Saturday, April 5, 2014

A Conference Option!

Ah, the NGS Conference. So far and yet so near. 

Why? Live streaming! The best of both worlds.

If you're like me this year and just can't make it to Virginia for the NGS 2014 Conference, you have the opportunity to virtually attend a part of the conference curled up on your couch, in your pj's, with a big bowl of popcorn.

Ten topics will be covered and they are separated into two tracks which can be bundled at a reduced rate. Track One: Records and Research Techniques.  Track Two: Virginia Resources and Migration Patterns.

The two tracks will be available live from the conference. They will also continue to be available for viewing for three months after the conference ends.

Cost for members is $65 per track (non-members -$80).
Bundled, the cost for members is $115 (non-members - $145).

The cost of a basic NGS Membership is $65. (You might want to add this to your wish list for Christmas and birthday presents.)

The deadline for registration is 30 April 2014. You will also receive an electronic version of the NGS 2014 Conference Syllabus. (It never hurts to have access to a NGS conference syllabus!)

I recommend that you look at the subject matter that is offered to make sure it something that will benefit your research. I see this as a good thing for those who cannot travel to the event, but it does take away that interaction and communication between family researchers that benefits us all.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Go West Young Genealogist!!

 As land became scarce along the Atlantic seaboard people began to move Westward! My ancestors on my dad's side of the family ventured into what is now West Virginia and down the Ohio River into Kentucky. Some headed west thru the Cumberland Gap and into Kentucky. Eventually they crossed the beautiful river into southwestern Ohio. And they stayed there.

My mom's side of the family left Germany and crossed the Atlantic. From there they ventured into Pennsylvania and New York. I am not yet sure how they got to northwestern Ohio, But eventually they settled in the Great Black Swamp. And they stayed there.

So I don't have people who moved to the wild, wild west. I wish I did. My family just stayed in Ohio and Kentucky. Granted, they did make the first trip westward. But once they got there they said "this looks good, let's settle here. We can drain the swamp. And we can live on them thar hills."

So I don't have cowboys, varmints, outlaws, cattle rustlers. No western ancestors. And I envy those who do have. I look at the people who settled the west as enduring unbelievable hardships and conditions. Just settling an unknown territory. I just can't imagine what it would be like to leave a comfortable home in Philadelphia and head west all alone. I confess. I watch Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman every night.  

But wait! Maybe I am not giving my ancestors the credit they deserve. My great, great grandfather was a sheriff in the 1800's in Clermont County. Sadly, just not the same as Marshall Wyatt Earp in the 1800's in Tombstone.

Nope! None of my ancestors,  Gone to Texas.

But maybe you are luckier than me. Maybe you have some Civil War vets that went to Texas; ancestors on the orphan trains between 1854 and 1929; perhaps a Mexican War ancestor. Are you wondering if there are Germans in Texas? Is there a rumor in your family about a cousin who fought at The Alamo? Perhaps you know you have ancestors there and need to find their land records. Or maybe you just want to know how they got to Texas in the first place. And, we all know, you just can not pass up the chance to hear J. Mark Lowe talk about Davy Crockett.

You know what I would do if I were you? I reckon I would head to San Antonio, Texas, for the 2014 FGS Conference. (August 27-30, 2014) I have been to several of the FGS Conferences and I highly recommend them. There is much to learn, much to do, and much to see. Always well organized and fun. For more information go to

You won't regret it! 

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Enough already! You can turn off the snow machine!

You gave us a hint of Spring yesterday and almost a foot of snow today!

Yesterday there were birds flying happily (Cardinals) and fighting fiercely (Blue Jays). Today they are nowhere to be found. Probably hunkered down like the rest of us. 

So Cabin Fever continues! But wait something is wrong with this picture because the genealogical traveling season is approaching. Conferences. Research trips. We can't do this in the snow. This has to stop. I want Spring on my desk at 6:00am tomorrow morning! No excuses!

In a little over a month many of us will be heading to Kalahari for a water park/genealogy conference. Then to Richmond, Virginia, for the NGS Conference. And, finally to San Antonio ,Texas for the FGS Conference. 

Unfortunately this year my water heater, car, and washing machine malfunctioned, so I am looking at Kalahari/OGS being my only conference this year. But I think it is going to be a great event and I am looking forward to "blogging" you through it.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Pictures Fill In The Dash!

I posted pictures of my late husband on Facebook on his birthday. It was a great hit with lots of feedback. Everyone loved seeing the pictures. And, they all knew who everyone was. In some cases they identified people in the pictures that I didn't know. Everyone relived memories. There were sad moments and happy memories. Eventually other people started posting their own pictures and soon Facebook was alive with memories.

It reminded me of the days when my aunts would get those boxes of pictures off the top shelf of the linen closet after Thanksgiving dinner and we would all sit around the dining room table and rewind history.

I remember those boxes of pictures. Those pictures brought back so many memories and images of people we never had the chance to meet. I loved sitting there in the 1940's at the old Victorian dining room tables that my aunts had inherited.

Since then our family has divided and multiplied and all of those pictures have scattered. And I can almost guarantee that only a small portion of the people in those photos have been identified.

I have no quick solution to this problem. I have started to make some progress by eliminating the "scenery" pictures. In my case that would be all those sunset pictures we took on the beach in Florida. And all those mountain pictures from out West. Just keep the pictures with family and friends. For me, this greatly reduced the amount of pictures in the big box. (By the way, friends do not include the wet t-shirt contestants on the beach during Spring Break.)

Once you get to this point I think we are all on our own. As for photo albums, I have a neighbor who has created beautiful scrapbooks of her family. Too labor intensive for me! I prefer the "throw everything into a box" method. That way you can put the box in the middle of the table and everyone can grab a picture. Just like we used to.

My point? Pictures are worth a thousand words, so I have been told. What better way to fill in the dash than with pictures of your ancestors. But it doesn't work if you can't identify them!

Friday, February 28, 2014

City Directories. The book you just can't put down!

City directories can be a source of some fascinating information about your ancestors. First of all everybody is listed alphabetically so you can find all your family members (or possible family members) in one spot.You can see which sons and daughters got married and are still living in their parents' home with their spouses and children (much like the census). But it will also show you the children who married and moved to another address. City directories give you a little compact snapshot of where your family was in a certain year. All living together and loving life!

So you say the city directories give you much of the same information that you might find in a census. This is true. But you can find the in-between years with the city directories. You may find a more detailed description of where your ancestors worked. If they owned the company, you will find that noted. You might also be able to determine when a person died or left the area.

But more than that you will see the life style of your family in the ads that make up the first part of the directory. Next there will be a section that will give you clues about where to look for records for your ancestors. Lists of churches, cemeteries, schools, organizations/clubs, to mention just a few.

Now lets go back and take a look at a Toledo, Ohio city directory from the early 1900's to get an idea of what my family's life was like back in the good old days.

Here is a wake up call. There were 2 high schools for the whole area. I had never heard of either one of them. So does this tell me there weren't that many teenagers in the area at that time or does it tell me that only a select few went on to high school? By the way, if you are looking for teenagers in this time period, the schools were Mann High School and Mitchell High School.

The primary schools and secondary schools taught students in two languages - English and German. This tells me there were a lot of German immigrants in the area. But it also raises the question of when did this stop. Was it the first world war? 

There was a Home for Friendless Women. Missing a female ancestor? This might be a place to look. But more importantly, why friendless women?

There were several orphan homes. Another place to look for an ancestor. But, again, why so many orphan homes.

There was a Babies' Home. There is only one question here and that is -- why?

As you can see there is much to be found in a local city directory. There are so many questions and so many clues. It will be like a book you cannot put down.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

We Are All Related

Ever wonder why when you attend a genealogy conference everyone is friendly. You can easily start a conversation with the person seated next to you at a lecture. You strike up a conversation in the library with total strangers. You step into an elevator and everyone treats you like a long lost relative. Well, the reason is because you probably are. Related, that is!

But are we and can we prove it? And when I say prove it, I don't mean because Aunt Emma said so.

A really great concept came into being a few years ago. It was the idea of cluster or sideways genealogy. Personally, I believe this is the only way to successfully trace your family. Yes, you have to trace your parents to parents to parents, but eventually if you are going to have to go sideways to break down those ever present brick walls. And this is when your family expands.

I have noticed lately that there are efforts to really expand our families into  one big colossal, ginormous family tree and just connect everyone. Granted, the further back you go, the less people you find. So eventually you are going to run out of ancestors and your family trees are going start overlapping. 

We all know that there is a lot of undocumented information out there online. We come across it every day. It can be as blatant as someone's 4X great grandfather who was born in 1772 and died in1775. The problem is that when this information goes into a worldwide family tree, that branch of the family is totally worthless.

Please understand I am not against this concept of the world wide family tree. I think it could be a great way to tear down brick walls. To cross the ocean back to the old country. It is just that there is such an opportunity for misinformation and we all need to be so aware of it. 

I encourage you to contribute to these worldwide family trees. But please verify the information you find on these trees. It goes back to the basic rule of an application to a lineage society. Do not enter any information that is not on the document you have in your hand.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Where Memories Are Made

The first conference I went to. . . . I packed my entire office. That was the last time I ever did that. OGS, Akron 2005.

How can I forget the OGS Conference in Cincinnati when I bought so many books in the exhibit hall that I stalled an elevator between floors on my way to check out from the hotel.

And then there was the OGS Conference in Columbus when my grandson decided to be born early. Watched that on unfold on Facebook.

And we don't talk about the time in Columbus when my Suburban was rear ended while I was in a lecture about Genealogy software programs.

You can be sure that if you attend a conference, be it your first or your tenth, there will be memories. 

                             * * * * * * *

This year's conferences - OGS, NGS and FGS - are beginning to look like excellent memory-makers, especially the Ohio Genealogical Society Conference at Kalahari Resort in Sandusky, Ohio. There is something for everybody including the kids. Take the whole family. Enjoy the fantastic indoor water park. Your kids and grandkids can explore the wonderful world of genealogy in the exhibit hall. On Friday you can all enjoy an honest to goodness Ohio pig roast. Perhaps your family can attend a lineage society's luncheon. (Guests are welcome to attend special events).

And, on Saturday, OGS has scheduled the Junior Safari Expedition Camp. Family history for kids ages 5-18. This will be a fun way for the youngest members of your family to find out what "this genealogy thing" is all about. 
Admission in $30 and includes a fun afternoon at the water park. 

The OGS Conference runs from 30 April - 3 May 2014.
For the discounted early registration you must have your registration in by March 30,2014. You can register online and pay with a major credit card. 
                                              * * * * * * *

This year the National Genealogical Society will hold its conference in Richmond, Virginia at the Greater Richmond Convention Center and the Marriott Hotel. With 4,000 room nights already reserved, this conference is looking like one of the most popular conferences in recent years. And, why not? The conference is surrounded by American history. The Colonies, the Revolutionary War, Civil War. Jamestown, Williamsburg, Yorktown, and Washington D.C. to the north. 

Unfortunately, all six downtown conference hotels are completely booked. There are hotels available in the suburbs and near the airport, but there are no shuttles available. Rental cars are available at discounted rates from Dollar Rent A Car. Parking in the convention center parking garage is $6. Other garages in the area are more expensive.

Roommate connections are available on the NGS website.

March 24, 2014 is the final day for early registration. You can register online at 

The conference brochure is available online. There is too much going on at this event to even begin to cover here so check it out online.

                                          * * * * * * *

The Federation of Genealogical Societies Conference is in San Antonio, Texas, this year. I have never been to San Antonio, but I have spent a lot of time in Fort Worth, Texas, at horse shows and I must say Texas is one of my favorite states. Love the people! They are so friendly. Love the land, you can see forever. However it can be hot there and this conference runs from 27-30 August 2014. So my first piece of advice is hydrate. Drink lots of water.

I have been to two FGS conferences and I would highly recommend that you attend this conference if at all possible. You will not be disappointed. There is a huge variety of topics with some of the best speakers in the world of genealogy. Great door prizes and special events. 

One of the best parts of the FGS conference is Societies Day. If you are an officer or want to be active in the genealogy community, you will want to attend this part of the conference. This year, for the first time, there will be a half-day workshop designed to bring your society up to speed in the 21st century with management principles that will help promote your group. 

The schedule for this conference is still being finalized so you will have to wait a little for all the great details of this conference. Registration begins in March 2014. In the meantime you can make your online hotel reservations at the Marriott Riverwalk.

I must admit these three societies have planned some amazing events for this conference season. It will be difficult to choose. But I promise. you will make memories wherever you go.