everyone used to comment how I knew more about their families than they did!

Sunday, October 8, 2023

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: Which Ancestor Lived the Shortest Life?

I love it when I remember that I've done some research already and can just look it up to get the answer to a question, as in this week's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun challenge from Randy Seaver.

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 known ancestors lived the shortest life?  Consider only the last eight generations and those ancestors with known birth and death dates.  Do you know the cause of death?  Was there an obituary?  How many children did s/he have?  How did you figure this out?

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

My ancestor with known birth and death dates with the shortest life is my great-great-grandfather Frederick Cleworth Dunstan, who is my paternal grandmother's maternal grandfather.  He married Martha Winn October 18, 1858 in Manchester, Lancashire, England.  He was born January 18, 1840 in Deansgate, Manchester, Lancashire, England and died September 21, 1873 in Hulme, Lancashire, England. His lifespan was 33 years, 8 months, and 3 days.

His cause of death was chronic bronchitis for 11 months.  I don't know of an obituary, and since the family was very poor, I consider it unlikely there was one (doesn't mean I'll stop looking, of course).

Frederick and Martha Dunstan had six children that I know of, of whom four survived to adulthood.  The youngest was my great-grandmother Jane Dunstan (1871–1954).

I figured out the answer to Randy's question by recalling that for two previous Saturday Night Genealogy Fun challenges he had asked readers to determine their female and male ancestors' ages at death.  All I had to do was find the two posts (from 2016) and look at the results I had computed then.

I had one female ancestor who died at a similar age as that of Frederick Dunstan, but I don't have a documented birth date for my great-great-grandmother Esther Leah (Schneiderman) Gorodetsky, who is my maternal grandmother's paternal grandmother.  I have her date of death from metrical records of Kishinev, Bessarabia, Russian Empire (December 10, 1908, adjusted from the Julian calendar still in use at that time in the Russian Empire), but I don't know when or where she was born.  My estimate is that she died at about 34 years old.