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

ELLIS, Margaret playing her violin - smaller for FT

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 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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Memorial Day 2017

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Memorial Day 2017 with my family was really wonderful.

 

Part One:

 

While driving north to begin our adventures, we talked about the origins of Memorial Day, our cousin James Boles and his life and sacrifice, and where we were headed.

Part Two:

 

A picnic lunch with my 4th great grandmother, Maria Amanda Dolby Skeen at Lehi Pioneer Cemetery.  This sweet little cemetery is just a grassy park surrounded by trees and a flowing irrigation ditch.  There is only one marker sharing the history of the cemetery.  We know that Maria is buried there.  She was the mother of 9 children, 4 who pre-deceased her.  She died in 1854 at the age of 36, leaving her husband with 5 young children.  Maria and her family were Mormon Pioneers who experienced extreme persecution and were driven from one place to the next, finally traveling with the saints to what is now known as Utah.  A few short years after their arrival, Maria passed away.

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Part Three:

 

A few hours in the American Fork Cemetery.  We had a list of ten of my husband’s ancestors to look for, and 16 little star shaped flags to post on any veteran’s graves that had no decorations.  This year I couldn’t find actual flags so I had to make do with my Dollar Store find.

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This little darlin’ was so fascinated by everything about the cemetery.  He wanted to know all about every headstone he came upon.  He was searching for “soldier headstones” and “B-E-C-K”.

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He was so happy when he found his first “B-E-C-K” headstone.  Of course I missed his huge smile and caught his explanation instead.  😉

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Jacob S and Elizabeth H Beck, my husband’s 2nd great grandparents

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With my camera in hand, I obviously had to photograph any headstone that caught my eye.  I have a bundle to add to findagrave.

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It was a lovely cemetery visit, to a beautiful cemetery, in a fantastic setting, on a perfect day.

Part Four:

 

We made some new family memories exploring the beautiful Cascade Springs.

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Even the drive home was picturesque.  The summit took us to an elevation of 8060!

It was a Memorial Day to remember.

 

Happy Wednesday!  I hope you preserve a special memory today.

 

 

ps – Why do 15/almost 16 year olds insist on being ridiculous in photos?  Sigh.  My 19 year old recently told me I need to lecture his teenage brother and tell him to just smile for photos.  Haha, he was the scowler/face maker not so long ago.  A normal phase I suppose…

 


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Creating Free, Beautiful Charts on TreeSeek

Adeline Perrault, 5.13.2017 fanchart

I love beautiful, informative charts.  I love them even more when they are free!  That lovely fan chart up there was created for free at TreeSeek.com, using information from FamilySearch.org.

In the center of that chart is Adeline Perrault, my 4th great grandmother straight up my maternal line.  I wanted to look at my tree based on only her ancestry to see where my holes are and make some decisions about where I may choose to research next.

Now, if you are thinking to yourself that you don’t use FamilySearch so creating that lovely chart is not an option for you, guess what?  TreeSeek has you covered.  You can create a chart from a gedcom file.  If you don’t use a genealogy software program, but you do use an online tree service such as the one found at Ancestry.com, you can download a gedcom file of your tree to use on TreeSeek.

Let’s take a quick tour of TreeSeek and the chart options you have.  When you go to TreeSeek.com you will see a landing page like this:

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Notice that in the center gray box you have two options: “Login now to create your chart” and “New! We now support creating charts with a GEDCOM file.  Try now.”  The login option will take you to a FamilySearch sign-in page.

Before we log-in, I want to point out that if you scroll down you will see some of the chart options available:

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After clicking the log-in option I am taken to a FamilySearch sign-in page.  If you are not a FamilySearch user, you will need to upload a gedcom file, your chart choices will be limited, but that beautiful 9 generation fan chart is available to you.

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After logging in I am given some quick options.  Under “Starting Person”, there is a drop-down menu that currently has my name, Amberly Beck, showing.  The other options I have automatically are: my husband, children, and parents.  I can also choose anyone I like based on their 7 character PID number in FamilySearch.  I simply type that PID number into the empty box to the right of my name.  After selecting the start person, I choose my chart.

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Here is the complete list of chart types to choose from:

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I can name my chart if I like and select whether I want to include the siblings of the start person on the chart.  Once I have made my selections, I click the green “Create Chart” button.

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Next, I will see this message as the chart is being created.

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Once the chart is complete it appears in a window like this:

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I can click the green “Download Chart” button to download this chart as a pdf.  Once I have the file, I can save it as a jpeg if I like.

If you are not a FamilySearch user, you will click on the “New! We now support creating charts with a GEDCOM file.  Try now.” button.

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That will take you to this page:

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You will click the white “Choose File” button and then select your gedcom file from your computer.  After your file has uploaded, you will see this:

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In the dropdown menu you will see a list of people in your gedcom file.  They are organized generationally starting with you.  I chose my great grandfather and a 9 Gen Fan, and then clicked “Create Chart”.

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Again, my chart shows up and I have the option to download the pdf file of the chart.

Here are a few other cool charts I was able to make.  These options are only available to FamilySearch users at present.

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Mixed first names in a name cloud from FamilyTree on FamilySearch, using me as the starting person.  This means this comes from my portion of the tree on FamilySearch.  Remember, no one has their own tree on FamilySearch.female first names cloud

Female first names in a name cloud.

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Male first names in a name cloud.

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Surnames in a name cloud.

5 Generation Photo Family Chart

I think this chart is my favorite of all.  It uses the profile photos I have selected for each person on FamilySearch.  My parents are in the center with my brother and I beneath.  I removed the names of anyone who is living, but those are also on the chart.  I want to go in and update each person with the best photo of I have and create this chart again and frame it.  It’s such a lovely visual for my children to really get to know our family tree.  I also need to either remove my brother or add my other siblings.  😉

One last note, these charts print up beautifully in very large sizes.  They can be printed at any copy store.  If you live near BYU, the BYU Family History Library has a wonderful fan chart printing service available for anyone to use.  You can print a full color 24×18 poster print for $3.50 or a full color 24×36 poster print for $7.00.  They are printed on a high quality, thick paper.

 

Have you used TreeSeek to create any charts?  Do you have another favorite service for creating charts?

 

Happy Wednesday, I hope you make a fantastic genealogy discovery today!

 

 


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Photograph Showcase: A Marine

PETERSON, Ronald Skeen in marine uniform - smaller for FT

That handsome Marine is my Grandpa.  As a young girl I knew that my Grandpa had been a Marine but I didn’t understand what that meant.  I had no context for war, military service, and especially the draft.  Grandpa wasn’t drafted, but he knew he would be.  He chose to enlist.  He wanted to live.  He saw his friends being drafted into the army and so many never came home.  He intended to enlist in the Navy but ended up in the Marine Corps.

As a girl with no understanding of my Grandpa’s service or what the war years were like, I learned to play The Marines’ Hymn on the piano.  I remember playing it at an extended family Christmas party.  My Grandparents were so proud, and emotional.  That didn’t really make sense to me then.  I didn’t even play it all that well.  😉  But now, I think I’m beginning to understand.  I’m proud of my Grandparents’ sacrifice in an incredibly challenging time in history.  I love my Marine Grandpa.


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Photograph Showcase: Naomi as a Young Mother

PETERSON, Naomi Skeen, Marilyn, and Ronald, spring 1929

Naomi Skeen Peterson with her oldest two children, Janice in her arms, and Ronald.  Handwriting of Mary Margaret Ellis Peterson.  Spring 1929

This photo comes from my Grandmother’s boxes.  Naomi was her mother-in-law and my great grandmother.  Ronald is my Grandpa.  Janice is his younger sister who was born in December of 1928.  Based on her age I think this photo was taken in the late Spring, but I’m confused by the leaves on the ground.  Maybe they had a short fall.  The kind where you haven’t gotten all of the leaves raked up before the snow falls.  This has happened to us here in Utah – and this photo was taken in Utah as well.

What do you think?  Spring?

 

PS – I had a surprise trip come up to hang out with my Dad.  I have so much to say about Rosey Hyde and the gang but I’m a bit out of commission for now.  We’ll see if I get some blogging time while I’m here.  And if not, well, I will happily enjoy my family time amongst the living.  🙂