In Honor of Veteran's Day

Today, the world remembers the end of World War I.  Although no veterans or civilians are with us to recall the atrocities, the record of their experiences lives on through letters, diaries and recordings.  I am in possession of a collection of letters and wanted to mark the 100th anniversary today by sharing one with you.
With the United States Congress declaring war on Germany on April 6, 1917, 2.8 million American men were soon to be drafted to serve in what was then called “The Great War.”Hoosier born George Bryant Harbaugh, a 22-year-old Deputy Sheriff with the Elgin, Joliet & Eastern Railway in Gary, Lake County, Indiana, was sent to Camp Taylor, Kentucky for basic training.Army Private George left behind his sweetheart, Elsie Wilhelmina Johnson, a 21-year-old Mother’s Helper living in Miller, (now Gary), Indiana.
Elsie saved every letter and postcard received from George.Only 3 letters from Elsie to George survive. The following is a scan and transcript of the letter detaili…

Haunted Rose Cemetery

I actually planned on writing about an awesome find by using an index that happened to me while I was researching last weekend but an event just occurred that I must get out of my mind.

On this beautiful cool fall morning, a World War 1 Centennial Commemoration service was scheduled at Rose Cemetery in Tarpon Springs, Florida.  I typically don't attend these types of ceremonies because my schedule doesn't allow it but I got an email message from a neighborhood list that I'm a member of Thursday afternoon apologizing for the late notice and something just made me want to go.  I'm not sure if it was because it was an Eagle Scout dedication for installation of a memorial stone and flag pole that piqued my interest since my children had achieved both Eagle and Gold Award in the past.  Earning those recognitions are a major accomplishment for a busy teen and I well remember all the work that was involved.  I've been working on a book about my husband's grandfather …

A Creepy Weird Family Story

Every October I like to blog about a family story passed down to me that I consider spooky.  The odd thing about the story I'm about to tell is that I can find NO DOCUMENTATION to support the facts.  Zero - Nada - Zilch!  Since this occurred in my lifetime I find the lack of proof frustrating and a little strange.  You'll see why at the end of the tale.

I come from a large extended family on my maternal side.  My grandmother, Mary Kos Koss, was the family matriarch who loved to entertain which greatly contributed to people keeping in close contact with each other.  After her death on 5 Jun 1985, the relatives, for the most part, lost touch with each other.  I witnessed the retelling of this story in the presence of my mother and grandmother from the individual it happened to and they are all now deceased. One of my aunts also had knowledge of  the event, along with two of my cousins.  My aunt is deceased and I have lost touch with my two cousins. 

Here's what I recall...

Volunteer at a Family History Day

Yesterday was a beautiful crisp fall day (okay, that would be by Florida standards) and our county genealogy society's semi-annual community help day.  Ten of us volunteered to assist and we were busy for 6 hours with no break.  That's awesome!  Clearly there is a growing interest in genealogy and I met several people who shared delightful stories of their family and had burning questions needing answers.
If you contemplated becoming a volunteer at a genealogical event but feared you couldn't because you weren't a professional genealogist you're sadly mistaken. That old saying "Two heads are better than one" is a classic example of why you would be helpful.  Here's some tips for first time volunteers:
Be prepared as time is limited.  I always arrive early so my work area is ready.  My society furnishes plenty of extension cords but yours may not.  I bring my research baggie (see Research Tips), laptop with power cord, Kindle, and pad of paper.  Make s…

Ancestry Ghost Hints

It's October and my surroundings are beginning to look creepy with Halloween quickly approaching.  One thing that greatly disturbs me more than the skeletons and witches on every corner is my ghost hints.
If you aren't sure what I'm talking about, a ghost hint is the term used for those pesky hints that were once available and no longer are.  There are several reasons for their occurrence - an individual may have uploaded media and then removed it or made it private or Ancestry may have discontinued the database for the hint.
Every so often I go through the hints as sometimes I miss a new database that Ancestry has added and the hints can give me some information I may have missed.  The ghost hints, though, remain and give a false number of the hints that are available.  I've clipped below the grayed out hints that appear on my All Hints page:
As you can see above, there are 7 and all of them are records.  When I look at the hint counter, however, it shows…

Why Sharing Your DNA is Important

There has been much controversy lately regarding law enforcement's use of DNA results from public sites to solve crimes.  I've even had a Client who requested the removal of results due to media coverage.  Here's my top five reasons to keep your DNA public:

You're reconnecting with close family that may hold the key you otherwise wouldn't ever uncoverYou've gained collaborators who care about the line you're interested in learning more aboutYou gain health information that you otherwise wouldn't obtain so you can make better lifestyle changes, if needed, to enhance your quality of lifeBy sharing your information, you're being altruistic in helping othersYou're leaving a footprint for future genealogists I understand the cons.  No one likes to snitch on family but the real truth is that withholding your DNA results is not going to alter people who make poor choices need to make restitution for their actions.  The serial killers who have recently …

Lineage Society Application Tips

Most of my client work this past summer has been for assistance in joining a lineage society. The reasons for the interest varied; one elderly gentleman wanted to give memberships to grandchildren as holiday gifts, several had affiliating with an organization on their bucket list and decided the time was right to pursue membership, and a few wanted to memorialize an ancestor.

In most of the cases of the clients who contacted me, they didn't need much help.  They actually didn't need me at all which I told them.  Joining a lineage society is not difficult although some have more stringent requirements than others in validating the provided evidence. 

If you're thinking of joining, you will first need to establish a relationship from yourself to the ancestor who would qualify for the society.  That means, proving you're connected to your parent and your parent is connected to your grandparent and so on until you reach the qualifying ancestor.  For most people, obtaining…