Genealogy Blog Party: I’ve GOTT a funny feeling

Little Bytes of LifeI’m joining the Genealogy Blog Party at Little Bytes of Life. The theme for this month is Time Travel to an Ancestor!

  • Who is the ancestor you will meet?
  • What question(s) do you need him/her to answer?
  • Is there a problem you can help your ancestor solve?
  • Will you reveal your true identity to your ancestor? If so, how will your visit impact the future? (Remember what happened to Rose when she went back to meet her father.)
  • Will you bring your ancestor to the future to meet his/her descendants? What will be the outcome, if you do?

There are a few ancestors I would like to meet, but I’ll start with my second great-grandmother Mrs. Elizabeth E. Chase née Gott born in 1854.

What question(s) do you need him/her to answer?
My questions for her would be rather uncomfortable to ask a stranger. I can’t think of a polite way to ask her, how did you met your husband and were you the “other woman” for the first ten or so years of your relationship?

You see, she did not marry the father of her son until he was about ten and on their marriage registration he listed their marriage as his second. Granted, the marriage following her death was also listed as his second, but I digress. There are other pressing questions…

Why was your first son born in West Springfield Massachusetts when you lived in Lowell Massachusetts at the time? Who did you stay with? Did you have family there? Did your husband, who was not yet your legal husband, have something to do with the deaths of the following three children who all died before their first birthday? I realize infant mortality was high at the time, but I ask because before you died you took your eleven year-old son and ran away from home.


Your husband hired a detective to find you but the detective quit after the first day telling the newspaper that you had good reason to leave. Your brother also told the paper that you were afraid of your husband, but had arranged for a meeting between you and your husband for the week before body was found. A meeting which, as it turns out, you were unable to attend. The discovery of your body made the fourth and fifth pages of the Boston Daily Globe, and your story was covered by a few other papers. You were found drowned. Your body was removed from the Tremont canal and according to the undertaker had been in the water for a week.

From page 5 of The Boston Daily Globe—Thursday, October 11, 1894:

It Is still a mystery where Mrs Chase was drowned, although her body was found in the Tremont canal.

All the canals were drawn Sunday, and superintendent Cheney says It would be impossible for the body to be concealed at any point without being brought to the surface by the swift currents.

Mrs Chase, it is thought, may have been temporarily insane as tho result of worriment.

The undertaker says her body must have been In the water a week.

From page 4 of The Boston Daily Globe—Thursday, October 11, 1894:

District officer Neal of Lynn was In Lowell this morning to make inquiries regarding Mrs Chase’s death. It is understood, he was satisfied there was nothing which required the attention of the police.

Is there a problem you can help your ancestor solve?
I can’t help the feeling that maybe Mr. Chase wasn’t such a great guy. In fact to my modern senses, reading between the lines of the many newspaper articles surrounding her death, he seems downright shady. If I could I’d find a way to get her away from him and keep her from falling into the same trap again.

Will you reveal your true identity to your ancestor? If so, how will your visit impact the future?
I think considering my line of questions I would have to reveal my identity to have any hope for answers. If I were successful in saving her from what seems to be an abusive husband maybe she would live a longer life. A life as pleasant and fulfilling as the time she lived in allowed.

Will you bring your ancestor to the future to meet his/her descendants? What will be the outcome, if you do?
No. I’d rather go to her and experience what is now history. I’d also rather not have to reveal that her only child to survive to adulthood died at the age of forty, just as she did.

One last question for you dear Elizabeth…is there somewhere I may find a picture of you? Please.

Perfectly Searchable Private Notes

I am participating in the Dear Myrtle’s study group called GenTools Study Group – This week the homework is to describe what I use to keep track of research results.

Not everything I have is digitized, but I’m working on it. At the very least I make electronic notes that either include scanned images or describe things in my need-to-scan pile like a note card grandma mailed to me several years ago filed in the grandma folder…ok it’s more like the grandma and a-few-other-people bin, but its is over *there* in my office. Under *that*.

For my electronic note taking there are many services such as Evernote and Microsoft OneNote and Google Keep that I could use. I tried a couple of them. I wanted to like them, but they just didn’t fit. They do have some features that my choice does not like clipping, sync anywhere, and integrated sharing. But don’t find those necessary.

  • I have print screen for clipping if a document download isn’t available
  • I only have one laptop. I don’t own a smartphone or tablet. If I happen to find something at my local library, and for whatever reason I detached from the oxygen tank that is my laptop, I email myself through gmail (save email as draft), or put things on a USB stick.
  • If I need to share something I send an email.

What’s Holding Me Back?

tin foil hat
Yes, this is my dog. No, I didn’t torture him as much as that look on his face makes it seem.

Companies merge, change, and drop things all the time. I’m not just talking about the recent announcements from Ancestry that turn the genealogy world on its head for the last few days. I’ve got my eye on you Google. And remember the dot-com bust? I worked as a security guard at a site being repossessed by the bank during that time. Talk about an awkward time and place to work while going to college for a computer degree. But I digress…

The biggest necessity for any software I use is the ability to export outside of the proprietary format which, unless they’ve made changes since I last looked, those three services don’t do. I like being able to just get my stuff and go. Easily. Without hassle. Does that sound too paranoid? *adjusts her tin-foil hat* Let’s just call it future-proofing.

So What Do I Use?

I use a program called XAMPP to turn my Windows laptop into a temporary web server so that I may host WordPress on my laptop and use it like any other self-hosted WordPress blog.  My backups are in the form of an SQL file. It’s neat. Tidy. And simple to take to a new program if the need ever arises.

I could simply have an online WordPress blog and make it private, but I’d rather not pay for another url and hosting service just for my notes. WordPress’ free hosting service has a data storage limit I may soon exceed, and I just like having it on my computer.

Guides for hosting WordPress on your own computer:

I haven’t done this yet, but there is also a way to put it all on pen drive, which will give it almost the same portability as those other options. One thing to note is that using a default installation of XAMPP on a public network isn’t recommended. It’s probably ok, but it’s like leaving the front door of your house unlocked. The odds of something bad happening depends on the neighborhood, but even in a nice neighborhood it’s better to lock the door.

Share a Memory: To Reach Things I Couldn’t

Grandpa was always building things, adding onto my grandparents house, or building an apartment building. He always had a measuring tape hooked on his pants and carpentry pencil in his shirt pocket…along with a pack of Wrigley’s Doublemint Gum. I was with him a lot handing him boards, nails…or just stealing his tape measure and ball cap and being a genuine pain in the butt.

When I would go home I’d take my dad’s tools and build forts in the woods. I don’t remember it but I guess irritated my dad by leaving the tools in the woods often, so for Christmas one year grandpa bought a toolbox filled with my very own tools. Real ones. Of course just to keep things balanced my grandmother bought me a basket filled with sewing supplies.

That summer grandpa cut all the pieces I would need to make about five step tools. He helped me put the first one together. I still have it. – Actually my daughter has it in her room.

the stool grandpa helped me make
This little stool is mine
I use it all the time
to reach things I couldn’t
& some things I shouldn’t

Ezra Chamberlain b1828

I am participating in the Dear Myrtle’s study group called Tracing Immigrant Origins – This week the homework was to find clues in census records that indicate a place of origin.

I’ve been told the Indian princess story, well not really. I was told that my second great-grandmother, Rosamond Chamberlain b1861 in Iowa, rumored to be 1/4 Blackfoot Indian. I cannot find very much on her parents, so far all I know is that her father was born in Canada and mother in Indiana…

1870 United States Census from
United States Census, 1870,” database with images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 28 October 2015), Iowa > Fayette > Westfield > image 39 of 44; citing NARA microfilm publication M593 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.).

Her Father Ezra is listed as being born in Canada and both of his parents are of foreign birth. His wife Hannah was born in Indiana. Neither of her parents were foreign-born. I’m assuming Ann, born in Illinois, is the daughter a daughter of Ezra and Hannah. Then there is a huge age gap and the other three children are born in Iowa. Near the bottom there is an Elias listed in the household who is 75 and born in Canada. Ezra’s father? Both parents of Elias are also of foreign birth. At the very bottom is Leonard, 22, born in Canada and both parents are foreign-born.

I’ve seen an 1860 census with an E B Chamberlain, but I don’t know if it’s the same person. The 1880 census lists all the same birth places. Sometime after that the family moves to Oregon.

Share a Memory: Serious Cards

Every Tuesday was Pinochle day for the Tupin club, hosted at my grandparent’s house. Card playing was a very serious activity. I could make myself seen on Pinochle day but as soon as the cards started to shuffle I was to leave the adults to their game.

On more casual nights when my grandparent’s played Pinochle with my parents I sat on grandpa’s lap and watched. He let me point to which cards I thought he should pass to his partner and which one he should lead or follow with for the tricks. At six it was still to complex a game for me to play on my own against the adults, so grandpa taught me rummy. I wanted to play rummy ALL THE TIME. It became mind numbing for grandpa and so one day he said, “I’m tired of that crap. I’m going to teach you a real game.” And that is the day I learned Cribbage.

It took me a bit to understand his counting. Fifteen-two, Fifteen-four… He didn’t quite explain that the cards added up to fifteen and that it was two points, four points, etc. But after a couple of games I only needed my grandma’s momentary help to figure out what to pass to the kitty on more complex hands, the hands that just make you want to weep a little when you have to break it up and pass good stuff to your opponent.

I memorized all the little rules like the non dealer cuts the pack, the dealer pegs two for “his heels” if a jack turns up. The non dealer counts first. And don’t forget “one for nobs”. We never played to the strict rules that if someone missed points in their hand that the other person pegged them for their own, but aside from that there wasn’t any leniency just because I was seven. I knew it for sure because the day I really kicked grandpa’s butt and double skunked him. He tensed up and his lips tightened. He was a little mad, but then I could see the pride. Buried a little behind the furry, but it was there. “Damn it I taught you too well.” he said.

“Do you want to play another one grandpa?” I asked.

“No I think I’ll take a break.” he said. “Ginny,” he called to my grandma, “she double skunked me!”

Grandpa and I played cribbage all the time. He had a collection of cribbage boards but we only used one at his house, and there was an identical one at his cabin too. Just the plain cheap board. Not the one with one they make with colored stripes over the peg holes, just the plain wood color one. There was also one he made, we used that if we couldn’t find our regular board.

cribbage boad grandpa made
When my grandpa died my aunt searched the house top to bottom to try and find the cribbage board we used all the time, but she couldn’t find it. She sent me the one he made instead.

Share a Memory: Zen Shoe Shopping Grandpa

I’m not one that has rows and rows or shoes in my closet, but for some reason, perhaps the importance impressed upon me of the event, I was very particular about the shoes I wanted for my first communion. I had somewhat easily found the ideal dress, but could not find the perfect looking shoes in my size. I was tall for my age and so the cutesy dainty shoes I sought just didn’t exist for my feet.

While dress hunting I also looked at the available shoes at that store. I think I found the right dress after the second or third place, but it was clear I was going to be picky about the shoes, so my grandpa took me to continue looking. He was a saint. Truly. I felt bad that it took so much time to find, but not bad enough to give up. Grandpa didn’t complain a bit. He simply took me to the next store he could think of when I didn’t find what I wanted. I honestly don’t remember how many shoes stores we went to, but if I were to look up the number of shoe stores in Anchorage Alaska around that time…he probably took me to each one that sold dress shoes for girls.

There is only a group picture of my first communion that I know of and I stood in the back row, so unfortunately I cannot show off the special shoes I finally found. I do remember that I really wanted velvety Mary Jane style black shoes with heart shapes carved out on the top and a bit of a heel.

Me giving grandpa a hug

Share a Memory: Things to Look Forward to

I spent a lot of time with my paternal grandparents as a child. I stayed many nights at their house. My grandma would set up an old army cot at the foot of their bed for me. The cot was musty with hints of motor oil of a motor oil smell. She layered it with sheets, a soft blanket, and for extra added warmth in the winter, an itchy grey wool blanket on the very top.

Before bedtime I would watch grandpa brush his teeth. He could take his whole top row of teeth completely out of his mouth to brush. As a four-year old I was amazed by this. “How do you do that?” I asked him.

“Oh don’t worry,” he said, “you’ll be able to do it soon.” Thinking he meant it was something that required practice, I kept tugging at my teeth. He just laughed.

grandpa with me on his shoulders

Focus. Prioritize. My Ancestors Aren’t Going Anywhere

genealogy do-overI’m still here trudging through it all. I’m in limbo somewhere between week two, three, and maybe a little bit of four. I’m taking it slow and doing a lot of learning. Except for viewing a microfilm I ordered I haven’t done very much research. Ok, I still get distracted by shiny objects but I didn’t add anything to my database…well not the new database anyway. Shush! Old habits are hard to break. Really I’m trying to relax and remind myself – my ancestors will still be there.

Things I’ve done:

  • Filled out a family group-sheet for my family unit
  • Wrote an outline of events in my life
  • I have the documents for my family household in order, and with them have proved I was born and have parents.
  • Some simple goals have been set. I have the marriage documentation for my parents, but I know that they were actually married twice (to each other), so one goal is to find that other documentation and methodically work my way back in time. Some documents I’m simply not going to get access to, but I’m figuring out ways around this as practice. I need the practice for working on my maternal side. It’s not part of the “re-do” it’s a “never-done-it”. I have very little information on my maternal side. I have a couple uncles and a cousin feeding me information which is fantastic. As of now I only have approximations of the years my maternal grandparents were born and died. I did find a very promising marriage record though.
  • Emails outlining group-sheet information were sent out to various family members to look over and verify or change for their own family unit. I listed gaps that I have for some. I’ve only had two responses so far. I know some were busy or out-of-town, so I’m just waiting. Tap tap tap…maybe a bit impatiently, but waiting.
  • Not completely genealogy related, but I found a great website for hooking up with native Spanish speakers to help me learn/practice Spanish in exchange for helping them learn/practice English. My maternal family is mostly all in Mexico, so this will help me communicate with them and write to church parishes etc.
  • I’m really liking the DearMyrtle community. I tune in to her Beginning Genealogy hangout on Wednesdays, GenLaw Study Group on Fridays. On her YouTube channel I found two Mastering Genealogical Proof study groups from a year ago. I’m slowly watching those.

To do:

  • Set up an interview or maybe a series of interviews through Skype or Google+.
  • I have two different search tracking spreadsheets. I need to actually pick one, or meld them together. Either way I need to get into the habit of using one.

Genealogy Do-over: Establishing File System Foundations

genealogy do-over
Is anyone else hyperventilating a little bit? *breathing into a paper bag* I feel like I just left my first-born at daycare for the first time. Monday morning I was over on a web chat and mentioned that I was going to call my “do-over” more of a “spring cleaning” but the more I look at my cobbled-together database the more I see that I do need to just start fresh. I have sources that lead nowhere and sources that only show information was found in a census without a link to the online image containing said information.

I never bothered to learn how to properly do sources with my FamilyTreeMaker2010 software. The only two sources I cited were a book published by a genealogical society and a hand written genealogy book from my second great-grandmother, both are in my grandmother’s possession. I wrote those sources out in full bibliography style in the notes section of each person to which they applied. I had no idea how to cite birth, census, draft, or death records. Those types of sources were never covered in school.

For Christmas I bought myself RootsMagic7. Not that I think it’s better than other genealogy software, but I like that I can get “light bulbs” from FamilySearch and MyHeritage. I’ll keep FTM2010 for as long as it holds up just for another set of easy hints. Of course it’s all those hints that had me fall off the do-over wagon. I’ve been itching to research for the 52 ancestors in 52 weeks challenge. It’s probably a good thing that the ancestor I’m working on is such a challenge.

But I digress, I’m doing the full do-over. And I promise to be good from here on out. No research until it’s allowed.

Things I’ve done:

  • I have set up my digital file system. Inside my genealogy folder I have a Documents, Pictures, Resources, Templates, and Work in Progress folder. Documents and pictures are self-explanatory. The resources folder is for the digital books I’ve downloaded. Templates is for the untouched research log and census master log. The work in progress folder will have individual folders for each person within a group that I’m researching.
  • I have settled on a file naming convention for the records I’ve downloaded. This I picked up from Diana Ritchie at the do-over Facebook group, “Persons name then the year that person was born and then the year of the document and document type: LastFirstbxxxxYYYYDeathCert”. I’ll list females by their maiden name. One do-over group participant mentioned listing married names after the maiden name, but I have one person I’ve been told may have married 8 or 9 times. That would be one long file name! Not all the marriages were formal documented types, but still. For the people I don’t have a birth year listed I tend to have an approximate year so for those I instead of “b” I may do “bAbt” or I may use death date.
  • I also found a naming convention for photos that I like – suggested by another do-over group member, Emily Moore.
  • I bought a couple of file bins, hanging folders, plastic sleeves, and labels so that I may organize the minimal hard copy documents in my possession which currently live in the envelopes used to mail the items to me. I’m not color coding anything. I’ll go with the excuses – what if the descendant I leave this all to is color blind? The real excuse being that it would irritate me to no end if I chose colors that will become hard to find or discontinued and I wind up buying new colors that are close to the original but not close enough.

Work still in progress:

  • I’m learning my new database tool, RootsMagic7. Specifically watching a video called, “Sources, Citations and Documentation with RootsMagic”. It’s about an hour and a half and I seem to only get 15 minutes at a time to watch it, but that’s ok. It gives it time to gel.
  • I need to take a close look at the research log and census master logs as they were created by others for their needs and the census one is customized to England. I’ll probably keep that and label it for that country, and customize a copy for the United States.
  • I’m still stumped with how to handle a naming convention for census records. I really like the idea of going into a folder and being able to see, by the naming convention, all the records listed for a given person, but to make 12 copies of one digital file for a large family seems ridiculous. In my tree there is at least one instance of children from a family being split up between aunts and uncles. That makes it difficult to keep just one record under the head of household and still keep track of children separated from their parents.

Genealogy Deep Clean

Up until last year I was entirely self-taught. Though I never checked for sources within it, I thought the book I treasured and drew up my first family tree from was just as good as collecting birth and death records. I didn’t even see all the value in census records. I’ve already owned up to it, but as I said in my first blog post, I also downloaded other trees. Shameful, I know.

I had a grand idea of a “Genealogy Do-Over” before seeing Thomas MacEntee’s post. It began last year, that magical year, I discovered a genealogy conference hosted in my own little town. I learned so much about primary sources, citing sources, and just how much I was discarding when I only glance at census records. I kicked myself repeatedly over all of it.

The blog post of a paternal great-grandfather is my first attempt at using what I learned. That post alone had more sources cited than the rest of my entire database. You can’t see it, but I really am hanging my head in shame as I type this.

I’m not going to toss out my database, though I am considering a minty-fresh new database. I may use the old one as a guide of sorts. If I get some of the things I added to my Christmas list I may even do it with some new software. The move I’m going to make probably isn’t considered a “do-over” more like a deep cleaning. A very thorough scrubbing. But I’ll be following Genealogy Do-over. I’m very interested in learning new techniques. I tend to bounce from limb to limb of the tree, so setting goals and tracking research are of particular interest to me now.

Personal Genealogy Blog and Photo Restoration

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