Friday, February 27, 2015

Friday Finds and Follows: 27 February 2015

Articles and posts that caught my eye:

Finding Charlotte by Marion Pierre Louis at Marion's Roots and Rambles - Marion shares her delight in finally discovering her ancestor's final resting place and breaking down a brick wall. Encouragement for us all!

New Michigan Database on -- Michigan Marriage Records 1867-1952 by LE at MCGG and Let's Talk...Genealogy - I was so excited to see this database with images online! I was able to find two more marriages for my great-grandmother, totalling six marriages and divorces in all!

Gettin' My Feet Wet by Jasia at Creative Gene - Jasia is one of my long-time geneablogging buddies and it's so good to read one of her posts again!

Lesson On Local Land Records by Donna Potter Phillips at the Eastern Washington Genealogical Society Blog - Donna and EWGS society researcher Charles explain where to locate Spokane County land records today.

I just discovered a new fact about my great grandparents by Becky Jamison of Grace and Glory - a good reminder to go back and review our source documents

More Genealogy Copyright Issues by Michael J. Leclerc at the Mocavo Blog - Michael relates how a member of the audience violated his copyright during a presentation he was giving, and explains why it's important not to "share."

Tuesday Tips ~ Keeping a Brick Wall Ancestors File! by Angela M. Money at Northern Mama: Family History ~ Family Life - some great tips for migrating index cards to Evernote!

A Genealogy 101 No No by Tim Firkowski at The Genealogy Assistant - have you really done genealogy if you don't have documentation?

My New Genealogy and History Follows at Twitter:

@GaGenSociety, @HVSresearch, @IrishMason@CarrieAnnSmith5, @peopleinplaces, @MoisesGarza81, @PatrickJSMith4, @OriginHunters, @AGRAGenealogy, @Workhouses, @OldBaileyOnline, @walkingyourtree, @NV_Amber, @DigiGenie

Genealogy Facebook Pages I've "Liked":

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Sunday, February 22, 2015

February 2015 Scanfest

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Friday, February 20, 2015

Friday Finds and Follows: 20 February 2015

Articles and posts that caught my eye:

New list of Canadian online resources by Gail Dever at Genealogy à la carte - I've added Gail's blog to the long list of Canadian geneabloggers I follow because of my own extensive Canadian ancestry. In this case, Gail is referencing another geneablogger, Jo Henn, whose list of Canadian online resources is da bomb!

The Benefits of Genealogy Blogging by Jana Last at Jana's Genealogy and Family History Blog - Jana has great reasons why she blogs her genealogy, and I can say "Amen!" to each one.

Which Research Path To Follow? by Lee Drew at Lineagekeeper's Genealogy Blog  - I've been thinking the same thing Lee has lately: What's going to happen to my research after I'm gone? What's the best use of the time I have left on this planet?

Copyright and the genealogy lecture and Credit and copyright by Judy G. Russell at The Legal Genealogist - Sigh. Unfortunately, Judy has to, once again, remind conference-goers that using speakers' handouts, photographing their slides, and recording their presentations is off-limits (without permission).

Vanished mental-health archives stymie genealogists by Joe Smydo at the Pittsburg Post-Gazette - This is another one I've puzzled over. I, too, have ancestors in the distant past who were incarcerated in institutions. Their mental health issues may be hereditary. But can I access their records? Why not?

Historical Document Photo-shopped on Dr. Henry Louis Gates' Program by George Geder on his LinkedIn account - You'll have to have a LinkedIn account to read this, but I hope you will. This is a troubling revelation, even if it was done in the interest of saving time.

My New Genealogy Follows at Twitter:

@OhioHistory, @OhioHistory, @lostancestors, @TheOnlineGeneal, @empalmr, @1lowee, @MelTafaro, @genealogy4you, @wheechmcgee, @AncientFaces, @JayneShrimpton

Genealogy Facebook Pages I've "Liked":

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Sunday, February 15, 2015

Scanfest is Coming!

The February 2015 Scanfest will take place here at AnceStories this coming Sunday, February 22nd, from 11 AM to 2 PM, Pacific Standard Time.
What is Scanfest? It's a time when geneabloggers, family historians, and family archivists meet online here at this blog to chat while they scan their precious family documents and photos. Why? Because, quite honestly, scanning is time-consuming and boring!

Scanfest is a great time to "meet" other genealogists, ask questions about scanning and preservation, and get the kick in the pants we all need on starting those massive scanning projects that just seem too overwhelming to begin.

To get started, you need to know the basics about scanning:

1. Don't use commercial glass cleaners (i.e. Windex) or paper towels to clean your scanner's glass plate. Use a soft, clean cloth, preferably microfiber. If you must use a liquid, use water sprayed directly onto the cloth  and make sure to let the plate dry thoroughly before placing photos or documents on it.

2. Wear cotton gloves (available at many art and/or photography supply shops) when handling photos and old documents.

3. Don't slide the photos around on the glass plate. Place them exactly where you want them. Photos should NEVER be scanned by a scanner that feeds the document through the machine, but ALWAYS on a flat-bed scanner.

4. Set your scanner to scan at no smaller than 300 dpi (dots per inch). Many experts recommend 600 dpi for photographs.

5. Photographs should ALWAYS be scanned and saved as .tif files. Use "Save As" to reformat the .tif file to a .jpg file for restoration and touchups, emailing, or uploading to an online photo album. ALWAYS retain the original scan as a .tif file.

6. Documents can be scanned as .pdf files or .tif files.

7. When you are done scanning your photos, don't put them back in those nasty "magnetic" photo albums. Place them in archival safe albums or boxes found at websites such as Archival Products or Archival Suppliers. Do NOT store any newsprint (articles, obituaries, etc.) with the photos. The acid from the newspaper will eventually destroy the photograph.

Now about the chatting part of Scanfest:

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

You will not need to download any software.

We look forward to having you participate with us!

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Saturday, February 14, 2015

My Genealogy Do-Over Finds: BARBER and FREDENBURG Cemetery Records and Plat Map

I've had to slow down on my Genealogy Do-Over. Currently, I'm in a one-week break between working late supervising students during 7th grade basketball games and the beginning of my latest five-week round of genealogy classes for the Community Colleges of Spokane. Also, the following week, the 8th grade basketball games begin. There won't be another pause until Spring Break during the first full week of April.

But what I've done is placed a box of miscellaneous genealogy files and documents on my dining room table, and as I have five or 15 minutes between tasks or when I'm waiting for my water to boil for tea, I'll do a little decluttering or filing.

One of the items in the box I've been going through this week was a binder my paternal grandmother, Jeanne (HOLST) ROBBINS, an adoptee, put together of family tree records I sent her in 1997 when I found her biological family. I weeded out duplicate copies of things and filed the original documents I had given her. Within the binder, I found two documents that I realized I had not given her. In fact, she herself had obtained them when she and my grandfather reunited with her biological cousins and aunt and they went to visit the graves of her biological mother, maternal grandmother, and a maternal aunt. These were new documents for me and they gave me a lot of information about their specific burial locations.

Stiles Cemetery Office (Mayfield Township, Lapeer Co., Michigan), plat map, citing the Barber family, lot 443.
Click to enlarge.
Stiles Cemetery Office (Mayfield Township, Lapeer Co., Michigan), plat map.
Click to enlarge.
The lot records list my great-grandmother, Mary Jane (BARBER) DUNLAP, her mother Mary Jane (FREDENBURG) KELLER, and her sister, Clara May (BARBER) REYNOLDS. One grave space belonging to the family, Grave 5, remained unused by 1997.

In the cemetery plat map, I recognize the writing in the left and right margins as belonging to my paternal grandfather, Bob Robbins, Sr. The writing in the right margin is the inscriptions on Jeanne's mother's and grandmother's headstones, as compared with photos I have of said headstones, mailed to me by my cousin.

Besides being elated at discovering documents I did not already have, I realized something. Years ago, I obtained the death certificate of my grandmother's biological father, Howard Merle YORK, which stated he also was buried in Stiles Cemetery. I attempted to get a photograph of his grave through the Find A Grave photo request service, but was told by someone that his grave must be unmarked and that the cemetery records had all been destroyed years ago in an office fire. I'm still looking through all my hand-written research logs to determine who sent me that information. At this point, it matters little, because I have discovered that this is indeed not the case. This misinformation was part of the reason I did not attempt to locate the exact lot location of the Barber women graves, because I thought it had been lost in a fire. I figured since I was in touch with family members who knew where the graves were located, were tending the graves faithfully, and who had sent me photographs of them, this would be adequate for locating them myself if I ever had the opportunity to visit. My next step will be to contact the Stiles cemetery office to see if I can obtain a lot record for my great-grandfather's grave.

It just goes to show that it's good to 1) revisit your folders once in a while to see what "new" things you may discover; 2) question information you get from others, and do a little following-up yourself; and 3) never give up on trying to locate original or substitute records.

What discoveries have you made since you started your Genealogy Do-Over?

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Friday, February 13, 2015

Friday Finds and Follows: 13 February 2015

Articles and posts that caught my eye:

And Who Would've Thought...It Figures by Jess at A Strange Kind of Pilgrimage - I've had this bookmarked for a while, and forgot to post it a few weeks ago. It's a fascinating true-life-is-stranger-than-fiction account of how DNA testing has brought to light the probability that Jess's ancestor was switched at birth.

Public Domain Project Offers 10,000 HD Clips For Your Video Projects by Tim Brookes at MakeUseOf - Another one I meant to post earlier. Here's a great place to find video clips in the public domain to highlight your blog posts.

It's official! My PA roots go back prior to the Civil War by Lisa at Small-leaved Shamrock - The title definitely caught my eye, as I also have pre-Civil War Pennsylvania roots. I think I need to apply for one of these certificates!

Privacy, the police and DNA by Judy G. Russell at The Legal Genealogist - can the police use your DNA you've tested for genealogical purposes for their criminal investigations? Food for thought.

The Death of Our Son, Part 1Part 2Part 3The Conclusion by Dawn Williams-Kogutkiewicz at Dawning Genealogy - Most of us blog about the dead who've come before us. In this four-part series, Dawn gives a tender and poignant example of how blogging about the dead who come after us is both necessary and healing. Bring your box of Kleenex.

9 Things You Need To Know Before You Go to RootsTech/FGS by Kerry Scott at Clue Wagon - helpful information here for visiting Salt Lake City for genealogy purposes, even if you're not attending RootsTech/FGS.

How can that be? Mother and Daughter - Mrs. Margaret Gifford and Mrs. Margaret Gifford by Heather Wilkinson Rojo at Nutfield Genealogy - Two women with the same name. And what about that entertainment for the horse? Heather explains most excellently.

Newsletters: Old School or Still Cool? by Elizabeth O'Neal at Little Bytes of Life - Does your genealogical or historical society or other group still use newsletters? Whether your answer is yes, no, or "it depends," Elizabeth wants to hear from you in this poll.

The Identity of the Identifier by Michael John Neal at Genealogy Tip of the Day - This simple tips reminds you to identify the person who identified the photos in those old family albums. It's important to know who had the information and perspective.

Dropbox for Gmail Easily Adds Dropbox Files to Emails by Thorin Klosowski at Lifehacker - As both a Dropbox and Gmail user-fan, I'm excited about this! It makes sharing those family history folders on my hard drive all the easier.

FindMyPast to Host the Digital Library of New York Genealogical and Biographical Society - a FindMyPast press release at Randy Seaver's Genea-Musings - During the RootsTech/FGS week, we are hearing lots of great genealogy and technology announcements. As a descendant of New York State ancestors, I was excited to hear this one.

Why Are EE's Source Citations So 'Complicated'? by Elizabeth Shown Mills at QuickTips: The Blog @ Evidence Explained - When I first got my copy of Evidence Explained and started to study genealogy citation formats, I felt the same way. The more I cite my sources and see the layers of available sources, the more I understand and the less complicated it is.

How to Set Up a Facebook "Legacy Contact" for When You Die by Patrick Allan at Lifehacker - Facebook allowing for Legacy Contacts was big news in the technology world this week. As genealogists, we should always be thinking of and preparing for what happens to our electronic "stuff" after we pass.

Louise's Lost Files - Cancelled Checks by Ginger R. Smith at Genealogy By Ginger's Blog - Checks are not normally what we would consider a genealogy source. and yet, Ginger explains how this simple document can be so useful.

My New Genealogy Follows at Twitter:

@GenealogyGent, @PhotosOfThePast, @SharonHartas, @RoreyCathcart

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Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Tuesday's Tip: Attend Any of 14 Live Streaming Sessions from RootsTech This Week--For Free!

This post has been updated to reflect corrected and additional information.

Last year, I had the pleasure of attending RootsTech, the annual genealogy and technology conference held in Salt Lake City. Although it was my first attendance in person at RootsTech, I had attended their virtual live streaming sessions the previous two years.

This week, RootsTech 2015 will run from Thursday, February 12th, through Saturday, February 14th. There are 14 sessions during those three days which will be available for live streaming from The schedule of sessions, including topics, speakers, and times is posted here. After the conference, archived recordings of these sessions will be posted on the RootsTech website for a limited time.

I know you will enjoy the engaging presentations and helpful classes that are available through live streaming! Don't miss out!

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Friday, February 06, 2015

Friday Finds and Follows: 6 February 2015

Articles and posts that caught my eye:

Louise's Lost Files - Week 1 - The Inventory Process by Ginger R. Smith at Genealogy by Ginger's Blog - As both a librarian and a genealogist, Ginger is archiving her great-grandmother's materials. Her process is to be admired.

New help with Empire State research by Judy G. Russell at The Legal Genealogist - this book is definitely on my wishlist. Hey, my birthday is next month!

Donation to Conserve & Digitize Documents From the 1911 New York Capital Fire by Leland Meitzler at GenealogyBlog - speaking of Empire State research, I'm very excited to hear about this conservation and digitization project!

Grains of Truth by Jennifer at But Now I'm Found - I have the utmost respect for African-American genealogists. They have to work with a dearth of records, much of which is only available offline. I read their blogs to help me think out of the box when working on my own brickwall ancestors.

The Sims 4 Adds Genealogy by Dick Eastman at Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter - when my daughter was a teenager, I used to teach her a little family history by helping her come up with names for her Sims characters, using our ancestors' names. I love this idea of a complete genealogy game option!

TLC Reveals Celebrities for Spring 2015 Season of Who Do You Think You Are? a press release posted by Thomas MacEntee at GeneaBloggers - I'm definitely looking forward to this!

4 Steps to Find Information on Someone Online by Mark O'Neill at MakeUseOf - find those distant living cousins

10 Unexpected Places to Find Family History Online by Heather Wilkinson Rojo at Nutfield Genealogy - have you considered these resources?

How to Watch Genealogy and Other Television Programs from Other Countries by Dick Eastman at Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter - helpful information

My New Genealogy Follows at Twitter:

@HannahBergenllc, @JodeeDavis, @CynthiaBerryma2, @jkmorelli, @HeartOfHistory, @TimelessGen, @willowroadgen, @smartfamhist, @jrgl01j, @talkingboxgen, @DebrettAncestry, @BJStarmans, @NEHIST, @genealogy_rr, @MoranPlace, @jaygee35, @BonneeC1, @Familyography, @JLJMcCarron

Genealogy Facebook Pages I've "Liked":
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Tuesday, February 03, 2015

Tuesday's Tip: Exploring Ancestry's "U.S., Northern Pacific Railway Company Personnel Files, 1890-1960" Database

Last April, I wrote a Tuesday's Tip on using the Northern Pacific Railway Historical Association website. Imagine then my delight when I realized that had recently updated a new-to-me database called "U.S., Northern Pacific Railway Company Personnel Files, 1890-1960."

Here is a screenshot of the description of the database:

(click image to enlarge)

Please note that although the description says the company was in Minnesota, that is where its headquarters were. The line stretched for 6,800 miles across the northern tier of the United States from Wisconsin to Washington State, so if your ancestors lived in any of those states, and perhaps even in adjoining ones, they well could have been employed by the NPR. Additionally, even if you have found your ancestor's occupation to be a farmer or some such other trade, don't hesitate to check this database. According to the description, "some farmers took railroad jobs during the winter and requested leaves of absence during the summers to work their family farms." Such seems to have been the case of my children's great-great-grandfather, George Rice WESTABY, III.
I did a simple surname search for "westaby" in the database and it came up with the following three results:

(click image to enlarge)

Besides George, the second result, I recognized the names of two of his four younger brothers, Guy Steven WESTABY and Charles Wilson WESTABY.

When I clicked on the View Images icon to the far right of George Westaby's entry, I was brought to the following screen:

(click image to enlarge)

This appears to be his application to the Northern Pacific Railway in Glendive, Dawson County, Montana, dated 30 September 1913. Note it gives the names and address of his parents, as well as a physical description of himself.

A few images later, I found the following document, a resignation which was dated a year earlier (12 October 1912), and had his personnel file number (79761) written on it:

(click image to enlarge)

Apparently, like the database description states, George took occasional leaves of absence to work other jobs or help his family. The following document "How and Where Previously Occupied" shows George's work history. You can see he was helping his father, George "Rice" WESTABY, II on his farm from 2 August 1910 to 28 May 1911. This was one of several such cards in his file:

(click on image to enlarge)

The card also contained his signature at the bottom:

I decided to see how many images of documents I could find in George's file. The filmstrip feature made it easy to scroll back and forth. First I clicked on the filmstrip icon near the image number:

The filmstrip option then showed up at the bottom of my screen, giving me thumbnail views of the preceding and succeeding images:

(click image to enlarge)

I could also scroll to the left and the right quickly, using the arrows on each side of the screen. By using this feature, I was able to find the first and last images of George's personnel file to determine he had twenty images of documents in this database. This is important, because when you do a search on a name and then click on the "View Image" icon, you don't necessarily go to the first image in that individual's personnel file. Check backward and forward through the images, and use the personnel file number to help you. It may not appear on all documents.

Even though I knew quite a bit about George's life with the railroad from other family documents and stories, this added quite a bit more information and generated much interest on my part to this period of his life. I'm looking forward to checking out his brothers' files as well. I also searched for two other railroad ancestors of my children, John Franklin MARTIN, and John Franklin MIDKIFF, II. I was unsuccessful, but I believe "Frank" MARTIN actually worked in Idaho for a different railroad, the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railroad, a.k.a. the Milwaukee Road. John MIDKIFF was an NPR station master in Mabton, Washington, but I can't find his file. Nor can I find my own NPR ancestors, father and son Martin and John Martin HOEKSTRA, who worked as railroad carpenters and painters in Tacoma, Washington. However, the database description does state "this database does not yet include the entire collection of personnel files." More will be added at a later date.

Did you have ancestors who worked for the Northern Pacific Railway? Check out this useful database!

Disclosure: I am an affiliate for, and as such, receive compensation for products advertised on and linked from this blog.

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