31 January 2013

Can I Finish It?

     I have signed up for The Family History Writing Challenge, which begins tomorrow.  In this challenge, genealogists are encouraged to put pen to paper (finger to keyboard) and write their family histories. Not more procrastinating!

     If you'd like to participate, you can sign up to received daily emails, which will include encouraging tips and advice, and sign up for the message boards, to chat with other participants.  With these tools, hopefully many of us will find the motivation to start and finish a writing project.

     For myself, I want to finish my Albea Family book.  I started a version of this book a few years ago, and then started over last year. I've got a great start, but I just haven't been able to finish.  I've been using Blurb to write my book.  I really like Blurb, because they have so many options and allow me to be flexible in deciding what type of book to make.  I can choose to write a basic, traditional book, or I can create a book that combines text and photos, in a variety of sizes, including ebooks.  My particular book will be a Standard Landscape (10x8 inches), which will contain as many photos and copies of documents as possible.  In a way, I won't be citing my sources, so much as including them all in the book.

     For me, the challenge is the actual writing. I've already formatted much of the book, including census and estate records, as well as photographs of people and places.  What I need to do is actually write the content.  I will do a sketch of each of my Albea ancestors and their families, back to my 6x Great Grandfather, Joseph Alby.

     I don't have a word count goal yet, which is something that I might want to create.  I have no idea how many words the book will be, or how many I can write in a day.  Coming up with a goal would help keep me writing.  Maybe somewhere between 500 and 1,000 words a day, minimum five days a week.  Or maybe a goal to spend two hours a day, five days a week on the book.  Ultimately, my goal is to finish this book and to order a copy by February 29th.

     I wish everyone else good luck with their writing goals this month.

     Here are a few screenshots of what I have so far:

29 January 2013

My Day with StoryCorps

     Today was a very exciting day, with my first visit to StoryCorps.  When the Atlanta location moved to the Atlanta History Center in Buckhead (north Atlanta), I'd talked my mom into going and letting me interview her.  I'd set up the appointment a few weeks ago and by last night I'd gotten pretty nervous about it.

     Mom and I went out to lunch and then headed into Atlanta.  We arrived about an hour an a half early and spent some time in the exhibits at the Atlanta History Center before heading over to the StoryCorps office at McElreath Hall.  I've been here before, to research at the Kenan Research Library, so I had a pretty good idea of where I was going.

     We arrived at StoryCorps about 15 minutes early, as the website advised.  We were greeted by Stephanie, who was extremely nice.  She gave us some paperwork to fill out, mostly contact information, and chatted with us before going into the recording room.  She made sure we knew a little bit about the mission of StoryCorps and how our recording might be used in the future: stored at the Library of Congress and possibly used on the radio. If we do end up on the radio, StoryCorps will notify us.  We also had the option of opting out of sharing all together and simply taking home a copy of the recording, with all other copies destroyed.

      Once settled at the microphones, Stephanie explained the process: first, a sound check and a reminder to face the microphones when talking (which also had Mom and I facing each other). The recording would start with me, as I introduced myself, giving the date, location and the name of my interviewee; then my mom would do the same. At that point I would ask my first question and we would talk for 40 minutes. Stephanie would remain in the room and signal us when there were 10 and 5 minutes remaining, then give the "wrap up" signal when time was up. If she felt it necessary, Stephanie would also ask questions.

   I had given Mom a list of questions that I planned to ask a few weeks ago, so that she would feel more prepared to answer them. We had talked a little bit about each topic, though not enough to make our conversation sound rehearsed or prevent her from giving me any new stories.

     We talked about memories from mom's childhood, from the cold war and the Cuban Missile Crises and John F Kennedy's assassination, to women's changing roles in society, to the Vietnam War.  For the most part, the experience ran very smoothly as we went from topic to topic. I forgot what additional questions I wanted to ask near the end, but came up with a new topic after a moment. I think I was nervous about running over time and my brain kind of stopped for a minute. Stephanie only asked a question once, at the very end, to ask about what sort of activities and social events mom took part in as a child. It was a great question and mom had an
interesting answer that I appreciated hearing.  When we were done, Stephanie complimented mom on her answers, saying that she gave great details without needing to be prompted. I thought mom did an awesome job!

     As a copy of our interview was burned onto a CD, our photos were taken and then we signed a release form.  In a few weeks we'll be emailed a unique interview number for our recording at the Library of Congress.  If we're ever in DC, we'll be able to listen to our story at the LoC.  And while the StoryCorps experience is free, everyone is encouraged to make a donation, which we did.  As an added bonus, we also received free admission to the Atlanta History Center. We'd already paid for our visit today, so we received a free invitation for another day.

     All together, our visit to StoryCorps Atlanta was a great experience.  I'm really glad that Mom and I did this, and I would encourage others to do it too.

25 January 2013

Frances "Tootsie" Albea Clary, 1924-2013

     My Great-Aunt Tootsie (Frances Ninola Albea Clary) passed away yesterday.  I remember her as a happy, upbeat woman, well loved by her family.  She grew up in mill villages in Greenwood and Greenville, South Carolina. As a young teen, she was in a car accident that resulted in her being pronounced dead and credited her mother's prayers with her survival.  She married her husband, Doyle, only two weeks after they met and just before he went into the army for World War II.  She celebrated the end of the war with her husband in Downtown Atlanta. She was active in her church and devoted to her community there.
     Here is her obituary, from the Thomas McAfee Funeral Home website:

    "Frances A. Clary, 88, of Greenville, died Thursday, January 24, 2013. Mrs. Clary was a member of Brandon Baptist Church. She served as a Sunday School Teacher, GA leader, WMU, Director and Treasurer Of Joy Group.
     Surviving are two daughters, Linda Pannell, and Tracey Ligon and husband, Richard; a son, Ray Clary and wife, Sandra; eleven grandchildren; fourteen great grandchildren; 8 great-great grandchildren; and a sister, Marie Wingard.
     She was preceded in death by her husband of 66 years, Doyle Lloyd Clary. Visitation will be held Sunday, January 27, 2013 from 1:30 p.m. until 2:45 p.m. at Thomas McAfee Funeral Home, Northwest. The funeral service will follow in the Chapel at 3:00 p.m. Burial will be in Graceland Cemetery West.”

22 January 2013

WikiTree Upgrades Its Gedcom Upload Features

     A few months ago, I wrote a review of WikiTree, detailing The How and The Why.  The "Why" hasn't changed: WikiTree is still great cousin bate. In fact, since writing that blog post, a unknown cousin found the page on my 3x Great-Grandfather, Richard T Smith, and sent me a photo of him!

     The "How" on the other hand, has changed some. When I wrote that post, I said that although you could add your tree via Gedcom upload, I recommended against it (except in the case of a few generations at a time). The reason for this was to prevent accidental duplication of individuals in the WikiTree database.  WikiTree's purpose is to create one giant family tree; if you share an ancestor with another user, you should both share access to the profile and edit it together.

     I have to take that back now, as WikiTree has recently introduced a great new feature: Gedcom Comparisons. Now, when you upload your Gedcom file to WikiTree, you can automatically find matches between your tree and the WikiTree database.  Your matches are presented in a table and you can compare each match in a side-by-side comparison view.  If you do find matches, you can connect your tree with the ancestors already online and contact your newfound cousin!

     If you've hesitated to try WikiTree before, this new feature is a great reason to try it out. For more information on getting started, check out the press release at GeneaPress.  

19 January 2013

Found: Portrait of Tillie and Albert Stockmyer

     I picked up this cabinet card at an antique store in Lawrenceville, Georgia for $8.  The photo was taken in Frankfort, Indiana and the back of the card indicates that this is a photo of Tillie and Albert Stockmyer.

     The first thing I did, was try and date the photo.  Based on their clothes and hair (especially Tillie's), I thought that the photo was probably taken in the mid to late 1890s.  With this theory, I searched the 1900 census in Frankford for the couple.

     I found Albert and Tillie, whose full name appears to be Cratilla.  With such distinctive names, I managed to track the couple fairly easily. Here's their timeline:

     • Dec 1858 - Albert Stockmyer born in Ohio to Frederick and Elizabeth Stockmyer
     • Jun 1869 - Cratilla Swenager born in Indiana
     • Jul 1890 - Albert and Tillie married in Drake County, Ohio
     • 1900 Census - Albert and Tillie in Frankfort, Clinton, Indiana
     • 1905 City Directory - Albert and Tillie in Frankfort, Clinton, Indiana
     • 1910 Census - Tillie in Frankfort, Clinton, Indiana, listed as Divorced
     • 1930 Census - Tillie in Frankfort, Clinton, Indiana, listed as Widowed
     • 1940 Census - Tillie in Frankfort, Clinton, Indiana, listed as Widowed

     I haven't found Albert after after the 1905 city directory listing. It appears that the couple divorced and did not have any children. But perhaps they have nieces or nephews out there that would be interested in the photo. If you are a relative and would like to have the original photo, please contact me.

16 January 2013

Willis Craft: Postmaster

     Ancestry.com has a relatively new database, "Appointments of U. S. Postmasters, 1832-1971."  I came across it as a hint for another relative, and then started searching for other relatives. I already had a newspaper clipping that said that my 4x Great Grandfather, Willis Craft, had been postmaster. I wanted to see if the information was backed up in this database.

    The newspaper clipping above is dated 1851, but the only result I could find in the Postmasters database showed that Willis became Postmaster of Craftsville in 1858 (after leaving his position as State House Representative).  His predecessor, Kelly Sullivan took over in 1854.  Perhaps Willis had been postmaster before that?

     Unfortunately, I had trouble searching the database. When I searched for results in Elbert County, Georgia, I came up with "no matches."  That's strange, since the above listing is for Craftsville, Elbert, Georgia.  And other search by location turned up results, such as Lincoln County, Georgia. There seems to be a problem with Elbert County - and probably other random locations as well.

     I ended up browsing pages to find the previous years for Elbert County, and did eventually find what I was looking for. Willis Craft first became Postmaster in February of 1851, as indicated by the newspaper article.

     This entry had been mis-transcribed, which is why I couldn't find it by a name search. I should have been able to find it by location though. For a database that was created based on location, it's a pretty big deal that the location search doesn't work properly.

10 January 2013

Signed Up For StoryCorps

     I've posted before about StoryCorps, which is "an independent nonprofit whose mission is to provide Americans of all backgrounds and beliefs with the opportunity to record, share, and preserve the stories of our lives."  The organization has permanent locations in Atlanta and San Francisco, as well as a mobile recording booth that is currently in Santa Fe, NM.

     The Atlanta location recently moved from their location at the WABE (an NPR affiliate) radio station to McElreath Hall at the Atlanta History Center.  I've been to the History Center a number of times and done research at the Kenan Research Center at McElreath Hall, so I thought that this would be the push I needed to sign up.  I can tour the museum and grounds in the morning and record an interview in the afternoon.

Christmas 2012     I convinced my mom to let me interview her and have signed us up for an appointment on January 29th. Interview times are limited to certain hours on Tuesdays and Saturdays, though the Atlanta location currently only has Tuesday times open. Interviews are technically free, though a minimum donation of $25 is suggested.

     I've done some audio recordings with my mom before, using a digital recorder or my iPhone. The StoryCorps appointment is going to be a very different experience. We'll be in a professional recording booth with a facilitator, who will take notes and may or may not ask questions during the interview.  At the end of the interview, I'll receive a copy on CD, StoryCorps will keep a copy and they will send a copy to the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. Our photos will also be taken and copies kept with our story at the LOC.

     I want to ask my mom about social and cultural events and experiences from her youth. We have three weeks before the appointment, which she wants to use to prep. I'm going to work on a topic list and give it to her in the next few days, so that she'll feel more prepared during the appointment. I'm very excited to try out StoryCorps. Who knows, maybe I'll end up interviewing a few more relatives in the future?

02 January 2013

As the Tree Grows

     The family tree is growing: I'm going to be an aunt! My sister, Sarah, and her husband, Ryan, are going to have a baby.  I'm excited to become an aunt and I'm also very excited to talk about names.

     It's still a little early, but I love names! There's already one name picked out: if the baby is a boy, his middle name will be Thomas. This is our paternal Grandfather's name, Ryan's middle name and his mother's maiden hame.

     I decided to go through our family tree and find more names of genealogical significance. These are names that I like or sorta-like, and which are not names of living people. These might not be the best choices of all possible names, but are just the best names in our family tree (in my opinion).  Also, I don't like super-popular names, so I've excluded some names I really like because they're so popular right now.

MiloThe name of Ryan's Great-
Great Grandfather

Anderson - A popular middle name          
on our side of the family       

Tucker - The city our dad grew          
up in     

Alexander - The surname of our 
Great-Great Grandmother

Leila - Our Great-Great 

Margaret - Commonly found on both 
sides of the family

Dora - Our 3x Great Grandmother's
name, also our Great-Grandmother,

Caroline - Our family has deep roots
in both South and North Carolina

     And just for the heck of it, here are some genealogically based names that I would not recommend:

01 January 2013

2012 In Review

     In 2012 this blog had 14,661 visits and 24,757 page views.  The most popular posts of the year were:

  1. ConnectMyDNA Test Results - 4,845 views
  2. What is ConnectMyDNA? - 1,477 views
  3. Using WikiTree: How and Why - 975 views
  4. The ConnectMyDNA Kit - 502 views
  5. Dr McDonald's DNA Analysis - 480 views
  6. FindAGrave.com: What It Is, What It Isn't and How to Use It - 471 views
  7. DNA Comparisons - Why I'm Testing My Uncles - 407 views
  8. First Thoughts on My AncestryDNA Results - 362 views
  9. Ancestry.com's New DNA Test - 279 views
  10. How I'm Looking for Grandmama in the 1940 Census - 234 views

     Of those visits, 62% arrived via search engines.  The top searches were:

  1. ConnectMyDNA
  2. FindAGrave.com
  3. ConnectMyDNA review
  4. ConnectMyDNA.com
  5. Connect My DNA
  6. Ancestry.com New DNA Test
  7. Connect My DNA Review
  8. DNA Self Discover Kit
  9. www.ConnectMyDNA.com
  10. Dr McDonald DNA
     You can probably see a theme with the top pages and searches: ConnectMyDNA.  Every few months there would be a Groupon or Living Social deal for this product and people searching online would end up on my (negative) review. Honestly, it got a little annoying. I ended up closing comments on some posts due to their popularity.  I wish that my popular posts had been more about positive things from the year. 

     Some of my favorite aspects this year were the release of the 1940 Census, even if it didn't go as smoothly as many of us would have hoped, finding Albea and Huyler DNA cousins, protesting and (for now) winning the fight against the closure of the Georgia Archive, the Georgia Family History Expo, and my genealogy road trip to North Carolina.

     Thanks for reading and I hope you stick around for another year!


Related Posts with Thumbnails