Archive for the ‘Geneablogging Memes’ Category

52 Weeks to Better Genealogy Challenge #4: Inter-Library Loan

Thursday, January 28th, 2010

This week Amy Coffin asks us to:

Learn about your local public library’s inter-library loan (ILL) policy. Pick a genealogy-related book that you want to read that is not in your library’s collection. Ask the librarian how to request the book from another library.

I’m feeling a little lazy tonight (and it’s been about 15 degrees out every night this week here in Wilmette) so I decided to just fulfill this assignment online. The Wilmette Public Library website lets me scan both their local catalog and a broader selection of materials available at other Illinois libraries.

As mentioned in my previous 52WtBGC posts, the WPL — my local community library — has a good selection of popular genealogy how-to books and local resources that I haven’t even touched yet. But after a brief scan of the online catalog, I picked a book that looked like a good candidate to borrow via ILL: Elizabeth Powell Crowe’s Genealogy Online, eighth edition.


As you can see, lots of libraries near me have copies of this book on their shelves. I clicked on the “Place Hold” button to submit an ILL request. I then entered my wife’s library card number and password (mine wasn’t handy for some reason) and that was it. She’ll be notified via email when the book arrives.

As Amy mentions, ILL is a great way to expand the reach of the materials you can access from your local library. And it’s a lot cheaper than just ordering the books I want from Amazon, which unfortunately tends to be my default search strategy. Thanks, Amy, for helping me build some more frugal research habits!

Wordless Wednesday: Wayne Clinch

Wednesday, January 27th, 2010

Wayne Clinch (infant) with Unknown Family Members, circa 1938

Wayne Clinch (infant) with Unknown Family Members, circa 1938

Tombstone Tuesday: William Bielby

Tuesday, January 26th, 2010

lyonsville-0021My Bielby ancestor, Thomas A. Bielby, is buried in the Oriskany Cemetery in Oriskany, Oneida County, New York, but his brother, Robert P. Bielby, moved to the Chicago area about 1850 and is buried in the Lyonsville Cemetery, Lyons, Cook, Illinois. (We made the same upstate New York to Illinois move about ten years ago.)

I thought it would be enjoyable to focus on the Bielby line today and so I looked back through the photos we had taken on a Sunday afternoon cemetery trip to Lyons some years ago and chose one to post—Wm Bielby, died Feb. 28, 1869. Then I went searching to find out how he fits into the family.

Checking for “william bielby” with a death date of “1869″ and a death place of “cook, illinois, usa” I found nothing. Too specific. But searching without a place of death gave me a number of family tree results.

From a OneWorldTree entry at Ancestry, I learned that he was probably William Reilly Bielby, born 15 January 1807 in New Malton, Yorkshire England, died 28 February 1869 in Downers Grove, DuPage, Illinois. From the birthplaces of the children listed on that tree, it appeared that he, too, had lived in Oriskany, arriving between 1830 and 1832 and remaining in New York until at least 1850. Likely a relative of some sort. Then I located an Ancestry public member tree by GaPeachFlaGator that suggests he was a brother to my ancestor, born between Thomas and Robert.

So two of my ancestor’s brothers came to Illinois. How had I missed that before? It’s a find of sorts and a delightful reminder of how many discoveries there are waiting to be found among our notes and photocopies and photos if we take the time to go back and look.

Surname Saturday: Jourdan

Saturday, January 23rd, 2010

walldorf_germanyBack to my father’s side this week. Here’s what I know (or think I do!) about my direct JOURDAN ancestors:

1. Dean Richardson

2. David Richardson (1935-1998)

3. Margaret Jourdan, born 01 June 1903 in Erie, Erie County, PA; died 25 January 1982 in Erie, Erie County, PA

4. Friedrich Jourdan, born 08 February 1864 in Walldorf, Starkenburg, Hesse-Darmstadt, Germany; died 03 May 1951 in Erie, Erie County, PA

5. Jakob Jourdan I, born 28 January 1833 in Walldorf, Starkenburg, Hesse-Darmstadt, Germany; died 11 September 1902 in Walldorf, Starkenburg, Hesse-Darmstadt, Germany

6. Johann Peter Jourdan II, born 23 November 1792 in Walldorf, Starkenburg, Hesse-Darmstadt, Germany; died 27 September 1866 in Walldorf, Starkenburg, Hesse-Darmstadt, Germany

7. Jean Philippe Jourdan, born 28 January 1759 in Walldorf, Starkenburg, Hesse-Darmstadt, Germany; died 08 December 1833 in Walldorf, Starkenburg, Hesse-Darmstadt, Germany

8. Pierre Jourdan, born 12 January 1713 in Palmbach, Wuerttemburg, Germany; died 08 September 1766 in Walldorf, Starkenburg, Hesse-Darmstadt, Germany

9. Jean Jourdan, born 06 June 1689 in Roure, Piemont, France; died 16 April 1754 in Palmbach, Wuerttemburg, Germany

10. Janon Jourdan, born 1651 in Roure, Piemont, France; died 16 February 1705 in Palmbach, Wuerttemburg, Germany

My main source for the Jourdan line in Walldorf, Palmbach and Roure is the book “Das Walldorfer Familienbuch, 1699-1875″ authored by Wilhelm Klink and Jean Becker, published in 1974 by the “Working group for Walldorf history and  genealogy” and the city of Walldorf.

The picture in this post is of the Astorhaus, which according to Wikipedia “was built in 1854 from a pecuniary legacy of deceased John Jacob Astor to his hometown.” I have no idea whether or not I’m related to Mr. Astor, of “Waldorf-Astoria” fame. If any Jourdan cousins can clue me in, I’d be grateful.

Follow Friday: Behold Genealogy and Louis Kessler’s Behold Blog

Friday, January 22nd, 2010

I like to think that our blog is fairly unique in offering an insider chronicle of the travails of building a genealogy startup. But I tend to be pretty circumspect in sharing our technical struggles, bug fixes, and product roadmap. Louis Kessler, on the other hand, let’s it all hang out. Louis is the visionary behind Behold Genealogy. For this week’s Follow Friday recommendation, I’d like to encourage you to get to know Louis and his plan to “Change the Way Genealogists Work” by subscribing to the Behold Blog.

Software that Focuses on the Output Report Instead of the Input Form

beholdheaderFrom what I can tell, Behold is designed with the end in mind, and acts more like a word processor for top-notch genealogy reports than an “enter names in a blank pedigree chart” data-gathering tool. I haven’t used Behold yet so I can’t offer a recommendation one way or the other, but I’m completely drawn in by Louis’ passion for his product and his innovative thinking about what genealogy software can and should do.

GEDCOMs, Programming, Bug Reports, Future Plans

Here are some of the topics you’ll read about in Louis’ blog:

  • Arcane details of how GEDCOM files are constructed and processed (harder than you probably think!)
  • Louis’ daily battles with software bugs (in Delphi no less!), much of them fought well after midnight
  • His painstaking efforts to construct error messages that are helpful to his users
  • The bugs he can’t fix on his own, and his humble efforts to get help from StackOverflow (where he’s also a regular contributor)

And that’s just the last few months… Louis has been at this for almost eight years!

As you can tell, I have a lot of admiration for Louis’ openness, persistence, and pride in his craft. You won’t find a lot of details of Louis’ genealogy research in his postings, but you can tell he’s channeling his love and respect for his ancestors into his software development efforts. If you want to gain a sense for the work that goes into that shrink-wrapped genealogy software you bought, the Behold Blog is a good place to get it.

52 Weeks to Better Genealogy Challenge #3 — Assess Yourself

Thursday, January 21st, 2010

Dean has a long day today and he asked if I’d like to take up Amy Coffin’s current “52 Weeks To Better Genealogy“ challenge and blog about it.

Assess yourself! You’re great at researching everyone else’s history, but how much of your own have you recorded? Do an assessment of your personal records and timeline events to ensure your own life is as well-documented as that of your ancestors.

I visited Geneabloggers, clicked through to a related post on Taylorstales-Genealogy blog  and was inspired by the idea of using timelines to document personal history. A number of years ago I created a date-focused Access database to help me wrap my mind around the complicated comings and goings of a family I was researching. This morning I thought, “Why not do the same thing for us?”

blog1Creating an Access Database

So here’s what I’ve done so far:

First, after a bit of trial and error, I created a database with the fields below. I may tweak them, but it’s a good start.

Month Name
Document Location

Entering Some Basic Timeline Events

I entered our marriage and the births of our two children and then I started to search out records that would have dated information for important family milestones. blog2Google Calendar was my first stop.

The entry for Monday, 21 January 2008 reads “7 pm First Fiddle Lesson.” I saved a screen shot as “tl-001” and entered the information into the database, along with a couple of sentences describing how the lesson went. I’ve been happily learning to fiddle for the past two years and so that anniversary is on my mind. <smile>

A Filing Brainstorm

Then I went to the garage and retrieved a box labeled “Family History.” It’s neatly organized, but who knows what’s there?

A folder labeled “U of A Graduation” caught my eye and so I pulled it out to have a look. I found my diploma, graduation announcements for both Dean and me, and a graduation program. I entered information from each record and then had to decide how to file the papers.

At first, I was going to put them back in the box, thinking that I could organize them later, but then I had a brainstorm driving home from the grocery store. I decided to create a folder for each year entered in the database and any record that isn’t part of our “Very Important Papers” notebook, I will file there.

(Quite a few years ago, we created a notebook titled “Very Important Papers” and we use it to keep track of birth certificates, immunization records, and the like, storing it in a very accessible place in case we needed to get to it in an emergency.)

A Simple System

Once I had a few records entered, I took some time to work on creating an attractive report. I’ll most likely edit it, but for now, it works. As an example, I did a query for our daughter Amelia and took a screen shot of the resulting report.

blog3It’s a simple system, but I think it might work for us. The challenge will be to find time each week to add things to the database.

Putting it Into Practice

Maybe I can work on it on Sundays when Dean is focused on organizing the genealogy-related papers that we’ve collected over the past thirty years.

I’ve always feel a bit of kinship with people whose date of immigration changes from census to census. If you knocked on my door and asked me to tell you what year we came to Illinois or which summer we lived in California, I couldn’t tell you off the top of my head and I’d have a hard time figuring it out.

Maybe it’s time to do something about that. Ask me in a month when we arrived in Wilmette and I’ll bet I’ll be able to tell you.

Tombstone Tuesday: Polly GREEN

Wednesday, January 20th, 2010


My wife and I have a tradition of visiting nearby cemeteries on holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas. Several years back, our Christmas adventure took us due west of Chicago to the Shabbona Grove Cemetery in Shabbona, DeKalb County, Illinois.

We were looking for my wife’s fifth-great-grandmother, Polly Green GREENFIELD.

This was before we had a GPS system in our car, so we were relying on paper maps and the address my wife had dug up from somewhere. As dusk approached, we were going in circles and not finding any hint of the cemetery itself.

Our kids, who were fairly used to their wacky parents dragging them on these sorts of outings, were beginning to get restless.

We stopped at a farmhouse to ask directions. The family who answered the door was willing to help, but could only give hints on roads to try and potential landmarks to look for. About half an hour later, with a light snow swirling in the air, we finally stumbled on the cemetery.

shabbona031Our kids scrambled out to search for headstones with the appropriate surnames. It was a tiny cemetery, so we quickly found the right one. It was badly worn, and the picture we hurriedly took in the fading light doesn’t show the inscription (or much of anything) clearly.

Here’s what we think we know about Polly (courtesy of a Greenfield cousin):

Polly GREEN was born about 1791 in Rensselaer County, New York. She married Joseph Rogers GREENFIELD. She died on 9 October 1875.

If you know anything more about Polly, we’d love to hear from you.

Surname Saturday: Knapp

Saturday, January 16th, 2010

robinLast week I listed my my father’s RICHARDSON line; this week I turn to my mother’s side. Here’s what I know (or think I do!) about my direct KNAPP ancestors:

1. Dean Richardson

2. Roberta Knapp

3. Kenneth Guilford Knapp, born 07 Jan 1906 in Worcester, Worcester County, MA; died 08 Sep 1974 in Bradenton, Manatee County, FL

4. Walter Ferdinand Knapp, born 16 Oct 1872 in Easton, Aroostook County, ME; died 04 Dec 1906 in Worcester, Worcester County, MA

5. Hiram Loring Preston Knapp, born 1844 in Kingfield, Franklin County, ME; died 1927

6. Benjamin Franklin Eastman Knapp, born 04 Jan 1822 in Freeman, Franklin County, ME; died 14 Sep 1885 in Lowell, Middlesex County, MA

7. John Knapp, born 02 Oct 1792 in Leeds, Androscoggin County, ME; buried in Freeman Ridge Cemetery, Freeman, Franklin County, ME

8. Joseph Knapp, Jr., born 1763 in Easton, Bristol County, MA; died 07 Aug 1839 in Freeman, Franklin County, ME

New FamilySearch identifies further generations in the Knapp line including Joseph Sr., Benjamin and Aaron Knapp, but I have not yet explored the NFS data tor those individuals in detail and I can’t support the assertions in NFS with any of my own research or documentation.

Several of my Knapps (including John listed above) married into the Wing Family, for which many books and websites are available (e.g., The Wing Family of America.)

Data for John and Joseph Knapp, Jr. above is from the book A Genealogical History of Freeman, Maine 1796-1938, by George A. Thompson and Janet A. Thompson, Heritage Books, Inc. 1996.

If any of my potential Knapp cousins are reading this and think you might tie in to the line I’ve described (or if you have evidence contradicting the details I’ve given) I’d love to hear from you. Thanks!

Follow Friday: Midwestern Microhistory

Friday, January 15th, 2010

midwestern_microhistory_blog_snipThis week for Follow Friday I’d like to highlight Harold Henderson’s Midwestern Microhistory blog. True to its title, MM focuses on Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin research. Those areas are interesting enough by themselves, but it’s Harold’s in-depth coverage of obscure but highly relevant sources, repositories, and historical books that keeps me coming back for more. Frequent themes at MM include:

  • Thoughtful summaries of the best articles from Midwestern genealogical society publications
  • Carefully-chosen quotes from the broad sweep of historical texts that Harold has read (317 are listed in his LibraryThing widget)
  • Surveys of key repositories (e.g, the Newberry Library) including new resources they offer, both online and offline
  • Highlights from recent genealogical conferences in the IL/IN/MI/OH area.

Harold has also been kind enough to link to several of my wife Cynthia‘s blog posts on Chicago genealogy sources, including the Chicago Burial Index and Insurance and Bankruptcy in Chicago.

His tone is always friendly, upbeat, and encouraging. He teaches good research techniques and source considerations by quiet personal example, rather than from atop an ivory tower. I suggest you consider adding Midwestern Microhistory to your genealogy reading list.

52 Weeks to Better Genealogy Week 2: Wilmette Public Library Local History Room

Thursday, January 14th, 2010

wpl_local_history_roomBack to the WPL

Last week I visited the Wilmette Public Library and checked out their collection of genealogy books and reference materials. For this week’s 52 Weeks To Better Genealogy (hereafter 52WtBG) challenge, Amy Coffin asked us to return to our local library and this time check out the Local History Room and/or Special Collections area.

WPL’s Local History Room Closet

While the WPL is being renovated, their Local History materials are temporarily stored in a closet behind the reference desk. The reference librarians were nice enough to open it up and let me take a few pictures on the night I visited. When will everything be back to its rightful place? “Spring,” was the wistful answer from the reference staff.

What’s in the Local History Room?

Here are some of the materials  housed in the Local History collection that sounded particularly useful to genealogists:

  • Biography Files — interfiled obituaries, wedding announcements, letters, and general news items clipped from the local paper in alphabetical order
  • Business Files and Directories — individual files on historical businesses in Wilmette, along with Wilmette Chamber of Commerce business directories for 1968-69, 1987-89, and 1999-present.
  • Clubs and Associations –includes directories from groups like the Woman’s Club of Wilmette (1913-1915, 1922-1965) and the Wilmette Garden Club (1940s-present)
  • Histories — published histories of the Village of Wilmette and Cook County. Only the most unique and fragile of these are housed here instead of on the regular library shelves.
  • Photographs — All identified photos owned by the library of local residents, buildings and events are filed by topic and indexed. An online database of these photographs is in the works.
  • Polk City Directories — The WPL has these for 1893, 1927-28, 1933, 1935, 1937 and 1939.
  • Taxpayer Lists — Published lists for 1909, 1913, 1924 and 1931-1936 are organized roughly in alphabetical order by name with address.
  • War Memorial — Info on Wilmette residents who died in war, and whose names are on the Village War Memorial, is maintained in notebooks which include biographies of each soldier.wpl_local_history_room_shelves_1


The WPL’s Local History Room definitely deserves consideration by anyone researching a Wilmette ancestor. The unique resources it offers remain largely accessible during renovation and the knowledgeable reference staff are eager to help you get the most out of a research visit.