Sunday, April 30, 2017

Genealogy Connection at the Car Dealership

On the way to a Croatian Picnic, July 4, 1923, Hobart, Indiana
 Left to Right Frank Tputic, Mary and Joseph Koss
So here's my Serendipitous Saturday event of yesterday...

Hubby's 10 year old car was ready to bite the dust.  In the past week the gas cap refused to come off, the driver's visor fell out, the windshield wiper fluid wouldn't pump out and the air stopped working. Definitely time for a trade in!

He absolutely loved the car so he considered getting those things fixed but when we started tallying up the price, decided to invest that money towards a new vehicle.  He wanted the same make and model since it had been such a low maintenance car but we couldn't agree on a price at the dealership, which was ironic because the by line is they never let a customer down.

We drove to another dealership where I had purchased a car two years ago and as we were negotiating, I heard a deep voice say, "I'm Croatian."  This totally distracted me from the sales person for several reasons.  First, I am Croatian and I only know of one other person of Croatian descent in a three county area adjacent to where I reside.  Second, in the 45 years I've lived in the area, I've never heard anyone make that statement.  Third, entirely unexpected, it surprised and startled me to the point of losing focus on the the sales person's conversation.  Fourth, what was really weird, though, was that my husband and I had just had a side conversation about my Croatian grandmother and her love of new vehicles so much so that she would buy a new car every year.  My grandfather never drove because of his poor vision and rarely went with her when she negotiated prices.  I had just remarked to my husband how I would have preferred to be anywhere else than in a car dealership and I didn't understand how Grandma could possibly enjoy the experience annually.

I looked at my husband after hearing the voice from no where and asked him if he had just heard "I'm Croatian."  Sitting right next to me, he hadn't.  For a second I thought I was hearing things but the sales person said, "That was Boris, he works in financing."  I told her I had to meet him so after we agreed to terms (HALLELUJAH!), she introduced us.

Boris emigrated at age 18.  He was born and raised in the same city my grandparents were from.  Knowing the area well, he corrected my pronunciation of the small neighborhood they where they had resided.  When I mentioned how much I missed my grandmother's cooking he let me know that there is now a group meeting locally for those of Croatian descent.  My first question, "Do they have lamb at their meetings?"  With summer coming, I'm really missing those old picnics from my youth.  I do live in a Greek community where cuisine close to my upbringing is readily available but those small nuances in ingredients make a difference and it's just not quite the same.  He said, "Yes, and they have kolaches, pita, and other desserts."  Oh my goodness!  I have the recipes but they just don't taste the way grandma made them.  I blame Florida humidity but that's probably not it - I just don't have the knack for baking the way she and my mom did.  So today, I'm heading to meet some folks and possibly kin.

This experience got me thinking about a different way to build your tree.  It had never occurred to me to try to find a Croatian group locally.  Whatever is your ancestral origins, it's possible they are meeting near you.  Check them out!  Even if you don't find a connection to your family you'll be able to enjoy the culture and cuisine that will give you a better idea of what made your ancestor tick.  Happy Hunting!

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Robert Flenner Honored by The National Law Enforcement Memorial Fund


Last fall I blogged about my search for relatives of Robert Flenner, a police officer who died in 1908 from injuries received in the line of duty.  The National Law Enforcement Memorial Fund contacted me after finding Robert in my public Ancestry.com tree.  Robert married a woman who was the grand daughter of a Harbaugh; I have completed a surname study of all Harbaughs in the U.S. so that's why Robert was in my tree.  

After blogging about my hunt to find living relatives I was contacted by a great grand daughter of the couple.  She and her father will attend the ceremony.  

I'm sure other relatives of Robert are out there and I wanted to make sure that it's not to late to attend in spirit if not in flesh.  Here's the link to attend the service virtually:

"Patrolman Robert Flenner’s summary has been included on the Memorial website at:
http://names.lawmemorial.org/officers/f/flenner42335.html

You may join us via live webcast for the Candlelight Vigil which will be held on May 13, 2017 at 8:00 p.m. by signing up at United By Light at http://www.unitedbylight.org

The Memorial will honor 394 fallen officers on May 13th, of whom 143 died in 2016. 

Please forward this to anyone who may be interested!

Sincerely,

Carolie Heyliger
Memorial Programs Research Manager
National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial
901 E St, NW Suite 100
Washington, DC 20004-2025
Phone: 202.737.7136 Fax: 202.737.3405"

I will be flying back from the National Genealogical Society conference in Raleigh and am hoping there won't be any flight delays so I can view the webcast.  

Sunday, April 23, 2017

National DNA Day



On April 25, 1953, James Watson and Francis Crick's article, "The Molecular Structure of Nucleic Acids:  A Structure for Deoxyribose Nucleic Acid," was published in Nature.1  Thus began the DNA revolution.

In honor of that anniversary, Thomas MacEntee has deemed April 25th as DNA Day and other organizations have come forward to offer sales and specials that may be of interest to you (Think of this as a genealogist's own President's Day sale!)

Ancestry.com's price is $79.00.  The offer ends April 26th.  AncestryCanada price is 30% off ; AncestryUK is 25% off

MyHeritage is also offering kits for $79.00 but will bundle a kit with a subscription for even greater savings.

23 and Me is offering free shipping on their $99.00 autosomal kit with 10% off an additional kit

FamilyTreeDNA is offering Family Finder kits for $59.00

The last time these prices were this low was during the 2016 Holiday shopping season.


Watson, James D., and Francis Crick. "Molecular Structure of Nucleic Acids: A Structure for Deoxyribose Nucleic Acid." Nature 171, 4356 (25 April 1953): 737-738.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Preserving Old Furniture



Besides family stories, photos and documents, my husband and I are fortunate to have several furniture pieces that have been passed down to us by ancestors.  Unfortunately, a bedroom set that once belonged to my mother began to show its age – it looked dull and small scratches appeared on the top of the dresser.  My kids insist the house ghost decided to leave us an undecipherable message, however, it looks to me like someone, once upon a time, wrote a note on top which left a minor imprint on the finish that became visible with age. We can't read most of the letters but a H, A and L are visible.
I didn’t want the furniture refinished but I did want to prevent it from further fading and minimize the scratches.  Last December, we visited a local antique store that carried a product that the owner swore would do the job for us.  With less than a $10.00 investment we thought, why not?!
Hubby tried it on the dresser as soon as we returned home and we were disappointed that there was no visible change to the piece.  The product, along with the steel wool that was needed to apply the liquid, was all but forgotten as we moved ahead with house renovations. 
Saturday evening, with our hardwood floors installed (but not completely as the transitions still haven't come in) we were moving furniture back into the living and dining room.  I mentioned to my husband how much I missed the old Formby’s kits that he used to use to restore our older pieces.  Hubby said we ought to try the product we had purchased at the antique store.  I was thinking that would be a waste of time since the last time we used it the results were not what I was hoping it would be but I kept my mouth shut. 
Hubby retrieved the can, shook it and applied a thin layer to one of my grandmother’s chests that I use to store linens.  The result was breathtaking!  As he went to get a rag to wipe off the excess, I grabbed the steel wool and went to work on an old secretary I used to house china.  Pleased with the results, I went on to give a quick touch up to the dining room table and chairs. 
We’re thinking the reason the product didn’t work the first time was because the stain didn’t match exactly.  Although the bedroom set is cherry, it is a light stain compared to the dining room furniture. We plan on purchasing another can with a lighter stain this weekend and try again on the bedroom set.   
After celebrating Easter with the family, I decided I really needed a larger china cabinet to safely display my husband’s maternal grandmother’s china so I surfed Craigslist and found a piece that would match what we had and best of all, it was in my price range and only a few miles from our home.  The bowed front china cabinet, circa 1940, was inherited by the original owner’s grandson who had no room for it.  Bought in Oklahoma, the piece was moved 4 times by the Army over the past few years. 
On Tuesday, we finalized the purchase and its travels; thankfully, it fit in hubby’s vehicle.  Our teenaged neighbors helped get it into the garage where I went at it with my new wonder product.  You can see the results above.
Hubby told me he was reluctant to make the purchase as there were dog scratches on the right side, some spots on the bottom were completely missing veneer and there were watermark rings on shelves.  He was also concerned about the wood swelling as it was housed in an unairconditioned high humidity drafty building that was about 100 years old, though we don't know how long it had been stored in those conditions.  In just two days of being in a climate controlled environment, the difficulty in opening the doors are no longer an issue. 
I’m glad to give our china and the cabinet a new home and I’m absolutely in love with Howard’s Restor-A-Finish.  The big box stores locally don't carry it so check around if you'd like to give your furniture a facelift.  I'm thrilled with the results.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Genealogy Throw Back Idea That Worked!

Image result for letter



I definitely went old school genealogy this week and like back in the day, it worked!  I'm still heavily researching my Duer lines and after meeting someone from Trumbull County, Ohio at a local genealogy meeting a few months ago, decided I should join from afar, the Trumbull County Chapter of the Ohio Genealogy Society.

On Tuesday I received the first newsletter in the mail and I was listed on the first page, along with other new members.  In the back of the newsletter was a list of surnames that members were researching.  No one was looking for Byrds and Duers but there were several who were researching Morrisons.

Now Morrison is way too common of a last name so I wasn't counting on finding much for John and Eleanor (Jackson) Morrison but leaving no stone unturned, promptly emailed two of the three individuals listed.  I'm going to have to go really primitive with the third person - no email address was provided but there was an address and a snail mail letter has to be sent.

I received email responses within hours and both were researching the same line!  Serendipitously, one individual lives very close to me and mentioned that she recognized my name as she has followed my online trees for some time.  It definitely is a small world!  The other individual was a descendant of my Jane Morrison's sister, Nancy, and she provided me information I previously did not have. I was not aware that Nancy had remarried after her first husband's death which explains why I did not have a death date for her.

I don't often blindly send emails anymore so I'm really glad I used this approach.  Give it a try!

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

More Genealogy Tips Based on Renovation Musings



If you've been following my Genealogy At Heart blog, you know that hubby and I have been in the "middle" of major home remodeling which we began the day after Thanksgiving.  When I say middle I really mean it - we're half way done.  Through this chaotic journey I've been able to apply quite a few lessons learned from the experience to genealogy which I wrote about a few weeks ago.

On Palm Sunday, our adult kids planned to come over and we were going to take a much needed respite from the renovations to attend a local art show.  To plan that in, we worked hard the previous day as we hoped that the hardwood floors would FINALLY be installed in the upcoming week.  For that to happen, we needed to finish prepping; we had some minor holes to fill in the concrete and to tile the entry stoop.

I'm a list person - I love to organize via writing and then cross out items when the task is complete.  I've used technology but for this major project, reverted back to a paper and pencil method.  It's quite motivating to cross out the completed items!  I do this with my genealogy, too.  Using Excel, I have a spreadsheet that lists the Who (surname), What (I'm going to accomplish - research, transcribe, analyse, etc.) When (the date I place it on my list), Why (the goal, either short or long term) and How (I brainstorm where I'm going to find the info or what I need to complete the task).  Some items have been on my list for a long time and others I can quickly accomplish.

Like genealogy, home maintenance doesn't end.  I don't put "clean up my work space" on my genealogy to do list just like I wouldn't place "mow the lawn" on my home renovation list.

Some items on my genealogy list may be much more difficult to accomplish than others.  I've been trying to locate the parents of my second great grandmother, Mary "Polly" Dennis for years and don't expect resolution tomorrow but who knows?!  Records show up in the most unexpected places.  Likewise, the hunt for a new door threshold (seriously - cannot find one anywhere that fits our front door!) has got to have a resolution quickly or my power bill will be astronomical.  Although there are other important tasks to work on, finding that threshold has to take precedence.  Which leads me to flexibility...

I'm not holding my breath that my floors will be installed this week.  When I called to verify that the floors were in, I was told the order was partially filled.  It's been nearly a month since we ordered and the company cannot explain why the entire order isn't ready.  I wasn't thrilled or surprised.  Like in genealogy, expect the unexpected.  If the company cannot provide the missing items we're going to have to look elsewhere.  Sure, it will take longer to finish but in the end, I sure will rejoice just like I do when I've found an elusive ancestor.

Because I'm paying as I go with the house renovation, my initial list only took us to the hardwood floor install.  I knew I had the funds to get to that point AND the house would be livable again.  So late Saturday after dinner, hubby and I went back to the list and I let him do the honors of crossing out all of his specifically assigned tasks that he accomplished that day.  All that was left for him was to grout the newly installed entry tiles.  It was time to make a new list for phase 2.  Although I'm looking forward to the day my home renovations are through, my genealogy to do list will never end and that's just fine with me!



Sunday, April 9, 2017

New Irish Records Finding Aid


Do you have Irish roots?  If so, you need to know about a wonderful document that was released last month.  The List of Church of Ireland Parish Register that was once an in-house document compiled by the Public Records Office of Ireland is now updated and available to the general public for free.

I especially love the "Comment" section, key and the color coding which makes finding what you need and where it's located easier.  This 96 page pdf may be just what you need to discover your Irish lines' baptism, marriage and burial records.  ádh mór!

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Our Ancestor's First Names

Image result for baby

I recently read an interesting article about trending baby names.  Supposedly, 36 baby names are endangered, meaning that they haven't been registered since January 1st of this year on a website for pregnant women.  Not that it means they are going extinct, mind you, but it does mean that families who frequent that particular website aren't planning on using names that many of us are familiar with.
Here's the list of names:
  • Angela
  • Bertram
  • Beverley
  • Cecil
  • Carol
  • Clarence
  • Clive
  • Cyril
  • Debra
  • Diane
  • Donna
  • Dean
  • Doris
  • Dennis
  • Derek
  • Duncan
  • Elaine
  • Ernest
  • Geoffrey
  • Horace
  • Joanne
  • Leonard
  • Maureen
  • Malcolm
  • Nigel
  • Neville
  • Paula
  • Roy
  • Sally
  • Sandra
  • Sharon
  • Sheila
  • Tracey
  • Wendy
  • Yvonne
  • Wayne
As a  baby boomer, I went to school with lots of Carols, Debras, Dianes, Maureens, Paulas, Sallys, and Sandras.  I have relatives named Joanne and Sharon.  I work with Angelas, Traceys and Wendys.  Dated a Wayne once - we won't go there.  Lived next door to a Beverly and Doris.  

From this data I have a hunch that millenials may not be using family names as was the custom on previous generations.  My mother is Dorothy because my grandmother's sister was Dorothy.  My aunt was aunt because that was her grandmother's name.  

I would be interesting to check the site for middle names.  In our family, often the father's first name becomes the son's middle name.  Maybe the names on the list above are being used that way.

You can read the article here.


Sunday, April 2, 2017

Musing About Life Lessons Learned That Apply to Genealogy




It's been a slow week genealogywise for me as I've been consumed with the house renovations and an increased workload at my educator job.  I thought I'd have difficulty coming up with a blog but instead I'm bursting with lessons learned from those situations that apply to genealogy.

With renovations, there is a lot of moving of "stuff" around as we empty one area of the house with the goal of making it an improved place.  It's a total pain to have to physically move items. I also realized I have a lot of things that I no longer use so I'm donating or pitching as I go (or pawning off on my children).  This got me thinking about genealogy practices...

I used to have alot of stuff I took with me when I researched; I carried my clunky laptop, notebook, charts, lots of pencils, a camera, phone, stickees, and thumbdrives.  It was a workout just getting into an archive.  I've streamlined considerably and find I can simply take my Kindle, phone, a mechanical pencil and stickees.  Instead of many thumbdrives that contained my surname info and individual thumbdrives for my clients, I now just take one for microfilms in case I can't email it to myself and use the ap on my phone,  Office Lens, to take a picture and immediately send it to One Note, for everything else I used to save to a thumbdrive.  I can view that from my phone and Kindle to make sure it looked the way I want before I leave so I never get home and realize I needed to get a better view.  Also on the Kindle is Evernote, which has my research log template.  I still carry the stickees to flag book pages I'm interested in.  These changes have made my research life much saner and safer.  I don't have to worry about someone walking off with the laptop if I have to go back to the stacks for another look. I have more flexibility in where I park myself down to research and I lost weight without having to diet.  Very cool!  Have no idea why it took me so long to figure out I needed to do this room by room in my house.

After a room is finished I find that I might be better off moving items around for increased efficiency.  For example, my drinking glasses used to be in a cabinet closest to the sink.  I realized it's a better idea to move them in the cabinet next to the refrigerator as that's where we go to get cold, purified water, ice and lemon.  This practice definitely applies to genealogy.  Just because you used to do something doesn't mean you should continue to do so.  Back in the day, I organized my genealogy files by lines.  As the data grew I found that it was too complex so I took the time to reorganize by surname.  A binder system works well for me today but may not in the future and that's ok!  Change is good although I must admit, as a creature of habit, I do tend to go back to the old cabinet to seek out a glass when I'm exhausted.  Habits may be difficult to break but can be done.  Investing time to make a task better is time well spent.  You may be in for a happy surprise, which gets me to my next lesson learned.




Ironically, last Wednesday I blogged about my recent Dropbox experience.  At my educator job, a decision was made right after I wrote the article that our team was going to only use One Note.  I spent all day Thursday and part of Friday dropping and dragging files from Dropbox to One Note.  Although I wasn't thrilled to have to readjust my work priorities during a busy time, the situation did give me a big Ahaa!  In Dropbox, I saved by event but in One Note, the decision was to save by date.  Same situation as moving my drinking glasses and reorganizing my genealogy files!  The data is the same but where and how it's stored is different.  So here's where I learned another lesson - looking at the older files was quite enlightening.  I was able to identify some holes in our program which we'll be discussing this week.  Try this with your brickwalls.  If your found records are in timeline order, shuffle them up and place them by type of record or location where they were made.  You might identify where your gap is and be off and running to locate overlooked events or places where they occurred.  It sure is the same stuff but my looking through a different lens you might make a new discovery.

In other words, you've got to change your practices up to move forward, even if it's painful.  Happy Hunting!