Thursday, December 31, 2009

Last Chance for Early Bird Registration

January 1st is the last day for Early-Bird Registration for the Arizona Family History Expo in Mesa, January 22-23, 2010. You can register for the full 2 days, just 1 day or per class.

While you take the time to sign up for Mesa (because you know you want to go), check out some of the free genealogy forms that are available from the Family History Expos staff.

Can't make it to Mesa? Check out the Family History Expos full Calendar of Events.

I am getting excited! In Mesa I'll get to see old friends and make new ones. You can never have too many genealogy friends.

We Have a Winner!

Congratulations to Margaret W., who entered the We Tree drawing and won two tickets for admission to the Arizona Family History Expo in Mesa!

In her entry, Margaret said she was having trouble getting "across the pond" with her ancestors and was hoping to discover new resources at the conference.

Thank you to everyone who entered the drawing. Your reasons for wanting to attend the conference were all great, which is why I had a random drawing. There was no way I could choose one good answer over another.

I do hope to see you in Mesa. Drop me an email if you plan to be there so we can meet.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

COG 87 - New Year's Genealogy Resolutions

It's that time of year again: genealogy resolutions for 2010.

First, let's look back at how I did with my 2009 resolutions.

I had some specific goals related to readership, statistics and this blog. I am happy to say that I have exceeded all of those goals. It just amazes me how many people read this blog on a regular basis. Thank you.

As for my personal family research, I was about 50/50. I did well with the Lenertz line, but didn't do much with the Colberts. I did order some microfiche from the Family History Library, so I'm giving myself a gold star for that. The Thibodeauxs are still difficult. I did make progress during a road trip, however.

As for professional goals...I did write stuff and get it published, so yay me. In 2009, I also said I would have a timeline for starting the CG clock. Well you know what? I've changed my mind. No CG in my immediate future. Frankly, it's lost its luster to me. Perhaps in time I will find it essential to my professional goals, but not now.

So what's up for 2010?

1. Earn more money from genealogy endeavors than I did last year. That shouldn't be hard as the amount of $ between my couch cushions exceeds my genealogy income for 2009.

2. Get two articles published. Also not hard.

3. Increase FeedBurner readership by 33%. Increase daily blog views by 50%. I really think I can do both of these with a little work/marketing.

4. Complete ProGen and my NGS course. Also, I need to find a way to fit 3 extra hours in the day to accomplish this.

5. Continue to work on my perfect 100% sourced database in RootsMagic. It really is a thing of beauty.

6. Be thankful every day for my genealogy blog readers and friends. Also, try to give back in kind all they have given me.

Happy New Year. It's gonna be a good one, genealogically speaking.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Win Tickets to Arizona Family History Expo in Mesa

This post is just a friendly reminder that there's a little contest going on at this here blog. If you're interested in winning 2 tickets to the 2nd Annual Arizona Family History Expo in Mesa in January,click here and get your name in the drawing.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Anatomy of a Military Pension File, Part 6

Previously, I reported on the acquisition of my great-great-great grandfather's military pension file. The documents contained within pant a picture of a man and his family about which I knew very little. I've decided to share this 103-page treasure chest of information with you a few pages at a time.

Page 15: Examination Report

Page 16: Cover of Examination Report titled "Examination by Civil Surgeon"

Page 15 of the file appears to be a report of a medical examination for Max Baerecke. It says that he "was late a Private in Company 15th Reg't U.S. Vols." This means that this document pertains to Max's application for a Mexican War pension.

At the time of the examination (the doctor signed the document 9 March 1888), Max was afflicted as follows:

His eyesight is impaired. (myopia) V. - 15/200. Has staphyl__ p_____ of both eyes (tear in document and condition of the copy make the medical terms difficult to read).

Hearing is impaired by the presence of hardened ears' wax in both ears, especially in the left. The left ear passage, after the removal of the wax, exhibits an inflamed ___ with a chronically inflamed membrane of the tympanum, thickened + not any more transparent.

Suffers from Pharyngeal + Laryngeal ___ of long ___.

The report concludes with the statement that Max Baerecke "is incapacitated for the performance of manual labor by reason of aforesaid disabilities in about the following degree: 3/4 according to the usual rating of Pension __?___ ." I can't read the last word, but the diagnosis is understood.

The document is signed by the doctor (signature looks like it might say "E. Kramer"), and dated 9 March 1888. There is also an official notary public signature.

What did I learn from this document? Well, it describes the aged condition of my third-great grandfather. He apparently has a problem with his eyes, which is mentioned several times throughout the pension file. The ear wax, and subsequent remedy by the pension doctor, suggests that Max did not have regular access to medical attention. I suspect the family was quite poor.

Page 16 of the pension file is the cover page of this document. It confirms that the purpose of the examination is for a Mexican War pension.

Coming up, more details on the medical history of Max Baerecke. Stay tuned...

On to part 7.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Advent Calendar: December 24

(This is post 24 in the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories hosted by

Prompt: December 24 - Christmas Eve
How did you, your family or ancestors spend Christmas Eve?
For close to 30 years now, Christmas Eve has always been at my aunt & uncle's house. It's very casual, with no set dinner table. People mingle as they please. The kids are always bouncing off the walls because it's the night before Christmas. At some point, the dog will steal some food off a plate or the kitchen counter. The more things change, the more they stay the same.
I married into a family that celebrates Christmas Eve in a more official manner. They open presents on the 24th and sit down for a meal. For the last 13 years, this has been how I have spent 3/4 of December 24th.
After said meal, my little family of three heads out to visit family friends. Then we make the hour drive to go to my aunt's house for a brief visit with folks & family we only get to see once a year.
My Christmas Eve has a lot of driving and visiting. We're so busy trying to make sure we see everyone that sometimes the message gets lost.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Advent Calendar: December 23

(This is post 23 in the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories hosted by

Prompt: December - Christmas Sweetheart Memories
Do you have a special memory of a first Christmas present from a sweetheart? How did you spend your first Christmas together? Any Christmas engagements or weddings among your ancestors?

My parents got engaged in December 24, 1965.

I got engaged on December 24, 1995.

That's 30 years later for the math challenged.

My now husband gave me a robe and put the ring in the pocket. I was too stupid to check the pocket. We're perfect for each other.

Wordless Wednesday: View from the Airport Edition

Ontario, California
December, 2008

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Friendly Reminder

This post is just a friendly reminder that there's a little contest going on at this here blog. If you're interested in winning 2 tickets to the 2nd Annual Arizona Family History Expo in Mesa in January, click here and get your name in the drawing.

Advent Calendar: December 22

(This is post 22 in the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories hosted by

Prompt: December 22 - Christmas and Deceased Relatives.
Did your family visit the cemetery at Christmas? How did your family honor deceased family members at Christmas?

We did not visit the cemetery at Christmas, simply for the reason that there was no one to visit. My immediate family is quite small. I didn't lose a relative until I was 19. That person was cremated. Come to think of it, since then they've all chosen cremation. The nearest ancestors in a cemetery are great-grandparents I never knew.

Because of this situation, we really don't honor anyone, either. It's more of a year-round memory thing, since there are no cemetery plots to maintain.

I can't be the only one in this situation, can I?

Monday, December 21, 2009

Anatomy of a Military Pension File, Part 5

Previously, I reported on the acquisition of my great-great-great grandfather's military pension file. The documents containted within paint a picture of a man and his family about which I knew very little. I've decided to share this 103-page treasure chest of information with you a few pages at a time.

Page 14: Certification of Marriage

The top left corner of this document says it's from the State of Wisconsin, Milwaukee County, which is where Max Baerecke lived most of his American life.

The text of the document says:

I, Otto Seidel, Jr., Register if Deeds in and for said County, hereby certify that the foregoing is a true and correct transcript from the records in my office as recorded in volume B of Marriages page 480; that I have carefully compared the same with said Records, and that it is the whole thereof.

In Testimony Whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and affixed my official seal this 29th day of March A.D. 1905.

[Signature of Otto Seidel, Jr.]
Register of Deeds, Milwaukee County, Wis.
What does this document tell me?
Though names are not given, I assume the marriage in question is that of my third-great grandparents. It appears they were married in Milwaukee County, Wisconsin. That's half the battle right there. The clues about the location of the record (Book B, page 480) may be all I need to find the record and the marriage date. However, much time has passed, and it's possible the record system has changed. Still, it's a good start.
Later on in the pension file, the marriage date is given, so with that information and what is listed in this document, I'm hopeful that a marriage record for Max and Amalie can be found. In time, I will rent the pertinent microfilms from my local Family History Center and see what they offer. Perhaps some unknown, yet-to-be-discovered family members are witnesses to the event.

Advent Calendar: December 21

(This is post 21 in the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories hosted by

Prompt: December 21 - Christmas Music
What songs did your family listen to during Christmas? Did you ever go caroling? Did you have a favorite song?

Back in the day, my dad had a reel-to-reel player that had Christmas songs. I don't remember the exact songs. My favorite one was probably the entire score for the Charlie Brown Christmas Special.

My parents have a jukebox of 45s at their house now. A large portion of the box is Christmas music. My son loves to pick the songs and we have some happy memories from that.

No caroling in this family. We're vocally challenged, best when seen and not heard.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Advent Calendar: December 20

(This is post 20 in the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories hosted by

Prompt: December 20 - Religious Services
Did your family attend religious services during the Christmas season? What were the customs and traditions involved?

Remember when I said there are some questions for which I have no answer? This is one of those. We did not attend church, so there weren't any customs or traditions involved. Sorry for the lack of interesting content. My performance on this post = dud.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Advent Calendar: December 19

(This is post 19 in the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories hosted by

Prompt: December 19 - Christmas Shopping
How did your family handle Christmas shopping? Did anyone finish early or did anyone start on Christmas Eve?

My mom did the shopping. At one point, she did most of the shopping in one day. Now it's a combo of mall shopping and catalogs.

Since my family once owned a Western Home & Auto, I'm sure some of our toys came from there.

Now given the distance some have to travel, online purchases and gift cards are key.

That's all I have to say on the subject. This won't go down as one of the best posts ever.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Somebody is Following Me

I have to thank Caliphoenix and her blog Wading in the Gene Pool. She started playing along with the Follow Friday pay-it-forward spirit of blog love today and she chose We Tree as her first recommendation.

It was a very sweet gesture and a nice surprise. Thank you!

As for my own Follow Fridays, they will begin again in January. I didn't want them getting lost in the holiday shuffle (my readership goes down every December, does yours?). Look for them (and my hit count) to return in a couple weeks.

Advent Calendar: December 18

(This is post 18 in the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories hosted by

Prompt: December 18 - Christmas Stockings
Did you have one? Where did you hang it? What did you get in it? Do you have any Christmas stockings used by your ancestors?

My sister and I did have stockings. My mom made them. Mine is green and my sister's is red. They have our names on them. I am speaking about them in the present tense because my mom still hangs them and we still open gifts in them. The presents are always small and simple: cute socks, mints, puzzle books, etc.

My son has a stocking crocheted by my grandmother. It has his name on it.

These are the closest examples I have to heirloom-type Christmas decorations.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Win Tickets to the Arizona Family History Expo

What are you doing on January 22 & 23? Do you want to have some genealogy fun for FREE?

I'm giving away two tickets for FREE registration at the 2nd Annual Arizona Family History Expo in Mesa!

What's the catch? There is none. Simply send an email with your name to amybean2 @ gmail . com (minus the spaces) and tell me what you hope to see/discover/learn/experience at the Arizona Family History Expo. Just a sentence or two is necessary. There are no wrong answers. [Edit: There really are no wrong answers. It's a random drawing.]

You may enter once a day until midnight Central Time in December 30, 2009*. Entries are assigned a number based on the order in which they were received. A random number drawing will occur and the winner of the two FREE tickets will announced on December 31, 2009. Please use a valid email address that you check regularly.

The 2nd Annual Arizona Family History Expo will be a blast. Check out the schedule and the stellar list of presenters.

Thanks for playing and I hope to see you in Mesa!

* The winner will be announced on December 31 because that's the last day of early bird registration. If you entered the drawing and didn't win, I still wanted everyone to have a chance to purchase tickets at the early-bird price.

Advent Calendar: December 17

(This is post 17 in the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories hosted by

Prompt: December 17 - Grab Bag
Author's choice. Please post from a topic that helps you remember Christmases past!

Back in the 1970's/early 80's my grandparents handled Christmas dinner. They would go visit their grandkids in the morning, then head home to get the dinner ready. One year, they returned home to find the fire department in the driveway. It seems my grandmother left a pot on the stove.

The only lingering damage was the stink left from the burning pot. I remember seeing the pot in the driveway when we arrived for dinner.

The incident became a family joke. My grandfather must have thought it was funny, because when he wrote a timeline of his life, he included the burning pot event in 1983.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Advent Calendar: December 16

(This is post 16 in the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories hosted by

Prompt: December 16 - Christmas at School
What did you or your ancestors do to celebrate Christmas at school? We you ever in a Christmas pageant?

I have no idea what my ancestors did at school. My own school (of the basic suburban public variety) had Christmas programs each year. We were divided by class and grade. We stood on the steps of the stage in the multi-purpose room/cafeteria. We sang standard songs.

There wasn't much special about these programs, which is why they make for weak blog fodder.

My son's elementary school has a program each year for third graders. It's a musical play. Each person has a line and there is lots of singing. The year he did it, there was a western theme with some villains and a plot about saving the holidays. It was fun. This year he is in band and there was a holiday program for the three grades.

Wordless Wednesday: Niagara Edition

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Advent Calendar: December 15

(This is post 15 in the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories hosted by

Prompt: December 15 - The Holiday Happenings!
Often times December to mid-January birthdays get overshadowed by the Christmas/Hanukkah/New Year holidays. So we're going to shine a spotlight on those family members and ancestors this time around. Select one or more December to mid-January birthdays and/or anniversaries in your family tree. Write a short tribute to or memory of those birthday guys or gals and write a toast to the anniversary couples.

My mom has a birthday after Christmas. Usually it's celebrated separately and it's pretty low key.

I have a great-grandfather who was born on Christmas Day. Sam Williamson was born on December 25, 1878 in Russellville, Pope County, Arkansas. He also died on the date of my wedding anniversary, but that's a fact for another time.

My great-great grandfather with the checkered past was also born on Christmas Day. Noel Thibodeaux was born in St. Landry Parish, Louisiana in 1857. He didn't have too may Christmases, though, because his wandering eye got him shot.

I also had a great-grandmother who died on Christmas Eve. She had surgery for an intestinal blockage and died from complications on December 24, 1935. I did not know this fact until my grandfather (her son) had already passed. Christmas must have been difficult for him, but he never said anything.

Wow, way to bring down the Christmas vibe, Amy.

Happy birthday to those who came to be in the season. That means you too, Thomas (aka Mr.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Finding Answers Brick by Brick

Does your tree have "issues?" You know, those bits of information that seem correct, but you just can't shake that funny feeling that something is wrong? I have a few of those, too.

Below is the 1850 census (family 454 in Pope County, Arkansas, page 66 on It shows my great-great-great grandfather, John Laurens Williamson, his second wife, his four kids with his first wife, and a fifth child with his second wife. At least that's the assumption that everyone makes. I have documentation on everyone except Horatio. This is the only record I've found of his existence.

Now I've done a lot of work on the Williamsons of Pope County. I know almost all of them. Did Horatio die young? Did he skip town before the 1860 census? What bugged me about this record was that no relationship information is given for these people. Are we sure these eldest four children are full siblings?

I finally decided to try to locate a will for John Laurens Williamson and see if any of these children are named as heirs or in some other capacity. I ordered microfilm from the Family History Library and had it delivered to my local Family History Center. I searched the microfilm, but found no will for my subject. I found references to the will, small notations and notes about guardians, but no will.

The index was useless, so I just started going though the filmed books page by handwritten page. I found nothing after the date of John's death.

Since I had the film anyway, I just started searching through it from the beginning, including the time before John L. Williamson's death. There were so many Williamsons in that county...maybe I'd find something else of interest.

Then suddenly, the name Williamson popped out at me from page 92 of book E of microfilm 1034018:

It said in part "On this day comes John L Williamson and files his petition in which he states that he is the father of John S, Horatio B, Sally J, and James L Williamson..."

Apparently another Williamson died in Davidson County, Tennessee. These four children were heirs and John was requesting guardianship of their interests. I found the information I was looking for, but it wasn't in John L. Williamson's will.

So now I know these four are John's children. I have two records showing Horatio's existence and now I can add him and his siblings to the tree. I still don't know what happened to Horatio, but he has a timeline now.

Sometimes the answers aren't were you expect to find them. It's worth it to go page by page. This may have been tiny brick in a huge wall of questions, but it is a brick and I have more answers than I did yesterday.

Advent Calendar: December 14

(This is post 14 in the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories hosted by

Prompt: December 14 - Fruitcake, Friend or Foe?
Did you like fruitcake? Did your family receive fruitcakes? Have you ever re-gifted fruitcake? Have you ever devised creative uses for fruitcake?

I've never had fruitcake. Ever. And it's going to stay that way.

My mother was the fruitcake maker in the family. Apparently, according to fruitcake lovers, it's a pretty good recipe.

When I was younger, we had to go to a special store (Arco?) once a year and buy the supplies. This included little colored fruity candy squares and different nuts including walnuts and pecans.

There wasn't much "cake" in a fruitcake. All the fruity bits and nuts were coated in egg, maybe flour and rum. I do remember those things stinking of rum. No wonder everybody liked them. When you cut a slice of my mom's fruitcake, it was pretty much just nuts and fruit carefully stuck together with rum-based edible glue.

These fruitcakes were made in assembly line fashion. Once done, cooled and out of the pan, they were wrapped in foil. I always thought they looked like silver bricks and would make good doorstops.

But you know what? We never had any leftovers, so I guess that recipe was good. I'll never know though, because I don't *do* fruitcake--even if it's coated in rum.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Advent Calendar: December 13

(This is post 13 in the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories hosted by

Prompt: December 13 - Holiday Travel
Did you or your ancestors travel anywhere for Christmas? How did you travel and who traveled with you? Do you remember any special trips?

I come from a small family. Even when you add "extended" it's still pretty tiny. Most everyone lived in the same city, so our trips were pretty short.

For almost 30 years, my aunt and uncle have had Christmas Eve. It usually involves ham and cheesy potatoes. I still get an invitation.

Christmas morning was always at our house. My parents did the Christmas breakfast and my grandparents would come over. They always had to make the rounds and visit all the grandkids. After a while they'd leave to prepare for dinner.

Christmas dinner was at my grandparents house. How we all fit in there I'll never know, but we did. Grandma made a good turkey.

Now my parents have taken over Christmas dinner. They are the grandparents and there's new grandchildren running around. We still have turkey. It's still good. I still sit at the kids' table.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Advent Calendar: December 12

(This is post 12 in the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories hosted by

Prompt: December 12 - Charitable / Volunteer Work
Did your family ever volunteer with a charity such as a soup kitchen, homeless or battered women's shelter during the holidays? Or perhaps were your ancestors involved with church groups that assisted others during the holiday?

My short answer is no to the above, but...

My dad was involved in the Lions Club for many years. Each Christmas, they had a breakfast with Santa. When was young, I got to attend with the other kids. It was swell. We had breakfast, we made crafts, Santa came. One year, the back of me was even in the paper. Story of my life.

When I got older, I got to be a helper at those breakfasts. That was fun, too, because I felt grown up.

Come to think of it, my parents still have some of my Lions Club crafts still hanging on the tree.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Advent Calendar: December 11

(This is post 11 in the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories hosted by

Prompt: December 11 - Other traditions
Did your family or friends also celebrate other traditions during the holidays such as Hanukkah or Kwanzaa? Did your immigrant ancestors have holiday traditions from their native country which they retained or perhaps abandoned?

The first time I read these questions, my initial answer was, "I don't know." So...I called my grandparents and asked them.

My grandfather's parents were born to French speakers in Cajun Louisiana. He says they had turkey and mince meat pie. He can't remember anything else, but says he always loved desserts. He was one of many in a large Catholic family but says he always got a present.

My grandmother's parents were German immigrants. My grandmother's mother passed away very young, so my grandmother only knows Christmas memories with her father and her siblings. She says they always had a tree, which is interesting given the extreme poverty in which they lived in 1930's Los Angeles. Her brother would get a tree for fifty cents (or sometimes free) on Christmas Eve, after the price was reduced for quick sale. When she woke on Christmas morning the tree would always be decorated. I suspect much of my grandmother's childhood Christmas memories were created by her older brother who saw to it the holiday was celebrated, while their father worked to keep food on the table. The Christmas meal was a roasted chicken. My grandmother said that when her mother was alive, she liked to bake and would make streudel.

My grandmother told me a funny story. One Christmas Eve, she got out of bed and went into the living room. The presents were under the tree and there was a (used) bicycle for her! The bike had the type of kickstand that would elevate the back wheel so you could pedal in place. My grandma got on the bike and pedaled and pedaled and pedaled, all while her family was asleep--her brother was sleeping on the couch! The next morning, she got up and pretended to be surprised about the bicycle.

It was fun answering this question for the Advent Calendar series, because it resulted in a great phone conversation with my grandparents.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Anatomy of a Military Pension File, Part 4

Previously, I reported on the acquisition of my great-great-great grandfather's military pension file. The documents contained within paint a picture of a man and his family about which I knew very little. I've decided to share this 103-page treasure chest of information with you a few pages at a time.

Page 13: Mexican War Pension Survivor's Brief

Max Baerecke was a veteran of two wars. This document is a survivor's brief from his time in the Mexican War. It provides his name, current address, rank, company and regiment.

The recognized attorney is listed, along with law office location and fee ($25).

Max's dates of service are as follows: enlisted on August 15, 1847 and was discharged on April 30, 1848. There is also a notation of Max's service in the Civil War (O(ld) W(ar)) in Wisconsin from 1862-1865.

The length of time Max served in the Mexican war was 8 months and 15 days, per this document.

Max Baerecke was born August 24, 1827 and is 60 years old at the time of this document's creation on February 5, 1887.

There is a printed section that says, "Rate: EIGHT DOLLARS per month, commencing January 29, 1887...." but the lines below it are blank.

Signatures for the Examiner, Pension Searcher and Bounty Land Searcher are provided.

At the bottom of the paper, there is the handwritten notation "disabled," an approval date of 11 April 1888 and a signature of a reviewer. To the right is another approval date of 12 April 1888 and a signature of a re-reviewer.

What does this document tell me?

1. I already knew the residence of Max Baerecke, but this paper reiterates these facts. The exact dates of service in the Mexican War are new to me and will be added to his timeline in my genealogy software program.

2. This document has Max's birthday! And since it is a survivor's brief, it's pretty safe to say Max knows his own birth date! Yay! A birth fact!

3. I know that Max was deemed disabled and approved for a Mexican War pension. I'm guessing the amount was eight dollars a month, given the printed form, but can't tell for sure since the portion below was left blank.

What does the next page hold? More questions and answers of course. Stay tuned....

Advent Calendar: December 10

(This is post 10 in the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories hosted by

Prompt: December 10 - Christmas Gifts
What were your favorite gifts both to receive and to give? Are there specific gift-giving traditions among your family or ancestors?

The only real tradition within my immediate family I can think of is the giving of Christmas pajamas on Christmas Eve. Every year on the 24th, my sister and I would put on our new holiday-themed jammies. Then, my mom would read our awesome pop-up version of The Night Before Christmas.

On Christmas Day, we'd go to our grandparents house. For a few years, we had a pinata. Why, I do not know because this is not of our heritage. Anyway, the grandkids (of which I was one) enjoyed the privilege of blindly swinging a big stick in the vicinity of our relatives. At some point, the candy would fall and so would an envelope. What was it? It was plane tickets for my grandmother to go see her only living brother. And once she realized that, she'd cry. But she's never really cry. She's just tear up and be speechless. It was cute.

One of the best gifts I ever received? My answer is an odd one, but it requires a back story. I did not like my husband when I first met him. I thought he was annoying, but he was in my orbit because we had the same friends. At one point, we split a 5-game package of hockey tickets. With each game he got less annoying, so you could say that the Los Angeles Kings brought us together.

On the way to those games, we'd always pass a store with a sign that said "Honey Bean Pies." I joked that it sounded like a term of endearment. At some point, the name and the joke was shortened to Bean and I haven't been Amy in this house since.

The years rolled on and we moved from an NHL town, to a no hockey town to an AHL town. In Houston, we enjoy the Aeros games where you get twice the fights at half the price. The fans wear great jerseys, too. Once I commented on how cool the Milwaukee Admirals jersey was. It was odd. It was funky. It was me.

So that Christmas, I received that very jersey from my husband:

Customized with my name and the year we were married:

I got an engagement ring one Christmas Eve. I even got a car once. But this jersey is one of my favorite gifts ever. I don't expect anyone to understand why, but the person who gave it to me will.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Advent Calendar: December 9

(This is post 9 in the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories hosted by

Prompt: December 9 - Grab Bag
Author's Choice. Please post from a topic that helps you remember Christmas past!

Technically, my post isn't about the past, because my family is still using this idea started by my mom. A few years back, my mom gathered all the Christmas family photos through the years, as well as all the photo holiday cards that have been sent to their house. The whole stack of pictures now rests in a basket that comes out every Christmas. She sets the basket in a high-traffic area, on the counter between the kitchen and the family room. Guests love to look at those pictures. Heck, I've seen them 1,000 times and I still look at them, too.

So my "grab bag" post is to share my mom's picture basket idea with readers. Does your family share past holiday pictures in a creative way? Do tell!

Wordless Wednesday: Flagstaff Train Station Edition

Flagstaff, Arizona
June 2009

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

A Family History Expos Honor

Guess where I'm going? I didn't even have time to tell you about my exciting arrangements to attend the Arizona Family History Expo before the organizers went and made me a Blogger of Honor for the event!

I'm honored to be part of such a prolific group. I know some of the other bloggers already and can't wait to meet the rest.

If you're going to be in Mesa on January 22-23, 2010, do let me know so we can meet in person. To everyone else, I promise to keep you informed about the happenings and experiences at this Family History Expo.

Can't attend Mesa? Family History Expos are in several different states throughout the year. Check 'em out.

Advent Calendar: December 8

(This is post 8 in the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories hosted by

Prompt: December 8 - Christmas Cookies
Did your family or ancestors make Christmas cookies? How did you help? Did you have a favorite cookie?

My mom made sugar cookies every Christmas in our very 1970's orange kitchen. At my parents' house there is probably photographic evidence of this process. My mom made the dough, but she let us use the cookie cutters. I remember there was a profile Santa with a bag, a star, a bell, a snowman and a gingerbread-shaped cutter.

When the cookies cooled we got to frost them. My mom would make a big batch of white frosting, then divide it into bowls where she would use food coloring to provide many shades. We also had sprinkles, red & green crystals and those metallic edible silver balls.

All the sugar cookies were my favorites. Though I liked to decorate with those silver balls, I never ate the cookies that had them. What the heck were those things anyway?

Monday, December 7, 2009

Advent Calendar: December 7

(This is post 7 in the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories hosted by

Prompt: December 7 - Holiday Parties
Did your family throw a holiday party each year? Do you remember attending any holiday parties?

My family didn't throw a holiday party for friends, but they did host one for work. Usually it was at a restaurant.

When I was first married, my husband's employer put on extravagant parties. There was a ton of dysfunction in that place, so I loved taking advantage of the free eats/open bar and watch the drama from the sidelines. But those days are over and the current employer doesn't do holiday events.

I miss those parties.

Book Review of The Genealogist's Address Book

The Genealogist’s Address Book provides almost 800 pages of state and local genealogy resources. Elizabeth Petty Bentley has compiled an amazing amount of information and genealogy contacts in this recently updated 6th edition.

The book is divided into two parts. The first section focuses on the United States. There are sections devoted to contact information for National Archives, federal government departments and agencies, U.S. libraries, societies (national) and publications. There are also sections for each state. These groupings have statewide resources listed first, then localized resources listed by county.

The second part of The Genealogist’s Address Book is titled “Special Resources” and concentrates on contact information for archives and libraries with specific ethnic categories, religious categories, lineage societies, genealogy products and smaller miscellaneous subjects.

Bentley states that the information compiled within the book is “based largely upon data received in response to direct-mail and email questionnaires, supplemented by information from printed and Internet sources.” This begs the question: what happens if a repository doesn’t answer an inquiry? Is the information from the 5th edition used instead? It would seem to be the case, at least in one instance where a national library’s contact/staff information is considerably outdated.

Other issues found include sources misplaced in the wrong county (at least in one instance: my county) and the author’s web site being inaccessible thanks to GeoCities demise. These observances aren’t necessarily criticisms as much as an illustration of how quickly this type of information can change, rendering a book obsolete.

Bottom line: The Genealogist’s Address Book isn’t a must-have item, but you shouldn’t reject one delivered to your door. It is worth a look. Try to track down a copy through your public/academic library system (or inter-library loan) and browse it occasionally for genealogy contacts and new research repository leads.

The Genealogist’s Address Book – 6th Edition

Elizabeth Petty Bentley

ISBN 978-0-8063-1796-0

Genealogical Publishing Company

[Edit 12 Jan 2010: Comments on this post are currently suspended due to spam (in Spanish, no less). If you have any comments, you can email me at the address I listed in the sidebar of this blog. Thanks. --Amy]

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Advent Calendar: December 6

(This is post 6 in the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories hosted by

Prompt: December 6 - Santa Claus
Did you ever send a letter to Santa? Did you ever visit Santa and "make a list?" Do you still believe in Santa Claus?

I don't think I ever sent a letter to the North Pole. I'm pretty sure I made a list each year and it's possible I even shared it with Santa. However, in my brilliant childhood wisdom, I knew the mall Santas were fakes. How could REAL Santa have time to make all those toys if he was always at the mall? Besides, my city had 2 malls and each Santa wore a different color of gloves. Mall Santas didn't fool me.

Of course I still believe in Santa, but I'm the only one in the family who does.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Surname Saturday: Turk / Türk

The surname for this Saturday is Turk / Türk.

Albert Turk (1880-1964) was my great-grandfather. I don't know much about him so bear with me. The few documents I have say he was born in Eickel, Herne, Germany. He came to the United States in 1914. He met and married his wife in Pennsylvania. I don't know the exact date of their marriage, but it was likely in Allentown or Bethlehem. They had a daughter in Pennsylvania, then moved to Los Angeles and had 3 more children.

Albert was widowed in 1931. He worked for an electric company and was a carpenter. He is buried with his wife in East Los Angeles.

I know little about Albert Turk's family in Germany and have not crossed the pond to investigate. My grandmother has a German postcard addressed to (brother) Albert from Heinrich. I also have a document that says Albert's father is Albert and his mother is Elisabeth Brauckman.

The few documents I have that were created in the United States say "Turk" but the documents handwritten by Albert say "Türk."

Turk is a somewhat common name, so I'm not interested in casting a wide net. If you have connections to the places I've mentioned above (especially Eickel) I'd love to hear from you.

Advent Calendar: December 5

(This is post 5 in the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories hosted by

Prompt: December 5 - Outdoor Decorations
Did people in your neighborhood decorate with lights? Did some people really go "all out" when decorating? Any stories involving your ancestors and decorations?

We lived on a hill and had a yard that--to me as a kid--looked like a jungle. That made traditional decorations impossible. We did have strings of those old big, painted glass Christmas light bulbs running along the front and back of our
roof line. Do you remember those lights? You could scrape the paint off them and they were hot to the touch.

My dad set up the back Christmas lights so they turned on and off with a light switch. At some point, they lights just stayed up all year and acted as patio lights.

The neighbor at the top of the hill used to line his whole house in white Christmas lights. He even had a big tree made of a pole and strings of lights. Because of the location on the top of the hill, you could see that all-white house from far away. I always liked that.

Friday, December 4, 2009

New and Improved

(Normal) I've been trying to publish all my posts in larger print, but sometimes I forget.

(Large) I just went back and enlarged the print on the last few posts.

(Normal) What do you think?

(Large) Do you like the larger print? Is it easier to read?

(Normal) The only problem with larger print is that it extends the length of the posts significantly.

(Large) Is everyone ok with that? You just might have to do a little more scrolling with your mouse to read the longer posts.

(Normal) Comment below and let me know.

Follow Friday Starring Bayside Blog

This week's Follow Friday recommendation is Bayside Blog, written by Melissa Corley of Bayside Research, LLC.

Bayside Blog is a combination of Missy's research advice, her archival products & reviews, and personal genealogy information. She's funny and smart. I love the header on her blog. Sometimes I just stare at the beach scene.

One of my favorite posts from the Bayside Blog is "Getting Started with Genealogical Research at the Library of Congress." I've saved it on my Google Reader for reference.

I first met Missy at the Association of Independent Information Professionals 2008 conference. We both have library backgrounds, but wanted to use our degrees for more specialized research. I have several friends in AIIP, but only a few like Missy have an interest in historical topics. We always have fun together (see now I'm thinking of the "broken bus seat" incident and laughing all over again). I'm really glad I know Missy and I hope you enjoy her blog as much as I do.

Advent Calendar: December 4

(This is post 4 in the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories hosted by

Prompt: December 4 - Christmas Cards
Did your family send cards? Did your family display the ones they received? Do you still send Christmas cards? Do you have any cards from your ancestors?

Remember how I told you there would be days in this Advent Calendar series where I wouldn't have very good answers for the questions? This is one of those days.

My parents were not card senders. As far as I can remember, neither were my grandparents.

We did receive cards. They were propped on the book shelves in the living room. Later on, my mom kept cards in a basket. In fact, she still does this.

Normally I send cards, but I think I'll take this year off. When the holiday gets to be a chore, it's time to cut back. The cards are part of that effort. Sorry. :/

Thursday, December 3, 2009

New Acquisition: The Sigel Regiment

My copy of The Sigel Regiment: A History of the 26th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry, 1862-1865, by James S. Pula arrived in the mail this week.

Normally this is not my type of reading material, but my great-great-great grandfather served in that group, so that has me suddenly interested in military history. Did you know they fought at Gettysburg?

My ancestor's name is on page 416: Maximilian Baerecke of Company I, Wenze Guard.

At some point, I'll find time to read it. Military history is complex for my distracted mind, so I have to take it slow.

I've added this book to my LibraryThing account. Feel free to check it out and see what I own.

Advent Calendar: December 3

(This is post 3 in the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories hosted by

Prompt: Day 3 - Christmas Tree Ornaments
Did your family have heirloom or cherished ornaments? Did you ever string popcorn and cranberries? Did your family or ancestors make Christmas ornaments?

(This post desperately needs a picture, but the subject in question is packed away in a box in my parents' house and I'm not going to bug them to get it out.)

You know those perfect holiday trees with fancy matching ornaments? We didn't have one of those. Our family tree was decorated with a mish mash of ornaments--some made, some bought, each attached with a hook and a memory.

One of *the* best ornaments on our tree was my first pre-school Christmas art creation, circa 1976. It was a piece of white yarn, maybe 24 inches in length, dipped in starchy glue, then covered with glitter and fashioned into abstract art (or maybe just a flat blob). This was the first evidence of my stellar creative expression.

That ornament still exists today and my parents still hang it on the tree. Most of the glitter has fallen off of the yarn, and the tape that says AMY ripped off. Luckily, my mom re-attached it with more tape.

My parents laugh every year that ornament comes out of the box and goes onto the tree. Of course I know their laughing with me and not at me because that's their job.

Now I'm all grown up with my own house, and we've started
our own traditions.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Advent Calendar: December 2

(This is post 2 in the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories hosted by

Prompt: December 2
Did your family or ancestors serve traditional dishes for the holidays? Was there one dish that was unusual?

We were (and still are) a turkey-at-Christmas family. The accompanying dishes are pretty much standard fare: mashed potatoes, green beans...etc.

One dish that's somewhat unique to my family is creamed onions. My grandma always made creamed pearl onions and now her kids do, too. I always think of her when I have them every Christmas.

I also have to mention my aunt's Christmas tree frosted sugar cookies. I'm not just saying that because I know she'll read this. They're really good, and IF she happened to make them again this year, that would be great. (hint hint)

Wordless Wednesday: Bad Toupee Edition

"Hair Club for Ducks"
Montrose, Colorado
June 2009

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Anatomy of a Military Pension File, Part 3

Previously, I reported on the acquisition of my great-great-great grandfather's military pension file. The documents contained within paint a picture of a man and his family about which I knew very little. I've decided to share this 103-page treasure chest of information with you a few pages at a time.

Page 7 - Articles of Agreement

This page is the main portion of a contract for legal representation in the process of applying for a military pension. The attorneys were "Jas. H. Vermilya & Co." of Washington D.C. In the small print, it lists a fee of twenty-five dollars, which "shall not be demanded by, or payable to my said Attorneys...except in case of the granting of my pension by the Commissioner of Pensions."

The first half of the document has signatures of the notary who acted as a witness, Chas. Griedrich, another witness and Max Baerecke, pension applicant. His location is Milwaukee, Milwaukee County, Wisconsin. The paper says he was a private in the 15th Regiment of the U.S. Infnatry Vols., in the O. War.

Max's signed portion of the document is dated 1 October 1885. He must have signed it and returned it because the attorney's signed portion is dated 7 October 1885.

What did I learn from this page?

1. I learned the address of Max Baerecke in 1885. He lived on 5th Street in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. A Google street view of the address shows an industrial area in the same location today.

2. I learned his role in the "O. War." In other documents, it appears that stands for "Old War" and implies Civil War. However, Max was in the 15th Regiment of the U.S. Infantry in the Mexican War. He had a different role in the Civil War. Perhaps they're calling the Mexican War the "O. War." Otherwise, this is an error.

3. I learned that Chas. Griedrich was a witness for Max. Was he a friend? A relative? Just some dude in the pension office? More investigation is needed.

Page 8 - Fee Agreement Cover Page
This is the front page of the pension application contract. It lists Max's name and a declaration of filing for an invalid pension. There is also a "notice to claimant" regarding fees (not to exceed $25) and the statute laid out by the U.S. Government.

Page 9 - Handwritten copy of page 7
This is a handwritten duplicate of page 7. No Xerox machines back then.

Page 10 - Copy of page 8

Page 11 - Articles of Agreement
This page is the same form as page 7, but it is dated later (25 Feb 1887) and has slightly different information. Max is listed as a member of the 15th Regiment of the U.S. Infantry in the "Mex War." This is correct. Perhaps page 7 was incorrect and they had to resubmit this form later.

The witnesses on this document are R. Pfeil and F. J. Gressing. More names for me to investigate.

Page 12 - Fee Agreement Cover Page
Information is similar to that on page 8.

Coming up... a "Survivor's Brief" with good information. Stay tuned...