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"!!