Sunday, November 29, 2015

Pilgrim's Pride Via A Lettter

Took a minute to clean my email after putting away the fall decorations and found the following link about the Mayflower at Crestleaf Thanksgiving Genealogy:  5 Steps to Finding Pilgrim Ancestors.
I've been trying to discover who my hubby's Mayflower ancestor was for years.  I have my suspicion but no concrete evidence.
My mother-in-law used to say her family hasn't been in the U.S. very long, just since the 1700's. That always made me laugh since my maternal grandmother didn't arrive until 1913.  Hubby's father's family supposedly arrived on the Mayflower but no one could recall who the gateway ancestor was. Hubby swore that the Thanksgiving oyster stuffing (which he absolutely hated) was a hand me down recipe on his dad's side from that event.  Personally, I figured the stuffing recipe was from Oyster Bay, Long Island, New York where I have been able to trace his line.  His mom stopped making it in the 1960's because no one liked it.  She had gotten the recipe from her mother-in-law and I checked with everyone on all sides and although it was well remembered, no one has made it or has it written down.  I love old family recipes so that's a major disappointment for me.
The family also knew they had a Mayflower ancestor because of a letter that was written by a family genealogist who was a member of the Mayflower Society.  Problem was, no one knew the name of the family genealogist or had a copy of the letter.
It wasn't until long after my in-laws passed away that I connected via the internet with cousins who happened to have a copy of the letter.  Like most family tales, the story I was told had been confused somewhat.  The letter writer was NOT a member of the Mayflower Society.  She was also not a professional genealogist but family history was certainly an interest for her.
How the letter came to be written, I think, is the most interesting part of the story.  In the 1960's a teacher in Chicago gave her students an assignment to write a paper on their family history.  Cousin went home and her mother knew that paternal aunt who lived in Ohio was the oldest living relative so she contacted auntie for information.  The aunt said she would write down everything she recalled and that is how the family history came to be recorded.
I never could figure out how my in-laws would have known about the letter as they weren't in contact with the Chicago cousin.  Perhaps there is another letter out there somewhere that the aunt took her information from or maybe, as this was a large family, the Chicago cousins shared the Ohio cousins info with one of the Indiana cousins and the information filtered down to my in-laws.
The letter mentions the William's line and claims that a Balsora Williams Dorval was a member of the Mayflower Society and the Daughters of the American Revolution.  Checked with both organizations and they have no record of her.  The Mayflower Society told me that many of their records were lost over the years and that during the time Balsora lived (1821-1907) the Society was more accepting of memberships, meaning you might become a member without qualifying via genealogical proof standards that are used today.  Some groups even allowed membership if your ancestor arrived on a boat other than the Mayflower, as long as it was shortly after.  I would love to be able to see how Balsora became a member, if in fact, she did.  I say that because the letter contains a lot of wrong information. The family Bible contradicts places of marriage, numbers of children, and spellings of names written in the letter.  That's not to say there isn't a lot of great information in the letter that was helpful to us in tracing the William's family.
Family information is important to record and it's not too late to download the free ap from  In conjunction with the Library of Congress, the program is designed for teens to record audio storytelling of their grand and great grandparents.  With more holiday get togethers on the horizon, further opportunities to join in are possible.  Just visit The Great Thanksgiving Listen for more info.  The recording can be uploaded to the Library of Congress and be preserved.  Making your family's story included is an awesome way to honor your loved ones, preserve history and get your younger relatives interested in genealogy.
So the hunt for our Mayflower (maybe) ancestor continues...

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Native American Ancestry Uncovered

Disclosure: Genealogy At Heart may receive a small amount of compensation if you choose to purchase products via some of the links below.  Opinions expressed are my own and all products listed are what  I recommend for my personal use.
In honor of Thanksgiving, I'm thinking about Native Americans.   
My husband loves to go garage sailing and just discovered a children's book published by Lyons & Carnahan in 1924 titled Why We Celebrate Our Holidays by Mary I. Curtis.  Looking through it I was astounded at the number of holidays that are no longer celebrated, such as Bird Day, Forefathers' Day and American Indian Day:

Evidently, American Indian Day was the brainchild of the Society of American Indians who proclaimed on 25 September 1915 the purpose was to strengthen the fellowship bond between "the red men and the white." p. 73.  The New York governor agreed and the first holiday was celebrated the 2nd Saturday in May.  Other states soon followed but the date chosen varied.  The book does not say how the holiday was celebrated.

I'm not sure when most states discontinued the holiday but I never heard of it.  November is deemed Native American month in my area so maybe it morphed into that.  I met a Seminole Native American reenactor of Abiaka "Sam Jones" at one of my school sites for Great American Teach In last week:

We spoke about the the lens people have on historical events.
This got me thinking about changes in word usage and how we need to remember what once was acceptable might no longer be. We no longer say "Indians" as its not only inaccurate, it's offensive.   Fifty years ago, as a Brownie Girl Scout, I learned the following song with hand motions at Camp Meadowbrook:
"Indians are high minded,
Bless my soul, 
They're double jointed.
They climb hills
and don't mind it.
All day long!"

The person who taught us that little ditty was a Native American, supposedly one of the last of the Potawatomi tribe:
Campers at Camp Meadowbrook in Lake County, Indiana
I loved anything Native American because I believed I was genetically related.  My mother told me that my father had told her that there was Native American ancestry in his past.  I looked Native American by skin tone, eyes and hair.  I decided I must be Potawatomi because that tribe resided where my father's family farmed.  Years ago, my husband even had a bust made of a Potawatomi chief as a visual reminder to me that I would one day discover that unknown lineage.  
Then, dna became inexpensively available and I discovered I had NO Native American ancestry.  So why did my dad think he did?
Climbing the family tree instead of hills uncovered what I think was the root of the story.  
My dad was Orlo Guy Leininger.  His great great grandfather, Jean "John" arrived in America in 1827.  There were several other Leininger branches that had come to the U.S. before and after John's line.  Although we haven't identified who the original Leininger was, tests on several of the males from varying branches show that there was one Leininger ancestor from the Bas Rhin region of what was then owned by Germany.  
The earliest Leininger emigrants settled in Pennsylvania and later ones, like my line, in Ohio.  With large families and limited land the families moved farther west.  While I was growing up there was another Leininger family in the same locality where my father lived.  He had no knowledge (and neither did they) of how they were related.  Their gateway ancestor first settled in Pennsylvania and that is where I believe the mistaken tale of Native American ancestry began.
Sebastian Leininger immigrated in 1748 to Pennsylvania with his wife and four children.  The family farmed on the then farthest western boundary in the new world.  One day, Sebastian's wife and oldest son, Johan Conrad, took the wagon to town.  Sebastian remained on the farm with his youngest son and his two daughters, Regina and Barbara.  A culture clash was arising in the area between the French, British, German and Native Americans.  A band of Native Americans attacked several homesteads that day.  The Leininger cabin was one of those targeted.  Sebastian and his son were killed while daughters Barbara and Regina were taken as captives. The girls were separated and moved into the Ohio valley where they remained for a number of years.  
There are two young adult books available that tell the story in more detail.  Interestingly, they are written with the point of view from different sisters - I Am Regina (Leininger) and Alone, Yet Not Alone is Barbara Leininger's story. The last book was also made into a movie with limited release in 2013 and an Academy Award controversy over the title song - Alone, Yet Not Alone [Accompaniment/Performance Track] (Daywind Soundtracks Contemporary)
I believe the Leininger abductions became twisted in the retelling and that was why my father thought the Leininger family was Native American.  

Want to know if you have Native American ancestry?  Check out Genealogy Today's recent blog 5 Clues You May Have American Indian Ancestry.
Wishing you a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Genealogy and Your Genes - Experiencing Trauma Can Last Longer Than a Lifetime!

This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, I may receive compensation.

A week ago I attended The Science of Character Learning and the Brain Conference in Boston.  Lots of theoretical and not a lot of practical info given but one keynote session keeps reverberating in my mind.  Although the research findings are still being examined, according to Kenneth Ginsburg, MD, the line between nature and nurture is blurring.  This has implications for a genealogist and reinforces our research practices!
How many times have you re-discovered that you had several ancestors in the same or similar career that you engage in today?  Of course, if you live on the family farm that wouldn’t be surprising but hubby and I have both found that we have educators back into the 1500’s.  Who would have thought?  My mom was a bookkeeper and may dad worked in a steel mill and farmed.  Husband’s dad was a chemist and his mom, a secretary.  None of our grandparents were educators, or so we thought.  I did uncover that my paternal grandmother taught for a brief time prior to her marriage but that discovery was long after I became an educator.  Every time I complete a career interest inventory it points me into the direction of education so I must have inherited traits from a long list of predecessors.  Hmmm.
When I think of genetics I think of gender, body type and eye, hair and skin color.  I also think of diseases, such as hemophilia, Tay-Sachs and sickle cell.  As a counselor, I’ve never really thought about the fact that past traumatic experiences genetically influence the future. 
Ginsburg mentioned a study regarding Holocaust victims and changes in their genetic makeup being passed to their offspring and their children’s children.  I’m not talking about horrific medical experimentation, either.  I’m talking about changes resulting from living during the time of the Holocaust.  You can read about the study here,
What does this mean for genealogists?  I think it drives home the importance of not just searching for records pertaining to a particular individual but also finding out about events occurring during that individual’s life.  Knowing the family’s socioeconomic status  can shed light on the person in more ways than just a marriage license ever could.  Here’s an example:
My mother, a product of the depression and a daughter of immigrants, had to leave school to support the family.  Later, as a single mother, her limited job choices hindered her earned income.  My husband’s family also experienced the depression geographically close to where my mother resided.  His maternal line, though, was not as severely affected as my family.  His grandparents were all born in the U.S. and none of their children had to quit school.  There was a tough time on his paternal line but the children were younger than my mother and with the help of extended family, bore less of a detrimental long term effect.
Am I cheap (my husband likes to call me thrifty instead) because I inherited a cheap gene due to the depression and my husband did not inherit one?  According to the research findings that’s possible. (Well, maybe there isn't a cheap gene but gene markers may have been altered.)  I suspect changes occurred on the X chromosome as my daughter is cheap, too, and my son is not.  Mom could have passed it to me and I passed it to daughter. My maternal grandmother and great grandmothers were definitely not frugal!  Since I wasn’t there I can only go by hearsay but they didn’t like the monetary constraints of the depression at all and once the family’s finances improved, went back to spending on home improvements, new clothing and trips as they had done before the depression happened.  I can validate that by looking at pictures and items purchased by them over their lifetimes. My mother self reported many times as I was growing up about how stressful it was to live through the depression.  As the article mentioned, stress can influence genes.
Stress results not just from socioeconomic status.  Other areas need to be explored, as well.  Think about church and organizational affiliations (imagine the stress of being shunned!), military involvement (my dad stationed in Alaska was not as stressed as hubby's uncle who was a prisoner of war), education (struggling academically or being forced to quit vs. being a valedictorian), relocation (being alone instead of having family and friends as support), and weather disasters (starting over after the Chicago Fire or Hurricane Katrina) could all alter a family's future.  These examples are limited - there are lots of stress factors that I haven't even mentioned.  
Genealogically best practice:  we need to keep stress events of our ancestors in mind as we research and examine the stress level for the identified event.  A broken car axle would stress me out today.  I could have been killed or severely injured when it broke so a threat to my safety would have occurred, the financial impact would be painful and the lost time from work would make me anxious.  A broken axle on my ancestor's Conestoga wagon, however, could have been far more stressful than what I would have experienced today.  No wagon shop on the prairie, safety threats would also include having to face severe weather, wild animals and unsavory individuals.  My ancestor's stress level would far exceed what I would be feeling.  
I want to caution, Dear Readers, that the implication of experiencing stress does not mean that future family members are doomed for eternity.  This blog was certainly not meant to be an excuse for being stuck in a detrimental family cycle.  There are many ways to cope with stress and traumatic life experiences that you or perhaps, an ancestor, had experienced. Definitely seek help if you're affected!
All this reflection on stress also got me thinking about the changes being made to the website. If you haven't heard, by December 15th only the “new” Ancestry will be available.  Perhaps I’m giving more credit then they deserve but maybe why they are featuring life events now is due to their revamped dna service.  I don’t know that for sure but it will be helpful if they can improve upon the no brainers featured of say, the years that World War I occurred.  If Ancestry could identify events that might be specific to the area where the ancestor lived would be just awesome! Until that time, we need to hunt down the events ourselves so we can better understand our families.
With the holidays approaching I will be letting you know about genealogy gift items that may be of interest to you.  Some of these flexoffers may provide me compensation.  

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Visiting The New England Historic and Genealogical Society

Last weekend I had the pleasure of researching at the New England Historic and Genealogical Society in Boston, Massachusetts.
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If you’re planning a first visit, here’s some tips I found useful:
  •  The library is SMALL but filled with tremendous resources that you might not find anywhere else.  Don’t let the size fool you!  Obviously, the holdings are fantastic if you have New England relatives but there is also a sizable collection of Long Island and New Netherlands.  My most awesome find was from Indiana, though, so don’t discount other areas!
  • COST is free if you’re a member (about $90.00 a year) and $20.00 if you aren’t. Click for Info on Joining! I highly recommend being a member for the following reasons :  First, if you’re planning on spending a few days, it’s cost effective.  Second, as a member you get a lot of perks you wouldn’t get with a day entrance fee – those wonderful journal articles that the society puts out, discounted fee on accessing a genealogist, training opportunities and so on.  Third, you’re helping the society keep the materials available to everyone. 
  • BE PREPARED (Yay, Boy and Girl Scouts!) Seriously, know what you’re trying to find before you get there so you don’t waste valuable research time.  You can do a search of the card catalog online at .  If you haven’t registered, which you can do even if you don’t join the society, it’s easy and if you save the search items, you can email them to yourself so you have it on your phone and tablet when you arrive.  It saves results with the FLOOR listed so you know exactly where you need to look.  Emailing saves a tree, time and having to juggle more stuff in the stacks!  (HINT:  Many of their holdings are digitized so you can peruse the text online and focus on books in the library that you can’t view from home.)
  • To get familiar with the library you can watch their video, which I did, but if you’re short of time you’re fine if you don’t watch it. Scroll all the way down to the bottom of the page for the video. (HINT:  Start on the 7th floor which is reference because those are the books you can’t easily find elsewhere.)
  • Getting there is simple – I took a cab from Logan Airport because I had my heavy bag that I couldn’t check into the hotel since I arrived too early.  It was $23.00 without tip.  Another option is to take the subway, called the T, which is super easy to navigate, inexpensive and available right from the airport to Copley Square.  It’s a short walk. There are also parking garages close by if you drive which I would recommend against.  I learned to drive in Chicago and I drive in New York City but I never ever drive in Boston.  Those narrow streets and congestion intimidate me!
  • Lockers are available but they are very small and my large purse didn’t fit.  The website says NO SUITCASES so I packed light, stuffing everything in the bag, thinking I could get away with a purse.  I mentioned this to one of the employees and she laughed and said they wouldn’t have minded the suitcase.  Oh, well.  Since the flights were overbooked and there was no space in the overheads it all worked out anyway.  Across from the lockers is a coat rack so I hung my coat (Wicked Boston cold last weekend, it was 89 degrees when I left Florida) and put my bag on the floor in the corner.  No one messed with it.
  • Check the website for hours and days opened, especially with the holidays approaching.  I arrived shortly after 10 AM.  There were few patrons researching and no one in the stacks so I was able to accomplish a lot in a little time.
  • When you arrive there is a welcome counter to your left where I was given a map.  They will check your membership before permitting you entry.  Once you’re checked, you will be directed to the elevator.
  • I was greeted by a wonderful genealogist on the 7th floor – she welcomed me, was willing to help me get started and was open to answering any questions I might have. She had a client so another genealogist took over for her.  He was very professional, too, and gave me the wireless access.  I always bring just my Kindle as I find it's a light, space saving alternative to a laptop.  With access to my online tree I can fact check right in the stacks.  The internet was spotty, though.  
  • The stacks are narrow and dark.  There is a small counter in the midst so you can put your finds on the counter and snap a picture of the page.  You can also use their copy machine or save to a thumb drive but my smart phone’s camera is good with low light so I could happily click away.  I like that approach because I tend to look at many volumes and it wastes time to carry them to a copier, wait for the copier to warm up, and you know the rest.  Read an interesting article in Family History Daily that recommends the use of other devices.  View here for other ideas but I’m good with my phone. 
  • BRING PENCILS – they don’t allow pens.  I did print a concise list of the books I wanted to see and wrote my notes, mostly negative findings, on the margin to transfer to my tree notes later.  Here’s an example:  “No Adams, Cole or Dennis.”  To me, that means those are the surnames I checked out but there were no references in the index to them.  That way, I know later if there was another surname I overlooked and I'll not have to recheck the source in another library for what I've already checked. 
  •  BRING A MAGNIFYING GLASS or have an ap on your phone.  I miss my young eyes, I really do!
  • BRING POST IT NOTES.  You can quickly flag pages to take pictures of findings without having to flip back and forth to the index and they’re reusable.
  • Once I finished with the 7th floor I moved to the 5th.  No warm and fuzzy welcome there – two young ladies didn’t even look up from the desk when I entered.  What’s cool about these stacks is there is a light switch from the aisle you can turn on to get more overhead light.  Very useful!
  • After you’ve checked out your pre-identified books you may have additional time to look over the stacks.  That’s how I discovered my most intriguing current genealogical mystery.  Hmmm – why would my husband’s grandmother be enrolled in school at age 7 by someone named Frank?  Have NO ONE named Frank in that line.  It could be Frank’s name is an error or the record is for someone else in the area with the same name as hubby’s grandma (not likely, though, since I’ve been over the census numerous times without finding another with her name and she has an unusual first and middle name!).  Immediately texted hubby and asked “Who’s Frank?”  He didn’t know so now I’m on a hunt to discover more.  The book was a transcript of school enrollment for the late 1800’s in Indiana.  Must find the original record to make sure Frank is correct! 
  • Food and directions - ask at the front desk on the first floor.  The first person there was a volunteer not from the area but she was so sweet she phoned someone to help me.  I ate at a pizza place inside the YWCA but there's many places to get a quick bite.  I only stopped there because I was freezing and it was half way to my hotel so I could eat and warm up for a bit. 
S    I'll definitely come back after my portfolio has been submitted and spend time trying to uncover more of our New England ancestors.  So much to look at and so little time!
My finding at NEHGS also confirms what professionals emphasize – you have to look high and low to find proof.  I can’t explain why I found my husband’s several times great grandfather from New York’s place of burial in Salt Lake City and his Indiana grandmother’s school enrollment in Boston.  What’s strange is I looked for the burial records in numerous places in New York and never found them.  I never looked for school enrollment records in Indiana so I can’t say that they don’t exist there, I just find it odd to find it in Boston.  My point is check as much as you can about everyone everywhere you go.  I also find it interesting on Who Do You Think You Are celebrities fly from place to place to trace their families. Lucky for them, their family records are ALWAYS where they lived.  Clearly mine are not!

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Being Thankful for Genealogy Goodness

Last Sunday I wrote about genealogy bullies and record thieves.  I reflected this week, and with Thanksgiving around the corner and the heinous events in Paris,  I wanted to take a moment to think about all the kindhearted genealogists out there that far outweigh the small number of bullies.  So with here's what I'm thankful for...

  • Maggie Landfair who responded to a Rootsweb bulletin board posting I did in 1999 and provided me with so much info she had collected on her husband's side and put me in touch with the author of two Leininger books so I could learn about my dad's side of the family.  
  • Bob Leininger who shared his electronic files with me while he was half way around the world.  I've referred to those documents (and his books) time and time again.  Just wish he would update them! Hint, Hint
  • Edgar Duer Whitley who somehow figured out that my DURE family should be DUER and shared his lifelong work with me just weeks before he passed away.  I never found out how he got my email address but I was sure thankful he did.
  • Librarians across the country who have done lookups, gave advice and went above and beyond to help me solve so many family mysteries.  Come to think of it, I don't think I ever met a librarian that didn't help me.
  • Countless distant relatives who have contacted me via online sources willing to share what they've discovered and nicely correcting wrong info I may have put out there.  
  • Jenny Mig who I've never met but is the complete opposite of the bullies I mentioned last week.  Here's an email from her:  Hello, I just purchased a family bible from ebay that belonged to John Travis Harbaugh. I know it's weird that I bought a family bible that has nothing to do with my family, it was just heartbreaking for me to see someones family history being auctioned off like that. Most of them are hundreds of dollars, but I was able to get this one cheap. I will be scanning all of the hand written pages as soon as it arrives, then I am donating it to the Perry County Chapter of the Ohio Genealogical Society. Please let me know if you would like copies of the records that are written in the bible.  Jenny did just what she said she would.  How inspirational that she cares so much about history and record preservation to reach out to a perfect stranger.  
  • All my ancestors who took a stand for what was just.  It took great courage and I let them serve as a role model for me.
  • My ancestors who didn't make the right choice.  That may seem odd to be thankful for but it reinforces our humanism and allows me to learn from their mistakes.
  • My emigrating ancestors who circled the globe to seek a better life.  Their acceptance and acclamation of different cultures amazes me.  Tolerance and acceptance, we could all use the reminder.
  • and I'm most thankful for my husband, daughter and son who put up with my incessant talking about dead people they never knew and dragging them to countless cemeteries, libraries, museums, courthouses, and old homes around the country for years.  They still talk about how I got them lost in the Dismal Swamp on a road trip back from Washington, DC on December 30, 1999.  No GPS, the AAA triptics were wrong, we were running out of gas, it was getting dark AND we were all concerned that maybe Y2K really would be a problem.  We made it home safely and I continue the family search.
Please take a moment to reflect on the good in the world and make it a goal to tell someone today you appreciate them.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

The Genealogical Clock Timer Has Been Set...

I received via email notification last Friday that my Certified Genealogist preliminary application was received. Hooray! I immediately accepted the invite to join the Google+ candidate group, downloaded and printed the FAQ and 1st month recommendations attached to the email, texted family and friends and after the excitement passed, realized I have a lot to accomplish in a little time!  Actually, 11 months and 2 weeks until the portfolio is due.  Since I travel for business once a month I lose a lot of time so I have to develop a workable plan to meet the deadline.
I reviewed the suggested timeline before submitting the application and thought it best if I worked on one portfolio requirement in depth during each of my upcoming school breaks - Thanksgiving, Christmas, Spring and then using my earned vacation time since I work 12 months to complete anything left to do.  That plan was great in theory but as the holidays approach I realized it wasn't going to work.  I'm the go to house for Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's meaning I'm having family stay with me.
My revised plan is to write on one day on the weekend, do nothing on Monday, reread whatever I wrote on Tuesday, edit Wednesday and Thursday, do nothing on Friday and begin the process all over again the next weekend working on one portfolio requirement at a time.  That's how I accomplished the portfolio when I submitted it for National Board Certified Teacher so I think that's the approach I'll take again.
Last weekend I decided to get organized. I always tell my students to have all the supplies they need readily available to minimize wasted study time so I attempted to practice what I preach. Unfortunately, it didn't work out so well.  Last month hubby and I decided to move some furniture around between the kids' old bedrooms.  When we became empty nesters our grand plan was to have one room be a home office and the other, a craft/exercise/guest room.  We selected the smaller, darker room for the office but it doesn't work with both of us in there and the lighting is not good on our old eyes so now we've decided to flip flop rooms.  Then we realized that the smaller room really won't work for crafts or exercise and it should just be a guest room.  We get a lot of family visitors (sometimes I think I'm running a bed and breakfast for free!) and if it's being used by a guest, we wouldn't be able to work on crafts or exercise so the larger room will have to have work space for craft projects, besides a research area and enough room to work out.
In hindsight, this is a terrible time to make this change with the genealogical clock running.  I thought it wouldn't be that much of a problem to purchase furniture that would work for us but I'm not liking most of what I see.  Seriously considering getting 2 glass computer desks with a corner connector for the printer/scanner/copier and a table.  I'm over laminate top desks that look great initially but fall apart quickly.  I don't like the prices of solid wood desks and most aren't designed for flexibility.  Hubby loves his desktop system and I'm a tablet and laptop girl.  So for now, I'm between the old desk set up and spreading out on the dining room table which isn't going to work with the holidays fast approaching.
Last weekend I re-read and printed all the Skillbuilders on the Board for Certification of Genealogists site. I strongly recommend taking a look at the Skillbuilders if you haven't ever done so.  They're brief but powerful reminders of effective practice.  You can check them out here.  I put the copies in a binder in the order I need to refer to them as I work through the portfolio. I tabbed the binder by the various portfolio requirements and included a copy of the submission requirements and rubric so I can remain focused. I like everything in one place so I don't waste time looking up processes when I'm in the writing mindset.
I had previously printed and assembled all of my research notes and records for the families I'm going to be writing about so it was easy to include this in the binder.  I've started the Kinship Determination Project, identified what I'm using for the Applicant Supplied Document, and have accumulated a lot of info on the Research Report Prepared For Another Person (but haven't started writing it yet).
I'm still torn about the Case Study.  What I really wanted to do would make me change the Applicant Supplied Document because you are limited in portfolio submissions to one per family.  I could change the Applicant Supplied Document but the backup would make me change the Kinship Determination Project and I've already begun writing that and am happy with the line I selected. Decisions, decisions!
The introductory email mentioned I'd be receiving the final application in 2 weeks.  I have a business trip scheduled for this weekend but I happen to be going to a destination that I can research during off times I'm happy I can still keep up with the planned schedule.
I previously wrote the resume and updated it over the past week.  Will have to do that again several times, maybe quarterly, until I'm ready to submit.  While I'm off for Thanksgiving I hope to have completed a very rough draft of the Kinship Determination Project (KDP). I re-read what I wrote a few months ago and hated it!  I started a rewrite on Saturday, put it away til yesterday and when I reread it I was pleased as it was in the direction I wanted to go.  For me the KDP is the most formidable portfolio entry so I'm tackling it first.  I'll be so glad when that's done.
Next I plan on working on the Research Report as I may have to travel within the state to obtain additional records.  I can do that during Christmas break around the family visits.  I'd like to have that done by the end of February.
In the back of my mind I'll keep thinking about who I should chose for the Case Study and I'll spend March and April working on that project.  Since I might need to request additional records I may have to flip to working on the Applicant and Board Supplied Documents.  Will see.
Hopefully, by late summer I'll have everything near completion and then I can spend 2 months editing towards the final product.  I'll keep you posted on my progress and if I miss a blog posting or two, send good thoughts my way 'cause you'll know I'm hard at work on the portfolio ;-)

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Beware of Genealogy Bullies and Record Thieves!

Bullying is often an overused term to describe boorish behavior.  Disrespectful behavior alone, however, does not accurately describing a bully.  A bully is “a blustering browbeating person; especially : one habitually cruel to others who are weaker.”1  Habitually being the key word here, a bully must repeatedly and regularly act in a threatening way.  
When a bully is mentioned most visualize a schoolyard thug or an overbearing boss.  But bullying isn’t solely dependent upon face-to-face contact; online bullying is rampant and the field of genealogy is affected.
On several occasions someone has tried to bully me online.  I don't like to report people as I am a proponent of free speech, however, when an individual repeatedly threatens than I believe the individual’s right to free speech needs to be reined in by the online community.
I first encountered a genealogy bully in 2009.  I received an email regarding my public tree on from a woman who claimed my documented 4th great grandfather was incorrect and that I needed to remove his name immediately or she would “take action” against my “fraudulent” posting.  I looked at the sources and they appeared to be sound – census, marriage, burial.  I wrote back listing the citations.  The woman responded without taking into consideration the information I had provided.  She then stated, “I intend to report you to Ancestry because of your negligence.”  Negligence?  “You are NOT related to me.” she added.  With an attitude like hers, who would want to be related to her?  I certainly didn't!
At the time, genealogy was my hobby and I didn’t have the confidence in my work that I do today.  She had a title included on her emails that she was a historian with a genealogical society so I thought she had some degree of credibility and expertise that I was lacking.  I went back and looked again at my documentation.  The great grandfather’s name was fairly common so maybe there was more than one in the area at the same time and I had confused them.  I didn’t find any others, though. 
I decided to save the information by disconnecting the parents from the child. That way, the offending parent's info was still available as I didn't want to make my entire tree private nor did I want to lose the documentation by removing the rest of the line. I could always find the disconnected people by using the "Find a person in this tree" search on the website.
Several years later I found further information related to the family.  I reconnected the parents back on my tree.  Sure enough, I received another email from the woman.  Again she demanded that I take down the information or she would contact Ancestry.  I responded that I was not going to take down the information as I believed it to be accurate and that I was going to post her emails in the comment section of my ancestor so that others could see her threats.  I reminded her that she had contacted me previously without objectively looking at my sources.  She didn’t respond and I doubt she ever contacted Ancestry as that seemed to be the end of it. 
My next encounter with an online bully also happened via email through  I have updated all of the Harbaugh family since the 1947 text, Harbaugh History, was written by Cooprider and Cooprider.  I was contacted by a male who said he had been in an antique shop in California and discovered a photo of a Harbaugh I had in my tree.  He had purchased the photo knowing I would want to have it.  I replied that I would be happy to attach the photo to my tree and thanked him for contacting me.  He instantly replied that I would have to pay him for his trouble.  Whoa!  I never asked him to go to any trouble nor did I post a request for a photo. I responded that he might want to contact a closer relative as the photo was of a 3rd cousin several times removed.  Again, he responded quickly trying to make me feel badly.  It didn't work, I reported him to Ancestry. 
Unfortunately, he’s not the only antique store bully out there as I’ve been contacted several more times by individuals who demand a ransom for what they found. 
I also tend to get contacted by people trying to make a quick buck who don't understand genealogy.  Although this isn't an example of bullying or stealing I think it's funny how people try to get money from genealogists.  Here was the email exchange:

Can you please call me xxx-xxx-xxxxx. I think I have your Bible here... 

I responded:
I'm not missing a Bible, S. Who's Bible is it? Lori

The response:
Hello Lori, 

This Bible contains names such as Jacob, Edwin, Delphene. 


My response:
Hi! I have one Ortha Delphine Harbaugh in my tree. She is a 3rd cousin 3 times removed from my husband. You need to try to find someone closer to her to contact you. Lori

The Bible owner didn't even provide a last name.  She found people in my tree with the names Jacob, Edwin and Delphene and writes to me saying she found my bible.  Must think I was born yesterday!
Photos and bibles in antique stores always sadden me.  They belong in a family’s home and not a musty store.  Yet, that does not make it acceptable to demand payment for a nonrequested action nor bully the person who refuses to pay for the item.  To me, it's a take on kidnap and ransom.

My 7th great grandfather’s indentured servant record became available on Ebay awhile ago and I was contacted by the overseas seller to purchase it.  I downloaded the image shown on Ebay, attached it to my tree with the email as the source, and replied, “No, thanks.” He probably destroyed the original as there's no record the document was purchased or attempts to resell. Since the record contained other individuals who had become indentured at the same time as my great grandfather it appeared to be a court log.  I have no clue how the seller obtained it but I assume it was stolen from the government archives.  Would I have loved to have had the original?  Sure, but I’m not going to reward someone monetarily who has stolen public records.  Do I know for sure he stole the document?  No, but why he'd try to sell an original public record that should be in an archive makes me suspect.
I can't claim my interactions with the seller was bullying as he didn't threaten me.  What I can say is that there are more and more people who are trying to prey on those who are interested in preserving the past.  Genealogists Beware!

1Merriam-Webster. Merriam-Webster, Web. 07 Nov. 2015.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

A Serendipitous Burial Location

In my last blog I wrote about how I felt after getting "a sign" regarding my decision as to where to inter my mom's cremains.   Today, I want to let you know about a serendipitous burial location for my mom's best friend:
My mom met Helen when we relocated to Florida in 1973.  The two worked together at Montgomery Wards and shared many common interests.
After my mom died, I continued to send Helen, who had left the area, Christmas cards with an update on my family.
In early July of this year, I received the email below:

Just wanted to let you know that my Mother passed away on the 21st.  She was 89 years old and was as ready as anyone could be to go home to Jesus.  
 My wife and I are going through her things at our house and I've noticed cards from you for many years.  I'm not sure exactly who you are or what church you went to but it seems you and my mother were close at one time or the other... 


(Note to self:  Remeber to keep your old email addresses forwarded to whatever you're currently using so people can still connect!)

I emailed Bill and explained my relationship with his mom.  We corresponded back and forth via email discussing ways he could preserve his mom's many pictures and mementos.  Unfortunately, by the time we connected, he had tossed out the many letters my mom had sent Helen.  As he continued to go through his mother's belongings he discovered a clipping his mom had kept of my marriage announcement in the newspaper and he sent it to me.
In genealogy we don't often think about family friends as retaining our family information but seeing that clipping reminded me of the importance of checking outside the immediate family for records, too!
About a month after his first email, Bill sent me the following:

"We finished up cleaning out my Mother's apartment yesterday and that is a relief.  We've been going through her things when we can and it is so difficult as she had re-organized to a method we are not familiar with.  Things from the 20's next to a package from some charity asking for money from recent years.  Just trying to organize the photos is tough enough.

The funeral went very well.. I'm sure there haven't been many like it.  The kids were all very supportive during her time in the hospital and hospice.     I'm attaching the story [that was] read and my mothers Testimony.  Also pictures of her miracle cups.  She was convinced her cups could make a difference to someone so I am attempting to follow through with her wishes. Please forward parts that are interesting to you to anyone you would like....  

We were going to record the service but after we saw the samples we realized that some memories should remain just that. ...

My mother was engaged to one of the neighbors in 1981 (John)  after my Dad died in 1978 .  They were going to get married on the day after he actually died of a cerebral hemorrhage.    It was a sad time for her but it was life changing, again.  She ended up housekeeping and baby sitting for his Son and Daughter in Law in Miami. She did that for a while and they moved to Orlando.  She decided to stay and get her own apartment. Several years passed and money was an issue and the neighborhood was changing.  At that point I asked her to come back and stay with us while I was working.     She moved back in with the couple again and raised their kids through the teen years in Orlando.   [Then  we] found her an Apartment in a 55+ complex.   She said she had never been happier! 

Anyway, the point of the background:  During the service her deceased fiance's son told me that his father's Crypt was right over there and pointed to the first section of the Mausoleum that was very close.  Talk about shivers going down your spine!   We had absolutely no idea it was within view although I have a vague memory that my mother said that he was buried somewhere in the place.  I know she had no idea!  She had no sense of direction at all!  We picked out the place and only had her over to approve of it.  It is such a beautiful place.  Our "ashes" bench is right next to her.  We put my fathers urn and his dogs urn in with my mother.    When we asked her in the hospital if it was OK she just showed indifference.  Perhaps his religious beliefs were a factor?  If she would have known that John was laid out in sight I don't know what the answer would have been................ "

So dear readers, what is the probability of a family member purchasing a cemetery plot for their loved one and only discovering at the funeral that "We had no idea that John was buried in direct sight of our area...............   It was so nice that we actually went there and had lunch a couple of times on our bench with my mother.  I think she really enjoyed it there.  If she would have known her beloved John was right in view" All I can say is, WOW!

And the last email I received from Bill ties in his mom and my mom's messages from beyond using butterflies:

"Speaking of Butterflies:  The following is an excerpt from my mother's "Book of Miracles".  

"I flew from Miami to St. Petersburg to visit my son and family for Mothers Day.  I told Bill that I would like to go to church as a family on Sunday.  I enjoyed church, and afterwards, we went out to eat.  It was a lovely day.  When we got back to the house we sat on the back porch for a while.

A butterfly landed on my hand and stayed there for a long time.  I could move my hand back and forth, up and down, and it still stayed there.  Finally, it flew to Bill's hand , then to the children's hands, one by one.  Then back to me it flew.  After it had visited each of us, it flew back to the shed and stayed there a long time.   It came out about the same time every day that I was there.  When I left, they never saw the butterfly again."  

Butterflies seem to be a metaphor for life in some way.  So beautiful but so short a time.."

My mom had died shortly before this visit.  Was the butterfly visitor a message from my mom to Helen?  Doubters will say it is all a meaningless coincidence and psychologists will explain humans need to seek meaning in life, especially during a stressful time.  Those are two explanations but I prefer to believe that there is a lot of knowledge yet undiscovered and that we may one day better understand events beyond current explanation.  

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Butterflies and Flowers - A Mother's Message of Love From Beyond

I've been blogging about synchronicity - those meaningful coincidences that occur - and genealogy. I'm going to blog about events that I cannot explain but held a powerful message to my immediate family and I. Here's what happened.
First, a little background information.  I am an only child and was extremely close to my mother. Today is All Saint's Day, and although my mom won't be canonized by the Roman Catholic Church, she's the closest person I've ever known that espoused the characteristics of a saint.  An uneducated, single mom at a time when the world did not look favorably on divorce, my mom always put my needs and wants above her own.  A hard worker, she never complained about her lot in life and always spoke up for the underdog. Material things were of no interest to her. She preferred to be outside, enjoying nature, or reading a book.  She especially loved butterflies and could spend hours watching them dance among the flowers.
In January of my 2nd grade I contracted rubella.  I remember feeling hot, tired and itchy shortly after returning home from Sunday 9:30 AM Mass.  Mom asked me what what wrong and I didn't know; I just didn't feel well.  Mom and grandma decided I didn't look well and needed to lay down.  The next thing I remember was a few days later.  I awoke and heard crying.  I felt wonderful, better than I had ever felt.  I was happy and light and filled with joy!  The crying didn't sadden me in the least but I was curious as to who was upset and why.  It was my mother who was being hugged by my grandmother.  They were standing in the hallway outside of my bedroom.  My grandmother was speaking in Croatian, caressing my mother's head and saying, "Doro, I'm so sorry.  I know.  Ssh Ssh.  It's in God's hands."  What was in God's hands?  It was then that I realized I was a part from my body.  I was somehow above my body, still in my bedroom but I was at the ceiling level and could see through the closed door.  Looking around, I could see myself lying in bed, covered with a quilt.  I wasn't afraid. Instead, I was delighted that I was seeing from a different perspective.  I discovered I could move by just thinking so I decided to explore.  I moved so quickly, I call it zipping, that I soon found myself outside of my bedroom.  I could see my school a block away.  It was night and the stars were twinkling.  There was snow on the ground and the trees were bare of leaves but I wasn't cold.  I tried to look at my hands and feet but could see nothing.  I was invisible.  Then, I saw a path of light.  I felt drawn to it.  As I came closer I noticed that there were many "stars", little pinpricks of light that were also following along the lighted path.  I joined them but was halted by a voice.  The voice was kindly and although I call it a voice, there was no sound made.  Rather, the words were understood without noise.  The message I received asked if I was ready.  I knew what that meant.  Was I ready to move from this life to the next.  I wanted to badly because I felt so wonderful BUT I could still hear my mother crying.  My mental reply was that I couldn't go forward as that choice would destroy her.  Instantly, I found myself back in bed with a thud.  I was heavy and hot and congested and itchy and miserable.  I regretted my decision.  I cried out and my mother and grandmother rushed in the room.  They helped me sit up and brought me a cold glass of water.
Unbeknownst to me, I had been in a coma for several hours.  A classmate who's dad was a doctor lived down the street.  Dr. Lorenty had been summoned to check on me and had left moments before I "awoke."  He had told my mother that there was nothing he could do and to prepare for my death. After my decision to live I made a quick recovery.  So quick, in fact, that my regular physician, Dr. Fadell,  called it miraculous.  I knew it was no miracle; I was being prepared for First Communion so I considered to be an example of free will.  I had survived because I chose to do so.
The problem was no one would listen to what I experienced.  When I first told my mom I chose to live because she was so upset she looked aghast.  She asked me to never talk about my experience again.  My grandmother was the one who told me about the physician visit.  Grandma also said to not mention what happened as people wouldn't understand.  I did as they requested and only my husband and children knew the story, until today.
Because of that experience I have never feared death.
Unfortunately, my great grandmother, maternal grandmother, paternal grandfather, several aunts, mother and father experienced extremely slow deaths from Alzheimer's.  For those of you that have had a loved one touched by that horrible disease you understand why I say it's a slow death.  Each of the individuals I mentioned was ravaged in a different way.  My great grandmother became childlike. She would coo to my dolls believing they were her children.  My grandmother talked to pictures and the television, insisting they were communicating directly to her.  My father and a maternal aunt stopped communicating entirely.  My mother, however, fought the disease until the end. She volunteered to take part in a University of South Florida study as she wanted researchers to discover an effective treatment so other families wouldn't have to go through the hardship.  The double blind study did not allow us to know if the experimental drug mom received was a placebo or not.  We learned at the study's conclusion that she had been given an early version of Aricept.  Not a cure, it did allow her to probably live independently longer than she would have.  I say probably because one can never know for sure but that view is in comparison to all the other family members who had not been given the medication.
When Mom broke her hip and was confined to a wheel chair she showed my kids how she had learned to pop wheelies.  She always knew who the immediate family was but she had difficulty in knowing who was living and who wasn't.  She insisted her deceased sister and mother had visited the night before and she would relay their messages to us.  We would kid her that what she needed to let us know were the lotto numbers so we could win.  She did not find that amusing.  Instead, she always said she would send a message via butterfly that she was fine after her death.
When she lost the ability to swallow I wished that she would make the choice to end the suffering. Shortly after the terrible events of September 11th, mom passed away.
The Sunday after my mother's death I told my family that I wanted to take a long walk on the beach.  My mother loved Honeymoon Isle so that is where I headed.  This is what I wrote after I returned home from the beach:
"On Sunday, October 7, 2001 I decided to take my walk on Honeymoon Island Beach early in the day as [my family] and I had decided to have a family memorial service for my mother in the afternoon, followed by a lamb dinner at Hella's Restaurant in Tarpon Springs, FL, as lamb was always a traditional food used in the family during times of celebration. Although we were greatly saddened at the loss of mom/grandma, we were rejoicing that her invalid condition was over as she was of independent spirit during most of her lifetime and she hated being confined to a wheelchair. 
I often walk the 2 miles to the island point and the 2 miles back as quickly as I can for aerobic exercise and I enjoy the walk solo as others in the family have difficulty in maintaining my pace. I also enjoy the solitude of the beach as the area is often deserted.  This Sunday morning I left the house shortly after 9 AM with my pedometer on, ready for a brisk walk in the cool morning air. 
The beach was more populated than usual but most people were elderly, using canes or each other for support and congregating near the bath house. In 4 minutes, I had walked a quarter of a mile, leaving most of the people behind me. It was near the quarter mile mark when I first noticed a yellow carnation. With each few steps I encountered more and more flowers - all varieties and colors - roses, mums, daisies - in yellows, pinks, reds and whites. My initial thought was that someone had had a wedding on the beach the day before but I soon dismissed that as I noticed that the flowers must have come ashore from the gulf as they were wrapped in sea grass. The thought that crossed my mind was that someone must have had a wonderful party on a ship the evening before but the flowers were so fresh that I dismissed this, too. They were not onshore in clumps, either, but strewn almost an equal distance apart and alternating in type and color. By the 3/4 marker the oppressive fragrance of roses overcame me. I looked around to try to find the source. Nothing close by was blooming, only the sea oats which had gone to seed bent their heads in the wind. I could find no source for the odor which permeated and seemed to follow me as I walked. It reminded me of the smell that we would occasionally come across in our last house. That, too, had never been explained but it always seemed to follow a crisis of some sort and soon after, better times returned. This led me to think about my mother and I thought that perhaps I was mistaken in calling the cemetery [up north] and that maybe I should have my mother's ashes spread in the gulf as she had mentioned once. I thought that the flowers might be from a ceremony of that type. 
At the one mile marker I noticed the only yellow rose. Being my favorite flower, it made me smile. When I looked up I caught a glimpse of something flying over the water out of the corner of my left eye. At first I thought it was a sandpiper but as it flew I realized that it had a different movement. That's when I realized it was a butterfly - a huge brown and reddish colored butterfly the likes of which I had never seen. I stopped immediately and thought that I was hallucinating. My mother loved butterflies, the beach, flowers, and me. All of a sudden the symbolism struck me. I took out my cell phone and called [my husband] because I couldn't believe I was really seeing these things. The number was busy. I tried again, it was still busy. I decided he must be surfing the net. (This was the days of dial up connections)  It was then that I realized that the butterfly hadn't moved forward but was merely fluttering up and down over the waves. I said, "Mom?" and with that the butterfly moved towards me on the beach a little but continued north. I followed. The sky became dark, thunderheads mushroomed in the north and west. The waves and wind increased in strength. I spoke to the butterfly of things that had remained unsaid. At one point it came onto the beach and I again stopped. I reached out my hand but it remained just out of reach. I followed the butterfly almost to the end of the island where it crossed the small strip of sand and headed towards the bay. The sky had become even more turbulent and I feared that I wouldn't make it back to the car safely. Even so, I stood transfixed, I couldn't let the sight of the butterfly go just yet. The butterfly flew off across the bay. The sky in the east was bright blue and the morning sun glinted off the crest of the waves, leaving dancing lights. I watched until I saw the butterfly dip down into one wave and become a spark of light. I let out a cry, knowing that I would never see the butterfly again. I looked at my watch. 15 minutes had passed from beginning to end. I began to walk back to the car. As soon as I crossed the small slip of land to walk back along the water's edge I came across a whole shell. It was the type that my mother often collected and prized - a large clam shell, opened but still intact. I reached down and picked it up.
When I reached the 1 mile mark I picked up the yellow rose as proof of what had happened. It was too unbelievable and I wanted to have something tangible to show. Stranger still, was that every flower was gone upon my return - only 4 remained - all yellow, my mother's favorite color - and strewn at each of the remaining mile markers (3/4, 1/2 and 1/4). Next was a mum, the type of flower my mother used to buy for [my husband] occasionally as she felt it was appropriate for a man. Someone [although there didn't appear to be anyone else on the beach ahead of me] had stuck it standing straight up in my path. At first I passed it, leaving it as it had begun to drizzle but something insisted that I retrieve it so I went back about 20 steps and collected it. Then I came upon the first and second carnations, the flowers she sometimes bought for the kids. I stopped and picked them up, too. Stems, leaves and an occasional petal remained of the other flowers but nothing more. It began to pour by the time I reached the last flower. I walked back to the car and really don't remember much of anything as I think I was in shock. I came home, [my husband] made me a cup of hot British tea and I related what had transpired. 
Later that afternoon, on our drive to Hella's [Restaurant], we were a few blocks from the sponge docks and [my husband] mentioned the fact that in all the years we have lived in Florida and as frequently as we go to the beach (almost daily in the summer and at least 2-3 times during the rest of the year), we have never seen a butterfly on the gulf, nor come across flowers strewn as they had [been that morning]. Usually you come across the remains of a bouquet still intact but nothing of this magnitude and never with the strong odor that had come, too. Just then, out of right side in front of the car a monarch butterfly flew. We all saw it and I said, "Look at the monarch." Instantly it disappeared. We have no explanation for any of these events. Lori Samuelson 10-8-01"
Although these occurrences are odd, another strange encounter was yet to happen.
My mother had prearranged to be cremated but she had never decided on what to do with her cremains. Whenever I'd ask the response was, "Whatever you like."  Once she mentioned being scattered in the gulf but another time she mentioned being interred in the family plot in Indiana.  After the beach event I was torn about what to do.  I decided to go with the cemetery and arranged for the cremains to be interred during our winter break from school.  It was my daughter's senior year and as she had taken days off to visit colleges, she had no more excused absences available.  We drove to northern Indiana on Christmas Day with mom in the trunk.  The Memorial Service was to be held the morning of the 26th.  When we arrived at Oak Hill Cemetery in Gary, Indiana we were told that a snowstorm was forecast and that the ground might be too hard for the internment.  I was devastated.  Maybe mom didn't want to be buried.  Maybe I should just take her ashes back to Florida.  The clerk told us to wait inside the office and she's speak with the workers. There were only 2 chairs in the office so I sunk into one.  I was sadly staring at the floor when I heard my daughter say, "Look, it's grandma."  Looking up, I saw a monarch butterfly soar across the counter and land on my daughter's arm.  I burst into tears.  My husband said, "Amazing."  A moment later the clerk returned and said that the workman were able to dig the hole and we were ready to begin the interment.  The clerk looked at my tears and smiled.  I couldn't find words to explain that the tears weren't of sadness but of knowing that my mom was okay and that the decision I made was fine.  My husband tried to explain.  The clerk said that once in awhile butterflies just show up in the office, probably came in with flowers.  That may be but a monarch in northern Indiana in late December will always be seen by me as a final message from my mom.