Friday, January 30, 2015

Not So Nice Ancestors

One of the joys of genealogy is finding information about your ancestors thatking_bad provides insight into their lives and personalities.   Letters, documents and other stories written by or about them are treasured discoveries.  We are elated when we find them.  We read them to other family members and friends.   We often give them higher praise than the straight “A” report cards that our children bring home. 

Really?  Praise them higher than our child’s achievements?

Well, yes at times we do.  Not consciously but because we know our kids and expect big things from them.  We don’t know almost all of our ancestors and finding any story about them has a cache of perceived value in our ancestrally infected minds.

How do we feel when we find good reputationally challenged stories about our ancestors?

In many cases, their indiscretions don’t run ninety degrees to societal laws and values, but at times we find some real rotters.

Recently, I found information about one of my medieval ancestors in an old scholarly book that described him as being an abomination to the human race, a perversity in the role of a husband and father and tyrant to his people.… Hmmm…  No warm fuzzies there.

I like finding information about ancestors who have infractions with the law because there are records about them but am less enthralled with those that were despots. 

Other ancestral quests have uncovered a medieval grandmother who murdered her husband and a number of her children along with one of her sisters.  The descriptions of their murders is so unpleasant, I won’t include additional reference to them.

We commonly find male ancestors who killed their father, brother(s), cousins and friends to obtain the throne or a leadership position.  They certainly lived in different times than we have enjoyed for the past few centuries in most of the western world. 

Once again we are happy that information exists about our ancestors but wish that they hadn’t been such rotters.

I often pause before sharing information about our more infamous ancestors with our grandchildren.  They certainly provide more stories in our ancestral tree than the ‘normal’ folks but a full diet of their tales of debauchery and murder is a plate best served in extreme moderation.

How did our grandmothers survive their arranged marriages to these villains?  What factors were involved to allow any of the children to grow into peaceful, pleasant and productive people?  Many of them did.  Some of them became Saints, even without all of the accompanying politics.

Fortunately, with all of the unpleasantness comes stories of wonderful folks, living their lives as best they could and at the same time being shining examples of goodness in their communities. 

Sometimes sweet and sour items on the menu are the finest meal.  The same it true in the weave in our ancestral tapestry.

Posted 30 January 2015 by Lee R. Drew on Lineagekeeper’s Genealogy Blog

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Ancestral Recipes

Some of the favorite recipes in our family came from our grandmothers.  Werecipe_book collected as many as we could while our own mothers were alive because they collected them too.  All of our daughters immediately copied the old recipe cards as soon as they were engaged.  They wanted them in their homes too.

Consider collecting your own favorite ancestral recipes too.  They make a great Christmas gift if you print and bind them in some fashion.   Twenty years ago, while stopping in a tiny service station in the mountains above Angel’s Camp, Calaveras County, California, I spotted a little self-published recipe book that was a collection of favorite recipes from the area.  My 2nd great grandparents lived there during the time that most of the records were written down.  My grandfather left home at an early age coming to Utah and had little contact with his family afterward.  He died at a relatively young age and as a result none of Great Grandma Drew’s recipes were passed down to our branch of the family.  

Thanks to the little recipe book treasure that I found by happenstance, we now have some culinary insights into the dishes that grandma prepared for her family.   Wow!  She was a good cook if she used even 10% of the recipes in the book.  Capture and share the recipe treasures from your own family.  It takes time and patience to collect them.  Keep a reminder and list of discoveries on your phone or tablet.

The recipe card on my wife’s recipe box for Zucchini Cake looks too new to be one of the original copies from our first year of marriage.  I don’t know if it has been recopied or if the following recipe is of more recent vintage.  Either way, it is delicious.  Whenever the cake is made in our home, it seems to draw all of the neighbor ladies within minutes of being frosted.  I even get a taste of it if I’m lucky.

Chocolate Zucchini Cake

Ingredients

  • 2 ¼ cups sifted all purpose flour
  • ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 ¾ cups sugar
  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup buttermilk
  • 2 cups grated unpeeled zucchini (about 2 ½ medium)
  • 16 oz package (about 1 cup) semisweet chocolate chips
  • ¾ cup chopped walnuts

Preparation

  • Preheat oven to 325 F.  Butter and flour 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking pan.  sift flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt into medium bowl.  Beat sugar, butter and oil in large bowl until well blended.  Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition.  Beat in vanilla extract.  Mix in dry ingredients alternately with buttermilk in 3 additions each.  Mix in grated zucchini.  Sprinkle chocolate chips and walnuts on the bottom of the pan.  Pour batter on top of the chips and nuts.
  • Bake cake at 325 for about 50 minutes.  Cool cake in the pan.

Frosting

  • About 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa
  • 2 tablespoons butter or margarine
  • Vanilla
  • Enough milk to achieve the consistency you like.

Posted 10 January 2015 by Lee R. Drew on Lineagekeeper’s Genealogy Blog

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Exploring Ancestral Towns Through Photos by Others

I traveled thousands of miles to find ancestral records and explore their homecamera towns and houses, only to have a TSA scanner scramble my digital photos on the way home.  Hundreds of photos of ancestral tombstones and inscriptions were lost along with the photos of their homes, towns and other memorial scenes.  My memory is full of the scenes, sounds, smells and textures of my visit but words alone don’t paint them in the minds of my family like photos do.  I only remember the general information on their tombstones, not the specifics.  How do I restore even a portion of the images to share with my family?

In my case, I lucked out.  When searching for photos of Plymouth, Massachusetts to accompany my verbal tales, I found a distant cousin or cousin-in-law who is a scenic photographer specializing in the scenes in Plymouth and the surrounding area.  Better yet, Janice Drew posts her photos online for sale and she is a master of social sites and online marketing, so the breadth of her collections cover the location scenes that I lost.

Let’s take a tour of some of those scenes through the words from my mind and the camera of Janice.

Plymouth Rock

Many of my ancestors arrived in America aboard the Mayflower, so of course one of our first stops was at Plymouth Rock.

Art Prints

Sell Art Online

Of course we had to stop by the replica Mayflower boat and go aboard.

Sell Art Online

We stopped by the Mayflower Society Library just up the hill and was warmly greeted by the staff.  There were many books on the shelves that further proved my Mayflower lines.  Several other visitors stopped by and within minutes I found that every one of them was my distant cousin.  That must be a common occurrence at that library.

Photography Prints

Burial Hill was the next stop for the day.  I knew that it would take hours to find all of the graves of my ancestors.  I hadn’t anticipated how long I would spend at each tombstone taking photos, reading inscriptions and listening to the echos from the past as I looked out over Plymouth Bay.

Photography Prints

One of the buildings in view adjacent to the cemetery was First Church, where grandpa Atwood preached and served.

Sell Art Online

When stretching my legs after kneeling by grandpa Drew’s tombstone, I turned to my left and saw grandpa Bradford’s marker.

Sell Art Online

If you too have relatives buried on Burial Hill, I highly recommend taking time to visit their graves and to also sit and listen to the breezes of history that float over that locale.

Sell Art Online

The next morning we again started our day near Plymouth Rock.  A stroll along the Town Brook path in Brewster Gardens was in order knowing that my ancestors had walked the ground.

Photography Prints

Walking through the bridge and continuing up hill, we soon exited to find Pleasant Street and the home of my Drew ancestors at number 51.  Arriving at Training Green, we could see the white frame home as seen in the bottom right corner of this photo.

Photography Prints

After taking photos of the home, we continued back up hill to the ‘new’ incarnation of grandpa Jenney’s Grist Mill.

Photography Prints

Sell Art Online

We walked back down hill on Leyden Street to get to our car.

Art Prints

We drove north and then back to the south to get near the Plymouth Light House location where grandpa Churchill commanded a small group of men during the Revolutionary War.

Sell Art Online

The remainder of our stay in Plymouth was spent finding additional ancestral records, exploring the Oak Grove Cemetery to find more graves and of course at the Plimouth Plantation.  

All of the photos were lost.  The loss of the tombstone images hurt the most because of their value to me both as sources and as tokens that evoked extensive memories in my mind my quiet time in the cemeteries. 

Since that time, I’ve found an undeveloped roll of film that contained images of some of the tombstones.  The film camera I had with me was old and inexpensive and the images reflect its lineage, but at least I have the photos.  It is too bad that the digital media with me wasn’t as hardy as the film.

Thanks to Janice, many of my memories of Plymouth are available online to view or buy.  

Have you been similarly blessed by photographers who have captured images of locations associated with your ancestors?

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

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Exploring The Lives of Ancient Ancestors

There are times in our lives when we wake and a realization comes to us that we hurt all overold_garden or that we can’t remember the name of a common object.  We quickly determine that we need to take a pill of one kind or another as a remedy for our maladies.  Within minutes, we’ve swallowed the pill and have moved on with our day.  It’s usually just that easy.

That thought crossed my mind today while I was writing the history of one of my ancient ancestors who died at a relatively young age after a decade of misery due to a variety of ailments.

What did our ancient ancestors do for the pains, maladies and health misfortunes in their lives?  They certainly had herbs and treatments that helped or at least created the illusion of assistance, but most of the time they had to bear their misery in whatever manner their constitution allowed.  

I’ve reached the age when a minor procedure isn’t that uncommon.  The procedures are miracles in truth because in almost every case the issue they fixed would have been terminal back in the days of the ancients.  

When I find records that show that an ancient lived a relatively long life, I look at them with a jaundiced eye.  One of my second great grandfathers lived to be ninety-six.  I know the number to be correct because I’ve verified it with numerous sources including a cross country trip to read the inscription on his tombstone.

It is much harder to verify the age at death of our ancient ancestors.  Their life chroniclers note that they were “old”, “ancient of days” or “achieved that rare age”.  Of course these connotations are relative to the lifespan of that time.  

Several of my grandchildren noted how “old” I am when they visited today.  I looked at them with a furrowed brow because I don’t think I’m very old.  I’m just getting started in seniorhood.  Why would they say that?    Could it be the silver hair and day-of-the-week pill strip?   Could it be the giggles that escape their lips as I try to climb to my feet after sitting on the floor to play a game with them?  Nah.  It must be just their perception of age relative to their short lives.

How did my ancient ancestors accomplish so much in their relatively short lives?  Granted, the only reason I know their names is because they were royalty of one type or another, otherwise, nothing would have been recorded about them.   Sometimes their stories are brief and other times they are fairly long.  The more ‘rotten’ they were in their actions, the greater the collection of facts exist about them.  Do we cheer them for the misdeeds in their lives because they resulted in a paper trail that has bridged the centuries?  I don’t support their misanthropic activities but yes, I do cheer that records exist about them.

From time-to-time I cheer for the goodness exhibited by an ancestor.  They are typically my female ancestors but sometimes the men conducted their lives better than the norm for the time and their station in life.   Some of the ladies were pure saints; not from the biblical or religious perspective but certainly from the way they conducted their lives.   

We find ourselves talking to our computer monitors saying, “Way to go grandma or grandpa!”  We have smiles on our faces when we uncover yet another positive nugget from their lives.  We groan when we read of the misdeeds hoping that a lot if not all of them were committed due to a lack of knowledge or common sense training and not because they were just part of their character.  We growl out loud when it is grandma who “went south” in their life.  “How could you!”  “Ohhh, Man!”   

What stories will we leave for our descendants?  Will any written life record survive across the ages?  Will a digital record survive or will it be lost in the petabytes of data that is generated daily?  Are we living a life in the eye of the public or are we just one of the cast of ‘normal’ folks who live remarkable yet little reported lives that aren’t noted as being extraordinary?  

We all need to record our own stories and be sure that we’ve shared them enough that they have a chance of surviving the decades and centuries ahead.  Hopefully, most if not all of our descendants will be in the “Way to Go” camp rather than on the “Awwww … phooey” side of the fence when they read our stories.  

They won’t cheer or groan if we don’t record our stories though.  Whatever the stories are they will make us real in the minds of our descendants.  They will always be happy to be able to put our stories with our names.  We will be real to them, not just a name and a date.  

Is the title of this post misleading?  It’s all relative.  I’m hoping that those reading this missive eventually will be able to call me their ‘ancient’ ancestor.  How do my stories relate to you my descendants?  Do they depict me on the good or on the bad side of the scale?

Posted 13 Dec 2014 by Lee R. Drew on Lineagekeeper’s Genealogy Blog

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.