Friday, July 30, 2010

Follow Friday - Pollyblog

I rediscovered this blog while putting off my 52 Weeks to Better Genealogy post and waiting to see if anyone else would post about this week's challenge. Polly Fitzgerald Kimmitt is a certified genealogist who blogs at Pollyblog.

Here are some of Polly's blog posts to check out:
In the Event of My...Silence? - Polly's Week 30 Challenge for 52 Weeks to Better Genealogy
Cousin Joanna Barnes Invited to Next Barnes Family Reunion - Polly's quest to prove she was related to an old movie star.
Hey, Can You Give Me the Family Genealogy?
Atwood Mott and His Mysterious Female Relatives

Take some time and check out Polly's blog.

52 Weeks to Better Genealogy - Week 30 - Emergency Chain

Challenge 30 of 52 Weeks to Better Genealogy by Amy Coffin is:

Create an emergency chain. Select someone you trust to handle duties should you be unable to access your research, blog or other genealogy projects. Chances are that you have an online presence and genealogy friend with whom you are in regular contact. If you are unable to get online for a significant period of time, how will you let everyone know? Use this week to give your contact information to at least one genealogy friend so he or she could check in with you or your family in case of unexplained absence. The genealogy community is pretty tight, and we worry when one of our own hasn’t been heard from in a while. This challenge was inspired by Hurricane Ike and 14 days without power. Bloggers: describe the steps you take to establish an emergency chain to help your readers do the same.

So I really struggled trying to figure how if I should do this week's challenge. Do I really need an "emergency chain" in order to keep my blog readers informed? How much do I really want to share with everyone? Would anyone even notice if I went missing?

But Amy is right: "The genealogy community is pretty tight" and worry about each other. I've seen the community band together to give support when genealogists are sick or have a loss in their family. We have built a wonderful support system.

So if someone wants to be my contact should anything happen, let me know. Otherwise you'll just have to check my Facebook wall and figure out if anyone has posted where I am. I'm sure my dad will have his secretary (my mom) call and find out what has happened.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Grave Hopping With My Mom - Part Three

After the disappointment of not finding the grave of Francis Marion Washburn, we set out the grave of my grandma's parents at Arlington Memorial Gardens in Cincinnati, Hamilton county, Ohio.

This was not a holiday, so the cemetery office was open. I asked for the location of the Bascom plots and received a map and plot numbers. Which was good because this was a huge cemetery and I never would have found it on my own.

Side by side we found the graves of my great grandparents and great aunt and uncle.

Alice Susan Hillis  - 1 Apr 1896 - 31 Jul 1979
Dewey Francis Bascom - 6 May 1898 - 2 Jun 1975

Francis L Bascom - 1918-1984
Henrietta Foertsch 1921-1976

Next week I'm traveling with my parents to my dad's hometown. So I'll be taking dad grave hopping and hopefully we will find my Valentine (Blitz).

Grave Hopping With My Mom - Part Two

After finding the Suckling grave in Mount Moriah Cemetery, we drove to the Mount Washington Cemetery in Mount Washington, Hamilton county, Ohio.

The Mount Washington Cemetery website has a database of some of the burial in the cemetery and a plot map. I had already consulted a book at the Allen County Public Library that gave me the plot numbers of the two graves I was seeking: Francis Marion Washburn in plot 39 and his daughter Sylvia Cynthia Washburn in plot 1030. I printed out the plot map and thought this would be an easy stop.

I had my mom stop the car and walked down a hill to find Sylvia's grave. Even with the plot map, I wasn't exactly sure which row her grave was located. But I happened to pick the right one and found her at the bottom of the hill.

Well, that was easy. Time to find Francis, one of my civil war ancestors. He was supposed to be in the corner. But he wasn't there! I didn't want to walk the entire cemetery to try to find him. Many of the civil war graves were unreadable. There was a space where his grave could have been where the plot map said he should have been. It's possible that the plot number that the database gives is a typo. When I searched for a nearby grave (thanks to my iPhone), I found that the database gave it a plot number on the other side of the cemetery.

I was disappointed to not find Francis. Maybe on a cooler day I will go back and try to find him again or write to the cemetery and check on that plot number.

The next day we went to Arlington Memorial Gardens.

Footnote Images - Part Two - Massachusetts Printed Vital Records

On Monday, I wrote about some of the issues I have had using the city directories on Footnote. Today I'm going to share my thoughts about the images for the Massachusetts printed vital records.

I have not really dived into my New England roots yet. Others have done lots of research on these lines and I haven't felt up to the challenge of digging through early New England records. But when I have consulted the Massachusetts printed vital records to find my ancestors with varying success.

Footnote has scanned images of many of these books. Most of these books are sorted by births, marriages and deaths and then in alphabetical order. These books work well for Footnote's image naming system. They divide the book into sections by birth, marriage or death. Then they label the image with the page number and the first name on the page. This is very similar to the way they name the imaged for the city directories. It's easy to find all the pages that list all the marriages of a certain surname.

But not all of the books were published in this format. Some were published listing all events by date. For example, the Boston vital records are in this order (or at least partly). Here is a page that is labeled Moore in the births category (you will need a subscription to view it on Footnote, but see the screen capture below). The problem with this page is that although it is labeled "Births and Baptisms" at the top of the page, it actually is a listing of marriages in chronological order.

This labeling system also gets the book's pages all out of order. The Moore page above is on page 57. When I click the next arrow, I find page 71, then 73, then 82. This makes it impossible to browse the page. If you were to search for the name Moore in this book you would find a page for baptisms, not marriages in the search results. It gives you no clue that it's actually a marriage page. Adding to that that the OCR is not perfect on any site and the labeling system that Footnote has created makes it very hard to use many of its images.

There is no good reason to label these books and put them online in a random page order. I wish that Footnote would take more time to look at the images they are labeling and make sure that their system makes sense for ALL images and sources.

Disclosure: I have not been paid by anyone for this review. I have an annual subscription to Footnote that I purchased myself.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday: Sarah ECK

Immaculate Conception Cemetery
Bastress, Lycoming county, Pennsylvania

Sarah A
Wife of
W. H. Eck

Monday, July 26, 2010

Grave Hopping with My Mom - Part One

Earlier this month, I visited my parents and took my mom cemetery hopping to find the graves of our ancestors. We visited 3 cemeteries in 2 days.

First we visited Mount Moriah Cemetery in Union township, Clermont county, Ohio. We visited on Monday, July 5 which meant that the office was closed for the 4th of July holiday. My mom said that she remembered her grandparents' gravestone being by a road and faced the highway. So we drove around a little bit and eventually found it.

William Francis Elvey Suckling was born 10 Aug 1897 in Merritton, Lincoln county, Ontario, Canada. He died 17 Nov 1976 in Lancaster, Fairfield county, Ohio.

Anne Elizabeth Stull was born 20 May 1898 in Niagara, Lincoln county, Ontario, Canada. She died 16 Feb 1858 in Cincinnati, Hamilton county, Ohio when my mom was just 5 years old. My mom remembers visiting her grave on the way to visit her grandfather.

After visiting Mount Moriah Cemetery, we traveled to Mount Washington Cemetery to look for the Washburns.

Footnote Images - Part One - City Directories

This summer I have been working on my husband's family tree. His family has roots in Toledo, Ohio and I have been spending lots of time finding them in the Toledo city directories on I wanted to share some of my impressions about the directories on this site.

First, it is great to have digital images from city directories. I have been able to push his generations further by analyzing who lived with who. I also like how Footnote labels their images by page number and then by the first person listed on the page (ie. Musch, Aug H (p. 813)). This makes it fairly easy to find which page a certain surname will appear.

But there is also a problem with this system. Apparently publishers of city directories don't know how to count. Or at least how to number their pages. Often times I have found the same page number used for different pages. This becomes an issue when Footnote organizes their images by the name they have given it and not the order the pages appeared in the book. If the surname I am seeking, continues onto the next page, I have to go forward 2 pages to get to the next page in the printed directory.

Another problem that I have seen is that Footnote's OCR software mislabels the first name on the page. This can confuse people trying to find a certain name. But then again the publishers of the city directories had some issues with alphabetical order too. I have  found given names out of order as well as surnames in the completely wrong order.

Also, Footnote tries to label all pages in the same format - first person on the page and page number. This does not work on other sections of the book. The street listings and business listings are not in alphabetical order by everyone's name. They are in order of the street name or type of business. Footnote's labeling systems makes these pages impossible to find when browsing.

You are able to use Footnote's search engine to find names in the directories. But I have found that the OCR misses many of the names and that browsing is a more complete way of searching. Also the search tells you what page it is found with Footnote's labels that can be somewhat hard to figure out if it is not on an alphabetical page.

I know that I have found a lot of faults with Footnote's image names. I have been able to find what I am looking for most of the time and just wish their system was a little better.

This discussion leads me into another complaint with the way Footnote labels its images of the Massachusetts printed vital records. I'll write about that later this week.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Follow Friday: Find My Ancestor

This week's Follow Friday recommendation is for A. C. Ivory's blog Find My Ancestor.

I'm really enjoying A.C.'s Mobile Monday posts. He takes a look at one app that could benefit genealogists using an iPhone or iPad. One of these days he's going to convince me that I should pay for my first iPhone app, but I'm still holding off on opening that money pit. A.C. also recently started a series on Mac Genealogy for all you Mac users.

A.C. seems to have lots of series going on at his blog. I'm very interested in continuing to read his series on researching at the Family History Library (a place that I hope to go to someday). His first post, Getting Started, describes the FHL's stats.

I hope that you will check out the Find My Ancestor blog if you haven't already.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

52 Weeks To Better Genealogy - Week 29 - Handwriting

The challenge for week 29 of 52 Weeks to Better Genealogy written by Amy Coffin is:

Practice reading handwriting. Deciphering the penmanship of our ancestors is an exercise in patience, but this is a great skill to have in your genealogy tool box. Kimberly Powell has some good suggestions and links on deciphering handwriting. To get some hands-on experience, look at an old census page and try to transcribe the first and last names of each person on the page. If you do not have access to census pages, go this Family Search Records page, click “Browse Images,” and select a census page on which to practice. If you have a genealogy blog, write down your experiences with this challenge or provide tips, links or book recommendations on this subject to your readers.

Kimberly's article is right:"The best way to get good at reading old handwriting is to do it a lot." I have found that participating in the Family Search Indexing Project has helped me to decipher old handwriting better.

This past month I have been gathering my ancestors' wills and transcribing them. As I go I am becoming more familiar with the language used and that has helped me to make sense of the words written.

Family Search also has online classes available about reading handwritten records. They cover a large range of different languages and styles. They have an English series about 1500-1700 handwriting. I wish they had one on later handwriting as well.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday: Rose and Samuel ECK

Immaculate Conception Cemetery
Bastress, Lycoming county, Pennsylvania


Rose M


Friday, July 16, 2010

Follow Friday: The Accidental Genealogist

The Accidental Genealogist blog written by Lisa Alzo is my recommendation for Follow Friday this week.

Lisa has been writing lots of blog posts about her "Sojourn in Slovakia" that she took in June. From the food she ate, the places she stayed, the people she met and more her journey is shared. Her posts are a great way to document her trip through photos and memories. Spending time in the homeland of our ancestors is something that we all wish to do someday. Check out her series on her blog.

Check out Lisa's blog and find even more of her wonderful posts.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

52 Weeks to Better Genealogy - Challenge 28 - Patents and Trademarks

Challenge 28 of 52 Weeks to Better Genealogy written by Amy Coffin is:

Spend some time with patents and trademarks. If necessity is the mother of invention, genealogists will want to find her parents. Visit the United States Patent and Trademark Office web site (those outside the U.S. can visit their own nations’ sites). You may also try Google Patent Search. Input the search terms of your choice and study the results. Don’t try to do genealogy research during this challenge, just test the different ways this tool may come in handy in your research. Bloggers, what are your impressions of these sites. Have you found them useful?

I have used Google's Patent search in the past. There I was able to find 2 patents from my dad's work at GE:

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday: Pius Aquilla ECK

Immaculate Conception Cemetery
Bastress, Lycoming county, Pennsylvania

Pius Aquilla
Son of Lorenzo & Ellen
Died July 19 1861

Friday, July 9, 2010

Follow Friday: The You Go Genealogy Girls

This week's follow Friday recommendation is for The You Go Genealogy Girls blog written by Ruby and Cheri. From research trips to genealogy conferences, the You Go Girls will keep you interested in their adventures.

Check out some of their recent posts:
The Conference Experience
Involving Family
Colorado Family History Expo Posts - People at the Expo and Prisoner on the Loose

Be sure to read about their lasted research trip to the Family History Library in Salt Lake City:
One Leg of a Genealogy Journey
Murphy's Law and Genealogy
Sunday: Rest and Regroup
Tired Genealogists
Boo-Hoo Last Day
We've Lost Our Census

I look forward to reading more about Ruby and Cheri's genealogy adventures.

52 Weeks to Better Genealogy - Week 27 - Google Scholar

Challenge 27 of 52 Weeks to Better Genealogy written by Amy Coffin is:

Put your thinking cap on and visit Google Scholar. It’s difficult to browse the features of this tool, so bring some surnames to use in your test searches. Also check out Google Scholar Preferences and Advanced Scholar Search. Search some of your more common ancestor names and manipulate the search preferences to see the difference in the results you get. You may also try your unusual surnames. What did you find? Genealogy blog authors can answer this question on their blogs.

I was able to find articles written by people with the surnames that I searched, but nothing relevant to my genealogy. I wish that I could have searched by the article title, but I could only search for authors and publications. If I knew of a particular article or author that I wanted to find, then this tool would have been more useful.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday: Pheras ECK

Immaculate Conception Cemetery
Bastress, Lycoming county, Pennsylvania

Pheras M Eck
S2 US Navy
World War II
Feb 21 1916 - Nov 1 1999
Fondly Called Huss

Friday, July 2, 2010

Follow Friday: Life From The Roots

For Follow Friday this week, I recommend that you take a look at Barbara's blog Life From The Roots.

Barbara recently did a blog series about conversations that she has had with other researchers. It is amazing how many connections you can find just by talking about your family to the person sitting next to you. Part 1 was about meeting a cousin at a genealogy society dinner, Part 2 was about  meeting a cousin at the microfilm reader next to her, and Part 3 was about writing to the author of a family history.

Barbara also has a Follow Friday series where she highlights a resource that she has found in her research. So far she has highlighted a courthouse in Fonta, New York and Riverdale, Michigan. I hope that Barbara will continue sharing resources that she has used. I especially liked reading about her experience visiting the courthouse which houses the county's archives.

I hope that you will stop by Barbara's blog. Her photos alone will peak your interest.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Summer Genealogy Goals - July Update

It's a month since I made my genealogy goals for the summer. Normally I do monthly to do lists, but this summer I wanted to set some longer term goals. So let's see how I am doing:

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. So I didn't order my first films until the middle of the month. They are finally at ACPL and I will look at the first set later today.
  • 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. I ordered one from Pennsylvania that I haven't seen yet and two from Indiana. The first one arrived and helped me solve my brick wall (Actually it just pushed it back a generation, but I was still excited.)
  • 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. I did this but have yet to post it online.
  • Read my genealogy books. Working on it.
  • 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. I'm having the hardest time working on this class. I don't know why. I did a few of the assignments but haven't made it to the first consultation yet.
  • Write at least 3 ancestor profiles. This is part of my 2010 resolutions. Haven't thought about.
  • Visit my ancestor's graves in the Cincinnati area. Haven't found a good time to go down there.
  • Borrow more photos from my grandma's house to scan. See above.
  • And the big finale for the summer will be attending the 2010 FGS conference in Knoxville, Tennessee. I really want to do this task. Too bad I have to wait.
 I need to get some more of my goals done next month. I guess cleaning the house will have to be pushed to the side.

July Shout Outs

Thanks to everyone who left a comment on my blog for the month of June. Without you this blog would not be as rewarding as it is.

Heather at Nutfield Genealogy
Nancy at My Ancestors and Me
Tonia at Tonia's Roots
Kathleen at a3Genealogy
Kristen at Finding Eliza and My Cleages and Reeds
Greta at Greta's Genealogy Bog
T.K. at Before My Time
Denise at The Family Curator
Amanda at ABT UNK
Barbara at Life From The Roots
Lisa at Old Stones Undeciphered
Becky at My Genealogy Pondering
Linda at Flipside
Pat at Touching Family History
Karen at Karen about Genealogy
Les at Bits and Pieces
Linda at Documenting the Details
Gini at Ginisology
Terri at Southwest Arkie
The Mad Genealogist
Cheryl at Heritage Happens

Thanks everyone for your wonderful comments!

52 Weeks to Better Genealogy - Week 26 - Google Books

This marks the half way point in the  52 Weeks to Better Genealogy Challenge. I would like to thank Amy Coffin for this wonderful series. I can't wait for the second half.

This week's challenge is:
Take a stroll through Google Books. Most of us have probably used Google Books in our genealogy research, but have you really taken the time to explore what’s there? Look at the magazines and featured books. Check out the subjects offered. By taking the focus off research for a bit, your mind is open to see other ways this tool can be used. Bloggers can discuss any interesting items they found on Google Books during this exercise.

I love Google Books. I have found lots of information about my family there. I love finding county histories that tell about my family's day to day life and not just the dates and places.

Although I have searched for many things in Google Books, I have never really taken the time to explore it. I didn't know that Google had tabloids scanned. And travel magazines.

Browsing through the books on their homepage, I found that they could use better labeling. For example, The Napping House is a wonderful children's book, but it's not a health and fitness book. And Frog and Toad Together is NOT a cooking book. I also wished there was a way to browse through those categories and find only the full view books.