Genealogy

I Should Be Driving to Sandusky

Back in late November during a Black Friday Sale I purchased my registration for all 3 days of classes at the Ohio Genealogical Society Conference that was taking place at the Kalahari Resort in Sandusky, Ohio.

But of course, like so many other events, it was cancelled so here I sit, with my children, working from home instead of driving to Sandusky for a few days of family history fun.

So I’ve been thinking about what I can do to still give myself a conference experience.

Watch Webinars

I happen to have a subscription to Family Tree Webinars so I am able to watch as many webinars I want.  But throughout this past April they’ve had a free webinar each day, and the Webinar Wednesdays are normally available for a week after it first airs for everyone to watch for free so you can utilize it for one of the days as well.

Check Out Some Podcasts

Podcasts are something I need to listen to more often.  There are a variety of podcasts out there for you to enjoy for free. Here are some I’ve listened to and enjoy:

  • Generations Café by Amy Johnson Crow – these are fun to listen to and they tend to be on the shorter side, which I sometimes like.  I don’t always have 90 minutes to spare to listen to a to longer ones in their entirety and these are just right.
  • The Genealogy Guys – I met George Morgan and Drew Smith at least year’s OGS Conference (and they were to be a part of the Meet & Greet last evening as part of the Genealogy Squad).  They have lots of great information on their podcast.
  • Genealogy Gems – Lisa Louise Cooke always has an informative podcast on her website that is always filled with a variety of topics.
  • Extreme Genes – it’s America’s family history show!  Hosted by Scott Fisher and David Allen Lambert, this successful podcast has topics pertaining to all sorts of areas to help you on your genealogical journey.

These are just a few that I’ve listed. If you Google “genealogy podcasts” you will get about 30 links that you can click on to see if anything flips your trigger, plus there are a bunch of articles that give you the “20 best genealogy podcasts” as well.  I just gave you ones I knew existed and had checked out that were off the top of my head.

Read Some Books

Read! And it doesn’t have to be just genealogy based books (I’m presently reading the How to Do Everything Genealogy Fourth Edition by George G. Morgan – yes, same as mentioned above from the Genealogy Guys. It’s 480 pages and I’m loving it as it just gives me common sense suggestions that I may have overlooked as I have never read an intro book before). You can read books that relate to your relatives.

For example, I recently finished a book by John Fitzgerald called Dirty Mines and it went job by job on what coal miners did, beginning in the breakers for the young kids who could have been starting between the ages of 8 and 10 years old, to being an independent contractor as an actual full-fledge coal miner (they had to pay their helpers with the money they earned for each cart of coal). It was extremely enlightening as I really didn’t know much about what positions there were as you moved up the ladder. It also went into detail about the creation of the United Mine Workers and the Molly Maguires court cases where several men were executed for no other reason other than they were framed because everyone was in cahoots with the other – government, coal companies, judges. Several of my ancestors were coal miners, so this book was exactly what I was looking for to educate me a little more about this industry.

You can also read about the towns your family lived in, books relating to the historical happenings at a specific time of your ancestor, be it on a city, state, or country level.  Sometimes international happenings can effect our people, too.

The same can be said for Civil War diaries.  It may not be the diary of your ancestor, but it would still have similar details of what may have been going on with your relative.

Hang Out in Genealogy Facebook Groups

Lastly, to give me that true conference feel, going and posting questions or helping others with their family history journey will be the icing on the cake.  By visiting some of the many family history groups I belong too on Facebook I should be able to get that wonderful vibe that I got last year about just communicating with others who have a love of this wonderful hobby (well, maybe obsession is a better word). If you have a Facebook account but haven’t checked out any of the genealogy group offerings, you are really missing out.  It is so much fun to read of others’ tales of triumph and woe (well, maybe not fun for this, but there are some stories that definitely bring a tear to your eye).

A person’s family history journey is so special and unique, and being able to share it with others is wonderful.  Not to mention the people in these groups are outstanding, I honestly we feel overall we are the friendliest of all the hobbies as we are always willing to lend a helping hand.

Power Through

I will power through this and I’m sure I will find ways to successfully pass the time while I research my family members.  Yesterday happened to be the 235th birthday of my 4th-great-grandfather and I realized I’d found and saved his information but hadn’t put any of it into my software program.  So we are going to delve into Baltzer Morgart.  He was born in 1785 and I know he ran the Morgart Tavern in Everett, Pennsylvania.  I was able to see the building last summer (sadly, we knocked but no one was home to see if I could have gone inside). He died at the age of 68 in December 1853.

 

Genealogy

Using Newspapers in your Genealogy Research

When researching your ancestors, do you have any stories to go along with each person? This tends to be the more difficult aspect of doing genealogy as it’s so easy to go on FamilySearch, Ancestry, Find My Past, or even MyHeritage and find out when and where they were born, where they lived throughout their lives and even when they died. But figuring out who they were is a bit more challenging.

One of the ways I have learned about my family members is using newspapers. There are a variety of options available for free and with subscriptions for you to find stories about your relatives.

Free Options

Some historic newspapers are available for free (one of my favorite words). The most popular is Chronicling America ( https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/) which is a joint endeavor between the Library of Congress and National Endowment of the Humanities. It has newspapers from 1789-1963 that are digitized for your use.

Another free option may be available with your library card is Newspaper Archive Academic Library Edition (my library has this and can be accessed from my house, check out to see if your library has a newspaper database similar to this).

Subscription Options

Newspapers.com is one of the larger subscription sites for newspapers available for genealogy. They are owned by Ancestry.com so if you have a tree there, it is easy to attach the articles. Some subscriptions of Ancestry now include Newspapers.com (I believe you are accessing the articles through Ancestry searches though). Newspapers.com has 2 levels of subscriptions, basic and Publishers Extra. Publisher’s Extra is the higher priced edition but seems to have most of the newspapers I truly needed to find information and obituaries on my people (primarily because of the Akron Beacon Journal – but there were some key newspapers for the different areas of Pennsylvania I needed as well).

GenealogyBank is another popular website who is also expanding out from just newspapers to adding census information and the like. They have a great blog that is emailed out monthly as well.

Things to Look For

If you are going to spend the money on a subscription site I highly recommend looking at what newspapers that are available and the published years they have. I’ll confess I accidentally signed up for a subscription site and it was of no use to me because the issues they had published didn’t really help me in my genealogical searches (for example they had the Bedford Gazette from 1854-1857 only, and I needed from 1870 on). Both Newspapers.com and GenealogyBank list what newspapers they have available and their years of publication that is available on their sites (Newspapers.com will also note which newspapers are available on their more expensive level, Publishers Extra).

All of the websites have ways to narrow your search by state, date, name to help bring to light the information you are seeking.

What Can You Find?

You may be lucky enough to find all kinds of interesting tidbits about your relatives when you do newspaper searches. They can range from everyday occurrences to being a bit on the juicy side (older newspapers use to have sections detailing who checked in to the local hotels, and just good old “gossip” sections).

Below is one of my favorites that I discovered on a free weekend of Newspapers.com last Spring that actually convinced me to purchase a subscription. It is an article from The Potter Enterprise from the Thursday, February 11, 1904 edition:

The_Potter_Enterprise_Thu__Feb_11__1904_

Orienta (Gustin) Warner is my 3rd-Great-Grandmother on my mother’s side. They have her daughter’s name mis-typed here, it’s listed as Nellie but her nickname was Nettie. Her name is Jeanette Warner and she is my 3rd-Great-Aunt. I am assuming the fatherless child is her son, Thomas who was born in 1904.

In keeping with the same family, here is another article from The Potter Enterprise from August 14, 1913 edition – this actually lists my 2nd-Great-Grandmother (Mazie Warner Dunbar) twice, and her daughter (Myrtle Dunbar) once.

The_Potter_Enterprise_Thu__Aug_14__1913_

I’ve also learned that using newspapers can give you the full story on tragedies in your family as well. On my dad’s side, my 2nd-Great-Uncle, Charles Peter Childers, had 2-children die in a house fire. Going off stories typed up on Ancestry it makes it seem that half of his 13 children died in this fire, but when reading the newspaper headlines (along with finding the death certificates) you know it was only 2-children, Eva Childers, age 9 (the article is incorrect and have her listed as age 11) and Ralph Childers, age 2. This article I found using the library website. The below clippings (they were on 2-pages of the newspaper) is from the March 27, 1939 edition of the Altoona Mirror:

When I found the following article from the Akron Beacon Journal about my grandfather, Harold Fairhurst, my aunt proceeded to add to the story about how my grandfather had won a year’s supply of Pepsi for his hole in one, which jogged my memory of my mom telling me the same. It is from Thursday, September 17, 1964 edition:

The_Akron_Beacon_Journal_Thu__Sep_17__1964_

I continue to learn a lot about my family members by using newspapers. If nothing else, they are a wonderful source for obtaining obituaries so I am able to fill in the burial date and cemeteries in my genealogy program if I don’t have a death certificate.

If you have never taken the time to investigate your family in newspapers, I recommend checking it out. The weekend Newspapers.com was free last year was amazing me for me as I found so much interesting information. Now, if it could only make it easier to find George Blair in Blair County, PA, then I’d be set (FYI – anytime Blair for the County is mentioned I get a ding so when I searched just now there are 1,299,020 possibilities in Pennsylvania alone).

If you find or have found any interesting stories using newspapers, please share in the comments!

Genealogy, My Family Tree

My Warner Family – Mazie

As most of the world is resigned to stay home and be in isolation, I finally have found my genealogy groove. And though I normally try to partake in Amy Johnson Crow’s fabulous challenge 52 Ancestors in 52 weeks, I find myself struggling with the recent week’s prompts.  So I think I’ll focus on a specific surname in my family, and I’ve chosen the Warner’s (I suddenly have the Animaniac’s theme going through my head, if you have never watched this outstanding cartoon brought to us by Steven Spielberg you really should, I discovered it in college and it is one of the greatest animated shows ever, if I do say so myself). I figure this can be the first of many tributes to my Warner clan and could possibly get me to find out more about them.

Mazie Lorenia Warner

The last of my line of Warner’s was my great-great-grandmother Mazie Lorenia Warner.  I know I’ve spoken of Mazie before because she is one of my favorite relatives on my mother’s side of the family.  She was born on 21 July 1877 to Winfield Warner and his wife, Orienta Gustin in Potter County, Pennsylvania. She had 3-sisters: Cymanthia Lencretia, Jeanette, and Catherine “Cassie” Belle.

MazieWarnerSig
Mazie Lorenia Warner – no idea when this was taken (another project!)

Mazie was one of my first successfully solved puzzles.  Just getting her name correct was one of my first obstacles as every document I found seemed to be something different – Mazie, Magie, Daysa (still trying to figure that last one out), but then my mom clarified it all for me (she was going off memory as Mazie passed away 2 years before my mom was born).

Mazie married my great-great-grandfather, Arthur James Dunbar on 2 Jan 1894.  To this marriage came 4-children with the 3-girls surviving: Myrtle Iona, Merle Winfield (he passed away at 8 months), Ina Mae and Mildred Laura (she is my great-grandmother).

On 18 Dec 1912 Arthur died of polio (adult onset).  A few years later Mazie married a second time to Samuel Randol, in 1916 they moved to Ohio and this is how this portion of my family settled in Akron. Oddly enough the area of Akron where they settled is not far at all from where I live with my own family.

Mazie and Samuel had a son, Richard LeHoty, but he passed away when he was 5-months old.

Because my library (Akron Summit County Public Library) has digitized the local city directories, I have been able to follow where Mazie and Samuel lived from 1916 until Mazie passed away in 1945.  Mazie has come across as a loving soul, always taking her daughters in when their marriages failed (or at least that is how I assume her to be as my own great-grandmother returned home more than once and Mazie even let her and her third husband live with them for a bit when they first got married while I assume they saved up for a house – I have nothing to confirm these stories because my mother, grandmother and great-grandmother have all passed).

At one point in time Samuel and Mazie ran a store on Howard Street, and I believe it was called SJ Randol’s according to the 1924 city directory, and back in the 1920’s Howard Street was the place to be.  According to a lady my parents’ were guardian’s of, Clara Mueller, she claimed that you could find things at the shops on Howard Street that you couldn’t find anywhere else.

SJRandol Store
SJ Randol Store, circa 1924

Samuel passed away on 16 Oct 1938 in Decatur, Illinois. He was a truck driver and wasn’t feeling well and passed away after he had been “ill for a week over a complication of diseases” according to the 17 Oct 1938 edition of the Decatur Herald.  This made me sad to learn of Samuel’s death. The 1937 City Directory is the first where my great-grandmother, her husband and my grandmother finally moved into their own home, which gave Mazie and Samuel basically 1-2 years to finally enjoy life together.

Mazie continued to live alone until 1943 where she moved in to her old house which is where her daughter, Ina lived with her second husband, Ralph, and her daughter, Almeda. She passed away there on 19 May 1945.

080-MazieWarnerRandol-BobBergen-ThelmaBessieBergan
Mazie and her nephew, Bob Bergan, and his wife, Thelma Bessie circa 1942.

I drive down Howard Street every day when I go to and from work and I look to the spot where the store stood that Mazie and Samuel ran.  I look to the abandoned lot with just a very slight portion of a brick wall standing that would most likely been the back of their store, and wonder what it would have been like to know her, if she ever looks down on me and is happy to know that I am making sure my family doesn’t forget her and her legacy.

Book, Genealogy

My Week in Quarantine

So I haven’t really done as much researching as I have wanted to do in my family history journey but this past week I spent some of my days creating an introduction to genealogy PowerPoint presentation for my son’s Boy Scout Troop.

It’s pretty basic as I’ve included what ancestors are, descendants, how you really only need 7 to 15 names to begin working on your family tree on the major online databases (FamilySearch, Ancestry or MyHeritage) and then detailed the items you need to seek: birth certificates, death certificates, marriage licenses and censuses to start out.  Throw in examples of family group sheets, pedigree charts, a brief bit on land records, how everyone needs to search newspaper articles and a little bit of information about DNA and you have a 31 slide presentation all raring to go (unless of course I forgot some major point that I was suppose to include – which hubby is looking it over as I type this).

It was a fun endeavor as I got to show off my favorite documents in the presentation – Ralph Reed’s death certificate – I figured as part of ad-libbed anecdotes I’ll discuss my surprise in finding his at the library, my grandfather’s birth certificate where he was originally named Charley Wilmer but my grandmother opted to change it to Leroy at some point later in time (would love to know when that took place). For newspapers I included the article about why Ralph was executed and what his last meal was, and my grandfather Harold Fairhurst’s hole in one. I also included a 1910 Federal Census where several of the families on 1-sheet were all related – my great-grandparents lived near several of my great-grandmother’s brothers and sisters.

Tomorrow night I get to practice my presentation as I’ve never been on the speaking end of a conference call or using the meeting software.  Fingers crossed it goes well.  My son’s troop has decided to still meet electronically so they can still earn merit badges in this isolating time (my daughters troop has done the same).

I hope everyone is handling the isolation in their own way.  Being an introvert I knew I’d somewhat excel at this – but even I’m missing people (I see people on my weekly trip to the grocery store but it’s not the same as I don’t really talk to people – it’s more sport now than shopping as you do your best to stay 6 feet apart).

Wishing everyone all the best in these trying times!

Genealogy

Using Maps for Family History

Are you like me, constantly looking at maps to see exactly where your family once roamed?  I’m always using the below map on the FamilySearch Wiki to solve brick walls, wondering where my next further back batch of relatives would come from or lived in relation to others.

PennsylvaniaClickableMap-FamilySearch

Just about all the relatives on my paternal side are found within the counties in the South-Western/Central portion of Pennsylvania. These counties would be Somerset, Bedford, Fulton, Cambria, Blair and Huntingdon counties.  But not all of these counties have always existed, at one point I believe most of the region was Bedford County (which is why I chose Bedford to visit in July 2019).

Maps can be very helpful for locating where your ancestor’s records are kept.  Records tend to stay with the county of when they were created.  So if your family’s land is in what is now Blair County – since it was formed from Bedford County and Huntingdon County – if the records you seek are prior to 1846 – you will need to look in either Bedford or Huntingdon Counties.

An article on GenealogyBank.com by Gena Philibert-Ortega states, “Maps help you follow migration patterns, learn more about the place your ancestor lived, determine the location of cities that no longer exist, show changes in county boundaries, and verify land your ancestor owned.”

You may be lucky enough to find a map that even shows where your ancestors lived without your even plotting it.  Below is a map that I photocopied out of the “County Atlas of Bedford Pennsylvania” and it shows the land where both my 2x-Great-Grandfather lived (G. Morgart) and my 3x-Great-Grandfather lived (A. Morgart).  It turns out B. Hughes is a distant relative as well, and he married my 2x-Great-Grandmother when George Morgart passed away. I’m most likely related to the Ritchey’s as my aforementioned 2x-Great-Grandmother was Mary Ann Ritchey, and she had 2 brothers with the first name beginning with D.

IMG_1244

Gazetteers

According to Wikipedia, a gazetteer is “a geographical dictionary or directory used in conjunction with a map or atlas. It typically contains information concerning the geographical makeup, social statistics and physical features of a country, region, or continent”.

These books are essential as they normally list the names of places that may not even exist in an area anymore, which can be very important for finding information on your family. Gazetteers can also provide the history of an area, including photographs.

David Rumsey Map Collection

A great website to find historical maps is the David Rumsey Historical Map Collection. The collection began about 30 years ago and includes over 150,000 maps spanning between the 16th through 21st centuries from across the world.  The digitizations began in 1996 and include over 95,000 pieces.  The real pieces are housed in the David Rumsey Map Center in Stanford library.

Mapping Software

If you find yourself trying to purchase a ton of books to find the maps you need, you can always turn to mapping software for computers.  These programs work by you typing in your location and then you can scroll through the years watching the boundaries change before your eyes, giving you the exact county within your state (if in the United States) of where your ancestor lived at a specific point in time.  This makes it convenient so you know where to look for the records you seek (remember, records stay with the county).

Examples of these programs are AniMapFamily Atlas,  or you can go the free route and use Google Earth.  One of the nice features of using Google Earth is that it is programmed with some of the David Rumsey maps that you can overlay where your ancestors lived at various points in history, so you can walk where they walked, so to speak (please note you’ll have to download the software for your computer for the Rumsey maps to work, but don’t worry, it’s still free!).

Just Google It

One of the other functions I used for my more recent ancestors is simply putting the address of where my ancestors lived that I have found using City Directories in Google so I can see the homes where my family members once lived.  More often than not the house is still standing (I will often refer to the real estate tax site for my county as well just to confirm when the house was built). By seeing what the house looks like in advance I am able to drive by and find it more easily.

My mother’s side of the family settled where I live around 1916 and a majority of her side of the family is still here.  Because of where they originally made their home each day when I drive to work I pass where my great-great-grandmother and her husband had their store.  And I found it using the City Directory to obtain the address and putting the address into Google.

City Directory
1924 Akron City Directory
331 Howard St
Google Image searched on 28 Jan 2020

In a Nutshell

Maps offer us so much information.  They are visual so it can open up an entirely new world to your research.  You can see how far apart relatives live.  If you’re tackling a brick wall and you see someone far away from any other place they’ve lived it might have you question “Is this person mine?” as the migration patterns can become quite apparent once you begin plotting addresses.

I’ve always referred to maps in my search for my family history, but I am at the point I’m really going to start plotting out where they lived just to get a better idea of where their proximity to others so I can wrap my head around things.

If you have used maps please feel free to share your tips and what you use to visually track your relatives and get a feel for where they lived.

 

Genealogy

Mind Mapping

I’m presently taking a class on genealogy and one of the things they briefly went over in last week’s portion is mind mapping.  I’ll be honest, I never really knew what mind mapping was, now I could sum it up to it being brainstorming on a piece of paper.  But I decided to take a little more in-depth examination of mind mapping and how it can help you with your family history research.

What is Mind Mapping

Using the Wikipedia definition, a “mind map is a diagram used to visually organize information”. It’s hierarchal and shows relationships among the pieces of the whole. According to MindMapping.com, it’s a “highly effective way of getting information in and out of your brain” as it’s both creative and logical at the same time.  Mind maps are illustrations of what you are thinking.

Which goes back to my original statement of it being like brainstorming on a piece of paper.

Characteristics of Mind Mapping

There are certain characteristics that each mind map must possess.

Main Idea

Each mind map has a main idea.  It’s the theme of what your mind map is about.

Branches

These are the main ideas that branch off of your main idea that create connections.

Keywords

These words or ideas that support or describe your main idea are summarized into keywords, no sentences allowed.

Twigs

Lastly, you have less important ideas that aid in describing the keywords, and these branch off onto smaller lines, or twigs.

Creating Mind Maps

There are different ways to create mind maps.  You can draw from hand (I apologize for my bad photo – somehow my paper got folded but something told me trying to re-write it wouldn’t work as I’d probably just mess it up and get totally frustrated).

20191112_193005

Mind maps can also be made with computer software.  Some of the software that you can use are the following: Coggle, Mindly, Draw.io, iMindMap, MindMup, MindMeister, Scapple, and SmartDraw to name just a few.

MindMapping_mindmap_handdrawn-796x531
Photo found at MindMeister.com

Using Your Mind Map

Mind mapping is a tool that helps make you a better thinker. When you come across a problem, even something that really has you stumped like a brick wall, write it down, all of it, you may just get pointed in the right direction on where to look next.

The one I did above is one of my brick walls, which actually leads to a bigger brick wall.  George Washington Blair is the 4th child of my great-great-great-grandparents.  I only have 1 death certificate listing my 3x-great-grandmothers name and I strongly feel that if I can find George Washington Blair’s death certificate, that maybe it will give me some insight on my 3x-great-grandparents.

A mind map isn’t going to solve your problems, but it will allow you to see your information in a logical flow and give you the opportunity to see what you still need to find, and then you can best decide where to go to seek your answers.

Good luck!

Genealogy

Writing Your Family History

I constantly read how I should be writing my family history down but the question is HOW?  I obviously want it to be entertaining and not cause people to be snoring within minutes, but do you just plop down the statistics?  Do you try to give it personality?  These are the things this inquiring mind wants to know.

Blank 3.5 x 2 in

How You Will Share Your Writing

What form of media will you use to share your family history?  This is a very important decision.  Will you write a book? A newsletter?  A blog?

The format of your writing determines how formal your writing needs to be.  If you choose a blog (I obviously write about my own family discoveries along with tips of how to do your family history) you need to be a little more entertaining to keep your reader’s attention (hopefully I succeed in this).  This would probably be similar advice if you thought of doing a newsletter.

If you are going to write a book you obviously want people to enjoy what they are reading but you can also make sure you throw in statistics you have gathered about your relatives/ancestors if that is the only information you have.

Photographs

If you have photographs of the people you are writing about, make sure you include them. This is probably a no-brainer but it’s worth stating.  I know whenever I come across a photo of a relative I get so excited to see how they looked at whatever stage in their life.  I am hoping to one day find a photograph of my great-grandfather, Charles Morgart, as he is the infant/toddler in my blog’s header.  I have yet to see an adult photo of him but so wish I had one.

Photographs also make people real.  Face it, you can tell people that this is when they were born and this is when they died – but it’s when you give the details of how they lived and what they looked like that makes a person become alive.

Add Some History

You may be thinking,  “of course I am going to write history, I’m writing my family’s history”, but sometimes it’s nice to give your writing a little bit of historical context.  Relate to your reader what is going on in the world to give a better sense of the time period when your ancestor lived.

For example, I am presently reading “National Geographic’s Atlas of the Civil War” as my great-great-great-grandfather, George Henry Fesler, fought in the Civil War.  I have obtained his military file and it details all the battles that he fought in and where he was stationed.  George fought in many battles but I will confess they tend to be a lot of the smaller battles, not Antietam, Vicksburg or Gettysburg, the battles that the average person has heard of, so I’m reading this in-depth book about all the battles so I can include better details in reference to him.

There are different ways you can highlight historical events, you can just do a sidebar of big events that happened during the time period or you could have a timeline listing similar details.

Setting Your Book Up

When writing a book you can always highlight a different ancestor in a chapter.  For example, you can have a chapter on your mother, then a chapter on her mom and a chapter on her dad and within the chapters referring to her parents you can detail her siblings.

You may not have any intimate details about some of your relative’s lives but when you come across those initially you can just put the vital statistic information that you have on these individuals.  Sometimes you may just have very limited information, but if you have gathered any city directories about your ancestor, often they list where they worked, which helps give a little more insight into them.  Censuses will often list a general occupation as well which is still helpful in painting a picture of your relative’s life.

Make a Video

I know on my mom’s side of the family, my aunt and uncle were occasionally asking me how I was progressing on my research.  Not having anything written down, but having found photos of various members of my mom’s side of my family, I made a minute-long video that briefly highlighted my grandmother, great-grandmother, great-great-grandmother and lastly my great-great-great-grandmother and my great-great-great-grandparents (the photo of my 4th great grandmother happened to be a photo with her husband). I used the online video maker Adobe Spark which is free to use and even can be made with background music (the default was surprisingly fitting for my video). I shared the video with my aunt, uncle and many cousins and they loved it!  It was long enough to be interesting and short enough to keep their attention.

Your Program May Write the Book for You

I use Legacy Family Tree to store all my family’s information and there is a way to print a book using all the information I have entered into the program.  It fills in written accounts listed in the notes on each individual as well listing all the sources that you have attached for all the records included. This is a nice, no-brainer way of writing a book with the click of a button.

Brings Your Research Together

Writing about your family is a great way to make your research more interesting to the average person.  Family Historians often find such neat information about our ancestors through vital statistics, newspapers, and family lore, compiling them all together for future generations just makes sense.

No matter what form of media you choose to use – book, newsletter, or blog, anyway that interests you in writing down your information is how you should publish your work.

You don’t have to stop all of your research to begin writing a book, but it may be something to focus on one day a week in order to get ideas together on what you may want to do. I know I have been thinking about how I want to do mine for a while and I like about taking it an ancestor at a time.  It may provide you with who you want to focus on for a bit as well, and if you have all your writing on a computer you can always continue to add the further along you go with your tree.

No matter how you opt to write your genealogical findings, I wish you great success in your journey.  Sharing your research with the world is one of the greatest honors we as family historians have.

Good luck!

 

 

 

Genealogy

Family History Month

Family History Month

October is Family History Month and this past weekend I had two days of events to help me in my genealogical journey.

Friday night my library hosted a Late Night at the Library where you could research at the Special Collections area from 6:30-10:30pm.  They gave a tour of the department for those who hadn’t been there before.  I am very fortunate to have a library that has books from most of the 50 states (if not all), microfilm from various newspapers, maps, and free access to a number of subscription genealogical sites.  Representatives from different organizations were also on hand to assist, one being National Society United States Daughters of 1812.

Saturday had me spending most of the day at my local Family History Center where they had a day filled with classes to learn more about researching genealogy.  Here are the classes that I took:

  1. Interpreting DNA Results
  2. Scottish Research
  3. Latest Computer Tech for Genealogists
  4. Family Search App
  5. Internet Sites for Genealogists

Other classes that were offered included Prussian Research, Czech/Slovak Research, Until Death Do Us Part, Are You a Good Ancestor?, and FamilySearch questions.

Family History Centers are locations that allow you to access all records on FamilySearch and like the library, they also provide free access to many subscription sites to help you in your research.  They are located all across the United States.

You should take a moment and check to see if your local library or Family History Center has any genealogy programs going on before October is over.  Both of my local events were free., there is a chance could be too!

 

 

Genealogy

Death Certificates

Death certificates are one of my favorite tools to find when working on my family tree.  Granted it’s always sad that your ancestor passed away, but death certificates offer so much information that when you find them it’s like hitting the family history jackpot.

Different States, Different Availability

The downside of death certificates when searching in the United States is that each state differs when they began keeping vital statistic records, and their availability for each is different as well.  I am fortunate that I live in the state of Ohio and we can go and get a birth certificate from anywhere, at any time.  There are limitations, like you have to be in the county where the person died (my grandfathers are both eluding me as one died in Jefferson County and the other in Monroe), or if the person passed away between 1908-1953 you can find them on FamilySearch but if they died between 1954-1963 you have to contact the Ohio History Center in Columbus to obtain those.  The cost is $7 plus tax but I can honestly say when I mailed in my check for the two I needed, I sent away on a Thursday and my death certificates were emailed to me the following Monday (my check hadn’t even cleared yet).

Most of my relatives are from Pennsylvania which has a much stricter policy for the release of their vital statistics.  Birth certificates are available 106 years after birth.  Death certificates are available 50 years after they die. Next year I will finally be able to get my grandmother’s birth certificate as she was born in 1914.  I will be ordering my grandfather’s at the same time as he was born in 1912.

Make sure you check with the state you are researching to find out when you are able to obtain these valuable vital statistics records and find out how much it will cost to obtain these records.  In Pennsylvania, it is presently $5 each.

Birth Certificates vs. Death Certificates

Though birth certificates are very important (when recently coming across my great-aunt’s birth certificate on Ancestry, I discovered that her father was not my great-grandfather). Death certificates give you birth dates, death dates, spouse, parent’s names, where they are buried, if they are buried, when they were buried, how they died, where they lived, where they were born.  Granted, the information is only as reliable as the informant, but it gives you something to go with as far as your person is concerned, especially if you know little about the person.

My Most Memorable Death Certificate

My most surprising death certificate I found using Ancestry Library Edition.  I am fortunate for my local library to have this, and so I would often go to my local branch and spend an hour or more at least once a week utilizing the records they had.  This is when I came across my second cousin twice removed’s death certificate.

RalphReedDeathCertificate

Discovering that one of your relatives was executed by the state of Ohio is always a little alarming.  I am sure if I ever find another (I truly hope I don’t) that I will be just as amazed.  (And I know I’ve shown this before, but some surprises you just never get over).

However, look at all the information that you can discover on the above death certificate.

  • Name: Ralph Reed
  • Birth Date: 1 Jun 1921
  • Place of Birth: Johnstown, Cambria, Pennsylvania
  • Father: Thomas Reed
  • Mother: Margaret Phillips
  • Occupation: Baker
  • Date of Death: 4 May 1949
  • Place of Death: Columbus, Franklin, Ohio
  • Cause of Death: Electrocution by Legal Execution
  • Informant: Mrs. Margaret Reed (his mother)
  • Burial: Headrick Cemetery
  • Date of Burial: 7 May 1949

All this information is from one piece of paper. Now in Ralph’s case, we are fortunate that the informant was his mother so it was a person who had a great deal of knowledge of his life.  Many times we aren’t as lucky.  So often I find “I don’t know” or “Unknown” for a parent’s name because the children of a person aren’t always aware of their grandparent’s names, especially if they passed away before they were born.

It is highly recommended that you gather all the vital statistics that you can for each member of your family.  These include birth certificates, marriage licenses, and death certificates.

New England States

Most states began keeping death records between 1900-1930.  If you are lucky enough to have relatives in the New England states where religion was the backbone of the community, you will be fortunate to have ledgers with birth and death dates.  When I was finally able to leave Potter County, Pennsylvania and go to Franklin/Hampshire County, Massachusetts, I was amazed at how many vital statistic records I was able to obtain for my family where they were absent in PA.

The Frontier

As settlers moved west towards the new frontier, keeping records wasn’t at the top priority.  As far as religion went, most of these areas had itinerant ministers.  These circuit riders went from community to community, performing weddings, baptisms, and possibly funerals, but the documents weren’t always filed.  This is why records throughout the mid-west are more challenging to find.

In Bedford County, Pennsylvania, where a majority of my father’s family came from, records are available in a handwritten book from 1890 to 1905.  But anything before that is a mystery, often relying on gravestones for the answers for vital records, along with census records for birth dates.

Sources for Family History

Though there are many important documents to find in genealogy, I find that death certificates are one of the more important ones.  Death certificates don’t always have the answers you are seeking for your people, but they are still valuable documents to have in your possession to obtain needed information about your ancestors.  I know I presently have a death certificate for my second great-great-uncle and it is the only hint I have of what my third great-grandmother’s name is (I’m still hoping to hunt down her fourth living child in a hope of his death certificate giving me the same name).  Both Ancestry and FamilySearch provide online images of death certificates so utilize these valuable sources, you never know what kind of interesting facts you will discover about your ancestors.

Genealogy

How to use PERSI

Are you in the same boat as me and really get befuddled on how to use PERSI?  In case you are unaware of what PERSI is, it is the PERiodical Source Index (PERSI for short).  Ever since I took my first class at my local library about genealogy I have heard nothing but wonderful things about PERSI.  Trouble is – I can never seem to have any success with it myself.  So today’s goal is to learn what PERSI is, and how to use it.

What is PERSI?

So I know I already told you it is the PERiodical Source Index but what is it really? Organized by the Allen County Public Library Genealogy Center (ACPLGA) and Find My Past, PERSI connects you with thousands of articles for genealogy and local history.  Though initially just an index relaying articles and their locations to users, the ACPLGA and Find My Past are working to digitize the articles to give family historians instant gratification.

How to Use PERSI

I’ve always understood what PERSI is, my trouble has been actually using it.  So here are some tips I’ve accumulated in my search.

How to Find PERSI

PERSI can be found by going to Find My Past, then using the toolbar at the top of the screen select “Search” and then when the pull-down menu appears select “Newspapers and Periodicals”.

Search for PERSI

On the left-hand side of the screen near the top you will see a heading “Choose from Our Collections”, fill in the dot next to “PERiodical Source Index” and you’ll be ready to go!

PERSI Screen

PERSI is Subject Based

It does not search the text of articles, it searches the terms or keywords assigned to articles by the people who created PERSI.  For example, you may come across an article that is all about your family, but if the person who indexed the article just assigned it “Bedford County” (where your people may have lived) searching for your family name will give you 0 hits. For best results you are better off to use the “Where” or “What Else” options on the search bar.

PERSI Search

Lots of Filters

PERSI provides you with nine different filters to help narrow the number of results you receive.  These filters include: last names, country, state, county, town/city, subject, keyword, and database title. These are located down the left-hand side of the screen.

Since the world knows I have family in Bedford County, Pennsylvania, I went ahead and did a search on Bedford.  By just putting Bedford County, Pa in the “Where” box (see above), I ended up getting 4,359 hits. This included places in England, Massachusetts, etc., which was amazing as I had Pennsylvania as part of my where.

By filling in the country, state, and county fillers along the left-hand side of the screen, I lessened my hits to 1,350.  Here is a screenshot:

PERSI Screen

Please Note

If you click on an article, it is not going to take you to the page you are seeking.  You will most likely have to read/skim through a book/paper/article to find the information you are seeking.  Try to be optimistic, this may be a good thing as you may find more information than you bargained for which is a big YAY!

Remember, not all articles/books/papers have been digitized so some books you may have to do an interlibrary loan to see.  I know earlier today I found an article from the Bedford County Historical Society that was done on my 5x Great Grandfather, Peter Morgart, in their newsletter.  I am attempting to see if they have past newsletters online, or if I need to pay for a copy of that 1994 newsletter.  I’ll keep you posted, it’s presently a Saturday and they are closed.

Lastly, you are able to search PERSI for free but to view records you do need a subscription to Find My Past.  I know I don’t always have a subscription for all the different sites for genealogy but I know my local library (at least my Main Library) has the library edition of  Find My Past for free where you can view the documents that are digitized. If you find an item that isn’t digitized, you would already be at the library and maybe you can set up an inter-library loan.

I’ll probably update this in the future.  I presently have a simple subscription to Find My Past from when I joined my state genealogical society.  It goes bye-bye in December so I am going to try to focus some of my research endeavors on here so I can utilize it before it’s gone (I say simple as I have learned many documents I need to view for my English ancestors are a higher subscription than the free one I received for signing up with my state society).

Just another valuable tool to maybe help you get the final piece of a puzzle for your ancestors.  Good luck searching!