Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Almost Wordless Wedneday-June 28th

Mom said yesterday that it was as hot and humid as it was on June 28th in 1944. So, here are some pictures as to why she remembers that day so vividly. Happy Birthday to my oldest brother, James G. Ward.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Find My Past Announces Another Free Weekend Focusing on Migration & Naturalization

An announcement from Find My Past. There is free access to records over the holiday weekend. 

Findmypast celebrates 4 th of July with free access to more than 1 billion records

  • From June 29th until July 6th 2016, over 1 billion UK, US and Irish records will be completely free to search and explore on Findmypast
  • This includes all 118 million “Travel and Migration” records, 116 million US marriages, and all UK, Irish
  • Over 7 million new US Naturalisation records and over 1.7 million US Passport Applications have also been released, marking the first phase of two brand new collections ideal for uncovering early
Salt Lake City, Utah, June 27 th 2016

Leading family history website, Findmypast, has just announced that they will be granting 8 days of  free access to over 1 billion records as part of a new campaign designed to help US family historians 
learn more about their family's path to red white and blue. This will include free access to their entire collection of Travel and Migration records, all US, UK and Irish censuses and all US marriage records.

The campaign has been launched to coincide with this year’s 4th of July celebrations and will provide customers with exciting new opportunities to uncover the pioneering immigrant ancestors who started their family’s American story.

Researchers will be provided with daily getting started guides, expert insights and useful how to  videos designed to help them trace their family’s roots back to their earliest American ancestors and beyond. A special webinar will be hosted by expert genealogist, Jen Baldwin, at 11:00 MDT,  July 1st, in which she will be sharing essential tips and tricks for getting the most out of  Naturalisation records.

The campaign also coincides with the release of two new record sets that will prove incredibly useful  to those looking to explore their family’s pre-American roots. Over 2 million US Passport Applications & Indexes (1795-1925), and over 7 million US Naturalisation Petitions have just been released in the initial phases of two brand new collections that will allow family historians to learn more about the first members of their family to become US citizens.

Over 1.1 billion records will be free to search and explore on Findmypast from June 29th until July 6th 2016. This will include free access to:
  • Over 106,000 US passenger list records
  • Over 116,000,000 US marriage records
  • Over 690,000,000 US & Canada census records
  • Over 265,000,000 UK & Irish census records
  • Over 10 million new and existing Naturalisation records
  • Over 1.7 million brand new US Passport applications
  • Passenger Lists Leaving UK 1890-1960
  • Over 827,000 convict transportation records
This vast collection of travel and migration records coupled with unique UK, Irish and US data, makes Findmypast the best place for tracing ancestors back across the Atlantic and uncovering their English, Welsh, Irish or Scottish roots. Findmypast is home to more than 78 million exclusive UK parish baptisms, banns, marriages and burials, the largest collection of Irish records available online (totalling more than 110 million), and over 100 million United States marriages including millions of records that can’t be found anywhere else online.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Institutes vs. Conferences

Samford University

I’m still working on recovering from last week and the IGHR institute. A long trip down and back- it takes almost 2 full days of driving each way, but is well worth it. Then there are all the little things at home that were neglected for a little over a week. But things are starting to slide back into place and return to normal around here.

In talking with a couple different people in the last week, I’ve realized that many don’t know what the difference is between an institute and a conference. There may be differences in other disciplines, but I suspect that for most endeavors there are two different types of gatherings that are very similar. They might go by different names and they might have a little different slant on education, but there are more similarities than differences. These are institutes and conferences.

A quick and easy way to explain the difference is to think of food, or more specifically two types of meals. One is a multi-course meal where everything is planned out and goes together, the other is a huge buffet with all different types of food from various cuisines that you can pick whatever you want in whatever combination fits your whim. The first is an institute and the second is a conference.

Thus when you attend an institute you choose one class or track of study. During the institute, which usually lasts about a week, you attend classes in this one area of study with the same group of people. There are usually either one or two coordinators that oversee the entire week. However, many different people are likely to present to you on topics surrounding that one area that you’ve chosen to learn about. All of these presentations are planned out to give you a good background in this area. It is much like a course you might take in college in this aspect, although there are usually no papers due or big final at the end.
Legal Research Class @ IGHR

At a conference on the other hand, you can pick and choose from a wide variety of topics. Although there are usually tracks available on one area that you could attend, many people will attend only one or two in a given area and others in various other areas. A conference also tends to last for anywhere between two and four days. You will see some of the same people in the audience at various presentations, but many will change from one presentation to another. Everybody goes their own way and hears a wide variety of speakers on a wide variety of topics.

Which one is better? Well, it depends. I enjoy attending both, but for different reasons. A conference is a good chance to learn a little about many things. Mostly, however, I enjoy going to the vendor hall and networking with like-minded people. At an institute, I feel I learn a lot more. There is more emphasis on learning and many of the courses are designed to build upon skills as the week goes by. Although there is often a book vendor there, you won’t find a vendor hall at an institute. Networking is also different in that you’re with the same people throughout the week and so get to know them better than the chance meetings for a few moments at a conference. One is in-depth within a narrow area while the other is shallow and wide with the information.

I guess to return to our food comparisons, it is like chocolate and vanilla ice cream. Both are delicious, but for different reasons!

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Family Search Upgrade- off line on Monday

In case you haven't heard the news: if you want to do some work on Family Search, don't plan on doing it Monday! Starting on Monday at midnight Mountain time- that's 2 am for those on the east coast, Family Search will go dark for a time. They expect to be back either by or before Tuesday morning. However, you know how those problems creep into things, so try to get in any research that is time crucial before they start their technical upgrade.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Saturday Challege- Daddy

1)  Sunday, 19 June, is Father's Day.  Let's celebrate by writing a blog post about our father, or another significant male ancestor (e.g., a grandfather).

Gordon J. Ward

 I found it hard to focus on one aspect of my father to write about. My thoughts were too scattered, especially as I try to get everything back together after a week away from home and many hours on the road. Even though he wasn't interested in genealogy, Dad would have liked the road trip aspect of our vacation. Last year and this, while on our trip to Alabama, I did something that he had once talked about doing. We had often been to the northern terminus of I-81 where it crosses into Canada north of Watertown, However, Dad had the ambition of getting from one end to the other of it someday. Someday, he wanted to reach the southern end of I-81 in Dandridge, TN. I was thinking of him Friday evening when we swung off I-40 and onto the start of I-81. 

Somewhere on Facebook, and I don't even remember now who posted this, there was a series of questions to fill in about Dad. Here are my answers. Some things would be obviously different if my brothers were to answer them as different tv shows were on when they were kids and time had passed with changes in tastes, but I would guess many of these would be fairly consistent across the years. 

1. He is sitting in front of the tv, what is he watching? M*A*S*H, any sit-com, sports
2. You are out to eat, what kind of dressing does he get? French
3. Name a food he hates: mushrooms
4. You go out to eat and have a drink, what would he order? Meat and potatoes type entrée with a diet soda
5. Favorite kind of music? 70’s era country
6. What is his nickname for you? Susie Q, Sukey Wukey
7. If he could collect one thing, what would it be? Fun times; he didn’t really collect any physical items
8. What would he eat every day if he could? Hamburg (or other beef), mashed potatoes, ice cream or pie for dessert
9. What is his favorite cereal? Corn Flakes
10. What would he never wear? A short-sleeve shirt (after he had been burned severely anyway)
11. What is his favorite sports team? Yankees
12. What is something you do he wishes you wouldn't? Get upset/cry easily- I show emotions very easily
13. You bake him a cake for his birthday, what kind is it? Any would have been fine, but he’d prefer a pie.
14. Favorite sport? Baseball/softball for actual sport. He really enjoyed walking/short hikes though.
15. What could he spend all day doing? Sitting in a campground, relaxing, reading a newspaper- Enquirer was a favorite- and people watching or chatting with anybody that came by
16. What is something he does consistently? Loved to have fun. No matter what the job was, he tried to make it fun in some way. I remember working in the convenience store that my brother co-owned with him. We had to clean all the shelves where canned goods and such were. A long tedious job, well, he’d have 2 of us compete to see who could get a length done the fastest (while of course actually cleaning it) and then give a prize to the winner. A can of soda or a bag of chips or something. Of course, the looser would probably get the same prize, but it was just to create some fun so it didn’t seem as bad a task.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Goodbye Samford! Hello Athens!

Today is the last day at IGHR and the last day that it is held at Samford University outside of Birmingham, Alabama. It has been a whirlwind week of learning and having fun with fellow genealogists. As I overheard someone say, “It is great being amongst our tribe.” Imagine a university campus filled with various people, but most importantly, a large group of fellow genealogists! A group or tribe, that their eyes don’t glaze over when you start talking about family history and what you have found! It is indeed a summer camp for genealogists.

Elizabeth Crabtree Wells
Elizabeth Crabtree Wells did a wonderful presentation at the banquet last night about the history of IGHR and the people involved over the years. Many important names of the past and present were mentioned. By the time the speakers were finished there wasn’t a dry eye in the house as people said goodbye to a long tradition and hello to a new location that will be IGHR next year in Athens, Georgia.

My class is given an additional treat this morning as Liz is giving us a presentation about state, county and local archives. She has been a librarian here at Samford University in the Special Collections department for 38 years before her recent retirement, so you can just imagine what a wealth of information she is!

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Samford- Scholarship Winners

My husband and I are here at IGHR (Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research) for it’s last year at Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama before it moves next year to the Georgia Center for Continuing Education in Athens, Georgia. We are having a great time despite it being super hot and humid.. I am taking Course 9- Advanced Library Research: Law Libraries and Government documents. Rich is taking Course 3- Advanced Methodology & Evidence Analysis.

IGHR Announced the 2016 scholarship winners in this morning’s daily bulletin.

Jo Ellen McKillop Dickie won the Jean Thomason Scholarship.
Jo Ellen is a Reference Librarian at the The Newberry Library in Chicago, Illinois. She started doing genealogy about twenty years ago when she started working at the Newberry Library working with the Pullman Company Archives.
The scholarship is named for and in honor of Jean Thomason, who directed the Institute from 1997 to 2007. The scholarship, which covers the cost of tuition, is awarded annually and is open to anyone currently employed at a library.
There is also the Birdie Monk Holsclaw Scholarship.

The winner is a former librarian with Syracuse University Law Library. She has been doing genealogy since a high school assignment got her started a little over thirty years ago.

The scholarship is named for and in honor of Birdie Monk Holsclaw who for many years attended IGHR and was also a frequent IGHR lecturer. It also covers the cost of tuition. For more on Birdie and the scholarship, visit

Congratulations to the winners!

Oh, wait who won that second scholarship? I haven’t been able to officially say anything about it since December-- but yes that awardee is the one behind this keyboard. Congratulations to my fellow winner, it’s an honor to be with you!

Monday, June 13, 2016

Numbers- Saturday Challenge

Your mission this week from Randy Seaver, should you decide to accept it, is to:

1)  If you have your family tree research in a Genealogy Management Program (GMP), whether a computer software program or an online family tree, figure out how to find how many persons, places, sources, etc. are in your database (hint:  the Help button is your friend!)

2)  Tell us which GMP you use, and how many persons, places, sources, etc. are in your database(s) today in a blog post of your own, in a comment to this blog post, or in a Facebook status or Google+ stream comment.

There are over 100,000 people in my database. Well over. I use the database program to store research in progress. I also collect any and all collateral that I come across that I can easily throw in there for future reference or research.

The database shows 1809 places listed. Some of them aren’t actually places, but rather phrases that have been plopped into that space. A frequent one is “young” for a person that we don’t know when they died, but that it was as a youngster. Occasionally a marriage has a designation of what number of marriage is for that couple- whether second wife or third husband or such.

Sources total 1674 of which three quarters is probably decent sources. Others are temporary sources that either haven’t been properly wrote up yet or they are rather generic, such as “found on an Ancestry database, needs verification.” These latter ones are definitely a work in progress.

Glad this is short! My morning class is about to start! 

I'm in the library next door learning about legal resources!

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Wordless Wednesday- Erie Canal Village Rome

From over ten years ago, it closed shortly thereafter.


If you're looking for some Civil War fun, hop over to the New York History blog to read about Peterboro. Every year they have a weekend in June that is everything Civil War. The 12th US Co A Infantry will set up encampment as usual on the village Green. All are welcome with a $8 admission charge. This is a fun weekend of reenactment that isn't far away if you live in the Syracuse area.

Details about the weekend can be found here:

Monday, June 6, 2016

I’ve got a mule and her name is Sal

“I’ve got a mule and her name is Sal,
Fifteen miles on the Erie Canal…”

This is the opening lines of a popular folk song about the canal that ran across New York State from well, as the song goes: Al-Bany to Buf- a –low.

363 miles long with 36 locks, it opened in 1825, was enlarged 1834 and 1862. Finally it became the New York State Barge Canal in 1918. Boring facts. But what about the life of the people who lived along the canal and hauled those barges back and forth? That is the interesting stuff. Fortunately, for those that would like to learn more about it, many people wrote about canal life.

Although fictional there are a number of books that tell the stories of what it was like living near and on the Erie Canal. Here is a sampling of some of the classic books:

Adult Reading Level Books:

The Boyds of Black River: A Family Chronicle by Walter D. Edmonds.
            The Black River was also part of a canal that fed off of the Erie.

Canal Town by Samuel Hopkins Adams

Mostly Canallers by Walter D. Edmonds

Rome Haul by Walter D. Edmonds

Grandfather Stories by Samuel Hopkins Adams
Not about the canal itself, this tells about Adams growing up in Auburn and Rochester. His grandfather who lived in Rochester was involved with the canal.

Young Adult Books

The Erie Canal by Samuel Hopkins Adams

The Treasure in The Trunk by Helen Fuller Orton

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Greatest Find May 2016- Saturday Challenge

Randy Seaver is away this week, but he sent the following challenge to us in his Genea Musings blog:
For this week's mission (should you decide to accept it), I challenge you to:

1)  I am away at the SCGS Genealogy Jamboree this weekend, having too much fun (I hope!).

2)  What was your best genealogy "research find" in May 2016?  It could be a record, it could be a photograph, etc.  Whatever you judge to be your "best."

Most of my work in May has been collecting information from some published sources and getting them arranged properly in my database along with a little bit of work with documenting gravestones on Find A Grave.

While at the New York State Library in Albany at the first of the month, I did look in one book, which gave me no information on my family. However, one line from that book might have been the greatest find for me. Published by a historical society that has done much research in the area (part of Columbia County, New York), their opinion of the records helps support conclusions I have come to:

“Very few descendants of the early settlers are still found in the area and because of the loss of early records it is impossible to tell where they lived…” [1]
Page 70
One of those apparent early settlers is a man named Ebenezer Wooster and his family. This quote offers up a good explanation of why we can find him in early census records and little else in the area. Other mentions of early settlers on this page state they came from Milford, Connecticut. Ebenezer came from one side or the other of the Housatonic River, having appeared in both the towns of Milford and Stratford.

It is just a few lines on one page of a book and they don’t even mention my family’s name. However, this further supports some theories that I have been developing on the family and helps complete the explanation of lack of records on them. Therefore, it is probably the greatest find of May 2016 for me.

[1] Roeliff Jansen Historical Society, A history of the Roeliff Jansen area : Ancram-Copake-Gallatin-Hillsdale, Columbia County, New York, ([Place of publication not identified] : Roeliff Jansen Historical Society, 1975.), p. 70.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Alabama's On My Mind

The state of Alabama is once again on my mind. Those that have been reading this blog since the beginning may remember my earlier post "Of Magnolias and Education". My concluding sentences from that post were: "Was that drive south in June worth it? Well, let’s just say I’m hoping that come next June, my car will once again be pointing towards Alabama"

By The original uploader was Lissoy at English Wikipedia - Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons by Spyder_Monkey using CommonsHelper., CC BY-SA 3.0,
The car was at the dealer's this week and had an oil change and a quick once over. The maps are printed- we're old-fashioned and don't own a GPS. I registered this morning for the ProGen get together on Sunday evening. The neighbors have been told we'll be gone. The bags just need to be packed and then a week from tomorrow the car once again points south!

This year I will be taking Advanced Library Research: Law Libraries and Government Documents and Rich will be taking Advanced Methodology and Evidence Analysis. Despite my years working in a law library, I have had little chance to do actual research in legal records. So, this coming week I will be trying to make sure I know what I'm doing with legal records and that I have the proper terminology down pat. Wish me luck!

This will be the last year that IGHR is at Samford University, but if you haven't registered don't fear you've missed your chance. Next year it will move to The Georgia Center’s UGA Hotel & Conference Center July 23-28, 2017.

So, stay tuned. Posts may be a bit short and distracted over the next couple weeks, but they will appear and there will be at least one update during IGHR itself!


Wednesday, June 1, 2016

New York State Databases- Free!

Here's another of those free promotional offers. They seem to be a lot of them lately!
Boston, home town of the NEHGS

For the month of June, American Ancestors-- that's the New England Historical Genealogical Society's website-- is offering anybody that doesn't already belong a chance to register for free and access their databases pertaining to New York information.

NEHGS has been expanding into New York research in recent years. It makes sense as many of the early settlers in New York came from New England. Many of their researchers are well versed in New York state research and their holdings are getting larger and larger.

If you don't already belong, but have some New York State ancestors, this would be a good chance to sample some of their offerings!