"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

      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


      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.