Friday, July 29, 2016

Researching In Moments

A stolen moment somewhere in Virginia
How do you do research when you only have moments here and there to work on it? The same way you do any research, with a plan. However, when you’re working in small increments of time here and there, it is even more important to have that plan in place. Oh, I hear many of you groaning, “I can’t do a Research Plan like the professionals do!” “And I don’t have much time, I can’t stop and write out a research plan like that!”

Let’s get one thing straight in the beginning. Your plan doesn’t need to be anything formal. Who is this plan for? Well, you, of course! Perhaps you’ll want to share it with another person or two that is also researching the same family or area. That’s the very first step done already, you’ve determined who it is for. Now that you know that, you can make it as formal or informal as you would like. You can make it simple or complicated. It doesn’t matter as long as you and anyone else that needs to can read and understand it.

For a basic plan of my own, I like to start with 2 basic elements. First I write down what I’m looking for. It doesn’t have to be anything elaborate, just the basic question and some information so that I can see at a glance what it’s about and any details I already have that would help me in my search. One or two sentences are usually enough and they’re not always complete sentences at that. Instead, they’re just little reminders to myself. It’s especially helpful if I have multiple plans around and need to know quickly which this one is for!

The second element looks something like my grocery list. It is mainly just a list of places that I want to look for information. No explanation is necessary unless it is something like this: XYZ Church Records (find Sally’s baptism date; Dad was likely buried from there about same time). This would remind me that there are two facts to be keeping my eye out for in that source. Very simple.

This list within the plan serves two purposes. First, it gives you a place to dump out all the ideas that are coming into your brain faster than you can research them. Second, when you come back to the search after some time away, you don’t have to start from scratch, but have the ideas in front of you with some of them (hopefully!) marked off as already completed.

These places can go on the list in any order. I like to use either a Word or Excel file to jot them down in initially. This way, I just put them on the list in the order in which I think of it. Later I can go back and rearrange them easily in any order that I want to. How do you rearrange them? Sometimes it is best to put them in the order of what is most likely to give you an answer to the least. Other times it is best to group them by repositories- either online or ones to visit in person. Sometimes you might even want to arrange them by things you can do quickly and ones that will take a lot longer to complete.

This flexibility as well as being able to access them in various places makes a digital version of the plan ideal. However, some people prefer a paper based plan. If that’s your preference, it will work too. That’s part of the beauty of an informal research plan for just yourself- you get to do whatever works best for you!

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Legacy Family Tree Webinar on Organizing

I just came across a free webinar on Legacy Family Tree webinars.
 It is by Lisa Louise Cooke and is free for anybody and everybody to listen to until July 27th. The webinar is about organizing your online life and from what I can see, mentions Google Calendar and Evernote amongst other programs. I don’t know about you, but I’m sure I can use this and will be listening to it in the next couple days.

Wouldn't it be great to be this organized?
I have some good systems in place with lists and spreadsheets to keep track of things both online and offline. My life would be total chaos without them. However, there are always new ways to organize that might be better than what I’m doing. Even if the ideas are basically the same as what I already do, there are usually some little quirks and tricks that I either haven’t thought to do or have forgotten about.

I use Google Calendar all the time to keep track of appointments and deadlines for various things. I keep running lists of things that need to get done and errands that need to be run. Maybe you can do without some of these lists, but if I walk into the grocery store without one, I won’t even have a clue what I’m supposed to buy for this week! Lately, I’ve been learning a bit about Evernote and believe that this could be a good place to keep some of these assorted lists of things all in one handy place. The one drawback for me is that I don’t have a smart phone, so would have to print out a list to take with me if I need one on the run.

An organizing tool that I would like to find is one that deals with all the urls for websites that I try to keep track of. I’ve used bookmarks or favorites on web browsers, kept lists in Word files and on spreadsheets, but nothing seems to keep them in order for long. Perhaps somebody has something that works well for them?

This is the great thing about the Legacy webinars if you haven’t already started to explore them. People present on various topics related to genealogy and you get to learn from them as they share their knowledge and experience. As you listen and think about what their discussing, other ideas may pop into your head. You can pause the webinar, unlike an in person presentation, and look into these ideas.

Usually each Wednesday is what is referred to as “Webinar Wednesday” where a live presentation is given that is free to listen to then or for the next week. It is kind of like a free conference spread across the year. If you subscribe to their website, you can get the syllabus material to each webinar as well and access to all of the webinars that have been presented. This is great if you don’t get a chance to listen while the webinar is free. It is also an opportunity to not only hear and watch some of the older ones, but also some that have never been available for free.

A few months ago Thomas MacEntee did a free presentation about using Microsoft Word. It was a good introduction. However, there were many, many more parts to the presentation that are only available to subscribers that goes much more in depth. My advice to everyone is to subscribe to these webinars- you won’t regret it!

Friday, July 22, 2016

Find My Past Friday

In case you didn't realize, Find My Past lists their new databases every Friday and allows free access to certain databases over the weekend as a promotion of what they have. Here is today's announcement:

What has me particularly interested this weekend is the announcement of July updates to PERSI. That's the Periodical Source Index for those that aren't familiar with the acronym. It's a catalog of sorts for articles across many journals in the genealogical world. Originally kept by the Allen County Library in Fort Wayne, Indiana and available on HeritageQuest, Find My Past now takes on part of the job and has the most recent ones available on their website. There were 18,257 articles from 94 publications added during the July report alone! Some are available digitally on the site while others you need to go to a library to look at. Guess what library has all these periodicals available! Of course, Allen County.

Here is why I'm excited to be able to look into all the updates in the catalog.  If you're also headed to the Professional Management Conference in September, you already know that it is being held at the library in Fort Wayne. I need to dive into PERSI and see which articles I'm going to be rushing to get in between sessions.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Family Search & Digital Public Library

I just ran across an announcement of books becoming available on line easier through a joint effort of Family Search and the Digital Public Library. If you don't also subscribe to the NGS email announcement list, Up Front with NGS, you should consider subscribing. You don't need to be a member of the organization to receive their news releases.

I'm not familiar with the Digital Public Library yet, but it looks like a very interesting site with lots of information to explore.

Family Search is a site that I use a lot. It is the website of the Family History Library in Salt Lake City. From their site you can reach the catalog to see what is available and plan a research trip to their library. If you can't travel there any time soon, you can request films be sent, for a fee, to your local Family History Center. If you don't know where that is, of course, you can look it up on the website as well!

For me the real treasure of this site is the items that are available in databases online. All kinds of records including census records, vital records and such can be found for any state and many, many foreign countries. Trees that people have completed and submitted are available and many other things. I could go on for hours about what is available and still miss many key things.

The one thing I've been having fun diving into and discovering lately though, are the various published works that are available through the website. There are many, many titles available and more are being added constantly. A couple months ago, while at the NYS Library, I made copies of some pages from an old genealogy about one branch of my family. In working with these pages and researching this family, I realized that one page was unreadable at the bottom and I was lacking the next page totally. I was thrilled to find the book on the Family Search website and obtain these two pages so that my work wasn't interrupted until I could return to Albany.

I'm not sure how expanded access to this library is going to work or what it actually means for the average users, but I have a feeling we are going to enjoy it even more! In the meantime, I have a new website to explore!

Monday, July 18, 2016

Saturday Challenge- How Many Ancestors Did You Meet?

From Randy Seaver on Saturday: Here is your assignment if you choose to play along (cue the Mission Impossible music, please!): 

1) Write down which of your ancestors that you have met in person (yes, even if you were too young to remember them).

2) Tell us their names, where they lived, and their relationship to you in a blog post, or in comments to this post, or in comments on Facebook.

This is a fairly easy one for me. The count ends at four.

Here is a picture of my Dad’s parents’ grandchildren at their 50th wedding anniversary celebration, which would have been in 1960. I joke that it’s not fair- they left me out of the picture and instead included one great-granddaughter. The truth of the matter is, they thought they had all the grandchildren in the picture and never knew their mistake. They both died two years later and it was three years after that before I was even born.

So, here are the people that I have actually met:

Alice Ward- Mom. Although she lived in Skaneateles and Auburn, they were before I was born. From a little before I was born she lived on the farm in Moravia in the house that is in the background of the picture above. Her and Dad bought it off my grandparents’ estate. In later years she lives just outside of Auburn in the town of Owasco.

Gordon Ward (1919-1998)- Dad. He never lived in Skaneateles; that was Mom’s childhood home. He also lived on another farm from the one in the picture. It was to the north and east of there over the town line in the Town of Niles. That was for the first four years of his life. Otherwise, the places are the same as hers only with two different time periods living on the farm, the first time when his parents bought it while he was a child and then after their deaths when he and Mom owned it.  They had also spent their early married life in Moravia near the farm, first at the lake in a couple different cottages and then in what was referred to as “the tennant farm” just to the north of my grandparents on a small farm that my grandparents owned.

Marion Wooster (1896-1976) Grandpa. I’m not sure if I know all the places he lived. He was born in Sheldon, Iowa. His parents then came “home” to Lysander, NY and lived in Weedsport for a brief time just as he enlisted in the Army. He was stationed for a time at Fort Brown, Texas. During the end of his Army enlistment he and Grandma lived in rented places in Washington, DC before arriving in Skaneateles where his parents were living. They spent the rest of their lives in various houses in the village.

Alice Jennings Wooster (1893-1970). Grandma. She was born in Keelinga, Leap, County Cork Ireland and grew up on her father’s farm there. After immigrating at age 19, she lived in and around Boston. She enlisted in the Army Nurse’s Corp and was stationed at Fort Brown, Texas. The rest of her locations follow that of Grandpa. I know she was discharged while at Rantoul, IL, but I think that was a brief stay and not actually living there.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Mystery at St Agnes

Have you ever wandered across something and wondered what it was or what was happening? My husband did just that last week while looking for stones that had been requested for photos for Find A Grave. In St Agnes Cemetery on the south side of Syracuse is a mausoleum that makes us wonder what happened.

It is a beautiful Victorian mausoleum built by the Dissel family. The stonework and carving are not only decorative, but built to last for many lifetimes. It is in very good repair, except for one thing. The normal heavy metal door or stoned over entrance is missing! It is wide-open and anyone can step inside. Let's step inside shall we?

This is where the mystery becomes evident.

What happened? Was nobody ever buried here? Are there doors that should be added to the empty shelves? Were there people here once and now they're gone? Were they re-interred elsewhere or did grave robbers come and take them? This we do not know.

I did a quick search of newspaper articles on and through Google, but have not come up with anything yet. Rich emailed St Agnes Cemetery to ask about this mystery, but they have not answered yet. Meanwhile we wonder. I will keep researching as I have time, to try and find the answer as there must be more of this story. In the meantime, does anybody else know what happened? Have you heard any stories about this? Let us know! We would be interested to hear more.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Anniversary of The Great Military Records Fire

Many of us have parents or grandparents who served during World War I or II. Some of us have the information and military records that these people saved. Others have only found out or gotten interested in their service after these people have passed on. Many of the papers have been lost or discarded long ago.

There is a simple solution- just send away to the National Archives for them. Or is there? For most of the branches of service, this can be the answer. However, if they belonged to the Army, Army Air Force or Air Force between 1912 and 1963, you are likely out of luck. These records were housed at the National Personnel Records Center in Saint Louis, Missouri.
The fire from the VA website
Why is this fact important? Shortly after midnight, 43 years ago today, on July 12, 1973, a fire started in the top floor of this building. What a fire it was! It swept through the entire 6th floor taking with it most of these records as well as causing damage to the 5th floor. It was two days before they were able to reenter the building after the fire was out. It is estimated that between 16 and 18 million official records went up in flames that night. For the Army this was 80% of those discharged between November 1, 1912 and January 1, 1960. For the Air Force it was 75% of those discharged between September 25, 1947 and January 1, 1964. There were no copies. There were no microfilms. These records are gone.

Since then the government has used what they call auxiliary records to try to reconstruct the basic record of each person whose records were destroyed. However, for many people the details of their service during this time period is gone forever.

I have tried to retrieve copies of the service records for my grandparents, Marion and Alice (Jennings) Wooster in the past, but was unsuccessful. At the time I didn't know why they couldn't be found. They both served during WWI, Marion in the Calvary of the Army and Alice in the Army Nurse's Corp. Marion additionally served during WWII in the SeaBees, part of the Army.

Alice about 1919
Marion about 1922

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Saturday Challenge- Most Census Records

Here is the latst assignment from Randy Seaver and Genea-Musings, if you choose to play along (cue the Mission Impossible music, please!): 

1)  Do you know which of your ancestors appears the most times in the Census records?  How many years?  Are there duplicate entries?  

My great-great-grandmother, Lodema (Tobias) Titus lived longer than possibly any of my ancestors. Her lifetime of 94 years spanned from 1831 to 1926.

Here are the census years she might conceivably have been in:

1835- New York State census.
1840- Federal census
1845- New York State census.

All three of the above census records have similar results. Although I have not found the family yet, they should be in the town of Springport, Cayuga County, New York or fairly close by. Although head of household only, she would have been counted within the household of her father, John Tobias.

1850 Springport, Cayuga Co, NY, p. 219A, dwelling 714, family 720 (Erastus Meyers) Lodema is a servant in the household of Erastus.
1855 Springport, Cayuga Co, NY ED “Corporation” p. [not listed], dwelling 146, family 146, frame house, value $600 (Samuel Titus) Lodemia, age 23, born Cayuga. The head of household is now her husband, Samuel.
1860 Ledyard, Cayuga Co, NY p. 34 dwelling, 242, family 242 (Sherwood PO) [Seabin/ Leabin as first name]- her name was somewhat unusual and often misspelled in records.
1865- Have not found Samuel and Lodema in this state census yet.
1870 Ledyard, Cayuga Co, NY p. 24, dwelling 228, family 227 (Union Springs PO) [Ladeny Tytus]. I’ve rarely seen Titus spelled this way- a definite misspelling and not a variation the family used.
1875 Town of Ledyard is missing from the microfilm roll. She would have been living here during the census, about a year after her husband’s death.
1880 Ledyard, Cayuga Co, NY ED 24, p. 8, dwelling 60, family 61 (Lodema Titus)
1890 Destroyed by fire.
1892 New York State census. Ledyard, Cayuga Co, NY, p. 1, Lodemia Titus, female, age 65, born United States, citizen.
1900 Ledyard, Cayuga Co, NY, ED 31, p. 6B, dwelling, 103, family 105 (Daniel Titus). Daniel is her second child and oldest son.
1905 Ledyard, Cayuga Co, NY, ED 1, p. 21 original, line 20 (Daniel Titus) Lodema, mother, age 72, born US, housework
1910 Ledyard, Cayuga Co, NY, ED 44, p. 5A, dwelling 114, family 117 (Ludima Titus- head)
1915 Ledyard, Cayuga Co, NY ED 1, p. 20 line 21 (Daniel Titus)
1920 Ledyard, Cayuga Co, NY ED 34, p. 5A, dwelling 110, family 112, (Daniel Titus) Lake road
1925 Aurelius, Cayuga Co, NY, ED 2, p. 9, line 10 (Lodema Titus), age 90, born US, housework, Genesee Rd.

So, out of 18 possible census records that she should be in, I have found her in 12 of them. Thanks to her long life-span and the many state census records as well as federal ones during this time period, Lodema would have appeared in the most census records of any of my ancestors.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Fourth of July

I didn't get any pictures from yesterday's Fourth of July and the Town of Owasco's parade- part of their 90th year of Independence day celebrations. So instead, I'm posting a look back at another parade from forty years ago. Can you believe it was that long ago that we celebrated the bicentennial of this country? For many of us it was when we began to get interested in genealogy and our family origins.
 Here are some pictures from Auburn, NY on July 4, 1976. All were taken by a certain child who was just getting interested in genealogy:

antique car
another old car


Ukranian Church I believe

Owasco Dutch Reformed Church

Happy Birthday America

Nina, Pinta or Santa Maria?

Moravia Band- my future high school

"Native Americans"

My brother's truck
Well, that last one was in the parade yesterday, but you might not recognize it as the same truck. E & V Energy now owns it and has it painted, of course, in their company colors and logo.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Saturday Challenge- "Rootin' Tootin' True Confessions of Genealogists Quiz"

This week's challenge from Mary Harrell-Sesniak through Randy Seaver's GeneaMusings:
Just some flowers from my garden to brighten the post
Your mission, should you decide to accept it (cue the Mission Impossible! music) is to:

1)  Mary Harrell-Sesniak posted a "Rootin' Tootin' True Confessions of Genealogists Quiz" on the GenealogyBank Blog this week, and invited readers to answer the 50 questions.  She also provided a score sheet.

2)  For this week's SNGF, let's answer her questions and see how we score.  Copy and paste my answers below and edit the list for yourself (be sure to delete or edit my comments).

Here's mine:
  1. _x_Gone to sleep reciting details about ancestors?    Who hasn’t?
  2. _x_Photographed more than 20 tombstones?    At least twenty in one cemetery at a time sometimes!
  3. __Had an ancestral chart, family photo, coat of arms, ship of immigration (or similar) professionally printed or framed?    
  4.  _x_Figured out your kinship to someone famous?   Why not? It’s fun even if distant.
  5. __Solved a stranger’s dead-end mystery for free?    No, but I once gave someone a book title with an entire line back on his wife’s family that he was looking for.
  6. __Considered consulting a psychic about genealogy?  
  7. _x_Taken a selfie in a graveyard or hugged a tombstone?   Yep.
  8. _X_Probed the ground or used a divining rod to locate a missing tombstone?   Unsuccessfully…
  9. __Written your own obituary?  
  10. __Created a birth, marriage or death notice (obit) for an ancestor who didn’t have one?  
  11. _x_Eschewed the sunshine for valuable library/research time (or met the dawn while tracing your family tree)?  Sunshine is over-rated. Especially when you burn easily!
  12. _x_Celebrated a birthday, marriage or commemorative event of a deceased forebear?  Honored is more accurate than celebrate, but yeah.
  13. _x_Rescued (i.e., purchased) photos, medals or similar objects of someone not related to you?   Have bough a few photos over the years.
  14. __Reunited lost artifacts with living relatives?  Haven’t been successful yet on above photos.
  15. _x_Centered a vacation around genealogy?  Conferences, institutes, research trips- I thought that’s what vacations were for!
  16. __Traveled to meet a newly discovered cousin whom you met through genealogy research?  
  17. __Tested your DNA?  On my list- need to set aside $$$ for it.
  18. __Paid for others to get their DNA tested?  
  19. _x_Worn clothing (t-shirts, jackets, hats) emblazoned with genealogy surnames, slogans, society names, etc.?  Totebags on shoulder count- right?
  20. __Upon their leaving the nest, converted your child’s bedroom (or personal space) into a genealogy room?   No children- but have used guest room many a time.
  21. _x_Spent more on genealogy in a month than groceries?  Food is over-rated! LOL! Besides- if you count hotels, gas etc. when traveling it is easy to do.
  22. _x_Collected odd records in the name of genealogy (for example, taxes)?  Anything I can find!
  23. _x_Added margin notations in books (error corrections, enhanced details)?  On my own copy only!
  24. _x_Mapped a forebear’s traipsings?  Have had many a marked up map with this.
  25. _x_Traveled more than 100 miles for research (library, court house)?  Many a day.
  26. __Purchased something that belonged to an ancestor or that has his/her name on it (photo albums, homesteads, lineage society pins)?  
  27. __Participated in a reenactment related to your ancestry?  
  28. _x_Made something to commemorate genealogy (historical costumes, paraphernalia, needlepoint or model of an immigrant ship, painting, genealogy quilt)?  Cross-stitch of historical places. Some would say my home sewn skirts- below knee length are historical!
  29. _x_Joined more than five lineage or genealogy societies?   NGS, NEHGS, CNYGS, APG, Jefferson County (NY), Capital District in past and countless historical from time to time.
  30. __Overlaid an ancestor’s photo on that of a living person to identify a doppelganger (look-alike)?  Hmm. Idea…
  31. _x_Downloaded, emailed or shared genealogy jokes?  
  32. __Purchased a book with only a small reference to your ancestry (100 words)?  
  33. __Mentioned genealogy in your will?  
  34. _x_Studied old handwriting or consulted with a handwriting expert so that you can read old documents?  Not great at it, but have studied the basics to read 19th and 18th century.
  35. _x_Made a gen-tote of gadgets for on-the-go projects (portable scanning, grave cleaning, flash drives, notepads, acid free gloves)?  Research bag is ready to go at a moment’s notice!
  36. __Taken a handful of dirt or a stone from a place significant to your ancestry?  
  37. _x_Diverted a mealtime conversation to genealogy?  My husband is also a genealogist- many meals involve genealogy!
  38. _x_Initiated conversations about ancestry with complete strangers (outside of a genealogy setting)?  I’m also counting the ones where my husband starts a conversation with wait-staff by trying to guess their ancestry!
  39. _x_Researched the genealogy of complete strangers?  If the name/something about them is fascinating to me, then of course I do!
  40. _x_Transcribed an old document, or more than 500 genealogy records?  Wills, deeds…
  41. _x_Joined a dozen or more social media genealogy groups?  Too many, they clutter my Facebook feed…
  42. _x_Created a genealogy blog or a public tree (online)?  What are you reading?
  43. _x_Published a family history book or distributed genealogy folders amongst the relatives?  Distributed CDs of trees before. Sharing photos electronically or in print with relatives.
  44. __Programmed gen-destinations (court houses, cemeteries) into your GPS?  When is somebody going to buy me one?
  45. _x_Taken genealogy courses with the intention of receiving a certificate or other form of recognition?   While not the main reason, I do intend to complete and receive the certificate.
  46. _x_Paid to attend genealogy conferences?  As often as I can…
  47. _x_Searched surnames on eBay?  Fascinating what you can find.
  48. _x_Scoured thrift or resale shops for genealogical finds?  Always on the lookout- no great finds yet…
  49. _x_Trespassed in the name of genealogy?  I’m afraid a few cemeteries I’ve been in might be private property. Have stepped onto private property to take pictures of old buildings or scenery that my ancestors would have lived in or looked at as well.
  50. _x_Dined anywhere but your dining table to avoid disturbing a genealogy project?  Sometimes you just have to stop and eat- why disturb what you’re doing?

My score:  33.  I get the "Up and Coming Genealogist Award."  Hmm, seems rather low, don’t you think? Guess I’d better get to work!