Saturday, December 24, 2011

Happy Holidays!

Image courtesy of The Graphics Fairy

May the spirit of the season shine down upon you and grace you with the gifts of family, friends, good food, good conversation, and a couple things you have been eyeing at a store or on a website. Happy Holidays!!!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A Citation Soapbox

Citing sources is important. I know I've mentioned this before, and I can't help but bring it up again. Some people will say it's important to write citations so that you know where you found the record, and can go back there again. However, it's more than that.

Do you plan on passing your research down to relatives? What are your plans for your research when you are gone from this world? Do you want a future researcher to know how you found the record? Do you plan to publish? This is why citations are important. Yes, you want to be able to figure out where you found the record. However, other people should be able to figure it out too.

I've been conducting research on a particular surname and came across a five volume book set written by one author (I'll keep the surname and author name private). At least four of the books were easily over a thousand pages. This was a lot of research, work, time and money. An impressive feat to be sure. Sadly, there was a glaring lack of citations. Only vague references occasionally to deeds, wills, and other books.

I found the particular lineage within the books I was looking for, but was left having no idea how the author got the facts. At the beginning of the passage that was pertinent to my research, was the mention of a book which I've requested through inter-library loan. I would have preferred that a will, gravestone, bible record or some other source had been properly cited. Then I would have something to go on. Instead I wait hoping this book will give me better clues for evidence to track down.

So, it's important to cite your sources not only for you, but for those that come after! I know that you have spent a lot of time and effort to gather your information. You don't want it to be disregarded.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Week In Review

It's been an active week in the world of genealogy! So rather than limit myself to blogging about one topic I decided to mention a few.

A read a very thought provoking blog this week by Michael Hait at Planting the Seeds, titled "The Genealogy Paradigm Shift: Are bloggers the new "experts"?" Michael discusses how geneabloggers are becoming viewed as something akin to experts in the field of genealogy. He also points out the lagging membership of genealogy societies, the importance of an online presence and support of these local societies. There were a lot of very interesting points made in the article, it's insightful, and I think it is a great read.

Are you attending RootsTech? Last week there was an uproar in the genealogy community, when we found out there would a ban on book sellers in the vendor hall at RootsTech. It was an interesting choice to make by RootsTech. I watched/read with increasing fascination at the comments made on Facebook and blogs expressing outrage over this decision. Well, RootsTech must have read all of the outraged comments as well and reversed their decision. Book vendors will now be allowed in the vendor hall.

There is an App for that! MyHeritage has released the news that they now have an App available for free for iPad, iPhone, and Android.

Wanna go to genealogy summer camp? The Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research (IGHR) at Samford University is the place to be. Registration begins on January 17th at 11:00 a.m. EST. This is a great institute and learning opportunity. Imagine focused instruction on a genealogy topic, and socializing with your genealogy peers for a whole week! Check out their website for the description of courses to be offered this summer.

Finally, the news I was really excited to find out about is that Elizabeth Shown Mills has released a website called Historic Pathways. Elizabeth is a renowned genealogist with an impressive list of credits. The website lists the books Elizabeth has written and just a portion of the numerous articles she has authored. If you want to learn by example, then reading anything by Elizabeth is an excellent choice.

Well, those are the highlights. Hope you are all able to take this last week before Christmas to sit back and relax a bit. I know I'll be reading those articles on the Historic Pathways site whenever I get a chance.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Vertical Files and Cookies--It's Kinda Like Grandma's House

I'm behind with my blogging. Last week was busy. On Tuesday I spent a mere hour at the dentist and ended up with a numb face the rest of the day (much to the amusement of my boys). Wednesday I did my volunteer work at Tennessee State Library and Archives (more on this in a minute), then came home and made cookie dough. Thursday was a day of baking cookies (I've included photos of them), packaging them, getting them in the mail, and going to the neighborhood ornament exchange that evening. Friday, was my youngest son's last day of preschool, so I ran around doing errands like a possessed person. Saturday found me back at TSLA attending a lecture on the book, "Onward Southern Soldiers" (I'll discuss this in a different blog) and doing some research. Sunday was my youngest son's birthday party. I'm a little tired.

Anyway, a little bit on surname vertical files. I've discussed in other posts about the bible project I'm working on. I'm going through the surname vertical files and scanning any and all bible records I come across. It's a lot of files. I started a little over a year ago and I'm only in the middle of the "L's".  It's a really neat project! Going through the vertical files can, at times, feel like going through Grandma's attic. There can be all sorts of treasures there. I've seen reproductions of photos, photocopies of photos, original bible pages torn out of bibles, service records, wacky newspaper articles, and many other various records.

A few times I've seen booklets on certain families from an entirely different state. For example, "The Doe Family of Pennsylvania" (it's a fake family, just using the surname Doe as an example). In a few of these booklets there doesn't appear to be any reference to somebody living in Tennessee. Which got me thinking. This booklet somehow made it's way to Tennessee and into a vertical file. Did a member of the family move here or pass through leaving the booklet behind? Would a researcher think to look for this booklet in the vertical file. The moral being, when you are visiting a repository researching a specific ancestor, if you have time it may be a good idea to check out other surnames of your ancestors. You never know what you might find. Maybe a random piece of information somehow made its way into a vertical file there.

Just a couple more cookie photos......

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Blog Caroling-Saturday Night Genealogy Fun

Randy Seaver at Genea-Musings has posted his Saturday Night Genealogy Fun, and it is blog caroling. The point is to state your favorite Christmas Carol or holiday song, share it, post a video of it if you can, and the lyrics.

I have a lot of songs I look forward to during the holiday season. Some of them are from the kid's specials (Heat Miser anyone?), some are the classics, and some are just plain funny. However, one that stands out for me, that I made my four-year-old sit a little longer in the car and listen to the other day, is Dan Fogelberg's "Same Old Lang Syne." I found a clip of it on YouTube to share that has the lyrics in it (bonus!). I'm generally not an emotional person, but this song always gets me. There is just something special about it. Anyway, I hope you enjoy it too.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Honor Flight Network and WW II Veterans

Last week I attended a DAR meeting and the guest speaker was a man from the Honor Flight Network. He showed us all sorts of slides that were wonderful and had many of us in tears. So what is it you might be wondering?

Honor Flight Network is a non-profit organization that focuses mostly on WW II veterans at this time. The purpose is to honor these veterans by flying a plane load of them to Washington D.C.. Once there the veterans are taken to the WW II war memorial, which many of them have never seen. It is an amazing journey that takes place all in one day (at least from Nashville).

There are various different hubs around the country. The one located in Nashville is called the Music City Honor Flight. They just had a flight of veterans travel to D.C. in October and the next trip is scheduled for May. Each flight/trip costs $55,000 which is raised by donations.

When viewing the slides of the most recent trip, we could all see how touched the veterans were and what a meaningful experience it was for them. The surviving veterans of WW II are dwindling at an alarming rate. We were told that one veteran had decided to put off the most recent trip for one reason or another, and sadly he died two weeks later. So, if you know a WW II veteran have them get in touch with the Honor Flight Network!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Christmas Parade In Downtown Franklin

It's been a busy weekend. I photographed the boys for our Christmas cards, created the cards, and ordered them (with my husband of course). We also went to the annual Christmas Parade in Downtown Franklin. The weather worked in our favor this year. It was mild and sunny, which was a treat. The parade is a mix of local high school bands, various cub scout and girl scout packs, historic features, and businesses. It is a fun time and the boys get excited about the candy being thrown by the people in the parade. So I thought I would share some photos with you.

This is the Tennessee state flag.

Some cool cars.

Franklin has a lot of historic features.

Our friend is an EMT for the fire department, so I had to post this.

The grand finale of course was Santa.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

I Did It!

So the month of November is over and so is NaBloPoMo, which was to post a blog a day for the month. I managed to post a blog everyday. Admittedly, sometimes it was a stretch, Angry Birds are not exactly genealogy material (unless you are a descendent of mine reading this sometime in the future).

What did I learn about blogging everyday? Well.....

  • I'm pretty much what is called an "organic writer." Meaning some people will chart out topics in outlines, calendars, web graphs, etc. I'm not one of those people. If something strikes me or I get an idea I just write about it. If I had to chart ideas I would have writer's block--it's happened before. It's awful.
  • There are some ideas that ferment in the back of my mind for a while.
  • I really enjoy writing and connecting with people through writing.
  • I enjoyed writing everyday and I like deadlines (somehow they are motivating).
  • I still have a couple ideas to blog about that never made it to November. They are still fermenting.
So there you go. I can't say that I will be blogging everyday in December. It's the holiday season, I have two young kids and there is more crazy around here on top of the usual crazy. Plus I don't want to worry about blogging on Christmas or Boxing Day. Yes, I am an American who has a special place in her heart for Boxing Day. Go figure! Anyway, as always, thanks for reading.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A Library Phantom? Oh My!

So I was going to blog about something completely different tonight, but then I came across this story about the Library Phantom in Scotland. It is too cool of a story to pass up. Apparently, somebody has been leaving sculptures made from books at various different libraries, museums, and repositories in Scotland. When I say sculptures, don't envision those newspaper sculptures you made in elementary school. These sculptures are works of art, lovingly made, and then left anonymously for the world to enjoy.

I can't help but think that this sounds like something from a novel, or that an author somewhere must already be hard at work writing a story around this phenomena. The artist of these sculptures has left notes, that in short, express the love of the written word, the inspiration words/books bring, and a gratitude towards libraries. There are more photos at This Central Station that display the various wonderful details of these sculptures. They are truly delightful.

As genealogist we know how important libraries and repositories are for our research, and for the preservation of history and documents. More importantly, it is a place for children to become inspired, leave whatever troubles they have and lose themselves in a book. My kids love "the big quiet library" and I have to bring a bag to carry out all the books they have picked. Sadly, during economic downturns, these are some of the first places budget cuts are made. Hours or even days become slashed and staff are layed off. The artist of these sculptures gets it and hopefully the message is heard.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The House of WIN!!!

The birds and the pigs.

Okay, so this past weekend was a family effort to create an Angry Bird cake for my oldest son's Cub Scout cake decorating contest. Many hours were put into this cake starting with its inception, research on creation, shopping for various random items, and creating. It all paid off as my son won the contest. He was very happy, and as a parent there is a special joy when you witness your child's excitement. The rules were simple; everything on the cake needs to be edible and no peanut products are to be used.

The other win was for me today. I received an email saying that I won a prize from BlogHer Inc's NaBloPoMo contest. The prize, apparently, are books from Penguin. I don't know what the books are, but it's fun to win stuff. It's been an exciting few days.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Are Your Ancestors Or Their Homesteads In Google Books?

Have you ever checked out Google books? There is some great information to be found there. If you are lucky you might have an ancestor mentioned in a book, but at the very least you could find a history on the township or county your ancestor settled in. Within this history will be other settlers mentioned who could very well have been part of your ancestor's social circle. In turn these people may have done business with your ancestors, attended church with them, had children that married your ancestor's kids,  or kept journals that your ancestors are mentioned in.

One day I searched for my four times great grandfather Jefferson Fry who was born about 1808 in Shelby County, Kentucky. At some point he moved to Clinton County, Missouri. The book that came up in the search is The History of Clinton County, Missouri. There was tons of wonderful information! It turns out Jefferson was among the first settlers of Clinton County in 1831 to an area called Clinton Township. The book goes onto name his parents with their death dates and exact ages. There is a description of Solomon Fry, who sounds like quite a character, with a lot of information. The book also goes onto say that Jefferson recently moved to Colorado with the year 1881 in parentheses.

Pretty cool, huh? Google books is a great resource. You never know what you might find there or how it could help your research.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

More Family Traditions-Fact or Fiction?

Well, I've spent this Sunday consumed with creating an Angry Bird cake with my son for Cub Scouts. When it came time to think about a blog topic I was stumped. All I could think about were Angry Birds! So I walked into my office for inspiration, stood in the middle of the room, looked at the piles of stuff and for some odd reason my 5th great grandfather, Jesse Balieu/Bellew Alderson popped into my head. I guess he wants his story told, so here goes.

As family legend is told Jesse Balieu/Bellew Alderson was born some time around 1790, place unknown (at least for now). He was orphaned as a baby or small child, during an Indian raid in Kentucky. His parents identity remains a mystery, although family legend says they were from Ireland, and arrived in America around 1790. It is thought that the circuit-riding preacher Reverend John Alderson adopted Jesse.

Jesse would grow up (it is said) to be tall, red-haired, and "obstreperous". At some point he married Rachel Wooldridge, although the date and place are unknown. Their son Jesse Woolridge, my fourth great grandfather, would eventually become a preacher (giving a very slight credence to the Reverend theory), and marry Louvina Williams.

Nothing else is known about Jesse Balieu/Bellew, which I think is a little sad. I have focused a lot of time on other lines, but may turn my attention to this line for a while. At the very least I would like to find out what his occupation was, certainly who his parents were, and if there is any surviving report about what happened to his family. Or if the story is even true!

*Please note that this story is a family tradition and that I have NO documentation to support any of it! Therefore, it should not be taken as fact and passed on as such.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Randy Seaver's Saturday Night Fun

Every Saturday, Randy Seaver posts a mission. Tonight's mission is Historical County Boundaries, with a link to the Historical U.S. County Maps on Randy Majors website. The idea is to pick a place of interest and key it into Marjor's site, then note the changes from 1790 to 1900, and blog about it.

I chose Barree Township, Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania. The line that I have from there are the Brumbaughs, and the only line I know of mine that stayed put for any amount of time. Anyway, I discovered the county stayed the same but the boundaries changed.

1790: Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania (created from Bedford County in September 1787)
1800: Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania (lost some area to Mifflin County)
1810: Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania (lost some area to Cambria and Clearfield Counties)
1820: Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania (gained some area from Mifflin County)
1830: Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania (gained some area from Mifflin County)
1840: Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania (lost some area to Mifflin County)
1850: Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania (lost some are to Blair County)
1860: Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania (no change)
1870: Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania
1880: Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania
1890: Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania
1900: Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania

So you may be thinking, well the county never changed so I don't have to look at any other county for records. Not true. Traveling from anywhere back in the day was not as simple as today. There were no roads or transportation like we think of today. If you wanted to go somewhere to file paperwork of any kind, you needed to either walk or ride a horse there. It could take hours or days. Also, if it was a busy time of year on the farm your ancestor would not up and leave the crops. Their livelihood depended on those crops. Our ancestors would have conducted business, such as submitting paperwork to a courthouse regarding land ownership, sales, deeds, wills, etc. when it was convenient for them (unless of course it was urgent). The same holds true for what courthouse they would conduct business at. Sometimes the closest or easiest courthouse or clergy to get to were in a different county.

It's important to look at maps and terrain of the area where our ancestors lived. We think nothing of hopping in our car, driving over bridges and mountains to get to our courthouse or lawyer. Our ancestors may have looked at that a little differently.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Follow Friday- The Educated Genealogist

Okay, so Sheri at The Educated Genealogist posted a very funny Thanksgiving video. I just have to share it with you. Sheri often has very amusing posts and insights.

Hope you all had a nice Thanksgiving and a successful Black Friday (with either shopping or sports viewing).

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

Graphic courtesy of

I just wanted to wish you all a very happy and safe Thanksgiving. May the weather work in your favor, the company you keep be delightful, and the food delicious. 

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Tuesday's Tip- Dinner With Pilgrims

Okay, so this isn't really a typical genealogy site, but in honor of it being Thanksgiving week here in America I thought this was appropriate. I first learned about Plimoth Plantation a few years ago while browsing through the book 1,000 Places To See Before You Die. What caught my attention was the Thanksgiving Day Feast that is offered in Plymouth, Massachusetts. I think this is really cool and want to take my boys to do this when they are older. That way it will be remembered, and it's pricey so it requires some planning.

Want to know how the Pilgrims spoke, they have a page about that too on the site. There is also information about the history, crafts, animals, and customs of the time period. So if you have pilgrims in your ancestry or even if you don't, it's a cool site to check out.

Monday, November 21, 2011

A Plethora Of Gunters

Lately I've been finding a lot of Gunters. The only problem is I'm not sure most of them have anything to do with my line. It seems for every one I find a few more come along with that person. I'm a little overwhelmed. The only way I can really explain it is like this; somebody just handed you a large bag of puzzle pieces and some of the pieces belong to another puzzle with a similar design--good luck putting it together! Argh.

At any rate, there is one Gunter I've been chasing after for a while, Henry J. Gunter a brick mason. I have no proof he is a relation (I'm thinking brother) of my ggg grandfather Richard William Gunter, just a sneaking suspicion. Why do I think this? Well, they were both living in West Ely, Marion County, Missouri in the late 1840's. They both got married a year apart in the same town, show up together as neighbors in the 1860 and 1870 census, and both enlist in Iowa with the same regiment for the Civil War. I requested the enlistment papers for both, only Henry's was found, and his birthplace is listed as Guilford County, North Carolina. Richard was born in North Carolina too. I can't find him on the 1880 census, and lose his trail. Incidentally, there is a Louisa Gunter that shadows them around, also born in North Carolina, who married the brother of Richard's wife. Again, I have no proof, but I suspect she is a sister (I've been chasing after her too). At the very least they could all be cousins to each other.

So last week, when I was chasing down Nancy Gunter's grave, which I blogged about here, I came across a snippet about an H.J. Gunter. It was transcribed/abstracted from the Pueblo Colorado Weekly dated 19 February 1874, stating that the widow of H.J. Gunter of Denver arrived in Pueblo that afternoon with the body of her husband. Richard ended up in Pueblo, Colorado sometime after 1880. Is this H.J. my Henry J. Gunter? It's possible, but I have to do more digging around.

Either way, what has been on my "to do" list for a long time is to look at probate/deed/land records for the areas where the Gunters lived in Missouri. I just need to sit down and figure out which ones to order from the Family History Library first. (sigh)

Sunday, November 20, 2011

A Day At The Local Genealogical Seminar

On Saturday I spent my day at the 25th Annual Genealogical Seminar hosted by the Middle Tennessee Genealogical Society and Tennessee Historical Society. I went last year and learned a lot, and this year was just as informative.

The first session was presented by Elizabeth Shown Mills titled, "Problem Solving in the Problem-Riddled Carolina Backcountry." Elizabeth is a wonderful speaker and a wealth of information. It is impossible to attend any of her presentations without walking away more knowledgeable. Although the talk was focused on the Carolinas, many of the research techniques for finding information could be used elsewhere. One idea she presented a few examples of, is to always look at the original document. Many times there are abstracts or indexes that don't include information that could be key to solving questions or problems regarding your ancestors.

Next, after a quick break, was "Inheritance Laws and Estate Settlements in the Carolinas" presented by J. Mark Lowe. I'm always impressed at the variety and knowledge of topics Mark presents. Again, although the focus was the Carolinas, there was much discussed that could be applied elsewhere. The main idea being that when conducting research it is important to understand legal lingo, the laws, and how they apply to the area you are researching.

After lunch two sessions were presented by Charles A. Sherrill titled, "Service Records are Just the Beginning: Finding Your Family's Whole Civil War Story" and "The Late Unpleasantness: Research in Civil War Records Created After 1865." Chuck discussed many different resources for finding information on your Civil War ancestors; Union, Confederate, and civilian. There are just too many sources to list or discuss in this post. However, if you like maps then you may want to take a look at "Official Military Atlas Of the Civil War" by George Davis. It contains detailed maps of the areas where battles and marches took place. Another obscure source was "The Medical and Surgical History of the War of the Rebellion (1861-1865)" published by Broadfoot Publishing Company. There is a 3 volume index listing the case studies of wounded soldiers by name and unit too.

By the end of the day my brain was full of new information and ideas. I have all sorts of new research plans forming in my mind. My list of things to read, sites to explore and microfilm to look at has grown. It was a good day.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Smaller Archives and Holdings Have Hidden Gems

I spent a couple of hours at the Williamson County Archives today. It's very convenient and at the most a 5 minute drive from my house. I don't have any known ancestors in Williamson County, Tennessee. So why do I go to the county archives? Although the holdings are not as large as a state archive or a big city library, they have sources there that are very useful, a few of which are not at the state archives. It is the same with Williamson County Library, which is maybe a 10 minute drive from my house. They have a wonderful Special Collections room.

When I go to either of these locations it is with the purpose of covering the basics or getting preliminary information. Maybe to get a history on a particular area, discover what sources they have for transcriptions of marriage documents, wills, or land records. I have found some very random collections at each repository. The library has quite a few books on Pennsylvania, the county archives has a nice collection on Virginia and North Carolina. Not exactly what you would expect of local holdings is it?

Once I've exhausted the local repositories for information, I can make better use of my time at the Tennessee State Library and Archives (TSLA), which is at least a 25-30 minute drive. Once at the state archives I can focus on more detailed work like the manuscript collection, surname vertical files, books that aren't available at the local archives and newspapers. Even better, since I found a transcription in a book at the local archives, I now know what microfilm to focus on when I get to TSLA.

Basically it all comes down to making better use of my time and the resources offered at the state level. So the moral of the post is; state archives are wonderfully vast in their holdings, but don't ignore or discount the holdings of your local repositories. You just might be pleasantly surprised.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Follow Friday- Olive Tree Genealogy Blog

In keeping with the unexpected theme of gravestones this week, I thought I would mention November's Genealogy Challenge at Olive Tree Genealogy Blog. The challenge is a spill over from October's challenge, which is to spend 15 minutes photographing tombstones at a local cemetery, then post them. Finding a photo of an ancestor's tombstone can give you valuable information for your research, such as death dates, birth dates, and if you are lucky names of other relatives.

There are a couple of cemeteries that I want to photograph. I'd like to do this challenge, but I'm not sure I'll make the November deadline. Next week is Thanksgiving week and my kids are out of school the whole time. We have quite a few things scheduled for the week. On an up note the boys don't mind looking around a cemetery and causing general havoc, so it might be a good opportunity for an outing. We'll see how the weather holds up.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Gravestones, Obituaries, and Surprises

I've been trying to find more information on Nancy Ann (Beard) Gunter. Specifically her grave. Nancy is my ggg grandmother who was married to Richard William Gunter. I knew she was living in Pueblo, Colorado when she died in 1903. However, I didn't know what month, day or what cemetery she was buried in. I finally found a tip on that she was buried at Roselawn Cemetery in Vineland, Pueblo County, Colorado. So I looked up the cemetery on FindAGrave. There are over 8,000 internments listed for this cemetery--no Nancy. Why did I look up the cemetery and not her name? I've looked for her name before with no results, and thought that maybe Gunter was listed as a different spelling that I would recognize better by scrolling through.

My next step was to google Vineland, Pueblo County, Colorado cemeteries. I found a great Pueblo County, Colorado Resources page. This site listed cemeteries and sure enough Roselawn was listed, with a very interesting history. After scrolling down the page I discovered a transcription for "Gunter, Nancy Ann died 1-25-1903." The notes mention a McCarthy Funeral Home. I also found a surprise! A listing for "Gunter, Katie died 8-21-1899," with notes saying she was the daughter of R.W. Gunter and McCarthy Funeral Home. For some time I have wondered what happened to Katie, so now I have my answer... sort of. What did she die from? Maybe the McCarthy Funeral Home will have the answer to that. The search continues.


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

More Death Certificates

I was thrilled to finally receive two death certificates that I had ordered from Colorado, after a little back and forth that required me to send them a family tree. Strange, I know, but whatever it takes right? Anyway, one thrilling fact was that neither of these two ancestors died from cancer. It seems lately I've been making the grim discovery of an increasingly large amount of cancer related deaths in my heritage. Which reminds me, I need to make that doctor's appointment (I'm a little paranoid now).

Tiery/Tirey Curtis FRY was my great great grandfather. In most documents I find he usually goes by the name Curt or Curtis, hardly ever Tiery/Tirey. He was born in Missouri on 18 November 1870, and died in Paonia, Delta County, Colorado on 10 May 1949 from chronic congestive heart failure. All of the information on the death certificate matched with the information I already had, which is great. I thought that was curious though. Why? Well Tiery's mother, Anna (Berryman) FRY died when he was about 3 years old. So who was this informant that supplied the correct name of a mother for him? The informant (person who supplies the personal details for the death certificate) was listed as Mrs. Jess BARROW. Don't you just love that women are identified by their husband's name (argh)?! After a little searching of census records I determine it is his daughter Marguerite, and (bonus!) I now have her husband's name!

The other death certificate is of my ggg grandmother, Mary Caroline (Risenhoover) Alderson. She was born in Arkansas on 17 September 1855, and died in Paonia, Delta County, Colorado on 7 November 1933 from cerebral hemiplegia. Again the information matched with what I had and I was struck by the accuracy of it. Mary's father, Asa Risenhoover, died about 1855 or 1856. The informant this time was Mrs. Gus W. Roeber (again with the man's name!). So back to the census search and my lineage software to determine that it is her daughter Fannie. In my notes (taken from a cousin's information) I had recorded that she had died many years before 1933, so I was thrilled to discover proof of her still alive. Yay!

I never know what to expect when I receive death certificates and tend to keep my expectations low. How thrilling to make these discoveries! I'm also deeply impressed that two children of the deceased were able to provide accurate information, especially on people that their parents most likely had no memory of to pass on.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Tuesday's Tip- Gravestones

As genealogists we usually end up spending some time in cemeteries. Sometimes it is just to wander around looking at the various headstones, and many times it is with the purpose of finding an ancestor. Ever wonder what the symbols mean? Ever think about making a gravestone rubbing but not sure how to do it? Want to get a better photo of the gravestone?

Well I've got just the site for you to check out. The Association For Gravestone Studies has a website that answers many of these questions and more. They give tips on how to clean gravestones without damaging them. There are also explanations about the different stone types and the symbolism. The website also has a tab dedicated to preservation. I could tell you more but grab yourself a coffee and spend some time checking it out. It's a cool little site!

Monday, November 14, 2011

"Who Do You Think You Are?" Is Back In February

NBC announced their mid-season line up today. One addition that I'm very excited about is the show "Who Do You Think You Are?" It is scheduled to begin February 3rd 8-9 p.m. EST. Although the show can be a bit glossy at times, it is fun to watch and engaging. I also think this show is responsible for a surge of interest in family history.

The only drawback of the show would be how they make the research process look somewhat easy, and how the information you find has a simple flow from one step to the next. I've found myself on several occasions explaining to people that there are a team of professional researchers around the world conducting this research. This is their full-time job and the show has the budget to pay them.

At any rate, I've marked my calendar. I have something to look forward to on those cold winter nights in February. Yay!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Sunday Blog Reflections

After a stint of chores this morning and a quiet house, I decided to take a look at the new genealogy blogs that Geneablogger listed on Saturday. There are a few that caught my eye and are off to a good start. I should say here that I have not blogged for very long and am by no means an expert on what makes a good blog. In fact I'm still trying to figure out the gadgets for mine.

What surprised me were the number of bloggers who did not include a name for themselves or some sort of photo/picture. I understand the desire to protect one's identity, but for goodness sake throw me a bone! Go by a first name and put a picture of your great aunt. In general genealogists are pretty nice people and friendly. Part of relating to people is giving them a name to go by and not just a blog name. Dear Myrtle's blog has done this very nicely. She goes by Myrtle or Ole Myrt and has a lovely drawing of a woman as her id photo. This is not her real name but it works. I am able to relate to her and have a sense of who she is.

I was also surprised by the lack of joining/following options. Some of the blogs only offered one way to follow them as a RSS feed. Everybody has a preferred way to follow the blogs they subscribe to. I think if you only offer one or two ways you limit your readership. Case in point, there was a blog I thought would be interesting to follow. However, there was only one option given to follow, that I don't use, so I didn't sign up. Life is busy, I can only remember to keep track of so many sites on a daily basis.

If you are looking for advice or help on genealogy blogging Amy Coffin of The We Tree Genealogy Blog has just written and released The Big Genealogy Blog Book. Amy has been blogging for a long time and has written about blogging in her blog many times. It is on my list of reads.

*Amy has not asked me to review her book nor do I get any compensation for the mention. I just thought it noteworthy and useful.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Follow Friday (a little late)

Since yesterday was Veteran's Day I posted a blog appropriate to that day. However, I read a blog earlier this week that was thought provoking and I have continued to think about it since. So I decided to share it a day later than I normally would. Greta at Greta's Genealogy Bog (yes Bog) wrote a blog earlier this week titled Why I Want To Remain An Amateur.

It was interesting to read Greta's thoughts on why she does not want to be a professional genealogist and is happy being an "amateur." I liked that she supports remaining an amateur but pursuing quality work and learning. There have been many people that I have met through ProGen, institutes, and conferences that want to learn the proper techniques of research, but have no interest of working for anybody other than themselves. I admire this dedication.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Veteran's Day Remembrance

Inside Hoover Dam

Today is a day of remembering those who have fought so bravely for our country. As I continue on my journey of family research, I discover more ancestors who enlisted for various wars or skirmishes. I applaud their bravery. Although I have never met them, on this day they are remembered.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Marina Gunter, 3 Bushwhackers, and An Axe

As I've written in other blogs, I descend from a line of Gunters, so anything regarding the Gunters is interesting. A couple weeks ago I looked at the Gunter surname vertical file at the Tennessee State Library and Archives. It was a nice little treasure trove of information. Not only had two separate people given the archives information they had on their Gunter lines, but there was an interesting copy of a newspaper article. Actually it was two different articles on the same topic, Marina Gunter. One article is dated 3 July 1969 without the name of the newspaper, and the other is undated but includes the name of the newspaper. The reported event took place in March 1865, a time when this country was in turmoil due to the Civil War.

Marina Gunter lived with her family in Putnam County, Tennessee when she was 17. Her father was Larkin Gunter, a Southern man, and for what ever reason was at home instead of fighting in the war. One evening three men Maxwell, Patton, and Miller claiming to be Federal soldiers came to the Gunter home set on killing Larkin Gunter. According to the article the men informed Larkin, "...that his time had come" and proceeded to drag him from the house. Hearing the groans of her father being beat up, Marina raced to the woodpile, grabbed an axe, and rushed to the scene. She proceeded to attack the three men on this dark and drizzly night. Marina killed two of the men and broke the arm of the third who escaped, but later died from his wounds. She then lifted up her father and helped him home.

My favorite quote, because it is so dramatic, in this article is the following:

"This is the greatest achievement of female heroism of
its kind that has ever been recorded, and places Miss Gunter
on the pinnacle of glory that belongs not alone to patriotism,
but to the grandeur of filial affection the tie that stretches
from the cradle to the grave, spans the heavens, and is riveted 
through eternity to the throne of God on high."

Later, Marina would recount that she grew frantic hearing the groans of her father, and does not know how she managed her father's rescue. Eventually Marina would marry Joseph Harris and move to Fentress County, Tennessee. She died in 1926.

I don't know if my line connects with this branch of Gunters at all. It's just a cool published story of a woman in history, doing something other than getting married, having babies, or dying.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Tuesdays Tip- Ancestors And The Weather

Our ancestors were just as concerned about the weather as we are today, if not even more so. A lot of my ancestors were farmers and in farming weather is crucial. It can destroy crops for the year, or bring a bountiful harvest. Modern conveniences weren't at hand, so a rainy day could delay walking a mile to visit a friend or going into town. Rain could delay doing laundry or at least the outcome of dry clean clothes.

If you have ever wondered about the weather and your ancestors then you might want to check out the American Meteorological Society website. They have the weather reports from 1872 to present day. I looked up the weather from November 1872 and a pdf of a map came up. It was pretty cool. So if you want to fill out your ancestor's story with some nice details, like what the weather was like on the day they got married, now you can do it.

Monday, November 7, 2011

A Marriage Record and Witnesses

Sarah (Sallie) Luttrell and Richard Sanford Gunter were married 1 May 1894 in Pueblo, Pueblo County, Colorado. The certificate lists Sallie's middle initial as "M". However, her middle name was Louise. It's an odd mistake, but the rest of it seems to jive with the information I already have. What I'm really curious about are the witnesses, G.S. Hawley and Adam Walk. Who are they? Why weren't there any direct family members as witnesses? Both Richard and Sallie had siblings. Were Hawley and Walk spouses of their siblings? Guess what is next on my research plan. To find out who G.S. Hawley and Adam Walk were and how they came to be witnesses for my ancestors' marriage.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History: Week 45 High School

52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History is a series of weekly blogging prompts started by Amy Coffin. The purpose is to record your memories and insights about your own life and experience. This week is to discuss your experience in high school.

I attended a small high school in New Jersey with a long name, Delaware Valley Regional High School. It was surrounded by fields and had a student body of approx. 815 people, with my graduating class at that time being the largest around 240 people. It was mostly a jock high school, meaning sports were very supported and revered. I was a drama geek. Everybody knew everybody or at the very least knew of them.

My sophomore year I was an exchange student to Australia. It was a great year. I was able to break out of the small community and experience life beyond cornfields and farms. Australia is a beautiful country with lovely people. In high school there I played soft ball and cricket. Coming back to my high school was a challenge. While I was away my friends had made friends with others in various different groups. It was also tough to come back to such an insular experience.

The one class I took in high school that I still find useful today was a typing class. Algebra was the toughest, I voluntarily stayed after school many times with the teacher trying to understand it. I think she took pity on me, I passed by two points getting a C. My senior year I spent half the day at my high school and then travelled to another for their drama program.

In hind sight, I would have done things just a little differently. I would have taken art classes during all my years and not just the year in Australia. I've discovered I enjoy running, so I probably would have done track. That's it really, I still would have done everything else. High school for me was not the defining moment of my life like it is for many others. I was glad when it was over, and I didn't look back.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

My New Obsession

My newest obsession is watching "Deadwood" on HBO GO. I just finished watching the first season and can't wait to watch the second. The show started in 2004 and only ran for three seasons. So I'm catching up and I can't get enough of it! The setting is the late 1870's in Deadwood, South Dakota. It is raw, gritty, and the language is bit rough. However, this all got me to thinking about my ancestors living in the same time period. Was Hollywood making an accurate portrayal of the times? Was the show holding true to actual events?

Being the curious person I am, I googled Deadwood, South Dakota and got a lot of results. I looked at photos of the town now and it still looks pretty rural. There was even an old photo online of how the town looked in the late 1800's. Like the show portrays, it looks dirty, muddy, and rough. I would think most towns looked very similar and had the same conditions. The costumes are also pretty accurate. It is hard for me to imagine being a woman dressed in a full skirt with petticoats, a corset, full blouse coming up to the neck with long sleeves, boots, stockings, and hat slogging through the mud and muck just to cross the street. Yuck! How would your outfit not get ruined every time?

As far as historical facts, the show has bent some of them, as many shows will do. However, many of the major characters in the show, Wild Bill Hickok, Seth Bullock, Charlie Utter, Calamity Jane, and Al Swearengen, were in Deadwood during this time period. Regarding the graphic language....I question if people (certainly not my ancestors!) actually swore this much and so graphically all the time. Maybe I'm naive but I don't think they did. Out of curiosity (again) I looked up one of the frequently used words, which is too vulgar for me to type here (starts with a "c" ends with an "r" and is a compound word), it turns out that particular word didn't enter the American vernacular until 1940.

So what does this have to do with genealogy? Well, as we go along collecting facts, dates, stories, and the occasional photos if we are lucky, it is important to think of the atmosphere and psychology of our ancestors. Nothing was simple! The constant battle of dirt being tracked into the house, the store, on clothes, hair, and your skin. How uncomfortable it was to wear all of those clothes in the heat. When it was cold to heat a home with no insulation required enormous amounts of wood or coal.  To cook required wood to be chopped for the stove, and the skills to make a meal from scratch without burning it or undercooking it. Now imagine a bunch of little kids running around this wood burning stove! The list could go on.

All I can say is, I'm a huge fan of indoor plumbing, heat, air conditioning, and modern medicine. I'm glad to be living during this time period. Although I can't help but wonder if our descendants will say the same thing when looking back on how we lived.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Follow Friday-They Came To Montana

I needed a little something to pick up my spirits today (it's just one of those days), and so I went to Geneabloggers to check out Friday Funny posts. I came across Jennie's blog They Came To Montana. She has posted some very amusing photos on her blog.

They struck me not only because I love photography, but they are just so unusual. Not often do we see "old timey" photos of people acting silly let alone even smiling! They capture great personality. I hope she posts more of these photos in the future. I enjoyed them.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Centralizing and Organizing Your Correspondence

It can be a challenge to keep track of all requests I send out, for various records and information. To help with this I keep a correspondence log in a binder. It's red, to help it stand out from all the other binders on the shelf. Inside I keep correspondence sheets for each surname I'm researching, filed alphabetically. These sheets are not so different than others that can be found online or in genealogy books. However, I did create my own to include a couple of items that were important to me.

For example, I have a space to put the check number or notation for money order. This way, I can track if the check has been cleared and/or form of payment. I also have a space for notes if the request is returned asking for more or other information. Once I receive the requested record, I not only write down the date received, I put a check in front of the row. Why do this? Well, some of the records I request can take weeks if not months to arrive. I have a busy life (like most people), with two kids and their schedules, a husband's schedule, and a house with its own schedule, I have trouble remembering everything. I found myself one time wondering if I sent for a particular record or only imagined sending for it . So I finally created my correspondence binder. It's come in very handy.

I want to make an addition to the binder too. So many websites require a username and password now. They all have different rules to follow making it impossible to use the same username and password, which is probably a security risk anyway. The sites I use often are not a problem to remember, the others need to be written down and kept altogether in the same place. I figured the correspondence binder would be the perfect place.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Ups and Downs Of Ordering Vital Records

I've started to focus on a different branch of my family recently, and have been ordering a bunch of vital records. The records have been as varied as the states they have been ordered from. It seems my people moved around a lot.

So I've been reflecting a lot on the rules for ordering from different states. There are certain states that are impossible, others semi-difficult, a few that are expensive, some that make the process simple but you wait awhile for the outcome, and still others that make it all seem effortless. Honestly, it makes my hair hurt and reach for the chocolate.

The state I've been tangling with recently is Colorado. They want a photo i.d. (not unusual) with the application, along with $17.00 (not too bad), and proof of relationship. The last requirement can make it tricky, especially if you are ordering death certificates for a gg grandfather and a ggg grandmother. Now I understand the public's fear of identity theft, but these are death certificates.... for people who have been dead a long time. So short of sending in a DAR-like lineage application, I sent in the application just stating my relationship. Then I waited to see what would happen. It got sent back (I wasn't surprised) saying that a "family tree would suffice." Really? I think this is strange. Also, what's the point? Couldn't somebody just make up anything? Well my response was to shrug, hit print for the pedigree chart in my lineage software, and send it all back. I'm waiting for the results.

In my personal opinion, I think California has a fairly decent system. When ordering a vital record, you can either order a "certified copy" or an "informational copy." For the certified copy it has to be notarized and you have to provide a little extra information. The informational copy doesn't require much other than your relationship to the person. Each record has the same information, however the informational copy has a huge red stamp across it saying "Informational copy." I'm fine with the big red stamp. I can still read the record and it doesn't interfere with what it contains. The waiting time for records can be long with California being anywhere from 6-10 weeks.

So Colorado and California, I'm waiting......with a large bowl of leftover Halloween candy (sigh).

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

National Blog Posting Month-Alrighty Then!

Okay, so the big theme today I've been reading about in various blogs, is that November is National Blog Posting Month or NaBloPoMo. The idea is to post a blog every day in November. It sounds like a daunting task and I'm a little hesitant to commit. Then again the worst that could happen is that I miss a day or two and I don't think the blogging police will come and get me if that happens.

So I'm jumping in. There are plenty of prompts to be had from Geneabloggers and from BlogHer if I draw a blank (which is sure to happen). I was inspired by Michelle at The Turning of Generations and Valerie at Begin With Craft. Sometimes knowing there are others sweating along with you makes it a little easier. Anybody else with me??

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

Halloween has become one of my favorite holidays. I love seeing all of the neat costumes the kids wear. Everybody is happy and I have my fill of chocolate. It is also a holiday that does not require a lot of expectations for me to fulfill, which makes it stress free (more or less). All I have to do is get enough candy and put some costume of choice on the boys and off we go. I also think the history of Halloween is pretty interesting too. A few days ago Lynn at The Armchair Genealogist posted an excellent blog about the history of this holiday, that is worth checking out.

Wishing you all a happy and safe Halloween!

*Halloween graphic was found on The Graphics Fairy blog.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Remembering A Great Lil Gal

I often wonder during my research what kind of pets my ancestors had. How did they treat them? How did they feel about them? What were the names of these pets? Were the pets purely functional, like cats to keep the mice away, or dogs to guard and protect the homestead? These are questions I may never find answers to. I can only assume that some of them must have had a pet of one kind or another, and maybe some cherished more than others.

A year ago today my 16 year old cocker spaniel, Coco, passed away. She came into my life when she was just 3 months old and I've missed her every day since her passing. If you have ever had a pet in your life that you have bonded with, you will understand how they are part of your family and the void they leave behind. I've found people who haven't had this experience find it more difficult to relate to.

At any rate Coco was a sweet special dog, and she tolerated my antics. Yes, I dressed her up for Halloween and she really didn't care for it much. Like I said, she tolerated my antics. So in the spirit of Halloween weekend I thought I'd share a few photos.

                                                                      The Bride

The Clown

The Princess (she hated the hat)
Yes, I even dressed her up for Christmas card photos (she hated the antlers too).

There were more outfits, but those are just a few. Like I said she tolerated it. In her old age I quit putting costumes on her, and put a Halloween t-shirt on her instead. I think that was by far her favorite. Her ashes sit in my closet. I don't know what to do with them. People tell me to spread them where she loved to be. However her favorite place was where ever I was. So in the closet they remain. I know on a certain level it's really wacky, but I think I'm okay with that. We all do wacky things, right? Besides when I'm 80 it will give the grandkids something to chat about, "Wacky Granny and her dog's ashes!" If anything 100 years from now, when my descendants are researching me, maybe they will come across this post and discover I had dog named Coco. And I loved her very much.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Thankful Taylor....and the Snake

I volunteer at the Tennessee State Library and Archives and am currently working on a project that involves going through the surname vertical files. I get to see a lot of really cool stuff. Then one day I stumbled across a newspaper article about Thankful Taylor. I thought about it for weeks afterward, and alternated between laughing and being completely grossed out. Since this is Halloween weekend I thought it would be a good time to share it with you.

Thankful Taylor lived in Rutherford County, Tennessee with her mother and stepfather, Didama and William Carroll. In the article Thankful is described as, "She wasn't much in the way of looks but she was hardworking and of sturdy health." Ouch. Not exactly a description any girl would be thrilled about.  

So Thankful, being a hardworking girl, was toiling away in the fields one day when she became thirsty. Fortunately, there was a spring nearby that offered up some cool fresh spring water. Thankful took a break, kneeled down, and drank her fill. Afterwards she returned to the summer heat in the fields and continued to tend the cotton. Later she would recall what felt like "a little string passing down her throat when she drank." Life continued on for many weeks as usual, until one day Thankful displayed strange symptoms and was confined to bed. She was having convulsions which grew in intensity "until her days and nights merged in a longdrawn horror." Apparently this continued for five years into her "young womanhood."

The local doctor of course was called for and gave her all sorts of treatments to no avail. However, then something strange was observed, "We could see the movements of something in her stomach...we could see it all the way across the room." A neighbor gave Thankful some wine thinking it might help, only to make the movements worse. 

Finally a different doctor, Dr. J.M. Burger, was called in to examine Thankful. He observed that, "At regular intervals something dark would appear in the girl's mouth briefly and retreat to her stomach." A neighbor claims to have touched it and described it as cold and clammy. What was wrong with poor Thankful Taylor?! The doctor decided that whatever was lurking within Thankful had to be extracted and instructed the family to grab the thing when it next came peaking out of Thankful's throat and send for him immediately. The family did just that. When the doctor arrived Thankful's mother was struggling with the item in her daughter's mouth. Dr. Burger grabbed it and pulled out a striped, scaled old water snake! After it was pulled from Thankful's throat it thrashed around and then died. The description in the paper says, "It measured 23 inches from its evil head to the tip of its tail." 

After the incident Thankful told the doctor that she felt "...a great load has been taken from stomach." No doubt. What happened to the snake? Dr. Burger took it home and put it into a jar of alcohol, which eventually ended up in the hands of his grand daughter, Mrs. Lena Burger Woodley Rogers.

On the left is Mrs. Lena Buger Woodley Rogers (the grand daughter), the middle is Dr. Burger, and on the right is the spring that Thankful drank from.

So there you have it, Thankful Taylor and the Snake! 

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Family Traditions-Fact or Fiction?

The past week has been hectic around here. My kids were on Fall break for a week (why? I have no idea) and under foot. However during that time I was able to have a nice conversation with my grandfather and had some vital records come in the mail that I had sent away for. In between the demands from my two boys, my thoughts drifted to the family traditions, stories, and rumors. How much of it is fact and how much is fiction?

My great great grandmother Sallie Louise (Luttrell) Gunter was born in Missouri on 1 September 1875. She died at the ripe old age of 84 in Camarillo, California on 10 February 1960. My grandfather told me that in the later years of her life she was known in the family to be a little coo-coo and ended up in a mental hospital. Apparently when Sallie went to visit various family members pieces of silver would go missing. Yes, she was stealing the silverware. Fact or fiction? First I consider the source. In this case I consider it fairly reliable. My grandfather was an adult by this time and it was common talk in the family. So I wondered if I could get any supporting evidence for this story.

Last week I received Sallie's death certificate. It had some interesting and enlightening information. The usual information for birthdate and place was listed, along with address and parents' names (her father is listed as Hugh Lawson instead of Hugh Lawson Luttrell). The informant is listed as "Records of Camarillo State Hospital." Huh. I look down at cause of death (stomach cancer), and underneath where is says "Conditions contributing to death but not related..." is a very interesting statement, "Chronic Brain Syndrome Associated with Senile Brain Disease with Psychotic Reaction." Hhhmmmm.....that doesn't sound good. However given that disease and the informant being the state hospital, I'd say that this is some good supporting evidence. It's also a little sad.

Most likely I'll never be able to get a hold of the hospital records. Those are usually considered confidential and sealed. I'm also not sure it's really necessary given the information on the death certificate. Do I really need more details? What point would it prove? It's something to think about. Meanwhile, this is one family story that appears to be true.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Follow Friday- A Few Selections

Okay, so I came across a few interesting things this week and couldn't pick just one. The first pick I'd like to pass on to you is a website. If you are doing any research related to New York City then you want to check out this New York Public Library site. You can find out the history of buildings/homes that your ancestors lived in or near. I found this particularly intriguing as just last week I was trying to search out the history of a building in NYC from the 1900 city directory.

Next, Valerie over at Family Cherished had a very interesting blog about you, the genealogist, as a brand. I've never thought of myself as a brand, but it makes sense. It is a thought provoking post that has lingered in my mind all week. How do you brand yourself?

Finally, Jennifer Shoer at the Scrappy Genealogist has a series on "How Does She/He Do It?" This is a series of guest bloggers discussing how they handle family (a.k.a. kids), genealogy, blogging, and life in general. I found this blog appealing as, 1) I have small children with only one being in school full time  2) My husband is very supportive of my endeavors, but other than him, I have no support system (think coworkers), of genealogists that I gather with on a regular basis to talk shop 3) It is interesting to hear how other people (genealogists) handle it all.

So there you have it. I hope you find the above as interesting as I did!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Civil War Reenactment-Battle Of Franklin

Today I went to a Civl War reenactment of the Battle of Franklin. This battle was originally fought on November 30, 1864 and lasted for about five hours. It took place mostly in the dark and involved hand-to-hand combat, which was unusual as most battles were fought using Napoleonic tactics at this time. Leading the Confederate troops was Lt. General John Bell Hood and leading the Union troops was Maj. General John M. Schofield.

                                                          Marching onto the battle field.

Nearly 10,000 soldiers were killed, missing, and wounded from this particular battle. Most of them were Confederate soldiers. Of the dead, six were Confederate generals. Eleven Union soldiers would receive the Medal of Honor.

                                              The soldier is taking the "dead" soldiers shoes.

I couldn't help but think of my ancestors who lived during this time period and fought in the Civil War.

We went as a family to watch this and the boys liked the horses, and thought the cannons interesting but loud. There were also tents set up to sell goods. One of them gave out tastings of soda. My oldest said his favorite was the sarsaparilla soda. Overall, it was a good outing, educational, and thought provoking.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

SLIG Blogging Contest!

What is SLIG? It stands for Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy. It is a wonderful educational genealogy institute. Think along the lines of Samford but in Salt Lake. Twelve different courses are offered, some of which are already sold out. They are taught by some of the leading genealogist and experts in the field. It's very exciting and I would love to go. It's basically winter camp for genealogist.

I have never attended SLIG, and am somewhat envious that two of my ProGen classmates are going. Looking at the list of courses offered it is hard to narrow down a choice to one. I have a lot of ancestors who settled and migrated in the Midwest so Course 5: Research in the Midwestern United States is appealing. If you have a brick wall or you are having a particularly tough time with an aspect of your research, then Course 12: Problem Solving could be for you. After much deliberation the course I would pick is, Course 8: Beyond the Library: Using Original Source Repositories. It is the one that best fits in my education plan right now, is taught by a wonderful instructor (John Colletta), and this is the class that would help me the most with my research right now.

The dates for SLIG are January 23-27 2012 in Salt City Utah. Along with the day session are many evening sessions being offered by many of the instructors who are teaching the courses. Most of the evening sessions cost $10.00, which is a pretty good deal. Included in the registration price is a breakfast on Monday morning and an award banquet dinner on Friday night. Vendor lunches are also available but are not included in the registration price and cost extra.

Part of the contest requirements was to include this link when referring to the SLIG website, but I haven't been able to get it to work. So instead I've included a direct link to the highlighted phrases above. Anyway, if you are looking for a good genealogy education experience this is sure to be a good one!

Monday, October 10, 2011

A Feisty Grandmother, A Sealed Vital Record, and Other Modern Day Hurdles

Let's face it, talking to and getting information from the living is great, but sometimes it gets a little sticky too. I've been trying to figure out my husband's family, especially the Italian portion. There has been some confusion on how to spell the Italian name. So I asked my mother-in-law if she could ask her mother, for some copies of documents that might help me figure out the spelling of the name in question. The response from grandma? "What does she want that for!?" Alrighty then. So I sigh and roll my eyes. After all I'm a genealogist, one feisty grandma is not going to stop me, right? I've ordered her divorce record, which might give me her maiden name. If it doesn't, then the record will probably give me the marriage date and place, so I can then send away for the marriage certificate, which will have her maiden name. No biggie.

I'm also in the process of filling out a DAR application for myself. For those of you who don't know, when filling out the DAR application, you have to provide birth and marriage records showing the connections. I discovered that I don't have documents for the most recent people. After all, I know my mom is my mom, and her parents are her parents. Another (more pressing) reason I don't have these documents is that it is a rather sticky topic. My grandparents married each other and divorced. Then went on to marry other people. Well in the process my grandmother legally changed my mother's last name, and sealed the original birth certificate. Guess what birth certificate I have. The one with the wrong last name. I took a moment to think this through and asked my mom if she has her baptism paperwork. No she doesn't, but she remembers the church. "It's that one in Pismo on the main drag, or what used to be the main drag." Hhmmm... commence big sigh and a little hair pulling. I should add here that my mom lives on the East coast, I live in Tennessee, and the church she is talking about is in California. I lived in California for a while, and I've been to Pismo twice. I have no idea what she is talking about. But, that's okay! I googled it and I think I've narrowed it down to one church. I'll call them tomorrow.

Next, I need my parents marriage certificate. My parents divorced when I was a year old and my father passed away many years ago. Apparently my mom has a copy of it somewhere.... in a box. She moved six months ago and has a vague idea of where it might be. She's working on it. I'll give her a couple of weeks. I might just have to order a copy.

Finally, a while back I emailed another relative for information.... nothing, nada, cue the crickets. Never heard back from them. I'm on my own. But that's okay, whenever this situation arises I tell myself, "You're a genealogist. Figure it out!" I've already made progress and have sent away for a (hopefully) ground breaking record.

Sometimes working with the dead is easier.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Follow Friday-From A to Zophar

I was reading Wendy's blog From A to Zophar today and discovered a term I had never heard of before, "cousin bait". Apparently the idea is to blog about your family history and hope that someday a cousin or some other distant kin will find you when researching a mutual family surname. Until now, I didn't realize this had terminology behind it.

Wendy goes on to relate how she connected with a relative who discovered her blog, and that they share an ancestor. They have been sending a flurry of emails back and forth exchanging information. I had two thoughts upon reading this post; "How exciting!" and "I wish that would happen to me."

Admittedly I have made some wonderful discoveries and even tracked down my father's immediate family. However, it was through hard research and I have never found anybody I'm related to through my blog. I have hope that someday that will happen, until then I'll just keep slogging through the trenches of research on my own.

So, have any of you connected with kin through your blog?

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

What's YOUR Story?

There is always encouragement to write your family history. To gather up all of your hard earned research, put pen to paper, and write out your ancestor's life stories. There are many blogs, lectures, workshops, and classes that will help you on your writing project. It is something that I aspire to and definitely encourage others to do so as well.

However, I also understand that some people just may not be interested in writing up their family history. The journey of research and discover is what they are after and it is enough for them. Or maybe the task is too daunting, or confidence in technical writing skills is the inhibitor. Regardless, I suggest an alternative or another project. Write your story.

I've recently been reviewing my great grandfather's autobiography. He wrote it when he was about 87 years old. His name is Jesse Richard Gunter born 25 October 1901 in Vineland, Pueblo County, Colorado. I never got to meet him, but if I could reach back in time, I would hug him and give him a big kiss for writing down his story. It is not only genealogical gold, but more importantly I feel I have connected with him.

Is it a literary masterpiece? No, but it is not meant to be. Jesse's voice comes through and makes the reading that much more enjoyable. I discovered Jesse moved to San Luis Obispo with his parents and siblings in 1910 by train. Jesse goes on to tell tales of hauling honey, working for the Kern Land Company as a cowboy, working on the Pillsbury Dam (then known as the Snow Mountain Dam), working as a lumberjack, and as a fireman.

Jesse also tells of meeting his wife, Mary Egyed, and when they married, 16 March 1927 in San Jose, California. He tells of the kids they had and of many other family members. The stories have wonderful detail and life. I have great insight into Jesse's life and will be forever grateful that he wrote down his memories and stories.

Writing down your own story doesn't have to be complicated. They are your memories, your experiences, your family, and your stories. Start out simple, what's your name, when and where were you born, who were your parents, and where were they born? The rest will flow and you can take your time. Eventually, you will catch up to present time and you can add to your story every year.

So, what's your story?

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun-List Your Matrilineal Line

Every Saturday night Randy Seaver at Genea-Musings posts a fun activity to do. Tonight's mission, should you chose to accept it (sorry, couldn't help myself) is to list all the women as far back as you can go on your mother's side. Also, if you've done a mtDNA test then list that too, which I haven't

So here's to the ladies....

a) Cinamon
b) Mom (still living) married Stephen Whitsett
c) Mary Lou Brumbaugh (b. 21 April 1931 OH  d. 21 Nov. 2005 TX) married LIVING
d) Anna May Fry (b. 2 May 1896 CO  d. 22 Oct. 1976 WA) married Albert Miles Brumbaugh
e) Louilla "Lula" Alderson (b. 8 Oct 1872 MO   d. 21 Feb 1927 CO) married Tiery Curtis Fry
f) Mary Caroline Risenhoover (b. 17 Sept. 1855 AR  d. 7 Nov 1933 CO) married Samuel Alexander          
g) Delila Caroline Kirby (b. 6 Aug. 1838 AL  d. 1 Dec. 1891 CO) married Asahel J. Risenhoover

I'd like to do a mtDNA test at some point. Until then I have plenty of research to keep me busy with the people listed above.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Citations... It's Like Flossing.

Why are citations like flossing? Well, it's a good habit to get into... just like flossing. Neither are very exciting or brag worthy. However they make you better. The more you cite your work the more it becomes second nature, and you don't even think about it... much. Just like flossing.

Yesterday I worked on citations for several different documents that had arrived in the mail over the past week or two. Most were very straight forward, being birth or death records from a particular state's vital records department. In fact looking at the records one could almost wonder, "Why write a citation? Isn't it obvious where it came from?" To us genealogy obsessed folks it probably is, but for the non-obsessed probably not. Also, now that I have citations on the said documents, when I write up my findings (today, I hope) I'll have the citation ready to go for my footnotes. This way I can focus more on the writing aspect than the technical citation part.

One document that gave me a challenge and spent a surprising amount of time on, was a certificate of divorce. I looked at a few examples in Elizabeth Shown Mills' book Evidence Explained. The book explains (in a nutshell) that divorce cases are civil suits that begin and end in local court (refer to 8.25 and 9.36 in the book if you're curious). Then I proceeded to make a mountain out of a mole hill. The issue was, I obtained this record from the vital records office, not from a court house. Should I cite the docket number or not? Should I cite the page number or not?

In the end, after a chocolate break, I got back to basics. The question to address was very simple, "Where did I get the record from?" After all that is the point of a citation, to tell whoever is looking at a given document where you got it from. Then it was easy. The citation I ended up with very much resembled that of a citation for a marriage certificate.  I'm not sure if that was the "right" way to do it, but I do know that I answered all the questions of who, what, when, and where. Now I'm ready to write up my findings in my research report, and wait for the next batch of documents to come in the mail.