Monday, January 31, 2011

Memory Monday: Emergency Bacon

In the meat drawer of our main refrigerator in the kitchen/family room, there is a slab of bacon. It is made by Valentine’s, a business run by a Mennonite family, and sold at our local farmers’ market. In the meat drawer of our second refrigerator (which came with the house in 1983; we only bought the other refrigerator because we thought this one was not long for this world, but it never died, so it is our second refrigerator) in the little pantry off of the butler’s pantry that used to be the galley-style kitchen of the main house, there is a second, newer, slab of bacon.

This is my Emergency Bacon. Bacon is not the first comestible in our family to have the adjective “emergency” appended to it. Coffee was - “Mom’s Emergency Coffee.” That is the second jar of instant coffee that is always kept on hand so that if Mom (me) wakes up, goes to make her breakfast coffee, and finds only an empty jar, there will always be a second jar on the shelf. (Gourmet coffees and coffee made from freshly ground beans in the coffee pot are all great things, but I’m the only coffee-drinker in the family, so I have become used to drinking the instant stuff. I even like it.)

My husband started making sure that we always have that second jar of coffee both because he is a kind person and because it is better for my family if they do not have to deal with a Mom who has not had her morning coffee. And bacon followed that pattern, though kindness, not fear, was the only reason behind it. I don’t eat lots of it, but occasionally like it for “breakfast for dinner” or on my grilled cheese sandwich.

But even these items are not my first experience with “emergency food.” It was probably when I was in my preteens that I began to see the usefulness of setting aside a small supply of extra food. Sometimes it might just be a couple of small sweets for snacks; my skinny Dad had a wicked sweet tooth and dessert and snack foods often disappeared alarmingly fast in our house.

But there were also times when the shelves were pretty bare of food in general and even a few times when I was on my own for a while. So it was useful to have a little extra that would tide me over for a day or two - preferably something that would not get moldy or stale quickly. A box of crackers usually did the job. I kept it next to my jar of ironing money and old silver dollars (which over the years gradually disappeared).

In my high school years the emergency food supply was helped by the fact that we always had a long slab of welfare cheese in the refrigerator. In my opinion, welfare cheese was the best-tasting American cheese ever - great for grilled cheese sandwiches and tuna and cheese sandwiches (my favorite at that time). Sometimes the stash also included a package of vanilla cream cookies bought from a nearby family-owned convenience store. They were not my favorite cookies, but it did not cost much to buy a largish package (four rows of 10-12 cookies each), so they made a good emergency staple.

These not-quite-hoarding instincts have been retained to the present day. But the worry behind them is of a different type, inspired not by fear of running out of food; my husband and I are both employed and we live near a 7-11, which is great for times when there are blizzards or hurricanes. Whatever the circumstances and reasoning behind it, our pantry is filled with large quantities of certain staples and luxury items: next to piles of pasta boxes and precarious soup can towers (stocked up by my husband, who was a Boy Scout for many years and grew up in a family where “Be Prepared” was a sternly enforced rule of life) are five boxes of Farina and multiple jars of my favorite pesto sauce and HP sauce, which are too often hit-or-miss items at the local stores. From need to indulgence; from resourceful to pampered.

This post was written as part of Amy (We Tree) Coffin’s series of 52 weekly blogging prompts (featured on Genea-Bloggers) for writing our personal genealogy and history. The original prompt was: What was your favorite food from childhood? If it was homemade, who made it? What was in this dish, and why was it your favorite? What is your favorite dish now?

As usual, my post has strayed somewhat from the original questions. To return a bit to the original intent, I’ll say that my favorite lunch was a grilled cheese sandwich with tomato soup. And my favorite lunch now? The same thing, only white bread and American cheese have been replaced with Indian nan bread and curd cheese, and the tomato soup is not Campbell’s but Toigo Farms. And sometimes, for a treat, that sandwich includes two strips of last week’s Emergency Bacon, which is this week’s Regular Bacon.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Live from Beautiful Falls Church, Virginia: It’s the iGene Awards!

(Our Special Reporter is reporting on the Fourth Annual iGene Awards ceremony. This Fab Event, which is just one part of the Mega-Event known as the Carnival of Genealogy, is celebrated each year all over the country by members of the Academy of Genealogy and Family History, an elite and exclusive organization of genealogy bloggers run by a mysterious and powerful coterie of Genea-Blogging Celebrities. One of the most mysterious and powerful members of that coterie is Jasia, author of the Creative Gene blog and the alleged mastermind behind the Carnival of Genealogy and the iGene Awards. Informed sources report that it is she who dictates the categories for the awards: Best Picture, Best Screen Play, Best Biography, Best Documentary, and Best Comedy.)

We’re reporting from the Red Carpet in glamorous Falls Church, Virginia (well, actually, from nearby less-glamorous Fairfax County), and I just cannot adequately convey the excitement and buzz generated by the Awards this year. And coming down that carpet I think I see ... can it be? Oh, my goodness, the humanity, you will not believe the major Genea-Blogging celebrities who have just graced the carpet and us with their brilliant, overpowering presence, why, it’s


[Black screen.]

One and a half hours later...

Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for staying with us through the unforeseen technical difficulties caused by ice and snow on the power lines here.

Unfortunately, this lost time has seriously cut into the time we have for long-winded acceptance speeches and silly routines tonight’s entertainment, so we are just going to cut to the chase and hand out the awards:

The iGene Award for Best Picture goes to:

A photographic study of the pernicious effects of nepeta cataria addiction on an intimate circle of felines as demonstrated by a single evening of dazed decadence (aka, the New Year’s Eve our cats got stoned on catnip):

The iGene Award for Best Comedy goes to:

The best comedy is musical comedy, and this year’s winner, a light-hearted take on the travails, traps, and travesties of family research, is no exception:

The iGene Award for Best Screenplay goes to:

An intimate portrait of family life and an exploration into how a seemingly insignificant item can lead to a major emotional outburst resulting in revelation and new insights for the family:

Special acting awards go to Jane Lynch as the mom with the “tempest-in-a-flower-teapot” temperament and, as the bewildered daughters, six-year-old Dakota Fanning and three-year-old Elle Fanning.

It should be mentioned that the voting was quite close (that’s what happens when you have 10 nominees in this category), so the Academy would like to mention two deserving runner-ups:


The iGene Award for Best Documentary goes to:

A complex and nuanced, yet dramatic study of the research process drawn out over four installments in the style of the old cliffhanger serials:

From the Will to the Estate Packet: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4

(Commentator’s gratuitous aside to the viewing audience: There is a delicious irony to the victory of this multipart series: The winner of the Best Screenplay Award at last year’s iGene Awards was the two-part series “Searching for Preston Moore.” One of many shockers delivered by “From the Will to the Estate Packet” was that Preston Moore had not, in fact, died in the Civil War!)

(Note for you serious cinephiles out there: The Director’s Cut Version DVD of this movie includes the following bonus features:

Bonus Post: “Researching in Greenville” - the documentary behind the documentary!

The Cinematographer’s View: “Greenville Love” and “Main Street, Greenville, USA”)

The iGene Award for Best Biography goes to:

A loving tribute to a favorite uncle:

The Runner-Up for this category is:

(The Academy denies that there was any nepotism involved in choosing two posts on members of the same family.)

And finally, the Academy would like to institute its own humanitarian award, the Genea-Bloggers’ Act of Genealogical Kindness Award, and present it to two very deserving recipients:

Tracy at The Pieces of My Past for asking a friend for information on my Tarrant line and sending me the material the friend provided.

Cynthia at Heritage Zen for helping me out with the Stepanishen family.

(Thunderous applause by the audience. Because this is the award that really counts.)

My humble thanks to the mysterious mastermind Jasia for making these Awards and the Carnival of Genealogy possible.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Friday Newsletter and Follow News: 28 January 2011

This Week in Genea-Blogging

One of our own will be on "Who Do You Think You Are?"

Kathleen Brandt of a3 Genealogy!  Read about it here.  I am definitely not going to miss that episode.

A personal view of a disaster

In “Black Sunday and an Engagement,” Cheri Daniels of Journeys Past has put together an interesting look at the 1937 flood that affected areas along the Ohio River as related in the words of her grandfather and through the pictures he took at that time. This post is a great illustration of how genealogists/family historians can contribute to the publicly available historical resources.

A good follow-up to Amy’s “Comments” post

is Marian Pierre-Louis’ post on “Blogging and Technology” at Roots and Rambles. It’s time to start asking for the features we want.

Things I need to put on a sticky on my computer screen

Jirene at Jirene’s Genealogy Tips has some excellent information about using newspapers in our research in “Genealogy Tips when Searching Newspapers.”

A convert to Jenny-ology

In “My Research Toolbox,” Jenny Lanctot describes how she took a cue from last week’s Open Thread Thursday on Genea-Bloggers dealing with research toolboxes, and used Weebly to build her research toolbox (using her bookmarked links) and put a link to it on her blog, Are My Roots Showing? It’s called Jenny-ology! Marvelous! I think I’ll give it a try myself!

Some interesting “takes” on Ancestry’s decision to discontinue Member Connect:

Kerry Scott at Clue Wagon: “Is Ancestry Dumb?”

Paula Stuart-Warren at Paula’s Genealogical Eclectica: “ Discontinues Expert Connect”

Marian Pierre-Louis at Roots and Rambles: “What’s a Professional Researcher to Do Without Expert Connect?”

Kim at Ancestors of Mine from Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky & Beyond: “When Ancestry Owns The World Part II” and “Now For My More Rational Side”

Thomas MacEntee at High-Definition Genealogy: "Expert Disconnect - What's's Next Move" and " - The Evil Empire of Genealogy?"

Plus there is a roundup at The Ancestral Archaeologist: “ExpertConnect R.I.P.: A Roundup”

Things might have been so different

“How were your ancestors affected by the little quirks and great events of history?” asks Daniel Hubbard at Personal Past Meditations: A Genealogical Blog in the post “A Ripple that Spread on this Side of the Pond.”

Follow these rules!

Maureen Taylor provides some very important “Preservation Points: Rules to Live By” at The Photo Detective.

It’s later than you think

Lynn Palermo at The Armchair Genealogist has some helpful tips on getting ready to make the most use of the 1940 US Census and 1921 Canadian Census when they come out in 2012 and 2013 in “Tuesday’s Tip - Preparing for the Next Census.”

Everyone can make mistakes ...

and the best ones will admit it! In “Who’s Your Daddy?” Lorine McGinnis Shulze at Olive Tree Genealogy Blog describes her recent discovery that the father of one of her ancestors may not have been the man she originally thought. Some new information provided by another researcher has inspired her to revisit her 20-year-old research and look into some records that were not available then - she’s even excited at the prospect of a new line to research!

From digital to hard copy

Another option for turning blogs into books is discussed by Cheryl Palmer at Heritage Happens in “Blog ‘2’ Book with Blog2Print,” and Cheryl includes photos of the lovely book that resulted from her efforts.

Professor Dru of Find Your Folks has a new blog: Let Freedom Ring, which deals with her Civil War-related research.

For more suggested blog reading ...

Check out “Best of the Genea-Blogs” at Randy Seaver’s Genea-Musings, “Across My Desk: 26 Jan 2011” at Dear Myrtle, “Follow Friday: Around the Blogosphere” at Susan Petersen’s Long Lost, and “Best Bytes for the Week” at Elizabeth O’Neal’s Little Bytes of Life.

Happy Fourth Blogoversary to Bill at West in New England!

Happy First Blogoversary to Mary at Me and My Ancestors!

Happy First Blogoversary to Michelle Gudrum at The Turning of Generations!

Happy Second Blogoversary to Jennifer at Jennifer’s Genealogy Blog!

Happy Third Blogoversary to Jennifer at But Now I'm Found!

Happy Second Blogoversary to Karen at Ancestor Soup!

This week I started following these blogs:

A Hoyt Family Genealogy


Ancestral Discoveries

Generations of Stories

I’m Related to Whom?

Mam-ma’s Southern Family

Shaking Leaves: My Adventures in Genealogy

The Family Shrubbery

Blood and Frogs

Let Freedom Ring

My Research Week

A good one! I’m still creeping along in transcribing the court records of the Floyd family trials, searching Genealogy Bank for articles on my Moore, Lewis, and Floyd families, and researching the Margaret Leek Brinlee-Robert Brown Sims family.

But the big news comes on my husband’s side of the family. I have whined written before about trying to “find the Fichtelmanns,” but this week a Genea-Angel in the form of my husband’s fourth cousin (at least, now we know that she is in fact related and how), Mary Lou Benjamin, sent me an e-mail with the news that she had proof that the parents of Christine Fichtelmann (my husband’s great-grandmother) were Johann August (aka John A.) Fichtelmann and Catharina Scherer.

Mary Lou and I had corresponded before and sort of narrowed the possibilities down to Johann Friedrich (aka Fred) Fichtelmann, Mary Lou’s ancestor, or Johann August, and J.A. it was. Mary Lou sent me scans of many different documents on this family, as well as information on her research and that of another Fichtelmann cousin. Between the two of them they have a good bit of information that is both broad and deep.

I can probably follow some of Mary Lou’s research steps for the Koehl family that Christine Fichtelmann married into. Both families have quite a few members buried in Green-wood Cemetery in Brooklyn. Now, if I can just find the maiden name for my mother-in-law’s maternal grandmother, my research into my husband’s family will really be cooking!

I still have to send in my NGS Conference registration. But I’m having a hard time choosing which “special” events to attend! My family is going to be with me (mostly having a good time in Charleston), so I’d like to choose one that maybe all of us can go to, and perhaps one that I’ll just attend on my own. Any suggestions?

Monday, January 24, 2011

Memory Monday: Home

The challenge for Week No. 4 is to “Write about your home.” For me that would be “homes,” plural. As you might gather from many of my “Memory” posts, I have lived in a lot of places. Some of them I don’t even remember. Either I was too young, or they went by so fast in a succession of moves that they are little more than a blur in my memory.

From my childhood, three places stand out for length of residence and for bringing the word “home” to mind for me: our house on Pico Street in San Bernardino (from about age 4 to age 8), Lankershim Street in Highland, California (first time, from about age 2 to 4, second time age 8 to 13), and the Housing Project on Pecan Street in Seymour, Texas (age 15 to 18). In addition to these there were all the places my father was posted in Pennsylvania, Texas, and California when he was in the Air Force (up to age 2 for me) and the four houses we lived in when I was in eighth and ninth grades.

Me, my mother, and Buster the dog 
in front of our house on Lankershim Street (first residence, pre-addition)

The main quality that characterized our early houses is something I can only describe as “the potential exceeded the reality.” As in, “We can fix this up.” I’ve written several posts that describe the house on Lankershim Street:

Memory Monday: My Playhouse

Memory Monday: Construction

Memory Monday: Junk in Our Yard

Memory Monday: Fire

Memory Monday: The Mulberry Tree

I suppose I haven’t really written much about the house on Pico Street. It had three bedrooms and one bath. It had one of those rambler designs: you entered the living room, the kitchen/dining room was on the right, and the bedrooms and bathroom were on the left. There was a carport in front and a patio in the back. Pretty bare bones, but it seem nice and comfortable to us. I remember the pyracantha bushes and the lady ferns. We knew and were friends with many of our neighbors.

I “visit” the Pico Street house and the Lankershim Street house occasionally on Google Maps; they’re both still there. The neighborhoods look a bit more threadbare now than they did then.

We now live in the same house we’ve lived in since 1983. It’s more modest and decrepit than the homes of most of our friends and acquaintances.  But still, I do not want to move.

Many of our friends and associates are starting to talk about retiring and “getting out of the Washington, D.C. area” - with good reason. As in many “metro areas,” especially those that are not dying off from blight, traffic and congestion have been getting worse and worse and civility is often a casualty of those developments. These friends would like to move to warmer - in terms of both weather and local attitude - climes. Towns and small cities where you can walk to many of the places you need and want to visit regularly. Or even, for a while, cozy little urban enclaves in the cities of their youth, where both sophisticated entertainment and convenience stores are close at hand.

Still, I do not want to move. This is home. We have five cats and a lizard buried here. We have half a lifetime of memories, and I do not want to be physically separated from those memories. There are so many things that need to be repaired and the walls almost bulge with our collections of books and music that verge on hoarder status. But I grew up with “ramshackle,” “needs fixin’,” and “runnin’ outa room,” and I am used to it. So I ain’t moving.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Genealogy Monopoly

Yesterday I received a stunning e-mail from a distant cousin of my husband’s (although she had not known for sure that they were cousins until some recent research proved the connection) in which she was able to tell me which US Fichtelmann was my husband’s ancestor, how he was related to her ancestor, and a lot more information on this family in the United States and in Germany.

I noted with satisfaction that we had been in contact on GenealogyWise and had originally found one another through a post on GenForum.

This made me think about all of the online “contact points” I and other people have left in various places so that other researches can contact us and we can share our research.

In contemplating my online presence, I was struck by how I think of it: This is my genealogy real estate. It may not be actual land or buildings, but investing in it can definitely pay off.

It’s kind of like Monopoly. You buy up a bunch of inexpensive pieces of real estate that pay off small amounts each time someone lands on them. When you can afford it, you buy more expensive pieces of real estate that pay off handsomely when someone lands on them.

But if you don’t invest, you will not make any money. You pays your money and you takes your chances. And sometimes you have to be patient.

I started genealogy five and a half years ago, and almost from the beginning I was contacting people by e-mail (something that the shy, pre-genealogy me would never have done) and placing posts on message boards. I did wait for a year to subscribe to Ancestry because I wanted to make sure I was going to stick with this new obsession before I invested my money.

Ancestry paid off, and this encouraged me to subscribe to Footnote and Genealogy Bank as well, which have also paid off.

Even the free message boards and search sites that you have to sign up for represent an investment - an investment of time. I still get responses from message board posts that I wrote four or five years ago.

So what does my little “real estate empire” look like?

Well, there is Ancestry itself. I have made a lot of corrections and a number of comments over the years, and there have been a few people who have contacted me through those. Recently I began to create and develop Public Member Trees. Often the “sharing of information” through these trees goes one way: people use the information but do not contact the owners. But there have been a couple of nibbles there so far.

Then there are the message boards. I have posts both on the Ancestry/Rootsweb message boards and on GenForum. This is an area that probably needs some updating and additional work, however. It’s a good idea to repost on families of particular interest, especially when we have new information that might provide the necessary clue to other researchers that our families are connected. And I know that I do not have posts for all my families.

Google searches have landed me on several “minor” message boards where I have found contacts and left messages for people to contact me. One of these contacts was able to provide me with some very interesting information on what happened to one of my Floyd lines. A number of GenWeb sites still have their own message boards (or at least archives of them) in addition to the Rootsweb message boards that they usually link to. I have put up “Post-its” on Rootsweb WorldConnect genealogies. There are mailing lists that you can subscribe to, though many of these have been swallowed up by the big message boards.

On Footnote I have tried to create pages for quite a few individual ancestors, even some for whom I have found no documents on Footnote so far. This has paid off with one contact up to this point, but the contact was a major one for me: my Moore-related cousin Paula, who identified her ancestor Freeman Manson Moore as another son of my ggg-grandfather Samuel Moore and with whom I shared a genealogy research trip in Greenville, South Carolina.

I have not discovered yet whether there is a way to have a “presence” on Genealogy Bank, but I have been sharing my finds there with fellow researchers (most, but not all of whom are cousins) to keep the lines of communication open with people with whom I have had productive research collaboration.

And, for all of the initial criticisms of GenealogyWise and the retreat from the early over-hyping of the site, it has paid off to have a presence there. There was Mary Lou Benjamin, the Fichtelmann contact (and this alone would have made joining GenealogyWise worthwhile). There have also been a couple of other people who have made some initial contact that has not been followed up, but who knows? In addition to the page I keep on GenealogyWise, I have added my names of interest to several surname and geographical area groups on the site. This is something else that I should probably update in the near future.

Findagrave is another website that provides opportunities for connecting with other researchers. As some genealogy bloggers have reported, there is also the potential for “turf battles.” In the case of most of the pictures I have been able to take of ancestor graves, there are already at least text entries on Findagrave (but at least I can add the pictures) and often there are already pictures as well.

Some other small pieces of real estate are the surnames lists kept by two of the genealogy societies that I belong to (Fairfax Genealogical Society and Collin County Texas Genealogical Society). One actual “physical” piece of real estate would be a couple of articles I wrote for the Anderson County South Carolina Heritage Book. I would like to do a few more things alone these lines as well.

Then there is the showpiece of my genealogy real estate: this blog. While Greta’s Genealogy Bog has developed into something well beyond my original intentions in terms of purpose, the main purpose continues to be to attract fellow researchers to get in touch with me.

The blog is the piece of real estate that requires the biggest investment of time from me, although I can leave it alone for periods of time and old posts on families will still pull in contacts. I chose the Blogger platform based on the priority that it is given in Google searches. I can confirm that this blog is the single largest and most successful piece of “cousin bait” I have (and imagine that most of my fellow genealogy bloggers have similar results to report). As with any piece of real estate, we probably get more “nibbles” than we do “buyers,” but even some of those nibblers have dropped interesting and useful tidbits even as they munched the free food that was offered during the open house.

One of the really surprising and gratifying aspects of having a blog is that many people who are not related to me have responded or written to me with information and advice that has been very helpful in my research. Sharp-eyed fellow genealogy bloggers have spotted mistakes in location names (hi, Debbie and Janice!), done lookups for me (hi, Cynthia!), pointed me to obscure but useful websites, and much more. A couple of (unrelated) people who are doing research that touches on some of my families have freely shared this information.

I know that there is a lot of potential through Facebook and Twitter for making useful contacts as well. I have all three of my blogs linked on Facebook and have posted links to some of my blog articles there. However, there is a lot more that could be done. Right now Twitter is just too much to add to an already strained schedule, but recently I joined Ancestorville on Facebook and we’ll see what may turn up there.

Another “big-time” resource for generating a lot of contacts that I have not used would be family websites. The reasons? Lack of time and lack of knowledge. Some day, though.

Keeping up e-mail contact with all of these people takes time, but it has turned out to be a surprisingly successful method of turning up more information. When we haven’t corresponded for a while, it’s good to just drop them a line saying something like “How are you? Here are a few things I have found in our line recently. Anything new with you?”. This has actually produced a couple of “brickwall-breakers”! And when e-mail addresses are no longer active, I have been known to “stalk” a contact by doing a Google search on the contact’s name and the surname we are both researching to locate a newer e-mail address.

Of course, we all have to be careful to allocate our resources wisely. We only have so much time and so much money. I do know that one of my resolutions should have been (well, I’m making it now, aren’t I?) to update my online presence and renew contact with all of my fellow researchers.

There is one downside to owning and managing all of this real estate. You can be deluged with information, more information than you can handle and keep up with at times. But who ever said that the life of a real estate mogul is an easy one?

Now where is my Get Out of Jail Free card?

Diane Giannini to Speak at 27 January 2011 Meeting of Fairfax Genealogical Society

At the monthly meeting of the Fairfax Genealogical Society at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, January 27, 2011, Diane Giannini, CG, will deliver a presentation on "Researching at the Library of Congress in Your Jammies!"

The meeting will be held in the Lecture Room of the Kilmer Middle School, 8100 Wolf Trap Road, Vienna, Virginia 22182.

From the monthly newsletter of the Fairfax Genealogical Society:

"One of the best untapped and free online websites for genealogists is the Library of Congress.  This session presents the various resources which are available to researchers at the library without leaving the comfort of their home.

"Diane L. Giannini, CG, has been a professional genealogist since 2004 and received her certification in 2008.  Diane's specialty is Colonial Maryland Land Records as well as Maryland and Northern Virginia Records.   Another area of interest is migration between Virginia and Ohio.  She is past president of the Charles County Maryland Genealogical Society and is a member of Fairfax Genealogy Society and an active member of several state and local genealogical societies."

Friday, January 21, 2011

Friday Newsletter and Follow News: 21 January 2011

This Week in Genea-Blogging

The Great Epidemic

Cynthia Shenette at Heritage Zen is presenting a fascinating three-part series, “Flu 1918,” on the influenza epidemic of 1918, with a special focus on its impact on the Polish community in Worcester, Massachusetts; see Part 1 here, Part 2 here, and Part 3 here.

Doesn’t share well

The following post could be a followup to Amy Coffin’s post from last week ("Genealogy Membership: What Makes You Join?"). At The Faces of My Family, Lisa Swanson Ellam writes about why she has not joined a particular genealogy society in “Follow Friday - Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog” (she quotes the advice given by the blog’s author, Brenda Joyce Jerome, on what genealogy societies SHOULD do). What follows is a script for what a genealogy society should NOT do.

Naked avatars

Yeah, I thought that was a pretty provocative title, too. If you want to know what it refers to, you’ll have to read Sheri Fenley’s half of the Saga of the Research Buddies at The Educated Genealogist: “BBQ, Bonding and Cracking the Whip.”

What he said

One of my favorite James Tanner (Genealogy’s Star) post is one from this week, “The heart and soul of genealogy.” The last paragraph pretty much sums up how I feel about genealogy.

Dear Santa...

Tanner’s article on “Tablet computers - can you do real genealogy?” will also be of interest to anyone who needs an excuse for getting an iPad.

Lorine McGinnis Shulze also wrote on this subject in “Why Take an iPad Instead of a Laptop on a Research Trip?” at Olive Tree Genealogy Blog. More data to take into consideration in making the decision....

A recommendation to read a post and the comments on the post

The post is “Creating a Research Log - the Why and How” at Elyse’s Genealogy Blog; one of the comments, Miriam Midkiff’s, has a link to her spreadsheet in Google Docs for tracking census records.

For love or money...

At The Armchair Genealogist, Lynn Palermo throws out an interesting question: “Can I Turn My Love of Genealogy into a Career?” (addressed to readers who may have done this or are trying to do this). It will be interesting to read the answers.

Living and recalling history

Geneablogie’s Craig Manson shares “On this King Holiday, Some Personal Memories” with us, and if there is a single post you should not miss this week, this one is it.

Well, I never expected that!

Cheryl Capps Roach at Genealogy for the Family Historian writes about her answer to the question “What was the most surprising information discovered in your years of family research?” The answer is, indeed, surprising; perhaps some of you have encountered similarly unexpected information?

If you see some changes

in the instructions for contacting me and in the process for posting comments, give credit to Amy Coffin at The We Tree Genealogy Blog for really getting a discussion rolling on this subject in “Genealogy Blogs: A Comment on Comments.” And, when you read the article, check out all the comments! The subject must be in the air; Nancy at My Ancestors and Me reported on her Comments Survey this week as well.

For more suggested blog reading

Check out “Best of the Genea-Blogs” at Randy Seaver’s Genea-Musings, "Follow Friday: Around the Blogosphere” at Susan Petersen’s Long Lost, and “Best Bites for the Week” at Elizabeth O’Neal’s Little Bytes of Life.

Happy Second Blogoversary to Gini at Ginisology!

Happy Fifth Blogoversary to Miriam at AnceStories!

Happy Third Blogoversary to Mary Ellen at Threading needles in a haystack: the genealogy journey!

Happy Second Blogoversary to Liz Hall Morgan at My Big Fat Cajun/Irish/Scottish/English/German/French/Southern Family Blog!

This week I started following these blogs:

Barb’s Family History

dancing in the gardens of those gone before

Everyday Genealogy

Family Roots and Branches

Gail Grunst Genealogy


Growing Family Trees and Vegetables

Kershaw County Wanderer

Leaves for Trees

Liblady’s Genealogy Blog

Mr. Gen Wish List

Shaking Family Trees

Southern Oregon Stories

Technology Tamers

The Family History Researcher

The Scrappin Genealogist

Voices: Past and Present

Wishful Linking Family History Blog

Good news this week!

My daughter’s last final exam is on May 4. That means we’ll be going to Charleston, SC in May and I’ll be attending the National Genealogical Society conference!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Stupid Tech Question Tuesday: Links in Blogger on Firefox

Yes, I am sincere about the "stupid" part. And about the question part. And yes, I did try to find the answer - by googling and by checking on Blogger's help page and help sites. But the answers I'm finding don't seem to address the problem I'm having with Blogger on a Firefox browser. I do also have Safari, and I switch to that browser to complete posts in which this problem crops up. (I actually prefer Safari, but both browsers have different limitations that make me switch between the two. As a matter of fact, if I don't find a solution to one of my Safari problems, that will be next week's post.)

So here's the problem. When I try to do a link in a post on Blogger, a little window pops up for me to enter the URL. The idea is that I copy the URL and paste it into that little window. However, when that window pops up on Firefox, every other option on the Firefox menu at the top, including "Edit," disappears. Nor can I paste the copied item in using keyboard commands. So I usually save the post, exit, and switch to Safari.

The Firefox version I currently have is 3.6.13.

New information added on 18 January a.m.: After reading GrannyPam's comment, I decided to try the keyboard cut-and-paste option again. This time I was on my MacBook, which has both a control key and a command key - and it's the command key that is used for this function. The keyboard on my desktop computer doesn't have a "command" key, but I'll check to see if there is a key with a different label that performs this function.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Memory Monday: Shokoladka

Shokoladka was the name of the first car my husband and I owned. The name was given to her by her previous owner, a friend and colleague from work. Her family background was Russian and the little 1976 Honda Civic CVCC was brown - hence the name.

We paid $1000 for her in 1982. She had over 90,000 miles on her at the time. I learned to drive with Shokoladka in a cemetery (see “Learning to Drive in Oakwood Cemetery” at The Graveyard Rabbit of Northern Virginia).

For a few years Shokoladka was a reliable commuter car. My husband drove her the first couple of years; then I learned to drive and we bought another Civic - one of only two cars that we have ever bought new, the other one being a Stratos Blue 1986 Honda Civic Wagon (my baby for 20 years; we finally sold her for $500 in 2007).

We took a few trips in Shokoladka, mostly to New York to visit my husband’s parents. I remember one winter trip when a snowstorm whipped up right after we had started back to Virginia. The heater was not working very well, and the windshield started to frost up. My husband had to drive with the side windows rolled down and both of us looking out the side windows until he could pull over and scrape the ice off. It was so cold in the car that we could see our breath.

It was when I started driving Shokoladka that she finally started to show her age. She had more than 120,000 miles on her and began to get a bit temperamental. In the cold weather she was still surprisingly reliable (with the exception of that heater), but she definitely balked at travel during the hot summer months, often stalling from “vapor lock” when we stopped at a crossroads.

We brought her to a trusted mechanic, who told us that we should probably be looking for a new car. We were reluctant to do so (whether from sentimentality or strained finances, I cannot remember now), so he said that we could try buying a rebuilt engine for her. That is the choice we made, though why we decided to spend almost as much on that rebuilt engine as we did purchasing the car is a mystery to me.

The first rebuilt engine was a bust; it died after less than 10,000 miles. After much wrangling back and forth, we persuaded the company that sold the engine to replace it. The second engine did better, but by 1987 we realized we needed to replace Shokoladka, and that was when we bought Little Blue. We sold Shokoladka to a neighbor family with a teenage daughter for $100, having warned them that Shokoladka did not like hot summer days very much. The girl did not mind; she was thrilled with her cute little car.

As I mentioned above, I drove Little Blue for many years afterward. Even when she was well into her dotage, mechanics at gas stations would spot her and offer us money.

Our neighbors' little boy "driving" Little Blue

Our one non-Honda was a gold 1996 Dodge Grand Caravan. It gave us more trouble than all of the other cars we have ever owned combined. I remember once when I was driving my daughters home from a school event, the power steering went out just as I was turning onto a major road - scary! I managed to get the car home, and we could see that the steering fluid was leaking.

We traded the “Gold Lemon” in for an Odyssey, a reliable car that has moved tons of stuff, including my younger daughter’s harp to numerous events and my older daughter’s possessions to and from college. At some point my in-laws gave us their old 1989 Honda Civic, a little red car that has seen a lot of action, though it is also showing its age now. After selling Little Blue in 2007 we bought a 2004 Honda CRV - my new baby. My husband likes to tease me that it actually belongs to my older daughter. It’s true that I let her drive it during her senior year in high school while I drove Little Red Civic. She was one of the carpool drivers for her high school crew team, and they had a 50-mile round-trip commute to the boat house each day after school, so she needed a reliable car that could hold crew gear. We call the CRV “New Hotness” (points to anyone who can quote the movie this name comes from).

I plan on driving New Hotness forever.

(You can read about one of the cars my family had when I was growing up in “Memory Monday: Our Edsel.”)

This is the prompt for Week 3 for Amy Coffin’s series of prompts entitled 52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History: Cars.  What was your first car? Describe the make, model and color, but also any memories you have of the vehicle. You can also expand on this topic and describe the car(s) your parents drove and any childhood memories attached to it.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: Ancestral Name List Roulette

Randy Seaver at Genea-Musings has issued his latest challenge:

1) How old is one of your grandfathers now, or how old would he be if he had lived? Divide this number by 4 and round the number off to a whole number. This is your "roulette number."

2) Use your pedigree charts or your family tree genealogy software program to find the person with that number in your ancestral name list (some people call it an "ahnentafel"). Who is that person?

3) Tell us three facts about that person in your ancestral name list with the "roulette number."

4) Write about it in a blog post on your own blog, in a Facebook note or comment, or as a comment on this blog post.

5) If you do not have a person's name for your "roulette number" then spin the wheel again - pick a grandmother, or yourself, a parent, a favorite aunt or cousin, or even your children!

My maternal grandfather, Kirby Runion Moore, would be 130 years old now. Divided by four, that is 32.5. Unfortunately, numbers 32 and 33 are the parents of my great-grandfather Hiram Brinlee, Sr. - and I don't know who they are! :( (It is indicated on the 1880 census that they were both born in Virginia.)

So I tried my paternal grandfather, Lawrence Carroll Brinlee, who would be 117 years old (118 on 29 January). Divided by four, that is 29. Number 29 on my ahnentafel is my great-great grandmother Nancy E. Finley, who married George Floyd.

It’s a good thing that we only have to provide three facts, because that is about all I know:

She was born in Illinois, probably around 1816.

She died on 5 February 1864.

She is buried in Edgewood Cemetery, Lancaster, Dallas County, Texas.

Thanks, Randy.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Friday Newsletter and Follow News: 14 January 2011

This Week in Genea-Blogging

This has been an amazing week. There were tons of interesting posts; it appears that after the holidays everyone is getting back into research and blogging with renewed purpose. I’ll probably be working on this article well into the night!

Point us to the free information!

Craig Manson at Geneablogie provides a superb guide to “Finding Federal Court Records for Free (Mostly!).” I can’t wait to see what I can find!

Good advice

Valerie Craft says some things that cannot be repeated often enough in “A Few Pieces of Advice for Beginner Genealogists” at Begin with Craft. Amen, Valerie.

Please, can I have just a little bit of her talent?

Check out Jasia’s new blog, called Photograhy Gene. It’s inspired by Project 365.

The decision is in

At West in New England, Bill West has learned “The History Mystery Decision” from History Detectives.

A sad memory

Kim at Ancestors of Mine from Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky and Beyond has come up with a very touching memory for the winter theme of Amy Coffin’s 52 Weeks prompts in “52 Weeks - Blizzards & ‘The Night It Rained Tears.’”

What is extraordinary?

In “The Sagan Doctrine” (which was not actually original to Sagan), Personal Past Meditations’ Daniel Hubbard considers what constitutes “extraordinary” claims and what constitutes “extraordinary” evidence in genealogy.

Be careful with those frames

Sassy Jane at Sassy Jane’s Genealogy reminds us of the precautions that need to be taken with wood-framed family photographs in “Tuesday’s Tip: Dismantle Those Framed Photographs.”

Walking through minefields

How to handle and write about scandals and other unsavory aspects of your ancestors’ family stories is the subject covered by Emily Aulicino in “Skeletons in the Closet” at Writing Your Memories.

Don’t be lazy and spend your money wisely

Lynn Palermo at The Armchair Genealogist has a couple of very useful posts this week. First, she has some suggestions on exploiting newly acquired online documents without delay in “Tuesday’s Tip - Avoid Becoming a Lazy Researcher!” Then she provides a summary of factors to consider when making the decision on which genealogy conferences to attend in “2011 Genealogy Conferences - Who Deserves Your Money?”

Much better than waiting for the slide projector to malfunction

Tina Lyons at Gen Wish List shares her procedures for scanning slides and making a video slide show from them in “Scanning Slides and Making Videos.”

So many details to remember

In “Ready, Set, Go!” Lorine McGinnis Shulze at Olive Tree Genealogy Blog outlines her plan for several days of research at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City; her plan can serve as a helpful guide to others who plan to do research there, especially if you have never been there or have not been there recently.

More than coincidence

Why it is worth our while to read genealogy blogs, comment on genealogy blogs, and read the comments on genealogy blogs: At Nutfield Genealogy, Heather Wilkinson Rojo’s post “Not So Wordless Wednesday - The Uicker House, Derry, NH,” which touches on a house owned by one of Heather’s families (also related to a newly found cousin, who provided some photos), elicited a comment from Lucie Leblanc Consentino (Lucie’s Legacy), whose great aunt lived in the neighboring house.

Using Polish resources

All of you Polish researchers out there have probably already checked out Donna Pointkouski’s wonderful post on navigating websites that contain genealogical records and indices, but if you haven’t, check here: “Finding Polish Records Online” at What’s Past Is Prologue.

One plus one equals more than two

Another pair of genealogy bloggers have teamed up to help one another keep their resolutions; I am officially declaring this a trend! Check out “Those Places Thursday - Famous Dave’s with Sheri Fenley” at Cheryl Palmer’s Heritage Happens.

What are genealogy societies doing right and wrong?

Amy Coffin at We Tree asks the following question: “Genealogy Society Memberships: What Makes You Join?” She then describes five membership scenarios (reflecting her society memberships), and gives the reasons why she is staying with three and dropping two. A real eye-opener.

The true story behind the article

Suz at The Hunt for Henrietta found an interesting article in a “rather curious book” her mother left her. She used the genealogical research process to find the true story behind the article, and the results are, to say the least, interesting, both from the perspective of the story itself and in terms of how far it is from the version presented in the article! Read about it in "A Curious Book of Genealogical Treasures."

I’m so jealous

of Cheri at The You Go Genealogy Girls, both for her iPad and for her artistic and technical talent. She tells us about using the iPad for genealogy in “I-Pad Observations for Genealogists: The Good and the Bad.”

Good food for thought and discussion

This week Marian Pierre-Louis at Roots and Rambles has written a post I believe everyone should read: “The Reality of Genealogical Education and Skills.” This has already sparked some excellent comments and would make a good topic for continued discussion.

Speaking of topics for continued discussion,

this week’s “Open Thread Thursday” topic at GeneaBloggers is “Families on the Wrong Side of History.”

Quote of the Week

comes from Heather Wilkinson Rojo at Nutfield Genealogy: “And I thought I was just sitting at home, blowing my nose!” (You’ll have to read the post, “Paying It Forward,” to see just why this is such a great quote.)

Some of the best photos and advice of the week

“After a Storm, Check on Your Local Cemetery” at Marian Pierre-Louis’ The Symbolic Past.

Happy Fourth Blogoversary to Becky Wiseman at kinnexions! (And you should be following her series based on the words of her grandmother, Hazlette Aileen Brubaker Phend Dunn Ferguson. The first installment is here.)

For more suggested blog reading

Check out “Best of the Genea-Blogs” at Randy Seaver’s Genea-Musings, Follow Friday: Around the Blogosphere at Susan Petersen’s Long Lost, and “Donna’s Picks” at Donna Pointkouski’s What’s Past is Prologue.

This week I started following these blogs:

A Couple of Whiles

Ann’s Scraps of Time

Family History Across the Sea

Genealogy NEXT

Gol Gol Girl

Hunting Ancestors

Northeast Georgia Historical and Genealogical Society

The Misadventures of a Genealogist

The USCT Chronicle

Tomorrow’s Memories

Yankee Cousin’s Adventures in Ancestry

The Sanford Family Misfit

My Research Week

Research has been progressing slowly but steadily; I am satisfied with this because I think that I am doing things more carefully and thoroughly. Part of this is due to my switch to the laptop, which has a much cleaner “desktop” than my desktop computer. The desktop was the computer I had when I started genealogy, and for that reason there is a lot of “stuff” on it. The “clean desk” environment helps me to focus on the task at hand instead of being distracted by the various folders, files, and stickies. When I need a document for a family, I just mail it to myself to be downloaded on the laptop.

A new element this year is that I am follow a weekly To Do List, which is modest in scope and is centered on “next steps” and “what is still missing and what needs to be searched” for a particular family. My project for gradually entering data from my Reunion program in Ancestry trees, citing sources and cross-checking them, is also helping to fill out the data and make source citation more consistent.

Using this system, I will be working on three major projects this year: data entry for my Brinlee great-great grandparents, transcription of court records and newspaper articles relating to my Floyd family and searches for additional articles on them on Genealogy Bank, and transcription and exploitation of the documents I obtained on the Moore family during my research trip to Greenville, South Carolina.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Memory Monday: Winter

When I was growing up in Southern California and Texas, I would have given an arm and a leg to have snow in the winter. Well, maybe not. You can’t make a decent snow angel with only one arm and one leg.

And making snow angels was definitely an experience I wanted to have. And throwing snowballs. And building a snow fort.

But San Bernardino is in a desert. And northeast Texas is something worse. Winters are mild, which suits most people’s preferences, I guess. But I felt deprived.

Once in San Bernardino when I was growing up it snowed. The flakes melted as they hit the ground.

We got an ice storm in Texas one winter. It created a frozen layer over the ground. No one could walk anywhere for a couple of days, because you could not even stand up on the slippery ice.

My brother Don and I got to experience snow a couple of times when Mom and Dad took us to Big Bear Lake. I can remember two things from those trips: throwing snowballs and altitude sickness.

I applied to only two colleges, one in Texas and one on the East Coast. When I was accepted at both, I chose to attend the one out on the East Coast, because I figured it would have more interesting weather.

It did. During my first semester at Georgetown, we had a big snowstorm in October. Heaven. I could not stand to go inside to study. It was just too much fun, too exciting. All of my East-Coast-born-and-bred college friends laughed at me, but I think they secretly enjoyed it all, too.

I decided to go to graduate school in the Northeast, and the weather there didn’t disappoint, either. As a matter of fact, I was there during the Blizzard of 1978. Bob Ryan, then a weatherman for the Boston area, predicted that we would only get a “light dusting” of one to three inches. I, the Snow Amateur, went outside to look at the sky. It looked heavy, really heavy; there was no way we were going to avoid a Major Storm. I went to the local grocery store to stock up on food. That night the area got between 27 and 36 inches of snow, which formed deep banks in places as the result of high winds. After taking a vote (!?), the powers-that-be at Harvard decided that classes would actually be canceled for a few days. I became acquainted with the pleasures of winter hibernation.

Because we live in the mid-Atlantic area, my daughters have grown up with the Joy of Snow. They experienced the Blizzard of ’96 and, more recently, Snowmagaddon. People with young children learn something about snow-enforced hibernation: Cabin Fever. A couple of days after the snow had finally stopped, my husband and the dad of my daughters’ friends across the street dug a tunnel connecting the two houses. The next day two other dads of friends dug connector tunnels into that. We credit the survival of our children and our sanity to those tunnels and the opportunity they provided for our kids to visit, play, and run off some steam. It didn't hurt that we were within dig-out distance of a 7-11 Store, either.

Daughter B and a neighbor after a snowfall in the early 1990s

Daughter E after the Blizzard of ’96 with a bucket-and-holly snowman

We also learned that our street never gets plowed by the DOT. That is, not until after our neighbor’s friend is able to get here with his plow and do a darn creditable job clearing our residential street. Then the DOT plow shows up and, without clearing a speck of snow off of the middle part of the road, pushes the big piles we have made back into our parking places and in front of our newly cleared driveways.

In between the two storms that formed Snowmageddon out here in the mid-Atlantic, I did the unthinkable: I drove my husband to the airport. What was I thinking? Why had I abandoned my sanity? It was, in fact, one of those times that I knew I owed my husband a Big Favor. And that is the last time I will ever do that. I delivered him and I got home safely. It helps a lot when it’s just you and the Department of Transportation out there. Because Everyone with Half a Mind Is Smart Enough to Say Off the Roads. Did you know that driving down a curving, sloping onramp onto an interstate after a big snowstorm brings many of those same thrills that one gets on a roller coaster? White knuckles optional.

The view from our back porch after the first snowfall of Snowmageddon

Even at my arthritic age, driving in the snow is still probably the only thing that does not please me about winter and snow. Winter is for play, for sinfully long winter naps, and for hearty soups and more coffee than is good for you.

This is part of Amy Coffin’s (We Tree) series of prompts entitled 52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History. When the subject is not one covered in a previous Memory Monday posting, I will try to sync the topics with my Memory Monday posts this year.

This is the prompt for week 2: Winter. What was winter like where and when you grew up? Describe not only the climate, but how the season influenced your activities, food choices, etc.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Friday Newsletter and Follow News: 7 January 2011

This Week in Genea-Blogging


In “Second-Hand Memories,” Nancy at My Ancestors and Me shares some perceptive reflections on the role of second-hand memories in our experience of our ancestors and their lives. A wonderful windup to the old year!

True Confessions

iPhoto is my picture application and I’m almost a total illiterate in using it. I mean, I can do some basic editing and organizing functions ... but not much else. So I was happy that Denise Olson posted “Digging into iPhoto - Photo Organization” at Moultrie Creek Gazette. Her post covers basics and more refined aspects of photo organization; I can see a new goal sneaking its way into my 2011 plan: Photo organization. Thanks, Denise! I think.

Apropos of this post, Denise Levenick at The Family Curator posts about another important but little-known feature of iPhoto in “iPhoto Library Hides Photos in Plain View.”

Tech savvy plus artistically creative

A+++ to Lucie LeBlank Consentino at Lucie’s Legacy for innovative and creative use of the Flip-Pal scanner; check out “A Quick Flip-Pal Scan” and see!

A super-helpful hint

At d kay s days, dkaysdays gives one of the most basic but most-forgotten tips for success: “Tuesday’s Tip: Practice Random Acts of Gratitude.”

The glory of footnotes

In “The #1 Thing That Impacted my Research in 2010,” Marian Pierre-Louis at Roots & Rambles writes about using footnotes from journals in location-based research.

The Flying Tigers

Jennifer Holik-Urban at Family History Research has published her first book, To Soar with the Tigers: The Life and Diary of Flying Tiger Robert Brouk. I was excited to see this news in “To Soar with the Tigers is available for purchase,” since my family tree includes a Flying Tiger (a relative by marriage; his wife was part of my Moore line), Claude Bryant “Skip” Adair, and I’ll be checking Jennifer’s book out!

Amy raises the bar

Scrapbooking, digital scrapbooking, digital slide shows, and now videos as a medium to tell the family history. Check it out at Amy Coffin’w We Tree Blog in “Genealogy Videos: Family History in 3 Minutes.”

A Big Week

The 101st Carnival of Genealogy has been posted at Creative Gene!

Shades of the Departed “Out West Edition” is here!

A new blog

Check out Bill West’s new blog, The Old Colony Graveyard Rabbit.

Happy Second Blogoversary to Linda Hughes Hiser at Flipside!

Happy Third Blogoversary to Donna Pointkouski at What’s Past Is Prologue!

For more suggested genealogy reading, check out Around the Blogosphere at Susan Petersen’s Long Lost and Best of the Genea-Blogs at Randy Seaver’s Genea-Musings.

This week I started following these blogs:

It’s All Relative (I actually already followed this blog somehow but wasn’t on the Google followers thing)

Ancestrally Challenged

Beth’s Genealogy Blog

The Genealogy Biker

Life’s Journey

Lineage Fan

The Virtual Dime Museum

Value Meals on the Volga

My Research Week

I received a family picture from a Brinlee this cousin this week - a real New Year’s gift - thanks, Sandy. A cousin through the Brinlee line also contacted me this week - we’ll see what information we can share. And I’m back to Brinlee research. Slow but steady.

My new helper

... is my MacBook Pro. It’s so pretty. It’s shiny. I love it.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

The Law and Order Method of Genealogy

Genealogy people often talk about “the thrill of the hunt” and “sharpening our detective skills.”

“Playing detective” seems to be a large part of the attraction for those of us who love genealogy. Yet there is also that other aspect of genealogical research that may be either part of the attraction or a big turn-off: the scholarly aspect. You know, citing your sources, adhering to the genealogical proof standard. Yeah, that stuff.

This is how I described that combination in one of Randy Seaver’s famous Saturday Night Genealogy Fun challenges at Genea-Musings (“Why Do I Pursue Genealogy?”):

“You get to be a cross between a detective and a scholarly researcher. Sometimes you are pursuing the thinnest of clues (detective), and other times you are amassing, comparing and cross-checking, and filtering out many different pieces of information from sources of widely varying thoroughness and reliability (researcher). Depending on your mood on any given day, you can assume one role or the other, or both.”

I still do think of it this way.

However, while watching TV and doing genealogy on my new laptop the other day, I realized there was perhaps a more compatible and natural combination of vocations that might describe this dual nature of genealogical research.

We were watching “Law and Order UK,” the latest version of the franchise – you know, the one with crown prosecutors (wigs) instead of district attorneys (no wigs). And it struck me that much of what the prosecutors/district attorneys do (or are supposed to do) is that “second half” of the genealogical process. And in an ideal world, as they investigate crimes, the police detectives work closely with them to build the case.

Some of us prefer one role over the other, and some like both but may give preference to one or the other at different times. The most common problem is when research does not focus enough on the second, proof-oriented, role. However, while being scrupulous and thorough, we should not forget that sometimes it is necessary to get down and dirty, to try something off the wall or unconventional, or even – gasp! – to use Google or check online trees.

Sometimes it’s time to call that psychic.

Like the police detective, sometimes ya gotta rely on that tip line. You have to check out some places where those genies, even unsavory ones, hang out. You know which sources tend to be unreliable, so you take what they say with a grain of salt. Yeah, sometimes you let your guard down and accept something at face value that you shouldn’t have – but what mystery is not made all the more interesting by a red herring or two?

And when you think you’ve got a good case, one that will nail that ancestor/perpetrator, you take it to the district attorney.

And he tells you that won’t fly with a judge and jury. You have to have proof – maybe not beyond a shadow of a doubt, but beyond a reasonable doubt.

You have to pound the pavement some more. Get deep down into the paperwork. Maybe you won’t find anything that supports your case, but you have to be able to demonstrate at the very least that you didn’t find anything disproving your case, either. And, the really tiresome part is, you have to keep records of everything you searched, everything you found, and everything you didn’t find.

You hand it all over to the lawyers, who put it in the right order and dress it up with some fancy and, you hope, convincing words, hoping against hope that the perpetrator/ancestor will not get off on a technicality.

And then maybe – just maybe – the judge and jury will agree: “Yeah, that’s the guy.”

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Ancestor Approved Award

Last month I received the Ancestor Approved Award from Kelly at Sunny Ancestry and Jenny at Are My Roots Showing – thank you both for thinking of this blog!

Some time ago I received this award and posted the following list; however, since that time there have been a couple of additional humbling, enlightening, and surprising things that have happened, so they are appended at the end and highlighted in bold:

Surprised, Humbled, Enlightened

1. Surprised at how many family legends on the Brinlee side are true and how many on the Floyd side are not.

2. Surprised that the forbears of some of my “dirt poor dirt farmer” families were pretty well off.

3. Humbled at the generosity of distant cousins who share information and pictures and at the generosity of fellow GeneaBloggers who share information and expertise.

4. Surprised that there are so many Revolutionary War Patriots, Civil War veterans, and Quakers in my background.

5. Enlightened by the fact that most of my genealogy breakthroughs are due to stubbornness rather than any brilliance on my part (harrumph!).

6. Humbled that so many of my ancestors could persevere after losing their land, their spouses, and their children.

7. Enlightened by how much history you can learn through genealogical research.

8. Surprised to find a Dallas County sheriff and a drafter of the Texas Declaration of Independence in my family tree.

9. Surprised and enlightened by how addictive reading other bloggers’ accounts of their genealogy mysteries and research conundrums can be.

10. Humbled and surprised – no, amazed – that I am here at all, considering all the hardships my ancestors had to go through.

11. Surprised and enlightened (and hooked) by how much you can learn in a research trip.

12. Surprised and enlightened by what a great experience a genealogical society conference can be and how much the experience can be enriched by meeting up with fellow genealogy bloggers.

13. Even further humbled by meeting even more generous cousins who have shared their research and documents.

14. Surprised and enlightened that talented genealogy bloggers continue to pop up in the blogosphere.

My form of “passing it on” will be to make an extra effort to highlight new bloggers in my Friday newsletters, not just by listing them under the blogs I have started following, but also highlighting some of their posts.