Thursday, January 31, 2008

Native American Burial Ground Uncovered in Flint, Michigan

From the Grand Rapids Press blog:

Police have contacted the Tribal Council in Mount Pleasant to determine how to handle what may be an Indian burial ground near Atwood Stadium.

On Monday, the remains of what a Michigan State University anthropologist says are those of a very old Indian man were unearthed at a construction site at Stone Street and Third Avenue. A day later, another set of skeletal remains were dug up about 150 feet away from the first site. The MSU anthropologist also believes those to be Indian remains, Flint police said.

Click here to read more.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The March 2008 Issue of Internet Genealogy

On Monday, I received my March 2008 issue of Internet Genealogy. A bi-montly publication, I absolutely love this magazine, published by the same company as Family Chronicle and History Magazine. Many of the articles are written by authors who I know personally or from faithfully reading genealogy blogs, making reading each issue like getting a letter of helpful genealogical advice from an old friend! This month's issue contains the following articles:

"Jumping Over Hurdles in Western European Research" by Leslie Albrecht Huber

"Free Genealogy Software!" by Rick Crume

A Case Study, "The Case of John Barron, Early Illinois Settler," by Richard Crooks

"That's My Family" by Janice Nickerson (looking at a new database for Canadian researchers)

"Creating the Context for Your Ancestors' Lives" also by Leslie Albrecht Huber, in which she lists social history websites

"Researching Your French Ancestry Online" by Donna J. Pointkouski - hmmm, this looks especially interesting. Both hubby and I have a couple of lines that lead into France!

"Extend Your Research Reach with Mailing Lists" by George G. Morgan

"Checking the (Cyndi's) List" by Cindy Thompson

"Finding Huguenot Ancestors" by David A. Norris - another interest of mine, as it is believed that my Frisian surname, Renema ("of the family of Rene"), is actually a Huguenot line

"The Hidden Treasures of Gazetteers" by Leslie Albrecht Huber

"Passenger Records and Naturalization Records" by Diane L. Richard - I highlighted this one for my Intermediate Online Genealogy class, since that is the topic of our next session

"Libraries in Genealogy" by Mary Penner, looking specifically at online resources, of course

And in "Researching for TV," Janice Nickerson reveals what happens behind the scenes when researching family history for the Canadian television show, "Who Do You Think You Are?"

In addition, the following websites have been highlighted in the "Net Notes" column:

Lost Cousins -

RadixIndex: Hungarian Genealogy and Local History Databases -

ChicagoAncestors.Org -

The Workhouse: England, Ireland, Wales, Scotland and Elsewhere -

One of the nice things about Internet Genealogy is that they list all their links for each issue on their website, both current and past. Another is their very affordable subscription rate: $22.50 for a year's subscription (6 issues).

Monday, January 28, 2008

The 3rd Carnival of Central and Eastern European Genealogy Is Posted

Jessica at Jessica's Genejournal has just posted the 3rd edition of the Carnival of Central and Eastern European Genealogy. Although I do not have (to my knowledge) ancestry from this part of Europe, I always find it interesting to read these sorts of carnivals, and to learn more about the history of different parts of the world. I encourage you to peruse these articles, and if you have Central or Eastern European ancestry, please participate in the next carnival. Jessica writes:
The topic for the next carnival is a carousel. Article topics for this carnival can deal with stories, traditions, food, history, etc. of the countries of Central and Eastern Europe. The deadline for the next edition of the carnival will be February 18th. You can submit your article here.

Guests for Dinner

Mr. Joseph Josiah Robbins
Newfield Township, Oceana County, Michigan

Mrs. Mary "Polly" (Wyckoff) Crothers Chappel
Millington Township, Tuscola County, Michigan

Mr. Franklin Preston Midkiff
Lincoln (now Moore) County, Tennessee

Mrs. Berber J. "Barbara" (DeJong) Valk
1315 West Leonard Street
Grand Rapids, Kent County, Michigan

You are cordially invited to attend a dinner
held in your honor at the home of your descendants,
Norm and Miriam (Robbins) Midkiff,
Spokane, Spokane County, Washington
at 6 o'clock in the evening
on Friday, February 1st,
in the Year of Our Lord, 2008.

What a fascinating opportunity I would have if it were possible to invite these four ancestors to dinner! We would undoubtedly sit long into the wee hours of the night while I enjoyed their tales of the past and amazed them with the technology of the present. Here's what you might overhear me say, if you could also be present at the meal:

"Joseph, my fourth-great-grandfather, I know your father's name was George, but was he one and the same as George Washington Robbins who married Abigail Hicks? And that other George Robbins in Oceana County, was he your brother or some other relation? Tell me more about your first wife, Joe, Emeline C. What was her maiden name? Why, no one in the family had even heard about her until I obtained your pension record! And speaking of your Civil War days, did you really get captured by the Confederates and spend time in Andersonville?...because I can't find any evidence of that. I'm thinking your son Charlie was a bit of a tale-teller, or perhaps was a bit confused in his old age when he was interviewed by a reporter about your military experiences. He said you served in the War with Mexico and then started off to California during the Gold Rush but decided to come back home. Is this true? By the way, was Grandma your cousin? I mean, a woman named Marinda Robbins marrying a man named Joseph does make me wonder. And what was up with her surly old man, Uzza the blacksmith with the black temper? Sounds like he was a bit mentally unstable: poisoning his second wife with arsenic in her bean soup, and caving in the head of his son with an anvil, it appears. That surely must have been a scandal, and no wonder none of us for several generations had heard about it...until my friend Google helped me uncover the story! Good grief, what is with your obsession with the name Ben? Five sons, and three of them named Ben, Benjamin, and Benson! Did your daughter-in-law Viola ever tell you what she knew about her father Nelson H. Peck? Because he's another brick wall for me. Brick wall. It's kind of hard to explain. Yes, I know I'm being a pest, but just one more question: what happened to your daughter Evaline? Did she marry Joseph Lyttle, or was that another Evaline? If it's the same one, I need you to sign an affidavit, because the Oceana County Clerk has Evaline's maiden name as Stewart, not Robbins. You could really help me out here, Joseph, and I'm so glad you came for dinner! Now, let me show you how this TV works.'s short for television, and it's quite amazing..."

"Grandma Polly, it's so nice to meet you at last! You're my fourth-great-grandmother, you know. I've admired your needlework for many years now. Yes, I'm the one that has your lovely cross stitch sampler that you made nearly two centuries ago. I've been taking good care of it, and I hope that it remains in the family for many more generations! Polly, I do need to know more about Grandpa John Crothers: can you tell me more about his life? When and where he was born, who his parents and siblings were, how you met, and yes, please tell me the sad story of his death. I heard he drowned in the Erie Canal, but that might be hearsay. It must have been so difficult being left with seven children, or is that number correct? I do know you had seven in 1840, but I only know five of their names for sure. Was Moses one of your sons? I've been checking into him and I've long suspected he was yours! How did you meet your second husband, William Chappel? And what became of daughter Euphema? I can't find her after 1860. Goodness, I don't even know what happened to you and William after 1880! I've looked online in death and cemetery records for Millington Township and you've been very elusive! Did you go live with one of your children in a different county in your elder years? I can't find a death or burial place for you anywhere! You know, you come from a long, proud line of Wyckoffs who trace their roots back to New Netherlands and your immigrant ancestor, Peter Claesen Wyckoff, who came over in 1637 on the ship Rensselaerwick. But your mother's line (sigh)...I can't find much. Tell me more about her, that Elizabeth Mainard. I see that Cornelius Mainard is buried in the same cemetery as your parents; isn't he your uncle? Wait, Polly, you can't put a metal spoon in the microwave..."

"Frank, I honestly don't know whether to shake your hand or just shake you. Why when you died so young, you left your poor widow Ellender (yes, I know you always called her Nellie) with at least five little ones to raise. Yes, I know there were two other girls, but there's no mention of them after 1840. I don't even know their names. When Nellie died later on, your kids were still pretty young and had to do a lot of fending for themselves. Except for Ann, they all took off for Texas. You'd be proud of them. After all, your descendants founded the little community of Midkiff, Texas! And who in the world were your parents? Someone tried to tell me they were John Midkiff and Cathy Miller, but your sons' names are full of clues to family surnames, I think: William Franklin, John Rufus and Charles Anderson. I kind of figured you all came from Virginia, seeing how Isaiah and Hasten Midkiff, your neighbors, hailed from there. You see, we have this DNA Project going (hang on, I'll explain later) and it shows that all the Midkiffs we've tested so far are related. Well, maybe that's obvious to you, but not to us here in 2008. We're still trying to figure out how these three and four different lines connect and how the Midkiffs came over to this continent. Do you have any family stories to share? I mean, it's kind of odd that we can trace your wife's Oliver ancestry back two hundred years or more, but yours kind of deadends. Norm, let's get a picture of you with your great-great-great-grandfather. Now, Franklin, that there is a remote for the stereo, and you need to be careful with it. You're increasing the volume and if you hit the "mute" button, our ears are going to get AAAAHHHHH!...give me that!"

"Hello, Barbara, I'm your great-great-granddaughter. Of all the guests tonight, you are the only one I've had an idea of what you looked like before we met. See these family photos? I've also had the pleasure of standing at your grave, and that of your husband and mother-in-law...the first ancestral graves I ever visited, back in 2000. I'd love to hear the stories of your growing up years in the Netherlands and how you came over to the U.S. in 1882 with your fiance', James. I actually found your names on the Surrey's passenger list, and even found a photo of the ship. Now, Barbara, I really need to know when and where you were born for sure, and the names of your parents. See, I'm guessing you were born in the municipality of Ferwerderadeel, Friesland like your husband was, probably in the village of Westernijkerk. But I think someone forgot to turn in your birth information to the authorities, and it never got written down! I know your father's name was Sjoerd deJong, but who was your mother? Let me guess...Janna (Jennie) or Grietje (Gertrude). See, I know how the Dutch name their children, and you kept naming your girls Catherine (for your mother-in-law), Jennie and Gertrude; even when one of your little girls died, you'd give the next one the same name. I'm sorry you and James lost so many children. It must've been so hard. You know, I've seen lists of deJongs at the Westernijkerk church yard online, and even one named Sjoerd, but he would have been too old to be your father...was he a grandfather? "Online" means on the Internet; let me show you this computer. It's like a window to the world. No, it's not black magic. There's nothing evil about it! Trust me..."

Oh, it would be an interesting evening for sure! Who would be more fascinated, more thrilled, more excited, we or our guests? Too bad we'll never know!

Locations of my (Scots) Irish Ancestors

I've been lucky enough to know the exact location where my SAYERS family originated in Ireland before they emigrated to Canada in the 1830s. Letterkenny is the largest town in County Donegal, in the province of Ulster, Ireland, and apparently was the home of many Ulster Scots. I've mentioned before that I really haven't done much Irish research on my family, mainly because they lived in Ireland during a period of time for which it is difficult to access records, if they still exist. Many of the records that were kept when the SAYERS lived in Letterkenny were later destroyed, or are only accessed onsite.

I enjoyed reading through Wikipedia's descriptions of the place names I mentioned above. I also did a Google image search for Letterkenny, Donegal and Ulster, and by clicking on these links, you should be able to see some beautiful images as well.

When the SAYERS family came to Canada in the mid-1830s (the family immigrated in several stages over the course of about five years), they settled in Prince Edward County (not to be confused with Prince Edward Island), Ontario, particularly Picton and Athol Township. Some of the siblings and cousins moved into Hungerford Township in Hastings County, while my direct line traveled further to Cavan Township in Durham County and Port Hope in Northumberland County. I'm still studying the rather complicated histories of the locations and residences in which this family lived, backtracking bit by bit over time. As more and more information is available online (I haven't been able to find many resources for these areas at my local library), I've been able to educate myself further. There's much more to learn, and I've been keeping myself occupied with researching these lines after they came to Michigan.

I'd love to have the opportunities to visit all these locations and see the places where my Irish immigrant ancestors lived, worked, and worshiped. Until then, I'll be satisfied in being an armchair traveler using the amazing technology of the Internet!

Evelyn Gladys (McKINNEY) LUDKE (1908 - 2008)

LUDKE, Evelyn Gladys
(Age 99)

Entered into rest on Friday, January 25, 2008. She was born on July 11, 1908 in Spokane, WA to Cora and I.E. (Mac) McKinney. Evelyn was raised with her brother and sister by her grandparents, Diedrich "Richard" and Mary Behrens on their farm in Rockford, WA. After graduating from North Central High School she worked as a beautician. In 1933 she married Harry Ludke. During her life she was involved in numerous clubs and organizations. Evelyn enjoyed being a member of the Phi Sigma Alpha National Fraternity, Gamma Chapter. She enjoyed reading, solving crossword puzzles, golfing and playing bridge. Evelyn also volunteered as an aid in hospitals. When she was in her fifties she graduated from Spokane Community College as a Licensed Practical Nurse. Then for a number of years she worked at St. Luke's Hospital as a LPN. She is preceded in death by her husband of almost 70 years, Harry in 2003; son, Keith: brother, Harold McKinney; sisters, Michel (Mickey) Webb and Mercedes Loffer. She is survived by her son, Gary and his wife, Marlys of Spokane, WA; two granddaughters, Diane (Mike) Midkiff of Spokane and Nancy (Doug) Marks of Aberdeen, WA; seven great-grandchildren, Jennifer (Nathan) Fawbush, David, Rebekah and Kayla Midkiff, Kari, Ali and Chase Marks and one great-great-granddaughter, Evelyn Fawbush, who was named after her. Funeral services for Evelyn Ludke will be held on Tuesday, January 29, 2008, at 1:00 pm, at the Sunset Mausoleum Chapel at Fairmount Memorial Park. The Reverend Greg Carter will officiate. HAZEN AND JAEGER FUNERAL HOME, 1306 N. MONROE is in charge of arrangements.

Evelyn was the grandmother of my husband's sister-in-law. When my future brother-in-law and his wife introduced me to Evelyn, she gave me a huge hug and told me, "Welcome to the family!" even though I was actually joining the Midkiff--not the Ludke--family. She attended our wedding, and for many years, she was present at the birthday celebrations of my husband's nieces and nephew. I always enjoyed chatting with her. Having grown up in the Spokane area, she had a lot of stories to tell of local happenings in days gone by. I'll miss her.

Report on January 2008 Scanfest

This month's Scanfest was the largest, attendee-wise, that I've hosted so far! Our group included repeat Scanfesters Colleen of Orations of OMcHodoy, Apple of Apple's Tree, and Jasia of Creative Gene. We were joined for the first time by Thomas of Destination: Austin Family, Elizabeth of Little Bytes of Life, and Renee of Renee's Genealogy Blog.

As usual, there was a variety of items being scanned, as well as a variety of topics we discussed. Apple and I each had piles of old postcards, which she blogs about here. Colleen was scanning a pile of pictures that she had gotten from her dad's house last summer, and Thomas rescanned some favorite photos that he had originally scanned in low resolution. Sally Jacob's free download (available here with a sign-up for her free newsletter), 8 Blunders People Make When They Scan Photographs...and How You Can Avoid Them All, had educated Thomas on the correct resolution he needed for best photo preservation. Jasia was also working on photos, family ones from the early 1980s and later. Elizabeth had borrowed an album of old family photos from a cousin and was attempting to get her project done so she could return it. Renee couldn't join us until near the end; her pile of scanning to-dos included family documents from her husband's line.

We chatted about our scanning projects (of course), our scanners, parenting (teens and toddlers!), our mothers-in-law, the weather, our 80s hair days, homeschooling, our favorite music genres, and Broadway musicals (love 'em or hate 'em?). You sure get to know other genea-bloggers better during Scanfest, although you don't have to have a blog to participate. We sure enjoyed ourselves, and hope you will join us for the next one, scheduled for Sunday, February 24th, from 11 AM - 2 PM, Pacific Time.

New Prompt (Week Twenty-Nine) Available at AnceStories2

Continuing in the vein from last week, Week Twenty-Nine's topic is "Family Life." I wrote most of the prompts early this--I mean, yesterday--morning, but with Scanfest and all we were trying to do at home to make sure we could survive all the snowstorms we've been having, I didn't post it until now.

FYI, Spokane has just about shut down. Spokane International Airport was closed all afternoon after a landing jet skidded off the runway (no injuries, thankfully). Jay Leno's show at the casino was canceled after the pilots for his private jet decided it was too risky to travel to this area, much less land at the air field. The school district will be closed on Monday for the first time since Ice Storm 1996 and for what is probably only the second time in the last 20-something years. We received about six inches of snow Saturday/Sunday night on top of the several inches of compacted snow and ice leftover from the 14 December and numerous January (I lost count) storms we've had this season. It snowed for most of the day AND it's supposed to snow every day for the next eight days. The county and city have 115 snow removal vehicles working 24/7 to keep the arterials, routes to the hospitals (mostly located on steep hills, of all places!), and bus routes open. About 9400 people were without power in outlying areas. Residential areas have about eight inches of snow-turned-slush-turned-ice on the streets. We ourselves got high centered in our alley/driveway attempting to leave to bring dinner to a sick friend. Fortunately our neighbors helped my husband dig my car out and then push it past the icy spots. My hubby spent four hours Saturday and eight hours Sunday shoveling snow and raking it off the roofs of our house and outbuildings.

Thankfully, the Internet has been working just fine, and I hope to post about the fun time we had at Scanfest in the morning.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Michigan Biographical Index

If you are researching Michigan ancestors, you may be interested in this site, Michigan Biographical Index. "This is a cumulative full-name index merging many Michigan publications and manuscripts," says the introduction. You search for an ancestor's name, and if found, you will be given information about the publication his (or her) biography is printed in. Some of these sources may be available online, for instance, at the Michigan County Histories site or on Michigan GenWeb or GenNet sites. You can Google the name of the publication; in fact, it may even be available at Google Book Search! Don't forget your local genealogical or historical society's library, or try InterLibrary Loan at your local public library to obtain a desired book. Many of these can also be purchased new or used at online bookstores.

Now go out and find your ancestors!

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Scanfest Reminder

Don't forget! Scanfest is tomorrow!

Do you use a Mac and have you been successful in downloading and using Microsoft Messenger for Mac recently? If so, please contact me. Apparently, there's been some problems, and a wannabe Scanfester has downloaded the program but cannot access it, getting an error code in the process. If you think you can be of help, please contact me (see my profile page for my e-mail address).

New Genealogy Blogs

I mentioned last Monday that several new genealogy blogs have been created recently, and mentioned Genealogy - Southeast Michigan on Friday. One of the new blogs is Lisa Alzo's Gen365, where she lists her daily genealogy tasks. Another is Salt Lake City Christmas Tours, promoting this annual event, and blogged by Leland Meitzler of Genealogy Blog; Donna Potter Phillips, who also contributes to Genealogy Blog and is my co-blogger at the Eastern Washington Genealogical Society blog; and Illya D'Addezio, of the Genealogy Today website and blog. Lastly, a fairly new genealogy blogger (since November) is at Nevada Genealogy.

Be sure to check these out!

Friday, January 25, 2008

Happy Birthday, Bobby Burns!

Like any person of Scots ancestry, the bagpipes are the music of heaven to me. When I was a teenager, I worked at a summer camp, where I met several new friends who attended a high school here in Spokane where the mascot is a Highlander. One of my new friends played the bagpipes and would practice them at camp. He taught me how to dance a few steps of the Highland Fling while he played...what fun! Now that I'm an adult, my children attend this same high school, and every public event, whether an all-school assembly or Parent Night, begins and ends with the Pipe and Drum Band marching into/out of the auditorium while playing Scotland the Brave with the Highland Dancers accompanying them. It sends chills up and down my spine every time I hear it!

Needless to say, I was thrilled when I came across the non-genealogy blog, Piping Girl. During this month of January, she's been blogging about the Burns Supper, traditionally held around this time of year as a commemoration of the January 25th birthday of Robert Burns, Scotland's famous poet. She also wrote about the Kirkin' of the Tartan, and I was interested in learning that Peter Marshall, U.S. Chaplain, revived this tradition in the United States. (He was also the husband of one of my favorite authors, Catherine Marshall, who wrote Christie among many other titles.)

If you are a Scots descendant, or merely interested in Gaelic traditions, you'll want to check out Piping Girl's blog. Perhaps you'll even be able to find a Burns Supper to attend in your community!

Local History and Genealogy Blogs I Read

Over at Family Matters, Denise Olsen has challenged us to list the local history, family, and genealogy blogs we read that help us in our research. The post I'm writing today has a double purpose: to respond to Denise, and to highlight a new blog that I've recently discovered and desire to share with you.

First of all, most of my current research begins in Michigan, as that is from where my parents hail and where my ancestors have lived for as few as three and as many as seven generations, depending on the ancestral line. Many of the first-generation Michigan ancestors came from New York. Many others also came directly from the Netherlands.

Here's a list of blogs that have been useful in my research in those locations.
  • *In Friese Pas - not a genealogy blog; but Grace walks all over the Province of Friesland on day trips with a friend, taking photographs and blogging about the quaint villages and their history. It's like taking a virtual trip to the homeland of my ancestors!
  • *New York Traveler is another blog that takes me to the sights my ancestors may have seen, and is fairly new to my Reader.
  • *News from Nancy, State Librarian of Michigan - knowing what is going on in the libraries in the state of Michigan is vital to any genealogy researcher whose roots lie in the Wolverine State.
  • *Trace Your Dutch Roots - not so long ago, I posted about the great series Henk is writing for those of us with Dutch roots.
  • *Upstate New York Genealogy Blog - this is the companion blog of the Upstate New York Genealogy website by Dick Hillenbrand, chock full of useful resources!
And now the "new kid on the block." I introduce you to Derek Davey, who just this month started his Genealogy - Southeast Michigan blog with a plethora of Michigan and U.S. history posts, research resources, and ideas for breaking down your brick walls. Derek, who also blogs at Genealogy - Northeast Ohio and Genealogy - Northwest Ohio, invites you to submit your brick walls to him. He'll make suggestions and post them each Saturday.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

"In Memory" Day Honors Those Who Died As a Result of the Vietnam War

All of us are familiar with The Wall, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C., which memorializes veterans of that war who were killed in combat situations. You may have visited The Wall in person or the traveling Wall which toured the country. Are aware that there are at least two places online where the names of those engraved on the monument can be searched (here and here)?

While presenting my Military Records lesson during my Intermediate Online Genealogy class Tuesday night, one of my students, a widow of a Vietnam veteran who died as a result of Agent Orange exposure, informed us of the In Memory program. Veterans such as her husband do not fit the Department of Defense criteria for inclusion on The Wall. However, an annual memorial event, In Memory Day, held on the third Monday of April, pays tribute to those men and women who sacrificed for their country. The latest inductees' names are read aloud, and certificates bearing their names are placed at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. These are later collected by the National Park Service and archived, and the names written in an In Memory Honor Roll book. A list of the 2007 Honorees is searchable online.

If you know an American hero that should be commemorated at the next In Memory Day, please read the information on this page.

Monday, January 21, 2008

What I Missed from GeneaBlogger Land

Sheesh! Things move along quite quickly in GeneaBlogger Land! Last week when my Internet was out, I took my laptop to the local public library after work every day to check my e-mail, pay online bills, prepare my syllabuses for online classes I'm teaching, and skim through my Google Reader at my favorite geneabloggers' posts. Since I only had an hour and a half each day to do all that, I didn't get to linger for long at any one blog. Saturday after teaching my computer class on to members of the Eastern Washington Genealogical Society, I just came home and "played," trying to catch up on some of the reading I've missed. If you've been busy or offline for a while as well, here's what happened in the last week (and the last month, during which I've been too busy to make comments):

  • *Chris Dunham returned after over three weeks' hiatus at The Genealogue, and is as funny as ever!
  • *Several new blogs have been created. I'll post more about these later this week.
  • *Jasia won a free genetic testing at Blaine Bettinger's The Genetic Genealogist! Congratulations! She's been blogging about it at Creative Gene.
  • *Speaking of returning bloggers, David of OakvilleBlackWalnut has been posting like fury since late December.
  • *Denise Olsen of Family Matters challenges us to post lists of local or family history blogs we use in our research. I'll be posting mine later this week.
  • *Joe Beine has posted more vital records links on his blog, Genealogy Roots Blog, here.
  • *The 40th Carnival of Genealogy has been posted! Topic: Living-relative connections.
  • *The Cabinet of Curiosities Carnival #3 has been posted!
(Takes deep breath.) Whew! We're busy writers! I think I've caught my readers up on everything!

New Genealogy-Related Websites

Interesting new (or new-to-me) websites I've discovered during the past week:

  • *South Dakota State Archives has started databases of Civil War veterans (both Union and Confederate) listed in Dakota Territory's special Veterans Census of 1885 (hat tip to Leland Meitzler of Genealogy Blog). Also at this archive website, I discovered the South Dakota Newspaper Vital Records Index, spanning 1781 - present. Joe! You need to add this one to your website!
  • *Southern California Genealogical Society's Virtual Surname Wall is now searchable. You can also add your own surnames.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

New Prompt Available at AnceStories2 (Week Twenty-Eight: Games and Puzzles)

I've just posted new prompts over at my other blog, Ancestories2: Stories of Me for My Descendants. This week's topic is Games and Puzzles.

Also, there are links to online responses to last week's prompt, Civil Rights and Diversity, posted here.

I hope you are leaving stories of yourself for your descendants!

James LeVoy Sorenson Passes

Leland Meitzler of Genealogy Blog reports that James LeVoy Sorenson, who established the Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation, has passed, stating that "he alone may have had more impact on genetic genealogy than everyone else involved."

French WW1 Veteran Passes

The BBC reports that France's oldest World War I veteran, Louis de Casenave, died in his sleep at home today in Brioude, central France. This leaves only one French veteran of the war remaining, and only a handful around the world. Last month, I posted about death of the oldest American WW1 veteran and how the last Canadian WW1 veteran lives here in Spokane. I heard from David DeJonge, a photographer from my ancestral home of Grand Rapids, Michigan, who is working with the Department of Veteran Affairs to assist in tracking down and documenting the last survivors of this war. You can see a number of videos on YouTube that highlight these last survivors and the compelling photos that David took. He has portraits of these veterans on his website as well. If you know of any World War I veterans--male or female--he urges you to contact him as soon as possible to ensure he has not missed documenting their story.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Scanfest is Coming!

The first Scanfest of 2008 will be held Sunday, January 27th from 11 AM to 2 PM, PDT. If your New Year's Resolution was to start making some headway in scanning those family photo albums, ancestral documents, or antique portraits, you'll want to save the date!

What is Scanfest? As Sally Jacobs, The Practical Archivist, has quipped, it's like a quilting bee for those wanting to preserve their family records, documents, and photographs. We all know how tedious scanning can be! Wouldn't it be fun to visit with other like-minded family historians while doing so? With the instant messaging technology of Windows Live Messenger, we do exactly that! We chat with each other about genealogy, preservation, sports, neighborhood news, recipes, and just about anything under the sun while we slowly reduce scanning "to do" lists.

If you are new to Scanfest and want to join, there are two steps you need to take. The first is you must have Windows Live Messenger installed on your computer (it's free). Here are the instructions:
To join us, you'll need a Hotmail or Gmail account, and Windows Live Messenger downloaded to your computer (Mac users go here to download Microsoft Messenger for Mac). Although WLM states that it is compatible with Yahoo! e-mail accounts, we have had difficulty adding Yahoo! users to our chat conversation. If you don't have a Hotmail or Gmail account, it's very easy (and free) to set one up. Just go to the links in the first sentence of this paragraph. Once you have gotten set up, send me an e-mail (found on this page) and I'll add you to our chat list. You'll receive an invitation message from me at my hotmail address, which will be sent to the e-mail account that you've set up for Messenger (Hotmail or Gmail), and will need to verify that I can add you as a contact.

The second thing you need to do to prepare for scanning is go to Sally's website here and sign up for her free e-mail newsletter. This will then allow you to download her helpful information called 8 Blunders People Make When They Scan Photographs...and How You Can Avoid Them All. Then you will know how to set your scanner correctly to enable you to scan your items without damaging the originals or compromising the digital images you create.

We always have such a good time, so I hope you will consider joining us!

I'm Back Online

The Internet is working once again at the Midkiff home. Seems a dying modem was at fault. Many thanks to David, my husband's nephew, for taking the time to check our computer to ensure that a corrupted file wasn't at the root of the problem. Also thanks goes to Jim, my husband's co-worker, who gave us his unused modem.

My wrist is slowly healing; it appears to be only a sprain, probably caused during some strength/resistance exercises we were demonstrating for our special-needs students during adaptive P.E. about a week ago, and exacerbated by the amount of keyboarding I've been doing lately. Wearing a wrap has provided stability, comfort and support. Thank you to all who sent kind words my way.

Speaking of best wishes, the footnoteMaven sure could use yours. She's not been well, and I'm certain that she would appreciate cheery comments on her post or a friendly e-mail sent her way (find her e-mail address in the link at the bottom of her blog page). Get well soon, Maven, and take it easy! We miss you!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Looks Like More Light Blogging Ahead

Ah, Life! Just when things are coming along smoothly, that ol' Irishman Murphy has to set his law in motion.

It appears that there will be more light blogging ahead. If you've been reading my blog since the new year, you'll notice there are only about four posts of substance; the rest are links to great posts written by other bloggers or to online articles. This is because life has been very busy the last few weeks: back to work business, birthday celebrations, a mini-family reunion last Sunday, and preparation for a couple of classes I'm teaching.

Now the monkey wrenches: my Internet service is not working at home, my desktop appears to have a virus or corrupted file, and I've either lightly sprained my right wrist or have touch of arthritis or carpal tunnel syndrome (take your hurts no matter what). Thank goodness for my laptop and free Internet service at my public library! But yes, I do have two upcoming online classes, upon which I'm trying to put the finishing touches.

While I'd love to blog more, what time and use of my hand I do have needs to go toward my classes right now. I'll let you know when things are back to rights. I already had an appointment with my physician planned for Thursday morning, so I'll add my wrist to the list of items I want her to check out! Meanwhile, I appreciate your patience with my publishing your comments on my blog or answering any e-mails you may send (my workplace prevents me from accessing any personal e-mail accounts or my Blogger account).

Every Eleven Miles

On New Year's Day, Terry Thornton of Hill Country of Monroe County, Mississippi wrote a post entitled "Walksheds in the Hill Country." It's a fascinating look at the past when, in the old days before we became a country of automobile owners, general stores and/or grist mills were situated about three miles apart, so that everyone could live within a comfortable walking distance to and from a place where they could do their business and trade. At once I was reminded of a conversation I had had with my father-in-law some time back where he was telling me how railroad stations, and particularly manned water towers, were located eleven miles apart. I couldn't remember the details, so I asked to talk to him after my husband called to wish his parents a Happy New Year. What I received what a great little history lesson about days gone by and an enjoyable conversation as well.

My father-in-law, Troy MIDKIFF, was the son of John Franklin MIDKIFF, Jr., who was a Northern Pacific Railroad station master in Mabton, Yakima Co., Washington. Troy's maternal grandfather, George Rice WESTABY, III, worked for years for the Great Northern Railroad in both Montana and in Washington State. My father-in-law himself worked for the NP railroad as a telegraph boy. His father would receive the telegraph messages as part of his duties as a station master, and Troy would deliver them. During World War II, the death notices for soldier's families would always have a black mark on the envelopes, and my father-in-law delivered his share of them. He knew enough to ask for payment before he handed over the envelope, knowing the shock would drive out all other thoughts from the recipient's mind. As you can imagine, often being the bearer of bad news, he was not always the most welcome visitor to people's homes, since for many of them, the only telegrams they ever received were unhappy ones.

From left to right, Norman (the elder) and Troy Midkiff,
with their father, John F. Midkiff, Jr.
at the Northern Pacific Railroad station in
Mabton, Washington, c. 1942.

Troy told me that steam engines needed good clean water for their steam; otherwise, the minerals and impurities in the water would corrode the interior of the engine. Despite what you might see in old western movies, they couldn't just stop and draw water out of a river or creek unless the steam engine was fitted with a specialized filtering system, which was very unusual. A steam engine could go about eleven miles on level land before it would run out of water to produce steam. So railroad stations or manned water towers would be situated about every eleven miles along a railroad route, and even closer on steep grades.

Troy told me how there were stations at Toppenish and Mabton (where he and his parents and siblings lived just 100 yards off of the Yakima Indian Reservation), located 22 miles apart, with a manned water tower at Satus halfway in between. There was another station at Prosser, 11 miles east of Mabton, and then a station at Whitstran, another 11 miles east and somewhat north of Prosser. You can look at online maps of Washington State for Highway 22 and the Old Inland Empire Highway, which follow the Yakima River, to find these locations.

Along the Columbia River, on both the Washington and Oregon sides, as one traveled east from Vancouver or Portland, the situation was the same: railroad stations or manned water towers every eleven miles. However, as one approached the Columbia River Gorge, where the railroad tracks had to climb along the steep sides of the river, the stations were situated closer together, since the steam engines used more steam to power their climbs up the steep grades. For example, somewhere west of Biggs Junction, Oregon on the Columbia River, there was a station, possibly near Celilo, where the railroad traveled southeast along the steep rocky hills along the DeChutes River. From that station to Wasco, the line was less than eleven miles long. Looking at current online maps, it appears that the railroad no longer comes this way, but was probably along what is now either Highway 206 or Interstate 97.

I found this bit of history simply fascinating, and it made me stop and think about how travel was for my ancestors who rode trains cross country, either to migrate to a new location or to travel to visit relatives. Those trips sure must have been long when you had to make a stop every eleven miles! It has also made me more interested in researching the background of my husband's and my own ancestors who worked for various railroads around the country. Searching for "northern pacific railroad" maps on Google gave me some fascinating results as well. Thank you, Terry, for the great reminder!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

New Prompt (Week Twenty-Seven) Available at AnceStories2

"Civil Rights and Diversity" is the topic for Week Twenty-Seven over at my blog of journal prompts, AnceStories2: Stories of Me for My Descendants. These are issues that many of us often don't want to think, much less write, about. I've often wondered what my ancestors thought about things such as giving women the right to vote, or how they interacted (or didn't) with people of other races, ethnicities, religions, abilities, sexual orientations or social classes. I grew up as one of a handful of Caucasian children in a Native Alaskan community until I was twelve years old, very aware of the racial and cultural difference between my own family and others in the community, yet feeling comfortable in that society. The transition to a mostly-white, very social-class-conscious community in Northeast Washington was very difficult for me, especially since it happened during my early teenage years, already a time of social anxiety and angst! I now am grateful, however, for the very different childhood that I had.

There were many positive responses to last week's topic "Winter," and I've created a post where I've linked to those who responded to the prompts on their blogs. I plan to do this for all future prompts. If I've forgotten anyone, please let me know. I do know that Terry Thornton of Hill Country of Monroe County, Mississippi will be posting his response this coming Tuesday.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

The Birth Certificate of Ruth Lillian HOEKSTRA

The image below is a photocopy of the birth certificate of my maternal grandmother, Ruth Lillian (HOEKSTRA) VALK DeVRIES, and comes from the DeVries-Hoekstra Collection:

Birth Certificate of Ruth Lillian Hoekstra, 1919

SOURCE: Michigan. Kent County. County Clerk's Office, Grand Rapids. Ruth Lillian Hoekstra birth certificate.

Certificate as to Birth

County of Kent }

I, LEWIS J. DONOVAN, Clerk of the Circuit Court for the said County of Kent, do hereby certify that upon careful examination of the original records on file in the office of the Clerk of said County and Court, I find the following record as to the birth of Ruth Lillian Hoekstra
Date of Birth January 16, 1919
Sex Female; Color White; Legitimate
Birthplace East Grand Rapids


Name of Father John Martin Hoekstra Residence Grand Rapids
Name of Mother Lillian Fern Strong Residence Grand Rapids
Birthplace of Father Michigan Occupation Plater
Birthplace of Mother Michigan

All of which appears as of record dated 5/7/19 and the same being the whole of such original record of said birth as
Recorded in Liber 21 of RECORD OF BIRTH on page 382

IN TESTIMONY WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand and official seal, at the City of Grand Rapids, in said County, this 4th day of February A. D. 1943

Paul Smits [signed] Deputy

This birth certificate brought me a bit of a surprise, as I had never heard that Grandma had been born in East Grand Rapids, but instead in Grand Rapids, proper. Was East Grand Rapids a simple adjective for part of the city of Grand Rapids, or was it a separate community altogether? I searched Wikipedia and discovered that it is indeed a separate community, established as a village in 1891 and incorporated as a city in 1926. I knew from scanning Grandma's baby book that she had been born in Blodgett Hospital, but the picture postcard affixed within her baby book was merely labeled "Blodgett Memorial Hospital, Grand Rapids, Michigan." I then did a search for Blodgett and discovered this transcription of A Citizen's History of Grand Rapids, Michigan compiled and edited by William J. Etten and published in 1926 by the A. P. Johnson Company (location unknown) on the Kent County, Michigan GenWeb website. This resource told me that construction on the building began in 1914 in East Grand Rapids, verifying that Grandma's birthplace was in that community. The hospital would have been a fairly new building and probably had all the latest medical technology and conveniences. Transcripts of newspaper articles from the Grand Rapids Evening Press announcing the new hospital can be found here.

SOURCE: Ruth Lillian Hoekstra Baby Book. Privately held by Faith Valk Robbins, Colville, Washington. 2008.

So these resources together confirm that my grandmother was born at Blodgett Memorial Hospital in the Village of East Grand Rapids (now the City of East Grand Rapids), Kent County, Michigan. It was fun to discover the location on Google Earth at Latitude 42.9534° and Longitude -85.6236°. I can even see the original brick building surrounded on the south and east by more modern structures!

Other information that was interesting to me on this certificate was that my great-grandfather was listed as a "plater." My grandmother had once mentioned that her father had been a plater in a printing plant, but I wasn't too sure what that occupation entailed. After doing a little hunting, I found some information by the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics on Prepress Technicians, which I believe is probably the modern version of the occupation my great-grandfather held: preparing plates of images (photographs, drawings) for printing. He may have learned this trade while a young man, as he writes in the Family Record book he and his wife kept:

[I] went to various schools and graduated from eighth grade in 1908, then started to work in a print shop for $3.00 per week. I was errand boy, swept out the shop, and learned to feed press in my spare time. However I did not stay at the print shop, as the propietor [sic] went bankrupt, I worked at a lot of various jobs. At 24, married Lillian Ferne Strong, who I got acquainted with, while working as a grocery clerk and delivery man.

Birth certificates at that time and place were not created and made available to parents at the time of their children's births, as they are now. The births were recorded in large books, called libers, in the county clerk's office. This particular document is a certified copy of the record that appears in the birth liber; in other words, the deputy clerk carefully copied the information from the birth liber onto certificate paper, then sealed and signed the document attesting to its accurate reproduction. Looking at the date that this certificate was acquired (4 Feb 1943), it appears that my grandmother may have obtained it either as preparation for marrying my grandfather on September 11th of that year, or perhaps to prove citizenship during World War II for job purposes, as I recall she said she worked at a plant that made airplane parts during the war.

My grandmother was the first of three daughters of John and Lillian; all are now deceased. She lived her whole life in Grand Rapids, passing away there on 29 August 2001. Her AnceStory (biography) and some photographs can be found on my website.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Online Dutch Genealogy Resources

Henk van Kampen over at Trace Your Dutch Roots is starting a new series of posts on online Dutch genealogy resources. Although for years I've been using many of the websites that Henk will probably be featuring, I am looking forward to his series immensely. Having the perspective of being a native Nederlander, he has insight to resources that might otherwise be missed by those of us descended from Dutch immigrants. Every time he posts something new on his blog, I learn a little more. I'm sure he'll also feature sites and resources I have never heard of before. If you have Dutch roots, you won't want to miss a single article!

Dog Walking Allowed at Holland, Michigan Cemeteries

The Holland City Council in Ottawa Co., Michigan recently dismissed a proposal to ban dog walking in two city cemeteries, Graafschap and Pilgrim Home, reports an article in the Grand Rapids Press. This one caught my eye, as some of my Hoekstra family members are buried at Pilgrim Home. I can't say I agree with the city council on this one.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

My Little Son Shine

Happy Birthday, Son!

SOURCE: Various photos of Matthew Midkiff's birthday celebrations; Spokane, Washington. Photographed by Norman J. Midkiff and Miriam Robbins Midkiff, 1994 - 2008. Music video created at accessed 8 January 2008.

Miriam's Lyrics for Matthew
You are my son shine,
My little son shine,
You make me happy,
When skies are gray (like they are today),
You'll always know, dear,
How much I love you,
'Cause I'll tell you ev'ryday.

I always sang this to Matt early in the morning when he was a baby, toddler, and little boy. Unlike the rest of the family, he was an early riser, and I would sit and cuddle him while trying to wake up with a cup of coffee. My mom used to sing the original lyrics to me, and her dad used to sing them to her, so I suppose this tune is now a family tradition. I didn't like how the original lyrics (credited to Jimmie Davis, Charles Mitchell, and perhaps Paul Rice) say "you'll never know how much I love you," so I changed them to make them personal.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Where Was Your Family in 1908

Lisa, of numerous genealogy blogs, has offered a challenge on her 100 Years in America blog to the genea-blogging community to write a post about where one's family was one hundred years ago. I took a look at my RootsMagic database and saw that seven of my eight great-grandparents had already been born, all 16 of my great-great-grandparents were alive, 15 of my 32 third-great-grandparents and one of my 64 fourth-great-grandparents were known to be living. That is, there may be more 3rd- or 4th-great-grandparents who were alive at that time, but I haven't found their death dates, and I'm also doubtful that they were alive then.

In my children's father's family, he had both grandparents and all eight of his great-grandparents living in 1908. Twelve of his 16 great-great-grandparents were still alive. Three of his 32 third-great-grandparents were known to be living, with the possibility of two or three more (again, I'm missing death dates for some in this generation).

Rather than bore you to tears about where each and everyone of them were that year, I will tell you about two significant family events that occurred in 1908 in my family trees (I haven't found any in my children's father's family). But first, to put it in perspective, in 1908 the main headline was that William H. Taft and James S. Sherman were elected president and vice president. Wilbur Wright delivered a flying machine to the War Department, less than five years after he and his brother Orville successfully flew an airplane. New York City prohibited smoking in public by women. The NAACP was founded. In health news, the Red Cross issued their first Christmas seals, and disposable plastic cups were introduced. The electric iron and toaster were patented. The U.S. began construction of the Panama Canal, often called the "Big Ditch." Henry Ford introduced the Model T.

In business, the Du Pont Company began production of plastics (hmm...maybe that's where those disposable cups came from!) and William Durant founded the General Motors Company. If you read the latest novels in 1908, you would have been sure to pick up The Last of the Plainsman by Zane Grey and Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maude Montgomery. The Christian Science Monitor began publication, and the Ashcan School of painters exhibited in New York City. Your favorite music probably would have been "Shine On, Harvest Moon," "Cuddle Up a Little Closer," or "Take Me Out to the Ball Game," all written that year. Isadora Duncan set new standards in dance with her original performances and the National Board of Censorship formed to police the film industry.

Ladies, you would have dressed in sheath gowns and fish-net stockings and worn boned collars to be in the latest style. Sports fans would have cheered the Chicago Cubs to victory over the Detroit Tigers in the World Series. Figure skating became a new sport after arriving from Europe. George Schuster won the New York-to-Paris motorcar race (how does that work?), and Jack Johnson became the first African-American heavyweight boxing champion. If you lived in San Francisco, you would have enjoyed "Mutt and Jeff" comics for the first time in the Examiner. And the steerage rate from Genoa, Italy to New York City was $12.00.

All these facts were taken from the 1908 pages of the Family History Logbook: A Timeline Journal from 1900 to 2000, with year-by-year historical milestones to record your family's most important experiences by Reinhard Klein, published 1996 by Betterway Books (now F+W Publications). My sister-in-law bought this for me for a Christmas or birthday gift about five years ago. On the 1908 pages, I logged the following:

Archie Louis KELLER is born February 3rd. He is the future second husband of Mary Jane BARBER, Miriam's paternal great-grandmother.

John W. LEWIS, Sr., Miriam's paternal ancestor, dies February 13th in the village of Whitehall, Muskegon County at the age of 68. A Civil War Veteran, he is buried at Oakhurst Cemetery, Whitehall Township.

There were not a lot of main events that happened to our direct ancestors that year. Other years have more events recorded.

If you like putting your family into historical context, I recommend reading "The Year Was..." feature at Ancestry's 24-7 Family History Circle blog. Since my Family History Logbook covers the twentieth century in depth, I have been copying and pasting the entries from the nineteenth century into Word documents and keeping them in a folder on my computer for reference.

New Prompt Available at AnceStories2 (Week Twenty-Six: Winter)

For the first time since early October, I've posted a new prompt over at one of my other blogs, AnceStories2: Stories of Me for My Descendants. Week Twenty-Six's focus is on Winter. I invite and encourage you to write down something--anything--for your children and grandchildren, or nieces and nephews about your memories of childhood winters. Add to it any stories you heard from your parents and grandparents about their winters.

Privacy, Open Access to Records, and Politics

Janice Brown of Cow Hampshire has an interesting, thought-provoking post entitled "New Hampshire's Presidential Privacy" in which she addresses some issues that ought to be genealogists' main concern as they consider the presidential candidates: open access to records vs. the right to privacy. What she says I can't agree with more. While I can understand the thinking behind limiting access to records of living people, would someone please explain to me how restricting access to my great-grandmother's birth certificate of 1896 will somehow prevent either terrorism or identity theft?

Saturday, January 05, 2008

39th Carnival of Genealogy is Posted

For those few of my readers who are not also subscribers to Jasia's Creative Gene, she posted the 39th Edition of the Carnival of Genealogy there yesterday. The topic was "New Year's Resolutions," and as always, there are some fabulous and interesting posts written by 21 bloggers, including some first-time COGgers (my own submission can be found here)! One post I especially enjoyed was "Resolutions" by Colleen of The Oracle of OMcHodoy. To help her with her goal of getting back to the basics, she developed a research goal sheet. I'm going to have to leave a comment on her post and ask if she'll e-mail me a copy of it. I have a thing for charts and forms!

Jasia tells us "the topic for the next edition of the Carnival of Genealogy will be: Living-relative connections made during your research processes and/or blog. Who found you or how did you find them? Were they helpful or did they send you on a wild goose chase for further information? How much and what kind of information did they share with you? What did you share with them? What kinds of contacts have you had... in person, via phone, online chat, email, snail mail, web casts? (If you're not comfortable using their real names you might want to consider using pseudonyms.)" The deadline for submissions is January 15th, and they can be submitted here.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Community Cookbooks Reflect Our Ancestors' Lives

Here's a link to an interesting article I read in yesterday's paper about how community cookbooks can be a reflection of our ancestors' lives (click on the first link on the results page). At the bottom of the article is a descriptive list of available local cookbooks, as well as recipes. To read the story in its entirety without having to subscribe, click on the "printer friendly" link at the top of the article.

Back to Work; Light Blogging

I went back to work yesterday to my job of assisting and teaching in a special-needs classroom at one of the local middle schools, and between that and my responsibilities of parenting two teens who are also back to school, blogging may be light for a bit. What computer time I do have I've been using to record and cite data to my family tree databases and to prepare for several online genealogy classes I'm teaching later this month.

In addition, my son's birthday is next week, and we have a mini Robbins family reunion coming up because one of my dad's sisters is visiting from out of state.

There's no lack of things about which I'd like to be blogging right now, but there are only so many hours in the day! Meantime, I recommend visiting the many terrific blogs listed in the right-hand column of this blog, below the list of categories.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

2nd Carnival of Irish Heritage and Culture is Posted

The second Carnival of Irish Heritage and Culture has been posted by Lisa at Small-leaved Shamrock, entitled "They Say There's a Pot of Gold at the End of Every Rainbow." With the emphasis being on Irish research, there's a wealth of resources, from books to online data to DNA, that have been blogged about in thirteen posts by eleven writers. If you have Irish--or Scots Irish--ancestry, you won't want to miss this. One of the posts has even been written by someone with no known Irish ancestry!

My own post for this carnival is Resources for Irish Genealogical Research from a Beginner's Perspective. The next carnival's topic is Irish Places:

If you know it, tell us about the county, city or village in Ireland where your family originated. If not, tell us about a place that figured prominently in an Irish history book that you enjoyed, or a place that you visited (or hope to visit) that is steeped in Irish history. The Irish place that you describe need not be in Ireland itself. Your entry can include a place where the Irish settled once they emigrated, or a place that has seen Irish culture grow within its boundaries.

The submission date is January 29th, and the third carnival will be posted on February 1st, St. Brigid's Day. You can enter your post here.