Monday, December 31, 2007

My New Year's Genealogy Resolutions for 2008

In Roman mythology, Janus (or Ianus) was the god of gates, doors, doorways, beginnings, and endings. His most apparent remnants in modern culture are his namesakes, the month of January and the caretaker of doors and halls: Janitor.

Janus was usually depicted with two faces looking in opposite directions. Janus was frequently used to symbolize change and transitions such as the progression of past to future, of one condition to another, of one vision to another, the growing up of young people, and of one universe to another. He was also known as the figure representing time because he could see into the past with one face and into the future with the other. Hence, Janus was worshipped at the beginnings of the harvest and planting times, as well as marriages, births and other beginnings.

Wikipedia contributors, "Janus (mythology)," Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, (accessed December 31, 2007).

I suppose if we genea-bloggers lived in Roman times, we would worship Janus. He would make a wonderful god of genealogy! He could see the past and the future, and was celebrated at births, marriages, and other beginnings, events we celebrate as well. Like Janus, we are the keepers of the gates, doors, and hallways into our family histories; those entrusted with the keys. We are janitors--custodians--of the past for the generations that come after.

My post today is a reflection of my 2007 genealogy resolutions and a listing the ones for 2008. Like Janus, I am looking both directions at once. I had five goals for the year 2007, and much of my 2008 resolutions will be a continuance of them, while I have added a couple of new things as well. Here is my 2007 list, with comments on how I did:

1. To continue and to improve my process of recording my research, especially when I search online databases. I've done much better than I ever have in recording where I've been when searching online, but there still is room for improvement. My problem is impatience...I don't want to slow myself down to record where I looked, and then I end up wasting time in the long run by repeating searches. I did create an Online Research Form to help me, and I resolve to do better in 2008.

2. To cite my sources properly. It's a lot of work, especially to go back and re-cite 20 years' worth of information that I used to enter in note form on my computer. I give myself an A on this resolution, as far as my databases went. I used my RootsMagic citation wizard a lot this year and went back and started re-entering (or entering for the first time) my sources. There's still much work ahead, but the acquisition of Evidence Explained! was a bonus for my genealogical toolbox. I do need to make sure that I cite my sources correctly on this blog, and go back and cite old posts.

3. To photograph and log my genealogical "treasures," items that have once belonged to my ancestors and late relatives. Hmm...I kind of forgot about this one. I was going to have a private blog to log the treasures, but I think Tim Abbott's Cabinet of Curiosities is going to be a good way to record these. Scanfest is also a part of this. I'll renew this resolution as well.

4. To begin to slowly change my hard copy files from a file folder system to a notebook system, using archival-safe, acid-free page protectors. Nope. This one was a dud. It was expensive, time-consuming, and an inefficient way for me to store and access my records. I started to keep my HOEKSTRA materials this way, and although it looked very good and professional, it just was plain awkward. My original plan was to prepare materials for a possible book, but I've got too much research ahead of me to do any near publishing. I've decided to stick with file folders for all my family lines, and I've been implementing Sharon DeBartolo Carmack's system explained in Organizing Your Family History Search. RootsMagic allows me to color code family lines, and I'm using colored folders for my files: blue for my dad's lines, red for Mom's, and green and yellow respectively for my father- and mother-in-law's lines. Also, orange is for my maternal step-grandfather's family and purple is for my paternal grandmother's adoptive family lines. So while the original resolution didn't work, its alternative has.

5. To continue to blog at this be consistent in writing both prompts and responses for my new blog, AnceStories2. I deserve an A+ for the first part, but receive a D for the second. This is my 340th post since last year's resolution on this blog, but I sloughed off badly on AnceStories2. I don't want to abandon it, so I've decided to continue to post enough prompts up to Week 52, giving readers a year's worth of prompts. From that point on, I'll probably blog occasionally on various other ways to record one's memories.

My 2008 resolutions are to continue with the five points of focus above, either in the same vein or the altered goal I've mentioned. Additionally, there are two other goals I want to work on, preservation and writing. The first requires that I lease a safety-deposit box at my financial institution in which to safely keep original documents and family treasures, photo negatives, and computer backups. I'm also going to buy some larger flash drives to back up my files on a regular basis. The second involves doing more non-blog writing by submitting articles for publication. But I'd also like to blog my mother's letters in a private blog, perhaps as preparation for a book.

There you have it: record; cite; archive and preserve; organize; and blog and write. I think I'll make a little sign with these goals and hang it near my computer as a daily reminder. What are your goals or resolutions for 2008?

Sunday, December 30, 2007

The California Death Index on RootsWeb

I've been using the California Death Index at RootsWeb a lot this evening to look up Midkiff descendants for my husband's family tree database. A distant cousin is preparing to publish a new book on the Midkiff family, and has asked that we submit updated descendant reports of their primary ancestors, Franklin Preston MIDKIFF and Ellender "Nellie" OLIVER. Of course, any living descendants will not be included, but there is much data in the family tree that needs tidying. I'm particularly looking up death dates and places in the various death indexes online, both state death indexes and the Social Security Death Index, for those descendants that are likely to be deceased (appearing as aged 80 or above in hubby's database).

A couple of things I noticed of which other researchers should also be aware. The first is that the Soundex feature doesn't apply to either the mother's maiden name or father's last name when running a search; only the surname of the deceased that you are searching for will have their name Soundexed. That may be true of the Metaphone feature as well (I haven't checked). So searching for children whose mother's maiden name is Midkiff, and using the Soundex feature will only bring up the exact Midkiff spelling under the category "Mother's Maiden Name," and not Medkiff, Medkeff, Metkeff and other strange varieties that I often see.

Another warning comes with possible errors in the California Death Index where it is linked to the Social Security Death Index, also on RootsWeb. I found that John Leland KIRBY, Sr., who married a Midkiff descendant, had the Social Security number 560-03-5333 linked on his entry in the California Death Index. When I clicked on the link, I was brought to the SSDI page for Louis ESCALLIER ("What the heck?!"). Running John's birth and death year through the SSDI search engine cleared up the matter. His Social Security Number was 560-03-3333. Also, the SSDI states his birthday was 22 Oct 1899, whereas the California Death Index says 22 Sep 1899.

So which is correct? It's hard to say, but my guess is that since the error for the Social Security Number came on the part of the California Death Index, then it's more likely that the CDI's birth date for Kirby is also incorrect. Looks like there was some sloppy data entry here (not that I've ever done that before!).

All that said, the California Death Index is a great help and guide to obtaining original records. I've been able to sort out relationships and find more family members by using this resource. By putting this data on our family trees and then uploading my GEDCOM to RootsWeb's WorldConnect, I've been contacted by many Midkiff descendants over the years and been able to verify the information as well as share with them their family history.

Research Log: MIDKIFFs in the 1920 Census

I spent some time this morning looking for John Franklin MIDKIFF, Jr. in 1920 U.S. Federal Census (it was his future wife and in-laws, the WESTABYs, that I recently discovered at long last, on the 1920 census). Since John was only an almost-ten-year-old boy, I searched mainly for his father, John Franklin MIDKIFF, Sr. The household should look like this:
John Franklin MIDKIFF - age 49, born Texas
Margie Ethel (TOLLIVER) MIDKIFF - age 32, born Nebraska
Edna Susan MIDKIFF (from John's first marriage) - age 15, born Colorado
Ruth Ethel MIDKIFF - age 11, born Colorado
John Franklin MIDKIFF, Jr. - age 9, born Colorado
Dorothy Zada MIDKIFF - age 5, born Idaho

The family could also include any of the older married children, in-laws, and grandchildren of John, Sr. and his first wife, Ella Lydia WILLIS. They are:

Charles Nathaniel MIDKIFF, Sr. - age 25, born Oklahoma
Marie Marcella (WELLS) MIDKIFF - age 23, born Idaho
Charles Nathaniel MIDKIFF, Jr. - age 3, born Idaho
Edna Marie MIDKIFF - age 1 6/12, born Utah

Myrtle Mary (MIDKIFF) ARTER - age 22, born Oklahoma
James Montgomery ARTER - age c. 31, born Pennsylvania
Agusta Mary ARTER - age 4, born Idaho
possibly Jim-or James-ARTER - details unknown
possibly Edith ARTER - details unknown

Iva Ella (MIDKIFF) HURST - age 17, born Colorado
James L. HURST - age 22, born Nebraska
James N. HURST - age 3/12, born California

I started doing some simple searches on, but did not get any matches to this family. I have lots more possibilities, but this is just a start. Below are the search terms I used and the subsequent results. I used my Online Research Log to keep track of my research.

john, midkiff, exact search; 45 hits, no matches

john, midkiff, soundex search, birthplace: texas; 3 hits, no matches

john, midkiff, soundex search, birth year: 1870 +/- 2 years; 12 hits, no matches

j, midkiff, exact search; 57 hits, no matches

j, midkiff, soundex search, birthplace: texas; 5 hits, no matches

j, midkiff, sounex search, birth year: 1870 +/- 2 years; 10 hits, no matches

john, exact search, birthplace: texas; birth year: 1870 +/- 2 years, father's birthplace: tennessee, mother's birthplace: illinois; 2 hits, no matches

j,exact search, birthplace: texas; birth year: 1870 +/- 2 years, father's birthplace: tennessee, mother's birthplace: illinois; 10 hits, no matches

[blank], exact search, birthplace: texas, birth year: 1870 +/- 2 years, residence: idaho; 106 hits, no matches

[blank], exact search, birthplace: texas, birth year: 1870 +/- 2 years, relationship: head; residence: washington; 150 hits, no matches

[blank], exact search, birthplace: texas, birth year: 1870 +/- 2 years, wife: margie; 18 hits, no matches

[blank], exact search, birthplace: texas, birth year: 1870 +/- 2 years, wife: marg*; 352 hits, no matches

I then went on to try various other children in this household:

dorothy, exact search, birthplace: idaho; birth year: 1914 +/- 2 years, father's birthplace: texas, mother's birthplace: nebraska; 1 hit, no match

john, exact search, birthplace: colorado, birth year: 1910 +/- 2 years, father's birthplace: texas, mother's birthplace: nebraska; 1 hit, no match

john, exact search, birthplace: colorado, birth year: 1910 +/- 2 years, residence: idaho; 17 hits, no matches

john, exact search, birthplace: colorado, birth year: 1910 +/- 2 years, residence: colorado; 90 hits, no matches

john, exact search, birth year: 1910 +/- 2 years, residence: butte county, california; 100 hits, no matches

j, exact search, birth year: 1910 +/- 2 years, residence: butte county, california; 100 hits, no matches


1) This family is not on the census at all due to moving around the country (probably from Idaho and/or Utah to Northern California). However, given that it was winter, that probably doesn't make sense.

2) They are on the census, but "Midkiff" is badly mangled in the index...or was written as METCALF(E), a different Soundex code.

3) They are living with other relatives, and I need to look for all adult children and siblings of John and/or his wife, Margie.

The Year in Review (2007)

This is the time of year when newspapers, magazines, television shows and websites list the year in review, and I thought I'd join in with a personalized version of my own. Two Thousand Seven was a fantastic, wonderful year, genealogically-speaking. Though I wasn't able to get a lot of records research done, I was able to dig deeper into the personal and family history of my ancestors to uncover rich, detailed information that had been unknown to me. What immediately comes to mind is discovering, quite by accident, that my great-grandparents were charter members of the American Legion, Reinhart W. Roman Post 537 and Women's Auxiliary in Conklin, Ottawa Co., Michigan, after stumbling upon a website of the history of Chester Township. I never would have imagined all the delightful treasures and experiences I came across this year! Here they are, in no particular order, my top ten list:
  • 1. Blogging Joy
  • Although I started this blog nearly two years ago (16 January 2006), it wasn't until I started writing for the Carnival of Genealogy and switched to this current URL on January 22nd that things really took off for me, both as a blogger and in readership numbers. But really what has been the best reward of blogging my genealogy has been the sense of community and the dear friends I've made. From the many carnivals that have sprung up (Cabinet of Curiosities, Carnival of Central and East European Genealogy, Carnival of Irish Heritage and Culture, and the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories) to Scanfest (the brainchild of Susan Kitchens, by the way!) to banding together during the Ancestry Internet Biographical Collections controversy, I've learned about the personal and genealogical trials and triumphs of people I've never met face-to-face (but hope to!), and have been encouraged and educated by them along the way. I hope I've given equally in return.

  • 2. My 15 Minutes of Fame
  • It was very exciting to have my local newspaper feature me in their Home and Garden section as they highlighted my genealogical treasures. Hopefully, my emphasis on the Eastern Washington Genealogical Society during the interview will increase awareness and attendance of our society within our community. I was also interviewed by U.S. News and World Report (as a user of and an representative of Google Reader's public relations department (on my Alice Teddy the Rollerskating Bear find here and here). U.S. News has so far not published my interview; and the Google Reader interview was for a possible future press release. That the media is covering genealogy and family history more and more is, I believe, an indication of public awareness and interest in these areas.

  • 3. Collections from My Ancestors
  • Two large collections of documents, photos, and letters made their way into my home this past year. After the death of my maternal grandfather last January, I started receiving items from my uncle who was the executor of the estate of my grandparents. I'm still in the process of scanning, adding to my database, and analyzing what I call the DeVRIES-HOEKSTRA collection. Additionally, my uncle blessed me by doing his own on-site research--and then sharing it with me--on the houses that our families occupied in Grand Rapids, Michigan from the time the DeVRIES family arrived there in 1897. Secondly, one of my paternal aunts sent several CDs of scanned materials from my great-grandfather's experiences in North Russia at the end of World War I. My posts on this subject have generated a lot of readership, not just from the genealogical community, but from the military and history communities as well. I still have more posts to blog about his "adventures" there and what happened after he returned to the U.S.

  • 4. A Collection from My Children's Paternal Ancestors
  • Recently, my children's paternal grandfather loaned me a box full of old and modern family photos and dozens of postcards received by his maternal grandparents, mainly during the years 1908 to the early 1950s. I look forward to scanning, entering into my children's paternal family database, and analyzing these materials.

  • 5. Presentations
  • This year brought fabulous opportunities for me to make presentations to various groups around the Inland Northwest. In March, I did two presentations at the local LDS Church's Family History Conference, and in June, the Bonner County (Idaho) Genealogical Society invited me to be their featured speaker at their genealogical conference. I also had the opportunity to share "Frugal Genealogy" with the Kootenai County (Idaho) Genealogical Society in October. I also taught three EWGS computer classes for members this past year. These experiences allowed me to meet other researchers and see what kinds of resources are available in outlying communities.

  • 6. Starting a New Class
  • One of the results of some successful Online Beginning Genealogy classes that I taught through my local community colleges' district was being asked to start an Intermediate class, which begins later next month.

  • 7. Letters from My Childhood
  • I took a walk down memory lane by reading the letters my mother had written to her parents from 1966 - 1978. There's some terrific material there...perhaps even a book.

  • 8. Grave Photos
  • Some wonderful volunteers at Find A Grave were able to take photos of graves of ancestors of my husband and me. These included my 3rd-great-grandmother, Maria Marina (VanKLINKEN) TON BYL, made all the more bittersweet since she is buried in a Potter's Field in an unmarked grave.

  • 9. Surprises
  • As I've mentioned above, I discovered my ROBBINS family was instrumental in starting up an American Legion Post, and my JACKSON relatives trained a rollerskating bear! Another great discovery was finding my husband's WESTABY ancestors in the 1920 Census, at long last!

  • 10. Freebies and Income
    It's always nice to be rewarded or earn something doing what comes naturally and for which you are passionate! Thanks to the great people at, Genealogy Publishing Company, and MemoryPress, I've tasted the sweet fruits of my labor.

I can only dare to dream that 2008 can match or surpass 2007 in the wealth of what I've experienced! I wish all my readers, fellow genea-bloggers, and family members the very best in the coming New Year. May your brick walls come crashing down, and may all your ancestor hunts be successful and rewarding!

Friday, December 28, 2007

Even More of This and That

I was up in the wee hours of the morning (teenagers, sleepover...need I say more?), so I got on the computer and checked my Google Reader to catch the East Coast blogs' morning posts. Did you see that George G. Morgan is discontinuing his blog, "Along Those Lines..." to do more writing-for-pay as well as keep up with his busy lecturing schedule? We'll miss him.

I'm sure someone's blogged about this before, but I stumbled across the Local History and Genealogy Reading "Room" of the Library of Congress' website. Of course, it was bookmarked immediately, and I suggest you do the same!

Lori Thornton at Smoky Mountain Family Historian links to an article about the Boston Public Library Digitization Project. Exciting!

I'm not a Martha Stewart fan, but she does have a good tip for storing ornaments. Many of us genealogists have ornaments that are antiques, modern family favorites passed down over a couple of generations, or decorations created to honor our ancestors. We should do our best to preserve these special keepsakes:
The boxes that your ornaments came in are best for storage; if you didn't save the originals, you can wrap each piece individually in acid-free tissue paper, and pack them in a sturdy, compartmentalized box (or use paper cups to keep ornaments separate). Be sure to store the box in a stable environment, such as a closet; fluctuating temperatures and moisture levels in attics and basements can be harmful to the decorations. [from, search site for "ornament storage"]

Resources for Irish Genealogical Research from a Beginner's Perspective

We don't have much Irish heritage, my children's father and I. Both of us have ancestral lines that resided in Ireland for a couple of generations. A closer look at these families indicates that all but one--which came from France--immigrated from Scotland: the typical Ulster Scots. After a few generations, the families moved on to North America; my children's father's to Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Virginia, and mine to Ontario. His arrived during typical Scotch-Irish migration periods of the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, while mine came over during the 1830s.

I also have an adoptive line from Ireland. My paternal grandmother's adoptive mother, Nellie May CONCIDINE, was a second-generation American, whose paternal grandfather arrived from Ireland in New York State sometime before 1849, perhaps residing first in New Jersey. I haven't yet been able to get them "over the ocean," so to speak, so I'm not sure from which county they hailed.

Am I ready to do Irish research? No. There are too many generations between us and our Irish-born ancestors for me to delve into this with any quality results. I've long ago learned the rule of genealogy to start with myself (or my children's father) and work backward through time, pausing to dig as deeply as I can to extract all possible clues before moving on to the previous generation.

However, I can educate myself along the way, so when I do feel prepared to tackle these challenges, I will be equipped with the necessary knowledge and tools. One way is to read everything I can get my hands on about Irish genealogy, research, and history. I should also look at Scottish resources, to help me better understand the history, culture and migration patterns of the Ulster Scots. The genealogy room of the Spokane Public Library's downtown branch is stocked and staffed by members of the Eastern Washington Genealogical Society, and its collection holds a wealth of publications, especially on Irish genealogy. That will be a great place to start. Also, this past year, I acquired three books that I believe will be helpful in my quest.

The first is General Alphabetical Index to the Townlands and Towns, Parishes and Baronies of Ireland Based on the Census of Ireland for the Year 1851 (1861; reprinted in 2000 by the Genealogical Publishing Company, Baltimore, Maryland). It is a 968-page chart of all the towns and townlands in Ireland, showing the county, barony, parish, and Poor Law Union of 1857 that each comes under, as well as listing their acreage, the sheet number of the ordnance survey maps, and volume and page number of the 1851 census on which each can be found. So, for instance, I can look up my SAYERS' ancestral home of Letterkenny, County Donegal, and find out that in 1851 (two decades after they left for Canada), this townland of a little more than 410 acres was situated in the Barony of Kilmacrenan, and in Conwal Parish, with a Poor Law Union of the same name. It can be located on Sheet 53 of the Ordnance Survey Map, and its information can be found in Volume III, page 126 of Part I of the 1851 Townland Census. All this information will be useful for when I start looking for various records and need to know what government units covered the area.

Another interesting older reference work is Handbook on Irish Genealogy: How to Trace Your Ancestors and Relatives in Ireland by Donal F. Begley of the Irish Genealogical Office (1970; reprinted in 1984 by Heraldic Artists, Ltd., Dublin). This 165-page book consists of six chapters: "Tracing Ancestors and Relatives in Ireland," "Records and Record Repositories," "Irish County Maps" (from Samuel Lewis' 1837 A Topographical Dictionary of Ireland), "Irish Parish Registers," "Preliminary Research in Home Country," and "Emigrant Passenger Lists to America." It is followed by lists of record repositories, pedigrees in printed books, published family histories, common elements in placenames, and useful addresses, as well as a comprehensive index.

My last resource is (A Genealogist's Guide to) Discovering Your Irish Ancestors: How to find and record your unique heritage by Dwight A. Radford & Kyle J. Betit (2001, Betterway Books, Cincinnati, Ohio). This is one of those newer helpful genealogical guidebooks laid out with icons in the margins listing "tip," "important!" or "reminder," and has internet and bibliographic resources in every chapter.

I'll also read articles on Irish and Ulster Scots genealogy in the magazines I subscribe to, such as Internet Genealogy and Family Tree Magazine. Online resources I can use include Cyndi's List of genealogical links for Ireland and Northern Ireland and for Scotland, FamilySearch's Research Outlines for Ireland and Scotland, and searching Google Books for online Irish and Scottish publications. There are a number of researchers I know whose brains I can pick for more ideas, such as fellow members of my genealogical society and other genea-bloggers. One of my favorite new genealogy blogs is the Irish Roots Cafe blog by Michael O'Laughlin, who also hosts a website and podcasts, as well as publishes many books on Irish research.

When it comes time for me to really start digging up my Irish roots, I don't think I'll be hurting for good resources!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Evidence Explained: A Book Review

I was very excited to recently receive a copy of Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace by Elizabeth Shown Mills (Genealogical Publishing Company, Baltimore, Maryland, 2007). As most of you are aware, this is the hot new book in the genealogical world. If you've been researching your family tree for any length of time, you probably recognize that the author is considered the leading authority in properly citing one's sources in genealogical research. Her last book on the subject, Evidence! Citation and Analysis for the Family Historian (also from GPC, 1997) and her publication, QuickSheet: Citing Online Historical Resources Evidence! Style (First Revised Edition, GPC, 2007), are integral to personal and public genealogical libraries around the country, if not the world.

The first thing I noticed about Evidence Explained was the thickness and weight of the tome. While Evidence! is a paperback of 124 pages, and QuickSheet is a reference sheet published as a laminated folder for quick reference while working online, Evidence Explained is an 885-page hardback, weighing approximately 3 pounds! There's good reason for the size of the book. Ms. Mills has packed it full of lessons on analysis and citation as well as explanations and examples of sources and their corresponding citations.

In the first chapter, "Fundamentals of Evidence Analysis," the author sets forth to instruct her readers on the necessity of analyzing the sources that genealogists and family historians come across while doing their research. It is not enough to have sources, she says; it is imperative that we learn to evaluate the quality of the source and step back to critique the circumstances under which the source was created, copied, archived, and presented to the public. This chapter is subdivided into the following topics: Basic Issues, Classes of Evidence, Problematic Concepts, Processed Records (Formats), and Textual Criticism.

The second chapter is "Fundamentals of Citation," and its lessons are partitioned so: Basic Issues, Common Practices for Citing, Family History Library, Online Materials, Organization, and Stylistic Matters. A quote near the beginning of the chapter sets the stage for its purpose: "...once we have learned the principles of citation, we have both an artistic license and a researcher's responsibility to adapt those principles to fit materials that do not match any standard model" [pg. 41]. Since genealogists make discoveries in the most unusual sources (jewelry, family needlework and portraits, or personal mementos, for instance), "Fundamentals of Citation" gives both the structure and the liberty that each family historian needs to cite the facts unique to his or her own circumstances. These first two chapters ought to be required reading for anyone who is serious--or merely curious--about learning and recording the history of their family. They will answer questions and provide solutions to problems the reader may not have even previously considered.

The next twelve chapters present the examples and explanations of various types of sources, and are accordingly titled:
  • * "Archives & Artifacts"
  • * "Business & Institutional Records
  • * "Cemetery Records"
  • * "Census Records"
  • * "Church Records"
  • * "Local & State Records: Courts & Governance
  • * "Local & State Records: Licenses, Registrations, Rolls & Vital Records"
  • * "Local & State Records: Property & Probates"
  • * "National Government Records"
  • * "Publications: Books, CDs, Maps, Leaflets & Videos"
  • * "Publications: Legal Works & Government Documentation"
  • * "Publications: Periodicals, Broadcast & Web Miscellanea"
As you can see, there really isn't a resource that can't be covered in the above list. Each chapter begins with about 20 pages, colored gray for easy access, filled with citation examples of that particular topic, called QuickCheck Models. Every page of the QuickCheck Models contains a labeled Source List Entry, First (Full) Reference Note, and Subsequent (Short) Note example for a common source in that group. The main part of the chapter addresses the information itself, prefaced by a section on Basic Issues, as well as addressing any special circumstances these particular sources may create. They are then classified according to categories, and detailed explanations of what these resources may contain and how and why they need to be cited is precisely given. The body of the book is followed by an 11-page glossary of terms, a bibliography, the main index, and an index to the QuickCheck models.

Although I've had this book for less than a month, I'm already finding that I'm using it on almost a daily basis, either for citing my sources in my family tree databases or here on my blog. It's everything I had hoped to find when I purchased the author's previous book on this topic. Evidence! left me a bit bewildered because I had so many source circumstances that didn't fit neatly into the models she gave. However, Evidence Explained not only gives me a wealth of examples that have, so far, covered every situation I've come across, but teaches me how to determine citations for examples she may not have given. As well, the lessons of the first two chapters were educational and enlightening for me, a genealogist by avocation.

To purchase your own copy of Evidence Explained, visit the website of the publisher, Genealogical Publishing Company.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Great End-of-Year Deals at Genealogical Publishing Company

This is the time of year when you can find all kinds of wonderful special offers on subscriptions to genealogical database websites or discounts on books and CDs at genealogical publications suppliers. One such place is Genealogical Publishing Company's website,

Right now, they have three special deals going on. The first is an extension of their 50% Off Holiday Sale until 11:59 PM EST, Thursday, December 27, 2007:
The 34 reference books in this sale run the gamut of our collection, from lineage society indexes, passenger lists, military records, vital records of all kinds, probate and land records, how-to books, and more. Geographical coverage includes many of the U.S. states east of the Mississippi, Canada, the British Isles, Germany, and the Caribbean.

Although some of these sale items are now out of stock, you can still choose from many others in the waning moments of this terrific offer.

The next special is the 2007 Liquidation Sale of books and CDs which will remain in effect until 11:59 PM EST on Thursday, January 3, 2008:
Each year we drop prices drastically on scores of books in order to clear out our will find over 50 books or multi-volume sets that, with very few exceptions, have been reduced in price by at least 50%. As a matter of fact, the majority of our liquidation books are on sale for between 67-75% below retail.

This year you will also find a number of CD-ROM titles in the Liquidation Sale. CDs are always a good buy since they contain the page images of multiple books yet sell for as little as one-fourth the price of the books when purchased on their own. Since we have further reduced the prices on the following CDs by as much as 67%, you will be paying only pennies for the digital equivalent of some of these imaged books.

Lastly, GPC offers its Warehouse Book Sale everyday of the year. These are books offered at permanent discounts of at least 40% and often 50% or more, to make room for new products.

If you received some Christmas money to spend towards genealogical products, or perhaps wish to treat yourself after buying all your loved ones gifts, these sales may be just what you're looking for!

Family History in a Christmas Card

Beth Baggott and her brother, Donald Bethke, of Grand Haven, Michigan, have been exchanging the same Christmas card for the past 50 years.
The card has been exchanged every Christmas since, with each couple adding mentions of big events like births and children going off to college.

For more on this story, read the article at the Grand Haven Tribune website here.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Lost Cousins is Completely Free Until 2008!

I received the following message today from the LostCousins site:

All users of the LostCousins site will have totally free access from December 26 to January 6, so it's a great opportunity to find and contact living relatives who share your ancestry!

The LostCousins website has a unique system that identifies living relatives who share the same ancestors automatically, confidentially, and with virtually 100% accuracy. It's all done using census data, most of which is available free online at the FamilySearch site.

The more relatives you enter on your My Ancestors page, the better your chance of finding a cousin immediately - and the more cousins you'll find over time.

Founder Peter Calver explained why the system works so well: "Using the census ensures that two members who share the same relative enter precisely the same data - this means we can not only match you automatically, but do it with 100% accuracy.

"Once you've told us about your relatives from the census, it takes just seconds to search for other members who share your ancestors - and you can repeat the search as often as you like, even after the offer ends. Our simple search and accurate matching will save you an enormous amount of time and effort that might otherwise be expended following up false leads."

A recent survey revealed that the average LostCousins member has been researching her family tree for over 10 years, so the cousins you find are likely to have lots of useful research to share - as well as photographs and other memorabilia.

Although new members are required to register, no credit card or other financial information is requested - so there's absolutely nothing to lose, and everything to gain by taking part. From January 7 onwards you'll need to be a subscriber to initiate contact with a new cousin, but otherwise you'll continue to have full access to your data and to the site.

The LostCousins website can be found at:

Merry Christmas to Me!

I got up early this morning, just playing around on my family tree databases and various websites, waiting for the family to wake up so we could open gifts. Santa brought me two gifts this morning.

One was an obituary of one of my Grandfather Robbins' cousins who passed away in September. (Yes, I realize that this is sad, and shouldn't be cause for celebration. However, I did get some names of family members that I did not have before.)

The other I'm very happy about: I found my husband's paternal grandmother, Helen Mary WESTABY, and her parents, George Rice WESTABY, II and Rena LERFALD, along with George's brother Guy, in the 1920 U.S. Federal Census! I've been looking for them for years! Helen's obituary stated the family moved from the Rosebud or Dawson County area in Montana to Yakima County, Washington in 1920, so I figured they got missed during the move. Two years ago, my father-in-law told me about some trouble his grandfather George had with the law, and I figured there was a strong possibility that the family deliberately avoided the enumerator that census year. However, I recently re-examined some family mementos that documented George and Helen's residences in Forsyth, Rosebud County in 1922, which gave me cause to look once again at the 1920 census in Montana.

I have looked for this family both on microfilm and online. I used the microfilmed Soundex of the 1920 census to attempt to find the family in all the western states, particularly Montana, Idaho, Washington, Oregon, California, and Wyoming. I used a variety of spellings, too, such as Westaby, Westby, Westerby, etc. I repeated many of these searches online as well.

Today, I thought I would try again online. The search that had a successful result was a search for "George," born 1890 +/- 2 years, living in Montana. And here is the family, listed as Westerby, living on Prospect Street in Forsyth, Rosebud County. Why they didn't show up in all my previous searches, I'll never know!

Image: Westaby, George Rice III household, Household 206, Dwelling 251, E. D. 123, page 11 A, Forsyth, Rosebud County, Montana, 1920 U.S. Federal Census. Image 21 of 38 viewed 25 Dec 2007 at, (

Monday, December 24, 2007

Advent Memories Complete

This is my own Advent Calendar.
It has pockets to put little candies or gifts in.

I wasn't able to post my Advent Memories everyday the way I would have liked to, but I did end up writing a post for each one, backdating them so that they will appear on the correct day that they should.

To view all my Advent Memories posts, click here.

Again, thank you to Thomas and Jasia for putting this together, and for all their hard work!

Advent Memories No. 24: Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve

How did you and your family spend Christmas Eve?

When I was a girl, Christmas Eve was spent getting ready for the next day. I don't really remember anything specific about the day or the evening, probably because the big excitement of St. Nicholas coming had already passed, on December 6th. That's not to say I wasn't excited; there were always large boxes full of presents from my grandparents and other relatives in Michigan, waiting to be opened the next morning.

While we had lived in Alaska, my parents had become friendly with the clergy from various denominations in the area, and we usually stayed at the Catholic rectory in Ketchikan whenever we had to stay overnight for business or medical appointments. Several times, my parents hosted ecumenical services with Catholics, Presbyterians, and Pentecostals, and we often attended mass at one of our Catholic friends' homes whenever the priest came over from Ketchikan. Once we moved to Washington, we "adopted" an elderly couple who were neighbors of ours as surrogate grandparents. Their children lived too far away to drive them into town for Midnight Mass, so we would always take "Grandma Anne" with us. I always loved the beautiful ritual of the mass, the carols of the choir in the loft behind us, and the light shining through the stained glass out into the snow. My favorite part was the finale with the Hallelujah Chorus as everyone exited the church, and it always seemed to echo through my head as we drove back home later that night, up the snowy mountain roads.
I've so enjoyed this walk down the Christmas memory lane, and I wish to thank Thomas and Jasia for coming up with such wonderful prompts. Special thanks to Thomas, for all his hard work in putting the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories together. I don't know how you did it, in addition to writing down all your own memories as well! To my readers, I hope that you have enjoyed these, as well as the posts from my fellow genea-bloggers (I still have a few more of mine to backdate). It's never too late to write your own memories for your children, grandchildren, and future descendants, and I encourage you to do so.

This post is a part of the "Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories" meme created by Thomas and Jasia. You, too, can write your own Christmas memories, either for your personal journal or blog. Click on their names for the list of topics. To see what others have written, go here.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

2nd Carnival of Central and East European Genealogy is Posted

Jessica has posted the 2nd Carnival of Central and East European Genealogy at her blog, Jessica's Genejournal. I don't have any known Central or East European ancestry, but I enjoy reading the blogs of those who do. It's so interesting reading about other cultures and traditions, especially as they relate to genealogy! If you have ancestry from this area, you may wish to post your own article in the next carnival.
The topic for the next carnival is on stories. Do any of your ancestors have stories of their homelands from Central or Eastern Europe? Are you familiar with any stories or folklore of countries from Central or Eastern Europe? The Next edition of the carnival will be due on January 25. You can submit your article here.

Advent Memories No. 23: Christmas Sweetheart Memories

Christmas Sweetheart Memories

Do you have a special memory of a first Christmas present from a sweetheart? How did you spend your first Christmas together?

The first Christmas I spent with the man who is now my husband was Christmas 1986. We were not yet engaged, although we were pretty serious and had already discussed marriage. At the time, I had been living with his brother and sister-in-law for about a month, caring for their three young children while they worked evenings, cleaning offices. It was his brother's second job, as the income he received working for the social services department of The Salvation Army was not enough to support a growing family. I had met my future husband and his brother while working for the same department.

I don't remember exactly what day we first celebrated Christmas together. I think it was a few days before, because if memory serves me right, my future brother-in-law and his family were planning to go to Vancouver, Washington for Christmas to spend it with their parents. And I know that my parents had invited Norm to come up to Colville with me to meet them at Christmastime.

So our first celebration was at Norm's brother's home in Spokane, and he (Norm) bought me a boom box for Christmas. I don't at all remember what I got him. Our second celebration occurred at my parents' home, where he met them and my younger siblings. We were engaged near the end of the following January, and married in late May.

This post is a part of the "Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories" meme created by Thomas and Jasia. You, too, can write your own Christmas memories, either for your personal journal or blog. Click on their names for the list of topics. To see what others have written, go here.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Advent Memories No. 22: Christmas Grab Bag

Christmas Grab Bag

Author’s choice. Please post from a topic that helps you remember Christmases past!

As a family historian, have you ever noticed any of your ancestors who were born, married, or died on Christmas? I have quite a number of family members in both my husband's and my genealogical databases with Christmas Day events, but I picked out only direct ancestors to share with you.

Christmas Day births:

My 4th-great-grandmother: Amanda (WESTBROOK) KIMBALL (1816 - New York State)

Norm's 2nd-great-grandmother: Senna "Senie" (COLLINS) TOLLIVER (1870 - Grayson Co., Virginia)

Christmas Day marriages:

My 10th-great-grandparents: Nathaniel DICKINSON and Hannah BEARDSLEY (1662 - Hatfield, Hampshire Co., Massachusetts)

My great-grandparents: William Bryan ROBBINS and Marie LEWIS (1919 - Muskegon Heights, Muskegon Co., Michigan)

Christmas Day deaths:

My 7th-great-grandfather: Daniel ENNES (1838 - Oswasco, Cayuga Co., New York)

Norm's 5th-great-grandmother: Gudlaug Nilsdotter (1831 - Norway)

Norm's 9th-great-grandfather: Thomas KILBOURN (1640 - England or Massachusetts?)

Norm's 10th-great-grandfather: Henry SQUIRE (1649 - Charlton Mackrell, England)

Of course, there are all those Christmas Eve events, as well as other major holidays. It's also fun to find out who else in your ancestry shares your birthday. Most genealogical software has search features which can easily find this information.

This post is a part of the "Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories" meme created by Thomas and Jasia. You, too, can write your own Christmas memories, either for your personal journal or blog. Click on their names for the list of topics. To see what others have written, go here.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Correction Regarding WWI Veterans in Spokane

Earlier today, I incorrectly stated that there was a third American World War I veteran, Louis Livingston, living in here in Spokane, Washington. I was wrong on both counts: he was not a veteran, and I discovered this evening that he passed away just this week on Wednesday, December 19th.

My error was made when I misunderstood Eastern Washington Genealogical Society member John Ellingson, who had mentioned that Louis Livingston was the only living person in this area that John knew was listed on the WWI Draft Registration. Livingston actually never did serve, as the war ended only nine days after he registered for the draft, on November 11, 1918.

If you would like to know more about Louis Livingston, you can read an online article published by our local paper, the Spokesman-Review, here.

This and That Again

From the random thoughts bouncing around in my head:

Every morning, I enjoy reading the latest Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories posts. I've been catching up on my own, and now have numbers 1 - 11 complete. I'm working hard to fill in the ones from when I was so busy the last week of school. I've also added pictures to a couple of ones already posted. The ones I've got in on time to be included in Thomas' daily posts have been sent to him fairly late at night (usually midnight, his time). He probably dreads getting e-mails from me ("can't that gal in Spokane get it together?"). This is what happens when you're competing for computer time with teenagers. They somehow think MySpace and Runescape are so much more important than blogging or genealogy. Sheesh!

I've also been busy with Christmas preparations, like most of you out there. I've got my Christmas letter all written and mailed out (if you would like to get your own copy, just e-mail me; see my address in my profile). Last night I put together the dough and filling for banket, and today I'll roll it out, fill it, and bake it. I'll also bake up a casserole for my hubby's workplace's annual Christmas potluck dinner. Today's plans include finishing up my shopping, and perhaps getting started on the wrapping.

Yesterday brought a nice surprise. We did not know that Norm's oldest niece, nephew-in-law, and grandniece (almost 3) were in town from Illinois. We haven't seen them since they left for Germany a couple of years ago; over the summer, they moved back to the states. They came by our house for a visit, since my husband is working longer hours due to the holidays, and won't be able to make it to the family holiday gathering this weekend. The highlight of my day was when little Evelyn, who doesn't remember me from past visits and was being a little shy, asked me to read a story to her!

A month or so ago, a co-worker brought in a catalog of fund-raising merchandise her son's school was promoting. I saw this bracelet, and simply had to have it! Since it holds six photos in alternating heart- and oval-shaped marcasite-look frames, I've got copies of the six generations of women that I blogged about here. I've received many compliments, and it's a great genealogy conversation starter! Kathryn Beich is the fundraising company, but I can't find it on their website.

EWGS members have been getting their due in the local paper lately. Yesterday's featured past president and current Bulletin editor Doris Woodward, who has written a book on Spokane's circus clown, Harper Joy. The Circus Room on the seventh floor of the world-famous Davenport Hotel honors Joy, and today, Doris will be conducting a book-signing at the Signature Store in the hotel from 4:00 - 7:00 PM. Complimentary hot cider and gingerbread cookies will be served. To read the article, go here. To read the full article without going through the subscription process, simply click the "printer-friendly" link near the top of the page.

What genealogist doesn't love books? Kimbooktu is a blog about all things bookish, including reading accessories and book-themed furniture. Today is the one-year anniversary of the blog, authored by Kim from the Netherlands. Drop by, admire the great finds she's written about, and give her your congratulations.

Oldest American World War I Veteran Dies

From the Spokesman-Review:
TOLEDO, Ohio — J. Russell Coffey, the oldest known surviving U.S. veteran of World War I, has died. The retired teacher, one of only three U.S. veterans from the “war to end all wars,” was 109.

The article goes on to say that only two more American WWI veterans survive: Frank Buckles, 106, of Charles Town, West Virginia; and Harry Richard Landis, 108, of Sun City Center, Florida. It also mentions John Babcock, 107, the last known surviving Canadian WWI veteran, who lives here in Spokane.

Advent Memories No. 21: Christmas Music

Christmas Music

What songs did your family listen to during Christmas? Did you ever go caroling? Did you have a favorite song?

There was a while there when our family did not have electricity on our little farm in Alaska. But before, when we lived in town, and after, when we did have electricity on the farm and later when we moved to Washington, we often would listen to a set of records that I believe came from Reader's Digest. There were a number of boxed sets of various types of music that my parents had purchased, and one of them was all Christmas music. Between listening to those records, frequent church attendance, and involvement in school music programs (choir and band), I was very familiar with the songs of Christmas.

When I moved to Spokane to attend college, I was very involved with The Salvation Army, and learned to play brass instruments (I had played clarinet in school). As a band, we would go caroling in quartets or quintets to the various kettle stands around town, both outside and inside malls and shopping centers. We would play a few numbers before moving on to the next location. This always helped to bring in more donations, and it was just plain fun!

I can't think of a song that's an absolute favorite. I love all Christmas songs, and many are dear to my heart (I did blog about "White Christmas" here). I do have to say that as a choir and band member for many years in both school and church groups that I always enjoyed singing or playing "The Hallelujah Chorus," even though it technically is not a Christmas carol. It is traditionally played at many Christmas concerts, and has a powerful effect on both the audience and the performers.

This post is a part of the "Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories" meme created by Thomas and Jasia. You, too, can write your own Christmas memories, either for your personal journal or blog. Click on their names for the list of topics. To see what others have written, go here.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Advent Memories No. 20: Christmas and Deceased Relatives

Christmas and Deceased Relatives

Did your family visit the cemetery at Christmas? How did your family honor deceased family members at Christmas?

We don't have many family buried in this area. My cousins, Chris and Carrie, and a few distant cousins of my husband are buried at the upper level of Greenwood Memorial Terrace. Notice the word "terrace." The road up to the top of the cemetery is narrow, windy, and in the winter, covered with snow and ice. In the warm months, traveling up it still makes me nervous as it's not quite wide enough for two vehicles, and I'm always a little anxious as to who might be flying down the hill. Suffice it to say, we don't visit the cemetery in the winter. I do enjoy going on Memorial Day weekend. I also drive by Holy Cross Cemetery frequently while doing errands, and during the holidays, one can see how beautifully decorated the graves are, especially with wreaths on tripods.

During the holidays, I often think of loved ones who've gone before us; my grandparents and cousins, especially. It's not a melancholy reflection, although I do miss them. Mostly, it's warm memories of times we spent together, or gifts that were sent to us from them across the miles while growing up.

This post is a part of the "Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories" meme created by Thomas and Jasia. You, too, can write your own Christmas memories, either for your personal journal or blog. Click on their names for the list of topics. To see what others have written, go here.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

I'm a Naughty Elf! Janice Says So!

Between the carnivals, the advent memories, and memes, we genea-bloggers have been partying hard this month, and I think Janice of Cow Hampshire has hit the punch a bit early! She put together several hilarious videos of my fellow bloggers, including a group of us naughty elves in Santa's workshop. These are a must-see!

Thanks so much, Janice, for the gift of laughter!

FHL & Major FHCs to Receive Free Access

I received the following just a few minutes ago, via e-mail from FamilySearch:


FamilySearch and The Generations Network Agreement Give Patrons Access to More than 24,000 Databases and Titles

SALT LAKE CITY—FamilySearch and The Generations Network, Inc., parent company of, today announced an agreement that provides free access of to patrons of the Family History Library in Salt Lake City and the 13 largest regional family history centers effective today.

With this new agreement full access will be provided to more than 24,000 databases and titles and 5 billion names in family history records. In addition to the Family History Library, the following 13 regional family history centers have been licensed to receive access to

* Mesa, Arizona
* Los Angeles, California
* Oakland, California
* Orange, California
* Sacramento, California
* San Diego, California
* Idaho Falls, Idaho
* Pocatello, Idaho
* Las Vegas, Nevada
* Logan, Utah
* Ogden, Utah
* St. George, Utah
* Hyde Park, London, England

“We’re excited for our patrons to receive online access to an expanded collection of family history records on,” said Don Anderson, director of FamilySearch Support. “’s indexes and digital images of census, immigration, vital, military and other records, combined with the excellent resources of FamilySearch, will increase the likelihood of success for patrons researching their family history.” The Generations Network and FamilySearch hope to expand access to other family history centers in the future.

FamilySearch patrons at the designated facilities will have access to’s completely indexed U.S. Federal Census Collection, 1790-1930, and more than 100 million names in passenger lists from 1820-1960, among other U.S. and international record collections. Throughout the past year, has added indexes to Scotland censuses from 1841-1901, created the largest online collection of military and African American records, and reached more than 4 million user-submitted family trees.

Free access is also available at Brigham Young University Provo, Idaho, and Hawaii campuses, and LDS Business College patrons through a separate agreement with The Generations Network.

“FamilySearch’s Family History Library in Salt Lake City is one of the most important physical centers for family history research in the world, and we are happy that patrons to the Library and these major regional centers will have access to,” said Tim Sullivan, President and CEO of The Generations Network, Inc., parent company of “We’ve enjoyed a ten-year working relationship with FamilySearch, and we look forward to continued collaboration on a number of family history projects.”

About (visit
With 24,000 searchable databases and titles and more than 2.5 million active users, is the No. 1 online source for family history information. Since its launch in 1997, has been the premier resource for family history, simplifying genealogical research for millions of people by providing them with many easy-to-use tools and resources to build their own unique family trees. The site is home to the only complete online U.S. Federal Census collection, 1790-1930, as well as the world’s largest online collection of U.S. ship passenger list records featuring more than 100 million names, 1820-1960. is part of The Generations Network, Inc., a leading network of family-focused interactive properties, including,, and Family Tree Maker. In total, The Generations Network properties receive 8.7 million unique visitors worldwide and more than 416 million page views a month (© comScore Media Metrix, October 2007).

About FamilySearch
FamilySearch is a nonprofit organization that maintains the world's largest repository of genealogical resources. Patrons may access resources online at or through the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah, and over 4,500 family history centers in 70 countries. FamilySearch is a trademark of Intellectual Reserve, Inc. and is registered in the United States of America and other countries.

I'm on Break!

Yesterday afternoon at 3:15 I officially went on Christmas Break. Well, the politically correct term is "Winter Break," but you know what I mean!

It took a couple of hours to pick up my kids, run errands, and then--once I got home--mess with the computer. (The weather's been wreaking havoc with everyone's Internet connection, says our ISP rep...afternoons and evenings we've been getting a weak signal to our desktop, and a weak-to-non-existent signal to our laptop.) So I didn't get a chance to really relax until after 5:00 PM.

I've got a long list of to-dos, which I'm actually looking forward to. I'm truly a homebody, and I like doing things around the house, as long as they're not being undone right behind me, or I'm not being constantly interrupted.

Besides the obvious plans of putting the finishing touches on Christmas and New Year's celebrations, I'm hoping to get quite a bit of writing and scanning done. My writing plans include lots of blogging, finishing up lesson plans and syllabuses for several classes I'm teaching in January, and catching up on e-mails. Scanning projects involve my ever-growing collections that need to be digitally preserved, recorded and analyzed, as well as stacks of borrowed family records and documents that need to be returned to their owners soon.

I also look forward to spending time with family. During the school year we four are all scattered at our individual schools and workplaces; it'll be nice, especially, for my husband to see us all before he goes to work, as his work hours are opposite ours. He'll also get some time off, although not as much as we do. I'm looking forward to seeing extended family members as well. My oldest nephew's birthday is this weekend, and we'll all gather once again at Chuck E. Cheese's. My brother is expected to be in town from the west side of the state; we usually only see him during the holidays. Everyone is coming over to my house for Christmas Day, and I'm looking forward to my favorite part: watching the nephews (ages 3, 5, and 9) open their gifts! We'll be spending time with Norm's brother's family as well; we usually meet at their place either Christmas Eve or the day after Christmas for dinner and then gather around in the family room to watch a movie.

Advent Memories No. 19: Christmas Shopping

Christmas Shopping

How did your family handle Christmas Shopping? Did anyone finish early or did anyone start on Christmas Eve?

Most of the Christmas shopping done when I was a girl was via Sears, Roebucks & Co., Montgomery Wards, or occaisionally, Jafco. We always got catalogs for those companies, and my favorite were the Christmas Wish Books. I loved all the dolls and accessories: clothes and bottles, strollers and carriages, cribs, high chairs, clothes.

I suppose that my dad probably bought Mom her Christmas gifts whenever he had to go out of town on business trips for The Salvation Army.

When we moved to Washington, we still used catalogs a lot. In addition to the others, we also had J.C. Penney. Both Sears and Penney had stores in Colville, although the Sears store was more of a delivery and pickup location for the larger store in Spokane.

I always envied the two girls that appeared on the front of the Jafco Christmas catalogs; they were the granddaughters of the CEO, and it always looked like they got everything they wanted for Christmas!

Today, I'm not a big shopper. I don't like malls and crowded stores. My kids can attest that I get very crabby if I have to shop for long (I don't even like grocery shopping!). I try to do a lot of online shopping, and then get in and out of stores with a pre-made list ahead of time. Still, it seems like every year there's always one or two items we end up having to purchase on Christmas Eve!

This post is a part of the "Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories" meme created by Thomas and Jasia. You, too, can write your own Christmas memories, either for your personal journal or blog. Click on their names for the list of topics. To see what others have written, go here.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Blog Caroling: I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas

The footnoteMaven invited us genea-bloggers to go blog caroling. We've been posting favorite carols and sometimes a bit of history to go along with them. The Maven also posted a spectacular Choir of GeneaAngels graphic with links to our blog carols here.

Boy, it's hard picking out a favorite, since I love most Christmas carols, both religious and secular. Also, being a bit late to the game, some of my favorites were already picked. For instance, Craig at GeneaBlogie posted "Silent Night." I've always loved the legend of how the German pastor and church choir director created a song they could play accompanied by a guitar when their church organ was damaged by hungry mice. Additionally, this was the song that briefly stopped World War I...until December 26th, 1914, when indignant officers insisted that the war must go on.

Terry at Hill Country of Monroe County, Mississippi also blogged about another fave of mine, "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day." Although I knew the history behind this song, I forgot that it was written by Longfellow, one of my favorite poets. And then my Salvation Army background gets a boost when I think of "Silver Bells,"
inspired by the imagery of Salvation Army bellringers standing outside department stores during the Christmas season. [1]

What to pick? What to pick? At a school sing-along yesterday, I was reminded of a very favorite Christmas song first introduced by Spokane native Bing Crosby in one of my favorite classic movies, Holiday Inn:

The sun is shining
The grass is green
The orange and palm trees sway.
I've never seen such a day
In Beverly Hills LA.
But it's December the 24th
And I am longing to be up North.

I'm dreaming of a white Christmas
Just like the ones I used to know.
Where the treetops glisten,
And children listen
To hear sleighbells in the snow.

I'm dreaming of a white Christmas
With every Christmas card I write.
May your days be merry and bright
And may all your Christmases be white. [2]

While Bing was born on the west side of the state, he grew up in Spokane and attended Gonzaga University until the siren call of the entertainment industry drew him to California. In fact, when I was pregnant with our son, we used to live across the street from his sister's home in what is now the City of Spokane Valley. I often wonder if, as Bing sang this song, he thought of snowy days in Spokane, sliding down the hill at Manito Park or skiing up at Mount Spokane?

[1] Wikipedia contributors, "Silver Bells," Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, (accessed December 19, 2007).

[2] Berlin, Irving. "White Christmas." Lyrics. White Christmas, single. Decca Records, 1942. Lyrics007, (accessed 17 December 2007).

Adopted Son Finds Birth Work

Both the Grand Rapids Press and the Muskegon Chronicle--newspapers from my ancestral cities in Michigan--carried this story, and no wonder! It's one of those "truth is stranger than fiction" stories, and does it ever have an ending that will warm your heart!

For years, Steve Flaigg, an adoptee, had searched for his birth mother. Come to find out, she turned up to be a co-worker he had known for several months. Go here to read the rest of the story.

This article has a personal connection for me. It mentions the D.A. Blodgett Home, an institution that figures largely in my family history. When my maternal grandfather's mother became ill and had to be institutionalized, several of his siblings were placed in the Blodgett Home for a while until after she died and their father remarried (he and another brother were placed in relatives' homes). Also, this was the place where my paternal grandmother and her brother were dropped off after their non-custodial father removed them from their mother's home in east Michigan. They lived there for just a short time before being fostered out and eventually adopted by two families in the same small west Michigan town.

UPDATE: This article reoports that Flaigg and his birth mother, Christine Talladay, will be featured on several morning television shows, including NBC's Today show Thursday morning and perhaps Fox's Fox and Friends on Friday morning.

The 38th Carnival of Genealogy is Posted

"The New Millennium" is the topic of the 38th Carnival of Genealogy, which Jasia has just posted over at Creative Gene. Were you Y2K ready? How did you ring in 2000? Someday our great-grandchildren will be wondering; have you written about this event for your descendants?

Fourteen genea-bloggers share their stories in this carnival. As usual, they offer a variety of experiences and unique perspectives on this event. My post on this topic is "The Midkiff Family: Y2K Ready."

The topic for the 39th Carnival of Genealogy will be "New Year's Resolutions." Jasia writes, "As the year winds to a close in the next couple weeks it's a good time to review the progress made in our genealogy research and to make a plan for next year. So what did you accomplish last year and what road blocks did you encounter? What are your research goals for next year and how do you resolve to attain them?" The deadline will be January 1st, and can be submitted here.

Advent Memories No. 18: Christmas Stockings

Christmas Stockings

Did you have one? Where did you hang it? What did you get in it?

While I may have had a stocking when I was very little, I don't remember it. When I was in early elementary school, my parents started having us celebrate the Dutch tradition of putting out our klompen, wooden shoes, on St. Nicholas Eve, December 5th. In the morning, there would be candy and small gifts. I have continued this tradition with my own children. They use my old klompen. St. Nicholas ordered these from the wooden shoe factory in Holland, Michigan, and all of our family got them. We got several pair over the years. Some pair we received were plain, unvarnished ones, and they all have been worn out and discarded, as we would actually use them for walking around in the muddy barnyard. That was the original purpose of wooden shoes; the decorative ones are generally only used for St. Nicholas Day.

One year, St. Nicholas brought my brother and I Raggedy Andy and Ann dolls. He must have been about 18 months old, and I would have been almost 9. I think that a lot of the children's books I have about the Netherlands as well as fiction books by Dutch authors were brought by the good saint, too. When I was a teenager, St. Nicholas brought me a makeup kit, and another time he brought me a favorite aerobic dance album. For years, he brought Mom a delft Christmas plate, always featuring a handpainted Dutch church on it. One year, he brought my family a beautiful chiming wall clock with a delft face and brass hands, complete with weights and pendulum. We always felt so proud of our Dutch heritage on St. Nicholas Day!

This post is a part of the "Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories" meme created by Thomas and Jasia. You, too, can write your own Christmas memories, either for your personal journal or blog. Click on their names for the list of topics. To see what others have written, go here.

Monday, December 17, 2007

2nd Cabinet of Curiosities Carnival is Posted

The 2nd Cabinet of Curiosities Carnival is posted at Tim Abbott's Walking the Berkshires. This blog carnival highlights various interesting and bizarre objects that bloggers have collected, some from their ancestors' pasts, others from the modern era. There are 13 submissions to this carnival, and do they ever look interesting!

My own submission was about the buttonhook of my husband's great-great-grandmother, posted here.

For next month's carnival (submission deadline: January 19th), Tim suggests that we look at our Christmas trees to see if we find a curiosity to share. What about you? Do have an unusual keepsake to write about?

Genealogy Search Engine Upgrade at MyHeritage Research

I received the following message from MyHeritage Research:
MyHeritage Research, the genealogy search engine on, has been significantly upgraded this week. This genealogy tool specializes in finding ancestors and advancing your family research. There is nothing else quite like it on the Internet. It is free and you're invited to use it on this link.

MyHeritage Research now searches across more than 10 billion records to provide you the most extensive genealogy searches available anywhere on the Internet, and it's free. This week we've released version 2.0, adding hundreds of new genealogy databases to its coverage. So even if you've tried it in the past, you're encouraged to use our new version, as you're likely to find more results.

To use MyHeritage Research, click [here]. In the search form, enter the last name you are researching, or a combination of a first name and last name. MyHeritage Research will then search for it in 1,400 genealogy databases and Websites on the Internet that cannot be searched by regular search engines like Google. Searches can look for an exact spelling, or multiple spelling variations (we call this Megadex). Because of the sheer extent of this search engine, some searches may take several minutes to complete. This search engine is particularly useful if you are researching a rare last name, or an uncommon combination of a first name and last name.

We also have good news for anyone interested in Jewish Genealogy. Thanks to our new collaboration with JewishGen, the top Website for Jewish genealogy, we've been able to add a JewishGen All-in-one search to MyHeritage Research. So searches on MyHeritage Research will now include almost all JewishGen databases, a feature not available anywhere else on the Web.

If you would like to share success stories, or send requests for covering additional sites in MyHeritage Research, or have bugs to report, please use our support forum available here. We appreciate all feedback.

What's next? Here at MyHeritage, we're constantly working hard to bring you new tools for advancing your genealogy hobby. We've recently developed a breakthrough - Smart Matching technology which connects family trees submitted by our users. Stay tuned for exciting information about this very soon.


MyHeritage team

Advent Memories No. 17: Christmas Church Services

Christmas Church Services

Did your family attend religious services during the Christmas season? What were the customs and traditions involved?

This is a beautiful nativity set I purchased a few years ago.
I've always wanted a nice one with all the traditional "players,"
and this was just perfect!

Because my parents were ministers for many years, every Christmas of my childhood was connected with church, and I grew up knowing the "reason for the season."

My very earliest Christmas church memory was of when I was not quite three years old, Christmas 1969. My mother wrote to her parents:
The Christmas program was held this morning at the Annette Protestant Chapel [at Annette Coast Guard Base in Southeast Alaska]. Miriam was one of 3 little angels and the smallest one; as she went out after singing her song, her halo and wings fell off! Bryan and I had a hard time to keep from laughing.
We angels had a song to sing and I used to remember what it was, but can't now for the life of me! I want to say it was "Angels We Have Heard On High," but I know that is not right. Too bad Mom didn't write down what it was!

As I got older, I loved to be in Christmas pageants that were held almost every year at The Salvation Army church I grew up in, and liked playing the part of Mary or the Angel.

One of the things we did after my brother was born was to have a birthday cake at home for the Baby Jesus as part of our Christmas celebration. Part of the reason of celebrating St. Nicholas Day was to have the emphasis on gifts be on a different day than the spiritual celebration.

For awhile we attended a Presbyterian church and we always had advent candles lit, another tradition I enjoy.

After we moved to Washington and I was a teen, we often attended Midnight Mass with our neighbor. I've always loved going to church around Christmas!

This post is a part of the "Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories" meme created by Thomas and Jasia. You, too, can write your own Christmas memories, either for your personal journal or blog. Click on their names for the list of topics. To see what others have written, go here.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Meme: Where Were You During the Censuses? Part 2

Finding out where family members were living during the census years is intriguing to me, and I thought I'd query my husband as to his whereabouts during those years. He's ten years older than I, so his first appearance was in the 1960 census; that is, if his parents participated in them. I've no reason to think they didn't, so he should appear in every census taken during his lifetime:
  • *1960 - Norm would have been 3, living with his parents (father: 26; mother: 27) and younger brother, age 9 months in Outlook, Yakima County, Washington.
  • *1970 - the family, which by then included his 36-year-old dad, his 37-year-old mother, his almost 11-year-old brother, a six-year-old sister, and another brother, 4 1/2, lived in the Fruit Valley neighborhood of Vancouver, Clark County, Washington. Norm was 13. The following year, the family moved to the same neighborhood--but not the same house--where his parents live today.
  • *1980 - He was attending college and living in an apartment near the courthouse in Vancouver.
  • *from 1990 through 2005, the census data is the same as mine.
I think I'll go e-mail my parents and ask them about their census year residences (1950 and 1960) before they were married and started a family.