Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Digitizing Multiple Photos with Reimagine

MyHeritage.com has just introduced a handy app, Reimagine, for scanning old photos, particularly albums or multiple photos that will fit on one screen. It's available as a standalone subscription or with the MyHeritage subscription.

The app is fast and easy to use, and I think it will help me speed through the remaining photos that need to be digitized from albums, etc.

If multiple photos are in the frame to be scanned, this clever app digitizes them separately so I can enhance or repair or colorize each one in turn. 

In this case, I set two passport photos (one from 1960s, one from 1970s) below my iPad screen and tapped the button to scan using Reimagine. These show my late mom-in-law, Marian McClure Wood (1909-1983).

The app found two faces and asked me what I wanted to do with each. 

Here's what I did with the passport photo from the 1960s. First, I used the "enhance" function to make her face clearer (see pair of photos at right, the bottom is "enhanced.")

At left, the same passport photo colorized by Reimagine. My husband says this actually looks a lot like his mother in the 1960s, purple dress and all. Younger family members tell me over and over that "black and white is boring." I'm not changing the black and white version, I'm presenting it with the colorized version to catch their eye.

I still need to experiment because, unlike flatbed scanners, using this app seems similar to taking a photo and therefore old photos may have light reflected, or other issues to deal with. With experience, I'm sure I'll be better able to manage good scans and enhancements.

Nothing will take the place of my flatbed scanner for old documents and large photos, IMHO. But for smaller items, and especially album pages, I'm giving Reimagine a try. Just want to be sure the scan is high-res enough to show all details.

Friday, May 26, 2023

Honoring US Civil War Vets for Decoration Day

Memorial Day was originally known as Decoration Day, a day to honor those who fought in the US Civil War by decorating the graves of the fallen. 

For some years, I've been researching and documenting Civil War vets from my husband's family tree. Nearly all returned from the war, although a few died--mainly of disease.

To honor their service, I'm listing their names, genealogical relationship to my husband, and their military branch.

Union side, US Civil War

Ira Caldwell (hubby's 1c3r) - 84th Indiana Infantry

George H. Handy (hubby's 1c2r) - 4th Massachusetts Infantry

Harvey H. Larimer (hubby's 1c3r) - 151st Indiana Volunteer Infantry

Isaac Newtown Larimer (hubby's 1c4r) - 35th Indiana Volunteer Infantry

Jacob Wright Larimer (hubby's 1c3r) - 151st Indiana Volunteer Infantry

James Elmer Larimer (hubby's 1c4r) - 17th Regiment, Ohio Volunteer Infantry

John Wright Larimer (hubby's 1c3r) - 17th Regiment, Ohio Volunteer Infantry

John N. McClure (hubby's 2d great-uncle) - 89th Indiana Infantry, then transfer to 26th Indiana Volunteers 

Train Caldwell McClure (hubby's 2d great-uncle) - 89th Indiana Infantry

Hugh Rinehart (hubby's 2d great-uncle) - 15th Ohio Infantry

Benjamin Franklin Steiner (hubby's 2d great-uncle) - 10th Ohio Cavalry

Samuel D. Steiner (hubby's 2d great-uncle) - 8th Ohio Infantry

Lemuel C. Wood, Sr. (hubby's 3d great-uncle) - Commander of the USS Daylight, Union Navy

Lemuel C. Wood, Jr. (hubby's 1c3r) - 3d Massachusetts Infantry

Robert Crooke Wood, Sr. (hubby's 4c4r) - Asst. Surgeon General, Union Army

Thomas F. Wood (hubby's 1c2r) - 3d Massachusetts Infantry

Isaac Larimer Work (hubby's 1c4r) - 74th Indiana Infantry

John Wright Work (hubby's 1c4r) - 74th Indiana Infantry

Confederate side, US Civil War

John Taylor Wood (hubby's 4c5r) - Confederate Navy, CSS Tallahassee, CSS Virginia

Robert Crooke Wood Jr. (hubby's 4c5r) - Wood's Mississippi Cavalry Regiment

Dr. Thomas Fanning Wood (hubby's 6c3r) - 18th No. Carolina Infantry, 3d No. Carolina Infantry

Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Gold Rush Diaries Chip Away Brick Wall

Who knew that Asenath Cornwell Larimer (1808-1897) wasn't the only one in her family to keep a diary of the difficult journey from Ohio to California during the Gold Rush era? 

Asenath: wife, mother, widow, sister, Gold Rush participant

Asenath married hubby's 3d great uncle, James Larimer (1806-1847) in Fairfield, Ohio. They had six children together and were pioneer farmers in Indiana before he was thrown from a horse and died one winter evening. 

Widowed with five youngsters at home, she sold her share of the family farm and joined with her brother John and others to try to strike it rich in California. They embarked on this risky venture on Tuesday, March 16, 1852. Asenath kept a written journal of the experience, which I've blogged about before. She briefly mentioned her parents, but nothing concrete enough to track them down by name or place or date.

Asenath's parents were a brick wall...Online family trees show names, not always the same names, and no real sources. Then a sudden breakthrough!

John: husband, father, jewelry merchant, brother, Gold Rush participant

Through a previous online search, I ascertained that Asenath's brother John Cornwell (1812-1883) had owned a jewelry store in Athens, Ohio. My query: John Cornwell Athens Ohio. One top result was a news item about the long history of John's jewelry business.

Today I tried a slightly different search: for John Cornwell Gold Rush Ohio. I found a surprising and exciting result. John, it turns out, also wrote a diary of the Gold Rush adventure, also beginning with an entry on March 16, 1852. His journal is archived in Ohio (see screen grab at top, from OhioLink), not close to where I live. Brother and sister journals!

The finding aid includes a brief bio of John, contributed by his descendants. A better starting point for parents' names, dates, places, helping to chip away at that brick wall. More research is needed to verify specific dates and places if possible, but I'm on my way now.

Also in my search results: A new book by descendants of John Cornwell, analyzing his journal and providing more family background. Published only a few months ago, Lots of Rush but Little Gold, will give me much more info about the Cornwell family in the 19th century, when I receive my copy. The book by descendants would not have been in the results for searches before the publication date of October, 2022. Timing makes a difference.

My takeaways

First, never give up on a brick wall, just circle back for a fresh look now and again. Second, thoroughly investigate siblings (and other close relatives) because they may prove to be the key to chipping away a brick wall. Third, try different online searches at different times, and examine results on the first several pages, not just the top result. 

"Brick wall" is the week 21 genealogy prompt for #52Ancestors by Amy Johnson Crow.

Monday, May 22, 2023

My Blacksmith Ancestor-in-Law in the Union Army

You know how I love tracing in-laws of my ancestors? That's how I unexpectedly found George Washington Chapman (1836-1912), the only US Civil War veteran in my family tree (so far). Today's post honors his service as Memorial Day approaches, originally known as Decoration Day to remember US Civil War veterans.

Since all four of my grandparents were immigrants from Eastern Europe who arrived in America from the 1880s to the 1900s, I never thought I'd find any ancestor who served in the US Civil War. But here he is: the grandfather of Charlotte Chapman, who married my great uncle Fred Farkas in Chicago in 1930. 

First Ohio Cavalry blacksmith

According to his obit, George Washington Chapman enlisted in the First Ohio Volunteer Cavalry, Company D, on November 6, 1861, and mustered out on November 6, 1864. He reenlisted for another year and was in the battles of Lookout Mountain, Missionary Ridge, and the siege of Vicksburg.

Above, a pension index card for George, showing he was a Blacksmith with Company D of the Ohio Cavalry. He applied for invalid status in 1877 and after he died in 1912, his widow Anna Warnes Chapman (1849-1927) applied for a widow's pension. By the way, George's son Elwood Austin Chapman (1875-1955) also became a blacksmith.

Checking Find a Grave and Fold3

George's Find a Grave site shows his tombstone, engraved "Co. D. 1st O. Vol. Cav." I found info about George's unit on Fold3, indicating that the youngest age at enlistment for this company was 17, the oldest was 47. The Fold3 regiment history shows George likely participated in many famous US Civil War battles, not just those mentioned in his obit.

Saluting ancestor-in-law George Washington Chapman with appreciation for his years of service. And finding his service is a great reminder: expect the unexpected in genealogy!

Thursday, May 18, 2023

Readying for Release of 1931 Canadian Census

Two weeks from today, the Canadian Census of 1931 will be released. Experts like Dave Obee and Ken McKinlay show exactly how to prep to find ancestors when the Census is released, unindexed at first. 

To be ready for the release, I'm listing ancestors from my tree and my husband's tree who were living in Canada in 1931 and then looking for their residential address. At least I can try to narrow down the possible addresses by starting with the 1921 Canadian Census and also looking for city directories, voters' lists, and so on.

Slatter in Toronto

At top, a 1935 voters' list for Toronto, including my husband's great uncle Capt. John Daniel Slatter and his family. They lived at 30 Harbord St., Toronto, the same address as in the 1921 Canadian Census. I was checking that they hadn't moved. Now I know exactly where to look for the Slatter family in the 1931 Census, because the family was in the same house for many years.

Burke in Montreal

On my side of the family, my great uncle Abraham Burke's residence changed from one Census to another--but only down the street. In 1911, the Canadian Census shows him at 431 Avenue Laval in Montreal. In 1921, the Canadian Census shows him at 288 Avenue Laval in Montreal. One idea is to browse the 1931 Canadian Census for that electoral district to see whether he might still be on Avenue Laval. 

Another way to find Abraham's address after 1921 and before 1931 is using Steve Morse's very handy "Searching the Montreal City Directory in One Step" technique. Checking both Burke and Berk and maybe other variations...

Maybe I'll be lucky! I want to be ready to browse the Canadian Census for ancestors when the 1931 records are released on June 1st

Monday, May 15, 2023

Bite-Sized Bios Show Up in Search Results!


I've been writing bite-sized bios of ancestors in my family tree and my husband's family tree and posting to multiple websites. Why? Because LOCKSS (lots of copies keeps stuff safe). I don't want these ancestors' names and lives to be forgotten in the future . . . posting brief bios now is part of my plan to keep family history safe for today and tomorrow.

Earlier today, I did an online search for my husband's paternal grandfather, James Edgar Wood (1871-1939), and my bite-sized bios turned up in the first 40 search results. As shown above, this includes both WikiTree profiles and Find a Grave memorial pages!

Not only are bios an excellent way to memorialize ancestors, they also serve as very good cousin bait. Anyone who clicks on these two results will see me as the page manager and be able to send me a note. I've posted bite-sized bios on FamilySearch and other genealogy websites as well.

Little by little, I'm continuing my bite-sized bio project, also memorializing siblings/spouses/in-laws of my ancestors, and making sure to include those who had no descendants. 

Saturday, May 13, 2023

Honoring Moms in Family History


Happy Mother's Day, with much love, to all the Moms 
in our family, past and present! 

To make your own word cloud, try this free word cloud generator. I chose a heart shape and selected four colors, four fonts, and a variety of weights for my list of names from the family tree. 

Wednesday, May 10, 2023

Grandpa Teddy: Born in Ungvar, Hungary

My immigrant grandpa, Theodore "Teddy" Tivador Schwartz was born on May 12, 1887 in what was then the bustling market town of Ungvar, Hungary. Today that town is known as Uzhhorod, Ukraine.

Teddy was the first in his family to leave their hometown and cross the Atlantic to New York City, in 1902. He encouraged his older brother Sam to come through Ellis Island in 1904. The two brothers saved their nickels and brought a younger sister, Mary, to New York soon afterward.

So often, documents list only a country as birthplace. A surprising number of Teddy's documents specifically name his actual hometown, including the passenger manifest for the SS Moltke, his Declaration of Intention to become a naturalized US citizen (left), his NY State affidavit for license to marry, his Social Security application, and his WWI and WWII draft registration cards. Dated from 1902 through 1951, all of these documents show Teddy's birthplace as Ungvar, Hungary.

[Note: The document shown here has the incorrect year for Teddy's travel across the Atlantic. The actual passenger manifest is dated 1902. Always look at the original if possible!]

I knew and loved this Grandpa, who lived with our family after his wife (my Grandma Hermina Farkas Schwartz) died in 1964. Teddy died just before his 78th birthday, on May 12, 1965. You're in my thoughts, dear Grandpa, and I'm doing everything I can to keep your memory alive for the future--including putting your photo and name in a family history coloring book for the youngest descendants.

Friday, May 5, 2023

Prepping for the 1931 Canadian Census Release on June 1

More Census excitement for genealogists! The release of the 1931 Canadian Census is scheduled for June 1, 2023. Embargoed for 92 years, this Census will give us a window into so many demographic changes in Canada between the post-war 1921 Census and the Depression-era 1931 Census. 

Dave Obee, Canadian Census expert

Dave Obee, author of Counting Canada: A Genealogical Guide to the Canadian Census, is prepping for the 1931 release and helping us with posts on his informative website, CanGenealogy.com. For instance, he lists all the Census questions on his site here

Initially, there will be NO index. But Dave shows how to get ready by finding a residential address and district for each ancestor, so we'll be able to browse the Census documents by location when released. 

Of course, if you want to wait for the index, Canada is working with Ancestry and FamilySearch to index by AI technology. This will take months, but we'll eventually be able to search the 1931 Census the same way we can already search earlier Census documents.

Hubby's ancestors, by residence and in context

My husband had three great uncles in Canada (the three Slatter brothers, all military band masters), and I had a great uncle and cousins in Canada during that period. You know I'll be browsing for them by address, based on my notes about addresses found in city directories and their 1921 Census locations.

Once you find your ancestor in Canada, and record all the relevant details from the Census form, don't forget to put the ancestor into social and historical context. If your ancestor is working, that would be in contrast to the growing unemployment problem triggered by the Depression, for example.

I'm looking at the Dominion Bureau of Statistics Publication here (pdf in French or English), which summarizes findings of the 1931 Census and compares results to earlier Censuses. Since most of hubby's Slatter ancestors were in Canada by 1901, I can see context decade by decade and in 1931 specifically.

Above, one table showing the number and percentage of males and females who were single, married, widowed, or divorced as reported in the Canadian Censuses from 1871-1931. The number and percentage of divorced men and women began to rise after 1901, as shown. Also, the number of single individuals dropped as the number of married individuals increased steadily over the years. I'll compare my hubby's ancestors to these statistics for a bit of context.

I'm looking forward to Thursday, June 1st, when the 1931 Canadian Census is made public.

More great tips are on Ken McKinlay's blog as well, with links to resources that will help us prep for the release. Don't miss his take on this exciting Census release.

UPDATE: Since Ancestry indexed this Census very quickly, I haven't yet had to use addresses to locate my ancestors. Plus hints are now showing up on my Ancestry trees!

Wednesday, May 3, 2023

Really Brief Bite-Sized Bios From WikiTree Connect-A-Thon

During the weekend of April 21-24, I was one of 749 people who participated in the WikiTree Connect-A-Thon. The goal was to add as many ancestors as possible to WikiTree's free shared family tree, with a minimum of one source and a bit of biographical content. The camaraderie was wonderful and I enjoyed the opportunity to really concentrate on documenting ancestors during a defined time period. This is part of my plan to share family history across multiple platforms.

An amazing 76,995 ancestors total were added to WikiTree during the weekend. I added 107 ancestors, mostly from the paternal side of my family--especially in-laws of in-laws who were not represented at all on WikiTree but now are there.

Given the limited time I could spend on each profile, the bios were brief, more like a teeny nibble than bite-sized ;). It helps that WikiTree automatically weaves together a few facts into a narrative biography, based on what the user inputs on each profile.

The bio in the image above is representative of what I had time to write during a busy weekend of genealogy: This man was born in ___, son of ___ and ___, WWII military service, occupation, name of wife, number of children with her, death. Plus two specific sources, including one with a link to this ancestor's Find a Grave memorial page. WikiTree shows, at a glance, the names of his parents and his wife and sibling.

In the coming weeks, I'll be revisiting the new profiles to flesh them out with better bios and additional sources/links. And of course I'm continuing my bite-sized family history bio projects with posts on other genealogy websites. 

Tuesday, May 2, 2023

So Many Sites to Memorialize Ancestors

After 25 years of genealogy research, I've learned a lot about my ancestors--and I want to be sure this information isn't lost in the years to come.

For the past few years, I've been writing bite-sized ancestor bios and posting on key genealogy sites. The idea is to share family history more widely, and bios are also possible cousin bait. 

Above, four websites where I've posted the same bio and photo of my paternal grandmother, Henrietta "Yetta" Mahler Burk (1881-1954). 

Clockwise, from top left:

WikiTree is a free collaborative tree site that's growing fast and has the added benefits of sources and (if you wish) DNA connections. I also appreciate the ability to link to profile pages for each parent, each child, each spouse, each sibling. Plus WikiTreers are a friendly bunch!

MyHeritage.com is a subscription site that designates a place on each ancestor profile for a biography. If you want to learn more about how to post a bite-sized bio on MyHeritage, please read my article in the Knowledge Base. Bonus: MyHeritage has many nifty photo tools for enhancing/repairing/colorizing old family photos.

FamilySearch.org came online in 1999 and is the world's largest free collaborative tree site. Grandma Henrietta is well represented with photo, bio, research. A great site, and I'm glad that MyHeritage includes FamilySearch tree results when I research my ancestors.

Find a Grave, now owned by Ancestry, is another free place to post ancestor bios. I especially like that the 226 million+ memorial pages from this site are indexed and appear in search results on Ancestry, Family Search, Fold3, and more. 

Reader Diane asks whether I'm going to use Ancestry's new Storymaker Studio or MyHeritage's DeepStory for telling ancestors' stories. I tried DeepStory, and found it engaging but I do need more experimentation to refine the story and choose the right ancestor photo. It would intrigue the younger generation, but it can't be put on the bookshelf like a photobook, ready at any time for any audience. So far, I haven't yet tried Storymaker Studio but it's on my list to investigate this year.

PLUS: On Ancestry, there is a convenient space under "LifeStory" to type or paste in a full bio! I just did that for Henrietta Mahler Burk, as shown above. Another great way to share family history in narrative form.

Happy 142d birthday, Grandma Yetta, on May 9th. Your name, face, and life story are not forgotten! I'm currently creating a professional photobook about you and Grandpa Isaac, as a keepsake for your grandchildren and great-grandchildren.