13 December 2011

I've got a hunch...

Do you trust your intuition when it comes to genealogy? I always act on it. Oh, indeed, there are times when I get unexpected results... lots of times actually. But often enough, the result is a happy one. Like this morning.

I spend the first hour of my day reading through the multitude of blogs that I follow. After I read through the bevy of blogs delivered to my iPad (and laughed, empathized, wondered and sometimes drooled), I sat for a moment and asked myself - what now? I don't know - maybe it was the quiet of the moment, or possibly just the lack of momentum, that made me pause over the google books app icon... and finally decide to tap it to see what I am currently reading. [Sadly, yes, it has been that long].

The History of Queens County, NS.

Oh, yes, I remember now... another tick in the PRO column for Google (who has been rapidly getting more ticks in the other column lately). I don't know if I am just fortunate that there is a lot of reading material available for the particular spot my family lived in for five generations, or what; however, there is an abundance of really good reading material! Obscure stuff  too! Belcher's Almanac? Can you believe that?

Back to Queens County, Nova Scotia.  It had been a while since I was last reading said book, so I went back to the preface and started again. Basically, how the New Englanders came to NS to fill in the void left by the Acadians, who were tossed out by the British.  [I know, but let's just leave politics out of this particular discussion].

In 1760, roughly 60 men and women from New England petitioned the government to set up a township on the southern shore of Nova Scotia that would eventually come to be called Liverpool. In 1764 there were 150 persons listed who were allotted land plots, and who became proprietors of the township. Was I surprised to find two direct relatives? You bet I was! William K. Cahoone and Lemuel Drew. The rest of the list was comprised of familiar names related to the Mayflower and early settlements in New England. And relatives of relatives!

When I started out looking into my family's past, I was a collector more than a researcher. These days I am more of a researcher than a collector.  I am working now on when a certain Samuel Mack (4x great grandfather) bought a certain sawmill in Port Metway, Queens County. I am collaborating with two fellows from Canada, that I met through my research project a couple of years ago. We each have our own perspective, but in working together we gain in knowledge of the times and events in our ancestors lives. I happen to enjoy spending hours in the NEHGS library in Boston looking for deeds (and finding them) and subsequently transcribing them. When I forwarded the documents to my collaborators, we were able to develop a clearer idea of how the mill passed from hand to hand, often back and forth, over the years. This is the depth and breadth of research that really makes me happy, and I really enjoy working with my distant relatives!

Of course, there is so much more to be discovered, or not be discovered. For instance, we may never really know for sure that Dr. Thomas Moseley -one of eight men who sold the mill to Samuel - actually knew Samuel back in East Haddam, CT before the mill transaction in Nova Scotia came about. But it is surely likely  that they did. I'm currently working on the deeds that I collected on a trip this past summer in East Haddam. I sure could use some old maps though! Maybe they were connected through Samuel's wife, Lydia Brainerd Mack who died around the time Samuel picked up and moved to NS, leaving his young daughters to be raised with Lydia's family. Maybe not. I sure would like to know. In fact,  I'd be happy to find out when Lydia died, and where she is buried!

One other benefit from reading old deeds - increased vocabulary! Enfeoffed and messuaged are the latest gems added to my repretoire. Thank goodness for the internet! Although, I did enjoy spending a lot of time with the HUGE Mirriam Webster dictionary that we had in our house when I was a kid, there is nothing like typing a word in Google search and getting many results, including passages in a book printed in the 1800's using the word you are trying to get a definition for.

Happiness is a tool that works!

04 October 2011

Now, this is a great idea!

In the past year I have learned that quite a few of my ancestors came from an area of Lunenburg, Nova Scotia called Petite Riviere. That would be the infamous Drew family (only because they are causing me all kinds of grief sorting them out) and the Sponagle family. And countless others.

Countless others - really?

Well, every time I add a wife or husband to the family, yes, I add -sometimes only mentally - their families. (I don't want things to get out of hand, you know). I wonder how many people each of us is truly related to. Maybe I don't want to really know - my head might explode. So, yes - countless others.

 I made a wonderful discovery a few weeks ago about Petite Riviere - it has a Facebook page! I cannot express exactly how I feel looking at all the photos posted there, and the comments from some of the 1822 friends of the Facebook page. Wonder, gratitude, connection, completeness, universality, family... the list is long, and grows with time.

Paul Harmon started the page in order to share his extensive collection of photographs of Petite Riviere and neighboring towns. I wonder if he realizes just how incredibly important this page is to me? While I haven't seen old pictures of my family members (that I am aware of) the possibility remains. It is fun to read the comments and see the surnames that I recognize from pages of early Nova Scotia census reports.

A trip to Petite Riviere has made it's way to the top of vacation destinations for next year!

04 September 2011

Favorite breakfast reading?

A REPORT of the Record Commissioners of the City of Boston containing the Selectmen's Minutes from 1754 through 1763 printed in Boston by Rockwell and Churchill, City Printers, No 39 Arch Street. 1887. 
Riveting. If you are into that sort of thing.
I have been reading the minutes because I am searching for information regarding my ancestors in Boston. I'm looking for Stoddards (haven't found any mention so far) and Deans (I have).
Excerpt from the minutes- 1761 page 163.
" Capt. James Dean of Schooner Endeavor belonging to Casco Bay was sent for, and Bonds demanded of him to indemnifie the Town from any Charge that may arise on Account of Margaret Hominia, brought by him into this Town from Hallifax."
I'm not sure what that is all about, but I think that is my relative. I do have a James Dean, brother to my known Ephraim Dean in my family tree...they were sons of Thomas and Lydia Dean. Ephraim was born in Barnstable, MA and James was born Scarborough, ME. Ephraim, James and their brother William were all Captains of ships, sailing between Boston and Nova Scotia or Newfoundland. I need to do some more sleuthing to fill in some rather large gaps, but I do think this is "my" James Dean. William Dean lived in Boston on Milk Street with his wife Mary (Snow). Wish I could find some more references to William...
Sometimes the quiet ones slip through the cracks of time. It's a quandry... do I wish my relatives were more famous - or infamous - that they would be mentioned more often? Every time I see their name in print I feel that they are reaching out to me in an enticing way ... follow this clue and find out who I am.
More from the City of Boston Selectmen's minutes next time.

10 August 2011

Are you a jenny-alogist?

In searching through early volumes of The American Genealogist for a certain Hugh Cole, I ran across this small article placed at the end of the article I was reading. It made me smile. A lot.

"Jenny-alogy vs Jeanie-alogy
The sacred word is often mouthed in our hearing, even by erudite precisionists, as if the first syllable were rhymed with hygiene.  A pedantic etymologist may rightly object that the first syllable is derived from the Greek word γένος (genos), the first vowel being epsilon, invariably short, having a long equivalent which is eta (ή), invariably long. This mispronunciation may derive from the fact that there seems to be in English a rule that a short vowel followed by a single consonant and e is lengthened, e.g. lane, gene, thine, shone, dune, as against man, went, thin, along, dun. To explain an error, however, is not to condone it, and the error has not even been canonized by Webster's Collegiate, 7th edition, as a permitted,  though not preferred alternative. The word is commonly misspelled by the careless as geneology by mistaken analogy with biology, physiology and the like. The vowel before -log- is controlled by the preceding syllable, not the following. That is why it is genealogy, not geneology."
                                                                                                --G. E. McC.  (1)

Is it important, or not? 

Do you feel strange, in a world-shifting-sort-of-way, when you use a new technology to produce an old technology result? Isn't genealogy a lot like that? Digital images vs. hand copying documents, never mind photocopies and scans... some times I get a slightly woozy feeling that brings me to a complete halt. I have to center for a while until I can shake off the feeling and get back to work.

You too?

(1)The American Genealogist. New Haven, CT: D. L. Jacobus, c1937-. (Online database. AmericanAncestors.org. New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2009.) Vol. 50 p. 145

I also give credit to Google Translate for the help in getting Greek letters in this piece, but I don't know how to cite that exactly.... so..... thanks Google!

30 June 2011

A different sort of genealogical search

Back in the latter days of winter we purchased a boat. I know - strange timing, right?

My husband had his eye on this boat for a number of years. It was resting on a trailer in the parking lot of a winter/summer sports shop, under wraps. All we really knew about the boat is that it was the right size, the right shape and it was a wooden boat that seemed to resemble the boat we really wanted - a Whitehall rowing boat.

Unfortunately, it wasn't for sale.

Until unforeseen circumstances came up prompting the aging owner to close up shop and finally retire from the business he had grown and loved. I went into the shop to find some cross-country ski socks, and maybe find a pair of skis, on sale. I didn't find either, but when the sales clerk said was there anything he could help with, I half-jokingly said - well, is the boat for sale? He said that it wasn't, but on a hunch, he said - wait a minute, let me speak with the owner...

To cut the story short, the boat is in our backyard now.

The boat... ca. 1910 fantail launch?

We don't know exactly what kind of boat it is. We suspect it might be a fantail launch, built in the early 1910's. It has a Massachusetts boat registration numbers on the hull. No motor, but we can see where there was one - possibly a diesel engine. It came with an "antique" fuel can, that sadly has already been recycled.

From the information we received from the former owner, we know he got it from a man in Massachusetts - and his intention was to restore it to its original state. An exhausting (yes it is exhausting to search on an unknown topic in the beginning) search on the internet actually gave us a few hints at identifying the boat. We found a few images that could be in the same boat family... from a website from the Finger Lakes Antique and Classic Boat Society...http://www.flc-acbs.org/. Not an exact match, but it's a start.

We went to the Wooden Boat Show in Mystic Connecticut, hosted by the Mystic Seaport Museum, http://www.mysticseaport.org, last weekend, hoping to get more information on identifying and restoring the boat. Wow! Gorgeous boats everywhere... from the humble dory to the magnificent Charles W. Morgan (now in restoration process). The wonderful folks from Wooden Boat Magazine,   http://www.woodenboat.com/,  really know how to put on a show! Luckily, for all of us, the rain held and we enjoyed a lovely weekend at the shore. We learned about lofting, spiling and caulking wooden boats; cruised down to the ocean and back aboard the Sabino; rowed around the harbor a little; and we met a lot of nice boat people along the way.

The highlight for us was a treasure hunt through the closed portion of the museum that was opened to the public for two hours on two days of the show. We were told by some antique boat restorers that there might be a fantail launch in the storage area... and I believe we found it! All of the boats are in their original condition and all have been donated to the museum. And they are stacked from floor to ceiling with just enough space to squeeze through. Some of the boats have been measured and have plans made of them available for purchase. All of them could be if one were motivated to initiate the process, and pay to have it done. The fantail launch was not one that had been slated for plan making. Darn.

So our search continues... every now and then we start a new search on the computer, and each time we get new information. I have found back issues of Rudder Magazine on Google Books with articles referring to the fantail launch. I have to say - I love Google books - and I have quite a collection of old books that offer a lot of good reading on various subjects - mostly historical references - Court Records of early Connecticut,  History of Everett, Massachusetts. You really ought to take a look if you haven't already.

And since there is no harm in asking -

Can you identify this boat?

15 June 2011

You never know what you will find...until you look.

I recently found a little box of stationery that my mother kept in her desk. I have always liked the design of the stationery, but I was surprised to find what was inside - a small collection of photographs of a trip taken by my mother Marcia of my grandmother Mildred and a mystery woman - Aunt Margaret. I decided to do a little sleuthing based on the few (usually one or two) words written on the back of the photos, and came up with a remarkable amount of information and a plausible description of their journey.

Well, it wasn't that hard, it turns out. Thanks to Google, Wikipedia, Ancestry.com, The Cunard White Star Line and all the record keepers from New York to Southampton, England, and - of course - my grandmother and mother for jotting down at least a word or two on the reverse of the photographs, I have a pretty good idea of what the trip was like...


It is an interesting time to take a trip abroad for the women.

The Spanish Civil war is in its penultimate year; concentration camps are being built in Austria; Czechoslovakia mobilizes armed forces along the German border; and France has a new prime minister.

The first step was to log onto Ancestry.com and see if there were any passenger records for Mildred and Marcia. Indeed there were... UK Incoming Passenger Lists 1878-1960 (for the departure date), and New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1957 for the return date). The actual passenger list has entries for Mildred Stoddard and Marcia Stoddard, birthplace and what their intended address is. Once I discovered that Aunt Margaret (Thanks Ann!) might be Margaret Russell, I poured over the passenger list again and found her listed with her husband Frederick.

Mildred Dikeman Stoddard, with her youngest child Marcia, now twenty, embarked on a month's tour of England and Scotland in the company of Margaret Russell, Mildred's close friend. Clifford Stoddard, is busy with his law practice and the boys are off on their own pursuits now, so the women will travel on their own. Margaret's husband, Frederick, also a lawyer, who accompanied them on the voyage, stayed in London while the women went on tour.

The traveling companions arrive in Southampton, England on July 3, 1938 disembarking from the Georgic of the Cunard White Star Line,  http://www.cunard.com/About-Cunard-Line/Cunard-Heritage/The-Fleet/Georgic/.

The image of the RMS Georgic was found on the Google images site. 

Unfortunately I don't know in what order the following landmarks were visited, as no known travel diary was left behind. The handful of photographs do leave clues as to where the group went, and what they experienced. I placed the photographs in order of how I would have made the trip, judging by the means (car and driver) and the geography.

The first stop is at the hotel in London, at 123 Pall Mall, W1. I really don't think they stayed at this particular facility:   http://www.iod.com/home/premises/london---pall-mall/ - but one that would be suitable for two women traveling on their own. The Russells stayed at a different hotel in London upon arriving in England, according to the passenger lists.

Setting out on their journey, the trio is driven out to visit Stonehenge, in Salisbury.  


Traveling in 1938 style. No timetables, 
no worries about driving on the wrong side of the road; 
someone to carry the bags. Sigh - the good old days

Mildred D. Stoddard sitting on a rock at Stonehenge.

You can't get this close to Stonehenge anymore. I last visited Stonehenge in 1970's and was saddened to see that it was carefully roped off, preventing visitors from recreating this particular photo opportunity. The standing stones are HUGE, and it is worth the trip to see them - but I don't think the effect is the same when viewed from afar, rather than walking around and touching the stones that hold the secrets of its creators. 

Ely, Cambridgeshire, England. The driver and Aunt Margaret.

Mildred D. Stoddard with Ely Cathedral in the background.

I don't know how much personal planning went into the trip to England and Scotland. Had Mildred always wanted to see the cathedral of Ely? Or was this just one of many popular tourist destinations they were taken to? That Marcia took this photo of her mother without much of the cathedral showing, made me think that perhaps Marcia wasn't "into" sightseeing as much as her mother was. Cute hat by the way. http://www.elycathedral.org/

Hikers trekking the Honister Pass in the English Lake District
I think this must have intrigued and impressed Marcia. Throughout her life, Mom walked several miles every day for as long as she was able to. She delighted in spotting and identifying wild flowers and local birds, often painting the former and photographing the latter. http://www.visitcumbria.com/cm/honister-pass.htm

Mother and Aunt Margaret walking below the wall.

Two mysteries here. Who the heck is Aunt Margaret? And what wall? It took several emails to my cousins, and a careful search of all the passengers aboard the Georgic to discover "Aunt" Margaret's identity. Though I don't have complete confirmation, I'm going with  Margaret Russell who was a close friend, close enough that Marcia called her "aunt", she quite possibly married into the Russell family. The wall, frankly was easier to identify - once I interpreted the scribble as Linlithgow, http://www.marie-stuart.co.uk/Castles/Linlithgow.htm the birthplace of Mary Queen of Scots.

Lochinvar Hotel, ca. 1938
The hotel has not changed all that much... it is located in St. Johns town of Dalry, Castle Douglas, Dumfries and Galloway, DG7 3UP Scotland about 85 miles south of Glasgow.  It is reported to be an excellent stop while cycling the western route from Land's End to John O'Groats and is close to a national forest a favorite place for hikers.  http://www.lochinvarhotel.co.uk/index.htm

Mildred standing outside Robert Burns' cottage, 
Murdoch's Lane, Alloway, Ayrshire, Scotland

Of a' the airts the wind can blaw,

I dearly like the west,

For there the bonnie lassie lives,

The lassie I lo'e best:

There wild woods grow, and rivers row,

And monie a hill between;

But day and night may fancy's flight

Is ever wi' my Jean.

I see her in the dewy flowers,

I see her sweet and fair:

I hear her in the tunefu' birds,

I hear her charm the air:

There's not a bonnie flower that springs

By fountain, shaw, or green;

There's not a bonnie bird that sings,

But minds me o' my Jean.

                                                                                                         Robert Burns

You may remember Auld Lang Syne better though...  http://www.ayrshire-arran.com/ttsad/burns/

The gardens at Robert Burns' Cottage.

Chester, England

Located about twenty miles south of Liverpool. I think this must be near the end of the trip... it's a rather ordinary photograph, of a delivery wagon outside an ale house. A sign of sightseeing fatigue? Marcia missing the countryside at home? Where are the photographs of the Cathedral, the River Dee, Chester Castle - or the gorgeous buildings at Eastgate, Northgate or Westgate? http://www.chesterwalls.info/index.html

Mildred and Marcia returned to New York on board the Queen Mary on the 22nd of August. I don't remember Mom saying she sailed on the Queen Mary... that must have been quite an experience! The Queen Mary had been completed in 1936, and was built for speed. A voyage in 1938 was recorded to be the fastest transatlantic crossing yet. The ship made its last commercial voyage in 1940 and went on to carry troops off to war. http://www.cunard.com/About-Cunard-Line/Cunard-Heritage/The-Fleet/Queen-Mary/

It may not have happened quite this way, but the essence of the trip is here. I wish I had been with them.

14 June 2011

Arrrrgh! It's coming up soon...

If you always wanted to surround yourself in 18th century Liverpool, Nova Scotia, but you don't want to spend a lot of time immersed in the Diaries of Simeon Perkins... well, there's an app for that.

No, not really.

But there is a really fun event in Liverpool, NS at the end of June that celebrates the early privateer era that the town is known for: http://www.privateerdays.ca/  This year it will be held from June 30th to July 3rd. The photos below are from a 1990 trip to NS to discover our roots and celebrate Pop's 80th birthday.

Wedding performed during Privateer Days celebration.

Beautiful house in Liverpool

Privateer Days reenactment participants - the Militia

Halls Harbor on the North Shore

My nephew standing on a rock in the river - Mill Village, NS -
the Mack family lived here - Samuel owned a lumber mill

South Shore of Nova Scotia - maybe Port Medway, maybe not.

Oh, and the best souvenir... (aside from the photos and memories of our trip of course)

Samuel Mack 1736-1783, Port Medway, NS
Oldest gravestone in Old Port Medway Cemetery

There should be an app for it though. See you there?

C'mon everybody say it with feeling...


26 May 2011

I'm amazed!

There are people in nine countries outside the US reading - or maybe just peeking at - my blog.

It does give one a sense of power.

And responsibility.

And writer's block.

LOL, maybe I should ignore my stats from now on...


23 May 2011

An Assortment of Macks

Due largely to the generosity of wonderful folks out there who post pictures of their relatives online - wait - they are our relatives too! - I am pleased to show you:

Norman Clifford Luther and Richard Burton Mack (in wagon)
 in 1925, Everett or Melrose, MA. Norman is the son of Jessie Mack, 
Harold's younger sister, and Carl Vinton Luther 
(from Nancy C. Hall)

Jessie Caroline (Mack) Luther
(from Nancy C. Hall)

Ethel Marie (Mack) (Sparks) (Cook) Headley - Harold's older sister
(from Nancy C. Hall)

Luthers and Macks on Christmas Day, 1927, in what Jessie called "ice cream clothes":

Left to right, Aubrey Brenton Mack (always called AB); John A. Cook, the Providence whaling ship captain; Arthur Burton Mack, AB's son; Carl Vinton Luther; Dorothy Carolyn Luther, Carl's daughter; Ethel Marie Mack Sparks Cook, who married a third time, after Capt. Cook's death to a Mr. Headley; Ethel S. Walsh Mack, AB's wife; Norman Clifford Luther, Carl's son.  
Photo taken by Jessie Caroline Mack Luther.

(from Nancy C. Hall)

Burton Augustus Mack
(from Nancy C. Hall)

Emma Georgina Young
aka BamBam - GiGi's mother and wife to James Brinton Johnstone;
with two young boys
(courtesy of Barb75771 on Ancestry.com)

and just for giggles, because she isn't directly related,

Lucy Mack Smith
daughter of Solomon and Lydia (Gates) Mack, from Gilsum, NH;
older brother of our Samuel Mack. Lucy married Joseph Smith, 
son of Aseal and Mary Smith of  Topsham, MA. 
Lucy eventually gave birth to Joseph Smith the Mormon Prophet.
(Photo from Nancy C. Hall)

It's kind of wild when you think about it... I was born in Connecticut and have ended up living in New Hampshire, not too far from Gilsum. Strange, huh?

21 May 2011

A love affair...

Ever since the first time in the basement... fumbling around in the dark... excited whispers... how will we know if we are doing it right? 

(sorry to let you down so completely...)

It is me, and I have a love affair with photography. My dad and I learned how to develop film and print our own photographs in our basement in Connecticut- probably around 1965. We didn't have a darkroom per se, we shut off all the lights and hey presto! we had a dark room. I don't think there are many things more magical than seeing a photograph develop on a very wet piece of paper in the (almost) complete dark. Even when using a proper safelight to see just enough to do the work without ruining the photographic paper, it is hard to tell how well you are developing a photograph until you are able to turn the lights on, to get a good look at the end product. A lot of trial and error; but we did find the right times and temperatures eventually. I did go on after high school and study photography in college. And even owned a photo lab for ten years... until I saw the digital writing on the wall. But I will never forget standing in the darkroom making darkroom magic with my dad.

Nowadays I surf the web to see if I can find photographs of people I know... like my Uncle Russ:

Russell B. Stoddard
member of The Gunnery School Football team ca. 1930

The Gunnery School 1930 Football Team

I found them by Googling 'old photographs' and then following some links... I eventually found the photos on a website called FamilyOldPhotos.com. You can search their database by key words.

Amongst my cache of family photographs is this lovely woman... she is not related to us, but was a friend of the Stoddard Family. My mother remembered her. There is something very intriguing about her...

Verturia Platt - a friend of the Stoddard family in New Haven, CT

One of my favorite pastimes is to wander around antique stores... and naturally, I gravitate to any box that holds old photos. I can't really express how I feel when I find a big old box of photos, presumably of loved ones. What makes a person throw out a box of photographs of their family members? I can understand why some folks (and I have to include myself) don't write down who is in the photograph... it takes so much time, you know? Have to have the right pencil, can't be in ink....

So, if I had all the spare change in the world, and the time to go round them all up, I would rescue all the poor souls who are sitting around in boxes, biding their time with all the other treasures in antique shops. 

I did rescue the following folks. I perused the box, but these said please take me home with you! And so I did.


This little charmer is is Margurite Allen at about 10 mos - the photo was taken after she cut her front hair. It says so on the back of the photo... the photo was taken in Rochester, NH.

I was giggling pretty hard when I read that.... she looks like a handful to me!

This is Nellie Simpson. That's all I know about him... Nelson, I suppose. I might look him up in the census records of Boston someday... he has a sort of presence for a young man, doesn't he?

This young lady is not favored with a name on the reverse. It's too bad, she is quite striking I think...

She could even send her photo as a post card... how cool is that?

Then there is Cousin Will... not my cousin, but someone's cousin Will.

The note on the back says " With best regards from Cousin Will' and 97 on the left margin. The photograph was taken at 786 Fifth Ave, in New York, by MRobinson. 

The final photograph is one that I treasure... I would really like to know this lady...

I love that she has an all out smile on her face. 

So, there we are. 

Oh, and if you are related to one of these fine folks, let me know... and if you find one of my relatives in a box of photographs, I would be your BFF!

08 May 2011

This is getting ridiculous!

I keep starting new posts and then they get terribly bogged down with details. Henceforth, I abandon the draft and attempt a new one, keeping the old original in case I need it for another time.

This is turning into a nightmare of partially written blogstubs.

I'm beginning to understand that there is no easy way to tell a genealogical story in small, intelligent and interesting bits.  It is certainly no wonder family genealogy books are so huge - and sometimes just dreadful to read. I don't want my blog to turn into one of those, and I am equally sure that you don't want it to either!

Genealogy would be so easy if all we had to do is collect names and dates! Alas, to my own detriment, I'm not satisfied with that. I want to know what it was like for my ancestors back in one of those "dates". Who were these folks; what were they thinking when they moved from point A to point B; what did they do for a living and who were their friends...were they bad children or good parents? Sigh.... I will never know for sure, but I am convinced that they shared some of the same experiences that I have had, in one way or another.

As a result of pondering these and many other questions, and spending time reading and researching the places and histories of the time periods of my ancestors, I have accumulated a lot of random bits and pieces of information about quite a number of people - all related more or less.

I can't seem to keep it organized though.

When I started doing genealogy, I had two manilla folders; one for my mother's side of the family, and one for my father's side. Well, I still have the folders, each with random papers including family trees and genealogies that were handed down to me. They are a little thicker now, but not much. I have started to put family group information with copies of documents into a binder. It's my safety net in case I get a computer meltdown and it travels with me when I go somewhere to do research.

However my computer has most of the information now, and most - but not all - of it is safely stored online and on a dedicated backup hard drive. But it is still a mite randomly "organized". When we upgraded (that is the term Microsoft uses - I'm not sure it is an apt description though) Windows, we were given a new way of storing information called libraries. Simply put, it is like shoving everything into the closet and closing the door, having to trust that you can find it when you want to again.

At first I tried to keep things in folders, but it is just so much work fighting with Windows for control of where my documents would go. And time consuming. I'm still not ready to concede to Libraries on this one. Maybe if they offered a card catalog where I could easily search it, I would, but I guess I just don't have the knack for searching for my own documents. [A little a ha moment >*< maybe I need a better file naming system!]  It certainly takes the fun out of writing a piece when you can't put your finger on the exact item you are looking for when you want it.

So, I put all my file folders on my desktop where I could just click on them. It worked. Sort of. But it sure made for a really busy looking desktop:

It looks organized, but you can't see behind the opened libraries window... or inside the folders for that matter.

This worked for a while, but when I wanted to start sharing it between computers and my iPad, and wanted to share documents with other people, it started to get complicated. First came the flash drive. Darn thing kept getting lost. Now I have a Dropbox account and it does work reasonably well when I am on the road, or just switching computers. But I still have a problem organizing files, or perhaps just naming them appropriately. For some reason, my past experience managing a lot of data isn't helping right now. You would think I could remember some trick or handy tip right about now, wouldn't you?

So, how do you do it?

How do you keep all that information handy and retrievable when you need it? I'd really like to know!

29 April 2011

Sponagle... Sponagel.... Spannagel?

However you spell it, we've got them!

The weird thing is I had this information sitting on my digital desktop for a couple of weeks. What I have is a listing of anyone named Sponagle that was recorded in one of 33 sources contributing to the Lunenburg Vital Records.* 

All I knew, as of 9:00 this morning, is that Mary Ann Sponagle was born on 16 July 1795 in Lunenburg County, Nova Scotia, had married William Park Drew on 19 January 1820, and that she died with a will in 1880. I found their marriage record - really more of a contract - through Ancestry.com and the Nova Scotia Historical Vital Statistics Online Service. The thing that was puzzling me is William Park Drew and Philip Sponagle signed the contract, rather than William and Mary Ann Sponagle.

Just seemed odd to me.

I assumed that Philip would be her father or possibly brother, if her father had died.  I put Philip in the space Mary Ann's father would go. Unfortunately the dates didn't match up, so I deleted him from the record, and decided to put him in as her brother because the dates indicated he could be that. For some reason, you can't add siblings unless you have a parent listed. I wonder why that is?

A quick search of Ancestry.com turned up no records that matched his dates. Phooey! So I tried out my favorite new trick when I come to a dead end...

It's located in the lower right hand corner of a profile page > Recent Member Connect Activity - it might say you have not connected with other Ancestry members researching XXX yet. Learn more.

DO IT! - click on the Learn more button.

A new page appears with a list of people who are also searching for the same or similar information. It shows what they are looking for and while they may not have the information yet, they might have found other information you could use...like parents, siblings, children etc. Except there wasn't any Sponagle information that I didn't already know.

The eureka! moment today was when I clicked on a link located in the box below the recent member box called search the web ..., and voila, Neil Sponagle has a website. That looked very promising. And it was!

We've got lots of Sponagles now! And it is only 10:35am. And, yes, I did go back to my listing of Lunenburg Vital Records to verify the information.

It's a good Sponagle day!

* Lunenburg Vital Records can be accessed through: http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~canns/lunenburg/index.html


27 April 2011

We have a new addition to our family!

No, not that kind.

The previously living kind - the new-to-us and previously unknown kind.

Minnie Mailman Mack has an older sister Martha Mailman by their father William and Isabella (Martha's mother, but possibly not Minnie's mother). I have to go back to 1849 Mill Village or Charleston, NS records to figure this one out.

Martha's marriage record lists William and Caroline as her parents; but her death certificate lists her mother as Isabella _______ of Mill Village, NS. This would explain why William and Caroline's older children were about Caroline's own age.

Martha married William Gibbons of Mill Village in 1868 (1) and in 1871 they are living in Port Medway, NS. William is 28 and working as a Carriage Maker, Martha is 21, and they have one child Isobel who is 2 yrs old. William's heritage is Irish and Martha's is German, though both were born in NS. (2)

In 1891, William and Martha are living in Liverpool, NS with their family of six children: Isabella, John, William, Gertrude, Frank and P. Annie. (3) In the next year they will move to Boston, Massachusetts in the US.(4)

William Gibbons disappears from records sometime in 1896-97. I haven't found a death record for him in either MA or NS. Martha died on September 25, 1913. She is buried in Everett, MA at Woodlawn Cemetery (5) . Their daughter Gertrude is also buried in Woodlawn Cemetery. (6)

This might be a clue as to why Minnie and Burton moved to Massachusetts.

Genealogy research is peculiar. One often finds the individual pieces of information totally by chance. You have to examine it and see where it fits. Sometimes it doesn't fit just right and it has to hang out in space and time until the piece that connects it to the big picture of the family comes along.

Martha was like that. Fortunately it only took a couple of days to place her into the Mack family. I hope she is resting comfortably now.

(1) Nova Scotia Historical Vital Records
(2) 1871 Canadian Census for Queens Co, Nova Scotia
(3) 1891 Canadian Census for Queens Co, Nova Scotia
(4) Boston Passenger and Crew Lists, 1820-1943, 16 April 1892 and 21 August 1892.
(5) Commonwealth of Massachusetts death certificate, Martha Mailman Gibbons
(6) Commonwealth of Massachusetts death certificate, Gertrude Martha Gibbons

26 April 2011

Almost as good as having a genie in a lamp!

Within minutes of publishing my last post about saving images, I get not one, but two lovely responses from some new friends, and yes, I now have the answer to my cell phone dilemma. Yay friends!

More treasures from the aforesaid roadtrip to New Haven, Connecticut...

210 Prospect Street in New Haven. Designed and built by Rufus Gustavus Russell - my second great grandfather. Once lived in as a residence, now used by Yale University.

The Russell grave marker. I sure hope Susie is getting it all down in her notes.

Thanks, friends!

Don't you hate it when this happens...


I thought I was getting good at saving images. This is supposed to be an 1871 census record from Lunenburg, Nova Scotia. Maybe the information is in there somewhere.

All I can say is when certain websites say just "right click on image" and "save as"... they may be misleading us just a little bit. I have since learned to check the .jpeg I thought I was getting to make sure I didn't end up with a similar version of the document above...BEFORE I click the button to go back to my previous page...as the back arrow works kind of whimsically on some websites.

If a company wants to protect its images then just say so. Don't go saving the document I just spent an hour searching for in as .x file.

Yes, I do know some handy "get around" methods, but in this case I was lured into the "save as" trap.

Live and learn.

Now, anybody know how I can download photos of gravestones from my cell phone?
I'd appreciate it...

16 April 2011

Remember this couple?

Well, we still don't know who they are, but we now know a little more about them. By some very cool alignment in the universe, I met up with Maureen Taylor - The Photo Detective herself - at the NERGC (New England Regional Genealogical Conference) held April 6-10 in Springfield, MA and asked her to look at the photo to see if she could tell us a little more about it.

This couple are in their middle ages - 40 to 60 years old. The woman is wearing a day cap and the gentleman is sporting an unusual tie... it is patterned, which is not a common thing in the mid 1800's - the possible date of the photograph.

This photograph is actually a copy of a daguerreotype. It says so in the lower right hand corner - not that it was a daguerreotype, but that it is a copy, probably made by the person who signed the photo at the bottom. There are telltale spots in the background that indicate that the photograph is a daguerreotype.

It would be interesting to see if investigating the signature of the photographer would lead to any further answers. I'll let you know what I find.

Someone should start a website of unidentified photographs that people could upload their photos to... then other folks could look at them and hopefully ID the people in the photos. Sort of a WikiPhoto.

Any takers?

15 April 2011

Roadtrip souvenier...

(page 305)

To all People to whom thefe Prefents fhall Come, Greeting.
Know ye, That I Nathan Beebe of East Haddam in the County of Hartford and Colony of Connecticut in New England For divers good Caufes and Confiderations moving,

HATH Remifed, Releafed and for ever Quit-claimed, and by thefe Prefents, for
 him and his
Heirs, DOTH Fully, Clearly and Abfolutely, Remife, Rleafe and for ever Quit-claim unto 
Samuel mack of East Haddam in the County and Colony above Said in his full and peaceable Poffeffion and Seifin, and to his Heirs and Affigns for ever, all fuch Right, Eftate, Title, 
Interft and Demand whatfoever, as he the faid  Nathan Beebe:

had or ought to have, in or to all the Land that his stand Hond Father Cabb Beebe Late of East Haddam Deceased Died Pofsesd of in the Townfhip of East Haddam afore Said_
To Have and to Hold the above Released Premifses: unto the faid  Samuel mack his Heirs and Affigns, to the only Ufe and Behoof of the faid Samuel mack his Heirs and Affigns for ever; 
So that neither he the faid Nathan Beebe:
nor his Heirs, nor any other Perfon or Perfons, for Whom or in, their Names, nor in the Name, Right or Stead of any of them fhall or will by any Way or Means hereafter, Have, Claim, Challenge or Demand, any Eftate, Right, Title or Interft, of, in, or to the Premiffes, or any Part or Parcel thereof, but from all and every Action, Right, Eftate, Title Interft and Demand, of, in, or to the Premiffes, or any part or parcel thereof, they and every of them fhall be utterly Excluded and Barred for ever by thefe Prefents. And Farthermore, he the faid Nathan Beebe and his Heirs, the faid Released Estate and other the Premiffes, with the Appurtenances to the faid Samuel mack his Heirs and Affigns, to his and their own proper Use and Ufes, in Manner and Form before Specified, againft their Heirs and Affigns : And every of them fhall Warrant and for ever Defend by thefe Prefents. In Witnefs Whereof, I have hereunto fet my Hand and Seal this Eighth – Day of December In the third Year of the Reign of Our Sovereign Lord George the Third of Great Britain, &c. KING.  Annoque Domini, 1762:

Signed, Sealed and Delivered                                                       
                in the Prefence of                             Nathan  Beebe [scribble]

James (one)               Hartford Countyifs East Haddam December ye 8th, 1762,
Daniel (one)              those Perfonally appeared mV. Nathan Beebe the Grantor
                                     and acknowledged this Instrument to be his free act and Deed Before me

Recorded Dec.V ye 8th 1762               Daniel Cone Justice of Peace

Found at the East Haddam, Connecticut Town Hall in Land Records Book. How cool is that?