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Showing posts from June, 2015

Faulty Memories

I think it's a miracle that there are any truths in family stories that are passed down considering how the passage of time and personal perceptions can lead to faulty memories.  I have just discovered two faulty memories in my own life. If you are a Baby Boomer or older you may remember where you were the day of John F. Kennedy's assassination. I would have sworn on a stack of Bibles that I was in Sr. Martina's first grade classroom at St. Mark's Catholic School.  It was morning, before our 10:00 AM recess, and my reading group was working away quietly doing our seat work while another group was sitting in a circle doing oral reading in the front of the room.  I recall the principal, Sr. Jerome,  opening the classroom door and sticking her head inside.  She looked distraught with an expression I had never seen her display before. I knew something was wrong and one of my classmates shouted out, "Sister" which caused our teacher to look up from the reading grou…

Planes, Trains, Automobiles & Barges, Oh My!

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As you read this I am somewhere along I-77 on my 2nddriving trip from West Virginia to Florida in the past 2 weeks. The 18 hours, nearly 1000 miles, distance is my last planned journey between these destinations and I can’t express how grateful I am to be through with this move.
My 3x great grandfather, Jean "John" Leininger, from Endenhoffr, Mietesheim, West Bas Rhin, Alsace, France (but sometimes Germany!) emigrated with his family in 1827 on the Canaris, a ship leaving Le Havre, France with an arrival in New York City on 30 Jun 1827. "According to an old note, they went 'by rail' to Buffalo, New York.  From there they went by canal to Canton, or Stark Co., Ohio."1
The family's choice of transportation was the quickest for the time period. Since the rails ended in Buffalo, canal travel was faster than overland by horse and wagon.  I think about my great grandmother, Marie Margueritte, with two small children on this journey.  No airport playrooms, elect…

Dad's Day

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Happy Father's Day!  Whenever I think of Father's Day I think about my grandfather, Ivan "John" Koss.
I met my husband a year and a half after my Gramps had died.  That saddens me as I think they would have really liked knowing each other.  Both of them, I would rate, as exceptional dads. Selfless, compassionate, funny and responsible both shared a love of music, food and hard work.
My Gramps was extremely thrifty, perhaps because he was an immigrant who had weathered the Great Depression.  My first bike was a many time hand-me-down from my older cousins but he wanted to make it like new for me.  He spray painted it green, my then favorite color. My parents were divorced and we didn't have a lot of money so when bikes evolved, Gramps updated the one above with a banana seat and cruise handlebars.  I thought I was so cool!

Gramps put up with my love of animals and never complained.  I can't explain how strays always happened to find me:  If we couldn't loc…

Moving Day

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My grandparents were able to blend their youthfully acquired Croatian culture with that of American (as in United States) society easily, or at least they made it seem easy.  I never thought much, while growing up, how difficult it had been for them to immigrate, as it must have been for all my other gateway ancestors, especially for those who did not speak English as a first language. I started thinking about these moves after recently helping my daughter relocate from West Virginia to Florida. For our daughter's move, we rented a truck, hired 2 college kids to help load it, drove it 18 hours using gps and unloaded it with help from family. Not a fun drive but it was the cost effective.  Total time involved:  2 days. Granted, as much as it is a pain to move today it's certainly far easier than back in the day of our forefathers and mothers.   I wished I had asked my grandparents details about their move to the U.S.  Sadly, there is no living relative that would have that inform…

Flag Day -The Most Under Celebrated U.S. Holiday

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My immigrant grandparents, John and Mary Koss, are the only people I have ever known that celebrated Flag Day.  As a child, I remember my Gramps assembling the flag kit and proudly placing it in our front yard, which faced Route 6 in Gary, Indiana, on every patriotic holiday.
The pic above is taken from an old 35mm film that my husband had converted to DVD.  I'm on the left in my tennis outfit.  I never did learn to play tennis well but I definitely kept the custom of celebrating Flag Day.

We'd cook hotdogs on a small portable grill, accompanied by my grandmother's Croatian style potato salad (which is sort of like German potato salad using oil and vinegar instead of a mayonnaise base but it's served hot).   My mom would bake a cake, frost it with white icing and decorate with blueberries and strawberries for the stripes and banana slices dipped in lemon for the stars.
I can't decide why Flag Day is so under celebrated.  Maybe it's because it falls right after…

Familysearch.org Needed Changes

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In previous blogs I’ve mentioned my concerns about data loss and record inaccessibility (see Ancestry Site Changes – The Good, The Bad, The Ugly 6 Jun 2015 & Poof Be Gone-How Quickly Records Can Disappear 3 Jun 2015).  A wonderful option to preserve your research would be to include it at Familysearch.org's Wiki Tree.  Unfortunately the site is not user friendly if you are not an LDS members.  Let me demonstrate-
To access the Wiki, first sign into the site.  If you don’t have a sign-on, you may create one even if you aren’t an LDS member, however, you won’t be able to link between Ancestry.com and Familysearch.org to sink data.   I have an extremely large well sourced tree that I would love to have on the Familysearch site.  I'm going to outline the steps below of what I would have to do to build my husband's paternal line on the Wiki.  Below, on the right hand side, you can see that there are no parents identified on my Wiki Tree for William Lewis Samuelson.  



There…

Ancestry Site Changes - The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

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I mentioned briefly in my last blog about the changes to Ancestry.com.There’s always an adaption period when there is a site revision but I’m really having difficulty with this “new and improved” version, more than with previous updates.
Back on February 19th, Ancestry announced on their blogsite that the site was in the process of beta testing improvements. Ancestry.com noted that their design team had 3 underlying principles – Make it beautiful, usable, and delightful.(IMHO, I don’t think they reached any of their principles.)
I didn’t sign up at the time to be a part of the members who could check out the changes.Last week I received the following email: “If you haven’t heard (or seen), we’ve made some huge changes to the Ancestry website. But the "New Ancestry" is much more than a new look. It’s new features that help you tell stories as remarkable as the people who lived them.

It’s the new LifeStory that turns the facts in your ancestor’s life into a narrative timeline, li…

Poof Be Gone-How Quickly Records Can Disappear

It’s officially Hurricane Season (June 1st-November 30th) and I’m predicting several storms.  My rationale for the prediction is from observation and experience.  May was hotter than usual and the summer rain pattern began early this year.  By rain pattern, I mean the afternoon thunderstorms that drench the Tampa Bay region between noon and four daily, followed by a gentle Gulf breeze and sunshine for the rest of the day.  The Gulf’s temperature is already hotter than in years when we didn’t have much hurricane activity, thus supporting my prediction.  My husband hates hearing my last reason for a bad season but I stand by this – our daughter is moving back to the area.  Every time she had signed up to take a medical school exam (MCAT, Step 1, Step 2, Step 3) there has been a hurricane – even when she had relocated to New Jersey.  I can’t explain why she hits the hurricane jackpot every time she has to take an exam but she has two more coming up – mid August and early October so I’m p…