Monday, May 31, 2010

EU Chooses 2014 Capitals of Culture

The EU chose its 2014 European Capitals of Culture on 22 May: Umeå (Sweden) and Riga (Latvia).  This program is currently in its 25th year and the current Capitals of Culture are Essen (Germany), Pécs (Hungary) and Istanbul (Turkey).

For more information go here.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Surname Saturday: Strassheim

My direct ancestors are in red.

1-Jacob Strassheim

+Catherine Argin

|--2-Maria Strassheim b. 18 May 1841, Eberstadt, Giessen, Oberhessen,

|    Darmstadt, Germany, d. 18 Feb 1921, Buffalo, Erie, New York, USA

+Wenzel Tross d. Bef 1900

|--3-Balthasar Tross b. 19 May 1869, Eberstardt, Hesse-Darmstadt, Germany

|--3-Elise Tross b. Abt 1876

|--3-Katharine Tross b. Abt 1877

|--3-Augusta M. Tross b. 6 Sep 1877, , , , Germany, d. 1 Jan 1939, Buffalo,

|    Erie, New York, USA

|--3-Heinrich Tross b. Aug 1875, , , , Germany

|--3-Philip Tross b. Abt 1883, , , , Germany, bur. 30 Oct 1958, Cheektowaga,

|    Erie, New York, USA

Friday, May 28, 2010

Fantastic Find Friday - Letter from a great-great aunt

One of the biggest helps in research is always information from those who researched before you.  This is a transcription of a letter I found in my grandfathers' papers regarding his grandparents.  Although some of the information was not quite correct, it helped tremendously and provided a great starting point that would have taken me much longer to get to.

Aug. 3, 1978

Dear Bob + Maryln [sic] + family,

I can't begin to tell you how much I enjoyed each and every one of you.  I really hated to leave this time.  I am holding you to your promise to come see us here.

Now, as to the dates you want on your Grandfather Casell.  His correct name on his marraige license is Marcantonio Casillo.  Born Jan. 11, 1868[.] He passed away some time in Dec. 1938.  I think he was buried at Bflo. Cemetary [sic].  They should have the exact date.  He became a Citizen of the U.S. Oct. 24, 1892, age 24.  Married Carolina Izzo, Dec. 5 1901.  She was 25 and he was age 33.  I had to have all this information when I applied for my Passport.  They were amazed that they found the record of my father's first trip to the U.S. with his dad, when he was 17.  Hope this is of some help.

My love to you all.  Keep on being understanding of your father and see that he doesn't get too lonely.

Love, Aunt Lu

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Complimentary membership for all NGS members

I just received this tremendously amazing email.  I will let you know what I think of in the next couple weeks after I try it out.

Dear Member, we've got some great news!

As part of a special partnership between the National Genealogical Society and, all NGS members will receive a complementary three-month membership to ($20 retail value).  You don't even need to enter your credit card, and the membership will not renew without your expressed permission. is a relatively new family history website, but they’ve already managed to compile over 1.2 billion records, online family tree tools, a community forum, and lots of other resources – all of which are available at no cost to you as part of your complimentary membership.  Your membership includes unlimited viewing of millions of original census and vital records. However, some services and documents provided by other companies to such as contact information reports, on-site court record retrieval and Footnote images are not free. You can obtain this information  on a fee per document basis.  NGS has a number of new members who are just beginning family history research and this gives them an opportunity to search the indexes for free and become familiar with various record groups.

So, why would donate over $170,000 worth of membership resources to NGS and its members?  Three primary reasons:

1. Give Back - Our mission at is to make family history simple and affordable. The National Genealogical Society and other non-profit groups provide valuable resources and information to the family history community, and we’re committed to supporting these efforts.

2. Get The Word Out - launched in July of 2009, and has quickly become one of the most frequently visited family history websites in the US.  Despite that, many people still don't know about us!

3. We Need Your Feedback - It's VERY important to us!

The truth is, we're just getting started in building our product.  We’ve added a lot of records and built some useful resources, but we’re most excited about the innovative tools and additional record collections we can add to help make family history simple and affordable.  As you use our product, please give us your feedback - good or bad. The more specific, the better!

The main feedback is of course: "get more data" - and we're doing just that. Already this year, we've added over 300,000,000 records, including broad access to UK Census and Vital indexes and original images.

What do you want us to add next? What other changes would you like us to make? What do you like the most? The least?

We've set up a special feedback email just for you, and we're eagerly looking forward to hearing your thoughts and

Wisdom Wednesday: Marienkirche, Rostock, Germany

Yesterday I posted some images of tombstones located inside Marienkirche (St. Mary's Church) in Rostock, Germany.

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="343" caption="Image used with CC attribution to from Wikipedia Commons"]File:Rostock St. Marien Kirche 1.jpg[/caption]

Marienkirche was Rostock's parish church from 1265 - 1531, when it became an Evangelical-Lutheran church.  It is best known for its medieval astronomical clock, built by Hans Düringer in 1472 and which calculates the date of Easter through 2017

.Top half of clockBottom half of clock

They also a beautiful bronze baptismal font that dates back to 1290.

Bronze baptismal font


Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday: Marienkirche, Rostock, Germany


TombstoneTombstone close-up: Skull with flowers coming out of the top

I took a lot of pictures of the tombstones in Marienkirche in Rostock, Germany, and will be posting them the next few weeks for Rombstone Tuesday.  They had some of the most interesting carvings I have even seen on tombstones.  The first image appears to be a medusa-type image, though that may be incorrect.  The second image is a moon and star.  The third was the most interesting to me, hence the close-up of the skull with flowers growing out of the top.  These stones date from the 16-, 17- and 1800's.  Tomorrow I will post on the history of Marienkirche.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

SNGF - Time Capsule

This weeks Saturday Night Genealogy Fun from Randy Seaver at Genea-Musings

1) Go to the dMarie Time Capsule Website -

2) Select a date in your family history that you want to know about. You might pick a birth date or wedding date of your parents or grandparents.

3) Enter the date into the search form, and select the news, songs, toys, books and other things that you want to feature.

4) Share the date, why you picked it, and the results of your Time Capsule study on your own blog, in a comment to this post, or in a comment or post on Facebook.

I chose 26 January 1869, the day my great-great grandfather Jacob J. Gress was born.

Top headlines were:

Feb 2 - James Oliver invents the removable tempered steel plow blade   Feb 3 - Booth theater at 23rd & 6th opens in New York NY (Romeo & Juliet)   Feb 6 - Harper's Weekly publishes 1st picture of Uncle Sam with chin whiskers   Feb 15 - Charges of Treason against Jefferson Davis are dropped   Feb 19 - US Assay Office in Boise ID authorized   Feb 20 - Tenn Gov W C Brownlow declares martial law in Ku Klux Klan crisis

The president was: Andrew Johnson

Other people born that day are:

1948 - Corky Laing rocker (Mountain)
1880 - Douglas MacArthur Little Rock AR, General of the Army (WWII), he did return!
1925 - Paul Newman Cleveland OH, racer/popcorn mogul/actor (Hud, Hombre, Hustler)
1928 - Eartha Kitt South Carolina, singer/actress (Catwoman-Batman)

This is a really interesting and useful site, particularly if you are writing a book or report on a family member.  The information from their birth or marriage date really makes the history come alive.  I will definitely be using this more in the future.

Friday, May 21, 2010

52 Weeks to Better Genealogy - Week #20

Amy Coffin at the We Tree blog is challenging bloggers to become better genealogists, with a new prompt each week through her 52 Weeks to Better Genealogy:

Week 20: Play with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Government Land Office (GLO) Federal Land  Records web page. This is a great resource. Your task this week is to explore the land patents and land surveys sections. Input some search terms and see what pops up. Don’t be afraid to click links and see what happens. You’ll be surprised by what you find. Genealogy blog authors can share what they find from this site on their blogs.

I have never been to this site before.  There are no land patents for NY, so I searched the surveys for Erie Country, New York and looked at the one result of the Cattaraugus Indian Reservation.  The image is pretty cool.  I remember when I worked at a real estate law firm I always liked looking at the survey and trying to figure out where the house or land was located in our town.  This weeks challenge reminded me of my goal to work with deeds and other land records, as I have never done so for genealogy.  Hopefully I will be able to do that in July in Buffalo.

Fantastic Find Friday

Thank you for finding my improved, new URL today! I think all my blogger friends are some of the best finds out there. Bloggers, particularly genea-bloggers in my experience, are some of the most helpful, encouraging, interesting people out there. My finding all of you from writing blog posts and reading your blogs means more to me than I can tell. I tremendously appreciate you following me to this new site, as I know what a hassle it can be. I promise it will be worth it!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Important New URL Announcement

Hi everyone,
I know I have been rather quiet on the blog recently and I wanted to let you know I haven't disappeared!  I have been thinking a lot about my blogs, my future, my interests, etc. and have figured out where I really want to take this blog.  I am going to merge this with my genealogy blog.  I am keeping the library blog name  Amanda's Athenæum so that I can expand my focus beyond just libraries to my other interests of genealogy, cultural heritage, historical societies, museums, travel (particularly in relation to history and culture) and reading (again mostly in relation to history and culture), among other things.

I am very excited about this change and to really expand what I can post on and the amount of posts I do.  I hope you will continue to follow me, but understand if you decide not to do to the expanded nature of the blog.  I also am changing my host to WordPress, as they offer some features I am very excited for.  My blog will now be at:  All of my old posts from this blog will be accessible there.

I will begin updating it there tomorrow.  Thank you and I am sorry for the inconvenience of updating your blog reader.

Monday, May 10, 2010

1847 - 1849 New York State Vital Records

Fellow New York State researchers, this was posted yesterday on the New Horizons Genealogy Blog:
"New York State enacted a law in 1847 to require school districts to record Vital Records including birth, marriage and death records within their districts. However, some areas completely ignored the law and others adhered to it, but generally did not keep complete records, even for the years that were recorded. Unfortinately this law was terminated in 1849. 

New Horizons Genealogy is working on locating and transcribing these records and posting them to our website. We have also linked to most of these vital records found on other websites in an attempt to make this the most complete of a collection as possible.

These 1847 - 1849 New York State Vital Records may be found here: 1847 - 1849 New York State Vital Records

This is an on going project and we are adding new records every week, so if you don't find what you are looking for, keep checking back."

Sunday, May 9, 2010

SNGF: Matrilineal Line

This weeks Saturday Night Genealogy Fun for Mother's Day from Randy at Genea-Musings.

1) List your matrilineal line - your mother, her mother, etc. back to the first identifiable mother. Note: this line is how your mitochondrial DNA was passed to you!

2) Tell us if you have had your mitochondrial DNA tested, and if so, which Haplogroup you are in.

3) Post your responses on your own blog post, in Comments to this blog post, or in a Note or status line on Facebook.

1. Mine is:

  1. Me, Amanda
  2. My Mom
  3. My Grandma
  4. Vera Julia Gress (1900 - 1976)
  5. Elizabeth Fink (1867 - 1957)
  6. Barbara Fleeman (1846 - 1929)
  7. Barbara Griss (1824 - 1870)
2. I have not done this, but am looking into it.

Happy Mother's Day

My baptism with my mom and both grandma's (and my dad and both grandpa's)

Happy Mother's Day!  Particularly to my mom, grandma's, almost-mother-in-law, Godmother's and stepmother.  I am blessed with a lot of moms:-)

Back to Basic: July

July went quick! GRIP  went virtual! I attended (most) of the sessions in Documentation and then continued my citation work with my ProGen a...