Sunday, June 23, 2013

Diggin' Up Bones

Do you have any skeletons in your closet?



Any family secrets you've discovered whilst digging up information on your ancestors?

Have you done any research on your family tree?


[Credit: iStockphoto/Gary Wales]

Did you put your genealogy findings online or did you simply create a diagram on a big sheet of easel paper?

57 comments:

  1. Dearie - I've been a genealogist for 35 years and have taught classes at community colleges for the past couple. And I have found all manner of scandal in the family. The most shocking? My great grandfather was born out of wedlock. The most tragic? A generation of cousins with SIX suicides. The most shameful? Baptists in the family.

    But no criminals...who were discovered...

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    1. What about Republicans?

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    2. p.s. I'd be interested to know your opinion of various genealogy databases such as Family Tree Maker, Ancestry, etc.

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  2. Republicans? Please, I come from a long line of - drum roll, please - WHIGs! {rimshot}

    As for databases, depends on what you want to accomplish. The new version of FTM is very slick, buts its also tied very tightly to their subscription products and online databases. I'm old school - you need to dig it up and look at and transcribe it if you are going to remember it. So I use, and recommend FTM v11 - which is from 2001. (Buy used copies on ebay).

    With the new version, you give it a name and it finds everything for you, but you miss finding the "dirt" and you don't get to know the people you are looking for. Its so easy to amass information, but do you read it, look over it, explore nearby families? Maybe this way, not so much.

    What I tell people is that if you approach genealogy as a logic puzzel you have more success. Start with what you know, and then verify that with primary source material. Then go back a generation at a time. And remember - your family lines involve more than just your fathers surname and your mothers maiden names. branch out and tackle your great grandmothers lines.

    You can also trace health issues if you get causes of death. We've been able to trace things like specific types of cancer, heart and l=ung issues and depression through family lines. It really is fascinating, and explains how you got to be you.

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    1. Thanks, Cookie.

      I prefer the old-school methods too but also enjoy poking around online.

      These databases can be great sources of information and yet I’m finding plenty of errors on them as well.

      For example, I searched online for a certain family member, whose date and place of birth, etc., I know. Yet when I entered her name, various databases gave me contradictory info about her. One database gave me an incorrect date of birth; another misspelled her name, etc.

      I typed in one ancestor’s name and couldn’t find her record. I finally found it but the reason I didn’t find her exact listing was because whoever typed it into Ancestry had misspelled her first name. I examined her actual birth certificate and the handwriting is hard to decipher so I can see why whoever typed it into the record accidentally misspelled it.

      But one wonders how many such errors exist and how many people are getting the wrong information as a result.

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    2. Some Man in Pennsylvania appointed himself an authority on my great grandmothers second husbands family. Instead of getting her right date of death and place of death and even her maiden name was wrong. Then he had her baptized into the LDS Church!

      That was one problem.

      But once other people see it, they think its correct, well, because they read it online. So they include the incorrect information, and it spreads like VD. So take anything you read online in other people's work with a grain of salt.

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    3. COOKIE: I am astounded by the number of people who think that what they read on the Internet is FACT!

      Did you inform “Some Man in Pennsylvania” about his errors? I have the same problem with someone who has jotted down incorrect information about one of my ancestors yet I don’t want to email him because he sounds like he’s a God-Botherer with a screw loose. Perhaps I should just let sleeping dogs lie, in this case.

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    5. Oh, yeah, I told him in an email that he needed to remove the information and his reply was that I was mistaken, and that she was already in the church. I politely told him that she couldn't be in the church because his data was wrong. "god knows you lied, too." Never heard from him. Maybe God got him for it.

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    6. COOKIE: Oh for fuck's sake.

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  3. I did a lot of genealogy during the 90's and visited a branch of the family in Cedar Rapids, Iowa at a reunion. I also met one or two members of the other branches (both from New Jersey I believe). My branch of the tree, while originally from New Jersey, emigrated and were one of the first families in Farmer's City, IL (near Bloomington-Normal). The graveyards there were lovely and contained a host of family members! The only thing I found was an ancestor, who allegedly, was arrested during the American Revolution, for concealing fowl. The records did not indicated where...... I used Family Tree Maker and from time to time, I look at it again. Additionally, I am friends on Facebook with two guys that share my name - both from different branches of the family.

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    1. TOPHER: Arrested for “concealing fowl?”

      Do you suppose he was wearing a trench coat with large pockets?

      One wrong move and he’d crush the eggs!

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    2. Is that a fowl in your pocket are or you just glad to see me?

      [rimshot]

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    3. That is the SECOND rimshot in this room today.

      Are you Bitches descended from a long line of comedians?

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  4. If you remember watching "The Secret Storm", you pretty much have my ancestry..
    I come from a long line of unrelated milkmen & royalty.

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    1. WALLY: So your ancestry is like a soap opera?

      That explains why we hear organ music every time you walk in the room.

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    2. Do you her ominous organ music in the background?

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    3. COOKIE: What you hear is Wally playing an organ solo.

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  5. Republican Southern Baptists, both sides. Am I banned again?

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    Replies
    1. LX: Click here.

      I’d advise YOU to do the same, Huggy Jon, simply for encouraging him.

      Delete
    2. I want to be banned! Ban me now!

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    3. COOKIE: Click here, dammit!

      I’m banning you based on the “Birkenstock wanna be Noats” you’re wearing this summer.

      They fall under the “offensive footwear” penalty.

      Delete
    4. thank god you threw her out.

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  6. ... cough, ahem ... genealogical research?

    I have no clue what in America and Canada is possible online, here it's done with "paper and ink". Or you take your laptop into the reading room. Where you normally use a filmed and printable copy or a microfiche - and these may be badly readable, what makes it necessary to look into the originals. If it is a centralised archive of a diocese f.e. that's no problem, they'll get it from the storage and you can read it.
    As I understood a lot of these filming was payed for by American churches, especially the Mormons; all I can say is that films and fiches in some cases are simply a waste of resources and I can not see how one should be able to use them correctly, if the original is already barely usable.
    Last week I read some books in the Spessart and it was partly successfull, the starting point was correct, but it was another branch of the family I was looking for, the result of a not very well done preparation (by the lady I work for who insists - ah yes, but hey, I do it for money honey). In a village in the neighborhood that belongs to another Landeskirche I am not allowed to look in any book: The books have been digitalised and they work on a webportal where online research will be enabled - sometimes in the future. Meanwhile I am expected to kiss the priest's arse in order to be allowed to have a glance into the registers ...
    My own Sippschaft? No, have not done research on them. I accidentially found that one bearer of my family name emigrated to the US in the late 19th century while I checked shiplists in Bremen; a learned stonemason.
    Cookie's right, one has to look aside, was daneben liegt. Some biographies are ... peculiar, moving even.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. MAGO: The traditional “old school” ways of researching are the best, in my opinion.

      However, I find it difficult to decipher some of the old handwriting. That is where online information has an advantage.

      Are you allowed to use pen in your reading rooms? We must use "pencil only" in some institutions.

      It’s interesting that you do this for a living and yet you haven’t spent any time researching your own family tree. Not enough time?

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    2. No Kugelschreiber, no ink, a soft pencil (Bleistift - if you do not have it, they'll lend you one).
      Someone had to read it and peck it into a database - must be a really big one! As you already saied, the quality and reliability depends on the reader's ability to decipher shaky hands. Common mistakes are "Zahlendreher" (24 instead of 42), misunderstood shortened names ("hanß" is "Johannes") and shortcuts, vernacular words (der dot is a godfather, not the reaper ...)

      Time enough, sadly. Maybe not ready yet. Part would be in today's Poland, part in the former East Germany.

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    3. MAGO: Baby, don’t fear the reaper.

      Kugelschreiber?

      When I hear the word “kugel” I think of a Jewish casserole

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    4. Gugel. Sorry, I am Franconian, we have difficulties with "k" and "g". Gugelhupf ...

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    5. Last year in Berlin, I saw someone wearing a Gugel at the Gendarmenmarkt Weihnachtsmarkt.

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    6. Make sure to wear one when you visit Guédelon!

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    7. I suppose one could imbed a miniature camera in a Gugel and have Gugel glasses.

      Gugelhupf is what we call a Bundt cake.

      Did someone mention CAKE?

      Did someone mention castles?

      Your mother was a hamster, and your father smelt of elderberries!

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    8. over excited, sorry - here ...

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    9. It's just a flesh wound.

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    10. Now I'm in the mood to put on my jerkin and go to a Ren Faire!

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    11. LX: And your codpiece?

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  7. I come from Convict Stock on my Dad's side. We descened from one of 2 bothers who together stole a crock of butter and carved out a chunk of the Sunday roast as it sat cooling on the window sill of the farmer they worked for. The farmer found where they had stashed the meat to eat for themselves later. Consequently the pair were sent to Van Diemans Land (Tasmania)
    they worked out their 7 year sentence endentured to a free settler farmer then both moved to the colony of Victoria on the mainland

    I have a heap of info somewhere from a family reunion we went to about 25 years ago now.
    The family tree was all there on great long rolled out cardboard that spread right around the walls of the large hall in which it was held.

    The Empresses side of the family harks back to the highlands of Scotland fighting the English invaders....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. PRINNY: Did someone mention butter?

      Aren’t ALL Aussies the descendents of convicts?

      I once attended a family reunion where a cousin showed up drunk and bleeding.

      He then proceeded to chat me up!

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    2. THat's what I call a man! "It's just a bloody scratch honey!"

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    3. MAGO: It’s for people like him that the term “kissing cousins” was coined.

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  8. my mother and her....husband are visiting right now.
    my tree is old.

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    1. NORMA: Your family tree has as many rings as Uranus!

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    2. dear mj and her parlor tricks...
      put the mirrors away.

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    3. NORMA: Did someone mention mirrors?

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  9. I think I am related to Princess as I have a couple of relatives who were sent to Australia for stealing a pig... due to being starving.
    Sx

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    Replies
    1. MISS SCARLET: I don’t know they coped once they were sent to Australia…that is, if they eventually scraped enough money together to wear pants.

      Correct me if I’m wrong but the Aussies have (or had) a law declaring it illegal to wear hot pink pants after midday Sunday.

      But if that’s true, Princess would have been run out of town by now.

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  10. Not much about me... My grandmother was Mohawk. One of my great-grandmother was American. She lived in Dundee, a small town sitting right on the border of Québec and New York. If I go further back, we find some of my ancestors in Perche, France, and some in Portsmouth, England.

    About six years ago, I got a membership with MesAïeux.com, a French-Canadian ancestry on-line database. So far, most of the info was acurate. I simply lost interest after a few weeks and haven't gone back since then.

    Sometimes, when I wake up at night, I start to think about my ancestors from far, far, far back, like in 1000 BC.... Where would that bring me back to? Who was the father of my father some 80+ generations back?

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  11. Welsh, both sides.

    And a long line of horse thieves.

    Both sides.

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    Replies
    1. Surely that's "sheep thieves"?

      Jx

      PS And yes, I am Welsh too...

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    2. AYEM8Y & JON: I'll let you two sort this out.

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