Photo Corner

Emil Hugo Wirch (1899-1986) and Johanna (Franz) Wendorf (1901-1996)Contributed by Jana Wirch-Wright
These are my paternal grandparents, Emil Hugo Wirch (1899-1986) and Johanna (Franz) Wendorf (1901-1996), circa 1920. The Franz and the Wirch Families were humble, hard working, farming folks who endured abject poverty and gave up land in Bessarabia, South Russia so they could immigrate to America and be part of the American Dream. My Grandparents were the first generation to be born here. This is my screen saver. It reminds me everyday what I need to do for research and why.

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Ethel Margaret Noel and Mary Ann Noel, 1926Contributed by Sarah Gallapoo
The first picture is of Ethel Margaret Noel and Mary Ann Noel just before Mary Ann died of smallpox in Dec 1926. Ethel, age ten, and Mary Ann, age five-and-a-half. Taken in 1926 at Covington, Fountain County, Indiana.
We have diaries from Nelson who writes of visiting the “picture lady” for family photos. In his diaries, he tells how he sends the kids into town in the horse and buggy to pick these pictures up. It is interesting to read about their travels throughout the county. He writes of meetings at the church where they had very loud discussions on whether or not to pave the most-traveled roads in the county., Inc. Changes Corporate Name to The Generations Network


PROVO, UTAH – December 19, 2006 –, Inc., the leading online network for connecting families across distance and time, today announced that it is changing its name to The Generations Network, Inc., effective immediately. The company will continue to serve families online through its portfolio of leading brands and websites.,,, and together form the No. 1 network of family history websites in both the United States and United Kingdom; Ancestry’s OneWorldTreeSM is the world’s largest online family tree. Continue reading

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WEEKLY PLANNER: Send a Personal Message

Too often we rely on greeting card manufacturers to tell our loved ones how we feel about them. This holiday season why not write a personal note to your family and friends to tell them just how special they are. You don’t need to be a poet or a professional writer. Your own words in a handwritten note will say it all and will be treasured for a lifetime.

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Using Ancestry: Starting Fresh, Part 2: Finds in Local History, by Juliana Smith

Liberty Township, Mercer County, Pennsylvania, 1873When we last left our story, Timmy had fallen in the well and Lassie was going for help… Oh, sorry–that’s the wrong story.

Okay, here’s the right one. Last week I shared some of my findings from my mother-in-law’s Pennsylvania-based Wolford family, and this week we’re following up with a few more avenues that you might like to try as well.

Exploring Ancestry and a Cartographic Find
After I filled in as much information as I could and had traced the Wolford family back through the census to 1850, I set out to explore what other records I could find at Ancestry. My first stop was to the Search tab, where I selected Pennsylvania from the map in the lower left corner of the page. I browsed through the listings of databases and did a quick check for John Wolford in the Civil War databases. John would have been around eighteen years old in 1862 and although I found several “Johns,” follow-up is something I can’t do just now, so this went on my to-do list. Since he lived relatively near the Ohio border, I’ll need to begin my search for him in regiments from both Ohio and Pennsylvania. Continue reading

How Do I Know I Have the Right Family? by Michael John Neill

When families migrate from one area to another, it can be hard to determine if you have really located the same group of individuals. The difficulty is compounded if the last name and first names are relatively common. It’s important to be certain that the “true” family has been located and that one has not mixed up families with similar names. Male cousins bearing the same first and last name are particularly easy to confuse.

One quick way to track families in the post-1850 era is through population census schedules. The listing of all household members facilitates the matching process, and every-name indexes make the use of these records much easier than before, especially when the residence is not known. However, the first close match on the list of results is not necessarily the correct family. All matches to the search terms should be analyzed and eliminated based upon what is known about the family. What appears to be the “right” entry must be compared in light of other records to determine if there really is consistency. Continue reading

Tips from the Pros: Small Town Newspapers

Lou SzucsIt’s been a while since I have lived “at home.” I still have a subscription to my hometown weekly newspaper. Frankly, it gets read more quickly than the local newspaper printed in the town where I work. It is a great way to keep up on the local happenings, particularly who died, who got married, and who reproduced. And every so often the editor prints a “letter to the editor” from someone looking for relatives who used to live in the county where I was born and raised.

Of course, large metropolitan daily papers will not publish such notices, but a smaller, weekly newspaper just might. A letter briefly (very briefly) outlining your family member who used to live in the area may reach the attention of relatives or others who may know of your family. These people might not be genealogists or family historians per se, but upon seeing your letter it might jog their memory and one may contact you. The best part of all is the cost:
only a postage stamp and the time to create an actual letter (some papers might accept e-mail, but paper mail is less likely to get lost in an inbox).

Google searches, online yellow pages, and USGenWeb sites are great places to learn of such newspapers. And you can always post a message to the genealogy bulletin boards at RootsWeb to ask what newspapers are published and read in your area of interest.

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Your Quick Tips, 18 December 2006

Genealogy vs. Family Stories
Believe it or not, the word “genealogy” may intimidate, scare, confuse, or just plain irk some people. They may associate it with snobbery or the old stereotype of trying to show descent from famous people, or worse, an invasion of family privacy.

The word genealogy can be also be interpreted to mean “family talk” (see the Oxford English Dictionary for details). And that’s what I say when visiting, writing, or calling a family member. I never use the word genealogy; instead I say I want to hear them talk about the old family stories.

When visiting, I find taking notes or making an audio tape right from the beginning can be uncomfortable. So if something important comes up, I say “Oh, I never heard that, let me jot that down,” and pull out an old crumpled envelope and a pencil stub. I quickly jot down the fact, and while I am at it, any other mental notes I have made.

Sure I have an audio recorder, digital camera, video camera, GPS, computer, maps, and a subscription to–but to my family, I am a family story collector, not a genealogist.

Bruce Miller
Cos Cob, CT Continue reading

The Year Was 1794

French RevolutionThe year was 1794 and the French Revolution, now five years old, was in its bloodiest phase–the Reign of Terror. It began with the execution of Marie Antoinette and a string of thousands of others followed. Anyone critical to the ruling faction was beheaded with the recently invented guillotine. The leader of ruling party, Maximilien Robespierre claimed, “Terror is nothing other than justice, prompt, severe, inflexible.” However, his advocation of the Reign of Terror led to his demise in July 1794. Members of the National Convention turned against him, fearful they too would become victims, and he met the guillotine on 28 July 1794.

Besides fighting among themselves, the French were also doing battle with much of Europe in what are known as the French Revolutionary Wars. Alliances against France made the previous year led to battles with Spain, Britain, Austria, and Prussia in 1794.

Across the Atlantic, Americans were also fighting amongst themselves. In 1791, the newly formed American government had imposed an excise tax on whiskey and other spirits. The tax was very unpopular in far western areas because it hit the smaller stills particularly hard. This, and dissatisfaction with representation in the government, led to the Whiskey Rebellion. In these rural areas, excise tax collectors were threatened and in some cases, tarred and feathered, or worse. President George Washington called in federal troops to put down the violence in western Pennsylvania and twenty participants were arrested and brought to trial, but none were found guilty. Continue reading

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