Monday, December 19, 2011

Christmas Past

The years go by, pages of the calendar are torn off, holidays come and go and our lives progress minute by minute to what we call the future.  As a genealogist, I leap backward into the past, sometimes forgetting the day and time as well as the future.  With that leap comes memories of Christmas past.  The ghost of Christmas Past has never visited me, but in my mind I travel back in time.

One of my fond memories is of the enormous Christmas tree that my family decorated when I was five years old.  It was larger than life and seemed to fill the entire room.  As I grew older the trees grew smaller and shorter.  It wasn't a larger than life tree, I was just a small girl looking up at a large, tall tree.  But what a precious memory that has been.  I can still see the angel on the top and have never seen one like her.

As I decorate my Christmas tree of 2011, memories are conjured up about decorating trees in years past.  There was the thrill of seeing the lights on the tree and hoping that none would burn out.  The ornaments that students gave me still remain precious to me.  There are fragile ornaments that my children made in school.  Rounded out with home made ornaments, they make my tree festive and special.  If only I could find the angel that topped the tree over sixty years ago.

Terry .. Christmas at age 2
On my bookcase I have a collection of Santas.  There is one made of paper that my husband gave me years ago.  Another is an old ceramic Santa.  Then there is the large Santa in regal splendor.   It was a gift I gave to my Mother when she lived in assisted living.  She wanted her room decorated immediately after Thanksgiving.  The next day was not too soon.  I can still see her gently touching the garment of her Santa.  Little did I know that she would pass away less than two weeks later.

Christmas is for all ages.  I love the sights, smells and sounds of Christmas.  It is seeing awe in the eyes of children which we can than return in love through our eyes.  One of my favorite Christmas photographs is of my nephew, Terry.  He was two years ago.  Terry passed from us too soon at the age of 46.

Perhaps conjuring up memories brings moments of sadness, but we can always find love through sadness.  Merry Christmas to all of you ... and to all of you best memories.


Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Pinning History to the World

Partnered with Google, Historypin brings over 71,000 photos, videos, audio clips and stories to your computer in ways you have never imagined.  You can explore their collections and create your own collection of photographs linked to history.  It's fun, easy and addictive.  On the home page a video will take you through the highlights of Historypin in 90 seconds.  Be sure you watch it!

Click on "Explore the Map."  This brings up a Google map of the British Isles and continental Europe.  The fun is not limited to that part of the world.  Query boxes are located at the top of the map page.  You can enter search terms, such as a location or topic or combination of the two.  Next to that is a time frame that allows you to select the era of interest, or explore all of the time periods.  Let the whirling fun begin as you travel to that location in the world!

You can zoom in and out, change time periods and best of all, begin clicking on the photos that are pinned to the map.  A small photo will pop up along with information.  If you click on the pen and paper, a story will appears, sometimes with audio.  Zoom in on the map or in satellite view for a closer look around.

Historypin does even more.  In the description box of the photo, look for the double arrow.  Click on that and suddenly you are taken to a street view.  In the background is the street as it appears today with the old photograph superimposed over it.  To go back to the map and resume searching, look for the double arrow in the right hand portion of the screen.

Between GoogleEarth and Historypin, I may come up only for air.  Somebody order pizza delivery.  I'm glued to my computer!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Maine Town Records

Recently I discovered Maine Town Records at the Raymond H. Fogler Library, the University of Maine.  No, I didn't drive or fly to Maine.  The web page can be accessed anytime of the day or night wherever you are located.

Maine towns represented in town reports
Boothbay Harbor Town Report 1891
Not all towns are represented, but there are many on the web site with links to a variety of years of reports. The dates are usually from the mid 1800s to the late 1800s.  Information is different by towns, counties and type of report.  Expect to find information on resident taxpayers, non-resident taxpayers, insolvencies, teacher reports and businesses.  If you think this is "boring" information, think again.  Your ancestor may be listed in these reports.  The dates between 1880 and 1900 fill in with information that is lost to us on the 1890 U.S. Census.

One of the links on the web page is Windows on Maine.  Here you can search and browse to find information on places and topics in Maine.  There are moving images, maps, photographs, texts and databases.

Caribou Town Report 1891 
The web site also hosts a special project, Plantation of Lakeville.  Even if Lakeville doesn't interest you, drop in for a visit to see what is digitized regarding the town.  Beginning in 1859 the records include the petition for organization, list of voters and return of enrolled militia.

You will want to bookmark this excellent page for reference in your Maine research.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Genealogy Webinars

There are many genealogy webinars available on Internet.  You need to plan in advance to attend them at their specific day and time.  Some are free and some cost to attend.  However, you don't to fill up the car with gas, get airplane or train tickets, reserve rooms ... they are brought to you on your computer.

Michael John Neill has announced his Genealogy Webinars.  One started yesterday, but you are in luck because there are still webinars scheduled through October 16th.  Michael is an excellent speaker and very knowledgable about genealogical research.  You can keep up with his research ideas and tips at his blog,  He also writes  Casefile Clues, a subscription newsletter,  delivered to your e-mail address weekly.  I particularly enjoy his blog, Genealogy Tip of the Day, which provides a very quick read about a genealogy topic.  Do you have problems reading old documents?  Check in with Michael at his blog, Daily Genealogy Transcriber.  Another blog he writes is Search Tip of the Day.  You will want to check out all of them as they are beneficial to researchers.

The schedule for the remaining webinars that he presents:
Two German Women in Illinois - 23 September
Seeing Patterns and Organizing Information - 25 September
Determining Your Own Migration Trail - 1 October
Introduction to Federal Land States - 16 October

There is a fee of $4.25 for each webinar and you will also receive a PDF handout several days before the seminar, along with instructions.  All of this information can be found at Genealogy Webinars with Genealogist Michael John Neill.

Check out the webinar schedule and learn from Michael John Neill.  He is one of the best!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Finding City Directories

Salt Lake City, Utah 1869 Directory by Smith
Genealogists are adept at using federal and state census records, but often stop short of continuing their research in city directories.  Taken at various years and locations, city directories can supply interesting information, plus fill in gaps between census years.  There are many in transcription and/or digital format on Internet.  You can also find them in libraries, historical societies and archives.  The trick is to find them!

Miriam Midkiff's Online Historical Directories Website is a great place to start when looking for online directories.  There you will find links to city directories for the United States and other countries.  Not all states have complete listings because it is a work in progress.  Some of the links will take you to free sites for city directories and others to subscription sites.  The city directories are for a variety of years and may be city, county, town directories, as well as business and farm directories.

Doniphan County, Kansas Directory, 1868-1869 by Smith
When using the website, be sure you read Miriam's blog, Online Historical Directories,  for updates and interesting information about directories.  Her web page is always under construction as directories are located.  It's one of those you bookmark and remind yourself to check frequently.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Tennessee Formation Maps

I have a strong ancestral heritage in the state of Tennessee.  Anything Tennessee catches my attention.  Because no genealogical study and research is complete if you do not know about county formations, I am recommend Tennessee Formation Maps web site for those researching the state.  At the top of the web page is a section called Interactive Maps from 1776 to 1985.  You can play the maps, go back and forth between years and view specific years.  I recommend that you play the maps and then view each separately.

To enhance your knowledge of Tennessee county formations, read the chronology in text.  This begins with Washington District of North Carolina which was formed 12 November 1776.  There is also a list of Tennessee discontinued counties.  I had never heard of Spencer County which was formed in 1785 from Sullivan County and renamed Hawkins County in 1786.  But I did know about Sullivan and Hawkins counties.  No genealogist likes to even think about destroyed records, burned or ravished courthouses, but it happens.  There is also a list on the web page of Tennessee destroyed courthouses.

A study of the chronology also reveals the changes in government in Tennessee.  In 1784 three counties, Washington, Greene and Sullivan, formed the provisional State of Franklin.  If your ancestors lived in northeast Tennessee in that time period, the records may refer to them as being in the State of Franklin.  Three years later North Carolina gained supremacy over the State of Franklin and once again they were part of North Carolina until ceded to the federal government.  A document that I have refers to my ancestor as living in the "Territory of the United States South of the Ohio River."  That could encompass a broad area, but when named in 1790 it was in reference to what would become the state of Tennessee.  Finally on 1 June 1796 Tennessee was admitted as a state.

By reviewing the maps and county formations, you can place your Tennessee ancestor in the proper time period and place.  This one web page is outstanding for genealogical information!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Learning from Blogs

Blogs are places where I learn, exchange ideas and information, and catch up on what my genealogy friends are doing.  It seems each week I find blogs I want to follow.  Some have infrequent posts (as this one does at times), but reading archived posts can also be interesting.

Today I was reading my friend Leland Meitzler's Genealogy Blog.  His post "Discover the Van Dusens of New Amsterdam - 1627-2011" has a link to the full article in the New York Times, published on 22 July 2011.  The name Van Dusen popped right out and I knew that I would learn from that article since I research the family in New Amsterdam.  Thanks, Leland!

Each day I read the short, but informative blog written by Michael John Neill called Genealogy Tip of the Day.  On 19 July 2011 he wrote about the terms devise and bequeath.  Thanks Michael for informing us that devise refers to real property and bequeath to personal property.

Since grade school days I have been fascinated with the Lost Colony of Roanoke.  The history book account sparked an interest in mysteries that need to be solved.  My interest was later rekindled when I discovered early ancestors living in the Outer Banks of North Carolina.  They weren't members of the Lost Colony, though.  Because of my interest in that part and place of history, I frequently read the blog, Lost Colony Research Group.   If you enjoy history and genealogy in combination, check out the blog, Jamestown Adventurers.  It is a part of Virginia  You might want to also check out their web page.

Now is the time to celebrate the Civil War.  There are many blogs pertaining to the war, research, reenactments and events.  I would be hard pressed to figure out my favorite.  To find some of those great blogs, check out Best of the Civil War Blogs.

For a "trip" to a foreign country, read a blog.  You don't need to pack a suitcase or make travel arrangements!  I like the blogs Scotlands Genealogy and Scottish GENES.  Linda Elliott writes a great blog about genealogy, English genealogy in particular, at Mad About Genealogy.  Family Tree Tours brings us the blog, Heritage Travel.  There are photographs, links, videos and many research tips.  If you have European ancestry, be sure to click and read.

Some bloggers write to share family experiences, such as can be found at my sister-in-law's blog, Those Old Memories.  Others share research travels and experience.  One of my favorites is Reflections From the Fence, written by Carol Stevens.   Travel with Carol as she and her husband and dogs go searching for adventure and ancestors.  Learning skills are shared at Adventures in Genealogy Education written by Angela McGhie.

There is a lot to learn by reading blogs, such as the Library of Congress Blog.  Not every post contains information about genealogy, but they are interesting and you will a great deal about the library, history and yes ... genealogy.  The Allen County Public Library's blog, The Genealogy Center, brings news about the library, plus research information.

If I didn't mention your blog, it doesn't mean I don't read it and enjoy it.  Hey bloggers ... keep up the good work!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

The Vietnam Wall

If you have ever been to the Vietnam Wall in Washington, DC, I am sure you share my feelings that it is awesome and sobering.  Even the traveling Vietnam Wall evokes the same feelings.  There are 58,195 names on the wall.

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall page provides a way of searching for names on the wall, determining their exact location.  If you locate a person of interest, there may be more information, such as a photograph, biographical information and postings from friends and relatives.

The Virtual Wall has links to state and town/city information on those whose names is inscribed on the wall.

Take a virtual tour of the Vietnam Wall at View the Wall.  Let your computer explore the names and areas of the wall in your search for a relative or loved on.

They are lost but certainly not forgotten.  As I have seen my reflection in the Vietnam Wall, I am thankful for the sacrifices that these men and women gave so that we can all be here to enjoy our freedom.  May they rest in peace.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Midwest Family History Expo

Mark your calendars for the next Family History Expo, July 29-30, 2011 in Overland Park, Kansas.  More details are available at the Family History Expo web site.  You can save $25 by registering NOW online.

The Expo will begin with an inspiring message from Lisa Louise Cooke, the producer and host of the Genealogy Gems Podcast.  She will also be teaching.  Once you hear her keynote speech you will want to start learning new research methods.

M. Bridget Cook will be the featured speaker at the dinner on July 29th.  She is a best selling author and biographer.  Her book, Shattered Silence, has been featured on Oprah, Dr. Phil, Good Morning America and other national TV shows and in magazines.  She will also be teaching classes at the Expo.  All of these great speakers and classes can be found at the agenda on the Midwest Family History Expo web site.

There will be vendors and more vendors, including FamilySearch, AGES-online, RootsMagic, and the Jackson County Genealogical Society.  Be sure you stop by the Ask The Pros table in the exhibit hall.  Who can't resist free genealogical advise? We don't even use a crystal ball!

Young and old alike (including those in the middle) will enjoy and benefit from the Family History Expo.  The theme this year is "Where Ol' Dogs Learn New Trick!"  Indeed they do, but we also teach puppies about old tricks they need to know.

This is the 2nd Annual Family History Expo in the Kansas City area.  It will be held at the Overland Park Conference Center, 6000 College Blvd., Overland Park, Kansas.

PS .... my new book Genealogical Research in Nebraska will be available at the Family Roots Publishing Co. vending booth.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Keeping Company with Cyndi

Have you noticed that Cyndi's List has a new look? The purple is still there to welcome us to her web site, but things have changed and I think for the better.

I begin my morning with an online preview of my bank activity as I don't want to become insolvent! Next are the newspapers that I read online and then social networking and blogs and weather. Time is then devoted to Cyndi's List. It doesn't take long to click on the "Browse New Links" button and see the new activity. On a daily basis this is updated, not only for new links, but for new data that is added.

If this is your first time to click on the new links, you can catch up by going to each day's entries. It may take time, but the results are worth the check. There are many other links and categories for searching on her web site, but just like taking morning pills, I won't miss a click on "Browse New Links."

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Genealogy Summer

I am devoting this summer of 2011 to genealogy. That includes time spent with family as they are part of the genealogy. It will be fun!

In a few days I will be leaving for northwest Nebraska for a family get-together. From there my sister-in-law (we are the You Go Genealogy Girls) and I will leave for Salt Lake City. This is our third annual trip to spend time in the Family History Library. We are driving and will be there for two weeks.

On Thursday, June 16th, the Family History Expo will be here in North Platte, Nebraska. I will be one of the speakers. The next day we leave for Rapid City, South Dakota for a one-day Expo. The other circuit lecturers are going on to Sheridan, Wyoming from there. I will be coming back to North Platte, doing laundry and repacking to join them in Loveland, Colorado for the Colorado Family History Expo.

That takes care of June. On July 6th I will arrive in Alliance, Nebraska for the Civil War Conference on July 8th and 9th at the Knight Museum and Sandhills Center. I will be presenting three lectures.

The fun doesn't end there, so stay tuned to the Family History Expo web site for more details of what is happening in July and August. Maybe an Expo will be coming to your area. You won't want to miss the experience of attending one of them.

In August I will presenting a noon lecture about my new book, Genealogical Research in Nebraska. This will be at the North Platte Public Library on August 18th. Packed up and ready from there, I will journey to northwest Nebraska for my 50th Class Reunion. Yes, I admitted the years.

My wish list includes a trip to the east coast in September to visit family in Virginia, Pennsylvania and Tennessee. Of course, I have already started on to-do lists for genealogical research.

While I'm in Salt Lake City, read about the trip and what I'm discovering at the You Go Genealogy Girls blog. If you are near one of my summer lecturing events, be sure to introduce yourself and say "hey."

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Family History Expos Announces New Events for 2011

The spirit of family history is alive and well. Family History Expos rise to the challenge to reach out to more individuals seeking expert assistance by setting up more events in more cities, bringing education closer to home for both the curious and experienced family history seeker. There will be three events held prior to the 3rd Annual Colorado Family History Expo. The Expo will be in North Platte, Nebraska, Rapid City, South Dakota and Sheridan, Wyoming. Not your area? New events are lining up across the U.S., so stay tuned.

President and founder of Family History Expos, Inc., Holly T. Hansen, commented, "With rising fuel costs and other factors in our economy, we have taken the challenge to create more events closer to home for many of our customers and newsletter subscribers."

The circuit event will feature notable speakers, exhibits, a lite lunch/dinner and the opportunity to "Ask-the-Pros" a few personal research questions. Each event will culminate with a closing session and prize drawings for the attendees.

North Platte Expo - June 16th 4 pm to 9:30 pm
Holiday Inn Express
300 Holiday Frontage Rd.
North Platte, NE 69101

Rapid City Expo - June 18th 9 am to 5:00 pm
Rushmore Plaza Holiday Inn
505 North Fifth Street
Rapid City, SD 57701

Sheridan Expo - June 21st - 4 pm to 9:30 pm
Holiday Inn
1809 Sugarland Drive
Sheridan, WY 82801

Colorado Family History Expo - June 24th, 25th - 8 am to 6 pm
Embassy Suites, Loveland - Hotel, Spa & Convention Center
4705 Clydesdale Parkway
Loveland, CO 80538

Visit for more information and to get in on early-bird registration. You can also contact them at:

PO Box 187
Morgan, UT 84050

See 'ya at an Expo!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Something About Blogs

Everybody has their favorite blogs that they faithfully read. If you are a reader of mine, thank you. As a writer of blogs, I am all too aware that it takes time and thought to prepare a blog. Writing comes easy for me. Even so, I find myself at the end of the day, with somewhat blurry eyes, mentally reminding myself that I didn't blog as planned. There is always tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow.

Along the way, faithful readers loose interest or they move on to other new, fresh material in other blogs. Sometimes a blogger will post a few lines or a paragraph stating that life has interfered. They have illnesses, family problems, not enough time at the moment. In fact, maybe they have not received enough support.

Have you, the reader, thought to thank a blogger? Occasionally it pays off to say those two very important words, "thank you." Maybe you are not a writer, but you are a reader who has a voice. Let it be heard. You an also express your opinion. Don't be afraid to do it. The genealogy community awaits your response.

At the end of most blogs there is a place shown as Comments. Just click there and leave a message. As a blogger I look forward to receiving comments. Some are just words of praise and others are suggestions or differences of opinion. I welcome all of those because eventually they have an influence on how I blog, write and ultimately how I view my research.

Genealogy is not an isolated endeavor. Whether you are a hobbyist or a professional, contact has to be made with people. Eventually there is sharing, whether for pay, as a volunteer or family member. There are differences, but basically information or ideas are shared. Blogs are a sharing of ideas and thoughts. There are a wide variety of genealogy blogs on Internet, all needing readers and contributors of comments. Please feel free to comment!

I have my favorite blogs also. When there are days, weeks or months of silence I usually move on to something else to read. That doesn't mean the blog has ceased to exist or that you can't support the blogger. If there is a link to that person's e-mail on the blog, click on it and leave an e-mail saying that you miss the reading the blog.

Appreciate the blogs you read. Consider starting your own blog, for all the right reasons. Most importantly when you read a blog you like, leave a thank you that can be seen.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

A Good Book

Recently I purchased Lisa Louise Cooke's new book, The Genealogist's Google Toolbox. It is better than good ... it's excellent. Over the past few years Lisa Louise Cooke has become a popular name in genealogy circles, along with her web site presence of Genealogy Gems. She produces and hosts the Genealogy Gems Podcast which is available in iTunes, the monthly Family Tree Magazine Podcast and videocasts for Family History Expos. She also blogs at Genealogy Gems News Blog. Yes, she's a busy lady.

Her 209 page, 8.5x11 inch book is packed with information and illustrations. I love the illustrations. Why did I need to buy another genealogy book? I play Lisa Louise Cooke's great CDs on Google Earth over and over. Once involved in actual Google Earth use, I have to go back and review them. It will now be easier with the book.

Google is a very popular search engine, widely used by genealogists. The book brings up many ideas and tips about the effective use of Google for genealogy searching. You will learn about Google Alerts, iGoogle, Books, Translation, Gmail and more. There is great information about Google Earth and creating Family History Tour Maps, adding video and images to your Google Earth creations and a bundle more. The book can be purchased from a variety of vendors.

Thanks Lisa for writing such a marvelous book. Your expertise in Google and Google Earth is valuable and appreciated.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Some Women On My Tree

As genealogists we encounter many females in our lineages. There are the usual Marys, Sarahs, Anns, and occasionally an odd-ball name such as Submit. It is sad when they have no surname. Taxing all of our knowledge and patience, we try to find a document that identifies them. Maybe a probate file naming her as the daughter of so and so. Maybe a baptismal record naming her parents.

Identified women on my pedigree chart are fascinating. They are attached to a husband, but hopefully they never lost their true identity. They seem to cry out that their stories be told. For some it is easy and for others it is not. If you have stories about your female ancestors, be sure they are written down and passed down.

It is difficult to determine which females in my family touched my life the most. Many stood out as important people. I hope when I have passed that my legend and story will be told and have an impact on my descendants.

Three women who have counted in my life ...

My maternal grandmother was Nanne Jane Lewis Horne (Granny) born in 1889 in North Carolina. I visited my grandparents in their log cabin nestled in the mountains of northeast Tennessee when I was three years old. It was nine years before I saw them again, but yet there was a bond and family tie when I walked into their cabin. Granny married Samuel Stephen Horne (Grandpa Steve) in 1909. Why was she so special? She was a story-teller. When I became interested in genealogy she told me stories which I had to sort through to determine fact from fiction. Granny was a bit taller than Grandpa. Sometimes she towered over him in opinion also. I am told that when he wanted to join the CCC she refused, stood her ground, saying she was a Republican and they would eat turtle before he joined the CCC. When I turned 21 she encouraged me to vote and according to her the best vote would be cast for a Republican. Voting was a big thing for her ... a privilege she had earned and deserved as a woman. I have her butter churn, quilt and the letter she wrote telling me I should vote.

Granny's sister, Aunt Bertha Lewis Mahala, never had children. She was ten years younger than Granny and a teacher. Aunt Bertha was also the keeper of the records. It was the Lewis Family Genealogy Record. She was responsible for the Lewis reunions, staying in touch with family as well as delving into documents for family clues. She was a great influence in my life. Having graduated from Appalachian State College in Boone, North Carolina she had high hopes I would come live with her and attend school there, becoming a teacher. Instead I became a genealogist.

My late husband's great grandmother was a fascinating woman. She inspired me that women can do anything they set their mind and heart to do. Martha Anne Watts was born in 1875 in Missouri. She married and divorced, all within a span of about three years. Two marriages later she married William Henry Zehrung in Box Butte Co., Nebraska. He had three, motherless children. Will and Anne had three children of their own before divorcing. She left with the children in the middle of the night on a train bound for Denver, Colorado. Fending on her own, at times almost destitute, Grandma eventually stood proud and tall as the founder of a hospital in Denver. It was the precursor of a rest home. She was an inventor, nurse and business woman. Another marriage later changed her name to Coulter and ended in divorce. Newspaper accounts portray her as a gutsy woman when she was thrown in jail by the mayor of Denver. Grandma became very wealthy, but eventually lost her money through the unworthy schemes of her son. She died a pauper in the hospital she founded. Even so, she was an opinionated woman who had determination along with strength to do as she pleased.

Many more women are at the top of my list of interesting female ancestors. How many do you have? Have you told their story?

Monday, March 21, 2011

Today's Genealogist

Can you do genealogical research without turning on a computer? Yes, to some extent. If you wish to research in slow motion as we did BC (Before Computers), then be my guest.

There are times we do need to slow down and do brain exercising genealogical research. If you have never learned to evaluate evidence and develop research plans, these are not just for the experts. Start looking at your research problem and review the information you have found.

It is not totally necessary to read blogs, tweets on Twitter or post and read on Facebook. However, some of the best leads and information comes through these social networking channels. At some point you do have to stop reading and begin applying.

The extent of genealogy databases on Internet is phenomenal. The development of these databases is surging and swelling on a day to day basis. But why not? We need them and we ask for them. Miss one day and you have to play catch up. About a month ago I checked FamilySearch for a marriage or any helpful information in Ohio that would give me the name of Grandma Mary Maria's first husband. Nothing appeared to be there, but just the other day by doing various types of searches, even narrowing my needs down to a certain county in Ohio, I discovered his name. Actually I went in the back door in Iowa records, but all on FamilySearch.

While living in Iowa, I soon discovered the benefit of mud rooms. Nobody in rural Iowa comes to the front door except FedEx and UPS. People come for visits and to bring garden goodies through the back door into the mud room. But sometimes we forget to go in the back door with our research. Searching should not always be direct, but by exploring all options.

I was able to find Grandma Mary Maria's first husband named on their daughter's death certificate in Iowa. I had checked one reel of microfilm in the Family History Library in Salt Lake City several years ago. The daughter's parents were not named. Venturing no further, I waited (not patiently). With all the indexing of records and accessibility on Internet, I was able to locate the information on another Iowa film that I had not checked at the library. Quick, easy, but it took some thought and patience until the information popped up on my computer.

The genealogy world is praising the wonderful new genealogy search engine Mocavo. It is introduced to us as the world's largest free genealogy search engine with new sites being added daily. How do you maneuver around Internet if you don't have these powerful tools known as search engines? Mocavo is not going to replace Google, but by using both of them, we are better equipped to find information. However, don't forget to go in the back door.

Have we lost our thought process and patience because of Internet? We can turn those cyber experiences into positive thought processes. Learn by doing. Explore all possibilities. Think it out, write it out, but by all means do the research. If it takes you five minutes to find the information, you are a whiz. If it takes you ten hours to find the information, you are still a whiz because it would have taken you one year before we had computers.

Photo: Grandma Mary Maria's daughter, Ann Jane Williams Spencer 1841-1907

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Web, Wikis and Webinars

If you are seeing the letter "w", you are not alone. Genealogists today have web, wikis and webinars on the mind. Talk and blogging is continually about these "w" items. But why not ... we are a web-oriented group of people.

Some of my blogging colleagues have written about WikiTree. I am going to give you my thoughts about it. Give it a try and see what you think.

WikiTree was started in 2008 as a free and collaborative project. Whatever is on there is edited and owned by the contributor. You can register as private or public, share what you wish with groups of people or individuals, then jump right in and download a GEDCOM. Of course, the ultimate goal is to have somebody contact you about an elusive ancestors you have posted on on WikiTree. As you locate information, you can make contact or download a GEDCOM file.

Upon opening WikiTree it is somewhat frightening to see all the names. They represent 1,066,644 profiles submitted by 24,430 people or WikiTreers. Rather than clicking on a group of surnames, scroll to the bottom of the page and click on "Help." There you will be able to read all the pertinent information on how to create your own profile and links, add information, delete information and search for information.

Once you either create or search a profile, be sure to check for photos and the family tree. Also available is a public bulletin board for messages. Give it a try and start sharing on WikiTree.

Webinars are popping up on our computers by the week and month. They are hosted in a variety of places which makes it difficult to figure out what is being broadcast by the day or week. Attendees have to register to attend a webinar. Some are free and some are not. While many have been archived, it is still fun to listen to them as they happen and also dialog during the presentation.

The blog GeneaWebinars will keep you posted on what is happening in the world of genealogy webinars. At the bottom of the blog is an interacting calendar of webinars by day, time and topic. You can click and obtain more information and register.

These are wonderful ways to expand your genealogy knowledge without leaving home. Once you get started with wikis and webinars, I am sure you will be hooked.

Monday, March 7, 2011

WPA to the Rescue

In 1929 when the Great Depression hit the United States, millions of people lost their jobs. The fallen economy led to President Roosevelt introducing "The New Deal" in 1933. The programs were designed to put people to work and get the economy moving in an upward direction.

The Works Progress Administration (WPA) was one of the programs. Besides building and improving upon America's infrastructure, there was also funding for arts, history and culture. In 1935 with about $4.88 billion dollars, the WPA began employing Americans. They spent approximately $11 billion and employed 8.5 million Americans. Workers earned anywhere from $15 to $90 per month. In 1939 it was renamed Works Projects Administration. They funded the Historical Records Survey (HRS) whose workers documented resources for research into American history. They created soundex for federal census which many of us have used, especially before the digitals and images on Internet.

The Historical Records Survey also compiled indexes of vital records, internments, school records, maps, military records, newspapers and more. Much of the work for the Historical Records Survey was done for the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), state historical societies and state archives. The work done in this project is still in the possession of many of the original repositories. Most of the records have been microfilmed and indexed. In some cases the originals are still stored in boxes, untouched while others have been destroyed. The WPA ended on 30 June 1943.

There are many WPA cemetery record surveys on Internet. Keep in mind when using these records that burials after the time period of the WPA will not appear on the list.

Access Genealogy has a WPA Cemetery Database consisting of 17,744 records. The details contain information on where the person is buried, date of death, surname and given name. The South Dakota State Historical Society has a Cemetery Record Search web site that contains the WPA Cemetery Project information (pre-1940s) plus any updates their office has received.

There are original WPA Grave Registrations for Iowa on Be sure to look at the list of counties that are contained in this database.

Several counties have WPA Grave Registration records on Internet. An example is the Somerset Co., Pennsylvania WPA Cemetery Transcriptions. You can search by last name, township or see digitals of the actual images.

Not everything has been indexed or in digital format on Internet. Reels of microfilm can still be found in state libraries, historical societies or archives. The Family History Library in Salt Lake City has film of WPA Grave Registration records. You should also Google for results of the WPA Cemetery projects or check out specific states and counties at the USGenWeb project.
These records are beneficial when you are trying to locate information that is no longer readable on a tombstone. It may have been in good condition when canvassed by a WPA worker. Missing stones may have been there in the 1930s and 1940s.

Description of photo: Historical Records Survey workers inventorying and surveying records in the sub-cellar below river level in New York City.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Education for the Genealogist

Do you have a few minutes or an hour or two in your busy day? Why not go back to school and become an educated genealogist. Even if you think you know everything about genealogical research, you will still benefit from the many videos and webinars on Internet.

FamilySearch has a great listing of Research Classes Online. They cover research in England, Germany, Ireland, Italy, New Zealand, Poland, Mexico, Russia and the United States. Other topics are Reading Handwritten Records and Search Principles and Tools. Classes are anywhere from 25 minutes to an hour in length. Some have downloads in PDF format.

There are excellent PMC Webcasts available at the Association of Professional Genealogists web page. Some of the very best speakers present topics such as A Key to Success: Your Online Presence, Choosing the Best Continuing Education Opportunities, and the very intriguing topic of The Bachelor: Reconstructing A Solitary Life Using Obscure & Far-Flung Records. Their webcasts consist of the speaker in audio/video along with the slide presentation.

Online Presentations of various topics can be found at the Mid-Continent Public Library web page. The topics are very interesting, such as Colonial Land, State and Special Census, Locating and Using Maps in Your Research and Cherokee Genealogy.

Legacy Family Tree is host for webinars. Check out their web page for topics and information on how to register. If you cannot attend a webinar on your computer at the designated time, they are usually archived for a few weeks. You can always return to the web page and click on an archived topic of interest. Webinars, which are a type of web conferencing, are normally more than an hour in length.

If you like webinars, sign up for the Jamboree Extension Series, produced by the Southern California Genealogical Society. They are new to the area of genealogy webinars. The series begins on Saturday, March 5th. Going out of the starting gate is Thomas MacEntee, known in genealogy circles as THE professional genealogy social networker. Of course, he will be speaking about Social Networking -- New Horizons for Genealogists. Be sure to register early for a session. The topics are all very interesting and the speakers are knowledgable.

All of the videos and webinars are free. You can stop a presentation at any time and return to it. It's a great way to become educated for free at home.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Touring the Civil War

Whether you travel to numerous Civil War battle sites of take in re-enactments, you can still have a part in the Sesquicentennial celebration of the Civil War.

One of the most intriguing web pages about the Civil War is Virtual Civil There you can link to the Civil War in the News, Civil War on TV, This Date, Civil War Events, the Gallery, Original Photos, Re-enactments, Remembrance Day, Confederate Heritage and a Photo Showcase. The web site is very colorful.

If your ancestor fought at a specific battle, be sure to check out Battlefields Today. You will see many current photographs of battlefields which will enlighten your knowledge of an ancestor's participation.

Start looking for information on a Civil War ancestor and then begin studying the Civil War in books, blogs, web pages and documents. There will be many new Civil War web sites appearing this year in honor of the war.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

New and Not So New

Type in your browser and you will taken directly to the new FamilySearch web site. It is no longer referred to as Beta. The new site has a different look and feel than the old one we have been using since 1999. It is difficult to part with old friends, but in time they are replaced with new friends.

Try it out and see if you like it. At the first attempt, you will probably decide you want the old web page back. It's still there, at least for a while. If you have bookmarked it, the old one will return to your screen. You can also scroll to the bottom of the new web site and click on "Go to the previous site."

To access images on the new site, you will need to register (free). The link can be found at the top right hand portion of the new web site's opening page. In the same location, click on Help. Be sure to read about the differences between the two versions of FamilySearch. Keep in mind that the new web site is not complete. There are some functions you will not find there that are still on the old FamilySearch site. You may want to go back and forth for a while. There are also several tutorials that are helpful.

I encourage you to spend about an hour watching the FamilySearch Bloginar Presentation, December 2010. You can pause to take a break. By watching this, you will learn a good deal about the functions of the new web site, what is upcoming and how to more effectively perform searches.

Change is good and FamilySearch allows you to take baby steps to get used to it, also mindful you may need the security blanket of the old web site. For now, I use both sites. In time I plan on becoming very knowledgable and proficient with the new Family Search.

Here's a good tip. If you get lost and want to quickly return to the home web page, just click on the tree logo with FamilySearch through it. It appears on every page you open.

Begin 2011 by learning about the new FamilySearch!