Saturday, November 10, 2012

Sorting Saturday: Ready for the Call from Vital Records?

I've become so accustomed to waiting....waiting....waiting for vital records after I snail-mail a request that I was a bit startled when the good folks in the health department of Elkhart County, Indiana, called me two days after I dropped my request for records into the mailbox.

To back up, I was working my way through the Larimer family history Our Larimer Family, written by John Clarence Work of Lancaster, Ohio in the 1950s, when I saw that hubby's mother had written corrections on the death dates of Brice S. Larimer (1819-1906?) and Lucy E. Bentley Larimer (1826-1900?), her great-grandparents. Ancestry family trees didn't agree on the dates, either.

Brice S. Larimer & Lucy E. Bentley 1847 marriage certificate

The Larimers zoomed to the top of my genealogy to-do list when an Ancestry message about a different part of the family tree led me to new info about the Larimers and their burial place in Elkhart County. I called the county and was told to download a form from the website and mail my request, along with a money order.

The genial clerk from Elkhart called me just two days later to clarify a couple of details and tell me that yes, she had both Brice and Lucy's records. And by the way, Lucy's mother's name wasn't the same as I had listed on my request, but the clerk believed that all the other details matched. Oh boy, a new genealogy mystery!

But there's more. I had sent more money than necessary, she said, so would I like any other records from Elkhart, as long as they were filed in 1888 or later?

Ooooops, I hadn't anticipated such responsive service, and I asked to call her back after I shuffled through my files. I quickly compiled a "wish list" of relatives, called, and rattled them off to her. Again she returned my call to finalize the record order. By Tuesday, I should have the copies in hand.

Thank you, Elkhart County, and you can be sure I'll have my family files in order the next time I send you a request!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Twins in Two Generations

Above is a photo of my mother Daisy Schwartz and her twin sister Dorothy Schwartz, taken when they were almost 3 years old. No notation of who's who...or where it was taken.

And below is a photo of me and my twin sister, taken when we were a year old. Again, no notation of who's who, but by family tradition, it's assumed that the twin with her mouth open must be me :)

Monday, November 5, 2012

Revisiting the Farkas Cousins' Visit to Ellis Island, 1996

My sister, my hubby, and I joined several cousins for a visit to Ellis Island in October 1996. It was a day to remember!

(You can see the Twin Towers behind us here and at far left in the photo below.)

Moritz Farkas, my great-grandpa, arrived at Ellis Island in May 1899. His wife Leni Kunstler Farkas arrived at Ellis Island in November 1900.

Moritz and Leni's children, born in Hungary where the family originated, arrived in two waves: The first (including my grandma Hermina Farkas) landed at Ellis Island in November 1901; the second landed in April 1903.

After touring the main building of Ellis Island, we cousins walked the grounds and found the names of our ancestors on the immigrants' wall.

Thanks to Cousin Betty, who spent 25+ years researching the Farkas family, we know a lot about this branch of the family tree.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Sunday's Obituary: Elizabeth Jane Rinehart Steiner

Hubby's maternal great-grandma was Elizabeth Jane Rinehart Steiner, b. 8 February 1834 and d. 4 November 1905 in Wyandot county, Ohio. I know from Find-A-Grave that she's buried in the Old Mission Cemetery in Upper Sandusky, Ohio, where her husband Edward G. Steiner (1830-1880) and at least two of her children are buried.

Thanks to handwritten notes left by her daughter and granddaughter, I know Elizabeth's death date. Today I had the (rather late) brainstorm to look for her obit on the Ohio Obituary Index and voila! I'll be spending $2.50 to get her obit from the Wyandot Chief newspaper.

The 1900 Census, conducted on 7 June, shows Elizabeth living with her daughter Minnie Halbedel (spelled incorrectly in the Census of course) and son-in-law Edward Halbedel in Crane Township, Wyandot County, OH. This Census says she was born in Ohio in Feb 1834; her pa was from Pennsylvania and her ma from Delaware, still to be confirmed.

On the 107th anniversary of Elizabeth's passing, I'm thinking of her and looking for her ancestors!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

October: Sandy, Snowtober, and Cousin Time

October 2011 - Days before Halloween
Note to self: Do NOT plan any travel for the last weekend in October.

In 2011, hubby and I were about to leave for a long weekend with family when the weather report gave us second thoughts about going north.

We stayed home instead, which meant we experienced the joy of 8 inches of heavy, wet snow that brought down a tree limb on our deck (left) and a limb across our driveway.

Luckily, we got the driveway cleared before the electricity went out and stayed out for 3 days. Sigh.

October 2012 - Cousin time

This year, we planned a museum weekend with my sis and the family of my wonderful second cousin Lois, who found me through this blog exactly two years ago this month.

Here we are, enjoying a bit of cousin fun --->  --->  --->

BUT with Hurricane Sandy headed our way, we had to cut the trip short. Luckily, my sis (who lives in a different state) was able to drive us to a train station where we took the l-o-n-g way back to our car. We immediately stocked up on food and batteries.

October 2012 - After Sandy

Hunkered down at home as Sandy lashed the area, we feared the worst but were pleasantly surprised not to lose power. More than 95% of my town is in the dark, but my street has electricity. Of course, as you can see above, a couple of trees crashed down in my yard, but nobody was hurt and nothing was damaged. A treat instead of a trick!**

** As of November 3, 28% of my town remains without power and all homes and businesses should have lights by Monday, thank goodness. Arborists working on a neighbor's downed trees came over and mulched our downed trees and removed the limb that was weighing down my electric lines. Supermarkets have restocked and the diner is doing a land-office business! Welcome to the new normal.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Surname Saturday: Facebooking Benjamin McClure and fam

This is the week I finally tried using Facebook for genealogy. After establishing a Benjamin McClure account and logging in as him, I proceeded to the bottom of the Facebook timeline page, where I clicked "Create a page" and created a public page that I called "McClure Family Tree - from John McClure to Brice Larimer McClure."

Why? Because in my searches of Facebook, I found about a dozen other McClure family pages, some for reunions and some for family communications...but none, so far as I can tell, connected with the McClure branch I'm researching. So I want anybody who lands on my McClure page to instantly see which line of the family this page is for.

In PowerPoint, I created a sketchy pedigree chart showing Benjamin* (his box is at top right, outlined in red) and his wife and their son, who married Margaret Jane Larimer and, finally, their son, Brice Larimer McClure. That's hubby's grandpa. I exported this pedigree as a .jpg and then posted it as the cover photo for the McClure Family Tree public page. (Trust me, it looks better on FB than it does in this screen shot I took.)

Every couple of days, I'll be posting on both pages, excerpting from Benjamin's obit and listing facts and relatives in the hope that someone else researching this family will connect with me.

Stay tuned.

*I could have included Benjamin's dad, John McClure and his mom, Ann McFall McClure, but space is a bit tight, as you can see.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Tech Tuesday: Experimenting with Facebook for Genealogy

Can Facebook help me research the Benjamin McClure family?

I've been tracing the McClure family tree, and I know that Benjamin is hubby's g-g-grandpa on his father's side. Earlier this year, I finally located this ancestor's obituary (complete with woodcut portrait, above).

Erin, the program chair and a recent speaker at my local genealogy club, suggested creating a "public figure" page on Facebook to try to attract other researchers and distant relatives who are interested in a certain family or ancestor.

I'm trying a variation of that idea. I created a FB account as Benji, uploaded this woodcut as his profile photo, and have been posting a little about his life to fill out his Facebook page. I've also friended him from my real FB account and explained to my fam and friends that Benji's account is an experiment.

His account is Benjamin.McClure.35 (so if you search for him, you'll probably have to use this "name" because there are too many guys of this name on FB).*

Since Benji's birthday is April 30, 1812, I couldn't enter that info into FB. Instead, I gave him a bday that's exactly one century later. I showed his "location" as Wabash, Indiana, where he lived for most of his life. His profession is "genealogy researcher." LOL! (In reality, he was a farmer.)

What I REALLY want to find out is whether Benji's parents and grandparents were from Donegal. His parents are John McClure and Ann McFall McClure.

And of course, if any cousins are out there, I do hope they'll send a friend request.

* For followup, please see my post here

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Two Servings of Heritage Pie (with Surnames!)

Thanks to Randy Seaver, Sheri Fenley, and Diane Haddad), I've been thinking about creating genealogical heritage pie charts for hubby and me. Alas, I don't have enough info to go back to all of our great-great-grandparents, so I had to adapt the idea...for now.

At left is Wally's heritage pie for his great-grandparents. He's 25% UK (the Slatter and Shehen lines).

The rest of his great-grands (Wood, Larimer, Demarest, Steiner, McClure, Rinehart) were from the US. The one Ohio great-grand might actually be from Pennsylvania, but we're not sure yet.

The second heritage pie, below, is for Sis and me, showing our grandparents' origins.

We're 50% Hungarian (both maternal grandparents were from Hungary), 25% Lithuanian, and 25% Latvian.

I do know the names of my great-grands on the Farkas and Schwartz trees, and can be fairly sure that they were from Hungary, as well. The Latvian great-grands (Birk) are mostly a mystery, and I know nothing at all about the Lithuanian (Mahler) great-grands (if that's where they were from). More research is needed!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Sunday's Obituary: Alex Farkas and the Farkas Family Tree

Thanks to my wonderful cuz Betty, who's spent about 25+ years researching our Farkas ancestry, the family tree is full of leaves. And it's full of stories that Betty has collected from family members over the years and written down for the benefit of future generations.

There are just a few missing dates, including the exact day when my great-uncle Alex died. Alex (real name: Sandor) was the oldest of 11 offspring of Moritz Farkas and Leni Kuntsler. My grandma Hermina Farkas Schwartz was the second-oldest in the family (the oldest girl).

Today I was noodling around on Ancestry and decided to look for his obit. Sure enough, I found it in a newspaper in mid-January, 1948. And because the Farkas Family Tree placed the notice, I can be 100% sure that this is the correct Alex Farkas.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Three Wood Brothers

Three of the four Wood brothers are in this photo: Edgar James (the oldest), Wallis W. (next-oldest), and John A. (third of four).

My guesstimate of the year is between 1911 and 1913.