Archive for May, 2008

My husband likes to say that family trees should look like a tree (smaller at the top and getting larger as you get to the bottom) not look like a box!  That’s because he doesn’t understand what the fascination is to find out all the children of the 5th great aunt or uncle and their descendents.  I have tried to explain that sometimes when you find one of those far-reaching relatives that they might end up pointing you in the general direction of where your primary ancestors were living way back when.

For example I have the reunion minute book of the Johnson-Shively reunions beginning in the early 1900s and going through the early 1940s.  Most of the minutes are very stiff – except sprinkled throughout are a few death dates and marriage dates.  Other family names are mentioned.  Searching for some of the other family names made it possible to find primary ancestors.  If I hadn’t “branched out” (so to speak) I may still be hitting that brick wall.

As I was thinking about that this morning, I thought it would be interesting to make a list of the number of close relatives I have.  Here’s my family stats:

Grandparents – 4
Parents – 2
Siblings – 2
Children – 4
Grandchildren – 3
First Cousins – 16
First Cousins Once Removed (children of First Cousins) – 30+ (the plus is because I know one of my first cousins has some children but since he won’t correspond with anyone, I don’t know how many!)
Aunts – 5 (two of them died as infants)
Uncles – 5
Great-Aunts (sisters of my grandparents) – 7 (this includes 2 half-sisters of my paternal grandmother)
Great-Uncles (brothers of my grandparents) – 17 (this includes 1 haf-brother of my paternal grandmother)
Nieces – 1
Nephews – 2
Great-Nephews – 2
Great-Nieces – 1
(End of Update) 

Maybe I’ll get to other relatives soon!  Have you counted up the number of close relatives?

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Help Needed

I am in need of what books or articles to read that detail life in small Indiana towns in the early 1900s – specifically 1916-1921.  I have TONS of letters that my grandparents wrote each other while they were courting (Easter 1916 – December 1916) and then letters my grandfather wrote to my grandmother while he was stationed at Kelly Field in San Antonio in early 1918 through his service in WWI in France.  My goal is to incorporate their letters into a book about them.

To give a more rounded view of their lives outside of the letters, I really need to study up on what small town Indiana life was like at that time.

Have you read a book that provides enough historical and “mundane” daily life information that would help me in my quest?  Or know of some articles – online, in a book, whatever – that would be of help to me? 

Please leave your ideas in my comments or send me a link to your website that might have information for me! 

Thanks so much!

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I told you I’d give you tips on finding little known websites offering genealogy information!  Harold at http://midwesternmicrohistory.blogspot.com offers Midwestern Genealogy tips and sources.  Today his post is about Digitized Newspapers in Champaign County, Illinois.  If you are researching in that area, please go take a look at Harold’s post.

Once again, I thank all of you who are reading this blog – especially those who leave comments and leave a link to your genealogy site or blog. 

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Yes, YOU!  Where have you gone?  This post has to do with traveling or relocating somewhere besides the area of land you’ve always called home.  My challenge to you is to write about the places you’ve traveled or lived (or at least one!) and send me the permalink so I can share with everyone. 

A bit of background first: I was the baby of the family and not just because I was the last child born but because my brother was 21 and married and my sister was 16 when I was born.  My parents, brother and sister had already lived a family life way before I came along.  I was the “oopsy” baby.  Just when my folks thought they’d be empty nesters soon, wham – there I was!  My mother tells me my dad used to joke and say they’d put the dog in the house and the baby in the garage!  I’d like to say I can’t imagine what they felt like, but I can.  No, I didn’t have a “later in life” baby but we have been raising our grandson since he was 9 months old.  When he first came to live with us, I was almost the same age my mother was when she had me.  My children were basically grown – I had three left at home.  One starting college, one a year and a half away from graduating and a middle schooler. 

Back before I was born, my father was in the Army Air Corps (which later became the US Air Force).  My family lived in Japan during two tours in the 1950s.  They lived in Florida upon their return to the states the end of the 50s before my dad retired from the Air Force to take a civil service position and move to Southwestern Ohio.  The place I was born and raised.

As a young child, I’d see slides and pictures of my family’s travels and their homes in Japan. Yes, I was jealous.  I never got to live anywhere “cool” like overseas.  It didn’t matter that my sister told me she really didn’t have any close friends.  Why bother getting close with someone when you just picked up and moved three years later?  The place she calls “home” is the same place I call home – even though she was born in a Western state and lived in a lot of places prior to that. 

However, because of my dad’s job with the civil service, he had to go on lots of business trips.  Before I started school, Mom and I were able to travel with him.  So I got to see the Arch in St. Louis, Missouri; the Empire State Building in New York City; and the Hancock building in Chicago.  One of my favorite memories is when we went to New York.  We saw the “Odd Couple” movie (Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon) at the movie theater, walked along the New York city streets, shopped in the amazing department stores, and rode the city buses.  I saw Rockefeller Plaza.  We took a fairy boat ride around the Statue of Liberty.

Empire State Building

Independence Hall, Philadelphia



When I was a year away from starting (what my school called Kindergarten), my dad took a lot of vacation time and we traveled to Disneyland.  No, we didn’t board an airplane.  Nor did we drive straight there.  We took an overland excursion!  From Ohio we went to visit my aunt in East Central

Niagra Falls

Ohio first, then up to Michigan to my Uncle’s home.  We cut over to Canada to see the Niagra Falls from the Canadian side and then down to Montana.  My parents had lived there when my sister was born and their friends were still there so we spent a couple days with them.  Then on to Idaho where we saw the “Craters of the Moon” and then into Washington to visit my great-aunt and friends of my parents they had been stationed with in Japan.  We took a fairy boat ride to Victoria, British Columbia where the town looked to me out of a story-book.  Then down to Oregon and the great forests and into California.  We saw the Giant Redwoods, went to Marineland, Knotts Berry Farm, and then Disneyland. Me and Pluto!



Talk about feeling like a fairy princess.  It was more wonderful than anything I’d ever imagined.  I met Pluto, the three little pigs, Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, and Snow White! 

After a few days at the magical kingdom, we traveled south to the desert and stayed with another family my parents knew.  Saw my grandparents who were also traveling out west about the same time!  Then on through Arizona where the majesty of the Grand Canyon took my breath away and the beauty of the Painted Desert and Petrified Forest enthralled me.  Up to Colorado to the Air Force Academy.  Through the midwest back home.Grand Canyon



When we got to Kansas I kept repeating that I wanted to see Dorothy’s house (Wizard of Oz).  So my folks picked out some random farm and told me there it was!  Of course it was real!  I had just been “over the rainbow” so I believed with all my heart that Dorothy had been too! 

So in the course of my very short life, I’d been to: Michigan, Montana, Idaho, Washington, Oregon, California, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and New York.  Canada was the only “foreign” country I’d visited.

Since that time I’ve also gone to (or through!) Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Arkansas.  I live in Texas now.

I’d love to go to New England, the Dakotas, Virginia and Washington D.C.  For foreign travel I’d love to see Great Britain, Scandinavia, the Netherlands, Australia, Italy, Austria, Germany, and of course where my family lived in Japan. 

So where did you go?

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If I haven’t mentioned it here before, then I will now. I’m an avid scrapbooker!  I even have my own custom designed scrapbook business (Nana’s Novelties).  I’d give your the url link but my site looks pretty pitiful & I really need to revamp it (which means finding the time!)  Anyway – one reason I decided to get into the scrap for hire business is to preserve history for generations.  That’s my tag line “Preservation for Generations”.  Anyway, as I have been working on a project (won’t say what just now – wait another month!) – I’ve realized that my mind just isn’t what it used to be.  Trying to remember details about certain activities and events is like trying to find a small piece of glass in a pile of mud.  Everything is murky and not quite clear.  I’ve even gone back through emails I sent to people looking for details I might have written about – not many. 

My idea has more to do with journaling history as it happens.  I don’t keep a “journal” or diary.  I suspect it’s because:

  1. I really don’t have the time
  2. I figure I say enough in emails to other people (I keep the sent copy)
  3. By the time I get to putting down the details, it’s already too late

So I thought, what about just listing major points in a word processing format?  Yesterday was my grandson’s birthday and I want to list details of the day, what happened when, what he said, what we ate for dinner, what type of cake, etc.  I want to do that when special holidays or events happen as well.  What we thought about it, where we went, etc.

What this boils down to in relation to genealogy is someday your descendents are going to research you!  They will find the vital information – where and when you were born, where and when you married, your children, probably where you lived and how you earned a living.  They won’t know how you felt on 9-11 or how depressed you were when someone you loved died.  They – just as we do now – will be left to guess about all of that. 

I’m hoping by scrapbooking not only the special moments of my family’s life – but the day to day (sometimes humdrum) life, not only will my descendents have a better picture of the whole person but someday when my memory really does fail me in big ways, then I can look at the pictures and read the stories and have all of those memories come back to life.

How do you journal for history?  Leave me a comment with your ideas – or blog about it and send me the link.

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