ReConnecting with Taboo Family

I had planned to not use Ancestry.com this week as I continue to update my RootsMagic synched tree but due to an unexpected family contact, that didn’t happen. I needed to go on to check a relationship and add information to an individual that I hadn’t researched before due to family silence.

If your family is like mine, you probably have encountered situations that lead to uncomfortable communication between relatives.  You might have had DNA results come back that show that someone isn’t biologically related.  There may have been a nasty divorce, hurt over a probate or a disagreement over opinions. The falling out may have even been as a result of criminal conduct.  Regardless of the cause, going forward can be difficult, especially if it has been years since the initial disconnect.

I was faced with establishing a reconnection this week and I’d like to share how I handled it in case you find yourself in my position. 

Here’s the background…back when I was in college I remember my future mother-in-law calling my now husband.  She was clearly upset as she relayed to him how an individual who had married into the family had been charged with several murders.  You read that right – more than 1 murder.  The final charge would be for 4 murders but there was a list of many more that would have occurred had the arrest not been made.  

Understandably, my husband’s mother was shocked, sad, confused and angry.  This was done by someone she trusted, knew for years and there had been no indications that the individual was this dangerous.  Since my husband and I were living far from the crime, we didn’t have access to news stories of the trial and subsequent conviction of two life sentences.  We didn’t know that 20 years after the conviction, the perpetrator would request that state supreme court to grant a new trial, that the original lawyer would have written a semi-fictional book about the case because it was so bizarre and that the lawyer’s son would feature the case in a podcast.  In other words, even though the crimes were committed nearly 50 years ago, it is still in the news in the area where they occurred.  Since we don’t live in that area we had no knowledge of any of this until this week.

I don’t know if my mother-in-law reached out to her blood relative to offer support during that difficult time.  It became a taboo subject on that side of the family so, when I began my online family tree in the 1990’s, I didn’t update that line.  Imagine my surprise this week when I received a message from a descendant of the murderer who was asking what my relationship to the family was.

Since this was not my relation, except through marriage, I immediately asked my husband how he wanted me to handle this – should I respond or not?  If it had been my family I would have messaged back as the writer was not responsible for a heinous crime and I would consider the person a victim, too.  But this wasn’t my family so I felt that I needed to hear what my husband would want.  His parents are long deceased but had they been alive, I would have checked with them also.  

My husband had no preference and told me he respected however I wanted to handle it as he knows I would be professional.  I chose to respond, clarify the relationship and offered to update my tree if I had wrong info or if there was additional information to add.  I got a response a few hours later thanking me for the information and informing me of a family member who was now deceased.  I responded with condolences.

Interestingly, that deceased family member had relocated from the area where the murders occurred and lived a little over an hour away from us for nearly 10 years but had not reached out to us.  Perhaps they were embarrassed by what had happened or hurt that we had not reached out to them in their time of need.  I will never know.  

Although not in this case, what I do know is that it can be difficult to re-establish a connection and sometimes severance is the best (and safest) option.  I suspect, with the difficulties of the past year, people are re-evaluating relationships and becoming more aware of their mortality.  As the world slowly begins to reopen, I wouldn’t be surprised if more relatives reunite.  This could be a wonderful time to move forward if that is in everyone’s best interest. Be forewarned – this could be happening to you soon.

Resolving Genealogy Tech Issues

I abhor spending time on tech issues but that has been on my to-do list for awhile so I decided to spend this week taking care of needed updates. First on the agenda was to update my blog settings.  Typically, I just have to click a button and the settings are updated.  Last May, I got a popup that said I must update my PHP settings first.  I ignored it because I was spending 12 hours a day online and didn’t want to have to spend more time researching how to do that.  On Sunday, I decided I really had to figure it out. 

Trying to update PHP is a little like trying to find a genealogical document.  To put it simply, you just need to know where to look.  In actuality, it’s a whole lot more complicated.  I started by Googling and was directed to go to the cPanel.  Nowhere does it tell you where the cPanel resides.  One of my family members said it was on my hard drive, mistakenly thinking I was looking for the C Drive.  Another said I probably downloaded it somewhere on my hard drive from my Hosting company.  More Googling took me to YouTube but again, the videos do not tell you how to find the cDrive but do show you what to do when you find it.

This reminds me of desperately trying to locate an obit but you can’t find the newspaper. You know the time frame it should have been published but that particular issue is missing.  I decided to reach out to those in the know – I posted on a genealogical list serv.  Three folks quickly came to the rescue – they told me to go to my cPanel.  Umm, right, but where is the cPanel?  I was directed to contact my Hosting company.

The Hosting company was experiencing heavy contact volume so they recommended placing a ticket with my concern. About 4 hours later I got a response and ta da, it directed me to the same YouTube video that didn’t answer my question in the first place.

On Monday, I tried to chat with the company who was still experiencing high volume.  After a short wait I got a techie who sent me to the same YouTube video.  I was trying not to be rude but this was ridiculous.  I asked to be directed to the cPanel from the home page.  Instead, she took a pic of the page I should be on.  I told her my page did not look like her page and how did she get to her page.  Light bulb moment on her part – “Oh,” she responds – “you don’t know where to find the cPanel.  Click on Hosting and there it is.”  Two clicks later and I had the update done. 

Next I decided to tackle updating my Legacy Family Tree and RootsMagic tree to Ancestry.  I am embarrassed to admit it has been 2 years since I last did that.  The Legacy update took just a few minutes since there is no media.  I was dreading the RootsMagic as its been synching but the program makes you go into each person changed and update individually.  I toyed with the idea of just dumping what I had and starting fresh but I was worried that it would take up too much of my desk computer’s time and I wouldn’t be able to use it for anything else.  I also was concerned with power outages that might disrupt the synch and then, well, I’d be worse off than I was currently.  Years ago, I synched Ancestry to Family Tree Maker and then it just stopped working.  Each company blamed the other.  I never got it resolved and so I became a beta tester for RootsMagic when they were developing their synch. 

For those reason, I decided to just go for it – painstakingly checking every individual change.  Took me a few minutes to realize I needed to ADD all the new people first.  Wish there was a way to filter what the discrepancy is – new to RootsMagic? New to Ancestry? In RootsMagic but not Ancestry?  In Ancestry but not RootsMagic?  You can get in the zen by doing the same monotonous task over and over and it would really speed the process up.  Alas, that wasn’t the case so I spent all day Monday just adding new people from Ancestry to RootsMagic.  Tuesday I got throught the A surnames, I’m now up to G.  Every few minutes I have I update.  At this rate, it’ll be another week before I get everything where it needs to be. 

I have colleagues who have completely given up on the synching saying it is a waste of time.  I understand their time issue but I’m more worried about losing important info I saved to just Ancestry. 

Problem could be solved if I just saved everything in the first place to my hard drive but as I’ve mentioned, I’m awful with back ups and I’d hate to lose everything.  We’re supposed to be getting 3 full days of rain and I’m hoping so that not only will our drought end but that I have nothing else pressing to do but update RootsMagic.  Hope you’re upcoming week will be much more exciting!

Free African Americans During Slavery

Courtesy of DK Find Out

I often wondered how 10% of Black Americans had obtained their freedom by 1860.  When I looked for manumission records I often found none.  Was I looking in the wrong places?  Did war/climate/insects/careless people destroy the records?  How could so many records just disappear?

I attended a recent NGS Conference session by Ric Murphy who finally gave me the answer – there were Black Americans who were “indentured” and not enslaved arriving as early at 1619.  This was certainly news to me as I never was taught that in history classes.  I’ve been to Jamestown and no one there ever mentioned that fact.  How did I miss this my entire life?!

The story is intriguing and much too long for a blog article.  Major players were the Roman Catholic Church, Portugal, Spain, Great Britain and what is now the Netherlands.  Piracy and violation of international treaties resulted in the decision to indenture rather than enslave.  

I wish the book was offered in an electronic version as I’m trying to pair down my hard copies but it is not.  There is one one-star review on Amazon but the person who left their concerns is in error in some of the points made – the Native Americans and the colonists did not get along prior to the African’s arrival and the majority of the white settlers had died due to famine because they feared hunting in the woods as Native Americans were hunting them.  There is strong evidence from a variety of sources outside of the US that those first arriving Africans did come from a well educated, multilingual area of Africa. Although we now know that Bermuda is not part of the Caribbean, early maps considered it as part of the Caribbean islands.  The author could have clarified that but I wouldn’t avoid reading the book because he didn’t.  

Put this book on your summer reading list – Ric Murphy. Arrival of the First Africans in Virginia. Charleston, SC:  The History Press, 2020. 

Remembering the Vets

The US Federal holiday, Memorial Day, is now seen as the kick-off for summer.  Originally begun in 1868, it was a day to remember and mourn those who died in the Civil War.  The picture above was taken in Graceland Cemetery, Chicago, Cook, Illinois probably on one of the first Memorial Days. It is the Thomas Coke and Drusilla Williams DeWolf Thompson family, my husband’s 2x’s great paternal grandparents.  The little girl pictured was my husbands great grandmother, Mary Thompson Cook.  The family is at the gravesite of Thomas’ son from his first marriage, Thomas Charles Thompson, who served for the Union and was discharged as an invalid.  He died shortly after he left the Army. 

Although I don’t know the exact year the photo was taken, based on the clothing, knowing that Thomas died in 1874 and the children’s height, it most likely was taken between 1868-1870. I like to think it commemorates the first Memorial Day.

Over the years, more wars and conflicts led to further veteran burials.  Memorial Day includes remembering all those veterans who have served. This weekend I’d like to highlight three organizations that are keeping those brave men and women’s stories alive.

The first, The Forgotten Ones, a project by the Daughters of Union Veterans of the Civil War, 1861-1865, I blogged about a few months ago.  Now through December 31, 2021, the organization is accepting applications for inclusion in their database of Union soldiers who died during the Civil War and left no descendants.  The lineage society, of which I am a member, is composed of those who are descended from a Union veteran.  Men who died without children would be forgotten as no one could join today based on their service.  It is for that reason that the Forgotten Ones project was instituted.  If you aren’t a member but know of an individual who you would like memorialized, please email me at genealogyatheart@gmail.com and I’ll be happy to file the paperwork for you. If you’d like to become a member of the organization, here’s the link

Another organization that I’ve blogged about previously is the Fields of Honor project in Margraten, Netherlands.  

This nonprofit holds memorial services for the 34,000 US soldiers who died during World War II and are buried in Europe. Carla Mans wrote me that “The Faces of Margraten tribute has always had one simple goal: to put a face to the names. This Memorial Day, the tribute will do so again, just only in a slightly different way. Join us this Memorial Day in watching Saturday’s name-reading ceremony, which will be accompanied by the faces whose names are being spoken. These are the faces of almost 8,200, often young, soldiers. This will be broadcast in two parts. The first half starts at 9:00AM New York time”: www.facebook.com/events/829903644586601
UPDATE- I believe they mean Monday and not Saturday.  Try on May 31st at 9AM.

If you have access to this month’s American Legion magazine check out the article, A Face for Every Name, which provides much more details about the organization.

I just learned about the Veteran’s Legacy Project last week at the National Genealogical Society (NGS) Conference from Bryce Carpenter.  The U.S. National Cemeteries also have a virtual Adopt a Vet program.  The interred have individual pages where adoptees can post historical and biographical research information and easily share the finding through various social media.  I plan on entering information on several of my close relatives who served in WW2.  For more information, visit https://www.va.gov/remember

At NGS I also learned about the US Cavalry organization,a private library that maintains records of those who served in the US Cavalry.  You can search their holdings through Library Thing

I can’t recall any of my family being in the US Cavalry.  My great grandfather, Joseph Kos, who died in the 1918-1919 pandemic, had been an officer in the Austria-Hungary cavalry before emigrating to the US.  

Enjoy your long weekend!

Fantastic Photos! MyHeritage.com Does It Again!

Do you have DAMAGED PHOTOS that break your heart because you can’t appreciate the picture while fixating on the ugly part?  I do and I was never able to use the photos in family projects because I couldn’t restore them to their former glory.

Thanks to MyHeritage.com, it is now simple, quick, easy and free (some limitations apply) to return the photos to better than new.  Here’s how:

First, upload your photo to be repaired by logging into MyHeritage.com and click on Photos in the ribbon, then click the Upload box on the right.

Once uploaded, the photo appears with your media items.  Now, click the photo needing to be repaired.

Above the photo on the right hand side, the following options are shown:  Repair, Enhance, Colorize, Animate.  To correct the photo it’s recommended you select options from left to right.

Once I click Repair and MyHeritage.com does it’s magic, the photo will be shown as follows:

Much improved but still not perfect.  Sure, I can clip out the damage to the upper portions of the photo but I want to restore the picture to as close as new as possible so here’s what I’m going to do – On the upper left hand side of the photo, click on the gear icon which is the settings option.  The photos are first repaired Gently – that’s the default setting.  I’m going to click the box Extensive Repair Option and Preview. Now look at what it does:

Isn’t that AMAZING?! You can stop there but I wanted to make the photo even more defined so I next clicked on Enhance.  Here’s what the result was:

Due to the size limitation on my blog, the subtle improvements are not as apparent as on my larger computer screen but when you try it you’ll notice the difference.
Next I decided to go ahead and colorize it. I’ll be honest, I’m not a big fan of colorizing because I like to know FOR SURE if what I’m presenting in my research is accurate.  It is fun, however, to imagine what the original outfits looked like so I decided to click the Colorize button to see what the program would select:

I again used the Settings (gear icon) to tweak the saturation manually as the first colorization picture showed a pink hue on right side of the dress.  Knowing the individuals as I did, that wouldn’t have been the color choice.  The brown/silver grey was more in keeping with the time period (1917) fashion and the wearer’s preference.  
In my excitement to get the photo corrected I neglected to tell you who the people are!  This is a photo of my paternal grandparents, Edwin and Lola Landfair Leininger, and their oldest child, my dad, Orlo Guy Leininger.  He was born June 4, 1917 so I guess this must be a photo that commemorated his first Christmas.  Nothing was written on the photo back (of course).  I received the photo 5 years after my father’s death in a box that was kept in a damp unheated northern Indiana basement for probably at least 10 years.  I’m fortunate that the photo survived, albeit damaged.  I’m thrilled that it has been restored.  Thanks, MyHeritage.com for your new feature!
For the ethic minded, I also appreciate that MyHeritage.com acknowledges that the photo was altered.  You can see the After written in the upper left hand corner of the photo and on the bottom left, icons appear showing exactly what features were used to change the original picture.  
I’ve blogged before about the animation feature but it has since added many new features, too.  I couldn’t resist animating my Dad, I’m sure he would approve:

National Genealogical Society May Conference Reflection

Circle Chart Example

I attended the National Genealogical Conference virtually this week, the second time the conference has been in that format.  Here’s my take on it…

This year there are 3 days in May for the general attendees compared to last year, where there was only one.  This makes sense since the organization had to pivot at the last minute to move the format while this year they had a longer time period to adjust. 

I enjoyed SLAM! on Tuesday.  SLAM is an acronym for Societies, Libraries, Archives and Museums and featured “posters” from submitting organizations regarding innovative programs they provided to members/patrons during the pandemic.  Monday was society today but since I registered as an individual I was not able to attend those sessions.  Friday was society wrap up which, although sessions showed on my dashboard, I was not able to enter.

I was greatly impressed by the SLAM! submissions.  Three Top Poster Winners and three runner ups were highlighted and representatives from the winning organizations answered questions from conference attendees.  My personal favorite was a circle Family Wheel Chart provided by Mary Kate Gliedt, Genealogy Manager at the St. Louis Public Library.  The beauty of this simple chart is to allow flexibility and inclusion with family dynamics.  If you have step-family, adoption, foster parents, nonparental event or same sex parents, the traditional family tree does not work.  With the Wheel Chart, lines can be made to include those important people that influenced a child.  I have altered the form by making the lines faint so they can be written over if not needed and drawn over when used. An example is above.

You would put your name in the ME circle.  Your birth mother could be written in space Mom 1 or Mom 2.  If you have an Adopted, Foster or Step Mother, she could be placed in the other Mom space.  If you had 3 “moms” then the top half of the second circle could be divided into 3 sections.  You can alter the form from there.  When finished, drawing over the lines with a pen can make the form easy to follow.

I’ll be including spaces around the 4 quadrants of the page to include children of those relationships.  Now you have one sheet displaying the family dynamics and including everyone. 

After the SLAM! winners, attendees could visit each submission site and chat with representatives.  I will be blogging next week about the Veteran’s Legacy Project. 

Overall, the first day went well with this new format.  There were only two minor glitches.  The first was that the kickoff event was purported to be a livestream from Ancestry but it wasn’t livestream, it was a replay from an older Youtube video from that organization.  Event personnel clarified in the chat that was the case after a number of participants mentioned the discrepancy.

The day ended with the second glitch, a livestream from Family Search.  Clicking the button to view did not work.  Eventually, a note was displayed to go to Youtube.  Several of us missed the first few minutes of the presentation because of the tech issue. Overall, it was a wonderful day!

One tech issue occurred on Wednesday when Dani Shapiro’s presentation froze.  NGS allowed viewing through Friday at 5:00 PM for those who missed it. 

Thursday’s line up included more than one option at the same time period.  If you wanted to view a missed presentation, viewing was made available through Friday at 5:00 PM.  In that way, I was able to view every option. 

For those who purchased a 20 or 40 session packet, beginning June 15th, all of the sessions except Dani Shapiro’s, is included in either packet.  The syllabus for all sessions was provided electronically and those that purchased a packet, more sessions not yet shown will be available to view through December 31, 2021.  Since I don’t have many lines in Virginia, I purchased the 20 session packet.  Looking forward to more interesting sessions to view over the summer.

Although I miss the camaraderie of attending conferences in person, there is a lot of positives to virtual – no wasted time or expense by travel and the ability to view at my leisure.  Next May the NGS conference will be held in Sacramento, California.  I’m hoping that a virtual option remains as I have no needed research to do in that area. 

Here are my personal favorite sessions:

Most Heartfelt – Family Secrets

Most Entertaining – Young General Lafayette

Most New Information – The Story of Virgina:  Arrival of the First Africans (I’m buying the book by Ric Murphy!)

Most Consistent Presenter Over Venues Demonstrating Excellence – Elizabeth Shown Mills.  How she makes everything look simple is just so special!

Most Knowledgeable about Virginia – Barbara Vines Little

DNA Technique – Tie between Angie Bush and Christa Cowan who both demonstrated how they use the colored dots on Ancestry.  I use mine like Angie but am willing to try Christa’s method. 

Special shout out to Erin Shifflett, NGS Staff.  I couldn’t find the syllabus as the link was buried in one of the many emails that they had sent to remind me of the conference.  I sent an email and in less than 5 minutes had a response with the document to download.  Now that’s service!

Genealogy Tech Tip: Gmail

If you have a gmail account you may have been getting notices from Google over the past few months that their terms are changing June 1st regarding storage.  You may have also gotten information that they would like to “offer” you, for a fee, extra storage space for your photos and emails through Google One.

I have a Dropbox account that I use so I don’t need to be paying for another storage space.  I haven’t successfully been able to transfer photos and emails from the gmail account I share with my husband to my desktop to then transfer to my Dropbox account, though I’ve followed online directions.  When the emails are on my desktop they appear as an Outlook file but I’m unable to open them, even though I do have an Outlook account.  

If you are having the same problem, here’s a temporary work around I discovered.

I like to keep my genealogy business separate from my personal research so my family related genealogy goes to my shared account and my second gmail account was set up to be business only.  However, these are difficult times and I’m now combining all of my genealogy in one place.  Since I so often blog about my personal research anyway, it only makes sense to keep all my genealogy related correspondence together.

By doing that, I’m freeing up valuable space in my shared gmail account without having to pay for extra storage.

Here’s what you need to do:

1.      Create a second email address if you don’t already have one.  It’s simple – here’s the directions.  https://support.google.com/mail/answer/56256?hl=en

2.      Next, go to the email address where you have too many saved messages.  In the search bar, type a term that will bring up messages that are similar.  Here’s an example; I typed in genealogy Williams because I want every genealogy related item for the Williams surname in my gmail inbox.

1.      If you  created labels, as I have, then click to open one of them (they are visible on the left side: 

When I click into the Genealogy label, I will use that  search box which appears under the header as it does on the main inbox page. To keep emails from the same sender or for the same surname, type in a surname, such as Williams or a person’s email address.  All of them will appear:

        Now click the check box next to the down arrow and checkmarks will appear in all the emails listed below:

       On the line where the checkmark next to the down arrow is, click the last icon, 3 dots:

The last option is Forward with Attachments.  Click it and all of the check marked emails will be placed in the body of a new email.  This can take a few minutes if you are sending many at one time. 

In the subject, list the surname and/or who the emails are from.  In my picture above, I’ve given an example as I typed Williams from Courtneys.  That’s referring to all my Williams surname correspondence that I received from the Courtney family.  Then, in the recipient box, type the email address where you will send the message. In my case, I’m sending it to my second gmail account. 

It will arrive in your new email inbox as a unit.  Just open the email and all the others are attached. 

I created a label I called Personal-followed by the surname.  This way, I can quickly find all emails sent to me over the years for a particular surname. 

Someday, ahh hum, I will go through these as I’m sure there are some gems in there that will spark a new clue to an existing research problem but for now, they are safe and I’m not out any money. 

We were at 99% used and by just removing my 12 pages of saved genealogy emails and a few pages of photos has allowed me to be at 90% capacity.   

Finding a Long Lost Recipe in a Modern Way

During the pandemic, I updated a family cookbook that I originally compiled in 2002.  It is a collection of recipes and holiday customs passed down to my husband and I.  Unfortunately, most of the recipes are from my maternal side of the family.
Although I wasn’t close to my dad’s side, I do recall my grandmother’s cooking on several occasions.  Chicken or beef, mashed potatoes with gravy and another vegetable was all I can remember.  What does stand out is that she served dessert on the same plate that was used for dinner.  This totally grossed me out as a small child so I would refuse dessert.  She must have thought I was very strange to turn down homemade apple pie ala mode but I just couldn’t enjoy it if it was on the same plate in which my main course had been served.  
I have no idea why a dessert plate wasn’t used as I have inherited a set from my paternal grandmother’s mother so clearly they had the means to separate the courses.  I don’t know why it bothered me as I wasn’t one of those kids who wouldn’t eat if one food touched another.  The only food I refused to eat was pizza as it looked unappealing to me.  Of course, the only time I recall my parents going out to dinner with my paternal grandparents was to a restaurant where they ordered pizza.  I recall I had a child’s chicken plate instead.  
I don’t have many recipes from my husband’s side of the family, either.  Most came from a church cookbook that my mother-in-law purchased for me that contained her submitted recipes.  I’m not sure how many of those recipes were passed down, however.  Years ago, I made a beef stew recipe from that cookbook that was supposedly one of my sister-in-law’s favorites.  I complimented her on it and she had no idea what I was talking about.  My husband asked his mother and she said she entered it to see her daughter’s name in print.  I wonder how many other organizational cookbooks contain recipes that the “submitter” never tasted. Sometimes, records submitted are not correct!
I do have a recipe for Lickum, which has been handed down on the Samuelson line, probably from Sweden as it appears to be from that area originally.  There are several variations online.  Lickum is similar to a pickle relish made with onions, tomatoes and peppers.
Last week I went on a quest for a lost family recipe on my husband’s paternal line.  I had tried for years to get the recipe from his cousins but everyone I asked replied with a stricken expression and said, “You don’t want that recipe.”  My husband absolutely hated it as apparently, all of his cousins had.  The recipe was called oyster stuffing and though we’re still 6 months away from Turkey Day, my mind recalled, in a strange way, that I still haven’t discovered it. 
Through the Kindle library I read a short book about a true story of a pirate operating off Long Island, New York in 1860.  He murdered the captain and two deck hands on an oyster ship.  It was a true story and I was shocked by how large the oyster market was at that time.  
My husband’s family were originally from Long Island and my father-in-law had recalled his grandmother making the dish for holidays.  His grandmother, Mary Thompson, was born in Chicago, however, her mother Drusilla Williams, was born on long island and her father, John Hicks Williams, was a ship’s carpenter.  Although I will probably never know for certain, it’s likely the oyster stuffing recipe originated from the once abundance supply of oysters near the family’s home.
Several days after finishing the book, I had a strange dream.  I awoke from a deep sleep and only recall that I was looking at what looked like a television’s blank screen – grey with static – and a man’s voice saying, “If you want that oyster recipe you better ask for it soon before it’s too late.”  Kind of an ominous warning for a mere recipe that no one continued to serve.  
I told my husband the next morning and he posted on Facebook.  Within a matter of minutes one of his cousins had forwarded it to another cousin through marriage that had the recipe.  Apparently, it’s all over the internet.  From Martha Stewart to Chef John, what my husband’s family called Oyster Stuffing is now called Scalloped Oysters or Oyster Casserole.  Who knew?!  I have duly entered the recipe in my family cookbook.  
Reaching out on social media helped me discover that long lost recipe in minutes.  I don’t know why I never thought to do that before!

During the pandemic, I updated a family cookbook that I originally compiled in 2002.  It is a collection of recipes and holiday customs passed down to my husband and I.  Unfortunately, most of the recipes are from my maternal side of the family.
Although I wasn’t close to my dad’s side, I do recall my grandmother’s cooking on several occasions.  Chicken or beef, mashed potatoes with gravy and another vegetable was all I can remember. What does stand out is that she served dessert on the same plate that was used for dinner.  That totally grossed me out as a small child so I would refuse dessert.  She must have thought I was very strange to turn down homemade apple pie ala mode but I just couldn’t enjoy it if it was on the same plate in which my main course had been served.  
I have no idea why a dessert plate wasn’t used as I have inherited a set from my paternal grandmother’s mother so clearly they had the means to separate the courses.  I don’t know why it bothered me as I wasn’t one of those kids who wouldn’t eat if one food touched another.  As a preschooler, the only food I refused to eat was pizza as it looked unappealing to me.  Of course, the only time I recall my parents going out to dinner with my paternal grandparents was to a restaurant where they ordered pizza. I had a child’s chicken plate instead.  
I don’t have many recipes from my husband’s side of the family, either. Most came from a church cookbook that my mother-in-law gifted me that contained her submitted recipes.  I’m not sure how many of those recipes were passed down, however.  Years ago, I made a beef stew recipe from that cookbook that was attributed to my sister-in-law.  I complimented her on it but she had no idea what I was talking about.  My husband asked his mother and she said she entered it to see her daughter’s name in print.  I wonder how many other organizational cookbooks contain recipes that the “submitter” never knew about. Sometimes, records submitted are not correct!
I do have a recipe for Lickum, which has been handed down on the Samuelson line, probably from Sweden as it appears to be from that region originally.  There are several variations online.  Lickum is similar to a pickle relish made with onions, tomatoes and peppers.
Last week I went on a quest for a lost family recipe on my husband’s paternal line. I had tried for years to get the recipe from his cousins but everyone I asked replied with a stricken expression and said, “You don’t want that recipe.”  My husband absolutely hated it as apparently, all of his still living cousins had.  The recipe was called oyster stuffing and though we’re still 6 months away from Turkey Day, my mind recalled, in a strange way, that I still haven’t discovered it. 
Through the Kindle library I read a short book about a true story of a pirate operating off Long Island, New York in 1860.  In The Pirate by Harold Schecter (2018), Albert W. Hicks murdered the captain and two deck hands on an oyster ship.  It was a true story and I was shocked by how large the oyster market was at that time.  
My husband’s family were originally from Long Island and my father-in-law had recalled his grandmother making the dish for holidays.  His grandmother, Mary Thompson, was born in Chicago, however, her mother Drusilla Williams, was born on long island and her father, John Hicks Williams, was a ship’s carpenter.  I have no idea if the pirate and my husband’s ship’s carpenter were related, sharing the similar surname of Hicks.  There were many Hicks’ in the area at the time.  Although I will probably also never know for certain, it’s likely the oyster stuffing recipe originated from the once abundance supply of oysters near the family’s home.
Several days after finishing the book, I had a strange dream.  I awoke from a deep sleep and only recall that I was staring at what looked like a television’s blank screen – grey with static – and a man’s voice saying, “If you want that oyster recipe you better ask for it soon before it’s too late.”  Kind of an ominous warning for a mere recipe that no one continued to serve.  My subconscious most likely paired the bloody Hicks to my husband’s Hicks and the Long Island oysters connected them even further.
I told my husband the next morning and he posted on Facebook.  Within a matter of minutes one of his cousins had forwarded it to another cousin through marriage that had the recipe.  Apparently, it’s all over the internet.  From Martha Stewart to Chef John, what my husband’s family called Oyster Stuffing is now called Scalloped Oysters or Oyster Casserole.  Who knew?!  I have duly entered the recipe in my family cookbook.  Husband says he is not eating it if I make it.
Reaching out on social media helped me discover that long lost recipe in minutes.  I don’t know why I never thought to do that before! I had wasted years asking relatives in person when I could easily have just posted a request.  Live and Learn!

To Travel or Not, That is the Genealogical Question!

I have always loved to travel, especially for genealogical purposes.  The past year has taken that privilege away but I discovered, like you, there was always work arounds in most cases.  I relied on others to obtain a document or check a source through Ask-A-Librarian or other email inquiry.  I was surprised to discover how much I could accomplish using those resources.

Now that my closest family has all been fully vaccinated, travel has become a hot topic. Should we or shouldn’t we?  

A week before the pandemic quarantine arrived, hubby and I had planned to travel later that summer to Sweden to mix genealogy research from both his mother and father’s lines with cultural immersion.  This year, we had planned to do the same with Croatia and next year, after a Mediterranean cruise, to stomp through France to explore more of my lines.  We guessed, by that time, Great Britain would have settled down somewhat after Brexit and we’d both explore our Welsh, Scotts, Irish and English roots.  

I realize that Croatia is open for travel now but do I want to do that?!  Is it wise to venture abroad and possibly bring home a new variant?  Do I want to travel wearing a mask and with more hand sanitizer then I usually pack?  On the other hand, am I contributing to Europe’s recession by not going?  

An alternative would be US travel.  After checking that archives have reopened, we could spend some time this summer traveling throughout the midwest or the northeast.  That leads to more questions – should we fly or should we drive?  With the rental car shortages and the great price increase in rentals, is it even worth flying?  Do I want to pack up the car and drive, which would require more frequent stops along the way and the possibility of still getting a covid exposure?  Sure, the chances of infection are small but they remain.

In all my years of traveling I was one of those foolish mortals that really didn’t worry about Montezuma’s revenge.  I swam in cenotes, crawled into caves, ate from food trucks in cities and with local villagers outdoors in rural areas, even consuming uncooked fruits and vegetables.  I was always fine.  The pandemic has reminded me of my own mortality and to not push my luck.

Even though I’m fully vaccinated, I’m reluctant to travel.  Ethics in genealogy go beyond being truthful and accurate.  Ethics include being responsible to others.  No matter how much I miss meeting new people, learning about different cultures and exploring archives new to me, I think I’ll take a wait and see approach to travel for now.