Friday, December 5, 2014

My Wilhelm Domelle in the Triebswetter Family Book

So a while back, I found out a Familienbuch existed for the town that I traced my immigrant ancestor William Domelle to.  That sentence was constructed horribly, but you get my meaning.

A Familienbuch is a list of births, marriages, deaths, that in this case was specific to the town I was looking at - Triebswetter which existed in what is now modern Romania, but when my ancestor emigrated from it, it was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.  He was ethnic German living in a town full of Germans that had migrated to the area by invitation to work the land. 

Back to the book - so I found out this book existed where someone had spent time transcribing all these records for Triebswetter into a book.  I found the author in Germany and contacted him to see if any copies still existed.  He didn't have any more but sent me an electronic version and we corresponded a bit back and forth. He found some other bits of info on Domelles and kindly sent to me, I filled him in on what happened to the one's I knew that emigrated.  I told him to let me know if he ever printed more because I would love to own hard copies of the information.

And voila, he printed another set (with updates) just recently and you know I ordered a copy!  I got them in the mail just last night, and tonight I sat down to look through it to see what kind of updates might exist for my ancestor families, but really I sat down to just hold the books while lisping out "My Precious Bookses, we waited for you and now you're here my preciouses....."

But I digress...I recently watched the new version of the Hobbit (part 1) and it kind of stuck with me...

Anyway, I found my William and then was shocked!  My name was in there as providing the information of where William had immigrated to in the United States.



          I AM IMMORTAL!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

My Grandmother's Recipes (no green jello allowed)

So anyway, all thoughts of congealed gelatin surrounding bits of pears, peas and cream cheese in my last post aside, let's get back to what I was doing when that all happened.

I scanned a bunch of my maternal grandmothers recipes.  I really enjoy looking at "old" recipes, and the vast majority of females in my family were and are big recipe collectors, so this was really fun.

I tried to spend time scanning only the recipes I thought my grandmother actually used, not just one's she had saved because they looked good.  I actually managed to toss some that I knew she had never made and had just saved.

What really helped me was that she and her sister Mazie exchanged a LOT of recipes and I have many handwritten recipes from Great Aunt Mazie along with the recipes written in my grandmother Ann's handwriting.  Also, there were recipes written down by my Aunt Becky (Anns' daughter) where she just wrote down what was in my grandmother's head, or re-copied from somewhere else and noted the source.  That was another theme I noticed - my grandmother and great-aunt always noted the source of the recipe - who they got it from either in the name or as a notation at the top.

Now I know which recipes came from their Mom - Cornelia Simpson and I even have one that is noted as "Grandmas" and since Mazie wrote it, that means it's her grandma, my great-great-grandmother - Hattie Kirby Quick Allen.  :-)

Most of the recipes were for baking.  I think this must be because you can't fudge baking and just keep it in your head like a recipe for chicken or beef.  You need those specific measurements.  I remember loving my grandmother's homemade bread and she made wonderful pies from scratch as well.

And my family members who knew my great-grandma Cornelia rave about her baking as well so I think these recipes are a great family treasure trove!

Here are a few for your perusal:

This is in Great Aunt Mazie Mix Patrick's handwriting.  She has her recipe for Cream Johnny Cake and then her Grandma's recipe (Hattie) for Johnny Cake.

I don't think I've ever had Johnny Cakes - I've had cornbread, but not this.  I just might have to give it a try!

And this is for Never Fail Cake - again it's in Mazie's handwriting, noted as her Mom's recipe.

I like how Mazie put at the bottom the editorial comment: "This cake is always tender and light when Mom makes it."


And of course there's this one for Raisin Oatmeal Cookies, this is in my grandmother Ann's handwriting and you have to love a recipe that is stained and tattered because that means it was well used!

Not all the recipes are for baked goods - t his one for Fried Potatoes is in my Aunt Becky's handwriting, with her mom being Ann of course.  You know it's good when there's bacon fat involved!!!

And last but not least, here's Mazie's recipe for Mock Oysters.  She says "tastes and smelles just like oysters". 

She had a lot of recipes for "mock" things - mock sour cream, mock milk, mock whipped cream.  I guess that must come from living through the Depression and hard times - she seemed to come up with a lot of recipes on her own.

I'm glad I have these and was able to scan them so now I can share them all around the family!  Maybe I'll even experiment with a few.  None that contain jello of course.  :-)

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

My Grandmother's Recipes and the Horror of Lime Jello Salad

So I have in my possession lots of handwritten recipes that were originally in my maternal Grandmother's possesion.  She and her sister Mazie exchanged recipes for probably their entire lives and many of the recipes I have are in Mazie's handwriting.

Every one who knew their mother, Cornelia, talks about the amazing food she put on the table, especially the baking, so I was interested to see what kind of old family recipes would turn up.

There are definitely a few, but then something else reared its ugly head.

Something horrible.

Something from the past.


go ahead, make it, I dare you:

You know what I'm talking about - those molded jello salads that came into fashion after the Atomic Age.  Did people feel like they were in control of their molded, brightly colored food?  I don't know but I do know it was an evil trend.

It all came flooding back when I found this:

That's my mother's handwriting.  How could she?  And no, they never put in the pecans.

Mommy how could you

Why is Lime Jello Salad so evil you ask?

Let me count the ways:

1. It's florescent green and food the color of one of my college highlight markers is just wrong.

2. It's lime flavored.  Sorry, the only place where put lime flavoring is:

      a.  in the air around the top of my gin and tonic and then placed gently
           into the garbage disposal to give it that citrus tang, or,

      b. in the coconut.

That's it!  Sorry, lime is NOT a dessert flavor and my family, the WOMEN of my family tried to pass this sorry spectacle of congealed gelatin off as a dessert.

A dessert!

Lime jello by itself is enough of an affront, but then they added

Cream Cheese



So now, as a child, I was much more particular than I am now.  Today I'll try mostly anything, unless its the entire animal on the plate, looking at me, or if I have to use metal tools to break open the outer exoskeleton, but that's another story....

Back then I enjoyed my flavors s e p a r a t e.  My foods did not touch on my plate.  I consumed one food at a time, in order of least liked to most liked.  Sorry, those were the rules, can't deviate.  I'm much better now.  :-D  (And this is what plays in my head when I say those words)

And here these women who were supposed to be nurturing me were mooshing up cream cheese and lime jello and jamming big chunks of pears of all things all together.  And putting delicious fluffy Cool Whip on the plate where the pear juice would touch it and ruin it.

Then, just to be mean, they used the bundt pan as a mold to remind you that it wasn't cake, it was as far from cake as anything ever was.

Oh man, it was bad.  And they'd make me eat it.  Ugggggggh, I feel sick just thinking about it.

I still dislike any kind of citrus flavoring in my desserts, now I know why.  I refused to eat cream cheese until I was 20, now I know why.  And limes weren't part of my life until 2007, NOW I KNOW WHY!  What hath you wrought Mommy!!!  :-D

So anyway, I got over my disgust and kept on scanning.

And then, not only did I find that recipe written out again, but then a third time, both in my grandmothers handwriting.  You know what that means.  When you have a recipe multiple times, hand written, you used it a lot.  I do that now with my print-outs.

Here's the kicker though - this one includes......PEAS!!!!!!!!!!!


Cream cheese, lime, pears, and PEAS?

Did they make me eat this at every gathering?  Is this why big swaths of my childhood are missing from my memory?  How was this even legal?

Then I find this in the loose recipes:

Do you see how old this is?

This is PRE-ZIP CODES!  That means 1963!  I checked!
No really, my grandmother saved this for 50+ years, you need to look at this, just look at it:


People ate this!  Someone invented it in a test kitchen!  What the heck is that thing in the bottom left?  There's carrots in there and layers!  And at the top, those are olives in there!  It's called RING AROUND THE TUNA!  Oh my god, I can't believe it.  Ohhhhhh I'll never be able to eat my little cherry jello squares again!

Ooooooooh man.  I really don't like lime jello.  :-D

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!

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.  :-)