Monday, September 15, 2014

Fall is just around the corner.

Ahhh! Summer is over and the grass and weeds in the yard have finally stopped growing. Now we can get down to some fall/winter research and blogging. More time on the computer; less time on the lawn mower.

I noticed at the pump today that now that the genealogy conferences are coming to an end for the year, the price of gas has gone way down. At least it has here in northwest Ohio. $3 and under. 

Our Kroger stores stopped double coupons a few months ago making it difficult to save money on groceries. And I don't even want to talk about the price of meat. But there are a couple of good things to look forward to. Between now and Thanksgiving the Sunday papers will be loaded with coupon inserts. This is the time of the year for the best coupons and the best match-ups. Once Thanksgiving is over all that good stuff disappears. From then on they know you have to buy those holiday party foods regardless of the price. Remember to stock up early.

The other money saver is gift cards. Kroger always has good deals on these, giving you 4X the fuel points in many cases. You can take advantage of this in two ways. Give everyone a gift card. Or buy gift cards for yourself to use to buy Christmas gifts. Either way you make out.

But back to genealogy. Something great is about to happen and it will save you money on travel expenses normally incurred when you attend a conference. Family Tree is offering a Virtual Conference on September 19 - 21, 2014. Fifteen classes for one low cost of $199.99. In my Family Tree Magazine September issue there is a discount code worth $30 off. The code I have is FTMFALLVC. This discount expires on the 21st. You can make your own schedule and participate in live chats. You can attend the event in your jammies and fuzzy slippers and you get a "swag bag" of freebies. It doesn't get much better. 

For more information and to register go to http://www.familytreeuniversity.com/virtual-conference/
 
 

Monday, August 18, 2014

Oh Canada!

It is so strange that here in Northwest Ohio we are so close to the Canadian border,  but seldom do any of us take into consideration that our roots could be in Canada. Those of us who live in Lucas County and have boats on Lake Erie are well aware that there is a border out there in the middle of the lake. It used to be that all you needed to have on board was your drivers license or birth certificate -- just something to prove you are a United States Citizen.

When I was in high school we traveled back and forth across the bridge or through the tunnel from Detroit to Windsor all the time. No big deal. When we all grew up and got married we piled everyone into a limo and headed to Windsor for bachelorette and bachelor parties.

And that is the way it was until September 11, 2001  Then everything changed. We still have a lot of Canadian money in our pockets but now we need a passport to head across the bridge or the lake to Canada.

So why do we think that none of our ancestors ever freely crossed the Canadian border like we used to do? Ask anyone around here if they think that any of their ancestors ever came here from Canada and the answer will usually be "no". Ask anyone from around here if they know anything about Canadian genealogy research and the answer will be a resounding "no".

Lucas County, Ohio, USA, borders on Essex County, Ontario, Canada!! Hello??!!!

So I was so excited when I found out that Who Do You Think You Are was going to deal with Canadian research. Rachel McAdams and her sister, Kayleen,  have ancestors who came to America from England and settled on land in northern New York. They were Loyalists. Loyal to the Crown of England.

There were two sides to the American Revolution and sometimes we tend to forget this when we go back into the 1700's to research our ancestors.Eventually Rachel's ancestors fled to Canada where they stayed even though they were originally living in the 13 Colonies. I can only assume that at one time they were very confident that England would defeat the rebels. After all, England was a superpower! How hard it must have been for those families to accept defeat. To lose their land and all they had worked for in the new world!

I hate to admit that I am one of those who know nothing about Canadian research, but if you think that you have Canadian roots, this episode of WDYTYA is worth your viewing time. Probably more than once because there is so much information here.

Don't ever assume anything in genealogy. It is so easy to view your ancestors through your eyes, your values, your politics, your lifestyle! Remember all of your ancestor's traits have combined to make you what you are today. Research your family with one thing in mind - to find out who you think you really are.




Thursday, August 7, 2014

Help! We are living in the 1800's!!

My granddaughter woke me up this morning with the announcement that we have a water emergency. Do not use any city water until further notice. I, of course, responded immediately by throwing the covers over my head and going back to sleep! Problem solved -- until I realized that I couldn't sleep and I had to face reality.

First thought was to brush my teeth, shower, get dressed and head to Kroger for 20 cases of bottled water. Wrong. Cannot drink the water, wash dishes, shower (absolutely no skin contact with the water), do laundry. Nothing. Bring on the Hydroapocalypse!

So my granddaughter and I just sat in the living room and stared at each other. Apparently the pioneer spirit does not pass from generation to generation in our family! Since we are creatures of habit, we found that our hands were trying to get water out of the faucets. So the first thing we did was cover all our faucets with plastic bags. That rendered them useless. The faucets, not the plastic bags.

Brushing out teeth with bottled water was relatively simple but the thought of washing my face with expensive bottled water didn't fly. And hydrating my dog with designer water sounded so "House Wives of Wherever." Then I remembered the water from the hose in the back yard is from a well. That became our source of water for the next three days.

The pioneer spirit that I inherited from my ancestors finally rose to the surface. It started out quite simply at first but by sunset, we were rocking! We were bringing water from the well into the kitchen. I poured it, as we needed it, into an old fashioned-looking bowl in the sink. Who needs city water when you can just go out to the well. Ok, maybe not out to the well, but to the hose outside the back door. Close enough. 

This whole situation which is probably going to go on for another 24 hours has given me a whole new outlook on the role that water plays in our everyday lives. And I can now see how important it was in our ancestor's lives. A river, a stream, a creek, a lake, an ocean. These sources of water determined where our ancestors set up camp.

Water could be a way to travel to a new world. A way to escape persecution. 
It could be a way to transport tobacco from Cincinnati to New Orleans. 

Water could determine where a pioneer family settled. It determined where large cities and small towns were located. 

And, of course, don't forget if you add some limestone to the sparking water of that mountain creek, you've got moonshine.

Right now the people who live in the Northwest Ohio/Lower Michigan area have received a wake-up call. We took for granted that Lake Erie was an unlimited source of fresh water and all we had to do was reposition a faucet in order for water to run freely into our homes. 

That can change overnight. And, we have all found out that it doesn't hurt to have a couple cases of water stored in the garage in case of emergency. Another thing I personally learned is that I can use this well water for something beside watering flowers. I can use it for cleaning. I can keep a bowl of well water in the kitchen sink to rinse dishes, dish cloths. My dog can drink it. In other words I have found a way to save $$ on my water bill. Every little bit helps.

So it wasn't such a bad experience after all. It was a learning experience.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

All The Basics Plus Deceit and Murder!!

What a great beginning for the 5th season of Who Do You Think You Are. If this episode was any indication of things to come, this could turn out to be one of the show's best seasons. 

Cynthia Nixon, of Sex and The City, was the first celebrity to research her family this year in the popular genealogy series. Maybe I am getting used to the fast paced genealogy research, but it seemed like this episode was a little easier to follow. Yes, I know, she traveled around the country from New York to Missouri in search of her ancestors - something most of can't afford to do and one of the major complaints of viewers. But, it is necessary to show what research opportunities are available in the various libraries and repositories throughout the country.

One thing I noticed was the research was easy to follow and covered many basics for beginning genealogists. For example:  census records from 1850 on, marriage records, death certificates, military records and, cemeteries.

In addition it proved that newspapers are valuable tools for genealogical research. Social events, weather, local news, weddings, funerals, births, war casualties are all there within the pages of the local edition. And don't forget this is where you find all the misfits and scallywags in your family. Was there an abolitionist, suffragette, or prohibitionist in your family. Check your local newspaper.

Cynthia found that there were questions to be answered when she examined the census records for her family. Most census records are fairly basic: mom, dad, kids, and maybe an in-law or two. But occasionally there will be a census record that stands out as unusual. Like a few clergy with a bunch of young children. Orphanage perhaps? A couple with several men and women who have different surnames. A boarding house possibly.  An older women with a bunch of young women having different surnames. Definitely not a boarding house. There can be many clues to your ancestors lifestyles buried in the pages of the census records.

The questions that Cynthia found in the census led to research in military records, court records, and prison records. It also led to a discussion of women's rights and the difficulty of researching female ancestors.

So once again we encounter "the dash". That period of time between birth and death. In Cynthia Nixon's case we found the life of a very strong female ancestor. Since it is early in the season and I am sure this episode will be repeated, I am going to leave it here without a spoiler alert!  

If you want to see what happens you can wait for the repeat or check it out online.  http://www.tlc.com/tv-shows/who-do-you-think-you-are
 
The next episode with Jesse Tyler Ferguson will air on Wednesday, July 30, 2014. 9/8c.  

 

Monday, July 21, 2014

So where do you go from here?

Thinking back on my adventures in family history there were no steps, numbered one to ten, that I took in order to reach my goals. It was kind of haphazard. A little bit here; a little bit there. Fantastic discoveries. Huge brick walls. There is no check list when you are researching your ancestors. They didn't live by a "check list" and you won't find them by using  a check list. 

By the time you decide that you need to find your ancestors, most of your older relatives will have passed on. Don't feel bad, it happens to all of us. Just in case you have a few family members left who are older than you, this is your chance to get a lot of misinformation. I can hear you questioning this statement. Why would you want misinformation? Because it contains a lot of clues.

There are times when I really believe that family folklore and gossip have more bits and pieces of accurate information than those wonderful family biographies that you find in atlases and county centennial books. After all, our ancestors wanted to make their families look better than the family that lived next door or down the road. So, the authors embellished the family histories with war heroes and wealthy landowners. Yup, a lot of our great grandfathers were close personal friends of General Grant.

After you have found your oldest living relative, you will need to set up a time for a little get together and interview session. If you have an audio recorder, this is the best way to gather information. If your have to stop to take notes you are going to miss something. Also, with a recorder you can go back and listen to the recording in a month or year or two. Serendipity says your relative will add something you did not hear before. 

You can work from a form that you create or you can go to CyndisList.com and search for video or audio interviews with family members. I would suggest that you check what is on Cyndi's List and add your own questions. 

But what happens if you are your oldest living relative? Simple. You pick a form or two and answer the questions. And feel free to enter any other memories that pop into your mind. Also, think about some of those past Christmas dinners when your family was gathered around the table after dinner. If you had a big family like mine, this was the time when the aunts and uncles talked about the good old days. Write down everything you remember, no matter how trivial. Someday it may be the clue that breaks through a brick wall.

Of course the best oral history scenario is being able to gather together two or more older family members. That way you can just sit back and let them talk. Don't forget to encourage them to bring out their old family pictures from the closet -- that will trigger many memories. 

Once you have all the memories recorded, it is time to head to the next level. 

But instead, we are going to take a detour and head in another direction for a while -- into the world of the professional genealogist! The first episode of Who Do You Think You Are will air on TLC this Wednesday, July 23, 2014 at 9/8c. Whether you are just beginning to trace your family or have been doing it for decades, there is always something new to learn. 

As usual I will comment on each episode and use it as a learning experience. Please remember this is an hour program with commercials and a lot of research is squeezed into that time period. WDYTYA only shows you what you can accomplish. It does not show you how many hours of research it takes to get there.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Back to the Basics!

Recently someone asked me a very simple question. "How do I get started in genealogy?" "Do local groups offer beginning genealogy classes online?"

Wow, that was a wake up call! I really had to stop and think about the answer and the more I explored it in my mind the more I realized that after almost 60 years of being exposed to my family history, I couldn't answer that question.

Well, yes of course, I could give the standard generic answer: Yes, I know a few people who give beginning genealogy courses at the local community colleges. These instructors are very good at what they do and I would highly recommend them.

But I didn't get started that way and in my mind I needed to know the difference. My family tree was mailed to me in an envelope. It contained all the names and dates and sources I needed to become a Daughter of The American Revolution (DAR). I am still not a member, but, today, I know a lot more about my ancestors than those few facts on that application. I know "the dash"!

So here is my advice if you are just starting out. You need to locate as much information about your family as you can get your hands on. Everything from facts to family folklore. How do you do this? Simple! 

Before you sign up for that beginning genealogy class -- declutter your house. I know, you are now saying that decluttering your house has nothing to do with family history. Bet me Buckwheat!

You get used to living with all that stuff! Like birth certificates, funeral home cards, letters, Christmas cards, pictures (maybe even some with the people identified), baptismal records, baby books, journals (if you're lucky), high school year books, envelopes with a name and address stuck in an old cookbook, post cards from World War I or II, naturalization papers, a receipt from a local store. It all depends on your family and hopefully they were all pack rats!

Once you have found all of these bits and pieces of information you will have a foundation on which you can build your genealogical research. You have yourself, your parents, hopefully your grandparents, and some locations and dates. Now you can go to a beginning genealogy class.

So, you are saying -- what is the difference. Why not go to the class first? Because if you have a little bit of research under your belt when you walk into that classroom, you can say - this is what I found - where do I go from here. And, also you know what a source of information looks like.

It is like you can't bake a cake unless you have some of the ingredients already in your pantry. Granted, you might have to run back to another store to get the rest of what you need. But you will know what you are missing and you will be able to figure out where you can get it. And eventually you will be able to have your cake and eat it too.

That is how genealogy research works. Some times it is two steps forward and one step back. 

Wait, I take that back -- it is always two steps forward and one step back.
So how do you deal with that problem? You connect with other genealogists!

Next: Where do I go from here?

Monday, June 16, 2014

Daughters of 1812

If you live in northern Ohio, close to the shores of Lake Erie, you no doubt know Put-In-Bay, The Perry Monument, The Jet Express, The Roundhouse,  Pat Daily, the Mills Race, Port Clinton, Kelley's Island.  You know all the fun things about boating on Lake Erie.  But did you know you also might have ancestors who fought in The War of 1812! 

In my case I live in northwest Ohio and have spent many hours boating on Lake Erie both on the American side and the Canadian side. And I do have an ancestor who fought in the War of 1812. I never even considered it because my northern Ohio ancestors didn't arrive here until well after 1812. As it turns out my ancestor who fought along side Commodore Perry was from Kentucky!!

Imagine that. Now all of a sudden Put-In-Bay takes on a whole new image.

The Daughters of 1812 will be holding a preliminary meeting to organize a Chapter in the Toledo and the Erie/Huron County Area 
This will be a luncheon meeting at the 1812 Restaurant in the Island Hotel at 102 Madison St., Port Clinton at 11:30 AM on Saturday, June 28.


We invite you to attend and find out more about the Daughters of 1812 and hopefully we can answer any questions that you may have about joining our Society.

For more information contact:




Sharon Myers

Ohio Society Daughters of 1812

State Registrar


armshome@aol.com

Note: Sorry about getting this information out on time. Computer Gremlin Problem is my only explanation.