Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year!!

Should auld acquaintance be forgot/And never brought to mind?/Should auld acquaintance be forgot/And auld lang syne?

Harry: “What does this song mean? My whole life, I don’t know what this song means. It means ‘Should old acquaintance be forgot.’ Does that mean that we should forget old acquaintances or does it mean that if we should happen to forget them, we should remember them which is not possible because we already forgot?”

Sally: “Well maybe it just means that maybe we should remember that we forgot them or something. Anyway, it’s about old friends”

Wishing a very happy and safe New Year to all my readers, everyone in the genealogy and blogging communities, and to all your families as well - may 2011 be a good year for us all!!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night...

I hope none of you are reading this today, but I wanted to wish my readers, the blogging and genealogy community, and the rest of the world too a happy, safe, and peaceful Christmas - spend time with your families, retell old stories, share memories, ask questions, write down the answers, and if just for a little while, forget about preserving it all for the future, and enjoy being with loved ones in the present!

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

'Who Do You Think You Are?': NBC Announces The Celebrities Tracing Their Family Trees On Season Two

'Who Do You Think You Are?': NBC Announces The Celebrities Tracing Their Family Trees On Season Two

Shoebox full of memories: sifting through my childhood

My 95-year-old grandmother has been slowly but surely cleaning out of her apartment all the stuff 95 years and nine grandchildren will cause to accumulate. This has involved separating and giving back to each grandchild all the cards and drawing and letters he or she sent her over the years. I don't think it ever occurred to me that she would have saved them for so long, but tonight she handed me a folder full of thank you letters scrawled in my uneven print, birthday cards drawn in bright markers, and pictures of her, my grandfather, my mom, my dad, from when I was so young that they barely even resemble people.

The first reason I mention this is that not only did talking about these things and reminiscing about them provide some nice quality time with my grandmother, but listening to my grandmother talk about how receiving these letters and cards and drawings and then looking back over them through the years gave her such joy made me (well, to be honest, not only cry) but realize that just as the letters and cards and photos that our parents and grandparents and great grandparents pass on to us are important and meaningful, going generationally backward it is as well.

The second reason I mention this is that looking over these letters I wrote when I was 5, 6, 7, 8 years old, all the way through high school, I recount feelings and thoughts, stories about the things going on in my life and the people who were in my life. You can see the time period when I stop writing to Grandma and Grandpa and start to just write to Grandma, a clue to future generations that this is the time when Grandpa died, but that's what I was thinking about - future generations. I look at the letters and photos from older generations but sometimes forget about the things I will pass on to my children and their children. When I'm gone, these letters and drawings will give them insight into my life. And the memories that looking at these things jogged - I tell my dad he needs to start recording all his memories about not only his grandparents and parents but about his own life as well, and I guess these things my grandmother handed me made me realize that I, too, will need to record the things I remember about my grandparents and parents and my own life, before I'm too far removed to remember them. It also made me sad to think about future generations that won't have these mementos - they'll have e-mails and digital photos, but an e-mail doesn't show a 5-year-old's handwriting or a distracted teenager's doodle in the corner. These are the memories that within the next generation will be completely lost, which makes it all the more important to hold on to the ones we have!!

I think the scary figures to the left are multiple Easter bunnies?...not quite sure about the disembodied heads to the right...

Why I didn't thank my grandfather as well is beyond 1987, I was eight.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday - Steve Brodie, first man to supposedly jump off the Brooklyn Bridge and survive

Claimed to be the first man to jump off the Brooklyn Bridge and survive (July 23m 1886) - he became pretty famous for the alleged feat although in later years the act for which he became known was disputed. Whether or not the claim is true, I guess he accomplished what he set out to do since we're still talking about him today :)

Steve Brodie's headstone. Photo by Timothy J. Gorry.

Brodie died in Texas on January 31, 1901 at the age of 39. Tuberculosis isn't quite as romantic a death now, is it? He is buried with his wife Bridget in Calvary Cemetery in Queens, New York. Thanks to my dad for taking the photo. He just told me he "just happened upon it" while he was at the cemetery. That might mean he spends too much time wandering graveyards. That's definitely where I get it from! :)

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Charleston, S.C., here I come...: 2011 NGS Family History Conference

So, I am officially registered for the 2011 National Genealogical Society's Family History Conference. The 5-day long conference is next May in Charleston, South Carolina. I almost decided against going because of the money - the conference itself and extra luncheons and social events are not exactly cheap and then you have to add in cost of travel and hotel, but I'm going with Cousin April, which will cut down on some of the expenses, and frankly, I didn't go on vacation this past year and I don't have any foreseeable vacation plans next year, so why not? Five days of workshops, all day long, isn't exactly a vacation, but it's a new city I've never been to, there's some opportunity to actually see some of the city, and just the chance to get away from home and work, for whatever reason? That's vacation enough for me.

Anyway, April and I met last weekend to discuss the conference, and the more we talked about it, the more excited I got. There are some really interesting workshops being offered covering an array of topics - I was looking at ones specific to German church records and Irish land valuation records, ones that deal with thinking "outside the box" when it comes to looking for and finding records, ones that talk about how to resolve conflicts in records, ones that talk about records I've only recently started to use or haven't used yet but might in the future, like probate records, ones that talk about the future of genealogy, specifically the way social media (and blogs!) are changing the way research and networking are done, and because I'm interested in becoming certified, I was also looking at several workshops that deal with that as well as the proper techniques for working as a professional genealogist.

Bored yet? C'mon, if you read this blog, I don't see how you can be!

April was excited about some of the workshop presenters, such as Elizabeth Shown Mills, who seems to be a big name in genealogy (I'll admit, I'm not quite as up-to-speed on my genealogy celebs - if anyone is a bigger genealogy nerd than me, it's April! :)), and the fact that Buzzy Jackson, who just wrote a book called "Shaking the Family Tree," will be a keynote speaker.

There will be several social events throughout the week, which I think will be great for networking - as you all know I love to repeat, we family historians have to work together! But I also think they just sound fun - a wine and cheese party at the Charleston Museum, a barbeque at the Charleston rifle club. I wonder if they cash bar at the rifle club will be followed by the opportunity to try out the weaponry...

I also decided to sign up for an extra trip to the South Carolina archives in Columbia. As it so happens, I have some family, the Storys, who lived in the Charleston area for a couple of generations back in the mid-1700s (Mary Story, daughter of Morris Story, granddaughter of Rowland Story, and great granddaughter of Zachariah Story, born in Charleston, married Richard Poole; their daughter Annie married J.J. Raynor - Annie and J.J. were my great-great grandparents...) and I think it's possible I might be able to find some records that could help flesh out and verify parts of that branch of my tree.

And on top of all that, it was nice to see April again. I think April and I are actually a good example of modern genealogy - we found each other through the Internet, we pool our research and resources, we're both big proponents of verifying our research. Whenever we go to these genealogy things, we're always the youngest ones there, but I think we represent the next generation of family historians. It's those like us, those like all of you, that have to make sure the *next* generation is well-prepared to carry on the legacy!

Registration for the NGS Family History Conference is still open! For more information, visit!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday - Who's buried in Grant's tomb?

For all those who ever wondered about that question, lol...or presidential buffs. Or Civil War buffs. The General Grant National Memorial is located in Riverside Park overlooking the Hudson River.

(Btw, it's Grant and his wife...) :)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Busy bees slack off on blogging...quick post about NGS conference

I've been so busy with my "real job" that I've been slacking off on the blogging - apologies all around. So while I continue to work my little tail off for the rest of the week (and hopefully get back to our regularly scheduled blogging program very soon!), here's a quick link Cousin April shared with me today - registration for the National Genealogical Society's 2011 Conference is now open. It will be in Charleston, SC May 11-14 and if you look at the brochure, it looks to be pretty interesting. Whether you're a beginner or a "pro," it's worth at least taking a look at - as with anything, learning new techniques and building new skills are things we should never stop doing, and networking with others is always good, too - plus, while your friends and families might tune you out once you start "talking genealogy" like a lunatic when you get excited about it, these people will only share your enthusiasm (and probably won't tune you out - just keep the mad excited hand-waving to a minimum!) :)