Thursday, April 30, 2009

Happy May!

The Calendar of Events for May 2009 will appear later today. Thank you for your patience.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

April 2009 Scanfest

After 77 Years, Western (Washington) State Hospital's Patients' Graves Get Markers

From the Tacoma News Tribune via the Spokesman-Review (Spokane):

STEILACOOM, Wash. – For 77 years, patients who died at Western State Hospital were buried in graves marked only by numbers stamped in bricks of cement.

It wasn’t about money. It was about shame.

And it was about the law.

The state sought to protect families from the stigma of their relatives’ mental illness by barring state psychiatric hospitals from putting names on the graves.

Read here to discover how the Grave Concerns Association is rectifying this issue.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Man Reunites with Family 31 Years After Discovering He was Adopted

From the Milwaukee Wisconsin Journal Sentinel:

Seventy-three years ago - as the Great Depression dragged on - a migrant farm worker struggling to raise four children after the death of his wife made a momentous, life-changing family decision.

He felt he couldn't care for 10-month-old Simon along with the other three children, so he gave the boy up for adoption.

Raised in the Rio Grande valley of Texas as an only child, Simon Martinez was going through old family trunks in 1978 after his parents died when he found a box with a handwritten note inside. It was from his birth father, describing the agonizing decision he had made.

Read more of the story, including details of how Martinez's adoptive cousin used genealogical research to find his birth family, here.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

FamilySearch News: Volunteers Transcribe 250 Million Historical Records

Incredible Effort Speeds Up Access to Online Genealogical Information

SALT LAKE CITY—FamilySearch volunteers reached a monumental milestone this week, transcribing their 250 millionth historical record. The incredible online initiative started in January 2006 with a few thousand volunteers and has now grown to be the largest Web-based initiative of its kind with over 100,000 volunteers worldwide. The 250 millionth record was part of the current Nicaragua Civil Registration indexing project online at—one of 45 projects being indexed by online volunteers. It was extracted by three different online indexers from Nicaragua, Guatemala, and Honduras.

FamilySearch manages the largest collection of genealogical collections in the world—2.5 million rolls of microfilm and millions of additional digital images from over 100 countries worldwide.

For decades, FamilySearch has allowed the public to use its collection for free through 4,500 family history centers throughout the world. In 2005, it began to improve access to its collection by converting microfilm to digital images that could be searched online. The next step was to create an online tool that volunteers around the world could use to look at the digital images and extract relevant data that could then be published online in searchable indexes linked to the digital images. FamilySearch Indexing is that tool.

“What makes the 250 million record milestone even more impressive is the fact that each record was actually indexed at least twice to ensure accuracy,” reported Paul Nauta, FamilySearch public affairs manager. “The result is an amazing searchable online index for people around the world,” Nauta added.

The unique quality control process means each document is transcribed by two different indexers. In the case of the 250 millionth record, the two indexers were from Nicaragua and Guatemala. Any discrepancies in their two transcriptions were then forwarded to a third volunteer—an arbitrator—who would have made any needed corrections between the two transcriptions. In this case, that arbitrator was from Honduras. “Three volunteers, three countries, one common goal—to provide access to the world’s genealogical records quicker and more economically,” said Nauta.

In 2006, FamilySearch volunteers indexed a total of 11 million records. “Today, thanks to the growth in our volunteer numbers, FamilySearch volunteers are now transcribing about a million names per day. At that rate, we expect to hit the 500 million milestone much quicker than the 250 million marker,” added Nauta.

Today, tens of thousands of volunteers, young and old, log on to 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, from all over the world to help with the ongoing goal to transcribe the world’s genealogical records. Some donate a few minutes a month, others hours a day. Some do it as a sort of “pay it forward” activity because they have personally benefited in their family history research by using FamilySearch’s collections over the years. Others help because they like the idea that just a little bit of donated time can help preserve historic information and make it more available for public access.

Completed indexes are ultimately made available online for public access through or through one of FamilySearch’s family history centers.

FamilySearch, at any given time, has over 35 online indexing projects underway—many of them international projects. “Volunteers usually have a preference for one type of indexing project over another,” said Paul Starkey, FamilySearch Indexing project manager. “For example, if you have ancestors from Spain, you might be very motivated to help index the Spain Catholic Church records because it could facilitate your personal research once the completed indexes are published online.”

Anyone interested in volunteering or seeing what projects are being indexed can do so at

FamilySearch International is the largest genealogy organization in the world. Millions of people use FamilySearch records, resources, and services to learn more about their family history. To help in this great pursuit, FamilySearch has been actively gathering, preserving, and sharing genealogical records worldwide for over 100 years. FamilySearch is a nonprofit organization sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Patrons may access FamilySearch services and resources free online at or through over 4,500 family history centers in 70 countries, including the main Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah.

FamilySearch News: Popular British Jewish Database Grows to 40,000 Records

SALT LAKE CITY—FamilySearch expanded its Knowles Collection—a free popular database of Jewish records hailing from the British Isles. The collection builds upon work commenced by the late Isobel Mordy—a well-known historian of the Jews of the British Isles.

Mordy was a retired mathematician and used a complex code to link Jewish United Kingdom families in her research. Her work yielded 8,000 names and has been very popular for Jewish family history researchers with British ancestry.

“The complexity of the code Mordy used to index her research is daunting even to the most experienced researcher,” said Todd Knowles, author and manager of the Knowles Collection and a British Reference consultant for the famous Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah. It took Knowles a few years, but he ultimately managed to transcribe the records from Mordy’s work into a more easily searchable genealogy database.

The great advantage of the Knowles Collection is that it links together electronically tens of thousands of individual Jews into family groups. Knowles has since expanded Mordy’s collection of 8,000 names to a collection of over 40,000.

“The records come from over 100 individual sources,” noted Knowles. “That saves the researcher a lot of time and travel.”

Some of the record sources were actively maintained until the mid 1980s, so many people living today will be able to find their relatives from recent memory in the collection. The newly added names come from many types of records—censuses; probate records; synagogue birth, marriage, and death records; biographies; and more.

Perhaps the most interesting records added recently include over 200 Jewish Welsh marriages from a community in the city of Cardiff, original synagogue records, and patron-submitted records. Some of the families tie into the work of Malcolm Stern’s The First American Jewish Families, which includes families who had English ancestry.

The collection can be accessed at on the Jewish Family History Resources page. It is available to download for free as either a GEDCOM or PAF file. Individuals can add their own records to the collection by contacting the collection’s author, Todd Knowles, directly at

FamilySearch manages the largest collection of genealogical records worldwide. A significant portion of its collections come from the United Kingdom.

FamilySearch International is the largest genealogy organization in the world. Millions of people use FamilySearch records, resources, and services to learn more about their family history. To help in this great pursuit, FamilySearch has been actively gathering, preserving, and sharing genealogical records worldwide for over 100 years. FamilySearch is a nonprofit organization sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Patrons may access FamilySearch services and resources free online at or through over 4,500 family history centers in 70 countries, including the main Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Dr. Tukufu Zuberi Guest on Episode 63 of Genealogy Gems Podcast

This is one of several press releases I've received in the past week or so. My apologies: I've been remiss on posting them in a timely manner.

Dr. Tukufu Zuberi is heading in to his seventh season with the hit PBS television show History Detectives. And through the years, many stories he has investigated have stood out to him. But when asked for a favorite, one in particular came immediately to mind.

"It was a story about Sam - the first black ventriloquist dummy to appear on Broadway. It led me to do the genealogy of this dummy. Where did it come from? Was it related to Charley McCarthy?"

Zuberi laughs at the thought, and yet it was a fascinating adventure to track Sam down to a shelf in the kitchen of the daughter of the man who had operated him on the vaudeville stage at the turn of the century.

But of course in addition to Sam's genealogy, Zuberi has much to say about the journey we are all on to discover our own family history.

Listen to episode 63 of The Genealogy Gems Podcast to hear host Lisa Louise Cooke chat with Zuberi and learn more about how you can hear Tukufu speak in person at the Southern California Genealogical Jamboree at the Friday night banquet on June 26, 2009. (EPISODE LINK:

FamilySearch Indexing Update: New York State Census, Belgian, and Argentina Projects Added

This is one of several press releases I've received in the past week or so. My apologies: I've been remiss on posting them in a timely manner.

There are many new, upcoming, and completed indexing projects to report in this update. There are 12 new projects (see Current Projects chart below). These include three Belgian and two Argentina projects. The New York 1892 State Census project will be of great interest to many people. FamilySearch could not do all of these great initiatives without the great time and effort contributed by so many terrific volunteers. Thank you for your continued support.

Current FamilySearch Indexing Projects, Record Language, and Percent Completion:

* Argentina, Buenos Aires 1855 Census Spanish (New)
* Argentina Censo 1869–Catamarca y La Rioja Spanish (New)
* Argentina Censo 1869–Corrientes y Entre Rios Spanish 44%
* Arkansas County Marriages V English 20%
* Australia NSW Newspaper Cuttings English 88%
* Belgium–Antwerp Foreigners Index Dutch, Flemish 27%
* Brandenburg Kirchenbücher German 49%
* España, Lugo–Registros Parroquiales [Part 1] Spanish 16%
* España, Ávila–Registros Parroquiales Spanish 78%
* France, Coutances, Paroisses de la Manche French 9%
* Germany, St Petersburg Church Records 1833-1885 German 1%
* Illinois, Cook County Birth Registers English (New)
* Italy, Trento Baptism Records, 1784-1924 Italian 60%
* Mexico Censo de 1930–Sinaloa Spanish (New)
* Mexico Censo de 1930–Sonora Spanish 88%
* Mexico Censo de 1930–Tabasco Spanish 70%
* Mexico Censo de 1930–Tamaulipas Spanish (New)
* Minnesota 1895 State Census English 74%
* Missouri–1920 US Federal Census English (New)
* Nevada–1920 US Federal Census English 89%
* New Mexico–1920 US Federal Census English 75%
* New York 1892 State Census English (New)
* Nicaragua, Managua Civil Records Spanish 13%
* Norway 1875 Census part 1 Norwegian 10%
* Perú, Lima–Registros Civiles Spanish 10%
* Rhode Island 1925 State Census English (New)
* UK, Cheshire–Land Tax English 58%
* UK, Cheshire–School Records English 44%
* Ukraine Kyiv 1840-1842 Russian 10%
* Venezuela Mérida Registros Parroquiales Spanish 1%

Current FamilySearch Partner Projects:

* Arkansas Marriages IV English (New)
* Australia–Victoria Probate Records English 31%
* Belgique–Registres des Décès - Charleroi 1851-1900 Dutch, Flemish (New)
* Belgique–Registres Des Décès (Français) French 21%
* België–Overlijdens Registers–In het Nederlands Dutch, Flemish 74%
* België–Overlijdens Registers–Kalmthout 1851-1900 Dutch, Flemish (New)
* België–Overlijdens Registers–Mechelen 1851-1900 Dutch, Flemish (New)
* Bremer, Schifflisten German 42%
* Flanders Death Registration French, Dutch, Flemish 76%
* Indiana Marriages, 1882 to Apr 1905 English 82%
* Indiana Marriage Returns, 1882 to April 1905 English 31%
* Nova Scotia, Antigonish Church Records English 72%
* Ohio Tax Records–2 of 4 English 71%
* Vermont Militia Records English 37%

Upcoming Indexing Projects:

* Arkansas Marriages VI
* Arkansas Marriages VII
* Australia, Bounty Immigrants, 1824-1842
* Australia, Greenwich, Genealogical Records
* Austria, Vienna Population Cards
* Brazil, Pernambuco Civil Register 1900-1920
* Brazil, Rio de Janeiro Marriages 1900-10
* Canada, British Columbia Birth 1854-1903
* Canada, British Columbia Marriages
* Chicago Archdiocese Cemetery Records 1 (1864-1989)
* Czech, Litomerice Church Records - Part 1 1552-1905
* Freedmen Marriages
* Germany, Baden Church Books 1810-1869
* Germany, Mecklenburg 1890 Census
* Illinois, Cook County Birth Certificates 1
* Indiana, Allen County Marriages 1811-1959
* Jamaica, Trelawny Births
* Peru, Lima Civil Register Index 1910-1930

Recently Completed Projects:

* Argentina 1869 Census–Cordoba y San Luis
* Arkansas Marriages III
* Michigan–1920 US Federal Census
* Nayarit–Censo de Mexico de 1930
* New Brunswick 1871 Census
* New Hampshire–1920 US Federal Census
* New Jersey–1920 US Federal Census
* Nova Scotia–1871 Census
* Ontario–1861 Census
* Rhode Island 1915 State Census
* UK – Cheshire Parish Registers part 1

FamilySearch International is the largest genealogy organization in the world. Millions of people use FamilySearch records, resources, and services to learn more about their family history. To help in this great pursuit, FamilySearch has been actively gathering, preserving, and sharing genealogical records worldwide for over 100 years. FamilySearch is a nonprofit organization sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Patrons may access FamilySearch services and resources free online at or through over 4,500 family history centers in 70 countries, including the main Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah.

FamilySearch Record Search Update 7 April 2009

This is one of several press releases I've received in the past week or so. My apologies: I've been remiss on posting them in a timely manner.

FamilySearch added over 16 million new indexed records and almost 500,000 new digital images this week to its Record Search pilot (see chart below).

Seven new states were added to the 1920 U.S. Census index (Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, and Massachusetts). Four counties (Clay Crittendon, Desha, and Monroe) of Arkansas marriages have also been published and includes the indexes and the images. The Arkansas records date from 1837 to 1957. Many thanks to our good friends at the Arkansas Genealogical Society and other FamilySearch Indexing volunteers who help make these priceless collections more readily available online.

See the chart below for more details. The new records can be searched for free at (Click Search Records, then Record Search pilot).

Collection Name: 1920 US Census
Indexed Records: 15,860,466
Digital Images: ---
Comments: Updated-—7 new indexed states (Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, and Massachusetts)

Collection Name: Mexico, Chihuahua Church Records
Indexed Records: ---
Digital Images: 370,418
Comments: NEW

Collection Name: Arkansas Marriages
Indexed Records: 207,488
Digital Images: 116,337
Comments: NEW-—4 counties (Clay, Crittendon, Desha, and Monroe). Result of joint initiative with the Arkansas Genealogical Society.

FamilySearch International is the largest genealogy organization in the world. Millions of people use FamilySearch records, resources, and services to learn more about their family history. To help in this great pursuit, FamilySearch has been actively gathering, preserving, and sharing genealogical records worldwide for over 100 years. FamilySearch is a nonprofit organization sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Patrons may access FamilySearch services and resources free online at or through over 4,500 family history centers in 70 countries, including the main Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Book Release: Webmasters Guide to TNG 7.0

This is one of several press releases I've received in the past week or so. My apologies: I've been remiss on posting them in a timely manner.

John Pfost is pleased to announce the release of his new book the Webmaster’s Guide to TNG 7.0: From Novices to Experts. This book provides all of the information needed by genealogists to easily build and manage dynamic, database-driven family history Web sites using "The Next Generation in Genealogy Sitebuilding.” TNG - as it’s commonly known - is the world’s preeminent software for creating custom, feature-rich, expandable, secure, and collaborative family history Web sites.

Unlike conventional desktop genealogy programs that build Web sites by converting GEDCOM files to HTML Web pages and then uploading all of the pages to a Web server, TNG allows users to upload a single GEDCOM file to a database hosted on a server. Web pages are then rendered dynamically based on requests by site visitors. Using cutting-edge technologies, the data is easily packaged for fast and efficient display including individual pages, family pages, family trees, media galleries, specialty reports, and more. More importantly, when the data changes – such as when you locate additional family members or extend the knowledge about your families – you do not need to regenerate all of the Web pages from the GEDCOM file and then re-upload them. You or your designated site users can modify the data directly in the database.

TNG comes with a number of pre-built templates that can be applied as-is, or customized in countless ways. You can change the theme, colors, layout, graphics, menus – pretty much anything that you wish – to create a stunning presentation and unique user experience. Even without any modifications, you will not end up with a canned and stilted Web site typical of those produced by desktop genealogy programs. What’s more, you are provided access to all of the source files so that you can further customize and enhance TNG to suit your needs. You do not need to perform any computer programming to work with TNG, but rather can simply tweak some code to achieve any desired result.

Because of the vast capabilities of TNG, many users find it somewhat challenging especially early on. The Webmaster’s Guide provides step-by-step procedures to get you up to speed quickly and efficiently. You can easily have a TNG-based family history Web site up and running in a weekend. What’s more, you’ll learn how to extend TNG’s capabilities to achieve nearly any existing Internet functionality. You can, for example, integrate slideshows, Wikis, forums, blogs, guestbooks, or integrate TNG with common content management systems. And, this is all in addition to controlling and managing your data – your genealogy – in a secure, user-friendly environment.

John has posted a couple of white papers that introduce TNG:

** “Introducing The Next Generation of Genealogy Sitebuilding” - provides a brief history of genealogy Web sites, an overview and description of TNG, a listing of its notable features and functions, a discussion of the underlying technologies, and a description of the system and personal requirements to implement a TNG Web site.

** “Getting Started with The Next Generation of Genealogy Sitebuilding” - provides a detailed description of the products and services one would need to develop a dynamic TNG-based family history Web site. It describes the key components - TNG, the Webmaster’s Guide, a domain name, and Web services hosting provider - that are required, as well as the many additional resources that are available.

You can download these papers from the TNG-Resources site at by subscribing to the TNG-Resources newsletter and then accessing the Additional Resources page.

For additional information about the Webmaster’s Guide to TNG, visit or email For information about The Next Generation of Genealogy Sitebuilding, visit

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

April 2009 Scanfest Reminder

The April 2009 Scanfest will be held Sunday, April 26th, from 11 AM to 2 PM, Pacific Daylight Time. Scanfest is a time when family historians, family archivists, genealogists, and genea-bloggers gather to scan their precious family photos and documents while chatting with others about genealogy, preservation, and everything else under the sun! You can visit our March 2009 Scanfest to get an idea of what it's all about, here.

We will be using Cover It Live, a live blogging format that you access right here at AnceStories.

On Sunday at 11 AM, PST, come right to AnceStories and you'll see the CoverItLive live blog/forum in the top post. It's not really a "chat room," per se, it's more like a live forum and anyone visiting this site can read and see what is happening in the forum.

You will not need to download any software.

Up to 25 individuals can be invited to be Producers. Producers are participants who have the extra capability of sharing photos, links, and other media within the forum (great for sharing the photos you're scanning!). You must have Internet Explorer 6.0+ or Firefox 2.0+ to be a Producer.

We can also have up to 25 other Participants who can comment freely in our conversation, but will not be able to share media. You can have any kind of browser to be a Participant.

In addition, any other readers of this blog drop on by and view/read what is happening at Scanfest. If the 25 Participant spaces are full, those readers will not be able to comment, unless someone else drops out.

Confused? Have questions? Go to CoverItLive and check out 6. Try It Now to see live blogs in action or 7. Demos to see videos demonstrating how to use CIT (especially the ones titled "How do my readers watch my Live Blog?" and "Adding Panelists and Producers").

If you would like to be a Producer, please e-mail me no later than Saturday, February 21st at 4 PM, PST and I'll send you an invitation. Preference will given to previous Scanfesters. You must set up an account (free!) ahead of time to be a Producer. This account will be good for all future Scanfests. You can do some practices ahead of time by going to My Account and clicking on the link under Practice your live blogging. Again, you must have IE 6.0+ or Firefox 2.0+ to be a Panelist.

As a Producer, Participant or simply a reader, if you would like an e-mail reminder for Scanfest, fill out the form below and choose the time frame for which you would like to be reminded (if you're reading this through Google Reader, Bloglines, or some other RSS feed reader, you will need to go to my blog and view this post there to see and utilize the form).

It really is easier than it sounds, and I'm looking forward to seeing you all there and getting some scanning done!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

It's Carnival Time!

This week, two carnivals were posted. The 12th Edition of the "Smile for the Camera" Carnival was published April 15th at the Shades of the Departed Blog, with the theme being "A Noble Life." There were 20 submissions honoring the noble lives of ancestors, and the theme for the 13th edition will be "All Creatures Great and Small."

The 70th edition (70! Can you believe it!) of the Carnival of Genealogy was published this morning at Creative Gene. "Uncle, Uncle!" was the theme, and 33 posts were submitted. "Local History" will be the theme for the 71st edition.

Tim Abbott reports that the 18th edition of the Cabinet of Curiosities will be postponed indefinitely while he recovers from a case of pneumonia. We wish you a speedy recovery, Tim!

Remember, there are three more carnival deadlines coming up in the next week or so: the 18th Edition of the Carnival of Central and Eastern European Genealogy - Easter and Passover Traditions (April 20); the 3rd Edition of the Graveyard Rabbit Carnival - Cemetery Preservation (April 25); and the 4th Edition of the Canadian Genealogy Carnival - Black Sheep Canadian Ancestors (April 26). Thomas should also be publishing the final installment of Bound for Mom - The World is Not Flat very shortly.

Enjoy the great reads!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

More Death Certificates Added to

I noticed that SeekingMichigan had twittered today that they had recently added more 1897 - 1920 death certificates to their database, for a total of around 600,000. I immediately went on to the site and within an hour had found and downloaded certificates for four more direct ancestors and three more collateral relatives. I searched for many others on my To Find list and am hoping they'll be added to the next uploaded batch.

Running a search on my RootsMagic4 database shows that I have 151 family members who died in Michigan between the aforementioned years. This includes 24 direct ancestors, 10 of which I've so far found death certificates between my searches today and in the past few weeks. I'm looking forward to finding the other 14 in the future.

Back to searching...

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter

Best Easter Wishes postcard from Ole LERFALD to his sister Rena LERFALD. C. 1908 - 1920. Original privately held by Troy Midkiff, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE], Vancouver, Washington. 2009.

Fair be thy Easter, happy thy days,
Joy fill thy heart and hope's sweet rays.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Updates on the Calendars of Events

I've updated the February, March, and April Calendars of Events to reflect all the postings of carnivals and other blogging events, as well as events such as Data Backup Day and Scanfest. The February and March Calendars of Events can be used as monthly reviews, while the April Calendar shows both the most recent events posted as well as upcoming ones for the month.

You can always select the Calendar of Events label in my sidebar to view all events going back to March 2008, when I published the first Calendar of Events post. Many other geneabloggers also publish upcoming events and event reviews on their blogs.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Revolutionary War Veteran Finally to Get Military Honors -- 160 Years After His Death

From the Flint (Michigan) Journal:

RICHFIELD TOWNSHIP, Michigan -- As a 70-something-year-old man, Nathaniel Blackmer Sr. still was trying to prove that he served in the American Revolutionary War -- even traveling to Ohio for testimony from a fellow soldier.

But the soldier died before Blackmer could reach him.

Now, thanks to fresh research in the Internet age, Blackmer finally will be recognized for his service to the country -- nearly 160 years after the Flint veteran's death.

Read the rest of the article here.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Free Webinar from MyCanvas

Don't forget! Tomorrow, April 8, you can attend a free MyCanvas webinar: Creative Gift Ideas for Moms, Dads & Grads. John Pereira and Stefanie Condie will present meaningful gifts that you can make in an hour or two, including family tree posters, collage posters and photo books. The presentation will begin at 8 pm Eastern Time (7 Central, 6 Mountain, 5 Pacific). To sign up, go here.

Monday, April 06, 2009

News from Miriam's World

As my regular readers have probably noticed, I didn't blog much during the month of March. All right, I posted 27 items, but most were press releases sent to me from various genealogical companies and services. I didn't participate in any of the great carnivals last month, didn't write any deep or thoughtful posts, and was unable to pull my research together enough to write about a brickwall ancestor.

Truth be told, I was in a funk. January and February saw me in a great deal of pain as I returned to to my job post-surgery in an ergonomically unfriendly work environment. By the time my medical team and I figured out what the problem was and made the corrections (by improving my posture with a office footrest and adjusting my computer station), I'd been out of the writing loop long enough that putting something together felt overwhelming. Coupled with the fear that my shoulder pain might return if I increased my blogging, I held back. Additionally, I was teaching an online genealogy class once a week for six weeks, and at my day job, we were putting together portfolios. (Portfolios are the special education substitute for the standardized state test; the student testing isn't the tedious work; it's the putting together and wording all the accompanying documents, cover sheets, and data that's a nightmare, making citing your sources a la' Elizabeth Shown Mills seem like a walk in the park. One day, for example, we tossed out 12 documents that had to have the word "with" replaced with "at" in order to be acceptable. But, as usual, I digress...)

Added to my work load and health issues was just plain old depression. We have had the most snow on record this winter, which was preceded by the third most snowy winter last year (we had only four months in 2008 that did not have some sort of snowfall). Spokanites are a hardy breed, but quite honestly, we're sick of the snow, the gray overcast skies, and the equally gray piles of frozen yuck standing around in parking lots. And in late February, as I've already shared, my husband received notice that his employer is closing the plant and outsourcing to subcontractors in California and overseas. It's not exactly been the most cheerful winter I've experienced.

Spring Break was on the horizon and down I came with a nasty cold two days before the weekend. My modus operandi with colds is that they usually hit my throat and I get terrible laryngitis. I was scheduled to make two presentations at the biennial Family Trees and Ancestries Conference sponsored by the LDS Church in North Spokane on Saturday, March 28th. Although I had already used quite a bit of sick leave on my post-surgery recovery, I figured I'd better stay home and rest up so I wouldn't be speechless for the conference. Fortunately, rest was exactly what I needed and I probably recovered much faster than if I had tried to tough it out. The conference went well (although I haven't heard the official count, my guesstimate is that we had over 200 attendees), and despite my sniffles and sneezes, I had a voice.

The first part of last week (Spring Break) was spent nagging urging my teens to complete unfinished work since third quarter grades will be posted soon, which they did with a lot of whining and resistance joy and compliance. We then left Thursday morning (amidst two inches of freshly-fallen snow) for the Vancouver (WA)-Portland (OR) area to visit my husband's family for the remainder of the weekend. I always enjoy the drive along the Columbia River because I love to imagine Lewis, Clark, and Sacajawea traveling along--and much later--the brave pioneers floating their covered wagons down the river on rafts. Washington State has such a variety of climates and geography, so there's much to see even though I've done this trip a thousand times, it seems: from the rolling wheat fields of Lincoln and Adams Counties to the vineyards and orchards of the Tri-City area, to the wild scab rock and coulees and the windy Columbia Gorge, to watching the climate change as you cross the Cascades from the dry side with sparse pine forests and sagebrush to the wet side with evergreens, moss, and thick undergrowth, to the behemoth Cascades themselves--Mt. Rainier (which you can see 250 miles away on a clear day), Mt. Adams, and Mt. Hood.

Friday was spent visiting with my parents-in-law, who grew up in Western and South Central Washington and always have interesting stories to tell of their past growing up and the present going-on in the neighborhood. My kids especially enjoy listening to their grandfather talk about the times he's gone searching for Bigfoot. My mother-in-law put on her famous turkey dinner that she always serves when we visit and we ate 'til we were stuffed. Our kids enjoyed the four cats and the dog, as well as watching all the squirrels and birds that my father-in-law feeds in the backyard.

Saturday morning, my daughter and I walked to the shopping district in downtown Vancouver, where we found a darling little boutique specializing in gently used and wholesale formal gowns. After spending months looking around Spokane and online, Missy found the dress that she loves, and I'll eventually be posting her prom photos next month on my personal blog. Later that afternoon, the four of us drove over the Columbia to the city of Portland, where Norm's aunt and uncle have a houseboat right on the river.

After a delicious lunch, Norm's uncle invited the kids to use the kayaks. My daughter wasn't eager to try them, but my son was game. We've all used kayaks before--but on a small lake with little traffic--so Uncle R gave Matt some safety lessons and instructions before letting him head upriver against the current and then floating past the houseboat downstream again and paddling back "home."

It's pretty amazing to see your "baby" out paddling a kayak on the mighty Columbia alongside tugs and other river vessels! Later, Matt and his granduncle took out a RIB, a rubber-inflatable boat, and because it was under 10 hp, Matt was allowed to drive it.

Meanwhile, I visited with Aunt C, and we talked (naturally!) about the family history. She told me a few stories about her maternal great-grandmother, Rebecca Catherine (SNOOK) WESTABY, and then asked me some questions about the Westabys, knowing that I had done a lot of research. I wanted to show her some of the family photos and documents, but her computer didn't have internet access, and I didn't have my laptop with me. However, I had purchased RootsMagic4 just before we left on our trip and had the program on my flashdrive, along with my databases. I was able to give her some family information that had been previously unknown to her. One of the people we discussed was Lynn Walker WESTABY, my husband's great-grandfather's youngest brother, who had only one leg (unsure if he was born this way or had been disabled), yet was a strong swimmer. Despite that, he drowned in Tillamook Bay in the 1920s, while a young man. More on Lynn later...

We returned yesterday (Sunday) in deliciously warm weather. It was nearing 70* when we passed through the Tri-Cities. While in the Vancouver-Portland area, I had been admiring all the blooming trees and bulb flowers that were prolific, unlike the barren, stark (snow-covered) trees and shrubs at home. We were able to bring back the warm weather with us, and I happily worked on the yard after work this afternoon, trying to undo some of the damage and debris that winter had left behind.

When I got online after returning home last night, I checked the genealogy news and was surprised to see that AnceStories had been listed in ProGenealogists' 25 Most Popular Genealogy Blogs, at Number Six! I'm honored to be listed among those who are so well-known in the genealogy world, and who write so consistently and with such incredible content. I'm certain that the main reason I'm included is because I happen to be at or near the top of many blog rolls alphabetically, so naturally I tend to be one of the first sampled by new readers. In other words, it's probably more chance than anything else, but again, I'm honored to have been chosen.

As an aside, I noticed that Joe Beine had listed on his blog some updates for his Death Indexes website, including the Portland Oregonian newspaper search. Sure enough, I found a listing for Lynn WESTABY's obituary, which I plan to order through Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness!

I'm not promising more frequent posts, deeper content, or research-motivated blogging any time soon. But I wanted to assure my faithful readers that I'm still alive and kicking, reading my fellow genea-bloggers' posts with relish, looking forward to the day when life is a little less encumbered, and my trains of thought mesh with free time to bring you more interesting reading ahead!

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

April 2009 Calender of Events

April brings the primrose sweet,
Scatters daisies at our feet.

--from "The Garden Year" by Sara Coleridge

Holidays, History, and Heritage

April is...

National Volunteer Month (United States)
(See my post on being a volunteer back during Random Acts of Kindness Week.)

National Jewish-American Heritage Month (United States)

April 5: Palm Sunday (Christianity)

April 6: National Tartan Day (United States)

Sunset of April 8th - April 15th: Passover (Judaism)

April 10: Good Friday (Christianity)

April 12: Easter Sunday (Christianity)

April 13: Easter Monday (United Kingdom)

April 19: Patriot's Day (United States)

April 19: Dutch-American Friendship Day (Netherlands, United States)

April 25: ANZAC Day (Australia, New Zealand)

April 27 - May 4: Yom Hashoah/Holocaust Remembrance Week (global/Judaism)

April 30: Valborn/Walpurgis Night (Sweden)

Do any of the above events feature in or affect your heritage, culture, or family history?

April Carnivals and Other Events:

Need help? Read my post, "How to Submit a Post to a Carnival", here.

Posted April 1 - the 2nd Edition of the Graveyard Rabbits Carnival - Burial Customs

Posted April 3 - Bound for Mom - The Roadside Café

Posted April 8 - the 69th Edition of the Carnival of Genealogy - "What If": Rewriting History

Posted April 10 - Bound for Mom - Driving Lessons

Posted April 15 - the 12th Edition of the "I Smile for the Camera" Carnival - A Noble Life

Posted April 18 - the 70th Edition of the Carnival of Genealogy - Uncle, Uncle!

Posted April 22 - Bound for Mom - The World is Not Flat

Posted April 22 - the 18th Edition of the Carnival of Central and Eastern European Genealogy
- Easter and Passover Traditions

Posted April 30 - the 4th Edition of the Canadian Genealogy Carnival - Black Sheep Canadian Ancestors

Please note: the 18th Edition of the Cabinet of Curiosities was postponed until host Tim Abbott recovered from illness. Stay tuned.

April 1 - Data Backup Day

Read the latest "Today is Backup Day!" post by Thomas MacEntee at Geneabloggers.

Scanfest: Sunday, April 26th, 11 AM - 2 PM, Pacific Daylight Time

Go here to learn how to join Scanfest and our group of chatting, scanning family archivists, historians, and bloggers!

Go here to add the above deadlines and dates to your Google Calendar,
courtesy of Thomas MacEntee of Destination: Austin Family.

It's spring! Farewell
To chills and colds!
The blushing, girlish
World unfolds

Each flower, leaf,
And blade of turf--
Small love-notes sent
From air to earth.

The sky's a herd
Of prancing sheep,
The birds and fields
Abandon sleep,

And jonquils, tulips,
Bloom bright upon
That wide-eyed hills.

All things renew.
All things begin.
At church, they bring
The lilies in.

--"April," by John Updike