Sunday, February 28, 2016

Midwest Magic

Yesterday I had the pleasure of attending the Leesburg, Florida Genealogical Conference of the Ohio Genealogical Society, Florida Chapter  Debbie Mieszala, CG, presented on 3 topics:  Newspaper Research in the Midwest, Land Records in Pennsylvania and Ohio and Pulling Evidence from Beneath a Record's Surface.  I was especially interested in the Pennsylvania land records for the Kinship Determination Project I'm working on for my genealogical portfolio.
Having a horrible time locating a deed - I've checked with the county, actually two since one was split from the other, called and emailed the local historical society, public library, local genweb contact and genealogical society. Had found a genealogist who told me the probate records don't exist, after I spent $78.00 and gave her precisely what microfilm to look up in the courthouse.  Worst part was she laughed when she told me it wasn't there and didn't credit me for the time left I had paid for. She did ask if there was another record she could look up while she was at the courthouse but that was all I needed at the time.  Then she didn't write a report of her findings; I asked her to send me her non finding and she sent one line via email.  Found her on the Association of Professional Genealogist site so I assumed she'd be like the other APG members I've worked with.  Did she do anything unethical? No, she just lacked the level of professionalism that I'm accustomed to in this field.
I've blogged before about the experience my 2nd cousin had when he hired a genealogist across the pond.  Not wanting to admit his hire had done less than quality work he accused me of having wrong info.  When I showed him my proof he contacted his genealogist who was happy to charge him more to recheck her work.  When he balked she admitted she had only checked records 1900 forward and the children I had listed were born in the 1890's.  I'm not sure who was at fault there:  Did he tell her to start with 1900?  Did she inform him she had only looked beginning with 1900?  (The records for the 1800's were available as she later went back and verified my information).  Was there a language barrier that impeded communication?  Beats me!  Clearly she hadn't performed a reasonably exhaustive search, especially since the records were available in the same respository that she had found some of her data.
But back to the conference....
If you never attended a presentation by Debbie you must - she shares her personal stories in a way that is both inviting and instructional.  I love how she laughs at the frustrations she encounters, such as illegible handwriting, missing sources and records not where they should be.
Now I have some new places to search and met some wonderful attendees from Pennsylvania who gave me additional advice. One gentleman has volunteered to send a cd he compiled of a valuable resource to anyone interested in Pennsylvania research.  That alone was worth the drive!  I'll be spending part of today checking further and will make one last sweep through the areas I'm writing about in the summer so I can feel confident I performed a reasonably exhausted search.
My latest portfolio plan is to finish the KDP mid March, put it away for a month, check out the successfully submitted portfolios at the upcoming National Genealogical Society Ft. Lauderdale conference in May, edit the rest of the month and then visit the two areas I write about the most to make sure I've mined every available piece, do a last edit in August and submit in September - 1 month before my deadline.  We'll see how this works out!
The absolute best part of yesterday, however, was two events that were, well, weird.  The first occurred at the conference.  During introductions I mentioned that I was interested in Mercer County, Ohio as that was where my Leininger, Duer, and Kuhn families had resided.  A woman sitting right in front of me turned and said, "My mother was a Leininger."  Yep, we're cousins who had never met. At break I brought up my tree and found her line.  She had never heard of the Leininger Family History books written in the early 1970's so I gave her my email address and when I hear from her, I'll forward her to the author.  That's the 2nd time in two months I've met a cousin face to face on my dad's side!  I would never have met either of these lovely ladies had I not been working on my portfolio.  Oddly, I'm not even writing about my family.  I've selected clients and my husband's lines to submit.  Hubby jokes that my dad's side must feel a tad left out so the living keep popping up.
When I arrived home my husband was all smiles and said I had to look at the mail right away.  Did I win something?!  Yep, I won the genealogy lottery!  A package had arrived from a former church historian in Indiana who had sent me copies of diaries from the late 1800's to the early 1900's that had been donated to a church.  The diaries were written by the sister of the wife of the 1st generation gentleman that is the focus of my KDP.  I couldn't eat dinner - I had to begin reading.  I'm only up to 1890 (so my 3rd generation hadn't even been born yet) but the diaries contain information that I was told no longer existed.  Wow.  Double Wow.
What's really strange is that I had contacted the pastor who had forwarded my email to this wonderful woman.  She had sent a few pictures back to him.  He didn't forward her email to me, instead, he sent me a new email with the pictures attached.  As I reviewed them I noticed that one was missing.  I hated to be a pest and recontact him as I didn't think the missing picture of unidentified children who had attended the church in the early 1900's would be very helpful but I wanted to be thorough so I did email him again.  He forwarded my email to the historian who resent the picture directly to me.  I was correct that the picture wasn't helpful, however, she mentioned the diaries and asked if the pastor had informed me about them.  Nope, guess he "forgot" that part.  I'm so glad I am a pest, otherwise I would never have known about this valuable resource.  The diaries quote scripture frequently; although I haven't come across this line yet, all I keep thinking is Matthew 7:7 "Ask and you shall receive."  Works for me!  Happy Hunting...

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Angel Pie

If you were looking through my family's treasurers you would find loads and loads of recipes.  I have my grandmother's favorite cookbooks, which take up a whole shelf in my den.  Non could read a recipe book like a novel. Seriously!  She'd start with the appetizers, underline, star, make changes and by the time she reached desserts had come up with a wonderful menu.  She loved everyone's culture so I have recipe books from every nationality.  Adding garlic and olive oil, she somehow made them all Mediterranean but it always smelled like heaven when you'd walk into her home, especially on a cold winter's day.
My co-worker is still going through her treasure trove boxes of genealogical records that she inherited from her grandmother. She has found 1 recipe, handwritten by someone names M. Bonnell who we haven't figured out how the person is related yet.  I Googled the recipe and there are versions of it out there, evidently it's an old family favorite in many households.  Haven't tried it but may this weekend:


4 egg whites beat fluffy
Ad 1/2 tsp cream of tartar and beat stiff
Add 1 cup sugar, gradually beat till glossy
Spread in a greased 9" pie pan
Bake one hour in 250 degree oven.  Cool

Spread with filling of:
4 egg yolks, beaten, light
1/2 cup sugar
5 Tablespoons lemon juice
2 teasp. Grated lemon rind
Cook in double boiler until smooth
Whip 1/2 pint of cream stiff
Sweeten slightly
Spread a thin layer of cream over baked, cooked shell.
Over cream, spread the lemon custard.
Spread whipped cream over top of all.


Sunday, February 21, 2016

Family Reunion Episode on Finding Your Roots - A Must See!

Had an interesting week!  Attended two days of an awesome presentation at my schools called Challenge Day which challenges youth and adults to "be the change" in their communities.  It was physically and emotionally exhausting but in a good way. Instead of watching this week's episode of Finding Your Roots on PBS, I took a webinar offered by the Board of Certified Genealogists which was really interesting and I thought, more beneficial to me as I work in completing my portfolio for submission.
I caught up viewing the Finding Your Roots episode yesterday and want to encourage you to view it if you haven't already done so.
First, I must admit, I wasn't wild about the artists portrayed.  I'm not a rapper fan so LL Cool J and Sean Puffy Combs don't interest me.  Wow, was I surprised!  I seriously think this episode was THE BEST of all of the genealogical shows ever done.
No spoilers here - just watch it if you haven't seen it.  I loved the use of dna, I loved the wrong initial lines they followed, I just absolutely adored the twists and turns with both artists.  Kudos to how they maturely handled sensitive topics that were uncovered. These two men have the right attitude!  If you'd like to view it click here and enjoy!  Do it soon as the next episode will be available beginning Wednesday so you may not be able to access this.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Unique Picture Find To Try!

Ever long for a picture of your great great grandparents?  You've dug through your grandparents attic, asked your great aunts and uncles, scowered the internet and came up with nothing!  Frustrating, certainly, but where there's a will, there's a way.
I was able to find a picture this week by simply contacting the church that was named in the ancestor's obituary and asking if they had a record of her.  Within 3 days I had received a note from the pastor who had asked the church historian to scan a copy of the couple's church registration card and several group photos for church organizations the wife had been a member of.  How cool is that!
I had the obituary for some time and just rereading it sent off a light bulb to see if the church where she was a member for 60 years was still in existence.  I wasn't counting on a response, as you know from previous blogs, I've been unsuccessful before with obtaining church records but this time was different.
Now that I know what she looks like I'm looking through old family photos that I have with many unidentified people as I suspect she is in there.  That may lead me to a picture of her husband who was camera shy at church!

Sunday, February 14, 2016 30% Discount

Did you know if you are an AARP member you can receive a 30% discount on your membership?  That's a huge savings!
Last fall I received an over sized postcard in the mail from informing me about the discount.  I'm up for renewal soon so I called to have the offer applied.  All I needed was my AARP number which, of course, I didn't have in front of me.  The Ancestry Customer Service Rep recommended I call back a day or two before the expiration of my current account so that I could take full advantage of the offer as it is applied immediately to the day you call.  I won't work if you call AFTER the renewal date.  The offer is one time only and is applied as two six month concurrent memberships.  Works for me!
Since this is a sizable savings for my most expensive genealogy membership I began looking around at my other organizations to see if they offered discounts - checked Association of Professional Genealogists, National Genealogical Society, New England Historic and Genealogical Society, Florida State Genealogical Society, National Education Association and even Angie's List. No one else had an offer.  Usually when Ancestry runs a special it's not applicable to current members so I was really pleased to be able to take advantage of the AARP offer.  If you didn't get the post card and you are an AARP member, call when you receive your renewal email and tell them that you'd like the discount applied.  All you need is your AARP number.  Love those Senior Citizen privileges.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Dumping Your Tree - A Radical Way To Correct Mistakes

Have you heard about the movement to abandon your family tree and start over again?  I first read about this trend last month as some genealogists decided to make this their New Year's resolution.
My first thought was, "Are you kidding me!?!  All these years of work abandoned to start over!  No, thanks."
The reasoning behind the idea is that many of us, when newbies, were happy clickers and not really evidence investigators.  By happy clickers I mean whenever I found info on someone's tree I would trust its accuracy and include it in my tree without ever analyzing it.  Thus, wrongly added info perpetuated errors as others copied it.
I know for fact this happened as recently I was investigating a collateral line for my Kinship Determination Project and uncovered an error that I've now found to have been copied by many others. Oops!  Although the error was innocent it really drives home the point that genealogists need to be careful and not rush.
I had found the name "Catherine" with a family in the 1860 census and assumed that was a child of the couple.  There were two genealogies written into book form from 1947 and 1959 but neither listed the child.  I figured they had just overlooked her as they had other children missing who had died in between census years that I had found via Find-A-Grave and Baptism records.
Little Miss Catharine grew up and I found her in the 1870 census not living with the family but attending a boarding school in the state the family had just relocated from.  That made sense to me, she was studying to become a teacher like her siblings.
In the 1880 census I found her married and living in the same town as "her parents."  In fact, Miss Catharine had married the widower of her sister who had died in 1879.
I found that couple in the 1900 census living in the same county and included in the household was who I thought was Catharine's father.  That was good enough for me.  Except, none of it was right!
Now that more records are available I found the marriage certificate for Miss Catharine and discovered her maiden name was not the family's surname.  So I looked for another marriage certificate, in several states, to see if Miss Catharine was also a widow and was using her married name and not her maiden name on the document.  Couldn't find one. The certificate did say it was her first marriage and the husband's second.  I had the husband's first marriage certificate so that confirmed his number of marriages.  I figured that recording it was her first marriage was an error but it was not.
The error was made in the 1860 census.  Upon closer examination I discovered that the enumerator had written Catharine but should have written Laura.  Catharine's year of birth is off by 5 years from the family's real child, Laura.  No, the names aren't close at all.  The mother's name was Catharine so I believe now that the record lists the mom twice and omits the daughter's name.  The Catharine in 1870 was a cousin of the family but not their child.  The cousin remained in the other state and married there. Have the marriage certificate to prove that and she is listed in the two genealogy books. The Catharine that was married to the widower was just another woman who happened to have the same name; she was not related in anyway to the original couple.  Now the 1900 census is very interesting in that the father of Laura is living with his ex-son-in-law and the new wife, Catharine, next door to his daughter.  The son-in-law was quite prosperous for the area, the couple had only 2 children and a servant living with them so they had plenty of room for the elderly man that his own children, with their large families living near by, did not.  So, I've corrected my error; I removed Catharine as their child. Interestingly, one of Catharine's children married into the kinship family so there is a connection, just not where I had it.
I do understand that as we improve our work that we will find errors, most likely many errors, that were made earlier in our career.  I'm still not sure that dumping your work is the solution.  I'm more apt to leave what I have and then go back and investigate closer line by line to make needed corrections.
As more direct evidence becomes available, past analysis may prove to be in error.  I'm okay with that!  I'd rather spend the time analyzing what I've already found then having to accumulate documents all over again. Now I'm working out a method to make sure I am able to go over my existing lines.  I wish I could color code or date stamp when I've touched a family so I know they've passed my review.  Since that doesn't exist, I've created an Excel document that has the family name, for example, Joseph Kos, a column for the date I began to check and a column for the date I've finished reviewing his line to where they connect to a living relative as I know that with my more recent family members, the information I've recorded is correct.  I've also created a spreadsheet called, Interesting Folks, and I'm listing the ancestors' name, year of birth and death, the fact that's interesting, and the area that's interesting.  For example, Joseph Kos' fact would be that he died young due to the Spanish Influenza epidemic.  The area would be medical.  This way I can quickly find some of the interesting family stories that get lost in the tree.  This method is basically creating an index to the tree and I just wish I had thought of it when I first began!  Happy Hunting!

Sunday, February 7, 2016

A Haunting Visit in New Orleans

Last week was the first time I’ve returned to New Orleans in years and when a co-worker suggested going on the ghost tour I was reluctant.  I told the story of my haunted honeymoon and that made everyone accompanying me wanting to go on a tour even more.  I’m glad we booked, we had the most awesome tour guide, Dr. Z., whose knowledge of the city’s history was phenomenal!  I sent him the following story as I'm interested in discovering the history of what my husband and I experienced.
We stayed in the French Quarter around December 27-30, 1977.  Our hotel was on Canal Street but I don’t know the address.  The experiences we had during our visit have stayed with us all these years and we’ve never quite had anything close to that happen to us again.
When we checked in for our delayed honeymoon the front desk employee told us not to open the door to the balcony as the building was old and the condition of the balcony was not safe.  Of course, being young and foolish, I did not heed his warning.  As soon as we put down our bags I was drawn to the door to see the view.  I opened the door with the intention of just getting a better picture but after taking a step or two on the balcony I felt it was safe enough to go to the edge and take pictures up and down the street.  My husband did not accompany me, he stood in the doorway and watched. 
When I was done photographing I closed the door and we began to unpack.  We heard children outside the room running and laughing.  There was loud smack on the door which we assumed was made by the kids.  We were ready to go out and explore the city so we opened the door to leave, expecting to see the kids who had been playing but no one was there.  We didn’t really think much about it at the time, we figured they had just gone into one of the other rooms. 
We aren’t heavy drinkers so we were not drunk when we came back to the room hours later.  Sometime between 2 and 4 AM we were awakened by the sound of a cannon blast.  It sounded like the annual Gasparilla parade near our hometown so we turned over and went back to sleep. 
The next morning we inquired at the front desk what event had occurred in the city in the middle of the night.  The clerk said he didn’t know.  We left for breakfast.  Realizing we were going to run out of film we went back to our hotel room after eating.  Again, we heard children running and laughing in the hall.  Again there was a thump on the door.  Then there was another thump.  My husband opened the door and there was no one there.  An elderly couple was coming out of a room down the hall.  My husband asked them if they had seen children.  They said they hadn’t seen or heard anything.  Creepy, but we shook it off as we were going to see the King Tut exhibit and we wanted to get in line as early as possible.
That evening, we again were awoken by the sounds of cannon fire.  My husband got out of bed, went to the door and opened it.  No noise.  He climbed back into bed and there was another cannon blast.  He went to the balcony door and opened it.  No noise.  I was spooked so he told me that it must be the old plumbing in the building, someone showering or flushing the toilet.  I believed him and went back to sleep.
The next morning the children woke us up.  My husband said he was going to say something to the management.  We dressed as the door was repeatedly thumped.  Again, no one was there when we opened it.  We stopped at the front desk on our way out and my husband told the clerk about the children and the cannon.  His response, “You went out on the balcony, didn’t you?”  My husband said he hadn’t, which was true as I was the one who had.  I felt like a child getting caught with my hand in the cookie jar!  I said, “I only opened the door to get a better picture.”  The clerk sighed.  He said he’d talk to hospitality about the children.  I have no idea what hospitality had to do with the children but I figured maybe the staff had brought their kids to work during the Christmas break.  He had no explanation for the cannon fire.
That night I awoke but not to the noise of cannon fire.  I have no idea what roused me from my sleep but I felt heavy and warm.  I opened my eyes and in the dim light coming through the windows I saw an old man sitting in the chair by the balcony door.  He looked harmless and was staring straight ahead, not looking at us in bed.  I was too afraid to scream.  I just lay there and squinted to watch him as I didn’t want him to know I was awake.  I could hear my heart beating and I wanted to run but I couldn’t move; the only control I had was to open and close my eyes.  He had a beard, cleanly cut, can’t say if his hair was white or grey and it appeared he was in some sort of uniform but it wasn’t ornate.  It was a jacket with maybe brass buttons, and trousers made of the same material as the jacket.  He was deep in thought and somehow I knew he wasn’t going to hurt us.  At that point I was afraid my husband was going to wake up as I didn’t want a fight in the room.  I just wanted the man to leave but I had no idea how to make him go.  Just then the cannon blast occurred.  My husband sat up in bed and the man was gone.  I completely fell apart!  I cried as I explained what I had just seen.  Fully awake the cannon blasts were loud and clear, it was not due to old plumbing.  We had planned to leave at 5 AM to return home but we had had enough – we quickly packed and went to the lobby to check out.  It was about 4 AM so the man and cannon fire must have occurred about 3:30 AM.  My husband told the desk clerk we were leaving because of the noise.  I asked him if our room had ever been reported as haunted.  His bored reply, “All the time.”  I sputtered that there had been a man in the chair.  He just shook his head in agreement.  My husband recommended that visitors be warned.  He said, “The whole city is haunted.” 
Apparently so, after taking the Haunted Ghost Tour last week.  Some stories were sad, some were brutal - man's inhumanity to man is just disturbing! If I discover who was haunting our hotel room I'd like to gain a better understanding of their lives.  

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Evernote...Ever so helpful

Back from my trip and I’m happy to report the first two generations of my Kinship Determination Project (KDP) is in draft form.  Do you use Evernote?  I use it on my Kindle to take notes at meetings but I’ve never used it while researching or for any of my other portfolio requirements.  Maybe because I do use it at my primary job I had little trouble working on the KDP using Evernote on my Kindle.  Who would have thought?!  So now I have another place to access the document.  I figure I can review it during down times where ever I might be.  It’s getting to be quite long at this point so I won’t be able to review all of it during say, a lunch break, but my latest plan is to look it over daily and then devote the weekends to moving forward.  My goal is to have the complete rough draft - all 3 generations - by the end of February and use spring break to seek out the few remaining records I’d like to find.  They may not exist but unless I seek them out in person I won’t know for sure. I wouldn't be meeting the reasonably exhaustive search of the genealogical proof standard without knowing for sure!
I’m becoming so involved with the family I’m writing about I feel like I know them, even though I never met any of them and I’m not related to them.  I’m looking forward to traipsing around in their footsteps when spring arrives.  I would love to find a picture of generation 1 and 2.  I have one of the couple in generation 3 but to find the trifecta, that would be awesome!  I have a vision of what they looked like but who knows how accurate that can be.