Monday, March 29, 2010

Home Decorating - by a Genealogist

Well you are probably scratching your head wondering, "How does someone obsessed with family history decorate?"  OK, probably not but I figured I would show you anyway. 

Lets start with the dining room.  Some people might think it a bit strange to have pictures of tombstones hanging up near a dining table.  I believe tombstones are "art" in a way and a lasting memorial to all the ones we love.  The small collection of gravestone pictures are from both my family and my husbands.  The heart shaped stone in the middle is for my father-in-law who only lived to be 26 years old before he was taken away from his family to be with our heavenly father. You will see him in the top left picture playing with his train set.  That is one thing my husband remembers about him.  His love of trains. He shares the stone with his father who passed away eleven years later. The young man in the picture below my father-in-law was his older brother Michael Reilly.  Mike passed away at a young age also.  He was only 19 years old when he died.  I just couldn't imagine being their parents watching their two young sons die before they really had a chance at life.  I pray all the time that I will never have to deal with that heartache.

The next spot is my "reading area"  it is in the room next to the dining room.  I picked up this wonderful "FAMILY" picture at Boscovs for only $17 and thought it would be a perfect addition to my reading room.  Yes, on the floor next to my chair is the doggie bed.  They just have to be by me at all times so they get their own little spot.  You say, "What does a genealogist read?"  Well, reference books on genealogy, of course.    also have a good amount of history books to help place my ancestor in certain time periods.  My imagination sometimes runs wild thinking about how gg-grandpa or ggg-grandma fit in to certain eras.  That side table is also a file cabinet.  I keep all the "Ancestors" I am researching at the moment in that drawer so I can pull them out and look over the notes and sources I have on them.

The rest of the wall displays are throughout my house.  On top of the piano you will see pictures of my son and nephew along with pictures of me and hubby when we were little.  Oh yeah, can't forget "Hamburger" the fish.  Johnny named him, what a silly name for a fish.  I am not very artistic so I use decals on the wall to imitate painting or stenciling.
My "Family marriage" wall ends with present generation with hubby and I in the middle.  Our parents are next up, grandparents and then great grandparents.  I didn't have wedding photos for everyone but dug up the couples pictures I was looking for to include on my wall.  I do have a few more I would like to add.  I am afraid it would overcrowd the wall so I might start another collection of the older generations. 

We have been in this house for 3 years now.  I am still not finished with all the rooms.  It takes me a while to decide on furniture, carpeting, etc.  Every room will be decorated with personal meaning and family.  I plan to decorate my husbands office with a large "Antique" world map.  He travels a lot with business and this way he can mark all the countries and states he has been.  He is also a marathon runner and I plan make a few shadow boxes to display his medals, certifcates, finish line pictures, runners bibs, etc.    We just picked out the furniture we were getting just have to find a truck to borrow to pick it up.  I also have the area rug picked out just need to have it delivered as well.

That is my home decorating for now.  I do have a few other "family" walls and such but I didn't want to completely put you to sleep. 

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

New family genealogy troubles.

Well, as you know from a few posts back my hubby's cousin is getting into the "genealogy thing."

She emailed me last night saying, "I think you have the wrong Henrietta for my Pop, Joe's mom.  She died in 1985 and her last name was Coffee at the time."  (She had remarried and her new husband was Joseph Coffee.)  She goes on to say that she attended the funeral in 1985 and the last name "Zeigler" was never mentioned.  I thought to myself, She was being buried as a Coffee not as a Zeigler.  Plus, cousin was just a child then, so how much did she remember.  I know I don't remember much of my great-grandma's funeral.

So she was wondering how come I had Joseph Reilly's mom listed as Henrietta Zeigler?  For she never heard that name so it can't be the right name.

She also saw in a 1920 Newark, NJ census a Joseph Reilly married to a Helen and they had one child Edward.  She was sure that had to be the correct family since Pop had a brother Edward.

It took a lot of self control and calming down before I wrote her back.  How dare she question my work?  She is only a newbie. Ok, I know I have to get over that.  I can really be a bratt at times.

I scanned and forwarded a copy of Pop's (Joseph Reilly) death certificate which had his parents names listed.  His mother was Henrietta Zeigler.  The informant was none other than........... dear cousins, MOM.  I said, "Maybe you should ask your mom what she might know."  I then sent her a copy of the 1920 Census page I had from Newark NJ.  The family highlighted was Head:  Joseph, Wife: Henrietta, Son:  Joseph, Son: Edward. 

What dear cousin forgot to remember is, we can't make the family history up from stories and our memories.  How many times are our memories incorrect in some way.  I then had to mention there are probably 50 different Joseph Reilly family's in Newark at that time.  Most of them had at least one son with the same name.  Also we need to keep in mind birth order, Joseph was older then Edward but still a small child and would be with the family.  We need to be more selective at which family we claim as ours.

This morning I got a response email saying, "If the Death Cert. says that is her name it has to be true."  You know me I wrote another long response letting her know Public Records are sometimes wrong.  Records are only as good as the people that gave the information can remember or want you to know.  That is why we should always check multiple records. 

I had to admit I didn't look into this woman very much - I was to busy focusing on others, that happens.   I filled out and mailed a request letter for Henrietta's SS-5 form first thing this morning.  Hopefully, this will clear things up and also give us her parents names. 

That is all I have to say for now.  Helping a friend with a 20 year old Brick Wall.  I remember before I even started researching and was just a kid she was trying to find these people.  I used to tag along.  Yeah, she is 25 years older than me.  I have a thing with having older friends.  I guess, I always related better with people my parents or grandparents ages.  My husband tells me, I am an 84 year old woman in a 34 year old body. LOL.

Next in line please!

Well it has been a few weeks since I was contacted by Matt's boss to do his family research.  I was excited another "genealogist" is being born.  I have gotten a few generations back on his mom's side since she had more information to work with in her obituary.  It had parents names, etc.  I know he really wants me to do his dad's side.  He really wants me to look into those Irish roots that he wants to be proud of. 

Well, I have asked him and his brothers multiple times for their dad's parents names and dates of birth etc.  Heck I would be happy with names at this point.  No response from anyone.  So I am putting this little project on the back burner.

Matt asked me last night if I had done anything on their dad's side.  How can I?  They gave me no information.  I am not good at make believe and writing children's books with fictional characters so I am putting it aside and focusing on my own family troubles.

People just don't understand the hard work it can take to pull together a family history.  My husband and I have been married almost 13 years and he still doesn't get it.  He sees me going to the library, court houses, hunting for old cemeteries, etc. and still doesn't understand.  So I guess, how can I expect others who have no experience with genealogy to get it.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Moving on to the next Generation - PERRY

Well, I am moving on to the next generation back for the Jacqueline Perry Corr I mentioned in the last post. With her parents names in hand (thanks to her son, Joe)I am moving on.

Charles Boston "JACK" PERRY was born July 26, 1908 in Pennsylvania and died April 3, 1983. His wife Josephine H. KUBIC (or KUBICKI) was born in March 19, 1910 and died March 4, 1978.

I was able to find their tombstone at Cherry Grove Cemetery, Sullivan County, PA. This helps me prove the years are correct for their birth and death.


In 1930 you find the happy couple living in Lower Merion, Montgomery County, PA.  They are listed in the Federal Census as being 21 and 20 years of age only being married for about a year.  Charles name was listed as "Jack." Don't you just love when they give nicknames on the census.  There ages at first marriage were 20 and 19.  The census was taken in April 1930 and their daughter Jacqueline wasn't born until June so it was just the two of them in the household.  Jack's occupation is listed as being a "Dairyman" at a farm.

I was able to find them both listed on on the Social Security Death Index.  This index confirms the whole date of their birth and deaths.

I am now on the hunt for obituaries and/or birth announcements for their daughter to confirm the connection even more.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Trusted to take on a New Family Project

I received a phone call the other day and was asked to please help a business partner of my husbands dig out his family tree. His brother just signed up for and is lost on what to do. Yes, I took on the challenge.

Step one: I have a copy of their father’s obituary, he just passed away a few weeks back. From that I was able to get his full name, James Joseph Corr, birthdate, where he grew up, school he attended, surviving siblings names, wifes name (she passed away in 1999 – have to look for her obituary), all 9 of his children’s names.

Step two: I enter all obit information into my Family Tree Maker Program – I love this program it helps me keep everything organized and prints out great family group sheets, charts, etc.

Step three: Look for Mrs. Corr’s obituary. Found it in the Philadelphia Inq. Archives online. Her name was Jacqueline Perry Corr. She was born and raised in PA. WAIT I have Perry’s in my family from PA. Now I am really excited. Can’t get carried away – just can’t.

Step four: Hunt down every bit of information I can on this couple. What did I find?
• Obituary for both James and Jacqueline
• World War II enlistment records for James
• SSDI index entry for both. Confirms their birth and death dates.
• Checked the High schools that both had listed as attended in their
obits. They are on the lists of alumni. James has a new “in
memory” page on his schools site.
• Checked the alumni list for Manhatten College – found James Corr
on the list.
• Was able to get Jacqueline’s parents names from her son Joe. Will
move on from there. Still waiting for James parent’s names – I
know they immigrated to this country from Ireland.

With Jacqueline’s parents names in hand I will try to move on a few generations back for them. I love that this family is from the area of Pennsylvania I know well. I have spent years researching my mother’s family in the same counties. I will post my finds in a later post. I know I have so many cemetery pictures, town history books, etc. from Luzerne and Columbia Counties in PA – maybe I will find them, crossing my fingers.

Always remember to start with the living first and get all the information you can and then move on to past generations. It is so easy to get excited and jump to conclusions – remember, “Slow and Steady wins the race.”

Friday, March 12, 2010

Accepting new family members in my hunt

I feel like a grumpy old set in their ways grouch. I should be HAPPY to have help in my search of my hubby's family. When I saw his cousin looking and connecting ancestor information from my tree I was excited. I was so happy, someone on his side has crossed over to the "tree world."

I find myself cringing at the content on her new ancestry tree. Is there any proof to what she is gathering? Is she just taking the opinion of other people? Has she entered the "Land of Make Believe" or is she going to take the long hard trail in the "Tree World."

I wrote her an informative and guiding email about the importance of PUBLIC RECORDS, MILITARY RECORDS, CENSUS, LAND RECORDS, WILLS, etc. I mentioned the importance of using these records to form the true and correct relationships in the family. I see she has been an ancestry member for less than a month and has over 500 people in her tree going back hundreds of years.

My husband mentions to me not to worry, "She lists a lot of family members that aren't my relation." I need to remember she has a different grandfather then he did and a lot of the information is on that family.

I still worry about the information she is forming in her tree and am trying so hard not to step in and take over for her. It took me 13 years to get the 1500 people I have in the family line that connects her and my hubby together. I have to bite my tongue and allow her to make her own mistakes and learn to get out of them just like a lot of us end up doing in the beginning of our family research.

Well, at the moment that is all I have to add or vent about. Will post something more productive next time.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Genealogy Sites I use A LOT and other things.

I remember my senior year of high school I worked for Old Bridge Schools in the administration building. There was a tiny room in the back of the building where a lone woman sat all day scanning records to microfilm. I was fascinated with how it was done. I always wanted to learn the process but being a meager co-op student wasn't allowed to see "private" records of other students. I guess they didn't know who I was a new girl to public school who new NO ONE and didn't care about other peoples grades, etc.

I then started my Senior project on Family history and that is when I really fell in love with microfilm. I would spend hours in the East Brunswick library (they had census records - Old Bridge didn't) in front of a microfilm projector. I could honestly say that was my "best friend" that year. Move over Matt I have a date with a projector. Yeah, years later and he still doesn't get the obsession. His loss I guess.

Well with the age of internet we have come a long way. It know seems many towns are making it possible to search records online. Middlesex county, NJ is one of them. They have 1950 - present of land records available on the internet. This is where I find a lot of information on my hubbys family. His family is full of secrets - well they have been exposed. I know everything now :-)... just joking. I did find out a lot that Matt as well as his cousins and aunts did not know. Land records could be a treasure chest of information if you look hard enough. I have only recently discovered this not really giving much thought about them.

You can find maiden names. Names of parents if you did not have them before - when land is left in a will. Names of Uncles and Aunts, brothers and sisters, etc. I found death dates and marriage dates in some records. All have been a wonderful help in filling in the blanks I had on my in-laws.

Some towns have birth indexes and death indexes which are also a wonderful thing to be able to scan through. In both I have found children I never knew existed because they only lived a few months and were then listed on both indexes. In the death index if a certificate can not be found on a person a lot of times it lists cause of death which is always a nice thing to know. When some people die so young it is nice to know why. Influenza, drowning, etc. These are things that aren't in our genes so it helps settle the fear you may have (or I may have) of dying young.

Some wonderful sites that I am a member of (yes you do have to pay) that have many records available are:

Other wonderful sites that are free for all and have been very helpful to me are: LDS site (starting to have some census records) Connecticut site NJ State Archives-have records back to early 1700s PA state Archives Wisconsin Historical Archives American State Papers - great for VERY early settlements

Another site that is great to help as a springboard as where to look is not all links are up to date but there is a bunch of great stuff to find here.

That is all I have to add at the moment, have to bake bread for school bake sale, talk to you soon.

Monday, March 1, 2010

My Zora Johnson, I Think??

Well, after my last post I decided to try again on the next available census. Everyday different companies and organizations are upgrading the indexes and making the images more clearer with all the new technology.

I logged onto, I have a tendancy to go to that research site first. Typed in *ora Johnson, born 1886, Pennsylvania crossed my fingers spun around 3 times and hit enter. I already decided in my head she wouldn't be there because she never is and I check at least once a week on my few "missing person" cold cases.

What was this? Jora Johnson listed in Milton, Northumberland County, PA. It was just one county over from where I knew she was 10 years earlier. I clicked on the name to bring up the page and my eyes saw "Johnson Zora, 36 years old, single, relation to house: servant, birthplace pennsylvania, occupation Cook at Riverside hotel. Then if you look up a couple lines at the head of the household he was the owner of the Riverside Hotel. So my heart started beating fast, I looked at the clock it was only 9:30pm so I called my mom figuring she was up. She logged on to her computer and brought up the same record and was starting to do the happy dance herself since we both REALLY think this could be Zora.

We then checked the 1930 census and the family is no longer there. Mr Springer who was the head of household had sold the hotel and was now an owner of a gas station. The hotel had changed hands.

I am now going to have to check city directories for every year following the 1920 to follow the owner and his family to see when it was the may have stopped living and working in the town of Milton, Northumberland County, PA.

Well, there she is listed on line 92 of the above page in the 1920 Federal Census, what are your thoughts? Do you believe this could be my Zora or have a just snapped?