Monday, November 27, 2023

V Is For Veteran

Although Veterans Day has come and gone, I'm still submitting edits or making edits on Find a Grave to designate the veterans in my family tree. It's a way of honoring my ancestors who served in the military, memorialized on a site that is free, searchable, and accessible worldwide. 

At top, the edit screen for my cousin Harry Pitler's Find a Grave memorial, which I created and maintain. To edit, I moved the veteran designation to indicate Harry was a veteran. Once I clicked "save changes," the memorial showed a tiny V next to his name, as in the screen capture directly above.

For memorials I don't manage, I submit edits. Below, the "suggest edits" screen for my cousin Michael Marks. I moved the designation marker to indicate that Michael was a veteran and clicked "save suggestions." This edit will be sent to the person who maintains Michael's memorial on Find a Grave. Since Michael's gravestone lists his military service, I'm sure the veteran designation will be quickly approved and visible on his memorial page. UPDATE: Less than 24 hours later, this and all other "veteran" designation edits I submitted were approved!

When you have a few minutes, why don't you take a look at the Find a Grave memorials for your ancestors who served in the military. If they are not designated as veterans, you can submit edits to add the V for Veteran on their memorials, as another way to honor their service to country. 

Thursday, November 23, 2023

Aunt Lee and the 1950 Macy's Thanksgiving Parade

The 24th annual Macy's Thanksgiving Parade was held 73 years ago, on November 23, 1950. My honorary Aunt Lee Wallace (1903-1989) directed the whole shebang as the head of Macy's special events and public relations. She had so many creative ideas and was brilliant at getting publicity for the department store.

So many famous folks and so many impressive floats and performances made this a special parade for spectators of all ages who lined the route in Manhattan. According to the 1950 news advertisement on the fandom page for the parade, Jimmy Durante led off, with Bert Parks greeting Santa in person. Boris Karloff rode on a pirate ship float.

Cowboy star Hopalong Cassidy (played by William Boyd) rode his white horse, Topper, in the parade--you can see them in this home-movie clip from Dusty Old Thing and in this clip from the Footage Farm. For more images of this big parade, including a spaceman float my aunt mentioned in a 1952 interview, see this photographic retrospective

My honorary aunt, partner of my mom's twin sister, planned every detail of the parade, from start to finish. Thinking of Aunt Lee and remembering her with love on this Thanksgiving Day, 2023. 

Wednesday, November 22, 2023

Have a Happy Thanksgiving

This colorful penny postal greeting was sent from a Wood cousin in Toledo, Ohio, to his cousin in Cleveland, Ohio in November of 1910. The message was a reminder that the cousins were gathering for a big meal on the day after Thanksgiving, so save room for more holiday feasting. 

May you and your family enjoy a happy and healthy Thanksgiving! 

Friday, November 17, 2023

Previewing a Family History Project

Finally, after more than two months of on-and-off work on my latest family history project, I pressed the "buy" button for a single copy. This is a professional photo book telling the story of my husband's maternal grandparents, Floyda Mabel Steiner (1878-1948) and Brice Larimer McClure (1878-1970). 

Of course, I previewed the book many times on my screen, zooming in on every page to read carefully and look at how the images are positioned. I made countless changes during the project and had my husband preview the book at least 5 times in the last few days. So many small adjustments might even introduce tiny errors or omissions, right? Not to mention typos, missing words, inconsistent dates or spellings, and other mistakes that can creep in and get overlooked at the finish line. Also, the color of the background on each page might appear slightly different on the screen compared with how it appears in print. 

That's why I'm ordering a single copy at first. I want to be sure the book looks as it should, as I envisioned it. If I like the first copy, I can reorder multiple copies for relatives. If not, I'll make any necessary corrections and then buy multiple copies. The first copy will stay in my collection, with any changes noted by hand. This is only my personal approach, of course, and it might not work for you, but it's working out well for me.

Above, a sample page from this book, showing an ancestor's marriage cert and a handwritten listing of Floyda and her siblings. The story begins with Floyda's grandparents, briefly telling the highlights and low points of their lives. In the sample, Floyda's father was embroiled in legal trouble when his brother was arrested for burglarizing a storehouse. (Spoiler alert: Floyda's father wasn't actually a culprit but his brother was convicted and went to jail--story here.)

On the sample page, you can see a yellow exclamation point on the handwritten note illustration. This is an indication that the image might not print well, another reason to order a single copy before committing to multiple copies. Usually, I've found that even with the yellow warning exclamation, images tend to print well if I've prepared them carefully, including adjusting contrast. Only very low-resolution images will look terrible, in my experience, but who needs surprises? 

Given how many hours I put into this kind of project, and how enthusiastic I am about sharing ancestral stories/photos with future generations, I'm willing to invest in a single book to do a preview in print, hold the book in my hands, and check carefully before investing more heavily in multiple copies. I've done this in the past, and made tiny corrections that improved later books. I want one copy in my own collection anyway, even if there are a few notes or changes here and there. 

PS I only buy with a discount code or coupon! 

Tuesday, November 14, 2023

Free WikiTree Symposium Talks Still Available

If you missed some of the informative WikiTree Symposium talks earlier this month, the handouts for presenters named above are going to remain available, so download handouts here. I especially liked Thomas MacEntee's tech talks, and his handouts are very good.

For an indepth look at ways of safeguarding your genealogy collection, please consider picking up a copy of my book, Planning a Future for Your Family's Past, available from Amazon in Kindle and paperback formats. Thank you!

Sunday, November 12, 2023

Still Seeking Ancestors Missing from the 1950 US Census

Did you locate all the US ancestors you were hoping to find in the 1950 Census?

Immediately after the release of records last year, many of us rushed to find people who were enumerated on April 1, 1950. Still, I have yet to find a couple of dozen ancestors, so I'm going to redo my Census searches again on multiple sites, focusing on this one point in time.

At top, I'll use the Ancestry hints to see what that site has already found for ancestors in my family trees. To be thorough, I won't just rely on hints--I'll also specifically search the database "1950 United States Federal Census" with creative surname spelling.

On MyHeritage, I'll search for missing ancestors in the database titled "1950 United States Federal Census." Why? Because MyHeritage and Ancestry indexed this Census differently, I have a better chance of finding "missing" ancestors if I try both sites. 

Of course, Family Search is always free to search, with the 1950 US Census available here

I've also been using other sources, including phone directories, newspaper mentions, and vital records, to locate these ancestors and their families in the mid-20th century. But I would like to have the Census records so I can compare with previous Census answers about age, citizenship, occupation, and so on.

With a focused search, I expect to cut the number of ancestors "missing" from this Census to only a handful! 

Friday, November 10, 2023

What Happened on the Eve of Mary Slatter's Wedding

Mary Slatter (1869-1925), my husband's only immigrant grandparent, was born in Whitechapel, London, England, on this day 154 years ago. She had a traumatic childhood, in and out of workhouses with some of her siblings while their mother was in asylums and father was out of the picture.

After their mother died in a notorious asylum after years of confinement due to "melancholia," Mary's older sister Adelaide and then Mary sailed from England to join their father across the pond, all making a fresh start in Ohio.

Most likely through her sister Adelaide, Mary met Toledo-born carpenter James Edgar Wood (1871-1939).

Mary and James were married on September 21, 1898 at the newly opened St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Toledo, Ohio. When I did an online search to learn what was going on in the city at that time, I was shocked to see this article in a California newspaper. 

The night before Mary's marriage, a giant grain elevator in East Toledo exploded in flames, with at least 16 dead and many more injured. The explosion was loud enough to be heard all over the city, according to this news report. 

The event was so horrific, with tremendous loss of life and property, that similar news reports appeared in other papers around the country for weeks afterward.

I'm sure the entire city of Toledo was still reeling from the aftermath of this deadly fire when James and Mary were married the next day at the church, which had opened its doors the previous year. See postcard view, below

Both bride and groom had family in the area, so I imagine relatives were in attendance at the ceremony. 

The couple soon moved to Cleveland, where James built dozens of homes in the early 1900s. They had four sons together, including my husband's father, Edgar James Wood (1903-1986). 

Sadly, Mary died of chronic heart disease in 1925, at the age of 55, much mourned by her family. Today I'm remembering this beloved ancestor of my husband on her birthday, November 10th.

Monday, November 6, 2023

The WWII Veteran Who Enlisted at Age 45

Looking at my hubby's family tree, I noticed something unusual about one World War II enlistment: my husband's 2c1r, Fred A. Rinehart (1897-1986), enlisted in October of 1942 and wasn't discharged until mid-1946 (see image at right).

This is the first time that I've researched anyone in the 20th century who joined the US Army at age 45, and served until he was nearly 49 years old.

Digging deeper, I located Fred's obit in the Sacramento Bee in January, 1986. Mystery solved.

Fred was a US Army Chaplain during World War II. He was the son of a minister but didn't become a minister himself until after he was married. (His brother Hugh S. Rinehart also became a minister, by the way.)

From painter to minister

Fred's WWI draft registration card shows him working for a body company in Cleveland, Ohio, supporting his parents. In the 1920 US Census, his occupation was "painter." He was supporting both his wife Lucille and his mother-in-law, Dora. His occupation changed after that Census.

In the 1930 US Census, his occupation was "pastor, village church" in Moorefield, Ohio. Also in the household were his wife and his 10-year-old daughter. In the 1938 city directory for Cincinnati, Ohio, Fred was listed as pastor of two Methodist Episcopal churches. 

In the 1940 US Census, he and his wife and 20-year-old daughter were living in Cincinnati, and his occupation was "minister." Fred's 1942 WWII draft card showed him living in Ohio, working for the Methodist Conference in Cincinnati. 

In the 1950 US Census, Fred and his wife and his daughter plus two granddaughters were living in California, where his occupation was "minister." City directories for various places in California show Fred as a clergyman from the 1950s through the 1970s. By 1981, his occupation in the city directory was listed as "retired."

Reverend Rinehart, Army chaplain

Fred's name appears in a detailed history of the 80th General Hospital unit in the Philippines. He served as a chaplain there from March to May of 1945, when the hospital was involved in evacuation activities and dealing with an overload of patients. I'm still hoping to learn more about his service before and after his time in the Philippines. 

In January 1986, Fred was laid to rest in Fairmont Memorial Park, Fairfield, Solano County, California. His obit mentions not only his decades of ministry but also his membership as a Mason and in the Order of the Eastern Star. He was survived by his wife, daughter, two granddaughters, and five great-grandchildren. In all, he served 48 years as a minister, including nearly 4 years as an Army chaplain.

It's my honor to write about Fred's dedication to service in peace and in war, keeping his memory alive for the future as Veterans Day approaches.

This week's #52Ancestors genealogy prompt, by Amy Johnson Crow, is war and peace.

Thursday, November 2, 2023

Downsizing a Figure Skating Program from 2008

Fifteen years ago, I attended a fundraiser figure-skating program in Danbury, Connecticut. Yesterday, in a downsizing mood, I happened across the full-color program. Dozens of local skaters performed alongside well-known ice-skating stars like Ashley Wagner and Jeremy Abbott. Good memories, lots of money raised for a good cause. 

The program is still in mint condition...I even saved the ticket stub!

I decided to try to donate these items to a repository that collects materials related to the city of Danbury. It's important to not only identify potential institutions but also to ask permission to donate.

With a quick search. I discovered that the Danbury Museum is actively collecting materials such as these. I submitted an inquiry along with photos of the program/ticket. 

Within a day, I received an email from the collections manager, who wrote: "I’m very pleased to say yes to adding this to our collection. I don’t think we have anything from this event and very little of this era in general, so this is a definite yes."

I will be signing a certificate of gift conveying ownership of the program and ticket stub to the museum, and will be delivering everything in person.

The museum will gain fresh materials for its collection, and I will feel good that these items have a safe new home, not in the rubbish or recycle bin.

Do you have items nobody in your family wants, so you want to find them a new home? Learn how to proceed by viewing my free talk "Keep Your Family's History Safe for the Future!" during the WikiTree Symposium this week, starting on Friday, Nov. 3, at 5 pm Eastern. For more about the speakers and free presentations, see the full listing here. I'm looking forward to a weekend of genealogy education and fun!

Wednesday, November 1, 2023

Back Up Your Family History!

The first day of every month--more often, preferably--is a great time to back up all of your family history files. Thomas MacEntee has great advice about the importance of a 3-2-1 Backup Plan

As someone who lost dozens of digitized photos a few years ago when an external drive malfunctioned, I'm careful to back up frequently in multiple ways.

I have 3 external hard drives (different types, with one dedicated to photos), plus a cloud system that automatically backs up daily, plus individual flash drives for current projects (such as genealogy presentations). Also I put very important projects on my laptop as well, for easy/instant access if my desktop Mac has a hiccup.

Don't lose any of your family history. Today's the day to get into a routine and back up everything!