Monday, December 13, 2010

Having a Good Time, Wish You Weren't Dead

These people are so fascinating. If only I could talk to them, and have them answer all my questions and straighten out all their little complicated-seeming problems...

But I imagine that would take a lot of the fun out of looking for them.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Today at the Public Library...

I found a couple of books I liked that pertain to our favorite topic, and thought I would pass along the titles:

1. The Organized Family Historian by Ann Carter Fleming, which reminded me of an installment in the "For Dummies" series and those like it. I liked it and would recommend it for genealogists of almost any experience level. The chapter about census records covered each census in detail; wills and deeds, visiting courthouses, and preserving documents and photograps were also explored. The book was published in 2004 so most references to Internet use, computer programs, etc., seemed up to date.

2. The Book of the Dead by John Lloyd & John Mitchinson - not a research book, but more of a dead people Who's Who. The first chapter dealt with famous dead peeps whose fathers were absent, neglectful or abusive during their childhood. I was able to get through a few pages each about Leonardo da Vinci, Sigmund Freud and Sir Isaac Newton, and of the three, I'd use my time machine frequent flier miles on Leonardo. Yes I would.

One last thought: The 1940 Census is taking waaaaay too long.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Back at the FHC

After taking a year off, I am serving again at my local Family History Center.

It was on a whim that I happened to be put back on staff. Things have calmed down for us somewhat (I have two children with interesting medical issues). The hip-deep-in-timelines state of mind I was in propelled me to my FHC for something, I can't remember what - a book or a film, or something? I can't remember.

But I do remember that it was Veteran's Day and one of the FHC directors was serving his regular shift. He eyeballed me and said, "We need you to come back." I asked which shifts were needing help and he mentioned Wednesdays during the day. Before this school year, it would have been an impossibility, but now that my youngest is in school all day, I am free as a bird...

I started the next Wednesday and have been LOVING it. I love my fellow staff members and the opportunity to focus solely on my family history research - I didn't know how much I missed that part of it - and helping the patrons (when we have them). Today I helped a lady get started looking at some microfilms she had ordered from the Family History Library. She found good stuff today.

And SCORE! I also made significant finds. The Familysearch pilot site is so great!

That was my shift today - very, very satisfying. I'm so glad I have this opportunity.

Monday, December 06, 2010


Your comments were appreciated.

Timelines have taken a backseat (just for now) to I have a family tree there I'm enjoying adding information and pictures to. is kind of a genealogy-based Facebook. Along with adding family history information, you can leave messages for family members - of any nature, not just genealogical - and collaborate, share pictures, and that kind of thing. And, like Facebook, it's as private as you make it, requiring an email address and password to sign in.

I would definitely recommend using this website and inviting family members to join (or joining, if you've already been invited).

Monday, November 29, 2010

The Awesomeness of Timelines

Rather than beat my head on brick walls, trying to find ancestors who refuse to be found (or so it would seem), it's been my habit to gather genealogical information as it comes my way.

This has resulted in lots of information about "fringe" ancestors that I like and everything, but they don't really take me anywhere UP my family tree. I'm trying to move beyond them now.

Creating timelines has been very helpful.

I've made numerous family timelines, but for the last few weeks I've been working on personal timelines for each of my grandparents and their children, my aunts and uncles. It's been a fun research project and a good way to put together all the little bits I've found and stored in the source repositories and their individual "notes" area.

It also helps me pinpoint people on whom I need to spend more time (Alexander Finney, anyone?). I would highly recommend this idea if you haven't implemented it into your work already. I love finding out more about my peeps.

1940 CENSUS: We're under 500 days now! Woot!

Is anyone reading this anymore? Not that I mind, but maybe I'll just make the blog private if no one cares if it's gone.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Hi there, Cousin Arthur...

So nice to unexpectedly run into you today... a little weird, but nice...

I woke up earlier today with the idea of working on a family timeline for my great-grandparents, Howard Mitchell Keithler and Adina Irene Clark. It was fun and I made some good progress. It'll be even MORE fun when the 1940 census shows up.

I got to work on more Keithler timelines - one for Howard's parents, Ignatius and Jennie, and then Ignatius' parents, Alexander and Caroline.

Alexander's family has been hard to figure out. He was born in 1828 in Ohio, and the earliest record I can find of him is in the 1850 census, when he was 22 and living with another family in another state, working as a farmhand. He married Caroline in 1851, they had three babies, and then she passed away - all before the 1860 census.

Which is a huge "sux donut" because I have no record of this sweet little family ever being together. My husband and babies and I have made it to two censuses so far and I hope it'll be many more.

Their oldest daughter, Martha, was mistakenly listed as having the last name "Mitchell" (Caroline's maiden name) in the 1860 census. She, her little brother Ignatius and her little sister Susan Caroline all went to live with Caroline's parents after Caroline died and Alexander remarried. I finally figured out and fixed that mistake today...

Then moved on to Martha's husband and children, another huge nest of huge mistakes. I've unraveled skeins of knotted yarn that were easier to repair. Yikes!

Martha's son Arthur was born in 1875, and as I found out today from his death certificate, died in 1932.

His death date leapt out at me like it was sitting on a spring.

On TODAY'S date, in 1932. September 27, 1932. What were the odds of that happening? I guess just one in 365, but still...

It was weird. Freaky. Goose-pimply awesome.

Friday, September 24, 2010

"That's a nice nose! Did you pick it?" of my dad's old corny jokes I still enjoy throwing at my children.

My whole life, everyone has told me I look like my mom. I do look like her - our coloring is very similar, but as I grew older, I noticed our features aren't quite exactly the same... my nose and chin were different, my eyes crinkly-er, my eyebrows arch-ier or something. Our skin is different, too - she tans easily, while I burn and freckle like my father.

This observation led to much mirror-perusing. If I wasn't a carbon copy of my mother, the way everyone seemed to think, then who DID I look like?

And of course, being the genealogy geek that I am, I had to trace the features I saw on my face back to their original source - at least, as far back as the family photograph collection would allow.

I've split my face into four people. I know you were wondering.

From the nose up, I look like Ruby Fox; from the nose down, Jennie Dragoo; my dimples came from my grandfather, Carl Dysart; and my dark haired, dark-eyed coloring (and that of my mother, grandmother, great grandmother, great-great grandfather) came from Lorette Proctor.

And of course, being the genealogy geek that I am, I wonder endlessly about the three ladies and where THEIR features came from. Who does Lorette resemble with her brown eyes? When did this very distinct Dragoo nose and chin first make its appearance, and with whom? Was it a Zane or a Bathrick that Ruby inherited her eyebrows from?

And those pesky dimples! I have exactly one picture of Carl's parents, Carl Sr. and Ruth, smiling. I can't tell for sure but it looks like Carl Sr. is the dimpled grandparent. His son, my grandpa Carl, had them, my mom has them, I have them, and my middle son, who (out of our five children) looks the least like me and the most like his dad, was also somehow born with them.

Adam and Eve's first invention should have been a camera. And film that lasts millennia.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


So live that when thy summons to join
The innumerable caravan, which moves
To that mysterious realm where each shall take
His chamber in the silent halls of death,
Thou go not like the quarry slave at night,
Scourged to his dungeon, but, sustained and soothed
By an unfaltering trust, approach thy grave
Like one who wraps the draperies of his couch
About him, and lies down to pleasant dreams.

~ William Cullen Bryant

Going through some old papers and pictures today, I found my great grandmother's funeral book. This poem was printed on the first page.

Monday, September 06, 2010

Photo of the Week: John William Smith family

The poses the photographer had the family assume have always been interesting to me. He was obviously taking artistic license with the ONE PICTURE I have of this family. Dude, really? I can't even tell what half of them look like.

Oh, well, I suppose that in a hundred years our descendants will check out pictures like this one and bust a gut laughing. But at least my family was TRYING to be serious.

From left to right, top row: Maurice or Shelby, Ruby looking very thoughtful and possibly lost, Jennie lovingly brushing lint off John's shoulder (I'm going to assume it was lint)

From left to right, bottom row: Mary Elizabeth, John holding John Jr. (always called Jack), and Maurice or Shelby.

Maurice is my great grandfather and I'm bugged that I can't tell which one of the boys he is. The birth order is Ruby, Maurice, Shelby, Mary Elizabeth and Jack, and if only I could ask the boy sitting on the right to stand up, I could measure their heights and possibly decide. Since I can't, you know, see his face.

But they tried. Bless their hearts.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Yes, I Know.

It's been almost a year since I last posted. I have nothing to say for myself other than ... life happens.

It had been such a long time since I'd visited my own blog - shameful! - that once here this morning, I took some time to rediscover the BOSS music on my playlist, check out my great grandparents' links, and see how far my 1940 census countdown had progressed. We still have 579 days? (Actually, 578, but April 1, 2012 is on a Sunday, so that's still up in the air.)

Yes. We still have that long to wait. About eighteen more months... but considering how thrilled we all were when 1930 came out (like I even remember that happening, I was hip-deep in four little children) and how long we've already waited, I guess we can go a little longer.

To keep the next one and a half years from dragging on too slowly, one website (which seems to be supported by has already outlined a fun preparatory project:

Since you've got so much time, there may be no urgency to this right now, but don't wait until the night before to start getting ready for one of the biggest genealogical events since, well — since April 2002 when the 1930 Census was released.

Start by listing those direct-line ancestors who you have found in the 1930 census and that you know were still living in 1940. While it's possible that they may still be living in the same city or state, don't rule out the fact that your ancestors may have moved. Once you have listed these individuals, consider looking for anyone in their mid-to-late teens or 20s who may have been living in the household in 1930, but may now be found as a head of their own household. Next, you'll want to repeat this same process for indirect ancestors (aunts & uncles).

Well, I don't know about you, but my list-making hobby will definitely come in handy for this idea.

I still use PAF and will employ the focus filter function to eyeball those ancestors and relatives who were alive for the 1940 census. Should be fun and hopefully enlightening - some of those ancestors were sure pesky about being found.

Happy hunting, and don't be a stranger! (wink)