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

31 May 2013

Photo Friday: Coins in Cases

My husband received a number of coins from a relative. He doesn't collect these types of coins, so I was asked to photograph them for sale on eBay. The purpose was to quickly capture the photos to be sold. I did that. I also feel that the photos were done well enough to be used in a scrapbook about the relative who collected coins.

American Eagle Coin
Canon PowerShot SX110 IS
f/4, exp 1/6, ISO- 80, spot focus

I set up shop in my living room beside the large window that receives excellent filtered light in the afternoon. I used my seamless back drop. And set the camera to AV priority.

The writing in this photo was a bit blurry. Additionally, the color of the box was darker than I had anticipated. My seamless backdrop probably needs to be replaced with something that doesn't wrinkle as easily. In time, in time.

American Eagle Coin Cover
Canon PowerShot SX110 IS
f/4, exp 1/5, ISO- 80, spot focus
This one was a little better as far as the coloration was concerned and the legibility of the writing. With a decent photo of the exterior cover, it was time to pull out the coin case.

Canon PowerShot SX110 IS
f/4, exp 1/5, ISO- 80, spot focus
In a larger view of the box, you can see the details of the velvet-like exterior. I wish the coloration was a little more burgundy or maroon. However, the details are clear and crisp.

Canon PowerShot SX110 IS
f/4, exp 1/13, ISO- 80, spot focus

The coin is actually sizer. This photo makes the coin look gold. I moved the camera around until the coin returned to the silver cast. I also lowered the exposure setting.

Canon PowerShot SX110 IS
f/4, exp 1/4, ISO- 80, spot focus
I often wish I could have 'professional' quality photos. But that would require more knowledge and potentially a better camera. But, I also wonder if it really matters. When is nice, good enough?

29 May 2013

Changing Printing Companies Slowed Me Down

I have been struggling to get my family history scrapbook projects for this year started. It's nearly June, and what do I have to show for it. Well, the photos are organized. Before you think I'm not living up to my Power Scrapbooking or Family History Scrapbook advice, let me tell you where the hold up is.

First, I switched printing companies for our 'offline family blog.' It was so insanely difficult. The company I had been using,went out of business. There were few options for print-on-demand single-run book printing companies that would keep my work private. I finally decided on It was a beast to do this. Uploading my PDFs took a lot of trial and error. But finally, the yearly personal history book is done and the book will be printed. To see what I'm talking about, click on this article Personal History Is Important Too. Now... to wait for to process and ship!

2011 Family Vacation Scrapbook Cover
2011 Family Vacation Scrapbook Cover

I also finally printed our family vacation 2011 book. Yeah, I know... little behind there. Seriously, I didn't decide that the 2011 trip south needed its own scrapbook until sometime last year. Last year I created the 7 yearly scrapbooks (for 2011) and two family history scrapbooks. Plus, I published the two eBooks listed in the sidebar. Along the way, I realized that the 2011 trip needed it's own book to do the story justice. So, I slowly, but surely, worked on the project. Once my eBooks were published and the family and heritage scrapbooks were printed; it was time to finally wrap up this scrapbook!

This isn't exactly a 'digital scrapbooking' blog, so I posted the new techniques I tried on my other blog in a posted entitled Power Scrapbooking Slowed Down by Switching Printers.

In any case, Presto Photo (formerly Viovio) is the company I'm using for my scrapbook. Hopefully, things will turn out and I can finish printing the 2012 scrapbooks, clear off some space on the computer and get back to designing Heritage Scrapbooks that I have planned for this year. (And maybe get a jump start on the 2013 albums.)

25 May 2013

Sentimental Sunday on Saturday for my mother

Penny Virigina Brown of Columbus, Ohio
childhood photos

Today I'm really missing my mother. It would have been her 63rd birthday. In the mountain of photos I brought to Iowa after her passing, I found these three in her album. There were no dates or grades on the back. However, I know she went to school in Columbus, Ohio.

I miss you mother.

24 May 2013

Photo Friday: Color Guard Awards

Last week I shared my letterman jacket. Before that, I shared another letter I received that wouldn't fit on my jacket. All of these items are in honor of high school and the memorabilia we receive from it. I challenge you to photograph your high school treasures (and especially those of your ancestors). And while you're at it, photograph the recent grads and their current items. Preserve it for the future generations to enjoy.

Photographing memorabilia
f/3.5, exp 1/20 sec, ISO 80
Pattern metering, Auto White Balance

Photographing high school mementos
f/5, exp 1/15 sec, ISO 100, bias +0.7
Spot metering, Auto White Balance
We tellcreate a story with the artifacts when we group them together. This photos features a medallion I received for receiving top honors at a color guard soloist competition. Beside the blue ribbon held medal sits the flag corp ring by James Avery that I wore throughout high school.

I took these photos one day using my DIY light box. I placed the box on my ironing board and moved over to the natural light streaming in from the window (left side of the box). I covered a piece of craft fiber fill with a white muslin cloth. Then I placed the medallion on the puff (yep, technical term).

Remember that if you do not like the arrangement of your items, move them around. Do not fall into the trap that your first photograph needs to be your best. Move things around. Put the items on opposite sides from the original position. Raise or lower your camera on the tripod. Just play until you find something that pleases your eye.

f/5, exp 1/15 sec, ISO 100, bias +0.7
Spot metering, Auto White Balance

This arrangement was much better. I know I wore this medal on my letterman jacket along side my band medals. I wore the ring proudly on the hand opposite my class ring. The perfect 'high school' band/color guard nerd. The collection brought back those memories taking a photograph of the medal or ring along did not. If you only have one item, run with it. If you have more artifacts, use them to tell the bigger story.

Have fun celebrating all of the graduations taking place this month. While you're doing so, grab your camera and photograph the artifacts new grads have amassed. Then photograph the artifacts belonging to the members on your family tree. You'll be glad you did.

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.

21 May 2013

Tech Tuesday: Franklin County Probate is Online!!!!

Last May, I visited the Ohio Historical Society to gain access to the Wills in Franklin County, Ohio. I was FRUSTRATED beyond belief trying to access these files. I spent 5 hours trying to locate the will for Karl Pusecker. Ha, ha! I found it in 15 minutes today. It's on line. I'm so excited.

Karl Pusecker Will
First part will for
Karl Pusecker's (1808-1886 of Franklin County, Ohio) 

Here are the simple steps I followed:

  1. Select  Ohio, Probate Records, 1789-1996
  2. Choose county of interest, my selection Franklin
  3. Select: Index of probates 1805-1932 vol 1-2
  4. Search through the index for persons of interest, make note of the information on this index.
    In my case, I was looking for Karl Pusecker. He was found on image 183.
    His will is in Vol K, page 87. Civil Docket is Vol 8 Pg 96, Journal is Vol 27, page 247 (and 288?)
    Tip: Use the index key at the top to determine what page to flip to. I wanted last names that started with Pu... so I needed the page number that started on page 373. Once I had an idea of what page to turn to, I could guess how many images go forward or backwards to.
  5. Go back to the  Ohio, Probate Records, 1789-1996
  6. Choose county of interest, my selection Franklin
  7. This time select Wills 1884-1888 vol J-K
  8. Search through the images until I determine I'm in Vol K, page 96
  9. Karl Pusecker's will began on Image 393!

Do you know what is so great? I made a copy of this will when I was in the Ohio Historical Society library. The copy was TERRIBLE. I couldn't read anything. Now, I have a digital image. I am doing a happy dance!!!!

Now... to find the rest of the folks I couldn't research because it took too long to find Karl Pusecker! I must give credit to Randy Seaver for planting the thought to go see if Ohio's Probate Records were on line through his post Massachusetts Land Records, 1620-1986 Available on FamilySearch - Digital Microfilm

I didn't go searching for Land Records, but they're next! Woo-hoo. I'm going to be researching in my jammies!!!!

20 May 2013

Genealogists are not being pushed out, Reinforcements are being invited in

Perhaps I'm a pot stir-er, but I'm going to share my thoughts in response to Genealogy's Star: Are Genealogists being defined out of Family History? James Tanner seems a little bothered by the following promotional item:

His blog starts off saying how the above enticement to involve more people in the genealogy tent is great, but feels genealogists, in short, are getting a bad rap. I am tired of this hypocrisy. On one hand, genealogists tell you that to know an ancestor, you must move beyond the names, dates, and places on a family tree; but on the other hand, we're not supposed to? Which is it?

Instead of leaving a huge comment on his comment feed, I decided to blog here. Let the pot be stirred.


The genealogy tent is too small. It can and should be larger. 

It takes a long time to build a house if one person is doing every part of construction. But if a designer designs, a framer frames, and electrician does electrical stuff, a dry wall-er does dry wall, etc, etc.... the house gets built a whole lot faster. And, usually the house is built better. Why? Because people who do their part, usually do it well and with more energy than one person doing every piece of the puzzle.

Might you consider this.... how many ancestor's stories and documents have been lost because few people want to be the jack-of-all trades genealogist rather than a player on a family history team?

The LDS Church, and by extension FamilySearch, has been preaching the research proof standard for so many years, very few people want to participate. It's tough. It's time consuming. It doesn't appeal to everyone. I've attended classes and worship service 'lectures' on family history and they are B-O-R-I-N-G to anyone who is not a genea-addict.

Many LDS church members have "Books of Remembrance"  that are copies of copies of copies of family group sheets and pedigree charts. Few have any documents, which is what was preached in the days of my mother-in-law. Why? Because copying those items was more difficult, than copying the group sheets? Because finding those items for inclusion is too difficult? Probably both, and other reasons.

There was an adage, 'don't put anything on the Book of Remembrance charts until you have documented proof of the fact.' Genealogists would say, "Heck yeah! That's right." But how many genealogists also have recorded 'theories' for people until they can find the proof. And what about persons who have no proof? Does a relative knowing the person existed count for something when a documentation can't prove it?

Teaching the masses in this way, has scared far too many people away from genealogy and its cousin, family history. But, how many people who 'aren't into genealogy' have a house full of photos, a head full of memories, or artifacts that give the details of a particular ancestors life?

Expanding the tent put into action

Brown family research team
My Brown Family Team players
When I traveled to Ohio on a research trip, the cousins and aunt I visited with had a wealth of information, but are not genealogists. The stuff they had are priceless keys to so many puzzles that I have still not sorted through.  As I asked these family members the who and what of the photos and artifacts, the stories were recorded. And, some relatives continue to supply me with new things for my research. We're a team. Together we're doing all of the 10 steps listed on the charts above. Sure, I'm playing the 'genealogist' field position, but at least I don't have to pitch, catch, man first base, and play outfield.

Here's another team in my home. My mother-in-law has preserved a lot of documents. I'm so grateful to her. But, she's not into genealogy. I've asked her to do a specific task, scan the family photos. And she's ecstatic to have a specific job. I have a brother-in-law who now has the responsibility of photographing the family artifacts. Sure I could do it, but I'm hundreds of miles away and he's a better photographer. He'll play a role in the genealogy process, without needing to dig for facts. His research loving brother, my husband, will work on that. Three people pulling the wagon, rather than one. Okay, I've lost my sports and camping analogies, but the wagon pulling image fits, especially since this is a family of pioneers!

The importance of genealogist will never decrease

As we invite people to participate in family history, using their best skills, then the wealth of information grows and is richer. The work becomes easier for the genealogist. And less stories, artifacts, and documents disappear.

The importance of research will never decrease. Many, many times, I'll learn a fact, open a brick wall, or extend the tree. Often, I'll come across something, turn to the family and say, "Who knows about this?" That might trigger a memory and I have an answer. If no answer is known, I have more research to do. Genealogists are only pushed out if they choose to be.

By including my family, they buy into the whole of the family story. Again and again, my aunt tells me "Thank you for figuring this out" or a cousin will say, "How did you ever discover this?" Through research. My Brown line is learning we have a Civil War ancestor. No one knew this until I found his gravestone in a less visited cemetery with a terrible record set. Yep... my family members would never have taken the time to research this, but I did. I'm still researching the story, but I know the fact. So you see, there will always be a need for a researcher.

The real question is this: "Do you want more people in the tent or is family history exclusive to genealogists only?"

Is family history only for
I fully believe that there will be people who make 'genealogical errors', because they haven't yet acquired the necessary education. Having been one of those people, as many genealogist humble enough to admit will do as well, until I fell in love with family history, and it's cousin genealogy, I would keep making mistakes. When the passion ignited, the education was sought, and the mistakes were corrected. I know I'm still making some now (fighting those opposed to FamilySearch's new approach might be one of them).

Kudos to FamilySearch for expanding the tent

The people that FamilySearch just might be inviting into the tent are those who have no tree completed at all. I can't tell you the number of people I've discovered as friends of my family members that no one is researching. Do they matter? Are their stories tucked inside a 'non-genealogist' mind, never to be retrieved when they die? How tragic.

Perhaps FamilySearch is inviting people with a house full of documents in file drawers that haven't seen the light of days in decades. Or the people with 50+ photo albums with only a hand-full of them labeled. Or the people with an aged family member who constantly tells stories at family gatherings but no one bothers to write or voice record them. Again, how many times do the 'people who know' die and leave the family guessing. A little invitation to participate, could have salvaged those items. And those things could make the family story a treasure more precious than gold.

I am excited to see people who are in their 80s realize... "I'm not a genealogist, but I can share my stories, label my photos, and give it to a tech savy grandkid to scan and turn into something wonderful." She's no in the tent, that's not for genealogists only.

How do we get more people in the tent? We stop teaching LDS church members, and those who use FamilySearch, about genealogy and we start teaching them the roles in family history. You do that by saying "Family History is more than just dates, records, and research."

I fully believe you won't push genealogist out, you'll invite reinforcements in.

(In case you missed it, I also wrote a post called Tech Tuesday: Family Search Redesign Hacks Off Old Guard Genealogists, but not me about negative posts associated with the redesign).

Zumstein Family History: Early Years of Robert Victor Zumstein

Robert Victor Zumstein was born on 26 Dec 1896 in Gainsborough, Lincoln, Ontario, Canada. He was the oldest of four children born to Robert Walter Zumstein and Adeline Snyder. He was born two years after the couple married on the birth day of his grandpa Henry Zumstine.

Carson, Robert and Muriel Zumstein
Carson, Robert and Muriel Zumstein
His birth certificate is actually a called a "Delayed Statement of Birth". Victor presented himself and certified his own information on July 19, 1967 in Columbus, Ohio. Incidentally, Robert Victor preferred the name Victor throughout his life.

Delayed Birth Statement for Robert Victor Zumstein
Delayed Birth Statement for
Robert Victor Zumstein

Victor was an excellent student. He started school at the age of four. The teacher boarded at their home and she took it upon herself to start him early.

On August 9, 1907, Victor received a certificate that acknowledge his passing entrance examinations required for admittance into Collegiate Institutes or High Schools in Ontario. The certificate was signed by Mr. Ireland who was Inspector of Public Schools in St. Catherines. He was ten at the time of this certificate.

Victor Zumstein School records
Victor Zumstein School records
In June 1912, Victor completed the Middle School Examination for Entrance into the Normal School. The tests were held in Smithville. The subjects tested were English Composition, English Literature, British and Canadian History, Ancient History, Algebra, Geometry, Physics, and Chemistry. He was awarded a Middle School Normal Entrance standing.

17 May 2013

Photo Friday: Letterman Jacket

Photographing Letterman Jackets
Photographing a Letterman Jacket

Continuing on the theme of High School, one of my greatest treasures in high school was my Letterman Jacket. I wasn't an athlete, per the usual awarding of such a jacket, but I was active in 'other activities' such as band, dance, and color guard.

Many of our relatives still have their letter sweaters or jackets, so I decided to share the photo shoot of my jacket with you. Mind you, my jacket is COVERED with patches and such. At one time, I even wore my band and color guard medals on it. Unfortunately, I don't have a picture of me wearing this beloved treasure with the exact arrangement I wore the medallions in. So, I didn't try to attach them for the photo shoot.

Wouldn't it be nice to travel back in time to photograph the jacket on me when I was younger? Well, since that's not the case, I decided all the photos of me modeling the jacket would be 'headless'. However, I share this one photo so that you can see the set up for my studio. It is actually quite simple.

DIY Seamless Backdrop
Adult sized seamless backdrop

My normal photo shoot configuration involves a PVC construction that is just wider than a traditional coffee table. I lay a white muslin fabric over the stand and then onto the table. This creates a seamless background (when the fabric is ironed... hey, someone has to say it). For this session, I reconnected the PVC construction into a larger frame, unfolded the white muslin and created a structure that would accommodate a standing adult. (Yes, I'm not smiling. Remember these photos were only to be show casing me 'headless'. However, I'm willing to share the set-up shot so you can see what I'm talking about.)

The set up was placed in our large play room (can you tell?). We have a directional spot light that was turned on me and then the regular lights were left on. These seemed to provide enough light for our purposes. Now... to stop seeing me!!! (The photographer was my darling hubby. Good job dear.)

Photographing high school memorabilia
f/4, exp 1/2 sec, ISO 100, exp bias +0.7
Center Weight Average metering,
Custom White Balance

With the camera mounted on a tripod, my husband zoomed in for a closer look at the letterman jacket. Before he snapped the photo, I moved out of the frame and he set the custom white balance for the mixed lighting we had. Then I moved back into the frame for the shot.

High School Letterman Jacket
f/4, exp 1 sec, ISO 100, exp bias +0.7
Center Weight Average metering,
Custom White Balance
The purpose of this photo shoot is not to see me in the photos. It's to high light the jacket. So, my husband moved in to zoom in closer. Now, I'm 'headless' and the focus is on the jacket. Why do this? Well, because if I put these photos in with my high school story, I don't want myself 'now' in the photo. I don't want to visually confuse my family history reader. I want them to see the jacket with a body inside and image it being worn by me around school, around town, and at every opportunity.

High School Memorabilia
f/4, exp 0.6 sec, ISO 100, exp bias +0.7
Center Weight Average metering,
Custom White Balance

Heritage artifacts
f/4, exp 0.8 sec, ISO 100, exp bias +0.7
Center Weight Average metering,
Custom White Balance

For most folks, they could be finished after a few shots of the jacket on a model. However, my sweet (and slightly insane) mother hand sewn all of the patches on the sleeves. The sleeves were made of leather (or a variant of leather). For those who know, that is one difficult material to hand sew. My mother's poor fingers were calloused and bleeding after all of this work. When I told her I didn't really need all those patches on there, she wouldn't listen. If I earned the patch, she wanted it on the jacket. Like I said, she was slightly crazy. But honestly, she was just proud of me. Can you tell?

For the close up of the patches, I didn't want any movement in such a tight environment. So, I took the jacket off and placed it on the ground of my set up. I adjusted the tripod to this "from above" shooting position. Before taking a photo, I moved the jacket out of the way and took a custom white balancing adjustment. Then I returned the jacket to the frame. As you will see, I took various photos of the jacket to capture the various patches on the jacket.

Photographing Band Memorabilia
f/4.5, exp 1/10 sec, ISO 100, exp bias +0.3
Center Weight Average metering,
Custom White Balance
Photographing Flag Memorabilia
f/4.5, exp 1/13 sec, ISO 100, exp bias +0.3
Center Weight Average metering,
Custom White Balance
Photographing Color Guard Memorabilia
f/4.5, exp 1/15 sec, ISO 100, exp bias +0.3
Center Weight Average metering,
Custom White Balance
Photographing Competitive Memorabilia
f/4.5, exp 1/13 sec, ISO 100, exp bias +0.3
Center Weight Average metering,
Custom White Balance
Photographing Marching Band Memorabilia
f/4.5, exp 1/25 sec, ISO 100, exp bias +0.3
Center Weight Average metering,
Custom White Balance
Photographing Patches
f/4.5, exp 1/15 sec, ISO 100, exp bias +0.3
Center Weight Average metering,
Custom White Balance
Photographing Music Memorabilia
f/4.5, exp 1/20 sec, ISO 100, exp bias +0.3
Center Weight Average metering,
Custom White Balance
Photographing Band Memorabilia
f/4.5, exp 1/20 sec, ISO 100, exp bias +0.3
Center Weight Average metering,
Custom White Balance

These are all photos going down one sleeve. (I know, crazy right?) Time for the other sleeve.

f/4.5, exp 1/10 sec, ISO 100, exp bias +0.3
Center Weight Average metering,
Custom White Balance
f/4.5, exp 1/13 sec, ISO 100, exp bias +0.3
Center Weight Average metering,
Custom White Balance
I liked the photos I had of the front on the model (er, me). I wanted some more close-ups of the back patches.

f/4.5, exp 1/13 sec, ISO 100, exp bias +0.3
Center Weight Average metering,
Custom White Balance
f/4.5, exp 1/15 sec, ISO 100, exp bias +0.3
Center Weight Average metering,
Custom White Balance
f/4.5, exp 1/10 sec, ISO 100, exp bias +0.3
Center Weight Average metering,
Custom White Balance

Now I have a great collection of photographs showcasing my letterman jacket. It's a story of my accomplishments, my interests, and my mother. I will definitely have a great assortment of photos to tell the story fully. In case you missed it, the jacket actually has another letter not on it. Where would it go?

If you have family members (including yourself) who received a letterman jacket, I encourage you to photograph it. Grab a model or use a mannequin to fill it out and give the jacket or sweater shape. Photograph the little details as well. Then, write the story of how and why the relative received the award.

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.

15 May 2013

Heritage Scrapbooking: Remember the Farm

Now that I have focal person heritage scrapbooks created for mom and dad, I am starting to work on other stories that are worth scrapbooking. I'm a big believer in printing bound albums for family history projects. The page below will be place in a book about my Zumstein Family Heritage. I know this scrapbook will be enjoyed by my children, but hopefully other Zumstein relatives will enjoy my work as well.

Heritage Scrapbook Layout
A cabin to cry about, by Devon Lee
credit: paper and embellishments by Coreen Silke, Spa Holiday

My father's mother (Helen Zumstein Geiszler) is a descendant of Paul and Phebe Zumstein who emigrated from Bavaria to Canada. I love the story that is told about Phebe's reaction to the log cabin that was being built by her sons who arrived earlier.

Here is the journaling:
Paul and Phebe Zumstein were eager to leave Bavaria to avoid any more war and government upheavel. Four of their sons emigrated to the New World in 1851. Nicholas (abt 27), Peter (abt 25), and Paul (abt 15) moved to Ontario, Canada, settling on the Elcho road near Wellandport. Henry (abt 18) went to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and there found work.

The Zumstein Cabin was built on a farm in Lot 6, Concession 2, Gainsborough Township purchased by Nicholas from a Tannatt H. Thomson. The land was still covered with woods.

With these arrangements established, Paul and Phebe sold their property in Bavaria and moved to Canada.  The story is told that when Phebe saw the log house which was being built, she had a moment of anxiety. The doors and windows were to be cut in after all the logs were laid, but she didn't understand. When she asked how they were to get into this new house, she was told that one must climb over the walls with a ladder. She sat down and cried.

The cabin was replaced by a frame house built by Paul's son Heinrich and later by a brick house. The cabin no longer stands but the story of Phebe's reaction to her new home has been shared throughout the Zumstein generations.

I LOVE how Phebe sat down and cried! Imagine your immigrant ancestor coming to a new world. Her sons left before her. She is in great anxiety about leaving her homeland, despite how fearful it was. She's in a new world and surely wants to quickly set up house for her family which consists of adult sons and an 11 year-old daughter. And her sons, who must have been great kidders, tell her she must hoist herself into this new cabin over a ladder. Knowing my husband and his brothers relentless teasing of their darling mother, I can fully envision Phebe and her emotional distress.

I encourage you to create an initial family history scrapbook about one specific person in your family. My book, Create a Family History Scrapbook Digitally in 12 Simple Steps, can help you get started. For a story page about your feature person, you can scrapbook the ancestral home. Be sure to include the story about the home whenever possible.

13 May 2013

Motivation Monday: Scan so your grieving children can grieve

Please scan and label those photos
Scan and Label: It's your responsibility

My dear mother passed away in December. Being the only one of her two children who is passionate about genealogy, the papers and photos came to me. Hallelujah!

Wait... all of those photos and papers came to me. AAAGGGHHH! That is a ginormous mountain of photos. Believe it or not, it's also half the size it should be (but that's another story).

I barely have enough room in my home for my kids things. Now I have have the Geiszler/Brown photo albums. And I have to transport everything from Texas to Iowa? You've got to be kidding me.

Well... this patient and willing genealogist did just that. And as I scanned all of the old photographs, guess what. A large portion of them were not labeled. Really? Mom really tried. Having seen her label 'so much' and her work on the family history, I thought she would have had more labeled. Alas, it was not the case. So, now I have a lot of AWESOME photos of her friends and a variety of relatives... and no clue to who they are.

And as I scanned and scanned and scanned all  of those photos, I cried and cried and cried. Yes, I miss my mother. That's part of it. But, I cried because the burden of the family history is fully on my shoulders. And it's a tough load to carry. And many times, I wonder if anyone will really care. But honestly, I cry because much of this could have (and possibly should have) been done by my mother. She knew how to work a scanner, manipulate photos, and tell me who these people were. But, she didn't and now she's gone.

As my family carted this mountain of treasures to our home, we stopped at my husband's parent's home. My husband is inspired by the new design of His mother and aunt are as well. THANK YOU FamilySearch! It's so easy now to add photos and label them. All we need is a huge army of people with the family photos to scan them (and crop them please). Upload them to and tag the people in them. And... if you would be so kind, leave a description of these photos.

My aunt and mother-in-law have joined the army. I wish FamilySearch's photo upload had been around when mother was alive.

I pray earnestly for classes at churches, libraries, and archives around the world to show people how to scan photos if they do not know how. Have scan fests. Have scanning service projects. Something. Anything. Get the photos and documents out of the dust pile and  preserve them. Please.

I wish my mother would have spent her free time in her final years of life preserving her memories. Scanning is certainly something she could have done and still watched her favorite television shows. But now, with the mountain staring me in the face, I'm so burdened and saddened. To all genealogists, share my story. Share my pain. Yes there will be time to celebrate the wonderful finds. But I wrote this as an invitations for the 'non-family historians'. I wrote this for grandparents and parents of all ages.

Please, please. Scan and label your family photos. If that is your only contribution to the work of family history. You are my hero.

10 May 2013

Photo Friday: High School Letters

How many of you have received letters to be included on your letterman jacket for high school? Is this a late 20th century thing? Probably. I'll admit, I earned a variety of letters for my jacket and I couldn't even fit them all on! So, here's a photo of the letter that didn't make the jacket...

Photographing High School Memorabilia
f 4.5, exp 1/25 sec, ISO 100
Center Weight Average metering
 This photo is great, but there is a year charm on the school colors tassel. So, I thought a camera shift would allow for this to be seen better.

Photographing High School Memorabilia
f 4.5, exp 1/13 sec, bias +0.7, ISO 100
Center Weight Average metering
Perfect, but the white background looks a little more gray than I had hoped for.

Photographing High School Memorabilia
Level adjustment using PhotoShop Elements
A little manipulation of the white and black level sliders in PhotoShop helped me brighten up the photo. Now it's ready to tell the story of why the academic letter didn't make it onto my jacket in favor of FHA, Color Guard, and Band.

08 May 2013

Heritage Scrapbooking: Inspired by a Baby Layout

Inspiration for family history scrapbook pages abound. You just have to know what you're looking for. When you're looking for inspiration, try a Google image search for 'heritage scrapbook pages'. Some images will take you to Pintrest collections. Some images will take you to Flickr galleries. Others will link to scrapbook galleries such as the one I found at Two Peas in a Bucket.

Inspired by grandmaalynnie
Project-Knickers by grandmaalynnie,
click name to see full details on TwoPeasInABucket gallery.

I really like grandmaalynnie's use of a soft color for the background paper beneath the journaling. It has just a hint of texture but does not distract from the legibility of the text.  I love the dark texture paper for contrast and to visually support that this is a little boy's page. The layout is simple and very effective. I keep looking at the photos and then the text rather than the accents. Yet, the accents tie everything together with polish. Feeling inspired, I found a relative with two baby photos that I haven't scrapbooked.

Childhood hertiage scrapbook idea
Childhood scrapbook page by Devon Lee

I used a digital scrapbook kit called A Narrative from Scrap Girls. The pink background paper and the floral accent in the lower left corner were originally too strong for my style. So, I lightened them with Photoshop Elements. I like how subtle and soft they are. Again, supporting that this is a little girl's page (similar to the inspiration layout). I added the eyelets from a stash of generic digital eyelets that I have.

Most of my scrapbooking is done in the 8.5 x 11 portrait orientation. Printing this size is difficult. However, I love the size when I curl up on the couch to read it. 12x12 is too big and bulky (doesn't fit on my book shelves either). 8x8 is too small. 11x8.5 is awkward to hold. So... I would rather have something that is the right size, though not commonly sold, than anything else. As such, I have to move things around on the page from my inspiration. It was easy enough to do.

The other thing I noticed, is that when I placed Marguerite's name in the lower corner as the inspiration scrapbook page had, it seemed misplaced. When I moved the title under the large text box and moved the tag accent to the lower left corner, the page felt in balance. I love using other people's work as an inspiration for my own. Our styles and photos are different. So, a sample layout might not work exactly for every person's project. However, I love having a great starting point. Thank you grandmaalynnie.

Have fun search the internet for heritage scrapbook page inspirations. You never know what you will find. Just remember that the photos and the story matter and should take center stage. More on that another day.

06 May 2013

Great Grandma Geiszler's Peak Family Photo Collection

Evaline Townley Peak by the family pump,
several photos of the Peak children appears
near this pump.
 c 1910s

Evaline Townley Peak was born on 13 Apr 1893 in Bellevue, Campbell, Kentucky.  Evaline was the oldest child of of William Talbot Peak and Evaline Townley. Three more children were added to the family in the span of 8 years. All but one child was born in Kentucky, with the last being born in Ohio.

In 1900, Evaline and her family were living in a rented home on North Sandusky in Columbus, Franklin, Ohio. William and Evaline Peak had been married 8 years and had three children: Evaline 7, Willie 4, and Harry, 3. William was a prison guard. In 1901, Edith Marie Peak joined the in Columbus, Ohio.

The Peak family was living at 545 Walnut Street in Columbus, Ohio in 1910. William continued to work as a policeman for the city of Columbus. Evaline was 17 at the time.

Bud and Harry Peak. c. 1910s
Bud and Harry Peak. c. 1910s
Edith and Evaline Peak c. 1910s
Edith and Evaline Peak c. 1910s

Harry Peak c 1910s
Harry Peak c 1910s
William 'Bud' Peak beside the family pump
William 'Bud' Peak beside the family pump
During the 1st World War, Evaline's brother William 'Bud' Peak enlisted in the fight. I've just learned that Bud served in this war. So, I have 'Learn More About Bud's Service' on my To Do List. However, I have a few photos of this time period.

William 'Bud' Peak and his mother Evaline Peak
William 'Bud' Peak and his mother, Evaline Peak
C 1917
Bud Peak in WWI Military Group Photo
William Talbot Peak, police officer, and son William Peak, before World War I
William Talbot Peak, police officer, and
son William Peak, before World War I
I shared much of the life of Evaline after she married George Geiszler. See these posts here. I'll continue her life through the view of her siblings and parents here.

Evaline's brother William Richard Peak married Clariese “Clara” Gerlacher” on 7 Jul 1921. This couple apparently never had any children. Evaline's sister Edith Marie Peak married Earl Wiggins on 20 Oct 1923.

Earl and Edith Wiggins with niece Marguerite Geiszler c 1923
Earl and Edith Wiggins with niece Marguerite Geiszler c 1923

Sometime before 1924, Evaline's father and mother divorced, though a record has not been found to verify this fact. Her father William married Cora Rogers on 18 Dec 1924 in Columbus, Ohio. Cora had been married twice before and had two children from her first marriage. Despite this fact, Evaline's mother Evaline referred to herself as married, and then later the widow of William T Peak throughout her life, at least according to city directories.

Evaline Peak, Earl and Edith Wiggins and Marguerite Geiszler c 1926
Evaline Peak, Earl and Edith Wiggins with niece Marguerite Geiszler c 1926
On 24 Oct 1926, Uncle Earl died in Columbus, Ohio. The death was mourned not only by Evaline's sister Edith but also by Evaline's children. On 3 Mar 1929, Edith remarried Myron Burl Hayes. They later had one son John Richard Hayes. 1926 was also a year of loss for Evaline as Bessie Short died (Evaline's fiance's mother)

Edith Hayes and John Richard Hayes
Edith Hayes and who is believed to be John Richard Hayes
 After two years of grieving these losses, a mother's worst nightmare came true as Evaline's son Carl died in her arms of influenza in 1928. And Samuel Barton, her husband's mentor and for whom her eldest son was named, died in 1929 after falling off his roof. Samuel was Evaline's neighbor at this time. Evaline signed Sam's death certificate as no family relation was available to do it.

Evaline Peak nee Townley c 1930
Evaline Peak nee Townley c 1930
Evaline Townley Geiszler nee Peak and her mother Evaline Peak nee Townley
Evaline Townley Geiszler nee Peak and her mother Evaline Peak nee Townley
(yes... their names get confusing)
In 1931, her father William Talbot Peak died on 6 Feb 1931. He father was a Sergeant in the Columbus police since about 1922. The decade ended with the death of Evaline's mother Evaline Peak on 25 Nov 1939.

This post seems so morbid towards the end. However, I don't really know much about the Peak family members. I would LOVE to find a cousin searching for Edith Peak Wiggins Hayes, Henry David Peak, William Richard Peak, or William Townley Peak of Cincinnati, Ohio and then part of the family lived in Columbus, Ohio. I would like to make these sketchy details more rich and full.
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