Saturday, February 27, 2016

Where Is Rootsweb?

If you've been searching for and can't figure out why you can't get on the site here's what's going on thanks to this article by the AncestryInsider for finding out and letting everyone know!

Hopefully they get thinks straightened out and back online very soon!

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Schuyler County Historical Society

Name: Schuyler County Historical Society
Address:  108 N Catherine St, Montour Falls, and NY 14865
Phone: (607) 535-9741

The Schuyler County Historical Society is located in the village of Montour Falls. It is an old brick tavern along one of the major streets, Route 14, and almost at the corner of Main Street. Pulling into their driveway, you find room for parking behind the house and enter from the rear. Actually, it is the oldest brick building in Schuyler County, having been built in 1828. It was also once a select school for boys, a boarding house and a private residence.  Exhibits and a desk for staff are in the wide hallway that was probably once a reception area of the home. Rooms off of it are a mixture of exhibits and the modern workings of a historical society tucked away in the far rooms. A small, but adequate front room houses the research area. Despite the busy street not far away, there is little noise except the whoosh of a heavy tractor-trailer occasionally.
When I visited there last summer, I was the only researcher that morning. I was allowed to browse through the books and files at my leisure after a brief over-view of the rules and where thing were. I spent about an hour pulling files and books looking for the information I was searching for somebody. When I had everything I needed, I brought the items I needed copying to the staff member (whose name I have now forgotten) and she very nicely made copies for me.
Although it is a rather small collection, there were many sources for cemetery and local newspapers that are not readily available elsewhere. For anybody with ancestors or an interest in this area, it is indeed a wonderful place to research!
Hours are:
January-April:      open 10am-4pm, Tuesday-Friday
May-December:   10am-4pm, Tues., Wed., Fri., and Thursday 1:30pm-7pm
July & August:  same as May-December but includes summer Saturdays, 11am-3pm
The Museum is closed Mondays and holidays.
Non-members are charged a research fee. It is $5 per hour, or you can join for $25. Copying costs a quarter; fifty cents if it is in color.
This is a typical small historical society that can be found in many places around New York State as well as other states. However, I would be remiss if I didn’t at least mention one thing that makes this society very special. It’s not what is here, but what is a short distance down the road. For family or friends you’re traveling with that aren’t interested in history or when you need a break, there is a spectacular diversion just a short distance away. Watkins Glen State Park is located in the nearby village of Watkins Glen. And I do mean in the village! Driving north on Route 14 through the main part of downtown, a glance to the left will locate not only the main entrance to the park, but a look up the beginning of the main gorge, visible right from the street!
Nearby is Glenwood Cemetery and I learned from the Schuyler County Historical Society’s website that Humphrey Bogart's grandparents are buried there! How’s that for small town famous?
One of the interesting things I came across here was the fact that there is a Backbone Ridge History Group. The Backbone Ridge is a small area between Seneca and Cayuga Lakes just north of Watkins Glen. I never heard of the name before, as it is a small area, and was very surprised that they had enough people interested in it’s history to form a group. What a treasure for the people of this area!

Monday, February 22, 2016


This week’s Saturday Challenge involves the neighbors:

1) Think about who your neighbors were when you were a child.  Where did you live?  Who lived next door or across the street?  

2)  Tell us a story about one or more of your neighbors.  If you want to keep them anonymous, just use first names.   Do some research if you need to recall names and years.

I grew up on an 87 acres farm along Owasco Lake, to the south, the nearest neighbor’s house was almost ¼ mile away and behind a hill from us, to the north, I could see the next house, the driveway of the one that was down in a field beside it and the barn of the farm just beyond. As I started thinking about the neighbors, I realized that I don’t really know who they were growing up. Sure, I could list them. I could probably list the names of every person that lived in these houses from the time I was a baby until I moved out. I could also list them for many others.
That is my problem- what is the definition of neighbors? At least in the time and place that I grew up, neighbors didn’t have a geographic definition. They weren’t people living in the houses that you could see or within a certain distance of you. It was more of a feeling. A we’re in this life together type of feeling. Neighbors were the people that lived somewhat near you that you knew and you knew they had your back.
I recall a winter day when I was in community college. My drive to school each morning was from the farm north to the end of our road, about eight miles away and on into the city of Auburn on Route 38A and to the local community college.  There was a patch of road about five miles from our house that ran through woods and for the last few days had been icy as the plows had missed in sanding it properly.
That morning I gingerly started through, but at about halfway, the ice caught me, spun my car and landed me hard into a snow bank just off the road. I was stuck. Getting out of the car, I walked back to the farm just before the woods. I debated whether to go to the house or the barn for help. A team of Belgians coming up through the yard gave me the answer—Mr. Collard was on the wagon and saw me walking down the road. He immediately came to find out what was the matter. He knew the spot, his son had done the same thing last night. He helped me up on the wagon and we rode back to where my car was stuck. While “his girls” pulled the car up on the road, a car coming from the opposite direction slowed to a stop. It was a couple from a mile down the road that taught at the elementary school in Moravia inquiring if I was all right.
Still shaken from my encounter with the ice, I stopped at my brother’s convenience store. Dad was, as usual, there helping out. What was not usual, he came right out to my car. I didn’t tell him what had happened. There was no need. Mr. Collard had called the highway department and had a fit about the ice on the road and then called Dad to tell him. The two teachers had done likewise as well. Moments after, a couple plow drivers from another town had been in the store and they all heard on their portable radio, the town highway supervisor getting yelled at by the county dispatch over my ditching and that I wasn’t the first one.
None of these people lived in close proximity to us. All were neighbors. In the country it’s impossible to draw a line on a map and say these are your neighbors.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Getting Started- Websites

For those that are just starting out doing genealogy, the best advice is always to start with yourself. Write down everything you know about your family and to ask the people around you, especially the older family members.

This is all good advice, but what about when you’ve done that? Where do you go to next? Online there are a number of good resources to help you, here are the five that I usually recommend people start with: This is pricey, but thanks to all their advertisements, is the very first place most people think of. Remember that often libraries have a subscription that you can use to access it for free in the library. Unlike many databases, you can’t get to it from home, but hey a library is a good place to go anyway!

2- Cyndi’s list []. Created and maintained by Cyndi Ingle since March 1996, is best described by her: “A comprehensive, categorized & cross-referenced list of links that point you to genealogical research sites online.” The website of the LDS church and the Family History Library (FHL), this website gives you access to many records for free online. Additionally, is there a film you want to request to your local Family History Center (FHC) or view when you’re lucky enough to get to Salt Lake City and the FHL? You can find the information here, including the film number you’ll need to pull it out of the drawer at the FHL or you can order a copy to be sent to the FHC. If you’re researching Upstate New York, you need this site. If you’re not, check it out anyway, you might still need it. This site contains digitized newspapers from all over the Upstate area. Increasingly there are many more from other areas as well. You never know what newspapers you’ll find here as they are periodically being added to. It has a quirky interface and the search engine isn’t always intuitive to work with, but it’s well worth it.

5- Maintained by Thomas MacEntee, this is a great site to find all kinds of blogs to read in whatever specialty area you might wish. Somebody is probably already researching the general area you want to learn about and can give you tips or direct you to more information. And yes, I still need to register this blog and get it listed on there!

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Valentine's Day

TheSaturday Challenge: 1) Recall a memory of a Valentine's Day in your life. Is it the first love of your life? A special day with your lover, spouse or significant other? Do you have a picture of a Valentine's Day event, or a special Valentine that you received, to share?

Valentine’s was never a big deal in my family growing up. Dad would usually buy a couple heart shape boxes of candy, a larger one for Mom and a small one for me.  As an adult it has been equally low-key.

Instead, I’m thinking back to a fall day a few years ago. My husband, then my boyfriend, wanted some help taking pictures of a gravestone in a local cemetery that morning. As he had, had a camera that he claimed to have possessed for many years, but never learned how to use, I was not surprised at this request.

We drove to the cemetery, Oakwood, in the south part of Syracuse, and meandered through some of the lanes. It is a rather large cemetery with roads that twist and turn over the uneven ground and covers many acres, so it is not unusual to need to take a few miss turns before getting to the grave you want. We had often wandered this cemetery before; in fact our first date was on a tour of famous graves that the Friends of the Cemetery group had put on.

We got out and I started taking pictures of the stone that had a bit of unusual writing on it. Rich, however, was looking kind of puzzled or bemused at the backside of the stone. Assuming there was more writing there, I walked around to the back. Sure enough, there was. I started centering the stone in my viewfinder to get a clear shot. That’s when I noticed a bright golden glint near the top of the stone.

Lowering the camera to look closer, I realized that wedged into the carving near the top of the stone was a kind of ring. I recognized it immediately. It was a ring that crafter’s use in various projects, such as to create a halo on an angel. Little girls like to use them when playing dress-up as well. Puzzled, I looked over to Rich to see him bending down on one knee!

Yes, how many other genealogists can say that they were proposed to in a cemetery? The ring I had noticed was one Rich had gotten from some of my Mom’s over abundant craft supplies that she had been cleaning out lately. He had planted it there early that morning for me to discover on our “photography expedition”.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Education Opportunities

For those that are looking for more educational opportunities, here are three onsite institutes to look into:

1-the Genealogical Institute of Pittsburgh (GRIPitt) registration opens today:
There are two different weeks of instruction on various courses in July.

2-A scholarship is available for GenFed. This is the week long institute in Washington D.C. on federal records.

3-Registration is still open for IGHR at Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama in June.
Three courses have wait lists, but the other courses are still available for registration. Also, this is the last year at Samford before moving to Athens, Georgia, so if you always wanted to visit this campus, now is the time!

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Four For Lent

Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent for Christians around the world. We often think of it as a season to give up something and to be denied. However, I think it is far better to substitute something good for a bad habit rather than just staying away from the bad. No matter what your religion, or if you have none, let’s take this season to look for better things as we await spring.

Looking towards you genealogy and your research, what can you improve upon? What would make you a better researcher or make your genealogy more complete?

-       Work on improving your citations

Are your citations in good shape? Do they conform to something that at least resembles one found in Evidence Explained? Or do they more resemble: “That red book on the third shelf from the left.” And “Aunt Mabel told me this once.”

I’m not saying they need to be perfect citations, although it’d be great if they were. We all should strive to get to that level. In the meantime, see if you can get them improved and learn to create at least a basic citation. What I do is find the type I need from Evidence Explained and copy a basic model of that onto a Word file that I call “Citation Cheat Sheet”. I have examples of the most common ones listed here and when I need to craft a citation, I use this as my model and start from there. That way I don’t have to memorize each part that I need or be constantly flipping through a large book to find it. The more you do them, the quicker you can be and the better they will look.

-       Clean up the locations that are in your database

What do your locations look like? Are they consistent or is the same place called several different names? Do you list the county that it is located in? What if they have changed name, county or state over the years? Or perhaps, all designations have changed!

Try to make sure each location is consistent with others listing the same place. If it has changed designation over the years, I will put the original in and in brackets list the current as of the year it changed.

-       Make a list of repositories to research at

Where might that elusive piece of information you’re searching for be? Is there a library or repository it might be at? Perhaps you can find it online in a database. No matter where it might be, go through your unsolved problems and think about where the answer might be. Write up a research plan for yourself in how to find it.
Don’t groan, it doesn’t have to be a formal plan at all. Take a piece of paper, write down your problem (that way we you go back to it, you’ll remember what you wanted to know), and then brainstorm where the answer might be. List records or places that it might be found in. If there are many, put them together in a logical order. Now when you get a chance, you’ve got an idea where to go and what to do! As I mentioned yesterday, I’m working on putting some of these together for days that are better to travel to various areas.  Soon it will be nice weather and we won’t be waking up to snow coming down like I did this morning. As I’m writing this, my car is having its annual inspection and an oil change so she’ll be ready to take off when the weather is!

-       Look into furthering your genealogy education

Is there something you need to learn more about? Why not take time now to create an education plan for yourself? No, not like going back to school, although if that’s something you want or need, now would be a great time to plan it!

Where can you learn what you want? There are many places, books, webinars, websites, and blogs are all quick and easy to get to. Maybe your local genealogy society has a meeting or conference that would be helpful. What about other societies nearby or in the area your ancestors were from? They have helpful information as well. Investigate their offerings and join if applicable. There are many conferences and institutes coming up in the spring and summer. Get registered and make your travel plans.

All of these ideas are designed to make you a better genealogical researcher. Some might not be much fun, but many of them are. It’s especially fun to plan a trip or get together with friends. So, why don’t you choose one or more of these ideas and resolve to improve during Lent instead of just taking something away!

Monday, February 8, 2016

Plotting and Planning

There’s always something about a conference that gets me energized and inspired to do more research. All the classes with new ideas, or reminders of old ones. Meeting people both old friends and new. Sometimes, it’s just a feeling of belonging that one gets from being in a group of like-minded people that reenergizes a person. Many of us doing genealogy are doing it alone. There aren’t many people around us that are interested in doing all the research or even care about who their family was. Most of the time, in my family if I merely mention genealogy, eyes will start glazing over. There are two or three people that enjoy it as well, but I don’t often get to spend time with those family members. So for me, it is the conferences and such gatherings where I find people of similar interest.

I was thinking about that inspiration this weekend as I was watching the postings on Facebook. There have been many postings regarding RootsTech this past week. I have seen information about lectures, pictures of people gathering for different social events, pictures of the vendor hall and reports of people at the Family History Library. Yesterday especially, there were many postings of people departing Salt Lake City for home. Meanwhile, I am at home busily working away on various projects. Somehow, though, I’ve caught some of the renewed enthusiasm from this conference. As an added bonus, I don’t have to unpack my suitcase or catch up on the laundry and such that people traveling need to, so I have a bit more energy to tackle all that genealogy!

Where to start? Here is an outline of what I want to tackle- what are your plans? Make a list for this month and next of things you want to get to before winter ends.

1-    Tackle the notebook of my uncle’s research into some of the Wooster family. (I need to see what he’s done and incorporate it into my own research)
2-    Finally finish scanning and organizing all the things he has given me over the past few months
3-    Plan what research I want to do at various repositories once the weather is a little better so I can plan trips to them.

Although this winter has certainly been a mild one here in Upstate New York, I have kept pretty close to home. It is unusual to have this little snow and so I have been leery to plan trips when I expect to wake up any morning to a blizzard. Therefore, I am working on planning out these trips for the spring and summer weather when it is a little easier and more predictable to travel. Let’s make this winter season productive as we organize and plan for future adventures!

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Groundhog's Day

In 1975 Groundhog’s Day fell on a Sunday. That seems weird, because I distinctly remember a speech about the holiday on a Saturday morning that year. It was a holiday always celebrated in my family when I was growing up, but not for what you might expect. That day just happened to be my father’s birthday.

It was cold and clear that morning. I could look up into the sky and see the stars. At least if I was away from the driveway, that is. . A very few flakes of snow were swirling around. The large floodlights on the end of the barn were lit as well as the light at the backdoor illuminating the driveway. It was perhaps 5:30 when the garage door went up and dad pulled the Chrysler Newport, bought around Christmastime, out and backed it up to the stall that was an addition onto the side of the garage. I helped him hook-up and soon he was pulling forward with the travel trailer emerging into the driveway. Mom came out with another load of stuff and into the trailer she went. I returned to helping her finish loading things into the camper. Bedding, clothes and such were already put away in the proceeding days, now we were mostly carting food and a few personal items out.

That’s when Dad made his speech to Mom and I, which went something, like this:

“Go use the bathroom, turn out the lights, make sure the doors are locked. Into the backseat kiddo. I don’t want any birthday presents or songs. Not a cake either. This Groundhog predicts spring-like weather in 3 days or less! I’m hell-bent for Florida and I don’t expect to stop until I see that welcome to Florida sign in my rearview mirror! Let’s hit the road!”

Arrived in Florida
We drove through Pennsylvania in snow and ice in some locations. I remember one steep incline where we creeped to the bottom along with several tractor-trailers. It was treacherous, but the farther south we went the better it got. By late afternoon we were over on Interstate 95 and headed through Richmond. I remember a campground in a place called Ashland, where there was a playground with the push type merry-go-round. I had so much fun on it that my head was still going in circles when I laid down to sleep that night.

Was it that night or maybe actually the next that Mom brought out her surprise after supper was ended. Stashed away was, not a cake, but a pie for Dad’s birthday. He always preferred pie to cake and she’d had her birthday just the week before, so that was his usual birthday treat.

The weather was warming and we stopped the next night in Florence, South Carolina. Something was wrong with the car and Dad was worried. But the owners of the KOA that we stayed at told him of the dealership there and he had the car at their service door as they opened the next morning. Whatever was wrong, was under warranty, and they had him out within an hour free of charge and we were on the road again. Dad talked about that for years, and though I don’t remember what was wrong, I do remember he wrote several letters to the dealership and Chrysler itself praising their work.

Me posing with goat at Alligator Alley
By mid-afternoon that day we were in Saint Augustine, Florida. Here we would stay for a few days and tour and relax. After all these years, I can’t remember how long we stayed or where we camped. However, over 3 weeks time, we saw Alligator Alley, Circus World, Disney World, Six Gun Territory, the Citrus Tower and probably a few other places. One campground, called Lake Maikai, had a swimming pool and it was warm enough that I went swimming in February. This campground was built in an old orange grove and we only had to go out behind the camper a few feet to pick fresh oranges! That campground was a favorite of mine for many years.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Genealogy Selfie Day

ConferenceKeeper and Geneabloggers have declared February 1st is Genealogy Selfie day on various Social Media, particularly Facebook. Since my photo already appears on Facebook, just a little outdated (maybe a year or two), I decided to publish my photo on here:

Sunday afternoon summer 1967

Wasn’t I cute? Okay, so as I’m the one in Dad’s arms it obviously wasn’t very recent. Neither is this one, but I just look so adorable I couldn’t resist!

Laundry Day Woes

I actually tried doing a couple selfies, but I hated how they came out. So, here is my recent non-selfie picture taken yesterday evening in my favorite research and writing spot, my couch:

I convinced my husband to take it of me. He usually concentrates all his photography efforts on fulfilling requests for Find A Grave. Otherwise I tend to be the photographer in the family but as we all know, I’m always forgetting to take pictures!