Thursday, January 29, 2009

Gentle Advice for Genealogy Societies

[Note: The television show mentioned below never aired as expected. However, the advice for genealogy society still stands. Groups should always be prepared for an influx of web site traffic. --Amy, July 2009]

In April 2009, an American adaptation of the British series Who Do You Think You Are? will run on NBC. If this show is well accepted, interest in genealogy could rise. People will start Googling their family names and searching for ways to learn more about genealogy. When these new folks click on your genealogical society's web page, what will they see? Will it be enough to get them through your virtual door?

In the process of creating the Texas Genealogy Events calendar, I have looked at the web sites of dozens of local, regional and statewide genealogical societies.

However, culling event information from some genealogical web sites has been surprisingly challenging. If you--as part of a genealogical society--are interested in attracting an audience for your events and gaining new members, I offer the following suggestions:

Keep your web site current. Use dates and years. Does your event page say the current year anywhere on it? If you post a list that says, "Meeting on March 1," or "Meeting the first Thursday of the month," how are we supposed to know if you mean this year? It may seem basic to long-time society members, but potential new members won't know the routine. In my web site visits, I saw several genealogy societies' web sites that showed no year information anywhere and I had no idea if the society was still going strong, or if the page I was visiting was an old one.

Provide detailed location information. "Meeting at the library," does not tell potential new members where to go. At the very least, provide the name of the library, the address and a phone number someone could call if they were lost on the way.

Include email addresses where questions can be addressed, then answer those questions. When trying to build this calendar, I had questions I wanted to ask before adding events of certain societies. I emailed five or six different societies, asking if "meeting 1st Thursday of the month" was still going on, or requesting clarification of some confusing details. Not a single society I emailed returned a reply. One of the societies was a biggie, and I was surprised at the silence.

Make your group and events sound fun! The Internet is the stage on which your genealogical society is standing, and the potential new members clicking on your web site are the audience. What kind of impression does your web site give, and will it entice visitors to take the next step? It's very hard to enter a meeting room full of people where you don't know a soul. Tell us what to expect and convince us to walk through the door. If you have a social time before your meeting, describe it. Will there be coffee and treats? Are there smaller groups gathering after the meeting to discuss specific genealogical topics? Describe those events. Are there regular casual meetings at local restaurants? Tell us and make sure new people know they're welcome.

Many smaller genealogy societies are barely hanging on, and frankly, they need new blood. Having a web site with current, detailed information and veteran members willing to reach out will attract the eager new members that are out there. A genealogy web site does not have to be fancy, but it should provide enough information to sell itself to the larger genealogical audience.

G-Files and Orphan Records

Now that I have these manila folders (aka G-Files), I have a place for records that don't quite fit into the tree yet.

For example, I just printed out an obituary for a person named Lenertz who recently passed away in Minnesota. This person isn't in my tree (yet) but there is a good chance he/she should be. However, the obituary is only online for a few weeks at the most. Now I have a file folder for records that are waiting to be connected to my tree.

I call them "orphan records." I have folders for Lenertz orphans, as well as Baerecke orphans. I'm trying to see if my H. H. Barecke of Milwaukee is Harry Baerecke of Milwaukee. I have no information on H. H., but I've found some information on Harry's father, Max Baerecke. I'm starting to collect that in a folder to build a case on my hunch.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The G-Files

While everyone is moving toward binders and digitization of genealogical records, I've taken a step back in records management time. I bought 100 manila folders and I'm not afraid to use them.

I do keep the official records in archive-safe binders. I also have records and photos on my computer. However, I needed a place where I could keep copies of everything for a person.

My manila folders are not archive friendly. I don't intend them to be. Obviously, not everyone in my tree will get the manila folder treatment, but there are many people for which I want deep study.

Each folder is labeled with a person's name. Inside you might find census records, birth/marriage/death certificate copies (not the real thing), newspaper articles, a picture or two, and any other records that would help me tell a story about this person. I will also have a records inventory for each file. Each folder will also have a page of my own personal notes (usually handwritten scribbles) and anything else that is important.

I'm setting up these files to help me prepare to write about these people's lives, should I ever do so. Also, when I do research somewhere, I can just take the pertinent files with me. I don't have to pull anything out of binders.

I took Records Management in library school and it was one of the most useful classes I had. I totally respect the preservation process, but sometimes you just have to go old school when gathering information.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Mail Bag Brings Medical History

[For those that need a background information, Frankie is my great-grandmother. She had five sisters. I know what happened to Frankie. I want to know more about her sisters. I've sent away for some records that may help me picture their lives. Periodically, I post what I've discovered.]

I received two more death certificates from Oklahoma. Door-to-door, it took about two weeks. I think the earlier ones I ordered took four.

Now I have death certificates for three of Frankie's five sisters. Two of the three lived long lives, but they had something in common: Huntington's disease.

Did anyone in my family know this? It's inherited.

Now I have to wait for the death certificates of the other two sisters to arrive from California to see if either of them suffered from the same affliction.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Mail Bag

Seems like just yesterday I was whining about the $5 per death certificate increase in Oklahoma.

They may be costly, but they sure are quick. I've received four death certificates already.

Two of the certificates are for sisters of my great-grandmother, Frankie Velma Jones.

Mattie Jones Frensley died at age 88. She's buried in Duncan, Oklahoma. I've seen the Frensley name in many Duncan records and histories. I'll have to explore it further.

Naomi Jones Gable died October 22, 1921 at age 28. It looks like she died from childbirth complications. I do not show a child for Naomi being born in 1921, so either the baby died or I haven't found it in the records yet. Also, this certificate is filled out very sparsely. Fortunately, I know Naomi's parents' names. It looks like the informant is "Mrs. Fuqua," which could be Rutha, but I'm not 100% sure of the signature. I sent away for this death certificate putting the date range as 1920-1926, not sure it was enough information. I'm glad they found a record for me. Now Naomi has a real death date and not a range.

When Frank Wiley Jones' father died in the Civil War, his mother remarried and had another child. I got the death certificate for that child, who grew up to be Anne Manion. She lived to be 92, and is now buried in Oklahoma City.

I also got a death certificate for Nolen Fuqua. He's not blood related, but he did marry Frankie's sister, aka "Aunt Ruth." I needed the record because I couldn't find Nolen's mother's name. I have it now. She was Beatrice Jones. Was she related to our Jones family or is it just a coincidence? Sometimes getting an answer leads to 10 more questions.

Rutha Jones Fuqua's death certificate hasn't arrived yet. Neither have the ones from California. They take forever to get here. Once those arrive, I'll have the records for all of Frankie's sisters.

Slowly and surely I'll have a well-documented genealogy of my Chickasaw Colberts.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Ms. 3000

This lil' blog just got its 3,000th visitor. Not bad, given We Tree is not quite seven months old.

Visitor #3,000 was from somewhere in Louisiana. Thank you to that person and everyone else before him or her. Hopefully there are many more to come.

Texas Genealogy Events: Week of January 26-February 1, 2009

Straight from the Texas Genealogy Events calendar, here's what is happening in Texas for the week of January 26-February 1, 2009:

Tuesday, January 27

Austin Genealogical Society Meeting
Social Time - 6:30 PM
Meeting 7:00 PM

Friday, January 30

Bay Area Genealogical Society Meeting (Houston area)
Meeting 7:00 PM

Saturday, January 31

Texas Czech Genealogical Society (Caldwell, TX)
Annual Membership Meeting and Luncheon
Meeting 8:00 AM - 4:00 PM

Sunday February 1 (all month)

African-American Display
Clayton Library Center for Genealogical Research (Houston)

Please click on the Texas Genealogy Events calendar, or the societies' web sites for more information.

Do you have an event you'd like to add to the calendar? Just give me the details. My email address is on the right side of this blog.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Free Ancestry Webinar 1/27

Ancestry has a webinar coming up on January 27 at 8:00 P.M. EST. The hosts will be taking about the features added to in 2008.

These webinars are free and easy to follow. You do not need any technical knowledge. Don't be afraid to try something new. I'm all for any free presentation that provides new information about genealogy, and this fits the bill.

CSG Nutmegger Available as Online Searchable Database

From the New England Historic Genealogical Society. Please direct questions to Tom Champoux,


CSG Nutmegger now available as online searchable database.

Boston, MA & East Hartford, CT – January 22, 2009 – The New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS) and the Connecticut Society of Genealogists (CSG) announce today the first phase of bringing the CSG’s flagship journal The Connecticut Nutmegger online as a searchable database, available to members on both organizations’ Websites.

The Connecticut Nutmegger has served as the “journal of record” for the CSG since 1968. During this time it has captured a wealth of information for genealogists such as vital records, probate records, bible records, headstone records, memorials and other useful records. The Nutmegger also presents well-documented family histories and genealogical articles, covering hundreds of families – mainly with Connecticut ties. Published articles include commentary on and corrections to previously published family lines, vital records and town histories. Book reviews, research tips, queries and other valuable tools for genealogists are also available.

Dick Tomlinson, Chair, CSG Publication Committee, said, “This project cuts new ground in cooperation between the Connecticut Society of Genealogists and the New England Historic Genealogical Society. It benefits the members of both organizations by bringing forty years of accumulated genealogical treasures off the bookshelves and into digital databases.”

NEHGS President and CEO, D. Brenton Simons, said, “We are pleased to work with CSG in this way. The Nutmegger is a marvelous resource for those researching in Connecticut and we know countless people will benefit from having it available online.”

This database will be released in stages over the next year, starting this week with volumes 1-6, which cover the years 1968, its first year, through 1973. Additional sets of five volumes will be added periodically throughout this coming year. The database search facility is very similar to that of the NEHGS Register and allows searches by last and/or first name, or by subject keywords. Images of the original pages may be seen from the search results page. It is also possible to browse the pages of the Nutmegger by entering a Year (or volume number) and a page number. This first installment indexes 12,347 names and 477 subject records.

For more information on The Nutmegger, visit the CSG Website, or the NEHGS Website,

The New England Historic Genealogical Society, founded in 1845, is the country's oldest non-profit genealogical organization. With more than 20,000 members nationally, NEHGS collects, preserves, and interprets materials to help make accessible the histories of families in America. Located at 99-101 Newbury Street in Boston, the NEHGS research library is home to more than 12 million books, journals, photographs, documents, records, and microfilms. NEHGS also boasts one of the largest genealogy manuscript collections in the country, covering more than four centuries of local and family history.

About CSG
The Connecticut Society of Genealogists, Inc. was founded in 1968 to serve those interested in genealogy and family history and has a particular focus on Connecticut. CSG is a non-profit genealogical organization with more than 3,300 members nation-wide. Through meetings, seminars, classes, publications and other resources, CSG seeks to aid its members and to make genealogical data more readily available. It maintains a research library, including more than 18,000 member charts, at 175 Maple St. in East Hartford, CT that is open to the public M-F from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Mailing address: P.O. Box 435, Glastonbury, CT, 06033. Phone: (860) 569-0002. For more information visit

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Chickasaw Genealogy Resources

Here are some resources that may help you with Chickasaw genealogy.

Official web site of the Chickasaw Nation

Chickasaw Historical Society
PO Box 1548
Ada, OK 74821

Chickasaw Tribal Library
1003 Chamber Loop
(send mail to PO Box 1548, Ada, OK 74821)
Ada, OK 74821

Chickasaw Genealogy Archive Center
402 W. 8th
(send mail to PO Box 1548, Ada, OK 74821)
Tishomingo, OK 73460

Chickasaw White House
6379 Mansion Road
(send mail to PO Box 1548, Ada, OK, 74821)
Milburn, OK

Chickasaw Council House Archives
209 N. Fisher
Tishomingo, OK 73460

Chickasaw Photograph Archives
1003 Chamber Loop
(send mail to PO Box 1548, Ada, OK, 74821)
Ada, OK 74821

These sources and addresses came from the Chickasaw Nation Services @ Large 2009 book mailed to my house. I tried to link to the title but Blogger doesn't like the @, so click here for the link.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Semi-Wordless Wednesday

This is my first Wordless Wednesday. Can you believe it? I can. I always have too much to say and not enough worthy pictures...until today:

Picture taken during my trip to Kelley-Rogers Cemetery in Cameron Parish, Louisiana.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Robert Hayward: Of the Highest Character and Most Sterling Worth

The Las Vegas Daily Optic, Las Vegas, New Mexico, Tuesday Evening, August 15, 1905, front page, bottom of left column:

Robert Hayward Dead

Las Vegas will regret sincerely to hear of the death of Robert Hayward which occurred at the home of his father, T. W. Hayward, this morning around 11 o'clock. Six weeks ago, while on his sheep ranch near Corona, Mr. Hayward contracted typhoid fever. He was brought to the city and every effort was made to save his life. It was believed the latter part of last week that he had passed the crisis of his disease and that the chances for recovery were good. Sunday evening a relapse came and since that time the loved ones who watched over him were sustained only by the hope that hopes against hope.

Deceased was born in Kansas. He was married nearly three years ago and his widow and one child are among those who most deeply mourn. Mr. Hayward was an industrious, intelligent young man of the highest character and most sterling worth.

By hard work and energy he had grown prosperous and life held much promise for him. For his family and relatives, Las Vegas people will entertain the warmest sympathy.

Arrangments for the funeral have not yet been made. Will Hayward arrived from El Paso this afternoon.

Robert Hayward was the second husband of my great-great grandmother, Marie Magdalena Schmitz. The daughter not mentioned by name is Violet Hayward (1901-1991). Marie's other daughter, Gertrude, is not mentioned in the article. She is Robert's step-daughter and my great-grandmother.

The T(homas). W(alter). Hayward mentioned in this article as father of Robert, may also be the T. W. Hayward who owns a local butcher shop. Ads for this store are in other editions of this same paper.

I believe the Will Hayward noted above as arriving from El Paso is a brother of Robert.

I did not know Robert Hayward had farm. By researching his life and death, I am learning about those events of my blood-related ancestors. They spent time on that sheep farm in rural New Mexico. How awful it must have felt for Marie to bury a second husband so young.

Marie Schmitz Baerecke Hayward did marry again. I don't know when she came to New Mexico or when she left, just that she's in Missouri for the 1920 census and spent her final years in California. Hopefully further study of the Las Vegas, San Miguel county, New Mexico area between 1892 and 1920 will shed some light Marie's life-event timeline and that of Robert's step-daughter Gertrude.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Texas Genealogy Events: Week of January 19-25, 2009

Here is the short list of genealogy events happening in Texas (or are of interest to those in Texas) for the week of January 19-25, 2009.

Monday, January 19
Brazos Genealogical Society Monthly Meeting
Bryan, Texas - Bryan Public Library, 7 pm

Thursday, January 22
East Texas Genealogical Society Get Acquainted Luncheon
Tyler, Texas - Heartland Ham Co., 11:30 am

Saturday, January 24
Clayton Library Class - Using the HPL Catalog
Houston , TX - Clayton Library, 2 pm

Van Zandt County Genealogical Society Meeting
Canton, TX - Van Zandt Library, 2 pm

For further details on these events, please see the Texas Genealogy Events Calendar.

Do you have an event you'd like to see on the calendar? Contac me using the email address at the right side of this blog. Events should occur in Texas or be of interest to Texans (neighboring states welcome). Speakers are encouraged to publicize their presentations.

Friday, January 16, 2009

In the Spotlight: Ernie's Journeys

I don't normally play favorites in the blog love department because each blog deserves attention for all of the hard work that's put into it. However, I'm going to make an exception and move Ernest Margheim to the front of the class.

He is the author of the Ernie's Journeys blog. He is also a great storyteller sharing bits of his life from the last 87 years. Yes, I said 87 years.

I encourage you to put Ernie's Journeys on your list. It's like a living history book only funner and with better pictures.

Jumpstart Your Genealogy Blog: Week 2, Prompt 2

Week 2 of the Jumpstart Your Genealogy Blog Prompts says: Participate in carnivals. A blog carnival is a showcase of bloggers’ posts on a given topic. Genealogy bloggers LOVE carnivals because there’s something for everyone. To learn about when these showcase-type events are happening, read others’ genealogy blogs. Someone’s always talking about a carnival.

Been there, done that many times over. Check my tag "carnivals" on the right side to see the events in which I've participated.

Once you participate in a genealogy blog carnival and post your entry, I challenge you to go further. Read everyone else's entries and comment on the ones that move you. It's a very rewarding experience. You establish contact with other bloggers. If you provide the link to your blog in your comments, it also refers new readers to your work. Win win.

9th Edition of Smile for the Camera is Here

The 9th edition of Smile for the Camera is up at Shades of the Departed. You might remember my entry was a family photo.

The entries are quite good. You don't have to know these writers to be drawn in to their own mystery photos. Take a look when you have the time.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Back to School: January Progress Report

I've been taking the National Genealogical Society study course, which I previously talked about here and here. Now it's time for a progress report.

The holidays forced me to shelve my school work for a few weeks. I had to do mom things like buy presents. I also had to prepare for a trip to California. It took some time to get back in the routine, but here I am.

I finished the first assignment in lesson 2 today. It was about family traditions. What you might think is a tradition is actually a custom. A tradition is more like a story passed down and I had to verify it with records. I had to fluff up my tradition example a bit. As a family, we're small and just not that exciting. My piece was a reach, but it was all true and I have the documents to back it up.

The lesson came with a writing example from a former student. His was about 1 1/2 pages. Mine was 4. What can I say? I do a lot of research. I like to talk about said research.

Part 2 of lesson 2 discusses family papers/memorabilia/heirlooms. This task is proving a challenge because the items that exist for my family are all in California and I am in Texas. I have to reach deep into my brain for ideas to list for this assignment.

So far I do like the experience of this course and do feel like I am learning something. I just wish the process was more interactive, but I'll save that rant for another time. Onward!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Investigating a Sutherland Connection

I ordered a death certificate for John Fraser Sutherland (1872-1946) today. He was my great-great grandmother's third husband.

My great-great aunt Violet was John Sutherland's stepdaughter, raised by him.

Violet's second husband was Roy Vaughn. Roy's mother's maiden name was Sutherland.

Coincidence? I don't know. That's why I ordered the death certificate. We'll see what clues it provides.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Snow Boy: 64th Carnival of Genealogy

The topic of the 64th Carnival of Genealogy is "A Winter Photo Essay." I realize this is a record snow season in many parts of the country and the last thing you want to see is pictures of the white stuff, but hear me out.

This is the story of a little boy who loves snow. Sadly, the only climate this child has ever known is a warm, toasty one. He's visited snow, but never had it fall at his house.

Christmas Eve 2004, snow did in fact come to our Texas coast. The Weather Channel showed footage of children frolicking in the snow on Galveston beaches. Unfortunately, Snow Boy was in California at the time, visiting family for the holidays. He could only watch the white stuff on television.

One day in December 2008, the Houston temperature dropped as the precipitation chances rose. Snow Boy prayed for snow and assured his mother that this was the day it would happen.

I humored him but prepared for the inevitable disappointment of a boy's burst weather bubble. Then the forces came together. After school, a light sleet began to fall and continued to do so through dinner.

Snow Boy pulled up the weather forecast on the computer and took this picture as proof of the sheer possibility of it all:

Do you know what happened next? It started snowing in Houston! Just for Snow Boy!

And it kept snowing....

....and snowing.....

...all because one little Snow Angel Maker willed it to happen:

The next morning, there was little evidence of the magic night except for this mini snowman on the mailbox and the new winter memories of a happy little boy.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Price Increase in OK not OK

The price of dying in just went up in Oklahoma. Actually, the price of verying one's death went up.

The last batch of Oklahoma death certificate applications I sent out cost $10 apiece. Now, they are $15 each! Happy New Year, I guess.

The form is updated. It asks for more information, which may aid in finding the record. You may also type right on the form and print it, but you can't save it.

Frankie and Her Sisters

One of my 2009 resolutions was to build a foundation to research my Chickasaw Colberts. To do so, I had to start with my great-grandmother and her five sisters.

I already have the death certificate for my great grandmother, Frankie Velma Jones (1888-1951).

Today I filled out the applications for death certificates for the sisters. I was surprised that two of the sisters died in California, as did Frankie. Frankie was the eldest and she was born in Texas. All the other sisters were born in Indian Territory/Oklahoma.

Here's my death certificate shopping list:

Mattie Jones Frensley (1890-1979)
Naomi Jones Gable (1894- ? betw. 1920-1926)
Rutha Jones Fuqua (1895-1991)
Vera Jones Cobble (1901-1967)
Mary Elizabeth Jones Bennett (1909-1987)

I also printed applications for Naomi's 2 children, Ruth's husband Nolen (because I don't know his mom's name), and one of Vera's children.

Notes for my family:

1. These sisters are Doris' aunts. Their children are her 1st cousins.

2. The two California sisters (Vera and Mary) lived in the Pasadena/Altadena area. Do you remember visiting anyone out there in the 1940's-1950's?

Best of the Genea Blogs

My 52 Weeks of Genealogy Blog Topics two-part post made the Best of the Genea-Blogs for January 4-10. What's more impressive is that I'm among many better known bloggers. It's like being in the locker room with all the big leaguers.

Thanks for the nod, Randy!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Calendar of Texas Genealogy Events

I made a calendar of genealogy events happening in Texas in 2009. Feel free to share it, link to it, borrow from it and whatever helps get the word out.

Texas Genealogy Events Calendar for 2009

This tool is a continuous work in progress. Contact me if you have an event you would like to include. Monthly meetings, social groups, conferences, special events and anything related to genealogy are welcome. Events should either be held in Texas or of interest to those in the state.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Who Are You? 9th Edition of Smile for the Camera

The 9th edition of Smile for the Camera asks:

We are asked to share a picture from our collections. The pictures should contain people whose identities are not known.

Sadly, I have a few of these images. My family is quite small during the photography era, so the chances that I am related to these people are pretty high.

The photograph I've chosen for this edition came from my maternal grandmother's collection. She had one parent come from Germany and the other from Austria. This image could belong to either one, but I'm leaning toward it being from Austria:

I'm guessing this is a wedding photo. It might be the Yost/Jost family. The book the center woman is holding has a cross on it. My great-grandmother was a devout Catholic. Also, if I may be so blunt, the noses on some of the ladies make me feel that this is my great-grandmother's family. Lastly, that baby on the right bears a strong resemblance to my grandmother's brother as a child. They are two different people, perhaps first cousins, but the similarities are significant.

It's possible that the bride and some of the others are siblings of my great-grandmother. I might be releated to everyone in this picture. Are her parents in the photo? I'll never know.

It's very hard to be this close to the answer and realize it will likely never be resolved.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Get Yourself a Google Reader

I know there are some family and friends out there reading this blog that check it several times day to see if I have updated.

I personally read about 200 blogs. Not all of them are updated daily, but there's no way I'd ever have the time to check each one individually to see what's new.

Google Reader keeps track of my blog subscriptions and tells me when they are updated.

This tool isn't hard to use. You just have to take some time to figure it out. Fortunately, there's a blog post out there called Google Reader for Beginners. How did I find out about this handy lesson? It came through my Google Reader, of course.

Bahamian Boy: Weekly Genealogy Blog Prompt #1

Earlier this week, a brilliant blogger published a list of 52 genealogy blog prompts. The goal was to encourage new and infrequent bloggers to write regularly.

Then, Thomas MacEntee, a blogger who actually is brilliant set each prompt to be a weekly event amongst genea-bloggers. So cool.

I hadn't planned to follow the 52-week prompt because I already have ideas coming out my ears. But how could I not attend the party I helped to start? Emily Post would not approve.

This week's idea: "Update your favorite picture and talk about it on your blog."

I have dozens of favorite pictures. Many I'm holding on to for specific carnivals or other blog events.

The picture I chose for this prompt isn't old, and it's technically off-subject. I like it though, and that's what counts.

This is my son relaxing in the Bahamas. I love this picture because it shows that he can stop and enjoy the moment. We've stayed at this hotel several times. He loves to sit on the deck and just watch the turquiose world go by.

Life is more rewarding when you take time to smell the roses. Genealogy is more rewarding when you take time to pause and reflect. Don't take the picture and leave, but stick around and imagine life during your ancestors' time.

I'm hoping my son's ability to relax and watch the world go by will also allow him to reflect on the past and those who were here before him.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Movin' On Up

This blog is now on Cyndi's List. That's kind of a big deal. Cyndi's List is like the massive Wal-Mart corporation of genealogy, and I'm like the inventor going to Bentonville, begging them to sell my product. I must have said something right. Maybe it was my rhyming web site description.


Now back to your regularly scheduled programming.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Jump Start Your Genealogy Blog. 52 Ideas. 52 Weeks. Part 2

There are so many ideas, this piece is divided into 2 parts. Begin with Jump Start Your Genealogy Blog, 52 Ideas. 52 Weeks. Part 1, then continue to ideas 27-52 below:

27. Visit the graves of local celebrities. Talk about their lives. The word “celebrity” is used very loosely here. Just do some research and you’ll find some fascinating people buried within. Tell your readers about these past lives and they’ll be hooked on your blog.

28. Write about the genealogy software you use. Comment on any tips, tricks or complaints you may have about the product.

29. Write about your favorite genealogy web sites. It seems like a new web site pops up every day. Tell us about the ones you like best.

30. Write about your experiences with social networking tools for genealogy purposes. Do you use MySpace, Facebook or Twitter? Are you a wiki kind of person? None of the above? Tell readers about your experiences with these tools and watch your own social network grow.

31. Have a family member be a guest blogger. Let a family member take the reins and provide a different perspective for a post or two. If you can’t find anyone to take the job, interview a relative and spotlight the person yourself.

32. Update older posts. If you find more information related to a previous post, create an update post. Link to the older posts to refresh readers’ memories, then give us the details on new discoveries.

33. Highlight the good work of others. List your favorite posts of the week/month/year. This is an easy way to give some blog love and write an easy post. You can use this idea as little or as much as you want.

34. Share a photo that conjures mixed emotions in you. Explain why this is the case as you detail the who/what/when/where/why of the subject matter.

35. Talk about an orphan picture containing people you do not know. Provide comments on your best guess about date, place, subjects.

36. Talk about military battles and your ancestors’ connections to them.

37. Talk about historical events and your ancestors’ connections to them.

38. Talk about natural disasters and your ancestors’ connections to them.

39. Did your ancestors come by boat? Talk about the documentation that records their departure and arrival.

40. Discuss on your ancestors’ land records.
Where did they live? Who were their neighbors?

41. Talk about any unusual occupations your ancestors had.

42. Campaign for the politicians in your family tree.
If you don’t have one, research the political leaders in your ancestors’ city, county, or state and share the information on your blog.

43. Go directly to jail and talk about your ancestors in the slammer.

44. Dig around the patent office. Talk about your creative ancestors and their inventions.
You can also pick a patent and research the registrant.

45. Extra, read all about it! Do you have an ancestor featured in a newspaper article that wasn’t an obituary? Share the article (or a bit of it if there are copyright concerns) on your blog.

46. Comment on obituaries in your collection. Obits come in all shapes and sizes. Share some of the stand-outs with readers.

47. Seek help for records that don’t make sense. Do you have a census page or family record that contains information that just doesn’t add up? Discuss it in your blog and see if readers can help.

48. Open up the ancestral military and pension files. Talk about the records contained within.

49. Use your blog like a sounding board for research plans. Sometimes it helps to write down what you want to do, so you can plan how to do it.

50. Ask questions on your blog. Get answers from readers. Need to find a record? Need to know the parking situation at a big repository? Throw the questions out there and see what happens.

51. Talk about the email discussion lists to which you belong. Are they great? Too quiet? Informative? Let readers know.

52. Discuss your favorite genealogy publication. Why do you like it? Is it worth the money? How would you improve it?

There you go! 52 blog writing ideas for 52 weeks of the year. Use these prompts for times when you’re stuck about something to write about. Hopefully, genealogy blog writing will evolve from a resolution to a wonderful habit that’s automatic.

[Edit: Due to spammers targeting this particular post, I've had disable comments here. I am very sorry for this. If you'd like to comment on this post or have questions, feel free to email me using the address listed on the side of this blog. Thanks!]

Jump Start Your Genealogy Blog. 52 ideas. 52 weeks. Part 1

As quick review of genealogy blogs shows that many bloggers have made resolutions to write more about genealogy in 2009. Yes, you should blog more about genealogy! Carve out a little time for yourself (that means make an appointment for YOU and put it on your calendar). If you have a little writer’s block, don't worry. Help is on the way

Below are some genealogy blog prompts to jump start your brain. There are 52 in all, one for each week of the year. These are not intended to be done in order. Skip around and repeat all you want, so long as you have fun!

1. Upload your favorite picture and talk about it on your blog. Answer the who/what/when/where/why of the subject matter and explain why it is your favorite.

2. Participate in carnivals. A blog carnival is a showcase of bloggers’ posts on a given topic. Genealogy bloggers LOVE carnivals because there’s something for everyone. To learn about when these showcase-type events are happening, read others’ genealogy blogs. Someone’s always talking about a carnival.

3. Participate in weekly blog themes: Tombstone Tuesday, Wordless Wednesday, etc. Many genealogy bloggers post photos of grave stones on Tombstone Tuesday or a photo worth 1,000 silent words on Wordless Wednesday. Participate in these informal events or invent your own.

4. Take a genealogy day trip and blog about it. Discover the local history and genealogy in your area. Take a trip to a cemetery or other historic location. Describe the day, what you learned, where you went, how it looked, how it sounded. Armchair genealogists will love the mini travelogue.

5. Talk about your genealogy adventures while on vacation. Doesn’t everyone plan a little genealogy visit during vacation? Take your readers along for the ride.

6. Let readers in to your kitchen. Discuss your family’s favorite foods. What was a typical Sunday dinner in your childhood house? What did grandma make that had you coming back for more? Were there any dishes that the dog wouldn’t even eat?

7. Share your holiday traditions. How did you spend the 4th of July? Did the fire truck ever come to your house on Thanksgiving? Share your memories of all holidays, not just the December ones.

8. Talk about highlights and events from your local genealogy society. Most genealogy bloggers are members of several historical societies and love to hear about the events in other organizations. This is also a great way to attract new members.

9. Attend a local genealogy presentation and talk about the experience. How was the speaker? How was the venue? How did the event help your personal research? Talk about the day, but use caution when discussing the subject matter in detail. The information presented belongs to the speaker(s). Posting part or all of the presentation would violate copyright.

10. Attend a national conference and blog about it! Genealogists who can’t make the conference will appreciate the first-person account of the action. Exercise the same copyright caution as mentioned in #9.

11. Have a unique record filing system? Share your secrets! Every genealogist has a stack of paper and an individual way of organizing the pile. Share your way of tackling the record mountain and help others get organized!

12. Use your blog to break down a brick wall. Posting a name may ring a bell with a reader. Maybe you’ll make a connection in 5 minutes. May be it will take 2 years. Either way, asking for help is the first step to knocking down that wall.

13. Have expertise in a specific area of study? Share your knowledge! If you’ve lived in the same town for 60 years, you have something to share. If you’re a librarian in your day job, you have something to share. If you read Civil War history books for fun, you have something to share. If you’re walking on this Earth, you have something to share.

14. Talk about the different types of technology you use in your genealogy research. Whether it’s a new search engine, a special application, or anything else “2.0,” let readers know what you’re working with, and how it’s working for you.

15. List some vital signs. Talk about specific birth, marriage and death certificates. Topics may include misspelled names, fudged dates, other anomalies that stand out in your records.

16. Goals. Not just for resolutions anymore. Write down your genealogy goals. Then you can look back and see what you’ve accomplished.

17. Make a research task list. Posting these items to will help you get your tasks done, and may encourage readers to do the same.

18. Showcase a favorite blog or blogger. This is a great way to share some blog love and introduce readers to new genealogy writers.

19. Describe your favorite records repository. Why is it your favorite? What types of records does it contain? Do you have any advice for first-time visitors?

20. Talk about a least favorite records searching experience. Did you have a run-in with a cranky court clerk? Did you butt heads with an over-protective records manager? Share your pain on your blog and commiserate with others who have put up their genealogical dukes in the name of family history.

21. Lessons learned. Fess up to your research mistakes so others can learn from them.

22. Dish the dirt on your celebrity ancestors. Don’t have a movie star in the tree? Then talk about ancestors famous for other reasons. This is your chance to be an historical gossip columnist!

23. Talk about anything that’s haunted. Readers love spooky genealogy.

24. Document a genealogy event with photos and share in your blog. Show others how much fun your local luncheon can be, or how your genealogy field trip turned into a landslide of books. Don’t forget to get permission before posting photos of others.

25. Visit a cemetery and talk about your ancestors buried there. Bring their stories to life for your readers.

26. Visit a cemetery. Take photos and comment on unusual/unique grave monuments. Most cemeteries have at least a monument or two that make you stop and look, so do just that. Take a picture of the grave marker that made you pause and tell us why it did so.

On to part 2, ideas 27-52...

[Edit: Due to spammers targeting this particular post, I've had disable comments here. I am very sorry for this. If you'd like to comment on this post or have questions, feel free to email me using the address listed on the side of this blog. Thanks!]

Monday, January 5, 2009

The Little Cemetery That Could: Kelley-Rogers Cemetery, Cameron, Louisiana

Earlier this month, I posted a two-part piece about my day trip to Cameron, Louisiana in search of my great-great-great grandfather's final resting place and Civil War memorial.

What I didn't mention at the time was that there was a third part to the day's events. At the same Cameron Parish courthouse that held the Civil War memorial was a monument to the survivors of Hurricane Rita. The marker also mentioned that 38 out of the 40 local cemeteries were destroyed during the 2005 disaster.

That number haunted me as I drove away from Cameron. Just to the left on the road out of town, I spotted a small cemetery at a corner in the highway. It was one of the 2 remaining cemeteries.

I got out of the car again, just to look at this chunk of land--no bigger than my bedroom--and the 30 or so tightly-packed markers and remains that survived at least two major hurricanes. There was no cemetery sign, and the surrounding chain link fence was bent like a paper clip due to Hurricane Rita. In fact, I didn't even know there was a fence until I saw it through the mud. There wasn't much else separating these graves and the highway.

I took pictures of all the head stones. They were just about the only things left in Cameron, and I figured they deserved a spot in Internet history. helped me learn the name of the Kelley-Rogers Cemetery. I in turn uploaded all my pictures and information I had for the location and those buried there. It's the least I could do for The Little Cemetery That Could.