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.