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

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:

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.


(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

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Tuning in to Technology

I haven't written from a geneablogger's prompt in a while so after checking out this week's topic I thought I would add my 2 cents worth.

This week's prompt comes from We Tree: Jump Start your Genealogy.  Amy Coffin has come up with 52 blogging prompts to help 'Jump Start Your Genealogy'.  This week is #14: Talk about the different types of technology you use in your genealogy research.  *Just a little side note, after rereading Amy Coffin's post, I realized I wrote about 2009's prompt #14.  Oh well, it made for interesting writing anyway.

Ok so the obvious one is my computer, which I am using now.  My new Acer Aspire One.  (Just a side note, walmart.com has a great deal on these right now.)  I also have an Acer Aspire mini that I just love for its portability.   Most of my photos are digital and of course, Legacy runs on the computer.  I also have a program that goes on my Palm Pilot called GedStar Pro, which is basically a GEDCOM file reader.  Very convient for those unplanned stops at local cemeteries or the local library.  I have also used a similar program for a pocket pc calledn Pocket Genealogist.  (Both are available to purchase from the Legacy Website.) 

Another piece of equipment that I used frequently is my printer which is a HP Inkjet all-in-one printer/fax/copier.  Having a copier is definately a plus at home for making extra copies of a form and not having to dig it out of a file folder on my computer somewhere, although I'm sure I could find a form on my computer just as fast as I could throw it in the copier.  I occasionally use my fax, but not very often for genealogy purposes.  The scanner funciton is handy, espcially for the collection of old family photos that my Great Aunt has and let me scan in for digital copies. 

My digital camera is another tool that I frequently use.  I mainly use it for photos of headstones in cemeteries (as far as genealogy goes) and we just got a JVC digital video camera a few weeks ago.  I have heard that people use them in cemeteries, but I'm not sure how.  Although I see where it could be useful for family interviews and other events.  I'm sure I will use it on our trip to Pennsylvania this fall. 

One thing we don't think of very often is good old pen and paper, when we talk about technology, but it is.  I frequently use pen or pencil and paper when I am researching to take notes, extra information from websites or print out my to-do list.  In fact my to do report is sitting here on my desk next to me and I have 3 pens laying next to my computer.  I also have a thing for pretty (colored) pens, for which I frequently get teased about, but it makes is more fun for me when I am writing. 

The telephone is another thing I think that we frequently take for granted in our technology driven world.  I use is to talk to my Grandma a lot, who is probably my biggest genealogical cheerleader, to try to nail down details of a story I heard or to jar her memory about some family information.  When I had a Blackberry I used the GPS function on it to help me mark cemetery locations.

Speaking of GPS, that is something I use.  I have been so lost in places that even a map woudln't help.  Thank you to the guy that invented GPS.  (It was the military I think).  And to my husband who now leaves his Tom Tom in our Mini Van (which is the car I usually drive or we take when we are out with the family anyway) so I always have access to the GPS when I get lost. 

I'm sure there are many other things that I haven't even thought of to include in the list of Technology that I use for genealogy, but I can't think of anymore right now.  This has been a fun entry to think about and to write.  I hope you all enjoy reading it as much as I have enjoyed writing it.

Happy Researching!
Have a Happy Easter everyone!!!!!

Spring Cleaning

Yesterday I was cleaning out my closet for Spring cleaning and I came to the realization that I needed to do the same with my genealogy papers.  So after the closet was cleaned and the bags taken to the mini van, I decided to tackle my pile of paper that was sitting on the top of my desk hutch.  First I looked at the looming pile and thought "This is going to take forever!"  But I sat down (and after procrastinating on facebook for a time) and decided to takle the pile bit by bit.  So I took the first layer of papers off the top and sat down and started sorting.
Armed with a paper bag for recycling (yes I recycle) and started to sort out and get rid of (GASP!) my excess papers.  I once read in a book about purging your genealogy files once a year to get rid of all the excess paper.  I believe the book was Organizing Your Family Research (or sometime like that) by Sharon DeBartello Carmack.  So I try to at least once a year go through my extra papers and get rid of what I don't need.  Seriously, do I really need 5 copies of Great Great Great Grandpa Fitzgerald's Family Group Sheet when 4 of them are out of date? 
So I did make it to the bottom of my pile last night after about 5 or 6 hours and I have a full bag of recycling.  Plus I have some things on my 'To Do' list to finish up and some letters to follow up on.  Feels good to have a clean(er) desk to go with my clean(er) closert!

Happy Researching.