This and That, from Juliana

Apart from the posting of the July 24 newsletter over the weekend, this will be my last blog post for the next week. I’m taking a little time off to catch up on things at home and spend some time with my daughter before the summer escapes. I hope you’re all enjoying the summer (or winter down under) and having some luck with your family history searches!

Last night I had a few minutes to browse through some of the news feeds I get and found a few items you might be interested in. Continue reading

$1,000 Reward for Annie Moore of Ellis Island Fame

Megan Smolenyak is offering a $1,000 reward to the genealogist who can prove what happened to the Annie Moore who was the first immigrant processed at Ellis Island. Here’s an excerpt from her blog:

I’m offering $1,000 for the first proof of what became of Ellis Island’s true Annie Moore. This is not a joke. Those of     you who are familiar with my Honoring Our Ancestors Grants program know that I put my money where my mouth is.

I want to know the truth, and I’m hoping some great genealogists out there can unearth it. So try to solve the mystery yourself or join up with a research buddy and tackle it. For that matter, why not make it a project for your local genealogical society? Or just spread the word. Together, we can find out what happened to Ellis Island’s Annie Moore.

You can learn more about the contest on her blog at:


Weekly Planner: Tell the Story Behind the Photograph

Scrapbookers know the value of “journaling” the story behind a photograph. Choose a photograph from your collection and write down everything you know about it. Include the five W’s in questions like Who is in the photograph? When was it taken? Where was it taken? What was happening? What feelings does it evoke? Why is it significant and important to your family history? A picture’s worth a thousand words, but a picture with the story behind it is priceless!

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Using Locating Ancestral Origins, by Juliana Smith

Matthew Huggins home, Co. Westmeath, IrelandIt’s a question I see frequently in my editor’s mail: “How do I locate a town of origin in (England, Scotland, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Norway) for my ancestors? To the non-genealogist, the town of origin might seem to be just another insignificant piece of trivia about our ancestors, but to those of us with a passion for learning all we can about our ancestry, it is one of the most exhilarating finds there is. To be able to reach back in time and actually take our history to a place that you can see on a map, and hopefully someday even visit, is a feeling that’s hard to beat!

The trouble is, that information is not always where you might hope to find it, and it often takes a bit of digging. But there are clues in many records that could help point you in the right direction. Let’s take a look. Continue reading

Orphan Rescue: From Nursing Home to Nursing Home, by Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak

I’m on the orphan heirloom trail again! If this concept is new to you, it’s when folks write to me about items that have come into their possession, but don’t belong to their family. I do the detective work to track down the family of origin, they kindly return the item, and then I write about the rescue. If you’re curious, I invite you to browse through these earlier rescues.

The Greening Bible
This time out, we’re dealing with a Bible. I received the following message from Shari Mockensturm:

The mother of a friend of mine somehow acquired another family’s Bible back in the forties. Since Eleanor “GI” (Webb) Johnson (nicknamed “GI” because she served in the Women’s Army Corps) is now in a nursing home, she turned the Bible over to her daughter, Carolyn, who then turned it over to me in the hope that I could locate a descendant.
I have traced the family forward to cousins Hartwell M. (Melvin?) GREENING, b. 30 Jan 1905 in Toledo, Lucas Co., OH, d. 14 Nov 1961 in Los Angeles Co., CA, and Alfred P. GREENING, b. 2 Mar 1898 in MO, d. 21 Apr 1964 in Placer Co., CA.
I would greatly appreciate some help in locating a GREENING descendant of one of these men so that we can give the Bible to them. (It also has some wonderful family photographs in it.) I have no connection with the GREENING family, but as a family history researcher, I know how thrilled I would be if someone returned a family heirloom to me.

Hmmm . . . this was intriguing. Another family’s Bible kept since the 1940s? Better yet, Shari had already done much of the sleuthing. I just had to find a way to bridge the last half-century or so. The hunt was on! Continue reading

Tips from the Pros: Census Tip–The Bonus Summary

View All Census Recordsfrom Sherry Irvine, CG, FSA (Scot)

Most of us are slow to read everything on a computer monitor, so it was quite a while before I noticed three small words just above the results table of my searches in the English censuses, They are blue and underlined–All Census Results. (Click on the image to enlarge an example.)

Obviously this is a link, and I discovered it leads to a table showing a list of the number of hits in any available census return matching the criteria I had specified.

During a search for William Nuttall in the 1841 census of England, the All Census Results link took me to a table of censuses for England. Above and to the left was another link, All Results, and this went to a much larger listing of results, mostly in UK databases.

The table is available whether you search with a full name, surname only, first name only, or geographic location without a name. The patterns of listings vary depending on the breadth of your initial search and where you start (e.g., a U.S. search, England/Wales search, Canada search, or global search). Working within census records, you end up viewing a demographic table that provides a good idea as to how common a name is across one country or several.

I enjoy playing with the tool and checking out the numbers. For example, a search for anyone of the surname Bird in England in 1871 and born in Canada turned up two results. Selecting the All Census Results link took me to a table telling me there were 146 in the United States in 1870, nine in 1891 in England, plus totals from twenty-nine other major and minor census databases within the site. Why not try your luck with some of your family surnames?

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Your Quick Tips

Cemetery Transcription Tips
If you’re planning to photograph or transcribe a cemetery, check the USGenWeb Tombstone Transcription page for your county to make sure nobody else has already registered to do that work.
The national page is at Click on “View the Registry” to see a page listing the states. Then click on your state and county to see the registry. Here’s an example from my home state, Pennsylvania.
At the top of the page are links to pages showing cemetery names and locations and to transcriptions and tombstone photos of local cemeteries. Further down on the county page is a registry showing the cemeteries presently “assigned” and the progress that is being made on each.
Some states have a “tips” page, which is useful to read before you head out into the cemetery. Here’s a photo tips page, and here’s another, which gives transcription tips. Many state and county pages also have pages showing common foreign language inscription translations. All of this information is useful both in the planning stage and in the transcribing stage of your cemetery project.

I belong to a tombstone photographers’ group, and we travel from our homes to Blair County, PA, once a year and meet to photograph a cemetery or two (depending on number of interments in the cemeteries, as well as the number of volunteers who can manage the trip). We donate the photos to Blair County USGenWeb Archives for the Tombstone Project, but we also donate copies of the photos on CDs to the local genealogical and historical societies and to libraries.
All contributions to USGenWeb Archives remain the property of the contributor, who by submitting the material to the Archives gives the Archives permission to store the material permanently for free access.
Judy Banja
Blair County USGenWeb Archives

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