Friday, January 20, 2017

Family Recipe Friday - Spritz Cookies

On New Year's Eve Day Donald and I had lunch with my stepmother at the home she shared with my father before he died in 2005. Some of you may remember that we spent two very full days there in September of 2015 finding amazing photos, family keepsakes, etc.

I'd had this nagging feeling ever since that I didn't take a close enough look at the cookbook section of Dad's library and might have missed some of my grandmother's recipes, so I was very happy to discover that almost nothing had been touched since our last visit. After lunch I headed down there and found that I was right!

These are the cookbooks that I brought home. One is a Swedish cookbook, apparently a gift from my great-aunt Anna to my grandmother, that had three distinctly different recipes for Swedish rye bread on index cards paper-clipped to the back cover. Some of the others are church cookbooks, most of which contain recipes supplied by family and family friends. One is from 1932 and another had additional recipes written in blank spaces in my grandmother's handwriting.

This cookbook, from my grandparents church in Middletown, CT, begins with a history of the church, which was a nice score. It also contains two cookie recipes that my grandmother submitted. I decided to make the Spritz cookies last weekend.  Although I had a few issues with our cookie press (an ancient, as seen on TV, Super Shooter) they were as good as I remembered, like taking a trip down memory lane.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Evaluating Records - GPS Study Group Chapter 3

Genealogical Proof Standard Study Group

Chapter Three – Evaluating Records
Anna Matthews

Christine Rose, Genealogical Proof Standard: Building a Solid Case, 4th Edition Revised. San Jose, California: CR Publications, 2014.

"The Immigrants", Sculptor Luis Sanguino
Castle Garden, NYC

A couple trying to hide the pre-marriage conception of their first child, a neighbor supplying your ancestor's census information to a tired enumerator, a child supplying information about grandparents they never met for their mother's death certificate; these are just some of circumstances that could affect the accuracy of information we seek. Knowing your record set, why it was created and under what circumstances will help with those evaluations.

Although I know now that ship's records and citizenship applications are the best places to look for information about ancestors' immigration and citizenship, census records were the first documentation I found (or Ancestry found for me) that contained immigration and citizenship information for my Anderson great-grandparents. Although I have better sources for this information now, conflicting information still needs to be addressed, so understanding census records will be important to my conclusions.

Carl Johan Anderson
1900 - Name: Chas, Born June 1865, Immigrated 1888, Naturalized
1910 - Name: Carl J., 44 years old, Immigrated 1891, Naturalized
1920 - Name: Carl, 54 years old, Immigrated 1895, Naturalized
1930 - Name: Carl J., 63 years old, Immigrated 1888, Naturalized

Mathilda Alfina Anderson
1900 - Name: Alfina, Born Mar 1868, Immigration year blank, Naturalization status blank
1910 - Name: Alfina, 42 years old, Immigrated 1893, Naturalization status blank
1920 - Name: Matilda, 52 years old, Immigrated 1895, Naturalized
1930 - Name: Matilda A., 62 years old, Immigrated 1890, Naturalized

My census experience is distinctly different from that of my ancestors. I received a form in the mail, completed and returned it to the census bureau but my ancestors may or may not have been the informants of their own record. My form was in my mother tongue, but my ancestors were answering questions in their second language. I could answer questions at my leisure but my ancestors may have been rushed by a busy enumerator or interrupted while preparing for dinner, dealing with children or any number of possible distractions. These are some of the things to keep in mind when evaluating census information.  Just this week I was reminded while watching one of Christa Cowan's videos for Ancestry that an enumerator may have recorded information obtained from neighbors if the family they were looking for wasn't home. Of the records available for research only the 1940 census indicates the informant, and even then, not in every case.

Although these census records are a primary source offering direct evidence, the fact that we cannot determine the informant makes the information indeterminable and weakens any case we would make using them alone to answer questions of immigration years and citizenship. I do have more information available to me consider in my conclusion, but I'll share that in another post.

Even a good understanding of our records and informants is not always enough for us to reach a solid conclusion, but whatever conclusion we come to can be recorded. We can then keep searching for records or set aside the question for another time, because there is always another ancestor to be researched.


1900 US Census, Manchester, Hartford County, Connecticut; population schedule p. 22B, dwelling 383/family 433, Chas Anderson, Alfina Anderson; digital image, ( accessed 15 Jan 2017); citing National Archive microfilm publication T623,18, roll 138; imaged from FHL microfilm 1,240.138.

1910 US Census, Manchester, Hartford County, Connecticut; population schedule p. 14B, dwelling 272/family 294, Carl J Anderson, Alfina Anderson; digital image, ( accessed 15 Jan 2017); citing National Archive microfilm publication T624, roll T624_131; imaged from FHL microfilm 1,374,144.

1920 US Census, Manchester, Hartford County, Connecticut; population schedule p. 4B, dwelling 65/family 96, Carl Anderson, Matilda Anderson; digital image, ( accessed 15 Jan 2017); citing National Archive microfilm publication T623, roll 625_181.

1931 US Census, Manchester, Hartford County, Connecticut; population schedule p. 17A, dwelling 244/family 358, Carl J. Anderson, Matilda A. Anderson; digital image, ( accessed 15 Jan 2017); citing National Archive microfilm publication T626, roll 267; imaged from FHL microfilm 2,340,002.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Photo Friday - A Photo Restoration Shoutout

I can't remember when my mother gave me this photo of our ancestors; my 2nd great-grandmother Elizabeth Nimmo and her children including my great-grandfather, James Louden Dean, seated next to her at the viewer's right.

It is a wonderful photo but has obvious condition issues; fading, spots and what looks like mold scars. I decided a few months ago that I wanted to have the image restored and have a print framed for my mother for Christmas.

Last year, Michelle Ganus Taggert of A Southern Sleuth blogged about a photo restoration that was done for her by Miles at 399Retouch. He had done such a masterful job restoring the face of Michelle's 2nd great grandmother that I decided to send them my photo.  Below is the amazing result.

Back Row L-R: Robert Irwin Dean, Margaret or Elizabeth Dean, Anna Mina Dean
Front Row L-R: Margaret or Elizabeth Dean, Elizabeth Nimmo, James Louden Dean 

My ancestors the way they were meant to be seen! I can almost feel the fabric and the weight of their clothes, the fringe on the chair and hear the rustle of their skirts.

With just a few clicks and a quick pick-up I had two 8x10 prints made through Snapfish, bought some suitable frames, and now Mum and I each have a copy of this restored photo hanging in our homes.

I highly recommend 399Retouch and can't wait to share this photo with cousins at the family reunion coming up in August. Maybe we'll even be able to figure out which sister is Margaret and which is Elizabeth.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Building a Solid Case - GPS Study Group Chapter 2

Genealogical Proof Standard Study Group

Chapter Two – Building a Solid Case
Anna Matthews

Christine Rose, Genealogical Proof Standard: Building a Solid Case, 4th Edition Revised. San Jose, California: CR Publications, 2014.

Due to ongoing issues within Google, today's study group has been moved. Please go to DearMYRTLE's blog post for the links. If information is available about a replay after the webinar, I'll post it here.

Chapter 2, Building a Solid Case deals with when to apply the GPS.  Three scenarios are presented, the second of which deals in part with conflicting evidence and seeking every piece of evidence which could resolve the conflict.

I haven't done much research offline so far, due mainly to constraints of time and budget, so I don't have a lot of conflicting information in my research. There are some age discrepancies and immigration year discrepancies and citizenship discrepancies, but almost all are from census records which I don't, in general, consider a very reliable source for those facts.

The example I chose to blog about today was one of the first times a discovery caught me by surprise because it was different from what I thought I knew.

This obituary is for my 2nd great-grandmother, Mary Ann Codner Smith, which contains a few pieces of misinformation.

1. Her name. Her initials should be Mary A. C. Smith or Mary A. Codner Smith as her name was Mary Ann. This I know from family lore, a family Bible and her marriage notice.

2. The occupation of her son George R. which is mentioned at the end of the article. George R. Smith was my great-grandfather and he did hold office, but he was a member of the Quebec Legislative Council, not the Canadian Parliament. This I know from multiple sources.

3. Mary Ann's place of death. The obituary (for which I have no publication name or date) states that she died at the home of her daughter, Mrs. James M. Fisk, in Newark, NJ. When I first received this clipping, I had no reason to believe Mary Ann died anywhere other than her daughter Charlotte's home. Mary Ann and her husband Benjamin had lived in Newark since at least 1860 according to the family and census records and Benjamin had died six years earlier, so Newark as a place of death made perfect sense. Obviously, more than an obituary would have been needed to try to verify that information, but it wasn't something in my immediate research plans, when....

this death certificate popped up as a hint on when Pennsylvania death certificates were added to their database and indexed. (Ancestry hints can be frustrating sometimes, but I don't know if I'd have ever thought to look in PA for Mary Ann's death record.)

At first I was ready to dismiss it out of hand as a bad match since I was still a relatively new researcher then, but something told me to give the record a better look and I realized that there was a chance the decedent was my Mary Ann. I didn't add the record to my tree, however. Even with no knowledge of the GPS or any genealogy standards, I decided I didn't know enough to be sure and put it in what Ancestry calls the shoebox and forgot all about it until I was considering this post.

So, what next? After last week's post about this study group, one of the panelists, Kate Challis, read and commented on my post, specifically my statement that records should be analyzed when you have done your reasonably exhaustive search. She reminded me that this is not a linear process, we don't - generally - go out in search of documents from a checklist and analyze the information once we have checked the last box. Thoughtful analysis of each document as we find them is important to better research and to staying organized.

Taking a closer look at this death certificate, I see that the dates of birth and death are a match to my Mary Ann. Also, this Mary had only lived at her current address for 8 months, 20 days, previously residing in Newark and her body was being removed to Newark, N.J. The informant, a vital piece of information to consider, appears to be one of her sons, Wm (William) Smith.  But there is some conflicting information, other than the place of death. My Mary Ann's daughter Charlotte was a member of the D.A.R. This lineage goes through Mary Ann's line and I have the application which lists Mary Ann's parents as Robert Codner (not John) and Phoebe Chidester (not Mary Chedister).

I still lean towards the decedent being my Mary Ann, but I won't be able to make a case for it without more information. While I can't imagine not knowing the names of my grandparents, it is possible William grew up knowing little or nothing about his. As an adult he certainly moved around quite a lot, spending years in Canada and possibly some time in China, according to a passport application. William also had a brother, John Codner Smith, who he may have assumed was named for his grandfather because of his middle name. Although the identity of the informant and the reason for the record's creation are important facts to consider, they can't tell us everything we need to know about every fact in the document. Clearly, this case is calling for more research to be done,

1. Was my William Smith living in Ambler, PA in 1914?

2. Can I find out if William knew his grandparents and knew them well?

3. What newspaper carried this obituary?

4. Was Mary Ann's obituary published in any other papers?

5. Try again to find Mary Ann's burial record.

6. Search in New Jersey for Mary Ann's death certificate.

Although this familial line is not part of my current research plan, I'm glad that I took another look at these documents. A thoughtful written analysis is so much more helpful than a quick glance and a "could be her" and throwing it onto a deal-with-it-later pile. Practicing these skills will help me whoever I am researching.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Foto Friday - January

One of the gifts that I gave this season were calendars using some of my father's nature photography that I love so much. I used photos taken between 1952 and 1983. The current background of my blog is the photo that I used for January. Here is the whole photo.

It was taken somewhere in Litchfield County, Connecticut, according to my father, in the winter of 1963.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

The Genealogical Proof Standard - What Is It?

Genealogy Proof Standard Study Group

Chapter One-What is the Genealogical Proof Standard?
Anna Matthews


Christine Rose, Genealogical Proof Standard: Building a Solid Case 4th Edition Revised, (San Jose, California: CR Publications) 2014.

I am following along with DearMYRTLE's newest study group; The Genealogical Proof Standard Study Group. This group will meet in DearMYRTLE's "Hangouts" held Wednesdays at noon eastern time from January 4th to February 1st and will study the work of Christine Rose and her book, "Genealogical Proof Standard: Building a Solid Case." If you can't attend a live hangout, they are archived to You Tube within a week, (EDIT) but ideally you should go to her blog and find the monthly post of links to her hangouts and register so that you can see the comments/conversations that happened in the community of viewers and may have kept going after the webinar was over.

First let me just say that I love this book, even though I am only one chapter in as I begin writing this post. (Not compensated, I bought my own copy - FYI).  I recommend this book to any researcher but I strongly recommend it as a book for beginners. I own other books about the GPS or which address the GPS and they are wonderful, but they contain so much ancillary, though important, information that I sometimes felt a little overwhelmed trying to take it all in. The information and explanations in Christine Rose's book are distilled into the most essential elements so that everything you're reading goes to the very heart of the matter, a great way to begin learning this important topic.

When I started my genealogy journey, I was as guilty of name collecting as any novice, although for me it was more name gathering; I was lucky to begin with a lot of names but I just entered them into my public Ancestry tree without any clue of the consequences; from a family Bible from my maternal grandfather's line, from a huge 40-year-old compiled genealogy (in Swedish) of one of my great-grandmothers' lines, from a local history of the area where my maternal grandmother grew up and a genealogy compiled by my paternal grandfather. I even knew that there were problems with at least one of these sources, my own name was incorrect in that local history of the North Hatley, Quebec area, and still I entered other relatives' information into my tree from that book as if it were coming directly from their own mouths - sigh.

Although there was always more to genealogy for me than just adding names to my tree, it wasn't until a couple of years ago that I really began to understand the importance of citations and that these standards I was reading about applied to all researchers not just the professionals. Still, my attempts to apply them to my own genealogy have come in fits and starts as other genealogy-related tasks have been taking my time and attention. I'd really like to develop this skill in 2017.

Part of the first chapter of Christine Rose's book deals with evaluating evidence to answer our genealogy questions. Her examples are excellent and illustrate the points beautifully.  Below are a few examples from my own research.

These are copies of pages from a family Bible that originally belonged to my maternal grandfather's parents, George Robert Smith and Isabella Frances Parker.

The identity of the informant is vital to evaluating the source and quality of the information in our documents. In cases like this one, where I do not know the identity of the informant or informants, we must assume that the source is derivative and the quality of the information is indeterminable; it may very well be correct information, but we will certainly have to conduct reasonably exhaustive research and look at other sources before we can begin to come to any conclusion.

What we can determine is whether the evidence contained on these pages is indirect, direct or negative and that depends on our research question(s). If we are looking for the date of birth of my second-great-grandfather, Benjamin Smith, for example, this document provides direct evidence, it answers the question directly. If we are looking for the name of Lucy Hamilton Smith's husband, again, this document provides direct evidence, it answers that question directly.

Next I'll be looking at this genealogy of the Matthews family; the parents and siblings of my paternal great-grandfather, Arthur William Matthews.

In this case we know our informant; this document is in my great-grandfather's handwriting and is dated about three months before his death in December of 1915. However, we still don't know where he came by his information except that as the youngest child, he was certainly not present at the births of his parents or siblings!

The source here again is derivative and the quality of the information is indeterminable and as to whether the evidence is direct or indirect, that depends on the question we want answered. If we want to know where Arthur was born, this document provides direct evidence, if we want to know where his mother died, this document provides direct evidence. However, if we want to know when Arthur's mother died, this document does not provide any evidence.

Finally, this document is a little different, although like the others it is not an official or government document. This is a birth announcement for my father; more ephemera than documentation, it still provides us with genealogical information.

Because I recognize the handwriting, I know that this announcement was created by my grandmother. Her presence at my father's birth makes the information original. Although the announcement is not dated, I am going to assume that it was created near the time of my father's birth, that is, after all, the point of it. That timeliness and the fact that my grandmother was present at the event make the information primary.

Again, the type of information depends upon our research question. If we want to establish date of birth, this is direct evidence.

Each of the analyses above only look at the document in question. Once I have completed reasonably exhaustive research for whatever question I want to answer, then I can analyze the documents together to complete all the elements of the GPS and make conclusions.

I'm just learning these concepts, so please feel free to let me know in the comments if you agree or disagree with my analysis.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Holiday Break

Christmas 1952, Middletown, CT

I've decided to take a little break until January. Hope you have a warm and wonderful holiday and you are able to squeeze all of the family histories you can out of your relatives a bonus.

Wishing you a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year!
There was an error in this gadget