Friday, December 31, 2021

Penny Postal Greeting New Year's

When my husband's uncle Wallis Wood was just 5 years old, he received this fanciful New Year's postcard from his Wood relatives at the end of 1910.

It was very early in the air age. The two kiddies in in this air ship are having a steampunk holiday, from the looks of this colorful illustration. 

But in reality, an airship named America did set out to cross the Atlantic Ocean in October of 1910, lifting off from New Jersey to land somewhere in Europe (no fixed destination). Before experiencing difficulty and abandoning the attempt, the crew set a new record for flight time (71.5 hours) and distance flown (1,008 miles). 

Dear readers, wishing you a brighter and better new year in 2022!

Thursday, December 30, 2021

A Look Ahead to My Genealogy Projects in 2022


As 2022 approaches, I'm looking forward to making progress on a number of genealogy projects.
  • Census research: I can hardly wait until April 1st, when the 1950 US Census will be released. I'm ready to browse with names, street addresses, and enumeration districts. If the surname search function is operational, so much the better. I can sort my listing of most-wanted ancestors alphabetically by surname or numerically by ED. This Census could help me solve some vexing family-history mysteries! A true highlight of 2022.
  • Census research: On January 6, the 1921 Census for England will be released. My hubby had ancestors in London at that point, and I had paternal cousins in Manchester and London. Should be quite interesting to locate these people and learn more!
  • Bite-sized bios: I'll be writing and posting (in public) more bite-sized bios for ancestors in my family tree and my hubby's family tree. For instance, I haven't written any public bios for aunts/uncles other than my Auntie Dorothy, who was a WAC, although all of these ancestors are mentioned in private family-history booklets sent to relatives. Also I'll be working on bios for great aunts and great uncles, and for ancestors who served in the military.
  • Photo management: It's time (past time, really) for reorganizing old family photos. I bought one archival photo album as an experiment started scanning photos before slotting them into the album. In 2022, I plan to test a different type of album and increase momentum. Regardless of the albums I use, captioning is key!
  • Research priority: Other than searching newly-released Census records, my top research priority is to follow up on clues uncovered by the incredible WikiTree team a few weeks ago. There are so many intriguing possibilities for improving my family tree and adding more ancestors/bios/sources on WikiTree.
  • DNA matches: Who knows what the future holds here? Maybe 2022 will be the year I make a big breakthrough! I'm fishing in many ponds and keeping my fingers crossed.
  • Presentations: It is an honor to be presenting virtual programs to audiences near and far. My talk about the 1950 US Census is currently the most popular. Until full indexing is complete, I'll be explaining the enumeration quirks and demonstrating the three-step process for finding ancestors through efficient, informed browsing. 
  • Genealogy education: So many virtual learning opportunities are ahead in 2022. I'm thankful that once again, RootsTech will be all-virtual and worldwide, offering hundreds of talks on genealogy topics for all levels and all interests. I'll miss seeing my genie friends in person, but the next-best thing is having access to world-class talks without leaving home. At least to start the year, all of the genealogy groups to which I belong are hosting speakers virtually--especially convenient in the winter, when weather is iffy. 
Dear readers, I wish you a new year filled with successful genealogy research, interesting learning opportunities, and great progress on your family history projects!

- "Future" is the final prompt for Amy Johnson Crow's #52Ancestors challenge of 2021. 

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

A Look Back at My Genealogy Projects in 2021

Staying close to home in 2021, as I did in 2020, it was a year chock-full of genealogy projects. 

Although I've been doing some research, I was particularly focused on documenting family history for descendants and to share more widely online. Genealogy is never complete...but anything I share is more than the family (and future researchers) had before. Why wait? I'm sharing now.

Also, I blogged, wrote, and gave talks about preserving family history, prepping for the 1950 US Census, perpetuating family history, and many other topics.


  • I published a new edition of my best-selling book, Planning a Future for Your Family's Past, receiving highly favorable reviews from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Family Tree Magazine (UK), as well as from genealogy societies and genealogy bloggers.
  • It was a real honor to be a featured guest during the WikiTree Challenge. The remarkable WikiTree super-sleuths smashed several brick walls (Burk, Farkas, and Kunstler) and provided concrete clues to help me continue the research!  
  • I made nearly two dozen live webinar presentations to US genealogy societies from coast to coast, plus one talk in person. In addition, I recorded talks for the New England Regional Genealogical Conference, THE Genealogy Show UK (summer and winter), and the Virtual Genealogy Association Conference. Wonderful audiences! 
  • It was fun being a #GenChat guest expert, sparking discussion about finding ancestors when the 1950 US Census is released in April. Also I participated in lots of #GenChat and #AncestryHour chats, occasionally chiming in on #ANZAncestryTime chats.
  • I wrote an article, "Finding Heirs for Your Family History," published in the December, 2021 issue of Internet Genealogy magazine.
  • I wrote an article, "Free and Almost Free Genealogy," published in the winter 2021 issue of Avotaynu, the International Review of Jewish Genealogy.
  • I found new homes (museums, libraries, historical societies) for artifacts such as theater programs collected by my late father-in-law from the 1920s to the 1980s. Family is so happy about donating these items. More to go!
  • Consulting with relatives, I wrote and posted (on Find a Grave, Family Search, MyHeritage, WikiTree, and elsewhere) dozens of bite-sized ancestor bios from my tree and hubby's tree. Good progress, with more in the works.
  • My late father-in-law left hundreds of photos and negatives, which I'm slowly scanning, captioning, and sharing with relatives. To be continued in 2022, along with scanning my childhood photos. Scanning is easy, captioning is key.
  • I helped my hubby record several family-history videos and prepare a number of written reminiscences, complete with photos. Lesson learned: For our family audience, videos are watched once, but printed materials live on.
  • I expanded my virtual cemeteries on Find a Grave to share with relatives and keep burial places from being forgotten in the future. More to go!
  • I expanded my knowledge base by watching talks all year, not just those fantastic RootsTech talks but also programs hosted by national, regional, and local genealogical societies. In my bunny slippers and headset! (PS: I'm excited to be a RootsTech Influencer--aka Ambassador--for 2022.)
My next post will be a look ahead to 2022, when I will celebrate 14 years of genealogy blogging.

Saturday, December 25, 2021

Penny Postcard Christmas Greetings


More than 100 years in the past, this colorful penny postal greeting was sent by a loving aunt and uncle in the Wood family to a young nephew living in Cleveland, Ohio. 

This and other postcards are still in family hands today, much treasured and well preserved.

Dear readers, may you have a joyful Christmas!

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

1950 US Census: Look Out Below!

When you find your ancestors in the 1950 US Census (to be released on April 1, 2022), read across the line for every response given by your ancestor. Note every question and answer carefully.

And, of course, download the page so you can review at any time, check again for nearby FAN club members, and cite your source.

But wait, there may be more.

Was your ancestor among those sampled?

Whenever you find an ancestor in this Census, always--always!--look at the bottom of the page. 

If you're lucky, your ancestors might have been among the millions selected to answer additional "sample questions" about their 1949 residence, 1949 income, birthplace of parents, military service (males only), and much more. Six folks were designated on every page to answer sample questions.

The excerpt above shows just some of the questions that run along the lower edge of the population schedule.

Click here to see the main questions in the 1950 US Census as well as the detailed sample questions.

Six sampled per page

Unlike previous Census forms, where the number of the line sampled was the same on every page, the 1950 Census planners took care to avoid that situation. As a result, you can't predict which six will be sampled on the page where your ancestor is enumerated. 

Given the dozens of ancestors I'll be looking for in this mid-century census, there is a good possibility that a few (or more than a few) will be among those chosen to answer the sample questions.  

So look out below whenever you locate an ancestor in this census. If your ancestor wasn't sampled, perhaps a neighbor or friend was sampled--which may give you some clues as well.

For all my posts about the 1950 US Census, please see my summary page.

Sunday, December 19, 2021

Three Brick Walls Smashed by Remarkable WikiTreers

This past Wednesday, the remarkable WikiTree volunteers who worked tirelessly on improving my family tree were able to break three challenging brick walls. 

Overall, they improved many branches of my tree, adding people, lots of background, detailed sources, and dozens of clues for me to investigate! 

If you want to see the reveal as it unfolded during the WikiTree broadcast, take a look here

And here's a link to learn more about WikiTree's collaborative family tree. WikiTree is free, the emphasis is on connections, and it's a very friendly place!

Breakthrough on my Burk line

The WikiTree broadcast led with the news of an important breakthrough on my Burk line. 

When I first ventured into genealogy, my goal was to discover the where, when, and how my paternal grandfather Isaac Burk (1882-1943) died. In the process, I learned about my paternal great-grandfather, Solomon Elias Burk--but that was as far back as I could go.

Until now. The WikiTree team was able to discover the name of my great-great-grandfather, Meyer Burk, in Gargzdai, Lithuania, the place where my grandpa Isaac and his siblings were born (see WikiTree image at top). An exciting breakthrough! Because the name Meyer has been carried down in the Burk line through multiple generations, he is a most welcome addition--among the earliest of my ancestors on the family tree.

Breakthrough on my Farkas line

Yet another brick wall was busted when the WikiTree team uncovered a brother for my great-grandfather, Moritz Farkas (1857-1936). 

Digging really deep, the WikiTreers found evidence of Simon Farkas (b. about 1852), who is almost certainly Moritz's older brother. The names fit, the dates and places fit--Botpalad, Hungary was where a number of Farkas ancestors were born. 

This is an intriguing breakthrough because Simon's father was Ferencz, as was Moritz's father, according to the official birth records. Now I hope to learn more by tracing Simon's line, starting with the research notes provided by WikiTreers.

Breakthrough on my Kunstler line

One more breakthrough was the discovery of a possible brother for Samuel (Shmuel) Zanvil Kunstler, my great-great-grandfather. A little background (corrected): More than 20 years ago, a cousin visited this ancestor's grave and saw that the stone lists Josef Moshe as the father of Samuel.

This week, the WikiTreers found records pointing to innkeeper Herman (Hersko) Kunstler, in NagyBereg, as a possible brother to Samuel. The Kunstlers did, in fact, operate an inn, which confirms some kind of connection! 

Updated: Herman's father is Josef M., according to the records uncovered by the WikiTreers. Samuel's father, according to his gravestone, was Josef Moshe, whose father was Hillel. I'm going to take a closer look, but this is extremely promising.

Clearly, more research is in my future, a happy prospect for 2022. 

It was truly an honor to be a featured guest during the WikiTree Challenge.

I want to thank the many WikiTreers who worked so hard and dug so deep to improve my family tree.

This is my week #50 post for Amy Johnson Crow's #52Ancestors challenge. 

I've already signed up for the 2022 edition of #52 Ancestors! Follow this link if you want to sign up, too.

Friday, December 17, 2021

Latest News: 1950 US Census Release

This week, the US National Archives announced that when it releases the 1950 US Census records on April 1, 2022, a basic surname search function will be available!

The key is the use of artificial intelligence and OCR (optical character recognition) technologies to decipher handwritten names on the population schedules. You can read the details here

Also, on a recent Extreme Genes podcast, Scott Fisher asked Jim Ericson of about the timeline for indexing the 1950 US Census. The response: Family Search hopes to have the 1950 Census indexed by the fall of 2022, thanks to new technology and more volunteers. Plus the effort will capture even more of the details beyond name! You can read the transcript of the podcast here.

For a bit of mid-century Census advertising, take a look at good ole Uncle Sam, above. He was the star of one of the print ads created to promote participation in the count. See this NARA page for a full selection of ads leading up to April 1, 1950.

Are you getting ready for this exciting Census release? Please check my page of tips and analysis here. I also give a webinar about the unique genealogical info in this Census, and how to find ancestors before indexing is complete. Here's a link to my presentation schedule. Happy ancestor hunting!

Monday, December 13, 2021

For the Holidays, a Bite-Sized Family History Project

With Christmas fast approaching, I asked my wonderful hubby to please write a few lines about his childhood memories of Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. He thought for a few minutes about what stood out, both the good and the not-so-good, and he wrote half a page. As we talked, more details started flooding back. Pretty soon he had a full page of memories, ranging from putting up the tree to singing carols as his father played the piano.

Illustrating written memories

Next, my hubby browsed old 35mm slides from his childhood and chose seven to go along with his written memories. He found slides of his siblings next to the tree, one of himself in pjs and robe on Christmas Day, one of his father (Edgar James Wood) testing a Christmas toy, one of his mother (Marian McClure Wood) in holiday finery, and one of his grandfather (Brice Larimer McClure) chatting with a grandchild on Christmas. 

As a holiday surprise, we're sending family members these images along with the page of memories. Even in a busy season, we found a couple of hours to assemble the project--and I'm sure recipients will find a few minutes to read the story and smile at the photos from decades in the past.

Of course we've been sharing these and other memories around the dinner table during this year's holiday celebrations. And making new memories for the future.

Bonus: "spot the heirloom"

Among the images scanned from old slides, my eye was drawn to the one at top. It shows the living room in hubby's childhood home in Cleveland, Ohio, festively decorated for Christmas exactly as he saw in his mind's eye. 

Next to the piano keyboard, on the left edge of the image, the camera captured a special heirloom that has been passed down in the family: his mother's handmade ceramic sculpture of a zebra. I marked it with a red box in the image above. 

My heart was touched by seeing my late mom-in-law's favorite little zebra on display in her living room. Some distant day, this little zebra and her other ceramics will be inherited by descendants, along with the stories and photos.

- This is my Genealogy Blog Party post for December 2021.

Saturday, December 11, 2021

Preserving Our Family's Legacy of Needlework

Last year, I wrote about my husband's grandma Floyda Mabel Steiner McClure's needlework legacy. A love of sewing and crocheting has continued in that family to the present day. I've wrapped each item in archival tissue to keep it safe for the future when it will be inherited by the next generation.

In my family, we have a number of hand-made needlework items we treasure for their beauty and for the long tradition they represent. 

At left, a detail from an embroidered set of linens by my mother, Daisy Schwartz Burk (1919-1981). The set is in great condition, washed and ironed and stored in an archival box for preservation. I put a label on the box to indicate who made the needlework and who inherits it.

Mom learned to embroider and to crochet from her mother, Hermina Farkas Schwartz (1886-1964), who also used her treadle machine to sew clothes. I imagine Hermina learned needlework from her mother, Lena Kunstler Farkas, and so on.

Love of needlework has been passed down from generation to generation in my Farkas family. Here are two afghans, one knit by a special cousin and one crocheted by a special niece. Each time I cuddle up in one of these, I think of the person who painstakingly made it, one stitch at a time. 

My hope is that by documenting these homemade heirlooms, and keeping them safe, future generations will be know they come from a very long line of talented needlework enthusiasts. 

None of my ancestors were quilters, but I got interested and over the years, I've made a number of wall quilts, bed quilts, and baby quilts. Each one has a label attached to the back, showing my name as the quilter, the date, and a photo...sometimes the photo is me, sometimes of the recipient if the quilt was a gift.

Now another of my nieces has taken up quilting and enjoys stitching quilts for her young ones and for friends. I'm so happy the tradition of homemade needlework is continuing in our family!

This is my week 49 post in Amy Johnson Crow's #52Ancestors series of genealogy prompts.

Thursday, December 9, 2021

My 1921 English Census Research

The 1921 Census for England and Wales will be released on January 6,  through, with a fee charged for accessing records. 

However, there will be several designated places (such as the Manchester Central Library) where the public can view and save 1921 Census records for free

My Manchester cousins are planning to look for our mutual immigrant ancestors in the 1921 Census. They have also offered to help me by looking for several ancestors in my husband's family, including descendants of his great-grandfather. I'm making a list and checking it twice! 

John Slatter Sr. and his children

My husband's great-grandfather John Slatter Sr. (1837-1901) was born in Oxfordshire, England and died in Cleveland, Ohio at the home of his youngest daughter, my hubby's grandma. John and his wife, Mary Shehen Slatter (1837-1889) had six children together: Thomas, Albert, John, Henry, Adelaide, and Mary. 

Five of the six children left England. Two settled in Ohio, three settled in Canada.  But one of the children doesn't seem to have left England, so far as I can determine.

John's probate as a clue

At top is a probate listing for John Slatter Sr, filed in Ohio in 1902, months after his death. Notice that five children are listed as heirs. Those are the five children I can account for. 

Thomas, however, is not listed. Very likely this is because Thomas had passed away before his father, but I don't know for sure. 

I do know Thomas John Slatter was taken in by his father's mother, Sarah Harris Slatter Shuttleworth, by the time of the 1871 UK Census. This saved Thomas John from going into the poorhouse along with his siblings and his mother.

Unfortunately, his grandma Sarah died in 1872 and at this point, I haven't definitively located Thomas John Slatter. I do have some leads to check out, including a possible stint in the military, but more research is needed to connect the dots.

Slatter ancestors on my 1921 list

In addition to searching the 1921 Census for a possible clue to Thomas John Slatter, I'll be looking for his cousins in the Slatter family: Thomas Albert Slatter (who I found in the 1939 register), Fanny Slatter Gardner (who died in 1931), and John Shuttleworth Slatter (a WWI veteran who died in 1927), among others.

So early 2022 is shaping up to be a period of intense Census searches for my hubby's family and, in April, for my family!

Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Two More Reasons to Create Virtual Cemeteries on FindaGrave

So far, I've created five virtual cemeteries on the free, worldwide, Ancestry-owned website

See my detailed post here about how and why to create a virtual cemetery on FindaGrave.

I've named each virtual cemetery and for some, I've added a brief description ("Descendants of Solomon Elias Burk and..."). Others will get a description very soon.

Names and descriptions help relatives and researchers who want to browse these memorials.

Now I want to point out two more reasons--two very good reasons!--for creating a virtual cemetery on FindaGrave.

Reason 1: Quickly go to a memorial 

Often, I access an ancestor's FindaGrave by clicking a link on my Ancestry family tree. 

If I'm not working on my Ancestry tree at the moment, I just go to my listing of virtual cemeteries on FindaGrave and locate a particular memorial that way. Fast and easy! 

I'm accessing many more of my memorials these days as I compose and post brief, bite-sized bios on FindaGrave and other websites. How easy it is to simply click on my virtual cemetery, see a memorial, and note which still need bite-sized bios.

Reason 2: Return to a memorial to see what's new

Just today I returned to a memorial I haven't accessed in months...and discovered that someone left a flower two weeks ago! In fact, looking at linked memorials, I saw this person left a flower on more than one of my ancestor's pages. Cousin bait?!

I immediately checked that person's FindaGrave profile page, found no listing of surnames, and sent a polite message (saying thank you for leaving a flower, and please let me know whether you're related to my ancestor). Fingers crossed that perhaps this is a distant cousin or someone in the FAN Club (friends, associates, neighbors).

Note I don't manage every one of my ancestor memorials (nor all of my hubby's ancestor memorials). As long as they're in good hands, I'm usually content to simply submit edits, including bite-sized bios. Other people also submit edits to these memorials on occasion (Census data, maiden names, etc). 

That's why it's always worthwhile checking back to see what's new. With my virtual cemeteries, I'm only a click away from any ancestor memorial.

Sunday, December 5, 2021

RootsTech Registration Is Free and Open Now!

The first-ever all-free and all-virtual Roots Tech was an incredible worldwide success. I'm still finishing the last few #Genealogy and #FamilyHistory videos from my 2020 playlist. Having an entire year to watch (and rewatch) has been a real plus. 

Now it's time to register for RootsTech 2021, again free and again all-virtual. You can click and register right here.

Starting March 3, RootsTech will offer more than 1,500 brand new talks, plus an international exhibit hall and much more.

Something for everyone, on every level. Did I mention it's free? Go ahead and register so you can receive updates about keynote speakers and other news.

Friday, December 3, 2021

Was Frank Jacobs Enumerated on T-Night in the 1950 US Census?

Continuing my quest for addresses so I can browse for ancestors when the unindexed 1950 U.S. Census is released next year, I've been researching the whereabouts of my 1c2r cousin, Frank M. Jacobs (1896-1974). 

Serving overseas in World War I with the Marines, he was wounded at Soissons and lost a leg. After he recovered, he embarked on a career in advertising. As shown in the 1930 and 1940 Census (and in city directories), Frank lived in Brooklyn, New York with his mother (Eva Michalovsky Jacobs, 1869-1941). She died in July of 1941.

Did Frank leave Brooklyn?

Frank's World War II draft registration card from 1942 shows him living at the Hotel Tudor on East 42nd Street in Manhattan, very convenient for his work at Young & Rubicam on Madison Avenue. At the time, this hotel hosted a mix of transient guests and permanent residents in 598 rooms [source: NY Times, April 6, 1947, p. 120].

Frank also listed his brother Louis as his main contact and showed his brother's address as a mailing address in Brooklyn.

But was Frank staying at the Hotel Tudor for only a limited time? Because Frank died in Brooklyn in 1974, it's possible he returned to Brooklyn after retiring. Next step: Check city/phone directories.

Directory search

Many city and phone directories are available for free via the Internet Archive. I browsed for Frank in the 1949 and 1950 telephone directories for Brooklyn, New York, and found two "Jacobs, Frank" entries in both directories. 

The 1950 directory is dated March, 1950; the 1949 directory is dated September, 1949. Clearly, if one of the Frank Jacobs listed in 1950 is my cousin, the 1950 Brooklyn address would be the most updated one for me to use in finding an Enumeration District for him in the 1950 US Census.

However, Frank was fairly consistent in listing himself as "Frank M. Jacobs" so I can't be sure whether either "Frank Jacobs" in Brooklyn was my cousin. 

Of course, his brother Louis may have listed Frank as being in the Brooklyn household with him on Census Day of 1950...which I'll see as soon as I locate the brother's household in the Census. That would be a bonus!

Transient night at the Hotel Tudor?

Suppose Frank was actually living at the Hotel Tudor in Manhattan during April of 1950. He might have wanted to be close to his office rather than commute back to Brooklyn every evening.

If this is the case, I'll have to browse for Frank in the listing of people registered at the Hotel Tudor on T-Night, April 11, 1950. This was the night set aside for distributing Individual Census Report forms to guests (and residents) at hotels, to be collected by enumerators and then recorded on the Population Schedule. 

The Hotel Tudor's street address was 302-4 East 42nd Street in New York City. Using the wonderful Enumeration District Finder on, I've narrowed down the hotel's ED to 31-1266. That's where I'l begin browsing for cousin Frank when the 1950 Census is made public on April 1.

UPDATE April 15, 2022: Frank was NOT listed as being at the Hotel Tudor in the 1950 Census. I'll have to wait for the full indexes by Family Search & Ancestry & MyHeritage to search for him by name.

NOTE: For more information about the 1950 US Census, please see my full topic page here.

Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Honored to be a WikiTree Challenge Guest!

This is the final month of WikiTree's Year of Accuracy Genealogy Challenge.

The goal is to make the collaborative family tree on WikiTree as complete and accurate as possible, sources and all. 

I've been putting my ancestors on WikiTree little by little, adding photos and biographical details, and -- of course -- indicating my sources. 

During December, teams of WikiTree research super-sleuths will focus on three folks in the genealogy community: Mary Roddy, James Tanner, and me. It is truly an honor to be included in the 2021 challenge!

I can't wait to see what hidden treasures the WikiTree teams will uncover as they dig deep to improve my family tree. 

A few items on my wish list:

  • Was paternal grandpa Isaac Burk descended from the Shuham family, as he wrote on his Social Security application? If so, he was related to his bride, my paternal grandma Henrietta Mahler Burk. She was a granddaughter of Rachel Shuham Jacobs. Sticking with this line, was Necke Gelle Shuham (Isaac's mom) the sister of Hinda Mitav? 
  • Rachel Shuham Jacobs was my paternal 2d great-grandma. Her daughter Tillie Jacobs Mahler claimed to be 100 years old when she died in 1952. If so, was Rachel a young teen when she gave birth to Tillie? 
  • Who were maternal great-grandpa Moritz Farkas's siblings? These would be children of Ferencz Farkas & Hermina Gross Farkas. Knowing more about these ancestors could help me connect my tree with Elek Farkas and his wife Rozsi. I believe Elek's daughter was Ida Weiss who married Herman Weiss, and I know their descendants were cousins to my maternal Farkas family. But what kind of cousins? Was Herman Weiss also a cousin to Farkas family?
  • What about the parents of my maternal great-grandma Hani Simonowitz Schwartz and her husband, Herman Yehuda Schwartz?

Thank you in advance for any ancestor details you're able to add to my tree and any brick walls you're able to smash, WikiTreers!

Sunday, November 28, 2021

Remembering WWI Vet Frank M. Jacobs

My 1c2r, Frank M. Jacobs (1896-1974) enlisted in the US Marines on April 18, 1917, when he was 20 years old. While he was fighting in World War I, he left behind his mother (Eva Michalovsky Jacobs), his father (Joseph Jacobs), and his siblings in Brooklyn, New York. 

Fighting in France

After a brief period of training, Frank was sent to France on June 27, 1917, where he fought in the Toulon Sector, Aisne Defensive, Chateau-Thierry Sector, and Soissons (the Aisne-Marne Offensive). All this detail is on his New York "Abstracts of World War I Military Service" record, shown below. By June of 1918, he had been promoted to Corporal.

Sadly, Frank lost a leg on July 19, 1918 during fierce fighting at the Battle at Soissons. He received medical attention in France and was returned to the States for further treatment. Meanwhile, more tragedy in the family: His father Joseph, a chronic invalid, died in November of 1918, before Frank was formally discharged.

So far as I can determine, Frank never married or had children. He pursued a long career in advertising. On his WWII draft registration card, Frank showed his employer as the big Madison Avenue firm Young & Rubicam.

In Frank's own words

Frank wrote home quite regularly throughout his service in WWI. His family shared some of those letters with local newspapers, a common practice at the time. Thanks to the wonderful (and completely free!) newspaper site Fulton Search, I read a number of letter excerpts and interviews with Frank, supplementing the official records with my ancestor's own words.

Only a week before being wounded, he wrote to his family that "I am glad to be one of the lucky ones to come through without a scratch. Our regiment has been cited five times for conspicuous bravery." On July 19, the newspaper reported that letter along with the news of Frank's injury.

In an interview with the Daily Standard Union newspaper in Brooklyn, New York, Frank described what happened in the Battle of Soissons. He told the reporter that "a high explosive shell broke right beside me. A pebble hit me in the head and I put my hand there. It was then that I noticed that my leg was gone. I didn't lose consciousness then or afterward."

I'm currently writing Frank's bite-sized bio and posting on genealogy websites to keep his memory alive and share his war experiences in his own words.

Plus I'm pleased to post this on the Genealogy Blog Party for November of 2021!

Thursday, November 25, 2021

Penny Postcard Thanksgiving Greetings


More than a century ago, this colorful penny postal greeting was sent to my husband's uncle in Cleveland, Ohio. 

Wishing you and your loved ones a very happy and very healthy Thanksgiving! 

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Book Review: Learning More About Your Ancestors Online

I've been a big fan of Kenneth R. Marks's website The Ancestor Hunt since I came upon it a few years ago. 

In one easy-to-navigate site, he's assembled 160,000+ links to free genealogy resources in North America, arranged geographically and by type of resource.

Kenneth also offers a series of free, downloadable Quick Reference Guides with useful tips for family-history researchers at all skill levels.

Now I'm a big fan of his new, very affordable reference book, Learning More About Your Ancestors Online: Genealogy Guides for Newbies, Hobbyists, and Old Pros, available in paperback and digitally on Amazon.

A baker's dozen of chapters

In 13 chapters, Kenneth organizes his advice and links according to topic: 

  • Chapter 1: Introduction
  • Chapter 2: Birth and marriage 
  • Chapter 3: Death records and information 
  • Chapter 4: General advice about genealogy research
  • Chapter 5: Immigration, naturalization, travel
  • Chapter 6: Military 
  • Chapter 7: Miscellaneous records (such as secret societies, old-time illnesses)
  • Chapter 8: Newspaper research
  • Chapter 9: Occupations
  • Chapter 10: Photos and physical description
  • Chapter 11: Residences and other locations
  • Chapter 12: Schools and yearbooks
  • Chapter 13: Resources

Every chapter has a ton of useful ideas and time-tested suggestions. The final chapter, not to be missed, is a roundup of links to other websites with additional information about search techniques and genealogical records.

I highly recommend Kenneth's book, which I purchased in paperback as soon as it was published. It's a handy reference book for everyone interested in genealogy research, from beginners to experienced professionals. Happy to have it on my genealogy bookshelf!

Saturday, November 20, 2021

The Penny Postcard Craze and Family History

Early in the 20th century, my husband's Wood family stayed in touch frequently via colorful penny postal greetings. 

Any holiday or celebration was a great reason to write to a young relative.

Not just on birthdays but also for Abraham Lincoln's birthday and July 4th and everything in between!

Penny postcard craze

The Wood family was completely caught up in the postcard craze of that era. 

It really took off when the price of mailing a postcard was lowered from two cents to one cent. 

At the time, the highest quality postcards were printed in Germany and shipped across the Atlantic. Most of the postcards sent by Wood ancestors in Ohio and beyond were, in fact, made in Germany. 

Postcards as family history clues 

Wallis Wood (1905-1957), my hubby's uncle living in Cleveland, received dozens of birthday postcards during his preteen years. Happily, the family held onto these postcards over the years.

Thanks to the addresses and postmarks, I was able to track this Cleveland branch of the Wood family as they moved to different houses nearly every year from 1905 to 1917. 

Why? Because Wallis Wood's papa (James Edgar Wood, 1871-1939) was a home builder. 

James constructed a new house roughly every year, moved his family in as he finished the interior, and sold that home. Then he moved the family to another home being completed by his crew. 

James, his wife (Mary Slatter Wood, 1869-1925), and their four sons had lots of different addresses over the years. In between Census years and in between directory listings, the postcards showed me where they were living.

These are just three of the fun birthday postcards sent to Wallis before 1915.

This is my post for week #46 of Amy Johnson Crow's #52 Ancestors challenge.

Thursday, November 18, 2021

1950 US Census: Putting Reported Income In Context

When the 1950 US Census is released in April, it will have detailed information on a surprisingly large sample of the population.

One in five sampled

If I'm lucky, my ancestors will be among the 20% of people sampled, which meant they answered additional questions about 1949 full-year income and more.

My deep dive into the reported statistics about each state will give me good context for interpreting my ancestors' answers. (You can see each state's reported statistics in the publications at HathiTrust. There are so many fascinating tables of statistics, income and much more, on a state-by-state basis.) 

Apples-to-apples comparison 

As shown in the excerpt above, the median income for urban areas of New York state was $3,123*, higher than the median for the state overall. I would expect my Big Apple ancestors and other city-dwellers to report higher incomes than any who lived in rural areas. Common sense, but seeing the statistics in the official reports gives me a sense of how much people might have earned at that time, so I can compare with my father's income. 

In later life, when my mother occasionally talked about those post-war years, she said my father's travel agency was doing well. I won't know how well unless they were among the 20% of the population who answered those sample questions in the 1950 Census. 

Yes, I already have their Enumeration District listed so I can browse for them as soon as the Census is released in April.

*The 2021 equivalent of $3,123 in income would be more than $33,000. 

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

1950 US Census: "Separated" Added as Marital Status

To be ready when the 1950 Census is released on April 1, 2022 (woo hoo!), I'm reading background information and thinking about what ancestors' responses could reveal about family history. 

If you have ancestors enumerated in the 1950 Census, do check out the summary report(s) for the state(s) where they lived in 1950. The reports are digitized and available at HathiTrust. The excerpt above is from the introduction to the results summary for New York State, where so many of my ancestors lived at the time. 

Separated, divorced, widowed?

"Separated" was a new category for marital status in the 1950 US Census. That's a plus for genealogical researchers, if our ancestors answered truthfully. 

In earlier years, a few of my ancestors said they were "widowed" rather than admit to being separated or divorced. Maybe in 1950, they answered "separated" because it was a little less of a stigma than "divorced" was at the time? 

As shown in the excerpt at top, the Census Bureau noted that this new "separated" category may have lowered the number of people recorded as "divorced." 

But read further, and see how the Census Bureau dealt with situations in which no marital status was recorded by the enumerator.

"Estimated" marital status

The Census Bureau "estimated" marital status in situations where the enumerator, for whatever reason, didn't record an individual's marital status.

The "estimate" was made on the basis of age and presence of spouse or children in the household.

So some individuals who were recorded as "single" under 1940 US Census rules might be recorded in 1950 as "married, spouse absent" or "widowed." Interesting clues.

Who's telling the truth?

What about my great aunt Nellie Block, who previously told enumerators she was single? In the US and NY Census documents I've checked, Nellie lived alone or was a boarder in someone else's apartment. She never had any spouse or children in the household with her, so far as I could see. She consistently said she was single. 

Yet when Nellie died late in 1950, she was supposedly widowed, according to her brother, the informant for her death cert. Who was telling the truth, Nellie or her brother? Looking forward to seeing how her marital status was recorded in the 1950 Census.

Monday, November 15, 2021

1950 US Census: "Errors in Age Statistics"

Before the 1950 US Census is released on April 1, 2022, I'm doing background reading to understand what the population schedule will tell me about my ancestors.

I recommend looking at the state-by-state results published by the US Census Bureau in 1954 and available for free at HathiTrust. Browse the list until you see the state(s) where your ancestors lived. Many of my ancestors lived in New York, so I've been clicking my way through that statewide report of 1950 Census results.

No matter which state report you read, you'll see the same introductory information that will add context to the 1950 Census results. 

Look at reported age, for instance, which we know isn't always accurate on Census forms. Women, in particular, might fudge age downward. In fact, both my grandmas were sensitive about being a year older than their husbands, and lied to enumerators in more than one Census. But there were other reasons for age errors, as well.

The Census Bureau knew about age errors 

As shown in the introduction excerpt above, the Census Bureau was well aware of "errors in age statistics." Young children tended to be undercounted, a situation that was partially fixed by the use of Infant Cards written out by enumerators for kids born in Jan-Feb-March of 1950. Sadly, these info-rich cards were not retained and we won't have access to that valuable data.

In addition, errors were noted among older age groups. The Census Bureau said there were fewer than expected people enumerated in the 55-64 age group, but more than expected enumerated in the 65+ age group. 

Suddenly so many seniors?

Coincidence? Maybe, but my guess is this had to do with post-war retirements and people wanting to collect Social Security at age 65. With an eye toward eligibility, I suspect lots of folks were suddenly willing to admit to a government agency that they were 65 or older. 

This was an actual problem for my hubby's maternal grandpa, Brice Larimer McClure (1878-1970) He told employers he was younger than he really was so he could work all during World War II. 

Once the war was over, however, Brice was already over 65. At that point, he had difficulty straightening out his age documentation so he could collect Social Security payments. He eventually did manage to collect, and I'm looking forward to seeing what he said about his age on the 1950 US Census!

For more background about preparing for the release of the 1950 US Census, please see my summary page here.

Saturday, November 13, 2021

Where Are Your Family's Artifacts?


If, like me, you've donated some of your family's photos, documents, or other artifacts to a museum, a library, or another institution, be sure your relatives (and your heirs) know the details! 

Not all items must remain in my genealogy collection. When the family has no sentimental attachment to an item, and the item is not vital to my genealogical knowledge, my goal is to keep these artifacts safe in institutions where they can be preserved and made available to future researchers.

In the past six years, my husband and I have happily donated nonpersonal items of historical interest (such as theater programs, photographs, WWII memorabilia, specialized magazines, and more) to libraries, archives, historical societies, museums, and other repositories, after asking permission to make these donations. You can read my blog post about the step-by-step process of donating a family artifact and learn more in my newly-updated book, Planning a Future for Your Family's Past.

As shown at top, my genealogy files include a separate folder called "artifact donations" containing all the deeds of gift and notes about what has been donated, when, and where. A deed of gift (or contract of gift) is the legal document used to transfer ownership of a donated item from myself to an institution. 

Now my heirs will be able to see which institution owns each donated artifact. 

Thursday, November 11, 2021

Remembering WWI Veterans Julius and Peter Farkas

For Veterans Day 2021, I want to honor the World War I service of two great uncles: Julius Farkas (1892-1969) and Peter Farkas (1894-1961). They were among the 11 children born to my maternal great-grandparents, Moritz Farkas and Leni Kunstler Farkas, ancestors who left Hungary for America at the turn of the 20th century.

Because neither Julius nor Peter married, and they had no direct descendants, writing about them helps keep their memories alive for the future. That's why I'm working on bite-sized bios to post on various genealogy websites. But I'm always open to additional ways of memorializing ancestors. 

The "bachelor brothers" were laid to rest in Mount Hebron Cemetery in Queens, New York. Turns out, this cemetery welcomes the submission of information about the military service of those who are buried there. I sent service details for both of these great uncles last year.

Now when someone searches that cemetery's database for Peter or Julius, they will see a special veteran line on the interment page. As shown above, the cemetery added a flag, the designation "Veteran," plus their years of service and the war in which they served.

I'm privileged to honor Peter, Julius, and the many other veterans in my family tree who served in the military over the years. Thank you sincerely for your service to country! 

PS: I posted their bite-sized bios on Fold3, Find a Grave, and the Wikitree site.

Tuesday, November 9, 2021

Public and Private Ancestor Bios

Do you find it more challenging to write a public biography of ancestors you knew--especially those closest to you? I do.

I want key ancestors' bios to be available to distant relatives and future researchers in some form, whether posted on Find a Grave, Family Search, MyHeritage, WikiTree, or other sites where they can be found today and tomorrow. 

But I do make a distinction between public and private bios.

Writing it all down for family

Over the past decade, I've created family histories intended just for family, not for public eyes. 

Whether lengthy or brief, these family history documents include personal photos and candid comments that might not necessarily be appropriate for the wider world. In a private bio, I can reveal unflattering quirks and other dimensions of an ancestor's life known only to the family at this point. 

Secrets aren't necessarily in these private bios, but they're in my genealogy files to be inherited by the next generation and therefore will not be lost to the family.

Private bios can be as long or short as I wish, and include minute details that would bore non-relatives. Only relatives are likely to care that my Dad (Harold D. Burk, 1909-1978) baked apple pies from scratch every autumn, trying for a perfectly golden brown, sky-high crust. 

I've blogged about these kinds of details because they're of interest to me and my generation, but I haven't included them in the bite-sized bio of Dad publicly posted on FindaGrave and other sites (see image above).

Public bios in brief

With a public bite-sized bio, my aim is to focus readers on the essence of who each ancestor was, in a few paragraphs rather than a few pages. For Dad's public bite-sized bio, I went a bit beyond the bare basics: "Growing up, his ambition was to be a travel agent..." is how I described his life goal--which he achieved.

In the final paragraph, I wrote about his disappointment at having to close his business, saying: "He reluctantly retired..." My entrepreneurial father would have kept his travel agency open if the building where it was housed had not been torn down. 

Currently, I'm drafting a bite-sized bio of my father-in-law, Edgar James Wood (1903-1986), a good family man, a career insurance adjustor, and a professional musician. Not to mention his travel adventures!

Keeping the public bio brief yet adding personality is a real challenge, both because I knew him and because his life was full of interesting twists and turns. Earlier family history booklets went into great detail--now I want to focus his bio for public eyes.

Saturday, November 6, 2021

Prepping for the 1950 US Census: NARA ED Maps

I've been researching the street addresses and Enumeration Districts of dozens of ancestors, with the goal of being able to browse for these folks when the 1950 US Census pages are released (unindexed) on April 1. Most of these ancestors lived in urban areas, although a few were in rural areas.

Unified Census ED Finder doesn't cover every street in every town

Researching ancestors in rural Upper Sandusky, Wyandot County, Ohio, I was unable to find the town in Steve Morse and Joel Weintraub's Unified Census ED Finder tool. This is the easy-to-use tool I normally use to transform a street address into an Enumeration District. 

As shown in image at top, Wyandot is one of the few counties where the Steve Morse/Joel Weintraub tool has no provision for town or street address input. See FAQs 302 and 403 for an explanation.**

Because I do have a street address, I've learned to use National Archives's Enumeration District maps to locate the appropriate ED.

NARA Enumeration District maps to the rescue

To reach the ED maps via Steve Morse's site, click on the link titled "Viewing ED Maps in One Step." It's at the very bottom of the page (see brown arrow). Or click to reach that link here

At the Steve Morse link, once you enter the state, county, and town, you'll be taken to a page like the following:

Now you can choose the NARA viewer OR go directly to the images on the NARA server. Both work, just read the advantages and disadvantages to see which you prefer. 

Here is the small version of the NARA map for Upper Sandusky, Wyandot County, OH. I clicked to enlarge the map and looked around each ED until I located the ancestor's street address on West Bigelow.

As a result, I discovered my husband's great aunt Etta Blanche Steiner Rhuark's residence in ED 88-27. Next April, I'll be browsing pages of that ED to find her.

Let me call attention to Beth Finch McCarthy's excellent graphic about preparing to browse the 1950 US Census, including the use of NARA maps.


**Joel Weintraub explains: The National Archives has stated that urban areas of 5 or more EDs should have online 1950 ED maps, although I've seen such maps with less than that. Our One-Step criteria for street indexes are the location should have 5 or more EDs and also have 5,000 or more people. Upper Sandusky according to my information had 4,397 people in 1950 so I didn't include it on my list of areas to be done. We still have a database for searching ED definitions. In your case.... go to the Unified Tool, pick Ohio, pick from the city list "Other (specify)" which opens a box where you can type Upper Sandusky. You should then see 7 EDs with that name on the their ED transcribed description... on the lower left. Click on "more details" and you should see the ED transcribed definitions for each of the seven which also may help determine the exact ED wanted.

Thursday, November 4, 2021

Honor Roll Project: Veterans' Memorial in Middlebury, CT

For Heather Wilkinson Rojo's wonderful Honor Roll Project, I visited Middlebury, Connecticut, where a lovely plaque embedded on a boulder honors veterans from pre-Revolutionary War days up to World War I. 

The boulder bearing the plaque is located at the right of steps leading to  Middlebury's stately Town Hall. 

With pride, the Middlebury historic marker below notes: "During the Revolutionary War, French General Rochambeau and his troops established a camp in the Breakneck Hill section on their march to the final campaign at Yorktown, Virginia."

I've transcribed the names of the men and women honored on this memorial plaque, one war at a time, as shown on the plaque.

If any descendants of these veterans conduct an online search, I hope they find the names and realize their ancestors' service to country has not been forgotten.

For Veteran's Day 2021, I'm doing my part to keep alive the memory of these brave men and women from Middlebury, Connecticut, who served in the military. 

Middlebury Honors Those Who Have Served in the Wars of Their Country

French - Indian War

Abner Munson

Revolutionary War

David Abbott, Benjamin Bemont, Aaron Benedict, Enos Benham, Samuel Benham, Edward Blackman, Michael Bowers, Asahel Bronson, Elijah Bronson, Isaac Bronson, Andrew Clark, Daniel Clark, Benjamin Fenn, Samuel Fenn, Israel Frisbie, Stephen Hawley, Reuben Hickox, Timothy Higgins, Benjamin Hine, Justus Johnson, Simeon Manvil, Augustus Peck, Gideon Platt, James Porter, Ebenezer Richardson, Jonathan Sanford, Ebenezer Smith, John Thompson, Aaron Tuttle, Ezekiel Tuttle

War of 1812

Lewis Booth, Eldad Bradley, Jonathan Bradley, Noyes Bradley, Elijah Bronson, Isaac Bronson, Daniel Clark, Asa Fenn, Loammi Fenn, Philo Hamblin, Levit Hawley, Benjamin Hine, Isaac Hodge, Mark W. Mazugan, Abner Munson, Miles Newton Jr., Isaac Nichols, Samuel Porter, Ranson Saxton, Harry Smith, William H. Smith, Mark Stone, Eli Thompson, John Thompson, Peter Van Bogert, Peter Vandereagast

Mexican War

Ranson L. Gaylord

Civil War

Robert J. Abbott, George Anderson, George W. Baldwin, Philetus M. Barnum, James W. Benham, Eli B. Blackman, Maro P. Blackman, Henry Blakeslee, Charles Bradley, James M. Bradley, Eli Bronson, George H. Crook, Adrian Dehm, Church R. Fox, Michael Genter, Guernsey Johnson, Thomas Kenney, Charles King, George S. Manville, John Meier, George B. Meramble, Michael G. Miller, Charles Moshier, Jacob Prime, Emery J. Roswell, John Smith, Asa W. Stone, Charles E. Stone, Edward L. Welton

Mexican - Border War

Arthur M. Foote

World War (World War I)

Stanley Andrews, Walter Beebe, Allan J. Benson, Bernhardt Benson, Edwin H. Benson, Henry J. Benson, Lester J. Benson, Burton F. Bird, Vincent Botta, William Budieser, Antonio Calabrese, Raymond Caligan, Mary J. Campbell, Robert M. Campbell, Rodger W. Cooke, Edward Cronley, Francis Cronley, Cyril Davis, John Delaney, Thomas Dowling, Joseph Feist, Arthur M. Foote, Asahel Gibson, Arthur C. Hallgren, Gustave E. Hallgren, Edmund Janes, Wilfred Jordan, Harvey S. Judd, John Kawickas, George Muller, Clarence A. Nichols, Earl H. Nodine, Alfred Perro, Ellis F. Phelan, Fred H. Robertson, Edwin J. Robin, Emanuel J. Robin, Morris L. Robin, Melville Skiff, Horatio N. Smith, Lyman E. Smith, Frederick W. Speaker, Raymond Stauffer, Royal J. Steele, Raymond F. Tyler, Ralph Vincent, Willis T. Vincent, Frank Wassabach, George Webster, Leon Williams

Note: The memorial plaque from Middlebury, CT, is also listed in the Historical Marker Project.


This post is also part of the November, 2021 Genealogy Blog Party.

Wednesday, November 3, 2021

Where the Bodies Are Buried, at a Glance


A key aspect of planning a future for my family's past is to be sure relatives know where the bodies are buried. Literally.

Ancestors memorialized on Find a Grave

Over the years, I've been creating and/or improving memorials on FindaGrave for ancestors who are gone but not forgotten. The site is free and easy to access.

Also, I began gathering memorial pages into a virtual cemetery for each line (or intermarried families) on my family tree and my hubby's family tree.

It's quick and not complicated to create a virtual cemetery. FindaGrave has instructions here.

Then, with a virtual cemetery, I can (1) post a link to that page within my online trees, (2) include a link to that page with bite-sized bios I write and distribute or post, and (3) send relatives a link to that page so they can see which ancestors are buried where.

Virtual cemetery tour

A virtual cemetery also shows some key info at a glance.

The image at top is part of a virtual cemetery I created for my husband's intermarried Wood and Slatter families (that's the catchy title of this virtual cemetery).

Each memorial page in the virtual cemetery includes the ancestor's name, dates, and cemetery details.*

For convenience, I sort my virtual cemeteries by surname, alphabetically. But the memorials in a virtual cemetery are also sortable by how recently each was added and by cemetery. 

If any photo is on the memorial, a thumbnail of the main photo appears in this virtual cemetery listing.

Look closely and see, in grey, the FindaGrave memorial ID number. If I want to correspond with another user or with FindaGrave about a particular memorial, I can refer to that ID number.

Another handy feature: A small blue dot indicates whether I'm the manager of a particular memorial. In the image at top, I don't manage the memorial for Adelaide Mary Slatter Baker but I do manage the memorial for Jane Ann Wood Black.

*Remember, this is only the info that has been entered into FindaGrave. If it's incorrect or incomplete, you can submit edits or--if you manage that memorial--you can make the changes yourself. Don't forget to link ancestors to their spouses, children, and parents!

Try a virtual cemetery

FindaGrave is available all over the world, both for adding memorials and for improving memorials with bite-sized biographies, Census data, grave and personal photos, family links, and more. 

Do consider creating a virtual cemetery to organize the final resting places of ancestors, so future generations will know where the bodies are buried.

Monday, November 1, 2021

For Context of 1950 US Census, See Documents at HathiTrust

The release of the 1950 US Census is only 151 days away! 

On April 1, 2022, we will be able to browse the population schedule of the US Census that was taken on April 1, 1950. No indexing will be available on day 1, but we can click our way through 7.8 million pages of handwritten Census data about U.S. households, arranged by Enumeration District.

Preparing for the Census release means (1) listing ancestors we want to find, (2) locating a residential address for each ancestor, and (3) turning the address into an Enumeration District using the powerful Unified Census ED Finder tool from Steve Morse and Joel Weintraub. I describe the three-step process here.

In addition, so we can put our ancestors into context, it's a good idea to read some of the publications summarizing the background and results of the 1950 Census. 

HathiTrust has carefully curated a collection of nearly 200 documents related to the 1950 US Census. Take a look

Saturday, October 30, 2021

Wood Family Halloween Postcards


Halloween is one of the many holidays when the Wood family sent greeting post cards to young relatives during the early 1900s.

These two colorful cards were sent to my hubby's uncle, Wallis W. Wood, in Cleveland, Ohio. The lad was in grammar school at the time and likely couldn't read the greetings handwritten in cursive.

The senders were his paternal aunt Nellie (Rachel Ellen) Wood Kirby and uncle Art Kirby, who lived in Toledo, Ohio. Nellie was the attentive older sister of Wallis's father, James Edgar Wood. 

The handwritten greetings on these cards were usually brief and affectionate.

Wally received colorful cards throughout the year, not just on Christmas, Easter, and New Year's, not just on Halloween and his birthday, but also for Abraham Lincoln's birthday and George Washington's birthday! And in between.

As Family History Month winds down, I wish you all many genealogical treats and no genealogical tricks this Halloween.

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

On the Track of the First Train

During Family History Month, I'm trying to track down answers to some questions that have on my "to do" list for some time. 

One question is the origin of the given name "Train," which appears several times in my husband's McClure line. 

Previously, I concluded that Train Caldwell McClure was named for his uncle by marriage, Train Caldwell (1810-1887) who was the husband of Mary McClure (1810-1869). 

Who was the first Train?

However, he wasn't the first in the Caldwell line to bear the Train name. 

  • Train Caldwell, husband of Mary, was the son of James Caldwell (1787-1819), an Ohio Fever ancestor.
  • This James Caldwell had a brother named Train Caldwell, and a brother named Manlove Caldwell, among other siblings. 
  • The father of James, Train, and Manlove was James Caldwell (1748-1830). When this James's will was submitted for probate (see handwritten will at top), he named his sons and daughters individually. Thank goodness! 
  • A different will and a few family trees suggest that in the 1700s in this direct line, one of the Caldwell men married Mary Train (or Trane). That appears to be the first appearance of the Train/Trane name in the entire family.

Who was the first Manlove?

Research shows the Caldwell family sometimes used an in-law's surname or a mother's maiden name in a succeeding generation, as a show of respect or affection. Train is only one example. 

In the Caldwell family tree, Mary Caldwell (daughter of Joseph Caldwell) married George Manlove in Preble county, Ohio (the same jurisdiction where James Caldwell's will was probated) in 1811. Mary and George are both named as early settlers in a 1917 History of Fayette County, Indiana, where they moved from Ohio.  

Earlier, this Manlove family lived in Guilford, North Carolina as the Caldwell family did. Some of the Caldwells moved to Ohio, some went on to Indiana, in same area as the Manloves. 

Even earlier, some in the Manlove family lived in Kent, Delaware, where James Caldwell was born (the James who died in 1830, whose will is shown at top).

On the right track?

Looks lilke I'm on the right track, following how intermarriages and multigenerational associations resulted in both Train and Manlove becoming given names in the Caldwell family.

However, Train Caldwell McClure did not continue the naming tradition into the next McClure generation or later. Manlove Caldwell, who was mentioned in his father James's will above, doesn't seem to have named a child after himself, either.