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28 February 2013

Treasure Chest Thursday: Fad Items

Did you or your relative ever get caught up in fads? Did you have to have that something that everyone else had? For some it's Coca-cola items, for some it is Beanie Babies, for others it was Cabbage Patch dolls or Poke-mon cards. For others they collected vintage Barbie dolls. The fad possibilities are astounding if you actually think about it (or watch a show like American Pickers!)

The fads we follow tell another side of our personality. Give more meat to your personal and family histories by photographing the fad items that are still around your home! If you're a young mother, be sure to photograph the things your little ones just 'HAVE TO HAVE!' Your family history projects will have more depth when you do!

I wonder if collections are a 'modern' post-depression activity. I don't know. My mother collected teddy bears. I collected stickers, wrestling magazines, and followed much of the pop music trends. In high school, I started collecting Trolls. Now trolls were not a new thing in the 90s. They were a huge fad in the 1960s.

Photo Friday Challenge: Fad Items
Treasure Chest Thursday Challenge: Fad Items
f/5, exp 0.8 sec, exp bias: +0.7, ISO 100, Spot metering

I'll be honest. I didn't spend a lot of time taking photos of my troll. I guess I just didn't want them in my house any longer. The sooner it was photographed the better! Wow! They were so important to me so long ago. Yikes! (PSST... family history has the side benefit of helping you organize and declutter your home if you do it right!)

Anyway... with that said, I put this Troll key chain in my light box. I used natural light from my window. Then I set the camera on custom white balance. I snapped a photo of the white cardboard and the camera made the final adjustments. I flipped on spot focused and the background completely 'blew out'. In other words, it became over exposed.

Now, normally, I would not like this type of photo at all. Trolls were so crazy and almost 'psychedelic'. So, the over exposed nature of the photo, actually gives the photo an unintentionally cool effect. So, I ran with it.

Have fun with your artifact photos. Your 'mistakes' just might turn into great effects.

After you photograph your 'fad' memorabilia, leave a link in the comments section to your blog post or Flickr feed showcasing your photos so we can all celebrate your work.

27 February 2013

Heritage Scrapbooking: Funeral Pages

I have shared a number of Story Pages from two of the heritage scrapbooks that I have created. I certainly hope that you have been inspired to create stories about the lives of your ancestors.

When I created my father's family history scrapbook, he had passed away. So the final layout of his scrapbook would have to focus on how his life came to an end. My father, Robert Geiszler, died in Las Vegas, NV after attending a pageant.

Heritage Scrapbook Death Certificates
Closing page for Robert Geiszler's Heritage Album
Family History Scrapbook page uses: Death Certificate and Funeral Program

My mother provided much of the details for the written portion of dad's layout. I also incorporated the program from his funeral service and his death certificate. I want to have my heritage albums include the vital documents in a flattering way. To top off the layout, I included a photo of my father in his latter years.

Normally I would add some type of title to every scrapbook page. However, since this page comes at the end of dad's album, I felt the years 1946 - 2004 in a metal book plate was enough title for the page. The content clearly indicates what this page was about.

I added a few metal accents to anchor the items to the layout and the page was complete.

Depending upon the artifacts you have from a funeral, you could include other items. If this was a longer scrapbook project, you might have created a two page layout and included more from the service. Just remember the scope of your project. If it's your first heritage scrapbook, keep your page count small so that you will actually complete the project. Generally this will be a one page layout.

I would love to see some of the end of life pages you have created that include genealogical documents such as funeral service programs or death certificates. There might me other items that you photographed that I haven't mentioned. I would love to see how you incorporated them in your layout. Feel free to share a link in the comments section so we can all benefit from seeing your work. \

26 February 2013

Tombstone Tuesday: Mildred Long Arnold

I'm doing another happy dance, though I've been much delayed in reading about it. Life got the best of me in December, and I'm finally catching up. In any case, another Find-A-Grave success story to share.

Daniel and Mildred Arnold Grave market
Mildred Long Arnold's Find A Grave Memorial #41714802
Thank you Mona for fulfilling this request. I LOVE seeing this stone and how ornate it is. Mildred Long Arnold (1892 - 1984) is a distant cousin through my grand uncle Frank Long and his wife Inez Stewart. All of these relatives are from Ohio.

21 February 2013

Treasure Chest Thursday: Jewelry

Jewelry can be very difficult to photograph. I still have so much to learn about orientation and lighting. What makes these objects so difficult is their reflective nature. I learned a lot about spot metering on my digital camera when I photographed my grandfather's artifacts (a watch, military bracelet, and name bracelet, and more). I tried to apply these principles to my sorority bracelet.

Photographing Memorabilia
Notice the dark area on the ΑΓΔ face plate? Not good!

I set the bracelet directly onto the white cardboard inside my light box. Unfortunately, I don't like the orientation of this piece. The reflection (which actually includes me) is irritating. I've set this piece away for now and I started working on other items.Why be frustrated? When I learn more, I'll come back to the piece.

So, I attempted to photograph some rhinestone pins that I wore in pageants. I placed the right side of the box beside a window for natural light and I streamed tissue-paper filtered desk lamp light through the left side of the box.

Photographing pageant memorabilia
Photographing Rhinestone pins
f/5, exp 1/13, ISO 100, Spot metering, no flash

Instead of the cardboard, I placed a white piece of muslin inside my light box. Underneath the fabric, I placed some fiberfill left over from a craft project. I adjusted the 'based' until my rhinestone crown pin and my flag pin looked nice. The two objects photographed separately never looked right. I deleted them before I thought about using them in this post. Sorry! When I put these two pins together, I felt like magic was showing up in my lens.

The pins looked a little dull. So I made a few changes with where the lights were positioned.

Photographing heirlooms
Photographing Rhinestone pins
f/5, exp 1/13, ISO 100, Spot metering, no flash
Then viola! Magic! The pins sparkle and shine, as they should.

20 February 2013

Heritage Scrapbooking: Church Record Pages

When genealogists go looking for documents about people, they usually look for census and vital records first. These records are more readily available online. After these records are found, church records have been the next major record to seek after. Church records tell you what faith a person holds and perhaps what kind of life they lived. And church records can easily become a Story Page for your family history scrapbook.

My father's baptism records was kept by my mother, who shared them with me. When creating my father's focal person album, I wanted to include this information. He joined his church of choice as an adult and then practiced that faith through the remainder of his life. 

Church Inspired Heritage Scrapbook Layout
Church Inspired Family History Scrapbook Layout

This layout uses a photo of my father at church about the time of his baptism. His church collection has three documents pertaining to his membership in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. By choosing a layout with two vertical sections, the documents can be grouped together. I placed a a brown pattern paper under the documents for a touch of contrast between the white documents and the dark blue paper. I wanted the documents to be the focal element on the page

If you read the Baby Page or Mother's Page for this album in previous posts, you'll notice the entire album's color scheme is navy, green and brown. When the photo was on the navy background paper, it did not stand out. When a green mat was placed underneath, the photo was defined. The addition of a the title tag layout over top, brings your eye to the rest of the page after looking at the focal element. 

For the journaling, I summarized the lengthy story of how my father joined his church.  I also included what prevented my mother from joining at the same time, as they were married with children at the time. There are no pictures of my mother at church, ever. Should I do a scrapbook page about her, I would only have the documents to share. And that would be okay.

If you missed the post about Story Pages you can include in your family history project, click HERE. To review other Heritage Scrapbooking posts, click here.

19 February 2013

Tombstone Tueday" Catherine Kohlbarger Ranck

Hah, Ha! Doing a big happy dance. I requested the gravestone photo for the mother of Clyde W Ranck (who I posted about last week). Since they were in the same cemetery, Sally did it again. How do you thank someone for their work? You say thank you and you do something similar in return. I think I've done both. Time to celebrate.

 Frank O and Katie C Ranck
Catherine Kohlbarger's Find A Grave Memorial # 98128487

Frank O. Ranck is the son of my great aunt Elizabeth Jane Brown Ranck. She preferred the name Eliza Jane or Jennie.

17 February 2013

Personal History Challenge Update

Personal History Scrapbooks
With photos on my templates, I can place
the journaling and titles. Then I can make
the layouts pretty, although this template already
looks nice.
Almost a week has passed and I'm fairly excited to say that I have four scrapbooks with the layouts selected and photos put in place. For those interested:

17 layouts for the 2011 Family Trip to Texas
44 layouts for the 2012 Lee Family Scrapbook
35 layouts for my youngest daughter's 2012 Scrapbook
29 layouts for my youngest son's 2012 Scrapbook

125 layouts awaiting the journaling put in place and decorations!!!

Honestly, the narrowing down of photos, selecting templates that accommodate the photos and placing the photos on scrapbook pages is the most time intensive aspect. I have previously written the journaling for all of these pages as well... now, to place the journaling and make the pages pretty. Whew!

I'm having trouble narrowing down photos from the 2012 Lee Reunion. So I'm putting that project on hold. In addition the travel albums from last year are also challenging. So I have placed 52 layouts for 2 albums on hold for now. My third child's scrapbook requires his input. He's not in a participatory mood, so I'm putting that project on hold until he's more cooperative. So... 3 albums with a total of 90 layouts are put on the back burner, I'm happy with where I am at.

For those who don't know, once I finish these albums, I'll return to working on my ancestors. For now, the living take precedent.

14 February 2013

Treasure Chest Thursday: Use Levels To Improve Your Photographs

Last year, I shared a lot of photographs of the memorabilia I've photographed. I have learned to play with ISO, white balance, focus, exposure bias, and more. I still am understanding how everything works together to make amazing photos. Yet, I am capturing great photos with what knowledge I do have. But, I had have one major frustration, until now.

One of the things that has bugged me is that when I take a photo, my camera's LCD monitor shows exactly what I want my photograph to look like on the computer. When I move the image file onto the computer, the image looks dull and lifeless. I've  tried to adjust my computer to reflect the colors on the LCD monitor but it has not helped. I couldn't understand why the photos, in a light box, were not as awesome as I hoped they would be.

I came across an article that not only showed me how to make a light box, but also what to do when the photo shoot is over. The author recommended using blue 'daylight' light bulbs. I was set to go buy these until I read further down her post. She began to discuss how to make your photographs come to life using a photo editing program and adjusting the levels. I thought I would give it a try.

Here is my grandfather's cuff link
Here is my grandfather's cuff link

 Aside from cropping this photo to reduce the extra white space, this photograph looks lifeless. I want the background to be white, not gray. I would highly recommend reading Ann's post to learn the particulars. I'm going to simply share my application of her tips.

Using levels to improve photos
First, I cropped out the extra white space.

Using levels to improve photos
Level Panel in PaintShop Pro
You can use just about any photo editing software. I'm currently using PaintShop Pro but will be switching to PhotoShop Elements. Which ever program you're using, you'll want to use the sliders under the graph that shows the light and dark colors in your photo. As you'll notice, this photo has a HUGE peak in the middle (the gray I don't want) and little to no light colors. I'll slight the white color adjuster over towards the peak.

Using levels to improve photos
Notice the sliders have moved
When I moved the white slider over, I noticed that the background looked nice and bright. However, the cuff link looked washed out. I moved the black slider toward the right and the cuff link regained natural coloration.

I highly recommend selecting the preview on image box in the upper right corner. You can see adjustments in the level pane, but the really have an impact when you see it on the original file. The adjustments won't take effect until you apply them. This allows you to keep playing with the black, gray, and white adjusters until you have the effect you want.

Every photograph will be different. Some will need the black and gray sliders moved and not the white. Others will only need the white and black adjusters pulled in slighting. Be warned. Not every photograph can be improved. However, knowing about levels has helped me improve numerous photos.

Using levels to improve photos
Final version of cuff link photo after levels are applied.

Here are two other artifacts with their before and after photographs. You can see how levels can improve your photographs.

Using levels to improve photos
Before applying levels
Using levels to improve photos
After applying levels
Using Levels to improve photos
Before applying levels
Using Levels to improve photos
After applying levels
So if you're disappointed in your photographs after using a light box, then play with the levels setting in a photo editor. It just might make all the difference in the world.

Awesome Treasure Chest Thursday Post by Jana.

Treasure Chest Thursday ~ Grandpa Debs' Black Briefcase
Treasure Chest Thursday ~ Grandpa Debs' Black Briefcase
see original post by Jana Last for more wonderful photos.

 I LOVE this post by Jana about her Treasure Chest Thursday find. To read her article, go here: Treasure Chest Thursday: Grandpa Deb's Black Briefcase. It is a brief case with a lot of artifacts inside. Her post leaves the reader in suspense to find out what is inside.

However, I'm a nut from a different tree. I saw the photos and LOVED them. Jana, or her photographer, did a great job. I loved how the photographer (I'll say she until I know different), found two items with a art deco background (perfect for the time period of these objects). She placed one vertical and one horizontal. The combination does not provide a seamless backdrop, but who cares? Honestly, the object has a visual time period suggested by the background pattern. I believe a second vertical side is a mirror. I love looking at the set up and feeling inspired.

What is so interesting is that just yesterday I was wondering about a project that I may or may not do. A friend of my has a home that was built in the 1860s in Iowa. The attic is a genealogist's haven. She has read my blog and wanted to give me more things to photograph. Since the home is an old farm house, much of the objects will be related to that lifestyle. I kept thinking that a white or black background might not necessarily fit with these objects. Could a background be found that will compliment the objects? My mind was flooded with thoughts of burlap. I just might have to try it. But I kept thinking, how do I create a burlap set up? Well, Jana's post gave me a clue.

Should I, or you, have old farm stuff, here's what I want to try. I want to find some burlap and cut it to cover two white foam boards, or other sturdy flat object. I would set up in the same fashion as Jana's photographer. One vertical, one horizontal, butted up against each other. Perhaps I'll set something underneath the horizontal one to raise it a bit and soften the junction where the two boards meet. Then I'd create a third side with a mirror. The mirror would simply reflect the background and bounce the light back on my subject.

Oh, yeah. I'm inspired. Thanks Jana for a great post. Now... to find some farm period objects and do some experimenting.

13 February 2013

Heritage Scrapbooking: Father's Pages

As a reminder, the purpose of a family history scrapbook is not to cover all the information you know about everyone in the family history. The purpose is to entice people to learn more about their family members. If they want to know more, they'll read a larger family history book. 

Last week feature the mother's page from my father's focal person heritage scrapbook. If you missed it, click HERE. This week I want to share an example of a father's page. Let's look at the one in my mother's scrapbook.

family history scrapbook layout
Father's Page for family history scrapbook
Featuring Lewis Sherman Brown

I am fortunate to have a lot of photos of Grandpa Lewis Brown. However, Grandpa Lew is not the focus of this project, my mother is. Thus, only a one page layout is needed. The template that was the foundation for this layout had three photo spots. I've blogged about Grandpa Lew before. There is much to cover even while I summarize, so a needed a large journaling spot on this layout.

This layout highlights how you can group varying photo colors (black & white, and color) together. By clustering the photos together and showing the progression of Lew over time, the photos do not compete with each other. Instead, they are connected and tell a complete story visually.

Additionally, it's very important to choose an album color scheme that will complement the varying photographs you will have. Neutral color schemes do not clash with black and white or '1970s' colored photos. They enhance them.

When creating a layout about the father's in your heritage project, you have several decisions to make. If you have limited information and photos, fill up the page with larger sized images. If you have a lot of content to choose from, choose a collection of photos and use them in a small size. Then, create a larger journal block.

For embellishments, only a tag and a brad was used. The photos and content dominate the layout. Additionally, this layout features vital information as a 'sub-title' effect. This supports my desire for family history scrapbooks to serve as a genealogical record.

Now that you've seen a mother's page and a father's page, you can apply these same principles to grandparent pages. Based upon the amount of information you have, select layouts that highlight your information.

For more tips and suggestions for creating family history scrapbooks digitally, check out my eBook Create a Family History Scrapbook Digitally in 12 Simple Steps at

12 February 2013

Personal History Challenge... update

Well, I'm cheering on all those who are participating in the February Writing Challenge. I am enjoying all the posts my favorite blogs are sharing. Way to go!

As for me, I have my yearly personal history book almost ready to print. The photos are in place and the writing has been proof read. There will always be mistakes, but that makes us human. The only challenge now is to find a print-on-demand service that does 8.5x11 books like did. I have used their service at least twice, if not three times for this project. I think can do what I hope for. We'll see.

Now that last year's personal history project is complete, it's time to get started on this year's. Personal history never stops.

I have also sorted, organized, created sub-topics, written the journaling, selected templates, and placed photos for 98 scrapbook layouts. 16 of these layouts have the journaling in place. These 98 layouts go into 4 different scrapbooks: Travel album from 2010, family album 2012, and my two youngest children's 2012 albums. The third child's album needs to be written about though the photos have been selected for his album. He's a feisty guy so this might take a bit. However, the two oldest kiddos are working hard on their scrapbook independently.

I need to pick out layouts for 24 more layouts for the above albums. There are two more album that I am working on: trips from 2012 and Reunion 2012. That's another 52 layouts. Most of the journaling is done for these last albums but some fine tuning will be necessary.

So my totals:
98 layouts with photos placed
24 layouts need templates selected
52 layouts need templates selected and journaling finalized
 174 Total layouts for 6 albums

The seventh album will have at least 38 layouts.

So when I'm done with these personal history scrapbooks for my family... I will have completed 212 layouts. Whew! 46% of the layouts are ready for placing journaling and decorating... my favorite part. Not to bad.

Personal history scrapbook
Collection of scrapbook pages in progress. Pictures placed on
scrapbook templates. Awaiting journaling and decorations!

Doing this many in a short time frame inspires me to do this throughout the year. We'll see. I have a birthday quilt to make by Christmas and two quilts to tie in the meantime. Plus, I still have a lot more to write about the Geiszler and Brown families from the trip in May. Yep... I'll need to pace myself this month and throughout the year 2013.

Tombstone Tuesday: Clyde W Ranck 1916-1996

Clyde W Ranck  Tombstone
Clyde W and Madeline G Ranck
Fernwood Cemetery, photo by Sally

 Have I shared just how much I like Well. I do. And this is a reason why.

Clyde W Ranck is my great aunt Elizabeth Jane Brown's grandson. Perhaps I shouldn't be poking around for such extended relations, but when I hit brick walls or when I'm bored, I explore a little.

Well, I found Clyde's death certificate that placed Clyde in the Fernwood Cemetery in Lockbourne, Franklin County, Ohio. I added his information to the Fernwood Cemetery and placed a photo request. In a short amount of time, the request was filled. Hooray! So yes, I love volunteers at Find-A-Grave. Thank you.

Now if only we could get some folks over to Green Lawn Cemetery in Columbus, Franklin, Ohio. There are 1,500 requests that need filled, including some of mine. If I lived closer, I would take up the task.

To visit Clyde Ranck's Find A Grave Memorial, visit here.

11 February 2013

Mystery Monday: Mystery Solved... sort of

Genealogy Mystery Solved

My mother did a lot of research in the late 1970s. Unfortunately, organization was never her strength. Yet, much of what she passed down to me showed her attempts at being a thorough researcher. One such record was from a conversation she had with Green Lawn Cemetery in Columbus, Franklin, Ohio.

Genealogy Research Notes
Notes from Conversation with Green Lawn Cemetery
Nov 24, 1976
As you can see, she records the date she called Green Lawn Cemetery and the phone number she used. She has some sort of document number (023) but I have lost the pages where this made more sense. She wrote the person's lot she was inquiring about Philip Smith, Lot 43, Sect 35.

On this list, I have been able to figure out who most everyone is. The only person I've had a hard time figure out is who George E Tooill's infant son is. Quite honestly, I had no idea.  Searching infant son Tooill kept coming up blank. Or at least, I couldn't understand the relationships.

My maternal third great-grandfather Philip Smith had a second wife named Mary who I believe has the maiden name of Smith. Very confusing, but I'm quite certain it is the case. Mary's father on the Green Lawn Cemetery records refers to her father as Daniel Smith. Her son Orlando is buried on this plot. Her step-son Andrew Newlson (Philip's son from his first marriage) is also buried on this plot. Well, I started poking around with my 2nd great grand father Andrew Nelson's step-siblings. There were two more: McKendree Smith and Louella Smith.

I've researched McKendree a little and discovered he became a Doctor. Pretty interesting stuff. The connection to the Tooills was not established. So, I started playing with Louella Smith.

I found a marriage certificate for Louella to George W Tooill. I thought that name sounded familiar. I found a death certificate for Louella Tooill in the year 1929. When I went to, I found a Memorial for Louella. Lo and behold, the Memorial links to an infant son in the Green Lawn Cemetery. I did a rough search to determine if George W Tooill was a common name. It doesn't appear to be. I'm quite certain that too many facts line up to help me establish that the mystery child is indeed the grandson of Phillip Smith, my 3rd great-grandfather.

 Yeah! Now... if I only know more about Louella and could track down a death certificate for the infant or a news article of some such. Perhaps I could know why this little youngster died. But for now, the mystery of who is George W Tooill is solved.

The infant child did not receive a stone on the plot, nor did Philip. So, I've included a plot photograph to remember this section by. You can see that Mary E Smith, Philip's second wife did receive a stone.

Leon Philip Smith family plot
Philip Smith Plot in the Green Lawn Cemetery

10 February 2013

Cousin Bait: William H Peak and Emily Jane Stone

I'm looking for information on William Peak and Emily Jane Stone as well as their children. My genealogical connection is they are my third great-grandparents through their son William Talbot Peak.

William Talbot Peak moved to Ohio after he married Evaline Townley (of Cincinnati, Hamilton, Ohio) in 1892. The settled in Columbus, Franklin, Ohio. William seems to have lost contact with his parents and siblings.

I have some vital and census information about William and Emily Peak. I would really like to learn more about their lives, which is why I'm casting this fishing line.

Here's what I know:

William H Peak
born abt 1839 in Kentucky
died before 1880

married on 26 Mar 1862 in Anderson County, Kentucky

Emily Jane Stone
born 8 Dec 1836  in Kentucky
died 12 Nov 1913 in Dayton, Campbell, Kentucky

William Peak and Emily Jane Stone had the following children:

William Talbot Peak (19 Apr 1868 - 6 Feb 1931)

Annie M Peak (1873 - bef 1900)

James H Peak (Nov 1874 - )

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 Peak ancestors and land on this blog. Perhaps the distant relative will be inspired to connect with me after reading this post.

I do have some information to share about William Talbot Peak's family.

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.

09 February 2013

Brown Family History: Emma Brown nee Townsend

Last week I shared the childhood of Sherman Lewis Brown. I hope to share more about Sherman in the future, but something tells me not to give away the farm with family research. So, I don't know. We'll see.

In any case, this week I'm going to focus on what little information I know about Sherman's wife Emma Virginia Townsend. Hopefully a Townsend relative might have more information. Most of the descendants of Emma and her husband Sherman know even less about Grandma Emma than I have gathered. Bummer.

Emma Virginia Townsend was born on 15 Jan 1880 in the village of Valley Crossing, located in Marion, Franklin County, Ohio. This information was recorded in her personal bible. The pages with this information has been torn out and preserved in plastic of some kind. The full bible was discarded long ago. (I need to find a map of this area as these villages and townships no longer seem to exist). 

Emma is the eighth of ten children born to William James Townsend and Mary Claybaugh of Franklin County, Ohio. Emma's oldest sibling (Nancy Elizabeth Townsend) was 15 and the youngest (Harry Augustus Townsend) was 3 at the time of her birth. Her father was a farm laborer and her mother kept house.Five months later, appeared in the census in 1880 in Hamilton, Franklin, Ohio.2 

Over the course of ten years, a host of other things happened in Emma's family. When Emma was four, her brother Samuel Leroy Townsend was born on 8 Jul 1884. Emma would later name her second son Samuel Leroy, so she must have been very fond of him. 

On 14 Nov 1885, Emma's sister Ida Jane married Loren H Sanborn. In August 1886, Emma became an aunt at the age of six as her nephew Albert Sanborn was born. The following year, her youngest sister Ethel Mae was born on 10 Nov 1887. Her oldest sister Nancy Jane married Dorwin Isiah Miller on 11 Oct 1888.

Sometime during the year 1889, Emma's father William died. Where and exactly when he died is still unknown to me. However he was buried in Obetz Cemetery in Franklin County, Ohio. His stone indicates that he served in the Civil War with the Ohio 133 Regiment, Company K and had the title of Pft. Hopefully a search of Civil War records will help me find out more about William.

Emma married Sherman Lewis Brown in 1895. The 1900 US Census3 indicates that Emma is the literate mother of one living in a rented home on Jackson Street. She's been married 5 years. (Both of her parents are from Ohio). This son is named Eugene.

Sherman and Emma Brown, c1922
Harry Mingus and Lewis Sherman Brown

What no census ever mentions is that Emma stood only 4'11”. When her four boys grew up, they would tease her about how short she was. In fact, her son Lewis would stand up, hold his arms out parallel to the ground. Emma would then walk underneath his arms to show just how short she was. Lew was five foot eight!

When Sherman died in 1937, Emma went to work as a shoemaker to support herself. Radio soaps were her popular pastime when not working. 

Emma Virginia Townsend BROWN
c. 1942, after a stroke left her an invalid
Emma's youngest son Lewis and his bride Louise lived with her after the couple was married. Emma was an invalid at this time, after suffering a stroke previously. She died on 26 Jun 1943 at the age of 63 in Columbus, Franklin, Ohio. Emma was buried beside her husband Sherman on 29 Jun 1943 in Obetz Cemetery.4

Photo by Devon Lee 
Find A Grave Memorial # 64801742

That's about all I know specific to Emma. I wish I knew more about her and her Townsend family. Hopefully someday I'll know m ore.

1. Emma Virginia Brown, loose pages from her personal bible, dates range from 1826 to 1945, Brown Family Bible (publisher unknown); privately held by  Devon Lee.  

2.  "U.S. Census Population Schedule, 1880" database, FamilySearch; (http:/ Hamilton, Franklin, Ohio; Roll: 1015; Family History Film: 1255015; Page: 188A; Enumeration District: 9; Image: 0479.

3., 1900 United States Federal Census, Year: 1900; Census Place: Columbus Ward 4, Franklin, Ohio; Roll: T623_1267; Page: 9B; Enumeration District: 57.

4. Emma Virginia Brown, death certificate No. 37378 (1943), State of Ohio, Department of Health, State Vital Statistics Unit, Columbus, Ohio.   

07 February 2013

Treasure Chest Thursday: Shoes

Do you have (or want) a shoe collection that take takes up three wall-to-ceiling organizers? Did you save your baby's first pair of shoes? Do you save a pair of shoes related to a sport you played in high school? Do you have a pair of Dutch wooden shoes that your ancestor use to wear?

The shoes we wear tell a lot about who we are or were. They also tell us a lot about our ancestors. If you have shoes that have a story, you and your camera have some work to do. 

How to photograph shoes
Treasure Chest Thursday Challenge: Shoes

Shoes are fun to photograph but they take a little bit of work. These shoes aren't actually mine. They're my husband's. He was in ballet as a teenager and his mother kept a pair of his slippers. By the looks of the slippers, he got a lot of use out of them. As he saw the improvement in my personal artifact photos, he suggested I do his as well. Thank you dear! It was fun.

For the shoes, my DIY light box was the perfect shooting spot. The box was placed on top of another box which sat on the floor. This allowed me to place a desk lamp directly over the top of the light box. The light filtered through the cutout opening on the top of the box. This opening was covered with white tissues paper. This tissue paper filter, softened the light. 

How to photograph shoes
Shoes in light box with black background
f/4.5, exp 1/5 sec, exp bias -0.3, ISO 100,
Center Weight Average metering mode, no flash

Initially, the ballet shoes looked terrible, no my eye, with both 'top sides' facing up. Before taking the first photo, I flipped one over and crossed it over top. I thought the first photo off the camera was incredible. So I focused on trying to make the ballet slippers look their best.

Treasure Chest Thursday Challenge shoes
Shoes in light box with black background
f/5, exp 1/4 sec, exp bias -0.3, ISO 100,
Center Weight Average metering mode, no flash

For the second photo, I shifted the orientation of the subject. Not bad. But something wasn't right.

Photo Friday Challenge Shoes
Shoes in light box with black background
f/5, exp 1/4 sec, exp bias -0.3, ISO 100,
Center Weight Average metering mode, no flash

I flipped the shoes so that the top sides were both facing up again. I didn't think I would like this look. But after I snapped a photo, it really looked better. So, the lesson I learned is to experiment a little.

How to photograph ballet slippers
Shoes in light box with black background
f/5, exp 1/4 sec, exp bias -0.3, ISO 100,
Center Weight Average metering mode, no flash

I kept experimenting until I found something I really liked. For some reason, this orientation grabs my attention. The advertising major in me wants to believe that this photo demonstrates movement. The shoes bring your eyes across the natural flow from upper left to lower right. Then the 'larger' portion of the shoe, the toes, has greater emphasis. I suppose that's fitting since one thinks of pointed toes when one thinks of ballet.

So... grab your camera, and grab your shoes and take some photographs. Also try a natural light setting to see if that works well with your shoes. You might try putting your shoes in creative places to help tell the story through the background. It's so important to have fun while photographing our shoes for family history purposes. The more fun you have, the more it shoes in your photographs. And the more fun a photograph is, the better it helps tell your or your ancestor's story.

Go photograph your shoes and record their stories. Then leave a link in the comments section to your blog post or Flickr feed showcasing your photos so we can all celebrate your work.

06 February 2013

Thankful Thursday: Family Group Sheets Online

I'm excited but there is an ugh too. So... I had this thought that I'd LOVE to see the old family group sheets that were submitted by my research predecessors. And, the Family Search website now has them online, Old Family Group Sheets. Yeah! I'm looking forward to seeing these files to see if they have sources. Yippee!!!

Here's the only ugh. The blog announcing these new online records gate the dates available. The time frame is from 1942 to 1969. Well, I need to find out more about the records from 1969 - 1979. My mother's records are in that time frame. We had some records but some of them were destroyed, by a novice genealogist (er, me a decade ago) and by other careless preservation efforts. 

Regardless, I know some records will be valuable and I can't wait to see them.

Heritage Scrapbook: Mother Page

Heritage scrapbooks that focuses on one person are the easiest to create. Focal Person albums feature the person, two generations of ancestors and two generations of descendants. To keep the size of the project manageable, I recommend creating a one page layout about the subject's mother and one about their father.

Last week, I shared a baby page from my father's focal person album. This week, I'll share his Mother's Page. You can see between the two layouts how choosing a color scheme unites the entire album.

I have a few stories and a number of documents about my grandmother. My photo collection shows her as a young child and into her adult life. It was hard to remind myself that I needed to keep the focus of my father's album firmly in mind. The collection of photos will be used, only in other projects. Knowing this made creating the page for Grandma Helen Zumstein Geiszler a cinch.

Mother's Page for Family History Scrapbook Album
Mother's Page for Heritage Scrapbook Album

The newlywed photo of Grandpa Bob and Grandma Helen is just amazing. Most relatives have shared how very much in love the couple was throughout their life. This photo shows that love. I selected a second photo that shows Helen as an older woman. At the time, it was the best of my photos from her later years.

The journaling highlights the basic facts of her life with some additional comments. For instance, I provided her birth date and parent information. Then I included that she was the first of her siblings born in the United States. A little detail that isn't available on a pedigree chart or birth certificate.

The journaling was a brief biographical sketch of Helen. I will have to write more about her on this blog and in a manuscript that I'm always working on. Know this fact allows me to keep the journaling brief on the scrapbook page.

You'll notice I added more embellishments on her page than my father's baby page. The upper right corner could have held another photo. However, I created an embellishment block. The block has a tag with the title “My Mother." A few flowers and additional elements, complete the look. I really liked having the embellishments contained in this block. With the elements contained, they worked together to enhance the overall layout rather than compete for attention with the photos and written information on the page.

Now you can see the purpose of a Mother's Page in a focal person album. The layout is a single page. The journaling is a brief biographical sketch. You'll want to include one or two photos to show her over time. And you can have fun with embellishments. I look forward to seeing scrapbook pages that your create about the mothers in your family tree.

05 February 2013

Tombstone Tuesday: William James Townsend

In last week's post I shared how Chad Graham was in the Obetz Cemetery in Franklin County, Ohio. He found the tombstone of Harry A Townsend. This week I'd like to share the photo he took of William James Townsend, Harry's father and my 2nd great-grandfather.

Photo by Chad Graham
Having a photograph of William's gravestone opens up a WHOLE new world for me. I know that the Obetz Cemetery Office has no further information about this stone. In fact, they couldn't direct me to it when I visited in May 2012. I honestly had no idea it was in the cemetery, which causes me to wonder how Chad found William. It's possible that my reference to the section indicated by the Franklin County Cemetery Index helped Chad.

In any case, the inscription reads:

William James Townsend
PVT Co K 133 Regt Ohio Inf
Civil War 
1842 - 1889

William is buried beside his son Harry A Townsend. I wish there were other markers for Townsend to help me solve more clues to my puzzle. Where was William's wife Mary Claybaugh buried. Her death certificate said she was buried in Obetz Cemetery. Did she never have a stone? Was it destroyed? Not having a photo or not standing in the plot keeps me clueless.Also, where is Harry's wife? Why was only father and son on this plot? Isn't it amazing that one mystery is solved but others are generated?

Okay... my eyes were also drawn to the star above the stone. I think it's associated with William having served in the Civil War. I want to know what that star is and what it's importance is.

Now I have another sad memory that I thought appropriate to share. When I visited Obetz Cemetery, volunteers were placing flags near veteran stones in preparation for the Memorial Day weekend. While I was standing in the cemetery watching the workers add more and more flags, I thought it would be so cool to have someone in Obetz Cemetery to mark with a flag. Little did I know that I did. I did have a great grandfather that fought in the Ohio Infantry during the Civil War. I have the regiment he served in so I'm going to investigate his company's service further. But how sad. I could have placed a flag beside my own family member but I didn't know he was even in Obetz Cemetery.

I'm HOPING beyond hope that some records associated with William and his Civil War service might unlock to the door to his parents. In any case, I can't wait to see where that path takes me. A genealogy conference class gave me pointers on searching military records. Now I'll be able to use it!

02 February 2013

Brown Family History: Sherman Lewis Brown

Nearly two years after the close of the Civil War, Sherman Lewis Browna was born on 4 Feb 1867 in Lockbourne, Franklin, Ohio.b,c,d He is the seventh child of Samuel Curtis Brown, 45, and Martha Gordon, 39. (Sherman Lewis Brown is the father of Lewis Sherman Brown who I have blogged about.)

Lockbourne, B, is
south of Columbus, A
Lockbourne is a small village in rural Franklin County, almost 12 miles south of the county seat in Columbus (population around 19,000). It was located on the Ohio & Erie Canal. The canal was constructed between 1825 and 1847 and ran between Cleveland and Portsmouth..e,f The canals were very popular from the 1830s to the early 1860s and helped Ohio become the third most prosperous state in the 1840s. During the Civil War, railroads became the transportation technology of the time which would lead to the decline of the canal usage. When baby Sherman was born in Lockbourne, the canal business was dwindling significantly and would a flood would wipe out the industry in 1879.

Another transportation improvement was seen in the city of Columbus. The city started having horse drawn street cars in 1863. Should young Sherman have traveled to Columbus, this would have been a fascinating sight to see for young Sherman. Trains, canals and street cars were great advances in the 1800s.

At the time of his birth, his sister Mary Catherine Brown was already married to Columbus Huddle (m 1867). One older brother, Wilden Edgar, had died in infancy. This means potentially four children were in his family home to welcome into the world. Their ages ranged from 17 to 3. (Read more about Levi Brown below.)

All while still too young to understand, America was changing. In the south, reconstruction laws were taking effect and began crippling the economy. In 1868, President Andrew Johnson, who became President after Abraham Lincoln was killed in 1865, was impeached, but later acquitted. The southern states were readmitted into the Union. Additionally, War veteran Ulyses S Grant (of Ohio) won the election that year and took office in early 1869. In 1870, the 15th Amendment to the United States Constitution passed which gave black men, but not women, the right to vote. For Sherman, slavery would not be apart of his life, but the after effects of the Civil War would be.

Sherman, 3, appeared in the census in 1870 in Hamilton, Franklin, Ohio. d  Hamilton is 9 miles south of the city of Columbus and 4 miles north of Lockbourne. The Post Office for Hamilton is still Lockbourne. Hamilton is bounded on the east by the Scioto River.

1870 US Census for Samuel Brown
"U.S. Census Population Schedule, 1870" database, FamilySearch; (http:/ Hamilton, Franklin, Ohio,Lockbourne Post Office, Page 6, Household 38, Samuel Brown; NARA microfilm publication M593
1870 US Census for Sherman Lewis Brown
"U.S. Census Population Schedule, 1870" database, FamilySearch; (http:/ Hamilton, Franklin, Ohio, Lockbourne Post Office, Page 7, Household 38, Samuel Brown; NARA microfilm publication M593

Father Samuel is working as a farm laborer and Mother Martha is listed as keeping house. The children in the home are Jane, 20, Ida, 9 and attending school, Elias, 6, and Louis, 3. It appears that another child, Levi, a twin of Elias, has died before this date. It's not known whether Levi welcomed Sherman into the family home or had died previously. Being a farming family, one wonders if they attended or sent produce to the annual Ohio State Fair which attracted farmers and such from all around Ohio to Columbus.

Another wonder is if young Sherman befriended the Brown family, with two deaf gentlemen, living at the property beside his own. Young children of Sherman's age are extremely compassionate towards such individuals. I wonder if the 57 year-old Ferdinand and the 53 year-old Moses enjoyed having young Sherman next door. Their sister Mary was able to communicate in the hearing world, so she may have run interference between Sherman and the deaf men. It's also possible that this family was more than just neighbors with the same last name. It's entirely possible, but not proven conclusively, that these people were Sherman's aunt and uncles.

Shortly after the 1870 Census, Sherman's sister Elizabeth Jane married Jefferson Babcock Ranck (Sept 1870) married. The couple started their family in Lockbourne. Then two sisters joined the family, Hattie Elizabeth in 1871 and Effie A in 1875. When Sherman was 12, his sister Ida Loie married James Monroe Akison in October 1879 and moved to Madison County, Ohio.

a. Ancestry Family Trees (Online publication - Provo, UT, USA: Original data: Family Tree files submitted by Ancestry members.), Ancestry Family Trees.
b. Family Search, "Ohio Deaths, 1908-1953" database, (http:/ : Entry for Sherman Lewis Brown, died 6 June 1937 Source Film: 4020847, Reference No: fn 38114.
c. Emma Virginia Brown Family Bible Records, 1826 to 1945, Brown Family Bible, "Births", privately held by Devon Lee
d. "U.S. Census Population Schedule, 1870" database, FamilySearch; (http:/ Hamilton, Franklin, Ohio, Lockbourne Post Office, 6, 38, Samuel Brown, head of household; NARA microfilm publication M593
e. Canal Relics,
f. Ohio and Erie Cana, Wikipedia, 

01 February 2013

Writing Challenge... Sort of

Lynn Palermo at The Armchair Genealogist, is hosting a month long Family History Writing Challenge that starts today and runs through the end of the month. The purpose is to have participants focus on writing their family history.

Basically, you pick a person(s) and set your own goal to write about them. You sign up on her challenge website and then start working on your goal. I'm hesitant to sign up for the challenge. Why?

Well, because through the month of January and February, I'm working on the family scrapbooks for the year 2012. I have 6 books to create (family, three children, and two trip books). So, does this count? Especially since I started in January? I'm not exactly sure.

I like to think the spirit of the challenge is to write and that my efforts fit the bill. Besides, once I have these scrapbooks that I create annually finished, I can return to my efforts to write the family history (and make more heritage scrapbooks to boot). And hopefully the living scrapbooks will be completed by the end of the month. Thus, I'm accepting the challenge... sort of.

Here's the other caveat. I won't be posting the scrapbooks on line. This goes back to how do I protect my family?  I might share a few layouts so that I can give credit to the wonderful designers of products I use. But the journaling will not be included. Personal history, is well, personal. And I have to protect the living.

So... again... I'm accepting the challenge, but in my own way. If Lynn says to sign up because my efforts do count, then I'll head over and sign up. Otherwise, I'm also cheering from the sidelines for all who do participate.

Let's share the love of our family this moth (see the Valentine's tie in?) by writing down the stories of our family.

Follow Friday: Timeline Tip from the Armchair Genealogist

Evaline Townley Peak Geiszler
Evaline Townley Peak GEISZLER
circa 1920, Scanned copy, Original in possession of Nancy Wasson
This morning I was working on enriching the story of my great grandmother Evaline Townley Peak who married George Joseph Geiszler. I use Roots Magic and created a narrative report which has this couple in my father's third generation going backward.

Now, the narrative reports help get the ball rolling for writing your personal family history. I love a good place to start. I can't seem to get the RTF export to work so I have to export this report to a PDF file. Then I copy and paste the information from PDF to OpenOffice Writer and I have the skeleton for my family history writing.

So... what does this have to do with a timeline tip from the Armchair Genealogist? Well, I'm getting to that.

I wish I could have saved the three starting paragraphs for Grandma Evaline Geiszler. Had I done so, then I could have visually shared how 3 paragraphs swelled to two pages based primarily upon the Timeline feature that RootsMagic has. Sure I had to jump back to Evaline's father's timeline for a bit of information. And I had learned about a few people that are not directly connected (a godfather, a fiance that died prior to her meeting George, and that fiance's mother for instance). I referred to their timeline as well. With a few extra time lines, I was able to create a richer story about Evaline.

I used the timeline to realize that in the 1920s, a lot of deaths happened to Evaline's family members and friends (the godfather and deceased fiance's mother). However, in the 1940s, her children married and blessed Evaline with 4 out of 6 grandchildren.

After spending an hour expanding Evaline's story, I thought it would be awesome to write about how Timelines can truly enlarge a story. This afternoon, on my Google Reader, it seems that the Armchair Genealogist had the same thought with her post: Gathering Family Facts on a Timeline. I find The Armchair Genealogist a wonderful inspiration for writing my family history. It feels good to k now I was learning something a head of her post for a change.