Saturday, December 29, 2007

My 2008 New Year's Resolution

Being a planner by nature, you would think I would LOVE New Year's resolutions. A chance to literally sit down and plan my own improvements, thereby making me a better human being, a worthy spouse, a compassionate friend, a harder-working employee and with any luck, a less rotund person — well how could I resist?

And in truth, I used to love the opportunity to create wonderfully thought-out resolutions. I would spend weeks thinking about them, worrying over every little detail of how I would incorporate more exercise into my life, put away my passion for chocolate or set aside an hour a day to learn a foreign language. Ah, so much time and thought put into these wonderful scenarios of self-improvement. Until I realized there was an inverse relationship to how much time I put into making my resolutions and how fast I broke them.

For you see, and it pains me greatly to say this, the fact of the matter is I am a resolution slacker. I'm lucky to have a resolution last all of three days ... tops! So a few years back, I made the one resolution that I was finally able to keep — no more New Year's resolutions. It's not that I don't have goals. I do. I just don't tie them to any specific arbitrary date, like the New Year, for example.

However, due to a confluence of events, namely my resubscribing to Ancestry, my discovery of the Henry County Genealogical Society's Web site, and the fact that the 39th edition of the Carnival of Genealogy's subject is “New Year's Resolutions,” I've decided to take the plunge and make public my goal for 2008.

My goal is to work on one of my brick wall families, the Jacobus branch this year, and to take all of you on this journey with me. Now, granted this could end up being a very big, very public mistake, but I 'm more afraid of not trying than of failure. My reasons for taking this public approach are:

1. ACCOUNTABILITY — Making this resolution public will push me into pursuing information in a way that my lazy slacker self might not do without the knowledge that someone might ask, “Hey Terry, how is that Jacobus project coming?”

2. GROUP THINK — I am constantly amazed at the large number of things I DO NOT KNOW. But just about the time I am banging my head on my desktop in frustration, I have a hunch that somebody reading my post will write, “Hey Terry, what about trying this?” Because while genealogy may at times be a solitary endeavor, it is also one of sharing. Family genealogists happen to be the most giving people I know, and I am confident, if someone out there has a suggestion of another approach, they will let me know.

3. INSPIRATION — No, I don't think that I am particularly adept at inspiring others, but maybe with my yammering on about my project, someone out there will take a fresh look at one of his own “problem” families and share his successes and frustrations with the rest of us.

The truth is, if you scratch beyond the surface of a family genealogist you will find a lover of puzzles and mysteries. It is the nature of our addiction. Unlike a TV mystery that is solved in an hour, or a good mystery book that is solved at the end of 400 pages, there are no guarantees of success in genealogical mysteries. And it is this very difficulty that makes the success so sweet.

So officially, my resolution is this — I will seek to learn more about Thomas Jacobus and his wife, Catherine, who are found in the 1850 census in Henry County, Ohio. More specifically, I will try to find Catherine's maiden name, hoping to fill in information about her branch of the family, and I will seek to find the parents of Thomas. A secondary goal will be to try to find out what happened to the 12 children that Catherine has listed as deceased in the 1900 census.

In the weeks and months ahead, I hope you will come along with me, as I try to accomplish these goals.

Until Next Time — Happy Ancestral Digging!

Note this post first published online, December 29, 2007, at Desktop Genealogist Blog at The News-Messenger Online

Friday, December 28, 2007

I Survived Christmas (Maybe I Should Get a T-Shirt)

Well, I'm exhausted. A month of preparing, two days’ worth of celebration and some heavy-duty clean up have left me tired with nothing to say. Yeah, I'm that worn out.

Al caught the cold that I thought I was coming down with (thanks honey) and has told everyone within earshot of his voice that I worked him to death getting ready for our parties.

On Christmas Eve, we had four generations of my side of the family and three generations of Al's. The next day was a smaller “party” for three of our grandchildren and their parents who could not make the previous night's celebration.

Noisy and chaotic, it turned out to be, in spite of all my fretting, a pleasurable two days spent with the people I love the most. It's at times like these I remember how lucky I am to have all the blessings that I enjoy. Isn't that what the spirit of Christmas is all about?

Now, I just need someone brave enough to let my youngest sister know that we all voted to have Christmas at her house next year. Anyone?

Until Next Time …

Note: I will be getting back to the business of genealogy in the next few days once I (yawn) am rested up from all this heavy partying.

PS for my brother: Did you recover from the piggyback rides you gave our grand nephews? Ibuprofen is a wonder drug.

Note this post first published online, December 28, 2007, at Desktop Genealogist Blog at The News-Messenger Online

Thursday, December 20, 2007

A holiday meltdown

I'm on a short countdown for the family's Christmas Eve party that hubby and I are hosting this year. The number of people attending has shot up and down like an old-time applause meter, so that I no longer have any idea of how many dozens of buns I need to get, or how many bingo prizes should be wrapped and ready to go.

We have lost running water to our house twice since Sunday, and the last gift that was supposed to be coming this week for our youngest granddaughter is now not going to be shipped until January, necessitating a last-minute replacement! Oh, and I haven't wrapped one present or put up the Christmas tree yet. And I think I am coming down with a cold. Atchoo!

My husband, sensing my imminent meltdown, came home from work tonight and tossed a bag of Dove dark chocolate on the counter saying, “I thought you might need this.” Heck yeah, I need it, along with a Valium chaser.

I have this vision of people pulling up to a darkened house on Christmas Eve with a sign on the door reading, “The hostess and party have gone the way of the Dodo.”

All right, now that the public foot stamping is out of the way I have a couple of miscellaneous items to share with you.


First, the 38th edition of the Carnival of Genealogy is up and posted at Jasia's Creative Gene Web site. (I confess I cheated and was avidly reading most of the postings as they went up on each person's Web site.) The subject was New Year's Eve 1999. Of the 14 genealogy bloggers who submitted entries, only one turns out to be a true partier, which was our hostess, Jasia. I may have had the worst New Year's Eve night, but Bill West's (West in New England) post tells of a pretty lousy year. Then there's Terry Thornton's (Hill Country of Monroe County, Mississippi) remembrance of Y2K. Apparently, his concern over the millennium bug translated into a case of Spam among other things.

For some enjoyable reading go to Creative Gene, and find the links to all 14 posts. BTW, what were YOU doing New Year's Eve 1999?


Check this out. The Footnote Maven has made a collage of her genealogy blogging colleagues in the guise of angels and posted it online. Being singularly uncreative myself, I am in awe of her finished product.

I feel definitely privileged, if not a bit miscast, to be included as one of her angels. Thanks Footnote Maven!

And finally, since this will be my last posting before Christmas, I wanted to wish all of you a very Merry Christmas. May you and yours have the happiest of holidays.

Until Next Time — Happy Ancestral Digging!

Note this post first published online, December 20, 2007 at Desktop Genealogist Blog at The News-Messenger Online

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Henry County Connections

The people of Henry County, Ohio are nice. I don't know if it's PC to call people nice anymore, but I like nice, so I'm going to assume that it's okay.

A few years ago, I had a job that required me to talk to contractors and farmers all over Northwest Ohio. I always looked forward to talking to Henry County people because even if they told you to buzz off, they did it in such a charming fashion that you were like, thanks for telling me to buzz off. Really, they were that nice.

So what happens when you marry nice with technology? Well you get the Henry County Genealogical Society, that's what.

Because my Hoy roots lived in Henry County for a time, I have a good reason for interest in the county and its genealogical information. The society's website offers a pleasant surprise with the amount of information they have made available.

A partial list of information on the website includes:

1. 1859 Property Database
2. 1948 County Directory (does not include Napoleon City)
3. 68th Ohio Volunteer Infantry Database
4. Birth Corrections - Volumes 6-15
5. Chattel Tax Records Database
6. Estate Records Database
7. Marriage Records Database
8. Naturalizations Database
9. Pedigree Chart Index
10. Veterans' Graves

In addition, they have abstracted information of genealogical interest from the society's own newsletters starting with the October 1986 issue through the July-August 2005 issue and they have put the information online.

Besides my Hoy clan that resided in Henry County, two of my brick wall families also lived there. I have only been successful in tracking the Thorn and Jacobus families back to 1850. Both families migrated from New Jersey to Henry County. You can imagine my delight in finding Thorn and Jacobus ancestors listed in the chattel tax records database.

The Thorns, found in the tax year of 1853, were not listed in the 1851 database. The Jacobus family, on the other hand, showed up in the 1845 taxes, but not in the 1844 tax year. I now have a rough timeline for both families that will help me in further searches.

If I had been happy about the tax database, I was ecstatic to find not only my great-great-great-grandfather John D. Thorn listed in the estate records database, but also John's father, George Thorn.

A large note on the page said not to call the probate office and to click on a link for further instructions. The link said to contact the Henry County Genealogical Society directly. My little fingers excitedly tapped out an email message. Because I realize December is a busy month for everybody, I stated in the email that I was in no hurry, even though in truth I could hardly wait to get a look at what was in the estate files.

Jim Rebar of the Henry County Genealogical Society sent me an email the next day, explaining that he would be photographing the information and emailing it to me, free of charge. If I liked what I saw, I could send a donation to the Society.

Jim had replied to me on a Sunday, and on Tuesday, he emailed me the results. The day before, I had happily sent the donation check to Henry County — the fact that they had this service was reason enough to send the donation in my book.

Jim even offered to photo shop the results for me if I didn't have my own program. See what I mean about nice?

What he sent had both answers and more mysteries, and a trail to follow — I can't wait until I have more time to do some digging.

I also had an epiphany about the next step in locating more Jacobus information, all garnered from the Society's databases. I think I now have the tools to break through these particular brick walls.

So I am hoping that there are others reading this blog who have Henry County Ohio kinfolk. If you do, you have to check out the Henry County Genealogical Society's website at Jim tells me that they are working on putting even more information online and they are hoping to put cemetery, birth, marriage and death records on CDs as another avenue for information sharing.

I wish Jim and the Henry County Genealogical Society success in their endeavors. Okay, that's not a totally altruistic wish; I have my own selfish motives for their success. But I have to say, you folks at the Genealogical Society have a mighty fine website already.

Until Next Time — Happy Ancestral Digging!

Note this post first published online, December 19, 2007, at Desktop Genealogist Blog at The News-Messenger Online

Friday, December 14, 2007

New Year’s Eve ... 1999

The theme for the next Carnival of Genealogy is the New Millennium. Jasia asked, “Where were you when the year 2000 came around?” My memories of New Year's Eve 1999 are a series of disjointed flashbacks, which I can't quite weave together correctly.

The whole year before the millennium, the bank that I worked at had been worried about the so called “millennium bug.” You remember, when the clock struck midnight, there was a fear that programs in older computers would not recognize the rollover from 99 to 00 and would fail to operate. Our software vendors assured us that all problems had been corrected, but there was still that little nagging doubt about what would occur.

To be on the safe side, Al and I had set aside a little extra cash, just in case. We went ahead and made our plans for our quiet celebration. You know the usual — a couple of good movies, some finger food, and maybe a little Mike's Hard Lemonade. Yeah, I know, pretty boring but that's how we roll.

What we hadn't counted on was another vicious little bug that was roaming around Northwest Ohio at the time — the flu bug. Now there are all kinds of flu bugs, stomach, intestinal, or the kind where you swear an elephant has parked on your chest, and you're sure if you cough one more time they will have to tape your ribs. Well, this virus had it all, the works, it was after all, the Millennium Bug. And the little devil was headin' straight at Al and me.

In the entire 18 years that we have been married, we have never both been sick at the same time. Usually one will come down with something first, and because we like to share, we pass it along to the other partner. This works out well, because the not sick person can wait hand and foot on the sick person. I, of course, prefer to be left for dead when I am ill, with an occasional, “could you get me the ginger ale before I die of dehydration?” Really, I'm no trouble at all.

Al, on the other hand, runs around saying, “feel my forehead, am I hot?” or “I've never been this sick before!” cough, cough. Implying that he wins some kind of medal for being the sickest a person could be without dying. Yeah right, buddy, that's an Olympic event I want to win.

As I said, we had never both been sick at the same time except for once — New Year's Eve 1999. And here is where things get a little fuzzy as I try to reassemble events. I remember, I started feeling achy and queasy when we went to pick up the sauerkraut balls. By the time we got home, I had the chills and the shakes. Somehow there were dirty dishes that needed washed, and Al, who was looking pretty pale himself, felt we should just wash them up and be done with it.

All I wanted to do was crawl into bed, so I suggested that we just throw all the dirty dishes and pans straight into the trash. For a second, I thought my practical pragmatic husband would go for what I felt was a great solution, but no, he basically said to suck it up and let's get 'em done. If the muscles in my face hadn't ached as much as every other muscle in my body I would have given him my evil death ray stare, guaranteed to melt mere mortals to putty. But I couldn't even muster a grimace, so I went along with his plan and we washed and dried the stupid dishes.

Sometime after that, a car skidded and hit a pole a couple of miles down the road from where we live, and knocked out the power. Toledo Edison was quoted the next day, as saying that all the power had been restored in two hours — NOT! We were without power for eight hours and we piled on every blanket in the house we could find.

At one point, Al decided that he should go start our generator, because we were already sick, and freezing to death is not a recognized cure for the flu. Our bedroom is next to the garage so I could hear him out there saying a not very nice word that my husband normally would not utter, and then I would hear a low moan. This went on for several minutes until he came back in the house, crawled under the pile of blankets and mumbled, “I can't get it started.” He was just too weak. My response? Moan, cough, cough, moan.

In reconstructing this with my husband, we think this must have occurred the day before New Year's Eve because I can remember toddling out to the living room on New Year's Eve and Al telling me that the New Year had come and gone with no Y2K problem rearing its ugly head.

Al, at some point had relocated to the living room sofa, because my moaning, shivering, and retching were not helping him to sleep and vice versa. I remember going back to bed and that's the last thing I remember until New Year's Day night. By then the worst of the stomach/intestinal issues were over and I was left with coughing and that achy feeling.

I know I missed a number of days of work with this flu, but everything else is rather vague. I do remember thinking that this did not bode well for my next 1000 years.

And truth be told, some not-so-nice things have happened to me in the intervening eight years, but there have also been a lot of good things that have happened.

Three more beautiful grandchildren have been added to our family.

My parents moved back from Florida to Ohio, and now live just a hop skip and a jump away.

I finally kept my promise to myself to get my bachelor's degree, cum laude thank you very much.

My youngest sister, who thought she would never be a momma, gave birth to a handsome little fellow who has his mommy's eyes.

I found a job that pays decent enough for me to work part time, and I get to spend the extra time with one of my favorite grandchildren

I've watched my three children grow into confident, compassionate adults that more times than not, knock my socks off with the people that they have become.

And not the least, I've spent the last eight years with my best friend and love, my husband.

So the moral of the story is, well heck, make up your own moral for the story. Yeah, the millennium and how I spent it — a real heartwarming tale.

Until Next Time …

Note this post first published online, December 14, 2007, at Desktop Genealogist Blog at The News-Messenger Online

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Yoo-hoo, Ancestry — I'm back!

Well, I did it. After almost a full year of withdrawal from my Ancestry addiction, I am now plugged back into the mega giant of subscription services — just the US deluxe version. No, I didn't pony up the 155.40 that a yearly subscription runs. I did it with a free trial subscription that came with the FTM version 16 collector's edition. This is an old version of FTM. As I understand it, the newer 2008 version has scrapped the old features for new improved ones — although if the complaints I'm reading are any indication, improved may not be the correct word.

I first heard about the free trial subscription from a genealogy blog I read. At the time, there was a link to this version of FTM for only $15.95. Being a suspicious soul, I put it at the back of my mind. For one thing, I purchased The Master Genealogist a year ago because my old Family Tree Maker program was, well old. I needed 16 floppy disks to back it up, and there was no CD back up option offered.

Unfortunately, though The Master Genealogist offers the bells and whistles that I thought I wanted, I just didn't have the large chunks of time that I needed to master the program.

Then two posters on the forum that is affiliated with this blog both mentioned the same deal. (Thanks Dawn and Cassandra11!) Reading what they had to say, I sat up and took notice. I did some research and found another blogger who had taken advantage of the free trial offer and gave it a thumbs up.

After much thought and consideration, I am, after all, a planner by nature, I decided that I would go ahead and purchase the version 16 collector's edition which was the one offering a free year's subscription. I went back to the company that was offering the $15.95 deal and found that the price had jumped and they were now selling the same product for $59.95.! Ouch! If you considered the fact that you were getting Ancestry thrown in, it was still a good deal.

But what if I got the product and they had rescinded the offer? Did I really want a second FTM program, one that was more than two years old for that price? The answer was no. (Did I mention I am not only a planner, but I am also a CAUTIOUS planner?)

So, I gave it some more thought, and I decided what I would be willing to pay for FTM, and I kept checking to see if I could find it for that price or less. I finally found someone selling the version I wanted for a price I was willing to pay, and I went ahead and ordered it. Of course, a week later I found it for five bucks cheaper — that will teach me to keep checking prices after I have bought an item!

So say hallelujah, I am now linked to the one subscription service that I love to hate and I hate to love. Yes, they sometimes try my patience, and yes, I have yet to get one reminder e-mail from them telling me that my subscription time is up and they are going to be charging me X amount of dollars for another year's subscription, but oh the wonderful abundance of records, the constant addition of new content, and the power of indexing is just too much for me to wave them a permanent good-bye. What can I say? I'm weak.

Right now, I am too busy to sit down and spend much time with Ancestry, but in the short bursts of time I have been online, I have found four new things that will take my research in new directions, and I did it from the comfort of my own home. Does it get any better?

Until Next time — Happy Ancestral Digging!

Note this post first published online, December 12, 2007 at Desktop Genealogist Blog at The News-Messenger Online

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Genealogy Quick Notes — Family History 101 Web site

My real name is Teresa and my parents nicknamed me Terry, which is the name I usually use. If I had been living during the 19th century, my nickname more than likely would have been Tess, this according to the list of names and nicknames used during the 18th and 19th centuries here in the US. While Alex is still considered a nickname for Alexander, another nickname used during that period was Zander. I found this and other interesting tidbits of information on the Family History 101 Web site.

Here are a few more examples of nicknames that might not leap to your mind when you see them:

Con for Cornelius
Dob or Dobbin for Robert
Fanny for Nathaniel .
Si could be used for Cyrus or Josiah
Fate for Lafayette
Hitty for Mehetable
Crecy for Lucretia
Briney for Sybrina
Biddie for Bridget
Nettie for Antoinette or Henrietta

You can find more examples on the Web site at the following link:

While you are there, check out the county and census maps on the Web site. At you will find a link to county maps in 29 states. For example, if you click on the 1803 Ohio county map you would see that Sandusky County was part of Franklin County the year Ohio became a state. The Ohio county formation maps start with year 1788 and end with the year 1888.

At, you will find county maps of the same 29 states, but these are snap shots of what counties existed at the time each federal census was taken. The census years included range from 1790 to 1920. Seeing how county lines changed over time is useful to family genealogists as they search for clues in both census and local records.

Until Next Time — Happy Ancestral Digging!

Note this post first published online, December 11, 2007, at Desktop Genealogist Blog at The News-Messenger Online

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

More genealogist wish lists

Last month, I posted my own dear Santa letter. Are you curious like I am to see what other genealogists want from old Saint Nick? Well the 37th Carnival of Genealogy has been posted to Jasia's Creative Gene Web site. The topic this edition? Wish lists. Each is introduced by Jasia, herself, and linked to the appropriate blog. I don't want to spoil it for anyone but some involve time travel. Wow! And I thought my wanting a camera was a big deal!

Take a break from your holiday preparations, and think about what you'd wish for from Santa. Maybe you should sit down and write him your letter.

The link for 37th Carnival of Genealogy is

Until Next Time — Happy Ancestral Digging!

Note this post first published online, December 5, 2007 at Desktop Genealogist Blog at The News-Messenger Online

Monday, December 3, 2007

T'is the Season to Freak Out

Well, it's December again. And as usual, I am in a tizzy wondering how everything that needs to be done will get done. In the middle of my annual freak out, there stands my husband, cool calm and collected. Assuring me that everything will work out, that the presents will all end up bought and wrapped, the house cleaned, decorated and ready for visitors, the Christmas Eve food decided on, bought and prepared, and that this all will happen without me having a heart attack or ending up in the loony bin. My husband is such an optimist.

He stays stoically calm, if a bit impatient when I reject suggestion after suggestion for a gift for our 8-month-old grandson. I stand in the toy aisle, making him dump every box upside down to see where each toy is made. Made in China they all read.

“Terry,” he says, “they are all made in China. Face it; you are going to have to buy something made in China.”

“But he's a baby. They put everything into their mouth. I'm not getting a baby anything made in China!”

So on we march, me determined, and Al mentally calculating how many of these shopping trips we will have to make before I succumb to the inevitable. My stubborn refusal is threatening to derail the hardcore shopping that we had intended, needed to get done.

My husband, in an effort to derail what I'm sure he sees as an oncoming temper tantrum and to assuage his own growling stomach, suggests we stop shopping and eat.

The warm lobster bisque, the thirst quenching raspberry lemonade and the quiet talk about anything NOT having to do with Christmas, revive me.

I decide when we get home I will shop online for something made in the USA for the youngest member of the family. I call both of my sons, and tell them I am in a store parking lot, ready to do Christmas shopping and that they had better tell me right this minute what to buy. Surprisingly, both sons have suggestions that they give me without too much coaxing, and without one threat of dire consequences passing my lips.

Al and I even come up with a good idea for a gift for my parents, and suddenly all is right with the world. We get some of the needed shopping done, pat ourselves on the back, and I go home, get online and find an actual toy made in the USA, not out of stock, that if I order today will be here 10 days before Christmas. Oh, sweet success!

Now if I can just resist the temptation to look on the bottom of the crock-pot I bought for one of the boys to see where it was made, I can count this a perfect shopping day.

Until Next Time — Happy Ancestral Digging!

Note: This post is my way of letting you know that due to my annual freak out, my posts this month will be sporadic. T'is the Season!

Note this post first published online at Desktop Genealogist Blog, December 3, 2007, at The News-Messenger Online

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

What Day of the Week was That?

On a Tuesday, April 25 1904, Emma Gleffe married Leo Schröder in Muttrin, Germany. Almost two years later, my great-grandparents, Emma and Leo, arrived in the Port of New York. Traveling on the SS Amerika, their journey ended on April 1, 1906, which happened to be a Sunday. Have you ever wondered about what day of the week important events in your family tree took place? Well, wonder no more.

Herb Weiner created a Web site that calculates calendars for years past. You can display a specific month of a specific year, or you can display the entire year. The Web site, aptly titled, “Calendar Calculator” even takes into account the year different localities changed from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar. (For example, Italy changed to the Gregorian calendar in the year 1582, while the American Colonies and Britain didn't make the change until September 1752.)

The Web site,, at first blush seems a little imposing, but once you read through it, you realize you don't have to use all the options given.

If, like me, weird little facts make your world go round, you might also like to check out a companion Web site, Claus Tønderlings, “Frequently Asked Questions about Calendars” at

Okay, not even I needed to read all 63 pages of his PDF file. (You can also read the information in text or Webpage format), but I did find some interesting little tidbits that made me ponder. For instance:

1. If you have ancestors born in Lithuania prior to 1915, chances are good that their dates of birth were calculated by the old Julian calendar because Lithuania didn't make the switch to Gregorian until 1915.

2. The Orthodox Greek Church didn't switch to a Gregorian calendar until 1920 and wanting to improve on the Gregorian calendar, they made a few changes on the way leap years are calculated. In the year 2800, their calendar will not match the rest of the world's calendar. (Goodie, one more crazy thing I can worry about!)

3. Did you know that the years 1800 and 1900 were NOT leap years?

4. If you see the date 12/01/07 do you know what date I am referring to?

In the United States, we would read this date as December 1, 2007.

In most of the rest of the world, it would be read as January 12, 2007.

If you were using the International Standard, it would read January 7, 2012 (although ISO standards require the year to be written as four digits).

So in ISO standard, today is 2007-11-28.

And on that note — Happy Ancestral Digging!

Note this post first published online, November 28, 2007, at Desktop Genealogist Blog at The News-Messenger Online

Monday, November 26, 2007

Indexing Frustrations

Ever been frustrated on how poor the indexing is when you are doing a search on Ancestry or another database? I admit I have. How could the indexer not have known that the last name was Smathers not Smothers, or that Nancy was actually Mary? Well, I guarantee you, I won't be judging so quickly the next time it happens.

I spent the long holiday weekend doing volunteer indexing for LDS's ongoing indexing project, and I am now properly humbled at the difficulty of the task. Two projects that currently have a high priority are West Virginia Vital Records and the 1871 Canadian Census. I worked on marriage licenses for the West Virginia Vital Records. Transcribing the marriage records wasn't too bad, since some of these were actually typed records — say Hallelujah!

The Canadian census was a whole other story. The first page I did, the resolution was terrible. Blowing up the page didn't help. Squinting sometimes worked but by the time I got to the end of the 40 or so names, I had a raging headache.

I really thought the next time I logged in I would be greeted with a message asking me to PLEASE NEVER WORK ON THIS CENSUS AGAIN. Thank goodness, each page is transcribed by three different individuals. At completion, the three transcriptions are compared. An arbitrator makes the final decision over which transcription to use when discrepancies exist. I wish the arbitrator luck when looking over that first page I did. I just hope the other two individuals who worked on the same page knew what they were doing.

When I saw Quebec on the second page, I knew I was in trouble. No Parlez-vous Francais! Not even a little! Unfortunately, once you download a page it's yours to transcribe — no givebacks. (Actually, I could have let it sit there until December 2, my official deadline for finishing the page. I don't know what happens if you don't finish it. Maybe you are visited by snarling men in black trench coats, who stand over you with a ruler and smack you until you finish — I didn't read the fine print to know for sure.)

However, this page was easier to read. Unfortunately, not being familiar with French surnames and given names turned out to be a bit of a handicap, but I think I did a much better job with these 40 names than I did with those on the first page.

If I haven't scared you with my whining and you think you might like to try your hand at indexing, visit to get more information. You will need to install special software, and for that reason, they recommend you have broadband capabilities.

Quoting directly from the Web site:“When the information indexed by volunteers is ready for publication, it will be made available FREE OF CHARGE through Some of these indexes will be posted by our partnering societies.”

As I mentioned in a previous post, they have completed indexing the Ohio Death Records, and it's my understanding they will be available for viewing sometime after the first of the year.

Until next time — Happy Ancestral Digging!

Note this post first published online, November 26 , 2007, at Desktop Genealogist Blog at The News-Messenger Online

Friday, November 23, 2007

A letter to Santa from the Desktop Genealogist

Dear Santa,

I know you must be raising your brows a little bit wondering why I would even think about sending you my genealogical wish list for Christmas. I am not exactly the poster child of the good girl. I mean I confess to dragging my long-suffering spouse to cemeteries far and wide — resulting in, on at least one occasion, a shredded tire that had to be replaced — on a holiday weekend no less. Then there is my editor who probably opens my e-mails like someone suspecting a letter bomb. Does my public admission that I HATE HOLIDAYS automatically put me on your Naughty List?

But Santa, honest, I didn't bash you, not once. So in the hopes that you are big enough to overlook some of my little flaws, and with the promise of cookies and milk for you should you deliver on any one of these, I am sending you my Wish List for Christmas.

1. A digital camera — Every year this makes the top of my wish list. And every year, something comes up that takes precedence. It's not that I don't like my old Sony, but it's big and clunky, and still takes floppy disks, and it just can't keep up with the quality of newer models.

2. I'd like to see some definitive proof that my ancestress, Magdalena Good, was indeed the daughter of John Click Jr. I know I have a whole slew of circumstantial evidence, but I still would like something tangible wrapped up in a nice metallic red bow, if you please.

3. I'd like you to help me sweet talk my beloved spouse into stopping on the way back from the family's big vacation in Tennessee, at the Lexington National Cemetery where my great-great-grandfather, Edward Jacobus is buried. Because his grave marking is wrong, I bet none of his family or descendants have ever visited his grave to pay their respects. I would very much like to rectify this, Santa.

4. While we are on the subject, when my family is planning one of these “several generations” vacations, could you have them decide on a state where ANY of our ancestors have lived? Nobody lived in Tennessee! What's wrong with Oklahoma as a hot spot destination?

5. Oh, and Santa, if you could see your way clear to helping me find out why my great-great-grandfather, George Cope, changed the spelling of his last name to Ceope after his marriage to his second wife, I would be forever grateful. I bet there's a juicy little tale that needs to see the light of day.

6. And finally, Santa, I know this has nothing to do with genealogy and makes me sound like a Miss Universe contestant, but if you could give us a little world peace and a sudden new found ability to live in harmony, that would be terrific. I know this has been on wish lists for generations, but I figured as long as I was asking ...


Terry Snyder, Desktop Genealogist

PS. If the Hayes Presidential Center Library hasn't yet raised the money it needs to purchase the microfilm/carrier and additional connections to enable the Minolta MS6000 to view microfilm yet, could you help out with this wish also, Santa?

Note this post first published online, November 23, 2007, at Desktop Genealogist Blog at The News-Messenger Online

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thanksgiving and an Anniversary

My grandparents, Frank Eugene Hoy and Katheryne Cecile Lynch, were married 91 years ago today at Ebenezer Evangelical Church in Tiffin. The picture attached to this post was taken on the day of their wedding. Talk about opposites attracting, they don't get more opposite then Frank and Katie.
I was not yet 10 when grandpa died in 1963, so my memories of him are vague and fuzzy. I know he was short, with mounds of white wavy hair. He always seemed to be smoking a cigar, so that cigar smoke intermingled with the scent of lilacs from the bush that grew in his yard, conjure up his memory for me. A gentleness and warmth surrounded him, and though I didn't know him well, I always felt peaceful and loved in his presence.
My mother tells the story of Grandpa, who did not drive, walking all the way to our house to give his youngest daughter, my mom, flowers for her birthday.
The story I like best, the one that cements Grandpa's character for me, is the one my mother has told about the German bible that Grandpa had in his possession. During World War II an old German-speaking gentleman would walk to Grandpa's house every week so he could read Grandpa's German bible. This made the family a bit nervous — it was during World War II after all and nobody like those “dirty Germans.” Grandpa ignored it all, figuring if this gentleman wanted to read his old bible, the bible would be there for him to read. Grandpa — my gentle-hearted hero.
Gentleness, however, would not be the word to describe my grandmother, Katie. In her younger years she was a temperamental, larger than life red head. She and her twin sister, Elizabeth were the youngest children of her family. Grandma once told me that she was her dad's favorite and Elizabeth was her mom's favorite. This seems highly unlikely since Elizabeth died at nine months of measles. I think this was Grandma speak for “Daddy said yes, and Momma said no.”
When Grandma talked her arms would fly in all directions, punctuating her words as she spoke. For a shy child like me, grandma could be mighty intimidating. However Grandma had two things going for her in my young mind, she made great fried chicken and she loved to tell stories. I never saw her at a loss for words or for stories. I would settle into a corner, far enough away from her flying hands and listen as a child. I can only remember vague pieces of some of them, enough to know that, as I have often said, she never let a little thing like facts, get in the way of a good story.
To this day, I don't know if the story she once told me about she and Grandpa meeting at a Halloween party is true. However they met, I'd lay my money on Grandma being the one to start the flirtation.
As is often the case of opposites, the attraction eventually wanes and then turns to irritation, which turns into anger and frustration. When my mother was still a child, Katie and Frank divorced. I know their divorce caused their children a lot of sadness and because Katie had instigated the divorce, she had some very angry children.
But it is appropriate to give thanks, on this day of Thanksgiving, that these two opposites, somehow found and married each other, because from their union came nine children. Nine perfect gems, each one shining in his or her own right, who have gone on to have children, grandchildren and even a few great-grandchildren to grace this earth. As one of these descendants of Frank and Katheryne, I am truly thankful for this small miracle.
May you and yours be blessed with a wonderful Thanksgiving Day.
Until Next Time — Happy Ancestral Digging!
Note this post first published online, November 22, 2007, at Desktop Genealogist Blog at The News-Messenger Online

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The Carnival of Genealogy is in Town

The Carnival is in town! The 36th edition of the Carnival of Genealogy can be found on Jasia's Creative Gene ( November 19 posting. The carnival is a group of bloggers who submit postings on a given topic related to genealogy. This edition was a carnival edition so there was no specific topic. Posted are 31 articles with 26 authors on a wide range of subjects.

Because this was an open topic, it's fascinating to see what each blogger chose to write. It's a little like peeking into each one's mind, seeing what subject merited their attention. Some of you will relate to Miriam Robbins Midkiff's, “Loving Genealogy …For Over 30 Years” or Lori Thornton's “On the Menu: Traditional Thanksgiving Dinner.”

Ever wonder about hog killing? Me, neither — that is until I read Terry Thornton's, “Hog Killing at Parham.” Randy Seaver's entry, “The Future of Genealogy — My Turn” talks about where he thinks Genealogy and the Internet are heading. Becky Wiseman's, “Are You Prepared? I'm Not” written in the wake of the fires in California and a tornado in Nappanee, Indiana is a must read for local genealogists — we see our fair share of tornadoes here in Northwest Ohio.

Jasia, the carnival's hostess at Creative Gene, wrote “You're All Invited to A Feather Party” which talks about a tradition in Detroit's Polish community. Jasia also linked us to last year's post, “Plan to Be Remembered” with ideas on how you can preserve today for tomorrow's family historian.

Well, you get the idea, 31 well written articles for you to read. So kick off your shoes, pull yourself up to your computer screen, and spend an enjoyable time reading some interesting, unique posts. My September 21 posting, “All in the Details” is also included in this edition of the carnival.

The next edition of the Carnival will be on the topic, Wish Lists. Goody, permission to indulge on my wildest genealogical inspired fantasies!

Until Next Time — Happy Ancestral Digging!

Note this post first published online, November 21, 2007, at Desktop Genealogist Blog at The News-Messenger Online

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Using Online Ohio Death Records to Solve Genealogical Problems — Part II

As I mentioned yesterday, I spent the past weekend searching the Ohio Death Records images as a participant in FamilySearch Lab's, Pilot for Family Search-Record Search Program. I haven't yet told you the coolest part of all. The Ohio Death Records have a pretty nifty feature. You can search by a spouse's name, a father's name, a mother's name, or any combination of the three.

So think about this for a second. How many times have you been researching a family and the females of the family simply disappear? Did they get married? Did they die? Did they join a convent? With the ability to search by an individual's parents, some of those missing females may finally be found!

My great-great-great-grandparents, Thomas and Catherine Jacobus came to Ohio sometime between 1840 and 1850 from New Jersey. Thomas died in 1854 and Catherine died in 1901. According to the 1900 census, Catherine had 12 children, none of whom was still living in 1900. I've only been able to come up with seven names, all having disappeared by the 1880 census. Only three were known to have had children, my great-great-grandfather, Edward, his brother Ezra and his sister Hannah Marie. I've been trying to locate Ezra's daughter Blanche and Hannah's two daughters Jaquetta and Josephine.

PROBLEM 3: Look for Blanche Jacobus, Jaquetta McColley and Josephine McColley in the Ohio Death Records to see if I can solve the mystery of what happened to them.

For Blanche, I search by putting in the father's last name as Jacobus. There are matching hits but none are correct. I then try just the first name, Ezra for the father's name — again nothing. I try both the mother's first name, which I know to be Awilda and then her last name, Crosby but still no luck. I have struck out on locating Blanche.

For Jaquetta and Josephine, I take a similar approach — first typing in Jacobus as a last name for the mother. This gives me 44 matches, none is correct. Next, I try typing in the father's last name McColley. I am a little nervous about this because I have also seen it spelled McCauley. This gives me 293 matches — I could look at all but decide that I will add the first name of Jaquetta to the search and see if I can find one of the daughters.

Bingo! There she is. Her married name was Overhuls. (Her mother is listed as Marie Jacovus.) I now have a name to use to search census records to find out more about the family. When I try the same tactic with her sister Josephine, she is also found. She is listed as Josephine Woodward.

PROBLEM 4: Yesterday I confirmed that George Lynch's mother is Margaret Anderson. According to stories from descendants of both Margaret's brother, John Anderson, and her sister, Jane Anderson Feasel, their mother's name was Margaret Scott Anderson. I want to see if any death records support this.

John Anderson died in 1878; Jane died in 1886 and Margaret, the daughter, died in 1884. Nothing helps me here. However, Margaret, the mother, remarried after her husband Ezekiel died during the War of 1812. She married a Jacob Isenhart and had three children from this marriage, Jacob Jr., Isaac and Harriet. Maybe one of them died between 1909 and 1953.

I search using Isenhart as the last name of the father. I find Harriet Sipple living in Williams County, Ohio (where I knew she had lived). Her father is listed as Jacob Isenhart and her mother's name is listed as Margaret Scott. I can further confirm that I have the right individual, as a son from Harriet's first marriage is the informant. Success, indeed, is sweet.

I hope the search capabilities of FamilySearch's Ohio Death Records become the gold standard for all records. Just think of all the missing female lines we might be able to find!

Until Next Time — Happy Ancestral Digging.

Note this post first published online, November 20, 2007, at Desktop Genealogist Blog at The News-Messenger Online

Monday, November 19, 2007

Using Online Ohio Death Records to Solve Genealogical Problems — Part I

I've been busy this weekend solving problems and family mysteries thanks to the FamilySearch Labs Record Search website ( The folks at have an ongoing project in which volunteers are indexing a variety of records. The plan is for some of the records to start appearing on the Family website in 2008, so the public will have full access to them.

In the meantime, I could sign up to become a participant in their Pilot for Family Search-Record Search Program.

After registering and waiting a day for confirmation of my registration, I signed in and started searching. The idea behind the pilot program is to garner feedback from participants before these features go public. I am in fact, a happy little beta testing guinea pig.

The two sets of records of most interest to me were the 1900 Ohio Census records and the Ohio Death Records, Dec 20, 1908 through 1953. Both of these records had images attached and both had been completely indexed and were therefore searchable. I rolled up my figurative sleeves, and gave the record search a good workout.

In case you missed it in that last gobbledy goop of a paragraph, I'm looking at ACTUAL IMAGES OF OHIO DEATH CERTIFICATES! Now are you impressed?

PROBLEM 1 - I want to see if the mother of my great-grandmother, Emma Gleffe Schrader, is listed on her death certificate. Jörg Gliewe, my German friend, had said the mother's name was Pauline Gleffe and that Gleffe was her maiden name as well as her married name. However, we were communicating through translators and I feared I had not understood correctly. I hoped that Emma's death certificate would solve the issue.

I typed in first name, last name and the event year, and voila, she was one of three complete matches. Unfortunately, her mother's name was not listed. The upside was, I did not have to spend $7 to find this out, and I was able to download and save the record.

PROBLEM 2 - Circumstantial evidence indicated that Margaret Anderson was the mother of my great-great-grandfather, George W. Lynch. Census records confirmed her first name was Margaret, but I did not have anything more concrete than the fact that two of her siblings and mother were all buried in Feaselburg Cemetery in Seneca County.

George was born in 1831 before birth records were kept and he died in 1903 in Greer County, Oklahoma. Unfortunately, Oklahoma didn't start filing death records until October 1908. However, George was the oldest of a large family of children. Only two others left Ohio for other states, which meant the others had all died in Ohio.

The last of George's brothers living in Ohio died in 1901 (Marion Lynch), so looking at George's sisters was the next step. Fortunately, I had learned the value of researching siblings from my first cousin once removed, Cheryl. (Don't make me tell you again what once removed means.) And I therefore knew what each sister's married last name was.

So I looked up the death records of Amanda Lynch Hosler, Margaret Lynch Michaels, Harriet Lynch Rosenberger and Jane Lynch Rosenberger. Amanda, Harriet, and Jane's death records all listed Margaret Anderson as the mother. Margaret's death record just gave the last name as Anderson. Success. I now feel confident that Margaret Anderson is indeed the mother of George Lynch.

Tomorrow, I will give examples of two more problems I tackled with the aid of Ohio's Death Records.

Until then — Happy Ancestral Digging!

Note: My November 15 post, “Testing Online Translators” was mentioned on Juliana Smith's “24/7 Family History Circle” ( hosted by It appeared in the November 16 post. Thanks for the mention!

Note this post first published online, November 19, 2007, at Desktop Genealogist Blog at The News-Messenger Online

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Testing Online Translators

MY MISSION — check out online translators to see what differences arise when I use more than one to translate a paragraph.

MY METHOD — use Babel Fish, Google translator and SDL translator to take the same paragraph and translate it first into German. Then using that German translation, translate it back into English.


Hi! My name is Terry Snyder. I am interested in family history and genealogy. My great-grandparents left Germany to come to the United States in 1906.

Babel Fish (

ENGLISH TO GERMAN: Hallo! Mein Name ist Terry Snyder. Ich bin an der Familiengeschichte und an der Genealogie interessiert. Meine großen Großeltern verließen Deutschland, um in die Vereinigten Staaten 1906 zu kommen.

GERMAN TO ENGLISH: Hello! My name is Terry Snyder. I am interested in family history and in the genealogy. My large grandparents left Germany, in order to come into the United States 1906

Google Translator (

ENGLISH TO GERMAN: Hallo! Mein Name ist Terry Snyder. Ich interessiere mich in der Familie Geschichte und Ahnenforschung. Meine Grosseltern Linke Deutschland zu kommen, in die Vereinigten Staaten 1906.

GERMAN TO ENGLISH: Hello! My name is Terry Snyder. I am interested in the family history and genealogy. My grandparents left Germany to come to the United States 1906.

As you can see from these three different translations, you can get an idea of what I am talking about, but it's not very clear — in fact as I pointed out with the Google translator I've lost one generation of grandparents.

The Web site, LOST IN TRANSLATION, takes things a step further. Using Babel Fish as the translator it translates my paragraph first into French, then back to English, then into German, then back into English. Next it takes that English translation and translates it into Italian, then again in English, then Portuguese, then English, then Spanish and finally one last time back into English.

All those translations result in the final English version as follows: Hello! My name is Terry Snyder. They are interested of the prehistory of the family and the genealogy. My great grandparents of Germany of the left, the end to enter corresponded with declare 1906.

Not exactly what I had intended to say.

If you'd like to play with this last little experiment on your own, you can find the LOST IN TRANSLATION Web site at If you add the Korean, Chinese and Japanese options, the result is even more garbled! Mission accomplished.

Until Next Time — Happy Ancestral Digging!

Note this post first published online, November 15, 2007, at Desktop Genealogist Blog at The News-Messenger Online

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Requiescat in Pace

(Today, November 14, my daughter Heather would have been thirty.)

I never saw her, my daughter, my Heather
I felt her prenatal kicks;
I patted my belly
Named her Little Harry Eagleclaw
She liked my rocking chair, I think
Kicking when I would pause to stop
She died, bones crushed by the weight of her own body fluids
A mystery, they said, so sad, they said, you'll have another, they said.
I nodded, always the acquiescent essence of a good girl
Not willing to bother anyone, for a matter so small.

Until one morning, when the sun came up a little slanted
Illuminating the white hot fierceness of loss
I moaned and wailed and beat my fists upon the walls
Demanding retribution, demanding an accounting
Demanding God to show himself, to strike me dead
And when I was done, God being silent
I lay spent, alive, yet not, pieces of my soul released and gone forever
Buried with my perfect monster child, my daughter, my baby, my Heather.

Tempus animae medicus.

Until Next Time …

Note this post first published online, November 14, 2007, at Desktop Genealogist Blog at The News-Messenger Online

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Genealogy Solutions — Using Online Translators

The box went from my great-grandparents' house to their eldest son, William. Upon William's death, his widow, Louise, gave the box to my parents. Because the papers in the box were all in German, my parents gave the box to my sister, who had taken two years of high school German. My sister dutifully stored the box of German papers on a shelf in the closet. And there the box sat half-forgotten gathering dust.

A few years ago, when family members started asking me when I was going to get around to researching the Schrader side of the family, the subject of the box came up in conversation. I hadn't known of its existence, and frankly when the box first came into my family's possession in the early 1980s I wouldn't have given it much thought anyway. We were all delighted to find that my wonderful sister still had the box — in fact, she knew exactly where the box was.

So Sis got the box down from the closet and brought it over to my house, so I could go through it, catalog it and scan copies of the documents into my computer, where they would be backed up onto a DVD disc. Even without knowledge of any German, I could tell I had a treasure trove of information. Using the language tool on Google, I was able to understand some of the official looking documents. I could type a word in German and get its English translation.

For those of you out there who might need to look up a foreign word yourselves, you can find Google's language tools on this page:

You can translate the following languages into English at this Web site:

1. French
2. German
3. Italian
4. Portuguese
5. Spanish

There are also beta versions of the following languages:

1. Arabic
2. Chinese
3. Japanese
4. Korean
5. Russian

Other Web sites that also offer similar features are:

1. Babel Fish Translation —
2. SDL/Free Translation —
3. Prompt Online Translator —
4. InterTran —
5. —

I have used both Babel Fish and SDL as well as the Google translators. Though none is perfect — each leaves a little to be desired — they helped me communicate with a German gentleman who was researching the Gleffe/Gliewe family name. (Gleffe was my great-grandmother Schrader's maiden name.) Sometimes I was only able to get the gist of what he was telling me, but communicating with Jörg definitely helped me move my research forward.

The InterTran page has the most language translations offered such as Romanian, Icelandic and Croatian to name a few. The Poltran site specializes in Polish to English and vice versa.

Some of the translation sites also offer you the ability to type in a Web address to translate the Web page from another language into English. In this manner, I was able to find a picture of the actual church in Budow that is mentioned in the document you see in the picture associated with this post.

The document lists my great-grandparents Leo Schröder and Emma Gleffe Schröder, along with their sons, Wilhelm and Max. The first column lists birth dates, the second is the baptismal date, the third column is for confirmation into the church, and the final date is their marriage date.

These records were copied from the Church in Budow. Budow was located in the Kreis (county) Stolp in the province of Pomerania in Germany.

It really is a small world. Imagine being able to go online to find a picture of a church where my great-grandparents were baptized and confirmed in the last part of the 19th century in a foreign country. This is even more amazing when you realize that the German province of Pomerania no longer exists — the area where it once was located is now a part of Poland. The Internet is definitely a plus for any budding desktop genealogist.

Until Next Time — Happy Ancestral Digging!

Note this post first published online, November 13, 2007, at Desktop Genealogist Blog at The News-Messenger Online

Monday, November 12, 2007

Nine Things to Know About Veterans Day

1. Some people confuse Memorial Day and Veterans Day. Memorial Day honors those men and women who have died in the service of their country while Veterans Day, though it honors all who have served their country, is more about honoring and thanking those living men and women who have served in our armed forces.

2. This national day was originally known as Armistice Day. It was observed on November 11 because on the 11th month, 11th day and the 11th hour in 1918 an armistice was observed until the Treaty of Versailles could be signed officially ending World War I, or The Great War as it was then known.

3. In 1938, Congress passed legislation to commemorate Armistice Day on November 11. Because World War I was thought to be “the war to end all wars,” this day was dedicated to world peace and those who had served their country during World War I.

4. In 1954, after both World War II and the Korean War had been fought, Congress changed the holiday from Armistice Day to Veterans Day to honor all veterans of all wars.

5. Other countries also honor their veterans on or near November 11. Both Canada and Australia observe what is known as Remembrance Day on November 11, while Great Britain observes their own Remembrance Day on the Sunday nearest to November 11.

6. In 1968, there was a big push for Monday to be the day we celebrated most federal holidays. The last Monday in October was designated for Veterans Day. Because the November 11th day had so much meaning, many states continued to observe the day on November 11. Finally, President Ford signed a bill stating that beginning in 1978 Veterans Day would again be officially observed on November 11th.

7. While Veterans Day honors both those who have served in our Armed Forces during peacetime and wartime, approximately 75% of those Veterans we honor served during some type of conflict.

8. Since 2000, a National Veterans Awareness Week has been observed to emphasize “educational efforts directed at elementary and secondary school students concerning the contributions and sacrifices of veterans;” and to encourage “the people of the United States to observe National Veterans Awareness Week with appropriate educational activities.” This year the week is November 11 through November 17.

9. The Library of Congress has an ongoing project to collect first-hand accounts of Wartime stories through volunteer contributions of video, audio and written narratives. Called the Veterans History Project, its primary focus is on preservation of Veterans’ experiences for the following wars:
a. World War I
b. World War II
c. Korean War
d. Viet Nam War
e. Persian Gulf War
f. Afghanistan and Iraq Conflicts

To read more about the project or to find out how to submit your own personal wartime experiences go to

Our heart felt thanks to all of you who have answered the call of duty to serve our country in both war and peacetime. This week and Veterans Day is a time for all of us to reflect on the honor of your personal sacrifices.

Until Next Time . . .

Note this post first published online, November 12, 2007, at Desktop Genealogist Blog at The News-Messenger Online

Friday, November 9, 2007

Desktop Genealogist does her part for BGSU research

Yesterday, I took a lovely little break from my daily routine to be interviewed by doctoral candidate Amy Smith, a student in the School of Communication Studies at BGSU. She is working on her dissertation, the purpose of which is to examine the impact of women doing family history research and its effect on family communications. For this study, she is interviewing 21 women from our area. I was number 12.

The deal-sealer for me was being interviewed meant that I had the chance to see something other than the four walls of my own home office. So I trotted off to spend an hour with Amy, talking about research and swapping the genealogical equivalent of war stories. Amy was charming, funny and very easy to talk to, which was a real bonus since I would have talked quite cheerfully to Attila the Hun given the chance to be let out of my customary cage.

I wish I had taken notes, so that I could share more details with you. I did take my notebook and a pen but it's hard to take notes with all that arm flailing I do when I talk.

This mad gesturing as I speak was seen as a serious flaw by my eighth-grade English teacher, who told me if they cut off my arms, I would be mute. (I hope this doesn't give anyone ideas.)

Amy gave me the chance to request anonymity when she publishes her work, but since I've already publicly copped to laugh snorting, hating Halloween and being a statistics geek, I didn't think there would be much point. What could I possibly say in an hour that would be worse?

I will be getting a copy of Amy's work, when it is completed. It will be interesting to see her conclusions and read what the others had to say about what drew them to genealogy, their research methods and whether or not the study of family history has enhanced communication within their own families.

All I know is that in my family, I'm able to read perfectly the glazing of the eyes, the stifled yawn and the impatient drum of fingertips that tell me that I have gone one syllable too far with my ancestral chatter. Yup, genealogy certainly has improved my family's ability to communicate.

Until Next Time — Happy Ancestral Digging!

Note this post first published online, November 9, 2007, at Desktop Genealogist Blog at The News-Messenger Online

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Three Days of — Free!

I wish I could take credit for this catch but it was Lisa's “100 Years in America “blog ( that first mentioned 3 days of unlimited access to Not only is it free, but no credit card information is required. You will need to give your name and e-mail address, but that might net you a discount offer from my favorite genealogy subscription service — just in time for Christmas!

If you've ever wanted to give Ancestry a try, this is your chance. Here's the link to take advantage of the offer:

You might want to think about which three days you will have the most time to “play.” Me — I saw the link, clicked it and then thought, darn why didn't I wait until Friday. So, you'll understand if I cut this post short. I want to follow up on some Hamburg Passenger lists to see if my great-grandparents are listed, and I need to take a closer look on the 1870 census now that I know where to look for a distant cousin, and then I want to ... well, you get the idea.

Until Next Time — Happy Ancestral Digging!

Note this post first published online, November 7, 2007, at Desktop Genealogist Blog at The News-Messenger Online

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about U.S. Presidential Elections

Please, please, please tell me that someone out there is every bit the information junkie and statistics geek that I am. If you are out there, do I have a Web site for you!

Dave Leip's Atlas of US Presidential Elections ( has a mountain of statistics on just about anything you ever wanted to know about presidential elections. Not only is he keeping track of polling information for the 2008 race, but also he has state-by-state electoral vote totals from the very first presidential election — all on pretty data-colored maps.

The most challenging part of the Web site has to do with the coloring of those maps. Dave has colored Republicans in blue and Democrats in red. Once you get past that hurdle, everything is easy to read and navigate.

There are certain pieces of information that require a subscription. For instance if you wanted to see which candidate was voted for at the county level you would need to be a subscriber for the 1872 to 1956 election years. But the county-level information from 1960 forward is available for all to see.

This is how I know that Sandusky County has only voted for a democratic presidential candidate twice in that time period. That occurred in 1996, when our county voted for Bill Clinton and in 1964 when we voted for Lyndon Johnson.

Want to know how many times the State of Ohio has voted in presidential elections? Fifty-one times. The very first time was in 1804 when we voted for Thomas Jefferson with our three votes in the Electoral College.

Want to know the most electoral votes the State of Ohio has had? The answer is 26 — in years 1932, 1936, 1940, 1964 and 1968. In the 2004 election, we had 20 electoral votes.

I didn't know until I looked at Dave's Web site that Texas, Mississippi and Virginia did not vote in the 1868 election because they had not yet been readmitted to the Union. Nor did I know that the two major candidates running in the 1920 Presidential Election both called Ohio home. (This was Warren G. Harding and James Cox.)

For these and other tidbits of presidential information, be sure to check out the Web site. Just make sure you have plenty of time when you do. There are all sorts of “doorways” to little treasure troves of information — perfect for a statistics geek like me.

Until Next Time — Happy Ancestral Digging!

PS — Don't forget to vote!

Note this post first published online, November 6, 2007, at Desktop Genealogist Blog at The News-Messenger Online

Monday, November 5, 2007

Reflections on a Blog's Two-Month Anniversary

So yesterday, Nov. 4 was the two-month anniversary for this blog. I wish we had a sound-enabled Web site because you would be hearing one toot of a party horn right about NOW (think A over middle C).

It probably will come as no surprise to anyone that I was not exactly blog literate when I undertook this task. I had an idea, a chance to pitch it, and finally the thumbs up to try it.

I was particularly pleased that the News-Messenger gave the green light for a blogging newbie over the age of 50 to jump into Weblogging waters. And the water, I must say, is just fine.

I want to take the opportunity to thank all of you who have stopped by and read a post or two along the way. I'm grateful for your time. (And to anyone who had a headache after reading my “First cousins, three times removed?” I heartily apologize — MY BRAIN still hurts from that one.)

I also want to thank those of you who take the time to comment. I learn a lot from your posts. Sometimes, your remarks give me direction, and keep me from banging my head on the desk moaning, “What to write, what to write.” (Thanks Dawn, for letting me use your comments in a post — you're a brave one!)

Thanks goes to my editor Eric, who never complains when I send a frantic e-mail — “Change the last sentence!!!!!!” — or something similar. Of course, I suspect that he may mumble something under his breath but hey, you can't hear that kind of thing over the Internet so I remain blissfully unaware.

A big thank you goes to my family for their support and comments. I appreciate that you are all still more or less talking to me. (Cheryl I did read your warning e-mail about going alone to the cemetery to meet with the Michigan and Indiana cousins but it was too late — thanks for worrying. I am meeting another stranger on Thursday, but in a library and my husband has made me promise to ask her if she has any history of ax murdering before I sit down with her.)

Thanks also to my husband, who lucky for me has a sense of humor. He keeps threatening to get his own blog for rebuttal. Man, would I be in TROUBLE.

So here's hoping I'm around for another two months. Where else could I use my favorite new word, nefarious, twice in the same week? (Okay, I promise — I will give nefarious a rest.)

Until Next Time — Happy Ancestral Blogging

Note this post first published online, November 5, 2007, at Desktop Genealogist Blog at The News-Messenger Online

Friday, November 2, 2007

How I Spend My Fridays

I thought you might like to know how I spend my Fridays. I have two very nice bosses (thanks Leslie and Sam) who let me scrunch my workweek into four days so that I can have Fridays free to have a weekly play date with Teddy (the blue bear in the picture) and his friend, my three-year-old grandson.

Teddy actually came to my house when I purchased him 3 years, 2 months and 2 days ago, which happened to be the day that my grandson and I started the first of our weekly play dates. Over the last eight months or so Teddy has been more or less going home with his friend, my grandson, every week.

In fact, Teddy has a much richer life than I do. He has gone to North Carolina on vacation, taken a train trip, gone grocery shopping, been carried up library steps in search of a good book and spent many a morning at a local park or two swinging in the warm sunlight.

I have it on good authority from my daughter-in-law that Teddy is a big bed hog at night and demands more than his share of the bed. The bed in question happens to be her's and my stepson's bed, but gets the occasional nightly visit from Teddy and his young friend.

For a while, the blue bear would even start talking spontaneously — no one being anywhere in his vicinity, saying things like, “Are you sleepy too?” “Tell me a bedtime story.”

The first time these unnatural speeches sounded, I was alone in my house. I heard the noise but I couldn't pin point where it was coming from. When I would go and look for the source — silence. It took me about three days to figure out what was going on. It was my own fault — I had put Teddy in the washing machine, because he had been dropped in the dirt — and well, I'm just saying, talking bears don't belong in washing machines.

When my little buddy and I play cards, Teddy also gets dealt a hand. When I object that Teddy is getting more than his share of cards, my grandson reminds me, “Well, you have to share, Maw T-U.” It's hard to fault that logic.

Teddy also is the subject of all kinds of photographic attempts. My grandson and I “share” grandma's old Sony camera on Fridays. The three year old is fascinated by anything electronic and the Sony, which I've used to record our moments together, has long held an irresistible lure for the boy.

Finally this year, I decided the Sony and the boy were both old enough to take the risk of letting him attempt picture taking. I think the above picture is one of mine, because it was taken before I showed the boy how to zoom in on his subjects, but I can't be certain.

The zoom in feature turned out to be an instant hit. “Awesome!” my young friend proclaimed after he reminded me that, “No, I can do it.” Awesome seems to be a new favorite phrase - caterpillars are awesome, watching ants through the magnifying glass - awesome. I like this much better than the last phrase he was sprinkling in his conversations - “I farted.” Nice!”

Naptime comes right after lunch. “Don't forget Teddy.” I'm always reminded.

Then, “Cover Teddy up.”

“Read to Teddy.” When we read the pigeon books by Mo Williams or “Brown Bear, Brown Bear,” the three year old will “read” the books himself - he loves the page that you yell, “I'M NOT TIRED!” but our naptime book for the last month has been, “My Truck is Stuck,” a book originally found at the library that caused a tearful scene when mean grandma wouldn't let him take it home with him.

He loves the book, and when I say, “You read it to Teddy.” He looks at me with big blue eyes and says, “I can't read.” Like Grandma, who you kiddin' here — read the gosh darn book and quit giving me grief!

So I read, then we snuggle in for a nap. (“Why do we have to take a nap?” “Because Grandma gets cranky if we don't.” Long pause. “Oh.” — subject closed.)

And that, my friends is how I spend my Fridays — no genealogy, no work, no blogging — just lots of Teddy and the grandson to fill up my time.

Until Next Time …

Note this post first published online, November 2, 2007, at Desktop Genealogist Blog at The News-Messenger Online

Thursday, November 1, 2007

First cousins, three times removed?

The other day I featured a death certificate for Edwin J McQuillin, who died in 1913. At the time, I mentioned I was his first cousin, three times removed. Ever wonder exactly what a first cousin three times removed is?

Say your name is Joe and your sister's name is Alice. You and Alice have a sibling relationship. Then you, Joe, get married, and have a son and because you have no imagination, you name your son Joe 1. I know, technically it would be Joe Jr. but in this case, you, Joe, love flaunting convention and name the kid, Joe 1. Alice, who adores her older sibling, decides when she has a daughter, to name her Alice 1 in the same tradition as big brother Joe. Joe 1 and Alice 1 are cousins, or to be more exact, they are FIRST COUSINS.

Joe 1 gets married, and has a son naming him Joe 2. (The family is obviously missing an “originality” gene.) Alice 1 has a daughter, and names her; you guessed it, Alice 2. Joe 2 and Alice 2 are SECOND COUSINS.

Joe 2 marries and has a son, naming him what else, Joe 3. Alice 2 marries and has a daughter that she names Alice 3. Joe 3 and Alice 3 are THIRD COUSINS.

Joe 3 marries and has a daughter, but stuck in family tradition decides to name her Joe 4. Alice 3 also marries and has a daughter, which she names Alice 4. Joe 4 and Alice 4 are FOURTH COUSINS.

Are you still with me?

Okay for those of you who can see the illustration accompanying this blog; you will be able to follow this better than those who cannot. The relationship between Joe 1 and Alice 1 is that of FIRST COUSINS. Joe 1 and Alice 1 are of the same generation. But what is the relationship between Joe 1 and Alice 2 (Alice 1's daughter)?

Joe 1 and Alice 2 are not part of the same generation, but rather, of different generations. In this case, there is a difference of one generation, or they are REMOVED by one generation. That is why Joe 1 and Alice 2 are said to be FIRST COUSINS ONCE REMOVED.

Joe 1 and Alice 3 then would be two generations different or removed, and would be considered FIRST COUSINS TWICE REMOVED.

What would be the relationship between Joe 2 and Alice 3? To determine this, first look to see whom in Alice's family is in the SAME generation as Joe 2 (this is where seeing my little illustration is helpful). The answer is Alice 2. We know from our previous discussion that Joe 2 and Alice 2 are second cousins.

But Joe 2 and Alice 3 are not of the same generation. Alice 3 is one generation removed from being Joe 2's second cousin. In other words, Joe 2 and Alice 3 are SECOND COUSINS ONCE REMOVED.

In the case of Edwin and myself, the generations break down like this. My great-great-grandmother Catherine Good was a sibling of Mary M. Good. Catherine had a son John Perry and Mary's son was Edwin. They were first cousins. John Perry had a daughter, my grandmother, named Katheryne. Edwin had a daughter named Olive. Katheryn and Olive were second cousins.

Katheryne had a daughter, my mom, named Phyllis. Olive had a son named Gay. Phyllis and Gay are third cousins. Phyllis had a daughter named Terry (me!) and Gay had a son named Francis. Francis and I are fourth cousins.

So what is the relationship between Edwin and me? Well you have to go back to Edwin's generation and see who in my family tree was of this same generation. In this case, it was my great-grandfather John Perry Lynch. Edwin and John Perry were FIRST COUSINS. Then it's a matter of counting how many generations that I am removed from Edwin — the answer is three, making Edwin and I FIRST COUSINS THREE TIMES REMOVED.

Don't worry, if you didn't follow all of that. Most genealogy programs have a relationship calculator that will tell you the exact relationship without all that head scratching.

Until Next Time — Happy Ancestral Digging!

Note this post first published online, November 1, 2007, at Desktop Genealogist Blog at The News-Messenger Online

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Halloween — Bah Pumpkin!

The thing is I'm not fond of holidays. By not fond, I mean I really don't like them. And of all the holidays that I really don't like, Halloween tops the list. Okay, before anybody decides I should be strung up to the nearest scarecrow post for such a heretical utterance, you should know that I was an extremely awkward, shy child. It was excruciatingly painful for me to go up to a stranger's door and shout “Trick or Treat” even if the payoff was candy.

Just as painful was admitting to anyone that I felt this way. So every year I dreaded the end of October and the annual obligation to dress up in costume, pretend enjoyment and the ritual eating of those orange, yellow and white corn candies that even today, the smell of which makes me nauseous. I know — strange kid, strange adult.

In my defense, I will say that I GET that everyone else loves this holiday. And I am happy to report that none of my children suffers from this odd non-holiday malady. When my youngest son, age 2, finally figured out that if you went up to the door and held out your bag, you get CANDY, I was excited about his excitement.

All of this is my way of letting you know that I don't have any cool Halloween stories of my own to share. However, by coincidence, this month's Carnival of Genealogy has for its topic “Halloween and the Supernatural.” The carnival is a group of Genealogy bloggers who write on a given topic. This edition of the Carnival is being hosted by Jasia at her blog, “Creative Gene.” To read the 20 or so different blogs related to this edition of the Carnival go to

Until Next Time — Have a Happy (or if you like, Haunted) Halloween

Note this post first published online, October 31, 2007, at Desktop Genealogist Blog at The News-Messenger Online

Death Certificates — Sources of Primary & Secondary Information

Since we were talking about death certificates the other day, it seems like a good time to talk about the type of information you can get from a death certificate. For those of you who can view pictures posted with my blogs, I am posting a copy of Edwin J. McQuillin's death certificate. I downloaded this record from the Missouri Archives Web site. Edwin happens to be my first cousin, three times removed (hmm, sounds like a topic for another post).

A death certificate is a funky little document, in that it can be considered a primary source for some pieces of information and a secondary source for others. A primary source is a document, photocopy, photograph, or written account of an event recorded at the time the event took place or shortly thereafter by a witness to the event. Edwin's death certificate would be a primary source for the following information:

1. Full Name
2. Sex
3. Race or Color
4. Marital Status
5. Occupation
6. Place of Death
7. Date of Death
8. Cause of Death
9. Place of Burial
10. Date of Burial

Because this information was taken shortly after Edwin's death (two days later), it is reasonable to assume the information is accurate. Although a written mistake, a slip of the tongue or a miscommunication could cause an error, in most cases this information is correct.

Secondary sources are those that are not primary sources. In other words, the information given was many months, years or decades after the event. So a death certificate is a secondary source for the following:

1. Date of Birth
2. Age
3. Place of Birth
4. Father's name
5. Father's place of birth
6. Mother's name
7. Mother's place of birth

Secondary information is only as reliable as the person giving the information. In this case, Ada McQuillin is the informant. Ada was Edwin's youngest daughter who was still living at home at the time of his death. A marriage record, census records, and a common pleas court case confirm much of Ada's information. Which brings me to the most important point — it is essential to look at multiple records when reconstructing an individual's life.

Until Next Time — Happy Ancestral Digging!

Certificate of Death: Edwin J. McQuillin, Filed 10 Apr 1913. State of Missouri, Dept. of Health, Bureau of Vital Statistics, Reg. Dist. 400, File No. 13431. Digital Record, Missouri State Archives, Jefferson City, Missouri.

Note this post first published online, October 31, 2007, at Desktop Genealogist Blog at The News-Messenger Online

Monday, October 29, 2007

For Your Viewing Pleasure — Death Certificates Update


In my September 8 post titled, “For Your Viewing Pleasure” (, I listed four states that had death certificate records available online. Add the state of Georgia to that list. On Georgia's archive Web site, you may now search, view and save death certificates dated 1919 to 1927. There are also some death certificates available on the Web site from 1914 to 1918. The Web address for the Georgia death certificates is


The Ohio Historical Society's Web site now offers a link to online ordering of Ohio Death Certificates spanning the years 1909 to 1953. (See
Only those deaths occurring from 1913 through 1944 are indexed and available online, but you may request a death certificate for 1909 to 1912 and 1945 to 1953 as long as you provide all of the following:

1. First Name
2. Last Name
3. Year of Death

AND at least one of the following pieces of information:

1. Month and Day of Death
2. County
3. Certificate #

If they cannot find a close match to the information you have included they will “provide a copy of the original index page showing the names surrounding the name you provided. Your fee covers the cost of this search.”

The cost of online ordering for each death certificate is $7 plus 6.75% sales tax for Ohio residents.

Until Next Time — Happy Ancestral Digging!

Note this post first published online, October 29, 2007, at Desktop Genealogist Blog at The News-Messenger Online

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Pushing Daisies — A Show that Uses Genealogy as a Plot Point!

There are a number of things I would love to comment about but don't. Without some tie into genealogy, family history or even family I bite my tongue, sit on my typing fingers and remain silent. That's why I was delighted to see one of the new fall TV shows use genealogy as a plot point.

Last Wednesday on ABC's “Pushing Daisies” a confederate sword from a Southern Chinese gentleman played a role in the convoluted tale. They even did a flash back to 1863 when Fambing Woo, the great-great-great-grandfather of Wilford Woodard, accidentally becomes a Confederate War Hero taking on the family name of Woodard.

A genealogical plot point is not the norm in network TV. But then the whole concept for “Pushing Daisies” is not the norm. Quirky is the most apt description of the show, and I have a hunch the writers never sat at the cool kids table — heck they probably weren't allowed anywhere near it.

The premise is based on the idea that the hero, Ned, has acquired the ability to bring the dead back to life, once. A second touch by Ned, and they are consigned back to, well, death — forever. If Ned does not touch them a second time within one minute, someone else dies instead.

To complicate matters, a shady detective, Emerson has glommed onto Ned's talents and has blackmailed him into partnering with Emerson to solve murder cases. Easy work when the dead person, brought back to life, tells what happened.

Chuck, whose real name is Charlotte, and who as a young girl captured Ned's heart, is murdered in the show's pilot. When Ned brought her back to life, he couldn't bring himself to touch her again and have her die permanently. Therefore, he and Chuck can never touch and the director of the funeral home, a grave stealing scoundrel, dies instead.

If you have followed all of that, pat yourself on the back.

Chi McBride, who plays the semi-shady detective, Emerson Cod is priceless in the role. He can deliver a sarcastic one-liner with the best of them. His discussion with Ned (Lee Pace) about how to pull up a bandage:

Emerson: “I'm rippin' off the bandage.”

Ned: “I'm not a ripper. I pull up the corner, a little at a time, then I run it under warm water. And pull it up some more. It's a process.”

Emerson: “Better to rip.”

Or Chuck's (Anna Friel) worrying, “Do you think dying has made me morbid?”
A show with snappy dialogue, a genealogical plot point, references to Winnie the Pooh, an Asian American with a soft southern accent, a sword fight — well what more could you ask for in an hour?

Now is where I normally would be encouraging you to tune into this little novelty tonight at 8, but I'm not going to do that. This is an odd little show that takes an offbeat sense of humor (quirky and I are best friends), a suspension of disbelief, and a taste for tongue in cheek It's definitely not everyone's cup of tea.

Instead, I am giving notice to family and friends that Wednesdays from 8 to 9 I won't be answering my phone. I will be cuddled up on my couch, chuckling to myself, hoping enough people are watching to keep the show around for a while.

Until Next Time!

Note this post first published online, October 24, 2007, at Desktop Genealogist Blog at The News-Messenger Online