Friday, April 20, 2012

Preparing for Cincinnati

Time has flown in the recent weeks as I have spent time either indexing or searching for ancestors in the 1940 Federal Census with some interesting results that I will compile in an upcoming post once the dust has settled more.

But today, I wanted to update the preparations occurring in my corner of the world as the calendar edges closer towards the National Genealogical Conference in Cincinnati, and my first opportunity to rub shoulders with so many of the bloggers, authors, and people I have grown to respect in this amazing field.

I thought it was ironic that our Sunday newspaper focused on Cincinnati in the travel section this past Sunday, and since I don't believe in coincidences, that coupled with the addition of Family Tree Magazine adding the city to its May/June 2012 issue only adds to the excitement. Although my mother and I are the genealogy fiends in our family, my father is coming with us, so I am currently exploring the social events that are being offered as well as reading up on what is available in the downtown area for him to explore while we are learning as much as we can (when we aren't spending money in the exhibition hall, trying to find people I have become acquainted with over these past few years, or seeing what trouble I can try to stay away from).

One thing I learned long ago is that going on any trip means much work before one leaves the driveway, so I am currently debating the cost of updating my current GPS vs. replacing it, making a list of the food and snacks we are packing (we have decided that the luncheons are most likely beyond our budget, but will finalize this decision this weekend), ensuring that spring clothing is in good shape and that I have comfortable shoes to survive those long days (I prefer going barefoot ).

The next phase is updating my database as much as I can before we go because we are hoping to do some research on a missing line that actually lived in Cincinnati and ran a saloon downtown in the early 1900s. Another decision: to take advantage of being so close to Frankfort, Kentucky and some of the courthouses in that part of Kentucky that we need to visit for some records while we are so close. I will write more on this next week.

As I am writing this I have learned that the NGS has a mobile app that can be downloaded on a variety of Windows, Android, & Blackberry devices to help us with the schedule of events (including making a personalized schedule), information on the exhibitors including how to find them, maps of the meeting rooms hotels & parking, and even a way to stay connected with each other throughout the convention. This is something I am going to have to add to my to-do list.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

First National Conference- Come Along With Me

My bucket list is quite varied, covering everything from traveling spots to meeting favorite celebrities, and attaining goals with my beloved ancestors, and I have been quite blessed in actually checking off many of them, even the ones that seemed impossible years ago.

Last year I was more than a bit blue as The National Genealogical Society's Annual Conference was conducted in Charleston, South Carolina. I had wanted to go desperately, and was so disappointed when circumstances prevented the opportunity.

When I learned that the National Genealogical Society was holding the 2012 conference in Cincinnati, Ohio I knew that I would not be denied. I researched the three hotels that were originally recommended by the Society, and actually made our hotel reservations over six months ago to ensure that I was in the hotel I wanted, which is across the street from the Duke Energy Convention Center and attached by the downtown Cincinnati sky walk system.

I talked highly of this conference within my family, so my favorite sidekick in genealogy pursuits, my mother, decided to attend with me. As of this moment we are electing not to sign up for any of the luncheons, even though I am a member of a few of the organizations, but will seek some guidance on this one in the next few weeks. The conference blog states that any meal tickets must be purchased in advance.

We did decide to splurge for the Wednesday evening tour and dinner at the Cincinnati History Museum, especially since the Union Terminal is there and the railroad plays such a large role in our lives. I was happy to find out, that even though my father will not be part of the actual conference, I could register him for this event. We also plan on going to the evening at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center , as well as a bus tour they are doing when we first get into town. We decided to take advantage of these opportunities and enjoy them as much as we can while we are there.

Since I am a newcomer to attending a conference at this level, I thought I would start posting on our process as we prepare for this trip, what the experience is like once we arrive, and what we learn during and once we get home.

Next time I will let you know what some of our preparations are for this trip.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Motivation Monday- Weekly Update

(* I had this set in my scheduler to post early yesterday, but for some reason this did not occur, so I am publishing a day late. Staying focused is too important right now in my opinion).

Motivation comes in many forms: a regular paycheck, a boss threatening to replace your position, an unexpected hug from a teenager.....fill in the blank with whatever those motivation are for yourself.

In order to stay focused in my genealogy research, making a small set of weekly goals that I am publicly accountable to on here is one way to stay motivated. Last week I made a small list and will use that as the beginning of either a weekly or bi-monthly post to update on progress and make a set of new "motivating" steps to continue forward progress.

So, here is an update:

 -Complete a Database of Tombstone Tuesday Entries Posted to this Blog  (Completed)

Review  Military file of Lemuel Tucker (my oldest brick wall ) in order to return to posting about him (Currently reviewing in depth and will post an entry next week for Military Monday on Lemuel)

Search the local 1940 city directory as one step to confirm addresses in preparation of release of 1940 census (Have discussed family addresses with my mother, and searched online for relative city directories, but the 1940 city directory I need to view is at the Evansville Vanderburgh Public Library in their Indiana Room. I will be visiting on Tuesday morning.)

Visit the Warrick County, Indiana courthouse to obtain records related to my German heritage (Visited last week for several hours and obtained many records on the family, some I will be sharing in upcoming weeks)

Use Google Reader to catch up on all the blogs I have missed in recent months (much to do in this area; there are so many good blogs with good information to share that I may be catching up for awhile)

Now, in addition to what I am continuing from above, these are my additional motivations in the next week:

- Return to the Warrick County courthouse for other records

- Spend an evening scanning photographs and/or documents (I intend to make this a weekly event while watching some favorite television programs) 

- Return to  indexing to  polish up on my skills this week so that I will be prepared to assist in the indexing process when the 1940 census in released April 2nd. 

Let's see how this process goes and let's all "stay motivated"!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Sentimental Sunday-Gifting To Those We Love

Photographs of ancestral homes, tombstones, and walking the land that once was farmed by generations are all aspects that are beyond description for me, and are the areas that I am beginning to focus on more when I explain our family history to living relatives now. I have discovered that doing so is what gets them excited and more willing to answer questions, find a photograph, look for a record, etc.

In fact, I am even realizing that I need to temper these revelations a bit. If I share too much then by the time I leave a family dinner I have a to do list from my siblings that is long enough to last for months, but I am thrilled with the investment. The younger generations that get turned off by pedigree charts are actually staying around the dinner table to listen to stories of inspiration, tribulation, courage, and humor and that delights me to no end.

Christmas has always been an opportunity to share a few historical gifts. Years ago I gave my parents and each sibling my very first family album that consisted of a few charts, copies of original records for our immediate grandparents and great-grandparents, and several photographs. Over the years I have given them additional info they could add to that binder. My mother has added to the tradition by giving each of us copies of their high school yearbooks and other delights over the years.

This year was no exception, and one of the most sentimental in years. I had located my  2nd great-grandfather, William Eckardt, his wife Fridolina and 2 sons Richard and Conrad in Syracuse, Onondaga County, New York in the 1880 census with William working as a tailor. Several Onondaga city directories are available online, and I used those to locate the addresses of employment for William in Syracuse during the time the family lived there.

Google Maps and Ebay are such a benefit to our worlds as genealogists, and they are part of my online Research Toolbox. I searched Google Maps for the current day location of his employment as well as where they lived, and discovered that one of those places at the time was along the Canal in Syracuse and that the building is still there.

I often purchase postcards off Ebay that play a part in my family, but this time I discovered a greater treasure:an actual photograph of the building with the Canal, just as it would be as my ancestors would be at the time. I gave this to my mother as a Christmas gift with a copy of the census to frame. Both are below, with the picture partially covered out of respect.
1880 Syracuse, Onondaga, New York (image taken by KE)
Next week I will share the Sentimental gift my mother in turn gave to each of us.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Tombstone Tuesday- Cemetery Kits Helpful

Visiting cemeteries is one of my favorite aspects of genealogical research, which often leads to some interesting facial expressions on those around me before I get the opportunity to explain my thoughts behind the statement. 

A cemetery to me is a sacred location, but it is not an untouchable or hands off place to be. Even in college when I was away from home and there was no time for genealogy, I would frequently take walks in a nearby cemetery from the campus that was beautiful and peaceful. 

Today when I visit the cemetery of my ancestors to take the photographs that are so precious to me I cannot help but stand there and go back in time to the day those people were buried. I imagine the friends and relatives  walking the land I am standing on as they grieve for the person they knew so well and now are losing, and the emotional sentimental fool that I am I always get a little emotional in the process. Genealogy to me is more than adding names to my database, and I am sure that is more pertinent because I knew so little about my family when I first began.

Last fall my parents and I were able to return to Ohio County, Kentucky for a couple days of research at the courthouse and to visit some local cemeteries. Ohio County is a key location to my maternal side of the family, and I was determined to visit one cemetery in particular that held several ancestors. 

The cemetery is at what is called Old Salem Church. The day we went I was a bit discouraged to find that part of the cemetery had been mowed and the part I needed to get to was under 3 feet of grass and weeds. What did I do? Turned to my trusty cemetery kit. My cemetery kit is actually a large tote bag that includes what I consider to be the necessities for anyone intending to make it a habit to visit their ancestral relatives in unknown locations. (Sorry, but despite my best efforts I could not find my photo for this post, but will put one up next week). 

Contents of my bag: Cloth diapers (for cleaning), water bottle for spraying onto unreadable text, kneeling pad used by gardeners, metal probe for finding parts of headstones under ground, clippers to assist in weed removal (I actually have a couple varieties), nylon brush and piece of styroform to gently remove lichen, hoe, garden gloves, trash bag and paper towels to clean up behind myself, piece of foam board covered with aluminum foil to assist with sun, tripod for my camera, first aid kit, bug spray, notebook paper, cemetery forms and clipboard. I know this is a lot and I don't always use it all, but the clippers, and bug spray came in handy this day. 

My parents thought I was nuts, but I knew that there were few opportunities to visit this cemetery and I didn't want to miss my chance, so out came the spray, I left all but the tools and the clipboard and my camera in the car, and off I went into the middle of the weeds and any unseen creatures.

Salem Cemetery, Ohio County, KY (property of ke)

I was delighted when I was rewarded, after trimming and pulling some weeds and grass, as well as spraying some water onto the stone to see it better, the long awaited location of my 3rd great-grandfather, John Raley. 

John Raley
Born Oct 8 1806
Died Aug 11 1884
Aged 77 Y., 10 M., 3 D.
Salem Cemetery, Ohio County, KY (taken by ke)

Monday, March 19, 2012

Motivation Monday- Gears Moving

When one has been away from a task for a period of time, even one they truly enjoy, moving from the "wanting" to the "doing" can be be measured in inches or miles, depending upon the level of motivation.

For example, in my household where youth resides-  money, a new cell phone, gas money, or even movie tickets can magically clean any dirty dishes, empty a laundry hamper, take out the trash, or run a vacuum. Finding the dangling Popsicle for an adult who has been doing genealogy for years can be a bit more daunting. Thankfully being that I have been the designated benefactor in my household for the past several months, I relish the opportunity to get reacquainted with the men and women I hold in my heart whose voices I have never heard.

Little sappy I know, but it's a Monday. Apparently my zeal is greater than realized, because I have taken breaks from writing this post to go into my home office to pull every single family binder, reference publication, and research file off my library shelves and desk, and placed them on the floor in order to reorganize them into a more efficient  work flow. Finding my desk and starting to work in there regularly is the top item on my weekly "to do list" in addition to the following:

- Complete a database noting which entries have been posted for Tombstone Tuesday to prepare for future posts

- Review file of Lemuel Tucker (my oldest and most stubborn brickwall ancestor) so I can return to posting what is known in hopes of finding ancestral connections with others also awaiting the same information

- Search the local 1940 city directory to confirm addresses as one step in preparation for release of upcoming 1940 census

- Visit the Warrick County Courthouse to obtain records relative to my German heritage to increase clues in their history

We'll see how well I do on these goals this week, and on posting information here. I will also be spending some time in the evening with my Google Reader as I read all those posts I have missed in recent months.

Thank you.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Refreshed and Eager to Walk Among My Ancestors

One of the best aspects of genealogy (and the worst in honesty) is the fact that the bends in the road always lead one to continue trying to peek around the bushes to see what may be on the horizon.

I have stood in awe in a courthouse as I held the original document from 1826 that cemented the marriage of my 3rd great-grandparents, been thrilled when after years to find the German city of birth of another direct ancestor so we can "cross the pond", and never get tired of the increased beat of my heart whenever I see a photograph of anyone I am related to, because looking into their eyes leads somewhere that is far beyond a line on a census page.

I began my genealogy quest at the age of 13 formally, before television shows enlightened us on the hobby. I actually developed my own version of a family group sheet on an old fashioned typewriter before I had ever seen one (still have those early versions) from organizations, doing this because all of my grandparents were deceased and no one could answer any of my questions.

In those years there was little interest among other family members beyond an occasional,  "That's interesting", and I can clearly remember the day when a close family member told me they had no interest at all in any of this "stuff" or the heirlooms and looked forward to when we could get rid of it all. (By the way, that person now collects antiques).

There have been some years when I needed to sit my ancestral quests off to the side (attending college away from home, the early years of my parenting and career building, when my health crisis hit and I actually had to relearn how to read was a big one), but my heart always kept my ancestors nearby. What has helped in recent times is that now I have the assistance of my mother who joins me on all courthouse visits, and is currently learning how to use the computer and databases as well. Additionally, other family members are assisting in various ways and I appreciate their zeal.

My last entry (aside from a brief one at Christmas), was last fall when I discussed my impending plans to travel to Ohio County, Kentucky for a few days at the courthouse for record retrieval. After that I fell off the radar, and I apologize to those who read this blog. I missed being here, and I missed reading your blogs as well.

Sometimes when genealogy has been in your veins since the age of 13 a break is needed, and in my case that came with little warning or planning. My living ancestors needed my attention, and now with refreshed vigor all my ancestors are calling my name.

I am registered for the National Genealogical Conference in Cincinnati in May- my very first national conference, and I am very excited. Research goals await me, and writing for this blog does as well, so I hope you will have me again. It sure feels good to be back.