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30 April 2015

Treasure Chest Thursday: High School Rings

I'll admit, while I was in high school, I wore a lot of rings. I wore my mother's high school ring, a gold letter D ring, a silver James Avery Flag Girl ring, and a silver dolphin ring.

High School Rings
Two of the many rings I wore in high school.
That's four rings, not counting the rings of boyfriends when we were dating. When I was a senior in high school, I also had a pearl and diamond ring that I won at a pageant, and my own high school ring (see above). I'll admit that this was too much. Thankfully, not every ring was the same size so that I could spread them out on my fingers a bit. I just wish I had thought to photograph myself with all the jewelry.

I shared in the Mother/Daughter ring post how having the rings stacked didn't work out to well. I do like the placement of the "D" ring on my high school ring. Perhaps the difference in size makes these rings compliment rather than compete with each other. Also, I placed the D ring on the side where my name is engraved. That conveys a subtle message as well. Gotta love when I can provide genealogical information in my photography!

Long story short, sometimes arranging rings so that they touch or are stacked can be a total flop. Other times, the arrangement is awesome. It doesn't hurt to try.

For more inspiration on capturing and preserving your family history, order my book 21st Century Family Historian.

29 April 2015

Heritage Scrapbooking: Christmas in the 70s

It's time for another installment of personal history scrapbooking with those oh so wonderful 1970 era photos. Last time I shared my big failure of a layout. The biggest problem with the layout was the clashing colors.

Christmas Scrapbook Layout 1970s Photos
Christmas Left Page: 

Christmas Scrapbook Layout 1970s Photos
Christmas Right Page

When it comes to photos from the 1970s, especially if they have red in them, you really need to offset the color processing by having neutral colors with only an accent of color, if needed. When I was looking at the printed scrapbook and saw this page, right after the failed page, I felt a lot better. I'm not a terrible scrapbooker after all. Hooray!

For this layout, I opted for a tan paper with a faint pattern on it. The journaling was another neutral paper. I used the lovely accents to help portray that this was a Christmas themed page. It really works together nicely. I wish I had copied this style to the previous page, but alas, I didn't. You live and learn.

So.. when you're wondering why heritage scrapbook pages use muted color schemes, you know why. These color palettes do not compete or clash with your chosen photos and your reader (and you) can focus more on the stories behind the photos.

To learn more about Heritage scrapbooking, check out my eBooks available at

26 April 2015

Genealogy Conference Recap

Whew! It's is finished. Months of planning and the Summerwood Family History Conference is in the bag. I know I need to take time to recoup from the wonderful experience of having over a hundred people meet together on a Saturday to learn about how to begin or continue their research into their ancestors.

A Successful Conference!

I have learned so much being a co-chair for the conference and hope to find time to write them all down for the next chairperson. With the conference behind me, I can now focus on helping more people dive into family history, work on my own personal and family history projects, and give more time to my family.

I love my husband who was my biggest support through everything. From helping me map out a plan, helping me focus on what matters most, and teaching classes, he was a rock of a man and I'm so blessed to be his wife. My daughter also participated in the conference, sharing a few ideas about her scrapbooking journey. I'm so proud of her for so doing. Finally, I have a dynamite mother-in-law who came into town to watch my other four kiddos so my hubby and I could focus on the conference and not worry about childcare. The kids adore their Nana and she's great at spoiling them the 'right way.'

I'm ready for a good nights sleep that is free of worry about whether people would come after the conference was planned. There were hiccups but there were many things that went so right. I pray God will help those who came to the conference feel an increase in love for their ancestors and find more time and success on their genealogy journey.

23 April 2015

Treasure Chest Thursday: Mother Daughter Rings

Remember the post High School Rings Have Two Sides? In that post, I shared how I wore my mother's high school ring while I was in high school. When I obtained my senior ring, I didn't want to stop wearing my mother's ring. That ring was now a part of me, just as my own ring would now become.

Generations of High School Rings
Daughter on left and Mother on right

As I pondered the last post "Telling A Story" I thought about the story of the mother/daughter high school rings. Thankfully, a little something told me to photograph both of them together.

You can now see that I attempted to mimic my mother's ring design. Most of the folks in my high school class had a 'plain' stone in their setting. I specifically searched through the ring options catalog for a "K" crest representing my high school. I wanted something resembling the "S" on mom's ring. I did choose a more ornate design that mom's, meaning I had my name on the ring, my interests (flag corps and band), and a stone. Mom's was simple and mine was more over the top. However, I love the two rings together. These were the two rings that I wore as a senior in high school and into my college years. They represent mom and me.

Bad ring grouping
Great idea, but it didn't work.

I had seen an idea of placing two rings together in such away that they are 'joined' but distinct. I'll admit this was a wedding photographer tip. I think the tip would work for a man's ring and a woman's ring. Unfortunately, my rings were very similar in size and positioning them together didn't play out well. Additionally, my ring began to look more like a man's ring and my mother's a woman's ring. The story is mother/daughter. I did not like the vibe I was feeling from attempting this arrangement.

It's okay to try out suggestions from a variety of sources. It's okay to fail. There is much learning gained the process.

22 April 2015

Power Scrapbooking: Labeling Hard Copy Photos

How many of you have a stacks of photos that look like this?

Unorganized Photo Drama
Aaackkk!!! They're everywhere!

For the vast majority of folks with this kind of photo collection, your photos are on glossy photo paper. The proper term is a coated paper. In any case, what you need to label these photos is NOT A BALLPOINT pen!!!

Chances are, you had some relatives (or yourself) who wrote on the photos with a ball point pen, and it created indents on the other side of the picture. Back in the 70s and 80s, archival quality pens were not readily available. If someone has written in ball point pen, praise them for doing their best to record the who, what, and why behind the photos. Things could have been worse. Your mound of photos could have no names, dates, and places and the people who know those facts are no longer living.

If you have photos that are unlabeled, you will want to label them. Yes, you'll eventually want to digitize them. For now, label them with an archival quality pen such as the ones sold at Michael's in the scrapbook section by Pigma. You'll notice many of the pens come in a variety of colors and thickness of the pen tip. I prefer a medium-fine tip and the color black.

If your photo collection has old paper backed photos, you should use a soft lead pencil. One traditional archivist pencil is made by Stabilo. You can purchase a pack of 6 for $9.95 from

Practice on a sheet of paper to see how much pressure you typically write with and determine if you need to be more or less firm when you write on the actual photos. You don't want to smash the tip or press too hard to repeat the ball point 'etching' problems of days gone by.

Label Your Photos... Best Thing for Family History
Label photos with Pigma pens

In an ideal world, you'll write on your pictures in a clean, dry workspace while wearing white, cotton-knit gloves.  If you work in a less than ideal situation, do your best to focus on a flat surface that is dry. You want to reduce the possibility of bending your photos more. Clean and dry your hands well before working. Then be as careful as you can to keep your fingers off of the print side of the photo print. (Remember how your mom yelled at you to keep your hands on the edges of your print in the 80s? No? Well, mine did.)

Do the best you can. What is important is that you did your best to label the who, what, and where of a photo on the back so that this information stays together in the future.

For these tips and more, order your copy of
Power Scrapbooking today!

20 April 2015

One Name Place Study: John Townsend of Truro, Ohio

Townsend Study in Franklin County Ohio

The hunt for ancestors continue with the second of 15 heads of households named in the 1880 US Census with the last name Townsend in Franklin, County.

John Townsend Truro Ohio
"United States Census, 1880,"John Townsend, Truro, Franklin, Ohio, United States; citing enumeration district 015, sheet 310B, NARA microfilm publication T9 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.), roll 1015; FHL microfilm 1255015.
In 1880, John and Catherine Townsend and their two boys Joseph and John were living in Truro, Franklin County, Ohio. John Townsend (FS ID: LJY6-82Z) was born in 1814 in Maryland, as were his parents. His wife Catherine was born around 1826 in Ohio, and her parents were also from Maryland. Joseph was born around 1853 and John around 1860. Both were born in Ohio. However, ditto marks by the census maker says the both of the boy's parents were from Maryland. Was Catherine really from Maryland or did the enumerator become ditto mark happy?

If John was related to William James Townsend, he could be a father or even an uncle. The states of Maryland and Ohio are often suggested as possible birth plates for William' family. John died in 1890 in Columbus, Ohio. I've traced him back to the 1850 Census, all the while in Truro. William and John do not seem to cross paths.

Conclusion... a possible relationship may exist but needs to be further investigated.

Previous Posts:
What I Know About William James Townsend
Who else was in the 1880 US Census?

Additional Reading:
That's Everyone Now What?

One Name Study: Elizabeth Townsend of Hamilton, Ohio

Townsend Study in Franklin County Ohio

In the post "Who else was in Franklin County, Ohio in 1880?" I featured 50 Townsends, 17 of which are heads of households. The purpose of the one name study in Franklin County, Ohio is an attempt to find relatives for William James Townsend. This is the first installment of perhaps 15 posts detailing those Townsends of Franklin County.

Elizabeth Townsend 1880 Census Record
Year: 1880; Elizabeth Townsend in household of Geo W Shoaf, Census Place: Hamilton, Franklin, Ohio; Roll: 1015; Family History Film: 1255015; Page: 186A; Enumeration District: 009; Image: 0475

The first name I wished to examine was Elizabeth Townsend (LJBR-MYD) who was listed in the 1880 US Census in the same town as my great grandfather William. The first thing that jumped out to me was that Elizabeth was born around 1838 in Scotland. Her husband could be born in England, if Isabell's Shoaf's (LZD5-C1C) reference to her father (with Elizabeth being her mother) being born in England is an accurate relationship. She's a widow, which would mean that her Townsend husband died prior to 1880. 

In researching other records, Elizabeth's husband does not appear in the 1870 Census either. Elizabeth is living in Columbus, Ohio at that time. Her daughter Isabelle's second marriage (to George Sherman) mentions that Elizabeth's husband's name is John. At present, I can not find a birth or death record for John Townsend. What's 

I compared this information to the possibility of a relationship to William (KCJH-HJJ). He was 38 and born in Ohio with parents from Ohio. If Elizabeth's Townsend husband was William's brother, Isabel should have said her father was from Ohio, not England. Elizabeth's age would prevent her from being William's mother. Other relationships might be possible, but this path looks like it's not a connection.

18 April 2015

He Created a Monster

Miss Palestine 1997 Devon Geiszler
Being local royalty at Children's Miracle Network
was such an honor and a joy.
My husband created a monster!

I'm working on yet another book! Book writing has become much like the Pringles commercial, "Once you pop, You can't stop."

The newest writing endeavor is a personal memoir about my pageant experiences many years ago. The process has been rewarding and captivating. It is even more enlightening than the things I discovered about myself while scanning.

Here's a recap of the writing steps that I have taken thus far:

Step 1: List all the pageants chronically I competed in.
Step 2: Write down all that I remember from each of those pageants
Step 3: Have the hubby read the 'rough draft' and leave comments
Step 4: Revisit at my old journals to see what I may (or may not) have recorded
Step 5: Type the journaling from the paper pageant scrapbook that I created into a digi file
Step 6: Compile answers from Step 3 and notes for 4-5 into the second draft.

I'm still working on Step 5 and I'm flooded with so many great memories and so many discoveries. This process is therapeutic in many ways. It's crazy how addictive this has become. In fact, I really should be done a number of other things (cleaning in the house perhaps), but I'm drawn to this project. As I close my eyes at night, my mind makes connections from everything I have processed that day. I think of things to add to the note taking process and things to ponder. Who knew what I would be getting into when I embarked on this journey?

Devon Geiszler in High School
Is this girl a future beauty queen?
Far too often, family history takes on a stodgy, boring feel. This shouldn't be the norm. Are there mundane, tiresome tasks in genealogy? Yes. Yet, as I say in 21st Century Family Historian, "If family history isn't fun, you're doing it wrong." In this case, the 'wrong' doing is failing to pick a personally interesting goal.

My goal is simply to tell the story of how a headbanger became a beauty queen and what she learned along the way, and after.

Wait! That's not family history. It's not finding names to add to the tree. It's not indexing. It's not sourcing. It's not finding off line resources. It can't be family history.

That's where you're wrong my dear friend. Family history also includes me, you, and our living relatives. Today's personal history is tomorrow's family history. This project is definitely family history and it's personally interesting to me.

Unlike the one I took to Ohio in 2012, this journey to the past is through my past. I'm revisiting the 14 year-old girl who thought entering a pageant would be a great idea. She wasn't into fashion. She didn't wear make up. I mean, look at that hair! So frizzy and not beauty queen worthy. (Okay, I still have frizzy hair. It's a curse.)

As 14 year-old me is revisited in through photos and previously written materials, old me often says "If I had only known then, what I know now" or "I wish I had taken the time to learn ______." There are other moments when I consider connections and think, "Oh, now I understand what was going on."

Don't Let Descendants Spin Your Story
Are you writing it yourself!
(For More Memes, visit Twisted Twigs on Gnarled Branches Facebook Page)

Ultimately, the richer story is coming to the surface. I could leave this process to my descendants and it would probably look like a typical genealogy fact finding mission:

Devon Geiszler participated in:
1991 Miss Fort Bend County Teen Pageant (did not place)
1992 Miss Fort Bend County Teen Pageant (2nd runner-up)
1993 Miss San Jacinto Teen USA pageant (won)

Maybe the descendants will notice the small events in between these competitions. Maybe they'll only focus on the two I won. This would be tragic. Just because I never won the Miss Teen USA or Miss America title, doesn't mean my experience in pageants didn't impact my life. My pageant story may someday be just as important to my descendants as knowing they are related to someone famous or 'great.'

Ultimately, I hope my posterity never says, "My Grandma Devon was in beauty pageants. I wish she had written more about that."

The trick is, I have to do this without creating a monster out of myself or growing any in a messy home because I was too focused on this project.

16 April 2015

Treasure Chest Thursday: Fraternal Companions

In August 2012, I received two pieces of family treasure that I didn't know existed or would ever become mine. I shared the story of how these two rings came to me on my research trip that year in the post Meeting My Father's Cousins and Getting Priceless Treasures. Good things come to those who are patient.

I thought I would share the two rings together as an added bonus. I love word plays, so I hope the pun on the Mason fraternal organization is intriguing but doesn't set off a viscous grammar police arrest.

Mason and Eastern Star Rings
Grandpa Bob and Grandma Helen Geiszler's Mason and Eastern Star Rings
Grandpa Bob and Grandpa Helen truly loved each other from the time they met while she worked as a waitress to their end of life care in a nursing home after their life changing health issues. They were in complimentary organizations and I love that I have both of these rings as a collection to remember them.

Previously, I shared how the orientation of my two education rings conveyed different messages. I thought when they faced each other, they were competing. When they faced in the same direction, they were united in message.

Mason and Eastern Star Rings
The orientation of the rings tell a story of love and support.
With my grandparents' rings, I prefer the orientation where the rings are facing each other. As husband and wife, Mason and Eastern Star, they look toward each other to support and sustain. With these rings facing, that message is subtle yet clear.

For more tips and strategies for recording the 'stuff' of your ancestors, order my book 21st Century Family Historian.

Heritage Scrapbooking: It's Okay To Fail

I'm going to reveal something few people are comfortable doing. Regardless, I want my readers to learn and they can not do that if I'm not totally honest.

I failed. There, I said it. The author of two eBooks on scrapbooking has failed. Shocking, I know.

I made a scrapbook page and I thought it was lovely until it was printed in a bound book. The page will forever be a reminder of my bad attempt and my children and grandchildren will see it. Okay, I may reprint the scrapbook in the future, but that costs money that would be better spent creating new projects. What to see it?

Oh you're terrible. You really want to see someone's total blunder?'

Bad Scrapbook Color Choices
Bad Scrapbook Color Choices

There are many things that I did right in this layout. Let's start there. First, I have the key elements... photos, story, title. Using the grid pattern and dark mats in those photo spots, I down played the poorly cut photos. I even added lovely embellishments in the blank spots to deemphasize the void where a photo should be.

The papers and embellishments do coordinate well which each other. Before you even read the page, you can guess that it might take place around Christmas time. The title "Tea Time" is juxtaposed with the holiday color scheme creating more interest in the page.

Where did I fail? Either you can't see it or you're being very kind.

The photos are from the 70s and they are a beast to work with. No matter how I tried to run a color correction on these photos, they never improved. I opted to take the photos as is. However the red in the photos is not the same as the red on the layout. Thus, there is MAJOR clashing taking place. I see it now because I know what it looks like in print.

When I saw this page in print I was so disappointed. That much read (and differing red hues) muddled the rest of the colors on this layout. I cringe at this page more so that my spelling errors.

However, I have one thing to say. I'd rather create a scrapbook page that is a flop than never create anything at all. Think about it this way... at least the story is captured.

I truly believe many people do not even attempt heritage projects, be it scrapbooking, narrative histories, and so on, because they do not want to fail. However, the real failure is not creating something and locking up the memories with our ancestors who pass away.

I hope my family will appreciate the story and efforts that went behind my story telling and forgive me if I make poor design choices.

To learn more about Heritage scrapbooking, check out my eBooks available at

15 April 2015

Revisiting My Old Journals

My husband has asked many questions about life before we were married, particularly about my involvement in pageantry. He's asked me to work on a personal narrative so that my children will know how I became involved, what I learned, and any other bits of treasures from that time in my life. He also loves the fact that I am a former beauty queen!

Today's Personal History is Tomorrow's Family History: Journaling
What do your journals say?
I started the project by listing the pageants that I remembered competing in and then recording the memories that I have from each event. I'll be honest. I do not remember all of the small events but I do remember many of the big ones. Then I remembered that I had a stack of journals in our home, easily accessible. Surely these would give me more insight to my participation.

Sadly, I do not have any journals from my teenage competition years. I transitioned into the Miss division and the journals seem to start around the time that I won the Miss Paletine (Texas) title. As I quickly flipped through the pages I was surprised at what the young adult version of me wrote and what she didn't.

Devon Geiszler Pageant Win
Now you know why pageant girls should cover
there mouth when they win! Just a little too much
For something that was a big part of my life, I did not write many entries about pageants compared to boys. I mean, I WON THE PAGEANT! I had many duties and appearances and what now. I was so excited (see photos). But the journal entries were a smaller portion of my writings than boys. Really?!?! Was I that boy crazy?

My mother started writing her personal history and never finished it. In fact, her life history focused on all the boys she liked or dated. She never reached the time period when she met and married my dad. I shook my head at how boy crazy she was.

Then, I again looked at my journal. I WAS NO DIFFERENT! Like mother, like daughter. Seriously?!? We were so very similar and I thought we were so different. Ha! Isn't that the typical mind set of the young.

Page after page I flipped. My husband was sitting beside me and I turned red with embarrassment. He made comments like, "You never mentioned that guy" or "Is that who I think it is?" You see, there was one guy who I was crazy about for years, but I had never really told my hubby about him. There was another guy that I went to college with that my husband also knew. I think I'll blush with embarrassment if I meet up with him again too. Thankfully, my hubby and I are very secure in our relationship that there is nothing to worry about from the old crushes and relationships.

The shear volume of boy crazy journal entries compared to anything else in my journal left me wondering about what I didn't take time to record. How much was really lacking about me that my children would wish I had recorded, much the same way I wish mom spoke of something more than just guys.

I haven't kept a personal journal in years, rather I keep a family 'blog book'. I might need to take up this pursuit again and perhaps remember the lessons I've learned. I need to write more about who I  really was and what was going on. I need to write in terms of what I want my children and grandchildren to know (including plenty of small details). I certainly do not want the journals of my life to only speak of 'boy crazy-ness'. I need to leave them more of my story.

Thankfully, I have more journals from my early years of marriage. I haven't looked through those yet but I am certain there will be many things I have left out. Oh how I wish I would have recorded more.

09 April 2015

Treasure Chest Thursday: Telling A Story

Our treasures are often not stand alone objects. They are often part of a collection. Part of an overall story. When photographing my personal and family history items, I pay attention to the story the objects are trying to share.

High School and College Rings on Black Background

What stories do my rings they tell?

The obvious story is that I graduated from high school and I graduated from college. If you look further into the details, you will find the name of the schools and the years I graduated (or my class in Aggie terms).

Another story behind the rings is my father's emphasis on education. My father always told me, "Get your Ph.D. before your Mrs." He believed in the power of education, even though he flunked out of college. He made amends and graduated on his second attempt. Perhaps that is where he began to appreciate education.

Alma Matter Rings on Black

This value could also be from his grand father Victor Zumstein who was a professor at Ohio State University. The rings together seem to emphasize my family's emphasis on education and the fact that I achieved it. I did not and do not intend on receiving anything beyond my B.A. and I'm happy that I am Mrs. Lee. I did receive the Mrs. title three months before earning my B.A. I hope my family isn't too upset that "I got the order wrong."

What does the arrangement of my rings suggest?

High School and College Class Rings
Perhaps I'm over thinking this, but photos are about impressions and the feelings they inspire in a viewer. When the rings face each other, it seems to be the 'two sides of me'. The high school me and the college me pointing at each other. The high school ring is very personalized and symbolized my emphasis on individuality. The college ring looks much like every other Aggie ring, and thus symbolizes unity and being part of something bigger than myself. The arrangement feels competitive. Which is better, individuality or unity?

Alma Matter Rings

When the rings face in the same direction, they suggest a common purpose, a common goal. The goal of educating myself so I can become the person I am today. For me, I am drawn to this arrangement with the black and the white backgrounds. 

Arranging separate items into a group, enhances the story better than each item can convey alone. How those items are arranged in a group can also project a mood or belief. Some may not see those subtle details, but pay attention to them. What do you want your objects to say?

For more tips on capturing and preserving your family history, including the use of photography, order my book 21st Century Family Historian

06 April 2015

What makes a good source... beginner version

Previously, I discussed my desire to challenge the way we invite folks to "Look for Cousins." My consultant mantra is "Prove It." There is one word of caution when challenging budding family historians to attach sources to their trees.

What makes a good source?

Much is written about what is a good source and what isn't. The short version is: a good source is an original document, recorded as close to the time of an event and reported by the individuals who know the details of said event first hand.

Marriage Record of Charles Pusecker to Elizabeth  Huffman
"Ohio, County Marriages, 1789-1974" database Family Search, (accessed: 12 December 2011),
Entry for Charles Pusecoier, 30 September 1879; Citing 285148;145

The actual marriage record that lists the names of the bride and groom, the date they were married and as much of the location as possible is a good source. It is still a good source even if the informant was the minister who married them and is providing the information to the county recording office within a year of the event. The minister was there and often kept a record of who they married and when. That record may not have survived, and sometimes they'll report some discrepancies to the recording office. Regardless, this record is more valuable than an index to a marriage record or a recording of a marriage in a family history book by someone 30 years after an event which was a 3rd cousin three times removed.

Thomas Tillinghart Mulford Family Tree created by Penny Geiszler while looking at Harriet Mulford Long's bible.
Harriet and Penny are no longer living, and the bible's whereabouts are unknown.

Aunt Ruth's drawn family tree would be a bad record for any family besides herself and her children. There is value in her knowledge as a starting point for research; however, often the tree is wrong as Aunt Ruth misremembers information. Sometimes, these trees are the only source of children who died in infancy or at birth. They have value but do not regularly stand alone.

Draft registration for George Joseph Geiszler, World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918, Registration
Location: Franklin County, Ohio; Roll: 1832029; Draft Board: 3.

 Many online trees have the census, marriage, birth, and death records from states, provinces, and counties. Attach these to your tree, along with other sources (obits, military records, gravestone resources, naturalization, city directories, and more). Be careful of altering your tree information (marriage date, birth place, etc.) until you have viewed the actual document.

Family Search Extracted Record Index
A sample of an extraction record, meaning the information was obtained from an original record.

There are many indexes on FamilySearch that are from extraction projects or temple work submission files. These sources aren't the original records created by the person who had first-hand knowledge of the event and sometimes is inaccurate. Many of the extracted records are as accurate an original, but you can never be sure. In the above case, I would need to look at the German Church Book that is available as a Microfilm through the Family History Center.

1924 University of Iowa Diploma for Robert Zumstein
Great Grandpa Zumstein's diploma from the State University of Iowa in 1924

Finally, be sure to share your sources from your record collection. If you have a family history book that a relative created, but is not available online, create a citation in your online tree or genealogy software for that source. If you have marriage announcements, baby books, diplomas, or other documents in your family record collection, craft a source for that item and attach it to your family member's profile.

The point is to look for sources and prove why you believe the relationships and vital information on a family tree are accurate. As much as possible, look for a variety of sources for an individual rather than just another person's undocumented family tree. However, in some cases, one source might be the only recording of a person who is often overlooked.

This overview of sources was meant to serve as an introduction to sources. If you want more depth, look at the FamilySearch Wiki article entitled Genealogy Proof Standard

03 April 2015

Narrative Project: Writing a Marriage Story

The response to my post, Writing a Simple Birth Story was wonderful. I hope you were successful as you wrote your first story about an ancestor who is not here to tell their story. Let's continue the process of expanding stories from a chart to a paragraph with simplicity. This time we'll focus on the marriage event of Lura Maud Smith to Harry Howard Long.

Lura Maud Smith
Lura's profile from my RootsMagic Database

Step One: Make A Simple Sentence

Remember last time where we took the facts we knew from a chart and crafted a simple sentence. All sentences should have a subject and a verb, begin with a capital letter and end with a punctuation mark. I keep stressing these rules with my home schooled children repeatedly; however  when you don't know where to start, it's best to start with the basics.

RootsMagic Edit Person View
RootsMagic Edit Person View for Lura Smith

If you happen to have a genealogy program like RootsMagic, then you have access to a simple sentence generator. (Actually, I don't know what RootsMagic calls this feature). Let's take a closer look at the sentence RootsMagic crafted for me.

Roots Magic Sentence Generator
RootsMagic Event Sentence Generator

Again, the first step is to craft a simple sentence but it doesn't matter whether you or a software program does the work.

Step Two: Expand the Story With Their Age and Number of Marriage

Now that we have a starting point, let's methodically add to the sentence until it becomes as much of a story as we can produce. The next step would be to include the ages of Lura and Harry into this sentence. If this was a second or subsequent marriage for these individuals, I could include that information as well. Harry and Lura had no prior marriage when they wed, so I'll let that bit of information off.
At the age of 23, Lura Maude Smith married Harry Howard Long, who was also 23, on 19 July 1907 in Columbus, Franklin, Ohio.
One other tip. It's likely that I have mentioned Lura more than once in her overall narrative story. I only need to include her full name once, unless she regularly used all names. This is likely the first time Harry has been introduced in Lura's narrative, so I do need to use his full name at this time. So, I'm actually going to reduce Lura's name in this paragraph and for the remainder of this tutorial.

At the age of 23, Lura married Harry Howard Long, who was also 23, on 19 July 1907 in Columbus, Franklin, Ohio.

This sentence will flow better in the overall story. What other information can I add to this story?

Step Three: Expand the Story With Other Facts From Marriage Record

Chances are, you have a marriage record similar to the one below. There are other pieces of information you can find that will help you expand this marriage story. 

Harry Long and Lura Smith Marriage record
"Ohio, County Marriages, 1789-2013," index and images, FamilySearch ( accessed 27 March 2015), Henry Howard Long and Lena Maude Smith, 19 Jun 1907; citing Franklin, Ohio, United States, reference v 42 p 472 cn 16672; county courthouses, Ohio; FHL microfilm 285,163.
This record blesses me with a tremendous amount of information that a 'basic' group sheet leaves off. First, notice that neither spouse is from Franklin County, Ohio originally? Harry is from New Haven, Ohio and Lura is from Michigan. Lura's birth would have been established earlier, but I can include Harry's birth information now. Harry is a bookkeeper and the son of W L Long and Young. From other sources, I know that Harry was a stenographer prior to his marriage and a bookkeeper from this point forward. I could note that change of career in the story. Additionally, I know that W L stands for William Lester and groom's mother's name is Sarah Angeline (or Angie) Young. Finally, I can see the name of the religious leader who performed the marriage, Pastor Everett L Rexford. I may do more research about Pastor Everett in the future, but for now, it looks like he was associated with the Universalist Church. I do not know what that means, which again means more research. 

In examining Lura's presented facts, I confirm the parental information from her birth story. I know she's now residing in Columbus, Ohio, but she does not have an occupation, despite being 23 years-old. 

Whew! The details I can now add are many. 

On 19 June 1907,  Lura married  Harry Howard Long, son of William Lester Long and Sarah Angeline Young, in Columbus, Franklin County, Ohio. Though they were both 23, neither was originally from this area but had recently become residents of Columbus. As stated before, Lura was born in Michigan but moved to Columbus soon after. Harry was originally from New Haven, Huron County, Ohio. Prior to their marriage, Harry had been working as a Stenographer and then Bookkeeper. He would continue in that profession throughout their life. Lura did not claim an occupation at this time.  
The young couple was married by Pastor Everett L Rexford who was affiliated with the Universalist Church in Columbus. 
Notice how nearly the entire section is bold-faced indicating the new material added the paragraph? If you have a  marriage record with this much detail, it is a gold mine!

Step Four: Expand the Story With Physical Descriptions (if possible)

For many, the previous step will suffice; however, I yearn for more. Thankfully, I have a photograph of my great grandparents to help me add a little more flavor to my story. I also have a collection of stories written by Harry's sister describing the appearance of both individuals.

Lura Smith and Harry Long c. 1907
Lura Smith and Harry Long about the time of their marriage

From this photo, I can tell that both work glasses, were slender, and had dark hair. Harry's sister Elizabeth, he was considered a slender well-dressed man with gray eyes and brown hair. She further states that Harry and Lura truly loved each other. Let's add these insights to our story. 

On 19 June 1907,  Lura married Harry Howard Long, son of William Lester Long and Sarah Angeline Young, in Columbus, Franklin County, Ohio. The fine looking couple complimented each other with their slender builds and both sporting glasses. Harry's sister said that Harry was a well-dressed man with gray eyes and brown hair.  
Though they were both 23, neither was originally from this area but had recently become residents of Columbus. As stated before, Lura was born in Michigan but moved to Columbus soon after. Harry was originally from New Haven, Huron County, Ohio. Prior to their marriage, Harry had been working as a Stenographer and then a Bookkeeper. He would continue in that profession throughout their life. He would continue in that profession throughout their life. Lura did not claim an occupation at this time.
The young couple was married by Pastor Everett L Rexford who was affiliated with the Universalist Church in Columbus. The marriage he solemnized that June was the official declaration of the love these two would be known for throughout their lives. 

Okay, okay... I spiced up some of the wording. The last line of the third paragraph could be a bit much. However, it's my narrative and it's not entirely inaccurate. Also, the statement 'the fine looking couple...' is my opinion. I believe them to be a fine looking couple. I believe they compliment each other with their looks. Should I remove this statement because it's not objective? Nope. This is a statement from their great-granddaughter, supported by their daughter and Harry's sister's opinion.

Step Five: Expand the Story With Parent Comparisons

Again, you might look at the three paragraphs above and stop. I wanted to add one final detail to the story. When did Lura's parents marry? Did she follow a relationship pattern of her fore-bearers? I could also include the same information for Harry, but I've elected to forego that information at this time. The story is focusing on Lura and the man she married. 

From the Lura's birth story, you may recall that her mother Emma was 16 when she married the 27 year-old Andrew Smith. Lura was 7 years older than Emma was at the time of marriage. Lura also married someone her same age, while her mother married someone 11 years her senior.  Let's finish off this exercise by including this final piece of information. 

On 19 June 1907,  Lura married Harry Howard Long, son of William Lester Long and Sarah Angeline Young, in Columbus, Franklin County, Ohio. The fine looking couple complimented each other with their slender builds and both sporting glasses. Harry's sister said that Harry was a well-dressed man with gray eyes and brown hair.  
Though they were both 23, neither was originally from this area but had recently become residents of Columbus. As stated before, Lura was born in Michigan but moved to Columbus soon after. Harry was originally from New Haven, Huron County, Ohio. Prior to their marriage, Harry had been working as a Stenographer and then a Bookkeeper. He would continue in that profession throughout their life. He would continue in that profession throughout their life. Lura did not claim an occupation at this time.
At 23, Lura was seven years older at the time of her marriage than her mother Emma, who was 16. Unlike her parents who had an 11 year age gap, Lura married Harry who was barely two months her senior.
The young couple was married by Pastor Everett L Rexford who was affiliated with the Universalist Church in Columbus.  The marriage he solemnized that June was the official declaration of the love these two would be known for throughout their lives. 

There you have it! From one fact on a chart to a four paragraph story about the time when Harry married Lura. You will be surprised what stories you can tell about your ancestors simply from the sources that are left behind. Have fun crafting your own stories and leave a link to your work in the comments section below. 

Are you using all the resources available for a 21st Century Family Historian? If not, you need to order by book at today. 

01 April 2015

Heritage Scrapbooking: Multiple Kits and Online Research

People seem to take lots of photos at birthday parties. My mother was no different. I am blessed to have photos from my childhood when my mom photographed me, the cakes, the presents, and the people at the gatherings.

1970s Two-Page Birthday Layout idea
Two: Left Side of Two-Page Birthday Layout

For this layout, I couldn't find one kit that had all the pieces I wanted to craft this page. I decided to follow another piece of advice from talented scrapbookers... use pieces from different kits. Here are the items I used and the kits they are from. Some of these kits have been in my digi files for years. I love using and re-using my tried and true favorites.
  1. Black flower - Bits O'Scrap's Thankful
  2. Yellow flower -  Just Saskia Scraps's The Birds & The Bees 
  3. Black title tag - No Reimer Reason's Remember the Magic
  4. Black and white bow - Word Art World's Haunting 
  5. Gold button - Just For Fun by Amy J's An Old Fashioned Christmas
  6. Black and gold ribbon - Kimberly Lund's What Will You Celebrate
  7. Gold stitching - Kimberly Lund's - Wonder Boy
  8. Black glitter swirl - Amber Shaw's Change is Good
Sadly, I can't identify the paper because the designer called their paper "Paper 4" and I do not file my scrapbook supplies by kit or designer. If a designer doesn't name their file something like klund_wonderboy_stitching, then I'm not going to be able to find the preview file for the kit and then know the name of the designer. Hopefully, future designers (or budding designers) will keep this in mind.

I had to reduce the intensity of some of the original pieces, but for the most part, they all worked together. The arrangement of the photos and the embellishments was another free-form layout. I generally scrapbook with templates, but with this many pictures, I loaded them onto the Photoshop Elements workspace and moved them around until they looked lovely. I would add embellishments to fill voids in the layout and tie things together. I had fun adding more decorations than I typically use.

1970s Two-Page Birthday Layout
Two: Right Page of Vintage Birthday Layout

The other thing I wanted to point out is how I used an online search to figure out what the name of one of my gifts was. Don't for a minute think that I remember the name of the green turtle kitchen all these years later. Instead, I did a Google search for 1970s Turtle Kitchen playset. After a few minutes of research, I had the name of the kitchen. I added that to my journaling which reads:
"My second birthday was a small affair with my brother, parents, and the Browns. I had a store bought cake with a number two candle to blow out. I wore a jumper dress that was typical of 1970s attire. Shelley played with me a lot and David tried out my presents. For presents, I receive a Zoodleland Kitchen Oven that was shaped like a happy green turtle. I received a yellow shopping basket and more dolls. I was a strong walker and enjoyed playing with my toys as Papa and Grannie looked on."
If you can't find one kit that satisfies your layout needs, use items from multiple kits. If you can't remember the name of something in your photographs, use a search engine. I don't you're the first one who wondered the same thing. Happy Scrapbooking.

This project is part Power Scrapbooking and part heritage scrapbooking. I have two books that may help you get started capturing and preserving your personal history. Check them out at my author's page