May 31, 2011

Using eBay to Find Genealogy Items

I use eBay a lot to look for ephemera with a connection to my ancestors. I've written a few blog posts about some of my great genealogy finds and interested readers have asked me for advice on using eBay successfully.

It can be  overwhelming when you search for something on eBay using the name of the city or village where your ancestor lived, and you get hundreds of hits. How do you narrow your search results? There are two ways to do this that I am aware of.

Let's use the search term Guelph That's the city where my parents were born and where my dad's ancestors settled in the 1860s. So I'm always on the hunt for some bit of ephemera that might involve an ancestor or provide me with some interesting background on the places they lived or worked.

394 Results!
If I type "Guelph" into the eBay search engine i get 394 results. That's a lot to look through! I can narrow my results though by choosing a category from the left side panel. I know I don't want any of the results in the "Sports" categories so I've elminated 174 of the hits already. "Collectibles" is probably more what I'm looking for so I've only got 132 results to look at. I could narrow that even further with the sub-categories within "Collectibles" if I wanted to. So that is one search method. Do a broad search and then narrow the results.

SEARCHING WITHIN CATEGORIES

You might also want to search within a specific category such as "Collectibles" rather than the entire eBay website.  I don't like to do this as I find I miss items if a seller doesn't put the item in the category I think it will be found.

SEARCHING WITHIN ITEM DESCRIPTIONS

If I search within titles (the default search) and am not finding what I want, I will often include my search to the item description. That is easily done by ticking the radio checkbox under the green Search button. This allows for a seller not using the word Guelph in her item title but using it in the description. For example I once bid on and won a beautiful 1930s watercolour of a river and bridge in Guelph. The word Guelph was not in the title but it was in the item description.

ADVANCED SEARCH


Advanced Search on eBay
There's another search method that you might prefer. eBay has an Advanced Search option. To use it, click on the word "advanced" to the right of the green search box in the generic search engine top of the page. You now have a long list of choices (options) for searching. I've shown a few here in this graphic.

Now you can choose from specific items, or buyers or from an eBay store. Those choices are fairly intuitive on how to use them so I won't go into detail here.




DROP-DOWN LIST OF CRITERIA CHOICES
Let's discuss the choices of criteria you can choose in the drop down list. Let's pretend you wanted to find yearbooks for Guelph. You might enter your keywords Guelph, yearbook

All words, any order: Search in titles containing all the words you've listed, in any order. The titles would have to contain both your keywords.

Any words, any order: Search in titles containing any of the words you've listed, in any order. This would result in hits for any title containing the word yearbook or Guelph So you would get a lot of hits that didn't apply such as "Toronto yearbook" or "Fair Dinkum Yearbook"

Exact words, exact order: As this choice says, you are searching in titles containing the exact keywords in the exact order you gave them. in this search, you would get results if the title contained "Guelph yearbook 1932" but not if the title was "Yearbook Guelph 1932"

Exact words, any order: This would give you results for a title "Yearbook Guelph 1932"

EXCLUDING KEYWORDS

You can also EXCLUDE words from your search. So I could use Guelph as a keyword but exclude the word sports or hockey or baseball. Perhaps I definitely don't want a Guelph souvenir spoon. I can exclude the word spoon.

BOOLEAN SEARCH OPERATORS

This is another option for searching. Using the generic search box at the top of eBay pages I can use several different search operators to refine my search.

Quotation Marks: These tell the search engines to search for that exact phrase. So I might search for "Guelph postcards" to find any titles with that exact wording. But I could also use "Guelph" postcards and this will find titles with the word Guelph and the word postcards but there  might be other words in between. So it would find titles using  Postcards of Speed River in Guelph

Asterisk (*): This is a wild card and allows you to search for an item such as Guelph Yearbook*  This will bring up the plural of yearbook as well as the singular. It would also bring up any title with the partial word book such as bookshelf or bookmark.

Commas and Brackets: I can use commas to separate keywords inside brackets, such as (Guelph, postcard). This brings up titles containing those keywords in any order

Minus sign: This acts as an exclusion operator and will bring up titles containing your keywords but not containing your exclusion word. So for example Guelph -hockey would eliminate any titles that are hockey related for Guelph items.

So there you have it - different ways to make your search for genealogy items on eBay much easier. And now I'm off to do my weekly search for any Guelph genealogy items. Oh one more thing - if like me you end up doing weekly searches, be sure to sort your search results by "Time: Newly listed". That way you won't keep clicking on through the older items that you have already looked at!

May 30, 2011

National Society Daughters of the American Revolution: Genealogist Job Available

The National Society Daughters of the American Revolution has an immediate full-time opening for a Genealogist in the Registrar’s Office. Primary responsibilities focus on examining and evaluating lineage-based information provided on DAR membership applications or supplemental applications, and corresponding with prospective members or Chapter Registrar if further documentation is needed.

Qualifications
Previous experience in conducting genealogical research is required. The successful candidate must be able to analyze and evaluate lineage information, be detail oriented and resolve issues from conflicting data, and be able to write clear and concise letters explaining difficult research problems, including providing suggestions to the applicant for further research. Proficiency in Microsoft Word, including the ability to adapt quickly to proprietary databases, is essential.

Limited overtime hours possible during board weeks, (April, June, October and December) however, must be available to work overtime hours during one week of annual meeting.

Please send a cover letter and resume including a writing sample and a sample or portfolio of genealogy/family research performed, to:

Attn: Human Resources
NSDAR
1776 D. St., NW
Washington D.C., 20006-5303
Fax: (202) 737-5702
E-mail: resumes@dar.org

May 29, 2011

Sharing Memories (Week 22 of 52): Memorial Day Thank You to Military Ancestors

It's Week 22 of our Sharing Memories - A Genealogy Journey Please join us each Sunday as we write and share our memories of childhood. Your descendants will be thankful that you did! Write here as a comment, or on your own blog, or in a private journal, but please write!

Since this is Memorial Day Weekend in the USA I thought we should write about the soldiers in our family. Do you have any military personnel you want to thank for the sacrifices they make? I do.

My son is a Sergeant the Canadian Military, and has been to Afghanistan several times. I worry about him but I'm proud of him too.

My father was a Lieutenant in WW2 and spent 4 years in England during the war. I've been reading his Service Files and piecing together his activities. It was a long time to be away from his wife and 3 young children. My older sister was born as he arrived in England from Canada and his sons were 2 and 3 years old. My mom moved to Ajax to work in the Munitions Factory there as she had no other way to support her young family.

Neither of my grandfathers served in any wars or the military. One was injured at work and unfit for any kind of military duty, the other was in the Kent Buffs in England and tried to join the CEF in WW1 but was refused.

I do have other military ancestors - my Loyalist ancestor Isaac Vollick who fought with Butler's Rangers; his son (also my direct ancestor) who fought in the same unit; my grandmother's brothers all of who fought in WW1 (one was killed in France) and my mother's uncles who fought in WW1 and WW2.

I thank them for all they sacrificed to keep us free.

May 28, 2011

NEHGS New Visitor and Welcome Tour

Announcement from NEHGS

June New Visitor and Welcome Tour

June 1, 2011 10:00AM - 11:00AM

99-101 Newbury Street

Boston, MA 02116-3007


Make plans to start your genealogy with this great tour. This program begins with a thirty-minute introductory lecture and will be followed by a tour of the NEHGS library and its vast holdings.

To learn more about upcoming events, programs, and tours, visit AmericanAncestors.org/Event to register online or download a registration form. Please mail your registration form to:



NEHGS, Education & Tours

Attn: Joshua Taylor

99-101 Newbury Street

Boston, MA 02116-3007

For more information call 1-888-296-3447, or e-mail education@nehgs.org

May 27, 2011

Names of People in Donated Civil War Era Photo Album

Here is the list of identified photos (CDVs and tintypes) from the donated Civil War era photo album which recently arrived in my mailbox. It was sent to me by a reader of my Olive Tree Genealogy blog, who had also seen my Lost Faces website

1. Nathaniel Sutton
4. Rosa Weeks
5. Salmon [sic] King Weeks (tintype)
6. David Pratt. O. C. Barnes Photographer, Stowe VT
7. Angie Weeks Pratt. O. C. Barnes Photographer, Stowe VT
9. Allie Weeks (tintype of a baby)
10. E. A. Fuller. C. Miller, Photographic Artist, Burlington. 2cent George Washington Revenue Stamp
11. Mrs. E. A. Fuller. Ditto on verso as #10
12. Judson Milo Fuller. Ditto on verso as #10
13. Effie Fuller Loomis. Onward Styles, Burlington VT
14. Marion Fuller Story
15. Edward Story. G. B. Davis, Photographer, Union Block, Burlington VT
16. Albert Sutton. Charles Miller, Burlington VT
17. Will W. Sutton. ditto as #16
19. Rev. C. D. Fuller & Mary Ann Weeks Fuller
20. Charles D'Estaing Fuller
21. Edward M. Fuller aged 11 years. tintype with doubled purple backing. Continental Ferrotype Co., Burlington VT
23. Mrs. Shedd. C. Miller Burlington. 2cent Revenue Stamp for playing cards. dated 186_
30. Burr C. Fuller
31. Henry Fuller. Onward Styles Burlington VT
34. Lillian Woodruff. Bolton Monson Mass.
35. Nellie Woodruff. C.L. Howe, Brattleboro VT
36. Mattie Dyke Brown. tintype
41. Edward M. Fuller age 6 years
46. Cynthia Fuller Cunningham. tintype
47. William Cunningham. tintype

I will be adding scans of all 50 photos on my Lost Faces website so be sure to watch that space. The photos will join the dozens of other antique Civil War era photo albums I've rescued.

As for the photographers, I'm fascinated by their design logos and their work. So far I've found a nice little bio of M. J. Bixby the photographer of some of the unidentified photographs in the album.

Published on  a Rootsweb mailing list:
Smith and Rann, 1886
page 932

BIXBY, MARQUIS J.--Castleton,was born in Shalerville, O., in 1835 ,he came to Mt.Holly in 1841 and learned the photography business in 1863, in which year he moved to Castleton, and has at different times since carried on the photography business at Poultney, Ludlow and Burlington,VT. He enlisted in Ludlow,VT, in Company C, 16th Vermont Volunteers in 1862, served until August 1863, when he was wounded at Gettysburg and was at once awarded a pension. He purchased his present summer resort on the shore of Lake Bomboseen (sic), and erected his hotel in 1877, and it is now one of the most inviting places for a quiet rest and fishing pleasure there is in the
vicinity. He also has a large picnic grounds and  ample accommodations for all, and also a large supply of boats. He is to be found eight months
a year at his photography studio in Castleton. His wife is JULIA MILLS, daughter of FRANKLIN MILLS of Bolton, Lake George,N.Y., to whom he married in 1865. They have a daughter, FLORENCE M. , born in Poultney, VT., October 4, 1866. He was the son of ARMESETUS BIXBY, of Mount Holly, Vt., who moved to Ohio in 1834.

May 26, 2011

Another Genealogy Find

Recently I found, bid on, and won, a really neat genealogy item on EBay.

It's a very small (3"x6") booklet called "Annual Commencement, Guelph Collegiate Vocational Institute" The date is Friday December 22nd, 1931.

Written in faded pencil at the top is the name [illegible] Jackson

Inside are 16 pages of names of staff and students in all years.  It also has lists of scholarship and other awards winners.

I haven't gone through it carefully as the fonts are very small, but I'm hoping that one or both of my parents' names are in there! They both attended GCVI and in 1931 my mom was 15, my father 19. There's a good chance my mother's name will be there.

This little booklet was not much money and shipping was free. Even if I am not lucky enough to spot my mom's name, I'm pretty sure there will be some McGinnis, Peer or King relatives in it's pages.

Update: I just spotted Leonard Peer's name along with a list of the subjects he took. Leonard was my dad's cousin and I love finding these little gems to add to the family history.

And there's my mom's name under the heading TYPEWRITING AWARDS and a sub-heading 30-50 words per minute. So another new fact to add to my knowledge of my mother. I knew she was in Commercial but didn't know she'd won an award. I wonder what happened to it.

Under VOCATIONAL DIPLOMAS I spot two of my father's cousins - Albert McGinnis and John McGinnis. Albert pops up under another heading - as winner of the 2 Industrial Prize, while John's name appears as #4 in the Top 5 students in Industrial.

So a little booklet bought on EBay on speculation, having no clue what might be included in it's pages, has turned out to be a genealogical treasure in my eyes.

May 25, 2011

Family Finder Test Results in for my Brother's DNA!

On April 15 I ordered an upgrade from Family Tree DNA called Family Finder for my brother's original Y-DNA test.  It wasn't clear to me exactly what I would learn from this test but I thought it sounded like fun and would probably provide us with new information on our family origins.

On May 18th I received an email saying my Family Finder Results were in. I was really excited and rushed to the website to read what they'd found. Confession time - I found it very confusing! But reading through their help with Family Finder Results page was very helpful. 

There I found answers to 61 questions about Family Finder including the very obvious questions

 What can it show me? What do my results mean?

 A brief but helpful explanation of Family Finder Testing was given

"The Family Finder test traces all of your ancestral lines. It uses your autosomal DNA to identify confidently relationships for five generations."
LOOKING FOR IDENTICAL DNA SEGMENTS

My understanding is that the test looks for identical blocks (segments) of DNA in other people in the database.  If you share identical segments with someone else, the odds are good that somewhere you have a common ancestor. So the test results include the names of those in the database who share identical segments - and your suggested relationship to them is calculated and given.

Unlike Y-DNA or MtDNA, the autsomal DNA testing will detect matches regardless of gender. Y-DNA  only tests males while MtDNA only tests females.  


As soon as I logged in to my brother's account, I saw the following choices under Family Finder
  • Matches
  • Chromosome Browser
  • Known Relationships
  • Population Finder
  • Download Raw Data
MATCHES IN FAMILY FINDER RESULTS 

Checking my brother's results under MATCHES I found several people listed as 4th and 5th cousins, but no closer relationship. There were options to filter the results for those with a common surname, those who had close relationships and other choices.

What confused me (and still confuses me!) is that when I filtered on common surnames, I got a list of names and beside each, their list of ancestral surnames and the common surnames in bold. But the confusion is that NONE of the bolded surnames are in fact surnames that I submitted as surnames in my brother's list of ancestral surnames. In fact we do not have these names in our lineage on either my mom or my dad's side. Only two of those listed did in fact have a common surname - Downey in Ireland and Burkholder.

Beside each name is a link to contact the person via email and I'm going to contact the two who do have a common surname, so I'll be very interested in what information they might have that might help us figure out our common ancestor. 

POPULATION FINDER IN FAMILY FINDER RESULTS 

Leaving MATCHES, I clicked on POPULATION FINDER and that got really interesting! The explanation given on the new page that loaded stated

The Population Finder program determines your biogeographical ancestry — the story of your personal genetic history — by comparing your autosomal DNA to that of our world DNA population database

The percentage of your genome that matches up to 4 of the 7 continental groups is shown.  The continental groups are based on genetic similarities and not exact geographic boundaries. I was stunned to read my brother's results: 94.33% Basque, Orcadian, Spanish and the remaining 5.67% was Sardinian

THE FUN BEGINS!

What the heck? We know my father's lineage back to the 1600s and it is predominantly Irish, German, and Dutch with a scattering of English, French and Norwegian. Mom's lineage is English back to the 1600s and we don't know of any other ancestry in her lines.

But I believe genetics and DNA are solid indicators of origins, so this news is really exciting and interesting. I knew from my brother's original Y-DNA test that he has a mutation that is apparently rare and can be traced back to the Basque region and a small group of Basque who were up in Northern England and Southern Scotland during the time Hadrian's Wall was built. Of course my genealogy research does not go back that far in time so it's not unexpected that what I know of our lineage from genealogy research does not tie in with what genetics shows us.

How I wish I could trace our ancestry back to those origins and have names of our ancestors who were from those regions! After reading the Population Finder results, I rushed off to research Basque, Orcadian and Sardinian.

ORCADIANS

I learned that Orcadians, who reside primarily in Orkney, which is just off the coast of Scotland, are the descendants of Iron Age Picts, Norwegian Vikings and Scots. Okay now I'm off to look up Picts. According to Wikipedia, The Picts were a group of Late Iron Age and Early Mediaeval people living in what is now eastern and northern Scotland.

BASQUES

I'm starting to get a very cool picture of our early genetic ancestral movements.  Next I checked Basque and learned that the Basque primarily inhabit an area  known as the Basque Country. This is a region located around the western end of the Pyrenees on the coast of the Bay of Biscay and straddling parts of north-central Spain and south-western France.

SARDINIANS

My last one to look up was Sardinian. My search found that Sardinians originated on the island of Sardiania (considered part of Italy) and that during the Neolithic (or New Stone Age) period, people from Italy, Spain and the Aegean area settled in Sardinia. While we can't know exact dates for our ancestry in these areas, we have to remember that this is genetic DNA we're looking at  - our early biogeographical ancestry.

WHAT NEXT?

I can hardly wait to do more research on this new find, and to finish looking at the rest of the Family Finder Results from Family Tree DNA

I'm really not sure at this point what else I can learn from the test results but I am going to have a lot of fun doing in-depth research on the countries, the people, the history and the culture of the groups given as my brother's genetic origins. I'm also eager to exchange emails with the 4th cousins that are listed as matches for his DNA.

May 24, 2011

Hidden Treasures in the Civil War Era Photo Album

Continental Ferrotype Company

 Still working on my wonderful Civil War Era Photo Album which I've labeled as SUTTON

After the CDVs and tintypes were removed from the album I  found some very early photographer logos (that's another passion of mine - the artwork and design changes in photographer's logos over the years),  CDVs with dated revenue stamps and best of all - a photographer's double sided advertisement paper glued to the back of the CDV. 

I've never seen a double-sided paper advertisement on a CDV before. The photographer has his details on the left, and he's apparently accepted money from other establishments to place their ads on the right side.

This photographer lists himself as the Continental Ferrotype Company on Church Street in Burlington Vermont.  Ferrotypes are commonly referred to as tintypes and they were introduced in the United States in 1855.  I haven't researched this company yet but I will.

After the photographs have been removed, I scan each one, front and back. I like to use my Flip-Pal Mobile Scanner for this stage because it's fast and easy.

Eventually my husband scans all the photos on his HP Scanjet 8300 scanner at a very high resolution (600)  in .tif format so that we can offer best quality reproductions to those who want a copy.

But for my immediate purpose (publishing the photos online) the Flip-Pal Mobile Scanner does a great job and thus works well for me.


After scanning I'm ready to start researching the family and study the photos. This is the stage I love most - seeing the women in their beautiful elaborate gowns, imagining their daily lives, and placing family members together is magical.








This is one of the hidden CDVs that was tucked between two others. Since it was between the first and second CDVs in the album I gave it the designation SUT-1a

The photographer is identified as MOULTHROP and his business is located in the Phoenix Building on Chapel St. in New Haven Connecticut.


 This is where I start to get side-tracked. I like to search these photographers. It helps to date a photograph by finding out when the photographer was in business. Besides, I'm just curious!


A search for Moulthrop reveals that he was known as Major Moulthrop and was (1805-1890) Born in New Haven, Connecticut in 1805, dying there in 1890. Before becoming a photographer, he was a landscape and portrait painter. He had a photography business in New Haven his entire life.




Finding one identified person in a census record almost always links several identified photos together. Entire families are revealed! I don't need to be related to the families to gain great pleasure from seeing their faces and understanding who was married to who, who the family groups are and so on.


SUT-1a

After all my fun in studying every little detail of the photos, and researching the families is done, I  place the photos in archival storage sheets in archival binders and add the scans to my Lost Faces website. Hopefully descendants will find my site and enjoy discovering an ancestor or two. My fun might be over but the real fun is just starting!

I'll list the names and locations for each photo in this Civil War era photo album in my next blog post.

May 23, 2011

Oh Where oh Where Have my Digital Files Gone?

Jill over at Geniaus blog, recently wrote a post called Fling it in the folder - my digital filing system  
I read her ideas with great interest.

I've never been very good at taking care of paper. My filing cabinets get reorganized and filing folders renamed, every couple of years. Much of my paperwork is in piles or tubs on my desk or the floor. I've started getting a handle on that mess but my digital filing sucks.

I can never decide where to put digital items (photos, emails, documents etc). I also tend to forget where I put stuff the last time. So I end up with duplicate folders - perhaps I'll call one PEER and toss all my digital copies on the PEER family in it. That's on C-Drive. Then one day I forget I have that on C-Drive and I create another folder (also called PEER) inside my Documents folder!

Often I create folders that are on the same topic but I give them different names. For example I have a folder called LOST FACES where I was putting all the scans from my Lost Faces photo albums. Inside Lost Faces directory were subdirectories neatly and consistently labelled Album 01, Album 02 and so on. But then for some now unknown reason I created a folder called PHOTO ALBUMS and inside that I created subdirectories called 01 (surname), 02 (surname) Sheesh! Now I have some scans in one set of folders and some scans in another.

Inside my MY PICTURES subdirectory  I have folders called "FARM", "FUN ON THE FARM" and "HOUSE" all of which contain various pictures taken at our home over the past 15 years. Sigh. Do you see how hard it is for me to make an organized plan and stick to it??

I like Jill's simple approach. Most of her folders appear to be on the top level which I find appealing. I think half the reason I forget what my system is, is that I have sub-folders inside sub-folders! Right now I'm kind of excited and thinking that I should come up with a plan on paper. I'm leaning towards Jill's method of an overall topic name followed by a sub-name, as the main folders.

So I could have FARM-Machinery and FARM-Animals and FARM-grandkids or whatever sub designation I need to be organized. Using this method would mean all my FARM documents and photos would be much more easily found and new material filed.

What are your digital filing methods? I like Jill's methods but am open to other ideas!

May 22, 2011

Sharing Memories (Week 21 of 52): Home Sweet Home

It's Week 21 of our Sharing Memories - A Genealogy Journey Join in each Sunday as we write and share our memories of childhood. Your descendants will be thankful that you did! Write here as a comment, or on your own blog, or in a private journal, but please write!

I was talking to a friend about certain towns or cities or places that make you feel like you're home. Sometimes it's where you were born, or where you grew up. SOmetimes it's places you visited as a child. Or maybe it's where you formed your own life with your family when you were grown.

The place I feel most like I've gone home is not where I was born or grew up. No, it's where my mom and dad were born, and were my dad's family settled in the 1830s. We used to go to Guelph Ontario to visit relatives every month when I was a child. I loved it. First we'd visit my dad's two brothers and their families, then my grandmother McGinnis.

Grandma's house was pretty old and in fact was just down the street from the McCrae House. Grandma lived in that house for over 40 years so I suspect she probably knew John McCrae, the author of the famous In Flanders Fields. I didn't really like going to Grandma's house because the only bathroom was in the basement.

The basement was a dirt floor with a single light bulb hanging from the ceiling. The bathroom was tiny and only had a stained claw foot bathtub, a badly stained sink and of course a toilet. It was spooky!

Grandma lived there with another of my dad's brothers and she mostly sat in her rocking chair in the kitchen or in a big saggy comfy chair in her tiny living room. But I did enjoy the fact that several of my cousins lived just down the street and since the River Speed was across the road, I got to play there with them.

It was such fun. The river was full of huge snapping turtles and dad always warned me not to go near them. Of course we children delighted in poking at them with sticks.

Uncle Roy's house was relaxed and casual, kids raced in and out and there didn't seem to be any rules. Of course that was fun for me too! My mom didn't like it though! Then came Uncle Joe's house. I used to hope we'd end up there at dinner time because Aunt Rose was a farm girl from Germany and her food was amazing. But mom didn't like eating meals at other people's homes so she always tried to figure out a way to avoid that.

Then we'd visit my dad's Aunt Mary. She scared me! She and her husband seemed ancient to me (she was my grandfather's sister) and they didn't have any children so I was scared to move or talk. My father adored her so I am sure she was a lovely person and my fear was just childhood imagination.

And so the Guelph area always feels like home even though I never lived there. What's home for you?

May 21, 2011

Continuing to Document the Donated Civil War Era Photo Album

Readers may recall that a few days ago a Civil War era photo album arrived in my mailbox. It was sent to me by a reader of my Olive Tree Genealogy blog, who had also seen my Lost Faces website

When I acquire an antique photo album, I follow certain steps. I'm sure that an archivist would scold me, but I do the best I can to carefully document and remove the photos from their album pages.

Example from Photo Album

The first thing I do is photograph the album as it is. I take pictures of the front and back covers, then I snap photos of each album page (with the photos intact).

I don't fuss too much with this step as I am only interested in documenting exactly what photos was on each page, and the order of placement in the album.

This is my record which I save so that I can return the photos to the album if I choose to do that later.

Next I want to record whatever has been written in the photo album or on the front of each photo. First I have to decide on a name for the album. My usual method for naming an album is to see what surname is most recorded and use that. Sometimes I just start with the first identified photo and use that surname. It really doesn't matter what I name the album, it is just a way for me to distinguish between my collection of over 50  Civil War Era albums.

For this album I chose SUTTON as the name. I start with SUT-1 as the identifier for the first photo (using a 3 letter abbreviation of the album name and numeric order) on a blank piece of lined paper. I could record this on my computer using WORD or even EXEL but I prefer to use pen and paper for these first stages.  So I begin with SUT-1 and the inscription, if there is one, for each photo. If there is no inscription I put a brief description of the photo - only a few words such as "head & shoulders, young woman, bow at neck"

I learned the hard way to leave a few lines blank between each numbered description on my paper. After I remove the photos I will be adding to each description whatever is found on the reverse (verso) of each photo. Sometimes there are hidden treasures - another photo tucked between two visible photos, or a lengthy description on the back, or the photographer's logo plus a revenue stamp and date. So I need lots of room to record this. Also, if I find hidden photos tucked between others, leaving room lets me add a subset of numbers. So if I have photos  SUT-1 followed by photo SUT-2 but find a CDV tucked between those photos, I can add SUT-1a to my documentation. Using the "a" designation reminds me that the photo was hidden.

My next step takes patience, a steady hand and lots of time. I'm not great with the patience part but I force myself to go slowly.  I'm ready to carefully remove the photos from the album. This album is approximately 150 years old and most of the photos have been in it for that long. Pages are brittle and tear easily. Most of the photos are CDVs which are paper. Over the last 150 years some have stuck to the album inserts or to each other.

Each photo is back to back with another photo and although originally there was a thin paper insert between each one, that is often missing.  The tintypes don't stick to each other but they are much thicker than the CDVs, with sharper edges that can tear and rip the album pages. They are often are more difficult to remove without damaging the album.

I start by gently wiggling and sliding the first photo. Sometimes I slide and wiggle it's backing photo at the same time. I don't tug or pull or force. Basically I'm trying to feel if the photos are stuck or might just slide out the bottom easily.

It's difficult to describe my method as it is all based on the feel of the photo in that album. I have a small tool I use for more difficult pictures but I'm a stickler for removing the photos without damage to either the album pages or the photos themselves so using a tool of any kind can be a bit nerve-wracking.


The tool I use has a rounded end (no sharp edges!) and is very thin so it can slide between the photo and the album page that is holding the photo in place. This allows me to gently "unstick" the album pages from the photo at which point I can carefully slide the photo out. Sometimes a photo comes partway and the only way to get it all the way out is to push on an edge. But this too is a tricky move if your goal is no damage.  It can take me anywhere from one minute to 20 minutes to remove one photo from an antique album. I once spent over an hour getting one photo out.

As I remove each photo from the album I record what is on the verso. I also write on the back my own identifier name and number (SUT-1 for example) so that I know what album this photo came from and what it's placement is. I also add whatever was written on the album page for that photo. This step has given me a lot to think about. I have wrestled with my need to document and record each photo and my horror at adding anything to the original photo.

I would prefer to not alter the original photo in any way but with over 3,000 CDVs in my collection I worry that identification of a photo will be lost over time, or that I will not know which album it was found in. So after much thought and discussion with my husband, I've made the decision to record the album identifier and any identification on the back of each photo.

There are many treasures in these photo albums. In the Civil War era album I just received, I found two hidden CDVs tucked between other photos. The final total was 50 CDVs and tintypes. My next blog post will talk about some of the hidden treasures, and various photographer's logos and marks.


May 20, 2011

Book Review: Time Traveller's Handbook

Time Traveller's Handbook:A Guide to the Past
Author: Althea Douglas
Published by Dundurn Press, Toronto. March 2011
341 pages
16 Chapters plus Introduction, Notes, Index, Bibliography, Appendix

Time Traveller's Handbook is chock full of interesting facts and details that affected our ancestors' lives. If you have ever wondered how long it took your ancestor to sail across the ocean to their new home, you'll find the answer in this book. Perhaps you found a record of land ownership for your ancestor but you don't understand the currency or the measurement unit. This book has your answer to such questions - questions about terms or items used in every day life by our ancestors but not used or understood now.



 But Time Traveller's Handbook is not just a list of dry facts. Ms. Douglas explains how researchers need to take a close look at family lore, and how to analyse documents.

In Time Traveller's Handbook we learn about such things as changes in technology. Once we know when electric lights were first used, or when running water first appeared in homes, we can set our ancestors in that time and understand what their daily lives were like.

Checking such facts as how long it took an ancestor to travel by horse or by carriage from one place to another can provide clues which enable researchers to look for more information. Such information also helps researchers develop a timeline for each individual in their family tree.
 I love this type of detail as it helps me to imagine my own ancestor Joseph McGinnis on a wagon with his wife and year old daughter making his way from York (Toronto) to the wilderness area near what would become the city of Guelph, in 1847. Such a difficult journey and with the help of Time Traveller's Handbook, I can get a much better sense of how many days the family had to suffer in the heat of Ontario with blackflies surrounding them.

One item I found particularly interesting was an early photograph of a young child in what appears to be a dress. As a collector of CDVs (mid 1800s photographs) I know that young boys wore dresses and are often mistaken for girls. The usual way to tell boys from girls is through the hair - centre part is a girl, side part is a boy. But I never knew the reason behind parents dressing boys and girls alike in certain cultures and time periods until I read Time Traveller's Handbook.

Ms. Douglas explains that these youngsters were "in petticoats" meaning they were still in diapers. Suddenly it al made sense - it was simply easier to change a young child, whether boy or girl, if they wore a dress or skirt rather than long pants. But what is even more exciting to me is that this new information gives researchers a very good way to establish an age for an individual.

Although Ms. Douglas states that the book is intended for "family historians working in Canada whose ancestors originated somewhere else" I believe most genealogists or historians would find information in its pages that would be of interest and use.  The author points out that  much of the information she has provided might be found on the Internet. But the sheer volume of what the author has compiled and the ease of finding the wanted information at your fingertips makes this book an invaluable addition to any historian or genealogist bookshelf. It has a place front and centre on mine and I'm eager to use it even more as I discover new ancestors!

May 19, 2011

Musings About Life and Dear Friends

It's a special day today. My dearest and oldest friend J. is having a birthday.

It's a birthday we weren't sure she would see. This past February J. was given 3 to 4 months to live. Although she has been struggling with cancer for several years, she seemed to be getting better. Things were going well.  Then the blow.

I'm still not sure how I feel about doctors giving patients an expiration date. Because that's what it is - a kind of "best before" date. And every single day forward from the date of getting that verdict delivered, J. has to wonder if this is her last sunrise or sunset or time spent at the stable with her horse. But we're talking about people, not a jar of mayonnaise! It's a horrible thing to have hanging over her head.

I understand that there are people who may wish to get their affairs in order, or say goodbye to family or complete their bucket list. But the reality of waking up each morning, knowing that there are only x number of days left in your timeline, must be horrendous. And yes, there are miracles, there are suprises and a doctor does not know an exact date when a person's time is up. But J's been handed her expected date of demise and it makes me very angry.

J. and I met when she was 6 and I was 7. We spent our summers when we were young gathering minnows in a nearby creek, hiking for miles in the country around our homes, and spending every minute together that we could.

As teenagers we sat in my bedroom or on the front porch sharing confidences, giggling over boys and dreaming up all kinds of fanciful adventures. When I was first told that my father was dying (I was 13) I walked to J's house to cry with her and her mother. 

In Grade 9 we had a crush on the same boy. He was in Grade 12 and it was unlikely that he even knew who we were but we came up with the crazy idea to invite him to a Sadie Hawkins dance at school. Do you remember those? That was the only time it was okay for a girl to ask a boy out. I have no idea why we ever thought that was a good idea but we did it. We went to the corner store where he worked and asked him to go with both of us to the dance. He accepted (such a nice guy!) and we walked home, super excited. Sadly he came down with the flu right before the dance (wink, wink)  so we didn't attend but it took years before we realized that he was just such a decent person he didn't want to reject us outright. 

I moved away in Grade 13 and I missed her. She went on to University and I followed one year later. We went to dances and parties together and whispered in corners, hoping that some cute boy would notice us.  We discussed politics and writing and the state of the world. We took a week off and hitch-hiked to New York from Toronto.  I can hardly believe that we did that but it was the 1960s and a different world.

We even shared boyfriends. She was so pretty she attracted all the good-looking guys, then when she broke up with them, they'd ask me out. So I got to go out with guys who were out of my league! I actually dated her older brother once. And I do mean "once". It was  a mistake because he and I never got along, but somehow it seemed like the thing to do once I was in University. 

J. was my maid of honour at my first wedding. In those days she was my mentor on clothes to buy, what spoon or fork to use at a fancy restaurant.... everything.

We ended up living quite a distance from each other. J. never married while I married and divorced, then remarried and after my second husband's death I remarried again. We kept in touch though with letters and phone calls and a few personal visits over the years. J. and her wonderful mother who I adored came to see me after my second husband passed away and that visit meant the world to me. 

Our lives continued to run in different paths and I felt we had lost our connection but a few years ago we  re-connected. It was a wonderful feeling for me to have J. in my life again!

Yesterday I emailed her a newspaper clipping of us circa 1962 when we were part of the Silver Spurs Ranch. Silver Spurs was a farm where we rode horses. (That's me marked with an X and holding the horse on the right. J. is seated on a horse in the back row, far left and beside the girl wearing the cowboy hat) J. loves horses, and always has. She's owned a horse as long as I can remember.  As kids, we used to sit and draw for hours and J's horse sketches were amazingly good. I was terrified of horses but J. convinced me to join a riding school with her. It was such a frightening experience for me but thanks to J.'s encouragement I did it.

So today I want to wish J. a  wonderful birthday. I'll be phoning her later today to share more memories of us together as kids and remind her of some of the crazy antics we got up to. We'll  do some laughing because that's what we do together. 

As J. always says to  me at the end of our phone calls or in her emails ... "Love yah!" 

 


 

May 18, 2011

Civil War Era Photo Album Arrives!

A few days ago a Civil War era photo album arrived in my mailbox. It was sent to me by a reader of my Olive Tree Genealogy blog, who had also seen my Lost Faces website. 

My reader is a woman who told me she bought the photo album many years ago, mainly because most of the photos were identified by name. She hoped to find a descendant but wasn't sure how to go about the search. So she tucked the photo album away, only to pull it out last month and offer it to me as a gift.

Many readers know of my personal collection of Civil War era CDVs (Cartes de Visite) and tintypes. I also collect daguereotypes and ambrotypes. Many of my photo albums with their identified photos are online on Lost Faces.

You can imagine my delight when my new friend offered to send me her album for Lost Faces. She does not wish to be recognized and has asked me to keep her name anonymous but I can still give a public shout out to such generousity of spirit.

When the album arrived, I spent an enjoyable afternoon slowly documenting and photographing the album page by page. Although the album is in rough shape the CDVs are still in very good shape, and the names of individuals are written in beautiful legible handwriting on the album pages.

Tomorrow begins the work of carefully and slowly removing each picture from its album page. After I remove each picture I photograph both front and back and list each photo by identified name. At this time I also assign a unique identifier and number to each photo that was in the album. I'll share more on how I do this in my next blog post.

May 17, 2011

Press Release: AncestorSync Available in June

The following Press Release was sent to Olive Tree Genealogy blog by AncestorSync. This is the first time I've heard of them and so I know nothing about the company but their Press Release sounds intriguing.

Real-Time Collaboration, Inc. Unveils AncestorSync™ To Bridge The Gap Between Desktop and Online Family History

AncestorSync™ enables you to synchronize your family tree, source documents, citations, and notes across all of your computers and a web pedigree of your choice.

Orem, Utah (Real-Time Collaboration) – Real-Time Collaboration has announced the release of their latest offering, AncestorSync™, which allows you to seamlessly download, upload, or synchronize your family tree from your online pedigree to your personal computer, and back again.

AncestorSync is the first service on the market that allows you to easily move all of your family history work from a desktop genealogy program to an online pedigree without anyone or anything getting lost in the process

AncestorSync™ has partnerships with FamilySearch, Geni, Inc., and ourFamilyology, Inc. and is a joint venture of Ohana Software, LLC. and SharingTime, LLC., wholly owned subsidiaries of Real-Time Collaboration.

"AncestorSync™ is precisely the type of service we envisioned when we created the Geni API. Genealogists no longer must choose between their favorite desktop software and Geni. With AncestorSync™ as the bridge, they can maintain their offline tree while taking advantage of the incredibly rich data and collaborative community Geni offers,”states Noah Tutak, Geni CEO.

"AncestorSync makes interfacing you genealogical data with FamilySearch family tree easy. One product to read, write and synchronize your tree regardless of the desktop software you may own, " says Gordon Clarke, FamilySearch Web Services Product Manager.

AncestorSync will be of great value to genealogists by expanding their ability to work with their desktop application and sync their data with our online service.  We look forward to adding this feature for our customers, says Brandy Sacco founder and owner of ourFamilyology.

AncestorSync supports a variety of program formats including: Ancestral Quest, Legacy Family Tree, Personal Ancestral File, RootsMagic and GEDCOM. It will soon support The Master Genealogist and MacFamilyTree.  AncestorSync will be available in June for a budget-friendly $15 annual fee, and is PC and Mac compatible.

For more information about AncestorSync™, contact us at info@ancestorsync.com or 1.877.436.3256 or visit our website at www.ancestorsync.com.

May 16, 2011

Cemetery Walk: Trinity UC Cemetery Beeton Ontario Canada

Join me on a Cemetery Walk of Trinity United Church Cemetery in Beeton, Tecumseth Township, Simcoe County Ontario.

I have uploaded the second video of this Cemetery to the Olive Tree Genealogy YouTube Channel to join my other Cemetery Walk videos.

May 15, 2011

Sharing Memories (Week 20 of 52): Movies & Popcorn

Can you believe it is Week 20 of our Sharing Memories - A Genealogy Journey Join in each Sunday as we write and share our memories of childhood. Your descendants will be thankful that you did! Write here as a comment, or on your own blog, or in a private journal, but please write!

What was the first movie you ever went to? Not something you watched on television but at a movie theatre. How old were you? Who did you go with? Was the movie theatre in your town or somewhere else? What do you remember about the experience - did you buy popcorn or chocolates or candy or.... something else? Maybe it was the drive-in with a date?

I grew up in a small village about 30 minutes drive from a major city and within 15 minutes of a couple of small towns and cities. We had no movie theatre so I didn't get to do the typical Saturday routine of cartoons at the movie house.

My former sister-in-law took me to my first movie. I was about 9 years old and Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho was playing. My mother had forbidden my sister in law to take me, saying it would give me nightmares. But Jeannette took me anyway!

It was so exciting and thrilling for me to have so many special things that day. First, I was going to the MOVIES!! In Oshawa!! To me that was the big city. I was going with my SISTER IN LAW! I was so excited. And I was going to see a scary movie that I heard people talking about.

I was terrified during the movie. I don't remember what, if anything, we had to eat or drink but I suspect it was coke and popcorn. And yes, I did have nightmares from which I woke up screaming and crying. I remember my mother being so angry with Jeannette for disobeying her and as an adult I can understand why. But at the time I was full of admiration for Jeannette for standing up to my mother and not obeying.

It made me feel so special to have my brother's wife bother with me. Even though I was frightened by the movie I wouldn't change that experience for the world.

My second movie was many years later with a boyfriend when I was a teen. He took me all the way to Toronto (the BIG city!) to see Ben Hur. It was amazing as the movie theatre was huge and we sat in the front row holding hands and sharing popcorn. Ah memories are sweet!

I didn't go to very many movies as a kid or teenager and maybe that explains why I've never been a big movie goer as an adult. I prefer to watch them on my big screen tv in the comfort of my home and my easy chair!

What were your movie-going experiences?

May 14, 2011

The DNA Journey - Update on my MtDNA Test

On May 10th I mailed my completed Family Tree DNA kit. Yesterday I received an email saying the kit has been received. Now I wait. If I recall it took a month or more for my brother's Y-DNA test results.

I took the MtDNA test for my maternal lineage. I know my maternal ancestors back to England in the late 1700s so it will be quite interesting for me to learn more about the very early origins of my maternal DNA.

The MtDNA test traces from either a man or a woman back up the mother's lineage, following the mothers (maternal) one generation at a time. So for me it goes like this:

Me
My mom
My mom's mom (my maternal grandmother)
My maternal grandmother's mother
and so on

Let me demonstrate with names

Me
My mom
Ruth (my mother's mother Ruth Simpson)
Sarah #1 (Ruth's mother Sarah Stead)
Sarah #2 (Sarah #1's mother Sarah Elvery)
Hannah (Sarah #2's mother Hannah Elvery)
Mary (Hannah's mother, Mary Ansell born 1771)

That's as far as I know. Will my MtDNA results give me my ancestors' names? No. But it should give me a glimpse into the earliest geographical origins of this female line. It may link me to others who descend from the same lineage.

My MtDNA test will tell me what haplogroup I am in. A haplogroup is the major branch on either the maternal or paternal tree of humankind. Haplogroups are associated with early human migrations and are associated with a geographic region or regions.

I am honestly not sure what other information I will find from this test, but I'll take you on my journey as I discover more.

Lesson Learned: Back up Your Blogs!

With the big Blogger Fail that began Thursday May 12 around noon and semi-ended on Friday May 13 after lunch, I realized that the panic I was feeling was shared by thousands of other bloggers.

For those who don't blog or were unaware of what was going on, many bloggers, myself included, use blogspot.com as the platform for their blogs. Blogspot.com is Blogger which is run by Google. When Blogger went down, we could not log into our blogs. We could see the blogs (sometimes) but all posts made after May 11th were deleted. That included drafts and those written and scheduled for posting at future dates. For those interested you can read Blogger Buzz's "Blogger is Back"

As the hours went by, I bemoaned the fact that I had ignored the first rule of websites - always have a backup. On a "normal" website a webmaster would create a file on her computer and then upload it to a remote server. That's the webmaster's failsafe - one copy on her computer and one copy online plus with any luck, an archived version in the WayBack Archives. The careful webmaster will also make monthly or weekly backups of what is on her computer, thus ensuring a third copy of files that create her website. But blogs are another story.

Blogs aren't easy to backup. Most of us write our blog posts directly in blogger so we don't have a copy on our computers. It's not easy to save copies once the posts are published. And so, like many, I simply set aside what I know is good practice and I trusted in the power of Google to protect my blogs. I found out during the Blogger Fail that the WayBack Archives doesn't have my blog archived - ouch!

Since Blogger came back online, I've noticed problems. Yes, my blog posts written after May 11th that were previously removed, were restored. But there are hidden characters in the labels (tags) of the drafts and scheduled posts. Not a big deal, but I had to go in and remove those characters which display as strange images. My drafts and scheduled posts were duplicated - several times. In some cases I had six of each one. Still not a big deal, I simply deleted all but one. Lastly, posts previously posted on May 11 and 12 did not re-post, they were set to "scheduled". So I had to republish them.

Lastly some of my readers wrote to me yesterday in email to say they could not post comments. I'm not sure what is happening with that feature but will look into it. For the most part, the glitches once Blogger returned were not a huge deal but it points out to me that there may still be problems lurking.

The huge deal is me being remiss. No back up for the 1,235 posts I've written since February 2003 - that's crazy on my part! So yesterday I began creating backups. I'm really curious what steps other bloggers are taking to create backups. I am creating mine using Blog2Print.

I've talked about Blog2Print before. Basically it will take whatever portions of your blog you want - the entire blog, certain dates, specific labels - you set it up as you wish. For $7.95 you can create a digital copy in PDF format and download it to your computer. The catch for me is that it has a maximum size of 500 pages. My blog is almost 2,000 pages. It's been challenging to guess at what start and end dates I need to use in order to create a book 500 pages or less!

I discovered that you can create a book that is larger than 500 pages, then edit sections out, such as the contents pages. But that doesn't work for me as removing 33 pages of contents in my first book didn't get me under 500 pages. So it's a labourious and somewhat frustrating process and so far I have only saved blog posts from Jan 1, 2010 to May 11, 2011. That's Book One, all 453 pages!

My second step I've taken is to create all my blog posts using Evernote or Springpad. I do that once in awhile but now I'm determined to follow that practice faithfully. It won't be easy, in fact I've already strayed from my commitment by writing this post directly in blogger! Old habits die hard. I can easily copy this post and save it in Evernote in my Blog Posts folder so that oversight on my part is solved.

Bloggers let's help each other. What are your practices for ensuring you have backups of your blog or your individual blog posts? 

May 13, 2011

Press Release: South Carolina Records Online


Free Online Records Cast Historic Light on South Carolina

SALT LAKE CITY—FamilySearch, a nonprofit, volunteer-driven organization in charge of the world’s largest genealogy repository, announced today rich new online resources that will certainly be of interest to South Carolina residents, Civil War buffs, and family historians with Southern roots. FamilySearch’s free resources consist of new historic records and image collections and anin-depth online help center (wiki) for South Carolina genealogy resources. The information can be found at FamilySearch.org. The announcement coincides with the National Genealogical Society’s 33rd annual family history conference in Charleston this week.

FamilySearch’s newest South Carolina collections are South Carolina Probate Records, Files and Loose Papers, 1732-1964, and South Carolina Probate Records, Bound Volumes, 1671-1977. Probate and estate records typically include wills, bonds, property inventory, and court petitions.

“These types of records are extremely valuable to genealogists because they may be the only known source of an ancestor’s death date, name of a spouse, children, parents, siblings, in-laws, neighbors, associates, relatives, and their place of residence,” said Mary Lynn Sharpe, FamilySearch project manager.

The new collections include hundreds of thousands of digital images of the original historic documents that can be browsed online at FamilySearch.org using a digital viewer.

“For example, let’s say your ancestor was Jasper Crooks, and you knew he lived in Oconee County South Carolina,” said Sharpe. “A review of the historic probate records online will reveal that his wife, Sallie Crooks, petitioned the court for permission todivvy up his estate. The records show Jasper Crooks’ death date was November 1, 1897, and personal property deemed most valuable at the time—right down to the mouse grey mule, old two horse wagon, 4 rocking chairs, 3 padlocks, wash pot, and a corn sheller.”

Also in FamilySearch’s free online collection of South Carolina records are South Carolina Deaths (1915–1955) and Civil War Confederate Service Records (1861–1865)—the two collections comprise millions of searchable records.

FamilySearch has also introduced a South Carolina section to its free online research wiki. Using the information from the wiki, patrons can quickly find out what other historical records exist by county and where. There are also links to free online genealogy courses and a free forum for asking personal research questions. The help services are supported by volunteers.

May 12, 2011

Press Release: Catalogue of Stolen Cultural Artefacts From WW2

The National Archives joined with leading archives and museums in a global agreement to make records relating to cultural artefacts stolen by the Nazis available through an international online catalogue. The catalogue is intended to help families, historians and researchers trace the history and provenance of the looted art.

As part of the project, The National Archives worked with the Commission for Looted Art in Europe to catalogue and digitise more than 950 files. The records are now available on DocumentsOnline.

May 11, 2011

Memopal - A Warning!

On April 4th I installed Memopal, an online cloud storage system. I included it in my comparison of cloud storage systems on April 6th.  I've had nothing but problems every since but it took me until earlier this week to figure out what was happening.

First thing I noticed was that my MacBook Air was running very slowly. There was an annoying lag between me typing and the actual text appearing on screen. Everything was sluggish.

Then a browser window began to open unexpectedly and without my doing anything. The window was at the Memopal website where a prominent notice announced I was out of space and needed to purchase more. That was puzzling since I'd set the Memopal options to download one small directory from my computer hard drive.

At first I ignored what was happening. But the Memopal browser window began opening several times daily. So I logged into the Memopal website and discovered that much of my hard drive had been uploaded to it. I was stunned. Everything was there, not just the folder I'd selected originally. Oddly enough the website also stated that of my specific amount of free storage, I'd used double that. Huh? How could I use twice what I was allowed?

I began deleting the files on the website. That wasn't as easy as it sounds. Then I found Memopal on my computer (did I mention I had to download a program to use Memopal? Big mistake on my part!) and shoved it into the Trash can. But it would not go and a message came up telling me Memopal could not be deleted because it was open. Hmm... I hadn't opened it, I just found the application on my hard drive and selected it for deletion.

So I opened the application and immediately saw that it was busy downloading my entire computer's hardrive! Another look showed me that it had been doing that for over a week, presumably running unnoticed in the background. No wonder my computer was so sluggish.


I was able to "pause" the download but I could not stop it permanently. Every time my computer was turned back on the download resumed. I could not cancel it. I could not delete Memopal no matter what I did as my Mac continued to inform me the program was open. A visit to the Memopal website revealed that all the files I'd deleted several hours earlier were back. I deleted those files a half dozen times over the next several hours and they still kept reappearing.

In the Memopal program on my computer I had 3 options - download my entire computer (recommended by Memopal!) or download one folder or one other choice. I could also limit the file size in MB. I reset the options to "one folder" chose the specific folder (a test folder with nothing of importance) and set the size to no file bigger than 1 MB.

I started the download process but instead of downloading the folder as instructed it began downloading all files on my hard drive.  I spent almost 4 hours trying to solve this problem before finally figuring out how to access the actual contents of the application that I'd installed on my computer. Even though I could not delete the application itself I was able to delete the contents, that is, the scripts that made the application run. That stopped the download and I went back to the website and once again deleted all the files from my computer that were there.

Then I cancelled my account - again, not a  simple task. It required an email to "support" and then a wait for a response. That took over 24 hours.

So - I recommend that you avoid Memopal! I am still worried about my files being downloaded to the website but that's done so all I can do is change all my passwords and hope that I did not have any sensitive information on my hard drive. A lesson learned.

May 10, 2011

Local Museums - an Overlooked Genealogy Treasure Trove!

Readers of Olive Tree Genealogy blog know that a few weeks ago I purchased an antique cook stove made in Guelph Ontario Canada. Both my parents were born in Guelph and my father's ancestry there goes back to the 1830s.  Not finding much information online about the Guelph Stove Company, I wrote to the Guelph Civic Musuem.  The Assistant Curator, Kathleen Wall, responded very quickly to my query and provided details on the history of the company.

I'm always looking for information on places my ancestors worked, so I decided to ask Kathleen if the Museum had any information or photographs for a few of the places I knew family members worked. My great-grandfather Peer is listed in several Guelph City Directories pre 1900 as working at Robert Stewart which I was pretty sure became Stewart Planing Mills. My grandfather McGinnis worked at Page-Hersey in 1917 and perhaps other years. My maternal grandfather worked at the Guelph Lumber Co. before 1941.  And my father worked at Biltmore Hats in Guelph before WW2.

Kathleen had a great deal of information on these companies and she was very helpful in providing me with lots of new details. But what really caught my eye was one paragraph about the Guelph Lumber Co. Here is what Kathleen sent:

"The Guelph Lumber Company was established in 1913 on Duke Street, Guelph, near the Allan Bridge. The manager was Jason Harrison at that time. At the time of this photograph, the manager was Charles H. Fuller. The mill specialized in lumber and planing mill goods, doors, inside finish and hardwood flooring, as well as outside blinds and "Canada Ideal" cedar dye sticks."
I almost fell off my computer chair! Charles Henry Fuller was my grandfather! I never expected to find his name mentioned. And my genealogist brain immediately saw those all-important words "...at the time of this photograph..." A photograph?  Wow.

I wrote to Kathleen asking if I dared hope there was a photograph in the possession of the Museum. Her response included a scan of a wonderful photograph of a summer picnic for the Guelph Lumber Co. It is obvious that employees and family members were invited as there are many women and children.  The Museum had no knowledge of who any of the individuals were in the photo, nor of the exact year although they estimated it was circa 1930.

Courtesy of Guelph Civic Museum.
ID# 1988_30_24




Saving the photo to my computer and enlarging it in Picasa allowed me to have a good look at the faces. And there they were - my grandfather Fuller, his wife my grandmother and their two eldest daughters - one being my mother. I could see that mother was about age 5 or 6 which would date the photo to circa 1921 or 1922. And since their youngest sister who was born in July 1923 was not in the photo that confirmed that the picture was taken before that year.  As an aside, anyone wishing a copy of this specific photograph can write to the Museum and request it by using the Museum ID# I have included in the caption.

Kathleen also sent a photo of Biltmore Hat employees in 1927 but my father was not in it. All in all I received a great deal of information on various places my ancestors worked. She also checked for some of the names I mentioned in my emails and found tidbits on many. A typical item sent to me for a specific name was this one which I suspect refers to my grandmother:

"Edith Fuller – listed on a 1916 Roll of draft for the 11th Brigade and 29 and 36 Batteries"

But that wasn't all. Kathleen informed me that the Museum has two High School yearbooks, for 1932 and 1933 and my mother is in them. I happen to own the 1931 and 1932 yearbooks for Guelph Collegiate Vocational Institute (GCVI) and my mom' s class photo is in one. So the 1933 Museum copy is of great interest to me! I'm meeting Kathleen in June at the Museum at which time she is going to show me the yearbook and other items.

The Museum charges a small fee for research but I didn't think it was enough for all the work Kathleen did so I wrote a cheque for a more substantial donation. Supporting local museums is a good cause and I took up a lot of the Assistant Curator's time.

My advice to genealogists is to contact the local museum where your ancestors lived. Write a friendly short note and ask if they have specific information on one or two of your ancestors or on a local company where your ancestor worked. Don't overwhelm them with a long list of questions!

Keep it brief, keep it simple and be polite and friendly. Ask what their research fees are and offer a donation to the Museum.  When your first request is met, that is the time to ask for more help if you require it. But remember you are taking up their time and asking for their help so don't expect it to be free. Even if they don't charge for research services you should make a donation. That's only fair.

If the Museum sends you photographs or information that you want to use on your blog or distribute to other family members, please do ask their permission. There may be copyright issues that you aren't aware of,  and besides it's just common courtesy to ask.

Oh, and remember to thank the staff member at the Museum who assisted you. And be patient. The Museum may or may not have staff that are available to give you the kind of help I got from Guelph Civic Museum. 

May 9, 2011

Taking My MtDNA Test - Step One

Two years ago I had my brother's Y-DNA tested. I chose Family Tree DNA as they have the largest database for comparison purposes. I haven't written about my experiences with Y-DNA testing (all good!) but I will in a future blog post. Briefly, the 37 marker test allowed us to connect with others and eventually find our McGinnis ancestors place of origin in Northern Ireland. Only men can take the Y-DNA test which follows the paternal line unbroken from son to father.

A few weeks ago I decided to do three things - upgrade my brother's Y-DNA to a 67 marker test, order the Family FInder Test for Y-DNA and test my own MtDNA.

Both men and women can take a MtDNA test which follows the maternal lineage. I ordered my MtDNA test from Family Tree DNA and it arrived a few days ago.

When your kit arrives it has a Collection Number (your own unique ID), a welcoming letter from the head of the company, a page of easy-to-follow instructions, a return envelope and a plastic baggie with 3 collection sample tubes, 3 collection brushes and a permission slip.

Signing the permission slip is important as that allows  Family Tree DNA to compare your sample with others in their database and inform you of matches.

 I was excited to begin and read the DNA Collection Method. Basically it said I was to collect 3 samples several hours apart, by scraping the inside of my cheek for 60 seconds each time.

The only problem for me was that you have to wait a certain number of hours between scrapings as well as a certain number of hours after eating. Since I'm a "grazer" (I eat small amounts frequently throughout the day) it was difficult for me to figure out when I could get the samples.

Then it dawned on me that all I had to do was take Scraping #1 first thing in the morning, then Scraping #2 last thing at night and Scraping #3 first thing the next day.









 Scrapings done (easy!), permission slip signed and my test was back in the envelope ready for mailing. Now I wait. I don't know when I will hear from Family Tree DNA about my results but I'll post about it here on Olive Tree Genealogy blog when I do.

May 8, 2011

Sharing Memories (Week 19 of 52): Mother's Day Memories

It's Week 19 of our Sharing Memories - A Genealogy Journey Join in each Sunday as we write and share our memories of childhood. Your descendants will be thankful that you did! Write here as a comment, or on your own blog, or in a private journal, but please write!

Today is Mother's Day and I have been thinking all week about what Mother's Day experiences I gave my mother when I was a teenager. I used to make her breakfast in bed - French Toast with lots of maple syrup. Sometimes I made fancy coupons that were good for 2 hours of ironing or a week of cleaning the bathroom. I don't remember what, if anything, my father did for her while he was alive, and he died when I was just barely 14.

When I became a mother, my husband always took me out for a nice supper and the children made me cards or little items at school. I still have most of them in my Genealogy Treasure Box. Once they left home and moved away they began a tradition of calling me on Mother's Day. Sometimes my eldest grandchildren send me a Mother's Day Card - that's very special to me.

My mother passed away two years ago but I have a daughter, two daughters-in-law and a former daughter-in-law, all of whom are amazing mothers to my grandchildren. I wish them the happiest of Mother's Days!

What are your traditions?