Tuesday, April 19, 2016

So many lectures; so little time!

You have received your syllabus for the OGS conference  and you are trying to figure out how to be in two or more places at once. Not a problem. Relax. There are solutions. 

If this is your first conference, you will want to see, hear, attend, and buy everything. Three and a half days of lectures, shopping, banquets, networking. Unless someone came with you to drive you home after the conference you cannot possibly do everything. I literally walked the soles of my shoes off at a conference in Cincinnati. I am sure I left a sole train (sort of like Hansel and Gretel) everywhere I went. I pitched the shoes in a trash bin on I-75 on my way home. I probably should have brought them home and buried them in the back yard as a tribute to my ancestors.

So what do you do? Pace yourself, pick and choose. This is where your syllabus comes in. You will see that there are five lectures scheduled for every time period, and you can only physically attend ONE. Chances are that you will not want to attend all five. Maybe two or three. You want to look in your syllabus for the handout that goes with each lecture. There will always be some that will give you the basic information you need. The process of elimination will take you to the lecture you need to attend.  

As for banquets and events, once again pick and choose. Pace yourself. Remember that a conference can become a four day marathon if you are not careful. There will be other conferences so don't try to attend every lineage society banquet. But, do attend the society luncheon and business meeting. 

As for over-shopping in the Exhibit Hall see the previous post. 



Sunday, April 17, 2016

Tracking Your Ancestors at Great Wolf Lodge.

The time is almost here for the annual Ohio Genealogical Society Conference. This year the event will be held at Great Wolf Lodge in Mason, Ohio, on 28-30 April 2016 with per-conference workshops on Wednesday, April 27. Remember to register by April 18.

I went back through some of my original posts about attending a conference in the Cincinnati area. Since this is the land of many of my ancestors, I have spent a lot time in Clermont and Hamilton Counties. There are so many tips that I can not include all of them. I would suggest you go back to the beginning of this blog when I attended my first NGS Conference in Cinci. 

Take a trip along the Ohio River on Route 52. It is a beautiful drive and the view of Kentucky is breath taking. Since it is a fairly long drive, you might want to add another day to your trip, but it will be worth it.

Kroger Fuel Points save gas money. Another $$ saving tip is share a room or transportation. Bring your own drinks, snacks, breakfast. Especially breakfast - it saves a lot of time in the morning. See exhibit hall $$ tips below.

You are going to walk a lot.  Wear comfortable shoes and clothing. This is not a runway fashion show. Rest, pace yourself. You will get tired. Wear your fit bit and chalk up the steps! 

Don't forget that cellphone.  Turn if off in the lecture room unless you like to call attention to yourself. Don't take pictures with it. What is on the screen belongs to the speaker. 

Expressway traffic in Cincinnati can be crazy. NASCAR comes to mind. 

Good Morning Cincinnati! Channel 12. Bob Herzog. Unfortunately due to time and expense Dance Party  Friday is not a weekly thing any more. However, you might want to check this out just in case. If conference is not a good time to catch Bob singing the weather, you can still watch Just Don't Go on you tube. It is the famous musical advice for bad weather in Cinci.

Exhibit Hall. This is the place where you will be encouraged to spend a lot of $$$! My advice is - don't buy anything during your first trip to the exhibit hall. Instead make a wish list. And leave. This will prevent compulsive buying. Go over your list in the safety of your room and select what you really need. Go back to the hall with a shopping list and just buy what is on the list. 

Conference Overload. This is what happens when you don't follow the exhibit hall advice above. Elevators stop between floors at genealogy conferences. The main reason is genealogists with books. Too many books! I've been there; I have even caused it to happen. It can be embarrassing. Another result of conference overload is multiple trips to your car when you are packing to go home. That could also involve an elevator emergency. 

Experience Cincinnati  cuisine. Try the chili. Dive into some Graeter's ice cream, and definitely get a bag of those little bombs of indigestion, White Castle. Just don't do it all on the same day. 

And remember, especially if this is your first conference. Learn. Network. Shop. Have fun!! 


Sunday, April 10, 2016

Scandal on Who Do You Think You Are tonight!

Two actors from the television series Scandal will be featured tonight on Who Do You Think You Are. One of the things I love about this show is that past episodes also run during the current season. Tonight two actors from Scandal will air on TLC.

At 8/7c, Tony Goldwyn will discover his mother's side of the family and his ancestors' involvement in civil rights activism. He also finds an advocate for westward expansion. 

At 9/8c, a new episode will feature Scott Foley. The preview sounds extremely interesting. Scott will find an ancestor with a link to George Washington during the Revolutionary War. Then he will travel further back in his family history to the Salem Witch Trials. Sounds like we will be going to Massachusetts and Washington DC. And possibly find a parking spot right in front of the DAR Constitution Hall.

Get your WDYTYA bingo cards ready! 

Friday, April 8, 2016

Who Do You Think You Are off to a good start in the new season!

The new season of Who Do You Think You Are is off to a good start. I did play the Bingo game and filled many of the squares, but not 5 in a row. There are squares that you can absolutely count on -  "researcher uses ancestry.com", "celebrities says they are traveling to ....", and my personal favorite "there is an open parking space in front of the archive". If you have never played this, you need to get your WDYTYA bingo card. http://www.geneabloggers.com/bingo-card-tonights-premiere/

Before I watched the new season premiere, I watched a couple of former episodes, Bryan Cranston and JK Rowlings. They were similar in the sense that they illustrated how families seem to follow patterns. In Bryan's case the men deserted their families. In JK's family the women were single mothers. As Bryan Cranston put it, the men in his family "were born with suitcases in their hands." In Rowlings case, her 2X great grandmother successfully overcame many obstacles in her life, as did Rowlings herself. Think Harry Potter!

Is there something in the family DNA or do they just pass habits from branch to branch on the family tree. Probably a little bit of both. When you really start looking into the "dash" of a person's life you can get a feeling for the family values that are passed from generation to generation. Or not!

I found that I related to JK Rowlings more because her family, as well as a branch of mine, was from the Alsace Lorraine area. I also picked up an important bit of information that applied to my own research and might help me understand why my grandmother's family left Prussia. This is a perk of this show - getting a hint, or as Ancestry likes to call it - a leaf.

In the first episode of the new season, Aisha Tyler, discovered the dash of her 2X great grandfather. When she first found him in the census records he was a 5 year old living in a boarding house. He came to Oberlin, Ohio, with his mother and brother, who eventually died, leaving him alone. He was more than likely born a slave. Records indicate that his father, John Hancock, a Congressman and white supremacist watched over him and his family to a certain extent. 

This was finally a life story of someone who overcame his beginnings and his father's lack of values. Hugh Berry Hancock eventually became a Republican delegate to the convention that nominated McKinley for President. And his home is now a historical landmark in Texas. Aisha must be very proud.

These three episodes of WDYTYA illustrate how good and bad is passed along the family tree. The mysteries, the folk lore, the traditions, the habits. Have you ever looked at a picture of an ancestor and seen yourself? And then, wondered - am I like that person or do I just look like her?                               


Thursday, April 7, 2016

Genealogy is the never ending story with never ending records!

Genealogical research never gets to a point where you can say,"And they lived happily every after."  That only happens in fairy tales. In the real world life goes on. And on, and on, and  on! And records are created over and over and over. 

Do you really think that our ancestors had us in mind when they created the records we use today to find them? No, of course not. Do you think that that they  ever imagined that we would come looking for them? Did they care? Probably not. They were  too busy trying to stay alive. By staying alive I mean providing a safe place of shelter for themselves and their children. And occasionally in the process, they created records.  

Have you ever wondered if you could have survived in the world of our early ancestors? Could you set out for the unknown with just the possessions that would fit into a covered wagon. Travel through dense forests and mountain terrain? And in the case of northwest Ohio, through the Great Black Swamp. I can honestly say I don't think I would last a day! And I would have created very few records!

One branch of my family tree crossed the Ohio River shortly after the Treaty of Greenville was signed in 1795. At first they lived on the river bank and later moved inland to where the town of Amelia now sits in Clermont County, Ohio.
Within a few years my 3X great grandfather was killed by a falling tree leaving his widow and his young children to survive. As a result land, death, church and guardianship records were created. And a will was recorded.

When you read the history of that area one thing that stands out is the number of people who didn't survive. A birth record could, and many times did, create other records. And once again survival was involved. Many women did not survive childbirth. A death record of some sort was created. The child may have also died creating another record. Eventually most men remarried. Another record! The family would change on the next census with people missing and people added.

When a family moved to a new frontier, land records and tax records were created. The location of census records changed. Children were born and grew up creating school records and eventually marriage records. And the cycle of life's records  moved on. 

Day to day living on the frontier was a matter of survival. The husband left the homestead in search of wild game. Would he return? And when he returned would his family still be there to welcome him home? Wild animals, Indians, weather, highwaymen affected the lives of the early pioneers. And more records were created. 

Since these records were not created by our ancestors as a genealogy research source for their descendants, what was the purpose? Who really cared? The government! The government wasn't nosy. It just needed to count, tax, and represent our ancestors. There are reasons for all those little boxes on the census forms. The fact that these records are great sources of information for genealogists is purely coincidental. Every minute of everyday new records are created.

I have seen this statement many times - "When looking at a record you need to know why the record was created." I suppose that could be true. I prefer to look at an ancestor's life and ask "What records could they have created because of what was happening to them?" Be a detective. Look for the clues. The clues are the records that your ancestor might have created.


Sunday, April 3, 2016

New season of Who Do You Think You Are

In a few short minutes the 2016 season of Who Do You Think You Are will air on TLC at 9/8c. Six new celebrities will be introduced to ancestors and skeletons in the family closet. Aisha Tyler will be featured in the first episode. 

So get your bowl of popcorn and your WDYTYA Bingo Card and settle in for an hour of ancestor hunting. Bingo cards can be printed at http://www.geneabloggers.com/bingo-card-tonights-premiere/

Friday, April 1, 2016

Time to step outside your comfort zone and discover the world of computers!

Remember that wonderful day when dad arrived home with a big box and pulled out another box with a small round screen on it? That was the day your family had its very own television set.  You turned out all the lights and sat in the dark watching something called a test pattern. And slowly but surely everyone learned how to turn it on and change the channels.

But, maybe you weren’t so lucky and had to wait for a while before you had one of those tiny screens in your living room. So, what did you do? Well, you could go downtown with a lawn chair and sit on the sidewalk and watch the ones in the storefront window. OR, you could find a friend!!

With all the technology at our fingertips today it is hard for most of us to imagine that there are people out there who do not have any idea how to use a computer. Even harder to believe is that there are people out there who do not want anything to do with computers.

Of course, there are good things and equally bad things about technology. Good thing: having genealogy records at your finger tips. Bad thing: sitting up until 3am looking for just one more ancestor.
With genealogy societies using more and more social media and technology via electronic newsletters, websites, Facebook, and blogs there is an increasing need for all members to have some sort of computer access just to keep informed.

Just to be clear, computer skills are not required for membership in a chapter of OGS or most genealogy societies. It just helps. So, we need to explore ways for a member to stay in contact with their chapter without a computer.

The most obvious way is for the chapter to send a printed copy of the chapter newsletter to members without computer access. This provides basic information about the activities of the group - meetings, events and conferences, research articles, and limited databases. Limited, basic information.

Meanwhile online, many more things are happening and this is where these members miss out on a lot of information. The chapter website may contain last minute changes in meeting and program information. New databases are added to the site plus information about  other online databases to be searched. On Facebook, people are communicating about long lost ancestors they have found, Cousins are meeting cousins. Local information known only to “locals” is shared. Unfortunately all of this is missed by the member who has no online access.
So, what to do? Let’s go back to that family who had no television set in the early days of tv. You find a friend, a relative, or, instead of a storefront window, a library. Your newsletter can be sent to a friend or a grandchild. They can print a copy for you. Not only will you receive it sooner, but also in in color. (Remember when color tv came out?)

If you want to see what is on the society's website or Facebook page and group, invite friends and relatives over for dinner and ask them to bring a tablet or laptop. Yes, tablet!

Best of all, local libraries have computers available for your use and librarians can help you get started. Many libraries have classes to help you get comfortable with online access. Some libraries even have free one on one sessions.

Although computers are a great way to keep you in touch with your genealogy group, there is also a whole world of genealogy research out there online. It is to your advantage to step outside your comfort zone and go explore it.