Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 Goals - The Moment of Truth

So here we are at the end of the year again ... and now I have to fess up as to whether I was able to accomplish the goals I set for myself in January.

1. Obtain the addresses, birth dates, and anniversary dates for all of my first cousins on both sides of my family … and names and birth dates of spouses and children. Oh and all my half siblings’ spouses and kids too.
I'm still missing 3 ... but I got the others!

2. Attend at least five (5) Scanfests (or equivalent) this year - and actually scan stuff.
I completed all my photo scanning before September, so I didn't need to attend all 5 (see #3 below).

3. Scan and label at least 15 photos and/or negatives each week, or until they are done, whichever happens first.
This goal is complete.

4. Attend at least two (2) genealogy conferences.
I attended FGS in Birmingham in August, but wasn't able to get to the Family History Expo in Atlanta in November.  Instead, I started the NGS Home Study Course.

5. Give at least two (2) presentations to my genealogical society.
I only made one presentation, but submitted two articles for our quarterly - the first on employment records of our ancestors and the second on census records.

6. Index at least 200 records per month at FamilySearch Indexing.
My total for the year is 3,260, which is around 270 per month.  Of course, I really slacked off in the last few months.

7. Add at least five (5) individual ancestor stories to my website.
I almost managed to complete this goal!  I managed to get 5 ancestors in My Ancestor Spotlight series, but only got 4 of them on the website.  Clearly, I'll need to get the last one on there immediately.

8. Blog at least twice per week.
A grand total (not including this post) of 106 posts for the year, which comes to 2.03 posts per week.  I'll call that goal met!

9. Finish reading Greenwood's "The Researcher's Guide to American Genealogy."
I finally finished reading the book!  The SecondLife Book Club didn't have presentations for 3 months; otherwise, we would have made it all the way through the book too.  Unfortunately, we still have 2 chapters left to discuss. 

10. Add at least three (3) website links per week to my online toolbox.
I met this goal a while back, and I've been doing pretty well at keeping my "pending" folder cleaned out.

So I completed 7 out of 10 goals, and sort of completed 2 of the last 3.  Not a bad year!

I haven't decided if I want to have specific goals for the entire year in 2013 or if I want to do monthly goals.  Maybe I'll do both - break my yearly goals down into monthly goals.  I just need to stay motivated and not feel overwhelmed.  I appreciate your thoughts on different approaches.

Do we share any ancestors? 

Please email me at lostancestors [at] gmail [dot] com

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Cookiepalooza 2.0

This year I decided to do things a little differently.  My sister had cookies that needed to be made, I had cookies to make ... and we both had Christmas cards to finish.  So when I heard her offer on Saturday morning to work together, I had to take it.  (Besides, her kitchen is bigger).

So a 2-hour drive later, and we were unpacking half my kitchen from my car and planning our attack.  There were several cookies that required making the dough, then chilling it before it could be worked into cookies.  Those went first.

After I got those out of the way, I started on the pizzelles.  I made these last year too.  This is the recipe that yields somewhere in the vicinity of 3000 cookies (or maybe it just seems that way).  I like to make it because it requires whiskey, but not a whole bottle.  See how that works?

In any case, the pizzelles were serving double duty this year because I was planning to make another kind of cookie using the pizzelles as a base ... but smaller.  So while the cookies were still warm and pliable, I used a round cookie cutter to turn them into 6 cookies.  Then I slathered some melted chocolate on them and sprinkled some toffee bits, creating these:
Because it was so late in the evening by the time I got to my sister's, I think those were the only cookies I finished on Saturday, but I can't even remember.  Everything's pretty much a blur.

We woke up early on Sunday, had coffee, and got started on the dough we had chilled the night before.  First up, another repeat from last year - Horseshoe Cookies (my personal favorite):
Clearly, there were more than just these - but they are fragile, and I didn't want to risk breaking any more than I had to.  What? I get to eat the broken ones!

Unfortunately, we did not anticipate the wear-and-tear on my sister's oven.  With all the opening and closing of the door, we apparently jiggled the screws on one side of the handle loose.  
We didn't let that stop us though ...

Next up was the Tea Time Toffees, one of my grandmother's recipes - and another one I made this year.  They turned out better this year - I didn't burn them.  And I made 2 batches, so I get to keep some! 
The next two cookies are also repeats from last year: peanut clusters and kiss cookies:

We stopped making cookies some time around 6 p.m. and gave ourselves 2 hours to work on our Christmas cards.  I left a little after 8 p.m. and made the 2-hour drive home.

When I woke up on Monday morning, my calves felt as if someone had given each of them a "code red*" during the night.  Do you know how hard it is to limp with BOTH legs?

Anyway, when I got home after work on Monday, I finished the last of the cookies.  These acorn cookies are some that I saw on Pinterest (courtesy of a share by Thomas MacEntee).  Unfortunately, mine don't look nearly as cute as the ones on Pinterest, but at least I finally made something I pinned!  
I think I was supposed to use mini chocolate chips on the top, but holy cow, I already looked like I rolled around in melted chocolate just using the regular sized ones.  There was chocolate on everything I was wearing, the furniture, and possibly even the cats (who were in the other room).  I will likely not be making these again.  And if I do - and I'm forced to use the tiny chips - I will be naked.  You've been warned.

I'm just glad everything turned out edible.  Merry Christmas!

*if you don't know what this means, watch the movie "A Few Good Men."

Do we share any ancestors? 
Please email me at lostancestors [at] gmail [dot] com

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Software Review: Evidentia

I've mentioned in some previous posts that I have been beta testing some new software lately.  The software is designed to supplement and complement your research - meaning you won't have to abandon your current genealogy program.  As a matter of fact, (as of this writing) this program won't even touch your current data.

The software is Evidentia.  It is designed to help you organize and analyze your research in such a way that it is easier to reach a "soundly reasoned, coherently written conclusion." 

One thing that drew me to this software was the fact that it supported the Genealogical Proof Standard (GPS).  This happens in several ways:
1. You cannot enter a claim without a source.
2. You cannot reach a conclusion without fully analyzing all of the evidence.
3. Provides an overview of all sources consulted for a particular claim, to determine if a reasonably exhaustive search has indeed been accomplished.
4. Complete and consistent source citations.

First Impressions:
I like the look and feel of it.  The colors are subtle (read: not annoying).  The layout itself is pretty simple, but in my opinion, it should be.  When you're working on proof arguments, the last thing you want is to be distracted by all the bells and whistles of your software.

Data Entry:

This is pretty intuitive, and there are plenty of tool tips to guide you if you need it.  

When you begin working with the program, the first thing you'll do is enter your sources.  Evidence Explained-based templates are provided for most common sources (I think there are around 170 templates).  You can also add your own customized source templates as well.

After you enter your source, you will add a citation with the details of your source (page number, etc.).  Then you begin adding "claims."  These are the assertions made by the particular source ("John Brown was age 22 in 1887").  You will attach the claim to a subject - your ancestor - and the claim type (birth, death, occupation, etc.).  Then you will select the quality of the information (primary, secondary, unknown).  (You will be amazed at the number of claims ONE source can make - I think I had around 35 claims for one census record).

Once you have your sources and claims entered, you can analyze your evidence by clicking on (appropriately named) "Analyze Evidence."  You are then asked to choose a subject and a claim type.  You do this by selecting from the drop-down menus.

All claims related to that subject and claim type are presented so they can be analyzed, which encourages you to weigh the evidence (or lack thereof), and identify and resolve any conflicts.  In some cases, it could lead you to realize that you've been looking at your data all wrong (I wouldn't know anything about this at all) and lead you in a completely different direction altogether.

After you have analyzed your claims, the summary window will unlock and allow you to write your evidence-based conclusion.

Now your proof report is ready to print.  Just select "Reports," choose which report you want to print, select your font, and click OK.  Voila!  The reports are consistent in their formatting and easy to read.  (This is not an actual proof report - it's just an example)


You can only print your reports in HTML.  That means you need to take the extra step to print to PDF in order to save it.  I'm hoping that sometime in the (very) near future, there will be other options for the reports.

You have to manually enter your sources.  The "clone" option is helpful, but ultimately it would be nice to just import them.  You can, however, copy/paste your source information directly from your genealogy program (as I do from RootsMagic).

The only other major issue I have with the sources at this time is that once you enter a source, then make a citation for it, any future citations for that source will not auto-fill the citation information (for example, if you have individuals listed in the 1880 Census in the same enumeration district but on several different pages).  You have to copy/paste and then edit.  I have logged this as an ongoing issue, and hopefully it will be addressed soon.


After playing around with pretend data for a week or so, I started inputting my data for real (which led to a couple of pretty good blog posts).  It has been so much easier for me to see that I really haven't done a reasonably exhaustive search, but more importantly it has shown me how to really "listen" to my sources.  Turns out, they have quite a bit to say - and a lot that they don't say.  So, in my opinion, drawbacks aside, it is worth checking out.

Bottom Line:
Retail price is $24.99.  However, a little birdie told me that Evidentia will be released tomorrow (Monday, December 17) for download at an introductory price of $19.99.  So you'll want to get it before the price goes up.  If you're interested in purchasing it, you can get it here (affiliate link).

More Info:
The Evidentia website has a lot of videos and tutorials available to help you navigate through the program and answers some questions that are likely not addressed in this post.

**In the interest of full disclosure, I was provided a free license for the software in return for beta testing like a boss! (which means I broke it ... a lot)**
**no puppies were harmed in the writing of this post**

Do we share any ancestors? 
Please email me at lostancestors [at] gmail [dot] com

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Will the Real Bernard Slowey Please Stand Up?

Working with the momentum from my "epiphany" the other day, I was trying to determine which Barney/Bernhard Slowey belonged with my family.  It has not been an easy road.

I started with my tried-and-true Excel spreadsheet.  I listed out the pertinent details that might differentiate the two men down the left side of the worksheet, then the sources from which I intended to extract the information.  Besides, I think better with a spreadsheet.

Because I had them both listed in the 1930 census, and technically I'm supposed to be working backward anyway, I figured I would go back to the 1940 and see what I could find.  I wasn't expecting to find the REAL Barney because he died on 12 April 1939 (according to his death certificate).

Unfortunately, 1940 was a bust.  As were 1920, 1910, etc.  I was only able to find duplicate Barneys in the 1930 census.  I found no Barneys in the 1880 and 1900 censuses at all.  I was beginning to think that Farney (faux + Barney) was part of an elaborate conspiracy to throw off my research (I'm still kind of leaning that way ...)

So I decided to kick Barney and Farney to the curb and concentrate on Fisabel (wife of Farney).

I found Fisabel on the 1940 census living with granddaughter Adella (daughter of Hans and Mary Hansen) in 1940.  She is listed as "single" and not "widowed," but Hans and Mary are next door, so I feel pretty confident she is "Fisabel."  Farney is not listed on the next page or anywhere nearby.  However, as luck would have it, Fisabel was chosen to answer the supplemental questions.  It turns out that she was married more than once, the first time at age 16.  She has had 12 children.  

I could not locate the REAL Isabel anywhere in 1940, although on the 1910 census, it does indicate that her marriage to Barney is her first, and they were married 32 years prior (in approximately 1878).

I found someone named Isabelle Slowey listed in the 1935 South Dakota state census (card no. 566).  Her maiden name is listed as McKethie (pretty close to McKeachie - and the same as Barney listed on his census card (no. 567)).  Honestly, I'm not sure anyone in the family knew how to spell her maiden name.
Isabelle's death certificate
Barney's death certificate
Barney's 1935 census card
But wait ... her address ... it's 112 West 5th.  In Yankton.  That's the same address (well - 5th vs. 6th) as Adella's family in 1940 and the address she and Farney shared with the Hansens in 1930!
1935 census card
Isabel Slowey's death certificate
1940 US census
A cunning, sadistic picture was beginning to emerge.  I think that Barney/Farney and Isabel/Fisabel (intentionally or not) found a flaw in the system.  The enumeration date for the Hansen address was 3 April.  The enumeration date for Barney/Isabel was 25 April.  I'm beginning to wonder if Farney/Fisabel were visiting the Hansens when the enumerator came by, and then by the time the enumerator got to their actual address, they were back home.  Of course, this is pure speculation on my part.  But it makes a little bit of sense because the inaccurate information provided by (probably) their son-in-law would not match what they told the enumerator themselves.

Obviously this is going to take a LOT of additional research, but now come the real questions.  Was Isabel really married before?  Why did she say it was her first marriage?  Did she really have 12 children?  Where are all these other children (I only show the couple had 7 children, but there IS an 11-year gap between the last two)? 

I'm beginning to understand how Barney and Isabelle both died from senility.

Do we share any ancestors? 
Please email me at lostancestors [at] gmail [dot] com

Sunday, December 09, 2012

Does This Count as an Epiphany?

So there I was, working on Lesson 5 of the Home Study Course, which is all about census records. Yawn ... I've been using census records for a long time and the references are a little outdated (they didn't even mention the 1940 census release - !!!), so I was reading the lesson and taking very few notes.

Then I got to the assignments. (Here's where the epiphany part gets a little murky)
The first assignment was to do a census research checklist. Essentially list out all the census years in which a particular ancestor could be found. Okay, I already do that, so that wasn't very hard. But then list out where you expect to find them (county, state, etc.), their approximate age, and the capacity in which you expect to find them (head of household, child of __, etc.). Well, that's new. So here are the results for one of my ancestors:

Wait ... I still haven't gotten to the epiphany part.

The next assignment was to do a census search report. Find the ancestor on the census, then do a search of the entire county for people of the same surname (or variations thereof), and transcribe the entries onto the appropriate blank census form, citing your sources, of course.

Usually, when I find someone in the census, I look a few pages forward and a few pages back - or sometimes I look through the entire enumeration district if it's not a gajillion pages - and see if I can find any other family members, making note of any surnames that look familiar (maybe the children of my ancestor married into these other families or something). But I never searched the entire county.

When I did the assignment (using the 1930 census), I found a lot of Sloweys in Yankton County, which I expected. However, there were a few that didn't ring any bells as being related. No shock there, right? Here's the rub: I stumbled upon a Bernhard Slowey (age 77) married to Isabel (age 75) listed in the same enumeration district as my ancestor, only about 8 pages later. It seems I stumbled upon my ancestor's uncle Bernard and his aunt Isabella! (insert happy dance here). 

But wait ... in the same county (different E.D.), I came across Barney Slowey (age 76) and Belle (age 76) listed as father- and mother-in-law of Hans Hansen. Well this is definitely a monkey wrench. The Hansen surname meant nothing to me, but Hans' wife's name is Mary and she is 47 years old. Turns out that Bernard and Isabella had a daughter named Mary in 1883, which would make her ... 47 years old. Hmm. The couple had been married since age 24, or 52 years. My Bernard and Isabella were married in 1878 - 52 years before. (Perhaps my happy dance was premature) Could this be my Bernard and Isabella? Clearly, this will require further research. 

Okay, here's the epiphany part (or my "light bulb" moment, as Oprah would say).
By searching the entire county where I discovered an ancestor on the census, I was able to find 8 other families with the same surname. I haven't figured out how (or if) they are all related to my Sloweys, but it sure will be a time-saver if I ever find out they should be added to my tree, because I'll already have the census searches done! 

Now I just have to get started on all the other ancestors in all the other censuses (censi?) ... and find somewhere to keep all these blasted transcribed pages.

Do we share any ancestors?
Please email me at lostancestors [at] gmail [dot] com

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Anatomy of a Death Certificate (or ... more confessions of an Intermediate Genealogy Noob)

Ahh, the death certificate.  So much information in such a small amount of space.  Some of it is even reliable!

I'm going to share two examples.  The first might be one of the most accurate death certificates in my possession.  The second is definitely the least accurate.  Still, there is a lot of information in both that can be used.

I encourage you to take a look at Elizabeth Shown Mills' explanation of sources, evidence, and proof here.  (Take a minute to look at all of her QuickLessons while you're there - they are invaluable!)  These death certificates are considered to be original sources with both primary and secondary information.
According to this death certificate, my great grandfather, Thomas Patrick Slowey, died on March 14, 1963 after suffering from a myocardial infarction (heart attack) for 30 minutes.  Fortunately, this certificate is quite detailed as far as time of death and the doctor provided an actual time of death instead of just a date.  Thomas died at 3:50 p.m.

This information is considered reliable, since it was the attending physician who provided it at or near the time of death.  Of course, not ALL the information on this certificate is reliable.  Of course, I can't be certain who provided the personal information about Thomas, but I'm pretty sure that he lived at 812 Douglas Avenue longer than "minutes," as it shows in #1(c).  With the exception of that little morsel, the rest of the information given on the certificate is correct.

Noob alert:  When you are reviewing a death certificate (or any research document), always read and re-read and then read it again.  If you look over on the right hand side - yep, right there under the cause of death - it says that an autopsy was performed.  I've had this death certificate for over a year and I didn't even notice this until a few days ago.  I will try to obtain the autopsy report (if it still exists) to see if it contains any other useful information.

So ultimately, what sort of assertions does this death certificate actually make?
1. Thomas died on March 14, 1963 at 3:50 p.m. 
2. Thomas' cause of death was cardiac standstill due to myocardial infarction lasting 1/2 hour due to coronary atherosclerosis lasting over 2 years.
3. Thomas suffered a myocardial infarction in October 1960.
4. Thomas was born on December 29, 1895 in South Dakota, and he was 67 years old when he died.
5. Thomas died in Yankton, Yankton Co., South Dakota, at Sacred Heart Hospital.
6. Thomas' residence at the time of his death was 812 Douglas Avenue in Yankton.
7. Thomas' occupation was a foreman at the stockyards.
8. Thomas' parents were John Slowey and Theresa Burns.
9. Thomas was married and his wife was Anna Huber Slowey.
10. Thomas was buried at Sacred Heart Cemetery on March 18, 1963 in Yankton, South Dakota.
11. Thomas was never in the military.

You may have heard me cursing talking about this next death certificate.  It is for my great great grandmother, Eliza Bourke Lanctot.
As before, the doctor supplied the information regarding the time of death and cause of death.  Unfortunately, there is a lot of conflicting information on this one.  Her date of birth is given as February 2, 1859.  However, if we subtract her "age" (70 years, 10 months, 20 days) from the date of death (December 22, 1930), her birth date is calculated as February 2, 1860.  Which is correct?  Where did the information come from?

This is where the REAL errors begin.  Her son, Art Lanctot, was the informant.  He must have been very confused and/or grief-stricken (or both) at the time.  He listed Eliza's mother as "Eliza Bourke" and her father as "Zenophile."  That's all well and good except that those are HIS parents, not Eliza's, which does not help me in the least when it comes to finding Eliza's parents.  So pretty much every detail that Art Lanctot provided has an underlying question mark.

However, there are still some assertions made by the document that must be taken into account:

1. Eliza died at 1:00 a.m. on December 22, 1930 in Armour, Douglas, South Dakota from lobar pneumonia with contributing factors of senility and obesity.
2. Eliza was a proprietor of a hotel.
3. Eliza may have been born on February 2, 1859 or 1860 in Michigan.
4. Eliza was a widow at the time of her death.
5. Eliza was buried on December 24, 1930 in Armour, South Dakota.

Now I can take the assertions made by each of these documents and plug them into their related proof arguments.  This is when the information becomes evidence (direct or indirect), and it can be evaluated accordingly in context with other evidence.

Do we share any ancestors?
Please email me at lostancestors [at] gmail [dot] com

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Genealogy Department at the Chattanooga Library

As my assignment for Lesson 4 of the NGS Home Study Course, I was required to do a survey of genealogy offerings at my local library.  Because I live in one of the only places in the U.S. where I have no research, I've never really checked out my local library.  I was pleasantly surprised.

The full name of the library is actually the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Bicentennial Library.  I shortened it, for obvious reasons.  In any case, it's located in downtown Chattanooga, only a few blocks from my office.

Fortunately, my library is open on Saturdays from 9 a.m. until 6 p.m.  I was there for about 3 hours, actively identifying the genealogical holdings, and still didn't see everything.

The department is divided into three main sections.  The first section, with approximately 4000 linear feet of shelves at one end of the floor, contains the Federal Documents Depository Collection.  The second section at the opposite end of the floor, with another 4000 linear feet of shelves, holds family histories, individual histories, bound genealogy periodicals, 3 rows of Civil War materials, and 8 rows of locality histories from all over the United States and the world.  There are 9 rows dedicated to Tennessee/Chattanooga historical works.  Roughly 300 linear feet are devoted to family histories.  You can find the microfilm cabinets and readers, study tables, computer stations, and the reference desk in the middle section.

The library receives roughly 31 genealogy periodicals, including the National Genealogical Society Quarterly and The New York Genealogical and Biographical Record.  If you are a member of the library, you can access Ancestry, HeritageQuest, Fold3, Sanborn Maps, WorldVitalRecords, and GenealogyBank through the library's computers.  You can also access all of these (except Ancestry) remotely.

The library has an extensive collection of local newspapers on microfilm. The smaller newspapers that would eventually merge to create the Chattanooga Times Free Press go all the way back to February 1873. They also have the New York Times on microfilm (which is handy if you don't want to pay for your article - you can get the citation from the website and go to the library and look it up).

They also have TONS of microfilm that aren't newspapers.  I think I stopped counting when I got to around the 30th filing cabinet.  They have 11 microfilm readers, 2 are equipped to print to paper.  There are also 2 digital microfilm scanners.

They also have an extensive manuscript collection with materials that date back to the 17th century.  The most impressive thing (to me, anyway) is that the library maintains an obituary index for the Chattanooga Times Free Press.  The index is updated each day by the staff directly from the newspaper.  They do this specifically for the genealogical value, according to one of the reference librarians.

During my adventures in the stacks, I realized that my library has more available to research than just local materials.  I found family histories from everywhere - including some in South Dakota and Indiana (where the majority of my U.S. research is centered).  So just because you don't live where you have research, don't think you can't still find something at your local library!

(and, in case you're wondering, the staff are incredibly patient and helpful.  Trust me.  I put them to the test.  They don't have a "no-fly" list for the library do they?)

Do we share any ancestors?
Please email me at lostancestors [at] gmail [dot] com

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Anatomy of a Census Record (or Confessions of an Intermediate Genealogy Noob)

I've been doing some beta testing for a new software product that (for now) shall remain nameless (until I get permission to blab).  In any case, this certain software requires that I enter my sources (with citations) and then enter all of the individual fact claims for each person on each source.  Ultimately, this is going to help me with my proof arguments for ... well, everything.

I had barely gotten started when I had to stop and ask myself, "have I really thought about the individual claims made in every source I have?"  Nope.  Do those sources really make the claims I think they make, or do I see them because that's I want the source to tell me?  Hmm ... good question.  Let's take a look.

I'll start with a census record, since that's pretty much the first thing I look for when trying to flesh out a family.

This is the 1870 U.S. Census record for Saunders County, Nebraska.
You can see that it lists the Bourke household about halfway down the page.  My great great grandmother, Eliza Bourke, is highlighted.

The first thing to note is that (unlike the 1940 census) the person providing the information to the enumerator is not indicated.  Therefore, right off the bat, we can't say whether the information is reliable.  We'll put that aside for now.

It clearly shows that Eliza is 9 years old at the time of the census.  Nice!  A clue to her birth date.  But ... when was the census taken?  There is no date at the top of the page.  Fortunately, I referred to my source citation and went back to the source, kept going backwards page by page until I found a date.  Unfortunately, it was on the very first page.
So Eliza was 9 years old on the 6th or 7th of August, 1870.  This places her birth date between August 7-8, 1860 and August 5-6, 1861.  Here's the big question: Does the census record tell me that? Or is it merely inferred?  Technically it is inferred.  It's still evidence for "When was Eliza Bourke born?" (because you can't have evidence without first having a question), but in this case the evidence is indirect.

The next major fact is that Eliza was born in Illinois.  This is direct evidence for the question "Where was Eliza Bourke born?"  Pretty straightforward.  Not very precise, but it will do for now.

Now comes the hard part.  Does this record tell me that Louis Bourke and Mary Bourke are Eliza's parents?  It does not.  What it does tell me is that Eliza was living in the same household as Louis and Mary Bourke and supposedly shared the same last name as Louis and Mary Bourke.  It also tells me that both Eliza's father and mother are of foreign birth (as are Louis and Mary).  We could infer that Louis and Mary are Eliza's parents, but that would be risky, as there simply isn't enough evidence to make that connection.  We can't even say for sure that Louis and Mary are married.  They might be brother and sister or cousins or any other relation - or no relation at all.

The bottom line is that this 1870 census record is helpful for clues, but not much more.  The only "facts" I can really take away are that Eliza was born in Illinois, that she did not attend school within the year, and she can read and write - and that's without taking the reliability of the information into account.  The one thing I can count on from this record is that Eliza Bourke was in Township 14, Range 9 of Saunders County, Nebraska between August 6 and 7, 1870.

In the grand scheme of things, it's not much, and at first it seemed like my "reasonably exhaustive" search would quickly become an unreasonably exhausting search.  Fortunately, subsequent census records contain a little more information that I can (and will) use to help make these connections.

Between my NGS Home Study Course and the beta testing for this yet-unidentified software, I am looking at my research in a whole new way ... and that's turning out to be a very good thing!

Do we share any ancestors?
Please email me at lostancestors [at] gmail [dot] com

Saturday, November 03, 2012

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: Ancestor Roulette

Well, Randy Seaver has posted another Saturday challenge.

Let me start by saying I couldn't use any of my great-grandmother's birth years because when I divided by 90, I got 21.  It was the same with all of my great-grandfathers.  (Until now, I never realized that all of my great grandparents were born within a 10-year period).  In any case, I've already done a complete blog post on my #21 ancestor, Theresa Burns.  So there's that.

Instead, I decided to divide by 60.  

My great grandmother was born in 1892.  The result was 31 (rounded down).

Number 31 on my ahnentafel is Jeannette (Heerdink) Stiker, my 2nd great grandmother.

Jeannette Heerdink was born in June 1871* in Evansville, Vanderburgh, Indiana.  She is the daughter of Anthony Heerdink (b. Germany) and Mary Diefenbach (b. Indiana).  She married Eugene F. Stiker on 20 June 1894 in Evansville.  They had 7 children: Justin, Frank, Vera, Lucile, Lillian, Eugene L., and Raymond.  She died on 30 March 1953.

Three facts:

1. Her nickname was Jennie (which is quite awesome, I think).

2. She only completed the 7th grade in school (according to the 1940 census).

3. She is buried at St. Anthony Catholic Cemetery in Mt. Vernon, Indiana.

*Her birth date is listed on the 1900 census as June 1871, but on her grave marker it is listed as January 31, 1869.  The truth is out there.  Somewhere.

Do we share any ancestors?
Please email me at lostancestors [at] gmail [dot] com

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Ancestor Spotlight: Thomas Patrick Slowey (1896-1963)

Thomas Patrick Slowey is my great grandfather.  He was the 7th of 12 children born to John Charles and Theresa (Burns) Slowey.  He was born on 29 December 1896 in Yankton, South Dakota, and baptized at St. Kyran Catholic Church in Mayfield, South Dakota, on 10 January 1897.  

Wedding Day
Tom lived with his parents in rural Yankton County, South Dakota until 1917, when he married Christina Ann Huber.  The couple were married on 17 April 1917 in Irene, South Dakota.  They had six children between 1918 and 1939, the third being my grandmother.

Tom worked a grain farm in the Irene/Utica area.  While he was still quite young, he got his hand caught in a corn harvesting machine - similar to the one shown below - which did quite a bit of damage.  He had to have surgery to repair his injuries and his bones were wired together.  He was unable to use his hand properly afterward.  Tom was never in the military, and I wonder if his hand injury prevented his enlistment.  His WWI Draft Registration makes no mention of an injury, so it's likely the injury occurred after 1919 (the date on the registration).  

812 Douglas Avenue
He continued farming until sometime between 1940 and 1945, when the family moved to 812 Douglas Avenue.  He worked for a time at an alcohol plant in Yankton, and then worked as a stockyard foreman for Anderson Livestock Sales until he died.

Tom survived a heart attack in October 1960.  Unfortunately, three years later he suffered another heart attack and passed away at Sacred Heart Hospital at 3:50 p.m. on 14 March 1963.  He was 66 years old.  He is buried at Sacred Heart Cemetery in Yankton.

Corn Harvester c. 1920

Do we share any ancestors?
Please email me at lostancestors [at] gmail [dot] com

Monday, October 29, 2012

My Ancestors Have Rocked You Like a Hurricane

After reading Judy Russell's post The Stormy Past, I was curious to see how many of my ancestors lent their names to hurricanes.  (I only referenced Atlantic storms for this post, and I tried not to include tropical storms).

Fortunately, I haven't found anyone in my tree named Sandy.

However, my great grandmother (Mary Alice Schneider), 2nd great grandmother (Mary Alice Egan), and 3rd great grandmother (Mary Alice McDonnall) all loaned their middle names to hurricane Alice.  First in 1954 and then again in 1955 (although the first one in 1955 turned out to be the last one in 1954 and would have been named Irene if it had been realized sooner).  And yes, these Mary Alices are mothers and daughters.  Lucky me.

Another great grandmother, Anna Christine Huber loaned her name to several hurricanes.  Anna in 1956, 1961, and 1965 (she was only a tropical storm in 1969 and 1976, and the spelling was changed in 1979 to "Ana").  There was also a tropical storm Christine in 1973, but it never reached hurricane status.

My third great grandfather, Gustav Eugene Stiker, gave his name to several hurricanes as well, but his were more recent: 1990, 2002, and 2008.  He was the only major hurricane to form during the 1990 season, and the first hurricane of the season in 2002. 

I could hardly leave out hurricanes Joan (my mom) and Jeanne (her twin sister).  Joan caused "death and destruction over a dozen countries in the Caribbean and Central America" in 1988.  The name has been retired, thankfully.  Jeanne was a moderate hurricane in 1980, but never made landfall.  She peaked as a category 2 hurricane in 1998, and again in 2004 as a category 3.

And last but not least - hurricane Jenny.  Oh yes, there I was in 1961, but barely became a hurricane before being weakened by cold weather, and I tried again in 1969, but never reached hurricane status.

Of course, there are also collateral relatives whose names were used: Bertha, Charley, Hattie, and Josephine.

All told, my ancestors' namesakes caused over 3,400 fatalities and over $15 billion (yes, that's with a B) in damage.  Who did the most damage?  That would be my Aunt Jeanne with 3,035 deaths and $7 billion in damage.  Runner up for fatalities: Joan with 216-334 deaths; runner up for damage: Gustav at $6.61 billion.

So, despite what my mother may have said when I was little, hurricane Jenny didn't hold a candle to her and her sister!

Do we share any ancestors?
Please email me at lostancestors [at] gmail [dot] com

Sunday, October 21, 2012

SNGF: Genealogy Posters

I'm a little late out of the blocks on this one.  I blame my brother, who is moving this weekend from Gainesville (Georgia) to Nashville, and finally got to my house - which is halfway - around 9 p.m.  Of course I had to take him to one of my favorite watering holes.

Aaaaanyway, over at Genea-Musings, Randy has placed before us another challenge:

1) Go to the website and choose one or more poster pictures.

2) Channel your inner genealogist and create one or more posters with a genealogy oriented saying on it. Be creative!! Be brave! Make it funny, or happy, or sad. 

So ... without further ado ... here's mine!

Do we share any ancestors?
Please email me at lostancestors [at] gmail [dot] com

I'm Two!

I can't believe it's been two years.  Seriously.  I still feel like I'm finding my blogging-legs here.  

I've come a long way in two years ... as of today, I have 95 followers on my blog page plus 138 RSS subscribers.  Of course, I don't know if any of those are duplicates, and I can't confirm that they all actually read my blog, but I'll take what I can get.

I am thankful to all of you who have taken the time to comment on my posts, offered support and criticism where necessary, and even given me a good, hearty chuckle every now and then.  

I am also thankful for the friends I've made because of my blog - those of you that I have met in person and those of you I only know virtually (which in my brain pretty much melds all into one category because I can't tell from one day to the next who is real and who isn't anymore).  

It makes it all worthwhile, and I'm looking forward to making even more friends (both real and virtual ... virtureal?) over the next year(s).


Do we share any ancestors?
Please email me at lostancestors [at] gmail [dot] com

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Some Genealogical Kindness, a Bit of Thievery, and a Baby Giraffe

I know, the blog has been quiet for the past week.  In addition to that pesky day job, I've been pretty busy cleaning up after the break-in and trying to keep up with the lessons for my NGS Home Study Course.

An Update
So far I've submitted my first two lessons and I'm working on my third.  I figure if I average about 3 weeks per lesson, I'll be finished within a year.  I'm not resting on my laurels though -- I just know that the further into the lessons I get, the harder they will be and the longer they will take.

Some Genealogical Kindness
In the mail this week, I received a copy of my great grandparents' marriage license/certificate and a copy of their marriage application from the Posey County Clerk's Office.  I was fortunate enough to meet Connie, one of the genealogists on-staff at the Clerk's Office, while I was in Birmingham for the FGS conference in August.  She has gone above and beyond the call of duty trying to get information for me about my Crowe family.  I can't wait until next year when I stop in Evansville/Mt. Vernon to visit Connie on my way to Ft. Wayne!

A Bit of Thievery
I totally stole this idea for an Ancestor Blogging Jar from Marion at A Couple of Whiles.  I plan to use this when I can't seem to think of anything for the blog.  If nothing else, it will help me get to know my ancestors.
Baby Giraffe
Incidentally, (thanks to my cousin) I've also become obsessed with watching the impending delivery of a baby giraffe - the offspring of Autumn and Walter, two Masai giraffes - at the Greenville Zoo in South Carolina.  I started watching her on Thursday night, and she still hasn't had that baby.  You'd think after 15 months, she would just get it over with.  I have discovered a lot of information that I never knew about giraffes though, so at least I'm learning something, right?

Do we share any ancestors?
Please email me at lostancestors [at] gmail [dot] com

Friday, October 05, 2012

There's a Lesson in Here Somewhere ...

I have never been so glad for a week to be over in my life.

It started out well enough ... I was getting stuff done at home and at work, and even managing to get a little research done while working on my Home Study Course lessons.

Then Wednesday.

I got a call at work from my daughter at about 4:45 p.m.  She was in tears.  She said I needed to come home right away because someone broke into our house.


So 3 hours and about a half pack of cigarettes later, the police left (after getting fingerprint dust all over the place) and we started the cleanup.  Broken glass, furniture in disarray ... even my mattress was strewn across my room.

You know what surprised me?  I wasn't worried about my research.  I back up my hard drive to Dropbox every month (thanks to Thomas MacEntee's thoughtful reminders), and back up my tree to Dropbox every time I change anything (because RootsMagic gives you that option).

Yes, as I was driving home ... after I convinced myself that my cats were faster than any burglars and were probably hiding somewhere and perfectly fine (they were) ... I was worried that the thieves stole my desktop PC (they didn't) and my laptop (they didn't) and my iPad (they didn't).  Needless to say, these were not very smart thieves.  But not because of any data that would be lost.  

So - everyone preaches about backing up your stuff because you never know when your computer will have a meltdown, but you also never know when your house will be burglarized either.  So chalk that up to another very good reason to do it.

So now, instead of having to replace my computers, I get to go shopping for alarm systems for my house.  And a big dog.  And maybe definitely a gun.

Do we share any ancestors?
Please email me at lostancestors [at] gmail [dot] com

Monday, October 01, 2012

Motivation Monday - 3rd Quarter Goal Update

Funny how the later in the year it gets, the less frequent these updates become ...

So I completely skipped July and August's updates.  So I guess we're doing this quarterly now.

Here we go:

1. Obtain the addresses, birth dates, and anniversary dates for all of my first cousins on both sides of my family … and names and birth dates of spouses and children. Oh and all my half siblings’ spouses and kids too.
Yep, still working on this one, but making progress. I have a lot of cousins.

2. Attend at least five (5) Scanfests (or equivalent) this year - and actually scan stuff.
I attended April, July, and now September.  My real intent behind this goal was to get all of my photos scanned (see goal #3), and since I completed that goal, I'm using Scanfest time to transcribe my scanned documents.

3. Scan and label at least 15 photos and/or negatives each week, or until they are done, whichever happens first.
This goal is complete.

4. Attend at least two (2) genealogy conferences.
I attended FGS in Birmingham in August, and I'll be registering this week for the Family History Expo in Atlanta in November.

5. Give at least two (2) presentations to my genealogical society.
Still trying to decide on my second topic, but it looks like I will be presenting in November.  Incidentally, I'll have my first article published in our society quarterly next month though ... does that count?

6. Index at least 200 records per month at FamilySearch Indexing.
Overall, I think I have indexed about 2,300 records this year so far.  That's an average of about 250/month - not too shabby.

7. Add at least five (5) individual ancestor stories to my website.
Still only 3 new ones added.  Guess I better get to work on this.

8. Blog at least twice per week.
31 total for July, August, and September, for an average of around 2.3 posts per week.  Acceptable. :) 

9. Finish reading Greenwood's "The Researcher's Guide to American Genealogy."
No book club for August (conflicted with FGS), and no one presented in September.  We're still on Chapter 23, scheduled for October meeting.

10. Add at least three (3) website links per week to my online toolbox.
I've actually been doing pretty well at keeping this folder cleaned out. I've added several new websites to my toolbox.

Overall, not as bad as I thought it would be.  I really need to finish the last few chapters in The Researcher's Guide and get more ancestor bios on my website.  I've started a couple of new projects in the past few months and have allowed some of my other goals to fall to the wayside a bit.  I suppose if I forego laundry and dishes, and maybe only shower on Wednesdays, I will have time to finish it all before the end of the year.

Do we share any ancestors?
Please email me at lostancestors [at] gmail [dot] com

Friday, September 28, 2012

How Will You Celebrate Georgia Archives Month?

Warning:  This post contains a lot of personal opinions.  A lot.  
On September 13, 2012, Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp issued a press release stating that the Georgia Archives will be closed to the public effective November 1, except by appointment (I'll get to this in a minute).  Five days later, he fired 7 full-time archivists, reducing the archives staff from 10 to 3.

That announcement came only days before Georgia Governor Nathan Deal proclaimed October 2012 Georgia Archives Month.

Congratulations, Georgia!  You are now the only state in the country without a public Archives.

In a recent interview, Secretary Kemp said that the Archives would operate with limited appointments only one day per week (despite the statutory requirement - O.C.G.A. Section 45-13-50 - that the Archives also be open every Saturday with access to those records that are available during regular business hours on weekdays).  

Over 6,000 researchers visited the Georgia Archives in the last fiscal year.  If we allot only 30 minutes per appointment, and don't allow for lunches, the waiting list for those researchers to schedule appointments would be over 8 years long.  And that's only if no government officials have priority appointments.  (Not to mention the fact that you really can't get a lot of research done in 30 minutes, so you'll have to make several appointments at a time or keep going to the end of that 8-year list).

The Georgia Archives is one of the oldest Archives in the country, with historical records dating back to the 1730s.  These records are vital to the history of Georgia AND to ensure the transparency of the government.  Why is this critical resource at the bottom of the list of priorities?  More importantly, why aren't more Georgians upset about it?!

I cannot fathom how the state of Georgia, with its state income tax, ad valorem taxes, and state sales tax cannot figure out how to make their budget work.  Yet they still feel that it's okay to invest $4.5 million in state funds so a millionaire campaign contributor can run his fancy new resort on Lake Lanier.  Because that's more important than the Archives.  Or - better yet - let's throw money at some variable speed limit signs in a laughable attempt to ease congestion on the Perimeter. (Now you know why I don't live in Georgia anymore - and never will again).

But I don't live in Georgia, why does this matter to me?  Well, because if our elected officials don't understand why State Archives are an integral part of both our history and our future, the next state to close its archives could be YOURS!

I urge each and every one of you to sign the Petition to Leave the State Archives Open to the Public.  Over 16,000 people from all over the world have signed the petition.  I'd like to see that number climb to over 20,000.  We absolutely need to let the government know that we will not stand idly by and watch them take away our access to public records.  After you sign the petition, go to the Georgians Against Closing State Archives on Facebook and "like" their page so you can get periodic updates on this uphill battle.

If you can make it, there is also a rally in support of the Georgia Archives and to reinstate the seven archivists who lost their jobs.  The rally will be held at noon on Wednesday, October 3 in the rotunda of the State Capitol.

I will leave you with this quote from Franklin Delano Roosevelt (shared by one of the petition signers from Atlanta):
To bring together the records of the past and to house them in buildings where they will be preserved for the use of men and women in the future, a Nation must believe in three things. It must believe in the past. It must believe in the future. It must, above all, believe in the capacity of its own people so to learn from the past that they can gain in judgment in creating their own future.

I am stepping down off my soapbox now.  Thanks for sticking around!

Do we share any ancestors?
Please email me at lostancestors [at] gmail [dot] com