Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Happy Dance: Getting Hooked on Genealogy, Part 3

"The Happy Dance. The Joy of Genealogy. Almost everyone has experienced it. Tell us about the first time, or the last time, or the best time. What event, what document, what special find has caused you to stand up and cheer, to go crazy with joy?”

I’ve had many occasions to do the genealogy happy dance in the short time I’ve been doing genealogy. They have ranged from quiet triumph to sheer ecstasy and a glow that has lasted over several days. If genealogy is an addiction like drugs, then someone has been passing me the hard stuff.

As the subject of this post I have chosen the first time I did that dance (actually, the first several times – it was an exciting week), and this actually dovetails with Part III of my series of posts on “Getting Hooked on Genealogy.”

Taking my cue from the amount of information I was able to turn up just by googling Brinlees, I tried to see what I could find on the names mentioned in Cousin Eunice’s History of the Floyd Family. By combining key phrases, place name, etc. with personal names, I was able to find quite a lot to extend the known lines into some families that already had been the subject of serious research as well as biographies of some of my ancestors who were Cumberland Presbyterian ministers. This was all extremely interesting and intriguing, but I cannot say that it inspired me to do the Happy Dance. I was simply finding research that had already been done (which is, of course, an important component of genealogical research, but … not as exciting as original research).

But I began to notice something. All of this information was on my mother’s mother’s family. When I looked for information on my mother’s father’s family, there was only one piece of information: a partial name for his father (my great-grandfather) - ? Perrin Moore. His first name was not even known. There was something sad and troubling about this. I realized that I believe that everyone deserves to be remembered and that it bothered me that this was all that was remembered of Perrin Moore.

This was still at the very beginning of my research, when everything I knew about genealogy could be fit into a thimble with room to spare. It would be a year before I subscribed to Ancestry and I didn’t know about Heritage Quest; I was just becoming aware of Rootsweb, GenWeb, and genealogy discussion boards and was still relying mostly on Google.

And Google came through for me again. I don’t remember what the exact combination of terms was, but it led me to a GenWeb site, Jim Wheat’s Dallas County Texas Archives, which contained a transcription of the death certificate for Harlston Perrin Moore, who had died on 12 December 1921 in Lancaster, Dallas County, Texas. My mother’s family had come from this part of Dallas County. There was a rush as the realization hit me: This was “my guy.” And the death certificate provided the names of his parents, Spencer Moore and Emily Tarrant. For the first time, I jumped out of my chair and pumped my fists in triumph.

The euphoria lasted for about a week, during which time ignorance of research resources and techniques kept me at a standstill, but when I finally figured out how to use that little search box on the genealogy discussion boards (Moore may be an awfully common name, but Harlston and Perrin are not), I found two other researchers who were interested in that family. Second Happy Dance! (“Oh, yeah! Oh, yeah!”) They had his siblings and the location of the family (South Carolina – suddenly I remembered a long-forgotten statement made by my mother, “Our people are from the Carolinas”), but they did not know his mother’s maiden name. Because I did know, I had something to contribute! I would write to them and … then I noticed that the posts were dated around 2000-2001. Would their e-mail addresses still be any good? With trepidation I wrote to them. I received a reply from my third cousin Jo Ann the next morning – she was as excited as I was – and from Kim, who does research on Anderson County SC families – a few days later. Our exchange of correspondence was fast and furious, and from that point there was no turning back.

Finding Harlston Perrin Moore led to the first Happy Dance, and finding his family and fellow researchers made me realize that the first discovery was not a fluke, that I had only scratched the surface of easily available resources for family research, and that it is possible to use these resources to find out an astounding amount of information on our ancestors. This was the point at which I was well and truly hooked.

(65th edition, Carnival of Genealogy at kinnexions. Poster courtesy of footnote Maven.)

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Wordless Wednesday: Grandma Brinlee, Randy, and Bud

This is a picture of Grandma Sallie Brinlee with her grandsons Randy and Bud Rice. They are sitting on the porch of Grandma's farm in Fannin County, Texas. Based on the boys' apparent ages in the picture, I would guess that it was taken in 1954.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Tuesday Tips: Navigating World War I Draft Registration Cards

Although I’m sure I’ll be playing the role of Captain Obvious in pointing out the following, I just noticed something the other night while examining a World War I Draft Registration Card on Ancestry. I have used this Ancestry database quite a bit, but never paid attention to the fact that you can navigate back and forth from card to card on this database just the way you can from one census page to another on the census image databases. After noticing the “back” and “forward” arrows and the fact that there were 800+ images in this particular section of the database, I became curious and used the arrows to see where they would take me. And they took me to other young men with the same last name, in alphabetical order, who lived in the same area (in this case, Greenville County, South Carolina). It was a “Duh!” moment. While I almost always check for these Cards for men in my family tree who were in the proper age range, I never thought of using the family name grouping to find additional family members and make sure I had found all the cards for a family that I could, regardless of how their given and middle names might appear.

Something I have done to make transcribing the cards easier is to have the blank form questions (three forms in all – A, B, and C) in a word document that I can quickly copy into my genealogy program or another document so that only the answers have to be filled in to complete the transcription.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Aunt Joy

Mattie Joy Campbell Moore, 2 August 1914 – 24 December 2008

Last week I received a letter from my Cousin Joan on the death of her mother, Mattie Joy Campbell Moore – my Aunt Joy. We Moore cousins have known for some time that this would not be too far off, as Aunt Joy was 94 years old and getting progressively weaker. But this did not make it easier for us to hear the news.

When my family was going through difficult times, Aunt Joy and Uncle Howard took me into their home, gave me stability, and helped to raise me – providing not only the physical necessities but also a positive influence on essential aspects of character formation. And Aunt Joy was actually responsible for my choice of profession.

I don’t know what inspired her to do it, but somewhere she got the idea of taking me (14 years old at the time) and her 10-year-old grandson Allen, who was staying with us at the time, to see Sergey Bondarchuk’s 1967 movie version of Tolstoy’s War and Peace. The movie was in Russian with subtitles, about seven hours long and divided into two parts shown a week apart, and it had long battle sequences and intellectual conversations. Allen and I were absolutely entranced by it. We spoke of little else during the week in between the two installments. Would Pierre and Natasha get together? What would happen to Prince Andrey? (Obviously, we had not read the book and did not know the ending.) Soon after this I did read the book, and four years later I went off to study Russian at Georgetown, where I met my husband; and a few years after that I became a translator. Thank you, Aunt Joy.

Aunt Joy was married to my Uncle Howard Moore, my mother’s oldest brother. Uncle Howard was known among local music circles as a highly talented maker of violins (even though he was technically an amateur, as it was not his main profession), and he and Aunt Joy would take me to old-time fiddling festivals and meetings of the Southern California Old-Time Fiddlers’ Association, where they served as officers. That left its mark on me, too – I have an awesome collection of fiddling music from around the world.

Some of the best times I remember with Aunt Joy involved making our favorite dessert, “Boozy Fruit Salad” (fruit, whipped cream, coconut, and a liberal splashing of Amaretto). From her I learned one of the most enjoyable treatments for a really bad cold – a hot toddy.

Aunt Joy was a petite woman, but she could be intimidating and ferocious. She could also laugh uproariously at anything and everything, including herself. She taught me good manners, self-reliance, a little bit of humility, and frugal and industrious habits (or tried to, at any rate). I admit at times I must have seemed a hopeless case. But I couldn’t help but be influenced by her philosophy of life: be strong and don’t let life get you down. This helped her rise to the top professional ranks during years she worked for the telephone company. She was one of those people who was meant to lead.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Lessons Learned Sunday: Keeping Up with Correspondence

The other day I got a wake-up call. It came in the form of an e-mail from a distant cousin inquiring to find out whether I was still working on our common line, the Moores, and also asking for a current e-mail address for another distant cousin. It just so happened that I actually had started back to work on this line and was in the process of completing a compilation of the descendants of our common ancestor. I was working on the last group of these Moores, which consisted of the descendants of this gentleman’s (and the other cousin’s) grandfather. I realized I had really dropped the ball on this project. Not only should I have gotten in touch with these Moore cousins immediately, I should have been keeping in touch. For one thing, they can provide me with information on their lines. For another, the cousin who contacted me had changed addresses (and I had to scramble to find the other cousin’s addresses and figure out which one is still good). Finally, and perhaps most importantly, some of my cousins on this side who have been following this research are elderly, so I cannot take them for granted.

One of my mistakes was to underestimate these cousins’ level of interest in this research (turns out both are very interested). The other mistake, however, was letting my correspondence records fall into disarray. I know there are various systems for keeping track of correspondence and that many professional genealogists have some pretty sophisticated and complete systems. However, I believe that even the keen amateurs should have some sort of correspondence records system. For many researchers corresponding with family members, fellow researchers, experts in relevant fields, providers of services, etc. is a vital component of their research.

Instead of a single correspondence log, I keep separate logs in the front of the binder for each family and subject. This now includes a list of the e-mail address of my correspondents (and sometimes snail-mail address for those with whom I exchange hard copy materials as well as telephone numbers for those people with whom I have occasional “Texas telephone calls”), as well as a list of people that I want to contact at some point (mostly posters on genealogy discussion boards). It also has copies of a lot of my e-mail correspondence with them (sorry to those of you who believe in paperless offices – paranoia born of a long, pathetic history of losing e-mail that exists solely in electronic form has led to this state of affairs). What I need to add to these are copies of some of my own e-mails dealing with research; some of these e-mails, lost in the aforesaid pathetic history, could provide a lot of blog material with very little alteration, and being the lazy person I am, that thought really makes me cry. The other addition that is needed is an actual log of correspondence with dates. I could do this in purely chronological order, but I prefer to have a separate section for each correspondent. This would make it easier to notice when I have not corresponded with someone for a while. While this amount of detail might not be necessary for less-active family lines, I think it is essential for the major areas of research. And finally, make sure that main list of contacts is always fully up-to-date, which may include noting which e-mail addresses no longer work.

I hope to include “Lessons Learned Sunday” as a semi-regular feature on my blog. You will notice that I included my own experience (read: mistakes). That’s the idea. Since I have made so many mistakes in the course of my genealogy research, I figured these mistakes would provide plenty of fodder for blog articles and, I hope, help a few people.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Late Night Genealogy

Is it just me, or does a disproportionate amount of genealogical research get done late at night – maybe not the “wee, small hours of the night,” but at the end of the day, when you’ve put in a day’s worth (or two if you are a stay-at-home mother, work and take classes, etc.) of work and are tired and not at your sharpest? I’m sure there are people who get a significant amount research done during the day; this is probably the case with professional genealogists, but do they end up pushing their own family research back until after they’ve done their clients’ work?

In my case, during the work week, it is a good day when I’ve been able to devote half an hour to research, and that often comes at about 10:00 at night. At 10:30, as my eyelids start to droop and I can tell my brain is getting sluggish, I reluctantly have to stop my research for the day. It occurs to me that the quality of my research, i.e. thoroughness, soundness of conclusions, and so forth, may be suffering. Is that why I have so many strange handwritten notes everywhere that I can’t figure out the next day, let alone several weeks later?

Even on weekends, a good chunk of quality research time can be hard to find. That dust I can see on my bookshelves is calling to me. The cats want to play. My daughter needs a ride. Four hours of solid research feels like an awesome accomplishment.

And I really, really mean to finish this post, but, um, you know … it’s getting late and, um, … zzzz

Friday, January 23, 2009

The Strangest Thing Happened Last Night

Last night when I pulled my blog up on the laptop that I work on downstairs, the format didn't look quite the way it usually does. There was a darkish banner at the top and the words "ob-scene content" appeared. I was mystified. This is my blog: to say the content is innocuous is probably an understatement. Everything seemed slightly off and when I clicked on the list of "Blogs I Follow," the blogs were brought up in feed form, not as the regular blogs. I thought perhaps some sort of mischief must have been involved, so I switched to another browser. Everything seemed to be OK there, and the blog appeared as normal on my main computer in my home office.

The event bothered me all day at work, and I started to think: What was different; what could possibly be construed as obscene? For one thing, I realized that I had not used the laptop since the weekend and I had posted my last article (the one below, "Visiting with Grandma Brinlee") using my regular computer on Monday. I also remembered that the laptop is an old family computer and that the last two "owners" were my two daughters - and we had probably put some sort of screening program on the browser.

The only difference was the article. I am not sure if my conclusion is correct, but I think it is this: I had used a word which can mean "chewing tobacco" but can also mean a terrible type of movie, one which is not appropriate for anyone of any age, let alone children. I changed the wording of the article and am having no problems on either computer. But I am totally paranoid now, and I can empathize with Randy Seaver, who could not access his own blog at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City as described here.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Memory Monday: Visiting with Grandma Brinlee

I must have first “met” my father’s mother, my Grandma Sallie Frances Norman Brinlee, when I was just a baby, since my parents moved back to Texas from Pennsylvania when I was about 10 months old. However, we only stayed in Texas for a few months and then moved out to Southern California to live, and there are only three occasions that I remember visiting with Grandma Brinlee.

The first was a Christmas visit, and that trip to Texas must have been in December 1962. On the way we visited a cousin of Dad’s (Archie?) in New Mexico, followed by a stay with my mother’s sister Irene in Seymour, and then we stopped in the Dallas area to visit my father’s oldest brother, Girdion. From there we made our way to Grandma’s farm, where she lived with another of my Dad’s brothers, Leroy. Uncle Leroy would take me out with him when he went to feed the animals and he let me pet one of the calves. Grandma had two dogs, one of which was supposedly half wolf. The wolf-dog didn’t appear too intimidating, but we nevertheless kept our distance. There was a goat in the yard who liked to butt people who got too close. I wasn’t taking any risks on that score, either.

Grandma’s farm did not have many conveniences; I believe it did have electricity and well water. There was not even an outhouse. There was a stream bed. My mother took this in good humor, but we made a lot of jokes about it.

Grandma made her own butter, which she finished off using a mold (I think) with a daisy-like pattern. She served this with delicious biscuits. We had fresh eggs from Grandma’s chickens.

One of the aspects of the visit I liked most was that I got to help Uncle Leroy cut one of the trees on the farm to use as a Christmas tree. Then we made popcorn and strung it to use as a garland and fashioned other ornaments from chestnuts (or something like them) and the silver paper from cigarette packs (my parents and most of the Brinlees were heavy smokers; I seem to remember we had plenty of these homemade ornaments to put on the tree). Aunt Evangeline also came to visit, and was already suffering from the emphysema that would contribute to her death a couple of years later.

A few years after this trip Grandma flew out to visit us in California; my parents started calling her the “Globe-Trotter.” She came with another lady; I believe this was her sister Mollie. The thing that amazed and fascinated me was that they were both users of chewing tobacco and at most times had a “chaw can” with them. I had not noticed it so much during our trip to Texas, but during this visit it dawned on my that Grandma had a rather abrupt demeanor; she expected obedient behavior and could make some pretty caustic comments of disapproval. Many years later, after both she and my mother had passed on, I found and read some letters she had written to my mother after my father’s death. My parents had divorced before my father died, but these letters to my mother revealed a much more tender side of my grandmother’s personality than I had ever seen. She confided her fears about her poor health and inquired about how I was doing in college. She signed off with “I love you very much.” I believe the grandmother we saw was the stoic woman who had led a hard life, the one who inspired a little fear in her grandchildren, but there was a lot more to her than that. She apparently had an inquiring mind – she had started some family research some years before but, as my father and Uncle Bill noted, “got disgusted with finding so many horse thieves” and such, so had given it up. (Grandma was a Norman, but I haven’t found any Normans so far who fit that bill; however, there were definitely Brinlees – my great-great grandfather and his brother -- who were tried for crimes, but as far as I know they were not tried for stealing horses. They were tried for murder. More on that later.)

The last time I saw Grandma Brinlee was right after my graduation from high school. By this time I was living with my mother in Baylor County, Texas. Early in the morning after the graduation ceremony, my father drove me to Grandma’s farm. Grandma’s graduation present to me was a large, fluffy bath towel. There were several uncles there as well, so the Brinlees spent the day talking. Fortunately for me, Uncle Lewis had brought his son Wayne, who was close to me in age and intellectual interests. We had never met before, but we also spent the day in pleasant conversation. By the end of the day, almost everyone had left; even Grandma got tired and went to bed. Only my Dad and Uncle Windy were left. Uncle Windy had had cancer and appeared to be in fragile health. Still, he and my Dad managed to stretch out their good-byes for at least an hour or two. “I hope you don’t mind too much,” my Dad said. “This may be the last time Windy and I get to see each other.” I was getting a little tired and impatient, but I just nodded. Later I was glad I had not rushed to pull my Dad away. Uncle Windy lived another 20 years, but my father died the following November in an automobile accident.

How many times has each of us wished that we had listened to our relatives’ conversations a little more closely and asked them more questions? I could have asked Grandma about her family research or my Dad and his brothers about their service in the various branches of the armed forces. Only the youngest Brinlee brother, my Uncle Bill, is left. He is like a treasure to me now; I try to get him to tell me as many of his wonderful stories as he can remember when we talk on the phone. My youngest daughter even interviewed him about his service in the Navy for a project for her history class. She is very proud of him. I am hoping that my daughters will be wise enough to treasure what I took for granted.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Memory Monday: My Playhouse

I do not remember having a lot of toys when I was a little girl. My family was poor, and even buying paper dolls was something that could only be done on rare special occasions. I learned to get more mileage out of paper dolls from one of our teen-aged neighbors, who taught me how to draw new clothes for them by tracing around a paper doll’s figure. Many of the things that inspired my imagination were to be found outdoors: rocks, various backyard flora and fauna, and, as a result of my father being a carpenter, some odds and ends of construction debris such as blocks of wood.

Where I made out like a bandit was in the area of anything for a kid to play in, on, or with that could be constructed from wood. When I was probably still a toddler my father built a toy box for me. It was painted red and designed to look like a circus wagon, with appliquéd animals and a fancy carved border around the top. And it had wheels and a handle, so I could pull it around. All of my toys fit into it easily. And best of all, when we lived in a house that had a deep yard with lots of open space, my father built me a play house. It was also painted red. It probably wasn’t more than 8’ x 10’, and possibly less, but it seemed plenty big to my friends and me. We would even use the extra wood blocks to mark out separate “rooms” in the house. It had a door in the middle of the front with a window on either side, and a window on each side. The back was solid. To the left was a sandy area bordered by a mulberry tree and apricot tree (this was in Southern California) where my friends and I would play variations on Swiss Family Robinson and Beach Bums (who also lived on a deserted island and built their own house; a lot of my neighborhood playmates were boys who didn’t seem to know who the Swiss Family Robinson were, so I think I just ended up saying, “Well, then, pretend we’re beach bums”).

There were a couple of times when I could not play in the playhouse; those were the two times that our German Shepard Trina had puppies. She always went to the playhouse to have her puppies and we could fix it up to keep her and the puppies warm and comfortable.

On the right side of the playhouse was our vegetable garden. When I was given a few plants of my own to take care of, I decided the playhouse would be a farm house and I was the farmer. That may have been when my love of gardening started.

On the other side of the garden was the garage-cum-workshop that my father built for himself. I can still remember him sawing and hammering wood in there while I played in my playhouse. I would go in to get whatever scraps I could to furnish my little house. To this day one of the smells I most love is the smell of newly sawed wood.

Friday, January 9, 2009

9th Edition of Smile for the Camera: Who Are You? I Really Want to Know

I have two submissions for this edition, and am equally intrigued by both, for somewhat different reasons.

First pictures: I have to give a little bit of background on this one. Anyone who has recently read either my blog or Judith Shubert's blog Genealogy Traces may have gotten a hint of a little mystery we have found. It all began when I clicked on my link for Judith's blog and the first thing I saw was the picture you will see when you click here. I had a sudden jolt of recognition. I was sure that I had seen a picture of this woman among my mother's old photograph albums that I inherited. In addition, I was aware of Judith's Texas connections, and both of my parents were from Texas. My first response was to pull the old albums out and find the picture that Judith's picture reminded of. No joy – that picture was not in there, nor was it among some of the loose pictures I had, either. But I did find a couple of small pictures that reminded me of the person in Judith's picture and those are the ones you see above. I posted them on my blog and left a comment on the relevant post on Genealogy Traces. Judith and I have been corresponding, trying to figure out who my mystery person is and whether there is a family connection. We have not been able to establish a definite connection, but there are some eerie coincidences....

Second picture: The lady in this picture appears in several of my mother's old pictures, with and without the two little boys. She also appears in one or two "line-up" pictures with my mother and her sisters and sisters-in-law. A couple of my cousins who can identify many of the people in my mother's old pictures have taken a look at these pictures and cannot identify these people. The picture appears to be dated in the early 1940s. The area was probably Bomarton or Seymour in Baylor County, Texas, although it might have been Southern California.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

My Visit to the Library of Congress

I am now the proud possessor of a Library of Congress Reader Identification Card. This last Wednesday, January 7, I was part of a group of 28 members of the Fairfax Genealogical Society which participated in guided tours of three parts of the Library of Congress: the Geography and Map Reading Room, the Newspapers and Current Periodicals Reading Room, and the Local History and Genealogy Reading Room. All three of our librarian-tour guides were excited about their collections and very generous in sharing information, particularly information they felt was relevant to historical and genealogical research, as well as research tips that would be useful in exploiting these collections to the fullest.

Three of us researchers had done some searching of the Library of Congress website beforehand and had written down call numbers for books we were interested in; in the Local History and Genealogy Room we filled out request forms and handed them in before we went to lunch so that after lunch we were able to return and use the books for a couple of hours of research. I chose Jessye Ann High’s John Finley, “Fighting Jack,” 1760-1839, and His Descendants. A John Finley of Greene County, Illinois has been cited as the father of my great-great grandmother Nancy Finley. There were two John Finleys in Greene County during the period in question, and while I was fairly certain this John Finley was not the father, I though he might be the grandfather, as the other John Finley was young enough to be his son. However, High’s book makes no mention of “my guy”; moreover, it includes John Finley’s will, which does not mention a son named John. The alternatives are: some other type of relative such as a nephew or no relation.

An exciting and relatively new (it’s in its third year) program at the Library of Congress, jointly sponsored with the National Endowment for the Humanities, is Chronicling America, “a site produced by the National Digital Newspaper Program, [which] provides free, public access to select digitized newspaper pages and a wealth of information about historic American newspapers held in libraries across the country.” You can find information on Chronicling America at and see what’s available or do a search at

Kudos to Bobbie Leamer for organizing this and other wonderful field trips; the next one is to the DAR Library.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Memory Monday: Getting Married at Dr. Maiden’s House

The other day I was thinking about the documents that my husband and I need to make sure are preserved, which led me to think about where we put our marriage license, which caused me to remember our wedding.

Brides are usually supposed to be the “stars” at their weddings. I was not the star of mine, and that was fine with me. I had never wanted a big, fancy wedding, and was happy to have as little fuss (and expense) as possible. I wore a simple white blouse, a dark skirt I had bought at a thrift shop, and a garland bought at a florist’s shop – it’s still in our freezer 26 years later. We did not arrange to have a large church wedding and reception, but opted instead for a small potluck party afterwards at a friend’s house, and when we registered at the courthouse to get a marriage license we had a J.P. assigned to marry us.

The J. P. was a 97-year-old Methodist minister named Dr. Maiden, and he was the star of our wedding. We were married at his house, which was equipped with a special automated chair on the banister of his staircase that could be used to go up and down the stairs. One of the instructions he gave to Stuart was, “Now Stuart, one of the first things you have to learn when you get married is to put your wife on a pedestal, so I’m going to have you seat Greta on this chair, which is a lot like a pedestal, and let her take a ride up and down these stairs.” I enjoyed the ride. Then we let Stuart’s 2-year-old niece Kristy take a turn.

Dr. Maiden was still very sharp and had a wonderful wit, so wonderful, in fact, that Stuart and I had to fight to keep from dissolving in giggles throughout the entire ceremony. Almost all of the pictures from our wedding show us cracking up or with huge smiles on our faces. One picture shows Dr. Maiden cracking up.

I will never forget Dr. Maiden and believe our “humorous” wedding got us off to the right start. I do not look down on the more solemn ceremonies that are more typical of weddings, and I love the beautiful ritual of the weddings we have witnessed in our church, but I believe that one of the strongest elements of our marriage has been humor and that it was appropriate for us to start our married life that way.

The 99+ Genealogy Things Meme

This meme was conceived and compiled by Becky Wiseman at Kinexxions; I suspect GeneaBloggers are going to have lots of fun with it.

The 99+ Genealogy Things Meme

The list should be annotated in the following manner:

Things you have already done or found: bold face type

Things you would like to do or find: italicize (color optional)

Things you haven’t done or found and don’t care to: plain type

1. Belong to a genealogical society.
2. Researched records onsite at a court house.
3. Transcribed records.
4. Uploaded tombstone pictures to Find-A-Grave. (Will be doing this soon.)
5. Documented ancestors for four generations (self, parents, grandparents, great-grandparents) .
6. Joined Facebook.
7. Helped to clean up a run-down cemetery.
8. Joined the Genea-Bloggers Group on Facebook.
9. Attended a genealogy conference. (Probably not until I get my youngest child out of the house - not that I'm counting down or anything...)
10. Lectured at a genealogy conference.
11. Spoke on a genealogy topic at a local genealogy society.
12. Been the editor of a genealogy society newsletter.
13. Contributed to a genealogy society publication.
14 Served on the board or as an officer of a genealogy society.
15. Got lost on the way to a cemetery.
16. Talked to dead ancestors. (Okay, who was evesdropping?)
17. Researched outside the state in which I live. (Same as #9.)
18. Knocked on the door of an ancestral home and visited with the current occupants.
19. Cold called a distant relative.
20. Posted messages on a surname message board.
21. Uploaded a gedcom file to the internet.
22. Googled my name.
23. Performed a random act of genealogical kindness.
24. Researched a non-related family, just for the fun of it.
25. Have been paid to do genealogical research.
26. Earn a living (majority of income) from genealogical research.
27. Wrote a letter (or email) to a previously unknown relative.
28. Contributed to one of the genealogy carnivals.
29. Responded to messages on a message board or forum.
30. Was injured while on a genealogy excursion.
31. Participated in a genealogy meme. (Does this one count?)
32. Created family history gift items (calendars, cookbooks, etc.).
33. Performed a record lookup for someone else.
34. Went on a genealogy seminar cruise. (The only kind of cruise I would be interested in.)
35. Am convinced that a relative must have arrived here from outer space.
36. Found a disturbing family secret. (Well, it actually wasn't disturbing to me.)
37. Told others about a disturbing family secret.
38. Combined genealogy with crafts (family picture quilt, scrapbooking).
39. Think genealogy is a passion not a hobby.
40. Assisted finding next of kin for a deceased person (Unclaimed Persons).
41. Taught someone else how to find their roots.
42. Lost valuable genealogy data due to a computer crash or hard drive failure.
43. Been overwhelmed by available genealogy technology.
44. Know a cousin of the 4th degree or higher.
45. Disproved a family myth through research. (Almost!)
46. Got a family member to let you copy photos.
47. Used a digital camera to “copy” photos or records.
48. Translated a record from a foreign language. (See article in my blog on doing this.)
49. Found an immigrant ancestor’s passenger arrival record.
50. Looked at census records on microfilm, not on the computer.
51. Used microfiche. (Soon.)
52. Visited the Family History Library in Salt Lake City.
53. Visited more than one LDS Family History Center. (Only one so far.)
54. Visited a church or place of worship of one of your ancestors.
55. Taught a class in genealogy.
56. Traced ancestors back to the 18th Century.
57. Traced ancestors back to the 17th Century. (Found others who had.)
58. Traced ancestors back to the 16th Century. (Found others who had.)
59. Can name all of your great-great-grandparents. (But I can name all of them but my Smith great-great-grandparents; see Brick Wall article.)
60. Found an ancestor’s Social Security application.
61. Know how to determine a soundex code without the help of a computer.
62. Used Steve Morse’s One-Step searches.
63. Own a copy of Evidence Explained by Elizabeth Shown Mills. (Soon.)
64. Helped someone find an ancestor using records you had never used for your own research.
65. Visited the main National Archives building in Washington, DC.
66. Visited the Library of Congress. (This Wednesday!)
67. Have an ancestor who came over on the Mayflower.
68. Have an ancestor who fought in the Civil War. (A bunch.)
69. Taken a photograph of an ancestor’s tombstone.
70. Became a member of the Association of Graveyard Rabbits. (Just last week -yay!)
71. Can read a church record in Latin.
72. Have an ancestor who changed their name.
73. Joined a Rootsweb mailing list.
74. Created a family website.
75. Have more than one "genealogy" blog.
76. Was overwhelmed by the amount of family information received from someone. (And grateful and humbled.)
77. Have broken through at least one brick wall.
78. Visited the DAR Library in Washington D.C. (Before too long...)
79. Borrowed a microfilm from the Family History Library through a local Family History Center.
80. Have done indexing for Family Search Indexing or another genealogy project.
81. Visited the Allen County Public Library Genealogy Center in Fort Wayne, Indiana.
82. Had an amazing serendipitous find of the "Psychic Roots" variety.
83. Have an ancestor who was a Patriot in the American Revolutionary War.
84. Have an ancestor who was a Loyalist in the American Revolutionary War.
85. Have both Patriot & Loyalist ancestors.
86. Have used Border Crossing records to locate an ancestor.
87. Use maps in my genealogy research.
88. Have a convict ancestor who was transported from the UK. (It's a family legend.)
89. Found a bigamist amongst the ancestors.
90. Visited the National Archives in Kew.
91. Visited St. Catherine's House in London to find family records.
92. Found a cousin in Australia (or other foreign country).
93. Consistently cite my sources.
94. Visited a foreign country (i.e. one I don't live in) in search of ancestors.
95. Can locate any document in my research files within a few minutes. (Only because I'm new enough at this game not to have piles and piles.)
96. Have an ancestor who was married four times (or more).
97. Made a rubbing of an ancestors gravestone.
98. Organized a family reunion.
99. Published a family history book (on one of my families).
100. Learned of the death of a fairly close relative through research.
101. Have done the genealogy happy dance.
102. Sustained an injury doing the genealogy happy dance.
103. Offended a family member with my research.
104. Reunited someone with precious family photos or artifacts.

Well - there are a lot of things I have not done; have to plead "being a newbie." Did have a "first" in this post - my first link inside a post - thanks Thomas and Becky!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Photo Identification

As you can see from reading the post below, I have stumbled onto a little mystery. The photos in question may not be of the same person, but my search through my mother's old photo albums has made me realize how many pictures I have inherited in which I do not know some or all of the people. In the past I have enlisted my cousins' help in identifying some other old photos through a group e-mail. I have decided to simplify the process by creating a special photo album on my Facebook page (starting with the photos below) that will eventually have all of my "mystery photographs." Several of my cousins are on Facebook, so I am hoping to get some good results from this ... or drive my cousins as crazy as these mystery photographs are driving me!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Do You Recognize This Woman?

To Judith Shubert of Genealogy Traces - might this be your grandmother? I know I have seen a photograph very much like the one you posted on your blog at My mother's name was Mandy Moore (Roberts after she married her first husband, Dock). She was born and grew up in Texas and later lived in California. Unfortunately I cannot find the actual picture that I am thinking of, but she may have been the same person as the one shown in these photos.

99 Things Meme

I found this on Terry Thornton’s Hill Country of Monroe County Mississippi.

Things you’ve already done: bold
Things you want to do: italicize
Things you haven’t done and don’t want to - leave in plain font

1. Started your own blog.
2. Slept under the stars.

3. Played in a band.
 (My high school band)
4. Visited Hawaii.

5. Watched a meteor shower.

6. Given more than you can afford to charity.
7. Been to Disneyland/world.
(Land, not World)
8. Climbed a mountain. (A small one.)

9. Held a praying mantis.

10. Sang a solo.
11. Bungee jumped.
12. Visited Paris.

13. Watched a lightning storm at sea.

14. Taught yourself an art from scratch.

15. Adopted a child. 

16. Had food poisoning.

17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty.

18. Grown your own vegetables.

19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France.

20. Slept on an overnight train.
(In Russia and D.C.-Chicago and back.)
21. Had a pillow fight.

22. Hitch hiked.

23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill.

24. Built a snow fort.

25. Held a lamb.

26. Gone skinny dipping.

27. Run a marathon.

28. Ridden a gondola in Venice.

29. Seen a total eclipse.

30. Watched a sunrise or sunset.

31. Hit a home run.
(The hit was nothing to brag about, but neither was the fielding…)
32. Been on a cruise.

33. Seen Niagara Falls in person.

34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors.

35. Seen an Amish community.

36. Taught yourself a new language.

37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied.
(Don’t want to be rich, but being 100% debt-free would be nice.)
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person. 

39. Gone rock climbing.

40. Seen Michelangelo's David in person.

41. Sung Karaoke.

42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt.

43. Bought a stranger a meal in a restaurant.

44. Visited Africa.

45. Walked on a beach by moonlight.

46. Been transported in an ambulance.
47. Had your portrait painted.

48. Gone deep sea fishing.

49. Seen the Sistine chapel in person.

50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris.

51. Gone scuba diving or snorkelling.

52. Kissed in the rain.
53. Played in the mud.

54. Gone to a drive-in theatre.

55. Been in a movie.

56. Visited the Great Wall of China.

57. Started a business.

58. Taken a martial arts class

59. Visited Russia.

60. Served at a soup kitchen.

61. Sold Girl Scout cookies.
(Was a Cookie Mom for Four Years)
62. Gone whale watching.
63. Gotten flowers for no reason.

64. Donated blood.

65. Gone sky diving.

66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp.

67. Bounced a cheque.
68. Flown in a helicopter. 

69. Saved a favorite childhood toy.

70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial.

71. Eaten Caviar. 

72. Pieced a quilt.
73. Stood in Times Square.

74. Toured the Everglades.

75. Been fired from a job.
76. Seen the Changing of the Guard in London. (Accidentally left this one out.)
77. Broken a bone.

78. Been on a speeding motorcycle.
(Thanks to my Uncle Bill.)
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person.

80. Published a book.

81. Visited the Vatican.

82. Bought a brand new car.
(Not recently)
83. Walked in Jerusalem.

84. Had your picture in the newspaper.

85. Read the entire Bible.

86. Visited the White House.

87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating.

88. Had chickenpox.

89. Saved someone’s life.

90. Sat on a jury.
(Report to jury duty, but no trial resulted.)
91. Met someone famous.
92. Joined a book club.
93. Lost a loved one.

94. Had a baby.

95. Seen the Alamo in person.

96. Swum in the Great Salt Lake.

97. Been involved in a law suit.

98. Owned a cell phone.

99. Been stung by a bee.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Help Me Name a New Blog

In preparing to launch a couple of Graveyard Rabbit blogs, I started to scout around my neighborhood and the local cemeteries that are closest to where I live, and it occurred to me that a lot of what makes the Falls Church area most interesting is being irrevocably changed by development and “improvement.” Smaller, older houses are being replaced by larger ones with less personality (not large enough to be termed McMansions – our neighborhood cannot even aspire to that socioeconomic level; we call some of them “fungushouses”), small businesses and older rental units are falling victim to the construction of grandiose condominium developments and more upscale establishments, and there are plans to straighten out curving roads that do not conform to a uniform grid.

Falls Church, or at least the incorporated City part of it, is known as a desirable place to live, with much of the population belonging to the upper income brackets. In fact, complaints were published in the local newspaper when the city’s ratings slipped due to its location in the midst of “less desirable zipcodes” (a good part of surrounding Fairfax County shares the Falls Church address while not being part of the City). As a resident of one of those zipcodes, I contend that much of the surrounding area, as well as certain less glamorous parts of the city, are actually a lot more interesting than the “hoity-toity” sections and do not need to be “beautified.” Some of the streets are actually more like winding alleys, and there are tiny parks wedged in here and there; they still exist, but development is steadily encroaching on them.

One very interesting and historic area right next to my own neighborhood is Tinner Hill, a historic black district (home to the first rural branch of the N.A.A.C.P.). There are two historic churches with their graveyards and several other landmarks. Some of the historic landmarks may be preserved, but that is not a guaranteed fate for the residential neighborhoods.

I would like to do a blog which documents this “other” part of Falls Church, but I do not know what to call it: ? Falls Church. Unpretentious Falls Church?

So here is the request/challenge: Can anyone help me come up with an appropriate name?

Will Translate for Genealogy Help

Within the short interval of three years, genealogy has become, as the blurb on this blog says, a serious obsession in my life.

But I have a day job. I am a translator. And to be honest, I am just as passionate about my job as I am about my hobby. Some days when I go to work I have to pinch myself and say, “I cannot believe I am getting paid to do what I love.”

But what is even better than genealogy or languages? Genealogy AND languages … Heaven.

This combination is something that is not going to happen much in my research of my lines or my husband’s lines. Not just because most of my lines involve Scots-Irish, English, and Welsh, because my husband’s ancestors are continental Europeans: German, Italian, and Jews from Romania. Problem is, I do not really translate German, Italian, or Romanian (well, German maybe a little bit).

Not to worry. There are a lot of other researchers out there, and some of them have ancestors from Eastern Europe. And I have been privileged to be able to help out two people so far in their ancestor research, one a co-worker and the other my husband’s cousin. For the co-worker I translated the discharge papers (from the Imperial Russian Army) of one of her husband’s ancestors, and for my husband’s cousin, the certificate of marriage of two of his ancestors (from Hungarian).

Documents of genealogical interest tend not to have complex syntax, but they do present a specific set of challenges. For one thing, the language is often archaic and the places and procedures involved may no longer exist or be practiced. The terminology is often specific to a particular bureaucratic sphere. For another thing, these documents are old and therefore possibly not in the best of shape.

In the case of Hungarian certificate of marriage, it was a copy made in 1911 of a document originally dated 1885. The copy had been folded in eight sections, and the document had started to disintegrate at the folds, so that at some point someone had felt compelled to place tape over these folds. And the tape did what tape does – it darkened with age, so that on the digital image I received by e-mail it was difficult to distinguish the text underneath these taped areas. However, because the document followed a fixed and somewhat repetitive format, I was able to guess what appeared in some of the blanks (and indicated that it was a guess in the translation notes, of course). For some partial words, especially the beginnings of the words, I could guess what the entire words were. Unfortunately, I know of no reverse sort dictionary for Hungarian (several reverse sort dictionaries exist for Russian), so guessing based on end fragments yielded little success. And there was at least one whole word that presented a problem for me: bitközség. I know that község means town, village, or community, but in this case I do not know what the affixed modifier “bit” adds to that. I did some searches, but was unable to come up with anything before the cousin brought the translation to show to relatives. Nagy Karoly, the town in question, refers both to an rtv (town with settled council) and to the jaras, or district, within which it was located and of which it was the district seat. Here bitközség would be referring to a municipality within the district.

In the case of the 1896 Russian Army discharge papers, it was the place names and unit names that were the biggest challenge: the native town of the discharged man was located in that corner of the Russian Empire which now straddles Poland, Lithuania, and Belarus. The document form was in Russian, but I could not be sure that all the handwritten entries for proper names were based on Russian names or their Polish or Lithuanian version. Three websites were particularly helpful in my search. One contained a listing of shtetls in Lithuania; this website belongs to the Lithuanian-Jewish Special Interest Group ( The other websites belong to the Polish Genealogical Society of America ( and Polish Roots ( The soldier in question was an Old Believer; this experience provided a reminder that whether an East European ancestor was Jewish or gentile, it’s always a good idea to check both Jewish and non-Jewish East European sites.

On top of all the other difficulties presented by the document, the handwriting wasn’t terribly good (a problem familiar to all of us). To compensate for this, however, the document was interesting for some of the details it provided on what was of interest to the Russian authorities: “If, when he enters active service, [name] brings his own boots with him which are at least nine vershoks in length and undergarments which are suitable for use, then upon his arrival these items may be appropriated and money will be paid to him for these items,” followed by the specific price to be paid for each type of garment.

I learned a lot from translating these documents: geographic terminology, a bit about the military bureaucracy of the Russian Empire, and Jewish marriage customs in the Austro-Hungarian Empire., among other things.