Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Indispensable Technology for the Family Historian

Okay, before we go any further check it out. THIS IS MY HUNDREDTH BLOG POST! Woo-hoo! Par-tay!

And now back to our regularly scheduled program.

Jasia has posed the following topic for our next Carnival of Genealogy:

“The topic for the next edition of the Carnival of Genealogy will be: Technology. What technology do you most rely on for your genealogy and family history research? Select one piece of hardware (besides your computer), one piece of software (besides your internet browser), and one web site/blog (besides your own) that are indispensable to you”

Okay, first let me say that I am an “in the moment” kinda girl. So whatever I give as my answer today might not be the same next month, or next week, or tomorrow.

I'm currently working on a genealogy where everybody LIED! I don't know if they didn't know the truth, or had something to hide, or if there is some kind of cultural going-on that I just am not getting. In any case, I am really fascinated with this family. As I try to unweave all the strands and figure out all the relationships, I have been making handy use of some pretty powerful tools and those are the ones I am going to give my big thumbs up to in this post.

INDISPENSABLE WEBSITE: And the winner is (okay I really wanted to participate in the iGENE awards so humor me here) - ANCESTRY.COM.

Groan if you like, but I went without this little gem of a site for almost a year. Now that I have it back, I am giving it all that pent-up love that it deserves. One of these days, I will make a very lengthy list about all the goodies I have found since my love and I have been reunited, but for my current project, it is MUY BIEN.

I open up on part of my screen, on the other half of my screen and I go from census to Ohio Death Records, working my way through the information and then adding it to my database software, which I have minimized and opened on my laptop. It's efficient and methodical — my logical brain is very impressed. Granted, I am only up to the 1850 census but we are talking a lot of related families here.

INDISPENSABLE HARDWARE: I vote modem, my wonderful cable speed modem. Did I mention I have a wireless router to go with that modem? Downloading all those census files and death record files would be O - H - S - O - S - L - O - W! And with the wireless router, I can sit there with my feet up, and nod companionably at my husband as he works on his own project on his laptop. We are oh so 2008.

INDISPENSABLE SOFTWARE: OK, this one is a little tricky. I have always used Family Tree Maker. I am currently using version 16. Family Tree Maker is familiar, it's comfortable and I have basically been happy with it. However, for this project The Master Genealogist is working extremely well. I've opened up a separate project on TMG and as I work my way through the census and the death records, I add the sources into the database as I add the individuals.

Now my one criticism of TMG is that the learning curve on it is definitely steeper than on FTM. However, I am adding basically just two sources of info, and once I have each source set up in my own persnickety fashion, it isn't that hard to enter. And that's what I like about TMG, its extreme flexibility when it comes to adding sources and citations. I can do it MY WAY, and the control freak in me is very pleased.

So there you have it — the technology that makes my research hum.

Until Next Time — Happy Ancestral Digging!

Note this post first published online, February 27, 2008 at Desktop Genealogist Blog at The News-Messenger Online

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

What Do You Call Your Grandparents?

Randy Seaver of Genea-Musings asked in a recent post “What did you call your grandparents? What did your children call their grandparents? What do your grandchildren call you?” (

I called my paternal grandmother and her husband, my step-grandfather, Gramma and Grampa Dick when I was talking about them and they were not there. Just Gramma and Grampa when we were in person.

My paternal grandfather — we didn't talk about him as a child.

My maternal grandmother — Gramma Hoy — even though her last name by the time I came along was Runion, she was always Gramma Hoy.

My maternal grandfather — I was 10 when Grampa died. He was known as Grampa Hoy.

My own children followed the same custom using the Gramma and Grampa in front of a diminutive form of their grandparent's last name. When they were very young, they called their maternal grandfather, my dad, Papaw Sonie

In our own grandchildren, the older ones call me Grandma Terry and their younger brother calls me Maw T-U. The older grandchildren call Al, Grandpa Al and the little one calls him Papa Al. They call their maternal great grandmother Me-maw and their maternal grandparents Maw and Paw.

And for Randy's benefit, these are all Northwest Ohio families.

So how about the rest of you? Is my family typical or do you have your own customs of what grandparents are called?

Until Next Time — Happy Ancestral Digging!

Note this post first published online, February 26, 2008, at Desktop Genealogist Blog at The News-Messenger Online

Monday, February 25, 2008

The Carnival Came to Town and Other Rants

Terry Thornton posted Friday the round up for his little poetry challenge, which you can read here:

Thanks, guys, for letting me a take a black eye for Northwest Ohio in the poetry category!

Also, the Carnival of Genealogy came to town last week. For this edition of the carnival, the topic was IGENE AWARDS 2007. Each blogger was asked to pick their own favorite post in each of five categories.

Those categories were:

Best Picture
Best Screen Play
Best Documentary
Best Biography
Best Comedy (always my favorite category)

You can read some funny, interesting, touching posts chosen by the bloggers themselves at

Note: Yours truly did not participate in this blog because - well, I don't really have archives to go back and access. The three options I wish my blog had that the other genea-bloggers enjoy are (and in no particular order):

1. ARCHIVES - I mean real honest to goodness archives that could be accessed all year long.

2. AN RSS FEED - Now that's a right purty “Add Feed” button that sits beneath my posts that would make you think you could subscribe to my blog, but alas it's just another pretty button.

3. DIRECT CONTROL OF MY BLOG - Do you know how many times I see my post in actual print and I groan out loud? I wonder why I used that verb, or wow, could I have said that in a MORE awkward manner. Then there is the occasional punctuation error (have I mentioned that I am punctuationally and grammatically challenged?). When those little errors creep into my post I have to send an exclamation marked e-mail to the editor or just suck it up and leave it as it is. Neither appeals to me. I just want to be able to go in and FIX IT!

All righty then - now that I've gotten that off my chest, you all have yourselves a nice day. (Oh, and you just know that I'm definitely going to want to go in and change that last sentence!)

Until Next Time - Happy Ancestral Digging!

Note this post first published online, February 25, 2008, at Desktop Genealogist Blog at The News-Messenger Online

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Squawkers and other regionalisms

I was talking to a lady in Pennsylvania the other day and I was asking about her family’s roofing business. She stopped dead in her tracks and said suspiciously, “Are you from Wisconsin?”

Of course, I’m not from Wisconsin. Except for a brief stint in West Virginia during my freshman year of college, I’ve lived in Northwest Ohio all of my life. I’m not bragging, I’m just saying.

She told me I said the word “roof” just as her Wisconsin cousins did which according to her was wrong, wrong, wrong. I had said the “oo” in roof like someone saying the word "foot." She said the sound “oo” like some saying the word "boo." It’s not the first time I’ve been taken to task by a Pennsylvanian on how I said the word roof. A tax teacher, a transplant from Pennsylvania, told me that we locals also say the word “wolf” incorrectly. Our wolf rhymes with our roof, and their wolf rhymes with their roof. Big deal, right?

I looked the words up in the dictionary, and it turns out their way of pronouncing those words is the preferred way, but our way is listed in the dictionary as well. So take that Pennsylvania!

I began to think about other regionalisms that we might have. The biggie that I came up with is one that most of us will deny doing, but if we aren’t thinking about it, we do it anyway. Simply put, instead of saying Washington, we add an “r” so it comes out Warshington. I was in sixth grade before someone pointed this extra “r” out to me. We also “warsh” our hands, dishes, and clothing.

People who don’t add the “r” get all creeped out by this and take on an oh so superior attitude on this. (See Like saying, Washington without an “R” adds sixty IQ points automatically. Whatever!

Most of us also say the word “aunt” the same way we say the word for the little bug that you squish between your fingers with a Kleenex if you find one in your house, and WARSH out all the cupboards and then spray insecticide if you find more.

Locally we say the word “creek” two different ways. Some of us say the word so that it rhymes with leak, while others say the word so that it rhymes with brick. I’m not sure which way I say it. I think I do it both ways – I don’t like to be too predictable.

Many of us call the little maple seedlings that blow all over during the spring “squawkers.” It was such a common term with all the people I grew up with that I was startled when I mentioned the word while working in another county and they looked at me as if I was crazy. I was insistent that they needed to look it up in the dictionary. They did. To my chagrin, it wasn’t there.

Why “squawkers” you ask? Because when you pick them up off the ground, put them in your mouth, and blow on them, they make a squawking sound. Okay, put like that I can see why people looked at me incredulously. You know what those people in the other county called them, helicopters. Helicopters? At least we get points for originality.

If often takes outsiders to show you what your regionalisms are. If you think of any more oddball things that we do in this neck of the woods, please share. You know how odd things appeal to me.

Until Next Time – Happy Ancestral Digging!

Note this post first published online, February 21, 2008, at Desktop Genealogist Blog at The News-Messenger Online

Confessions of a Three Year Old Descendent

Papa Al is cwazy,” the three-year-old whispers to me just loud enough for his grandfather in the front seat to hear.

Hey!” his grandfather says loudly with mock sternness. This starts a giggle fest with the boy in the back seat.

I can’t stop waughing,” he tells me between gasps. “When I keep waughing I get da hiccups and den I frow up!

Um … Papa Al … consider yourself WARNED!

Note this post first published online, February 21, 2008, at Desktop Genealogist Blog at The News-Messenger Online

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

A Question of Race: The U.S. Census - Part 2

Note that the 1930 and 1940 instructions are written in the past tense. All other instructions are given in present tense, indicating that the 1930 and 1940 directions may be a summarization instead of the actual instructions.

1890 census

Whether white, black, mulatto, quadroon, octoroon, Chinese, Japanese, or Indian.

Write white, black, mulatto, quadroon, octoroon, Chinese, Japanese or Indian, according to the color or race of the person enumerated. Be particularly careful to distinguish between blacks, mulattoes, quadroon, and octoroons. The word “black” should be used to describe those persons who have three-fourths or more black blood; “mulatto,” those persons who have from three-eighths to five-eights black blood; “quadroon,” those persons who have one-fourth black blood; and “octoroon,” those persons who have one-eighth or any trace of black blood.

1900 census

Write “W” for white; B for black (negro or negro descent); Ch for Chinese; Jp for Japanese, and In for Indian, as the case may be.

1910 and 1920 census

Write W for white; B for black; Mu for mulatto; Ch for Chinese; Jp for Japanese; In for Indian. For all persons not falling within one of these classes, write OT (for other), and write on the left-hand margin of the schedule the race of the person so indicated.

For census purposes, the term black (B) includes all person who are evidently full blooded negroes, while the term “mulatto” (Mu) includes all other persons having some proportion or perceptible trace of negro blood

1930 census

A person of mixed White and Negro blood was to be returned as Negro, no matter how small the percentage of Negro blood; someone part Indian and part Negro also was to be listed as Negro unless the Indian blood predominated and the person was generally accepted as an Indian in the community.

A person of mixed White and Indian blood was to be returned as an Indian, except where the percentage of Indian blood was very small or where he or she was regarded as White in the community. For persons reported as American Indian in column 12 (color or race), columns 19 and 20 were to be used to indicate the degree of Indian blood and the tribe, instead of the birthplace of the father and mother.

In order to obtain separate figures for Mexicans, it was decided that all persons born in Mexico, or having parents born in Mexico, who were not definitely White, Negro, Indian, Chinese, or Japanese, would be returned as Mexicans (Mex).

Any mixture of White and some other race was to be reported according to the race of the parent who was not white; mixtures of colored races were to be listed according to the father's race, except Negro-Indian (discussed above).

1940 census

All of the same procedures as in 1930 but “With regard to race, the only change from 1930 was that Mexicans were to be listed as White unless they were definitely Indian or some race other than White.”

It's tempting to conclude that our national obsession with race has been fueled in part by the government's obsession with classifying each of us into the appropriate category, all in the name of science and economics. It's also possible that the government has acted as a mirror for what was happening in society at large at any given time. So which came first — the chicken or the egg?

Until Next Time!

Note this post first published online, February 20, 2008, at Desktop Genealogist Blog at The News-Messenger Online

“The Color Line in Ohio,” Frank U. Quillan, PH.D., (Quillan's Thesis for the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor) 1913.
United States Census Bureau, “Measuring America: The Decennial Censuses From 1790 to 2000,” 2002.
“The Seventh Census of the United States: 1850,” J.D.B. DeBow, Superintendent of the United States Census, 1853
1830 US Fed Census, Ohio, Ross County, Chillicothe, Vincent Curtis, HOH
1840 US Fed Cen, Ohio, Sandusky County, Lower Sandusky, Vincent Curtice, HOH
1850 US Fed Cen, Ohio, Sandusky County, Rice, Vincent Curtis, HOH, Visit 1538.
1860 US Fed Cen, Ohio, Sandusky, Fremont, Thomas Reese, HOH, Visit 96.
1870 US Fed Cen, Ohio, Sandusky, Fremont, Thomas G. Reese, HOH, Visit 133.
1880 US Fed Cen, Ohio, Sandusky, Sandusky Twp, Thomas Reese, HOH, Visit 50.
1900 US Fed Cen, Ohio, Sandusky, Fremont, T.G. Reese, HOH, Visit 151.
1910 US Fed Cen, Ohio, Sandusky, Fremont, T.G. Reese, HOH, Visit 48.
State of Ohio, Bureau of Vital Statistics, Death Certificate, Thomas G. Reese, File 50507

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

A Question of Race: The U.S. Census - Part 1

Roy Wilhelm wrote a newspaper column the other day called “Slavery Brought Blacks to Area.”

It was a nice piece and I enjoyed reading it. I love a good historical story and I was particularly interested in the first African-American born in Sandusky County, Mary Jane Curtis. According to Wilhelm, Curtis was born Oct. 2, 1833. Her husband Thomas George Reese voted in 1867 which was three years prior to the 15th Amendment being ratified.

The genealogist in me couldn't resist taking a couple quick peeks at the couple in the U.S. Census, so I logged onto and found Mary J. Curtis listed with her parents in the 1850 census. They were living in Rice Township, family number 1538.

Vincent Curtis Age 47
Jane Curtis Age 46
Charles Curtis Age 23
Mary J. Curtis Age 16
Ellen L. Curtis Age 15
William E. Curtis Age 8
Peter Thompson Age 7

Vincent was listed as a farmer and his birthplace given as Delaware. His wife, Jane, was born in Pennsylvania. When I searched for them in Sandusky County in the 1840 census, the family was indeed living in Sandusky County but the last name was spelled “Curtice.”

They were not living in Sandusky County for the 1830 census, but a Vincent Curtis of the correct age and listed under “Free Colored Persons” was found living in Chillicothe, Ohio. I could not locate the family prior to 1830.

Thomas George Reese is not found in any census until he shows up in the 1860 census in Sandusky County as a barber. Thomas was born in Mississippi and though I looked for him in the 1850 enumeration, I was unable to find him. For the record, in the 1850 census Mississippi enumerated 295,718 whites, 930 “free colored” and 309,878 slaves.

Mary Jane and her family were listed as mulattoes in the 1850 census, she and Thomas were both listed as such in the 1860 and 1870 census. In the 1880 census, and thereafter until Thomas's death on September 13, 1911 the family is listed as black. (The death certificate, however gives the race as mulatto.)

The mulatto status was important distinction because two separate cases before the Ohio Supreme Court in 1842 held that if a man was more than 50 percent white and less than 50 percent black, he was considered white and therefore had the right to vote in Ohio. This was repealed in 1859 by a statute that held in part, “That the judge or judges of any election … shall reject the vote of any person offering to vote at such elections, and claiming to be a white male citizen of the United States, whenever it shall appear to such judge or judges that the person so offering to vote has a distinct and visible admixture of African blood.” This statute is what makes Thomas Reese's vote in 1867 an impressive occurrence in the state of Ohio.

The whole mulatto/black issue made me wonder about the criteria for enumerating race. Below are the instructions given to the enumerators for each census 1850 through 1880.

1850 and 1860 census
Under heading 6, “Color,” in all cases where the person is white, leave the space blank; In all cases where the person is black, insert the letter B; If mulatto, insert M. It is very desirable that these particulars be carefully regarded.

1870 census
“Indians not taxed” are not to be enumerated on schedule 1. Indians out of their tribal relations, and exercising the rights of citizens under state or Territorial laws, will be included. In all cases, write “Ind.” in the column for “Color.” Although no provision is made for the enumeration of “Indians not taxed,” it is highly desirable, for statistical purposes, that the number of such persons not living upon reservations should be known.

It must not be assumed that, where nothing is written in this column, “White” is to be understood. The column is always to be filled. Be particularly careful in reporting the class Mulatto. The word is here generic, and includes quadroons, octoroons, and all persons having any perceptible trace of African blood. Important scientific results depend upon the correct determination of this case in schedules 1 and 2.

1880 census
By the phrase “Indians not taxed” is meant Indians living on reservations under the care of Government agents, or roaming individually, or in bands, over unsettled tracts of country. Indians not in tribal relations, whether full-bloods or half-breeds, who are found mingled with the white population, residing in white families, engaged as servants or living in huts or wigwams on the outskirts of towns or settlements are to be regarded as a part of the ordinary population of the country for the constitutional purpose of the apportionment of Representatives among the states, and are to be embraced in the enumeration.

It must not be assumed that where nothing is written in this column “white” is to be understood. The column is always to be filled. Be particularly careful in reporting the class mulatto. The word is here generic, and includes quadroons, octoroons, and all persons having any perceptible trace of African blood. Important scientific results dup upon the correct determination of this class schedules 1 and 5.

Tomorrow's post will have the instructions for enumerators of the 1890 through 1940 census.

Until Next Time!

Note this post first published online, February 19, 2008, at Desktop Genealogist Blog at The News-Messenger Online

Saturday, February 16, 2008

OK, Northwest Ohio, where are your poems?

Okay, Northwest Ohio - WHERE ARE YOUR POEMS???? I can only conclude that:

1. People who read this blog are poetically challenged.
2. The subject of the poem (genealogy blogs) left you cold.
3. You were way too busy to bother with something so silly.
4. You're shy.

I don't know which one of the above, but you forced me to twist the arm of a loved one so I could have a poem to put in this blog today. The person who wrote this wanted to remain nameless and signed it “your sad uncreative parent.” (Definitely NOT true.)
The nameless person said I could “feel free to tweak this, destroy, burn or any mode of destruction you wish.” I love it — would-be poets are so apologetic.

To write a poem with rules so just
Makes one's attempt a royal bust
It takes some thought and some trust
Putting ancestry and history to a test
And weave a story together at best
Makes rhyme, reason, and research a must.

I love you, nameless uncreative parent. I'm not sure if you saved Northwest Ohio's honor but your poetic skills are definitely several notches above those of your your poetically challenged daughter!

My friend Terry Thornton also took pity on me and gave me these two beauties. As he correctly points out, “I should have points given for even attempting to rhyme kisser.”
So true, Terry — there is something heroic (?) in that effort.

At the desktop sits Ohio Terry,
Writing, blogging often weary,
Genealogy tomes never blurry —
A quick post of the blog
A quick walk of the dog . . .
Writing never in a hurry.

Says the Ohio Desktop, "I'm a kisser!
As a car hop, I was a spiller
Which ruined many a'tipper.
Serving root beer
to any old dear. . ."
Got her to genealogy, she's a winner.

I love it! Thanks Mississippi Terry — I'm framing these babies!

This concludes our little poetry challenge. I bet you're just kicking yourself for not playing. Let’s never speak of this again. No really, I mean NEVER!

Until Next Time!

Note this post first published online, February 16, 2008, at Desktop Genealogist Blog at The News-Messenger Online

Friday, February 15, 2008

A Sunday with Sandusky County Kin Hunters

One of the perks of doing an online blog for the local newspaper is that I have gotten to know some really nice folks. One of those nice people is my new friend, Phyllis (Hi Phyllis!), who belongs to the Sandusky County Kin Hunters, which is the local chapter of The Ohio Genealogical Society. They meet at 2 p.m. the second Sunday of every month (except December) at the Sandusky Township Hall on Oak Harbor Road.

Phyllis invited me to meet her at the township hall on Sunday to attend the February meeting. I have to admit it was nice going to the meeting knowing that I would have a friendly face to greet me. It’s not easy walking into a strange place where you don’t know a soul. I bet some of you feel that way too. Not to worry. As it turns out, the Kin Hunters are all friendly people, and they make you feel right at home.

Their speaker was John Tate, who talked about using various records to fill out a family group sheet. John kept the discussion lively and interesting (translation – John is knowledgeable and even better, he has a wicked sense of humor, just my kind of guy!). He will return in March when he will lead the group in a question and answer session. Members and guests can bring in their questions, and hopefully, John or someone in the group will have faced a similar challenge and have the answer. The March meeting should spawn some interesting discussions! That meeting will be March 9.

The cost of an annual membership to the Kin Hunters is $10 for an individual and $12 for two people with the same address. A student membership is $8. All dues are paid for the calendar year. If you are interested in knowing more about the Sandusky County Kin Hunters, you can stop by their Web site at

I walked into the meeting with just a pen and a notebook, and I walked out with an arm full of old Kith and Kin newsletters, a bunch of notes, an old picture (thanks Bob), and I hope, some new friends. Thanks guys!

Until Next Time – Happy Ancestral Digging

Note this post first published online, February 15,2008, at Desktop Genealogist Blog at The News-Messenger Online

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Some neat ways to waste time

As usual, I am way behind on mentioning some interesting blog posts. Today I am going to be very bad and give you a heads up on some posts that are guaranteed to have you lose track of time and exclaim, “Whoa, I haven’t got a darn thing done!” You can thank me later.

Sometimes you already know about a fabulous website but for whatever reason you simply forget about its existence. Lee Drew of “FamHist Blog,” recently reminded me of this with Lee’s recent blog post of February 3 entitled, “Zoom, Write and Learn” ( In the post, Lee talks about both Google Earth and Microsoft’s Live Search Maps. I admit I had visited the Google Earth website a year or so ago, and then just forgot about it. I’ve spent the last week zooming in on my house, a company I work with in Baltimore, the Outer Banks, the St. Louis Arch, my friend KC’s house in California and just about any other place that came to mind.

The coolest place I visited was Budowo, Poland where my great-grandparents were both baptized. I now know that they were about an hour away from the Baltic Sea, and close to four hours away from Berlin. This might not be tops on your list of need to know things, but they have been the subject of an ongoing discussion between dad and I. Hey Dad, Budow was a lot farther than we thought from Berlin.

Even better, on Google Earth ( they had pictures loaded onto the website, and by clicking on a specific icon, I could see the countryside where my great grandparents grew up. Google Earth and Live Search Maps ( both get thumbs up from me. Thanks Lee for the nifty reminder.

Okay if you managed not to waste time on that one, here’s one that will get you daydreaming. The premise was proposed by Robert Ragan, “What would you do if an Eccentric Rich Old Uncle offered You a Million Dollars to Do Your Family’s Genealogy Research?” ( Well two bloggers answered that question themselves. Schelly Talalay Dardashti of “Tracing the Tribe” answered the question here: I loved Schelly’s answer. “Well, I’ll assume I could use some of the million to pay household bills …while I’m traveling the world for research.” I laughed aloud when I read that because it was the first thing I thought of too.

However, I was most intrigued by the answer of Becky Wiseman at “Kinexxions.” Becky had this all thought out, right down to hiring a driver for her newly decked out motor home. (One suggestion though, Becky, make it a masseur/driver position. That way if you get a knotted up neck from all that traveling, he/she can take care of that too. Just a suggestion.)

I also noticed that many of the places Becky wants to visit are the same places I’d like to go. So Becky, if I promise to be good, would you consider swinging on by my house on your way to Virginia? How ‘bout it Becky? (Does anybody know- does Becky take cookies or brownies for bribes?)

Okay, you’re all daydreaming about the million aren’t you? You can read all of Becky’s details here:

“The GenLady” has posted her “Where Were You” Carnival on the census, which you can read at Her next topic for the Where Were You carnival is where were your ancestors during the Great Depression. Hmm – I’m already thinking.

Finally, last weekend Terry Thornton put together a “Harvest from the Blog Garden” He had a baker’s dozen, and I confess I whiled away one whole Saturday afternoon. Each post was different from the other, and all were satisfying. Okay, I know people always say that, but you have to go check these out. Not only did he link these posts, but he also included each of the blog banners. This was a mighty pretty post, Terry.

Feel free to have your family and friends drop me an irate note asking me what I was thinking when I gave you these fine time stealers. Enjoy!

Until Next Time – Happy Ancestral Digging!

Note this post first published online, February 14,2008, at Desktop Genealogist Blog at The News-Messenger Online

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

A poetry challenge: Terry Thornton's Incredible Throw-Down

Okay, so maybe incredible poetry throw-down is overselling it a bit. But how many times does a 54-year-old grandma get to participate in a throw-down?

My good friend, Terry Thornton, of “Hill Country of Monroe County, Mississippi” ( has issued a challenge:

“RULES: Each Genea-Blogger or H.O.G.S Blogger may submit no more than three original poems about their blog. Any BLOG READER may submit ONE poem in the comments section of his/her favorite genea-blog.

Each of the poems must be along the lines of a limerick (naughty is permissible but raunchy is not!) which follows the general rule for limerick writing.

Six lines - the first three lines must end in rhyming words, the fourth and fifth line must rhyme and the sixth line must rhyme with the first three.

Here is the general rhyming scheme to follow. AAABBA.”

Leave it to Terry to make up his own type of poetry, calling these “BLOG SESTETS.” He later said that he would also allow a traditional type limerick. So, of course, I can't let a good challenge pass me by. Unfortunately, hello, I was a business major and poetic mastery was not a discipline that I explored. In other words, I'm really bad at this.

I didn't realize how bad until I read Al my sestet and he actually grimaced.

“What, I shouldn't put this on my blog?” I asked noting the pained look on his face.

“No, its, ah, fine.”

Liar, he just didn't want me mentioning him in the blog, and he has learned to say as little as possible when I talk “blog speak.”

So, since you the reader can also play, I am hoping that some of you will submit your poems by 9:30 p.m. Thursday in the comments section of my blog, and I will post any and all on Friday, and then give the link to the poet master, Mr. Thornton. Whaddaya say? Help a girl out and save the honor of Northwest Ohio's poetic skills. You are about to see why they need saving:

First, my attempt at a limerick:

A purveyor of words am I.
Into ancestors lives I pry.
As their stories unfold,
My own truth is told
'Tis Death that I seek to defy

Wait, it gets worse!

My attempt at a “Terry Thornton sestet:”

A genealogy blogger am I.
Not a poet, I won't even try.
Historical truths are my high.
So readers respond to this lure.
Save our honor as poets for sure
'Cause my skills would make a bard cry!

Okay, see what I mean. HELP!

Until Next Time!

Note this post first published online, February 12, 2008, at Desktop Genealogist Blog at The News-Messenger Online

Monday, February 11, 2008

So Long, Farewell, Auf wiedersehen, Adieu

Eric, our intrepid editor, who for me has been THE FACE of the News-Messenger, has deserted his “bloglings” to head north to pursue personal and professional opportunities yadda yadda.

Like most of the other genea-bloggers on the Internet, I blog for the pure joy of it – although the joy is a little forced some days. And like the majority of my colleagues, I don’t get paid for the privilege of inflicting my sometimes skewed view of the world and genealogy on an unsuspecting public. But unlike the others, I had Eric, our editor, to share some of the little victories that this experiment of ours has spawned.

“Hey, our blog was mentioned on so and so’s blog,” I would email him, or “I was quoted” exclamation marks abounding – pretty heady stuff for a newbie blogger.
Though he would sometimes change my titles, Eric always knew which ones not to touch. And although he would occasionally correct a grammar or punctuation error, he never once changed or rearranged my words.

In one of my posts, I mentioned in passing that the editor might be mumbling under his breath over some of my antics. When the confirming email arrived letting me know that the post had been received it also contained the message “Only a few words under my breath this morning.” Don’t you love an editor with a sense of humor?

So I hope, dear reader, you won’t mind if I use today’s post to say a public “Thank you” to my friend Eric. Thanks E for all your encouragement and help. I’m gonna miss you, and I know that even though I can be a big PAIN, you’ll miss me and my little emails too. (I’ll betcha there is a manila folder with my name on it and the words CONTROL FREAK scrawled across it.)

The other bloggers and I have been left in the very capable hands of the assistant local desk editor who is probably wondering what terrible thing he did to deserve this fate. Don’t tell him, but I have Eric’s permission to torture him – okay, not exactly permission but close enough.

So best of luck Eric and - so long, farewell, auf wiedersehen, adieu! (Now aren’t you sorry I can’t embed sound files?)

Until Next Time!

Note this post first published online,February 11, 2008, at Desktop Genealogist Blog at The News-Messenger Online

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Where were you?

The GenLady has asked the question — Where were you during each of the U.S. Censuses?

U.S. CENSUS 1960

I turned 7 years old on the official day of the census in 1960. I don't know what possessed the government to make April Fool's Day the official census day, but with me, it was just a matter of being late, as usual. You might say I “fooled around” until 18 minutes after midnight before deciding to make my first appearance into the world. My birthday and the official census have been linked ever since.

My family lived in Fremont, Ohio, which is where you will find me each and every census. It was just my sister and I along with our parents. I was a first-grader at Hayes School. The first grade happened to be the year, and I might point out, the only year, that I threw up in front of the entire class. I had warned my teacher that I couldn't drink that whole bottle of milk, and I guess I proved my point. All of you did want to hear my throwing up story, right?

Oh, and first grade was the year of my first mutual kiss, behind the bushes on the corner of June and Whittlesey streets. I'm not counting the kiss I was given by a certain someone in kindergarten, as we lay on our nap rugs, because 1. I was HORRIFIED and 2. Some little goodie two shoes tried to tell the teacher about it and I was DOUBLE HORRIFIED that I might actually get into trouble for something that wasn't my fault, unless of course, my being irresistible was considered a fault. You will be relieved to know that my promiscuity peaked along with my popularity in first grade.

U.S. CENSUS 1970

I turned 17, and of course, I knew everything. And I mean everything. I loved my parents but they were “square.” My siblings, two more had been added, were annoying.

In that junior year of high school, my plan involved going to college to become an elementary school teacher and/or maybe saving the world. Important stuff to be sure, but my main goal in life that year was to have sleek, long straight hair ala Cher. I tried letting my hair dry naturally (as opposed to sitting under a bonnet dryer), rolling my hair into one huge jumbo roller on the top of my head, and ironing my hair — with an iron and an ironing board. If you think laying your head on an ironing board and ironing your hair yourself is easy, I suggest you try it. Thank goodness, it didn't work, or back surgery would have probably figured big in any future plans.

The summer of that year, I had my first non-babysitting job. I worked as a carhop at the A&W Root Beer stand. I got off to a rocky start when I spilled Black Cow down the side of one hapless customer's car. After that, things went well and I made good tips, on top of the whopping $.75 an hour that the job paid. I managed to save over $200 that summer, which my dad made sure, was deposited into the Credit Union — fiscal irresponsibility being akin to a deadly sin in my family.

U.S. CENSUS 1980

The 1980 census found me turning 27, married, with three children aged, 7, 3 and 1. A stay-at-home mother, those years are one long blur. I enjoyed being a mom, but the days went by too fast, and there were never enough hours in a day. I looked longingly at women who went to work and had an identity outside of mom. I didn't realize that they still had to take care of sick kids, buy groceries, run errands, wash clothes, pay bills and try to figure out how to stretch a dollar, IN ADDITION, to holding down a job and keeping another whole group of people happy. The grass is always greener, right?

U.S. CENSUS 1990

In the 1990 census, we received the long form to fill out. I was really ticked at the time, because it was a pain to fill it all out. Al and I had been married less than a year, and all six of our children were living with us at the time. Between the two of us, we had six children, 5 boys and 1 girl, aged 10 to 17. We never had a table big enough to seat all of us at the same time, and in fact, the very first meal we had together was predictably noisy and chaotic. I had just doled out the last of the spaghetti, when the youngest one ran in the back door announcing, “I'm here!” Al and I looked at each other horrified. In all the confusion, neither one of us had realized that one of our little chickadees was missing. Oh yeah, we were going to be GREAT at this blended family thing!

We still shake our head at those years with the whole crew. We always say
1. You have to truly love and like your partner to survive the stresses of a blended family. And,

U.S. CENSUS 2000

By this census, I was 47 years old and living in the country, half way between Fremont and Clyde, just my favorite fellow and me. I drove 45 minutes one way to work every day, and I would amuse myself by calculating how many weeks of my life I was spending on the road in a year. Ah, good times!

I was working at a bank and my friend, a loan officer who shall remain nameless and shameless, pulled me into a corner the day of my birthday and said in a James Bond fashion, “Do you have your purse with you today?”

My crazy nameless loan officer friend had me go get the purse. Then looking both ways and over her shoulders to make sure the coast was clear, she grabbed something out of her purse and shoved it into mine.

I looked down, and saw what I would later learn was a Mike's Hard Lemonade. She had brought it for me as a birthday present. Mike and I have been good buddies ever since. Ah, Carole, I mean Nameless, I miss you!

That's what I was doing during each census. How about you?

Until Next Time — Happy Ancestral Digging!

Note this post first published online, February 6, 2008, at Desktop Genealogist Blog at The News-Messenger Online

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Carnival of Genealogy has arrived

The Carnival of Genealogy is in town! There are 32 entries for this edition of Carnival. I haven’t had a chance to read all of them yet (there were 32, after all), but you will find a variety of responses to the question: If you could have dinner with four of your ancestors who would they be and why? Some are guaranteed to make you laugh, some will make your mouth water, and some will make you think.

Jasia, as usual, has played the gracious hostess, and gave a brief synopsis of each of the entries. You can find the links to each at Jasia's Creative Gene:

So which four of YOUR ancestors would you have to dinner and why?

Until Next Time – Happy Ancestral Digging!

Note this post first published online, February 5, 2008, at Desktop Genealogist Blog at The News-Messenger Online

Monday, February 4, 2008

Genealogy TV

Are you the kind of person who likes going to lectures on genealogy? Have you ever wished for family history programs to be available on TV? Well, since late 2006, Roots Television has been available for viewing on the Internet. The best part? Most of the videos are absolutely free!

Posting about Roots Television has been on my “to do” list for quite a while, but like everything else lately, my intentions are good, but my follow through, not so much. Four, count them, four posts within the last week have tie-ins with this subject.

First, Randy Seavers of Genea-Musings ( posted “Genealogy video workshop survey” which talks about his participation in a Family Tree Magazine survey on the subject of Genealogy video workshops. Though the Roots Television videos themselves are not interactive, they are instructional and the survey itself raises some interesting questions and possibilities.

Randy's previous post, “Tracing Immigrant Origins” ( gives links to some wonderful FREE lessons on I know that some of you have expressed an interest in researching your immigrant ancestors, so you will want to check out Randy's post. By coincidence, one of the Roots Television videos that I liked is from the Ancestors Series and is titled, “Immigration Records.”

Another video that I am spotlighting below is a two-part video also of the Ancestors Series, “African American Research.” In part two, Tony Burroughs is interviewed about the subject. According to Wally Huskonen of Ohio Genealogy Blog (, Mr. Burroughs will be conducting a seminar on February 9 at the Sandusky Library Program Room. The program will run from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. For more information about the seminar and registration, see the Sandusky Library's own blog, and post at Small world isn't it?

Below are links to just 10 of Roots Television's videos. These are just a sample of what is available and were chosen to given you a taste of the diversity of topics.

1. “Allen County Public Library: Genealogy Center”
If you are planning a trip to the Allen County Public Library, this is a must see.
Two parts - 9 min 18 sec, 7 min 31 sec

2. “Ancestor Series: Immigration Records”
One part - 24 min 27 sec

3. “Ancestor Series: Probate Records”
I like this particular video because it also stresses the importance of land records along with the probate records
One part - 24 min 24 sec

4. “Ancestor Series: African American Research”
This is the video that includes an interview with Tony Burroughs who will be speaking this coming weekend at the Sandusky Library.
Two parts - 11 min 8 sec, 13 min 08

5. “Ancestor Series: Military Records”
Four parts - 4 min 8 sec, 7 min 17 sec, 7 min 22 sec, 5 min 41 sec

6. “DNA and Your Roots by Gina Paige”
While this video pertains to African American DNA, Gina uses diagrams to explain Y-DNA testing and Mitochondrial DNA testing in such a way that even I finally was able to say, “Oh, I get it!” and really mean it. Plus, Gina's perky personality is fun to watch.
One part - 38 min, 17 sec

7. “Using the Grid for Easier Photo Restoration: A tutorial for Adobe Photo Shop and Adobe Shop Element”
One part - 3 min, 16 sec

8. “The Socks to America”
Who says genealogists don't have a sense of humor!
One part - 3 min, 8 sec

9. “Research Process”
Twenty-six parts!

10. “Roots Book Series: Finding Your Hispanic Roots with George Ryskamp”
After watching this video, I wish I had Hispanic roots! George Ryskamp gives some excellent tips on researching your Hispanic heritage.
Four parts - 8 min 7 sec, 7 min 32 sec, 9 min 17 sec, 2 min 35 sec

Until Next Time — Happy Ancestral Digging!

Note this post first published online, February 4, 2008, at Desktop Genealogist Blog at The News-Messenger Online

Friday, February 1, 2008

Web sites to check out

Aaarrrggh!!!!! How in the world did it get to be February already? I'm feeling a little cheesy (do people still say that?) because it's been a while since I posted any links to other interesting blogs and posts that I have seen on the Internet.

For the record, if I ever let you down again, make sure you head on over to Randy Seaver's Genea-Musings (you do read Randy every day, right?) and check out his best of the week's post that he usually runs Mondays or Tuesdays. This week's entry ( mentions Kimberly Powell's post at entitled “10 Top Web Sites for African-American Genealogy” ( which I had tapped as a must read also. Funny, I had actually just visited three of the Web sites she mentions in her post. Great minds?

As promised, Denise Olsen of “Family Matters” talks more about what a Skype account can do for the family genealogist — and anyone else who might be interested in talking with up to 10 people at once. Check this out at her post at I want some time to play around with this one.

OK, this is an older post, going back to December 31, but I like it so much, I am printing it out and hanging it on my bulletin board as a reminder. On Juliana's “24/7 Family History Circle,” she posted “Avoiding Assumptions” by Michael John Neill at I won't tell you how many of these assumptions I would have to plead guilty to in the past, but I'm betting some of you will be shaking your heads in agreement when you read what Mr. Neill has to say. Good stuff!

My friend, Terry Thornton, of “Hill Country of Monroe County, Mississippi” had a good week last week. It seems he broke an existing record for the number of readers and number of pages read in one day, which he blogged about of course, You probably realize that I love a good Civil War story, and Terry linked us to two of them on his Martin Luther King Day post, “Hill Country Unionism: Civil War Revisited”

OK, I don't usually do this, but there's a really good piece that Thomas MacEntee wrote for the 41st Edition of the Carnival of Genealogy. I know. I know. I should wait until the Carnival is posted. But this entry is funny, it's touching and I loved it! If you don't want to wait until the Carnival either, you can read it here at “Destination: Austin Family,” Thomas really writes some great pieces. He's on my must read list for sure.

Finally, I wanted to mention two local blogs that you should stop in and give a read.
If, like most genealogists you also have a love of history, you will be interested in knowing that Sandusky Library Archives Research Center and Follett House Museum has a blog ( devoted to Sandusky and Erie County History. Showcasing the material of their local history collections, the blog is rich in historical content. I have to admit I'm a little jealous of those working in a place with such an abundance of interesting treasures — it must be like having Christmas every day! (Thanks Dorene for the nice note and the link!)

The last blog that I want to mention is Derek Davey's “Genealogy — Northwest Ohio.” Derek brings a lot of meat to the topic of Northwestern Ohio research. He has posted information helpful to researchers in various counties of Northwest, Ohio. He did a series of recent posts, for example, on resources in Williams County. He also, check this out, takes brick wall problems from readers, researches them and then posts his results, usually on his Saturday postings. If you have a brick wall you'd like some advice on, Mr. Davey is your man. You can read his blog at He also has blogs for northeast Ohio and southeast Michigan.

As usual, there is more than enough good reading to go around.

Until Next Time — Happy Ancestral Digging!

Note this post first published online, February 1, 2008, at Desktop Genealogist Blog at The News-Messenger Online