Monday, November 24, 2014

Holiday Special Boot Camp: I'm Attending...Are You?

I'm really looking forward to this holiday weekend! Not only is it a chance to take a break and relax from my job, spend time feasting with family, and count my blessings, but I'll be participating in the Holiday Special Genealogy Boot Camp with Thomas MacEntee and Lisa Alzo as the hosts!

First of all, what is a Genealogy Boot Camp? It's a webinar (online seminar) series at Hack Genealogy where Thomas and Lisa show their audience some pretty amazing tips and tricks to help with those sticky research challenges and brick walls. Over the past year, they've hosted the Mastering Evernote for Genealogy Boot Camp, Blogger Boot Camp, Self-Publishing Boot Camp, Get Your Genealogy Groove Back Boot Camp, and Genealogy Writing Boot Camp. These camps generally involve 3.5 hours of live instruction, numerous handouts and templates, and access to the recordings to review them at later times. Normally, the cost of attending these Boot Camps is $12.95, although you can get an early bird discount of $9.95.

This weekend, however, on Saturday, November 29th, from 4 PM to 7:30 PM, PST, the theme of the Holiday Special Boot Camp will be much like a good old-fashioned variety show. The Holiday Special Boot Camp will cover a variety of topics, some selected by Lisa, some of them by Thomas, and some submitted by the attendees (you can submit your ideas here and be eligible to win a $50 Amazon gift card)! In addition, the cost of the Boot Camp will be Pay What You Want. This means that you decide how much this knowledge is worth to you. You can donate $5, $10, the regular $12.95 or even more. Some people will likely throw in a few dollars just to say thanks for making the Boot Camp concept available. It doesn't matter what you pay or if you pay. Lisa and Thomas just want you to come ready to learn and to have fun. (By the way, if you've never attended a webinar before, check out my easy-to-follow tutorial here.)

I've decided to pay full price for my Boot Camp experience this weekend. I've already registered here (seating is limited!) and I will be paying later this week, after payday. I wanted to highlight to my readers that normally when you register, you pay at that time, as a part of the registration process. With the Holiday Special Boot Camp, however, the way you Pay What You Want is by clicking the Donate button located about a third of the way down the Hack Genealogy post about the Boot Camp.

I encourage you to donate what you believe to be a fair amount for the Boot Camp. As added incentive, Thomas and Lisa have agreed to donate 25% of their proceeds to Preserve the Pensions, the project to digitize all the War of 1812 Veterans Pension records.

Finally, don't forget about the Holiday Special Boot Camp Contest! There are going to be some amazing prizes, totaling $2,500! These include prizes such as genealogy software and's World Deluxe subscription, and range in value from $30 to $300! There are also going to be prizes given out during the Boot Camp.

So join in the fun, learn some great research tips, and help out a great cause! See you then!

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Sunday, November 23, 2014

November 2014 Scanfest

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Sunday, November 16, 2014

Scanfest is Coming!

The November 2014 Scanfest will take place here at AnceStories this coming Sunday, November 23rd, from 11 AM to 2 PM, Pacific Standard Time. It will be held one week early due to the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday weekend.
What is Scanfest? It's a time when geneabloggers, family historians, and family archivists meet online here at this blog to chat while they scan their precious family document and photos. Why? Because, quite honestly, scanning is time-consuming and boring!

Scanfest is a great time to "meet" other genealogists, ask questions about scanning and preservation, and get the kick in the pants we all need on starting those massive scanning projects that just seem too overwhelming to begin.

To get started, you need to know the basics about scanning:

1. Don't use commercial glass cleaners (i.e. Windex) or paper towels to clean your scanner's glass plate. Use a soft, clean cloth, preferably microfiber. If you must use a liquid, use water sprayed directly onto the cloth  and make sure to let the plate dry thoroughly before placing photos or documents on it.

2. Wear cotton gloves (available at many art and/or photography supply shops) when handling photos and old documents.

3. Don't slide the photos around on the glass plate. Place them exactly where you want them. Photos should NEVER be scanned by a scanner that feeds the document through the machine, but ALWAYS on a flat-bed scanner.

4. Set your scanner to scan at no smaller than 300 dpi (dots per inch). Many experts recommend 600 dpi for photographs.

5. Photographs should ALWAYS be scanned and saved as .tif files. Use "Save As" to reformat the .tif file to a .jpg file for restoration and touchups, emailing, or uploading to an online photo album. ALWAYS retain the original scan as a .tif file.

6. Documents can be scanned as .pdf files or .tif files.

7. When you are done scanning your photos, don't put them back in those nasty "magnetic" photo albums. Place them in archival safe albums or boxes found at websites such as Archival Products or Archival Suppliers. Do NOT store any newsprint (articles, obituaries, etc.) with the photos. The acid from the newspaper will eventually destroy the photograph.

Now about the chatting part of Scanfest:

We will be using Blyve, a live blogging platform that you access right here at AnceStories. On Sunday at 11 AM, PST, come right here to AnceStories and you'll see the Blyve live blog/forum in the top post. It's not really a "chat room," per se, it's more like a live forum and anyone visiting this site can read and see what is happening in the forum.

You will not need to download any software.

We look forward to having you participate with us!

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Friday, November 14, 2014

Friday Finds and Follows: 14 November 2014

Articles and posts that caught my eye:

South Hill attic held doctor's century-old papers by Doug Clark at The Spokesman Review

50 Gifts for Genealogists - 2014 by Diane Boumenot at One Rhode Island Family - on my wish list? Numbers 2, 8 (the NGS membership), 11, 12, 16, 27 (both books), 29 (all except the Courthouse book, which I already own), and 33 (a Y-DNA test for my dad or brother; I've done FTDNA's mtDNA and atDNA tests already).

Are You in the “Space of I Don’t Know”? My Success in Confirming Family Stories by Thomas MacEntee at Geneabloggers

A Life in War and Peace by Bob Garrett at the Archives of Michigan Blog - the post recounts the life of John Widdicomb of Grand Rapids, Michigan, who founded the Widdicomb Brothers and Richards Furniture Company, where my great-grandfather, William James Valk, worked for most of his life.

Honoring Those Who Have Served by Juliana Szucs at the Ancestry Blog - this lists links to a series of articles on the Ancestry Blog on various conflicts in American history. Each post lists the collections that Ancestry has for each of these time periods. It's good to revisit the descriptions of these collections, even though I'm a long-time Ancestry subscriber, because it's easy to forget some of the smaller databases that are great military records resources.

Fold3 Offers Free Access to the World War II Collection Until November 30 by Dick Eastman at Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter

Welcome to the Advancing Genealogist! by Debbie Mieszala at the Advancing Genealogist - this new blog corresponds to a new website where, Debbie explains, she hopes to build a resource library: "A place where things are stored in a more permanent way than a mention in a fleeting blog post that you need to hunt around for later. My resource library will focus on topics in line with my specialties, but it will expand beyond those topics over time."

How to Find a Revolutionary War Patriot by Dick Eastman at Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter

Index to the Oakland County Michigan Probate Calendar V. I – 1822-1856 by Leland Meitzler at Genealogy Blog

Copyright On The Internet And Why You Should Care by Dave LeClair at MakeUseOf

A Northwest Pronunciation Guide - not a blog post or article, but a great resource if you have ancestors from Washington, Idaho, Montana, Alaska, Oregon or British Columbia - like most regions, we have some pretty unusual place names!

My New Genealogy Follows at Twitter:

@KateRoemer36, @JimKimpton, @editor1130, @CLPendleton, @HISPAGEN, @Red_Antepasados, @HojasdeBoj, @IASKnetwork, @livehistoryapp, @familytreeres, @AmethystMandy, @theTimeSleuths, @thePaulCarter, @ancestryhour

Genealogy Facebook Pages I've "Liked":
Follow Me

Check out my websites:

Online Historical Directories 

Online Historical Newspapers

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Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Tuesday's Tip: Was Your Ancestor Named for a Politician, Hero, or Famous Leader?

Have you ever stumbled across an unusual name in your family tree...a name that didn't quite "fit in" with the rest of the traditional names? Have you ever had an ancestor named for somebody famous and wondered why?

Last Tuesday, in most places in the United States, was Election Day. Many of us voted for our state representatives to U.S. Congress, our state legislators, and candidates and issues for local elections. In our ancestors' days, it was not unusual for them to name their children after their favorite local or national candidate or a famous leader.

In 1824, the Marquis de Lafayette returned from France at the invitation of President James Monroe to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the United States. Lafayette toured the country for a little over a year, being honored by cheering crowds, celebratory parades, and banquets with aging veterans of the Revolutionary War. Numerous baby boys born during the latter part of 1824 and in 1825 were named after him. Look for name and spelling variations including Lafayette, Fayette, Fay, Marquis, and even the full Marquis de Lafayette as first names in your family from this time period.

Here are some examples from my own family of people named after candidates or leaders:

William Bryan Robbins - my Great-grandfather Robbins was named for William Jennings Bryan, the Democratic candidate for president in 1896, the year Great-grandpa was born. This is significant in my family, because William's father Angelo was the only one in a long line of conservative Robbinses until the present generation who voted Democrat. Both William and Bryan continue to be popular names for boys in the Robbins family.

Woodrow Wilson Kimball - the half-brother of my Great-Great-Grandmother Robbins (Mary May "Lula" Kimball), he was born 5 March 1913, the day after Woodrow Wilson took office as the 28th President of the United States.

Stephen Van Rensselaer York - the man believed to be the brother of my 4th-great-grandfather Jeremiah Franklin York, Stephen was named for Stephen Van Rensselaer II. Van Rensselaer was a prominent man in New York State, who was also a New York state senator at that time, and would continue to have a long public career, including one in the military during the War of 1812.

William Wallace Robbins - there were actually two boys by this name; one the brother of my 3rd-great-grandfather Robbins, and another the brother of my 2nd-great-grandfather Robbins. Neither boy, named after "Braveheart," would live past his youth.

So how can you determine where some of those unusual political names came from? Wikipedia has a list of United States presidential candidates here. You may need to Google your ancestor's state's gubernatorial candidates for the election year closest to when he was born. Reading county histories and biographies will also give you a good idea of who was running for local offices or was a local hero or leader around the time of your ancestor's birth.

Do you have ancestors named for politicians, leaders, or local heroes? Leave your answer in the comments below!

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Friday, November 07, 2014

Friday Finds and Follows: 7 November 2014

Last week, I skipped my Friday Finds and Follows post, as I felt like I hadn't made enough finds and follows to create a full post (I'm combining two weeks' worth in this post). Be looking next Tuesday for the return of Tuesday's Tips with an all-new article!

Note: Three major genealogical subscription websites have free access to all or part of their collections this weekend and/or through Veterans Day:

  • Ancestry has free access to its military collections through Veterans Day, Tuesday, November 11. (details)
  • ArkivDigital has free access to its entire website November 8 and 9 to celebrate Sweden's National Archives Day. (details)
  • FindMyPast has free access to its entire website this weekend. (details)

Articles and posts that caught my eye:

Alaska's Darned October 1867 by The Ancestry Insider - I was born and grew up in Alaska, but had never heard about this!

Tuesday's Tips: The Zen of Dropbox--Obey the Sync! by Thomas MacEntee at Geneabloggers

Some Thoughts on Ancestry Family Trees by TK at Before My Time

My Grandpa's "lost" WWII service medals by Chris at My Genealogical Adventures

Huge New King County, Washington, Database Unveiled by Dick Eastman at Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter

As the sun sets on the feast of All Souls by Lisa/Smallest Leaf at 100 Years in America 

Ancestry Doesn't Have All the Answers by Claudia C. Breland at Claudia C. Breland Genealogy and Online Research

A Fabulously Fantastic Surprise--Iver's Letter by Jana Last at Jana's Genealogy and Family History Blog

It's Not Sharing by Judy G. Russell at The Legal Genealogist

The Best Genealogist Reversed the Wives by Barbara Poole at Life from the Roots

The Confederates Who Moved to Brazil by Dick Eastman at Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter

Want to Find Probate Records Online?--Here's How by Diane Hall at Michigan Family Trails

My New Genealogy Follows at Twitter:

@afamilyresearch, @Delagenealogie, @tataranietos, @WHGnews, @FindingMyPast, @NancyLa82588656, @ScotGenNet, @KathyNevin, @PQPublishing, @astratours, @UKCountertenor, @AmyBrawley, @Originsnetuk, @LegacyKeeper, @distant_kin, @Genealogist18, @CoolGenealogy, @irishmadegifts, @BordersAncestry

Genealogy Facebook Pages I've "Liked":

Follow Me

Check out my websites:

Online Historical Directories 

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Thursday, October 30, 2014

From the Archives: 29 East LaCrosse - Haunted or Not?

"From the Archives" highlights favorite or popular blog posts from this blog's past from 2006 to the present. This particular post features a haunting tale, appropriate for Halloween. It was originally published Sunday, October 14, 2007.

Friday, October 12th, marked the eleven-year anniversary of the day we signed on our home at 29 East LaCrosse. Built in 1908 (some documents say 1907), it is certainly by no means old by East Coast or European standards, but here in what was once a Wild West city where frontier soldiers, Idaho miners, and Northeastern Washington lumberjacks would freely spend their hard-earned cash, the fact that it's still standing and habitable says a lot. Add to that the discovery while researching our home's history that it has been a rental for much of its structural life, along with the fact that it bumps up against a commercial zone, and it's doubly amazing that it hasn't been razed by now. Built on what was once the rural edge of town with no houses on the lots behind it, it now sits squarely in a north central neighborhood, several miles from the the city limits.

Its history as a rental becomes all too apparent whenever we start a remodeling job (which has seemed continuous over these past eleven years!). Shoddy worksmanship, dangerous wiring, and poor construction have all been uncovered, replaced, and redone. More than once, we've scratched our heads and wondered aloud, "What were they thinking?" There are days (usually in the winter) when I feel the walls close in on me and deeply feel the cramped living arrangements and lack of privacy in this seven-room residence. But most of the time, even while wishing it were bigger, I love this house! Five years ago--our sixth anniversary at this address--it became the home I had lived in the longest during my then-35 years on this planet. That realization felt odd to me, since my years in my childhood homes felt longer than the time I've spent here. Still, there are many memories, like ghosts, that flit around me within these walls. In the early mornings and late at night, the floors creak beneath my feet as I walk from room to room. The ladderback doors and old frame windows give a character to the place as I consider how those before us spent their days and nights in this abode. There were many who lived here; more, I'm sure, than the city directories will ever reveal, as renters moved in and out between the dates of publication.

Eight years ago, a reporter from the local paper knocked on our front door and said he was doing a human-interest story for Hallowe'en. Following up on archived stories from The Spokesman-Review, he was visiting the current residents of homes that had once been reported as being haunted. Intrigued, we invited him in as he handed us an undated clipping from the Depression years about two young women who claimed to have experienced a ghost in what was now our home. Had we ever heard this story, he asked us. Had we ever seen a ghost or heard anything that was unexplainable? No, we replied, and no, again. Nevertheless, he interviewed us and wrote up a nice piece for the Entertainment section of the paper. In reading the old clipping further, we realized that the young women had fallen behind in their rent, and had concocted the story to avoid paying their bill once they had moved out. So our insistence that our house was not haunted was justified...or was it?

Three years ago, we had to put our beloved apricot tabby, Sammy, to sleep after she became fatally ill. Sammy had loved our children with a protective fierceness rivaling that of a dog. Every night, she would cuddle up with Matt at the beginning of the evening, both of them falling asleep. In the middle of the night, she would pad quietly into Missy's room and spend the rest of the early morning hours with her there. It was a ritual; I'd tuck Matt and Sammy in every night, and wake Missy and Sammy together every morning. Never allowed in the adults' bedroom, she nonetheless would jump up on our bed and nuzzle me awake every time one of the kids was ill in the middle of the night. Although by the time Sammy died we had acquired Tessa, our current feline companion, her loss was devastating to us all. We brought her home in a cardboard box, which my [ex-] husband buried deeply between our shed and the alley, filling the hole with large rocks and earth so that it could not be dug up by unattended dogs.

Several months ago, my son mentioned that he still sees Sammy. At nearly 14, he loves math and science, has an ironic sense of humor, and can out-argue an attorney. I mention this because he's the least likely of any of us to be whimsical, a dreamer, a believer in fantasies. But he's seen her, in our yard, on the couch, in his bedroom. About once a month, in the corner of his eye, he'll see her there, and when he turns to look directly at her, she's gone. A ghost, an angel, a whisper of a memory...whatever she is, she's welcome to stay in this very small, somewhat old, creaky-floored house.

This post was [originally] written for the 34th Edition of the Carnival of Genealogy, "Halloween and the Supernatural!"

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