30 May 2012

Wordless Wednesday - Golden Clue

Photo courtesy of Laura Cosgrove Lorenzana. Gold man's ring inscribed w/initials ? W ? 1822 from Marilou Cosgrove, now owned by James P. Cosgrove.

21 May 2012

Amanuensis Monday - From Victor Wersel (1892-1963) to Laura Richards Wersel (1863-1936)

Jan 15 - [19]12

Dear Mother –

I arrived safely at 5:55 this morning, went up and down the main street a couple of times and decided to take a room in this Hotel. I am surely homesick for you and dad and the sweet sister and brothers.

One of the fellows here in the Bryant office took me out to see a married sister of his this evening and I have arranged to take a room in her house, eating one meal there (breakfast) each day, at 1.50 per wk. I have not arranged about the other meals, but as the mills are so far out of town the fellow who got me the room has offered to let me take meals at his home at noon and in the evening. I don’t know how much he will ask for this and will have to find out later.

The room is dandy as it is in a new house, with heat, which it seems very few of the houses up here have, and I also can use the bath which has hot and cold water.

The weather is rather cold up here. The snow is pretty deep and all of the vehicles up here are on runners and not on wheels. This looks rather queer to me.

Mother, darling you do not know how it really hurt me to leave you and the rest of the family, even tho I did look cheerful all of the time. I could cry right now but somehow I have forgotten how to do it. It surely is lonesome, but I will have to stick it out for a while, any way –

Tell Horace I am using his blotter and that I found a picture of “Nig” in my suit case.

I couldn’t sleep last night because I kept thinking that the train was taking me farther and farther away from my dear home. This hotel is very near the railroad and I can hear the trains whistle and it makes me think that I am in Oakley, because you know these same trains go through Oakley –

Now, don’t worry about anything in reference to me mother, dear, as you know it will always remain perfectly the same. Some dear girl up on Zumstein Avenue has an awful lot of faith in me and she is always going to remain that way if I have anything to do with it. Please don’t mind this rotten pen, you see it belongs to the hotel.

Give my love to all and when you write address the letter c/o Bryant Paper Co

Your loving son


Wersel, Victor to Wersel, Laura Louise RIchards from personal collection of Mary Strubbe, Cincinnati, Ohio.

17 May 2012

Thankful Thursday - I Passed the Test! DNA Results...

Just when I thought my string of amazing discoveries during NGS 2012 week would be coming to an end, I received confirmation that my 23andme DNA test results were in! After following the link in the email they sent, I did find out that my ancestor results will not be available for approximately another week. Boo. 

However, as I was perusing my health results, a number of things leapt off the page at me, and so I thought I'd share them here. I'm still trying to do deeper research on what this is all about, so if I say something materially incorrect, please don't hesitate to correct me in Comments. 

Unless noted otherwise, all information is from the 23andme website. First: I am part of the J2a1a haplogroup. This group originated in the Arabian peninsula (Iraq, Iran, Syria) with a migration going into Europe about 7,000 years ago. My ancestry results are as follows: Dutch, German, Spanish and Italian. This group may have entered Britain with invading Anglo-Saxons. 

Of course, when I first saw the "Dutch" part of this I had a bit of an 'a ha!' moment. But being quickly followed by "German" means I still have a LOT of research to do. I believe that the Dutch part of this simply confirms one aspect of my dual pronged approach: I'd had a theory that my (now) Dutch ancestor was actually Germanic/French and that he'd gone to the Netherlands for safety reasons. I now have resolved that theory with the DNA proof of my Dutch heritage: he was in fact from Utrecht as his documents state. So, I now will focus my search there, rather than attempting to locate a line in the Alsace-Lorraine area for him. I will continue my research in Alsace-Lorraine for the other lines that are proved in that area. 

Beyond this general knowledge, I will have to wait for my 'Ancestry' results. That wasn't the really interesting part of my results. The health factors section was what really caught my attention. The DNA results got my height, general weight, hair, eye color and blood type right. That alone made me feel like I'd passed the test. Then I started looking at other health factors and risks and I was surprised by two things.

Number one: My DNA suggests that my concern over the autoimmune diseases Rheumatoid Arthritis and Lupus (Systemic Lupus Erythematosus) were well founded. I'd had an RA factor test done 10 years ago that showed I was 'borderline' for the disease, though I didn't show any symptoms. However, I began having a variety of challenging physical symptoms that taken separately seemed more annoying at the least, but downright debilitating at the worst. Stress elevated my symptoms. Two years ago things got so bad that I called my Hematologist/Oncologist and asked if he'd look at my case (I had no medical insurance at the time). I told him I had a relative, a cousin on my mother's side, who'd suffered from Lupus. While he wouldn't/couldn't confirm anything without seeing me or doing appropriate medical tests, he did indicate that my symptoms were indicative of this disorder. 

What did my DNA test results say? That I have a decreased risk for Rheumatoid Arthritis! When I saw that, I thought, "wow, did they get THAT wrong." Until I saw my 'Elevated' risk factors. Yep. Lupus. Which is extremely complex and difficult to diagnose because it is often mistaken for rheumatoid arthritis. This would explain my significantly increased pain levels starting several months ago, which coincided with increased stress in my life. Lupus is highly affected by stress, and keeping stress levels low can mitigate some of the symptoms. I hadn't realized how much the pain was affecting me until I found a combination of medicines that reduced it significantly. A DNA test is NOT a medical diagnosis. However, it certainly will assist in my future planning for my medical needs.

Number Two: Where are the blood clotting disorders? I think this was the main reason that I was awarded the test for free through OpenSNP. They'd received grant money to provide free 23andme DNA tests to individuals who would share their results with OpenSNP. I sent in an application and was notified that I was one of the recipients of a free test. My application stated that I was a 'last leaf'; I have no children and neither does my brother. However, I have a congenital blood clotting disorder, Protein-S deficiency, that there is very little medical research available for and I felt as a carrier of this disorder that I might be helping others by capturing my DNA. While 23andme has Factor XI (hemophilia) covered, there are really no other blood disorders that are adequately described. Hmmm. I can post in the Community, and will, to find out if there are others out there. But this just confirms what I already knew: that congenital blood disorders are sorely lacking in adequate medical research resources.

So, there you have it. It ain't sexy or fun, but 'it is what it is'. Am I glad I took the test? You bet. I can't WAIT to get my ancestry results so I can start poking around there. In the meantime, my specialist is getting a copy of my results so they'll be in my medical record. Here's to long and healthy life!

16 May 2012

Wordless Wednesday - Laura Louisa Greene Richards (1837 - 1896)

Courtesy Stephen Baer, Bloomington IN
Laura Louisa Greene Richards (1837 - 1896) wife of Randolph Richards (1830 - 1870)
2nd great grandmother of Laura Louise Cosgrove Lorenzana
Photo courtesy of Stephen Baer, Bloomington IN (retouched)

13 May 2012

Sentimental Sunday - NGS2012 and Family

This was the longest, shortest week ever. I took in so much information there were moments I thought my mind simply couldn't take any more in, and then another nugget of wisdom would plunk itself in front of me and I'd wedge it in. I met so many people, but missed so many that I wanted to meet in person. There's so much research for me to do here in Cincinnati I could probably stay a month and not get it all done. But I have not a single regret about my week at NGS 2012. I will use the tools I've been provided to be a better genealogist, and that's the main goal of the Conference. However, the relationships created here are truly what it's all about. And for that I'm especially thankful.

I started Saturday sessions with Harold Henderson's "Indirect Evidence". I found it interesting this was an underlying theme in many of the sessions; the use of 'non-evidence' to help move research forward. Of course, there were sessions like Harold's that addressed it directly and he's a great speaker. 

After Harold's session I walked out of the room, only to find myself in the middle of a long line of people waiting for a session that was starting in more than half an hour. Just to show what a long week it's been, I erroneously tweeted, "Waiting IN LINE to see Tom Jone's presentation...not confident we're going to get in. :-( #NGS2012" It wasn't until about 20 minutes later as I was grabbing a seat that I realized it was actually Elizabeth Shown Mills presentation I'd been waiting for, and I tweeted this, "Heh. I'm actually waiting for ESM's 'Information Overload?'...LOL...think that applies? #NGS2012" Yep. It completely applied. 

Elizabeth spoke to a packed room, and I have to say that more than any other session, I took a lot from this one. She discussed how we've learned to cram the information we gather into the little boxes in our genealogy programs and that we've stopped using two essential tools in the Genealogist's arsenal: The Research Report and Research Notes. Of course, I believe the highlight of the session was when she quipped, regarding contacting someone about their relative, "...we're not gonna tell cousin Genie that her mama's two grapes short of a fruit salad..." The room erupted in laughter! 

We caught up with Tina Lyons and her mom and with Linda McCauley we headed over to Chipotle for a quick lunch. There was a method in our madness. None of us had had Graeter's yet, and there was no way I was going to leave Cincy without having some. So, a Black Raspberry Chip in a pretzel cone later, my trip is now complete. (Not really, but my god...it was delicious!!)

I went 'light' on the afternoon sessions, enjoying "Paleography, Interpreting Early American Handwriting" by Carol Whitton. The best part of her presentation is that she made it interactive: we received pieces of lined paper and during the session we were given time to attempt to write our family surnames using the old alphabet. It was a lot harder than you'd expect! But, this class will help me better identify unknown characters when reading those old letters, wills and deeds from the early 1800s.

The final session was a bit of a stretch for me: "Success Story: Finding a European Village of Origin" by James Beidler. He followed a trail of seemingly indirect evidence to locate his German ancestor in his village of origin. As a German specialist, his focus was on Germany, and about half way through, I was thinking I wasn't going to get anything from the session. But, this week has been full of unexpected surprises and this was no exception. During the Q&A, someone asked about German handwriting, and Mr. Beidler made a comment about his expertise in this area. I quickly pulled out my laptop, downloaded a few pictures to my phone and after the session was over, waited patiently in line to ask him a question. As he was hurriedly trying to leave the room, I showed him the picture of one of the letters I'm conserving for my family; one of the letters I wasn't sure which language it was in. He stopped and carefully looked at it...and proclaimed it German! He also took my business card and promised to send me several resources I can use to get the letters translated. Another great success for the week!

I ran across the street to the Hyatt to meet up with Susan Clark, Becky Wiseman and Kathy Reed. Susan, Kathy and I have an interesting connection, and we were glad to have the opportunity to sit down and talk. A bit later, we were joined by Linda McCauley and Kim VonAspern Parker. But, the week was long, so Becky and I headed back to our hotel. I understand from social media that we missed quite a bit...I'll be searching for posts that provide the details ;-)

This was just an incredible week. I appreciate that there are lots of you that weren't able to go, and I hope that I was able to give you a feel for how it went. I've followed others as they've gone to conventions and now I know how it is being on the other side. 

My time here isn't over. I'm closing up my laptop and heading back to Mary Strubbe's to complete the conservation on the German letters she has, scan as many of the photos as I can and spend some time creating some research reports on what I found here. Tomorrow morning I'll be leaving Cincy early to head to Bloomington, Indiana where I'm meeting Mary's uncle, Stephen Baer. Steve is Nancy Baer Strubbe's twin brother, and hopefully, the holder of a Burrows family bible dated 1801. At the least, he'll be able to fill me in on his childhood in Cincy and tell me a bit more about my Cincy relatives. 

A special thanks to Becky Wiseman, who was crazy enough to put up with my 'perkiness' in the morning, and for being a wonderful roommate. Everything happens for a reason. Thank you all for taking the time to read my blog. I genuinely appreciate it. I love Genealogy and my Genealogy Family.

11 May 2012

Friday Funny - You're Supposed to USE What You Learn at #NGS2012?

OK, so it's Friday and I've tried my best to keep everyone posted on what I'm doing at the same time I'm trying to absorb as much of the information as I can while I'm here in Cincinnati. Lots of the people who've been to NGS before warned me that it can be mentally overwhelming, so I tried to plan plenty of time to  take breaks if I needed to. And believe me, I have.

Wednesday started with three terrific sessions and an evening that almost ended in disaster when we had to wait an hour and a half to get food in the Hyatt's bar called Champs. We arrived at 6:30, and by 7:30 we hadn't gotten the food we'd ordered. When a table full of our friends who arrived after us got their food, well, we were rightfully upset. The poor bartendress was doing her best, but we were all surprised that a facility that size would be so poorly staffed. They ended up comping the dinner, which we all felt was the right thing to do on their part. The food was admittedly very good, but sadly the excruciatingly bad service mitigated that. Consider it an FYI for when you're in Cincinnati. 

Thursday morning arrived and we decided to forgo the early sessions. My first session was by Jana Sloan Broglin titled "Ohio: The Great Land Experiment." She explained the manner in which the land in Ohio had been broken up into a variety of chunks and either granted or sold off. I found this presentation interesting mainly because I have Ohio settlers, and in my notes I underlined one of the groups of land she'd mentioned: The Symmes Purchase. This was land purchased by agents of John Cleve Symmes and took up parts of Hamilton, Warren, and Butler counties. I also noted (with an asterisk, I might add) that I should check which tract the Burrows, my Revolutionary War Patriot family, had settle in and work back to find out how they acquired it. 

We ran out for lunch and I had the pleasure of sharing a table with Amy Crow and Marcy of @Ghyxion fame. I'd love to have the chance to spend more time with both of them. 
Linda McCauley, Susan Clark, Becky Wiseman, Laura Cosgrove Lorenzana
Amy Crow, Marcy (@Ghyxion), Tina Lyons
Photo courtesy Linda McCauley 2012
But, sessions called, and off we went...

I attended the session "Navigating the NARA Branches" by Julie Miller. I blush when I admit that yes, I'm an Archivist and yes, I know Doug Bicknese the Director at the Great Lakes NARA location and yes, I've never been in a NARA branch. I was very glad that I sat in on this session if for no other reason than I learned that you can reserve a microfilm machine on-line for the Great Lakes location, and they recommend that you do that. So, when I go, I'll be more prepared. I love that!

And then, I hit the big time. I went to my first Tom Jones presentation, entitled "Inferential Genealogy: Deducing Ancestors Identities Indirectly." I understand why everyone suggested that I had to hear him speak. From start to finish, he filled the hour with ways in which we can use the power of inference to move us toward a conclusion. The best moment? He said this, "Eleanor's not a biblical name. I know. I googled the Bible." The room erupted in laughter.

Last but not least was the "Assumptions: A Genealogical Slippery Slope" by Claire Bettag. As I was sitting waiting for the session to start, I realized the irony of the fact I'd just been listening to someone telling me how I can infer information to move my research forward, and now I was getting ready to listen to someone else tell me not to make assumptions. However, in the end, what she explained is that we need to be aware of the different types of assumptions that can be made, and provided some tools to avoid those assumptions.

After the sessions, we made a beeline for Moerlein Lager House. It's fairly new, and if you're in Cincinnati, I strongly recommend it. If you're looking for a quiet place to eat though, this in not the place for you. It's fairly noisy. We ate upstairs out on the patio; the weather was gorgeous, the food was fabulous, and the beer recommended by our waiter was excellent. We left 'early' because we knew we were going to have to get up very, very early in the morning to make it back down for 8 a.m. sessions.

I can say that starting the morning off with Elizabeth Shown Mills, "Okay, I 'Got the Neighbors': Now What Do I Do with Them?!" will probably be a highlight of the week. Her concept of the FAN club is easy to remember and more importantly an essential tool for those of us who are working to build sound histories of our ancestors. 

Here's where things got a little interesting. There wasn't a session that I was 'dying' to see, and I really wanted the opportunity to go through the exhibit hall. I made the rounds, and at the prior urging of Kathy Reed and Liz Stratton, I headed over to the Hamilton County Genealogical Society booth to become a member. It was a bit crowded, so I started to browse the books. I picked up a copy of a Deeds Index book and started to page through...

BAM!!! Wait, what?! Big as you please, there's this entry: BURROWS, Stephen. At the end of the entry it says, Elizabethtown, NJ. That's MY Stephen Burrows! In a deeds index in Hamilton County in 1815! Liz Stratton was standing at the booth and suggested that I go to the Cincinnati History Library & Archives because they have the Deeds on microfilm. I bought the book, got my membership and headed to the next session with my brain spinning.

I got to the room where the next session was and decided that I was going to forgo the later afternoon sessions and head over to the History Library & Archives. The session I sat in on was Tom Jones, "Documentation: The What, Why, and Where." In all seriousness, this was a mini-session on source citations. He made some extremely relevant points, the best of which is that our documentation is communication and that if we don't properly document we're not properly communicating with our audience. Definitely food for thought. 

We grabbed a quick but extremely delicious lunch at the Hilton: pasta buffet! They kindly provided a 15% discount for Conference attendees, so it was even better. But my mind was on that deed.

So, I got to the Cincinnati History Library & Archives, which is in an incredible Art Deco building. I first asked if they would pull the accession from a donation that my 2nd cousin Robert Wersel had made in 1990. I was able to see some, but not all of the assession. I then went into the room where they store the microfilm, and pulled the appropriate rolls. Right there, big as you please on the pages indicated in the index, was my Stephen Burrows Deed. I'd let you guess where the land was, but I couldn't believe it myself. He paid $1547 for 357 acres of SYMMES PURCHASE. How cool is that? If I'd seen this document only a few days before now, that information wouldn't have meant anything to me. But,  because I'd sat in Ms. Broglin's Session on Thursday morning, I knew that the Symmes Purchase was made in 1787, and the first settlers followed in 1788. I also know from the deed that is dated in 1815 that I can infer that Stephen Burrows decided to move because his father passed away in early 1815, and not being the oldest son, he would have been free to do as he chose fit. I pulled not only the deeds on the pages given, but also several pages before and after (I would've pulled more, but I didn't have the time) so that I can look at who else bought land at the same time. I will pull additional records for who purchased the land around them to help me create a broader picture with the Burrows FANs. 

What a phenomenal week this has been. And it's not over yet. There are sessions tomorrow to enjoy, and then I'm going back to my cousin Mary's to finish working with the documents my cousin Nancy was kind enough to loan me so I can do some conservation work on them to stabilize them a bit more and get some clearer scans of them (one is dated 1850). I'll stay Sunday night, then head over to Bloomington, Indiana to visit Mary's uncle Steve, the twin brother of her mom, Nancy. Yes, his name is Stephen. Did I mention Stephen Burrows had a sister Nancy? 

I love genealogy.

09 May 2012

Wisdom Wednesday - The Brain Trust at NGS 2012

Welcome to NGS 2012! What an amazing day it's been. My roommate, Becky Wiseman of Kinexxions fame, and I decided we'd forgo the opening session and start with the later morning session. 

My first session was The Family Tapestry: Intergrating Proof Arguments Into the Genealogical Narrative by Jeanne Larzalere Bloom. Ms. Bloom reviewed the process of a reasonably exhaustive search, location of evidence and the construction of the proof statement. While the material itself is pretty dry, I thoroughly enjoyed the way she presented this information. She went step by step as she worked through proving a case. What I felt was truly a learning opportunity was she showed us that though she proved her case, she hadn't done a 'reasonably exhaustive' search, because she'd neglected to search obituaries and land records. Great information.

I then caught up with Tina Lyons, Susan Clark, Linda McCauley and Becky and we walked over to Paula's for lunch. The food was great; Paula's Fave salad was a big hit! The conversation was free flowing and the time just flew by. 

Second session was Hatched, Matched and Dispatched: Vital Records Research by C. Ann Staley. This session was a wonderful overview of the three main groups of records for genealogy: birth, marriage and death. 

The last session of the day was Military Bounty Records: A Rich Resource by Rick Sayre. This is a record group I'm sorely lacking in knowledge, so I welcomed the variety of information Mr. Sayre presented. Revolutionary War Bounty Land records are part of the pension records, however not all subsequent land records are found in pension records. The amount of derivative information in the land records can be quite exhaustive, so this will be a record group that I start looking at more closely.

Right now, I'm taking a break. Can you tell I'm tired? I am, but it's a great kind of tired. We'll be meeting up tonight with other Geneabloggers ...and then we do it all again tomorrow!! I can't wait...

08 May 2012

Technology Tuesday - There's an App for That - NGS 2012

Good Morning everyone! Ready for NGS2012? Have a few last minute things to pack?

I've been running like a madwoman since I got into Cincinnati on Sunday. I managed to start processing two boxes of family photos and correspondence my cousin has, went to two cemeteries and got to the Cincinnati Library for about three hours yesterday to look at microfilm. I forgot to mention in my post yesterday (it's here) that I met another first time conference goer, named John, while we were looking at microfilm. He'd come in on Friday to do family research also, and though a bit shy about having his name in my little blog, he's definitely the typical (as I see it for myself) first time conference attendee: we want to cram as much into, and get as much out of, this week as we possibly can.

So as we were standing there fawning over the new microfilm machines, I mentioned that I was going to spend a bit more time going over the Conference schedule on the great app that they have for smartphones. He hadn't heard about it, and while I know I've seen it on my Twitter feed, I suspect it might not be as well publicized as it could be. I use an Android phone, but I believe the app is the same for an iPhone. So, without further ado:

Locate the place to find apps. You have to download an app called 'Guidebook'. Once you've downloaded and installed that, there's a page to 'Select a Guide to Download'. There are four options here, and by selecting the 'Trade Shows & Events' tab, it opens up everything that is available. You'll need to scroll through the list of available guides under the 'Soon' tab, but you can't miss the #NGS2012 logo! Select the tab for that, and the guide will begin to download. Be patient, it might take a minute.

There will now be a tab called 'My Guides'. In the future, there will be an icon on your phone called 'Guidebook' and when you select that, it immediately takes you to the 'My Guides' page. Select the 'NGS 2012 Family History Conference' tab and...Voila! You, my friend, have just opened up a world of great tools!

My favorite, right now, is the Exhibitors page. Not only can you see an alphabetical list of vendors, but by selecting a vendor, you go to a page that describes what they have AND the very best part? At the bottom, there is an 'Add to To-Do' selection. That's right! By selecting that link, it will add to your 'To-Do' list an item that says, 'Visit (insert vendor here)'. There are also pages for News Flash, Speakers, Maps, Photos, Twitter (#NGS2012...how awesome!), and the part I love the most, Schedules by Day, Level, and Tracks. Once you've added the sessions that you want, you can select 'My Schedule' to see a daily breakdown of everything you have planned.

THIS is going to be my number 1 tool while I'm at the Conference. A bit of a hint: there's another app called 'Juice Defender' that I recommend for anyone who worries about their battery running out of, well, juice. Especially for those of us who will be relying on our phones for blogging, tweeting, and all varieties of other social media during the conference, ensuring your battery is working at its most efficient is very important. I carry an additional battery and a credit card sized charger also.

So, are you ready? This is my first NGS conference. I'm nervous as...I'm really nervous. It's a good nervous. I'm hoping to meet lots and lots of people who share my passion for genealogy. I'm also excited to share my passion for preserving the work we do. If you're going...find me! I want to meet you. It's going to be a wonderful conference!

07 May 2012

Madness Monday - The Insanity that is NGS 2012

It's Monday night already! If you're heading to Cincinnati for the National Genealogical Society Annual Conference, prepare yourself. Actually, I'm not sure that you can ever be completely ready for all the wonderful things that Cincinnati has to offer. For those of us with roots here, it's a bit of a home coming. And, you never know what kind of a reception you're going to get. Mine, mine has been just phenomenal.

I started to write a post last night and got interrupted in the best way (you'll see at the end); so here's the start...

[This is a very special Sunday for me. I'm in Cincinnati, Ohio sitting in the home of the woman who was my first contact with my Wersel family, way back in 1996. Nancy Baer Strubbe, otherwise known as Nan, was by all accounts a genuinely warm and wonderful woman. Even though her husband John was gravely ill, she took the time to not only reply to a letter of inquiry that I'd sent, but to connect with me on the phone as well. She was so excited that I was researching our Wersel roots; Nan's mother Virginia and my great grandfather Henry were brother and sister. She provided me with a number of great clues to our family history, and I enjoyed the time we spent conversing.

Last December I made my first trip to Cincinnati as an adult. At the generous invitation of Nan's son Bill Strubbe, I stayed with he and his wife Kim for a weekend. I came in on Friday, and because Bill and Kim had an event to attend, they arranged for Bill's brother and sister, Chuck and Mary, to take me to dinner and for a tour of the part of town our Wersel family has lived in since before the beginning of the 20th Century. We had a wonderful time, and I was absolutely thrilled to have had the opportunity to see the Cincinnati Observatory up close and personal. On Saturday, we visited Spring Grove Cemetery, made a quick trip to the Vine Street Hill Cemetery (the office was closed) and then went out to Maineville Cemetery, all so I could take pictures. That evening, we shared a lovely meal with our third cousin, Nancy Wersel Rybolt and her husband Bill. They brought with them incredible family documents that I've only started to glean for additional information on our shared history. I scanned everything during the evening, got up early the next morning to finish scanning and then hit the road to go home. It was a whirlwind.

And six months later, I'm back. It feels a bit like a dream, sitting here with Mary, who bought Nan's house from her estate, talking about the bits and pieces that she knows.]

At this point, I stopped, looked at Mary, and said, 'Hey. Didn't you mention some boxes you have?' She exclaims, jumps up, and brings out two large, archival storage boxes. My heart races; the last time someone in the family showed me documents they included material dating as far back as 1825! I opened the first box, and it is filled to the brim with photos and correspondence. Here's a picture I took of the contents this morning:

It took all my will power to close up that box so I could go do the things I knew I needed to today; and I didn't let myself down!  I visited the Vine Street Hill Cemetery, and old German cemetery that I have to admit is not in the greatest shape. I believe I located my original immigrant ancestor, Nicolaas Jan Francois Wersel. However, neither the burial card, nor the very badly damaged headstone were able to provide any clues: 

I then shot over to the pastoral Spring Grove Cemetery. If you are at NGS and have not been to Cincinnati, I can't recommend strongly enough that you either join the tour or get yourself over to the Cemetery. It is breathtaking.

After getting lots of pictures there, I headed downtown to the Library. It was already 2 pm so I didn't have as much time as I might have liked, but I was still able to pull microfilm from the Newpapers department to view. The best part is that they generously offered to let me take the film up to the 3rd floor where the Genealogy department is so I could you their brand new film scanners. The new machines are USB compatible and are very fancy, but easy to use. A word of warning to those planning on going to the Library: they know we're coming. They're doing everything in their power to be prepared for us. But, there is only so much space and so much time, so please be patient.

OK, that's all for now. Yup, I'm ending right here. I have things to scan!!

04 May 2012

Follow Friday - I Can't Afford to Go to NGS2012 !!

It is Friday. Thank goodness! And, more importantly, it's the Friday before the week of the National Genealogical Society's Annual Convention in Cincinnati, Ohio. I can't believe it's here already! It seems like yesterday that Jen Holik was asking me if I was going to go; at that point I decided to take the plunge and just do it. 

Of course, the biggest factor is cost. It costs a lot to go to a conference. Between the cost of the conference itself, which to be honest in my opinion is very reasonable, to the cost of getting there, feeding yourself, going to events, etc. it adds up quickly. If you're lucky, like me, the conference is somewhere you can drive to, but not everyone's so lucky. And, I'm splitting the cost of the room with someone who wouldn't have gone to the conference otherwise, so that was a cost saver and a win-win there as well. (Thanks, Becky...I can't wait to meet you!)

So, what do you do if you CAN'T afford to go. You miss the whole thing, right? Nope! There are lots and lots of ways to get the information about what's happening right here on the Internet. Whether it's blogs, Facebook, Google+ or Twitter, people will be talking about what's happening. In the past I've been able to follow along at the Society of American Archivists convention, American Library Association convention, and even some events I wouldn't have thought of going to but was able to 'attend' through social media. 

I'm going to suggest that if you haven't tried Twitter before, now is the time to do it. The benefit of Twitter is that you can follow the entire stream of information by searching the hashtag (the '#' sign) #NGS2012 . Follow @ngsgenealogy for up to the moment (not minute, moment) information also. But, by following the hashtag, you're seeing everything that people are commenting about as it happens. So, for instance, let's say there's a particularly interesting session happening that I'm in, and the presenter provides a pearl of wisdom that everyone goes 'aha'! to: I would tweet it with the hashtag and you'll see it in your stream just like you're there. It's so cool!

There'll be a group of Official Bloggers who will (hopefully) be doing just that: blogging about what's happening at NGS2012. I'm one of them, so I'll be blogging more than I usually do. I know lots of people will be updating their Facebook pages and Google+ streams. Oh, and don't forget LinkedIn!! Lots of Genealogists will be using LinkedIn to provide information about what's new in our Industry. 

So, I hope you'll follow along with me as I attend my first NGS conference. I'm excited, nervous, and thrilled at the opportunity to learn what's happening in Genealogy today. And, if you can't afford to go, I'll be there for you. As a matter of fact, if there's something you'd like to know, a vendor you have a question for or a session you're particularly interested in, comment here, or email me or get me on Social media and I'll do my best to get an answer for you! 

Oh, did I mention I'm staying with my 2nd cousin Mary Sunday and Monday so I can get some of my own personal research done too? You'll definitely want to keep an eye out for that! Have an awesome Friday everyone!!