Monday, March 29, 2021

Honoring Ancestors on Ellis Island

My great-grandparents, Moritz Farkas and Leni Kunstler Farkas, came to America from Hungary at the turn of the 20th century. Both entered through Ellis Island. 

All four of my grandparents were immigrants. Three came through Ellis Island and one sailed from England to Canada and then crossed into the United States. All made the difficult decision to leave everything they knew and forge a new life in a land they'd never seen.

A Memorable Visit to See Ancestral Name

Nearly 25 years ago, Sis and I joined several cousins on a visit to Ellis Island. We knew that one of our cousins had donated to have "The Moritz Farkas Family" inscribed on an early part of the Wall of Honor erected at Ellis Island, as a monument to immigrants.

It was emotional to see the family name on the wall and think about these ancestors' hopes, dreams, and realities. It felt wonderful knowing these ancestors were memorialized in a place so important to the arc of their lives (and ours). And that we could visit this memorial, which will stand for many years!

Ellis Island Wall of Honor

Late in 2019, Sis and I decided to honor our four immigrant grandparents by donating to have their names inscribed on the Wall of Honor. We memorialized the married couple of Theodore and Hermina Farkas Schwartz (as shown above) and the married couple of Isaac and Henrietta Mahler Burk

Their names were added to the wall last year! Although we haven't yet had an opportunity to visit Ellis Island, a website search of the Wall of Honor shows who they are, where they came from, and who made the donation.

We are delighted to have this tangible, enduring memorial to the courage and determination of our immigrant ancestors, the journey-takers who made our lives possible. 

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Family Stories of Loss in Printed Genealogy Book


My husband's family tree, like all family trees, includes many stories of happiness and heartache, luck and loss. We are fortunate that a descendant of his LARIMER patriarch recorded lots of these stories in a printed (now digitized) genealogy bookLarimer Family, 1740-1959. 

The author, John C. Work, and his father, Aaron C. Work, were (like my husband) descended from Robert Larimer, born in the North of Ireland and shipwrecked en route to America about 1740. Father and son contacted dozens of descendants over the years, and then wrote down what they were told, in as much detail as was available at the time.

Let me share just a few snippets of family loss recorded in this Larimer genealogy book, with the intent of keeping alive the memory of these long-ago ancestors:

Loss at an early age

Lucy E. Short died in 1858 before the age of 2. Her brother, Frank B. Short, died at age 32. William Larimer died in 1849 of cholera, age 30. His brother Isaac died of consumption in 1858. Jennie Landon Short died of heart disease, age 36, leaving a son. Eleanor Larimer Haglind died at age 37, leaving three young children. Many other infant deaths were recorded, most by name but some, sadly, were noted only as "child died in infancy."

Loss due to accident

Harvey J. Larimer died when he was hit by a board kiln. James Larimer died when he hit his head on frozen ground after being thrown from his horse. Amos Larimer and his family built a boat to sail from California to Oregon in the 1870s, but they never arrived and were never heard from again. Frank A. Evans lost his life in a streetcar accident, circa 1927. William Poyser died after being struck by a falling tree. John Larimer died after being infected by a deer bone splinter in 1843. 

--

This is my "loss" post for Amy Johnson Crow's #52Ancestors challenge.

Monday, March 22, 2021

New England Regional Genealogy Conference, April 1 - May 31

Coming soon: the all-virtual New England Regional Genealogy Conference, which combines both live and on demand (prerecorded) presentations for family historians of all levels. 

If you're researching ancestors from New England (or beyond), this is a great conference to learn a variety of effective strategies and techniques. Dozens of sessions will be available for viewing at any time, from home in your bunny slippers, from April 1 until May 31. No cost for travel, hotel, restaurants, just one conference fee of $150 to view these info-packed, on-demand sessions at your own pace. 

Opening day on April 1 is the first of three "gathering days" featuring top-notch presentations and live chats/Q&A with superstar speakers like Dear Myrtle. Don't miss that evening's "banquet speaker," well-known genealogy mystery author Nathan Dylan Goodwin

For special interests, the NERGC conference provides three add-on tracks: DNA, writing your family history, and a professional track about working toward genealogy certification. Each track is $30 for a full day of 4 presentations and live Q&A with speakers. (I'm debuting my "bite-sized projects" talk during the writing track on April 24.)

NERGC has even figured out a way to offer informal "table topics" discussions hosted by members of the NEAPG in a live, virtual format. The popular society fair "tables" and library/archive "tables" will also be there, virtually. Registered attendees can make an appointment for the Ancestor Road Show (help with genealogy questions and brick walls), another special feature of this conference.

Plus you can browse the exhibit hall or have a "virtual drop in" visit with companies that sell all kinds of genealogy-related products. 

I'll miss seeing my genealogy buddies in person, but this virtual conference is the next best thing. Hope to see you in April and May!

Friday, March 19, 2021

Paying to Check Out Clues Takes Me Back A Generation

Over the years, I've gotten some intriguing clues from researchers who are investigating people in my ancestors' FAN club (friends, associates, and neighbors). Of course, sometimes it pays to actually pay for documents if I want to go beyond the clue stage.

FAN club: sailing to America together

This week, I heard from a lovely researcher whose female ancestor sailed across the Atlantic with a distant Farkas female ancestor of mine in 1914. They not only were listed one after another on the manifest, their U.S. destination was the same: they were going to Herman Weiss in New York City. Herman's wife, Ida Farkas Weiss, was my 1c3r, I knew from previous documented research. 

In further investigating the FAN club connection (Farkas-Weiss-Schwartz and more), this researcher found interesting clues in transcriptions on the Sub-Carpathia Genealogy website, devoted to Jewish genealogy in the region shown on the map above. Her finds put the site at the top of my research priorities for learning more about my Schwartz family from Ungvar, Hungary (now Uzhhorod, Ukraine).

Revisit old sources and be willing to pay

In the past, I have searched the Sub-Carpathia site, but not for several years. I should have revisited before this. Many more records have been transcribed and posted. Yesterday and today I spent hours searching the site, jam-packed with birth/marriage/death documents, gravestone photos/transcriptions, and other useful resources for researching Jewish ancestors! It includes extremely helpful and detailed suggestions for exactly how to search and what spelling variations may be found in the records from this region. 

Full original scans are available for a modest fee, and the info was so compelling that I opened my wallet to see the originals. Actually, I've already spent a small fortune buying excellent scans of various documents that mention my Schwartz family and intermarried ancestors. It's an investment that has truly paid off.

To my amazement and joy, the site has taken me a full generation back on the Schwartz side in Ungvar, and maybe even another generation back before that. 

Keep traditions in mind

The Ashkenazi Jewish tradition is to name babies after relatives who are deceased, not after the living. Also, the tradition is to inscribe the gravestone of someone who has died with "son [or daughter] of ___[insert father's first name]___". Knowing the father's name, from the gravestone, takes the line one more generation back.

I was thrilled when I found the gravestone photo of my paternal great-grandmother Hani Simonowitz Schwartz, who died on April 25, 1933 (documented date and name, awaiting death record itself). The inscription says she was the daughter of Nisen. So one of my great-great-grandfathers was Nisen Simonowitz! -- CORRECTION: Stone doesn't match original death record I received after writing this. SO according to written death record, great-great-grandpa's name was Shmuel Simonowitz. 

Another gasp when I saw the gravestone of my paternal great-grandfather Herman (Yehuda) Schwartz, who died on January 21, 1921 (documented date and details, confirmed by written original record). The inscription says he was the son of Moshe. This means I've found another one of my great-great-grandfathers, Moshe Schwartz

But wait, there's more: I visited JewishGen.org for more research. In the same area of the Ungvar cemetery, according to the JewishGen Online Worldwide Burial Registry, is a Moshe Schvarcz, who died in August of 1880. According to the transcription (no photo), Moshe's father's name is Yehuda Schvarcz. 

Combine personal knowledge with new info

In my Schwartz family, the naming pattern looks like this, based on the new info and what I know from relatives:

  • Yehuda in the early 1800s had a son named Moshe
  • Moshe in the mid-1800s had a son named Yehuda
  • Yehuda in the late 1800s had a son named Tivador (my grandfather--he had brothers, but I don't know all their names yet--not found a Yehuda at this point)
  • Tivador in the early 1900s had a son named Yehuda
  • Yehuda in mid-1900s had a son whose middle name is Moshe. 

All of which supports (but doesn't quite prove) my theory that Yehuda Schvarcz is likely my 3d great-grandfather. Further research is in my future, and I'll open my wallet if needed.

--

"Fortune" is the theme for this week's #52Ancestors challenge. Despite spending a small fortune on these ancestors who lived and died many generations ago, I consider it a worthwhile investment!

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Remembering Hubby's Emerald Isle Ancestors

Happy St. Patrick's Day! My wonderful husband has a number of ancestors born on the Emerald Isle. And of course I've been keeping their memory alive by reminding descendants every year on March 17th. Let me introduce you to:

  • William Smith and his wife, Jean, both immigrants from Limerick, were hubby's 5th great-grandparents. Their son Brice Smith (1756-1828) was an “Ohio fever” pioneer, leaving his birthplace in Pennsylvania to settle the forested frontier of Ohio.
  • Robert Larimer and his wife, Mary O’Gallagher, both from the North of Ireland, were hubby's 5th great-grandparents. Robert was shipwrecked sailing to America, worked off the cost of his rescue, ran away, married Mary, and farmed in Pennsylvania until they died about 1803. Their descendants were pioneers in Ohio and Indiana.
  • John Shehen and his wife, Mary, from somewhere in Ireland, were hubby's 2d great-grandparents. They were born early in the 1800s in Ireland but had moved to London by the 1830s. Their daughter Mary Shehen married John Slatter in London in 1859. Her youngest daughter (Mary Slatter, 1869-1925) left London for Ohio, married James Edgar Wood and was a loving mother until her unexpected death from heart problems.
  • Halbert McClure and his wife, Agnes, were born in County Donegal, Ireland, although the McClure family is originally from Isle of Skye. They were hubby's 5th great-grandparents. In the 1740s, this family sailed as a group to Philadelphia, walked to Virginia, and bought farmland. Their descendants became early pioneers in Indiana and other states.
Erin Go Bragh!

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Genealogy Clues on Find a Grave


Find a Grave can be a very rich source of genealogy clues! I'm continuing my project of posting brief bios of ancestors online, to keep their memories alive. (This is a way to repurpose content from bite-sized family history projects, my talk for the New England Regional Genealogy Conference in April!)

Having written a few paragraphs about Arthur Albert Slatter (1887-1917), my husband's 1c1r who, sadly, was killed in action during WWI, I set out to repurpose it on multiple websites, including Find My Past, Fold3, Family Search, and Find a Grave.

Linked family members = clues

I've visited cousin Arthur's Find a Grave memorial page in the past. The page was originally created by a group focused on war graves, with photos of the Arras Memorial by another dedicated volunteer. 

To post a bio on a memorial I don't manage, I use the "suggest edits" function, and type (or paste) in a few sentences or even a few paragraphs. If I manage the memorial, it's easy to post the bio with a click.

In the process, I also look at any linked family members related to the person on the memorial page. Here, checking the links to Arthur Albert Slatter, I recognized the name and photo of his father (Henry Arthur Slatter, 1866-1942). I posted Henry's photo myself a while back. 

See image of Arthur's memorial page at top, where I've circled Arthur's parents' names? Alice is shown with a maiden name. A clue for me to check out! Of course, everything is a clue until confirmed.

"Alice Good, widow" 

I had previously noted, from Henry Arthur Slatter's military records, that he married widow Alice Good in 1887 (document excerpt at right). But until now, I haven't actively looked for Alice's maiden name. 

Alice's Find a Grave memorial offered me the clue I needed to investigate further. Using Ancestry, I quickly located Alice's 1882 marriage (to Harry Thomas Good) and added not only her first husband and her maiden name but also the name of her father to my Slatter family tree.

Then I inserted Alice's maiden name into my bio of her oldest son and submitted the request to the manager of Arthur Albert Slatter's memorial page, asking that the bio be posted. It's already up on Family Search, Find My Past, and Fold3, to help future generations know something of his name, his service, and his sacrifice.

--

"Unlock the Power of Find a Grave for Genealogy" is the title of my newest virtual presentation. Links between relatives with Find a Grave memorials can be  wonderful clues to family history -- and excellent cousin bait as well! 

Thursday, March 11, 2021

The Good, the Sad, the Ugly: Genealogy Programs During the Pandemic

One year ago, officials declared COVID-19 to be a pandemic. During this week in 2020, I planned to be in the audience at two local genealogy club meetings and was scheduled to be the presenter at a third local club. The first two meetings took place before authorities announced shutdowns, but few people attended, due to growing health concerns. My presentation was postponed for a month until virtual arrangements were made. Who knew this was the start of at least 12 months of virtual genealogy learning?

By now, I've become accustomed to participating in and presenting to genealogy meetings from the comfort of my home office. Here are my thoughts on the good, the sad, and the ugly of genealogy programs during the pandemic.

The Good: Endless Opportunities for Genealogy Education

Being an early member of the Virtual Genealogical Association, the idea of watching (and presenting) webinars nothing new. But during most of 2020, it was possible to watch one or more interesting online talks nearly every day, with no time or money spent on travel. A bonanza!

Last month's global, high-profile RootsTechConnect conference was a standout. Even now, weeks after the official end, I'm still working my way through a long playlist of recorded talks by experts worldwide. Just as important, I'm downloading and saving those informative handouts, for future reference. 

All kinds of national and regional conferences switched from in-person to virtual, opening the door to additional learning experiences while sitting at home in bunny slippers. At first, I wasn't sure about paying full freight for virtual conference fees. Then I realized how much I was saving on travel, hotel, and restaurant expenses. Even better, I could attend EVERY talk, rather than having to pick and choose among concurrent sessions. This is a major benefit of virtual genealogy programs.

On a local level, libraries and genealogy clubs have added more family history talks to their schedules and welcome participants from everywhere. Most of these programs have been free and others cost only a few dollars--a bargain, and very convenient, too.

The Sad: Limited Networking Opportunities

What I miss the most: special interest group breakfasts, fun lunches and dinners with pals from genealogy and blogging, and chats with those seated nearby during genealogy talks. So many fascinating conversations, sometimes family-tree discoveries, but most of all, I miss getting to know people in person. It's sad not to do be able to do this as we did in the past.

Some genealogy groups have addressed this by providing social time before and after a virtual presentation, or with breakout rooms, or with chat discussions. All are fun, and allow for interaction beyond being in the audience. Still, I am really looking forward to seeing genealogy folks in person again.

And of course I'm looking forward to doing research in person, visiting libraries or historical societies or archives or courthouses in search of genealogical info. Clicking for resources works well but not everything is online.

The Ugly: Learn Those Video and Mic Controls, Please!

The ugliest moments of genealogy programs during the pandemic have been, in my view, when technology won't work and audience members fumble with technology.

Late in February, an Internet outage hit while I was recording my presentation for the 2021 all-virtual New England Regional Genealogy Conference. I was 30 minutes into a 45-minute talk. Even though I could do nothing about the outage, I felt bad wasting the time of the lovely folks recording the talk and lovely folks in the audience. 

While nobody can control ugly technology problems like outages, audience members can get to know tech better and avoid disrupting the program. You've heard dogs barking and phones ringing in the background when you're in a virtual meeting? Or seen people doing personal grooming (or pet grooming) on the screen during a speaker's talk? Maybe you've noticed an audience member fumbling around, muttering out loud, while trying to figure out the controls even as the speaker tries to continue with the presentation? 

Please be a good audience member and learn those controls in advance. Don't just rely on the program host to mute everyone or make the request to mute. During a virtual presentation, kindly turn off your own video and mic to avoid distractions. It saves bandwidth and it's a much-appreciated courtesy to other attendees and to the speaker. On behalf of virtual attendees everywhere, I thank you!

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Bite-sized Project: A Special Place in Family History











I enjoy bite-sized family history projects because I can research and produce them in a short time--and younger relatives (my audience) clearly like the short takes more than the lengthier projects. 

The key is limiting the focus, rather than trying to create a massive project about the entire family tree. Typically, I focus on one ancestor, one couple, one surname/family, or one special photo/occasion/heirloom. But there are other ways to limit the focus for a bite-sized project.

Focus on one special place

When I recorded my new talk about bite-sized projects for the NERGC 2021 Conference* last week, Carolyn (one of the wonderful audience members) asked about focusing on an ancestral hometown. I told her I love that idea and I'm stealing it! Um, I mean adapting it ;) Another genealogy buddy calls this a #Genealogy travelogue!

A bite-sized project about a special place in family history could be about:

  • where an ancestor was born, lived, married, or died
  • where an ancestor operated a business or traveled on business
  • where an ancestor worshipped
  • where an ancestor vacationed or visited
  • where something of importance (good or bad) took place that affected an ancestor's life
A paragraph or two to place my ancestor in context

An example is a bite-sized page I want to write about Uzhhorod, Ukraine. Before the Soviet era, this bustling market center was known as Ungvar, Hungary. It was the home town of my maternal grandfather, Theodore Schwartz (1887-1965).

I've done a bit of research into Ungvar's past, when he was a boy and after he left but family remained behind. Also I have a key Census (including street and house number) from when borders were redrawn and the city was part of Czechoslovakia--a Census that includes five Schwartz family members! I have almost enough content for a couple of paragraphs (or a brief video) that will put my grandpa's home town into context, as an element of family history.

For visual interest, I can include a map like the one at top, from a Creative Commons source. No copyright issues as long as I include attribution (https://mapcarta.com/Uzhhorod). I know how images can catch the eye of the audience. 

*I'll be demonstrating the process in detail during my upcoming talk, "Bring Family History Alive in Bite-Sized Projects," at the all-virtual New England Regional Genealogical Conference in April.

Monday, March 8, 2021

Enhancing, Colorizing, Animating Tillie and Leni for International Women's Day

Today is #InternationalWomensDay, a good day to honor the memories of two immigrant ancestors in my family tree by focusing on bringing their faces to life using My Heritage's amazing photo/animation tools.

Possibly I'm one of the last genealogy fans on the planet to finally try My Heritage's "Deep Nostalgia" animation tool. I also enhanced and colorized their photos with My Heritage's wonderful photo tools. 

Great-Grandma Tillie Rose Jacobs Mahler (1852?-1952)

Tillie was my father's Lithuanian-born grandmother, who came to New York City in 1886. She was widowed in her late 50s, with 7 of her 10 children still living after the death of her husband Meyer Elias Mahler (1861-1910). Tillie made her home with one or more of her grown children after being widowed, and died at the age of either 99 or 100 (no one was ever quite sure).

Above is her picture. I used My Heritage's automated tools to enhance (sharpening facial features) and colorize (more lifelike, although I don't know how accurate the result actually is). 

Great-Grandma Leni Kunstler Farkas (1865-1938)

Leni was my mother's Hungarian-born grandmother who came to New York City in 1900, a year after her husband. Soon afterward, they sent for their children to join them and all were settled in New York by 1903. Leni, who ruled the household finances with a firm hand, outlived her husband Moritz Farkas (1857-1936) by only two years. 

The enhancement and colorization brings Leni's face to life for me and other descendants who never had the opportunity to meet our great-grandma.

Saturday, March 6, 2021

Clues in Genealogy Book Lead to Another Civil War Veteran


My husband's family tree has multiple generations of men named Isaac Larimer. Untangling who's who has taken many hours of research. But thanks to the printed genealogy book Larimer Family, 1740-1959, by John Clarence Work (now available digitally, free, through Family Search), I picked up enough clues to identify one as yet another Civil War veteran in hubby's family!

Few sources, missing information

Above is an excerpt from page 30 of the Larimer genealogy, where the top name is ISAAC LARIMER (my husband's 1c4r). No sources on this page, and missing information such as birth/death dates; the first name of the wife of Isaac Larimer; the first name of the wife of John Larimer; and the first name of the wife of Jacob Wright Larimer. 

Other pages list as sources specific relatives (living at the time of publication) who provided information, and church letters showing who was born where/when and the movement of Larimer families as they moved westward. But of course the author didn't have the benefit of digitized, transcribed, indexed data available with a click or two.

Starting point for research

When I saw that this particular Isaac Larimer was "wounded in the Civil War," according to the book, I jumped him to the top of my research list. My priority was discovering more about his military service. But first, I had to be sure I was focusing on the correct Isaac Larimer.

Using Ancestry, I entered Isaac's spouse's maiden name and quickly discovered an Isaac Larimer who married Marilda McCreary (not McCrory, as in the genealogy) in 1852. The place/date fits, and matches other details from the printed genealogy--including the fact that another McCreary was married into the Larimer family, which I easily verified. That tiny note in the book clinched it. Correct Isaac Larimer!

"Gunshot wound of face"

Next, I searched the database U.S., Civil War Soldier Records and Profiles, 1861-1865. I found an Isaac Larimer born about 1828 in Fairfield County, Ohio. (That fits with what I know of this branch of the Larimer line, from the printed genealogy and other sources.) A farmer, he enlisted at the age of 33 and was mustered into Company K of the 35th Illinois Infantry on August 28, 1861. Just over a year later, he was promoted to sergeant. 

Isaac was mustered out of the infantry on September 27, 1864, after a "gunshot wound of face." I wasn't surprised to see that he filed for an invalid pension on October 8, 1864 (see index card at right).

Later life

As the Larimer printed genealogy indicates, my research confirms Isaac Larimer did return home, and later moved to Southern Illinois, where I found him in the 1870 and 1880 census records. 

Although the author of the printed genealogy found no further records, the trail continues for today's researchers. I soon found Isaac as a homesteader in Missouri. Later, he was enumerated in Webster county, Missouri, as part of the 1890 Veteran's Schedule, where he was noted to be "now blind in rite eye" (enumerator's spelling, not mine.)

Isaac's wife, Marilda, died in 1905 and he died in 1910. They are buried side by side in Redtop township, Dallas County, Missouri. Once I write a bite-sized bio of cousin Isaac Larimer (1828-1910), I'll include it in my booklet of Wood family Civil War ancestors. I'll also post it as a memorial on Fold3, FamilySearch, and other sites to share more widely.

"Multiples" is the week 9 prompt in Amy Johnson Crow's 2021 challenge of #52Ancestors.  

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Redoing the Research for Ancestors in Printed Genealogies

My husband's Larimer ancestors intermarried with members of the Work family in years past. Fortunately for me, descendants researched and produced detailed genealogies of both the Larimer and the Work family trees. 

At left is the printed "Work Family History," which is digitized and freely available on Family Search here

What's the source?

The authors visited hometowns and cemeteries, contacting a multitude of relatives and institutions in person and by mail. Some sources are shown in the book, including transcribed letters from churches. Other sources are noted as "in possession of" a family member.

The authors were meticulous in noting where proof was scarce or nonexistent, using phrases such as: "family tradition" and "it is said that" (repeating stories passed down through the generations), "nothing definite could be learned" (no proof to confirm), "there is a probability that" (a good hypothesis but not proven), and "the date is not known exactly" (no specific date, just a month and year).

Still, in the 80 years since the book was printed, additional records have become available that the authors may not have seen. Now, little by little, I'm redoing the research on selected ancestors who have Work and Larimer connections to my husband's family tree.

Redoing the research, understanding the context

Redoing the research also gives me an opportunity to appreciate the historical context of these ancestors' lives.

Here's what happened when I started researching the background of Samuel Work (17??-1817). The Work family history says Samuel and his wife Jean McEwen Work moved from Newark, Delaware to Mifflin County, Pennsylvania in 1792. 

I looked for and found Samuel and family in the 1800 U.S. Census, living in Union township, Mifflin County, Pennsylvania. 

Because this enumerator listed heads of household by surname alphabetically, my eyes slid below the "W" names to the bottom of the page. Then I noticed the totals for Union township. 

Census history lesson

In addition to 424 "free white males" and 362 females, the census shows "persons of colour...4" and "slaves...1" (see enlargement at bottom).

I reread the entire handwritten form to see whether Samuel Work was a slave owner. No, he was not.

Further research showed that Pennsylvania voted in 1780 to gradually abolish slavery, even though people continued to be enslaved in the state for decades afterward. 

Given that Samuel Work and his family were devout members of the Presbyterian Church, I searched for more info on that angle. The American Presbyterian community was historically against slavery but the issue caused a split in the church during the 19th century, long after Samuel Work had passed away and long after the family moved west to Indiana.

Spelling reveals the past

Another insight came from examining the spelling of the enumerator in the totals of Union township, Mifflin County, PA. He wrote "persons of colour," which indicates either he was born in England or was brought up to use British spellings. At this point in American history, dictionaries with British spelling were in common use. 

Remember, the 1800 Census was only the second one done by the still-young nation. By 1820, the column headings for the Census used American spelling for "color." 

Simply reading the Census page carefully provided much food for thought about the historical context of this distant ancestor's life in Union township, Mifflin County, Pennsylvania, circa 1800. Can't wait to see what else turns up as I continue retracing the steps of the original researchers, seeking more details and new sources.

Monday, March 1, 2021

Mom Kept Score, So I Keep Score Too

How does a tradition begin and then get passed down through a family (and beyond)?

My Mom (Daisy Schwartz Burk, 1919-1978) loved playing Scrabble. She not only taught her daughters to keep score, she kept the score cards from our family games in the Scrabble box.

Remembering Mom's tradition of putting score cards into the box, I've been doing the same. For, well, a long time. Here are some score cards from 1984, 1995, and 1998. Just a sampling of the many stuffed into game boxes over the decades. (Not always full names, usually initials because families know who's who, right?)

Who Wants Old Score Sheets?

Yesterday, after playing a card game with my wonderful Sis, I crammed the handwritten score card into the game box, along with all the other score sheets. Sis wondered whether I should keep saving these odd bits of paper with scribbled info. 

I snapped photos and texted to the younger generation to ask their opinions. It was unanimous.

Answers: (1) "Oh please keep them in the box if for no other reason that evidence of our weird childhood handwriting hahahah." (2) "There are decades of game scores to prove we got together!" (3) "Keep!!"

Sparking Memories


I was in a gals' game group for more than a decade and naturally collected the score sheets in my game boxes. While pawing through the boxes today, I came across this handwritten score from September 19, 2011. It sparked a happy memory of one of the laugh-filled nights we gals had together: A delightful adult pajama party, complete with teddy bears and favorite dolls.

"Teddy bears came along for hot cocoa" reads my note at top left of the score sheet. "No jokers, thanx" (referring to the rules we adapted for the night). And a photo of all our beloved stuffed pals sharing a chair. 

Although this game group doesn't meet any longer (due to pandemic restrictions and members moving away), seeing the score sheet brings a smile to my face--remembering the joy of special time with special friends. 

The score sheets aren't really heirlooms, but they are tangible momentoes of happy times with family and friends. I'm leaving them in the box for future generations to enjoy.