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


Thursday, December 30, 2010

2011 Resolutions

Every year I make resolutions...loose a few pounds, eat healthier, pay off some debt....but I've never before made Genealogy Resolutions. 
So this week's Geneabloggers challenge, works off of last week's challenge:
Week 52: Based on the goals you made last week, make a list of the documents and research steps you need to accomplish them. The great way to start a new year is with a to-do list and a plan. What information do you want and where can you get it? If you have professional or educational goals in mind, consider drafting a timeline. This task is flexible, based on your goals. When you are finished, post your to-do list somewhere handy and pat yourself on the back. You just finished the 52 Weeks to Better Genealogy Challenge!

 First let's review the list of goals that I created last week:

  1. Attend 2011 Southern California Genealogical Society Jamboree in June
  2. Follow up on letters I have written and research requests I have made and haven't heard back from.
  3. Make time to research
  4. Improve my genealogy education
  5. Utilize more offline records such as churches, FHC, etc
  6. continue to be a RAOGK Volunteer
  7. Continue to volunteer on Family Search
  8.  Write on my blog at least once a week

For my first goal I need to arrange time off at work, get the plane ticket, register for Jamboree (online registration starts after Jan1st) and make my hotel reservation.

To follow up on the letters that I have written entails going through my research log notes and see which places I have no received replies from and write follow up letters.  Of course after writing the letters, they need to be mailed out.

My third goal is to make more time to research.  Ok, I admit that lately I've been in a funk lately and even when I've had time to research I don't.  So, I'm not so sure if when I actually wrote this goal if it was more because I was in a funk, or because I really do need to set aside time every week or two to do a little bit of research.  Part of this, I think, also means to think outside the box and find new resources to search to actually make progress on my research.


To improve my genealogy education, I plan to read more educational books, attend Jamboree, continue to attend our local genealogy society meetings and to participate in the genealogywise online chats.  I'm sure there are other educational opportunities that will come up along the way during the year as well.

My next goal ties in with my goal of making more time to research and to seek out information in other resources.  I tend to research the same online sites over and over and it can be very frustrating not making progress on my research, which can also account for the research funk. 

The next two goals, continue to volunteer for Random Acts of Genealogy Kindness and to do volunteer work for Family Search supports my goals of helping to keep genealogy free and help other researchers.

The last goal that I have written, I have already gotten a head start on.  I've been busy planning and scheduling my 'Tombstone Tuesday' entries.  Although I don't have the next year completely finished, I have much of the year planned out.  I hope to write more entries in general though about my research and how and what I've researched.  Also be looking for my insights as a first timer to Southern California's Jamboree!

    Tuesday, December 28, 2010

    Tombstone Tuesday

    Margaret Velt Rauleder (Rowlader)
    b. 23 May 1793 Munchingen, Baden-Wurttemberg, Germany
    m. Johann Micahel Rauleder 10 Jul 1819 Munchigen, Baden-Wuttemberg, Germany
    d. 16 Sep 1876 Woodland, Barry County, Michigan
    buried Woodland Memorial Cemetery, Woodland, Barry County, Michigan


    Friday, December 24, 2010

    Merry Christmas

    Merry Christmas everyone!
    Thank you for making my blog great this year! 
    I'm excited to share 2011 with you all!


    Wednesday, December 22, 2010

    2011 Here I come!

    This week's Geneabloggers Challenge:
    Week 51: Think about the goals you want to accomplish next year and write them down. What research steps do you want to take? What records would you like to find? Think about the brick walls you’d like knocked down. What things haven’t you done yet and why not? This task doesn’t have to be a resolution list unless you want it to be. Authors of genealogy blogs may share their lists with their readers if they choose

    I jokingly told someone the other day that my 2011 Genealogy plan was to have a plan....
    So this is my plan for my 2011 research list/plan:


    1. Attend 2011 Southern California Genealogical Society Jamboree in June
    2. Follow up on letters I have written and research requests I have made and haven't heard back from.
    3. Make time to research
    4. Improve my genealogy education
    5. Utilize more offline records such as churches, FHC, etc
    6. continue to be a RAOGK Volunteer
    7. Continue to volunteer on Family Search
    8.  Write on my blog at least once a week
    So he's a start to my 2011 plan.  The next part of my plan to return to it at least once a month, but hopefully every couple of weeks and let you all know my progress on my plan and to keep you all updated on my progress and my finds/brickwalls. So stay tuned!

      Tuesday, December 21, 2010

      Tombstone Tuesday

      Elisie Moore Empey
       b. 1854, New York
      m. John Nelson Empey
      d. 1932, Norwood, Charlevoix County, Michigan
      burial: Norwood Cemetery, Charlevoix, Charlevoix County, Michigan





      Saturday, December 11, 2010

      Ancestor Approved Award

      http://wkygenealogy.blogspot.com/This morning I received a message from Bill West that he has awarded me and my blog the Ancestor Approved Award!


      Thank you Bill!  I am both honored and humbled! And of course, I had to do the 'Genealogy Happy Dance!'....now where is my 4-year-old...?

      As a recipient of the award I am to list 10 things that have humbled, surprised and enlightened that I have learned about my ancestors in my research and to pass the award on to 10 other genealogy blogger that I feel are doing their ancestors proud!

      So here's my list of 10 things and my list of 10 fellow bloggers.

      1. I was surprised (and shocked) with the discovery of the murder/suicide committed by my 3rd great grandpa against his wife, my 3rd great grandma. For those that did not see my entry on this, check it out here

      2. I have been enlightened over and over again by the history that my ancestors have lived through. 

      3. I am humbled by the notion that if even one link in my ancestry was broken, I would not be here!

      4. I am always enlightened by the history that I learn through my research.  I have learned history, improved math skills, writing skills and research skills.  My daughter has always been my research buddy and now my son.  My daughter will ask for a blank form and sit next to me with her pens and pencils and fill in her forms!  I hope that she will enjoy genealogy as well because of the many educational benefits she can receive from it. 

      5. I am humbled by the changes in technology that we enjoy and perhaps even take for granted, that my ancestors would never have dreamed of.  As well as the changes my own grandparents have seen in technology from the invention and progression of automobiles and telephones to computers and cell phones. Can we even fathom what technology our grandchildren will enjoy?

      6.  I am surprised by how many people I meet are interested in Genealogy, but many of them tell me, "Oh I don't have time to do it like you do!"  What?  Who has time?  I just graduated nursing school, I work full-time night shift, and I have 2 children and a husband.  Genealogy is a family activity in our house though and many times I sit with my laptop and work on my research while we watch our evening TV. 

      7. At times I am surprised how much time has passed when I am researching...sometimes and entire night will slip by while I am deep in the hunt!  (How many of us have done this?)

      8. I am humbled by the miles that some of my ancestors have traveled from their homelands and across the United States....the phrase "are we there yet?" takes on a whole new meaning!

      9.  I am surprised at all the wonderful people I have met, my "genealogy" cousins and how certain family stories have survived generations of family and multiple family lines. 

      10. I am humbled by the receipt of this award for just doing something that I love so much!

      1. Elyse Doerflinger Elyse's Genealogy Blog
      2. Gena Philibert Ortega Gena's Genealogy
      3. Brenda Moore Grand Traverse Area Genealogical Society
      4. Brenda Joyce Western Kentucky Genelogy Blog
      5. Amy Coffin, MLIS We Tree Genealogy Blog
      6.
      7.
      8.
      9.
      10.

      Ok, so I know I only have 5 blogs listed so far...I'm working on 5 more. 

      Thursday, December 9, 2010

      Making the Family Skeletons Dance

      A quote I recently found by George Bernard Shaw..."If you can't get rid of the family skeleton, you may as well make it dance".....is the inspiration for today's entry.  In honor of Halloween, of course, I was thinking about how my own family "skeletons" can come out and dance. Anyone who has been following me for a while knows that I have my own share of family skeletons...from my family ties to the infamous Loomis Gang of Sanger County to this year's startling discovery of the horrific murder/suicide committed by my 3rd great grandfather.

      This started me to think, how can I make the family skeletons dance?  So I thought of 4 ways that we can all share our family 'skeletons'. 

      1. Write a blog.  Having a blog allows me to share my thoughts and ideas.  It also helps me to brainstorm and connect with other genealogists and learn and come up with new ideas.  It's also a good place for me to share my stories, especially seems we genealogists love to talk!

      2. Make a family history album.  There are so many options to make family history albums.  From traditional paper and glue scrapbooks, to digital scrapbooks, to online services such as Ancestry who offer the ability to make and have a family history book made.  Personally I use my Creative Memories Story Book Creator digital scrap booking software.  I have three or four albums I have been working on for a couple years now.

      3. Publish a website.  My favorite website it Tribal Pages.  I have my own Tribal Pages website.  I am able to upload my GedCom file and family photos to share.  Another benefit of having a website is that it is an online, off site place for me to keep my information and research safely stored away. 

      4. Write an article for the Genealogy or historical society.  I have written a family history on my Lardie family for the GTAGs newsletter.  I was able to connect with a couple members who are also tied into the family.  I also inspired other members to write about their families.  You might not see results right away, but good things can come of it.  Plus this is another way to safeguard all your research. 

      So, how do you make your family skeletons dance?

      Wednesday, December 8, 2010

      Fort Custer National Cemetery,Augusta, Michigan

       During a recent trip to Battle Creek, Michigan, I found some time to take a tour of Fort Custer National Cemetery.  This is my first visit to a National Cemetery. 
      
      
      The main entrance to the cemetery
       Ok, so I have to admit that I drove past the cemetery the first time without even seeing the road sign pointing out the cemetery entrance or this beautiful stone wall that marks the main entrance to the cemetery. 

      Let me note here that yes, that is snow on the ground and yes it was very cold that day, so I have no close up headstone photos.  In fact many of my photos are taken out my car window. 
      
      Close up of the emblem on the main entrance sign.
      

      
      The Cemetery map
      
      Coming in the main drive, there is this sign that has a layout of the entire cemetery.  I know we have a couple large cemeteries in Traverse City, but I think we could fit them all here in Fort Custer, together at one time. 
      The map is nice to have and gives a good idea of the layout of the cemetery.

      The main drive is also know as the Avenue of Flags and flags are flown, according to the pamphlet I picked up 24 hours a day, 7 days a week from around Easter time until after Veterans Day.  From the photos I have seen, it must be quite a sight to see all the flags up. Volunteer donation of flags are accepted for the flags on the poles and volunteers are used to maintain the flags and poles when they are flown. 

      
      The main drive entering the cemetery standing next to the map pictured above.  The drive is also known as the Avenue of Flags. 
      
      Gravesite locator kiosk
      
      Ok, I admit that I was like a kid in a candy store at the Gravesite Locator.  This is the first time I have been to a cemetery with one of these, although I have heard that there are cemeteries that have them out there. 

      I searched 4 surnames in my research.  Fitzgerald, Courtad, Loomis, and Lardie.  My search for Fitzgerald revealed 12 persons buried at Fort Custer, 0 for Courtad, 10 for Loomis and 0 for Lardie.  A search of Find A Grave at home revealed there are others with other surnames from my family also buried within the cemetery.

      I must have been some sight standing there dressed up (we had a party a little later that afternoon) jumping up and down trying to stay warm while I waited for my print outs to finish.  There were also five different pamphlets available about the cemetery and about military funerals. 
      
      The main flagpole


      One of the bronze sculptures in the cemetery





      The Forgotten 26
      The forgotten 26 is a tribute to Germans  that have died in service to their country.  Of these particular Germans 16 of them died in a car accident when the truck they were in was hit by a train at an unguarded railroad crossing.  The other 10 died of various causes.  All were P.O.W.s  being held at Fort Custer. 
      The Forgotten 26 dedication plaque

      An annual ceremony is now held in honor of the German Veterans buried here. 

      The cemetery overall was amazing to see.  I was awestruck by the beauty and the size of the cemetery.  it seems that only a small portion of the cemetery is used and much wooded property is still available for future use.  I felt a great sense of pride in the military men and women buried here. 

      For more info and history you can visit the Fort Custer Cemetery website


      

      Tuesday, December 7, 2010

      Traditions

      My Irish Santa Ornament
      The Carnival of Eastern and Central European Genealogy, 32nd edition topic is anything to do with the Holidays.


      With the holidays right around the corner, it got me thinking about my family traditions as I frequently do every year around this time of year. 

      Every year, the weekend after Thanksgiving my husband and I put up our Christmas tree and decorate the house.  This year was no exception.  Satruday evening.  We took out our artificial prelit tree and let the kids put on the decorations.  Of course our daughter, who is 4, delights in putting up the decorations.  The next morning she woke and looked at me with a bewlidered look and said, "Mommy, there's no presents under the tree!"  She made me laugh and I explained to her that it wasn't time yet. 

      All the special ornaments are on the tree.  One special one sticks out in my mind this year.  It is my Irish Santa.  I had bought one for my grandpa and gave it to him when he was still in the nursing home.  He had it hanging on his buliten board while he was still there.  I bought the exact same ornament for myself.  Every year I hang it on my tree. It give me happy memories of my grandpa, who was very proud of our Irish roots.  I remember he used to tell us grandkids that "You can always tell and Irishman, but you can't tell him much".

      Another tradition that we have every year is that everyone gets to open one present on Christmas eve.  Now this year may be different.  This year I have to work the 7pm to 7am night shift at my job, so we may not continue this tradition this year, although if my daughter has anything to say about it, I'm sure we will!

      One of my favorite things about Christmas is all the decorations.  My husband and I started taking trips out every year to see all the lights and decorations that people put up outside their houses in their yards.  Let me tell you, we have seen some pretty elaborate set ups.  My daughter love to see all the lights and she gets very excited, even now as more and more displays are up when it gets dark out at night.  We can always count on hearing, "Look! Christmas!" from the backseat of our mini van when my daughter sees the lights outside.

      Saturday, November 27, 2010

      There's One in Every Family!

      The 100th Carnival of Genealogy topic is "There's One in Every Family".  When reflecting on this topic, many names come to mind.  The Loomis Gang, my 3rd Great Grandpa Wood, (I wrote about earlier this summer), and various other colorful characters. Although, one comes to my mind.  My Great Grandpa Stanley Wood. 

      Stanley and His father, George C. Wood.
      My Grandma tells me fondly of her father's days with the circus.  And not just any circus, the Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus. Grandma always speaks of great fondness of her father.  Apparently Stanley ran away from home when he was 15 and joined the circus.  (How many of us said we would od this at one time or another during our lives.)  Stanley worked with the elephants and horses.  One story she tells me is of Stanley taking the elephants down to the river to bathe them.  The townsfolk would come down to the river to watch the elephants and occasonally they elephants would spray the onlookers.  I've never been able to find any record of Stanley being part of Barnum and Bailey Circus, but I haven't done much intensive research on this.

      Another interesting story about Stanley that I can confirm is that he was one of the founders of the Peninsula Township Fire Department in Grand Traverse County, Michigan.    I have a copy of the newspaper article about the formation of the department and I have a photo of the founding members of the department. 
      
      1963 Members of Peninsula Township Fire Department-Harry Heller, Arnie White, Roy Hooper, Claude Watson, Isadore Lardie, Stan Wood, and Ray Heller. Not pictured is Oakley Lardie.
       So who is your one in your family?  I'd love to hear!  Don't forget to check out the Carnival of Genealogy on Facebook!

      Happy Hunting!!

      Monday, November 22, 2010

      Oakwood Cemetery CD is finally available from GTAGS!

      The long awaited Oakwood Cemetery CD is now available from the Grand Traverse Area Genealogical Society!   There are a limited number of the CDs available and this is the most complete collection of information on Oakwood Cemetery!  See the info below from the GTAGS blog:

      Oakwood Cemeteries CD-rom for sale!


      Oakwood Cemeteries

      is published and for sale!!!!

      by Grand Traverse Area Genealogical Society of Traverse City, Michigan



      Grand Traverse Area Genealogical Society has just released its third CD; this one covers the four Oakwood Cemeteries of Traverse City, Grand Traverse County, Michigan burials. Oakwood, established in 1861, encompasses a total of four cemeteries: Traverse City, Catholic Diocese, Beth El Jewish and the Northern Michigan Asylum. The four cemeteries are all at the same location on E. 8th Street.



      There are a total of 22,185 burials recorded with information that includes, if known, full name including maiden name, birthdate, death date, birthplace, cause of death, parents, military service, place of death and cause of death.



      The price is: $35.00 plus $3.00 S&H. Send orders, with check or money order made out to GTAGS, to:

      GTAGS

      POB 2015

      Traverse City, Michigan 49685 2015



      For further information, email Kathi: kfarley40@charter.net, Cemetery Chair
      http://gtags79.blogspot.com/2010/11/oakwood-cemeteries-cd-rom-for-sale.html

      Wednesday, November 17, 2010

      Wordless Wednesday

      Lillian H. Lardie
      My Great Grandmother as a small girl.  The photo was found in a box of old family photos.

      Thursday, November 11, 2010

      Happy Veterans Day!

      Thank you to all the men and women who have and who are currently serving in our armed forces!
      HAPPY VETERANS DAY!


      Tuesday, November 9, 2010

      Tombstone Tuesday

      Valley/Lardie Family Plot in St Joseph's Catholic Cemetery, Mapleton, Michigan


      
      Close up of the cross that marks the family members buried in the plot
      
      
      Mary Elizabeth Deverney Valley
       Mary Elizabeth Deverney Valley
      b. 11 Feb 1837, P. Eulia(?), Wisconsin
      d. 3 Jun 1916 Peninsula Township, Grand Traverse County, Michigan
      buried 6 June 1916 St. Joseph's Catholic Church, Mapleton, Grand Traverse County, Michigan
      m. Isadore Valley
      Find a Grave Memorial

      mother to:
      Rose Magdaline Valley
      Mary Catherine Valley Lardie
      Frances J. Valley
      George H. Valley
      John Peter Valley

      I edited this post to include the link to the Find A Grave memorial that I created.

      Thursday, November 4, 2010

      The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald

      Growing up in Michigan and having the last name of Fitzgerald, I was frequently asked if my Grandpa's name was Edmund.  No, his name wasn't Edmund, it was Thomas.
      SS Edmund Fitzgerald Courtsey of NOAA
      The challenge this week for GeneaBloggers is to write about a song or poem that has some signficance to your ancestors of to the area where your ancestors lived.  For me "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald" has always had a special interest even though, as far as I know, there is no relation between me and the famous ship's namesake.
      The ship sank in Lake Superior in November during a storm.  It is unknown for sure what happened that illfated day, but all on board were lost.  I have visited the Whitefish Point Museum where several artifacts from the Fitzgerald have been brought up.  More information Here on the Fitzgerald.
      The song "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald" by Gordon Lightfoot, gives a haunting account of the sinking...

      "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald"
      by Gordon Lightfoot

      The legend lives on from the Chippewa on down

      Of the big lake they call Gitche Gumee
      The lake, it is said, never gives up her dead
      When the skies of November turn gloomy.

      With a load of iron ore - 26,000 tons more
      Than the Edmund Fitzgerald weighed empty
      That good ship and true was a bone to be chewed
      When the gales of November came early

      The ship was the pride of the American side
      Coming back from some mill in Wisconsin
      As the big freighters go it was bigger than most
      With a crew and the Captain well seasoned.

      Concluding some terms with a couple of steel firms
      When they left fully loaded for Cleveland
      And later that night when the ships bell rang
      Could it be the North Wind they'd been feeling.

      The wind in the wires made a tattletale sound
      And a wave broke over the railing
      And every man knew, as the Captain did, too,
      T'was the witch of November come stealing.

      The dawn came late and the breakfast had to wait
      When the gales of November came slashing
      When afternoon came it was freezing rain
      In the face of a hurricane West Wind

      When supper time came the old cook came on deck
      Saying fellows it's too rough to feed ya
      At 7PM a main hatchway caved in
      He said fellas it's been good to know ya.

      The Captain wired in he had water coming in
      And the good ship and crew was in peril
      And later that night when his lights went out of sight
      Came the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.

      Does anyone know where the love of God goes
      When the waves turn the minutes to hours
      The searchers all say they'd have made Whitefish Bay
      If they'd put fifteen more miles behind her.

      They might have split up or they might have capsized
      They may have broke deep and took water
      And all that remains is the faces and the names
      Of the wives and the sons and the daughters.

      Lake Huron rolls, Superior sings
      In the ruins of her ice water mansion
      Old Michigan steams like a young man's dreams,
      The islands and bays are for sportsmen.
      And farther below Lake Ontario
      Takes in what Lake Erie can send her
      And the iron boats go as the mariners all know
      With the gales of November remembered.

      In a musty old hall in Detroit they prayed
      In the Maritime Sailors' Cathedral
      The church bell chimed, 'til it rang 29 times
      For each man on the Edmund Fitzgerald.

      The legend lives on from the Chippewa on down
      Of the big lake they call Gitche Gumee
      Superior, they say, never gives up her dead
      When the gales of November come early.

      Tuesday, November 2, 2010

      Tombstone Tuesday

      Deacon John Loomis
      born 1622
      died 1 Sept 1688 in Windsor, CT
      buried Palisado Cemetery, Windsor, CT
      The Son of Joseph and Mary (White) Loomis
      Married Elizabeth (Scott) Loomis
      Find a Grave Memorial

      If the stone is still intact, it is believed to be the oldest Loomis headstone in the U.S.

      Saturday, October 30, 2010

      Who or what do you blame? SNGF

      Tonight I read a post by fellow blogger Elyse Doerflinger posted an entry based on Brenda Joyce Jerome's Who or What do you blame prompt from her blog for Saturday Night Genealogy Fun (SNGF).
      Brenda asks:
      "Can you identify person or event that started you on this search for family information? Did you pick up researching where a relative had left off?  Did your interest stem from your child's school project on genealogy?   If you have been researching many years, it may be hard to pinpoint one reason for this  journey. "

      First of all, I think blame is a rather strong word. I can think back to a school project that I had to do in Social Studies class in 3rd or 4th grade, it may have even been 5th grade.  Our assignment was to fill out a pedigree chart.  After that I dabble in research with my Mom's help.  I wrote letters to the family and worked on more current generations of the family.  I think I was about 13 when my passion really started to take off. I wrote letters diligently and compiled information.

      Ancestry made another big impact on my obession with genealogy.  I began to compile historical information on my roots.  About the same time I met my husband and eventually his Mom.  She introduced me to Family Tree Maker.  That Christmas my husand gave me a copy of Family Tree Maker for a Christmas gift. 

      I did always love to her my Grandpa tell stories of him growing up.  I have been working on compiling those stories...something I wish I had done when I was younger.  My Dad and I have been working to record some of the stories that my Grandpa used to tell. 

      So, I guess there are many reasons and many people why I am here.  And many people why I am here....either way, I am here.  Like I said ealier, blame is a very strong word.  Either way all the people who are important in my life, also support my passion.  My parents, my Grandma and my wonderful husband!  My daughter takes much joy in filling out her own forms and walking through cemeteries with Mommy.

      Thursday, October 28, 2010

      Kids and Genealogy

      Tonight I read a blog entry from Legacy.  He talked about his son wanting to be a genealogist.  You can read the story Here.
      This made me think of my own child and our trials and tribulations through genealogy. One of my favorite moments with my kids is when we were driving past Oakwood Cemetery on 8th Street in Traverse City (MI) one day and my 4-year-old chimed in from the back seat and she said, "Look Mommy genealogy!" (Pronounced only how a 4-year-old can....GeeNeeeOLOGY).

      Cluster Research

      So I've been reflecting on my recent genealogy break through on my Fitzgearld line and I'm sure some of you are wondering how I was able to track down all this information on one family.  The answer: Cluster Research. 

      So what is Cluster Research....good question, I didn't know what it was either, but apparently I was doing it already AND I had been doing it for years.  Basically cluster research is reseaching collateral lines of your ancestors and researching other people your ancestors may have associated with to discover more information on your brickwall ancestors.

      So here's what I'm talking about with real life examples...
      My 2nd GrGpa is Thomas Fitzgerald. From his records, I have found that his parents were John and Emily (Tennyson/Tenison) Fitzgerald.  Through additional reserach I have found the John and Emily had the follow children: William, Mary, Emma, Thomas, Agnes, John, Margaret Elisabeth, James Francis, and Edward.  After some time I could not link John and Emily to their parents, I started researching on their sons to see if I could find additional information on John and Emily.  It has been almost impossible to find anything on their daughter....but not for lack of trying.  Through researching the sons additional information on John and/or Emily.  Through my research I found on Edward's death certificate that John was born in the City of Cork, Ireland....I have yet to confirm this,  but its a starting point.  So far tracking down Edward, the youngest son, has given me the most information on John and Emily.    It has definately proven to be beneficial to track information on my GGGGrandparents children. 

      This is just a brief overview on Cluster research.  I highly recommend Gus Marsh's chat on Genealogywise.  There is a transcript online of Gus' chat on cluster reserach.  If you have brickwalls....even if you don't have brickwalls, you should be cluster researching.  Additional information and source supports the research that you already have.


      Happy Hunting!

      Wednesday, October 27, 2010

      The Fitzgerald Family Find

      This week brought more information to my 3rd Great Grandparents family!  I recently wrote to the Diocese of Harrisburg after finding that my family was catholic.  Through reseach, I discovered that the Diocese provides a research service for a fee.  I printed out the research request for and filled in the information that I had and sent off the form and the research fee.  It didn't take very long to get a return. 
      The letter returned gave me some history on the diocese and the churches....again fire is my nemesis, the church bured to the ground completely, all records being lost.  Although, I did glean some information about the family. 
      The information provided to me included the births, baptisms and full names of three of the Fitzgerald children.  It also provided very different spellings of names....for example, John's name was spelled Joanne Fitzgerald and John Jr's name spelled Joannem.  At first thought I was thinking this was the Irish version of the name John, but after some inquires on Genealogywise, there is no 'J' in the Gaelic language....which means I'm searching for the wrong name in Irish records.  Come to find out, Joanne and Joannem is the latin form of John, which makes sense seems so many early catholic records are written in latin.  The irish form of John is Eoin.
      But the records gave me the births and baptisms of the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th youngest Fitzgerald children.  And another place to write to for additional information on the family.  I'm composing my letter next! 
      The lesson here: Don't forget the good old tried and true research methods, even in this day and age of technology!

      Happy Hunting!

      Tuesday, October 12, 2010

      Amazing Event

      On September 16th  GTAGS had an amazing event at the Traverse Area District Library (TADL) put together by our past president, Mary B.  Our event was called "Hands On Genealogy" in which we exposed people to various sources for research at the library to assist researchers in their search.  The turn out was amazing.  We doubled our expected turn out.

      Participants were given tasks to do in the library to find certain information on pre-researched information to help familiarize themselves with the resources available at our library.  I was posted at the 2 computers that the library has provided with databases where people can come and do their own research.  I was so amazed at the positive responses that we were given!  One participant even found her mother in a year book that the library had in it's collection.

      All of GTAGS should be proud of the amazing accomplishment.  We planned for 20 to 30 people, and we had 51 registered participants, and about a dozen GTAGS members helping out.  We're already planning for our next event. 

      Sunday, October 3, 2010

      Genealogy Quote of the Day!

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

      Wednesday, September 29, 2010

      The Brickwall Comes Tumbling Down

      Recently my focus has been on my Fitzgerald ancestors, specifically John and Emily (Tennyson) Fitzgerald's family.  I have been doing a lot of collateral or cluster research.  I have been tracing down their children as far as I can chase them....some farther than others.  All this in preparation for the trip to Pennsylvania with my family (the trip has been postponed again due to my recent new job...but that's for another day).  Anyway, this family has been m brickwall for 10 years! 
      A few weeks ago I requested a death record transcription from a wonderful volunteer via Random Acts of Genealogical Kindess for John and Emily's youngest son, Edward.  Edward moved to Iowa, had a family, then died in Los Angeles at the home of his daughter.  He and his wife are buried in Inglewood Cemetery in Inglewood, California.  Imagine my joy when, on Edward's death certificate, John's city of birth in Ireland was recorded!  So know I know that my 3rd Great Grandfather was born in the City of Cork, County Cork, Ireland!  Now I still don't have John's parent's names, but I have a great detail about my ancestry!  AND it's a very exciting discovery. 
      So maybe the brickwall hasn't come completely down, but I think I have broken a big chunk out of it!
      Happy Hunting!

      Wednesday, September 1, 2010

      Burning the midnight Oil...

      I have been known in the past to stay up well into the wee hours of the morning working on research, espcially when I am on a hot lead.  I think many genealogists can relate to that.  Now I am working night shift and I am awake at night, even on my nights off.  It takes a whole new meaning to "Burning the midnight Oil".  It is funny to think that when I first found out I would be working nights, like many other new nurses, I thought "Wow!  I'll have lots of time for genealogy research!"  So on a recent night off I was working on research and fortunately also on a 'hot' lead as well.  And No family complaining that I wasn't paying attention to them.  :)

      Monday, August 23, 2010

      My Top 10 Genealogy Website Picks

      So I've decided to talk about my top 10 Favorite websites that I use for my own personal Genealogy research.  These are in no particular order. 

      1. Google  A General search engine, of course, is hand because I am always looking things up.   I use it to look up words and medical conditions I'm not familar with, to find addresses for places to write letters to, sometimes I just do a search for the ancestor I'm currently researching, and then my own personal email is a gmail account.  Some other features of Google that I really like is the mapping feature, the online google books and the ability to store files online. 

      2. Family Search I like Family Search a lot.  I mostly use the Pilot website.  I like to be able to see the images of the sources.  Indexing isn't always perfect for a number of factors, old handwriting, clearity on the screen, typos, etc.  I love the fact that this website is also free to use and supported by volunteers.  Don't forget to include the website in your source citation!  I also volunteer to help index the records on this website.  It's because of people willing to help out and index the website that helps keep it free!

      3. Ancestry I think every modern day Genealogist knows about Ancestry.  Ancestry has given me a lot of information for my research over the years.  And if you can't afford the subscription to ancestry, most public libraries have free access to the site as long as you are onsite at the library.

      4. Find A Grave I love findagrave.  Not only is it a good source for information, it is also a great way to get photos of your relatives and ancestors graves.  Some people put a lot of work into their online memorials.  One word of caution here, although Findagrave is a good resource, it is only as good as the person creating the memorials.  I have a previous post on Findagrave from a geneabloggers challenge.

      5. Random Acts of Genealogical Kindess  This is another site that I love to use.  If you've never used RAOGK I highly recommend that you check it out.  People sign up based on Geographical location and list the Acts of Kindness that they are willing to do in those areas.  For example, I am a volunteer in Leelanau and Grand Traverse Counties in Michigan.  Under my listings are the following acts that I have said that I would do: "Public Records lookups and copying, courthouse & library. Obituaries. Gravestone pictures, Reimbursement may be required. I will travel to any cemetery in Grand Traverse or Leelanau Counties, weather permitting."    If there's no volunteer in the area you are looking for, keep checking back, new volunteers come in all the time.  Also don't forget to sign up to be a volunteer to help out fellow genealogists!  Also please, please, please read the guidelines before making a request.  I don't know how many times I've gotten requests that are something like "Looking for any information possible on the Joe Smith family in Leelanau County."  Seriously?! 

      6. Genealogywise Another website that if you haven't checked it out, I highly recommend you do.  This is a social networking website for genalogists.  There you'll find people brand new just beginning in genealogy to seasoned researchers, experts and professional genealogists.  There are groups to join for just about every topic thinkable to genealogy from surnames to software programs.  There's also a great chat room where there are chats almost nightly with different educational topics.  I've also seen several members connect with other members of Genealogywise as genealogy cousins.

      7. Newspaper Archive Old newspapers are a great source for genealogical information about our ancestors.  They are also a great source to learn about everyday events in our ancestors' daily lives.  Recently I was listening to a presentation by Karen Krugman about female ancestors with no surname and one thing she mentioned is when you are looking through the rolls of old newspaper on microfilm or microfiche is to browse the social pages.  You never know who your ancestors had over for a dinner party....and who might be related to them.  Recently I discovered quite a shock in the old newspapers about my ancestors (you can read about it under my last topic of Shocking family stories).

      8. Footnote Footnote is fast becoming my most favorite paid site.   It is great for military records.  I have recently heard a lot of the documents that are in the National Archives are being put up on footnote!  WooHoo.  Fortunately I have a lot of family that had spent their time in the military.  If you've never purchased a pension file or a compiled military file from the National Archives, you're missing out....well now you can get some of them on Footnote.  I've found out so much information about my ancestors.  Although some of the records I have come straight from the archives, and you pay a hefty fee for them, to me it was worth it for the family members that I have followed up on.

      9.  Seeking Michigan  I think every state should have a 'Seeking' website.  The newest and most valuable addition to the Seeking Michigan website is the addition of the 1897-1920 Death records.  Yes, that's right, the state held death certificates for your Michigan ancestors if they died between 1897 and 1920 are online with images of the original documents.  I have found so many of my Michigan relatives on there it's crazy!  The best part is the site is free!!!!! So if you have Michigan relatives it's worth a look.

      10. USGen Web Another free website with information compiled by volunteers.  It is broken down by State then county.  The amount of information is variable by each location.  It really depends on how much the volunteers of that county have put onto the website, but not to be discouraged because I have found some good information on the website, in fact I recently found a bunch of information on my GrGrGrGrandpa's brother's family, like birth dates, death dates, marriage dates, and where a bunch of people are buried.

      Sunday, July 25, 2010

      Shocking Family Stories

      Have you ever come across something so shocking in your research that it makes you say, “WHOA!” I think we all come across shocking family stories, but I think this one takes the award for the most shocking for me.


      Recently I was researching and came across a Joseph and Maria Wood in the 1870 mortality schedule. Now if you don’t remember from awhile back, I found that Maria is the daughter of Eliakim Wardell (my 4th GrGrandfather. I had obtained Eliakim’s probate record from Ulster County, New York Surrogate Court. This is significant because I had information that Maria’s name was actually Mary. I can understand the difference of information with the name. From the same information I have, Joseph’s name is given as George. Maria and Joseph’s son, George Cornelius is my 2nd Gr Grandfather. Maria and Joseph had been a brickwall for me for sometime now.

      So I had always know that George C. is found as a very young boy living with his Grandfather, Eliakim, and Aunts in the 1870 census. What puzzled me for a long time was why. My likely conclusion was that his parents had died. In the box of ‘stuff’ that my Great Aunt has (which I have referred to in the past) was George C’s obituary stating that he had lived with his Grandparents and Aunts as a young boy….but didn’t say why. It is also in the obit that his parents names are given as George and Mary. There was also a subpoena for George in the box of stuff for the reading of Eliakim’s will when he died in 1892. That is where I got the information to get the surrogate court file, which told me Mary was really Maria and that she was deceased.

      So the other day I was searching on Ancestry and I searched for Maria Wood who died before 1870. I came across a couple Marias, but the one that struck me was the 1870 mortality schedule that lists Maria Wood 29 years old born in New York state died in October 1869 (seems the Schedule was done in June); her cause of death listed that she was murdered by her husband. The next line down was Joseph Wood age 45 years, born in New York state, occupation as a ship carpenter, also died in October 1869. Joseph’s cause of death is listed as suicide-cutting throat. I was a little taken aback and then felt bad for the people that are their family. I was curious though about this Joseph and Maria Wood. Perhaps they were some sort of relation after all. I made a post on Ancestry’s website to see if there was anyone who could help me as well as requested some research assistance through Random Acts of Genealogical Kindess (RAOGK).

      A couple of weeks after posting to ancestry I got a search suggestion/help from another Ancestry member that had searched for Joseph and Maria on the Fulton County History website. Ok so I cut and pasted the search string "maria wife joseph wood october 1869 rondout", and searched……I found an article on the crime all right , but I got more than I bargained for!

      Joseph Wood in a suspected fit of suspected rum induced jealousy killed his wife with a hatchet. His wife’s father’s testimony is given, his name Eliakim Wardell from Dutchess County, New York (WHAT?!) his testimony states that his daughter’s name is Maria Wardell (WHAT?! OMG!) She was the wife of Joseph Wood (I think you get what was going on in my head at this point). Later in the article it says that Maria and Joseph have one surviving child, a son named Georgie!

      My GrGrGr Grandfather murdered his wife….my GrGrGr Grandmother. I immediately called my Dad and told him the story. WOW! I then called my Grandma (George is her Grandfather) and told her about my find. She told me she doesn’t think her Dad even knew about this. Probably not something that came up at dinner conversation.

      I shared my find with some regulars on the GenealogyWise website chat room. Then drifted off onto more research which led me to a total of 4 articles about the event, one in the New York Times! Each one gives me a few details about my GrGrGrGrandarents that I didn’t have before. I have attached links to the articles online at the end of this post, but be forewarned, some of the details are rather graphic…even by today’s standards.

      So I have some answers, but , of course, now I have more questions. Where are Maria and Joseph buried? Does the records from the Coroner’s inquest still exist? How do I get a coy? And of course some doubt that is this really my family…the evidence is hard to dispute here.


      Links to the Articles:
      New York Times "The Rondout Horror"
      The New York Times "Crimes and Criminals"
      The [Hudon] Evening Register "The Rondout Tragedy!"

      Monday, July 12, 2010

      10 Genealogy things I can't live (or research) without!

      Fellow blogger Elyse Doerflinger wrote a Meme titled "10 Things I Can't Live Without", related to genealogy of course!  After reading her entry I was inspired to write my own Meme of my 10 Genealogy things that I can't live/research without!  Thanks for the inspiration Elyse!

      1.  My Laptop.  I have an Acer Aspire that I just love!  The nice thing my laptop affords me is that I can pretty much take it anywhere!  If I can't take my regular laptop I have a mini that I can just toss into a tote bag or my purse to have a computer with me.  It's nice to have my master file on hand when I'm out researching because I frequently like to go off on research tangents.

      2. Legacy.  I love my Legacy program.  It does so much for me that I want to be able to do with my files and my information.  It has some great forms and reports that I can print out and take with me to places where laptops are not allowed.  For more info on legacy you can check out my post on Software Comparision or on Legacy's Website.

      3. Forms.  I love genealogy forms!  I guess there isn't a Genealogist who doesn't love forms.  They are our most basic tool for gathering information.  I have even designed several of my own forms, which I will share when I figure out how to upload them here.

      4. The library.  I love going to the library.  Our local public library is on a lake and our genealogy collection is in the back corner on the second floor on the lake side of the building.  The library has huge work tables that I am able to spread out on when I'm working.  Plus what a view! (photos to come in a future post).   The local library also offers free access to Ancestry.com I also like the Family History Center in my town.  There is a lot of information there on our area and some of my roots run deep here locally. 

      5. The Post Office.  Yes the good old United States Postal Service!  There is so much information on the internet to be found, but there is so much more that is not online.  For a long time I abandoned my letter writing skills and focused primarily on just researching on the internet.  For some reason, really unknown to me, I just decided to start writing letters and sending in requests for research.  My efforts have paid off tremendously!

      6. Pretty Pens and Highlighers.  I was teased in nursing school by my fellow nursing students about my pretty colored pens and highlighters.  I just love my colored ink pens and my highlighters.  I also do use them to color code my research and untangle confusing areas of the family tree.

      7. My Genealogy "Tool" kit. I have a hard pencil box with a few goodies in it that I always carry with me.  Inside I have a book light, sticky notes, a mini stapler and staples, paper clips, a few rubber bands, a calculator, a correction tape runner, a roll of scotch tape, and a scanning pen.  These are the things I was always forgetting, and of course would need, when I would go somewhere to do my research.  Now I have them all in a handy box that I keep in my tote bag.

      8. Family Search.  Or more specifically the Pilot Site with all the online images.  I love that fact that Family Search is free and supported by volunteers.  I have spent lots of time on Family Search and I also volunteer when I have time.  I feel that every little bit helps.

      9. The internet.  I am always on the computer it seems.  At home, at work, genealogy, scrapbooking, facebook....the list goes on and on.  The internet has really changed the way the we research our genealogy!  There is so much information available on the internet.  With websites like Family Search and Ancestry we have access to the records that hold our ancestors information that we spend so much time searching down!  If the information isn't online search engines help us find addresses to write those letters, contact genealogical societies or find cemeteries that we are looking for.  Again the list goes on what we can find on the internet related to our searches.

      10. My husband.  Besides the obvious reasons that he is on this list..he loves me, he's my biggest fan, he shares in my big and little discoveries, etc...my husband is my research buddy.  He proof reads letters for me, helps me understand military records, he's great at finding headstones in cemeteries, he'll go with me just about anywhere that I want to for research purposes and he drives there too!  My husband goes to genealogy society meetings with me and he helped me write my Power Point for my very first meeting presentation.  He's also the reason that I an in genealogy so deeply.  When we met I found out that his mom is into genealogy just as much as I am!  She is the one that showed me Family Tree Maker and the records contained within the companion CDs!  She also showed me Ancestry!!!!  My husband bought me my first copy of Family Tree Maker for Christmas the first year we were dating! 

      Sunday, July 11, 2010

      Army Wife

      Recently my husband went back into the military, specifically the Army National Guard and he is currently going through his Officer Candidate School (OCS).  In June he was gone a week, home 4 days then gone for 2 weeks.  For his 2 weeks he was in Minnesota.  Part of their training is they are not allowed to have and contact home except for letters.  Of course, I waited every night hoping to get a phone call.  Now I know two weeks isn't a long time in the scheme of things, espcially when his Marine unit was deployed for 7 months to africa in 2003 and we would go for weeks without talking on the phone.

      Two things occured to me during his 2 weeks away that I have reflected on at length.  First of all, in this day and age of technology with things like our email, cell phones laptops, facebook, etc we (as a society) are in constant contact with each other.  It is very stressful not knowing what is going on in the day-to-day, but ultimately it gave us something to talk about when he got home.  Many times I find myself alling home telling my husband about my day even before I get home.  I wonder at times, if all this technology for communication is really cutting out our true communication with each other.

      The second thing that occured to me is this: my mother, both my grandmothers, part of my great grandmothers (and so on) were military wives.  Both my grandpas were in the Army during World War II.  My parternal grandpa spend time in the pacific theater.  The only communication they has was letter writing.  It never occured to me until my husband was gone, is that this is what the women in my family before me must have gone through, but at much longer time intervals when their husbands, brothers, fathers, and uncles were away at war.  Their hopes for even a few words in a letter must have been very great as mine was for a phone call, an email, a text message...something. 

      I talk mainly about the Army here because that is the branch of service my family just happens to be in, but this could very easily be the Navy, Marines (which my husband was in before the National Guard), Air Force or Coast Guard.  I'm sure no matter the branch of service, the experience was the same.

      Happy Hunting.

      Monday, July 5, 2010

      You Never Know!

      You never know where you are going to find your family history.  Last weekend my cousin got married in Frankenmuth, MI.  We stayed at the beautiful Bavarian Inn Lodge.  Before leaving my mother-in-law told me that there is a room there named after my husband's Great Grandmother's line, the Schmitzers.  Sure enough room 314 is also known as the Schmitzer Room.  After talking to the front desk I was able to venture into the room, which we did not stay in.  And see the photos and couple documents that were hanging on the wall.  I took photos, but didn't have my flash on, so they turned out kinds blurry.   There is also on the website, a page on the Schmitzers (as well as many other families) that anyone can check out. 

      We also visited the little museum on Main Street in Frankenmuth, called The Frankenmuth Museum.  There were a couple mentions of the Schmitzers, which I also snapped quick photos of.  Not bad for $5 for admission for the familiy.  And no, I did not use a flash in the museum.

      So besides seeing my cousin who was one of my bridesmaids almost 9 years ago, get married...and what a beautiful bride she made...I also got to experience some local history and even catch a glimpse at some of my husband's ancestors.  You never know what you'll find when your on your travels. 

      Happy Hunting!

      Tuesday, June 8, 2010

      Gottlieb Piltz



      Friday, June 4th at 2 p.m. in Oakwood City Cemetery in Traverse City, Michigan. myself with several other board members and other Grand Traverse Area Genealogical Society Members, dedicated the headstone for Austrian born stone cutter, Gottlieb Piltz. 

      Gottlieb was an Austrian born stone carver who came to our area of Michigan.  It was brought to the attention of the Genealogical society that Gottlieb had no headstone marking his grave in Oakwood Cemetery.  One only needs to walk around Oakwood itself to see Gottlieb's work.  Many other local cemeteries also have his works found in them.  My own Great-Great-Great-Great Grandparents have a headstone carved by Gottlieb Piltz.  My GGGGGrandparent's are buried a short distance from Gottlieb Piltz and I was able to show a couple of people who are descendents of Gottlieb their stone as an example of his work.
      This is my 4th Great Grandparents stone.  Lorenz (Laurentius) and Barbara Courtade.  Lornez's information is on the other side of the stone.


      The interesting thing about Piltz is that he signed his work, which is very unusual.  He also seemed to prefer working in marble as it is a softer stone than Granite and easier to carve.  Not only are his stones ornately decorated, but they frequently have various amounts of text in different fonts. 

      Our program consisted of a Big Piper, our Cemetery Committee Chair person, Kathi Farley, giving a history of Gottlieb, the Fife Lake (Michigan) Historical Society Present and retired minister giving a blessing and unveiling to stone, which was set that morning just before the dedication, myself playing Beethovan's "Ode to Joy" on my clarinet and our past president, Mary Briggs, giving a thanks to all those who helped make the headstone project possible.
      Members of GTAGS (back row) and decsendents of Gottlieb Piltz (front) that attended the dedication.  That's me on the far Right in the pink and black.

      This is me playing my clarinet during the ceremony. That's my Mom holding my umbrella over me while I was playing.  Thanks Mom!

      Happy Hunting!


      Friday, June 4, 2010

      Find-A-Grave

      Week 22 for Geneabloggers challenges us to visit the website Find-A-Grave and write about our impressions of the website and any interesting entries we find while we are visiting the website.


      I have to say the Find-A-Grave is one of my favorite websites. There is so much I can say about it. I have been a member of the website for just a couple months shy of 4 years.

      Find-A-Grave is a free website created by a group of people that just love cemeteries. From the main website one can choose to view famous gravesites or "normal" gravesites.

      Under the famous website is various divisions of organization, for example, you can search by name, let's say Al Capone for example.

       From the results page, we find several listings from the Capone family members and gang. So I choose Alphonse "Al" Capone. Which brings me to his individual memorial.

      Here is can read the bio written about Capone, see photos of him as well as a photo of his Grave. For famous people, you can 'vote' at the bottom about how famous (or infamous) the person was.


      Each person listed on Find-A-Grave has their own memorial page (famous or not) in which the creator can include information like birth date and place, death date and place and, of course, where the person is buried. There is also a bio area where biographical information can be typed in by the memorial creator.

      One feature nice for memorial creators is the ability to request a photograph of the grave, even if the grave of their ancestor is in another state or even another country. Let's look at one of my memorials for an example.

      This is John Fitzgerald, my Great-Great-Great Paternal Grandfather. I recently learned that his was buried in Old Rosemont Cemetery in Columbia County, Pennsylvania.

       I created this memorial from the main page under the 'Add Burial Records' selection.

      You can also use the search for a cemetery function and add a memorial from the cemetery's page. I live in Michigan near Traverse City and my GGG Grandpa was buried in Columbia County, PA in Old Rosemont Cemetery. Old Rosemont Cemetery is about 700 road miles from where I live and a 12 to 13 hour drive. Not something I can just hop in the car and go check out. So that's where Find-A-Grave comes in! Find-A-Grave allowed me to add John's name to the cemetery and request a photograph of his headstone, if there is one.

      One note here, there is no guarantee how fast my request will be filled. I've had requests filled very quickly and I've had requests I've requested quite a while ago that are still waiting to be fulfilled.

      I also enjoy being a photo volunteer in my area and taking photographs of headstones for others. It is very satisfying to me to help someone else as well in their search.

      There are so many other features to Find-A-Grave that you can discover by visiting their website!

      Haapy  Hunting!

      Tuesday, May 25, 2010

      Murphy's Law for Genealogists

      Yes, Murphy even comes to Genealogy!  Hope you get a giggle or two out of this!

      Murphy’s Law for Genealogists


      1) The public ceremony in which your distinguished ancestor participated and at which the platform collapsed from under him turned out to be a hanging.

      2) When at last after much hard work you have solved to mystery you have been working on for two years, you aunt says “I could have told you that.”

      3) Your grandmother’s maiden name that you have searched for, for four years, was on a letter in a box in the attic all the time.

      4) You never asked your father about his family when he was alive because you weren’t interested in genealogy then.

      5) The will you need is in the safe on board the Titanic

      6) Copied of old newspapers have holes occurring only on the surnames, especially the ones you need.

      7) John, son of Thomas, the immigrant whom your relatives claim as the family progenitor, died on board ship at age 10.

      8) Your great grandfather’s newspaper obituary states that he died leaving no issue of records.

      9) The keeper of the vital records you need has just been insulted by another genealogist.

      10) The relative who had all the family photographs gave them all to her daughter who has no interest in genealogy and no inclination to share.

      11) The only record you find your great grandfather is that his property was sold at a sheriff’s sale of insolvency.

      12) The one document that would supply the missing link in your dead-end line has been lost due to fire, flood, or war.

      13) The clerk to whom you wrote for information sends you a long handwritten letter which is totally illegible.

      14) The spelling of your European ancestor’s name bears no relationship to its current spelling or pronunciation.

      15) None of the pictures in your recently deceased grandmother’s photo album have names written on them.

      16) No one in your family tree ever did anything noteworthy, owned property, was sued, or named in wills.

      17) You learn that your great aunt’s executor just sold her life’s collection of family genealogical materials to a flea market dealer ‘somewhere in New York City.’

      18) Ink fades and paper deteriorates at a rate inversely proportional to the value of the data recorded.

      19) The 37-volume. 16,000 page history of your country of origin isn’t indexed.

      20) You finally find your great grandparent’s wedding records and discover that the bride’s father was named John Smith.

      Funny, HAHA

      Yesterday I was at Grand Traverse Memorial Gardens Cemetery in Traverse City, MI taking photos for volunteer look ups on Find-A-Grave when I had stopped to take a photo and didn't realize I had parked in the path of a sprinkler.  My baby had started fussing a little bit, so I opened the side door of my van to check on him.  All of a sudden I got a blast of water across my back!  The cemetery has underground sprinklers so they aren't the fastest moving sprinklers.  Not only did I get soaked, but a bunch of stuff in my van was soaked and my little guy got a blast of water as well.  He really didn't like that.  My little guy let out a screech to let me (and the rest of the township) know that he was not happy about gettnig wet.  I looked at my 4-year-old, who was also with us, and just broke down laughing.  I really didn't mind the water anyway seems it was in the 90's yesterday.
      I did get all my photos taken and posted online yesterday.

      Happy Hunting!

      Sunday, April 11, 2010

      Good Old Letter Writting

      This week's 52 Weeks to Better Genealogy challenges us to write letters, not email letters, but good old United States Postal Service paper, envelope and stamp letters.

      I had to laugh at first when I read this challenge/topic for the week.  In the past week I had written 8 letters and then wrote another one last night.  I like getting mail, especially when it relates to my genealogy.

      I sent out requests for some birth certificates to the Grand Traverse County Clerk's office.  There were 3 of those in the past week or so.  Out of 3 only 2 were on file, but that's not bad odds for the 1880's. I requested these for 3 of my Great Grandma's sibilings.  Daisy Bell Lardie, who died when she was a month old, Julius Arthur Lardie who died when he was only 10 months old and Mary Louise Lardie (Garland, Sunquest).  The first two we are just curious to what had happened to them.  Mary Louise, or Mamie, is supposed to be buried in the local City Cemetery, but there is no record of her burial there. 

      I wrote 4 letters to a local catholic church inquring about records.  The first letter was for Daisy Lardie.  The return reply stated that they have no records of Daisy nor do they show her buried in the church's cemetery.  The second letter was for information about Daisy's (my GGGGranpa) Grandfather, George Lardie, if there is any information in the church records about him or his wife.  The third and fourth letters are also to the same church, but I am mailing them one at a time so I'm not asking for a bunch of information all at once. 

       One letter is making its way to Ulster County Surrogate Court in New York State.  I am trying to get a copy of a will for my GGGGGrandpa, Eliakim Wardell, who ended up being the Guardian of my GGGrandpa, George C. Wood, after his father, George Wood, and mother, Mary (Wardell) Wood died when George C. was a young boy.  I am still waiting for a response to that letter.  My letter is asking for information on how to obtain a copy of the will/probate file. 

      The last letter I wrote, which I the one I wrote last night, is to a catholic church in Lewisburg, PA.  I am requesting information on my GGGGranpa Fitzgerald, Thomas Fitzgerald's, brother, James Frances Fitzgerald and his wife, Susan Francis (Quigley) Fitzgerald.  I have previously written to the same church to confirm that Susan is buried in their cemetery.  I also learned in that letter that a Mary Fitzgerald is also buried in the same cemetery, although I'm not sure how, or if, she fits into my family tree.

      All my letters are written in formal format.  For Example:

      Date
      My return address
      address Line #2

      The Reciever
      Reciver address
      address line #2

      Dear Sir or Madame;

      The body of the letter with the specific information that I am looking for and the details needed about the person or people to help aid in the look up of the information. I always make sure to read over my letters and I also have my husband read over my letters to proof read as well as to make sure I don't have extra information that I don't need in the letters.

      I always thank the person for their time in a seperate line.

      Sincerley,

      (My Signature goes in here on the printed page)

      Alanna Fant

      When I write away for information I always include a Self-addressed stamped envelope (SASE), however if I have to pay reserach fees I do not, unless it is a genealogy society or similar and they specifically request a SASE.

      With this day and age of computers and email and online research we forget about letter writing.  One thing we must remember as genealogists is letter writing is one of our strongest research tools that we have in our repetoire, but I also think it is probably one of the most forgotten.  While I'm writing this, I sit here and wonder how many records exist with my ancestors' names on them versus how many are online! 

      I challenge you to write a letter (or more) a week for the next month.  Leave a comment in the comments section about your experiences and results!  Your ideas may spark another researcher and help them track down tha elusive ancestor!

      Happy Hunting.

      Monday, April 5, 2010

      "Oh Danny Boy"

      For this Month's Blog Carnival of Irish Heritage and Culture, we are challenged to write about a favorite Irish Blessing or Poem.  (Carnival of Irish Heritage and Culture Challenge ) My Grandpa's favorite song was the very famous and familiar song "Danny Boy".  Although it is not a poem or a blessing in the traditional sense, this is one of my very favorite Irish things.  Every time I listen to the song it reminds me of my Grandpa who died in 2002.  I can hardly ever listen to the song without a few tears in my eyes.  I miss my Grandpa so much.
      The song was written by Frederick Weatherly.  Acoording to one website that I read on Brobdingnagian Bards the song was written around the begning of the 20th century.

      The words are:

      Oh Danny boy, the pipes, the pipes are calling

      From glen to glen, and down the mountain side
      The summer's gone, and all the flowers are dying
      'Tis you, 'tis you must go and I must bide.

      But come ye back when summer's in the meadow
      Or when the valley's hushed and white with snow
      'Tis I'll be here in sunshine or in shadow
      Oh Danny boy, oh Danny boy, I love you so.
      And if you come, when all the flowers are dying
      And I am dead, as dead I well may be
      You'll come and find the place where I am lying
      And kneel and say an "Ave" there for me.

      And I shall hear, tho' soft you tread above me
      And all my dreams will warm and sweeter be
      If you'll not fail to tell me that you love me
      I'll simply sleep in peace until you come to me.

      I'll simply sleep in peace until you come to me.

      To hear the music to this song click Here.

      You can also download on MP3 of Danny Boy by Clicking on the image below from Amazon.com