Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Family Cookbook with a Dash of Genealogy

Ten years ago I decided to develop a family cookbook. I typed recipes from index cards and scraps of paper of my mother and grandmother's recipes. I then added my own favorites and those shared by my husband’s family and our friends. Along the way, I put these recipes into categories, developed a table of contents for each category, and then made an index. This compilation was put into a pretty 3-ring binder. Over the years, I have clipped more recipes that I thought looked interesting at the time, and popped them into the divider sleeves.

I’ve decided it is time to pull all the categories together and have the cookbook permanently bound. I’m lucky that most of the recipes have been typed, and the index developed. I went through the sleeves and threw out most of my clippings. I do have a small pile sitting next to my keyboard that need to be included. Typing recipes is not fun!

Since many of the recipes came from loved ones, I decided to give this book a genealogy flavor. I will have a contributor page in the front matter that will have the name of the person, a photo when I have one, and a short bio/genealogy of that person. The sample below is what I will include for my grandmother’s brother, Kenneth Hardenbrook. I’m sure as I work on this I will come up with more ideas to make this publication even more personal and fun.

Kenneth Hardenbrook (shown above with his mother Laura Hardenbrook) was the son of Enos and Laura (Wortman) Hardenbrook. He was born 10 May 1909. He and his sister, Maude Emma were raised in Jacksonville, New York. In 1936 Kenneth was proprietor of Ken’s Lunch located at 212 South Cayuga Street in Ithaca, New York and then in 1941 Kenneth co-owed R&H Diners with L. Gerald Rich. They were proprietors of the Cayuga Diner located at 235 South Cayuga Street, and the Sterling Diner located at 333 East State Street, in Ithaca. Kenneth’s father, Enos, worked as assistant chef at the Sterling Diner. Kenneth married Mildred Elston. Kenneth was a born chef, and his Ken’s Meatballs recipe can be found on page ___.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

George Henry d: 13 July 1868

On our hike at Lake Anna State Park (VA) last weekend, I had the opportunity to walk for a time with a neighbor who told me she had inherited some vital record documents from her father. The documents meant nothing to her, and she didn’t think her daughter cared, so she was going to throw them out. The genealogist in me said, “If you’ll loan them to me, I’ll scan them and put them on my blog. That way if there is anyone out there researching this family, they can find them.” She agreed.

Early yesterday morning I scanned fourteen large documents of her father’s relatives in England and Ireland. There was also a folder of responses her dad received during the 1950s and 1960s from letters he sent to Irish custom houses, circuit courts and hospitals looking for records on William Henry and George Henry. The letters were to officials in Dublin, County Cork, The Waterford Heritage Society, and the Huguenot Society. I did come upon one letter – finally – dated 22 January 1952 when he received a positive reply from the Hospitals for Diseases of the Chest. His death was registered in the County of Middlesex, and is in the General Register Office, Somerset House, London. That letter is shown below.

Over the next period of time I will post more of these documents with the hope they will prove helpful to some researcher here or abroad.

Friday, June 2, 2017

A Mystery to Solve - Now Solved!

I’ve been working on reorganizing, archiving and indexing my genealogy material. While adding items to my Agard Box #1, I came across a letter my great-grandfather, Arthur Agard wrote to his son, Merritt Agard, who was wintering in Florida. The letter was dated 17 February 1968, just two weeks shy of when Arthur died in his sleep.

My great-grandmother, Jessie Tucker Agard, started the letter and then handed it over to Arthur to share his news. And that is where the mystery comes in.

Below is a transcription of Arthur’s news and I wonder to what issue he is talking about. It refers to a road reconfiguration, so I thought maybe they were considering building a road diagonally from Route 96 to Route 89. But that doesn’t make sense. My cousin thinks it might have to do with zoning. Or, could it be gerrymandering? The Ulysses Town Historian is checking with his colleagues at the historical society, and my cousin is checking with the local zoning officer. I was hoping any Blog readers from the Town of Ulysses, Jacksonville or Trumansburg might have an insight as to what this issue was in winter 1968.

Arthur wrote:

“People are curious about the road and make all kinds of remarks. The Boulevard suburbanites held a meeting at Glenwood Pines and asked Bill (Agard) to come to it as he had the most inside information. As he and Bennett Stover went to Syracuse and saw the maps and since has had a set here to study, but did not take them to Glenwood meeting. It goes south of Scotts and crosses the creek and takes the old Spicer (?) house at top of hill and crosses the old Fowler 9 acres and woods and crosses the swamp on Furman and crosses Kraft and hits us (Agard Road) about 500 feet wide. Railroad counted out. Takes English’s and Ogden’s and schoolhouse (Willow Creek School) and all of Frasiers and 9 acres of the Atwater place and on to Paul Vann’s. There are no crossovers on the map. They work them out as demand calls for.”

14 June 2017 
Thanks to cousin Nan Agard Colvin, Sarah Koski, Ulysses Deputy Town Clerk, Darby Kiley, Environmental Planner, Town of Ulysses, and Carissa Parlato,Clerk, Town of Ulysses, the answer to my mystery is solved. In a link to the Official Minutes Books 1959-1976 I found a mention in the March 6, 1968 minutes that the state was planning an extension of Route 96 that goes between Ithaca and Trumansburg. I don't know what the plan was exactly, but according to Art Agards letter, it might have planned for the road to veer down to connect with other roads in the Willow Creek area, run across the top of the ridge, and come out near the hospital. That's only a guess. 

Monday, May 29, 2017

Writing a Family History – The Nitty-gritty

The book Guide to Genealogical Writing by Penelope L. Stratton and Henry B. Hoff was mentioned in a couple of sessions I attended at NERGC. I decided to purchase a copy and am glad I did!

This book gets down to the nitty-gritty of producing a written family history. The first chapter sets the stage: “Shifting Mental Gears.” In other words, you have to stop thinking like a researcher and get into the mindset of a writer. Now, this is the heart of the matter and what I struggle with for my September presentation - how to encourage genealogists who love the chase, but feel they have no writing skills.

Some suggestions: After deciding the scope of your project, one ancestral line or several, determine your audience and time frame. Those decisions will narrow down your focus. From the research you have completed, develop a table of contents. This is not set in stone, but will serve as a guide to keep you on track.

Chapter two explains the genealogical numbering systems, and I admit I have not followed either in my previous monographs. That is something I have on my to-do list.

Chapter three explains how to make a style sheet, and this is something I have done. It is necessary to ensure consistency in your writing. I also use it for citation styles I use the most – utilizing the formats in Evidence Explained by Elizabeth Shown Mills.

The above is a sample of the wonderful information contained in this book, taking the genealogist from the very start right through publication. I encourage anyone thinking about writing up family stories to purchase this book. It even gets down to the detail that there is only ONE space after a period! Not what our generation was taught.

A Worlds Collide Moment - I was surprised to see their example of a narrative geographic setting on page 48. The narrative, “On the Coast of Ireland,” starts by saying “… among the markers in St. Rose Cemetery in Sandy Hook, CT … “ That information, I believe, they got from the Irish Tombstone Transcription project I did in 2005!!!  My transcription of the Irish tombstones was published in Connecticut Ancestry (November 2005 Vol. 48, No2), and also resides on the Genealogy Club of Newtown’s website. It proves once again genealogy is a small world. After completing the transcriptions in St. Rose Cemetery, I then did the Irish tombstones in Old St. Peter's Cemetery, Danbury, CT, with the help of Harlan Jessup. Harlan took our project to the board of Connecticut Ancestry, who assembled volunteers to record the rest of Fairfield County's Irish tombstones.

Friday, May 26, 2017

NERGC 2017 – Writing a Family History

I looked forward to this session, since I am to give a Writing Your Family History presentation to our genealogical society at its September meeting. There is no better person to learn about writing from than Warren Bittner.

It’s important to know the concept of your story. Are you using information from diaries, letters, or first hand accounts? To fill out your ancestors, search all the records: Military, court, probate, contemporary letters and diaries. Analyze each document and understand it in its historical context. Read local histories and family histories. Know the law at the time your ancestor lived. Understand their ethnic and religious background. How did those affect your family? What was the educational philosophy of the time? Know their medical history.

When you have completed an exhaustive search following the Genealogical Proof Standard (GPS), according to the Board for Certification of Genealogists (BCG), you can then start writing.

Hook the reader from the first sentence. This applies to all writing, but might not be so apparent when writing family history. Choose a significant event or an interesting ancestor. Start with action, and begin the story in the middle or near the end. Get the reader hooked, define the story’s theme, and add context to your ancestor’s lives.

Use active voice, strong verbs (Warren included an extensive list), and make every word work. Make every sentence advance the story. Describe (if you can) your ancestors and the places they lived. Did your ancestor (s) change over the years? If so, how?

There are a number of ways to present your family story. Find what works best for your family, and enjoy the writing journey.

P.S. The writing process will show you what details you are missing.

Monday, May 22, 2017

NERGC 2017 – Searching for Living Persons

We’ve all wished we could talk to someone who might have that critical piece of the family puzzle. If only we could talk to Aunt (or Uncle) So-and-So. They are in their 80s or 90s now, and we don’t know where – or if - they are living. How can we find out? That’s the reason I attended Thomas MacEntee’s, They’re Alive! session at NERGC.

Besides expanding our genealogy research, other reasons you might need to find long lost relatives is if you are planning a family reunion, or find cousins who might be working on collateral lines. website is free to search, and it might give you enough information in order to use other sources to drill down. When I put hubby’s name in and the state, the site came up with four cities he was associated with, along with a list of people. The site wants you to click through to their paid section for more information, but Thomas warned the audience about doing this. is another reputable site. When I put hubby’s name and state into this site’s search function, it was very fast. It gave two locations in which he had lived, and one in which he hadn’t. It gave a list of people, some with middle initials, and one more than PeopleFinder.

ZabaSearch was fast, provided hubby’s current address and includes a Google map of the location. It listed the same associations, but the phone number listed was outdated. is another interesting site, providing much the same information as the others. All these sites have paid options for more information, and Thomas said – Use at your own discretion.

Other ways to find folks is to utilize Google, Bing, and Yahoo!. These sites might have the information you need. White pages, Facebook, Ancestry public trees, Twitter, Google Blog search are all options for finding people. Alumni associations – high school and colleges, court records are also possibilities.

My Best Takeaways: Learning about ZabaSearch with its Google map feature. Whether you find a family tree online or information from one of the people finder sites, always verify the information yourself. Thomas allows information he produces to be used in genealogical society newsletters. All the newsletter editor has to do is contact him and ask permission. Very generous.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

NERGC 2017 – Planning a Future for Your Family’s Past

Marian Burk Wood at NERGC 2017
The session we were waiting for was at 3:00 on the first day of the conference. Our good friend, Marian Burk Wood was presenting information on how to organize and preserve your genealogy materials for future generations.

I didn’t need to take notes. I already had her companion book Planning a Future for YourFamily’s Past. This book is a must-have for every genealogist.

The room was packed, even though Marian’s time slot competed with presentations by well-known speakers like Thomas MacEntee. Elissa Scalise Powell, and Helen Shaw.  It was apparent that conference attendees craved information on how to preserve their genealogy collections.

Marian introduced the audience to her PASS Process: Prepare by organizing materials; Allocate ownership; Set up a genealogical “will,” and Share with heirs.

She went on to explain how to sort your “stuff,” and various organizational techniques. She had examples of storage materials and showed how to use and label.

After placing documents and photos into acid/lignin free archival boxes, Marian inventories the items. She explained how this process makes it easy for her and other family members to know what is in box.

She covered the delicate situation of family feuds. What to do if more than one person wants possession of your genealogical materials. She also explained what to do if no one steps up. She suggested donating your material to your ancestor’s local historical society or other interested repository. She found repositories for items that were of no value to her family, i.e. she donated a WWII war bond wallet showing General MacArthur to the MacArthur Memorial Museum in Norfolk, VA. Make sure you contact the organization and find out their specific donation requirements.

My best takeaways: “By the inch, it’s a cinch.” I have to remind myself that in order to tackle the job of preserving my genealogy research, I have to do it in small increments. Although I have acid free boxes and photo envelopes, they aren’t adequate for our documents and photos. Nor have I inventoried the boxes. Many items are in Pendaflex folders and we have photos that are not labeled. I have ordered more archival boxes and protective sleeves. Not enough to take care of everything hubby and I have, but it is a start – remember – by the inch, it’s a cinch. We also have to develop our genealogy “wills.” Good luck with your preservation efforts.