"If you can't get rid of the family skeleton, you may as well make it dance"
-George Bernard Shaw

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

World Vital Records

World Vital Records (www.worldvitalrecords.com) is free until Decemeber 28th! No Credit Card needed....now I'm motivated!

'Tis the Season

It is the season for family traditions and for celebrations. We have a lot to celebrate this year with the birth of our son and now being a family of 4. Christmas time is always a happy time of year for me and I am thankful to have a little break from school, even if it is only 3 short weeks this year.

I have taken some time to up date my genealogy to-do list and to think about next year's Genealogy goals. We are still planning our Pennsylvania trip for Septmeber. Just me, the hubby and the two kids in a rental RV from our Michigan home traveling the 700+ miles to PA, but we will have the RV, so it should be an easier ride then trying to drive it in the family mini van and jumping from hotel to hotel. This is going to be our first real Genealogy vacation and I'm hoping to discover more about my paternal grandfather's line.

So what is your goal for the new year in your genealogy? You can share your goals in the comments section.

I've taken time to actually do some research to make some Random Acts of Genealogy Kindness requests for some research. With my college graduation right around the corner I'm excited to have more free time to do my research...what will I do with myself? After the first of the year I'm packing up the baby and hitting the local library and family history center to work through some of my research to-dos before the next semester of school starts.

Happy Hunting.

PS Check out my new blog at http://www.scappyalanna.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Don't have to be a "hard-core hobbist"

I was sitting at my kitchen table today, immersed in a pile of papers all related to genealogy and a thought came to me. I am what most people I know would consider a "hard-core" genealogy hobbist. Actually I'm not sure how many would think I was just a hobbist and how many would think I was more...but I digress.
I don't know how many times I have heard, "I would like to do it (it being genealogy), but I don't have the time like you do"....wait! I have time? When did that happen? Did they forget I just gave birth to my second child and I am still going to nursing school? My point is, you don't need hours a day to spend time researching your family lines, although sometimes it is nice, isn't it? Many people spend time, several hours a week in fact, devoted to their favorite television shows. Now isn't that spare time?
My solution is this: take you laptop, most house holds have at least one, to the couch with you and load it with your favorite genealogy software (there are free ones out there) or print out some forms (those which can also be found free just by googling for "Free Genealogy forms") and go to some of the online sites to search your family history. Don't want to miss an important plot on your show? Then use the commerical time for your research. You don't need hours a day or a week to make progress on your research, just a few minutes here and there. You can even use this TV time to write letters to your current living relatives and gather information on the current members of your family that way...yes I said write letters...good old snail mail, or email if you prefer, but make sure you print copies of the information your family sends you back.
This is just one suggestion that I have made many times in the past and here I present it to you, my audience to share with those around you who "don't have the time like you do" to begin their journies into genealogy and for those who are still resistant, I almost envy them....they don't know what it is like missing half a night's sleep before a big deadline, event, etc because they found a hot genealogy lead.
Take Care,
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays if I don't 'see' you before then.
Happy Hunting!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Support our troops

Support our US troops who are overseas this holiday season. As the wife of a former Marine who was deployed overseas I know how important these letters from 'home' truly are!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

It's been awhile

It's been awhile since I've been able to Blog about Genealogy or let alone even work on my genealogy. I've had a few sessions here and there with very brief hits of research, but with school and job and now a new baby, there hasn't been much researching in my Family History. I have been emailing back and forth with my Dad's counsin Linda about the family history and have arranaged to send her printouts of what I have with current information on the family and to be able to update on her family and her sibilings. Hey, at least it is something. :)

Yes, I have finally added another root to my own family. My son was born December 1st. It is crazy and fun to have a baby in the house again.

My plans for Christmas break is to work on some genealogy and I have a lead on another family member to hopefully add some new information to the family tree. We still plan to visit Pennsylvania, but it won't be until September now. But that gives me plenty of time to plan! We're packing up the kids and renting an RV and driving from our home in Northern Lower Michigan to Danville, Pennsylvania where my Great, Great Grandfather was born. I'm excitied for the trip and excited to see what new information that we will be able to uncover when we are there.

Good luck and happy Hunting! Until next time.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Hands Around the Library

Here is some news coverage and a poll about the Hands around the library and the concerns over cutting the Michigan Library.


Click on the library tab under the main header of the page!

There are some powerful message from both reports!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Home Sweet Home

So we're home and we've survived our camping/family reunion weekend. Although we had really bad wind during the family reunion and it was freezing cold and there was only a small turn out it was nice to see everyone that was there...and of course the food was good as always.
We ended up leaving late last night because of sore backs and other things and slept in our own beds last night....boy was it every nice to sleep in my own bed.

As for my research...I visited my GGrandpa's brother and his wife's grave site. I also took my family and we visited the old family farm...actually it was more of a drive by and check it out. Beyond that my weekend turned into a nonresearch weekend. It is difficult when you are only there for a weekend and that the places you need to go are only opened for limited hours-of course the hours that I wasn't there. The good news is that Cadillac is only about an hour drive from where we live and it won't be hard for me to plan a day trip there.

Happy Hunting.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Family Reunion Weekend Day 1

Well we survived day 1 of our camping trip. The drive here was uneventful and we have a cute little Mini Cabin the overlooks Lake Cadillac in Mitchell State Park. Last night my mom and I had to make a Wal-Mart run for supplies that we forgot or came up needing. My daughter broke her sandel, but all is well. Hotdogs for dinner and a few misc activites....no research yet.
I did get information on the local genealogy collection holding and it looks like Monday I will be spending some time over there. That is the hard thing with genealogy having limited hours on the collections.
I will have to make a trip back here sometime this summer to spend a day at the Family History Center to do research there as well. Fortunately Cadillac is only about an hour drive from where I live.
It looks as now the weather is going to take a change on us and we are going to see some rain soon. Thankfully we are not in a tent!

Happy Hunting!

Friday, July 31, 2009

Family Reunion Time!

Family reunions are a time to gather and see family that, perhaps, you only see once a year at the reunion, share stories, eat tons of good food, and catch up on everyone's lives. For me getting ready for a family reunion means packing up my research to share with my family. This year it also means that I may be able to do some research seems we are leaving today and we will be spending the next 5 days camping at the state park and being in the city that my GGGrandfather and Grandmother lived. I'm hoping to get some much needed research done.

I have made some progress on my Fitzgerald research, but I'm still stuck on my brick wall of my GGGGrandparents, John and Emily (Tennyson) Fitzgerald. I have some leads to run down, but the lack of volunteer help in the area that I need is nill. I'm close to hiring a professional. :( There goes my genealogy allowance for the next 5 years....

Anyway, back to the reunion...So we're just passing a couple of hours, everything is packed, our daughter is at preschool for a few hours and the final clean up and packing on the car is all that is left. Stay tuned for adventures in family reuion/vacation/camping weekend.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Vote for Genealogy! Library of Michigan


@geneabloggers @genealogist ATTENTION: Lansing State Journal is conducting a poll on who uses a library for genealogy research. Right now genealogists are losing the poll 65 to 35% : Let's show them what FB can do! To all genealogists: Please publicize the poll in the Lansing State Journal regarding the use of libraries in your genealogy. It expires at 7 pm Michigan time (EST) @geneabloggers @genealogist ATTENTION: Lansing State Journal is conducting a poll on who uses a library for genealogy research. Right now genealogists are losing the poll 65 to 35% : Let's show them what FB can do! To all genealogists: Please publicize the poll in the Lansing State Journal regarding the use of libraries in your genealogy. It expires at 7 pm Michigan time (EST)

Let's show that we care about keeping the library open and the genealogy collection together!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Social Networking

I was resistant for a long time on using ANY social networking site. I wouldn't even let my bestfriend put photos of my daughter on her myspace page. I don't know what really changed my mind, but I decided to try facebook one day. I may have seen it in one of the Genealogy trade magazines.
I have reconnected with family members and old friends. I haven't used much for genealogy on facebook other than joining the GenaBloggers group. I have been writing a lot of my weekly blogs based on the prompts that are sent out to the group every week. I have since become an 'offical' GeneaBlogger and have been added to the main GeneaBlogger's website. (Thanks Tom!)

About a month ago (maybe a little longer) a new social networking site popped up, one dedicated strictly to Genealogy! It is called Genealogywise (www.genealogywise.com). Of course me being me, I was a little slow to sign up for this new site as well. Eventually I signed up...about 2 weeks ago....and I have had a lot of fun checking out the groups formed and I have even formed some groups of my own. I have made 4 groups based on surnames that I am researching and I have even had 3 other people join one group and 1 person join another group! So far no family connections, but being that my groups are about a week old or less, it just takes time and patience.
I have joined some great groups on Genealogywise. Some of the groups I have joined are about Legacy users, Findagrave fans (www.findagrave.com), and those searching for Irish ancestors. I was looking at a group just this mornign about searching for Pennsylvania ancestors, which two lines of my ancestry came from, but didn't join....I'm going back when I'm done here to join!

I have, through groups I have joined on facebook, found some great instructional website links and a really good link leading to ProGenealogist's top 50 websites list, just in time to give my presentation to my genealogy society in June.

So for now, I cannot say I have had great Genealogical success as far as my own research with social networking, however I have learned about some new websites and learned about blogging by joining a social networking site. By being a part of these groups, I have been more inclinded to continue to do my research and work on my own genealogy whereas before it was something I would work on for a month or two then I would put it down for 6 or 8 months. This way it is always close to the front of my mind and I work more frequently on my research.

Good luck and happy hunting.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Library of Michigan- An Email

Here are copies of an emails that I have recently recieved on the Library of Michigan and how we can all help.

The future status of the Library of Michigan, the Archives and the Museum isbeing threatened by an Executive Order of the Governor. You can read thefull text of this order at:http://michigan.gov/documents/gov/EO36_285881_7.pdf.
This is not a done deal yet. Executive orders can be rejected by theLegislature. This order, if the Library is to be saved, must be rejected byOct. 1, 2009. The Michigan Genealogical Council (MGC) of which MMGS is amember is leading a campaign to have this order rejected. You can read moreabout these efforts at:http://mimgc.org/
Our society was very active in efforts that made the present home for theLibrary, Archives and Museum possible. We have supported the collectionsand work of the Library for many years. It is time for us to come togetherand help rescue these treasures from destruction by this Executive Order.
One of the ways you can aid the cause is to write, call or visit your StateRepresentative and State Senator. For non-Michigan residents, write SenatorJason Allen. The MGC webpage gives directions for determining yourlegislative people: http://mimgc.org/
Another event planned by MGC is a day of support called "Hands around theLibrary." August 5, 2009 is the chosen day for genealogists, historians andinterested persons to assemble and show the Michigan Legislatures that theservices and the facilities of the Library, Archives and Museum should notbe dispersed in the manner described by the Executive Order. The detailsare not firmly in place for this event. The plan so far is to gather at theState Capitol at 9:45 am and be present for the opening of the Legislativesessions. The group will then march across the mall to the Library buildingand join other interested persons. At 11 am, all present at the Librarywill form a large circle around the building and clasp hands of support. Theevent will be concluded by noon. It is hoped that this event will be wellpublicized and reported upon by our media system.
As you can imagine, this event needs to be well organized and coordinated.Joanne Harvey has been working on getting the necessary permits from theLansing Police Dept. She has asked for member help in continuing theseplans. She needs a right hand man or personal assistant to help with therecruiting of people, planning signs, gathering flags and buntings, makingnumerous phone calls and generally helping her with the many details that gointo such events. Please, if you can help, give Joanne a call at517-321-0945 or drop an e-mail to her at harveyfti@webtv.net
Along with the people, the circle needs definition. If you have a machinethat chalks grass, that would be a welcome service. If you have other ideasand services for the event let Joanne know. If you know how to getpublicity, now is the time to come forward with your ideas and contacts. Wemust all join together and save our Library.
More details on the Aug. 5 events of support will be sent to you as theybecome available.
Judy Levy Pfaff

Here is how to fax, call, mail Governor Granholm


Monday, July 20, 2009

A Ray of Hope!

For the Library of Michigan, there is a ray of hope. Some good news was passed onto me today via facebook, by a friend that the State, City of Lansing and MSU may be working together to build a new 'cultural center' type area where much of the historical stuff from the Library of Michigan as well as artifacts from the Museum from MSU to make a more self sufficient museum and cultural center. Although nothing is decided at this point, this is good news for the Library.
Here is a brief arcticle on this:

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


Two things have happened reccently in my genealogical life that have really had a hard blow to me.

This first is that yesterday, Michigan Governer, Jennifer Granholm, signed an executive order to close the Library of Michigan. The order closes the libraries doors as of Oct 1, 2009. It also gives the libraries collections the opportunity to be aquired by other agencies and if not....they are going to be destroyed! The Library of Michigan houses Michigan's state genealogical collection. The genealogy collection has been a valuable tool for many Michigan genealogists and it is a tragdey that this valuble asset will be lost. Worst of all, the collection holds rare one-of-a-kind books and records that if destroyed they will be forever. I literally cried when I heard this news.
The executive order can be viewed at:

The second thing that happened, came about today. I frequently use the website www.findagrave.com to request photos of headstones of family and potential family members. A couple days ago I requested photos for around 8 or 9 Fitzgeralds that are in Iowa near where one of my GGGrandfather's brother moved to. When I opened the links from my email to the memorials I found that the lady who volunteered to take the photos used chalk on the stone because they "are difficult to read". When I confronted her (via email) about using something she admitted it was chalk and told me that "it only damages Limestone stones". This is not true! Also this practice is completely against Find-A-Grave's policies. I ultimately asked her not to do any more of my photo requests because I cannot condone this behavior. It made my stomach knot up when I saw this.
Remember that never to use anything but plain water and a soft brush on a headstone. Chalk, cornstarch, baby powder, shaving cream....all damages headstones in different ways. All types of stones, not just limestone. We want these stones to be around for a long time.

May your research lead to your ancestors.
Happy Hunting.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Legacy 7.0 vs Family Tree Maker

Note: I am NOT being compensated by the makers of Family Tree Maker or Legacy for this entry. This is in response to a blogging prompt posted on facebook by the Genea-Bloggers group! The information contained here is base solely on my experiences using these software programs.

I admit that I am a converted Family Tree Maker user. Converted from Family Tree Maker that is. When I first started working on my family history it consisted of writing letters and waiting weeks to hear back from family members to returned filled out family group sheets. Which then would be typed up on my mother's electric type-writer. (That was big technology back then!) The internet hadn't even been invented yet! (And for all you who grew up with the internet, I'm not that old). We had computers, but they were the good old apple greenscreens. Being in my early teeens I had no source of income and we didn't have a computer for quite some time.

My very first exposure to Family Tree Maker was when I met my (now) Mother-in-law when my husband and I first started dating. She opened up my eyes to the world of Genealogy databases and.....Ancestry....! My Mother-in-law was an avid, long-time genealogist and she showed me all the wonderful things that Family Tree Maker could do. She popped a date disk in and I instantly started finding family members in my tree and was happily printing away sheets of information. Then I learned about Ancestry. Many hours was spent searching the pages that ancestry had to offer. That Christmas my husband bought me my first copy of Family Tree Maker. I think it was version 5.0 or 6.0. It was the delux version and it came wiith something like 20 data CD's as well and if that wasn't enough, it also came with a free 1-year subscription to Ancestry. Much to my parents' dismay, I'm sure. Every year for the 1st 3 or 4 years I faithfully bought the upgrades and got my free year to ancestry. Then I asked myself, why was I spending money every year to upgrade Family Tree Maker, and I quit buying the upgrades.

I continued to use Family Tree Maker until about two years ago. I had subscribed to Family Tree magazine and read an article about the top genealogy software databases and they were user tested by a panel of genealogists of varying expereince, all using the same dataset. Among the scores, Legacy recieved the highest overall ratings and Family Tree Maker came in somewhere in the bottom 2 (out of 4 or 5 programs tested). Legacy offers a free version of their software online, so I downloaded it and gave it a try. Withing a week I bought the full version and I haven't turned back since.

So, what's good and what isn't? With Family Tree maker, obviously I liked the free year to Ancestry, espcially when the price for the world version of Ancestry costs about $300/year, if you purchase the annual option, more if you go month by month. I also liked the data CDs that came with the program, but I could never seem to find information on my family lines. What I didn't like about Family Tree Maker first and foremost is they wanted me to contribute my research, the work that I have put literally hundereds of hours into to them so they could turn around and sell it and make a profit, while I got nothing out of it. After using Legacy, I find that Ancestry's sourcing function could be improved, I never knew what I needed to put into the source to properly cite my sources. I also got tired of buy the updated version every year for Family Tree Maker.

I know there are lots of Family Tree Maker fans out there and if that is the program you are happy with, then that is what you should use. After trying out another program, I just found that I like Legacy better and it works better for the type of researcher that I am.

So what about Legacy? Well I like that I was able to try out Legacy for free for starters, who doesn't like something for free? Of course several features were unavailable in the free version that I couldn't access until I bought the full version. I like Legacy's layout design and when I bought my copy of Legacy 6.0, 7.0 was so close to being released that I got the upgrade for free! Thank you Legacy! Legacy's sourcing function makes citing sources easy because it is all fill-in the box and then the program arranges the information in the proper order. Another feature I like about Legacy is companion programs! Legacy comes with a charting program that is fun to play with and make all kinds of fancy charts. There are also several programs fromt the makers of Legacy that interface with Legacy. Some of these programs work with Palm Pilots and Microsoft's Palm PC these programs supposedly interface with legacy, however I have never been able to get my version that I bought for my palm pilot to work, and honestly with my laptop the program lost its novelty after a couple months. Passage Express (PE) is another add-on program that interacts with Legacy. Although I have never bought the full version I have played around with the basic free version and it is pretty elaborate in what it can do. PE creates interactive CDs that you can make and share with your family. Think of it as a digital scrapbooking program that is designed towards genealogy. I actually thought that CDs made from this would make a great family reunion fund raiser! All these companions are great, but you have to pay for each program. The palm pilot and palm pc programs cost around $25 to $35, depending on which companion program you purchase. PE costs around $55.

Ok, so at one point I tried Roots Magic's free version and honestly I was happy enough with Legacy that I wasn't really interested in trying another Genealogy database. I do recommend trying out a couple databases, espcially if you can try them for free or borrow from a friend (remember to abide by software licensing laws) and try out different programs to find what works for you and what you like best. Also check out trade magazine for reviews of the database programs. They are a good source for not only the PC programs, but the Mac programs as well.

There are many good programs out there for genealogists and I think each has their pros and cons. It just depends on what kind of researcher you are and what you are looking for in a database program.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Finding Famous Graves and Local "celebrities"

When I was thinking about this week's Gena-Bloggers prompt about visiting a local cemetery and writing about famous people buried within the cemetery, of course I thought of the largest cemetery locally and the people who I would consider famous to some level or another.

Oakwood Cemetery in Traverse City has a few 'famous' people buried within it's 40 plus acres of land. Some of the people are buried within are more locally famous than know outside the Grand Traverse Region.

The first person to come to mind is Perry Hannah. Mr. Hannah was a local lumber baron and a founding father of Traverse City. Ask anyone who is native to Traverse City and chances are they know something about Perry Hannah, even if it is just that he built the massive mansion on sixth street, which now occupies a local funeral home. Mr. Hannah was largely responsible and had an influence over many developments in Traverse City including the state hospital, the large state bank and even the cemetery in which he now rests in with his family. Perry Hannah was born 24 Sept 1824 outside of Erie Pennsylvania and died just a month short of his 80th birthday on 13 Aug 1904 just a few days after suffering a paralytic stroke.

Another person layed to rest in Oakwood cemetery is Donald Melvoin or better known to many adults my age as Deputy Don or Firemand Freddy. Deptuy Don was a favorite Saturday morning kids show. Mr. Melvoin lived out his years in Traverse City after retiring from his acting career. He was born 26 October 1922 and died 8 April 2002.

I want to share a blog I found written by a young genealogist, Elyse. It was amazing. Read her blog then I have attached my reply below. It is wonderful to have other 'young people' interested in their family history.



Your blog was very powerful. My friend, Brenda wrote about me above. I have one story to share, when I was giving my presentation in June I came in to see that an elementary school teacher of mine is a member of our society! She was the one who gave me an assignment to fill our a pedigree chart. That is the seed that was planted and since then it has grown to a hobby that I am very passionate about! I can definately understand hesitation joining a genealogical scoiety, even at almost 30 I'm probably the youngest member of our soceity currently. My goal is to attract more people 'my age' to our group. I have never felt out of place in the society and they have welcomed me with open arms. I was even asked to take a position on the board this year and like Brenda mentioned above, I gave my first presentation last month.

When I talk to colleges and friends they think that genealogy takes a lot of time and I try to tell them that with online databases and wireless internet and laptops that researching can be done while watching their favorite TV show at night. I also mention there are lots of free sites for reserach and that there is lots of interesting things to be discovered out there!

What you (and other young genealogists) are doing is wonderful. We have the advantage (most of the time) of having our grandparents alive and sometimes even our greatgrandparents sometimes. I have a 3 year old daughter who has to have her own forms when I am working and she travels frequently with me to cemeteries to take photographs and when she was still a tiny baby I would pack her up in her car seat carrier and take her along with me to do research in the library. I hope she catches the same passion that I have for family history.

Good Luck and Take care! I look forward to seeing more on your blog!



Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy Independence Day, Thank a vet

First of all, I am so excited to share that my blog is now part of the Geneablogger website list. I am very excited to be a part of the Geneabloggers and that I am now included on the list on the website. See the website at http://www.geneabloggers.com/.

As we all head off to our traditional, or not so traditional, 4th of July activities, take time to pause and thank the veterans that have afforded us, through whatever sacrifices, the freedoms that we enjoy today. Very few times are these men and women thanked for their sacrfices that they make to serve our country.
Whatever your celebrations are today, have fun and be safe! Remember when you are gathered around with the family to start jotting down those family stories as well, not matter how mundane they may seem...they are the treasures of future generations who will be curious about our lives, just as we are curious about past generations.

Happy Independence Day and Thank you to all the men and women of our Military for the sacrifices that you make everyday.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Thinking about family traditions

Fourth of July is just around the corner, it is time to think about family traditions once again. In our family we all gather at Grandma's house for a 4th barbecue. Cooking out on Grandma's deck has become a family tradition for my Aunts, Uncles and Cousins.
Another bonus to our family traditions is being about the see the National Cherry Festival air shows from Grandma's back yard. My parents live 2 houses away, and growing up between the airport and the airshow space has always had its advantage, we have our own private viewing area from the back yard! Until the trees got too tall we were able to see most of the fireworks as well.
These family get together's are a good time to update some files as well and share my latest research accomplishments. It is also a time for our family to share stories and, of course, get the latest updates on everyone's lives.
Happy 4th and Happy Researching!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Presentation Completed

I woke up today with butterflies in my stomach, knowing it was my big day to give my presentation at the GTAGS meeting. I was so nervous while she was introducing me, but once I got up front and started talking it was O.k. The whole presentation was about 45 minutes with about 10 minutes of questions and discussions at the end.
Many people told me that they thought the information that I presented was useful and that I did a good job. I presented on internet genealogical research. I tried to keep a very basic information because there is such a range of experience within the group. Everyone can benefit from returning to the basics now and then.
A special thanks to Internet Genealogy magazine for sending me 30 copies of the current issue to hand out at my presentation. What a great addition to hand out to the attendees. There were only a couple copies left at the end.
I was asked in a roundabout way about speaking again next year. We shall see.
Happy Ancestor Hunting.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Spring Cleaning and Organization

I have that room in my house, that almost every house has, 'the home office' which has become not really a home office but more of the family dumping ground for things that we don't know where to put it or where to hide everything when company is coming. We're trying to clean out that room, and I have found that the two feet of paper on the desk is mostly genealogy related. I think many genealogists share the same clutter of papers and treasures we've all gathered in our ancestor hunt.

I have also realized that I have a desk I have to clean off under all those papers. I've tried to tell my husband that it's an 'organized mess'. Now as the home office makes its transformation from office to a room for our baby that we are expecting in Decemeber, it gives me a chance to reflect on my organization and to see where I am repeating my work because I didn't know that I had a certain piece of paper. For example, I have found 4 copies of my Grandpa's step dad's obituary.

So I'm going to talk about my methods of orgnization. A very good book about organization is Oragnizing Your Family Tree by Sharon Debartello Carmack. In the book she describes some wonderful ways to organize your research, which I have modified to fit my needs.

First of all I have files of families by husband and wife. In those files also include their children unless I have 1)added so much additional paper on the child and his or her spouce and/or they have children as well or 2)they are my direct line ancestors and I am working on reseraching them.

There is so much more I could talk about my organization, but then that wouldn't get my cleaning very far. The house is slowly starting to look like a house again and not like a tornado went through it, although with a 3 year old sometimes it feels that way.

Happy researching and organizing.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Mistakes are Bound to Happen

So, Today's topic is about making mistakes and how we learn from them. So I'm talking about my mistakes and how I've learned from them.

The main one that sticks out in my mind is taking other researcher's information as correct. My GGGGrandpa George Lardie had a son, also named George Lardie. George, Jr. also had a son named George W. Confused yet? I am.

George Sr. first married a woman named Mary Chartran then Esther Beauchamp after Mary's death. George, Jr. married Harriett Coutu. George W. married Clara Secor and Clara Franklin, although I'm not sure yet in what order. Anyway, most reserachers have George, Jr and George, Sr's marriages messed up. I had George, Jr. married to his mother for a long time. When I broke out of just using internet research (another mistake to be discussed later) I started working on obituaries at the local library and death certificates. When Esther's obituary said she was a widow, I was really confused! After drawing a pedigree on a really large piece of paper, I realized that I had George, Jr. married to his mother! And that there was a George, Sr.

I had been relying on other researchers information as fact, when in fact, there were errors in other people's research as correct. Always verify your research and support it with sources. It also pays to look at those sources yourself.

Another major mistake I made as a 'newbie' is relying solely on the internet for research. This is a common mistake talked about in the industry magazines. When I started out genealogy, it was a school project to fill in a pedigree chart. Well, as a teenager growing up, one has limited funds on what can be spent for writing away and much of my time was spent writing relatives for updated information.

When I started dating my husband and met my mother-in-law, she showed me her Family Tree Maker (c) program, and I was able to find the some of my family. Then she showed me Ancestry! What a world of information that opened up for me! My husband bought me my first copy of Family Tree Maker (c) for Christmas and along with that came a free 1 year subscription to Ancestry. That started many long nights of research...and loss of sleep! I spent so much time using ancestry (and not much else) that I exhausted all the resources that ancestry had and found myself just searching the same things over and over again. I really didn't get into using local resources until about a year before I joined GTAGS. I guess the fear of not knowing what to expect and the fear of people being rude/mean kept me from checking out these resources. We all have heard horror stories about people's experiences while they are researching.

I'm sure there are many other mistakes that I have made along the way, none that really stick out right now. I'm sure there could be much more added to this entry.

Take care and good luck on your searches!
I hope you knock your brickwalls down!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Happy Memorial Day! Thank a vet!

Today as I sit here waiting for the family to get out of bed and get ready to go off to Mom and Dad's house for Golf, family and Barbeque, I like many people, think about, and thank, our veterans. Both my Grandpas were vets from World War II and my Dad is an Airforce Veteran and my husband is a veteran from the second Iraq war. I am thankful for the men and women who have given us the freedoms that we have.

Now of course this wouldn't be a complete entry without me talking about how to incorporate genealogy into our days. If your family is like mine, stories will be told today. This is a perfect time to record those stories. Taking a small tape or digital voice recorder to set nearby to record the stories. Another method is to take notes when stories are being told.
If you want to be more formal, prepare some interview questions to take along with you and set up some interview time with your family members. Some suggestions I have read include setting up time, like an appointment, with family members, or making an interview corner that family members can come to you. Personally I prefer a less formal method.

Another time to think about interviewing and recording stories is family reunions and gatherings. If you family is like mine, this summer you have reunions, camping and family cookouts for holidays. In our hometown there is also the summer time national festival. There are so many oppotunities to make family memories and gather family stories.

The stories are what makes our genealogy 'real'. Family History is more the just the facts and vital statistics, it is the stories that future generations will read that will make our lives more real to them, so it is important to record them.

Enjoy the barbeque, or whatever your family traditions, enjoy the family! Thank the vets in your lives! Be safe today!

Friday, May 22, 2009

My Collection of Genealogy Links!

So I'm trying a new entry style. I will be compiling a list of links for website that I have found interesting and useful. I will update this periodically!

Grand Traverse Area Genealogical Society (GTAGS)
Grand Traverse County Clerk, online death and marriage index
Traverse City State Hospital (Nothern Michigan Assylum)
Traverse Area District Library
Michigan's Research Website, includes the Michigan Death Certificate Project
Family Search website
Cyndi's List
Dead Fred
Find A Grave
Oral History Interview Questions
How to Conduct an Oral History Interview
The 1940 Census News!
Jewish Headstone Symbolism
Ancestry (what list wouldn't be complete without Ancestry)
National Archives-military records, etc; online ordering

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Research, Research and more Research

Last Thursday I spent almost all day at the Traverse Area District Library (TADL) working on my own research after I completed a couple quick Random Acts requests. I made some progress and I had one of those 'oh duh' moments.
Records are still being added onto the Seekingmichigan.org website for the death records, so after a quick search I was able to find several death certificates for members in my database. It helped put things together. One person of interest was John Peter Valley, s/o Isadore and Mary Valley, who died from a skull fracture. Obviously not a normal natural cause of death so my curiosity lead me to the microfilm where I found an article on the car accident that lead to John Peter's injuries that ultimately caused his death. I also confirmed that he was the father of little Louise Mary Valley, whom I had listed with my greatgrandparents, because she died at their house from from complications of diptheria. Anyway, John Peter was driving with William Emory when the car rolled and both men were thrown from the vehicle. William was unhurt, but is was stated in the article that John's head appeared to have hit a rock causing his injuries. In the article it stated the John was a widower and he left behind his daughter, Louise. I still don't for sure know the name of Louise's mother, but I have a tentative name of Mildred Evans. Further research is required for this to be sure.

Monday I spent most of the day with Kathi adding information from my research to our Oakwood Cemetery records project. I feel that I have added a valuable amount of information to the project. CDs will be available hopfully this fall. Once the group has finished with the records in the office we will be working in the cemetery to walk the cemetery and verify information on the headstones. It should be fun.

I also worked this week and finished adding several hand written pages of notes to cemetery cards that were complied from the Immaculate Conception Church death records. I was also able to sort by cemetery and put the cards in alphabetical order.

George Lardie (Lardy) and Esther Beauchamps

I finally have added a generation on my Lardie research. I found on ancestry.com a copy of the marriage record for George Lardie (Lardy), Sr. and Esther Beuchamps. It was in french, so after a day of waiting someone from the findagrave.com forums was able to translate the document into english for me. There are some very talented people there.
I have saved a copy of the image, which is from teh Druoin Collection in Canada. The record not only gave me George's and Esther's marriage date, but also stated that George was a widower and his first wife's name as well as the name of George's father and the names of both Esther's parents.
What an exciting find!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Pennsylvania Cancelled

It has been disappointing to find out that we are not able to take our trip to my ancestor's home state. Due to family conflicts we aren't able to take our vacation as we planned.
I've spent some time lately helping other people with their research locally. I've filled some Find A Grave photo requests and I'm working on a couple of RAOGK requests. I'm a little embarrassed that I actually lost one request out of my email. I think I deleted it. Ooops! I hope the requestor emails me back soon.
Anyway, off to bed soon.
Good luck in all your future research!

Saturday, April 11, 2009


Seems I haven't written about my experience with the GTAGS/DAR event from last month, I thought I had better do so now.
It was a nice set up and there were lots of helpers present. Eric came along to help lift and carry and move tables, but by the time we got there it was all almost done. I chose a table and set up my station. The first lady I helped was looking for a woman who was identified as 'some relation' but wasn't really sure and wanted to know more information about her. She was very eagar to find information, but what she had was very vague. I search with her for about half an hour with no luck. She said I gave her some ideas and I tried to give her suggestions to follow up with.
The second lady I tried to help was trying to locate a marriage certificate for her DAR membership. I was honest that I knew nothing about DAR but I would help her as well. I spent about half and hour with her as well with no luck. I also gave her some suggestions to follow up on. I hope she finds her marriage certificate.
I met a few members from the local chapter of DAR and after reflecting on my own research, I don't think I can qualify as a DAR member seems none of my relatives were in the US at that time. Maybe in the Loomis line, but I'm not sure.
After my second person I wandered around the room for a while then fatigue got the best of me and I left about an hour early. I was told there wasn't the turn out like there was last year, but I wonder if it is because many people came last year and don't have the brickwalls they had last year, or who knows!
It was in interesting day. Off to the next.

Slow Going

Things have been kinda slow lately in the genealogy arena for me. I've been so overwhelmed with school and I just learned a couple weeks ago we're going to be adding to our own family tree. Anyway, I've done some work on findagrave.com adding memorials and photos that I have taken, fulfilled a couple of photo requests and had a couple of my own requests filled for Fitzgerald family members in the Cadillac Area.

We are continuing to plan our trip to Pennsylvania for our family research. I just bought one of those scanning pens that scans text from Woot.com. I'm hoping it will come in handy for my research trip.

I finished the last couple of photos in Monroe Center Cemetery. I drove down there on Thrusday after class and the snow is finally melted off all the headstones.

I have submitted my first (and second) round of press releases as the publicity chair for GTAGS. It came to my attention after I sent out the batch orginally, that I put the wrong date, so after several phone calls and emails and another mailed batch, I think I have the error undercontrol. Thanks Brenda, if you're reading this, for catching that for me. This is definately a lesson in checking your work before submitting and making sure to proofread!
Of course, all this is after having the speaker changed because the orginal speaker that was booked wouldn't confirmed and that left us scrambling for a speaker. To make matters worse the orginal speaker was one of my newspaper contacts. I can imagine he was rather suprised when he recieved the email. At least it was straightened out.
I am very excited that this month's speaker is Betty Driscoll from Oceana County and she is speaking on her reserach on the Traverse City State Hosptial! I get lots of research requests about the state hospital and I am interested in hearing what Betty has to say. She is currently working on a book about the State Hospital, which I am sure I will add to my library here at home.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Google Maps

When we attended the Western Michigan Genealogy Society conference last fall, I learned about using Google Maps to help with my research. So today I spent the morning working on Google Maps with John and Emily Fitzgerald's family. I had done this once before, but that map came up missing. I think it was attached to another account, but its gone now. Anyway, I added the new map. I haven't quite figured out how to get the URL for the map, but once I do, I'll post it.

Today is the GTAGS/DAR workshop at the Traverse Area District Library at 1 to 4 pm, so I must be off. I will definately report on the workshop later!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Crains in Monroe Center Cemetery

Last week we took a 'trip' to Monroe Center South of Chums Corners to the cemetery there to photograph several Crain headstones. Half the stones we were looking for were covered by the only pile of snow in the entire cemetery.
We did find:
Burnette Crain
There was also an Elmer and Ernet Crain. I'm assuming sons of the couple below.

The stones buried by snow:
Dean Crain and His wife Sarah (Dean is the brother of Burnette)
and Flyod Crain, their son.

I will have to make this venture again soon, once the rest of the snow is gone.

Carnival of Irish Heritage & Culture: Upcoming 13th Edition: Our Irish heritage - What's in a name?

Carnival of Irish Heritage & Culture: Upcoming 13th Edition: Our Irish heritage - What's in a name?

Fitzgerald>>What's in a Name, Carnival of Irish Heritage and Culture

This is my first post for Genabloggers from facebook. The title here says it all!

The name Fitzgerald (also spelled FitzGerald and several other variations) mean son of Gerald.
Some snippets I have found on various internet sites about the history of the name follow:

FitzGerald Surname Origin(Origin Normandy French) The son of Gerald, Fitz, a son, Gerald (Teutonic), all-surpassing, excellent. This ancient and honorable family is traced from Otho or Other, a Baron in Italy, descended from the Grand Dukes of Tuscany. Walter, son of Otho, came into England with William the Conqueror, and afterward settled in Ireland. Maurice FitzGerald assisted Richard Strongbow in the conquest of that kingdom.

Source: An Etymological Dictionary of Family and Christian Names With an Essay on their Derivation and Import; Arthur, William, M.A.; New York, NY: Sheldon, Blake, Bleeker & CO., 1857.

Fitzgerald is one of the many first or middle names that was originally a surname. Like many surnames threatened with extinction within family trees and histories (mostly through marriage on the women’s sides of the families), it was adapted for first name use in order to keep it visible. As a surname, Fitzgerald’s origins are almost exclusively British and French and possibly trace back to French Norman conquest/English times. There is evidence is was also present in Ireland with roots beyond the isle of Britain to German (Teutonic) areas. Interestingly, all four origins (English, French, Irish, German) translate into the same definition: son of Gerald. This naming style was common and transferred beyond any one Gerald or any one son. In other words, being a Fitzgerald could mean literally being the son of someone named Gerald or being the son’s son or any line of grandsons from that Gerald. Further, there was not necessarily any one noteworthy or famous Gerald. It could be used like “Jr.” or “III” is today to identify the ancestors of someone with the same name. [1]


Fitzgerald Name Meaning and History
Irish: Anglo-Norman French patronymic from the personal name Gerald (see Garrett). The name was formed by the addition of the Anglo-Norman French prefix fi(t)z ‘son of’ (Latin filius) to the personal name. The Gaelicized form Mac Gearailt is common in the Gaelic-speaking areas of West Kerry.

Dictionary of American Family Names, Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-508137-4

Friday, March 20, 2009

Thomas Fitzgerald Pension Record

Friday, March 6, 2009
Thomas Fitzgerald Pension Record
A few days ago, Thomas' pension record arrived. It was sitting there between the front doors when we got home after getting our taxes done. I was so excited to see it there. I couldn't believe how thick it was. I was able to go through the file as a preliminary look over, but with all my school work, I couldn't really go through it until today. I have lots of information I'm adding to the file and filling in some holes, but it still doesn't give me anymore information on John and Emily. In fact, the only reference to John and Emily Fitzgerald made in the entire file is Thomas replying to the pension department that he was unable to access any family records about his birth as his parents are both dead. That recorded on 9 May 1913, which would be rather obvious that they would likely have died long before then, or they would both have been over 100 years old!
I did send a copy of the most current report this week to my Uncle Jack, who is my grandpa's only living sibling, to see if any new information helps him to remember anything about the family. I always look forward to seeing what Uncle Jack remembers, he always has stories about his grandparents. The stories make it all the more fun to do the research.

Research Arrival!

Research Arrival!
Yesterday my reserach arrived from Past & Present Research. I was so excited I was trying to carefully open the envelope as not to damage the papers inside and fighting off the urge to just tear into it like an egar kid on Christmas morning. Anyway, what an amazing treasure trove of information. The obituraries, espcially for Thomas, were very enlightening. The amount of detail in Thomas' obituary gave me some long awaited answers to some event timelines in his life. It also gave me the city of his birth, which happens to be the city that we are staying in during our trip to Pennsylvania! With some additional research before we leave, I am hoping to find the home where the family lived, and perhaps I may even find Emily and John, or at least where they are buried. The photo of Thomas isn't so good close up, but from a distance it actually makes a pretty good photograph. Maybe someday I can have it digitally enhanced to make it a better photo.
There is so much more information that I need to compile from the packet, it is going to take me a couple weeks to get it all in, plus I have to have some time to work on school work-I need to graduate eventually to keep funding me genealogy habit. :)
In the meantime I will continue to focus my research on the family and improve my odds of finding good information while we are on our trip. I have made some RAOGK.com requests of volunteers to help confirm burials in cemeteries. So far I have had no replies, but it has only been a couple days and it is still during the work week. More updates to come!

Follow up on Wexford County Research

Follow up on Wexford County Research
I talked to Alice LaBar today and she told me that she found all three of my obituaries! And that there was quite an article written about my Great, Great Grandfather, Thomas Fitzgerald and there was a photo of him in the paper! A photo! I can't believe how lucky I am. I'm so excited to recieve my packet of papers from her!
Alice was such a lovely lady to talk to on the phone as well. I would definately recommend anyone to contact them if they need research done in the Cadillac Area. She and her husband are knowledgable and definately went the extra mile for me! I will definately send her a thank you note after all this for her help.

I am now thinking about and reading articles in my spare time (what little I have right now) about ou planned Genealogy vacation for May to Pennsylvnia to see about tracking down some more of my Fitzgerald Ancestors. There are many helpful articles online on different Genealogy sites. I think I printed about 8 or 10 of them. So far I've read 4, I think, and they all say about the same things. 1)Have a plan 2)Do your homework 3)know what resources are available where you are going 4)know the hours of operation for places you want to research at 5)pack appropriate clothes 6)bring adequate supplies 7)know which resources you can access from home or nearby and which ones you can only get by traveling and focus on the latter. I know there's more, but I can't think of them right now, but I think these just about covers the basics.
So off to find more contact information so I can make a million phone calls over Spring break. Thank goodness for unlimited long distance phone plans.

Following up on Learned Tips

Sunday, February 22, 2009
Following up on learned tips
A tip I heard last weekend about going overand reviewing your reserch from time to time has helped pay off, at least in little baby steps. I found that my GrGrGrandfather's brother, William Tennyson Fitzgerald, was married a second time after his first wife died, and had another daughter by his second wife. Although it didn't get me any closer to breaking through my brickwall, it did give me a little bit more information on this family.

Another "trick" I learned last fall at the conference I went to in Grand Rapids taught me about using a mapping application, like Google maps, and use that to plot out information on a family to help things make sense. SO...I plotting out places that major events took place, census records, births, deaths and burials, of John and Emily Fitzgerald and the 4 sons that I know about through research and I made a discovery. Their life events follow major roads in Pennsylvania as well as their migration from New York City west into Pennsylvania. I would definately recommend to anyone on using this techinique. It is also helped me to plan where we are going and where we will be staying for our vacation in Pennsylvania this Spring.

Mistakes to be Made

Friday, February 20, 2009
Mistakes to be Made
I know that everyone is bound to make mistakes. After all this time I realized that I had the years wrong on the death dates of my GrGrandparents, Thomas and Henrietta Fitzgerald. Funny thing is that I would have never noticed it had I not contacted Past & Present research to help me with some of my research in hunting down obituaries. Even more interesting is the dates on Thomas' and Henrietta's headstone are not what is in the offical death record. I believe I was once told that their headstone was placed much later after their deaths so it was probably done from memory or someone had the wrong year written down. I look forward to reading everything Past & Present Research has found for me. Perhpas it will give me some clue into my brickwall ancestors.

Past & Present Research

Sunday, February 15, 2009
Past & Present Research
Today I got an amazing email from a professional researcher in Cadillac on a prelimiary search on my Fitzgeralds in Wexford. She sent me a detailed email on some of the members of the family. I learned about 2 siblings my Grandpa had that I never knew about. I will definately give them a call about what they found and I am planning on following up with my own research. I found them through the Wexford Library website.

The email:
Hi Alana ,

Yes, we can look for the obits you asked about . We usually charge $ x.xx a half an hour or $xx.xx an hour . It will take an hour and a half for the three which would be $xx.xx plus $x.xx mailing for a total of $xx.xx .
In the old papers we have to hand copy the information and retype it as it is written , which is time consuming. We will wait to hear form you before we start and there is no guarantee that they will be there , but we will try our best .

Now checking our sources here at the house which is free , we find the following ;

1. Ernest , Thomas and Henrietta are not buried in Wexford county according to Maple Hill cemetery and Mt. Carmel cemetery , which has several Fitzgeralds buried there .
2. Thomas and Henrietta ( Berry ) have a daughter who died in Wexford county named Ina - death date is Dec. 4, 1910 age 24 years 6 mo. 22 days .
3. Ernest and Martha ( Farrow / Furrow ) had two children , Ralph Francis - death date Apr. 17, 1922 age 11 days and Unk. death date Jan. 19, 1916 at age 11 hours .
4. Arthur and Jennie Marie ( Loomis ) had a daughter Ina Marie - Death date June 17, 1909 age 1 year , 5 months , 15 days . Also a son Lloyd Arthur - Death date , Sept. 13, 1913 age 2 months 17 days .
5. James and Catherine ( Golden ) had a daughter Mamie F. Death date , Aug. 13, 1928 age 49 years 3 months and 24 days .
6. Patrick and Mary ( King ) had a son Thos. Death date Oct. 18, 1909 age 64 Years 9 months 23 days .
All from the Wexford Co. death index upto 1929 .

Burials located in Mount Carmel ( Catholic ) -
Florence Fitzgerald died - Nov. 9, 1944 - Thomas is lot owner and husband .
Josephine Fitzgerald - died Nov. 23, 1900 - J. is lot owner and Husband .
Raymond J. Fitzgerald - died 1960 - lot owner is Thomas .
Regina Fitzgerald - died July 23, 1960 - lot owner is Thomas .
Thomas Fitzgerald - died Oct. 18, 1909 - lot owner is Thomas and wife is Florence .

City Directory - Cadillac 1938
Arth.( Jennie M. ) Farmer - home 743 Paluster .
Bernice - saleswoman - home 743 Paluster .
Melvin ( Irene ) Shop Supt. at Ovaiett's Bakery - home 812 1/2 South Mitchell St.
Pearl , Mrs. Helper at Wexford Cafe - home 211 1/2 South Mitchell St.
Roy ( Pearl ) home 211 1/2 South Mitchell St.

Wexford Co. Marriages 1868 - 1897 index.
Edward 1897
Thomas A. 1883
Charles 1882
Wm. K. 1890

Recent Obits.
Jack Pearce - July 6, 2008
Marvin L. - Spet. 19, 2006
Pearl ( Mrs. Roy ) Feb. 1960

There is a Harry Fitzgerald buried in Maple Hill cemetery but is not listed in the Wexford Co. deaths . Date in cemetery is Dec. 27, 1884 .

We also have a listing for the 1884 city directory for Cadillac , which lists
Thomas living in Harristown ( a section of Cadillac ) and is listed as a machinest .

Hope this helps .
We also will need to have an address and phone number if you decide to have us check .
Alice & Charles LaBar
Past & Present Research


I've decided to give footnote a try. In a short time I've already found some documets on my Fitzgerald family. I'll give it a try for a month and see what is brings. At least it is a better price than ancestry.

Irishing Naming Traditions

Saturday, February 14, 2009
Irish Naming Traditions
This was an interesting bit on Irish naming traditions. Here is the link to the entire webpage: http://www.babynamesofireland.com/pages/naming-traditions.html

Oldest son named after the Father's father
2nd son named after the Mother's father
3rd son named after the Father
4th son named after the Father's oldest brother

Oldest daughter named after the Mother's mother
2nd daughter named after the Father's mother
3rd daughter named after the Mother
4th daughter named after the Mother's oldest sister

I hint? I hope so.

Internet Research Project

I volunteered to speak at an upcoming GTAGS meeting on internet research. I've planned on using a case study approach because it makes the most sense to me and I really didn't know where else to start. At least Brenda came up with a good title! Climbing Internet Genealogy Brick Walls. Hopefully people don't think I'm borning and I can help them learn.

I'm also excited to take on my new role as the publicity chair for the society. Still not quite sure what I'm supposd to do, but I'm sure it will come.

A Prayer for Genalogists

A Prayer for Genealogists
Lord, help me dig into the past
And sift the sands of time,
That I might find the roots that made
This family tree of mine.

Lord, help me trace the ancient roads
On which my fathers trod,
And led them through so many lands
To find our present sod.

Lord, help me find an ancient book
Or dusty manuscript
That's safely hidden now away
In some forgotten crypt;

Lord, let it bridge the gap that haunts
my soul when I can't find
The missing link between some name
that ends the same as mine.

N. Curtis Woods

Welcome to the new blog!

Welcome everyone to my new blog site.
Technical difficulties aside-don't we love computers some days!- This blog is going to follow the same format as my original blog. I'll be trying to transfer over those posts, I hope, to this site.

A little reminder for anyone local that the GTAGS/DAR event is coming up March 28th. Read below for more info:

Genealogy Workshop presented by the Job Winslow Chapter NSDAR along with GTAGS on Saturday, March 28, 2009 at the Traverse Area District Library 1:00 PM - 4:00 PM. The workshop is open to anyone interestd in working on their family tree. There will be chapter genealogists and members to assist those attending on a one-to-one basis. Everyone is welcome to attend the workshop at anytime throughout the afternoon. There is no charge and registration is not required. For those planning to attend it would be hlepful to bring any useful date or documents about your family.

I look forward to seeing anyone who can make it there!