Aloha 2019!

I hope everyone had a happy holiday season! To start the New Year I decided to update my WordPress blog to the new 5.0 update. There is a completely new editor in this version that works very differently than the prior versions. Think moving from Word to something totally not Word.

I am up for the challenge and in some ways the new format makes sense. I will be spending the rest of the week trying to find some how to videos to make sure I am using the new editor correctly. I also need to learn how the plugins work with this new setup because I already see that my spell checker seems to be missing.

In the near future, if you see something that looks funky, not to worry, I will figure it out soon enough. Mahalo!! (I am full of Hawaiian spirit because we just got home from a great trip to Maui!)

A Renewed Effort To Digitize My Archive

I live in Northern California.  Our geographic area has seen several disastrous fires in the last year.  The land my husband’s family has in Hopland had a near miss this past summer.  The entire other side of the valley burned as part of the Mendocino Complex Fire.  The  western side of the valley has burned before and it will again sometime in the future.

One of the biggest lessons in the last year is urban/suburban areas are not immune to fire.  Both Santa Rosa and Redding saw how fire does not discriminate cities from rural areas.  My family has created a fire evacuation plan.  We have boxes ready to load and go with supplies.  I also have a list inside one of my kitchen cabinets of other items to grab if I have time  when evacuating.

While I would love my genealogy archive to be at the top of that list -realistically my kids, dogs, and husband need to come first.  Within my genealogy treasures I have a mental list of how to prioritize what to take.  Physical items need to be cataloged and kept in one area so they are easy to grab.  Paper items will be at the bottom of the list.

The good news is there is a way to lower my risk of losing my genealogy treasures.  I can digitize all of my paper records and keep them in the cloud.  I can also photograph all the physical items.

Over the years I have talked about getting this project accomplished.  Sadly, I always started and never finished.  Instead the pile has slowly grown.

I have been listening to Janine Adams, The Organized Genealogist, new podcast, Getting To Good Enough.  I have identified with sooo (yes, all the o’s are needed) many of the episodes.  I feel that having a better understanding of why my attempts at my digitization project have not worked will hopefully help me to complete the project this time.  My personal favorite episode is about rewarding yourself as you go.  I will definitely be implementing this concept!

I will be using a “Treasure” tag at the front of my digitizing blog post names to identify what I am trying to accomplish.  I am also using the ClearScanner app on my Android phone to speed up the process.  It allows you to identify the edges of a document before you save.  Also, I am creating citations but will not be focusing on perfection for each one.  Instead my goal is to get enough information included so someone else can follow my research.  The punctuation may not be perfect but again, not my goal.

So please, sit back and enjoy all the digitized images coming your way!

An Important Checkbox

2017 was a year of highs and low for my family.  We created many incredible memories.  Traveling to Finland and meeting family is something none of us will ever forget.

2017 was also the year my husband and I lost our remaining grandparents.  Between August and December, my paternal grandmother and my husband’s paternal grandfather and maternal grandmother all passed away.

Both of us have commented how lucky we were to have grandparents who lived such long lives.  Our children who are 9 and 6 were able to grow and form relationships with their great-grandparents.  I only have a couple of memories of one great-grandparent from my childhood.

Today was the day I went to FamilySearch Family Tree and made an important change to my husband’s grandfather’s profile.  I unchecked the living box and added a death date for the last of a generation in our family.  I took a few minutes to digest this.  For our  branches of the family, an entire generation is no longer with us.  My family had a run of 9 years with 4 living generations. I am so thankful for each and everyone one of those years for adding to our story.

I am working on life sketches for each our grandparents who passed last year.  All three grandparents lived long lives so there is a lot of history to cover for each of them.  As I finish each sketch, I will publish it here on my blog.

 

Wait…. Are My Kids Russian?

Our trip to Finland this summer was incredible for so many reasons.  My favorite being connecting with extended family on my husband’s side. Another important part of the trip was learning more about Scandinavian history. Specifically, this year is the 100 year anniversary of Finland as a country.  The Republic of Finland, as we know it today, gained independence from Russia in December 1917.

History of Finland from Wikipedia

The area has a long history though.  After the middle ages, Finland became part of Sweden.  It remained this way until the early 1700’s when Sweden and Russia began to take turns controlling the area.  Russian forces occupied Finland twice in the first half of the 1700’s.  Sweden once again regained control of the area by 1743.  Also by this time the area was called Finland by both the Swedish and the Russians.

The Finnish war of 1808-1809 ended with Finland being taken over by Russia once again.  It was declared the Grand Duchy of Finland in 1918.  This was an autonomous part of Russia.  Finland was okay with this arrangement until Alexander III took the Russian throne in 1881.  He began a period of “Russification.”  My husband’s relatives explained this time as Russia remembering they owned Finland and began to exploit it.  Men were required to spend time in the Russian Army, the Finnish economy was overtaken by Russians, towns were renamed after Russians, etc.  The worst of it came in 1899 when Russia declared Russian Law as the law of the land.

The Russian Revolution occurred in 1917.  Finland took the opportunity to declare their independence and create the Republic of Finland.

So what does this history have to do with my children?  A lot.  My husband’s 2nd great grandparents, Charles Mattson and Wendla Batmaster, both immigrated to the San Francisco area from Ostrobothnia at the turn of the century. Both left Finland due to hard economic times under Russian rule. Both were born in the 1880’s and both identified as Finnish.

So are my kids Russian or Finnish?

When looking at history, technically they were Russian since Finland was part of Russia.  Deep history would indicate they were Swedish.  Sweden had control of the land area first.  So maybe my kids are Finnish Russian Swedes? Haha! Just kidding.

The answer is no. Your identity is not always rooted in the dates of history.  My kid’s immigrant ancestors came from families who had lived in Finland for hundreds of years.  We know Finland was referred to as Finland and the people as Finnish since the late 1600’s.  The families identified as Finnish even during Russian rule.  My kids are part Finnish.

Blog Birthday Fail

OOPS!!  I missed my own blogiversary this month.  The bad news is the anniversary was two weeks ago. The good news is I was in Virginia talking all things family history with my Mom and her cousins when I missed the big day.

My mom’s cousins flew to Virginia for a visit.  I had been in town the few days before their arrival so I stayed an extra day for some family time.  We spent the day traveling to Page County, Virginia.  I was able to show them the area my ancestors helped found in the mid-1700’s.  The highlight was driving to the Strickler-Louderback house.

The Strickler-Louderback house is on the banks of the Shenandoah River in Page County, Virginia.  My 3rd great-grandfather, David Strickler, built the brick home that stands today.  The Strickler’s owned the home for many years and then sold it to the Louderback family.  It was so fun to share this history with family!

Happy 6 Years to my blog!!

A New Idea To Display Your Family Tree

My house was dominated last year by the movie Inside Out.  This is an animated Disney movie which played on repeat in my house.  You can also find lots of fun games, kids activities, and shop for anything about the movie at Disney Movies.

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The main characters in the movie are the emotions which control an eleven year old girl named Riley.  Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear, and Disgust run headquarters in the brain where core memories are stored.  The core memories create these islands which represent different aspects of Riley’s personality (family island, friendship island, hockey island, etc).  When you view the islands from headquarters you see lots of color and neon.

At this point you may be asking yourself, “How does this tie into genealogy?!”

Like all things Disney, the movie not only sells merchandise, there is a game you can download onto your phone for your kids to play.  I was playing the game and working my way through family island when I noticed this:

inside-out

A NEON FAMILY TREE!!!  This would be the coolest way to get family interested in your family tree.

I have since amended my dream list of what I would do after winning the lottery to include a neon family tree to hang up in my mommy cave. I just need to start playing the lottery!  I need to take a safer route and ask Santa!

Summer Adventures In Genealogy

The last couple of months have been incredible.  I cannot believe how quickly it has flown by.  Then again they say time flies when you are having fun!

Back in April, I was working on the probate file of Willis Coffey.  I have received more documents from the DeKalb County Historical Society.  The short story is that when Willis passed away, the children from his first marriage went to court against the second wife and their half-brother from that marriage.  It reads like a Lifetime Movie.

I was distracted from the drama of Willis Coffey for a couple of reasons.  First, I was re-elected as President of the Marin County Genealogical Society.  I am looking forward to another year of working with great people on our Board of Directors.

The second distraction is working with a friend on their family tree.  One of our good friends (GG) needed help to work on his paternal line.  He has tested his DNA to compare to a person we are pretty sure is related.  I have been building the paper trail so when the results come in, there is a tree to work with.  This project has been a blast!  I am so lucky because GG’s family only arrived in the United States a few generations back.  The gateway ancestor has a fairly uncommon name so tracing him back to Denmark was a breeze.  From there I have found over 50 digital images of the family in the Ancestry.com Denmark Church Records.

Gregers Erichsen Death Record 1746

The farthest ancestor for GG we have identified is Gregers Erichsen. His death record on 19 September 1746 states he is 77 years old. This gives us the earliest date of 1669 for this family.  Just incredible!!  Just thinking about it makes me happy all over again. I am so thankful for the time I got to flip through the church records and learn all about patronymic research.

My children got out of school in early June.  We have been on one adventure after the next. We visited my parents in Virginia and my uncle and aunt in Seattle.  Not too much genealogy research was accomplished in June but I was able to get a bunch of documents transcribed on the plane rides.

One of my biggest projects this summer has been to clean out our office and the top of my sewing table.  My husband was shocked at the two black garbage bags of paper I was able to get rid of.  Being liberated from all the clutter has led us to start using the office again.  It also created specific piles of genealogy work to digitize and write about.

This month has had genealogy peek into the picture more than I thought it would.  Look for a blog post about a previously unknown sister for my grandfather.  I am also going to blog about my experiences with DNA testing.  In the last month, the autosomal DNA results for both of my parents and one of my mother’s cousins has come in.  I having been immersing myself in DNA education to figure out what it all means.

The rest of the summer includes more adventures with the kids.  They are in dance camp this week, which has created time to write this blog post.  Hopefully, I can keep my new schedule of 20 minutes a day to either scan, transcribe, or write something.

How is your summer going?

My Ancestor Score Card

Every now and then the Ancestor Score Card makes it rounds in the genealogy blogs.  This is a chart that compares the possible number of ancestors in each generation to the number you have identified.

Last month, I saw a couple of blog posts focusing on the genealogists Ancestor Score Card.  Today I want to share mine.

8 generation score card

I am very happy with the progress I have made in my family tree.  It will be really interesting to see when I finally crack the 100% level at the 6th generation.  The four ancestors I need to identify are the parents of James Dempsey and Mary Ann O’Neil.  Haha!  This should be fun to find in Scotland.

Filling out this chart is not my goal for my genealogy research.  I enjoy filling out the lives of each ancestor with stories.  I think this is a fun exercise to take stock of the work done so far.

Ancestor Birthplace Chart

Last week the genealogy world was all about sharing their Ancestor Birthplace Charts.  It started with J. Paul Hawthorne on his Facebook page.  It quickly went viral and the charts were popping up on Facebook and genealogy blogs.

What most impressed me about the charts I was seeing is the visual migration pattern that is created.  Since each place is assigned a different color, the migration pattern is a completely different representation then I have ever seen.

I played with my chart all weekend to find a color pattern I enjoyed.  This morning I decided I needed to do a chart for my children to show how different their story is from mine.  My husband’s family has a very different migration story than my own.  I love the results.  I plan on printing these charts to hang in my office.

My family has definitely participated in populating the West.  As you can see every couple of generations, the family continued across the United States. An interesting note to add to this story is my niece and nephew were born in Virginia.  The migration continues….

Birthplace migration sierra

 

My kids have a different view in their chart because of my husband’s family.  I was shocked to see how many generations have been born in California.  My kids have some deep roots back to the mid 1800’s in this state!

birthplace migration kids

This spurred me to looking at the dates of admission for statehood for each state on the chart.  I knew California was admitted in 1850.  I was surprised to see Kansas was not an “official” state until 1861.  My ancestors formally claimed land in Kansas in 1853 as soon as the territory was up for grabs. Just another reminder to always look at historical events to see how they shaped the lives of your ancestors!

I would be interested in doing this exercise again but in a different format.  I would like to see a circle chart with my kids in the middle that was color coded in the same manner.  I think it would be much easier to add additional generations to a circle chart.

 

 

A Family Tree With Index Cards and Black Tape

I try not to watch TV in real time.  I love my DVR.  This week, I caught up on some episodes of Elementary.  The show is a modern interpretation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s books. The show features Jonny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu as Sherlock and Watson.  I enjoy the different ways the show incorporates the original books.  Sometimes it is very obvious such as Sherlock’s battle with his arch enemy, Moriarty.  Other ways are more refined such as Sherlock being a recovering drug addict.  Drugs are very prevalent in the books.

The episode I just watched was called “Hounded.”  It began with a spin on the “Hounds of Baskerville” story.  The story opens with Charles Baskerville dying after being chased by an animal.  Not long after, this “animal” is captured after chasing the dead man’s brother, Henry (Henry lives).  It turns out the animal is actually a robot built by a company owned by the dead man’s cousin, Roger.

This is where genealogy enters the picture.  The three men (Charles Baskerville, Henry Baskerville, and cousin, Roger Stapleton) are the last living heirs to a vast fortune left by patriarch Hugo Baskerville.  There is a great scene with Sherlock and Watson standing in front of a large family tree created with index cards and black tape.

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It appears all branches of the family tree have died out.  Sherlock proposes that there may be an unknown heir from a non-paternity event. He goes on to describe an illegitimate child as a “cross pollination event”.  An interesting way of looking at it!

I was cracking up as Watson says,”So all we have to do is look through 120 years of birth records to find our new suspect?!”

The genealogy laughs continued when Sherlock was explaining his ideas to Henry Baskerville as to who killed his brother.  Henry says to Sherlock, “He or she could have been born anywhere in the world sometime in the last century to anyone of several dozen people!!”

A plan is hatched to have Henry “kill” his cousin, Roger.  Therefore, since the last heirs are eliminated, the killer/unknown heir will come forward to collect his or her fortune.  Sure enough, with a few minutes left in the show, Miss Laura Lyons appears to collect her money.  She claims to be the daughter of Ike Stapleton, the dead older brother of cousin Roger.  She also worked for Roger and had access to that robot animal who caused the death of Charles Baskerville at the beginning of the episode.

I always enjoy when genealogy is part of a tv show.  I really enjoyed the way it was incorporated into Elementary. A huge thank you to the writers for not portraying family history research as a one click find your answers. I also enjoyed the large black tape family tree.  I wish I had a wall to go crazy on in my house!