Win a RootsTech Pass as We Celebrate Our YouTube Anniversary

Last year, I told my husband that I wanted to expand my dream of inspiring and educating others about genealogy and family history by cre...

31 January 2013

Thankful Thursday: Followers Have Become My New Muse

I missed my number one fan: Penny Geiszler
Today I'm feeling a bit of gratitude for those who follow my blog. When a person is filled with such gratitude, they should share. This post is for those wonderful people who follow my blog, leave comments, or just read anything of interest to them.

Some of you may know that my number one fan, my mother passed away in December. I knew that her loss would be hard for a number of reasons. One of those reasons keep returning again and again, and it deals with this blog.

Last May, I went on an amazing trip to Ohio. If you missed those posts, click this label (Research Trip) to see how things went. My mother LOVED hearing about my research trip and how much information I acquired. She's the reason I got into family history and I have continued her research. Time and desire have made processing the mountain of new information a challenge. Let's just say I have barely started scratching the surface. Yet I wanted to get to it, so she could read it.

My mother enjoyed my photographing heritage artifact series a lot. So much, that when she visited me last August, she brought with her a ton of jewelry and such for me to photograph. I'm still struggling to take nice photos of bracelets, but I'll manage someday. Little did I know that these would become my inheritance.

Mom also enjoyed the heritage scrapbook series. She received the book about her for Christmas one year with a streaming trail of gratitude tears when she opened it. Since then, she shared that book with anyone and everyone. Creating that book without a guide on how to do it, inspired me to write a book Create a Family History Scrapbook Digitally in 12 Simple Steps. The book has sold a number of copies. I hope it has benefited those who struggle to piece together a heritage scrapbook that would meet some genealogy standards by sharing the wonderful stories of our ancestors in a beautiful format. Had I not created the original scrapbook for her, I would never have a treasure for my family nor a book that I can say I published.

In November, I began writing about the research I had acquired in May. I started sharing these posts in December staring with Agnes Anderson. Agnes was my mother's biological grandmother who died after her mother Louise was born. I read these posts to mom when she was in ICU. I knew she wasn't going to live but it didn't hit me how much it would hurt.

The sadness comes from this month's series of posts.I had written and post dated a series about my mother's father Lewis Brown. They started appearing in January and then it hit me. Mom wouldn't be reading these posts. Mom rarely left a common, but she'd always talk about the posts with me when we spoke by phone. Or she's tell me about it on Facebook.

To look at my follower's feed and not see her name, breaks my heart. I've often thought, why do I post these things? Who cares? Without my number one fan reading them, who really cares?

And then, a funny thing happened. In December, the follower number increased from 40 something to 50 something. It seems someone does care. And I keep hearing momma say, "Write. Even if it's just for your children. Please write. Share your talents and your research." And in continuing to write, I've found more followers. And I hear her also saying, "Write a Thank You Note." Well, I this is my thank you note.

To those who find my blog with a 'unique' name, I thank you. My blog's name was chosen as a reminder for myself to be patient as research can be slow in coming. It reminds me, that the two year mountain of information can be patiently sorted through. It now reminds me to be patient as I grieve the loss of my mother who I had hoped to share everything with.

Both of my parents are now deceased and my only brother rarely calls me. So, it's just me, my husband, my children, and you wonderful followers who get the benefit of this information. Thank you for reading, and thank you for commenting when I write a post that inspires you.

Treasure Chest Thursday: Baby Toys

How to photograph baby toys
Photographing Baby Toys
(f/4.5; exposure time 1/20, ISO 100, exp bias +0.7, 16 mm focal length,
Center Weight Average metering, Manual white balance)

It is fun to see the objects that family members played with as kids. In the same box that contained my husband's baby sweaters, a few baby toys were included. The funny thing is that his mother doesn't exactly remember these toys. Perhaps these toys were given to him when he was hospitalized as an infant with pneumonia. All we know is that my mother-in-law saved items for each of her sons in specifically designated boxes. I applaud her efforts.

This elephant is a high pitched squeaky toy. It can get a bit annoying. It was cool enough for my kids to play with when I pulled it out of the box!

To photograph these objects, I placed them in my light box with a white cardboard background. I used natural light on the left side of the light box and set up for the shot.

How to photograph old baby toys
Interesting yellow baby toy from the 1970s
f/4.5; exposure time 1/25, ISO 100, exp bias +0.7, 16 mm focal length,
Center Weight Average metering, Manual white balance

After taking a few individual photos, the toys did not look super exciting. When I grouped them together, they looked a lot better. Separately they looked like items in a toy catalog. Together, they looked like items a child plays with. So, the take home lesson is to group items together to tell a story with your historical artifacts. Sometimes you won't need to. However, you'll be glad you did for the times it really would have had a great impact.

How to photograph a group of old baby toys
Items groups together can better tell a story
f/4.5; exposure time 1/20, ISO 100, exp bias +0.7, 10 mm focal length,
Center Weight Average metering, Manual white balance.

FYI: I did lighten the colors by adjusting the levels in PaintShopPro after I took these photos. On camera, they looked exactly like I've shown. On computer, they looked dull. With a little software magic, they were back to 'Wow!' again. I'll post about this concept soon.

 Although today is the last day of January, you can still participate in this month's Treasure Chest Thursday Challenge on Baby Items. Snap a picture of your artifact and tell us what you learned. When you've created your post, visit the challenge page and share your link.  

30 January 2013

Heritage Scrapbooking: Baby Layouts

Since this week wraps up the Treasure Chest Thursday Challenge of Baby Items, I thought I would share  Story Pages based upon babies. This particular layout does not feature an artifact, but it does feature my father as an infant.

My family history collection includes my father's Baby book. My grandmother Helen Zumstein Geiszler great care in recording the facts of her only child. The book was so helpful in creating a scrapbook page for inclusion in my father's heritage album.

I chose this layout because it lines his church nursery roll certificate underneath two photos of him as a young baby. Since this page featured his birth, I also included the aged newspaper clipping announcing his birth in the Columbus Dispatch newspaper. 

Baby Page for Family History Scrapbook
Baby Page for Heritage Scrapbook

For the journaling, I shared information obtained directly from the well preserved baby book. I added additional comments based on things that are easily obtained on a birth certificate. For instance, my grandparents were living with my grandfather's parents. So, I can now picture just how many persons are in the home that my father was born into.

I also loved how my grandmother described the infant Robert Geiszler as having dark blue eyes, dark brown hair, golden brows, eyelashes and a golden tan complexion. I can now imagine the colorized version of the black and white photo I included on this page. Having grandma describe her son is such a treasure and I included it in the journaling.

Simple elements, strategically placed, adorn this page. One brown element directs your eye to the clear image of the infant who is probably about 3 months old. I'm supposing the age because my children were smiling and happy at 3 months but unable to sit up until about 6 months of age.

Green ribbon accents direct your eye down the page to the newspaper announcement. The weight of the photos keep your eyes at the top of the page, so the ribbon pulls your eyes to this little gem.

To keep drawing the eye down the page, a second ribbon was placed beside the cradle roll certificate. The third embellishment fell within the rule of threes when placing embellishments on a scrapbook page.

I hope the inclusion of this heritage album page shows how you can use your records to develop journaling. Additionally, you can see how embellishments can complete the layout by adding function and aesthetics to a page.

To learn what additional pages you should include in a family history scrapbook, purchase the eBook Create a Family History Scrapbook Digitally in 12 Simple Steps at

29 January 2013

Tombstone Tuesday: Harry A Townsend

Photo: chad graham
After visiting Ohio last May, I was frustrated with Obetz Cemetery and how disorganized their records were. So, I decided to request a gravestone photograph through Find A Grave. My request was filled by an awesome volunteer.

Harry A Townsend (1877 - 1918) is the brother of my great grandmother Emma Virgina Townsend Brown (1880 - 1943). I took the picture of Emma's stone when I was at the Obetz Cemetery. It was one of the few pictures I took in this cemetery. It pains me that I was so close to Harry's stone. I can visualize this location because of the fence and Mausoleum. Nevertheless I am so grateful to Chad Graham for his service.

I love how this stone gave me a HUGE clue about Harry A Townsend.

Close of Photo: chad graham
Woodmen of the World is a large fraternal benefit society that started in 1890. Harry would have been about 13. It was originally an insurance organization. Apparently 'Early Woodmen of the World policies provided for a death and a monument benefit. Gravestones were originally furnished to members for free and later were offered to those who purchased a $100 rider.'In addition to being an insurance organization, apparently there was social benefits to this group. I have a lot of questions about this marking and association. 

I wonder if there were obituaries written about Harry by the organization. The reason I wonder stems from a recent genealogy conference I attended. A speaker mentioned that several insurance organizations provided obituaries and other services when their members died. I'll need to see if there is an Ohio organization of this national group and hopefully they'll be able to check their collections on my behalf.

28 January 2013

Amanuensis Monday: Mulford Family Tree

I have a lot of tangent families in my stack of research. My mother's great aunt Anna Mulford married Dan Ray Long. They had no children but my mother adored Aunt Ana. So, when my mother became interested in genealogy, she received all of Aunt Anna's family records. I don't feel like I should spend much time on this family line. It sounds mean, but there are so many branches and connected tangents on my 'main lines' that I just need to know when to severe research ties.

Nevertheless, there was a Mulford Family Bible that passed into my mother's possession. Unfortunately, that bible no longer exists. Long, tragic story that I can't share. But I do have a surviving extract from that Bible for what it may be worth:

Surviving extraction from the Mulford Family Bible that no longer exists.

For those who are interested, here is what this extractions says:

Thomas Tillinghart Mulford
b 20 May 1798 Long Island, New York
d 23 Oct 1881

m 25 Mar 1821

Phebe Steward
b 1 July 1795
d 1 Sept 1860


Lewis Mulford
b 13 June 1822
d 26 Apr 1845

Polly Mulford
b 15 Oct 1824
d 30 Jan 1890

m 1st: George W Moore on 14 Jan 1844
    d. 24 Apr 1845
m 2nd: Francis M Chapman on 23 May 1847
    d. 18 Feb 1901
    Their child: George Polaski Moore
    b. 22 Nov 1844

Emeline Mulford
b. 19 Jan 1828
d, 2 Mar 1832

b. 23 Mar 1830
d 4 Jul 1892

m William Smith on 5 Dec 1848

Marion Mulford
b 15 Jan 1833
d 7 Jul 1909

m Elizabeth Born on 8 Mar 1866

    Thomas T Mulford Jr
    b 24 Aug 1867

    Anna Mulford
    b. 22 Jun 876
    d. 1978

    Harriet Mulford
    b. 2 Jul 1878
    d. 1968
    m Dan Ray Long

Harriet Mulford
b. 19 Mar 1835
d 27 Apr 1904 at Palacios Texas

m Dr. Charles Richards on 25 Mar 1858
    d 5 Feb 1890   

26 January 2013

Brown Family History: Hobbies and Interest of Lewis Brown

My maternal grandfather Lewis Sherman Brown, had many occupations and interests throughout his adult life. He and his wife had many long time friends who they would entertain as often as possible. They worked hard and enjoyed their free time. I'd like to share some of the interests of Grandpa Lew.

Lewis Sherman Brown and his horse Don
Lewis Brown with his beloved Don, ca 1941

Around 1941, Lewis owned a horse named Don. His adored horse stayed at Walters Riding Academy (I couldn't find a directory listing for this). Louise could never ride Don but Lew could. It is believed that keeping the horse became too expensive for the newlyweds and was sold. \
Also in the early 1940s, Lew was a hot bread truck driver. His wife Louise related, "We were pampered back then! Lew would delivered fresh, hot bread once or twice a day to the customers on  his route. The company wouldn't give men a route unless they were married. So after we were married he got a route of all about $15 a week."

Apparently Lew was really good at selling bread because he won two Polaroid cameras and numerous cash prizes from his job. When the company canceled his route, Louise remembers they treated Lew so well. Eventually that company moved north and went out of business., 1949 Columbus City Directory
Record for Swan Bowling Alleys

During the years of 1943 to 1945, Lew went off to serve in the Army as an auto repairman. After the war, he managed the Swan Bowling Alleys located on the corner of Parsons and Jenkins in Columbus, Ohio. He ultimately held the position of Assistant Bowling Manager. The alley used to hire boys to set the pins, in the days before the days of automatic pin setter machines. Swan Lanes had a bar and eating area, with a short order cook, in the front.

Ruslter, Bowman, Lew Brown , Morbitzer, Jim Cimeron at Bowling Chammpionship
Championship ABC National Tournament, ca 1950
left to right: ?, Ruslter, Bowman, Lew, Morbitzer, Jim Cimeron

Lew's two young girls remember spending a lot of time at the bowling alley. Both Lew and Louise were part of bowling leagues. Lew was really skilled and won many prizes from the weekend competitions he entered. He won several watches, money and silver tea service.

Borden's Identification Badge
Borden's Identification Badge

Borden's 22 Years of Service Patch
Borden's 22 Years of Service Patch

Around 1956, Lew's brother Gene helped him get a job a Borden's Milk Company in Columbus, Ohio. He would work as a home delivery milkman for the next 22 years. Lew would deliver glass bottles of fresh milk daily. When a customer finished the milk bottle, they would set the empty bottle outside their home. Lew would drive by, pick up the empty glass bottles and pass of filled, fresh bottles of milk.

Lew, standing, about 1960
after playing ball with his buddies

Lew loved to golf, bowl and watch football. He also enjoyed playing baseball with his buddies. He was a huge Cleveland Browns fan. One thing enjoyed the most was being an usher for the Ohio State University football stadium.  He did this when his milk route had Saturdays off. It was perfect, he got paid for watching the game! Unfortunately, the company changed Lew's day off to Wednesday, so Lew could no longer ushered for OSU. But, if the delivery truck had a radio, he would certainly have tuned in to listen to each Buckeye game.

Master Mason Certificate for Lewis Brown
Lewis Brown joins the Master Masons

In 1954, Lew became a Master Mason. He would attend meetings at South Gate Lodge No. 692. This association provided opportunities for his daughters to participate in Job's Daughters. One year, his eldest daughter became the Queen. His next daughter was part of the court. His association in the Masonic Lodge also connected him to the Scottish Rite, Aladdin Shrine, and Southeast Shrine Club. This is jumping ahead a bit, but in 1974 he was received into the Aladdin Shrine organization.

Aladdin Shrine Certificate, Record for Lewis Brown

In 1972, Lew became president of the male only Swan Club social and service organization. Swan Club sponsored the Little League, Babe Ruth League, and sometimes a bowling team. They also gave out Christmas and Thanksgiving baskets.

Columbus, Ohio Swan Club Presidents
Swan Club Officers when Lew Brown became President in 1972.
Lew is in the front row with the very distinctive jacket.

My mother remembers a large number of different pictures taken of him with the Swan Club. The thing that stood out was that he always wore the same jacket in every picture! Additionally, mom remembers the above picture as the "Past President's" photo. Although it was taken when Lew became president, most of the men in this picture eventually held the position of president for the club.

Lew and Louise Brown
1972 Swan Club Party

If you ask Lew's three daughters what talent their father had that they liked the best, it would be his dancing ability. Lew liked ball room dancing and his wife said he was really good at it. All of his daughters remember him dancing with them when they were young. When I meet Grandpa Lew, that's the first thing I will ask him. Grandpa, will you dance with me?

24 January 2013

Treasure Chest Thursday: Baby Clothes

Now that you have organized your personal or family heritage memorabilia and have learned about light boxes and seamless backdrops, we can continue improving our photos.

Over the last year, I have enjoyed taking photos of the artifacts of my ancestors. I have shown you a few things of my own personal history (clothing, stuffed animals, a costume hat, and a sorority paddle to name a few). Although secret my objective for photographing my stuff was to declutter my home, but I say it's practice for the more important historical objects!

When my husband said I could photograph 'his stuff', I was super excited. I had new objects and their challenges.One of the things in the collection his mother preserved for him was two hand knitted sweaters and a pair of booties.

Instead of using a light box, I used my seamless backdrop set up. The baby sweater would not fit inside my light box. So, my mini photo studio works best in the living room. The room has a large window that faces south. The best times of day to photograph where I live is the middle morning or early evening. My living room table is the right height when slid over to touch this window wall. It serves as a platform for my objects so that I'm the right height to work.

On top of the white muslin, I placed a blue baby blanket. The blanket was not used because it belonged to my hubby. I wanted a soft background in baby boy blue to compliment and set off the soft white yarn. A baby blanket fit the bill.

The sweater was placed directly on the blanket. With the sun shining from the left side, a white foam board opposite the window to bounce light back onto the sweater. With the camera on a tripod, I used a low ISO setting (think old film camera speeds) I shot in AV mode. 

How to photograph baby layette
Photographing a baby layette
(f/4.5; exposure 1/6, ISO 100, exp bias +0.7, 13 mm focal length,
Center Weight Average metering mode, Manual white balance)
 From what I've learned AV mode is best used for portrait and still life photography. This setting can help control the depth of field in your photographs. Basically, blurring out the background and focusing on the object you are featuring. Pretty cool stuff.

I took photos of a second sweater using the same set up and similar settings.

How to photograph baby clothes
Photograph of baby sweater
(f/4.5; exposure 1/6, ISO 100, exp bias +0.7, 10 mm focal length,
Center Weight Average metering mode, Manual white balance)

I am really pleased with these photos. You can see the detail of the sweaters and booties. The colors are soft and natural.

Lessons Learned

In reviewing the photos now, I am analyzing them with 'how do I improve' eyes. I think I should have lined up the camera so that it was looking straight down on the objects. Or, I should have angled the top of the sweaters up and photographed that way. I'm not certain how that would have affected the detail in the hand made items. It will be something to try when I have another hand-made item.

The story behind the objects and another take home lesson...

These sweaters were made by my husband's relatives. The only question is, who? That is still difficult to say, but one of them could have been made by his Grandma Marion. Despite not remembering who made them, I love knowing that my honey did wear these wonderful items as a babe.

Unfortunately, I mixed things up a bit. The booties belong to the sweater that is photographed alone. The sweater with the booties should have been photographed by itself. Take home lesson, find out if the grouping you want to photograph is correct. If you can't, photograph how you want. Never assume anything!

It's never too late to participate in this month's Treasure Chest Thursday Challenge on Baby Items. Snap a picture of your artifact and tell us what you learned. When you've created your post, visit the challenge page and share your link. 

23 January 2013

Heritage Scrapbook: When The Story is Hard to Write

Do you have artifacts for your ancestors about school? Would you like to include it on a scrapbook page. I do and I did. I have a copy of my father's high school graduation certificate. How can I use the certificate when I don't have a story about my father's childhood or schooling? 

Sample heritage scrapbook page
Education Layout for Robert Geiszler

Last week, I mentioned the need for Story Pages in your heritage scrapbook. Education makes an excellent topic for a Story Page.

I have one photograph of my father near his graduation day. I also have a photo of him from his senior year in high school. I looked for a scrapbook template that would accommodate three photographs and use the digitized certificate instead of a photograph.

That was the easy part of this layout. The story was more difficult. I knew my father graduated at the bottom of his high school class. I knew his beloved grandfather was a physics professor at Ohio State University. I knew his other grandfather, who he didn't talk about much, worked for the railroad. My father valued education as the key to prosperity. So, I tied these things together in a journaling block.

I often used phrases like “It is believed” or “the contrast” to include what facts presumably contributed to his view of education. I wanted to help my reader know that this is not fact, it's my opinion based on the facts I had available. You can use similar statements to convey that this is what you infer based on the facts you have, when you don't have stories as proof.

I kept with the color scheme that I selected for my father's album: blues and greens. I chose simple accents of brads and a key (key of education symbolism). The simple, metal accents complete but do not overpower the page. Personally, I feel that pages featuring a man should be really simple.

So if you have a man in your life, school documents and no 'story', you can make a scrapbook page worthy of inclusion in your scrapbook album. And these same principles can apply to other pages you want to correct when a story might be incomplete.

To learn what other pages you should include in a family history scrapbook, purchase the eBook Create a Family History Scrapbook Digitally in 12 Simple Steps at

22 January 2013

Tombstone Tuesday: Request Fulfilled for Don J Young

I love Find A Grave! It's an awesome website. I haven't requested photos until recently, thinking I should make a trip to Ohio and before I requested photos. I won't be making another trip to Ohio for some time. And, I certainly won't make it up to Huron County, Ohio. So... I sent a photo request and hoped that I would be alerted when the request was fulfilled. Well, it was filled, and very quickly. I was so surprised at how fast it was done too.

In any case, Don J Young (1884 - 1959) is my cousin 3 times removed. I love learning about cousins and the lives they lead and compare them to my more direct ancestors of the same progenitors. It's fascinating the comparisons you can make. In any case, ask and you will receive. And here are some of the photos:

Photo by Shirley Lindenberger Hazelwood
Check this out! The photographer also took a plot photo. THANK YOU! These photos show relationships. Smart photographer.

Photo by Shirley Lindenberger Hazelwood

And just who do these stones belong too? One is his wife Eleanie Dennis Young.

Photo by Shirley Lindenberger Hazelwood

One is Don's daughter Celestina Young Sheldon.

Photo by Shirley Lindenberger Hazelwood

There is a cool marker beside the stone. I wonder what it is. The photographer was so wise to snap a photo of it to answer my question.

Photo by Shirley Lindenberger Hazelwood

I wonder who the predecessor was for the Artillery Company. Something to investigate. Was it Don J Young? Or was this from her mother's Dennis line?

Celestina is buried beside her husband.

Photo by Shirley Lindenberger Hazelwood

 I so love the fact that I requested Don J Young's photo and Shirley Lindenberger Hazelwood photographed the entire section. That saved a lot of additional photo requests. She took a group shot and zoomed in on important additional details. I can't thank Shirley enough for more than filling this request.

Tombstone Tuesday: Great How To Website

Header for StonePics Website
As I was posting my photos from various Ohio Cemeteries, I came across this website. It had so much useful information, my head spun. However, I tried to implement many of the tips and strategies into my own photography attempts.

Cemetery & Headstone Photography:
The StonePics Method

If you want to be a prepared and effective gravestone photographer that takes more than 'snapshots' of stones, then you should visit this website.

I learned the importance of taking photos 'in sequence' but to include additional photos that tell the story of how photos are related. It's very important to take a photo of the overall where you're photographing. If you can distinguish a plot, it's important to take a photo of the plot and then the gravestone in that plot. Then take another 'wide' shot photo before taking the next series of photos. If you don't use the photos anywhere, it's at least a reference point.

I didn't do as much detailed writing as this website suggests. Primarily because when I used the tips, I was working with a very small cemetery. I could remember where I was and how things related. Perhaps I have a good memory. In any case, I need have a print out of the names that were supposed to be buried in the cemetery I went to. I would check off when I photographed the stone. I would make notes for dates/information that might need to be adjusted to what was on my print out. And I would add names of stones that were not on my print out.

FYI: I created a print out based on Find-A-Grave's listings for cemeteries. Another reason I chose a small cemetery because I do not know how to download a spreadsheet for a particular cemetery.  This was all copy and paste work. 

Whenever a stone was hard to read, I did transcribe it onto paper for use later. Thankfully, for the particular cemetery I was working with, this didn't happen often.

Again, there is a lot of information on this website. Take what is useful to the project you are working on. And have fun photographing your nearby cemetery.

19 January 2013

Military Monday: Lewis Goes to War

Lewis Brown World War II Uniform
Lewis Brown in World War II Uniform
While Lewis Brown was a newlywed, the Japanese attacked American ship anchored in Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941. On 11 December 1941, Italy and Germany declared war on the United States of America and technically entered the country into the war. Thirteen months later, Lewis enlisted in the in the Army for WWII on 4 Jan 1943.

According to his World War II Army Enlistment, Lewis had completed 4 years of high school. He was capable of semi-skilled occupations in building transportation equipment. Lewis was 69 inches tall and weighed 138 lbs. He received the serial number 35620761. He was a Technical Fourth Grade for the Headquarters 1304th Engineers Construction Battalion.

Lew started receiving his first immunization shots on 12 January 1943. His immunizations would continue throughout his service in the war. The last shots for Typhus, Cholera and Smallpox were administered on 13 September 1945.

WWII Immunization Record for Lewis Brown
Scan of original, Immunization Record for
Lewis S Brown ~ World War II
 Several additional documents were found pertaining to Lewis' war service.

Stateside Fire Department, WWII
Scan of original, Record for Lewis S Brown
Scan of original, Record for Lewis S Brown
These records suggest that for a time, Lewis' Engineering Construction Battalion went to India. His discharge papers shared more information. He left for India on 29 Jun 1944 and arrived there on  8 Aug 1944. He left India on 12 Dec 1945 and arrived stateside on 3 Jan 1946.

At some point he earned a Stateside Fire Department certificate.

WWII Travel Log - Homebound
Time to go home!
WWII Travel Log - Homebound
Scan of original, Travel Log for Lewis S Brown
It looks like Bing Crosby's 1943 hit song, "I'll Be Home for Christmas" had great meaning for Lewis and Louise in 1945. Lewis passed Gibralter on December 25, 1945 headed the 3,210 mile trek to New York and then to Ohio. Although he wasn't home for Christmas, at least he was headed in the right direction.

Thanks to his discharge papers, I learned a lot more about grandpa Lewis in the eyes of his military service. He was discharged on 7 Jan 1946.

WWII Discharge Papers for Lewis Brown
Scan of original papers
Discharge Record for Lewis S Brown
His place of entry into the service as Ft. Thomas, Kentucky on  11 January 1943, after enlisting 7 days earlier in Columbus, Ohio. During is civilian live prior to the war, he was a Routeman. That's a fascinating term for delivery driver.

He served in India-Burma and was specifically an Auto Parts Clerk. I wonder if that would have made his auto mechanic father proud? He was authorized to use a MKM M1 Rifle. He received the following medals: Good Conduct, American Campaign Medal, Asiatic Pacific Campaign Medal with 2 Bronze Stars, and the World War II Victory Medal. 
WWII Discharge Papers for Lewis Brown
Scan of original
Discharge Paper for Lewis S Brown
Grandpa's total length of service was 1 year 5 months and 22 days; most of which was served in India. He received no wounds during the war campaign, presumably to the relief of his wife of so short a time.

17 January 2013

Treasure Chest Thursday: My Home Studio

After using the light box and learning more about how to improve the quality of my pictures, I realized it will not accommodate any sizable artifact. I have shirts that I'd love to photograph on a dress form, trophies that are larger than the light box, Homecoming mums, and many other large objects. I want quality pictures but how could I do it.

I came across a fabulous series of blog posts called Studio @ Home at the DIY Photography website. I was so inspired by the series knowing there could be a solution to any space challenge with regard to a home studio set up. I also loved how inexpensive the solutions were as well.

I was able to conquer the light box solution without my husbands help to create it. Now, I wanted his ingenuity to help create a seamless back drop set up that would be collapsible, potentially portable, and adjustable for varying sizes of backdrop needs. I found endless options and he came up with something that was beyond what I could have conceived on my own. It's so nice to have such a talented husband.

In any case, here is what his solution was to create a frame out of PVC pipes. He cut the pieces in various sizes so I can have a small backdrop stand or a large one. I purchased white muslin material. For the most part I like it, except for the ironing part. As you'll see in this set up, the muslin wrinkles QUICKLY. So if you don't have a way to keep the material smooth, perhaps a different material would work better.

White muslin draped over PVC frame.
White foam board reflecting natural light.
The wrinkles aren't pretty but you needed to see what muslin will do.

Here's the first rough shot of the flowers in this set up.

I switched to spot focus and tried to down play the wrinkles a bit. 

I lowered the tripod, play around with a few settings and came up with this. Some wrinkles are still apparent, but at least now it's not to terrible.

I would suggest ironing the wrinkles out.
But you can still take interesting photos.

Since I am an amateur photographer, I don't mind sharing what I learn. There are a lot of websites that tell you that you can 'do it yourself'. And that's wonderful. But what the DIYer's sometimes forget to tell you is the durability of some of the options.

So there you have it. I do have a DIY seamless backdrop using PVC and muslin. When I really want to make a splash, I have to iron the wrinkles out of the muslin (or find a way to store it). Otherwise, I work with the wrinkles and call it good.

16 January 2013

Heritage Scrapbooking: Story Pages

In previous posts, I've discussed the need to use family trees, mini-family trees, and timelines in your heritage albums. Today I'd like to consider another type of layout, namely Story Pages

Here's an explanation from my book Family History Scrapbooking Simplified:
“The majority of the pages in your scrapbook will be story pages. Story pages include the topics of childhood, siblings, teen years, adult years, children pages, education, missions, courtship, pets, employment, and church service to name a few. The layout options for 'story' pages are truly endless.”
Story Pages can be about any topic that encapsulates the person your scrapbook album is about. If you could pick one activity that dominated my mother as a teenager, it would have been baton twirling. She was active in the Columbus Hurricanes Drum and Bugle Corp during the 1960s. She also tried to earn a spot on South High School's twirling line. Mom described some rule changes that kept her from making the line. However, she had a blast in the Hurricanes. 

Story Page for Family History Album
Story Page for Heritage Album
the left side of a two-page layout

Story Page for Famiy History Album
Story Page for Heritage Album
the right half of a two-page layout

The scrapbook pages I have created for my mother's album use the a green, tan, and gold color scheme throughout the project. This design features the professional photographs she had made in her competition outfits. I was able to share brief information about her participation in twirling. There was enough room left to decorate the page without taking the focus off my reader of my mother. It's a simple yet very effective layout.

When you create a family history scrapbook, it is essential to share brief stories of the person and their lives. Plus, you want to keep the focus on the photos and content rather than the cool 'scrapbooking' stuff. Far too many heritage scrapbook pages forget this principle. A few well-chosen accents will not overpower your layout.

I hope seeing an example of a Story Page, helps inspire and teach you want to include in your heritage albums. Feel free to share some of your similar designs in the comment section below.

15 January 2013

Tombstone Tuesday: Beautiful Boice Monument

When visiting cemeteries, some just stand out to me. This is another one. I guess I'm attracted to statuary as much as to unique design. Is it the part of me attracted to graphic design? I'm not sure, but in any case, I thought I'd share this beautiful monument.

Elmer E And Ruby B Boice
Sec 12, Lot 128, Grave 1
Obetz Cemetery, Obetz, Ohio

Elemer's Find A Grave Memorial is # 16720907

Tombstone Tuesday: Wouldn't It Be Great?

Would it be great if a stone you found in a cemetery you visited for one set of relatives turned out to be additional family members of yours? If you have a family name like Puesecker or Geiszler, you have greater chances of finding connections. With a last name of Brown, probably not. In any case, when I was in the Obetz Cemetery looking for the tombstones of my ancestor Sherman Lewis Brown, I came across a stone for Harry Brown.

Harry and Edith A Brown
Sect 12, lot 22, spc 5
Obetz Cemetery, Obetz, Ohio

Information about Sherman's father Samuel Curtis Brown has been determined. However, Samuel's ancestors remain a mystery to date. With Sherman naming his son Harry, I wonder where that name came from. Could it be this Harry whose stone I found in the same cemetery as Sherman? There is a small possibility, but I'm fully aware that with a last name like Brown and 60 persons interred in Obetz Cemetery with the last name, it's a stretch to make that connection. However, the dreamer in me loves to wonder.

12 January 2013

Lewis Brown: 1940 US Census and Marriage correction

Louise Long and Lewis Brown
Louise and Lewis Brown
About 1942, Still Newlyweds
As I posted previously, my maternal grandfather Lewis Brown married Louise Long on 27 Feb 1940. That date didn't seem wrong until I found Lewis and Louise living in separate homes during the 1940 US Census.

Lewis was living with his widowed mother. He was a truck driver for a retail bakery.

Lewis Brown iin 1940 US Census
Family Search, 1940 United States Census, Record for Lewis Brown.

Louise was living with her sister Marguerite Frohnauer who was married to Frank and had a one-year old named Barbara. Both of her parents had died prior to 1940. Louise was working as a clerk for a retail store.

Louise Long in 1940 US Census
Family Search, 1940 United States Census, Record for Louise Long

The date of the US Census was April 1, 1940. The fact that my grandparents were married in February and then not in the same home in April bugged me. My grandparents adored each other throughout their life. Did they get off to a rocky start, saying they were single just a few months later?

After looking at their marriage license and certificate, the situation became perfectly clear.

Partial scan of original document
Marriage Record of Lewis Brown and Louise Long

A simple mistake was being perpetuated. The couple married on 27 February 1941, not 1940. They were in the homes they were supposed to be found on 1 April 1940. They still may have had a 'rocky' start to their marriage, but according to census records and marriage certificates, there is no evidence to that fact. I'm so glad. (Oh, and my sweet aunt confirmed the fact after the first post was published. More sources, more strength to the argument?)

It just goes to show that one must check and recheck facts to determine accuracy.

11 January 2013

Friday Funny: I'm the butt of many jokes

There was so much love around the breakfast table this morning. I had a little mix up this morning and my second child asked if this was a "brain fart".

I said "No, it's a simple mistake. A brain fart is when you completely blank out on something or when you completely mix something up."

He then said, "Oh. Is it the time when you asked for paprika on your cottage cheese instead of cinnamon?"

Yep. That would be a classic example. And I can still hear my in-laws who shall remain nameless but live in Missouri and my husband busting over laughing at me when I finally realized that my brain hadn't fired as it should. So glad that I can be the source of great laughter and teachable moments.

Then I remembered a conversation my hubby and I had on Tuesday. He wanted me to share another 'awesome story' about myself to an audience. I didn't want to. It's a little embarrassing. He said, "But you have such great stories!"

Well... I give up. I guess I do have funny stories. Since I'm the family historian and know that such stories are the spice of a narrative, I've thrown in the towel. I'll start writing all those 'funny stories' down that my hubby and children love so much. They better thank me for it later. But no, I won't be sharing to much for the public domain to humiliate me about.

10 January 2013

Treasure Chest Thursday: Organzie Your Memorabilia for Photographing

Organize your memorabilia for photo shoot
It's the start of a new year, and that mountain of historical documents and photographs is staring you in the face. I believe this is the year you could tackle that mountain if you're willing to be efficient.

I've written a book called Power Scrapbooking - Get Caught Up, No Matter Your Scrapbooking Style. It has wonderful chapters specifically designed to encourage people to quickly create scrapbooks by breaking the process down into activities of similar type. The book can be very useful for genealogist tackling their family memorabilia as well. Two of the activities mentioned in this book are organize and digitize photos and memorabilia.

Today I want to talk about organizing your mementos. As I have photographed my own artifacts, I've discovered that photographing items of similar style speeds up the process. For instance, a first grouping would be over-sized items clothing, bedding, flags, and large trophies. Another large grouping would be jewelry, and medals. Books, documents, and artwork could be in another large group.

But the idea is to first group by size of an object. Why? Because smaller objects would be best photographed using a small light box. Larger objects would require a model or mannequin. Other objects would require a seamless backdrop. And still others would require some other set up. So, think in terms of size of your objects.

The next thing to do before photographing your heirlooms, is to sort things by similar style. For instance, in the small grouping of jewelry, various small categories would be necessary. Such as the way you photograph bracelets would be very different from the way you would photograph rings. With necklaces and jewelry, you can lay these items flat or on a small jewelry display bust. When photographing rings, you'll need to find a way to stand the ring up or suspend it within our light box. If you have a ring 'stick' that is used in jewelry stores specifically for rings, you might use that as well. Since these items need different setups within your light-box, you'll want to group them accordingly.

Additionally photographing lapel pins is different than photographing medals. Most medals can lay flat in a light box. You can also place them on a bean bag covered by a white cloth. This will allow the ribbon of a medal to drape 'off the back' while still featuring the medallion. Lapel pins need to be stuck into something. And when they are removed from the cloth they were stuck into, they leave holes. You want to take that into account.

So, after you sort through your objects for photographing, you can plan out how and when you will photograph them. Since everyone's memorabilia collection is different, I'll leave the planning section to you. With the artifacts organized, you will be able to photograph your mementos in record time. And maybe some of these mementos can be photographed for the Treasure Chest Thursday Challenges!  We're already started this month's challenge: baby items (click here if you missed it, it's never to late to join in).