Category Archives: How-to

Now That Was Embarrassing!

thankfulSometimes I am thankful that most of my “Genealogy Finds” are ones that no one else will find out about. At least not until I am gone and they inherit all my research. Today I found a mistake in my paternal family tree. You could say it was an honest mistake on my part, but it was a mistake nevertheless.

I must admit that lately I have been too busy to spend quality time working on busyGenealogy. I have written a third book that has nothing to do with Family History. It has taken up almost all my normal research time. As a result, I have divided my trees into groups of ancestors so I can work on them more efficiently. So, with my “spare” time this morning I decided to work on my Strother line.

Beverley Strother Randolph is my 4th cousin 4 times removed. Born July 17, 1851 and died February 5, 1929 I didn’t have much more information other than that about her! Image my surprise when I found her marriage information. According to their marriage license Beverley married Mary Strother Jewett on April 20, 1882! I was so confused. After all this was the 19th Century, this was not done.

shockedUpon further research, I discovered that Beverley was not a female as I had assumed. Just because he had a feminine sounding name I had entered his gender wrong. I have heard of other males with this name but it never struck me that this may be his case when I added him to the tree. After correcting his gender and finishing my other updates I began to wonder what other mistakes like this one have I made.

There are a lot of names that could be used for either gender. Take my name for instance. Here in the States, Valerie is a feminine name, but in Russia it is a male name. My youngest son’s name is Starr which can be used for either gender. Names like Chris, Angel, Terry or Kelly can also be for either one.

I guess now I should find the time to take a second look through my trees to make sure that I haven’t made this mistake anywhere else!

 

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, crafter, reader, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: http://tinyurl.com/Your-Family-History and http://tinyurl.com/Genealogy-Research-Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

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Filed under Ancestry, Corrections, Documentation, Family History, Family Search, Genealogy, Hints, How-to, Mistakes, Names, Oddities, Personal Stories, Research, Uncategorized

Look What I Found Cleaning Up My Trees!

I have a tendency of working mainly on my Dad’s side of the family. I had a horrible relationship with my Mother due to her mental problems. I believe this is the reason I dosmith not feel compelled to really dig deep into my “Smith/McGowan” side. When I first started using Ancestry.com for my main Family Trees site I was still new in the Genealogy world. I was one of those people who thought the information I found in an ancestors file was correct, so I spent months adding any and all data I found to my trees. I added thousands of names all the way back to 500’s.

When I became a Professional Genealogist, I learned about documentation and citing source information and I realized the mistake I made by doing that. I have literally spent the last several years cleaning up my trees in between jobs. I felt pretty confident that I had done a great job. That is until yesterday.

-Citation_needed-I got one of those “shaky leaf’s” attached to an ancestor on my Mothers’ side. It led to another one, then another one and soon I was making an unsettling discovery. Apparently, I had grossly neglected cleaning up this side of the family! I spent many hours deleting name after name! As I was doing this I found that not only had I added unsubstantiated ancestors but also people who were not even related to me. I have read lots of posts about these but I had never seen any before. Here are 4 that I found.

James Everett Shoaf

1882–1948

husband of 2nd cousin of wife of 3rd cousin 2x removed

 

William B Howard

–1934

husband of aunt of wife of 3rd cousin 2x removed

 

Raymond Wallendorff

1930–2000

husband of 1st cousin 1x removed of wife of 3rd cousin 2x removed

 

Lula Reimers

1885–1940

wife of nephew of wife of brother-in-law of 2nd cousin 3x removed

 

I must admit, I had a good laugh when I read these. Although I enjoyed the humor in thislaughing girl I really wish I would have known about not adding information that have no proof or sources cited to my trees. It was a good lesson to learn  and I gladly pass it on to anyone who will listen.

Have you ever added someone to your tree with making sure they belonged?

 

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, crafter, reader, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: http://tinyurl.com/Your-Family-History and http://tinyurl.com/Genealogy-Research-Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

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Filed under Ancestry, Corrections, Documentation, Family History, Family Search, Genealogy, Hints, How-to, Research, Shaky Leaf, Source Citations, Uncategorized

“Hot Topic” Genealogy

HottopicsIt is always amazing to see how much society has changed in the last few hundred years. What is the “norm” for today was taboo a century ago and what was accepted 200 years ago seems unimaginable today. Throughout history there has always been a “Hot Topic” in each generation. Topics such as the Suffrage Movement, Religious Freedoms, Slavery, Prohibition, Wars etc. Today we are hard pressed to find out how our ancestors felt about these issues or if any of them actively supported or opposed them. Unless our ancestor was “famous” for their stand we may never know.

We can make assumptions on some of their beliefs by how they lived. Take for instance civil war battlesthe Civil War. If your ancestor fought for the North, you can assume they were anti-slavery and if they fought for the South they were pro-slavery. Also if they owned slaves you can assume that they believed in it and if they didn’t they were opposed. Some of the “topics” were not so obvious.

If we are lucky we can find membership information, letters, affiliations or other documents that can provide a glimpse into our ancestors’ stance on the issues of their day. However, most of us will never find these gems. We are left wondering if they had any opinion at all. This brings us to our own time in the genealogical timeline.  We have so many “Hot Topics” today that in a hundred years our future generations will wonder where we stood and why.

New scans15I am of the belief that I want to leave as much information for our future generations as possible. Not only about our ancestral line but also of the times in which we live. I have started writing about some of my beliefs, my stands on social issues and any participation’s I have had for or against those issues. To be quite honest I have picketed for one issue and I have picketed against another. I have participated in rallies and marches. I have appeared on local and National television, radio programs, been a Conference Speaker and featured in magazines and newspapers as an expert on one issue. I want my Great Grand-kids to know their Great Grandma held strong opinions on certain subjects and she wasn’t afraid to let others know how she felt. I am trying to be fair and explain both sides of the issues and express why I chose the side I did.

 

What “Hot Topics” do you have an opinion or belief on? Have you gotten involved fighting for or against that Topic? Think about leaving your experiences behind for those coming after you.

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, crafter, reader, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: http://tinyurl.com/Your-Family-History and http://tinyurl.com/Genealogy-Research-Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

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Filed under Ancestry, Civil War, Family History, Family Search, Famous, Genealogy, Hints, History, Hot Topic, How-to, Memories, Next Generation, Personal Stories, Story telling, Uncategorized, Write Your Story

Don’t “Pigeon Hole” Yourself

Pigeon HoleTo “Pigeon Hole”: to assign to a definite place

What do I mean when I say “Don’t Pigeon Hole Yourself”? In this Blog I am referring specifically to our ethnic background. Unless you have taken a DNA test you really do not know your complete ethnic makeup. We can assume what race we are by some obvious factors like color of our skin, texture of our hair or where we were born. We can even say we look the same as our Grandparents so therefore I am ______! However the farther back we go in our Family Tree the greater the possibility that we may discover some surprising revelations.

Growing up I was told I was of Irish and American Indian descent.  To begin my search I only had my parents, all 4 Grandparents and my Maternal Great Grandparents names. When I started researching my Family History I spent a tremendous amount of time looking mostly at Irish Genealogy sites or the Dawes Rolls. I became frustrated when I would spend hours searching and finding nothing of value. Then hours turned into days and I would eventually give up.  Once I started using Family Search and Ancestry.com for my research I was able to find more information on my family. To my surprise I have found no evidence that I am of American Indian blood.  I have also discovered that I am of Irish descent, but I am also Scottish, English, Welsh, German, French, Canadian and Swedish. I am sure that as I continue searching farther back through time I will discover even more diverse ethnic associations.

Lori's Great Grandmother, Grandmother, and her Mother are in this picture.

Lori’s Great- Grandmother, Grandmother, and her Mother are in this photo.

Here is a case in point. My husband’s cousin Lori had always assumed that she was full blooded Hispanic. After I researched herfamily tree I discovered that she was also Irish (1800’s), German (1800’s), Polish (1700’s) and Apache Indian (1900’s). To say that she was surprised is an understatement. To look at her you would never know that she was actually only about one-third Hispanic. She had tried to find her “roots” several years ago with no luck. I found out that she had only searched for her family in Mexico!

This “Pigeon Holing” can also be applied to your religious background. Many religions such as Baptists, Latter Day Saints, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Assemblies of God, Methodists and the Bahá’í Faith have all been started in the last 400 years. So regardless of which religious group you belong to it is quite possible that the farther back in time you are able to search, you have a greater chance that your Ancestors believed or belonged to a religion much different than what you are today. Do not hesitate to search the church records of different religions; you may be surprised by what you may find.

By branching out from our self imposed “Pigeon Holing” a whole new world of Ancestors may open up for us.

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, crafter, reader, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

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Filed under Ancestry, Family History, Family Search, Genealogy, Hints, How-to, Mexican Ancestry

9 Hints for Better Genealogy Interviewing

clip-art-interviewing-Hopefully at some time during the research of our family history we will have the opportunity to talk with an older generation relative. The thought of “interviewing” someone can be a little intimidating. Here are some hints that can make it easier.

HINT: If possible, mail or email your relative a list of the questions you intend to ask ahead of time. Also ask them if they may have any photos they could share with you. This gives them a chance to really think about the answers or even to look up information that they may have. Who knows, they may be sitting on a gold mine of old pictures and documents?

list

HINT: When making the list of questions you want to ask, place the ones you feel are the most important at the top. Then continue with your questions arranging them from most important to the ones that don’t really matter if they do not get answered. Be as specific as you can. Remember the interviewee can’t read your mind so they may not know or understand what kind of information you actually want from them.

HINT: While conducting the interview try not to respond to the person while they are talking. I have done a lot of counseling throughout my life. One thing you do while listening to the other person is to say something like “uh huh” or “Okay” so they know you are actively listening to them. This does not work when interviewing! When I interviewed my in-laws I wasn’t thinking about me responding to them during it. When I got home and I listened to the tape I could hear these annoying little phrases and even a weird giggle that I did when something was funny. It was distracting while trying to transcribe the tapes and at a couple of points I missed a word or two because I was responding as they spoke. Just be aware that you are taping and every noise will be recorded.

HINT: Interviews can be a little scary to both the interviewer and the interviewee. It is best to try to start with questions that are easy to answer, just to put the other person at ease. Fact based questions are usually the best kind to start with. They don’t require too much thinking and can set the flow for the rest of the interview. Just remember to ask questions that are non-threatening or at least ask them in a non-threatening way. An example would be, don’t ask about your Uncles affair with a waitress that resulted in a child, a divorce and a scandal. You can ask something like “How many children did Uncle “Bob” have altogether?” This gives the interviewee the opportunity to answer the question giving information they feel comfortable with and possibly giving you the story of your Uncle. You don’t want to ask any questions that may insult your family. A side note here is: if you know this relative well enough to ask these kinds of questions then go for it. I would first ask if they felt comfortable answering questions about uncomfortable events.

HINT: When preparing your list of questions the best thing to do is to take a look at the family line of the person you will be interviewing. How are they related to you? Next take the time and write down any questions you have from this line. Are there any holes you would like filled in? Any dates, locations or names that are missing? Unless this person is also into Genealogy they may not know much information past 2 or 3 generations. So try to concentrate on developing questions covering just a few generations back. The goal with creating your family history is to not only know “Who” your Ancestors are but “How” they lived. The more you know about them the better rounded your family history will be.

tape-recorder

HINT: When recording it is good to begin your interview by stating the date, location, and the persons’ name you are interviewing. This way if you don’t get it transcribed quickly you will not have to try to remember the “who, what, or where”.

HINT: It is important to find a place where you and the interviewee can be comfortable and have some privacy. All interviews should be on a one to one basis. Otherwise things can get confusing or background noise can make it hard to hear answers, both in person and on tape. When I interviewed my in-laws a few years ago we set everything up in their living room. I recorded my Mother-in-law first then my Father-in-law. My husband was also present. The first interview went great. When it was my Father-in-laws turn it became quite apparent why you should only have only one person present during an interview. My Mother-in-law carried on a conversation with my husband (he did try to keep it quiet and asked her to stop a couple of times), she would correct my Father-in-laws answers and she even made a phone call during the interview.  When I got home and began to transcribe the tapes I had a difficult time deciphering several of my Father-in-laws answers.

Question mark

HINT: Be prepared that there may be some questions that you may ask that the person does not want to answer. Some memories can be painful and are not easy to talk about. Do not press the issue. Just move on graciously. The person you are interviewing will appreciate it and who knows, they may just decide to answer the question later on because of your considerate reaction.

HINT: If there is no way you are able to record the interview then you should try to take good notes. Still use your list of questions so you keep on track. When I visited some cousins in Missouri I had my list of questions and was thoroughly prepared to tape the interview. However, once we got there I realized it wouldn’t be possible. They had prepared dinner for my husband and I so the first hour was just eating. Then we all sat around the kitchen table and talked. There was my Cousin, his new wife, his 3 daughters and their families. There were too many people to record comfortably. So I just asked questions, took notes, and enjoyed myself.

Remember: Sometimes the stories a person will tell during this time are worth more than having all your questions answered. So be flexible. If you have asked the most important questions first then let the person reminisce.

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, crafter, reader, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

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Filed under Ancestry, Family History, Family Search, Genealogy, Hints, How-to, Interviewing

Writing About The Historical Events That Occurred During Your Lifetime

Mary Lynn Elementary School

Mary Lynn Elementary School

When I was 8 years old we lived in a house that was located on a dirt road just outside the Tucson city limits. We used to get the neighborhood kids together and play kickball in the street. One time when it was my turn at the plate, I kicked the ball and it went to the left and I ran to first base which was to the right. The ball hit a rock and bounced to the right directly under my feet. I fell over the ball and ended up with a large rock embedded in my knee. I had to have several stitches and the Doctor instructed me not to run. At school they made me sit in the office during recess and lunch because I had a hard time not running when I was outside.

I vividly remember the day I was sitting on the couch in the office when the principle, Mrs. Reineke came running into the room. She said something in a whisper to the receptionist who immediately turned pale and began to cry. The office door opened and in came several of the teachers and aides. They wheeled in a television on a large rolling stand and plugged it in. One of the aides pulled the shade down over the window of the door that lead from the hallway into the office. Everyone gathered around the set.

I heard the gasps of the adults as the News Anchorman announced that President John Fitzgerald Kennedy had been shot

President John F. Kennedy

President John F. Kennedy

while riding in a motorcade through the streets of Dallas Texas.  I could hear some of the teachers crying softly, tears rolling down their cheeks. After what seemed like an eternity to me the Anchorman then announced that President Kennedy had died from his wounds at Parkland Memorial Hospital. The room erupted in sobs and outrage. All I could do was cower back as far as I could on the couch and cover my ears. I had never known anyone who had died before so I wasn’t sure what it meant, all I did know was it was a horrible thing that just happened.

Several minutes later the room quieted down and Mrs. Reineke began instructing the teacher on how to tell their pupils about the death of our President. She suddenly stopped mid-sentence and got a surprised look on her face. All the teachers turned to follow her gaze which had fallen upon me. In all the uproar no one had noticed that I was there. She immediately came over and lifted me in her arms. This made me begin to cry, more from confusion than anything else. She sat down and held me on her lap and explained to me what had just happened. Sadness like I had never known fell over me.

JFK Newspaper clippingAfter all the teachers had left Mrs. Reineke asked the receptionist to go and get me an ice cream from the cafeteria. She then told me that none of the other children knew about what happened and that when we all return to our classes the teachers were going to give us the news. She told me not tell anyone. When the bell rang I left the office and went to meet up with my class at the water fountain outside our classroom. Remember, I am an 8 year old girl with a heavy secret. One that was too heavy to keep. After taking a drink from the fountain I turned around and informed the student behind me that the President had been shot and he had died. She was not the only one who heard me and the next thing I knew there were several kids crying. Yes, I did get in trouble from my teacher.

This was a terrible time for our Country. President Kennedy was very well liked and he had done a lot of good while he was in office. On the day of the Presidents funeral the entire school went into the Auditorium and watched it on television. Most of us were too young to realize that we were having a firsthand look at an historic moment.

I will ever forget where I was when Kennedy got shot; do you remember where you were? We experience so many Historical Moments in our lives and this gives us an opportunity to write what we see, feel or believe concerning these events. Spend some time and think of all the changes that have happened in your lifetime, think about some Major event that took place that impacted you in some way. Now write about it. Let’s all leave our own accounts of History for our future generations.

 

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, crafter, reader, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

 

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Filed under Ancestry, Arizona, Family History, Family Search, Genealogy, History, How-to

Pinball Genealogy

pinball machineWalking into a Video Arcade you come across an old pinball machine. You decide to take a closer look so you move in and to your surprise the machine is a Genealogy Pinball Machine! On the backglass you can see what appears to be a Family Tree with a list of unlit research documents on it. You get a little closer and look down at the playfield and you see the names of various documents and lots of blinking lights. This is going to be fun! You insert a couple of quarters and the balls roll out into the plunger. The first ball goes flying onto the playfield. Rolling down towards the bottom you hit the flippers and it makes contact with the ball. It shoots back up the field and hits “Death Certificate”, lighting it up and scoring 100 points. It then bounces over to “Wills” also lighting it up and scoring 50 point. You continue playing until you run out of balls. When the game is finished you look at the backglass to see your score, an impressive 10,000 points. But wait, not all of the documents names have been lit up. You missed some during the game. Now what? You pop in more quarters and try again. The outcome is the same so you decide to give up.

This is how it can be in our own research time. You decide which Ancestor you want to work on and you begin your search.Hazel Clara Hughes Vickery DC You find a Death Certificate for Great-Grandma Iva. How exciting as you have searched several times before with no luck. So you continue to search and you find her Obituary. More excitement as the clipping includes her parents’ names and her childrens name. You immediately do a search for Great-Great Grandpa Chuck finding his Marriage Certificate to Mary. You discover that Mary has a very unusual last name so the hunt begins for any documents for her. Eureka! You found her in the 1840 Census along with her parents and siblings. The search continues looking for each new Ancestor that you stumble upon.

Elsie May Willard obitWhen you are finished you realize that the only documents you found for Great-Grandma Iva was her Death Certificate and Obituary. You got side tracked adding all the new information you found on the other Ancestors. It is like a pinball machine. You hit one target and it immediately bounces off, taking you in a totally different direction. You continue this way until the game is over and you find there are still a lot of missed documents and information. What can you do to avoid this pinball trap?

When you sit down to do research, do it with a purpose. Take the time to really look at what information you already have on the chosen Ancestor and make a list of what else you need to fill in the blanks. Stick to the list until you have run out of places to search. While you are examining the documents, if you find new information on another Ancestor, make a note of it so you can go back to it. They have Research Logs available for free at a lot of sites; you can use one of those or create your own. Each person does research in a different way so do what works for you.

Remember our main goal in creating our Family Tree is to make it as complete and accurate as possible. This is done with documents and other vital information. Keeping on track will help you fill in those blanks and make our trees bloom!

Click here to get various research log forms http://tinyurl.com/lyq4sbf

 

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, crafter, reader, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Ancestry, Family History, Family Search, Genealogy, History, How-to