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Slaves in the Backyard

Moore Genealogy

Sometimes a story that needs to be told could be right outside your door. Perhaps you just failed to comprehend, or it just grew too familiar and as a result, gave it no real thought. This post is a small footnote in the telling of this much larger story, and I hope a means for some to help find their family’s story. This story was found in my wife’s backyard in her childhood home

This is a picture of my brother-in-law playing Frisbee with his young nephew (out of picture) in my wife’s family backyard. The two trees with the overgrown bushes between them are the Treadwell family graves. In the upper right hand part of the picture you can see part of Lake Champlain. That is Treadwell Bay. My wife and I use to walk through her grandfather’s pastures to swim and picnic there when we were dating.
Moore…

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RootsTech 2019 Salt Lake City Part II

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This was the first time for me to present at RootsTech as well as visit Salt Lake City and I must state that both were very enjoyable!  With so much to see and do at the conference, it was a wonderful smorgasbord of events for everyone.

 

IMG_2491The Expo Hall was filled with vendors and products that filled my head with ideas and my bag with items to use in my research. My husband and I also enjoyed getting our picture made with the tree man from RootsFinder.

 

 

IMG_2507What I especially enjoyed was presenting with Valerie Elkins and Rachel Trotter, two professionals who know the ins and outs of getting families involved in genealogical research. I learned so much from just listening to their presentations.

 

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Not a bad group for 8:00 on a Saturday morning!  When it came time for my presentation, I was so glad I had taken the advice of my professional speaker and presenter son, Michael Villareal, who recommended that I practice, practice, practice. Good advice! I felt totally at ease even with this huge group.

 

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After the presentation, I was able to share a bit of information about my books . . .

 

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and give my good friend, Cindy Medina, a big hug!

 

 

Thank you, Heidi Ertel, Tara Bergeson, and all the staff who helped organize and make RootsTech 2019 such a wonderful experience! 

 

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15 Secrets of Genealogists

Written by Lela Nargi

Originally published on Mental Floss:

http://bit.ly/2Tidk7v

Genealogy is one of the most popular hobbies in the United States and a billion-dollar industry, but few people know what actually goes into tracking down ancestors—let alone putting information about them into any kind of context. Mental Floss talked to three professional genealogists to learn more about their increasingly in-demand profession, and discovered why they love weird last names, why they’re indebted to the Mormons and the Quakers, and how television is making their job more difficult.

1. MOST OF THEM DON’T HAVE DEGREES IN THE FIELD.

There’s only one accredited four-year genealogy degree program in the U.S.—bachelors at Brigham Young University in Utah. Those who can’t make it to Utah can enroll in certificate programs, such as the one offered at Boston University, where Melinde Byrne teaches. “A lot of people sign up [at certificate programs] thinking it’ll be simple,” she says. Unfortunately, lots of people then fail when they discover how much work the program really is. Learning how to use databases, evaluate evidence, document research, locate and search public records, and define genealogical terms is essential knowledge for genealogists-in-training. Other course offerings may teach about ethics in DNA testing, how to read historical documents in multiple languages, and the best methods for writing historical narratives.

But those who don’t want to commit to a whole certificate can take advantage of other, less formal options, such as classes in conjunction with library science programs, lectures offered by historical and other societies, and week-long intensives at institutes around the country.

2. THEY’RE BOUND BY PROFESSIONAL STANDARDS TO CONDUCT “EXHAUSTIVE” RESEARCH.

Unlike, say, doctors or lawyers, genealogists don’t need a specific qualification to practice. But they’re still guided by professional standards—including the five Genealogical Proof Standards developed by the Board for Certification of Genealogists, a non-profit in D.C. The five standards are considered best practices for coming “as close as possible to what actually happened in history,” and include 1) “reasonably exhaustive research,” 2) “complete and accurate source citations,” 3) “thorough analysis and correlation,” 4) “resolution of conflicting evidence,” and 5) a “soundly written conclusion based on the strongest evidence.”

Professional researchers may have differing opinions about what constitutes “reasonably exhaustive” research, but most agree that it means visiting archives and making sure to cover all the bases—for example, looking at not just a death certificate to confirm a name and age, but census, birth, and burial records as well, to build a fuller picture and to corroborate it. “If you don’t do all the steps in the genealogical proof standard, then the conclusions aren’t convincing,” Byrne says.

3. THEY OFTEN DISCOVER THEY HAVE A KNACK FOR GENEALOGY WHEN THEY’RE INVESTIGATING THEIR OWN FAMILIES FOR FUN.

Byrne, for example, looked into her family’s history and discovered that “my own father and mother would never have met if my great grandmother in Alsace-Lorraine hadn’t had a goiter.” This medical condition led her to circumvent Ellis Island’s rigorous physical exam in favor of entering the country via Boston, setting a whole new family history—and her parents’ eventual meeting—in motion.

Genealogists will often continue to use their research tools on their own families later in their careers, too. Lee Arnold, who oversees the collections at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania (HSP), has used them to research his family’s past. “One of my ancestors fought with the South Carolina militia during the Revolutionary War,” he says, and service records indicated that he’d “lost his horse.” To Arnold, who grew up on a horse farm, “That meant, I fell off my horse and he beat me back to the barn.” He later learned that the phrase actually meant that a person’s horse had been shot out from under him. These are the kinds of details that get people hooked on genealogy, according to the experts—“how their lives compare to mine, how … the things they did and didn’t do helped to form me,” Byrne says.

4. SOME OF THEM CHARGE MORE THAN $100 AN HOUR.

Genealogists in archive examining archival materials

Genealogists are often hired by families who are curious about their past or hoping to join lineage societies such as the Colonial Dames; by specific libraries or archives; or by companies such as ancestry.com, who have genealogists on staff. Fees generally vary by experience and project, although they tend to start around $20/hour (for simple record searches) and go over $100/hour, with a mid-range of around $55 per hour.

Arnold says there are three levels of genealogical research he’ll personally take on: research limited to HSP’s holdings; research that takes him anywhere in the Philadelphia area; and “our Cadillac version, where we’ll get nana to talk to us about her life in the shtetl.”

5. THEIR RESEARCH SOMETIMES UNCOVERS FAMILY SECRETS.

Be careful what you wish for when you decide to go deep: “I always tell prospective clients, ‘This can be life-changing,'” Byrne says. “‘You may find half-siblings and other relatives you never imagined existed.’”

HSP’s director of research services, David Haugaard, says that clients can be stunned to learn about family members who were deliberately kept hidden. “Within so many families there are people who are written off … somebody might have [had] a mentally ill sibling who was kept secret. It’s less common today than it was, so when people are doing genealogy, it’s not uncommon to learn about people in fairly recent history [who were ignored]. You start to learn that the family was more complex than realized.”

6. BIBLES CAN BE UNEXPECTEDLY USEFUL.

Genealogists use plenty of sources you might not suspect would be helpful. Family bibles, in particular, can offer a wealth of relevant tidbits, since they were once often used to record births, deaths, and marriages. Scrapbooks, tax and church records, land deeds, and the 1870 Census (the first to list African Americans after emancipation) can also be goldmines. So can letters, whether provided by the family or found in manuscript collections, which might casually mention a family member’s birthday or offer snippets about day-to-day existence. “You can gather lots of information from them in a real-life kind of way,” Byrne says.

7. THEY OFTEN FIND MISTAKES IN ORIGINAL DOCUMENTS.

List of 19th century births used for genealogy

iStock

Genealogists know it’s key to consult paper sources—and to give a critical eye to the “facts” they offer. Arnold recalls a colleague becoming confused when an ancestry site listed her grandfather as white and from North Carolina when she knew he was black and from Louisiana. “I was able to go into the original documents and see that they had been transcribed wrong,” Arnold says—a common occurrence for sites outsourcing work to other countries. (Another common transcription error: mistaking a florid handwritten 17th century S for an F.)

That doesn’t mean paper sources are error-free, of course. Sometimes mistakes were made in the original documents themselves: Census workers may have misspelled names or miscounted children; priests may have mismarked birth dates on baptismal certificates. Pros know how to cross-reference all that, too … with more documents!

8. THE WEIRDER YOUR LAST NAME, THE MORE THEY LIKE IT.

“I often tell people we’re like private investigators looking for dead people—we know your ancestors have to be there; you didn’t just hatch from an egg,” Arnold says. “The problem is, it’s so labor-intensive for a common name; you could spend hours looking at the wrong Smith. It’s better if you have an obscure last name.” Names like Brown, White, Jones, and Johnson are especially tough—although matters can be made easier if family members had a distinctive first name (“Napoleon Jones” will be easier than “John Jones,” for example).

9. THERE’S A WHOLE FIELD THAT DEALS WITH LEGAL CASES.

Forensic genealogists—like Byrne—apply genealogical tools and principles to cases with legal ramifications. In the process, they often solve mysteries. Byrne might track down a next of kin for someone seeking the heir to a family fortune, or to repatriate the remains of a soldier killed in action. One of Byrne’s colleagues helped a woman prove that the man who kidnapped her as a girl was not her father—and was, in fact, a grisly serial killer. Another forensic genealogist discredited a woman who claimed she was raised by wolves and that she killed Nazis while hiding out in the woods. Sometimes, Byrne says, the tip-off comes just from talking to relatives; in the wolf case, for example, “Her first cousin was still living and he basically said, ‘Misha always had such an incredible imagination.’”

The man thought to be the Golden State Killer and East Area Rapist was also caught using forensic genealogy strategies. Police compared DNA found at the killer’s crime scenes with DNA test results from an unidentified genealogy site and found a match with a user of the site. The user wasn’t the killer himself, but by going through their family tree for the potential suspect who matched clues in the case, police found their man. “The techniques used to find the Golden State Killer combined solid police work with genetic genealogists’ principles,” Byrne says. “This is done routinely to reunite children and birth families, to identify the remains of KIA or MIA soldiers, and increasingly to identify John Does, Jane Does, and Baby Does.”

10. THEY’RE GRATEFUL TO THE MORMONS …

Person with hand on marriage records

ISTOCK

A good number of online records exist thanks to the efforts of Mormons. For years, they’ve been sending missionaries to HSP and other archives to scan hundreds of thousands of family histories, usually in exchange for a royalty and free access to the scans for the society’s patrons. What’s their interest? Posthumous baptisms for the family members who weren’t Mormon—so they can stay together in heaven. Genealogists agree the scans are a tremendous asset to researchers, with a caveat: Not even close to everything is scanned, and mistakes are also common. “You still need to use as many different paper sources as you can,” Haugaard advises.

11. … AND THE QUAKERS.

Some things would make genealogical research a snap—for example, if your ancestors were Quakers. According to Haugaard, that’s because the Quakers were always issuing certificates; when someone moved, say, to use as an introduction at the Quaker Meeting in a new town, and also when they were kicked out of the community. “Lots of [mid-18th century] Quakers got in trouble for fighting, or drinking, or marrying out of unity, then were disowned,” Haugaard says. What that means is, “Basically, they kept great records.”

12. GENEALOGY SHOWS DRIVE THEM NUTS.

Producers and participants of "Genealogy Roadshow" speaking onstage during a panel discussion in 2013

Producers and participants of Genealogy Roadshow speaking onstage during a panel discussion in 2013
FREDERICK M. BROWN/GETTY IMAGES

Grudgingly, Arnold admits that TV shows like Finding Your Roots and Genealogy Roadshow have “introduced people to genealogy and made it really hot—I mean, you can’t swing a dead cat without hitting an ancestry.com commercial.” But the shows have also given people unreasonable expectations about what genealogy can and cannot do. Byrne says, “People don’t understand that [the history] is not all laid out in front of you” as it typically is on TV. Arnold says he fields requests from patrons who ask him to “‘Tell me about my ancestors, just like that guy on TV did.’ They think it’s easy and quick.” In fact, what Arnold calls those “ta-da” moments offered by hosts like Henry Louis Gates Jr. are actually made possible by professional genealogists hired to painstakingly research ancestry over the course of days, weeks, months.

13. IT’S EASIER FOR THEM TO RESEARCH YOUR ANCESTORS IF THEY WERE RICH.

Ancestors with less money—who maybe didn’t own property or pay taxes—can be less likely to leave a paper trail. But employment agency, almshouse, prison, and orphanage records can get the research ball rolling, as can advertisements offering rewards for runaway indentured servants. Haugaard explains that charity society records also frequently provide details: Society workers would visit families and “make records indicating the woman of the household’s name, how many people were in the household, what religion they were, and what charity they received, like coal or groceries.”

14. PERSECUTED GROUPS CAN BE A MAJOR CHALLENGE.

Research files being used for genealogy

ISTOCK

Three groups of people looking for their roots make Arnold steel himself for some rigorous research. If the case involves African Americans, Native Americans, or Jews, “I know this is going to be a tough one,” he says. That’s because their records are often scant or nonexistent. Slaves often weren’t allowed to marry (or their marriages were never recorded); Native Americans didn’t traditionally write their histories down; and Jews fleeing Europe during World War II often had all family records destroyed as synagogues and villages were torched. Sometimes, their papers were falsified in order for people to survive.

These factors make picking up someone’s trail difficult, if not impossible. “I had one woman come in to a talk I was giving and say, ‘How do I start? All my ancestors were killed in the Holocaust,’” Arnold remembers. “And I said, ‘Alright, then your ancestry starts with you. Document your life for your [descendants].”

15. THEY MIGHT ENCOURAGE YOU TO THINK TWICE ABOUT DNA TESTING.

According to Arnold, DNA test results can be sketchy. His own experience with DNA tests from seven companies yielded seven different results, some of them “bizarre”: “One said my family was from Tuscany, but I’m paler than a Presbyterian. Another said I was 5 percent African American. Another said I was Swedish—and that probably means that they found a gene from some randy Viking pillaging the Scots Irish 1000 years ago.”

Part of the problem is that DNA test kits are dependent on data from other people who have taken the tests, which means they are more accurate for some well-represented groups than others. (For example, an American with Irish background taking the test may get a more reliable result than someone whose ancestors were of Middle Eastern descent, since people from the Middle East tend to be less represented in the database.) Also, different companies are working with different data sets, and using different algorithms—which can produce different results.

Haugaard also says that DNA testing may tell you some things you don’t want to know. He recounts a story about a man who connected deeply with his Irish heritage, yet DNA testing undertaken by his family showed he was Jewish, switched at birth with an Irish-American baby. “He passed away before he could learn that,” Haugaard says.

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FHY 7 – Using Books to Hook Kids on Family History | Becky Villareal

An interview with Family History for Youth podcast.

Episode 7 Becky Villareal (1)

Becky Villareal is retired teacher, presenter, family genealogist, and author of three fictional children’s books and one young adult book dealing with genealogical research. She spends her time speaking at schools and genealogical societies, writing, and taking care of grandchildren.

Today
on Family History for Youth

  • Becky shares how she discovered a love of genealogy as searched for her maternal ancestors
  • Hear the reasons why Becky cares about sharing family history with her children and grandchildren
  • Discover the delightful tale of Gianna the Great
  • Gain insight on how to discuss difficult family history situations with kids
  • Learn Becky’s best tips from her teaching days about how to hook elementary age children on family history

Connect with Melissa
Website: Becky Villareal and Gianna the Great
Twitter: @bvillareal
Facebook: Genealogy for Children
Pinterest: beckyreadsbooks
Linkedin: Becky Villareal

I’dlovetomeetyou!
Since we can’t get together in person, come say hello onInstagramor drop…

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Getting Ready for RootsTech 2019

 

ab4e8-crazylady_mediumI once wrote an article about how difficult it was to write a book and wait for publication. In that article, I compared it to waiting for the birth of a child. Since that article, I have had several grandchildren and found that waiting on them was easier than writing a book, publishing said the book and preparing for RootsTech 2019.

Really, I am quite excited about the prospect of presenting with Youth + Family History = Magic with Rachel Trotter and Valerie Elkins in a new and innovative section called “Power Hour” in which attendees will get more bang for their buck. In other words, everyone will receive a lot of information in a short period of time. That will certainly be the case during our presentations as we share our expertise with you. 

The problem I am having is how to share a full meal of information with you in fifteen minutes and still leave you feeling full and happy.  Well, eureka! I have done it and am looking forward to sharing the joys and wonders of getting younger family members involved in family history. It is quite a journey but completely doable. 

See you at RootsTech on Saturday morning March 2nd at 8:00 in room 150 for Youth + Family History = Magic PH5439. Bring your coffee and curiosity with you!  

 

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Do You Know Your Family History? Third Of Americans Can’t Even Name All 4 Grandparents, Survey Finds

Originally published on Studeyfinds.org

NEW YORK — How much do you know about your family tree? For many folks, it’s not very much. A recent survey finds that a third of Americans can’t even name all four of their grandparents, incredibly.

While DNA kits that trace one’s ancestry have surged in popularity over the years, there are still plenty of people who don’t seem to care too much about where they came from. The survey of 2,000 Americans showed that a third of respondents struggled to climb the branches of their family tree beyond their grandparents.

One in five couldn’t even name one of their great-grandparents.

“In recent decades, we’ve seen a major upswing in interest when it comes to researching family history, and this is largely due to the accessibility of historical information,” says Jennifer Utley, Director of Research at Ancestry.com, which commissioned the survey, in a statement. “This valuable historical data is helping people paint a picture of their past.”

It wasn’t just names of relatives that respondents failed to come up with either. A fifth didn’t know the city that any of their grandparents were born in, and 14 percent had no idea what their grandparents even did for a living.

On the bright side, many participants have put in the time and effort to learn about their background. Half of those surveyed say they’ve researched their heritage be it through family tree books, official records, or using an online service. Six out of ten also are aware of the country their last name comes from, and 65 percent were able to name the country or countries their relatives came to America from.

Thankfully, most do wish they knew more: eight in ten say they care about their family history and feel it’s important to find out where they came from. Utley says it’s easier than it seems, it just requires a little bit of work and outreach.

“Most family history research starts with oral history, listening to the stories passed down from generation to generation,” she says. “Conversations during holiday gatherings can help us discover more than just what country our relatives migrated from, but also who they were as individuals – their stories, their dreams and lessons learned.”

As for what kind of information participants said they’d like to learn from their grandparents or great-grandparents, 72 percent were interested in hearing stories of them from when they were young, 62 percent wanted to know where their family came from, and half simply wanted some life advice.

Interestingly, only 40 percent of respondents were interested in their grandparents’ medical history. Just 37 percent cared about the work their grandparents did, and slightly less (36 percent) wanted to hear about the best places they’d traveled to in their lives.

The survey was conducted by OnePoll in December 2018.

https://www.studyfinds.org/family-tree-history-third-americans-cant-name-all-grandparents/?fbclid=IwAR3ELeJ1rwdyts5kcFCecyGOlA4AsXXL8Ms7kjjmZZVCeyDT76JmeReM3yQ

 

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What Does Christmas Look Like All Over the World?

As I began this article, I wanted to find out the different ways Christmas is celebrated all over the world. Yet, as I delved deeper into my research, I found that the Christmas traditions that are celebrated all over the world are remarkably similar.  There are four fundamental attributes, each county celebrates with special foods, celebrations, decorations, and various presents of some kind or another.

Christmas in AustraliaOf course, depending on the climate, things often change. For instance in Australia, where their Christmas is celebrated during their summer, their Santa Clause wears shorts and trades in his reindeer for kangaroos. The dinner consists of cold food such as fish and crackers. In the Falkland Islands, where 3,000 people and 150,000 sheep live, lamb is their food of choice because turkey is very expensive to fly from the United Kingdom. In Venezuela, they have ‘hallacas’ which is a combination of beef, pork, chicken, capers, raisins, and olives rolled up in plantain leaves and steamed. This is reminiscent of the tamales that are such a mainstay forSarma Mexican families during the holiday. In Croatia, the meal on Christmas Day is often turkey, goose or duck with a side dish of ‘sarma’ (cabbage rolls filled with minced pork meat). They also top off the meal with ‘Krafne’ filled with jam, jelly, marmalade or chocolate.

Romania DubasiCelebrations are also a constant in each country with plays, nativity scenes, and caroling a large part of this holiday. In the Dominican Republic of Congo, full musical evenings with multiple choirs and nativity plays last long into the evening and early morning. In Brazil nativity scenes called ‘Os Pastores’ (the Shepherds) are available for everyone to enjoy.  In Romania ‘dubasi’ or bands of 50-60 unmarried men sing through the streets, the same happens in Greece where the young men carry wooden 16-Christmas-carols-by-candlelightboats and receive gifts. Going to Mass for church services is also the norm as in Portugal where the “Missa do Galo” or mass of the rooster is celebrated. In South Africa, where it is a hot time of year, people walk through the streets singing carols by candlelight. What a beautiful sight that must be!

As far as decorations, some countries take the time to spruce up their homes like painting it as people do in Trinidad and Tobago. Trees of various Ukraine spider web treesshapes and forms are the norm as well with spider web decorations in the Ukraine part of bringing good luck into the homes. In Greece basil is kept in a bowl of water in the middle of the table and used to sprinkle holy water throughout the house to ward away evil spirits.  Nativity scenes or creche are often used as decoration as in Malta where the nativity cribs called ‘presepju’ are decorated with ‘pasturi’ or shepherds and angels. Also, seeds such as wheat, grain, and canary seed ‘gulbiena’ are grown to decorate the bed of the baby Jesus.

What I found most fascinating is how presents are looked at and used throughout the world. In most countries like Zimbabwe, new clothes are given as presents every year. In Zambia, presents for the less fortunate are brought to the church. In New Zealand, whereRomania presents.jpg the weather is warm this time of year, ‘jandals’ or flip flops are a favorite gift. Speaking of shoes, in some countries the shoes are dusted off and left out to be filled with sweets and presents this is also true of socks. Not only are presents left under the tree, but are places in shoes as in Romania and Portugal and are often delivered by the baby Jesus as in Slovakia.

I find it incredible that no matter where you are, sharing happy moments with family and friends is an integral part of this time of year. I wish all of you a wonderful Christmas and holiday season. Take care! And if you would like to learn more, check out this great website: www.whychristmas.com.

 

 

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“When the legend becomes fact…print the legend”

A great article!

GAA Magazine

“When the legend becomes fact…print the legend”:
The tragic death of Johann Conrad “JC” Muehleisen

By Jacqueline L. Starkey

Photo 1 Melcena Irvin Millison ca 1889 Melcena Irvine Millison, 1889 – from family collection

My feisty, opinionated grandmother detested her middle name.  That name was Melcena, given to her in honor of her grandmother, Melcena Millison.  As a child, I was fascinated by this name that appeared to be handed down to unwilling recipients and was thankful that my parents did not follow family naming traditions.

When I began researching my maternal line, Melcena’s life was a focus area.  I quickly found that to understand Melcena, I had to learn about her father, my third-great-grandfather, then known as Unknown Millison.  Since no family researchers had yet identified him, he was a true brick wall.  My research to break down that wall led me on a virtual journey starting in Germany and ending in Deadwood, South Dakota.  Along…

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