Friday, December 27, 2013

Another Year in the Dash

It is a new year and a new page in the dash of our lives.

If you don't know what a dash is, go to a nearby cemetery and look for the dashes on the grave markers. Those are the little horizontal lines between the date of birth and the date of death. As you walk through the cemetery, pause and reflect on the dashes etched into the grave markers. Each one of those dashes is a life filed with memories, both good and bad. 

When I walk through my family cemeteries in Clermont County, Ohio, I think about Our Town, Thornton Wilders play about a place called Grovers Corners in the early 1900's. 

There is a great video on You Tube where Paul Newman, the stage manager in Our Town, talks about the genealogists who come to the cemetery. 

Friday, December 20, 2013

Mery Christmas! Happy New Year!

Wow, Christmas is only a few days away. This has been a very hectic and busy holiday season for me again. Apparently I didn't learn from last year that I now have to do it all myself. We women tend to think we do it all, but we don't. Unfortunately you don't realize this until your spouse is gone. Need to make a note about this in my Organized Christmas notebook so that next year won't be so hectic. I have been using the Christmas planner from this website for many years and I love it, especially the "post-Christmas debriefing page". I was just reading some of my comments from former years: less food, buy non-perishables during the year to avoid holiday budget crunch, and (my favorite) try not to schedule surgeries between October and December. My husband was good at doing that.  (

I hope everyone included their "genealogy needs" on those holiday wish lists. If you still have family researchers to buy for, there is still time for some last minute genealogy gifts. I like the gift cards that are available at Kroger. They save me money on fuel and are perfect gifts for your friends that make  conference and research trips during the year. I would suggest gift cards for fuel, restaurants, travel, and Office Max. You will earn double fuel points for each card.

Other gift ideas: has a link at the top of their home page that will take you directly to the page where you can easily purchase a gift membership online.

Ohio Genealogical Society  has an online store where you can purchase gifts or memberships for those genealogists on your list. Also, this year the 2014 conference will be held at Kalahari Resort in Sandusky, Ohio, April 30 - May 3. As these can be expensive events a gift of conference registration or hotel reservation can be made online. This is going to be a very family oriented genealogy conference. Scroll down to check out the "genealogy camp" for the kids on Saturday morning.

Federation of Genealogical Societies will hold their 2014 Conference in San Antonio, Texas, August 27-30. If your favorite genealogist has Texas or western roots, you can check their website for possible conference gifts.

The National Genealogical Society will be holding their 2014 Conference in Richmond, Virginia, May 7-10. Unfortunately this conference is only a few days after the OGS Conference which is unfortunate since many Virginians either passed through or put down roots in Ohio and Northern Kentucky. I am sure many of us will have to choose between these two great events.

A special event, Junior Safari Expedition Camp, is planned for the kids (ages 5-18) Saturday morning at the 2014 OGS Conference. Here is your chance to expose your family to the wonderful world of genealogy. This would make a great Christmas or birthday gift for your kids or grandkids. The cost is $30 which includes all necessary materials. The camp also allows them to spend an afternoon at the Kalahari Waterpark. For more information see the OGS website.

                                        *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

The cookies are baked, only a few last minute things left to buy, Christmas Eve menu is planned, silverware polished, stockings are hung on the mantel and Christmas 2013 is almost here. Hopefully the rain will change to snow during the early Christmas Eve service.

To all my faithful readers~

I wish you a Very Merry Family Christmas
 and a Happy and Successful New Year. 
May all your genealogy wishes come true.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Serendipity and Local Gambling Clubs!

One of the greatest mysteries of genealogical research is Serendipity. It is that moment when you are drawn to a book on a library shelf; or you discover that letter from your aunt that somehow found it's way into your garage sale supply box. Both have happened to me. 

The book on the library shelf in Toledo, Ohio, led me to a grave in Clermont County, Ohio. The letter took me to my great-grandfather's house and property in the same area.

They say it is your ancestors reaching out to you; trying to help you with your research. Sort of like they are saying, "Pick me, Pick me!!"I don't know what the explanation is. All I know is that it happens.

Just recently I was walking into the library in downtown Toledo from the parking garage. I was  drawn into the library store just to the right of the entrance because there were Christmas puzzles under the tree in the window. But, a table of local history books took my attention away from the puzzles. And there it was. As soon as I saw the book, I knew that one of my dad's manufacturing plants would be within its pages.

I was right. 

The book: Illegal Gambling Clubs of Toledo, by Terry Shaffer.

Serendipity might have led me to this book, but the important thing to understand here is that this book is a non-genealogical resource book that provides clues for family researchers. These books are a very important source of information about the lives of our ancestors and should never be overlooked. Ok, I don't consider my dad to be an ancestor. He is my dad, for goodness sakes. But he is still a part of my ancestry.

My dad's manufacturing plant was not a cover for illegal gambling. At least I don't think so. However, now I know that he possibly bought the property directly from the owners who operated some of those not so legal gambling clubs in the Toledo area. 

I cannot wait to find the rest of the story. But that is what genealogy is all about. 

I highly recommend that you take a look at this book. You, too, might find a family member within its pages!

Thanks Terrry!!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Cindy Crawford's Perfect Family Tree

Let me say one thing. Do not, if you are a genealogist, clean and purge your office unless you can clear your calendar for at least 2 months. I started in early September and I am almost finished. The end result has been very rewarding, but the process was nerve-wracking and stressful. However, my office supplies are now manageable, plus I replaced one large bookcase with a much smaller one, and freed up a lot of closet space. It was definitely worth all the work. It is true - having a clean office makes for productivity. 

Now then, where was I before I decided to tear the spare bedroom apart? Oh yes, I remember. Cindy Crawford on Who Do You Think You Are. This episode might have been what sparked my need to reorganize. It seems as though an vast amount of very successful research went into this episode. The results were fantastic and inspiring. A genealogist's dream! The perfect, effortless family tree. I, too, could do this if only my office were more organized.

However, we must also note that Cindy had a lot of things in her favor. The most obvious -- a wealth of professional genealogists at her disposal. However, her family also created a lot of records and when they exist you just need to know how to find them. As you progress from a beginning to intermediate to advanced family detective, you will learn how to do this. There are unlimited resources out there from books to conferences that cover everything you need to know from the basics to brick walls.

Also, she knew all 4 of her great grandmothers and 2 of her great grandfathers. No doubt she had a wonderful opportunity to hear many family stories. Some may have been enhanced or twisted, but there is always some truth in family folklore. This is where your basic research starts.

The fact that she grew up in a small town is an asset. It seems to lead to more information being available. I have found this to be true in my dad's family, as well as my husband's family. Everyone knows everybody. People interact. It is cluster genealogy and it works. In a small community, your ancestor has a better chance of being a big fish in a small pond. (As opposed to being a small fish in a big pond.)

The other thing that Cindy Crawford had going for her is the fact that her family went back to the 1600's in America. Lots of records for lots of years and no need to cross the Pond. At least not for a while! But when she did follow Thomas Trowbridge to England, she found even more records that eventually led her to Charlemagne.

Let's go back and look at what we can learn from this amazingly "instant" perfect family tree. 

1. She had access to family members who could provide her with valuable information. This is the foundation of your research. This is where you begin. If you don't interview the older members of your family (grandparents, parents, aunts, uncle, cousins) you will miss out on a lot of valuable clues. Some of what these relatives tell you may not make sense right now, but someday it could be the light at the end of a tunnel that breaks down that brick wall. Remember a solid foundation contributes to complete and accurate research.

2. Her family lived in a small town. Newspapers, compiled histories, diaries, gazetteers, newspapers, cemetery records are all zeroed in on a small area and easier to research. It is more likely that you will find a road, a hill, a farm with your ancestor's name. This is a clue to check old township maps which can be found at local libraries or genealogical societies. See who lived near your family. These people interacted daily, they might have even traveled to the area together. This is where you find in-laws and maiden names. Cluster genealogy!

3. Cindy's ancestors were here in the 1600's. The longer your family is here, the more records they can create. More importantly, the more descendants they will have - thus giving you more people to research in an effort to find the family members of your direct line.  Here again we are talking cluster genealogy.

As you can see, Cindy Crawford had the basis for a very successful research project.

One other thing that I would like to point out. Cindy's ancestor, Thomas Trowbridge "went back" to England. We have a tendency to think that our ancestors came to America and because they were so glad to be here, they never went back to where ever they came from. I don't know why we feel like that. Maybe we just don't want them to cross that ocean again. But they did. And we need to take that into consideration when we are looking for records especially if your ancestor just disappeared off the face of the earth. Please don't rule out the fact that your ancestor might have gone back to "the old country." It could lead to the one clue that would break thru that brick wall.)

There is a point from this episode that has stirred a lot of conversations among genealogists. Charlemagne! Some claim that if you can trace your ancestors to Europe, you are probably descended from Charlemagne. Others claim that eventually, if you go back far enough, we are all related to each other and European royalty. Then there is the fact that as you go back in time, your ancestors double with every generation. This leads to the problem that eventually you arrive at a year when the number of ancestors you should have becomes greater that the number of people that were actually in existence at that time. (Please feel free to take a moment to digest that little piece of information, if necessary.)

This means that eventually our ancestral lines begin to cross at some point. I have seen it in my family as close as the late 1700's. This could be because they kept moving westward in little packs of people!  But it is really prevalent as you get further back into Old World genealogy. 

I enjoyed this episode in spite of the fact that there was a lot of information packed into one hour.  I am sure every bit of information was resourced and is accurate. For the genealogists on this show to actually document everything would have become slightly boring. It is nice to see that Cindy Crawford is descended from some very interesting people, and of course, Charlemagne. 

Me, I would prefer to find my grandfather's elusive family. It would be more exciting at the moment. Maybe now that my office organized I can do that. Wonder how long it will be before stacks of papers will start showing up on the floor.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

New Facebook Group Page for the Lucas County Chapter of the Ohio Genealogical Society

The Lucas County Chapter of the Ohio Genealogical Society has a new Facebook group page. You do not have to be a member of the chapter in order to join. It is a closed group, but that just means that when you join the group you can see the posts and participate. Everyone is welcome, and encouraged to join.

The page has been been created in order to bring together family researchers who have ancestors in the Lucas County/Northwest Ohio area. Social media is becoming an increasingly important part of genealogy. It is a way to share information, identify photos, find local genealogy organizations, and interact with others who share an interest in family research.

Go to Facebook and search for Lucas County Chapter OGS or click on the link below:

Hope to see you on Facebook!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Adopted Ohioans deserve access to their birth records!!

My daughter called me yesterday to ask if I could help Amy, her friend from high school, find her birth mother. I know that people do this and many times they are successful so I agreed to help. Unfortunately Amy has hit a bitter brick wall. She was born in the state of Ohio after 31 Dec 1963 and her original birth certificate is sealed and her birth mother won't give Amy permission to see her records.

First, let me say one thing. I understand the reasons why this law was put in place -- to protect the reputation of the mother. Back in the day, girls used to disappear for a few months. They went to spend some time with a relative in another state or they just checked into  a home for unwed mothers and family members did their best to keep the rest of the family in the dark. I know. I was one of those family members who went to great lengths to keep the secret. Let me tell you, the rest of the family suspected what was going on and that skeleton eventually took its place on a hook in the family closet.

That is all I am going to say about that side of the debate. My concern lies with the adult children who want to trace their genealogy and can't because they are denied access to the the very basic records that begin their research.

Also, these individuals do not have access to any medical records that could affect their lives. Think about going to a new doctor and filling out the forms on that clipboard the receptionist hands to you at your first visit. Total lack of information for people whose birth records have been sealed.

In Ohio there is a three tiered system of access to birth records for people who live in Ohio and have been adopted:
     Anyone born prior to 1964 has complete access to their birth certificate after the age of 18.
     Anyone born and adopted in the period from 1964 to 1996 do not have access to their birth records.
     Those born after September 1996, do have access, unless the birth parent has denied access.

There is currently legislation in Columbus, Ohio that addresses this problem. HB 61 has passed in the House of Representatives. Senate Bill 23 is awaiting a vote. 

If you are interested in supporting this cause I reccommend the following website


Sunday, October 6, 2013

Would you like to be on the next season of Genealogy Roadshow?

There is a casting call for anyone who would like to be a part of the new show on PBS, Genealogy Roadshow which airs on Monday nights. Genealogists, Josh Taylor and Kenyatta Berry help ordinary people answer questions about rumors and possible links to famous people in their families.

Anyone can turn in an application to be featured on a show in the second season. Go to and answer a few questions on  the form. You will be asked to summarize your family question, why it is important, and what the results would mean to you. You will also be asked to describe yourself and your family plus whether or not you have done any family research.

Good luck and maybe we will see you on television next season!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Hmmmmm! Did Genealogy Roadshow intentionally create the atmosphere of a local genealogical society meeting?

Last night PBS proved what I have always said. Most of the time there is some truth in family folklore. Even with the rumors that were not proved on Genealogy Roadshow, there may still be something there. Don't disregard the stories just because they don't fit right now. Maybe Davy Crockett was confused with Daniel Boone or Simon Kenton. There still might be a connection somewhere. Maybe one of these guys just lived in the next cabin over. Or maybe they all traveled together. Who knows?

The one thing I do like about the show is that they make it very clear that the research is being done by professional genealogists. However, I do hope they slow the pace in the next 3 episodes. There were places where if you blinked, you missed the segment. It will be interesting to see if people who are new to genealogy are able to follow the research. I know I had a few hiccups and I have been doing this for well over 50 years.

Aside from the value of folklore, this episode did showcase the many pieces of information that can be found through genealogical research. I just wish they would have spent a little more time explaining how history and pop culture  guided their research. But that will come with time, I am sure.

I believe Genealogy Roadshow is going to be a very entertaining show that will give viewers an overall view of the results of family research. It is not a lecture on basic genealogy. It is designed to show viewers how much fun genealogy can be. And, how genealogists interact with each other.

Maybe this was an unintended consequence, but by having a "studio audience" the show created the atmosphere of a local genealogical society meeting. There were people there who were interested in the success of others. They learned about methods they might be able to incorporate into their own research. And in some cases they found family members within the group. 
Hats off to Kenyatta Berry and Josh Taylor for reaching out and finding a new way to get people interested in their ancestors.


Genealogy Roadshow

A new genealogy show based on the concept that everyone has a place in history  airs tonight on PBS. Genealogy Roadshow will run on Mondays from September 23 - October 14.  No more celebrities; just ordinary people!

Nashville, Austin, Detroit, and San Francisco will be the settings for the research. Family folklore (we all have it) will be the basis for the research. Genealogy, DNA, and history will be the tools that are used to prove or disprove the rumors. 

I think this is going to be a fun show with lots of surprises. Tonight 2 participants in Nashville find out if they are really related to Davy Crockett. 

Don't miss it. The first episode airs tonight at 9pm on your local PBS station.

The Right Place at the Right Time

Sometimes we see our ancestors in ourselves. It could be as simple as a photograph or drawing where we recognize the family resemblance. Or as vague as a characteristic that has been passed down through the generations. When you look at Chris O'Donnell's family tree you get a strong sense of family loyalty. History repeated itself in his family, but in a good way. 

This episode of WDYTYA was, in my opinion, one of the best. Real people in the right place at the right time to witness history in the making. Nothing fancy. Nothing giving anyone a place in line to the British throne or a ride to the New World on the Mayflower. Just someone who had a small role in American history. And a lot of our ancestors have been there. In their own way.

Go back and look at a map of America in the early 1800's. There were not that many people and America wasn't very big. It wasn't that difficult to witness what most of us now take for granted. My 4X great grandfather was there when the British surrendered at Yorktown. He had just lost his ship and everything he owned was sitting at the bottom of the York River thanks to the British. I really don't think that he was concerned about being a part of history at that moment. Personally I think he was more interested in revenge. And he got it because he just happened to be in the right place at the right time.

This is what makes Chris O'Donnell's family research so interesting.  Most of us can relate to him and his ancestors. He has an ordinary family and they did ordinary things. Not that difficult to research. We are not going back across the Pond. At least not right now. Maybe someday.

Census records, military records, city directories were used to research Chris' family. These are easy to understand and readily available to beginning genealogists both online and in libraries and repositories across the country. Combine this with a basic knowledge of history and we can understand what motivated the decisions that his ancestors made. This is basic genealogy with a kicker.

Most of us are going to find that we have ancestors who were affected by the cholera epidemics that occurred in the 1800's. Sanitation and location seem to determine how much your ancestors' lives were affected by this horrible disease. Cholera originated in Asia and spread westward through Europe. Eventually it was taken to America by immigrants. You can easily follow the path of this disease on a map. Once it entered the country, since it spread from person to person, it followed the migration paths of the westward movement.

Another problem with the cholera epidemics was slums. Many immigrants began their American dream in slums where living conditions were crowded and water was contaminated. They could see the epidemic coming, but could do little to avoid it. Fleeing only added to the problem since it merely spread the disease to other areas. Lower classes suffered the most. More affluent citizens were not hit as hard due to better living conditions.

As you can see cholera is a very good example of how events affected our ancestors' lives. It was reason for people leaving an area or in Chris' ancestor's case - a reason to return home. 

In researching the military records of Chris O'Donnell's family, the genealogists used a source called Fold3. I received a complimentary membership to this website at the FGS Conference in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Of course I immediately started searching for my ancestors with amazing results. I don't recommend that because at some point you are going to have to take a break and visit the Training Center where you will learn how to get the best results from the website. You might as well go there first. (Look on the home page for a little picture of Uncle Sam pointing at you. That is where you will find directions to the tutorials and videos that will enhance your research.)

If you are wondering where the name Fold3 originated, it refers to the traditional flag folding ceremony. If you have ever been to a funeral with military honors, you will have witnessed this event. The flag is folded 13 times until it forms the shape of a three-cornered hat and then handed to the next of kin. The third fold is made to honor and remember the veteran. 

For more information about the 415,689,063 records available at Fold3 go to: 

In today's world with 24/7 cable news coverage we often ask each other, "Do you remember where you were when . . . . . . happened?" I wonder if our ancestors did that. Probably not! It was probably more like, "Grandpa, tell us the story about getting even with the British after they sank your ship."

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Coincidence? I think not!

I thoroughly enjoyed the Zoey Deschanel episode of Who Do You Think You Are. The reason: I learned a few things. I know a lot of genealogists complain about the fact that the research is "harder than it looks in the rear view mirror" and that fact should probably be dealt with. Personally I know most people would tune out if they had to watch the hundreds of hours of research it takes to create this show. Make that thousands of hours. Like watching the grass grow. It would be boring and the idea is to introduce viewers to the wonderful world of family research.

The idea is to show people how much fun it can be to find your 4X great grandparents without scaring them. And if someone does not realize that the research is more difficult than the producers  make it look on the series, we all know they will figure it out soon enough. Just like the rest of us. (Remember, we were all wide-eyed novice family researchers at one time.) But hopefully by then they will have caught the bug and there is no turning back.

So, getting back to Zooey. (By the way, I had a Corgi named Zoe. Love the breed, love the name. Must be the Welsh in me.) Zooey has one of those family members that can be Googled with amazing results.  I have a couple of those. It's great! Really speeds up the process! Sarah Pownall was also a women who left records. Whoo Hooo
Seems like her 4X great grandmother, Sarah Pownall, had a front row seat for the Abolitionist Movement. She watched the Christiana Resistance from her home and was actively involved in what happened. This is no big secret. That fact made Zooey's family easier to find. Note: I did not say easy.

So what did I learn? Pennsylvania and Ohio contained some of the main tracks on the Underground Railroad. I personally have always associated the Ohio River with the Underground Railroad. My ancestors lived in Clermont, Brown, and Hamilton Counties in Ohio so when I think of the "muddy road to freedom" I naturally think Ohio/Kentucky, but never Pennsylvania/Maryland/Virginia. Until now. Interesting.

Also, I never took a good look at the Fugitive Slave Act of 1851 I assumed, incorrectly, that it was in favor of the people aiding the  slaves. I knew being an abolitionist was a dangerous job, not only for the people directly involved but also their families. But I just never thought it was illegal and punishable by a fine and jail time. Holy cow! And then I found out that the bounty hunters were legal and also got away with kidnapping legally free slaves. I can see where this more than likely fueled the abolitionists. 

But what really caught my attention -- The Abolitionist Movement led to the Suffragettes. One more Holy cow!! How could it not have? Women passionate about freeing the slaves soon realized that those inalienable rights in the Declaration of Independence did not apply to them either.

Whether you use this information as a clue to finding sources for researching female ancestors or just for your own information, it is no less fascinating. Now fast forward 100 year and what do you have? The Civil Rights movement followed by the Feminists. Coincidence? I think not.  

Note: Even if they glazed over the research involved in this series and made it look easy we need to understand that the series is not just geared towards the novice genealogist. I am sure they want to provide a few programs that are informational to the advanced and intermediate researcher. Much the same as the conferences we all attend.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

What I learned in Fort Wayne last month!

Whew! The past few weeks have been fun and busy. Getting ready for, attending, and coming back home from the FGS Conference took up the major part of August. I, myself, have wonderful experiences from the conference. One of my goals, in addition to learning some "new stuff" for my own research, I also wanted to see what others learned from the conference. So. . . . . .

Social media is playing a major role in connecting families. Whether it is Facebook, forums on Ancestry, Family Search trees, or blogs -- people are connecting to share family research information. Of course you have to evaluate the information. Just remember everything is a clue. Never disregard anything you are told. There is always a certain percentage of truth in family folklore.

Vera Bradley bags at the Allen County Library are usually "to die for".  I guess that means we should ditch those old bags from former conferences and only use Vera Bradley for research in Fort Wayne. Thank goodness I chose Vera Bradley for my iPone. 

Researching in courthouses still means you need to dress like a lawyer and never let on that the person you are looking for is your 4 times great grandfather. I thought those days were over. I really thought we had gained a little bit of respect. 

Biggest regret: Not printing out adhesive name/address/phone number labels to attach to door prize tickets. 

Most surprising (that a few people even knew about): Did you know there are Library Cart Drill Teams? That could give you a little bit of clout in the stacks!! Seriously. Google it. Fun!

Friday, August 23, 2013

The Virginia Reel is alive and well in downtown Fort Wayne!

Tonight was the special event at the Allen County Library. You had your choice of researching at the Genealogy Center until midnight, attending a program about the War of 1812, or . . . . . . .

dancing in the Great Hall.  As we were researching our ancestors on the 2nd floor, music slowing started filtering into the Genealogy Center. People . . .

started to abandon their research and head for the balcony where for a minute we thought our Civil War ancestors had come to life. Library guests lined the balcony and watched the dancing -- Civil War style. The ladies were in their

finest attire, all ready to compete with Scarlett O'Hara.  The men . . . . . .
 were all set to take on Rhett Butler!! As I was leaving the library . . . . . . .
the group was still dancing the night away.

Many years ago when I attended my first conference, there was a lecture about finding the book with your ancestors in it. Well, tonight at the library, I found that book. Rices in America and it wasn't a book about grain!! I now have tons of clues for researching my family in Virginia, Kentucky, and Wales.

If you are looking for a good portable scanner, check out the Flip Pal booth in the Exhibit Hall. It is booth #424 & 426. I bought mine at the OGS Conference a few months ago. You can scan everything in size from photos to large books. I love mine and use it all the time. Exhibit hall open from 9am to 3:30pm on Saturday.

I will be leaving tomorrow. Downtown Fort Wayne is amazing. It has improved so much since the last time I was here. I watched the fireworks at the ball park from the hotel tonight. My Fitbit is on overload. It didn't believe someone could log in so many steps. Hope all you had as good a time here as I did

Thursday, August 22, 2013

What did we learn today? Part II

Crime scene tape covered the area. Word spread quickly. Genealogists steered clear of the area. Even after everything was taken care of, some still were afraid to venture near the scene. 

I have to say I told ya so!

You guessed it. Another elevator bit the dust. Too many genealogists with too many books on an elevator at the Hilton. Everything is fine now. All elevators are working again and I even rode the rogue elevator all the way down to the first floor.

Today, we learned to be kind to the elevator and it will be kind to you.

The Society Showcase LIVE in the Exhibit Hall tonight was relaxed, crowded, and fun. Lots of great door prizes were given away tonight. had so many tickets turned in that they gave away 3 International full year memberships and a free DNA testing. Almost everyone agreed that it was over too soon.

Guests line up at the Opening Social at the Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory Wednesday evening sponsored by

It was a beautiful evening and the line to the buffet was a bit of a wait, but it was worth every minute.
An enjoyable evening of refreshments and music at a garden party.
 The talking tree bid us farewell as we left the botanical gardens.

 Thank you to Find My Past and Fort Wayne, Indiana for a wonderful evening!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

What did you learn today?

It didn't take very long today to find "what did you learn today?". As soon as I dropped my stuff in my room at the Hilton and connected to the internet, I received an email from Bill Priest, a fellow board member of the Lucas County Chapter of the Ohio Genealogical Society. Subject: Our chapter needs a Facebook account. I agree.

We spent the rest of the afternoon learning about the value of social media as it applies to today's genealogical societies. Basically, it is our lifeline. This is the way people connect today and it is a valuable tool that has so many benefits. 

I was reminded about my own personal Facebook account. I have connected with old friends and cousins I haven't talked to in 20 to 40 years. If I could do that, just think of what a local society with 50 to 100 members could do on Facebook. All those surnames. All those family bibles. All those photos. All those family rumors. All those possible connections between cousins and friends centered in a specific location. 

Next I thought about those genealogy society meetings that some of us attended before the internet influence on family research. We got together at a local library or church to socialize, search for family members and learn about records that were available. Research was based on correspondence and research trips.

We all got together. In person!

We can still all get together. On line! Only now we can include the members who don't live in our area.

I think it is time to realize that Granny has built a bridge to the 21st Century and we can have virtual genealogy societies on Facebook with amazing results. Very few of us gray-haired genealogists need our grandchildren to print out our society newsletters for us anymore. We can navigate the internet pretty well on our own. 

What did we learn today?  We need to integrate social media into our genealogy societies in order to survive.

Monday, August 19, 2013

On The Road Again!

Arrived in Fort Wayne this afternoon. Only a little over an hour drive on the new Route 24. Checked into my hotel and headed for the Grand Wayne Convention Center where I picked up my registration packet. Be sure to check your packet to make sure you have everything. I was missing two wrist bands. No problem, customer service took care of it immediately. 

Then off to the Family Search Blogger dinner. Everyone raved about the food and got acquainted. We were informed about the new and very exciting direction that Family Search is taking. (More about this later.)

The weather this week in Fort Wayne is going to be very comfortable with a slight chance of rain. None of those severe thunderstorms that we mid-westerners are so used to this time of the year. 

I will be moving from my temporary hotel to the Hilton tomorrow. I stopped at the desk today to check on the possibility of early check-in. They are having an almost total turnover in guests tomorrow. If you arrive early and don't want to leave your valuables in your car at the parking garage across the street, the Hilton will hold your luggage for you. Check-in time is 3pm. 

**I am taking some time off from commenting on Who Do You Think You Are until the FGS Conference is over. I made some discoveries during the Zooey Deschanel episode that affected the way I look at my great grandmother, Elizabeth Waterfield Perkins. So, I am going to be looking for answers to questions that I have at The Allen County Library this week. I was originally focused on my great grandfather, William Perkins, but now his wife seems a little bit more interesting.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Join Us In Fort Wayne, Indiana for the FGS Conference.

In less than a week I will be heading for Fort Wayne, Indiana, and the FGS 2013 Conference. I am looking forward to making new friends and increasing my knowledge of family research.  There is always something new to be learned. 

Years ago in the 1940's when I was first introduced to the idea that I could actually find out who my ancestors were, all I expected to find was the date of birth, marriage, and death for each individual. Looking back, I am amazed at how far we have all come in our genealogical research. 

Ideas, concepts, techniques, technology - things that we didn't even know about back then have all made a huge impact on the family research that we do today. And better yet we have people who are willing to share their experience with us at genealogy conferences. It doesn't get any better than that.

August 14, is the last day for online registration for the FGS Conference in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Join us!

Hope to see you there!  

Was he or wasn't he? Chelsea Handler, WDYTYA

Chelsea Handler's search for her grandfather, Carl Stoeker, took her to Germany where she was able to find the answer to the question that had haunted her for years. Was her grandfather a Nazi?

This episode is a wonderful example of a part of genealogy that many genealogists overlook. What was our ancestor's world like. What exactly made them the way they were. 

Chelsea was fortunate to be able to hop on a plane and head to Germany for some hands on research. (For those of us who can't do this, there are many international records on and family Here she learned about post World War 1 Germany. As we know, Germany lost the war and as a result the country was deep in debt. There was no work, no food, and for most of the people life was a miserable, hopeless, hungry existence. When you know this it is not difficult to see why Hitler was embraced by the people when he was able to turn things around and from 1936-39 life in Germany was good. Of course as we also know, things changed drastically and the German people were once again at war. In addition, they were labeled.

Knowing this, Chelsea was able to understand why Carl Stoeker worked for a notorious Nazi. He had a family; he needed a good job. And at this time Hitler had yet to show the world what he was capable of doing. Carl served in Hitler's army. He had so choice and it appears he was just an average soldier. But he was not a Nazi.

Carl's entire life changed when he was captured and sent to a POW camp in the U.S. He saw the truth about America and when he was able, he returned to Germany and brought his family back to the states.

All these things affected Carl's life. He needed a job. He was caught in Hitler's Germany. He had to serve in the army. He was transferred to the south of France where he was captured and exposed to American life. 

History, geography, weather, family, friends are just a few of the things that influence out ancestors' lives. Take a half hour and just sit and think about all the things that have made your life what it is today. Most people have no regrets about the paths they have chosen in life. The reason is because they wouldn't be where they are today. And basically you wouldn't be here today if your ancestors would have chosen different paths.

Don't be so quick to judge or label your ancestors. Research what was going on around them so you can understand why they made the decisions that shaped their lives. 

The following episodes of Who Do You Think You Are will be aired tonight on TLC:
Chelsea Handler - 8pm Eastern Time
Zooey Deschanel - 9pm and 11pm Eastern Time 

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Christian Applegate and Family Folklore on WDYTYA

I am impressed. Once again we have basic, do-able genealogy.This new series of WDYTYA continues to be refreshing; not to say that there was anything wrong with the former episodes on NBC. Those first seasons probably made more sense to intermediate and advanced genealogists. However, I doubt that they scared off any beginning family researchers who truly wanted to find their roots.

This episode exposed a part of family research  that is seldom dealt with. Family Folklore. Rumors. Gossip. Whatever you want to call it! It was very obvious during the first few minutes of Christina Applegate's journey into the past that there was a family rumor that would contain some truth.  Most family folklore does and that is why you should never ignore those things that you overheard your aunts whispering about in the kitchen while they were doing dishes after Thanksgiving dinner.

Family research is like the waves you see on the water when you throw a pebble into a lake. It has circles that spread out with each piece of information that you find. You start with yourself in the middle and as you expand your knowledge of your family that circle grows and grows like waves on the water. But sometimes that circle breaks and that is when you hit what we like to call a "brick wall". And more likely than not, that is where you will find the clues buried in the family folklore.

The clue to Christina Applegate's brick wall was the casual remark made at breakfast when her father overheard his grandmother say that his mother, Lavina, "was found outside a bar beaten to death". 

Let's look at the facts. 

Christina's father, Bob, knew he was raised by his paternal grandmother because his mother couldn't take care of him. Bob knew his mother died at an early age. He really didn't remember that much about his mother, even though she had custody of him. It seems as if most of his childhood memories centered around being raised by his paternal grandmother.

Census records and newspaper articles indicate that Lavina's family was very well off before the Great Depression. However, when we look at the 1940 census we find that the family had no income. The Depression was much more than just the stock market crash of 1929. It affected lives for many many years to come. (This is a good example of why a basic knowledge of history is important in genealogical research.)

Lavina's marriage and subsequent divorce produced many court records with accusations of abuse and adultery. Surprisingly Lavina gained custody of her son, Bob. However, as we eventually learn, Lavina was unable to take care of her son, so it appears that Lavina's mother could have been the person who actually took care of Bob. And when she died, since Lavina was still unable to take care of her son, Bob went to live with his paternal grandmother who it seems did not have a very good opinion of Lavina.
  Thus the statement -- "She was found outside a bar beaten to death."

It seems to me that for some reason Bob might have morphed both grandmothers into the same person. There was no explanation for why Bob thought of his "grandmothers" as only one person.

When we look at the death certificate and we see the actual cause of death, it is easy to see why the Bob's grandmother made that statement. She formed an opinion. We all do that. Maybe she didn't know the circumstances surrounding her former daughter-in-law's death and just formed her own version of the story. Or she might have said "She was probably found outside a bar. . . . ." and Bob simply forgot that one word that would make a difference in the tone of the statement. We don't know.

However, we can now see the hidden meaning behind the family folklore. A lifestyle destroyed by the terrible effects of the Great Depression. A marriage that came apart because of abuse, adultery, and alcohol. Unfortunately, not an uncommon story. 

This episode was an extremely good example of why it is so important to pay attention to that family folklore. Those snippy little remarks that people make. They are the keys that unlock the closets where all those skeletons are hiding. At least that is the way it is in my family. 

Thank goodness my aunts were experts when it came to those "snippy little remarks"!!

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Researching in Northwest Ohio libraries..

If you are planning a research trip to Northwest Ohio this summer or passing through our area on your way to the FGS Conference, there are many opportunities for research in the area.

Toledo-Lucas County Public Library - 325 Michigan St., Toledo, Ohio, 43604. (419.259.5200) The Local History and Genealogy Department is located on the 3rd floor. 

Center for Archival Collections - 5th floor, Jerome Library, Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, Ohio, 43403. (419.372.2411) 

University of Toledo Canaday Center and Law Library - 5th floor, William S. Carlson Library, University of  Toledo, Toledo, Ohio. Open Monday - Friday, 8am - 5pm.(419.530.4480)

Lucas County Probate Court - 700 Adams St., Suite 200, Lucas County Court House, Toledo, Ohio, 43604. (419.213.4775)

Recorder’s Office—One Government Center, #700, 640 Jackson St., Toledo, Ohio 43604. (419.213.4000)
Toledo Catholic Diocese Archives - 1933 Spielbusch Ave., Toledo, Ohio, 43604. (419.244.6177) Open Monday - Friday, 1-5pm.  Records are also available for browsing on

Where to stay: There are many excellent and affordable hotels off of I-75 at the Bowling Green and Perrysburg exits south of Toledo. If you are traveling on the Ohio Turnpike there are several hotels near the Maumee Exit in South Toledo. A variety of restaurants are located near all three locations. 

As always, I suggest you visit websites to become familiar with the collections at the above locations. And, it is also a good idea to call and verify hours of operation.

Good luck with your research!

Monday, July 29, 2013

Packing to go to Fort Wayne, Indiana. (Final FGS Conference Blog Prompt)

What do I pack when I head for a conference?

My ancestors.
After all, they are the reason for the trip.
They will be sitting beside me during each lecture that I attend. They will be guiding me to the exhibits that I need to see. They will be showing me the records that I need to research in the library.

Office Supplies. 
Wirebound legal pad and pen. For taking notes at the conference sessions.
Post It Note tabs - in case I want to mark any pages in my printed syllabus.
Mechanical pencils - for library research.
Folders - for handouts in the Exhibit Hall.
Index cards. It never hurts to have a few in your tote bag.

Tech Supplies.
Laptop. Roots Magic and Gen Detective will help me plan my research at The Genealogy Center.
FlipPal. A great little portable scanner. 
iPhone. It has my day to day schedule, plus all my apps and itunes. And a whole bunch of bells and whistles I am slowly learning how to use.
Chargers. Don't leave home without them.

Other stuff. 
Business cards. 
   For my blog.
   I always take cards with the names of the families I am researching and     
     my contact information.
Extra folded tote bags for the stuff I will buy in the Exhibit Hall.
Comfortable shoes.
Clothes that won't wrinkle and are color coordinated.
My old faithful tote bag I got at an OGS conference in 2006. It is perfect for  
   carrying my printed syllabus and office supplies. 
A small purse/wallet.

I have promised myself to travel lightly this time. If I can't get it in one small suitcase and my laptop case, it won't go with me. I'll let you know how that works for me!

I guess I am ready to go. See you at the conference!!