Tips from the Pros: Start Collecting Eulogies, from Denise Platt Stewart

Sadly, funerals are a part of each of our lives, yet ironically, they provide a unique opportunity for all family historians. My 96-year-old Great-uncle Ezio Joseph Rigadini passed away last week. Unable to attend his funeral, I wrote a tribute and asked my younger sister to read it at his memorial service.

Before beginning, I pulled up a eulogy I had written for another uncle to get some ideas. I had woven the story of Uncle Lou’s life for his grandchildren and great-grandchildren to help them remember him in future years. As I reviewed the eulogy, I recalled that at the
time, I had referred to another eulogy written in 1992 by a family friend.

The moral of the story? Start collecting eulogies. Today, families celebrate the lives of their loved ones with creative memorial services, often including photo slideshows, video montages, and outpourings of loving memories shared by family and friends during
funeral and memorial services.

Frequently these tributes include not only traditional timelines of a person’s life, careers, and hobbies, but they also paint a picture of the deceased’s personality, philosophies, and outlook on life. In short, they describe what made him or her unique.

Sometimes morturies can “tape” the services, capturing the moment without burdening the grieving family. If not, the person arranging the services may ask speakers for copies of their eulogies. And don’t forget to print guest books included with online obituaries.

As difficult as these times may be, later they can lead to opportunities to discuss shared memories, review (and identify!) family photos, recall traditions, and help introduce a younger generation to the value of recording family history. 

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Your Quick Tips, 14 April 2008

Expand Newspaper Searches
Don’t ignore newspaper hits in unexpected locations when looking through the Ancestry Historical Newspaper Collection. In the past I typically would disregard those newspapers that I didn’t think were in the “right location.” Imagine my surprise when I opened a newspaper from another state and found not only an obituary, but also a picture of the deceased and an article from the United Press as well. That made me go back and search the other hits that had come up. Several other states had more information on the death–possible foul play, a lawsuit by the relatives, etc. It filled in a lot of holes in my research. From these various articles, I learned that the deceased, while living in Illinois, died in Hot Springs, Arkansas, had interests in a hotel in Florida, and was buried back in Illinois.
Sue Ridgley
Decatur, Illinois Continue reading

The Year Was 1839

The year was 1839 and on 7 January, Louis Daguerre presented his new invention to the French Académie des Sciences. The daguerreotype was the result of the first practical process by which an image was permanently stored on a metal surface. The field of photography was born and family historians everywhere rejoiced.

The Treaty of London was signed in 1839 splitting Belgium off from the United Kingdom of the Netherlands. The Grand Duchy of Luxemburg also split, with part forming another piece of Belgium. The treaty also stipulated that Belgium remain neutral and the signatory powers of United Kingdom, Austria, France, Prussia, Russia, and the Netherlands signed on to help uphold that neutrality. This stipulation helped fan the fires of World War I. When Germany invaded Belgium in August of 1914, as a signatory power, Britain declared war on Germany.

In the 1830s, working-class men still didn’t have the right to vote in Britain. In 1838, William Lovett drafted the People’s Charter, which would give all men the right to vote, would establish annual elections with a secret ballot, and call for payment for Members of Parliament (MPs). In July of 1839, the People’s Charter was rejected but those in favor of the Charter were undeterred. In Newport, Monmouthshire, a group of several thousand Chartists marched on the town seeking control. Troops fired into the crowd killing twenty-two people and leaders of the movement were arrested. This brought attention and support to the Chartist movement, but it wasn’t until 1884 that the majority of men, twenty-one and older would earn the right to vote. Continue reading

Photo Corner

Nancy Louise Sharpe (1914-91) and John Frank Contributed by Sylvia Hott Sonneborn, York, Pennsylvania
These are my first cousins, both deceased–sister and brother Nancy Louise Sharpe (1914-91) and John Frank “Jack” Sharpe, Jr. (1917-88). Born in Johnstown, Cambria, Pennsylvania, to John Frank “Pud” Sharpe, Sr., and Lois Georgeen Krise Sharpe.

Click on an image to enlarge it.

Rufus Shew and his sister Helen Shew taken about 1873 in Fulton County, NY. Contributed by Pete Shew, Stockport, Ohio
Here is a tintype photo of my great-grandfather Rufus Shew and his sister Helen Shew taken about 1873 in Fulton County, NY.

Who Am I? Baltimore Fireman

20080411 uniform-on postcard.bmpHere’s another Who Am I? image that I received. Can you help? Click on the image to enlarge it and post your ideas in the comments below.

Here is a photo postcard I know nothing about. My distant cousin was a fireman, and I thought perhaps it was someone in his family, but I’m not sure.  It was in my grandmother’s scrapbook, so it’s likely someone in our Bowen, Parker, Stroud, Davis, Price, Bell, Warren, Holt, Barham, Sheppard, Hart family. 
The imprinting on the bottom says
Christhil Studio,
114 W. Lexington Street
Balto MD

I did have an Aunt Jennie (Virginia Tisch Orlowski that lived in Baltimore from 1927 to 1995.  Her husband was Anthony Orlowski.) 
The postcard has place for correspondence, name and address, and in the place for the postage stamp, there are the calligraphed initials “SKO.”
Hope someone out there can help!
Kay Neese Smith
Newport News, Virginia

New Down Under Episode Available on RootsTelevision

RTV Down Under Zacchinis.bmpI just finished watching another episode of Down Under with George Morgan and Drew Smith on RootsTelevision. This week George and Drew were off in search of the headstone of the inventor of the human cannon, Ildebrando Zacchini. Their quest takes them to the cemetery (of course!), and then on to the library for more research on the family, and eventually to a circus museum to see the famous cannon.  You can check out this latest installment of Down Under at

Great job George and Drew!

Potentially Fraudulent Sites Posing as Genealogy Websites

I received the following alert from our home offices in Utah:

We have recently become aware of three websites purporting to allow family history research:, and The sites claim to have “the largest online genealogical search tool” and promote themselves as the foremost resources for genealogy, but from what we can tell, these sites are nothing more than a series of web pages with links to other services. These sites, in our opinion, are clearly fraudulent.

On each site, potential customers are lured to purchase under what we feel to be false, misleading and deceitful promotional material, and get little or no value out of money spent at the websites. Blog and message board posts from the community confirm this opinion.

The people/companies behind the websites are buying very high level paid search results on Google and other sites. In addition, they are using trademarks of well-known websites, including and, to get higher-than-normal natural search results. It appears the site colors, fonts, and pictures on at least one site are designed to mislead people in to believing the site is related to

As the leading online family history company, The Generations Network, Inc. and its website properties including and its global network of Ancestry sites,, and Rootsweb, we want to encourage consumers to validate and verify the legitimacy of a website before providing credit card information or paying for services. TGN will take appropriate administrative and legal action to do its part to protect the community from these sites.


New at Ancestry

Ancestry____logo1.bmpPosted This Week

Weekly Planner: Overhaul a Family File

Do you have a family file or binder that’s bursting at the seams? Maybe it’s time to reorganize and break it down into several smaller files. Check and make sure all of the information in your files is up to date with your family history database and that your timelines are current. If you haven’t started a timeline for that family, do that too. Timelines are a great way to jumpstart your research! Learn more about creating timelines here.

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