Heritage Scrapbooking: Play Up The Place

For many weeks, I have shared pages from my early childhood scrapbook. My personal heritage album contains many 1970 era photos. In discussing what 'heritage' means, I keep thinking it would mean albums with photos from the 1800s and early 1900s. Then I realized, some younger scrapbook creators would include their parents who would have photos from the 1960s and 1970s. Indeed, scrapbooking a child of the 70s is now heritage. Now don't you feel old?


Howdy From Texas: navy background - from Enjoy the Ride by Sexy and Hot Mama Scrapper, 
red star burst - Wonderboy by K. Lund; red string flower - Happy Go Lucky by Shabby Princess;
Star Scatter, red string bow, blue frame, and jewel stars - Pride of Country
by Relocated Dixie Girl  (who sadly is no longer online. What a shame!)


Now that I have aged you more than you wish, I want to share how one page in my scrapbook deviated a little bit from the overall color scheme I had chosen. The reason is I really wanted this layout to jump out. My family left the midwest in the late 70s and moved to The Lone Star state, my beloved Texas. As such, I wanted a page that didn't necessarily compliment the schematics of my photos, but the fact I'm now in my new home state.

Thankfully the van that moved my family of five (mom, dad, brother, self, and dog) over 1,100 miles during the summer was white! This reduced the possibility of any color clashes with the Red, White, and Blue color scheme that is representative of this southern state. I arranged the photos with the story first and then the photos across the bottom. They start as we drove out of the driveway in Ohio and the feature our new apartment in a Houston suburb. The large apartment photo has a caption from my first scrapbook attempt. I was unable to remove the glued on paper, so I let it be. Just another way of making previous mistakes work for me. (Never let the fear of making a mistake keep you from making a scrapbook. You can rework it later, if need be!)

I really love this simple layout that marks a major transition in my young life. Be sure to document the places where you lived. If the place you lived has a 'traditional' color scheme, play that up, even if it isn't exactly the same as your overall album. The variance in the color choices can emphasis your adventures.


Treasure Chest Thursday: Know Your Focus

Devon Noel Lee teaching at local family history conference
Devon Noel Lee teaching at local conference photo by Jamie Black Smith
Before I share this Treasure Chest Thursday Tip, I hope you'll enjoy a peek in the behind the scenes happenings of A Patient Genealogist.

My Digitizing Grandma's Stuff class was at hit at the recent family history conference. The reward was strongly felt for the efforts I've expended inspiring others to photograph their family treasures through my blog, personal conversations, and teaching.

There was a young girl in my class who went home to tell her grandmother about the conference. She had attended with her grandfather and they both left so excited to photograph their family treasures that they bought a nicer camera and are anxious to begin. I loved hearing how her great-grandmother then told the young lady and the grandfather the story of the 'unwanted' cuckoo clock in the living room. You see! when we start photographing family treasures, others will open up stories we never knew! I'm so happy for them and wish them all the best in their projects.

Hearing stories like these plaster a smile on my face bigger than Dallas! That's why I challenge you, my readers, to photograph your treasures. Use what I have learned and shared on this blog. You can do this!

We can not imagine the stories and memories will discover or remember once we begin.


Know Your Focus

I recently discovered with my entry level dSLR, that it's important to pay attention where your focusing points are placed on your object. With point and shoot or compact cameras, you don't have focusing dots inside the view finder or on the LCD. (If you do, that's news to me). dSLR cameras have these flashing dots inside the view finder. You can change how they work, but the major point of this post is to make sure you're placing your active focusing point on the part of your object you most want in focus.


Where You Focus the Camera Matters
Focus dots on the back of the band
f/7.1, exp 1/4 sec, ISO 100, exp bias +1.7, Pattern Metering

The above photo shows that I was focusing on the inscription inside the band. I have shared before that the inscriptions are important, however, I really wanted the front of the band in focus. I needed to make sure I placed the active focusing dot on the front of the band.


Where You Focus the Camera Matters
Focus dots on the back of the band 
f/7.1, exp 1/4 sec, ISO 100, exp bias +1.7, Pattern Metering

This photo is much better. Now, if I were a professional photography, the reflected image in the gold pattern in the ring would bug me. However, I'm a family historian who wants to capture memories before they are gone. Someday, I may redo the photograph, but probably not. What I will do is know my focus from this point forward.




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

One Name Place Study: Townsends in the Asylum

Townsend Study in Franklin County Ohio

The hunt for ancestors continues with the fourth and fifth of 15 heads of households named in the 1880 US Census with the last name Townsend in Franklin, County.

Today is a two-for-one post as the two men listed aren't actually heads of households. They are both inmates in the Columbus Hospital for the Insane. According to the Forgotten Ohio website, the massive building that would house a large number of patients was built between 1870-1877, prior to the 1880 US Census in which I find Wm and James Townsend.

"United States Census, 1880,"Wm Townsend, Columbus, Franklin, Ohio, United States; citing enumeration district 007, sheet 164D, NARA microfilm publication T9 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.), roll 1015; FHL microfilm 1255015.
"United States Census, 1880,"JamesTownsend, Columbus, Franklin, Ohio, United States; citing enumeration district 007, sheet 162C, NARA microfilm publication T9 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.), roll 1015; FHL microfilm 1255015.
I am unable to determine where James or Wm lived prior to the 1880 Census. Perhaps they were from other places in the state and they were sent to this facility after it opened.  Wm was born around 1820 in England. He's 60 when my great grandfather William James Townsend is 48. Given the fact that Wm is from England, and great grandfather says his parents are from Ohio, it's likely that Wm is not his relative. However, I can not confirm this completely as no further record establish Wm of England who lived in Ohio before or after the 1880 appearance.

James is 52, fourteen years older than great grandfather William. He was born in Ohio, as were his parents. James and William could be cousins. Unfortunately, nothing further can be established as I'm currently unable to determine any further records for James.

With the opening of the asylum a few short years before the 1880 Census and the 1890 Census being destroyed, researching these two men becomes extremely difficult. I will not rule out James completely, and Wm could still be a relative (as the reliability of the information could be suspect). However, if I could access the "Defective, Dependent, and Delinquent US Census schedule for 1880", it  lists individuals who were identified during the population census taking that were "Insane, Idiots,  Deaf-mutes, Blind, Homeless Children, Inhabitants in Prison, and Pauper and Indigent." James and William could be listed on this record.

Conclusion: James a possible relative. William likely not a relative. Research on the DDD Non-population schedule of 1880 is needed.


Heritage Scrapbooking: Including Life Events

For the past few months, I have shared photos from my personal history scrapbook with a variety of photos from the 1970s. The photos detail me as a baby, a toddler, and continuing to grow up. Then, you'll come across this page. It's about the death of my Papa. Why would anyone include such a page in a baby scrapbook?


Scrapbooking a funeral Scrapbooking a funeral
Papa Dies: Paper, flowers, ferns from Love at Home kit by Word Art World; ribbon
from Kristie kit from Shabby Princess


My Papa died shortly after we moved to Texas. He'll no longer appear in my scrapbook and I want to remember why.  I don't want to see photos of just Grannie and think Papa ran off or divorced her. He had died and now Grannie was a widow. It's important to include 'life events' in a personal scrapbook even if it happens to 'someone else'. Not everything in your life is about you. (I know, seems contradictory.) However, these extra details help put our stories into perspective and should be included.

Since this project is a childhood album, I didn't include my grandfather's gravestone, as I did in his heritage scrapbook. Instead, I include photos of my mother, her sisters, and extended family members after the funeral. Mom had traveled back home for this unexpected death, leaving Dad, my brother, and me in Texas. I included Papa's funeral program and a photo of near the time of his death.

I really love the clean, simple design of this layout. There is no need to be fussy. I also love the fact  the color Brown not only compliments the sober nature of a funeral, but was Lew's last name. I know few would notice that, but I could have chosen a soft green for the layout. Instead, I thought Brown was more fitting.

Have fun telling your story in a scrapbook and including the 'extra' details to enrich that tale.


Thank you to everyone who has purchased my scrapbooking how to books available at Amazon.com

Motivation Monday: Burnt Out or Dry Well

How can I fulfill my responsibility when I struggle with burnout?
How is it possible feel absolutely passionate genealogy and struggle with burnout? I have been asking myself this question since January. I think I'm stumbling upon the answer. I am asking the wrong question.

When I searched for help with genealogy burnout, I found reference articles that didn't articulate my problem. I'm not burnt out because I have been researching a brick wall and nothing seems to be working. The common 'set it aside' recommendation to overcome the issue won't work.

If I am not burnout what am I
What's your problem momma?
What is my problem? Spreading myself too thin and not feeling fulfilled in all aspects of family history.

Ha! No wonder you might say.

The problem is there is so much that I could be doing in family history, primarily because I am the only one working on my lines. I wrote a book about all the things someone COULD do to help with the family history efforts in their family. However, I can't do everything, nor should I.

 My passion to teach others is strong and I have hand many opportunities to help others get started or go in different directions. The opportunities have been very rewarding, despite any amount of time needed to prepare. However, I struggle motivating those who are not self-motivated. Furthermore, I don't like outside influences attempting to dictate my family history priorities. I don't mind a challenge to try something new or try something small. When a big task is pushed, I resist. All of these compeiting factors for my genealogy free time has me spread too thin. In short, I have lost the joy of the process.

Joy?

You might have thought I was going to say fun.

No! I know that genealogy is not always easy or fun. Well, okay, I do say that "If family history not fun, you're doing it wrong." But that definition of fun is synonymous with inspiring, captivating, or worthwhile. Not the definition associated with parties, balloons, or sky diving.

Joy is completely different. It is an inner peace that even when the process is challenging, it's enjoyable. Joy requires nurturing like a seedling requires care to become a tree. And a tree even needs care to stay healthy and fruitful.

Burnt Out or Dry Well
How do I refill a dry well?


On my porch I have this well. Soon many outside forces have taken the water out of the well and it has run dry. It still likes being a fountain and mechanically works. Without water in the well, it can not be a fountain. As I wrote this post, I thought perhaps the question should be, how do I refill my well when it's run dry?

The simple answer would be to refill with water. If this was an actual well, the answer would be to stop using the well until it could collect more water than is being used. But, I still need water. So I need to use a different well.

Let's clarify the application to genealogy. If one area of the family history work feels like a dry well, then stop using that well until it's replenished and use a different well. If searching for new records is not sparking enthusiasm, start writing stories. If the deceased ancestors are not inspiring at this time, work on recording the memories of the living.  Perhaps a little bit of genealogy service would be more fulfilling than working on your own projects. Does this make more sense. I can still be involved in the work I am passionate about (family history) but I can draw from the wells that are full while I wait for the other wells to replenish. For me, this is a bit different than walking away from genealogy entirely

What does that mean for A Patient Genealogist?

Well, it means that I scale back on my contribution to the FamliySearch indexing program. I challenge people to index A Batch A Week, when they say they don't have time to volunteer. Many folks have found a way to work in one batch in a regular interval. I need to follow his advice. I can not single-handedly index all the records available. I shouldn't try to do more than is fulfilling. A batch a week for me would give me the freedom to work on other family history projects. It's amazing how this challenging encourages more participation from those who are doing nothing but frees those who are contributing a lot to the pressure to keep up a difficult pace.

It also means to look at the big picture and to celebrate the successes. I flitter from one project to another (a personal memoir, photographing memorabilia, keeping the family journal, writing the ancestor's stories, researching more lines, etc) and feel discouraged because I'm not 'done'. Changing my perspective to a broader view lifts my spirits. All of my projects are worthwhile but not all will be fulfilling all the time. Some of the projects will become, in essence, like the dry well on my porch, while others will be operating perfectly releasing a calming sound as I sit outside. Instead of being upset that all are not running at peak performance, I'll enjoy the ones that are and slowly take the steps necessary to refill the ones that have run dry.

Overcoming genealogy burnout
Refilling the well


If you ever struggle with something similar to genealogy burnout, but the recommendations to recover aren't helping. Maybe you're asking the wrong question. Perhaps you also need to ask, how do I refill the dry well?


Power Scrapbooking: Narrow the Options

How many photos do you take for various events throughout the year? Sometimes I take a few photos (20 or less) while other times I can take 1,000 photos (or more). It's easy to feel extremely overwhelmed with the idea of scrapbooking this many photos. Never fear! I will show you the next steps in being a power scrapbooker.

The first steps, as discussed in my book  Power Scrapbooking: Get Caught Up No Matter Your Scrapbook Style are applicable to all methods of memory keeping. The steps of labeling photos, organization, and digitizing photos, documents, and memorabilia have been discussed on this blog as well.


Power Scrapbooking Using Photo Shop Elements
Folder with photos from our beach trip

My preferred method of scrapbooking is digital and my favorite tool is Photo Shop Elements. For the next power scrapbooking steps you'll see how I apply efficiency principles using this program. However, you can review these tips and apply them to any other software or paper scrapbooking system. (Note: This blog is a continuation of the post Organizing Photos in Photoshop Elements. Be sure to read that post to know how I arrived at this step). 

Prior to this stage, I have created potential scrapbook page topics and created folders (called Albums) using Photo Shop Elements. Once I have sorted through all the photos for a potential project (such as Cinco 2012) have been sorted into categories, I can fine tune that sorting.

Limit the Photos: 

My goal is to have between 7 and 16 photos for a two-page layout. The 'photos' could include documents, art work, memorabilia photos, and other 'non-photo' images. Sometimes I have 25 photos for an event with a lot of great details to capture. But I strive to have this situation occur less often.

The more images to include on one layout, the more time consuming and difficult it is to scrapbook the event or topic. Topics with less than 7 images are better served in a one page layout (or not at all).

In order to narrow my options to 7-16 photos, I recommend these principles:

Break Up Large Topics
Sometimes I can not limit myself to less than 20 images for a topic. Christmas is the 'event' that happens every year resulting in at least 50 photos that I really want to preserve in a scrapbook. 
Instead of agonizing over how to reduce 50 photos to the 15 best, I split up the Christmas category further. Notice how the screen shot from Photo Shop Elements Organizer has the Album Category Cinco?  Beneath that category, there are the Albums 12 Christ Present, 12 Christmas, and 12 Gingerbread. Once the photos are sorted into sub-categories, determine if the 20, 20, and 10 photos are need further paring.
- In case your wondering on the folder naming system, the digits before the Album name are the months of the year the event occur in. I'm a chronological scrapbooker and this helps keeps the categories logically arranged. 
-  Next, the "C" after the file name is a 'hack' for PhotoShop Elements. I will have three folders called 12 Christmas, one for each family member's album (Cinco, Quatro, and Family). PhotoShop does not like if you name two Albums the same thing, even if they are in different Album Categories. So, I add a C for Cinco's album, and a Q for Quatro's album to trick the program into doing what I want.  

Narrow the Series: 
I often take a number of photos to 'get the best one.' When I scrapbook, I pick the best one from these series. Occasionally a series of photos shows actions and makes for an exciting page. However, you don't need 30 photos of a series to show movement. Sometimes, all you need is 3 - 5 photos. 
I love rearranging my photos in PhotoShop elements albums to see the sub-cateogires within a topic. For instance, birthday parties often have subcategories: blowing out the candles, opening presents, and playing with guests. I will group the possible photos into these sub-categories and select the photos that really convey the right message or mood. There will be additional photos from a birthday party that are a category unto themselves. Once I have narrowed down the subcategories, I can usually fall within the 7-16 range for the overall topic.

Select the Best
In most cases, a mediocre photos is not worth scrapbooking. Sometimes, it is the only photo of that particular scene but a strong story is told on my scrapbook pages even without that image. Including it would be a distraction to the overall page.  
Strive to only scrapbook the best photos that you have rather than a lot of mediocre images. You and your scrapbook reader will thank you when it's all said and done. On occasion, you need to include a sub-par image, but treat this as an exception rather than the rule.
With these three guiding principles, I was able to narrow the beach category to these. These are the photos that I feel are the best of my little man exploring the beach, along with one photo of him with his siblings. One medicore image was included to show perspective. His older siblings went out into the ocean but he loved playing on the beach and throwing the wet sand.

Power Scrapbooking with Photo Shop Elements
Narrowed the best photos from the beach
Before I move on to journaling or picking out decorative beach elements for this topic, I sort all of the photos in each layout folder. If I switched from narrowing down the options to creating a page, my speed would be thrown off. My memories keeping is more about recording stories than being an artist. Speed is essential to me to reduce the guilt and stress of memories piling up and not 'doing anything' with them.

Fair warning, somethings this step becomes tedious, frustrating, and perhaps boring. If it does, stop and come back later. The great thing about this step is that it can be done fairly easy while you're at swim practice or waiting outside dance class for your kiddos. You can still visit with your friends and accomplish this task. Or, you can take this task with you to a scrap crop or other crafty social hour. You can visit while sorting through photos!

Take time to narrow down your options, focusing on only scrapping the photos and memorabilia that matters most. You'll thank yourself later.

For more Power Scrapbooking tips, purchase Power Scrapbooking: Get Caught Up No Matter Your Scrapbook Style at Amazon for Kindle today.

One Name Place Study: NS Townsend of Columbus, Ohio

Townsend Study in Franklin County Ohio

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

Norton Strange Townsend 1880 US Census
"United States Census, 1880,"NS Townsend, Columbus, Franklin, Ohio, United States; citing enumeration district 042, sheet 25A, NARA microfilm publication T9 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.), roll 1015; FHL microfilm 1255015.

In 1880, N.S. Townsend (FS 29S3-R8W) and his wife Margaret are living in Columbus, Franklin, Ohio. As a side note, Columbus is more urban than Truro and Hamilton have been. On Ancestry.com, a user edited the N S to stand for Norton Strange Townsend. Norton was born about 1816 in England. His wife Margaret as born around 1824 in West Virginia. 

Norton was a professor at the State University. His neighbor Edward Orton was President of the university. Norton had two children also attending the university, one being a daughter. Two other members of his household were attending the university but don't appear to be relatives. 

Descendants of Norton have done a great job of researching this line. My great grandfather William James Townsend does not appear to belong to this family, William never mentions parents born in England or West Virginia. Given that Norton is old enough to be William's father and living in the same county, my conclusion is that they are not father and son. It's also likely that they are not extended family.




Dancing With the Ancestors

"I've Your Happy and You Know It Clap Your Hands!"

"Shake, Shake, Shake! Shake, Shake, Shake.. Shake your booty..."

"Ce-le-bration Time! Come On!"

"Dance to the Music"

Okay... I can go on and on with the dance lyrics. In fact, I discovered a list of songs specifically about dancing!

Now why am I dancing? Did I break down a brick wall? Did I solve a long term mystery? Did I receive something I have been longing for in the mail? Nope to all of the above. I danced because I helped someone.

I had the fun opportunity to help a young man to piece together his family tree despite the fact that he knew very little about his family to start with. In fact, he was the only entry on his family tree to start with. We won't go into much detail about why that is, because frankly I didn't ask or care. I knew we were starting with essentially nothing but we might be able to find something.

While working with him, the conversation went like this:
"Do you know you're mother's birth date?"  (Me)
No?
"Well about how old is she?"
Maybe 40 something?


I kept picking his brain for any clues that I could use to help him search FamilySearch.org. It was initially discouraging but I knew if we kept at it, something would be remembered and we could get some where. As he remembered even a sliver of information, I put it into a family tree, more like family sapling.

At one point, he became justifably discouraged and went to make a phone call. It fell like he was using the "Phone a Friend" option available to contestants on Who Wants to Be A Millionaire? In the meantime, I cast the dice with my paltry information to see what I could find.

There is a spirit at work when these situations arise and it looked kindly on me and this young man. I struck gold and found the index to what I thought was his mother's birth record while actually for his grandmother's unique name. There aren't a lot of records available for living folks on FamilySearch.org for privacy reasons, but we had enough to give us a foundation to start from. I was fairly certain I had made a discovery so I asked him to hold the phone and come and see.

A simple question of, "Is your Grandmother's middle name Francine?" opened the eyes of this young man wide. He said "Yes! How did you know that?" Truthfully, I didn't know for sure. I needed confirmation of some sort. His memory was triggered and he was able to provide the reassurance that I needed. That one record opened up more records and we slowly added information to his spring of a tree.

Yipee!! Time to do a genealogy happy dance. From there, we were able to find more clues to push his line back into his deceased ancestors that he didn't know anything about, but he's about to find out. Meanwhile, the relative on the phone was also flooding him with names. I kept plugging in a few of their suggestions and found other supporting records. He will have to add this stuff to this family tree, because we ran out of time to piece all of it together online.

The whole experience was exciting. There were other folks working on family history but I think I was the only one dancing when we found a new discovery.  I'm not a genealogy wizard but I do LOVE helping people getting started with family history.

Family history can be fun and you too can do genealogy happy dances, no matter what song you 'hear' as you do your suave movements.  You may never appear on Dancing With the Stars but you'll feel like you're on Dancing With the Ancestors and that's a great play to bust a move.

Narrative Project: Writing A Simple Death Story

When adding names to a family tree, there are three or four facts that specifically identify an ancestor: their name, birth, marriage (if applicable) and death. Each of these facts are a great starting point for a narrative about your ancestor as usually you have records that support each of these events.

Lura Smith Long's Grave Marker
Lura Smith Long's Grave Marker
Photographed by Devon Lee in the Green Lawn Cemetery
Previoulsy, I walked you through the process of writing a simple birth story and marriage story for my Great-Grandmother Lura Smith Long. This post applies the same process to writing a simple death story.


Step One: Make a Simple Sentence


The process is so easy, we'll start by making a simple sentence then expand the story using additional details from supporting records.  Once again we'll look at the profile for Lura on Ancestry.com. The snapshot highlights those all important vital facts and will help craft the first simple sentence for Lura's death story.

Profile of Lura Smith from Ancestry
Profile of Lura Maud Smith from Ancestry.com

Lura (Smith) Long died on 7 May 1934 in Columbus, Franklin County, Ohio. 

That wasn't so hard, and it's not meant to be. The first step is the hardest to gear up for when beginning a writing project. If it's so painless a 12 year-old can do it, then the 'it's too hard' excuse quickly vanishes. The "Maybe Someday" excuse, for not writing a narrative, can also transform into "Maybe Today."

Look how easy it was to write the first sentence. 11 words are a good start.

Step Two: Expand the Story to Include Facts From Death Records


What information do I have that supports the fact on Lura's profile?

If you guessed her death certificate, you would be right! Good job.

Lura's death certificate can quickly and easily expand that first sentence if you know what information is most useful for detailing this event.

Lura Smith's Death Record, scan of original in Devon Lee's possession

If I had not previously written a story about Lura being born, then I would include information about her parents at this time. If I had not previous written about her marriage to Harry Long, I would include his name as well. Since I have written those two stories, I do not need to include those details in this story. So what else can I use for the story?

Some facts look useful right away. Where she lived and how old was she when she died are great facts to add. When and where she was buried could eventually become a separate paragraph if I have enough information. For now, this tidbit will be part of the next draft of the story. How about the cause of death and how long she suffered from this problem? All of these facts are new to her overall story and appear on this one document. I will reorganize the original sentence for better readability.

On 4 May 1934, Lura was admitted to Mt. Caramel Hospital, just two months after her 50th birthday. Apparently, she had trouble with a uterus fibroid and a hysterectomy was performed on May 5th. During the recovery process, she had a cerebral embolism and died from it on May 7th. Her physician was Joseph M Dunn, M.D. Lura had been a housewife living at 295 Stewart Avenue. Lura was buried in Green Lawn Cemetery on 9 May 1934.


Wowzers! Did I miss anything?

Yes. I did drop the place of death. From the time Lura married until the end her life, she lived in Columbus, Ohio. As such, I have left the place of death out of this particular story. Had her place of death differed from her place of residence, then I would have included the full death location. Perhaps when I finish the whole narrative I might insert the city information once again to assist my reader in knowing where Mt. Caramel Hospital is located. For now, I left it off.

Also, I do not know how much involvement Dr. Dunn had in Lura's case other than signing off on her death record. I do not want to presume he did the surgery or that he was there the moment she died. The sentence is unimpressive stylistically, yet I would rather be accurate than misleading.

Regardless of what I intentionally left out or cannot determine, my simple story expanded from one sentence to five and from 11 words to 78 using one record.


Step Three: Expand the Story to Discuss Survivors


Obituaries are the next source of information pertaining to the death of an ancestor. Many wonderful tidbits can be found such as, participation in churches and community organizations, and occupations to name a few. The best part of a well crafted obituary is the list of relatives preceding and surviving the ancestor. If you are fortunate enough to have a relative who had an obituary published, and you have a copy, use it now to expand the story. If you haven't discovered an obituary or one was never published (i.e. my family did not publish an obituary for my mother), then you can create many of the relationship facts yourself. 

Using family group sheets, I determined that Lura would have been living with her husband Harry and her two daughters at the time of her death. Marguerite would have been 18 at this time and may have been finishing high school or working. I can not determine this information. Louise would have been 13 and attending school. Lura had no other children and the girls were unmarried, so the list of immediate survivors ends here, as her parents and brother preceded her in death. Later, I will add the deaths of her brother and parents into her overall narrative, so I will not add those names at this time. 
On 4 May 1934, Lura was admitted to Mt. Caramel Hospital, just two months after her 50th birthday. Apparently, she had trouble with a uterus fibroid and a hysterectomy was performed on May 5th. During the recovery process, she had a cerebral embolism and died from it on May 7th. Her physician was Joseph M Dunn, M.D. Lura had been a housewife living at 295 Stewart Avenue with 50 year-old Harry, 18 year-old Marguerite, and 13 year-old Louise. 
Lura was buried in Green Lawn Cemetery on 9 May 1934.

If your relative had surviving parents, siblings, and grandchildren, your list would be longer than mine. If they had less survivors, your list could be shorter. Feel free to also mention step-children and grandchildren as well. Not every family has the 'perfect' chart structure. I can not often determine strength of relationship when remarriages take place, so unless I know a child lived with a particular 'step-mother' or 'step-father' for a period of time, then I don't include it. However, it's your narrative and your relative, you get to decide.

Before I wrote this bit, I mentioned that I wouldn't include the death of her parents and brother that preceded Lura's. However, while craft this paragraph, I noticed that Lura's death occurred 11 months after her father's. Her father had been living in her home for a number of years and Lura's daughters had many memories of him. In order to better understand the loss Harry and the daughters experienced, I need to include Grandpa Smith's death as well.
On 4 May 1934, Lura was admitted to Mt. Caramel Hospital, just two months after her 50th birthday. Apparently, she had trouble with a uterus fibroid and a hysterectomy was performed on May 5th. During the recovery process, she had a cerebral embolism and died from it on May 7th. Her physician was Joseph M Dunn, M.D. 
The death of the beloved Lura took place 11 months after the passing of her father Andrew Smith who had lived in her home at 295 Stewart Avenue for a number of years. Lura would leave behind 50 year-old Harry, 18 year-old Marguerite, and 13 year-old Louise to grieve her loss, along with Grandpa Smith's
Lura was buried in Green Lawn Cemetery on 9 May 1934.

Step Four: Expand the Story With Information about Cause of Death


How often have you wondered exactly what the cause of death terminology means? Probably more often than you care to admit if you're not well versed in medical terminology. Do a Google search or ask a knowledgeable medical friend, to help you understand what disease or ailment afflicted your ancestor.
On 4 May 1934, Lura was admitted to Mt. Caramel Hospital, just two months after her 50th birthday. Apparently, she had trouble with a uterus fibroid and a hysterectomy was performed on May 5th. During the recovery process, she had a cerebral embolism and died from it on May 7th. Cerebral embolism happens when a clot is carried by the bloodstream until it lodges in an artery leading to or in the brain, blocking the flow of blood. In layman's terms, she suffered a stroke during the recovery from surgery and died from it. Her physician was Joseph M Dunn, M.D. 
The death of the beloved Lura took place 11 months after the passing of her father Andrew Smith who had lived in her home at 295 Stewart Avenue for a number of years. Lura would leave behind 50 year-old Harry, 18 year-old Marguerite, and 13 year-old Louise to grieve her loss, along with Grandpa Smith. 
Lura was buried in Green Lawn Cemetery on 9 May 1934.

One medical term didn't make sense to me (cerebral embolism) and I was afraid it would not make sense to others. By doing a Google search, I discovered a basic definition and then a 'layman's translation'. Now, we can picture more clearly what caused the death of this rather young woman. Perhaps I should also detail what a uterus fibroid. 


Step Five: Expand the Story With Comparison to Parental Death Ages


Many people, your eventual readers, are interested in the longevity of their ancestors. Take a moment to record how long your ancestor's parents lived and compare that with your ancestor. Did they live longer, shorter, or about the same? You might discover a pattern or other interesting story by doing this step.
On 4 May 1934, Lura was admitted to Mt. Caramel Hospital, just two months after her 50th birthday. Apparently, she had trouble with a uterus fibroid and a hysterectomy was performed on May 5th.  During the recovery process, she had a cerebral embolism and died from it on May 7th. Cerebral embolism happens when a clot is carried by the bloodstream until it lodges in an artery leading to or in the brain, blocking the flow of blood. In layman's terms, she suffered a stroke during the recovery from surgery and died from it. Her physician was Joseph M Dunn, M.D. 
The death of the beloved Lura took place 11 months after the passing of her father Andrew Smith who had lived in her home at 295 Stewart Avenue for a number of years. Lura would leave behind 50 year-old Harry, 18 year-old Marguerite, and 13 year-old Louise to grieve her loss, along with Grandpa Smith. Interestingly, Lura's mother died at the age of 26 and her father at the age of 77. At the age of 50, Lura's lived longer that her mother but not nearly as long as her father.

Lura was buried in Green Lawn Cemetery on 9 May 1934
You could go a step further and include the cause of death for an ancestor's parents and see if a medical condition is hereditary. I can not read Andrew's or Emma's cause of death, so I excluded that information at this time.

Step Six: Expand the Story With Burial Information


This step may or may not be important to you, but sometimes where a person is buried has an interesting story. I have one set of Grandparents who were not buried in the same cemetery. The wife does not have a stone (or it was damaged and removed) and the husband's stone is one of two with no inscription. Lura was buried on the Smith family plot in Green Lawn Cemetery. I can make mention of the others buried in the same location. 
On 4 May 1934, Lura was admitted to Mt. Caramel Hospital, just two months after her 50th birthday. Apparently, she had trouble with a uterus fibroid and a hysterectomy was performed on May 5th.  During the recovery process, she had a cerebral embolism and died from it on May 7th. Cerebral embolism happens when a clot is carried by the bloodstream until it lodges in an artery leading to or in the brain, blocking the flow of blood. In layman's terms, she suffered a stroke during the recovery from surgery and died from it. Her physician was Joseph M Dunn, M.D. 
The death of the beloved Lura took place 11 months after the passing of her father Andrew Smith who had lived in her home at 295 Stewart Avenue for a number of years. Lura would leave behind 50 year-old Harry, 18 year-old Marguerite, and 13 year-old Louise to grieve her loss, along with Grandpa Smith.  Interestingly, Lura's mother died at the age of 26 and her father at the age of 77. At the age of 50, Lura's lived longer that her mother but not nearly as long as her father.
Lura was buried in Green Lawn Cemetery on 9 May 1934 on the Smith Family Plot (Lot 43, Section 35) that is near the road with two steps leading into the section. One the face of one step is the Smith family name. Beside those steps in a white stone for Lura's little brother earl. A large monument bears the name of Mary E Smith, Lura's step-grandmother. There is no stone for her grandfather Philip who purchased the original plot. Also buried on the site is Lura's father Andrew and mother Emma Ward. (Her step-mother would die after Lura but she was apparently in an asylum at the time of Lura's death). Her step-aunt Louella (Smith) Tooill's unnamed infant son was also buried on this plot. Finally, her uncle Orlando Smith and his wife Clara were buried on the plot as well.

Perhaps this story seems too lengthy and you wouldn't want to add all the 'who's buried there' information in your ancestor's narrative. My family members keep asking, "Who does the little white stone belong to?" "Who is Mary E Smith?" and "Who are Orlando and Clara?" after visiting the Smith grave site. The infant Tooill infant didn't have a stone but family members have wondered about his listing on the plot information. I included the information so that those most familiar with Lura and her daughters will know how she relates to the others on that cemetery section.


Final Tally: 3 Paragraphs and 335 words provide the information about when Lura Long died and where she was buried.

Finding a group sheet, death record, plot information, and information on Google, enabled me to write one more section for my ancestor's Narrative.

If you have written your simple birthmarriage, and death story for an ancestor, your "Maybe Someday" has now become "Done Day" or "In Progress Day." You can write your family's history with what you already have, and you should. If you don't, you're research is more likely to be tossed out with the trash than if you had taken time to follow these simple steps.





For more tips and suggests on recording and sharing your family stories, order my book 21st Century Family Historian


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