Saturday, January 29, 2011

52 Weeks to Better Genealogy - Week 5

Week 5: . Play with WorldCat is a massive network of library content that the public can search for free (user name and password not required). Not every library is a part of WorldCat, but the vast size of the network makes it an important genealogy tool. If you are looking for a specific book or publication, enter the identifying information into the WorldCat search box and see which libraries hold the item. You may even find that you can get the item through your library’s inter-library loan program. Don’t forget to search for some of your more unusual surnames and see what comes up. The goal is to play with WorldCat and examine its possibilities for your own research. If you’re already familiar with WorldCat, play with it again. The network and collection grow and change constantly.

I didn't have a specific book in mind when I started my search, so I did a search for my Slowey surname.  I found a lot of books written by authors with the surname of Slowey, but not anything that pertained to any of my specific ancestors (at least none that I know of right now). 

I did another search for my Lanctot surname.  Again, several authors with the Lanctot surname, but pretty slim pickins for anything pertinent.  As I'm scrolling through the list, I notice a book called "La Famille Lanctot."  Hmmm.  Author? Philippe Constant.  That name sounds familiar.  I look in my genealogy program ... no Constants.  Ohhh ... that's right.  One of my Wagners is named Constant (actually two, but who's counting?).  Still ... it's a Lanctot family history.  My Wagners eventually flow into my Lanctots (via Rothmeyers, Hubers, and Sloweys), so maybe these folks are related somehow.  (It's scary being inside my head, huh?)  Oh great.  The book is in French.  Ok, I might need an interpreter.  Let's see if I can even get the book first, then we'll deal with whether I can read it.

Turns out it's available through the NEGHS.  Awesome.  Now the question is whether I can get it through interlibrary loan or if I have to join the society (which I've been meaning to do anyway) and request a lookup (except I have no idea what's in that book).  I will definitely have to look into this some more.  Perhaps when I have some extra time after school lets out, I can go to the library and see which libraries are on the ILL roster.

This is definitely a tool I will use for my research in the future.  I have included a link to in my toolbox as well.

52 Weeks To Better Genealogy is a 2010 series of weekly blogging prompts that are a bit more challenging and are geared towards those new to the field of genealogy and family history as well as those who want to brush up on some skills which might be a bit rusty.  Thanks to Amy Coffin at We Tree Genealogy Blog and Thomas MacEntee at Geneabloggers for putting this together!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

My Research Toolbox

I did it.  I finally did it.  Because of the Open Thread Thursday post at Geneabloggers, I decided to bite the bullet and put together my research toolbox.  Well, I started it anyway.  Turns out I had a LOT more links than I thought I did, which is great ... but also made me realize how disorganized they were (which is probably why I'm not having as much luck with my research as I anticipated ...).

Using Thomas MacEntee's suggestion of a Weebly website (it's free ... and fun to say), I built

(cue the dramatic music) ...


Wheee!  (Yes, I've been waiting a long time to use that name for something).

Ok, so it's no 6-million-dollar man or anything, but I'm hoping it will help me keep my links organized.  I have included a link on my blog, and a reciprocal link to my blog from my toolbox.  I may at some point or another move my blog over to my website (since I went ahead and bought the domain name before someone stole it's awesomeness), but I haven't quite figured out how to do that yet.

I hope to also incorporate some Surname pages and other stuff ... but I want to get my toolbox up and running first.  It's a work in progress, so be gentle if you come visit.  Any helpful hints or ideas will be greatly appreciated!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

52 Weeks to Better Genealogy - Week 4

Week 4: Learn about your local public library’s inter-library loan (ILL) policy. Pick a genealogy-related book that you want to read that is not in your library’s collection. Ask the librarian how to request the book from another library. Find the different library systems from which you can request books through your own library, as this can dramatically increase the number of genealogy books to which you have access. If you have a genealogy blog, write about your experience with requesting items through your library’s ILL service.

Here it is Saturday afternoon at roughly 5 p.m., one hour before the library closes for the weekend ... and, once again, I didn't have a chance to get to the library this week to look for a book I really wanted, much less a book that my library didn't have that I would have to wait to get.

Undaunted, I checked the website for the library and found a form to fill out for an Interlibrary Loan.  Turns out my library requires that the requestor be a "patron in good standing," require the complete citation of the material you request, and they charge for this service.  "Do not use this service if you cannot pay at least $6.00 for shipping."  The form does have a space for the maximum amount a person is willing to pay, so I guess that's good. 

I expected the ILL service to take some time, but I never realized it could take several weeks!  A person gets notified by phone and via a postcard sent by snail-mail that their materials are available.

I will definitely revisit this service when there is something I seriously need from another library.

52 Weeks To Better Genealogy is a 2010 series of weekly blogging prompts that are a bit more challenging and are geared towards those new to the field of genealogy and family history as well as those who want to brush up on some skills which might be a bit rusty.  Thanks to Amy Coffin at We Tree Genealogy Blog and Thomas MacEntee at Geneabloggers for putting this together!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History - Week 3 - Cars

Week 3: Cars.  What was your first car? Describe the make, model and color, but also any memories you have of the vehicle. You can also expand on this topic and describe the car(s) your parents drove and any childhood memories attached to it.

I got my first "car" in 1985, but I didn't buy it.  It was what my parents let me use.  It was a 1971 Datsun (yes, this was before they got all hoity-toity and started being called Nissan) pickup truck with the world's ugliest white camper top on the back.  Both doors were dented in like they had been in a demolition derby.  I can't even begin to describe the hideous turquoise color.  You had to bang on the dash to make the AM-only radio work.  I drove that little truck to school and work and everywhere in between.  It may not have been fancy or anything, but everyone knew it was me when I drove past!

The day I got my learner's permit (at age 15), I was allowed to drive the truck home from the DMV.  I hit a mailbox with the passenger side mirror, ran at least one stop sign, and I think I drove on the wrong side of the road more than once.  When we got home, my mom asked "so, how did it go?"  My stepdad replied, "It was better than Six Flags!"

My driving skills have improved somewhat since then.

I remember my mom's car, too.  After my parents divorced, we drove all the way from Portland, Oregon to Atlanta, Georgia in her olive-green Pontiac LeMans with awesome pleather seats and everything.  That thing was HUGE.  I remember my paternal grandmother packing goodie bags for my sister and me for the trip (we were between 4-7 years old).  We were on the road for about 6 days, and each day we got to open a new goodie bag.  Inside were puzzle books, a pack of gum, and other little things to keep us occupied during the long hours on the road.

My sister and I used to keep our crayons in the door handles.  They melted in the summer and every time you closed the door, you got a bunch of wax under your fingernails!

Last one, I swear: My sister and I were trying to do something nice for my mom, so we washed her car for her ... with Comet.  When the sun hit it just right, you could see all the circular scratches ... very sparkly.  She never got mad though, so that was pretty cool.

While I was working on this post, I happened to remember that I had several photos of my grampa John J. Gallagher and his cars.  Here are a few:

My grampa's police car - c. 1957 New Jersey

My grampa and his car - c. 1969 Miami
(I think this is where the "Miami Vice" look came from)

Grampa - c. 1930ish

Grampa - c. 1944ish (the summer before he left for the Army)

52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History by Amy Coffin is a series of weekly blogging prompts (one for each week of 2011) that invite genealogists and others to record memories and insights about their own lives for future descendants. You do not have to be a blogger to participate.

52 Weeks to Better Genealogy - Week 3

Week 3: Assess yourself! You’re great at researching everyone else’s history, but how much of your own have you recorded? Do an assessment of your personal records and timeline events to ensure your own life is as well-documented as that of your ancestors. If you have a genealogy blog, write about the status of your own research and steps you may take to fill gaps and document your own life.

I have to admit, I was a little scared when I read this challenge.  I thought to myself, "wow, I never thought about documenting MY life."  Turns out I have quite a bit of my own personal records documenting my life.  Also turns out that my life has been pretty mundane up to this point.  I did the usual - got born, went to school, got a job, got married, had a kid, divorced, raised a kid, went back to school ... and now I'm just waiting to graduate.  One more piece of paper to document another chapter of my life.

I have my birth certificate, marriage certificate, divorce decree, my daughter's birth certificate ... and I think if I look through my stuff hard enough, I might be able to find something to document every job I've ever had.

I guess I better make a folder in my new filing system for myself.  I have already updated all of my information in my family tree program, so now I just need to make copies of all my original documents.

52 Weeks To Better Genealogy is a 2010 series of weekly blogging prompts that are a bit more challenging and are geared towards those new to the field of genealogy and family history as well as those who want to brush up on some skills which might be a bit rusty.  Thanks to Amy Coffin at We Tree Genealogy Blog and Thomas MacEntee at Geneabloggers for putting this together!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun - Ancestor Roulette

It's Saturday night, and Randy Seaver at Genea-Musings gave us the following mission (which I have chosen to accept):

1) How old is one of your grandfathers now, or how old would he be if he had lived? Divide this number by 4 and round the number off to a whole number. This is your "roulette number."

I chose my paternal grandfather, since he is still living.  He is 89 years old.  89 divided by 4 is 22.25, which I rounded down to 22.

2) Use your pedigree charts or your family tree genealogy software program to find the person with that number in your ancestral name list (some people call it an "ahnentafel"). Who is that person?

That person is my great great grandfather, Joseph E. Huber.

 3) Tell us three facts about that person in your ancestral name list with the "roulette number."

  • He was born in McGregor, Clayton Co., Iowa on 22 Feb 1867.
  • He died in Los Angeles, California at 7:00 p.m. on 29 Oct 1930 after an 8-month battle with prostate cancer, and is buried at Sigel Cemetery in Yankton, South Dakota.
  • He married Emma T. Rothmeyer on 9 Oct 1892 and the couple had 8 children: Clara Rose, Anna Christina (my great grandmother), Ellanora B. (died at 4 months), Martha Mabel, Joseph Peter, Mildred T., Alice Agnes, and Paul M.

Note: not sure if anyone else's Blogger is acting hinky ... it took me 3 tries to finally get all the text to show up in my preview ... and had to retype twice!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

iGoogle and Land Patents

While I was trying not to contract cabin fever this weekend due to what has affectionately been called "Snowmageddon," I decided to take in a webinar or two.  I remembered that I wanted to participate in the "Google for Genealogists" webinar presented by Thomas MacEntee (of Geneabloggers fame), but because it was at 2 p.m. on a Wednesday, I was unable to attend.  [turns out "I have a genealogy webinar" isn't a good enough excuse for missing a half day of work ... didn't hurt to ask, I guess].  In any case, I hopped on over to Legacy Family Tree's webinar listing and found the recorded version (which is still available until February 5), complete with downloadable handouts.  The webinar was filled with tons of good information on how useful Google is for research, organization, time management, and more.  Note: Make sure you listen to the whole thing - some of the best information is revealed during the Q&A at the end!

After the webinar, I set my handouts aside (you know ... "I'll work on that in a minute ...") and a couple days later ran across a blog post from Cheryl Cayemberg at Have You Seen My Roots? about the same webinar.  She had actually taken the information from the webinar and put it into practice!  Obviously, she isn't a procrastinator like someone I know.  She even posted screen shots of her iGoogle home page.  Very impressive (and totally cute!).  I was inspired.  Using Cheryl's page as sort of a guide to figure out what sorts of widgets are out there, I started adding stuff like a mad woman.

Long story short, I added a widget that allows me to search for land patents at the Bureau of Land Management.  I'm not gonna lie ... I didn't even know a land patent was until I found that little gem.  I started just plugging states and names into the search engine and before I knew it, up popped a listing for John Slowey in Yankton Co., South Dakota, purchasing 189.97 acres of (what I assume) is timber land.  I'm not all that excited yet.  I need to prove this is my John Slowey, but I'm optimistic.  I also found land patents for who I assume are his brothers Bernard, Thomas, and Patrick, as well as his sister Mary, in the same general area around the same general period of time.  There are actually several for Patrick, so some may be his brother and some may be his father.

Unfortunately, there were no images available online for these particular entries.  That's not to say that you can't download copies of others.

If you're curious, here is a sample of what the document looks like (using another Patrick Slowey I found in another county):

As you can see, the description of the land isn't all that precise (especially if you have no idea where Section 34 of Township 14 is ...), but using this document and the information printed from the website, I can request a copy of the survey plats and survey field notes, and a land entry case file from the National Archives and Records Administration.

Now at least I can make a list of all the plats, notes, and case files I want to request when I go up there in March!  (You can also request them by mail, but you are required to use this form.  I'm posting the link to the actual form here, because there is no link to it in any of the literature I read - I had to search the NARA website for it).

This was a very exciting find for me ... if I can see where John Charles Slowey's father owned land, it may just help me find out where John was born!

... and because I'm sure you're dying to know what my iGoogle page looks like, here it is:

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Ancestor Approved ... Again!!

I tell you what.  This just never gets old.  Homestead Mommy over at Footsteps of the Past has bestowed upon my blog another "Ancestor Approved" Award!  Still just as exciting as the first!

Ancestor Approved was started by Leslie Ann at Ancestors Lived Here.  The rules say that I'm supposed to share 10 things about my ancestors that have surprised, humbled, or enlightened me, and share this award with 10 other bloggers.

Since it's only been about a month since I received my first award, not a whole lot has changed as far as what my ancestors have shared with me.  You can read my original list here.  One new thing that has surprised me is that this blog has gotten my mother interested in our family history, so that's something (I think she's secretly excited about it, but is just trying to keep it on the downlow ...)

I am passing this Award on to the following bloggers:

1.  Kerry at Clue Wagon for telling it like it is, and making me laugh in the process!
2.  Amanda at Amanda's Athenaeum - congrats on being almost done with school!
3.  Karen at Ancestor Soup - good luck on finding Elvirta's next diary!
4.  Jen at Jen's Genealogy Pages because your name is just ... awesome! And your blog's pretty cool too :)
5.  Lynn at The Armchair Genealogist - your tips are helpful to everyone, not just beginners!
6.  Valerie, Sarah, and Ruby at Begin With 'Craft' - keep up the good work, you guys! (and thanks for the tip about Thoughtboxes!)
7.  TennLady at Gene Notes for the only known genealogy blog reference to Dr. Who that I've seen!
8.  Elizabeth at Little Bytes of Life - I hope you feel better! I'm looking forward to your next Best Bytes!
9.  Amber at Tackling Brick Walls One Brick at a Time for (a) having the longest blog name ever, and (b) for walking us through your research step by step, even when you have an oopsie!  Keeps the rest of us honest.
10. Russ at Worthington Weblog - I'm enjoying the Alaskan vacation ... keep on posting! (Here's a freebie to keep you going).

Now, go forth and blog!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

John Charles Slowey - Wisconsin to South Dakota - Part 8

Gosh.  It's been a while since I spent any time with my great great grandfather.  Fortunately, because of the weather, I've been forced to stay indoors and get some of the organizational portions of my New Years' Genealogy Goals done.  I have gone over all the information I have on JCS and made sure everything was properly sourced, original documents scanned and protected, and filed in its proper place in my new filing system.  I took the opportunity to create a to-do list for the information I still need.  I even took some advice from a friend in SecondLife (Elyandra Waverider), and put together a basic biographical outline for JCS.  Her sample outline can be found here.  I did mine a little differently.  Instead of putting it in a timeline form, I just started writing his biography with the information I already had (complete with footnotes and photos).  At some point (when there aren't so many blanks), I will probably post it.  I keep a timeline on my wall where I can see it from my computer to help me while I search online records:

I have all the pertinent information about John's life, as well as significant historical events (wars, epidemics, the usual morbid stuff) and significant life events (deaths of parents, relocation, etc.).  It comes in handy.

At this rate, I should be completely done with my organizing by 2091.

In my last JCS post (found here), I created an entry on Find-A-Grave and requested a photo.  Brad, owner and administrator of South Dakota Gravestones website, responded to let me know that my great great grandfather was not, in fact, in the Mayfield Catholic Cemetery in Irene, SD as previously thought.  He is buried at St. Columba Catholic Cemetery in Mayfield, SD.  I edited the entry on Find-A-Grave appropriately.

Brad was kind enough to upload a photo for me as well.  (Thanks, Brad!)  I got a little chuckle when I saw the tombstone transcription, and all I could think was that he is "Father John" and on my great great grandmother's tombstone, which I have not seen yet, I imagine it reads "Mother Theresa."

I have also been searching far and wide for an obituary for this man.  He died in 1928, so it's not like it was 100 years ago or anything ... ok, maybe not quite 100 years ago.  But still.  Is it too much to ask that those old newspapers get digitized?  If you ask me, they've had plenty of time.  But I digress.  I simply cannot find anyplace - virtual or physical - where they have obituaries archived from the Yankton Press & Dakotan before 1997.  I guess I'll be writing some more letters.

Update: I sent an email to the South Dakota State Historical Society requesting copies of the obits for John Charles and Theresa Slowey, along with two bios I found listed on their website for John's brother Bernard, and his father Patrick.  Within about 3 hours, I received a response letting me that I can get the information I requested all for the low, low price of $21.20.  I will be putting that payment in the mail tomorrow!

52 Weeks to Better Genealogy - Week 2

Week 2: Go to your local public library branch. Examine the local history, archives and/or special collections section. Ask a librarian if you don’t know if your library has special collections or where they are located. Be sure to check the reference section, too, as many of the newer and more valuable books are held in that area. If you have a genealogy blog, write about what you find in your library’s local history and special collections.

As I mentioned in my last post, my local library is closed on Sunday.  My master plan was to visit the library during my lunch hour one day this week.  Unfortunately, Mother Nature had a different plan that trumped my master plan (how dare she??!).  So, 6-1/2 inches of snow has kept me house-bound for the past 2 days.  On a side note - just received the new editorial calendar from Thomas MacEntee over at Geneabloggers (see post here) and realized yesterday was National Clean Off Your Desk day.  I totally did that!

Since I have been unable to venture outside for two days, I decided that I would probably be working through lunch the rest of the week.  So, I paid a virtual visit to my library (again). 

The main branch of my local library has a Local History and Genealogy Section (some of the resources are available at the other branches as well).  All the books within it are considered "reference" materials and cannot be checked out.  They have computer access to Footnote, Heritage Quest, Ancestry, Sanborn Maps, and NEGHS website.  They also carry census records through 1930 for Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia, along with Soundex microfilm for Tennessee, Georgia, and Alabama.

Military records are available too!  They have a general index to Revolutionary War service records, Tennessee, Georgia and Alabama Civil War service records, and the Confederate pension applications for Tennessee.

There is an alphabetical surname card file that indexes family sketches found in books, periodicals, clippings, and other material found within the library, as well as an index to obituaries appearing in Chattanooga newspapers from 1897 to present.  The index is available in printed form.  The online database is updated through 2003.  They also subscribe to several national, state, and local historical and genealogical society publications.

I'm really glad I checked all this out before physically going to the library.  This will help me put together a research plan so I can search the available records more efficiently.  Knowing that my local library holds some of these collections helps me plan for my trip to the National Archives in March.

52 Weeks To Better Genealogy is a 2010 series of weekly blogging prompts that are a bit more challenging and are geared towards those new to the field of genealogy and family history as well as those who want to brush up on some skills which might be a bit rusty.  Thanks to Amy Coffin at We Tree Genealogy Blog and Thomas MacEntee at Geneabloggers for putting this together!

Sunday, January 09, 2011

52 Weeks to Better Genealogy - Week 1

Since I didn't start my blog until late October 2010, I missed out on last year's topic: 52 Weeks to Better Genealogy (created by Amy Coffin at We Tree Genealogy Blog and weekly challenges issued at Geneabloggers).  There's a new set of weekly challenges now (52 weeks of Personal Genealogy & History), for which I may post a few entries.  After reading through all the challenges for last year, I was intrigued.  So after hours and hours of copying and pasting into a Word document (ok, it really only took about 15 minutes), I have all 52 weeks of challenges saved for eternity, and I will be addressing them on a weekly basis.  That being said, I'm already a week behind, so I'd better get cracking!

Week 1: Go to your local public library branch. Make a note of the genealogy books in the collection that may help you gain research knowledge. Don’t forget to check the shelves in both the non-fiction section and the reference section. If you do not already have a library card, take the time to get one. If you have a genealogy blog, write about what you find in your library’s genealogy collection.

Library card ... check.  

All the branches of my local library are closed on Sunday, so I thought I'd check out their online catalog.  Surprisingly, they have quite a bit to offer as far as genealogy research is concerned.  I did a subject search for "genealogy" and got 118 hits.  I also got hits for Genealogical Societies, Genealogy handbooks and manuals, and South Carolina Genealogy Sources (which is really weird, since I'm in Tennessee).  I expanded the Genealogy category and found all sorts of books from beginning genealogy to scrapbooking to preserving heirlooms to DNA research to citing sources, and everything in between.

One thing I really liked (I love that my library has taken a step into the 21st century) is that if I am interested in one of the books, I can click on the title and see where the book is located (which branch), whether it is already checked out, how many copies are available, its call number, where it is located in the library, and (most times) a picture of the cover of the book.  I can add the book to my personal list, which I can print and take with me to speed up the process.  I can also place holds on certain books, so I can have them ready to pick up when I go by the library.  Talk about a time-saver!  The library is about 6 blocks from my office, so I could send the list to the library and run by at lunch and pick up whatever books I've requested.  I haven't used this service yet ... but I think I might in the very near future!

52 Weeks To Better Genealogy is a 2010 series of weekly blogging prompts that are a bit more challenging and are geared towards those new to the field of genealogy and family history as well as those who want to brush up on some skills which might be a bit rusty.  Thanks to Amy Coffin at We Tree Genealogy Blog and Thomas MacEntee at Geneabloggers for putting this together!

Saturday, January 08, 2011

The Beginning of the End ...

... of clutter, that is!  Ok, I'm hopefully optimistic that this is going to end on a positive note, and not with me storming out in a huff, leaving scads of documents, photos, and other papers strewn about my office after being tossed in the air in frustration.

You know, I really thought I'd have more time over the holidays to do some research.  So much for that.  School starts back next week (my last semester - yay!), so I'll be in class 2 nights per week, with one online class, along with 2 fitness training sessions per week, plus fitness boot camp on Saturday, not to mention my full-time 9-5 job.  I'm exhausted just talking about it.

One good thing is that I have planned a trip to see my mom in Fredericksburg, Virginia, in March (over spring break), and we'll visit the National Archives while I'm there.  I'm not sure when I'll have the time to put a research plan together, but I guess I'd better try!

In an effort to start working on at least one of my new year's resolutions, I sat down and watched Elyse Doerflinger's (Elyse's Genealogy Blog) video Conquering the Paper Monster Once and For All, which I downloaded here.  She has some great ideas that are flexible enough to handle any organizational conundrum.  The video package is available for the low, low price of $7.99 and includes a PDF of the material covered in the video.

I also went to DearMyrtle's Organization Checklist for some inspiration as well.  Fortunately, I've already started a blog (or this is a really wierd space-time continuum issue), set up my Dropbox for backup and sharing, and attended a live webinar (Myrt's, actually - that's how this blog came to be!). 

I even consulted Dick Eastman's new series The Organized Genealogist (available with Plus Edition membership) ... that's how serious I am!

I am going with a file folder system instead of binders, so I have purchased some filing crates, hanging files, file folders, colored markers, and a label maker so I can get started on getting all my documents organized.  Now, I just have to actually do it.

It's supposed to snow late tomorrow or early Monday morning.  Maybe I'll get snowed in and will be able to work on my filing for the entire day!  I may even be able to sweet-talk my daughter into helping (oh wait, I think she reads this.  So much for a surprise attack).

Alright ... I'm goin' in.  If no one hears from me in 2 or 3 days, you might want to call for backup!