Friday, May 31, 2024

My Father's Photos for World Bongo Day

As I have written previously, last October I received a huge photo bonanza from my sister in the form of scans of many (all?) of the photos that were collected from my father's house after he passed away in 2019.  I'm still(!) sorting through them all, but I have been able to somewhat sort some into little groups based on the subjects.

A lot of the photos seem to have been taken at a zoo or animal park, as they show animals in enclosures.  I did not recognize what species some of the animals were, so I went huning around on the Internet for answers.

A few photos showed some kind of deer-looking animal, which I think I have identified it as a bongo.  Today, May 31, is World Bongo Day, so that seemed an appropriate day to share these photos that my father took.  I didn't know about the bongo before investigating these photos, so I am a little more educated now.  I haven't figured out the birds or the other animals in the photos yet, though.

These are yet more photos that I don't know where or when they were taken, as my father was more than a little remiss in labeling his work.  I keep hoping someone will at least be able to figure out the location.  My best guess for these is the Florida Panhandle, probably near Fort Walton Beach.

Saturday, May 25, 2024

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: How Long Ago Was Your Last "Genealogy Happy Dance"?

Here's tonight's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun challenge from Randy Seaver:

Come on, everybody, join in and accept the mission and execute it with precision.

1.  One of the goals of every genealogy researcher is to solve difficult name and relationship problems — and traditionally we do a "genealogy happy dance" when we succeed.

2.  When was the last time you did a "genealogy happy dance" after solving one of your difficult problems?

3.  Share your story on your own blog or in a Facebook post.  Please share a link in Comments on this post if you write your own post.

Well, my last big "genealogy happy dance" has already been celebrated in my blog, and for Saturday Night Genealogy Fun no less.  That was when I posted two weeks ago about finding the marriage record for my great-great-grandparents Vigdor Gorodetsky and Esther Leya Shnayderman.  This was exciting not only because of the record itself but because it corroborated six hypotheses I had made during my research.

But I mentioned in that blog post that I had found several other records for my family and related lines in the same batch of records.  And I did genealogy happy dances for many of those also.

One in particular I am still excited about is the birth record for my cousin's great-great-grandfather.  Again, very cool just to find the record and have an exact birth date, but it provided his mother's name, which we did not have previously.  We learned that we had the wrong town for his birthplace.  And it is the oldest record I have from the Russian Empire for anyone in my family.

Record #20
Birth record for Aizik [Isaak] Belder
March 5, 1848 (Julian calendar; March 17 on Gregorian calendar)
Father Shimshon, mother Rivka
Proskurov, Proskurovsky Uyezd, Podolia, Russian Empire

So, yeah, I did the happy dance for this record too.

Saturday, May 18, 2024

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: Use FamilySearch Full-text Search

The challenge today from Randy Seaver for Saturday Night Genealogy Fun is valid for varying definitions of the word "fun."

Come on, everybody, join in and accept the mission and execute it with precision.

1.  Use the FREE FamilySearch Full-Text Search ( to find a record for one of your ancestors that is new to you.

2.  Share your results on your own blog or in a Facebook post.  Please share a link in Comments on this post if you write your own post.

I'm going to be a party pooper again, sorry.

Non sequitur:  Have you ever heard the party pooper song?
"Every party needs a pooper, that's why we invited you.
"Party pooper!  Party pooper!"

Okay, back on track.

First, I admit I had not tried to use the full-text search yet.  I hate blindly fishing around in records and much prefer to have an actual research plan.

That said, I did as Randy suggested and tried to find a new record for one of my ancestors.  I would have been happy to find a record for a relative on a collateral line.

No such luck.

I went to the link that Randy provided.  I noted that it said I would be browsing "US Land and Probate Records, Mexico Notary Records, Australia Land and Probate Records, New Zealand Land and Probate Records and US Plantation Records."  (I also noted that to the left it said, "Only two collections are currently available to browse . . . .", so something is out of date.)

I decided I would try to find something in the plantation records by using as a keyword one of the locations I am researching in the part of my family that was enslaved.  So I typed in "upatoi" (a location in Georgia) and let 'er rip.

I got a total of 24 results.  Okay, that's pretty manageable.

Then I looked at the filters.

I had options of Collection, Year, Place, and Record Type.

The first one I tried to use to narrow down my hits was Place.  The only option was United States of America, which applied to all 24 hits.  Okay, that's useless.

I looked at Collection.  That gave me choices of "Alabama, Wills and Deeds, ca. 1700s-2017 (1)", "Georgia, Wills and Deeds, ca. 1700s-2017 (4)", "Pennsylvania, Wills and Deeds, ca. 1700s-2017 (1)", and "United States, Indenture Records, 1600-2001 (18)."

As I was hoping to find information about plantation records, I chose the Georgia wills and deeds.

Boy, was I disappointed.

Nothing about plantation records.  Nothing even in the 19th century.  "Muscogee, Georgia, United States Will 1949", "Muscogee, Georgia, United States Will 1955", "Marion, Georgia, United States Deed, Mortgage 1965", and "Marion, Georgia, United States Deed, Mortgage 1960."

Okay, let's look at the indenture records.

Of the 18 records, 16 are titled "Riverdale Cemetery, Columbus, Muscogee, Georgia, United States Enslavement, Cemetery" followed by a year ranging from 1881 to 1952.  Two are "Georgia, United States Enslavement, Cemetery 1921", and you can see from the teaser text that they're the same item.  So none of these years is during the period of chattel slavery in this country, which officially ended in 1865.  And I don't understand why cemetery records are listed under indenture records.  But I gamely clicked on the first result to see what it would show me.

The first link said it was for 1881.  The page told me it was a full transcript from "Riverdale Cemetery.  Cemetery Records 1866–2000, Enslavement Records 1866–2000."  Um, say what?  What enslavement records begin in 1866, the year *after* slavery officially ended?  And the record itself was an obituary for a man born in 1881 in Alabama.  The obit mentioned he had celebrated his 50th anniversary, so figure he was at least 70 years old; that means that he died about 1951.  Sure, it's a record having to do with Riverdale Cemetery, but saying it's for 1881 is misleading at best and a train wreck at worst.  How is this supposed to be helpful to me?

I clicked on the first link for "Georgia, United States Enslavement, Cemetery 1921" to see if it was any better.  It was listed as a full transcript from "Georgia.  Cemetery Records 1866–2000, Enslavement Records 1866–2000."  Okay, same logic problem as the previous one.  This was also an obit.  This man was born in 1877 in Upatoi and died at 82, so it's from about 1959.  The 1921 that shows up in the link name?  "The aldermanic form was government was abandoned in Columbus in 1921."  Even less relevant than the first link I tried!

I then tried to cut down on the number of hits.  I had "upatoi" as my keyword, so I added "crawford" (one of my family names).  Silly me, I thought the search engine would search for records where both words appeared and cut down the number of hits, maybe even to zero.

I was wrong.

Instead of 18 results, I now had 6,760.  It would appear that adding a term causes the search engine to return results with either of the search terms, not both of them.  I did note that if you add a plus sign in front of a term, it will include that term.  When I searched for +upatoi and +crawford, I had no results.  Well, I did cut it down to zero!

I tried one last search.  I used "slaves" as my keyword.  I had 446,052 results.  I restricted the place to Marion County, Georgia, and the number of results dropped to 41.  The links were to wills and deeds ranging from 1846 to 1862 as far as the period of slavery was concerned, but several titles listed years after 1865 and even into the 20th century.  I clicked a link to one that was titled "Marion, Georgia, United States Deed, Mortgage 1936."  The image was said to be from "Marion.  Deeds 1845–1965, Mortgages 1845–1965."  It was actually from 1858–1859.  I did not find "1936" anywhere in it; the closest was "one hundred thirty six."

I went back to the search results page and added "kinchafoonee" (another location associated with the family), and the results stayed at 41.  Since my previous attempt at adding a name appeared to indicate that the search engine was returning results with either search term, I interpreted this to mean that none of the records for Marion County include Kinchafoonee in the text, or at least not with that spelling.  When I added a plus sign in front of each term, I had no results, so my interpretation appeared to be correct.

I never even saw anything with results that said they were from plantation records.  I suspect that the only way to get those is with the plantation owner's name.  Since I still have not found the name of a single slaveholder in my family, I guess I won't be getting far with those.  I did not see a way to focus my browsing on just one set of records included in the full-text search.

Obviously, the advantage of the full-text search is that it's creating a searchable database of words from handwriting, which is very cool, and that you don't have to wait for a real index.  On the other hand, it's like putting a search term into Google, which used to be great but has been getting worse for quite some time.  You get results with your search term (well, if you're lucky; nowadays Google routinely returns results with no appearance of your search term anywhere on the page), but the context could be anything.  An index gives you context.  And yes, I admit I am very biased, because I'm an indexer.

After this dismal experience, I am reminded of a study I read about many years ago.  Researchers observed people searching for information.  The people searching used an index or did a general text search, such as by using Google.

Even though search results were consistently better and desired information was found more quickly when using the index, the majority of searchers, when allowed to choose the search method, defaulted to doing a general text search the majority of the time.  When it was pointed out to them that the results were better with the index, the response was that it was simply easier to do the general search, and they didn't care that the results were not as good.  Me, I care.  My time is valuable.

I am very happy for Randy that he found five new records for his ancestor.  After seeing my search results, I think I'm going to wait for actual searchable indices for these record collections.  I get tired of beating my head against the wall after a while.

Addendum:  I decided to try one last time, with one of the unique surnames I am researching.  My aunt's paternal grandfather changed his name when he became a U.S. citizen.  He made up a name, which is unique to that family.  If I find that name, it's my aunt's family.  I searched for that name in the database and got a grand total of two hits:  my aunt's great-grandmother's will and her probate.  The reason the name showed up is because my aunt's mother (the granddaughter of the deceased) was named in the will under her married name.  Because it's a unique name, it allowed me to find the will, so that's a new record!  Yay, I found one, even if for my aunt's ancestor and not mine!  And now I know when her great-grandmother died, which is new information.

Sunday, May 12, 2024

Celebrating My Stepmother for Mother's Day

Today, May 12, is Mother's Day.  By coincidence, May 12 was also my stepmother's birthday, so I decided to write about her this year for Mother's Day.

Virginia Ann "Ginny" Daugherty (if I remember correctly, she pronounced it "dockerty") was born May 12, 1932 in Cuyahoga Falls, Cuyahoga County, Ohio.  Her parents were Clarence Elmer Daugherty and Clara Margaret Petro.

My father was her second husband; she was my father's third wife.  They were married December 4 (my father's birthday), 1980 in Niceville, Okaloosa County, Florida.  Their marriage lasted longer than my father's first two marriages combined.

She and my father lived in several different places — many cities in the Florida panhandle, Ohio, Texas — but their last residence was Mary Esther, Florida.  That's where they were living when my father passed away in 2019.

Ginny could not live by herself at that point, so after he died, my stepbrother Don took her to Texas to live with him and his wife.  She died a year and a half later, on December 18, 2020.

Ginny was a sweet, caring person who was a joy to be around.  We all miss her very much.

Saturday, May 11, 2024

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: A Genealogy Fun Day

There's nothing like an open-ended invitation to write about almost anything, which is what we have tonight from Randy Seaver for Saturday Night Genealogy Fun.

Come on, everybody, join in and accept the mission and execute it with precision.

1.  When was the last time you had genealogy fun?  It could be research, conferences, a society meeting, or just talking with friends about your research, a favorite trip, etc.  Tell us about a recent genealogy fun day!

2.  Share your answers on your own blog or in a Facebook post.  Please leave a link on this post if you write your own post.

I have had lots of genealogy fun the past two days!

Recently the Ukraine Research Division of JewishGen (the self-proclaimed home of Jewish genealogy on the Web) announced that it had uploaded a bunch of records from several different locations, including (finally!) Kamenets-Podolsky (formerly in Russia; current name Kamianets-Podilskyi, Ukraine).  I was very excited, as that is where I have always been told my maternal grandmother's father's family was from, but I had no documents from there showing their names.  I actually had not been optimistic about ever finding any, due to a significant fire several years ago that affected the archive there.

So I searched using the form on the JewishGen home page, looking for Gorodetsky (my great-grandfather's original surname) in Ukraine.

And I found my great-great-grandparents' marriage record!!!

Record #109 (bottom)
Marriage record for Vigdor Gorodetsky and Esther Leya Shnayderman
August 17, 1888 (Julian calendar; August 29 on Gregorian calendar)
Kamenets-Podolsky, Podolia, Russian Empire
(image has been edited to crop out other records on the page)

Not only was this exciting because, hey, it's a new family record, but it actually corroborated several hypotheses I had made over the years.

• I had guessed my great-great-grandmother's maiden name to be Schneiderman, based on correlating a lot of information from multiple generations of relatives.  Correct!

• I had guessed that her father's name was Joine (pronounced yoy-ne) after looking at naming patterns in my family.  Correct!

• I had estimated the marriage to have taken place before 1891.  It was in 1888.  Correct!

• I had guessed that the marriage should have taken place in Kamenets-Podolsky.  Correct!

• I had estimated my great-great-grandfather's birth year to be between 1864 and 1868.  He was listed as 25 at the time of the marriage, putting his birth year about 1863–1864.  Damned close!

• And I had estimated my great-great-grandmother's birth year to be between 1868 and 1874.  She was listed as 21 at the time of the marriage, putting her birth year about 1867–1868.  Also damned close!

It is great to have my logic substantiated by the actual record.

And on top of that, I have also found two dozen additional records — births, marriages, divorces, deaths, revision lists (kind of like a census) — for my Schneiderman and related lines, including Kardish and Belder.  I have been staying up way too late for the past couple of days because I can't tear myself away from the computer.

Genealogy fun?  Absolutely!  I've been doing the genealogy happy dance for two days!

Thank you, Randy, for giving us a topic tonight that allowed me to write about my cool discovery!

Sunday, May 5, 2024

Yom HaShoah: Remembering the Lost

Yom HaShoah falls on 27 Nisan of the Jewish calendar, which measures days from sunset to sunset.  This year on the Christian calendar it began at sunset today, May 5, and will end at sunset on May 6.  It is the annual day of remembrance to commemorate the fates of the approximately 6 million Jewish victims of the Holocaust during World War II.

The following are my family members I have been told died in the Holocaust.  All of them are from the Mekler/Nowicki branch of my family and lived in what was Grodna gubernia in the Russian Empire (now in Belarus).  May their memory be for a blessing.

Beile Dubiner
Eliezer Dubiner
Herschel Dubiner
Moishe Dubiner
Sore (Mekler) Dubiner
Aidel Goldsztern
Golda Goldsztern
Josef Goldsztern
Pearl (Gorfinkel) Goldsztern
Tzvi Goldsztern
Esther Golubchik
Fagel Golubchik
Lazar Golubchik
Peshe (Mekler) Golubchik
Pinchus Golubchik
Yechail Golubchik
Mirka (Nowicki) Krimelewicz
— Krimelewicz
Beile Szocherman
Chanania Szocherman
Mobsza Eli Szocherman
Perel Szocherman
Raizl (Perlmutter) Szocherman
Zlate Szocherman

Mirka Krimelewicz's name on the passenger list for my
great-great-grandparents Gershon and Dobra Nowicki, as
their nearest relative in the country they immigrated from in 1922.
She was their daughter and the sister of my great-grandmother.
This is the only documentation I have of her name and of her existence.

Saturday, May 4, 2024

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: Make a Descendants List for Second-great-grandparents

This week's challenge from Randy Seaver for Saturday Night Genealogy Fun is almost something I can do from memory, at least for some of my family lines (okay, only on my mother's side).

Come on, everybody, join in and accept the mission and execute it with precision.

1.  How complete is your family tree?  Do you have information about your cousins, both close and more distant?  Today's challenge is to take one set of your 2nd-great-grandparents and make a descendants list (using your genealogy management program, e.g., Family Tree Maker, RootsMagic, etc.).

2.  Tell us about your choice of 2nd-great-grandparents and tell us approximately how many descendants of them that you have in your family tree database.  Share your answers, and perhaps a chart, on your own blog or in a Facebook post.  Please leave a link on this post if you write your own post.

And here's mine:

My family line with the most people on it for this exercise was the Dunstans, which surprised me.  I expected it to be the Gauntts.  Both of these are on my father's side.

The format that Randy used is called an Outline Descendant Report in Family Tree Maker, which is the program that I primarily use.  For this report FTM automatically set the number of generations at 99, which I didn't change.  It turned out to be six generations anyway, the same number of generations that Randy used.

Starting with my 2nd-great-grandparents Frederick Cleworth Dunstan (1840–1873) and Martha Winn (1837–1884), the result was 12 pages with about 20 descendant names on each page, so roughly 240 descendants total.  This is the first page of that report:

On my mother's side, the family with the most descendants was the Gordons (originally Gorodetsky).  The report for those 2nd-great-grandparents, Victor Gordon (circa 1866–1924) and Esther Leah Schneiderman (circa 1871–1908), ran nine pages.  It had about 25 descendant names on each page, so roughly 225 descendants overall.

The shortest report was for my paternal grandfather's paternal line.  As I still have not determined who his biological father was, that line stops with my grandfather.  The report was only four pages.  I was surprised to see that when I did take it back two additional generations of Sellerses, the report only increased to six pages total.  I admit I am not doing research on the Sellers line anymore, so that may be why.