Wednesday, September 28, 2011

An Opera in Clinton. . . Really?

Before my recent family history trip to Clinton I was corresponding with the granddaughter of Augusta Allen Brown.  Augusta, known as Gussie, was the sister of my gr. grandmother, Mae Allen Moldt. Her granddaughter is my second cousin once removed.  It seems like I am "removed" from everyone.  I guess that comes from being the oldest child, of the oldest child, of the oldest child! Susan was the one who made the connections for me to see John Brown for which I am very grateful.  She had mentioned in an earlier conversation that she thought she had some family photos. She assured me that she would try and locate and send copies  to me. She explained that she wasn't quite adept at scanning and attaching a file.  While, I felt like a pest, I had not heard anything so asked her again if she had found any of her family photos.  It turns out that she was just ready to send them to me.  I was overjoyed when a few days later a large envelope arrived.  John told me during our conversation that his mother and her sisters had such a great time when they got together . . . lots of joking and laughing with a bit of craziness mixed in.  One of the photos showed that side of Gussie.  The  information on the side of the print said that Gussie also sang opera.  She really looks like a fun gal.  I wonder where she had the opportunity to sing opera in Clinton, Iowa?

I am so very grateful to cousin Susan for sharing these photos of her grandmother.  They have infused Gussie with a personality and as a family historian, that is what I long for - a glimpse into the past.  The photo at left, also courtesy of Susan, shows Katherine Augusta Allen in a more formal moment . . . without her bowler hat.  Gussie married Bernard Brown in 191,1 and they raised their family in Montana. I am still piecing together how many children they had.

If you know anything more about the singing group above or can identify any other members of the group, please contact me as I would love to know more about it.

Or. . . if you have stories, photos, or memories of any of the other sisters (or one brother), please share.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

School Genealogy Club Possibility

 A couple of years ago, I had a Genealogy Club at the Intermediate Center (gr. 5-8)  where I teach.  At first there were lots of students getting information, but when we actually started meeting, there were only about 5 that attended.  We met in the computer lab and I would log into my account so that they could use it during this time.  We could not get onto Family Search due to the firewall in place.  I don't know if that has changed.  We met every two weeks, but all of the children involved came with lots of family history information usually all organized.  They obviously had a family genealogist in their family.  Last year, I let it drop when two of the five left our school.  Then last week one of our new students stopped while I was at my door on hall duty and asked if I was the teacher who did the Genealogy Club.  I was surprised and asked if he liked genealogy.  "Yes, very much. Are you having the club this year?"  I am a sucker for anyone who likes family history so I told him that I would try to get it organized in the next few weeks.  Now I need your help.

Do you have any suggestions for structure or order?  I really don't want to spend hours getting ready for this club.  What would be some good topics?  How can I handle the students who just want to impress me with all of the information they already have?  I would love to take them to the local library and show they the local resources, but a field trip will not be allowed.  I know there have been several podcasts on getting children interested in genealogy, but they seem to be more on a family level rather than organized at school. 

Free is the perfect price for a public school.

I am waiting for you to point me in the right direction . . .

Monday, September 12, 2011

After the Archives - FGS Conference 2011

Nametag and my geneablogger beads

After leaving the State Archives, I headed for the Prairie Capitol Convention Center and there I registered for Friday so I would be all set and wouldn't have to worry about a line.  Even though the registration lady had just packed everything away for the day, she allowed me to register and handed me a zippered  tote filled with the schedule of classes and assorted other papers.  I would have to pick up my nametag tomorrow.  Next I sent a text to Susan of Nolichucky Roots because I missed lunch and we planned to meet for dinner.  She was in class, and I wanted to check out the vendor mall. I was hoping for a demo of the Flip-Pal scanner and wanted to see if the Newberry Library had any genealogy programs that would entice me to make a trip to Chicago.  Because many attendees were in classes, it was easy to get up to the booths and talk to the vendors.  Three of us paused at the Flip-Pal booth and saw the samples and a brief demo.  While it was very appealing, I just couldn't bring myself to spend $150 yet. After circling most of the vendor area, I was standing in front of the Family Search booth when I received a text from Susan.  We went back and forth a  few times, and then I turned around and looked at the back of the person behind me.  "Susan?"  She turned, and we both started laughing.  The evening ended with dinner and a Geneablogger get together.

Back at my hotel, I planned to look over the conference guide and decide which classes I would attend the next day.  This was my ONE day so I wanted to fill it . . .and I did.

Class #1 - Irish Emigration to North America: Before, During, and After the Famine. Paul Milner   Being a newcomer to the land of conferences, I had never heard any of the speakers before.  Paul Milner is an outstanding speaker who filled his lecture with humor as he explained the migration patterns as well the events that influenced them.  Highly recommended. Since I arrived just as it was beginning, the room was already full and so I took a seat on the floor leaning against the wall.

Class#2 -  Pioneer Genealogy:  Tracing Your Ancestors on the Midwestern Frontier. James Hansen.  This was in the same room but I didn't notice that until I left the room and then had to get in line to get back in.  This time I had a seat and the room was packed. Without any slides, he kept everyone's interest.  Great speaker.

Class #3 - Using Records in the National Archives: A Researcher's View. Marie Varrelman.  Oh my, the level for this was listed as "All" but I was WAY over my head.  The National Archive has always beckoned to me, but after this class, I am more than a little overwhelmed.

 I had lunch with Susan and, of course, our conversation was all about our classes. The one person she recommended and told me that I had to hear if I ever had the chance was Thomas Jones.  So I pulled out the Conference Guide to check the afternoon classes.  What luck, Thomas Jones was one of the choices for the first session after lunch.  "Get there early. It will be packed" she warned.  She was right.

Class #4  Using 'Correlation' to Reveal Facts That No Record States. Thomas Jones.  This was fabulous and his examples were in order of increasing complexity.  I loved this lecture.  Mr. Jones told us that this was a new presentation for him and that we were his first audience for this lecture.  Wow.  The following day, a person demonstrating  in the Family Search booth told me that Mr. Jones would be in Salt Lake this Fall and they intended to tape this lecture and make it available for free online.  Look for it by December.  Don't miss this one.

Class #5 - Gateway to the West: Researching in Ohio. Diane VanSkiver Gagel  My brain was beginning to turn to mush by this point but enjoyed the information in this lecture.  A number of my ancestors lived in Ohio and several brick walls reside in this state.

Class #6 -  Using City Directories:  Following a Family's Migration From Ohio to Illinois. Deborah Abbott  I am a  fan of City Directories and hoped to get some new information.  Mostly it was a review of what I already knew, but for anyone who hadn't used them, it should have inspired them to search out city directories for their ancestors.

By the end of this day, I was exhausted.  When Susan asked if I wanted to join them at the banquet for dinner, I chose to drive back to my hotel.  I was asleep by 8:30.

Saturday was my last day and I with a five hour drive home, I wanted to leave by early afternoon.  My one and only class was by Paul Milner, Irish Maps and Tools for Finding the Right Place. It was just as fantastic as the first one. Ireland can be very confusing and Mr. Milner had numerous resources for maps many newly online. I decided to order a copy of the lecture because I knew there was just too much information for my skimpy notes to do justice.

It will take a while for me to sift through all of the new information and resources but it was a wonderful experience and well worth the time and cost.  If you have ever thought about a national conference, take a chance. You don't have to go for the whole time, you too can just dip your toe in.  This may have been my first conference, but it won't be my last.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Home from FGS Conference

Well. . .  I had an absolutely wonderful time at the recently concluded FGS conference.  The sessions were challenging, informative, and available later as a CD or MP3 download in case you couldn't decide between  the options or your notes were too sketchy.  I ordered several.

My first day as I planned was spent at the State Archives. After an initial misstep when I went to the  archives at the Univ. of Illinois, Springfield.  There I discovered that this location contained predominantly local records and that I needed to be at the IRAD located only a few blocks from the convention center.  Trusting my GPS, I headed downtown and navigated the one way streets, even finding a parking spot without circling the block. The problem was that I only had enough change to park for a little over an hour.  My plan was to get change and re-feed the meter.

After walking around the Museum once, a helpful lady noticed the perplexed look on my face and steered me to the Archives in a separate building at the back and to the side. Finally!  I entered, went through security and put my bag in the locker provided.  They allowed me to take my camera in as long as I removed it from the camera bag.

When I told the archivist that I was interested in the Spanish American War records, she let out a big sigh and warned that they were a bit problematic.  She retrieved two rolls - the Muster In and Muster Out.  I started with the Muster Out and she took me to the microfilm reader.  They were organized by regiment and unit - so I thought - and after a bit of going back and forth, I found the first records.  I was looking for my great grandfather, Edward P. Kennelly and his cousin, John W. O'Connor who, conveniently, were both in the 7th Infantry, Company K.  The dilemma was that the regiments and companies were listed on the beginning pages of each section and then not identified on each succeeding page.

When I started on the Muster In film, this problem began to be apparent. I found John W. O'Connor as he was a sergeant and listed at the beginning of the unit, but Edward was nowhere to be found.  The names were arranged alphabetically so I was confused.  I went out to ask for assistance, and it was suggested that I might have the wrong company, but I explained that I found the information in three separate resources including The Adjutant General's Muster Out book that I had accessed through Google Books.  Why, it turned out they had that book, so they pulled it from the shelf, and we verified that Edward was indeed in the 7th Infantry, Company K and they then suggested that maybe the book could guide me to my record.  By this point I had four archivists who were making suggestions and trying to help me. This is when I discovered the problem. The film followed the book exactly then suddenly, the soldiers were completely different.  These soldiers were not listed anywhere in Company K. The pages had become mixed up when placing them on the film and since the regiment and unit are not identified at the top of each page, you might not realize that they are transposed unless you follow the book as I did.  I now realized that I would have to pick through page by page, but at least is was alphabetical so I could skip to the K's. Somewhere in the middle of all this I ran out to move my car to the free parking lot another block over before my time on the parking meter expired.

While I was picking my way through the film, one of the archivists came in to tell me that they had retrieved the original book for me to look through.  At first, I didn't comprehend this, then when I saw him with the book, my mouth dropped open.  It was a VERY long book.  I couldn't believe it when they put it on the table and told me that I could look through and find my records.  As I carefully paged through, I realized what a privilege this was.  It did not take long to find my great grandfather.

On May 8, 1898 Ed P. Kennelly was 5'71/2" - let's not forget the half - with ruddy complexion,  blue eyes, light hair and earned his living as a butcher.

He lived at 439 Carroll Ave. with his mother Mrs. Margaret Logan and mercifully had no physical defects to be listed for posterity to read.  I found it interesting that his signature looks so similar to his son, my grandfather's signature.  Could handwriting be an inherited trait?

I was allowed to take these photos, and when I hesitantly asked if it was possible to get a copy, they told me it was.  It would just take two of them to hold the book.  Each page took three copies to get it all in. I am so grateful to the archivists for all of their help.  Seeing the original record was a wonderful experience.

With my primary objective met, I decided I still had enough time to look up two death certificates before they closed at 4:00.  Once I had those, I headed for the convention center.  The vendor mall was open until 8:00 and Susan from Nolichucky Roots  and I had made tentative plans to meet for dinner then go to the Geneabloggers meet-up together.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

One Thing Leads to Another

  In my previous lengthy blog post, I mentioned that my new to me cousin John told how his basement had flooded about four years ago, and most of his old family photos were ruined.  Can you hear me sobbing?  My mind instantly pictured my overflowing basement that I had promised to clean several years ago knee deep with water.  John's story was just the incentive I needed.  When I returned home I started throwing out and organizing the basement since I still had a few days before I returned to work. There were a couple of boxes that had an open top and my name in marker on the side.  I recognized some of my old high school memorabilia junk, but one box held undiscovered treasures.  After lifting a 1965 copy of the Tiger's Tale school paper from the top, I saw the photo above.  I have never seen this photo before. The young girl on the right is my grandmother Berenice Moldt Kennelly at about age 10.  The boy is her younger brother Edward T. Moldt who was always known as "Doc".  I have no idea who the other two girls are.  If any family members read this and recognize either girl, please let me know.  With those hats, maybe it was Sunday and they were on their way to church.  As I went through more of this particular box, I realized that it must have been one that my mother kept.  There were newspaper clippings of anything and everything I ever did as well as most of my old report cards.  Funny . . . because I remember myself as a much better student than my report cards show.  In first grade at Holy Saviour in Wichita, Kansas I had a consistent "C" in religious studies, and the card was full of checks for areas that needed improvement.   Mom had saved every letter I ever wrote home from college and after reading one four page letter of how distraught I was over breaking up with my boyfriend, I left the others.  Yuck!

Stuck in with my high school odds and ends were these photos, possibly circa 1945, of my grandparents, Berenice (the little girl with the hair bow above) and Ed Kennelly. It is perfect that I should share them on a "Wordless Wednesday" because really what can you say? 

I love old photos!

Monday, September 5, 2011

The Research Trip

Well, I am still wrestling with computer issues.  I picked up my new one yesterday, but with only four icons on the desktop, it looks very bar. . . almost undressed.  I was told that they were able to copy the data from my old failing hard drive, but  have not found my old emails and address book yet.  My copy of Microsoft Office seems to have evaporated from my well organized filing drawer (stop laughing Dahl) because I cannot find it anywhere. How can I function without Word? Buying another is not in my budget.  There is still so much to do before it feels comfortable.  To be continued. . .

 Saturday morning Days later:   My computer is beginning to feel a bit  more comfortable and I have found my old email thanks to a remote operation by the person who built the computer.  That was really interesting.  Now for a real blog post.

I have thought quite a bit recently about the term "research trip".  It sounds so cerebral and organized and . . . and . . . boring! It conjures a vision of a lonely academic with her glasses perched on the end of her nose sitting in some dusty dimly lit corner surrounded by ancient texts. (For those who know - picture the stacks at the Purdue Library) Well . . . maybe this is partially correct but I cannot imagine her shouting out loud, "Aha, I found you!!!" like a family historian would.  And after all we don't spend all of our time looking through books.  We enjoy the outdoors, walking through manicured lawns or knee deep in weeds looking for headstones, we follow maps and drive unknown roads looking for ancestral property, we knock on the doors of strangers to ask if we can take a picture of their house and tell them all about our ancestor who lived there long ago, and the best part is when we meet relatives who reminisce about other family members who have passed away, and the times we only read about.   I think we need a new name for these exciting, emotional, family journeys we take through time. 

My brief visit to Clinton recently was a good example.  I was by myself, I wasn't prepared, I wasn't organized, and yet to me it was a wonderful experience. For a year I had intended to return to Clinton, but you know how time can slip away from us.  Then, through an online connection with a second cousin once removed, I found out that I had a 90 year old first cousin twice removed who still lived in Clinton.  Do you suppose he would let me visit, I asked?  Bless her, she made inquiries and voila! I had his phone number and address.  Now there was nothing that would keep me from this trip.

With my GPS plugged in I navigated the construction around Chicago and endured the "recalculating" admonishment that I received multiple times as I ignored the suggested route.  Arriving a bit after noon, I decided that the library would be a good choice for my afternoon and allow me to relax from the drive.  Since I did not bring along a list of death dates to look for  obituaries, I decided to concentrate on city directories.  That kept me busy and allowed me to feel successful as I printed off one after another.  Taking a break from city directories, I pulled out a film reel of wills.  Whoopee, I found the original will of Zelphia Guilfoil.  Zelphia was the wife of Michael Guilfoil  who was the brother of my g-g-g grandmother, Ellen Guilfoil Gilshannon.  It was Zelphia's will that had connected the three siblings, Michael, James, and Ellen.  I had a transcription but I do so love an original. I continued scrolling through reels for several more hours until my no line bifocals made me dizzy, and I decided to find a motel, check in, and have some dinner.  I returned to the library after dinner until closing.

The motel had issues and as I looked at the cost, I reasoned that if I went home a day early, I could use that money toward the FGS conference.  Decision made.  I checked out and planned to go home late afternoon.

Now I had to decide how I would use my one remaining day.  Mary, my angel in Clinton, had given me so much information before I left.  I printed out the addresses, phone numbers,  and contacts . . . but one stood out.  The Catholic Historical Center at St. Boniface church which was only open on Tues morning from 9-12.  This was new to me, and so I thought I should check it out since much of the information I was seeking was sure to be in church records and, conveniently, today was Tuesday!  Churches had records of baptisms before birth certificates were required.  Following my GPS, I easily found St. Boniface, but the front door was locked. I called the number Mary had sent me for the consolidated Prince of Peace church, but the woman on the other end of the line didn't know how I could get in to the Center. She was sure that was where I needed to go because "they didn't do genealogy" at the Prince of Peace location.

I drove around the church, and suddenly I saw a sign by a door at the top of a flight of outside stairs.  Pulling into the parking lot, I quickly jumped out, grabbed my stuff and climbed the stairs squeezing around the fan that was in the doorway surprising the men inside. Later I learned that this was the back door. I explained my connection to Clinton and asked if they could help me.  It turns out that they had just received an index with the consolidated church information on it but hadn't received any training yet.  I was their first "customer" and they would give it a try.  Bill Foley stepped up and offered to help me. He fired up the computer and opened the program containing the records index.  There were folders for each closed church and inside those there were folders for baptisms, marriages, etc. Within those folders the information was listed in a file similar to an excel file, with columns for child's name, parent names, date of birth, date of baptism, and sponsors. "Okay," Bill said, "What church?" There were several churches but I decided to start with St. Irenaeus. As Bill scrolled through the information for the St. Irenaeus records, I was frantically writing.  Every record we located at first had errors, due I am sure to the difficulty of reading old handwriting.  After several records I looked at the screen and saw the last name McDonald instead of McDonnell for a record that was definitely my g-g grandparents.  It was the 1865 baptism record for Mary Winifred McDonnell daughter of Owen William and Bridget O'Callahan McDonnell.  All of the records had the mother's maiden name making identification easier.  This record listed  Bartholomew McDonnell as one of her sponsors.  Wow! I have been searching for Bartholomew and suspected that he might have died in the Civil War, but here he was still in Clinton in 1865.  We continued and now I looked for alternate spellings (McDonald, McDonogh, McDonough, McDonnell) as Bill scrolled through the information.  Finally, near closing time, he clicked on a different column and the information was suddenly listed alphabetically by sponsor. At this point I realized that this would allow a cross reference of family names, but it was too late to do much more. I was elated with the information I had and knew the Catholic Historical Center would need a return visit. But wait, I asked, "Where are the originals since there are so many mistakes on the transcriptions?  Could I get a copy of the original documents?" "You'll have to call Prince of Peace because they have the original documents."

Rev. J.A. Murray married my g-grandparents
At the beginning, while I was waiting for Bill to load the program, another man brought over a stack of pamphlets dated 1908 and beyond for St. Patrick's church.  As I flipped through the pages, I paused when my eyes spotted the name Ed Moldt, my gr. grandfather. It shows that he paid $10 pew rent and $2.50 for the union (???)  This was news to me.  I didn't know my gr. grandfather had converted to Catholicism, who knew you had to pay pew rent and what did Union refer to.  Looks like he didn't support the rosary though.  Another page near the back of the booklet listed the baptism of my favorite uncle Harold Leonard Moldt, fondly know as Uncle High.  Neither the scanner or printer was connected yet at the Catholic Historical Center so Bill generously  offered to scan it at home and email it to me.  I didn't discover my uncle's name in the back till I looked at the scans he sent.
I thanked Bill for everything, slung my purse over my shoulder and went to my car.  As I sat in the church parking lot, I called John Brown, my first cousin twice removed.  His mother, Augusta Allen Brown, and my great grandmother, Mae Allen Moldt were sisters. A photo of the family is here.  I reasoned that I had time for a visit before I had to head for home.  John was a dear and told me that his son had told him about a relative who might get in touch with him.  "No problem at all, come on over."  he told me.

John lived outside of town.  He had been a farmer all of his life so I am sure his current few acres seemed small by comparison.  Even though he was 90 there was nothing old about John.  He could easily have been mistaken for a man twenty years younger.  I love the photo of him above because on the counter beside him is a photo of John and his wife when they were young.  We had a lovely visit, and he told me how he had a flood in his basement about four years ago and had lost a lot of family photos.  It broke my heart, and I thought of those boxes in my basement at home. We talked about the family bible, and he thought he knew who might have it.  He would investigate!!  From my computer, I shared with him some of the photos I had, and he talked about his mother and her sisters. I think we both enjoyed the visit.  So with a hug and a kiss, I left my newly discovered cousin and headed home.

It was only a little over 36 hours from when I left to when I arrived home.  A short time by most standards for a research trip, but it felt longer.  I had lots of new information as well as a new resource in the Catholic Historical Center, but best of all was my visit with John.

Post Note: I called Prince of Peace when I returned home, and the flustered lady on the other end of the phone said that she couldn't make a copy because she would have to cut off the other people on the page for privacy.  Really . . . I asked for a copy of an 1865 baptism record!! "Besides", she said "We don't do genealogy."  My question is, then why do you keep the records?  Later I received a letter attesting to my gr. grandmother's baptism, with an ending statement of "We don't do genealogy at Prince of Peace."  My hope is that someone will digitize these records before they are lost.