Sunday, 25 January 2015

Keep Clicking

When I first started blogging, I didn't give much thought to the type of blog I would create. Questions like am I a story teller or teacher didn't even enter my mind. As I started reading other blogs, I began to think I should provide tips and tricks. I'm computer literate. I've been designing business-to-business websites for as long as they've existed and understand the limits of databases and how to pull out the information contained in them. I also manage a research team and we know our way around government rules and regulations.

So I wrote a post about using census records in your research and taking full advantage of every bit of information contained in them. And I was one of the worst posts I've ever written and to this day I go back and forth when I think about deleting it. That experience taught me I am not a teacher. So I stuck with what I knew best -- telling stories.

But then I realized my stories sometimes contained research case studies -- not tutorials on how to do something in the abstract sense but rather how I did something to solve a specific research problem, using a tip or technique I learned from someone else. So today I'd like to present a case study, using a lesson gleaned from Hilary Gadsby's great post, Killing Them Off -- It Can Help Knock Down Those Brick Walls.

I have begun reviewing the beginning of my tree -- me -- working backwards and reviewing my research and what gaps I would like to fill in about each person (not quite a genealogy do-over, but sort of). As I got to the siblings of my paternal grandfather, I realized I did not have a death date for my grand uncle, Leo James Jennings. So that was my goal: to kill off Leo.

Effie Davis (Beard) Jennings; Leo James
Jennings' mother, who died in 1906; photograph
courtesy of Janie Darby

The first thing I did was write down what I already knew, how I knew it, and transcribed all the records I did have.

  • He was born on 29 October 1898 and that his parents were Charles Edward Jennings and Effie Davis Beard. I could surmise he was born in Roanoke, Virginia, as his parents were living there during the year of his birth.
  • In 1900 he was living with his parents, four half siblings and his older sister in Roanoke.
  • His mother died in 1906 when he was eight years old.
  • In 1910 he was living with his widowed father and three living siblings.
  • His father sent him to live with his half sister in Erwin, Tennessee by 1911, when his younger brother (my grandfather) was placed in an orphanage.
  • He enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1916 at Big Gap, Virginia.
  • His father died in 1917.
  • He was discharged from the Army in 1919 and had served as a Sargent with the 104th Supply Train
  • He married Bonnie Sue Wolfe sometime before 1920.
  • In 1920 he and Bonnie Sue were living in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and he worked as a mechanic at a tobacco factory
  • In 1922 he and Bonnie Sue were still living in Winston-Salem but he was now working as a machinist at South Royal.
  • In 1924 he and Bonnie Sue had a son they named James Wolfe Jennings; the son was born in Appalachia, Virginia.
  • On 10 August 1932 he was admitted to the U.S. Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers in Sawtelle, California, and suffered from myocardial degeneration, cardiac hypertrophy, conjunctivitis, and deviated nasal septum. His marital status was listed as divorced.

Sawtelle Veterans Home; photograph courtesy of the California
Historical Society Digital Collection

Frankly, I thought he was near death then, but couldn't find a death or burial record of any type for that general timeframe. So, I started researching his ex-wife, Bonnie Sue. I learned:

  • In 1930 Bonnie Sue was divorced and living in Appalachia, Virginia, and was the proprietor of a grocery store.
  • In 1940 Bonnie Sue was widowed and living with her father in Orlando, Florida.
  • Bonnie Sue died in 1969.

The 1940 federal census and 1940 Orlando city directory entries for Bonnie Sue seemed to confirm Leo's demise. Why no death record? After broadening my search and not concentrating on his death, I discovered a 1940 census record for Leo. He was alive!

  • In 1938 he was living in Los Angeles, California, and was working as an engineer for Econolite Corporation.
  • In 1940 he was living in Calabasas, California, working as a supervising inspector of traffic signals, and he was married to Kathleen G. Jennings, who worked as a secretary at a law office. They owned their own home and had a live-in housekeeper.

So I started trying to kill off Leo again with a different date for his possible death. I finally got a hit from Find a Grave worth pursuing. A Leo J. Jennings was buried at Green Hills Memorial Park in Rancho Palos Verdes, California. However, the date of birth and the date of death were listed as "unknown."

Rats!

I clicked the cemetery link and discovered the cemetery had a website. So I clicked through to the cemetery site. On their home page, I discovered a burial search. I used it and lo and behold there was Leo's death date: 8 October 1973.  He certainly lived longer than I would have suspected with all the heart and respiratory issues he had in 1932.

Further research, included finding Leo's funeral notice in the Los Angeles Times, dated 5 October, which indicated he was buried on 8 October. His Department of Veterans' Affairs BILRS Death File listed his death date as 3 October 1973.

Screen shot of the burial search results for Green Hill Memorial Park,
Rancho Palos Verdes, California

Confusing with so many possible death dates, but I was successful in killing him off. The beautiful thing about this case study is that once I entered his death date in my Ancestry.com tree, I started getting lots of hints about his second wife, Kathleen, who likely would have been a brick wall since I did not know her maiden name at the time.

So Hilary was right, killing them off can help break through those brick walls in your tree, but be sure  you explore each record and source thoroughly. Keep clicking your way through the information.

I'm signing off now to resume killing some more of my pesky brick wall ancestors.

_______________
The Irish Wife
Newly Discovered Photographs
The Mother Nobody Knew
A Lover Not a Fighter

Friday, 23 January 2015

Some Highlights of 2014 and what's to come.....

Some Genealogy Highlights of 2014 and Plans for 2015...


2014 was an interesting genealogy year for me.  My passion for blogging family history through my blogs FamilyHistory4u , Family Convictions - A Convict Ancestor and Sharn's Genealogy Jottings,  earned me a place in the top ten Genealogy Rockstars in the Australasian catagory of this competition for the second year running. I was most humbled and grateful that others found my blog posts interesting enough to vote for me, especially since my blogs had to take second place last year to a number of things, including ill health and study. I hope that in 2015 I will be back up and running - well writing! Here in my first post on the Worldwide Genealogy Blog, I will look back over the past year of 2014, and illuminate some of my genealogical highlights as well as looking ahead to the exciting family history events planned for 2015. I am writing this post from Tamworth in NSW ,where I am enjoying the Country Music Festival, which of course has nothing to do at all with genealogy, but is a whole lot of fun. I did however, manage to stop off on the 6 hour drive from Sydney, in  the Hunter Valley town of Singelton, to hunt down a convict ancestor's grave. Like most genealogists, I never miss an opportunity to visit the places where my ancestors came from. So, on to my genealogical highlights of 2014....

The most wonderful, heartwarming and exciting highlight of  my year, 2014 was, without a doubt....

FIDING THE BIRTH FATHER OF A FRIEND

Shortly before I left for the 2014 Tamworth Country Music Festival, in January last year, I noticed a particularly touching post from a friend on facebook who had shared a 1970's photograph of his biological father. It was his hope that through friends resharing his post all around the world, that he might find his father. I have read some heartwarming and moving stories about family members finding each other through social media, however, rather than leave the search to  facebook, I decided to see if I could find my friend Martin's father, hoping I had the skills to do so. Because this was such a personal search for my friend, and one I knew must surely meant a great deal to him, I telephoned him to ask if he would mind if I looked for the man he only knew from a 1970's photograph.
The journey began with a name, an occupation, a place where he lived in England from the 1970's, and the information that he was last though to have lived in Canada in the 1980's.

Martin was born in England but had emigrated to Australia as a young child with his mother and step father and no contact had been kept with his biological father over the many years. He had grown up not knowing what his father's background was but thought it to be Jamaican. I knew that this was an important search for my friend to find his father and his paternal roots and I wanted to help.

This search, with its twists and turns and amazing coincidences, along with its wonderful outcome, will be the subject of another blog post on my Family4u blog because I cannot do the story justice unless I tell it in its entirety. So stay tuned for that story....

A  HISTORY/GENEALOGY CONFERENCE CRUISE

2014 began with an exciting History/Genealogy UnlockthePast Cruise in February. As the huge ship, Voyager of the Seas pulled away from the dock in Sydney Harbour, I could hardly contain my excitement. Not only was this my first ever cruise, but the thought of nine days of fascinating conference topics whilst meeting up with old and new genea-friends  as we enjoyed the luxurious Royal Carribean Line  ship, was intoxicating. 

Even wild wind and rain couldn't dampen the spirits of the brave or foolhardy who stood on deck to gaze upon Sydney's glorious harbour as we made our way towards the Heads and out to sea southwards towards our first stop in Melbourne. From there we were headed to Adelaide then Hobart and back to Sydney on a nine day voyage of discovery.

Image SharnWhite
At the end of the cruise I had gained so much new knowledge, and was eager to put into practice the information I had gleaned from a wide range of speakers. A highlight of the cruise was joining the Society for One Place Studies which Kirsty Grey spoke in depth about. I was thrilled to receive my One Place Studies badge as well! I had already a one place study of Kaimkillenbun on the Darling Downs in Queensland, Australia although I must admit that registering my study is a goal for 2015! 

FAMILY CONNECTIONS

2014 was a year filled with new family connections, as my blog posts, Ancestry Tree and FamilyTree DNA linked me to family members in America, England, Ireland, Scotland, New Zealand, Germany and here in Australia. In March I travelled to Brisbane, Queensland, to meet members of my paternal McDade family. We discovered our connection through a photograph on my blog that they recognised. We now chat daily via facebook. This year in 2015, I will finally meet my McDade third cousins in Chicago Illinois with whom I have been corresponding via facebook for several years now. Their great grandmother, Agnes McDade (Married name Leonard) was the sister of my great grandfather, John McDade who arrived in Australia from Glasgow Scotland in 1923. Since I am attending for the first time, the RootsTech Conference in Utah, I will be travelling on from Salt Lake City to meet my too many to name cousins. Very kindly my cousin Betsy is having me stay with her. I have a sneaking suspicion that we are in for lots of chatting and much fun! This trip will be another first for me as I am not used to such cold winters. 

I look forward to catching up with my genea blogging friends at the Rootstech Conference, to proudly sporting my brightly coloured blogger beads and to acquiring much new information which will help me in my research. 

A TELEVISION APPEARANCE

Following the Unlock the Past Cruise, I was contacted by a researcher from the Great Southern Television Company with regard to an up and coming episode of Coast Australia; the second series. One of the episodes was to be filmed on Norfolk Island and part of the program was to feature the second settlement, which was the notorious convict establishment the island is infamous for, between 1825 and 1855. While researching ideas for the Norfolk Island episode, someone had discovered my blog posts in which I had written about my great great great grand uncle, convict Laurence Frayne. Laurence penned a 74 page most descriptive and eloquently written memoir of his long sentence on Norfolk Island and I had transcribed the diary, which is held in the Mitchell Library in Sydney. I have researched Laurence (also spelled Lawrence) Frayne extensively and after meeting with a director and producer of Coast Australia, I was invited to travel to the island to participate in the program and to be interviewed by Neil Oliver.

It was my great honour to accompany Dr Tim Causer, UK historian and transcriber and Norfolk Island second settlement expert. Missing our connecting flight in Brisbane, however, was not part of the plan, although I am certain that our trip to Norfolk via Lord Howe Island and then in our own special 'chariot' (below) was a much more exciting and adventurous way to arrive than on the usual Air New Zealand A320.
Image taken by Tim Causer-  a 3 hour flight from Lord Howe to Norfolk Island
The Norfolk Island episode airs in Australia on the History Channel on February 16....I will be in Salt Lake City following the Rootstech Conference and en route to Chicago so I am lining up a friend to tape the episode for me.

AN UNLOCK THE PAST  CONFERENCE ON NORFOLK ISLAND 

Before being invited to travel to Norfolk Island to appear in an episode of Coast Australia, I had booked to attend another Unlock the Past History/Genealogy Conference to be held there. Norfolk Island had long held a great fascination for me. Having researched the Convict settlement of the Second Settlement and knowing that I had two ancestors who had been convicted to serve sentences on the notoriously harsh penal colony, seeing Norfolk Island and walking in my ancestors' footsteps was something I had wanted to do for a long time. To achieve this dream twice in one year was much more than I had hoped for.

The conference was a great success with guest speakers who included, Shauna Hicks, Cathy Dunn and Liz McCoy. Liz is a Pitcairn descendant who possesses an in depth knowledge about the second settlement on Norfolk Island. She and Cathy Dunn also gave a most fascinating tour of the historical part of the Norfolk cemetery. I managed to completely fall in love with Norfolk Island and can highly recommend a visit to the KAVHA research centre and wonderful museums which tell the story of the island's history.

Convict ruins on Norfolk Island Image SharnWhite

2014 WAS A GREAT YEAR FOR RESEARCH

Not only was 2014 a most successful year for my own personal family history research, but I also successfully helped find a few ancestors for other folk as well. I plan to post the stories of my 2014 discoveries in blog posts this year. 2015 posts will how I  solved a 106 year old mystery and found the mysterious Miss Pickles and how a DNA test may have put me on the road to finding the unknown German father of my great great grandfather.
I traced  my German ancestors back many more generations than I had previously done, thanks to the release of  German birth death and marriage records and many others. If you are a long time member of Ancestry.com as I am, it is wise to continually check for new records that are released. I suggest you regularly take a look at the records added as those waving green ancestry leaves do not always point in the right direction and you might miss something!

VISITS TO ARCHIVES

One of my 2014 New Year's resolutions was to make more use of libraries and archives. One can become far too reliant upon the ease of internet and forget the wealth of information still 'hidden away' in archives


FACEBOOK GROUPS

2014 was a year which saw me join a few new specialised genealogy facebook groups. I am not one to post for help much on facebook but I discovered that there is a significant amount of excellent advice and links to useful websites on many of these genealogy focused groups. In particular, I found several German groups most informative. If you have German ancestors I would recommend joining groups such as German Genealogy, German Genealogy Records Transcriptions, Brandenburg Genealogy/ Familienforschung Brandenburg and Baden Genealogy. There are groups for almost every region you might have ancestors from in Germany and other European countries. I found links to websites which were extremely helpful in my own research by participating in these groups. Facebook genealogy help groups are becoming increasingly popular and it is a wonderful way to share the knowledge you possess or to learn from others more knowledgeable than yourself or with access to records in countries you cannot visit. I joined new Australian, Irish and Scottish facebook  family history groups in 2014 also. It doesn't take long to become aware of which groups are going to be useful to you but it is a great way of expanding your genealogy research and keeping in touch with other like minded people.

I focused very much on my German ancestors in 2014 and I found the Online German Genealogy Records and Databases, an excellent place of reference for links to very useful German resources. FamilySearch has an excellent German database of German Church records. Free access to german records and databases can be found through a google search. One of my favourites can be found here.

As always, 2014 was a year in which I enriched many of my family stories through the use of the National Library of Australia's digitalised newspaper website, TROVE. It has been the personal stories that I have discovered in newspapers, that have added so much depth of understanding to the lives of my ancestors. Searching newspaper reports and advertisements will again be a significant part of my 2015 research. Local newspapers, in particular, can be the source of information such as where your ancestors went on holidays, what sporting teams they belonged to, donations they made locally, the church events they took part in, the opening of new industries or events they attended in the places where they lived and so much more and obituaries can be a veritable wealth of information.


2015- THE YEAR AHEAD

2015 is already filling up with genealogical events for me. In February I am attending RootsTech 2015 in Salt Lake City, Utah. I am looking forward to meeting up with many genea-friends, some of whom I know personally and other whom I know through blogging or social media platforms. I am thrilled to be part of the largest Australian group of genealogists and genealogy bloggers to yet attend this event. Bring on the bright coloured blogger beads!

After an 8 day holiday on Norfolk Island in early January ( which of course included a good measure  of convict research as well as snorkling and exploring) and now a 7 day stay in Tamworth for another Music Festival, I will head back to my home in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, to pack my bags for the USA.

Following the Rootstech Conference I am flying to Chicago to meet my McDade third cousins with whom I am well acqainted on facebook but whom I have not yet met in person. I am very much excited to be able to meet her and my many other relatives in Illinois, and to make this part of my family history become a real life story.

Returning to Australia in March, I will not have much time for jetlag, as I will be heading south from Sydney to Canberra, our National Capital City. In Canberra, I will attend the 14th Australasian Heraldry and Genealogy Congress. Time for meeting up with like minded friends, for information overload and loads of fun. And of course, out will come the blogger beads one again.

2015 is shaping up to be a busy year for me as a genealogist and a blogger and  I plan to continue keeping updated with regard to records and resources which are continually being updated and added to the internet as well as records being digitslised by archives and libraries.

One thing I very much look forward to in 2015, is being a member and participant of this worldwide blogging collaboration. As you can see from this post, I have very much been 'on holidays' for this month of January and I apologise that my blog may be somewhat in holiday mode. I am very much enjoying reading the posts from other group members and what better a way to share our knowledge and learn from each other. Many thanks to Julie Goucher of the blog Anglers Rest, for the many hours she must certainly put into co-ordinating such projects. 

Henry and the Popplet

Did you think I was writing a children's book? The post title would lead one to believe that was the case.

Popplet was discovered while attending a webinar. Thomas MacEntee, genealogy ninja, presented "Mind Mapping Your Research Plans and Results." I heard of the concept, but never thought to use it as a family history research tool.

Thomas explained "a mind map is a visual map of an outline or thought process". He went on to say we are already doing this function, but without software. Love the idea of taking research data and creating a visual pathway to solving genealogy problems.

To begin mind mapping, Thomas suggested "start with a concept or proof question" in the center. He goes on to say we should not go too broad.

Example:

not "all the information on ancestor" --- start with "where was ancestor born."

Thomas discussed several programs for mind mapping. The one that caught my attention was Popplet.

This program is free for five different popplets and seemed the easiest for beginners.

By the way ... Thomas strongly suggested we use color. Great idea. Make your Popplet pop! Nice way to visually identify various record sets.

So ... here is my first attempt to create a mind map.


What was the most pressing research problem? Henry Wakefield, 2nd great-grandfather, a stubborn road block.

Since there few facts about Henry, I felt comfortable adding all known information.

In the center we have Henry.

The red box contains the "1868 Baltimore City Directory". I uploaded the document, from Ancestry, into the database. Love the ability to add images!

I entered information gathered from the document into the notes field.

There is an icon located top right of each popplet. When you click, a box opens to add comments. Click again and it closes.

* Comment for this box ... Henry Wakefield, tailor, 290 S. Ann Street.

The blue box contains "Trinity German Lutheran Baptisms". The record is for Charles Wakefield son of Henry Wakefield and Elizabeth Judd.

* Comment ... "Trinity German Lutheran, 1853-1877: Baltimore City, Maryland. Ruppert, Gary B. Westminster, Md: Willow Bend Books, 2002". Book located at The Historical Society of Baltimore County.

The pink boxes contain United States Census, located on Ancestry, for Charles Wakefield. Records that contained helpful clues were the 1900 and 1930 censuses.

* Comment ... 1900, Charles lists father's birthplace as England - 1930, lists Wales.

The orange box contains an image from the "Wakefield Memorial" book.

* Comment ... Henry referenced in "Wakefield Memorial : comprising a historical, genealogical, and biographical register of the name and family Wakefield" compiled by Homer Wakefield, 1897. Have copy of book in personal collection.

What did I gain from this exercise?

* It was fun to learn something new.

* Like the visual overview of Henry's life in one location. Each time we discover new hints, they will be placed on the map.

* Like the collaboration aspect of Popplet. Will introduce this concept to my brother, who is also working to solve the riddle. Never know ... we just may pop in the last piece of the puzzle!

Come along and popplet.

Thursday, 22 January 2015

The Genealogy Do-over and Genealogy Software

The Genealogy Do-Over has certainly been creating a storm of commentary.  Observing the comments has proved a shiny distraction that has lead me away from the research I had planned. 


The good stuff


Whether you are participating as a do-over, a go-over/review-over/do-better, have pressed the pause button, or are a spectator,  I think you cannot deny that the lively discussions, sharing of tips and resources, and learning something new are all good things.  I can't even begin to keep up with the volume of traffic of the Genealogy Do-Over Facebook Group. I am pleased to see Thomas MacEntee has created a Genealogy Do-Over Bag-the-web page  to bring together the now over 200 participant's blog posts, and Pintrest board but am not sure he has everything.

There has been some very interesting assessment and documentation of research processes going on:

An indictment on the genealogy software industry?


Have you noticed the variety of tools used by authors of the above blog posts?  There has been an undercurrent of dissatisfaction with traditional genealogy software for some years now.  Back in 2009 I posted Data entombed in Family Tree Maker in which I described difficulties in transferring data from one program to another.  The outdated and unsupported GEDCOM data exchange format has still not been replaced.

As genealogical education becomes ever more widely available, it is not surprising that many researchers strive to do quality research.  Paradigms have shifted toward the Genealogical Proof Standard and source-centric methods.  Genealogical software lags behind the thinking of genealogists.

Tony Proctor's Hierarchical Sources explores how software might support research processes, which is much more than just a source citation.

Is your head spinning?  Yes - excellent, you have been thinking.  Welcome to the thinking person's pursuit - genealogy.

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Finding a place for global family reunions


So, you're the one that inherited the old family photo album. Your distance cousin has the family bible. Is it possible to create an online archive to preserved and share these family treasures without hiring a professional web designer and going to great expense? Yes! You can even hold private meetings where family can join from virtually any spot on the face of the earth with a computer and Internet access.  This month we'll discuss setting up a Google+ Community. Next month we will get into how to host a private Hangout on Air.

It's all about improving communication with your distant family members.

IMAGE: Horydczak, Theodor, approximately 1890-1971, photographer
from the Library of Congress collection.
   http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/thc1995008449/PP/

Set up is surprisingly simple, and since most have Gmail account, your family members are half-way there. There are just three steps to creating the family space:
  • Create a Google+ Community.
  • Add photos, videos and scanned images.
  • Invite family members individually.

1. Create a private Google+ Community. (You want it private to avoid unwanted guests in this space.) You'll log in here: https://plus.google.com/u/0/communities and click the "Create Community" button shown below:



Next be sure to make the community private, and select "No, Hide it from searches" in response to the question "Can people search for your community?" as shown below.

Follow the screen prompts to name your community, add a "logo" graphic for the community, etc.


2. Add photos and scanned images of a few important documents to get things started and build up content. With 10-15 individual posts of interesting photos, your family members will see the value of this new space. Unlike Facebook, Google+ does not restrict your members views of posts by 94%. This is a screen shot of Grandma Pat's Musings, the Google+ Community I created to share stories and pictures with my grandchildren. I am careful to refer to my Dad as "great-grandpa" since that is who he is in the eyes of my grandchildren, my target audience.
  • Point A - I chose a casual pic with my husband to be the "logo" graphic for the Gramma Pat's Musings community on Google Plus. 
  • Point B - You may add videos that reside on YouTube or elsewhere on the web. In this case, my 3-year old granddaughter loves the Disney movie Frozen, and so she got a big kick out of the song "Do You Want to Build a Snowman?" parody "Do you want to Drive My Tractor?" Naturally, this belongs in our private family space on the web. 
  • Point C -  One may add categories and rearrange the left nav bar in communities they own.
  • Point D - One may elect to "pin" a post to keep it at the top when people arrive at the community. In this case I pinned a photo of my parents, because of a wedding anniversary coming up.



Notice I keep the story short and sweet, just two or three lines. If I have more to tell, I can add additional text as comments below the image. I'm trying to attract youth. If we were to scroll down through the community you'd see I have current and old photos of each grandchild, and funny images of their parents as children.

3. Invite  - Once you've got your private Google+ Community organized and filled with intriguing content, you'll want to scroll to the top right to find the "Invite people" button, circled in green in the screen shot above. Up pops a dialog box where you can compose a sentence or two for the invitation. Notice the "logo" photo shows up in this invitation. You may invite family members by Google+ profile or email. If they don't yet have a Google Account, they will be invited to create one.


WORLD WIDE PERSPECTIVEFew have the privilege of living in multiple generation households. Employment takes some family units halfway around the world. Creating a private (read that safe) family space on the web to share old family photos, kids' soccer pics, recipes, etc. brings families closer together.

Google+ Communities are free, and easy to set up. Let us know how you've decided to organize your private family community.


HELPFUL LINKS
Pat Richley-Erickson,
DearMYRTLE
Myrt@DearMYRTLE.com

Do you love digital records? Pros and Cons?

Wordle: WWG
Image created with Wordle
At first glance I’m sure most of us would readily agree. After all, what’s not to like in being able to search various genealogical records at any time, day or night, wherever you are in the world. The heavy hitters of the genealogy world, Ancestry, Find My Past, My Heritage, Family Search, and a plethora of others, keep offering us a smorgasbord of delightful records from various countries.  Archives and Reference Libraries also have been motivated by the growth of the family history industry to digitise some of their records, and index others. Among these, Australia’s Trove is a totally free wonderland of treasures of all sorts. You might be surprised how many overseas stories are covered there.

Similarly it’s great that, no matter where we live, we can become friends with people we’ve never met in person but with whom we share a passion for all things genealogical – this blog being just one example of collaboration without geographical boundaries.

So why am I even asking what might be classed a rhetorical question? Let me explain.

I’m a geneadinosaur having started my research when personal computers were in the infancy of their use and had vastly less memory than today’s memory sticks. Archives and reference libraries were meant for “serious” researchers and genealogists really weren’t catered for to any great extent. This made for a tough learning curve but it did generate determination, record discrimination, and some grassroots acquisition of knowledge.

With some pretty tight closure periods to data it also made for a good exercise in lateral thinking as to how to find the information you wanted. For example, death indexes closed? Search newspapers (via microfilm), request searches for death certificates, look for family names in funeral notices, search cemeteries (on site), and use funeral director’s books.

So am I advocating a return to the “good ol' days”?

Not at all but I do think there are some things which we can tend to miss when viewing shaky leaves or findings via other online options.
  • I  think one of the biggest issues with digital records is the tendency to zero straight in on ”your” one record and only that one….I know I do it sometimes. 
When you’re looking at an online census record (or any other) do you go straight to the name you’ve been searching for ?
Do you look at the adjoining pages to see if there’s family nearby?
Do you hunt down missing family members in case they’re staying with extended family?
Do you look to see what sort of neighbourhood they live in, who their neighbours were, and their occupations?
What standard of housing they’re living in? 


  • Do you document the source you’ve used to find that information? I’ll bet a fiver that each and every one of us has made that omission, especially in the early days of our research!
  • Do you explore what else is available for your place of interest by searching by place name? Most of the big genie-resources let you do that and you may find that there’s a totally unexpected record that might be of relevance to your search.
  • Do you quickly conclude that if you can’t find something in one of the online sources do you assume it just doesn’t exist? Do you check the timeframe for the specific record you’re searching? You might also want to check the catalogues for the archives in your ancestral places.
  • Do you use Family Search’s catalogue to see what they have offline? There is so much available that still isn’t digitised. I often see queries from people with Irish ancestry, for example, where the microfilms are available for ordering in at a pittance. Many a genealogical problem can be solved by eye-balling the original microfilmed document. You are the one familiar with your family and you’re more likely to pick up families whose names have been spelled inconsistently, or where occupations or townlands might solve your mystery. 
  • How do you maintain your genealogical information? In narrative form? In a genealogy program? Online? What are the benefits of each? I’ve often mentioned on my blog that I find genealogy programs like a straight-jacket: useful for the lineage but not the nuances, or perhaps that’s just the gap in how I use them. For years I’ve used an Australian program called Relatively Yours because it allowed me to add the sort of biographical nuances typical of families. However for various reasons I’m about to change track and move across to Family Historian…I’m hoping it will stack up favourably based on geminate recommendations.
  •  
    Image from http://www.keepcalm-o-matic.co.uk/
    How do you keep track of what you’ve got? Do you maintain a research log? Put everything in Evernote? Store digital files, preferably with a consistent naming format? 
I confess to being too haphazard in this regard and I need to do quite a bit of work tidying up my computer files. With decades of information and a mountain of paper files to digitise it will keep me busy.

It seems I’m not alone in this data confusion judging by the buzz round the geneaglobe generated by Thomas MacEntee’s Genealogy Do-Over and there’s heaps of ideas coming from the Facebook group.

  • Do you go back and look over your files, digital or hard copy to check your data recording is correct and you’ve absorbed all the information on each document?
  •  Do you purchase documents you need, especially certificates? Again, I’m often surprised by “brick walls” which could be knocked down with a relatively small expenditure. Yes, the costs add up but it’s cheaper than golf or sailing or…and they can always be presents.
  • Having found the document, saved it and documented it, do you then forget all about it as it disappears into your computer system?
  • Are you overwhelmed by the sheer avalanche of information coming out almost daily? How do you approach the process systematically? I’d certainly like to hear your ideas on that!
    Image from shutterstock.com
During 2015 I’m hoping to have a spring-clean of the record copies I hold. I’ll be digitising them (partly as a safety strategy given the risk of cyclones); slowly checking my file names and reviewing what I have and what I need to follow up. Here’s what I wrote about my 2015 goals.

So what’s your position on the pros and cons of digitised records, or more importantly, how we use them in our research? Please share your thoughts in the comments…I’d certainly like to hear them.

Monday, 19 January 2015

Want To Be A Geneablogger?

Created on Wordle.com by Fran Ellsworth

My thoughts recently turned to new Bloggers or those that feel the inner pull to join in and and start blogging.  Many I have talked to have wonderful stories to share but are hesitant because they are not sure of what to blog or how to blog.

Following that train of thought I was led to my first year of learning to blog. My daughter set my blog up for me. I had no idea of what I was doing until I found Geneabloggers or should I say they found me and commented on my first blog post. They started expanding my thoughts out to more than just my Hero stories. I  had been motivated by wanting to write my Hero stories, but felt unprepared as to how to thes.  I began visiting other blogs such as Carol on Reflections From the Fence, and Lori's Family Trees May Contain Nuts and Jen on Muddy Boot Dreams.  These ladies introduced me to others through activities and comments on their blogs.   These bloggers also introduced me to Jill GeniAus and Julie Angler Rest. All the blogs I read gave ideas, encouragement, and some how to do research and write about it. They spurred me along.
So if you are pulled toward blogging, you should do it.  It is a lot of fun, you learn so much about yourself and finally about your ancestors.  Why do I say about yourself?  Because you will discover how creative you can become, or maybe how devoted to detail you are, and maybe even become a techie person like Caroline Pointer 4 Your Family Story who started out writing her family history stories.  There is so much diversity in genealogy bloggers. They are from all over the world, I have geni-friends from India, England, Australia, New Zealand, the United States, Ireland, Canada, and I know I have missed some.  The stories they share are as diverse as they are but the emotional element is the same. Love, strife, challenges, pride, pain, intrigue, etc., they are all felt across the world.
Going back to where I started, if you feel the pull to join the genealogy bloggers and put out some cousin bait as some call it, then here are a few places that can help you with setting out on this journey.
Found on ClipArt Panda
Thomas MacEntee has created the greatest resource for a beginning blogger... GeneaBloggers. Just look at the titles Blog Resources.  Here you find How to Create a blog resources, templates and design tools links.  I started with my own thoughts on my blog picture and haven't changed it... guess I am like that.
He also has Daily Blogging Prompts that will help if you think you don't have any ideas.  Once you have created your blog you can join the Genealogy Blog Roll. Basically we should all be grateful to Thomas for all he does for genealogy blogging. This specific post is a great one. Genealogy Blog Primer 

Kimberly Powell who writes about genealogy on About.com offers this Blogging Your Family History

Lisa Cooke, I love her pod casts, has this on YouTube. How to Blog About Your Family History.

Legacy Family Tree Webinars has a great one on Blogging for Beginners with DearMYRTLE

There are more, but these should be of great help to you. Once you get started you will want to follow fellow genealogy bloggers. You will find the ones that help. You do not have to be a professional genealogist to write your family history blog.

With these thoughts, I will sign off for another month. I hope this finds someone who is on the fence about blogging and they will join our ranks.

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Al Capone’s bullet proof car and my great-uncle

One of my favourite historical resources is the British Pathé film archive – a digital collection of old newsreels and film. Fully searchable, this archive is rich in its coverage of world and British events from the earliest days of film newsreels. I have often used its archives on my own blog, Essex Voices Past, to research my local history posts. For example, to illustrate posts about the Essex town of Great Dunmow and the Dunmow Flitch; and the nearby Felsted Sugar Beet Factory (the latter being one of the most searched terms on Google leading people to my blog!). The archive also has some fantastic footage from the newsreels of the Great War.

Although this archive has been well-known to me for some years, it was with some shock when I recently discovered that my (half) great-uncle, Harry Elmo LaBreque, had been captured by British newsreels in the gangster Al Capone’s bullet-proof car. Harry rolled into England inside Capone’s car shortly after the gangster had been imprisoned in America for tax evasion. The link below is to the film account of my great-uncle bringing Al Capone’s gangster car to England and Southend (Essex) in 1933. I have been led to believe that my grandfather (Harry’s half-brother), then a young man in his 20s, was also present in Southend – but I haven’t managed to spot him in the film footage.


Al Capone's Car outside the Kursaal in Southend, Essex, 1933
Click on the image to be taken to
British Pathé newsreel of the car's visit to Southend
© British Pathé

Harry was quite a man – born near Boston, America, in 1885 to a Welsh mother (my great-grandmother, Mary Anne Hopkins but known as "Minnie") and a French-Canadian father – he was a “showman of yester-year” (to quote his own words).  A showman and pioneer in the very early days of Hollywood, in 1955-56, Harry typed out his memoirs on a typewriter.  They were “jotted down while convalsesceing [sic] from a ‘stroke’ that hit me two years ago, paralyzing my right side, I am typeing [sic] my memories, useing [sic] one finger on my left hand, with my little portable on my lap while in a wheel chair”. On his death, these memoirs (approximately 80 typed pages) were passed to his sister, Edith, who then gave them to me back in the early 1980s, when I first started my genealogical researches.

Al Capone's bullet proof car

The Kursaal's re-enactments of  Al Capone's shoot-outs
The following is an extract from his memoirs about Al Capone’s car. The spelling and punctuation are all his – not bad if you consider he typed this one-fingered after his stroke partially paralyzed him. Quite a few family-history facts in the rest of his memoirs are incorrect.  For example, he said his mother was an only child, and so didn't recount that she had two older brothers.  But that can be attributed to "selective memory" as one brother disowned her, and the other brother's step-son married her(! yes you read that correctly). So some of his stories about his family have to be taken with a pinch of salt - and he was writing in his twilight years recalling a very exciting life - years after the events he described. But the British Pathé newsreel certainly confirms that family legend was correct – he did appear at the Kursaal in Southend with Al Capone’s car! And, whilst researching this post, I discovered that the vast majority of his accounts certainly tied up with documented primary source evidence such as the newsreels and newspaper articles.

When you read his account, remember that the events he is describing took place during the height of America’s bloody gangster warfare during the Prohibition and Harry was in Chicago shortly after its bloodiest battles, the Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre, collecting Capone's car.

Al Capone (1899-1947)


Al Capone's police mug shot

Al Capone, Gangster Car 
About this time [early 1930s] I received advance notices regarding the showing of the movie “Scarface” on Al Capone, the notorious Chicago gangster. I then read in American news-papers, which I received every week [at this point, Harry was in England visiting his family and exhibiting in London's Olympia a stuffed whale mounted on a car] that the government was going to sell at auction several Capone beer trucks and his personal automobile. His auto had been made over with inch plate glass, armored body, etc., the sale was to satisfy in part, back income tax owed the government. (Capone was serving time in Atlanta). A Chicago auto dealer bought the car. But, after purchasing this “Armored Brougham”, he found out that it was unlawful to operate an armored car and he had it in his showroom. The news item gave me an idea and I mentioned same to Mr Morehouse [Harry’s British manager and owner of the the Kursaal Amusement Park in Southend, Essex]. I sold him my idea of getting the car and putting it on exhibition at the park. So, I wired a friend, Clifton Kelly, who was in Chicago, to find out if the car could be bought and the price. His reply was not satisfactory, so I decided to go to Chicago myself. Mr. Morehouse agreed and I phoned right away for return passage on one of the U.S. Line ships. In fact, I left London the next day, with credit credientials. In the meantimes, I cabled the “Billboard” to place an ad that I was interested in anything pertaining to gangland. I arrived O.K. in New York, picked up several answer at the New York Billboard office and proceeded to Washington, D.C. to look over a gang-stye show on Johnny J. Jones Midway. It did not impress me and I started to Chicago. 
Stopped off that night in Baltimore and visited at McCranees Museum. I bought a lot of framed pictures of early day desperadoes, such as the James boys, the Dalton gang, etc. I arrived in Chicago next morning, when direct to the auto dealers’ place, and got the car at a price. Arrangements were made with the R.R. [train] to ship it in a baggage car. Had the railroad and the customs men at lunch at the Sherman Hotel, while waiting on the auto dealer to bring the car to a parking lot at Lake and LaSalle, back of the Hotel Sherman. 
During our lunch, Lieutenant John Tracy and his bomb squad were attracted to the car.. and delayed themselves around the parking lot awaiting the return of the owners, who they were sure were gangsters. After an hours wait, three men got into the car. Tracy didn’t recognize them as hoodlums, but nevertheless took us and the car to the Decetive Bureau. I told them who I was, why the car was there, and that I had just purchased the car. With me were the customs man, and a Mr. Joseph R. Lyons, and the car dealer, Patrick Moore. After two or three hours, they let us go, but not until they wired the New York police to escort me and the car through the docks where I had made arrangements to put the car in the ship “American Trader”.  [There is an English newspaper account - reprinted at the end of this post - confirming that this account was true - 2 Englishmen with Al Capone's car were arrested in Chicago on suspicion of being gangsters.]
The New York papers run good stories & pictures.. which I have copies in my scrap book [Harry refers to his scrap book throughout his memoirs, unfortunately it hasn’t survived]. 
Note: I checked the factory number with the Chicago police and have papers that it was the Al Capone car. This makes it documentary. [Unfortunately Harry's papers confirming the authenticity of the car haven't survived.]
During the afternoon after this happened, I got busy buying second hand Chicago police uniforms, badges, lots of newspapers from their files showing Capone’s picture with his prison no. 40886, some showing the “Valentine’s massacre”, and a dozen others with newspaper write-ups. Tried to buy a sawed-off shotgun and a machine gun, but the authorities would not let me take them out of the country. On the return trip I wrote a book (have a copy in my scrapbook, also lots of news items of this episode.) The book was sold at the exhibition.
After I had squared myself with the Chicago police and had the car released, it was just time to take it to the R.R. depot [rail-road - i.e. train station] and load it through the end door of the baggage car. A police sergeant stayed right to the last. to be sure that I was going to ship the bullet-proof armored car out of the country. This I had assured the bureau I was doing. So they gave me the keys of the car and it was on its way by fast freight to the docks. It was supper time by now and I returned to the Hotel Sherman. After eating I took in the World Fair. That was just opening and enjoyed in very much. [The date of Chicago World Fair (A Century of Progress International Exposition) collaborates Harry’s account that he purchased the car in May 1933 - the Fair took place between May and November 1933.] Returned about 12 in time to catch the Bull-Edition of the papers as I was sure they would play up my pinch. I asked for my key at the desk and the clerk whispered that two characters of questionable appearance had been asking if I were around. I then had a talk with “Casey” the hotel “dick”, and he said it had been rumoured, through the grapevine, that I was carrying a large sum of money on me and I was to be “high-jacked”
Well my itinerary called for leaving in the morning but brother I lost no time in getting to the station, and on the first train. To be sure, after reading the headlines in the papers, I stopped off at Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Then later that day, went on to New York. The authorities had removed the two-way radio from the car, saying it was unlawful. I had a day in New York, so bought a new one and installed it at the docks, also two new bullet-proof tires. (They had them in stock for trucks) I left my experiences back of me and steamed out of the harbor for jolly old England with my “prize”. By the way, the New York papers played it up fine, with 3 and 4 column pictures, etc. (have copies in my scrapbook) This publicity I could not have bought for thousands of dollars. The London Dailies ran the news the same time it was released in America, what a break! 
Note: The only other armored bullet-proof glass, automobile known at that time was used by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. [In the last few years, there has been much confusion on social media that Capone's and Roosevelt's car was one and the same car. They were not: Harry's memoirs confirms that they were two totally separate bullet-proof cars - one for the President and one for a gangster.]
I arrived in London after spending only 8 days in the States, some hurry-up trip. Mr. Morehouse arranged a great exploit stunt in presenting the car to the English public. It had already received some wonderful newspaper stories owing to the purchase and pinch in Chicago etc. He used his big ballroom at Kursal [The Kursaal, a purpose-built amusement park in Southend, Essex] to show off the car with a luncheon for the press and officials and a demonstration with the car on the highway [it is possibly this demonstration which was captured by the newsreels and then saved by the British Pathé’s film archive (see first image on this post)]. Mr Morehouse did things in a big way, he sent out special engraved invitations to the review and had a novelty menu printed using gangland phrases. I placed the car in the center of the ballroom and surrounded it with the outlaw pictures I had bought in Baltimore. It was a tremendous success, go the exhibition off to a great start when it opened. 
Note: I almost lost the opening at the Kursall, as they had a Fire will give an acct of this in my “ODDITIES” [an appendix to Harry's memoirs]. 
Before opening at the Kursal, I wrote a book with plenty of pictures on Capone which we sold to the public. It was interesting to note that the “showgoing” people bought this book. I used local Englishmen for the cops, and lectures, dressed them up in the uniforms I bought in Chicago. In the lobby I placed the gangland pictures that I bought in Baltimore. The entrance front was made up in a prison effect. 
That fall after the park closed, I showed the car at several fairs.. throughout England. [I believe my grandfather accompanied Harry (his half-brother)] on these trips.] It was a big hit. After this tour, Mr. Morehouse kept the car for his own use, although he bought Packard each year.  I always enjoyed trips with Mr. Morehouse in his cruiser.  We made trips to Southern France, etc.  He was the Commodore at the Yatch [sic] Club. 
[At this point in his memoirs, Harry returns his thoughts to his trip to Chicago to purchase Al Capone’s car.] Note: You talk about a fast trip and transaction, just read this: Mr. More house did things right now. He phoned for boat reservations on the U.S. Ship Banker sailing on Monday. Tuesday I was on the boat on my way to New York, arrived the following Monday. Had sent a cable to the Billboard, advertising for a gangster’s car, and gangland stuff. When I arrived, gathered up my mail. One read that a car was on the Johnny J. Jones shows, playing at Washington D.C. I took the first train, but I did not like the outfit, so that night I went to Baltimore, Maryland and some pictures etc. from the museum. Then on to Chicago, made the deal [to purchase Capone’s car], back to New York, sailed on the U.S. American Trader on May 9 and opened at the Kursal May 26 [1933]. How’s that for a quickie?
Note: Before leaving to get the [Capone] car, I had made arrangements with Mr. Morehouse to use his “Whirl-Pool” ride and building to show the car in a turn-stile fashion. When the “American Trader” ship captain got the mail and newspapers, right on the first page of the London papers was “Kursal Burns”! You could have knocked me down with a feather. However, a cable also was given me from Mr. More house stating that the fire had destroyed only some concession buildings and the “Whirlpool” building and further that he was erecting another building for the “car”. 
Notes: Although I visited a great deal at my mothers [my great-grandmother, who by this time was living in genteel middle-class poverty on the Cromwell Road, Kensington] while in London, I stayed near the center of things at the “Regent Palace” Hotel [Piccadilly]. “Jesse Crawford”, the organist, was playing at one of the leading movie houses. We had a nice visit. The way I managed to stay so long in England was through arrangements with the “home” office in London, registered and reported to the police every few weeks, and just as long as I employed English help… they extended my stay. [Harry, his sister and my grandfather were all American-born but their mother was Welsh/British.] At South-end [Southend, Essex] I had “Digs” that is what they call rooms.
I asked Mr. Morehouse about a trip back to America after the season, and he was very agreeable. So at the close of the Kursal, I booked passage to New York for Vera [his third wife] and myself. After a week or so we proceeded to Cincinnati, Ohio to visit pals at the Billboard, then went to Memphis for the holidays. Just about Christmas I received a cable from South-end, England that Mr. Morehouse had died very suddenly. Naturally I was shocked. After several days, I learned that owing to complications regarding his estate, they were closing his business."
At this point, Harry continues his memoirs about other “adventures” in America. As far as I am aware, David DeForrest Morehouse's death on 21 November 1935 brought Harry’s business exploits in England to an end.  There is no note in Harry's memoirs as to what happened to Al Capone's car after Morehouse's death.  Indeed, it is unclear if the car even belonged to Harry, or whether the credit credentials referred to in his memoirs meant that his manager, Morehouse, had financed the car's purchase.

Harry probably returned to England privately throughout the late 1930s to visit his mother  - possibly right up until the start of the Second World War (Minnie died in the early 1940s). His sister, Edith, who gave me these memoirs, died fairly recently aged over 100. My grandfather, his half-brother, died in 1966. Harry died in 1967.  I never met him - in fact, from this side of my family, I only knew his sister Edith.

My great-uncle - Harry Elmo LaBreque
Standing outside Al Capone's car - the Kursaal, Southend, Essex 1933
© British Pathé
Edwardian view of Kursaal Amusement Park in Southend, Essex

Lancashire Evening Post - Tuesday 09 May 1933
This newspaper article confirms Harry's account of Chicago police's interest in his activities
Image created courtesy of The British Library Board.

Alton Evening Telegraph Illinois - 9 May 1933
An Illinois's newspaper account - a similar account was published throughout America in state newspapers - all recounting that the car was to go on show in England. As this newspaper report totally ties in with Harry's memoirs, it's likely that one of the newspaper reports was in Harry's missing scrapbook, and he used it in the 1950s to write his account of purchasing the car.  It is somewhat amusing (and unwitting testimony) that despite Harry's American accent (and citizenship!), he appeared to have implied he was British by giving the Chicago police the London address of his British mother!


Yorkshire Evening Post - Saturday 20 May 1933
One local newspaper's excited account of the car
Image created courtesy of The British Library Board.

Nottingham Evening Post - Tuesday 03 October 1933
Although not mentioned by name in this article, Harry's hand at the 1933 Nottingham's Goose Fair can be seen throughout this article.  He spent his early formative years in the 1880s and 1890s working with his parents in American "freak shows", sideshows, circuses, and Wild West shows

Image created courtesy of The British Library Board.



Hartlepool Mail - Tuesday 17 July 1934
Not everyone approved of Harry's showmanship!

Image created courtesy of The British Library Board.



*_*_*_*_*_*_*_*

One day I will publish Harry’s full autobiography as it is fascinating document. It includes the story of him being involved with Col. Frederick T. Cummins and Buffalo Bill's Wild West shows, also the tale of Harry being the first ever manager of the famous Grauman's Chinese Theater in Los Angeles (when it was known as Grauman’s Million Dollar Theater), and his second marriage to a minor Hollywood starlet (Miss Millie Marlowe); and also the tale of him bringing from America an extremely large stuffed whale to London’s Olympia via the eastend’s Royal Docks.

Equally fascinating (and partially recounted by Harry in his memoirs) is the story of his mother, my great-grandmother, Mary Anne Hopkins. She ran away from a perfectly respectable Welsh family living in Cardiff and became a show-girl touring throughout America performing with her husband (Harry's father) a magical illusion called "Thauma" in the likes of Austin and Stone's Dime Museum in Boston; the Eden Musee in New York; and also Madison Square Gardens in New York (the latter was the venue of the famous P. T Barnum). After many of her own adventures, she returned permanently to Wales in 1912 arriving back on British soil on 9th April 1912. Family legend has it that she sent back letters to family and friends in America via The Titanic but her letters all went down with the ship.

Her story will also have to wait for another day!

Harry Elmo LaBreque's memoirs of life as a showman of yesteryear


You may be interested in the following: 
- Newpaper report from 2012 reporting the sale of Al Capone’s car 
- Blog about the 2012 auction of Al Capone's car
RM Auctions sale of Al Capone's car in 2012 - including the provenance of the car
Photo from the New York Daily News May (1933) showing the car being loaded onto the ship

*_*_*_*_*_*_*_*_*_*_*_*_*_*


I look forward to sharing with you more of my discoveries over the coming months - see you next time on this blog on 18th March 2015. In the meantime, you can catch me on my blog Essex Voices Past or on twitter @EssexVoicesPast.

You may also be interested in my previous posts on this blog
- December 2014: Christmas Truce 1914
November 2014: Men (and women) of courage
October 2014: Writing local history
September 2014: Hidden from history - the scandalous Redit women of Suffolk
April 2014: Happy Easter 1916?
March 2014: Who do you think they were?
February 2014: Family History Show and Tell
January 2014: Family history is like a box of chocolates - you never know what you're gonna get


 © Essex Voices Past

Friday, 16 January 2015

On the Road Again, Cemeteries, Yes, They Can Go Together

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This month, Man and I will be parked with our RV in the midst of BLM (Bureau of Land Management) land, somewhere about 6 miles northeast of Quartzsite Arizona with about 160 other friends from our online camping group.  There will be between 500,000 and 1 million others camping in the acres and acres of BLM land that surround "Q" (as we affectionately call it) during January.  There is a huge RV show as an additional draw and hopefully warmer and dry weather. Dry is good when you are sitting on the desert floor.  Yes, I have experience in "wet" while sitting on the desert floor.  That desert floor turns into a sloppy quicksand-like consistency.  4-Wheel drive trucks can and do get stuck.  Dry IS good!

Anyway, I am preposting this month's post here at Worldwide Genealogy, because I fully intend to be having a lot of fun on the 16th.


This month, I would like to share with you another way to blend my love of the life of a nomad (RVing) and genealogy.  Visiting cemeteries!

You know, as a family researcher, you snoop out cemeteries, you can almost smell them.  You will find a cemetery no matter what!  It is a challenge, it is necessary.  You understand, I know you do.

Man and I and friends were visiting Big Bend National Park two years ago.  I spied (at 45 MPH) what I just knew was a cemetery.  It was.  One grave, one Nina Hannold.  (The links herein will lead you back to the full blog posts at Reflections From the Fence, my main blog.)  And, yes, there are two stones here for Nina.



One year Man and I visited Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument.  General Custer died here. Custer has a connection to our area of SE Michigan where we live when we are not RVing.




We stopped several years ago in McIntosh County Georgia, where my my great-grandparents lived and are presumably buried (long story that), and stopped at Fort King George, where we found the burial spot of 140 British Soldiers who died there between 1721 and 1727.


Along the Natchez Trace, Man and I found this spot marking the loss and burial of 13 Confederate Soldiers.


Also along the Natchez Trace, we found slave burials, at Mount Locust.


Terlingua, Texas, The Ghost Town, has a great old cemetery, full of local color and customs.


A day spent in the Bok Gardens, and, yes, friend Charlie (also a family history researcher) found the burial spot of Edward William Bok.


Sometimes Man and I get a bit of a surprise.  One research trip through Georgia we ended up, well, go read the post.  Have to say, that cemetery hunting in rural Georgia is a challenge, and we thought we had come up with a great way to get some information from the local funeral homes - - really, go read this one!  (The photo is not from THAT funeral home.)


One must do, what one must do, here I am gaining access to my family's cemetery in rural Virginia.


Yes, my love of family history/genealogy and RVing do blend together quite nicely.  Kismet discoveries along the roads and highways and back country of the USA feed my need to touch the elders as well as a method of paying my respects and honor to those who have passed before us.

Next month, we will be, well, we don't know.  Probably where ever the dust blows us.  We'll let you know when we get there.  I'll have my eyes open for cemeteries and research opportunities, that is a given!




We also partake of Geo-Caching now and then.  My first cache find, while we were in Gulf Shores Alabama for the winter, and, yes, it IS in a cemetery!


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