Sunday, April 26, 2009

Writing Family History

I am redoing my Berger family history project that I wrote last year. When I originally wrote it, including sources and allied lines wasn't a top priority as there was a time crunch so now I am amending the information to include all those things before I give copies to my cousins. While working on the book it got me to thinking about all the other family history writing projects I've done and am doing on my branches. It also got me to thinking about all the things I should have done and all the things I did and wish I hadn't while writing family history. Here are some of the things I've learned the hard way:
  • Include sources. Even if the person you are giving the book to doesn't care about that sort of thing, future generations (who will inherit the book) might and it also makes the book more professional and gives the information more credence and credibility.
  • Don't tackle a big branch or project on your first time out. I made the mistake of trying to write a genealogy book on my Jackman family for my first project. I originally wanted to make it about every descendant of the progenitor of the family in America who came over to Massachusetts in the 1600s. Since that quickly proved too daunting, I narrowed it down to my line, the progenitor's grandson, who came to New Hampshire around 1700. Then that proved too overwhelming so I narrowed it down further to my ancestor who came to New York around 1800. Finally I wised up and scrapped the project (for now) and settled on a smaller branch of my tree which consisted of just three wonderfully manageable generations.
  • If you REALLY want to do a big project like my Jackman idea, then consider doing it in increments. Start with your immediate family and trace back on your line. If you are still motivated enough and undaunted, then tackle allied lines BUT start with close allied lines like your grandfather's siblings and their families or your great-grandfather's. If you are still going strong on the project, THEN start on the allied lines of great-great-grandparents and on back. By doing it this way, if you cop out at any stage you still have SOMETHING and what's more, by doing it this way you are establishing a foundation that can be built upon easily if you ever revisit the project.
  • If the project is more than fifty pages, include an index. Trust me, you and anyone who reads the book will be glad you did. If the project is an e-book or PDF, however, the find feature pretty much eliminates the need for an index.
  • This will sound like a pretty silly tip to some, but trust me, I've learned this one the hard way and I want to prevent it from happening to anyone else: number the pages! If the book is not professionally bound you'll be glad the pages are numbered. I've had loose projects fall and sail off into a million un-numbered pieces and I've also had overanxious cousins who wanted to make copies take projects apart and mix up pages. There isn't much worse than having to sort through a 200 page book, trying to get it back in order.
  • Include the edition number. Even if the book is a first edition, it needs to be marked as such. That way, if anyone else besides you comes across the work and any subsequent revisions, they will know which is the most recent and (hopefully) most correct.
  • Include pedigree charts! I actually made the mistake of NOT including these in one project and looking back on it now, anyone who finds that book and doesn't know the family history like I do will be TOTALLY lost and probably give up reading after about page five.
  • Include a generation system. You can either be generation one or the furthest back ancestor covered can be, just be sure to mark everyone as a part of a specific generation. If possible follow the system of including in parenthesis the direct male line to the ancestor, for example: George Washington Wellons (John Chapple, Richard, John).
  • Include visuals, lots and LOTS of visuals. You could be recounting the rousing story of how your ancestor was abducted by Indians and sold to French fur traders or the story of how your ancestor made the trek across the country in a covered wagon during the Gold Rush, but without visuals, the story won't be nearly as interesting. Page after page of text is boring. People are visual, especially in the current times and with recent generations like mine where video games, television and the internet are almost necessary to function. Colors, pictures, maps, documents, flags and a variation in fonts used (make sure they are easy to read fonts though) make anything a more stimulating read. Visuals also add necessary context and background to the project and make it and the information richer.
  • Break the project up into sections, for example, chapters (or volumes if the project is really large). This makes reading easier and also makes it easier to locate people within the project.
  • Focus the project. Not much is more overwhelming than trying to write family history without a focus. It also isn't a good idea to go into a project thinking that you will discover a theme as you go. You end up with a lot of superfluous information and scrapped work and lost time if you go into it without a focus. Also, the narrower the focus the better, I've found. For example, write a biography on a specific ancestor or do a project strictly on the male line of a particular branch. Once you have figured out your focus, sit down and make an outline then go see if there are enough resources to make it a viable project. Once you've established that a story can be mined from the chosen topic, try and find others connected with the ancestor or theme chosen. Interview them if possible and try and collect information from them if they are willing to share. Once you have things in order and a clear focus check over the original outline and revise if necessary. After all this, start out writing with a contents page (which is basically just the outline) and write from there and around that page.

Well, those are my tips, hopefully someone will find them of use. Just remember, what works for me won't necessarily work for you. A certain amount of trial and error is involved in anything we do and the lessons we learn from our mistakes are usually invaluable so don't go into a project thinking it will be all smooth sailing. I find writing family history very rewarding and I've actually learned a fair amount of family facts from doing research for these projects. Perhaps the most rewarding thing about writing family history, however, for me is the opportunities for sharing and communicating with family that it presents and the habit these projects have of bringing us closer together and collectively interested in our family's past. If you haven't done any family history writing projects, I highly encourage it. To make the experience even more rewarding, consider including siblings, parents, cousins, etc. in the process and take them on the journey with you.

Namesakes 2: Joseph Stillson Webb

(This is part 2 in a series of posts on famous monikers in my family tree and the famous people who influenced my ancestors so much that they named their children after these movers and shakers of the day.)

Everyone knows who the famous Joseph Stillson is, right? Right?! Okay, so this moniker isn't so much nationally famous as regionally so. Dr. Joseph Stillson was a prominent and important physician in Lawrence Co., Indiana in the mid-1800s and an early settler to that place. You won't find him in any history books or national rolls of honor but to the people of Marion Twp. he must have been a very important figure and pillar of the community. The book "History of Lawrence and Monroe Counties, Indiana" has this to say about Joseph: "a native of the East, located here in the forties and practiced his profession probably forty years, dying about 1878. The book "Transactions of the Indiana State Medical Society" offers a better biography:

"After obtaining a good general education in the East, he came to Bedford in 1836 and taught school, and at the same time pursued his medical studies with the late Dr. Foote. In 1839 he attended medical lectures in the University of Louisville, and in 1840 began practice in Nashville, Brown Co., Ind.. and while there was admitted to the bar, and was afterward admitted to the Lawrence county bar. In 1840 he settled in Harrodsburg, but in 1841 he returned to Bedford and remained there until his death.

Dr. Stillson did a laborious practice, but ever kept abreast with his confreres in the study of the advancing science of medicine. He was a member of the Lawrence County Medical Society, the State Medical Society, and the American Medical Association. He was devoted to the interests of education and was active in all local enterprises of this kind.

In 1840 he married Miss Eliza Reddick, who, with two sons and two daughters, survive him. He was a member of the Christian Church."

The article also mentions that he was born in Newtown, CT on 8 Aug 1815 and died in Bedford on 15 Sept 1885.
My great-great-grandmother's brother, Joseph Stillson Webb, was born in Marion, Lawrence, IN on 9 Feb 1850. Since the person Joseph was named after was a doctor, I have always wondered if he was delivered by Dr. Joseph Stillson. In any case, it is known that he was named for the local doctor. Joseph Stillson Webb left Indiana with his family and lived with them from Illinois to Kansas to Colorado. When Joseph's father, Andrew left for Oregon and California, Joseph stayed behind in Colorado and resided in the Durango area. He married Sarah "Sadie" Dandridge in the early 1870s and they had a son, Lewis, in 1873. Lewis is thought to have died young and nothing beyond the age of seven is known about him. Joseph lived until about the 1920s and Sarah's death date was also probably around the same timeframe.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Blogging Prompt #16

Believe it or not but in the real world I'm actually very good about meeting deadlines. Unfortunately, in the blogosphere that usually isn't the case. If good intentions were nickels I'd be a millionaire because I usually DO plan on participating in all the geneablogger things that go on each month (or week) and even start posts about these things. Then I get sidetracked and don't remember that I had started these posts until about a week after the deadline. Hopefully, the fact that I'm doing this now is a sign for a brighter future for me, one in which I actually pay attention to prompt deadlines and meet them... Anyway, here are my genealogy goals:

1. pay more attention to geneablogger deadlines (surprise surprise!)
2. participate in a carnivale
3. go on more genealogy vacations/research trips
4. go to a family history center (the worst part is that I live about five minutes away from one!)
5. visit the California archives and library (again, only about five minutes away for me)
6. do more RAOGK and look-ups for people
7. scan all the letters and postcards (and there are A LOT of them) that have been collecting dust for almost a year
8. organize all my genealogy data including tipping all the stuff that I have that I know is wrong but can't seem to toss.
9. join a Genealogical Society (there are several in my area to choose from but I'd especially like to join San Joaquin County's since that is where all my family is from and I go there at least once a month)
10. attend a scanfest (did I mention I have a TON of documents I have to scan?!)
11. get one of those nifty scanners Dick Eastman profiled the other day.
12. devote more time to my poor, pitiful genealogy website (something I HAVE to do now that my family has descovered it! Okay, so I told them about it but now they are actually looking at it and wondering why nothing has been added in a year)
13. get a new camera and actually, you know... take pictures!
14. be better about returning e-mails and Ancestry messages (a new feature which I happen to LOVE by the way)
15. find that video of my great-grandmother's 100th birthday party and convert it to DVD (and if I'm really on the ball, make copies of said DVD for family members)
16. be able to trace my paternal Scotch and Irish ancestors back to Europe
17. find out SOMETHING, ANYTHING(!!!) on my Italian side... please, someone, SOMETHING! At this point I'd settle for a middle name or address even... I'm DESPERATE! Ugh...
18. find out something about my Danish side- see #17 above.
19. interview my grandmother and parents.
20. be better about including my family in my genealogy work and sharing my discoveries with them.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Namesakes: Garfield Mentor Berger

I have always had a love for names, their meanings, what they sound like, patterns in my family tree, etc. I'm also fascinated by the people in my tree named after the famous of their day. Running across little Andrew Jacksons, Abraham Lincolns and others in my family tree always tickle me because it is a glimpse into the thought process of their parents and a personal connection to the family. It also excites the historian in me to find examples of the influence these famous people had on the populous of the day. I thought I would do a series on the famous names in my family. First up is Garfield Mentor Berger, the brother of my great-grandfather.

Garfield isn't a family name so I always thought there might be a connection to our twentieth President in their somewhere and minimal research proved this true. President James A. Garfield is not a namesake you see often since he was only in office a few months, the second shortest term of any President (next to William Henry Harrison). Garfield was an Ohioan by birth, born in 1831 in a log cabin. At first he became a preacher and then a teacher before entering into the law. Once the Civil War broke out, Garfield joined up and served for his home state in the Union Army. He saw action at Shiloh among other battles and reached the rank of Brigadier General. It was during the war, in 1862, that he was elected to the House of Representatives (he had previous been a Ohio State Senator for one term that ended in 1861). Since Congress was in recess at the time, he was able to continue in the field until December of 1863. Garfield also continued to practice law and argued cases before the Supreme Court. In 1880 he went to the RNC fully supporting another for the Presidential bid but ended up the surprise nominee because a deadlock between the front runners for the nod led to a compromise in the form of dark horse Garfield. In the general election, Garfield defeated Democratic candidate Winfield Scott Hancock and was inaugurated in March 1881. In July of that year he was shot at a Washington train depot by Charles Guiteau and died two months later, on 19 Sept 1881 from an infection due to the shooting.

The day after Garfield's assassination, on 20 Sept 1881 in South Bend, Indiana, another Garfield was born. Garfield Mentor Berger was the son of Rev. John W. Berger and Susanna (von)Allmen Berger. Obviously, he was named after the recently slain President, but his middle name has always perplexed me. I know President Garfield lived in Mentor, Ohio but my Bergers have no connection to that area. All I can think is that Garfield's parents must have either REALLY liked President Garfield or been fond of the unusual name. Garfield's father, John did travel quite a bit around the Midwest for his job so it is also possible that he stopped in Mentor and took the name from that. Garfield and his family came to California (first Los Angeles and then Oakland) when he was around eight years old. He married first, Anna Tretheway/Trethaway and they had six children: Dean, Arthur, Garfield, Ernest, Anna and Frances. Anna died around the time of Frances' birth and Garfield remarried Bertha Fischer Peterson, a divorced mother of one. Garfield died in Alameda, CA in 1964, Bertha in 1971.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

To Do List

During Spring Break awhile back I went through and organized my genealogy data and resources. While going through it all I stumbled across a "to do/get list" from several months ago. While reading it I was a little disheartened to see that I still hadn't done/gotten most of the things on there. However, finding the list helped remind me about how important they are in genealogical research. Since finding the list I've updated it and crossed off the (few) things I have accomplished since I originally made it. I was also thinking that it would be a good idea to post the "most wanted" ones online, that way if anyone else out there is researching these names and has these records that I'm after it'll save me from tracking them down:

(Note: "b" means birth record, "d" means death record, "o" means obituary and "m" mean marriage record, "l" means land record)

Susanna vonAllmen Berger: d and o; June 1932, Alameda Co., California.
George Washington Wellons: d and o; Feb 1932, Siskiyou Co., California
Mary Anna Webb Wellons: d and o; May 1926, Siskiyou Co., CA
John C. Wellons: d and o; Nov 1978, Siskiyou Co., CA
Sarah/Sadie Wellons Benson: d and o; Apr 1916/17, Siskiyou Co., CA
George W. Wellons and Mary Anna Webb: m; June 1878, LaPlata Co., CO
Christian vonAllmen/Allmen: l; 1841-1860, Richland Co., IL
Andrew Webb: d and o (if possible); Nov 1902, Siskiyou Co., CA
Tock/Tuck: all; 1850-, Washington Co., ME
Mary Gertrude Mott Healey: d and o; July 1927, San Francisco Co., CA
Frank Doyle Smith: d and o; May 1929, Alameda Co., CA
Lauren Everett Healey: d and o; Feb 1959, Santa Clara Co., CA
Comfort Healey: d; Apr 1910, San Francisco Co., CA
Katherine Nielsen Healey: d; Mar 1918, Alameda Co., CA
Engeline Petersen Nielsen: d; Feb 1932, Alameda Co., CA
John Chapple Wellons: d and o(?); Jan 1896, Warren Co., CA
Harry James Allen: d and o(?); Feb 2003, Muscogee Co., GA
Giuseppe Lapiccirella: d and o; Aug 1973, Trumbull Co., OH
Nicoletta Daccia Lapiccirella: d and o; Feb 1987, Trumbull Co., OH
Nicola Lapiccirella: d and o; Sep 1958, Trumbull Co., OH
Samuel Lapiccirella: d and o; Aug 2001, Cass Co., MO
Theresa Lapiccirella Liguori: d and o; June 1998, Trumbull Co., OH
Mary Stokes Croad: d and o; June 1923, Montcalm Co., MI
Frederick Rendle Croad: d and o; Sep 1932, Montcalm Co., MI
Marion Wood Allen, Joseph James Allen: d and o; Michigan
Marion Wood: b; Feb 1871, Jackson Co., MI
Eleanor Wood Cook: d and o; 1965, Montcalm Co., MI
Frank Croad: d and o; Jan 1972, Harrison Co., MS
James Allen: d and o; Apr 1924, Mahoning Co., OH
Joseph Allen: d and o; Mar 1918, Trumbull Co., OH
Shinn: l; 1850-, San Joaquin and El Dorado Co., CA
John Grant Allen: b; May 1869, Trumbull Co., OH

When I have more time this summer I plan on doing some traveling (probably within California) and contacting the appropriate libraries, RAOGK and other resources to get them.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

25 Random Things, Genealogy Edition

I actually started this post awhile ago and then forgot it until I saw that Greta had done the same sort of post. Jennifer over at Jennifer's Genealogy Blog came up with the great idea to do a genealogy version of the popular Facebook meme "25 Random Things About Me." I love the concept so I'm going to try my hand at it as well.

1) For all the colonial connections I have I only have ONE confirmed Revolutionary War soldier ancestor. Everyone else was either Loyalist or Quaker (and therefore pacifists) at the time of the war. Interestingly enough, my only Revolutionary War ancestor's wife was also a noted patriot during the war and helped the American troops at Sugar House prison. The couple was Col. Isaac Mott and Anne Coles Mott. Anne's contribution to the American cause resulted in her being awarded a tablecloth by American officers and it supposedly has remained in the family, though it never went to my branch.

2) I have no roots from the "deep" south. The only branch of my tree (the Wellons) with any kind of southern roots came to Virginia from Wales and England in the 1700s (or earlier). They then went to Pulaski County, Kentucky around 1800 and left for Iowa fifty years later.

3) My paternal family tree has, for the most part, been in the US only a short time with most of his branches coming during the early part of the 20th century/later part of the 19th. On the opposite side of the spectrum is my maternal family tree who for the majority has been in the US since the 1600s. Her most recent branch to the US arrived about 1850.

4) Colorado must have had a big impact on my Webb family because once they arrived they named all the children after geographical landmarks there. The family settled in the Durango area in the 1870s and the naming trend started when they arrived when Andrew Webb's daughter, Lilly Timberline was born and named after the Colorado "timber line" where she was born. Andrew's daughter (and my ancestor) named her first daughter Hermosa Florida Wellons after two area rivers. Andrew's son also followed suit and named his daughter Minnie Animas Webb after the town where the family lived.

5) My great-great-great-grandmother, Mary Gertude Mott Healey was supposedly the first baby born in Benicia, California. Since she was born in 1852 and Benicia was founded in 1847 I think this is pretty unlikely, but since I've never found proof for or against this family legend I can't completely shoot it down.

6) My great x4 grandfather, Heman Doyle was the first District Attorney of Douglas County, Nevada and was also a prominent early judge, lawyer and justice of the peace in Placer, San Joaquin, and El Dorado County, California as well as Carson and Douglas County, Nevada. Before his move west to California/Nevada in 1850 he was a lawyer in Rochester, Monroe, New York.

7) If I wanted to, I could join both DAR and the United Empire Loyalists. My DAR connection is from #1 above while my UELAC connection is through my Beam line who left New Jersey for Ontario following the war. The British government awarded them land for their loyalty during the war and Beamsville was founded and named for them.

8) My vonAllmen (and Steiner) ancestors came to Olney, Illinois in the 1840s from the ancestral homeland of the canton Bern in Switzerland. When Christian vonAllmen and his family came they, unlike other branches of their family, dropped the von. They moved to Evansville around 1860 where Christian, and later his sons, had a broom-making business. Christian's daughter, Susanna, was my great-great-grandmother.

9) My only Dutch and French ancestors helped settled New York. The Egbertse and Harmen famililes helped establish Lange Eylant (Long Island) and Staten Island while my French Huguenot Letelier family ended up in early Brooklyn.

10) My Stokes and Croad branches (on my father's side) worked in the Welsh coal mines in the late 1800s. Both families came from southern England to work in the mines around Cardiff for years.

11) My great x2 grandmother, Susanna vonAllmen Berger's niece was killed during the Evansville race riot of 1903.

12) My great x3 grandmother Susanna Tizzard Croad's niece Martha Tizzard Courtney worked as a maid for the Bischoffsheim family in London in the late 1870s/early 1880s. The Bischoffsheims were a wealthy and well connected family of financiers and philanthropists at the time. The Bischoffsheim home where Martha worked is currently the site of the Middle Eastern embassies in London.

13) My great-grandfather, Joseph James Allen worked as a telephone linesman in Michigan before WWI. He was also in the Michigan National Guard before enlisting in 1917. While at war he was badly gased which led to deteriorating health and eventual paralysis before his death in the 1940s when he was only in his fifties. For his service during the war he was awarded various citations and received a letter from the President though I have never seen the documents.

14) Following the death of my ancestor, Sarah Hudson Wellons, her husband and my ancestor, John Chapple Wellons remarried Elizabeth Weaver in 1865 in Indianola, Iowa. In 1880 Elizabeth's daughter from a previous marriage had a baby out of wedlock. Elizabeth killed her new illegitimate granddaughter with the help of the baby's mother and Elizabeth's other daughter from another marriage. After the baby's mother died, Elizabeth and her surviving daughter were arrested for infanticide. Suffice to say, John Chapple Wellons divorced Elizabeth and moved several towns away. The whole grisly story can be read here.

15) The town where my great-grandmother, Georgia Wellons Berger and several of her siblings were born burned down in 1902. Klamathon was a booming lumber town on the California/Oregon border when it caught fire and went out in "a blaze of glory." Unfortunately, when Klamathon went up in smoke so to did Georgia's birth record.

16) My great-great-grandfather, John W. Berger was the son of German immigrants. When he became a Methodist minister he joined the German Evangelical Association, an offshoot of the Methodist church that went around to German speaking communities in the Midwest and preached in German. In the 1870s he even went to Germany (Prussia then) and did missionary work there for several years.

17) My great-grandmother was seven at the time of the great San Francisco earthquake of 1906. She was visiting relatives across the Bay at the time but her father was still in the city. Everyone in her family survived but they didn't know for several days if her father was alive or not. He managed to save my great-grandmother's doll but everything else that they owned was destroyed by the quake.

18) I have MANY, many Quakers in my tree, including my ancestor John Shinn who was a distiller and was kicked out of the church for making moonshine.

19)My ancestors Isaac Thomas Mott and Mary Johanna Rose lived in Mazatlan, Mexico from the 1830s to the 1850s. He worked for the American Consulate and Pacific Steamship Co. before being ruined by the Mexican-American War after which time the family settled in the Bay Area of California.

20) John W. Berger is the only direct ancestor I have that fought in the Civil War, he served as a Union Chaplin.

21) Gideon Gottlieb Berger, the son of #20 above, was also a military Chaplin and served at the Presidio during WWI. His son, my great uncle, was also a military Chaplin and a commander in the US Navy. He is currently the Chaplin of the famous USS Hornet.

22)My great-great-grandfather, John Grant Allen, worked as a warden at Michigan State Prison in Jackson for years, before then he dabbled in everything from farming to being a fireman.

23)My great-great-grandfather, George Washington Wellons was a gardener and farmer in Yreka and a staunch Socialist (unlike everyone else in my tree, including his own family).

24) An ancestor of mine, Moses Jackman, was abducted by Indians as a young boy in 1757. He was later sold to French fur trappers before finally being rescued and returned to his family in 1761 at the close of the French and Indian War.

25) My great-grandparents came from Italy to the US in 1920. Though they were from Vieste, which is on the Adriatic, their port of departure was Naples. They traveled on the Madonna and arrived at Ellis Island before settling in Warren, Trumbull, Ohio with relatives. It was there, in Ohio, that they had my grandmother, though most of her siblings were born in Italy. Even though they lived in America the rest of their lives, over fifty years, neither really ever learned more than a few words of English.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Helvetica Americana

As I may have mentioned before, I'm a chunk Swiss. My family came from Unterseen in the canton of Bern to Olney, Illinois in the mid 1800s. I don't know much about Swiss culture and the only thing that has been passed down (that I know of) is the name of my Swiss ancestor, Susannah. I have a new favorite website though and it is a real must for anyone interested in anything Swiss. Swiss Roots has anything and everything about Switzerland past and present, even a genealogy section. The "Heritage" tab of the website takes you to not only the genealogy section but also a section on Swiss history, emigration to the US and famous Swiss Americans as well as a culture tab. The thing I liked most about the genealogy section was the great Swiss (German)/English genealogy vocabulary translator which includes terms like "geboren" (born) and "beerdigt" (buried). The genealogy section also offers some great articles about Swiss genealogy and places that are definitely worth reading. The section I liked the most was the culture area which included a timeline of Swiss to US emigration, folk art and a calendar of Swiss/German holidays. I know I'm looking forward to celebrating August 1 (Switzerland's 4th of July) and I wonder if my ancestors ever participated in the Bern Onion Market in November. Apparently this coming Monday, the 20th, is the Swiss equivalent of Groundhog Day, who would have thought? Of particular excitement to me was the Swiss recipes section. Unfortunately as a vegetarian I won't be trying the many meat dishes. I was surprised to learn just how popular apples are in Swiss cuisine. I know here in the US (at least in my family) apples are a desert dish but they appear as an ingredient in many Swiss savory dishes (along with onions and potatoes). I am excited to make Emmental Apple Roesti, Fotzel, and Aelplermagaronen. I wonder how many of the dished listed my ancestors made? If you are Swiss, interested in anything Swiss (or German) the site is definitely worth checking out.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Strange Days

What a weird, exciting couple of genealogy days I've had! First I heard from someone who rescues old pictures. She had seen a post I had written about an ancestor of mine and it matched some info she had on the back of one of her "rescues." I can't tell you how excited I was and then I found a picture of the ancestor in question that I have from around the same time her picture was taken and it was a no match... THEN, I heard from a "cousin" and fellow researcher who I thought had dropped off the face of the earth and am now getting more information from her, so that makes up for the picture disappointment. NOW (as in this morning) I found a new "cousin" who is researching a particularly dense (that's what I call branches that don't volunteer a lot of info and are filled with brick walls at every turn) part of our tree (aren't those the best "cousins" to come across?). To top everything off, I took a nap this afternoon and dreamed that I lost all my genealogy information so now I can't shake the feeling that I need to go make back-ups in triplicate of every scrape of data I have. Oh yeah, and the other day one of the lovely volunteers at FindAGrave took pictures of some headstones for me that I had been anxious to see but forgotten about because I put in the request so long ago. Only problem is, the headstones are so old and weathered (thanks, New England winters) that they are completely illegible. Now I understand why you're always supposed to take charcoal and paper with you when you go to the cemetery.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

My New Project (or Pipe Dream)

With the Easter season upon us, as with every holiday, family traditions are born and continued. I've been thinking about all the traditions (holiday or otherwise) in my family and as a result have come up with a new project. I want to write a book on the traditions in my family! I'm not sure if I'm going to do it as an e-book or a published piece but I am very excited about it. I'm hoping to make it about not only current traditions but also past ones, like how when my grandmother was a girl her family would always have waffles on Sunday. While the project seems simple enough, by broadening it to include past traditions that older family members knew I'm opening it up to be a bit of an undertaking. I plan on writing down all the traditions past and present that I know of as well as asking family members (like my grandmother) what traditions they had growing up or knew of that their parents and hopefully, grandparents had. This little weekend project is going to be bigger than I originally thought, but I'm excited and hopefully a keepsake for all (and future generations) will result. I haven't heard of anyone making a "traditions book" (at least not in my family) before so I don't have a real template to follow. I guess I'll go by trial and error and see what happens. I have found internet resources to help me though, among them:

The Book of New Family Traditions by Meg Cox (link is to excerpts from Google Books)
A List of Ideas from Googol (I use the items as a way to jump start my memories, but they are meant as a guidline for creating new family traditions).
Family Routines and Rituals by Barbara H. Fiese (link is to excerpts from Google Books)

I'm still in the preliminary stage (as in, I-haven't-even-started stage) and am mainly just collecting resources at the moment, the three above being just the ones I found online today. I also plan on looking at mine and my mother's (my father doesn't have one that I know of) baby books because there are many traditions in there. What I have the project broken down into at this point is:
  • Holiday traditions
  • Everyday traditions
  • Past traditions
  • Seasonal traditions
  • Weekly or monthly traditions
  • Traditions based on where we grew up (for example, going to the local Farmer's Market every Wednesday)
  • Miscellaneous

Saturday Night Fun: Easter Eggs

The directions (from Genea-Musings):
"1. Pick a place that you have ancestry, but don't know much about.
2. Go to Google (or your favorite search engine) and put in the place name, the state name, and the words "genealogy" and "society." For example my search string is going to be [mccook nebraska genealogy society]. Don't use mine - use your own!
3. Go to the web site that looks the most interesting or promising, and search for data about your ancestor(s) that lived there.
4. Did you find anything new or interesting? If so - those are your genealogy Easter Eggs! Enjoy them - browse some more! If not, try again with another place name.
5. Tell us all about it on your blog, or in comments to this blog."

This was a toughy because I've pretty well exhausted the resources on the home towns of my direct ancestors. I have recently been looking for information on the other branches of my Rose family though. My great-grandmother x4 was Mary Johanna Rose, the daughter of Charlotte Clara Smith and William Lucius Rose. William was the son of Capt. Joseph Rose and Barbary Egburson, who were prominent in early New York. William had several siblings who had families of their own and the branch I've most recently been researching is the one that went to Monmouth County, New Jersey and settled in Matawan. Here was the search I did: "matawan new jersey 'joseph rose'" on Google. I included Joseph Rose and put him in parenthesis so that I would be sure and get him in any of my hits. The first result of promise I saw was for a Google Book on Matawan. I clicked on it and got my first "Easter egg!" Turns out there is a Rose St. and a cemetery in Matawan named for Joseph and there was even a picture of Joseph's home in Cliffwood (an area of Matawan). I also found out a bit of info on my Joseph Rose too in this book. Turns out he served in the New York State Assembly and was responsible for the purchase of Central Park! *Excuse me while I go do a happy dance* The next result I found was from the New York Times Archive and it was an obituary for Joseph's wife, Frances Stanton (Willett)! The next thing I found was a PDF on Rose St. in Matawan which also offered some new info on Joseph. If any family members find this: this Joseph Rose was the son of Joseph Rose and Frances Stanton and the nephew of William Lucius Rose. Therefore the Joseph Rose of Matawan was the first cousin of my Mary Johanna Rose Mott. When I have time I plan on going on more Easter egg/genealogy hunts like this. This exercise certainly lived up to its title and provided some nice Saturday Night Fun for me!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

(Belated) Blogging Prompt #13

(I know this was due day before yesterday but it was in my drafts so I thought I would go ahead and publish it anyway...)

"Week #13: Have expertise in a specific area of study? Share your knowledge! If you’ve lived in the same town for 60 years, you have something to share. If you’re a librarian in your day job, you have something to share. If you read Civil War history books for fun, you have something to share. If you’re walking on this Earth, you have something to share."

While I have been doing genealogy for over a decade, I still think of myself as an amateur. That's why it is a little trying to think up an area of expertise. I think my areas of expertise came more from school than actual genealogy study. I am pretty fluent in French (took it for six years) and have been toying with the idea of minoring in it or linguistics. I also took Latin in school which, while a dead language, has certainly proved helpful (like in figuring out the roots of words). There were also two years of Spanish, but I hated it so much that I'm afraid I didn't learn much. Although, I could do genealogy research in a Spanish speaking country ("Donde esta la biblioteca?"). As a complete aside, does everyone remember the Lone Ranger and his sidekick Tonto? Well, tonto is the Spanish word for stupid. That little tidbit is what I remember most for Spanish class (like I said, I didn't learn much).

Since certain places mean more to my family than others, through genealogy research I have gotten pretty educated on those places. All of my mother's family is from San Joaquin Co., California with her main branch settling there almost a hundred and sixty years ago. Siskiyou (and the now defunct Klamath) County, California is another "area of expertise" for me you might say as that is where one of my grandmother's family settled (I still have cousins there actually who are still in contact with my branch). On my father's side, Jackson County, Michigan and Trumbull County, Ohio are important places, but since I've never actually been to either state (believe me, they're at the top of genea-vacation list) I hesitate to call myself an expert on those counties. Where I grew up in California, I could say that that is an area of expertise. Though I don't have any ancestral roots in the county where I grew up, I know it like the back of my hand. I know all the landmarks, all the towns and communities, all of the libraries, most of the cemeteries, the network of back country roads (which I learned to drive on), where to go to get records, most of the schools, etc. I also grew up very close to Sacramento and know the city and outlying areas very well, which is a good place to claim as an area of expertise since it is the state capitol and the seat of the state archives.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Saturday Night Fun: Show Your Genealogy Space

I didn't participate in the Saturday Night Fun last week so this is a bit of a return for me. This week's challenge is to talk about our genealogy spaces (the places where we do genealogy work or store our genealogy work and resources). Sadly, I won't be taking any pictures of my space, though I can tell a bit about my genealogy space (the 3rd part of the challenge). As I've mentioned before, I don't have many paper files. That's why I'm not taking any pictures, because all it would just be pictures of would be my flash drives, laptop and desktop PC. Most of my work is done on my desktop because I prefer the larger screen and mouse (I don't have one for my laptop). Then I save that work to my flash drives. I like to keep my flash drives with my laptop so that if I have time between work or school, I can do genealogy research while having all of my previous work at my finger tips. I also try and keep duplicate flash drives with my desktop, that way (heaven forbid!), if I lose the ones with my laptop or my laptop case gets stolen, I won't be up doodoo creek! It typically doesn't take me very long to find any of my digital files which is why I think this system works for me and I'll keep it this way (and paper free).

Obviously I also have original documents, pictures and papers, but I'm also not going to take pictures of those because of the shame that is attached with how I've organized (or lack there of) them. Last spring my grandmother gave a grocery paper bag of her old pictures and documents. Every since then I have been collecting other family documents and adding them to the, erm... grocery bag. I am trying to organize it all though and once I have I will take pictures. Since I'm on Spring Break all this week, now is the perfect time to do that! To think, when I sat down I thought this post would be a bit of a bust and now I've got a project to go get started on! In fact, I'll go get started on organizing all that stuff now and maybe if I'm really motivated I'll actually scan it all!

...okay, maybe I'm not that motivated. But I will try and get everything organized at least!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Wordless Wednesday

Taken Siskiyou Co., CA 1911. Georgia Wellons Berger (my great-grandmother) in back, far left, was the teacher.

Privately held by Leah [address for private use], California, 2009.