29 January 2015

2015 Genealogy Plan

I've compiled a list of Educational and Family Research goals for the new year.
  • Index at least one batch of records per month for FamilySearch.org.
  • Attend class weekly at my local Family History Center.
  • Watch all recorded Roots Tech 2015 classes online.
  • Learn both RootsMagic and Legacy genealogy software programs, with an emphasis on learning to use their To-Do list and Research Log.
  • Continue to watch and update trees at Ancestry.com, MyHeritage.com, and FindMyPast.com
  • Work on obtaining additional sources for my fifth generation ancestors and find additional sixth generation ancestors. Request and order missing vital records: birth and marriage records for my grandparents and a death record for an infant brother.
  • Blog on a weekly basis. (Posts may include personal stories and photos as well as general genealogy info that I find worthy of sharing.)
 Pedigree chart generated at treeseek.com

27 January 2015

Mormon Leaders Call for Laws That Protect Religious Freedom

From mormonnewsroom.org 
Elder Dallin H. Oaks said: “...the Church asserts the following principles based on the teachings of Jesus Christ, and on fairness for all, including people of faith:
  • We claim for everyone the God-given and Constitutional right to live their faith according to the dictates of their own conscience, without harming the health or safety of others.
  • We acknowledge that the same freedom of conscience must apply to men and women everywhere to follow the religious faith of their choice, or none at all if they so choose.
  • We believe laws ought to be framed to achieve a balance in protecting the freedoms of all people while respecting those with differing values.
  • We reject persecution and retaliation of any kind, including persecution based on race, ethnicity, religious belief, economic circumstances or differences in gender or sexual orientation.”
Watch the news conference here:
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland said that “accommodating the rights of all people – including their religious rights– requires wisdom and judgment, compassion and fairness. Politically, it certainly requires dedication to the highest level of statesmanship.”  And he added: “Nothing is achieved if either side resorts to bullying, political point scoring or accusations of bigotry. These are serious issues, and they require serious minds engaged in thoughtful, courteous discourse.”

26 January 2015

Auto-Biography - my dad's pickup truck

Photo from examiner.com, 63 Chevrolet C-10 Short Bed Fleetside

My dad's pickup truck (similar to the photo above) originally belonged to my Grandpa Del Buckley. I'm not certain on the details, but somehow it changed hands when my Grandpa purchased a new truck for himself. It was my dad's first pickup and he loved it. When he brought it home, it was brown and had a few rust holes. But after my dad finished with it many weeks later, it was transformed from rusty brown to shiny royal blue with a creamy white top. My dad couldn't be prouder of his new toy.

Two interesting things about the truck. One, the floor in the back bed was wooden rather than metal. That meant you definitely had to watch out for splinters. The second item of interest was what happened on a special trip we took a trip to Kansas City, Missouri which revolved around a brand new refrigerator from Montgomery Wards.

The back story is my parents had shopped around a long time for the perfect refrigerator and finally decided on a beautiful brown one with double doors and a freezer on the bottom.  However there was just one slight problem--Wards didn't have delivery service to our home in Kansas. "I can get it," offered my dad, "with the pickup!"

He and I embarked that day with such high hopes. With the help of some guys at the loading dock we quickly had the refrigerator on board and it was tied down securely with ropes crisscrossed in several directions. About 30 minutes from home however, the unthinkable happened. We heard a horrible thud and screeching sound coming from behind us. A sick feeling came over me as I gazed out the back window and watched our new refrigerator bouncing down the highway. I was so sick at the sight I couldn't stop crying. I’m sure my dad wanted to cry, too. Can you imagine the turmoil he felt inside--what am I going to do? How will I break the news to my wife? Did it hit anything or anyone?

Fortunately, the only damage done was to the highway and to our new refrigerator. A number of cars saw what happened and stopped to help my dad lift the refrigerator back into our pickup so we could continue our drive home and break the news to my mom. Funny thing--I don't really remember what she did when she got the news. I can't tell you whether she laughed or cried. I guess I was too busy feeling sorry for myself, doing the only thing a six year old girl knows how to do–cry. And that’s what I did. Ultimately, I was the one who needed the most consoling that night. Luckily, the story didn't end there.

The next day, after a phone call to Montgomery Wards we returned the scratched and dented refrigerator and got another in it’s place. But this time my dad took my mom instead of me on the road trip in our blue Chevy pickup.

24 January 2015

Biggest Family History Discovery in 2014

Photo linked from Findagrave.com 
Albert Monson Parker and wife, Elizabeth Y VanZant

1)  What was your best research achievement in 2014?  Tell us - show us a document, or tell us a story, or display a photograph.  Brag a bit!  You've earned it!
Finding the Albert & Elizabeth Parker family in Montana and documenting their relationship to my great grandfather, Charles Albert Parker, was my biggest breakthrough in the year 2014. I'd been looking months for a clear parental connection between this couple [the Parkers] and my great grandfather.
Charlie Parker ended up living most of his life in Missouri where he raised two daughters and a son with his wife, Leona Ann Anderson. I had US Census records documenting an "Albert and Elizabeth Parker family" living in Iowa & Nebraska but there was no trace of them in their later years. Since "Albert Parker", "Charles Parker" and "Elizabeth Parker" are fairly common names, I felt I needed concrete evidence that could connect the Parkers that immigrated to Montana to the Parker family that lived for years in Iowa, then in Nebraska, and finally in Montana

My big break came through a distant cousin I met through FamilySearch.org. He sent me scans of several documents, including an obituary for Charlie's step brother Edwin E Smith, which helped me finally connect all the pieces. [Thank you Cousin Robert!]

2)  We all have elusive ancestors.  What research problem do you want to work on in 2015?  Tell us where you want to research and what you hope to find.
In 2015 I hope to discover more about the Parker and VanZant families, especially Elizabeth's parents.  
  • Why did the Parker family leave the mid-west and head to Montana?
  • And how did my great grandfather Charlie end up in Missouri?
  • What's the correct spelling of VanZant? I've documented at least four different spellings
  • Is Elizabeth's mother's maiden name Sarah Hutton or Hutlon?
  • How did Elizabeth's first husband, Esiriah Edward Smith die? This is when a death certificate would come in handy.
  • Discover more about the child, Henry S Parker, that shows up on the 1880 US Census while the family is living in Woodbury, Iowa but isn't listed in the 1885 Nebraska Census or the 1900 US Census? Perhaps he was a child that died young. Once again, I need to locate a death certificate.
There are also a couple of other female ancestors I want to spend time looking for (ie., my great grandmother Lillie Virginia Grissom, 2nd great grandmother Sarah Jane Olivar, and 3rd great grandmother Elizabeth Lee). I have US Census records for each but I need to locate and order vital records such as birth and death certificates, most from rural Missouri but some from Oklahoma and Texas.

20 January 2015

What you can learn from the 1840 US Census

I just finished reading The Secrets of the 1840 Census, Revealed on ancestralfindings.com. It was an eye opener. In the past I thought any census taken before 1850 was generally a waste of time except for citing the head of household's name. But this article gives some great insight into what can be found and what you won’t find in other census records, even after 1840. Much of the information included in the 1840 census is particular to that census alone. Most interesting to me is the listing of Revolutionary War Pensioners. Who knew?

Taken directly from the ancestralfindings.com website:

Here are the things the 1840 census includes that you won’t find in earlier census records:
  • The name of the head of the household
  • The address of the house (useful if you want to try to find it, or the land on which it was located)
  • The number of free white males and free white females, divided into the following age groups: 0-5 years, 5-10 years, 10-15 years, 15-20 years, 20-30 years and every 10 years up to age 100, and ages 100 and older.
  • The number of slaves in the household, divided into the same age groups and by gender
  • The number of free black people in the household, divided into the same age groups and by gender
  • The number of insane people in a household, by race
  • The number of deaf, mute, and blind people in a household, by race
  • The number of people actively attending school in each household
  • Seven different occupations, and the number of people in the household employed in each of these occupations, if any
  • The number of white people in a household over the age of 20 who could not read or write
  • The number of Revolutionary War pensioners in the household

19 January 2015

Auto-Biography - the family station wagon

Over the years we had several white station wagons. We used to take family vacations almost every year to Idaho Falls, Idaho to see our grandparents and cousins. I have lots of great memories of those road trips. We saw the great Salt Lake once and Mount Rushmore another year. Usually we would take three days to make the 1000 plus mile trip from Kansas to Idaho with overnight stops in Nebraska and Wyoming.
Our family Pontiac Catalina sometime in the 1970's on our way to Idaho. 
If you look closely you can see my little brothers sitting in the very back.

On one such trip my brothers and I were swimming in the motel swimming pool when my legs cramped up and I couldn’t move them. I started yelling “Help! Help!” when our mom dove into the swimming pool, clothes and all, to rescue me. Being a teen who considered herself "fearless" I got out, waited for 30 minutes then told myself to get back in there. It wasn't long after I mustered the courage to jump back in, when a Hispanic lady started to scream hysterically for “help”. At first we had no idea what she was saying because she was screaming in Spanish. Once again, my mom jumped into the pool to rescue the woman. It took a long time to calm the stranger down; I guess you could say she didn't handle a near death experience as well as I did. She made quite a scene. Once the drama had finally passed, my mom decided it was time for all of us to get out of the pool for the evening. And she could finally get some dry clothes.

It was definitely a family vacation that I will never forget.

Best genealogy websites for you

The blog article is entitled "Which are the Best Genealogy Websites for YOU?" written by Lisa Louise Cooke. It's a quick and easy read and gives some good general advice.

She suggests using Ancestry.com and FamilySearch.org for general depth of records. For its international user base try MyHeritage.com  and FindMyPast.com is a good choice for its British sources.

I'm including links to each website.

18 January 2015

Auto-Biography - my first car

A few days ago my 16-year-old son and I collaborated on his end of the semester History Project. The teacher assigned an "Auto-Biography" in which the students had to search out and write about personal automobile stories that meant something important to them or their ancestors. The caveat was that the paper had to include a minimum of three generations and go back in time at least 50 years. Of course, this got me thinking about my own life and the stories I might want to tell.

Photo from http://www.barrett-jackson.com 
This is not my original car but a fairly close match.

The first car I ever had was a 1969 Chevelle Super Sport. My parents bought it "used" in the late 1970's and fixed it up for me when I was about 15 years old, just before my Sophomore year of High School. It was gold and had black racing stripes around the sides. It was special to me not only because it was my first car, but it was also one of the last fixer uppers that my dad worked on and finished before he died.

Interestingly, the Chevelle was a gas hog; not a problem when gas prices were still under a $1 per gallon back then. It had dual exhausts and was LOUD--very loud. Sneaking in late at night was out of the question because you could usually hear the Chevelle long before I drove into the driveway.

Sometimes I wonder, whatever happened to the "old Chevelle"? Eventually I bought a newer less flashy car and left for college, leaving the Chevelle for my two younger brothers to drive. At some point it was sold and our family never saw it again. The memory is somewhat bittersweet. If the "old Chevelle" is still alive somewhere, it might be worth a tiny fortune today. It was definitely a car worthy of remembrance.

FamilySearch Launches New App Gallery

The FamilySearch App Gallery can be found at www.familysearch.org/apps. The gallery links viewers to FamilySearch partner sites offering a number of family history applications.

 Currently in the gallery you can find:
  • 11 Tree Analyzing apps
  • 15 Chart and Tree viewer apps 
  • 15 Photo and Story apps 
  • 15 Family Tree Software apps 
  • 8 apps to Find Ancestors
From the FamilySearch blog:
"FamilySearch is a great resource, yet FamilySearch alone can’t do everything. That’s why we work with partners to provide complementary tools and resources, and why the FamilySearch App Gallery is so important,” said Dennis Brimhall, FamilySearch CEO. “In addition to partners that are a great resource for historical records, we’ve had partners for many years that offer a variety of different experiences such as sharing with family, and looking at data in different, insightful ways, and now we want to make it easier for our patrons to know about them and to help them find the apps they need.

17 January 2015

HistoryLines announces their upcoming website

I just discovered the new website HistoryLines and am thrilled to see what will be unveiled within the next few weeks.  From what I've read, users provide their relatives' vital info then HistoryLines takes it from there, writing your ancestors' stories in context with what was happening where and when they lived.

Taken from the HistoryLines.com website:
"Read a carefully-crafted, instantly created, personal history of your ancestor...History Lines gets you started with a well-written story that provides all of the relevant historical and cultural background to describe your ancestor's life in surprising detail.

Even more exciting is this statement,

"View your family in context of the impactful historical events that filled their thoughts and conversations. Explore where your ancestor lived in relation to local and national events of historic significance...Our ultimate goal is to provide a detailed and fascinating story for every person who has ever lived on planet Earth."

One of the most difficult tasks of Family History is the "History" part. A family historian needs to know more than how to discover and locate long lost relatives. A good genealogist puts that person and his life into proper perspective in history.

Time and patience are prerequisites to locating ancestors that you've never met. It takes even more time to adequately dig into the history of what was going on at the time they lived. What were the living conditions? Who and what were the political and religious influences? Were there any wars or conflicts? How about racial or religious tensions at the time? Sometimes we forget it takes more than finding a relative to truly discover them.

HistoryLines.com website promises: 
  • historical accuracy
  • academically trained researchers
  • fact checking
  • sources are cited using rigorous reference principles and format
If HistoryLines can deliver all that, they have my full support. Visit their site and see what you think.

02 January 2015

Taking charge of your pedigree on FamilySearch Family Tree

James Tanner, the author of the Rejoice, and be exceedingly glad... blog, published an article about this exact topic. It is entitled, "Can I stop people from making changes to my ancestors on FamilySearch Family Tree?" He shares some vital steps that every family historian should try in order to eliminate arbitrary or mistaken changes made by new and inexperienced enthusiasts as well as old timers who may still be trying to figure out exactly how "merging" or "adding sources" work. Nothing is foolproof of course, but the following suggestions are a good start:
  1. Add as many sources as you can to each individual
  2. Correct existing entries
  3. Watch all of the family members of a target ancestor
  4. Communicate with anyone making an unreasonable or incorrect change
  5. Be persistent    
It's a wonderful post. Please take a look at it and see if you can clean up your Family Tree pedigree.

01 January 2015

Happy New Year

How to create an Ancestral Name Cloud

Here's an amazing app from TreeSeek.com .  Hundreds, even thousands, of names from your family tree can be put into an Ancestral Name Cloud, with the most common family names in larger fonts and less common names in smaller fonts.

FamilySearch.org  blog writes, "When displayed in your home, it becomes a great conversation piece as guests and visitors search your cloud for their names. Name clouds can be created with only first names, only last names or a combination of both."

Here's my family surname cloud that took less than a minute to create and download:

Simply go to TreeSeek.com to make your own Name Cloud or create one of the many other family pedigree, photo, or fan charts available to download for free. You might also consider taking your download to a photo center for a top notch quality print.