Sunday, December 20, 2015

Christmas shopping can be fun!

Merry Christmas to all 

This year I decided to change my shopping. Basically I needed to save money. In order to do that I would have to cut back on the amount I was going to spend on each member of my family. Normally I would spend $25 per person.

I decided to change that to $10 per person with some wiggle room of $5. I figured if I found something really great that I knew someone would love, that extra give or take $5 wouldn't matter. Believe it or not I found many of the gifts at Kroger! Books, hats, gloves, Starbucks' mugs & ornaments, cars to name a few

However, there was an unintended consequence. Christmas shopping this year was fun! I didn't have to make sure everything was equal. It was sorta equal. I didn't set out with a list and my credit card. I would see something awesome and buy it. Everything just fell into place and before I knew it my shopping was done. No stress. No worry. No tearing my hair out trying to figure out what to get. 

It has worked for me and now I hope it works for them. We will see on Christmas Eve.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

The Elf

I woke up this morning and realized it was December 1. I was so excited. I felt young and alive and Christmasy. Santa Claus is coming to town! I curled up in my covers and pillows and thought about all the wonderful things that are going to happen between now and the new year. Crank up the Christmas carols. Turn on the lights. Trim the tree. Bake the cookies. Shop til you drop. DIET. BUDGET. ORGANIZE.  CLEAN. DECORATE. 


And then I heard something out in the living room; no, maybe the dining room. Mice!! Or one really loud rat. 

By this time Winston had to go outside. So I opened the sliding glass doors and released him to his wild side. I turned and there she was. A tiny elf. Sitting in the middle of my dining room table surrounded by genealogy papers and research. 

She just looked at me and said" Are you ready? it is Christmas and we have some presents to deliver." I had no idea what she meant, but I had a feeling that I was about to find out.

She politely introduced herself and said she is called by the name of Geni. She said she knows my family and she knows if they have been naughty or nice. 

Oh Deer!! 

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Hit the Brakes! Slow Down! Time For Me!!

Here it is almost the end of October already. Soon it will be Thanksgiving, Christmas, and then a New Year. Where did 2015 go? It just went flying by. Ladies' group met tonight! The discussion was all about how much we hurry through life and how much we miss. Everyone agreed that the years when our kids were growing up was the most rushed. We also decided that we probably didn't know what we missed. School activities, football games, chauffeuring kids to the mall, sport practices, band practice. Scurrying here, rushing there. No time to stop and smell the roses.

That is how I feel after this year. Tons of genealogy related activities! The keyword here is "related." Chairman of the Board for a year is about to come to an end. Board meetings, chapter meetings, online meetings, decisions, decisions, decisions!

A new charter chapter of the US Daughters of 1812 was created. Joined a local historical society. Attended a seminar on chapter management. Stepped outside of my comfort zone more than a few times. Lots of work, but worth every minute.

It has been a fun year, but it is time to get back to working on my own family research. Only a couple of months til the deadline for applications to OGS lineage societies. 

The Ohio Genealogical Society has a number of lineage societies for their members. They include First Families of Ohio, Century Families of Ohio, Settlers and Builders of Ohio, and Civil War Families of Ohio. Induction of new members takes place at banquets for each group at the annual conference. For more information about this see

This year's conference will be held 28-30 April 2016, at Great Wolf Lodge in Mason, Ohio. I had better get started. I have a lot of work to do.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

What Went Wrong?

I seem to be losing that sense of my family's history that has always been so important to me. All of a sudden it has become big business.

Now it is all about meetings, number of members, boards, newsletters, blogs, professional web sites, lineage societies, and celebrity family trees on cable tv.

Whatever happened to finding your ancestors in a country cemetery in Kentucky. 

That is genealogy!

I have looked back at some of my posts from the holidays a year ago. Posts about my family. My crazy cousins. Family traditions. People who aren't here any more but are still in our thoughts as we approach the holidays. 

That is genealogy!

They didn't make us who we are today but they put us in the places we needed to be.

That is genealogy!

And we will put our children where they need to be.

That is genealogy!

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Hey, What's All This DNA Stuff About Anyway?!

The Lucas County Chapter of the Ohio Genealogical Society will present a program about DNA and Genealogy on Saturday, September 19, 2015. The group meets at 2pm in the Huntington Room on the first floor of the Toledo/Lucas County Public Library, 325 Michigan St., Toledo, Ohio. Meetings are open to the public.

Don Hengen will answer the question, "What's This DNA Stuff All About?"

This is a program for those who have already had their testing done, as well as those who know nothing at all about the subject. This will be an excellent opportunity to get acquainted with this new aspect of family research. For years genealogy was a slow tedious process of writing letters, traveling miles to courthouses that hopefully had not had a fire, and searching miles of microfilm in search of an ancestor record. And let's not forget all those cemeteries. Then the computer was born and everything changed.

Well, not everything. You still need to visit courthouses, libraries, cemeteries . . . . but you can also search for your ancestors online in the middle of the night. (If those 4x great grandparents only knew what you are doing right now. No candlelight? No quill pen? You are staring at this screen where words magically appear! and you're waiting for something called "a pizza" to be delivered.) Yes, things have most definitely changed.

And now they have changed even more. DNA has arrived. If you want to find out how this has changed the way we do family research, be sure to attend this meeting on the third Saturday of September. 

All levels of experience are welcome at the chapter's meetings - Beginners, Intermediate, Experienced.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Help Wanted! Someone who knows how to build a website. Lots of experience necessary!

Holy Cow, what happened?

Many genealogy groups out there are struggling to keep up. It seems like so many people today want all the info about their ancestors to be in an online database that can be logged into in the middle of the night. They are not interested in connecting with fellow genealogists.

People who love family history and are in my age group are so lucky because we have seen the best of both worlds as far as research is concerned. We know how to do hands-on research at a courthouse, library or archival facility. We are experts at rewinding microfilm and sometimes unwinding it. We also know the value of getting together on a Saturday afternoon and comparing notes with fellow members of a genealogical society. Maybe even finding a cousin if we are lucky. And we are now becoming more and more skilled at finding our ancestors online.

I know I have stressed this many times. And that is because it is important! But things have changed so much in the last couple of years. I was amazed to discover at a recent seminar that now the Blog is the foundation of the chapter's publicity. A blog combined with a website and a presence on Facebook is a very valuable tool for a genealogy society. 

It sounds so simple. All you need is a website, a blog and a Facebook page. Unfortunately it costs money to build a professional looking website. You need a team of writers that can contribute to your blog. Facebook - pretty simple!

So what do you do? I guess you make lemonade out of lemons. You need members to be able to afford a quality website. You need a website to attract members. It is a never ending circle.

You are trying to build a bridge to the 21st century and all you have is a covered wagon. 

How do you build the website that you so desperately need?

Why is it so expensive to find your family?

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Anyone seen Finding My Roots?

As the first episode of Who Do You Think You Are is getting closer, we are still wondering when Finding Your Roots will be back on the air. As you must know by now it you are a fan, the show has been on hold due to a conflict involving Ben Affleck. 

Affleck asserted improper influence on the PBS show when he asked that his ancestor be withheld from his family's episode. The ancestor was a slaveholder and apparently this was an embarrassment. Well, all of us can find embarrassing family members if we look long enough.

Mr. Affleck has since apologized but it didn't get the popular show back on the air any sooner. I came across one article by the Huffington Post that gave a January 2016 date for the show to return. However, I have not seen anything on the show's website or Facebook page that would confirm that fact. 

So until we hear a confirmation from the network, I will assume they are still investigating the problem. So that is the bad news, but the good new is that WDYTYA is almost ready for prime time!!

Saturday, July 11, 2015

WDYTYA One More Time

Another season of Who Do You Think You Are will begin on Sunday, July 26, 2015, at 9/8c. This is the 7th season of this program. Wow. I must say there must be a lot of people out there who want to know who they are. Sometimes I think that the genealogists on the program make it all look too easy, but if they showed all the behind the scenes work it takes to produce this program, prospective family researchers might give up before they even get started. So it is good to see the end results. 

The executive producers, Lisa Kudrow and Dan Bucatinskey had a great idea and they had the courage to go with it. For that, all of us who have been doing this research for years should thank them for inspiring more people to look for more records. The more research, the more genealogists, the more connections we make. I think we have seen this on the websites that rely completely on volunteer work. We need to share our research both online and in person.

So this is the lineup for the next few weeks: (I would recommend that you view each episode, but if you are looking for research in a specific area that has been noted.)

Bryan Cranston. Breaking Bad. Civil War research.

Gennifer Goodwin. Once  Upon a Time. Mystery ancestors.

Tom Bergeron. Dancing With the Stars. French Canadians.

Alfre Woodard. Desperate Housewives. Origin of her surname.

And finally, J. K. Rowlings Harry Potter. French Roots. 



Saturday, July 4, 2015

Fourth of July Freebies!

Ancestry and Fold3 are both offering free acess to some of their records in honor of the 4th of July. 

At Ancestry you will be able to search colonial records for the 13 colonies. This includes birth marriage, and death records. In addition to this visitors will also be able to search all census records from 1790 - 1940. This offer will last until July 6.

At Fold3 there will be free access to their Revolutionary War Collection til July 16, These records include war pensions, service records, and the war rolls, in addition to many others.

So today when the family is not grilling or watching fireworks, find time to gather around the computer and see what roll your ancestors played in forming this great country. Happy hunting!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Want to Be Queen For A Day?

How would you like to be born with your genealogy completed. Never needing to trace your family history? Never being able to experience the fun, the fulfillment, the joy, the excitement of finding a long lost ancestor or breaking thru a brick wall.

On May 2, 2015, Her Royal Highness Princess Charlotte Elizabeth Diana was born with very little chance of ever needing to research her family. Do you envy her? She can read about her ancestors. She can walk the halls of Buckingham Palace and stop to look at a painting of great-great grandma or grandpa. 

She will even have access to all the information about closet skeletons. The rogues, mistresses, pretenders to the throne, and let's not forget Henry the VIII. She will know when and where they were born, when and where and how they died. She will even know all the minute details of each dash.

Would you trade genealogy for a diamond tiara and a title? I have been thinking about this for almost a month and I lean toward genealogy. 

My first thought was the new princess can research her mom's family. But then again, probably, not. Since brother George is in line to be king some day, I am sure her mom's family history is complete and locked away in a vault somewhere for safe keeping. So I guess it is all or nothing.

It is said that your genealogy is never complete -- unless of course you are a member of a royal family. How sad! 

In an effort to come to some conclusion, I decided to Google whether or not the royal family can indeed be genealogists. And there is was: The genealogy of the royal family complete with family group sheets and pedigree charts -- some even going back as far as Adam and Eve.

Well that answers that! It is one or the other. Tiaras or transcription. Diamonds or death certificates. Palaces or probate.

Your choice. What will it be?

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

You Can't Prune Your Family Tree!

So, Ben Affleck hid an ancestor! Well, I guess with all the celebrity genealogists on TV over the last few years it was bound to happen. It was inevitable. And now a dark cloud has been cast over the world of family research. Oh dear, how will we every recover?

What's that you say? It's no biggie?

 Of course it is. It is all over cable news for crying out loud. It was leaked by a whistle-blower. Yes, genealogy now has its very own whistle-blower. It's a biggie. We have been exposed. We hide ancestors. And apparently it is against the law.

Give me a break!!! 

I have to admit that I had second thoughts about commenting on this. I was a little afraid of the feedback I might get. And then I realized that this happens all the time. For many reasons. Grow up people.Can you say "skeletons in the closet" boys and girls? 

So Ben has an ancestor who was a slave owner and he wants to hide it. That is his choice. He will eventually get used to it. I know that may sound callous but it is true. The first time you find out that a member of your family owned slaves it really sets you back. And you try to close that book or ignore that record. But most of us don't get outed by some whistle blower on cable TV. We adjust to the fact. We learn to accept it. And to be honest, it is nobody's business. 

So Ben apologized. Why? It is not necessary. You can't change the past. You can't rearrange your ancestors. They are who they are. You can't go into the probate court record books and erase everything.   
On the other hand you can't add "favorable ancestors" to your family tree either. This is the opposite of what Ben has been charged with. For example, let's say you want to be descended from a president, movie star, or famous cowboy.

Perhaps it is a rumor in your family that your ancestors arrived in America on the Mayflower. In this case, you do everything you can do to find an ancestor who proves this. And you will stop at nothing to hang some unrelated Plymouth, Massachusetts, resident on your family tree. Of course, you also ignore everyone in the family that moved from New York to San Francisco in a Mayflower Moving Van. 

I think this practice of finding famous ancestors in order to enhance your family tree has now faded away. I like to think that we are more concerned with finding the people who shaped our lives.  

The truth is you can't prune your family tree. You can't deadhead those little flowers that spring up on the branches. They are all a part of who you are. 

Accept the people who make up your family tree. Get to know them. It's possible. All you have to do is fill in the "dash".

Saturday, March 21, 2015

A Time for Celebration!!!

On Friday the birth records of adopted children born between 1964 and 1996 were opened to the public in Columbus, Ohio. It's about time!

I know it is a delicate subject and how you feel about access to these records can be an extremely personal thing, depending on where you are sitting on the branches of the family tree. Back in the 1960s, it was not a good thing to be an unwed mother. Pregnant teenage girls were hidden by their families. There were homes the girls lived in during their pregnancies. On the weekends they could go visit a family member who would hide them. Then the trip to the hospital, that long ride home without your child, and the secrets were kept by those who knew the truth. 

In 1963, Ohio lawmakers decided that all these birth records needed to be sealed forever. This meant that all of these children and their descendants would never have access to the records of their ancestors. Fortunately after years of hard work this law was repealed and Gov. John Kaisch signed into law the bill that eventually allowed adoptees access to their adoption records.

It should be noted, however, that these original birth records document the mother and child, but not necessarily the correct father. This was a topic of discussion at a recent genealogical society meeting. The question was raised about the possibility that the name of the father was changed by the mother for various reasons. But I suppose that  question could be raised for any birth certificate! But let's not worry about that right now. I am sure that will be a new brick wall that will be addressed in the near future. 

Right now I would just like to say to all of you who won this battle . . . . . 

Welcome To The Wonderful World of Genealogy!

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Her Ancestors Would Be Proud.

I read an article today that so inspired me as a widow. It was an article on the first page of The Blade, Toledo, Ohio, Sunday, March 8, 2015: "Drabik ponders spotlight after years as adviser."

Sandy Drabik is the widow of D. Michael Collins, Mayor of Toledo, Ohio,  who passed away five days after he suffered cardiac arrest during a major snowstorm on February 1, 2015. According to the article in the newspaper, Sandy was her husband's partner, adviser, shoulder to lean on. That person behind the curtain, not necessarily pulling the strings -- more like the one who gave him words of encouragement and believed in him. Now Sandy is considering putting her name out there and running for the office of Mayor in order to complete the work her husband started. I am so proud of her. What a strong woman.

It is not easy to recover from the sudden death of your husband. You go through all the stages of grief whether you want to or not. And sometimes you relive the event. When Mayor Collins was rushed to the hospital I began to relive the events that happened when my husband passed away. The few hours that my family went through turned into the five days that the Collins family experienced. It was like slow-motion. I felt he wasn't going to make it; I could see the similarities. 

There have been many women who have taken over where their husbands left off and continued the work that they, in reality, partnered together. I admire Sandy Drabik. Her ancestors would be proud. 

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

The Big Facebook Dining Room Table

This is a copy of a comment I posted on Facebook a few nights ago. 

"I am so glad to see all of you going through these pics and recognizing that you need to document who's who. From as far back as I can remember every holiday my aunts would get the big box of pictures out of the closet and we would all sit around the big dining room table and look at the family pictures. The kids would try to guess the identity of each relative and family friend. The aunts would tell us if we were correct and then add a story about each picture. It is so heart warming to see that this tradition is still alive."

I was not prepared for what happened next. Mystery. Memories. Hints. Sorrow. Hurt feelings. Questions. Very few answers. Stunned silence. And, a family that now begins the process of healing. 

First let me say this is not my family so I can be objective. On the other hand I have to be careful not to offend anyone. What really happened here was my husband's family gathered around the big Facebook dining room table to look at pictures from their past. And what a past it was. 

As my daughter was pulling pictures from a box, suddenly letters started falling out of the back of picture frames. Letters written fifty-some years ago that hinted at mysteries and memories from the past. As in all families, there were disagreements in my husband's family, but the possible origins were never exposed. Now comes the decision. To investigate further or to let it die with those who have passed on. 

One thing you may have noticed. Most family feuds are not inherited. In other words cousins don't have the same feelings of anger or hurt that their parents had. And over time the reasons for the family squabble evaporate. Therefore, it is up to each individual family member to decide whether or not to snoop!! 

There was a huge split in my mom's family. Some of my cousins knew what caused it while others were not even aware that there was a problem. As a result, there are distant cousins who have no idea how large the family really is, as well as some cousins who have no idea why they were cut off from the family to begin with. Some of us had huge family gatherings. Others only mom, dad, and the kids for holiday dinner. There are only a couple of us left now who know the truth. 

So, do you fess up and take the chance of starting a brand new feud? It all depends, I suppose, on how much the family likes to fight. My mom's family thrives on it! As for my husband's family, I see some asking questions while others are suspiciously quiet. 

And what have we learned from this box of pictures?

*A box of pictures is not always what it seems!

*The feelings of family members must always be taken into consideration when doing genealogical research.

*It is fun to open an old box of pictures, even if has to be on Facebook.


Thursday, February 12, 2015

Sometimes you find the answer in the strangest places.

I spent much of the month of January "down with the flu". It hit not too long after I had made my first resolution to post more on my blog, I got the cough, headache, fatigue and all the little aches and pains associated with the flu bug. This lasted about three weeks and then I had to deal with the "complications".

For the first five days of the flu I was told to treat my symptoms with Over The Counter medications. That, I did! Ibuprofen, cough medicine, mentholated rub. Lemons, honey, chicken soup, pudding, lots of ice cream (for medicinal purposes only). None of it worked. 

During that week of the fog of flu I thought about the days of the old Sears Catalog with its elixirs, tonics and nostrums. It is a well-known fact that these concoctions were loaded with today's illegal substances. Morphine, cocaine, heroin!  Seriously, they gave this stuff to babies who were teething. All I wanted was a few hours sleep. I am sure one of those old fashioned tonics would have solved that problem.

Eventually I dragged myself, half alive, to my doctor's office. He took pity on me and gave me a prescription -- something for the complications that would soon present themselves. It took several weeks of one step forward and two steps back, but I am finally back to normal.

This experience made me take a long, hard look at the way drugs have been dispensed in the last 200+ years and the effect they may have had on our ancestors. Many of us have a "working" relationship with our ancestors -- we kind of know our great, grand, and parents. We found out that they suffered from various health issues some of which contributed to their demise.

At the same time we know the crazy rumors and stories about grandma and grandpa. My husband and I both had grandparents who would "walk out the back door and fall down the hill."  Perhaps a look at an old Sears Catalog could explain this phenomenon that used to occur quite often in the hills of southern Ohio and Kentucky. Just saying!

Just goes to show that sometimes you find the answer in the strangest places. 

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Time for a Genealogical Winter!

Who Do Your Think You Are? will return to TLC on Tuesday evenings at 10/9 Central beginning February 24, 2015. This long running show researches the family histories of well know  celebrities. TLC has not released a lot of information about the new season which runs for eight weeks. The Julie Chen episode will introduce genealogical research in China for the first time on the show. Both Bill Paxton and Angie Harmon have ancestors who fought in the Revolutionary War. Sean Hayes’ heritage will take us back to Ireland for another glimpse of  family research on the Emerald Isle. 

Genealogy Roadshow, a relatively new show, will spend its second season in St. Louis, Philadelphia, and New Orleans. The PBS show runs for seven weeks on Tuesday evenings from January 13 to February 24 at 8/7 Central. This show is much different from WDYTYA as it centers on the ancestors of average everyday people.

Josh Taylor, whom many of you will recognize from genealogical conference lectures, and a team of genealogists attempt to prove and document family folk lore about Blackbeard, the Donner Party, and Marie Laveau, the Voo Doo Queen of New Orleans.In each city spectators were invited to attend filming sessions and were encouraged to bring their research with them. Representatives from well known genealogical societies were available to answer questions and provide suggestions. Altogether these two programs add up to 14 weeks of  genealogy programming during the cold winter months.

So grab your hot chocolate and peppermint ice cream. Curl up on the couch and settle down for a long genealogical winter!