23 December 2012

Sentimental Sunday - Win, Lose, Win, Choose...

Well, here we all are, just a few days before Christmas. How did that happen? Am I the only one that thinks this year absolutely flew by!? At this time last year I was flying high from having visited Cincinnati, meeting my 2nd and 3rd cousins and getting my hands on (literally) family documents from the 1800s that I’d known existed but thought were probably gone forever.  I’d had the pleasure, and honor, of processing them so they were stabilized and described, and more importantly had had the chance to discuss them with my cousins. Having spent Thanksgiving on my own for the first time (my elderly parents had moved to Arizona), it was wonderful to feel the warmth of my extended family’s appreciation of my genealogical efforts and to have a greater sense of my own roots.

Over the course of the coming year, I learned so much about how to be a better technician with regard to my genealogical research. Say what you will but ensuring that someone else, who WILL see your research, can find the resources you used is just good manners. Is it a pain in the butt learning how to properly cite sources? You betcha. Do I do it right and consistently? Not yet, but I’m getting there. The few clients I’ve had have expressed appreciation for the documentation I’ve shared with them. And, I’m finding more and more tools to ensure that all the hours of work I’ve put into my own research will be a valuable asset to someone coming after me.

And, of course, that leads me to the inevitable: there’s no one after me. Thanksgiving was very hard last year, and this year it seems the Christmas holiday has me feeling…I don’t know…melancholy doesn’t quite capture what I’m feeling.  I avoided stores so I wouldn’t have to see the decorations. No holiday radio or Pandora. I cringe every time I drive into our subdivision and see all the holiday decorations up; with the weather being so warm early on it seems everyone pulled out all the stops with their decorations and lights. But my house is dark.

I had to go into the basement yesterday to get wrapping paper for my grand nephew’s birthday present, and all the holiday decorations were there in their boxes and bags. The thought of having to wrap the few gifts we give challenges me. But they’ll get wrapped and given with a warm smile and the wish that they could be so much more, that I could give my cousins and their kids more than the small tokens we can afford.

At the home of Elmer & Virginia Ill, Downers Grove, IL
Photo courtesy of Laura Cosgrove Lorenzana

As you grumble about the holiday hassle, the running from here to there, the endless stream of obligations, think about this: there’s someone out there that misses that experience and would give anything to have it back. To know the chaos of Christmas trees with too many packages underneath and the dread of how long it’s going to take to get everything sorted just so the opening can start. There’s the noisy clambering of kids and adults, and especially the inevitable argument over something trivial. There’s the baking and cooking for so many hungry party goers and that last minute run to the store with the ‘look of death’ shot to your husband because you told him there wasn’t enough wine. For those of you with all that and more, count your blessings.

 For those of us without, we’re not ‘without’. We choose. We choose to participate or not. We know we’re not alone, that there are others like us out there.  And if we can see past our own pain, however small or big, there are lots of ways that we can share ourselves to gain back our sense of warmth and being loved.  This year especially, there are so many families in the northeast who still desperately need help. Look around your own community and I’m sure you’ll find a place where your kindness will be appreciated. Don’t waste it; someone will appreciate it. 

May you all feel the spirit of this holiday season; of gifts received, but more importantly, of gifts given.

Happy Holidays

20 December 2012

Thankful Thursday - Of Taco and Wersel, Matthias and Ravold

I've spent the last year researching my Dutch Wersel family roots. I'd started it a long time ago (1996/7), but was put off by a limit of information available and the call of lines I could research here in the U.S. But late last year I had the opportunity to contact and meet my second cousin, Bill Strubbe, his sister Mary and brother Chuck. Bill was excited about the research I'd done, so much so that he invited me to come and stay with he and his wife Kim at their beautiful home in Cincinnati. We had dinner with our third cousin, Nancy Rybolt. Nancy was kind enough to bring with her a treasure trove of family documents, some of which dated back to the early 1800s. These documents helped to ramp up my research in a big way, clarifying some confusion regarding names (Frank was born Franciscus Johannes) and places (a residence permit in Brazil for Nicolaas Jean Francois Wersel dated 1848).

Frank John Wersel, later Frank B Wersel
Photo/scan courtesy Laura C Lorenzana;
in collection of [Private] Cincinnati, OH

George B Wersel
Photo/scan courtesy Laura C Lorenzana;
in collection of [Private] Cincinnati, OH
Just one short year later, I'm amazed at what has been digitized and is now available online. I've also learned so much as a Genealogist; checking name variants, checking each piece of evidence and its source, the FAN club, etc.  I created a research spreadsheet to compile data ; it's a great tool. Even with the language, Dutch, I was able to learn enough to do some basic translations.

Of course, I'm not doing genealogical research 24/7. I have my work as a Consulting Archivist, I'm working on building an Archives and Genealogical Services business, I'm in the ProGen Study Group, I write for Archives.com, I do presentations for local groups and, oh by the way, I have a husband that periodically appreciates a hot meal. [Not that he can't do that for himself; but he works long hours and I only 'work' two days a week.]

It was because of these time limitations that occasionally I post here or on social media or genealogy sites about what I've found and what I am still looking for. And last month, I posted on Genealogy Wise. One of the people who responded to my post was Taco Goulooze. Yep, you read that right, that's his name. Taco lives in the Netherlands and he will now and forever be known by me as 'Columbo'. Thanks to his intrepid spirit and obvious interest in my rather unusual family (which really shouldn't surprise anyone), I now have documents for the birth of my ggg-grandfather, evidence on a document that he (my 3rd great grandfather) stated he was an only child, clarification about a date on a document which lead to evidence as to when and where they entered the U.S. and a resource to connect with in Brazil. Because, well, Taco's like Columbo. And kinda my hero. My genea-hero. At one point in an email, he said, 'I know you're perfectly capable of doing your own research, but your family is so interesting...' So, thanks Taco. For opening up my Wersel (now Versel) line.

Oh, and not to be outdone I posted, in the Ahnenforschung group on Facebook, a request to transcribe and translate my 'crinkle letter' after I realized there just weren't enough hours in the day and Kenneth Marks had success with a translation he needed. Sure enough, Matthias Steinke stepped up to the plate and came through in a HUGE way, meticulously transcribing the mangled document and then working in a language he's not super familiar with to translate it into English. Holy wow...

Ravold Letter 1851
Photo/scan courtesy Laura C Lorenzana;
in collection of [Private] Cincinnati, OH
What I thought might possibly contain military information, because the writing is  so dense, is actually a letter written in 1851 from family in Europe to family that had recently settled in the United States. Of course, the entire document tells a tiny bit about how each cousin, brother, sister, etc. is doing, how many children they have and their names and describes what a dog 'Nicolaas' is for promising to send 60 dollars when he, indeed, did not. There are so many names that I have to sit down with the translation and create a spreadsheet to figure out who is who. What I do know is they are the relatives of my gg-grandmother, Mary Ann Wersel, who was born Anne Marie Wagner in France and is the daughter of Jean Frederick Wagner and Anne Eve Hensgen. Anne Eve's sister Elizabeth married Nicholas Ravold (look closely at the signature on the bottom right of the image above).

Thankful? There really are no words. This has been the most remarkable year with dismal lows and even more dizzying highs. I'm most thankful that the lows happened at the beginning of the year and have become part of my life lesson book. And those nasty lessons? They've been replaced by the likes of Taco and Matthias, extremely generous family historians, living in places where the people I'm writing about here are from. They gave freely of their time and skills so that I would have the ability to know more about my own history. My gratitude for the time they spend to help myself and others is...well, it's indescribable. And for me, that's saying a lot.

Thank you.

Thankful Thursday - (Not So Much)

This is not a 'regular' post, but a necessary one. I am temporarily going to limit comments to those who are members of the blog because in the last week or so I've gotten a large number of 'Anonymous' posts that link to, well let's just say, unsavory websites.

Sorry to have to do this, because I really do love all your comments, but I think this is the only way to prevent you from having to seeing the not-so-pleasant side of the Internet.

And, there WILL be a regular post a bit later today, so stay tuned...

08 December 2012

Sorting Saturday - Let the Scanning Begin!

I've been involved with social media for a few years now, and especially in the last year I've been utilizing it as a great resource for product suggestions and reviews. I don't know about you, but I like being able to talk to friends and acquaintances about products and services before I purchase them. I feel like I get better information and am more informed when I decide to finally purchase something, use a service or go somewhere new. 

I'll preface the rest with this: I'm an Archivist. Regardless of whether your material is 20, 50, or 150 years old, the single tenet I work by is 'Do no harm.' My professional work revolves around protecting the information that documents hold and making that information accessible to researchers. That means protecting and preserving the documents themselves. However, with new technology, the push to scan historical material is getting stronger and stronger. What's more, as technology progresses, and as our backlog of material to scan gets bigger, we look for faster and easier ways to get the scanning done. 

There are a few common sense tips I'd like to share, because with the glut of information out there regarding hardware, I don't think there's enough information from the users end. More importantly, as an Archivist, I've had lots of experience scanning all types of material, from contemporary ads for a corporate client to a Civil War era letter regarding General Sheridan to a note from Bram Stoker. Awesome stuff, all of it. And all of it handled and scanned in different ways.  

My first words of advice: please, please, do NOT use a high-speed scanner for anything but contemporary material, preferably bond and/or copier paper from the last 30 years or so and most likely used, as I do, to print resource information or 'touch' copies of delicate/very old documents. The air pressure used to 'suck' the document across the platen is too much for many types of paper produced before the 1970s to withstand. Additionally, some inks, while seemingly permanent on paper, can be harmed or destroyed from this dragging process. It might appear that the document comes out in one piece, but the fibers have been stretched apart creating an atmosphere in which deterioration can increase and breaking the surface on which the ink holds. What's more, can you imagine the feeling you'd have as one of those documents jams in the machine with others behind it doing the same? Who hasn't had a copier jam up? High-speed scanners can and will do the same.

I had a client, a large service organization, that wanted to have some of its oldest and most valuable material scanned. It was a very large project totaling over 100 linear feet of material. We quoted them a price and time frame, both of which were well outside their desired parameters. So, they told us they were going to hire a commercial scanning company to scan the material. After negotiating the process between the company and our client, we spent two hours training the people in the scanning center how to handle the material properly. They assured our client that not a single piece would come to harm. Of course, you can't be 100% certain that either a machine or human, with minimal training, aren't going to make mistakes. In the end, 1% of the collection was damaged or destroyed. Out of 10,000 documents that's 100. Take 1% of your collection. Now throw it away. 

Seem a little extreme? Over-board? Perhaps, but my hope is that having read this, at least you have a clearer understanding of the 'why' behind my suggestion to use other scanning resources. Or, more importantly, if you take material to a vendor to be scanned, or send it to a group that will 'scan for free', you're equipped with this knowledge and can ask more informed questions (i.e., what equipment are you using to scan my material or do you have non-high speed equipment available for more delicate material?) as you decide whether or not to use that vendor. High-speed scanning can be a real asset  when used for appropriate materials; a good old flat-bed is best for more delicate material.

What's the options then? A good 'ole flat bed scanner works just fine. No fancy settings necessary; archival standards are original size at 300 dpi. No, you don't have to scan at 1200 dpi, unless you're planning on taking a picture of your great granddad to use as a cover for your garage door (I've seen other images used in this way!). I will recommend for some of those *tiny* photos produced in the 1940s and 1950s that you scan at the same 300 dpi, but increase the output size to something bigger. This will provide a file that is more readily usable for copying. Same for any documents that are smaller or that have small writing. 

Photo of Family Collection courtesy Laura C. Lorenzana 2012

And, the next best step is using something that either allows you not to handle the document or minimizes such handling. Because handling historical material increases its chances of being damaged, right? There are some small portable scanners on the market that work just fine for this. However, I've come to really appreciate my smartphone's Camscanner app. No document handling necessary at all, other than opening a folder to the document you need, or a book to a page you're interested in capturing. With a click of a button, you capture the image, it's converted to a PDF file and you can either store it on your phone or upload it to a wide variety of cloud applications like Dropbox, EverNote, OneNote, or email it, tweet it, post it on Facebook...you get the idea. I love this because it's faster and I don't have to handle the material. I used this method with a collection recently and was very pleased with the results. (PSA: One word. Copyright. Know it. Use it.)

Oh, and as Archivists we don't mess with the original scan. In other words, when I scan material, whatever condition it's in is what I want to capture. Because if I go back 10 years from now and compare the original document and the scan and the original looks different, I may have preservation issues. 

If the document in its current condition isn't as legible as I'd like, or there's issues in a photo that I'd like to address, I make a copy of the digital file to fix. I file my 're-touched' material in a separate location from my digital archival scans. Easy.

So, scan your material. It's important. I suggest using consistent filing systems, or the same filing systems, for both paper and digital files. Nothing fancy required to get this started other than a scanner and the desire to share your genealogical material with other researchers. No fancy settings required: just remember 300 dpi at original size. 

Hope this helped a bit. Please let me know if you have questions or concerns about this information; that way I'll know if what I'm passing on to you is of interest and value. Have a great Saturday!!

06 December 2012

Thankful Thursday - A Love Letter to Tootsie

Dear Tootsie, 

I know we started off on the wrong foot through no particular fault of our own.  But, as with people, you came into our lives for a purpose and now that you've given the lesson, it's time for you to rest and be at peace.

I wish your given task would've provided you with an easier life, but that wasn't your role. You started out the pet of a well meaning young couple with two small boys.  We all know what that can be like, and because they were so busy,  you had to fend for yourself. They declawed you to protect the kids, but what about protecting you? Then, because you weren't a 'friendly' cat,  they added a puppy to their household. You went from merely unfriendly to down right ornery, and the family no longer wanted you. 

I can't imagine how it was for you, cooped up in that apartment simply trying to avoid the little humans and that dog. You had to defend yourself at every turn, so that became your your natural mode. When the couple approached the older couple downstairs about the kitty they wanted to get rid of, the next chapter was written. The older couple already had one kitty, but they hated the thought a pet would have to go to a shelter. So they took you in.

I'll never forget when my parents told me they'd gotten another cat. They were in their 60s, and could barely feed themselves let alone another cat. But when Mom described you, I thought 'wow.' Imagine my surprise when I visited them and when I asked where you were their response was, 'We don't know.' You'd gone Deep Cover.  It took three days before we figured out you'd lodged yourself under the kitchen cabinets. They had to have the maintenance guys come in to get you out.  And you were one pissed off kitty. 

Years went by, and I knew that my parents were doing the best they could to care for you. On their long winter vacations, when they'd be gone three or four weeks, I'd come over to feed you and Sasha, but you'd always hide from me. That is until you got really lonely. Then you'd tentatively come out wanting me to pet you, but only so much.  I always knew when you'd had enough when you'd snap at my hand and hiss at me. I would tell people, 'she's the only cat who's ever hated me.'

The hardest part, now, is knowing that you didn't hate me. You had just come to expect that people were going to treat you poorly so you would snap before they had the opportunity to hurt you first. That voice, the one that sounded so frightening? That was just the voice you were born with. That look? That look was meant to fend off anyone who would hurt you.

I'd titled this 'Darth Vadette': February 2011
Photo courtesy of private collection
L. C. Lorenzana

The purr. The first time I heard you purr it surprised me a little.  But it was real and hearty. That was after you'd come to live in our house with Mom & Dad. You were sitting on Mom's lap and I could hear you from where I was sitting in the other room.  That was the breaking of the ice.  We started to spend more time together, you and I, and when my own boys passed away, it was you who came and sat on my lap. I got Mom & Dad to change your litter daily and when they didn't, I did. I found food for you that was more appropriate for your advanced age that you seemed to really like. You ventured out onto the patio with me, just like you'd done at the old apartment, never going beyond the patio stones but so happy to have the fresh air and sunshine.

And then they left. Your people, Mom & Dad, left you behind. I still don't know what to think about that. They claim you were too old to stand the move and that they weren't sure whether you'd get used to the Arizona weather. I felt terrible for you, that the people you'd come to love after so many years would just leave you like that. But at nearly 80, they probably weren't going to be able to take care of you properly. We did the best we could fill the void, but we both worked a lot and I know you missed your people. 

The final insult came when I brought the three stooges home from Arkansas. You had NO idea what to think of those three little kitties; no desire to get to know them. And I understand why: they took the little bit of attention we'd been able to spare away from you. Again. And a year later, once again, you were there for me when a personal setback made me feel as if no one cared for me, as if just being me was an insurmountable problem. You'd come and sit on my lap until I was OK and then you'd head off again to a favorite hiding spot. 

It was then that I figured it out, then that I realized that for so very many years, you were simply misunderstood. How different you might have acted if you'd been treated more lovingly. It's a regret I have and know that I can't resolve. We can't change the past. But it's why we worked so very hard to make sure the rest of your life was as good as it could be. We understood when you started having difficulties with your back legs and began to miss the litterbox or not use it at all. We made adjustments so you could come and go as you pleased. We fed you the table scraps you'd known as a youngster, but that we knew weren't really good for you, because we knew your time was drawing close. We wanted the end of your life to be something special, for you to know just how special you are and what a beautiful and Spartan strong spirit you have. 

Last night, you woke me after I'd dozed off, by one last cry. I picked you up and moved you to a place I thought you'd be more comfortable, pulled a pillow and blanket down on the floor and laid down next to you. And for one last time, you surprised me. You found the strength to get up, come up to me and start to crawl up onto the pillow next to my head. I moved aside and let you get comfortable, pulling a second pillow next to you where I could lay my head. 

Tootsie - December 2012 
Photo courtesy of private collection 
L. C. Lorenzana
It was your final resting place. Warm, comfortable and a place given to you in love. You were strong to the very end, even though your body was very weak. I knew you were ready, and as sad as I am that you're gone, I know that you're with Butch and Kid, Sasha, Otto, Sadie and Sam, Boozer, Whitey, Pyewackit, Mama Cat and all the other pets waiting at the Rainbow Bridge for their owners to meet them. I pray that you have no fear, that all you feel is the love and respect that I have for you and the lesson you bestowed on me. 

That lesson is patience and kindness. To question the 'why' when people are fearful, or angry, or distant. That sometimes a dark, 'mean' exterior is a facade only; that by trying to get beyond that facade we can find kindness and warmth and love. Because things aren't always as they appear to be; facades are built up to protect the interior. 

As a final sign of our respect and love, we'll wait patiently for your cremated remains to be returned to us. Too often you must have felt forgotten. But you weren't, nor will you be. You will always be Tootsie. My tutter puss. Rest in peace. (~1995 - 2012)

Love you, 


27 November 2012

Tuesday's Tip - Something For Everyone

I was going through all the things I haven't had time to read and found Tim Forsythe's blog post titled, 'The Drive-By Genealogist's Lament'. I started to write a comment, then realized it'd be way too long. And I've really been itching to address this issue for a number of important reasons. I believe, if you bear with me and read on, there will be something for everyone. That's my goal: something for everyone.

If you didn't want to take the time to read Tim's excellent post, here's how I started my response: 

Well, now that you've called 95% of the family history/genealogy community lazy, I have to comment. I don't know if I'd slap the word 'lazy' umbrella-style over every person who found a relative in an online tree, downloaded the file and got jazzed by the fact they just found 1,000 new relatives. I did it when I first started in 1996. I was elated

Then I got hammered by a Professional Genealogist who told me (paraphrasing) that I was full of crap and didn't know crap and I better learn something if I'm going to do this (genealogy). *fakes cowering* So I did. Learn something...on my own. Poorly. And I posted a tree out there using Family Tree Maker software and created my little family page and was so happy

At this point I realized I was going to probably end up writing more than Tim's original post, and didn't think that was appropriate or professional. So, here's the rest of my story:

I took a break. A long break. Oh, I looked at my genealogy stuff a couple of times a year, but between the loss of family members, friends and a bunch of other life stuff, it wasn't a priority. Then I came back. I was an Archivist now. My research skills were sharply honed in college and I wanted to get back to Genealogy. I started to think about it as a profession. So, I got online, started a blog about my experience as a family historian and future professional, and started to read the blogs of Professional Genealogists. And what they said about source citations made sense, even though I didn't want it to. I looked back at my old research and online tree and saw that it was like Swiss cheese without the cheese. All holes. I had propagated incorrect information. Well shoot.

Then, about that same time, someone posted somewhere on Social Media that ALL trees MUST be cited or they have no place on the Internet. *Said in my best Genealogy Police voice* My first thought was, "wow, that's harsh...I wouldn't have posted that old tree if..."  *face palm*  Oh, OK. I guess I can *see* that point. I might not like it or agree with it, but I can understand that side of the argument. I propagated incorrect information via an on-line tree. That information will be out there in perpetuity and a researcher may copy it and use it and so on and so on.

Just a few weeks later, my study group was learning about Source Citations. Talk about brutal. Someone could write a book about all the iterations...oh. Heh. There IS a book. And a website (now). But it's a bit like giving the current Tax Code to a third grader and expecting him/her to understand it. After much discussion, we determined the real key is that the citation should be clear enough for the person using it to FIND the source of the evidence that's being cited, which makes sense from a researcher's standpoint. You want to get as close to the primary source as you can and, if someone else has already done that, and they explain (cite) where that was (source), you've found what you were looking for (evidence)! And you're happy

Then I had a brilliant idea and I posted it on Social Media. I said that companies like Ancestry.com, FamilySearch.org and every site that holds family trees should filter the trees into different buckets. BAM!! I got slammed to the ground by several people saying I was being divisive and non-inclusive and a hater of beginning genealogists. Really?! I was shocked and taken by surprise that they hadn't taken the time to even read my complete suggestion which is this: that family history sites have the technological ability to filter trees by the number of entries which have sources. That with that ability, they could create two places where trees reside: a place for trees without sources and a place for trees with sources. There's no exclusion of information; it's still all there. If you want to pull 10,000 people into your beginning tree and post it, go right ahead. If you don't want to put a single bit of data into your tree without using the Genealogical Proof Standard, that's fine too. And EVERYONE in between those two extremes is welcome to post whatever they want in whatever unsourced/sourced state they choose because the site will determine which bucket it goes in, automatically. 

A RESEARCHER can then choose whether or not they want to look at sourced and cited trees or those without sources and citations. That's the root of what we do as family historians and/or genealogists of any stripe. We research. We don't sit passively and wait for the information to come to us, we go get it. And we all have different levels of ability with regard to that research and different reasons for doing the research in the first place. This solution excludes no one and provides more efficient access for the researcher, be they the lazy *tongue in cheek* professional who is seeking sourced material or the beginner who has yet to learn the difference between evidence and a source and just wants to pull 1,000 people into a database and go through it piece by piece to uncover whether that information is accurate. 

It's a suggested solution, rather than simply a comment. We were all beginners once. We should openly welcome people who are simply hoping to find out where their grandfather was born, or if their 2nd great grandfather really went to Brazil. And if they get the bug and want to take the step of learning how the Genealogical profession works and what its standards are, there are lots of resources for them to do that and plenty of us out here willing to share. To find solutions to problems. Because there really can be something for everyone.

22 November 2012

Thankful Thursday - Thanksgiving Redux

A slightly edited version of my post from last Thanksgiving. Indeed, the possibilities were endless, and I do have a sense that I'm heading in the right direction...just not quite there yet. I'll be sharing tonight with a small part of my husband's family. On Saturday, I'll be with my two cousins (my mom's oldest sister's boys) and their families, happily indulging in all the 'traditional' Thanksgiving foods. And I'm very appreciative of the fact that you're sharing this with me.  Thank you.

So what does this have to do with my Thankful Thursday Thanksgiving? Well, this is only the third time in my life, entire life, that I am not with my family on Thanksgiving. It has always been the ONE holiday we spent together. It's not by choice, this separation. My parents moved out in May and are now very happily settled in Prescott, Arizona. And while being without them in and of itself could elicit a lot of emotion, the fact that this is my new 'normal' has me feeling very sad. My first reaction was to retreat; I really didn't want to bring my uncertain emotional state to someone else's celebration. So, I'm going to be alone for my first holiday. Ever. 

At the same time, it's my choice to be alone, and I'm thankful to have the time to reflect on what this holiday means. It got me to thinking about all the people out there who spend not just this holiday, but many holidays, alone. Some do so by choice, but I think many don't. The reality is that there are lots of options out there, events and places to go, to fill the day. 

I like the fact that I'll have a year to figure out what my new holiday tradition will be. Because it can be anything. I can spend the day with those who aren't as fortunate as me, by serving at any number of local shelters and food pantries. I could invite friends who are in similar circumstances and cook up a storm. I could buy a ticket and spend the holiday doing genealogical research in Europe!! The possibilities are truly endless. 

So, today I'm thankful for the lovely house I live in, the job I have, and for the continued good health of my family, friends and me. I'm thankful for four wonderful feline friends who may make me crazy, but bring me endless joy. I'm thankful that I have been given an incredible circle of people whose hearts continue to astound me; from friends I've had since grammar school, to high school, to my new neighborhood, to Social Media. You are a blessing to me. 

Most importantly, I'm thankful for life's potential, because while I may be on my own today I am far from alone, and anything is possible.

18 November 2012

Sentimental Sunday - A Shared Profession Leads to Shared Resource

Good Sunday morning, everyone!

This post, which will be quick (promise), is coming to you only because I was finally able to spend a little time this morning on my favorite social media platform: Twitter. For those of you who are now rolling your eyes and saying to yourself, 'I am NOT going there...', here's real proof that it can link you with people, resources and information you might not get otherwise (or certainly might not find as easily). 

I was looking at Twitter using Tweetdeck, and I have lists to filter groups of tweeps together. It helps me to focus on specific things like genealogy, archives, fitness, etc. I saw a tweet from @GenealogyCircle, Cindy Freed, with a link to her latest blog post. (Which in and of itself is great). But, what caught my eye were the words 'mail carrier' in the title of a prior post. So, I clicked through to read it (I'm painfully behind on blog reading and social media...apologies to anyone I've missed.). Cindy wrote a post about her gggrandfather and his work as postal carrier.

Well, I have to say, after reading that she had gotten some great information from the USPS historian, but nothing on her ancestor, I couldn't type fast enough!  My great grandfather, George Jeffrey, was a mail carrier from 1903 - 1923 in Kalamazoo, Michigan. In 1998, when I did some initial research, I found out that the US Postal Service maintained records on their employees which are still in existence! I couldn't believe it. So I wrote to the address listed, and in a matter of a few weeks I received a letter from them. While they didn't have his specific record, they were able to confirm for me where and when he worked with the Postal Service, some great evidence!

Anyway, today, the USPS has a pamphlet with the resources available on the Postal Service and it's employees. You can find it HERE.

And, once I'd tweeted out the link, another of my tweeps, @Ghyxion, said her great Aunt had been a Post Master (or, rather, Mistress, as she later pointed out) and that the resource will hopefully help her get some more information too!

So, apparently, there are lots of us family historians and genealogists with Postal workers in our trees. Hopefully someone else will find this information helpful! 

And, we're keeping up the family tradition of delivering information...just in a very different format! :-)

11 November 2012

Sentimental Sunday - Veterans: a Broader Definition

As family historians and genealogists, I think we all look to those who have served in the military as guides for our research. So often, the records provided through military service are loaded with little genealogical gems that we can mine through to move our research forward. 

But I don't believe that there's a moment that we don't think about the sacrifices, large and small, that those veterans made to fight for what they believed in, to do what they felt was right. As I was creating a post for Facebook and Google+, I realized there was more to the veteran story. I was thinking in terms of chronological history, the wars in which my ancestors fought (that I know of) and I stumbled over something. I'll explain...

I don't have a lot of veterans in my family; it's a family oddity, particularly on my maternal side, that the generations were very long and sat squarely at times when the men were either too young or too old for military service. I do have one ancestor who fought in the Revolutionary War (that's proven): Waters Burrows. I know very little about him as a person and don't really know anything about his service or sacrifices other than the fact that he was a Private in a NJ regiment. There are several more of his generation that I haven't proved to my satisfaction, but I believe are veterans just the same: James Sargent and Benjamin Penn.

Then there's the Civil War and my one exception to the military rule: Daniel Beightler.

Photo of Daniel Beightler (1844-1925) courtesy of Laura Cosgrove Lorenzana
Daniel fought as a member of the Ohio 66th Volunteer Infantry, being mustered in December 1861 and out in 1865. He was a prisoner of war for about three months, and was on leave for a month in January 1864, just long enough to marry Lura Leatherman. After the war they settled into life in Ohio and went on to have six children. Remarkably, even though he'd been wounded during the war, Daniel lived to be 81 years old.

My father's uncles, Francis, Patrick and John Cosgrove, all fought during WWI. They were English citizens, living in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, but they fought bravely to protect their homeland. Francis in particular sacrificed; he was wounded severely, including being exposed to mustard gas, and never fully recovered. Of course, that didn't stop him from marrying and having six children, the youngest of whom was just a year old when he died in 1931. Both Patrick and John lived long lives, though neither one married.

My Dad's youngest uncle and his half brother, both named Vincent Cosgrove, fought during WWII, as did my mother's uncle, Roger Wersel and cousin, Stephen Baer. And as I was thinking about who else I was missing, I suddenly thought about my mother-in-law, Ely Lumilan Lorenzana. 

Ely was born in 1929 on the island of Luzon in the Philippines. In early 1942, just weeks after the occupation of the Philippines by the Japanese, she was sent to stay with her father's parents. Shortly after that Ely's father, Teodorico Lumilan who was a minister, was accused of being a Japanese sympathizer and was executed. In very short order, it was discovered that the accuser had done so falsely, and in turn he and his entire family were executed. That was just the beginning.

While Ely's siblings stayed with her mother's family, Ely found herself conscripted into a guerrilla unit to fight against the Japanese. She's shared the story of how she moved from town to town and lived for extended periods in the jungle. She reluctantly told me that she had seen executions; when asked if she herself had ever had to take up arms, she simply said, 'we did what we had to do to survive.' At the end of the war, having lived and fought on the run for two and a half years, Ely was 16. 

Photo of Ely Lumilan (c. 1944-45, second from right, standing) courtesy of Laura Cosgrove Lorenzana
What I find remarkable is that a little over a year after the war was over, this photo shows a beautiful young woman who seems to not have a care in the world:

Photo of Ely Lumilan (1946) courtesy of Laura Cosgrove Lorenzana
And I'm suddenly thinking of veterans in a very different way. How many of my ancestors had roles in the conflicts fought during their lifetimes? I know there are countless stories of resistance fighters in Europe during both World Wars, just as there were in the Philippines. 

I am so very, very proud of my uncle, Daniel Cosgrove, who served during Vietnam. He carried the responsibility of the family name, Daniel, with him as he fought for his Country in a war that was not a War but that required immense sacrifice on the part of our Nation. And I'm equally proud of his son Daniel Austin,  who continues this tradition as he serves our military today.

The men and women who have worn uniforms in defense of their nations must never be forgotten. Neither should those who sacrificed, in equal measure, to defend their homes and support those wearing the uniforms, for they are veterans in their own right.

We must never forget.

UPDATE (11 Nov 2014) Ely Lorenzana passed away earlier this year. Her sacrifice, and that of too many others to name, will never be forgotten.

05 November 2012

An Archivist's Notebook: Who Will Look at Your Genealogical Collection?

I thought I'd share this via my blog; I've been trying to find ways to share the basics of what I know regarding the care and handling of genealogical material and speaking at Genealogy Societies seems to be a great way to accomplish that. This presentation comes out of a two hour workshop I did for the Town & Country Public Library in Elburn that everyone seemed to enjoy. This is only an hour, so if you're in the area and have the time, please join us.

DuPage County Genealogical Society - November General MeetingDate: Wednesday, November 14, 2012, 6:30—8:30pm 

Program: An Archivist's Notebook: Who Will Look at Your Genealogical Collection?

Speaker: Laura Cosgrove Lorenzana is a Consulting Archivist, Genealogist, and writer. She earned a BA in Art History with a Certificate in Museum Studies from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Since 2006, she has worked as a Consulting Archivist in a wide variety of Archives from Shure, Inc. to the Union League Club of Chicago where her interest in genealogy was resurrected as she assisted researchers in their efforts to locate information about their relatives.

Program Description: Genealogists acquire and arrange a vast array of materials, both physical and digital. Who isn't excited to find an original document a grandparent or great-grandparent wrote? Or gathering photos and memorabilia from a favored family line? Your diligent work now will benefit generations to come, but only if the material is properly stored and prepared to pass to the next generation. Learn the best practices for handling and caring for these materials, as well as preparatory steps to ensure the long life of the materials.

Where: Lower Level Meeting Room,Wheaton Public Library, 225 N. Cross St, Wheaton, ILhttp://www.wheatonlibrary.org/LI_Location.html

01 November 2012

Thankful Thursday - Happiness is a Dry Collection

I've said pretty much all I can on social media about how much empathy I have for the people who have been affected by Superstorm Sandy. Most of you know I've volunteered with Noah's Wish, which is how I gained the three beautiful kitties who enrich my life daily. I'm a staunch supporter of first responders, CERT members, the American Red Cross, health care workers, etc. I bow to their selfless sacrifices and the sacrifices of the ones who love them. The challenges of Sandy are just beginning. What truly makes this storm unprecedented is that it happened in a northern climate when winter is just around the corner. This not only will delay cleanup efforts, but also the rebuilding that must take place to house those who've lost their homes. It's not quite as simple as setting up trailers that don't require heat; a much more complex set of problems is being handed to a very large group of people. I hope we'll all keep these folks in our minds and hearts until they are resettled.

In the meantime, I've been seeing lots of information flying around about how to salvage and manage wet and damaged photographs and documents. 

Via Twitter: HeavenlyFire999: RT @WSJ An aerial shot of flood damage in Bethany
Beach, Delaware on Tuesday. The latest on #Sandy: http://t.co/DrJoU5fW

Here are a few items that seem to be missing from them all, in no particular order:

1. While it is best to get materials out of water within 48 hours, that's not always possible. This does not mean that the material will be unsalvageable, just that as each day passes, the likelihood diminishes.

2. CRITICAL: do NOT try to dry material directly out of flood water. This seems to be the one most important step missing from almost all the resources available on-line. Flood water is nearly always contaminated in one way or another, whether it is natural or chemical. So, it is recommended that, using protective gloves, materials be removed from flood water into plastic containers filled with clean, distilled water. Filtered water works in a pinch, and obviously, if the only water available is neither distilled nor filtered, plain clean water will work. The goal is to gently move the material from one container into another to remove as much of the contaminants as possible. 

3. If you're in an area that has electricity and have access to a freezer, wet documents (not photographs) can be frozen (in a clean state) and then thawed out in small batches. By freezing the documents, you essentially freeze the decomposition the water may cause; there are disaster recovery companies that specialize in freeze-drying materials from institutions when disaster strikes.

4. Do not put anything that could possibly still be damp in a sealed plastic bag. Even a minute amount of dampness can cause mold to grow in an enclosed environment. It's best to keep wet material submerged until such time as a drying location is available, keeping in mind the 48 hour rule.

I have, in my professional career, had incidents occur which required immediate action. One was a flood of an office in Nashville during a devastating flood there several years ago. Fortunately, only a couple of file drawers of material were affected and the on-site staff were able to recover the material using some of the techniques I mentioned. The other was the loss of a part of the ceiling in an Archives from water due to a broken seal and then subsequently a clogged pipe. Fortunately in that case, a great disaster recovery plan meant that an emergency didn't become a disaster; none of the material was directly affected by the water.

While I hope that no one reading this actually ever needs to use any of this advice, the reality of it is that it happens. I pray you're all safe and comfortable.

11 October 2012

Thankful Thursday – Discovering the Breadth of Your Knowledge Through Volunteering

I’m a member of several larger genealogical societies, but hesitated to join a local society simply because I don’t have roots here, other than my own. However, I’ve learned not only how informative the meetings can be, but also how badly many of the smaller local societies need help, whether it’s meeting planning, membership coordination or other volunteer opportunities. Yes, I’ve been to other genealogical society meetings where it appears that the members in charge do not want the assistance of newcomers. But, I truly believe that that is not the norm, or if it was in the past, it’s not now. What’s more, if you find a Society where you don’t feel welcome, for whatever reason, there are plenty more that are actively looking for participatory members.
I was so fortunate that Pat Biallas asked me to join her at the September meeting of the Fox Valley Genealogical Society. Tim Pinnick shared a presentation on the Civilian Conservation Corps, its history, and how to locate individuals who had participated in this organization. After the meeting, I had an opportunity to speak with several long standing members, and I found out that they were looking for ‘new blood’ to assist with their outreach program. Twice a month, all day on the second Tuesday and the evening of the second Friday, the FVGS provides assistance free of charge to those interested in researching their families. Due to my much reduced Archives work schedule, I decided to offer to volunteer on Tuesdays.
FVGS holds their Research Assistance program at The Oswego Library in Oswego, IL. It holds a nice sized collection of genealogical books and periodicals, which were originally owned by the FVGS. Along with the usual on-line databases, the Library provides a great place to launch a family history search. I arrived around 9:30, and was pleasantly surprised to find two patrons ready to dive into their searches. One lady was looking for her 91 year old mother’s father, and another was attempting to start her application for the Daughters of the American Revolution. I started to help her, since I’m already a member. We discussed the process first, then the documentation she’d need and how best to start her search. I’d brought my new Google Nexus tablet (shameless plug for which I get no remuneration) and she was simply amazed at what I was able to help her find. Later, her friend came over, and we worked together to locate some clues as to where her great grandfather might have come from. By 12:30, they were happily on their way, having terrific starts on their research plans.
After a little break for lunch, the ladies from the FVGS came back and we sat down for a bit to discuss what their goals are regarding research assistance. I can say that I truly wish that I’d thought to look to my local genealogical society for assistance back in 1996 when I started my own research. It makes me wonder if I would’ve been inclined to begin working as a Professional Genealogist sooner. Be that as it may, the assistance is there for anyone who wants it, whether they’ve only just started or have a brick wall they’d like help to break through.
One of the other new volunteers off handedly mentioned an odd research challenge she’d come across recently. Curious, I asked if I might be able to help her, since there weren’t any other patrons there at the moment. What a wonderful few hours we spent, pouring over nearly illegible Census records, pulling them from Ancestry.com, moving them into Photoshop so they could be enhanced. We used the cluster theory to pull surrounding families on each of the four Censuses that had her family. We then located her family in another earlier Census she’d been unable to locate them in before. And the findings? Together we uncovered that her great grandfather was a Mulatto from the area of Virginia which is now West Virginia. We pieced together bits of her family’s oral history she’d dismissed in the past; whispers that had part of her family being silenced and part of it simply saying that it was a fact her great grandfather was not White. We worked methodically through the evidence; and at each point we thought we’d have to stop it seemed I was able to locate another resource or record group with additional evidence that she could use.
In the end, she had a fabulous new start on uncovering a great family story. And each time I made a suggestion where we might look, she said, ‘you know so much!’ I was often laughing, because I’ve been doing research in one form or another since I was in High School. When I worked in the Financial Industry, both as a Stock Broker and Portfolio Assistant to a Bond Trader, my research skills were an essential tool for my work. I suddenly was thinking that I might just be underestimating its value. Not monetary value, but the intrinsic value that comes from helping someone to uncover a great story about their family.
So it makes me wonder, how many of us are there that undervalue our breadth of knowledge?  Maybe it’s not in research skills, but perhaps it’s in something else. Geography, local history, medical history, paleography, technology, archival sciences; all of these are knowledge areas that those of us who’ve been doing genealogical research for a while might be taking for granted.
How wide is your breadth of knowledge? I bet it’s wider than you think…

02 October 2012

Tuesday Tip - Revoir, S'il Vous Plaît, Review

The French word revoir means ’to see again; it is the origin of the English word review. I believe that for those of us who study our family history or are genealogists, the understanding of the root of this English word is critical.

I'm so fortunate to have had a number of ’aha! ’ moments, in locating original family documents. I've also come across plenty of biographies in books, articles in newspapers, etc. And every time that happens, it comes with this burst of elation, frenzied reading, excited data entry and a sense of being able to move my research just a little bit further along. I then catalog the item and move on.

Revoir. It's such a lovely sounding word. Its English derivation often, I believe, gets short shrift because of the subtle difference in its meaning. I believed that the word review meant to go over something a second time. It's the same thing as seeing it again, right? Or is it?

We can look, but not see. Anyone who's done more than cursory genealogical research knows this. So the process of reviewing our documentation is to re-see it, not just to look at it again, oui? I challenge you to take a document that you know may hold information that you have yet to glean, or even one you think you've gathered all you can from, and revoir it. Rather than reading the words, see it as a picture. Does something grab your eye? A surname, a date, a punctuation mark? (As an aside, I've used this technique on documents in languages I'm not familiar with; it's a tool to glean essential names, dates and keywords without translating the entire document.) 

Here's an example of a 'useless' document as described by the owner. By reviewing it, I was able to glean significant information, even though the old German/Dutch/French handwriting that it is in is nearly illegible. [Family letter from the collection of Nancy Wersel Rybolt (private). 2012]

I learned another great technique from a writer/editor friend (thank you Laura Matthews!): read the document backwards. Start at the end and read each sentence from the last to the first. Revoir. Found nothing new? At least you know you've tried every angle. Then, using your tracking system (you have one of those, right?) indicate that the document has been reviewed

Are there techniques you've used to review genealogical documents? Does knowing the derivation of the word help to re-frame how you'll review things?

I hope that this has helped a bit, and for now, au revoir. ;-)

26 September 2012

Wednesday Worry - Hear that Clanging? It's Your Freedom Calling...

While on my lunch break today, I saw Michael Hait's post updating the situation regarding the State of Georgia's Archives. A link to that post is here. After reviewing it and posting a comment to it (it's currently waiting for moderation), I thought, 'what happens if he chooses not to post it?' So, fortunately, I was able to copy and paste it here. For those of you who don't really know me, it takes a lot to get me fired up. But, once something gets to me, I have to DO something. Yesterday was a great example, and I can't tell you all how excited and proud I was that a question I asked was answered by the Director of the Modern Records Program of NARA as well as the Archivist of the United States. Wow. Anyway, here's the content of my comment on Michael's blog. Please do take a few minutes to go and check it out if you don't already follow him.

Yesterday, NARA held its annual Records Administration Office Conference, it's 24th. The main topic of discussion was the Presidential Records Management memoranda announced November 28, 2011 in which the President of the United States requested the Chief Records Officer set out "to develop a 21st-century framework for the management of Government records.  This framework will provide a foundation for open Government, leverage information to improve agency performance, and reduce unnecessary costs and burdens." (http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2011/11/28/presidential-memorandum-managing-government-records accessed 26 Sept 2012) What does this have to do with Georgia? Everything. Let me explain.

During the morning, there was a Q&A session. In that session, questions are taken from the audience as well as those participating in the conference virtually. As an Archivist, and a Genealogist, I took the opportunity to ask what, if anything, NARA or the Archivist of the United States, David Ferriero, had to say about this situation, framing it in the context that the State's actions are counter to what is happening at the Federal level. The 'non-answer' that both Paul Webster, Director of the Modern Records Program, provided, along with the answer of David Ferriero, only underscores how dire this situation has become. You can see their answers in the video ( http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/25699469) starting at 1:22:19 and ending at 1:23:37.

Additionally, as was noted on the Facebook page "Georgians Against Closing State Archives" yesterday, Linda Davis met directly with Georgia's Secretary of State, Brian Kemp. (apologies for not providing the link; I'm working on a computer that does not allow access to Facebook). I will quote the final words of her post (which I was able to access via my cell phone): "We will not get anywhere through the Secretary of State, even though he is ultimately the one running this show. I suggest we move on to another source. I am not sure who that would be. I am open to suggestions."

The consequences of the State of Georgia closing its Archives cannot be stressed enough. While, as a genealogist, I would hate to see us all take a giant leap backward in our ability to access records, the more dire fact remains our government was formed to be OPEN to everyone, and by shutting off access to ANY records of the State, the government is being closed to the People. It isn't about history; we're talking about the day to day functioning of our government. THIS is the point that those outside of the genealogical realm can understand, and the one that I hope your readers will take to their family, friends, co-workers, and whomever else will listen. If the State of Georgia can shut off access to its daily business, other States will follow.

I hope all of you can genuinely appreciate what concerns me so greatly about this. I would HATE to see access to any Archives cut off because of a funding issue. As an Archivist, I've been directly affected by all these cutbacks. However, my greater concern is the cloaking of the government's daily business, done under the guise of budget constraints. I'd love to hear your comments on this subject.

24 September 2012

Amanuensis Monday - We Start in the Middle

I realized while reorganizing all my old documents that I'd been doing research for about six months before I started. That is to say that I had already started when I received a document that helped me really start my research. What do I mean? Well, read on and you'll discover this wonder piece I received from Tom Wersel back in early 1997. Tom is my mom's first cousin, the son of Roger Rowland Wersel and his wife Myrtle; Roger is the brother of Victor Wersel, my mom's dad. My mom suggested, when I started my research in 1996, that I give Tom a call since he grew up in Cincinnati, the root of my mom's family. Tom was so happy to hear from me, and was able to provide me with many clues. But he also provided me with copies of documents as well. He wasn't certain about the origins of the documents (i.e. who wrote them, or who'd owned them) but he thought that perhaps Nancy Baer Strubbe might know. When I spoke with Nancy the first time, she was unfamiliar with the documents and their origins. And, just to show how you never know what's going to happen in genealogy, I've included this document exactly as the copy looked that I received: with a page missing.

I did ask Tom if he had the missing page (page 2), and he said that he did not. The transcription follows: 

 Penn (1)
“Edward Penn of pure English extraction and a collateral branch of the family of which Wm. Penn the founder of Pennsylvania was the most distinguished in historic annals, came to Baltimore Md. He was a planter and largely identified with the growth + progress of the colony.”
His wife was a … Taylor (this seems an error perhaps as James Sargent’s wife was Nellie Taylor)
Benjamin Penn son of Edward born 1740 in Fredrick Co. Maryland; died 1834 in Clermont Co. O. Came to Clermont about 1810 with eleven children.
Mary Sargent (his wife) born 1755, Frederick Co. Md. Died 1817 in Clermont Co. Ohio.
They were married 1774 in Maryland.
Their  children.
I Joseph – Nov. 16.  – 1774 – unmarried
II Benjamin – Apr. 16 –  1776 = Anna Phillips
III Eleanor – Dec. 10 –  1777 = Richard Tucker
IV Nancy Ann – Apr. 12 – 1779 = Geo. Richards
V Elizabeth – Sept 15 – 1780 = Nathaniel Hines
VI Rachael – Mar 12 – 1782 = R. C. Lanham
VII Rebecca – Nov. 15 – 1783 = Benj. Thrasher
VIII Mary – May 7 – 1785 = John Richards


** Missing Page **

6.  John – married Caroline Rice
                                A Dr. in Tomah Wisconsin.
                (I have no record of his family, but here again
                Jennie may help you. – I know there were at least two daughters and one son)
                7.  Thompson – died in California
                8.  Ann – married John S. Lane
                She was born June 13 – 1818
                Died Feb. 1 – 1901 at Williamsburg O.
                Their children
                (one) Eugene born Oct. 1 1848
                Died June 1918
                Married Abbie Dexter – 1870
                (two) Rebecca Evelyn – born Dec. 9 1849
                Died Oct 4. 1865 at Delaware O.
                Edward Thompson – born Apr. 25 1855
                Married Maria L. Shearer June 27. 1889
                (four) Joseph Randolph – born Oct 10 1856
                Died Nov. 1929 California
9. Evaline married Henry Goodall
Their children
(one) Lula – mar. Cyrus Broadwell
(two) John – in St. Louis.
10. Caroline – married Joseph Van Dyke
Went to Illinois – had one son
(one) George – of whom we know nothing.
11. Randolph – married Laura Green
Their children
One – Walter – Julia Williams
Two – Virginia – Wallace Burch
Three – Randolph – Effie   ?
Four – Laura – Henry Wersel
Five – Charlie –
I have not enlarged upon these as you all know more than I
I have only sent notes on the immediate
Family of Mary Penn who married John Richards.
I will be glad to send all the data I have
On all the other children of Benj Penn and
Mary Sargent, if you care for it. There is quite a bit and rather interesting to any one with the genealogy bug.

Sargent  1

James Sargent was born at Snow Hill England near London.
Died Frederick Co. Maryland aged 107 yrs.
Nellie Taylor born England, married England
Came to Frederick Co. Md. 1745
Their Children.
1. Richard – Priscilla Austin
2. William = Sarah Aldridge
3. Snowden = Mary Hethman
4 James = Philena Pigman
5. John = Mary Fraser – Hester Camden
6. Elijah = Margaret Fraser
7. Mary = Benjamin Penn
8. Sarah = Hugh Larkin
9. Eleanor = Jonathan Fraser
10. Nancy = Samuel Phillips
The large Estate so often spoken of consisted
Of this tract of land (Snow Hill) belonging to Snowden Sargent brother of James. He was a
Bachelor and when he died his property was very valuable and increased until it was worth
Millions. The heirs in American never alluded to it and at the end of 67 yrs. It reverted to the Crown.
It is now in the city of London but still called Snow Hill.
I have notes on several families of these children beside that of Mary who married Benj
Penn. It is through this line that the connection
With the McNeal boys is traced
As I said of the Penn line – I will be glad
To send all I have if you are interested beyond
The immediate family line.


Hardly any thing is known of the Richards
Line. It was supposed to go into Maryland from Pennsylvania in 18th century.
Two Richards men (brothers most likely) married
Two Penn sisters.
John Richards married Nancy Ann Penn (You see my mistake there [arrows point to opposite spouses])
George Richards “ Mary Penn
From a great grand daughter of Nancy, I quote
The Richards who married Ann a daughter of
John and Nancy had eight uncles all with large
Families who scattered over U.S.A. and Canada
Some are still near Baltimore.
Hanson Richards a brother of Ann moved from
Felicity to Hillsboro Ohio during Civil War.
Perhaps Jennie can tell more of this family
Some of whom are still in Hillsboro
The husband of Mary Penn (John Richards)
Died when many of the children were young.
The mother raised her family on a farm between Bethel and Felicity Ohio. The house is still standing.

The Penn and Sargent lines have both been proved and descendants are eligible for the D.A.R. if interested.
I hope you can read all this. I find I do more scribbling than writing.
Just let me know if you want the whole "lay out" as I copied it from the notes of Colonel Frambes, and you shall have it.

Fast forward to 2012, 15 years after I first received the copy of this document with page two missing. I'm in the home of Mary Strubbe, the daughter of Nancy Baer Strubbe, who kindly offered to have me stay for a few days before the National Genealogical Society meeting began in May. Mary is now the keeper of most of the family documents, thank goodness! While going through the boxes, what do you think I found? That's right, I found the original of the document! I simply had to flip over the first page and there was the 'missing' information from the copies Tom had generously sent me:


IX Nackey – Sept. 2 – 1787 = 1st Joseph Pigman – 2nd – Teeters
X Rhoda – Aug 5 – 1789 = - Molen
XI Elijah – Dec. 27 – 1782 = Philena Walraven
XII Sophia – Jan 8 1795 = James Prather.

Benjamin Penn (1740) was in Revolutionary War.
The early home was in Arundel Co. Maryland on Halland (Holland) River – afterward in Frederick Co. on Monocassy River.

VIII. Mary Penn married 1805 John Richards in Md.
Their children

  1.       Lloyd – died aged 22 yrs.
  2.       Ellen – married Wm. Brown. And lived at Chilo. Clermont Co.
  3.       Ann – killed in swing – 7 yrs of age.
  4.       Eliza – married Lewis Pierce (a yankee school teacher
Who took her East where she soon died)
  5.       Warren – married ---- Goodwin
Their children (a twin sister of Warren died – infant)
1.       William married Lizzie Elsberry and their children
Are Marie wife of Dr. Owen Davidson of Bethel
Warren – of Cincinnati
Georgie – died
2.       Tom – a doctor
3.       Georgie – married Al Lane
4.       Belle – “ James Robinson
Jennie can perhaps tell more of these people, or Warren Richards

There's so much great information here, and I've referred back to this document many times for clues. Have you ever received a document like this, that helped you start in the middle?

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