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!