Posts tagged ‘family tribute’

Why do they have to always hide?

****WARNING…WARNING…BEEP…BEEP…BEEP…OOOO-GA….OOOO-GA!!!****

***Long post ahead…enter at your own risk!!! ***

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I have always wondered why certain documents seem to “appear”, when they do, within my research. They might not even be on the family line that I’m working on, but all of a sudden…there they are!

Two weeks ago I went on “vacation”…ok, so I spent a week and a half walking cemeteries, staring at a computer screen in an air conditioned library, and looking at microfilm in a darkened room…its what I consider a “Vacation”. I was back home trying desperately to piece together another small part of my family history and the history of a dear, dear friend.

So I went to the county microfilm office to research. I knew the routine…I had done this before many times…but….There was an “index” book that I had never ventured into before, so I thought…”Why not”. It turned out to be the Naturalization Index for the county. There were actually 3 books total…2 were indexes for 1880-1952 and then another one that the clerk stated was prior to that time frame. So I checked in the 1880-1952 book and…sure enough I found my grandpa and his brother Dominico. It really only confirmed what I had already found out about his date of immigration. But I still got copies of the records ($3 per complete record seemed like a bargain to me). Then I continued on with the computer and microfilm…but I kept looking at the other index. I didn’t have relatives before that timeframe…but I grabbed it anyway…just to look. BINGO!!! It wasn’t prior…it was AFTER 1952. My grandmother has also filed for Naturalization. I’m still not sure why…her father and her husband had both been Naturalized and she was mentioned on both their documents. (So, technically this was the THIRD time she was “Naturalized”) But I also know that Nani (Grandma in Italian) was a VERY strong willed (a.k.a. stubborn as H*LL) woman who did what she wanted, not what others told her to do. So I had them pull her record too. WOW…I finally had a date for her immigration thru Ellis Island!!! She was one of the relatives that I couldn’t find. Her papers stated she arrived on the Duca Degli Abruzzi, September 1, 1908. BUT….IT ENDED UP BEING WRONG!!! <insert head banging on my desk>

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Last night I searched for her in the Ellis Island database….I had tried to do this a million times before…this time I had the ship to search for and a date of the voyage. Page by page I searched for her and members of her family…I knew she wouldn’t be traveling alone because the date proved she was only 6 when she arrived at Ellis Island. But…NOTHING…Zip…Zilch…Nada…They weren’t there. <Back to banging my head on the desk>

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So…I took another approach to this. I knew about the right time frame…Nani had always said she was 6 or 7 when she came here. So I tried doing an advanced search based on her year of birth, 1902 (+/- 2 years), plus the 1908 date of arrival (+/- 2 years) and put in a partial first and last name (“starts with”)… I didn’t put in more than 3 letters of each name. It pulled up 9 children…and the 3rd one down, even though it was not spelled right (which I knew it had to be mis-spelled), was HER!! Instead of being listed as Frances Minelli…which was what we always knew her name to be…she was listed as Franceschina Minetta. I knew it was her…it was the right location (town and province in Italy)…so I clicked on the link to show me the manifest…I was so excited!!! I checked line 25….And….She’s NOT THERE! <bang…bang…bang…THUNK>

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Why do my ancestors do this to me CONTINUALLY?!?!?! I can almost hear her laughing…”HAHAHAHA…You didn’t find me, did you!!! BWAHAHAHAHA”…UGH!

I spent 2 1/2 hours last night, going page by page…thru the entire manifest for the S.S. Florida..August 11, 1907 arrival…but I finally found her!!! She arrived with her mother (Maria Somma), her brothers Pilerio (later known as Uncle Larry) and Natale (Uncle Nato), and her sisters, Ceralina (It was actually Terasina, Aunt Teresa eventually), Giuseppina (Aunt Josephine),and possibly Carmela (this one I’m still not positive about – If she did come here, she went back to Italy…and there is a family story about one of the daughters returning to Italy to marry). There is a note on the manifest that states their surname was changed on the manifest (originally they had been listed with mom’s maiden name of Somma, but it was changed to Minetta…which was still wrong…their father’s surname was Minelli).

Minelli immigration

Oh well…I won this round of the genealogy game of hide and seek….so…Now its your move Nani. What other road blocks would you like to toss in my way?

 

How did I get all these little pieces of paper…..

I am sitting in the middle of my living room with little scraps of paper all over the place.  I wish I could blame my puppy for the mess, but it’s all my fault.  I had this brilliant idea recently that I was finally going to organize all my genealogy files and paperwork into Surname Notebooks.  It sounded like a great idea, but I think someone needs to have me committed…I MUST BE CRAZY!!!!

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I was feeling a bit overwhelmed when I made this choice and now I’m EXTREMELY overwhelmed.  By the time I pulled every file, stack of papers, bits of scrap paper with information jotted on it, and booted up my computer, I had more that I ever imagined possible.  But I couldn’t stop there.  I needed a sense of accomplishment on this project and also I desperately needed to make sure I had everything possible on my ancestors in my computer as well as their paper files.  I figured I better try to tackle this before it totally gets out of hand. <TOO LATE!!!>

STEP 1 – Make the notebooks

This was the easy part!  I grabbed 5 notebooks and made covers and spines for them.  They look really nice with the family Surname in fancy print and a copy of each surname crest.  Simple enough….I’m a graphic designer.  This part I could do with my eyes closed.

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STEP 2 – Separating the pile

Now this part took some time.  I literally sat on the floor with the huge pile of papers in front of me and I sorted them, one at a time into piles by Surname.  Not bad….it only took me about an hour.  By this time I was beginning to see that there were several of my family lines that I could probably handle pretty quickly.  So I matched up each pile with the corresponding notebook.  At least my living room floor looked good again….until I let the puppy back in….then it was covered in a different kind of clutter.

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STEP 3 – One Notebook at a Time

It’s probably cheating, but I took the notebook with the least amount of papers and started with that one.  Yeah…it was a cop-out….but what can I say.  I needed to see some more progress at this point.  Again, I sat on the floor and started sorting the papers.  This time by individual.  It actually was going pretty smooth…then I realized that I had some people that, obviously, crossed Surnames.  My Grandma Anna would actually be in 3 notebooks (her Maiden Name book, and also in the Surname books of both of her husbands).  Fortunately I was finding some duplicate papers, so I didn’t need to make a lot of photocopies.

STEP 4 – Making sure the information is in the computer

OK…so this one was definitely NOT the most fun…but it was a VERY necessary part of the organization project.  Once my notebooks were assembled I made sure that every document was carefully read and the information entered into my software program.  This served 2 purposes….I was sure I had the information logged, and it made me re-read each document.  I actually found several pieces of information that I had missed before.  I also made sure I had each item scanned and uploaded as media to my genealogy software.  This took more time than all the remaining organization steps combined….actually, I’m still working on this one.  But I still moved forward with the next step…

STEP 5 – Genealogical Cemetery Reports

This was a new step for me.  Something that I’ve been wanting to do, but just haven’t had the time or the desire to get it done.  Each “report” is individualized with an ancestors name and vital information along with a picture of their headstone, urn, etc.  There is also cemetery information or cremains location information and information on their Find a Grave Memorial.  As part of this process, I created a Find a Grave Memorial for each relative as I was creating these reports.

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I do have one additional step that I’m working on and it will be a continuous process.  Making a list of what I still need….by individual.  This is going to be a very important step for me, as I found out I have duplicates of several documents.  Things I didn’t remember I had because it was in a pile somewhere.  Now I know what I have and what I still need.

NOW WHAT…..

Well…Truthfully…I’m not sure.  I’m still working on making sure that all the information is in the computer and scanned…and I’m still photographing graves and entering info into the Cemetery Reports.  But I know this for sure….I’m feeling much more organized and a little more sure of what I have and what I’m missing.  A little organization has gone a long way in helping me feel much better about my project…and my house!  I no longer get frustrated that I’m missing a little piece of paper that I wrote a couple dates on.  They have all been put where they belong…..FOR NOW!  The trick will be to keep the system going and not go back to my addiction for little pieces of paper.  I might need to create my own 12-step program eventually!

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The final project…not complete…but, truthfully, they never will be totally complete!

My Early Records were destroyed in “The Great Flood”….

I spent most of my Friday night reading some of the most vile, vindictive, and malicious comments I have ever read on a Genealogy-themed Facebook page in quite a while.  I still can’t believe that people can be so mean and hateful to people they have never met in their lifetime.  People calling each other names….arguing over who said what and how it had a nasty “tone” to it…and honestly, one of the nicest comments was “Prove it, LIAR”.  All these nasty comments were regarding sourcing your genealogy files and exactly how far back someone can really trace their family history.

I’m not the type of person that wants to brag about how far back I’ve traced my family.  Who cares if I have found royal blood in my family line?  Who cares if I’m related to someone famous?  Who cares if I have skeletons in my family closet?  It doesn’t make me a good genealogist to have more generations than someone I’ve never met.  What makes me a good genealogist is how accurate my tree is, and how I backup my findings.   These petty competitions between people, to the point of verbal bashing, is crazy!

I am very proud to say that I can only go back a few generations on my lines.  In fact, I can only go back to my Grandfather on my maternal line.  And I’m not ashamed of it.  I have clues to who his parents were, but no proof.  I have another line that ends with my great grandfather.  He was given up at birth and handed over to the municipality in Southern Italy.  I have no information on his parents, and probably will never be able to find out anything about them as they were not listed on his birth certificate.  And that’s OK with me.  I’m proud of my family lines and nobody can change that.

So what’s the fascination with trying to brag a bit about what you have and what you tell others?   I find nothing wrong it…as long as you don’t feel like you have to rip someone else apart to make yourself feel good.  When you start the verbal bashing it doesn’t make your tree better than anyone else’s…to me it make you a smaller person.  You become nothing but a genealogy bully.  And nobody likes a bully.

One of these genealogy tirades was, honestly, like watching a tennis match.  Back and forth the multiple participants volleyed the comments…I have a line of public officials…my line has a 3 star general…well, my line includes British Royalty…but the best one stated that if “The Great Flood” wouldn’t have happened, she would be able to prove her line back to Adam.  Even though you can get the rest of her line from your nearest Bible.  WHAT?!?!?!  Really?!!?!?!?!  Come on people!!!

I love to look at family trees…anyone’s family tree…not just mine.  Genealogy is more than a hobby to me.  But…COME ON!  This argument, as comical as it was, now had my full attention!  We’re now blaming “The Great Flood” for destroyed records?  I had to go back and re-read the thread just to make sure I wasn’t missing something.  What started as a discussion about citing sources and making sure you have proper verification, has now turned into a shouting match online about Noah’s Ark!  Some people never cease to amaze me!

Do yourself and everyone that views your tree a favor…make sure you have backup to the claims in your lines.  Don’t let it get out of hand by “tracing your ancestors” back to Noah and the Ark and then tossing a Bible at the nay-sayers as proof of the rest of your line, because “The Great Flood” destroyed the rest of your documents.   Use your Family Bible to gather information, not as a source of Biblical Writing that proves you’re related to Adam and Eve.

Document your sources….for yourself…for your family…and for future generations!  I’m heading back over to Facebook now…I just saw a thread about cleaning headstones and the flames are flying yet again.  I think I’m going to pop some popcorn…it just might be a double feature!

Happy Mother’s Day…A Genealogical Tribute

Genealogists love moms….we just hate their Maiden Names!  Mom’s are VERY important but also can be very elusive.  We spend more time looking for the “Mom’s” then anyone else…SOMETIMES!

I want to take a moment to thank all the mom’s in my family tree…in my direct lines…and indirect lines.  To my mom, my Grandma and Nani, and to the great grandma’s, great great grandma’s, aunts, etc. that are part of me…Happy Mother’s Day.  Some of you I had the pleasure to meet in person, and some of you I have had the pleasure of getting to know thru documents, census’, and vital records.  Your strength, courage, and determination make my family tree stronger than diamonds…and just as valuable.

So…Talking about moms…how do find them?  Maiden names sometimes are the hardest names to track.  How to we track the female ancestors that mean so much to us and our family trees?

Sometimes we get lucky and can find Marriage Records online…sometimes we can’t.  Depending on the family, sometimes the clues to the missing Maiden Names are in the middles names of the children.  Have you ever wondered why some of the children had really strange middle names?  This could be why.  Those strange names could be the maiden name of mom, or grandma.  If you hit a brickwall with mom, see if you can find the middle names of her children.  It might give you a few clues!

A few other places I have found maiden names are in cemetery records, census records (you never know when a mother or father-in law might be living with the family), land records, wills, church records, and old newspapers.  Also check with local libraries….they have a wealth of information available to the public.  If you don’t ask the right questions, you will never get the right answers.

Keep looking for those moms…their maiden names are out there. It just might take a little bit more work to find them!

Happy Mother's Day, Mom! I miss you and love you!

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom!
I miss you and love you!