thegenealogygirl


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Major Milestone Right Here!

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Last week I filed and filed and filed letters.  Do you know what a treat it is to open letter after letter and see your grandparents handwriting?  To touch the pages they touched?  To hear their sweet and enduring love for each other?  It was completely joyful for me.

I am soooooo happy to say that I filed every single letter for the 5 1/2 years they wrote to each other!  Ten Hollinger boxes filled with letters.

(Of course, I still have the letters from the 1960s when my Grandpa was in graduate school.  But we won’t even think about those yet.)

As soon as I finish scanning Aunt Vera’s scrapbook – these letters are next on deck for scanning.  I think they deserve their own blog.  Maybe this fall.  😉

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These four boxes were mostly full on Wednesday when I started.  They look so beautiful empty, I might just leave them on my table for a day to enjoy their tender place in my heart.

 

Happy Monday, I hope you conquer a special genealogy project sometime this year – it is an incredible feeling!

 

 


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Photograph Showcase: Grandma Margaret and her Violin

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This beautiful photo of my Grandma was found amongst a bundle of negatives from her collection.  Because it was a negative, there is no information about the photograph.  I know that it is my Grandmother, Mary Margaret Ellis.  She played the violin and the piano.  She also had a beautiful singing voice.  I love seeing her here as a young, and clearly dedicated, musician.  Isn’t she darling?

What a treasure!

 

ps – I will be in letter sorting heaven for the next few days while most of my family is on a boys only adventure.  Would it be rude to put a Do Not Disturb sign on my front door?  😉

 


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The Mixed Up Case of the Two James Youngs & Janet Robertsons in Renfrewshire, Scotland

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In May of 2014, I had a happy breakthrough moment when I added another generation to my tree on my Young line in Scotland.  It was a major victory that had just been waiting there for me.  That discovery led to additional discoveries when I found parents for both James Young and Janet Robertson.  In just a few short weeks I had added two full generations and plenty of descendants.  It was exciting!

My excitement quickly came to a halt.

You see, I like to participate in building the Family Tree in FamilySearch.org.  So once I have researched a family well, I go into FamilySearch and try to update, source, add, merge, or whatever is needed, to help that Tree be as correct as possible.

When I went into the tree to add or attach James Young & Janet Robertson’s parents, I was faced with the most convoluted mess I’d come across yet.

This was my James & Janet with some of their children:

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Everything looked pretty good.  Some facts, sources, children, and grandchildren were (and still are) missing, but otherwise, this was all correct.

But then a troubling duplicate reared it’s head when I went looking for James Young and Janet Ferguson, James’ parents.  I found this:

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So what is the trouble exactly?  Oh goodness, where do I begin…

This James Young has the same birth and death dates and places as my James Young.  He also has parents with the same names as my James Young’s parents.  His wife also has the same name as my James Young’s wife.  His first two children listed have the same names, birth dates, and birth places as my James Young’s first two children.

But then.  There are problems.

The marriage date and place are different by two years and 1 parish.  This James Young’s wife Janet Robertson has a different birth date and place, and different parents from my Janet.  And, who are those last two children?  They don’t seem to belong to my James Young and Janet Robertson.

The more I tried to unravel this, the more confusing it was.  I started by looking at the marriage records for both couples.  I wondered if they were a duplicate couple who had banns read in a neighboring parish?  Had the record of the banns been indexed incorrectly?  It’s a pretty big stretch since the entire date is so drastically different, but I wasn’t going to rule it out.  Looking at all of the records – all four – made it quite clear that there were two couples.  One who married in Renfrew, Renfrewshire in 1823 and one who married in High Church, Paisley, Renfrewshire in 1821.

At this point I decided I needed to complete a surname study for both parishes.  For the next three years I slowly went through the microfilm records for these parishes every time I went to BYU to research.  I had a notebook.  Every event for someone with the surname of Young was recorded.  It was slow and tedious.  I didn’t have much time to give to it.  It felt like it would take forever.

But then!  Ohhhh, this is about to get good…

About six weeks ago, I started helping two different people with Scottish research.  I hadn’t been working on my Scottish lines recently.  I knew that the ScotlandsPeople website had been updated.  I’d gotten lots of emails about it.  I just hadn’t tried it out yet.  There were so many complaints about glitches at first, that I thought I would let the dust settle before I used it.  I had other parts of my tree to work on, so it was just fine.

As I helped these two different people discover the joys of Scottish research, it started an itch for me.  I wanted to work on part of my Scottish lines again.

One afternoon, about 4 weeks ago, I was zipping around my house getting stuff done.  I had the strongest impression that I should revisit one of my brick walls – Andrew Brown, my 4th great grandfather.  I dropped everything and gave it a look.  Over the next three days I completely demolished that brick wall and had the best time pushing my tree back several generations.  But that, is a story for another day.

As my Andrew Brown journey was winding down, I thought about my dusty notebook and my Young Surname Study.  It hadn’t gotten any attention for a few months.  ScotlandsPeople is so different now.  I thought I could probably complete the project from home now without having to buy too many records.  So I pulled out my notebook and got to work.

I am sooooo happy to say that on Tuesday, the 13th of June, 2017, I tackled the main goal of my Young Surname Study.  I had enough information to accurately separate the two James Young and Janet Robertsons and their children.  I carefully fixed everyone, sourced them, and made sure they are attached to the correct family members.  That Tuesday was a long and wonderful day.

Without going into too many confusing details, this is what I discovered.

The James Young who was attached to my James Young’s parents is a different man.  He did in fact marry a Janet Robertson in 1821 in High Church, Paisley, Renfrewshire.  But after that, there is no trace of either of them.  No children, no death records, no census.  I don’t know where they went.

The first two children – James Young b. 1824 and Thomas Young b. 1828 were actually the children of my James and Janet and were duplicates.

The daughter, Jean Young, who did not belong to my James Young and Janet Robertson, did not belong to this James Young and Janet Robertson either.  She is the daughter of John Walker Young and Janet Robertson who were married in 1828 in Neilston, Renfrewshire.  Her complete name is actually Jean Anderson Young and this little darlin’ has two birth and baptism records in two different parishes.  Luckily for me, the father’s unusual occupation of (Calico) Printer in Grahamston was listed on both of her records, along with the detail that she was the couple’s 2nd child and 2nd daughter.

The last son listed, Robert Young, was not the child of my James and Janet or of this James and Janet either.  He was the son of a James Young and Janet Robertson who married in Paisley, High Church, Renfrewshire in 1831, four years before his birth in the exact same parish and ten years after the marriage of the couple he was attached to.

In the end, this meant that the convoluted James and Janet were left with no birth and death dates and places for James, no children, no parents for James, and still attached to the parents for Janet.  Parents that I did not research, so I can’t say for certain they are in fact her parents.

My James and Janet are now attached properly to their children and parents.  Well, aside from the few children I haven’t fully researched and added yet.

My surname study is not complete.  There are still plenty of family members I need to finish researching.  But these are my big takeaways from my progress so far:

First – Don’t be afraid of a mess in FamilySearch.  You can solve it!  Even if it takes three years.  No one messed with the mess because I left a very detailed note on both James Youngs explaining my research project.  If you want to work effectively in FamilySearch – communicate!  Leave notes, sources, and good explanations when you make changes or additions.

Second – A surname study is an AWESOME way to really get to know a parish and a family or set of families.  You get a good sense of how many people live there and how they are connected to each other.  It took my best guesses, and some surprise people and facts,  and turned them into concrete conclusions.

Third – There are A LOT of James Youngs in the county of Renfrew in Scotland.  😉

 

Have you ever completed a surname study?  Would a surname study help your research?

 


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Treasures: Aunt Vera’s Scrapbook; A Perplexing Gem Riddled with Fact and Fiction

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In late April I wrote about Aunt Rosey and her girls and the crazy trip down the rabbit hole their story took me on.  Their story is complicated.  Very, very complicated.  One of the items I included in that post was this scan – including this very helpful wedding announcement – from Aunt Vera’s scrapbook.

Quick refresher:  Alice Hyde is my 2nd great grandmother.  Vera Duval is Alice’s daughter.  Rosey is Alice’s sister, and Vera’s aunt.  Plus – Rosey has a daughter named Elvera too.  (Just for fun I’ll also add that Alice and Rosey’s step-mother/aunt was also named Alice.)

So back to the scrapbook.  When I first shared this invitation, I wrote this:

At this point I reviewed a few old family notes and letters.  Now be careful not to get lost here.  I found a letter written by Vera, daughter of Alice Hyde Duval who is the sister of Rosey Hyde.  Yes that’s right, both sisters named a daughter Elvera.  This letter written by Vera to my Grandma, mentions an old scrapbook that Vera kept.  She asked my Grandma if she wanted to have it.

I had a lightbulb moment and remembered that my mom’s cousin Heather had emailed me a few scans of an old scrapbook she had.  I dug through my emails and found those scans.  Among them was this page.

When Heather sent this to me all those years ago, I had NO EARTHLY IDEA who Mr. and Mrs. Peter Williamson were.  I did some basic searching but came up empty.  I figured they were important to someone in my family so I went ahead and added them to FamilySearch and uploaded the announcement.  But now?  The minute that image opened, I knew exactly who they were – this was a marriage invitation for the daughter of Rose Elvera Hyde and Peter Williamson.

Rosey was a Grandma!

After writing this post, I contacted my mom’s 1st cousin Heather, and asked if she would be willing to scan the rest of the scrapbook so I could look for other clues.  She did me one better and mailed it to me so I could scan it.

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This is the cover of Vera’s scrapbook.  It’s a 3-ring binder filled with letters, cards, announcements, invitations, certificates, and tons of newspaper clippings.  TONS of newspaper clippings.

I’m about 2/3 of the way through scanning right now.  There are so many helpful items.  But the real fun comes when there are seemingly helpful items that I get to decided if they are fact or fiction.  Case in point:

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This scrapbook page has several parts to it:

  • Folded certificate (that we will ignore for the purposes of this post).
  • Torn newspaper clipping attached to the back of the folded certificate.
  • Newspaper photo with three print items taped to it and handwritten notes in pencil.
  • The name Duval in what appears to be my Grandma’s handwriting.  (Vera’s niece.)

Let’s start with the torn newspaper clipping.  It reads:

“-The candy had a bitter- ———- (ch)ocolate cover with flakes of (cocan)ut, and a marshmallow center.  No one asked me, but I finally took a piece.  I was chewing when a beautiful woman walked through the archway.

“I’m Dolores Hope,” she said.  “Are you waiting for Bob?”  My tongue pushed the candy frantically over into one cheek.  “Yes,” I said.  “My name is Bishop, Mrs. Hope.  This is Mrs. Bishop.”  We chatted a ——— Mrs. Hope, with a gold-leaf…”

Well, here is the fun part.  Vera had a sister named Dolores.  Dolores was married to a man with the last name of Hope.  This seems to be a piece of fiction included in the newspaper that struck Vera’s fancy because of the coincidental name use.  But, the album is full of these, so it starts to mess with my head a bit and I feel like I need to spend more time sorting fact and fiction.

Now on to the photo.

Above the photo is handwritten in pencil, “I opened the paper & there you were same Gay Grin & all”.  At the bottom of the photo is written in the same hand, “& you —– to ice skate”.

The caption of the photo is “Propriety On Ice”.

Taped to the photo are two different print items that read, “Elvera Duval”.

The photo itself looks very much like Vera, the scrapbook’s creator.  But just like the fictional stories make me question, the seemingly factual ones make me doubt a bit too.

The last item on the photo is the sideways bit of newsprint that reads:

“-efore Ike and Mamie arrived in —- Springs, Dolores Hope asked if she and the children could —- note and ask to call.”

I have no idea what that bit of news has to do with the photo.  Maybe they occurred close together?  Maybe Dolores sent the photo of Vera and she was the one who taped the bit about (possibly) herself to the side?

Oy!  Aunt Vera, you have created a lengthy and masterful puzzle in this wondrous scrapbook of yours.

 

I still have more scanning to do, but the scanning is the super easy part.  The study of each item is going to be complicated for sure.

 

What do you think?  Which items on this page are fact and which are fiction?

 

 

Many thanks to Heather for the kind use of this family treasure.  Once it’s fully scanned, it’s headed back to her care.

 


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The Price That We Pay as the Keepers of the Memories

PETERSON, Grandma and Grandpa with Kent kids, 1987

My siblings and I with our grandparents – Ronald and Margaret Peterson.  1987

The first time I read The Giver by Lois Lowry, I was in my late teens or early twenties attending college.  I was instantly struck by the lack of true joy that existed in the community because of the absence of historical knowledge and freedom of choice.  The stripping away of freedoms, the complete control of the environment – even the weather itself – eventually led to a deterioration in all that makes us human.  No one chose their own career, spouse, number of children, what to eat.  They took daily “vitamins” to control their sexual urges.  Children were bred and then placed with families.  Members of the community were instructed in every way.  They even lost their ability to see color.

But there was one community member who was the “Keeper of Memories”.  This community elder was tasked to contain all knowledge of the past.  He held the memories of snow, music, dance, colors, taste, love, fear, courage, war, death, hunger, and everything in life that has the potential to bring pain.  He alone could advise the other village elders on matters they did not understand.  He alone kept the memories of humanity.

Jonas, the main character of the story, is selected to be the next “Keeper of Memories” and begins to meet with the man for whom the book is titled.  The Giver slowly pours memories into Jonas.  He begins with pleasant memories.  As time passes Jonas learns all that has been taken from him and his community members.  He learns that joy and pain are two sides of the same coin.  That the deeper we love, the deeper our loss when death comes.

Genealogists are also Keepers of Memories.  Memories of family members and their lives.  Memories of facts and stories.  Memories of how our family members fit into history.  We research, archive, write, analyze, preserve, store, share, and most of all – we tell.

Genealogists may be the Keepers of Memories for their families.  But they are nothing like Lowry’s Keeper of Memories.  We tell everything we can, to everyone who will listen.

We pay a price for our role as Keepers.  We give up time, money, space in our homes and hearts.  We have rooms filled with boxes, photos, albums, records, and artifacts.  We pay far more than we would ever admit for supplies, trips, education, books, records, and subscriptions.  We spend more time than even exists in a normal person’s week on our work.  We fill our hearts to overflowing with connections, memories, and love for people – many of whom we have never met.

There is another price we pay.

It is sharp, gut wrenching pain.

Pain that comes when we open a death record for a little baby and read that they died of measles in their infancy.  Pain we feel again when we hear people refusing vaccines for their children.  Because we know.  We have read the records and seen child after child in the same family die of diseases that are preventable today.

Pain that comes when we learn that some ancestor was intentionally harmed by someone.  Or even worse, when we learn that a member of our family chose to cause harm to someone.

Pain that comes when we doggedly chase lead after lead after lead, hoping to find that one record, that one fact that will finally poke a hole in our brick wall only to face disappointment.

Pain that comes when we have some simple daily reminder of how we lost someone that we love more than we can possibly say.

That happened to me this weekend.

I was watching something from my DVR.  An old episode of Long Lost Family that I hadn’t watched yet.  When it finished and I clicked delete, the TV went right to the channel it was on and a commercial began to play at that moment.  The moment I clicked the off button was the exact moment I heard “…cures Hep C…”.  I instantly turned the TV back on and sobbed as I watched a commercial for the first time, advertising a new wonder drug that can cure Hepatitis C in a few weeks or months with a 95% cure rate.*

My heart immediately ached for my Grandpa Peterson.  A man that I loved with my whole heart.  A man who was good and loving and selfless.  A man who always had time to listen and help.  A grandpa like no other.  A grandpa who spent time with me – lots of time.  He was a Mormon Missionary, a Marine, a University Professor, a Psychologist, a Church Leader, a Marriage and Family Therapist, a School Board President, a good neighbor, and an outstanding son, husband, father, brother, and grandfather.

He died about the same time that I first read The Giver.  I was 20 years old when he passed.  It was a punch to the gut.

He died of complications from Hepatitis C that he contracted from a blood transfusion in the eighties.  Near the end, he had Congestive Heart Failure that was so advanced he slept in a wooden rocking chair most nights.  He tried everything the doctors suggested.  He tried Interferon treatments that left him even sicker, much like chemo treatments.  He was on a no salt diet and meds for his CHF.  Nothing was working.  As a last ditch effort, he had heart surgery.  There was a slim chance he would recover and then they could give him a liver transplant.  But he never left the hospital.  He died two weeks later, three weeks after his 71st birthday.

As I watched the commercial, I sobbed for the years that I lost with my Grandpa.  And I thought about how we, as our family’s Keeper of Memories, can’t help but connect everything we see, hear, read, and experience to some part of our family’s history.  I’m not the only member of my family who remembers how we lost Grandpa.  There are plenty of others who share in the same pain.  But there are so many other parts of our family story that are kept only by me.

I am my family’s Keeper of Memories.  I pay a price because of that.  But it is a price I would pay again and again because the joy, understanding, and connections that come, outweigh the price every single day.  Even on the days when a TV commercial reminds me of one of my greatest losses.  The depth of my pain only exists because of the depth of my love and the joyful memories of a grandfather who loved being a grandfather – who loved me completely and let me know it.

I treasure my role as Keeper of Memories for my family.  I don’t need that red sled.  I’m staying in this role until I know it’s time to pass the torch.  I will keep telling everyone in my family who will listen, the precious tid-bits about our past.

My Grandpa is one of the reasons I embraced this role that came to me.  His memory should never be forgotten.  I will do my best to make sure it isn’t.

 

What joy and pain have come to you as your family’s Keeper of Memories?

 

 

*I’m not sure if I got the numbers from the commercial exactly right.  That is what I recall.  I didn’t want to find it and watch it again.

 

ps – I believe that Families can be Forever.  This belief means that the flip side of my pain in missing my Grandpa is the joy of knowing I will see him again.  I treasure that knowledge.  His death was the first that I experienced in my family.  (Not counting great grandparents who I didn’t know nearly as well.)  That, and the manner in which he died, and the strength of our relationship, have made his loss more painful than many others I have experienced.  Which makes my gratitude for Eternal Families even deeper.  You can read more about what I believe here.


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Salt Lake Tribune Negative Collection

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Yesterday, while reading a post from the NGS blog, I noticed a link to a Utah photo collection that is new to me.  It’s the Salt Lake Tribune Negative Collection.  I clicked on over to check it out and discovered this cool photo of my great grandfather.

This photo was taken 1 February 1957.  These fellas were somehow connected to the Utah State Livestock Association.  My great grandpa, Rulon Powell Peterson, is on the right, holding his hat and wearing glasses.  He was a very successful cattle rancher.  The other two men are named as John E Booth and Clemm Schramm, but I don’t know which one is which.

I did a little perusing of the collection and didn’t find anything else related to my family.  The collection is hosted by Utah State History.  They have a few other collections.  If you have any Utah family, you may want to check it out.

And once again, I am so thankful that I quickly read a post listing various online collections.  You just never know what you might find in some obscure online collection.

 

Happy Thursday, I hope you make a surprisingly delightful genealogy discovery today!

 


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Dear Genealogy Bloggers, I love you!

I heart genealogy bloggers

For several weeks now I have been wanting to send a big thank you to two bloggers.  Randy Seaver of Geneamusings and Gail Dever of Genealogy à la carte.

Randy regularly posts lists of new and updated record collections.  These are not the blog posts I usually spend much time on.  (No offense Randy, I’m just a busy mom with a preschooler still at home…)  But for some reason, I started reading them more carefully lately.  Well, on May 12th he posted a list of new records available on FindMyPast.  Among the many collections was “National School Admission Registers & Log-Books 1870-1914.  He noted that, “Over 34,000 York School records have been added…” to that collection.

Guess who lived in York?

My Hyde family.  Including Robert and Rosey.

Now, I have looked through the indexed school records available on Sheffield Indexers and found several records for my Hyde family.  But I thought I’d give it a look and see what was there.

Guess what?

There were SEVERAL records for my Hyde family on FindMyPast that have not yet been indexed on Sheffield Indexers.  And even better – there are images!

Like this one:

HYDE, Muriel Grace, 1909 to 1910 School Record

Do you know what that is?!

It’s a record of Muriel Grace Hyde, Rosey and Robert Hyde’s oldest daughter, being enrolled, and re-enrolled, and removed, and removed again from the Western Road Infants School in Sheffield, Yorkshire, England.  This means that I have several more dates for my timeline.  Yippee!!

Thank you Randy!

 

Now let’s talk a little bit about Gail.

Gail also posts quite often about new collections and other genealogy news.  On May 16th, she posted about an update to the WWI Canadian Expeditionary Force service files.  If you remember, that very collection gave me a hint of Norma.  And from there, well, the ensuing research took me on a crazy trip down the rabbit hole.

But here’s the thing.  My 2nd great grandfather, Francis Cyprien Duval, was also a member of the Canadian Expeditionary Forces.  I had looked for his file before.  A few times.  After all of the “D”s were supposedly indexed.  I never found it.  But when I read Gail’s post I thought I’d give it another try anyway.  Just in case.

And there it was!

In all it’s full color, 66 page glory.  It was very enlightening.  I thought Frank stayed in Canada doing work at home during his service.  He did not.  In fact, he lied about his age so he could join up and head overseas.  He was too old, so he fudged it.  I was so surprised by that.  He claimed to be 44 years and 4 months old when he enlisted.  A mere 8 months younger than the upper age limit of 45.  It didn’t work out for him though.

On page 58 there is this telling note from the doctor:

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“Is 54 years old and looks it.”  Hmmm, did he age considerably during the short time he was enlisted?  I mean visually.  Because just shortly before this note was written he got away with saying he was 44.  😉  There are so many cool details in this file.  It is awesome.

I have no idea why I never found it before.  I don’t know if it was indexed out of order and published well after the other “D” surnames or if I didn’t search carefully.  (That is soooooo not like me, but maybe I was distracted?)  Either way, I am very glad I read Gail’s post and decided to give it another look.

Thank you Gail!

 

So.  What is the lesson in all of this?  There are two.

First, I really love genealogy bloggers!  I think we are the friendliest bunch of bloggers out there.  We share our great finds, our search strategies, awesome websites and collections, cool stories, brick walls, research woes and wonders, and so many other tid-bits.  We all make the genealogy experience SO. MUCH. BETTER. for everyone.

And second, I will never again skip a “see what’s new at such-and-such website” post.  🙂

 

What do you think?  Do you love genealogy bloggers too?  Well if you do, share a little love today and thank your genealogy blogger friends.  Because they are just plain awesome!  ❤