Thursday, August 30, 2007

Stay Tuned...

Last Sunday, at Scanfest, I mentioned to Jasia that I never seem to run out of ideas to blog about, but I do run out of time to get them written in an efficient manner. For instance, right now I have 13 posts sitting in my drafts folder, with another 3 or 4 ideas in my head. Let's not even talk about my AnceStories2 blog, which I've sadly neglected, but for which I have half a dozen posts started as well!

I had hoped to get the next "issue" in the story of my great-grandfather's service in the American North Russian Expeditionary Forces (ANREF) posted early this week. Then a little matter sprang up in the online genealogy world and I was busy keeping my readers updated on that!

So the last two afternoons and evenings I've done more research on that next ANREF post...but the more I research I do and information I uncover, the more I want to know! Oh, yeah, I also want to participate in the next Carnival of Genealogy, too!

Stay tuned...!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Another Must-Visit Website: Shoestring Genealogy

With my new layout and then the hubbub over the situation, you may not have noticed that I have added another site to my Must-Visit Websites area (left-hand sidebar). "Shoestring Genealogy focuses on lowering the costs of research and raising the quality of information obtained," according to their mission statement. As a family historian and genealogist by avocation, I am always looking for prudent ways to cut my expenses without decreasing the quality of my research. There is a wealth of treasure on this site, from links to free forms, presentations, chat rooms, and tips, just to skim the surface. Dae Powell has done a wonderful job with the content, as well as designing a fantastic new look to the site (for us Firefox users, this site works best with Internet Explorer). Dae also created--at my request for something that would fit my blog's sidebar and stand out--the beautiful linking graphic that you see under "Must-Visit Websites."

I was honored that Dae awarded me the GENTREK Seal of Approval, even though I had never heard of GENTREK before! I learned that it "is a special teaching chat that presents a different genealogy topic every week to help you along your GENealogy TREK." The topics are listed in alpha order, by author, and by presentation date, for ease of navigation. Don't they look interesting?

There are a lot of fabulous resources at these sites, and I encourage you to browse around. As my friend Donna Potter Phillips says, "if you don't spend at least a half-an-hour on a new site, you are missing things!"

Tuesday, August 28, 2007 Copyright Violations?

(Updates to this issue appear at the bottom of this post.)

There's a bit of a hubbub in the genea-blogging world today, if you haven't noticed. Seems that has spidered and cached many genealogy websites and blogs and posted excerpts of their content and thumbnails of their home pages to their Internet Biographical Collection database. And that has a lot of genea-bloggers (and possibly genealogy site webmasters) a bit upset. The content of many of those blogs and sites are covered by copyright, and are not to be quoted or copied in any manner by those who will profit from them, without permission. At first, it seems, this database was only available to those who had a subscription to Ancestry. It appears that later today, it was changed to a free database.

That may cover Ancestry legally for its use of content (text); but it may not cover it for its use of images. For instance, my website, also named AnceStories, was created with free background images. However, I had to obtain the image creators' permissions, in several cases, to use those graphics. The artists were very clear that those images could not be resized or reused in any way, for any purpose, without permission. So a thumbnail of my website's home page posted on another site could possibly be in violation of those terms of use, even if Ancestry doesn't profit from it.

This all seems a bit hard to swallow considering two things happening just in the past four months:
  • * Ancestry demanded that Michael John Neill remove the images of census, draft cards and ships manifest lists of famous people from his blog, saying it violated their licensing agreement (links here and here). Never mind that this was giving Ancestry great publicity--and more importantly--Michael had received previous staff's permission to do so.
  • * Ancestry threatened legal action against (by the same creators of well-known genealogy website, saying they could not use the word "ancestry" as part of their URL. This site listed databases that were available for free on Ancestry, either permanently, or as a part of publicity "gimmicks," so to speak; i.e. military records databases around Veterans Day, or African-American databases during Black History month, etc. Again, the web owner had the previous staff's permission, and again, it was positive, free publicity for Ancestry; a great way to be notified of an opportunity to try out a free database and decide if you wanted to purchase a subscription.
I don't appreciate Ancestry's heavy-handedness in the two cases above. While they may be staying within the letter of the law, is it fair to the genealogical community, one that relies strongly upon the kindness and generosity of others--think Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness, for instance-- to treat people this way? Is it fair, or ethical, or moral after these actions, to turn around and violate people's terms of use or skirt around possible copyright infringements? What do you think?

I first read about all this from Amy Crooks of Untangled Family Roots. She's been followed by Kimberly Powell of Genealogy, Janice Brown of Cow Hampshire, Becky Wiseman of kinexxions, Chris Dunham of The Genealogue, and Randy Seaver of Genea-musings. I'll update this list as necessary.

By the way, Janice has a list of the blogs she's found in this cache, and I added to it in the comments.

UPDATE: (Tuesday, 28 Aug 2007) Susan Kitchens of Family Oral History Using Digital Tools has a hilarious parody of Ancestry's home page here. Be sure to scroll down to see an enlarged view of this graphic!

UPDATE #2: (Wednesday, 29 Aug 2007) Late last night and this morning I read with interest more bloggers' opinions on this subject: Jasia of Creative Gene, Dick Eastman of Eastman's Online Genealogical Newsletter, Denise Olson of Family Matters, Craig Manson of GeneaBlogie, Lori Thornton of Smoky Mountain Family Historian, Steve Danko of Steve's Genealogy's Blog, Bill West of West in New England all had interesting points to make, and not necessarily were all in agreement (which makes for a good and lively discussion, I think!). There may be more genea-bloggers out there who've made points on this hot topic, but these were all the ones that are on my Google Reader. If you or someone you know has blogged about this, please leave a comment or contact me (my e-mail address is listed in my profile; link in right-hand sidebar).

(Another blogger who posted on this topic on this day was Schelley
Talalay Dardashti from Tracing the Tribe.)

UPDATE #3 (The Storm Rages On): (Wednesday, 28 Aug 2007) For those of my readers who are not already genea-bloggers and thus may not have be aware of the lastest updates, here are additional posts on this hot topic written by some of the aforementioned bloggers: Kimberly Powell at Genealogy, Becky Wiseman at kinexxions; Randy Seaver at Genea-Musings; Amy Crooks at Untangled Family Roots; and Craig Manson of GeneaBlogie. It's also interesting to read the many comments posted by the readers of Dick Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter and Dick, himself, to his two posts, "The Generations Network Receives Patent for Correlating Genealogy Records" and "Internet Biographical Collection is Free at". There are also many comments at Ancestry's blog, 24-7 Family History Circle on the post, "Internet Biographical Information is Free at Ancestry."

In addition, I found more on this topic at these posts: Jessica Oswalt at Jessica's Genejournal, Leland Meitzler of Genealogy Blog, and Pat Richley of DearMYRTLE: Your Friend in Genealogy. Ol' Myrt brings up a valid point about the "Numbers Game," that is definitely worth reading.

UPDATE #4 (Resolution...for the time being): (Wednesday, 29 Aug 2007) has removed its Internet Biographical Collection, for now. See their 24-7 Family History Circle blog here (don't forget to read the comments).

The following genea-bloggers had their response as well. I encourage you to read them, because some of these contain interesting facts and intriguing analogies:
UPDATE #5 (More genea-bloggers weigh in): (Thursday, 30 Aug 2007) I found a few more responses to the IBD furor/removal this morning:
And you really should go over and read Tim Agazio's non-commentary on the situation, "So, What's New in the Genealogy World?" It's quite amusing.

Thank you to whomever informed me that I had a bad link to Becky Wiseman's kinexxions blog in yesterday's Update #4. Sheesh...she's gotten the brunt of my poor memory (I listed her as Becky Phend earlier this week) and spelling mistakes (thus the bad link) these last few days.

UPDATE #6: (Thursday, 30 Aug 2007) I forgot to add another response to the IBD issue this morning. Actually, there are two by GeneaBlogie author, Craig Manson, here and here. I read with interest that Craig, a law and public policy professor, has been having conversations about this matter with his colleagues, and will be posting a series on his blog about the legal issues involved. Stay tuned!

New Look for AnceStories

To my delight, I realized that I did not have to attend the training at my school district that I had signed up for today, because they are courses for standards I've already achieved. I'm relieved because I was up too late last night to pick up my daughter from a youth group activity, and six hours of sitting yesterday had wiped me out! This gave me another morning to work on my blogs and another afternoon to prepare my home and family for back to school.

You've probably noticed the slightly different look of the blog today. I found a layout for three columns for this template at Blogcrowds. Changing the layout didn't take long...adding back my widgets, ads and links took much longer. Fortunately, I thought to save all the coding for these to Notepad ahead of time, or I'd be gnashing my teeth!

I'm hoping with the graphics and ads on the left and the text links on the right, it won't look quite so visually overwhelming, and perhaps be easier to navigate.

New features include my "Popular Posts of 2007," found in the right sidebar under "Blog Archives." I've got links to the posts that had the most hits for each month this year, for easy finding. I've also added icons for quick bookmarking and RSS feed at the top of the right sidebar. My Categories are no longer in drop-down menu style, but in a list, with the hopes that some of my surnames will catch readers' eyes. I'm now an affiliate for; be sure to check out their great books for sale to build your home library (see second banner ad on the left sidebar)!

Monday, August 27, 2007

Nice Matters!

I received a very nice message from Francis of Caught in the Stream that he had nominated me (and others) for the Nice Matters Award. I am so honored, Francis: honored that you chose me for the award, and honored that you think I'm a nice person (I'm sure my teens could set you straight on that one)!

I decided that I would post this at both this and my personal blog, &Etc., and nominate fellow bloggers from both blogging worlds.

So first up I nominate Jasia of Creative Gene and Creative Genealogy. A genuinely nice person, she recently made my day by posting some links to some great Dutch and Scottish digital scrapbooking pages...they're beautiful! I haven't even tried my hand at digital scrapbooking, and I'm just in love with them! Except when she's getting her e-mail account at Yahoo! hacked, Jasia always has something nice to say! ;-)

Secondly, I am nominating both Colleen of The Oracle of OMcHodoy and Craig of GeneaBlogie for being nice enough to join us at Scanfest yesterday, and bringing two new "faces" to our group. (See Craig, I told you I'd get you a prize!) Besides, they have two genuinely nice blogs which I enjoy reading as often as they post.

Next is Randy of Genea-Musings; I really like how he has chosen different posts from various blogs each week to highlight. It's a nice way to get others to go visit blogs they might be unaware of. Randy's always got nice things to say about other blogs.

And certainly not least, I nominate Becky of kinnexions, who was so nice to share in detail her experiences at the FGS Conference with those of us who couldn't attend. I'm sure she was the only genea-blogger out there doing so. Reading about the conference made me want to attend the next one!

Oh, and gentleman, in case you don't want to post this pink girly-looking award on your blog, there's a nice masculine one available as well:

Actually, everyone on my "Blogroll" could easily be up for nomination. After all, why on earth would I link to a mean person's blog! ;-) But I tried to keep it short, and also be nice to the ones who don't enjoy participating in memes or meme-like activities (you know who you are!). The idea is to spread it around a bit.

August Scanfest Report

Yesterday saw some new Scanfesters for a terrific three-hour session of scanning and chatting using Windows Live Messenger. Colleen of The Oracle of OMcHodoy and Craig of GeneaBlogie were our newbies, and it was so nice to "meet" them online and get a chance to know them a little better. Craig also has the added distinction of being our first male Scanfester--I think he deserves a door prize or booby prize or something! Jasia of Creative Gene and Amy of Untangled Family Roots rounded out our party.

Colleen was working on her aunt's scrapbook that contained photos which were 50 to 100 years old, she estimates. Unfortunately, some had adhered to the paper in the scrapbook over time and she was afraid of damaging them. We discussed possible solutions and recommended she consult a pro. Craig was scanning ancestral death certificates from Missouri and Texas and court documents from Georgia. He informed me that death certificates in Texas are fairly easy to obtain, and are not too expensive, at $20 each; good to know, as I'm considering purchasing my grandfather's. Jasia was scanning her aunts' and uncles' wedding albums from the 1940s and her mother's 8th grade graduating class photo from parochial school. She said that none of the classmates' names were labeled, and we talked about how fast these things are lost to the past! And I continued to scan my black and white wedding photos taken by a freelance photographer friend of ours, in anticipation of creating a Wedding Memory Book for my kids through MemoryPress. I'm also ensuring they'll last longer by removing them from a "magnetic page" photo album.

(My last few minutes as a Robbins)

All in all, it was a very pleasant time spent, and I hope to see everyone back, plus more new "faces" next time! Our September Scanfest will be held Sunday, September 30th from 11 AM - 2 PM, Pacific Daylight Time.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Genea-Google-ology and the Search for a Detroit Sailor's Family

Discover Navy Widows' Certificates.

Google has wonderful bells and whistles that are of immense value to us "geneahistorians." I like to call them Genea-Google-ology Tools! Have you tried Google Alerts? You can be alerted with a message sent to your e-mail inbox every time your surname of interest (or other keyword or phrase) shows up on the Internet!

For instance, every time any of the words midkiff, sweers, tuinstra, valk, or westaby show up online, I get a handy-dandy e-mail letting me know, along with a link to that site. The above surnames are some of the more unusual ones in my husband's and my ancestries. You can also choose a phrase (put your search terms within quotation marks) or a combination of words (use the plus [+] key). I have genealogy+michigan as another alert, which searches for both words (not necessarily together) on a website or blog. You can control where your results come from, too: news, blogs, web, groups, or comprehensive (all).

You can also tweak your alerts a bit, by narrowing your results using the minus ( - ) key. Using only tuinstra as a search term, I was getting links to dozens of articles written by well-known journalist Fons Tuinstra, stationed in China. I changed my alert to tuinstra -fons to get better hits. I was also getting a lot of hits for a Joost Valk that did not apply to my genealogy, so again, I made a change to valk -joost. I still get some unconnected hits, but they have decreased in volume considerably.

"So how do I set up Google Alerts for myself?" you may be asking. Go here to begin. As far as I can tell, you do not need a Google account or Gmail address to set up an alert. The process is fairly simple, and once you sign up, you should start receiving alerts soon. As a matter of fact, you can control how frequently you receive these alerts, too: once a day, as it happens, or once a week. And you can edit your alerts at any time!

This morning, I received an alert on my genealogy+michigan search terms, and was linked to a blog, which in turn linked to an article from the Detroit Free Press, which told of the search for the family of a Detroit sailor who went down in a submarine with 70 others, off the Aleutian Islands of Alaska during World War II. Seems like the submarine, the USS Grunion, has possibly been found (it was located, but then was "lost" again); but the family of Navy Seaman Second Class Byron A. Traviss has not. Searchers are hoping to discover his family's whereabouts before the sub's location is found again.

Readers are encouraged to make contact if they know of the whereabouts of the Traviss family.

A Different Kind of Family

Read original ratified Indian treaties.

This really doesn't have anything to do with genealogy, but this morning my dad instant messaged me about an article in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer that he knew I'd be interested in.

A new totem pole was dedicated at The Center for Wooden Boats...a 24-foot pole that was carved by five young carvers (including at least one girl) from my hometown of Klawock, Alaska, to return the favor of a gift to a man who had created a canoe to honor the community where his wife once lived. These teens were trained by none other than my "Indian brother," Jon Rowan, a master carver and teacher at my childhood community. A celebration involving other Tlinget communities, as well as Haida, Tshimshian (both also from Alaska) and Duwamish (Washington state) tribes, took place yesterday as the pole was raised into position. Each figure on the pole tells part of a story, and I'm sorry to say there aren't better photos of the pole, nor was their anything really written about the story behind it. According to what I can tell, the top figure is a wolf, the next-to-the bottom figure is a killer whale, and the middle figure is holding a canoe.

The article is located here, and there is a photo gallery link you can click on (photo 9 includes a shot of Jon). The Heenya Kwan dancers are the troupe from Klawock. When I was in elementary school, I was a part of this group and had a beautiful black-and-red button dress and blanket made by Jon's grandmother. In ancient times, the buttons were made of abalone shells, but now they are purchased plastic pearly-colored buttons. I also had a headband that I had beaded myself with blue, red, black and white seed beads. (I'll try to find a photo later and add it to this post). Looking at these photos, I can hear the drum beating and I know which native Tlinget songs are being sung. The last sentence of the article mentions one of my favorite treats: smoked salmon. Yum! If I had known this celebration was taking place, I would have made an effort to take the 6-hour drive over to Seattle to be present!

My family was "adopted" into the Tlinget community, with my father being a Raven and my mother and siblings and I being Eagles. Jon, his mother and his siblings were also Eagles, so we were considered siblings, too. It's a complicated sort of family structure, created--no doubt--to prevent incest by the ancient ancestors of the Southeast Alaskan natives. In the old days, the tribe was divided into two clans, the Raven (who has supernatural powers) and Eagle (his friend). There are also sub-clans. For instance, the Wolf is a sub-clan of the Raven, and the Killer Whale is a sub-clan of the Eagle (my blanket had killer whales on the back of it). You could not marry another person of the same clan; it was considered incest, no matter how far apart you may have been related. In this matriarchal society, the children of a couple were considered to be members of the mother's clan, and her brothers and male cousins would take on the father's role and help to raise her children. Her husband, meanwhile, would instruct and care for his sisters' and female cousins' children.

Chiefdom was passed on to the nephew on the sister's side, rather than from father to son. And the tribe had its own form of Social Security: old widowed people were married off to young men and women, who were young and strong enough to care for their elderly spouses. When their spouses died, they could pick someone of their own choice (provided their spouse wasn't of the same clan), knowing that when they were old and alone, a strong, healthy teen would be assigned to care for them in their elder years. Of course this system was obsolete by the time we arrived in Klawock in February 1971.

One of the things I think my father enjoyed the most about being a minister to this community was his visitation duties: checking on the sick and elderly, he loved to sit for hours at a time (which was considered proper and respectful) and listen to the old people--who still could speak the native language--tell the old legends in halting English and describe how life in the village used to be. One elder told my father of the three wives he had had during his lifetime (I just checked the Social Security Death Index, and he was born in 1900). The first wife was an elder, and he cared for her when he was young. The second wife was a woman he fell in love with from his own clan. He married her, but the elders came and took her away from him. He always referred to her as the "wife I loved." After this, he found a woman from the other clan. I've always thought this was a tragically romantic story!

See the actual check the U.S. gave to Russia for payment of Alaska, in American Milestone Documents (free)!

Friday, August 24, 2007

Scanfest is Coming!

This Sunday, August 26th, is my last before I head back to work for the school year. It's also Scanfest day! From 11 AM to 2 PM, Pacific Daylight Time, I'll be on Windows Live Messenger, available to chat with anyone else who would like to join me to scan, tag, file, or sort their precious family documents and photographs.

I've gotten quite a bit scanned over the last few months since we've started this event. I started off with the Family Record Book of my great-grandparents, John Martin HOEKSTRA and Lillian Fern STRONG, then worked on the journal of my grandfather, Adrian DeVRIES. Lately, I've been scanning my wedding photos for an eventual Wedding Memory Book to be published by MemoryPress. I think it will make a nice keepsake for my kids when I finally get it done.

Seems like no matter how much I get scanned, there's always a huge pile waiting...this even though I haven't ordered many records this year (my focus this year has been more on documenting and citing what I do have, rather than obtaining more). I'll bet you've got piles of photos and documents that need scanning, too! Won't you join me? (P.S. You don't have to be a blogger!)

Here are the details:
You'll need a Hotmail or Gmail account, and Windows Live Messenger downloaded to your computer (Mac users go here to download Microsoft Messenger for Mac). Although WLM states that it is compatible with Yahoo! e-mail accounts, we have had difficulty adding Yahoo! users to our chat conversations. Once you have gotten set up, send me an e-mail (see my profile in the right-hand menu) and I'll add you to our chat list. You'll receive an invitation message from me in the e-mail account that you've set up for Messenger, and will need to verify that I can add you as a contact. My Messenger account is identical to my Gmail account, except that it's "".

If you have any questions, be sure to e-mail me (again, see my profile for that address). See you Sunday!

The Last Bell - The Country Schools of Stevens County, Washington

As an alumnus of the Colville (Washington) School District, Leland Meitzler's post today, over at Genealogy Blog, caught my eye. He's got a book review about The Last Bell, written by Alpha Naff. Originally published in 1984, it was reprinted in 2005, and "deals with public education at the turn of the century in Northeast Washington – the 'country schools' of Stevens County." Reading the table of contents of the old one-room schools was like coming home. My parents live off Aladdin Road and the old Aladdin Schoolhouse is now a private home, just a few stones' throw down the mountain. In fact, when I was a teenager in the '80s, we had some elderly neighbors whose kids had attended that school in the '60s. No school buses in those days, they had simply walked the three miles literally down the mountain and back every day, taking shortcuts through the woods until they reached the old logging roads that are now part of the county road system.

Only last week, while on vacation up in the Colville National Forest, I had passed two other former schoolhouses, the Addy Schoolhouse, now the Old Schoolhouse Trading Post (a combination convenience store and museum) and the Tiger Highway Schoolhouse (abandoned; although not long ago it was a private home).

Today the 107 schoolhouses of Stevens County have been abandoned, destroyed, or used for other purposes, and six school districts cover the county, the largest being Colville School District. The district's bus routes cover an amazing distance guess is that the average is a 25-mile trip--one way-- over mountain roads with the city being the hub of the circle. We never had a snow day in all the years I can remember, even though it was often an iffy three-mile trip down to the bus stop over ice and many inches of snow! (Hmm, I'm thinking Apple can appreciate this!)

I've got a lot of connections to this district; besides myself, my brother and sister also graduated from this district, and our dad, nearing retirement, begins his 29th school year as a staff member this fall. This book looks like it would make a great gift for my family members; I know I certainly will enjoy it! If you have Stevens County ancestors who lived in the area between 1875 to 1930, I'm sure it will make a nice addition to your home library. Besides, a purchase of this book will benefit the Northeast Washington Genealogical Society!

The SWEERS Connection

Find your ancestors in Revolutionary War Rolls.

Before I left for vacation two weeks ago, I received an e-mail from a lady named Nancy, who coincidentally hails from Yakima, Washington, just a three-hour drive from my hometown. Nancy has been chasing the HILT family all over Maine and Massachusetts, she says, and she found my record of Peter HILT who married Margaret ZWIERS on my WorldConnect database at RootsWeb.

First off, if you aren't familiar with WorldConnect, it is a place at RootsWeb where you can upload your family tree database in GEDCOM format. Information on living persons is automatically "cleaned" from viewers on the Internet, for privacy's sake. As a submitter of my GEDCOM, I can use my database as a backup file in the event of a computer crash, home fire, natural disaster, etc. and download a copy of my entire GEDCOM back into my computer in the event that it is necessary. Did I mention this is free, as is everything on RootsWeb?

One of the nifty features of WorldConnect--and this feature is also available at many of the other databases at RootsWeb--is the ability to add Post-ems. Say that you, like Nancy, were searching for Peter HILT and you found him on my WorldConnect database. When you click on his file, you can then click on the "Add Post-em" link near the top of the page. You will then be prompted to register for a free member account, if you don't already have one and are signed in. Next you will be able to leave a Post-em; think of it as an electronic sticky note. This will include your name, e-mail address, and a short message, such as "Hi, I'm researching this individual, too!" or "I have records that show a different death date for this individual." You can leave the URL and title of your website or blog, if you wish, and then create a password for security's sake. After you click the "post" button, an e-mail will be sent to me, and we can connect further, if we desire.

Anyway, back to my SWEERS family. From my research, I knew that a Daniel ZWIERS, a Palatine born in Germany, immigrated to the U.S. on the galley Ann, where he landed in Philadelphia on 27 September 1746. Then I have no more record of him until 1762, when he and his wife Margery join the First Church of Lancaster, Worcester Co., Massachusetts on June 18th. He and his family lived in the Lancaster area until his death in 1779. Thus far, I've been able to determine that he and Margery had at least six children: Jacob, Daniel Jr., Margaret (who married Peter HILT), Barbara (who married William SHAW), Peter, and a son who was "killed with a cart" in Lancaster on 30 April 1765.

Jacob, Peter, and Daniel Jr. (my ancestor) all served in the Revolution; the first two for Massachusetts, and Daniel for Vermont. In fact, I've recently found Daniel in the Revolutionary War Rolls at Footnote (more on that another time). I've been able to trace this family all through New England, New York, Ontario and into Michigan, as the name has evolved from ZWIERS to ZWEARS, then SWEARS and finally, SWEERS. But what has puzzled me was that 19-year gap from Daniel Sr.'s arrival in Philadelphia until his appearance in Lancaster. And why Lancaster? It was a Puritan stronghold, and to my knowledge, no Palatines were in the area. Where in the Palatine did Daniel and Margery hail from? I haven't been able to find them in histories of Palatine immigrants. Nancy may have the answers.

She sent me copies of pages from the book, Broad Bay Pioneers: 18th Century German-Speaking Settlers of Present-Day Waldoboro, Maine by Wilford W. Whitaker and Gary T. Horlacher. I found a long history of the HILT family, as well as a short mention of the ZWIERS family, stating that the name "Zwier" was an occupational surname, "meaning a member of a two person group in court or other official duties." According to this book, the original spelling was "Zweier." Hmmm...I know just enough German to know that Zwier and Zweier would have two distinct pronunciations--zhveer and zhvy-er, respectively--so I wonder about the accuracy of this.

The book continues that the ZWIERS family's origins in Germany are unknown and that Daniel apparently arrived in Boston on 9 November 1751 on the Priscilla, coming to Broad Bay later. Broad Bay Plantation was a settlement founded in 1748 by German immigrants from the Rheinland area (the present-day Rheinland-Pfalz [also known as Rhineland-Palatinate] area of Germany is the home of the Palatines). The settlement is now known as Waldoboro, Lincoln Co., Maine.

Daniel's daughter Margaret is listed, with a birthdate that I did not have, as well as a child of Margaret and Peter's, and some information on grandchildren of this couple. The children I had in my database as being the offspring of Peter and Margaret actually turn out to be children of Peter and his second wife, Anna Margaretha Löbensaler, whom he married in early 1768 (giving me a probable death date of 1767 for Margaret ZWIERS).

There is also information on another possible son of Daniel and Margery, born about 1751. This cannot be the same as the unknown son who died in 1765 in Lancaster, as the former was married with children who were born in 1779 and 1787.

There's a Daniel ZWAUR who signs a petition in Broadbay in 1788. This cannot be Daniel ZWIERS, I, as he died in Lancaster in 1779. It could be his son, my ancestor, Daniel ZWEARS, II who has a 17-year gap between records I've found for him as a member of First Church in Lancaster in 1773 and his appearance on the 1790 Federal Census for Dummerston, Windham Co., Vermont.

Unfortunately, Broad Bay Pioneers has no sources cited for its information, according to Nancy, so it's difficult to determine where the authors got their information and how accurate it is. It does provide me with some possible answers to my questions, especially informing me that there was a settlement of German Protestants in New England at the time my ZWIERSes were living in the area. Maine was considered a part of Massachusetts in those days, and it wasn't unusual for people to move back and forth between those two areas.

A couple of theories I've since developed with this information that will bear further investigation include:
  • 1. My Daniel ZWIERS first came to what is now the U.S. in 1746 on the galley, Ann, to Philadelphia without his wife and children. He worked to save money to bring the rest of the family over, returning to Germany to fetch them, and arriving on the Priscilla in Broad Bay, Maine in 1751. Later, he moved to Lancaster, Massachusetts in 1762, where he lived for the remainder of his days.
  • 2. The Daniel ZWIERS who appears in Philadelphia is not my ancestor, but another immigrant with the same name. My Daniel does not come to America until 1751, arriving in Broad Bay.
This information excites me, because this family is one of my few colonial families that does not already have a published history. It's much more fun to do the research yourself than to discover that the history has been done to death, as what has happened all-too-frequently in my many Puritan and Pilgrim lines!

P.S. This is only one of two known German ancestral lines that I have. The other is my ENGBRENGHOF line, a family that came from Burgsteinfurt, Westfalen to the province of Friesland, the Netherlands between 1774 and 1778, and married into my DOLSTRA line there in the village of Marrum, municipality of Ferwerderadeel.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Using Genealogy Message Boards

On Saturday, I taught a computer class to members of the Eastern Washington Genealogical Society on the topic of "Using Genealogy Message Boards." This is a part of our society's educational sessions, in which members learn about genealogy as it relates to the Internet or computers in general. Different members take turns presenting the classes. Most of us are familiar with our topics, but a few have been very brave and chose to teach a subject on which they knew little, for the purpose of educating themselves. In the educational field (my real-life career), we have a saying, that the one who learns most is the one who teaches. True, that!

The classes are presented three times each, on the third Saturday of each month, excepting December, in the Gates Computer Lab of our public library, downtown branch. Each session can seat up to 15 people at the computer stations, with room in the back for those willing to simply view the overhead on-screen presentation. The classes are normally filled to capacity (summertime attendance has been down a bit, understandably), and since this is a members-only privilege, we've had a number of people join the society in the last couple of years, expressly for the purpose of taking advantage of these classes!

In teaching this class, I have had some experience using message boards, and even am an administrator for the WESTABY, SWEERS, and TUINSTRA boards at RootsWeb/Ancestry (the sites' boards are duplicates of each other). But I realized that I, like probably many of you, do not utilize these boards to my advantage as often as I should. I was also pleasantly surprised several months ago, as I prepared my syllabus, to discover that RootsWeb/Ancestry have streamlined their message boards and made them much more navigable and user-friendly. While The Generations Network, the parent company of these two websites, also owns, I found that the message boards on that site don't have quite the clean and high-tech looks as its sister sites. Nevertheless, the system works well, and is obviously well-used.

I demonstrated how to search the messages boards, reply to existing messages, start a new thread (conversation), and use the various views (thread vs. flat) of the message boards that RootsWeb/Ancestry offer. Both RootsWeb and Ancestry require that you register (for free) in order to leave responses or new threads on the boards; when you attempt to post a message, you'll be prompted to do this. If you already have an Ancestry subscription, you can use your login information instead of registering. Not renewing your Ancestry subscription will not prevent you from utilizing the boards later; you will simply need to create a free registration message board account instead.

Some of the members who attended were not quite sure what a message board was, so right from the beginning, I gave an analogy of a message board's physical counterpart: a bulletin board, on which all the messages relate to a single topic, whether it is a surname, a location, or an interest group (DNA, Civil War, adoption, etc.). Unlike a mailing list, a message board doesn't have to be limited to queries. They can be used to post transcriptions of tombstones, obituaries, Bible records, etc.

A few members also did not know what a mailing list was, so my best analogy was likened to belonging to a genealogy writing club, where a member would send out a query about an ancestor, or location, or topic of genealogical interest, and each member of that club would receive a copy of that message. Someone else brought up a blog (a new idea for many of our members) and I responded that a blog was like a newspaper...informative, but not so interactive as a mailing list or message board. Just as you can write your editor and comment on the content of your local paper, readers of blogs may comment (usually) on the content of a blog. Sometime, I'd like to expand this presentation to include mailing lists and blogs, because I can see that many of our older society members aren't as familiar with these resources as they could be.

If you would like a copy of my syllabus for "Using Genealogy Message Boards," which includes links to many popular, well-used message board sites, please e-mail me (click on "View my complete profile" in the right-hand menu).

Sunday, August 19, 2007

8. To Russia, With Influenza

Read original military documents of the American North Russian Expeditionary Forces.

On Sunday, August 25th, 1918, the troops of the American North Russian Expeditionary Forces entrained at Brookwood, Surrey, in the south of England for Newcastle-on-Tyne to embark on ships headed for Russia. Brookwood is approximately six miles northeast, as the crow flies, of Camp Aldershot, Hampshire, and is the home of a major railway station in that area. The men probably arrived there via a train taken from the North Camp railway station.

In the three weeks that the 339th Infantry had been in England, they had had every military item in their possession replaced and anglicized by the British Expeditionary Command. Everything the American soldiers were issued, whether it was food, uniforms, weapons, or medical supplies, was inferior, inadequate, and of the lowest possible quality. Imagine if your life depended on a rifle that had inaccurate aim, jammed or broke frequently, and had to have a bayonet carried on it at all times, since it was manufactured without a scabbard...especially if your military training had been completed with a different, superior weapon. Imagine eating rations consisting of canned foreign corned beef, seven-year-old frozen Australian rabbit, "M & V" ("meat"--a glob of fat--and vegetables), powdered peas that needed two or three days of soaking in warm water, hard tack (which you couldn't break it with your fist), tea, jam (a concoction of ginger and rhubarb), and unsweetened lime juice. Suppose your medical supplies consisted of iodine, quinine, and laxatives, and your medical corpsmen had been trained mainly in rolling bandages and condoms. Suppose your clothing, while keeping out the cold, having been designed by arctic explorer Ernest Shakleton, was bulky, uncomfortable, and allowed for as much freedom of movement (while under fire) as the Michelin man's outfit. Imagine running on snow and ice in ill-fitting boots with slick soles and heels.

Most of these problems were yet to be discovered by the Americans until after they arrived in Russia. Meanwhile, the troops took the 270-mile train ride north to Newcastle-upon-Tyne in the northeast corner of England, south of the Scottish border, arriving in the late afternoon of the 26th. Here they embarked on three transport ships, the Tydeus, Nagoya, and Somoli, and were accompanied by the Czar carrying Italian and French troops headed for Murmansk. Sometime after midnight on Tuesday the 27th the ships slipped down the Tyne towards the North Sea, nine miles away. Besides the 339th Infantry, the convoy contained the 310th Engineer Regiment (the 1st Battalion), the 337th Ambulance Company, and the 337th Field Hospital. Bryan was aboard the Somali, an illustration of which appears here. At least one of the ships, the Nagoya, had just returned from a trip to India during which an outbreak of the Spanish Influenza occurred. The Nagoya was never quarantined or fumigated before taking on the Americans, and almost immediately the troops on all the ships became ill, Bryan included.

In a statement he wrote in order to obtain a disability pension from the military after the war, Bryan writes:
I had the influenza on the ship Solomimy sailing from New Castle, England to Archangle Russia Which left me in a weakoned condition,

There were precious few medical supplies on board. Those that had been intended to be brought had been purposely discarded on the docks of Newcastle in order to make room for the cases upon cases of whiskey demanded by the British officers.

The convoy had meantime passed between the Shetland Islands and the bulge of Norway, through the Norwegian Sea, rounding the North Cape, and into the Barents Sea. By now, they had entered the White Sea, and it was here that the first death from influenza occurred. Soon those soldiers not too ill to come on deck could see "vestiges of islands of land," part of a 24-by-20-mile delta of the Northern Dvina River which flowed north to deposit its soil in the White Sea. At the entrance of the main channel, the convoy waited for a tug to guide them through the labyrinthine canals. Under the heavily overcast sky, there was nothing to see but miles upon miles of swampland, occasionally broken by stunted pine trees. Passing small hamlets and a small lumbering village, they finally arrived around noon on August 6th at the Port of Archangel (Arkhangelsk), a community of 40,000 strong.

At the docks of nearby Bakaritza, the ships began to unload their cargo, and the sick were moved to a primitive Russian hospital nearby, which filled quickly. Several days later, the Red Cross opened a hospital in Archangel and was also immediately filled. Some of the barracks had to take the overflow. In the month of September alone, 75 men died of influenza. By October, a convalescent hospital was opened in an old Russian sailor's home in Archangel, near the American headquarters.

Members of the 337th Field Hospital had practically no medical training. The conditions were primitive, to say the least. The sick lay dying on stretchers on the floors. The medical corpsmen took turns in shifts, one man watching in case of emergency, the other sleeping on the floor behind a stove. Whenever a patient died, the one would wake the other, and the two men would carry the corpse out to the hallway, to be picked up in the morning by a detail, which would transfer them across the bay to a new American cemetery in Archangel. One can see why Bryan refused to go to the hospital, and conditions there were likely more contagious than elsewhere. After three or four weeks, the epidemic ran its course; nearly 100 young Americans had died, most buried in Archangel, a few at sea on the trip over. Amazingly enough, none of the 337th unit died, although some had been very ill and were a long time convalescing.

Bryan revived soon enough and was immediately sent to the railroad front at Obozerskaya, although it was probably too soon for him to have fully recovered from his illness. We'll pick up with Bryan's adventures there after we hear next from his mother at home.

Other posts in this series:
1. A Polar Bear in North Russia
2. The Family of Angelo and Lula Robbins
3. Bryan and Marie - A WWI Romance
4. Bryan Gets Drafted
5. Basic Training at Camp Custer
6. Getting "Over There"
7. Bryan and King George V
9. A Letter from Mother - 25 Sep 1918
10. A Letter from Father - 7 Oct 1918

Filling in the Holes in My Robbins Family Tree

I mentioned in my last two blogs that I took my laptop with me on my camping trip, and used some of my downtime to input information from my hard files into my database, citing my sources along the way. It was good use of my time, because I didn't have Internet access to distract me from jumping back and forth between inputting data and looking up more records online (I tend to multitask all too often and am quickly distracted). Instead, I added many items to my To-do Lists, which are easily created for each individual in my RootsMagic software. Many of these were reminders to check online vital records indexes, especially for the states of Texas and Florida. A little lightbulb went off in my head when I realized that I had been mistakenly thinking of my Robbins family as Michiganders, instead of as Texans and Floridians. Yes, many of them were born and raised in Michigan, but my paternal grandfather's sisters and one of his brothers moved to Texas as adults, and his other brother moved to Florida. Also, my uncle's (dad's brother) first wife and their children moved to Florida after their divorce. So I had many names of aunts, uncles, and cousins to look up in databases at

Last night and today I have been visiting these databases, aided by Joe Beine's excellent Death Indexes Online and Online Genealogy Records and Resources for quick entrance to the desired online indexes. I'm also using Ancestry's US Public Records Index and US Phone and Address Directories, 1993 - 2002 to find recent addresses for my relatives. I've added quite a bit to my Robbins family tree using the above resources (citing them as I go!), along with photo captions and obituaries found in the scanned pages of my Grandaunt Joyce's scrapbook, which I recently received, and which has been the fount of recent posts on my Great-grandfather Robbins' service in the American North Russian Expeditionary Forces.

I used to be frustrated because I have been brickwalled on my Robbins ancestry at my 4th-great-grandfather, Joseph Josiah Robbins (1820 - 1905), while on many of my other lines, I've been able to zip right back into colonial America or cross the pond to Northern Europe. It has seemed strange that my maiden surname's line suddenly deadends after just a few generations back. But I realized that I really do have a wealth of information on my Robbins family, and in order to break down my brick wall, I need to invest in the time it will take to print up, download, scan, input and cite all the many documents and resources I do have. I've been fairly neglectful in attending to the details of this family, either assuming that I already know everything there is to discover, or being frustrated at the dearth of accessible records for those things I lack information on. Two of the strategies that professional researchers insist work well for breaking down our brick walls include going over and analyzing all the information one already has to discover new clues and determine what information is missing; and researching the collateral lines thoroughly. I'm hoping that my methodical steps will unearth some leads to tearing down my brick wall.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Back Home

We arrived home about 4 o'clock yesterday afternoon, and boy! does it feel good to be back! My own (firm) bed, a (clean) bathroom within the same structure in which I'm sleeping, hot running water, plenty of clean clothes, and the Internet...need I say more?

We did have a good time and I hope to blog more about it on my personal blog, &Etc., after my brother-in-law shares his photos with us. We swam, kayaked, hiked, drove around looking for moose (the guys had a flat tire on the truck the last time out), enjoyed the brilliant stars and meteors late at night from the dock, played Balderdash and Pass the Pig, read, napped, and enjoyed our lazy days. I was able to input a lot of my Robbins info into my RootsMagic database and cite my sources correctly...a good start in the right direction.

I have one more week before I have to return to training and in-service days for the school district, and that next free week looks like it's already pretty full (sigh!). This summer has flown by all too quickly!

It's been enjoyable catching up on all my favorite blogs and reading the latest news and announcements coming from the FGS Conference in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Still catching my breath from unpacking, laundry, and teaching three sessions of a computer class for my genealogical society today, I hope to post more soon.

Thanks to all who visited during my absence. While understandably low this last week, my stats did not bottom out as badly as I had expected. It's definitely good to be back!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Checking In

I'll admit it: I'm addicted to the Internet. I'm sitting here in Colville (the town where I attended high school) in the local McDonald's, enjoying a secure WiFi connection for a nominal fee. Although I've been enjoying the out-of-doors swimming, kayaking, hiking, and going on drives looking for wildlife--particularly moose--for my brother-in-law to shoot with his camera, I finally succumbed to my withdrawals to check my e-mail, Google Reader, and cell phone messages (no cell service up there, either). My 13-year-old son (about as addicted as I am) and I took the 25-minute drive south into town and checked to see if McDonald's had a hotspot. Five minutes later, we were hooked up, and I've been enjoying catching up on some of my favorite genealogy blogs.

I've also been catching up on some real book reading this week. I've been enjoying Kimberly Powell's The Everything Family Tree Book, one I've decided is a must-read for my Beginning Online Genealogy students. I've also started David McCullough's Truman--it's been a tradition for me to read a McCullough book every year when I go to the lake. I've also spent some time going through my many Robbins genealogy file folders and citing my sources. Since I can't be distracted by going online, it's been a good exercise and I've added greatly to my to-do lists on my many Robbins ancestors' and relatives' files for when I get back home.

Well, I promised my son some time on Runescape, so I must go. I look forward to doing more catching up Friday night.

Friday, August 10, 2007

On Vacation

Tomorrow I'll be headed out with the Midkiff Clan for the wilds of Northeast Washington for a week of fun, sun, practical jokes, and late-night sessions of Balderdash! Having no wireless Internet service available, I'll be catching up on a lot of reading and possibly doing some offline blogging on my laptop to post later when we return to civilization.

In the meantime, here's some suggestions for those of you who can't bear to be without their AnceStories fix (ahem!):
  • Go back and read my old posts. I've been genea-blogging since January 16, 2006, albeit at another URL; all the old posts were moved to this blog last winter. See "Blog Archive" in the right-hand menu.
  • Read my journal prompts at AnceStories2: Stories of Me for My Descendants. Start your own blog or journal, if you haven't done so already, and record your stories.
  • Read my other blogs, The Atlas Project or &Etc. There's not a lot on them right now, but they'll give you some other perspectives of my life. For a look at where we're vacationing right now, see the slideshow of last year's vacation on &Etc.
  • I do have quite a lot of my ancestors' biographies on my website. For the pure genealogists out there, no, they don't have citations. They were written for family members from family stories I heard, backed up by documents I found in my early research years. But I've been told they're interesting...! I also have handy forms here.
  • Visit the websites I've created for others: Midkiff: A Family, Town, and Way of Life and The Vorpahls' Website.
  • Visit some of my favorite websites: Find A Grave, Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness, or Footnote.
  • Visit my social networking pages listed on the right: Fuel My Blog, Technorati, StumbleUpon, MyBlogLog, and BlogCatalog. You'll probably see other blogs that capture your interest linked to mine. And please don't forget to visit "My Favorite Genealogy Blog Links" in the right-hand column, especially if you're new to reading genealogy blogs. There are some terrific bloggers with great material that I hope you'll discover.
There, I've listed seven things to do for the seven days that I'll be gone. I can't wait to get back and read all the new posts from my favorite bloggers when I return!

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

What Motivates Us

Two of my "daily must-read" genea-bloggers wrote on different, yet connected, topics today, and I couldn't help but point them out to my readers who might otherwise miss these posts. I believe what both of them have to say reflects a lot on what motivates us as genea-bloggers.

First off, Tim at Genealogy Reviews Online posted "Blogging for Bucks - Genealogy Style." He points out that genea-bloggers have many reasons for blogging, one of which may be to earn a little money while doing something they love. While there may be some readers out there who would disagree with that purpose, I'm not one of them. Many of the professional genealogists publish blogs, and they use them to help out their businesses by posting their speaking schedules or listing the articles they've written for various genealogy magazines. I see no difference between that and having ads on a blog of someone like myself, a genealogist by avocation. Since my motivation has never been to earn tons of money by blogging, I'm not against picking up some spare change here and there, simply because that's not my main focus. I do dislike going to blogs of any type and finding nothing but ads and links; so I'm trying to set up mine so that my ads aren't overwhelming my content (still working on that).

In his article, Tim posts links to some highly successful (non-genealogy) bloggers who have posted some informative tips for increasing readership, as well as lists four lessons he's learned along the way. One of them (#3 - "Plain text ads get more clicks than banner ads") is actually the opposite of my experience. Looking at my reports, I was surprised to see that of all the ads that my readers have clicked, 74% have been banner ads, and only 26% have been text. I'm interested in how those statistics may change over time. And I'm very interested in following the blogs that Tim recommended, not because I want to get rich enough to quit my day job or glory in the numbers of readers I may have; but simply to reach out to more of those who are interested in learning their family history, or who may have started and are stuck because they don't know what to do next. Besides the readers who may be newer to genealogy than I am, I also hope to attract those who are more knowledgeable than I. It's always stimulating and educational to get a comment from someone who has deeper insight or wider experience on a topic, because I like to learn and ponder, too!

Then this afternoon, Jasia of Creative Gene wrote about "A Dilemma of a Different Sort" that she's facing. There is a certain topic of (ahem!) a sensitive nature relating to genealogy that she would like to address in a future series of posts. Trouble is, an innocent couple of posts she wrote several months ago on the history of women's underclothing were bounced by some of her readers' ISP filters, and she's concerned her new topic would do the same, or even drive away some readers. So curious is she on whether this would be offensive--and if so, how much--that Jasia has placed a poll on her blog and requested her readers to vote and/or comment. I voted and left a rather lengthy comment, which I encourage you to read. Jasia's post comes on the heels of the 29th Carnival of Genealogy, the topic of which was "Moral or Legal Dilemmas." The posts submitted to this carnival had depth and wisdom, and may have produced one of the best carnivals thus far. Yet I purposely declined from submitting a post to that particular carnival, because I have some fairly strong opinions on this subject...and I find that the stronger my opinion is on something, the more likely I am to end up with both feet in my mouth (more on that in the next paragraph)! ;-)

I sympathize with Jasia's dilemma, because I know she would like to share some insightful thoughts while considering her readers' feelings. I'm confident she has the wisdom to leave us with something that is both educational and tasteful. I've read enough of Jasia's posts and corresponded with her via e-mail and instant messaging frequently enough that I am positive that her motivation in writing about this subject is for informational purposes only. Unlike myself, who has had to alter or delete two different posts I wrote on impulse that I later repented over, I've yet to find anything Jasia's written that may possibly be construed as offensive. Of course, that's my opinion, and there may be readers out there who have stronger principles or thinner skin than I. What do you think?

So thank you, Tim and Jasia, for giving me a few things to consider this afternoon. I've spent some time pondering why I--and others--blog our genealogy. It really is a whole other hobby, connected, yet separate from our actual research. It takes time away from the research process, yet enriches that very thing from which it subtracts, by causing us to analyze, synthesize, and refine our research; by educating and enlightening us through our interactions with our readers and other bloggers; and by allowing us self-discovery in our own writings which is a very integral part of genealogy. We search for our ancestors to find ourselves. We blog our genealogy to comprehend it at a deeper level and to share that understanding with our community. Whether we as genea-bloggers do it to learn, to teach, to earn, to perceive--or all of the above--we probably all have this in common: we can't NOT do it.

Why do you blog your genealogy? Why do you read about others' research? Bloggers and readers, I invite your comments below.

Monday, August 06, 2007

A Relaxing Day

Today I had a rare treat: nine hours of being home alone; no teens, no hubby, no cares, no interruptions (even the cat knew better than to bother me!). The kids were gone all day to Silverwood with their church youth group, so after my husband left for work in the early afternoon, I enjoyed the peace and quiet.

I polished up my syllabus on Message Boards that I'll be presenting on August 18th for our EWGS members' computer class. And I've been having an incredibly fun time delving into the lives of the neighbors of my great-grandfather, William Bryan ROBBINS, as part of the series of posts I'm blogging on his military service in North Russia at the end of World War One. In a letter from home, his mother mentions a number of relatives, friends, and neighbors, and putting this "mini-community" into context with my ancestors' lives has been enriching. I hope that I have enough time to post the next two blogs in that series before we leave on vacation this coming weekend (sheesh! all the work that goes into "getting away" creates a need for a vacation from the vacation, if you follow me!).

One of the things I "stumbled upon" while doing some more research on World War I, was this astonishing website of color World War I photos...did you know any existed? Well, neither did I! It is a true documentary of the grim results of war; shelled buildings, hospital wards, refugees. I must have spent over an hour visiting this site, by turns fascinated by how color creates a starker reality than black-and-white does and mourning the evident loss of life and destruction of the great architecture of France (medieval cathedrals have always captivated me).

Oh, and by the way, I was encouraged by the Footnote team to create a Story Page about Bryan in North Russia, especially considering their recent release of the Historical Files of the American Expeditionary Forces. Labeled "A Polar Bear in North Russia," my Story Page is a copy of the series found here on my blog. What are Story Pages? They can be anything you want them to be: a blog, a research log, an online scrapbook, a way to share information with family and friends. And you don't need to purchase a subscription at Footnote to start one; just sign up for a free membership. Think you might like to have full access to this website? Check out your local Family History Center to see if they have a Footnote subscription yet (if not, check back again - soon all FHCs will have access). This is a terrific way to discover for yourself all the fascinating features of Footnote; I'll bet after playing around on this site you won't be able to resist signing up for their affordable subscription!

Darn! It's time to turn off the computer and go pick up the kids!

Sunday, August 05, 2007

More Genealogy on Spokane's South Hill

The route across town, down the North Hill, across the Spokane River, then up the steep South Hill and onto the edges of the Palouse (puh-LOOSE) Prairie, is becoming more and more familiar to me--all six miles of stop-and-go 20- and 30-mph traffic--as I take my son to meet his online math course teacher several times a week. Neither of us are morning people, so we chug down our caffeinated cold drinks to prepare our brains for work. My work is likely much more fun than his, given that he's doing school work during summer vacation, and I am indulging myself in my passion of genealogy.

Two-and-a-half weeks ago, I stopped by the Southside Family History Center to check out their facility and see what kinds of materials they have on permanent loan from the Family History Library in Salt Lake City. I reported at the end of that week that I hadn't seen a microfilm printer/scanner hooked up to a computer station; when I showed up the next Tuesday, I realized that in my busyness to look through the materials and chat with the volunteers I somehow had missed the equipment set up off in a corner of the room! Going through my list of interesting possibilities in microfilmed Ontario records where my ancestors had once lived, I decided to check out "Index to Whitchurch Township residents as shown in directories and census, 1837-1891" from York County, where my WILKINSON family appears in the 1871 and 1881 Canadian Censuses. The microfiche contained a combination of extracted township directories and census indexes. I kept an eye out for any references to the LAMOREAUX and TERRY families, looking for a possible connection to Mary (LAMOREAUX or TERRY) WILKINSON, my 4th-great-grandmother, as well as for collateral lines marrying into this family.

None of my WILKINSONs showed up in Whitchurch Township until 1871; my Richard (4th-great-grandfather), married to Mary above, appears in both the 1871 and 1881 census indexes (not new information for me). However, Moses TERRY showed up in the 1837 and 1846-7 directories, Jacob and the Widow TERRY showed up in the 1850-1 directory, and various other TERRYs appeared in the 1861, 1871, and 1891 censuses. No LAMOREAUXs appeared at all. The collateral line searches didn't turn up much of anything, except for information of which I was already aware. I scanned and saved the pertinent images to my flash drive, and vowed to return the next day to look at more Ontario records.

My research attempts on Wednesday were dampened by the fact that the printer/scanner was down. It was just as well, because my search in early Ontario birth records ("Births, stillbirths, and delayed registrations with indexes 1869 - 1910") yielded nothing new. Using my RootsMagic program on my laptop, I did a Find search looking for births for each year for each Ontario county. Most of the names that turned up in my database search were very distant relatives to my ancestors, and none were found in the records I looked viewed.

The following week, I again brought my laptop with me and instead of visiting the Family History Center, stayed in the classroom with my son and spent three hours citing sources in my RootsMagic program of recent records I found; specifically, city/county directory listings for my various Grand Rapids and Kent County, Michigan families, and military records for my paternal grandfather, Robert Lewis ROBBINS. This takes such an incredible amount of time to do correctly, even with RootsMagic's Source Wizard! The benefits, besides knowing I'm doing the right thing by correctly citing my sources, are that it does slow me down and I automatically start analyzing and synthesizing my data. I notice gaps in my information, or start wondering about certain things and come up with lists of records I could next research to find more resources. Say, this isn't so bad after all!

Friday, August 03, 2007

Digital Show and Tell

Lisa Alzo, the Accidental Genealogist, suggested a Digital Show and Tell. She is featuring a photo of her grandmother's trunk on her blog, which was brought to the U.S. from Slovakia when she immigrated in 1922.

What a fantastic idea, Lisa! I've decided to feature my most precious (and oldest) genealogical treasure, the cross stitch sampler created by my 4th-great-grandmother, Mary "Polly" (WYCKOFF) CROTHERS CHAPPEL (c. 1805 - aft. 1880):

(click on the image above for a magnified view)

As a cross stitcher myself, looking at the difficulty of the stitches, I figure Polly probably made this when she was no younger than 10; and since her maiden name is stitched on it, it had to be made before her marriage c. 1824 - 5 (her eldest known child was born 11 Dec 1825). Therefore, it was probably made c. 1815 - 1825, making it around 182 - 192 years old!

Because this sampler was made by an ancestor from the biological line of my paternal grandmother (an adoptee), this item is especially precious to me. I researched my grandmother's biological line for several years before finding living relatives for her to reunite with in 1997. The previous owner of the sampler, related by marriage only, corresponded with me for a while and was able to provide many details on the family history. Out of the kindness of her heart, she gave this sampler to me, mailed in a cardboard(!) envelope. The day it arrived in the mail, it was pouring down rain all day. The tape holding the envelope shut had come unsealed, and it was a miracle the sampler hadn't fallen out during delivery!

Now it is safely wrapped in an undyed cotton sheet until I can find a local textile expert to advise me on how to best preserve it (and possibly clean and display it) for future generations.

Podcasts: A New Category at Cyndi's List

I've been a member of Cyndi's List mailing list for about six months now (go here to subscribe yourself). Every other day or so, Cyndi sends out e-mails in several formats. "What's New On Cyndi's List" features the latest uncategorized website links that have been recommended to her to be included on her famous site. As she categorizes these, she sends out a "Cyndi's List Update" with category summaries of new, updated, or removed links. Today she sent out an e-mail notifying us of a "New Category: Podcasts for Genealogy." According to Cyndi, right now, "it is small, but gives you a few ideas of what some people are thinking to do with them."

As I've seen my husband and teenage daughter enjoy theirs, an MP3 player is definitely on my Christmas wish list for new technology toys. Only in addition to listening to audio books or music as they do, I would add genealogy podcasts to my list of audio choices. If you're unfamiliar with a podcast, think of it as a modern version of a radio talk show, available online, which can be downloaded into an iPod or MP3 player to listen to later at your convenience. In genealogy podcasts, the hosts often discuss strategies for overcoming genealogical brickwalls, highlight new websites and databases, and discuss upcoming conferences, among many topics. You don't need an iPod or MP3 player to listen to a podcast, however. You can listen on your desktop or laptop, as long as you have speakers and audio software. I try to remember that if I have a time-consuming chore such as mending, filing, or labeling photographs, to turn on a podcast to help time go by and enjoy learning something new.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Internet Genealogy Magazine Highlights Genea-bloggers

I received my September issue of Internet Genealogy magazine today, and was pleased to see an article titled "Genealogy Blogs" by Donna Pointkouski. She highlighted six bloggers, five of whom are on my daily must-read list: Jasia (Creative Gene); Craig Manson (GeneaBlogie); Chris Dunham (The Genealogue); Randy Seaver (Genea-Musings); and Steve Danko (Steve's Genealogy Blog). Also included was Lorelle VanFossen from Family History, whose blog was new to me.

Ms. Pointkouski's interviews with these genea-bloggers demonstrated how genealogy blogs are social networking and genealogy tools, by touching on getting started, determining a focus for a blog, finding something to say, how blogging can help your research, and getting the word out to let others know about your blog. In this last part, she highlighted the Carnival of Genealogy.

She also mentioned Chris's Genealogy Blog Finder,'s 24/7 Family History Circle, DearMYRTLE, (Dick) Eastman's Online Genealogical Newsletter, George G. Morgan's Along Those Lines..., and Joe Beine's Genealogy Roots Blog (Joe's Online County Histories, Biographies & Indexes--USA: A Genealogy Guide is also featured in Rick Crume's article, "Online Local Histories: Family History at Your Fingertips").

Other great reads I found in my initial skim include an article on Footnote by Diane L. Richard, "Getting the Most Out of Google's Tools" by George G. Morgan, and "Internet Blessings," a philosophical look back on the impact of the Internet on genealogy, written by my friend and co-member of EWGS, Beverly Smith Vorpahl.

I encourage you to pick up your own copy today!