Sunday, March 23, 2014

Displaying Family Photos

I don't know about you, but I have a LOT more family photos stored on various hard drives, cds and thumb drives then I do displayed.

But then the amount I have of scanned and scavenged photos is way too much to try and put in frames around the house as well. 

So I decided to specifically look for photos that were pre-1980 and had a family member either laughing out loud or doing something silly.  You know a lot of times you see old family photos with people looking sometimes a little stern, so I wanted the opposite of that.  Pre-1980 was just an arbitrary date I pulled out of the air.

So I found some and sent them off to snapfish to be made into real photos - which of course is a whole other project!

Then for frames, I used T.J. Maxx and Marshalls and Home Goods types of stores to look for pretty frames that were cheap and those stores are always good for that kind of stuff.

Then I spent some time laying out the frames on the with the photos seeing what looked like a good match - some required trimming or were weird sizes but that's okay, it makes the collection look eclectic.

And yes, I wrote people's names on the backs of the photos!  :-)

So here's my first set of laughing family photos:

I'm so pleased with how they've turned out so far!  I have about a dozen more that are waiting for a frame that will match their size so I'll have more in the future but I think this is a great start.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

47 Years of Letters and Cards

What does one do with 47 years of letters, postcards and cards that one inherits from one's grandparents?

Scan them!!!!!

Well, mostly.

Naturally the archivist in me said scan them all.  But then the realist in me said, hold up there, is it really necessary to scan an anniversary card from 1998 that just has the givers signature in it?

Noooo, I guess not.

So here's what I actually did:

1. Gather all the correspondence in one place from the various little boxes we put them in:

2. Then, because I have no self-control over my OCD tendencies, I put them in chronological order.  The earliest letter was from 1959.  There was a house fire in the family and unfortunately any correspondence earlier than 1954 that was saved would have burned.  :-(

If you look at the photos closely, you will see that there is a handwritten date on every. single. envelope.

Why?  My grandmother wrote the date received on every. single. envelope.

I don't think I've been that consistent with anything I've ever done in my entire life.

3. And here is the hard part:  while putting them in chronological order, I purged.

Oh the humanity!  It went against everything in me but I had to be ruthless.  Store bought cards with nothing but an "I love you" or "We love you" and a signature had to go.  Only items that actually contained written lines were kept.  I did keep an eye out for return addresses though, in case I came across one I didn't already have a record of.

4. Start scanning!!!  I scanned the envelope and each page contained in it.  If the return address was on the back of the envelope, then I scanned the back.  Postcards were scanned front and back.

I used 400 dpi for most everything since it was just text.

I used folders for each year, and in the filename I used YYYY-MM-DD-envelope-from-firstname-lastname.  Then changed out "envelope" for "letter-page-1" and so on.

5.  Keep scanning!

6. Geez, keep scanning.

7. Done!  Oh wait, there's a pile over there I forgot.

8.  Scan some more.

9. Start playing drinking games.  For every time my Great Uncle Tony used a red pen, take a shot.  For every time my Great Aunt Mazie included a recipe, take a shot.

10. Sleep it off.

11. Now we're actually finished!

Yep, that's right - 1 GB total.

Here are the one's that made it through the cull and got scanned:

12. Start burning them to media to give to all my relatives.  Also a backup for myself.  :-)  I don't need to give a GB of files to each relative - for instance my Domelle relatives don't need letters from Aunt Mazie and vice versa.

So what did I get from this experience?

The most wonderful thing is I feel like I know my Great-Grandmother Cornelia Simpson, my Great Aunt Mazie Patrick and my Great Uncle Tony Domelle as real people now - they were people I barely or never met in person and they were the most prolific writers to my grandparents.  It's wonderful to have a feel for their personalities now and I am so grateful that my Mom and Aunt told me to just take those boxes of letters and deal with them.  :-)

I found family recipes - the bread recipe my Great-Grandmother used.

I found a lock of hair stuffed in a letter I sent to my grandparents - not my hair!

Lots of health info that is so valuable - Cousin So-and-so had this disease and Uncle So-and-so had this.

But really it's wonderful to have these handwritten little legacies.  It won't be like this a generation from now - kids and grandkids will see our facebook posts and blogs, but they won't see our actual handwriting that gets worse from arthritis over the years, or see our actual signatures.

Yay for letters!  Go write one today!

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun - What's Your Ancestor Score?

I don't much care for math - BUT - I love statistics!  I know, I can't explain it, it's just the way it is!

So when I saw Randy Seaver's latest Saturday Night Genealogy Fun, I had to do it!

His mission:

1)  Determine how complete your genealogy research is.  For background, read Crista Cowan's post Family History All Done? What’s Your Number? and Kris Stewart's What Is Your Genealogy "Score?"  For comparison purposes, keep the list to 10 or 11 generations with you as the first person.  

2)  Create a table similar to Crista's second table, and fill it in however you can (you could create an Ahnentafel (Ancestor Name) list and count the number in each generation, or use some other method).  Tell us how you calculated the numbers.

3)  Show us your table, and calculate your "Ancestral Score" - what is your percentage of known names to possible names (1,023 for 10 generations).

4)  For extra credit (or more SNGF), do more generations and add them to your chart.

5)  Post your table, and your "Ancestor Score," on your own blog, in a comment to this post, or in a Facebook Status post or Google+ Stream post.

And my report back:

1) Some of my New England ancestors are extremely well-documented back to England through the 1500s and beyond - other lines of mine stop in a brick wall in just a few generations.  So I created an ahnentafel report in my family tree software and counted away.  I had to do a separate report for my mother's and father's lines as my dad researches his side and so it's a separate record to be accessed by the software.

2) and 3) and 4) Here is a screenshot of my table.  I built it in Excel.  The percentage column is for each row with the total at the bottom.

 My ancestor score at the 10 generation mark is 6.45% - the numbers drop pretty quickly by generation 7!

My overall score for all 15 generations is just 1.37%!!  Pretty amazing when I feel like I have so many names - turns out I really don't!  :-)   It's really quite humbling - there's still so much out there.  One of the hardest things though is not just gathering names, but gathering the real proof that goes along with them - and that's been my main focus the last few years.  I don't want to waste time researching a line back that I can't really prove is my line when it comes under scrutiny.  I learned that from my application to the DAR.  :-)


Saturday, December 28, 2013

William and Cornelia Mix in 1925

My last post from yesterday saw my maternal Great-Grandparents William and Cornelia Mix in 1915 via the New York State Census.  I also found the 1925 state census so we can take a look at them 10 years on.

Two more children have been born in the last 10 years - a boy, Leslie, and a girl, Anna (who is my maternal grandmother).  The eldest boy, Floyd, is not listed here, he's now 18 and has likely moved out.

William and Cornelia also have a boarder living with them: Clifford Hyna who is a Teamster.

The census lists them as living in Dryden, Tompkins County, New York.  But when I looked at the map, the "Brookton" road that they are on is actually a road very near the Caroline Depot Road they lived on in 1915.  So the official town is Dryden for the records, but in reality there are just a couple miles from where they lived before.

William is listed as being a Carpenter on this census - usually he is a farmer working the land the belongs to others.  They moved very frequently to wherever the work was and my Great-Grandmother Cornelia kept lists of where they lived.  For this time of June 1, 1925, she says they were living at the Miller's.  They had moved there just 2 months before and would stay through the next year when Cornelia was surprised with another baby.  I'm sure she thought my grandmother would be the last but oh no!

The oldest living at home, Spencer, was working as a Building Laborer.  Laurance, Masie, Daisy and William E. were all at school.  So only 7 year old Leslie and 5 year old Anna were at home with Cornelia.

I always think about Cornelia with all those kids because my grandmother Anna told me of a strong memory she had at the dinner table where her Dad, out of patience with the kids, said to his wife: "Nelia, can't you control these kids?".

Of course, all that might explain why they ended up getting divorced in 1935!

Below is a photo from 1923 of the twins, Masie and Daisy, and my grandmother Anna, so in this census, they are all now 2 years older.

What's really interesting is that today when I looked at that building, I realized I saw it yesterday when searching on Caroline Depot Road for yesterday's post.  It is in fact, the Caroline Depot train station!  It's now gone, but here it is in 1923.

There's another photo from 1923 that shows it as well (it also shows my cutie-pie Grandma!):

And here's a link to what I looked at yesterday:

The link is from the Town of Caroline page which is part of the Tompkins County NYGenWeb site.

So now I know where these 2 photos were taken!

And finally, here is a photo of the oldest boy still living at home in this 1925 census, Spencer, taken the next year in 1926:

1933 is the year Spencer left the family and never returned.  His whereabouts were a mystery to his parents and siblings until I started doing genealogy and found him in census records.  He had passed away long before I started my research though.  No one knew why he left the way he did.

So that's the state of William and Cornelia in 1925!

Friday, December 27, 2013

William and Cornelia Mix in 1915

What a treat for me - spending some time on genealogy research during my Christmas break!  It was a busy year - what time I did have I spent on my Domelle line and got a lot of breakthroughs - so now I want to turn my attention back to my Mix line to see what has popped up in the interim.

I did a search on Ancestry on my maternal great-grandmother Cornelia Elizabeth (Akins) Mix and the first thing I noticed was a New York State census from 1915 that I hadn't seen before.  Yay for New York!  On pg 4 of the NY State Census for Election District 03, Assembly District 01, City of Caroline, in Tompkins County they were listed.

So without a doubt, there's my family - my maternal grandmother is not yet born in 1915 but her old siblings and parents are listed:

They are listed as living on the crossroad between Caroline Depot Road and State Road 1004.  I found Caroline Depot road right away on a current map, but State Road 1004 must be an old name for something because I searched and was unable to locate it.  But they were on one of those crossroads.  Caroline Depot was named this because there was once a railroad line from Ithaca to Owego.  This little road and the depot was about 8 miles southeast of Ithaca.  The depot station and the railroad are both long gone but the name remains.

So in the house at the crossroads, we've got my 38 year old Great-Grandfather William H. Mix and his 28 year old wife Cornelia E. (Akins).  They were married Christmas Day in 1904 - this is a photo I have of Cornelia that says it's from 1904 - maybe it was taken during her engagement?

And now, 10 1/2 years later, they have 6 children (which includes one set of twins). 4 boys - Floyd (age 8), Spencer (age 7), Laurance (age 4) and William (age 56 days).  The twins were 2 year old girls Mazie and Daisy (listed in this census by her birth name Mable).

That must have been a boisterous household!!  At least the 3 oldest boys went off to school during the day!

I found a photo of Cornelia with the twins were they were just babies in 1913:

So in 1915 those little girls are now in their terrible two's and there's also a 2 month old baby to care for - YIKES!

William's occupation is listed as "Farmer" which is what he did all his life - I don't know that he ever owned his own land, as far as I know he always farmed for others, or worked as an itinerant farm laborer once the economy got bad in the 1930s.  The family moved A LOT - following the work.  I have a list that my Great-Grandmother kept of all the places they lived and at which houses the kids were born in.  Cornelia was wonderful for keeping lists of all kinds of things - birth/death dates, addresses, etc.

For when this census was taken - June of 1915 - this corresponds to when Cornelia's list says they were living at the "Bates Pl." which means the home of Mr. and Mrs. Bates.  So it was Mr. Bates land that they were farming.  She also lists her son William as being born at that house.

They lived at this house listed in the census from 01 March 1915 through 01 April 1916 when they moved on to another farm.

And so that completes my analysis of the state census I found!  Maybe I'll come across an old map that shows the State Road 1004 or the name of Bates on farm land.  We'll see!