Elizabeth Shown Mills lecture on Legacy Family Tree Webinars is offered FREE through October 31st. This is Elizabeth’s LAST LECTURE as she is retiring from lecturing. I will greatly miss her.
Special thanks to reader Tess who responded regarding my earlier blog mentioning problems I encountered with RootsMagic 8. She recommended posting on the RM Users Group on FaceBook so I’d like to pass that tip along if you are having difficulties. Before doing that, I viewed the FREE webinars that are available on YouTube and that solved my issue. More will be coming so here’s the link to register in advance.
The root of my problem was I was trying to reconnect to Ancestry.com due to a pop up on RootsMagic 8. I did not need to do that as the webinar stated if you were already logged into Ancestry.com on RM 7 you would automatically be connected in RM 8. That would explain why the program froze for me. My tree is very large which doesn’t help. I logged out and waited a day. When I logged back in I followed the directions provided on the video and have had no problems since. I absolutely LOVE version 8 – kudos to the RootsMagic staff for their hard work.
If you are doing French research, two changes are in the works. Geneanet.org has been purchased by Ancestry.com and MyHeritage.com has acquired 90% of Filae.com. I’m not sure when databases will roll from the old company to the new one or what you do if you were a member of the old company. I recommend contacting the company for details. MyHeritage did blog about the new content so check that out here. I had a free Geneanet membership and never subscribed to Filae.
New Settings for Links on RootsMagic 8Kind of apropos that RootsMagic decided to unveil their new software during the magical month of October. There are a lot of changes and I have only begun to learn the new software. Here’s my experiences so far…
A week ago Sunday I tried to purchase the new version via a link in an email I received. The link didn’t work. Since I’ve been a long time user of the program and wasn’t a new subscriber, I could simply purchase an update instead of the new version’s software. The prices change beginning on 10/17 so I wanted to take advantage of the special offer.
Since the email link didn’t work I Googled for the product. I was entering my info but when I clicked to complete the transaction I got an error message that my card didn’t go through. I tried again. It still declined. I then got a bank alert that they had put the card on hold – did I really make that purchase? After informing the bank I had, I thought that the transaction would go through.
By the following day it still hadn’t; after checking my credit card and seeing that the bank did not process the payment I went back to the site and tried again. Got the same decline message. I pulled out a different card and it went through with no problem as minutes later I had an email with my confirmation of the order and another email with the download instructions. Don’t understand why the first card didn’t work as I used it before and since with no problem anywhere else.
I went back to the site and tried to download. So far – so good!
The program looks very different. I thought I would try to link with Ancestry.com and download my Main Tree again as I had with the previous version. I knew I was signed out of my RootsMagic 7 link as I had tried that a week earlier and it would not allow me to sign back into Ancestry.
Every time I logged into Ancestry through Version 8 the program would freeze. Sometimes I got a runtime error, sometime I received a message that I was out of space. Other times it just stopped working and I had to shut the program down through Task Manager (control + alt + delete). Unbeknownst to me, Version 8 was moving everything from Version 7. Since my trees have a lot of data and images, this took time. I wish that information had been available because I wasted time over two days to try to get an Ancestry connection.
On the third day I discovered, while poking around the new software, that all of my trees from previous RootsMagic versions had been loaded into 8. I clicked on my largest tree to check to make sure everything had moved. It then asked me again if I wanted to link to Ancestry.com which I wanted. I went to bed before the program finished.
The next day, the program was again frozen. Yes, the Disney musical Frozen is Magical but what I was experiencing was not! I again closed it out and reopened it. I could see photos, which was a plus. Before I started clicking into individuals to verify that stories and research had also been saved, I received the popup at the top of this blog.
So, I followed the instructions above and signed into FamilySearch. I’m not sure how that’s going to work because FamilySearch does not allow you to permanently be signed in unless you have a church membership, which I do not. Maybe there has been a deal cut with RootsMagic that I’m not aware of.
The Ancestry direction is interesting as I would have had to spend a lot of time looking around the site to discover where the update for that was located. I don’t know why it wasn’t under Settings where you’d find the other companies. I also don’t understand why I have to keep signing into Ancestry.
There are several online courses to help users and I intend to view them soon.
If you are new to RootsMagic and this is turning you against buying it, that’s not my intention. I loved the past software and the tech support in the past. I expect it will continue but this new makeover is quite dramatic. This program does permit you to identify any changes you make to your Ancestry.com tree and add to your RootsMagic tree. It was time consuming if you didn’t do it periodically but it was a nice way to save all of your information on your desktop, external hard drive or another cloud in case there is a problem with Ancestry.com.
For the old time users, I’m sure we’ll get the hang of the changes soon; I just wanted to let you know where you used to get linking info is not where it now resides. Patience in genealogy is important and with this change, even more so.
I had a Freaky Thursday. I volunteer at my local historical society on Thursdays and when it’s quiet, I read from their library. I had just discovered a thin paperback, almost of pamphlet size, called The Oldtimers that looked interesting. It was written about 1996 (no publication date) when the group was founded and it contained unsourced responses to the following statement, “You know you’re an Oldtimer when you remember…” I had no idea my small city once had an airfield adjacent to what is now a county park. I didn’t know about the house of ill repute, either. It was a quick read and before I was finished a guest arrived. He was an elderly gentleman who after I greeted him, thanked me for volunteering (I wear a badge). He asked me what I was reading and when I told him he was startled. Evidently, his father had started the Oldtimer group and he didn’t know there had been a book written. He left the area nearly a half century ago and only came back recently to finish the estate of his brother who had recently died. I told him we had a copy in the gift shop but he declined as he was trying to make arrangements to donate and not acquire.
If that wasn’t odd enough, I finished the book and retrieved another one, Yesteryear I Lived in Paradise. I had seen excerpts from this book in a cookbook I looked at last month that had been written by the granddaughters of the Paradise author. The story takes place on an island in the Gulf of Mexico that is south of where I live. I had wanted to write a journal article about a family tragedy in 1921 that happened during a hurricane and thought I might be able to find some information in the book. The title page wasn’t helpful and there was no index (of course). No endnotes. Scanned and found no footnotes. I sighed. I randomly picked a page and Wow – my eyes landed right on the paragraph that named the family I was looking for! I could not believe it. I had to immediately share the news with the museum coordinator.
I first heard the story of this family in September 1995. My youngest was selling the typical junk for his school and we were going door-to-door in our neighborhood. It had been a busy hurricane season and although I don’t recall which hurricane was out there, I decided we needed to get the sales out of the way quickly just in case.
We had moved to our then house in the spring so hadn’t yet met all of the neighbors on our street, which was a long winding drive. About 10 homes from our own, we met an elderly woman who asked what school the fund raiser was for. When my child told her, she said, “The school was named for my family.” We both thought that was pretty neat and I asked her if she was interested in visiting and maybe speaking to the students about her own education in the area. She smiled but declined. Then she began to tell me of the family tragedy. The story haunted me for years.
As with most stories you hear, if you don’t hear them or re-read them again the details become fuzzy. I couldn’t remember if the family was a Garrison or a Jones. This was on my to-do list since it’s the 100th “anniversary” of that great storm but I wasn’t scheduled to submit the article until next spring so I hadn’t looked into it yet. To find it by chance in this large book was just strange.
I also discovered in this brief paragraph why the family was on the island. I’m not disclosing at this time but it was timely to things happening today which gave me even more eebie-jeebies. I am glad I found the information, even if it was rather spooky.
Two weeks ago, two visitors from New York visited my local genealogical society museum and asked me questions I couldn’t provide answers with certainty. I checked with the Coordinator and she said no one knows. I set out to solve the mysteries.
First question was how much was the train fare from New York to Florida? There was a “fast” train that left New York City’s Grand Central and arrived in Tarpon Springs, Florida in 36 hours with only one transfer. Sounds like it should be a simple look up but apparently, no information about ticket prices remains. When I couldn’t find it online I reached out to a Florida state archivist for help. He directed me to a blog by the New York Public Library. I took their advice and began searching old newspapers. I used the Library of Congress Chronicling America, Ancestry’s connection to Newspapers.com, MyHeritage.com and GenealogyBank.com.
I found “special” prices, such as a half price for a round trip from Tampa to Jacksonville during winter holidays. Other reduced fares were given for various organizations, such as Boy Scouts going to camp and church groups going to conventions. There was also marketing gimmicks; the Tampa Merchants Association in November 1913 refunded tickets for a minimum of $1.00 per mile up to 20 miles for out of town shoppers from Plant City, Lakeland and Ft. Myers who had spent at least $20.00 shopping in Tampa. The day to day prices were no where to be found, however.
Train schedules for North America are posted in paperss but with the announcement at the bottom to contact the local ticket agent for prices. Schedules are also found in online books for several years in the late 1800’s through Hathi Trust. Nowhere are the prices listed.
I then turned my search around to read newspaper articles about transportation. I discovered in 1902 that the east coast of Florida rate for travel on the [Henry] Plant Lines was 3 cents per mile while the west coast, on the Atlantic Coast Lines, was 4 cents. The editorial department hoped that a reduced fare for the west coast would occur soon. Freight, as in your baggage or as produce being sent north, rose from 30 cents a box in 1889 to 40 cents a box in 1890. The price never dropped but rose consistently over the years. More editorials bemoaned the high prices farmers had to pay and railed (pun intented) against the 33 1/3% cost increase in one season.
The cost of fare was so near and dear to the west coast community that in 1907, the St. Petersburg Times newspaper refused to endorse R. Hudson Burr, the Florida Railroad Commissioner for Governor, as he had promised six years earlier to reduce fare prices. That hadn’t happened and Burr never won.
Back in my youth, Florida had a high and low season for tourists. That meant prices rose during the high season (fall and winter) and dropped in the low season (spring and summer). Think about it, no one in their right mind would visit the high humidity bug infested state during hurricane season. With air conditioning and insect repellent, people now come all year round. I thought maybe the train fares fluctuated with the season. There did seem to be more “excursions” in the summer months, like the $3.50 from Tampa to Jacksonville in June 1903. It’s about 199 miles and at 4 cents a mile, that would cost $7.96. But Tampa is on the west coast and Jacksonville on the east. The Plant line did go to Tampa and ended at his famous Plant Hotel, now the University of Tampa. If his fare rate was used the cost would have been $5.97 for the trip.
That got me thinking that I needed to check other state fares. The Allentown, Pennsylvania Leader announced the governor had signed a bill for fares of 2 cents per mile in Pennsylvania in April 1907. Fare rates noted in the Buffalo, New York Evening News in 1906 mentioned a bill that reduced rates to 2 cents a mile in the state. I don’t know if the fare rates ended at the state border and then the next state’s rates applied. This was much more complicated than I had initially thought it would be.
It appears that originally the railroad companies set the prices which is logical, as they were trying to recoup their initial investment. It would have taken a lot more work to install lines through swampy Florida than in upstate New York. New York also had alternatives to trains. Their roads were in far better condition than the trails through the west coast of Florida that only could be manuevered by ox cart and when it hadn’t rained, which wasn’t often. Going upriver from New York City to Albany was also not a long and dangerous trip. The other alternative in Florida was taking a ship from a large port, like Tampa, Key West or New Orleans and trying to reach your destination either by foot or steamboat from there. Eventually, though, the state legislatures set prices.
Interestingly, I discovered several newspaper accounts beginning in 1900 that mentioned the special fare offers were “Open to Blacks and Whites.” This led to the next question that the visitors from New York asked – Did people of color ride in the back of the train car (ala Rosa Parks) or did they have a separate car (as in Plessy vs. Ferguson). This answer was quickly available thanks to the laws of the state. Chapter 3743 [No. 63] Sections 1-5 of Florida State Statutes 1887 made it clear “That all railroad companies doing business in this State shall sell to all respectable persons of color first-class tickets, on application, at the same rates that white persons are charged; and shall furnish and set apart for the use of persons of color who purchased such first-class tickets a car or cars in each passenger train as may be necessary to convey passengers equally as good, and provided with the same facilities for comfort, as shall or may be provided for white persons using and traveling as passengers on first-class tickets.” The law goes on to state the conductor or other train staff make sure to enforce the law and could be liable for a fine of between $25-500.00 for failing to abide by it. The staff was also to prevent whites from insulting or annoying people of color. The only exception was female “colored” nurses being able to sit in the white car if they were caring for a sick person or children.
Separate but equal, not! The train station in my town, built in 1907, had a wall that separated whites from everyone else. The white area was larger, had two restrooms, one for each gender, and a larger ticket window. The black section had less space, a smaller ticket window and only one bathroom to be shared. That certainly in not equal, however, the law didn’t state the stations had to be equal, just the train car. I was unable to find a picture of a passenger car for Blacks in Florida but a visitor this week said he had seen an actual car in Savannah, Georgia, and the car was not equal. There was little leg room and he equated it to the difference between flying first class vs. economy. I haven’t reached out yet to the Georgia State Railroad Museum but plan to.
The third question the New York visitors asked was when did the train segregation end? Although the law changed, the practices of seperate but equal did not end immediately. Although my personal experience does not relate to trains, in my youth in the mid-1970’s, the St. Petersburg city hall had two separate water fountains labeled Blacks and Whites. You could use either, however, I noticed that older Blacks continued to use the one they always had. Into the mid-1960’s there was also a very racist mural on the wall of the building that pictured minstrels. The story of how it was removed is interesting and the whereabouts of the painting remain a mystery. You can read about it here.
Analyzing the information discovered does shed light on why fares weren’t recorded. Those wealthy enough to afford to travel didn’t need to worry about the cost. Those without disposable income had to wait for a bargain or find an alternative way. I can’t prove the railroad’s lack of price transparency hurt anyone who was not wealthy but who knows for sure that all ticket agents were ethical. I suspect the fares changed if an agent did not deem someone “respectable” as per the law. Check out eBay – tickets from most lines DID NOT have a price. Dear Readers, if you have an old train receipt with a fare listed I’d appreciate you providing me a photo. Send to firstname.lastname@example.org. Much Appreciated!
Do you have Zoom fatigue? Does the thought of watching one more online class make you want to throw something at your computer screen? If so, this blog is for you!
I keep a record of the courses I take on my website for several reasons. As a member of the Association of Professional Genealogists, I need to complete 12 hours of professional development yearly to renew. I participate in way over that requirement because I believe in keeping current and strongly support continuing education. Even in the most basic courses, I usually learn at least one new trick or I’m reminded of something I heard before but didn’t try myself. By keeping a list of the courses I’ve viewed, I can avoid re-watching those I’ve taken. I can look at what I’ve taken when I am approaching a new work task and refer back to the syllabus of the course that may help me with the task at hand. I can also determine if I’m lacking in an area so I can then actively seek out those areas to beef up on.
Personally, I’m loving the Zoom/Go To Meetings/Teams conferences and am actively advocating the organizations to which I belong to continue with at least a hybrid model when the pandemic is over. Don’t get me wrong, I love to travel and to meet with other passionate family historians in person. I just don’t think that old thinking model is right anymore. Watching from your home is helping the carbon footprint. I’m saving lots of money by not having to pay for the travel expense, hotel accommodations and food. I’m also winning big on saving time by staying home. I can afford to attend more conferences than I would have before covid so I’m definitely ahead there. People from all over the world can attend, although the time differences are problematic and largely unfair to those not living on the eastern US coast. I’ve recommended that presentation times vary as this is just not fair to everyone. The online format is a win-win for both those who would have difficulty traveling because of a disability or childcare and for the organization who now has more participants. The voices of those who couldn’t attend before can now be heard.
For the conferences that offer breakout rooms, I have the extra advantage of still meeting up in a group and discussing the topic that we just viewed. If you are shy, no worries! It’s a great place to be a fly on the wall.You can turn your video off and just observe. I will bet there are many mouthy people like me that will be actively engaged and you’ll hear discussions and gain new insights by just listening.
For the conferences that don’t off that feature, I definitely use the chat function. Click to have the chat up and place it off to the side of the screen so you can follow along with the side conversations while the presenter is giving the information. This make me think of another plus for online classes. Remember attending a lecture in the past and the folks behind you that wouldn’t stop talking? You’d shift in your seat. Then you’d turn and give them the teacher look. They didn’t care and continued. Finally, you asked them nicely to be quiet. “Sorry,” they’d say but a few minutes later they were back to their sidebar discussion. None of that any longer! The chat is that conversation and if it distracts you, then just ignore it. At the end of the lecture, before you sign off, you can read it and take note of any web addresses that were posted. You can also copy and paste it. If your Zoom conference doesn’t have that option with the click of a button here’s another option – just hit the control + C to copy the info and then, in an open Word document, click and paste (control +P).
Here’s another chat hint – you can message the group or just an individual. A few weekends ago I took a class on the Chicago fire given by the Chicago Genealogical Society. Several of my husband’s cousins were in attendance. I sent them private messages in the chat. It was kind of like sitting with friends. If you know another attendee is watching this works well. If you don’t know if one of your friends is on, simply click in the chat box from All to Private and you’ll see a list of those who are attending. Scroll down the list to identify the folks you know and send them a personal Hello!
If there is a syllabus, I keep it electronically in Dropbox under a folder called Syllabuses (duh!). Inside the folder I have more folders for the offering organization, such as APG, NGS, etc. No more wasted paper or killing my printer ink. It’s much easier to find what I’m looking for quickly and using the control + F (find) helps me zero in to discover the exact item I’m looking for on the syllabus. That list I keep on my website is a time saver here as if I can’t quite remember which organization offered the class, I can look on the website for the topic and then find where I’ve filed it in the online folder.
While I’m watching the lecture on one screen, I have my second computer screen up and waiting to try out what the presenter is talking about. For example, this past week I watched the National Genealogical Society sponsored Ancestry course on the new update to their Freedmen Bureau records. I had Ancestry open on my second screen so as the two presenters were discussing how best to search, I was trying it out myself. I do that because I can still ask the presenters questions, either through the Chat or the Q and A feature before the class ends if I’m having difficulty in following what they suggest. This sure beats trying to check it out on my cell which is what I used to do with on site classes. I’m also getting practice which increases the likelihood that I’ll use the tool in the future.
Also in Dropbox, I keep an Excel spreadsheet called Help Ideas. It has only 3 columns – Topic, (web) address, comment. When I’m attending a lecture and the presenter recommends a specific website or archive to locate a record, I record the information on my Help Ideas spreadsheet. For topic, I might record “Blog”, record the web address and under comment, record the presenter’s name and date of the lecture. This has helped me with brick walls as no one can possibly remember everywhere to look. Sure the Familysearch.org Wiki is wonderful but it is not complete. Remember, I’m only recording info that is new to me or that I want to gain more information about later. When I need to research in an area I haven’t done in awhile, it’s simple to filter for that topic and instantly I have a great list of where I can research. Make sure you keep the list up so you can add to it while you’re watching.
Last but not least, if you are watching a pre-recorded lecture, definitely use the speed up button if available and if the presenter speaks slowly. This is my magic trick for how I get through so many lectures in a rainy afternoon. Trust me, you get used to the funny sounding speech after only a lecture or two. I always use this for classes that are more than 50 minutes and for those that might be on a topic I have a good knowledge base already. If the presenter does get to a part that is new to me, I can always return the speed to normal to make sure I understand the information. It’s simple to back up and listen again if you missed something.
Now go pop some popcorn, get in a comfy chair and watch those lectures you have on your to-do list.
This past week, I began to identify all my Gateway Ancestors – those are the folks who were the first to come to the U.S. In some cases, they don’t go back very far. For example, my maternal grandmother came with her mother and brother in 1912 to join her husband who had come earlier. Others came in the 1800’s, like my Leiningers and Kuhns, or the 1700’s, like my Landfairs and Hollingsheads, and some in the 1600’s, my Duers.
I decided to make a quick write up for each Gateway from their emigration to my parents. I wanted to tackle the Duers first because, well, I’m just enamored with them for one and two, they’ve been here for a long time so I figure if I start with the longest descents the rest will go quicker.
I came up with this idea after watching a National Genealogical Society (NGS) video from the May conference. I always intended to write about these ancestors but perhaps like you, never made the time or the effort to get that project done. I think the way that I’m proceeding makes it easier to get going on it. Here’s my plan:
Identify who you’d like to write about. In my case, it was my Gateways.
Go to wherever you keep your records for that individual and review them. I keep everything in several places – my personal tree on my desktop, on Ancestry.com and at MyHeritage.com. I also backup periodically to Dropbox and an external hard drive. Putting them in several places means I can gain access easily wherever I am, such as my home office, or out and about on my laptop or cell.
Open up a Word doc. Give your work a title and add your name as the author. In the footer, add page numbers. I always use “Page 1 of 10” or whatever number where I’ve ended because families tend to pass around documents and not always copy all of the pages. This way, the receiver will know they obtained the complete work. I also included an asterisk in the title with an explanation in the footer noting the descendancy will be a direct line to my parents. I did this because most of them had large numbers of children and I really want to only focus on my line for this project. That’s not to say it isn’t important to research the siblings because it definitely is a must do but for this project, not so much. I also include my email address in the footer so people that discover this can contact me. I plan on posting it on my Gateway’s Gallery on Ancestry and under Biography on MyHeritage. I’m doing that so other researchers can find it easily as it will show up in the Search function on both sites.
I selected using the NGS Quarterly style to write. I have no intention of ever submitting it to that organization for publication but I chose that style for several reasons. It’s formulaic (and boring, yes, but I’m not writing fiction nor am I trying to paint a picture of the ancestor’s life). Formulaic is good because it will be redundant writing, a sort of fill-in-the-blanks of the person’s life. I want that so I can analyze the information that I have acquired and identify any holes that I might have. I discovered immediately about Thomas that I had a “birth” date of 29 Sep 1663. It wasn’t a birthdate; it was the christening date. Does that matter? Yes, because I don’t know if he was christened on the day he was born, shortly after or as an adult. Given his death date, I can determine he was christened in his youth but not necessarily on his birthday. I also realized I never looked at his original christening record that is available on FindMyPast.org. Instead, I had relied on Ancestry’s Family Data Collection – Births. That’s a database of transcriptions first published in 2001. I needed to go back and find the original film to verify the information recorded was correct. It would be lovely to be able to go to Great Britain and view the original document but that’s not going to be happening anytime soon so I’ll have to do the best I can with the image. Another plus of the Quarterly style is that it will allow me to quickly determine how many people are in the line. With other styles, that information is not readily available. This style also provides more information about all of the couple’s children.
I highly recommend using Numbering Your Genealogy by Curran, Crane, and Wray if you’d like to explore more methods. It’s available through NGS and can be downloaded or printed so there is no delay in your getting started.
Make sure you use the footnote or endnote feature on Word (under References) so you can cite where you got the fact. If you don’t have a source for the fact you have, then use the highlight function on Word (Home-Font-the pencil icon with a color under it) to highlight that you must search for the source. I used that feature to remember I must go to FindMyPast.org to find the christening record. Once found, you can go back to the Font-highlight and click “No Color” to get rid of it. This way, you can quickly continue writing and citing for what you have and then research what needs clarification or is missing later.
Typically, the original source only is noted and I know I drive my colleagues nuts by listing ALL sources where I found the fact. I do this because I don’t know if the original document will be lost. If that occurs, then I’ve added where I found transcriptions or films of the image, etc., and that I verified the other documents I listed confirmed what the original document recorded. You do whatever the spirit tells you lol!
Your writing will not be very long; probably not more than a page or two unless, like my Daniel Hollingshead who loved to flip real estate, you have lots of records. Thomas Duer’s summary would be one page without citations. Remember, you aren’t recording a detailed story here, just the facts. If you decide you have the time and want to elaborate, then you have an outline already done to help you on your way. The clip at the top of this blog is for three of the five paragraphs I wrote on Thomas. Of his known children, I placed a + sign before son Thomas, (not shown) as I will be writing about him next. I will not be writing about the couple’s other seven children.
You may want to add a timeline to your Word doc. I haven’t done that but may if I get to a situation where documents I have acquired are conflicting. The timeline can help sort out if there was a transcription error, a confusion of identity, or some other situation. For example, I discovered last week a conflict regarding a family I was writing about for a journal article. The female gateway came to the U.S. in 1925 but on her naturalization records, she stated she came in 1939. Both are true. She first arrived in 1925, got married, had four children, and then took them back to her native country for a six month visit. When she returned, she used the second coming as her date of arrival. It was the most recent to her naturalization paperwork and the law required that at the time. So, fraud may not be involved in record discrepancies. Instead, she was following the law of the land at that time. A timeline helped me quickly identify the two emigration dates and that I needed to explore further.
When you’re done writing it’s time to upload and share. You want others to see your work so they can correct or add to your findings.
Since it’s autumn, now that you accomplished your task, make yourself a nice cup of tea and enjoy. You deserve it!
Remember the old board game, Clue? Maybe you saw the movies or read
the books about the game instead. That’s the kind of week I had but it
was in real life.
I juggle two careers; one in education and one in genealogy. I love
them both! I’m not loving what is happening in either right now. I
miss my students. I miss traveling to archives.
Since I highly value both humans and the bread crumb records they leave
behind, I follow safety guidelines. I realize not everyone believes that
the virus is real or it will have dire consequences for them if they are
infected. I don’t agree with those that refuse to wear a mask or social
distance or go out when they aren’t feeling well but I respect their difference
in opinion – just stay away from me and my family!
That being said, my hubby and I have requested that we continue working from
home via an eLearning platform this upcoming school year and were granted that privilege. Should have been simple but unfortunately, it wasn’t.
One of us was told DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES COME ON CAMPUS and the other was told YOU WILL BE WORKING FROM A SAFE LOCATION ON CAMPUS. We work for the same school district and have the same job title and work with the same grade level of students. We both were determined to have the same level of risk which is why we were granted the eLearning permission. Both of us were highly successful using the online platform since March. We are both former National Board Certified Teachers and deemed accomplished by our district. No one can explain why we have different instructions as to how to execute our roles.
Since no one can provide us a valid reason, we have both decided to Zoom
into meetings when we’re notified they are occurring. I cannot tell you
how thankful we are that we have made the decision we did. On Wednesday
morning a Zoom meeting was held in a classroom with 12 on site attendees and 3 off site. The sign in sheet and pen were passed around onsite for attendance
and one took off his mask briefly to address the group but was told to put it
back on and complied. The next day, the administration was notified that
one of the onsite attendees was diagnosed with covid. Due to Hippa, the
name of the individual cannot be disclosed. Hence, the game of real life
Clue begins. It is a no brainer to figure out who has it as everyone knows who
was in attendance and who did not show up for work the next day. So much
for Hippa confidentiality. If only finding records of our ancestors or
determining relationships for them could be so simple!
Last Saturday afternoon I was notified that I won a free Clooz software
packet. I had been entered into a drawing from visiting the NGS online
Exhibit Hall last month. Since the May NGS Conference had to be
cancelled, the event was moved to online with breakout sessions available for
viewing (after purchase) on July 1st. Also available was a link to
corporate sponsors who would have been available face to face if the conference
had been held. Some of the sponsors offer product discounts or give aways
for visiting their “booth.” That was how I came to be the lucky
winner of Clooz 3.
If you aren’t familiar with Clooz, it is a program to document data with
features that help in analyzing the inputted information to determine identity
and relationship. The program will export to your family tree and offers
more than 200 report formats to help with analysis. I thought this was
just what I need to help sort out my Duer family that reuses names (John,
Thomas, Daniel) several times in each generation. I’ve also long sought
one document that would conclusively show that my Thomas is the son of
Notified by email, I downloaded the software and on Sunday, watched several
of the 12 introductory videos at the site. The presenter has a
personable, calming voice and demonstrates where to click and how to enter
I have a lot of records on my Thomas and John Duer so I’m not yet done
entering the information into Clooz to begin using the reports. I spent Sunday
adding People, Sources and Census info. I still have more to go but
somehow, I did something wrong and cannot find the saved file. I am clueless
(pun intended!) where I saved it! So, I plan on spending time today
determining where all my data went from last weekend and moving forward with the program. Hopefully, Cluz will give me some clues where it’s hiding.
Last blog I mentioned Joseph Reid, the father-in-law of my husband’s 5th cousin twice removed. You may be wondering why in the world I would have someone in my tree that is not related and so far removed. Here’s the deal…I have done several surname studies which includes everyone by the same surname in a particular area. My purpose was twofold; I wanted to try to connect all the Harbaughs in the U.S. and updated the last attempt to do so, the 1947 Cooprider & Cooprider Harbaugh History book.
As was common until the 20th century, the Harbaugh couples had many children so my tree became quite large. (I’ve also did a surname study of the Leiningers but they immigrated later and didn’t have quite as many children in each generation but that, too, added non relatives to my tree.)
Since I have so many Harbaughs in one place and I documented each one as best as possible when I added them, I am frequently emailed about our connections. Usually, the question is, “How are you related to my (fill in the blank) Harbaugh?” Actually, I’m not, my husband would be the relation. I guess folks don’t see the Ancestry.com relationship info at the top of the page:
I try to always respond and let the the person who is inquiring know that all the information I have is public and posted.
When doing the surname study, if information was available, I would include the parents of the person who married into the Harbaugh family but I didn’t research that distant individual. That’s why Joseph Reid, the father-in-law, was in my tree. Joseph Reid’s son was Joseph Shortridge Reid (26 Aug 1889 MO-5 Jan 1938 MO) who married Ruth Arelia Harbaugh (11 Feb 1891 MO – 29 Jun 1969 MO). The couple had 2 daughters and a son. The email I received regarding the Harbaugh-Reids was inquiring if I had a photo of Joseph Shortridge Reid Jr. who died on 17 Apr 1945 as a casualty in WW2.
The Fields of Honor Database is an organization devoted to memorializing the 28,000 American service personnel that were killed or missing in the line of duty. They are planning a memorial service in 2020 and were hoping to find photos of those killed in action. Joseph Reid Jr. was one of those individuals.
I was not familiar with the organization so after checking them out, I decided to try to find a picture of Joseph. The organization had already contacted Ancestry.com tree owners who had Joseph in their tree but no one but me had responded.
I don’t frequently research Kansas City, Missouri but I thought I’d accept the challenge. I checked the typical online sites for a photo – Fold3, MyHeritage, Newspapers.com, Chronicling America, Google, etc. but came up with nada. I then emailed the American Gold Star Mothers to see if they had a repository that could be accessed. Unfortunately, the reply I received said they don’t.
Next I contacted the genealogy section of a Kansas City public library and the research librarian did find a photo, albeit of poor quality, that had been placed in the Kansas City Star newspaper with his obituary:
I provided the obituary and photo to Fields of Honor and was asked if I could help with missing photos for Indiana men. I agreed to do what I could and selected Lake and Elkhart counties.
Lake County, Indiana is a particularly tricky place to research as many of Gary’s records have disappeared with the city’s decline. Of course, most of the men I needed photos for had resided in Gary. I again did a preliminary online search as I had for Joseph and came up with nothing. I then went to the Lake County, Indiana obituary database that the public library system has available online. NONE of the names appeared in the database. I know that database contains names of people who have died elsewhere, like my grandmother for example, so why were all of these men missing? Then it hit me – I recalled during the Vietnam War that those killed in action had a special write up in the local paper, the Gary [IN] Post Tribune. Could it be possible that this was also a practice in other wars?
Before emailing the library research team I decided, as a backup, to find more information about the men. I turned to the 1940 US Federal census to try to get an address of where they were residing. Knowing the area, I thought I could turn to school yearbooks to find a photo. I could narrow the search to the nearest zoned high school based on the 1940 address. A few men were not found in the census in Lake County. That’s not surprising as many men moved to Gary after graduating to secure work in one of the steel mills. That newly acquired info just gave me another place to look if the newspaper didn’t have a photo.
I then contacted the research library staff and am happy to report the following Gary men have been found:
Cloyce Neal Blassingame served in the first integrated Army unit:
Robert E. Cook:
Robert W. Ferguson:
Robert Ferguson was also found in Emerson’s school year book.
and Gordon Miller in Lew Wallace’s school year book:
(The year book publication date was 1946 and Gordon died in 1944. There was not a 1945 year book, possibly due to the war. Gordon was pictured with the class of 1944 but I’d like to find verification elsewhere like I did with Robert Ferguson.)
I am still in need of finding photos of the following men:
George Fedorchak Jr. (son of Mrs. Mary Fedorchak, 1428 W 13th Avenue, Gary; in 1940 he lived with his widowed mother, Anna, and sisters Marguerite, Genevieve and Helen at 800 “This South Avenue” probably Harrison Street, Gary. He born about 1920. Perhaps mother’s name was Mary Ann?).
Edward A. Gooding
Mike Zigich (son of Pete & Annie, 2077 Grant St., Gary, born about 1926. His only sibling predeceased him as a child. Parents and sibling buried in a Russian Orthodox Cemetery on Ridge Road. I wrote the parish for a possible church directory photo but did not get a response yet.)
The Zigich name is driving me crazy because I seem to remember Zigich’s when I lived in Gary as a kid. I’m thinking Mike’s father was a friend of my grandfather. Their burial place was only a mile from where I lived. (This is off topic but my dear readers know how my brain works – I know I’m not alone in having a hazy memory from my youth so this is another reason TO WRITE EVERYTHING YOU DO REMEMBER DOWN NOW about your own family.)
So, this gets a little creepy – as the pictures were discovered it slowly dawned on me that people I knew would have known these individuals. My mother-in-law would have attended Emerson High School with Robert Ferguson. My aunt and uncle would have attended Lew Wallace with Gordon Miller. I do recall that Lew Wallace had a memorial to the fallen; I even read the names once when I was waiting for a ride home before I had my driver’s license but the names on the memorial were meaningless to me. As a teen in the 1970’s, the 1940’s seemed to be in the olden days. The names listed were just names, not real people to me.
As the world seems to be forgetting the lessons once learned, “lest not forget” these brave individuals who gave everything they had to end tyrrany. Don’t let these lives cut short be forgotten! The Fields of Honor is looking for photos from across the United States. Click on their database and contribute a picture of a family member or someone from your hometown. It only takes a few minutes to check your local newspaper archive or public library. Your help is not only preserving their memory, it’s also supporting society’s fundamental principles in our troubled world.
Had a wonderful time in Raleigh last week at the National Genealogical Society Conference! I focused on DNA workshops as that is an area where I would like to gain more knowledge and practical experience.
My 3 favorite sessions on this topic were by Debbie Parker Wayne, Blaine Bettinger and Judy Russell. Now that I have a rudimentary understanding, I plan on working through the book, Genetic Genealogy in Practice by Bettinger and Wayne this summer.
Two of the major DNA players, MyHeritage and Ancestry.com, offered conference specials but I decided to wait until Black Friday to make purchases. My plan is to purchase kits from either or several organizations but more likely from Ancestry first since it has the larger database. Then, I’ll download the results and upload to Family Tree DNA and Gedmatch.
Hubby and I tested years ago through Ancestry – he did X and Y and I did X but that version is no longer supported. I’d like to do add Autosomal this time around and include other family members. Besides the benefit of identifying new family members and confirming ones we are aware of, I think it would be fascinating to see if any mutations occurred between our kids and us and between my husband and his sister.
For Mother’s Day, my family got me an e-Book, Mansions of the Dead, by Sarah Stewart Taylor. It’s a genealogical murder mystery that I find interesting as it takes place in Boston, a city I’ve happily researched in, and revolves around mourning jewelry, which I’ve been fascinated with since working with a Client several years ago that inherited a mystery piece from a paternal grandmother. The book was written when DNA analysis was relatively new and I question some of the info but it is a fun read and I can’t wait to confirm my hypothesis of who done it. Happy Hunting!
Yesterday I attended a lecture about researching in burned county Cook, Illinois. We don’t think about Chicago being located in a burned county but of course, like many areas, had a devastating fire that destroyed a large part of the downtown are 150 years ago. Of course, the burned area was where records were kept. The point of the lecture was there are still records left to examine and provided where those sources are now housed.
But that wasn’t the taken away I got from the session…At the very end, a participant asked if Mrs. O’Leary’s cow was the cause of the tragedy. There was an extensive investigation after and both the cow and Mrs. O’Leary were cleared. There had even been a fire the evening before due to the extremely dry conditions. Shoddy building practices and older wooden structures permitted the fire to spread rapidly. A fire department that wasn’t well funded made the situation worse.
When I was a child I lived in the Chicagoland area. Although I don’t recall how I first heard about the fire, I do remember asking my mom about it. She said it was started by Mrs. O’Leary’s cow. My mom was not alive when the fire occurred. Neither were my grandparents or my great grandparents who eventually lived for a short time in the city.
In hindsight, I suppose my mom heard about the fire over 50 years after it had happened. Whoever told her had some knowledge of the original sources blaming the cow but didn’t follow the story long enough to discover what really happened.
Often our family stories are like that; passed from one to another over an extended period of time without fully investigating the information that has become a “fact.”
This week, plan on recalling one of your family stories and do some investigating. Who knows what awesome discovery awaits you! Please share, I’d love to know.
UPDATE: See this interesting story about the O’Leary kin and who might have been responsible for the fire. Note: story mentions that Chicago area children were taught that the cow started the fire so that is how my mom possibly got that information.