Saturday, June 23, 2012


I am disappointed that I missed my first opportunity to try ancestry's new DNA analyzer. About a month ago I changed the way I receive my emails in the hopes of being more organized...but what I actually did was make everything less accessible! 

Hopefully another offer will be sent my way soon (as I was about 13 days late in noticing this one...). I'm eager to see what types of information it can provide me.

Thursday, June 21, 2012


A few weeks ago I made what I consider to be one of the most exciting discoveries yet. It didn't help me add new people or fill in a hole on my tree but it was profound because it provides a tangible connection to the past.

Using the census I had a new address to explore. In 1940 for $31/month my grandparents lived in a beautiful 2 story brick building that was built in 1925. The property was assessed in 2010 as being worth $460,000. Similar homes in the neighborhood are selling for $630,000 in 2012.

I was somewhat surprised that this address was not the same place they lived in 1944. I searched for this second home on google maps streetview without much luck. The address plopped me square in the middle of a busy intersection. One side of the street with very modern buildings and the other with old ones. I was disappointed because the old buildings did not match that appeared in family photos.

I searched for property records for the 1944 address and google kept providing me with records for irrelevant addresses. I somehow ended up looking at a map of an entirely differently street...miles away from what I was attempting to find. Then something familiar caught my eye. I flipped through photo after photo...

Days later I examined my browser history trying to figure out how I even ended up at this address "walking" down the street. I still don't know, but it sure was lucky! I don't believe my family ever lived in these buildings (circa 1920), they were probably just in the neighborhood - perhaps across the street, as they appear frequently in the background of photos. A happy coincidence.

Within the next few weeks the last home my grandparents shared (not pictured above) is going to be torn down. It was new in the mid 1950s when they moved into it, and just over 60 years later it is being demolished for a new and improved version.

I'm glad some old buildings are left alone.

Saturday, June 9, 2012


In 1940 my grandparents paid $31/month to live in a 15 year old brownstone.

Today their building is 87 years old and worth approximately $460,000.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Ellis Island

I read in an article this morning that the hospital at Ellis Island had been added to the "America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places" list put out by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

I last visited Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty in 2009 right around the time I was really becoming interested in genealogy. There are many creative exhibits that give you statistics about immigration patterns and the lives of those entering America. One such exhibit allows you to search for ancestors that may have passed through Ellis Island...I was instantly drawn to this and waited patiently in line watching the people in front of me chuckling over their search results. 

I typed my last name into their computer and came up with...nothing! Not one person! 

I was disappointed but figured it wasn't a complete listing or there must be a trick to searching that I had missed.

I tend to be a nostalgic person and despite not finding any tangible evidence linking me to an Ellis Island ancestor, I stood in the main building and tried to imagine myself making my way through the inspection process before being turned loose into a foreign country.

After a few years of additional research I have come to the conclusion that my ancestors did not pass through Ellis Island. The very first immigrant to enter the United States this way was Annie Moore on January 1, 1892....just over 30 years after my Irish 3rd great grandfather arrived in New York. He currently holds the honor of being the "most recent" immigrant in my family tree.

I'd like to go back and visit soon.

Today my tree contains 1338 people and 2052 records.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012


I was so excited this evening when I logged onto ancestry to see that the 1940 census for New York State had been fully indexed!

So much fun to be had in the near future!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

1940 Census

When the 1940 Census was released on April 2, 2012 I spent quite a few hours that evening searching for familiar names. I had prepared myself by creating a list of every person on my tree who may have been alive in 1940. I got the inspiration and instructions on how to do so from the ftmuser blog. I also made note of where a few particular relatives had been living in 1930 to use as a starting point (I chuckle each time I see that rent in one part of NYC was $25/month in 1930).

Then I was overwhelmed.

I'll admit I chose a challenging group to start with. Between 1930 and 1940 my grandfather's father had died and my grandfather had married my grandmother. I had also determined through photos and letters I found in the attic that my grandfather's mother (now a widow) had moved in with my (fairly) newlywed grandparents.

Determined to find some eagerly anticipated information, I located the appropriate enumeration district that this family lived in in 1930 hoping to find them still nearby. I stopped searching after about 25 pages of images.

Maybe I'll give it another try...

I also thought it was interesting that you can purchase the census! Prices for the various states range from $125 to $9,000 depending on the format (digitized or microfilm) and the size of the record. For $200,000 to $580,750 you can own the census for the entire nation. In case that doesn't appeal to you you can also access the records for free.

Today my tree contains 1338 people and 2049 records.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Thoughts on navigating around walls and organization

Some days I sit down to do some research and I'm just not sure where to start. Today was one of those days. When I get stuck I try and track down the ancestor with the highest number of hints available and begin from there.

I'm still trying to figure out the best way to visualize my tree as a whole, as this would help me see areas where more research is needed. There are ways to construct a variety of documents with Family Tree Maker but I haven't located the one that provides me with what I'm looking for.

Lately I have been keeping busy analyzing applications for membership into the Sons of the American Revolution. I assume this is a rather new collection on ancestry as I haven't noticed many of these hints in the past. These have been quite interesting and a great way to compare specifics such as dates and spellings. The differences between applications do highlight the importance of being skeptical about sources.

The perfectionist side of me is sometimes disappointed that there isn't a fool-proof way to figure out what information is correct and what isn't. This is quickly overshadowed by the logical side of me that is perfectly thrilled with access to sources in the first place.

In an attempt to keep my sources organized I save them as images and Picasa captures them automatically in a specific folder. I usually add the names of those who are listed on the record so that I can easily search for all of the items I have saved for that individual. So far this is working.

Friday, June 1, 2012


I have always been interested in the chronology of events [this probably sounds weird]...especially when it comes to dates with special meanings. I'm the go-to person in my family for remembering birthdays, when someone graduated, and when so-and-so last came to visit.

One very mysterious member of my family tree is one of my 2nd great grandmothers. She caught my attention quickly because she was born on my mom's birthday and died on my birthday. I have no information about how she died, all I know is she was young...she was my age actually. She left behind a husband and a 6 year old (my great grandmother).

Thinking of genealogy in terms of dates gets confusing when you are tracing people back to the time of "The 1752 Calendar Change". When you start taking into consideration all of the changes that are nicely explained on that site, it becomes a bit mind boggling! 

I think my favorite part is the fact that the dates September 3, 1752 - September 13, 1752 simply do NOT exist!

Time stops for no one, but it will apparently move on without you.

Today my tree contains 1328 people and 1998 records.