Sunday, October 17, 2021

Go Look It Up!

When I was a child, or perhaps when my older brother and sister were children (there are 11 and 6 years between the three of us), my parents bought a set of Book of Knowledge encyclopedias, the bookshelf to hold them, and the annual volumes to update the set. 
They sat against a wall in our living room, mostly ignored—at least by me.  Ignored, that is, until I would ask a question at dinnertime that no one could answer.  And then I heard, "Go look it up."  Are those not the words an 8- or 10-year-old child least wants to hear?  Please just answer my question so I don't have to read the letters on the volumes, search for the alphabetical entry for whatever the topic, and then return to the table to read it to everyone.  But if nothing, my parents were strict and there was no getting out of it.

The encyclopedias were heavy, had few illustrations, and fewer colored illustrations—perhaps a two-page layout for a topic or two per volume.  The print was tiny, the lines were tightly spaced, and, to be honest, I found them boring.  Maybe I didn't like them because they gave me too much information for my age.

My parents placed a high esteem on the value of education.  There was no doubt in any of our minds, my brother's, my sister's, and mine, that we would continue our education after high school.  And, of course, it did.

In addition to the Book of Knowledge, we also had a hefty dictionary that was well used.

By the time I was in junior high school we were still a one-car family with my father working turns.  With the nearest public library half an hour's ride away, those encyclopedias became, if not friends, at least good acquaintances.  Though I didn't like them but I learned from them.  I found answers to the question at hand.  I learned how to look up information in the written word.  I learned how to take notes.  And I learned how to reference a source for a report.  Later still I learned about copyright and eventually learned to use other resources for research and just for personal information.

I can't say that my parents' method of encouraging me to look things up fostered an interest in learning, or in searching for answers beyond what those who were older than me knew, but it did give me a foundation for learning.  And perhaps they fostered a curious mind, one that wanted to know answers to questions.  I continue to have lots of question.

We've come such a long way from encyclopedias in book form.  While books still have a place in education and learning, for a simple question with a simple answer it's so much easier to look for an answer on the internet.  When, in a discussion with my husband or daughter, we come to a question we don't know the answer to, one of us will pull out our phone and ask Google. 

I wonder what my parents would think of today's response to their decades-ago directive to "Go look it up," seeing young people using a phone or tablet instead of a set of encyclopedias.  How times change! 


Copyright © 2021 Nancy Messier.  All Rights Reserved. 
Do not copy or use any content from this blog without written permission from the owner. 


Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Which Name to Choose and Use?

Don't we all find ancestors whose names vary from document to document (and sometimes in the same document)?  The decision becomes which name to use.  How best to refer to an individual when three or four names appear across the span of the individual's life?  When I began family history research I used the name given on the birth record, if there was one, but now I'm not so sure that's the best choice.  Any thoughts?

The reality of making a decision about which name to use was brought home to me when I saw that another researcher had eliminated one of my collateral relatives on FamilySearch in favor of an individual with a similar but different first name.  All the information seemed accurate, only the first name was different (and, of course the ID number).  In the documents listed, the alternate name had been used only twice, compared to the six or eight times the other name (my original choice of name) had been used.  

Lana Ellen Gerner, daughter of Fredrick and Elvira (Bartley) Gerner, is the person of interest today.   The name in bold, below, is the name on the record.  Let's see what the documents show.  (View documents with a free FamilySearch account.)

Laney Gerner
1875 Nov 16.  Birth Record:  Putnam County, West Virginia.  Photocopy held in my records.

Lana E. Gerner
1880.  U.S. Census, Putnam County, West Virginia.

Lana Gerner (becomes Lana Snair)
1896 May 20.  Marriage Record, Butler County, Pennsylvania.  View here.

Lana E. Snair
1900.  U.S. Census, Parker Township, Butler County, Pennsylvania.  View here.

Lena Snair
1910.  U.S. Census, Bruin, Butler, Pennsylvania.  View here.

Lana E. Snair
1920.  U.S. Census, Bruin, Butler, Pennsylvania.  View here.

Lana Snair
1940.  U.S. Census, Steubenville, Jefferson, Ohio.  View here.

Lana Ellen Snair
1943.  Death, Ohio Death Certificate.  View here.

Lana Snare
1943.  Obituary in The Butler Eagle, Monday, August 30, 1943.  Photocopy in my possession.

Lena Snair

1944.  Ohio marriage record of her son, Gilmore Snair.  View here.

Of these ten documents, two record her name as Lena, one uses Laney, and the other seven use Lana.  I think it makes sense to use Lana.

When you've found several given names, how do you choose the name to use when adding an individual to your genealogy program?


Copyright © 2021 Nancy Messier.  All Rights Reserved. 
Do not copy or use any content from this blog without written permission from the owner. 


Friday, October 1, 2021

October Celebrations among My Relatives and Ancestors

October 9 is the star this month.  There are four birthdays and a wedding anniversary that day.  My sister, Marsha; our great-great-grandfather, Dixon Bartley;  Dixon's grand-daughter and our great-aunt, Brendice (Gerner) Davis; and William Henry Kropp, a great-great-uncle by marriage, all share birthdays that day.  And my brother, Bob, and his first wife, Janet (Patton), share their wedding anniversary with the birthdays.  Happy Days!

There are four other dates (the 2nd, 7th, 22nd, and 27th) with multiple events, too.  A busy month.

I love the message on this card:
  May this year bring thee many happy days,
  Pass'd in the light of sweet affection's ray.

Living Relatives
October   6   Adam D.
October   8   Natasha and Jesse D.
October   9   Marsha P.
October   9   Bob and Jan D.
October 12   Hester and Tim D.
October 15   Max Q.
October 23   Valerie D.

October ~6, 1806   Jane (last name unknown), wife of Robert Nelson
October   9, 1805   Dixon Bartley
October 26, 1872   Mary Thompson
October 28, 1845   Elizabeth Jane (Bess) Laws

Collateral Relatives
  1 October, 1862   George W. Proud
  2 October, 1877   Thomas Charles Fletcher
  2 October, 1916   Howard Meinzen
~3 October, 1904   Benjamin Hashman
  7 October, 1886   Charles Edward Sticker
  7 October, 1888   Bertha (Birdie, Betty) Meinzen
  9 October, 1866   William Henry Kropp
  9 October, 1895   Brendice Kathryn Gerner
10 October, 1864   Jacob Froman
11 October, 1847   Isabella Laws 15 October 1865 Minnie Kropp
16 October, 1846   Emma Gerner
18 October, 1870   Gust Froman
19 October, 1893   Mary Ann Doyle and Hurd Hendrickson Campbell
20 October, 1906   Andrew Earl Bickerstaff
22 October, 1886   Christian Gerner and Amanda Daubenspeck
22 October, 1897   Elizabeth Meinzen
22 October, 1916   Lucille M. Gerner
23 October, 1873   Alexander Roe
27 October, 1904   Elvira C. Snair
27 October, 1926   Marian V. Bickerstaff
30 October, 1864   William Turner
30 October, 1948   Andrew Earl Bickerstaff and Iva M. Traichel


Copyright © 2021 Nancy Messier.  All Rights Reserved. 
Do not copy or use any content from this blog without written permission from the owner. 


Sunday, September 19, 2021

Early Sources / Early Source Citations (Ugh!)

I've been cleaning up my sources in RootsMagic this year and recently came across this source, named only "family records."  Ugh!  Really?!  I understood so little about documenting sources when I began.  Maybe you were in that situation, too?
I had an idea what I should do but I didn't really understand.  A friend had told me to record where I found the information I added to family group sheets, to write down the sources of births, marriages, and deaths (because, let's face it, births, marriages, deaths, and census records were about the only sources I knew existed).

In those first days I asked my mom for names and dates of events and claimed the source as "family records."  To be honest, there were no real records, just her memory and what she'd written down.  How did she know the information?  I don't know.  Maybe she was present at a marriage, or attended a funeral, or saw a newspaper article or obituary for some of the information.  However she found it, whatever the original source, some of that information clearly was not, and is not now, a worthy source.  First person attendance at a birth, marriage, death is, but second hand knowledge, not so much.  These days I think of that kind of information as leads for real sources.

The genealogy world has come a long way since my first attempts at recording family history in 2006 or so.  With digital documents available online at FamilySearch, Ancestry, and other places, I can replace "family records" with real records and note where and when a document was recorded, where I found it online, and include a link to the images.

For nearly every one of these "family record" sources, I can now find at least one document online to support the information I have and provide even more. 

It's good to review early research.  I understand that some genealogists are so far along in their family research that to review their earliest would seem daunting.  I'm not that far along yet, so reviewing my early research and documentation reminds me where I've been, shows me how I've progressed, and forces me to improve and provide more accurate sources and documentation. 
It's all a learning process.


Copyright © 2021 Nancy Messier.  All Rights Reserved. 
Do not copy or use any content from this blog without written permission from the owner. 


Wednesday, September 15, 2021

A 1938 Letter from Grandma Gerner

The grandmother of this letter is Elvira (Bartley) Gerner, my father's maternal grandmother, and the occasion for the letter is the wedding of my parents, Lee Doyle and Audrey Meinzen, on September 15, 1938.  The wedding was a small affair that took place in the Mineral Ridge Methodist Church, with a small reception at the bride's parents' home afterward.

Grandma Gerner wrote,

                Sep 12 = 1938

                       Well Lee i received your
  letter also Ray B were here to take
  me up.  But i had made plans to go
  to help Cassie peal peaches and it would
  disapoint them and they will come
  for me so you will excuse me
  and will wish you all the
  happiness this world can give and
  i will be up to B this fall and
  hope to see you.  then as ever

  Grandma Gerner

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Elvira's daughter, Beulah, was my father's mother who had died about a month after giving birth to him.  Ties with Beulah's family had not been severed because of this death but Dad and Grandma Gerner were not as close as they might have otherwise been had they lived in close proximity.

Grandma Elvira was 84 when she wrote this letter and had been diagnosed with senility nearly two years before.  If my parents were hurt at Grandma Gerner's decision not to attend the wedding, especially because peeling peaches seems like a less important thing than a grandson's wedding, they never said anything about it.

"Ray B" mentioned in the letter refers to Ray and Brendice Davis.  Brendice was one of Elvira's daughters and the next younger surviving sister to Beulah.  Ray and Brendice lived in the Canton, Ohio, area.  She and her husband had helped my father when he left home after his own father had died.  I have no idea who Cassie is.

Elvira's husband, Fred, died in 1926, and beginning in the 1930s, she began living with one of her daughters for several months at a time, then moving to live with another. 

The envelope was addressed to Mr. Lee Doyle, Warren Ave, Niles, Ohio.  (I wish I knew the street number!)   The return address was 168 Elm Street, Struthers, Ohio.  Elvira was likely living with either Bessie Leota (Gerner) Holland or Alma (Gerner) Kitch, since both were living in Struthers during the 1930s.

With this envelope my mother had placed a small, plain card on which was written, "With Best Wishes from Grandma."  Mom had written "blue spread" indicating that was the gift accompanying the card.  The handwriting is not the same as above so perhaps the blue spread came from another grandmother or perhaps from Elvira and someone wrote the card for her.  We'll never know.

I am so pleased when I come upon notes and letters my mom saved that came from my ancestors.


Copyright © 2021 Nancy Messier.  All Rights Reserved. 
Do not copy or use any content from this blog without written permission from the owner. 


Saturday, September 4, 2021

Use Google Books to Search Google News Archives

I just recently learned this information and I'm excited to share it (in the off chance you don't already know).  I often use Google News Archive in my genealogy research, particularly for newspapers published in the communities where my ancestors lived.  (There are only a few but I use them often.)  After changes at Google News Archive a number of years ago it became almost impossible to perform an OCR search of a particular newspaper.  I resorted to waiting till I knew a date for a birth, death, marriage, or other event, then looked at the newspaper for that date and a few days after, hoping to see more information, knowing, of course, there was always a chance I would miss something.  But there's another way to search Google's newspaper collection, learned from Lisa Louise Cook's post, 10 Surprising Things You Can Find at Google Books.  There's lots of great information in that post but for me, the very best tip is learning that Google Books will search Google's newspaper archive.  No longer do I need a particular date or location. 

Begin at Google Books,, by typing your search word in the search box.  I typed "Meinzen."
When the results appear, near the top of the page, click on "Any document" and choose "Newspapers."

You can also choose an offering of time periods, or create a custom range.
I chose only "Newspapers" and found this article about my aunt, 7th from the top of the search results.  Had I included her first name it would have probably been one of the first in the results list.
Most of us who use newspapers are probably aware that OCR doesn't catch every instance of a word and that newspapers sometimes had typos which OCR will not recognize.

It can be a bit cumbersome to determine whether Google News Archive has images for a newspaper in the area where your ancestors lived:  it lists the names of the newspapers but not the publication location.  I suppose many states have an Adams County so The Adams County News could be from any of them.  The best way I've found to determine whether newspapers of interest are included in their collection is to find the names of newspapers from my geographic area of interest and look through their list to see if it's available. On the positive side, Google News Archives does tell the dates available for each publication.  The earliest I found was 1800, the latest, 2009.

Two of my fondest genealogy dreams are that Google News Archive would continue to add newspapers and that Google News Archive and Chronicling America would add newspapers from Steubenville, Jefferson County, Ohio; Mercer County, Pennsylvania; and more newspapers from Butler County, Pennsylvania.  During the mid- to late-1800s into the early 1900s, Steubenville published more newspapers than any city I've researched.   

Be sure to visit Lisa's post to read more about genealogy offerings at Google Books and other tips for using the website.  Excellent post.  Thank you, Lisa!


Copyright © 2021 Nancy Messier.  All Rights Reserved. 
Do not copy or use any content from this blog without written permission from the owner. 


Wednesday, September 1, 2021

September Birthdays and Marriages among My Family & Ancestors

September seems to have been a popular month for weddings among my ancestors and collateral relatives.  There are five known marriages of ancestors this month; one living nephew and niece; and six marriages among my collateral relations (although one of those is my g-g-grandfather and his first wife). 

And then there is the popular September 24 for birthdays.  Five on that day!  Aedan Q. shares a birthday with his g-g-g-grandmother, Tressa Rose Froman Doyle.  Of the living relatives' birthdays this month, four (Matthew S., Natasha D., Adam D., and Aedan Q.) are between grandchildren and 6th-great-grandchildren of everyone on the ancestor list except Augustine Bickerstaff.    

September   2   Matthew S.
September   9   Natasha D.
September 22   Adam and Val D.
September 24   Aedan Q.
September 28   Jesse D.

September   1, 1861   Ellis H. Bickerstaff and Emma Nelson
September   4, 1841   Thomas S. Bartley
September   5, 1808   Robert Reay and Mary Bell
September   5, 1857   Andrew Doyle and Jane Barron (only Andrew is my ancestor)
September   8, 1914   William Carl Robert Meinzen and Emma Virginia Bickerstaff
September 11, 1831   Augustine Bickerstaff
September 13, 1888   Beulah Mae Gerner
September 15, 1938   Lee Doyle and Audrey Victoria Meinzen
September 23, 1872   John Thomas Thompson and Lydia Bell
September 24, 1867   Tressa Rose Froman
September 29, 1847   Fredrick K (Fred) Gerner

Collateral Relatives
September   1, 1898   Gust Froman and Mary Ann Smith
September   2, 1907   Nellie G. Hashman
September   2, 1916   Russel Rhome and Naomi Faye Meinzen
September   3, 1896   Carl Nelson Meinzen
September   3, 1909   Ernest A. Gerner
September   4, 1842   Sophia Meinzen
September   4, 1846   Thomas Hardy
September   4, 1916   Jacob Increase Meinzen and Sudie Jane Coss
September   5, 1874   Maria Watts
September   5, 1933   William Bickerstaff and Dorothy Justine Clemmens
September   9, 1909   William Henry Bickerstaff and Lucy M VanKirk
September 15, 1852   Mary Ann Laws
September 17, 1884   Nellie Elizabeth Leonhart
September 18, 1844   Lavina (Vinnie, Viney) Bell
September 19, 1923   Baby Bickerstaff
September 24, 1866   Robert Doyle
September 24, 1900   Ethel Marie Bell
September 24, 1921   Isabelle P. Hashman
September 25, 1870   Henry Carl Meinzen
bef October 1, 1826   Jane Doyle

Happy, Happy Birthday to those celebrating birthdays. 
Happy Anniversary and Best Wishes to those celebrating anniversaries.


Copyright © 2021 Nancy Messier.  All Rights Reserved. 
Do not copy or use any content from this blog without written permission from the owner. 


Sunday, August 29, 2021

When Someone Makes an Inaccurate Change on FamilySearch...

...the only thing to do is prove the point.  People often make changes to some of my ancestors in FamilySearch.  It's the changes to my near relatives that are most frustrating.  (Yes, I do have a touch of Mytreeitis.)   I'm sure they others good intentions but I have a hard time when their changes aren't backed up with documents.   Below is my father's death certificate and a transcription.  I'm posting it here so I can use it as a source on FamilySearch because it's not yet available online anywhere else.

Ohio Department of Health     Division of Vital Statistics     Certificate of Death
Reg. Dist. No. 78      Primary Reg. Dist. No. 7801 
File No. 03937     Registrar's No. 706
  1.    Decedent-Name   Lee Doyle
  2.    Sex   Male
  3.    Date of Death (Mo., Day, Year)   May 19, 1987
  4.    Race   white
  5a.  Age - Last Birthday   74
  6.    Date of Birth   Feb 27, 1913
  7a.  County of Death  Trumbull
  7b.  City, Village...   Warren
  7c.   Hospital...   Trumbull Memorial Hosp.
  7d.   If Hosp... Indicate DOA (etc.)   Inpatient
  8a.   State of Birth   Pennsylvania
  8b.  Citizen of What Country   U S A
  9.    Origin or Descent   American
10.    Social Security Number   XXX-XX-XXXX
11.    Was Deceased Ever in U.S. Armed Forces?   No
12a.   Married....   Married
12b.   Surviving Spouse   Audrey Meinzen
13a.   Normal Occupation   foreman - ret.
13b.   Kind of Busines s or Industry   Copperweld Steel
14a.   Residence-State   OH
14b.   County   Trumbull
14c.   City, Village...   Mineral Ridge
14d.  Street and Number   1431 Furnace St.
14e.  Inside City Limits   No
15.    Father-Name   Gust Doyle
16.    Mother-Maiden Name   Beulah Gerner
17a.  Informant   Audrey Doyle
17b.  Mailing Address   1431 Furnace St. Mineral Ridge Oh 44440
Immediate Cause / Approximate Interval Between Onset and Death
18a.  Cardiac Arrest / Sudden
18b.  Malignant Ventricular Tachyarrhythmia / 4 days
18c.  Acute Myocardial Infarction / 5 days
19a.  Other Significant Conditions    Ventricular Aneurysm
19b.  Autopsy   No
19c.  Was Case Referred to Coroner   No
20.    [blank]
To Be Completed by Attending Physician
21a.  Nazir Ahmed, MD [signature]
21b.  Date Signed   May 20, 87
21c.   Hour of Death   8:26 AM
21d.  [Physician]   Dr. Nazir Ahmed
22.    [blank]
23.    Name and Address of Certifier    307 Homewood Ave., SE Warren OH 44483
24a.  Burial, Cremation...   Burial
24b.  Date   May 22, 87
24c.  Name of Cemetery...   Kerr Cem.
24d.  Location   Mineral Ridge  Oh
25.    Name of Emblamer  /  ILIC No.   Robert L. Burkhart  / 6782-A
26.    Funeral Director's Signature   Joseph O. Lane [signature]
27.    Funeral Firm and Address   Lane Funeral Home  1350 Canfield-Niles Rd.   Mineral Ridge Oh  44440
28.    Date Rec'd   5/26/87
29.    Registrar's Signature  R V Gracille  M D [signature)
30.    Date Permit Issued  [blank]
31.    Signature of Person Issuing Permit   [blank]

Information of Genealogical Interest
> Name
> Date and Place of Birth
> Date and Place of Death
> Name of Spouse
> Parents' Names
> Name and Location of Cemetery
> Burial Date

Of Interest for Social History
> Where employed and kind of business
> Last address

Of Interest For Medical Purposes
> Cause of death
> Contributing Conditions

Would use more information than I've suggested for genealogical purposes?  Have you ever used a blog post as a source on FamilySearch?  Have you ever seen one used?


Copyright © 2021 Nancy Messier.  All Rights Reserved. 
Do not copy or use any content from this blog without written permission from the owner. 

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