Review – My Heritage Book by Deanna Bufo Novak

This Christmas my husband’s entire family went on vacation together to Disney World.  It was an incredible week of fun!  One of the highlights for me came on our last day.  My mother-in-law purchased a copy of My Heritage Book by Deanna Bufo Novak for my kids(her grandkids).  To top it off, Deanna was scheduled to be at Epcot that afternoon.  We could meet her and have the book signed.

Myself, my older daughter, and Deanna at Epcot.

Myself, my older daughter, and Deanna at Epcot.

My Heritage Book looks at the traditions and customs of the countries you where your ancestors are from.  You as the buyer get to decide what countries your book includes.  There are currently almost 100 countries to choose from.  Each section focuses on a little geography, the country flag, food, important festivals, people, stories, and an invention/music/sport that originate from the country. The last section of the book is about the United States.  The book ends with pages to write your own family traditions down and a family tree to fill in. The book includes beautiful illustrations by Alicia Bresee.

The best part of the My Heritage Book is that it is completely customized to you and your history.  My mother-in-law and I discussed which countries to include in the book to best represent the extremely varied ancestry my kids enjoy (aka European mutts).  My girls love that their name is printed at the beginning and end of each country.  They also love learning how to say hello and goodbye in the language of each country.

My Heritage Book was written for school aged children.  The book hits the mark for my girls who are aged 4 and 7.  It is just the right amount of information and interesting traditions to keep them engaged.  The vocabulary is perfect for school children.  My new reader is able to enjoy the book on her own with just a little help for the words in other languages.  I was happy to see my girls understand the concept that you can have ancestors from other countries and our own country.

It was such a pleasure to meet Deanna Bufo Novak at Epcot that afternoon.  She has created an incredible product for any family to enjoy.  I am so happy we have added this book to our collection!  I highly recommend visiting her website and ordering a book at www.myheritagebook.com.

Deanna will also be at Roots Tech next week.  If you are lucky enough to be going, stop by her booth and check out her products!

When It Starts To Make Sense

At the beginning of the month, I had the opportunity to present with another member of my local genealogy society to a local breakfast club.  Our topic was “Getting Started With Researching Your Family.”  During the presentation I realized I do not have any of my ancestors added to my watchlist in FamilySearch.

Last week, after adding all direct ancestors and their siblings to my watchlist on FamilySearch, I was taking a look at the family of John F. Flock and Amner Caroline Ramsey.  I noticed that I did not have death dates for several of their daughters.  The shiny blackhole was calling my name again.

Did I jump in?  Of course!  I started by reviewing each daughter’s details page.  The key was to notice that Laura Flock had marriage information added by another researcher. Using the married name, I was able to locate a gravestone on FindAGrave.  I was excited to see Laura’s memorial page had been linked to some of her siblings.  I suddenly had married names for several of the other daughters.

Along with many new facts to add to the family tree, there was an obituary added to the memorial page at FindAGrave for Elsie Clara Flock.  The obituary stated that Elsie and her husband had moved to Fall River, Kansas about 1910.  And it all started to make sense!!

I had always wondered why Effie Flock and Abraham Strickler had moved to Fall River, Kansas.  Now I have a clue, Effie and her family moved at the same time as her little sister, Elsie, and Elsie’s family.  I am still not sure what enticed the families to move such a distance.  Maybe someday that little piece of information will float to the surface.

Effie and her daughters left Fall River only a couple of years later after Abraham passed away.  Elsie remained in Fall River, Kansas until her husband passed away in 1938.  Elsie then moved to Colorado Springs, Colorado.

I started by adding people to my watchlist to see what facts were getting added/changed to people I am related to.  I ended up adding more information because another researcher had done just that.  The one marriage fact opened up a whole can of new facts about the family.  I have heard people voice concerns about others being able to make changes in FamilySearch.  This is just another example of why it is a great idea.  Distant cousins have different information then I do, together we can paint the fuller picture of our ancestors.

Christmas Surname Tree

Yesterday I was inspired by a blog post at Olive Tree Genealogy.  Lorine McGinnis Schulze posted her Holiday Tree which includes the surnames she is researching.  You can take a look HERE.

Being in the Christmas spirit, I created my own surname tree.  This tree is includes all of the names I have identified for my kids ancestors up to their 3rd great grandparents.  It was a fun quick project.  I am now officially ready for the Holidays!

Christmas Name Tree

Always Ready To Update Myself

This week I was so grateful to present “Genealogy Blogs:How They Can Help Your Research” to the Napa Valley Genealogical Society.  The members of the society were so welcoming and friendly.  It was such a wonderful experience!  If you are ever in the Napa, California area be sure to stop and check out their library!  They have over 8,000 books and maps.

My presentation covered what a blog is, how to find blogs to read, RSS readers, and a look at creating your own blog.  At the end of the presentation, one of the members of the society asked a very innocent question.  “Does your website have follow and share buttons?”  While pointing out the subscribe buttons at the top of my widget bar, I was stunned to realize I had never added share buttons.

It was a great suggestion to have a share button on my website.  Share buttons allow a reader to click and share the blog post on their own Facebook, Twitter, or other social media platforms.

For me, this is a chance to connect to someone who does not currently read my blog.  I just wrote a blog post about how amazing Facebook Friends can be.  What if a reader shares a blog post on their Facebook feed and that connects me to a distant cousin?! Jackpot!

So today I have officially installed social media share buttons to my website.  A huge “Thank You” to the woman with the question.  I think my website is a little more friendly today thanks to your keen eye.

Wedding Wednesday – Matteo Ciardionei and Adele Siletto

In my last post, I told my story of how social media led me to some important documents for my Italian line.  You can read about it here.  The first document is the marriage record of my great-grandparents, Matteo Ciardonei and Adele Siletto.

Ciardonei Siletto Marriage record

Using a couple of different sources, I was able to piece together a rough translation:

Act of Marriage

Number 14

Ciardonei and Siletto

 

The year one thousand nine hundred thirteen the 23 of December of three publications made in the church of St. Stefano, presented to the parish priests

Marriage was celebrated according to the rites of the Church between

Ciardonei Matteo, twenty-four, native of Cossano, living in Cossano, son of the deceased Pietro, who was son of the deceased Matteo, and son of the deceased Ciamporcero Antonia, daughter of the deceased Stefano.

And Siletto Adele, twenty, native of Cossano, living in Cossano, daughter of the living Guiseppe, who was the son of the deceased Stefano, and daughter of the living Maglione Anastasia, daughter of the deceased Giacinto.

Present as witnesses: Maglione Giovanni, son of deceased Lorenzo and Arsalice Pietro, son of deceased Pietro

With the consent of the present

Signed by Matteo Ciardonei, Adele Siletto, Pietro Arsalice, Giovanni Maglione and Guiseppe C?rieu (priest)

Facebook Friends

Last month my local genealogy society (Marin County Genealogical Society) held our annual workshop meeting.  One of the topics presented was Using Social Media To Further Your Genealogy Research.  I want to follow-up what our members learned by sharing a success story about how social media has aided my research.

Several years ago, while working on my father’s Italian line, I sent a message to a woman using the messaging service on Ancestry.com.  This woman (I will refer to her as Minnie for privacy) was the owner of a family tree which included a person who was listed above my family member on the passenger manifest for the trip from Italy.  What caught my eye and made me contact Minnie is both men were from the same very small town in Italy.

Minnie and I have not found a link to prove a relation between us but it is still possible since there are only about 12 surnames in this town.  Since our initial emails, we have helped each other with our research.  I found and sent digital copies of church records to Minnie.  When she visited Italy a couple of years ago, Minnie sent me a book about Cossano Canavese which includes a photo of my great-great-grandfather.  More importantly, Minnie and I became Facebook friends.

As part of her trip to Italy, Minnie became friends with several of the people she met in Cossano.  Minnie friended her Italian friends on Facebook as a way to stay in touch.  Minnie also suggested to me that I friend one of the women (I will refer to her as Lily for privacy) as she had a lot of knowledge of the town and its history.  At the time I friended Lily we exchanged a couple of messages about who we were related to and our interests.  I have enjoyed seeing the photos of Cossano that Lily posts to her Facebook account.

Last month, I was reviewing my research and realized that while I had supporting documents for my Italian line to 1899 (when the microfilm ended) I was missing a few critical items from 1900-1921.  I sent a message to Lily to ask her what was the best way to get the documents.  Who should I contact and what do I need to say? Does it have to be in Italian?  I included in my message that I was looking for the marriage of my great grandparents, baptism of my grandfather, and death records for both great grandparents.

Two days later, I had a message back from Lily.  She had walked down to the church in town and had taken photographs of all the documents!!  She also informed me that the current vice-mayor is one of my relatives who remembers my grandfather.  I have the contact email for her and Facebook information for her son.

If I had not reached out to other family history researchers and created relationships using social media I would not have these special documents right now.  I now have a copy of both of my grandparents signatures and more of the story of how my grandfather came to the U.S. has been filled in.  I also have started new relationships with distant cousins in Italy.

Social media lets you connect and collaborate with other researchers and distant family.  You never know how those connections may lead you to a piece of the missing genealogy puzzle!

Tombstone Tuesday – Moses McSpadden

In June of this year my Dad and I embarked on a cross county adventure.  The purpose of the trip was to deliver a large yellow truck full of items for my Mother to my parent’s house in Virginia.  About halfway across country, I was looking at the route we planned to travel and realized we would be passing through Washington County, Virginia.  As you pass from Tennessee into Virginia on Interstate 81, you enter Washington County.

About ten miles north of the state line sits Abindgon, Virginia.  I have identified several direct line families who settled just outside of town along the Holstein River.  These early settler families contain my 6th great grandparents.  Specifically, the family of Moses McSpadden lived across the river from the family of Hugh Berry.  One of Hugh’s sons would marry one of Moses’ daughters and the rest was history…

me to moses mcspadden

I have previously located the gravestone for Moses McSpadden on FindAGrave.com.  Knowing he was buried in the graveyard of the Green Spring Presbyterian Church, I convinced my Dad to take a detour off the interstate to pay our respects.

I am so thankful for AliceP, James Archer, and Belle who all the way back in 2003 posted information of Moses McSpadden’s stone.  If I did not have the photo to use as a reference to locate Moses’ gravestone, we probably would have missed it.  I also would not have been able to read as much of the engraving as Belle did.

Moses’ gravestone is no longer standing.  It appears a tree used to stand nearby and the stone now lies on the soft ground of the decomposing roots.  The stone is now barely legible.  Here are a couple of photos of the gravestone as it is today.

Moses McSpadden stone is in the middle on the ground.

Moses McSpadden stone is in the middle on the ground.

Moses McsSpadden Gravestone 2015

Moses McsSpadden Gravestone 2015

It was a wonderful afternoon to reach out and touch some history.  My Dad, who was skeptical when we arrived, was just as excited as I was when we left the cemetery.

The next day, after a visit to the Historical Society of Washington County Virginia, I learned there was a reason why Moses was buried in the cemetery where we found him.  Stay tuned for my next blog post to get the story.

Summer Genealogy Happenings

This summer is easily ranked as one of my best summers ever!  Along with some incredible trips and quality family time, I snuck in some genealogy moments.

My first adventure was driving across country with my dad.  We took the Southern route from California to Virginia.  Highlights on this trip included the Grand Canyon, Petrified Natural Forest, adding three new states (I have only 1 more to visit before seeing all 50) and Bristol Motor Speedway.  The best moments occurred in the last 24 hours of our week-long trip.  We pulled off the freeway as we crossed the Tennessee border into Virginia and visited the grave of my 6th great-grandfather, Moses McSpadden.  The next morning I had an incredible visit to the Historical Society of Washington County, Virginia.  I cannot wait to make a trip back to do more research there.

My next adventure began when we arrived at my parents house.  My husband and kids flew in and joined to fun.  After a week of fun, hubby flew home.  The kids and I stayed to play another couple of weeks on the river.  My parents are the best and agreed to watch the kids one day so I could spend a day researching at the National Archives in Washington, DC.  I was a maniac and took almost 300 photos.  Each photo equals a page in a pension or land sale document.

My last great adventure was a trip to Europe.  We did a week of vacation in France with the family before heading to Switzerland for the hubby to work.  The work I have done on my Strickler line has led to Abraham Strickler who came to the United States in the late 1720’s.  Work I have found from other researchers points to my Abraham being related to the Stricklers who lived on the shore of Lake Zürich.  I have not had time to follow-up this research but I looks credible.  Several of our days were spent in Zürich, so one day the kids and I took a ferry ride down the lake to see what Horgen looks like.  Today, the whole lake is surrounded by towns with homes that crawl up the hillsides from lake level.  It was fun to watch and imagine what it must have looked like 300 years ago when it was all farm land.

I will write some follow-up blogs posts with more information about each genealogy adventure I had this summer!

Raymond Mitchell 1921 – 2015

A little over a week ago, my family lost another incredible person.  Uncle Raymond was my grandmother’s eldest brother and the last surviving child of Dudley Moses Mitchell and Opal Blanche Strickler.  He was 94 years old when he passed.

I remember a couple of visits with Uncle Raymond and Aunt Juanita as a child.  The most prominent is when we stayed with them on a trip across county when I was 7 years old.  I got my first milkshake at a true Malt shop and visited my first grain elevator with Raymond and Juanita.

I feel so incredibly lucky to have grown closer with this side of my family in the last five years.  On two different trips to Kansas in the last several years I got to visit with Uncle Raymond and get to know him.  I can’t help but smile when I think of the drive around Topeka where he pointed out houses, told stories, and paid respects to family gravestones. He was so generous with sharing all he could remember.  There was a lot of laughter and love that day.

Rest in Peace.

Raymond and Roberta Mitchell at Raymond's 92nd birthday.

Raymond Mitchell and Roberta Mitchell Fleming at Raymond’s 92nd birthday.

This is the obituary for Uncle Raymond. (reprinted with permission)

In Memory of
RAYMOND A. MITCHELL
1921 – 2015

Raymond A. Mitchell, 94, of Topeka, passed away on Friday, May 29, 2015 at Aldersgate Village in Topeka. He was born February 20, 1921 in Topeka, KS, the son of Dudley M. and Opal B. Strickler Mitchell.

Raymond attended Hutchinson High School. He was an Army Veteran of WWII. He resided in Topeka since 1991. Raymond was employed as a manager for the Farmland Cooperatives for 30 years prior to retiring in 1985. In 1983, he was appointed by Governor John Carlin to the Kansas State Grain Advisory Commission. He was a member of Grace United Methodist Church and the Gideons International.

Raymond married Juanita Burleson on May 3, 1942 in Hutchinson. She preceded him in death on November 15, 2001. He was also preceded in death by two brothers and two sisters.

Survivors include three children, Judith Dene (Melvin) Farris of Paola,KS, Jalayn Rae (John) Love of Berryton, KS, Rev. Victor A. (Ellen) Mitchell of Highland, IL, six grandchildren, twelve great-grandchildren.

Services will be held at 11:00 a.m. Wednesday, June 3, 2015 at Grace United Methodist Church. Burial will follow in Penwell-Gabel Cemetery. Raymond will lie in state and the family will receive friends from 6:00 – 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 2, 2015 at Penwell-Gabel Mid Town Chapel.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be given to Gideons International, P.O. Box 140800, Nashville, TN 37214-0800.

Dempsey Family In A City Directory

My paternal grandmother’s maiden name is Dempsey.  She grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  I recently began using a technique to mine hints from Ancestry.com by dataset (read more here).  I applied this same technique to the city directory database at Ancestry.com.  One of the hints was for Charles F Dempsey.  He is my grandmother’s father and my great-grandfather.

I was not surprised to find the family living at 1415 Brookline Boulevard.  This is an address I have found time and again for the family.

Dempsey, Charles F (Amelia J) entry, Polk's Pittsburgh City Directory 1937.  Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: R.L. Polk & Co., Publishers, 1937. Page 343. Accessed 9 June 2015 at www.ancestry.com: Ancestry.com, U.S. City Directories, 1821-1989 [database online].

Dempsey, Charles F (Amelia J) entry, Polk’s Pittsburgh City Directory 1937. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: R.L. Polk & Co., Publishers, 1937. Page 343. Accessed 9 June 2015 at www.ancestry.com: Ancestry.com, U.S. City Directories, 1821-1989 [database online].

 What I love is the entire family is listed in the directory.  James and Mary Dempsey arrived in the United States from Scotland in 1883 or 1884.  They had five children: Catherine, Charles, Edward, James Leo, and John (alpha order). You can easily see each child listed in the city directory.  The entire family, except for James Leo and his wife Clara, lived just a few houses away from each other.  James and Clara were living only 5 blocks away on the same street as Clara’s parents.

1403 Brookline Boulevard, Pittsburgh, PA

1403 Brookline Boulevard, Pittsburgh, PA

1415 Brookline Boulevard, Pittsburgh, PA

1415 Brookline Boulevard, Pittsburgh, PA