When I learned about the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), and more specifically their useful online databases for genealogy, I discovered that my patriot ancestor was “red lined.” Being “red-lined” means there is something about the applications previously entered that needed more work before someone new could come in under that ancestor. In my guy’s case, the only application submitted was from so long ago that the document and proof requirements weren’t as strict. And so one of my genealogical goals was to fix that. Which I finally did (with the help of a DAR friend). I am a member of the DAR under my ancestor Samuel Dimmick (A032219).
My grandmother, Margaret (Dimick) Miller, is also in his direct line and so this year I got her into the DAR as well. At my local chapter’s DAR meeting, was asked to share three things about my grandmother and these are the top three things that come to mind.
First, she was such a hard-working farmer’s wife. She plowed, planted, and combined with the best of them! She drove tractors, farm trucks, lifted heavy stuff, and all the while being a wife and mother as well.
Second, she loved us with her food. She kept such a large garden and none of that food went to waste! She cooked and canned. My favorite thing she made, her homemade ketchup! The store-bought stuff barely comes close, except for Annie’s brand (fancy organic ketchup) which is more expensive but so worth it to me. She also made homemade noodles. Her lovely farm-life dinners that usually included mashed potatoes. And when we’d come to stay, we had Schwann’s ice cream with chocolate and peanuts on top while we watched TV in the evening. And when we left, she always had an individual size bag of M&Ms for us to eat on the ride home.
Third, she had an amazing 60-year marriage with my grandpa, Karl Miller, who died in 2005. I’ve never seen two people more devoted to each other. They were a team. Always having fun, laughing, and being together. As an example, we would go camping with them in their camper, which made room for about 8 people inside. Every night, when they’d go to bed you’d hear them give each other a quick peck and quietly say “I love you” as we were all going to sleep. I cannot for the life of me remember one time when a cross word was said.
My grandma’s DAR application was approved on November 5 and she passed away on November 18 at the age of 93. I am so glad I took the time to get her application in, even if she was a member for only a few days.
You are already missed, Grandma, but I know you are so happy to be with Grandpa again!
As a member of the Association of Professional Genealogists, a board member, and a member of the Nominating Committee, I want to highlight the fact that the APG is seeking recommendations for eligible persons to serve on the board for 2019-2020 terms. I have served 1 1/2 terms and have learned so much, not just about APG or about serving on a national board, but also about being a professional genealogist and networking with others.
I believe that if you have ideas, opinions, and generally want to enact change in or support this community that we all interact in and benefit from, then perhaps serving a term (or more) is a great idea. (This applies beyond genealogy, of course!) And I can’t stress enough about the relationships I’ve formed and colleagues I’ve gained, as well as the work I’ve supported that the APG does to serve and make better the professionalism of our trade.
For recommendations please contact firstname.lastname@example.org and read the details below.
The official release reads thusly:
Call for Recommendations for APG Board of Directors. Deadline: 31 Aug 2018
WHO WILL HELP RUN APG, THE WORLD’S LARGEST ORGANIZATION FOR PROFESSIONAL GENEALOGISTS? The APG Nominations Committee invites members to recommend candidates for the APG Board of Directors, and the Nominations Committee. Deadline for nominations to any of these positions is 31 August 2018.
Under our bylaws six persons will be elected to serve at-large to a two year term on the Board of Directors beginning on 1 January 2019. Two of the three-person Nominations Committee are elected to nominate candidates for the 2019 election.
Send your recommendations (they can include yourself) to the Nominations Committee at email@example.com. Please include each recommended person’s contact information and their consent to be recommended. A statement of qualifications would help but is not required. Deadline: 31 August 2018.
Board members must be APG members in good standing who joined before 1 August 2017. Board members should have some knowledge of the association’s goals and procedures and a strong interest in the welfare of APG and professional genealogists worldwide.
See https://www.apgen.org/contacts/index.html for a list of current board members. The Nominations Committee will prepare a list of candidates by September 15. The election will be held in late October. Board members should:
* be familiar with bylaws, policies, and procedures;
* make an effort to attend at least one of the two annual in-person board meetings plus the two or three virtual board meetings;
* come prepared to board meetings, having read all minutes and communications;
* respond in a timely fashion to email votes;
* serve in at least one capacity besides that of board member;
* when in attendance at a conference, volunteer at the APG booth; and
* communicate with the membership in some of the following ways: talk to members seeking out opinions, concerns, ideas; contribute to the APGQ or the APG eNews; participate in APG List discussions; join a chapter or Special Interest Group.
2018 Nominations Committee:
Cari Taplin, CG
Melanie Holtz, CG
I have had a VERY busy summer which has resulted in a very inactive blog. However, there have been several happenings in the genealogy world that I wanted to share. You may have already learned about some of these, but if not, check them out:
1. From the FGS Voice Website: “The Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) and the National Park Service’s Palo Alto Battlefield National Historical Park announce a partnership to develop a searchable database of more than 130,000 soldiers of the U.S.-Mexican War…The database will allow descendants of U.S. soldiers to connect to their personal history and help Palo Alto commemorate and tell the stories of these soldiers. After the database is developed, unit histories, digitized documents, and information on U.S.-Mexican War soldiers will be added. Efforts will also be made to include names and information about Mexican soldiers in this war.” This is going to be another fantastic partnership from FGS for preserving records.
2. The Board for Certification of Genealogists (BCG) has partnered with Legacy Family Tree Webinars for their monthly webinar series. From the news release: “The Board for Certification of Genealogists and Legacy Family Tree Webinars are excited to announce a new partnership. Legacy, host of the webinar series at FamilyTreeWebinars.com, will now also serve as host, producer, and publisher for future BCG webinars. This arrangement will produce and promote high-quality education in genealogy standards and methodologies by one of the leading creators of genealogy webinars.” The first webinar under this new partnership will be “Another Kind of Navigation: GPS for Genealogy” presented by Shellee Morehead, Ph.D., CG on Tuesday August 16, 8pm Eastern and can be registered for at: http://familytreewebinars.com/webinar_details.php?webinar_id=477
3. PERSI (the PERidocial Source Index) has a new landing page on FindMyPast. From the PERSI webpage: “The Periodical Source Index enables you to easily locate key information about people and places. It contains over 2.5 million entries from thousands of historical, genealogical and ethnic publications, making it an invaluable, comprehensive family history resource.” PERSI is one of my favorite resources. I will be giving a lecture on the subject at the Association of Professional Genealogists Professional Management Conference September 22-24, 2016 at the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne, Indiana.
4. “Refining Internet and Digital Skills for Genealogy,” a new SLIG course being offered by Cyndi Ingle (of Cyndi’s List), is sure to be one of those courses you think you might not need but you really do. We all get really comfortable with our computers, and our data and research processing systems, but we don’t know what we don’t know about how to be better or more efficient researchers. From Cyndi’s List Facebook Page: “There are still some spots open for SLIG 2017, the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy. My course is, “Refining Internet and Digital Skills for Genealogy.” We will focus on getting your digital research organized, performing more productive searches online, locating records and repositories necessary to move your research forward, using tools that help you analyze data in your research, and the final output of your research efforts. If you’ve been spinning your wheels for a while and want to take full control over your computer, please join us in SLC next January. Sign up for the course here: http://slig.ugagenealogy.org.”
Those are four things that I’ve been excited about in the genealogy world. I hope you check some of them out and can utilize, donate, or benefit from them! Happy summer!
In our time as genealogists, we have probably uploaded a GEDCOM file or two (or a dozen). It seems that every month a new site (or an old one) has a system for uploading and managing your family tree on their website. The most popular site today for building a tree is probably Ancestry.com. There are others:
Each of these has their advantages. Ancestry.com probably has the best system for locating hints from their databases as seen by the “shaky” leaves that appear. FamilySearch’s Family Tree is more like a wiki where you don’t actually “own” the individuals in the tree but instead collaborate with other researchers and have the ability to have discussions or post proof arguments.
Family information didn’t trickle down the family tree evenly. My cousins probably know more about my Businger ancestors than I do because they lived nearby whereas my branch of the family moved “out west.” They most likely have more family photographs and papers than I do stored in their attics or basements. I happen to have a lot of information on my Miller ancestors simply due to the relationships formed and the relatively small “competition” pool to get old photos and papers (there’s me, my brother, and our one cousin Andy). However, think about those families not so many generations ago that bore eight, ten, twelve, or more children. There were a lot of children to pass these treasures down to, and it didn’t all flow evenly. If there was a rift in the family, these artifacts may have followed one line only. If there was estrangement, these might have gone to a family friend, or not have been saved at all.
Just like family information, online trees today are not all located on one site. Some people only put their tree up in one location. I happen to have mine in a few, but not “all” of them. Posting your tree online can be an exceptional research tool, especially if you are looking for collaborators; people who may have been on that side of the family tree where the information flowed more fully. By posting your tree online, and in several locations, you can cast a wider net and reach more potential cousins who are researching the same or connected family lines.
I have a few ideas on what I think are some best practices for posting your tree online:
Make sure your email address or other contact information is up-to-date. You could even include your social media contacts if you have them, your Facebook profile, Twitter handle, or other social media of your choice.
Make sure you keep your tree at least moderately updated. The problem with having many trees online is that there is not an easy way to keep them all updated at the same time, no syncing across sites. If you are not doing any attaching of documents like what happens at Ancestry.com, you could simply delete an old tree and upload a new GEDCOM periodically. However, I don’t recommend this if you do a lot of attaching from the host site. One solution: you can post a “skeleton” tree with basic information in order to “catch” those collaborators, then invite them to your better tree, wherever that is hosted, once you’ve made contact.
Attach as many source citations to your trees as possible. If you keep one main tree and then post skeleton trees to a variety of sites, make some mention of this in your profile information. Something like “This tree does not contain many sources, but if there is a name or family group you are interested in, please contact me for more information.” This will at least let them know that there are sources available.
There are other more obvious “rules” I like to follow such as not posting personal information of my living relatives, not spreading gossip or rumors about living people, or the recently deceased, and not copying the trees or work of others without their permission (and I mean by asking them directly, not just clicking “add to my tree” because of the “well, if it is out there, they must not mind sharing” attitude to sharing.
If you do not know how to make what I call a “skeleton” GEDCOM file, I recommend reading some of the help files and/or video tutorials that came with your genealogical software. But in a nutshell, there is usually a way to mark a line of people you’d like to create a GEDCOM for. For example, if I only want to post a tree for my Kindervater ancestors, I can choose to begin with one particular person and then in Reunion (for Mac) there is a command to mark all ancestors of said person, and I can also choose whether to include all children or not, all spouses or not, etc. What you choose here will create a larger or smaller file to post.
These are just some thoughts I have about online trees. I have been working on a project trying to identify the parents of a female ancestor. I have been combing through many online trees, most of which have no sources and appear to repeat the same information that I am not sure is correct. It is a lot of time-consuming work. Most trees have no sources, they don’t all have working emails, and not everyone responds to emails when they are working. Online trees can offer many useful clues and hints and send you in directions you may not have known to go, and perhaps some of the people posting these trees online were on the side of the family tree where the information flowed down more freely than mine. I will keep investigating.
Some helpful articles or resources I found online:
*I love the Find My Past site a lot, and it is growing on me more and more with every addition and update. This is the only like of which I am an affiliate. If you click through this link and sign up with Find My Past, I will get a small amount of compensation. This is one of the ways I try to supplement my income and to allow me to provide educational opportunities for low cost. Many of the things I do are pro-bono. So consider using an affiliate link (from me or any other generous genealogists who are in the same boat I am).
**Please know that I am not affiliated with any of the other above links and do not receive any compensation from them when you click on their links.
It has been several months since I’ve managed to post on this blog. I have plans for several new series topics so stay tuned. In the meantime, here is a quick update on what I’ve been up to.
I have been asked to give a lot of NEW lectures this year, which means I have a lot of work to do to get prepared. So I’ve been working on all of the leg work required to create an entirely new lecture for many lectures! This is a blessing but it has taken time away from blogging, but will no doubt give me ideas on blog topics to share with you later.
My 90 year old grandmother came to visit for 2 weeks last month. This too was a blessing, but one that kept me from my typical work schedule. (This is not a complaint at all, just letting you know that what’s happening in the “real world” is often much more important than what is happening in my computer world.) We had a great time visiting, touring Austin and surrounding areas, and trying to come up with things that a 90 year old may not have done yet. (We took my grandma to a Roller Derby. There was a fist fight, just like in hockey. That did the job!)
I have recently been appointed the Education Chair for the Austin Genealogical Society and have had a great time developing and teaching Saturday classes for the group. I have also been asked to speak at local societies and so my speaking schedule is picking up since moving to Texas about 1.5 years ago.
Not to mention all of the other projects I do such as writing articles, curriculum and Quick Guides.
I haven’t even mentioned that my 15 year old son has gotten his learner’s license and we take drives on the weekends. He has gotten better each time and so I no longer feel like I might die each time we go out, only sometimes, typically when he drifts across the shoulder line because he is not sure how big the car is or when he takes a 90-degree corner without slowing down enough. And my daughter was in basketball and the school musical and in band…
The list could go on and on. But I wanted to let you know, I’m still here, still working, and am hoping to be back on a regular blogging schedule soon.
We are taught in genealogy lectures to examine our ancestors’ friends, associates and neighbors because often people associated with relatives and/or moved to different locations with of associates who were not relatives. In pondering this concept and comparing it to my current situation, I am struck by how different our lives and connections are now than they were for our ancestors.
No one moved with us. It was my husband and myself, our two kids and four pets. Our nearest relatives now live over 3 hours away, relatives we are getting reacquainted with but that we weren’t really close to prior to moving. The only people we knew in Austin were acquaintances, our realtor, and I happened to know of a few genealogists in the area as well. My husband doesn’t have an actual office yet at the building here because the project is so brand new they aren’t done building it and organizing all of the employees on the project yet, so no real work friends for him yet. The point being that if you tried to find a “FAN Club” reason for our move you couldn’t.¹
I imagine to future researchers the migration patterns of today look a lot different, more confusing perhaps than those of our ancestors. Generally speaking, the patterns of US migration generally move from the east coast to the west. (I know this is a big generalization and I have several exceptions in my research.) Also, generally you can locate groups of people who migrated together. I’m sure it happens today, but I would guess not as much. We are a lot more independent, less support is needed from our family and neighbors for survival. From grocery stores to gas stations, indoor plumbing to wi-fi, we generally have everything we need or can find it for ourselves.
Does it feel more isolated? Or maybe it’s just me still adapting to a move and still finding my new network of friends, associates and neighbors. Don’t worry. We are adapting. My next posts will be on how we are working to build our new FAN club.
Often in my research, I like to think about why my ancestors did what they did. I am especially curious when I find that they moved from one state to another. Sometimes it seems like there are “loners” who go out on their own. Those I generally label as “adventurous” people who wanted to go see the country rather than stay home and tend to the family farm. Sometimes entire groups of extended family moved together, or in a chain, one moved first and then others followed. I usually guess that those folks moved because of opportunity or a better life in a new location.
The truth is, unless we have a diary or letters, maybe a newspaper article, from/about our ancestors we can never really know. By studying the social history of the time and place, we might be able to make a good educated guess. Usually I ponder on my own life choices to try to identify why my ancestor may have done something, like moving to a new state. In our case, my husband got a new job, a better paying and much more interesting job. Also, I consider myself adventurous and I would often wonder what it would be like to live in a different place. Usually it was while we were traveling through beautiful locations that seemed peaceful. Usually we had many reasons to stay put, and not enough reason to move.
But then a REAL opportunity happened. Yikes! It was exciting and scary all at once. Of course, we live in different times than our ancestors. Most of the moving hassles were taken care of by my husband’s new job, things like flying to Texas to shop for a house, then packing, loading and unloading the truck, driving the truck to Texas, and so on. We could have had our cars shipped, our pets and ourselves flown. However we had too many plants and other things the movers wouldn’t move so we opted to take a road trip in our two cars with 2 kids, 3 cats, 1 dog, and miscellaneous items. It was Labor Day weekend so we had a couple of extra days to kill between being out of our old house and closing on our new one. We stayed with family for a few days but then ventured on where we stayed in 2 hotel rooms with 4 humans and 4 pets. Let’s just say that was an ADVENTURE! The next morning at 7:30 am we loaded everyone up, met our realtor, signed papers, waited for the funding to go through and then finally, around noon, got our keys. Let’s not mention how hot it was (90+ degrees) while we had 4 humans and 4 pets in two cars, waiting for our keys.
Once we had our keys and we unloaded our stuff, our pets and our kids we went over to the school to get the kids enrolled. Since we were leaving Colorado two weeks after their school started, and only one week late for Texas, they got a couple of extra weeks of summer vacation. They started school the next day. We also still had to wait for our moving truck to arrive. Luckily they arrived the next day as well so we only spent one night on air mattresses.
While all of that was full of hassles and stress, it really did go pretty smoothly. Let’s think about it… We drove a car, with air conditioning, and made the trip in two days. Gas stations, rest areas, restaurants and other stores along the way provided for any needs we had. We had all of our belongings in a big truck also headed to Texas. Our ancestors? They would have only brought what was completely necessary and the journey took weeks (maybe months depending on where they were going) through the elements, with only what they could carry or fit in their wagon. They likely walked all or part of the way over rough roads or no roads at all. The farther back in time, the harder it likely was. There was no roadside assistance. There may have been Indian attacks, wild animals, disease or injury, hunger/starvation, and in many cases they didn’t all make it.
My point is, if our ancestors moved, it was a much bigger “deal” than it is today even when I consider our move a “big deal.” They didn’t do it without a lot of consideration and preparation. (Unless they were running from the law, perhaps.) In our case, studying the social history of the area is not going to clue anyone in on why we moved. Perhaps there will be archived versions of everyone’s Facebook pages, Twitter feeds, LinkedIn accounts and other social media outlets. Those are serving as today’s diaries. If future generations have access to these types of records they can probably figure out why we moved.
Pondering the possible motives of our ancestors’ movements can add life to the names and dates and can give meaning to what might otherwise not make any sense. Beware of declaring anything as fact unless you have writings from ancestors. Most of what I “decide” about my ancestors’ motives is of course speculation and is usually based on clues, but rarely does anything say something so clear as my husband’s Facebook status declaring that he had changed jobs and we’d likely be moving or the image to the left that states exactly what day we left our home.
While I don’t have archived social media information for my ancestors (i.e. diaries or letters), it is pretty clear that they moved for some reason and the reason had to be a good one for them to have gone through all that they did. And while I may never know their true reasons, I know what motivates me and my family to pick up and move: a better job and adventure.
I’ve noticed in my research that I am intrigued by the motives behind my ancestors’ actions. Mostly I am curious about why they chose to move from one place to another, why they went with who they did, why they chose that location, and so on. I don’t think we can ever really know without having a diary or letter describing the whys in their own words, but with careful research and analysis we can make some educated guesses. For me, I often turn to my own life when I ponder on the actions of my ancestors, at least as a starting point. While this can be affected by “presentism” (thinking about past events with a modern mindset), it is all I really have to go on when trying to determine someone’s possible motives. I ask why do I do whatever it is my ancestors did: Why did I move?
My family and I just made a very large life-upheaving move last September. We didn’t just move from one town to the next. We moved from Colorado to Texas! The motive? My husband got a new, better job. I think we all also needed a change. From my husband’s old job to my son’s dislike of school, it just seemed like we all needed something new; it didn’t feel like we were growing, just staying the same. So, a new state, a new school, a new house, a new grocery store, new weather and new genealogy societies.
I could list all of the differences we’ve had to get used to, from political attitudes to the traffic patterns to the weather, but I won’t. Over the next few posts I will share a few of the things I’m learning about moving as it relates to genealogy, my genealogy business and understanding my ancestors.
One of my favorite ways to “give back” is through cemetery photography. You are likely familiar with the websites Find-A-Grave or Billion Graves. These sites are collections of cemeteries, tombstones, transcriptions, and photographs that are available to researchers far and wide. These sites didn’t create themselves, however. They are the product of thousands of volunteers all over the world. I know I use the site all of the time, especially for those ancestors in Ohio or Missouri or Illinois in far-flung places that I will probably never get to. Thanks to all of those volunteers, I can see their tombstones with a few clicks of a mouse.
I won’t go into all of the ways you can use these sites for your research; that’s a whole different set of blog posts. I will tell you how I use them to “give back” to the genealogical community. I’m going to focus on Find-A-Grave although similar things can be done with Billion Graves, you’ll just need to check into it if that’s your app/site of choice. I find myself using Find-A-Grave a lot more often, but that doesn’t make one any better or worse than the other. Also, you don’t have to use one of the apps at all, you can use a digital camera and upload the photos from home. Or you can do this with a local genealogical society.
Find-A-Grave and Billion Graves both have apps for your smart phone or tablet. I use them almost every time I take a road trip. On the Find-A-Grave app, you can tell it to find cemeteries near you and it will indicate if there are any with open photo requests. An open request means that someone far away would like to have a photograph of a tombstone added to the site. You can access these request right from your phone, head to the cemetery and take a photo all in one app.
This is an excellent way to get out of the car and stretch your legs if you are on a long road trip. When we have time to take side roads, my husband and I like to visit the cemeteries that are more out of the way. Those are probably the more neglected cemeteries that don’t get photographed as often. Plus we have so much fun! Once we almost got stuck in the mud, even though we drive an all-wheel-drive Subaru. Another time, a thunderstorm whipped up so fast we got drenched. We’ve also encountered very tall weeds, trees engulfing the stones, angry birds guarding their nests, friendly ducks, tiny toads, turtles, snakes and evidence of wild boar.
We have also seen some of the most beautiful sights and interesting cemeteries along the way.
Since we just moved, we have begun driving around the rural areas near us, to visit the cemeteries nearby and learn more about our new surroundings. Sometimes it’s a great reason to get out of the house and out into nature.
Some tips that we have discovered along the way to help your time in the cemetery be more fun or productive:
Many of these rural cemeteries are away from good cell phone reception. I often take a screen shot of the map and the page with the photo requests so that even if I can’t get cell reception, I still know where I’m going and who I’m looking for. (You’ll have to check with your personal phone model on how to do this, but it can be done.) Another option would be to print these at home and take the paper copies with you.
Wear pants and close-toed shoes, especially in the overgrown, weedy cemeteries. I am a fan of flip-flops, however, I have found myself in the weeds with possible ticks, snakes and burrs far too often. I know throw a pair of shoes to change into in the car. It can be very hot if you do this in the summer, but wearing pants rather than shorts is also recommended.
Stop at a gas station or rest area and use the facilities before you head out too far. It’s not cool to have to squat behind a bush or have to leave altogether to use the bathroom.
Take water and snacks. Like the above, it’s no fun to have to leave early because you are hungry or thirsty.
Exploring cemeteries has been one of the most fun and fulfilling activities that I have done to “give back.” You never know what you are going to find. Have fun out there!