Tuesday, October 18, 2016

October Blog Party – Strange

I feel left out this month.

Elizabeth O’Neal’s October Blog Party asks about the strangest thing we’ve found in our genealogy research.  But my family research has found only typical, everyday kind of folks.  No witches or wizards. Scandals have been minor.  Very unexciting.  Poor me.

So the best I can do to contribute in the spirit of strangeness and Halloween is the image below.  It is a Google Street View image as shown on Your Daily Dish.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Told in a Line – January 23, 1884

The St. Paul and Minneapolis Pioneer newspaper of January 23, 1884 included a feature called “Told in a Line”.  It was simply a list of one-line news items. 
 Some are very straightforward:
West Point has another negro cadet.
The Greely relief bill passed the house.
St. Louis has 8,000 idle iron mill men.

But a few of them are quite curious:
Mrs. Colton has more letters in reserve.
Was she the Vanna White of 1884?
Senator Allison is practically re-ellected
Almost re-elected? Re-elected in a practical manner?
Steubenville, Ohio has caught a wild man.
Jim Nutt was not too insane – just insane enough.
Mrs. Nicholson is feeling for the major’s property.

How insane is “just insane enough”?

And I think this one line tells me more than I want to know about Mrs. Nicholson. Whatever does that one line mean?

Monday, September 26, 2016

Genealogy on Facebook

If you haven’t explored genealogy on Facebook, you may be missing a huge amount of information and collaborative help.  Facebook is so much more than “what I had for lunch” and pictures of grandchildren and cute cats.  

Katherine R. Willson has compiled a list of more than 10,000 Facebook pages and groups related to genealogy and history.  You can download the Genealogy on Facebook List, a PDF file with 288 pages of links to these pages. The table of contents alone takes up more than 8 pages.

My limited experience with genealogy groups on Facebook has been completely positive.  I’ll be scouring this list for helpful pages.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Why Didn’t I Think of This?

It is called Bullet Journaling.  I learned about this concept from the September 19, 2016 edition of MondaysWith Myrt

Myrt showed JenniferAlford’s blog post about bullet journaling. It made sense to me. A Google search on ‘bullet journal” got me to Howto Bullet Journal: The Absolute Ultimate Guide.

I’m sure that competent Evernote users have already been doing this using Evernote.  I’m struggling with how best to use Evernote – my organization leaves a lot to be desired. I use One Note for simple things.

So I’m thinking about bullet journaling.  What would work best for me? Physical notebook? Electronic?  Electronic makes more sense to me as long as I can keep it from getting too complex, and I do tend to over complicate things.  This will take some thought.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Back to School Blog Party

This post is for Elizabeth O’Neal’s Back to School BlogParty. The premise is a genealogy school and what our students need to learn.  Be sure to check into the Blog Party site throughout the month to get some helpful hints.

This topic is timely because I lead a special interest group for beginning genealogists for Indian River Genealogical Society.  We meet September through May so I’m preparing for our new season.

So… What do my group attendees need to know?

Cite Sources
Always document sources – even casual sources.  If you got information from cousin Edna, note that. Information from family interviews may not always be accurate, but we need to know where it came from. If a fact is from your own personal knowledge, note that, too. As research continues, sources get more verifiable and concrete. Sometimes it is important to know where misinformation comes from.

Question Everything
Even “official” documents may contain misinformation. The information on a death certificate, for example, is only as accurate as the knowledge of the person giving it. A young man may have lied about his age when enlisting in the military. A young woman may have fudged her age when applying for a marriage license.   Census records are often filled with misspellings, and erroneous information.

Don’t rely on one single document as absolute proof.  Verify! Verify! Verify!

Make Use of Free Resources
Subscription sites are great but there is a great deal of information available at no charge
and so many others

Continuing Education
            LegacyFamilyTreeWebinars (free)           
Free weekly webinars.  Each webinar is available to view at no charge for one week following the live presentation.  Buying a subscription gives unlimited access to all previous webinars and the syllabus for each one. (more than 300 webinars)
            FamilySearch Classes and Webinars (free)
            AncestryAcademy (membership required)
            GeneaWebnarsCalendar – a listing of upcoming webinars

Read blogs by professional and amateur bloggers – especially those who are doing research similar to yours.      – a wealth of blogs and blogging resources

But most of all, they tell me what they need to know so that they can make progress along their genealogy journey.


Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Back to Basics I – Census Records

 Census Data – Facts or Clues?

Following up on my previous post Family History From Census Records, I am reviewing my ancestors in census records and city directories. Discrepancies in census records can be a stark reminder that these records are only clues; and that a given census records alone cannot be deemed as a fact.

What’s wrong with this picture?

The image above shows the 1910 US Federal Census information recorded for the residence of my great grandparents, Michael and Elizabeth Schipp. Some of it is correct. 
  • ·         The surname is misspelled (not uncommon)
  •  ·         It shows that 5 of their daughters were married (correct) and living at that address (incorrect)
  •  ·         Daughter “Otela” is actually “Stella”.
  •  ·         Daughter Helen and her family do live with Helen’s parents. But Helen is listed twice. The other 4 married daughters are living at other addresses with their husbands and children. 
  •  ·         In spite of what the census shows, only Helen and Pauline were born in Minnesota; the older children were born in Poland.

What happened here? 
  • ·         What did the census taker ask?
    • o   If he asked the names of Michael and Elizabeth’s children, that’s exactly what he got. Did he specify that he only wanted those at this particular residence?
  • ·         Who gave the information?
    • o   That is not possible to know.
  • ·         Was there a language issue?
    • o   Very likely.

Verify! Verify! Verify!

Here’s the 1910 US Federal Census page that shows my grandmother Stella Schipp Ganas with her husband and family (highlighted).  Living next door is Stella’s sister Mary and her husband and family. 

Stella and Mary lived farther down the same street as their parents. But. Different Enumeration District; different census taker.

By the way, my grandfather was called “Nick” but his name was Ignatz in Polish, Ignatius in English.

Verify! Verify! Verify!

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Family History From Census Records

Last evening, I started reading COMMON PEOPLE subtitled: In Pursuit of My Ancestors by Alison Light.  So far I’ve read the preface and prologue and gotten only to page 59 of the content, but these few pages have inspired me to review my family's census records for the wealth of historical information they may hold.

Ms. Light began with little knowledge of her ancestry. She studied census records and from there was able to identify and then visit ancestral towns. She’s done an amazing amount of research beyond census records, but I was struck by how much information can be gleaned from the census.  I’ve always looked for obvious family living nearby but I rarely dive into understanding the character of a neighborhood.

What was the neighborhood like?
  • Single Family Homes?
  • Apartment buildings?
  • Boarding Houses?
  • Multiple generations living together?
  • Did surnames and/or birthplaces indicate a predominant nationality?
  • Many children or few per family?
  • What kinds of jobs did people have?

Did they move often? Or Never?
Did occupations change over time?

The “FAN club” (Friends, Associates, Neighbors)  is an important part of understanding our ancestors and our heritage.

I can’t wait to read the rest of Alison Light’s genealogy journey.