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28 December 2012

Photo Friday: Will now be Treasure Chest Thursday and Photo Challenges

It's time to get out your memorabilia and preserve the memories
It's time to get out your memorabilia and preserve the memories
The year is coming to a close and I'm already thinking ahead to next year. I am thinking about all the artifacts that I have photographed and still need to photograph. I am thinking about the New Year's Resolutions many friends will be making to declutter their homes. So, I thought it was fitting to make some changes and issue some challenges.

My focus on documenting the 'stuff' of myself and my ancestors has been to help convey information to my children and grandchildren about their ancestors more than names and dates. I'm also tired of the 'stuff' being hidden in drawers and antics where no one sees them. It's time to celebrate the stuff that make up the full story of the persons on our family trees. With that in mind, my Photo Friday posts will change to Treasure Chest Thursday starting in January. 

Many of my Treasure Chest Thursday posts will share photography tips I've learned as I have photographed my memorabilia. Some posts will be about the stories behind the objects in my collection. And other posts will invite you to participate in Treasure Chest Thursday through a series of Challenges.

As you accept the challenges for each month, I hope you will be inspired to document and share the stories about the 'stuff' in your personal and family history collections. Additionally, I hope you'll learn more about photography and it will benefit your genealogical research efforts.

To participate in Treasure Chest Thursday Challenges, you would need to post a photo of an artifact that fits the monthly theme. For each post, please share a memory about the item or a historical facts. Additionally, share how you photographed the object and what you learned from the experience. Don't be afraid to share what you did wrong and wish you had done differently. When you've finished your post, click on the challenge page. There will be a widget to share your post and it's associated link. I hope this will make sharing your posts stress free. 

Here's the list of topics for 2013:
  • January - Baby Items
  • February - Shoes
  • March - Fad Items
  • April - Crafts
  • May - High School
  • June - Lapel Pins
  • July - Hats
  • August - Wall Art
  • September - Patches / Insignias
  • October - Sculptures
  • November - Brand Names
  • December - Religious Items
I am excited about the changes to Treasure Chest Thursday. I hope you'll find enjoyment in each challenge and we can all learn and grow together in the knowledge of the mementos of our lives. So get out your camera, a tripod, and your stuff. We have some photography and story telling to do this year. 

Best Wishes for 2013!

26 December 2012

Heritage Scrapbooking: Using Mini Trees On Your Layouts

Previously, I shared how invaluable a family tree is in a heritage scrapbook album. (Click HERE to revisit these posts.).I hope you'll include them in your future family history creations. One of my friends says she includes family trees in all of her journals, blog books (printed versions of her personal blog), and more. Why? In case her journals or books are ever 'lost' from the collection. A person reading the book can quickly know just who created these items in the first place.

That habit reminded me of something I talk about in my book Creating a Family History Scrapbook Digitially in 12 Simple Steps. When creating a scrapbook about a focal person, it pays to use small family trees throughout the project. This helps your scrapbook reader quickly associate the person on the particular scrapbook page to others in the book. Take a look.

Adding family trees to scrapbook layouts
Use small family trees in your scrapbooks

I really like including mini-trees throughout my family history projects. This mini-family tree includes my grandmother Louise Eleanor Long. It shows the names and dates for her parents and sister. I also love the metal book plate and green brads embellishment that shares when the family was established.

Now, you're probably thinking, "Let me see the big picture because this doesn't really look like much." Alright, here it is.

Family History Scrapbook layout with mini family tree
Heritage Page about Harry Howard Long

Now you can see the mini-tree pulling it's weight. This digital scrapbook page features my mother's Grandpa Howard Lester Long. I included a photo of him and his wife when they were young adults. I included a photo of when Harry was older and looked more like the man who raised Louise. I included a brief biographical sketch of Harry in the journaling space. With the mini-tree, I have shown pertinent vital information in an eye pleasing way.

On the pages prior to this page, I featured the husband and wife combination of Lewis Brown and Louise Long and two pages featuring Lewis' parents (see next page). Once my reader lands on the page above, they can quickly see that I'm not talking about the Brown family any longer. I'm talking about Louise's Long family. Pretty effective.

Family History Scrapbook layout with mini family tree
Mini Tree for Sherman Lewis Brown

This family has more children, so it takes up more space on the page layout. I decided not to include embellishments on this mini-tree and leave off the family establishment date. This gave me enough room to include middle names for the children, but not the parents. Here is the mini-tree in action

Family History Scrapbook layout with mini family tree
Scrapbook page featuring Sherman Lewis Brown

 As you can see, the mini-tree is larger than the previous one. To balance out this visual block, I included only one photo of Sherman Lewis Brown. I still have a brief biographical sketch of Grandpa Sherman in the journaling block.

The other thing I did was to highlight Lewis Sherman Brown in the descendant list. I wanted to assist my reader in knowing how this page relates to the previous ones in the heritage album. This page is sandwiched between a two-page layout featuring Lewis and Louise Brown (my mother's parents) and another two-page layout featuring Harry and Lura Long (my mother's maternal grandparents, the first layout in this post). By highlighting Lewis Sherman on Sherman Lewis' page, you can see the progression 'up' the family tree quickly.

I noticed that with larger numbers of children, the highlighting is easily seen. Where as on Louise's family tree, with two children, the highlighting didn't stand out as much. Perhaps I could have used different colors. Or perhaps, with more children, the contrast color looks intentional.

As I was posting this, I realized I needed to update the box for Grannie Louise to reflect her death date. I'll put that on my to do list, but a archival safe pen will do the trick for now in the printed album. (See my post about not being afraid to create because information changes).

As you can see, mini-trees are effective tools to help your reader quickly know who is related to whom. Try it out on your next scrapbook page. Share a link to your post or gallery where you used this technique in the comments below.

25 December 2012

Tombstone Tuesday: Ernest Geisler

Merry Christmas...

Wouldn't it be great if this stone was more directly related to my Geiszler family relatives? It's possible but I can't prove it at this time. However, I know that this Geisler (no Z) is collaterally related to the Brown side of my family.

Ernest C and Nancy Ellen Geisler
Sec 12, Lot 136, Grave 3
Obetz Cemetery, Obetz, Ohio

Ernest's Find A Grave Memorial is # 16855691

24 December 2012

Cousin Bait: John W Long and Hannah Patterson Moore

I'm looking for information on John W Long and Hannah Pattterson Moore as well as their children. My genealogical connection is they are my third great-grandparents through their son
William Lester Long.

I have some information about John and Hannah Long and their children. I would really like more documentation, family stories, and photographs.

Here's what I know:

John W Long

born 16 Feb 1805 in Lycoming County, Pennsylvania
died 8 Oct 1870 in New Haven, Huron, Ohio, United States

married on 31 Dec 1845 in Clearfield County, Pennsylvania

Hannah Patterson Moore

born 4 Aug 1841 in Clearfield County, Pennsylvania
died 14 Jun 1897 in New Haven, Huron, Ohio, United States

John W Long and Hannah Patterson Moore  had the following children:

Mary Long (1848 -)

Dr. William Lester Long (22 Jan 1849 - 28 Feb 1925)

Winfield Scott Long (Nov 1850 - )

Mary E Long (30 Apr 1851 - 6 Feb 1930)

Clara Adeline 'Addie' Long (16 Jun 1853 - 21 Jan 1938)

Francis Henry 'Frank' Long (27 Apr 1855 - 8 Feb 1933)

Charles A Long (Apr 1860 - 1861)

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 Long 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 about William Lester Long 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.

21 December 2012

Photo Friday: Use a Model For Personal or Historical Clothing

In past Photo Friday series, I have shown a lot of small objects. This week I want to go in a little different direction. This time, I wanted to show off some shirts and clothing that I've saved since high school. Believe it or not, I'm going to dispose of these items as they've been stored in a box for 20 years and aren't ever going to be out on display. It's time to part with the items. However, when I do a scrapbook about my life, or my husband's, these objects will certainly need to be included in the story.

IF the items I had were from my grandparents (such as a military uniform, wedding dress, festive attire, etc) I wouldn't be so eager to toss the clothing items. However, these items are 'that special'. They just help tell the story of who I was as a young person by showing off what I wore.

In preparing for these artifacts, I tried to lay them flat or put them on a hangar. They just never looked right. I did a little research about photographing T-Shirts on the internet and I kept coming across articles targeted at people wanting to sell their shirts on eBay or Etsy. Their number one hint for shirts is using a model. So, I decided to give it a try.

I set-up a PVC stand that my husband made and draped a LARGE piece of white muslin across the top and onto the floor. I felt like I had a 'real studio' (except I didn't have expensive lights). I placed my camera on a tripod and did a custom white balance adjustment. The following will show you my collection of items on myself and a surprise model at the end.

Use a model to photograph a T-Shirt for inclusion in a scrapbook
Here's the first shirt.
The lightening isn't professional grade as there are a lot of shadows on the upper right sleeve. However, I really, really like the look.It's perfect for what I'm doing. You can read the words and know that I competed in the Miss San Jacinto USA pageant. However, the photograph is misleading. I actually competed in the teen division and won. Sure the tan and awesome physical shape is gone (hey, I've had 5 kids), but the shirt looks a lot better on me at my age now, than on the ground or other flat surface.

Use a model to photograph heirloom or memorabilia shirts
This shirt brings back memories
In 1994, the Houston Rockets beat the New York Knicks 4 games to 3 to win their first World Championship ever. That year the Hakeem Olajuwon was the MVP. I loved going to basketball games with my family. We would get discount tickets off packages of Rainbow Bread or from people my father worked with. I loved every aspect of the 'event' though I couldn't tell you everything about the actual sport. When the team won that year, it was pretty historic for Houston. We had been to the World Championships a few times before but lost to the Boston Celtics (with that 'awful' Larry Bird... ugh!) But now, we were victorious. After the next season, I stopped following professional basketball as the nature of the sport changed, and my interest changed as well. But having this shirt photographed, reminds me of something I enjoyed with my family and the victory the town had. If I couple this photo with front page newspaper stories, I will have an awesome scrapbook page for my personal history scrapbook.

Photograph the back of your heirloom and memorabilia shirts
Was the back of a shirt/costume interesting?
In another pageant I attended, the top four finishers became a court and did appearances together. I can't remember if every participant received shirts or only the finalists. In any case, I loved this shirt for the Miss Go Texan Pageant sponsored by the local radio station. I loved being a part of the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo in that capacity. It was so fun! If I only photographed the front of the shirt, it would have shown the small logo for the radio station. However, the back of the shirt had all the fun information. (And I love shirts with information on the back rather than the front, is it just me?) So, remember to take a photo of the back of your shirts.

Take a close up of your letterman jacket for use in a heritage scrapbook
My jacket had A LOT of patches

Do you want to know what activities I participated in high school? My letter-man jacket tells quite the story. Not to mention the untold story of my mother's sore fingers from putting all those patches on. I had so many letters that some of them were on the back side. My mother put patches for all the band and color guard competitions I attended down the sleeves. I also wore some of my solo & ensemble medals on the front of my jacket. Oh yeah, I was stylin'. Focus, Devon, focus.

You see? A letter-man jacket on a model shows the story of the person in the jacket. It comes to life on a model, while laid on a flat surface wouldn't have had the same effect. Yes I cropped off my head. Why? Because what I look like now doesn't matter. What matters is the jacket. So, I'm a headless wonder!

Use a model to photograph dance costumes for scrapbook
Dance costumes anyone?
Did you participate in dance, gymnastics, soccer, etc? Do you still have your uniforms and costumes? Now, getting into some of these clothing items might be more difficult than a jacket or T-Shirt. Perhaps you participated in these activities when you were 5. Or, it might still be easy (for me, this red dress was a cinch. Boy did that make this mother of 5 feel awesome). If you can't fit into the outfit, borrow someone else 'about your shape' to try on your costume if you need to. The point is, the flow of the skirt and the scatter of the rhinestones are featured better by having this dress on a model rather than a hangar.

Use a model to feature your costumes in a scrapbook
Get close up
With the costumes on a model, you can also zoom in on specific details and still have the essence of the artifact. My mother hand stitched these appliques onto another dance costume to 'jazz' it up. I really liked the added details. So get close to these mementos and show off the details in them.

Are you ready for the surprise model? Here he is!

Use a model to photograph sports memorabilia for scrapbooks and personal history
Karate or sports uniforms?
My husband had a few uniforms in our memory box as well. He still fits into his Tae Kwon Do uniform and gladly donned his attire. I really think having him in the outfit brought the artifact to life.

Use a model to photograph Tae Kwon Do outfits for scrapbooks
Show case your personality
The best tip from my husband was showing off his personality. He's had this personality since he was a young kid. So, for his photo shoot, he had to do an 'action' pose. He made sure to keep the pose within the frame of the photograph, but it really added personality to the artifact. When he puts this photograph on his personal history scrapbook page, he will invite his children and grandchildren to read the story behind the photo because of the 'attack pose'.

So the best tips I have this week are to use a model for your personal and heritage clothing items. Photograph them in front of a white sheet. Set your camera to custom white balance. Put your camera on a tripod and have at it. Play around and enjoy making the stories behind the artifacts comes to life.

IF you are unable to put an item on a live person (for whatever reason), see if you have a seamstress friend who could let your borrow her dress form for a few days. Be sure you ask during their 'off-season' time. You might find other ways on-line to 'make a mannequin' as well. The point is, use some kind of model for your clothing items. It really does make all the difference.

Heritage Scrapbooking: Don't Let The Fear of Change Stop You From Making Something

For the past two weeks, I've shown you two examples of family trees that you can use in your heritage scrapbook albums. For both pages, I have had them printed in bound photobooks. After they had been printed, I received additional photos. Now, what do I do? Why did I go through all the effort in the first place? Shouldn't I have been more afraid to print something because new information may become available?

Original Family Tree created for Lewis and Louise Brown

If I had made a paper scrapbook, the problem would be solved by quickly printing the appropriately sized copy of the photo and sticking it in place.  If I had printed single pages of my heritage album pages, I would print a new page and not have a problem. I would have no need to despair.  I would not let the fear of change stop me from making a scrapbook.

Since I have printed the heritage albums in a bound format, I have a decision to make. Do I reprint the book? Sounds scary, right? NO! Why? Reprinting digital scrapbooks is relatively inexpensive.

Let's take an example. In my mother's album, I did not have all of the photos for my family tree. I still printed the page, not knowing if I would ever have photos for that spot. I was determined to create something based on what I had, rather than what I may have someday.

Since printing the book, I have received photos of her great-grandparents Sherman Lewis Brown and Martha Gordon. Am going to reprint her album yet? Not yet. Her album is fairly accurate to this point. So, I'm going to leave it. If my brother wants a copy of the book I made, I'll be sure to include the new photos. Until then, I will update the tree image file and have it hang out here for my mom to enjoy. If I ever get around to creating books about my aunts, they'll have the updated version of the tree. Someday I'll have enough changes that my mother's album will need to be reprinted. Until then, I think her book is fine as it is, and I'll just print copies of the photos of her great-grandparents.

Update of Family Tree Scrapbook page
Update of Lewis and Louise Brown Family Tree;
now including Sherman Lewis & Martha Gordon Brown

The biggest reason why people don't create family history albums, besides not having the techno-know-how, is the fear of printing inaccurate information or receiving new information. If you have those concerns, then do single page printing of your digital scrapbook pages and store them in a page protector type album. Or do a paper scrapbook, but use copies of your photos and documents. Then you can easily reprint or alter pages when the need arises.

If you like bound albums, don't worry about the changes. When you have enough information to warrant a new 'edition' of the scrapbook, reprint it. The cost of printing digital scrapbooks is inexpensive these days, sometimes even free. It really isn't a factor. Don't worry about the 'wrong' copy being in the hands of generations forever. The purpose of the scrapbooks is for people today and is printed in small numbers.

The entire point of a family history scrapbook is to get information into a visual format that is pleasing to those family members who aren't as 'involved' in genealogy as we are. They need SOMETHING to refer to and say, "This is my family." They don't want a giant paper weight (at least not yet). They want something that gives them the basic facts and invites them to learn more.

So... don't let the fear of changes stop you from creating a family history scrapbook.

Check out my new book entitled  Creating a Family History Scrapbook Digitally in 12 Simple Steps. Available only through Amazon.

Funeral Friday: Eulogy for my mother Penny Brown Geiszler

My mother passed away on 10 Dec of this year. Since I created a family history scrapbook about her life (or 'wrote the book on her' so to speak), I delivered the eulogy at her memorial service. Many friends and family were unable to attend the wonderful celebration of her life. I share this eulogy, modified slightly to protect the living, so all many celebrate the life of my sweet momma.

"My mom was loved by many people near and far. She also never did things the easy way. Passing away during the busiest time of the year, strains the schedules of many. Good news though, she got her Christmas cards out!

Penny Brown
Penny Brown, 6 months old

My mother was born after my Grandpa Lew returned home from serving as a mechanic during World War II in India. She was welcomed into the home by an older sister and her mother Louise Long. Penny had an average American upbringing in an average American town. Lew was a Bowling Lanes manager and later became a home delivery milkman in Ohio. For the most part, Louise was a stay at home mom. Lew and Louise raised their daughters near German Village in Columbus Ohio. And they enjoyed Ohio State University football, where Lew often worked as an usher.

Columbus Hurrican Baton Twirler
Penny as Baton Twirler for the
Columbus Hurricanes Drum & Bugle Corp

When Penny entered her teenage years, she was boy crazy and loved being a part of the Columbus Hurricane Drum and Bugle corps as a baton twirler. She was looking forward to graduating in 06-66. At the age of 12, her baby sister was born. Penny won a bet with her daddy to name her sister. Thankfully she didn't pick a strange name, though she's been known to think of a few weird ones. (For instance, I could have been named CynnamyRayn... all those y's). 

Daughters of Lewis Sherman Brown and Louise Eleanor Long
Penny and her sisters in the late 70s
In December of 1966, mom met my dad. Mom loved telling the story about how she was dating a guy named “Moose”. They went to a dance at a roller skating rink. Moose told my dad, a roadie for a rock band, to hold my mother for a minute. I guess Daddy didn't hear the 'minute' part. Penny forgot about Moose and was married to Robert Geiszler the following September.

Penny Brown and Robert Geiszler
Penny Brown and Robert Geiszler
Formal dance in 1967
My father held a number of jobs through their early married years. He was a loading dock worker for Borden's, the same company Grandapa Lew worked for. In the early 70s, Daddy knew that he needed to improve his education so he attended Franklin University. He worked all night and attended classes by day. In the meantime, Penny welcomed her son into the world. When he was 2, he attended daddy's graduation. Penny and Bob couldn't have been happier. However, the early 70s was not a great time for accountants.

So Bob became a gas station owner. Penny worried constantly about him during this time period. Penny doesn't like guns, but my father grew up with a Hunting Club member for a father. He knew how to use a gun and wasn't afraid to pack heat. Since this was the Carter administration and times were tough with a capital T, Daddy looked for new job opportunities and Penny began working for Ohio Statue University Medical Center as a medical secretary.

When I joined the family, my mother continued to work for the OSU hospital and my father took a civil service examination. He proved himself to be a good accountant and was given several job offers. Penny and Bob chose the job in Houston. In 1978, the family left Ohio and came to the southwest side of town.

Now, I need to back track just a bit because I haven't shared another big change in the Geiszler home. In 1975, my parents were introduced to missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints by some friends. My father challenged the female missionaries relentlessly during their first meeting. My mom, really didn't want a part of it. My father was impressed by the missionaries ability to defend their faith without becoming defensive. He wanted to learn more.

My mother said daddy could visit with missionaries as long as they met on the back porch. Slowly, my father got the missionaries into their home to teach the gospel and my mother desired to learn more. Soon mom and dad were baptized and active in their congregation in the Bexley area of Ohio. In joining this church, her fire for family history was ignited. She passed that love for genealogy on to me.

When the family moved to Texas with two young children and a dog, Dad worked for the IRS and Mom went to work for various companies. She was a valued secretary at Gulf Oil until the oil boom went bust in the 80s. Later she worked for St. Luke's Hospital.

Robert and Penny Geiszler family

When not at work, momma carted her kids to drum lessons, gymnastics, cub scouts, and girl scouts. She was our number one fan. When my brother entered high school, Mom was at every football game to watch the band. She often said the football game was there to entertain folks until the band came on. Mom was not only her son's number one fan, but she was beloved by numerous other band members who also called her 'mom'.

Somewhere during this time, mom developed adult onset diabetes and back problems. In the early 90s, my mother fell at work and had enough damage to her back that she never worked again. She was excited for the opportunity to be a stay-at-home mom. Now, instead of just attending football games to watch me twirl flags and be band mom to many, she could also volunteer at my school when she felt well. She loved this new path so much. I often say she was more popular at my high school than I was! (And at the time, I hated it). 

While I was in high school, I entered my first beauty pageant. My mom was a full supporter, though I was completely clueless in the ways of femininity having been a tomboy all my life. Mom saw pageants as an opportunity to change me into a girly girl. After someone made a rude comment to dad when my first pageant was over, he became my biggest supporter to prove that person wrong. So Penny and Bob's involvement in pageantry began.

When I left for college, my mother felt the rug pulled out from under her. She didn't have band or volunteering work as her nest was empty. She felt she could only cheer for me when I competed. What to do?

Bob, Penny, and Devon Geiszler in pageantry
Penny and Bob Geiszler with me
after winning my first beauty pageant.

Turn For The Judges Logo
Mom's Pageant Hobby
Start Turn For The Judges pageant news service of course! My mom wanted to shine the light on teenagers and adult women who competed in pageants. She felt the little girls got all the coverage in pageant magazines; but the spotlight should be on the older girls. It was a belief she held firmly to for the rest of her life. Through her pageant news efforts, she began attending more and more pageants

As she did so, Mom started seeing other girls who she adored and became their biggest fan. The first of which is my sweet friend Amanda Perry. If Mom and Dad hadn't introduced me to my 'new sister' at a pageant I attended, rather than competed in, I wouldn't know this special lady. After twenty years in pageantry, the number of 'daughters' they adopted in the pageant world is large. Basically, my brother and I have more sisters than we can even count. As evident by the postings on mom's Facebook page, Mom touched the lives of many.

Robert and Penny Geiszler
together again.
 In efforts to keep this brief, I'm sure I missed a lot of things. However, to know Penny Brown Geiszler is to know she LOVED her family though she wasn't always the best at showing it. (Between us, she really loves her grandkids the best!) She loved Ohio State, but finally learned to cheer for Texas A&M (where I attended). Unless of course it's a OSU/Aggie match up, she had no division of loyalty. It was Buckeyes all the way. Mom believed in the word of God as taught in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. And she fought various illnesses throughout her adult life.

As she's laid to rest, I pray all of our hearts will be comforted knowing, she's not that far away. She's left this life for one without the health problems. Without those things slowing her down, she'll be joining my father and her parents. I'm sure they are introducing her to all the relatives she researched through her family history efforts. She'll also meet the mystery persons that plague me in my own research. (Yes, I'm secretly jealous). But she won't be too far from watching over her family and friends. And if God allows, she'll check in on the Buckeyes, and maybe the Aggies on occasion

Be at peace momma. Say hi to daddy. We'll miss you and all your quirks."

18 December 2012

Tombstone Tuesday: Ruth Helen Copas

Ruth Helen Copas
Plot: Sect 12, lot 136, spc 5
Obetz Cemetery
There's something about Ruth Helen Copas' (1903 - 1980) grave marker that intrigues me. Whether it's because it was a large monument for one person. Or because of the large Christian detailing on the left side of the stone. In any case. I really liked this stone and thought I'd share.

Ruth's stone is located in the Obetz Cemetery in Obetz, Ohio. Her Find A Grave Memorial is # 64802517

17 December 2012

Matrilienal Monday: Helen Zumstein Geiszler in Photos

Helen Zumstein Geiszler about 1940
Helen Zumstein Geiszler
about 1940
My grandmother Helen Grace Zumstein married Robert Paul Geiszler on 9 Jun 1945. Helen is the daughter of Robert Victor Zumstein (1896  - 1967) and Clementina Comfort (1895 - 1963).

Helen was Robert and Clementia's first American born child. Victor, as he preferred to be known, and Clementina were both from Canada. Victor was attending the State University of Iowa when their first two children were born. However, Clementina would travel home to Canada when she was expecting her bundles of joy. With Helen, the family was living in Ann Arbor, Michigan where Victor was a professor. The family decided not to return to Canada for Helen's birth.

For the longest time, I only had this one photo of Grandma Helen in her young adult years. I had no pictures of her as a child. Every person who knew my grandmother, says she was known for keeping up with style trends and for dressing so nicely.

I visited her perhaps twice while I was growing up. I didn't appreciate her when I was a teenager as I should have. But now, I cherish the memories of my grandma bustling around her dark wood panel home, with crocheted covered pillows. She walked with a limp of sorts, but I don't know why. However, she adored her family and loved sharing stories of everyone on her hallway walls. And she tried to be a gracious hostess, serving all sorts of meals. My favorite was her baked potato casserole. I've yet to find anyone who makes a similar dish like she made.

Last year, NUMEROUS photos came into my possession. They tell a timeline of Grandma Helen from her earliest years to the years before her death. I obtained the older photos from her niece who still lives in Canada. I obtained the photos from adult hood from the albums her sister-in-law kept and are now in the possession of her niece who lives in Ohio. My mother also gave me a few photos. I'd like to share these photos now.
Ohio Zumstein Children in 1928
(l-r) Helen, Dorothy, and Robert Zumstein
abt 1928

Welcoming Baby Fay Zumstein in 1931
Helen, Dorothy, and Robert Zumstein

I love the photos of the kids in 'birth order'. I love the smile of little Helen in both photos. She looks like a cute handful. I have no idea what she was like as a child. But now I know what she looks like.

The Zumstein Sisters, 1936
The Zumstein Sisters, 1936
Fay, Helen, and Dorothy Zumstein
Look how stylish and well groomed these girls are. Perhaps this is where Helen learned her sense of fashion. With pretty girls like these, one is certain that great grandpa Victor was very protective of these ladies as they grew up in Columbus, Ohio. By this time, their dad was a professor at Ohio State University.

Helen Zumstein and her husband Bob Geiszler, only had one child, my dad Robert, Jr. I've shared this photo before, which came to me from my father's aunt. The above photos were emailed to me. This photo was mailed to me so that I could keep it. I will take photos any way I can get them!

I love looking back at the grandma I didn't really know and seeing her throughout her life. I love being able to date photos rather easily because of the styles she featured in the photos. Something tells me, Grandma Helen is in heaven trying to impart some sense of style to me. (If only I wasn't too lazy to put the effort in to it!)

15 December 2012

Sorting Saturday: Cleaning Out The InBox

I'm a little embarrassed by this but hopefully others can relate. I, um, have a genealogy inbox folders on several email accounts. Believe it or not, I have one email account that I've been using since at least 2004, if not earlier. Shock! Most people switch their email addresses MANY times in 8 years.

Recently I decided to go through the genealogy folders in the oldest account and clean it out. I'm finally processing all the emails that I've just dumped (er, saved) into the file. I In my defense, that was a challenging time in my life. I had two very small children, I was transitioning between several states, and I was focuses on catching up on my scrapbooks. I was developing my Power Scrapbooking method. Since that time, I have opened other email accounts and saved genealogy information into folders on those accounts. I had forgotten just how many emails I've received about genealogy and for how many years.

Back to the cleaning, I found several things from 2005 that caught my attention.First, that my mother's aunt's family was buried in Norwich, Huron, Ohio. Now, I could easily have found that information on Find A However, having a email pointing me in the direction of where to look, made the search easy. I knew exactly in which cemetery to look. There is a photo of the cemetery linked to the family but no individual stones. I don't know if there are not stones and the photo is of the plot in general. So I sent a Photo Request and I'm am awaiting the results.

Copy of William Lester Long (1849 - 1925)'s Death Certificate

Second, and the most rib poking, is that I've had my 2nd great grandfather's death certificate just hanging out in my in box. For 7 years! Just waiting, humming 'do da-do da-do, I'm here!!'. What's crazy, is that this death certificate has been on line for the past 2 years and I haven't sought it out. In my defense, I haven't been working on the Long Family as much in the past two years. But seriously? What else is just hanging out waiting for me in the in box?

You know what else? The person who sent this to me also said he had photos of my Long relatives. Photos! I passed up photos? Erg.... I've sent an email to Jerry Long's 2005 email address. Is he still alive? Does the email still work? Will I be able to beg forgiveness for neglecting his offering of Long Family Photo? Ey - yi -yi!

Lesson learned... periodically clean out your emails!

14 December 2012

Photo Friday: Beginning to Understand the Concept of Playing

Last week, I wrote about the hardest thing I have photographed. I had to say, 'good enough' and be happy. This week, I wanted to share one of my favorite things I've photographed. It was with this particular session that taught me a little bit about the concept of playing. Remember the post about photographing a trophy? Remember how my friend told me to just play with the settings and see what happened? Well, my artifact is a stuffed dolphin. Isn't it cute?

First Option

I think this dolphin was part of the Beanie Babies craze, though it's not 'the real thing'. That being said, I wasn't exactly a young child when I received this dolphin. But it's cute and I loved it. I received this during a time when I absolutely adored dolphins. I had a dolphin ring and other things too. So, a thoughtful person gave me this dolphin. (It's not that I hate dolphins now. I just love my kids more.)

Anyway, my session started with that first photo. I decided to play with a few settings to see what would happen.

Second Option

Third Option

I liked the the settings that gave me brighter photos on camera. So, I adjusted my camera settings and then decided to see if I could make my dolphin friend look really cuddly cute.

I didn't like his scrunched tail and nose. He could look better.

This gave the dolphin a shark appearance.

That's better. He looks like he's jumping a bit.

Aww... he's got a flat nose.

Here's the 'tag' side profile. It looks odd, could I down play it?

That's a little better.

This session was so fun to focus on the positioning of the object. I don't really have a favorite. I like them as a collection. I suppose I'll just have to create a digital scrapbook page telling about the gift I received, the phase I was in and the fad the coincided. And I guess I'm just going to have to use most of these photos. That way all of dolphin's personality is featured!

Okay, I'm taking this way too far. But the point is, play. Sometimes we'll be playing with light. Sometimes, we'll be playing with setting. Sometimes, we'll be playing with camera angles and object positions. The point is to just play!

I'm so glad so many people have been enjoying my version of Photo Friday. I wanted to let you in on a little secret. I want Photo Friday (Memorabilia Version) to be a collaborative blogging event. So, beginning in January, a topic will be picked and I hope you'll do your best to photograph something based on that topic. Then we'll have a blog roll call at the end of the month and share what we've learned, what we've photographed, and what didn't work so well. So, stay tuned.

12 December 2012

Heritage Scrapbooking: Including Family Tree Fan Charts

I truly believe a family tree should be included in heritage scrapbooks. If you missed last week's post about a Family Tree Pages, click HERE. The question is, "how to do it?" I recommend NOT including a gigantic tree. Keep the tree simple. In a previous post, I recommended using a photo based tree. This week, I'll share a different tree that I used

Including a family tree in a digital scrapbook
Family Tree Fan Chart for a Scrapbook
Family of Robert Paul Geiszler, Jr

I discovered the fan chart for displaying genealogical information, and I love it. It's different and pleasing. It's not always the best option, but it this case, I really like it.

I chose to use three different colors for the fan chart. The key person, Robert Geiszler, is in the tan color. The fraternal Geiszler line is in green. The maternal Zumstein line is a light blue. All of the these colors where taken from the overall color scheme for the album.

After the names were in place, I had a decision to make. Should I include the dates? Should I include embellishments and photos? I decided that for the purpose of the scrapbook that a dateless fan chart would be fine. I have other, more detailed family trees, in my family history books that are not in the scrapbook format. For the goal of this scrapbook, the names would work fine.

However, I did feel that the fan page needed something. I decided to include photos of young Robert in the upper right corner. I included his parents photo in the bottom center. The fraternal family photo would be on the left of the couple. The maternal parents were on the right. The only embellishments I used were frames for the photos and tag labels. I felt that anything else would distract from the purpose of this page. So, less can often be more.

Including a family tree in a digital scrapbook
Family Tree Page with photos around the fan chart.
The 'ad designer' in me thinks having Helen on the left of her photo (bottom center) with the family to her left leads the eye to believe that this is her side of the family, rather than George's family. I relied upon the tag line to demonstrate that Bob's parents are on the 'wrong' side of Bob & Helen's photo. But they are on the correct side according to the fan chart coloration. Perhaps most people wouldn't notice this. If you're like me and it 'seems' wrong, then just use the tag line for clarification. Problem solved.

At the time I created this heritage scrapbook, I didn't have a photo of George Geiszler and Evaline Peak in their youthful years. It would have been a nice compliment to Helen and Bob's engagement photo and Victor and Clementine Zumstein's wedding photo. After I printed the album, I was blessed to receive a photo of George and Evaline in their young adult life. Someday I will have to update this page

Hopefully the past few weeks of Heritage Scrapbooking Tips have inspired you to include a family tree in your scrapbook. And now you can see two examples I have done and why I did them the way I did them.

 If you liked this post, you'll like my book called Creating a Family History Scrapbook Digitally in 12 Simple Steps. Available through Amazon. Click the HERE to be directed to order the eBook.

11 December 2012

Tombstone Tuesday: Is Louisa Schenck Related to My Mystery Woman?

In April 2011, I posted about my mystery woman in the Geiszler Family History (see Mystery Monday - Bertha Schenk). While I was in the Green Lawn Cemetery I came across the last name Schenck again.

Louisa Schenck
Find A Grave Memorial #61136591
I can't find out anything more about Louisa, without having Green Lawm Cemetery pull her burial records.  So I'm not sure if she's party of my story or not. However, it was interesting how this stone sent me on another quest to find my Mystery Woman.

I noticed a Bertha Schenck Kuehner (1861 - 1939) on the FindAGrave Website. Another website lists Bertha's father's name is Conrad Schenck. There is no stone and no further information on the memorial page. The age looks close about right for Bertha to be in the bridal party of my great-grandmother Maggie Hoppe.

Bertha Schenk, ca 1862
Found in the photo album
kept by Maggie Hoppe Geiszler

I found a Bertha Schenk working as a servant in Columbus, Ohio in the 1880 US Census. That's what Maggie Hoppe was doing in that same time period.That would tell me so much more about their friendship. Ahh.... the mystery continues but here are clues to sort out nonetheless.

I found a marriage certificate for Bertha Schenk who married Jacob Kuehner on 10 May 1883 in Franklin County, Ohio. Maggie was married one year before on 3 Jul 1882. So, again, more connections but no solid proof.

How does this all relate to Louisa's stone? Well, if I hadn't wondered through Green Lawn taking additional photos, I wouldn't have spotted this mystery name. If I hadn't posted Louisa's stone on Find A Grave, I wouldn't have seen a Bertha Schenck Kuehner and found clues to investigate. Sometimes it pays to look around at the other stones in the cemeteries. I'm fully aware this could be a wild goose chase. HOWEVER, Bertha Schenk is not proving to be a very common name in the 1860s in Columbus, Ohio. So, I'm very intrigued in all of this information.

10 December 2012

Mystery Monday: Mrs. Robert Comfort of Canada

A while back, a kind person was trying to track down the relatives for a photograph that she had. She found me through RootsWeb Connect. She had a photo for a Mrs. Robert Comfort and wanted to return it to the rightful owners.

Mrs Robert Comfort
Photographer:  E. Poole studio in St. Catharines

This  woman looks so beautiful but here's the trouble. There are so MANY Robert Comforts in St. Catharine's, Ontario Canada. It's VERY difficult trying to figure out just who this person might be. Additionally, other than gravestones, this is the only Comfort family photo I have. So sad. I know there are Comfort Family researchers doing work on the same line as me, but I can't seem to track them down.

So, Mrs. Robert Comfort has remained a mystery to me for over 7 years. The only additional information I have received is this:
Mr. Poole retired from the photo business in 1921. So the photo is pre-1921.

07 December 2012

Photo Friday: The Hardest Thing I've Had to Photograph

As you've seen in my Photo Friday series about memorabilia photography,  I am learning a lot. If you've missed any of those posts, click HERE.

What's the most difficult thing you've tried to photograph? For me, it was this sparkly hat that I wore when I was a member of the color guard in high school. Now, not the America military flag bearing color guard. A color guard that uses various flags and props to tell the story for a marching band as they perform half-time shows at football games.

I tried using the hat inside my DIY Light box. I had one light source from the left. Perhaps I could have used a light at the front right to illuminate this head piece better. But, for all the lighting strategies, what I was really struggling with was how to orient the hat. I don't have a white 'foarm head'  that I could set it on and I didn't want to go through the effort to make/purchase/borrow one. I just wanted something 'simple' but nice. So, I played around to see if I could have a different orientation I liked better.

This angle shows more of the bow from the back, which I loved to wear. Other's in my colorguard line hated this hate. I just didn't like having my head put into a tight french braid by someone who didn't respect my tender head. Otherwise, I loved the effect of this hat. So, if I could show off the point and the bow a little better, I would be well please. I was starting to see that my box wasn't the right size for this object in this orientation. Cropping out the 'edges' of the cardborad was going to be a challenge.

I thought I'd try to look down on the hat, but I really don't like this particular orientation. I'm not exactly sure why. Right now, I like the first photo I showed, but I still wanted to try something different. But before I did, I tried a few more photos. This next one looks nice.

This photo isn't too bad. In a collection of photos, I would say this would make the cut. But, could I make it any better?

My first attempt with the hat out of the light box, was a failure on so many levels. The back drop wasn't as smooth as I had hoped. I'm pretty sure I was too close to the backdrop. If I had moved forward more, that might have helped. What was really bugging me was how harsh the lights and how strong the shadows were. The great thing about digital photography and photographing for myself, I can scrap the idea quickly and try something else.

I tried a different set up. I still use side lighting from the left. This time I used a reflector. I know I could improve the quality of the photos. However, I felt this one was good enough for me for now. So I stopped.

I think the biggest challenge this object gave me is in what orientation to arrange the headpiece for photography and which angle to snap the photo in. If I was more patient, perhaps I could have played more and finally have an award winning photograph. But I suppose the question is one of balance and purpose. I'm not trying to win any awards with these photographs. I want to photograph my memorabilia in a way that a memory is triggered.

When I see this photo, the sounds of the marching band, the great times and the bad times from being in color guard for three years come back to mind. I remember the coldest day I ever marched in. And I remember my color guard friends and instructor. I believe that's the whole point of our photography. Sure we can invest hours and hours in trying to get the 'right' photograph. For some items, I would keep trying until I finally got it right. But for other objects, good enough is exactly that, good enough.

I'd love to know what was the hardest memorabilia you've ever had to photograph. What was your solution?
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