Thursday, June 3, 2010

A Paradigm Shift

How do you say that word anyways? Pair-a-dime? Para-dijum? Oh well. I've undergone a big shift in my thinking the last couple weeks. Maybe not so much in the way I think, but the focus of what I think about. This blog has pretty much been relegated to whatever political-themed rant was on my mind, and it has served as a pretty good vent for my frustrations (and they are many) with the political landscape. But no longer! Well, one or two may slip in, I'm not making any solemn oaths on that. :)

I would much rather rant about my fascination with genealogy! It's so much more interesting and worthwhile, and less frustrating than trying to figure out how our president and his Obamatrons are trying to screw up our country today. I've had a lot of success lately in learning more about my family, and trying to piece together its amazing, intricate, and still hard-to-find history. A couple of the successes I've had lately -

1. Met a cousin (third cousin once removed, to be accurate) named Jim Joseph. He's on my dad's dad's side, lives up in Canada and has all kinds of information about my Joseph ancestors (my g-g-grandfather Samuel Joseph was a German from Russia, and his daughter Augusta Joseph was my grandpa's mom, and the source of my middle name, Joseph). He's got oodles of info on the Josephs, including pictures!! I love old pictures, and seeing my family in them is a double treat.

2. Newspapers! I'd always figured old newspapers would never have info on my family that would be useful, but boy was I wrong. I found a boatload of articles on this week about my dad's mom's side, the Sitzmans, and their relatives. It's been hard to find any real records on the Sitzmans, so this was awesome, almost miraculous, to find that many newspaper articles - obituaries, funeral details, etc. Also found some articles on the Joseph side too - notices of birthday parties, notices of the family traveling on the coast, even mentions of long lost relatives finding each other after decades of separation. Also, thanks to some awesome librarians in California, I have a copy of a newspaper article detailing how one ancestor on my mom's dad's side was killed by a train, and how he was probably broke at the time and walking between towns looking for work at the time of his death (sad story!). I am now a big fan of old newspapers.

3. My favorite genealogical staple is the census, and it has been especially good to me the last few weeks. I've been reviewing my notes and updating my file with EVERYTHING I have, making sure every mention of every person in my file is noted. I've seen there were a lot of gaps in the census records I had, so back to I went, and found a bunch of them! I'm probably still missing a few, but a new type of census was opened recently there, a non-population census. They took down details of the farm or business or whatever of the head of the household or farm or business, and in my ancestors' case, it was farms. I learned all about Andrew Olson's farm - that in 1879, he owned 40 acres of land valued at $480, produced 40 tons of hay, owned 6 horses, 6 milk cows, 4 pigs and 6 chickens, grew 10 bushels of Irish potatoes and 100 lbs of tomatoes, and sold 450 lbs of butter and 18 dozen eggs. He was a Norwegian immigrant who had been in the States for about 25 years at that point, so he seems to have done pretty well for himself. Way to go Andrew!

Now wasn't that better than politics? I thought so, too. I'll be writing more about future success stories in my genealogical adventures, so stay tuned! And if you've actually read this whole post, I owe you a dozen eggs or a pig, you pick. :)

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