Your Quick Tips, 05 January 2008

Simplify Finding Distances between Locations
Not long ago I spent quite a bit of time trying to figure out how far my ancestor lived from the cemetery that I believe he is buried in “as the crow flies.” I could locate both locations on a map, but didn’t know where roads might have been on the frontier. I have since found a free website for joggers and bikers very useful for getting distances. GMaps Pedometer allows you to get straight line distances (manual) between two or more points.

Distances on current roads are available taking into account curves and turns onto other roads (automatic). This will be useful to get an exact driving distance from a landmark to a cemetery or other location. The site is based on Google Maps and has that look and feel to it. Double click to set your start, turn, and end points. I like to zoom in quite a bit and then click and hold to move the map when my route starts to go off the edge. The cyclist route will not let you go down a one-way street the wrong way like the runner route would.  

Gerald M. Graves
Van Meter, Iowa

Handprint Tablecloth
I purchased a book through Ancestry called Creating Junior Genealogists.

One good project was to have the family buy a plain white table cloth and use this for family gatherings. The idea is to have everyone draw their hand print on the table cloth. Have them use permanent markers that are made for material and have them sign and date each handprint.

Over the years the kids can see how they have grown and see how their handwriting has changed. The tablecloth can be passed down through the family to keep the tradition ongoing.

M.J. Waldschmidt

Saving Family Correspondence
When we moved my parents from Colorado to Nebraska some years ago, my brother started to throw out all the “junk”–greeting cards, old letters, post cards and notes. I said I wanted all of them. He could not believe I would pack all that “junk” back to California. He should have said all that “gold” back to California.

My mother was born in 1895 and died at the age of 96. One letter was from her girlfriend when they were young. They wrote a tiny note under the stamp on their letters like, “I miss you” or “I like BK,” etc., licking only around the very edges of the stamp. They thought they were really being clever — I think so too.

I have names of relatives from some of her cards and letters that I never knew existed. There are so many birth, death, marriages, anniversaries, accidents and illnesses along with other things in the lives of these families. Most of the birth announcements and marriage invitations are in their original envelopes.

There are a few letters where one relative that can’t stand another one and my mother being in between receiving letters from both and being sweet to both in answering them. Another find was over ten years of Christmas photo cards from a family to her. I put them in a row and I could see how their family grew.

I will still go through all the “junk” again later as I know there is probably something I have missed.
June Timm   
Murrieta, California

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7 thoughts on “Your Quick Tips, 05 January 2008

  1. Ilove the idea of doing handprints on a tablecloth. You could also use fabric paint. Have the person put thier palm down in the paint and then down flat on the tablecloth. Lift up quickly so that you get a good image of the hand.
    I may suggest this to my sister who organizes crafts for us to do when we go down to Cape Cod every year.

  2. I also love the idea of the handprint tablecloth. I will do this at our next family gathering. Oh, I can hear the moans and groans, but they will do it!

    Now the comment about the correspondence hit home. My mother was born in 1903. I have the love letters that were written between her and my dad in 1925. Now to add to that, I have the letters that my brother wrote home when he was in the Korean Conflict. Add to that my grandmother’s letters that were written in German. I made copies of the love letters and my brother letters and made a book for my children and nieces and nephews. They loved it. I keep all the cards, invitations, etc. we receive all year and then on New Years day, I sort them to boxes marked thank you cards, invitations, Christmas cards, etc. And I have a lot of their cards from the 40’s and 50’s. It is truly a gold mine!

  3. I can only second June’s comment on saving family correspondence. I was tracing a line from England to eventually Alabamha and ended up talking to present day members of my family. In one email my contact said “oh, we have Aunt Lillians Trunk and its full of letters”. These letters dated from the 1920’s onwards and confirmed the family’s ident and provided many further details which helped my research on. So don’t throw away old letters or any family paperwork at all.
    Mike Greatorex

  4. I couldn’t agree more with June Timm’s comments about all that old junk. When my mother died at 93 I found an anniversary card my father had given her on their 15th wedding anniverary. It was obvious they still loved each other dearly. On their 15th anniversary, I was six months old, my mom was 41 and my dad was 52. Mom kept some wonderful papers…her parents’ marriage certificate, the deed to a house her parents owned…lots of things that gave me a sense of her parents who were both dead before I was born. Can’t believe she didn’t show me these things years before. I have kept lots of those papers and cards and every time I go through them I find some little tidbit that was worth keeping it all!

  5. Oh how I wish I had read this before christmas,we had a gathering of family from England ,the US and Cananda .one that because of an elderly grandmother ,we may never again have. I am thinking of a way to cut large squares of cloth and send them to each family ,to have them do the hand prints,send them back and hand stich and back. Much like a quilt ,this is certainly something to think about .

  6. I’ve commented here before about inheriting the “home place” when my husband’s father died. The papergoods we found in every niche quickly became my favorite treasure. I have spent over 14 years now reading, sorting, rereading papers and cards that were just packed away, some since the Civil War! Early on in the “try to get a grasp on this” period, I was known to create a family tree by covering the living room carpet with at least one picture of each relative, and then match letters and postcards to the writer or recipient.I have a better system now! We found everything from WWI & WWII love letters to a Civil War letter telling of a battle and death of a friend. We have original Enlistment & Discharge documents, funeral books with all those signatures, and lots of newspaper clippings and postcards.But the grand prize went to Aunt Cora (d.1958), who everyone told me had been a bit daft! Being a widow with no children, Dad & an Uncle cleared her little home and brought all of her things the attic. She was the silent doumenter, with personal notes!Without the cards and letters and handwritten notes she saved, I never would have gotten the genealogical information I have now.

  7. I am trying to print the article ‘The year was 1905’, but, when I highlight the ‘print or comment’ line, a ‘print version’ of Simplfy finding distance..’ article comes up instead. Any suggestions on how I can print off the article I want?

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