Thursday, June 17, 2010

Say cheese!!

The last few days I've been sick, so now that I'm finally on the mend again, I can blog about my favorite topic - genealogy!!

A few weeks ago, Lisa and I took a trip up to my grandparents' house in Marysville. My grandma has three old photo albums full (and I mean full) of pictures, over 550 pictures between the two books I've already scanned and identified. On this trip, my grandma spent about 4 hours identifying people in these old photos while I took notes, and we finished going through the whole album! We'd already spent 2 or 3 previous trips on this same book, so it was no small task going through those pictures and pointing out who was who. But now the third album was all identified, and just needed to be scanned. From May 25th to today, I've scanned 71 pages of pictures, each page having an average of 6-12 pictures. I've still got another 12 pages to go, but I'm on the downhill side of it finally. Right now I'm scanning full pages (well, technically it's half pages, as the pages are too big to fit completely on my scanner), and later on I'll go into Paint.Net or something and pull out (digitally speaking) each picture into its own file. Here's a sample of what I'm working with:

These pictures are from a lumber mill my great-grandpa worked on back in the 40s with his brothers. It's been amazing to go through these photos and get to see some of my ancestors - my great-great-grandma Mary Hoffman, her daughters Rosie (my great-grandma) and Mary and their families, my great-grandpa Charles Wagner and his brothers and their families, and their cousins and their families - and get to see little snippets of the times they lived in. Maybe someday I'll have someone help me identify the makes and models of the cars and trucks they drove, and other neat little details like that.

The main thing I have to figure out - how do I preserve these in a way my kids and others will be able to see them and appreciate them? I might burn them to CDs and send them as Christmas gifts or something. I can't just hoard them on my hard drive - they don't do many people much good that way. Maybe I'll have Lisa help me on that one. She's the artistic one of the two of us. We'll see. For now, I have to get them digitized. One step at a time.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Mawwaige, twue wove

I've known for a while that FamilySearch has other websites out there besides the old and sites, but I've rarely ventured to explore them. Well, I've recently decided I have no reason not to see what's there, and would probably benefit from getting to know what they are, what they have, and what's coming out soon. I started with the site, as that's the only one I could remember the URL for off the top of my head. The first site they listed was the FamilySearch beta, which looks like a whole new reimagining of the site, and looks awesome. I tried doing a search for my great-grandma, Augusta Joseph Gibson, and once I narrowed the results down to Montana (where she lived for most of her short life) I was shocked - there was the marriage record of Augusta to her first husband, Charles Staffan!!! Not only that, it gave the names of Charles' parents (including his mom's maiden name), and a different maiden name for Pauline, Augusta's mom - we'd had her name as Pauline Rosen, but this record (made roughly a year after Pauline's death) said Pauline Rozinko. That was very exciting, so I started searching for the marriages of Augusta's siblings Elmer, Pat, and Lydia (Olga was married in Canada), and found them all. Elmer and Pat's marriages still said Rosen or Rozen for Pauline's last name, but Lydia's said Rossanke. With two out of four marriages adding a syllable after Rosen, I think I have good proof that Rosen or Rozen was not the last name of my great-great-grandmother. What it was exactly, I don't know. But I know something I didn't know yesterday when I started - the FamilySearch website has stuff even doesn't have.

I kept searching and found the marriages of at least 10 or 15 more couples in my family tree, some dates I had and confirmed, some dates that I didn't have at all. I even found the marriage record of my great-grandma Rosie Sitzman Wagner's aunt Rose Sitzman, and (best of all) Rose's husband's first name - William. All my grandma knew was his last name, Fredrickson, so this was awesome to find. I found a few more Sitzman marriages too, which is fantastic because the Sitzmans have been very difficult to find records on. My newspaper breakthrough last time, and the marriage record breakthrough last night, have really helped make a few cracks in that brick wall. There's still a LOT of work to do on that side (the marriage records grossly conflict each other in terms of my great-grandma Rosie's father's name, for example) but the fact that I now know records EXIST, that I can find them, and (hopefully) begin to unravel this mystery is very exciting. :)

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. :)