Monday, December 24, 2012

This Year's Winning Silly Sox (not mine)

For some reason lost to the mists of time, my family is a sox-gifting family. Not only do we pelt each other with new and fun sox at holiday time (and for birthdays), we have a  Silly Sox contest every Christmas.

In 2011, I lost (as usual), with my entry being a "conventional" crocodile sock.

In 2010, I lost because my entries (see one, left), were embellished. The judge (then 9 years old) disallowed such creativity!!

For 2012, the judge has specified that sox MUST be embellished.

And so now for a preview of my silly sox, which must be a sure-fire winner, don't you think? Thanx to my friend Cyndy, who found these awful toe-sox in an after-Xmas sale and sent them to me in January so I could think about what to do with them.

After months of careful deliberation, I settled on glued googly-eyes (with green glitter eyelashes) for each toe plus handprint buttons under each set of lips. Also, I gave the red monster a couple of fangs because, well, the judge (now 11) is a Twilight fan. Maybe this will give me the winning edge?! I'll let you know.**

** Obviously 2012 wasn't my sox year. The judge threw my entry out in the first round.

The two finalists are shown at right. Notice that they're both fuzzy. And the winner is...fuzzy sox with cute puppy buttons sewn on, at far right. There's always next year...yeah, and the Yankees might make it to the World Series in 2013, too. Right.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Sentimental Sunday: Mom & Dad's Bermuda Honeymoon

Mom (Daisy Schwartz) and Dad (Harold Burk) were married in late November, 1946, and immediately went on honeymoon to Bermuda. No swimsuits on that trip: It was cool, as you can see from my mother's warm coat, but good weather for a horse-drawn carriage ride and a honeymoon hug.

Below, Mom getting her flowers ready for the wedding ceremony. Wish I had even a small bit of her gold lame dress as a keepsake, but it fell apart many, many years ago (well before today's preservation techniques!).

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Getting Organized: Boxes, Bags, Backup, and Charts

In 2013, I plan to finish (ha!) reorganizing my genealogy documents and photos for archival storage. I'm gonna scan, scan, scan, and then store, store, store to protect these all-important clues to my family's historical background. 2022 update: I now have more than three dozen archival boxes and will be moving some photos to archival albums for easier viewing!

Today I put all of Sis's school memorabilia and documents into protective envelopes, arranged by year, so if she feels like looking at a college newspaper or reliving her spelling bee glory (champ of our junior high, representing us in the New York City bee), she can just open the archival box and browse! That's what sisters are for :)

Here are the tools I'm using to organize and protect things...what are you using and how do you like your results so far?
  1. Archival storage boxes with metal-reinforced corners to stay sturdy when stacked. I bought these boxes in various sizes online. With my handy-dandy label maker, I stuck names on each box. Last month I had to order more, but that wasn't a problem since I was ordering . . . .
  2. Archival acetate document display/storage bags with resealable closure. Inexpensive archival storage, and I like to be able to seal things in, so they don't move or fall out. Over time, I'm going to move many originals from file folders to the storage bags so nothing slips out. Those that I want to keep handy I'll put in binders for handy reference or maybe I'll just keep copies in the binders...not sure yet. But I can stick labels on the outside of these with extra info about the contents, without harming the originals.
  3. Data backup. My backup systems work automatically, in the background, backing up my photos and scans and data every day at the time I choose. I've used it for years and I like the security of backing up into the cloud, not just on an external hard drive sitting right on my desk (backing up every hour, thanks to Apple's Time Machine).
  4. Pedigree charts so family members can figure out who's who in each directly line quickly and easily. I use Misbach's free downloadable .pdf pedigree charts. I type in everything, note which pedigree charts connect to others in the line, and label each chart with alphanumeric designations (like 1W, 2W, 3W for the Wood line) to help keep ancestors straight. I date each one to be able to know at a glance which is the latest version. Yes, I DO have Family Tree Maker, and I do synch with Ancestry, but I like these separate pedigree charts as well. Especially since with a highlighting marker, I can show the younger relatives who their Mayflower ancestors are, right on a paper chart of their very own.
For more ideas about organizing and preserving family history for future generations, please see my updated genealogy book, Planning a Future for Your Family's Past.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Edgar J. Wood and Trio at "Marty's"

Publicity shot of Edgar J. Wood at the piano, with his younger son on guitar and Banjo Al, another local musician, for their gig at Marty's in Northfield, Ohio.

Originally, hubby thought this was related to the trio's gig at Mother's, a bar and grill in Cleveland, but his brother says it was definitely Marty's. "Mother's" was so named because regulars could, in all honesty, say they were stopping off at Mother's on the way home from work :)

And the photo at right, taken at a different time, has an inscription showing that Edgar Wood is, indeed, playing at Marty's. The date, as you can see, is February 1961. Thank you to hubby for making notes on the back of some photos!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

The Saddest Post I've Ever Written--Newtown

Dear genealogy friends,

We're all heartsick and aching with grief in my small New England town because of very sad news that the world has seen unfolding for the past 24 hours: The senseless and horrific killings at Sandy Hook Elementary School, my local school.

Everyone in town knows some family touched by this tragedy, absolutely everyone, not just on my street but throughout the town and beyond.

So many dreams crushed, so many hopes never to be achieved, so many tears.

Thank you all for your comforting thoughts and prayers. I can assure you that Newtown knows you're mourning along with us. We'll need your help to heal in the coming months.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Tech Tuesday: Taking Online Search a Step Further

Several years ago, thanks to a simple search technique in Dan Lynch's no longer available book Google Your Family Tree, I was able to quickly and easily locate my long-lost first cousin. I'll share the technique below--because it illustrates a general strategy useful in any online search situation. 

The other reason I'm thinking about advanced search is that two people with connections to my family found me through the blog last week. Learning how they located the blog gave me new ideas for taking online genealogy search a step further.

Now for 3 search hints that have paid off:
  1. Adapt search terms that people use to locate your blog. You know those blog stats we all check from time to time? I looked under the subheading "Traffic Sources" to see the "search keywords" that people type in when they land on my blog. Example: The son of a woman who knew my aunt during WWII found my blog by searching on my aunt Dorothy Schwartz's name. He (or another visitor) also searched on the name of the military unit my aunt was in from 1943-1945. Turns out my aunt was this gentleman's godmother! It was great to hear from him and learn a little about his mum, one of my aunt's dear friends from that period.
  2. Search both "First name Last name" and "Last name, First name." That's how I found the Ohio cemetery where hubby's great-grandpa's buried, along with his 2d wife, whose maiden name and life remain a mystery. If too many names turn up, I narrow things down by adding "AND genealogy" to the search box. Also try "First name Middle initial Last name" or use the entire middle name. This worked for me! *And don't forget to search using common variations of the names. I found our family's names in a tree on Ancestry, using incorrect spellings that had been shown in a 1920 census. By searching on those incorrect spellings, I found the tree and learned more about the distant connection between that researcher and my family.
  3. Search for particular results such as images or news. That's how I found one of my cousins. He had posted a comment somewhere and it turned up when I searched for "First name Last name" in the News section of Google. This kind of search technique is valuable when searching any gigantic database, such as Family Search or Ancestry. By narrowing the scope to only images or news (or just Ohio or just 1900 Census), I increase the odds that what I want will show up high in the results. Be sure to search on Google's books page. I found a lot of info about hubby's ancestors in books about the early days of Wabash, for example.
By combining all three techniques, I found the following paragraph buried in a 1953 edition of Billboard magazine.
I knew Auntie Dorothy, my Mom's twin sister, worked for a few years on the Macy's parade with long-time friend Lee Wallace but I didn't know about their Bridgeport gig. Little items like this round out my understanding and encourage me to dig deeper on other relatives and ancestors.

After all, new data comes online all the time. Who knows what nuggets I'll find with my next search?

Saturday, December 8, 2012

2013 Brick Wall Priorities (on the Wood tree)

Will 2013 be the year of breakthroughs on my most challenging brick walls? Here are my priorities for the coming year's genealogy research into hubby's family:
  • McClure. Are hubby's 3d great-grandparents (John McClure and Ann McFall) originally from Donegal? They married in Rockbridge county, VA, in 1801 and one of their sons was Benjamin McClure (1812-1896), the subject of my Facebook genealogy experiment. If John McClure is from Donegal, is he Scots-Irish? Where in Scotland did the family come from?
  • Rinehart. The patriarch of the Rinehart part of the family, Joseph Rinehart, died on December 9, 1888, 124 years ago tomorrow. His very brief obit in the Wyandot County Republican reads: "Joseph Rinehart died Sunday morning, Dec. 9th, at the residence of Mrs. E.G. Steiner [his daughter, Elizabeth Rinehart Steiner], aged 82 years. Funeral Monday afternoon at Oceola O." Joseph was born in 1806 in Pennsylvania; his mother's name was Elizabeth but his father's name I have yet to discover. Did they come from Switzerland or Austria or Germany? And when?
  • Shehen. Who were John Shehen's parents and what was John Shehen's wife's maiden name? John (1801-??) was hubby's 2d great-grandpa, born in Ireland, as was his wife, Mary (1801-??). Where in Ireland, I don't yet know...
  • Slatter. Where and when did John Slatter Sr. die? He was born in 1811 in Oxfordshire, England, and he was hubby's 2d great-grandpa. Who were his parents and where were they from?
2022 update: I later discovered that yes, John McClure was descended from a Donegal McClure family (see this ancestor landing page). I don't have many answers about the Rinehart family, but here's that ancestor landing page. I do know about the Shehen family and the Slatter family! See this ancestor landing page.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Wedding Wednesday: Hi Mom!

Hermina Schwartz with twin daughters Dorothy (center) and Daisy (right, the bride, my Mom!)
Mom's birthday would have been this week, and her wedding anniversary was at the end of November. Today I'm saying "Hi Mom" with this quick photo post of her late-1940s wedding. Above, Daisy Burk gets ready for the ceremony with the help of her twin sister Dorothy Schwartz and their mother, Hermina Farkas Schwartz.

Here's Mom with her father, Theodore Schwartz, in the ballroom of the Hotel McAlpin in New York City, then a fashionable place to hold a wedding.

My father's Mahler family gathered for a group portrait after the ceremony. Just to the right of Mom is Dad, Harold Burk, and his mother, Henrietta Mahler Burk (in the hat). Dad's younger brother is at far right of the second row, and his two sisters are the ladies in the center/right of the top row, at either side of the gentleman with the mustache.

Hi Mom!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Surname Saturday: Rinehart

Elizabeth Jane Rinehart Steiner,
hubby's great-grandma
Thanks to the responsive librarians in the Heritage Room of the Upper Sandusky (Ohio) Community Library, I have a copy of the obit for Elizabeth Jane Rinehart Steiner.

Now I know she was one of four children of Joseph and Margaret (Shanklin) Rinehart. I may even receive a copy of Joseph Rinehart's obit from the Heritage Room before December 9th, the day Joseph died in 1888.

Here's the obituary, transcribed from the Wyandot Chief (Ohio), November 6, 1905:

Mrs. Elizabeth Steiner 
Dies at home of her son-in-law and daughter at noon Saturday
Another of Wyandot county's grand old ladies has passed to that beautiful home where sorrow and sickness are unknown. At the residence of ex-Auditor and Mrs. E.N. Halbedel, on North Fifth Street, at 11:45 o'clock Saturday morning, the spirit of Mrs. Elizabeth Steiner took its flight heavenward and a home is cast in deepest gloom. All her daughters except one were at her bedside when final dissolution came. Mrs. Steiner had been an invalid for five years. For the past six weeks, she had been hovering between life and death. Demise came as a sweet relief to a noble woman, who had bravely battled against the ravages of disease for years.

Elizabeth Rinehart was born in Ashland county, February 18, 1834, having passed the seventy-first milestone of her life. She removed to Crawford County with her parents, Joseph and Margaret Rinehart, when ten years of age. Here on August 7, 1857 [sic--year was actually 1851], she was united in marriage with E. G. Steiner. Shortly after their marriage they moved to Nevada [OH] where they resided for many happy years. That village was then but a hamlet of perhaps a dozen houses. Nine children blessed this union. Three preceded their mother to the other shore. Mr. Steiner's death occurred in 1880. For a number of years Mrs. Steiner has resided with her daughter, Mrs. E.N. Halbedel.

The living children are Orville, of Marion; Mrs. E.D. Post, Knoxville, Tenn.; Mrs. F.W. Rhuark, Topeka, Hansas; Mrs. E.N. Halbedel and Mrs. J.N. Traxler, of this city; Mrs. B.L. McClure, of Bellefontaine. A brother, Hugh Rinehart of Antrim township, and two sisters, Mrs. Samuel Hilborn of Nevada [OH] and Mrs. Nannie R. Gregg of Bellefontaine, survive her. She also leaves three grandchildren: Mrs. John Rummell, of Galion; Mrs. A.T. Welborn, of Detroit; and Edgar Traxler. 

Mrs. Steiner had been a kind/christian wife and mother, a woman who loved her home and she was never happier than when surrounded by her children. Her dear, kindly face will be missed here on earth, but the heavenly hosts have already rejoiced in its coming.

The last sad rites over the remains of Mrs. Elizabeth Steiner occurred from the home of Ex-Auditor and Mrs. E.N. Halbedel, on North Fifth Street, at 1:30 o'clock, Monday afternoon. Rev. J.W. Holland conducted the services. A choir, composed of Miss Mildred Hughey, Mrs. Geo. F. Pierman, Mrs. W.C. Teter, and Miss Lottie Hutter, accompanied by Miss Alice Blaser at the piano, sang several selections. The floral tributes were very beauiful. Burial was made at Old Mission [cemetery], where Rev. T.D. Fidler had charge of the ceremony. The pallberarers were Capt. G.W. Hale, William Gregg, Judge Allen Smalley, Jonas J. Hulse, H.W. Peters and W.H. Frater.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thanksgivings Past...lots to be thankful for

Way back in 1956, the Farkas Family Tree met for a combination masquerade party and Thanksgiving dinner at the Gramercy Park Hotel in Manhattan. My maternal grandparents, Hermina Farkas Schwartz and Theodore Schwartz, were there, along with their three children (Daisy Schwartz Burk--that's my Mom--plus her twin Dorothy and their older brother Fred). And of course the rest of the Farkas siblings, in-laws, and grandchildren. Lots of fun!

Nearly 20 years later, Sis and her husband hosted Thanksgiving with Mom at their apartment in Riverdale (the ritzy section of the Bronx). 

Happy Thanksgiving to my extended family, especially my cousins found through genealogy and the cousins I have yet to meet from distant parts of the family trees I'm researching!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Tau Heta Epsilon: Sis Starts a Sorority

Sis's college grad photo
It was the Age of Aquarius, and Sis and her friends decided to start a sorority at Lehman College in the Bronx.

As the first president, she wrote an article for the Parthenon, the "Greek" newspaper at Lehman, to explain how the sorority got its name. Here's an excerpt:
"We took many Greek letters and juggled in an attempt to create a name that was both feminine and Greek. Sigma Omega Sigma (SOS) was a top choice, along with Alpha Nu Delta (AND) and Tau Eta Epsilon (THE).
"The World Book Encyclopedia informs that eta's capital representation is H, so it is sort of legal for us to represent ourselves as THE. At any rate, it invites inquiry, so THE won, although by a small margin.

"It is rather hard to explain our name to people who know the Greek alphabet and object to the "H." We feel that it makes our name unique; we like it. THE is short, catchy, and self-explanatory. It creates a visual image not foreign to non-Greeks.

"We hope that THE becomes a familiar and well-known name at Lehman College: We have paved the way for other organizations to come."
Only six months after THE was organized, it captured first place in the first annual Greek Sing contest. (Think Glee competition with musical skits.) THE's skit was about a "fanciful, satirical" trip around the college campus, with stops at the cafeteria, front lawn, and library. Way to go, Sis!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Sentimental Sunday: Dusty box? Genealogy gold!

In Sis's basement to look for Christmas stuff, we noticed a nondescript, dusty box sitting on the shelf. Curious, we lifted the lid. Family history gold!

Inside were Sis's elementary school report cards, diplomas from grade school/junior high/high school, her P.S. 103 autograph book (like mine but with her graduation corsage pressed inside!), complete programs from our graduations, and many other childhood artifacts. Also some ephemera like a ticket to her high school graduation, held at the then-elegant Paradise Theater in the Bronx, and a stack of college newspapers featuring the sorority she started at Lehman College (more in a later post).

The box held other treasures, including a certificate issued by Lebanon Hospital (now Bronx-Lebanon Hospital Center), where Sis and I were born just before 6 pm, on a cold Wednesday afternoon in February [no dates, please].

The map at right shows that Lebanon Hospital is located on the Grand Concourse, once a ritzy area of the Bronx and a 30-minute cab ride away from where Daisy Schwartz Burk and her husband Harold Burk were living in the Northeast Bronx.

For years, Sis and I would gather around Mom as she worked in the kitchen and ask her to tell "The Hospital Story." She told it something like this: "We had no idea that twins were on the way. After Dad took me to the hospital, he sat in the waiting room, holding a roll of dimes for phone calls to tell the family whether the baby was a boy or a girl. After the first baby [that's me!] was born, the staff was about to give Dad the news when the doctor began delivering the surprise second baby [Sis!], just two minutes later. As soon as Dad found out, he pumped dime after dime into the pay phone calling relatives to tell them about the twins! You girls had to stay in heated cribs at the hospital for a few days until you weighed 5 lbs each; only then you were allowed to go home with us."

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Tombstone Tuesday: Fernando Wood, a pivotal player in Lincoln movie

Cousin Larry, the genealogist of our Wood family, spotted a distant ancestor in the new Spielberg movie Lincoln: Fernando Wood. (He's played by Lee Pace, and has a surprisingly juicy part.)

Fernando (left) was mayor of New York in the 1850s/60s and, earlier, served as one of the state's representatives in the US Congress during the 1840s.

Among his bizarre ideas was that New York City should secede from the union (1861), becoming the Free City of Tri-Insula. (Thanks to Keith Muchowski of the Strawfoot Civil War/NYC blog for mentioning the proposed name of the city after secession!)

After initially supporting President Lincoln, he became an ardent supporter of the Confederate side and appears in Lincoln in that role. Fernando died in 1881 and is buried in New York City's Trinity Church Cemetery (tombstone above).

As Cousin Larry points out, you can choose your friends but not your family.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

A Day to Remember Our Veterans

PFC Wood in Korea

Sgt. Dorothy H. Schwartz
Captain John Daniel Slatter

Bandmaster Henry Arthur Slatter
Privates Harold and Sidney Burk
My family tree and my husband's family tree include a number of vets from WWI and WWII, as well as peacetime service. A few are pictured above. Thank you to our veterans! Never forget.

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. An earlier generation put their names on the Wall of Honor.

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 Farkas 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.

2022 update: My twin and I have paid to put the names of four immigrant grandparents on the Ellis Island Wall of Honor: Theodore Schwartz and his wife, Hermina Farkas Schwartz, plus Isaac Burk and his wife, Henrietta Mahler Burk.

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.
2022 update: I've had contacts with a few McClure distant cousins via this FB page! Great cousin bait.

*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.) ** 2022 update: Benji's description now explains that he's the ancestor-in-law of, well, me! Just wanted to clarifyl

* For earlier 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 (2022 update: the Slatter line is England but now I know the Shehen was originally from Ireland).

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 sure (as of 2022) 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). At least I now, in 2022, have names to research.

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.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Sentimental Sunday: Remember the Hardy Boys?

Hubby's preteen room in Cleveland Heights, OH

When hubby was in grade school, he was a big fan of the Hardy Boys mysteries.

You can see his collection of books from the series on the top shelf of his bookcase (and guess the era by looking at the radiator at right).

Those Hardy Boys books have been out of his collection for a long, long time...but this b/w photo of his bedroom is a fun reminder.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Sentimental Sunday: Got a Token for the IRT?

Top row: 1953, 1970, 1980 tokens; bottom row: 1979, 1986, 1995 tokens
Growing up in the Bronx, the IRT subway was the fastest way to get from the northern end of the city to anywhere else in the Big Apple. (IRT is short for Interborough Rapid Transit.) My sisters and I rode the subway to high school. And of course we dropped a subway token into the turnstile to get to "the city"--Manhattan--for any reason. We thought nothing of being a straphanger for an hour to get to a museum or work or Radio City Music Hall. My penny loafers had tokens instead of pennies, just in case I was ever stranded somewhere and needed carfare.

Today's New York Times discusses and pictures 15 additional objects that readers chose to represent New York City, supplementing a list of 50 objects printed by the Times a few weeks ago. Alas, the iconic subway token pictured in the article (with the cutout Y) has now been consigned to the scrapheap of history by undistinguished MetroCards (introduced in 2003).

But as shown above, I have a sentimental collection of tokens, and I identified the intro year of each with the help of a NYC Subway website (unaffiliated with the actual subway).

One treasured keepsake in my collection is a token issued at only one place, the bus terminal at Orchard Beach in the Bronx, to get on a bus and connect with a subway or another bus elsewhere in the borough. The bus terminal was operated by the Manhattan and Bronx Surface Transit Operating Authority (MABSTOA)--shortened to M.A.B. in the center of the token, shown below.

Orchard Beach token issued by Manhattan and Bronx Surface Transit Operating Authority
On a summer's day, Sis and I would take a bus up Pelham Parkway to connect with a second bus going to the Riviera of the Bronx. On the return trip, we'd line up at the beach bus terminal, buy a token, drop it into the turnstile slot, and board the bus that would take us back to Pelham Parkway for the connection with our bus home. Total travel time was about 40 minutes, if memory serves, and the return trip was sandier, of course.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Sentimental Sunday: Mayflower Day

Thanks to Heather Wilkinson Rojo for pointing out that today is Mayflower Day, the day in 1620 when the Mayflower sailed away from Plymouth, England to the New World.

Hubby had five ancestors on the Mayflower:
  • Degory Priest (whose line led through the Coombs family to Sarah Hatch, who married James Cushman; their granddaughter Lydia was the mother of Harriet Taber, who married Isaiah Wood Sr. in Massachusetts in 1806. Harriet and Isaiah were hubby's g-g-grandparents).
  • Isaac Allerton, Mary Norris, and Mary Allerton (Mary Allerton Cushman's son Eleazer Cushman married Elizabeth Royal Coombs, g-grandaughter of Degory Priest, linking these ancestors to the family tree of Degory Priest).
  • Francis Cooke 

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Wedding Wednesday: Great-Grand-Uncle Joe Marries Eva

Joe Jacobs and Eva Michalovsky marriage certificate, 1890
My great-grandma Tillie Jacobs Mahler had a brother, Joe Jacobs, and thanks to my great-aunt Ida's handwritten records of "Who's Who to Me," I found out that Joe's wife was Eva (Michalovsky). They married on March 2, 1890 in the Lower East Side of Manhattan.

Faster than you can say "New York minute," I checked the Italian Genealogical Group's vital records index and sent to the NYC authorities for Joe and Eva's marriage certificate.

Now I'm able to confirm that Joe and Tillie's mother was Rachel Jacobs--and Tillie's maiden name was Shuham. Joe and Tillie's father was Jona Jacob, according to the cert, but other documents show the father's given names as "Julius Yainu." Whether the name was actually Jacob or Jacobs depends on which records I look at...Still, progress!

REAL progress because one of the two witnesses listed on Joe and Eva's marriage cert is "M. Mahler." That's Meyer Mahler, Tillie's husband (my great-grandpa). Woo hoo!

Now a surprise. The bride, groom, and one witness signed with X.

Presumably that means Joe, Eva, and Meyer couldn't write in English. Hmm. And who was "H. Kassel," the second witness?

By the way, Joe and Eva had five children: Flora Jacobs (b. 1890), Louis Jacobs (b. 1891), Morris Jacobs (1895), Frank Jacobs (1897), and Hilda Jacobs* (1899). Any Jacobs cousins out there? Please get in touch!

*Cuz Lois remembered that Hilda married a man with the last name of Wilner. That one name helped me trace some of her family! Thank you, cuz :)

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Remembering September 11, 2001, 11 Years Later

(I wrote the following post on September 11, 2009, and I'm repeating with a few small changes because the images and feelings are still as vivid as they were 11 years ago...)
Newspapers in Rome on September 12, 2001

On a 2-week tour of Italy, I was sitting in the public room of a small hotel in Rome during afternoon siesta hours on September 11th. The TV was on in the corner, showing an Italian soap opera, and I was stitching a needlepoint stocking for my niece's baby son, who had been born just a month earlier.

Suddenly the TV picture switched to a jet slamming into one of the Twin Towers, and the station replayed that clip several times as Italian newscasters discussed what was happening. The crawl at bottom of the screen credited CNN for the footage, and I quickly realized that any English-language commentary was being replaced by Italian commentary. But I did notice the word "live" and it became clear that the picture of the damaged Twin Towers was being broadcast in real time.

I found my husband and we found one of the tour guides, who joined the group gathered by the small TV. As we watched in shock, the second jet rammed the Twin Towers and our guide translated what the news anchors were saying. We sat numb and horrified as the first Tower collapsed.

By now many tour members were already on the phone trying to call friends and relatives in NYC, even though we'd already heard that the lines were jammed and calls weren't getting through. Instead many of us went to the nearest Internet point to check online news sites and send e-mails to our NY connections.

The rest of that day is a blur, although I know the guides suggested a quiet walking tour of one of the seven hills. For the next few days, whenever our group was in public, Italians would come up to us, ask if we were American, and express their shock over the attacks and their support for us in our sorrow.

We were visiting the Vatican that Friday during the time when the worldwide period of silence was observed. Everyone in the Vatican stopped what they were doing and stood up, respectfully standing in place for three minutes with heads bowed, in silent prayer or contemplation or sorrow. Standing quietly in Rome with the world taking a break from everyday life to mourn with our country, I felt a comforting sense of peace and solidarity.

Today, the anniversary of that tragic day still brings sadness but it also brings remembrance about the lives saved and the shared feeling of joining with mourners in Italy during that moment of silence.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Sentimental Sunday: Sunday in Central Park

Digitizing photos has brought me face to face with family faces as I've never seen them. An example: a photo of my hubby, without a beard. And interestingly, my late father-in-law Edgar James Wood's diary for Tuesday, September 22, when this photo was taken, says: "W & I took the children to the Children's Zoo in Central Park for the afternoon." ("W" is Edgar's abbreviation for his son.)

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Surname Saturday: The Slatter family

Today I'm back on the genealogy trail of the Slatters of England, Canada, and Ohio, including John Slatter (b. 1838 in Oxfordshire, England, d. 1901 in Cleveland, OH) and Mary Shehen (b. 1801? in Marylebone, England, d. ?). These are hubby's great-grandfather and great-grandmother

Captain John Slatter, 48th Highlanders
John and Mary had 4 sons and 2 daughters. I've found no trace of the adult life of Thomas John Slatter, the oldest child--but I do know where the other 5 children settled down and lived their lives.

Albert William Slatter (1862-1935) moved to London, Ontario, Canada and became bandmaster of the 7th London Fusiliers. He and his wife Eleanor N. Slatter (1866-?) had 6 children: Maud, Ada, Albert, Earnest [sic], Glynn, and John. 

John Daniel Slatter* (1864-1954) moved to Toronto, Canada and became the celebrated bandmaster of the 48th Highlanders (see photo). John married Sophie Mary Elizabeth LeGallais and they had 6 children who survived infancy: Albert Matthew, Frederick William, Edith Sophie (who, sadly, died in her 20s), Bessie Louise, Walter John, and Mabel Alice. When Captain Jack died in 1954, his obit listed as survivors: Mabel Davidson, Bert Slatter, Walter Slatter, and Fred Slatter. 

Henry Arthur Slatter (1866-1942), John's younger brother, was in military bands in London, England, and later moved to Vancouver, where he was bandmaster of the 72nd Seaforth Highlanders. Henry and wife Alice Good had 3 children who survived infancy: Arthur Albert, John Henry, and Dorothy Florence. 

Dorothy Baker Nicholas (?) and Edith Baker Wise (?) with Edgar James Wood

Adelaide Mary Ann Slatter (1868-1947) moved to Ohio and married James Sills Baker. They had 2 children, Dorothy Louise and Edith Eleanor. The photo above shows cousins Dorothy and Edith, with my late father-in-law Edgar James Wood. We haven't yet reconnected with Dorothy's children (Madelyn Nicholas, Joan Nicholas, and Alfred Nicholas).

The baby sister of the Slatter family was Mary Slatter (1869-1925), hubby's grandma, who married grandpa James Edgar Wood on September 21, 1898 in Toledo, Ohio. 2022 update: I now know a lot about the Slatters, summarized on my ancestor landing page here!

*Jack Shea recently left a comment on one of my posts about Capt. Jack, saying: "The Dileas, the Regimental history, says that he was as ramrod-straight the day he retired as the day he joined the Regiment." Also he mentioned that Capt. Jack received the Member of the Order of the British Empire, a meritorious service medal, and a King George V Silver Jubilee Medal, all of which are in the Regimental Museum, I believe.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Tuesday's Tip: Scan BIG, Then Fiddle Around

My niece had never seen her paternal grandfather (he died before she was born) so when I had an opportunity to borrow a photo of him for scanning, I jumped at the chance. Here's the way the snapshot looked when scanned at 1200 dots per inch on my home scanner (a Canon, with accessories for scanning slides as well as photos/documents):

This file is 2MB, big enough to allow some detail once I crop. Using the free photo management program Picasa, I cropped to show just Grandpa's head and the baby he's holding.

Picasa has a button marked "I'm feeling lucky" that automatically adjusts color and contrast. Click on it, and the result is Grandpa and baby as shown here. I made one small additional adjustment: I sharpened the image. And that's it.

I was actually lucky: This photo had no thumb-tack holes, dust fluffs, or smudges to be retouched out. Now future generations will know what Grandpa looked like while holding his first grandchild, only 4 months old! And the whole process took just a couple of minutes, with freebie software.