Sunday, October 26, 2014

Don't let anyone take your place.

Two and a half years ago my husband passed away. During that time we have been carefully sharing his possessions with others. We started with the family and dispensed items the way we knew Grandpa would have wanted. That was easy. 

Then we got to the "little bit more complicated stuff" and we did pretty good with that. That is the stuff you give to 2-6 year olds and try to explain that they cannot play with it. Good luck with that. 

Then we got to the other stuff. The stuff in the Man Cave. All that stuff that I had no idea what it was. You have no idea how much I have wished over the last few months that Sears still had a catalog! But it turned out that I didn't need that old catalog because neighbors and people I did not know visited my garage sale and told me what everything was and what it was worth.

I know what you are going to say. They told me what it was worth and then bought it for that price. No they didn't. They explained to me what I had and gave me an estimated price for each item. Some of it sold; some of it didn't. 

There is very little left now. The garage he built is almost empty. The material things are gone and now his "dash" has taken its place in our family tree.

With every life event I always think back to our ancestors, especially those who lived a couple of hundred years ago in log houses in Kentucky and Ohio. What happened when they passed away? I doubt they had a garage sale, but I am sure there were several things that disappeared out the back door and I am sure there were items that were carefully shared.

But the one thing that remains constant is that person's place in the family. No one else can ever take that person's place. That is why proof and documentation are so important. 

Saturday, October 18, 2014

The Forgotten Little War

Do you have an ancestor that was born after the Revolutionary War? Did he move west with his family into the Ohio/Kentucky frontier? Is he just a speed bump on your 5-generation pedigree chart? He was born, married, died and that is just about it. 

Well, just maybe he has more of a story to tell you than you originally thought. Maybe he fought in the War of 1812. I have talked to a lot of women lately who have basically dismissed their male ancestors from that time period. After all they are hard to find in the census. Graves are hard to locate. And they seem to have a tendency to hide in the woods.

I knew I had an ancestor who supposedly fought in the War of 1812, but his ancestors and descendents had a much more glamorous life than he did. The only purpose he served was that he proved a link between two generations. That sounds cruel and I regret looking at him that way but his time to be recognized has arrived. I guess we all have our 15 minutes of fame -- even if it takes over 200 years for it to happen.

I don't completely understand why this war and the men who sacrificed all or a part of their lives for this cause have been ignored. My interest in this forgotten war was sparked a few months ago when I attended the OGS Conference at Kalahari in Sandusky, Ohio. Before this conference the only 1812 lineage societies I saw were for men only. Finally at Kalahari, in the right place, at the right time I found the U S Daughters of 1812

It is amazing how just one contact will fan out to so many women -- all of us with the same mind set -- this ancestor in our family tree didn't have that much to offer. It has been an amazing discovery for all of us. Most of us are just beginning to know these ancestors from this forgotten war and I am sure we have an exciting journey ahead of us. 

As for my ancestor. He was William Perkins who was born in Virginia in 1788. He married Malinda Rice in Bracken County, Kentucky in 1811. He and his wife died in 1815 leaving two young sons who were raised by their grandfather Philip Rice and his wife, Martha Vaughn. It is easy to see how someone with such a short life could be overlooked in a family tree.

I suggest you take another look at your pedigree chart and see if maybe you have an ancestor who was a part of the "forgotten little war".

 




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.