Tuesday, July 31, 2012

What can you learn in the cemetery?

photo credit: rvaphotodude via photopin and cc

Cemeteries are full of stories. Some fresh and some forgotten. It may be a little odd that I enjoy these places that are connected to so much sorrow. But, what is a final resting place for other than for people to visit and remember you?

I live near a large cemetery that was formed in 1850. It sits on rolling hills and is full of trees. Old stones reside next to new stones and the styles are endless. From a genealogical perspective I am fond of one in particular. It is a double stone - husband and wife and contains the usual birth and death dates but also each spouse's birth location, their marriage date, and the wife's maiden name. I do not know this family but just passing by it I get a sense of who they might have been.

The photo above is not one I took, but it also embodies this (perhaps older?) tradition by including where the person was born and died. [As a side note this photo is from a grave in the Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond, VA. Quite the neat place from what I have been told and would like to visit it some day.]

Another gesture that I think is a nice is the addition of quotations on stones. I have distant relatives in this cemetery and each time I consult this list this saying always catches my attention...

"Remember friends as you pass by,
As you are now so once was I,
As I am now so you must be,
Prepare for death and follow me"

A little searching indicated this may have been a common 19th century epitaph with ties to Christianity.

Another from the Yingst Cemetery...

"A kind and loving husband and affectionate father and a great member of society. Weep not for me my friends most dear"

Makes me wonder who wrote it.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Family Facts #1: D


English. From the Dane River. 'Brown-haired man', 'cheiftain', 'nobleman'. (citation)

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Draft cards

Draft registration cards contain a wealth of information! Though there are no photos attached to the records, the 'description' check boxes provide you with information about the individual's height, build, eyes, hair, and complexion. 

On US World War II Draft cards you get many categories for complexion (an independent category from race) including sallow, light, ruddy, dark, freckled, light brown, dark brown, black. I'll be honest I wasn't quite sure what a 'sallow' or 'ruddy' person would look like!

TheFreeDictionary suggests sallow is "a sickly yellowish hue" (citation) and ruddy as "rosy" or "a healthy, reddish color" (citation).

In a very unscientific analysis of my tree I appear to be related to many blue eyed, black haired, ruddy complected individuals. Two out of those three descriptors are true for myself as well.
I also found the 'name and address of person who will always know your address' box to be very helpful as well. This is often times a spouse, but occasionally a parent or sibling.

Thank you to all current and former military service members.
photo credit: Bert Kaufmann via photopin and cc

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Family Facts #1: C


Scottish. Gaelic - crooked, bent, mouth. Latin may translate it 'of the fair field'. (citation)

Friday, July 20, 2012

Another organizational thought.

As my tree has grown over the years it has gotten increasingly more complex to keep everyone organized. I don't know how other researchers work, but I don't add sources and people to my records in any logical fashion. I usually start with an ancestry 'leaf' or occasionally with a particular person in mind...

Ten minutes later I am off on a completely different section and can't remember how I got there. I did start using OneNote (chosen because it automatically saves what I type) to keep track of my progress. I make a simple note about what records I add to which people and any notes that I might find important later on. I also toyed with updating Family Tree Maker and my Ancestry tree simultaneously, but that became an annoyance and I found myself avoiding the whole process entirely! So it's just notes and updating Ancestry for now.

I think it might be helpful to have a more 'pruned' version of my tree in addition to the ever expanding one [I know I just said I didn't like updating more than one tree at the same time...]. I try not to be picky about what records I save...meaning even if this person is the mother-in-law of the husband of my great grand uncle I still add him/her. While I firmly believe these individuals do have an important place on my tree, I want to focus on closer ancestors to get through my list of 2896 records that need to be sorted through.

So, my idea is to make a second tree that is only filled with my direct ancestors...the 'backbone' of the tree. My hope is this might be a creation of a more manageable size that I can physically print out and really LOOK at. For research purposes this will hopefully help me visualize holes. Another advantage is this will help me focus on the records I would like to evaluate first.

Thoughts? Does anyone else do this?

Family Facts #1: B


English. Germanic personal name - bald, bold, brave, friend. Popular with Normans and Flanders in the Middle Ages. Also American and Irish variations of other last names. (citation)

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Family Facts #1: A

I've decided to spotlight a surname on my tree each day until I've gone all the way through the alphabet A-Z.


English and Scottish. "A Celtic personal name of great antiquity and obscurity". May have originally meant 'little rock'. (citation)

Sunday, July 15, 2012


This evening I decided to go through all of the photo hints ancestry was suggesting for people on my tree. I got through all but 1! The one remaining is perplexing me, so some more thought will go into that later.

I organize my genealogy photos with the help of Picasa and attempt to name everything I save in a similar manner. This always includes as much of the individual's name as possible and sometimes includes dates or other helpful information. Picasa captures everything I save and creates an easy way to search through everything I collect.
  • People currently on my tree: 1348 (up 6 since yesterday)
  • Records currently attached to my tree: 2183 (up 20 since yesterday)
  • People with unattached hints: 1056 (up 3 since yesterday)
  • Total number of unattached hints: 2778 (down 357 since yesterday!)
I had a lot of the photos already saved onto my computer, but there were quite a few new ones which was nice.

Interestingly, but not surprisingly, exactly zero of the photos came from my 'tricky' side of the family. My family tree is very much lopsided just like many of the trees around here that have been broken in recent storms. All the weight is on one side.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Tree stats

I spent a few hours this afternoon trying to get ahead of some of my 'leaves'. Here is what my progress looks like as of this evening.
  • People currently on my tree: 1342
  • Records currently attached to my tree: 2163
  • People with unattached hints: 1053
  • Total number of unattached hints: 3135
Still lots to explore and do!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Ireland. HOWL!

My last name, and the last names of all four of my grandparents, have lead me to believe I am solidly of Western European descent. I also find it pretty funny that taking the first initial of each spells HOWL!

I typed each one into Ancestry's Surname Lookup and got the following results: 

Name #1 - English and Scottish. #2 - Irish. #3 - English. #4 - English and French.

I stumbled across a neat feature of Irish Times that allows you to type in a surname and see a breakdown of which counties in Ireland were most heavily populated by your possible ancestors in the mid 19th century. Even though each of the above names aren't necessarily Irish, I gave it a whirl...and selected the top county for each name.

Name #1 - Donegal (11 households).  #2 - Donegal (951 households). #3 - Galway (55 households). #4 - Cork (205 households).

I find the results of Name #1 to be especially surprising because of the insignificant number of families living in Ireland at this time (really, only 11?). This is about the time I have record of my direct ancestor with this last name immigrating to America. I haven't yet attempted any research beyond the United States, but this might be an interesting international place to start.

[edit] After thinking about this for a little while longer I tried a different spelling of Name #1 that has come up in my research, and sure enough spelling #2 of name #1 (confusing yet?) resulted in 171 families in Donegal.

I think I know where I should go on my next adventure.
photo credit: Bert Kaufmann via photo pin and cc

Monday, July 9, 2012

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Tree spotlight - 1867

Today Jesse Edward L. would be 145 years old!

JEL was born July 5, 1867 in Missouri shortly after the Civil War. The previous two decades had brought many Irish and German immigrants to this part of the country and my ancestors were no exception. His father was born in Ohio and his mother in Indiana. After marrying in Indiana they settled in north western Missouri and had seven children.

JEL was the 5th child and the 3rd son. He was married in 1897 and had three children born around the turn of the century. He worked as a farmer and lived to be nearly 78 years old. He outlived many, if not all, of his siblings and died in 1945 from heart disease.

photo credit: Tony Fischer Photography via photo pin and cc

Today my tree contains 1342 people and 2102 records.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Daughters of the American Revolution

I want to share a neat article I read this morning about a new chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution that was recently founded by an African American woman!

I love reading about history and this piece encouraged me to learn a little bit more about the organization and its history. The original chapter was founded October 11, 1890 by four women who had fathers or grandfathers that participated in America's run for independence. The DAR's website on becoming a member indicates there have been over 850,000 members since its founding. Any woman 18 and older who can prove a "bloodline descent" to a participant in the American Revolution can join.

I can only imagine that the process of providing proof of your lineage gets more difficult with each passing generation of prospective members. I am lucky because my grandmother, great aunt, and great-grandmother have already paved the way and are/were members. My largest hesitation in completing the application process is that I keep relocating! Since starting my genealogical journey 3-years-and-some-months ago, I have lived in 3 different locations spanning 2 states [and I'm planning another move before the year is finished]. Chapter meetings are run on a local level...I need to put down some roots.

Later this summer I think I will take a trip to DC to visit the museum and library at the National Headquarters.

Happy 236th Birthday America.

photo credit: NCinDC via photopin and cc.