Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Genealogy Blog Party - Thankful

The theme for the Genealogy Blog Party this month is thankful. The genealogy resource I'm thankful for today is mailing lists. One of the things I love most about the genealogy community is how much we help each other out, how often random strangers will come upon a request for help, drop what they're doing, and jump in with both feet to help someone find the answers and info they're looking for. I see this all the time in the mailing lists I've been on. Here are some examples.

The DNA-Newbie mailing list is where I turned for help when I first got into genetic genealogy five years ago. I met awesome people like CeCe Moore who answered my questions, pointed me to books and other resources, and helped me understand what I was looking at with all these test results.

The Alsace-Lorraine mailing list helped me find one of the most amazing websites out there, with literally hundreds of years of documents of my German/French ancestors from this part of Europe. Below are some of the ancestors I was able to find with these records.

The German Bohemia mailing list has some of the nicest, most helpful people on the planet. They answered my questions, dug into social and political history to explain obscure words, and helped me decipher the difficult German script, an example of which is below.
The Quebec genealogy mailing list helped me identify where in Quebec my French-Canadians were from, and helped me learn to navigate the French-Canadian records on Ancestry and other sites. Their help was crucial in solving a DNA problem I had with my French-Canadian ancestors, and finding the info would have taken much, much more time without their help.
The German-Volhynia-Poland mailing list helped me find records of my Germans in Russia, which led to one of the biggest brick wall busts in my genealogy career so far. I never would have guessed to look in church records written in Polish, kept by the Russian government, to look for my German ancestors without their expertise.
I'm sure there are others, but those are the ones that come to mind right away. I am a firm believer in the power of mailing lists, so if you are stuck on a line or an ancestor, find a mailing list that covers your topic. There may be someone with the answers you need just waiting to help! 

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Family History Month - post 20

A few years ago, I came across a site that had a series of pictures where families would try to recreate an old family photo. They were hilarious - photos of dads with babies on their lap became grandpas with their grown children sitting on them, grown men playing with rattles and binkies, etc. I wanted to try that with my siblings, and make a humorous gift for my mom for mother's day a few years ago.

First, the original photo:

It's a cute picture, taken over 30 years ago. For reference, I'm the buck-toothed boy on the top left. Now my sibs live a ways away, my sister in Seattle (not too far, only 30 miles) and my brother in Iowa while going through med school. But they were able to recreate their photos and send them to me, which led to the creation of this masterpiece:

When mom saw this picture, she laughed louder and longer than I have ever heard her laugh. It was so absolutely awesome. Hands down, this is in the top 3 of the best ideas I've ever had. 

Family History Month - post 19

This picture is from a few years ago. it was taken at my aunt's house while a bunch of us were gathered together for something (I can't recall what exactly).  The cool thing about this picture is these kids are all from the next generation of my family - my kids and my cousins' kids. I don't get to see my cousins often, so it's fun to see how our kids all play together when we do have a mini-reunion. 

I hope we can find ways to help them all keep in touch as they grow up.

Family History Month - post 18

My 18th post for Family History Month should have been made on the 18th, but as you've noticed, I'm running a little behind. October 18th is my son Levi's birthday. He would have been one year old last Wednesday.

So much has changed in the year since he was born. We got to experience the craziness of trying to do things with four little kids, carrying diaper bags for two kids in diapers, creating Halloween costumes for six people, all of it. And we loved it. Every minute of it.

That sweet little boy made everyone happier just by virtue of being there. No matter how tired or grumpy I was when he needed feeding or changing at 2am, when I saw his little face, all of that just melted away, and I was ready to do anything for that little boy.

At his funeral, I remember having this sense of peace, and comfort, and actually a feeling joy at being able to do something to commemorate my little boy, and being amazed at how many people there were. I loved having my family there, especially since Lisa's sister and mom flew in, as did my brother and his whole family. It was a feeling of love and togetherness that we sorely needed, and just reveled in while they were all there.
Since then, the outpouring of love and help and comfort we received was overwhelming. Friends, family, coworkers, and complete strangers stepped in to carry us through those days and weeks. It was very humbling to be the recipient of so much love and attention.

I can honestly say that in many ways I'm a different person than I was a year ago. My priorities have shifted, I cut out a lot of stuff in my life that wasn't making me happy, or helping me become who I wanted to be. The grief I felt is still there, but it's morphed into something different - I still miss my son more than I can say, but I have a deeper assurance that death is not the end of life, that there is more to come and I will be reunited with Levi again.

This experience has also shown me something I never expected to see - the unrelenting goodness in so many people. The people that still reach out, that leave small expressions or tokens of understanding and sympathy, that lend a hand to others despite their own heart-wrenching sorrows. This kind of stuff doesn't make into the news, but it should, because it just builds your soul to see and experience that kind of love from other people. Just knowing that there are so many good people out there is hugely comforting.

It has been amazing to see the impact of Levi's life in my life, the lives of my family, friends, the kind souls at the Tears Foundation, and many others. Even more amazing is that the ripples are still continuing - people are still reaching out, blessing others, helping others, because of him. If one little boy, who lived a total of 66 days, can have that kind of impact, imagine what all of us could do, all the lives we could touch and help and lift. I think I can make that my gift to Levi - taking what I felt when I was around him, and helping others feel it.

Family History Month - post 17

I posted earlier that I had two pictures of my 5th-great-grandfather, Lewis Parks Shute. I found that I actually have three. However, I think two of them are duplicates. The more I look at them, the more I think they are the same picture. The top one has actually been flipped horizontally, for easier comparison.
I've always wondered, did he do his hair that way on purpose, or was he making the best of what he had left?

Family History Month - post 16

On July 30, 2011, my cousin Jimmy Pushard passed away at his home. It was sudden and unexpected, especially since I had been chatting with him on Facebook just a few days before. I was shocked and saddened, as Jimmy was such a wonderful guy, so nice and friendly, always smiling. He'd even emailed me not long before he passed away, and asked me to do some family history research on his Pushard ancestors. It was the first time an extended family member (not a parent or grandparent) had ever asked me to look into their family history, and it was really neat to be able to find info for him and share it with him.

He loved being outdoors, and while most guys build their "mancave" in a basement or garage, his was an actual cave. His wife Danyl passed away back in the 90s, and their son is now married and raising the cutest little boy. I have no doubt Jimmy would be proud of his son and the family he is raising, and would have been the best grandpa to his grandson.
It's hard to believe it's been six years, it still feels like it was more recent than that. Of the more than 20 first cousins I have, Randi, Arianne, and Jimmy are the only ones that have passed away. I haven't lost any aunts, though I have lost one uncle, two grandparents and two great-grandparents. But to have lived almost 40 years, I'd say I've gotten off lucky that my losses only go that far.

Family History Month - post 15

This post is a special one, dedicated to two cousins of mine, two of a set of triplets, that I never got to meet. Their names are Randi Katherine Gibson, and Arianne Rose Gibson. They were born July 10, 1977 in Vancouver, Washington. Randi passed away the following day, and Arianne two days after her sister. I've known of them for many years, but today I went to see if I could find records of their brief lives. I found death records for both of them in Washington state, but also in Oregon state, which surprised me. I guess because Vancouver is so close to the Washington/Oregon border, it was recorded in both states. The records below are from the Oregon indexes.

Having lost a child myself, I can't imagine the pain of losing two little ones so soon after their birth. Luckily the third daughter survived to adulthood, as did the daughter who followed her. But I wanted to be sure that my cousins Randi and Arianne are not forgotten, and are remebered along with the other relatives that are waiting for us on the other side. Like someone said, history remembers the famous, genealogy remembers everyone.