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