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Posted by Andy Lee Family History Fanatics is starting the DNA Recombination Project. You can be a part of it. All we need is some ba...

31 May 2011

Tech Tuesday: How do I protect my family?

I think my Tech Tuesdays keep being questions more than solutions. I couldn't figure out a cute word to tie with a day of the week in order to ask questions. So, hopefully others won't mind my asking questions on Tech Tuesday. Someday I might be able to share.

Anyway... protecting my family and identity while sharing genealogy is my quandary. I came across a website that has information on a branch of my family that has had a brick wall for many years. The website is password protected. So, I contact the website owner and discover that indeed this website does have information on the family that I've been looking for. And guess what? I'm the branch he's been at a loss for for many years. So, mutual assistance is likely to occur.

Problem? When I asked how to gain access to his website and the family information therein, the owner asked for my full name and birth date. Since it's possible to obtain an identity with these pieces of information, I was torn. We take a lot on trust that other genealogists won't turn out to be horrible, horrible people. We share so much information willingly on faith that the other person won't be careless with the information.

So, what do I do? Well, I sent the owner an email that stated my concerns with sharing my vital information. I asked if we could use my deceased father instead. Perhaps that is still pretty naive of me. However, what would you have done? What do you do?

Tech Tuesday is a daily blogging prompt from GeneaBloggers, the genealogy community's resource for blogging. It is used by many genealogy bloggers to help them tell stories of their ancestors.

25 May 2011

Sharing My Research

This week, I put into the mail copies of a narrative story of my Geiszler and Zumstein families. I created this in several stages.

First, I used RootsMagic to organize my resource facts and to create notes detailing the events in my ancestors lives. Then I used the program's Narrative Report form to create an organized descendant report with the facts about each person in sentence format. I felt the format didn't flow exactly as I wished, so I then copied and pasted the report (from an exported PDF file, as the RTF function doesn't really work on the program) into a text document (I use Open Office).

Unfortunately, the citations were no longer linked well, so I learned how to make end notes for each section of the family. It was time consuming to re-establish links and cross-references but so worth it. I created a table of contents (very easy if you have used pre-formatted headers for your titles). Eventually I'll make an index, but it's not needed at this time.

The next thing I did was attempt to make each person's biographical sketch read more like a story rather than genealogical facts in sentences. Having the notes feature from RootsMagic insert the information made this fairly smooth. Still it was time consuming, but certainly makes for a better read.

Finally, I went through and inserted a photo for each family member, if I had one. Sometimes I had to use a handwriting sample because that's all I have from that relative.

So now what? Well, these research files are certainly in need of more information, more photos, and more editing. However, now I can send these 'books' to different relative connections. I'd prefer to send it electronically as one printing has 50+ pages. However, not all of my relative connections have e-mail accounts.

Why do this work? The hope and intent is this: generate more interest in my research. For years I've contacted different family members and they're like, "what do you want?" I share a group sheet, a list of questions, etc., and it's met with resistance or ignored completely. However, when I share stories of what I have, then it opens the doors for more communication. I am familiar with how exciting a family tree or a family bible listing is to genealogists. However, many of my family members aren't so excited. However, when they read that George Geiszler was a railroader and his grandson Bob loved making model trains because they reminded him of his grandfather, that's tangible and exciting.

So... the packages will go in the mail and I'll wait patiently for replies from those distant relatives. Perhaps they'll say, "Aww, that's nice" and then throw the pages in the trash. That's fine. It only cost me postage and printing of loose papers. Others will say, "Hey you got such and such wrong," and proceed to correct my mistakes. Others might say, "I have more information on ____ person. Now that I know what you're doing, I'll send you a packet for your use."

So... I'm sharing my treasure chest of information with my families. I still have the Long and Brown lines to print and mail. I hope that I'll receive a treasure chest discovery in the future. I'll keep you posted.

Treasure Chest Thursday is a daily blogging prompt from GeneaBloggers, the genealogy community's resource for blogging. It is used by many genealogy bloggers to help them tell stories of their ancestors.

18 May 2011

Ask Readers: Is this a tangent?

I haven't found this as a blog prompt but I'm going to start it anyway. What are you in need of help on? What questions puzzle you as a genealogical researcher? On Wanting Wednesday, I'm posting items that I could use a little guidance on. I hope others will do the same.

My want is to understand if I'm going on a wild goose chase or not. Here's the story.

I have documented that Samuel Curtis Brown (1821 MD - 1900 OH) is my great-grandfather. His wife is Martha Gordon (1827 OH - 1901 OH). I've been having trouble establishing Samuel's father, or any siblings for that matter.

In the LDS Ancestral File, a father's name of James Brown of Maryland is given as Samuel's father. There is no supporting documentation. I've searched and and found a family tree with my Samuel on it. It also lists James as the father as well as some potential siblings. One of the potential sibling is Ferdinand Brown (1813 MD). A Ferdinand appeared in the 1870 US Federal Census as the deaf neighbor to my Samuel Brown. In the 1850 Census, Ferdinand is living with his deaf brother Moses, his sister Mary, and his mother Catherine. In the (undocumented) tree, these individuals are connected. I can not find these family members in the 1860 US Census, and I'm not exactly sure why.

In the 1870 US Census, Ferdinand is living in Holland, Illinois with his brother William Brown (1815 MD - 1889 IL). William Brown married Mary Ann Fickle (1820 OH - 1898 IL). Mary Ann is the aunt to Martha Gordon (Samuel's wife). The question is... are William and Ferdinand related to Samuel aside from Mary-Martha's connection?

I contacted the Rootsweb Family Tree author. He said he had done the research in the Brown family as a way to track down information for another Brown family relative of his wife's. William, Ferdinand and Samuel are too far removed from his main line. He also apologized for not documenting his work for me to trace. He had taken a hunch that Samuel and William were brothers because of too many related coincidences that led him to the conclusion rather than solid genealogical evidence.

Several Geneabloggers have said to beware of the information on I bet they'd say the same thing about undocumented trees of Ancestral File or Rootsweb. However, the question I have is... should I pursue the William & Ferdinand might be Samuel's brother lead? If so, how would you suggest I go about doing it?

I've done a brief search using to find the Census information that I've shared above. I can't find the 1860 Census with these participants in the story. There isn't an 1840 US Census, is there? The 1820 US Census lists head of household and tally marks. Not exactly helpful when you have common names like William, Samuel and James Brown.

So... I'm wanting advice on what to do this Wanting Wednesday.

Wanting Wednesday is a daily blogging prompt from GeneaBloggers, the genealogy community's resource for blogging. It is used by many genealogy bloggers to help them tell stories of their ancestors.

15 May 2011

Sentimental Sunday - An Amazing Mother Named Lura Smith

For me, Mother's Day was on May 15th this year since my husband was out of town. So, to celebrate my Mother's Day, I want to praise a very special person. Her name is Lura Maud Smith (1884-1934).

Lura was married to Harry Howard Long (1883-1937). The couple married in Columbus, Ohio on Jun 19, 1907. They were unable to have children and finally adopted their first child in 1916.

In May 1920, a baby girl was born in Columbus, Ohio to an unwed mother. The mother died of preeclampsia. This baby girl would become my grandmother.

Upon her mother's death, Baby Anderson became a ward of the State of Ohio Welfare Department. She had a caseworker, Ethel Huffman Ackerman, who wanted to place Baby Anderson in the home of Harry Long. The caseworker was a friend and classmate (at Ohio State) of Harry's sister Elizabeth Long.

As Elizabeth retells the story, Ethel received Baby Anderson's birth mother's history and felt that Harry and Lura were just the parents for this new baby. Louise was at the State receiving home and Ethel had not yet met the baby.

According Elizabeth, Ethel didn't think anyone would want the baby after seeing the baby for the first time. The baby had been through a rough delivery and absorbed some of the fluids from her mother's kidney failure. The baby's face was broken out and her whole body was very thin. She looked as if she had hemorrhoids. (Elizabeth remembers the baby girl had no buttocks and wondering if it would ever learn to sit!)

Ethel told Harry that he was under no obligation to take the baby. She also apologized for not having warned them of her condition. It is said that Harry responded, "if the ever was a baby that needed a home, I believe this one does." Lura agreed with her husband. The couple took Louise and nursed her to good health. The State of Ohio probably provided health services for a year until the adoption was complete.

Although the words were said my Harry, the nurturing mother Lura is in my book a saint. She could have refused to take the baby based on looks alone. Lura and Harry didn't. They gave that baby a chance at life. Now my grandmother is 90 years old, has three children, thirteen grand children, many great grandchildren, and at least one great-great grandchild! On this Mother's Day (which may be belated for some), I praise Lura Maud Smith. Without her decision to adopt such a sickly child, I might never have come to be.

Sentimental Sunday is a daily blogging prompt from GeneaBloggers, the genealogy community's resource for blogging. It is used by many genealogy bloggers to help them tell stories of their ancestors.

10 May 2011

Talented Tuesday - Robert Victor Zumstein is a Hawkeye not a Cyclone

OSU Professor R Victor ZumsteinDo you consider education a talent? Well, in a family where I heard "Get your Ph.D. before your Mrs.", education is considered a talent.

Thanks to I have found out that my great-grandfather Zumstein was not a graduate of Iowa State University in Ames. Robert Victor Zumstein was a native of St. Catherines, Ontario, Canada. He graduated from a university in Toronto in 1917. He moved to Iowa and obtained his Masters in Math and and Physics in 1918. And he obtained his PhD (probably in Physics) in 1924 from S.U.I in 1924 before moving to the University of Michigan to obtain more education and become a professor until 1926. He later became a professor at Ohio State University from 1928-1968. It seems he loves the Big Ten schools!

Victor's sweet daughter Dorothy wrote his biography in the 1970s. To his Canadian born daughter who married a Canadian and raised her family in Canada, I'm not sure she knew there were two colleges with similar sounding names in Iowa at the time. When her father graduated, there were was the State University of Iowa and Iowa State College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts. In 1959, Iowa's colleges became more confusing to 'outsiders' as S.U.I. became more commonly known as the University of Iowa and the other college became Iowa State University.

Iowa State Logo
So, when Texas reared me reads Canadian Dorothy's biography about Victor graduating from Iowa State University, I think about the red and yellow colored college from Ames. I made a big genealogy mistake and began inserting facts about ISU into my writings. I began to imagine my newlywed great grandfather rearing his children in the middle of Iowa. I should have realized that a daughter's biography about her father is not weighted the same as a diploma or newspaper article.

Anyway, thanks to, I searched for Robert Victor and found a listing of graduates from S.U.I. (State University of Iowa) in 1924. I read that his degrees match up with what I had previously found. Then I notice the paper saying Hawkeye. Hawkeye? Wait. It's supposed to be Cyclone. Then I notice the paper mention the city of Iowa City. Iowa City? It's supposed to be Ames. Righ?

No! I'm the silly.

Iowa Hawkeyes
A quick trip to Wikipedia and I learn that a miscommunication had occurred. If I had just taken the time to check the history of the Iowa Universities, I would have known that in 1918 and 1924, there was really only one university in Iowa. So my great aunt was mostly right in saying Victor graduated from Iowa State University only she really meant State University of Iowa.

So yes, my great-grandfather was talented in the field of physics. Yes he taught at Ohio State and Michigan before that. However, he was in Iowa City at the college who has the Hawkeye mascot and color theme of black and gold. Well, I like black and gold better than red and yellow and I have some family history stories to amend.

09 May 2011

Who is George Schneitzer or Snitzer?

George Schnietzer or Snitzer of Columbus
In the photo album I received not too long ago, there is a fine looking fellow was George Schneitzer. He lived in Columbus, Ohio. Columbus had a large population in an area which became known as German Village. He was the godfather of George Joseph Geiszler (1886-1974). George Joseph was the son of Henry Joseph Geiszler who married Magdalena Hoppe 3 Jul 1882. The couple married at Zion German Methodist Episcopal, so it's possible that the godfather ceremony was done at this church.

These are all the facts I have to go one. One day I'd love to know why Henry and Margie chose George Schneitzer to be their son's Godfather and potential namesake. The book suggests that George's last name is Snitzer. What if George didn't live in Ohio. The only time I've discovered a George N Snitzer is in the 1890 Veterans Schedule. He's listed as having served in Ohio Infantry Volunteers Company K, 88th Other records suggest that his name is not listed in this record. I found a death record for George Schnidzer with a birth in 1831 in Germany and a death in 1909 in Columbus, Ohio.

George's name is not easily discover-able..

03 May 2011

Talented Tuesday - David Geiszler's Art

My brother has had a gift for art that I've just never been able to acquire. Even though I focus primarily on ancestors, I just visited his family and I thought I'd pay tribute to him.

Here's a sample of his artwork. It's the team logo from his High School in Texas.
I'm fairly certain the letters were done in stencil (David had terrible handwriting) but the bear was done in free hand. Thanks to David's art ability, I got an A on an assignment for one of my English classes in High School. We were supposed to submit a drawing about some book. David's picture was AWESOME. I so wish I still had a copy of that picture. (Still don't know why I had an assignment for drawing a picture in English, but I digress).

Anyway, artistic do appear in my family. Unfortunately, I don't have samples of their work. My mother won awards at the Ohio State Fair for latch hook rugs. They were 1970 red and orange, so I didn't appreciate them, but that's still pretty cool. Elizabeth Long (1890-1992) creating numerous tatting and water color pieces in the 1980s. She even sold a few. She passed a few water color paintings to her nieces (she never had any children). I wish I could see a sample some day.

I'm still uncovering more talented artists in both sides of my family. I'm thankful that my daughter has a budding artistic ability that seems to have passed me by. She's carrying on a great family tradition.

Talented Tuesday is a daily blogging prompt from GeneaBloggers, the genealogy community's resource for blogging. It is used by many genealogy bloggers to help them tell stories of their ancestors.
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