Saturday, December 31, 2022

Happy Family History New Year!


On December 31, 1914, this colorful penny postcard was mailed to the Cleveland, Ohio home of my husband's uncle, Wallis W. Wood. The children seem to be unwrapping a lucky "pot of gold" for the new year, 1915.

Now, 108 years later, let me wish you a new year of health, happiness, and peace, with a lot of lucky ancestor discoveries!

Tuesday, December 27, 2022

Looking Ahead to 2023 Genealogy Priorities

The year 2023 will be the 25th year of my genealogy journey! In my final post for Amy Johnson Crow's #52Ancestors prompts for 2022, I look ahead to genealogy priorities for the new year.

  • Continue writing bite-sized ancestor bios. During NaGenWriMo in November, I blitzed 70 ancestor bios onto multiple genealogy sites, some bios about people on my tree and some for my husband's tree. I'm still adding bios of spouses and in-laws, and still doing a bit of fresh research when I focus on an ancestor I haven't looked at for a long time. I never know what additional details I may find! By posting bios, I'm sharing what I know with the wider world and keeping the memory of these ancestors alive for the future. Addendum: Also paw through files to curate notes, digitize what's needed, discard what's not needed.
  • Resume my photo album project. I slacked off on moving photos from archival boxes to archival albums, after a strong start earlier in 2022. Now I want to get back to curating and moving photos, digitizing and adding captions where needed, so future generations will know who's who. This is also a way to make old family photos more accessible "on demand" (when a relative shows even the slightest interest). 
  • Research ancestors and FAN club members of particular interest. My tree and hubby's tree have lots of branches and leaves after so many years of genealogical research. Now I'm going to concentrate on people who are particularly important or interesting in my family's history, such as Hinda Ann Mitav and her husband, Isaac Chazan. They hosted my grandfather in Manchester, England, en route from Lithuania to North America in 1901. Hinda is almost certainly a sister of my great-grandma, Necke Gelle Burk.
  • Genealogy presentations. I use Fold3 often but the browse/search functions are not intuitive, so my new talk will share practical tips for navigating the site to find military records and much more. I'll also be showing how and why to create memorial pages on Fold3 for men and women who served in the military. I've retired my talk about social media for genealogy, because of the ever-changing situation on Twitter and my learning curve on Mastadon (I'm at See a list of all my presentations here.
  • Genealogy education. I'm furthering my genealogy knowledge by subscribing to Legacy Family Tree Webinars and attending RootsTech, as well as by continuing my membership in genealogy groups near and far so I can access their programs. Going into my 25th year of genealogy fun, I know enough to know there's a lot more I could and should know.
Readers, wishing you an enjoyable and productive year of genealogy in 2023!

Saturday, December 24, 2022

Merry Christmas Penny Postal Greeting

This penny postal greeting card was received by my husband's ancestors 110 years ago.

The colors are still bright and so is the greeting to you, dear readers!

Here's a hearty greeting from me and mine,

Wishing you a very Merry Christmas time. 

Thursday, December 22, 2022

Donate Your Family History Materials in 2023?

Will 2023 be the year you share your family history with the wider world? 

My good friend Mary just finished indexing the genealogy book her husband wrote about his Brown ancestors. Once it's printed, it will be sent to family members and donated to selected repositories, enabling researchers and relatives to learn more about this family's background. 

The index and sources are important elements, showing at a glance who's mentioned in the book and citing specific resources as evidence. The original materials remain with Mary's family, to be passed down to future generations.

Who wants your family's history or artifacts? 

If you're thinking about donating some or all of your family history materials or artifacts, consider repositories in geographic locations where your ancestors were born, died, married, lived, worked, or frequently vacationed/visited. Also consider major genealogical institutions that have a broader scope.

Check each institution's specific requirements and ask permission  to donate before sending or bringing anything to any repository!

Above, the Genealogy Center at the Allen County Public Library (Fort Wayne, Indiana) emphasizes that donated family histories, including family record pages from family Bibles, will be preserved and available for other researchers. It welcomes both print and digital materials.

Below, actively invites donation of genealogies and genealogical materials, if they meet criteria as shown here. Donated family histories will be digitized and available for viewing online.

Don't overlook local repositories

Many local libraries and historical groups want donated family histories and artifacts, as well. Browse their websites or call to ask.

Above, the Henderson public library (Henderson, Nevada) outlines what it accepts, and provides both email and phone contacts for the library. Maybe your local library or historical museum or genealogical society would be interested in your family's materials, but you'll never know until you ask.


Remember, LOCKSS (lots of copies keep stuff safe).

Especially if you have no heirs for your genealogy collection, donating copies and/or originals is a practical way to preserve your materials. Keep family history out of the recycle bin in 2023 and beyond!

For more ideas, please see my popular guide, Planning a Future for Your Family's Past, available from and from Amazon (US, Canada, UK, Europe, Australia).

Tuesday, December 20, 2022

Christmas Greetings from Early in the 20th Century

These penny postal greetings date from the early 1900s. They were received by my husband's uncle, Wallis W. Wood, who was then a youngster living in Cleveland, Ohio. 

Printed in beautiful color in Germany, some of the penny post cards sent to the Wood family were purchased in Toledo, Ohio, and others in Chicago, Illinois. All the cards are still in great shape, in the family's hands more than a century later!

Friday, December 16, 2022

Looking Back at 2022 Genealogy Milestones


Now that 2022 is nearly over, it's time to look back at milestones in this 24th year of my genealogy journey.

  • Fun with the 1950 US Census release. On April 1st, this mid-century US Census was made public, and the race was on to find ancestors! Between navigating the US National Archives Census site (with its rudimentary index) and checking,, and, I found just about everyone I wanted to locate in 1950. I blogged frequently leading up to the release and afterward as well with tips, techniques, and resources. Only a few stragglers remain to be my paternal 1c2r Frank Morris Jacobs, a WWI veteran who in WWII was working in advertising. 
  • Presented 25 genealogy programs. A new one-year record for me! I presented a dozen how-to talks about finding ancestors in the 1950 US Census, including one in-person program. Among my other popular talks were "Planning a Future for Your Family's Past" and "Bite-Sized Family History Projects." It was an honor to present at the WikiTree Symposium, and record talks for The Genealogy Show and Virtual Genealogy Association anniversary. In addition, I was interviewed for two podcasts about preserving family history for future generations. 
  • Active in genealogy blogging and social media. This year, I've written 140 blog posts. Some were related to Amy Johnson Crow's #52Ancestors in 52 Weeks genealogy prompts, some were for Elizabeth Swanay O’Neal's Genealogy Blog Party. I've been active in many Facebook genealogy groups, also active in Twitter chats such as #AncestryHour and #GenChat, with occasional #ArchivesHashtagParty posts. Given Twitter's problems, I hedged my bets by joining a genealogy-oriented Mastodon server (where I post as I appreciate the growing genealogy community there! 
  • LOCKSS and NaGenWriMo. During 2022, I was increasingly focused on sharing what I know about ancestors, because LOCKSS (lots of copies keep stuff safe). I participated in National Genealogy Writing Month and wrote 70 bite-sized bios of ancestors during November alone. My most popular blog post of 2022 was "Go Ahead and Save My Stuff to Your Tree," part of my plan for LOCKSS. 
  • Cousin connections and elusive ancestors. I 💗 my cousins! It's been a joy to get to know so many during the course of my 24-year genealogy journey, even connecting with a few fairly distant cousins this year. We've shared a couple of photos and confirmed basic dates for mutual ancestors. I hope we can pool our knowledge to make even more progress in fleshing out the lives of elusive ancestors, particularly those who stayed behind in Eastern Europe. 
With the coronavirus pandemic still keeping me close to home for most of 2022, I watched dozens and dozens of informative (often inspiring) genealogy webinars, including at the all-virtual RootsTech (which will be hybrid in 2023), plus the Virtual Genealogy Association and WikiTree, among others. As a member of multiple genealogy societies, I learned a lot from speakers and from discussions with members at virtual meetings throughout the year.  

In all, 2022 was jam-packed and I won't be slowing down in 2023. I have lots of genealogy plans in the works...more about that soon! 

Thursday, December 15, 2022

Family History on Our Family Calendar

Here's the cover of this year's family calendar--no faces, but I assure you everyone was smiling at our summertime reunion.

Customizing a family calendar offers a great opportunity to capture family history in the making! Today's family activities are, after all, tomorrow's treasured memories.

The genealogy angle is that parents, grandparents, and other beloved relatives who have passed away aren't forgotten because we put many of their faces somewhere in the calendar. When recipients turn the calendar page and see faces they remember or can't quite place, the stories start to flow.

Last year's calendar had a special series of photos with my three nieces resting their heads on a favorite uncle's shoulder. The earliest photo was from 1990s, most recent photo from 2021, a reenactment of the first in the series. Fun! 

This is an easy project when using present layouts on major calendar websites. Our family prefers lots of photos but even a few photos per month will keep those memories alive for the future.

Tuesday, December 13, 2022

Forest Cemetery, Traditional Burial Site for Many Wood Ancestors

On this day 75 years ago, my husband's great uncle Marion Elton Wood passed away after a lengthy illness. By tradition, he and a good number of Wood ancestors were buried in Forest Cemetery in Toledo, Ohio, just north of the downtown area.

Marion was born in Toledo on August 29, 1867, the 13th of 17 children of Thomas Haskell Wood and Mary Amanda Demarest. Marion was a life-long Toledo resident, becoming a carpenter like his father and most of his brothers. He and his first wife (Wilhelmina "Minnie" Caroline Miller) were married in Toledo in 1890 and had two children in the city. Their Toledo home was also the first site of the Bethany Evangelical Lutheran Church, which they helped organize in 1917 as charter members.

Sadly, Marion had many losses in his life, including the death of his daughter in 1895 (buried in Forest Cemetery), the death of Minnie in 1918 (buried with her parents in Detroit), and the death of his second wife, Johanna in 1928 (buried in nearby Woodlawn Cemetery with her first husband). Marion died on December 13, 1947, at age 80, and was buried in Forest Cemetery's section P. He was survived by his third wife, his son, three grandchildren, five great-grandkids, and two sisters.

According to a book by local historians, Forest Cemetery is the final resting place of nine police officers, 13 firefighters, 16 Toledo mayors, multiple Civil War veterans, a founder of the University of Toledo, and ship captain Samuel Allen.

As well, Forest Cemetery is the final resting place of many Wood ancestors, including spouses and some of their children. 

"Tradition" is Amy Johnson Crow's #52Ancestors prompt for this week.

Thursday, December 8, 2022

Eyeballing a New York Birth Cert from 1885

I'm writing a bite-sized bio of Carrie Julia Etschel Mahler (1885-1962), who in 1932 married my great uncle Morris Mahler (1888-1958). Those who marry in deserve their own bios on my family tree!

I already knew Carrie's parents' names, from her marriage license...but I didn't have Carrie's birth certificate, and I did hope to harvest a few more details about her early life to include in the bio I'm preparing. Since she was born in New York City, I knew just where to look for her actual birth cert--for free.

New York City Vital Records online

For months, I've enjoyed the convenience of searching for birth, marriage, and death certificates on the New York City Municipal Archives site. The trick is to have an actual cert number to conduct a search and receive a result. 

As it happens, Ancestry has a searchable index to New York City births, 1878-1909, which includes the birth record number. But this isn't always the case. Many times, is my first stop for a NYC ancestor's vital records number. 

First stop:

The Italian Genealogical Group has done an incredible job of creating searchable index databases for a variety of New York vital records. To go directly to the databases, use this link. I selected the birth database, included a range of years for Carrie's birth (in case there was a delay in recording her birth), and didn't indicate a specific borough because I wanted to search throughout the city.

Happily, this returned one index result: Carrie J. Etschel, born on April 25, 1885, in Manhattan. This matches what I knew from Carrie's marriage license. The key element on this index result is the CertNbr (meaning cert number), 426034.

Next stop: search historical vital records for NYC

Armed with the cert number, year, and borough, I went to the NYC Muni Archives site and plugged it all into the search function, as shown above. Then I clicked the search button.

Immediately I was able to eyeball Carrie Julia Etschel's birth record from 1885, as shown here. There's a choice of downloading the cert or printing, and of course I downloaded to add to my own files. 

By the way, the cert numbers do not always line up exactly with the search function. So if my result doesn't fit what I expect, I do a new search with a cert number that is one digit higher and one digit lower than the cert number I think is correct. Usually this gets me to the correct image.

Read the cert!

Reading the above cert carefully, not only did I learn the exact address where Carrie was born on First Avenue in Manhattan, but also the birthplace and age of both parents, father's occupation, mother's maiden name, plus how many children the mother had in all (8) and how many were now living (only 3). 

Now I have lots of interesting details about Carrie's family that I can include in her bite-sized bio to be posted on multiple genealogy websites.

Monday, December 5, 2022

Bringing My Cousin Back to Life and Getting Rid of Scraped Photos on FamilySearch

Yesterday I stumbled across an unexpected discovery: Someone unrelated to my family had created a profile for my 1c1r on, marking her as "deceased." 


My cousin is very much alive and well, as I know from speaking with her last week! I hadn't added her to the Family Search tree and I was flabbergasted to find her there, before her time.  

Changing status to living

The help center of Family Search explains how to change my cousin's status to "living." This is important for privacy reasons, to be sure living people are not visible in the collaborative family tree.

At top, an excerpt from the process. You can find more detail here. More than one person had contributed to my cousin's profile, so I had to submit a request to the system administrator. UPDATE: My cousin is no longer visible on the tree!

Getting unauthorized photos off the tree 

That same contributor also scraped family photos from public Ancestry trees that feature my family and posted them on FamilySearch. Without permission from the copyright holder, photos cannot be simply taken from an outside source such as Ancestry and posted on FamilySearch.

Shown here, one of the photos posted as a "public memory" on an ancestor's profile (see arrow). At bottom right of screen (see orange oval) is the name of the contributor. I clicked on the contributor's name and sent a message, saying I recognized the photos as being taken from Ancestry and I wanted those photos removed.

I further noted that unless permission was specifically granted by someone in my family, posting photos taken from elsewhere violates the FamSearch terms of service. See the excerpt below for background on this specific issue:

Unless the family photos are removed quickly, I will submit a report to FamilySearch. The last time this happened, with a different contributor, my message resulted in family photos being removed within 24 hours.

Have you visited or followed your ancestors lately?

If you haven't visited your ancestors on FamilySearch lately, I suggest you take a look now. Be sure no living relative is visible and mistakenly shown as deceased. At the same time, you might want to check for family photos copied without authorization from outside sources and pasted on ancestors' profiles.

You can "follow" any ancestor visible on the tree and receive weekly notifications of any changes made to that person's profile. While my cousin's status is set to "deceased," I can follow her profile and see when and if her status is changed to "living." I'm also following dozens of other ancestors, mostly to monitor research updates made by cousins and other interested parties.

This helpful article explains exactly how to "follow" someone shown on the collaborative family tree. Go ahead, follow your ancestors!

Sunday, December 4, 2022

Remembering Mom and Auntie in 1919

My mother and my aunt were born on this day in 1919, twin daughters of immigrants Hermina Farkas Schwartz and Theodore Schwartz. 

Left, Dorothy (1919-2001) and right, Daisy (1919-1981), about 1921.

In the year of their birth, 103 years ago, the Great War was finally over. 

It was also the year that the pop-up toaster was invented...rotary dial telephones were introduced...and the famous cartoon character Felix the Cat debuted.

Remembering these wonderful women, with much love, and missing them still on this anniversary of their birth. 

Wednesday, November 30, 2022

NaGenWriMo Family History Writing Wrapup

After an entire 30 days of National Genealogy Writing Month, I've completed and posted 70 bite-sized ancestor bios to document family history.

My methodology: begin with one sibling/spouse cohort in each generation on my tree. Then switch to one sibling/spouse cohort in my hubby's tree, and continue up and down the generations, alternating between my tree and hubby's tree. Switching things up kept me fresh and on my toes! 

By now, I've gotten nearly all bios done back to great-grandparents. Not quite all, because my maternal grandma (Hermina Farkas Schwartz) had a LOT of siblings and most were married with children. Where I haven't yet added spouses/children, I'm naming them in the bios as I write. Their names will be remembered long after NaGenWriMo is finished, because I'm posting on multiple genealogy sites. 

LOCKSS - lots of copies keep stuff safe.

Friday, November 25, 2022

From Immigrant to Head of Thanksgiving Day Parade

Harold the Baseball Player, balloon shown in the 1946 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. Courtesy Macy's Event Media.

Leona Zonna "Lee" Wallace was born 99 years ago yesterday, on November 24, 1903, in Lodz, Poland. She was the director of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade from the late 1940s until the mid-1950s. Importantly for family history, she was my aunt's life partner starting in that period and continuing for 40+ years.

To honor Lee's memory during this week of Thanksgiving, I've written and posted the following bite-sized bio as part of my NaGenWriMo initiative to document family history online.

Born in Lodz, Poland on 24 Nov 1903, Leona Zonna "Lee" Wallace had two brothers, for whom she cared after their parents (Anthony and Frances Wallace) died. After the family arrived in America, Lee worked during the day and attended high school classes at night while bringing up the boys on her own. In her spare time, she took art lessons, she told a newspaper interviewer in 1952. 

During World War II, Lee worked in labor relations for the Quartermaster Corps, headquartered in Washington, D.C. After the war, she applied to Macy's department store in New York and worked her way up to head of the store's high-profile special events group--including directing the biggest holiday event of the year, the famous Thanksgiving Day Parade. By the 1950s, Lee had earned a national reputation for superbly directing all aspects of the annual parade, from planning to execution. 

In 1952, Lee formed a business partnership with her partner, Dorothy Schwartz (1919-2001). The company was called "Lee Wallace Associates, Parade and Special Events, Consultants." Together, they managed not only the Macy's Thanksgiving parade but also the five-day Bridgeport (CT) Barnum Festival on July 4, 1953. Dorothy (twin sister of my Mom) soon left the business and started a career in high school education. 

Lee and Dorothy shared a deep love of art, theater, and culture. They were devoted to their nieces and nephews, visiting often and taking them on outings to the beach, amusement parks, etc. In later years, Lee's health deteriorated as she suffered a series of strokes. Lee Wallace died on 18 Sept, 1989, at the age of 85.

Today, I'm thinking of my aunt with affection as I keep her memory alive for the future. 

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Thanksgiving Greetings from 1914

According to the postmark, Rachel Ellen "Nellie" Wood Kirby (1862-1954) sent this colorful Thanksgiving postcard from her home in Chicago to her young Wood nephew in Cleveland on Wednesday, November 25, 1914. 

He was nine that year, and he also received penny postal greetings for Thanksgiving from his first cousins in Toledo, Ohio.

Dear readers, I wish you and your families a most happy and very healthy Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 22, 2022

Thanksgiving Week Weddings in the Big Apple

More than a few ancestors in my family tree celebrated a Thanksgiving week wedding during the first half of the twentieth century. 

All married in New York City, and nearly all of the couples (or their immediate family members) appear in photos from my parents' Thanksgiving weekend wedding.

In 1916, maternal cousin Jennie Mandel married Isidore Hartfield. They had two children, although one was born so prematurely that she sadly lived only two days. This couple was at my parents' wedding!

In 1917, paternal cousin Louis Jacob married Katie Rosenberg on the Saturday of Thanksgiving weekend. They were wed in Brooklyn, New York and never left the borough, where they raised their daughter. 

In 1935, maternal cousin Ernest Roth married Fay Barth on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. They had two children together. Ernest's older sister Margaret was at my parents' wedding!

In 1940, my maternal uncle Fred Shaw married Daisy Ida Katz on Thanksgiving Day. They had two children (my first cousins). Of course this aunt and uncle attended my parents' wedding! 

In 1945, my paternal 1c1r Norma Berg married Allen Mador on Thanksgiving weekend. This couple was at my parents' wedding! 

In 1946, Mom (Daisy Schwartz) and Dad (Harold Burk) were married on Thanksgiving weekend at the Hotel McAlpin in New York City. The photo at top, taken just before the ceremony, shows L to R: mother of the bride Hermina Farkas Schwartz; maid of honor Dorothy Schwartz; and the bride, in her glittery gold lame wedding dress.

Thinking of these ancestral couples with affection and remembering their happy wedding days during this Thanksgiving week! 

Friday, November 18, 2022

Fun Portraits via MyHeritage AI Time Machine

My Heritage has a fun new feature and for a limited time it's free to all. No subscription needed!

Just upload at least 10 personal photos of yourself, and the AI Time Machine turns them into, well, take a look at these examples. 

Above, me as a gentle pirate, not sending anyone across the gangplank. LOL.

Below, I'm some kind of Egyptian queen, then below that, a 1930s English lady ready for a hike across the moors. I'm using some of these as my social media profile photos, they're so much fun.

In the company's words:

With the AI Time Machine™, you can see yourself as an Egyptian pharaoh, a medieval knight or a Viking, a 19th-century lord or lady, and much more, in just a few clicks! Watch this 30-second video to see how it works.

Go ahead and give this a try for free here. It's a hoot! Thank you to My Heritage for this new "time travel" feature.

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Two Cenotaphs for Arthur Albert Slatter

Among my husband's ancestors, the men of the Slatter family have a tradition of military service. 

Hubby's Whitechapel-born grandmother, Mary Slatter Wood (1869-1925), was the youngest sister of three boys who entered the British military as preteens and grew up to become well-respected military bandmasters in Canada: John Daniel Slatter, Henry Arthur Slatter, and Albert William Slatter. In turn, at least one of the sons of each man went into the military, as well.

Henry Arthur Slatter's oldest son, Arthur Albert Slatter, was born on July 2, 1887 in London, England. He enlisted in the Royal Fusiliers in 1902 and served out his enlistment period by 1914. He then moved to Vancouver, Canada, where his parents had moved. As World War I raged on, Arthur signed up in May of 1915 to serve with the Canadian Overseas Expeditionary Forces. 

Soon Arthur rejoined the Royal Fusiliers and went into battle in Western Europe. Sad to say, he was killed in action on May 20, 1917, before his 30th birthday. 

Now Lance Serjeant Arthur A. Slatter's name is listed among the fallen on the World War I Arras Memorial, including a separate Find a Grave memorial page (see image at top). This is a cenotaph because, as the note on the page indicates, it's not the actual burial site.

Turns out, this is not the only cenotaph where Arthur was memorialized. His parents later put Arthur's name on their joint gravestone in Mountain View Cemetery, Vancouver, Canada.

In writing and reviewing bite-sized bios as part of my #NaGenWriMo initiative during November, I discovered a broken link to Arthur's second cenotaph--the gravestone in Mountain View Cemetery. 

Now I've corrected the link on both of Arthur's parents' Find a Grave memorial pages and will put it into their bite-sized bios on WikiTree, MyHeritage, and other sites, to be sure anyone who wants to view the stone can easily do so.

Tombstones is this week's #52Ancestors prompt by Amy Johnson Crow.

Monday, November 14, 2022

Going Beyond Names and Dates with NaGenWriMo

I'm writing and posting ancestor bios from my family tree and my husband's tree to various genealogy sites as I participate in #NaGenWriMo, National Genealogy Writing Month. 

Without my ancestors, I wouldn't be here. I'm thankful in this month of Thanksgiving to be able to honor their memory with bios, so they won't be forgotten in the future.

Already this month, I've posted or revised bios for more than 30 ancestors. Most recently, I enriched the bite-sized bio of my great aunt Dora Lillie Mahler (1894-1950) on WikiTree, posted the bio on MyHeritage, and called the New York cemetery where she's buried to ask for specifics on her plot location--so I could add the details to Dora's Find a Grave memorial page and her Ancestry profile. 

More Mahler and Jacobs bios (relatives and in-laws) are in my plans for the coming week. These ancestors are from my father's side of the family tree. Today I wrote a bio about Flora Jacobs (1890-1923), the third daughter of Joseph Jacobs and Eva Michalovsky to pass away young, unfortunately.

Even bios that are only narratives flowing together data from Census and vital records, with residence and occupation and birth place/death place, birth order, and other details, help bring ancestors alive. If I can add photos (such as this touching gravestone), even better.

More bios to come.

Friday, November 11, 2022

Saluting Veterans with Fold3 Memorial Pages and More

I've been creating or improving memorial pages on, with the goal of information about military veterans in my and my husband's family trees. Above you see the memorials as I bookmarked them on Fold3, for easy access. 

In hubby's tree, I've memorialized Union soldiers from the US Civil War, such as John W. Larimer. Also I've memorialized World War I and World War II veterans in his tree, including Captain John Daniel Slatter.

In my tree, I've memorialized World War I veterans such as Marine Cpl. Frank Maurice Jacobs, who lost a leg in battle. Also World War II veterans such as Sgt. Dorothy H. Schwartz, a WAC who served overseas.

I'm adding to these memorial pages and establishing new pages during NaGenWriMo month in November, just one way of honoring their service and sacrifices with Veteran's Day in mind. 

To learn more about memorial pages on Fold3, take a look at the help pages here. Tip: These memorials can be linked to your Ancestry tree as well.

Also, after reading Diana Bryan Quinn's blog post about the Military Women's Memorial, I registered my aunt, Sgt. Schwartz, so her WAC military service during WWII will be in their records in time for Veteran's Day 2022. 

Thursday, November 10, 2022

Go Ahead and Save My Stuff to Your Tree

Yes, I've spent 24 years researching ancestors on my family tree and my husband's family tree. Yes, I've spent thousands of dollars ordering vital records from both sides of the Atlantic. 

Yes, I want you to take anything and everything connected to my public family trees and add that stuff to your own tree if we have mutual ancestors. That's why I shared all those things publicly. 

Genealogical clues and cousin bait on my trees

These items are great genealogical clues, and they're also great cousin bait. So go ahead and save to your tree! 

As shown above, 20 members of Ancestry have saved the unique handwritten version of family history jotted down by my husband's grandfather, Brice Larimer McClure (1878-1970). These people were his relatives, and his notes have been fantastic clues for further investigation. Some of the members who saved this to their family tree have been in touch with me to exchange additional information, including a few who are DNA matches with my husband. 

Cousin bait, not just genealogical clues. 

LOCKSS vs "my tree"

I share widely because of LOCKSS: lots of copies keep stuff safe for today and tomorrow. 

I recognize that some people are unhappy when their trees are copied and their materials used without attribution. They've done a lot of work and they would at least like to be recognized for that work when someone else copies from a public tree. Although I certainly understand and respect this perspective, it's not my approach.

When I started on my genealogy journey in 1998, many people kindly shared info with me. They gave me a head-start. Now I'm paying it forward and looking ahead with LOCKSS. 

If I don't want something copied (such as personal photos), I don't post that stuff these days. On the family photos I do post online, I've been adding the name of the person, dates if known, and then "Courtesy ___ Family" to clarify the source (as on this photo of my great uncle, which I posted on WikiTree).

The more people who have ancestor names and supporting materials on their trees, the less likely these ancestors will be forgotten in the decades to come. I want my research to be available long after the distant day when I join my ancestors, not just in the hands of my family but more widely. 

This is why I post trees on multiple sites (WikiTree, Ancestry, MyHeritage, and so on) and add to the FamilySearch tree. I also have heirs on both sides of the tree who will become custodians of my genealogy collection in the future.

What will happen to your family history? Are you taking steps now to keep your genealogy, stories, and materials safe in the years to come?


For ideas on how to plan ahead, please see my popular book, Planning a Future for Your Family's Past, available from and from Amazon US/Canada/UK/Europe. If you're on Kindle Unltd, you can read the ebook for free!

Tuesday, November 8, 2022

Genealogical Corrections Are Good Practice, Not BSOs

As I participate in NaGenWriMo and write family history this month, I have multiple tabs open on my browser: my family trees (Ancestry, MyHeritage, WikiTree, FamilySearch), plus my blog, and Find a Grave.

Ordinarily, I would make a note of any intriguing clues discovered as I write, and keep going with my project, not to be derailed by a bright shiny object (BSO). 

But when I see an error that I can help correct, it's not a bright shiny object but an opportunity to follow good genealogical practice. For the sake of other researchers and family historians, I don't want inaccurate info to be perpetuated. 

Take the Find a Grave memorial page at top. Poor ole George is one of a series of Georges in multiple generations of my husband's Wood family. 

Now I don't know who linked the family members on George's memorial page, but one is incorrect. 

By reading the dates and not just the names, the error jumps out! Was the mother really born two years after the son?? The mother who was linked belongs to another George in another generation, I recognized after a moment.

I immediately sent a correction to the manager of this memorial page, providing the actual mother's memorial number. Within three hours, the correction was online. 

It's only the first week of my NaGenWriMo quest. What other errors will I notice? 

Sunday, November 6, 2022

NaGenWriMo Continues

November is the time for NaGenWriMo--National Genealogy Writing Month. It's not too late to participate! 

Already this month, I've written bite-sized bios of 14 ancestors on my husband's family tree. I'll finish his great aunts and great uncles, then move on to write about my grandparents' siblings--which will keep me busy since they each had many sisters and brothers.

Focusing on one branch at a time allows me to see these people in context and proceed systematically. As I write, I'm making tiny corrections and adding new research to my trees, plus I'm improving or adding Find a Grave memorials. 

Even those who died young can be memorialized with brief bios. I'm writing about the child's position in birth order, names of parents, birth place, any Census or baptism mention, illness, cause of death if known, burial place, any other details.

By posting ancestor bios in multiple places online, I want to keep as much family history as possible from being lost in the decades to come. Anything I write during November is more than was available before this year's NaGenWriMo!

Thursday, November 3, 2022

Friday and Saturday: WikiTree Symposium and WikiTree Day

On November 4 and 5, you're invited to hours and hours of free genealogy talks celebrating WikiTree's 14th anniversary. You can attend any or all sessions and learn from the experts!

Two sessions not to miss are the panel discussions about the future of genealogy with Eowyn Langholf (facilitator), Chris Whitten, Mags Gaulden, Daniel Loftus, Rob Warthen, Roberta Estes and Amy Johnson Crow. Also panel discussion with Eowyn facilitating and panelists Mags Gaulden, Jen Baldwin, LaBrenda Garrett-Nelson, Kathryn Lake Hogan, and Thomas MacEntee.

You can join in some fun activities, including Bingo, trivia, and more. 

It's an honor to be speaking during the November 4th Symposium, at 10 am.

My talk, "Genealogical Clues and Cousin Bait on Find a Grave," was presented live and then available for 30 days on YouTube, where nearly 800 people viewed it.

Thank you to WikiTree!

Tuesday, November 1, 2022

November Is NaGenWriMo Time

A few years ago, my husband participated in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), writing fiction every day during November. The idea was to set goals, and make the time to write consistently throughout the month. He found the structure helpful and motivating. 

This year, I'm participating in NaGenWriMo, which stands for National Genealogy Writing Month. Taralyn Parker Pope (@KeepMovingTara on Twitter) is giving this a social media push and I'm jumping on the bandwagon! 

Today is the kickoff. 

My goal is to write and post bite-sized bios of more ancestors on my family tree and my husband's family tree. I've already completed and posted bios for nearly all of the ancestors in our direct lines: parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, and some great-greats. 

Now I'm branching out [pun intended] to write bios for aunts, uncles, and cousins in multiple generations--including spouses and partners, including infants who died young. 

I'll be posting the bios on sites like Family Search, Find a Grave, WikiTree, My Heritage, and so on. 

In the process, I'm sure I'll notice gaps in my knowledge of an ancestor and need to do a bit of additional research and attach sources before polishing a bio. That's great! 

But my main focus in November will be writing family history that I haven't written before and sharing widely because LOTS OF COPIES KEEP STUFF SAFE

Tuesday, day #1 of NaGenWriMo, I wrote about my hubby's great aunts and great uncles, including Carrie E. Steiner Traxler (1870-1963) and her husband John Newtown Traxler (1862-1924). 

On day #2, I wrote about two other Steiner ancestors, Etta Blanche Steiner Rhuark (1864-1956) and Minnie Estella Steiner Halbedel (1867-1947), and their husbands. Also I wrote about Lola A. McClure Lower (1877-1948) and her husband, Edward A. Lower (1873-1920).

On day #3, I wrote briefly about milliner Lucille Ethel McClure De Velde (1880-1926) and her husband, John Everett De Velde (1874-1947), a plumber. Also I added a memorial page for him on Find a Grave, based on the burial place listed on his death cert.

On day #4, after participating in the WikiTree Symposium, I wrote about Hugh Benjamin McClure (1882-1960) and his first wife, Olivette Georgianna Van Roe McClure (1885-1905). Next will be Hugh's second wife.

On day #5, while watching WikiTree Day festivities, I wrote about Rebekah V. Wilt McClure (1896-1975), the second of Hugh Benjamin McClure. Now moving on to siblings of hubby's other grandfather, Edgar James Wood.

On day #6, I wrote about Lucy Maria Kize Wood (1851-70) and her brother Alfred Olando Wood (1855-1895), and will continue with more of their Wood siblings. 

Day #7: Wrote about Francis "Frank" Ellery Wood (1857-1933) and his wife, Louisa Mary Schultz Wood (1860-1948), and continued with their descendants, partly based on genealogy researched by a Wood cousin and supplemented with additional details. Also corrected Find a Grave info and located vital records for some of the Wood ancestors. 

Day #8: Wrote and posted sad story of Robert Orrin Wood (1873-1933), who died of myocarditis in the Toledo State Hospital for the Insane. While hospitalized from 1925-1933, one of his children was placed in the Institute for the Feebleminded in Columbus, Ohio, where she remained for the rest of her life. The other two children were taken in by the Lutheran Orphans' Home until they were of age to work. One grew up to be a nurse, the other worked for an oil refinery for his entire career. Also finished other siblings in the Wood line, now ready to begin working on my grandparents' siblings on day #9.

Day #9: Wrote about my great uncle, Lithuanian-born Abraham Berk (1877-1962) and his English wife Anna, who crossed the pond to settle in Montreal and raise their family. Then I wrote about Abraham's sister Jennie Birk and her husband, Paul Salkowitz, who operated a citrus grove in Florida during the late 1940s/early 1950s.

Day #10: Wrote about Matel Max Birk (1892-1953), one of my grandpa's brothers, and about Matel's wife Rebecca. He was a jeweler, she was a bookkeeper, and they eventually left New York to live close to Matel's sister Jennie in Florida.

Day #11: Wrote about Meyer Berg (1883-1981) and his wife Anna Paris Berg (1888-1981). Meyer was my great uncle and lived for a short time as a boarder in the NYC apartment of his brother's in-laws. 

Day #11: Wrote about g-grandpa Meyer Eliyash Mahler's first marriage/divorce in Riga, Latvia and about his oldest son, Riga-born David Mahler (1882-1964), a black sheep of the family. 

Day #12: Revised bio of g-grandma Tillie Jacobs Mahler, whose exact birth year has long been in doubt. She's my longest-living ancestor, supposedly either 99 or 100 years old when she died in 1952.

Day #13: Revised bio of Tillie's mother, Rachel Shuham Jacobs, who is buried in Mount Zion Cemetery in Queens, NY, where her two children are also buried. 

Day #14: Enriched bio of Flora Jacobs, daughter of Joseph Jacobs & Eva Michalovsky Jacobs, granddaughter of Rachel Shuham Jacobs. She died at age 33, the third daughter of that family to die young. I added a gravestone photo to her bio.

Day #15: Corrected portion of Henry Arthur Slatter's bio on Find a Grave to include current link to photo of his gravestone, which also mentions his wife Alice and their son Arthur A. Slatter, a WWI casualty. Added Alice and Arthur's bios to various sites. The Slatters were part of my husband's family tree.

Day #16: Improving Mahler family bios, including Morris Mahler and his sister Sarah Mahler, who were siblings of my grandmother Henrietta Mahler.

Day #17: Finished Sarah (Sadie) Mahler Smith's biography. Will be documenting the military service of her sons.

Day #18: Wrote about Ida Mahler Volk (1892-1971), who was a favorite sister of my grandma Henrietta, and about Ida's husband Louis.

Day #19: I set up an account at Mastodon where I'll try tooting as so please say hello there! Wrote about my great aunt Mary Mahler Markell and her husband, Joseph A. Markell.

Day #20: More on Mastodon and writing about my uncle and aunt, Fred and Daisy, who were lifelong educators in New York City.

Day #21: Returning to my husband's family, beginning to write bite-sized bio of his Wood uncles.

Day #22: Wrote a blog post about Thanksgiving week weddings in my family tree, saved the info to plan future bite-sized bios. Created a Find a Grave memorial page for a cousin's baby born prematurely in 1924, who sadly died after only two days.

Day #23: Wrote bite-sized bio of Rosalind Ashby Wood, who was married to Theodore William Wood in 1949. 

Day #24: Wrote bite-sized bio of Leona "Lee" Zonna Wallace, my maternal aunt's life partner. Aunt Lee directed the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade for a number of years! Nov 24, 1903 was her birthdate so I wrote her bio on what would have been her 99th birthday.

Day #25: I blogged about Aunt Lee Wallace, an immigrant from Poland who rose through the ranks of Macy's to direct the Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Day #26: I posted bite-sized bios of my great-grandparents, Leni Kunstler Farkas and Moritz Farkas. They were the journey-takers who left Hungary in search of a better life in New York City, after Moritz's harvest failed.

Day #27: I posted grandma & grandpa Schwartz's bios on additional genealogy websites and linked to their Find a Grave memorial pages. Here's Grandma Minnie's memorial page, for instance.

Day #28: Working on bios for Hermina Farkas's siblings and in-laws. Today I wrote and posted bios for Alexander Farkas and his wife, Jennie Katz Farkas. They were active in the Kossuth Society, a benevolent group helping Hungarian immigrants, founded in 1904.

Day #29: Wrote bios for Hermina's brother Bertalan Albert Farkas and his wife, Sadie Sari Klein Farkas, also active in the Kossuth Society. 

Day #30: Finished this month's write-ups with Albert & Sari's son George Eugene Farkas.

Wrapup: I wrote 70 bite-sized bios during the 30 days of #NaGenWriMo! 

Which ancestor(s) will you be writing about in November?

This is my blog post for the Genealogy Blog Party, November, 2022.

Sunday, October 30, 2022

Black Cat, Hat, Jack O'Lantern, and a Broom, 1913


On Oct 28, 1913, Rachel Ellen "Nellie" Wood Lewis Kirby (1864-1954) mailed this Halloween postcard from her home in Chicago, Illinois to her 8-year-old nephew in East Cleveland, Ohio.

By this point in her life, Nellie had experienced many losses. Her first child (Nellie Lucy Blossom Lewis) sadly lived only two months, passing away in December of 1895. Earlier in that same year, her older brother Alfred Olando Wood died (1855-1895) and her younger brother Charles Augustus Wood died (1862-1895). Just two years later, she lost her husband, Walter Alfred Lewis Sr. (1860-1897).

Nellie remarried in 1907, to Samuel Arthur Kirby (1860-1939), and they soon moved to Chicago. Not too long afterward, she began sending holiday and birthday postcards to her Wood nephew in Cleveland, often signing "Aunt Nellie & Uncle Art." 

Unfortunately, Nellie's son Walter A. Lewis Jr. died in 1915, just shy of his 27th birthday. We have no postcards from Nellie after that date--either the cards didn't survive, or Nellie didn't send more. But her nephew treasured the cards from this favorite aunt, and the cards remain in the family to this day, shared among descendants.

Wednesday, October 26, 2022

Old, Handwritten, Detailed--But Accurate?

My hubby is lucky to have originals and copies of handwritten notes by ancestors who were documenting a slice of his family history. Above, part of a multipage manuscript written in 1875 by my husband's 1c4r, Dr. James Anderson Work (1845-1928). A descendant used it when writing the genealogy of the Work family and a genealogy of the intermarried Larimer family. 

This handwritten document has a lot of detail, sometimes even specific dates for births, marriages, and deaths. Certain aspects of these ancestors' lives are described particularly vividly, including the shipwreck of Robert Larimer (1719-1803), my husband's immigrant ancestor who came to the American colonies in about 1741 (according to this note).

Hubby's grandfather Brice Larimer McClure (1878-1970) also left handwritten genealogical notes of his own, including the document shown here. Brice's note begins "I am Brice McClure, son of _________" and goes back to Robert Larimer, the man who left his home in the north of Ireland and came to America "in 1740," and married "1741 or 1742," according to Brice's note. 

The two handwritten family histories concur on many key points but differ on others, including the year Robert Larimer arrived in America, the maiden name of his wife, and the year of his death. 

Since I posted Brice's handwritten note on Ancestry more than a decade ago, 170 other users have saved it to their family trees. Understandably, since solid genealogical documentation is scarce for these ancestors at that time and place. 

Still, I view these notes as clues, only starting points for research. They offer a decent outline of the family tree, but too many details are missing or inconsistent. Remember, Dr. Work wrote in 1875 about ancestors born more than 150 years earlier. Brice McClure wrote in the 1940s about ancestors born more than 200 years earlier. 

If the notes had been contemporaneous with the events (written close to the time when the ancestor arrived in America, for instance, or started a family), I would have more confidence in the content.

Much as I appreciate and enjoy these handwritten notes, I hope my ongoing research will uncover additional sources to verify more names, dates, and stories.

What are your thoughts about handwritten family history notes like these?

Sunday, October 23, 2022

Celebrating WikiTree's 14th Anniversary


WikiTree is throwing an anniversary party and all are invited to learn more about genealogy and family history topics--for free!

The anniversary is on Saturday, November 5 but the celebration begins on Friday, November 4. Lots of well-known speakers are on the schedule, plus trivia, door prizes, exhibitors, and more.

If you can't attend live, the videos will be available for 30 days so mark your calendar for this educational celebration.

Genealogy clues and cousin bait on Find a Grave

I'm honored to participate as a speaker on November 4 at 10 am. My topic is "Genealogy clues and cousin bait on Find a Grave."

Above, a little preview from my talk. Imagine you're researching on Ancestry or Family Search and you find summaries of Find a Grave records much like those shown here (my ancestor on left, hubby's ancestor on the right). 

Notice that both mention a biography on the memorial page. One mentions a photo. Very possibly cousin bait? Definitely worth checking out! I'll discuss these tips and more on November 4. Hope to see you then!

Tuesday, October 18, 2022

Share It, Link It, or Lose It!


Although I've blogged often about my maternal Auntie (Dorothy H. Schwartz, 1919-2001), I'm nearly finished with a linking project to share a key element of her life. 

Sgt. Dorothy Schwartz served with the US Women's Army Corps during WWII, earning the Bronze Star for her contributions to the war effort and serving as historian of her WAC unit. She went on to a successful career as a high school teacher of typing and stenography. 

Donating artifacts and ancestor info

Since Dorothy had no descendants, my sister and I donated her WAC memorabilia to the US Army Women's Museum, with a detailed biography and an original copy of the WAC history she wrote. 

The museum is keenly interested in receiving artifacts, oral histories, and biographical information about women who have served in the Army. Sis and I believe this is the best possible home for our aunt's materials, because these things (and her life story) will be preserved and archived for the future.*

Happily, the WAC history has been digitized and is now available at HathiTrust for anyone to read or browse. The front cover is shown above. Want to take a peek inside? Here's the link.

Posting photos and links 

To be sure this important wartime aspect of my aunt's life isn't entirely lost as the years pass, I'm posting the history's cover and a link to the digitized book on multiple genealogy-related sites. 

Above, the cover is now the main photo on my aunt's MyHeritage profile, and the link is on her bio.

At left, I posted the book cover (and other photos) on Find a Grave, with a link. 

Below, the book cover is one of a variety of wartime images I posted on her Fold3 memorial page. 

The Fold3 page is also linked to Dorothy's profile on Ancestry. 

In addition, the cover and a link is on Dorothy's WikiTree profile page. 

Lots of posts and lots of links will help keep alive the memory of Sgt. Schwartz and her WAC service.

This is my week 42 post for #52Ancestors, following Amy Johnson Crow's theme of "lost."

*I explain the why and how of donating family history artifacts in my book, Planning a Future for Your Family's Past.