Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Happy Blogiversary to Gen Wish List

Today is the one year blogiversary of Gen Wish List! It has been a great year since I started this new genealogy blog. From my first post to the last I have enjoyed every minute of it.

Here is some of the most view posts from the last year (in case you missed them):
Why Twitter Is Great For Genealogists
Saving Money With Society Memberships series
Summer of Genealogy Wishes series
52 Weeks to Better Genealogy - Worldcat (For some reason this post had a lot of hits. Many more than the rest of the series.)
My Genealogy Surprise Package
The Life of Alice Hillis
Why My Husband's Genealogy Is So Unfair
Scanning and Preserving My Grandfather's WWII Photo Collection
My Switch to Roots Magic 4
My Vevay Newspaper Project
My GG Grandfather's Immigration with the Crazy Lady
How I Influence Ancestry

Thanks to all my readers for finding me this year and leaving me wonderful comments. And special thanks to all the cousins who have found me (or will find me). I hope you will all continue to read Gen Wish List as we enter its second year.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday: Mary and Joseph ECK

Immaculate Conception Cemetery
Bastress, Lycoming county, Pennsylvania




How I Spent My Weekend - John Shepherd Memorial

On Saturday, June 26, my husband and I drove to North Royalton, Ohio for a parade and memorial service to my ancestor John Shepherd. John was born in 1729 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He served in the French and Indian War and the Revolutionary War. He moved to central Pennsylvania, then New York, and finally to Ohio. He died in North Royalton in 1842. Reaching the age of 117 years.

Now I'm not exactly a believer in all that is credited to John Shepherd. Maybe he really did live all those years. But was he really in all the battles that he said he was? Did he really serve with George Washington? Why was his pension denied if he was telling the truth?

But despite all that, I decided that I had to be a part of his memorial day. The day started with a free pancake breakfast sponsored by the city. Then I got to ring the traveling Liberty Bell.

We visited John Shepherd's grave before the service. A new base was recently installed.

Then it was time for the parade.

Then a wonderful memorial service. The keynote speaker was Lt. General Robert W. Wagner, United States Army, retired.
An Ohio historical marker was unveiled.

The best part of the memorial was meeting and talking to distant cousins.
You can read more about the memorial here and find out more about John Shepherd here.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Sentimental Sunday - What My Dad Learned About His Dad - Part Four

This is the final installment of my dad's knowledge about his father. I hope you have enjoyed it; I know I learned a lot about my grandfather.

Some Things I Know or Learned About My Dad…. by Jim Eiswerth

As kids, we went to St. Boniface parochial school and the only sport that they had was basketball. Starting in elementary school, we all played in a church league. Every Saturday or Sunday afternoon we would have a game over at the Curtain school gym. When we were first learning to play, if the final score ever broke 15 points, then that was a big game. I remember watching my dad who brought us to all our games, sitting up there in the stands with the other parents having a good laugh. On the walks home whether we won or lost (usually we didn’t know either) dad would just ask us if we had fun. When I finally got to high school, I grew to 6-3 tall, and could play basketball pretty good. I made the sophomore JV team and then the varsity team. The Williamsport Millionaires, as our school was called, had a nice gym, but what I remember most is seeing my dad up in the stands at every home game. He was there for any of us kids no matter what sport we tried.

Dad was always active and involved with our church. He served on the St. Boniface building committee after the old church burned down. He used his masonry skills to build outdoor retreat areas around the new church too. He volunteered to oversee their cemetery, and helped dig numerous graves over many years. Dad was also active in the Knights of Columbus, in Williamsport. He made his 4th Degree, and served in all their offices. He was part of the K of C Guards, who dressed in colorful tuxes and attended all the area church ceremonies that the Bishop of Scranton presided over. The K of C had annual dinner dances. I remember my mom and dad being all dressed up on their way to the country club. Dad hated to dance, so mom usually got only one dance with him, but luckily other friends would dance with her too.

From his Navy days, Dad developed a real love for airplanes. He would drive us down to the local airport in Montoursville and we would watch planes land and take off. Before the big jets, Williamsport had a pretty busy airport. Piper Aircraft had a plant close by in Lock Haven and we often saw their planes being shuttled around. Dad actually knew one of the Piper brothers, and we got to see their manufacturing plant in Lock Haven. Eventually Piper moved out of Lock Haven to Florida. Today dad’s favorite place to eat is still down at the airport. Air traffic is way down now, but he still get a thrill seeing them fly.

Dad is now 88 years old and has some trouble getting around. His old legs and balance aren’t what they used to be. He still has a remarkable memory, although dad says it is slowly slipping away too. I enjoy talking to dad and mom about every Sunday morning. They are generally upbeat, rarely complain about anything, and keep plugging along with whatever life brings.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Follow Friday - Pawprints Guiding Me to the Past

This week's Follow Friday suggestion is Melissa Brown's blog Pawprints Guiding Me to the Past. Melissa started her blog on June 10th and she has some great content already.

Her series this week Mystery Solved? The disappearance of Eugene Jacob Gardos was a great story about her great grandfather's life. Without the help of an online cousin contact, she never would have pieced his life together. Make sure to check out all 3 parts: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.

Also check out her Thursday blogging theme "Touchdown Thursday". She describes it as "Touchdown Thursday is dedicated to those yay! and hooray! moments in my family history search....those ancestors that seem to hide from me but somehow I find....those brick walls that I can finally take down...."

 Give Melissa's blog a look and consider adding it to the genealogy blogs that you regularly read.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

52 Weeks to Better Genealogy - Week 25 - Blog Commenting

The challenge for week 25 of 52 Weeks to Better Genealogy written by Amy Coffin is:

Write one good, solid comment on at least one genealogy blog every day for a week. Sometimes we get busy and the genealogy reading we should be doing just piles up. The same thing happens with blogs. This week, take some time to read genealogy blogs. Select at least one post a day and establish communication with the author. Offer a compliment, a question or genealogy information you may have. This challenge provides a little love to bloggers and some new perspectives for researchers. Authors of genealogy blogs can use this opportunity to comment on comments, so to speak.

Commenting more on other genealogy blogs was one of my 2010 New Year's resolutions. It comes and goes for me. A lot of it depends on where and how I read the genealogy blogs that I subscribe to. If I read them on my laptop, I am more likely to write a comment than when I read them on my phone. If I'm at home, I have more time to comment than when I am working.

But this week I made sure I did a lot of commenting (until I forgot). Here are links to the posts where I left a comment:

Friday - Jamboree Jogging 2010 on Luxegen
Saturday - Ebenezer MacIntosh on Branches of My Family Tree

Then I forgot about this week's challenge, but still left comments.
Sunday - Best of the Genea-Blogs - June 13-19, 2010 on Genea-Musings (I had to thank Randy for including another Summer of Genealogy Wishes guest post in his roundup.)
Monday - Summer of Genealogy Wishes - Databases Should Be Online, Not In Quarterly on my own blog (Yes, I commented on my own blog. I know it doesn't really count, but I had to clear up somethings in my post and it's the only comment I left on Monday. But I promise that I made up for it!)

Then I remembered this week's challenge again.
Tuesday - What's In A Name on Clue Wagon
Wednesday - Quick Moment for Something Interesting on Blog of a Genealogist in Training
Thursday - Conversation - Part 1 on Life From The Roots
Bonus Thursday Comment - Mystery Solved: Disappearance of Eugene Gardos (Part 3) on Guiding Me To The Past

See I told you I would make up for forgetting the challenge. Actually I tried to make up for forgetting on Tuesday, but the blog where I tried to leave a comment wouldn't let me leave comments. Their loss.

I love the interaction that I get from my own readers through comments that they leave on this blog. I need to keep this challenge in my mind and keep leaving more comments to encourage other bloggers.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday: Martha and Walter ECK

Immaculate Conception Cemetery
Bastress, Lycoming county, Pennsylvania


Martha E

Walter J

Monday, June 21, 2010

Summer of Genealogy Wishes - Databases Should Be Online, Not In Quarterly

Another Monday brings another wish in my Summer of Genealogy Wishes series. In between posts from guest bloggers, this week I bring you one of my wishes for the genealogy community. If you missed the opening wish, make sure to go back and read what Thomas MacEntee wrote about his wishes for genealogy societies. Also check out last week's guest wish by Karen Rhodes about a genealogy Ph.D.

I wish that societies knew what was worth printing and what should but put on their websites.
Last week I receive my copy of the Indiana Genealogist, the Indiana Genealogical Society's quarterly. I love the articles about doing research in Indiana, but I can not figure out why genealogy societies continue to print databases instead of publishing them as searchable databases on their websites.

The Indiana Genealogist for June 2010 is 50 pages long. Over half of the quarterly is comprised of two indexes. The Indiana Genealogical Society has online members only databases on their website. Is the quarterly really the best format to release these new databases?

Now I'm not just picking on Indiana today. Many societies still release their transcriptions in print. If it was online, I would be able to search it easily. I would be able to keep track of all the databases with an online list. It wouldn't take up space on my shelf. I wouldn't have to track down which issue had which database I wanted to search.

Maybe the problem is about filling space. If no one submits any articles to the society, then the editor must fill the space with something. But if it is that hard to fill the space, maybe you can cut down on how often the publication goes to print.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Sentimental Sunday - What My Dad Learned About His Dad - Part Three

Happy Father's Day! Today we continue the series of what my dad knows about my grandfather.

Some Things I Know or Learned About My Dad…. by Jim Eiswerth

When I was in early junior high I started helping dad lay out houses on lots so that the foundations could be dug out. Usually after a full day of work, dad would come home eat a quick supper and we would take off to a new home site to lay out the house and set up the batter boards for the excavator. Being tall I helped because many of the houses were on hill sides. Dad would work his transit to get a good floor level reference, and I would mark the corners. Another way I helped was to calculate the hypotenuse (diagonal) across the corners so that we had a good square foundation. Doing that calculation long hand was painful, but as it speeded up those foundation layouts, and ensured square walls.

Around this same time, dad taught his boys hunter safety and started to take us out to hunt small game with him. He had a Remington pump shotgun, and we had single shot shotguns. Boy did we ever have fun. Once Dad even shot a turkey, that took flight while the boys were all concentrating on the ground for rabbits. When we got a little older we got to go deer hunting with him too. Dad stationed us at various trees on watch, and was always close by. My first year deer hunting (8th or 9th grade), I was lucky enough to get a 7 point buck, that my dad and uncle just missed. Dad taught us how to clean and butcher our deer. It was always kind of a big production at home as we all got involved, including grinding the burger by hand. We used to have venison a lot in the winter, and it is still one of my favorite meats.

Thanksgiving mornings were great times to go tromping through the woods and do a little small game hunting. We often went over to the Water Company (or as we called it ‘God’s country”) and walked all the way around the dam and back for a 10 mile walk. Sometimes we’d see deer, occasionally a black bear, but most of the time we were just talking and listening to dad tell us about his hunting adventures there. We also found out that he helped fight some forest fires back there too. He told us that they would just give the guys cans of cold pork&beans to eat while they were fighting the fires.

Although my brothers occasionally worked with my dad, I really worked with him the most. Many Saturdays during high school and college, we would pour cellar floors. When I started, I just pushed wheelbarrows full of concrete around, mixed mortar, or carried blocks/bricks. Eventually dad had taught me to set up forms, work the straight edge, do finish edging, and eventually even steel trowel cellar floors while he ran the gas powered trowelling machine. Watching him, I learned alot of the steps that go into completing a good quality job. I think those lessons helped me in my career as an engineer, paying close attention to details, and checking everything over twice.

On the sports side, as I said my dad loved baseball. He always dreamed that one of us might get good at it and go places. My brother Bern was the quickest and best at baseball. Although we all played Little League none of us had anything special talents. We still liked to play, and one of our favorite things in summer was having dad hit grounders and flies to us over at the Curtain school ball field that was just a block away from home. Dad got a thrill at of being our “manager” and hitting the long ball into the deep outfield. Dad could hit either handed, but liked to go lefty mostly. I can still hear him grunting swinging and trying to hit the balls over our heads. Our tomboy sister Dolly always played with us too.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

SNGF - A Prolific Dad

Randy Seaver's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun this week is:

1) Determine who is one of the most prolific fathers in your genealogy database or in your ancestry. By prolific, I mean the one who fathered the most children.

For the father with the most children with one wife, the prize goes to...

Peter Bauer. He had 15 children with his wife Rosina Schnabel. All the children were born in Berks county, Pennsylvania.

But the overall winner in my family tree with the most children is...

Phineas Matthews. His first wife Mary Russell (actually Anderson) gave him 7 children. His second wife Abigail Nobles gave him 7 more. His third and final wife Chloe Sisson gave him 2 more children (and 2 step-children).  For a grand total of 14 biological children (16 children if you count the step children he also raised). 

Friday, June 18, 2010

Follow Friday: Hendricks County, Indiana Genealogy Blog

This week's suggestion for Follow Friday is the Hendricks County, Indiana Genealogy Blog. The blog is written by the Hendricks county USGenWeb coordinator Meredith Thompson. Even if you don't have ancestors in Hendricks county, you can still learn a lot by reading this blog.

Check out the research tips posted on the blog. Although called tips, these are contain an in depth look at each record group. You can learn a lot about what you might find in those records with an emphasis on Indiana's history and Hendrick county's own records. So far you can read tips about:
I hope that you will learn more about researching your own ancestors by reading the Hendricks County, Indiana Genealogy Blog. I know that it has help me.

And The Brick Wall Came Tumbling Down

Yesterday I opened my mailbox and found:

The death certificate for George E Hillis. I learned his middle name was Elder. I learned his date of birth was 25 March 1857. But most importantly I found solid evidence that his parents were Joseph Hillis and Susan Morse. That means that the shaky leaf on my tree on Ancestry pointing to George in Boone county, Kentucky near the Joseph and Susan Hillis family was correct. It also means that all of that research I did trying unsuccessfully to connect my George and the George in the 1880 census together will make it easy to add this new family to my database.

I am so excited to finally have this piece of evidence. But there is one problem. Why didn't I ever think to get his Indiana death certificate before now? For one I didn't know his date of death. I finally found it this spring when I finally ordered some FHL microfilm. But for some reason I never considered that he would have a state death certificate. I hate to say that I think it's because it wasn't online.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

52 Weeks to Better Genealogy - Week 24 - Library Classification System - ACPL

The challenge for week 24 of 52 Weeks to Better Genealogy by Amy Coffin is:

Read about the differences and understand the different ways of classification. You may have heard of the Dewey Decimal Classification system, but do you really know its nuts and bolts? What about the Library of Congress system? Check out some web sites for summary information on Dewey Decimal Classification, Library of Congress Classification (including Understanding LoC Call Numbers). Don’t worry if it seems confusing. Just look at the categories and ways library items are organized. Do you see other areas that may include books of genealogy interest? Explore those areas of your library for other materials. Bloggers are encouraged to share their experiences with this challenge.

I thought I would take this time to explain the classification system that is used at the Allen County Public Library's Genealogy Center. They use a system that makes it very easy to find genealogy books based on place.

Each region in the world is given a three digit number. For example western states in the US are given the number 978. The 978 books include books on Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado and New Mexico.

Then each a decimal number is added to break that region into smaller pieces (like states or provinces). For example, Kansas books are 978.1, Nebraska books are 978.2, South Dakota books are 978.3.

If you want to find books that cover the entire state of Kansas or large regions of Kansas you would find those books in 978.1. If you are looking for books on one county, you would look under 978.101 followed by a letter-number sequence. Allen county, Kansas books are found in 978.101 AL5. Greenwood county, Kansas books are under 978.101 G85. All counties are in alphabetical order in the 978.101 section.

If you are looking for a book on a particular city in Kansas, you look under 978.102. Madison, Kansas materials are found in 978.102 M26. Eureka, Kansas is under 978.101 EU72.

So to review, states are dot something. Counties are dot something 01. Cities are dot something 02.

If you are looking for military books, they have their own call numbers. General US military books are in 973 and divided further by wars. But World War One and Two books are in 940. All family histories are in 929.

Once you learn the system, you can easily find your materials when you are browsing the shelves (as long as you can find the stack).

If you ever visit ACPL, make sure to look at the reference desk and pick up the handouts on how to use the library. The pink "Finding Your Way in the Book Stacks" sheet will tell you what call number and stack to find each location (as long as they don't change the color). And the map will tell you where to find the stacks are located.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday: Marie M ECK

Immaculate Conception Cemetery
Bastress, Lycoming county, Pennsylvania

Marie M. Eck

Monday, June 14, 2010

Summer of Genealogy Wishes - I Wish For A Ph.D. by Karen Rhodes

Welcome to another week of the Summer of Genealogy Wishes! This week we have a great post by Karen Rhodes, from the blog Karen About Genealogy, discussing genealogy education. If you are interested in being involved in this series, send me an email to with your wishes for the genealogy community.

And now I am happy to present:

I Wish For A Ph.D. by Karen Packard Rhodes

Genealogy has not yet achieved serious recognition as an academic discipline of its own – except at Brigham Young University, which offers the only accredited university degree in family history. One would expect no less from a university run by the LDS church, and it is a good start on the profession’s road to becoming a recognized academic discipline.

Boston University’s non-degree program in genealogy is another good start. A non-degree program is a test-bed. How popular the courses are and how well the achievements of the program’s graduates reflect on the University will influence further developments toward a degree program. And when one university offers such a program, and it shows positive results, other universities will sit up and take notice.

Another indication that genealogy is on the road to acceptance is the fact that I competed for an undergraduate independent research grant from the University of North Florida based on a genealogical investigation of the family structure of St. Augustine, Florida, during the Second Spanish Period (1783-1821), and received the grant. The judges comments, forwarded to me along with my award letter, indicated that they think my project is an interesting approach.

History has had a top-down, Old Dead White Men approach up until now. Lately the trend is toward a more bottom-up, family and community-oriented approach evidenced in such works as Carolyn Earle Billingsley’s Communities of Kinship: Antebellum Families and the Settlement of the Cotton Frontier and Aaron Sheehan-Dean’s Why Confederates Fought: Family & Nation in Civil War Virginia (Dr. Sheehan-Dean is a professor of history at the University of North Florida; I’ve taken two courses from him). These individual and family-level invesigatory paths in the discipline of history these days cry out for the methods of genealogy.

I am convinced the day is coming, and some high-powered professional genealogists agree, as evidenced by discussions on the Transitional Genealogist’s Forum. Genealogy already has its own methodology, and as a post-baccalaureate student in history I can tell you that genealogy’s methodology is more rigorous than that of history. This is a great factor in favor of genealogy on its journey to the academy. A rigorous methodology is a must.

Genealogy also has its own theoretical underpinnings, found in such writings as Donald Lines Jacobus’s classic Genealogy as Pastime and Profession and Val D. Greenwood’s The Researcher’s Guide to American Genealogy. (Be it admitted here that I have a U.S. bias, but what I am saying applies to genealogy worldwide).

What I wish is that the day would come soon! I am 63 years old and my health is not all that good. I wish there were a program here in Florida which I could access so that I could get a Ph.D. in genealogy.

Copyright 2010 Karen Rhodes.

Karen's bio reads:
I'm a "non-traditional" college student (the term means "older than dirt") walking slowly after a post-baccalaureate degree in history and Spanish. My book, Non-Federal Censuses of Florida, 1784-1945: A Guide to Sources, was published this year by McFarland. I lecture on genealogical topics. I'm a member of the Southern Genealogist's Exchange Society of Jacksonville, FL.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Sentimental Sunday - What My Dad Learned About His Dad - Part Two

This week we continue or Sundays of June series of things my dad learned about his dad, my grandfather.

Some Things I Know or Learned About My Dad…. by Jim Eiswerth

My dad was a good shot and liked to hunt especially whitetail deer. This was another good meat source during winter on the farm and it helped eliminate some of the crop damage they had too. My dad was never a trophy hunter, more of a meat hunter, but he got lucky one year (1939 I think) and shot a beautiful 9 point buck. It was the only buck he ever got mounted. Today I have that deer mount hanging on my family room wall. We even decorate it for Christmas … but that is another story.

Dad got introduced to baseball through his Aunt Agnes. She worked for a wealthy doctor in Williamsport, who had connections with the Williamsport Grays ball team. Ballplayers were invited over to the farm for a good home cooked meal and to taste some of my grandfather’s home-made wines. There always seemed time for a game and that how my dad learned a lot about baseball. It is still his favorite sport, and he often catches a good nap watching the games on TV.

Dad enlisted in the Navy and served at the Quonset Point Naval Air Station and on the USS Helena. I’ve related some of those stories already so I won’t repeat them here. The only one I missed, was one dad related about an officer, Henry Fonda (the actor), temporarily working in the control tower. All the sailors were trying to get Fonda to sign autographs to send home to their girl friends. When he signed anything, he just wrote “H. FONDA”. Dad said that Fonda was pretty quiet and professional.

After the Navy, dad married and went to tech school on the GI Bill. He went to school during the day, and worked 2nd shift at a Williamsport leather tannery. Although trained in the Navy for sheet metal work, he decided on masonry, and in those classes he met Guy Reeder (served in the Navy Pacific theater), and Red Shaw (served as Army medic in Italy). All three were recently married, starting families, and got along pretty good. They completed their training and formed a partnership that lasted until they all eventually retired in their sixties. Dad was always good with numbers and took on the additional job of the business record keeper, billing and payroll. The partners were so close, that as kids we always called them, Uncle Guy and Uncle Red.

One of E-R-S’s first big jobs was to do all the concrete work (foundations, floors, sidewalks, and curbing) for a brand new sub-division in South Williamsport. New construction skyrocketed after the war was over. That job got them going and the quality of their work was easily recognized, so that just by word of mouth their business grew. My dad had a knack of remembering people and jobs he completed. He and his partners took a lot of pride in their work, and dad can still point out some of their work when you drive him around town.
After living several years in South Williamsport, my dad and mom bought property about 2 blocks from my mother’s parents, in the East End of Williamsport. Dad, with the help of his friends and my uncles, built our new house from the ground up. I can’t imagine the long hours he put into the house. Dad worked all day, and then all evening on our new house. Uncle Norbert Bower helped him with the house electrical wiring. Initially our house did not have a garage, but when I was in high school, I helped my dad build the block walls that became an attached garage. Of course the boys needed to have a basketball hoop, so dad built a nice backboard and we shot hoops a lot. My youngest sister, Dolly, turned out to be the best shot and even lettered in three sports in college.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Follow Friday: The Family Curator

With the Southern California Jamboree descending on the genealogy community, this week I recommend one of the attendees and the welcome bag lady Denise Levenick's blog The Family Curator.

Denise has been coordinating the goodies for the welcome bags for geneabloggers at the Jamboree. Make sure the check out all the wonderful companies that have added a little treat for the geneabloggers. Also read Denise's Mother-Daughter Guide to the Jamboree (Her advice could be used at any genealogy conference.) and Jamboree Warmup (a day with her family finding ancestral homes). I look forward to more posts about her experiences at Jamboree as I will be living virtually through all the geneabloggers there.

Denise also writes for Shades of the Departed as Penelope Dreadful. Penelope spins tales based on a photograph.

She also offers free blogger almanacs each month that give you a list of topics that you can post to your own genealogy blog. This is great for those who can never think of anything to write or who are just looking for an interesting topic to spark their creativity.

Be sure to stop by The Family Curator site and see all the other things that Denise has written.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

52 Weeks to Better Genealogy - Week 23 - Create Your Own Challenge

This week's 52 Weeks to Better Genealogy Challenge is a little different. Challenge 23 by Amy Coffin is:

Come up with a personal genealogy challenge of your own. Each person has different research goals and experiences. Use this week to come up with your own challenge, and then take the steps to accomplish it. Genealogy bloggers are encouraged to share their ideas and challenge their own readers.

I spent most of the week trying to figure out what my challenge would be. I have already set a lot of challenges for myself this summer. I started going through my bookmarks (that are getting out of control again) and found something from March that I have been meaning to do.

My challenge was to view a few videos from the Family History Library's online research classes.

Randy Seaver wrote about the online classes from the Family History Library in March and then this week he posted an update. I had bookmarked this first post as a reminder to go back and view some of the videos, but I never found the time in the spring. But with the update and a challenge I finally did it.

I had already viewed the English Research Series when it first was released on the site. I had also viewed the videos that FamilySearch had recorded from the Association of Professional Genealogists' Professional Management Conference last September. But lots of new videos were waiting for me to view.

I haven't viewed all of the classes, but I highly recommend two of the online classes available on the site.

The first is Tom Jones' Inferential Genealogy. This video is not just a person talking and slides being shown. This is an interactive lesson where you view records, report your findings, make conclusions, and then hear Tom's results. I hope that more lessons like this one become available. One of the things that people complain about when discussing online classes is the lack of feedback. Although Tom didn't get any feedback while giving the lesson (except from the production crew), the viewer is given the time and resources to learn. This is great for the more advanced researcher.

The second video that I recommend is The Bachelor: Reconstructing a Solitary Life Using Obsure and Far-Flung Records by Mary Penner. This class has two parts: the video of Mary talking and the images of her slides are timed with her lecture. I really like this format more than the standard webinars where you only see the slides and hear the person talking. Being able to see the speaker allows the viewer to pick up so much more.

I'll continue to fill in some downtime with these classes and I hope to see more in the near future. If you can't attend genealogy conferences, these videos will give you a great education and let you see what you might be missing.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

FHL Catalog Down...But There's Another Way

Last night I read on A.C. Ivory's blog Find My Ancestor that the Family History Library's catalog would be down for a few days. Earlier in the day I had tried to access the catalog. I was trying to get myself organized for my Indiana probate record summer research. A few weeks ago I had made a spreadsheet of all my ancestors that died in Indiana, their date of death, and the microfilm numbers that contained their wills and probates. Yesterday I wanted to print off the film notes pages for each microfilm number so that I could take notes on it on my findings for each film I order this summer.

But as A.C. pointed out the catalog was down. I received a message to try again later. This morning the catalog won't even load to the search page.

But I had another idea. I remembered FamilySearch's beta website. This is the update to their pilot site. It allows you to search for records, but also allows you to search the catalog.

This catalog is still working. It worked yesterday and it worked this morning. I hope that the people working at the FHL know about this other catalog and are not leaving their guests stranded with access only through old microfiche. The beta site is different than the regular catalog and it won't let me print by film number, but if you are at the library and stranded without the normal catalog you won't mind.

I'd appreciate if this post was passed around to anyone at the FHL or the FHCs in case they don't know about this workaround.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Monday, June 7, 2010

Summer of Genealogy Wishes - Handwriting Search Algorithm

Today we continue my Summer of Genealogy Wishes series. In between posts from guest bloggers, this week I bring you one of my wishes for the genealogy community. If you missed the opening wish, make sure to go back and read what Thomas MacEntee wrote about his wishes for genealogy societies. Next week I'm happy to announce a post on genealogy education by Karen Rhodes.

My Genealogy Wish - A Handwriting Search Algorithm

We are all familiar with different ways to search on Ancestry and other genealogy database for our ancestors. We type in a surname and we have two options. First we may choose the "exact" search, hoping that the stars are aligned and the census enumerator wrote our ancestor's name correctly and then the indexer correctly read the handwriting. Then when that doesn't work, we may try the "soundex" search. Did the census enumerator write the surname as it sounded and not how we think it should be spelled?

But what options do we have when the census enumerator spelled the name correctly but the indexer got it wrong? Often we try searching the surname with just the first few letter and an asterisk (I could search for Eiswerth as "Eis*"). Or we add a question mark to note an unknown letter (search Bascom as "Basc?m:). But what if there was an easier way?

Here is where my wish comes into play. I wish there was a way to search based on handwriting. Just as soundex looks at letters that sound alike, I want a search algorithm that looks at how letter look alike.

Here are some of my ideas to get it started:
  • What letters look the same? Capital Ls and Ss. They would have the same code, just like the soundex.
  • How many humps does the letter have? All those Ns, Ms, Us, Rs, and other letters could be counted as humps. Then when you searched you would find sequences of letters with the same number of humps.
  • Which direction do the stick parts of the letters go? Up like a "d" or down like a "p".  
  • What ways did letter groups get written? Double "s" looked like an "f".
Now I don't know exactly how this would work. I don't know how to program it. But I think it would give us all another way to find our ancestors who continue to hide from us. I also should warn you that I should not be allowed to name this new search function because I'm leaning towards "handex".

What do you think about "handex"? (And I will call it that until someone thinks of something better!) Leave a comment and let me know.

What are your wishes for the genealogy community? I'm still looking for guest bloggers to add the the Summer of Genealogy Wishes and I would love to add your wish to the series. Send me an email to

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Sentimental Sunday - What My Dad Learned About His Dad - Part One

For the Sundays in June, I will be featuring some of the things my dad learned from his dad, my grandfather.

Some Things I Know or Learned About My Dad…. by Jim Eiswerth

My dad said, my grandfather, Edward Charles Eiswerth, worked at a foundry there but with the hard times of the Great Depression they moved back to central Pennsylvania where they had other family members. Dad was still a small boy then. My grandfather, Edward, and my grandmother Catherine rented a farm from relatives in the Bastress area of Lycoming County. So my dad really grew up on a farm that had chickens, pigs, cows, and work horses to till the fields. They never owned a tractor.

My dad always had pet dogs while he grew up. ‘Tip’ was one of his favorites. The dogs were never allowed in the house. When dad was about 10-12 years old, his father gave him a Remington pump 22 rifle, which he still has today. Anyway, dad and his pet dogs became pretty good hunters. Dad also made box traps out of scrap wood to catch rabbits in the winter, but occasionally a skunk or opossum were found in one of his box traps. The family always ate the rabbits and squirrels that dad shot.

Crows were always a problem on the farm. They would eat out of the corn silo and sit on the barn roof. Dad often loaded up the 22 rifle and shot at the crows. Although he got lots of them, he also admitted that he put many hole in the metal barn roof too. But over time he got better and better became a really good shot.

One of the most interesting pets that dad had was a pig. One of the farm sows had a big litter of piglets and one was very small – the runt. His mom was worried that the little runt wasn’t going to make it, so she brought it into the house where she and dad cared for it. Well it survived and became my dad’s pet, ‘Sailor’. Sailor followed my dad around wherever he went. Sailor wasn’t allowed in the house as he got bigger, but picked a spot by the front porch steps to sleep. Needless to say Sailor got big fast. Dad could even get on his back. The hard part of this story is that being on a farm, butchering season happened every fall. So when fall came, Sailor was to be butchered along with several other pigs. The butchering party of old German men made my dad get his 22 rifle and shoot Sailor for butchering. That was really tough, but that is life on a farm. After that in the following years, dad , ‘Joey’ as they called him, always got the job of shooting the pigs between the eyes at the butchering parties that travelled from one farm to the next each fall season.

Dad went to a one room school house run by nuns at the Immaculate Conception Church in Bastress. The nuns were tough old German women that demanded discipline. Dad did well in school and made it through 8th grade, but then as was typical at that time, dropped out of school to help work his father’s farm full time. A couple of stories that dad related about his school days included bobsledding in the winter snow, and dealing with an older school bully. There were no school buses back then and the kids walked to school. Dad’s walk was less than 2 miles when he cut across some fields. The kids would join up as they walked, and talked on their way to school. There weren’t Snow Days like now, but snow also meant that they got to go tobogganing and bobsledding at lunch recess and after school. They could get a good quarter mile or more trips down the hill each time. One time the bobsled went out of control and went through a barbwire fence, and ripped dad’s pants. One of the nuns patched his pants up with safety pins for the trip home. Another story related to the school bully. Booggy Bower was older, bigger and rougher on kids. One day Booggy just kept picking on my dad, who was always a short little guy. Dad grabbed a rock and threw it at Booggy and hit him on the head, knocking Booggy down. Dad said he ran home crying and told his mom that he just killed Booggy with a rock. Well the next day at school Booggy still had a lump on his head, but stopped picking on dad so much.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Follow Friday - The Mad Genealogist

This week for Follow Friday I recommend that you check out The Mad Genealogist blog.

I found this site on twitter when other genealogists where tweeting about The Mad Genealogist's Free Family History DVD video series. This is a great 5 part series about how you can make a DVD about your family using all free software. The videos are easy to follow and the final product will give you inspiration to do it yourself. Check them all out: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, and Part 5.

Also check out:
Ancestors A Day In The Life Of
Paleography - The National Archives Tutorial
Funny Family Search Finds

Take some time to look at this great blog.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

52 Weeks to Better Genealogy - Week 22 - Find A Grave

Amy Coffin's challenge for week 22 of 52 Weeks to Better Genealogy is:

Spend some time at Find-a-Grave. Most of you have probably heard of Find-a-Grave and probably used it in your own research as well. The challenge this week is to simply browse this web site. Just click links. Look at the different ways the information is sorted. Study the tributes of others and see if there are ways you can improve your own entries. Don’t do any research of your own, simply study the efforts of others. If you have a genealogy blog, share your impressions of Find-a-Grave and any interesting entries you found at the web site.

I use Find A Grave all the time. Anytime I add someone new to my tree, I search for a photo of their tombstone on Find A Grave. One problem that I have is that I don't check back and research for my ancestors often. I should really consider taking the time to make memorial pages for my ancestors.

I love the community aspect of Find A Grave. I love being able to request photos of gravestones and receiving notification that it is available. I requested a bunch of photos of the tombstones of my COUCHIE/KAVCIC ancestors and the photos were posted the next day. I have taken photos of a local cemetery and added them to Find A Grave as well, but I should try to do it more often.

In searching Find A Grave today and clicking links, I discovered an RSS feed to new memorials. It's probably too many names to try to go through any day, but I love that they have it. There is also a new photos link, but it did not work when I tried it.

Find A Grave is a great site for finding the final resting place of your ancestors. But without all the volunteers who add names and photos, the site would not exist. Thank you to everyone who contributes!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday: Jeremiah J ECK

Immaculate Conception Cemetery
Bastress, Lycoming County, Pennsylvania

Jeremiah J. Eck
Born Dec. 15, 1827
Died Nov. 10, 1883
55 y'rs. 10 m. & 25 d.

Summer Genealogy Goals

Since I won't be working during the summer and just focusing on genealogy, I thought that I would state my goals for the entire summer instead of just the month of June. Much of my summer to do lists involves things that will take lots of time anyway. I'll be spending lots of time at the Allen County Public Library doing research and learning how to become a better genealogist.

So here are some of my goals:
  • Order FHL films for wills and probate records of my Indiana ancestors. I plan to order the first one this week.
  • Order death certificates for my ancestors. I read somewhere (unfortunately I don't remember where) that vital records are in lots of danger from laws that keep them hidden. So I am going to attempt to get as many death records as I can this summer just in case laws change.
  • Work on new indexing project. After finishing my Vevay Newspaper Index, I have been looking for something else for Switzerland and Ohio county, Indiana researchers. I have decided to compile a list of all the census enumerators in these counties. It's a field that many people do not look at on the census form when they search for their ancestors and I hope I find some of my ancestors during this time.
  • Read my genealogy books.
  • Work on National Institute of Genealogical Studies course. I will be working on the Analysis and Skills Mentoring Program-Part 2. I started it, but haven't really dived in yet. It is my last course in the intermediate course set.
  • Write at least 3 ancestor profiles. This is part of my 2010 resolutions.
  • Visit my ancestor's graves in the Cincinnati area.
  • Borrow more photos from my grandma's house to scan.
  • And the big finale for the summer will be attending the 2010 FGS conference in Knoxville, Tennessee.
I have some other genealogy goals for the summer that I am keeping secret. Plus I have to clean the house so my husband thinks that I am being productive and not lazy.

June Shout Outs

I'd like to thank everyone who commented on my blog in May. It's nice to know that you are all out there and you add so much to this blog.

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