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Saturday, July 28, 2012

Researching while sick... just blame it on the cold meds: Next FTF post is up!

My next post is up at Family Tree Firsts, and you can read it here.

For those of you following this blog, you can tell when I wrote it.  Yep, in the middle of my nasty fight with bronchitis.  Yuck!  However, not being able to sleep, or lay down, appears to have some good side affects.

I realized when I was reading the post that I didn't include the link to the family tree I found.  Oops!  Well, for my future reference, and so you can go and see it for yourself, check it out here.  I have also been in touch with the woman who created it.  She has been very helpful and extremely friendly.  Very happy to have found someone willing to answer my questions and be willing to share with me.

Of course, my mother-in-law is just happy to know the family rumors that they are from Cornwall are turning out to be possibly true.  One more place to go on my next trip overseas!

Due to my vacation, I am still in the process of analysing and going through the information from the website and a few extra bits that she has to sent me.  Including an article about Xantippe and her husband, Dr. James M. Burt, which was very informative.  It has presented me with some conflicting information to what my husband's grandmother wrote which means I have some correspondence to write. 

Image from the Library of Congress

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Week 30 of Abundant Genealogy

Week 30: Genealogy Serendipity. Every genealogist has tales of surprise findings or coincidences when climbing the family tree. What is your most memorable serendipitous discovery? Did it involve ancestors in your tree, living folks or both? How did this surprise affect your research and does it still impact you today?

I have been the recipient of amazing strokes of luck in my short life as a budding genealogist.  Many of which you have read in this blog, as well as on the Family Tree Firsts blog.  I am hard pressed to pick one that has had the biggest impact on my research to date.  Each one was special and each one led me to new awareness of my family trees. 

If I had to think of a way that these findings affected me it would be this:  never take anything for granted and always look for the silver lining.  My most emotional, and not necessarily the largest factual, finds came when I was certain there was no where else to go in my research.  I would turn one more page, look at one last website, or flip one more picture and there it would be.  A gem to make it all worth while.

So here's to you and your future serendipitous findings... I hope you enjoy the ones I will find in the future as well!

photo credit: Klara Kim via photo pin cc

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Hidden people in photographs

I love looking at old photographs.  They tell you so much about the person, where they lived, when they lived, and in some cases how they lived.  It is a bonus when you are related to them too.  I spent hours looking a pictures as a child trying to determine which features had been passed down to me and my parents. 

Last year a cousin of my father-in-law was kind of enough to share some photographs with me of their side of the family.  One of them was a large family portrait, supposedly taken at the family house in Connecticut.  The picture was not labeled, but family tradition says that it is George and Augusta Bennett with their children, children's spouses, and grandchildren at that time.

What an amazing photograph!  I originally guessed that the image was taken in the 1910-1920 time frame. Anyone have any idea if I am correct?  The reason I am asking is that I am not sure it could be George and Augusta after all.  Look at the dates below, for there to be grandchildren I think that this picture must have been taken in the 1920's at the earliest.  Would those clothes be appropriate for that time?

The family (as I have it today) is:
George Bennett and Augusta Jahnke (both born 1872 in NYC)
George Jr (born 1897 in NYC) married Ruby Taylor
Walter (born 1900 in NYC) married Margaret Unknown
Frank (born 1902 in NYC) married Mildred Unknown
James (born1905 in NYC) married Unknown
Maire (born 1909 in NYC) married Unknown
Marian (born 1913 in Connecticut) married Frank Acebal

Looks like I need to do some research on the siblings to find out who their spouses and children were. If this picture is from before 1917 my husband's grandfather and his siblings are not in it.

I have looked at it dozens of times, trying to place who might be who in the image.  Then, the other day I noticed something odd in the picture.  There is a young boy peeking out from behind a tree in the middle of the picture!  Now who in the world could that be sneaking around?

Look... more questions to answer!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Week 29 of Abundant Genealogy

Week 29: Organizational Tools. Which organizational tool or tip is your favorite? How did you find it? How does this tool or tip assist in your family history research?

I am a list maker.  I have been known to make lists of lists and then organize said lists on a master list.  Bit OCD huh?  A few years ago I began keeping my lists in small, purse sized, spiral notebooks.  I would jot notes, shopping lists, reminders, phone messages, random thoughts, and anything else that I needed into these notebooks.  Using little post-it tabs I would mark pages I needed to return to.

Then I discovered moleskin notebooks.  Love, love, love them.  I have several running around my house, each with a different purpose.  Mainly I use them for research notebooks, particularly when I have gone to museums and they didn't allow photographs of the exhibits.  They are sturdy, long lasting, and I don't have to worry about the pages falling out!

Amazingly, I found a really cool article on a way to modify notebooks to be recorder of you ideas and research.  Check out his post and blog on GTD (getting things done).  In fact, he is not the only person out there with tips and tricks on how to modify your notebook into a customized organization tool.  Check out this post with more tips, tricks, and ideas than one person can use... but you may find a great solution to an organizational problem you have!

Some of you may be scratching your head, wondering why I am not using my electronic gadgets for these things.  Don't get me wrong, I use the notebooks as a tool in conjunction with my iPad and PC.  Some places won't allow the electronic gadgets, or they won't fit in my pocket or purse, so I am left with old fashioned pen and paper.  If it ain't broke....

photo credit: ©athrine via photo pin cc

Monday, July 23, 2012

A Pension File in the latest Family Tree First post

charles combs 1812 dischargeIn my latest post at Family Tree Firsts I talk about my 4th great-grandfather, Charles Combs, and his War of 1812 Pension file.  Fitting isn't it?  You can read the post here.

I did find an interesting discrepancy in the NARA files and books/listings elsewhere of the North Carolina Regiments.  In the pension file the government stated that Charles was a member of the 7th Regiment, but when I went looking I was unable to find him on this listing of members of North Carolina Regiments.  However, he was listed under the 8th Regiment 1st Company.  Which, just happened to be from Surry County, was where he lived.  You can read it in this book on page 50.  You will see that there were several more McCraws listed in the unit he served under!  More possibilities for the person he named his son after.

If you are looking into information for men from North Carolina who may have served in the War of 1812, the North Carolina Archives has a finding aid you should read.  It gives you historical details, what you can find at the archives, and even a section on holdings that would be important for genealogists.

I'm back! Well... mostly....

Officially I am back from vacation.  However, it is going to take a week to recover and unpack from it.  Why is that always the case?

Made lots of memories, had lots of fun, a few nights out with my hubby, and great conversations with my parents.  Looking forward to catching up with everyone and everything, but until then, here are some pictures to make you all green.

Puerta Plata, Dominican Republic:

Our Villa

Wow!  I got a tan!

Our private pool


The resort

The cove where I collected a ton of seashells

Cabana's on the beach

My kids favorite thing: the large chessboard!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Taking off for a few weeks

Hey everyone, I will be tied up with kids activities and visiting with my parents for the next couple of weeks.  I will post updates in research, as well as the follow ups for the Family Tree Firsts blog, after the chaos has calmed down .  If you make a comment please be patient with me.  My internet usage will be very limited... I am sure you all can understand.

Now, off to kick my bronchitis in the butt so I can enjoy the visit!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Continuing the Bennett discoveries: the next family tree first post is up

Bird's Eye View of Hartford, Conn.I don't know about you, but when I start looking up a family I can't just look at the one person I started researching. My focus tends to widen as I find siblings, cousins, in laws, and everyone in between. That is why this latest post was an organic growth out the George Bennett post from two weeks ago.

His mother-in-law was Annie C. Taylor, wife to Benjamin Taylor. I have spoke about the Taylor's on this blog before. Annie intrigued me as she was the daughter of Danish immigrants. I honestly didn't think it would take very long to find her. Not the year that I have been searching for her maiden name. However, I am sure there are some maternal lines that I will never solve, so I will count my lucky stars on this one.

The best part is the new contact I made. I have connected with the couple that now lives in the house Ruby Taylor Bennett grew up in. How cool is that! The gentleman who lives there even knew Ruby's younger sister Ruth. They were friends, until her death a few years ago, and she filled them in on a lot of the property's history. Best of all, he sent me pictures of the house. I would never have dreamed something like that would happen and it made me realize, that once again, there are wonderful people out there in this crazy world.

Originally built in 1797 by Elijah Porter, Benjamin and Annie moved into their farm house in the 1890s. Their children were born there. Family gatherings occurred for both joyous and sad occasions. My husband's family is just in awe that we found it, that it is still there (mostly the same in appearance), and that we now have images to connect with these people.

Next goal: to connect with Ruth's children and see if we can share some photographs or other family memorabilia. Wouldn't that be grand?

Image from the Library of Congress:  Hartford, Connecticut Court House winter 1916

Week 28 of Abundant Genealogy

Week 28: Mistakes. Genealogy research mistakes are wonderful learning experiences. They can be blessings when they show you how to improve your genealogy research. Which Week genealogy research mistake in your past has provided the most benefit to your present? How did you discover the mistake and what steps did you take to correct it? Sharing about these experiences will help others who are figuring out their own ancestral paths.

Well, as many of you know I am pretty new to all this.  Right now I can only think of one mistake, but you know there are probably plenty out there that I have yet to find.  (psst.... if you find one let me know!)

My largest mistake was an assumption.  You should never assume anything, because you know what that makes out of you and me right?  My assumption involved my two George Bennett's.  Yes those same ones you have been reading about here and over at Family Tree Firsts.  I had wrongly attached my husbands GG, as he was called, to the wrong parents. 

In my research I narrowed his parents to two families.  George and Augusta Bennett or George and Kate Bennett.  They both had children with similar names to what my father-in-law remembered of his aunts and uncles.  They were both born in Manhattan in February 1897.  They both were of Irish father's, but only one mother was Irish, which made me pause.  My father-in-law stated he was of Irish Decent.  When I questioned if he knew about a German mother he was stumped.  He only knew that they were Celtic in origin. 

Right there, that moment, is when I discarded the George and Augusta line.  Particularly since I had 2 George Bennett's living in Hartford.  I just KNEW they couldn't be the same person!  We all know how this ends right?  Three months of research (and I am thankful it was not more) was gone because I was trying to link GG with the wrong family. 

Once I had found the correct family all the pieces fell into place and made so much more sense.  Especially after a third question and answer session with my father-in-law where I asked just the right set of questions that set off a cascade of memories. 

Lesson:  Investigate all possibilities, but never, I repeat never, jump to a conclusion.  Oh, and don't thrown the other line away just in case you were wrong!

photo credit: reinvented via photo pin cc

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Thoughts and thought patterns of an "oh shiny!" person

I have a very "oh shiny" nature (if you are not familiar with this syndrome lucky you) and it leads me into trouble sometimes.  On the other hand, it can lead to very interesting discoveries in the family tree climbing arena.  Of course, sometimes I feel like the dog, Dug, from the movie Up; but that is only when it is really bad.

Some days I wish I could get a grip on my surroundings so that I could fee like I accomplish things.  That trends to making lists, and yes, on occasion, I have been known to make lists of my lists.  Oh, and organizing my lists on my cork board to make the most of them and see them better.  This is where my friends and family giggle and tell me how much they love my quirkiness.

To give you perspective, this was my morning:
  • I got up
  • Went to retrieve iPad to read email in bed, dog barked
  • Took iPad outside, with dog, to back yard
  • Read article on lectures, forgot why I was outside...
  • Came up with 2 ideas for lectures on stained glass (another passion of mine)
  • Remembered dog, and that I needed breakfast
  • Boys were up, told them to grab some food and also water/feed dog
  • Walked into kitchen to pour cereal, decided I should load the dishwasher
  • Unloading spoons made me think that I should write a blog post on something
  • Brainstormed 6 idea topics
  • Remembered my Cheerios
  • Boys argued, had to end the bloodshed
  • Came back to soggy cereal
  • Walked past dishwasher and finished loading it
  • Sat down to watch news, with even soggier cereal
  • Article on the news made me remember that I had email to read
  • Read email, facebook, and morning blog run on Google Reader
  • Remembered that I had laundry to do, started another load
  • Made me think that the trash should go out
  • Gathering trash made me remember that I needed to sort socks, and that I need a place to put said socks
  • Looked for another clothes basket
  • Walked past the trash bag, went back to gathering trash
...and that was the first hour.

Now, this is also how my brain works when I sit down to do research on the family.  Something will trigger an idea (it could be an article, an email, TV, conversations...) and I will sit down. Then a quick search will end up a several hour marathon (particularly if I find something new) with kids looking at me like I have gone crazy again.  If I am lucky I have actually made progress on one of the lines.  If I am not so lucky I have done a whole lot of circling for a couple of hours.

For example, a simple suggestion yesterday took me on this little adventure:
  • I need to go through the Hartford, Connecticut phone directories for the 1920s better
  • Go to and pull them up
  • Find what I am looking for
  • Get frustrated that I can't save it to a person but have to save the image to the computer
  • Open Family Tree Maker to save files
  • See that I have some leaves
  • While FTM is syncing go back to the website
  • Click on the hints
  • Hmmm... this needs to be cleaned out, start clicking (accepting/ignoring) on hints
  • Huh... that lead to more finds
  • Wow, that pulled up Find A Grave
  • Oh, look!  It has the whole family linked
  • Put the web site into FTM and start adding information to research notes to follow up on
  • Oh, that was a cousin!  OMG add new potential family member to look up
  • Huh, I wonder what Google has to say on this person
  • Well look at that, it pulled up an article, a family website, and a Google Book entry...

It is amazing that I ever get anything accomplished.   I do better when I go to libraries, but only moderately as I get pulled into a lot of different books that may or may not be helpful.  Tangents are easy to follow I guess.  Staying on task a lot more difficult. 

Which leads me to ask:  how do you organize yourself and your thoughts to have a successful research session?  Anyone have any hints, tips, tricks, or suggestions they would like to share?

Have you seen this blog post? The flow chart shown is from it, and it looks like it may work.  That is, if I can keep on task.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Week 27 of Abundant Genealogy

Week 27: Genealogy Publications. Genealogy publications are great for education and entertainment. Which one is your favorite? Who is the publisher? Why do you like this publication? How has it enhanced your own family history experience? Share any details you want potential readers to know about including features, articles, style, etc.

American Ancestors Magazine Summer 2012I don't receive many print publications for my genealogy research, yet, but I do love receiving American Ancestors by the NEHGS.  It is a publication that you can receive in print, or electronically, on a quarterly basis with membership to NEHGS. 

In each issue there are featured articles that cover a lot of different aspects of American, and in particular New England, history and genealogy.  They have always been fascinating and well written pieces that kept me reading to the end.  Also, there are announcements for upcoming events, book publications, conferences, and much more.  It is a shame I have to wait...

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Family response to Combs notes questions

A few days ago I posted a transcription of a note I found that my grandmother Combs had written.  You can read it here. I wrote out to the Combs family email list to see if anyone had any ideas.  Yep, there were.

In a reply from one of the members I received this link to learn more about him and his family.  Who, by the way, are not part of mine as far as I know.  Bummer.

It looks like grandma was making notes from the book she had on the Combs family genealogy.  She made some assumptions about our line based on his findings, but I am certain that we are not from the "8 Combs Brothers" that this John Combs is a part of.

Oh well...

photo credit: VinothChandar via photo pin cc

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Family Tree Firsts is up: The case of the two George Bennetts

George Bennett in the BronxMy next post from Family Tree Firsts is up!  The picture is one of my favorites.  George Sr. and George Jr. near the home in 1900 (1965 Webster Ave, New York) today a grocery store in the Bronx.

To put it lightly I wanted to bang my head against the wall doing this research on more than one occasion, and I even traced back the wrong family for 3 months because of it.  Bound to happen a couple times right?

How could George Bennett and his brother-in-law Alton Taylor be enumerated two times in the 1920 census?  My two best guesses are that they were visiting George's parents the day the Census taker came and were enumerated as being at the house.  Or one family enumerated the sons as living with them not realizing they were only supposed to state the names of the people in the house on the census date.  Weird, but my best guess.  Hence the reason I listed my sources at the end.  If anyone has a better idea I am all ears!

From the census I know that George and Ruby lived at 23 Harbison Ave, Hartford, CT and were enumerated on January 7th.  George and Augusta lived at 45 Summer St, Hartford, CT and were enumerated on January 6th.  I plugged it into Google Maps and it is only a little less than 4 miles apart.  Not right next door, but easy to get to via public transportation or driving.  Benjamin and Annie Taylor (enumerated January 12th) lived on their farm in Coventry Connecticut about 20 miles away

Doing a little digging I found the address (56 Arbor Street) for the Underwood Typewriter Factory.  It is not far from where the George's live, which makes sense that Alton would live in Hartford and not travel 20 miles into town, in 1920, to work at the factory.  Today the old factory is the home of Real Art Ways.

I also discovered this NY Times Article from August 11, 1919 during my searching that announced the closure of the Hartford, Connecticut Underwood Typewriter Company plant due to strikes.  It must have been back up and running again by the time the Census was taken in January 1920.  The best find of all has to be this image of the inside of the typewriter factory.  I can't believe I didn't find it before! 

Off to find more discoveries!!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Power outages stink but the things you find are great

Friday night we were hit by the same really strong thunderstorms that hit the Midwest Friday afternoon.  Personally my family was out of power for four days, there are still many without power.  So… how would you spend the weekend without electricity? (Luckily we had water, even if it meant cold showers) 

Optimistic that it would be a short outage we took the boys to see Brave with some friends on Saturday during the heat of the day and then headed back to their house.  They have a generator!  When we woke up on Sunday morning still without power my hubby and I took it as a sign to work.  Yes, in that heat we threw open all the windows and doors and began to clean out drawers, cabinets, and desks.  Then my hubby found a gem I didn’t know I had.

When my grandmother Combs died I got odds and ends from her.  She started passing items out months before she died from cancer.  I have a small box of papers and pictures, and occasionally I will find things of hers that I didn’t know I had in the weirdest places.  Sometimes it is almost like she is reaching out to me and guides me to something I need.  My husband was cleaning out a basket that had become a catchall for stuff.  It has been sitting on a stool in our kitchen nearing on six months.  It started out as a temporary storage for a few items that had to come out of our truck.  Then more and more things got piled into it.  At some point in time a small three inch spiral bound notebook was placed in there.

My hubby asks me what I want to do with these notes I have made on the family.  I looked at him perplexed and asked for the book.  It was not my handwriting, and it only took me a few seconds to realize that it was my grandmother’s.  Even better, they were notes from her genealogy research.  Maybe the only pages I will ever have after the landfill incident. 

The pages state:

John, son of John S.
b. 2-7-1761
in Warren Co. Va.
Rev Veteran-
                Pension papers
                #S35,85 / Virginia
Not in Archives
Enlisted Jan 1, 1777
                Frederick, Shenandoah Co. Va.
Served 2 yrs 4months
                12th Va. Regiment
under Capt Jonathan Longdon and Benjamin Casey
Pension $96 per annum

John’s 2 wifes
1st name unknown
m. Surry Co. N.C.

2nd late 1790’s
Names Margaret

1st W’s children
Jeremiah b 1782
Shadrack 1784
Born in Va.
Mason 1795
Kingsport Tenn.

2nd Wife

Both Margaret and Sallie m Combses

Now to figure out whom these people are….

photo credit: VinothChandar via photo pin cc