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