29 July 2009

Waking Up To Ancestry.com

Yesterday, the Ancestry.com Blog announced that the new image viewer would be available for certain collections "sometime" today. Well, by the time I woke up, the new image view was up and running - and so was member connect. I'm very excited about some of these new changes.

First thing I noticed when I arrived at the ancestry.com home page was a new box, titled "Recent Member Connect Activity." I'm loving this. I can see that documents that I'm interested in (attached in my tree?) are being saved to individuals in other users' trees. So, for example, I can see that a researcher has attached the death record of my Great-Uncle Evoid Britt to their tree. It's now easy to view their tree and contact this researcher. By clicking "See more activity" I can see days worth of previous activity on documents that I'm interested in. Looks like a great way for Ancestry to get its users to use its trees.

Also, under the "Member Connect" section under "Collaborate" you can do a basic search for members doing similar research. The search seems to be a basic "fuzzy" tree search.

The new image viewer is pretty spiffy too - though a big buggy. The biggest change is probably the index listing each individual at the bottom of the page. You can see each person on the page on this page, instead of having to keep another page open which only showed one family record anyway.

Also, it is now crazy easy to "fix" a transcribed listing. In the image below, you can see that in the index section, Rossie is bold and highlighted. This is because I "fixed" the transcription. All I had to do was click on the first name (that had read "Sossie") and, in a pop-up box, tell it that I wanted to change the name due to a transcription error. Immediately I saw the new listing. I don't know if anyone else will see this yet - but it looks good for me! And so many fewer clicks!!!

And I said it was buggy - when I tried to re-size the image the screen went blank and I had to refresh the page to retrieve the image again. But, it was re-sized after that.

There's also an updated member connection area in the family trees. It seems to me like a glorified "hints" section, so I'm "ehh" about that new feature.

Overall, I'm very excited about these new features.... unlike the comments on the ancestry.com blog announcement. Many users are very negative about ancestry trees. They make true comments that very many trees are copy/paste versions of other trees that contain no documentation. Personally, I appreciate any chance to make connections with others researching my family - even if they don't pan out. I've made connection with distant cousins many times. These cousins have provided me with wonderful photos and documents that I've added to my research. I think these new features will help me continue to do that. Unlike "new search," if you don't like these features, you can easily ignore them. Move the "member connect" activity off your page and ignore the area. Simple.

Ok, I'm off to play!

28 July 2009

Grandmama's Rings

Grandmamma's Rings

The are my Grandmama's Wedding Rings. Betty (Huyler) Albea had two sets: an original set and a replacement set.

She received the original set in 1947 when she married her husband, Roy. The story goes that when Roy proposed, he did so by giving her money for a marriage license, "and she took it!" I'm not sure when she received the replacement set, but I think it could have been during the '80s. There are a number of Kay Jewelers receipts for "diamonds" dated from the mid 1980s.

(on the right photo, her ring can be seen - click for larger view)

My Grandmama left the rings to my mom and divided the rest of the the jewelry between my mom and my aunt. Both Roy and Betty died in the fall of 2005. When my sister was married in 2006, she wore Grandmama's engagement ring. Grandmama had a slight build, and the ring only fit on my sister's pinky finger.

25 July 2009

Fixin' Up Bunny

When I was a kid (around 10 years old?) my Grandmama made me and some of my cousins stuffed dolls. I got a stuffed rabbit. Being a kid, I named her Bunny. She was very pretty, with a green dress (my favorite!). I remember displaying her on the end of my bed during the day and cuddling with her at night. She was a very handy doll to cry on when I was upset.

Over the years, her condition became.... less than desirable. Mom took her, saying she'd fix it up. I didn't see Bunny for years. Recently, I asked about her and my mom pulled her out of her room, where she'd left her. This photo does not do justice to the dirt she was covered in:

she's well loved

But, a little "surgery" to close up that chest wound and a bath can do wonders...

sewing her up She's getting a bath

But, as you can see, she was still missing an arm. Now, over a year later, mom found the arm! Bunny sure looks happy to have her arm back! Now they just need to be sewn back on! Also - where'd her dress go?

24 July 2009

He lived -31 Years

I'm transcribing death certificates for FamilySearchIndexing right now. The put out a new project of 1930s Georgia death certs. They haven't had a GA project in a long time, so I hopped at the chance to help with this one.

So, I'm transcribing. Some are easy to read, some are hard to read. Some are in cursive, some in print and others typed. I come across one for Francis Gallo. This one's interesting! He's from Italy and died at "The Little Sister of the Poor," and was born in May 1961. Wait... these are all 1930 deaths! Checking death date.... yup, 1930! This man lived negative 31 years! It's a miracle! Or, I guess it's a typo... but a miracle sounds like more fun.

Uncle Bill

From today's AJC, my Great-Uncle Bill's Obituary.

"William O. (Red) Wingard Jr.

WINGARD, William, Jr. Mr. William O. (Red) Wingard, Jr., age 81, of Decatur, died on Wednesday, July 22, 2009. He is survived by his wife, June Wingard of Decatur; children, Kathy Wingard of San Diego, Michael Williams of Flowery Branch, Ava Walter of Flowery Branch, William O. Wingard, III of Fairburn; and sister, Katherine Sanders of Jonesboro. Graveside service will be held at 11:00 AM, Saturday, July 25, 2009 at Sherwood Memorial Park with Rev. Tom Shannon officiating. The family will receive friends from 6-8 PM, Friday, July 24, 2009 at our Jonesboro Chapel. Pope Dickson & Son, Jonesboro Chapel. 770-478-7211"

21 July 2009

Tombstone Tuesday - Craft

Martha Franklin Craft was born in Georgia in 1809 and died in 1880. She was the wife of Willis Craft. They lived together in Craftville, Elbert County, GA. I descend from their son, William A. Craft. Martha is buried at Rock Branch Baptist Church Cemetery in Elbert County, GA.

Martha Craft

19 July 2009

Buried Nearby

I just did a search on FindAGrave.com, looking for any new listings for Albea ancestors. I found something new - though it's apparently been there for three years!

My maternal Grandfather's Uncle, Melvin A. Albea died in Barrow County, GA in 1963, followed by his wife, Elsie (Lindsay) Albea in 1992. Barrow County is next door to where I live in Gwinnett, so the fact that I have little information on Melvin and Elsie's lives are due to laziness on my part. I should have already looked up their obituaries at the library and found their graves. Well, I've been lazy and hadn't gotten to it yet. But, with a quick search on FindAGrave, I found their graves, photo included. Yay!

Now, considering the local vicinity, I thought it might be a good idea to visit the cemetery and see if there were any other relatives buried there. So, a quick look at google maps and.... I realized that I've driven past this cemetery at least 50 times! It's five minutes from my sister's house! I really should stop being so lazy with the easy to research relatives...

View Larger Map

18 July 2009

Why Trust Bibles?

Yesterday on Twitter, this questions was queried:

"Stupid #genealogy ? :Why do those with the "Family Bible" take it as gospel when everything written in it was recorded long after the event!"

Great question! This got me thinking about a few things. Initially, I thought back to my family bible, in which most data was probably recorded late, as a sort of "I'm getting old, I'd better write down what I know about my family." I can only assume this, based on the 80% consistency of the the writing, which is written by the same hand and using the same pen. Obviously, you can't record a birth and death (separated by 50+ years) at the same time and say that this individual's birth was recorded on the day of the event. Also, obviously, if dates jump around and aren't in order, the events were not recorded in order. BUT, this was not so obvious to me when I first has access to the bible (too busy doing my happy dance!). So, my first answer to this questions is: Because the researcher doesn't realize that the events were recorded so long after they happened.

Sarah Britt Craft birth affidavitAs I continued to think about the issue, I thought back to my paternal Grandmother's birth certificate. It seems that at her birth, she was not issued a birth certificate. But, later in life, she found a need to provide a birth certificate for legal reasons. So, she applied for a Delayed Certificate of Birth. In order to receive this, she needed to prove her identity. One option for this, was to provide a family bible or "family record book" as documentation. So, my second answer to this question is: Because our government accepts it as proof.

And then, continuing the think on the issue, I had one more answer: Because the researcher wants the information to be correct. For many, these bible records are the only documentation that an ancestor left behind. For ancestors who died before mandatory death certificates and whose grave cannot be found, a bible record is the proof that a research dreams for. If we don't have any other records, we really want the bible records to be true.

But, these reasons aren't enough are they? The question is a good one and hopefully got a few folks thinking (like it did for me). Bible records are not the "be all and end all" to prove an ancestor's life. They, like any other record, should be taken with a grain of salt. When researching, it's always best to find multiple records to prove a fact. Bible records can stand as one of those records - now it's time to find the others.

16 July 2009

Remembering the Moon Landing

The moon

On 21 July 1969, man walked on the moon. It's one of those moments that stand out in history and that will be remembered by the millions who watched the event live on television. My parents both remember watching the event when they were young teens. Here's what they remember:

(audio may not display in blog readers)

14 July 2009

Tombstone Tuesday - Powell

Grave of Mariah Powell

Maria (or Mariah) Powell was born 5 Aug 1821, probably in South Carolina. She married farmer Wiley Powell of Elbert County, GA. Together they had at least 10 children, including my ancestor, John Franklin Powell. In 1864, Wiley died of disease while fighting in the Civil War. Mariah lived on and left behind documentation in pension applications. She died on 6 Feb 1912 in Elbert County at age 90. She is buried in Rock Branch Cemetery in Elbert County, next to a memorial marker of her husband.

13 July 2009

Cue the music

Cue the music - 'cause I'm dancing. A genealogy Happy Dance, that is.

I've never fully understood why many researchers write off online family trees. Sure, take everything with a grain of salt.... or a whole can of salt. But, I've had a lot of success over the years with online trees - at ancestry.com, rootsweb, myheritage, etc. I've found quite a number of well researched trees that match my research and help to further it. Today, I once again found success with online trees.

I was searching for my earliest proven Craft ancestor, Willis Craft (1809-1874, Elbert Co., GA) on Ancestry.com. Under the "Photos" tab I saw a photo of his grave posted. I already had a photo of Willis' grave, but decided to explore the family tree that the photo was attached to. And I'm glad I did! Attached to the tree were quite a good amount of photos for my ancestors. For the first time, I saw pictures of my Great-Great-Great Grandmother, my Great-Great Grandparents and my Great Grandfather's siblings.

I've sent off an email to the owner of the tree and hope that they reply. Here are some of the photos they have posted. They are linked back to where I found them.

(1) Rossie E. Craft, (2) George & Effie Craft
(3) Lamar, Bennie, Claud, Denver, Paul, George Robert, Jr.

I use Reunion

I use Reunion - and I really do love the program. As a Mac user, choices in genealogy software are more limited than those using Windows. This was especially true a few years ago when I first went looking for software. At the time, I choose Reunion and, at $99, it was actually a Christmas present that I could not afford on my own! I've been happy with the program and the consistent updates and upgrades that have been offered. I'm currently running Reunion 9.09.

Here's a view of the program:

There's a lot that's customizable about this program. For example, the screenshot above can be completely customized. I can change the colors, the sizes of each section, which fields I want to display, date formats, how children and parents are listed (list/buttons), and more.

There are also a lot of great features available.

I can create all sorts of reports and charts, which can then be customized. I can add photos, re-arrange the direction of the chart and how the lines flow. It took a bit of exploration, but now I can create a descendent, pedigree, fan, timeline, or relative chart and customize it with ease. Here's a simple one that I did, that looks nothing like it did when I started (click to see larger):

Another feature I like is the "Ages" button. With one click I can see how old a person was when a life event occurred. In the example below, I can see that Leverett was 18 when he married, 21 at the age of his first child, 46 when his mother died, and 68 when his wife died. This feature has been a quick check for finding how information at a glance. For example, I can click and see that my parents have been married for 30 years and 266 days as of today. You can also add historic events into the timeline, such as Presidents and Olympic events.

Another great feature is the ability to create web pages. This feature has given me a little frustration - but that's because I wasn't using it right. Now, I can easily maintain and update my own family website. See it here.

Other great features include an easy to use index, photo and media attachment to individuals and sources, book-style reports, birthday reminders, address books, speed names, and a good help manual. I also recommend checking out the community at the leisterpro website, where other uses have posted great tips and tricks.

Overall, I really do recommend Reunion to Mac users and, personally, prefer it over MacFamilyTree.

10 July 2009

A Special Note, from Ancestry

Every time I log on to Ancestry.com I see the light blue banner at the top of the page: there's a "special note" "about site improvements." Ancestry wants to let members know about the new stuff and the changes that they are making. This note pertains to announcements they've already made, and serves as a reminder about what's coming: member connect, new image viewer, changes to their trees, and profession genealogist services.

Thanks for the reminder.... that you announced these changes a long time ago and haven't made them live yet! What can I say, I'm impatient! :) It's been over two months since some of these changes were announced - over and over again - and only the new trees are live. Why announce these things so far in advance and then wait forever to put them out?

Based on previous changes they've made, there will be a lot of back-lash against the changes anyway - whether or not the changes are good or bad. So, part of the wait is, I assume, a chance to forewarn folks about the changes. But come on already, let us see what you've got!

08 July 2009

Tombstone Tuesday - Witt

William D. Witt & Frances Iola Q. Witt

William David WittWilliam D. Witt and Frances Iola (Quattlebaum) Witt are buried together at the Bethel Methodist Church Cemetery in Callison, Greenwood, SC.

William was the son of David Jefferson Witt and Alice Miller (who are buried just up the road at Bold Springs Baptist) and Iola was the daughter of Millege E. Quattlebaum and Mary Jane "Mamie" Dorn. Both native to neighboring Edgefield county, they were married around 1898 and lived most of their lives in Greenwood County.

07 July 2009

Found: A Cousin in a Yearbook

I've finally found success with Ancestry.com's U.S. School Yearbook's database. I've searched this database before with no success, but today I noticed it was "updated." So, I decided to see if I could find anything of interest to me. I started browsing and saw that there were two yearbooks listed for Greenville, Greenville, SC in a time span that would apply to my mom's cousins.

So I searched for my 1st cousins, once removed, and had success with the younger one. I found "Cousin Jim" quite quickly - though I didn't recognize him. I called mom over and she verified that the boy in the photo was her cousin. He's pictured as a sophomore in his class photo and again with his football team. (I also learned from my mom that my older cousin did not attend high school in Greenville, so I stopped looking for him there.)

(Wade Hampton High School Yearbook - 1976. Vol. 16, (Greenville, SC), Pg 216.)


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