Tuesday, August 30, 2022

Lots of Space to Color in Ancestor Coloring Book

Late last year, a new twig became part of my family tree!

Now that this young one can almost hold a crayon, I created an updated ancestor and family coloring book especially for him.

In addition to showing his grandparents, great-grands, great-great grands, and great-great-great grands, I included contemporary photos of his parents, aunts, uncles, and cousins.

I've also begun adding a year to the caption when I know the date of an ancestor or family photo, as shown in this sample page.

There's lots of free space on the page and on the photo for the little one to creatively color or scribble.

It's fun and easy to make an ancestor coloring book!

To learn more, watch this brief how-to video I recorded with Jeanette Sheliga for the 4th anniversary of the Virtual Genealogical Association.

"Free space" is this week's genealogy prompt from Amy Johnson Crow's #52Ancestors challenge.

Saturday, August 27, 2022

Cousin Bait: Fish in Many Ponds

Trying to catch the eye of cousins who are searching online for mutual ancestors, I fish in as many ponds as possible. Anything I post as cousin bait works 24/7, waiting to be found when a possible cousin does a surname search or looks on a genealogy-related website for folks in the family tree.

Above, my Find a Grave memorial for Isaac Larimer Work with bite-sized bio (repurposed and posted to multiple sites when I researched hubby's US Civil War ancestors). Although I can't be 100% sure that Isaac is actually in Nashville National Cemetery, he's listed as being buried there in the US Civil War Roll of Honor (see title page here at right).

Isaac was my hubby's 1c4r. The Find a Grave page was cousin bait after being discovered last week by a descendant of this Union soldier's brother. The cousin contacted me via my Find a Grave profile and now we're exchanging family history photos and more. 

Also last week I was contacted by a 2c2r in my Burk/Mahler/Jacobs family tree, who found his grandfather on my Ancestry public tree. He has photos I've never seen, and I have photos he's never seen. We're sharing info and putting our heads together for further research!

To fish in many ponds, I have trees, memorials, photos, and/or bios on all of the following:

  • Find a Grave
  • Ancestry
  • My Heritage
  • WikiTree
  • Find My Past
  • Fold3
  • FamilySearch
  • Ancestor landing pages of this genealogy blog
It was a great week for genealogy last week, and September will be a terrific month for collaborating on research with these newfound cousins.

Thursday, August 25, 2022

Celebrating My 14th Blogiversary


Fourteen years ago, I began this blog to write about my genealogy adventures and document my discoveries, challenges, do-overs, and brick walls. 

A good number of the nearly 1,600 posts have been about my own family history research and some interesting, puzzling, or revealing findings. I'm truly grateful for the reader comments that have offered fresh ideas and even solved a few mysteries!

Many posts focus on methodology, explaining what I've tried and how well it worked (or not), such as my recent series on accessing and interpreting the 1950 US Census. From time to time, I've also written about family-history concerns such as privacy and family secrets. 

Happily, this blog has been excellent for cousin bait. I've been overjoyed to hear from cousins (mine and hubby's) who get in touch via my blog!

Thank you from the bottom of my heart, dear relatives and dear readers, for being along on this journey. 

Tuesday, August 23, 2022

When Rose Gained, Lost, and Regained US Citizenship


Rose Fishman Poticha (1896-1967) married into a distant branch of my father's family. I was researching her because I wondered whether her family lived near my father's ancestors before all came to America early in the 20th century.

Looking at the timeline of her life, I discovered she was caught up in that unfortunate period when women who married non-US citizens lost their own US citizenship.

Background: the Expatriation Act of 1907

On March 2, 1907, Congress passed the Expatriation Act, which stated that "any American woman who marries a foreigner shall take the nationality of her husband." 

This applied only to women...in fact, men didn't lose their US citizenship if they married a woman who was not a US citizen. (For a more detailed explanation, see the pdf here.)

Note that this act didn't cover just US-born women. Also women who were naturalized US citizens automatically became non-citizens when they married a foreigner. And that's where Rose's story comes into play.

Naturalized under her father's naturalization

Rose Fishman was born in Radomyshl, at the time part of Russia (now part of Ukraine). Her parents, Sam and Bertha Fishman, brought the family to America early in the 20th century. 

Sam Fishman quickly initiated the process of becoming a U.S. citizen, and he was naturalized in February of 1914. Under the citizenship rules of that time, his daughter Rose became a U.S. citizen as well.

Rose loses her citizenship by marrying a non-citizen

Two years later, Rose married Russian-born Harry Poticha, on February 6, 1916, in St. Louis, Missouri. Under the Expatriation Act, Rose lost her US citizenship because her husband was not a US citizen. 

Years later, Harry Poticha did become a naturalized US citizen. But meanwhile, Rose's citizenship situation was addressed by yet another act of Congress.

Background: The Cable Act

Women gained the right to vote in America starting in 1920, and perhaps that contributed to the pressure to change the messy citizenship situation created by the Expatriation Act of 1907.

Representative John Cable introduced the Cable Act of 1922, which was also called (appropriately enough) the Married Women's Independent Nationality Act

Under the Cable Act, women retained their US citizenship if they married a foreign-born man who was eligible for US citizenship, even if not yet a citizen and even if he ultimately didn't naturalize. Women's nationality was somewhat, as the act's title indicates, independent of their spouses' nationality. 

I'm oversimplifying the explanation and terms of this act, but you get the idea. IMHO, I doubt every woman affected by the Expatriation Act was aware she'd lost her US citizenship, just as I suspect these women weren't always sure how to regain their US citizenship. 

Rose regains her citizenship

Decades after Rose lost her US citizenship by marrying Harry Poticha, she petitioned to become a US citizen on her own.

As this image shows, she regained US citizenship on November 16, 1942, 26 years after losing it due to her marriage to someone not a US citizen.

Not unique in my family tree

Rose's situation was NOT unique in my family tree. I had a number of US-born female ancestors who lost their US citizenship when they married men who were not US citizens. But Rose is the only one I've noticed who was first naturalized, then lost her US citizenship by marrying a foreign-born man, then applied for naturalization on her own.

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

Thursday, August 18, 2022

In Memory of Harold D. Burk, World War II Vet and Travel Agent

My Dad, Harold David Burk, was born on September 29, 1909, and died on August 18, 1978, sadly just weeks before his 69th birthday. In loving memory of Dad's life, I'm posting his bite-sized bio here (in addition to posts on Find a Grave, Fold3, Ancestry, and other sites). 

Harry was born in New York City, the second child of Lithuanian-born immigrant Isaac Burk (1882-1943) and Latvian-born immigrant Henrietta
Burk (1881-1954) [source: NYC birth cert].

Growing up, his ambition was to be a travel agent. He spent years learning the travel industry from the ground up in Manhattan, waiting for his big break to become a full-fledged agent.

During World War II, Harry interrupted his career to enlist in the U.S. Army on March 7, 1942 and was discharged on October 4, 1945 [source: Dept. of Veterans Affairs BIRLS death file]. His younger brother Sidney B. Burk (1914-1995) also enlisted and served during WWII. In this photo from the war years, Harry is at left and Sidney at right.

Because Harry had good typing skills, he served as a personnel clerk, Technician 5th grade, in the 3163d Signal Service Company of the U.S. Army Signal Corps. His official designation was Administrative NCO 502 [source: DD-214 discharge papers]. His unit served in Central Europe and Rhineland, maintaining communication lines in support of Allied military efforts [source: DD-214]. Toward the end of the war, Harry and his unit were stationed near Paris, in April 1945.

After his honorable discharge, Harry returned home and married Daisy Schwartz (1919-1981) on November 24, 1946, in New York City [source: NYC marriage cert]. They settled in the Bronx, New York, and raised three children. He founded a successful travel agency, Burk Travel Service, working with his brother in their lobby office at the luxurious Manhattan hotel, the Savoy Plaza [source: business documents].

Harry reluctantly retired after the hotel was torn down in 1965 to make way for construction of the General Motors Building. He died of a heart attack on August 18, 1978 in the Bronx, New York, and is buried in Mount Hebron Cemetery in Flushing, NY [source: NYC death cert].

Remembering Dad and missing him today.

Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Free Ancestor Memorial Pages on Fold3

I'm in the process of setting up or beefing up memorial pages on Fold3.com (owned by Ancestry) for ancestors who were military veterans. Memorial pages can be created for non-veterans--even for special events or organizations--but because Fold3 is heavily focused on military records, I'm prioritizing memorials for ancestors who had military service.

At top is a photo showing thumbnails of the 12 memorial pages I've created for vets in my family tree and my husband's family tree. Some were from the US, some from England, some from Canada. Some served in the US Civil War, some in World War I, some in World War II. But now all are searchable and findable on Fold3!

You don't have to be a Fold3 subscriber--just register for a free account. This will allow you to set up memorials, add bite-sized bios, and upload photos. 

But remember, you won't be able to conduct extensive research unless you subscribe, with the exception of using more than 200 free Fold3 databases.

Fold3 may have already given you a head start by creating a memorial page with your ancestor's name and, possibly, some details about his or her service. I discovered a few of my ancestors already had a memorial page with bare-bones about military service. Then I added a bite-sized bio, photos, etc. 

To start, register for a free account and then go to the "training center" page where you can learn more about memorials. From Stories Behind the Stars, here's a brief video that shows, step by step, how to create a new memorial. 

Just another way to keep our ancestors alive by sharing info on multiple sites.

This is my post for Amy Johnson Crow's #52Ancestors challenge, following this week's theme of service.

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Hidden in Plain Sight

Indexes and transcriptions don't tell the complete story of what's contained in a document. 

The actual document scan often includes interesting details that put a different light on an ancestor's life--hidden in plain sight, available only by looking at the image!

Draft registration reveals unusual occupation

In researching Charles Train Caldwell (1877-1929), my husband's 2c2r, I took a look at the scan of his WWI draft registration card. I can't remember ever seeing one typed before, which caught my eye.

What also caught my eye was the occupation: "prisoner."

Plus this man's signature, which looks as though he can barely write. All of these small clues helped me get a better sense of his life--and motivated me to dig deeper for more information.

Charles had married in 1901 and was the father of two sons. By 1910, he and his wife had divorced. When and why he wound up in prison by the time he was registered for military service in 1918, I don't yet know.

Civil war registration reveals physical condition

Charles's father was Sanford Caldwell (1843-1922). His US Civil War militia registration is on the last line of the above excerpt from an Indiana ledger book.

He's 19 years old, a farmer by occupation, and in the remarks column is a notation about his health: "diseased lungs, ex."

In other words, Sanford was exempt from service because of some sort of problem with his lungs. 

This detail was hidden in plain sight, visible only if I looked at the document rather than simply accepting the basic facts from the transcription.

Sanford's lung problem didn't prevent him from farming, marrying, having children, and living until the age of 79, by the way.

Always look at the original document if the image is available! 

Sunday, August 7, 2022

Mother-Daughter Autograph Books

On this Sentimental Sunday, I'm looking at autograph books from family history.

Nearly 90 years ago, my mother (Daisy Ruth Schwartz, 1919-1981) graduated from junior high school (which was then grades 7, 8, and 9). 

She was 13 years old and moving up to high school for grades 10, 11, and 12.

Mom kept her graduation autograph book in great shape! 

As shown above, she wrote her name, the school number (J.H.S. 60 in the Bronx, New York), the principal's name (Anna V. McCarthy), her graduating teacher (Miss Hammond), and the date of graduation (January 31, 1933). 

A January graduation was the norm then. Mom graduated from high school three years later, in January of 1936.

At right, a page from Mom's autograph book, with a cute rhyme that was still in use decades later. "There are all kinds of ships, wooden ships, and steel ships, but the best ship is friendship." Signed, "your sister grad-u-8, Anna Kratzer." I've been able to find many of these classmates in Mom's high school yearbook, as well.

Although I attended school decades after Mom, my autograph book from grade 6 graduation also included signatures and inscriptions from classmates, some sentimental and some funny. I attended PS 103 in the northern Bronx, NY.

At left, one of my best friends included an affectionate notation based on 2+2=4. This same "equation" appears at least three times in my autograph book!

Another inscription used more than once in my autograph book is..."For dirty people only." Turn the page, and the inscription continues: "Use soap! Happy graduation from ...." (no LOL or emoticons of course)

Best of all, these handwritten messages from the 20th century are well preserved in an archival box and will live on through the 21st century. If future generations can still read basic cursive handwriting, they'll be able to decipher the messages!

This is my post for the September 2022 School Days "Genealogy Blog Party."

Monday, August 1, 2022

Back Up Your Cousin Connections Too

The first of every month is backup day--to be sure my genealogy documents, notes, digitized photos, and everything are kept safe in more than one place. LOCKSS: Lots of copies keep stuff safe.

In addition to automated backups to the cloud every day, I have multiple hard drives with backups, just in case. What about backing up my cousin contacts? For that I created a simple cousin connections document.

As shown in the sample at top, my connections format has three columns: (1) name/relationship, maiden name and/or nickname, (2) all contact info, including social media; and (3) notes, such as clarifying who the person is and when I last was in touch. 

This week, after I spoke with one of my cousins, I jotted a note that we had a conversation, and wrote down the update month/day/year.

For my hubby's cousin connection form, I added the email of a cousin I'm now corresponding with about mutual ancestors. Also noted the update month/day/year.

Both forms are now freshly printed and tucked into my address book as well as in a surname file or two. These forms will refresh my memory and will be useful to the next generation after I join my ancestors in the far future.

And both forms are digitally backed up to my hard drives and in the cloud!

-- Tips from my popular genealogy book, Planning a Future for Your Family's Past, available in ebook and soft cover from Amazon USAmazon UK and Amazon Canada.   Also available in soft cover from the AmericanAncestors.org bookstore and the Newberry Library bookstore!

Thank you to Tamie Dehler, who reported on my book with a glowing review in the July 30th issue of the Tribune-Star, Terre Haute, IN.