Showing posts from 2018

Interesting News on Lifespan

I read 2 articles this week (Thanks to the NEGHS Newsletter) that at first look appeared to be unrelated but as I processed the information, realized that they were indeed related.  The first, Life span has little to do with genes, analysis of large ancestry database shows by Sharon Begley clearly surprised me.  Not having a medical background, I assumed, wrongly it appears, that genes were a much stronger indicator to longevity.  The article is also interesting in that the data analyzed most likely included my people and yours, if you are an member.  I have no problem with my tree info being shared for research purposes but if you do, and you didn't take the time to read the disclaimers when you were signing up, you need to be aware that your information is being used by third parties.
The second article, She was like a second mother': the German woman who saved our Jewish family history by Simon Finch drove home to me how fortunate my family has been in leaving…

Using an Index to Find What I Didn't Know Existed

Genealogist purists do not like using indexes.  I 'm glad I'm not a purist as I recently found an interesting record by accident while using an index.

Monthly, I get an email from with updates about the site.  I always check out the section that lists the newly available online records. I find this especially important since the organization has stopped mailing microfilm to be viewed locally and a trip to Salt Lake City doesn't seem to be in my immediate future so I need to keep checking to see when records of interest to me are available online.

One of the new links was to Ohio Wills and Estates to 1850:  An Index  by Carol Willsey Bell.  I have many Ohio settlers from the early 1800's and I wanted to use the index to make sure I didn't overlook a probate record.

I understand the danger of simply citing an index as there might have been an error in recording the information.  Personally, I view indexes like Ancestry hints.  I might get lucky and …

In Honor of Veteran's Day

Today, the world remembers the end of World War I.  Although no veterans or civilians are with us to recall the atrocities, the record of their experiences lives on through letters, diaries and recordings.  I am in possession of a collection of letters and wanted to mark the 100th anniversary today by sharing one with you.
With the United States Congress declaring war on Germany on April 6, 1917, 2.8 million American men were soon to be drafted to serve in what was then called “The Great War.”Hoosier born George Bryant Harbaugh, a 22-year-old Deputy Sheriff with the Elgin, Joliet & Eastern Railway in Gary, Lake County, Indiana, was sent to Camp Taylor, Kentucky for basic training.Army Private George left behind his sweetheart, Elsie Wilhelmina Johnson, a 21-year-old Mother’s Helper living in Miller, (now Gary), Indiana.
Elsie saved every letter and postcard received from George.Only 3 letters from Elsie to George survive. The following is a scan and transcript of the letter detaili…

Haunted Rose Cemetery

I actually planned on writing about an awesome find by using an index that happened to me while I was researching last weekend but an event just occurred that I must get out of my mind.

On this beautiful cool fall morning, a World War 1 Centennial Commemoration service was scheduled at Rose Cemetery in Tarpon Springs, Florida.  I typically don't attend these types of ceremonies because my schedule doesn't allow it but I got an email message from a neighborhood list that I'm a member of Thursday afternoon apologizing for the late notice and something just made me want to go.  I'm not sure if it was because it was an Eagle Scout dedication for installation of a memorial stone and flag pole that piqued my interest since my children had achieved both Eagle and Gold Award in the past.  Earning those recognitions are a major accomplishment for a busy teen and I well remember all the work that was involved.  I've been working on a book about my husband's grandfather …

A Creepy Weird Family Story

Every October I like to blog about a family story passed down to me that I consider spooky.  The odd thing about the story I'm about to tell is that I can find NO DOCUMENTATION to support the facts.  Zero - Nada - Zilch!  Since this occurred in my lifetime I find the lack of proof frustrating and a little strange.  You'll see why at the end of the tale.

I come from a large extended family on my maternal side.  My grandmother, Mary Kos Koss, was the family matriarch who loved to entertain which greatly contributed to people keeping in close contact with each other.  After her death on 5 Jun 1985, the relatives, for the most part, lost touch with each other.  I witnessed the retelling of this story in the presence of my mother and grandmother from the individual it happened to and they are all now deceased. One of my aunts also had knowledge of  the event, along with two of my cousins.  My aunt is deceased and I have lost touch with my two cousins. 

Here's what I recall...

Volunteer at a Family History Day

Yesterday was a beautiful crisp fall day (okay, that would be by Florida standards) and our county genealogy society's semi-annual community help day.  Ten of us volunteered to assist and we were busy for 6 hours with no break.  That's awesome!  Clearly there is a growing interest in genealogy and I met several people who shared delightful stories of their family and had burning questions needing answers.
If you contemplated becoming a volunteer at a genealogical event but feared you couldn't because you weren't a professional genealogist you're sadly mistaken. That old saying "Two heads are better than one" is a classic example of why you would be helpful.  Here's some tips for first time volunteers:
Be prepared as time is limited.  I always arrive early so my work area is ready.  My society furnishes plenty of extension cords but yours may not.  I bring my research baggie (see Research Tips), laptop with power cord, Kindle, and pad of paper.  Make s…

Ancestry Ghost Hints

It's October and my surroundings are beginning to look creepy with Halloween quickly approaching.  One thing that greatly disturbs me more than the skeletons and witches on every corner is my ghost hints.
If you aren't sure what I'm talking about, a ghost hint is the term used for those pesky hints that were once available and no longer are.  There are several reasons for their occurrence - an individual may have uploaded media and then removed it or made it private or Ancestry may have discontinued the database for the hint.
Every so often I go through the hints as sometimes I miss a new database that Ancestry has added and the hints can give me some information I may have missed.  The ghost hints, though, remain and give a false number of the hints that are available.  I've clipped below the grayed out hints that appear on my All Hints page:
As you can see above, there are 7 and all of them are records.  When I look at the hint counter, however, it shows…

Why Sharing Your DNA is Important

There has been much controversy lately regarding law enforcement's use of DNA results from public sites to solve crimes.  I've even had a Client who requested the removal of results due to media coverage.  Here's my top five reasons to keep your DNA public:

You're reconnecting with close family that may hold the key you otherwise wouldn't ever uncoverYou've gained collaborators who care about the line you're interested in learning more aboutYou gain health information that you otherwise wouldn't obtain so you can make better lifestyle changes, if needed, to enhance your quality of lifeBy sharing your information, you're being altruistic in helping othersYou're leaving a footprint for future genealogists I understand the cons.  No one likes to snitch on family but the real truth is that withholding your DNA results is not going to alter people who make poor choices need to make restitution for their actions.  The serial killers who have recently …

Lineage Society Application Tips

Most of my client work this past summer has been for assistance in joining a lineage society. The reasons for the interest varied; one elderly gentleman wanted to give memberships to grandchildren as holiday gifts, several had affiliating with an organization on their bucket list and decided the time was right to pursue membership, and a few wanted to memorialize an ancestor.

In most of the cases of the clients who contacted me, they didn't need much help.  They actually didn't need me at all which I told them.  Joining a lineage society is not difficult although some have more stringent requirements than others in validating the provided evidence. 

If you're thinking of joining, you will first need to establish a relationship from yourself to the ancestor who would qualify for the society.  That means, proving you're connected to your parent and your parent is connected to your grandparent and so on until you reach the qualifying ancestor.  For most people, obtaining…

Add Death Cleaning to Your Genealogical Toolbox

I'm sure my faithful readers are wondering why my posts have been scant lately.  The summer has just been a whirlwind!  Travel, family stuff and work have kept me away from this blog.  I'm happy to report that the past month I've been doing my own version of Swedish death cleaning. 
If you aren't sure you know what that is, check out this older NBC article.  I'm not planning on dying any time soon but the opportunity presented itself (pre death as an opportunity, hmmm) for me to unload many family treasures that have been held on to for generations and pass them along to a younger family member that is interested in them.  Hoorray! 
It's a mixed blessing seeing these items go.  Holding the old recipes cards of long deceased female family members in my hand always stirred in me that connection of past to present as I prepared a much loved family dish.  I'll miss that but I'm happy to know that not only the past and present are at play with this decision…

A Loss for Tampa Bay

The John F. Germany Public Library in Tampa, Florida holds one of the largest genealogical collections in the southeast United States.  I visit often and have always found the staff to be professional and helpful.  Last month, my visit there saddened me.
I planned to drop off some donated books and as it was thundering, decided to park in the adjoining parking garage.  It was mid-day and the lot was just about filled.  I thought I was lucky to find one of the few remaining spots on the top floor.  I took the elevator to the tube that joins the garage with the library.  When I approached the library doors I was shocked to find them boarded up.  I guessed that the facility was being renovated.  I walked a level down and then half way around the block to enter from the front.  Stopping at the information desk, I asked for the acquisition clerk who was expecting me.  "I'll have to take you up because the elevator needs a key for that floor," was the response.  I thought tha…

The U.S. - A Nation of Immigrants

Although my family lore claimed I had Native American blood, DNA has proven that the legend was not true.  I seldom (well, have never) written about current political issues as that is not the point of my blog.  That changes today.

If you reside in the United States, you have an ancestor who once emigrated here.  You're probably also a mutt like me - that great melting pot permitting people to marry due to love and not by ethnicity alone has created a wonderful mix of blended cultures, customs and genetics.

I'm blessed that my family has been here awhile.  My most recent immigrants were my maternal grandparents, John and Mary Kos[s] who naturalized in the 1940's.  My grandmother visited the Old Country nearly 50 years after she had emigrated here with her parents and was so thankful they had made the difficult journey in her childhood, she promptly kissed the soil when she arrived back in the states.  My grandfather had no desire to return, even for a short visit.


Free Genealogy Resources

Image has kept their promise and is continuing to work on restoring, which they now own.  Recently, an updated Rootsweb Wiki has become available and it's free!

Rootsweb is one of the original Wikis - places on the web that allows for collaboration in editing and structuring revolving around genealogy.  Back in the day, say circa 1999, I had several trees posted there and I reached out for help via the Message Boards.  I was rewarded with lots of suggestions, hints and occasionally, a tidbit of a genealogy gem that propelled me forward.

In its present form, links are provided to pages that provide important information about the  records  (Censuses, Immigration, Military, Vitals, Various Types), Societies, and Research (Town, County, State, African American, Jewish).   It's a wonderful place to gain an Ah ha moment and might just explain why you can't find Great Grandpa Ed in the 1900 U.S. Federal census. 

Two additional resources that are extremely v…

Another Duer Synchronicity

The universe has made some odd Duer connections for me lately and I just have to share!

For my new readers, I've been enamored with my Duer lines for the past several years after I received an out of the blue email from a Duer genealogist who informed me I had wrongly recorded the surname as Dure in my tree.  Edgar sent me an electronic version of his work which went back generations and within two weeks, he died.  The good news was that he got the information out before he passed; the bad news was I could never ask him questions or collaborate on further research with him.  The odd thing about that email was that it did not go through Ancestry but Edgar had somehow gotten my personal email.  I never learned how he tracked me down.  It also was received at a time I was extremely busy with family matters that strengthened the Duer connection.

The weirdest occurrence at the time I received the information was to discover one of my children had followed the same path as…

Another Family Story Shattered!

You know the feeling when you discover a long held belief isn't what you thought?!  Shocked, Saddened, Denying it, Attempting to disprove the new information - yep, those stages of grief.  But learning the truth is important and I know it can change my genealogy sleuthing to find what I really need to get a better understanding of the family.
I've written previously about one of my husband's great grandmothers, Mary "Mollie" O'Brien, who with her purported half sibling, ventured to New York City during the height of the Potato Famine from Ireland.   Cousins and I have surmised that Mollie and her sister must have been orphaned as Irish church and civil records show no trace of her parents after her Baptism in Limerick.  This would explain why she set out for a new life in a new land. Mollie worked as a maid in New York City and it was there she met Scotts immigrant, John Cook.  After a brief courtship, the couple "eloped" via Newark, New Jersey whe…

Hunting Down a Harbaugh

I was catching up on my reading last week when I came across an article in the May 2018 Smithsonian magazine mentioning a George Harbaugh, an oil magnate from Cleveland who was involved in an automobile accident with a streetcar in 1913.  This led to an engineer, James Hoge, inventing traffic lights.
Now when you do genealogy for awhile and you're reading for pleasure, surnames are certain to pop up from time to time and you just lose the drift of the story to think, "How is that person related to me?"  or  "Do I have that individual in my tree?"  I have entered every Harbaugh that I'm aware of in my Main Tree on and so I decided to try to hunt down this George Harbaugh and attach the citation.
I thought this would be a quickie find but it took a few minutes longer than I anticipated.  My first problem was that I have 132 George Harbaughs in my tree.  I tried to eliminate by location and death dates but it was still a lot to go …

Be Mindful of Address Changes

On the plane returning home from New Mexico, I sat next to a woman who had traced her paternal grandfather's side back to the 1200's in a Spanish village thanks to the church records and her ability to decipher old handwriting.  She mentioned that she had found several deeds belonging to her great grandparents but could not locate the residences as the numbering system had changed in the past 100 years.  Lucky for her, she met an elderly man who remembered the family and understood the new address system so she was able to identify where her grandfather and great grandfather were born. Taking into account address changes is an important point to remember as what you're looking at might not be what you think it was.

There are two websites available to help with situations like this. is a site using Google Street View with uploaded photos of what the area looked like from previous time periods.  You can assist this project by uploading old photos you may h…

Deciphering Directions and Finding Places from the Past

Last week when I was in Santa Fe, New Mexico and had a dickens of a time locating the Oldest House that I blogged about on Tuesday.  According to the map and online guides, the Oldest House was said to be NEXT TO the Church.  All I saw next to the Church was a pizza restaurant.
The church was locked so I tried to follow the sign on the government building next door that said "Visitor Info."  The sign had an arrow directing visitors to enter on the east or south entrance.  I walked down the street in the direction the sign had pointed.  There was no entrance on the street side so I suppose it was the  north or west side.  I turned at the intersection and again saw no entrance.  Okay, I was certain to find the way in when I reached the back.  I walked the entire length of the back side and still found no entrance.  Turning left, I finally located the door.  So what the sign meant was that there was one entrance and it was on the south east side. 
I asked the attendant for dir…