Sunday, August 24, 2014

I Have Genealogy Ennui

I feel like I should be reclining on my chaise wearing a turban when I use the word ennui, but hey, for all you know, that's where I am while typing this up anyway.  :-D

So there's this cartoon I've always enjoyed whenever it pops up on someone's feed:

The original can be found here.

It's just like the family drives of my childhood :-)

Today this cartoon came to mind as I had a moment where I thought what if I don't do this any more?

I know, shocking, and we all know it won't last but here's where it came from:

I have this line, this line of "MIX" people.  They are so prolific and all over the place and go way back.  I have this one problem though.  When I made an application to the DAR a few years back, the review process called to light that I don't have enough documented proof that shows that my great-great-great-grandfather really is the son of his father.  Oh, and don't worry, I used a different line from Maryland and got my DAR membership with that one - Yay for the documented HARRISON line!!  :-)

My MIX problem - it's pre-1850 census, pre- any process of birth/marriage/death certificates, NY state claims they can't find anything, I swear they are the worst state to deal with, they should learn from Illinois and PA, but I digress --- I haven't been able to find any wills or probate records, I went over everything I could find while at the Tioga County Historical Society in NY and I just have nothing.

As I was wandering around in the 1865 NY State Census on today I suddenly thought, what if there is no "proof"?  What if I never find anything?  There was a Mix historian who spent years and years and years documenting and in his records he just said it was assumed they were father and son.  If he couldn't find anything, how could I think I ever will?

And then I look at another line that's really well documented - the CHESLEYs - but I can't use them because of a little messy technicality in that my ancestress kind of sort of slept with her brother-in-law, had a baby, my great-great-grandmother, and then passed away.  So this was back in the mid-1800s and again there's no state law of birth certificates (people could lie anyway) so I don't have "proof" that brother-in-law Alonzo really was the father.

And finally I look at my other lines on my mom's side (my dad does his side) and the rest are all deadend brickwalls in the early 1800s.

I am absolutely NOT a professional genealogist and I'm not looking for documented proof to try and take over the monarchy in the UK so I'm not sure if I'm right to be so on the hook for what I think of as real "proof".  I admit I overly document, I am librarian after all, and the saying "no photo? then it didn't happen" applies to my research "no source?  then it's not true".

Maybe it's just time for a break, a step away, I certainly have several months/years worth of scanning to do in the boxes from my grandparents so I'm sure a little perspective will help.

I mean, if I never went any further back on my MIX line, I could certainly fill in the breadth of the tree as the descendants freaking numerous so I guess that could be my focus.  But we all know what going back really far in your tree is super fun and awesome.

So this was a lot of words today and usually I try to intersperse photos in my words or I know I lose people.  I do it in my work emails too, I assume my audience has a 3 bullet point attention span.

In closing then, I'll leave you with another of my favorite cartoons:

HAAAAAAAAAAA!  Whenever I burp, I imagine my face looks like the 3rd panel.

By the way did you know there is an entire search engine devoted to Calvin and Hobbes?  You should go there:


Wednesday, July 9, 2014

The Twins!

So I have some twins in my families, like most people do.  However, not everyone has a photo like this of their twin Great-Aunts at school around 1919ish:

Their names were Mazie and Daisy, born on May 1, 1913.  That's Daisy on the left and Mazie on the right.

Through no fault of theirs, the second I saw this photo for the first time, what do you think popped into my head?   

Here's how it went in my brain:






Of course, Stanley Kubrik's The Shining:  "Come and play with us Leah, forever, and ever, and ever."

Sorry Aunt Mazie and Daisy!  I love your photo and lay all the blame on Stanley Kubrick.

In the meantime though, some additional data on twins in my family!

One interesting note, Mazie and Daisy were older sisters to my grandmother Ann.  Her husband, William Domelle, also had older twin siblings, a boy and a girl, BORN IN THE SAME YEAR - 1913!!!!!  WHOA!  Right?  Weird!

And some real data from my Maternal side of the family:

Sets of twins: 

Jeremiah and Nathanial BOSWORTH, b. 1649
Isaac and Nathanial TURNER, b. 1669
Isaac and Stephen FOOTE, b. 1672
Hannah and John AUSTIN, b. 1677
Joseph and Samuel NORTON, b. 1681
Abigail and Ebenezer NORTON, b. 1683
Mary and Ruth ATWATER, b. 1686
Experience and Rachel IDE, b. 1696
Hepsibah and Martha DAGGETT, b. 1701
Katherine and Nathanial BLISS, b. 1702
Hepsibeth and Martha COOPER, b. 1729
Abel and Joanna ROYCE, b. 1730
Dareks and Dorcas MANN, b. 1731
Daniel and Lament COLLINS, b. 1745
Abigail and Allen BOSWORTH, b. 1758
Nathan and Olive IDE, b. 1759
David and Susannah BROWN, b. 1782
Janet and Susan INGRAHAM, b. 1822
Charles and Darius BOWEN, b. 1824
George and William INGRAHAM, b. 1829
Marilda and Matilda KIRBY, b. 1857
Flora and Frederick ORCUTT, b. 1867
Alice and Edward ELIOT, b. 1885
Lena and Leon SIMPSON, b. 1896
Mazie and Daisy MIX, b. 1913
Anthony and Anna DOMELLE, b. 1913

Total # of Twins:  52 total, 26 sets

Female vs. Male:  25 males, 27 females, 6 sets both male, 7 sets both female, 10 sets 1 each

8 sets in 1600s
9 sets in 1700s
7 sets in 1800s
2 sets in 1900s
0 sets in 2000s

Seems like our incidence of twins has petered out during the last century.  But whether that is due to smaller family size or dilution of the genes is up to a scientist to figure out, not me!  :-)

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Scanning, Scanning, and then Scanning Some More

I haven't written a blog post in a while because I've been busy scanning.  And scanning.  And scanning.  Sometimes I make a drinking game out of it.

1. If the next photo has nothing written on the back, then take a drink!

2. If the next photo had something written on the back but someone trimmed the photo in such a way as to remove all words other than "A" and "the" and "and that's where I buried the gold", then take a drink!

3. If the next photo has writing on the back but turns out to have been added within the past 10 years and is actually incorrectly identifying the people in the photo, then take a drink!

That usually wraps up the scanning exercise early for the day.

I'm a glutton for punishment though, I was so happy to scan an album that belonged to my grandmother that I didn't know she had.  I knew the album, but at some point in the past several years, she had replaced what was in it with very old photos that she must have inherited from her sister and brother after they died.

I freely admit, the album was a little daunting:


But I broke it into steps - First Step!  Photograph each page to get a record of how my grandmother placed the photos.  At first I thought they were random - just what would fit where, but shame on me, of course Grandma was grouping by people she thought were the same or from the same family group.  Like all of her brother Les's kids were on one page.

So now that I had that record of how it looked - Step Two!  I took the whole thing apart - took out every photograph.

Step Three!  Start the Scanning!  Here's where I scanned and scanned and scanned.  Each photo - front and if anything was there, the back.  Even if it was just the numbering from the developer I scanned it because you can match photos to a single roll if you find the same number on the back.

Step Four!  Put the photos in a safe place!  I have an archival box that I got from a great website of archival needs that is acid-free and safe and I put them all in there while I reviewed the digital images.

Step Five!  Organize!

So this took me a bit - I created folders with each family members name, or whatever name was written and placed each photo I could identify FOR SURE into the appropriate folder.  If a photo had more than one family member in it, I put a copy in each folder.

Step Six!  Acquire a family online that will help you identify photos you are clueless about!  I just so happen to be very fortunate - I am a member of 2 family groups in facebook where I've been able to post these images and get feedback.  All those cousins of mine are fantastic and have helped so much.  :-)  Yay for Mix and Akins families!!!!

Step Seven!!  Back it up!  Everywhere.  Redundancy is my middle name.

Step Eight!  Share everything possible - you never know who is going to be able to help or who will be so happy and grateful to see a photo that you had no clue would be so important to someone else. 

I love love love being able to share all these images I scan!

Final Step!  Repeat this for the 22 photo albums sitting upstairs.  :-)

But while I do that I so enjoy having photos like this of my great-great-grandmother Hattie E. Kirby Akins Quick Robson Allen (yes, she was a popular gal and YES, she out-lived each of them)  :-D

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!