Sunday, February 26, 2017

Leaving a Media Record of Your Family History


Yesterday I attended an all day seminar sponsored by my local genealogy society.  As always, I learned something new and enjoyed the camaraderie of others who are passionate about genealogy.  Lisa Louise Cooke was the primary speaker and I absolutely fell in love with her use of media to share her family stories.  I agree with her that the family members that get that glazed over look when you start talking about ancestors would show an interest in a short video presentations that highlighted an ancestor's life.

Lisa used Animoto and I plan to explore that site in the next few weeks (as soon as my new floors are in and the dust can finally settle!)  On the long drive home I thought about several "stories" I could portray.  I'd love to do one including 8 mm movie clips I have of my husband and his siblings for his retirement.  I'm thinking about making another for my DAR daughter tracing the line from the patriot to her.  Would definitely make one about farming since it's so ingrained in my blood; my son would enjoy that one as he's the hydroponic expert for the rest of us.

I think what I found most appealing was that the story can be "told" in so many different ways. Words can be included or not.  Music or a song can be added or not.  Maps and still photos can be used, along with video clips and photogs.  The possibility seems endless.

If you're having difficulty writing your family's story this might be perfect way for you to get moving.  If you've made a family video let me know - I'd love to check it out and learn from you.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Shaking Up Shakespeare's Identity

Image result for shakespeare family



Found an interesting article in the The Guardian that discusses a fascinating way that a researcher discovered William Shakespeare's relationship to his father.   Read Sherlock Holmes of the Library Cracks Shakespeare's Identity for a unique genealogical toolbox idea.



Sunday, February 19, 2017

Home Renovations Then and Now

Image result for home renovation


Oh, the joys of home ownership!  We started our mostly do-it-yourself project with gutting the kitchen the day after Thanksgiving.  I was hoping it would be done by Monday, President's Day, but it isn't going to happen because the microwave that was supposed to be delivered Saturday got pushed back to Monday because of a snafu between the store and the delivery person and the window installer who was supposed to install the new windows on Monday had a family emergency so I don't have a date for when that will be finished.  We're still waiting on four trim pieces for the cabinets that never came in last month with the rest of the order and hubby can't finish the backsplash and the floor tile until the window is in and the trim is done.  And that's just the beginning of the project!
We're removing the rest of the tile in the house on Tuesday, installing new sliders, painting and then adding new flooring over the upcoming months. Most of our belongings are in boxes in the guest room and the furniture is piled up in the living room. The chaos is making our cats neurotic and I can certainly empathize with them.  When it becomes overwhelming, I try to focus on how lucky we our compared to renovations back in the day.
Sometimes in genealogy we get so wrapped up in finding an elusive record that we don't stop to think about the life experiences of those we are seeking.  Here's an interesting thought - ever since the first home was constructed, generations of our ancestors have gone through renovating their dwellings. Perhaps it was rebuilding after a fire or flood.  Maybe it was enlarging to accommodate a growing family.  Possibly it was updating to a newer and better style.  No matter the reason, I found mention of home improvements in the diary of Mary Ann Eyster Johnson that I could identify with.  Here's some of my favorites and why:
  • On 11 June 1884, Mary Ann noted that it was "Clear & pleasant.  The Brethren met at Meeting House to enlarge the kitchen and build furnace."  The Meeting House was located across the street from the Johnson's home.  Hmm, we upgraded the air conditioner and heater just prior to renovating our kitchen. I can't imagine having to build a furnace, though.
  • We called in a plumber to connect up the new sink after the counter top was installed.  I have city water so I didn't need to hire "...Pump borers came this evening, too (sic) of them."  The borers finished their work two and half days later. Some of my neighbors have wells for lawn irrigation purposes.  A typical install now is a half day.  
  • Mary Ann's home did not have indoor plumbing.  On 19 January 1904, she noted that the "Pump frose (sic) up."   Thank goodness, I only went a couple of hours without water in the kitchen when our new sinks were installed.  Going outside to pump water must have been miserable.  Discovering the pump was frozen, even more so.  Makes me appreciate my plumber!
  • I was without a stove for the last week.  Mary Ann wrote on 10 June 1882 "Put stove on porch."  Every summer the stove was moved outside as it was too hot to cook in the kitchen.  In September, it was moved back into the house.  I am so thankful we don't have to do that!  
  • Besides the stove, each summer Mary Ann, "Took up the room carpet."  Since we're going to be putting in wood flooring we'll be adding area rugs but I don't plan on taking those up in the summer.  There's no mention of tile flooring so Mary Ann never had the joy of thinset removal. 
  • On 18 May 1882, Mary Ann "White washd (sic) kitchen."  Hubby repainted our kitchen white last weekend.  Great color choice, Mary Ann!
  • Although Mary Ann would not have had a dishwasher or microwave, she did experience appliance delivery.  On 7 January 1904, "Andrew brought out our new washing machine.  Cost $2.80 cents, freight and all."  That equates to about $72.23 in 2016 dollars.1  If only I could buy a new appliance for that price!  Wonder if she tipped delivery man Andrew?
Courtesy of Sharon Kinney, here's a photo of Mary Ann's home:
Since I'm now an "expert,"  those sure look like standard windows to me.

1 Inflation Calculator, 1904-2016; digital database, in2013dollars.com (http://www.in2013dollars.com:  accessed 18 February 2017).

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Dealing with Genealogical Disappointments


Besides blogging twice a week on Genealogy At Heart, I also guest blog occasionally for other organizations.  Check out my latest blog for AncestorCloud  - Dealing with Genealogical Disappointments.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Lighting the Path to a New Life

Midtown 
I’ve just returned from attending an awesome conference in New York City.  I love New York, no matter what season I visit!  Usually I think about my husband’s lines that were residents there during the New Netherland years but not this time.
Perhaps due to the current political climate and the fact that one of my colleagues couldn’t travel with us as she was taking her U.S. citizenship exam, I instead thought about a family emigration story on my maternal side.
My great grandmother, Anna Grdenic Kos, arrived in the U.S. with two of her surviving children, my grandmother, Mary, and my Great Uncle Joseph, on 16 July 1913[1].  
Anna’s husband, Joseph Sr., had come earlier, on 10 January 1910, to establish himself in America[2].  He was employed by the Pullman Company in Chicago after leaving the military life as a cavalry officer behind him in what was then Austria-Hungary.  
Anna was raised as a country girl; a farmer’s daughter who was shy and thoughtful.  Anna never spoke about the boat passage; all that I know about the trip was from the recollection of daughter Mary who, as a pre-teen, felt it was her duty to entertain the other passengers with her operatic voice.  Personally, having been raised in a household with both Anna and Mary, I also believe the underlying reason was that Mary hoped for fame and fortune in the new world and when she received praise and cash for her songs, she, like many immigrants, seized an opportunity. 
Joseph Sr. had traveled from Chicago to meet his family upon their arrival.  Knowing the trip was long, he arranged for an overnight stay in a hotel in New York City prior to the family departure via train to their final destination, a Pullman owned apartment in Chicago.  
I’d love to know exactly where the family slept on their one night stay in New York City.  I do know it had a wonderful bathtub that Mary appreciated. 
Anna and the children had never been in such a great city and although Mary was disappointed the streets truly weren’t paved with gold, Anna fell in love with the array of merchandise in store windows.  So last Sunday, as I walked down 34th Street and window shopped, I tried to imagine the shock and awe Anna and Mary experienced as they took in the wonderful sights.  Having just learned that her new apartment came with electricity, Anna fell in love with a lamp she saw in a storefront.  Joseph Sr. informed Anna that the delicate lamp would not survive the long journey ahead.  Disappointed, Anna swore one day she would own one.  A few weeks later, Joseph purchased the lamp at Marshall Fields in Chicago.  The treasured lamp still remains in the family:
I’ve always wondered the name of the store where Anna first spotted the lamp.  Mary could only recall that the shop had clothes that she was much more interested in than a lamp.  My guess is it was either Macy’s or Bloomingdale’s.   
The family and the lamp continued to stay in Pullman housing in Chicago until the spring of 1919. The photo below was taken shortly before they moved to Gary, Indiana; Mary had wed and her husband, John, along with her father, Joseph, had found new jobs at U.S. Steel.  

A neighbor, Joseph Jr., Mary with her oldest child, Dorothy, and Dorothy's Godmother
The lamp survived that relocation and several others.  It's light has shown over 5 generations of owners and hopefully will continue for many generations to come.  
When I see the Statue of Liberty's lamp I am reminded of my family's journey and the story of our very own lamp.  Each time I turn on the light I think of the words of Martin Luther King, "Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.  Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that." It is a message appropriate for today and well worth remembering.  That little light of mine connects me to my ancestor's past - the good, the bad, the ugly - and gives me hope and strength for whatever the future might hold.



[1]New York Passenger Lists 1820-1957, "Mara Kos," 16 July 1913; digital image, Ancestry (http:  Ancestry.com:  accessed 10 February 2017), citing NARA microfilm T715_2130.
[2] New York Passenger Lists 1820-1957, "Josip Kos," 17 January 1910; digital image, Ancestry (http:  Ancestry.com:  accessed 10 February 2017), citing NARA microfilm T715_1400.
[3] Martin Luther King, Jr. Strength to Love, Cleveland, Ohio:  Collins, 1977) 47.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Listening While You Research


My hubby found a really interesting link a few weeks ago and I just had to share it.  Did you know that you can listen to a radio station from your computer? Simply visit Radio Garden and you'll be live streaming radio stations anywhere in the world.
If you're thinking this has nothing to do with genealogy, think again.
I tried it while doing some research to gain a better sense of the community.  I clicked on the locale from the map (any of the green dots) and was soon hearing WVLP-Valparaiso, Indiana.  Sure the area has changed since the time when the person I was researching lived there but Valpo remains an agriculture center which it was in the 1920's.  Sometimes, the more things change the more they remain the same!
Next time you need a little background noise give it a try.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Curse the Thief the Medieval Way


When you were in school, did you ever have an assignment that required you to use a specific text in a library?  As an undergrad in psychology, I often had to complete weekly required readings of journal articles.  High tailing it to the library was never the issue for me; what was absolutely awful was discovering that the required reading was (gasp!) missing.  And by missing I don't mean that someone was using it, I mean that some mean, no good, very bad person had left the book on the shelf but ripped out the sought after article.

Complaining to the media specialist was fruitless.  There staff was as limited then as today, there were no security cameras and few interlibrary loans.  Complaining to the professor helped somewhat; he/she often had the needed matierial in their office so you could read it to complete the assignment but you had to sit under their watchful eye and that was nerve wracking.

What frustrated me the most about those experiences was that they were ongoing.  The professors never addressed the class to let the self centered individual know that their behavior was abhorrent. The practice was so wide spread at my university that by my senior year the library changed policy and any required reading for our department was removed from the general shelves and held safely behind the reference desk.  To view it, the student had to sign their life away and produce a valid photo id.

Today, this would no longer be an issue since most readings can be done electronically.  So my unpleasant experiences may have been the end of that diabolical practice.

During the time this was occurring, I can admit that I cursed whoever the individual was that was behind the devious deed.  My husband, an economics major, never had this happen to him so he empathized with me.  Together, we created verbal curses of the absolutely worst thing that we thought should happen to the perpetrator.  From our world perspective at the time, this included horrible happening in the then present, such as having their draft number called, and to the future, as we wished if they ever had children they would go missing.  Yes, my coping skills at the time weren't fully developed but it did help me get through the semesters.

With that background in mind, I was delighted to read a blog post written at Olive Tree Genealogy a few weeks ago about medieval book curses.  At first, I thought the curses referred to black magic but that wasn't the case.  Instead, scribes often wrote curses warning individuals who were reading the text of dire consequences if they tore out a page or stole the book.  I loved the idea!  Granted, this would not have been a viable option for me as society is not quite so superstitious as it once was. Nonetheless, it would make someone think twice before they made a bad choice.

Here's an example from a Bible scribed in 1172 with the transcription below:
"If anyone take away this book, let him die the death; let him be fried in a pan; let the falling sickness and fever seize him; let him be broken on the wheel, and hanged. Amen."1

Since reading that blog story I've done some more research into the topic.  Evidently, the practice was begun long before Medieval times; ancient Greek and Babylonian scribes had recorded threats of their own.

It is understandable why a curse threat was added as back in the day, it took months to hand copy a book.  It was painstaking work and the text could be destroyed easily from spilled ink or getting to close to the candle flame.

If you'd like to read some more curses, visit:
Protecting Your Library the Medieval Way
Top 10 Medieval Book Curses.
You Have Been Warned!
Chain, Chest, Curse:  Combating Book Theft in Medieval Times
Medieval Copy Protection

and if you just have to keep your own library safe, Etsy has a set of 24 Medieval book plate curses you can stick in your own collections!

Hubby thinks we ought to put the practice to use today by adding them to our writing.  He came up with:

He who forwards this article for others to see
I only ask that you quoth me
Thieves and pirates be forewarned
Your actions will be duly scorned
Copyright law is the real deal
Designed to address what others try to steal!

1 "Top 10 Medieval Book Curses," Medievalists; digital image, (http://www.medievalists.net/:  accessed 28 January 2017); citing Marc Drogan, Anathema! Medieval Scribes and the History of Book Curses, (New York:  A. Schram, 1983).


Wednesday, February 1, 2017

More on Accessing Records


Last post I mentioned that access to valuable genealogical records may be limited due to proposed U.S. legislation.  Today I want to let you know about other valuable records that are just waiting to be viewed.  By becoming a NARA Citizen Archivist  you can help digitize records that are just waiting to be discovered.  Here's a few of the tasks that are need:

Tagging

Transcribing

Uploading Photos

Contribute to Articles

Every little bit helps so find your niche and begin!