Sunday, September 30, 2012

52 Weeks of Abundant Genealogy - Week 40

Week 40: Wild Card.
Is there something for which you are thankful that has not been discussed yet? Share your genealogical abundance on a personal level. How does this person/item/group/memory or other entity impact your family history?

I am the family secret - the skeleton in the closet, if you will.  The details of my birth and my father were obscured from view for the first fifty years of my life.  Oh I did know that my mother was married twice and that my stepfather had adopted me and they had my name changed - I knew all about the tip of the iceberg.

But the desire to uncover what lay below the surface is what sent me full throttle down the genealogical research path.  Little did I know how my life would be enriched by the journey - how many wonderful friends I'd make, how much history I'd learn, how many places I'd go, and that I would ultimately come to know a great deal about that other half of my family.

Of course once hooked on family research, there's no stop sign.  I have researched not only my birth father's families, but those of my mother. Then on to the families of my stepfather, but he was adopted and so there is his adoptive family and his birth family to work on for my half siblings' benefit. And my husband's kin needed proper attention so my children would know that side of their heritage. And my son-in-law's father's family because his dad asked me if I ever ran across his surname...

Sunday, September 23, 2012

52 Weeks of Abundant Genealogy - Week 39

Week 39: Society Journal or Quarterly. Share with us your favorite genealogy society journal or quarterly publication. How long have you been reading it? Which group publishes it? Why is this publication one of your favorites? How has is helped you research your family history?

This is another one of those situations where I could never choose just one. I always enjoy a good case history and someone else's success!  Their journey is often helpful regarding methodology and possible obscure sources.

I have been receiving The New England Historical and Genealogical Register, published by the New England Historic Genealogical Society, since the mid 1990's.  I have considerable New England heritage and there have been articles published during that time of subscription that dealt directly with one of my families, or perhaps illuminated a location where they lived.  If you are a member of NEHGS, the back issues of the Register are all online and searchable from their main search engine using the advanced search at American Ancestors.

I have also been a subscriber of the National Genealogical Society Quarterly - for probably almost as many years.  There is a searchable index on their website (for members of NGS) for articles in the Quarterly since 1912, as well as pdf copies of each Quarterly since 1982.  NGSQ publishes special issues from time to time - my two favorites were Evidence, Volume 87, No. 3, September 1999, with the highlighted article Working with Historical Evidence: Genealogical Principles and Standards", by Elizabeth Shown Mills, and
Jefferson-Hemings, Volume 89, No. 3, September 2001, containing the article, "Sally Hemings's Children:  a Genealogical Analysis of the Evidence" by Helen F. M. Leary.  I've had the joy of sitting in classrooms with both of these ladies at IGHR (Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research), Samford University, Birmingham, Alabama.

On a more personal level and directly related to research of one of my husband's families is the Frey Family Association Journal, published by the Heinrich Frey Family Association.  The surname is found most often now as Frye or Fry. Jon Frye has been the editor of the Journal since July of 1992.  It has been published at least twice a year, although some years there were quarterly issues; I have a copy of every issue. The articles are of course, pertinent only to the immigrant, Heinrich Frey and his descendants, but are of the highest quality compared to other family association journals I've read.  Many errors in past research have been revealed, as well as new branches of the family discovered.  Anyone who researches this family would find the Journal a necessity to sort out the many faulty family trees published online [so many Frey/Frye/Fry gentlemen with the same given names have been confused], as well as understand some of the imaginative early "traditions" about Heinrich Frey that weren't quite true.  My own research of my husband's Fry lineage can be found here - many of the references in the narratives will be from this publication.

Happy reading!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

52 Weeks of Abundant Genealogy - Week 38

Week 38: Funny Ancestor Stories. Tell us a funny ancestor story that stands out in your mind. When did you first hear the story? Do other family members tell different versions? Does this tale play a large part in your family tree?

I hadn't forgotten this week's assignment.  I'm just stuck.  Apparently my family isn't very funny!  We have the usual Indian heritage story, the three brothers story - all the common genealogical myths.  We have stories that aren't funny but have been passed down in assorted versions depending on who was doing the telling.

We do all struggle with the various forms and spellings of our ancestors names. Sometimes we aren't sure of the spelling, or the nickname, or even which was a first name and which was the middle name.  Some of our ancestors even changed their names with no legal process, apparently just a change of mind.  Or maybe relatives didn't really know what the name was.  This may not just be a problem of the past.

Thanksgiving of 1999, my husband and I went back "home" to help my Mom cook a traditional Thanksgiving dinner for her three visiting brothers.  The siblings, all in their late 70's, early 80's, had not all been together for several years and weren't sure they would ever be again.  [Sadly, they were not.]

Now my Mom's given names were Josie Ellen.  Her grandmother's were Josie Hays and Ellen Comstock and she had been named for them, but all her life she had gone by the blended name, JoEllen.

I was there mostly to be the chief cook but I had brought my laptop so I could show Mom and my uncles some of the genealogy I'd been working on.  

My laptop itself was an alien object in this particular gathering, but one of my uncles got close enough to look over my shoulder and tell me, "You've got your mother's name wrong!"  To which I replied that was most assuredly her name.  Now I had everyone's attention as I told them her name was Josie Ellen.  She was nodding and agreeing with me.  Her own brothers sat right there and told me that, no, her name was JoEllen and that they had always teased her by calling her "Josie" because it made her mad.  But it wasn't really her name - her name was certainly just JoEllen.

Mom and I spent considerable time explaining how she had been named for her grandmothers and that her name really, really, was Josie Ellen.  I'm not sure they were ever completely convinced.  There is a delayed birth certificate filed for her, but at that time I had not obtained a copy.  Her parents put the name Josie Ellen on that document.  But I'm not sure that would have been any more convincing.  Of course Mom always knew that was her full name - I had known that was her name since the beginning of my memories.  It was hardly a family secret.  How could three brothers growing up with her have missed that!

No wonder sometimes we are confused about named two centuries ago! Their contemporaries probably were, too.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

52 Weeks of Abundant Genealogy - Week 37

Week 37: State Archives. Which state archives repository is your favorite? Have you been there in person? What does their website offer to visitors? Share any advice you can to potential visitors who may visit the archives in the future.

The state archives that I've visited most often is the Alabama Archives in Montgomery.  I used to live about 15 miles north of that city and spent a number of hours in the Archives.  However, I moved away in 2004 and had not been back until last week.  On the Tuesday before the FGS (Federation of Genealogical Societies) Conference in Birmingham, I took the time to spend a morning at the Alabama Department of Archives and History.  I knew when I moved away, a new wing had been planned for the building, but I had never been able to see it.  Oh my!  What a wonderful facility. Everything is much, much easier to access now.  Sorry, I didn't take a photo!

I recommend you visit their website, link above, to discover what is available.  You will find links to their online databases, the county holdings, the form and instructions for requests by mail, their hours and location.  If you can visit in person, it is always best to prepare a list ahead of time for film or books you wish to see - the catalog is available online.  There was plenty of free parking in a lot across the street.  You will be able to take a laptop inside, but not in its case; also only a single file folder/notebook and pencils are allowed.  You might like to have a sweater or light jacket. Lockers are available and readily accessible for your belongings.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

52 Weeks of Abundant Genealogy - Week 36

Week 36: Ancestor Photos. For which ancestral photograph are you most grateful? Who is in the photo and how did you acquire it? Why does the photo hold a special place in your heart?

I'm late again, but I'm hanging in there with this year-long project. Had to unpack from my trip to FGS (Federation of Genealogical Societies) in Birmingham and a side trip to visit to my granddaughters at Mississippi State University. 

My great-grandmother lived to be 97 - I had my first child before she died so I knew her well.  She lost a daughter.  Lelia Ethel was born 18 Nov 1890 in Crawford County, Arkansas - she died at age thirteen, 12 Feb 1904. I was always told she died of an abscess in her side - whatever that might mean. As far as I can determine no death certificate was filed. Lelia was the 4th child in the family.  Grandma's first child - another daughter named Dora - had died soon after birth, but she always told me you didn't grieve for a baby who died so young like you did for a child you raised.  Grandma kept a portrait of Lelia in her bedroom and as a young girl, I was fascinated with this other young girl who never got to grow up.  The picture was likely made shortly before Lelia died.  I've never known what happened to the portrait after Grandma died and her house was sold.  I never expected to see a picture of Lelia again.

However, my Mom had lots of pictures that had belonged to her parents - Lelia had been a sister to her father.  One day in going through a box of old photos we found the following picture - grainy and faded but recognizable.
The couple is James Monroe Comstock (1860-1928) and his wife Lucretia Ellen Wood (1867-1963), my great grandparents.  Left to right the Comstock children are Ira Vard (1892-1968), Kenney Marcus - my grandfather in the bow tie - (1887-1958), Nora Hessa (1889-1973).  And standing to the outside of her mother is LELIA.  The youngest child in the center is Fanny Maude (1894-1988) who later lived with Grandma and took care of her.  She's probably about three - so that dates the picture as made about 1897-98.  There would be four more children in the family.

Lelia is buried in the Uniontown City Cemetery in Crawford County, Arkansas.  On her stone is 
"Her many deeds of kindness form the noblest monument to her memory"

And here is what appeared in the local newspaper:
From Van Buren Argus, 9 Mar 1904:
Lelia Comstock, daughter of Mr. & Mrs. J. M. Comstock, died February 12, 1904.  Aged 13 years.
While we mourn the loss of her sweet face, we rejoice that she has joined the angelic choir, and has left her earthly tabernacle to dwell in the house not made by hands.
Lelia confessed her faith in Christ September 3, 1902, and was baptized on September 7th.  She was a faithful member until death, and now the tired little soul, which has been afflicted for several years, but clung tenaciously to the promise of God, is now safe in the realms of bliss, where earthly sufferings are forgotten in the everlasting joys of Heaven.
J.J.H., Chairman Secretary, Uniontown, Ark.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

More about FGS Conference

Those of us who blog and attend conferences usually receive and wear our Blogger Beads distributed by Thomas MacEntee.  The FGS [Federation of Genealogical Societies] Conference beads from Thomas were complimentary of Dear Myrtle.  They are a conversation starter!  When I return home, they will hang on a door knob with Blogger Beads from past conferences.  They'll be ready if I should ever attend Mardi Gras!

I was asked yesterday if I'd been blogging about the Conference ...and I had to reply that I had, but only once.  So my conscience is nagging me.

Too busy, having too much fun.  And a little brain dead from all the new information.  Best class?  All of them.  Last night - Friday night - was the big drawing of door prizes.  Really good door prizes like a registration to FGS next year in Fort Wayne, an iPad, six nights in Salt Lake City, a research trip worth $2500..  I didn't win.  No, I did not.

But I did become an arbitrator for FamilySearch indexing.  So I'll be arbitrating as well as indexing.  FamilySearch has computers set up to introduce indexing - each completed batch was a chance for a FlipPal at the drawing last night.  Their new big project is the immigration and naturalization records.

Today, Saturday September 1st, is the last day of class, last day of the Exhibit Hall.  Dick Eastman will host his EOGN dinner tonight.  There is a farewell Brunch tomorrow for those of us still around.  It's been a very fast week.

Then I'm off for a side trip to visit my two granddaughters at their University before I head for home.