Wednesday, February 29, 2012

1940 Census

The 1940 census comes out in 32 days. You may have noticed a new badge on my blog. When the census comes out, it will still need to be indexed so that it can be searched. The more people working on the project, the faster the results will be out and we will be able to continue our research finding our ancestors. For some of us, this will be the first time we are able to find certain relatives in the census. In honor of the census and to get the word out, I'll be dedicating my Wednesday posts until the  census is released to one of my relatives. My grandfather Robert Thomas served in World War II and was kind enough to leave us a journal documenting some of his time in the service. Each Wednesday I'll be posting an excerpt from his journal.

February 7, 1942 We have taken on a lot of cargo, 5 inch guns have been put on and machine guns. The people on the ships are sailors, coast guard, civilians who are going to work in the islands, nurses woman marines all together I guess about 7,000 or more on board. No one knows when we are leaving, I may go to sleep and wake up at sea who knows. I phoned Mother two times from goat island the last time to tell her where I was going and I know that she took it hard, poor Mother that is my only worry now. I wish I could get liberty to see her before we pull out. I saw everyone and tried but no soap, so will just give up the idea. At least I had a nice talk with her the first telephone call, she and I was also so happy that phone call was worth a $100 dollars, I also talked to Nadine and I was so happy to hear from her, dear little Nadine, several times while talking I had tears in my eyes I know. We eat in the dining room here and have waiters so everything is OK. on board ship I like it all right if it was not for the way Mother feels I would be all right. We are going by convoy as there are tankers, cargo ships and tin cans, troop ships with soldiers army on a ship laying in the bay so I guess we'll all pull out soon. HERE'S HOPING HOCK.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Family photo Friday

I bet you thought I'd forgotten about you. Not at all. Finally starting to feel human after the bronchitis.

Today is dedicated to my grandmother Francis Jean Thomas. She went by Jean, worked at Sears for umpteen years, really liked scotch and travelling, and was very tall. This is a photo of us on what I believe was my first birthday.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Finding a Grave

You should probably be on the lookout for mine soon, since the little bug I caught two weeks ago has turned into bronchitis. Feels like someone smacked me with a headstone. But enough morbid ramblings, on to the good stuff.

I signed up this weekend to take pictures of headstones on There is a cemetery just down the street from me that I figured would be a good place to start helping people out and thereby collecting some of my own good genealogy karma.

Let me just start by saying the Muldrow Memory Garden appears to have been laid out by a drunk person and there is no map available. I signed up to take photos of 3 graves and after an hour of searching, we found nothing. Some might say, "Well an hour isn't too much time to look." I would counter by saying, you are right, unless you are in Muldrow Oklahoma. It's a wee little cemetery. I'll be going back in the next few days to try my luck again and hopefully sketch up a bit of a map.

It is a very interesting thing to do, genealogically speaking. Many of the graves had photos and biographies.One even had a picture of a gentleman's truck. He was clearly very attached to it. I also learned about what appears to be a local custom of taking items regarding current family events to a recently departed family member's grave. My daughter told me about how many of their friends and their relatives will take sports trophies, copies of diplomas, and other important items to display on their family member's grave as a means to "keep in touch". Not only does it connect a family to their loved one, but what an interesting find for someone interested in genealogy to be able to keep up with the family over time.

There was one particular headstone that was already on findagrave, but that charmed me utterly. I have always had a special place in my heart for Guadalupe. I love Mexican folk art, and she s easily my favorite of all the images. That is why I squealed like a little girl when my daughter found this:

Forgive the bad picture. We were losing the light, but really, how beautiful. Mrs. Rojas, wherever you are, you have excellent taste.

As soon as these antibiotics kick in, I'll be back and hopefully with photos of the stones I was sent to find.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Two Cool Things

Just a quick post today so I can go care for my family that has been blighted by some sort of zombie producing virus. They've asked for brains for dinner. Send help.

Cool Thing the First:

On Wednesday we got the youth from our church signed up to start doing research on their family histories. I promised to come to each families home with cookies to get them started on learning to research and fill in those family trees. that was really cool in itself, but what was even cooler was yesterday when I was talking to the Young Men's president after a church function where someone mentioned a relative. He had pulled up Family Search on his tablet and was super excited to tell me about this grandmother who had named one of her children Jesse James. Apparently she had danced with the notorious outlaw several times. Who said family history isn't cool?

Cool Thing the Second:

Now that I'm writing my own genealogy blog, I need to learn how to pimp this thing, yo. DearMyrtle is offering a webinar on Monday February 20th (yes, tomorrow) on using Google Reader to follow blogs and kee track of them. You can sign up here.

Thank you to everyone who has stopped by and left a comment. I really appreciate it. I hope you'll keep coming by!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Family Picture Friday

I LOVE old family pictures. Mine. Yours. Beautiful pics, awkward pics. Any of them. We recently moved away from the Washington DC area. I miss it. One of the best things I got to see there was a collection of snapshots displayed at the National Gallery. Snapshots are what tell the story of a family's life. You may not get hard facts from the photo (sometimes you will, and when that happens - AWESOME) but you get a feeling for the people in them. Even people you've never met.

On Fridays I will be posting family photos. I'm still looking for photos of many of my family members, but when I do get them, I treasure them.

Today I'm posting a picture of my Great Grandmother, Anna Ruby Moore. She went by Ruby. I was 11 when she passed away, but I remember her very well. She always had a box of chocolates and a vase with breadsticks on her counter. She crocheted the most beautiful granny square afghan I'd ever seen in my life. She collected teacups from this little place in Canada where she and Great Grandpa vacationed.  She smoked Salems like a train, even when she was dying from emphysema. She also seemed to have a bit of a wild streak. In this photo she is posing with her brother Franklin. I love the bathing suits. Something tells me they were not comfortable at all when wet.

I also want to say thank you to all of my friends and family that have visited this blog and thank you to Geneabloggers for picking up my blog. I'm excited to be able to meet new people and learn more about genealogy. 

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Family History Humor

I just downloaded a marriage license for a family member and it included a copy of the state regulations regarding marriage. Section 2 states:

"Marriage is prohibited and declared void: 1. With an idiot or a lunatic."

No wonder there was so little divorce way back when. They didn't need it with a loophole like that.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Adam and Eve?

I was working at the family history library today and one of my coworkers stumbled upon a line of her family that goes back to Adam and Eve through royalty. When she said this, and showed it to me, I instantly became wary.

I'm a person of faith. Don't get me wrong. I believe that there was some sort of Adam and Eve for our race, but I also believe in science that could not be plainly written about in the Bible etc. What makes me wary is how it seems to me that the line jumped from names we all know from the bible directly to the kings and queens of Europe.

I found an example here.

Yes, royalty was much more heavily documented than the likes of you and I, however, we also know the golden rule. He who has the gold makes the rules. In the above example, the poster of the line indicates "NOTE: This lineage is not adequately documented to fully accept as accurate. It is intended for enjoyment only and not to be understood as historically correct." And thank goodness for that. 

Royalty has historically tweaked their lineages in order to make a connection to deity. Look at the Egyptian Pharaohs, and the emperors of China and Japan. If we were to believe those lines, the rulers ARE God. Unfortunately these adaptations to family lines are leading people who work on family history today astray. I think many of us would make the connection that maybe some things are missing in this lineage, but there are others who do not and will see it for precisely what they think it is: a link to Adam and Eve.

When I got home this evening I did a little research and it looks like my friend my be a victim of the Springer Hoax.  A 19th century scam designed to make money. Where was when you really needed it? What does it say though that this hoax still persists today? Even worse, how many brand new genealogists stumble into this and either think all the work is already done and give up, or still worse, give up when they realize that this is a hoax?
Ok, maybe I'm being a bit dramatic but the point still stands. If someone today, in 2012 can still run into this information on a well-respected genealogy site,how many people's research has this affected? Consider this a warning, if it seems too good to be true, it really might be. Besides that, I don't think anyone has gotten around to indexing Adam and Eve's birth records yet......

Monday, February 13, 2012

Reason 8,554,641,315 to keep a journal and pay attention to details.

My great-great grandmother's name was Emily Ottaway. We never knew much about her. We knew she was born in England. We were pretty certain that her son, my Great Grandfather Emil, was named for her and that he was her only child with her husband Thomas Thomas. We know even less about him.

Emily and Thomas have haunted me since I began working on my family history. It seemed so unlikely that we had lost information about people who were so recent in our family history. It didn't help that most of my family is not particularly close and many of the older folks have already passed away. Resources can be hard to come by. It wasn't until a lot of fruitless searching and wrong turns that I finally found her.

Months ago I found an Emily Ottaway that I was sure was her. I found her family, her siblings, her parents. I just KNEW it was her. She was born in the right time frame. She just seemed right. Unfortunately, I could never find any immigration records for her. After much frustration, I decided to tackle things in another way. I looked up her name in A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames. there was a whole list of alternate spellings of her name including Ottway, Otway and Otewy. So I revised my searches and stumbled upon a lady named Emily Otterway. She married a Scottish gentleman by the name of Angus Arthur Sutherland. (Just saying that name makes me picture a burly ginger-haired man wearing a kilt and playing bagpipes on a breezy, heather covered hill. I fairly swoon when I consider it.) They had two children named Kenneth and Albert. Something about the name Sutherland tickled some vague recognition in my tiny brain, so I printed her information but I just tucked it away thinking that this was not my Grandmother since there was no mention of the first husband Thomas or her son Emil.

A few days later, I was sorting through some pages in my binder that contained some stories and things that my parents had told me about family members that I use as research helps. It was then that my brain finally landed upon the connection that it couldn't make a few days earlier. (I have teenagers. My brain is currently very overtaxed. Be nice to me.) My father and I were having a conversation with a friend who had married a man named Sutherland. Dad mentioned that he thought that Emily may have married a man named Sutherland.


I went back to the page I found for Emily Otterway and her husband Angus. Still nothing. So I Googled her sons. That was when I found it. An obituary for Kenneth Sutherland that mentioned his brother Emil Thomas. I did it! There she was! I was ecstatic! I think i may have danced a little bit, but if you ask me to perform said dance, I will deny that it ever happened.

I knew at that moment that I was the greatest genealogist that ever lived. It was only a matter of time before I was giving lectures on research. High on confidence, I went through my binder with my hard copies of family records and flipped past my grandfather's journal. Feeling incredibly confident, I scanned his journal to see if there was any mention of other family members that I had missed. Indeed there was mention of someone.

Grandma Sutherland.

Yes, it had been there the whole time. Along with a discussion about how her son Albert would take her passing. Ok. So perhaps I was not the world's greatest genealogist. It was still a good moment, but had I been more careful to note connections and people in the conversations and records that I already had, I'd have found her so much sooner. I made this connection a little over a week ago and since then I've scratched the surface of her family and found more than 100 pages of documentation for her family. Still only one mention of Thomas Thomas, but it's more than I had before.

I've also begun going through the records I already have and made note of all of the connections and resolved to take notes ANYTIME I am having a discussion with a family member about our family history. Had either Dad or I made that connection before, we'd be much further ahead than we are today.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Picking up Breadcrumbs

A few years ago, my father handed me a flash drive with a copy of our family tree on it. I've dabbled in working on it, but there is already so much done. I never thought I'd be able to pick up on dead ends that my family was having. I set it aside.

Recently, we moved to Oklahoma so that I could be a stay at home mom. This gave me time to pursue my interests. One of them was that flash drive. In January, Dad was out for a visit and we went to the local family history library to get some information. I saw a sign asking for volunteers. I signed up. Since that time, I've managed to not only make huge strides in working on my step-mothers family tree, but make huge breakthroughs in my own family history. Some of the breakthroughs were things that I never thought I would have. Ever.

I decided to start a blog after listening to Lisa Louise Cooke's seminar on blog and podcasts at Rootstech 2012. Lisa runs the Genealogy Gems podcast, and she mentioned how much could be done, just by posting a blog and discussing my progress. So... here we are.

Since my parents worked so hard on our family history, I can't really say that I'm working on my family tree, since all of the obvious work has already been done. Right now, I feel like Hansel and Gretel wandering through the woods following a breadcrumb trail. I'm looking for the bits, pieces, hints and clues that will lead me to places that my parents never managed to reach. I'm gathering breadcrumbs by locating the documents to support the work that is already complete, and making sure that the work that has been done is accurate. Unfortunately this also means that a beginner at genealogy is working on projects at a much higher skill level than I now possess. I'm hoping that by logging my progress and trials, I can reach out to the genealogy community for help and guidance, but maybe some other poor sap in my situation will be able to learn from my dumb mistakes.

I'm sure there will be plenty to learn from.