Thursday, March 31, 2011

Genealogy Collaboration

When I began my research 20+ years ago, I was the only one in my family that had any interest in researching our ancestors.

Over the years I have been contacted by numerous distant cousins and I myself have contacted distant cousins on varies lines, and without fail, I always have the most information.

Because I am very diligent in checking sources and I want copies of EVERYTHING I find, I am always happy to share what information and documents I have gathered.

I feel genealogy research should be a collaborative effort, why would I not share??  I have run across some researches who don't share their information and I think that is just plain silly.  It makes no sense to me.  If you have information someone else needs, why withhold that information?

Surnames Researched:
Green, Jenkins, Bestor, Stanley, Meyrick, Bolton, Lloyd, Hardman, Hostetler, Nilsdotter, Cyrier, Savoie, Chartier, Hubbard, Jewell, Massara, Comerford, Cunningham, Guiton, Kelly

Ancestral Locations:
Kankakee, Illinois
Boston, Massachusetts
Baltimore, Maryland
Fulton, Pennsylvania
Hardman, Oregon
Dayton, Washington
Montreal, Canada
Ludlow, England
Crickhowell, Wales
Onslunda, Sweden
Kilkinney, Ireland
Tipperary, Ireland
New York

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Meet The Parents -- Mom

My family history begins with my parents.  Without them, I wouldn't be here......go figure!

This is my mom.....Isn't she cute!

She was the first born child to my grandparents (I'll introduce them another day) and she was born on Sunday, 14 October 1945 in Waltham, Massachusetts.........9 months and 10 days after her parents were married.

As my Grandmother tells it, my mom was born after a lengthy labor, in which my grandmother was ultimatley sedated.  My Grandmother saw her new baby for the first time the next day and she recalls her first thoughts being........Who is this black haired child? (My grandmother is a redhead)  She couldn't imagine this dark-haired dark-eyed baby could possibly be hers! (Never mind my Grandfather is dark in coloring, and wasn't present for the birth because he was busy in the Pacific War Theater during a little thing now known as WWII)

My mom spent the first six months of her life living in Needham, Massachusetts with her mother and her grandparents.  My grandmother recalls laying my mom out in the sun for hours at time to "get some fresh are."  Nowadays, babies are smoothered in sunscreen and hidden in the shade.

When her father was discharged in 1946, he moved his little family to Houston, Texas while he attended college.  This is where they would remain for the next four years.  During this time my mom had two favorite activities.  Disappearing off to uncharted areas (aka climbing the fence in the back yard and visiting neighbors....some blocks away).

And playing in a washtub.

When my mom was 18 months old, her world changed...............she became a big sister for the first time.  Now, if you ask my mom, this was the most tramating event in her little life.  Due to the fact that my grandparents where in Houston, Texas, and all other relatives were in Massachusettes, my mom was sent to a Nunnery while my grandmother birthed her second child.  My mom would remain in the Nunnery for two weeks.  During her stay, my mom was not allowed a bottle, which at 18 months of age she was quite attached too.  In my moms opinion, this act has affected her entire life.  I suppose she's the only one who can decide that.

New Big Sister, Baby Sister and Daddy

After the birth of her sister, and upon my Grandfather's graduation, the family of 4 headed back to Massachusetts, settling in Nadick.  During the years they lived in Nadick, my mom became a sister two more times.  In 1955 they family of 6 moved to Middletown, New Jersey where they would remain until 1960.

Christmas 1955

During her childhood years my mom spent all her summers at The Cape (Cape Cod) at her grandparents beach house.  One of her most vivid memories is being on at The Cape with her Grandmother during  hurrican Hazel, while the rest of her family was back in Nadick.  She recalls the tremendous combined strength it took for her and her grandmother to close the french doors on the front porch.  She and her grandmother had to wait out a portion of the storm for her grandfather to arrive to bring them back to Nadick. She can still remember the burning sting of the sand as she and her grandmother ran to the car once her grandfather had arrived. 

The Cape

After a crazy drive through flooded cranberry bogs, they arrived in Needham and she had to spend the night at her grandparents.  She laid awake all night listening to the mantle clock chime each hour, as she scratched and scratched a horrible case of poison oak.

Sixth Grade

In the Summer of 1960, the family of 6 loaded up in a 1954 two-tone station wagon, and headed to their new home on the West Coast .  They took the entire summer to drive across the country stoppping in various locations along the way to visit family. 

The Station Wagon

Their route took them from New Jersey, to To New York, to Connecticut, across to Illinois.  Then meandering up and down the map moving forever onward to California.

In the Fall of 1960 the family of 6 had settled in Novato, California and my Mom had entered high school as a sophmore.  In September of that year she met my father.........during detention for skipping school!  At this point, I suppose I should mom was not the most obedient teenager, and really gave her parents a horrendous time.

Photo taken just after they arrived in California in 1960

In the Spring of 1961 this disobedient teenager told her parents she was going to a school dance.  She went to the dance....briefly.......then left with three other disobedient teenagers (my dad was not among them) and headed out on a joy ride.

While taking a turn from a narrow road onto a dirt road, the driver lost control and the car spun-out.  My mom, who had been riding in the backseat, sitting with her back against the door, was thrown from the car when the door unexpectadly opened and landed on her head suffering severe head trama. 

For the next month, my mom was in the intesive care unit of a large San Francisco hospital.  For the first two weeks she was in a coma and the doctors couldn't say for certain if she would live or die.  My Grandparents recall this time in 1961 with great reluctance and anger saying it was the worst time of their lives.  My Grandfather had called in a catholic priest and my mom was given her last rites.  That is how severly injured she was!

My mom has only scattered memories of her time in the hospital.  She recalls eating pudding, and she recalls my dad being one of her only non-family visitors.

By the fall of 1961 she had recovered from her accident and was in her Junior year of high school. The family of 6 was soon to be a family of 7............and unbenounced to my Grandparents, they would soon be grandparents for the very first time...................

Fall 1960 age 14

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Tuesday Tip #1 -- Start with what you know

When anyone is about to undertake the task of researching their family history, the most important, and often over looked step, is to START WITH WHAT YOU KNOW.  I have run into so many newbies to genealogy research who have jumped this very crutial step in the genealogy process. when I tell them to go back and start with themselves I get a very puzzled look from them and a response of..." I know when and where I was born."  That's great, and obviously vital information to know about ones-self, BUT..........take the time to go back and look at YOUR OWN BIRTH CERTIFICATE, you can learn vital information about your parents such as their place of birth, their occupation at the time of your birth, their residence.  Each of these is a small clue to THEIR parents.

If you have your birth record, and even perhaps birth records of your own parents, start to compile all that information.  I recommend starting a Family Group Record, A Pedigree Chart, and An Idividual Research Log.

On this document you will write down all the information for your family........Start with you and your spouse, and your children.  Make another for your parents and your siblings, Make the next one for your grandparents and their children.  Each family unit will have their own record.

Start with yourself as person #1, and work back from you.

Start a record sheet for every individual in your family tree.  This log will help you keep track of exactly what information you have for each individual and exactly what information you still need to find.  

All of these forms are crucial tools for any genealogist or family historian, professional and hobbiest alike.  I have created forms and you can download them for free for your personal use simply click on the image or on the highlighted link.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

How It all Started

In the summer of 1991, I was newly graduated from high school, and was visiting my grandparents at their summer home in Tahoe Donner, California.  It was a short four day trip spent shopping, hiking, swimming and enjoy the beauty of the Sierra.

Accompanying me on the trip was my Mom, my Step dad, my sister and my boyfriend (who is now my husband).  Each day was spent adventuring and each night was spent sitting around the dining table deep in conversation.  Each night the discussions would inevitable lead to my grandparents reminiscing about their past and their parents.  I could sit for hours listening to them.  I soaked up the stories like a sponge. I was fascinated to learn my Grandfathers' own Grandfather, while in the office of Sheriff, arrested my Grandfathers' own deadbeat father for failure to pay child support.

As the weekend neared it's end, I asked my Grandfather to write out a family tree. 
Below is the very tree that started it all.....

When I arrived home from that trip, I made a beline to the local bookstore looking for "How To" books on tracing your genealogy. 

From that trip nearly 20 years ago, I have traced many lines of my ancestry hundreds of years back in time and am currently putting the final touches on a  family genealogy book to send off to the publisher for publication!! 

I will never consider my research finished.  It will always be a work in progress!  Follow me as I introduce my ancestors and discuss my genealogical journey, sharing all my triumphs and my pitfalls along the way.