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.

Monday, October 25, 2021

Missing One Baby in My Mahler Family Tree

My paternal great-grandparents, Meyer Elias Mahler (1855?-1910) and Tillie Jacobs Mahler (1852?-1952) had 7 children who survived into adulthood. Henrietta (hi paternal grandma!) and David were the two oldest, born in or near Riga, Latvia. 

Meyer arrived in New York City in 1885, and Tillie followed, with the children, in 1886. Later children were all born in New York City, or so I originally thought. 

Yet there is a significant gap of time between David's birth in 1882 in Latvia and the next child's birth in 1888 in the Big Apple. Maybe my original assumption wasn't correct after all.

Two small sons died in Manhattan

In the past few years, thanks to Family Search, I've learned the names of two Mahler babies who died in New York City. 

Wolf Mahler died in 1894, before his fourth birthday, of Bright's disease. 

Sundel Mahler died in 1901, about a month after his birth.

When I asked my Mahler cousins, no one remembered hearing about these baby boys who died so young. I've added their names to my family tree and will keep their memory alive for future generations. 

I'm still looking for one more child who died young. Here's how I know I'm missing one baby in my Mahler family tree.

Clues in 1900 and 1910 Census 

The 1900 US Census indicates that Tillie had 9 children in all, with only 7 living at the time. 

The 1910 US Census, shown at top, indicates that Tillie had 10 children in all, with 7 living at the time.

My reasoning: Wolf died before 1900, so he accounts for one of the babies no longer living in that Census. Sundel died before 1910, so he and Wolf together account for two of the babies no longer living by the time of that Census.

What of the missing child who died before 1900? 

Do the math

Summing up, the birth years of all Mahler children currently on my tree are: 1881, 1882, 1888, 1889, 1890, 1892, 1894, 1896, 1901. That's a total of 9 children, out of 10 born to great-grandma Tillie.

One possibility is that the missing baby was born in Latvia between 1883 and 1886. Unlikely the child was born before 1883 because David Mahler was born in March of 1882. Meyer left Latvia in early May of 1885, so there is a very slim chance his wife Tillie gave birth in early 1886, the year she left Latvia.

Another possibility is that the missing baby was born in New York City in early 1887. No later, however, because the next child was born in February of 1888. That's a mighty small window of opportunity for the missing baby. 

There are fairly small gaps in the years between the children's births in the 1890s, when the family was in New York. And I've found no other New York City births or deaths of children seemingly connected to Meyer and Tillie Mahler, so far.

My hypothesis now is that the missing baby was born and died in Latvia. He or she would have been no more than 3 years old, if this hypothesis is correct.

During Family History Month, I'll keep doing the research with the goal of memorializing this missing son or daughter on my tree.

Saturday, October 23, 2021

Farkas Family: Good Sports About Fishing

Go fish!

After World War II, the Farkas Family Tree (named in honor of my maternal great-grandparents, Moritz Farkas and Leni Kunstler Farkas) tried to charter a boat and fish as a family every year.

Some years the tree couldn't reserve a boat on their chosen weekend, but when they did, at least 30 men, women, and children boarded for a full day of fishing--or, more accurately, food and fun, with a little fishing too. 

A good number of my ancestors were land-lubbing apartment-dwellers in New York City. Still, they were good sports about being on the water once a year and baiting a hook or two. Some had fancy fishing rods, but many used a length of string with a basic hook, lowered into the water by hand.

Here's what the tree minutes say about two memorable all-day fishing trips (making me smile 70+ years later).

Excerpt about a fishing trip on Sunday, May 29, 1949:

"Many fish and many kinds of fish were caught and a most tremendous amount of eating and drinking. Fifty of the fish were fried at the host's home that night. Those who didn't realize how tired they were, played gin rummy until midnight. Albert caught the most fish; Ella caught the first fish; Leonard caught the largest fish; Irene caught the first flounder; Harry reported his stomach was in good condition and stayed on board." 

Excerpt about a fishing trip on Sunday, May 27, 1951

"Except for a few green faces and rough weather, our fishing trip was a huge success. Huddled under the canvas cover, we all had a great time eating, singing, and eating. Abe was the only anti-social one. He insisted on staying at the back of the boat looking out to sea, but he was bent in a peculiar position, with his head over the edge." 

-- Sports is the week 42 prompt in Amy Johnson Crow's #52Ancestors challenge.

Thursday, October 21, 2021

Debuting New Talks at Two Genealogy Conferences

During the last two months of 2021, I'll be debuting new presentations at two virtual genealogy conferences.

Virtual Genealogical Association

In November, I'm honored to be speaking at the Virtual Genealogical Association's 2021 Conference

This much-anticipated event will have 6 live talks on November 13th and 15 prerecorded talks, a total of 21 presentations available for viewing for the next six months. Download the detailed syllabus and watch presentations whenever you wish, even in your bunny slippers. 

My topic is: Get ready for the 1950 US Census -- a treasure trove of family history! I'll show, step by step, exactly how to browse the unindexed Census pages to find your ancestors when the Census population schedule is released on April 1, 2022. Plus I'll explain the interesting questions and quirks of the Census questionnaire and enumerator instructions. You'll come away with specific ideas for how to get started and what to look for on the Census pages next April.

THE Genealogy Show

In December, I'm delighted to participate as a virtual speaker at THE Genealogy Show. This affordable event begins on December 3, and all talks will be recorded and available until January 4, 2022. 

My topic is: Genealogy clues and cousin bait on Find a Grave. I'll demonstrate tips and tricks for getting the most out of Find a Grave, including how to analyze every element on a memorial page and how to use the source of a memorial or a flower as possible cousin bait. Enjoy this practical, how-to presentation.

Hope to see you at one of these upcoming genealogy conferences.

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Curate by Sharing "Double Prints" Snapshots

Remember the days of putting film in a camera and then bringing the finished roll to the store for developing? 

Local drugstores used to compete by offering "double prints" with every roll developed. 

Double prints, double fun

Back in the day, hubby and I took a lot of snapshots and wound up with a lot of dupes. Many times, we sent dupes to family right away. Still, we ended up with some fun dupes that I couldn't bear to toss, so I saved them. 

Now I'm downsizing my family photo collection, in preparation for assembling archival albums.

Not every dupe is worth saving or sharing at this point. I'm selecting the best and getting more ruthless about saying goodbye to the worst.

Curating and captioning dupes

After curating, I'm captioning the best dupes to pop into the mail for family and friends, as a surprise. 

Because developers often printed the date (or at least month/year) on the back of these prints, all I have to do is add a quick caption. It doesn't have to be elaborate. On photos where the recipient was a baby or toddler at the time the snapshot was taken, I'm adding names and the place/occasion.

On one of the dupes from September, 2014, I added the caption "Remember the ice bucket challenge?" because that's the focus of the photo. One day soon, that young woman will open my envelope and see the photo, showing her standing with the ice bucket.  The family was proud of her involvement in the fundraising challenge. When she gets the dupe, she will relive the memory, and my pile of dupes shrinks.

If you have "double prints" to share, don't wait to get started. Recipients will appreciate seeing the photos and you'll slim down your collection for the sake of future generations.

Saturday, October 16, 2021

Try This Cousin Bait Trick on Find a Grave has valuable features that can function as cousin bait. 

The site, owned by Ancestry, has 190 million+ memorial pages spanning the globe. 

To take advantage of the features, just register for free and sign in.

This is Family History Month, a good time to memorialize our ancestors' final resting places and improve their memorial pages...

One trick: Have you ever noticed the flowers or flags left at the bottom of a memorial page? 

Flowers as cousin bait

Above is a flower with a brief message that I left on one ancestor's memorial page,  identifying how I'm related to this man. Free cousin bait for anyone who looks at the bottom of that page! 

If you notice a flower or flag on a memorial page of your ancestor, read the message and click to see who left it. Maybe a relative left that flower. 

Any text shown in blue is clickable--such as the name of the user who is the source of the flower. Clicking to see the source of a flower or flag lets you learn more about that user. Did I mention this is all free for registered users?

Go to the source: user profile

If you click on M Wood as the source of the flower shown at top, you'll see my user profile page on Find a Grave. Similarly, if you click on W. Wood as the source of the flag posted at bottom of a memorial page for my husband's distant cousin, you'll be taken to my user profile page (since I left it in his name). 

On my user profile page, I list some of the surnames/locations that I'm researching. 

More than once, a possible cousin has clicked to see my profile, noticed a family-tree connection, and sent a message.

Similarly, if I find the memorial of an ancestor on Find a Grave, I look to see who's left a flower and click on the source. 

This trick has worked for me, putting me in touch with relatives and other people researching my ancestors. Maybe it will work for you? Try it during Family History Month!

This trick and others are explained in my new presentation, "Genealogical Clues and Cousin Bait on Find a Grave." 

-- My blog post for the October Genealogy Blog Party!

Thursday, October 14, 2021

1950 US Census Release: Save the Page, Cite Your Source

Family historians are excited that the 1950 US Census population schedule will be released on April 1, 2022--that's only 169 days from today.

In my earlier posts about preparing for the 1950 Census, I suggested creating a list of ancestors, along with their 1950 addresses (from your research) and their 1950 Enumeration District (search using the terrific tech tool by Steve Morse and Joel Weintraub). 

My list doesn't have a column for what I learn about each ancestor's 1950 Census data--I'm going to enter that into my software and my online tree, jotting notes as I go.

As I was recording my talk, "Get Ready for the 1950 US Census" to air during the Virtual Genealogical Association's Annual Conference, incoming VGA President Jeanette Sheliga asked me a great question: Will I download the Census pages and attach to my tree?

Don't miss these important steps!

I will certainly download each page where an ancestor is listed, label with a descriptive file title, and save in a digital folder so I can return later to vacuum up more clues and absorb their significance.

And, importantly, I'm going to note the ED, page number, and other citation information so I can return to the page at any time.

But rather than take the time to download, label, annotate, upload, label, and save each ancestor's Census page to my multiple trees (WikiTree, Ancestry, MyHeritage, and more), my preference is to wait and move on to locating other ancestors in the browse-only 1950 Census.

Once the sites have indexed the 1950 Census, weeks or months after the release, I'll be able to connect pages to ancestors on my online trees with just a few clicks. And by then, any ancestors I haven't located by browsing may be much easier to locate with indexed search.

What's your plan for saving 1950 Census pages and citing your source? Don't forget these vital steps in your research plan!

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Family History Month: Needlework by Our Grandmas

My maternal grandma and my hubby's maternal grandma were both needlework enthusiasts. During Family History Month, I'm showing off their creations and telling the story of their love of stitching. The goal is to keep both the needlework and the stories alive for future generations.

Floyda's needlework legacy 

Above, doilies, bureau scarves, potholders, and gloves stitched by my husband's grandmother, Floyda Mabel Steiner McClure (1878-1948). She loved to crochet and work on embroidery. 

Her grandchildren also remember the family's old-fashioned treadle sewing machine, later electrified by granddaddy Brice Larimer McClure (1878-1970). Floyda spent many happy hours at this machine with her granddaughter, stitching up doll clothing with intricate details. Floyda also created quilts, both by hand and by machine. One partially-completed quilt top remains in the family.

As shown above, Floyda's needlework is in great condition, currently wrapped in archival tissue inside an archival storage box. It will be passed to the next generation with the stories of Floyda's love of stitching.

Minnie's needlework legacy

My grandmother, Hermina "Minnie" Farkas Schwartz (1886-1964) also enjoyed  crochet, embroidery, and sewing clothing on her treadle sewing machine.

Before her marriage, Minnie helped support the family by sewing silk ties in a factory owned by a cousin. After Minnie married and had children, each of her younger sisters would move in with her for a time. The sisters gave a helping hand with the babies while Minnie measured and stitched each girl a few outfits.

The embroidered tablecloth shown above is not in as great condition as I'd like, but it does show off Minnie's embroidery and crocheted lacework. This is currently in archival tissue inside an archival storage box, awaiting transfer to the next generation in the years ahead.

Sunday, October 10, 2021

Keep Key Family History Details Alive

Over the years, family history can be forgotten unless we tell the stories again and again to honor our ancestors and let future generations know about their lives.

Mayflower connection rediscovered

No one in my hubby's family had ever heard of any Mayflower connection until a cousin I met via genealogy showed us the research paper trail. 

This wonderful cousin linked the Wood family to five people who were on the Mayflower: Mary Norris Allerton, Isaac Allerton, Mary Allerton, Francis Cooke, and Degory Priest. 

Looking ahead: keep the stories alive

We don't want this key detail of the Wood family tree to be lost to those in the future! 

Every Thanksgiving, we send greeting cards to our grandkids, naming these Mayflower ancestors. We add a different focus each year to flesh out these ancestors. One year, we said who did and didn't survive that first winter after coming to the New World. Another year, we wrote about Mary Allerton Cushman being the last of the Mayflower passengers to pass away, in 1699. 

Tell your ancestors' stories

My family's history is different from my husband's side of the family. 

My four immigrant grandparents left Eastern Europe and came to New York City at different times and in different ways. All sought a better life for themselves and for their descendants.

By retelling the stories with a slightly different emphasis each time, we're doing our best to prevent these ancestral connections and motivations from being forgotten in the future.

No matter what your family's history, keep those key details alive for future generations. This is Family History Month!

Wednesday, October 6, 2021

Is Your Genealogy Blog in the Wayback Machine?

During #AncestryHour on Tuesday, participants discussed how to preserve digital info, including blog posts. Then someone came up with the bright idea to check the Internet Archive's Wayback Machine.

As shown above, my genealogy blog was saved 111 times in the past decade. (I began blogging in 2008 but the Wayback Machine apparently didn't save my posts for the first few years.)

Pick a date and click

I picked one of the dates in the timeline, and a calendar popped up, highlighting the days when my blog was saved as a snapshot in the Wayback Machine. If I click on a specific highlighted date, I can see exactly what my blog's home page looked like then. 

For instance, the image at right shows the top of my blog on November 24, 2011, Thanksgiving Thursday. 

The Wayback Machine also included in its snapshot that day's post and blog posts going back to November 2, 2011, all of which were visible on the home page. 

(This design shows what my blog looked like before I inserted ancestor landing pages and other elements.)

Try it, you'll like it

If you have a blog, do enter the URL in the Wayback Machine's search box and see how many times (and when) your blog was saved by this wonderful digital resource.

Then take a trip back in time by clicking to see what your blog looked like on that date.

Plus feel good that some of your blog entries have been archived for the public, to be preserved and available into the future!

"Preservation" is this week's #52Weeks genealogy challenge prompt from Amy Johnson Crow.

Monday, October 4, 2021

Easier Way to Find Jennie's Marriage Cert

Yesterday, I showed the steps taken to find my great aunt Jennie's marriage cert from 1916. She and great uncle Alex were married in New York City on Christmas Eve of 1916. 

My gen friend Lara Diamond, who knows a thing or three about Big Apple vital records databases, suggested an easier way to find Jennie's marriage cert--a method that would remove more than 700 clicks from the process! **

Lara's method has specific steps to follow but saves time because it allows me to more quickly get to the NYC cert by narrowing the number of images to browse.

Step 1

Go to the databases, which include vital records indexes for New York City. Select either the bride's or groom's record of marriage certs. As shown in the image above, many of these have been indexed by the wonderful volunteers at Italian Gen for selected years in all five boroughs. 

Step 2 

Enter the name of the bride (as I did in the image directly above) or use the groom's database, and be sure to specify a year or range of years. You can enter as much info as you know, or leave the search broader. I only used "J" for the bride's name, since I wasn't sure whether the cert would show her as "Jenny" or "Jennie."  

The third search result in the listing was my great aunt Jennie, who married Farkas, Alexander. 

The key piece of info here is the CertNbr which means the actual certificate number. Lara's insight was to use the cert number to jump ahead in the unindexed but browsable images on Family Search. Here, I'll be looking for cert #31504.

Step 3

Since I already knew the correct digitized microfilm number on Family Search, I could go to that digitized file and look at the early cert numbers in the batch. 

Then I estimated how many certs to jump ahead in order to find #31504. This saved me hundreds of clicks. I only had to spot-check the number of a cert many dozens of images away to see how close I was getting to the cert number I wanted

Remember, without the cert number, I needed to click through every cert because the digitized certs are not in chronological order--they're in cert order. If I didn't know the cert number, I couldn't skip ahead.

Step 3 alternative

What if I didn't know where on Family Search to look for these browsable images? Lara recommends going to and using his one-step tools to find the correct batch of certs. See image of search on his site, shown below.

Using Steve Morse's tools, I input the groom's and bride's names, plus place of marriage and year. This search jumped me to the Family Search site, at the beginning of the microfilmed batch I was seeking. (Jump doesn't always work, so also consult the FamilySearch wiki here.)

Then I proceeded to quickly look for the correct cert number, by skipping through the lower numbers until I got to the approximate place for the correct number of my great aunt's cert.

Thank you to Lara for this streamlined method of locating NYC marriage certs!


** Lara just added this: "There’s an easier way still. Do the same groom search you did. But click “search IGG.” You get the cert number, but in the far right, there is “click here” which brings you to the right film, close to the cert you want."

PS from me: If all else fails, consider asking for your cert or other info via the Family History Library lookup service. They are nice folks and try hard to fulfill requests!  

Sunday, October 3, 2021

Finding Great Aunt Jennie's Marriage Cert

My great aunt Jennie Katz Farkas (1886-1974) was an important linchpin in my Farkas family.

She married my grandma's older brother, Alexander Farkas (1885-1948) on Christmas Eve, 1916. Both were in the clothing business--he as a salesman, later a garment manufacturer, and she as a designer for his clothing lines. 

Jennie and Alex never had children. Both were deeply involved in community activities and family events. By retelling their stories, I aim to honor their memories and let future generations know a bit about them.

Idea for a Family Circle

As the Great Depression took hold, it was Jennie's idea to have a regular get-together of the children and grandchildren of the Farkas patriarch and matriarch (Moritz Farkas and Leni Kunstler Farkas). Moritz and Lena (my great-grandparents) were the original immigrants to leave Hungary for New York City, and they were also Jennie's dad-in-law and mom-in-law.

Thanks to Jennie, the Farkas Family Circle began meeting in March, 1933, later changing its name to the Farkas Family Tree. Ten times a year, the Farkas family gathered for food, conversation, games, and sometimes serious business (such as pooling money to buy burial plots). I have the written minutes of the meetings, a time capsule of family history.

In 1959, the family historian dedicated the tree's annual meeting report to Jennie, saying:

In her own quiet way, she was probably more responsible than any other in the birth of the Farkas Family Tree. Since the inception...she has been just about the most ardent supporter...and just about the most regular attender of meetings.

Three steps to Jennie & Alex's marriage cert

I know a lot about Jennie and her husband Alex, and I even have the fun group photo taken at their wedding in 1916. Jennie could see a fashion in a magazine and replicate it on her own, no pattern needed. In fact, she sewed the dresses for many a Farkas wedding in the 1930s and 1940s.

Although I have the transcription of Jennie and Alex's marriage certificate, I never saw the actual handwritten New York City cert until I took three steps today. 

Step one was to use the new Family Search interface to locate the record of Jennie and Alex's marriage cert. It was linked to a digitized microfilm not yet indexed but visible to me in my bunny slippers at home. Yes!

Step two was clicking through the unindexed images of licenses from that period of 1916. Happily, certs from September to December were together on a single microfilm. However, there were 1200+ certs in that microfilm, not in chronological order. Click, click, click...

Step three took me 769 clicks but I successfully landed on their marriage cert, shown at top. Note that "Jenny" is the way her name is shown on the front, which was not written by the bride or groom. On the back, the signature clearly says "Jennie Katz." I downloaded front and back for my records, and for further investigation.

"Aunt Jennie" is how she was known in the family, and "Jennie" is how she's recorded in my trees, with affection and respect.


"Steps" = the theme of Amy Johnson Crow's #52Ancestors challenge for week 39.

Friday, October 1, 2021

1950 US Census: New Grade Codes

The 1950 US Census, to be released in April of 2022, has a mass of little details that will add nuance to my knowledge of family history.

Educational codes in 1950

In 1950, enumerators were trained to record the highest grade level attained by each person in the household using highly specific codes (see top). 

Note that in 1950, kindergarten has a separate code (K). "Junior High" and "Senior High" have distinct codes, as well.

These codes differ from codes used to indicate educational attainment in the 1940 US Census. 

Educational codes in 1940

Enumerators in the 1940 Census didn't distinguish between "junior" and "senior" high school. They recorded 1-8 for grade school and H1, H2, H3, H4 for high school grades. 

In 1940, there was no kindergarten code. College grades were C1-4 for college and C5 for post-graduate attainment, codes that remained the same in the 1950 Census.

I'll be interested to see which of my ancestors progressed beyond high school by the time of the 1950 Census. 

In the 1940 Census snippet shown here, head of household Milton was a high school graduate. Wife Irene had completed 8th grade, meaning no high school. One daughter was a high school graduate (H4) and the other was a freshman in high school (H1). 

The men listed on the last two lines were Irene's bachelor brothers, who supposedly finished 8th grade, according to the 1940 Census. I'm not sure this is entirely accurate. Let's see what the 1950 Census says!