Sunday, November 1, 2015

Gen Do-Over: Do You Have a Genealogical "Will"?

Farkas-Marks wedding, 1930s, New York City
The whole point of this year's Genealogical Do-Over is to be sure we have accurate, complete, detailed, and proven family tree information. But what happens to all this marvelous data in the future?

Please think about writing your Genealogical "Will" to be sure all your hard work and carefully-researched materials are preserved for future generations. This may well be the most important step in the entire process, to avoid family historians having to start from scratch or reinvent the wheel when you already have so much to share with your family.

I'm lucky: I have a volunteer from my side of the family and another from hubby's side of the family to take custody of all the archived records, files, photos, and family tree data, both hard copies and electronically. I'm also leaving each of these genealogy heirs a sum of money to help them preserve all my genealogical data so it gets passed down for many years.

So start by identifying your genealogical heirs. Then, with a written document, be sure your genealogical heirs know the location and disposition of:
  • Photographs (all captioned, right?!) Above, a treasured framed photo in my possession of a Farkas family wedding, showing my grandma (seated second from right) at her sister Jeanne's wedding) and grandpa (third from right, standing). I've willed this to my genealogical heir so it will always be in the family.
  • Family histories in bound or printed form
  • Diaries and notebooks from ancestors and relatives
  • Online family trees 
  • Correspondence about genealogy with relatives, historical societies, etc.
  • Original documentation (marriage/death/birth certs for instance)
  • Computer files with family tree data
  • Audio files (I have microcassettes) containing oral histories
  • DVDs, flash drives, and other electronic media containing digitized versions of genealogy data
Please emphasize to your heirs that nothing is to be thrown away. There are ways to distribute things that the family doesn't want to retain. Over the past two years, I've been culling my collection and returning photos of distant relatives and family friends to their families so they can be passed down in those lines.

In addition, I've gifted items (like a WWII war bonds wallet and an 1800s handwritten notebook of debits and credits) to historical societies and museums to be archived and maintained for the future.

To help plan your genealogical "will," check out the following links I found through a quick online search (not an endorsement, just a suggestion for more reading and follow-up). Also consider getting professional advice about your own personal situation!
  • Thomas MacEntee's compact book about how to arrange for your genealogy research to be preserved "after you're gone" (see his YouTube video here).
  • A template for a genealogical "will," from Devon Family History Society.
  • A template from the Northern Neck of Virginia Law Page for a genealogical "will."
  • Guest post on Geneabloggers by Paul Brooks about this topic.
  • Genealogical will file posted to Gen Do-Over's Facebook page by Carol Corbett Ellis-Jones.
UPDATE: Read about how and why to make a genealogical "will" in my book, Planning a Future for Your Family's Past.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Those Places Thursday: In Search of Farkas Connections in Botpalad

My maternal great-grandpa, Moritz Farkas (1857-1936), was born in Botpalad, Hungary (shown circled in red with a black arrow, above). This is an area still considered part of Hungary but very close to the borders of modern-day Ukraine and Romania (two red arrows at far right).

Moritz's parents were Ferencz Farkas and Hermina Gross. Farkas is a common name in Hungary, but we know we're definitely connected in some cousiny way with another branch of the Farkas family.

The young granddaughter of Ida Farkas Weiss (1873-1924) was at my parents' wedding in New York City and she vividly remembers attending Farkas Family Tree meetings in NYC during the 1940s and into the 1950s. She and her parents were known to be cousins, but nobody told the younger generation exactly how we were related.
Today I want to look at Ida Farkas's niece, Gizella Steinberger, who was the daughter of Josephine "Pepi" Farkas and Noe Steinberger and the granddaughter of Elek and Roszi Farkas. I'm guessing that Elek Farkas was the brother of Ferencz Farkas. That would make Gizella my 2d cousin, 2x removed.

Born in Botpalad on November 6, 1898, Gizella Steinberger arrived at Ellis Island in December, 1923, and applied for U.S. citizenship in 1926.

In 1929, Gizella married Irving Huppert (1900-1982). They were living at 1821 Davidson Ave. in the Bronx when she became a naturalized U.S. citizen, as shown on this index card.

Gizella and Irving had two children and lived into their late 80s. They are buried at Mount Hebron Cemetery in Queens. I'm going to "edit" the relationships of each on Find A Grave to show husband and wife, and include their dates and places of birth.

Still searching for more Farkas connections from Botpalad, Hungary!

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Gen Do-Over 2015: Finding Dr. Bartlett Larimer's Will from 1892

Dr. Bartlett Larimer (1833-1892) -- hubby's 2nd great-grand uncle -- had a thriving medical practice and had a major influence on the lives of his extended family, inspiring 2 nephews to become dentists and 2 nephews to become doctors. He died in January of 1892 and his will, made about a week before he died, was probated soon afterward.

As part of the Genealogy Do-Over, I was able to find the contents of Dr. Larimer's will among the newly-posted probate records on Ancestry!

The will begins: "In the name of the Benevolent Father of All." The good doctor's beneficiaries included his children, relatives of his late wife, Sarah E. Miller Larimer (1843-1881), and several children of his siblings, plus family friends (?).
  • To his oldest son, Edson F. Larimer, 80 acres of land in Millersburg county, IN where the doctor was living when he made his will.
  • To his second son, Bartlett Larimer Jr., 80 acres in Millersburg plus 40 acres in Perry township, Noble County, IN.
  • To his third son, John S. Larimer, 35 acres of land in Perry township, plus more land in a different section of Perry township.
  • To his niece, Margaret Anna Haglind (daughter of his sister Eleanor Larimer), 20 acres in Eden township, Lagrange county, IN, and $200.
  • To his nephew, William Tyler Bentley Larimer (son of his brother Brice S. Larimer), a note held by the doctor for the sum of $350 plus interest. In other words, the note was forgiven by the will.
  • To his nieces Emma O. Freeland and Margaret Jane McClure (daughters of Brice S. Larimer), $200 each.
  • To his mother-in-law Elizabeth Miller and his sister-in-law Hester Miller Coy, interest on $2,000 on mortgage notes held by the doctor against William Haller and Lorenzo D. Haller. Also forgiveness of a note held against Hester by her brother-in-law for $40 and interest.
  • To friends (?) Luella Widner, wife of Charles Widner, $200 and Leoter? Blanche Hard, wife of Hale Hard, $200.
Son Edson Franklin Larimer was the executor, and the witnesses were Charles F. Widner and Brice Larimer, who were also beneficiaries.

The will may also be a clue to what I've long suspected, that three of Dr. Larimer's children didn't live long enough to be named as beneficiaries: Ulysses Larimer, born about 1865 (of course), Alice Larimer, born about 1866, and William Larimer, born in 1868. RIP to these 1st cousins, 3x removed, of my hubby

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Surname Saturday: Georgiana Olivette McCLURE

Hubby's 1st cousin, 1x removed was Georgiana Olivette McClure (1903-1973), the daughter of Hugh Benjamin McClure (1882-1960) and Olivette van Roe (1885-1905).

Georgianna was born in Wabash, Indiana, where many of the McClure family lived.

Sadly, Georgiana's mother Olivette died at age 20, when the baby was only 2.

When Georgiana was 15, her father remarried to Rebekah V. Wilt (1896-1975), and that's how Georgiana met her future husband--through the Wilt family.

Georgiana married William Evert Gillespie in 1925. His mother was a Wilt!

Friday, October 16, 2015

Participating in Find A Grave Meetup Day from Home

Tomorrow is the day Find A Grave has asked volunteers to photograph headstones at local cemeteries or fulfill photo requests from its site.

Since I can't be out in the field photographing, I'm going to be participating from home in my own way: By going through my family tree, person by person, and adding everyone to Find A Grave--as well as by linking family members according to relationships. I want to honor their memories and also make it easier for cousins and family researchers to figure out who's who.

Here, for example, is the memorial page I set up for my mother, showing relationship links to her parents on Find A Grave.

The more links, the more opportunities to be found by genealogists and cousins!

Friday, October 9, 2015

Ancestor Landing Pages Update

So my ancestor landing pages--those tabs at the top of my blog, each for a different surname branch of my family tree--have been part of my blog since January 2013.

The purpose is to have a special page devoted to each surname group, so when a distant relative or researcher does an online search for a name like "McClure" or "Slatter," they will "land" on my ancestor's page and see what I've discovered about those ancestors.

Over the months, these ancestor landing pages have been attracting views and, on occasion, comments from cousins and regular readers!

As of October 9, here are the statistics for the TOP 10. (The dates indicate the most recent time that I updated or added to each of the pages.)

Most popular is my page about the Herman & Hana Schwartz family from Ungvar, Hungary (now Uzhorod, Ukraine). This was my grandpa Tivador Schwartz's family.

Next most popular is my page about hubby's McClure family, originally from the Isle of Skye, then Donegal. This family sailed en masse to Philadelphia and then walked to Virginia to buy land.

Unquestionably, ancestor landing pages are an effective way to showcase genealogical breakthroughs, family information, photos, stories, and connections. For me, the best part is when I get a comment or an e-mail from a cousin who found the page, recognized some of the names, and got in touch!

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Sympathy Saturday: Leander Elkanah Wood, Cholera Infantum Victim

Leander Elkanah Wood was the last of 17 children born to Thomas Haskell Wood and Mary Amanda Demarest. Alas, little Leander fell victim to "cholera infantum" at the age of only 4 months.

He was born at home in Toledo on March 10, 1875, and he died on August 11, 1875. Thanks to a kind genealogy person on the Ohio Genealogy FB page, I learned that "cholera infantum" was often the term listed on death certs of young children who actually died of diarrhea or dysentery.

Why did hubby's great-granddaddy and great-grandma name their child after a young man in an ancient tragedy?

Leander was a mythological figure who fell in love with Hero and swam across the straights every night to be with her, his way lit by a lantern she set up to guide him. One stormy night, the lantern light was blown out and heavy waves took Leander further and further, sweeping him away, to Hero's great sorrow. In despair, she threw herself after him and perished as well.

Even allowing for the fact that Thomas and Mary had named 16 other children by that time (their first was born in 1846!), Leander doesn't seem an obvious choice as a given name. Especially since one of their other children, Thomas Jefferson Isaiah Haskell Wood, drowned in May, 1861, before his 13th birthday.

Nor does Elkanah, Leander's middle name, have any family significance that anyone knows of (he was a figure in the Bible). UPDATE: Elkanah turns out to be a significant given name in the Wood family, as I learned by examining the family tree of a distant, very distant relative who's related by virtue of the Mayflower/Fortune connection. Thomas Cushman, who arrived on the Fortune, married Mary Allerton (a Mayflower ancestor of the Wood family), and they had 8 children, including Elkanah Cushman. The Elkanah name continued in that branch of the tree for some time. So perhaps Thomas Haskell Wood was aware of his Mayflower ancestors after all?!

RIP, little Leander Elkanah Wood.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Tombstone Tuesday: Larimer & McKibbin Cousins in Elkhart, Indiana

More than once, hubby's Larimer cousins married their distant McKibbin (or McKibben) cousins in Indiana. Above, yet another Larimer/McKibbin headstone from Eldridge Cemetery, photographed for me by the very kind genealogy buffs at the Elkhart County Historical Society. (If you're looking for someone buried in Elkhart, click to the society's listing of cemeteries in the county.)

Hallie Richard Larimer (1899-1960) was my husband's 4th cousin, 1x removed, descended from my husband's 5th great-grandpa, Robert Larimer (who was shipwrecked on his way from Northern Ireland to the New World). His WWI draft registration listed him as stout, medium build, grey eyes, and light brown hair. 

Although Hallie grew up in Elkhart county, Indiana, living next door to McKibbin and Showalter relatives, he married Mary Magdalene McKibbin in Benton Harbor, Michigan in 1920. He was not quite 21 and she was a month shy of her 17th birthday. Hallie was a mason--the son of a mason--and he continued in that trade after he and his wife raised a family and moved from Elkhart county to South Bend, Indiana, where he died in 1960.

Mary Magdalen McKibbin (1903-1976) was the daughter of John Henry McKibbin and Susan Henrietta Phelps--and a descendant of Alexander McKibbin and Harriet Larimer. So the tradition of intermarriage between McKibbins and Larimers goes way back into the 1800s.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Military Monday: David Mahler Had a Tattoo?! Yes, I Learned with a Click


David Mahler was the older of two brothers of my paternal grandma, Henrietta Mahler Burk.

Born in New York City, he worked in Hollywood for Columbia Pictures for many years, through the kindness of a Mahler in-law who was part of the studio's founding Cohn family.
I've researched David's background and I knew he was a "rigger" in Camden, NJ in 1918 when he registered for the WWI military. But I hadn't ever seen his WWII registration card--until today, when it turned up in a shaky leaf on Ancestry.

Page 1 of the document was quite informative: It confirmed that David was born in Riga, Latvia, and confirms his birthdate of March 15, 1882. Interestingly, David gave the name/address of a neighbor (or possibly a work colleague) for "someone who will always know your address."

If I had relied only on Ancestry's transcription, or simply stopped at page 1 of the registration card, I would never have learned what David looked like. Luckily, I can't resist reviewing the actual image of every document, and clicking to the image before and after to be sure that I've seen everything there is to see on my ancestors.

Sure enough, there was a page 2 image (not transcribed by Ancestry, of course), and it contained a physical description of my great uncle. He was 5' 4", 153 lbs, with salt-and-pepper hair and brown eyes.

Most interestingly, he had "DM" tattooed on his right arm, which might have been left over from his days as a "rigger." I can only imagine what his mother Tillie Jacobs Mahler would have thought of his tattoo, if she knew (I strongly suspect she didn't).

So always click to see the actual image and click to either side of it just in case there's more! Not to mention that seeing an ancestor's handwriting or printing can tell a story all on its own.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Friday's Faces from the Past: My Family Photo Detective Experience

Who is this little girl, holding a tambourine and standing next to an ornate piano? I posted her photo in my "mystery" gallery last year. Alas, no one in the family recognizes her.

Following the process described by Maureen A. Taylor in her excellent Family Photo Detective, I wanted to look for clues to identifying this mystery girl from the photo itself.

My conclusion (supported by the steps I followed below) is that for a mystery photo such as this little girl, the location of the photographer and the costume are two vital clues to when, where, and why the photo was taken.

Step by step, here's how I analyzed the photo:


Photographer's location in 1925 - most likely AFTER the photo was taken
  1. Maureen recommends analyzing the type of photo print as a first step. This is not a daguerreotype, meaning it's newer. It's a photo (silver print?) glued to a matte board with the photographer's name and address, which seems to suggest the date is later than 1900. 
  2. Second, Maureen looks at the paper and board. The card stock for the little girl seems to be thick, and the edges are beveled, suggesting it's relatively new (early 20th century, rather than late 19th century). By the way, Maureen gives a hint for identifying relatives among a collection of portrait photos: If the number on the back of one photo is, say, 105, then portraits numbered 104 or 106 may be siblings or parents or children of the person in 105.
  3. The next step is to identify the photographer, which is easy in this case. "F. Krichefsky" is the name imprinted on the card stock, with a studio at 496 Claremont Parkway, Bronx, N.Y. Maureen suggests an online search for the photographer to find out more. No luck using Google, but I used Ancestry and immediately found the 1925 New York City directory listing for Mr. Krichefsky, photographer--at a different address, half a mile away from the address on my mystery photo. Then I used the mapping function to see where the studio was located (see map below). Off-hand, I don't know of ancestors who lived within walking distance--but I still don't know when the photo was taken.
    Photographer's studio location in 1915-17
  4. Still researching the photographer, I searched for his name plus "Bronx 1910" and came up with an image he had produced that is dated 1905-10, in the collection of the Museum of Jewish History. This is helping me narrow down the period of the photo. Also I found "Faivel Krichevsky" in the 1912 NYC Business Directory, a photographer at 496 Wendover Ave. In the 1915-16-17 NYC directories, I finally found "Feibel Krichefsky" at the Claremont Parkway address! So most likely this is more in the approximate time-frame of my little girl's photograph.
    Spelling slowed me down but here's the photographer in the NYC directory, at the address on my photo!
  5. Maureen suggests thinking about when in the person's life the image might have been taken--for a special event, as an example. This mystery girl looks too young for school but perhaps this was taken for a holiday or because the rest of the family was in the studio for a portrait? Music is clearly a major theme, but I don't know why. I have to return to my mystery photo archive box to see whether others were from this studio...perhaps there was a special event for the whole family, and they used that opportunity for individual portraits.
  6. Next would be facial recognition, which I would tackle using Picasa, free from Google. I'm saving this for another time.
  7. Maureen puts a lot of emphasis on "identifying costume" (chapter 9). Because of the big bow in the hair, and the shoes, the date is early in the 20th century. Her loose dress also seems to be from the pre-1920 era.
MY CONCLUSION: The photo is probably from 1905-1915. My next step: Look up the 1905/1915 NY Censuses and the 1910 US Census addresses for my ancestors in the Bronx and see whether any were within walking distance of this studio on Claremont Parkway. Also, I'll search my other mystery photos to find more, if any, from the Krichefsky studio.