Monday, September 30, 2013

Genealogy Basics: Getting Started

A friend and I were talking the other day and she mentioned she might be interested in learning more about her family's genealogy.  She asked me, "How would I get started?"  I gave her the same answer I'd heard every genealogist and genealogy class instructor give: "You start with yourself."

"Well what does that mean?" she asked.

It never occurred to me that the sentence I'd heard over and over again wasn't going to be enough information, maybe because I'd grown up being surrounded by genealogy-related talk and genealogy-related items.  And yet, I was a merit badge counselor for the Boy Scouts' genealogy merit badge.  What kind of instructor did that make me?  Shouldn't I have known to be more specific?  Of course I should have!  Lesson learned, so I started the explanation again, this time with more instruction.

The process of beginning genealogy is basically the same for each genealogist who instructs an interested party.  Start with yourself, fill out the forms as far back as you know and then start interviewing family members for more information.  I wanted to provide that same information but I also wanted to give my friend information about organization and documentation.  And I wanted to do it without overwhelming her.  It was information I desperately wish someone had given me when I started instead of having to learn organization and documentation later, after I had piles and stacks of stuff to go thru.  So here's the instructions I gave to my friend:

Start with yourself.  That means getting a pedigree chart or family tree and completing as much information as you can about yourself and getting the documentation to go with that information.  My favorite place to get genealogy forms is through the Midwest Genealogy Center's website.  They not only have the basic forms every genealogist needs but they also have a research checklist, census forms and forms for kids doing genealogy.  I highly recommend using the family unit charts because of the amount of information included on that form.  

Pedigree Chart

Family Group Record

I always like to suggest people get copies of the documentation for the information they need to fill out first (birth, marriage and death records).  The place you were told you were born may very well be different than what your birth certificate reads.  My dad always used to tell me if I was going to do something I might as well do it right the first time.  I think that advice is extremely applicable to genealogy.  Do it right the first time and you won't have to re-do it.  Plus, a great deal of useful genealogical information can be extracted from vital records.  That's another topic for another time.

Once you have the information recorded for yourself and the documentation copied, decide how you want to store your documentation.  Will you be storing it electronically only?  Will you keep your paper copies as well?  If you're keeping your paper copies, decide if you'll store them in binders or file cabinets.  I always recommend people keep both an electronic copy and hard copy of everything, just in case something happens to one of them.  For hard copies I recommend getting archival quality sheet protectors to store the paper in.  Now is also a good time to start thinking about organization.  How will you be organizing your data?  Both electronic and paper organization needs to be considered.  This may seem a little disjointed in the process but doing it early will allow you to build on the storage and organization systems and keep you from getting behind on organization and storage.  But even if you can't decide on an organization system right now at least be looking at possible systems to see how they might work for you.

While deciding on organization and storage systems you'll also want to consider whether you want a computer program to store your genealogy information.  There are many, many programs out there to choose from.  A good number of genealogists, blogs and websites have reviewed the genealogy programs out there.  Many programs have a trial version you can download and play with to see if you like it.  The best piece of advice I've ever heard: whatever program you decide to use, learn how to fully use its functions and stick with it for awhile until you know for sure whether you like or hate the program.

While you're working on making all those big decisions, you can continue working on information gathering.  Ask your parents and grandparents for their information, see if they'll give you copies of their vital records (birth, marriage and death).  Add that information to your forms and, if you have one, genealogy database.  If the timing is correct you can start looking at census records.  The latest census out there is 1940.  That will catch many grandparents.  We'll look at census records a little more in-depth in a later post.

Once you've reached the point that you don't have any living relatives to interview or request information from, that's when you start document-only research.  We'll talk about that in next week's post.

How did you get started on your genealogy journey?  If you were instructing someone in how to begin their genealogy journey, what would you be sure to tell them?  What do you wish someone had told you?

Friday, September 27, 2013

Follow Friday: A Sense of Family

Friday, hooray!  Let's take a look at today's edition of Follow Friday.  A Sense of Family is the blog I've chosen to spotlight today.

Shelly's posts are easy and interesting reads.  She's highlighted her family, conferences she's attended, genealogical writing and tips and tricks that she uses.  Her post on Finding Daughters by Searching on Father's Name: Tuesday Tip was especially interesting.  I hadn't thought of using that technique before; I just love learning new things!

Shelly's post on Visiting the American Cemetery at Normandy also struck a chord with me.  Having decided at the beginning of the year to start volunteering at the National World War I Museum here in KC, my interest in World War I has increased exponentially.  Normandy is a place I would love to see, just because of my interest in World War I.

So take a minute today and check out A Sense of Family, I bet you'll find something that interests you there.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Around the Town Thursday: The Seattle Space Needle

As promised, here's the bonus Around the Town Thursday post!  Instead of flying into Canada directly for my work trip I opted to fly into Seattle, Washington and take a drive up the coast into Canada.  I'm so glad I did too.  First, because I got to see some fantastic sites.  Second, because I remembered (as the plane was touching down in Seattle) that my dad used to live somewhere near Seattle (Tacoma to be exact) and I decided to make the trip somewhat of a "pilgrimage" and see the city my dad spoke so highly of.  But that's a story for another time.

While in Seattle I decided to stop in and see the famed Space Needle of Seattle.  A friend told me there was a restaurant in the Space Needle and that eating at that restaurant was the best way to experience the Needle.  So I made a reservation at SkyCity Restaurant and made a night of it at the Space Needle.

Seattle Space Needle at night

The food at SkyCity was good.  It's an expensive place to eat but the view is absolutely awesome!  If you don't want to pay the menu prices you can also pay to go to the observation deck.  If I hadn't eaten there I definitely would have paid to go to the observation deck.  The view from the deck is almost as good as the view from the restaurant.

View of downtown Seattle from the Space Needle Observation Deck

View of the city and bay from the observation deck

I'm not the greatest night photographer, but the view from the
observation deck is gorgeous at night too!

Hello from SkyCity in the Seattle Space Needle!

This is definitely a must see sight if you go to Seattle.  Entree prices at the restaurant start at around $50 and go up from there.  There are appetizers and some fantastic desserts so you could just opt to have one of those items, which are somewhat cheaper.

The other option is to pay the fee to see just the observation deck.  Ticket prices were $19 when I went in September (ticket prices can be found here) so really a better option is to make a reservation at the restaurant and have appetizers or dessert and enjoy the observation deck along with your food (and the rotating restaurant as well).  Although, if you're going to be in Seattle for a few days your best option is to buy a Seattle CityPASS, which gets you admission to six different popular Seattle attractions (the Space Needle among them).

I enjoyed my visit to the Space Needle and if you get a chance, you should definitely head for the top!

Around the Town Thursday: St. Oswald's Anglican Heritage Church

I started my Around the Town Thursday posts with the intention of highlighting all the wonderful things to see and do in Kansas City.  I knew eventually I'd like to expand from just the Kansas City area but I honestly didn't expect it to be this soon.  Having been sent to Langley, BC (Canada) for a work meeting has given me the opportunity to jump into my Around the Town expansion now!  Unfortunately it also caused me to miss last week's Around the Town Thursday post so I'm going to give you a double dose this week!

For those who don't know where Langley, BC is located here's a map:

View Larger Map

Langley is a city of approximately 25,000 people.  Their city website boasts: "With its rich history, wonderful sense of community, lush offerings of nature, and proximity to Vancouver, Langley is the best kept secret in the Lower Mainland."  I had the opportunity to view a little of the city during my two days there and I can say that it is a very beautiful area.  When I travel for work, I always try to stop and see one or two places in the area I travel to.  One of the places I had the opportunity to stop in at was St. Oswald's Anglican Heritage Church.  It's a quaint little church on the corner of a partially industrial area that has been in existence since 1911.  The church's history page says: "It is evocative of an English country church featuring late Mediaeval and Tudor elements."  The church is strikingly painted in white with beautiful bright green trim and is surrounded by four Douglas fir trees at the front of the church and a small church cemetery along the side and back of the church.

Plaque outside of St. Oswald's
Langley, BC, Canada
Plaque about St. Oswald's and its community
Langley, BC, Canada

St. Oswald's Anglican Church
Langley, BC, Canada

The church wasn't open for viewing (it's still an active congregation), but I was able to walk around the outside and peek thru the windows.
Inside of St. Oswald's Anglican Church
Langley, BC, Canada

The church had both a surrounding cemetery and a memorial garden.  I took some time and walked through the cemetery and memorial garden.

St. Oswald's Cemetery
Langley, BC, Canada
St. Oswald's Memorial Garden
Langley, BC, Canada

While walking through it occurred to me that St. Oswald's cemetery might not yet be on Find A Grave.  I was on a limited break from the meeting I was attending so I quickly started at the beginning of the memorial garden and worked my way thru the cemetery taking pictures of each grave.  I managed to get pictures of the entire cemetery before I had to go back to my meeting.  I didn't have a chance to look up the cemetery on Find A Grave until I returned back home.  And I am so glad I was able to get pictures of the cemetery because when I looked it up on Find A Grave I found the cemetery internments had been submitted to Find A Grave, but there were no pictures.  In the next few weeks I plan to submit the pictures I took to the St. Oswald's Find A Grave site.

If you ever have the opportunity to go to Langley, take a moment and stop by St. Oswald's; sit in the memorial garden and relax for a bit and let the world pass you by.  It's well worth the time spent.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Tombstone Tuesday: Elsa Sophia Altman

Welcome to Tombstone Tuesday!  Today we're looking at the tombstone of my paternal first cousin, twice removed, Elsa Sophia Altman located in Anselm Lutheran Cemetery.
Tombstone of Elsa S. Altman
located in Anselm Lutheran Cemetery
Elsa Sophia was the ninth of seventeen children of Robert Altman and Albertina Amelie (Lange) Altman.  She had five brothers (three older and two younger) and eleven sisters (five older and six younger).

Elsa Sophia was born 13 November 1902 in Anselm, Ransom, North Dakota.  She died 26 August 1903 in Anselm, Ransom, North Dakota.  Her tombstone inscription reads "A little flower of love that blossomed but to die."  She's buried in Anselm Lutheran Cemetery in Anselm, Ransom, North Dakota.  The cemetery borders what used to be family farmland.

Monday, September 23, 2013

This Ain't Your Grandparents' Genealogy

Growing up I can remember my grandparents spending hours sitting in front of the microfilm or microfiche readers at the Family History Center in Independence.  I would watch them scroll from page to page.  Occasionally they would even write something down.  For the longest time I wondered what they were doing sitting in front of those machines and I even ended up interested enough to ask one day.  That's when I got the explanation of genealogy.  I think I was around eight years old at the time.  Eventually, I joined in on the game of genealogy cat and mouse.

Genealogists today are much more fortunate than the genealogists of yesterday.  While my grandparents had to hunt for the names they were looking for page by page in the microfilms of the census records, I have the option of running to the library and using  And it's not just computers and digitizing that have made things easier but with the advent of iGadgets and Android devices genealogists now have oodles of accessibility and tools designed to make our lives better and data easier to save, access and share.  I appreciate being able to access my genealogy over my lunch hour at work without lugging around a big, heavy binder full of paper.  But even electronic files can end up being a mess if you don't organize your electronic items.  I'm not talking just your family data, but also downloaded files, saved emails and other pertinent items.  I'm not an expert in organization (just ask D1, he'd love to give you a witty or humorous reference about my hoarding tendencies) but I wanted to share a few items I use regularly in my genealogy research:

1. Computer database: Right now I'm looking at potentially switching databases.  I'm currently using Family Tree Maker.  I loved FTM when I first started doing computerized genealogy and I still like it (for the most part) but I'm also checking out RootsMagic to see if I like that program any better.  There are TONS of genealogy computer databases out there, each person has to decide what works best for their own genealogy.  The best advice I ever heard was that whatever software you choose, make sure you learn about it and commit to it fully before deciding whether or not you're happy with it.

2. Websites: There are waaaaayyyyy too many to name but the sites I frequent are Find a Grave, Cyndi's List, Ancestry, HeritageQuest, NARA and FamilySearch.  There are so many more good sites out there that I just can't name them all in one blog post but those are just a few I use.

3. iGadets: I'm by no means a power user on any of these items but I cannot live without my iPhone and iPad.  I use both for genealogy, those I mostly refer to my iPad when I can, simply because the screen is larger and I like that option better.  In a pinch the iPhone does the same thing and I typically have internet connection on that no matter where I am, which is convenient.  Some of the iGadget apps I use for my genealogy are:
  • GedView: I did a review of GedView here.  GedView is my workhorse, go-to iPhone app.  I keep it up to date by either inputting new data right away manually or periodically replacing the GEDCOM file I've imported into it.
  • MobileFamilyTree: I also did a review of MobileFamilyTree here.  MFT is my fancy-pants go-to iPad app.  I keep it up to date by either inputting my new data right away manually or periodically replacing the GEDCOM file I've imported into it.
  • Evernote: Oh I absolutely LOVE me some Evernote!  I can't imagine how i got by without this app.  I don't use it just for genealogy (although that's why I started using it).  I also use it for saving emails, software registration information, class notes for courses I'm taking (genealogy and non-genealogy courses), recipes and many other items.  In Evernote I can combine multiple emails on one subject if I want, then save it to the appropriate notebook, tag it and search for it later!  I'm still learning the best way to use this program/app but I can't help but love it more everyday.
  • KustomNote: I haven't used this a great deal yet but it definitely looks promising.  This allows you build templates and forms or use templates and forms others have built and submitted for note taking.  I've already downloaded a research log form and a couple of other forms I'm looking forward to using.  You don't use this so much as a stand-alone app, you use it in conjunction with Evernote.
  • Quickoffice: This is a paid iGadget app.  It's not cheap but it functions almost exactly like the Microsoft Office suite.  Since purchasing this CloudOn has entered the picture (I have that app as well) which allows the user to access their Microsoft files via cloud storage and edit and create just like if you were actually in the Microsoft programs.  Both are fantastic apps.
  • Cloud storage: I love my cloud storage as well.  I have an account with several different storage entities.  Dropbox, Google Drive and Box are the entities I'm currently signed up with.  I use each one for different purposes.  Dropbox is pretty much my primary go-to for sharing documents with family and also my general items that I access all the time.  BrotherDear prefers Google Drive so I typically will share all my pictures there.  Box is used for my business life.  Keeping business and work separate is very important for me so having separate cloud storage was very important in my mind.
  • Feedly: I love following interesting blogs.  And I love the fact that there is an app to deliver the new posts of those feeds to my phone everyday.  To keep that information centralized and easily readable I use Feedly.  I used Google Reader combined with Byline but both these items were clunky in my opinion.  Feedly has been the best discovery I've ever made.  Feedly also interacts with IFTTT and Evernote!
  • Pocket: Another fantastic discovery.  I regularly add blogs to my Feedly list.  I don't always have time to read every single post but I don't want to just skip over them since they may contain interesting or useful information.  That's where Pocket comes in.  Pocket lets me save the articles I want to read until a time that I have time to sit and read them in their entirety. 

Just because all of these items are electronic in nature doesn't mean I've abandoned paper.  I have, by no means, gotten rid of my paper.  I still use binders, pedigree and family charts, printouts of record copies and sheet protectors.  I wouldn't recommend anyone ever go completely digital.  Yes, paper takes up more space but should you ever have a problem with your computer, jump drive, cloud storage, etc. the paper files will be there.  And on the other end of that coin, if your paper files ever get destroyed you will still have electronic copies (and, if you do things correctly, backups of your electronic files).  I also don't only rely on my iGadget for photography.  I still use my DSLR camera as often as possible to take pictures of items like tombstones.  Though, in a pinch, the iGadget will do almost as well.

I'm sure as I begin to get into mobile genealogy a little bit more I'll discover new and interesting tools and uses for older tools that I didn't know about but for now those are some of the things I use regularly.

I can only imagine what my grandparents would think if they saw how we were doing genealogy today.  The ease with which we can obtain information is astounding!  This definitely ain't your grandparents' genealogy, that's for sure!

Friday, September 20, 2013

Follow Friday: AK's Genealogy Research

Welcome to another edition of Follow Friday.  Today we're looking at AK's Genealogy Research.  Annette's blog was created for the same reason most of the amateur blogs were created - to document her research and progress.  And that's why I love these blogs.  Blogs like AK's Genealogy Research show the ups and downs and successes and mistakes of genealogy research.  A good number of her blog posts make reference to the use of DNA in genealogy research, which I haven't been able to take advantage of yet.  However, I will be marking those posts for later reading.

Annette's writing falls somewhere between conversational and instructional, which I feel makes her posts a very good read.  She had a very interesting post on Service Records of Volunteers, 1784-1811 and another really really good one on Learning Evernote. I've just started using Evernote so finding posts about how others use it is like a goldmine to me.  Take a minute to check out her blog, it's well worth your time!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Tombstone Tuesday: Allen Willard Altman

Welcome to another edition of Tombstone Tuesday!  Still making our journey through Anselm Lutheran Cemetery, today's tombstone belongs to my paternal great-uncle, Allen Willard Altman.
Tombstone of Allen Altman
located in Anselm Lutheran Cemetery
Allen Willard Altman was the second of four children of Ludwig Wilhelm Altman and Ida Marie (Krueger) Altman.  He had two brothers (one older, one younger) and one sister (also younger).

Allen was born 1 October 1912 in Lisbon, Ransom, North Dakota.  He died 10 January 1971 in Lisbon, Ransom, North Dakota.  He's buried in Anselm Lutheran Cemetery in Anselm, Ransom, North Dakota.  The cemetery borders what used to be family farmland.
Allen Willard Altman

Monday, September 16, 2013

My Brick Wall: Sarah Ann (Craig) McKee

A brick wall.  Every genealogist has one at one time or another.  My genealogy is no different.  With Constitution Day being this week (September 17 to be exact) my thoughts have been centering on my brick wall.  You see, the Daughters of the American Revolution work very hard to celebrate Constitution Week (for obvious reasons) and, as I mentioned previously, I've been working very hard on gathering up genealogical proof for my application to join the DAR.  Thus, in a roundabout way, we arrive at my brick wall.  So a few basic facts:

Name: Sarah Ann (Craig) McKee (my third great-grandmother)
DOB: 20 February 1830
Place: Tippecanoe, Marshall, Indiana
Parents: William Craig and Katie Helms (nothing further known about parents)
Married: Ephraim Adams McKee
Date: 7 December 1848
Place: Danville, Vermilion, Illinois
Death: 13 May 1906
Place: Kansas City, Jackson, Missouri
Children: 6 (5 boys and 1 girl): John William (#1), John William (#2), Sarah Ann, John William (#3), George Washington and Robert Marion.

Sarah Ann (Craig) McKee
Photographer: Unknown
Year taken: Unknown

Now that we have the basic facts that have been proven through census and vital records, let's talk about the "myths and rumors" that haven't been proven yet:
  • Sarah Ann (Craig) McKee was married two other times, probably after marrying my 3rd great-grandfather, Ephraim Adams McKee.  Her other two husbands were William Coslet and Samuel Coslet (order of marriage unknown); a listing for a marriage between Samuel Coslet and Sarah A. Coslet has been located in the Illinois State Archives Illinois Statewide Marriage Index, 1763-1900 (marriage date of 7 August 1878, five years after the death of Ephraim Adams McKee).
  • According to my maternal grandfather, Sarah Ann was of Native American ancestry.  Though we're not certain of the tribe, Grandpa Edward always referenced "Tippecanoe and Tyler Too".  A little bit of research revealed that "Tippecanoe and Tyler Too" was a campaign slogan for William Henry Harrison and his running mate John Tyler in the 1840 presidential election (information courtesy of "The Meaning of Tippecanoe and Tyler Too").  In short it references Harrison's victory over the Shawnee tribe chief Tecumseh at the Battle of Tippecanoe in 1811.
  • Sarah Ann supposedly had enough Native American blood in her that she was granted some land in Mount Washington, Jackson, Missouri.  Research on the Bureau of Land Management General Land Office Records website under Jackson County, Missouri has proved fruitless for her name or Ephraim's name, the last name of Coslet or the last name of Craig but did bring up some other McKees.  Research on the area known as Mount Washington has turned up that it was the area that is now Mount Washington Cemetery in Independence, Missouri, where several of my family members are buried, including Sarah Ann (Craig) McKee (in a currently unmarked grave) and her daughter Sarah Ann (McKee) McCabe (also currently in an unmarked grave).
  • Further research has led me to believe that Sarah Ann could have been a member of either the Shawnee tribe or Potawattomie tribe due to dates and locations of Sarah Ann during her migration trail and the history of the removal of the Pottawatomie Indians from Indiana in 1838 via the Trail of Death (though the timeline is not the same, the migration trail is).  Again this could be completely off, as all I have are stories and not much in the way of solid evidence.
Let's look at a brief timeline of Sarah Ann's life.
  • 20 February 1830: Sarah Ann is born in Tippecanoe, Marshall, Indiana
  • 7 December 1848: Saran Ann marries Ephraim Adams McKee in Danville, Vermilion, Illinois
  • 1860: Sarah Ann is listed in the federal census with husband, Ephraim in Clinton County, Illinois
  • 1870: Sarah Ann is listed in the federal census with husband, Ephraim in Vance Township, Vermilion, Illinois
  • 16 January 1873: Sarah Ann's husband, Ephraim Adams McKee dies
  • 7 August 1878: Sarah Ann possibly marries Samuel Coslet in Douglas County, Illinois
  • 1880: a possible listing in the 1880 federal census of a Samuel and Sarah Coslet located in Bowdre Township, Douglas, Illinois
  • 1900: a possible listing in the 1900 federal census of a Sarah A. McKee, listed with one son named Edward, located in Allen, Noble, Indiana (I consider this a good possibility because the age is very close and the number of children living is exactly the same, it's questionable because I don't know of any son Edward but since she was married after Ephraim it could be a step-child)
  • 13 May 1906: Sarah Ann dies in Kansas City, Missouri
My current project with Sarah Ann is checking all the federal census records.  I've been unable to locate her on the 1890 census at all.  I'm not sure where she disappeared at in the 1890 census but searches for McKee, Coslet and Craig return nothing at all through HeritageQuest.  I plan to verify that search with Ancestry the next time I go to the library.  I haven't had the chance to check the 1840 or 1850 censuses at all yet.
My goal with this post is primarily to put the information out on the WWW in hopes that someone might have some information about Sarah and/or her husband, Ephraim and their daughter Sarah and/or her husband, Chester.  Secondly, it's my hope that someone, somewhere might be able to give me suggestions on where to look next to either prove or disprove these myths.

Wow brick walls can be frustrating!

Friday, September 13, 2013

Follow Friday: A Patient Genealogist

TGIF and welcome to another edition of Follow Friday.  Today we're looking at A Patient Genealogist.  Devon's writing reads like she's simply conversing with another person.  Her post on Is this German Scan Readable for Translation? caught my interest right away.

Of course, there were several other posts of hers that interested me as well, especially the scrapbooking (because I also love scrapbooking!) and her post on Heritage Scrapbooking : Using Mini Trees On Your Layouts just makes me want to try it on my pages.  Alas, I'm lacking the heritage pictures to do it but I'm sure they'll come my way eventually, LOL.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Around the Town Thursday: Amigoni Urban Winery

Welcome to another edition of Around the Town Thursday!  I'm excited about today's subject, Amigoni Urban Winery in Kansas City, Missouri's West Bottoms.

Amigoni Urban Winery

I love finding new wineries because that means wine tasting which equals finding new wines and that process is so much fun!  Amigoni was started in 1995 by the Amigoni family.  Their About Me page has a very nice history of the beginnings of the winery.

If you like dry wines then Amigoni is definitely the place for you to go.  While I'm not a fan of dry wines, I always like to try as many wines as I can when I go to a wine tasting.  Even if I end up not liking the wine I still want to try it, just in case, because you never know what you're going to end up liking.

So I visited Amigoni during my bachelorette party because a friend of mine, V, (insert shameless plug here) who makes fantastic beads was showcasing her beads at a show being held on Amigoni's grounds.  It was a winery I hadn't been to yet so the girls said what the heck and made it our first stop of the day.  Again, I'm not a fan of dry wines anyway but the crew in the tasting room was fun, perusing the wares at the show was a nice diversion and getting to see V was a bonus.  Little did I realize that the winery was actually housed in a historic location!

By now, no doubt, you've figured out I love history and all things historic.  The highlight of this winery visit for me was the building itself.  Amigoni is housed in the historic Daily Drover Telegram Building.  Constructed in 1909 the building was home to a livestock industry newspaper for 50 years.  Amigoni has obviously put a great deal of effort into returning the Daily Drover back to it's original glory.  The architecture, woodwork and tile are gorgeous.  It's definitely worth your time to go down to the West Bottoms to visit Amigoni.  Several of the girls at my bachelorette party enjoyed the wines there and the view isn't too bad either.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Tombstone Tuesday: Laura & Clara Altman

It's Tuesday again and you know what that means!  Time for another Tombstone Tuesday.  Continuing our journey through Anselm Lutheran Cemetery, today's tombstone belongs to two of my paternal cousins, twice removed, Laura and Clara Altman.
Laura & Clara Altman's tombstone
located in Anselm Lutheran Cemetery
Clara was the second of seventeen children of Robert Altman and Albertina Amelie (Lange) Altman.  She had five brothers (all younger) and eleven sisters (one older and ten younger).

Laura was the third of seventeen children of Robert Altman and Albertina Amelie (Lange) Altman.  She had five brothers (all younger) and eleven sisters (two older and nine younger).

Clara and Laura were both born on 14 March 1895 in Anselm, Ransom, North Dakota.  They died 15 March 1895 in Anselm, Ransom, North Dakota.  They are buried together in Anselm Lutheran Cemetery in Anselm, Ransom, North Dakota.  Their tombstone inscription reads: "There we shall meet again."  The cemetery borders what used to be family farmland.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Ah Those Genealogy Tangents

I typically spend my weekends as most others do: running errands, working around the house, watching a little t.v. and other mundane tasks that never seem to get done during the week.  But I also allot a bit of time to indulge in things that I enjoy doing and might otherwise get pushed to the side if I didn't allot some specific time to these items.  Genealogy is one of those things.  Volunteering at the National World War I Museum is another.  Last weekend, those two things came crashing together.

I've been working on a goal as a volunteer at the museum.  I really want to work in the museum's research center.  I mean, what genealogist or history junkie wouldn't want to spend four hours or more surrounded by history of that magnitude and have the ability to help a stranger discover new and interesting information?  My other goal is to step out of my quiet little comfort zone box and take a place among the interpretive corps of the museum.  Yep, I'm challenging myself to step in front of a group of strangers and guide them through the museum and do it so well that they're excited to spread the news about what a great museum the went to.  Ah, but I digress.

So each weekend I'm putting in my volunteer hours, walking the corridors of the museum, learning as much as I can and talking to visitors who come in.  Many have stories of relatives that served and in speaking to one person I had the sudden realization that I had a World War I draft card for my paternal great-grandfather, Ludwig Altman, in my possession that I hadn't done a darn thing with.  Whoa.  Stop the crazy train because I need to get off for a minute and check this out.  It was one of those moments that I really just wanted to headdesk myself because here I was, volunteering at a World War I museum that actually HAD a research center in the basement and I had neglected to check out this piece of information?  As Bill Engvall would say, "Here's your sign."

World War I Draft Card for Ludwig Wilhelm Altman

So this past week I took a couple of minutes and composed an email to the research center staff at the museum requesting to know if I was able to provide the information from the draft card if they had the resources to look and see if my great-grandfather had served?  The answer was yes so I forwarded the information to them and one of the kind volunteers was able to assist me in discovering that Ludwig had not served in the war.  He was (in my mind, quite unfortunately) too old to fight but still young enough to be required to fill out a draft card.  He was also the only provider for my great-grandmother Ida.  A little disappointed that I would get no military file from Ludwig, I thanked the volunteer for their assistance and began to move on my merry way to other things.  It only took a few minutes for me to begin kicking myself.  Was I really giving up THAT easily?  Surely somewhere in the family members I knew of that currently existed on my family tree there was someone, somewhere that had served during World War I?

Thus began my latest genealogy tangent.  Oh how easy it is to get distracted from what you're doing on one line when you make a new discovery.  I decided I wanted to follow this tangent.  It was a project that was, most likely, short-lived.  It had a definite beginning and a definite ending and, potentially, wouldn't take too much time to complete.  I probably never would have attempted this project at this point if it wasn't for the existence of a timeline view in my handy-dandy little iGadget app MobileFamilyTree.  If you remember, I've been playing with MobileFamilyTree for a bit and did a review of the app here.  One of the features the app has is a timeline view, which worked great for my needs on this project.  I decided to begin by looking for people who would have been 18 years old when the U.S. entered the war in 1917.  I knew there were younger people who volunteered earlier in the war but I just needed a place to start.  Inputting that criteria into the app gave me the following view:

Time frame selection for timeline view
Final result of timeline view using the period 1880 to 1896
Now THERE'S a list!  Everyone in my family tree that was born from 1880 to 1896 and would have been 18 in 1917.  I know you can't see the list very well, that's okay, I just wanted to give you an idea of what the app's timeline view would look like.  The work of paring that list down wasn't terribly difficult either.  I went through the list, removing the females (because, let's face it, they're not highly likely to be in the military records) and those who were deceased or just born within those years.  That got me a very manageable list.  I believe I was looking at about 12 men.
A sampling of individuals from my timeline view

I then went to the Mid-Continent Public Library and logged onto their Ancestry database and began systematically checking each person's name in just the military section of Ancestry.  I managed to find draft cards on almost all of them.  Unfortunately most of the eligible family members were claiming exemptions, so I suspect they won't have served during the war.  I am happy to report that I found a couple of good possibilities for war service, however, and will be checking with the research center very soon to see if anything pans out with any of the draft cards I located.  Writing them off completely without verifying the fact that they have no service record would just be ridiculous, especially considering how easy it was to verify that great-grandpa Ludwig didn't serve in the war.

So stay tuned, this is a project I hope to have completed in the next week or so and I'll be sure to update you on my findings.  On a side note, I was talking to my new brother-in-laws about my findings this weekend and PhotoGuru got very excited and said their family had some very interesting things pop up in their family tree when he traced their family history.  Um, really?  How did I not know that PhotoGuru had done this???  Funny how no one thought to mention that to the obsessed genealogist who was entering the family until now, LOL.  So with any luck, PhotoGuru will gather up that information he discovered (along with some other rather interesting findings and information he talked about) and I can get on working on those elusive Newell ancestors.

Have a great week everyone!

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Liebster Award!

I usually take the weekend off from actually posting any new blog posts to do my research for the next set of posts I want to write.  It's time off from the blog but not really.  But I didn't want to let this one sit around very long because, well darn it, I'm just so stinkin' excited!  My blog has been nominated for a Liebster Award.

I was curious about the Liebster so I started doing some research on it (because I'm not really happy unless I know a little more, LOL).  There doesn't seem to be any definite information on when the Liebster Award first started, although Sopphey Says's blog has a really well researched post about it.  The award is geared toward blogs with a small following but I'm not going to consider that a bad thing.  It just means it's given to "up and coming" blogs.

So anyway, it's just exciting to be nominated (no really!) and I want to say a big THANK YOU to the blog writer who nominated me KristenK from Run Away With Me.  Keep up the good work on your blog (and running!) Kristen!!!!

Now there are rules associated with this award and here they are:

1. Thank the person that nominated you and link back to his/her blog.
2. Answer the 10 questions which are given to you by the nominator.
3. Nominate 10 other bloggers for the award who have less than 200 followers.
4. Create 10 questions for your nominees to answer.
5. Let the nominees know they have been nominated by going to their blog and notifying them.

Since I already took care of #1 we'll move on to #2, the 10 questions:

1. How long have you been blogging?  Has your blog changed a lot since then?
  • I've been blogging for almost two months.  At this point I don't think I've been blogging long enough for my blog to have changed much so the answer to that would be no.
2. What is your favorite book?
  • Without a doubt it's a throwback to my childhood favorite: The Black Stallion by Walter Farley.  It's a fantastic book and I'm not ashamed to say I still go back and read it to this day.
3. If you could eat any one item of junk food and NOT have the calories/bad stuff count, what would you choose?
  • Oooo, that's a toughie!  Probaby s'mores.  I love s'mores and just can't get enough of them!
4. What's the coolest thing you have ever done in your life.
  • This is definitely a toss up between the trip I took to Alaska, going to Tikal in Guatemala and getting engaged on the bioluminescent bay in Vieques, Puerto Rico.
5. What do you do to get new readers to follow your blog?
  • Well it was probably premature but when I do something I don't do it halfway so when I started my blog I also started a FaceBook page and a Twitter account for my blog.  I also signed onto a group of similar blogs and the administrator of that group is a fantastic administrator and does his best to make sure new blogs get some publicity.  I utilize my social media presence by posting whenever I post a new blog post or whenever I see something that I think my followers might find interesting.
6. Who is your personal hero?
  • I actually have a couple.  The first is my father.  I always liken him to an oak tree, standing strong through whatever might come but able to bend when the wind blew strong.  The second is my maternal grandfather, who was smart, kind and patient.  I wish more people were like my grandfather, this world would be a better place.
7. What is your favorite blog post that you've ever written?
  • That would have to be my blog post titled An interesting find, a post about finding a ritual book from a fraternal organization called The Grange at an estate sale.
8. Where is your favorite spot to work out?
  • I actually really hate to work out, LOL so the only place I work out right now is Curves.  Guess Curves wins out as my favorite spot!
9. How did you come up with the name for your blog?
  • My father was an electronic engineer who fixed televisions, radios and other electronic items.  Because of this, when he was involved in Boy Scouts with my brother, he became known as Man Who Fixes Talking Boxes.  Thus was born the name Talking Box Genealogy.  It's only fitting to give a nod to someone who was so important in my life and it's also my way of giving him a playful tweak back for all the times he claimed to have no ancestors and was born in a cabbage patch.
10. What is your favorite guilty pleasure TV show?
  • Oh I love "Charmed".  Yep, total guilty pleasure.

And here are my 10 nomination choices:
And last but not least, here are my questions for my Liebster nominees:
  1. How long have you been blogging?  Why did you decide to start blogging?
  2. If you could go anywhere, do anything, have any experience or meet anyone from any time period, what would you choose to do?  Why?
  3. What is your favorite thing about blogging?
  4. What is your favorite game to play?
  5. What is your favorite piece of technology?
  6. What is your favorite website, computer program or tool, or app?
  7. As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
  8. Doctor Who, Captain Kirk and Hans Solo all send you invitations to take a trip with them, anywhere you want but you can only choose one person to go with.  Who do you choose and where would you go?
  9. If you were stranded on a desert island what would be one thing you absolutely could not live without?
  10. What is  your favorite movie?
Well, that's it.  I had fun answering KristenK's questions, thank you so much for nominating me!  I hope everyone takes some time to check out the blogs I nominated, they're worth following!

Friday, September 6, 2013

Follow Friday: a3Genealogy

It's Friday again (and who doesn't love that?) so here's another edition of Follow Friday!  Today we're going to look at a3Genealogy.  A brief disclosure: a3Genealogy is a professional genealogy consultant, but in my opinion, Kathleen also writes a great blog post.  Her post on Tips to Researching WWI War Brides focused on a subject I hadn't thought of before, though my darling husband's family did have a war bride in the family (though it was not WWI).  That post may have hooked me, but she has several others that also contain very good information.  As a matter of fact, there are few that I didn't read in their entirety.  Even though her post on Tips for Researching Performers and Showmen doesn't apply to my family (that I know of) I found it worth reading, if for no other reason than it was interesting.

Kathleen's posts are well written and very informative.  I find myself looking forward to her next post to see what wonderful new information she'll impart.  I encourage my blog readers to take a minute and read one of her posts, I'm sure you'll also end up hooked on her blog.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Around the Town Thursday: Chubbys on Broadway

Welcome to Around the Town Thursday!  Thursday is becoming one of my favorite days because of Around the Town Thursday.  I love highlighting interesting and unique places.

Kansas City may be known for it's bar-b-que and jazz but don't ever think those are the only good things KC has to offer.  There are tons of great museums, activities, wineries and distilleries and places to eat.  And I love to eat!  D1 is a big foodie and he's got the digs on lots of good little places with great food.

Chubby's on Broadway is a fantastic family-owned diner in downtown Kansas City, Missouri.

The interior design is as close to 1950s as you can get without actually going back in time, which I absolutely love.

Love the decor!
One of Chubby's claims to (local) fame are that they're the "Home of 'The Big One'", the "Big One" being huge cinnamon rolls.  Their cinnamon rolls are to die for.  And, yes, big too.

But their cinnamon rolls aren't the only yummy things at Chubby's.  The burgers are great, eggs benedict rock, biscuits and gravy are like eating on the farm and D1 can't get enough of their pancakes.

Between the atmosphere and food this is, by far, one of my favorite places to eat.  Besides, who doesn't love hearing a jukebox play in the background while looking at pictures of Elvis, Marilyn and Ol' Blue Eyes?

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Tombstone Tuesday: Florence Bertha Irene Altman

Welcome to Tombstone Tuesday!  Today we're still looking at family tombstones in Anselm Lutheran Cemetery in Anselm, Ransom, North Dakota.  Today's tombstone belongs to my paternal first cousin, twice removed, Florence Bertha Irene Altman.

Tombstone for Florence Bertha Irene Altman
(tombstone only reads Irene B. F. Altman)
located in Anselm Lutheran Cemetery
Florence Bertha Irene was the eleventh of seventeen children of Robert Altman and Albertina Amelie Lange.  She had four brothers (three older and one younger) and eleven sisters (six older and five younger).

Florence Bertha Irene was born 16 December 1905 in Anselm, Ransom, North Dakota.  She died 28 May 1907 in Anselm, Ransom, North Dakota at the of 17 months old.  She's buried in Anselm Lutheran Cemetery in Anselm, Ransom, North Dakota.  The cemetery borders what used to be family farmland.

Monday, September 2, 2013

It's Useful to Periodically Review Your Genealogy Documents

So as I said previously, I've fallen off the genealogy bandwagon for a few years due to general life-stuff and have just recently gotten back into actively pursuing leads.  Since getting back into active mode I decided to start following some blogs and joining some FaceBook groups to help me with organization, motivation and brick walls.  Thanks to The Organized Genealogist FaceBook group I've been actively working on adding citations to my genealogy database (what a mess THAT is, but it'll be worth all the work when I'm done) and organizing my genealogy.

In the process of organizing my e-files I realized that, for the past few years, all I've been doing is collecting genealogy stuff and not categorizing or printing anything at all.  Whoa, not really the smartest move I've ever made.  So, I decided it was time to do some serious printing and organizing of e-files.  For the past few weeks I've been slowly organizing my e-files into family folders on my hard drive, which I will then back up so I have multiple copies.  As I've been doing the organization I've also been taking picture files and converting them to TIFF files (which don't have image loss the way JPG files do) and I've also been converting any picture files of census images and other documents to PDF format.  After all that is done I then print the document and will work on filing those according to the system I've chosen. (Eliminate Genealogy Clutter by Sherene Henrie Whiting is the system I've chosen in case you're's a fantastic system!)

Whew!  So I'm wading thru this slow process of converting and printing documents last Saturday while D1 was helping his brother and I ran across a rather surprising read.  It wasn't surprising so much that I had it (or that I didn't KNOW that I had it), what was surprising was the content I found within it.

What you see here is an obituary for my 2nd great grandmother (on my maternal side).  It's quite a nice obituary, it tells of her longevity in the community, where she lived and who she lived by, some of her thoughts and, of course, where her services and internment will be.  But within all of that information resides a couple of pieces that I had forgotten about and one piece that I'd never heard about before and I found very interesting.

After reading this obituary, I recalled that my mother had told me at one time that I had a family member in Topeka, Kansas who was an undertaker.  Well either I wasn't listening very well or I'd forgotten what she really told me because it seems that my 2nd great-uncle (Frank Conwell) wasn't just an undertaker, he owned a funeral parlor.  The funeral parlor where gg-grandma Margaret's services were held, of course.  The other piece of information I recalled after reading this was the fact that my mother had also told me my 2nd great-uncle Frank's second wife, Jennie Finch, was a member of an OES chapter in Topeka.  Not just that but also that a photo of my 2nd great-uncle Frank, resides on the wall of a Masonic Lodge in Topeka.  I'm going to have to make a trip up there specifically to see that picture I think.  And maybe see if I can find where the funeral home was located.

The piece of information in the obituary that I didn't know about was "Mrs. Conwell recalled that she often had trotted Charles Curtis, former vice president of the United States, and his little sister, Libbie Curtis (Mrs. Jerome Colvin) on her knee."  Wait.  Charles Curtis, former VP of the U.S.?  Something started tickling at my brain after I read that.  It tickled...and tickled...and tickled until...BAM!  I remembered!

A little back story needs to be inserted here: my son, J, is a proud band geek (yep, I raised him right!) and thru my involvement in Eastern Star I learned about the Kansas Masonic All-State High School Marching Band.  J participated in this band for five years (and loved every minute of it).  His last year participating in the band was 2012.  That year the Shrine Bowl, the football game the marching band performs at, was held in Emporia, Kansas.  Activities for the Shrine Bowl last all weekend for the families, it's crazy fun and so memorable.  So D1 and I are down in Emporia killing time driving around and we end up at a museum in Council Grove, Kansas.  The Kaw Mission State Historic Site was a wonderful place to pass the time between events that weekend.  While we were touring the Kaw Mission, I ran across the picture and caption below:


Charles Curtis display at the Kaw Mission State
Historic Site in Council Grove, Kansas
At the time I just thought it was pretty interesting that the U.S. had a Vice President that had Native American heritage.  Little did I know that later, I would find the obituary for Margaret that connected my family to the former Vice President and his family.  I really wish I had gone back thru my genealogy files prior to going to Council Grove.  I don't know if the Kaw Mission had any further information on Charles Curtis but it would have been interesting to learn a little more about him if they did.

Since the Curtis family isn't a known part of my family, this is a project I'll be putting on the back burner for now.  I have my hands full with working on my paperwork for the Daughters of the American Revolution.  My intention is to come back to learning about Charles Curtis after I complete my paperwork for the DAR.  I want to learn a little more about his life and see if there's any information about my family included with his family's information.

What this discovery has taught me is that, periodically, it's useful to go back and review your genealogy documents.  Take an inventory of what you have and make sure it's in good condition. Re-reading may provide some new and interesting information.  You don't catch everything the first or second time you look at something.