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30 November 2012

Declutter the Childhood Artwork Collection

Declutter Children's Artwork

Hopefully, you've had a wonderful Thanksgiving. Perhaps you're following up on last week's challenge of photographing family heritage memorabilia. Today, I thought I'd cover a clutter problem along with a family history problem. The culprit... children's artwork.

In a historical sense, you may have artwork from children from the 1980s and not have any clue what to do with these items. They've probably been in a box or folder some day, for future use. Your children and grandchildren are probably telling you these things are fire hazards, and I'd probably agree with them.

In my case, I had a vast collection of artwork from my childhood when I married my husband. He couldn't see what on earth I'd do with everything I'd saved. So, he told me to toss it, and I did. So wish I'd known how to photograph my artwork, magazines, and sticker books. Ah well, in his defense, we really didn't have room for boxes of 'stuff' in our tiny little apartment back then.

Fast forward to present day, and you either have artwork from your children and/or grandchildren coming out your ears. It seems like the volume of crafts and artwork have increased substantially since back in the day, but I could be wrong. In any case, I don't have room for everything in my home that my children make, so I pawn stuff on their grandparents. One grandma says she's drowning in the children's artwork. Guess that means that option's out. So, what can we do?

Scanning Children's Art


Okay, you could also scan smaller items, but for the most part, my children use paper that is not 8 1/2 by 11 when in art class. So, I photograph their work. I just recently learned about using levels to brighten photos on the computer, but I haven't used that skill on these pictures yet. But you will see how excellent photographs of children's artwork can be. Plus, it takes up a lot less space!

Scanning Children's Art
f/3.2, EXP 1/60 sec, ISO 200

To photograph artwork, I set up a station (no lightbox) near a window with soft natural light.  I place the artwork on a white sheet. With the camera mounted on a tripod, I set the timer function. This allows me to hold a piece of white foam board on the side opposite the window. I maneuver the board until the artwork is flooded with the right about of light bounced back.

For many objects, I can fill the camera frame with the entire art piece. In cases such as the piece above, I fill in as much of the frame as I can and then I'll use photo editing software to cut out the background.

Scanning Children's Art
f/2.8, EXP 1/15 sec, ISO 200

For the photo above, the art is sized such that I could have used the scanner. However, since the art medium involves chalk, I would never put that on my scanner. Photography is the only solution for these items.

Scanning Children's Art
f/2.8, EXP 1/60 sec, ISO 200

I've also noticed that scanned art involving crayons also results in weird colors. So, I photograph crayon work about 50% of the time. This piece could really use the lightening techniques involving levels and contrast.

Scanning Children's Art
f/2.8, EXP 1/25 sec, ISO 200

As you can see, photographing children's artwork can be done relatively easily without a need for a professional level of skills. But I'm sure you don't want to have the white background distracting from your prodigy's creations. Using a photo editor, you can quickly solve that problem.

Scanning Children's Art
Photo as it appeared on the camera

Scanning Children's Art
Photo after cropping

As you're preparing for the Christmas holiday, perhaps you can scan the artwork that is around your house. Just think of all the free space you'll have. That's about the best Christmas present you could give yourself and your family.

28 November 2012

Digital Hertiage Albums: Playing With Color

I hope you've enjoyed my post about creating a cover page for a family history scrapbook. Today I want to combine two previous posts about using color palettes to help you make color choices for your heritage album. To view those previous posts click here and here.

Selecting a color scheme for a family history album is probably one of the most exciting, and sometimes difficult, parts of creating a scrapbook. With paper scrapbooking, one would spend hours trying to decide what colors and color combinations work best. It would be very costly to cut and glue your pictures to a combination only to decide it doesn't look as good as you hand hoped.

Thankfully, digital scrapbooking makes it affordable, and fun, to try different combinations of colors and papers until you find the one that works for you. Let's see how I used one a layout with three different color options.

Cover page template with photo and title in place

As you can see, I can have three or four colors in my color scheme. The template designer has given me a few hints of where the light and darkest papers should go. And, I want the picture of the family farm in the sent to not get lost.

If you have a digital scrapbook kit with papers and embellishments that meet your needs, stop reading this post and start creating your pages.

Unfortunately, I don't always find kits that have all the papers I want. Or, the kit costs more than I want to spend. So, I usually pull digital scrapbook papers from a variety of scrapbook kits for my heritage album. Since I'm not a designer by trade, I need help knowing what colors go together.

The first stop is to look at a collection of color palettes from I came across this color scheme that I thought would work nicely for my heritage scrapbook. This is a nice blend of rich colors that isn't always brown or black and white.

I found different pieces of scrapbook paper on my computer that I thought might work nicely. I opened them in my photo editing software (Photo Shop Element or Paint Shop Pro). As I opened each piece of potential paper, I weighed them against the color scheme. I tried to match them as closely as I could (notice the maroon color is now more a mauve). I also looked at the sample papers against each other to see if they were compatible. In the end, I came up with this layout option.

Title Page created using  Color Combo 34

Then I decided I wanted to try a monochromatic green color palette for my family history album. The color scheme that I found has four different shades of green: two dark, one medium, and an interesting light choice. I could have chosen a softer green color palette, but I lean more towards the royal colors in life and scrapbooking. That doesn't mean a light green palette wouldn't work. It's just personal preference.

The light green from the ColorCombo proved to be very difficult to find on my computer. So, I transformed a piece of paper I already had to be closely related. As I selected other green papers, I kept finding myself using the color palette as more of a guideline (2 darks, 1 medium, and 1 light).

Layout inspired by ColorCombo 52

Though the palette isn't exactly like the one I tried to emulate, I did find a pleasing color combination. I also decided to decrease the size of the outer mat. The layout seemed out of balance with the color choices I was making.

Since there is no rule that says I have to follow the template exactly, I modified it. I think this looks nice. I also played around with the title. I separated the location information out of the main title. I chose a tag embellishment and placed the information on it. This gave the layout more balance and flow. I also added a line of digital stitching to separate the upper border and the lower section. It was a nice touch.

The next color combination I decided to try was one with a black, brown, royal blue, and cream. This time, I thought about finding a piece of pattern paper that has some of these colors together.

Layout inspired by ColorCombo 11

I found a black paper with navy and cream pin stripes. I loved how that enhanced the quality of the dark top border. I tried looking for a medium brown similar to the sample color palette. I found quite a few browns with rich texture on it, but nothing closely matching the sample color. So, I decided to compare the browns to the black with pin stripe paper. By doing that, I finally found a brown that worked nicely. And, it was fairly close to the suggested color recommendation. Sometimes, changing how you look for paper (match to the color recommendation vs compliment to papers already selected) helps you pick the right one.

I loved how by placing the dark brown in the outer mat of the picture made it resemble a picture frame. When I used the dark brown as the title mat, I found the white text contrasted to the dark paper pleasing. Since the closer you come to a black and white color contrast increases the readability of writing in print, I knew this was a keeper.

The next question was what to do about the dark blue. I knew if I added another dark color to this layout that the papers would blend together as they wouldn't have enough visual contrast. So, I decided to use the blue as a guide (what type of blue, navy, blue-green, red-blue) and to find a lighter version of the color. I found a nice light, dark blue. When I added the piece as a background to the brown frame, the layout came alive. For the inner picture mat, I went a few shades lighter than the select blue and kept it a solid color. After adding a few accents, the layout came together nicely.
I hope this look into how I select a color scheme for a layout or album was beneficial. Whether your doing a paper or a digital scrapbook, it pays to play around with color combinations. Your favorites will vary from mine, but that's the beauty of it. Variation is the spice of life.

27 November 2012

Tombstone Tuesday: Captivating Old Stone of Lena M Root 1876 - 1966

Lena M Root
Dec 7, 1876 -  Sept 5, 1966
Asleep in Jesus

I don't know what it is about this stone in the Green Lawn Cemetery, but it is captivating. Though Lena M Root is not my direct ancestor, her stone is cool. But I also want to go back to Green Lawn and reset her stone properly on the base. Wish I had time and money to do such a thing. Oh well, perhaps someone will go to this cemetery in Columbus, Ohio and help Lena's stone out.

26 November 2012

Cousin Bait: Downing Hugh Young and Angeline Sherwood Marvin

I'm looking for photos and family history on Downing Hugh Young and Angie Marvin as well as their children. My genealogical connection is they are my third great-grandparents through their daughter Sarah Angeline Marvin.

I vital and census information about Downing and Angeline Young and their children his children. I would really like family stories and photographs. As well as information about their parents and siblings.

Here's what I know:

Downing Hugh Young
born 5 Sep 1816 in Buffalo Creek, Ohio, Virginia
died 16 Mar 1904 in New Haven, Huron, Ohio, United States

married on 4 Sep 1837 in Shelby, Richland, Ohio

Angeline Sherwood Marvin
born 10 Mar 1819 in Shelby, Richland, Ohio
died 22 Nov 1902 in New Haven, Huron, Ohio, United States

Downing and Angie Young had the following children:

Hersilla Josephine 'Cele' Young (17 Nov 1838 -1917)

Mary Abigail 'Mollie' Young
(8 Apr 1840 - 3 Jun 1868)

Dr. Elmira S 'Myra' Young (3 May 1841 - 7 Aug 1921)

Samuel Hinkley 'Hinck' Young (25 Aug 1842 - 20 Mar 1869)

Henry St. John Young (22 Oct 1843 - 8 Jan 1863)

Andrew Jackson Young (4 Feb 1845 - 2 Nov 1862)

Dr. Downing Howard Young (7 Oct 1846 - 10 Sep 1917)

Stephen Marvin Young (17 Mar 1848 - 1 Dec 1921)

Daniel Sherwood Young (5 Oct 1852 - 26 Jun 1870)

Sarah Angeline 'Angie' Young (28 Aug 1855 - 14 Oct 1931)

Grace Young (11 Mar 1865 - 13 Sep 1865)

Again, these folks are my 3rd great grandparents and their children. I would love to know more about their history, and potentially find photos. Perhaps someone will be searching for the Young ancestors and land on this blog. Perhaps the distant relative will be inspired to connect with me after reading this post.

I do have information a family history featuring Sarah Angeline Young as written by her daughter Elizabeth Young.

I am throwing this fishing line in the water in hopes of learning more about my heritage and fill in the gaps on my family tree.

Mystery Monday: Francis M Geisler unpublished family record

I was going through my mountain of research and paying close attention. I want to attach the scanned images I have to persons and events in RootsMagic. It is slow and tedious work. However, it amazes me what you can find when you look over your research multiple times.

I found a note on a record that said "Francis M Geisler, grandson of Martha Gordon Brown (both from Franklin County, Ohio) created an unpublished family record."

The person who created this citation is Eleanor Ranck Marcum. I corresponded with Eleanor in the early 1990s but I have since lost touch with her. Her husband apparently died in 2002. She could still be alive and well in Ohio. I am seeking out this contact information or a child, niece, or nephew who might know how she's doing.

In any case, my mystery is where is the unpublished family record that Francis M Geisler created? Francis died on Oct 15, 1972. It's entirely possible that his genealogical research was passed on to his children. I guess I might have to find out who they might be. Or, the research might have passed on to Eleanor. With Eleanor well into her 90s, does she still have her records? They were pretty thorough when I contacted her. Or did she pass this information along to someone else.

In writing this posting, I am hoping that a Geisler family member related to Frank or a Marcum relative related to Eleanor or her husband Leith Levi Marcum, might stumble along this post. Perhaps we can share information about the Brown and Gordon relatives. Ultimately, I'd love to know what was and what happened to Francis' research and to make sure Eleanor's research is well cared for.

Matrilineal Monday: What I know about Agnes Anderson

Do you have persons in your family tree that are hidden from you? Generally, women are the ones that hide because much of the past followed the lines of women. One of my elusive females was the birth mother of my grandmother Louise Eleanor Long.

For much of my life, my Grannie was not shy or bothered about the fact that she was adopted. I can't say the same for when my mother was growing up. She was a teenager when she learned her mother was adopted. In my Grannie's personal history, she told the story of when her own sister found out she was adopted. Her sister Peggy came barreling into their home with fumes coming out of her ears (okay, literary licenses, but Peggy was very upset). She said,"'Hey Louse, did you know we were adopted?"

Scan of original adoption papers for Marie Anderson,
of Franklin County, Ohio in 1925

In my Grannie's typical not easily provoked attitude, she replied, "So?" My grandmother adored her mother Lura Maude Smith and her father Harry Howard Long. If they didn't actually give birth to her, she didn't care. They were her parents and were so very, very kind to her.

Later in life, Louise did benefit from her birth mother. Her birth mother had a small estate and it was kept in a trust (I think that it was it was called) until Louise was an adult. In that trust, Louise inherited a home in Newark, Licking, Ohio. When Louise got married, she sold that property to purchase major items with her new husband Lewis Sherman Brown. I believe they bought their home at 716 Hanford Street in Columbus, Ohio.

So, who is Louise's birth mother? Her name is Agnes Anderson. And what's interesting is that Louise Eleanor Long was born Marie Agnes Anderson.

Scan of Agnes Anderson Original death Certificate

According to her death certificate, Agnes was single and about 36. No birth date is known. The informant was a hospital that's very hard to read. But in any case, keeping that in mind the additional personal facts are related. Her parents are Wm and Amanda (Sparks) Anderson of Evansville, Missouri.

Agnes worked, at the time of her death, as a clerk in the stenographer industry. She died of eclampsia after her daughter was born. Agnes is supposed to be buried in Newark, Ohio, but I've yet to find the cemetery. Side note: The baby did have residual effects of eclampsia, and was a very sickly baby. However, Agnes' sickly baby with no one in the world at her birth lived to nearly 92 years old and was loved by so very, very many.

My Grannie had in her possession the copy of her adoption papers. Again, she adored her parents and her birth mother was deceased, so she didn't pursue anything further about Agnes. She didn't feel there was any need. She was loved and well cared for. Nothing more of the story was needed. How very different Louise's attitude is from the many adopted persons of today who claim to be incomplete without knowing more about their birth parents.

Now, I'm seeking out the life of Agnes not because I need to know who she is to feel complete. I'm seeking out her life because a) I'm an amateur genealogist and the mystery bugs me and b) because I want Agnes to be remembered. If I don't, know one else really will.

From the original scan of adoption packet of Marie Anderson

As I said, I have adoption papers for Louise Long (aka Marie Anderson). In the packet, her adopted father indicated what he had learned about Agnes. According to what he had learned, Agnes was a stenographer and bookkeeper for B & O Railroad Company. (side note: My great-grandfather Geiszler worked for the same company as a pattern maker. Small world, or big industry in Ohio?)

The document goes on to say that Agnes' delivery of a child came as a big shock to those she worked with. She always 'bore a good reputation, was quite an industrious woman' so her having a baby was very unexpected. For some reason, though she had this baby out of wedlock, I like that statement. She was a hard worker and had a good reputation.

For years, that's all we've known about Agnes, until recently.

25 November 2012

Cousin Bait: Leon Philip Smith and Catherine Dague

I'm looking for information on Leon Philip Smith and Catherine Dague as well as their children. My genealogical connection is to their son Andrew Nelson Smith who is my second great-grandfather.

Andrew Nelson Smith had two wives. The first is Emmeline "Emma" Ward of Michigan and the second is Mary E (possibly Smith as well) of Ohio. I some information about Andrew and his children. I have some information about Andrew's parents Philip Smith hand Catherine Dague. I would like to learn more about my third great-grandparents and their children.

Here's what I know:

Leon Philip Smith
born 26 Feb 1834 in Amlin, Franklin, Ohio
died 25 Aug 1916 in Columbus, Franklin, Ohio

married first wife on 11 May 1852 in Amlin, Franklin, Ohio

Catherine Dague
born 11 Feb 1832 in Washington County, Pennsylvania
died 12 Feb 1859 in Franklin County, Ohio

Philip and Catherine Smith had the following children in Franklin County, Ohio:

Smith (1853 - 1853), a daughter

Andrew Nelson Smith (4 Oct 1855 - 20 Jun 1933)

Charles Allen Smith (4 Aug 1858 - 29 May 1944)

married second wife about 1860 in Amlin, Franklin, Ohio

Mary E (possibly Smith)

born about 1834 in Washington County, Pennsylvania
died 7 Feb 1889 in Columbus, Franklin, Ohio

Philip and Mary had the following children in Franklin County, Ohio:

Dr. McKendree C Smith (27 Dec 1862 - 27 Mar 1928)

Orlando M Smith (11 Mar 1865 - 26 Apr 1928)

Louella Smith (21 Sep 1868 - 2 Apr 1929)

Again, these folks are my 3rd great grandparents and their children. I'm would love to know more about their history, and potentially find photos. Perhaps someone will be searching for the Dague or Smith ancestors and land on this blog. Perhaps the distant relative will be inspired to connect with me after reading this post.

I do have information on Andrew Nelson Smith and Emmeline Ward's children Lura Maud and Earl that I am happy to share.

I am throwing this fishing line in the water in hopes of learning more about my heritage and fill in the gaps on my family tree.

23 November 2012

Photo Friday: The Power of a Black Background

As a genealogist, I want to capture the life my ancestors. More than know their vital statistics, I want to know who they were. I believe their 'stuff' tells a lot about who they are/were. I have been on a quest to improve my novice photography skills to help family heirlooms and personal mementos can help tell the story of my loved ones, and myself.

During this quest, I've learned many things. When shooting still photography indoors:
  • Generally do not use the flash
  • Use a tripod
  • Experiment with macro settings
  • Lower the ISO value to sharpen the image
  • Try different angles to see what lighting works best.
But this post isn't about those things. It was nice to review them. This post is about how I believe a black background can be VERY powerful. Here is just a sampling of the photos that I have fallen in love with on a black background. (FYI: You'll probably see these photos again in future posts, but they look really good as a collection).

Neckerchief Slide
Neckerchief Slide
f/3.5, exp 1/4 sec, ISO 80

Pageant Shoes
Pageant Shoes
f/3.5, exp 1/80 sec, ISO 250

Academic Letter
Academic Letter
f/7.1, exp 1/2 sec, exp bias -1, ISO 100

1980s Charm Necklace
1980s Charm Necklace
f/3.5, exp 1/2 sec, exp bias -0.7, ISO 100

Worn Ballet Slippers
Ballet Slippers
f/5, exp 1/5 sec, exp bias -0.3, ISO 100

Prairie Diamond
Prairie Diamond
f/5, exp 1/4 sec, exp bias -0.3, ISO 100

I hope you can see how amazing these items look against the black background. I wouldn't have discovered this unless I was willing to just play around with background colors, camera settings, and more. 

Since Thanksgiving is next week and many people visit their families during that time, I have a challenge for you. Gather a few family heirlooms and take a few photos of them. Use a light box or natural light. Try out different background colors in your lightbox, such as black. While you're at it, be sure to find out the stories behind the artifacts. I can't wait to hear the results of your Thanksgiving photo sessions.

22 November 2012

Thankful Thursday... The Magnitude of My Discovery

Oh my stars! I just did a rough calculation of all amount of information that I obtained from a research trip to Ohio in May of this year. I was only half kidding when I off-handedly said that I had enough information to last me for years. I honestly have enough information that I don't know how I will ever process it and still be able to keep up with all the new information coming in.

I know, I know. Many people will say, "If only I had this problem." Well, this is a blessing and a curse. I have excited so many people about their family lines, they want to know 'have you found anything new?' Don't get me wrong, I love sharing. I just feel so bad saying, "I'm still processing everything from May. But yes, I have found new things. I'll share it later." What if 'later' is 4 years from now? Yikes!

Narrative for Sherman Lewis Brown
Narrative for Sherman Lewis Brown

Now, it's entirely possible that I'm doing this the wrong way. I'll grant that I don't know everything. Let's just say, that right now I'm trying to write the 'life' about the people based upon the new information. I have used the narrative report generator from Roots Magic. I pulled in the facts, notes, and source information from the database as it pertains to the family members I'm writing about. There's something wrong with the way my computer processes the RTF file. Someday I will figure it out. In short, I have to create a PDF then copy that into Open Office Writer. I can then connect the footnotes, index the person (see gray boxes in image above), and develop the story even further.

Source citations for Sherman Lewis Brown
Source citations for Sherman Lewis Brown

Much of the new information I have needs to be sourced better. That involves a lot of work. For instance, when using's city directories, the citation is not record specific. I have linked Sherman Lewis Brown to 30 years of city directories. However, I have to manually source the citation to refer to the specific city directory. That takes a LOT of time. (Not complaining. Just sharing what's taking so long).

So from correcting source citations, changing Ibids to cross-references numbers, and tying the facts of his life together in a story form, I have spent all of my free time this week on one person alone. If I calculate the math for the narrative for my mother and her direct ancestors, I'm overwhelemed. There are 52 individual parent combinations in this narrative that only goes back six generations from mom. If it takes me a week per individual of these combinations, that is a year. That doesn't include the stories of the couple's children. It doesn't include new family members that I've learned about (including going back additional generations) Mind you, that's using every minute of my spare time on this one family. I still have my father's family (with many anxious relatives wanting to know more).

Additionally, I create scrapbooks for my living family, photograph memorabilia, and create heritage scrapbooks. Plus, there is more information coming in every day.

I can't say I don't love it. Because honestly I'm excited that there is so much to work on. I just hope my living family members, who have shared so much with me already, will appreciate that I really do have information that will take a minimum of 4 years to process into a 'story'. Thankfully I can share bits and pieces on this blog. I can also share some things through email. It will be slow for the person who wants to see fruits of my labor. For me, it will be more 'slow and steady wins the race'.

So truly, I am thankful for everything I have to process. I know others would LOVE to have my problems. I know that if I'm caring for my hubby and children and the writing takes even longer, my distant relatives will understand and applaud my efforts. The difference is, now I'm not kidding when I say I have years worth of information from my trip in May combined with the research I have done since then.

Happy Thanksgiving. May we all be grateful for the 'problems' our genealogy research entails.

21 November 2012

Digital Hertiage Albums: Creating a Cover

Creating the opening page for a family history album sets the stage for what the content of the heritage scrapbook will be about. Whether you create the page first or after the content is composed, the key is to make the cover invite a reader into the book.

I thought it would be beneficial for you to see the process I go through to create a cover page. This heritage album will be an ancestor album for my great aunt Elizabeth Smith. An ancestor album would be one that focused on all the Ancestors of a particular individual. It would include family trees, timeline, and biographies of each of Elizabeth's ancestors until I reach the farthest person on her family tree. This project would vary in length depending upon how many ancestors I knew about for Elizabeth.

The cover page would need to include:
  • “Ancestors of Elizabeth Smith” name as a title.
  • An appropriate subtitle would include her geographic location and her birth and death date.
  • And a photo

This is such a nice photo and would work nicely for the album.

 With these items in mind, I can begin the process of finding an appropriate template. Searching for single photo scrapbook turns up a lot of options. However, I have a reserve of templates to draw from as well. As you'll see, I found many options.

Template Name: Tracy
I'd love to give credit for this template once
I remember who created it.

I don't rule out layouts that include more than one photos. This one called Tracey. I can see myself, taking out the tilted photo and enlarging the photo on the right. I would use the short ribbon strips on the side for location information. Since this is a cover page, I could go a little heavy on the embellishments. The title and subtitle locations are placed nicely and will work for my needs. And there is even more places for additional digital scrapbook papers and embellishments.

The more I look at this and look at Elizabeth's picture, the more I'm leaning for lesson busy embellishments. Too much digital product would take away from her elegance. So, I'll look at another template.

Scrapbook Page Sketch 027,

I found this sample in the Single Photo Scrapbook Page Sketches gallery on the I like the larger picture element. Perhaps I could make this work and take out some of the embellishments, but I am going to keep looking.

Scrapbook Page Sketch 108,

Here is another template from the same gallery.I like the large picture spot. I would consider actually merging the white box next to the 4x6 spot with the 4x6 photo spot. There is not too many embellishments to detract from Elizabeth's picture. This is definitely one to consider.

Template Name: AngelI'd love to give credit for this template once
I remember who created it.

I saved this template to my computer a long time ago but have forgotten where it came fom. It has potential. I could make the big title say Elizabeth. Then I could use the addition title space for the remainder of the book's identification information. I would delete the upper text box entirely. And, I would transform the picture box to a portrait orientation to accommodate the vertical picture that I have. It has potential, but I don't think it's as strong as the one above. I'll keep looking.

Template Title: January 24, 2010

I found another template. This one is heavy on the embellishments. I could scale the embellishments down and increase the size of the portrait oriented picture. This would work nicely for a heritage album cover page. I'd have to figure out my own placement for the title, but as the embellishments scale down, room for the title would certainly be available.

Becky Higgins Sketch with my elements in place

Okay, time for the 'standard' in scrapbooking Becky Higgins Sketches. I love Becky's sketches so much that I keep going back to her books again and again. I've even played around with this layout a bit. I love the simplicity of it. I can add more embellishments as necessary. However, I felt that I did want to have a little more pizzazz.

Template 9
No Reimer Reason

Now it's time to visit one of my favorite template designers No Reimer Reason. Catchy name. I found an elegant cover page template with a little pizzazz. Just enough but not to distracting. I love the circular photograph placement. Since this is a digital scrapbook, I can make a circular photo without damaging my priceless heirloom original photograph. Got to love that. Now, I'm again going to employ the adapt to fit my own needs trick of scrapbooking. Sure this template works for four photos. But who says I can't just put in one? No one. So... here's what I came up with.

As you can see I tweaked the layout to fit my needs. It still closely resembles the initial template but I made it fit the needs of my family history album. It's simple, yet elegant. You can't help but focus on the gorgeous photo of Elizabeth.

I hope my process of creating a Heritage Album Cover Page was helpful. Whether you create the cover page at the start of  your creative journey or at the end, take time to make a cover page for your family history album that invites a reader in with eager anticipation.

20 November 2012

Tombstone Tuesday: A Second Collection of Berkhemer Tombstones

As I mentioned in the previous Tombstone Tuesday post, I don't like to add a second photo to a Find A Grave memorial if there is a decent one available. However, I want to share my grave stone pictures. I figured, this is why I have a blog. To share my stuff, right?

So here is a second collection of gravestones for the Berkhemer plot in Green Lawn Cemetery, just in case anyone is interested.

Walter Berkhemer
1895 - 1931
Section 75, Green Lawn Cemetery
Find A Grave Memorial #18063210
Christian F Berkhemer
1862 - 1918
Section 75, Green Lawn Cemetery
Find A Grave Memorial # 18063247
Elizabeth Berkhemer
1868 - 1954
Section 75, Green Lawn Cemetery
Find A Grave Memorial # 18063267
This also serves as a reminder to follow-up with the Find A Grave Memorial manager to ensure these folks are linked together. Call me crazy, but it's important to me even though they are not my direct ancestors.

19 November 2012

Mystery Monday... Two Families in Same Neighboring?

While examining various City Directories and Census records, I have begun to pay attention to the additional details available, such as street addresses. I need to confess that I also get lost in collateral lines A LOT. But sometimes being lost in the collateral branches show very interesting stories.

I love this photo of a person on the front porch.
One of these stories deals with was seemingly unrelated neighbors who actually are 'family' later in life. To begin with, my grandmother Louise Eleanor Long married Lewis Sherman Brown in February 1940. They lived in my mother's early childhood home of 716 Hanford Street, Columbus, Ohio. I love this old picture in the late 1940s. My mother has many fond memories here and can tell you which room was her's, her sister's, her parent's, etc.

My mother married into the Geiszler family. As such, I research the Geiszler line often. One of the members of the Geiszler familyis Aleta Philomena Bower. There is an interesting story about why she's sometimes referred to as Aleta Kirchner, but that's for another day. Aleta is the wife of my father's grand uncle named William Joseph Geiszler. Now, William and his brother George Joseph Geiszler had a falling out during their adult years. So William's children and George's children didn't really grow up in association with each other.

Regardless of the distance these families put between themselves emotionally, I still research them. And, I suppose Aleta really isn't that collateral of a family member. As I was researching Aleta, I discovered that in 1949 she lived at 226 Hanford Street. 226 Hanford Street is less than 1 mile from 716 Hanford Street where my grandmother Louise lived. In one sense of the word, they were neighbors. Not immediate neighbors, but certainly close enough to be considered in the same neighborhood.

Two ancestors only one mile apart

In any case, Aleta would have been 70 and a widow of 14 years. Louise would have been 29 with a young family. With the age variance and distance between their homes, it's quite likely that they did not associate. However,   Aleta lived near Moeller Park. Moeller Park was often mentioned in my mother's memories, so Louise probably took her young girls to that Park. It's possible that these two neighboring families at least saw each other in passing. They could never have imagined that their families would have been joined in marriage some 20+ years later when Aleta's grand nephew married Louise's daughter. And, it's interesting that it would be Aleta's grand nephew that she didn't have close ties too. This just fascinates me.

It just goes to show that our ancestor's world was much smaller than we think.

Here's another interesting piece of information. Between Aleta's house and Louise's home was Parson's Avenue was Parson's Avenue. Parsons Avenue stands out to me because Louise's father-in-law had a Automotive Shop in the 1910s. The shop would have been a little over 1 mile south of the Hanford / Parson intersection.

18 November 2012

Cousin Bait: Oscar Ward and Jeanette or Genette

I'm looking for information on Oscar Ward and Jeanette or Genette as well as their children. My genealogical connection is to their daughter Emmeline "Emma" Ward, who is my second great-grandmother.

Emma married Andrew Nelson Smith in  Tuscola, Michigan and they moved to Ohio. I have information about Emma's marriage and death. I do not have information about her parents and brother besides what I've found in the US Census records. I would like to learn more about my third great-grandparents and their son.

Here's what I know:

Oscar Ward
born about 1836 in New York
residence in 1850 East Genesee, Genesee, Michigan
residence in 1860 Thetford, Genesee, Michigan
residence in 1870 Thetford, Genesee, Michigan

married after 1860 Possibly in Michigan

Jeanette (or Genette)
born about 1840 in Michigan
residence in 1870 Thetford, Genesee, Michigan

Oscar and Janette Ward had the following children:

Emma Ward (20 Aug 1866 - 8 Mar 1893)

George H Ward (abt 1870 - )

Again, these folks are my 3rd great grandparents and an uncle. I'm would love to know more about their history, and potentially find photos. Perhaps someone will be searching for Andrew Nelson Smith or the Ward ancestors and land on this blog. Perhaps the distant relative will be inspired to connect with me after reading this post.

I do have information on Andrew Nelson Smith and Emmeline Ward's children Lura Maud and Earl that I am happy to share.

I am throwing this fishing line in the water in hopes of learning more about my heritage and fill in the gaps on my family tree.

16 November 2012

Photo Friday: Trying Different Colored Backgrounds

Last week, I showed a sample of my attempts to photograph objects using different background colors. I have another brief installment to share.

Photographing Boy Scout Slides
f/3.5, exp 1/10 sec, exp bias +1, ISO 80, Center Weight Average Metering

I propped up this neckerchief slide inside a light box. To do this, I placed a piece of fiber fill in the box and then covered it with a white cloth. I put the slide in front of the cloth so it could lean against the soft support. This looks really nice. However, I really want the white slide to stand out from the background. White on white rarely has the contrast necessary to pop the object. So, I decided to try the high contrast of a black backdrop.

Photographing Boy Scout Slides
f/3.5, exp 1/4 sec, ISO 80, Pattern Metering

I LOVE it. Sure, I could have created some sort of prop, but to me, I like the contrast of the white object on the black background.

When deciding which background to use, I don't have a hard and fast rule. I do know that it depends on a) your particular taste and b) how much contrast you want. A colored background can be used to set a mood or tell a story (such as a red background to represent a sorority's colors).

Play around and experiment. I am so glad I learned about playing around with the camera settings in the lesson from my friend regarding the trophies. I see how it is starting to pay off.

Follow Friday: Elizabeth's Blog Inspires Me, and the reasons why

I haven't begun to intensively share my family history research, but when I do, I want to do it in a similar fashion as Elizabeth from the blog From Maine to Kentucky. I have been following Elizabeth's blog for sometime now. I have no relation to her, but I wish I did. She writes in such away that wishes we were collaborating on the same family lines.

Header for From Maine to Kentucky

I could just post that and be done with it. For me, that doesn't tell you exactly why I like Elizabeth's blog so much. So, I'm going to list some of my favorite blog posts from her page. Hopefully you'll quickly see why she inspires me so much.

Matrilineal Monday ~ Sarah Lowell 

In this post, Elizabeth discusses what she knows about great great grandmother Sarah Lowell. I like how she gives you the details, and why it is correct. I also like when she inserts what she doesn't know or hasn't found. For example, in the first paragraph she says:
"I have not been able to find her widowed mother, Sarah (Smith) Lowell in the 1840 Federal Census, though I just found her in the 1850 Federal Census, mis-indexed as Sarah Lowde."
 It's simple, yet very effective. She tells you who Sarah's mother is, what research is missing, and how to find Sarah's mother, all in one sentence. That's amazing.

Throughout out this post, she includes other information about Sarah that one would find on a family group sheet with 'documentation citations'. However, the way she takes this information 'off the chart' and makes it easily readable is great. I like how she uses a combination of short and long paragraphs, as well as simple lists. She inserts close-ups of the Census and obituatry files, without including 'too much' information. And her citations are brief and too the point.

She wraps up the post with a quick relationship chart. It's not fancy, but it gets the point across.

As you see the remaining posts I share, you'll see the same elements repeated again and again.

Sunday's Obituary ~ Arville Chapin Adsit

In this post, Elizabeth shares the obituary of Arville Chapin Adsit. She has a large enough photo to read the image but also includes a transcription of the obituary. I like how she placed the source as a lead in to the actual obituary image. I would have placed the information under the photo as a caption. However, this simple element, looks a lot better. It's amazing what a small thing like source placement can do for a reader. To me, the source became important and not visually distracting, and therefore, overlooked.

The other reason why I liked this post, is because it links back to previous posts about Mr. Adsit. I have a tendency to put all the facts and documents together in one post. I see now that by separating the information, she breaks up the flow of information. In essence, she gives more weight to the obituary, rather than loosing it in a sea of factual information. (Perhaps there are ulterior motives to breaking things up. I don't know. But I like things broken up)

For another example of 'breaking up' the information in a simple, but powerful way, visit: An 1873 Wedding Invitation ~ Wedding Wednesday

Error in 1940 Census ~ No Charles Pyle 

 I remember the excitement of having the 1940 US Census released. People couldn't wait to find their ancestors. They found the enumeration district and anxiously waited for the images to be online. Perhaps I'm lazy, I didn't want to go through all of that effort. (It could also be that I have five active young children.) So, I waited for the Census to be indexed and found my relatives later. In any case, many people posted about their discoveries and how excited they were. Elizabeth posted about her disappointment. 

She discussed item, by item, all the errors she found and why she knew them to be errors. And there were a lot of errors. I loved when she wrote, "I wasn't expecting any major revelations in this census record, but I certainly wasn't expecting as many errors as I found."

I felt her disappointment and perplexity about the whole find. Her post walked me through the experience and I felt like it was my family, my find, and my disappointment. Elizabeth rarely gets grandiose in her writing. She's direct and effective. Yet, the emotions spoke volumes in this post of few words.

Mystery Monday ~ Susan Rood's Parents 

True to Elizabeth's overall style, she shares information about the brickwall known as Susan Rood's parents. She briefly layouts why she's having trouble in her research and a new question to evaluate. I could use her post as a guide to share my own brick wall problems.

Amanuensis Monday ~ 1891 Death Certificate for Mary E. Ashby

I think thus far, this is my favorite post for information. Elizabeth keeps her simple, direct presentation of facts in this post. She shares the death certificate and it's transcription. She presents her relation to Mary Ashby where she found the record. It's a different presentation style than the obit of Mr. Adsit, but nonetheless effective. 

What I like about this post is that Elizabeth goes beyond the names and dates, that I do far too often. She looked in the city directory to find the listing for attending physician and the undertaker company. I would NEVER have thought about finding this information without this post. Elizabeth is a curious cat and has often answered many of my "Who Is" questions on Tombstone Tuesday. I wasn't surprised to see that she went beyond the traditional... 'find your family's information on the death certificate' to finding more about everyone listed on the death certificate, including the undertaker!

I could seriously link to more posts and share why I so enjoy Elizabeth's blog. She'll probably be shocked to know just how much her blog and writing style has impressed me. She's shown me how to be curious and concise. She's presented simple, yet effective ways to share what we know about our ancestors. She's included the citations in a direct, yet not annoying, manner. As I start writing and sharing more about the documentation and brick walls I have, I hope to follow Elizabeth's example as I do. I know I'll have a tendency to be 'long-winded,' as that is my natural state. However, with From Maine to Kentucky showing me that less can be more, I will find a good balance. 

Thank you Elizabeth for all you do for your family history and to inspire me as well.

14 November 2012

Digital Scrapbooking Basics... Another Color Palette Resource

I came across another fab fabulous resource for color combinations when you're trying to plan a family history album. This website is called Creative Color Schemes. The website seems targeted more towards those who would be printing their work. My heritage albums would eventually be printed, so this website is a dream.

When working in a family history scrapbook, you'll want to keep your color palette complimentary to the aged documents and sepia or black & white photos dominating your work. You'll want to stick with neutral and subdued colors so that the genealogical information does the talking. You'll find a wealth of color combinations on this website. If you want to do a scrapbook using current photos, this website can help you with that as well. So the point is, you'll have to keep the neutral nature of a family history album in mind when you're digging through this website.

Some of my favorite free color schemes are found on the beige tone, neutrals, black and white, warm, and even the elegant pages. Not all are suitable but you at least get a great starting point. Here are is a sample of the collection called beige tone:

Beige-tone-color combinations from Creative Color Schemes

I love the first row of three-color combinations. I also love maroon (also known as burgundy). So my other favorite combination is AKLN on the second row from the bottom.

As you can see, there are so many options in just this color palette. Just remember that a family history album looks well crafted when you use just one color scheme for the entire album. I also recommend you limit the color schemes to no more than four colors.

13 November 2012

Tombstone Tuesday: When Do You Post a Second Photo on Find A Grave?

Find A Grave Memorial 42970144

Once in awhile I come across a decent photo on for a memorial. I have a second photo which is more close up, but not always 'better' (i.e. see the bird dropping stains below). In any case, I don't feel it is nice to post a second picture on Find A Grave when the first one is decent. If my picture is superior, then I will post a second one. Otherwise, why create bad vibes?

So, I'll just post my second photo here just in case someone is out searching the internet for their relatives and want a second version of the grave marker. (And maybe I should use a photo editing program to clean up those bird droppings)

Stephen P. Mayer
Dec. 16, 1857 - Oct. 23, 1922

Adaline Mayer
1861 - Jun. 30, 1932

10 November 2012

Surname Saturday: Mack and Puesecker in Gillersheim

Latitude/Width 51°37'48"N (51.63482°)
Longitude/Length 10°6'0"E (10.09507°)
Thanks to the extension of my family tree collaterally, I know that my 3rd great-grandmother Caroline Mack Geißler Billmann's family is from Gillersheim in Germany. I know that Caroline's family traveled to America with the Pusecker family. They settled in Franklin County, Ohio. Caroline's half-brother Heinrich Ludwig Mäck (who's American name was simply Henry Louis Mack) married Caroline Wilhelmine Pusecker. Caroline Pusecker Mack's brother Ludewich Puesecker had the key to the past. On his gravestone, the town of origin was listed as Gillersheim. So, my 3rd great-grandmother's sister-in-law's brother had the key that connected the two families to a specific town in Germany. (Before I forget, they left Germany in 1854. I discovered that there was a Census in 1852. I will definitely need to check into this).

My cousin David did a lot of digging and found a website where he could contact someone about church records in Gillersheim. I'll have to write more about that research later. He did a great job.

What I hope to do is understand Gillersheim a little better. First, I tried to figure out where Gillersheim is located. I found the geo code for the city. The current population of the town is 1,400 persons. That town size is pretty tiny for today's standards. My guess is that it wasn't ever really big in the past. Now this fact might help the research of my family stay focused. But learning the history of the town might be very difficult, even for a town founded 907 years ago (around 1105). I also learned present day Gillersheim is approximately 87 km (54.2 miles) from Hannover.

Route from Gillersheim (A) to Hannover (B)
Since the proximity to Hannover is so close, I could learn more about the history of Hannover and assume that much of it carried over to my relatives who lived in Gillersheim. I know that when they became citizens of the United States, they said they were of the Kingdom of Hannover. So, that supports my assumption to a degree.

I'll step back a bit. I was able to find a link to This website tells me about the current activities that happen in this small town. I found a BEAUTIFUL modern day photo of Gillersheim that is really breath taking. Take a look.

Gillersheim seen from the east, from the air (
Although this website was helpful in giving me a picture of this beautiful place, I'm still struggling to know more about the town's history. Specifically around the time of 1850. I suppose I'll have to go back to the Hannover history I mentioned before.

According to Wikipedia's entry for the Kingdom of Hannover, the kingdom was founded in 1814. That's 40 years before my 3rd great-grandmother Caroline departed the country with her family. Her father Heinrich Andreas Mack would have been 3 and her brother's father-in-law Karl Frederich Puesecker would have been 6. This time period was after the Napolean Wars. The Kingdom was part of the German Confederate and was part of an alliance with the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland in 1837. Both of these facts I know nothing about. I see more historical research in my future. The Kingdom was conquered by Prussia in 1866, but my immigrant family members would have been in America for 12 years. I wonder what family members may have been left behind.

The Lutheran church was the state church of the Kingdom of Hanover with the King the governor of the church. That explains why my Mack and Pusecker relatives were Lutheran in the United States of America. My 3rd great-grandmother married Joseph Geißler who was a Catholic. Apparently a HUGE no-no at the time. But, that would mean that Joseph was probably not from Hannover. Caroline must have met him some where along the time continum from when she left Gillersheim until she married Joseph in 1856. Did she meet him on the ship? I don't think so as Joseph's not on that ship's manifest. Did she meet him on the journey from Balitmore to Ohio? Did she met him once she arrived in Columbus? I really don't know but the mystery is VERY exciting.

In 1848, an organizational shift took place within the Lutheran church. Now a church board (made of parishioners) would work with each congregation's pastor. I wonder how Henirich Mack (now 37 and married to his second wife, my grandmother Caroline was 10) and Karl Puesecker (now 40 and married to his first wife) felt about this.

With all of this great information, I still want to know more about what was happening in Gillersheim, Hannover and Germany in the 1850s. Why would Heinrich and Karl take their family on a journey from Bremen to Baltimore and then from Baltimore to Columbus, Ohio? Sure there were pamphlets being distributed throughout Germany about the opportunities available in America. But was there something else that drove my German immigrants and their friends to leave the scenic Gillersheim for the unknown?

Again... more research awaits me in the future. But at least I've been able to encapsulate what I know at present.