Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Surprise! How Floyda Met Brice

As I work on my latest family history photo book about hubby's maternal grandparents, I'm redoing some research and correlating older and newly-found details to tell the story of these ancestors.

Lo and behold, I believe I have solved a long-standing mystery: How did Floyda Mabel Steiner (1878-1948) meet master mechanic Brice Larimer McClure (1878-1948)? They were married on June 10, 1903, in Upper Sandusky, Ohio, where the Steiner family lived. But Brice was from Wabash, Indiana. Until now, my hypothesis was that his work for the railroad industry took him to Upper Sandusky. Turns out, that hypothesis was only partly correct, according to my latest research.

Newspaper social items 

Using newspaper databases, I found Brice mentioned several times in a Huntington, Indiana paper, in columns about current and previous employees of the Erie Railroad. In 1899, several social notes said Brice (living in Huntington) regularly visited his family in his old hometown of Wabash, Indiana. 

In March of 1902, this Huntington newspaper reported: "Brice McClure and Ott Christain, two former Erie machinists, were in the city today from Kokomo." Okay, Brice was no longer living or working in Huntington but he and his associate visited anyway. Seeing friends? Or . . .

Looking for Floyda, I found a social item from Huntington in September of 1902, with the newspaper reporting: "Miss Floyda Steiner, who has been a guest at the F.W. Rhuark home several weeks, returned to her home in Upper Sandusky, Ohio today."  

Key FAN Club link

This rang a bell about Floyda's sister Etta Blanche, married to Erie railroad mechanic Frank W. Rhuark. I went back to the 1900 US Census for the Rhuarks in Huntington, Indiana. They had a roomer with them: Otto Cristman, a machinist just like Frank Rhuark. Just like Brice. Snippet at top shows the Census, names creatively spelled.

In the past, I had no idea who this roomer was...but it's now clear he was a key member of the FAN club: a work associate of both Frank AND Brice. This man was the missing link, a definite connection between Brice and Floyda's family. 

Matchmaker sister and brother-in-law?!

Knowing that Brice and Ott had earlier worked for Erie RR, where Frank worked, and Ott once roomed with the Rhuarks, I conclude that Rhuarks were almost certainly involved in introducing Brice to Floyda, Blanche's sister.

Another reason for this matchmaker activity to occur away from Floyda's hometown is that she divorced her abusive first husband in 1901. Divorce was still uncommon and Floyda's family probably felt she had a better chance of meeting eligible men elsewhere. Thank you, Blanche and Frank, for setting the stage for Floyda and Brice to meet and marry.

"Surprise" is this week's 52 Ancestors genealogy prompt from Amy Johnson Crow. Never give up, and keep redoing your searches because new info becomes available all the time. I sure was surprised and happy to finally solve this family history mystery! 

Sunday, September 24, 2023

Inside My Family History Photo Books

This year I've been making a series of professional photo books as bite-sized family history projects, to be read, spark questions/conversations, and then saved for the future. Above, three from my family...two more are in the works for hubby's family.

Each of my photo books contains 20 pages, plus a glossy front and back cover. The front cover introduces the ancestors and how they are related to our family, plus a sentence or two to intrigue my readers. The covers are colorful and inviting to suggest a lively story inside. 

This is just my approach--yours may be different, depending on your goals and your audience. My goal is to share family history in a conversational way, with affection and an insider's perspective so descendants get to know the people and understand a bit about family dynamics back in the day. 

The interior can be expanded to many more pages but my readers (in the next generation and hopefully generations after that) don't need or want every last detail. If they want, they can take a look at my online trees to get every fact and review every document. 

"Black and white is boring" according to my audience, so every page pops with color, whether it's colorful text, a bright frame surrounding a photo or two-tone hearts or other embellishments. 

Curated content, illustrations and info

I curate the interior content to include basic info, life highlights, family relationships, and interesting stories, liberally illustrated with photos, maps, and snippets of genealogy documents (such as passport photos, ancestor signatures, etc). Inside a typical photo book is:

  • Title page: Eye-catching photo(s) with a brief summary of how my readers are related to these people. I use wording such as..."Minnie and Teddy were the grandparents of X, Y, and Z, the great-grandparents of A, B, C, and D, the great-great grandparents of M, N, and O." Also on the title page, I include a quick overview of the arc of these ancestors' lives, like a story.
  • Pages 2/3: Backstory of one ancestor, such as my grandma Minnie. Usually I begin with when she was born, who her parents were, birth order and siblings, place of birth and what was happening in that place/that family at that time. Any dramatic events are also included (death of a sibling, for instance). This two-page spread covers birth, childhood, and possibly immigration or education. Illustrations may be a map, a childhood photo(s), diploma, passenger manifest, birth record. Not a dry encyclopedia page, but a story.
  • Pages 4/5: Backstory of another ancestor, such as my grandpa Teddy in a two-page spread. If this ancestor's early life intersects with the other ancestor covered in the book, I say where and when. Again, I look for the drama to keep readers turning the pages to find out what happens next. 
  • Pages 6/7/8/9:  Following each ancestor's path from old country to new life in the United States. Occupation, helping family get settled, bringing more relatives along, how the ancestors met and their courtship and wedding. My maternal grandma Minnie and her family rode in a horse-drawn carriage to her wedding, which I noted in one book to bring the scene to life for readers. Minnie's parents were far from rich but they marked the day in style once they accepted her choice of husband (she rejected an arranged marriage). Also I included the bride and groom's signatures from their marriage cert. Not all ancestors could write well, but these two had flowing handwriting.
  • Pages 10 through 15: Adult life/married life of these ancestors. For grandma Minnie and grandpa Teddy, I showed her with her children, described where they lived and the schools where the children were educated (using yearbook photos, autograph books as illustrations). I showed Teddy in his grocery store and told the story of how he was robbed during the Great Depression. Also I explained how the Farkas Family Tree (grandma's side) was founded and what role Teddy and Minnie and their children played in this organization, which lasted from 1933 to 1965. Large photos of big family events, with identification so the names and faces will be remembered. 
  • Pages 16/17: What happened to the siblings/in-laws of these ancestors? In the Minnie/Teddy book, I briefly summarized the lives of their siblings and spouses if any, adding photos with captions so this isn't just a list of names. Each of my books has a couple of pages of "What happened to..." because those folks were part of the family tree, whether they lived close by or far away. 
  • Page 18: My generation: I include photos of me and my Sis with some 1st and 2nd cousins as concrete links between family history of the past and relatives of today. I don't want cousins to be forgotten!
  • Pages 19/20: Timeline of these ancestors' lives, in chronological order, from birth to immigration to marriage to children to later life to death and burial. I include Census years, saying that so-and-so was enumerated as living at ___ with occupation of ___. I might add that "cousin so-and-so was also living here," such as an immigrant cousin enumerated as a boarder. This is where I can mention many events that are "facts" but with a "story" angle. An address with context helps: "Fox Street in the South Bronx, at the time a good neighborhood for raising children." 
Have fun with your family history projects! 

Tuesday, September 19, 2023

Hubby's Ancestors Worked on the Railroad

As I create new family history photo books about my husband's maternal and paternal grandparents/great-grandparents, I'm doing a bit of research to provide historical, social, and economic context for their lives.

Wood carpenters worked for a railroad

Two of my husband's Wood ancestors, father and son carpenters, were employed by a giant railroad in Toledo. In the 1880 city directory, paternal great-grandpa Thomas Haskell Wood (1809-1890) is listed as "coach builder, LS & MS R'y." His son, hubby's great uncle Alfred O. Wood (1855-1895), is listed as "carpenter, LS & MS R'y." Not everyone's occupation was listed with an employer--clearly this employer was important to the economy in Toledo, Ohio.

At top, you can see that Toledo, Ohio was a major center of the Lake Shore & Michigan South Railway (known as the LS&MS). Look at all the railroad lines feeding into it, at the western edge of Lake Erie (red circle). Lots of employment opportunities in a growth industry! This railway system evolved over the years.

McClure ancestors worked for railroads

Other men in hubby's family tree also worked in the railroad industry. According to the 1880 US Census for Wabash, Indiana, my husband's maternal great-grandpa William Madison McClure (1849-1887) worked for a railroad. In the 1900 Census for Wabash, William's son John N. McClure (1840-1919) was enumerated as an engineer for a railroad. 

Another son of William, Brice Larimer McClure (1878-1970), hubby's maternal grandpa, also worked for a railroad, beginning about 1900. Family lore says he was a master mechanic for the Big Four, formed later than LS & MS and focused on travel in Ohio and the midwest.

Brice and his new bride (Floyda Mabel Steiner, 1878-1948), moved to Cleveland, Ohio in the middle of first decade of the 1900s. For at least a decade, they lived fairly close to the railyards there so he could easily commute to work. As a master mechanic with his own tools, he had his pick of jobs and worked in a variety of industries. In fact, he delayed retirement past the age of 65 to work during World War II, when his expertise was important to the war effort.

In my family history photo books, I'm going to summarize this interesting context in a few sentences plus include a map or two to inform descendants of how and where grandparents and great-grandparents made their living back in the day. 

Sunday, September 17, 2023

New Family History Photo Book, New Surname Word Cloud

Working on a new family history photo book for my hubby's side of the family tree, I created this colorful surname word cloud for the back cover. I like to use the free WordClouds site. The bright colors, diverse fonts, and overall shape are intended to catch the attention of my readers, young and old. 

The front cover will have the wedding portraits of my husband's maternal grandparents, Floyda Steiner McClure (1878-1948) and Brice Larimer McClure (1878-1970), the main subjects of this book.

The point of making a professional photo book is that it looks polished and attractive, as well as being sturdy enough to last for a long time, so family history will live on and on. I see these books as worthwhile investments in perpetuating the story of our ancestors...buying on sale or with discounts to keep costs down.

This book, like my earlier photo books, will be heavy on captioned family photos and include cropped scans of a few key documents. Not one of my younger readers will have heard of a delayed birth record--something I hope will intrigue them.

Wednesday, September 13, 2023

Trying Different Archival Photo Albums

This year I've been experimenting with different types of archival photo albums, because I want the next generation to actually browse photos if they get the impulse. Before I join my ancestors, my goal is to caption and store all photos safely and conveniently. 

At top, two albums I'm trying out. At left is the Gaylord Archival Photo Preservation Album, which is actually a binder inside an archival box, easily stacked (it has reinforcing metal corners). At right is the sturdy Pioneer Pocket Photo Album, a tall album designed to stand upright or be stacked flat on a shelf.

I'm a fan of archival boxes in general, because they look neat and keep the contents flat and in good shape. Above, a peek inside the box, showing the three-ring binder and archival sleeves for 3.5" x 5" photos (or smaller sizes). I have dozens of tiny black-and-white photos taken by my late dad-in-law, which will fit in these sleeves and stay put. For caption purposes, I can include notes inside the box. An advantage is that the box will hold many more sleeves to store many more photos, which are doubly safe: inside sleeves and within the archival box. 

Here's a closeup of the Pioneer album, which holds archival sleeves for 4" x 6" photos (or smaller images sizes). I slipped in a few photos as part of my test. The sleeves have space for written captions next to photos, a real plus because I can jot notes as I go. Although these albums are too tall to stand upright on my bookshelf, they can lay flat or be stacked. In my first try, I crammed too many sleeves into the binder and had to order a second binder to hold the overflow (lesson learned). 

My test is a work in progress, and I don't have a clear preference quite yet. Either album format will keep photos in good shape for the future. No matter how you store your family photos, in albums or boxes or binders, I encourage you to think "archival" so the images and captions will be safe for the sake of many generations to come.

Tuesday, September 12, 2023

Leona Walasyk from Lodz Becomes Lee Wallace in Hackensack

Long, long before I came to know her as "Aunt Lee," Leona Z. Wallace (1903-1989) was working hard to get an education, help bring up her two younger brothers, and create a steady path to prosperity for the entire family. 

As shown in the last line of the above 1950 US Census excerpt, Lee was born in Poland. By the 1930s, possibly earlier, Lee had Americanized her name to Wallace, and until I saw the 1950 Census I wasn't sure what her surname used to be. In 1950, she was enumerated as a "head of household" despite living in the same very nice home in Hackensack, New Jersey with her two brothers, Charles Walasyk and Edward Walasyk, who never changed their names.* Correction: They changed their names later in life.

Charles, also enumerated as a head, was married with two children in the household, working as a salesman. In addition, their brother Edward, a water engineer, was staying with them in Hackensack. He was married and actually lived elsewhere with his family, but was enumerated with his siblings on this Census day in 1950. 

My research shows Edward was not born in Poland but actually in New Jersey, as was Charles, so I'm fairly sure none of the Walasyk/Wallace siblings actually spoke with the enumerator in 1950. Talk about prosperity: The spacious Hackensack home where they all lived in 1950 is now updated and worth a pretty penny

Back in 1950, Lee was doing quite well, which you wouldn't know from simply reading her enumerated occupation: "public relations, department store." 

I've written before that Lee headed up the famous, fabulous Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade for a number of years, including 1950. Around this time, my mother's twin sister Dorothy went to work for Macy's and met Lee. The two hit it off, personally and professionally.

Not only did they work on the parade together, they were hired to assist with the annual Barnum Festival in Bridgeport, Connecticut in 1953. In March of that year, the Bridgeport Telegram reported that Miss Lee Wallace had "built up the Macy parade to the biggest balloon parade in the country." The final sentence of the news item reads: "Accompanying Miss Wallace was Miss Dorothy H. Schwartz, her associate." 

My aunt Dorothy Schwartz (1919-2001) soon left the world of parades and publicity to become a high school teacher in the Bronx, driving from New Jersey every work day. I later learned that Lee and Dorothy were savvy with their household finances, being able to afford a brand new car every other year as well as annual summer and winter vacations. Aunt Lee had no trace of an accent, and she never spoke of her past to me, a little girl who appreciated her affection and attention.

This week's #52Ancestors prompt from Amy Johnson Crow is "prosperity."

Friday, September 8, 2023

In Beta at Ancestry: Top Hints Feature

 In beta at Ancestry is a feature called Top Hints, which I'm exploring this week.

The leaf symbol captioned "beta" in the image above is where to click for "top hints for 10 people in your tree." Not every Ancestry member may have this new feature, but it is interesting because it calls attention to people from across the tree, people I may have not worked on recently. I know, I know, hints can be misleading or outright ridiculous. But ya just never know, so I do look now and then. This feature is like a variety-pack of hints from across the tree.

Clicking on the beta leaf brought up the list at right in the image. One name is blank here because it's a living relative. To look at the hints in more detail, click on the down arrow at right of each name. In my first list of hints, all were actual records or indexes, like Census documents, marriage/death indexes, or draft registrations, which I can evaluate individually. No ship illustrations or DNA strands, so far. 

Above, how Ancestry explains and introduces "Top Hints."

For me, Top Hints is something to check first thing in the morning before I dive into an ongoing project, or when I have a spare 10-15 minutes at any point. Take a look and see whether you have this beta feature and how well it works for you.

As you can see from the image at top, I'm also having fun with the new fan feature in Ancestry, which I learned about from a blog post by Diane Henriks. I haven't been able to change the number of generations displayed, so as she says, this feature must still be in beta. I like the suggested ancestors shown in green on the fan, hints that I can review and, mostly, reject unless there's solid evidence to investigate. 

IMHO, I'm the quality assurance person on my family trees, deciding whether to accept or reject any hint after looking at the source's credibility and relevance. Most "possible parent" hints get rejected, but occasionally those with real sources lead me in promising new directions. 

Tuesday, September 5, 2023

Honor Roll: Part 5, Korean War Veterans from Bethlehem, Connecticut

This is my final post transcribing names of military veterans from memorial plaques on the historic green of Bethlehem, Connecticut. The first post in this series explains the purpose of the Honor Roll Project, originated by Heather Wilkinson Rojo and hosted here

Roll of Honor

Dedicated to the men and women of the town of Bethlehem who served their country during the Korean War, June 25, 1950-January 9, 1955 - Erected by the Citizens of Bethlehem, May 30, 1982

Glen C. Adams, Sr.
Richard O. Anderson
Curtiss Bate
Hugh L. Bronson
Raymond W. Brown
Frank Bosko
Robert H. Box
Elbert V. Box
Roger Clark
Frank L. Convard
Dolores A. Dauch
Robert J. Dauch
Edward D. Everitt
Gordon J. Fredsall
Kenneth Harlow
Walter L. Hunt
John T. Knudsen
Sally L. Lorensen
Gerald A. Minor
Patsy Narciso
Marvin Parris
Ralph A. Petruzzi
Vincent J. Skelte
Ernest Sommers
Earle R. Thompson
Calvin C. Wiltshire
Alan J. Woodward

Monday, September 4, 2023

A Family of Tradesmen = My Summer Favorite In-Laws

This summer, my favorite in-laws (in my husband's family tree) are the Cornwell family, a multigenerational family of silversmiths/watchmakers/jewelry store proprietors. 

Asenath Cornwell (1808-1897) married James Larimer (1806-1847), my hubby's 3d great-grand uncle. As I posted a few months ago, Asenath was widowed early and made the bold decision to go to the Gold Rush with her brother, John Cornwell, in 1852. Brother and sister wrote journals of their journey and experiences. The journals are fascinating first-person accounts of that time and place. 

John Cornwell (1812-1883) was a lifelong jeweler, watchmaker, and silversmith. He understood the value of gold and was sorely disappointed not to find very much during his Gold Rush years. No doubt his family was disappointed as well, since his wife and children remained in Athens, Ohio, when he was panning for gold in California. Occasionally John put gold dust into a letter for his wife Ann, but he never struck it rich. 

Returning to Athens in 1856, John opened the jewelry store that successive generations of Cornwell descendants operated until 2019. As shown in the Census lines at top, John's occupation in 1860 was watchmaker, in 1870 it was silver smith, and in 1880 it was jewelry (creatively spelled).

John's son David Coleman Cornwell (1844-1938) served in Company B of the 141st Regt of the Ohio Volunteer Infantry during the US Civil War. After the war, he followed the family trade, becoming a silversmith and jeweler. Retiring in his 60s, David was already twice widowed. 

Still, he couldn't stop thinking about a young lady he used to know from Athens, Ellen Jane Sams (1855-1938). Somehow David tracked her down in Illinois, according to a news report in May of 1909, discovered she too had been widowed, and quickly proposed. They were happily married for 29 years until Ellen's death in 1938. David died just a few months later. 

With colorful stories like these, you can see why the Cornwell in-laws are my summer favorites.

"Tradesman" is Amy Johnson Crow's genealogy prompt for this week in her #52Ancestors series. 

Sunday, September 3, 2023

Honor Roll: Part 4, Vietnam War Veterans from Bethlehem, Connecticut

In this 4th post about military memorials on the green at Bethlehem, Connecticut, I'm transcribing the wording and names of veterans from this stately plaque as part of the Honor Roll Project. My first post explains the overall project. The goal is to transcribe veterans' names and make them more accessible for descendants and relatives who search online. 

Roll of Honor

Dedicated to the young men and women of the community, who by their patriotism and loyalty served God and country during the Viet-Nam War, December 22, 1961-May 7, 1975

Erected by the citizens of Bethlehem, May 30, 1982

Glen B. Adams
J. Rodney Albert
Arthur Banks
Stewart W. Banks
Scott H. Beardsley
John D. Benjamin
Dwight C. Bennett
Charles C. Bock
John A. Bosco, Jr.
Bonita J. Bouffard
Raymond A. Boulanger, Jr.
Roy L. Boulanger
Ronald W. Box
Thomas E. Box
Raymond W. Brown
Walter W. Brutting
David C. Butkus, Sr.
Philip P. Butkus
Raymond T. Butkus
Charles Clifford
Robert Clifford
Anthony Communale
Thomas S. Doran, Jr.
Thomas C. Fitzgerald
Brenda R. Gallop
Edward P. Goodwin
Ronald S. Graves
George S. Haburey
Scott Huber
William Huber
Wright L. Jimmo, Jr.
Richard O. Johnson
James V. Kacerguis
Matthew J. Kacerguis
Peter A. Kacerguis
Ernest T. Kleinheinz, Jr.
David A. Kmetetz
Leland W. Krake III
Thomas S. Krake
Douglas Krantz
Richard Krantz
Paul Maddox
Philip A. Mansfield
Matthew P. March, Jr.
Thomas C. McEvoy
James B. Melesky
Dustin Merrill
James W. Meskun
Gerald E. Meskun
Gearld A. Minor
Michael Mitchell
Justin F. Moore
Edward M. Nelson
David W. Nurnberger
Daniel P. O'Neil
Stephen J. Palauskas
James T. Patterson
Samuel C. Patterson
Kenneth R. Pearsall
Karl G. Pelzer
Thomas Piazza, Jr.
David A. Pierson
Michael J. Petruzzi
John E. Plungis
Gary A. Rand
John J. Rockwell
Randolph L. Richards
Ricky Russell
Anthony M. Satula
Ward M. Sheehan
James T. Shupenis
Gerald C. Stockwell
Jon F. Stockwell
Albert T. Szubka
Daniel P. Tanuis, Sr.
Charles W. Thompson, Jr.
Stephan Trapper
George C. Turner, Jr.
Arthur F. Thorsen
Porter L. Woodcock
Ronald Woodcock

Friday, September 1, 2023

Honor Roll: Part 3, WWII Veterans from Bethlehem, Connecticut

This is Part 3 in my series, photographing and transcribing names of veterans memorialized on plaques gracing the historic town green in Bethlehem, Connecticut. Part 1 explains more about the Honor Roll Project by Heather Wilkinson Rojo. This WWII plaque, unlike any of the previous Bethlehem plaques I transcribed, includes the name of a servicewoman, Ruth H. Goodrich.

Bethlehem WWII veterans plaque

The plaque intro reads:

Erected by the people of the Town of Bethlehem to commemorate the patriotism and loyalty of those who served their country during World War II. Dedicated 1947.

*Peter S. Sproule [star usually indicates war casualty]

Clifford Adams
Leon W. Banks 
Thomas C. Bate, Jr.
Samuel L. Benedict
Elbert V. Box
Ian Braley
John Butkus
John P. Butterly
Cleland E. Dopp
Terrance F. Dowling
Rev. George G. Finlay
Leon J. Grabow
Milton L. Grabow 
Ruth H. Goodrich
Paul L. Johnson
Bryan T. Keilty
John G. Kelly
Mark G. Kitchin
Robert C. Knudsen
Nicholas Krause
Carl A. Lynn
Mahlon A. Lynn
R. Elwood Lynn
Robert W. Lynn
John A. Majauskas
Wesley C. Meskun
Ames T. Minor
Truman S. Minor
George P. Oren
H. Brainard Risley
Allan S. Root
Joseph R. Sabot
Edward J. Skelte
Vincent J. Skelte
Vincent T. Skeltis
William R. Smith Jr.
Joseph A. Stevens
Waldo M. Swinton
Theodore M. Traub
Arnold S. Waldron
Elmer C. Wiltshire
Anthony F. Winslow
Alan J. Woodward
Charles F. Woodward
Earl L. Wooster Jr.
Joseph R. Shupenis

Wednesday, August 30, 2023

Honor Roll: Part 2, War of 1812 Veterans from Bethlehem, Connecticut

In this second part of my series of posts for Heather Wilkinson Rojo's Honor Roll Project, I photographed and transcribed this plaque honoring the military veterans of Bethlehem, Connecticut, who served America during the War of 1812. Part 1 shows veterans of Bethlehem who served in WWI and the US Civil War.

Dedicated to the Men of Bethlehem Who by Their Devotion and Loyalty Preserved Our Country in the War of 1812

Allen James
Amos Baldwin
Eli Barnum
Issac Beebe
Lyman Beecher
Oliver Burton
Daniel Coe
Samuel Church
Austin Canfield
David Fairfield
Ezra French
Benjamin Frisbie
Spencer Gibbs
George Hannah
Austin Hine
Elijah Hine
Talman Hubbell
Abijah Hyde
Levi Jackson
Adam C. Kasson
Horace Kimball
Horatio Kimball
Seymour Knapp
Philo Levenworth
Jabez Lewis
Fred Luddington
Austin Lum
Harmon Munger
Sheldon Price
Freeman Seeley
John N. Seymour
James B. Skidmore
John Smith
Joseph Steele
Jeremiah Stevens
Norman Stone
William R. Williams
Linus Wilcox

Erected by the Citizens of the Town of Bethlehem, 1987

Monday, August 28, 2023

Honor Roll: Veterans from Bethlehem, Connecticut


On a beautiful summer's day, Sis and I visited Veteran's Memorial Park in Bethlehem, Connecticut for a quilt show. During that visit, we photographed a number of dignified plaques remembering local veterans who served their country in the American Revolution, War of 1812, Civil War, WWI, WWII, Korean War, and Vietnam War. 

Honor Roll Project

My photos and transcriptions are part of Heather Wilkinson Rojo's Honor Roll Project. Although she is not actively promoting this project these days, due to lack of interest during the pandemic years, I'm delighted she will add my Bethlehem links to her project page.

The meaning of this project, in Heather's words: "The transcribed names make the soldiers available for search engines, so that descendants and family members can find them on the internet."

This is the first in a multipart series honoring the military veterans of Bethlehem, CT whose names are inscribed on the town's memorial plaques. Part 2 features veterans from the War of 1812. Part 3 features WWII veterans. Part 4 features Vietnam War veterans. Part 5 features Korean War veterans.

Bethlehem Memorial: Civil War and WWI

This plaque reads:

A tribute to the valor of the men of Bethlehem who fought for freedom and humanity 

Civil War, 1861-1865

Frederick Adkins
Joseph Boyce
Gideon D. Crane
William B. Crane
Francis Dugan
John Ferry
George W. Garthwait
James H. Gilbert
Frederick D. Holmes
Daniel Hunt
Alexander Kasson
Edgar N. Kasson
Albert J. Lounsbury
Charles Lynn
Richard Magee
Olin Nash
Dexter Northrop
Horson Northrop
John K. Northrop
Patrick O'Rourke
James Oswald
Timothy C. Spencer
Abram B. Tolles
Philip L. Waldron
George Williams
George A. Wright

World War, 1917-1919

Harry A. Anderson
Herman A. Anderson
Vincent W. Atwood
Clark G. Bennett
Arthur E. Bloss
Elbert H. Box
Howard M. Box
Harry J. Bristol
Edward P. Crane
Leroy A. Fogg
Walter W. Holmes
Harold H. Hoyt
Raymond H. Hurlburt
Frederick C. Judd
Stanley A. Marchukaitis
Harold G. Peterson
Kenneth W. Raymond
LeRoy E. Sanford
William T. Sanford
Jesse E. Smith
William R. Smith
Joseph R. Stevens
Henry C.H. Stewart
Burras C. Traub

Friday, August 25, 2023

Celebrating My 15th Blogiversary

One hot summer night in 2008, I decided to begin blogging about my genealogy adventures. I had been tracing my family's roots for a decade by then. 

What to name my new blog? I remember trying one or two names, but they were already in use by others using the Blogger platform. Then I typed in Climbing My Family Tree and was pleasantly surprised to discover no one else had that blog name (on Blogger). 

Early posts were about questions I was trying to answer and some of the clues I was beginning to find. Soon I was posting about family history artifacts, useful resources, research trips, conference sessions and exhibit halls, mystery photos, cemetery visits, plus lots of unexpected detours and surprise discoveries. 

Best of all, my blog has been terrific cousin bait, bringing me together with some wonderful relatives I didn't even know I had. Whether close or distant, cousins who have gotten in touch have all added to my knowledge of ancestors and our family tree, for which I am grateful.

The WayBack Machine began archiving my blog in the fall of 2011. At that point, I had three badges on my blog plus a "Blogging for Ancestors" widget that used to be a loose connection between genealogy blogs, as shown here.  

By now I've written more than 1700 blog posts about my ancestors and my husband's ancestors. These have served as an ongoing "first draft of family history" as I create projects to preserve my family's past for the sake of future generations. More posts to come as I embark on my Sweet Sixteenth year of blogging. 

With the social media world still in flux due to changes on X/Twitter and other sites, I plan to continue blogging as a way to share family history adventures in my own words, in my own time. Thank you for reading!

Tuesday, August 22, 2023

Are Genealogy Blogs Still Relevant?

Years ago, I followed and browsed hundreds of genealogy blogs each week. Some focused on the blogger's own family's history; some explained technical aspects of genealogy; some discussed researching specific geographic locations or ethnic groups; some examined old family photos; some documented particular cemeteries; some profiled military ancestors; and on and on. 

I didn't read every post, but I skimmed whatever caught my eye and sometimes found myself marveling at somebody's unexpected discovery. Found myself cheering for bloggers who found elusive ancestors, following along as bloggers visited graveyards or ancestral villages in search of new connections, hoped bloggers would finally get their hands on something that confirmed long-held hypotheses. 

From genealogy bloggers, I learned so many new tips and tricks that helped me with specific websites or software or research resources or translation challenges. Along the way, I enjoyed getting a sense of each blogger's personality, interests, and family history background. 

That was then, this is now

Today, after removing bloggers who haven't posted anything at all in 2023, my feed is down to just 45 genealogy blogs--some of which have only a handful of posts so far this year. In addition, I periodically dip into selected blogs written by Geneabloggers members. But here again, some bloggers have ceased posting in recent years or post quite irregularly. 

I know there are bloggers who've transitioned to videos and podcasts rather than writing individual blog posts. Also some have chosen a deep dive into more interactive social media and cut back on blog posts. 

Meanwhile, the world of social media has been fragmented in recent months by the ongoing turmoil on Twitter/X and the emergence of competitors such as Mastodon and BlueSky and Threads and ... [fill in the blank with latest and greatest]. Thankfully, Facebook genealogy groups continue to offer advice and assistance when participants need local knowledge or research suggestions. Although I'm not on Instagram, some genealogy folks love the platform. I'm on Pinterest but only to pin my blog posts. 

Why read? Why blog?

Despite all the alternatives, I believe genealogy blogs are still relevant. In fact, I hope blogging (or family history websites) will be making a comeback. The genealogy community is strong and vibrant and generous with help and ideas. I can't count the number of times I've learned about a new technique or specialized resource from a blogger, and as a result, made a fresh discovery or gained fresh insight. 

With a genealogy blog, I can write what I like, whenever I feel like writing, and it's available for you whenever you feel like reading. Nobody is restricting the length of my blog posts or the topics or how many posts I can write. Nobody is throttling your ability to follow my blog or read any post. I get blogging ideas from my own research, from the brickwalls I face or the discoveries I make, from posts by other bloggers, from comments by readers, and from prompts such as the #52Ancestors series from Amy Johnson Crow.

As I've said in the past, for privacy reasons, I don't name living relatives. If I want to mention a relative who's alive and kicking, I might refer to "Cousin B" or "Philly Cuz." My personal choice is to avoid posting family history info that might cause distress or harm to someone still living. So far as I know, there are no bigamists or murderers in my family tree, but if I discovered one and a descendant was still alive, I wouldn't blog about that situation. 

And, as a reader pointed out in a comment, blogs are excellent cousin bait, today and tomorrow. Posts are available 24/7 whenever anyone is searching for a surname or ancestral town that I've mentioned at any point in the past.

I've been on this genealogy journey for 25 years, and blogging about it for nearly 16 years (my Sweet Sixteen blogiversary is in a few days). If you're a genealogy blogger, I thank you for helping me along on this journey and inspiring me to keep digging. If you're not blogging, maybe this is a good time to begin?

Sunday, August 13, 2023

Dating Family Photos and Investigating Photographers

Most of the old family photos I inherited had no dates but had some clues to help me determine when, not just who. Now MyHeritage had introduced its new PhotoDater feature, which provides an estimated date as a starting point if we need clues. IMHO, it's a very exciting feature that is well worth taking for a spin.

Dates plus/minus 5 years

The first photo I tried was of my Dad, Harold Burk (1909-1978), holding his elementary school diploma after graduating from PS 171 in East Harlem, NYC. (Today, that school is Patrick Henry Elementary School.) Since I have Dad's diploma, I know the exact date of graduation, even though there is no year noted on the photo itself. In less than a minute after I uploaded this photo, MyHeritage's PhotoDater suggested an estimated date of 1923. Right on the nose! 

Although I don't expect PhotoDater to pinpoint the exact year for every photo, this is a quick and easy way to estimate the dates of mystery photos, in particular. Be aware that the feature typically provides a date that is plus or minus 5 years. Also, the technology intended to date photos taken between 1860 and 1990.

Of course, nothing replaces the in-depth expertise and insights of professionals like Maureen Taylor, the Photo Detective and Sherlock Cohn, the Photo Genealogist. But estimating the date of a family history photo via PhotoDater can at least put me on track toward more complete identification. I highly recommend this new feature and suggest you give it a try! For more info, see the MyHeritage blog here.

Researching a photographer?

Since all four of my immigrant grandparents settled in New York City, I was pleased to discover the NYC Public Library's Photographers' Identities Catalog. This database isn't confined to the Big Apple, but it does have many of the photographers who snapped my ancestors' posed portraits.

Above, I filtered my catalog search by surname of the photographer, Beldegreen. Two are in the catalog--including the one I sought, Gustave Beldegreen. 

Below, when I clicked on Gustave Beldegreen in the results, I got this page, showing that some of his photos are in the collection of the Museum of Jewish Heritage (link also), sources of info (links), and birth/death dates, studio locations. I can compare the studio locations with the home addresses of my ancestors to narrow down the date/place if the photographer's full info is missing from an old photo. Try this with one of the photographers from an old family photo in your collection! Again, the link to the catalog is here.

ONE MORE LINK! Thanks to a kind geneadon on Mastodon, here's a link to Langdon's List of US photographers active in the 19th and 20th centuries. My guy Beldegreen is on the list, having been named in a city directory. Another resource new to me!

Thursday, August 10, 2023

WikiTree Day Celebrations, Nov 3-5

WikiTree Day Symposium imageWikiTree, the free site where participants add ancestors to build one family tree, is celebrating its 15th anniversary in early November. 

Everyone is invited to enjoy two days of free virtual genealogy presentations plus trivia quizzes, prizes, and more. 

I'm one of two dozen speakers speaking on Friday, November 3 and Saturday, November 4. Symposium speakers and topics are listed here. The virtual celebration continues on Sunday, November 5, with panel discussions, exploration of AI and genealogy, and of course a party is on the schedule, as shown here.

My 15-minute talk, scheduled for 5 pm Eastern time on November 3, is: 

Keep Your Family's History Safe for the Future! At times, the safest place for some family history items may be in the collection of a museum, library, archive, genealogical society, or another institution. Learn about the process for donating an ancestral artifact, from investigating potential repositories and understanding their collection priorities to documenting your item's provenance, approaching curators, receiving approval to donate, and signing a deed of gift transferring ownership to the institution. 

Here's where to register for WikiTree Day (did I mention this virtual content is entirely free?!). Mark your calendar to attend any or all events in November. See you then! 

Tuesday, August 8, 2023

Work, Larimer, and Short Family Reunions, 1900-1920

On and off for two decades, my husband's Larimer ancestors gathered with their Work and Short cousins/in-laws/friends for reunions in and around Elkhart, Indiana. Cynthia H. Larimer (1814-1882) married Abel Everett Work (1815-1898) in Fairfield County, Ohio, in 1836, and her niece Margaret Larimer (1825-1877) married Thomas Short (1820-1885) in Elkhart County, Indiana in 1842. Each of the news items reporting on these reunions added a few clues to help me identify children, grandchildren, and in-laws as I researched relationships, full names, and dates for this part of the family tree.

The three families of Work, Larimer, and Short "are bound by ties of blood and early friendships," as reported in the reunion coverage by the Elkhart Daily Review of June 26, 1901. This news item listed some of the 110 reunion attendees, including the "dean of the party," my hubby's 2d great-grandpa, Brice Larimer (1819-1906), the oldest participant. At this time, the three families had an actual organization, with elected officers who planned the reunions in advance.

Some creative math is used to count the number of annual reunions held. The 1901 news item said the Work, Larimer, and Short families were holding their second annual reunion. When the same newspaper covered the three-family reunion in 1903, it was called the fifth annual reunion. 😉

A scaled-down reunion was held in 1904, according to this same newspaper, with only Work relatives in attendance instead of all three families being represented. In 1906, the Elkhart Weekly Review reported that up to 50 attendees were expected at a three-family reunion in August. 

Finally, the Elkhart Truth of May 20, 1920 described a Work-Larimer reunion held by "descendants of Abel Everett Work and Isaac Larimer." The Work, Larimer, and Short branches of the family tree were all represented. Maybe that was the last reunion, because I haven't found further news coverage. I'm grateful for any news coverage at all, adding to the clues as I check every name, age, family connection, and location.

To commemorate these intertwined families, including surnames of earlier and later generations, I created the colorful word cloud at top. Here's the free site I used.

"Reunion" is this week's genealogy prompt for #52Ancestors, from Amy Johnson Crow. 

Friday, August 4, 2023

How My Immigrant Grandparents Helped Other Immigrants in NYC

My maternal grandparents were immigrants from Hungary who came through Ellis Island as teenagers, years before they met each other. 

Theodore "Teddy" Schwartz arrived alone in March of 1901, at age 14, and parlayed his flair for languages into a job as runner for the steamship lines. Hermina "Minnie" Farkas arrived with three siblings in November of 1901, age 15, joining her parents who had earlier come to New York City. She sewed silk ties to earn money for the household while learning English at night classes.

Leaders in the Kossuth Ferencz Association

Minnie, Teddy, and some of their siblings were active in the Kossuth Ferencz Literary, Sick & Benevolent Association, from its founding in 1904 in New York City. My grandparents were still teenagers and had only lived in the Big Apple for a few years at that time, and they barely had two nickels to rub together, yet they jumped right into a new group to help other Hungarian immigrants get a fresh start. 

Happily, I have a 1909 souvenir booklet for the Kossuth Association's fifth anniversary, in Hungarian, that describes the group and its accomplishments. I typed a few words into Google Translate for quick translations, but I really wanted more specifics about what the Kossuth Association did for immigrants.

Google Lens helps with translation

Yesterday I tried Google Lens on my iPad, which involves photographing the page or a few sentences and then having the app translate what it "reads." I'm not a tech wizard, so for more about the mechanics, please do an online search for articles or videos like this one. Google Lens is compatible with both Apple and Android devices.

At top, a side-by-side comparison of the 1909 financial report in Hungarian (original) and English (via Google Lens). This quick-and-dirty translation is far from perfect, I'm well aware, but it does suggest how the Kossuth Association actually served immigrants. 

Services for immigrants

The association had a good deal of money in the bank ($436 in 1909 is worth $14,600 today). It spent the money on renting a ballroom for its big yearend fundraiser, buying a library cabinet and books, badges for its members, and 11 medals to award to officers ("medals" not properly translated by Google Lens, but I checked with Google Translate). 

The accounting also shows a small advance payment to a cemetery--part of the association's affordable burial services for members. Later, the group purchased a large plot at Mt. Hebron Cemetery in Queens, New York, where nearly 600 members and their families are buried (including my immigrant grandparents). 

What this financial accounting doesn't show is that the association had a long-time physician, Dr. B. Hohenberg, to help members. So as the full association name indicates, it provided literary services (books), medical aid (a physician's care), burial services plus even more by partnering with other agencies and service groups in the area.

Over the years, my Grandpa Teddy served multiple terms as Kossuth's treasurer. My Grandma Minnie's brothers Alex and Albert served multiple terms as president and in other official positions. Both Alex and Albert met their wives through Kossuth activities. Alex and his wife Jennie were movers and shakers on the cemetery committee. Of course I've described their dedication to volunteerism in my most recent family history photo book, about my Farkas and Schwartz ancestors. This is one way I'm keeping family history alive for future generations. 

Tuesday, August 1, 2023

Backup Day: LOCKSS and Paperless Genealogy

LOCKSS = Lots of copies keeps stuff safe! Academics came up with this phrase to describe a systematic process of digitizing and securing multiple copies of key data, at a decentralized level.

For genealogists, this translates into:

  • Back up often (ideally, every day if you make significant changes to files on your computer - preferably, once a week or at a bare minimum, once a month).
  • Use multiple methods of backing up (as shown above, this can include external hard drives, USB drives, plus cloud backups and other methods--not just in your home but also externally just in case).
  • Share data with your family (digitally, with paper, or both - decentralizing).
  • Share data, with privacy in mind, on selected genealogy sites (I use WikiTree, Ancestry, MyHeritage, FindMyPast, Find a Grave, and more).
  • If you've digitized old family photos, be sure those files are secure in more than one place (decentralizing).
And please, don't go entirely paperless. Original documents and photos, in particular, are very important for today and tomorrow, but printouts of stuff downloaded from online sources can be recycled or shredded IMHO. Here's one approach.

Finally, remember to test and replace your backup hardware every so often. Hard drives don't last forever...I've upgraded one of my hard drives since taking the photo at top. As I say in my book, Planning a Future for Your Family's Past, it's money well spent when we preserve digitized files and images from our family's past so they won't be lost and can be shared with future generations in the coming years.

Thursday, July 27, 2023

When Grandpa Teddy Made News in 1937

A few years after I began my genealogy journey, I used my local library's access to the New York Times historical database to research my parents and grandparents. Since many ancestors lived and worked in the New York City area, I expected to find mainly birth/marriage/death notices and an occasional mention of a business or a graduation.

What a jolt to find a news item about an armed robbery spree on the night of December 16, 1937. The first store robbed was owned by my grandpa, Theodore Schwartz (1887-1965). Here's what the reporter wrote:

Band Robs 3 Stores; three armed men get $300 in series of Bronx raids

Three armed men within an hour and a half held up three storekeepers in the Bronx last night and escaped with $300. About 9:30 o'clock they entered the grocery store of Theodore Schwartz at 679 Fox Street, hit him on the head with a pistol butt when he resisted, and took $50. Half an hour later, they went into the grocery store of Louise Lepperman at 422 Jackson Avenue and hit him with a pistol, but left quickly when his wife screamed from a back room. In another half an hour, they forced Leonard Gaglio and his brother, Milton, liquor dealers at 1012 Morris Park Avenue, into a back room and took $250.

Yikes, this was during the Depression when money as scarce and store owners sweated over every penny. The $50 stolen from Grandpa Teddy 86 years ago would be worth about $1,000 in 2023. Poor Grandpa had to go home and give Grandma the terrible news--it must have been an awful scene. Let me add that in 1937, the Bronx was not a high-crime area, but shopkeepers who stayed open late were a tempting target for sure. 

Grandpa Teddy and Grandma Minnie (Hermina Farkas Schwartz, 1888-1964) owned and operated a small dairy store for about 40 years, changing locations a couple of times and finally selling and retiring in 1955. No news coverage of all the years of routine drudgery, opening the store early and closing it late six or seven days a week, standing on their feet for hours, trying to cover all the bills.

Using the wonderful photo enhancement tools at MyHeritage, I brought Grandpa and his store to life in a way that recalls his usual good humor, not the terror of being robbed at gunpoint. Of course I'm telling Grandpa's story of being "in the news" in my latest Farkas/Schwartz family history photo book.

"In the news" is this week's 52 Ancestors genealogy challenge from Amy Johnson Crow.

Monday, July 24, 2023

Book Review: "History for Genealogists"

As a fan of timelines for family history, I have a great appreciation for the many condensed historical timelines and background explanations included in Judy Jacobson's History for Genealogists, published by Genealogical.com and updated in 2016. 

The subtitle of this book really says it all: 

Using chronological time lines to find and understand your ancestors.

In ten chapters plus bibliography, index, and addendum covering the 20th century's two big wars and Great Depression, as well as a 20th century fashion and leisure timeline, Jacobson provides the building blocks needed to put our ancestors into historical and social context. And, as she ably points out, understanding chronology can help us locate elusive ancestors by suggesting where people might be at a certain point in history.

The index is excellent, more than 30 pages long. I found it particularly helpful for pinpointing pages with info and timelines on ethnic groups, immigration patterns, military conflicts, state-by-state settlement, Westward expansion, and many other specific topics. Interestingly, "Mayflower" was not an index entry but "Plymouth" and "Plymouth Colony" were both in the index. So do consider a variety of ways to describe your ancestor's past and investigate all of this terminology in the index.

Here is the jam-packed table of contents:

  1. Seeing Ancestors in Historical Context
  2. Creating a Time Line: Why? How? Case Studies
  3. Why Did They Leave? Military, foreign skirmishes, racism/injustice/unrest, politics, religion, disease, economics, disasters
  4. How Did They Go? By road, rail, water, air
  5. Coming to America (including historic migration patterns, traditional trails and roads)
  6. Myths, Confusions, Secrets, and Lies
  7. Even Harder to Find Missing Persons (including name changes, slaves, orphan trains, place-name changes, changing boundaries, more)
  8. Social History and Community Genealogy (immigration, industrial revolution, associations/unions, genealogy in books, oral histories)
  9. State by State Timelines (including Colonial times)
  10. Region by Region Timelines (North America and well beyond)
For folks like me who are researching immigrant ancestors in my tree and hubby's tree, the chapter on coming to America (Chapter 5) includes a 4-page detailed timeline of who tended to leave their European homelands and settle in North America. My hubby's tree includes Scots-Irish who were part of the movement shown in the timeline on p. 66 and discussed on 11 other pages in the book. My own immigrant grandparents are put in historical context by the timeline on Russia (and nearby places, including Lithuania) beginning on page 238. And as a native of the Bronx, the New York state timeline is of great interest.

I highly recommend this book as a reference tool for understanding the sweep of family history and putting individual decisions into the context of local, regional, national, and international history.

Please note: I was given a free copy of this book for review purposes, but my opinions are entirely my own.

Wednesday, July 19, 2023

Chronicling My Farkas Ancestors

My latest family history photo book is about my Farkas ancestors, starting with the journey-takers who came to America at the turn of the 20th century. 

Great-grandfather Moritz Farkas (1857-1946), born in Hungary, was financially ruined when a hail storm destroyed his crops, leading him to sail to New York in search of a new life in 1899. A year later, his wife, great-grandma Leni Kunstler Farkas (1865-1938) followed him to New York. Their eight children arrived at Ellis Island in two groups during the next couple of years...and then they got to meet the three youngest children who were born in Manhattan.

My grandma Hermina Farkas was in the first group of children to be reunited with their parents in a tenement in the Lower East Side of Manhattan. Refusing an arranged marriage, she married grandpa Theodore Schwartz in 1911. 

The photo book under construction includes a colorful word cloud featuring the many surnames and given names of the Farkas and Kunstler and Schwartz ancestors in my family tree. I use this free word cloud generator.

Just this week, I wrote a brief bio of my great uncle Fred Farkas (1903-1980) for the photo book. Fred, named for his late grandfather in Hungary, became an accountant and worked for Stinson Aircraft during WWII. Later, he became vice president and controller for Jacobson's Department Stores in Jackson, Michigan. 

Happy birthday to Fred, born on July 15th, 120 years ago this week. He and his parents and siblings are among the Farkas ancestors I'm chronicling in this latest photo book.

"Birthday" is the week 29 genealogy prompt for Amy Johnson Crow's #52Ancestors series. 

Thursday, July 13, 2023

Looking for Little Marks on Census Pages

In recent months, my local library (bless them!) has acquired a dozen genealogy books from Pen & Sword, focusing on family history research across the pond. One by one, I'm borrowing these books and trying new approaches for tracing UK ancestors in my family tree and my husband's tree.

Learning about the UK Census

This week I read Emma Jolly's excellent, detailed Guide to Tracing Your Family History Using the Census. The 2020 edition is updated from her earlier book, and explores the specifics and context of Census documents from England, Wales, Ireland, and Scotland. This guide gave me a better appreciation of who and what I might actually find in the Census records. 

Emma's book goes beyond the actual Census questions to explain why various questions were added or changed every ten years, and what to be aware of when interpreting answers. Because I'm a Bronx native, her summary of historical context was especially helpful for understanding the background and evolution of UK Census documentation from early days to the 20th century. 

Just as important, Emma decoded the marks delineating separate households and separate dwellings, which I had not paid close attention to when I originally looked at these Census documents. I know the little clues to check on US Census documents (such as the X in a circle in the 1940 US Census, showing which household member spoke with the enumerator) but I'm far less familiar with Census documents from elsewhere.

Check those little marks

With Emma's guide in mind, I revisited the 1871 Census of England page for Sarah Harris Slatter Shuttleworth (1814-1872), hubby's great-great grandmother, and her second husband, John Shuttleworth (1812-1878). The transcribed record shows three names of grandchildren in the household, but I *always* try to look at the actual image if available.

As shown directly above, John and Sarah were enumerated at the bottom of a Census page, with only two grandkids listed. I've circled in red the double diagonal lines that indicate the end of a dwelling, just above John's name. Notice there's no mark after the second grandchild, who's the last name on the page.

At the top of the next page is the third grandkid, and near her name, a single diagonal line--end of a household, not end of a dwelling. Three more names are listed in a separate household at same dwelling, then a double diagonal line--end of that dwelling.

Small marks but meaningful, because not seeing the end of a household was a reminder to check the next Census page for the remaining grandchild who was actually listed on the transcribed record. Folks who regularly search these UK Census documents are, I'm sure, very aware of these small marks, but I'm still getting comfortable with the context and nuances of genealogy documents from across the pond.

Note: Shuttleworth became a middle name for a few boys born in later generations. Seems to me that the grandchildren wanted to honor their step-grandfather by perpetuating his surname. He must have been a positive influence!

Sunday, July 9, 2023

Mid-Year Progress on 2023 Genealogy Priorities


Here we are, halfway through 2023! Randy Seaver's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun prompt is to write an update on the status of our goals and priorities for the year.

At the start of my 25th year as family historian, I said my priorities would be: 

  • Continue writing bite-sized ancestor bios - I'm slowly but steadily writing and posting more bios, mainly short ones, on multiple genealogy platforms. When I come across an ancestor or ancestor-in-law without a FindaGrave memorial, I jot a memo to create one, as I did for my husband's 1c1r Edward Sherman Lower and his wife, Jeanette Jenkins Lower. NOTE: I don't mention living people in bios, for privacy reasons.
  • Research ancestors and FAN club members of particular interest - Yes, moving ahead with this especially in-laws. Just this week I went down the rabbit hole researching the cousins of my hubby's 2c3r Elfie Asenath Mosse. Fascinating family background--collecting colorful stories that I know will engage the next generation.
  • Genealogy presentations - It was a busy first half for presentations, including my new Fold3 program, which I presented six times. The most-requested talk remains Planning A Future for Your Family's Past, which I'll be giving again in September for the folks at WHAGS (West Houston Area Genealogy Society).
  • Genealogy education - I've watched a ton of informative webinars so far in 2023, including live talks hosted by various genealogy clubs. TY to the many thoughtful presenters who provide detailed handouts, which guide me in applying what I've learned even weeks after the talk. 
  • Resume moving photos into archival photo albums - um, no progress yet but my Sis will be helping me in coming months. For now, old family photos are stored safely in archival boxes.

    A top priority I didn't even have at the start of 2023 is to create professional photo books of specific ancestors, families, and/or events. Early this year, a young relative asked about our family's participation during World War II. Oh yes, I know a lot about that topic and created a small (6 inch x 6 inch) photo book filled with photos and stories. Currently, I'm creating my fourth photo book of the year, the longest book because I knew these ancestors personally and have lots of photos and anecdotes. 

    More family history photo books to come and more genealogical adventures to come, including my second WikiTree Connect-A-Thon of 2023, beginning on July 14th.