Saturday, December 16, 2017

Toledo to Cleveland, Cousins Stayed in Touch at Christmas

My husband's Wood family always made sure cousins stayed in touch with each other at holiday time and for birthdays, whether they lived across the street or across the state.
At top, a Christmas postcard sent by Ernest Jacob Carsten (1906-1982) in Toledo, Ohio to his cousin, Wallis Walter Wood (1905-1957) in Cleveland, before 1917.

Ernest's mother, Mary Amanda Wood Carsten (1884-1917), was a 1st cousin, once removed of Wallis's father, James Edgar Wood (1871-1939). These cousins saw each other on a regular basis, especially after Wallis's father bought a 1917 Ford and drove his family to Toledo to see the Carsten cousins in the summer of 1917.

Mary Amanda Wood Carsten had died tragically in January of that year, at the age of 32, leaving Ernest and three other siblings--all under the age of 13. The visit of the Wood cousins was a happy reunion, as photos from that trip show.

Maybe it's a little odd that a cousin would write his surname on a cousin's card, but there were multiple cousins named Ernest. For the family genealogist, however, this is a particularly valuable piece of ephemera because Ernest's surname was frequently spelled incorrectly in the Census and other documents. This card is firsthand proof that his name was "Carsten," not "Carstens" as shown in other records. Thank you, Ernest!

Monday, December 11, 2017

Planning My FHL Visit During RootsTech

Salt Lake City, here I come for RootsTech 2018. Even though the conference is more than two months away, I have to start planning right now for my visit to the Family History Center.

I remember scrambling to prepare for my visit to the Allen County Public Library during FGS in the summer of 2013. Thanks to a bit of advance planning, sketching out priorities, and defining specific questions to research, I was able to find new info about my husband's McClure family, in particular.

So my first step is to research how to research in the FHL of SLC. Cyndi's List has some links I'm going to explore. Janine Adams recently mentioned a post from early 2017 about preparing for her visit, and the reader comments were really helpful too. Thanks so much, Linda Stufflebean, for reminding me that you wrote a useful post about the library, which is here.

One of the key things I need to do is determine what I can research online from home or a nearby FHL and what can be done in SLC most efficiently and effectively.

Also, I'm going to formulate specific questions to research and summarize what I already know in research notes, to avoid reinventing the wheel. Two questions I'm prepping right now are about my husband's family tree:

  • His 2d great-grandfather was Jacob S. Steiner (1802?-1860?). I found him in the 1850 Census in Tod, Crawford county, Ohio, but not in the 1860 Census. He's also named as an ancestor on a precious scrap of paper written by my husband's grandfather, and on documents pertaining to his children. But finding the right Jacob S. Steiner born somewhere in PA, somewhere around 1802, has been a big challenge. Ultimately, I really want to know whether the Steiner family was from Switzerland (as family lore suggests--but it could have been Germany or Alsace-Lorraine or Austria). And of course, I'd dearly love to identify his wife's maiden name and trace her family!
  • Hubby's 3d great-grandfather was Job Denning (1775?-1836). He died in Adams County, OH. Where was he born and who were his parents? Possibly he was born in Massachusetts, but I need actual evidence to make the leap one generation back. Thanks to Adams County records, I have background about his activities there. But where did he come from before arriving in Ohio?
Oh, I can't wait to be dazzled by the FHL's treasure trove. But there's more homework first: I have to formulate specific questions concerning my own family tree. So many ancestors, so little time in the library, meaning I have to set priorities and goals...with a few minutes to spare in case of BSOs, right?

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Was Hubby's Memory Correct? How I Did the Research


Earlier this year, I wrote a family history booklet telling the story of my husband's Slatter and Wood families, and a second booklet telling the story of his McClure and Steiner families.

For the holidays, I'm preparing a briefer family history booklet, focused on the Wood family in World War II. I want to show the younger generation how the family's history is intertwined with local, national, and world history. So I'm writing about Edgar James Wood and his wife, Marian Jane McClure Wood, and their children (hubby included), during the 1940s.

First, I asked my husband and his siblings about their memories of that period. Although he was very young, hubby distinctly remembers the family sitting around the console radio on Sunday, the 7th of December, and hearing the news about the bombing of Pearl Harbor.* It's vivid in his mind because his parents were so upset by the news. And he remembers this happening in the living room of the family home at 1142 Cleveland Heights Blvd. in Cleveland Heights, Ohio.

Was hubby's memory correct? I wondered because I had these facts at hand (and mapped the addresses as shown above):
  • At the time of the 1940 Census, the Wood family lived at 13015 Edmondton Ave. in Cleveland. This was a $45/month rental, several blocks away from where Marian's parents lived.
  • In late November, 1942, the Wood family signed an agreement to purchase the Cleveland Heights Blvd. house. This was a few miles east of the rental where they lived in 1940.
  • Edgar Wood had told his son, during a 1983 interview, about giving up the rental and buying the home--but he never specified any dates.

To find out whether the Wood family actually lived on Cleveland Heights Blvd. in December, 1941, I needed another source--something from after the Census and before the purchase of the house on Cleveland Heights Blvd.

Lucky, lucky me. I dug deep into Ancestry's city directory catalog and found it has the 1941 Cleveland city directory!

Browsing the directory by street address, I checked who was living at the Edmondton Ave. address. The entry for that address showed as "vacant." The Wood family was NOT living there in 1941.

Then I checked who was living at the Cleveland Heights Blvd. address. And as you can see at left, the occupant was "Wood, Edgar J." In other words, my wonderful husband's memory was completely correct. He and his family had moved into their home by the time of Pearl Harbor.

This prompted me to reread the 1983 interview with my late father-in-law. He said he had been notified that his rental on Edmonton Ave. was going to be sold. So he and his wife Marian went shopping for a home, but he didn't mention any dates.

A realtor showed them the Cleveland Heights Blvd home, which had stood empty for a few years due to the Depression. Ed and Marian liked it but could only afford it if they began paying on a "land contract," with monthly payments going toward a downpayment qualifying them for a mortgage.

He stated that within about a year, they had paid in enough to obtain a regular mortgage and register the deed, which is dated late November, 1942. This was more confirmation of what the directory entries indicate: the family moved in before December, 1941.

Writing this family story about WWII forced me to double-check memories against the city directory and another family member's memories. In the process, I gained a better understanding of the family's financial situation during that time. And, of course, hubby's family will have yet another colorful booklet to enjoy, complete with maps and photos and sources, before the new year begins.

*If you want to hear some radio broadcasts from that day, check out the Internet Archive here.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Searching for Marian Jane McClure's Birth Record

Marian Jane McClure Wood (my late mother-in-law) was born on April 29, 1909, the only child of Brice Larimer McClure and Floyda Mabel Steiner.

Recently, my sis-in-law unearthed this earliest photo of Marian. Given the fancy white dress, was this possibly Marian's christening day? I don't know, but it seems to be a special occasion.

Since the photo was curled, I flattened it very gently to scan. After digitizing the photo, I saved a version as is and then created another copy.

On this second copy, I digitally added her name, birth/death years, and the notation shown on the back: "Photo taken 4 months after birth." This way, future generations will have some extra details along with the digitized copy. 

Following the discovery of this photo, I again went looking for a copy of Marian McClure's birth record. Alas, no luck, even though new records are being indexed, transcribed, and put online every day. It's not on "the usual sites" (Ancestry, Family Search) nor on the Ohio Vital Records, where I received the above "no exact match found" notice.

More research is in my future to locate her birth record! After all, having all the vital records of people in my direct line and my husband's direct line is a top priority.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Remembering Twins of an Earlier Generation

Probably Dorothy on left, Daisy on right
My mother (Daisy Schwartz Burk, 1919-1981) and her twin sister (Dorothy Schwartz, 1919-2001) were born in the Bronx on December 4th, 1919.

They were born just months after the 19th Amendment to the Constitution was passed, granting women the right to vote. This amendment was ratified by the summer of 1920 and in November of that year, women across America were able to vote in the Presidential election. 

Once they came of age, Mom and Auntie were always diligent about voting. The next generation of women in our family has been brought up to know the importance of exercising our right to vote in every election.

Missing Mom and Auntie on their special day and remembering them always, with love.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Connecting with "New" Cousins in 2017

My biggest genealogical breakthrough of 2017 came from ephemera that had been hidden away until May. These two pieces of paper provided the clues that allowed me to connect with a whole new set of cousins on my father's side of the family.

Here's the story, starting with the mystery of the 1910 Census. Some members of my Mahler family were living in New York City along with a "boarder," Jennie Birk. Now the reason this caught my eye is that Henrietta Mahler (my paternal grandma) had married Isaac Burk (my paternal grandpa) only a few years earlier. The year before their marriage, the 1905 Census showed Isaac and his brother Meyer living with the Mahler family in their NYC apartment, as "boarders." So the mystery was--did Jennie Birk have a family connection to my grandparents?

In May, Sis found Mom's old address book, and my paternal cousin found letters to/from his Mom, as shown above. I'd never heard of an "Aunt Jennie" in my Dad's family, and yet Dad's sister was writing to her "Aunt Jenny" in 1962. Mom's address book showed the same people (on the same street in Lakeland, Florida) in the early 1960s.

My next step was to research the NYC marriages on Italiangen.org, where I found that Jennie Burk had married Paul Salkofsky. Another few minutes of research revealed that Paul Salkofsky was naturalized as Paul Salkowitz. In other words, the address book and the letters had led me to my grandpa's sister, Jennie Birk Salkowitz.

Remember brother Meyer? He had been a "boarder" with the Mahler family when my grandpa Isaac was also a "boarder," the year before marrying a Mahler daughter. I eventually discovered that Meyer's surname was Berg and, as a result, I was able to trace Meyer's grandchildren.

Sis and I have met one of Meyer Berg's granddaughters and we've been sharing photos and family stories for months. What a great genealogical breakthrough for 2017!

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Review: "The Researcher's Guide to American Genealogy"


Disclosure: The Genealogical Publishing Company sent me a free copy of this book to review; I received no other consideration, and my comments are entirely my own.

This is the 4th edition of Val Greenwood's encyclopedic guide, and it's the first update since the 3rd edition of The Researcher's Guide to American Genealogy was published in 2000. As an experienced family-history researcher, I was particularly impressed by Part 1 (chapters 1-11), "Background to Research." This section lays out the many detailed steps in the process of conducting traditional genealogical research. Always on the lookout for ways to tune-up my process and structure my research, I came away with some new ideas for logical thinking and a renewed spirit of motivation after reading these chapters.

I liked Greenwood's careful explanations of how, exactly, to begin or continue researching a family's past. He reminds the reader why certain steps are important, as well as providing thoughtful examples to show how concepts are applied. For instance, in the chapter on surveying, analyzing, and planning, Greenwood provides a basic "T" chart for writing the research question, listing information known, and analyzing the implications. Then he follows up with a specific example showing how to put each piece of information into context during the planning stages of research. It was a refresher course for me, but I think beginners will especially appreciate the nitty-gritty techniques and tips for doing solid research in a logical manner.

Greenwood's writing is clear and reader-friendly, and he weaves in his opinions to let the reader decide how to proceed, adding a personal touch here and there. I came to this book with fresh eyes, having never seen the classic, older editions. Being fluent in computerese, I skipped the material about technology (Chapters 9 and 10, for example). I was much more interested in the author's approach to the overall topic. And I do wish this new edition could have been kept under 700 pages, with slightly larger type, for reasons of readability.


The Researcher's Guide to American Genealogy is strong on traditional research, and it's a useful addition to my reference shelf. Any time I want to check my logic or brush up on U.S. sources of genealogical information, this book will be within reach.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Surprise! I'm a RootsTech 2018 Winner

Just 10 days ago, I entered Caitlin Gow's contest to win a free #RootsTech 2018 pass. (I'd already registered for the conference a month earlier, as a #FirstTimer.)

And this morning, I woke up to the surprise news that my entry was the winner. Wow!

Caitlin's qualifying question was: If you could have been born in any other year, what would it be and why?

My answer was: If the genealogy genie could grant me this wish, I would choose to be born in 1886, the year that the Statue of Liberty was unveiled in New York harbor. She made her official debut on Oct 28, 1886, so my wish is to have that be my birthday, too. Imagine being born in the same year, as this icon of freedom and hope was presented to the country, with a million people watching.

I thought of Lady Liberty because so many of my immigrant ancestors passed her on their way into New York. It must have been a thrill and a relief to see her standing tall in the harbor and know that their ocean crossing was at an end--and a new life was about to start.

A big thank you to Caitlin, the RootsTech Ambassador who ran this contest. Check out her "Genealogically Speaking" blog here.

And a big thank you to the folks at RootsTech for providing this free pass, for which I'm truly grateful.

Salt Lake City, here I come in 2018. So many ancestors, so little time.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Kindle Countdown Deal: Buy My Book for Only 99 Cents

Black Friday is almost here! And that means the start of my first-ever Kindle Countdown Deal. From 1 am on Friday to 11 pm on Sunday, buy the Kindle version of Planning a Future for Your Family's Past for only 99 cents. Please click here for my Kindle edition.

For you or as a gift for a genealogy-obsessed friend, only 99 cents for 98 pages of practical, hands-on ideas:
  • Learn how to organize and analyze your genealogical materials, getting your collection ready for tomorrow while you uncover clues to solve family history mysteries today. My book includes specific suggestions for sorting materials, safely storing them, captioning photos, inventorying what you have, and indexing for new insights.
  • Decide what to keep and what to give away. You'll get ideas for winnowing down your collection by giving duplicate items to other family members and, if you choose, donating artifacts to institutions that will preserve them for the future.
  • See how to set up a genealogical "will," by identifying heirs to receive your photos and documents and writing down your instructions to clarify your wishes. Don't let your precious research end up in a flea market or garbage bin.
  • Share with heirs--now. Tell the stories, show the photos, explain DNA results, and get relatives excited about your family's history. It's their heritage too!
  • Kindle book includes dozens of hotlinks to online resources accessible with just a click while you read. Plus sample forms in the back of the book will help you get organized and stay organized.
Thanks for passing the word about this special deal. And please do me the favor of reviewing on Amazon! Your feedback would mean a lot to me. Thank you again.

PS: If you have Kindle Unlimited on Amazon, don't forget that you can read my book for free, anytime. 

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Thanksgivings of the Past

Happy Thanksgiving! I looked back in diaries, postcards, meeting minutes, and other bits and pieces of my genealogical collection to get a glimpse of what happened on Thanksgivings of the past in my family and my husband's family.*
  • The strangely-colored postcard at right, from the 1910s, was received in East Cleveland by hubby's uncle, Wallis W. Wood. The sender was "Aunt Nellie" (Rachel Ellen Wood Kirby), who lived in Chicago and never missed an opportunity to send holiday or birthday greetings to her nephews and nieces in the Wood family.
  • On Thanksgiving Day of 1959, my late father-in-law (Edgar J. Wood) received the exciting news that he would be a grandfather for the first time during 1960. How do I know? He wrote about it in his diary!
  • On Thanksgiving Day of 1950, my grandma's Farkas family gathered at the C&L Restaurant in Manhattan for dinner and accordion entertainment, at $6 per person. My parents, Daisy Schwartz and Harry Burk, told the family they were buying a TV set to celebrate their wedding anniversary (they married on November 24, 1946). I read about it in the minutes of the Farkas Family Tree.
  • The Farkas Family Tree and spouses and children pitched in to have a photo taken of everyone who attended the Thanksgiving Day dinner at a Manhattan hotel in 1956. It was a large group! Again, the story of planning this dinner and the photography is straight out of the tree's monthly minutes, which I scanned and indexed a few years ago.
  • My aunt Dorothy Schwartz worked on the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade with her long-time friend and partner, Lee Wallace, from 1950-1952. Lee was then the head of public relations for Macy's, and Dorothy was her assistant. Then my aunt got her teaching license and left the world of retail to teach typing and shorthand at Christopher Columbus High School in the Bronx. Yes, this is the same aunt who was a WAC during WWII.

 *Not including hubby's Mayflower ancestors celebrating Thanksgiving, of course. That's the oldest "Thanksgiving of the Past" story I can tell to my family for the holiday.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Saluting Pilgrim Ancestors

As Thanksgiving approaches, I want to salute my husband's four Pilgrim ancestors who arrived on the Mayflower: Isaac Allerton, his wife Mary Norris Allerton, their daughter Mary Allerton, and Degory Priest.

Sadly, neither Degory Priest nor Mary Norris Allerton survived the first year at Plymouth.

There's a new Mayflower Heritage page on AmericanAncestors.org with lots of great details about the Pilgrims, including a page where descendants can be listed. I'm going to check that out!

Reading the Mayflower Society's listing of notable descendants, I see that hubby's connection to Isaac Allerton means he's distantly related to: Louis Comfort Tiffany, Joanne Woodward, Franklin D. Roosevelt (also descended from Degory Priest), and Zachary Taylor. Thanks to the Degory Priest connection, hubby is also distantly related to Richard Gere.

In just a few years, we'll be celebrating the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower's arrival.

Feeling thankful this Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 17, 2017

Beyond "Google Your Family Tree"

I was lucky enough to be in the audience yesterday when Dan Lynch talked about the 6 most important search commands needed to "Google Your Family Tree." Having seen Dan speak a number of years ago, and having read his book cover to cover (it's now out of print), it was very educational to hear him update this important topic.

One of the Google "operators" (commands for searching) was new to me, not even mentioned in his book. (BTW, a command he used to advocate using, the tilde, is no longer a Google operator, so he suggested we not bother using it.)

Dan showed how to filter the millions of search results to focus on the most relevant genealogy results by using these key search commands, alone or in combination:
AND
OR
"" (quotation marks)
- (minus sign)
* (wild card)
AROUND(insert number here).

Here's what was new to me: AROUND(#) instructs Google to search for a word or phrase in proximity to another word or phrase by defining the number of words between them. 

To try this kind of search yourself, first do a search for "Google" and go to the Google search home page of your choice. I usually use the US home page, but if you want to search in another country or language, start on that home page (such as Google Canada).

The point is to go fishing in the Google ocean closest to where you would like Google results. Of course, Google often presents results from many countries and in many languages. But by starting on the home page of the nation you particularly want to search, it's more likely that results from that nation will be closer to the top of the list.


Next, choose two phrases (such as names or a name and a place) and choose how many words should separate those names or phrases. Above, my search executed on the Google Canada home page. I'm looking for hubby's great uncle, Captain John Daniel Slatter, who was the long-serving bandmaster of the 48th Highlanders regiment of Toronto.

This search is very restrictive because I'm telling Google to look for highly specific results--only results that have the exact phrase "John D. Slatter" within 4 words (no more than that) of the exact phrase "48th Highlanders." If the words or phrases are 5 words apart, they won't appear in my results. If the words or phrases are 3 or 2 words apart, they will be in my results.

Doing this search, Google tells me I have "around 2,150 results" which sounds more reasonable to check out than, say, 150,000 results or 1,500,000 results. Of course, I already know enough about Capt. Slatter to know he was part of the 48th Highlanders. In this search, I'm trying to locate new material about his role in that regiment.

In reality, Google filtered my actual results even further, omitting results that were very similar to the ones presented on the two pages of results I actually saw. This is typical, and I'm sure you often see that as well. We always have the option to click and repeat with duplicate or similar entries included in the results. Dan hammered home the point that we should always, always click beyond the first page of results. You just never know when an important nugget will be at the bottom of page 2 or even page 5.

In my example, the entire first page of results consisted of entries in my own blog, plus two "we found John Slatter" entries trying to get me to click for his phone number, etc.
However, the second page of results had an entry I'd never seen! It was for the Toronto Conservatory of Music year book of 1914-15, posted for free on the Internet Archive (https://archive.org).

I clicked and then, to save time scrolling and scrolling for the highlighted text, I searched within the book. Capt. Slatter appeared twice. The first appearance was in a listing of lessons being offered to students. Here it is, in the wording and typeface as it appeared in the year book:

         TUBA— John D. Slatter, Bandmaster 48th Highlanders 15.00 

This is how AROUND(#) works. It found me something I hadn't found in the past. I'm going to experiment with different versions of Capt. Slatter's name and different number of words for proximity with his regiment, his wife's name, and other family members.

Have you tried searching the Internet for your ancestors using the AROUND(#) operator? If not, go ahead and give it a try!

PS: Don't forget to look at image results. Maybe you'll get really lucky and find an ancestor's photo.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Family Greetings for Thanksgiving, 1910

Here's another postcard among the several dozen sent to my husband's uncle, Wallis W. Wood (1905-1957), by his aunts, uncles, and first cousins. The year this colorful card was sent was 1910, when Wallis was only five years old. It gives me insight into understanding the Wood family and their connections a century ago.

The cousin sending the card was, I believe, Dorothy Louise Baker (1897-1981), daughter of Adelaide "Ada" Mary Ann Slatter Baker (1868-1947) and James Sills Baker (1866-1937). "Ada" was the sister of little Wallis's mother, Mary Slatter Wood (1869-1925). So this is one first cousin writing to another first cousin.

The card says: "Do not eat too much dinner tomorrow, Dorothy & Brother Garrett are going to have dinner with us tomorrow. From cousin Dorothy." 

Was 13-year-old Dorothy Baker talking about cousins on her mother's side or her father's side? Either way, she knew this card would be read not by the recipient, who was barely in kindergarten, but by an adult. I'm sure the adult(s) knew exactly who Dorothy meant. Dorothy was a common name in the family, but not Garrett. I'm still investigating various possibilities.

I especially noticed the address, 12513 Lancelot Avenue in Cleveland. I took a virtual field trip to this address a few years ago and the house there still stands, looking much as it did when first built by James Edgar Wood (1871-1939), the father of the little boy who received this card 107 years ago.

Postcards like this show how valuable ephemera can be in understanding family dynamics from generations past. In the Wood and Slatter families, holiday greetings were sent for every possible occasion, from Easter and Christmas to New Year's and Halloween. Birthday cards were exchanged, too. The adults clearly wanted to be sure that youngsters in the next generation knew each other and stayed in touch!

Monday, November 13, 2017

Genealogy Word of the Day: Ramage

Have you ever heard of the word ramage, which means a group of people descended from a single individual? Me neither.

Until November 3d, when it was the calendar word of the day, shown above.

Go ahead, use it in a sentence. Here's my first try:
I'm researching the ramage of Thomas Haskell Wood, including five daughters and 12 sons.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Ancestor Timeline Reveals Gaps (Gasp)

Randy Seaver's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun this week was to create a timeline for one ancestor and explain how we created it, along with the image.

Since I'm still a RootsMagic7 newbie (less than 4 months' experience), I was delighted to follow Randy's detailed directions for how he created his ancestor's timeline in RM7. I did the same for my 2d great uncle, Bela Bernard Roth (1865-1941). His first wife was Sali/Zali Kunstler (? - 1895), sister to my great-grandma Leni Kunstler Farkas (1865-1938). Bela's parents were Shlomo/Salomon Roth and Hannah Klein.

After I created the timeline in RM7, I took a screen shot with my "Preview" function for Mac. To do that, I selected just the timeline itself as it appeared on my screen and saved it as a .jpg. There is more info available in the timeline, but I didn't include all in this screen shot.

As Randy indicates, the look is bare-bones but practical. At a glance, I can see how old Bela is during each moment on the timeline. When his children were born, when he came to America the first and second times, at the point of each census, when he died.

This timeline reveals (gasp!) gaps for me to research. For instance, Bela had four more children with his second wife (Bertha Batia Weiss, 1885-1967), including one mentioned in a 1907 passenger manifest and a 1914 passenger manifest.

This son, Imre (or Emery) Roth, vanished before the 1920 U.S. Census. He's a gap that I'd like to fill with more information so I can record him and honor his memory. For now, Bela's timeline will have to state that son Imre/Emery died "before 1920."

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Saluting the Veterans in Our Family Trees

With gratitude for their service, today I'm saluting some of the many veterans from my family tree and my husband's family tree.


Let me begin with my husband's Slatter family in Canada. Above, second from left is Capt. John Daniel Slatter of the 48th Highlanders in Toronto. He was my hubby's great uncle, an older brother to hubby's Grandma Mary Slatter Wood, and he was a world-famous bandmaster in his time.

At far left of the photo is Capt. Slatter's son, Lt. Frederick William Slatter, who fought at the Battle of Vimy Ridge during WWI. Third from left is John Hutson Slatter, grandson of Capt. Slatter, who enlisted in the Canadian military in the spring of 1940 for service in WWII. At far right is another of Capt. Slatter's sons, Lt. Albert Matthew Slatter, who served in Canada's No. 4 Company of 15th Battalion and then in the 48th Highlanders of Toronto. (Albert was the father of John Hutson Slatter.)

Grandma Mary Slatter Wood had two other distinguished bandmaster brothers active in the Canadian military early in the 1900s: Henry Arthur Slatter (who served in the 72d Seaforth Highlanders of Vancouver) and Albert William Slatter (who served in the 7th London Fusiliers of Ontario).


In my family tree, a number of folks served in World War II. Above, 2d from left in front row is my father, Harold D. Burk, who was in the US Army Signal Corps in Europe. His brother, Sidney Burk, also served during WWII, stationed in Hawaii. And I've recently written a lot about my aunt, Dorothy Schwartz, who was a WAC and received the Bronze Star for her service in Europe. My uncle, Dorothy's brother Fred, was in Europe serving with the Army, as well.

Meanwhile, my mother, Daisy Schwartz, was busy selling war bonds in NYC and corresponding with maybe a dozen GIs to keep their spirits up. When Mom wrote the historian's report for the Farkas Family Tree association at the end of 1943, she reflected the entire family's feelings about their relatives fighting for freedom.
For the coming year, the earnest hope of all is that 1944 will find the Axis vanquished and our boys home. All that is unrelated to the war effort must be sublimated to the present struggle to which some in our group have pledged their lives. The rest of us pledge our aid. The Allies will be victorious--God is on our side!

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Genealogy, Free or Fee: Ask an Archivist!






































In a recent entry, I told how I discovered that a letter written by my Aunt Dorothy H. Schwartz (1919-2001) was included in With Love, Jane, a compilation of correspondence from WWII servicewomen edited by Alma Lutz.

As shown in the table of contents at right, Sgt. Schwartz's letter was on p. 104, one of more than a dozen contributed by "Indispensable WACS."

My aunt's letter began with the salutation: "Dear ____" and had a vague date ("1943").

Who, I wondered, was my Auntie writing to? And when did she actually write the letter that wound up being printed?

I did an online search to find out more about Alma Lutz, and learned that her literary notes and other papers were in the archives of her alma mater, Vassar.

You know what I did next, right? I picked up the phone and called the archives, leaving word about my request for more information about the author's contact with my aunt.

An hour later, I had a return call from the archives! They were delighted to do a quick search for materials from my aunt. And an hour after that, I received an email from the archivist, attaching the pdfs of two V-mail letters from my aunt to Alma Lutz. (Thank you, wonderful archivist! No lengthy wait, no fee.)

You can see the second of the letters to Alma Lutz at top, in which my aunt claims not to remember who she was writing to, not even the approximate date of that letter.

As the archivist said in his email to me: "So, while I can't solve the mystery of 'Dear Blank,' I hope that I can at least provide a little context for its inclusion in the final volume."

The V-mails did indeed give me more background about my aunt and her wartime activities. Now you know why I suggest that researchers go ahead and "ask an archivist."

NOTE: For more "Free or Fee" tips for genealogy, please see my special page here.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Honor Roll Project: WWI Veterans from Southbury, Connecticut


For Veteran's Day, I'm pleased to participate in the Honor Roll Project by photographing and transcribing the names of veterans as shown on monuments in Southbury, Connecticut.

Above, the WWI plaque honoring those who served from 1917 to 1919. In alphabetical order as shown on the plaque, they are:

Joseph Alseph
Jesse M. Bailey
Thomas Bale
William C. Ballard
Edward Bayon
Ernest H. Beardsley
Harold A. Benedict
Joseph Birtkus
Edward L. Bradley
Howard G. Brewer
J. Edward Coer
Milton B. Coer
Arthur Colepaugh
Edward Coon
Harold Davis (in memoriam)
Thomas Derry
John T. Fleming
William J. Furby
George J. Grisgraber
Grover C. Harrison
William H. Harrison
Bly B. Hicock
Harold Hicock
George F. Hine
Edward Hinman, Jr.
Herbert G. Hoefler
Daniel J. Hogan
Louis Hoyt
Herbert A. Ingram
Robert H. Johnson
Harvey S. Judd
Louis Jullott
James F. Keefe
Augustus M. Kelly
Joel Carl Klang
John J. Malane
David Marshall
Leroy E. Mitchell
Daniel J. Moriarty
George Newton (in memoriam)
Charles E. Norton
Alfred N. Platt
Christopher W. Platt
John Le Roy Pierce
Samuel I. Pierce
John Rogers
William Rooney
Charles M. Seeley
George F. Shelton
Joseph Sinkavach
Henry T. Skelding
Marjorie Skelding
Paul Skelding
Edward Smith
George H. Smith
Le Roy B. Smith
Wesley Smith
Alexander Volage
John P. Volage
Edwin J. Walston
H. Earl Wentsch
Roger P. Williams
Howard W. Wordin
Frederick Yaeger

Monday, November 6, 2017

The Case Against Paperless Genealogy

Sorry, paperless genealogy is NOT for me. Some avid genealogists advocate digitizing everything, not downloading any paper copies, and/or not printing images/documents found during research. Not me. I print everything. I file everything. Under more than one surname, if applicable.

Why print in the digital age?

Walter Isaacson--the author of the best-selling bio of Steve Jobs and, now, the best-selling book about Leonardo da Vinci--sums up my main reason in one sentence. Let me quote him (you can read the entire interview here):
Paper turns out to be a superb information-storage technology, still readable after 500 years, which our own tweets likely (and fortunately) won't be.
Isaacson was privileged to read more than 7,000 pages of da Vinci's own notebooks. And he found more than just words: the man's personality shines through in the scribbles and sketches that adorn the pages. So not only can paper survive, it also can reveal clues to ancestors' inner thoughts and feelings. 

Technology comes and goes, as anyone who's ever had to unlearn WordPerfect and learn MS Word can attest. Anyone who began storing data on those big floppy discs and migrated to mini-discs and migrated to CDs and migrated to flash drives. And to the cloud, then to whatever overtakes the cloud.

Meanwhile, paper lives on and on. My goal is to ensure that the next generation inherits family history. Will they learn my technology? No. Will they open my files and archival boxes and leaf through photos and certificates and memorabilia? Yes!

At top, the back of a 1930s business card from hubby's grandpa, Brice Larimer McClure. Sometime before his death in 1970, he took cards and scraps of paper and recorded facts about his ancestors and the ancestors of his wife, Floyda Mabel Steiner McClure.

This card shows the birth years of Floyda and her siblings, including the infant who died young (I eventually found proof to confirm Brice's recollection).

Being able to pick out this card from Brice's effects gave us a headstart on piecing together the entire generation of Steiners. And some grandkids think it's a bit amazing to hold in their hands a business card that's now more than 80 years old, while they hear stories of how the family made ends meet during the Depression.

All in all, I plan to keep up the paper chase and leave a paper trail for future generations. AND I'm also digitizing everything, by the way, and doing daily/hourly backups to keep the data safe, filed by family and surname on my hard drives, flash drives, and cloud backups. But paper is my secret strategy for passing what I've learned to the younger generation. It worked for older generations--and it will work for mine.

--

For ideas about storing documents and paper in archival boxes, please check out my concise genealogy book, Planning a Future for Your Family's Past, available from Amazon (paperback and Kindle versions).

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Sentimental Sunday: Delving into Edgar James Wood's Diaries

Exactly 48 years ago, my late father- and mother-in-law were on the final leg of a two-month European trip. At that point, Edgar James Wood and Marian Jane McClure Wood were both retired and enjoyed touring Italy in particular, for the art as much as for the architecture and the food ;)

I know all this because Ed kept a diary every day for more than 30 years, and I'm lucky enough to have them (and have already indexed them, searching for clues to genealogical mysteries).

Above, the entry for November 3-6, 1969. Ed and Marian had gone to Europe this time with Ed's British-born sister-in-law, Rosalind Ashby Wood. Ed took Italian lessons on board ship and when the ship docked, the three went sightseeing together.

One of the reasons I enjoy Ed's diaries is because of his comments. He usually noted the weather and such ("sea got rough, safety ropes put up"). And he had an opinion on all the entertainment, such as these quotes excerpted from above:
  • Movie: "The Love Bug," in P.M. Very good, about a V.W.
  • Movie: "The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie." Adult. Good.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Sepia Saturday: Use Photos to Sharpen Family Memories



My husband remembers that his father (Edgar James Wood) would take all the children out for a drive on Sunday afternoons while his mother (Marian Jane McClure Wood) cooked a special dinner.

They lived in Cleveland Heights, and his father would drive around to various spots, entertaining three kids under 8 for a couple of hours every week.

As the self-appointed family historian, my question was, of course: Where did he take you?

Well, there are some rather general family stories about these drives. But when my sister-in-law recently rediscovered a cache of old family photos taken by their father, more specific memories flooded back.

Here is a very atmospheric photo that my late father-in-law took of his two oldest children staring at a steam locomotive. Hubby immediately remembered going to Collinwood Yards. Actually, his memory was Collingwood, but a quick online search confirmed Collinwood was a thriving railroad center in East Cleveland, serving the New York Central RR.

We found photos and maps and other details about Collinwood Yards online. Such as the Cleveland Memory Project and the Rails & Trails maps, to name just two.

Old photos really help to sharpen family memories! I'm writing everything down, captions to go along with photos, for the sake of the next generation and beyond.

--

For ideas about storing family photos and captioning them safely via labels on the outside of archival sleeves, please check out my concise genealogy book, Planning a Future for Your Family's Past, available from Amazon (paperback and Kindle versions).


Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Confessions of a Downsizing Genealogist


As a downsizing genealogist, I have to confess: I've decided there's no reason for me to have to keep every photo or artifact that once belonged to my ancestors. In fact, because I no longer have as much storage room as I once did, I've been actively giving things away for the past few years. Finding good homes for every item, I might add. Of course, before anything leaves my possession, I photograph it and document it for my files, a way to preserve my family's past for the future even after an artifact passes to someone else.

How to decide what to keep and what to part with? I sort items into three categories and consult with my family before making final decisions.
  • Category 1: Items of personal and family significance that should remain in my immediate family (me, my siblings, or our direct descendants)
  • Category 2: Items that should remain in the family, more generally (hand off to cousins if possible)
  • Category 3: Items that have no particular family history importance but have some significance outside the family (donate if possible)
In category 1, I put items like my parents' wedding album, their original mahogany bedroom set, and needlepoint done by my mother. These I'm keeping and bequeathing to the next generation, along with the stories of who, what, when, where, and why. In a future post, I'll talk about how to handle situations where there's one original but multiple heirs.

In category 2, I put items like photos from family gatherings--especially if I have duplicates. My first and second cousins now have original photos of their parents and photos of our families taken for special occasions, for example. And I have digital copies, annotated, of everything, for my research records. Whenever possible, I give away originals not in my direct line, so these will be inherited by the next generation.

In category 3, I put items like air-raid posters, bank ledgers from non-relatives, and the 30 years of Playbills shown in the picture at top (collected by going to Broadway or off-Broadway shows). The family isn't really attached to these, and they don't add to research about ancestors. Still, they are worthy of being saved somewhere for their historical or cultural meaning. So I asked a cousin in college whether her theater teacher might be interested, and the answer was yes!

With permission, I donated hundreds of Playbills to the university's theater library, knowing that they will serve as valuable source material when students research a play or an actor. As the teacher pointed out, seeing ads of the time and reading interviews with the stars provides important context for each play. My family and I felt good that these items are not only in a new home, but have a new purpose.

--
For more tips like this, please take a look at my 98-page genealogy book, Planning a Future for Your Family's Past, available from Amazon (paperback and Kindle versions). And if you already have my book, please would you take a moment and write a review on Amazon? Thank you so much!

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Family History Month: Sgt. Schwartz, "The Woman Behind the Man Behind the Gun"

Excerpt from my aunt's published letter in With Love, Jane by Alma Lutz
The year was 1943, and my aunt Dorothy H. Schwartz (1919-2001) was only 23 years old when she arrived in England as a WAC. She wrote home to a friend about her feelings as a servicewoman and her satisfaction at having a meaningful role in the war effort.

Auntie Dorothy's letter was one of several dozen included in With Love, Jane, a compilation edited by Alma Lutz, a "leader in the fight for woman suffrage and equal rights" (quoting Vassar College's biographical note).

Happily for me, the interlibrary loan system enabled me to put my hands on a copy of this 199-page book, published in 1945.

Carefully turning the pages, because the binding is a little wobbly after 72 years, I read my aunt's thoughts about being in the Army during WWII and her pride at being "the woman behind the man behind the gun." 

Here an excerpt from the first half of Sgt. Dorothy H. Schwartz's letter as printed in Alma Lutz's volume. And to borrow my aunt's words--you're darn right I'm proud!

Dear ___,

It is close to 0400, Army time; in anybody's time, when life is at its lowest ebb. I'm not writing because I'm unable to sleep. I'm writing during a pause in my work, for my shift is from midnight to 0730, and I'm writing because of a real desire to talk to you. This is the only way it can be done, for we are thousands of miles apart and I can't call you over the phone and hear your low, clear voice reaching me across the miles . . . But I can see you so well in your letters, I know you can read into these lines my own facial expressions, my movements, my very tones, and that you will understand full well what I am trying to say.

I don't know what it is like outside since I came on duty, for my job is to stick at this desk no matter what happens and not leave it. But probably it is deep, dark night with heavy, low clouds, and the thick mist which obscured everything more than a foot away is burdening the earth. You can believe everything you read or see in the movies about English mist and fog and rain--none of it can be exaggerated. It isn't always like this. I guess I've seen every kind of weather at every hour of the day or night by this time, and England would be beautiful to me whatever the weather.

England! Even now, when the initial excitement has long since passed off, when we have been here long enough to have settled down completely--even now, I say, to use "England" as a return address is still startling at times. And how I revel in this piece of fortune! To be able to visualize myself finally and easily as the woman behind the man behind the gun--could any dream come true be more satisfying? You're darn right I'm proud.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Family History Month: The "M" That Wasn't


My brain was out to lunch the day I found "Maggie" Steiner's marriage to Mr. Sutherland. They were married on November 2, 1884, in Wyandot county, Ohio, where other Steiner relatives lived. Maggie was hubby's great-great aunt, not very close, so I wasn't planning to spend a lot of time researching her and her family.

The transcription/index of their marriage said the groom was "Morris M. Sutherland." A really quick look at the righthand side of the original document* (above) seemed to confirm that, so I typed in Morris and moved along.

That was then, this is now: I've been linking more and more of my husband's Steiner ancestors in Find A Grave, part of my Genealogy Go-Over. But I was stumped about this couple's death dates and burial places. No Morris to be found. Huh?

Retracing my research, I brought up the image of their marriage record. This time, I looked carefully at each instance of his name, which appears three times on the document.

Two of the three times, he's named "Norris M. Sutherland." Only on the right side is he called "Morris." Ooops.

As soon as I changed my search to "Norris M. Sutherland," he and Maggie popped up all over the place. I've submitted edits to Find A Grave, linking her to her parents and to her spouse's real name, Norris.

Lesson learned: Read the original thoroughly the first time, carefully, to save time later. And resolve any conflicts the first time, by double-checking with other records and sources.

*You always look at the original when the image is available, right? Don't trust the transcription or index alone. Here, I looked at the original but only for a moment--so don't make my mistake. Examine the original with care!

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Family History Month: The Farkas Family During the Depression

25th anniversary of Farkas Family Tree association
Starting in 1933, the Farkas Family Tree held 10 meetings a year. Charter members were the 10 children of my maternal great-grandparents, Moritz Farkas (1857-1936) and Leni Kunstler Farkas (1865-1938).

Moritz and Lena were proclaimed honorary members at the first FFT meeting in March, 1933. Since nearly all of the charter members lived in the New York City area, the meetings were a way of keeping family ties as tight as possible.

Luckily, the FFT kept written minutes at every meeting. Although some of the 1940s minutes haven't survived, I've scanned and indexed the hundreds of existing minutes for in-depth research and to safeguard for the next generation.

Outside the family, there was a Depression. Inside, the focus was on births and birthdays, weddings and anniversaries, get-well wishes for ill members, remembering relatives who died, planning family outings, and--food, food, food!

So what were my Farkas ancestors doing at their October meetings in the 1930s?
  • At meeting #5, in October of 1933, "there was much joy and commotion at getting together again" after the summer break. The Entertainment Committee planned a card party of bridge, hearts, and poker for the November meeting, saying there would be "one prize each for a man and woman who are the biggest losers."
  • At meeting #15, in October of 1934, the discussion centered on securing a restaurant or hotel banquet room for a family Thanksgiving dinner the following month. This was the first of many annual family Thanksgivings celebrated together.
  • Because of scheduling conflicts, there was no October meeting in 1935. The first meeting of the fall was held on Sept. 29th, followed by a poker party. "All were winners," according to the minutes.
  • In October of 1936, my maternal grandparents (Hermina Farkas Schwartz and Tivador Schwartz) were congratulated on their 25th wedding anniversary. The tree created a committee to choose a gift for this occasion. Attendees chowed down on coffee, strudel, cheese, and sardines. Really, this is what the minutes said.
  • In October of 1937, the treasurer reported cash on hand of $241.91 (the equivalent of nearly $4,200 in today's dollars). The tree was planning ahead, buying grave plots in New Montefiore Cemetery on Long Island. And in another forward-thinking move, the tree voted to buy movie film to capture highlights of the family's year.
  • At meeting #51 in October of 1938, members voted to spend 50 cents for cemetery maintenance and $3 for movie film. A special committee was formed to plan the upcoming Thanksgiving dinner, at a per-person price of $1.75.
  • During meeting #61 in October of 1939, $3 was allotted for movie film, leaving a treasury balance of $79.94. Members planned the Thanksgiving dinner, to be held that year in the Hamilton Hotel. But there was one snag: "For our Thanksgiving Dinner, we would not be able to get the magician as planned. Music will be supplied by the victrola which the Freedmans have kindly offered to bring."

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Family History Month: Looking for the Bentley Family

Lucy Emeline Bentley (1826-1900) was my husband's 2d great-grandma, married to 2d-great-grandpa Brice Larimer (1819-1906).

She was the middle child of 7 children born to Olivia Morgan (1799?-1838) and William Tyler Bentley (1795-1873).

I've been tracing the Bentley family for nearly a decade, with no luck getting further back than patriarch William Tyler Bentley. He and his wife and children were enumerated in Sandy Creek, Oswego county, New York, in the 1830 Census. The family moved to Elkhart county, Indiana, in 1835, according to The History of Elkhart County (p. 1071).

By 1841, however, Olivia had passed away and William Tyler Bentley was raising the children on his own. Later, he left for California as part of the Gold Rush, and he died in Tulare, CA, at the age of 77, not having remarried.

Lucy Bentley, meanwhile, married Brice Larimer in Elkhart in 1847, and they had 4 children together. The last US Census where Lucy appears is in 1900 (see excerpt at top). The enumerator visited the Larimer household in Clinton township, Elkhart, Indiana on the 18th of June.

Just one week later, 73-year-old Lucy took a hard fall and suffered a concussion. She died on the 28th of June in 1900 and is buried in Brown Cemetery, Millersburg, Indiana.

Any Bentley cousins out there? 

Friday, October 27, 2017

Family History Month: TUVWXYZ Surnames

Edward Wirtschafter, Mary Schwartz Wirtschafter (front left), and her friend
In this last of 5 posts listing surnames being researched, I'm highlighting T-Z names in hubby's McClure/Wood tree and my Farkas/Schwartz (maternal line) and Mahler/Burk (paternal line) trees.

McClure/Wood tree:
  • T is for Taber
  • T is for Traxler
  • V is for Van Roe
  • V is for Velpel
  • W is for Welburn
  • W is for Wilt
  • W is for Wood
  • W is for Work
  • W is for Wrona
  • Z is for Zollinger
Farkas/Schwartz tree:
  • W is for Weinberger
  • W is for Weiss/Weisz
  • W is for Wirtschafter
Mahler/Burk tree:
  • V is for Venezky
  • V is for Vinokur
  • V is for Volk
  • W is for Whitelaw
  • W is for Wilner/Willner
  • W is for Wolf

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Family History Month: NOPQRS Surnames

Four Steiner sisters in Upper Sandusky, Ohio, late 1930s
This is my next-to-last post with alphabetical surnames being researched on hubby's McClure/Wood tree and my maternal tree (Farkas/Schwartz) and paternal tree (Mahler/Burk).

McClure/Wood tree:
  • N is for Nitchie
  • O is for O'Gallagher (possibly Gallagher)
  • P is for Peabody
  • P is for Piper
  • P is for Post
  • P is for Priest (as in Degory)
  • R is for Rhuark
  • R is for Rinehart
  • R is for Rozelle
  • S is for Shank
  • S is for Shehen
  • S is for Short
  • S is for Slatter
  • S is for Simmons
  • S is for Smith
  • S is for Steiner
Mahler/Burk tree:
  • N is for Nemensinsky
  • O is for Ohayon
  • P is for Paris (or Peris)
  • P for Pompionsky
  • R is for Roth
  • S is for Sacks/Sachs
  • S is for Salkowitz
  • S is for Schlanger
  • S is for Schwartz
  • S is for Segal
  • S is for Shuham
  • S is for Siegel/Siegal
  • S is for Sobel
Farkas/Schwartz
  • R is for Rethy
  • R is for Roth
  • S is for Schwartz
  • S is for Simonowitz
  • S is for Steinberger/Stanbury

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Family History Month: IJKLM Surnames


Meyer Mahler, Tillie Jacobs Mahler, and their children
Now for the middle batch of the ABCs of surnames, beginning with I and ending with M. Above, an important M family on my tree: The Mahler family.

McClure/Wood tree:
  • J is for Johnson
  • K is for Kenny
  • K is for Kirby
  • L is for Larimer
  • L is for Larkworthy
  • L is for Le Gallais
  • L is for Lervis
  • L is for Lower
  • M is for McClure
  • M is for McKibbin/McKibben
  • M is for Murray
Mahler/Burk tree:
  • J is for Jacob
  • K is for Kodritck
  • L is for Lang
  • L is for Lawrence
  • L is for Leboff
  • L is for Lebowitz
  • L is for Levin
  • L is for Luria
  • M is for Mahler
  • M is for Markell
  • M is for Mikalovsky
  • M is for Mitav
Farkas/Schwartz tree:
  • K is for Katz
  • K is for Keidansky
  • K is for Klein
  • K is for Kunstler
  • L is for Levy
  • L is for Lewis
  • L is for Lipson
  • M is for Mandel
  • M is for Markovitz
  • M is for Moscovitz

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Family History Month: DEFGH Surnames

Lucille Ethel McClure de Velde with her husband, John Everett de Velde, and her mother, Margaret Jane Larimer McClure, before 1913
Today, more alphabetical surnames from three family trees I'm researching. These are D through H on each tree. Three more posts to go in the coming days as I complete the ABC surname meme.

McClure/Wood tree:
  • D is for de Velde
  • D is for Demarest
  • D is for Denning
  • D is for Devore
  • E is for Eagle
  • E is for Everitt
  • F is for Forde
  • F is for Fowler
  • F is for Freeland
  • G is for Grassley
  • G is for Gregg
  • H is for Haggarty/Haggerty
  • H is for Haglind
  • H is for Halbedel
  • H is for Hathaway
  • H is for Heemsoth
  • H is for Herrold
  • H is for Hilborn
  • H is for Hopperton
  • H is for Humrickhouse
Mahler/Burk tree:
  • E is for Epstein
  • E is for Etschel
  • G is for Gaffin
  • G is for Gennis
  • G is for Goldfarb
  • G is for Goodfield
  • H is for Harris
  • H is for Horwich
Farkas/Schwartz tree:
  • E is for Ezrati
  • F is for Farber
  • F is for Farkas
  • G is for Gelbman
  • G is for Girson
  • G is for Gutfried
  • H is for Hurwitch/Hurwitz/Horwich

Monday, October 23, 2017

Family History Month: ABC Surnames

Nellie Block (middle), Jennie Birk Salkowitz (right), and a brother (which one?)
Over at Olive Tree Genealogy, Lorine McGinnis Schultze has adapted the ABC surname meme and I'm following her lead with the ABC surnames (spouses included) of hubby's McClure/Wood tree and my Mahler/Burk and Farkas/Schwartz trees. Four more alphabetical listings in the days to come!

McClure/Wood ABC surnames:
  • A is for Adams
  • A is for Allen
  • A is for Allerton
  • A is for Auld
  • A is for Austin
  • B is for Baker
  • B is for Bentley
  • B is for Bradford
  • B is for Brown 
  • C is for Caldwell
  • C is for Carsten
  • C is for Cloud
  • C is for Coble
  • C is for Cook
  • C is for Coombs
  • C is for Cornwell
  • C is for Cragg
  • C is for Curtis
  • C is for Cushman
Mahler/Burk ABC surnames:

  • A is for Ash
  • B is for Berg/Berk/Birk/Burk/Burke/Block/Bloch
  • B is for Berkman
  • B is for Blauman
  • B is for Bourstein
  • B is for Burack
  • C is for Caplan
  • C is for Casson
  • C is for Chazan
  • C is for Cherry
  • C is for Claman
  • C is for Cohn
Farkas/Schwartz ABC surnames:
  • A is for Adelman
  • A is for Agata
  • C is for Cohen

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Family History Month: Three Belles in the Bronx

Until I wrote this blog post, I didn't know what to call the technique used in this reverse-glass-painted picture that graced the walls of my childhood bedroom for so long.

This appears to be a modern form of tinsel painting, a 19th-century folk art where people or objects are painted in reverse on glass, then embossed foils from cigar boxes or tea packages are placed behind the glass to add dimension and texture.

Sis and I remember that our parents knew the person who painted this mid-20th-century piece, which features three graceful Southern Belles. Her memory is that the guy was a dentist whose hobby was tinsel painting, and many people saved beautiful foil for him.

Maybe the painter didn't know it would be displayed in the bedroom of three little girls growing up in the Bronx, New York?

The photo above doesn't do justice to this heirloom. Each area of the glass has a different embossed foil behind it. The fashion details are painted just as carefully as the delicate facial features. Now these belles are being passed down to the next generation, along with the family story.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Family History Month: Ancestor Landing Pages as Cousin Bait

Yes, ancestor landing pages really work as cousin bait--attracting people (often real relatives!) whose online search for a particular surname brings them to my blog pages.

To see what I mean, you can click on one or two of the landing pages across the top of this blog page, the tabs with titles like "Wm Tyler Bentley's story" and "Abraham & Annie Berk's story." 

I first put up ancestor landing pages in January, 2013, after reading about the idea on Caroline Pointer's blog.

I use these to summarize what I know about each surname or family in the various family trees that I'm researching. I include not only photos and sometimes documents, but also links to specific blog posts about that person or family.

Six months after first setting up these landing pages, I had views but no cousin connections. In the nearly five years since I first posted these pages, I've gotten thousands of views and have actually connected with a number of cousins as well!

So if you have a blog or are thinking about creating one, consider landing pages or a similar mechanism. As you can see from the current statistics in the table at top, people keep clicking on my pages. Most aren't related to my ancestors or my husband's ancestors, but the few who are related (or researching a particular name) know how to get in touch via my blog now.

By the way, the McClure family from Donegal is by far my most popular landing page. Second-most popular is the page I created with free sample forms and templates from my genealogy book, Planning a Future for Your Family's Past.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Family History Month: Noting My Cousin Connections

Among the sample templates and forms on my blog is a simple table for keeping track of all my cousins. As shown above, I record the names of my cousins, contact info, and notes.

Until last year, I felt I didn't really need a formal listing. Then I nearly forgot to tell one new-found Farkas cousin about a mutual cousin I had located months before. (With the permission of both cousins, I shared their contact info and they have since met in person.)

A reader just asked whether I note all my cousins or only cousins who are interested in our family's genealogy. My answer: I note all my cousins. The notes section indicates when I last spoke with each and whether I requested or received family history info, but that's not as important as compiling a complete listing of who's who among my cousin connections. In the distant future, after I join my ancestors, I want relatives to be aware of the many cousins we have and how to connect with them, should they wish.*

Of course, as my DNA research continues, I hope to be adding more names to my ever-growing list of cousin connections. And by noting names of cousins, it helps the genealogists of the future to understand exactly who's who in my family tree.

*This is one of the many tips in my book, Planning a Future for Your Family's Past, so that the next generation doesn't lose touch with their cousins.