Friday, April 30, 2010

My Experience with Google News Archive

Yesterday I was happy to a post by Taneya on NCGenWeb (via her Twitter account @Taneya), that Google had added newspaper image browsing to its News Archive. I looked down the list of newspaper offerings and didn't find any newspapers from where my ancestors lived (which is usually the case). But I did find that The Toledo Blade was available from 1874-2006. Since my husband has lots of ancestors from Toledo (and he didn't go through the microfilm when we were in Toledo last weekend), I decided to search for some obituaries to add to his family tree.

Here are some of my observations after using Google News Archives' newspaper browsing:
  • The image quality is very low. It depends on the issue, but I found the images to be scanned at a much lower quality than other newspaper sites. It made them hard to read and I couldn't get very good images from them to add to my files.
  • You can't save the images. I used the "Snipping Tool" in Windows 7 that allows me to get a snapshot of any part of my screen that I want.
  • I was unable to search the images. The OCR scans seemed to be lacking, possibly due to the poor image quality. So you pretty much have to browse these newspapers.
  • The newspaper editions are not properly sorted. I found that Google said that issues were missing that were actually included in the previous date's images. Make sure you browse the editions before and after a missing date and you might find what you are seeking.
Google does lots of things great. But I was not impressed with this new feature. Although I obtained many obituaries, I found the process to be lacking. I am used to much higher quality images and the ability to search within them. I hope to see Google improve the News Archive experience and add more newspapers in the future.

Follow Friday - Genealogy Geek

This week I am recommending Elizabeth's blog "Genealogy Geek". Elizabeth only started this blog in February and even though it has only a few postings, they are excellent reading.

I have been following Elizabeth on Twitter (@genealogygeek) and on her blog as she shares her experiences at NGS in Salt Lake City. She has posted about her activities on the first day of the conference and at the pre-conference BCG Education Fund Workshop. I expect more in the near future.

Also check out her post, Becoming the Record Keeper, about how she became interested in genealogy.

I hope that you will check out Elizabeth's blog.

April Genealogy Goals in Review

We have come to the end of another month and it's time for me to put my goals to the test. Let's see how well I did.

  • Finish Vevay Newspaper Index. I just need to finish the last 2 years and I'll be done. Then I need to sort it and publish it online. DONE DONE DONE! I am so glad to report that this year long project is done. I haven't picked a new project, but have been doing some indexing through FamilySearch.
  • Attach all newspaper clippings about my family to my tree. (I've found lots of great nuggets about my ancestors' lives by going through these papers.) Finished! I can't believe all the great articles I found about my family. All that time going through the newspapers really paid off to give me a look at my family's history.
  • Sort through all the wonderful things I have received recently by email from new cousins and reply to them all. This would be easier if I didn't get such great things from my cousins. My blog has really made me available to them and they are all so willing to share. I finished going through what I had, but expect more all the time!
  • Publish (by pdf) for relatives "The Life of Alice Hillis" story and "The Immigration of William Watson Suckling" story. I did this and sent them off to my dad. I need to figure out who to write about next.
  • Attend Indiana Genealogical Society Conference on April 10 in Fort Wayne. What a great day long conference. You can read more about my time there in this post.
  • Attend Ohio Genealogical Society Conference on April 22-24 in Toledo. What an awesome conference! You can read about my time there in part one, part two and suggestions for future conferences posts.
  • My big project for the month is the one I never did last month. I need to work on organizing my digital photos in Picasa. It will be nice to actually be able to find what I'm looking for when posting to my blog or sharing with others. I was forced to work on this for 52 Weeks to Better Genealogy - Week 17, which was good because otherwise I wouldn't have done it at all. I still have a ways to go, but I got a great start.
I did pretty well this month. If only labeling those digital photos wasn't so uninteresting to me right now. I think fixing my database made me not want to organize anything for a while. Now I need to figure out what to do next month. How did you do in April?

Thursday, April 29, 2010

52 Weeks to Better Genealogy - Week 17 - Label Family Photos

It's week 17 of Amy Coffin's 52 Weeks to Better Genealogy. This week's challenge is:

Get out your family photos and label them. You’ve seen them a million tines because they’re YOUR photos, but what happens when they’re passed down to others? Will those people know the names of everyone in the pictures? Take some time and label your photos with pertinent information. If you’re working with old photos, take consideration with their age and condition. Devise an archival-friendly labeling system. For digital photos, you can use computer programs to tag the images with names or other identifying information. If that’s too confusing, you can at least save and/or re-name digital photos with details of your choosing. Don’t let another generation slip by without documenting your photos. Your ancestors will thank you. If you have a genealogy blog, share with your readers your system for identifying photos, and even share a photo if you like.

So this is something that I have put on my Genealogy To Do Lists for the past couple of months. And I haven't touched my digital photos, despite my goals. So that's again to Amy Coffin for making a challenge that gets me to do what I was suppossed to do long ago. (For 3 weeks in a row!)

I started up Picassa yesterday and started going through some of the photos that I had scanned from my grandma's house. Finally they have names and some caption. It's still a work in progress, but at least I got off to a good start. I found some that I need to ask my mom or grandma who is in the photo and I found lots that made me smile.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

OGS Conference - Advice for conference organizers

This past weekend I was in Toledo attending the Ohio Genealogical Society's annual conference. I had a lot of fun and learned a ton. I already recapped my time there, but want to share some advice for conference planners.

Here was the first thing that bothered me. I only saw one other person who had the syllabus on CD and had printed out the pages that she wanted. Seriously, everyone else had the printed syllabus. Even those who were taking notes on laptops. Maybe everyone likes the printed copy, but I know that I don't have the room to keep them. I didn't get it.

As a disclaimer before we get into my larger rant, I want to mention that I am spoiled living in Fort Wayne. The Allen County Public Library is a state of the art facility and all of the meeting rooms have projectors. It's not hard for me to get around downtown and it's free for me to park at the library with my library card.

So here is my advice for genealogists planning a conference (in a pretty random order):
  1. Don't have your conference in a place where everything closes at 5:30. My husband and I arrived in Toledo on Thursday around 6:00 pm. I went to the conference center and got myself registered, then we checked into the hotel. We looked at the map of restaurants in the area and picked one that we wanted to try. Then we set out on foot to find it. Only to find that it and every other restaurant we passed closed at 5:30. Some were only open during the week. We ended up eating at the hotel's restaurant because we were hungry and tired. (Downtown Fort Wayne isn't much better, but I'm pretty sure the fast food restaurants stay open here .) Which brings us to...
  2. Don't pass out area restaurant maps that only include some of the restaurants in the area. This probably had to do with the vistor's bureau more than the conference, but it annoyed me. While walking around, we found quite a few more restaurants (all closed, but still).
  3. Are there no conference centers that have projectors? After watching so many presenters set up their own projectors, I had to wonder. Have no conference centers in the country installed projectors? Every group that comes has to bring their own? Do I need to buy a projector if I ever want to give genealogy presentations? How long will that take to pay itself off?
  4. Make your annual meeting accessible to all. OGS had their annual meeting as part of a luncheon, but was open to all. I didn't want to pay $20 for their boxed lunch (of course had I known the pain of finding an open restaurant when I sent in my registration, I may have changed my mind.) I figured that it had to have one very "gourmet" cookie to cost that much. But I still wanted to attend the meeting and find out what was happening with OGS. First, there was no start time given for the meeting, just the luncheon. I didn't know how long that would last. Second, when I arrived (after it had already started) there were only a few chairs available for people not at the luncheon. They were all in the very back of the hall and it was hard to hear. There was no reason that a large section of chairs couldn't have been set up to the side of the tables.
  5. Asking members to give money or donate materials to your society every 5 minutes gets old FAST. Almost every time the president went back to the podium during the annual meeting, he told members to send money. I'm not saying that you shouldn't ask, but when you continue to do it over and over and over again, it makes me very unlikely to do so. (Maybe he should have asked for projectors...)
  6. Conference registration should be available online. OGS is a large society that has a great conference. Why I couldn't register online is beyond me.
  7. Are the suburbs so bad? Are there no conference centers outside of downtown? Nowhere with free parking? Nowhere with cheaper hotels? Everyone complains about it, but nothing ever changes.
I definitely plan on attending next year's OGS conference. But I hope as every society plans into the future, they will consider what is best for attendees and presenters.

Wordless Wednesday: SUCKLING and RIDDEFORD in WWI

Another photo of my great grandfather, William Francis Elvey SUCKLING.

Gr A Riddeford

Anyone know who Mr. Riddeford is? Let me know.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday: Ellsworth ECK

Immaculate Conception Cemetery
Bastress, Lycoming county, Pennsylvania

Ellsworth ECK
Aged 10 Days

OGS Conference Recap - Part Two

This past weekend I was in Toledo attending the Ohio Genealogical Society's annual conference. I had a lot of fun and learned a ton. Here's the second part of my story:

By Friday night, I had convinced my husband that he should attend the free beginner's class offered Saturday morning. I felt so proud when I dropped him off at the class. He said there were about 30 people there, mostly conference attendees. I think that OGS dropped the ball on this part of the event. It should have been widely advertised. With "Who Do You Think You Are?" airing on television, there should be lots of people who want to learn. Keeping this event hidden in the conference booklet was a missed opportunity.

While he was there, I attended "When A Brick Wall Crumbles Onto the Wrong Path: A Case Study" by Nancy Waters Lauer. She had some great examples of when her own research tried to lead her astray. I wish that she would write about them in NGSQ or something else and get the correct story published. Next I went to Patricia Van Skaik's "Follow the Special Census Trail to Vital Information." I can't wait to dive into the agricultural census. If Ancestry doesn't put my states online soon, I'm going to have to go through the microfilm at ACPL.

Then I found my husband with lunch again. (I know you are all shocked now.) I sent him over to the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library to look for obituaries for his ancestors. He found one in a book and the index listings for a few more, but didn't get the microfilm. I guess we'll need to plan a research trip to Toledo eventually.

Next I sat in the OGS annual meeting. Seating was very limited for those who did not pay for the lunch and way in the back. They gave away lots of awards to chapters. It seemed that every time the president spoke, he was asking for donations. I wasn't impressed.

In the afternoon, I attended "Cluster Genealogy: Finding Your Lost Ancestor" with Deborah A. Abbott. It is amazing how what seems like the wrong path will actually give you the answers you are seeking. She had some wonderful examples from her own research.

For the last session of the conference, I listened to George G. Morgan's lecture "Bring 'Em Back To Life: Developing An Ancestor Profile." He had some great advice about building a timeline and filling in everything you can find about your ancestor's life. (Of course he did lose me when he said that everyone remembers where they were when they heard that JFK and MLK had been shot. It's kind of hard to remember something that happened 20 years before you were born.)

In between all the great lectures over the conference, I checked out the vendor's hall. I was able to meet Bruce Buzbee from Roots Magic. Most of the vendors were from Ohio county societies. Since my ancestors, never stayed long in one place in Ohio, they were not interesting to me. I would have liked to see more genealogy products represented.

Overall the conference was fantastic, and I plan to attend again next year. The 2011 OGS Conference will be in Columbus, March 31-April 2. The theme is "Genealogy through the Centuries.

I have another post coming tomorrow about advice for future conference organizers.

Monday, April 26, 2010

OGS Conference Recap - Part One

This past weekend I was in Toledo attending the Ohio Genealogical Society's annual conference. I had a lot of fun and learned a ton. Here's my story:

My husband and I arrived in Toledo and found the parking garage (always on the 4th side of the building). We ended up in the conference center instead of the hotel first, so I decided to get my conference materials first. On they way we saw Curt Witcher, the Allen County Public Library Genealogy Center's manager, and we said hello. (I still think it's funny that he knows me. I guess I spend too much time at ACPL.) There was no line at the registration desk and I just had to for the next person available. It was quick and easy and I never saw a line there during the entire conference.

We checked into the hotel and while heading to the elevators I spotted "The Genealogy Guys". We ended up riding with them in the elevator and chatted about my email I had sent them about Ancestry's image problem. Another listener let them know that she had found the same problem in different states. I'm glad that I am not alone and that Ancestry is addressing the problem.

Then we went to find food. Which would have been easier had anything in Toledo been open past 5:30. (To be honest I'm sure that some places were open, but we were too hungry to waste time.) So we went back and ate at the hotel's restaurant. Then we went to bed because we were both exhausted from work and travel.

The opening session was by Curt who presented "This I Believe: The Urgent Need to Record Living History." It was a great presentation. My favorite part was when Curt described the letter that his father in law wrote with his siblings. It was a perpetual letter where they each took turns writing about their earliest memories. It ended up being 37 pages long. What a family treasure to have! I would love to get my aunts and uncles to do this.

Then I attended "Unusual Ohio Courthouse Records" by Jana Sloan Broglin. When you see "wolf scalp" and "bicycle license" in the syllabus, you can't pass by this presentation.

Then it was time for lunch. My husband had already gone out and gotten sandwiches. Which was nice because it left me more time for my afternoon nap.

In the afternoon, I attended 3 more presentations. First was "Researching Your Civil War Ancestor: A Comprehensive Study" by civil war reenactor Michael L. Strauss. When you see your presenter enter the room in full civil war gear, you know you are in for a treat. I was not disappointed. Then I attended Laura Prescott's lecture "Pioneer Women on the Midwestern Frontier." I only wish that I could find the same information on my ancestor's journeys. Finally it was time for "Finding Buried Treasure in the Pennsylvania Archives" with Elissa Scalise Powell. I think this summer I will start diving into these records and finding my colonial Pennsylvania ancestors.

Then it was time for dinner, which my husband had picked up (to make sure we had food before everything closed at 5:30). I have to say that bring a non genealogist with you was a wonderful bonus for me. I didn't have to worry about getting food the entire conference!

At 7:00, there was an "Ask The Experts" session. Many questions were asked by attendees of the conference speakers. Everyone was having a blast either in the audience or on stage. It was fun to see the experts add to each others' knowledge or correct each other. The only bad part was that I had to miss "Who Do You Think You Are?" My husband complained about how a genealogy society could schedule an event during a genealogy television show.

Then it was time for bed again. Why are conferences so exhausting?

Tomorrow I will wrap up the final day of the conference and then share some of what I learned about conference going and organization.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Sentimental Sunday - Granfather in WWII

Another story of my grandfather EISWERTH in the Navy during WWII.

Past Down’s of Dad’s Navy Days by Jim Eiswerth

My dad has talked about some of his days in the US Navy during and after WWII. For someone 88 years old, he still remembers several interesting things from his sailor days, including his Navy serial number!

After basic training up in the Great Lakes, dad was first stationed at the Naval Air Station at Quonset Point, Rhode Island. In the Navy dad was trained to be a sheet metal mechanic primarily in support of Navy aircraft, but ended up working long hours in the control tower at Quonset Point NAS. Later near the end of the war, dad was reassigned to the USS Helena, which was a new replacement heavy cruiser for the old Helena that sank during the Pacific war with Japan.

Late in his stay at Quonset Point, dad and his best friend Powell, who was a married guy from Portmouth, Ohio, tried to get assigned together on their next shipboard assignment. However when the orders finally came dad was paired up with Peter Ludwig, who was from St. Paul, Minnesota. According to dad, both Powell and Ludwig were outstanding mechanics.
Dad and Ludwig were sent to Norfork, Virginia for additional training before being sent to the USS Helena. At Norfork, dad said they did a lot of ship emergency type training including fire fighting. After several weeks there, they were sent to New York City via a bus. They were given 2 days liberty in New York before they were to report to Boston to board the USS Helena. As it turned out, their timing couldn’t have been better for a big party.

They arrived in New York on August 13, 1945, and Victory in Japan (VJ Day) celebrated the Japanese surrender on August 14, 1945 in New York --- although it was August 15th in Japan because of the International Date Line. VJ Day in New York filled the streets, and as dad said every military guy in the city was treated as a hero with unlimited food and drink from the men, hugs and kisses from the ladies. Unfortunately, dad and Ludwig had to be on the bus sat 3:00 PM headed for Boston, so they couldn’t stay and party like all the New Yorkers did well into the night.


After college I moved to Ohio. One year dad was talking about his Navy friends and asked me to see if I could find any of the Powell’s that still lived in Portsmouth, Ohio. Well one year I was invited to play golf at a course right off the Ohio River near Portsmouth. I asked around to see if any of the players might know of any Powell’s that lived in the area. One of the guys suggested that I check the local phone book. Well I had no luck either way. I know dad was looking forward to talking with his old sailor friend, Powell, if only I could have found him a good contact phone number.


Dad invited Ludwig to Pennsylvania after they returned from the shakedown cruise of the USS Helena. From New York, where they had arrived on the Helena for the 1945 Navy Day, they were given several days leave. Grabbing a train in New York, they headed to central Pennsylvania. Dad said Ludwig liked the area and they had a good time. I guess dad was starting to see my mom back then, because she got to meet Ludwig too. She liked seeing guys in their uniforms.

When they returned to New York, they spent several more weeks working on the Helena, while it was in port. Eventually dad and Ludwig received discharge orders. He remembers they put a bunch of similar sailors on a bus and took them to another place where they signed papers and were finally sent on their way home. Dad said when he got home, his dad was harvesting oats, so he changed in to his civilian (farmer) clothes and headed right for the fields. “Home at last, thank God I’m home at last!”

Friday, April 23, 2010

Follow Friday: Indiana Genealogical Society Blog

This week I am recommending the Indiana Genealogical Society Blog for Follow Friday.

After attending the IGS conference two weeks ago, I am still very impressed with their forward thinking. Their blog is just one example of how they are moving into the future.

  1. Notices of when new products are added to the store. They have been working on the 1890 enrollment lists for each Indiana county and post every time a new county's list is available in the store.
  2. Notices of when new member's only databases are available. It's a great way to keep up on their 2 for 92 project (2 databases for each of the 92 counties in Indiana).
  3. Notices of genealogy events across the state, including county genealogy society meetings.
  4. Updates on indexing and preservation projects. (IGS is currently working on the Indiana marriage indexes with FamilySearch and the Hendricks county Probate Records preservation project.)
  5. Member queries. Instead of keeping member queries for the quarterly magazine, IGS posts them to their website where they are immediately available to members and nonmembers alike. Here is one example.
IGS is providing a great example of what other societies can do with a blog. It keeps me up to date on what projects they are working on and what is coming next. I hope that you will give it a look, even if you don't have Indiana ancestors.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

52 Weeks to Better Genealogy - Week 16 - University Library Catalog

Challenge 16 of 52 Weeks to Better Genealogy written by Amy Coffin is:

Check out the online library catalog of a university. You may use one close to you, or one in the area of your research. Colleges and universities have wonderful archives, many of which are valuable to historical research. Browse around the library website and investigate the various archival collections. Make note of ones that may assist you in your own research. Genealogy blog authors are encouraged to write about what they find and share the details for benefit of their readers.

In writing my Surname Saturday post for this week, I remembered something that I had never followed through on. In researching my WASHBURN family line, I had discovered that there was a collection of family letters at Gettysburg College. My 3rd great grandfather was Francis Marion WASHBURN who served in the civil war. His brother was Melancthon C. WASHBURN. It is Melancthon's letter collection that the college has in its special collection. (You can see how a Google search for Melancthon WASHBURN who lead to very few hits!)

Over the summer I had inquired about obtaining copies of these letters. There are two from Francis and lots from their father Roswell as well as their sisters. Unfortunately the main archivist was on vacation the week I sent my request and although I received a quick reply from whomever was covering for her, my request got lost (which was fine since I never sent any money) and I never tried again.

So I have sent a new request inquiring about ordering copies of these letters.

I got a reply right away. The archivist is on maternity leave until August. So then I emailed another archivist. The library is having HVAC repairs and the collections are inaccessible until June. But she took my request and put me on the list. So we'll see if I ever see these letters.

Sometimes university libraries have more than just a book to help your research.

Apparently this 52 Weeks to Better Genealogy has become a way to force me to do what I have been putting off. Which I guess is the point of it!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday: Ellen Suzanne ECK

Immaculate Conception Cemetery
Bastress, Lycoming county, Pennsylvania

Our Daughter
Ellen Suzanne ECK
May 25, 1955 - July 10, 1955

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Sentimental Sunday: Grandfather on the USS Helena

Another story about my grandfather EISWERTH during WWII.

Past Down’s of Dad’s Navy Days (USS Helena) by Jim Eiswerth

My dad, has talked about some of his days in the US Navy during and after WWII. For someone 88 years old, he still remembers several interesting things from his sailor days, including his Navy serial number!

After basic training up in the Great Lakes, dad was first stationed at the Naval Air Station at Quonset Point, Rhode Island. In the Navy dad was trained to be a sheet metal mechanic primarily in support of Navy aircraft, but ended up working long hours in the control tower at Quonset Point NAS. Later near the end of the war, dad was reassigned to the USS Helena, which was a new replacement heavy cruiser for the old Helena that sank during the Pacific war with Japan.

Being a farm boy from the middle of Pennsylvania, dad had little exposure to aircraft of any type. However he got very familiar with the Navy’s aircraft while at Quonset Point. When he boarded the USS Helena, near Boston, he was again assigned to support the cruiser’s scout airplanes, which were used to search for enemy submarines. The scout planes were launched off the fantail catapults, and were recovered using a crane as the planes motored up near the rear of the ship.

One of the first things that dad noticed was that the ship’s company wore black shoes, while the air crews working the planes all wore brown shoes. The differences went a lot further than just shoes. On the Helena, the air crew was obviously a very small part of the overall Helena crew. They got to be very close friends, from the pilots on down in the ranks. The pilots all had call sign names they used while flying, and preferred to be addressed by those names, when there were no higher ranking officers around. The pilots knew that they were always counting on air team to keep them safe while flying, and always showed a lot of gratitude. Dad still remembered his Overall flight Commander who was Lt. Strawn, and several of the pilots, Ensigns Alberti, Bifield, and Davis.

Since the Helena was a new ship, one of the first cruises it took was south towards Cuba to fully check out the ship and its equipment. However only the ship’s officers knew where they were headed, as secrecy was still important. Dad never knew where they were, but a few crewmen from the Helena many years later wrote stories about their experiences on the ship, and we discovered that the area north of Cuba was definitely where they went. Dad did remember the warm days and lots of ongoing operations to shake down the equipment.

After the shake down was completed, the ship headed back north and ran smack into a hurricane off North Carolina. The hurricane was severe and ripped one of the scout planes off its mounts and heavily damaged the plane. The sea was so rough that no one was allowed out on deck, and dad said many sailors got very sea sick. Dad admits he snuck up to hatch on deck to crack it open and get some fresh air and to keep from getting sick too.

Later during the storm, the Captain of the ship announced over the emergency loud speakers that there was an aviation fuel spill, the smoking lamp was out, and the air crew was to report immediately to their area. Dad said that several barrels of aviation gas had broken loose from their chains, and had spilled onto the storage floor. There were several inches of fuel on the floor and the risk of fire was extremely high. They immediately hooked up hoses and started to flush the fuel out into the ocean. Dad was surprised to see the Executive Officer, Commander Chen, wearing his slippers, working right along with them to clean up the fuel as fast as possible. Commander Chen rushed from his state room to make sure the fire risk was addressed ASAP. That really impressed dad too. When the fuel mess was finally cleaned up, Commander Chen personally thanked each of the guys. Dad said he was glad he was cleaning up the fuel compared to the guys that had to clean up the ship from all the sea sick sailors.

On the ship, the sailors slept in hammocks. Dad said they were comfortable after you got use to them. His hammock was aligned with the pitch of the ship, so that help cancel out / quiet down all the ship’s rolling movements. In their area, there was one sailor that had pretty poor hygiene and loved to work out in the weight room often. He didn’t shower regularly, so the other sailors in the area finally had had enough of his stink. They stripped him and dragged him into the shower and scrubbed him with brushes, and threatened to continue that if he didn’t improve his habits. Needless to say he got the message, and a clean well exfoliated skin.

As the ship travelled north towards New York for Navy Day, the entire crew went about cleaning the ship and fixing the equipment damaged in the hurricane. The damaged scout plane was in such bad shape that only a few major parts were salvaged before the plane was dumped over the side into the Atlantic. Word got around on the ship that President Truman was planning to come aboard the Helena while it was in New York, as part of the Navy Day celebration. The ship was polished and ready as they came into New York’s harbor, but Truman never stepped on board.

After a few days in New York, my dad got his final orders and his Honorable Discharge papers. He packed up all his belongings and as he was leaving the Helena, his Executive Officer, Commander Chen, who helped clean up the aviation gas spill, was there to shake his hand and wish him well. He saluted the officers and the ships flag and headed down the gangplank towards civilian life again.

Dad said he was on a train going back to Pennsylvania, when they stopped in some small town for a quick break. He ordered a sandwich and while he was eating it, it finally hit him that he was a civilian again. Within a few hours he was back on the farm with his parents (my grandparents).

Dad said he went into the Navy a skinny 130 pounds and came out of the Navy well over 160 pounds. So I guess the Navy agreed with him. I think if he made the rank of Chief, my dad may have stayed in the Navy a little longer. I know airplanes have been a continuing interest and hobby all his life, and it is probably one of the main reasons I became an Aeronautical/Aerospace Engineer too. Just one of the many things I still love to chat with my dad about.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Follow Friday: The Educated Genealogist

This week's Follow Friday recommendation is for Sheri Fenley's blog, The Educated Genealogist.

If you ever think that genealogists are boring, you just need to read Sheri's blog to find out the truth. Her posts always put a smile on my face (and often make me laugh).

Sheri appears to be starting a blog series called Conference Week, where she is posting her tips for having an enjoyable experience at genealogy conferences. Her first post, Conference Week - How to Survive A Week Away From Home has lots of great tips of what to bring and not to bring to a hotel. I hope to see more of her great (and sometimes outrageous) tips soon.

Here's a sampling from Sheri's blog:
How I Spent My Sunday Evening And So Should You! - Sheri always shares the latest entertaining website for photos.
Red Light District?
A Family Member Found
The Best Monday Ever! - Part Uno - Part Dos
Well No Wonder I Couldn't Find It!

I hope you will check out Sheri's blog and lighten up your genealogy research.

Saving Money with Society Memberships - Part Four

This article is in a series of posts for the 93rd Carnival of Genealogy. I have decided to write a series of articles about saving money by using genealogy society memberships. Today I will discuss ways that you can save with your memberships. Then I will have two posts with examples and on Friday, I will ask you to submit your own examples to share with everyone.

Over the last few days we have looked at the benefits of some national, regional and state societies. Unfortunately, I don't have the time or knowledge to look up all of the benefits of every society in the country or the world.

That's why I am asking for your help. Leave a comment listing the benefits of the societies that you belong. Let us know what databases and discounts they offer. Remember that members only newsletters and databases are great, but we are really looking at discounts and third party database access.

Thanks for your help and I hope you have enjoyed this blog series.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Saving Money with Society Memberships - Part Three

This article is in a series of posts for the 93rd Carnival of Genealogy. I have decided to write a series of articles about saving money by using genealogy society memberships. Today I will discuss ways that you can save with your memberships. Then I will have two posts with examples and on Friday, I will ask you to submit your own examples to share with everyone.

Yesterday we looked at the benefits of some of the national and regional societies.

Now let's look at some state society benefits:

Ohio Genealogical Society
Home access to and World Vital Records
Non-members conference fee - $153.00 (early bird)
Members conference fee - $115 with membership of $32.00 – Total: $147 (early bird discount)

Indiana Genealogical Society
Discount on conference registration ($10 savings)

Southern California Genealogy Society
10% off SCGS Professional Research Team Assistance
Discount off DNA testing with Family Tree DNA
Discount off Genealogy Jamboree registration
10% discount on SCGS Library Store

Tomorrow - Your Suggestions

52 Weeks to Better Genealogy - Week 15 - Write a Letter

Challenge 15 of 52 Weeks to Better Genealogy written by Amy Coffin is:

Write a letter. It these days of emotionless email, the art of letter writing is getting lost. Pick one of your information needs or queries and write a letter requesting information. You may want to write to a small library or a relative asking for family history information. If you’re requesting a return reply, be sure to include any forms that are required, funds (if necessary) or a self-addressed, stamped envelope for return correspondence. If you write a genealogy blog, include a post about the information you requested and from whom.

So I really struggled with this week's challenge. I really didn't want to write a letter. But then I remembered that I really needed to write a few.

Last year, I decided to start sending my three living grandparents questionaires to fill out with questions about their lives. I wanted to learn the stories of their lives and not just the names, dates and places. So I made of list of topics that I could ask them. (Examples were: how they met, their wedding, jobs, parents, historical events, etc.) I sent them 3 questions to start begin.

In order to keep my questions in order, I printed each question on a piece of paper and labeled the top with the name of whose question it was. All my grandparents answered my questions (briefly, but at least they answered them).

I had intended to send questions every few months. But then I never sent any more. So this challenge has made me go back and try to get more stories out of my grandparents. I sent them each two questions this time. One is about their weddings and one is about jobs that they had. I look forward to their answers and am grateful that this challenge has forced me to start this project again.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Saving Money with Society Memberships - Part Two

This article is in a series of posts for the 93rd Carnival of Genealogy. I have decided to write a series of articles about saving money by using genealogy society memberships. Today I will discuss ways that you can save with your memberships. Then I will have two posts with examples and on Friday, I will ask you to submit your own examples to share with everyone.

Today we look at some of the benefits of the national and regional genealogical societies.

National Genealogy Society
10% Tuition discount for Boston University Certificate in Genealogical Research Program
Discount on NGS conferences and event
Discount on NGS research trips
Discount at NGS online store

New England Historical and Genealogical Society

10% NEHGS store discount
Discounted DNA tests from FamilyTreeDNA
10% off Tuition at Boston University Certificate in Genealogical Research Program
Discounts at Charlesmark Hotel in Boston

Association of Professional Genealogists
20% discount on MyCanvas
15% off any book or map at Avotaynu
10% off tuition at Boston University Online Certificate Program for Genealogical Research
20% off The Genealogy Shop
15% off at Heritage Books
$10 off Legacy software and 15% off other items
20% off Progeny Genealogy products
$10 off RootsMagic, Personal Historian or Family Atlas
Stay 5 nights, get 6th night free at Salt Lake Plaza Hotel

Society of Genealogist (U.K.)
Free access to the society Library in London
Free access to expert help through telephone or online mailing list
Discount on society events
20% extra pay-per-view or 10% discount on subscriptions to
Free 72-hour access to The Origins Network, available quarterly

Note: These are the discounts listed on the society's membership pages when I checked them. They can change at any time.

Next time:
Part Three - Regional Societies
Part Four - Your Suggestions

Wordless Wednesday - William Francis Elvey SUCKLING in WWI

I finished posting all of my grandfather's labeled photos from World War II. So now we are going to travel back a generation and war to WWI. My grandfather's father served for Canada during WWI.

I found these photos in my parent's collection first. They were not labeled and we thought they belonged my other grandfather. He said they were photos of his friend, but the clothing didn't make sense. So we just put them aside.

Then I went through more of my maternal grandparent's photos and found the same photos in their house. They still weren't labeled, except for identifies another man from Toronto and "me". Who "me" is was still a mystery, but I thought they might be my great grandfather.

Then I found a newspaper clipping attached to a tree on Ancestry. It was a photo of "Gunner Elvy Suckling". The scan isn't very good but it appears to be the same man as the photo below. I'll post a few more of these photos in the weeks ahead.

William Francis Elvey SUCKLING

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Saving Money with Society Memberships - Part One

There is a new Carnival of Genealogy. The topic for the 93rd COG is:

Write a "how to" series of articles! Choose a topic that you can give helpful advice on and write a series of articles (3+) about it. Series articles require a little more planning and a lot more writing so this next edition will have a deadline of May 1st.

I have decided to write a series of articles about saving money by using genealogy society memberships. Today I will discuss ways that you can save with your memberships. Then I will have two posts with examples and on Friday, I will ask you to submit your own examples to share with everyone.

Everyone wants to save money. But with all the genealogy databases available and society memberships, genealogy can become a very expensive hobby FAST.

But by joining a society you can save money.

Societies offer many education opportunities. From society meetings to workshops to conferences to their newsletter, you can learn a lot by being a member of a society. Those newsletters can often hold the key to your brick wall and give you information you many never find somewhere else.

Some societies offer at home access to genealogy databases. Save your money and join the society where you will get database access as well as the society’s premium content.

Many societies give you a discount on their own publications by being a member. Need or want a lot of books on one area of the country? Join the local society and save some money.

Some societies offer discounts on third party genealogy products. Find the coupon codes or links on the society membership pages and save yourself some dough.

Lots of societies offer discounts on their conferences and other events. Sometimes the combined cost of a conference and society membership is less or the same as a non-member conference registration. Even if it costs a little more, you will get the society membership at a discounted rate by saving on the conference fee.

In this series of blog posts, I am going to work on a list of society membership benefits beyond the members only databases and newsletters. Hopefully you can reduce your genealogy budget by just joining the right societies for your needs.

Stay tuned for the next post:
Part Two - National and Regional Societies
Part Three - State Societies
Part Four - Your suggestions

Tombstone Tuesday: Edward J ECK

Immaculate Conception Cemetery
Bastress, Lycoming county, Pennsylvania

Edward J ECK

Monday, April 12, 2010

Indiana Genealogical Society Conference - Recap

Saturday was the Annual Indiana Genealogical Society's Conference. Dick Eastman was the main speaker. It was a great conference and I learned a lot.

But what most impressed me about the conference was the IGS annual meeting.

Here's the bad news.

Currently the society is paying more for publication and mailing costs than it is bringing in each year's membership dues. These costs keep increasing each year. Although there is currently a large amount of savings continuing down this path will cause the society to go out of business.

Now for the good news.

The board is looking to the future. The IGS Magazine is already an online only publication available in the members area of their website. But the time has come to also make their other publication, Indiana Genealogist, an online only publication. It will continue to be printed and mailed in 2010, but will be available only online in 2011. Changing to online only publications mean that the publications can have color, hyperlinks, extra pages and more at no additional cost.

But the most important thing is that instead of spending all the membership dues on the publications and eating into the society's savings, dues will now be used to continue record preservation projects.

Currently, IGS is working on the Hendricks County Probate records as a pilot preservation plan. One day they hope to have the funds for a project in all 92 Indiana counties. (I can only hope that Switzerland county makes the list early!)

I am glad to be a member of a society that is thinking about the future.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Sentimental Sunday: Navy Grandfather and WWII

This story is about my EISWERTH grandfather who served in the Navy during WWII. (He's not the grandfather who took all the photos that are on this blog).

Past Down’s of Dad’s Navy Days by Jim Eiswerth

My dad often reminisces about some of his days in the US Navy during and after WWII. For someone 88 years old he still remembers several interesting things from his sailor days. I try to call and talk to my dad every Sunday morning and this past Sunday we got talking about his time in Rhode Island.

After basic training up in the Great Lakes, dad was stationed at the Naval Air Station at Quonset Point, Rhode Island. In the Navy dad was assigned to be a sheet metal mechanic primarily in support of Navy aircraft.

Being a farm boy from the middle of Pennsylvania, dad had little exposure to aircraft of any type. On his first day after reporting into his Chief, other more senior sailors/mechanics told dad to go get a bucket of prop-wash to clean the plane they were working on. So dad grabbed a bucket and started out asking everyone where he could get some prop-wash. After walking almost the entire field, someone finally told him that prop-wash was just the turbulent air being pushed behind a plane by its propeller. When he made it back to his group they all had a big laugh. Dad must have taken the hazing pretty good, and laugh right with them, because they all became friends.

Dad remembers his Chief, Chief Dollan by name, who had retired from the Navy and was called back due to the war. While dad was at the Naval Air Station, they had a shortage of people working in the control tower. Chief Dollan “volunteered” dad to help out. At the time Quonset Point was a very busy place. Airplanes were being delivered from Grumman and other suppliers and flown out to the various Navy groups. Other planes were being used to train pilots, while others were working submarine patrols in the North Atlantic. Dad was assigned the job of logging all flights, time of departures, number of planes in the flight, destination, and had to calculate their ETA- estimated time of arrival. If the planes were leaving Quonset Point, he then had to call the destination airport to give them this information. Dad said that the pressures from the volume of airplanes he had to keep track of drove him to smoke cigarettes like everyone else in the tower. This was the one and only time he smoked. Until just a few years ago he could still remember most of the other Navy airport phone numbers he called so often.

Dad always spoke kindly of Chief Dollan. When dad had arranged for a leave, especially in the fall of the year where his dad, my grandfather, was trying to bring in crops, Chief Dollan would let dad leave earlier often chasing him out, or helping him arrange transportation to the train station. Once Chief Dollan turned a blind eye during roll call, when dad made it back a little late due to train connection problems in Philadelphia. During roll call, Delmore, one of dad’s sailor friends, said present when Eiswerth’s name was called. The Chief knew but just continued with roll call. When dad arrived a few hours later, Chief Dollan just asked how the work went at home.

Getting home to the middle of Pennsylvania by train wasn’t always a lot of fun. To save time, dad tried to catch rides with pilots that were headed to the Philadelphia area. Once he hopped a ride with a full Navy Commander who was flying a TBF/TBM – torpedo bomber. Dad had to sit backwards in the rear gunner’s seat. On landing the plane blew a tire, skidded off the runway, and flipped nose first into the grass. The emergency crew lowered the plane and got everyone out safe and sound. The Commander asked dad if he was alright, to which dad responded, “Yes sir, thank you sir, but I will be taking the train from now on!”

Friday, April 9, 2010

Follow Friday: Greta's Genealogy Blog

This week's Follow Friday recommendation is for Greta's Genealogy Blog written by Greta Koehl.

One of the great features about Greta's blog is her Follow Fridays where she posts links to some of her favorite genealogy blog posts from the past week. Her Family and Friends Newsletters each week are a great way to let the relatives know about your research.

Here are some other recent posts:
Memory Monday: My First Job
Spring Conference of the Fairfax Genealogical Society
The Mushroom Factor

Check out Greta's blog for yourself and I hope you will enjoy it as much as I do.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

52 Weeks to Better Genealogy - Week 14 - Search Engines

The topic for week 14 of 52 Weeks to Better Genealogy written by Amy Coffin is:

Week 14: Use a different search engine for your online genealogy research. Google is quite popular, but other search engines may provide different results. Try Yahoo! Search, Bing,, Dogpile, and even Clusty. Pick an unusual surname and search it in different engines. Make note of the top 10 page returns for each. If you’re a genealogy blogger, share your observations on this experience.

When I need to do a search for anything, I always turn to Google. It's my homepage on my browser, so it is always there and ready for me. I've learned some of the search techniques to get the best results on Google (even though there are many more that I could learn).

I chose my EISWERTH line to run a search using the search engines that Amy suggested. Then I ran a search with EISWERTH and genealogy. Finally I looked at how far down the list my blog was on the genealogy search results. Here were my results:

Google: 35,400 results with surname only, 951 with surname and genealogy, my blog #11
Yahoo: 39, 600 results (surname only), 207 (with genealogy), my blog #2
Bing: 13, 500 results (surname only), 78 (with genealogy), my blog #8
Ask: 2,300 results (surname only), 61 (with genealogy), my blog #3
Dogpile: 53 results (surname only), 49 (with genealogy), my blog #1
Clusty: 13,100 results (surname only), 116 (with genealogy), my blog #7

It is amazing the differences in the number of results. It's nice to know that my blog is well represented. I need to write more about this line and get it higher on Google. I still think I will stick with Google, but if I ever want to try to find something new I know know other search engines to use.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: WWII Posing in the Fresh Air

Another post in my series of my grandfather's WWII photos from Alaska.

Hinds, Myself [Roy Suckling], Carver
Taken in Attu, Alaska.

If you have any information about these men, please email me at

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday: Augustus and Fanny ECK

Immaculate Conception Cemetery
Bastress, Lycoming county, Pennsylvania

Augustus ECK
Fanny ECK
Mother of 12 Children

Monday, April 5, 2010

How I Influenced Ancesty - The Tale of Unenhanced Images Part 2

Over the weekend, I listened the the Genealogy Guy's 200th episode. While listening I heard my name mentioned (again) and wondered what they would say.

Here is a little background information:

As you know I spent the summer, fall, and winter resourcing my database. I also organized my digital files so that I could actually find them. During this time, Ancestry had been adding "enhanced images" to their website, meaning that they were attempting to improve on the old census images. Since they said they had better images, I decided to download the new images to replace my old images while organizing and resourcing my files.

Then in January, I discovered that I could no longer read the images of the 1860 census for some of my ancestors. The "enhanced images" were in fact "unenhanced". I wrote about it on my blog and asked if anyone else had see the same problem. No one left any comments that they had similar problems.

On February 2nd, I emailed the Genealogy Guys (George and Drew) about what I had discovered. I had two reasons for this. Ancestry is one of their sponsors and they kept running an ad about the "enhanced images." I was tired of hearing an ad that I had proven to be untrue and truthfully I was just tired of hearing the same ad every podcast.

In episode #196 on Feburary 7th, George read my letter. His advice was to use the "Report an Image Problem" link on Ancestry. This wasn't really the advice I was seeking. What I really wanted to do was stop the ad from playing over and over again and get Ancestry to understand that there was a larger problem than just one census image. I had found the problem in a few counties and throughout all the images for those counties.

Then this weekend I listened to episode #200. Finally I got what I wanted. (Well the same ad still played, but ...) Gary Gibb and Chad Milner from Ancestry contacted George about the issue. According to George, they looked at my blog post and then looked at the images on Ancestry. There was indeed a problem and they have reverted to the old images until new ones can be scanned and uploaded. I am glad that Ancestry saw this as a problem and that they have addressed the issue.

I am amazed that my email and blog posting had an effect over Ancestry. I am glad that George and Drew helped get this issue into the open and get resolved. (And I'll just get over the fact that the same ad keeps playing!)

When I first started this blog, this is what I wanted to see happen. I wanted to put problems that I had doing my genealogy into the open so that companies would fix them. I wanted to show the genealogy companies what I need to do better research so that they will know how to help me and everyone else. I just can't believe that it actually worked!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Follow Friday: A Tale of Two Ancestors

This week my Follow Friday recommendation is for Amanda's blog A Tale of Two Ancestors. Amanda is currently pursuing her Master's degree in Library and Information Science. In the future, she wants to be a genealogy or local history librarian. From reading her blog, I think it would be a pleasure to find her in any library where I had to do genealogy research.

Here is a sampling of her recent blog posts:
A Tale of March's Research and Outlining April's Tale - I love finding someone else who is making monthly goals.
Tombstone Tuesday - Minatur Wunderland
A Tribute to Lillian Eichhorn Casell
My Happy Day at the FHC

Take some time and check out Amanda's blog. I think you will enjoy it.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

52 Weeks to Better Genealogy - Week 13 - Cyndi's List

This week's 52 Weeks to Better Genealogy topic written by Amy Coffin is:

April Genealogy To Do List

I should be able to get a ton of stuff done in April if I don't get lazy. Spring Break starts tonight and I will be spending it on genealogy instead of beaches. I have two state genealogy conferences to attend this month. I'm almost finished with my newspaper index.

Here is my to do list this month:
My big project for the month is the one I never did last month. I need to work on organizing my digital photos in Picasa. It will be nice to actually be able to find what I'm looking for when posting to my blog or sharing with others.

Anyone else have some goals for April? I know I am ready for Summer Vacation and the time to do genealogy all day for a few months!

April Shout Outs

I'd like to thank everyone who commented on my blog in March. This list is inspired by Apple from Apple's Tree who started doing shout outs in February. In order to be included on this list, you must have a genealogy blog and it must be linked to your comment.

Tonia from Tonia's Roots
Linda from Flipside
Renate from Into the Light
Jo from A Rootdigger
Barbara from Life From The Roots
Michelle from The Turning of Generations
Lisa from Are You My Cousin?
Luckie from Our Georgia Roots
Jama from Saturday's Child
Wendy from New England Genealogy
Cindy from Everything's Relative: Researching Your Family History
Hummer from Branching Out Through The Years
Lori from Genealogy and Me
Brenda from Journey to the Past
Jasia from Creative Gene
J. M. from Tracing My Roots
Jenna from Desperately Seeking Surnames
Joan from Roots'n'Leaves
Judith from Genealogy Traces
Amy from We Tree
Dr. Bill from Dr. Bill Tells Ancestor Stories

Thanks again everyone!