Wednesday, February 28, 2007

185 River Street

I'm going to apologize right now for a "wimpy" post for the Carnival of Genealogy.

Our topic this time around is "Shelter from the Storm: Stories of the Home and Hearth." I could think of some great stories of ancestral homes (or even my current one), but I've been so busy lately, I didn't have the time to research properly and put together some photos. I had quite a few ancestors who were carpenters, and so you'd think I have a whole slew of ancestral homes to write about; but the trouble is, I grew up in Alaska and Washington, and everyone was living in Michigan. I only have a few memories of the homes of my grandparents and great-grandparents. One of the ones I remember best I have already written about in the "AnceStory" of my paternal grandfather, Robert Lewis Robbins. I encourage you to read his story and what I've written about the house and business he built on 185 River Street (probably with monies he received after serving in WWII).

I last saw this house in October 2000, when my husband and children took a trip back east to visit family. It hadn't been owned by the Robbins family for over 10 (maybe 15?) years at that point, and so we couldn't go in. We just slowly drove by and I took a photo. It was very sad seeing the house that I knew had been full of memories for four generations of Robbinses no longer sheltering our family. I hope the current residents appreciate the sturdiness of Grandpa's workmanship, and feel the love and laughter of 40+ years surrounding them.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

EWGS March Meeting

The Eastern Washington Genealogical Society will be meeting this Saturday, March 3rd in the meeting rooms on the main floor of the Downtown Branch of the Spokane Public Library. Paid parking is available in the library garage (accessed on Spokane Falls Boulevard) or in River Park Square (linked to the library via skywalk). Some prefer to park for free down at the bottom of the Main Avenue hill in Peaceful Valley, or across the river near the Flour Mill, and get some fresh air and exercise to boot. Coffee, cookies and conversation will begin at 12:30 PM, followed by the general meeting at 1:00. Our guest speaker will be Susan DeChant, speaking on "Sherman Creek: What a Rush!" (research tips from a compulsive, Type A, genealogy junkie). Besides being a member of EWGS, Susan is also the President of the Northeast Washington Genealogical Society, and webmaster of the Stevens County, Washington USGenWeb site.

The meeting should adjourn between 2:30 and 3:00 PM. Quite a few people, including myself, like to come early or stay late (Saturday library hours are 10:00 AM - 6:00 PM) and use the Genealogy Room, the microfilmed local newspaper area, or the Northwest Room (city archives) to do research. Volunteers will be on hand in the Genie Room to assist those with their research.

As chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, I'll be selling nifty genealogical items as well as tickets for our monthly raffle prize. This month our prize will be a hodge-podge of Irish genealogical resources. Also available are the genealogy magazine exchange box, and workshop cassettes that can be borrowed. If any members are interested in signing up for our computer classes, I'll have my sign-up sheets at the ready!

You don't have to be a member of EWGS to attend our meetings, and we always enjoy newcomers! It's a great way to get to know others who may be researching your ancestral locations, or even your family surnames! Hope to see you there!

Sunday, February 25, 2007

February Scanfest Report

Today was the first ever Genealogy Bloggers Scanfest, and I'm happy to report that a fun, productive time was had by all. I was joined at 12 p.m. PST by Lee and Jasia for a couple of hours of scanning and group chatting via Windows Live Messenger. We talked about our scanning projects: Lee was scanning ancestral tintypes, which sadly were not labeled; Jasia was scanning reproductions of old family photos from her mother-in-law's lines; and I was scanning a family record book my great-grandparents filled out with genealogical information.

While we worked, we chatted about preservation, scanners, photograph types, the responsibilities of being the "family archivist," blogging, our families, and even what we were making for dinner! It was a great way to connect with each other, and I look forward to doing it again!

The next scheduled Scanfest will be Sunday, March 25th, again from noon to 2:00 p.m., PST. We hope you'll join us! E-mail me at kidmiff AT gmail DOT c o m to be added to our chat list.

New Prompt (Week Nine) at AnceStories2

Week Nine: Letters to My Siblings' Descendants is the new prompt that's just been posted to my AnceStories 2: Stories of Me for My Descendants blog.

There's a group of about five of us journaling, all offline. Come join us!

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Join Us for Scanfest!

Admit've got a pile of photos and/or genealogy documents you need to scan; several computer folders of digital photos you need to tag and burn to disk; a stack of papers you were planning on copying and mailing to that cousin that's interested in genealogy but doesn't have a computer; or a messy desk that needs straightening and organizing. In other words, you have a project that you haven't gotten to because its boring, mindless, and you can think of other things you'd rather do... instant messaging with your genealogy blogger friends! Please join Lee and me on Sunday, February 25th from 12 - 2 PM, P.S.T. to scan (tag, copy, file, or whatever!) and chat via instant messenger. I will have Windows Live Messenger running. You can send your e-mail address to me (kidmiff AT gmail DOT c o m) and I will add you to my contacts list and the Scanfest group. Or you can search for me--Miriam Robbins Midkiff--to add me to your contacts list, if you have WLM already (it will be kidmiff AT hotmail DOT c o m). To add Windows Live Messenger to your computer, go here.

In the future, we'd like to set up a chat room, but this was rather last minute, as you can see. I'd like to continue it on a permanent basis, i.e. the last Sunday of every month. Please join us!

P.S. Kudos to Susan Kitchens of the Family Oral History blog for coming up with this idea. I would have loved to have her take the lead in this, but haven't heard from her in a while. Maybe she'll be willing to take this on later.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

New Genealogy Blogs

Dick Hillenbrand, over at Upstate New York Genealogy, has created a new blog called Genealogy Miscellanea. A description can be found at the beginning of his first post, "CHASE family founders of NECCO Candy Company":
This Blog site was created for the express purpose of posting miscellaneous items of possible interest to others that does not otherwise fit within the realm of our original Blog for “Upstate New York Genealogy” which can be found by visiting our website at

And ever the blogger addict, yours truly has created a companion blog to my website by the same name, The Atlas Project, currently hosted on my AnceStories website. The Atlas Project is my personal project dedicated to the history and genealogy of the citizens of Atlas Township, Genesee County, Michigan, located southwest of Flint. Four of my ancestral lines immigrated to the area from the Town of Clarence, Erie County, New York, and in my genealogical research, I discovered that many other residents also did. Their families had intermarried in New York, and their descendants continued to do so in Michigan. As a way to untangle my Atlas - Clarence roots, I developed this project as a connecting point for other Atlas researchers.

Research Log - HOEKSTRA

I spent a little over an hour the night before last working on some documents for my 3rd-great-grandfather (ahnentafel #58), Jan Martens "John" HOEKSTRA (1820 - 1909). I realized that I did not have a copy of his enumeration on the 1900 U.S. Federal Census, so I went to Ancestry to download and print it. The copy printed onto a standard 8 1/2" x 11" sheet of paper was rather small to read, so I then printed a copy of the free 1900 census form they offer. With pencil I filled in all the information on the form pertinent to Jan and third wife Grietje "Grace" [--?--] Van DAM, then placed both the census image copy and the filled-out form in my Hoekstra Family binder.

(The census image has been removed)

I then opened up my RootsMagic genealogy software, and used the Source Wizard feature to add all the pertinent census data to Jan and Grietje's personal records in proper format.

Observations I noted:
  • The couple are enumerated as "John" and "Grace" HOEKSTRA, anglicized versions of their forenames.
  • Jan's age (79) and date of birth (Mar 1821), while consistent with each other, are incorrect. He was 80 years old and born in March 1820, information shown in abstracts of the birth records found online in the archives of the Province of Friesland, the Netherlands. His county death record and obituary match his birth record abstract.
  • There are squiggles in the columns for "Number of years of present marriage" for both Jan and Grietje. They had been married for nearly 6 years at that point (I have their county marriage record). I know it was his third and her second marriage.
  • Jan's year of immigration (1881) and number of years of residence in the United States (19) were way off. He immigrated in 1867 and so had lived 33 years in the U.S. by 1900. I am beginning to wonder if this was Grietje's immigration information.
  • He was listed as a naturalized citizen. I then went to the State of Michigan's website and found a Jan Hoekstra listed in the Ottawa County Naturalization Index. The first paper for this individual is in Volume 2, Page 368. I can access these on microfilm through my local Family History Center to see if this Jan Hoekstra is the same man as my ancestor.
  • Jan is listed as a home owner of a mortgage-free home at 481 Wood Avenue, Muskegon (5th Ward), Muskegon Co., Michigan. Obtaining deed records would be a good idea. A while ago, I did a keyword search for "481 wood" at Ancestry's "Muskegon, Michigan Directories, 1887 - 1890" database. For the year 1887 - 1888, there were four Van DAM gentlemen, Guerin (laborer), Jeremiah (laborer at Ryerson manufacturing Co., boarder), John (laborer, boarder), and Joseph (laborer for T. D. Stimson). For the year 1889 - 1890, only Guerin (laborer) and Joseph (laborer at Ryerson manufacturing Co.) were listed at the home. Jan and Grietje were married in September 1894, and from his obituary we learn that he moved to Muskegon around 1895 from Holland, Ottawa Co., Michigan (likely at the time of his marriage to Grietje). I need to do further research on Grietje's first husband and children to see how the above names fit into her family group record. I think her first husband probably died, as did Jan's first and second wives, before she married Jan. But I don't know her husband's first name, and looking at a Van DAM family in Holland, Michigan in the 1880 U.S. Federal Census--a possible match for Grietje--does not clarify things for me, but rather leaves me with more questions. So I'll be doing more research on her first marriage and subsequent children later. And I'm curious about the transfer of the property from the Van DAM family to Jan HOEKSTRA.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Jackpot! A Global List of Repositories

Attempting to locate archives of Dutch-American resource repositories, I quite by accident stumbled across a wonderful list on the University of Idaho website. Repositories of Primary Sources lists links to websites for libraries and archives of all categories around the world: national, state/provincial, municipal, religious, and educational, and more. The description states:
A listing of over 5000 websites describing holdings of manuscripts, archives, rare books, historical photographs, and other primary sources for the research scholar.

Browsing through the links, I came across some familiar archives websites, and know from experience that these contain a variety of online resources. For some, you will only be able to access the resources by physically visiting the archives, or contacting an on-site archivist or paid researcher to assist you. These will normally have contact information available, or perhaps a list of local professional researchers for hire. Other repository websites may contain searchable and/or browseable catalogs. Some may even have databases or even scanned photographic or document collections available online!

It behooves you to investigate the Repositories of Primary Sources list...what discoveries you might make!

Monday, February 19, 2007

Need Some Help Here...!

Update: Thanks to Lee for contacting Susan for me and for sending me the URL for the site I was seeking!:

We have a pretty resourceful group!
I need some help with a couple of things, so I am asking the blogging community for their assistance.

First off, I'm trying to reach Susan Kitchens of the Family Oral History Using Digital Tools blog. I tried to contact her via her blog, but the spam blocker (where you type in the letters you see) kept telling me I typed in the wrong thing. :-( If you have Susan's email address, or can contact her through her site with better luck than I, please let her know I am trying to reach her! My e-mail address is kidmiff at gmail dot com.

Secondly, I'm trying to find a great website I stumbled across a few weeks ago with a free tutorial for organzing your genealogy files using binders and RIN numbers of genealogy software like Legacy, PAF, etc. The site had photos of the steps involved in organizing. I have tried Googling this site and also looking through various genealogy websites for organization tutorials, without success. Can anyone help me out?

18th Carnival of Genealogy is Posted

I tried to blog this earlier, and ran into a here goes again! Jasia, over at Creative Gene, has posted the 18th Carnival of Genealogy. The topic is "5 Best Tips for Specific Research Areas." Nine bloggers share their tips for researching in specific locations including Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Northeast Indiana, Detroit (Polish ancestors), San Diego (CA), Texas, and Upstate New York. There also a blog on five generic tips that can be used for any kind of research. So take a look and check it out. Even if none of these research areas apply to you, you may get an idea or two of how to do research in your ancestral locations.

The topic for the 19th Carnival of Genealogy is "Shelter from the Storm: Stories of Home and Hearth." I encourage you to take a try at blogging on a specific's a lot of fun!

Sunday, February 18, 2007

New Prompt (Week Eight) at AnceStories2

I've just posted the prompt for Week Eight at my AnceStories2: Stories of Me for My Descendants blog. It's called "Your Oldest Living Ancestor," and here you can write about what you know about the oldest person in your family who was alive at the time of your birth.

I'm still working on my Week Two response, about when and where I was born. It's taking me some time, because I'm having fun doing a little research on the town where I was born, Kodiak, Alaska!

For those who are following the journal prompts, I encourage them not to feel "behind" if they don't keep up every week, or answer every week's prompt. I'm a bit of a perfectionist, and if I tell myself that I'm "behind," then I tend to give up. I remind myself that writing something is better than writing nothing!

Untangled Family Roots Website

My blogging friend and co-Inland Empire resident Amy Crooks just informed me that she has a new website up, Untangled Family Roots. Her products look very professional, and I look forward to meeting her and perhaps examining her materials in person soon. Don't forget to check out her blog by the same name (she's on my Favorite Genealogy Blog Links to the right), AND she's got a great personal blog, Life Goes On.

Recommended Reading for Michigan Research

Tim Agazio's comment on my "5 Tips for Michigan Internet Research" got me thinking of other resources for beginning Michigan researchers, and I couldn't resist blogging about them. I have four printed resources and several more Internet resources to recommend.
  • *The first resource I ever read on Michigan research was the Family History Center's "Michigan Research Outline". This 16-page booklet gives a quick Michigan history overview, and lists what kind of resources and records that are available to the public, as well as repositories and research centers for the state. Most importantly, it lists the microfilm/fiche numbers for many of the microfilmed records available through the Family History Library. You can rent these through your local Family History Center. At the time, I purchased the Research Outline for about two or three dollars at my local Family History Center. Now I can view the outline online, and even print it up in PDF format (look for the PDF icon on the right side of the page). If you are looking for Research Outlines for other locations (states, provinces, countries), go to the FamilySearch website (, then click on the Search tab in the top menu bar. Under Search, choose Research Helps, and then the letter of the alphabet that corresponds to your locale. While there will be many resources for your location, the Research Outline will be most helpful for specific research in that area.
  • *The next printed resource I found for specific Michigan research was the Michigan Cemetery Compendium. At the time, this (currently) out-of-print book was one of the few Michigan resources of use to me in the genealogy collection of the Spokane Public Library. It lists all the known cemeteries for each county (sub-categorized into townships and cities), including alternate names; the physical location of the cemetery; the owner (in general terms - association, township, or religious, etc.); whether active, inactive, or abandoned; the date its burials were recorded at the Michigan State Library (if recorded); and the name of the cemetery if the bodies were re-interred. You may be lucky to find this book in your local public or genealogical library. If not, you may request that photocopies of the pages for the county you need be sent to you via InterLibrary Loan. However, this information is also available online at the State of Michigan's History, Arts, and Libraries website (HAL) at the Michigan Cemetery Sources page. Click on Search, then choose a county for a list of all cemeteries within that county. Or make your search more specific by also choosing a township. Be sure to check the bottom of your screen to see if there are more pages of hits available. Clicking on view to the left of the cemetery name will give you information as to whether burial transcriptions are available in printed form. These publications may be available through InterLibrary Loan.
  • *The next printed resource with Michigan research tips I read was Ancestry's Red Book: American State, County & Town Sources. Most genealogy libraries have this in their collection. It is a wonderful list of sources categorized by state, and is very much like having a library of state research resources in one concise volume. Each chapter is written by one or more expert researcher or professional genealogist with expertise in that state's research. A map by Bill Dollarhide and a table of county information is provided for each state. The county information includes the clerk's address, the date of formation, parent county/ies, and the dates land, probate, and court records began. New England states also have similar town resource tables. subscribers can access this book online. Because it's transcribed and not scanned, it is a little tricky accessing the first page of the Michigan chapter, but I found it here. You can also search the Red Book database by keywords (michigan immigration, new hampshire census, etc.) here.
  • *I was overjoyed when I discovered that there was a book titled Michigan Genealogy: Sources & Resources (Carol McGinnis, 2005 [2nd edition], Genealogical Publishing Company)! Imagine a whole book filled with information just for the Michigan researcher! You can read the blurb at GPC. (There is a limited preview edition [the first three pages of each chapter] of the first printing of this book available on Google Books here.) The photo below shows loving use with tons of Post-its!
  • *For more online resources, spend some time reading and browsing at the following websites: Cyndi's List (specific Michigan resources and localities), Linkpendium (specific Michigan resources), and the State of Michigan's History, Arts and Libraries pages. On the last-mentioned website, take time to check out every link and sub-link in the left-hand menu for access to the Library of Michigan, the state Historical Center, the Archives, Genealogy, Newspapers, and Cemeteries...just to name a few! State Librarian Nancy Robertson's blog can be found on the Library of Michigan page, as well as in my list of Favorite Genealogy Blog Links listed to the right.
I hope this list is helpful, and am always open to more recommendations for Michigan sources.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Spokane-area Obit Index To Be Online

Eastern Washington Genealogical Society Second Vice President Carol Nettles announced at the last EWGS meeting that the society will be indexing the local obituary collection and eventually placing the index online. No word yet on the range of years that will be available or the newspapers to be included, but the society already houses the extensive Patchen collection, begun by librarian Lee Patchen, which includes decades' worth of several thousand obitaries clipped and filed on the old-style card-catalog index cards. In addition, obituaries from local newspapers for the years 1980 - 1996 have been copied and bound in books and also housed in the genealogy room, located on the third floor of the Downtown Library Branch of the Spokane Public Library. Society researcher Charles Hansen also does obit lookups in the microfilmed issues of the Spokesman-Review, the Spokane Chronicle, and the Spokane Press (the latter two newspapers are no longer in business). He generously donates his time in exchange for donations to the EWGS.

If your ancestors or relatives lived in Eastern Washington, this announcement is sure to be good news for you and your research!

Thursday, February 15, 2007

5 Tips for Michigan Internet Research

As part of the 18th Carnival of Genealogy, I am sharing five simple tips I've discovered while tracing my family tree in Michigan via the Internet over the past eight or nine years. Many of these tips can be used for research in other states as well.
  • *Use county genealogy websites - whether you use USGenWeb or USGenNet or websites unaffiliated with any genealogy network, find out what's available for the county of your interest. The Michigan county sites I've found most helpful, with tons of transcribed data, contacts for lookup volunteers, county histories and biographies, and many useful links include the ones for Kent, Ottawa, Muskegon, Newaygo, Genesee and Lapeer Counties. Tip: For most county sites on USGenWeb, you can type in the following URL for quick access:, in which "xx" is the two-letter abbreviation for the state, and "y" is the county name, up to 6 letters.
  • *Use genealogy society websites. I've found that the sites for the Western Michigan Genealogical Society and the Flint Genealogical Society are chock full of transcribed data that surpasses even that found on the county genealogy pages. The WMGS, which covers six western Michigan counties, has an obituary index database from 1910 to the present, and is currently adding names found in engagement, marriage and anniversary announcements from area newspapers to this database. In addition, they have Kent County Marriage Records Index from 1845 - 1929, as well as 16 other detailed databases! The FGS has a wonderful cemetery index database that covers more than just Genesee County cemeteries. They also have data currently being added to their birth, marriage, and death index databases from the 1860s through the early 1900s. Both societies have holdings, resources, and other interesting links that are very informational. Tip: Use Cyndi's List to find genealogical societies in the locales of your ancestors' homes.
  • *Use the International Genealogical Index (IGI) to find abstracts of Michigan vital records. Go to and choose the Search tab near the top of the page. Then choose International Genealogical Index in the left-hand menu. Next, enter the first and last names of the person you wish to search, and choose North America, United States, and Michigan for your search locale. I have been very lucky to find a lot of collateral relatives as well as some direct ancestors listed in the IGI. Check the source of each record to make sure it is an extract of a county record, not one submitted by a church member. The former tends to be more accurate than the latter. Tip: I make a list of all the family members whose records I find in a particular county on the IGI, then go to my local Family History Center to order the microfilm(s) of the county records so that I can view and print copies for myself.
  • *Use state and county vital records indexes. The Genealogical Death Indexing System (GENDIS) is provided by the Michigan Department of Vital Records and Health Statistics, and contains an index of many county death records from 1867 to 1897. Several county clerks' websites contain vital records indexes as well, including Muskegon and Genesee Counties. A listing of all Michigan county clerks websites can be found here. For more vital records indexes online, visit Joe Beine's website. Tip: It's often much less expensive to order vital records from a county clerk's office than from a state's Department of Health.
  • *Check out Michigan County Histories. With 202 volumes in 170 histories online dating from 1866 to 1926, you're sure to find a relative, if not an ancestor, if your roots extend back into Michigan's pioneer days. These scanned images contain not just county histories, but township histories, biographies, photographs, maps and military lists from the Civil War. Many other states have embarked or are embarking on similar projects. Google your state's archive website to discover more. Tip: If you're searching for a common surname in the MCH site, choose the Boolean or Proximity search to narrow down your search. To view an image after searching, click on Results Details, followed by the hyperlinked page number. If there's a lot of text on a page image and you're having trouble finding your surname on it, choose the text format from the drop-down menu near the top of the page. Voila! Your search term will be highlighted!
There you have it: five simple tips for doing Internet research in online Michigan resources. Happy Surfing!

P.S. I just added another post on a similar topic, "Recommended Reading for Michigan Research."

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

New Page Created to Search USGenWeb

From today's RootsWeb Review:
Daryl Lytton, involved with the original USGenWeb founders and the
USGenWeb Newsletter Assistant Editor, has recently launched a new page for searching the state sites on are his words on the huge undertaking:

"The scope of the project is to, for the first time in the ten-year history of the USGenWeb Project, make available for researchers the capability to search all USGenWeb states, State Special Projects, counties within the states (and where available cities within the counties), and USGenWeb Special Projects excluding the Archives and Archives Sub-Projects because they are all hosted by RootsWeb and have their own search capabilities. We do have links to the USGenWeb Archives search, and to the two USGenWeb Census Projects searches, so that the Search Us homepage can be a one-stop shop for researchers wanting to search the USGenWeb."

The thirteen original states, plus Alaska and Hawaii (the last two), and the USGenWeb Special Projects have all been indexed and, according to Daryl, the goal is to have the rest of the states done by May, if not sooner. After that, the goal is to enable a USGenWeb-wide search.

With these new searching capabilities, even Daryl says he has been able to find information on his family that eluded him before. More volunteers are always needed to help with the project. If you're interested, contact UsGenWeb at Comments@USGenWeb-Search.Us. Good work Daryl and team!

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Eastern Washington Veterans Cemetery Given Nod

From the February 13th, 2007 edition of the Spokesman-Review, Spokane, Washington:
OLYMPIA - The state House of Representatives voted unanimously Monday to establish an Eastern Washington state veterans cemetery in Spokane County, capping a years-long push by local veterans and the state Department of Veterans Affairs...Monday's vote means that the cemetery - slated for one of two proposed sites west of Spokane - is all but a done deal.

Currently, all honorably discharged veterans and their spouses are eligible to be buried at the existing national Tahoma Cemetery near Kent.

But with an estimated 140,000 veterans living in Eastern Washington - including nearly 52,000 in Spokane County - veterans' groups have said for years that it's impractical for families to drive 280 miles to visit loved ones interred at Tahoma.

Ontario, Canada Vital Records at Ancestry

I have the feed to Joe Beine's blog on my Google home page (along with feeds from many of my favorite blogs), and I noticed yesterday that he had a new post entitled "Online Canada Death Records Indexes." I discovered that not only were the death records indexes for Ontario available at, but so were Ontario birth and marriage records indexes. Where have I been?

I have no idea when these databases were added to Ancestry, so that's what I love about Joe's blog. It highlights new online databases, links of which are posted at his website. For someone like me who can be very easily overwhelmed by visual clutter, this blog is a godsend. Whenever I try to find out what's new at Ancestry, it's too hard for me to process all the information available on their "What's New" page. Besides, Ancestry isn't the only kid on the block. Joe's easy-on-the-eyes blog and website have links simply categorized from all over the web.

I was very excited to find birth, marriage, and death records for many of my SAYERS, WILKINSON, and SWEERS (SWEARS) kin in Ontario. I wasn't as successful with my BARBER, COLE, and McARTHUR (MacARTHUR) searches, probably because I didn't have enough information to do a specific search, and/or the records I needed were too early for registration. At long last, I believe I found a death record for my 4th-great-grandmother, Mary (TERRY) WILKINSON (or was her maiden name LAMOREAUX?...I have documents that support both as her maiden name). Here's a snippet of her death record from Markham Village, York County, Ontario:

For a full-size view, click here.

If you've got Canadian ancestors in Ontario from 1858 to 1932, I recommend you visit Ancestry. And no matter from where your ancestors hailed, I definitely recommend you visit Joe!

YORK Research Log

Last Wednesday I received an e-mail from a lady who said she was the daughter of Howard Paul YORK (1943 - 1990) and had seen information about him on my Ancestry family tree. I e-mailed her back with my phone number and explained that Howard was the younger half-brother of my paternal grandmother, but that they had never met; until a couple of years ago, my grandmother did not know she had had younger half brothers. Sadly, both died young, as did her "full" brother.

On Friday, Howard's daughter and I were finally able to connect via telephone. I had a lot to share with her about the family, information I pieced together over the years regarding this fractured family. It was fractured by several generations of divorce as well as the placing of my grandmother and her brother into an orphanage by their father when they were very little. Howard's daughter knew very little about the family history, as her parents had divorced when she was young, and he had known little about his father, Howard, Sr., who had also died young. Howard, Sr. was her grandfather and my great-grandfather, making her my dad's half-first cousin. However, she and I are closer than age than she and my dad, since her father was young enough to be my grandmother's son.

After a half hour of conversation, we hung up with the promise of exchanging photos and more information.

Peder Johnsen LERFALD death

Cynthia from Random Acts has done a lookup for me in the St. Croix County, Wisconsin death records and abstracted the following information on my husband's great-great-grandfather:
Volume 18 Page 323

Peter Lerfald


Born April 25, 1855 in Norway

Died August 16, 1936

81 years, 3 months, 27 days


Father: John Lerfald (born in Norway)

Mother: Unknown (born in Norway)

Informant: John Lerfald, Woodville

Buried August 20, 1936 at Woodville Cemetery

[The reason for death was hard to read:] Carcinoma Maxlom [?] right eye. Sinus with catgasive involvement of face, nose and palate. [I am only writing what it looked like. Could it have been brain or mouth cancer?]

No autopsy.

Microscope confirmed diagnosis

Dr. saw him from November 1935 - August 16, 1936. Onset was in 1935.

She was able to tell me where and how to order this record (Registrar of Deeds) and the cost ($7). Cynthia's also looking into why the Woodville newspapers are non-existent for the 10 or 12-year time period that includes 1936 (no obituaries available). She believes it was due to a fire.

Volunteers are wonderful people!

Monday, February 12, 2007

My Turn to Rant

If you've been following the brouhaha blowing through the genealogical world during the past 24 hours, you'll know that Lee had a bad day, Chris jumped in to cheer her up, as did Jasia and many others. I'm proud of them and proud of us for supporting her through her crisis. I know that when it's my turn to fall to pieces, they'll have my back. I have to thank Jasia and Susan for kick-starting the "Five Things About Me" meme last month which created a closeness in our genea-blogger community that was so evident today.

I made a comment at the end of Chris's blog that I would like to expand upon for clarification. Some might get the idea that this was all about the "amateur" genealogist versus the "professional;" that amateurs think that professional, accredited, or otherwise certified genealogists are arrogant so-and-sos; or that professionals believe that amateurs have no standards and make up their family history as they go. Some may even believe that I think that anyone with a degree or who is a professional is a snob. Not so.

To address that last point: I have met many wonderful people with multiple degrees and accreditations in both the education and the genealogical fields (as well as other fields), whose education has allowed for tremendous opportunities for them,which they have been very generous in sharing with myself and others. Many of them have gladly mentored and encouraged me in my endeavors, both in my career of education and in my hobby of genealogy. Many are family members and close friends.

I am also grateful for the standards that are in place for the genealogical world, and am striving to educate myself on the finer points and redo my work (a painfully slow process) to reflect those standards. I didn't know anyone who was "into" genealogy the way I was when I started 20 years ago, and the few how-to books I read simply said to write down where I got my information. So I did, in very simple, unofficial citations. Now I am going back and doing it the "right" way, not because I feel pressured to do so, but because I know better, and I want my work to be of high quality. I do enjoy reading blogs, articles and books by professionals in this field, such as Arlene H. Eakle, Elizabeth Shown Mills, Roger Joslyn, Karen Clifford, Myra Vanderpool Gormley, to name a few, and I respect their education and experience.

What really ticked me off was the slamming that Lee got from certain individuals after she posted her blog. You see, the point of a blog is that it is a journal. A blog is not a genealogy quarterly with every statement cited and sourced, nor is it a mailing list in which one must stay on topic and be appropriate. It is a place of opinion, passion, and emotion, and it is personal in that it is "owned" by the author, who has complete freedom to express his or her opinions, passions and emotions. Lee didn't write an inappropriate message on the APG mailing list putting them down for their standards. She was simply having a meltdown--on her own personal blog--about not knowing what direction she needed to go in her life. Been there, done that, even got the T-shirt from it. (And speaking of T-shirts...!)

(I have removed two paragraphs from the post that I had originally written here. It takes a lot for me to lose my temper, and it is usually ignited when I perceive someone being the target of injustice. The person to whom the original paragraphs were directed to very rightly pointed out that I should have approached her privately with my concerns before publishing. While I regret things I said in a moment of anger, I don't for a moment regret standing up for a friend. I also don't want Lee to regret my standing up for her!)

SO! Now that I have taken the time to be opinionated, passionate and emotional here, I'll move on and go about doing what I love most...hunting my ancestors, piecing their lives together, blogging, writing, and giving and taking with my genie buddies all over the 'Net.

Until next time,

(I believe that this issue should be laid to rest. It has the potential of dividing the genealogical community into two camps--pro and amateur--and we need each other too much to continue in this. I appreciate the cooler and wiser heads on both sides of this situation. Comments on this particular post will not be published. I am always available at my e-mail address, kidmiff at gmail dot com.)

Sunday, February 11, 2007

New Prompt at AnceStories2

I've just added my newest prompt to my AnceStories2 blog (Stories of Me for My Descendants), which is entitled "Your Religious Life." If you would like to join me in writing about your life for your children or other young people in your extended family, please join right in. You are not behind, you can start anywhere, at any point!

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Can You Read It?

Michael John Neill has a fun activity going on over at his blog, Rootdig. It's called "Can You Read It?" He posts images of signatures and handwritten entries from censuses and other documents, and challenges you to transcribe them. I think I've come close on a few of them, and am impatiently waiting for him to reveal the answers.

Michael's blog is a fun place to visit, anyway. He has many census entries of celebrities posted there, including recently deceased entertainer, Frankie Laine.

I had the pleasure of meeting Michael when he came to Spokane last year as a guest speaker for the Eastern Washington Genealogical Society's October Workshop. His four lectures were Organizing Your Information: Seeing the Patterns; Researching the Entire Family; Locating Immigrant Origins; and Tried and Tested Tidbits. Not only were his lectures interesting and educational, he made a great emcee in co-hosting the Ways and Means Committee's book and CD raffle. Thanks, Michael!

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Adoptive Family Ancestor Chart

Are you an adoptee, or descended from one? Or are there adoptees that have been added to your family circle? Family Tree Magazine now has a free three-generation ancestor chart available online that includes both the biological and adoptive ancestors of an individual. I'm definitely printing out a few copies. My paternal grandmother is an adoptee (I've traced both lines), and I have five adoptive first cousins, as well as two nieces, who are adoptees. I may even alter this chart to use for my mother, as she was raised by her step-father, and I've done a lot of research on his line.

The Top "Ten" Genealogical Websites

I'm a little behind in blogging about this, but I wanted to share a bit about the January 20th computer class. Every third Saturday (except in December) the Eastern Washington Genealogical Society offers a free computer class to its members only in the Gates Computer Lab of the downtown public library in Spokane. We have three hour-long sessions: one at 10:15 AM; one at 11:30 AM; and one at 1:30 PM. Each session can seat 15 people; 10 at computer stations, and five either sharing stations or simply taking notes at the back of the room. Our classes are generally booked solid, with names on standby. We take turns teaching the classes. Some of the instructors didn't really know much about the topic they chose, and educated themselves in order to help the group as a whole.

January's topic was the Top Ten Genealogical Websites, presented by our very own Donna Potter Phillips, a name recognized by many, I'm sure, as the author of numerous articles from various genealogical magazines. Although our area was hit with a nasty winter storm that day, we still had an average of eight students per session show up, regardless of the bad weather (that's how much we enjoy our classes!). I was expecting a review of the top ten websites that I'm familiar with (Ancestry, RootsWeb, Find A Grave, etc.), but was pleasantly surprised (with Donna, I often am!) that she had expanded the title to the following: The Top "Ten" New-Interesting-Fantastic-Exciting-Wonderful "New" Websites to Expand YOUR Online Research!

The "ten" websites (there are actually eleven) are listed below. Of course, to have attended the class and received the benefit of Donna's great tips, pointers, and enthusiasm, as well as a detailed syllabus, one must be a member of EWGS. I don't think Donna would mind for a moment, however, that I shared the URLs of the following sites with you.
Now, if you are an EWGS member and took Barbara Brazington's class on doing Boolean searches back in January 2006 (repeated by popular demand in September 2006!), you would know how to use Google to benefit your research.

Our society has found that these educational classes not only benefit us in our research, but have increased our membership. Flyers posted in the library have caught the eyes of many potential members, and they are only too eager to join in order to learn more about Internet genealogy! We've booked classes through the end of 2008, with a growing list for our 2009 program. If your society is dwindling in membership, perhaps you ought to try offering something similar. For a list of past, present and future classes, check out our Special Classes page.

Monday, February 05, 2007

17th Carnival of Genalogy

Jasia at Creative Gene has posted the 17th Carnival of Genealogy, whose topic is acknowledging those who've inspired our genealogical research. As usual, there are some great posts from many bloggers on this topic, and I encourage you to read them all. My own post, "I'd Like to Thank the Academy...", is shown below.

Jasia is accepting submissions for the 18th Edition of the Carnival of Genealogy; the topic will be "The Five Best Tips for Specific Genealogical Research." You can use the carnival submission form to submit your post. The deadline is February 15th.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

HeritageQuest Online Access Now Available for Spokane Public Library Patrons

We had a terrific meeting of the Eastern Washington Genealogical Society yesterday, and I will have much to blog about in future posts. One of the many terrific highlights was the announcement that Spokane Public Library patrons now have access to the HeritageQuest Online Index! In a community this size, it's been a wonder that this subscription has not been made sooner; although the library district, like many around the country, has been hit with severe budget cuts in the last decade.

This subscription entitles the patron to view the images of U.S. Federal Censuses from 1790 to 1930 (these are indexed by head of household only); search 20,000 family and local history books; search the Periodical Source Index for 1.9 million genealogy and local history articals in various publications; search selected records from the Revolutionary War Era Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application files; and search for individuals in the Freedman's Bank (1865 - 1874), which was founded to serve African-Americans.

To use this subscription, go to the Spokane Public Library website (, and click on "Research" in the left-hand menu, then on "Electronic Resources" in the drop-down menu. Next choose "Genealogy" from the list of topics. Under the Genealogy title, choose "Heritage Quest." You must then enter your 14-digit SPL patron number (found on your library card), without dashes or spaces.

Spokane County Library patrons already have access to Heritage Quest Online, as well as AncestryPlus (a library subscription to a limited number of databases). To access these subscriptions, go the the Spokane County Library website at and click on the "Research" tab near the top of the page. Choose "Information Databases" from the drop-down menu, then pick either AncestryPlus or HeritageQuest from the list of Library Databases. You will be instructed to enter your library card number.

If you are not from the Spokane area, you may wish to check with Dick Eastman's website for a list of library districts nationwide that offer HeritageQuest to their patrons.