Monday, January 25, 2016

NoteWorthy Reads #25

Image from

For me, Noteworthy Reads are articles, websites, or blog posts I found recently which are fascinating, interesting and/or helpful, and occasionally “wacky” or “wonderful” will likely sneak in as well. When I have the time I review the posts to determine which entries should be put in my Resource pages; the rest will remain available through the blog's search function.

Note: Just because I list an article does not mean I endorse its contents. It just means I want to be able to find it easily in the future when I may want to consider the issue in more depth.

I realized in preparing this that it’s been about two months since my last one and that I have been saving articles all along, which made it quite difficult to pare down. I am ignoring the FTM/Ancestry kerfluffle because it has been discussed to death in blog posts and Facebook groups and Google Hangouts and YouTube videos.


Papers of the War Department 1784-1800 from The In-Depth Genealogist - the project is trying to reconstruct files and papers which were lost when the War Office burned on 8 November 1800. Copies of these documents were filed elsewhere and are now being brought together me in this open online digital archive. You can help! They are looking for people to help transcribe these documents.


Canada Patents from Genealogy: Beyond the BMD - She found out that her ancestor invented something in Canada. I wonder if any of mine did. 

– I have a good number of ancestors who lived in Canada West (which became Ontario)

Don’t Miss the Rural Diary Archive from Olive Tree Genealogy– this talks about a new resource which sounds very cool for those of us who want to know how our people lived! I can’t wait to look at it in more detail.


Where Is the Public Domain? from The Legal Genealogist – can you use that photo without getting sued? (Be sure to read the comments too!)

(I'm a beginner with genetic genealogy, so I collect explanations. It helps on thise posts to read the comments as well.)

Saying Hello in the DNA World from the DNAeXplained – Genetic Genealogy blog  - How to introduce yourself to that new DNA match in a way that will encourage a response that might be useful and will not make the recipient uncomfortable? 

DNA Tools from the Study by Night blog - Explains three tools that help her with her genetic genealogy research

The Ancestry 200 from the DNAeXplained – Genetic Genealogy blog - She has 200 shaky leaf DNA matches at Ancestry - what that means, and the ramifications, with illustrations

DNA Resolutions for 2016 from The Legal Genealogist – resolutions for all of us attempting genetic genealogy research (and, thankfully, ones that I can understand)

(Personal recommendation: add the DNAeXplained – Genetic Genealogy blog to your blog reader, or subscribe to it. The author is extremely knowledgeable; researches extensively, utilizing both DNA and paper trail genealogy; and explains both very well, with illustrations.)


Tune in During 2016! How to Listen to the Free Genealogy Gems Podcast  from Lisa Louise Cooke’s Genealogy Gems - believe it or not, I have never listened to a podcast. I appreciate the explanation. Maybe I'll try it.

GERMANY/German Immigrants

Was Johan Adam Hacker a Redemptioner? from A Pennsylvania Dutch Genealogy blog – I’d never heard of a redemptioner, and now I will consider that in relation to my German ancestors - interesting post.

German Immigrants in American Church Records from the Legacy Tree blog  – possible way to find ones ancestors' town of origin in Germany

GREAT STORIES (albeit not all happy ones)


Lulu Was a Badass from It’s a Beautiful Tree - unrelated stories, but I just couldn't bring myself to cut either one: Julie writes so well!

To Save Lucille from A Southern Sleuth blog – the tragedy of tuberculosis


A Look inside America Secret Atomic City from History Daily – I suppose I’m fascinated by the secret history of nuclear facility at Oak Ridge, Tennessee because my grandfather had the opportunity to work there during World War II, but ended up at the Plum Brook Ordinance Works munitions factory in Ohio instead because grandma didn’t like the potential living quarters – not to mention the fact that it was part of the Manhattan project, building a nuclear bomb. 

120-year-old Astronomy Photo Plates Found in Neils Bohr Institute Basement from The History Blog – nothing to do with genealogy but fascinating nonetheless 

Trunk of Undelivered 17th Century Letters Rediscovered from The History Blog – wouldn’t you love to read the letters? Wouldn’t it be cool if one of them referenced one of your ancestors?


NYPL Images Free to Use from The Legal Genealogist NYPL = New York Public Library. 180,000 free digitized images. Wow!


The Three Unique Sources Didn’t Prove Anything from the Life from the Roots blog – trying to nail down that elusive “fact”.

Newspapers Help Smash a Genealogy Brick Wall from the FamilySearch blog – a search story with tips along the way

The Average American Lives 18 Miles from Their Mom  from – I am not average; I live 1559 miles from my mom

George III’s Huge Map Collection Digitized  from The History Blog – “The British Library has begun a massive project to digitize all of King George the third’s 50,000 piece map collection.…” Can you imagine how it might help you find where your ancestors have lived if you had contemporaneous maps in which to look?



Finding the Neighbors from This American Mutt blog – if you can’t find your ancestor, try this!

Paper Notices  from Genealogy Tip of the Day  – a possible saving grace if the courthouse burned down

Tuesday’s tip: My Favorite Lesser-Known Websites from the Pages from the Ancestry Binders blog – there are two or three here that I have not heard of that sound helpful; I intend to check them out


Read the Directions from The Legal Genealogist  - she found a downloadable .pdf, which explains exactly what the census takers were told to do for each and every U.S. census from the first census in 1790 all the way up to the census of 2000. That will be a huge help. 

Legacy 8 Tips the Michigan Family Trails blog has an ongoing series on tips for using Legacy 8, a genealogy desktop software. This link is to the gathered index page all of such posts on her blog (as such, it will grow).

Using the Lancaster, Pennsylvania Mennonite Vital Records from blogs– over the course of many years, the Lancaster Mennonite historical Society compiled more than 200,000 index cards with records of Mennonite families in the region, and ancestry has them! Oh boy, oh boy!

Dear Randy: How Do You Use Your Smart Phone to Do Genealogy? from Randy Seaver’s Genea-Musings blog – and I thought I was good with a smartphone! There’s a lot more out there than I was aware of.

Old Genealogies in the Digital Age from the Vita Brevis blog – the New England Historic Genealogical Society is adding genealogies published in the 19th and early 20th centuries to their digital library

Allen County Public Library Online Resources  from the DNAeXplained – Genetic Genealogy blog – she  often stresses the importance of traditional documentary research as she does here regarding the excellent resources online from the ACPL Genealogy Center for African American and Native American genealogy research.



From the Depths of the Law Library from The Legal Genealogist – if you have ancestors who lived in pre-Arkansas, sometime between 1809 in 1834, you’ll want to read this.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Noteworthy Reads Revisited

Climbing My Family Tree: Noteworthy Reads
Image from

Despite my New Year’s intentions, it turns out I can’t quit doing the Noteworthy Reads posts. I’m addicted to doing them. I caught up on all of my blog-reading over the past few days and found myself bookmarking blog posts that I just had to share! Except that there’s a limit on how many I can share with friends on Facebook since many of my friends are not into genealogy. I started thinking that I would miss sharing the interesting articles I found on my blog. This led to wondering whether I really had to stop doing posting the Noteworthy Reads; which led to me considering how I would do it if I did continue to write them. This was just one step away from deciding that I was going to feel better if I continue to write them.

Moreover, I found out that quite a few people like the Noteworthy Reads posts and were sorry to see them go. A few people suggested that that doing shorter Noteworthy Reads post would be easier. I can see where that would seem to be a good idea, but, in actuality, that’s not how it works. I read the same number of blog posts either way. In the past four or five days, I got all caught up, having gotten behind during Christmas the Christmas break and the beginning of January; I read or skimmed approximately 2000 posts (do you all have to be so prolific?) and bookmarked articles I really wanted share as I read. Before writing a Noteworthy Reads post I go back over everything that I bookmarked and determine which ones are the best to include – deciding which of a bunch on the same subject is the best written for my audience, which explains something the best, which I now find the most interesting as some may have hit the mainstream media since I bookmarked it and there’s no need to post it if everyone knows about it, etc. If I was going to do a shorter post I would have to be far more stringent in my choosing, which would take more time. [I once told a boss who wanted something written quickly (within two hours) succinctly and well, that he could have written quickly or succinctly, but not both. I tend to write long. If what I have produced is relatively short, I had time to edit. Good editing occasionally takes longer than writing the original, as it requires more strategic thought.]So having decided that I will be writing more Noteworthy Reads posts, I also decided that the posts will likely be as long as they were before, containing quite a few links. However, I decided to only commit to putting up the Noteworthy Reads posts up sporadically, not on a set schedule.

I realize that stating that the Noteworthy Reads posts will go up sporadically is not good business sense as it makes it difficult for readers to predict when they will be posted. However, this blog is a hobby, not a business; and, it’s only going to be a hobby as long as it is still fun. The Noteworthy Reads posts may end up going up fairly regularly, but to say at the outset that they will go up sporadically is a psychological trick on myself since if there is no deadline I am not stressed by not making it or staying up all night in order to make it. So with any luck, the next Noteworthy Reads post will go up sometime in the next five or six days.


In other updates, I didn’t get much genealogy research done this week because I worked late most nights and the night that I did not, I had a church meeting in the evening. On this nice long weekend I just had, I found myself doing more organizing than research, as well as chasing down things to photograph for my Instagram 365 project. I don’t mean to say that I was organizing the research itself, but I was organizing the space in which I do the research as I find I get very little done in a place that looks like it’s drowning in paper. On my last move. I downsized to a one-bedroom apartment, and my office is my living room couch. I seemed to have grown piles of paper all around one end of the couch because I didn’t have a readily accessible place to put them. This weekend I found a small stack of drawers that look like huge books that I bought and placed beside the bookcases, and into which I’m putting the documents that I took from my parents on my last visit and the items in emails from distant cousin connections that I want to check out or verify someday in the future. The area looks much neater. I’m really looking forward to starting work to work there (but I have another church meeting tomorrow night).

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Tours, Books, DNA, oh my!

Climbing My Family Tree: New York State Library Genealogy and Local History section.
New York State Library Genealogy and Local History section.
Photo: mine.

This past weekend I on a Walking Tour of the New York State Library’s Genealogical and Local History section. One of my friends had seen a write-up of the program in the newspaper and called to tell me about it since it said it was limited to 15 people. I went online to the library’s website. The program notice on the library’s website was enticing, “Join us for a tour highlighting published genealogies, local histories, church records, DAR records, United States and New York State census records, newspapers on microfilm, city directories, and more.” I quickly signed up at their website, and that’s how I came to find myself down at the New York State Museum/Library/Archives on Saturday, a bit before 11 AM.

The shameful thing is that I had never been there before – well, I’ve been to the museum parts of it, but not up to the library or archives – and I only live 7 miles away! I have used their online resources before, particularly in finding out more about the unit history of the New York artillery unit that my second great-grandfather fought in during the Civil War, along with some other things, but I hadn’t been to their physical facilities before.

The Genealogy and Local History department is on the seventh floor of the building that houses the state museum and state library and archives, on Madison Street in downtown Albany. Our guide for this one and a half hour tour was Shawn Purcell, Senior Librarian and subject specialist for genealogy and local history at the library, and the class turned out to be much bigger than 15 people. I think there were about 40 of us.

He showed us the online catalog at a station near the librarian’s desk and taught us some tricks I hadn’t figured out on my own on how to make our catalog searches better. To save time, and their resources – in terms of available computer stations dedicated to the online catalog – I can access the online catalog at home and do my initial search is there, then write down the information I need or print it out before coming to the library. Then I can either go directly to the stacks or fill out one of those green forms to have the item retrieved from archives.

Climbing My Family Tree: Cemetery, Church & Town records - lots of them!
Cemetery, Church & Town records - lots of them!
Photo: Mine

Mr. Purcell showed us their surname and vital record card file which contains information noted by former librarians, which is not contained in Google or in Ancestrydotcom. Then he showed us through the book stacks on the seventh floor pointing out where the genealogy pamphlet/ephemera boxes are kept, the church records, the DAR records, County information, and biographies, folios, and the microform and microfilm areas, including city directories, newspapers, Civil War unit histories, and something called the Gabit Index, which, as I understand it, is an index in which a former librarian wrote down all marriage and death notices in the state (and one county into each bordering state) during the time that he was librarian. The hour and a half tour just flew by. It seemed like only minutes had passed when it ended. I will be back to look up the Henns in Oswego and Onondaga Counties in the late 1800s!

DNA image from

I believe I’ve mentioned recently that I’ve made a DNA connection, or rather my Dad’s DNA has (apparently I didn’t inherit that bit), to a woman who connects at the person I had found in designated a probable third grandfather, Thomas Bennett of Schull, County Cork, Ireland. She descends from one of my second great-grandfather’s probable siblings. I suppose if it’s a DNA connection is more than probable, but I mean to say that I don’t have a documented connection yet. So recently I have been researching the persons she named in her tree as my second great-grandfather’s siblings because in the past I have found that I am able to make connections up and sideways through research done on siblings that I have not been able to make through my direct ancestor. Researching siblings has been very helpful to me. In the course of this I was contacted by another DNA connection to my Dad; she seems to be related through my probable third great-grandmother, the wife of the aforementioned probable third great grandfather. I didn’t have anything she needed and I haven’t heard back but it does seem to confirm that relationship, so I continue to do collateral research. There are quite a few siblings is going to take a while.

In addition, this past week I was contacted by another distant relative, whose father connects in a bit lower on the same line, and I’ve been checking my paper files to see if I have clues that will help her cut through one of her brick walls. So this past week I did not get anything done toward scanning or recording the information I picked up from my parents when I last visited them.

I also received some books in the mail that I had forgotten I’d ordered:

Climbing My Family Tree: Recently Received Books to Help with Genealogy Research
Recently Received Books to Help with Genealogy Research

These will be fun to go through when I have (or make)  the time.

I also made some corrections to my article about Aunt Angie, supplied by her husband after he saw it.

As to the other intentions I mentioned in my New Year’s post, well, this is my first “chatty” post this year that does not involve an ancestor bio. I’ve kept up with my 365 photography project and have tied in with a 365 project on Instagram in which they give you a word for each day of the week and your photo is supposed to represent that word somehow. I was able to use my family history material in the 365 project when the word of the day was “old” and I took and posted a picture of several old family photos of my grandparents, my great-grandparents, and my second great-grandmother on my Wilcox line. (The Instagram account for The Genealogy Roadshow “liked” my picture – oh wow!). I haven’t managed to watch the genealogy webinar yet, but I bought one. I also haven’t watched any of my CLE webinars, or the ones I bought from The Great Courses during their huge sale around New Year’s. I still haven’t taken the camera out of the box. I started a book of short stories but haven’t finished it. I have lost 3 pounds, but have failed miserably at getting more sleep, averaging four hours a night in the past week. I have not yet done anything with the YNAB software other than download it. I’ve realized that I forgot to set aside a day for church work other than Sunday in my planning, and that I’ll be at the church nearly every Tuesday night. I haven’t been getting home from work any earlier, and, while I have limited my time on Facebook, to a degree, that has been more than offset by my discovery of Quora!

So I remind myself that not everything needs to be done at once. I need not even start on all of my intentions at once. There are 11 ½ more months to go. And now...I should go to bed.

Friday, January 1, 2016

New Year Intentions

image from

Happy New Year, everyone!

It's a new year and I've decided to freshen up the look of the blog. I like this brighter, cleaner look.

Last year turned out to be a rather difficult for me and I didn't do as much family history research as I wanted, and consequently, didn't blog nearly as much as the first year.

On Facebook, there's a meme going about that I like (but don't know who to credit), which instructs:

1) Make a list of things that make you happy,

2) Make a list of things you do every day,

3) Compare lists, and

4) Adjust accordingly.

I've done the first three steps, and I've set down a list of intentions for this year that incorporates more of what I enjoy as well some things to improve my overall health/life.

My intentions (not resolutions) for this year are to

- Spend at least two evenings a week (barring vacations/time with R) doing family history research.

- Spend at least one evening a week going through, scanning, and entering into my family history software the piles of documents, pictures and stuff my parents gave me the last time I visited (they'd just moved and had unearthed all sorts of fascinating things).

- Write more blog posts on my ancestors and their families. To that end, I intend to
           + write more small more chatty posts in addition to the occasional longer bio pieces.
           + do posts featuring the ancestor pictures I've received from all sorts of relatives (new & known) now that I've become known as our family historian.
           + stop doing the Noteworthy Reads posts, unfortunately, but they take up (a lot of) time I could be using to do more research and I'd rather do the research.
           + acknowledge that my posts will be sporadic & not feel guilty about that, so as to reduce the self-imposed stress associated with keeping up a blog which might lead to actually getting a post up!
           + oh, and, stop doing middle of the night posts, as my proofreading skills desert me after 1:30 a.m.

- Take a genealogy webinar per trimester (haven't done one yet). [And get my CLEs watched (bought a package of webinars in the year-end sales.]

- Complete the Instagram 365 project I started a month ago. I'd started a photo project a few years ago & was unable to complete it; this attempt is deliberately more casual (all shots are via my iPhone & posted on Instagram). The goal is to develop an artist's/photographer's eye through my daily use of it.

- Learn how to use the fancy camera I bought two years ago and have never taken out of the box.

- Read 2-3 books for fun a month. (yeah, I know this totally blows my bookworm image that I have to say this but things have been getting in the way & I need my reading back, while not losing research time).

- Since I'm back on the church board this year, keep up with whatever projects arise out of that.

- Eat more healthy food, cut out junk food, and go to bed by midnight. Find an exercise I might enjoy -- okay, not hate -- and do  it a 1/2 hour a day.

- Set up a budget via YNAB software, and  update it monthly (phone app allows a daily record of expenditures). [Before someone suggests another software - I've done YNAB before and I like it.]

- Stop staying at work late.
        + Work with intention & in the present moment during actual work hours. Minimize distractions.

- Limit time on social media  - and don't get on Facebook after 11:30 PM.

We'll see how this works out.  Maybe I'll do an assessment post at the end of the year. Would you like that?

Have you set any new intentions/goals/resolutions for this year? Would you share them in the comments?