Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Find A Grave Site Now at 19 Million Grave Records

I noticed over at Find A Grave that they now have 19 million grave records which you can search, in their non-famous grave area (for most of us, those would be where our ancestors are listed!).

When I first starting using this wonderful site over six years ago, I believe they only had about 5 or 6 grave million records. Even a year ago, when I presented a tutorial on using this site to the Eastern Washington Genealogical Society, there were only about 13 million grave records! If you would like a copy of my syllabus from that presentation, please e-mail me (click on "View my complete profile" in the lower right-hand side bar to get my contact information).

Obituary of Mahala (SAYERS) WILKINSON - 1937


Mrs. Mahala Sears [sic] Wilkinson, 89 years old, died at the home of her son-in-law and daughter, Mr. and Mrs. Floyd Luchini, 115 Walnut street, at 2 o'clock Wednesday [2 Jun 1937] morning, following a critical illness which began with a heart attack last Saturday.

The aged lady had been in precarious health since July 8, 1936, when she was found to be suffering from a serious heart malady. She got along quite comfortably, however, until last week when the sudden heat wave brought on the condition which resulted in her death.

The body was taken to Whitehall [Muskegon Co.], Michigan, Mrs. Wilkinson's old home, Wednesday morning, and the funeral and burial will take place there beside her husband, and among loved friends and scenes.

Mrs. Wilkinson was born July 8, 1847, at Prince Edward [County], Ont., and came to the States many years ago. She is survived by Mrs. Floyd Luchini, Alma; Mrs. George Lewis, Mrs. A. L. Ainger and John Wilkinson, all of Whitehall, and Fred Wilkinson, of Kelso, Wash. Mrs. Luchini has the sympathy of many Alma friends in her loss.

--from The Alma Record and Alma Journal, Alma, Gratiot Co., Michigan, Thursday, 3 Jun 1937, unknown page.
Mahala was my paternal 3rd-great-grandmother, a Canadian immigrant, herself the child of Ulster Scot immigrants from Letterkenny, County Donegal, Ireland. My paternal grandfather fondly remembered her from his early childhood. She used to run her finger down the slope of his nose and say, "Love is like this," then run it back up, saying, "but marriage is like this!" I had some digital scans of photos of her with my grandfather and his younger brother taken around 1923 in Whitehall, and she appeared rather frail even then. Unfortunately, I did not know enough about re-writable CDs at that time, and those digital scans have been lost. The originals remain with my paternal grandmother in Texas.

This obituary gives me more detailed birth information (date and location) and a complete death date, than what I originally had. A photo of her tombstone in Oakhurst Cemetery, Whitehall, Muskegon Co., Michigan can be found at Find A Grave here.

More Online Michigan Resources - Clarke Historical Library

A couple of weeks ago, I was surfing online and ran a Google search to see if there is a website for the genealogical society in Lapeer County, Michigan (there isn't). It turned out to be rather serendipitous, however, because while running the search, I came across the site of Clarke Historical Library at Central Michigan University.

If you have ancestors from Michigan (and not just the central lower peninsula), this website is a must-visit. The links that seem to be most useful for online research include "Web-Based Resources," "Isabella County Obituary Index," and "Resources in the Library > Material in the Library > local history material," which lists the materials in their collection for each and every Michigan county. This is wonderful resource information, because you can e-mail the staff and ask for lookups and/or photocopies for a small fee.

I discovered that Clarke holds copies of the Alma Record and the Alma Record and Alma Journal for Gratiot County for the period of time in which my 3rd-great-grandmother, Mahala (SAYERS) WILKINSON, lived there with her daughter during the last years of her life. I requested an obituary lookup last week via e-mail, sent in my check for $2.25, and yesterday received it (it appears in the next post). I was overjoyed, because I had not been able to find a RAOGK volunteer who had access to these records!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

How Do You Spell Hartal?

If you saw Monday's Spokesman-Review (story at the top link here), you may have seen the humorous front page photo of Chief of Police Anne Kirkpatrick and her team, "Crime and Punishment," as Whitworth University professor Dr. Victor Bobb announced that they were the first to be eliminated from the Spokane is Spelling adult spelling bee. This fund raising event was held at The Big Easy Concert House last Sunday, October 21st, at 4:00 PM.

Three members of the Eastern Washington Genealogical Society formed "The Genealogists" team in order to support the Spokane Public Library Foundation and get our society's image out to the public. The team consisted of President Bill Hire, Distinguished Service Member and EWGS Bulletin editor Doris Woodward, and myself. We were very excited and a little nervous about participating. There were some well-known Spokane names and faces among both the participants and the audience, including Washington State Senator Chris Marr, Spokane Public Schools Board of Education President Christie Querna (participating), and Mayor Dennis Hession (audience). Directly behind us in line were Spokane Symphony Orchestra members Brenda Neinhouse and Don Nelson, with Maestra Eckart Preu...and were they ever a riot! When the word "requiem" came up for another team, the SSO team groaned. Of course, their team was not going to be lucky enough to get any of the music vocabulary as spelling words!

The first two rounds consisted of fifth- and sixth- grade words, to shake out our nerves and--as emcee Mike Gonzalez retorted--to see if we were "smarter than a fifth-grader"! Our first word was "party." Easy enough. Rounds Three and Four brought harder words: "centaur" and "deterrent". Then Round Five brought the challenge: "hartal". Bill and Doris had conflicting spellings. They're both sharp spellers, but on the pad we were supplied, Bill wrote h-a-r-t-o-l, while Doris had h-a-r-t-a-l. I was the team's announcer, and we had 15 seconds from the time the word was announced and the definition given before we had to give the correct spelling. Together, we made a snap judgment, and chose Bill's spelling. All we could say was that at least we were eliminated on a toughie!

We didn't do too badly, getting knocked about about halfway through; there were 26 teams total. "The Pacific Northwest Inlander" team won, then had to compete among themselves for the final grand prize, a $1000 shopping spree at River Park Square, dinner for two at Fugazzi and an overnight stay in the penthouse suite at Hotel Lusso. Michael Bowen won with the word "urceolate". Whew!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

She's Baaaack! (Again)

Lee is back. To those of you who've been blogging before February 2007, I need say no more. We've missed you, Lee!

October Scanfest - the Last for 2007

The next Scanfest will be held Sunday, October 28th from 11:00 AM - 2:00 PM, Pacific Daylight Time (we return to Standard Time on November 4th, this year). For those who may be new to my blog, Scanfest is a monthly event where family archivists have set aside time to scan their precious family documents and photographs. Scanning can be a rather--ahem!--BORING process to undergo, so we've added some incentive by using that time to chat online with other family archivists, family historians, and genealogists. You do not need to be a genealogy blogger--or even a blogger at all--to join us. In fact, you may not consider yourself a family archivist, family historian, or genealogist...but you are still welcome to scan and chat with us. Chances are, you've got some items lying around your home that need to be scanned and digitally preserved. If you've been telling yourself, "I really need to get this stuff scanned," then you definitely want to attend Scanfest!

Planning to attend this month is the Olive Tree Lady, Lorine McGinnis Schulze, a professional genealogist and webmaster extraordinaire. Her websites include Olive Tree Genealogy, Ancestors at Rest, Ships Lists Online, and The Genealogy Spot. She has several blogs that accompany her websites as well. You may wish to take this opportunity to chat with Lorine about her expertise in immigration, Palatine, and New Netherlands (early New York) records, among others!

Perhaps you're not sure about this "chat" thing. Don't worry! It's very easy (and secure) to do, and we can help you out. Besides, once you learn, you can impress the young people in your life by telling them that you were busy chatting online on Sunday afternoon!

Below are the details on how to join us. If this still doesn't make sense, feel free to email me (my email address can be found on this page under "Contact" in the left-hand sidebar.

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

This will be the last Scanfest of 2007. The last Sunday of November falls on Thanksgiving weekend, a major American holiday, while December's last Sunday will be the day before New Year's Eve. With the holidays approaching, we'll take a hiatus until January 27th, 2008. See you online this Sunday!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Approved Civil War Widow Pension Application Files to Be Digitized

I received the following press release from FamilySearch this morning:

National Archives and FamilySearch Team Up to Digitize and Index Mountains of Historic Documents

SALT LAKE CITY—The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) of the United States and FamilySearch today announced an agreement that will lead to the digitization of millions of historical documents over time. The bulk of the digital images and related indices will be freely accessible through www.FamilySearch.org, 4,500 family history centers worldwide, or at the National Archives and its Regional Centers.

The agreement is the result of several years of discussions between the two organizations and NARA’s new long-term strategy for digitizing and making available major segments of its vast collection online to the public. Ultimately, the records digitized by FamilySearch will consist of court, military, land, and other government records that include information of genealogical significance for family historians. The records date as early as 1754 to as late as the 1990s.

Almost all of the records in the National Archives currently are not readily accessible to patrons who visit the National Archives or one of its regional facilities. The newly digitized and indexed records produced under the agreement will be available online—greatly increasing patron access.

“For a number of years, we have had a very productive relationship with FamilySearch,” said Professor Allen Weinstein, archivist of the United States. “This agreement expands our relationship to enable online access to some of the most popular and voluminous records in our holdings. It is an exciting step forward for our institutions and for the American people,” he added.

Under the new agreement, FamilySearch will be operating highly specialized digital cameras 5 days a week at the National Archives in Washington, D.C. FamilySearch intends to extend the digitization services to select regional facilities at a later date. That means there will be a continuous flow of new data for genealogy buffs to explore for years to come. It also means FamilySearch will be able to digitize the thousands of microfilms it has already created from NARA’s holdings—providing access to millions of images for genealogists to search from the convenience of their home computers with Internet access.

The first fruit of this effort is a portion of a very large collection of Civil War records, already underway. In this pilot project, FamilySearch will digitize the first 3,150 Civil War widow pension application files (approximately 500,000 pages). After digitization, these historical documents will be indexed and posted online by Footnote.com with the indices also available for free on www.FamilySearch.org. FamilySearch intends to do all 1,280,000 of these files over the coming years.

James Hastings, director of Access Programs at the National Archives, said, "For decades the National Archives has helped thousands of researchers gain access to this rich trove of records in Washington. Thanks to this agreement with FamilySearch, this valuable information will now be available to millions of users around the world in a far more accessible format."

Wayne Metcalfe, director of FamilySearch Record Services, said, “No single group can preserve, organize, and make available all the information contained in the world’s important genealogical documents—like those found in the National Archives of the United States. Such immense undertakings require the cooperation of record custodians, researchers, and specialized services. FamilySearch is committed to being an integral partner in this global effort.”

FamilySearch is the largest international organization of its kind, working with national archives and record custodians worldwide to preserve and increase access to records of genealogical significance. It is currently working on projects in over 45 countries.
About the National Archives. The National Archives and Records Administration, an independent federal agency, is the nation's record keeper. Founded in 1934, its mission is unique—to serve American democracy by safeguarding and preserving the records of our Government, ensuring that the people can discover, use, and learn from this documentary heritage. The National Archives ensures continuing access to the essential documentation of the rights of American citizens and the actions of their government. It supports democracy, promotes civic education, and facilitates historical understanding of our national experience. The National Archives meets a wide range of information needs, among them helping people to trace their families' history, making it possible for veterans to prove their entitlement to medical and other benefits, and preserving original White House records. The National Archives carries out its mission through a nationwide network of archives, records centers, and Presidential Libraries, and on the Internet at www.archives.gov.

About FamilySearch. The Genealogical Society of Utah (GSU)—doing business as FamilySearch—is a nonprofit organization sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. FamilySearch maintains the world's largest repository of genealogical resources; these resources may be accessed through FamilySearch.org, the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah, and over 4,500 family history centers in 70 countries. FamilySearch is a trademark licensed to GSU and is registered in the United States of America and other countries.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Hispanic Resources Online

While neither my husband nor I have Hispanic roots, I've been on the lookout for online resources for this ethnic group for several reasons. The first is because of a request of a good friend and co-worker, who is trying to find her paternal grandfather's Mexican roots. The second is due to the fact that one of my students in my current Online Genealogy class is Latina. Because Hispanic Heritage month (September 15 - October 15) just ended, I've seen several resources highlighted recently, and thought I would share them with those who may be researching south of the border.

RootsTelevision.com has a new video, "Hispanic Research Series at the Family History Library." A reference consultant, library volunteer, and patron are interviewed at the FHL, speaking in both English and Spanish, sharing the wealth of information that is available at the library and at its local branches, the Family History Centers. In addition, there is also a Hispanic Roots Channel at RootsTelevision; just look for the icon on the right side of the main page that has a colorful tree against a black background. Currently, there are four videos in this channel. Besides the one mentioned above, there is an interview with George Ryskamp, author of Finding Your Hispanic Roots, a family story shared by Carmen Deedy, and an interview with best-selling author of Rain of Gold Victor Vallisenor who tells how discovering his roots changed his life.

Ancestry.com has a sale on the book Finding Your Mexican Ancestors: A Beginner's Guide at their online store here. Normally selling for $16.95, it is available for $14.41. This book is written by George (mentioned in the above paragraph) and Peggy Ryskamp. You do not need to be a subscriber to Ancestry to order this book. Use the search engine on this page to help you find more materials on Hispanic research or those focusing on Central and South American roots.

FamilySearch Indexing is looking for 10,000 volunteers who can read both English and Spanish to help index Mexican, Argentine and other Latin American records for the Internet. Dick Eastman posted the entire news release on his blog earlier this month here. If you are able and willing to help, this project needs you!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Busy Week = Light Blogging

View digital images of Texas Birth and Death Certificates Online.

I can't remember when I've had such a light blogging week without being out of town. Being ill on and off the past couple of weeks has prompted me to get to bed as early as possible this week, for my health's sake. It's also just been plain busy around here: Monday evening was my third of four weekly Online Genealogy classes I'm teaching; Thursday, I spoke to the Kootenai County Genealogical Society in North Idaho (what a great group they are!). Later this morning, I will be attending a computer class on Online Land Records for members of the Eastern Washington Genealogical Society. Tomorrow afternoon, a team of four members of EWGS (including myself) will be participating in the "Spokane is Spelling" spelling bee to raise money for the Spokane Public Library Foundation, and to give our society a little publicity. The wife/mom/homemaker side of me has been busy caring for other members of the family who've been ill, making sure teens get caught up on schoolwork after being absent, and trying to catch up on housework and paperwork that have naturally piled up from neglect.

Even though I didn't do any posting of my own, I did keep current this week by reading all my favorite blogs and commenting here and there. For those few of my readers who do not read other genealogy blogs, I want to recap some recent highlights:
  • *Georgia's death index from 1919 - 1927 is now available online with links to digital images of original death certificates. Details are here.

  • *The parent company that owns Ancestry.com, The Generations Network, has been acquired by Spectrum Equity Investors. Details are here, and a current list of commentary and interviews of CEO Tim Sullivan are here.

  • *"Halloween and the Supernatural" was the theme of the 34th edition of the Carnival of Genealogy, which was hosted by Jasia at Creative Gene. Click on the link to read your free online "magazine" of great genealogy-related "articles" written by 19 bloggers!

  • *Craig Manson, our resident genea-blogging law professor, has published a new series of law lessons entitled "Defamation and Privacy Issues in Genealogy" on his blog, GeneaBlogie. The first post is here. Craig's last series on the law regarding genealogy was about whether Ancestry.com violated copyright law with its Internet Biographical Database (part one of that series is here).
Several bloggers have mentioned the beautiful autumn colors they've observed in their communities (see, we're not always stationed in front of our computers!). We've had some lovely color here as well, but it's not been as dramatic. This year, showers, gray skies, and a damp chill have replaced our normal Indian Summer season of warm, sunny afternoons and cold, crisp starry nights. I miss what I call my "October Blue" skies which usually provide a stunning contrast with the fall crimsons, rusts, and golds! Snow has been reported in the higher elevations and to the north. Our month-long "Seattle weather" is probably to blame for the recent rash of chills, sniffles, and bugs that's been sweeping our community as of late.

Well, I'm off to practice for tomorrow's spelling bee: abeyance: a...b...e...

Start Your Free Trial With Footnote.com.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

29 East LaCrosse - Haunted or Not?

Friday, October 12th, marked the eleven-year anniversary of the day we signed on our home at 29 East LaCrosse. Built in 1908 (some documents say 1907), it is certainly by no means old by East Coast or European standards, but here in what was once a Wild West city where frontier soldiers, Idaho miners, and Northeastern Washington lumberjacks would freely spend their hard-earned cash, the fact that it's still standing and habitable says a lot. Add to that the discovery while researching our home's history that it has been a rental for much of its structural life, along with the fact that it bumps up against a commercial zone, and it's doubly amazing that it hasn't been razed by now. Built on what was once the rural edge of town with no houses on the lots behind it, it now sits squarely in a north central neighborhood, several miles from the the city limits.

Its history as a rental becomes all too apparent whenever we start a remodeling job (which has seemed continuous over these past eleven years!). Shoddy worksmanship, dangerous wiring, and poor construction have all been uncovered, replaced, and redone. More than once, we've scratched our heads and wondered aloud, "What were they thinking?" There are days (usually in the winter) when I feel the walls close in on me and deeply feel the cramped living arrangements and lack of privacy in this seven-room residence. But most of the time, even while wishing it were bigger, I love this house! Five years ago--our sixth anniversary at this address--it became the home I had lived in the longest during my then-35 years on this planet. That realization felt odd to me, since my years in my childhood homes felt longer than the time I've spent here. Still, there are many memories, like ghosts, that flit around me within these walls. In the early mornings and late at night, the floors creak beneath my feet as I walk from room to room. The ladderback doors and old frame windows give a character to the place as I consider how those before us spent their days and nights in this abode. There were many who lived here; more, I'm sure, than the city directories will ever reveal, as renters moved in and out between the dates of publication.

Eight years ago, a reporter from the local paper knocked on our front door and said he was doing a human-interest story for Hallowe'en. Following up on archived stories from The Spokesman-Review, he was visiting the current residents of homes that had once been reported as being haunted. Intrigued, we invited him in as he handed us an undated clipping from the Depression years about two young women who claimed to have experienced a ghost in what was now our home. Had we ever heard this story, he asked us. Had we ever seen a ghost or heard anything that was unexplainable? No, we replied, and no, again. Nevertheless, he interviewed us and wrote up a nice piece for the Entertainment section of the paper. In reading the old clipping further, we realized that the young women had fallen behind in their rent, and had concocted the story to avoid paying their bill once they had moved out. So our insistence that our house was not haunted was justified...or was it?

Three years ago, we had to put our beloved apricot tabby, Sammy, to sleep after she became fatally ill. Sammy had loved our children with a protective fierceness rivaling that of a dog. Every night, she would cuddle up with Matt at the beginning of the evening, both of them falling asleep. In the middle of the night, she would pad quietly into Missy's room and spend the rest of the early morning hours with her there. It was a ritual; I'd tuck Matt and Sammy in every night, and wake Missy and Sammy together every morning. Never allowed in the adults' bedroom, she nonetheless would jump up on our bed and nuzzle me awake every time one of the kids was ill in the middle of the night. Although by the time Sammy died we had acquired Tessa, our current feline companion, her loss was devastating to us all. We brought her home in a cardboard box, which my husband buried deeply between our shed and the alley, filling the hole with large rocks and earth so that it could not be dug up by unattended dogs.

Several months ago, my son mentioned that he still sees Sammy. At nearly 14, he loves math and science, has an ironic sense of humor, and can out-argue an attorney. I mention this because he's the least likely of any of us to be whimsical, a dreamer, a believer in fantasies. But he's seen her, in our yard, on the couch, in his bedroom. About once a month, in the corner of his eye, he'll see her there, and when he turns to look directly at her, she's gone. A ghost, an angel, a whisper of a memory...whatever she is, she's welcome to stay in this very small, somewhat old, creaky-floored house.

This post was written for the 34th Edition of the Carnival of Genealogy, "Halloween and the Supernatural!"

Frugal Genealogy

Jasia of Creative Gene has written a thoughtful and interesting five-part series called "What is Your Genealogy Worth to You?" (click here to go to the first post in the series). She starts off with "Have you ever thought about how much your genealogy addiction costs you? What price have you paid to collect all those names on your family tree? If you had known what the cost would be when you began, would you still have started down this road?"

I've been gathering information and organizing it since early 1987. In 1990 and again in 1999, I helped to organize a Midkiff Family Reunion. In 1995, I made my first forays into research by requesting the marriage record of my paternal grandmother's biological parents, and not long after, visited a Family History Center for the first time. I haven't looked back since! Back then, I didn't keep track of my expenditures, but I never had a lot to work with and would just make do with about $5 or $10 a month in ordering microfilm from the FHC. Since purchasing Quicken software three-and-a-half years ago, I've kept pretty good records on all my expenditures, and ran a report to see how much I've spent. Since May 2004, I have spent a total of $823.65 on paying society fees, ordering vital records and microfilms, paying for subscriptions to genealogy websites like Ancestry, making photocopies of documents and forms, buying office supplies specifically for my genealogy files, and purchasing genealogy books, CDs, and magazine subscriptions. I've been able to offset these costs: my sister-in-law reimburses me half of my online subscription costs since I help her research her family tree; I also get paid for teaching Online Genealogy at my local community college district's community ed and for doing presentations at area genealogical societies. When I consider the after-tax income and reimbursement I've received in comparison to the expenditures listed above, I actually have a credit of -$52.81.

There are several other costs, however. While I don't figure in the cost of gas in going to genealogical society meetings or going to my local Family History Center, it does cost to park when I attend society meetings and computer classes at the public library, and my three-and-a-half year cost for that has been exactly $127.00. I gladly would park in a free parking area at the bottom of the hill half-a-mile away; however, since I'm the Ways and Means Committee Chair, I usually have many boxes of books and bags of supplies to haul in, and even with my cart, that's simply not practical. The parking garage I normally use is the cheapest in the downtown area: 50 cents per half hour.

Another cost would be printer ink (which I haven't bothered to account for here, since I list it under Consumable Household Goods). I am very frugal with it, and only print when I have to, using the "quick print" and black-and-white settings. Still, it does cost, but I recycle my cartridges or trade them in for reams of paper or photo printing.

Because I use my computer and Internet service almost exclusively for genealogy in one form or another, I have to consider those costs. The first computer I had used Windows 3.1 and was found by my brother-in-law at a garage sale. I paid $100 for it, along with some software and a decent (for that time) printer in 1999. I used Juno's free Internet dial-up service, then later tried a free dial-up service which was accessed through my local public library. For several years, I used AOL free trial dial-up service. It was good for two months; I'd call them up at the end of the trial service and "cancel" and they'd "persuade" me to try it again for two more months. It was great! However, when we had a friend build us a new computer (with the Edsel-like Windows ME operating system!), AOL wouldn't work well with it. We went to Juno's pay dial-up service of just under $10 a month. That computer cost us about $600 and included everything--monitor, speakers, software, keyboard, mouse, etc.--except the printer. We later bought a quality printer/scanner/copier/fax machine at Costco for about $300, which I still use. Since my husband works for a company that produces heavy-duty laptops for the military, police and fire departments, and service repairmen, he's been able to pick the brains of engineers and tech geeks that he works with, educating himself along the way. Armed with this advice and knowledge, two years ago, he built a complete new computer with Windows XP ourselves, with a little help from his nephew. This one has a high-resolution flat-screen monitor, a cordless keyboard and mouse, and all kinds of bells and whistles, and set us back only about $1100. We also obtained an older laptop, which has come in so handy with four computer users in this household. Along the way, we switched to DSL broadband Internet service through a small local company that contracts with the local phone company, costing us a discounted $45 a month. Offsetting this expense, we have chosen not to get cable television (I have always been one to willingly live without a television!), nor do we use long-distance telephone service (using an inexpensive 10-10 code for our infrequent long-distance calls). For us, the Internet is our main entertainment and long-distance communication resource.

So there you have some of my tangible costs of genealogy, although as Becky at kinexxions wrote, genealogy is priceless. The family I've found, the friends I've made, the discoveries I've happened across, the life-long learning process...all are invaluable! And yes, I'd do it all over again, in a heartbeat!

Coincidentally, I'll be giving a one-hour presentation to the Kootenai County (Idaho) Genealogical Society this week, Thursday, October 18th at 7:00 PM, entitled "Frugal Genealogy (or How Not to Spend a Fortune on Your Family Tree!)." We will be meeting at the Hayden Family History Center at 2293 West Hanley (west of off Ramsey) in Hayden, Idaho. This is not the normal meeting place, as the Hayden Lake Library is being remodeled. I hope that if you live in the area, you will join us (meetings are free to the public). I had the opportunity to meet some of the fine folks of the KCGS at the Bonner County (Idaho) Genealogical Society's June conference, and look forward to meeting more of their members. I'll also be giving this presentation to the Northeast Washington Genealogical Society in Colville in July 2008, if you wish to catch it then. If you are not able to attend, you can e-mail me to request a copy of my syllabus (see "View my complete profile" in the right-hand sidebar to obtain my e-mail address).

Friday, October 12, 2007

Three Generations of Wedding Dresses

When I became engaged in January 1987, I began to look around for a wedding dress. My mother, I knew, had rented her own wedding dress back in 1965. I never thought much about that; I simply figured there weren't any family wedding dresses passed down for her to wear. I assumed my maternal grandmother wore a nice Sunday dress at her wedding in 1943 like my paternal grandmother had at her own wedding in 1940; it wasn't unusual for brides to wear a simple nice dress or skirt suit at one's wedding in those days. Most of my extended family lived in Western Michigan, and I was living and getting married in Eastern Washington, some 2000 miles away, so I didn't have much opportunity to have a conversation with relatives about this, anyway. My future husband and I were working with a limited budget and although (and especially since) we were planning a very nice church wedding and reception, I didn't want to burden my parents with a dress that cost hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars...the practical side of me knew I would only wear it once, anyway. Although my bridesmaids' and flower girls' dresses were handmade by friends as their wedding gifts to us, making a wedding dress wasn't an option at that time; so I began to look for a nice second-hand dress to purchase. Because I'm not very tall and was about a size 3 in those days, I wasn't having a lot of success finding one that fit me. Finally, a solution was reached when a girlfriend of mine loaned me her dress. It was somewhat too big for me, but I took it to my aunt and my paternal grandmother, who was on an extended visit to this area, and they determined that the style of the dress would allow for easy and subtle altering in such a way that it could be undone and returned to my friend. I borrowed a Madonna-style veil from Norm's sister-in-law, and purchased shoes, accessories, and jewelry. At the time, my fiance and I attended a small, independent church that did not own its own building. We were married in a historic Lutheran church building that had been converted to a wedding chapel. In the photo below, I'm waiting in the back room, seated in front of a vanity, waiting as the guests arrive to walk down the aisle, accompanied by my father:

Miriam Joy Robbins, 30 May 1987
Gretna Green Wedding Chapel
Spokane, Washington

My own parents were married in the chapel of the Grand Rapids (Michigan) School of Bible and Music (now Cornerstone University), where they were students. As a little girl, I loved looking at my parents' wedding album, and always wished my mother had been able to keep her wedding dress, so that I could wear it, too:

Faith Lillian Valk, 25 Jun 1965
Grand Rapids School of the Bible and Music
Grand Rapids, Michigan

Just last year, my mother received a little wedding book that had belonged to my maternal grandmother, Ruth Lillian HOEKSTRA. It was from her first marriage, to my biological grandfather, William VALK. My grandmother had traveled to Junction City, Kansas, to meet my grandfather who was probably stationed at nearby Fort Riley. They were married at the Methodist Church at the corner of Jefferson and Eighth Streets in Junction City. Tucked inside the wedding book was the following photo:

Ruth Lillian Hoekstra, 11 Sep 1943
Possibly the backyard of Mr. & Mrs. Fred B. Johnson,
or of Cristel Kiver
Junction City, Geary County, Kansas

When I remarked to my mother that I had not known that Grandma had had a wedding dress when she married my Grandfather Valk, she replied, "Oh, yes, but I didn't want to wear it at my wedding...it was too old-fashioned." !!!!! Apparently, my grandmother kept this dress for years. My mother's sister never married, and so because no one seemed interested in it (or--as in my case--didn't know about it), she either sold it or gave it away, I believe at some point after I was married. Yes, this story has turned into one of those "genealogy groaners"! If only I had known, I would have gladly worn this dress at my wedding, and saved it for my sister and someday for my daughter to wear! My daughter may not be quite 17, but seeing her lately in her formal dress for her homecoming dance, it's not hard to imagine that sometime in the next 10 years (hopefully later, rather than sooner!), she'll be wearing her own wedding dress and walking down the aisle. I hope that it will become an heirloom one that she can pass on to future generations!

This post was also originally started with the intention of submitting it to the 33rd Carnival of Genealogy, whose topic was "Weddings!" Due to illness, I ran out of time to fully research and write it before the deadline.

The Mystery of the Marriage of James L. YORK and Mary "Mae" E. McARTHUR

Discover more about your own family living in the Emerging America historical period of 1880 - 1920.

One of my long-term goals in genealogy is to research in depth the lives of each of my ancestors through my great-great-grandparents' generation. With that in mind, I've created a checklist of all the records I hope to find for each of them, the information from which I try to weave into comprehensive and comprehensible biographies for my AnceStories website.

I've been able to obtain marriage records for every ancestral marriage through my great-great-grandparents' generation, with the exception of two couples, James L. YORK and Mary "Mae" E. McARTHUR (on my dad's side), and Charles Frisbe STRONG and Mary Lucy WRIGHT (on my mother's side). I do have a year and place of marriage for Charles and Mary (1873; Fairfield, Town of Candor, Tioga County, New York), which was discovered by a cousin of mine; I just haven't obtained a document verifying this. But for James and Mae, I have nothing: no date or place of marriage.

James L. YORK, c. 1880s

Mary "Mae" E. (McARTHUR) YORK RANDELL, c. 1920s - 1930s

Here's what I do know: James L. YORK was born 7 October 1867 in Goodrich, Atlas Township, Genesee County, Michigan to John H. YORK and Anna CROTHERS, the youngest surviving child of their seven children. Mary E. McARTHUR was born 28 January 1875 in Washington Township, Gratiot County, Michigan. Her parents were Daniel J. MacARTHUR (a Civil War veteran) and Martha JOHNSON. She was the fifth child, also of a family of seven children.

How this couple managed to meet each other is still a mystery to me. Gratiot County is two counties west of Genesee and Lapeer Counties, where most of the Crothers and York families had settled. Anna had two siblings, Nancy Amanda (CROTHERS) PHELPS and Moses CROTHERS (not verified he is a sibling) who lived in Clinton County, which is bordered by Gratiot County on the south; however, the Clinton County townships that these two lived in were not near Washington Township. I do know that James' first cousin, Jennie Mae EBLER (daughter of Wilhelm D. EBLER and Elizabeth June CROTHERS) married Mae's brother, Daniel Thomas McARTHUR, but they appear to have married after James and Mae did, sometime around 1907 or so.

Ernest, Howard, & Hazel YORK, c. 1900

James and Mae had three children: Ernest Lee (1894 - 1976); Hazel (1895 - 1967); and Howard Merkel YORK (1898 - 1945). Howard was my great-grandfather. Since Ernest was born on 12 April 1894, I can make an educated assumption that James and Mae were married by 1893. Ernest and Howard both gave their birthplace as Goodrich on their marriage records; and indeed, the family is enumerated there in the 1900 U.S. Federal Census. However, none of the children's births are found in Genesee County birth records as confirmation. Goodrich is a village in Atlas Township, which sits in the southeast corner of Genesee County, which is bordered by Hadley Township in Lapeer County on the east, and Brandon Township in Oakland County on the south. The children's births aren't recorded in those counties, either. And Howard's obituary states he was born in Ortonville, Brandon Township, Oakland County; although I'm sure the information was given to the newspaper by either his second wife or a family friend, neither of whom probably knew for certain where he'd been born. James and Mae's marriage was not recorded in Genesee, Lapeer or Oakland County marriage records, either. The lack of vital records available for this family has been frustrating and puzzling, and hasn't lent itself to uncovering when and where the couple was married!

About a year ago, I discovered that the Family History Library had a microfilm of Genesee County Marriage Records that I had never viewed (FHL microfim 14,815) which included delayed recordings from 1892 - 1929. I sent off for it at once, but for some reason, the film was not allowed to be sent to a Family History Center. I then paid a $4.00 fee to have a FHL volunteer search the index on site for the surnames York or M(a)cArthur to see if the record was contained in that film. The answer came back that the marriage was not listed.

So, do I know if James and Mae were ever actually married? Yes, I do. Years ago, I sent off a request to see if I could find a divorce record for this couple from the Genesee County clerk in Flint. I had obtained a divorce record from this same source for their son Howard and my great-grandmother Mary Jane BARBER, and had found well-detailed information on the divorce which included a marriage date and place. I hoped to find similar information for James and Mae. But instead of receiving a copy of the original divorce certificate or a transcript of the court proceedings (both of which I've obtained from other ancestral divorce records) I received the following document:

I've had this document for several years, and wasn't too sure what it was, other than understanding that it gave a date for the divorce and thus was secondary evidence of a marriage. I asked law professor and fellow genea-blogger Craig Manson if he would mind taking a look at this and explaining it to me. Here are his comments:

This appears to have been an uncontested divorce based on the the terms in the document. First, the document itself appears to be the court clerk's file index or case index for this case. Court clerks keep track of each document presented to the court. The notation "4299" on the top left is likely the case number. The notation "Fees paid in full" along the left side indicates that all the court fees were paid. The name to the right of James York is that of his attorney, Daniel Heims. Heims was a prominent Flint attorney in the late 1800's/early 1900's, who among other things, helped organize the Genesee County Bar Association. (An aside: Heims, who handled divorces, seems never to have married!)

(Daniel Heims)

Here's the sequence of events in 1904:

March 21---Heims files the divorce action on behalf of James York. That same day, a subpoena is issued to demand the presence of Mary York at a hearing set in April.

April 7--The subpoena is returned to the clerk of the court with proof that it was served on Mary York (or that after a diligent search she could not be found within the jurisdiction of the court).

April 12--This was probably the date set for hearing. The "Affidavit of Nonappearance" is either Heims' or James York's declaration that despite having been lawfully served, Mary York failed to appear at the date and time set for hearing. The "Affidavit of Regularity" follows the nonappearance affidavit in that it recites that the defendant was served with the subpoena; states the manner of service; and declares that the plaintiff (James) believes the defendant (Mary) to be in default. It requests the court to proceed with the matter in the absence of the defendant.

May 18--The court issues an "Order Pro Confesso." This is an order that states since the defendant has failed to appear, the facts alleged by the plaintiff will be taken by the court "as if the defendant had confessed" them. The court also issues an Order of Reference; that is, an order appointing a referee to determine the parties' rights in property (and sometimes other duties).

June 2--CCC Report filed. This is no doubt the report of the referee, although I do not know what "CCC" stood for in 1904 Michigan practice.

June 3--The divorce decree is issued. "Ch. De. Bk." may stand for "Chancery Decree Book." In 1904 in most states, divorces were heard in the chancery courts, not the law courts. (The location and people in the chancery courts were often the same as those of the law courts--the distinction goes back many centuries to England and is too long a story to explain here!)

July 9--The decree is final.

Here then is evidence that James and Mae were married. I still will need to do some digging to obtain the actual full court records of this divorce, which should then provide me with the date and place of marriage. Mae remarried very soon after this divorce--on 27 August 1904--to the love of her life, Evan J. "Dick" RANDELL, whose family's farm was just down the road and across the Genesee-Lapeer county line from the York family farm. Because of how quickly Mae remarried, I have often wondered if she and Dick fell in love before the divorce. When I mentioned that to Craig, he responded with:

What you tell me about Mary's quick remarriage is consistent with a thought that I had--they [husband James and his lawyer] had worked this all out ahead of time and intended to get it done quickly. That's why Mary did not show up [for the hearing].

That might explain James's hiring a prominent attorney to handle the divorce. He may also have been wishing to protect himself from accusations from Mae's attorney about his own behavior. Decades later, when one of Mae's granddaughters was divorced, she made a comment to the granddaughter, saying her granddaughter's ex-husband's actions reminded her (Mae) of her "first husband." This comment was unusual, because Mae rarely spoke of her first marriage. In fact, one grandniece that I spoke with who knew Mae well had never heard of Mae being wed before her marriage to Dick Randell! Only after digging through family papers and finding some labeled photographs of Mae with her sons Howard and Ernest York, was the grandniece convinced that there indeed had been an earlier marriage. According to these family members, James (who later married his housekeeper) retained custody of Ernest and Howard, while Hazel remained with her mother, who had two more sons with Dick Randell. This divorce changed the course of this family and the lives of their children adversely. Hazel seems to have been the most well-adjusted and lived happily with her husband and daughter in the thumb area of Michigan. Ernest and Howard had several marriages each; Howard was in and out of prison a couple of times. I can't help but wonder if the boys' childhoods spent without their mother were the foundation of their difficult lives.
I've since thought of another place where I could look for a marriage record. Brides were often married in their father's homes in those days, and Mae's parents were living in Washington Township, Gratiot County, Michigan. So if the complete divorce record cannot be found or doesn't yield a marriage date and place, that is another option. Genealogy is full of mysteries. Figuring them out can be, by turns, frustrating, exciting, disappointing, and thrilling!

This post was originally started with the intention of submitting it to the 33rd Carnival of Genealogy, whose topic was "Weddings!" Due to illness, I ran out of time to fully research and write it before the deadline.

Browse news and town records, photos, and military records.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Tips for Celebrating Family History Month

Blogger Anna Dalhaimer Bartkowski offers a tip a day during the month of October for ways to celebrate Family History Month. Her blog, Value Meals on the Volga, matches the title of her cookbook, which "helps individuals create memories and spend quality time with family. More than a cookbook and more than a family history, this book guides the gourmet chef or the novice cook to make delectable delights while ensuring their stories live forever in the hearts of loved ones." As the title suggests, Anna's heritage traces back to Germans from Russia. Her tips start here.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

New Prompt (Week Twenty-Five) Available at AnceStories2

I just posted a new prompt at AnceStories2: Stories of Me for My Descendants called "Your First Job."

I had several "first" jobs growing up. The first time I made any money apart from my parents was selling earthworms (25 cents a dozen) to fishing customers of the Log Cabin Resort next door (well, it wasn't a resort in those days...just a gift shop and a place where you could hire a fishing or hunting tour guide). It was owned (and still is) by the Fabry family just outside of Klawock, Alaska. (Skip Fabry was my fifth- and seventh-grade teacher.) On our little farm, we raised rabbits for meat and skins in a metal tool shed like the kind you could buy from Sears or Wards. Under the rabbit cages, we had deep stalls filled with earth to catch the rabbit droppings. Dad had ordered earthworms from somewhere and added them to the stalls to break down the compost. All of our food waste and garden waste was added and mixed into this compost pile. This rich composted soil was then mixed into our garden soil to fertilize it, along with the worms, which would naturally aerate the garden soil by digging little tunnels through it. I would get a spade and start digging and find a dozen worms, which I would place in an empty coffee can with more soil, cover it, and take it up the hill to the Fabrys.

My next two jobs were during high school. The first one was at my high school in Colville, Washington, where my dad worked as a custodian. He had heard from the cooks that there was a helper's position open. Every day, I would leave fourth period ten minutes early, go to the cafeteria, wash my hands and help serve lunch. The first few years, I worked right in the serving area. One of my duties was heating up and serving "chuckwagons," which were a meat and cheese sandwich on a sesame seed bun, heated briefly in a microwave so that the cheese would melt. They were in high demand...even more than hamburgers and pizza. I believe it was in my junior or senior year that I was put in charge of the salad bar, where would collect payment from the students. This job entitled me to a free lunch, and having a 50-minute lunch period, I had plenty of time to meet up with my friends and socialize before going on to fifth period. I worked in the cafeteria all four years of high school, and my experience there was a good asset for my resume for my next job. I enjoyed the cooks I worked with (I still remember the names of two of them: Earlene and Shirley), and in my senior year they all chipped together to buy me a nice gift for graduation. I also enjoyed the opportunity of checking out the cute guys that came through the lunch line. ;-) Sadly, I was such a nerd, none of them paid any attention to me! Besides which, I had no clue then that "cool" girls would rather be caught dead than work in the cafeteria! But I didn't think of those things; I thought of it as a good job experience and a way to earn a good, hot lunch.

The first job I had where I had to fill out an application and pay taxes was working at The Salvation Army Camp Gifford at Deer Lake in Eastern Washington, near the city of Loon Lake, off Highway 395. You may remember that my parents worked for The Salvation Army in Alaska; when we moved to Eastern Washington, we would occasionally attend services at the Corps (church) in Spokane, which is how I learned about the job opportunity at Camp Gifford. I worked there for all or part of the summers of 1982 - 1986. In the summer of 1982, I worked half the 10-week summer as a staff-in-training (SIT) and half as a kitchen helper, although really, it was the same job. I was listed as an SIT because it was a probationary period, but all that summer and the next, I had the same duties. Two other girls and I helped the cook prepare three meals and a snack and serve them. The last three summers there, I was a counselor. I have such wonderful memories of my summers there, and in writing about this, I realized I'll have to write in more detail about those times, for my kids' sakes. There were a lot of first experiences those summers: my first boyfriend, my first kiss, learning how to swim, and learning how to water-ski were some of those great times. I also learned that having a job required paying expenses; besides paying taxes, I had to contribute towards the cost of gas for the 70-mile round-trip journey required for my dad to pick me up each Saturday morning, and then repeat Sunday evening to begin the next session. My money was used to purchase school clothes, yearbooks, and any extras that I wanted to have over the next year.

I feel fortunate because most all of the jobs I've had were pleasant, learning experiences where I made new friends and enjoyed what I did to make a living. I'll never be rich from the wages I've earned, but my life has been enriched because of the jobs I've had.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Jessica's Genejournal Celebrates 100 Posts!

Get on over to Jessica's Genejournal and congratulate her on her 100th post! A fellow Michigan genea-blogger, she's been blogging since March, and has amassed an impressive blogroll! This history major also manages three Michigan county Yahoo! groups: St. Joseph, Wayne, and Saginaw-Bay Counties.

Congratulations, Jessica!

Thursday, October 04, 2007

The 33rd Edition of the Carnival of Genealogy Has Been Posted

Jasia of Creative Gene is the hostess of the 33rd Edition of the Carnival of Genealogy, whose theme this time is Weddings! As usual, there is a wonderful assortment of interesting reads shared from bloggers' ancestral or extended family weddings. I hope you'll take a little journey back in time and savor these submissions.

Due to illness the last two weeks, I did not submit any posts this time; however, I hope to post two related articles between now and Sunday. One is about one of my great-great-grandparent couples and how I haven't been able to find their marriage date and location (UPDATE: posted here) ...although I do know they were married! The other is more current and is titled "Three Generations of Wedding Dresses." Stay tuned!

If you would like to participate in the next Carnival, our topic will be "Halloween and the Supernatural!" The deadline is October 15th, and you can submit yours at this link.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

DeVRIES-BOS Marriage License & Certificate of Marriage

One of the genea-bloggers I truly admire is Steve Danko, who is working towards his certification as a professional genealogist. He posts the records he's researching on his blog and cites each one according to the high standards set forth by the professional genealogical community. Because I have just recently received another package of documents and photos relating to my DeVRIES and HOEKSTRA families--way too much to scan in just a couple of Scanfest settings--I thought I would follow Steve's example somewhat and just scan and post a record every day or so from this treasure trove. For obvious privacy reasons, items pertaining to living persons and some recently-deceased persons will not be shared here.

Below are the obverse and reverse images of the marriage license and certificate of marriage for my (step) great-grandparents, George DeVRIES and Josephine BOSS.

(click on image to see full size)

No. 7505 1911

Marriage License

To Any Person Legally Authorized to Solemnize Marriage--GREETINGS:



Affidavit having been filed in this office, as provided by Act 128, Laws of 1887, as amended, by which it appears that said George De Vries is 24 years of age, color is White, residence is Grand Rapids, Michigan and birthplace was Netherlands, Eu., occupation is Machine Hand[,] father's name Ben De Vries and mother's maiden name was Adriana Wieringa has been previously married no times, and that said Josephine Boss is 26 years of age, color is White[,] residence is Grand Rapids, Michigan and birthplace was Michigan[,] occupation is Domestic[,] father's name Millard Boss and mother's maiden name was Kate Sigteman [sic] and who has been previously married no times, and whose maiden name was [blank] and whose [blank] consent, in case she has not attained the age of eighteen years, has been filed in my office.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto attached my hand and the seal of the Circuit Court of Kent
County, Michigan, this 11th day of May A.D. 1911
RALPH A. MOSHER[,] County Clerk
By Rob't G. Hill[,] Deputy Clerk

Certificate of Marriage

Between Mr. George De Vries and M[iss] Josephine Boss
I Hereby Certify that in accordance with the above License the persons herein mentioned were joined in marriage by me at Grand Rapids[,] County of Kent, Michigan, on the 11th day of May A.D. 1911 in the presence of J. Hoogstra of Grand Rapids,Mich. [sic] and J. Doll of Coopersville, Mich. as witnesses.
L. Veltkamp
Name of Magistrate of Clergyman
Official Title

(click on image to see full size)

County of Kent }

I, Lewis J. Donovan, Clerk of the Circuit Court for said County of Kent, do hereby certify that the foregoing is a true and correct transcript of Record of Marriage compared by me with the original, now on record in the office of the Clerk of said County, in Liber #16 of Marriages, page 65, and of the whole of such original record.
IN TESTIMONY WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand and official seal at the city of Grand Rapids, in said county, this 25th day of May[,] one thousand nine hundred and fifty four.
By Claude L. Barkley [signed], Deputy

This was originally in the papers of my (step) grandfather, Adrian DeVRIES. It was apparently obtained by him in 1954, although for what purpose, I'm not sure. Perhaps he was assisting his father, George DeVRIES, with legal or financial matters, and this document was needed. This time period (1954) was between the years that Josephine died in 1946, and George's death in 1959. This is a photocopy; the original certificate remains in the possession of my uncle. The citation would read (according to my RootsMagic software): "Kent County Marriage Liber 16: Page 65, Clerk of the Circuit Court, Grand Rapids, Kent, Michigan."

Because I am very familiar with Michigan marriage records, I know that this record was copied and typed onto a certificate in 1954 from information handwritten into liber 16, page 65, record 7505, and that it may not have been recorded in that marriage liber until up to a year after the marriage took place (1911). In turn, that recording of c. 1911 - 1912 would have been copied from the marriage return that the clergyman, L. Veltkamp, would have had to submit to the county clerk. The type of license and certificate shown in this record were not actually used until later in the century. They are used here to record the information from the liber in a convenient format. Thus, this official document is not necessarily a primary one, as the original written information has been copied twice: from the marriage return to the marriage liber, and from the marriage liber to the certificate.

One thing I noticed were the anglicized versions of the various individuals' Dutch and Frisian names. George DeVRIES was originally named Jarig Egbert Binnes DeVRIES, which when anglicized, becomes George Edward Benjamin DeVRIES; although the "Binnes" translates more correctly to "Ben's son" or "Benson". Josephine BOSS was originally named Johanna BOS. "BOSS" is an alternate spelling; it's the only time I've seen the family name spelled this way. Her name was later anglicized to Josephine BUSH. Her father, named Millard BOSS here, was originally Melle BOS, and her mother Kate SIGTE(R)MAN, was originally Trientje ZIGTERMAN. SIGTERMAN was also spelled SICHTERMAN in the U.S. George's parents, Ben DeVRIES and Adriana WIERINGA, were originally Binnes Jarigs DeVRIES and Adriaantje (sometimes spelled Adriaantze) WIERINGA.

The "J. HOOGSTRA" that appears as a witness would likely have been George's stepfather, John HOOGSTRA. I do not know who J. DOLL is; perhaps a friend of Josephine's. I haven't yet come across a cousin or other relative of either the bride or groom with that surname. Both the BOS and ZIGTERMAN families had at one time or another lived in or near Coopersville, in neighboring Ottawa County.

There will be much more forthcoming on the DeVRIES (and related) families.

Monday, October 01, 2007

A Terrific Day of Genealogy!

Every once in a while, I have one of those great genealogy days that makes up for those frustrating ones of researching dead ends and brick walls! Today was one of those terrific days of genealogy! First of all, when I came home from work, I found treasures in the mail: the November issue of Internet Genealogy; the May/June issue (overdue?) of Michigana, the quarterly of the Western Michigan Genealogical Society, of which I am a member; and a package from my maternal uncle containing--among many things--originals and copies of family birth, marriage, and death certificates, obituaries, funeral cards, graduation and wedding announcements, napkins from weddings and anniversaries, and photographs of every home in which my maternal grandmother lived in Grand Rapids, Kent County, Michigan, as well as assessors' records of Grand Rapids family homes and properties going back five generations! Wow! I'll be blogging the details about this soon! And I've got plenty more material for my next Scanfest!

I finished off my day by teaching my first evening of my latest Beginning Online Genealogy class through the Community Colleges of Spokane's Institute for Extended Learning, with eight eager students. A student from a computer class next door wandered in and asked about my courses and said she'll sign up for my next one, as well. It's hard to imagine a nicer day!

Happy Family History Month!

October has always been one of my favorite months, with several family members' and close friends' birthdays, the full-blown expression of fall (my favorite season), our annual Robbins Reunion, and--of course--Family History month! There are many ways to celebrate this, whether as a family or with your local genealogical society. The Eastern Washington Genealogical Society always has its all-day October Workshop the first weekend in October, in place of its general society meeting. Often a well-known speaker is invited in; but sometimes, like this year, we combine local talents and skills and present a wonderful program such as "Journeys: Tracing the Steps of Our Ancestors." This theme centers on immigration records and migration trails, and I'm looking forward to expanding my knowledge in these areas!

This month is also Heritage Month for those of Czech-, German-, Italian-, and Polish-American ancestry. If your heritage includes one or more of these ethnic groups, you may wish to check with your local genealogical, historical, or ethnic societies--or with your local library--to see what events may be scheduled in your community to celebrate this. Check again with your library to see if books and other materials on your heritage are displayed for easy access and check out. You may also wish to visit genealogical book websites and stores to see if books, CDs and other medium are on sale for these particular heritage groups. I recommend the Ancestry.com store, Genealogical Publishing Company, Willow Bend Books, and Amazon.com.

Keep a lookout at major genealogy websites for specials as well: Ancestry, WorldVitalRecords, Footnote, and others sometimes offer limited access to related databases during holidays or heritage months.

And check out Kimberly Powell's lists of ways to celebrate the month at About.com: Genealogy! Enjoy celebrating your heritage and your family history!