Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Where Have All The Genealogists Gone?

During 2016 I noticed that genealogy just wasn't there for me anymore. At first I attributed it to burnout from being involved in to many activities. So I slowly cut back on everything I was doing, but it still just wasn't restoring my motivation. So I thought well eventually after 60 years of research you just reach your limit and it is time to stop. That was when I decided that this is the reason so many genealogy groups are losing members. They just wear out!!

And then Thomas MacEntee appeared with the solution. A Genealogy Do-Over. I am not sure where I first learned about this idea but it really got my attention. And apparently it got the attention of many others too. My Facebook page is now filled with more genealogy posts than political rants. (A rather unexpected benefit.)

The concept of this year long project is to completely purge your files and start from scratch. Now you don't throw all those notes away. No. You pack them up in boxes and totally clean up your research. Then you put them in the back of the closet and stack other boxes on top of them so it will be way too labor intensive to get to them. I chose Christmas boxes that I will not need until December.

What a great feeling! Have you ever downsized. I did; when my husband died. Mainly because there was only one person living in my house now and I really didn't need a lot of stuff. I mean how many coffee cups can I use in a week. How many frying pans? Huge bowls? I don't think so.

As I went thru my files (by the way I love paper, so they were real files with folders) I found so much garbage and duplicates. Plus I found stuff I had no idea where it came from. I am sure this came from the advent of genealogy by computer. I began to realize what was bogging me down. All this paper had become overwhelming and pretty much zapped my genealogy motivation. I had been trying to prove to several lineage societies but I was working with a disorganized mess. 

I am now beginning to wonder if this is something that is happening to most genealogists and that is why they are disappearing. They are losing interest in this exciting hobby. We have been on overload because of all the information out there. It is hard to focus and you just bounce from one thing to another. 

If you want to reboot your research I would highly recommend that you check out this website

It will tell you how to get started, buy the workbook and connect with others who are enjoying this year long adventure. Don't worry if you are a couple of months behind. I started in January and in a few days was hit with the tragic loss of a newborn grandson. That pretty much knocked me out for over a month. But I am back at it now and making adjustments in the program in order to catch up with everyone.

In my next post I will talk about a fun idea I am going to do with Who Do You Think You Are. The new season starts on March 5 and I have decided to approach it with the mindset of a beginning genealogist.

Oh! I Would Love to Live in That Old House. Really?

We've all done it. Bought a ticket to that Historic Home Tour and traveled back in time. We step onto the floor of that beautiful porch and imagine ourselves sitting in that magnificent wicker rocker with a cup of tea, contemplating the day before us. 

As we drift back in time we imagine how romantic our lives would be. We each see ourselves as we float up the stairs, don our beautiful Victorian gowns, arrange our hair in a typically perfect pouf with flowers expertly placed in all the right places. Then we carefully place a charming bonnet on our perfectly charming hair, tie the ribbon in a perfectly charming bow and pose on our perfectly charming front porch as we wait for Mr. Right. 

POOF. Mr. Wright appears as our host for the home tour. He is the owner of the home and he is very proud of his restoration projects.  He is not what we expected. He does not look like Christopher Reeves, but then, we don't look like Jane Seymour and unfortunately we are not Somewhere in Time. We are back in 2017. In a house that has been lovingly restored.

We are in a home that was built around 100 -175 years ago. It was created as a place where a family could comfortably live. More than likely a large family. It needed a few parlors, a kitchen, a summer kitchen, bedrooms and unless you had indoor plumbing, an outhouse somewhere in the back yard. It served a purpose; it was not a museum. It was a home where families were born and died. Where ownership exchanged hands. 

That home on the river that was always known as the Carter home became the Perkins home. And later on, the Brown's home and then the house on the hill that became an eyesore and everyone complained about. But then one day Mr. Wright came along and fell in love with the house. He wanted to restore it to its original beauty.

And now we are waiting patiently to  admire Mr. Wright's home. He shows us all the ways he and his wife have restored this home. Authentic this, that and the next thing. If he had his way there would be no electricity. Seriously? And how does your wife feel about that? No electricity, you say? The first thing that comes to my mind is washer, dryer, stove, refrigerator, air conditioning, TV, hair dryer, computer, microwave. Ouch! 

But the next thing that comes to mind is ---this was at one time someone's home. It was a place where the bride was carried across the threshold. Children were born and loved and hugged and made to feel so special. Mothers gave birth and cried for children that died. Fathers were strong and held the family together.

The circle of life continued. Modern improvements were made. Indoor plumbing! Electricity. Telephones, remember those party lines. Radio was so awesome. Soap operas. Measles. Polio. Cable TV. Computers. Cell phones.

On June 17, 2017, in Waterville, Ohio, you will have a chance to go back in time and dream. See how your ancestors might have lived. Enjoy the beauty of a beautifully restored Victorian home. Maybe see a ghost or two peeking at you from behind a door. Use your imagination!

Waterville, Ohio, is located on the Maumee River south of Toledo. The Historic Homes of Waterville tour will be from 10am - 4pm on Saturday, 17 June 2017. More information will be published on the Waterville Historical Society website during the next few months 

Hope to see you there. 

Thursday, January 12, 2017

What if . . . . . . .?

This past week my family had to deal with a lot of "what ifs". My grandson came into this world with his angel wings on January 5. Each of us have had moments when we asked ourselves, each other and the hospital staff "what if we/I had done this or that"? The answer was always the same -- It wouldn't have changed things. Really?

I got to thinking about this "text book" answer that I assume is supposed to make you feel better and, of course, the genealogy lobe of my brain took over. Not only could I see that it might not really be true, but it gave me a whole new research concept.

What If. . . . . . . . . .? 

As I sat all alone in my living room I thought about what had just happened and I slowly realized that there was a time when the end result of pregnancy was not a given. Mothers died. Babies died. Mothers appeared and disappeared in the census records. Other women took their place and then they were gone. Widowers married sister-in-laws and widows just to be able to to maintain the household and take care of the surviving children. Yes, surviving! Birth was not a free ticket to adulthood.

And then it dawned on me. What if my sister would not have been stillborn. I am sure my life would have been a lot different. I would not be an only child. I would have nieces and nephews. Or maybe I wouldn't even be here at all.

What if my grandmother would not have immigrated from Germany. None of us would be here. What if they would not have left Russia? Let's not go there.

What if my grandmother would not have fallen out of the hayloft, suffered a miscarriage and died that afternoon? My dad might have stayed in Clermont County and never would have met my mom. 

What if. . . . . . .?

So how does this become a genealogy tool? Well! Let's think about those brick walls. What if there was a "what if"? What if this had not happened where would my ancestor be? What if something happened that created a fork in the road? Maybe you took the wrong fork in your research. Maybe you didn't know there was another fork. 

What if there was a war? What if your ancestor was looking for religious freedom? What if there was no way across that mountain? What if there was gold in California? What if your ancestor killed someone and headed west to disappear? What if your ancestor had to return to the Old Country to take care of family members? What if your ancestor just went on vacation for a few years!?

"What ifs" create detours in genealogy research. Maybe you missed that right turn. Think about what was going on that might have created a "what if". Look at your genealogy problem from a different angle.

Unfortunately  in our case we have already experienced the "what if" and no amount of wishful thinking will bring our littlest angel back. The "what ifs" have already happened and that chapter in our family tree has been written.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

A common ancestor?

I just had a thought. Like this is strange, right? It happens a lot, out of the blue, for who knows what reason.

I really don't know what made me put this thought together in my head, but then most of the time I refuse to be responsible for what happens between my ears and behind my eyes.

It has recently been called to my attention by a movie, The Internship, that if you want to work at Google you need something called googliness. I can believe this, but then I live in a village in Ohio.

So my question is this - Is googliness inherited? Is it in a person's DNA? Do the employees at Google all descend from a common ancestor? 

Ya gotta wonder.


Monday, September 12, 2016

I guess I am not alone

I am amazed at the number of people who were interested in my post about genealogy being a dangerous hobby. The hits on my blog multiplied before my eyes. It made me think that maybe this is a subject that needs to be examined.

I know that recently I have seen warnings in articles about DNA testing. Basically it says that you must be prepared to see results that you didn't expect or might be upsetting. 

So maybe the world of genealogy isn't as squeaky clean as we would like to think it is. We tend to see our ancestors as the most wonderful, loving people on the face of the earth. After all we are their descendants, and we have inherited all of their wonderful characteristics.  

As genealogists, we come across family folk lore all the time and we treat it as a clue to a documented fact, but maybe the rumor is more accurate than the actual vital record. 

A birth certificate only proves that the mother and child are related. If the mother is married the husband becomes the child's father, whether it is true or not. Once his name is on the birth certificate he becomes the father. 

See not everything is cut and dried. So once again we have the danger of genealogy research, but this time it is not because we have a group of people who don't want to be connected to their ancestors.

Instead we have a family member who might know the truth about a situation in the family and doesn't want to expose those family secrets. And how far will that person go to protect the family?

So do you expose those DNA results or not? 

Sometimes genealogy can be dangerous hobby!!

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Genealogy can be a dangerous hobby!

Oh Dear! It has happened again. I began researching what I thought would be a interesting topic for a genealogy lecture. The more I read about it the more fascinating it became. A friend of mine was also very interested in the subject matter and she started reading what was available online. And then something rather strange happened. It started to be a bit scary!

So you have to ask yourself "How can genealogy research be scary?" Trust me, I know the answer. There are people out there who do not want to be connected to their ancestors. Most of us find this hard to believe because we love those skeletons in our closets. They add a little something to our family trees. 

The group of people that we were researching were amazing, but extremely private and their descendants do not want anyone delving into their past. It didn't take long for us to get the message. Back off!! It is a shame, but we will respect their wishes. This brings up the question of how far can you go when researching your family?

Every family has problems and eventually you will be faced with them in your research. The skeletons in your family unfortunately leave the most records. Do you expose them or do you just pass over them with basic vital records like they had no "dash"? I guess it depends on whether or not you feel threatened. I know someone who was researching my mother's family who was threatened and dropped her research. 

We don't think of genealogy as a dangerous hobby or profession, but some times it can be. When you are threatened, or when you are asked to leave a cemetery and followed to make sure you do, or when the staff or maintenance workers at a cemetery clam up and refuse to talk about their "guests" it is time to drop that research and move on.

Will that family ever be found? Perhaps. As we move from generation to generation and further away from the problem memories fade. What once was a disgrace no longer seems so bad. Maybe a few years down the road this fascinating group of people will be the subject of may lectures. As for right now, I don't think so.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Ohio Tax Holiday Weekend

Just a reminder to all Ohio genealogists looking for "school supplies." September always seems like the beginning of genealogy season to me. Most groups take the summer months off so members can travel to places their ancestors lived, attend conferences, and visit repositories. So now it it time to get back to school (because we are always learning something new in the world of family research).

This weekend in Ohio all items that qualify as something needed for school are tax free. No customer will pay state or county taxes. And don't forget to hunt for coupons before you go.