Thursday, March 28, 2013

What Dave Barney Said about Google Newspapers!

Please note that the link to Dave Barney's presentation is no longer available but the transcription of a part of his presentation is below.

Did any of you see Dave Barney's presentation, "Google Search . . . And Beyond" at RootsTech 2013 a few days ago?  [Note:  the video presentation is no longer available.]  He's the guy from -- a software engineer, to be exact.  I heard him say something that was really exciting.  After he explained ways to search google newspapers he said,
Now, here's the plug.  When I was here last year I showed this newspaper thing and someone said, "Wait a minute.  I just heard not too long ago that google was cancelling their newspaper thing."

Google thought this was a great idea to scan newspapers.  They invested all this money.  They acquired all these newspapers, they scanned them to OCR, they made them available.  But unfortunately no one was using it.  And google's a very data driven company and they said, "No one's using this feature so we're not going to have it anymore."  They said, "We're not gonna take away the stuff we already have.  The newspapers we already have scanned we'll keep them up forever.  They'll always be available.  But we're not gonna spend money scanning new newspapers because no one's using it."

Well, that's our problem.  If we use this, if you start using this feature, people will start saying, "Oh, wow, people are using our newspapers.  They are searching on 'em and finding information in them."  Then maybe internally and externally we can convince google to resume this and start acquiring more newspapers.  So it already has tremendous value with the content they've already acquired but just a plug to everyone out there to uh, you know, use this feature.  See what you can find on it and perhaps with the increased usage we can convince google to resume that effort.

This -- this! -- is what's really important:
"Perhaps with the increased usage we can convince google to resume this effort [of scanning newspapers and making them available]."

Do you use google newspapers?  Oh, please, do!  I hope you'll start using them if you don't already.  If you already use them I hope you'll use them more often.  Go to to find a list of newspaper you can browse and/or search.  I use the newspapers at least once a week, sometimes for hours at a time, and sometimes more than once a week.  I hope you'll start using them more, too.  I don't think we can ever have too many newspapers online, especially when they're free.


Copyright ©2013-2017 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.

Friday, March 22, 2013

I is for Immigrant Ancestors and Inventions - Family History Through the Alphabet

I is for immigrant ancestors.  I believe all of my ancestors were immigrants at one time or another, ancestors who arrived in North America from European countries.  More research will prove or disprove this belief.  My immigrant ancestors include, in no particular order,
  • Jacob Saylor and his family, including my direct ancestor, Katherine Saylor Froman, immigrated in about 1852 from Germany.  They settled in Mercer County, Pennsylvania.
  • John Froman arrived in the U.S. in about 1856.  He made his home in Mercer County, Pennsylvania.
  • Henry Meinzen came to the U.S. in 1866 from Prussia (or Hannover, or Germany, depending on which census one reads).  Jefferson County became his new home.
  • Abel Armitage and his family, including his daughter Elizabeth Armitage who is my great-grandmother, immigrated in 1864 from England.  They settled in Jefferson County, Ohio.
  • Fred Gerner and his family immigrated to the U.S. from Germany in about 1855.  They settled in Butler County, Pennsylvania.
  • Andrew Doyle and his family, including my direct ancestor, William Doyle, immigrated to the U.S. from England in 1865.  Stoneboro, Mercer County, Pennsylvania, became their home.
These cannot be my only immigrant ancestors but I haven't researched far enough back to determine who earlier ancestors were and when they arrived in the United States.

I is also for inventions, specifically those invented during the times of my known ancestors.  I thought I'd mention just a few that may have impacted them.
  • Safety razors were invented in the 1880s by the Kampfe Brothers but did not become common until disposable blades were invented.  My grandfather was a barber by trade and barbered until the mid-1960s.  As far as I remember, he never switched to disposable razors in his shop.  It's probable that he used disposables at home as he grew older.
  • Automobiles became available in the early 1900s.  Imagine the transition from driving a horse at 5 miles/hour to driving a car at 10-20 miles/hour.  Wouldn't people have felt like they were speeding along?!  I do not know when any of my ancestors first owned automobiles but I remember that my grandmother, born in 1893, seemed uncomfortable in cars even in the 1950s and 1960s.  She never obtained a driver's license but she surely could have earned a backseat driver's license.  I remember her sitting beside my grandfather while he was driving saying things like, "Bob, you slow down.  You're going 35 miles and hour.  That's too fast!"
  • Glass canning jars were invented and patented in 1858.  To be able to safely and inexpensively preserve the garden's produce must have been a boon to women (and their families) of the late 1800s and after.  I don't have any oral or written family history about the use of canning jars but I know that one of my maternal great-grandfathers was a gardener by profession.  I have no doubt that his wife learned to can using canning jars.
  • Indoor plumbing must have produced joy and amazement.  To have water come into the home without having to carry it from a distance, even if the distance was only from a well between home and barn, and to not have to carry the used water back outside in buckets must have been a great work-saver to many in the family.
I think of other inventions and imagine how they lightened the workload of the ladies (vacuums, sewing machines, electricity), eased transportation (railroads), enhanced communications (telegraph and telephone), and offered entertainment (moving pictures, bicycles, photography).  There are so many inventions that we take for granted:  invented a century or more ago, then enhanced so many times that the items we use sometimes bear little resemblance to the original inventions.  Ah, progress!

This post is a contribution to the Family History Through the Alphabet challenge.  Go to the link and you can see other submissions for this meme.  Alona Tester of  Genealogy and History News is the creator and keeper of this meme.  Thanks, Alona! 


Saturday, March 16, 2013

Sentimental Sunday

I was talking with an acquaintance recently about how times have changed since she and I were young.  She is at least 10 years older than me so times have changed even more for her.  We both agreed that we liked Sundays when we were young better than the Sundays of today.  When we were young, families usually spent the day together and many attended church together.  Often they enjoyed a larger-than-weekday meal.  Sometimes families took Sunday afternoon rides in the country (which was not as far away as it is today because cities were smaller) to see what could be seen, to further enjoy the peaceful atmosphere of the day, and to spend time together.  Occasionally, families visited relatives who didn't live nearby.   Except for pharmacies, restaurants, and gas stations, all stores were closed.  There was no shopping.  Sunday was a quiet, restful, relaxed day, not just in most homes but in neighborhoods and communities.  This may sound restrictive but it didn't feel so then.  It just felt peaceful.

Not long after that conversation I happened upon the notice, above, in the August 23, 1924, issue of The [Youngstown] Vindicator.  A little later I found the editorial, below, in the March 15, 1931, issue of the same newspaper.

On This Quiet Sunday
An Editorial

     One reason why this newspaper would not like to be in Russia is that in the United State we have one day in seven to stop and reflect, to commune with ourselves, to think of better things than occupied us the past six days, and to get our bearings again.
     Youngstown has had an example, the past few weeks, of how necessary such a day is.  Setting one day in six apart as a holiday, as Russia does, and rotating labor, so that the whole population is never at rest on the same day, does not answer the purpose.  Brains must always be in a whirl where such a system exists.  There can be no rest where one sees activity all about him.  Everyone must rest at once, the stores and factories shut down, the churches be thrown open and church bells rung, and there must be a holy day atmosphere in the air, if we are to receive the true benefit of the Sabbath.
I think newspapers would lose subscribers if they published headlines and editorials such as this today.

Our family continues the tradition of rest on Sunday.  We attend church then spend the rest of the day in quiet activities without the stress of work or worry.  I'm so glad we do.  It makes all the difference in my life.  I savor it as a time to gather my thoughts, rest, and prepare for the busyness of the coming week.  I hope you have a pleasant and peaceful Sunday, whatever you choose to do.


Friday, March 15, 2013

Goodbye, Bessie

Bessie Gerner Shotts was my last known living connection to the older generation of Gerner ancestors.  Bessie's father, John Gerner, and my maternal grandmother, Beulah Gerner Doyle, were siblings.  I contacted her in 2006 when I first began to earnestly search for ancestors. She was very generous with her information. 

Bessie said that no one in her family was interested in family history, that no one wanted the information she had.  I think she was pleased to know that at least one Gerner descendant wanted to know more about our Gerner ancestors.  She willingly shared what she knew about her grandparents, Fred and Elvira (Bartley) Gerner, their children, and their parents, her own siblings, and her Gerner cousins, and their families.   

She didn't use a computer or the internet but her husband was computer savvy.  She asked him scan and print many family photographs.  Before sending them to me she made notes about every photo identifying people and relationships.  She also sent copies of family group sheets and pedigree charts. She answered my many questions.  Perhaps best of all, that Bessie shared some precious memories of her grandmother, Elvira, while she lived with Bessie and her family in Bessie's parents' home. 

Bessie passed away last Sunday, March 10.  Bless you, Bessie.  Thank you for all your help. 


Thursday, March 14, 2013

H is for Homes, Houses - Family History Through the Alphabet

My home, my ancestors' homes....  Buildings where I lived, where they lived, places where we loved, learned, laughed, played, and worked....  When I think about family history I think about individual ancestors, but I often find my thoughts meandering to the houses and homes -- the environments -- where they were born and grew up, where they moved with their spouses and started families of their own, where they grew old and died.

I grew up knowing two homes:  the home where my parents, siblings, and I lived; and the home where my grandparents lived.  I knew both houses inside and out:  the kitchens, living rooms, bedrooms; the basements where, early on, the laundry happened in wringer washers and the canned goods were stored; the houses where, at first, there were no indoor "facilities," then later the bathrooms were added.  They were homes of both happiness and sorrow.  In my mind's eye I can walk through the houses and remember the layout of each room and where chairs, couches, and televisions were placed; the dressers and beds in the bedrooms; remember the canisters on the kitchen counters.  They were homes where loved ones shared meals, watched television, and played games together; where we learned honesty, responsibility, work, to mind our p's and q's, and a multitude of other values.

I can't help wishing to know about the buildings where my ancestors lived as well as about the homes they created.  What interactions took place?  What values were instilled in children as they grew?  How were chores delegated?  What games did the children play?  It's easy to find some general information about families in different time periods but I wish I knew specific information about my own ancestral families.  

I have few photographs and even less information about the houses in which my ancestors lived or the homes they created inside those buildings.  I so wish I could walk back in time to see how my grandmothers washed their clothes and what those clothes looked like; how they grew or purchased and prepared food; how they arranged the furniture in their homes; and, most especially, how they mothered and taught their children and interacted with other family members.  I wish I could see how my grandfathers built wagons and houses and farms; how they taught their sons and daughters; how they worshipped; and how they interacted with their wives.  I wish I could spend a day working along side them, help prepare and sit at a family meal, and worship with them on a Sunday.

Like most of us, our ancestors lived in houses and grew up in homes.  To me, home is a place where a family lives, loves, gathers, works, plays, learns, and shares.  It's the place which determines the path on which a child will begin his or her life's walk.  That beginning at home effects the people our ancestors became. 

This post is a contribution to the Family History Through the Alphabet challenge.  Go to the link and you can see other submissions for this meme.  Alona Tester of  Genealogy and History News is the creator and keeper of this meme.  Thank you, Alona! 


Thursday, March 7, 2013

G is for Gerner - Family History through the Alphabet

Gerner is one of my surnames of interest (and challenge!).  I am currently researching Christian Gerner in an effort to make a connection between him and Frederick Gerner, my great-grandfather who is my earliest known Gerner ancestor.  This is a brief overview of some of the sources I've found for Frederick Gerner. 

Surname Variations:   Gerner, Garner, Gurner; possibly Gardner, Gernier

    Known Ancestors
    • Frederick Gerner, born ~1848 in Germany, died 1926 in Butler County, Pennsylvania (my great-grandfather)
    • Charles Gerner, born abt. 1850-51 in Germany, died 1929 in Butler County, Pennsylvania (Fred's brother)

    Uncertain Ancestors / Collateral Relatives
    • Christian Gerner, named as Fred's father on Fred's death certificate
    • Christian Gerner, possible brother to Fred as named by Brendice Gerner, Fred's daughter
    • John Gerner, possible brother to Fred, also named by Brendice Gerner
    • Emma Gerner, possible sister to Fred, named by Brendice Gerner.  Emma may have married a man named Alf Heusel.

    Records for Fred Gerner include
    • 1872 Bible marriage record, Sugar Creek, Venango County, Pennsylvania (photocopy)
    • 1880 U.S. Census, Scott District, Putnam County, West Virginia
    • 1900 U.S. Census, Parker Township, Butler County, Pennsylvania
    • 1910 U.S. Census, Fairview Township, Mercer County, Pennsylvania
    • 1916 Butler County Directory, farmer, Fairview, RD #1Petrolia, Butler County, Pennsylvania
    • 1920 U.S. Census, Bruin, Butler County, Pennsylvania
    • 1926 Death Certificate, died in Bruin, Butler County, Pennsylvania.  Died 26 March 1926
    • 1926 Burial in Bear Creek Cemetery, Chicora, Butler County, Pennsylvania
    • 1926 Will admitted to probate, March 31, 1926
    • 1926 Newspaper article telling that Fred's will had been filed for probate (The Butler Eagle, Friday, April 2, 1926, p, 17, col. 1)

    Country of Origin
    Germany is always mentioned as the country of origin in family and census records.  Family records suggest various locations in Germany including Anaheim, Mannheim

    Notes from Brendice Gerner, Fred's daughter written when she was 93
    "This is what I can tell you about my father.  He was born in 1854, I will guess, in Anaheim, Germany.  [In another letter she says he was born in 1848.]  Came to the U.S. with his parents when he was six months old.  Then there was a girl Emma, who married Alf Heusel [spelling not completely legible].  I think they lived in Chicora.  Also a boy named Charlie.  After they were married I am sure they lived in Butler.  I should have told you before that my grandparents came to Butler County, Penna.  They attended church in a little town, Fairview.  It was a German Reformed at that time.  They were buried in the cemetery there which no doubt is a parking lot today [1988].  I cannot think of either of my grandparents' first names. 
        "All these little towns are in Butler Co. and not too far apart."

    Until I can make a fairly positive connection between Fred and Christian Gerner (more than a name on a death certificate), I'm not considering Christian a great-great-grandfather yet.  More work will include searches of property records.  I've written a number of recent posts about Christian which you can find by typing "Christian" in the search box in the left sidebar under "May I help you find someone on this blog?"

    This post is a contribution to the Family History Through the Alphabet challenge.  Go to the link and you can see other submissions for this meme.  Alona Tester of  Genealogy and History News is the creator and keeper of this meme.  Thank you, Alona! 


    Tuesday, March 5, 2013

    Leila Doyle - Wednesday's Child

    Little Leila Doyle was my father's twin sister.  She lived only a few days.   Family lore has it that she was the stronger of the twins and it was expected that she would live.

    Notes on information in the certificate:
    • Ileo-colitis, a form of Chron's disease, is an inflammation of the ileum, or small intestine, and the inner lining of the colon, the large intestine.  I was unable to find information about how it would have been diagnosed or treated in an infant in 1913.  (Thanks to Wendy of Jollette for transcribing the diagnosis.)
    • It is interesting that we know him as "Gust Doyle," yet he signed his name as "Gus Doyle."
    • The undertaker, Gust Saylor, may have been a relative, possibly a cousin.  Gust Doyle's maternal grandmother's maiden name was Saylor.  
    • We know that Leila was buried in Oak Hill Cemetery, Stoneboro, Pennsylvania.

    Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
    Bureau of Vital Statistics
    Certificate of Death

    Place of Death.
    County of Mercer...
    Borough of Stoneboro
    File No. 29376
    Full Name  Leila Doyle

    Sex  Female
    Color  White
    Date of Birth  Feb 27 1913
    Age  3 days
    Single, Married...  Single
    Birthplace  Stoneboro Pa
    Name of Father  Gus Doyle
    Birthplace of Father  Stoneboro Pa
    Maiden Name of Mother  Buleah Gerner
    Birthplace of Mother  Butler Co Pa
    Informant  Gus Doyle [signature]
    Date  Mar 2 1913
    Registrar  [illegible signature]

    Date of Death  Mch 2 1913
    I hereby certify, that I attended deceased from Feb 27 1913 to Mch 2 1913, that I last saw her alive on Mch 2 1913, and that death occurred, on the date stated above at 10 AM.  The cause of death was as follow [illegible word]-colitis

    [Signed] Geo D Bagnoff  M.D.
    Mch 2 1913   Stoneboro

    Place of Burial or Removal [illegible words] Stoneboro
    Date of Burial Mch [?] 1913
    Undertaker  Gust Saylor   Stoneboro Pa

    Wednesday's Child is a daily blogging prompt at GeneaBloggers where you post about a child who died in infancy using photos and stories.


    Monday, March 4, 2013

    Gerner, Garner, Gardner:  Surname Variations or Not?

    Can it be?  Can names vary so widely that the same individual would be identified by the surnames of Gerner, Garner, and Gardner?  I would not have thought so but after some census searching, I'm beginning to wonder.

    I finished searching all the FamilySearch Pennsylvania probate records with "G" surnames that are available online and did not find Christian Gerner in any of them.  Where else to search? I can't give up so easily.

    I decided to search census records on Heritage Quest (HQ), a resource that is available for home use from my local public library.   I like HQ for some kinds of searches.   It doesn't search name variations but that can be done on FamilySearch or Ancestry.  However, Heritage Quest does allow me to search by first name only if I choose.  I can request a wide search through all census years and all states, or I can narrow the search to a specific year or a specific state.  If I ask for a state search, the results are broken down by county and when I click on one of the counties, the list is broken down to individual names with the township where each lived.  A first name search works well if the given name is not as common as John or William.

    In the image to the right you can see the results of my search on "Christian" in 1860 in Butler County, Pennsylvania.  (You can enlarge the image by clicking on it.)  Look way down to the second name from the bottom and you'll see "Christian Gardner."  The Christian in this census was 40, was born in Prussia, and lived in Fairview Township.  The age and residence correspond with the information I have from a death notice about Christian Gerner.  Could they be the same man?

    In the 1880 census I found Christian Garner, 20 years older, living in the same location.  Hmmm.

    I looked at the 1860 census results to see if any of the family names were the same and if so, if the ages corresponded to those in the 1880 census.

    I've listed the results of three census years in chronological order.

    This is what I found in 1860 for Christian Gardner:
    Christian, 40, born Prussia
    Elizabeth, 37, born Prussia
    Emma, 13, born Prussia
    Frederick, 11, born Prussia
    Isabell, 9, born Prussia
    Charles, 7, born Pennsylvania
    Christena, 6, born Pennsylvania
    John, 4, born Pennsylvania

    I next searched for "Gardner" in the 1870 census and found this:
    Christopher, 50, born Prussia
    Elisabeth, 45, born Prussia
    Frederick, 21, born Prussia
    Elisabeth, 19, born Prussia
    Charles, 17, born Prussia
    Christopher, 16, born Pennsylvania
    John, 14, born Pennsylvania

    This is what I found in 1880 for Christian Garner:
    Christian, 60, farmer, born Prussia
    Elizabeth, 56, wife, born Prussia
    Charles, 27, son, born Prussia
    Lizzie, 29, daughter, born Prussia
    Christian, 25, son, born Pennsylvania
    John, 23, son, born Pennsylvania

    I see that the names and ages of some family members correspond through the years.  But is Christian Garner the same man as Christian Gardner and Christopher Gardner?

    Because a township is a fairly large geographic location, I thought it would be helpful to know if this Christian/Christopher's neighbors were the same/similar from census to census.  I thought knowing that would help me know whether the surnames were name variations for the same man or if they were different men.  I'll share the results of that search in another post.

    Oh, that elusive Christian!  And I still don't know for sure that he's mine!

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