Showing posts with label cousin bait. Show all posts
Showing posts with label cousin bait. Show all posts

Monday, August 25, 2014

Blogiversary #6: Blessed with Cousin Connections

Meyer Mahler and Tillie Jacobs Mahler and family, early 1900s
Six years ago, I began my blog with a post wondering when my great-grandpa Meyer Elias Mahler--the gentleman seated at right in this photo--died. (Answer: 1910).

That same summer, I made my first big cousin connection, with the Wood family genealogist who showed hubby how his ancestors are descended from Mayflower passengers. Blogging as cousin bait!

Since then, I've connected with cousins on both sides of my and my hubby's families and expanded our family trees and family stories all over the map. What a joyful journey it's been to "meet" (in person, online, or on the phone) cousins from these extended families (and related families): Burke/Berk, Bentley, Farkas, Mahler, Markell, McClure, Roth, Larimer, Schwartz, Slatter, Steiner, Weiss, and Wood

Some cousins weren't interested in being "found" and simply didn't answer my calls or e-mails or letters. In the past six years, only one cousin has actually told me to buzz off. Before I sent his e-mail to my "junk" file, I saved his final words to share here. He wrote:
There is no need to reply to this email nor any purpose in further
correspondence with me in the future.
Thank you to all my wonderful, loving cousins who have enriched my life and given me so many ideas and so much support as I research the relationships that connect us. The genealogy journey continues!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

2014 Genealogy Resolutions

After this remarkable year of cousin reunions and brickwalls being dissolved, I have a new set of genealogy resolutions for 2014.
  1. Focus by ignoring. I'm clicking to "ignore" Ancestry hints for ancestors who are really distant. Do I really need to see a record about the "father-in-law of uncle of wife of 1st cousin 1x removed" in my family tree? No. With more than 2,000 hints, I have to learn to ignore!
  2. Identify my main ancestor targets. Too many ancestors, too little time. Who do I really care about and what do I really need to know about those people? 
    • New for 2014: Confirm how the family of Elek Farkas from Botpalad, Hungary is related to the family of Moritz Farkas from Botpalad. There is a definite connection! But who's the link?
    • The following are carried over from 2013:
    • When did Tillie Jacobs Mahler and her children, Henrietta and David, arrive at Castle Garden in 1886? Where, exactly, were they from?
    • What about Tillie's parents, Julius Jacobs and Rachel Shuham?
    • What name did Tillie's husband Meyer Mahler use when arriving at Castle Garden in May, 1885?
    • Was Meyer Birk really Isaac Birk's brother? After living with Isaac and Isaac's future father-in-law (Meyer Mahler), what happened to Meyer Birk?
    • Where in New York state did William Tyler Bentley and his wife, Olivia Morgan, come from? Where/when did Olivia die? Olivia and William were the parents of Lucinda H. Bentley Shank, whose death cert appears above. It was the first critical evidence of Olivia's name and birthplace!
    • Where in Ireland were John and Mary Shehen (or Shehan) from? Who where their parents?
  3. Research key ancestors again. So many new documents, grave photos, and message-board posts have come online since I was bitten by the genealogy bug (in the last millennium!) that I need to research those names again. 
    • Redo a Google search with "First Last" and "Last, First," such as: "Benjamin McClure" and "McClure, Benjamin" AND add "genealogy" to avoid getting unrelated results.
    • Redo a Fold3 search for men who might have military records, as well as for people with naturalization papers.
    • Continue Ancestry searches because when I click on someone, Ancestry's "hints" come alive with new clues as well. (See Resolution #1: Ignore those for distant relatives.)
    • Redo a search on key surname message boards and locality message boards.
    • Redo a Find-a-Grave search for those whose graves I haven't found.
Happy new year and happy ancestor hunting.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Tuesday's Tip: It Takes a Village to Trace a Tree

All of the family trees I'm working on have been "leafed out" with help from other people. Especially this year, I've learned that it truly takes a village to trace a tree. 

For example, Major James Elmer Larimer (hubby's first cousin, 4x removed), wrote to his mother, Asenath Cornwell Larimer, when he was fighting for the Union during the Civil War. At left, a page from one of his many letters--thanks to the gentleman who found me via this blog and who is now part of my village.

Here's how I make it easy for my village to exchange information:

1. My family trees on Ancestry are public (not living people, of course). That's how Philly Cuz found me and how the latest contact from a Wood cousin took place. 

2. I post about people and places on surname and locality message boards. If anybody out there is looking for Schwartz from Ungvar or Farkas from Botpalad or Bentley from Indiana (or California), they'll find my queries on message boards like Ancestry and GenForum. That's how I connected with Bentley researchers, for example.

3. I contact local genealogy clubs and historical societies. Just as one example, the fabulous folks at Elkhart County Genealogical Society provided numerous gravestone photos and probate court records for my research into the Larimer family.

4. I correspond with people who have posted on Find-a-Grave. Sometimes they have more photos they haven't had a chance to post--and among those photos are my ancestors. A very kind volunteer supplied exact directions to hubby's great-great-grand uncle's gravestone so we could visit this summer. Of course, I return the favor by posting photos of dozens of gravestones on F-a-G whenever I visit a cemetery.

5. I blog about my genealogy challenges and achievements. Thanks to this genealogy blog, I've been found by so many cousins! (You know who you are...) The blog also helps me explain to my newfound family what I know (or think I know) about a particular person or branch of the tree. In more than one case, my wonderful blog readers have been instrumental in identifying a person's uniform or place or period.

Thank you to my village!

Friday, September 13, 2013

Family Friends Friday: "Cousin" or Cousin?

JW is the dark-haired beauty second from right 
Family friends sometimes turn out to be distant cousins. That might the case with "Cousin JW," who I've recently located decades after her name last appeared in the Farkas Family Tree minutes.

A couple of months ago, my cousin loaned me 31 years of minutes from the monthly get-togethers of the children/grandchildren of Moritz Farkas and Lena Kunstler Farkas. As I scanned and indexed all the documents, the name "JW" kept showing up--a name I didn't know.

I read about JW's college studies, how she lived with my great-uncle Albert Farkas and his wife Sari while in New York, and how the entire family was invited to her wedding. Later, JW wrote about her travels with her doctor husband, who served in the Korean War, and sent word when her daughters were born.

JW's oldest daughter has a distinctive name and when I did an online search for her, I found her! I wrote her via snail-mail, asking whether she knew of the Farkas Family Tree and saying how much I'd like to chat with her.

A week ago, a letter arrived from JW herself, saying she had been in the process of moving when her daughter received my letter. I called and learned that JW's parents always referred to the Farkas family as cousins, but we don't know exactly how we're cousins. She's going to dig up her grandparents' information to see whether we can pinpoint our mutual relatives back in Hungary, where these families are from. Fingers crossed that we can figure this out!

Cuz Betty immediately remembered JW and sent her and me the 1946 photo shown above (JW is the dark-haired beauty in the dark dress, sitting second from right). Whether she's Cousin JW or "Cousin JW," a close family friend, I'm so happy to have connected with her! And now other cousins are lining up to write and call JW. What a wonderful reunion it's turning out to be.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Ancestor Landing Pages - New to My Blog

A wonderfully detailed blog post by Caroline Pointer on Blogging Genealogy gave me the idea of creating ancestor landing pages for key people or family branches on my tree.

Now, following Caroline's instructions, I've created four tabbed landing pages, two for ancestors in my family (Birk and Mahler) and two for ancestors in hubby's family (Slatter and Demarest).

Each ancestor landing page has:
  • An image of some sort, either the person's head shot or a document or place related to his or her life
  • An intro paragraph about the person, explaining:
    • why that person was important to the family 
    • why that person intrigues me 
    • what genealogical questions I want to answer
  • A quick summary of dates or other key facts about this person
  • A listing of that person's spouse and children (for handy reference)
  • A bullet list of links to posts I've written in the past about that person or that family
Caroline's method of listing bullet points linked to blog posts from the past is not just good cousin bait, it's a way to index what else is on the blog about a certain ancestor or family. Remember, I put a "Search this blog" widget high on my home page to encourage visitors to look for specific people or surnames. But summarizing every post in one landing page saves visitors (who might be cousins!) from having to hunt down and read many posts just to determine the connection between the families.

It was interesting to see how many times I've blogged about the Slatter family, for instance, whereas I've barely blogged about Mary Amanda Demarest--mainly because cousin Larry, the Wood family genealogist, had done so much detailed research into her background before I connected with him (via a surname message board) several years ago.

I'm still trying to figure out whether to use one tab* for husband/wife (like Meyer Mahler and Tillie Rose Jacobs Mahler) or have a single name on each tab. After all, I do want to feature the matriarchs who were vital to the history of the family tree! But IMHO, the tab title "Mayer Mahler's story" seems a bit more intriguing than "Meyer Mahler & Tillie Jacobs Mahler." Perhaps I'll change things later on, as I see how things work and think up new refinements.

*UPDATE: I've changed the tabs to show husband and wife, except for Mary A. Demarest. The lady ancestors deserve equal billing IMHO. Because the ancestor landing pages are attracting views and getting my surnames indexed in search engines, I expect to put more up in the future.