Weekly Planner: Plan for Family Get-Togethers

Whether you’ll be a host or guest this holiday season, family get-togethers can give your family history research a real boost, and a little pre-planning can go a long way. Look for ways to jog relatives’ memories. Put together a collection of old photographs in a collage or album (conveniently left where people can browse and discuss). Create centerpieces and other decorations using family memorabilia and photographs. Come up with “getting-to-know-you” games that will get everyone involved. (Example: Have everyone write something about themselves or a favorite memory on a slip of paper and put them all in a hat. Then have everyone choose a slip and try to guess whose slip they have.) Engage members of the younger generation by having them ask questions of older generations.

With a little preparation, you can make this holiday season a real boon to your family history.

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Family History Gift Ideas for the Holidays, by Juliana Smith

Shrimp Jambalaya recipe.bmpEvery year it seems to start earlier. I haven’t even taken down Halloween decorations and the stores are already filled with Christmas displays. As the stressful thought of beginning holiday shopping creeps in, my mind is screaming, “It’s too soon, I’m not ready!”

Being honest with myself though, I realize that the sooner I start shopping, the less stressful the holidays will be. Now I’m not going to kid myself into thinking that I can be done by December, but wouldn’t it be nice to have at least that week before Christmas to enjoy the season instead of racing around trying to find last minute gifts?

I’m planning on creating some family history gifts this year, and since some of these will take time to create, I need to get on it now. For items that I’ll need to order, like any AncestryPress projects, I want to allow myself extra time to make sure I can get them in time. Currently, projects are typically shipped in two to three weeks, but with the holiday rush, I want to allow a little extra time.

In today’s column, I thought we’d take a look at some family history projects that could make good holiday gifts, including some do-it-yourself projects and some that you can create with a little help from Ancestry. Continue reading

Honoring Our Ancestors: Haley Family of Roots Fame Joins the DNA Game, by Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak

Chris HaleyMany of you have probably heard or read about the entry of Ancestry into the genetic genealogy world. And some of you may have also heard that one of the first in line to get tested by DNA Ancestry was Chris Haley, Director of the Study of the Legacy of Slavery in Maryland at the Maryland State Archives and –oh, yeah–the nephew of Alex Haley.

The Haley Line
While we strongly associate the Haley name with “Roots,” the classic book that has inspired so many avid genealogists, that particular book isn’t actually about the Haley line. But “Queen,” a later book by Alex Haley and David Stevens, gives a brief accounting of this branch of the family tree:

“Following the common custom among slaves, Alec had taken the name Haley from his true Massa, although his real father’s name was Baugh. William Baugh was an overseer . . .” Continue reading

Tips from the Pros: University Databases, from Paula Stuart Warren, CG

To learn about databases, indexes, article abstracts, occupation directories, ethnic databases, and other electronic items that might aid in your search or add background to your family history, check the database holdings of college and university libraries. That institution may allow on-site access to non-alumni community members. If you are an alumnus, you are more likely to be able to also gain home computer access to some databases. Access is also governed by the owner of the database, and the subscribing institution must abide by contractual usage limits. While on university websites, browse the Special Collections and Archives sections for a look at the superb holdings in these areas.
Here’s a sampling of university library websites:

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Your Quick Tips, 12 November 2007

Colonial Massachusetts tombstone details: Capt. Samuel Hunting, Charlestown, 1701 (from Library of Congress Photo Collection at Ancestry) New England Tombstones
While looking at a website of New England tombstones, I remembered something from an archeology class about the sequence of New England headstone style changes. I Googled the name of the author and found an article from a journal. Some researchers might find this useful in getting approximate dates on headstones with names but no exact date data. Click here to read the article.

All the best,
Tom Walden

Image: Colonial Massachusetts tombstone details: Capt. Samuel Hunting, Charlestown, 1701 (from Library of Congress Photo Collection) Continue reading

The Year Was 1889

Oklahoma Land RushThe year was 1889 and in a tiny port in Samoa, seven warships were gathered on the verge of conflict. The USS Trenton, the Vandalia, and Nipsic of the U.S., and the Olga, Adler, and Eber, representing Germany were in a standoff as both countries saw each other as a threat to their respective interests in the South Pacific. As tensions grew, the weather turned violent and both sides lost the battle with Mother Nature. A British ship, the HMS Calliope, escaped the harbor by sailing full speed into the storm. All but two ships were damaged beyond repair. The U.S. lost more than fifty servicemen, and the Germans lost around ninety.

Flooding was fatal in a small Pennsylvania town that year. As the residents of Johnstown gathered their belongings and moved to the upper floors of their houses in response to seasonal flooding that plagued the valley, danger lurked high above the town where the South Fork dam held back Lake Conemaugh. Attempts were being made to relieve the pressure, but at about three o’clock on 31 May 1889, the dam was washed a way. An hour later, forty-foot high floodwaters–with fourteen miles of accumulated debris–swept through the town. 2,209 people from Johnstown and other communities in the path perished in the Johnstown Flood. Continue reading

Photo Corner

Maria Eva Hagen Kirchmier, born ca. 1772Contributed by Joan B. Wright, Virginia Beach, Virginia
The attached picture is of my third great-grandmother, Maria Eva Hagen Kirchmier, born ca. 1772 according to the 1850 census. She was the wife of Lambert Kirchmeier born in Deidesheim, Bavarian Pfalz. Maria Eva was also born in Deidesheim. She immigrated to New Orleans about 1848 and resided with her daughter and son-in-law, Magdelena and Marcellius Eschmann ‘til her death in 1859. The picture was taken in New Orleans about that year.

Click on the image to enlarge it.

Alice Jane (Allie) Cale, and Andrew Johnson (Andie) CullingsContributed by Donna Cullings, Belcher, Indiana
This is a photograph of my great-grandparents, Alice Jane (Allie) Cale, and Andrew Johnson (Andie) Cullings, probably taken on their wedding day, 9 December 1885. They had thirteen children, but four died very young.

ChicagoAncestors.org Website Updated

Back in August, Michael Neill gave us a tip about a website for those with roots in Chicago–ChicagoAncestors.org. Now that website has been updated with some new interactive features that allow users to add their own map points and comment on other entries.

The website allows you to search by address and locate Lutheran and Catholic Churches and other resources in the vicinity. Also be sure to check out the tools section which has links to some great resources like 1909 street numbering changes, 1911 street name changes, 1866 business directory, maps, a tutorial to “Researching Pre-Fire Chicago,” and a collection of helpful links. Click here to visit ChicagoAncestors.org.