Thursday, December 8, 2011

Happy Birthday to Me:-)

Last Day as a 20-Something

I remember my 20th birthday well.  It was the last day of "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever", a show I co-directed with my friend Tom.  We had a sold out audience for both shows that day, an amazing cast, and they gave me a birthday cake on stage at the end.  I had no idea at the time how fantastic my 20s would be; beyond a doubt my favorite decade yet.

I remember random other birthdays in the past decade: 21 was a crazy night out week, one was spent in Las Vegas (24?) where I fell asleep at about 8 pm due to the time change, 25 was a co-birthday party with my friend Matt, 28 was a sad one, as my grandfather had just died, 29 was spent in the ER after I slipped on ice and sprained my ankle walking between classes.  Nearly of those birthdays faded into the shadows of my memory where I can guess the place I was and who I spent it with, but can't for the life of me know for sure (22 in Canandaigua, 23 in Oneonta, 26 and 27 in Syracuse...)

Never would I have guessed I would be so excited to turn 30 and enter that next decade.  My 20s rocked; I had more than my fair share of fun, crazy, happy times.  I am in an excellent place in my life and can see things only getting better.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Tombstone Tuesday: The Old Loyalist Burial Grounds

On the tour of Saint John, New Brunswick, we were taken to the center of the city to go to the Old City Market.  However, on the map there was mention of an old cemetery just down the block from the market.  As such, my husband and I quickly walked through the market and then headed down the block to the Old Loyalist Burial Grounds.

[caption id="attachment_1188" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Entrance to the Cemetery"][/caption]

The oldest cemetery in Saint John, it was founded in 1783 and closed in 1848.  There were a lot of people walking through it on their way to class or work.

[caption id="attachment_1189" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="There were beavers on everything, from this fountain statue to the benches.Lots of fantastic old tombstones."][/caption]


[caption id="attachment_1192" align="aligncenter" width="225" caption="I just really like this photo."][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_1194" align="aligncenter" width="225" caption="It looks as if this cemetery has the entrance straight to heaven, just head up the stairs."][/caption]

Monday, October 17, 2011

Legacy Cruise: Day 5, Saint John, New Brunswick

On the 5th day, we entered Canada, specifically Saint John, New Brunswick.  I had been very excited for this stop, as I had always wanted to see the Bay of Fundy.  This was also the only stop where we paid for an excursion put together by Royal Caribbean.   We took a 7 hour bus tour that went all over Saint John and the surrounding area.  As such, this is going to be a multi-day post:-)

Upon exiting the ship we were greeted with a rose for each woman and a pin for each man, as well as the normal maps and brochures.  We were sent right to our tour bus, which was nice considering the rain and darkness (it was earrrrrly).

[caption id="attachment_1181" align="aligncenter" width="225" caption="Such a nice welcome!"][/caption]

Our first stop was the Bay of Fundy!  We spent a lot of the tour as various points along the Bay and it was amazing to see the change.  The Bay has the highest tides in the world.  Twice a day, the tide rises so high that, at the Reversing Falls, it pushes the Saint John's River to flow backwards.  (If you think that is as cool as I do, vote for them as one of the New 7 Natural Wonders of the World).

[caption id="attachment_1182" align="aligncenter" width="225" caption="Heading down to the Bay"][/caption]

When we first got to the Bay, it was very calm, with hardly any movement.  Even in the short time we spent there (15 minutes) it was amazing to see the tide slowly increasing in movement.

[caption id="attachment_1185" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="In front of the Bay of Fundy"][/caption]

We left the Bay to head to the market, which I will discuss tomorrow:-)

Miss the other posts on the Legacy Genealogy Cruise: 29 Sept-8 Oct 2011?  Find them here.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Legacy Cruise: Day 4, Bar Harbor, Maine

Day 4 was further up the Maine coast, in Bar Harbor.  I was here on vacation about 10 years ago, so it was nice to go back.  Unfortunately, the weather wasn't great, so we didn't get to see much of Acadia Park, but it was still a fun day:-)

[caption id="attachment_1176" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Many ships to shore"][/caption]

Our ship was too large to dock at shore, so we had to board whale watching boats and take that into port.  I was nervous when I first heard this, as when I went to visit Helgoland in Germany we had the same thing.  There, they literally threw you from the big boat to a small metal speedboat.  It was much easier this time around:-)

[caption id="attachment_1177" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Acadia Park"][/caption]

We took a trolley tour around town, which included a stop at Jordan Pond.  Next time we go, we want to stop here for lunch.

[caption id="attachment_1178" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Fresh oysters"][/caption]

After the trolley tour, we wandered through the stores near the dock and then had fresh seafood for lunch.  Then it was back to the ship to sail up to Canada.

Miss the other posts on the Legacy Genealogy Cruise: 29 Sept-8 Oct 2011?  Find them here.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Legacy Genealogy Cruise: Day 3, Portland, Maine

[caption id="attachment_1168" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Carriage House at Victoria Mansion"][/caption]

Day 3 of the cruise was our first in port.  We spent the day in Portland, Maine, which is a wonderful city.  We arrived early in Portland, so we spent some time at a coffee shop near the port, relaxing and getting caffeinated for the day ahead.  Around 9:30, we headed to Victoria Mansion.  Built between 1858 and 1860, the mansion's contents are about 90% original to the first owners.  They have turned the carriage house into a gift shop, which I thought was a great use of space.  We were able to take a tour (included in the price of admission) with a very knowledgeable docent.  The taking of photographs is not allowed in the house, so I recommend checking out their website.

After our tour ended, we spent time wandering around Portland.  Eventually making our way to the pier.

[caption id="attachment_1169" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="The Berlin Wall. I have now gotten my photo taken with pieces of the Berlin wall in 3 countries on 3 continents (South Africa, Germany and USA)."][/caption]

We decided the best way to see the area of Portland was by trolley, so we took a short tour of the area.

[caption id="attachment_1170" align="aligncenter" width="225" caption="Customs House"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_1171" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="The quintessential Maine coastline"][/caption]

We followed the tour with a late lunch at Bull Feeney's Irish Pub and then headed back to the ship for a relaxing night as we sailed further up the Maine coast to Bar Harbor.

[caption id="attachment_1172" align="aligncenter" width="225" caption="Made in Maine: Shipyard Pumpkinhead Ale and Capt'n Eli's Blueberry Pop"][/caption]

Miss the other posts on the Legacy Genealogy Cruise: 29 Sept-8 Oct 2011?  Find them here.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Legacy Genealogy Cruise: Day 2 (PM)

After our lunch break on day 2, we came back to two more sessions: “managing your genealogy data” and “building a research toolbox” with Thomas MacEntee.

I think many (most? all?) genealogists have a data management problem.  It is hard for people who love the search to always sit down and put the information into notebooks and computers in an organized fashion.  "Managing Your Research Data" focused on organizing your genealogy data on your computer.  Thomas gave a multitude of ways to store your data, with the most important part being to do what makes sense to you.  I really liked his discussion on tags in Windows.  By tagging your images, both photographs and record images, you can make it easier to find the data you are looking for.  Tags I am now using include my surnames, "Census", "Military", and "Birth".

I loved the way he sets up his genealogy information, basically one big folder with files titles "Surname-First Name-Record".  For instance, I now have a file titled "Whitehead Charles William Census 1900".  This is simple, everything is easy to find, and makes it easy to remember how to name files.Thomas uses maiden names for women's documents and "unknown" for a woman whose maiden name has not been found.  I spent the rest of the trip moving files into a new folder under this naming idea and making sure all the information from them was added to my Legacy database properly (so easy to source everything thanks to this mornings session!)  After the tagging session, this was the session that most helped me out (3rd were the photo sessions by Steve Salisbury that were later in the cruise).

Next Thomas continued his recommendations on data management by gaving a presentation on "Building a Research Toolbox".  He has previously done this as a webinar for Legacy, which you can purchase.  He also has his toolbox available on his personal blog.  The toolbox is all about being able to find the websites and resources you have used in the past when you need them.  Again, it is important to use a format that you enjoy and will keep updated.  Ideas include a basic text or spreadsheet format, a note taking program, a blog or a social bookmarking site.

After classes were over, it was time to run back to the room to get ready for our first formal night.  Held in the dining room, this was a fun time to meet other genealogists on the cruise and discuss research.  The ship then sailed on to our first port, Portland, Maine.

Miss the other posts on the Legacy Genealogy Cruise: 29 Sept-8 Oct 2011?  Find them here.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Legacy Genealogy Cruise: Days 1 & 2 (Morning)

Day 1 of our cruise was spent driving to New Jersey, checking in and having a quick safety drill.  We followed this by dinner and an early bed time after a long day.

Day 2 was a full day at sea.  For me, this meant a full day of genealogy classes.  The first class, given by Geoff Rasmussen of Legacy,  was on timelines.  A key item in any genealogists toolbox, timelines give hints of how to further research your ancestor in a way just looking at a family group or pedigree chart cannot.  Looking at a chronology report can show you possible problems, such as if an ancestor had a baby at 11 (unlikely) or which piece of conflicting information looks to fit in better than another.

Looking at this piece of the chronology report for my great-great grandfather, I can see that I am missing the birth place for two of his daughters and one son.  I can assume that they were born in Buffalo looking at when the other events in his life occurred.  This gives me a starting place for research into their birth records.


 Timelines can also be interesting when you insert historical data around your ancestors life.  What happened when great-great grandpa was 7?  Using Our Timelines, a site Geoff recommended, I found out that the telephone was invented, the Battle of Little Big Horn was fought and Colorado entered as the 31st state in the Union all during the American Centenial year of 1876, which also happened to be when my great-great grandfather Jacob Gress was 7.

The timelines lecture was followed by one titled "Sources Made Simple, Standard & Powerful", also by Geoff.  He discussed why sourcing is important and how to write a good citation.  The easiest way to create proper citations in Legacy is by using the SourceWriter.  SourceWriter offers templates using Elizabeth Shown Mills' Evidence Explained.

What most excited me about this class was learning about the source clipboard.  In the past, I have gotten extremely frustrated entering the same detail information for a family of 12 in a census record.  Using the source clipboard, I can enter the information once and then easily apply it to every person in the record.  I am glad I learned about this prior to entering in all of the census records of my father's family, as they all had a lot of children, and this would have been very time consuming!

In the afternoon, we learned about "managing your genealogy data" and "building a research toolbox" with Thomas MacEntee, then had our first formal night.  I will post on these tomorrow!



Thursday, October 6, 2011

Legacy Genealogy Cruise: The Basics

We began our cruise aboard the Explorer of the Seas on Thursday, September 29th.  Lasting 9 nights and 10 nights, this cruise is through Legacy, so in between ports, genealogy classes are offered.  The ship is HUGE!  15 decks, a rock climbing wall, lots of restaurants and bars, a casino, a movie screening room, and a gym are all on board, among other things.

There are 3 days of genealogy classes and stops in Portland and Bar Harbor, Maine, Saint John, New Brunswick, Halifax, Nova Scotia, and Boston, Massachusetts.  I will post on each of these over the next week or two (depending on how many posts per day I get up and how much I separate the activities).  I will also have a giveaway mid-way through for everyone following along!






Monday, October 3, 2011

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?: Cruise Reads

Sheila at the Book Journey started the meme “It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?”.  This is my second time participating.

10 whole days of no work, just relaxing, taking genealogy classes and visiting new places means lots of time to catch up on some reading materials.  I brought the following books with me:

  • The Art of Travel by Alain de Botton

  • The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande

  • A Year in the World by Frances Mayes

  • The Winter of Our Disconnect by Susan Maushart

I also have a bunch of magazines to flip through.  Will I get to all of them?  Doubtful, but I won't run out:-)


Thursday, September 29, 2011

Legacy Genealogy Cruise: On Our Way!

As this post publishes, Aaron and I are on our way to New Jersey for the Legacy Genealogy Cruise!  I am not sure how often I will be able to post, but I plan on writing up everything in Windows Live Writer and have them post whenever I find wi-fi.

In addition to awesome genealogy classes from Legacy and genealogists such as Thomas MacEntee, I will also get to meet Barbara Poole & see Heather Wilkinson Rojo at the New England Historic Genealogical Society in Boston!

We also have a bunch of other fun non-genealogy plans, such as visiting with my cousin in Boston and celebrating our 1 year anniversary:-)  I'll see you with updates soon!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Facebook Improving for Genealogists

Picture it: The year is 2031 and your child/grandchild/etc. is visiting Randomtown, USA on a road trip with some friends.  The decided to visit because you had often spoken of how much you liked visiting there back in the day.  Upon checking in to Randomtown on Facebook, they then find your Facebook page and see that 20 years ago you checked in there as well and see who you were there with, comments you left and photos you took.  They then go and take a photo in front of that same building you stood in front of decades earlier.

Facebook is not quite there yet, but on October 4th a major renovation to users profile pages will take us one step closer.  No longer will profiles be just long lists of status updates, comments from friends and random game applications; now they will document a person's life from the big to the minute, complete with linking to others involved and photos, in timeline format.  Basically, it is like a blog, but easier and more likely to be updated.

For genealogists, this will be amazing!  After all, what genealogist doesn't love a timeline?  Imagine being able read about the day to day life of your great-grandmother.  Most of us do not have that ability, as finding diaries from our ancestors is difficult, if not impossible.  I would love to have something like this just for me parents even, to see what they thought, felt and did when they first started dating or when I was born.  It also gives an easy way to see what current generations are doing.  Find out about a new cousin?  You can learn all about their life in an easy-to-view format.

Obviously, there is no guarantee that Facebook, or even the internet, will still be around in 100 years.  But if pieces of it are saved, such as with the Wayback Machine, it will be fantastic for our descendants.

Want more info?  Check out these posts by Katy Widrick and CNN.  Mashable also offers the process to get the Timeline turned on early.  I changed mine and already love it and can't wait to play around with it more today.   What do you think of the changes?

Monday, September 26, 2011

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?: Banned Book Edition

Sheila at the Book Journey started the meme "It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?" that I am going to start participating in.

In honor of banned books week, some of my favorite banned books to read:

  • The Giver by Lois Lowry: One of my top 3 favorite books of all time, this is a dystopian novel following a young boy as he is chosen to become the next Receiver of Memories.  As he learns more and more about his "perfect" world, we see that everyone being the same is not such a good thing, after all.  I cannot possibly describe how amazing I felt this novel was as a child and I find it even more brilliant and relevant as an adult.

  • The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling: I doubt anyone has not heard of the story of a boy who goes to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.  I consider any book that is hundreds of pages long and children still want to read a good one!  (I think these are a fun read, too).

  • The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank: I find it difficult to understand how one can feel compelled to ban a book written by a girl the age of the people reading it.  As a young teen, Anne wrote about her life in hiding in Nazi Germany.  A true story of a time that should never be forgotten.

Want more information on Banned Books Week, check out the ALA website.  Then go to your local library and pick up a banned book or two to read this week!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Hobbies: 52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History

From Genea-bloggers and Amy Coffin.  Did you have any hobbies as a child? Which ones?

Some hobbies I had as a child have stuck with me to adulthood, such as reading.  I loved Baby Sitters Club, Sweet Valley High, Goosebumps, Fear Street and anything by Bruce Coville, Lois Lowry, Judy Blume and Shel Silverstein.  I also loved to write stories, which now tends to show in my blog posting.  In my early teens I found out how much I enjoyed planning trips and traveling, another love I have kept.  A big part of this is my enjoyment of research and learning new things, which, also in my early teens, led to my beginnings as a genealogist.

Not all hobbies lasted.  I used to love making things out of plastic canvas.  Although I haven't done this in years, my mom still hangs up many of my creations for holiday decorations.  For a long time I collected and learned about Barbie dolls, but I haven't participated in that since I was a teenager.  Lastly, when I was younger I was a big fan of video games, especially Zelda and the Sims.  Now I haven't played a video game since the Wii first came out.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

3 Things Thursday: Genealogy Edition

  1. To say that I haven't done genealogy in months is an understatement.  Life is getting in the way.  Hopefully it will get out of the way soon;-)

  2. My second cousin, once removed, found my blog and emailed me:-)  Hi Erin!

  3. On 2 weeks until I leave for the Legacy Genealogy Cruise!  Hard to believe we'll be celebrating our first anniversary during the 10 day trip.  Time flies...

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Last Rebel Outpost

It's 1946.  A movie world premier.  A dog named Damn Yank.  The last remaining town still part of the Confederacy.  A vote to decide whether to re-join the Union after 85 years.  Where does this take place?  Virginia?  Alabama?

Nope.  A small hamlet in Western New York.  Town Line, to be precise, located on the border of Alden and Lancaster.  Also where I lived for all but the first year of my life prior to college.

(Even today the Town Line Volunteer Fire Dept. patch says "Last of the Rebels".) Photo Source.

Thursday I was able to attend a presentation in my home town on the secession of Town Line from the Union in 1861.  A random fact that I never knew about.  Reasons why they seceded are varied, Wikipedia writes "an article in The Buffalo News from 1945 cites discontent with President Lincoln, treatment of Confederate soldiers at a POW camp in Elmira, dissatisfaction of German immigrants with being subject to conscription or war, the interest of self rule or perhaps an incident by some runaway slaves at a local underground railroad stop."

No one really knows why, although the POW camp was actually not yet created in 1861, so that can be ruled out.  I am a fan of the theory that slave hunters had started looking into the Underground Railroad stops in Town Line a bit too closely, so by seceding they could continue to help slaves escape more easily.  The vote was 85 to 40, a pretty decent margin.

5 men from Town Line actually went to fight for the Confederacy, as did 20 for the North.  After the war, the town either forgot or just ignored the fact that they had left the Union, until a newspaper article came out in 1945 amidst the renewed patriotism of WWII.  The first vote to re-join the Union in 1945 failed, but a second vote on 26 January 1946, led by Cesar Ramaro, passed -.  Those against it?  One woman felt it shouldn't be unanimous, so she asked the ladies auxiliary members to vote "no" (she also owned the dog "Damn Yank".)

According the the lecture, the hamlet had a difficult time finding a Confederate flag to raise for the few minutes of the vote, as one had never actually been hung in the town.

I think this is a fantastic story and one that deserves to be more well know.  Who would have guessed that the last Confederate stronghold would be the only town north of the Mason-Dixon line to have seceded?  And that is my hometown.

Further Reading:,_New_York

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Tombstone Tuesday: Green Lawn Cemetery


IMG_0005 IMG_0006

Postmarked 21 Sept 1911

“Mr. John Bressler

Olive Hotel

Ironton, Ohio


Hello John how are you I am  feeling so bad over the way I done that I would rather be laying in this place than to be in town for I get Hell all time here”

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

(Nearly) Wordless Wednesday: Cemetery Fail

Recently, we were in Owego, NY for an auction and decided to go look at the places my husband's family is from.  One of our stops was a cemetery on Perrine Road.  Except for the pine tree blocking the entrance...

{Shaking fists at Mother Nature} Hopefully it will be cleared out the next time we go...

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Happy Flag Day!


Flag Day became an official holiday in 1949, after being celebrated since 1877 unofficially (  In my lifetime there has only been one US flag, with 50 stars for the 50 states.  How about in yours?  Or in your ancestors?

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Happy June Day!

When did it get to be June?  And why does only May get "May day"?  I proclaim today to be "June Day".  Happy June Day!

May was pretty great.  Finished grad school, got promoted at my job, and it finally got warm and stopped raining in Syracuse.  Now that I have settled into the work routine and fully staffed the place so that I can have some time off, it's time to get started on the rest of everything.

My June Goals:

How to Blog

  • Tried to do this during the school year and just couldn't find the time.  I am looking forward to completing it this time around.

  • Posts on Barbara Fleeman's probate packet.  It will show why probates are fantastic and why to look for them for men in your family, too.

  • Finish ProGen!  Working on my first proof argument, the final assignment!!!

  • Update at least 3 times per week, plus a tombstone Tuesday post.

  • Get caught up on my reading and post a couple book reviews.

Looks like a full schedule, especially if I can add some research time in there, plus everything else life has to offer...


Saturday, May 21, 2011

SNGF: Wordle

Your mission, should you decide to accept it, from Randy,  is to:

1)  Go to the Wordle site - and create your own unique Wordle  - it's a word cloud.  You can use either a clump of text, enter your own words (say, surnames, or given names), use a blog page address, or something else.  Your choice!  Be creative with the fonts, colors, backgrounds, and layout.

2)  Save it as an image (I used Print Screen, pasted it to a Word document, used the Windows snipping tool to edit it, and saved it to a file).  Tell us how you did it.

3)  Show us your handiwork!  Add the image to a blog post of your own or on a web page of your own.

Mine for my blog is:

Are You Ready for the Rapture?

You may have heard the news that the rapture will be occurring to day at 6pm EST.  Although I find this doubtful, it is important to have your data backed up in event your own personal computer-Armageddon occurs.

Genealogists, thanks to Geneabloggers, are reminded to backup their data the first day of every month.  In honor of the potential rapture, I thought I would discuss some data backup methods a week early.

We often discuss the importance of backing up our genealogical materials such as our family tree file, images, and even our blogs, but what about the rest of your online files?

Do you use Google?  Twitter? LinkedIn? Facebook? How about Flickr?  Have you ever thought about what would happen if you accidently deleted your account?  Or if the site had an outage, similar to what Blogger had last week?  I use Backupify, which is a free service that continuously backs up all of my information on sites such as those mentioned above and emails me weekly to let me know that everything has been protected.  I highly recommend this service to help you in protecting your data.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Oh the Places You’ll Go…


Arguably one of the best books ever and brought up often at this time of the year.

Today as this post posts, I will be attending convocation at Syracuse University, where I will receive my Master’s in Library and Information Science and a Certificate of Advanced Study in Cultural Heritage Preservation.

The past two years have flown by and I am amazed by all of the wonderful I people I have met, the conferences I have gone to, the classes I have taken, and projects I have completed.  The skills I have gained will serve me throughout life.

I cannot wait to see where the next stage of my life leads.

To paraphrase Dr. Seuss:

Today is my day.
I’m off to Great Places!
I’m off and away!
I have brains in my head.
I have feet in my shoes
I can steer myself
any direction I choose.
Today is my day!
My mountain is waiting.
So... time to get on my way!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Top 3 Reasons to View the Actual Vital Record

In genealogy, when we order vital records, we often get a typed, certified copy from the city or town we order it from.  Although this is a good start and can prove useful, one should always aim to see the original to compare and, if possible, make a copy/take a photograph of.

Why is this?

1. The Back of the Certificate

Just like today, people often wrote notes on the back of a piece of paper.  Although you may not find one, imagine if you found a little note that helped you further your search. 


In this example, the back of the certificate (the top part on the image) has the phrase “Baptism St James Epis.”.  This led to a lot of information from the Episcopal Diocese of Buffalo on my Whitehead family.

2. Missing Information in Fill-In-The-Blank Forms

Not all information on a vital record will not necessarily be told to you on a fill-in-the-blank form used by the town clerk to send you the information.  One example of this is a name change.  Here is an example of the birth certificate of my great-grandfather, Alfred Casell, that he had and that I was lucky enough to come into possession of.


I could have stopped with this, saying I had proof of when and where he was born and had a full certificate of his twin sister which proved who their parents were.  However, I knew I may be able to find more information, so I got his full certificate.


As you can see this is a great find. I learned that in addition to changing his last name, he also changed his given name.  I also learned that he changed his name legally, through the court, which gives me another record to search for.

3. Typos

People make mistakes.  I have typed information incorrectly into my family tree program and into bibliographies for class papers.  In the course of proofreading and checking my information (was grandma really 11 when she gave birth?  Especially when she didn't get married for another decade?), this items get found and corrected.

Town and city clerks are busy and, unfortunately, finding vital records for genealogists is not their most important task.  As such, they may not have time to check over their typing.  One example of this is my great-great grandfather Marco A. Casell's death certificate.  The date of death is typed as November 26, 1932, at the age of 69 (born 1968, speaking of typos... 1868) and it has a filed date as November 27, 1937.  The filing date being 5 years later would be one clue there was a problem, as is the fact that the age is wrong based on the dates given.


Luckily, the Town of Colden gives both a typed form and a copy of the original record.  As we can see he did die in 1937, not 1932.  Bonus points to those readers who also realized that this example proved point number 2, as well, in relation to items such as an AKA and a burial date.


As you can see from these examples, it is important to always see an original vital record in order to make sure the information is correct and complete.

Have you had experiences of this in your research?  Please comment below.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Prom



c. 1947, Robert Alfred Casell.

"May I Introduce To You..." by Gini

I was the subject of a "May I introduce To You..." feature by Gini Webb of Ginisology! I can't even begin to thank her for the wonderful write-up and opportunity to be a part of this.  If you are a GeneaBlogger, you should contact her about your own feature - she makes the process super easy and is tremendously nice.  Thank you, Gini!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Greetings from MARAC!

I am currently at the Mid-Atlantic Region Archives Conference in Alexandria, Virginia.  While here, I will be attending workshops and presentations on EAD, oral history, social media within archives, and promoting cookbook and recipe collections, among others.

This is my first archives conference and I am glad it will be something smaller than SAA, which I am told is rather overwhelming for a first timer.

Information on the sessions I attend to come!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

World Memory Project

I received this in an email today. A very important indexing project that I will be helping with. I hope you will join me.

"Imagine not knowing a loved one's fate for 65 years — and then finding the truth in a document you never knew existed.

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum has collected more than 170 million documents detailing the experiences of individual victims of the Holocaust and Nazi persecution during World War II. Now is partnering with the Museum to create the World Memory Project, which allows anyone, anywhere to help make these documents searchable online for free — so more families can discover what happened to loved ones victimized by the Nazis during one of the darkest chapters in human history.

Here's how you can help.
You may have heard of the Ancestry World Archives Project, our established community that has spent years preserving historical documents and making them searchable online for free. The World Memory Project is using the same software and processes to build the largest free online resource for information about individual victims of the Holocaust and Nazi persecution during World War II.

Being part of the project is as simple as typing information from documents into searchable databases. Even just a few minutes of your time can make a difference.

We hope you'll join the World Memory Project in helping families discover missing relatives and facts about their past."

Monday, May 2, 2011

Quote for Today

‎"I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that"
— Martin Luther King Jr.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Data Backup Day: Self Hosted Blogs

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The first of each month is data backup day at GeneaBloggers.  If you have a self-hosted blog, are you backing it up?  I recently learned, thanks to Katy Widrick, that just using the wp-dbmanager plug-in is not enough.  This plug-in does not back-up your files, posts or photos.

In order to backup your hard work, make sure you download the backup file from your hosts cPanel.  This file is HUGE and takes quite a while to download to your system, but it is well worth the time for your peace of mind.  Downloading this monthly and also saving it to an external hard drive or online backup site (such as dropbox), will keep your files safe in case of any problems with your server.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Preserving Your Scrapbooks

As a genealogist and an archivist, I have seen scrapbooks of every shape and size and full of everything from newspaper clippings to very random ephemera.  If you have seen a scrapbook that is more than a decade or so old, you have probably also seen the problems that occur due to the acidity, overfilling and folding of large items.

Today I attended a workshop on preservation of scrapbooks presented by David Stokoe, conservation librarian at Syracuse University's Special Collections Research Center, and CLRC.

David discussed the multitude of items he has found in scrapbooks during his career as a librarian.  Everything from moss to ballet shoes, along with the usual paper items.  He said there is no such thing as a silver bullet in preservation, but there are many things that can help.

First of all, it is recommended you put the scrapbook into an archival safe box (purchased from an authorized archival supplier or made with archival-safe materials in a way shown here.).  This will keep the item in a safe horizontal position and also keep it all in one place.  What you do beyond that will depend on the value of the scrapbook, as well as how and how often it is used.

Genealogists who have scrapbooks made by their ancestors will consider these of high value.  However, these scrapbooks are probably not in high use compared to one at a research center.  David's overall recommendation was reformatting.  In the past this has included photocopying, microfilming or taking photographs of the scrapbook.  Today, it tends to mean digitizing.  Recently, genealogists have become fans of the Flip-Pal mobile scanner.  High on my list of items to buy, the Flip-Pal allows users to "stitch" together scans taken of an item into one image.  You can also use a regular scanner or digital camera to make a digital copy.

Another reformatting option is to take the items out of the scrapbook and put them into mylar (or other archival-type) sleeves.  You can then put these sleeves into a 3-ring binder and people can look through the scrapbook this way.  I highly recommend this idea if you have magnetic photo albums, as the plastic cover and adhesive are horrible for your photographs.

This was a fascinating workshop and I learned a lot!  I now have a long list of scrapbooks, both at work and at home, that I am going to work on preserving.  Let me know if you have any tips!



Monday, April 25, 2011

MLIS Monday: Library of the Living Dead

One of my listserv's had a link to Library of the Living Dead: Your Guide to Miller Library at McPherson College. I cannot even begin to say how impressed I am by this guide.  It is a fun and interesting way to get students to learn about the library.  Great job to the librarians at Miller Library!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter!

My mom used to sing this every Easter when my sister and I were little.


Friday, April 22, 2011

Wishing for the 1890 Census in NY?

The destroyed 1890 census is a bane of many genealogist's research.  Those of us with New York state ancestors in 40 counties (not Chenango, Columbia, Franklin, Fulton, Jefferson, Livingston, New York (the Bronx and Manhattan), Oneida, Orange, Putnam, Rensselaer, Richmond, Schuyler, Seneca, St. Lawrence, Suffolk, Sullivan, Ulster, Westchester, and Wyoming according to FamilySearch) are lucky - we have a state census that was taken in 1892.

Not only is this census available on microfilm, but it is now searchable with images for most counties at FamilySearch.  It may not have households differentiated or relationships listed, but it does have

  • Name

  • Gender

  • Age

  • Color

  • Country of birth

  • If citizen or alien

  • Occupation

One example in my research was trying to figure out if Maria Tross' husband was living in Buffalo when she immigrated with her children in 1884 from Germany.  There was no 1890 census for me to check, but when I learned about the 1892 state option, I looked there.  There was "Mary" with her two youngest children, but no Wenzel Tross to be found.  This made me want to check further into German records for his death prior to 1884.

If you have not checked the 1892 NY census for your ancestors, go to FamilySearch and check today!Tross 1890 Census

Thursday, April 21, 2011

How Do I Make Money in Genealogy?

My take on the fourth in a week-long series of posts at GeneaBloggers entitled Genea-Opportunities (Let's Make Lots of Money).

How Do You Make Money in Genealogy? – most readers here at GeneaBloggers and at my other sites know that I am a pretty open and transparent guy when it comes to disclosing my material relationships with other genealogy vendors and organizations. Well, I am willing to spell out what I currently do in the genealogy field to try and make a buck.  I’m not going to give exact dollar figures (because you will be greatly disappointed, believe me), but I will be upfront about some current projects.  I’m hoping my colleagues might consider doing the same.


Seriously, though:

I have recently begun accepting clients.  I do not advertise currently and tend to be found through APG.  After speaking with a person at the the NERGC conference from BCG I am rather determined to take more clients, as I have time.  I am also looking into just assisting people in Western and Central New York for some practice (namely friends and family).  My 3-5 year goal is to make enough money doing research to pay off my and my husbands student loans prior to our retirement...

I have a couple affiliate links, that I have not made any money on yet.  Maybe someday:-)  The main goal for these is to pay for hosting fees.

I would love to start lecturing at genealogy societies and conferences, which would help to pay all of the conferences I [want to] attend.

The one thing I am now making money with is as a contracting archivist.  This combines my degree and my genealogical studies (I assist patrons searching for their family as one job task).  This is providing me with a lot of experience and opportunities.  I look forward to continuing with this far into the future.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Genealogy-What Do You Mean It Isn't Free?: My Take

This is my response to the third in a week-long series of posts at GeneaBloggers entitled Genea-Opportunities (Let's Make Lots of Money).

What Do You Mean It Isn’t Free? – how do we as a community deal with the perception that everything – and I meaneverything – is free for the taking when it comes to genealogy. From commercial databases, to freely stealing content from a blog or website, to being incensed when a genealogist charges for a webinar or a syllabus.  This will be a no-holds barred looked at why certain perceptions exist in the genealogy community and how they must change in order for the industry to move forward in the 21st century.

I have always been taught that there is no such thing as a free lunch.  We get lucky in genealogy, with many things that appear free:, RAOGK, Legacy webinars, etc.

The problem with this is that none of these are actually free.  Someone, somewhere, is paying.  Legacy can host these webinars because of all the people who purchase their products; RAOGK volunteers are using their gas and time to help out fellow researchers; FamilySearch is part of the LDS church, and members help support it.

We need to treat genealogy like we do any other service and pay for services and items we want.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Careers in Genealogy-"Off the Chart" Thinking: My Take

This is the second in a week-long series of posts at GeneaBloggers that I giving my opinion on.

My bachelor's degree is in political science, but after graduation I started a career in retail management.  Though this wasn't my plan or what I planned to always do, it has taught me valuable skills.

When I began looking for a more permanent career, library science was recommended to me.  In May, I will join the large group of genealogists with an MLS.  Working in a library or archive will allow me to assist others with their genealogy and to bring history, in the form of primary source documents, to children.

I also am working toward doing what Thomas MacEntree calls the "Franken-career".  I would like to lecture, publish and work further with helping companies or genealogists market themselves through social media.  I also am interested in the idea of "curating".  I have never heard this idea before, but it is very appealing to me.  I love researching and trying new things and think I would enjoy disseminating them to fellow researchers.  I also would enjoy being in retail at expos and conferences.  I have more customer service experience than I know what to do this, so this would be a great job.

My dream combination genealogy and library job would be as genealogist (they call all of their librarians by this title) at the New England Historic Genealogy Society in Boston.  As they have begun promoting their New York collections, I keep hoping they will need a Western & Central New York specialist.  If so, I am ready!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Genealogy Blogging – For Fun or Profit?: My Take

This is my take on Thomas' series at GeneaBloggers entitled Genea-Opportunities (Let's Make Lots of Money).

Why is it just one or the other?  I find it fun to make a profit.  But I'm getting ahead of myself...

Thomas MacEntee, creator of, has brought to light a very timely and important topic this week.  For the next 5 days, I will be giving my take based on the topic he presents.

In every other blogging community I have followed, namely healthy living and mommy blogs, it is well known that if you become a top blogger you will be able to make a profit off of your blog.  Until recently, I had not seen the same happen with GeneaBloggers.

I do not have a problem with people making a profit off their blogs, although I do believe in disclosure statements and telling your readers that you are posting an affliate link.  It does get annoying when nearly every blog you read has the same giveaway/review.  It gets unethical, in my opinion, when bloggers review items positively that you know they do not like or normally support, just because it was free.

Upon graduation, I hope to have a more regular blogging schedule and expand my skill-set to become a more useful resource in the community and, eventually, leverage my skills to become a speaker, webinar giver, etc.  I hope to review books and projects (that I receive at not cost), host giveaways and become a blogger of honor or conference blogger.  Although I started doing this as just a fun, personal project, I now want to take it to the next level.  I do not believe all bloggers want to or should do the same and that that is okay.  It should not be an us-versus-them mentality, just that different people have different ideas and want to do different things, and we should respect each other for our choices, as long as they are being done in an ethical way.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Gress Civil War Draft Registrations

[caption id="attachment_955" align="aligncenter" width="625" caption="Joseph & Michael Gress"]Draft Registration[/caption]

In honor of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, I have the newly-found Civil War Draft Registration of my great-great-great grandfather, Joseph Gress:

  • Residence:  Eden [Erie County, NY]

  • Name: Joseph Gress

  • Age 1st, July 1863:  22

  • White or colored: White

  • Profession, occupation or trade: Farmer

  • Married or unmarried: Unknown

  • Place of Birth: New York [sic: Germany]

  • Former Military Service: [Blank]

  • Remarks:  [Blank]

and Joseph's brother Michael:

  • Residence:  Eden [Erie County, NY]

  • Name: Michael Gress

  • Age 1st, July 1863:  25

  • White or colored: White

  • Profession, occupation or trade: Farmer

  • Married or unmarried: Married

  • Place of Birth: New York [sic: Germany]

  • Former Military Service: [Blank]

  • Remarks:  [Blank]

Source (Same for Michael, who is 1 line lower): "U.S., Civil War Draft Registrations Records, 1863-1865," database and images, ( : accessed 14 Apr 2011), Joseph Gress, Class I, Congressional District 30, Erie County, New York; citing Consolidated Lists of Civil War Draft Registrations, 1863-1865. NM-65, entry 172, 620 volumes. Records of the Provost Marshal General’s Bureau (Civil War), Record Group 110. National Archives, Washington D.C.


Thursday, April 14, 2011

NERGC: Bringing the Civil War to Life through Library Programs & Curriculum Development

After a wonderful lunch sponsored by ProQuest, we moved on to presentation number 4 for Librarians’ & Teachers’ Day: “Bringing the Civil War to Life through Library Programs & Curriculum Development” by Donna E. Walcovy, Ph.D..  12 April 2011 is the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War and librarians, teachers and genealogists will be celebrating with a multitude of programing.  This was a great presentation.  Donna is a very exuberant speaker and brings cool props!

The presentation begun with Donna showing us a sword from Civil War that began to her cousin, President William McKinley – too cool!  She then told a story of buying one neighborhood boy a Civil War Union outfit and play guns.  She then bought the boy across the street the same items for Confederates.  The boys would then play Civil War in the back yard.  What a great way to get children interested in history.

How else can we introduce children and adults to history?  Journals from the time, Civil War paper dolls, CDs and books with songs from the era, create guides to the Civil War in your area (such as road trips or walking tours), literature, computer games, “You Are There: The Fall of Fort Sumter” CD, and, of course, articles in magazines and websites (particularly the NPS site & the Smithsonian).

Imagine being a young girl reading about the Civil War.  Would you rather read a boring text book about the War or a book such as An Uncommon Soldier: The Civil War Letters of Sarah Rosetta Wakeman, alias Pvt. Lyons Wakeman, 153rd Regiment, New York State Volunteers, 1862-1864, about a woman who dressed up as a man and fought in the Civil War?  I know what I would prefer, even to this day.  This is one way to “transport” students back to the time period and showing the relationship between what happened in history and the student.

One recommendation which continues on the theme of access is to let Eagle Scouts use your materials for their projects.

Looking for gravesites of your Civil War soldier?  Check Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War gravesite registration.

The presentation ended with my winning the cds” Military Records: Civil War Service Records”.  It was a lucky weekend for me!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

NERGC: Strategies for Making Archival Records Accessible to Genealogists

On Thursday at NERGC I attended the Librarians' and Teachers' Day.  These types of events are always very useful to me both as a genealogist and as a librarian/archivist.  It also counted as 5 hours of continuing education credit.

The first session was Kathleen M. Reilly of the Berkshire Athenaeum's Local History Department, discussing Strategies for Making Archival Records Accessible to Genealogists.

Accessibility is one of my main issues as a librarian and archivist.  As a researcher in Western New York, I understand the problems faced by low to no accessibility of records.

The Berkshire Athenaeum's Local History Department was able to make their records easily accessible during a recent remodel.  One of my favorite changes they made were putting all vital records together, rather than by location.  Considering the constant change of towns and counties, this makes research much easier.  They also have movable stacks and put the vital records and cemetery records on the ends, so that they are always available.

The overall message was to find ways to preserve your collection while making it more available.  This includes microfilming many of their collections, in addition to some digitization.  They also photocopy items such as scrapbooks, to make them available for use.  There are also many indexing projects and finding aid creation in progress.

New England Regional Genealogical Conference

I attended NERGC in Springfield, MA this weekend.  Unfortunately, my hotel did not have internet, so I have been slowly writing up posts on all the session I attended.

I cannot say enough about how wonderful the conference was.  This was my first genealogical conference and if others are this amazing, I picked the right hobby.  I was planning on attending the next conference (in 2013) even before this one was finished.  I was lucky enough to come home to an email that I won a free registration for 2013!  I cannot wait!  My biggest problem with the conference is that it's not annual.

The expo was a little bit too great... I ended up buying 4 books (all of which I, of course, needed;-)).  It was fun to see all the societies and genealogical resource companies.  Since I do not have ancestors from New England, many of these did not apply to me, but I have enjoyed reading through the society newsletters that were given away.

I will post one or two session/workshop summaries a day for the next couple weeks, linking back to this original post.

Workshops attended:

Thursday: Librarians' and Teachers' Day


  • Two Chairs & A Pair of Spectacles: Discovering Your Ancestors in Probate Records: Marian Pierre-Louis

  • The Road Less Traveled: Polish & Ukrainian Research: Jonathon Shea, AG & Matthew Bielawa

  • Business Secrets of Professional Genealogists: We're Human Too!: Laura Prescott

  • Erie Canal Genealogy: The Peopling of Upstate NY & the Midwest: John Philip Colletta, Ph.D.

  • Effective Editing & Writing: Pamela Boyer Saytr, CG, CGL


  • Using Zotero, the Free Citation & Note Manager: Connie Reik

  • Italian Clusters & Chains for Genealogical Success: Shellee A. Morehead, Ph.D.

  • Where is Great-Grandma Hiding? Finding Forgotten Females: Sandra MacLean Clunies, CG

  • Workshop: Solving Genealogy Problems Using Deeds: An Advanced Deeds Workshop: Carol McCoy, Ph.D.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

NERGC: Kids & Collections: Making Meaningful Connections

Liz Shapiro, executive director of the Sharon Historical Society, was the second speaker for the NERGC Librarians’ and Teachers’ Day.  Her presentation was titles “Kids & Collections: Making Meaningful Connections”.  This was an awesome presentation and if you get the chance to here Ms. Shapiro present, I highly recommend it.

Our of our jobs, as librarians,  is to figure out what we have, how it can help teachers and bring families in.  We have to look for that “cool” factor.  Her motto is “Making it real!”

Making  your collection accessible:

  • Their website is “content-rich, designed to emphasize the sharing of our historic collections, including documents, photographs, and other archival materials.”

  • They have great social media (in my opinion): Flickr, wordpress, twitter, fb, google maps, youtube:

  • All cemetery info online.

Create programs, both in school and on-site for children/families.  In school “Goal: to connect students in a personal way with their town.”  On-site “Goal: What you can learn from the “real thing”.  Reach out to home schoolers and  home school networks.  Creating these partnerships doesn’t have to be much more than “show-and-tell” and the give new uses for non-book collections (maps, photographs, primary documents, local history collections, etc.).  In relation to students they:

  • Create programs with teachers/school media specialists.  They go in to the schools and do these for free as part of their civic responsibility.

  • Use glogster, to make posters.

  • Use online primary documents.  By using primary source documents, the students become the scholars, come to their own conclusions.

  • Train kids on proper tombstone cleaning & bring into cemeteries.

  • “With very little prep work, and NO money, the ability to enhance a student’s learning, connect them to their communities in new ways, and build a better citizen for life, are at your fingertips.”  Become the local Mister Roger’s.  Teach children who their neighbors are.  We aren’t doing a good job at this, but should be.

Other cool projects:

  • Local art gallery – ask for 20% donation of items sold.  Only $20 for 4-color postcards (price to artist).  Creates steady stream of changing exhibits.

  • “Culture café” with wireless access, couches, meetings, can eat, hands-on history room for kids.

  • People can sign up to do their own exhibit with the HS collections.


Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Report Assessment

Man with Rubric

Assessment has been the theme of the past few weeks of my life.  Both in my ProGen group, in one my classes at school (I got to create a rubric for a project) and at work at Starbucks (where my store got a 98:-D).  One of the most important parts of any plan, but often the most overlooked.

The most thought of forms of assessment tend to be surveys and focus groups.  The best way to assess how well something worked is by using a rubric, which gives concrete standards along a scale.

If you are like me, you often wonder whether your genealogy reports are up to the proper standards.  Even if you use reference books, articles or websites while writing them, it can still be hard to tell if you have the correct information in it.  For our March ProGen assignment, we used the BCG rubric to edit everyones research report from the prior month.

Used for genealogists applying for certification, this rubric gives standards for nearly every genealogy report you could need.  It is very simple, but you have to remember, it is very black-and-white.  There is no grey.  Either you have the indicator or you do not.

Let's look at an example.  You have written a research report for a client or yourself.  Looking at indicator "CR6", what is the quality of the sources you used?  BCG wants you to have mainly used original sources and primary information.  Did you?  If yes, then you meet the standards.  If you used some of these sources, you partially met expectations.  If your sources are derivative, with secondary information, you did not meet the standard.  If you can't even tell what type of sources you used, or didn't use any, you need to go back to your genealogy reference books and learn more about sourcing your work and the importance there-of.

I was pleased to see I had hit most of the standards and now that I have this rubric, I believe all of my reports will be meeting or exceeding standards in the future.

Do your research reports meet the BCG standards?  Is there another set of standards you use instead?

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...