Archive for November, 2013

Stuffed with too much information

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.  I am too stuffed to write much. While sitting at the dinner table my uncle shared too much information about a past eating practice.  He used to drink Knox gelatin a lot.  Drinking gelatin back in the day was touted for making your nails grow stronger and faster.  Since he was a chronic nail biter, he was hoping his nails would grow faster, so he could bite them again.  I told you it was too much information.

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Return on Value – Genealogy Classes

I have been doing genealogy research on my family history for 30 years.  Yes, I am still have not put a dent in the tree with under 3000 names. I remember standing in line at the records desk at Detroit’s Burton Historical Library waiting to submit a slip of paper that would send the clerk off to the treasure trove behind close doors. There were limits to what you could request, the rules to follow, and the shame of horrors upon you if you spoke in the hallowed rooms.

We have come a long way baby from microfilm/microfiche readers.  Though I was confronted with one at the Bradenton, FL Central Library. Very confidently I said I could use it. Sheepishly I walked to the Librarian for assistance.  The diagram displayed the knob in the front not the side of the machine I lamented to myself.

I wonderfully transferred my notes to the family group sheets with care.  I had to let my fingers do the walking of the Yellow Pages to find a shop that carried genealogy supplies.  No googling, no internet back then.  Drive 20 miles or so to some little strip mall. Adventures to be had back then. Paid 10 cents for each which seemed like so much money.

Now this old timer is looking to update her education with the latest bells and whistles on latest research techniques.  However, I am still cheap.  I look at the online classes and webinars and I am trying to decipher if they a good value for my money.  Some people I talk to says most of the glasses are geared toward newbies and not much value to old timers.   But if there is a tip or two to be learn, then I’m game.

I am interested in getting an opinion from those who have been researching for 10 or more years.  Do you find webinars or online classes a good investment?  What classes did you enjoy, which classes where a wasted of money?  Which vendor had better courses, instructors?  What were your overall impression?  Did you learn new tricks?

Please leave a comment.  Thanks.


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They Went to Florida

As a genealogist you also study the anthropological aspects of your family tree.  Some of the history behind the migration pattern of the moving to new states or territories is relevant and interesting.  Others not so much.  It is intriguing to know why someone moved to a new location. Why did they move, what was their motivation, did they flourish, move on, or did they have regrets.  Some assumptions can be made.  Better jobs, living conditions, owning their own land, business adventures, wars, religious reasons are usually the main ones.

When you hit a brick wall in your genealogy research, it is a good idea to take a look as to why your ancestor relocated to new cities, states or countries.  This can help discover kinship or identify relatives not known.  There may be clues in court, church, land grants, or  military records and newspaper archives in the new locations that may assist you in your search.  Don’t discard family stories that so and so lived in such and such place.  There may be clues hidden waiting to be discovered.

I moved three times in my life.  Michigan to Utah and back, Michigan to Seattle and this past March to Florida.  Basically because I wanted to try something new and different.   That may be the answer as to why my maternal grandparents move to Florida in the mid 1940’s.  Right now I am fixated as to when and why they move to Florida and then back to Michigan.

Why?  I because I ended up in the same city my Mother remembered very fondly growing up.  However, didn’t recall her mentioning Bradenton, FL until after I moved here.  My sister and Dad reminded me of the coincidence when I gave them my new location.  And my interest in piqued, why?  Because the records I have of them during the brief period they lived here, doesn’t put them in Bradenton.  They were located in the Tampa area and listed in the Hillsborough County 1945 Census. My great grandmother Mabel Baumgartel and my grandmother’s half sibling John moved down first, so I think they did.  I have a photo I discussed with my grandmother Olive, long ago, that showed the house in Mango, FL.

Mabel’s husband Borden Baumgartel, Sr died in Dearborn, MI in January 1944.  The 1945 Florida census was conducted in May 1945.  So my grandparents move between those dates.  The Baumgartel’s were originally from Kentucky.  So Florida was a new venture for this family.  I thought the story from my mother was that grandpa was looking to move to the country so the older boys would stay of out trouble living in the big city of Dearborn.  Dearborn was still rural them. My grandparents and mother also lived in Pinckney, MI.  I have yet to determine which occurred first, did they live in Pinckney before Florida or after they moved back from Florida?  The family moved back to Michigan around 1948 or 1949.

In my earlier research, I found that a relative of my grandmother’s sister-in-law moved to Florida and thought that could be the connection.  However, the dates don’t match as my uncle didn’t marry into that family until 1949.  Recently I was checking on an Ancestry leaf hint which lead me to a new direction.  The hint was for a brother of Mabel’s first husband, Ollie Roll.  This brother David Roll lived and died in Bradenton, FL.   He died in December 1944.  This could be why Mabel moved down here.  To find some type of kinship with family.  If, she moved down before he died.

I may not ever find the reason why the family moved in Florida.  But I did discover new clues.  Is this David Roll my great grand uncle?  I search the Bradenton Library newspaper archive for an obituary.  The obit listed two sisters as survivors.  One is named Annabell Shrewsbury and David and Ollie have a sister named Annabell.  The other is Mrs with an unfamiliar last name.  I might have to pay for a death certificate to see if David Roll’s parents are a match.

It’s a small world after all….(I do live in Disney country)

Annabell Shrewsbury resided in Maricopa, AZ.  One of Mabel’s brother moved to the Phoenix area in Maricopa County, AZ.  Lets play six degrees of separation.  What coincidences can you find in your family history.

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The Lies Continue

Both my grandmothers were involved in genealogy during their lives, both wanting to find a familial identity after suffering tragedy in their early lives.  My maternal grandmother Olive lost her father when she was 10.  The story goes; she brought home the influenza virus and passed it on to her father who died in 1917 during the Great Influenza Epidemic.  Most of my family myths come from that side of the family.  My paternal grandmother Edith lost her father in 1925.  He fell to his death at the Zilwaukee plant.  Edith was 8 years old and one of eight children.

My grandmother Olive is part of my Roll-Howes family tree. The Rolls arrived in the mid-1650’s. Through her, I am descended from Jan Mangelsen (Roll).  Jan supposedly married a Mahican (Mohawk Indian) woman. There is the start of one family myth.  However, most of the Roll family researchers believe there were not any children from this union.  His children are assumed to be descended from his first wife, who was Dutch.

Growing up my mother told a few family lies of her own.  I think she even convinced herself they were true.  There is a story of an event that happen to cousin at the age of 16.  My Mom would boldly tell the story when I asked her who’s who in our family.  Years later there was a knock on the door and the truth is revealed.  My Mom was married with children and close to this cousin.  She knew the cousin was 21 not 16.   All the family heard the exact same lie for years.  We still don’t know why my mom and her sisters came up with that story.   Truth may hurt, but it is still the truth.

I find the open secrets just enticing.  Mom’s favorite uncle had a first marriage with children that he kept secret from the children of his second marriage.   I knew, my sister knew; but we just didn’t talk about it to our cousins. Only once did my sister say something.  But the cousin never asked her father.  Did it cause a mess years later, it sure did.

I think families have bee practicing plausible deniability long before the CIA coined the term.

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Denial, Lies, The Truth is Out There

Most of us grew up listening to the myths, truths, half truths, stories, secrets, and just plain lies about who, what, are ancestors were.  Passed down to each generation like a game of “Operator” or “Telephone”.  The original or actual event is now obscured through time, but nevertheless, the story lives on.  Each family or cousin retains a snippet or their version of events.  With each story telling the errors abound, throw in a little sabotage and there you have it, family tales of yesteryear.

My family is no exception to the most common tales, you know the ones.  Great Great Grandma was Cherokee, we were Jewish once, we related to the Salem Witches.  Sorry cousins, it is “No” to all of the above.  These stories have been in my family since our arrival in the 1600’s.  Some have “dot’s” that could be connected, however, truth, records, and DNA erases the lines.  I accept these stories just as I was enthralled with every Nancy Drew mystery I devoured in my youth.  That is why genealogy has captivated me for the past 30 years.

As some of my family history stories are hundreds of years old, it is the 20th century ones that annoy me.  Those little lies that some family members believe to be true and not even the truth can persuade them to see the light.  I am also upset with my self that as analytical as I think I am, I didn’t question the truth.  Unfortunately, I cannot ask those who have passed on for clarification of the tall tales they told.  I also find it interesting that some of the secrets were so freely conveyed, and other secrets were riddle with false events to hide the shame.

I am descended from Samuel House (Howes) who emigrated from England in 1638.  Samuel House was the brother-in-law to John Lathrop (Lothrop) who founded Barnstable, Massachusetts.  A few miles away in Yarmouth, MA, an unrelated Thomas Howes was settling the new town of Dennis.  When my grandmother was doing genealogy, she was contacted by a descendant of Thomas Howes.  The researcher started with claim that all Howes/House were descended from Thomas and Mary Howes.  Which my grandmother stood fast too.  Not so fast, grandma.  Your granddaughter connected the dots and we from Samuel Howes. My grandmother would be so fascinated with the technology and records available now.

However, we I relayed this information to my “family”.  Some members were in DENIAL.  Oh no, they said, we want to be descended from Thomas Howes.  Are you kidding me?  It sounds better they said. Their “proof” is that Grandma got a letter from some person back in the 1960’s saying he was conducting research, could she provide her family info so he can add her to the tree.  Can I do a DiNozzo head slap to my cousin?

The story goes my Great Uncle dropped dead of a heart attack as he was leaving for work one day. That was the story in my house. However, in my cousins house, they had a different story. Their story was that, the Great Uncle, was shot while driving his taxi cab.  The only kernel of truth in those stories is that my uncle did drive a taxi.  He died of another disease that is clearly stated on his death certificate. But that family will not accept the truth, they are convinced their story is correct and continue to promote false information down the line.

There are more lies beneath the tree and the truths will be revealed.


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