Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Online Historical Newspapers Website

A little announcement to you, my readers of another new website I've started, the Online Historical Newspapers Website. Like the Online Historical Directories Website, you'll find links digitized historical newspapers online available for free or through subscription. The site is and will continue to be a work in progress, as so many newspapers continue to be digitized and added to the web. My first goal is to get the newspapers listed at the Library of Congress's Chronicling America project. I'm adding other free digitized newspapers found at state archives and university websites, and also those at subscription websites, such as GenealogyBank, NewspaperARCHIVES, Ancestry, Footnote, and WorldVitalRecords. I will not be linking to transcribed articles or obituaries, but to whole digitized newspapers only!

If you have a favorite digitized newspaper database, please drop me an email and let me know so I can add it to my site. And like the directories site blog, there is a corresponding blog for the newspapers site to keep you updated of changes and additions. Please add the site and the blog to your list of resources!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Chasing Clarissa Across the Internet

I always enjoy the time between Christmas and New Years Day. It's a time I always have off from work (I'm a middle school staff member), the pressure and stress of preparing for the Big Day has come and gone, the house is still clean (!), and I feel I can relax without guilt and wallow in genealogy and the Internet simultaneously!

Christmas Night I started out on a hunch to try to find the parents of my brickwall ancestor, Clarissa Mary CLEVELAND (c. 1832 - 1877). I knew from the Civil War Veteran's pension file of her husband, Levi Edward McLALLIN (sometimes spelled McCLELLAN[D]) that they had been married 6 August 1848 in Cottrellville Township, St. Clair County, Michigan. Levi and Clarissa can be found in the 1850 U.S. Federal Census in China Township, St. Clair County along with a woman named Rachel who is probably Levi's mother, and a man named Reuben, likely Levi's brother. I've been poking and prodding at the McLALLIN family tree for sometime now, trying to find out what became of Reuben and a man named William with the same surname that served in the same unit as Levi during the Civil War, and I'm not coming up with much success. Part of the problem is the complication of the surname spelling and variations, even using Soundex searches (Mc vs. Mac or no prefix at all; Cl vs. L or no leading C or L at all [McCALLUM or MELLON]; -n vs.-nd vs. -m). However, I realized that CLEVELAND has a lot less variations, and it was likely Clarissa had parents, siblings, or other relatives living in St. Clair County at that time.

My first search for any CLEVELAND household in St. Clair County in 1850 brought up the China Township household of Wm R. CLEVELAND (b. c. 1795, MA), his presumed wife Lydia (b. c. 1797, NY), and their presumed daughter, Catherine (b. c. 1838, NY). Those of you familiar with the censuses understand that relationships of those in the household to the head of that household are not stated until the 1880 census. Also in this household are John (b. c. 1822) and Ann (b. c.  1823) KELLY and their children Robert (b. c. 1844), David (b. c. 1846), and Sarah (b. c. 1849). All the KELLY family members were born in Canada.

Searching in St. Clair County for CLEVELANDs in 1860 brings up William R. and Lydia CLEVELAND once again in China Township (minus Catherine, who may have been married or deceased by this time). It also finds in the same location the household of Ambrose CLEVELAND, b. c. 1828 in New York, his presumed wife Jane (b. c. 1833, NY), and their presumed children Sylvia (b. c. 1849), William (b. c. 1853), and Margret (b. c. 1857), all born in Michigan. At this point, I'm thinking Ambrose is William and Lydia's son and possibly my Clarissa's brother.

Next, I found William in 1870 in the household of Jacob (b. c. 1834, NY) and Cordelia (b. c. 1839, NY) ALLEN in Casco Township, St. Clair County. Interestingly enough, there is an Ada McCLELLAND (b. c. 1862, MI) also in the household! This is my little bit of evidence that suggests that Clarissa is William and Lydia's daughter!  Why would Clarissa (and Levi)'s (possible) daughter be living with William, Jacob, and Cordelia? Perhaps she was helping out Cordelia with housework, as there are no other children listed. Perhaps Levi and Clarissa were having difficulty feeding all the mouths in their own household. For whatever reason, this census record gives evidence that there is a relationship between this CLEVELAND household and a McCLELLAND household that likely could be--or linked to--my Levi McLALLIN/McCLELLAND and Clarissa CLEVELAND. Also, it appears that Cordelia is another daughter of William and Lydia CLEVELAND.

William does not appear in the 1880 census, so my next stop was FamilySearch's Record Search, in the Michigan Death Records. I looked for both him and Lydia, knowing she probably died between 1860 and 1870 and that Michigan started keeping track of death records in 1867.  I did not find Lydia, but I did find William's death record. He died 17 March 1877 in Chesterfield Township, Macomb County, Michigan. Chesterfield is a location where the two eldest children of Clarissa's daughter, my ancestor Cornelia McLALLIN, were born. His parents are listed as [--?--] CLEVELAND and Sylvia [--?--]. Ambrose CLEVELAND's oldest daughter is named Sylvia. Also, in attempting to find Lydia's death record, I found the death record for Mrs. Cordelia ALLEN (b. c. 1838). She also died in Chesterfield on 2 February 1878, the daughter of William R. and Lydia CLEVELAND.

Further searches at FamilySearch to locate the whereabouts of Ann and John KELLY, Catherine CLEVELAND, and Jacob ALLEN after his wife's death, were futile. I then went to Seeking Michigan and looked up Ambrose CLEVELAND's death certificate, verifying that he was the son of William CLEVELAND and Lydia SHAW. Aha! a maiden name for Lydia at last! Ambrose was born 1 March 1828 in New York and died 10 March 1908 in Riley Center, St. Clair County. Riley Township was the location in which Sylvester FREDENBURG, Clarissa's son-in-law died in 1879.

So far, I've verified that William R. CLEVELAND and Lydia SHAW had at several children, Ambrose (b. 1828), Catherine (b. c. 1838), and Cordelia (b. c.1839). It's possible that Catherine and Cordelia are one and the same person. Ann KELLY is another possible daughter, and Ada McCLELLAND may be a granddaughter. This CLEVELAND family lived in locations that mirror those of my McLALLIN family and their descendants.

So where can I go with this? I've already searched through online versions of the history of the CLEVELAND family and so far can't place William definitely in any of the family groups listed within those volumes. I did find another researcher on a message board who is researching "William Riley CLEVELAND and Lydia SHAW, " who has information on two more daughters; Lucretia, b. 1818, and Sylvia, b. 1824. Both were born near Troy, New York. Lucretia married Stephen PARTLOW, possibly in Rensselaer County, New York, and Sylvia married John PARTLOW. The latter couple went to Wisconsin. I will be contacting this researcher and perhaps we can put our skills and resources together to find out more about this family group.

What offline resources can I check out? A probate record of William R. CLEVELAND could tie in my Clarissa as a daughter of his, although it's possible it might not. He died in March 1877 and she died in September of that same year. I should find the marriage records of Ambrose and his wife Jane, and Cordelia and her husband Jacob, to see if Clarissa appears as a witness on them. I should also reexamine my McLALLIN records to see if any of the individuals or surnames mentioned above appear in any of their documents. I'll be checking the Family History Library Catalog for microfilms of the records I need and order them to my local Family History Center.

While I don't have solid evidence that William and Lydia are my Clarissa's parents, my theory is still a strong one and I'll continue to pursue these leads until I am certain they either are or are not!

Madness Monday Post Delayed

My Madness Monday post on James Barber, his obituary, and the followup from researching clues from his death certificate (last week's post) will probably be delayed a day or so. I'm actively pursuing some hot leads on this man via cemetery records and have to make a phone call back east to confirm and/or gather more information. Stay tuned!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Citing Those Christmas Cards, Holiday E-mails, and Family Photos

It's the day after Christmas, and unlike all the (other) crazy people out there, you've decided to avoid the after-Christmas sales and start entering all the new and updated family information from your stack of Christmas cards, holiday e-mails and family holiday photos you've received over the past month into your genealogy software.

Now, if you have some of the newer genealogy software like RootsMagic or Legacy Family Tree, you're fortunate in that each have a built-in citation generator. Choose the source type from a drop-down menu, add the pertinent data, and voila! Your citations are in place. But just in case you don't have the latest software, or you'd like to ensure your citations are up to standard, you may wish to consult Evidence Explained: History Sources form Artifacts to Cyberspace by Elizabeth Shown Mills to see what the expert has to say. According to Ms. Mills, your stack of holiday mail and portraits is categorized as personal files and privately held materials. So let's create some scenarios and list the citation formats.

Your name is Jo Researcher and you live in Chicago. Your first item is a Christmas card from your mother's cousin, John Smith in Seattle. On the back, he has written a note stating his older step-sister, Mary (Jones) Brown, passed away in September, and would you please be so kind to let your mother know, as he's lost her address.  As you enter Mary's data into your software, giving the death date of September 2009, you realize you'll have to contact Cousin John to get more pertinent details, such as the exact date and the location of her death, as well as burial or cremation information. Oh, yes, and you must send him your mother's address as well. As you do. Every. Year.

Your bibliography would read:
2009 Researcher Family Christmas Cards. Privately held by Jo Researcher, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE,] Chicago, Illinois.

If you used the source in a footnote in a report or family history book, the first reference would be:
1. John Smith, Seattle, Washington, to Jo Researcher, Christmas card, 22 December 2009, mentioning September 2009 death of Mary (Jones) Brown; privately held by Researcher, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE,] Chicago, Illinois.

Mentioned again later, the short footnote would be:
11. Smith to Researcher, 22 December 2009.


Scenario Number Two: Uncle Charlie, your husband's charming bachelor uncle with a reputation for being a ladies' man, has sent a mass e-mail informing the family he has finally tied the knot Christmas Day while vacationing in Fiji over the winter holidays. Of course, Uncle Charlie has forgotten to mention some important details, such as his lovely new bride's name, but while you wait for him to respond to your query on the matter, you cite the original e-mail as so:

Researcher Family E-mails. Privately held by Jo and Joe Researcher, [(E-ADDRESS) AND STREET ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE,] Chicago, Illinois.

1. Charles Chaplin, Jr., Navini, Fiji [(E-ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE),] to Jo and Joe Researcher, e-mail, 26 December 2009, "You'll Never Guess What Happened!" Researcher Family E-Mails; privately held by Researcher [(E-ADDRESS) AND STREET ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE,] Chicago, Illinois.

Short footnote:
11. Chaplin to Researcher, e-mail, 26 December 2009.

Scenario Number Three: your second cousin, three times removed, Sarah Ann Snedeker, sends you a photo of her kids taken with the mall Santa. On the back, she writes, "Timmy (11), Tommy (9), and Tammy (7)."  You enter their birth dates into your software as c. 1998, c. 2000, and c. 2002, respectively. Before you store the photo in  your archival-safe photo box labeled "2009 Family Photos," you also cite the following:

Snedeker Children with Santa. Photograph. 2009. Privately held by Jo Researcher, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE,] Chicago, Illinois. 2009.
1. Snedeker Children with Santa photograph, 2009, privately held by Jo Researcher, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE,] Chicago, Illinois. 2009. Caption on reverse states, "Timmy (11), Tommy (9), and Tammy (7)."

Short footnote:
11. Snedeker Children with Santa photograph, 2009 Researcher Family Photos.

Last, but not least: your half-brother's ex-wife's sister has sent you a Christmas card and you notice the matching envelope has a personalized return address label with a cutesy "New Address!" caption on it. Entering a new residence fact for her in my software, you realize this is the 15th residence she's had in four years...that you know about! This actually fits under personal correspondence, like your first scenario, so here goes:

2009 Researcher Family Christmas Cards. Privately held by Jo Researcher, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE,] Chicago, Illinois.
1. Janie Doe Reindeer, Los Angeles, California, to Jo Researcher, Christmas card, 14 December 2009, return label notifying a new address; privately held by Researcher, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE,] Chicago, Illinois.
Short footnote:
11. Reindeer to Researcher, 14 December 2009.

(The following is read in a fast, auctioneer-style of information-giving one hears when listening to the end of a television commercial for a pharmaceutical product, with the hope that you will not notice that the quantity and quality of side effects are surely more annoying and even dangerous than the original symptoms from which you hoped to receive relief.)

All of the characters in the above scenarios are fictitious, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental. Citation examples are gleaned from Elizabeth Shown Mills' Evidence Explained: History Sources form Artifacts to Cyberspace (Genealogical Publishing Company, Inc., 2007 [1st edition]); any errors in citation are my own and are not a reflection of the excellent work of Ms. Mills. It is recommended that all readers consult a copy of Evidence Explained for themselves and even more strongly recommended that all genealogists and family historians actually own and use a copy at home. Regularly and religiously.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merrie Christmas

Postcard to Rena Lerfald from Cousin Adelia, 14 Dec 1909. Westaby-Lerfald Postcard Collection. Privately held by Troy Midkiff, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE,] Vancouver, Washington. 2009.

My family and I will be crowded around the old oak table once owned by my great-grandmother, enjoying a Christmas feast of ham, homemade pies, and many other goodies. My parents, my brother, my sister, my three young nephews, and my daughter will join my husband, my son, and me to exchange gifts, memories, stories, and laughter. Best of all, no snow! I'm rejoicing that for once, we won't have a white Christmas, and those of you across the continent who are experiencing what we did last year most likely will understand. The best and "merrie-est" wishes to you and yours on this day!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories No. 24: Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve

How did you and your family spend Christmas Eve?

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

While we had lived in Alaska, my parents had become friendly with the clergy from various denominations in the area, and we usually stayed at the Catholic rectory in Ketchikan whenever we had to stay overnight for business or medical appointments. Several times, my parents hosted ecumenical services with Catholics, Presbyterians, and Pentecostals, and we often attended mass at one of our Catholic friends' homes whenever the priest came over from Ketchikan. Once we moved to Washington, we "adopted" an elderly couple who were neighbors of ours as surrogate grandparents. Their children lived too far away to drive them into town for Midnight Mass, so we would always take "Grandma Anne" with us. I always loved the beautiful ritual of the mass, the carols of the choir in the loft behind us, and the light shining through the stained glass out into the snow. My favorite part was the finale with the Hallelujah Chorus as everyone exited the church, and it always seemed to echo through my head as we drove back home later that night, up the snowy mountain roads.

This post is a part of the "Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories" meme created in 2007 by Thomas and Jasia. You, too, can write your own Christmas memories, either for your personal journal or blog. Visit Geneabloggers to participate and to read others' posts on these topics.

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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Free Access to World Vital Records

World Vital Records has announced free access to their databases from December 23 - December 28, 2009. This is free as in no credit card number is needed! I went to their website and the following pop-up window appeared:

UPDATE: I just received information from an employee of World Vital Records that this IS access to the ENTIRE website, including the World Collection!

They are also offering 40% off their World Collection Membership through Monday, December 28th. Instead of $99.95 for an annual subscription, it has been reduced to $59.95, at an average of $4.99 a month.

My recommendation? Check out their free access and then determine if this is a subscription you will find useful. If so, take your opportunity and sign up for the reduced subscription!

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Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories No. 23: Christmas Sweetheart Memories

Christmas Sweetheart Memories

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

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

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

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

This post is a part of the "Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories" meme created in 2007 by Thomas and Jasia. You, too, can write your own Christmas memories, either for your personal journal or blog. Visit Geneabloggers to participate and to read others' posts on these topics.

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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Eight More Washington State Newspapers Added to the Library of Congress' Chronicling America Webste

From the Washington State Library blog:

On Friday, December 18, more than 42,000 historic newspaper pages from 8 Washington newspapers were contributed by the Washington State Library to the Chronicling America web site, hosted by the Library of Congress...More pages from other newspapers around Washington State will be periodically uploaded throughout 2010 as part of WSL’s National Digital Newspaper Program (NDNP) grant.  Pages will also be loaded locally and included in the WSL’s existing Historic Newspapers in Washington collection.

Representation from Washington State Newspapers:

I lived for five years in Colville, when I first moved to Washington State, and the newspaper now is called the Statesman-Examiner, after an obvious merge. I'm excited to see this collection, as I have an ancestor's brother that lived in this county in the early part of the 20th century, as well as a niece whose birth father's ancestors were pioneers in the area. If you have Washington State ancestors, you'll definitely want to check out these FREE resources!

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Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories No. 22: Christmas and Deceased Relatives

Christmas and Deceased Relatives

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

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

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

This post is a part of the "Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories" meme created in 2007 by Thomas and Jasia. You, too, can write your own Christmas memories, either for your personal journal or blog. Visit Geneabloggers to participate and to read others' posts on these topics.

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Monday, December 21, 2009

The Carnivals Are in Town!

The December Carnivals have arrived here in town! For those who are new to the term "blogging carnival," think of a magazine (carnival) whose articles (posts)--all on a theme--are written by many authors (bloggers) at their home blogs. The table of contents for this digital magazine appears at the host's blog.  Each month, there are at least half a dozen genealogy carnivals available to read, or to contribute to, if you're a blogger. I list each upcoming carnival at my Calendar of Events posts, written on the first of each month. You can refer to each month's Calendar as much as you want, for whenever a new carnival is published, I update the post.

The 7th Edition of the Canadian Genealogy Carnival has a Carousel (choose your own) theme. This carnival is always interesting even to those who may not have Canadian ancestors!

The 86th Edition of the Carnival of Genealogy was a "two-fer"; in other words, it had two themes: The "Other" December Events, and Our Wish Lists for Genea-Santa. There were 17 submissions for the first theme and 22 for the second.

The 19th Edition of the Smile for the Camera Carnival has been published at Shades of the Departed. With "The Gift" being a theme, there were a record-breaking 62 submissions! Wow! My own story, Christmas Gifts, was also written for the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories, as were many other submissions.


As for upcoming carnivals, be on the lookout later this week for the Festival of Postcards (theme: White). Jessica is extending the deadline for the the 25th Edition of the Carnival of Central and Eastern European Genealogy (Christmas or Hanukkah Traditions) until December 28th, and submissions for the January 2010 Edition of the Graveyard Rabbits Carnival (Final Resting Place) are due December 25th.

Other holiday events include the Holiday 2009 Geneabloggers Cookbook (free) and the annual Blog Caroling Event hosted by the footnoteMaven. And Donna has republished "'Twas Just Days Before Christmas" to the amusement of all!

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Madness Monday: The Death Certificate of James W. BARBER

Way back in January, I wrote the post "Who Are Our Brickwall Ancestors, and Why Aren't We Blogging About Them Regularly?"  I decided to write about one brickwall ancestor per month. I started off with my first brickwall post on my 2nd-great-grandmother, Berber J. "Barbara" (DeJONG) VALK. But when it came time to write about the next one on my list (I'm writing about them in ahnentafel order), I realized my information about James W. BARBER wasn't very organized and I had a lot of loose ends. Throw in a major computer crash that wasn't repaired until four months later, a return to a busy school year, and a state genealogical conference, and I simply got nowhere. I realized the answer to my question: we aren't blogging about our brickwall ancestors, because we aren't organized, and we don't have/aren't taking the time to analyze the information we do have!

I've mentioned recently that I purchased a subscription to Michael John Neill's Casefile Clues, and like many of his subscribers, I've been inspired to reexamine my information to see if I can break down my brickwalls. James W. BARBER, my 3rd-great-grandfather, is one of my most frustrating brickwalls. He has a rather common name, and thus far, I've not been able to find names of parents or siblings for him. I first discover him in 1871 in Canada, married to his wife, Elizabeth COLE, with the first four of their eventual 10 children. I know he was born in England and was a Baptist, a laborer, and apparently never owned land. Rather than list all the information I have on James W. BARBER in one post, I decided to highlight each document I have, working backward in history. I have three death-related records: a death certificate, an obituary, and a tombstone photo with sketchy burial information. I am highlighting James's death certificate first.

Michigan Department of State, death certificate no. 6 (1912), James Barber [indexed as Barbor]; digital image, State of Michigan, Seeking Michigan ( : 2009).

(click on above image to enlarge)

When I first downloaded this death certificate from the Seeking Michigan website, I was not disappointed to see that there were no parents listed for James because a step-descendant of his had already looked up his death record in the Genesee County Death Records and discovered this information a few years prior. However, the death certificate has more details than the death record, such as informant's name and address, the attending physician's name, the duration of the contributing cause of death, the undertaker's name, and burial date and location. When I first looked at this certificate, the only "new" thing that hit me was a burial date, since again, the step-cousin had found James's grave in Mount Morris Cemetery. What forced me to reexamine this document again were two things: entering all the pertinent data, line by line, into my RootsMagic software (with everything cited according to Evidence Explained by Elizabeth Shown Mills), and preparing to write this post.

Something I already knew that bears mentioning is that the James's birth year and age are very likely incorrect on this document. Most of the documents I have found during his lifetime point to a birth year of 1841, and the 1900 U.S. Federal Census does confirm he was born in the month of July. So who gave out this incorrect information? Alex BARBER, the informant, was the youngest child of James and his wife, Elizabeth COLE. I find it surprising that he was the informant for several reasons: he didn't live in the community where James died; there were several other siblings who lived closer to the community where James died; and I have found through my genealogical experience that usually the spouse or one of the oldest children is normally the informant. Since Alexander was the youngest of nine surviving children, and one of the ones that lived furthest away from his father's place of death, I find it unusual that he was the informant. In my mind, it also explains the incorrect birth year and age listed for James.As a youngest child, he may not have been as familiar with the family information or known other older relatives that would have fixed a timeline of birth order and years into his mind the way the older children may have. Of course, this is merely conjecture, but it does provide a possibility as to the reason the birth information is incorrect.

Upon reanalyzing this document, I saw that the cause of James's death (injuries to the spine resulting from a fall from a building) had presented itself three years prior. That means when the 1910 U.S. Federal Census had been taken, he was disabled or in the process of being disabled, although a quick peek of that record gives no hint of this. It does help explain why he was enumerated in Montrose Township in 1910, but died in Mount Morris Township in 1912. Likely, he was being cared for by his eldest child, Lavinia, who is the only child in the obituary who is listed living in this location. It is also interesting that no residential information is listed on this death certificate. It would seem, too, that such an accident would perhaps warrant a newspaper article, so one idea is to try to find an account of this in a local paper to see if it yields further clues to other family relationships.

Next, I looked at the name of the attending physician. At first I thought it was P. H. CALLOW, but when running the surname through the search engine at Ancestry's 1910 U.S. Federal Census, I discovered it was actually F. H. CALLOW. Dr. Francis H. CALLOW and his wife Sarah E, lived in Montrose Village in Genesee Township in 1910; Dr. CALLOW had been born in England, just like James. Coincidence? Possibly. Did James and/or his wife Elizabeth seek out Dr. CALLOW because they preferred another expatriate to attend him? Did their families know each other in England? Or was it merely coincidence? It might be worth it to trace Dr. CALLOW's roots to see if they parallel the BARBER family's.

The next name I looked at was the undertaker's. I'm still stumped. It appears to be M. C. D'.... or DU...?  The next letter could be an "f", a "p", or an "r". I ran two searches at Ancestry: one for a keyword of "undertaker" in the 1910 U.S. Federal Census for Genesee County, Michigan, which yielded no results; and one for all listings in Mount Morris Township in Genesee County, Michigan, which yielded 1,131 results. I then ran through the list of results until I came to surnames beginning with D, and forenames beginning with M or C and found nothing that looked close to this surname. Despairing of having to expand my search to all of Genesee County, I looked at James's wife Elizabeth's death certificate to see if it yielded the same undertaker. It didn't; hers was from Lansing and appears to be T. R. PALIWA. So regretfully, I expanded my search to all of Genesee County, yielding 64,631 results and ran through the extremely long list until I came to the surnames beginning with D. I looked at 58 pages of  indexed D surnames with no luck. Perhaps one of my readers can figure out this surname! My hope is to locate the funeral home and see if there are more records on James located there. [Update: Read the comments to see how a reader helped successfully decipher the undertaker's name, and stay tuned for more information on where this clue led!]

So this death certificate has yielded three research possibilites: a newspaper article regarding James's fall; tracing Dr. CALLOW's roots to find a possible connection; and attempting to decipher the undertaker's name in order to trace funeral home records.

Next time, I'll highlight James's obituary.

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Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories No. 21: Christmas Music

Christmas Music

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

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

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

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

This post is a part of the "Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories" meme created in 2007 by Thomas and Jasia. You, too, can write your own Christmas memories, either for your personal journal or blog. Visit Geneabloggers to participate and to read others' posts on these topics.

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Sunday, December 20, 2009

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories No. 20: Christmas Church Services

Christmas Church Services

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

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

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

My very earliest Christmas church memory was of when I was not quite three years old, Christmas 1969. My mother wrote to her parents:
The Christmas program was held this morning at the Annette Protestant Chapel [at Annette Coast Guard Base in Southeast Alaska]. Miriam was one of 3 little angels and the smallest one; as she went out after singing her song, her halo and wings fell off! Bryan and I had a hard time to keep from laughing.

We angels had a song to sing and I used to remember what it was, but can't now for the life of me! I want to say it was "Angels We Have Heard On High," but I know that is not right. Too bad Mom didn't write down what it was!

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

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

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

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

This post is a part of the "Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories" meme created in 2007 by Thomas and Jasia. You, too, can write your own Christmas memories, either for your personal journal or blog. Visit Geneabloggers to participate and to read others' posts on these topics.

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Saturday, December 19, 2009

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories No. 19: Christmas Shopping

Christmas Shopping

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

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

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

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

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

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

This post is a part of the "Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories" meme created in 2007 by Thomas and Jasia. You, too, can write your own Christmas memories, either for your personal journal or blog. Visit Geneabloggers to participate and to read others' posts on these topics.

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Friday, December 18, 2009

News from the Washington State Library: Vashion Island Heritage Digital Collection

From the Washington State Library's blog:


The Washington Rural Heritage initiative is pleased to announce the publication of our latest collection, Vashon Island Heritage, A project of the Vashon Library (King County Library System) and the Vashon-Maury Island Heritage Association, the collection documents life on the island from the late 1800s through the 1960s.

Read more about the project, and quickly link to some of our favorite items, on the WSL blog:

Seven new digital collections are currently slated for publication in 2010, and a new Washington Rural Heritage grant cycle will be announced this spring. To learn more about participation in the initiative, contact Evan Robb, Project Manager, (360) 704-5228, or visit

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Snowpocalypse - Remembering December 17, 2008 and Other Winter Tales

You may remember the news a year ago, when the storm of the century hit Washington State and 24 inches of snow fell on Spokane in 24 hours. The following week, our city received as much snow in seven days as it normally does in a single season (six feet). Our city was shut down: no school, no city bus routes, no flights; in fact, our state was shut down for at least a day or two. It was a somber time, as we realized that weather could completely isolate a thriving community of half a million people. Our holiday plans were delayed and our children, like many in this area, didn't receive their gifts until after Christmas was over, due to shipping delays, or the inability of delivery trucks to maneuver the city.

The winter continued with a ferocity as snow continued to pile up through the next month. We received a record amount of snowfall and our city's budget was strained as the previous winter, we had received what was at that point, a record amount of snowfall in one week as well. Roofs started to collapse. There were 95 reported of failures in Spokane County and neighboring Kootenai County, Idaho, with 68 being primary structures. One elderly woman was killed when the roof of her home collapsed, but fortunately no one was killed or seriously injured when a major supermarket's roof collapsed during busy evening shopping hours. Snowblowers, snow shovels, roof rakes, and ice melt couldn't be bought for love nor money. Whenever a shipment of shovels or roof rakes came into a hardware store, lines formed for several blocks until they were sold out. One hardware store sold over 2,000 roof rakes alone that season.

But although it was a difficult and serious time, Spokane city and area rural residents did what we've been doing for ages, through Ice Storm 1996, Snow Storm 2008, and Snowpocalypse 2008-9: we pitched in and got to work. Neighbors helped neighbors by checking on each other, shoveling, notifying each other whenever they ran errands to see if they needed something picked up, shoveling, helping disabled neighbors get dug out, shoveling, sharing sand and ice melt, shoveling, raking off each other's roofs, shoveling, and did I mention shoveling?

I wrote several posts highlighting our family's experiences last winter, and have shared the links below. I'm also sharing a link to my geneablogging friend and fellow Washingtonian, the footnoteMaven, as she shared her own winter story from across the state:

(the snowstorm of January 2008; who knew the year would be bookended by record storms?)

Snowpocalypse 2008

(official police report received via e-mail; a story of the exception to Spokane's neighborliness)

(an unforgettable Christmas)

(a story of winter survival by the footnoteMaven)

(footage from one of our local television stations - KREM 2)

This winter is looking a lot milder, thank goodness. No matter what the future holds, we and our children will always remember the winters of 2007-8 and 2008-9, and I'm sure they'll live on in family history lore!

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Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories No. 18: Christmas Stockings

Christmas Stockings

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

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

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

This post is a part of the "Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories" meme created in 2007 by Thomas and Jasia. You, too, can write your own Christmas memories, either for your personal journal or blog. Visit Geneabloggers to participate and to read others' posts on these topics.

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Thursday, December 17, 2009

Fun Stuff for Genealogists

Are you still looking for that perfect gift for your favorite genealogist? Or some stocking stuffers? Maybe you'd like to fill out your wish list to give to your significant other before they go shopping for you.  It's not too late to order all sorts of genealogical goodies from Fun Stuff for Genealogists (!

To view their online catalog, go to the link above and click on the yellow Catalog button. My favorite product is the "Cite Your Sources" sticky notes (look under the Organize Yourself tab in the left-hand menu). Any Scanfesters out there still looking for cotton gloves to handle old documents and photos? Fun Stuff for Genealogists has them for the best price I've yet seen - $3.00 a pair (check out the Archival Preservation and Storage tab)!

Whatever your genealogical need or product, Fun Stuff for Genealogists is the resource for you!

[Disclosure: I have not been compensated monetarily in any way for this review.]

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Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories No. 17: Grab Bag

For my Grab Bag post today, I would like to focus on the Spirit of Christmas Present, not the Spirit of Christmas Past. And by Christmas Present, I mean Christmas presents!

The best gift that anyone can give me this year is to make sure that someone in need has a wonderful holiday. I want to thank all those who generously have given to my Online Red Kettle here on my blog and at Facebook. The image below shows how full my kettle is. My original goal was $500, and you can see how your donations have helped in achieving that goal:

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I also appreciate all those who have adopted a needy child and/or senior citizen in their community by purchasing something from their list of needs and wants.

It's never too late to help! I will continue to request donations and adoptions through Christmas Eve. The season of giving is 24/7/365!

This post is a part of the "Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories" meme created in 2007 by Thomas and Jasia. You, too, can write your own Christmas memories, either for your personal journal or blog. Visit Geneabloggers to participate and to read others' posts on these topics.

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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Welcome to My Blog!

A note to my long-time readers: Tuesday's Tips will return after the holidays.

If you are a new reader to my blog, I would like to extend a warm welcome to you! Yesterday, I was surprised to learn that Dick Eastman of Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter highlighted my post, "State Census Records Online," which sent a huge surge of traffic my way. Thank you, Dick, for your very kind words about my article and my blog in general, and thank you to all the new readers who stopped by as well as those who took the time to comment and add links to more online state census records.

For those of you who are new to this blog, I'd like to tell you a little about myself, my research, and my writing. I was born and grew up in Alaska, living mostly in the Southeast Panhandle on Prince of Wales Island in the small community of Klawock (population at that time was about 300). My parents were Salvation Army officers (ministers) who had moved to Alaska a year after they married because they were interested in serving the native population in a mission-type setting. They eventually joined The Salvation Army, which is a church first and a charitable organization second.

My childhood was very unique in that I lived in a native community where we had cultural lessons in school in the Tlinget language, crafts, dance and singing, and oral history. While my parents were pleased that I was receiving such a diverse education, they wanted to ensure that I understood that I had my own heritage of which to be proud. After some checking around with family, they figured out that besides an English heritage, my Dutch roots were very prominent, and they began to incorporate Dutch traditions into our home and lifestyle, such as celebrating St. Nicholas Day, purchasing children's books about the Netherlands, and decorating our home with Dutch motifs.

In addition to the above unique influences (The Salvation Army, the native community, and a strong awareness of my heritage), the area in which we lived was pretty remote, accessible by plane or boat only (and still). When we first moved there, there were only eight telephones in the village and they were all on a party line. Many homes did not have toilets, and although there was electricity, most people used oil heaters. There was no television on the island until 1978 and as it was a cable system, we did not subscribe. In the 1970s, during the back-to-earth movement, my parents built a home with hand tools (there was no electricity) outside the "city" limits and had a little farmstead where they raised pygmy goats, pigs, rabbits, and poultry. We had a good-sized garden and lived off the land and sea in bounty. We were beyond the village's sewer and electrical systems, so my father created our own water system (Southeast Alaska gets 160 - 180 inches of rain a year) and we used wood heat and kerosene lanterns, later graduating to propane to run our appliances. Needless to say, some of my favorite childhood books were those written by Laura Ingalls Wilder!

My parents were from Western Michigan and because we saw my extended family members so infrequently, visits from them were always An Event. This was probably also the reason that I paid attention to the stories my grandparents told me about their own parents and grandparents and was the beginning of my interest in genealogy. In 1979, we moved to Northeast Washington, which was, as you can imagine, quite the culture shock after my isolated childhood! We still had a small farmstead, but were not so reliant on the land. High school graduation led me to move south to Spokane, where I attended college and worked for The Salvation Army, meeting my children's father to whom I have been married for 22 years. We have a 19-year-old daughter who is a day care teacher and a nearly 16-year-old son who is a sophomore in high school. Our other two "children" are feline and keep us on our toes nearly as much as our teens do. I have worked as a special education instructional assistant for the local public school district for the past 10 years and can't think of a job outside genealogy that I could possibly love more!

In 1995, I began to search for my paternal grandmother's biological parents. Using the names she had given me, it took about three years to find some living relatives. Knowing what I know today, it would have taken me a few days. Using the online resources available today, it would have taken me a few hours! This has been the most rewarding thing that has happened because of my research: that my grandmother was reunited with her mother's family 70 years after her non-custodial father basically kidnapped her and her brother and dropped them off at an orphanage across the state. I continue to research both her biological and her adoptive families, as well as the many other surnames in both my own and my husband's ancestry. My genealogy website is also called AnceStories: The Stories of My Ancestors, which actually has more ancestor stories to read than what you'll find here. Part of it is named The Atlas Project after I spent a lot of time researching the families that settled in Atlas Township, Genesee County, Michigan where my grandmother was born. I store my husband's and my own genealogy databases at RootsWeb's WorldConnect.

Another project I've recently started is the Online Historical Directories website and its corresponding blog (have you ever wished you could find links to all the online city directories in one place? A place where they were listed by location and in date order? This is the purpose of the website). You may also wish to check out AnceStories2: Stories of Me for My Descendants, even though I no longer publish any new posts. There you'll find lists of questions to prompt writing your memories for future generations.

In addition to my research, I am actively involved with my local society, the Eastern Washington Genealogical Society, of which I am the 1st Vice President-elect. I co-ordinate our computer education classes for our members, and am one of three team bloggers for the society blog.

If you've made it this far without falling asleep or leaving the page for another blog, I thank you! Feel free to leave your comments or contact me directly. My posts are available to be reprinted in your society publications, with prior permission. And one more're all invited to the next Scanfest (stay tuned for more details)!


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Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories No. 16: Christmas at School

Christmas at School

What did you do to celebrate Christmas at school? Were you ever in a Christmas Pageant?

I've already shared how Santa came to my childhood hometown of Klawock, Alaska on his Cessna from Ketchikan, but before he arrived, we students had been busy decorating our classroom. Every classroom had a tree, which was gaily decorated with lights, ornaments, and red-and-green paper chains (no political correctness and sanitized holidays in those days!). The ornaments were often pictures we had cut out, colored and covered with glitter, hung on the tree with yarn or unbent paper clips. As the school custodian, there was nothing Dad hated more than glitter! Those little metallic bits would have drops of glue on them before accidentally getting brushed to the floor, laid with those rubber-backed carpet tiles. No matter how well he vacuumed during the holidays, the carpet would be littered with glue-encrusted bits of glitter that never really came free as they embedded themselves in the fibers. But we kids never worried our little heads about that! We listened to Mitch Miller and Alvin and the Chipmunks sing Christmas songs on the record player, and I remember our teacher getting out a book of classic Christmas songs and teaching us The Twelve Days of Christmas, as we giggled our way through what seemed to us very silly lyrics.

Every year, there was a Christmas play--or actually a series of plays--usually based on a theme, performed by each classroom. One year, it was old classic tales, with "The Bremen Town Musicians" and "Bartholomew and His 500 hats." I think our class did "Puss in Boots." Another year, each class did a play based on a Christmas song. I was the title character in our Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer skit. Someone was very clever, and took old, clean, dry bleach bottles, cut a large hole in one side, painted them brown, colored the lid end black and somehow added eyes and antlers. This was a "hat" that each of the reindeer actors wore. My "nose" was a red plastic Kool-aid mug, I think, that was taped on to the lid end. I also narrated the Frosty the Snowman play for another class that year. Still another year (I think this was 1973 - second grade) we acted out fairy tales. Our class performed Little Red Riding Hood, and I was the star. I loved acting and being the center of attention, probably not helped any by being an only child for the first seven years of my life! The reason I was given many starring and narrating roles was probably because 1) I was a good reader and could memorize my lines quickly; and 2) I wasn't bashful onstage and didn't mind speaking in front of an audience, which is not the Native way. Most of the students in my classes were naturally shy and soft-spoken.

The plays were first performed in the ANB/ANS hall until the school district built a gymnasium that had a stage at one end. Unfortunately, the only photograph I have is the following, which I believe was Christmas 1971 (Kindergarten). I am the smallest one in the front row dressed in a native Tlinget dress with two salmon on the front, because a group of us had performed a native dance just before our class sang a carol.
We must have been singing "Jingle Bells," because many of us have hand-held sleigh bells. It was either this year or the following year when each class presented a different country in the "Christmas Around the World" theme. The finale of that particular evening was a piñata that was broken. How we students scrambled to grab the candy that fell! Believe me, it was a free-for-all!

This post is a part of the "Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories" meme created in 2007 by Thomas and Jasia. You, too, can write your own Christmas memories, either for your personal journal or blog. Visit Geneabloggers to participate and to read others' posts on these topics.

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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories No. 15: The Holiday Happenings!

The Holiday Happenings!

Often times December to mid-January birthdays and anniversaries get over shadowed by the Christmas/Hanukkah/New Year holidays. So we're going to shine a spotlight on those family members and ancestors this time around. Select one or more December to mid-January birthdays and/or anniversaries on your family tree. Write a short tribute to or memory of those birthday guys and gals and write a toast to the anniversary couples.

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

Christmas Day births:

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

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

Christmas Day marriages:

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

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

Christmas Day deaths:

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

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

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

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

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

Because I try to keep my family members' personal information private, I won't name names for this post, but will wish a Happy Birthday and a Happy Anniversary to all those in my family whose special days fall during the months of December and early January!

This post is a part of the "Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories" meme created in 2007 by Thomas and Jasia. You, too, can write your own Christmas memories, either for your personal journal or blog. Visit Geneabloggers to participate and to read others' posts on these topics.

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