Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Easy Sources, Citation Challenges - Genealogy Do-Over / Do-Better

I don't have a problem recording sources.  Keeping track of sources was reinforced to me from my first introduction to family history.  I record them religiously (with the rare possible exception now and then).  Sometimes I have to dig deep at websites like FamilySearch and Ancestry to find enough detail for more than the online location and collection name.  I like to know the physical location of the original source, even down to the page and entry numbers in a county record book and I record as much information as I can find.

My challenge is crafting citations for those sources.  I'm intimidated by my software and the possibility of not creating a correct citation.  There's such a multitude of source possibilities and the varieties of ways citations should be written based on the source.  I like to be accurate and get things right but I sometimes feel challenged by my lack of knowledge.

Someone on the Do-Over Facebook page suggested a simple ABCDE method of citation in which A is the author or editor; B is the book, magazine, or article title; C is the city or company; D is the date of copyright or date reviewed; and E is the page number or url.  It seems too simplistic to me for the kinds of sources I'm recording.

On her post, Why Are EE's Source Citations So Complicated?, at her blog, Quick Tips The Blog at Evidence Explained, Elizabeth Shown Mills points out that we cite records of many different varieties and we use those sources as evidence to help us evaluate the assertions they make.  (She says it so much better than I can.  Just click through to read her post.)  It's not just citing the source, or being able to return to the source that's important.  The citations should help us understand the records we've used by giving details about the sources which can help us evaluate the evidence in them.

On his blog, RootDig, John Michael Neill wrote a post about sources and citations in which he encourages his readers to think about how a source was created and whether we're looking at an original source (the will someone wrote before he took it to the courthouse) or a copy, and why it's so important to clearly record in the citation what source we used.

I think recording sources, crafting accurate citations, and evaluating the information in the records is at the heart of genealogy and family history.  I think I need to use my genealogy software, RootsMagic, to serve me instead of feeling like I have to serve it and not be intimidated that I'll get the format of the citation wrong.  I will continue to try to improve my source citations to make them useful for evaluating the evidence they contain as well as to be able to return to the source when necessary.

I'm not keeping up with the weekly Genealogy Do-Over activities even though I'm only doing a Genealogy Do-Better, trying to improve as I go forward.  However, they have been helpful in encouraging me to think more carefully about the way I'm performing and recording my family history. 

Click on Genealogy Do-Over Week 5 or Genealogy Do-Over at bagtheweb to learn more and read what others have to say on the topic.  Thanks to Thomas MacEntee for initiating and hosting the Genealogy Do-Over.


Copyright © 2015 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Apple Sauce Cake, Sweet Pickle, Jam Cake - Family Recipe Friday

This is an interesting group of recipes from Gramma's Webster's Spelling Recipe Book.  Or, better said, there are some interesting aspects to these recipes.  I transcribed all spellings as found in the recipes. 

The Apple Sauce Cake recipe calls for lard.  Crisco may not yet have been invented when the recipe was created or Gramma may have preferred lard over Crisco.  Crisco was invented in 1911.  Also, I believe this is the first recipe in which the temperature of the oven is mentioned, although "slow oven" isn't a precise temperature.

The recipe for Sweet Pickle is vague. 
- The quantities of most ingredients are not included. 
- The recipe doesn't indicates the kind of vegetable.  Cucumbers are the most common vegetable for pickles and I assume that's the vegetable of choice for these pickles because they are to be scalded until white.
- The canning process seems to have been only filling the jars with hot ingredients then putting the lids on to seal them, completely omitting the water bath canning process. 
- "Saccerine" is written at the end of the recipe.  I believe it's a misspelling of the word saccharine, a word with several meanings.  The one probably intended by Gramma was that the pickles were very sweet.  However, Webster's 1913 dictionary indicates that Saccharine was already a trade name for benzoic sulphinide, a synthetic sweetener.  In light of the fact that she indicates they are "saccerine," I find it interesting that the quantity of sugar is not included in this recipe.

The recipe for Jam Cake is very general.  Shall I mix the jam into the batter before baking or do I bake and then layer with jam?  And the quantities of spices are not mentioned at all.  Perhaps it's assumed that the baker knows the preferences of her family members when it comes to the spiciness of cake. 

Apple Sauce Cake
1 cup brown Sugar.
1/2 cup lard.
1 1/2 cup apple Sauce
2 level teaspoons Soda.
2 cups flour.
1 egg well beaten
1 cup raisins
1 pinch cinamon,
nutmeg & alspice.
Cream the lard &
sugar, & then mix
in the well beaten
egg.  Mix the soda
into the apple
sauce when hot.
Add to the first
mixture, & then add
the flour, spices, &
the raisins which
have been dusted
with flour.  Mix all
thoroly & bake in a loaf
pan.  Sprinkle
granulated sugar
& cinamon over top &

bake in slow oven
40 minutes.  Very good
also with carmel

Sweet Pickle.
Put in strong salt
water over night.
Take out in morning
and wash all off.
Put in Weak Vinegar
& scald until they
get white.  Have
vinegar boiling
& sweeten & spicen
& pour over them
in the jars.  Seal
while Hot.  (Saccerine)

Jam Cake.
4 eggs.  1 cup Sugar
1/2 cup butter.
1 cup sour milk.
1 teasp. Soda.  1 cup jam
cloves, cinamon, Spice

I'm baking Applesauce Cake tomorrow.  Won't you join me? 


Copyright © 2015 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Bran Muffins - Gramma's Webster's Spelling Recipe Book - Family Recipe Friday

Bran is the hard outer layers of any cereal grain -- rice, corn, wheat, oats, barley, millet -- and is the byproduct of milling grains to refine them .  When I buy bran at the store I don't believe it indicates which kind I'm buying, or maybe I always buy wheat bran and never noticed.  Bran is usually added to breads, muffins, and other baked goods.  It's healthy because it's high in dietary fiber and essential acids.  I believe the bran required for this recipe is raw bran, not a prepared, boxed bran cereal.
Bran Muffin Recipes

Bran  Muffins
1 cup bran.
1 cup Sour Milk
1   "   flour.
1 teaspoon soda.
3/4    "    Salt.
1/4 cup Sugar.
1 tablespoon Molasses
2       "      Shortening
1 egg.
Soak bran in
Sour milk while
getting other
ingredients ready.
Sift together flour,
Salt, Soda, Cream
Shortening.  Add
Sugar.  Add
beaten Egg.  Add
Molasses.  Add
flour +
milk alternately.

Gramma didn't include baking instructions but muffins usually bake at 375 degrees for 20 to 30 minutes.  These would probably be delicious with the addition of dried fruit such as raisins, cranberries, or blueberries.

I think every cook and baker has a personal preference about how recipes are written.  (Or maybe it's just me?)  When I put this on a recipe card it will look like this:

Soak:                1 c. bran
in:                    1 c. sour milk while preparing ingredients below

Sift together:   1 c. flour
                        1 tsp. soda
                        3/4 tsp. salt

Cream:             2 tblsp. shortening
Add:                 1/4 c. sugar
                        1 egg, beaten
                        1 tblsp. molasses

Alternately add the flour mixture and the milk/bran mixture to the shortening mixture.

Pour into greased or paper-lined muffin tins.  Bake at 375 degrees for 20-30 minutes.  Test for doneness with a toothpick.  (If it comes out clean, the muffins are done.)



Copyright © 2015 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Jefferson County, Ohio, Court Indexes Online - Tuesday's Tip

Do you have Jefferson County, Ohio, ancestors?  If so, there's help available for you.

That wonderful organization, the Jefferson County Chapter of the Ohio Genealogical Society, has been busy indexing.  Many files and records were saved when they were removed from the Jefferson County Courthouse and placed in the custory of the Jefferson County OGS.  Some records have been scanned and published on FamilySearch.  Recently indexes to two collections were published on the Jefferson County OGS website.

At FamilySearch you can browse Jefferson County Court Records, 1797-1974.  But better, first use Jefferson County OGS's Probate/Estate Index to help you determine whether your ancestor has a file and where it's located.  How much easier it is to know the location than to browse.

Use their Master Will Index to look for your ancestor's will.  Not all wills are included in this index because some are in the probate files and some in the Common Pleas files.  The wills are housed at the Jefferson County OGS office in Wintersville, Ohio.  You can contact them at P. O. Box 2367, 100 Fernwood Road, Wintersville, Ohio,43953; at jeffersoncounty1@att.net; or by phone at 740-346-2820.  They have limited hours so check the website before you visit.  If you can't visit, I believe they will make copies for you.

I'm especially excited about the index to the probate and estate files.  I haven't been working on my Jefferson County ancestors lately but when I get back to them this will be one of the best helps I know when I'm looking for probate records.


Copyright © 2015 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Genealogy Research Aids - Genealogy Do-Over Week 5

I once asked my father which tools we should buy to be prepared for the repairs we might have to make on an (but new to us) house -- aside from the basic hammer, screwdrivers, and pliers.  He responded that it depended on the job we wanted to do.  He suggested that we buy the tools as we needed them for whatever job we had to do.  Otherwise, he said, we might buy tools that we'd never use.  That advice has served us well through the years.

My genealogy toolbox, like our physical toolbox, began with some essentials.
  • FamilySearch - for a variety of records with new content added often
  • Heritage Quest (available through many libraries at no cost) - for census records
  • Ancestry - for their variety of records with new content added frequently
  • Linkpendium - surname lists and state- and county-specific links by category

I've added to my toolbox over the years.  When I have a question about an ancestor, her geographic location, his employment, or anything else, I search for a source to help answer my question. 
  • Libraries' websites may offer obituary files, postcard files, city directories, newspapers, etc.  Libraries also have books, which continue to be useful!
  • Genealogy societies have their own websites which offer location-specific information.
  • Transcription forms for census and other records help me carefully evaluate what I find.
  • Map resources help me learn where an ancestor lived, see who his neighbors were, and how far he lived from town, a church, the school, etc.
  • Rootsweb county websites offer location-specific information.  Rootsweb offers a host of other helpful resources, too, including a variety of email lists specific to location, surname, occupation, etc.
  • Money changes value. I've found several websites that translate from one time to another.
  • And so many more.

Under the header of this blog are clickable links to pages (in either red or green, depending on whether you've clicked on them before):

Genealogy Research Aids      Ohio Resources      Pennsylvania Resources              

Many of my most-used online resources are listed there.  I have others bookmarked in my browser and a few in emails.

I'm not averse to acquiring physical tools that we might or probably will use when they're on sale new at a store, we see them at an auction, or someone is giving tools away.  Likewise, when someone recommends a site that I think may be helpful to me in the future, I copy the url for possible use.  After I've found it to be useful, I add the link to the appropriate page, above.  I know I'll be adding more resources in other categories.

My goal is to clean up and organize the resources that aren't on the pages above -- the ones that are scattered hither and yon as bookmarks, as emails, and jotted on paper.  (Either I'm slow or time is going faster than it used to because things take me so long to do.)

As a family historian/genealogist I never know what I'll want to learn next about an ancestor or where I'll find the information.  Having resources at my fingertips is such a blessing; even more so that new and helpful information continues to become available online.  I'm grateful to other bloggers who share research aids and websites they've found. 

Click on Genealogy Do-Over Week 5 or Genealogy Do-Over at bagtheweb to learn more and read what others have to say on the topic.  Thanks to Thomas MacEntee for initiating and hosting the Genealogy Do-Over.


Copyright © 2015 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

My Father's Favorite Entertainer

To Durante, With Love, by Jim Bishop, 1974 My mother was a newspaper clipper.  If she liked a story, article, or poem, she clipped it.  If my father liked an article or cartoon, she clipped it.  When one of her children was mentioned in an article, she clipped it.  I found this article at right among my mother's papers, clipped because my father loved Jimmy Durante.

My father, Lee Doyle, grew up in rural Stoneboro, Pennsylvania, in the late teens and twenties.  His connection with the outside world was probably limited to interaction with other people, the newspaper, and a radio -- but the radio didn't arrive until sometime between October, 1927, when Dad was 14, and 1930.  Having a radio with access to music, news, and stories must have been exciting for him and the others in his family. 

Perhaps Dad became acquainted with Jimmy Durante while listening to the radio or maybe he saw one or more of his early films at a theater.  In the absence of Dad's childhood stories to tell me, I'll never know for sure  However it happened, Durante became one of my father's favorite entertainers.

I remember our family watching the Jimmy Durante show on the television set (as it was called then) when I was a child.  I remember his big nose and the nickname Schnozzola.  He had such a good sense of humor and never hesitated to highlight and laugh about his nose.  At the end of each program he walked off the stage saying, "Good night, Mrs. Calabash, wherever you are."  No one seemed to know for sure who Mrs. Calabash was.

As a youth Durante learned to play the piano.  In the mid-1920s he became a Vaudeville star, later a radio personality, a Broadway performer, and both a motion picture and television star.  "Inka Dinka Doo" became Durante's theme song but you may also remember "As Time Goes By" and "Make Someone Happy" in "Sleepless in Seattle."  You can read more about Jimmy Durante at his page on Wikipedia and elsewhere on the internet.

Today is Jimmy Durante's birthday.  He was born in 1893, 20 years before my father, whose birthday is February 27, 1913.  I thought it was a good day to share this article and to remember both Jimmy Durante and my father, Lee Doyle.  Thanks to my mom for being a clipper, thereby providing this connection to her, my father, and a happy childhood memory.

As I was previewing videos to share they reminded me how much fun some of the the old 1950s and 1960s variety shows were.  Perhaps you remember "The Ed Sullivan Show," "The Perry Como Show," and some of the others?  In the video below Durante, nearly 72, sings several songs and dances in one.  The video is about 8 minutes long but his first song is over in just a few minutes.  I hope you enjoy at least one.


Copyright © 2015 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Reevaluating My Research Log - Genealogy Do-Over / Do-Better

I've been reevaluating the format of my research log.  This is the one I currently use, created before I knew much about family history research and before so many sources were available online.  This is my Froman research log.

With one research log per surname, I've been using them to record letters I've written requesting documents that are not available online.  They've served that purpose well but with online research my logs have fallen short of the need.  (And I've fallen short in using them to record all the online searches I've done including what I've found, and especially what I've not found.)

I would not have thought about evaluating my research log except that it was one of the topics in the Genealogy Do-Over.  I've been looking at the ways others have created and organized their research logs. Here are some things I've found.

Earlier this year Diane Haddad of Family Tree Magazine wrote a post at Genealogy Insider about her research log.  Hers includes columns to record this information:  Status, Research Task, Repository/Site, Name, Place, Notes, Prep Work Needed, and Findings.  She keeps hers as a spreadsheet on Google Drive, which makes it available wherever she can connect to the internet.

The FamilySearch Wiki on Research Logs suggests recording this information in a log:  Ancestor's name and years; Researcher's name; Date of search; Place of research; Purpose (objective); Call number; Source Description; Scope of Your Search; Document Number; and Results.

In his post for Genealogy Do-Over Week 4, Thomas MacEntee indicated that he recorded the following information when tracking searches:  date of search; website; specific database; criteria of search (what he typed in the search box); results (with url); plus notes on the search and results including analysis or thoughts.

After reading about others' research logs and seeing the information they track, I think I'd like my research log to include
  • Date of search or request
  • Objective/Purpose of the search/Research Goal (the question I'm trying to answer, what I hope to find)
  • Where I searched or who I asked:  repository, courthouse, library, website including addresses and contact info for all
  • Specifics about search criteria (name, dates, and any other information used in the search)
  • Results (what I found or didn't find) and date if different from search date
  • Source (where I found the information with enough detail to let me return to the source easily)
  • Copy?  Do I now have a copy, either hard or computer image?
  • Next Possible Steps -- a to-do list, of sorts, based on what I found/didn't find (which I will also record in a separate To-Do list) 

My research logs are in tables in WordPerfect since I don't like spreadsheets.  I like having them there but I wonder if they may be less cumbersome to use if they are in a place like Evernote.  Colleen Greene wrote a post about her research log on Evernote which generated plenty of discussion in the comments section.  I will investigate further before completely changing my log to Evernote or any other online cloud storage system.  Evernote is currently free and available wherever I have access to a computer, but I know it may not always be so.  One can never depend on technology staying the same or continuing to be available for free in the future.

As an aside, I'd like to note that while I don't always use my research log for online searches I continue to save the results of searches plus all pertinent details (such as direct link, collection name, page and image numbers, and any other details I can find) by sending myself emails with the information.  It's very cumbersome.  Hence my need to become more serious about using a research log for all searches.

So, that's what I've been up to with my Genealogy Do-Over / Do-Better this past week.  I'm excited to create a new research log and begin using it.  Thanks to Thomas MacEntee for creating the Genealogy Do-Over.  Participating is showing me some of my shortcoming as a family history researcher.

Read more about the Genealogy Do-Over here at GeneaBloggers and here at bagtheweb.


Copyright © 2015 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Salid Dressing, Peach or Apple Pudding - Family Recipe Friday

The recipe for Salid [sic] Dressing calls for Eagle Brand Milk, generally known as Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk.  I wondered if that could help me date this recipe book.  It can't.  The company's website tells me that Eagle Brand Milk was first introduced in 1856 -- and my grandmother wasn't born until 1893.  Eagle Milk had been around almost 40 years by the time she was born. 

This recipe also calls for a raw egg, an ingredient most of us would shun these days for fear of salmonella.  The ingredients suggest to me that this is a mayonnaise type dressing that would be great for cole slaw (if only the egg were cooked).  Maybe salmonella was less of a problem a hundred years ago, before egg factories.

Salid Dressing.
1 can Eagle Brand
1 egg.
1 teaspoon Must-
1/2 cup Vinegar.
Beat egg well
add Mustard &
salt.  Mix well &
then add Eagle
Brand Milk &
then the Vinegar.

Peach or Apple Pudding
1 tablespoon butter
1 egg.
1/2 cup Suagr.
1/2 cup Sweet Milk.
1 cup flour
Fill a buttered dish
with sliced apples or
peaches & pour over
the top a batter
made of the above ingredients.

This is another page from my grandmother Emma Bickerstaff Meinzen's Webster's Spelling Tablet, probably a tablet with pages for taking spelling tests, unused and left by one of her daughters.


Copyright © 2015 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.
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