Internet Archive Genealogy Collection – Who’s There?

You may be familiar with Internet Archive because of the Waybackmachine that archives websites that, if you’re lucky, you can find again once they are gone. Sadly, the old WorldConnect RootsWeb trees that included comments with so much valuable information can’t be found (or at least I can’t find them,) but many other obsolete websites are only available through Waybackmachine.

I must admit, I use this tool a lot. I also donate from time to time to help fund this valuable resource. However, there’s more to Internet Archive than Waybackmachine. A lot more.

Recently, I received an email with a link to their “Genealogy Collection,” here.

Just scroll down – but only if you have absolutely nothing else to do today.

I mean, you can get lost here forever.

You can browse on lots of pages, but you can also search.

I selected the surname Ferverda because it’s fairly unique. It was spelled Ferwerda in the Netherlands and is also spelled Fervida in my family line in the US.

Click to enlarge images

There are a total of 237 results searching the text contents, falling into several years, as you can see at left.

Scrolling on down that left-hand sidebar, you can see thatFerverda results fall into different categories as well.

Some of these, like Leesburg and Fort Wayne, I recognize based on knowing exactly where this family lived.

But Argentina? Did a family line immigrate there?

And the US patent office? Ok, I have to look, so I clicked.

I recognize the name of my uncle who was a research chemist in the paint industry.

I didn’t know he held patents though.

  • Ferverda, Harold L., to General Electric Co. Method of making a laminated core. 2,786,006, 3-19-57, CI. 154 — 80.
  • Ferverda, Harold L., to General Electric Co. Process for bonding dynamoelectric machine coil end turns and article produced therebv. 2,802,120, 8-6-57, CI 310 — 45.

Hey, look….there’s my grandfather who was the station agent for the railroad at one point in his life!

I wonder what this has to say about him.

Next, there’s the Ferwerda surname with all publications in Dutch, in the Netherlands, under the genealogy tab.

Some documents are available as images and some in a downloadable text version. Even if the document is written in a foreign language, automated translators are available through Google and other resources. Who knows what treasures might be lurking where you least expect them.

What interesting discoveries can you make? Maybe your names will be found in the genealogy collection too. Let me know if you find something good!

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Disclosure

I receive a small contribution when you click on some of the links to vendors in my articles. This does NOT increase the price you pay but helps me to keep the lights on and this informational blog free for everyone. Please click on the links in the articles or to the vendors below if you are purchasing products or DNA testing.

Thank you so much.

DNA Purchases and Free Transfers

Genealogy Products and Services

Genealogy Research

Books

Into the Silence

I really want to encourage each and every one of you to work and speak “into the silence.”

What do I mean by that?

When we document something, write something or make something – we do so alone. Just like I’m doing right this minute. I’m writing “into the silence” because I’m writing on faith that people will read and, fingers-crossed, enjoy and utilize my articles.

Often, we write or create with the hope that some particular person, or persons, will appreciate our endeavors. Maybe we created a loving holiday or birthday gift for someone special.

Or, perhaps, our goal is less specific and more intangible.

Think, for example, of a journal.

Each person who writes in a journal generally isn’t journaling for someone else. If so, the “someone else” is a matter of faith – that they *will* exist someday in the future. Journaling is private and the eventual consumer, if they ever exist, is a byproduct of the journaling process, an accident.

In essence, the diarist is writing into the silence because the future is uncertain. Those future readers may not exist. That journal may not survive.

I ask you to ponder how grateful you would be, today, for your great-grandmother’s journal detailing everyday life in her house and garden. Her trips to the market, how and when she did laundry, did it rain or snow, are the tomatoes ripe, who misbehaved at church, along with her thoughts on what was happening in her life and neighborhood.

Or your great-grandfather’s journal about his time separated from his family while in the military serving his country. Did he serve in the Civil War or in WWI, living in a tent-hospital during the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic? What was that experience like on a personal level?

Maybe letters from your ancestor as they made their way to a new country, seasick the entire time, but filled with hope.

What I’d give for any of those!

Today, maybe you’ve created a book about one of your ancestral lines. Or, maybe you took weeks to sort out, assemble, scan, and organize the photos of your grandparents to share with your siblings.

And perhaps no one even bothered to acknowledge your gift or say thank you. Did they even look at them? Do they care, at all?

That would leave anyone somewhat dejected with hurt feelings.

But if you think about it, what you’re really doing is writing, creating, into the silence.

Not their silence today. No, not that.

But the larger silence of time and space that exists between you and future generations. Without your endeavors, they have no opportunity to glimpse today, or your shared past.

This silence – this silence is what connects you. The umbilical cord that links them to their ancestors through you.

That document, or collage, or scrapbook, or quilt – whatever you created out of love will, hopefully, be passed along. A form of prayer on wings – winging its way to the future with a mission of its own.

The person who will most cherish that gift across time, who will love you for it even though they will never meet you, hasn’t yet been born.

So, I encourage you to continue to honor your ancestors, to tell their stories, to document their lives – and your own.

Yes, someone will care.

Speak into the silence by testing your DNA and making sure it’s available for future genealogists. By researching and documenting your ancestral lines. By ensuring that your work is photographed if it’s a quilt or scrapbook. By placing stories and other writing into repositories where they will be available for those listening future generations even if the current generations seem to be stone-cold deaf.

In my case, my 52 Ancestors stories fall into that category. I’ve written one each week for 320 weeks now, more than six years as hard as that is to believe, and I’m no place near finished. I search for the Y and mitochondrial DNA of each ancestor and document discoveries.

I’m planning to compile the articles, by family line, into books. I will probably use a self-publishing platform such as LuLu.com to assure that their stories are available indefinitely. I’ve linked each ancestor’s story to the proper ancestor on my tree at Ancestry and MyHeritage and I’m in the process at WikiTree as well.

I’ll be donating the books, when created, to various local and regional libraries and genealogy/historical societies, along with both the Allen County Public Library and Family History Library in Salt Lake City.

Remember that activities, pictures, stories, and memories that seem mundane to you today will be someone else’s goldmine happy-dance one day.

It’s not so much the silence we’re speaking into, but acting to honor the past and present for future generations – on faith that someone “out there” will care. We are being that ancestor who we wish would have left something, anything, telling us about their lives and family. How they felt, what they did, what was transpiring around them.

Especially in difficult and trying times, keep on doing what you’re doing and answering that call.

Be encouraged, take heart, and know that your efforts today will cause your name to be spoken with gratitude long after you’ve left this realm.

Merry or Happy Whatever Holiday You Celebrate Near the Winter Solstice

Yes, I know 2020 has been hell on wheels. 2020 itself has become analogous with bad things and is sort of a defacto swear word.

You just say, “2020” and everyone knows exactly what you mean.

Thankfully, it’s almost over! The year anyway.

Today, of all days, I want to share a different flavor message with you.

A Perspective of Hope and Gratitude

I’m writing this in a home with no twinkling Christmas tree, with no family members visiting, no grandchildren chattering, no crinkling of wrapping paper, and fewer family members than we began with this year.

And yes, I miss my family and the holiday festivities and traditions desperately – BUT – and this is huge….

I’m safe.

You’re safe, or at least I hope you are.

I’m extremely, extremely fortunate to be in a house that IS safe.

In a location that IS safe.

I’m blessed to have the ability to stay home SAFE.

It’s not a violation of my rights, but a sacred privilege.

To have the luxury of making the safe decision to shelter at home is an opportunity denied to many.

I don’t have to face Covid and the possibility of getting infected myself in a hospital as a front-line medical worker. Or as an EMT, or public safety officer, grocery store worker or others who have no choice in the matter.

For many, it’s work or starve – literally – a choice they are also making for their other family members, including children.

Children.

Children in America with no food. Let that sink in for a minute.

Several of my family members, including my children and their spouses, don’t have the luxury of safety because of the nature of their jobs, and I’m desperately worried about them.

I’m not forced to face or deal with unmasked people risking the safety and very lives of others.

And while I’m unhappy and inconvenienced staying at home and missing out on the things I’d like to be doing – my level of frustration is extremely, extremely minor in the grand scheme of things. A minuscule tradeoff for the ability to protect myself and others, saving lives.

I’m not being evicted because I’ve lost my job and can’t pay my rent.

I have heat and water and light and food. My family members and pets have food too.

My Christmas tree isn’t put up because I didn’t feel festive – not because I lost it in an eviction or because I no longer have a home to put it in.

No photo description available.

This year’s tree will simply have to be a Facebook memory of my tree from a happier time. Reflecting on the past that I took for granted, but certainly don’t now, hoping for the future, and simply trying to be grateful for what I have today.

Sometimes it takes misfortune to really bring the message of gratitude home.

My house did not burn to the ground, in the midst of a pandemic, like my friend’s house did.

My kids and grandkids aren’t suffering.

We are all staying safe, separately, together.

I have seen them in parking lots and on outdoor hikes a few times this year and we’ve made memories, nonetheless. Differently, than we would have preferred, but safely. Responsibly. No one risked the health of anyone else.

It’s not the best of circumstances – but it’s far, far from the worst.

I have multiple friends and family members who have died from and others who are severely debilitated by Covid.

And through all of this, I can’t help but think of my ancestors who died young, during plagues, of infections and situations now preventable or treatable, particularly with the advent of antibiotics in the era of modern medicine.

How blessed they would view our lives – given that we DO have the ability to understand the source of this plague and CAN do something about it. Simple things really, wearing masks, staying home, washing our hands, and soon, to take vaccines.

We can wage this war without marching off, killing others, and destroying the countryside. Although, ironically, Covid has now killed more people than Vietnam, Korea, and WWI, combined and is approaching the mortality of WWII – yet we don’t think of Covid as a war. Nonetheless, it is.

Instead of fighting in mortal combat, all we need to do is simply stay at home. It’s that simple. What our ancestors would have given for this opportunity.

Instead, they died. The church records tell their story, along with that of their entire village.

They died in childbirth, died of infections, died in wave after wave of pandemics such as the Black Death and recurring illnesses like typhoid and smallpox that wiped out one third to one half of the population, over and over again.

Many people were blamed for bringing these plagues into their villages by “witchcraft.”

Ignorance, too, is deadly in more ways than one.

Those who moved away from the homeland were truly alone, never seeing or talking to their family again. If you moved away and your family or spouse died – unless you could find someone else to marry quickly, especially if you were a woman, you too were relegated to destitution, poverty, and death.

Even in this current “worst of times,” we are so much better off than our ancestors. 2020 has certainly provided me with a different perspective of their world.

We have so much to be thankful for – beginning with the opportunity and means to keep ourselves safe. Such simple things, really.

I’m incredibly grateful for Skype, Zoom, Facetime, and other technologies that make being together, safely-distanced, possible. Apart doesn’t necessarily mean disconnected now.

These apps may even be responsible for encouraging some people to stay home that would have otherwise risked traveling, exposing and infecting themselves and others.

Yes, while 2020 has been “difficult,” to put it mildly, and the first half of 2021 will likely be even worse while Covid continues to spike, those of us who can stay home and stay safe until it’s our turn for that life-saving vaccine are indeed the blessed, even if we are the unhappy, complaining and sometimes ungrateful blessed.

Having Said That…

I want to share my heartfelt condolences and concern for those who:

  • Have lost family members
  • Are truly alone
  • Aren’t safe
  • Don’t have enough food
  • Are suffering, either physically or mentally

Because there are many, many…so many.

We don’t necessarily know who they are, because sometimes suffering isn’t evident.

And sometimes, it is, especially if we are cognizant and look.

I hope we all take this time to reflect on others, notice their need, and reach out to help to relieve their suffering, as best we can.

  • Drop off food. Safely, on porches.
  • Reach out to say hello and convey that we care.
  • Help with technology. My husband is coordinating Zoom calls for families.
  • Provide supportive assistance to solve problems, such as suggesting and arranging for grocery or prescription pickup and delivery.
  • Provide other types of assistance, safely.
  • And the animals. Don’t forget the animals who are entirely dependent on people.

Additionally, we can contribute to organizations and reputable charities that work collectively to assist people in need. Food banks come to mind right now.

My “gifts” this year, with the exception of small things delivered by no-contact “porch Santas” to family members have all been in the form of donations of one flavor or another to assist those not so fortunate.

Light, Prayer, Hope

It is for all of us that I walk in the labyrinth this winter solstice – the longest, darkest day of the year, carrying this single candle of light.

Hope for the future

For light in our life

For brighter days

For 2021

For humanity

For all of us, collectively

And individually

For you…

Preserve your Family’s Stories by Telling Them

This year has given us all a lot to think about.

One topic that has been brought into sharp focus for me is my ancestors who lived through, and died during, the 1918 flu pandemic known as the Spanish Flu. You might recall that even though the year 1918 was associated with that flu outbreak, it actually spanned parts of at least three years including two full winters.

I know that my father was in the Army at the time and very nearly died in the base hospital. In fact, he thought he was, in his words, “a goner.”

He wrote a few letters to his girlfriend, Virgie, who he later married. I was fortunate enough to inherit those letters after her death.

Otherwise, I would never have known anything at all about that time in his life – or even that he had that flu – let alone nearly died.

Looking at my family tree, all 4 of my grandparents were alive, but my mother had not yet been born.

However, all four of my father’s grandparents died during this time with a cause of death of “pneumonia” where we have a death certificate.

On my mother’s side, one of her grandparents was already deceased and the other three survived the pandemic. We don’t know if they were sick or not.

Other than my father, we know almost nothing about my ancestors’ lives during this time. What was it like? What were they thinking? Were they afraid? Did other family members or maybe people in the neighborhood die? Did they understand the infectious process?

So many questions.

The Gifts I Wish I Had

If I could reach back in time and ask my grandparents and great-grandparents for one thing, it would be the gift of letters – documentation of the daily hum-drum of their lives. Legacy letters. Newsy letters or a journal.  Maybe not so much telling me about the “big things,” although those too, but sharing personal aspects of their lives.

Let me put this in perspective. I have so many questions for my 8 great-grandparents that I desperately wish they had answered by leaving letters or journals. Something. Anything but silence.

  • Lazarus Estes was born in 1848 in Estes Holler in Claiborne County, TN and lived through the Civil War, dying in July of 1918. He would have been about 15 when the war broke out between the states. What was it like there? What did he do when there were battles within hearing of his family homestead? When the soldiers marched through the hills, confiscating all the food and livestock? How did they survive? And what about his sister, Elizabeth, sneaking into the soldiers’ camp and stealing their milk cow back? Is that true? His father, John Y. Estes was a POW – what was that like? Did they know he had been captured and where he was being held? Something happened right after the war when Lazarus’s father signed all of his household goods over to 17-year-old Lazarus. What was going on? Lazarus was the grandson of John R. Estes who settled in Claiborne County and the grandson of a Revolutionary War veteran, George Estes who didn’t die until just before the Civil War. George was reportedly at Valley Forge that terrible winter. Is that true? What was going on with George’s daughter, Susannah who never married, had 5 illegitimate children at a time when that was absolutely NOT socially acceptable, and went on to own all of George’s land. I’ve love to hear those stories. But there are no stories preserved today beyond vague references.
  • Elizabeth “Betty” Ann Vannoy was born in 1847 in Hancock County, TN, married Lazarus Estes, and died in Claiborne County in October of 1918. She too would have experienced the Civil War firsthand. It’s through the Vannoy family that we do have the story about the family taking the chickens and hiding in a cave to escape the marauding soldiers. Was that true? Where was that cave? Her father Joel Vannoy had mental health challenges, being committed to the Eastern State Mental Hospital in 1886s. How did that affect her and the family? What was he like? Why was his body dug up and reburied in a different grave? Why did Elizabeth lose so many children? Where did that oft-repeated story of Native American ancestors come from? Did she know that the “flu” was deadly dangerous before they both contracted it and died?
  • Joseph B. “Dode” Bolton was born in 1853 in Hancock County, TN and died in February 1920, just 12 days after his wife, both of “pneumonia as a result of the flu.” First, how did he get the nickname “Dode” and where did it come from? What did the initial, “B.” stand for? Where did your father’s middle name, Preston, come from? What can you tell me about the life of your immigrant grandfather, Henry Bolton? Were he and his brother, Conrad, really kidnapped on the docks in London? Or sold by an evil step-mother? Did Henry actually serve in the Revolutionary War, hand-selected by George Washington to care for his horses? Who were your grandmother, Nancy Mann’s parents? What was your great-grandmother, Mary’s surname, the woman married to John Harrold in Wilkes County, NC? Were they really Irish?
  • Margaret N. Clarkson or Claxton was born in 1851, married Joseph “Dode” Bolton, and died in 1920 in Hancock County, TN. I’d like to know if her middle initial was actually N. and if so, what was the full name and where did it originate? She too would have lived through the Civil War. Her father, Samuel Claxton/Clarkson was disabled with a bowel disease he caught during his Union Army service that eventually killed him. What does she remember about her father’s service in the Union Army? How did he cross the mountains to enlist? Was there pushback in the local community because he fought for the north? What is the truth about the haunted Rebel Holler, near where they lived, relative to the Civil War?

My Mom’s side was quite different. They lived in Northern Indiana.

  • Hiram Bauke Ferwerda, Ferverda here, born in Tierjerksteradeel, West Dongeradeel, Friesland, the Netherlands, immigrated at the age of 14 in 1868 and died in 1925 in Kosciusko County, Indiana. As a Mennonite family, they settled in northern Indiana among the Brethren where his father was a farmer and teacher. I would love to have a journal of his early life, his time as a baker’s apprentice in the tiny Dutch hamlet on a tiny canal comprised of all of 7 houses, up through and including the Atlantic crossing. His brother, Henry, seemed to have been tortured by epilepsy and resulting mental illness. Henry died a pauper in 1898 and was not brought home to be buried. I’d love to know more about what happened. How did Hiram Bauke, a Brethren man wind up becoming the town Marshall and a local banker? What happened?
  • Evaline Louise Miller was born in 1857 on a farm near New Paris, Indiana, married Hiram Ferverda, and died in 1939 in Leesburg. All 11 children lived to adulthood and all but two outlived her. I’d like to know about her early life in the Brethren Church. Her father, John David Miller, and grandfather, David Miller, homesteaded among the Indians along Turkey Creek in the 1830s and I’ve love to understand more about those early years. Did John David Miller actually serve in the Civil War, even being a Brethren? Who is the mystery Elizabeth Miller, David’s second wife who died in “the sickly year” of 1838? Four of Eva’s sons served in the military, unheard of for a Brethren family. How did that happen and what did the family think? Something occurred that caused Eva’s estate to be distributed unevenly, with some debts forgiven and agreed to by all. What happened and why?
  • Curtis Benjamin “C.B.” Lore was born in 1856 in Blue Eye, PA, and died in 1909 in Rushville, Indiana. The life of his father, Antoine “Anthony” Lord/Lore, and his early life are both shrouded in mystery. Curtis was married to Mary Bills when he left Warren County, PA, and didn’t divorce until after he married Nora Kirsch in Indiana. What happened? There were rumors of another son, other than the children from his first marriage. Were there more children, and if so, where and who? What happened to C. B.’s siblings and mother, Rachel Levina Hill after his father’s untimely young death? Was his father, born to Acadian parents Honore Lord and Marie Lafaille in L’Acadie, Quebec, Canada actually a river pirate? What happened to Antoine, and when?
  • Ellenore “Nora” Kirsch was born in 1866 in Aurora Indiana to German immigrant parents. She married C. B. Lore and died in 1949 living with her daughter in Lockport, NY. Unfortunately, I can’t find her death certificate, so I’d like to know her cause of death. I’d love to hear about life at the Kirsch House in Aurora, Indiana. Why did her father, Jacob Kirsch, deed the property to her mother, Barbara Drechsel? What about that lynching – and how exactly did Jacob lose his eye? Did Jacob serve in the Civil War, and was he actually summoned to euthanize an elephant at the Cincinnati Zoo? Did Nora know that C.B. Lore had been married before when she married him and that he was STILL married? Did she know about his children? What did she do when a son showed up at her kitchen door a couple of years after his death, looking for him? Who was that child? Nora married again, unhappily, after C. B.’s death and I’d like to hear more about that marriage. Nora was an exquisite quilter, with one of her quilts representing the state of Indiana in the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair. I so very much wish she had kept a quilt journal.

Creating and Preserving Legacy Stories

When we think of recording legacy stories, we often get bogged down by the enormity of writing something book-length. Think small.

Here’s an example. On Thanksgiving morning, when I woke up to smell those yummy Thanksgiving smells, even though we were having pandemic-style Thanksgiving meaning that we weren’t seeing anyone – I recalled another Thanksgiving from the past. In a minute, I’ll share that memory with you as I posted on Facebook.

Note that Facebook is sharing spontaneously in the moment, but we should have no expectation of permanence or being able to google and find something later – or ever for that matter. Facebook is not mean to be an archive of any sort. So write those memories down and publish elsewhere – a blog, a webpage, or send these stories to your family directly. Maybe all three.

Additionally, I attach my stories to my tree at both Ancestry and MyHeritage. You may say, “yes but they make money from subscriptions,” and that IS EXACTLY WHY THOSE STORIES AND YOUR TREE WILL SURVIVE into the future. Free things tend to disappear. Businesses are in business for profit, pure and simple, and in this case, that works to your advantage.

Print those stories, send them to people individually as well as electronically to historical societies. I put mine together in booklet form and donate to the Allen County Public Library. The Family History Library (LDS) accepts items as well.

Here’s my short Thanksgiving Facebook posting that I also pasted into a document with the photos below. I hope this provides a bit of entertainment and perhaps inspiration.

Aromas of Thanksgiving Past

The smells of Thanksgiving. A unique blend that reminds me of Thanksgivings past. I’m so grateful that Jim likes to cook, because I don’t. I did it because I had to. He does it because he loves to.

One of my favorite Thanksgiving memories is the year mom accidentally got tipsy. I was about 13 or 14.

Mom didn’t drink. Not that she was opposed to drinking, it just wasn’t something she did much, if at all. Maybe occasionally socially.

My uncle and his family were coming for thanksgiving. Mom loved having family visit so she had been up cooking and getting ready for hours. We decorated for the holidays the day before their visit. Mom loved the Christmas tree too and was excited to put it up a couple of days early.

When Uncle Lore and his family arrived, he brought some type of adult beverage with him. I don’t remember what it was. I know it had alcohol in it because we kids had something else.

Mom hadn’t eaten at all that day. My uncle made her a pretty drink in a fancy glass and she began sipping it as she scurried around the kitchen.

Mom’s niece, Lore’s daughter, looked at me at one point and said, “I think your mom is tipsy.” I had never seen my mom tipsy – wasn’t even quite sure what tipsy was.

Mom always sang when cooking in the kitchen and sometimes kicked up her heels a bit with a dance step or two from years past, but that year she was singing and dancing both, across the kitchen floor as she cooked – and laughing. A lot. So were we. It was quite a raucous family sing-along.

We relieved her of cooking duty with hot things. By then, Mom didn’t much care.

After we ate, a meal she giggled through, Mom was tired and fell asleep with her glasses on – the first and only time she ever fell asleep at Thanksgiving.

We just covered Mom up on the couch in our midst. She smiled and shifted from time to time. I’m sure she could hear us because we all just continued to talk. And yes, we were bad and just might have decorated her forehead with a gift bow. I’m blaming my brother for that!

I fondly remember that quilt from her bed and that Christmas candle wreath in the window.

Mom was horribly embarrassed afterward. We teased her forever, of course. Our family was full of practical jokers and this opportunity could not be ignored. For those of you not a member of this kind of family – silence would have conferred shame, judgment and ostrification.

Singing together and Mom dancing around the kitchen is a very fond and joy-filled Thanksgiving memory for me – along with the ensuing joking and laughter for years after. It speaks to the humanness of everyone involved. Even if Mom was mortified that she had become a wee bit tipsy.

Your Legacy Stories

What fun stories come to mind that your descendants, born or not yet born, would be interested in hearing? How about nieces or nephews? What information about your life or that of your ancestors would you like to share with them? Think about how far back in time my grandparents or great-grandparents could have discussed with first-hand knowledge that was never preserved.

How about telling future generations about 2020 – you know one way or another, or maybe in multiple ways – it’s already legendary. How about sharing your perspective for posterity?

I’m positive there are heartwarming, amusing, or funny stories someplace in your family that desperately need sharing!

Don’t leave your family with a list of unanswered questions.

Give your family the gift of a family legacy story. It’s free to create and so much more personal than anything you could ever purchase – even if you could shop safely right now!

Happy holidays everyone!!

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Disclosure

I receive a small contribution when you click on some of the links to vendors in my articles. This does NOT increase the price you pay but helps me to keep the lights on and this informational blog free for everyone. Please click on the links in the articles or to the vendors below if you are purchasing products or DNA testing.

Thank you so much.

DNA Purchases and Free Transfers

Genealogy Products and Services

Genealogy Research

Books

MyHeritage + Mixtiles: Creating an Ancestor Wall

When MyHeritage introduced Mixtiles, I kind of yawned. I’m sorry, but that’s the truth. I’m not yawning anymore.

Mixtiles are photos printed on lightweight tiles that hang on your wall without nails.

Where did my skepticism come from?

  • I have no more wall space.
  • I already have photos hung.
  • I already have photos waiting to be hung that I’ve never gotten around to hanging.

When a new product emerges in this market space, in part because I write about emerging developments, and in part because I just love this community, I feel some obligation to work with new things. How else can I write about them for you if I don’t try them myself?

I’m getting ready to write an article about holiday gifts and I thought maybe I’d include Mixtiles in that article.

Scratch that.

Mixtiles deserves its own article, so here we are! Prepare to have fun. (And no, if anyone is wondering, this is not an affiliate linked product. It’s just that I love it!)

Not Yawning Anymore

So, what happened?

After pondering a bit, I realized that Mixtiles have several benefits:

  • I DON’T have printed copies of many photos that people have sent me electronically over the years and printing them would be a pain.
  • The photos I do have are mostly in black and white and often fuzzy. At MyHeritage, you can both enhance and colorize photos, separately, for free if you are a subscriber. I wrote about photo enhancement, here. If you’re not a subscriber, you can enhance/colorize a few for free and you can try a 14-day free trial subscription, here.
  • Mixtiles are all the same size, 8 by 8 inches, so it’s easy to coordinate a snazzy display.
  • Mixtiles are lightweight and adhere to the wall without nails, which is why I have an entire stack of pictures that aren’t hung already.
  • Mixtiles are less expensive than printing and framing photos – $11 each before any discounts – and there’s almost always a discount.
  • You can order Mixtiles from home and don’t have to go frame-shopping or anyplace else for that matter.
  • You can have them shipped anyplace and even include a gift note. Hello holiday shopping!!!

I realized that many of the photos I’ve received over the years are snapshot size and grainy, and I’d never frame them. I knew that MyHeritage plus Mixtiles would improve the photos, and print them, and I could have a wonderful Ancestor Wall in the stairway – something I’ve always wanted.

I had a coupon to order half a dozen. I’m embarrassed to tell you how many I ordered (28). When you place an order, you receive a welcome discount. I’ve ordered three times and the first time, the discount was about half off and the second time, 35%. The more you purchase at once, the less they cost each. I ordered three times and each time the discount was slightly less. I should have planned better – and now you can.

However, Mixtiles are only $11 to begin with (and shipping is free) so it’s easy to see another photo on your computer and think, “Oh, I’d like to add that one too.” Which is exactly how I wound up ordering 28.

Design

I decided that I wanted to colorize my photos. I realize not everyone wants to do this, and that’s fine. To me, color in their faces, even if not perfect, brings my ancestors to life. Even the first photos of me are black and white although I remember the colors of that plaid dress in the photo taken when I was about 5 at one of the department stores.

Using Powerpoint, I experimented with layouts. You probably don’t need to do this, but I did so I could share with you.

I uploaded any photos not already enhanced and colorized to MyHeritage and did both easy processes. I tagged the photos to the correct person so they are attached to my tree. Then, I substituted the enhanced/colorized photos in the layout for you to see.

Drum roll please…

What a difference enhancement and colorization made.

These are the photos that I submitted to Mixtiles, with the exception of the black and white one of my paternal grandfather in the lower right-hand corner. Mixtiles said that the original photo I wanted to use wasn’t of sufficient quality and might be blurry, so I substituted a different one.

I never saw my paternal grandparents in person – so these photos are as close as I’ll ever get.

Working with these pictures brought back such memories, in part because when possible, I selected photos of my ancestors that included me as a young child. Of course, I was too young to remember the ones with my father and grandmother.

I do remember “helping” my Mom make those matching dresses and wearing them oh so proudly. I doubt I was much help in that process, but for a 4 or 5-year-old, it was so much fun. That was my first sewing project. Until I saw this picture again, I never really realized those matching dresses all those years ago were the seed for my love of quilting today.

I have only one photo of me with my father and only a couple with my maternal grandmother. They both died when I was young and photos were rarely taken at that time. I am so pleased to be able to include them in my Ancestor Wall that I’ll be building along the stairway during the holidays.

How Does Mixtiles Work?

Here’s a short video about how you can order your Mixtiles through MyHeritage along with a blog article.

One important thing to note is that the higher scan quality of your photo, the better the end product. I was the lucky recipient of many of the photos I have today, electronically, so I can’t rescan them.

You will be provided with the opportunity to adjust and crop your photos once selected and the amount of “zooming in” that you can do is dependent on the size and quality of the photo.

You can see that the photos I selected are not the views of these photos that I ended up using after adjustment, zooming, and cropping. In one case, the photo at left, I couldn’t enlarge enough to focus in on just my grandfather, so I selected a different photo for his spot on the wall.

OK, truth be told, I ordered a Mixtile of this family photo too, after shifting it down so no one’s head is cut off – but I found a different photo to represent my grandfather in the primary layout.

I had a glitch with one photo and accidentally included it twice, in two separate orders. I noticed the problem immediately when I received the second order confirmation. Mixtiles resolved the situation immediately via email, offering to either refund the money for the one tile or to give me a free coupon code for one tile.

I’m still going to publish a gift ideas article in a few days – but today – I took a walk down memory lane and gave myself a gift – thanks to the team at MyHeritage and Mixtiles!

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I receive a small contribution when you click on some of the links to vendors in my articles. This does NOT increase the price you pay but helps me to keep the lights on and this informational blog free for everyone. Please click on the links in the articles or to the vendors below if you are purchasing products or DNA testing.

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Books

10 Ways I Wish I Had Organized My Research Library

library.png

No, I don’t quite have that many books – it just feels that way. Nor are my books that neatly organized, believe me. In fact, that’s the problem.

My organizational lament isn’t so much about the physical locations of my books, but about the organizational tools and methods of finding the correct book when I need it. I know I’m missing things in my research as a result.

Let me explain.

My bookshelves today are organized by county and state, sort of. Keep in mind that I’ve been accumulating books and resources for decades, and I’ve moved during this period, more than once.

Accumulation over time tends to outgrow the originally allotted space. And no, Marie Kondo and books should not even be in the same article. ALL of my books bring me joy – and that’s that.

However, organizing books usefully for genealogy research has been challenging. How is “usefully for genealogy research” defined? Genealogy is in some ways different than library systems and books for pleasure reading.

Let’s take a look.

My Library

To begin with, genealogists often deal with published resources that aren’t published in the traditional manner.

This is (a small) part of my area for Tennessee county records.

library spiral.png

Unfortunately, it’s difficult to shelve or even see the names of spiral bound resources. I also ran out of space, so some books are stacked on top of others. Notice how few names I can see.

library 3 ring.png

Then of course, those 3-ring binders. Real libraries don’t have to deal with 3-ring binders either, but they are an organizational staple for genealogists.

I have bookshelves, but not enough shelf space. Who does?? Some things that probably belong in spiral binders are in filing cabinets, and vice versa. I actually Marie Kondoed something and threw away the printed 1790 NC census (yes, seriously) because it’s available online in lots of places.

My shelving resources were not all created at the same time. It’s kind of like a house that has been added onto for years. I did not redo my shelving plan with each addition. I just started using the added shelf space. So some things are in separate rooms from others. These county and state resources are intermixed.

library place books.png

Another problem is that some books have information that doesn’t really “go” in any one place. For example, the Virginia records could have information for many families and counties. How do I remember to check them for each family that they might/would pertain to?

Some books are even less specific – about Native American, Acadian or Scotch-Irish people, or women of a particular genre. And what is “Lethal Encounters” about, anyway? If I take it off the shelf to look, I may get nothing else done for the rest of the day.

library leftovers.png

Now add into that mixture technical and academic papers about genetics, labels that fell off, misfiled resources (why is Tinkling Springs in with the haplogroup binders?), ebooks that I own but are not on a shelf and therefore, easy to lose or forget about, papers on my computer along with physical overflow – and I’m sunk.

Yes, ahem, I do have two copies of the same book in those pictures. I just noticed. Another reason why I need a better system and to check it before I make purchases.

I know I should be embarrassed to even publish these pictures – but it’s the truth and I’d wager every one of you has something similar.

And I haven’t even gotten to that thing called pleasure reading. Those books are overflowing off of a different shelf in another room with little organization other than by general topic. For the most part, I haven’t touched them with the exception of historical stories, including novels, especially juicy ones. My pleasure reading tends to be something about my ancestors or genetics although I have a shelf full of good intentions.

My Solution

Several years ago, I paid one of my college-student offspring to help me set up a spreadsheet to track my holdings. You can use Excel in MSWord or if you have a Google account, Sheets is free under Google Docs.

Library Docs.png

Library Sheets.png

That student-labor approach worked great for a while, at least until said child no longer needed extra income. The project wasn’t complete, and I didn’t complete or continue the project myself. My bad. I’d rather work on genealogy, genetics or write blog articles.

Library spreadsheet.png

As you can see, this spreadsheet is a good start. Because it’s in spreadsheet format, it’s sortable. This helps immensely, but I’ve discovered it’s not enough.

What I Wish I Had Done

  1. I actually wish I had numbered the books and numbered the shelves too. In essence, similar to a library system, just not as complex. Then the books could be assigned to a shelf and I would know where to look for them. You might notice that I have a general location, but nothing more. If I knew where to look, even if the book was spiral bound, I’d see that in a note, know what I was looking for, and find the location between the shelf number and county affiliation or topic.
  2. I wish I had added a column for geography, probably counties, that the resource pertains to. I could add several in one cell, but that means I’d have to search, not sort, for the county name, like Wilkes, North Carolina. The state would need to be a second column, because county names repeat between states.
  3. Another alternative, of course, would be to work with a database instead of a spreadsheet because databases allow multiple entries for a single field. I could have Wilkes, Ashe, Surry and several more counties and states for a single book. In a different spreadsheet for another topic, I entered a duplicate row for each separate resource. In this case, I would have the book entered once for Wilkes County and once for Ashe County, which negates the need for a database in a bit of a clunky way.
  4. I wish I had added a column for the surname lines that each resource would or might pertain to in my genealogy. For example, I have several surnames in the same county, because that’s what happens when your ancestors stay in the same place for a few generations. When I discover a new surname, or need to recheck something, I need to be able to find the resources that are available for that location, and then add the new surname to all books that could be useful for that ancestral line.
  5. I wish I had added a column to track which resources I’ve used for a particular surname and person. For example, did I search in the 1787 Lunenburg County census for all of the surnames and people, or do I need to review that resources for people I’ve found more recently?
  6. I wish I had recorded when I added that resource to my library which might help me remember who I have and have not used it for.
  7. I have not added any resources that I don’t own, but that are available for counties elsewhere. I use FamilySearch and FamilySearch wiki for county information, but it’s not complete. Generally, it also doesn’t list more general resources that might pertain to that county. For example, I just discovered transcribed court notes for Wilkes County on Lulu.com. Now I need to search at Lulu for all of the rest of my research counties and surnames. Who knew?
  8. I wish I had made notes. For example, what exactly is “The 10,000 Year Explosion” about, and how might it pertain to my research, either genealogy or anthropological? I don’t remember if I read it.
  9. I need to add a disposition (de-accessioning) field. Yes, although the thought is traumatizing for me, I will be passing some books on before I pass on, hopefully, and have already begun that process. I need to know when the books left and who they are now living with. Having said that, it might be nice to note where I got the book in the first place and how much it cost. I do have a few rare books and some that are first edition signed collectors’ items. I fear those being sold at a garage sale after my death for a dime. (I think I might have an unnatural attachment to my books😊)
  10. The ever-changing DNA testing landscape and multiple (kinds of) tests providing DNA matches from multiple vendors needs to be recorded, somehow, as a resource too. For example, did I search for a Y DNA tester for my John Combs (1705-1762) line? If so, are they in the Combs surname project at Family Tree DNA? Did I send an Ancestry or MyHeritage message to someone to see if they would take a DNA test, or about their results? Have I used DNAGedcom.com to search for specific target surnames in my match list or GeneticAffairs to look for ancestral clusters? You get the idea.

DNA is a resource by line, surname, individual ancestor, both known and unknown, as well as location because sometimes that’s all we have to work with. I actually have two separate spreadsheets for DNA which I’ll share in a separate article – but DNA results are also a research resource that needs to be tracked along with various tools applied, and when.

What Have You Done?

Have you addressed this research organization problem, and if so, how?

What resources are you using?

What works for you, what didn’t, and why?

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Pandemic Journal: The Influence of the Great Depression and How It’s Saving Us Right Now

The metamorphosis is now complete. I swear, I’ve now officially become my mother.

Mom doesn’t just “come out of my mouth” on occasion. No, I’ve become her – well except that I’ll never fit into her literal clothes. In spite of the fact that fudge was mother’s favorite food and she believed religiously in first, second and third dessert, she was rail thin. How is this fair?

My mother was a child of the “Great Depression,” except the only thing “great” about the Depression was its decade-long duration. Beginning with a stock market plummet in October of 1929, drought followed in 1930 throughout the agricultural heartland of America. Investors lost everything, jobs disappeared, farms were repossessed, banks failed and closed and people were terrified, with reason.

Depression migrant woman.jpg

This iconic 1936 photo taken by Dorothea Lange titled Migrant Mother shows a destitute pea picker in California. Florence Owens Thompson, age 32, mother of 7, hungry, dirty and not knowing where their next meal would come from represented the greatest fear that haunted all Americans. For many, it wasn’t just a fear, it was all too real.

The economic downturn which became the Depression began in the US, eventually encircling the globe. The Depression didn’t ease until the late 1930s and then was promptly followed by WWII which ushered in a slew of deprivations of its own including rationing.

1943 rationing poster

Mother was born in 1922 in a crossroads town in northern Indiana. She was all of 7 years old when the Depression hit. She, of course, couldn’t and wouldn’t understand all of the underpinnings. What she was acutely aware of was that her father lost the hardware business, her mother’s job, such as it was, was the only thing that stood between her family and abject poverty. Income was critically affected, almost non-existent, without enough for even essentials. Mom’s maternal grandmother, Eva Miller Ferverda, loaned her son, John Ferverda, money and forgave the debt upon her death in 1939.

To make matters worse, mother was critically in during that time with Rheumatic Fever. Her father and grandmother cared for her while her mother worked. There was just no other choice.

Money was tight, very tight – but unlike so many others, they did not lose their home, thanks primarily to Mom’s paternal grandmother. Mom and her parents didn’t live on a farm, but on the very edge of a small town, not even large enough for a stop light. The town stretched a couple blocks in either direction from the main crossroads of two state highways. Businesses consisted of my grandfather’s hardware store, before that business closed, and the Ford dealership which sold both vehicles and tractors. Mom’s father, John Ferverda, worked there after he lost the hardware store, until there were no sales so no need for a salesman.

I don’t think mother realized how much the Depression influenced her childhood and formed many of her personality traits. In turn, she passed them on to me – although I’ve struggled to break some of those ingrained habits for years. This past month, or really just the past couple of weeks, they’ve come roaring back with a vengeance – apparently having been lurking just below the surface.

Some of these “quirky behaviors” are actually quite useful. Others make me smile with nearly-forgotten memories. Perhaps you carry some of these hidden depression-era traits too.

Before Recycling Was a Thing

In the 1930s, there wasn’t “disposable” anything. Throwing something away was simply wasteful, heresy, and it was never, ever done – not until its original purpose and a few repurposed lives had been completed and there was literally, nothing left at all that was salvageable. Then, and only then, could it be thrown away. By then, “it” was unrecognizable.

Let’s take bread wrappers, for example – the disposable plastic bread bags that we take for granted today, throwing them away without even thinking, although I always have a twinge of guilt. That never happened at my house when I was growing up. We routinely saved plastic bread bags and reused them for storage.

When we had too many, Mom would crochet them into a rug to pad the floor standing at the kitchen sink or the ironing board. One year, Mom even found a pattern to crochet a Christmas wreath from bread bags. I kid you not.

This recycling before that word was even invented was normal in our house.

We seldom got new clothes. Most of our clothes were hand-me-downs from either someone directly or a second-hand store of some sort. Being gifted with new old clothes was wonderful and nothing to be ashamed of! After we initially acquired the clothes, they were “taken in” or “let out” to fit a child as they grew or were passed to another child in the family. The sign of a great piece of clothing was a HUGE SEAM ALLOWANCE.

When grocery items began to be sold in glass jars, those were never thrown away either. Jars sufficed for everything. In fact, I still have a glass jar upstairs with “old silverware” in it that belonged to Mom, and perhaps to her mother too. You never threw anything away because not only was it wasteful and irresponsible, you truly never knew when you or someone else would need that item. During the Depression, and after, you simply found a way to make do with what you had.

During that time, chickens, wild berry bushes and a large vegetable garden saved the family. Mother cleaned the chickens that were butchered and sold. She was paid a nickel for each clean chicken. For the entire rest of her life, she pretty much hated chicken, except for fried chicken, and she utterly despised cleaning the chicken. I think she viewed them as her murdered friends and not a commodity food source. I inherited that soft-hearted worldview too.

However, during the Depression, you ate whatever you were fortunate enough to have. Period. There was no expectation that you would actually LIKE what was served – that was a benefit. Today when I see kids refusing to eat something, I think to myself, “you have never truly been hungry.” That’s the blessing of course, as is having food at all.

At home, after clothes could no longer be salvaged and made into anything else, they were deposited into the “rag bag,” a coarse brown bag fashioned from rough upholstery material salvaged from an old couch. The rag bag hung on a hook on a door in the closet that led to the attic. Rags were quite useful – for cleaning, for turbans around your hair from time to time – and also to crochet into rugs. Yes, Mom made just about everything into rugs. It was the last salvage of the nearly unsalvageable.

If there was any cotton fabric in the rag bag that wasn’t entirely threadbare and had any color left in the fibers at all, it was a candidate to be used in a quilt. You could always tell the quilts from wealthier, meaning not poor, families because their quilts were actually planned with matching fabrics. Not ours. We had scrap quilts, made by patching things together, which I always loved and continue to love to this day. Scrap quilts are a storybook of history and we always talked about the “life story” of the piece of fabric we were sewing – the pieces of clothing the fabric used to be, who wore it, how it wound up in the rag bag and so forth. Some of those fabrics were decades and literally generations old. How I wish I had written those stories down – but they didn’t seem remarkable at the time. Everyone had a rag bag. We were just making small talk, after all.

Handkerchief quilt.jpg

This quilt, made originally during the Depression by my great-grandmother, Nora Kirsch, used on my grandmother and then mother’s bed, has been patched now using my grandmother’s handkerchiefs. It had literal holes, but the thought of cutting that quilt traumatized my kids, so like my ancestors, I found a way to preserve it, one more time. By the time one of my granddaughters inherits it, such as it is, it will be connected through 6 generations over more than a century.

Depression Culture

The Depression wasn’t just a defining event, it formed the culture in which my mother grew up. Frugality was ingrained by some combination of fear and guilt-induced obligation.

Eventually, I inherited the rag bag and used the items in that bag, along with the rag rugs, the bread bag Christmas wreath which eventually deteriorated and fell apart, along with decades worth of glass jars and things too “good” to throw away or pass on to someone else just yet. Of course, part of the “problem” was that as the economy improved, the need to obtain hand-me-down items from someone else to “set up housekeeping” was greatly diminished. Looking back, I’m not convinced that was a good thing, because I still have items from my mother and grandmother’s houses gifted to me when I moved to my first apartment. They aren’t “used,” simply accepted as second rate undesirables, but were and are cherished treasures infused with memories of a time, place and people long gone now.

You can take the child out of the Depression, but you can never take the Depression out of the child.

Those behaviors become generational. If you are the child of someone who lived through the Depression, I’m sure you have stories of your own just like these.

And just like me, those legendary stories might all have come rushing back during these past couple of weeks.

I used to think to myself when Mom did one of her “Depression Era” things that I understood. While I understood the genesis of the behavior, never until these past few weeks did I understand the fear that accompanied the scarcity and subsequent rationing that occurred during WWII.

The Depression hit Mom’s family with the same suddenness that the pandemic has struck our generation. We don’t know, as they didn’t know, what’s coming. How bad is bad? What businesses will be left? What will happen to all of those people? Can we hold on? For how long? How will we eat?

And what about toilet paper?

Toilet Paper

Toilet paper at that time consisted of the Sears catalog located strategically in the outhouse. I’m beginning to size up the different kinds of junk mail for “texture.” Obviously, something glossy isn’t good and neither is stiff and crunchy. Thank goodness I saved those old phone books – they look just about right! Mother would be proud!

Just 14 weeks ago, when this pandemic was still an illness in China that no one had heard about anyplace else in the world, my husband and I were leaving for a trip to Australia and New Zealand in the midst of their searing heat and bush fires. We purchased and took 4 boxes of face masks with us to protect ourselves from the smoke. We opened one box and put a couple of masks in our backpacks, but we never used any of them. I wanted to bring the masks home, because I am my mother’s daughter and we might need them someday.

However, I had purchased fabric and my bag was both full and heavy. My husband convinced me to leave the masks in the cabin. I told myself that the crew might need them to protect themselves from the bush fire smoke. I certainly hope someone got some use out of them and they didn’t just get thrown away. It pains me to even think about that – especially NOW that I desperately want those face masks.

Do you know how valuable 4 boxes of face masks would be? Not just monetarily, but for the medical professionals and others. It’s amazing now how valuable TP and face masks have become. We would have been RICH!

Mom’s vindicated. I’m vindicated. My husband is wearing a cloth mask instead of a stylish blue paper mask that we left behind😊 – and hopefully a crew member someplace is safer for those masks.

Ironically, I’m not sweating TP, because as a result of being raised by a Depression Era mother, I have years worth of lone socks that, in a pinch, will suffice as TP sock-mits. Just wipe and deposit in the washing machine. And NO, you cannot JUST THROW THEM AWAY, because you have no idea how long you might need them.

Before saying “ewwww” too loudly, remember when we used cloth diapers on babies because pampers didn’t yet exist? We washed those diapers every day and thought nothing of it.

I’ve also stopped using paper towels because who knows how long they will be manufactured. We might need paper towels for TP, you know, before we break out those orphan socks that I knew, just knew, I’d find a use for eventually if I just kept them long enough.

Soon enough, lone stray socks will be just as valuable as TP. Find yours now wherever they’ve been congregating for years, waiting for their new purpose in life redeployed as TP sock-warriors.

It’s All a Matter of Perspective

I’ve been sorting through things in the closets and put several items with rips in a bag in the laundry room already, but I’m trying NOT to call it a rag bag. I may last another day or two before I give in on that one.

Of course, jeans with rips are quite popular right now, so I’m wearing those again and am now quite the fashionista:) I even patched one of the jeans, strategically, with matching fabric from a face mask. A coordinated pandemic outfit! Everyone is going to want one!

Not only that, but I’ve sewn phone pockets onto my PJs and leggings. I’m referring to them as holsters for face-mask sewing warriors instead of PJ pockets. It’s all in perspective and marketing, right???

Phone Holster.jpg

Mother and grandmother would BOTH be so proud, I’m telling you.

But that’s not all…

Food

Another thing that has changed immensely in the last month is food.

Everyone likes to eat. My grandmother worked first for a chicken hatchery and then for the welfare office. In both cases, unlike other women of her era, she was not “at home” to cook, so she relied heavily on meals she would either make in advance or quickly in the evening.

I’m not quite sure why my grandfather didn’t cook when he wasn’t working during the Depression, but he didn’t and neither did my uncle. Back then, cooking was probably considered woman’s work. Mom began cooking as soon as she could reach the stove even though she was the youngest family member.

All things considered, it’s no wonder my grandmother was perpetually exasperated. Her husband lost the hardware store through no fault of his own, they were in debt, he next lost a sales job at the Ford dealership. She worked to support the entire family, AND performed all of the traditional “woman’s work” too.

No wonder she was chronically unhappy. While it wasn’t anyone’s “fault,” per se, it was still a fact that these unfortunate events had happened and for a decade, followed by a war, there was no way out except for sheer perseverance. That economic situation lasted for 15 or 16 years in total, almost a full generation – by which time my mother was grown, married and my brother had been born.

depression cookbook.jpg

One of the favorite things that churchwomen did to liven up mealtime and to raise money for the church and charities was to publish a church cookbook.

Depression cookbook church.jpg

True to form, the Methodist Church where my grandparents lived published a book in 1953 or 1954, and my grandmother is represented.

Depression fudge.jpg

I think I might have found the source of my Mom’s favorite fudge!

Unlike the other women who contributed their “best recipe,” probably determined by how quickly it disappeared at pot-lucks or funeral lunches at the church – my grandmother’s recipe was how to make something called “Master Mix.”

Depression master mix

click recipe pages to enlarge

Think of this as an early form of Bisquick which you made up in advance, dry, and used it as the base to make several dishes such as cookies, dumplings, pudding, griddle cakes and waffles.

Depression master mix 2.jpg

All of a sudden, we too are suddenly stuck at home, without necessarily ready access to a grocery store – and if we can visit, they may likely be out of a large number of items.

We’re consigned to a type of “food challenge” which could reasonably be called Pandemic Cooking. You use whatever you have available, forgotten in the far corners of your pantry, and find some way to create something that results in an edible dish.

Everyone is getting quite creative.

I though it would be interesting to take a look at that cookbook published before I was born to see what my grandmother contributed. Hey, maybe something looks good. That cookbook was published before the days of exact measurements, which lends itself very well to “make do” cooking.

Next, I checked Mom’s recipe box where I knew goodies lurked.

Mom’s Recipe Box

Like all women of Mom’s generation, she had a recipe box that was a virtual goldmine of wonderful comfort-food with many recipes, finally committed to cards, that had been passed down for generations. Most of the time, Mom didn’t even have to look at the recipe when making our favorite dishes. Both of us knew that fudge recipe by heart, I guarantee.

There are references throughout my mother’s recipe box to a “pinch of” something and instructions to work the dough “until it feels right.” I learned to cook this way and always have – much to Jim’s chagrin.

“How much of that did you put in?”

“I don’t know, enough but not too much. Till it looks right.”

Yep, I’m my mother’s daughter alright.

The transition to mother’s double seems to be complete, because I pulled a spaghetti sauce jar out of the trash earlier this week and washed it, thinking “we might need this.” You never know what might happen and how long the ramifications of the pandemic might last. Who knows, spaghetti jars might be just as valuable for barter as TP one day.

The good news is that there’s only one bread bag in the house right now, and it’s holding bread. At least presently. Plus, I can’t crochet. There’s that. Don’t ask how I know, but you can’t use bread bags in quilts. (If you figure out how, please, just don’t tell me – OK?!)

I am however, jealously saving even the smallest scraps of fabric from making protective facial masks for medical workers because I might need those remnants for a scrap quilt.

Now, if I can just find the lids to all of the orphan Tupperware, or is that too much to ask?

Throwback Cooking and You!

You’re probably finding yourself in the process of attempting to cook with whatever you have on hand too. You may discover items in the back of the pantry that are older than your children.

Mom, like her mother, worked her entire life – so her recipe box also contained a plethora of yummy recipes, many of which were also quick. Most of Mom’s recipes, however, cater to her sweet tooth. It wasn’t until I was digitizing and creating an index that I realized that the recipes for chocolate and sweets far, far outnumbered everything else – put together.

Don’t believe me – check it out for yourself by clicking on the link below to download a cookbook of sorts that I created from Mom’s Recipe Box. Please download and enjoy.

Mother’s Recipe Box

A few years ago, for a family Christmas gift, I scanned the recipes in Mom’s recipe box. Perhaps you’ll find some new recipes to try, or a dish that perhaps you’ll recognize from a long-ago church carry-in.

If you’re lucky, maybe you’ll find some comfort food from your childhood that you’ve forgotten about and you’ll have almost everything to make it!

Or, try Mom’s fudge!

Let me know if you find something fun here, or share a story.

By the time we exit out the other side of this pandemic, we’ll be cooking like our mothers and grandmothers, using whatever is on hand, not following any recipe exactly and “seasoning to taste.” 😊

Maybe this is a good time to scan your family recipes and document your memories. Seeing your ancestor’s handwriting and connecting with them as they survived trying times might just help you feel better.

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Disclosure

I receive a small contribution when you click on some of the links to vendors in my articles. This does NOT increase the price you pay but helps me to keep the lights on and this informational blog free for everyone. Please click on the links in the articles or to the vendors below if you are purchasing products or DNA testing.

Thank you so much.

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OMG, Mary Tan Hai is Found – 52 Ancestors #275

Late last night, the son of my mother’s dance partner, Mary Tan Hai, reached out to me after googling his mother’s name during the time she danced in Chicago and found my 52 ancestors article about Mary and mother dancing together during WWII.

Except, her name really wasn’t Mary Tan Hai. It was changed from something I never knew until last night to protect her from being sent to a concentration camp during the war.

If you recall, I wrote about my mother’s professional ballet and tap dancing career during WWII, here. Mother’s dance troupe partner and good friend, Mary, was Japanese. Her family was interred in the Japanese Detention Camps here in the US. Mary couldn’t communicate with them or her Japanese identity would be discovered and she would be sent away too.

In order to protect Mary, they changed her name and the dancers protected her within the troupe. Mary “became” Chinese. There was no record in the troupe of her Japanese origins, just in case. I don’t know if mother ever knew Mary’s true name.

My mother was born in 1922. After Mom’s fiancé was killed in action, she left the troupe and eventually lost track of Mary, but never forgot her best friend and roommate. She talked about Mary and wondered what happened to her. I presumed when I wrote the article about Mom’s dancing career that Mary had long-ago passed. I searched, but I couldn’t find anything about Mary Tan Hai anyplace. Now I know that’s because that wasn’t her real name.

I was wrong. Mary wasn’t deceased.

Mary’s family is “gathered round her”, her son wrote me last night, as she prepares to pass over. Mary and Mom will reunite soon. Oh, the stories they’ll have to tell. The hugs they’ll share!

Even though I’m at RootsTech today, I quickly found a table on the Expo Hall floor, downloaded the photos from my own blog to my laptop, colorized the photos at MyHeritage, downloaded them and mailed the newly-alive colorized photos to Mary’s son.

A few hour later, I receive a lovely gift in return that I never imagined. Mary, as it turned out, had a photo album with pictures of mother I had never seen. I am forever grateful. After I sort through what I received, I’ll be publishing that information soon.

I’m so glad to know that Mary married, to a serviceman it turned out, had a family and a long, wonderful life. Perhaps Mary can still enjoy these photos, and if not, I know, based on the thank you note that her family is.

Thank you so much MyHeritage for providing this AMAZING tool to allow us to connect and share and remember. For everyone who is interested in colorizing photos, the first 10 are free for people without a MyHeritage subscription, and unlimited free colorization of photos if you do have a subscription. I’ve provided instructions here.

Now, take a look at these beautiful colorized photos!

Mother, Mary Tan Hai and troope

Mother is middle row right. Mary is back row right, just above Mom.

Mother, Mary Tan Hai and troope colorized

Mother and Mary Tan Hai

Mother and Mary Tan Hai colorized

Mary Tan Hai

Mary Tan Hai colorized

Mary Tan Hai gazebo

Mary Tan Hai gazebo colorized

Mother, Mary Tan Hai lawn

Mother, Mary Tan Hai lawn colorized

Mary Tan Hai well

Mary Tan Hai well colorized

Mom, Mary Tan Hai peeking

Mom, Mary Tan Hai peeking colorized

Update: Mary’s beautiful obituary can be found here. Thank you to her family for the notification.

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Disclosure

I receive a small contribution when you click on some of the links to vendors in my articles. This does NOT increase the price you pay but helps me to keep the lights on and this informational blog free for everyone. Please click on the links in the articles or to the vendors below if you are purchasing products or DNA testing.

Thank you so much.

DNA Purchases and Free Transfers

Genealogy Products and Services

Genealogy Research

Fun DNA Stuff

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MyHeritage In Color – Just in Time for Valentine’s Day Gifting

Be still my heart.

MyHeritage just introduced a new tool to colorize black and white photos. You can colorize several photos for free, but you’ll be promoted to either sign in to your account or sign up for a free account.

Their blog article explaining the details is here.

If you are a MyHeritage subscriber with photos attached to your tree already, you can sign in, click on Family Tree, then on Photos. Your photos will display. You can then click on any photo, or enter the “colorize photos” function directly.

color toolbar

As a subscriber any photos you colorize will automatically be stored here for you.

I just clicked on a photo to select it, then on the colorize button.

Color account.png

When you click to colorize the displayed black and white photo, your original will remain unchanged.

Color half and half.png

This is my mother and the colorized version looks very much like her in life. Just kind of took my breath away. What a difference.

Color Mom.png

If you’re not a MyHeritage subscriber and want to try for free, or want to jump right in, the direct link to colorize a photo is here.

This is SOOOO easy.

color target

Just upload or drag and drop the photo onto the target area of the page, and that’s IT.

CAUTION – DO NOT OVERWRITE THE ORIGINAL PICTURE ON YOUR SYSTEM WHEN DOWNLOADING AND SAVING THE COLORIZED VERSION.

Color graduation black and white.png

Then…..it’s just a few second as you wait for your photo to come to life.

Either move the line with the slider arrows or click on the color icon in the top right of the photo.

Color graduation half.png

Are you ready? Pull back the curtain!

color graduation.png

You can click right beside the photo to share.

Color share.png

Of course, I posted this to Facebook and tagged my family members. They knew my Mom and will enjoy this immensely, I’m sure.

Valentine’s Day

It’s two days before Valentine’s Day. Just think what you can do!

How about colorizing a “first baby photo” of a family member with their mother?

Color baby black and white.png

Home from the hospital. This photo was taken to send to Dad in service.

color baby.png

How sweet is this? A first time Mom and her baby boy.

color wedding black and white.png

Now fast forward in time 18 years.

color wedding half.png

color wedding.png

That’s baby boy’s wedding. Perfect for Valentine’s Day. Even black and white that’s supposed to be “black and white” looks much improved with skin tones.

But there could be more.

Color grandpa black and white.png

Color grandpa.png

How about that baby boy’s grandfather.

color mom dancing black and white.png

Color mom dancing.png

And his Mom’s dancing photos!

color christmas black and white.png

color christmas.png

Here he is at Christmas, on the far right. I’m the baby😊 Who knew my dress was that pretty? My brother is giving me the side eye, but nothing like my cousin on the left who seems thoroughly disgusted with the entire picture taking thing.

color Lazarus black and white.png

color lazarus.png

Or how about ancestors who were born in 1847 and 1848! His hair is kind of wild and no, I have no idea what that is on or by his nose. Maybe a flaw in the photo?

color laz black and white older.png

color laz older.png

Here’s the same couple, a couple decades older. They died more than a hundred years ago, yet we can see them in loving, er, I mean living color, today.

Their son was a photographer, traveling to family reunions to take pictures, so I’m guessing that these photos were taken between 1895, or so, when the son would have become an adult, and 1918 when both ancestors passed away, just a few months apart. Wouldn’t he be amazed today!

color laz on chair

Lazarus Estes (1848-1918) and Elizabeth Vannoy (1847-1918)

Look, you can even see the dirt on his work pants. It looks like you could just reach out and touch these people.

The opportunities are endless and the results are AMAZING.

I may never get anything else done.

What series of photos can you bring to life and create a colored collage through time? What a great gift, if not for someone else, for yourself.

Try it out!

Thank you, thank you, MyHeritage!!!!!!

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Disclosure

I receive a small contribution when you click on some of the links to vendors in my articles. This does NOT increase the price you pay but helps me to keep the lights on and this informational blog free for everyone. Please click on the links in the articles or to the vendors below if you are purchasing products or DNA testing.

Thank you so much.

DNA Purchases and Free Transfers

Genealogy Products and Services

Genealogy Research

Fun DNA Stuff

  • Celebrate DNA – customized DNA themed t-shirts, bags and other items

May Your Holidays Be Filled with Light and Love

Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Solstice, whatever you celebrate, here’s wishing you the very best.

Christmas lights.jpg

May the joy of the season lift your spirits.

Kwanzaa.jpg

May you find and celebrate your roots.

Hanukkah.jpg

May you illuminate the souls of others.

Stonehenge.jpg

May you rejoice in the timeless beauty of Nature.

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May you journey under the hand of Divine protection.

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May you always find light to guide your way home in the darkest hour.

Children at Christmas.jpg

May you be blessed with memories to sustain you all the days of your life.

Light and Love.jpg

May your heart be filled with light, peace and love.