Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Pinterest Genealogy

Just found out Geneabloggers is on Pinterest.  Must have been snoozing, or had my head buried too deep in my Family History Book!  Sure glad I found it though.  It's beyond expectations.

I had to pry myself away there's so much interesting, but before I unstuck myself I had to check out the  Geneabloggers Social Media board.  One of the pages here has some good info about Facebook, whether you do genealogy or not.  Always finding things we didn't know...

Monday, January 28, 2013

Family History Timelines

Adding to my family history timeline, after this past week's discussion on The Armchair Genealogist.  Yes, getting ready for the  Family History Writing Challenge again.  Getting my ducks in a row, I guess you could say.

Seeing as I'm about 95% finished with this first book on my family, I'm even more excited this year than I was last February, when I had one long manuscript, not even in chapter form.  Then came the The Family History Blog-to-Book Project, and the rest is history, pardon the pun.  Once I started getting those chapters and stories here on the blog, the book gathered steam.

Of course, I added much to the research this past year, gaining new relatives and ancestors at every stop along the way.  Love that.

So now I'm basically making it pretty, pulling everything together into a finished book.  If it can ever be finished actually.  But there are always second editions I guess.  I just know I'm going to find all the rest of those elusive ancestors after the book is printed and gone out.

History Timelines

  • I have Family Tree Maker,'s product, and it will generate an ancestor's timeline easily, filling in major historic events along with the person's own life events, births, marriages, deaths.  I consider it valuable.

  • Recently I found Timelines of History online and began using it to find other events I didn't yet have.  I used this one when researching the time period my 2nd great grandparents arrived in New Orleans from Baden, Germany via Le Havre, France.  

  • History Timeline:  I've used this timeline quite a bit.  You'll note the link takes you to my 1700s search, which is the last timeline I was working on.  Once on the site, you can search on any decade or date you choose.  

    One of the events I found was the opening of Rockingham County, Virginia's first state public school.  My 2nd great grandmother Betsey was born in Virginia, so this helped my story a bit.
    The next event I found was on January 26, 1850, when the first German-language daily newspaper in the U.S. was published in New York City.  My ancestors came to America in 1852, so this was a good source for their story.                                   
  • - I admit I love this one.  You create your own timeline on their site.  Once I saw my ancestors lengthwise across the top showing the states they were born in, I was impressed.  I've needed this.  You can sign up for a free account, which is what I did.  I'll be using this one for a long time.

  • Our Timelines:  A big favorite which I found on Cyndi's List a few years ago, when I'd scour her site for anything and everything to help me with my family history project.  This was also before I had Family Tree Maker, so a personalized timeline for my ancestor, for free, was even more desirable.  I still use it.  It's just fun.

I am disappointed that Google discontinued their "News Timeline for Genealogy and Family History".  Here's a YouTube that shows what it did.

Maybe if we all swarm Google and beg and plead, they will bring it back.  Someone out there I'm sure can tell me how to do this myself using Google News.  I would greatly appreciate it.  

If you have Timeline resources of your own, or tips or tricks we can use, please do not hesitate to let us know in the comments below.  This is such a helpful tool in writing our family stories.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Amazing Video, Breathing of an Ancestor's Space and Time

Thanks to one of my fellow Armchair Genealogy Family History Writers, Debra Newton-Carter for finding this Youtube by Charles R. Hale and sharing with us.

This short recording is rich with inspiration for those of us researching, writing and saving our ancestor's stories, especially if we don't feel we have much to go on.

Breathing of an Ancestor's Space and Time

Friday, January 18, 2013

Friday Finds: Scrivener for Family History

I love Feedly.  I always find articles that are perfect for something I'm presently working on or interested in.  And I've been writing my family history book on Scrivener, and this is one of the things I found today from The Book Designer.

"How to Publish Your eBook from Word to Kindle in under Ten Minutes--  Ed Ditto, an experienced author and ghostwriter, has developed an extremely fast way of moving his books from Word, through Scrivener, and into the Amazon Kindle’s Mobi format for uploading to Kindle Direct Publishing. Here he steps you through the process so you can do it, too."

Besides Feedly, I also love Scrivener.  Writers everywhere are attesting to its honors.  The programmers who wrote Scrivener are up there with Evernote geeks.  We have such geniuses in our midst these days! 

Since I started using Scrivener last year, after learning about it from Lynn of Armchair Genealogy, I pretty much got the hang of it, especially thanks to Lynn and her YouTube presentation.  However, I haven't gone beyond the point that I'm currently at--still editing my manuscript and adding new stories when they surface, usually from the addition of a new cousin or aunt who has found me on the web.  

So when I looked at Book Designer's post today, I started seeing my finished project closer than too far at the end of the tunnel.  I hadn't even learned of Kindlegen.  

"Step ten: Finish up by installing Kindlegen

Time required: varies, but nonetheless quite speedy, and only has to be done once
If this is the first time you’ve used Scrivener, the final step in your compilation will be to install KindleGen, which is essentially an intermediary application that helps Scrivener produce .mobi-format e-books. KindleGen is a “set it and forget it” app..."
I can't wait to get to Step Ten!

Here is another good Friday Find, which I'd already found on an earlier Friday.  Author Sarah Corbett Morgan tells how she used Scrivener to write her memoir as a series of scenes.  I also use the Scrivener's corkboard for this.

If you're not familiar with Scrivener yet, check out the above links and see for yourself.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Summers on Sander Street: Cooling on the Stoop

The side porch at 2606 Sander Street.  Circa 1950.  From Left:  Linda, Phyllis, Me, Donna

The 1950s in our neck of the concrete jungle, summers were spent on the front stoop if you didn’t have a front porch. Our house on Sander Street had a long, narrow side porch which just couldn't ever be called a stoop. The front edge of the old wood porch, on the sidewalk, is where the kitchen chairs were placed in a semi-circle. It was a daily and nightly “bring your own kitchen chair” affair. We kids sat on the curb, or on the end of the porch, our version of the stoop, which I always claimed so I could be close to the chairs and hear what the adults talked about.

Aunt Vera, Uncle Norb, Linda, and Terry
That where I learned about the Great Depression and the various ways poor people survived, the wars fought, the one in Korea still being fought and how my Uncle Frank was doing in that war, the plans for the bomb the Russians planned to drop on us, the monstrous floods my people lived through, the best president the United States ever had whose name was Franklin Delano Roosevelt and how he pulled our country out of the mud, favorite movie stars and who they were divorcing and marrying, and last but not least what was going on with the rest of the Dean family.

Maybe I always knew I’d write all this stuff down.

Temperatures went up early on summer days in the city, unless it rained and then we’d get up and out in our bathing suits to dance in the street. After we tired of exercising, we’d crouch in the gutters and build dams with paper wrappers, bags, twisted cigarette wrappers, whatever was available.

On rainless days, we still got up earlier than most kids today on summer vacation from school. As soon as the temps climbed  toward the 80s, it was time to get outside. And we stayed outside most all day. Houses were just too hot. Plus we didn’t have daytime television most of those years. The boob tube was still new.

After lunch, Aunt Vera and Mom would drag their chairs and Pepsi Colas out to the sidewalk to cool off and exchange gossip, call out and wave to other stay-at-home moms, which most all of the women on our street were, and just relax until time to go inside and start dinner.

Mid-afternoons, the music-box tune of the ice cream truck would sound from the next street, and there began the high tension of getting your money ready and waiting in front of the house, already knowing who you would share your popsicle with. Occasionally our moms had enough cash to let us buy a fudgesicle or creamsicle that didn’t have to be shared, or my favorite, the Eskimo pie.

Sometimes Aunt Vera sent me to the little neighborhood store around the corner for a pack of her favorite Pall Mall cigarettes. Usually she’d give me enough money that I’d have a penny or two in change for some candy. Our store was one of those with a long glass showcase filled with candy priced at a penny, or two for a penny. One of our big pastimes back then was standing with our noses to the glass with a penny in our sweaty fists. The choice was deadly serious. It was everything. You never knew when you’d get another penny.

In the evenings, when dinner was finished and cleaned up, the chairs went out on the stoop again, and the grownups would drink beer or Pepsi Colas, smoke, and laugh and tell stories.

While the other kids played, I lurked in the shadows listening and watching. One of the reasons why I remember stories that I write now.

Maybe I always thought this day would come.

Occasionally Grandma walked down from McMillan Street for a visit. Some of the neighbors dropped by. A couple of times, I remember a priest from St. George walking down the block to visit. When we saw the priests at school and at mass in the mornings, they were serious figures. Hearing them laugh outside on our sidewalk while our dads drank beer was just plain strange.

By this time, television at night offered some good shows, and if you had a decent fan in a window, you might be able to turn the volume up over the noise of the fan and enjoy I Love Lucy, Milton Berle, or the Honeymooners with Jackie Gleason.

I loved nights outside on Sander Street. If I sat quietly on the stoop and listened, not reminding anyone I was still there, I’d hear the stories and learn what the grownups cared about, thought about, and hoped for.

Monday, January 14, 2013

I've Been Nominated!

I can't believe I've been nominated for an award!  But thanks to Debra Newton-Carter, and her blog, In Black and White: Cross-Cultural Genealogy, I am a nominee for this Wonderful Team Member Readership Award.

"As bloggers, we are also readers. That is a part of blogging as listening is a part of speaking.”

Members of the Geneabloggers nominate other members who have followed their blogs, leaving comments, and in general supporting their fellow bloggers.

I haven't been a member of Geneabloggers for too long, but in that short time I've learned so much from the member blogger sites I've visited.  I'm excited to be part of this huge group of phenomenal researchers and writers of not only their family histories but of world history overall.  Because our ancestors lived in the real world and are part of history's timeline.

I can't nominate as many Wonderful Team Member Readers as others because of my short time in this group, but below are my choices for those who have supported me and my blog the past year.

  • The same person who nominated me, Debra Newton-Carter, who divulged on her blog that nowhere in the rules of this award does it say you cannot nominate your own nominator.  My first visit to Debra's blog, In Black and White: Cross-Cultural Genealogy, I learned enough good stuff that I had no trouble commenting and continuing to follow up with her.  Thank you again, Debra.
  • Jacqi Stevens, A Family Tapestry, whose blog design caught my eye, I let her know, and she came on over to my own blog.  Thanks, Jacqi.
  • Kathryn Smith Lockhard, her blog Reflections, I nominate because she has followed me, and I like her blog and her quote which I've used: 

 "We become who we are because of those who came before."

According to the rules, I've got a whole week to nominate some more members, and I plan to  do just that.  Looks like I'm going to have a fun week of reading and commenting...and nominating!  

Friday, January 11, 2013

The Passion of Nellie

Great Grandmother Nellie Cramer Dean and Daughter Etta
Circa 1904

My cousin Debbie sent me the photo several years ago in a batch of scans from her mother's (my Aunt Dot's) collection.  At Aunt Dot's funeral, my cousins and I talked about our wayward and disappearing Grandfather Frank Dean.  As the oldest cousin and grandchild, I was the only one, we assumed, who'd ever seen the mysterious man in person, and I was the only one who "knew the stories."  We talked about the book I'd already started fooling with.  I hadn't gotten too serious up until then.

Leaving the funeral, I knew I would work harder on this pet project.  For my family.  I wanted to tell the story for them and their children and grandchildren, as well as my own descendants.

But first I had to discover the rest of the story.  Where did Grandfather Frank go after my father threw him out of the home?  We all knew that story.  The "big fight."

Where did he go?  The word among the adults, Grandma and my aunts and uncles, was that he remarried and had "new" children.  For my Grandma, a strict Catholic, divorce was not an option, and Frank was labeled a bigamist.

I've written these stories here on the blog, even up to my finding my grandfather's new family this past year. I've already written about his parents, John and Nellie, a documented recitation of the facts.  I lacked more personal stories for these particular characters in my story.

As I continued the research on this part of my family, I became more interested in Nellie, more than any of the other ancestors.  I'm not sure why.  I can only say I've had a passion to "know" her.

Maybe because she was the mother of the grandfather who was forced to go missing before I ever knew him.  The only person I'd ever known to be a bigamist.  The man who had the audacity to hurt my Grandma.  Who forced my father to be brutal and feel guilty about it the rest of his life.

The man not even a priest thought worthy of forgiveness when he was dying.  Wasn't every human worthy of  forgiveness?  That's what we learned in Catholic school.  Was this grandfather so evil  that a priest would not visit his death bed?

Who was his mother?  If she'd not died at age 42, would it have made a difference in Frank's life?  If his only sibling wasn't placed in an institution for the "feeble minded," would that have impacted Frank's life?

I've wondered a lot about Nellie.  I tried to picture her in my mind.  What did she look like?  Would I be able to know anything about her if I could see what she looked like?

And then, out of nowhere, I found out.

About a week ago, digging through the digital images on my hard drive, the ones my cousin Debbie sent me, I happened on one in particular that I hadn’t been able to identify and never went back to.  A woman kneeling beside a child with a round, chubby face and dark hair.  I thought it was a pic of my cousin Terry Dean.  But who was the woman?  I didn't recognize her.

I clicked and brought the photo to life and immediately saw the caption “Etta and Mother.” 

I’d found Nellie.

This was obviously a photo left to Grandfather Frank when his mother, Nellie, passed away, and ended up in my Grandma’s possession when Frank was thrown out.  When Grandma died, my Aunt Dot became it’s owner. 

How could I have missed this? 

And hadn’t I, just days before, thought how much it would mean to me if I could just see a picture of Nellie?  Was this some kind of eerie intention sent into the universe, or a wish granted by God? 

I stared at the face of my Great Grandmother a long time, studying every feature for clues.  The building in the background suggested to me this was taken on the grounds of the Columbus Institute where Etta had been placed.  Blowing the image up, I could see figures walking along a path in front of the building, young people who seemed not able to walk by themselves.  One of the figure's legs were twisted. . And they looked like they were wearing black hats similar to those worn by Amish men and boys.

Was Etta living in the institution then, and her mother was visiting her?  Who took the picture?

In 1910, according to the census, Etta was living with her mother and brother and new step-father. Etta is 8 years old, brother Frank, is 12.  They are listed as step-children of head of house, Joseph O'Flaherty, an Irishman, a plumber by trade.  They lived on Cutter Street in Cincinnati's West End, where today modern, middle-class condominiums now stand.  

The children's father, John Dean, had died sometime after marrying Nellie in 1900 and the birth of Etta in 1902.  Nellie and John had to postpone their marriage until John got a divorce from his first wife, by which time their son Frank was two years old. 

In one of the city directories, Nellie was living with her son (Frank) as a widow.  Her last name is listed as Dean.  Then in 1910, about a month before the 1910 census, Nellie became Mrs. O'Flaherty.

If Etta was living with her mother and step-father in 1910, when she was eight, is it possible that she was in the Columbus Institute off and on, that she lived at home and had to return to the institution sometimes?  Was there out-patient care?  

Research of the institution shows that the inmates, or patients, were being educated, the main focus being on self-care and occupational training, like a trade school.  These were typically children who couldn't learn in a regular public school.  

Nellie died on June 4, 1918.  Etta would have been 16.  The Columbus Institute census for 1920 lists Etta as a resident at age 18.  My grandfather was 22 when his mother died, and a year later would marry my grandmother, on May 7, 1919.  

The longer I studied Nellie’s face in this photo, the more the story came to light.  This was the hard countenance of a woman who had been hurt by life more than once.  She became pregnant with her first child by a married man, living with her mother and five sisters plus her illegitimate son and an extra boarder, in a crowded, poor inner-city apartment.  She was a mother who gave birth to a second child, a daughter, who had to be institutionalized as mentally impaired.  Life had been hard on Nellie.  

Maybe she made wrong decisions, paid the consequences of bad mistakes. Maybe she was a good woman, a good mother who loved the wrong man at the wrong time.  Maybe those mistakes affected my grandfather and contributed to his lifestyle.  Possibly his alcoholism was passed down from his father John.  

The photo doesn't answer all of these questions, but I think I know enough to add to Nellie's original story, to add some personal feelings, write a few human scenes to bring her to life on the page for her descendants.  

So it is with writing these stories.  You get the chance to go back and fix things up if you're not over-zealous to be done with the book.  

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Stories for Pictures

New Year, New Pictures!  New Discoveries.  New Stories.

My Uncle Bill in Cincinnati celebrated his 90th Birthday last month with a big family party.  I was blessed to meet up with cousins I hadn't seen since the 1960s, before I moved to Tennessee.  What an awesome experience.  I'm still riding high from that meet-up.

One of my cousins, Kenny, and I discovered our mutual interest in family history at the party, and he has started sending me old family photos.  I had no idea these treasures existed.  Since losing all of my parents' pictures to a brother who took off with them, I've been sad just thinking about all of those memories Mom kept in that old box in the china cabinet drawer.

Here's one of the scans Kenny sent recentlyl.
From Left Top:  Mom, cousin Terry, Aunt Vera holding Kenny
From Left Bottom:  My sister Donna, Me ("Legs") holding brother Ray, cousin Cathy, my sister Nancy.
Not sure where my sister Phyllis and cousin Linda are.
Kenny is the youngest of Uncle Norbert (my Dad's brother) and Aunt Vera, who lived upstairs from us on Sander Street.  

The above photo was taken in approximately 1954.  I can tell this because Ray, my little brother, sitting on my lap, was born when I was 10 years old.  Ray looks to be about a year old in this picture, so I was about 11.  Math and deduction abilities help a lot here.

My cousin Kenny, pictured in his mother's lap, looks to be about one year too, and he and Ray were born around the same time.  

I'm amazed my memories of Sander Street are so strong, and when I look at old pictures from this era, like the one above, more memories surface.  New stories are born.  Here is how one developed from this photo from Kenny.

I can't figure out what house we are sitting in front of in this photo  I've eliminated every house it can't be, because I remember all of them and have pictures of most.  I come to the conclusion this has to be Uncle Frank's house after he married Aunt Janice, after he came home from the Korean War.  I think that house was on Pulte Street in Fairmount.  Yes, I would have been about 11.  That works.

We had some cookouts there, at their house in Fairmount.  I also remember watching the very first Mickey Mouse Club on their TV, and I think it was on a Sunday evening.  A special program introducing the Mouseketeers.  But that was not a cookout day.  

That was a time when Uncle Frank came to Sander Street and took Mom and us kids to his house because Dad had stayed out all night.  He stayed out all night Saturday, and Mom called Uncle Frank Sunday morning, when Dad still wasn't home,.  I would have been at Uncle Frank's later that evening watching TV.    

That is not when the above picture was taken.  This must have been taken at one of Frank and Janice's  cookouts.

Usually when Mom wanted to leave our father, she called Grandpa, her father, and he came and got us and took us out to his farm.  But there must have been a reason she called Uncle Frank this time. I think I have figured out why.

Mom must have known that Uncle Frank would call his big brother, my Dad, and tell him his wife and kids were at his house, and maybe he would have lectured Dad, told him he needed to come home at night to his family, or they would leave, he would lose his family.  

Grandpa, on the other hand, would not have called my Dad.  He wouldn't have wanted us to go back home to his wayward son-in-law.  He was always too happy to have us stay with him.  

Did Uncle Frank do as Mom planned?  I remember we didn't spend the night there, so he must have drove us back home, and Dad made his promises to do better.  And things would have been fine for a little while.  Until he did it again.  

And I remember now being embarrassed at Uncle Frank's house that night.  The Mickey Mouse Club premiered in 1955, and I was 13 years old.  I was beginning to feel uncomfortable around the family I loved so much.  Because I was growing up.  And I was embarrassed.

And a new story is born to go with a memory.