Friday, November 14, 2014

When Aunt Mable’s Genealogy Is Wrong

After a flood of notes and comments from distant cousins who questionancestors my genealogy postings, it is obvious that not many of them are actually doing genealogy research.  Rather, they have copied erroneous genealogical information found on the Internet and in the possession of family members.

Many of the notes I receive argue that my data is incorrect because their “Aunt Mable” or whomever found information that the truth about our common relative was much different than the data that I have posted.   

When I ask them about the sources for their data, they answer, “Aunt Mable”.  Asking if she had written any sources on the group or pedigree sheets in her genealogy book, invariably, the answer was ‘No”.   The story plays out as you’d expect.  Their full trust was in Aunt Mable who would not lie and that if I knew her, “you would say the same thing”.

When I point to the primary, secondary and circumstantial sources that I’ve included that support my data, they respond, “Someone made a mistake and everyone is copying them.”

I ask if they “think that anyone would copy the data created by someone else and perpetuate the errors”, they always respond, “of course people do that.”

At this point of the conversation, I stop and wait for the light bulb to come on in their minds.  It does fairly frequently but unfortunately, it doesn't in many cases.  When that happens it is necessary to gently break it to them that that is exactly what they have done and that until they have original sources other than the much lauded veracity of Aunt Mable, we really don’t have much to talk about.

Similar issues have surrounded photos that others have posted that don’t actually contain the image of the person in the record.  In most cases, I acquired my ancestral photos from my grandparents and great grandparents along with their hand written names and information on the back of the photo that identify the person(s) in the image.  A lot of the time the photos were of their siblings, aunts, uncles and even grandparents, whom they knew in life. Unfortunately, many newbies assume that any photo they find posted on the Internet is correctly labeled and is therefore a validated photo of their ancestor. Once again, this rationale creates fallacies that are believed and perpetuated across the Internet.

Stories of this nature aren’t new to most researchers.  We’ve been on both sides in these tales, but eventually we finally “got” the concept that we need firm or thoughtfully elucidated proof of our information before it represents valid data in the eyes of others.

Remember to treat folks raising red flags with kindness and patience when you encounter issues like those above.  We may be surprised when their proof is actually ‘better’ than our proof. It happens to all of us. I have been caught by surprise as the person with the incorrect evidence on many occasions, regardless of how well I thought I had proven the facts. It happens to all of us. Some of the revelations hurt.  I have been very attached to my data and the people that I had claimed as ‘mine’ in these situations. Cutting them free to float away was difficult indeed, but it was the correct thing to do.

One error that surfaced involved the loss of thousands of ancestors from my pedigree. Two men were born on the same day to parents with the same names five miles apart in the early 1800’s.  Of course they had the same first names and married women with the same names. Did I expect the issue to be simple? Even most of their children were similarly named.

I had wonderful sources for ‘my’ male ancestor just like the person that called the issue to my attention did for ‘their’ ancestor with the same name.

We met at my house, compared information and then she pulled out the ‘bigger’ source document that proved her point. Bang! Down went the balloon of proven research 'righteousness'. She was right. I was wrong. She gained all of ‘my’ ancestors in that line, while I gained the few ancestors that she had proven in ‘her’ line. She got the man that was well known and revered in his world, while I gained the man who couldn't read or write and worked at menial jobs all of his life. My new ancestors didn’t have any less worth than my ‘lost’ ancestors, but the paucity of recorded events in their lives made them a LOT harder to find and prove.

My new genealogy friend sent me a number of notes that thanked me for all my work on her lineage along with a little nudging to remind me to not try and take them back. That had to bring a smile to her face every time she penned a communique to me.

All of us will eventually encounter problems like this for a variety of good and not so good reasons. We may lose our ancestor, “Daddy Warbucks”, and all of the brag stories that go with him but the truth is that he never was ours from the start. Neither was “Auntie Mame” or “Dagwood” or “Daisy”.

We all have the huge pools of “John’s”, “Mary’s”, “William’s” and “Elizabeth’s” that richly populate our lineal families and the historical records we search to find them. Sometimes we feel that if we discover one more John Brown or Elizabeth Smith in our ancestry, we will pull our hair out. Often, the common Joe's and Sally's are the real treasures in our lineage. Let's keep our hands away from our hair and use that energy to find the nuggets of greatness in all of our ancestors and their families.

It seems counter-intuitive but frequently these wonderful, salt-of-the-earth, common folks had fantastic life stories that will enthrall us if we can throw off our negativity and work to find them. After all, they are our kind of people! Most of us are just as common as most of them.

Often, we are hero's in the eyes of family members and friends, regardless of how common or uncommon we perceive ourselves. We aren't unique in the miscalculation of value and worth of ourselves and others, be it too high or too low. It was just as hard for our ancestors to recognize their own worth in the scales of eternity as it is for us. People were praised for the wrong characteristics and actions then just as they are now. Success and value are measured in the eyes and minds of others, regardless of the perceived quality of the visage that stares back at anyone from the mirror.

Let's claim and praise our ancestors. They've earned it and deserve it. However, at the same time, let's be sure that we are laying our wreaths at the feet of the correct people by proving that they are ours to love and revere.

Posted 14 Nov 2014 by Lee R. Drew on Lineagekeeper’s Genealogy Blog

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Do Beginning Genealogy Researchers Need To Be Experts?

There has been a continuing stream of dialog among the LDS genealogy18 community about the need for folks new to genealogy and LDS temple work to either do dedicated original research or alternately to mine the existing records on FamilySearch Tree to find possible incomplete temple ordinances for family members.

The two camps are polarized in their thoughts, although the old-school researchers seem to be more vociferous in their position on the subject.  They regularly declare that original research is THE ONLY way to be involved in securing LDS ordinance reservations.  It must be the only method used to discover ancestral family members.  They state that anyone who shortcuts the traditional research process is:

  1. Not a real genealogist

  2. Not an accurate record keeper

  3. Following a path that will lead to their destruction in both their research habits and in the accuracy of their work.

  4. Creating duplicate or false ordinance work in LDS temples.

  5. Wasting their time.  Kidding themselves.  Becoming a purveyor of junk data.

Their attitudes and words hurt the feelings newbie researchers and do as much to quash their fledgling interest in genealogy as do the ever present pressures in their lives that ranges from school to work and to raising a family. 

Let’s face facts.  Elder Allan F. Packer of the Seventy plainly stated in his 2014 RootsTech talk that less than 3% of LDS church members submit names for temple ordinances. 

He noted that “To reach the other 97 percent, we need to change how we think, how we teach and what we teach.”

He went on to say: “These numbers are a cry for change.”

There was good news in his message though: “In the last year the number of members submitting names for temple ordinances is up 17 percent over last year. It has gone from 2.4 to 2.7 percent of the members.”

His message called for the improvement of both member involvement in family history research and in church genealogy curriculum and research tools. 

He supported the call for improvement by noting that “in the United States 25 percent of Church members do not have four generations of ancestors in the Family Tree section of the Church’s FamilySearch Internet site. Internationally, 70 percent of members don’t have both parents in Family Tree, 90 percent don’t have their grandparents in it, and 95 percent don’t have their great-grandparents included.

“These individual members already know the names of the people that are in their first four generations,” he noted. “But our responsibilities go far beyond those first four generations. We need to help all members of the Church find their ancestors.”

His message on this subject wasn’t new although it wouldn’t matter if it was or even if he was the only church leader speaking and teaching on the subject.  His assignment in the Presidency of the Seventy includes being the Executive Director of the Family History Department.  Not only is his direction in family history work consistent with the goals of the church, it is consistent with direction from the highest level of church leadership

Noting the current lackluster involvement of all church members in family history, the church through their genealogy arm, FamilySearch, has introduced numerous new methods, programs, opportunities and tweaks in curriculum in an effort to help members engage in the work. 

Obviously much of the focus is on new researchers ranging from young folks to busy adults.  They need opportunities that provide them semi-easy research tools and early successes to reinforce the knowledge that success is possible and enjoyable. 

The Family History Department recently released a program named “New Way to Find Cousins”  and video directed to them that specifically focuses on using the Descendancy View of Family Tree to find incomplete or missing temple ordinances for members of their ancestral families.

Just over a year ago, they introduced the Memories tools in Family Tree that encourages users of Tree to add photos and stories to the records of their ancestors.

The release has been followed by numerous campaigns that encourage writing and attaching memories about ancestors in Tree like the recent #meetmygrandma campaign.

Several months ago, FamilySearch released two mobile apps, FamilySearch Tree and FamilySearch Memories to make it easier for everyone to access records on Tree and add information to them.

The tools and methods used in the past hadn’t proven successful with the masses.  Something had to change if participation in family history research was to increase.  No matter where we reside on the family history research skill spectrum, we need to listen to the words of church leaders and take heed of the programs, tools and education that is being released by the Family History Department through FamilySearch.

It is time for all of us to accept the direction of these programs and help in their success and stop finding reasons why they are wrong.   They aren’t wrong.  Our vision of “right” is too narrow.

I’m an old-timer in genealogy research like many of you.  I’ve been heavily involved in family history research for over 60 years.  I’ve taught family history classes for over 30 years and like other instructors throughout the church have spent much of the teaching time focusing on sources, accuracy and avoiding the bane of duplicate records.   Hopefully, the long term successful research involvement of my students or my nebulously denoted “success rate” as an instructor exceeds the 3% average of the church.  Memory tells me that is true but unfortunately, the long term active involvement research numbers are still far too low.

As a father and grandfather, I’ve taught family members how to “do” genealogy research.  We’ve enjoyed research trips to the Family History Library in Salt Lake City and to libraries in other locations as well as numerous trips to ancestral sites including their residences, cemeteries, local historical societies and the rest of the commonly visited research venues.

We’ve had a good time.  We’ve found ancestral records.  We’ve been successful. 

All too often the “We” in these sentences has been the royal “We” with me sitting on the throne of royalty. 

Real success in helping them engage and actually love the research engagement has been when we’ve used similar tools and the objectives that FamilySearch is using now.

 

Sessions of dry research never stoked the love of family history in their lives, but it flourished when ancestral stories and photos were introduced.  Confidence in research success was never achieved until I purposely directed them to resources that I knew would result in the discovery of ancestral records. 

Ordinance work that they performed for their ancestors was never as sacred or internalized as it has been since they have been an integral part of our ancestral research.  Their confidence is built on their research skills and on the stories and photos about their ancestors that were found and written during the research process.

Is the LDS Church and its Family History Department asking researchers to abandon source proven records, avoidance of duplication and engage in speculation and low value ancestral information? 

Absolutely not! 

They are asking us old timers to look in a different teaching and experiential window than the one we’ve know and focused on for generations.  We are still needed to produce the stream of accurate new records, but we are too few and too relatively slow in the production of those records. 

A much broader spectrum of involvement by all church members and researchers worldwide is required for the ultimate success required by the Lord.

Come on Old Timers and Journeyman Researchers, stop hogging all of the research fun and stop trying to assume all of the research responsibility.  Share and encourage it with everyone.   Help them be successful in their ancestral quest. 

It all starts with baby steps.  Think back far enough and you’ll remember when you too wore the infant shoes of a new researcher that you’ve now bronzed and proudly display for others to see.

It’s time to realize the promises of Elijah in turning our hearts to our ancestors.  Let’s gently and encouragingly share our hard won skills and knowledge as we help new researchers successfully achieve their own goal of being successful, accurate family history research scholars who along with their families hope to be Saviors on Mount Zion.

© Article Posted 18 Oct 2014 by Lee R. Drew on Lee Drew’s Views and on Lineagekeeper’s Genealogy Blog

Friday, October 10, 2014

FamilySearch ~ Research By Location

Recently FamilySearch enhanced the search interface of their main search page by adding a Research By Location section.  I’ve been surprised how many of my contacts have overlooked the feature given its prominence on the page.  However, until you’ve used it the first time, its graphical representation looks just like that.  A graphic.

fs_search_by_location

Web site design has changed over the past year or two to a flat style and fewer interactive graphics are used in the style.  That is unfortunate because they can be very useful to visitors to the site.  FamilySearch takes advantage of the graphic on the main search page by turning it into an interactive hot map. 

Run the cursor over the map and the regions of the map light up based on the organization of records collections in FamilySearch. 

To look at records about New Zealand, simply click on the county on the map.

Both new Zealand and Australia are listed for that geographic section of the world on the next screen.

fs_search_by_location_country

Click on New Zealand to see the collections about the country on FamilySearch along with their related statics.

fs_search_by_location_stats

Click on the Start researching in New Zealand link to go to a new design that is specific to the country you’ve chosen.

fs_search_by_NZ

Additionally, the page includes links to any research training courses about the country that have been produced by FamilySearch and links to the county in the FamilySearch Catalog and to related articles on the FamilySearch Wiki.

fs_search_by_learning_center

The Research by Location design is not only welcome but well designed to assist researchers regardless of their level of genealogy research skill.

Try it.  I think you’ll like it as much as the rest of us who use it daily.

Posted 10 Oct 2014 by Lee R. Drew on Lineagekeeper’s Genealogy Blog

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

1 Billion Obituaries Coming to FamilySearch

FamilySearch and GenealogyBank made a major announcement on 1 October 2014 thatobituaries will bring 1 billion searchable obituaries to FamilySearch.

Genealogy researchers know that obituaries are a key resource in finding and proving information about their ancestors.  In many cases, they provide family and personal information that isn’t found in any other written record.

The obituaries are taken from newspapers from all 50 U.S. states and cover 1730 to the present day.  FamilySearch notes that the completed index will include 85% of U.S. deaths from the last decade alone.

The success of the obituaries project depends on FamilySearch Indexing Volunteers.   The sheer size of the collection would be daunting for most organizations to index but thanks to the thousands of FamilySearch volunteer indexers, the indexing should proceed relatively quickly. 

Researchers need to help with the indexing of the collection.  FamilySearch is providing the hosting and indexing resources.  GenealogyBank is providing the obituary images.  The genealogy community is to provide the indexing labor to share our part of the costs to put this huge collection online for free access by everyone.

Learn more about indexing at FamilySearch here.

 

Posted 1 Oct 2014 by Lee R. Drew on Lineagekeeper’s Genealogy Blog

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Fifty Questions for Family History Interviews

 

Many folks are taking advantage of the FamilySearch initiative “Meet My Grandma.”interview  The initiative focuses on writing about memories of her, typically from the memory and experience of the writer.  It is a wonderful exercise that benefits not only the writer but the family and friends of ‘grandma’.

We should also write more in-depth histories about our ancestors.  Hopefully, we capture their memories, knowledge, sense of humor and sense of reality from their perspective.

A great way to uncover clues to your family history or to get great quotes for journaling in a heritage scrapbook is a family interview.  By asking the right, open-ended questions, you’re sure to collect a wealth of family tales. Use this list of family history interview questions to help you get started, but be sure to personalize the interview with your own questions as well.

·    What is your full name? Why did your parents select this name for you? Did you have a nickname?

·    When and where were you born?

·    How did your family come to live there?

·    Were there other family members in the area? Who?

·    What was the house (apartment, farm, etc.) like? How many rooms? Bathrooms? Did it have electricity? Indoor plumbing? Telephones?

·    Were there any special items in the house that you remember?

·    What is your earliest childhood memory?

·    Describe the personalities of your family members.

·    What kind of games did you play growing up?

·    What was your favorite toy and why?

·    What was your favorite thing to do for fun (movies, beach, etc.)?

·    Did you have family chores? What were they? Which was your least favorite?

·    Did you receive an allowance? How much? Did you save your money or spend it?

·    What was school like for you as a child? What were your best and worst subjects? Where did you attend grade school? High school? College?

·    What school activities and sports did you participate in?

·    Do you remember any fads from your youth? Popular hairstyles? Clothes?

·    Who were your childhood heroes?

·    What were your favorite songs and music?

·    Did you have any pets? If so, what kind and what were their names?

·    What was your religion growing up? What church, if any, did you attend?

·    Were you ever mentioned in a newspaper?

·    Who were your friends when you were growing up?
·    What world events had the most impact on you while you were growing up? Did any of them personally affect your family?

·    Describe a typical family dinner.

·    Did you all eat together as a family? Who did the cooking? What were your favorite foods?

·    How were holidays (birthdays, Christmas, etc.) celebrated in your family? Did your family have special traditions?

·    How is the world today different from what it was like when you were a child?

·    Who was the oldest relative you remember as a child? What do you remember about them?

·    What do you know about your family surname?

·    Is there a naming tradition in your family, such as always giving the firstborn son the name of his paternal grandfather?

·    What stories have come down to you about your parents? Grandparents? More distant ancestors?

·    Are there any stories about famous or infamous relatives in your family?

·    Have any recipes been passed down to you from family members?

·    Are there any physical characteristics that run in your family?

·    Are there any physical characteristics that run in your family?

·    What was the full name of your spouse? Siblings? Parents?

·    When and how did you meet your spouse? What did you do on dates?

·    What was it like when you proposed (or were proposed to)? Where and when did it happen? How did you feel?

·    Where and when did you get married?

·    What memory stands out the most from your wedding day?

·    How would you describe your spouse? What do (did) you admire most about them?

·    What do you believe is the key to a successful marriage?

·    How did you find out your were going to be a parent for the first time?

·    Why did you choose your children’s names?

·    What was your proudest moment as a parent?

·    What did your family enjoy doing together?

·    What was your profession and how did you choose it?

·    If you could have had any other profession what would it have been? Why wasn’t it your first choice?

·    Of all the things you learned from your parents, which do you feel was the most valuable?

·    What accomplishments were you the most proud of?

·    What is the one thing you most want people to remember about you?

 

Posted 27 Sep 2014 by Lee R. Drew on Lineagekeeper’s Genealogy Blog

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Recording Your Fondest Memories About Grandma


My wife and I reminisced about our grandparents today.  My paternal grandmothergrandfather died long before I was born and both of my grandmothers died when I was five.  I only have a single memory of each of them.  My longer surviving grandfather wasn't involved in my life to any degree but at least I have mental images of him that are replete with audio and video.

As grandparents, my wife and I have tried to be active in the lives of our grandchildren.  Along with our children, they are our true treasures.
 
This week I have spent time this week tutoring some of them in math, in the use of cloud apps, answering their questions about life and Elmering one of them as a prospective ham radio operator.  Only a few of them have been physically present but with Google Hangouts the rest have only been a couple of clicks away.

At the end of the week, they reported back with great scores on tests, tales of successfully wowing their teachers with their mastery of cloud based apps and even a newly minted amateur radio operator.

My wife and I try to make memories with our children and grandchildren.  It doesn't involve a lot of money.  I just involves giving them our time, attention, sharing a little knowledge and of course some laughs.

Our granddaughters love their art, sewing, cooking and crafting stay overs with grandma.  Our grandsons enjoy the art lessons as well but tend to enjoy building rockets, paracord weaving, camp fire cooking, amateur radio operation and genealogy research projects with me.

Recently, FamilySearch announced a campaign to gather and record your fondest grandma stories.  Because my grandmothers died when I was so young, I don’t have any fond personal memories about them.   My wife only has a one or two about her grandmothers because they too died when she was a relatively young girl.  We wish we had known them better.  We would have recorded our memories of them.  Hopefully, our grandchildren will engage in the FamilySearch campaign and record their fondest memories of their grandmothers.

I’ve read that after the third generation, basically all family stories are forgotten if they aren't written down.  I wish I had the life stories of all of my grandparents rather than just their basic birth, marriage, death and similar facts.   When I do find life story information about them, it almost gives me more joy than finding their names when their associated brick research wall crumbles.

I’m sure that stories about the lives of your ancestors are equally exciting to you as well.

Are you going to take the opportunity to record your fondest memories of your grandmothers along with tens of thousands of others?  The FamilySearch initiative runs from September 20 - 30th.  Why not take the time to join in and write or record the stories.  Share them with your family and if you’d like share them with others by posting them to their records on Family Tree on FamilySearch.  I hope some of my older cousins record their memories of our common grandmothers and post them now.  They haven’t done so before but maybe the FamilySearch initiative will be the enticement that sparks their interest.   #MeetMyGrandma




Posted 21 Sep 2014 by Lee R. Drew on Lineagekeeper’s Genealogy Blog









Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Using GenScriber for Genealogy Research

Genealogy researchers constantly encounter old handwritten documents that we need to transcribe as a reference resource.  One of the best tools I've found for transcription is GenScriber.


genscriber_controls

 

The application was created by Les Hardy who updates it with tweaks and features from time-to-time.   It is available in both Windows and Linux versions.  The current Windows version is 2.2.3.

 

genscriber_worksheet_controls


The program is simple to use, just point it to the folder that holds the document images you want to transcribe, click on the file and go to work.  The top half of the screen shows the image and the lower half is your worksheet for transcription.
Built in tools include zooming in and out, contrast, sharpen, tint and the conversion to gray scale.

genscriber_worksheet_tools


To start transcribing, create a new document, set the number of columns (you can resize them by dragging the columns and start typing.

Les Hardy notes that "the latest version now allows unformatted text input which can be either rich text or plain text.  There is also a gedcom import/export."

Watch the following videos to help you get started using the excellent tools in GenScriber:

GenScriber: How to copy a single record from a web page

 

GenScriber: How to enable the special paste buttons

 

Using smartpaste in GenScriber

 

GenScriber: Gathering SSDI data (The easy way)

 

GenScriber: Import FreeBMD search results the easy way

 

GenScriber: Importing and merging FamilySearch.org xls files
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Posted 9 Sep 2014 by Lee R. Drew on Lineagekeeper’s Genealogy Blog

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Do Young Folks Have Enough Time for Genealogy Research?

Over the years, I've worked with youth hoping to instill of love of the ancestors inmother_daughter their hearts.  Few of them viewed genealogical research as one of the best detective 'games' in existence.  No it doesn't have the flashes, fireworks and sizzle of an electronic game, but the brain exercise exceeds digital games significantly.

Initially, finding the names of our farmer ancestors is boring but when we discover that they were on the front lines in the Revolutionary War, bore 10 children in a one-room home on the frontier and escaped raids multiple times, changes our perception about them.   They could have kicked our tails before breakfast and would have forgotten about it by noon.  They weren't joy stick jockeys.  They were 'real men' and 'heroic women'.

Once young folks tumble to the excitement of such discoveries, the repeat performances of the game on the display screen in the family room become boring.  

Real life ancestral heroes are exciting.  Digital heroes become boring.  

Of course, young folks today can't escape the digital world.  It is an integral part of their reality.   However, we know that it isn't as satisfying or lasting as physical reality.

If your family is like ours, even their education has moved online.   Will they become bored with it too?   They don't have to.   In our family, the digital lessons and testing  measure their learning and progress carefully, and if they are on track, it lets them advance through the curriculum very quickly.   To compensate from strictly digital education, our 6th & 7th graders are doing crime scene investigations down to and including the entomology and maturity of the carrion feeding insects, as part of a course.  Cool stuff.  They constantly move from room to room and setting to setting in their school during the day, carrying their desk, pens, papers, research library, etc.,  (i.e. Chromebook) with them as they go. 

They  understand the digital world and how to navigate its throughways and byways.  Hopefully, they'll put those skills to work mining the wealth of online resources for data about their ancestry.  

Fortunately, even with the handicap of our "ancientness", we can still help them from time to time.   In our own family for example, If they get hung up on something, they start a Google Hangout with me asking how to do it.   I smiled the first time I realized that the whole class was crowded around listening to our conversation plus reading the concurrent text chat.  The teacher / leader came over and asked who they were talking to...   "My Grandpa."  "He's a subject matter expert."    I laughed so much that I had to mute my microphone for a minute lest they hear my guffaws....   Times really have changed.    My generation and possibly some of your generation are probably dinosaurs (based on the number of cycles we've burned in relation to the maelstrom of time ticks in this technological age)..   Feeling old yet?  

If we think back and try to put the perceived reality of early our lives in perspective with those of our children and grandchildren, it's hard to find matches on many of the tracks of our respective timelines.    Can you imagine having the thought cross your mind, let alone having the technology to call your grandpa for help on Java coding when you were in 7th grade?  (or whatever its equivalent would have been?)    It never would have happened or even crossed my mind back then.  Today, our grandchildren regularly contact me "face to face" or "text to text" for help on something or the other thanks to the tech at their finger tips.

All of that said, do the young folks in your home and family have enough time to do genealogy research during the school year or is free time limited to summer vacations and holidays?   Their lives are busy with school, homework, sports, dancing, musical lessons and thousands of other activities.   Is there time in their lives for genealogy? 

Yes.  Especially, if they can see the enjoyment in being a detective and flout the mastery of their technological skills.   "Here, grandma, grandpa, mom or dad."  "Let me show you how to do that."  "Look what I found about our ancestor, the inventor, queen, pirate, diplomat!"

There are minutes here and there throughout the week when they can put their tech skills to work as family history detectives.   Combine that effort with holiday and summer schedules and they can uncover real treasures.  These victories won't fade with time like the successful conquest of a game on a PlayStation.  Instead, they are permanent.   The ancestral discoveries that I made at age 10 are still as valuable to me and my family today as they were to that freckle-faced kid all those years ago.   Take a little time and introduce your young folks to their own ancestral quest.   Help them win the long-lasting reward of ancestral discovery.

Posted 4 Sep 2014 by Lee R. Drew on Lineagekeeper’s Genealogy Blog

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Hey Pretty Girl ~ Marriage Proposals

I'm always searching for the stories associated with prominent events in the lives ofbride my ancestors.  The photos that I find of them are typically of 'old' people, not the young vibrant young folks that they saw in their own memories.  The stories help me envision them as young folks too.

Sometimes I find a story about them that displays their 'goofiness' or at least their humorous selves.  Their lives were more physically stressful than most of ours in our mechanized day and if portrait photos are any indication, they smiled a lot less than us.   Of course, that's if you believe the grim look on faces in the old photos to be the truth about their society.

Families love to discover the real stories behind their ancestors.  Our grandchildren love to hear the stories about their young grandma and myself.

Today, we can take videos of our significant life stories and post them in the Internet.  They say that once something is posted there, it never goes away and will haunt you forever.  Perhaps that is exactly what we want in this case.  Our digital file may disappear from our hard drives over the years, but it may survive on the storage media of Google or other large entities.  The NSA probably doesn't take requests from the public to pull up the old files though, so I guess we'll have to hope that a commercial entity's storage survives the decades and centuries.

Recently, I encountered a marriage proposal of a local man, Tyson J. Henderson to his sweetheart, Hayley Wilson that their descendants will tell and retell for generations to come.

Sorry Tyson, Kip is the better singer between the two of you.

Best wishes to Hayley and Tyson in their marriage and may your descendants enjoy your story as much as we have in our family.

YouTube Video Tutorials and Tools for your own video uploads:youtubelogo

Posted 2 Sep 2014 by Lee R. Drew on Lineagekeeper’s Genealogy Blog

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Using Getty Images On Your Genealogy Blog

Genealogy blogger love to share their research discoveries, tips and tools with each other. computer monitor2 In most cases, our research successes come from many hours, days, weeks or even years of concentrated research effort.   When we finally find our long lost ancestor or family member, we rejoice and want to share our success with the world.

Most amateur genealogists aren’t wealthy.  We don’t make money from our work.  We do the research out of love of family as well as a deep desire to find who we are in relation to time, place and those around us.  Much if not all of our free cash goes into the expenses associated with genealogy research.

We are an army of Junior Sherlock Holmesian characters searching for clues, documents, stories and photos that uncover at least some of the truths about our ancestors and their families and lives.  Granted, few of us wear a deerstalker cap, smoke a pipe and carry a magnifying glass while on our quest but our spouses usually have a name for our genealogy “Go-Kits” and research demeanor. 

We write about our research successes on our blogs.  Our logic is that others will benefit from our research and share the happiness associated with our discoveries.   We want our blog posts to be attractive, convey knowledge, excitement and accurate information. 

It isn’t words that tell the story however.  It’s the images that we include with the words. 

In an August 2014 New York Times interview, Jonathan Klein, co-founder and chief executive of Getty Images, noted that “The world’s most-spoken language isn’t Mandarin – it’s pictures.”   Pictures grab our attention and can convey a wealth of information.

 

Mr. Klein notes that Getty has changed their business model to a degree to allow for the embedded non-commercial use of their images in blogs and other social media sites.  The rules are very clear about how they can be used and for what purposes if you want to use them for free.  The embed code contains documentation of the image source along with links to Getty and other tools. 

When you use the embed code from Getty, it generates traffic to their site.  They are a commercial entity.  They and their photographers and artists derive their income from selling their creations and catalogs for commercial and other uses.  Allowing folks like genealogy bloggers to embed their images in our posts generates a lot of traffic to their site.   Mr. Klein noted in the interview that, “Basically, 99 percent of the traffic on GettyImages.com will never buy a picture.” ….  but all of the traffic has significantly increased their sales.  Their new business model has been disruptive but it is translating into successfully achieving their bottom line business goals.

So, genealogy bloggers, how can you legally use the fabulous Getty images in your blog posts to both improve its style and visual impact and thank and support Getty Images for the use of their images?

It is simple. 

  1. Follow the rules completely.   Embed the image.  Getty gives you the code.  NEVER copy an image and include it in your posts.  Embed only.  The embed html code provides the links to Getty and the other social sharing tools they want you to use as part of their licensing agreement.  Read their FAQ, “Working with embedded images” before you do anything.
  2. Find the image you want to use by going to GettyImages.com
    1. Mouse over the image that you want to use.
    2. Click on the embed icon on the bottom right. </> getty_embed_icon_arrow
    3. Copy the “Embed this image” code from the popup window.getty_embed_code
    4. Paste it in your blog post by selecting the HTML button or tab.

That’s it.  Add some HTML code if you want to center it, etc., but it is just that easy.

Everyone wins.  You get wonderful images for your non-commercial blog and Getty gets a lot of exposure and links to their site which result in increased sales of their products.

Posted 30 August 2014 by Lee R. Drew on the Lineagekeeper's Genealogy Blog

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Massive U.S. Obituary Collection Added To FamilySearch

FamilySearch has partnered with GenealogyBank.com to add their massive U.S. Obituary Collection to FamilySearch.obituaries
The collection currently consists of 506,812 searchable images.  The FamilySearch Wiki notes that the collection is an "index to obituaries from thousands of newspapers throughout the United States."
Given the breadth of the digitized newspapers held by NewsBank from across the U.S. and through time, it is easy to project that the total collection may possibly consist of hundreds of millions of obituaries if all of it is eventually published on FamilySearch.
fs_us_obits_hdr
As all genealogists know, obituaries are genealogy gold.  They typically contain a wealth of family history information.   The NewsBank collection is extremely valuable to researchers, not only due to the sheer probable volume of records in the collection but also because of the record extract design they've used.   Obituaries a presented complete with its full source and a full extract of the obituary.
newsbank_obituary
FamilySearch notes that the collection should be cited as:  “United States, GenealogyBank Obituaries, 1980-2014.” Index. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : accessed 2013. Citing NewsBank, Inc., Naples, Florida.

Our deep appreciation goes out to NewsBank, FamilySearch and those who are bringing this collection to us as genealogy researchers.  We understand and comprehend its value to our community and express our appreciation for it.
Posted 28 Aug 2014 by Lee Drew on the Lineagekeeper’s Genealogy Blog

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Grandchildren, Ancestors and YouTube

Sterile facts and dates doesn’t elicit much interest in genealogy in the hearts andship minds of our digital world grandchildren.   They live in a world of always on digital eyes into almost anywhere or anything.  Static pages of names, dates and places not only make their eyes cross, but they put them to sleep.

I’ve told ancestral stories to our grandchildren all of their lives.  Their ancestors come to life in their minds based on the words in my stores.  When I show them the same information on my website, the dreaded eyelid closer syndrome launches and its lights out.

It is important for them to have a sense of their place in history both of the world but especially in their ancestral tree.  They love the stories but relating them to historical events didn’t happen in the process.

What tools could I use to bridge the gap between facts and the scenes that the stories evoked in their minds and turn them into long lasting loved memories?

The answer was actually simple.  Turn the stories into movies on YouTube.  The solution captures the facts, stories, technology and long lasting scenes in one.

My wife and I invite sets of our grandchildren to spend time with us every summer based on ages and sex.  By the end of the summer, all of them have spent time with us and with their cousins in the same age range.  We add couple of gatherings a year that includes everyone, even busy parents, to keep familial relationships, giggles, food and fun functioning as it should in a family.

When our older granddaughters were with us, I scheduled a ‘grandpa’ day for one day of their visit.  I told them that I wanted to work with them to create a video for YouTube about one of their favorite ancestral stories. 

It was the right way to further engage them in our family history.

  • We wrote the script on a shared Google Doc using a laptop and their tablets.
  • We chose speaking parts for everyone and created another Google Doc listing the color coded voice actors names and changed the corresponding lines in the script to the correct color.
  • We found many of the photos, document images and graphics that we wanted to use.
  • Late in the evening, we recorded the voice files using the free app, Audacity.
  • We used the free app, Irfanview to crop images and put names and dates on them.
  • We stored our audio digital files on Google Drive, DropBox and OneDrive accounts along with the backup copy of the Windows Movie Maker template we created..
  • After the young folks completed their stay, I assembled the parts using Windows Movie Maker and posted the video on YouTube.  

Along the way but still based on a ‘free’ solution for tools used to create the project, we learned some lessons. 

  1. We needed a better microphone
  2. The voice lines for the narrator needed to be broken down into shorter lines both for editing and for voice inflection work.
  3. It takes a lot of time to find Public Domain images and to gather the pertinent genealogy documents that you want to use in the video.
  4. Editing shared Google Docs is easy and our young ladies quickly polished their script working on it together.
  5. The free software tools we selected worked pretty well.  The kids could use them in the future for all kinds of projects in school and in their online social lives.  Even starving students will be able to create good digital products with them.
  6. You can’t assemble a video out of images, audio files and video files using the Video Manager on YouTube.  You have to build it first and then upload it.  The Video Manager gives you a full set of tools to add tags, ratings, balloons and other enhancements to your video.
  7. We laughed too much while writing the lines and recording them.  No, wait.  That wasn’t a problem!  That was a big part of the fun and the reason for the project in the first place.
  8. The most important discovery.  Making a video about your ancestors with grandchildren is a joy, especially when they do most of the work!  Trust me on this.  Give them concept of the desired output, the story(ies), reserved time, snacks, and love and they’ll turn your sterile facts and images into magic. 

The video about some of the adventures in the lives of our ancestors, Charles Joseph Gordon Logie and Rosa Clara Friedlander has been published on YouTube. If you want to entice your young folks into the wonderful world of Family History, consider a similar solution.  I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the results.

Death of George Radcliffe Hutchison in World War II

Memorial Day enticed me to spend time looking for information about a distantHutchison_George_Radcliffe cousin who I assumed had died as a result of action in World War II.   Facts proved his death, but it wasn't due to battle but was due to the war.

George Radcliffe "Hutch" Hutchison was born on 2 Jul 1917 in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania to Gerald Milwood and Helen Ewing Radcliffe Hutchison.   His father was an interior decorator who opened his own store that was popular in the area around Pittsburgh.  

When old enough both George and his younger brother, Robert went to work in the store.    George was a salesman and Robert took care of ordering, stocking and shipping.  The family business had grown into a success when on a Sunday morning in early December 1941, America was attacked by Japan at Pearl Harbor and at other locations in the Pacific arena.

On 27 Mar 1942, George enlisted in the Army Air Corps in Pittsburgh.   By the end of the war, he was a 1st Lieutenant in the Corps flying a B-29B-60-BA Superfortress. 

You can imagine the celebration that occurred with his air crew when VJ Day was announced on 2 Sep 1945.   The war was finally over on all fronts.   None of them realized it was the last day of their lives.

 

b-29b-superfortress

 

They were ordered to fly a mercy mission taking supplies to Osaka for U.S. POW's.  The huge B-29 took off only to experience mechanical trouble a few hours after takeoff.  They radioed that they were returning to the Northwest Air Field on Guam and everything looked fine until the landing.  The big craft swerved at just as it was touching down causing a wing to clip a tree which resulted in a huge explosion.   Breaking in two, the three gunners in the back of the plane escaped the fire although one of them subsequently passed away.  The pilots and remained of the crew all perished in the flames.

Their bodies were interred on Guam until March 1949 when they were moved to the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu.

George never returned home to his wife and family.   Nor did the other eight men who died in the crash.  The war was over but it was still claiming victims, a theme that unfortunately continued for many years after the active cessation of battle.

The other crew members who lost their lives on that September day were:

  • 1st Lt. Lester R Nahouse
  • Capt. Lewis D Town
  • Capt. James O. Clark
  • Sgt Thomas C. Passarello Flight Engineer
  • 2nd Lt. William E Bradley
  • 2nd Lt. Carl W. Strait
  • 2nd Lt. Robert H. Yost
  • Sgt. Leonard V Steveson
  • Sgt. Melvin E Berkey

 

Map picture

 

Sources:

  • U.S. World War II Enlistment Records
  • U.S. Veteran's Gravesites
  • Find-a-grave
  • U.S. Census Records
  • U.S. World War II Army Enlistment Records

Unique Names and Cousin Teams

All genealogists hope to find that they had ancestors with unique names. team

Why? 

So we can trace them.  It's a lot easier to find Americus Vespucius Tirrill than it is to find William Bennett or Elizabeth Smith. 

I hoped that the name Isaac LeFever would be prominently displayed on census, marriage, land and other records but alas, the 'correct' Isaac only appears once along with my cousin Agnes Bennett on a census record.  Forty hours of focus haven't found a further recorded trace of ether of them.  Other folks have speculated about their whereabouts, death years and family, but unfortunately, all they have done is spin a tale without any proof based on reality.

It isn't unusual to not find records about an ancestor.  We all have holes in our ancestral trees for that reason.  In the case of Isaac, he and Agnes have remained elusive over a period of thirty years of searches by several of us cousins working together.  As a group, our team has proven to be a fairly formidable puzzling solving unit, but alas, we have sent far too many "NJ" (no joy) emails to each other in the quest for Isaac and Agnes.

It looks like another trip to local libraries and records in Ohio will be required in this case.  Between the members of our team, we have subscriptions to all of the major and most of the minor records sites online as well as easy access to all of the major family history research libraries in the U.S., yet all of these resources have only provided 'goose eggs' to date.

We have over 500 years of research experience between us.  There aren't many if any research tricks and tools that we haven't employed.  We know that the couple existed.  The were clearly recorded in the 1880 census.  Were they listed by their little known names during the conversation with the census enumerator?   Possibly.  We've looked at the records of every LeFever in a 200  mile radius of their home location in the census without finding them again.  

Folks moved with some frequency in that day when new land became available to homestead.  We've surfed the waves of westward expansion.  We've retraced their probable routes back to the birth states they reported in the census.  We exhausted the records about their known family records hoping to find a trace of them.   "NJ" notes have been mailed in every case.

Eventually one of us will find them after looking at the problem through a different window.  It will happen.  The team is like a pack of junk yard dogs looking for their favorite bone.  Once the hunt began, it is impossible to call it off.  We've tasted 'blood' too many times in impossible quests in the past to give up on the trail of our prey when we've had such a strong scent to mark the trail.

Cousin teams are wonderful.  We bring a wealth of unique perspectives, skills and resources to the table.  Well functioning cousin teams magnify these resources.   In our team, the sum of our research acumen and success is not directly proportional to the linear values of our respective skills and resources but are rather multiplied far exceeding Orwell's 2 + 2 = 5 dogma into real synergetic magic.

We laugh at times wishing that we enjoyed more common ancestral lines.  Not only does the team enjoy a huge success rate but we have a lot of fun working together.  Imagine your birthday present being the focused research of a seasoned team all working to crack 'your' genealogy brick wall.   Sometimes we fail but typically the walls fall into a pile of pulverized dust.   Once the keystone plug is removed, the structure falls en masse.

The team finds itself with a brick wall today in the case of Isaac and Agnes, but the wall will fall eventually just as soon as we find that single weak brick  or fact that has held it intact thus far.  Once it is removed, the story of their lives will flow forth for the enjoyment of all of our family.

If you aren't already a member of a cousin research team, find one or create one.  The communication and data sharing tools that grant almost instant feelings of success are are readily available.  Try it Mikey.  You'll love it!

Cousin Lost in a Snow Storm

My 2nd cousin, James Lawrence Ashton, was a lineman for Utah Power and LightAshton James Lawrence Company in the early years of the Twentieth Century.   Utility linemen frequently engage in activities to keep the power on that 99% of society would never consider doing of their own free will. 

Think about it.  When a major storm or disaster happens somewhere, who do we see in the television coverage of the event?  The reporter, cameraman, police, fire and medical personnel and power company line and ground men.  Linemen are involved in even more nasty weather conditions than those in the 'big' events.  They are constantly called out in the nastiest weather conditions to repair downed power lines so the rest of us stay warm in well-lit homes.

Early in 1951, the power line that crossed the mountain from the hydro generationAshton Lawrence lost snowstorm2 plant at Snake Creek, Utah to American Fork Canyon in Utah County, failed during a record breaking snowstorm.    The line failure caused the voltage in Utah County to sag due to storm and cold related line loading.  it was dark.  It was cold.  People used more power and part of the supply wasn't available, so voltage sank until sections of the system was systematically turned off to protect the rest of the customers.  The related power outages weren't acceptable in those weather conditions.

On Monday night, two power company linemen, Alma Earl and Lawrence Ashton, started walking the line route on snowshoes from the American Fork side to slog through over 5 ft of new snow looking for the downed wires.  By late that night, they still hadn't returned home nor contacted the power company dispatcher.     Concern mounted that the men had become trapped in the record breaking snowfall.   Tuesday came and went and there was still no contact from the men.  On Tuesday evening the two families started calling asking for volunteers to go look for the missing men.  Just as the rescue party started to organize, the men returned home.

The severe snow storm had brought the lines down in multiple locations and the repairs took a lot longer than the men had anticipated before they left early Monday morning.  They spent the night in a ranger's cabin protected from the weather and finished the repair work before walking back down from the top of the mountain pass to the valley far below.

Rescuers on both sides of the mountain were quickly notified of the safe return of the two men. 

Why is the story so interesting to me?  My father was a lineman.  I managed linemen and construction crews for years.  I know of the bravery and hard work that this group of folks do to keep the power flowing to our homes.   Beyond that, even though I had a photo of my cousin Lawrence Ashton, I had little knowledge of he and his family.   The storm story added a lot of context in my mind about his life and the lives of his family.  We shared common reference points and to a degree, similar events in our lives due to our common occupations.

Genealogy research isn't just about names, dates and places.   They are only theAshton Lawrence lost snowstorm3 base framework in the lives of our ancestral family.  It's the stories that add the flesh to the barebones fact.   It's the stories that bring them to life in our minds.  It's the stories that make them memorable.  Be sure you are searching for the stories while you look for your ancestors.  The stories will make your ancestors real in the minds of your children and grandchildren too.

Broken Headstones Need A Little TLC

Visiting cemeteries before Memorial Day unfortunately revealed many broken tombstones.  Broken stones littered the grass as testaments to the rampage of a couple of bad egg teenage boys.  The reasons for brain-dead characterless young males is a theme for another discussion.  Unfortunately, others of that ilk had similarly devastated tombstones in the same cemeteries numerous times in previous years.

How do cemetery sextons and workers repair shattered sandstone markers?   Even when repaired, do they have any promise of a long life?  Possibly, but the loss of structural integrity will result in early failures in their projected life span.

It is hard to add just the right amount of epoxy glue to the broken seams of a tombstone.  The epoxy resin and hardening agent expand when mixed.  Only a little of mixture is needed between the faces of the broken stone. Misjudging the amount needed results in permanent waterfalls of adhesive on the faces of the stone.  A lot of experience with the adhesive product is needed by the person making the repairs if they are to minimize the adhesive overflow issue.   Hopefully that experience is missing in the life of the repair person because the headstones in their cemetery haven’t been damaged by vandals and equipment.

We appreciate the repairs of any broken headstone.  Without them, the pieces of the stone would be lost to us almost immediately.  With them, our ancestors still have a grave marker that will last for a decade or more if it was properly repaired giving us time to replace the broken marker.

Have the tombstones for your ancestral families been similarly broken or damaged?   If they were repaired are the repairs holding them together OK?  Did the adhesive overflow?  Were any of the pieces lost before the repairs were made?

 

Hoggard Jedidah headstone

Friday, August 22, 2014

Why Genealogists Should Use ACME Mapper

Genealogists are always looking at maps and for mapping tools that help them find locations related to the lives and stories of their ancestors.  As a single category, I've saved more map related bookmarks than for any other topic.  Why?  Because of my need to understand how locations related to events in the lives of the people at the focus of my research.

My most frequently used mapping site is ACME Mapper.  Mapper includes a number of tools that help in research including a location feature name search tool. 

 

acmemapper_control

 

For example: Finding small rural cemeteries is often impossible on normal mapping sites, yet is relatively easy using the tools on Mapper.

 

acmemapper_standardmap

 

If I needed to look for the location on a Topo map, that format is only a click away.

 

acmemapper_topo

 

Satellite photos often help us find features like cemeteries but we have to spend a lot of time scrolling across surface images to to find the feature.  In the case of cemeteries or locations that are dependent on visual topographical clues, photos from space don’t necessarily show features that we recognize unless we accidentally happen across the exact location in the photo.

 

acmemapper_moraycemetery

 

Standard maps offer no references to this cemetery.  Mapper usually comes to the rescue with it plethora of tools and map types.

Mapper includes the marker, links and tools that are familiar to us on other mapping sites, plus a lot more.

 

acmemapper_maptypes

acmemapper_links

acmemapper_options

 

 

Try ACME Mapper in your own ancestral quest and see if you also appreciate its power.  It will probably become one of the most used tools in your genealogy quiver.