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

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!