Friday, April 30, 2021

What's NOT in the Picture?

This week, my wonderful husband used Google Street View to "look" at different parts of his old neighborhood in Cleveland Heights, Ohio. We've used Street View before, mostly looking at family homes and schools. This time, he explored further from his childhood home.

He remembered a line of sturdy brick storefronts, similar to the stock photo above, within walking distance from where he grew up.

He was shocked when he saw what the area looks like today.

No stores along what used to be a busy shopping street. No drug store, no record store, no movie theater, no hair salon, no deli. 

These favorite places from his past had been completely demolished.  

Reconstructing the past

Seeing the dramatic changes to that street caused him to reach back into his memory bank and mentally reconstruct the line of stores that once stood there.

In his mind's eye, he could see the entire block and tell me exactly what was gone. He remembered funny stories from his first after-school job at the drug store. He recalled buying albums at the record store, snacking at the deli, taking dates to the movies. He even summoned up the names of friends who worked at some of these businesses. 

He told me new stories as he mentally took a nostalgic and emotional walk down memory lane, one favorite place at a time.

Trying to spark memories

I haven't been quite as surprised using "Street View" to look at old neighborhoods in my hometown of New York City, maybe because it's the city that never sleeps. 

Still, I'm going to try exploring other favorite places from my childhood to see whether the changes spark new memories that I can discuss with relatives. What's NOT in the picture might stimulate fresh thinking about the past. 


"Favorite place" is this week's #52Ancestors prompt from Amy Johnson Crow.

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

My 1950 U.S. Census Release To-Do List: "Who Was There" List

With my eye on the public release of the 1950 U.S. Census in less than a year, I'm preparing to look for ancestors I'm particularly interested in.

No indexing will be available on April 1, 2022, so the only way to find these ancestors at first will be to browse enumeration districts where they were living. The catch is, I need some idea of where each ancestor was residing in 1950. 

Generating a RootsMagic "Who Was There" List

As an experiment, I opened my RootsMagic7 genealogy software and looked for a report that might give me a head start in grouping ancestors who were (1) alive in 1950 and (2) living in a certain area.

At top is a screen shot showing me preparing to generate a list of "Who Was There" in Ohio in 1950. I set the parameters for everyone in that particular tree (my husband's Wood family). 

I could have narrowed the parameters to everyone in Cleveland, Ohio, for instance. 

In this case, the list for Ohio ran for a dozen pages. It was initially organized alphabetically by surname, showed birth and death dates, and showed in detail each person's residence and key facts. A bit too much detail, but I expect to learn how to refine the list as I gain experience.

Next, Save and Sort the List

Importantly, I was able to save this list in my choice of formats. I selected .rtf so I can open it in Word and then sort as I please, choosing to sort by any of the columns. 

Here is an excerpt of the Wood list for 1950, sorted by "place" (the final column). This gives me a starting point for seeing where each ancestor was in 1940 and then researching a more specific residential location to search in the 1950 Census. Only a starting point, because I'm also looking for more recent directories and other sources to bring me closer to the 1950 address.

About the column marked "age"--it indicates the ancestor's age in 1950, not the ancestor's age at death.

This experiment encourages me to explore more ways to use the software and learn more of its functions on the road to the 1950 Census release next year.


For more posts about prepping, please see my special page on the 1950 Census.

Friday, April 23, 2021

DNA + Trees = Powerful Cousin Bait

Name your family tree so DNA matches can get a glimpse of names and places

Fishing in many ponds, my DNA results are on Ancestry, MyHeritage, FamilyTree DNA, GedMatch, and 23 and Me. My husband's DNA results are on Ancestry, MyHeritage, FamilyTree DNA, GedMatch, and LivingDNA.

To add to the power of DNA matching, I've uploaded at least a basic family tree where trees are allowed. This enhances DNA as cousin bait, allowing matches to investigate our possible connections. 

Also, as shown above, I include surnames in the name of the tree, along with specific surnames and locations in the tree description. I want to encourage DNA matches (and researchers) to explore further and envision possible connections in different branches. 

In my view, a name like "Frank's Tree" or "Family History" doesn't convey anything about the tree or the ancestors. 

Why not take the opportunity to boost the combined power of DNA and trees by providing an informative tree name where you have that opportunity? The tree name is another genealogical clue!


"DNA" is the #52Ancestors prompt for this week, and the theme of this month's Genealogy Blog Party.

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Bite-Sized Memories of Mary Slatter Wood

This week is the 96th anniversary of the sudden death of my husband's grandmother, Mary Slatter Wood. Born in 1869 in the Whitechapel section of London, she had a really difficult childhood. She and four older siblings were in and out of workhouses while their mother was committed to an asylum and their father was absent for long periods.

Still, Mary went to school and then, as a teenager, she earned a living as a servant. In her mid-20s, she crossed the Atlantic to join her father and her older sister in Ohio. Mary married home builder James Edgar Wood (1871-1939) in 1898 and they settled in Cleveland, Ohio, where they raised four sons.

The oldest son, my late dad-in-law, remembered Mary as a gentle, affectionate influence on the family. Unfortunately, while he was away at college, Mary died of heart problems on April 24, 1925. Her unexpected death tore the heart out of the family. 

Bite-sized memories

I'm keeping Mary Slatter Wood's memory alive in a number of bite-sized projects. I wrote a few paragraphs about her life and posted them, with a photo, on,, and other sites. 

Also, I put a photo of Mary and her husband James on a page of the Wood family history coloring book created for younger relatives. The coloring book is an informal record of who's who--faces and names--in the family tree.

Making a coloring book

To create this page, I started by scanning a black-and-white family photo of the couple standing in front of a house that James built in Cleveland, Ohio, more than a century ago.

Next, I used my photo software to turn the photo into a pencil sketch image. Then I positioned it on a page and added their full names. To help the youngest generation connect with these long-ago ancestors, I included their relationship to the recipients.

Print and digital versions

I want the adults to encourage the kids to color as they wish, rather than put the coloring book away unused. That's why I provided both a printed version and a digital version. Now, the coloring book can be reprinted over and over as the children enjoy coloring these faces and places from the past, seeing ancestors as human beings with an important place in family history.

Sunday, April 18, 2021

April 1, 1950: Census Day News

As background for researching ancestors who were enumerated in the U.S. Census taken on Saturday, April 1, 1950, I'm looking at newspapers in the areas where they lived. I want to be ready when this mid-century Census is released to the public on April 1, 2022.

After looking at only a couple of newspapers, I learned two things that encouraged me to keep looking at other newspapers in the coming weeks.

  1. Some special aspects of the Census were highlighted in areas where they were of significance. This was the case for merchant ships docked in New York City (see below). I learned a few tidbits about the questionnaires for crew members and how the count was conducted.
  2. Small, local newspapers listed the names of enumerators! Maybe your ancestor was an enumerator or was mentioned as being interviewed by an enumerator?

New York City: Counting crew on merchant ships

The official start of Census Day was reported in a long front-page article in the New York Times. Top local officials were quoted, but no local enumerators were named. For broader context, I browsed ads (ladies wearing hats and gloves), real estate ads, political news, radio and TV news, and the weather report.

A related Census article printed that day told of crew members on 2,000 merchant ships worldwide completing a special Census form. Each crew member at a U.S. port was to answer 23 questions about demographics, citizenship, and income. (However, crew members whose vessels were at sea or in foreign ports answered only 9 Census questions.) 

Crew members in U.S. ports were being counted as part of the population of that location--meaning those on vessels at New York City piers would be counted as part of the Big Apple's population. 

Bucyrus, Ohio: "Shnozzle counting" and names of enumerators

"Shnozzle counting in the rain began in Bucyrus and Crawford county as some 38 Census enumerators took to the roads and streets today to check the county's approximately 35,000 population for all sorts of things."

That's the rather informal first paragraph of the front-page story in the Telegraph-Forum newspaper of Bucyrus, Ohio. Some of hubby's ancestors lived in the area.

After describing some highlights of the Census timing (see snippet at right), the article went on to list the names of all 38 enumerators! None were ancestors I'm researching, but maybe I'll be lucky in another small local newspaper.

And of course, I continued browsing that day's paper for more historical context--such as the report of local farms being larger in 1950 than in 1900, also on page one.

Over the coming weeks, I'll be browsing local newspapers for more insights into the 1950 Census and anything else I can learn about the people or areas where ancestors lived in 1950. Local newspaper reports can be informative (and entertaining) background!

Saturday, April 17, 2021

The Rinehart Brick Wall on Hubby's Tree


One big brick wall is going further back on my husband's family tree beyond great-great-grandfather Joseph Rinehart (1806-1888), who was born in Pennsylvania.

 By 1850, he is farming in Crawford County, Ohio, shown in the U.S. Census (above) with his wife Margaret Shank Rinehart (1807-1873) and their children. We know who they are--they were named by my husband's grandfather as ancestors, and the paper trail of genealogical evidence confirms this.

Looking at the household on this Census page, the final name listed is "Elizabeth Rinehart," age 76, born in PA. 

Is Elizabeth my husband's 3d great-grandma?

My working hypothesis (not a great leap) is that Elizabeth is Joseph's mother, living with him after being widowed. There is an Elizabeth Rinehart buried in Oceola #2 Cemetery, Crawford County, Ohio (where others from the same family are buried). She died on June 15, 1850, at the age of 74 years (and some months/days). 

Knowing that ages recorded in the Census aren't always accurate, and knowing how many other descendants are buried in this same cemetery, I'm strongly leaning toward accepting Elizabeth as Joseph's mother--making her my hubby's great-great-great grandmother. As of now, I have no clue about the name or dates for hubby's great-great-great grandfather, who left Elizabeth widowed.

Did Elizabeth die before being listed in the Census?

Note that the 1850 U.S. Census was taken "as of" June 1. However, the actual date on the excerpt above is November 5. Yet the Elizabeth in the local cemetery died in mid-June. Did the Census enumerator include her in Joseph's household anyway, because she was alive as of June 1? As wonderful reader Linda correctly notes, the enumerator was supposed to include her even if she died after June 1. Or is it possible that these two Elizabeth Rineharts are different people?

The Elizabeth in the Oceola Cemetery died on June 15, which means she will not be included in the Census Mortality Schedule covering the year June 1, 1849-May 31, 1850. 

Despite contacting the local historical society and the local town clerk, I was unable to locate any death certificate from Crawford County, Ohio to get more information about Elizabeth. No local news reports, no compiled obits. I doubt she had a will. It's more likely that her late husband left any property or valuables to their children.

In another attempt to pierce this brick wall, I'm going down the list of possible data sources in the Family Search wiki page for Crawford County, hoping to spot something I haven't yet searched or browsed.


"Brick wall" is this week's prompt for the #52Ancestors challenge!

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

My 1950 U.S. Census Release To-Do List: From Address to ED

To be ready for the release of the 1950 U.S. Census next April, I'm listing ancestors of special interest and indicating their 1940 and 1950 addresses (guessing if necessary). 

The goal is to be able to browse images and locate these ancestors in the unindexed Census records that will be made public in April of 2022. To do this, I have to turn the 1950 address into an Enumeration District (ED). Then I'll only need to click through the images of that one ED to look for each ancestor or family.

Using the Unified Census ED Finder

Luckily, Stephen Morse and Joel Weintraub have an extremely powerful tool to transform an address into an ED. They call it a Unified Census ED Finder. You can find it on

Be sure you set the ED Finder to 1950, as shown in the screen shot at top. I've entered "1933 Marmion Ave" in the Bronx, New York, as my ancestor's address. However, that street appears in a number of Enumeration Districts. To narrow down my search, I need to look at a map and name other streets that are in back of or that cross with Marmion. Not crossing any streets, just on the same city block.

Looking at the Bronx map above, Elsmere Place is at the corner of this apartment building. When I select "Elsmere Pl" from the handy drop-down menu of "cross or back street on same city block" I see the number of EDs reduced to only four.

Keep adding cross or back streets

Next, looking at the map, I select "Tremont Ave" from the drop-down menu because that's the street at the other end of this city block. This reduces the number of EDs to only two. That's still too many EDs to easily browse. 

Again I add another back street from the drop-down menu, after consulting the map once more. This time, I choose the street at the very back of this same city block, which is "Prospect Ave." 

At this point, I only have a single ED listed, as shown above. To double-check, I can select the "Streets in the 1950 ED" button and click "More details." 

This takes me to a summary showing the ED and the description of the streets it includes. Note that this is a single city block. Not across any boulevards, avenues, streets, or places--just one big city block. For a city address, it's a fairly easy process to determine the proper ED, because the boundaries are easily ascertained by looking at a map.**

Put the ED on your list

My final step is to write the ED on my list. Here's an excerpt of my current listing. The two ancestors who lived on Marmion Avenue should both be in ED 3-798, as listed here. I've also found other EDs for ancestors on this list. Note that I also decided to alphabetize my ancestors by surname, so I can sort that way if I choose. And I can sort by "1950 ED" in order to group all ancestors who live in one ED together for more efficient browsing when the images are released next year.

Try the Unified Census ED Finder and once you see how it works, you'll be ready to work your way down the list of ancestors little by little. 

Remember to read the "Getting Ready for the 1950 Census" introduction on Steve Morse's site. He steps through the ED Finder process using Donald Duck's address. Really! Worth a look.

Also see my summary page of 1950 US Census tips and techniques here.

** Reader Amanda has an important reminder: "Be sure to check to see if the area you are looking in has had any house renumberings or street name changes. For example, Chicago renumbered many of its houses in 1909, and there's a list of street name changes available through 1948 (although the dates of each change are not noted). Portland, Oregon, renumbered most of its streets 1931-33, and changed directionals (NW, NE, etc.) on many as well. These changes will be important to know about when using modern-day maps to find cross and back streets when using the Unified Census ED Finder."

This is also my January 2022 post for The Genealogy Blog Party!

Friday, April 9, 2021

My 1950 U.S. Census Release To-Do List: Find Addresses

When the 1950 U.S. Census is released to the public on April 1, 2022, I want to be ready to find ancestors of special interest. I'm creating a list of priority ancestors and filling in their 1940 address/Enumeration District (ED) and then their 1950 address (see my previous post here). With an exact address, I can find the 1950 ED. This will enable me to browse images before the Census is indexed.

Sources for 1950 addresses

There are many possible sources for finding an ancestor's 1950 address, as shown in the above graphic. You may not find an address for that exact year, but one close to that year is a good starting point.

Today I'm on the trail of a 1950 address for my husband's maternal grandfather, Brice Larimer McClure (1878-1970).

Spoiler alert: I don't yet have the address. But I can share the steps I took to try locating Brice in the years surrounding 1950. And I may be successful in the end!

Where was this ancestor in the 1940s?

I know where Brice Larimer McClure was living during and after World War II. The last "known sighting" of an actual address is in Upper Sandusky, Ohio, where he and his wife Floyda Steiner McClure were living at the time of her death on November 2, 1948.

Family story: Not long after his wife died, Brice moved to Willoughby, Ohio and then later, around 1953, he moved to Cleveland to be closer to family.

My search plan for an exact address

I began with a "from scratch" search on all the major genealogy websites, entering Brice's information and specifying residence in Willoughby, Ohio, in the years 1949-1953. That didn't work.

Records show Brice's Social Security card was issued "prior to 1951." Actually, it was just after World War II, when he intended to retire and collect (which he did). Unlikely I will find a Willoughby address on that application (and it takes time and money to get this document). 

Moving on, the Willoughby-area newspapers were either too old, too new, or not very local for my purposes. 

Looking for a house purchase/sale would take time, digging into deeds, land records, etc. I set this aside for now.

Other non-official potential sources I tried, as suggested by Joel Weintraub on his super- detailed, info-rich page about the 1950 Census were: photographs (nope); address book (not that far back); diaries (none that far back).

Check the directories!

High on my list and on Joel's list were--directories! After a few false starts, I checked the local library in Willoughby. The website has a convenient "chat with a librarian" feature (see my screen capture at top).

I typed in a succinct chat question. Within a few minutes, the librarian typed back that directories from the 1950s era are most likely at the Willoughby Historical Society. She provided contact info, and I wrote an email, requesting a lookup when convenient. My husband remembers Brice having a home phone in Willoughby, so he should be listed in either the phone directory or the city directory.

Update: Librarian found no listing in the directory. 

-- For more about the 1950 Census, see my page here.

Monday, April 5, 2021

My 1950 U.S. Census Release To-Do List: Who and Where

With the public release of the 1950 U.S. Census records less than a year away, I'm prepping to be ready for April 1, 2022. 

That mid-century Census will not be transcribed or indexed when first released. I won't be able to simply type a name into the search box and magically find my screen filled with the correct 1950 Census page. Not until the Census is indexed and transcribed, which will be months after the release date. 

In the early weeks, I'll be browsing lots and lots of handwritten pages to try to spot the people I want to find. 

From my experience following a similar process when the 1940 Census was released, I know some browsing may involve only a few pages per person. Of course, some ancestors will be found on the final page of a large district, or spread across two districts. I have to be ready for any of these possibilities.

Which ancestors do I want to find?

My first step is to list the ancestors I want to find in the 1950 Census, surname first. Setting my priorities, I'm listing my closest ancestors on each side, followed by more distant ancestors. I didn't note relationships, but I may refine my table to indicate that later on. 

As shown in the sample at top, I created a table in a Word document so that I can sort by surname, sort by 1940 location, sort by 1950 location, etc. I've left space for the 1950 Enumeration District (known as an ED, more about this in a later post). 

Sorting is important because I might find, after listing dozens of ancestors, that two or three or more live in the same ED. For more efficient browsing, I'd want to group those together. 

In this sample, I entered the names (no maiden names) of three members of my father's Mahler family. I also noted any name variations I found in the 1940 Census, as a reminder about creative spelling by enumerators. 

Where were ancestors in 1950?

The next very important step is to note where my ancestors were living in 1950. In the case of my great aunt Dora Mahler, I can be pretty confident about her address in April of 1950 because she was at that address when she died in June of 1950. She had a chronic illness and had lived with her mother for years, which is why I listed my great-grandma Tillie Jacobs Mahler at the same address in 1950. 

My grandmother Henrietta Mahler was living at 3044 Valentine Avenue in the Bronx, NY when her husband Isaac Burk died in 1943. Tentatively, I've listed that as her address in 1950, along with another possible address: the apartment building where her son and daughter lived in 1950. Maybe she was living in the same building by 1950?

I'll have more to say about ways to find 1950 addresses in my next post!

Saturday, April 3, 2021

Easter Postcards from Family History

In the early 1900s, my husband's Wood ancestors exchanged postal greeting cards to stay in touch across the miles. Aunts, uncles, cousins, and close friends wrote cards for birthdays, Easter, Christmas, New Year's, and other special events. 

The cards flew through the mail to and from Cleveland, Ohio plus Toledo, Ohio and Chicago, Illinois. Writing on the back helped me track movement of family members from one address to another, as well as giving clues to relationships, both in the family and in the FAN club (friends, associates, neighbors).

For Easter, let me share four of the still-colorful cards that have survived in great shape within the Wood family for more than a century!

Thursday, April 1, 2021

One Year from Today: 1950 US Census Release!

Just a year from today, on April 1, 2022, the 1950 U.S. Census will be released! 

Are you ready?

Understand what enumerators were told to ask and how they were told to write down answers by looking at the "Urban & Rural Enumerator's Reference Manual" for the 1950 Census. You can access a free copy online through this link.

For more background about the U.S. Census, you can download a free copy of  "Measuring America" from this link.

Initially, no index or transcriptions will be available. Many groups are gearing up to tackle that monumental effort. So on the first day, you will be able to look for ancestors only by browsing images of the population schedule of the enumeration district (ED) where they lived.

For more details on how to prepare for the 1950 Census release, read the "Getting Ready" Steve Morse 1-Step page. And don't miss a single one of Joel Weintraub's informative, step-by-step videos here.

Also please look at my 1950 Census blog posts, which focus on issues such as how enumerators were told to record answers to the question "where were you born?" and other unique quirks of this mid-century Census.

One year from today, I'll be glued to my computer screen, diving into the first Census where my parents were enumerated as a married couple! Who will you be looking for?