The Year Was… Summary and Other Blog Updates

Annabelle SmithI’ve updated the summary of years covered in The Year Was… and you can access the entire list by clicking here. We’ve now covered sixty-four years ranging from 1776 through 1969. Feel free to add your own memories or family stories from a particular year in the comments section for that year, as well as any events that I didn’t cover. It’s tough to fit a whole year’s worth of news in that space in the newsletter, but on the blog we have plenty of space and your stories will help add another dimension to the “news of the day.” 

I was also browsing through the photo section of the blog and realized we now have more than one hundred posts with photographs on the blog. (It’s probably closer to two hundred individual photos, since I typically post two at a time.) I’ve even heard from several people who have found ancestors in this growing collection! You can browse all of the photographs by clicking on the Photo Corner link in the Categories side bar. In fact you can browse any of the online categories (e.g., Quote for Today, Book and Movie Club, Your Quick Tips, etc.) by clicking on these sidebar links.

Search the Blog

Did you know the blog is also searchable? Using the search box in the upper right corner of the page, you can search by author, keyword, or search for your family surnames to see if there is a photo available or if someone who shares your surname posted a tip on our site.

One last note-we’ve recently installed Akismet on the blog to help reduce the number of spam posts. I was receiving upwards of four and five hundred a day and although many were caught in moderation, some managed to get through. I try to keep up, but if you see any spam on the blog, please email me the URL of the post ( and I’ll get out there and remove it. This new spam filter seems to be working much better so it shouldn’t be as much of a problem as in the past. My only fear is that it might pull in some of your comments. If you post a comment and it doesn’t appear on the blog, you can also email me about that. I have heard a lot of good things about Akismet and don’t anticipate any problems. Plus, now that I don’t have to spend so much time weeding through spam, I can focus more on content. 😉

Hope you all have a great weekend!


P.S. This photograph is of our dog Annabelle in celebration of her having defeated Blastomycosis (a fungal disease that infects the lungs). Her xray last month showed all clear and this morning I gave her the last of her medication. Yeah!

Weekly Planner: Preserve Those School Memories

yearbook.bmpWith another school year over, children are coming home with backpacks full of papers and artwork. While we can’t save everything, it’s a good time to go back and reflect on the past year. If you have young ones, get them a notebook and some archival plastic sleeves and set them to work creating a scrapbook with school year memories. Smaller yearbooks, autographs from fellow students and teachers, special art projects and handwritten memories can be compiled into a memory book that they’ll enjoy for years to come.

If you don’t have little ones around with memories to preserve, take some steps to preserve your own memories. Pull out an old yearbook and take a trip down memory lane. Who was your best friend? What was your favorite subject? Was there a teacher who made a big impact in your life? Were there other family members at your school? Do you remember any of the school projects you worked on? (My favorite was an Aztec pyramid made of sugar cubes!) Record these memories and save them for future family historians. They will be thrilled at this personal look at your school years!

Determining Your Ancestor’s Religion, by Michael John Neill

church.jpgSometimes determining your ancestor’s religion is as easy as looking at the name on the door of the church they attended. For some of us it is not that easy. This week we look at some clues that may help us in our search for our ancestor’s church and the records that church left behind.

Why Church Records?
Records from our ancestor’s church may help us document his or her birth, death, and marriage. In some cases, they may help us learn other details about his or her life. The content of church records varies greatly among different denominations. However, these records should still be a part of any comprehensive research plan. We start by looking at ways to determine the denomination of your ancestor.

The “Obvious” Sources
Family tradition may mention the religion of your ancestor, but keep in mind that if the ancestor in question is several generations removed from the informant, that tradition may be based upon assumptions that are not correct.

The religious affiliations of your ancestor’s children may also give you an idea of the denomination with which the actual ancestor was associated. Keep in mind however that not everyone attends the same church as their parents. Continue reading

Using Ancestry: Finding My Family on the 1895 Minnesota State Census! by Paula Stuart-Warren, CG

Never give up. Recheck what you checked before. Review your notes. Step away from it for a while. I did all this and still never found one of my ancestral families in the 1895 Minnesota State Census.

A couple of weeks ago I was at the National Genealogical Society Conference in Richmond, Virginia. While there I had a couple of conversations with fellow genealogists about how those of us who had been working on our family history for many years sometimes forget to return to the basics.

I thought about it and for my Stuart family I believed I had gone over the basics several times. I had them on every other applicable state and federal census, but using city directory addresses, ward maps, and other tools, I still could not find them in the mostly unindexed 1895 Minnesota State Census. Continue reading

Tips from the Pros: Go Back and Get it Again, from Michael John Neill

Have you gone back and reviewed documents that you located early in your research? Family historians should not only review copies of records in their files, but also original materials from which notes and comments were made. Re-reading the complete records from which notations were made may cause overlooked clues to be discovered.

I was fortunate that I grew up within a few miles of the courthouse that contained many court and probate records of my ancestors. My initial viewing of these materials was done early in my research when I was still partially in what I call my “name-collecting” phase. If it didn’t mention a known or obvious relative, I did not always write it down. I only copied documents that mentioned relatives and addresses or residences. For this reason, I am in the process of seeking out and reviewing documents located early in my research for unnoticed clues.

As soon as I reviewed the 1870 era probate file I remembered having seen the phrase “Kentucky mortgage” before. However, I did not deem it worthy of writing down the first time I read the file. Now, the phrase meant something to me. My “follow-up” research on that phrase located Kentucky land records and led me to discover that one branch of the family had lived for more than a decade in Kentucky¬–something which I had never known before.

Reviewing what is in your files is a good idea. But going back and looking at the original materials from which notes were taken early in your research might be a good idea as well. You may find some overlooked clues as well.

Click here for a printer friendly version of this article.

The Year Was 1907

Lusitania, from the LOC Photo Collection at AncestryThe year was 1907 and in Belfast, Ireland, Protestant and Catholic dockworkers set aside their differences for a short time to unite in a four-month strike for better wages, better working conditions, and union recognition.

In Romania, a growing economy was making the rich richer, but peasants, who had very little representation in the government were still struggling and they revolted, destroying the homes and crops of the wealthy. The Romanian Army was called in and the revolt ended with the deaths of an estimated 10,000 peasants.

October brought with it the Panic of 1907 in New York. Rampant speculation and a faltering economy brought a “run” on several large trust companies with scared depositors withdrawing their funds. J.P. Morgan and several other leading Wall Street financiers were called in by President Theodore Roosevelt to turn things around. Working with the government, they put together a plan where $25 million dollars from the U.S. Treasury was invested in the neediest banks to prevent future runs on the institutions. Many financial historians attribute the creation of the Federal Reserve System in 1913 to the Panic of 1907. Continue reading

Photo Corner

Ernest Fenwick Johnstone (1867-1938), born in Waterville, Kings County, Nova ScotiaContributed by the Weir Family
Picture of Ernest Fenwick Johnstone (1867-1938). He was born in Waterville, Kings County, Nova Scotia. He immigrated to the U.S. in 1886. He attended the University of Michigan. He settled in Vermont. He was named the Poet of Vermont and wrote “No Vermonters In Heaven.” This picture was found in an old family attic in Nova Scotia. It was taken around 1889.

Click on the image to enlarge it.

Phillip Haag, 1873-1943, a police officer on the Louisville, Kentucky, police force.

Contributed by Don Haag, Sr., Louisville, Kentucky
Attached is photo of my grandfather, Phillip Haag, 1873-1943, who for many years was a police officer on the Louisville, Kentucky, police force.