Honoring Our Ancestors Newsletter
March 15, 2007
By Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak
The last few weeks have been a blur, mostly thanks to the Sharpton-Thurmond story that you might have heard about (more on that next time), so this issue is a little shorter than usual. On the upside, I've finally caught up with my grants! Congrats to all the awardees.
Here's hoping you still find a few useful tidbits in here, and that you have a wonderful St. Patty's Day whether you have a drop of Irish in you or not!
In this newsletter. . .
If you happen to sport Northeastern Pennsylvania coal mining roots like I do, then you'll be interested in this article: Digging area history from records, sites Let's hear it for the John Dziak's of the world!
Well, there's only one Genealogue -- and 1,556,837 Christophers and 26,997 Dunhams in the United States -- but there are apparently 139 other people running around with our friend's name.
You can play around with your own name at How Many of Me -- but with one caveat. You're out of luck if you have a name like Smolenyak because it only works for the 88,799 most popular surnames. Still, it's nice to know that I was one of the first of the more than 220,000 Megans! (warning: site sometimes sports tacky ads)
In February, I appeared on a morning talk show in Utah called Studio 5. They asked for a few genealogical basics to pop on their website and recently added them here:
On this show, I demonstrated Ancestry.com's "shaky leaf" system by poking into one of the host's roots. More than a million family trees and 400,000 photos have been uploaded just since July 2006 using this new functionality (see the press release for more details), and once you play with it, you'll discover why -- it's pretty darn addicting. In fact, one New York Times reporter described it as "digital crack."
If you'd like to try it, just enter some date or upload a GEDCOM into Ancestry.com's Member Trees. Here's wishing you many shaky leaves (and if that doesn't make sense to you now, it will once you give it a go)!
This might be a bit intimidating if you're new to genealogical research, but if you've been at it for a while and are comfortable online, you'll want to check out these great pages of links from ProGenealogists (incidentally, the company I use for virtually all of my Family History Library research).
These are links that they use themselves when tackling their case work, and they've been kind enough to share them with all of us. Definitely worth a careful study. You just never know what terrific resource you might have been overlooking!
Did you know that 7% of U.S. marriages take place in Nevada -- even though the state only represents about 1% of the U.S. population? You can learn this and a gazillion other details about marriages and divorces in Nevada (yup, including all those celebrity marriages and quickie divorces) at VegasWeddingOdds.com by Ancestry.com.
While you're there, though, take some time to play the slots and learn about the odds on your own marriage. I entered my name and my husband's -- Brian -- and found out that I had better keep him away from anyone named Michelle. Should Brian ever decide he's had enough of me and my genealogical ways, my best bets for another marriage would be Robert, James, Joseph, Daniel, Timothy, Matthew, Eric, Joshua, Gary and Sean. So if you sport any of those names, don't say I didn't warn you!
If you'd like to read more, check out this press release. And when you're playing the slots, you might want to take a peek at the disclaimer as well.
An article of mine that appeared in Ancestry.com's 24/7 Family History Circle is another in my series about books with a genealogical theme that aren't overtly genealogical -- although one of the two I review this time is pretty darn genealogical. Check out Feeling Bookish -- not only for the article itself, but for the additional suggestions in the comments. And you can look for a lot more ideas for your next book binge here in the book category.
Had a great time chatting with Mike O'Laughlin of Irish Roots Cafe recently, and you can listen to our discussion -- mostly about Annie Moore, the first immigrant through Ellis Island -- by checking out podcast #10. While you're there, take a little time to explore. There's a lot to this virtual cafe!
I don't blame her for playing it safe. I recently spotted an article entitled Mystery Surrounds 1865 Medal of Honor in the Indianoplis Star. Unfortunately, the article (written by Virginia Hilbert) is already tucked into the archives and only available on a fee basis, but the gist of it was that a Civil War Medal of Honor had strayed from its family of origin, and the present owner, Marjorie Grismore, was seeking descendants of Joseph F. Carter from Maryland.
How could I resist? It took about half an hour, but I tracked down a great-granddaughter in Baltimore, and gave Ron Wilkins, the fellow doing the sleuthing on behalf of the current owner, her contact info. He called and she confirmed her relationship. You can read about it in this follow up article by Ms. Hilbert -- Medal of Honor could be back in family soon.
Not surprisingly, Ms. Grismore wants to be absolutely sure about the relationship, so I'm awaiting her call so I can provide the details she needs to feel reassured. What's especially nice, though, is that the descendant was aware of the medal and had been looking for it for 20 years. She shouldn't have much longer to wait!
FindMyPast recently announced that they had added another decade's worth of UK emigration records, so now the site covers 1890-1909. I use Bob Hope's immigration record as an example in my Ellis Island talk, so I knew that he left England in 1908. Of course, I had to go see if I could find his departure, and sure enough, I could! Here we see toddler Leslie Hope with his mother Avis and siblings:
When I first reviewed FindMyPast, I mentioned that I wasn't keen on the pay-as-you-go approach. It sounds good in theory (and is the norm for most European genealoical sites), but doesn't work well with my search style. I was impressed that Elaine Collins, FindMyPast's Commercial Director, took the time to explain (you can see her complete remarks as a comment on my earlier posting, but here's a selection):
Well, that's the best of both worlds! Let the searching begin!
How cool is this? Since the Annie Moore story broke back in September of last year, I've been contacted by a number of students working on immigration-related projects. As best I can, I try to answer questions and be generally helpful.
Well, Christina Jacko of Martinsburg, WV just sent me this snap of her recently completed Annie Moore project which scored an impressive 98 out of 100 points! Check out those models! Great work, Christina! Thanks for sharing your project with us -- and for keeping Annie's memory alive!
It isn't often that you get to speak at a venue that's only a couple of blocks from your home, but I recently had one of those times when I broke in a new talk at the Haddon Fortnightly.
The new talk is called "Cases That Made My Brain Hurt," and you can learn more about it here -- although the content is probably fairly obvious from the title! This and a talk on Annie Moore are my new ones for the year. I really enjoyed last evening, but probably my favorite part was the Q&A which meandered all over the place! Lots of fun!
The handsome fellow below is Austin. He's my nephew and the instigator behind the Flat Stanley piece we've just added on Roots Television. He sent me Flat Stanley a few years ago (if you have no clue who that is, be sure to watch!), and of course, I made F.S. do his roots! Thanks for the adventures you prompted, Austin!
Congrats to our January, Feburary and March grant recipients! Don't forget that you can apply (and view summaries of several years' worth of monthly awardees -- just use the drop-down menu) here.
Seymour, IN is a town with rich history -- founded by "builders and busters, entrepreneurs and scoundrels" and the site of the nation's first train robbery. To document this history, the Seymour Museum board is in the process of creating a living history tour through the Riverview Cemetery to celebrate its 125th year. In this project, historians and actors will research primary documents and family histories to accurately portray notable individuals throughout Seymour's history. The grant will be used to help fund this tour, which will be held in April 2007.
If you plan to be near any of the events where I'll be speaking, I would love to meet you. It's always a kick for me when folks mention that they read this newsletter, my blog, Ancestry Daily News or whatever, so don't be shy about introducing yourself!
Please forward this newsletter to your family and friends who are interested in genealogy -- thank you!
Wishing you an abundance of genealogical serendipity!
Note: You are receiving this because you have demonstrated an interest (e.g., you have a story in one of my books, applied for a grant, attended previous events, etc.) or subscribed via my website, but please let me know if you do not want to receive any further emails, and I will promptly remove you from my list. And rest assured, this is my personal list and not shared with anyone else! Thanks, Megan