Creative Way to Encourage Family History in a Ward


Need a creative way to encourage LDS ward and branch members to participate in family history? Create a visual family tree on  bulletin and watch it grow!

Read my guest post at Family Locket for more details.

Where Would My Time Machine Take Me?

Where Would My Time Machine Take Me?


Whenever anyone asks the questions, "If you could go back in time and..." my audio memory starts playing the chorus to Cher's song "If I Could Turn Back Time." The song doesn't refer to the kinds of time traveler questions but the song just won't leave my mind.

Time Traveling is the theme of many books and movies. Dr. Who, Hermonie Granger in the Harry Potter and the Prisoner of AZKABAN,  Rush Revere and the Brave Pilgrims by Rush Limbaugh, and Timeline by Michael Crichton. And the idea of traveling back in time has been the subject of many of my dreams. But which ancestor should I visit if I have to choose one?

What to do when the story is stuck inside of you?

Image credit:Wesley Frye

Have you ever felt stuck when attempting to write your personal history? Have you ever felt you don't have a story to tell? Do you not know where to begin?

In my blog post on America's Footprints, I share some suggestions that will help you get unstuck and it all begins with the question, "If there was a steal beam between two skyscrapers, what would you walk across it for?" and a truthful teenage response.

Check out the post What To Do When The Story Is Stuck Inside Of You?


Tombstone Tuesday Tip: Make it Tidy

Gravestone Photo Tip: Make It Tidy


With lovely weather, we can head out to the cemetery and photograph stones for our own research or as a service to those desperate for the images but live too far away to do it themselves. As we photograph the stones, let's spend a few extra minutes caring for the stones before we snap a photo.

No matter if your stone is vertical or set horizontally in the ground, gardeners and grounds keepers have to keep the grass and weeds trimmed. In so doing, grass debris will pile up on your stone. And, in some cemeteries, the stones are over grown by grass. 

If you'll take a bucket of gardening tools and some basket backs to haul away the organic material, you'll find your photography improves 10 fold. 

Imagine the details we're not seeing for Hugh Door because the dried grass was not cleared away.  I should have used a soft bristle brush or even my garden glove covered hands to remove the grass. I could use gardening scissors to trim back the grass along the edge of the stone to really make thing neat and tidy.
Hugh C Dorr St. Joseph Cemetery Lockbourne, Ohio
St. Joseph Cemetery
Lockbourne, Ohio

Perhaps a family member who is trying to find Hugh C Dorr (1912 - 1970) would be happy to even see this photo. However, they'll also wish they could see the rest of the inscription. With a little effort and planning, you can take a great photo rather than 'just a photo' of a gravestone.

Happy Grave Hopping!

Joseph Geissler: Could There Be More Than The Draft?

More than One Civil War Draft Register?


In the post  Another Land in Crisis, I share the story of how my German immigrant 3-times great-grandfather Joseph Geißler had come to America potentially to escape the turmoil in Baden following the 1848 German revolution only to have his new country descend into the Civil War. In June 1863, Joseph would sign the Union draft register show above. My curious nature wants to know if there is more information that can be found beyond this document.

Tombstone Tuesday Tip: Solving Uneven Shadows on Stones

Gravestone Photography Tip: Block the Trees



Have you ever had a photo from a cemetery that looks like this?

Photo by Devon Lee
Louise Gramlich
Green Lawn Cemetery
Find A Grave Memorial #75114324
It's a mixture of shadows and bright lights falling unevenly on your stone. Why?

Because the stone is situated under a tree and I visited the cemetery in less than ideal photography conditions. Most genealogists face this exact scenario.

There's a simple fix where you can capture a nice picture.

Tombstone Tuesday Tip: Transcribe On Site

Gravestone Photograph Tip: Transcribe On Site

For some of us, Spring is here! And for some of you, you're ready to go to their nearby cemetery and snap photos for FindAGrave or BillionGraves. There is one very important tip to remember.

Transcribe the stone on the spot!

Using the Notes Section on FamilySearch

Using the Notes Section on FamilySearch


In the movie, the Ten Commandments, the pharaoh often says, "So let it be written, so let it be done." Well, I need that kind of power to make a correction to the Gordon family line of mine stick. Thankfully, FamilySearch has a way to do just that. Partly I would use the "Reason to Detach" boxes when breaking the link between inaccurate relations, but I can also leave a post under the "Notes" section at the bottom of profile pages for each individual involved.

Joseph Geissler: Possible Migration Party



For several months I have shared the story of my 3-times great-grandfather Joseph Geißler who immigrated from Baden to Franklin County, Ohio. I firmly believe we have to Stop Researching and Start Writing our ancestor's stories in order to a) make them more enjoyable for those who inherit our research and b) so we can really scrutinize our research and what we still don't know.

Since completing Joseph's biography, that ended with Gone Too Soon, I've analyzed the value of researching surname origin and researching information from Joseph's naturalization records. Now, I'm mulling over the question of "Who did Joseph Travel with?"

Looking 5 Years Back

5 Years Ago at Patient Genealogy


Five. Ever wonder why five is such an important number? This year, I ran my first 5K. Surprisingly, it was rather fun. I had a terrific running buddy. And when I say running buddy, we started at the same time and he finished 7 minutes before I did. But, we've risen early each morning to prepare to run the whole thing. And I did and it felt great. I'm actually preparing for another one. I can see how this could get addicting.

A Patient Genealogist Runs 5K With Son
Me and My Running Buddy Pre-Race

How to Not Introduce Reason Statements

How to Not Teach Newbies about Reason Statements


For weeks I have shared a number of examples of how to write reason statements for the sources you discover on FamilySearch.org. As this is the only website that requires you to add statements when you link a source, I have only focused on this website. Additionally, I spend a lot of time teaching beginning family historians how to use this site and the number one question they have is 'What do I write in the box."

One resource that they have discovered is an old Family Search blog post entitled A Faster, Easier Method for Attaching Historical Records to Entire Families. For the most part, this post is great. I have no real problems with it. The one concern that arises with my students and other budding family historians is this image.

Joseph Geisler: Albert Noethlich is Likely Witness

Albert Noethlich of Franklin County Ohio

In the previous post, I asked the question is Adam really Albert on Joseph Geisler's naturalization documents?

Adam Notlick is what the name of the witness for Joseph Keizler (Joseph Geißler) appears to be, but in City Directories and the 1860 Census, the name Albert Noetlick can be readily found.

Albert Noethlick is a German immigrant, which means he could speak the language of my ancestor and would do well to be a witness on his behalf. I also noticed that Albert's father-in-law's name is Adam, so it's possible that if Albert doesn't have a second name (Albert Adam or Adam Albert) then perhaps the Adam of his father-in-law was inadvertently recorded.

Write the Story


In May 1998, country music star Clay Walker released his 16th single entitled "Ordinary People, " but it was the worst performing song he ever had. Despite failing to resonate with a wide audience, the song and its core values have sustained and inspired me through my life and as I work on capturing and preserving my family history.
Read the second verse and this chorus and see if you can understand why:
Then I heard some famous people had an anniversaryFive long years together, it was Hollywood historyNow my grandma and grandpa never made no printed pageBut they took the love of fifty-seven years right to the grave 

'Cause ordinary people have extraordinary loveA million little miracles far beneath the stars aboveThe greatest gift that I could ever wish for you and meIs a life as ordinary as can be. 
- "Ordinary People" Written by Ed Hill and Craig Wiseman, and recorded by Clay Walker on the 1998 Clay Walker Greatest Hits album.

I especially like the line "the greatest gift that I could ever wish for you and me is a life as ordinary as can be." Why? Because my ancestors were ordinary people. Because my husband and I are ordinary people.
To finish reading this post, visit America's Footprints, I express just how some ordinary people have had a great impact on my life. Check it out! (Link to the post)
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