Monday, November 29, 2010

Amanuensis Monday - Pecht Family Bible Part 1

The Bible that belonged to Amanda M. Stover Pecht provided me with the first pieces of information regarding members of the family of John Crispin Pecht and Amanda Melvina Stover Pecht. Since I am now in contact with some of the descendants of Sherman Ellsworth Pecht, brother of my great grandfather, LeRoy Pearl Pecht, it seemed fitting to make this my selection for Amanuensis Monday.

Family Record

John C Pecht was
Born January th19 1831

Amanda His Wife was
Born Oct th 5 1842

Albert B Pecht was
Born Aug th30 1860

Cora B Pecht was
Born July th7 1863

Edmun S Pecht was
Born Jan th4 1866

Infant Sone was
Born May th27 1868

Sherman Ellsworth
Pecht Was Born
September th27
AD 1870

Mira Estella
Pecht Was Born
August th28 AD 1873

Clyde Lester Pecht May 7 1907
Mildred Edna Wischmeier  Dec 8 1912

Leroy Pearl Pecht Was
Born April th28 AD 1879

Lottie May Pecht 1882
Was Born October 29 1882

LeRoy Pecht Born
April 28 1879

Clara Rossela
Born Oct 2 1875
Cole City Illinois
Grundy County

Ruby was Born
May 27 1905

Clyde Born May 7 1907

Cecil Born Nov 23

Mildred Born July 4th

Source: Family Bible of Amanda M. Stover Pecht
Note: Citation on the birth of a living person was cropped from the image and not transcribed here.
Relationship to me: Leroy Pecht and Clara Laymon Pecht were my great grandparents.

Related posts:

John Crispin Pecht and Amanda Stover marriage certificate from the same Bible
LeRoy Pecht and Clara Laymon Pecht family

Sunday, November 28, 2010

The DNA Journey - Getting Started

I think I have finally calmed down a bit after more than 100 messages via Facebook and Twitter with my DNA Testing Buddies, Joan Miller and Carole Riley. A couple others have joined our Gene Pool Party, but I'll wait until they have publicly blogged before introducing them.

Two days ago, we each ordered a DNA testing kit from since the price of the kit was reduced to $99 from a whopping $499. To participate at the $99 fee, a customer also has to sign up for a $5/month subscription for one year. What the heck - a long time ago I discovered that genealogy is a hobby that can be even more expensive than golf! There's also some postage costs involved, which was much higher for Joan in Canada and Carole in Australia, as compared with mine in the U.S.

I am, by far, the least knowledgeable of this trio when it comes to DNA testing for genealogical purposes. So I have the most to learn. I'll share what I learn as we go through this journey.

After logging in to my account at 23andMe, I see that "Your order is being processed and will be shipped shortly."

Unlike some of the other DNA testing services, 23andMe requires users to spit into the container rather than doing a cheek swab. We are already joking about this being our "spitting contest."

In addition to the potential for making connections with living individuals who share a common ancestor, the results from 23andMe provide information regarding health and disease risk factors and some predictability to one's reaction to certain drugs. As my prescription costs seem to increase with age, and as there are some health issues that run in the family, this makes the test even more valuable to me.

As far as genealogy, no, you don't spit in a cup and automatically have a bunch of family tree charts appear! But it may put you in touch with others who share a similar lineage and provide information regarding your global origins. What little I've seen in television programs about the origins and migratory patterns of humans has fascinated me, so it will be fun to see how I fit in the big picture. I already know that my ancestors are from Ireland, England, Denmark, and Germany - but where else did my ancestors come from?

Related sites and blogs

The DNA Testing Buddies:
Joan Miller's blog - Luxegen Genealogy and Family History
Carole Riley's blog - Carole's Canvas
Kerry Farmer's Family History Research

All of my posts on this topic

Blog roll of our posts and other blogs about DNA testing for genealogy
The Spittoon - blog from 23andMe

Sunday's Obituary - John Theodore Petersen, age 18

John Theodore "Teddy" Petersen
1906 - 1924
John Theodore Petersen, son of Mr. and Mrs. J. C. Petersen of Nora, died Sunday night, June 15, at the Blue Valley hospital in Hebron, after an illness of four days. He was buried Wednesday afternoon. Funeral services were conducted at the home near Nora and later from Bethany Lutheran church. A great throng of people attended the funeral, one of the largest seen in this part of the country for a long time. "Teddy" was born April 1, 1906, and died June 15, 1924, thus attaining the age of 18 years and 2 months. He leaves to mourn his early death his mother, father, four sisters and four brothers, besides many friends. He was well known in the Ruskin community, having lived three miles south all his life up to the last year which was spent near Nora.

Source: The Nelson Gazette, Thursday, July 3, 1924

Relationship to me: grand uncle

Friday, November 26, 2010

Jumping Into the DNA Gene Pool

This morning began as usual with a cup of coffee and a quick look at my Facebook news feed. A posting from caught my eye. This company that offers DNA testing was having a major mark-down sale from its usual $499 to $99. That's a Black Friday sale I can live with, so I reposted the message on Facebook. Facebook friend Carole Riley shared the same link and asked if it was worthwhile.

Later this afternoon (in U.S. time), Carole and I found ourselves in a rapid-fire discussion on Facebook with Joan Miller about DNA testing for genealogy. Joan is clearly an expert on the topic as she was going through the DNA testing lingo and leaving me with a quizzical look on my face wondering, "what on earth is she talking about?" Before we knew it, Carole and I were both signing up at 23andMe to get our DNA testing kit. I'm always willing to try anything new and this could definitely be an adventure. As I mentioned to Carole and Joan, at least I should get a few blog posts out of this! We decided we three would embark on this adventure together.

Joan and Carole jumped right in. Carole posted on Carole's Canvas about 23andMe's sale and costs. Joan also wrote about her DNA Testing Buddies on her Luxegen Genealogy and Family History blog. I've added a blog roll to the right hand column of this blog titled DNA for Genealogy, where Joan and Carole's posts will appear, along with other blog posts relevant to the topic. Or you can bookmark this RSS feed if you want to follow along.

This is a subject I know absolutely nothing about, so I guess that means I have a lot to learn.

Here are few starting points:

The Spittoon - the blog from 23andMe

The International Society of Genetic Genealogy

Wikipedia - Genetic Genealogy

If you've already taken the DNA plunge, I'd love to hear about your experiences. Please post comments and suggestions below.

The Women in My Family Tree - Patricia Landon Kelly Petersen

First in a series of profiles of the women in my family tree.

Patricia Landon Kelly Petersen
1927 - 1983
Introduction: Last summer, I was emotionally moved by Lisa Alzo's presentation on telling the stories of your female ancestors at the Family History Expo in Kansas City. As I have been gathering information and scanning photographs of the women in my family tree, I've decided to begin a new series on called The Women in My Family Tree. It seems fitting that I begin this series with the woman who gave me life, my mother, Patricia Landon Kelly Petersen.

Of all the women I will be writing about in the coming months, my closest relationship is, of course, with my mother. Rather than making assumptions and inferences from newspaper articles, diaries, letters and photographs, this profile is filtered through the eyes of a loving daughter about the woman who raised me, and who, along with my father, gave me values I still live by today. She left this earthly life much too soon in 1983 when she was only 55 years old, eight months after discovering cancer had ravaged through her body. I never saw her age, never saw her grow old. In her last moments, she pulled me close and said, "You're the best thing that ever happened to me." I could say the same about her.

Born in Greenwood, Nebraska

Patricia Landon Kelly was born in a farmhouse two miles north of Greenwood, Nebraska on February 8, 1927. She was the youngest child of William (Bill) Kelly, Sr. and Sina Harriet Bellinger. Sina wanted to name the baby Genevieve, but Sina's cousin, Henrietta "Aunt Etty" Beale objected and said, "You can name her that, but I'm going to call her Pat." Mom's birth certificate never carried a first or middle name until she was about 50 years old, when she had her name added.

Landon was Sina's mother's maiden name and Mom never liked her middle name, Landon, and all of her papers from her pre-teen and teenage years are signed Patty Ann Kelly. Not realizing that wasn't her real middle name, her brother and his wife named their first daughter Patricia Ann, after Mom.

Patty Kelly on Teddy
earliest photo of Mom
Mom grew up on the farm and there was no shortage of animals. Like her father, she developed an early love of horses and over the years became an accomplished horsewoman. I always found it puzzling that she never allowed me on a horse - ever. The reason she gave was that she was afraid I would get hurt.

As a youngster, she had dreams of performing on horses in a circus or rodeo and fancied herself as "the girl of the golden west."

The Kelly family had a beloved pony named Teddy that grew up right along the children. Even as teens, Mom and her girlfriends would ride Ted around Greenwood.

Girl of the Golden West
The Depression hit all families hard and the Kellys were no exception. Since they farmed and gardened, they were still able to put food on the table. They played just as hard as they worked and the children always seemed to be getting into all sorts of scrapes and accidents.

Mom recalled when she had split her head open - it may have been a riding accident, but I don't remember. Her brother, Jiggs (William, Jr.), charged other kids to come in to the house to get a look at her brains. Isn't that just like an older brother?

The Kelly family moved into the town of Greenwood and, after attending country school for a couple years, she attended the Greenwood city school through 12th grade. It was just last year when cousin Pat came to visit that we learned that Mom did not graduate with her class. I knew that Mom had lived in Texas for a while in her late teens. Why? It remains a mystery - and one that I have not yet decided if I want to pursue.

Getting married and having a family

Patricia and Kenneth Petersen
June 14, 1947
Mom was home visiting from Texas when she met my father in about 1946. He was just out of the Navy following World War II. According to Dad, she had planned to return to Texas, but after a whirlwind of dating, she decided to stay in Greenwood.

The couple was married on June 14, 1947. In the early years of their marriage they lived in Wahoo and Grand Island, Nebraska. They became dealers for Stanley Home Products, booked home parties and showed housewives how to make their homes sparkle and shine with mops, brooms, and cleaners. Can you imagine anyone surviving on that career path today?

Mom and Dad were married for 28 years when they divorced. But I had a great childhood and they were awesome parents. From Mom, I got the love of reading, learning, history, music and the arts. From Dad, I got the love of baseball, work ethic and business sense. I always felt that I got the best of both of them. I was an only child, which I always believed was a blessing and not a curse. We always said we were the three musketeers and if no one else looked out for us, we would look out for each other.

Mom was home during my early years and later on, only worked out of financial necessity for the family and for my education. Thanks to both of my parents, no scholarships were needed, no student loans and when I graduated from the University of Nebraska, my education was paid for by the hard work of all three of us.

After the divorce, Mom had to support herself and got a job with a local mail order company. It was during those last eight years of her life that she and I bonded not only as mother and daughter, but as friends. We did absolutely everything together. We made our weekend trips to our cabins at Lake McConaughy near Ogallala, Nebraska. That pretty much was our second home between Memorial Day and Labor Day every year. We attended all of the concerts at the Ak-sar-ben (spell it backwards) arena in Omaha every year. We made the county fair circuit to hear our favorite country music performers. We went to the horse races and bet on the horses with Irish-themed names (we won, too!). We went "junking" as we called going to garage sales. We had a lot of fun together.

Ms. Petersen Goes to Washington
One of the biggest thrills of Mom's life was a trip we made to Washington, D.C. in 1980. She loved history and loved politics and it had been a dream of hers to visit the nation's capitol. We had a blast! We visited the White House, all of the monuments, Mount Vernon, the Smithsonian - you name it. We got separated from one another in the panda house at the National Zoo - even at the age of 30, I was feeling like a lost child and I wanted my Mommy! After she got sick, she told me that she was so glad she was able to make that trip.

Just before Memorial Day weekend in 1982, Mom called early on a Sunday morning saying how much pain she was in and needed to go to the hospital. I was there in a flash, running a few red lights at 5:00 a.m. when no one could see me and we went to the emergency room. The cause of her pain was a strangulated hernia, but, later in the day, following surgery, the doctor told me that her body was "full of cancer" and that it was terminal. That was the first time Mom had been in a hospital as a patient since giving birth to me.

During the next eight months, Mom had radiation that burned through her body, chemotherapy that robbed her of the beautiful thick black hair that was her trademark and through it all, she continued to work when she could. She refused my offer to drive her to radiation and chemo treatments. Her employer was a family owned business and they kept her on the payroll and maintained her insurance throughout her illness. They would bring work to her apartment so she could stuff catalogs in envelopes when she was up to it.

Mom continued to spend a lot of time reading and about once a week, I would go to the library and pick up about ten new releases to take to her. One time, I brought one that I thought was a horse story. I asked how she liked it and she replied, "it's about a woman who has cancer." We had to laugh.

During Mom's illness, she showed me what it is like to be strong during adversity. Even knowing her illness was terminal, she continued to talk of the future. In December 1982, she spent three weeks at the University of Nebraska medical center in Omaha and that was when we learned she was near the end. We came home to Lincoln and I was with her around the clock and hospice was arranged.

I remember us watching TV news about Hollywood coming to Lincoln to film what became the Oscar winning film, Terms of Endearment, starring Shirley MacLaine and Debra Winger. Scenes from that movie were filmed at Lincoln General Hospital - with Winger's character dying of cancer there. I love that film, but I can never get through it with a dry eye. The patient rooms, the nurse's station - everything was exactly as they were during Mom's illness.

Mom's strength was never as strong as it was the last two weeks of her life. As she sat in bed, filled with morphine and pain killers, she asked me to bring her the drawers from her desk, one at a time, as she sorted through her papers. She laid out the information I would need after she was gone and tore up some old letters that she preferred I not read. "I had to go through this with both of my parents," she said to me. "I don't want you to have to go through all of this." We laid on her bed as she went through the pieces of her life. We laughed and we cried. It was the best two weeks that I could have ever imagined spending with my Mom. Mom and I wore the same size clothing (much smaller than today!), and she said, "I want you to wear my clothes. They are still good. I wore my mom's clothes after she died." And for a long time, I did wear her clothes. It was my way of keeping her next to me.

Mom wrote out the instructions for her funeral, stating she wanted to be cremated and who she wanted to have speak at her service.

It was about two or three a.m. on January 19, 1983 when Mom told me she was ready to go to the hospital. We phoned our hospice lady who arranged for the ambulance to take Mom and I followed in my car. I was at her side all night. She drifted in and out of consciousness and when she was lucid, we would talk and hold hands. You've all heard the stories about loved ones waiting for you on the other side. As Mom was drifting in and out, she was speaking aloud, and I was hearing her side of the conversation with her Dad and other family members. It was a bit unnerving at first, but it was enough to give me faith in finally believing that there truly is a dimension beyond this one and that the soul survives the body. I thank Mom for giving me that last gift.

So - that is my mother through my eyes. The love remains and I feel her presence - unexpected but always when I most need it. She will always be the most important woman in my family tree.

Follow Friday: Around the Blogosphere - November 26

Nothing seems to weave a common thread among genealogy bloggers more than a special day and Thanksgiving Day is no exception. I loved reading everyone's messages about what they are thankful for, Thanksgiving traditions and stories about family members. I also enjoyed the photographs and scans of vintage Thanksgiving postcards and images that everyone shared. Since everyone's blog posts yesterday were so fantastic, I can't possibly list them all, but you can read them all (or a sampling) by visiting the RSS feed provided by the blog roll from Geneabloggers. Begin reading now.

I do, however, want to highlight a couple very poignant posts from yesterday's offerings. First, the post made by the King of the Geneabloggers, Thomas MacEntee, on Destination Austin Family, in which he lists what he is thankful for. If I were anywhere near as eloquent as Thomas, that is what I would say. Randy Seaver's post on Genea-Musings also deserves top billing alongside Thomas' for what he is thankful for. Thank you, gentlemen! You both inspire me to be a better blogger, a better genealogist and a better person.

The other blog posts I enjoyed reading this week . . .

I Won NaNoWriMo from GenWest UK - about a limited time, self directed novel writing project. What a novel idea! Write a novel in 30 days! Maybe that's what I need to jump start my long held but never fulfilled dream of writing a book. Truly an inspirational challenge for writers and wannabe writers. Apparently there is also a challenge to do a 100 page screenplay.

If you haven't been following Bill West's Great American Local Poem and Song Challenge on West in New England, now is the time to begin. Bill has challenged bloggers to post about a poem, song, place, legend or person - there have been some amazing posts contributed to this project.

Twitter users will pick up some tips on Tweet Deck from Holly MacDonald on Spark Your Interest. If you've been baffled by Twitter, using Tweet Deck might help you use this social media tool to further your research.

DearMYRTLE shared a list of genealogy blogs worth following from the National Archives and Records Administration. I encourage you to sign up to follow all of them!

Mr. MacEntee gets another tip of the hat this week with his Writing Tips for Genealogy Bloggers on Geneabloggers.

James Tanner's Genealogy's Star has become one of my must-read blogs in recent weeks. This week he provided a thought provoking piece on how privacy laws impact genealogy.

The Free Genealogy Resources blog features online resources for free maps. Great tips!

Bringing a smile to my face this week was Nancy's Addendum from Dad on the Family Tree University blog. Dad sounds like he's a lot of fun! I definitely related to his comment about the greatest human drive is the urge to edit other people's copy. Dad had to have been a newspaperman; am I right?

Lisa Wallen Logsdon of Old Stones Deciphered wrote a piece for "There's One in Every Family" Carnival of Genealogy called Boy Hero Saves Life of Abraham Lincoln. She relates a wonderful journey about taking a piece of family lore and proving that the incident really happened - and a historical marker as evidence to boot!

Where Does It Go When You're Dead is an informative post from the Honolulu County Genealogical Society. What will happen with all of those heirlooms when you're gone?

Janet Hovorka, The Chart Chick, offers valuable advice in Safety Rule No. 3 for the Genealogy Playground.

As they like to say in radio, the hits just keep on coming. And I am amazed and inspired by the writing of the geneablogging community every day.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving Day 1944

Here is how my father spent Thanksgiving in 1944 - while in naval basic training in Gulf Port, Mississippi.

Interesting that cigars and cigarettes were considered part of the Thanksgiving meal.

Happy Thanksgiving from

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Wordless Wednesday - Jens Petersen's funeral

Members of the Petersen family gather at the funeral of Jens Petersen in Hardy, Nebraska in August 1948. Jens was my great grandfather.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Tragedy Tuesday: Mike and Mollie Kelly killed in train crash

Two Killed at Greenwood - Burlington Train Hits Car on Grade Crossing - Mr. and Mrs. Kelly of Lincoln Meet Instant Death When Auto Stops on Track
Mr. and Mrs. Michael Kelly of Lincoln were instantly killed Monday afternoon, near 3 o'clock when hit by Burlington train No. 2 eastbound at a crossing near Greenwood. The remains were brought to Lincoln late Monday afternoon.
Mr. Kelly was a brother of Mrs. O.E. Rector and of Mrs. John Fitzgerald. The accident happened east of Greenwood near the elevator. Mr. Kelly drove up on the eastbound track and stopped to let a freight train go by, never noticing the approaching fast passenger train. The car was demolished and the occupants were instantly killed.
Mr. and Mrs. Kelly left Lincoln Monday morning on business. Mr. Kelly is a retired farmer and the circumstances of the accident indicate that he was driving to their farm near Greenwood when the train struck them. Mr. Kelly was about sixty years old and Mrs. Kelly about fifty-five.
Word was received Monday evening that Mrs. John Fitzgerald, sister of Mr. Kelly, would arrive Tuesday from Evergreen Col. where she is now living. Edward, son of Mr. and Mrs. Kelly, will arrive sometime Tuesday from Notre Dame university where he is a student.
The remains of Mr. and Mrs. Kelly are being held at Roberts' Parlors pending funeral arrangements.
Source: Nebraska State Journal, Lincoln, Nebraska, October 5, 1920

Mr. and Mrs. M.C. Kelly Meet Death
Mr. and Mrs. Michael Kelly met instant death Monday afternoon when struck by Burlington train No. 2 at the crossing near the stockyards. No one knows the exact cause of the accident, but many think the victims were watching a freight train coming from the east and failed to see the approaching fast passenger train. The car was demolished and Mr. and Mrs. Kelly almost instantly killed, the bodies being taken to Lincoln on No. 7.
Mr. and Mrs. Kelly lived on their farm near here until two years ago when they retired and went to Lincoln to live. They leave two children - Edward, who is attending Notre Dame College and Mrs. Mayme White, who resides in Texas.
The accident has cast a gloom over this community where Mr. and Mrs. Kelly made a host of friends during their long residence in this vicinity.
Source: Greenwood Gazette, Greenwood, Nebraska, October 7, 1920

Notes: Michael C Kelly was the brother of my great grandfather, Daniel Kelly. Mary "Mollie" Kelleher was the daughter of Patrick Kelleher and Nora Nestor Kelleher. Mollie's first husband was William D. Kelly, Jr., brother of Michael C. Kelly. Mollie and William had two children. Willie died as an infant in 1886. Mary Theresa was born in 1888 and died in 1964. She was known as "Mayme" Kelly White. Mike and Mollie's child together was Edward.
Mike and Mollie are buried in unmarked graves at Calvary Cemetery, Lincoln, Nebraska near the graves of Michael's parents and little Willie.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Sunday's Obituary - Mary Casey Kelly

Saturday morning, November 6, 1886, at her last residence two miles from Greenwood, Neb, Mary, wife of Wm D Kelly. Deceased was born in Tuam County, Galway, Ireland, November 12, 1830.
The funeral will take place from St. Theresa's Catholic Church, Lincoln, on arrival of the first train from the east Tuesday 9th inst.
Source: Daily Nebraska State Journal, November 7, 1886
Mary Casey Kelly was my great-great grandmother. She is buried at Calvary Cemetery, Lincoln, Nebraska.
Mary Casey Kelly
Calvary Cemetery
Lincoln, Nebraska

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Review: The Women Who Came in the Mayflower

With the Thanksgiving holiday approaching a look back at the Plymouth colony and the Pilgrims seems in order. A free public domain book for the Kindle is The Women Who Came in the Mayflower by Annie Russell Marble.

This book was of immediate interest to me as I am descended from Mayflower passengers Stephen Hopkins and his second wife, Elizabeth (my ninth great grandmother), and from passenger Francis Cooke and his wife Hester Mahieu (she arrived on a later ship). I am not an expert on the Mayflower and its passengers, but acknowledge the fact that this is part of my heritage (along with several million other Americans living today). My connection to Hopkins and Cooke via the Landon family is documented in Joy Deal Lehmann's book Landon family history: Descendants of Samuel and Margaret Landon of Tioga County, Pennsylvania, and descendants of Daniel and Ann Landon of Greenwood, Nebraska, 1727-1987. 

The Women Who Came in the Mayflower is a quick read, just 56 pages in printed form. It tells little of the actual ocean voyage, but focuses more on the early years in Plymouth. In the first winter and spring, death and illness spread to the point there was only a handful of people to care for the sick and bury the dead. Of the 29 women who came in the Mayflower, 15 died during the first winter and spring. My ancestor, Elizabeth Hopkins, was described as one of the women of "strong physique and dauntless heart" and who "sustained to great old age."

Even with the hardships, Marble states that when the Mayflower was to return to England in April, people were offered free passage to return. No one accepted the offer.

Plymouth had a dwindling population and as more pilgrims arrived on subsequent ships, new families were formed out of necessity, with marriages occurring not long after the death of a spouse. Children had to be raised and the family unit was a necessity.

Marble debunks the image of the pilgrim women in the long gray gowns with the "dainty white collars and cuffs, with stiff caps and dark capes." In reality, she writes, they wore whatever was available. It was not until a few years later that nicer clothing became part of their wardrobe. And their clothing was awash with color, not just grey and black, she writes.

This little book is liberally footnoted. In the Kindle format, the footnotes appear right in the text, which is a bit distracting. It is far from being a comprehensive history of either the Mayflower women or of Plymouth. But it's interesting enough (it takes less than an hour to read). And the price is right: free.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Follow Friday: Around the Blogosphere - November 19

The genealogy bloggers were writing up a storm this past week with a lot of great posts. Listed here are my favorite posts from the past week.

As always, Kerry Scott of Clue Wagon made me laugh with the post (and photo!) What Would Genealogist Barbie Look Like? You definitely need to check this one out.

Gena Philibert Ortega provided a wonderful bibliography on How to Search Immigrant Ancestors on the Family History Expo blog.

Paula Stuart-Warren offered some great suggestions about capturing your first impressions with your research. Paula also had another great post about planning for family interviews during the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday. Paula has a long list of questions to jump start your interviews. Paula's blog is Paula's Genealogical Eclectica.

A lot of blog posts were spawned from the 2010 Atlanta Family History Expo. Here are some of those I enjoyed reading:

Live From the Beacon of Bloggers from Tonia's Roots (Tonia Kendrick).

Atlanta Family History Expo - Day 2 by Linda McCauley on Documenting the Details. Also from Linda were some photos capturing the Expo in Atlanta.

Amy Coffin wrote a great synopsis of the Atlanta Family History Expo on her We Tree Genealogy blog. Amy was one of the first bloggers to welcome me to the geneablogger community and I'm hoping we'll get to meet in person at a conference next year.

Links to all of the Family History Expo posts from the Bloggers of Honor is on the FHExpo blog.

Since my great grandmother's family lived in Litchfield, Connecticut, I appreciate the wonderful list of genealogy resources for Litchfield on the Relative Musings blog.

DearMyrtle has a great article about saving genealogies for future generations.

For those who may be exhibiting at a conference, some great tips were provided by Jenna Mills of Desperately Seeking Surnames.

Randy Seaver of Genea-Musings has a great contribution to the 100th Carnival of Genealogy with his post on "There's One in Every Family." Randy's opening paragraph hit pretty close to home! I guess I'm the one in my family.

Lynn Palermo of the Armchair Genealogist is a fellow Kindle aficionado and writes about making the move to audio and digital books. Lynn also recommends - as do I. Listening to biographies and books about American history and politics makes the commuting and waiting time go by much faster.

And, finally, is Elizabeth O'Neal's post So ... This is Nebraska on Little Bytes of Life which includes the poetry of Nebraska's adopted son (he was born in Iowa) Ted Kooser. Kooser's words paint a delightful picture of my home state. Kooser is the former poet laureate of the United States. Did you know that one of our elementary schools is named for Ted Kooser? He's one of our treasures, so I was pleased to see Elizabeth include his poem on her blog.

Hmm .... how many times did I use the word 'great' in this post? Well, this week was great!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Photographing Your Family - tips from National Geographic's Joel Sartore

Joel Sartore
National Geographic Photographer
from Lincoln, Nebraska
Lifelong Nebraskan and Lincoln resident Joel Sartore is a nationally recognized photographer who has been shooting pictures for National Geographic for the last 20 years. This morning, he visited with Cathy Blythe on KFOR radio about Photographing Your Family: And All the Kids and Friends and Animals Who Wander Through Too (National Geographic Photography Field Guides), which was published in 2008.

With the holidays and family time coming up, he offers a lot of tips about creative ways of photographing those who are nearest and dearest to you. Joel offers tips for creating photographs that will be meaningful and interesting for generations to come.

Some of his tips:

  • Don't line everyone up in a row staring at the camera.
  • Flash ruins more photos than it helps. If you can't turn off the flash, put some duct tape over it.
  • Look for photo opportunities in everyday life.
  • Do your photographs tell a story about a person's life?
  • Do you have photographs of family members doing their job?
  • Cameras - you get what you pay for.
  • Use soft natural light.

Listen to Cathy's interview with Joel on this KFOR podcast. (please note: KFOR podcasts are available only for about one month).

If you enjoyed this podcast, you might also enjoy Joel's 2007 speech on the environment and nature photography at the E N Thompson Forum lecture series at the Lied Center for Performing Arts. It's also available on video. I was there!

Joel's website:

Visit Joel Sartore on Facebook

When you get out the camera this holiday season, shoot outside the box - try some different angles and perspectives. Let your photographs tell a story about your family.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Not So Wordless Wednesday - a family of Petersens

Members of the Petersen clan
Early 1920s
This photograph is from my grandmother's photo album from the early 1920s. When I shared the photo with another relative, I learned that I had misidentified her mother and her aunt. This cousin is now looking through her photographs to determine if we can identify some of the other people in the photo.

Seated, front row, left, is my grandfather, Otto Petersen; my grandmother, Ruby Pecht Petersen Baker is third from right; far right is Otto's brother, John Theodore (Ted) Petersen. Third from the left is the relative's mother, Nelsine Petersen. Now to learn who everyone else is!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Tuesday's Tip: Safe removal of photos from magnetic album pages

After all of the photographs I've removed from "magnetic" photo albums this week, I thought I would share some links to pages regarding safe removal from these pages. - describes the make-up of these old albums and why they are destroying our photographs

Tips for safely removing the photographs - another article from

Here's a good article on photo preservation from the Nebraska State Historical Society Gerald R Ford Conservation Center. This is an Adobe pdf file.

Taking care of your personal archives from The Atlantic magazine - originally published by the Smithsonian.

The video below is from the Smithsonian and provides some tips for safe removal.

After seeing some examples of photo album horror stories online, I feel pretty fortunate that my photos came out the albums as easily as they did. However, the glue from the magnetic pages is stuck on the backs of some of the photographs. I'm guessing that this could present some problems if the photos will be stacked together for long term storage. Before these photos are filed away, I'm going to make sure that I scan the "keepers" so that further damage can be prevented. I suppose that going back to my original negatives might also be an option. But that is probably going to be like looking for a needle in a haystack. I wonder if I still have a light box around here somewhere . . .

Talented Tuesday - David Doyle

David Fitzgerald Doyle
December 1, 1929 -
February 26, 1997
Actor David Doyle was my third cousin. We share the same great great grandparents, William D. Kelly and Mary Casey. His great grandmother, Mary Kelly, was married to railroad contractor and banker, John Fitzgerald, whom I've written about numerous times on this blog.

David was one of Hollywood's most recognizable character actors, perhaps best known as John Bosley on Charlie's Angels.

As a youth, David appeared on the Lincoln stage in community theater productions.

David's early career was focused on the stage. Broadway credits include I Was Dancing (1964) at the Lyceum Theatre and Here's Love by Meredith Willson (The Music Man) at the Shubert Theatre in 1963. His "big break" came when he replaced Walter Matthau in Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter in 1956.

His television career began with some uncredited appearances on programs such as 77 Sunset Strip. By the mid 1960s, David was showing up on Naked City, Car 54 Where Are You?, The Defenders, The Patty Duke Show, That Girl, and then on to Hawaii Five-O, The Dick Van Dyke Show, Banacek, Love American Style, All in the Family, Kojak, Sanford and Son, Barney Miller, Ellery Queen, Police Story, The Love Boat, Fantasy Island, Murder She Wrote and Hart to Hart, among the more recognizable shows in a long list of credits.

In the 1960s, David appeared with his old buddy and former Nebraskan, Johnny Carson, on The Tonight Show. The phone call network would begin whenever word got out that David was going to be on with Carson. And they always told stories about growing up in Nebraska.

David's first regular TV series with a recurring supporting role was when he portrayed Walt Fitzgerald in 24 episodes of Bridget Loves Bernie during the 1972-73 season. It wasn't too much of a stretch for David to play a Catholic with the name Fitzgerald! We always got a kick out of that. That was one of the underlying themes of the show - his Catholic daughter, played by Meredith Baxter, was married to a Jewish man played by David Birney. The couple later married in real life.

In 1976 came the role that David is probably best remembered for - that of John Bosley on Charlie's Angels. The Angels were hot and, of course, there was that poster of Farrah that showed up everywhere. David appeared in 100 episodes of the show.

During 1986-87, David played attorney Ted Holmes on the ABC afternoon drama, General Hospital. Again, this was not much of a stretch as David's father, L.R. "Lum" Doyle was an attorney as is his brother, John R. "Dugie" Doyle. His paternal grandfather, T.J. Doyle, was also an attorney. David had also planned to become an attorney until the acting bug bit him. David ranked sixth in the state on his law school entrance exam.

David also made the round of TV game shows including Password, Super Password, Hollywood Squares, and the Match Game.

David's film credits include some movies you've probably seen: Capricorn One, Coogan's Bluff, and Paper Lion, as well as several others.

His last work was as the voice of Grandpa Lou Pickles in Rugrats.

David was one of those fortunate actors who always worked. If not in television, there was a film, stage production or dinner theater. Because of being a character actor, David was always employed.

It's fun researching David because there is such a wealth of newspaper articles about him from his entire career. It's especially fun to read those about his early stage appearances in Lincoln. When he went on to New York City, there would be snippets about his latest role in the society column. And whenever he came back home, that made news.

I met cousin David only one time, in 1980 when he was back in Lincoln for a fundraiser.

Meeting my cousin in Lincoln, Nebraska, 1980

Presenting David with the Greenwood history book
After explaining our common ancestry to David (in 25 words or less), I gave him a copy of the book on the Centennial History of Greenwood, Nebraska, where our ancestors settled. I always wondered if he took time to read it. I'd bookmarked the pages about our family. The biggest kick I got from meeting David was when he said to me, in that amazing raspy booming voice of his, "Hi, Cuz!"

David died of a heart attack on February 26, 1997 in Los Angeles. He was survived by his widow, Ann Nathan Doyle, whom he met while doing a revival of South Pacific, and a daughter, Leah, from his first marriage. His first wife, Rachel, died from injuries in a fall from a stairway in 1968.

I think David will not only be remembered as the sidekick to the Angels, but as a dedicated, hard-working professional actor who always maintained his Midwestern values.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sentimental Sunday - Those Kodak Moments

This weekend I've begun the task of removing my photographs from those horrendous "magnetic" photo albums. I remember when those came out and were all the rage. Who knew then that they would turn out to be a terrible option for preserving photographs?

Removing the photographs has been a rather tedious task and I'm only going through a couple albums each day. That results in hundreds of photographs! Those of us who are baby boomers and younger grew up with cameras. Our friends and family took photographs of everything. That was all before video cameras and YouTube. Now, just about everyone has a camera - and video - with them 24/7, so it's easier than ever before to capture a special moment.

As genealogists, imagine our excitement if we had discovered this many photographs of our family and ancestors from say, before 1930? Were there more photographs that were thrown away? Why did so few survive? Are there photographs of our family in the hands of the descendants of their friends from the turn of the century (the 20th, not the 21st!).

As I look at the thousands of my own personal photographs this weekend, it becomes quite overwhelming. Questions face me about my own personal photograph archive: Do I keep all of them? Which ones should I scan? Will I attempt to rewrite my history by shredding photographs of former friends or toxic relationships? Will I keep photographs that elicit a bad memory? Even if the photographs are gone, those memories are still stored away in my brain somewhere.

I've just been through an album from the 1970s. If a stranger were to look through that album and try to create a story of my life, it would probably indicate that I was quite the party animal. Nothing is probably further from the truth. During that decade I was working hard, both at my day job and starting a magazine publishing business with a colleague (it didn't last!). I was also doing quite a bit of freelance writing on the side. Those stories are not represented in my photo album.

Hard at Work in 1977
I've included the photo above since it's one of the few that I have of myself on the job. Other photos are social events and vacations. Take a look to my left. That's a rotary dial telephone! You don't find many of those around any more. There's no computer to be seen anywhere! On the other hand, some things never change. Thirty-three years later, I still have my To Do list propped up in front of me.

What I've been enjoying about going through these photo albums is looking in the background of the photos - noticing the furniture and wall decor that were sold at garage sales. Some even have a little bit of significance in my family history.

Nebraska State Capitol, Lincoln

This was in a series of photographs taken when I was about to audition for a job of host of "PM Magazine" in Omaha. That was probably one of the most disastrous moments of my journalism career - when I realized once and for all that I was better off behind the camera instead of in front of it. There's nothing like a cattle call audition to weed out the people who couldn't cut it in show biz. I'm still surprised I stuck it out and didn't walk out before my 30 seconds in front of the camera. Fortunately, my tape was not included in the "gag reel" that ran on the six o'clock news that night.

I digress - what does the photo have to do with my family history? See the parking garage directly behind me? For many years, one of the houses that stood there was 415 South 15th Street, Lincoln, Nebraska. My great grand aunt, Nellie Kelly Rector, lived there for years and various members of the Kelly and Fitzgerald families came and went through that residence over the years. It then became the home of Lum and Ruth Fitzgerald Doyle, whose son I'll be writing about on this blog on Tuesday. I'm sure you'll recognize him! I have been looking for some vintage photographs of the house and believe that I actually discovered one in my own collection - a photograph of what was then 15th Street - before it became Centennial Mall. I have several photographs that I took from the top of the State Capitol. It's not a great photo, but it's the only one I've found so far. I shall keep looking.

Family Heirlooms in Everyday Life 
This photo was taken at a wedding shower I cohosted for a coworker. On the left, in the china hutch, is the teapot that belonged to my great grandmother. It always sat on display at my grandmother Kelly's home, then it was passed along to my Mom, and then on to me. The other family heirloom in this photo is the pedestal cake plate my friend is holding. That, too, was passed down through the family and I've used it often for cakes or other pastries.

So, if you're still with me after this little trip down memory lane, I'm curious to hear what YOU are doing with your collection of contemporary photos from your lifetime. Are you keeping everything? Are you tossing out the bad, blurry or unflattering photos? Are you tossing out the photos of the ex? What kind of photographic history will you be leaving behind for future generations? What photographs will survive? Please share your comments below. I look forward to reading about how others are dealing with the avalanche of images we have created in our lifetime.

Sunday's Obituary - Buniece Beal Brown

The intense heat is believed to have been a contributing cause of the death of Mrs. Buniece Beal Brown, age 45, at the home of her mother, Mrs. Cora Beal, Monday afternoon.  Mrs. Brown had suffered from other ailments, however.

She was found dead in her bed at 6 p.m.   Doctor Florea, who was called, said death probably came at 3 p.m.

A private memorial service was held Wednesday morning in the chapel at Evergreen Cemetery, where burial was made.  The following obituary was read at the service by Rev. C. O. Olson, pastor of the First Presbyterian Church.

Mrs. Buniece Beal Bown was born in Superior, Nebr., May 19, 1889.  She was educated in the Superior schools and grew to womanhood in this community.  She was a graduate of a school in San Diego, Calif., having majored in domestic science and interior decorating. She taught school in the rural district near Superior, also Nelson, Nebr., and San Francisco, Calif.

She was married in 1912.  While living in Twin Falls, Idaho she united with the Christian Church.

Her departure was sudden and unexpected on Monday, July 16.

Besides her Mother, Mrs. Cora Beal, she leaves two brothers, Mitchell and Wendell Beal both of Superior, Nebr.  Her father preceded her in death several years ago.

Her parents came to Superior in the pioneer days.  They lived here and succeeded in establishing themselves financially as well as in the confidence of the people.

Source: Superior Express, Superior, Nebraska  July 19, 1934

Source FindAGrave
photographer: Marilyn Keim
Buniece is buried at Evergreen Cemetery in Superior, Nebraska. She was my first cousin, twice removed. Her mother, Cora Pecht Beal, was the sister of my great grandfather, Leroy Pearl Pecht. Buniece had been married to Henry Orin Brown.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

2011 Events in Nebraska: Land Records Symposium, Genealogy and Lincoln History Classes

Genealogy and Land Records Symposium - Beatrice

Mark your calendar now for July 15 - 16, 2011 for the Genealogy and Land Records Symposium to be held at

Southeast Community College
Truman Center
4771 W. Scott Road

Beatrice, Nebraska

Renowned researchers and authors from throughout the United States will make presentations on how to conduct proper research in Homestead case files. Genealogists will address the volumes of family information in Homestead records. The symposium is a partnership between Homestead National Monument of America and Southeast Community College. Information will be available soon at Vendors are welcome.

If you're from a surrounding state - Iowa, Missouri, Kansas - this would be good one for you to drive in for if you want to learn more about land records research.

Family History Classes

Southeast Community College Continuing Education Center
301 S. 68th St Place, Lincoln

Cynthia Monroe and Marcia Stewart will again be teaching Beginning Genealogy: Where To Start With Your Family History on Thursday evenings February 3 - 24, 2011 from 6:30 - 8:30 p.m. Cost is $49. 

Cynthia and Marcia will continue with Intermediate Genealogy: Research Your Family Tree on Wednesday evenings March 9 - 16 from 6:30 - 8:30 p.m. Marcia has confirmed that the time listed in the course catalog is in error, so NO, you don't have to be there at 6:30 in the morning. It IS an evening class. I took this class in March this year and these ladies do a fantastic job with lots of great examples! Cost is $25.

History of Lincoln and Lincoln's Suburbs

Lincoln historian Jim McKee will be teaching his History of Lincoln class on Wednesday evenings from 7:30 - 9:00 p.m. at Lefler School in Lincoln. The class covers the period from 1854 through the activation of the U.S. Army airbase for World War II. The class runs from January 12 - February 23. I'm in the current class and highly recommend it. Jim's photographs of early Lincoln and Lancaster county are fantastic. Cost is $49.

McKee's class on Lincoln Suburbs will be on Thursday evenings January 13 - February 3 from 7:30 p.m. - 9:00 p.m. This class will focus on University Place, Bethany, College View, Havelock, West Lincoln, Yankee Hill and Normal. Having spent much of my youth in the suburbs of Northeast Lincoln, I'm looking forward to taking this class. It will also be held at Lefler school. Cost is $29.

Friday, November 12, 2010

It's a Dog's Life - the Bellinger home

Jack Kelly
in front of the Bellinger house
Greenwood, Nebraska
I've been scanning a lot of old photos since getting my Flip-Pal mobile scanner a couple weeks ago. I had been looking through the boxes of old photographs in search of a full view of the Bellinger home in Greenwood, Nebraska and all I had been able to find only showed a limited view.

Then I came across this photo of my Grandpa Bill Kelly's last dog, Jack, sitting in front of the house. I would have taken this photo around 1966-67 while my grandfather was still living there.

From what I've been told, this was the home of John Bellinger, my great grandfather. The Kelly house was right across the street. John's daughter, Sina Bellinger, married my grandfather, Bill Kelly.

Bill and Sina Kelly lived in this house in the late 1940s. I've not verified how long or the years when they lived there.

Henrietta Beale and Sina Kelly
circa 1947

At left is a photo of Henrietta Loder Beale and my grandmother, Sina  Bellinger Kelly (they were cousins, but we always called Henrietta "Aunt Etty"). This photo was taken in the late 1940s and shows the west side of the house.

My Mom had told me that she had lived in this house with her parents, so I'm thinking that would have been in the early 1940s.

My Mom, Dad and I moved into the house with Grandpa Bill Kelly after Grandma Sina died in 1955. We lived there until 1960. Mom said that my bedroom had been her bedroom in the olden days.

Susan and Patricia Kelly Petersen

The third photo is me and Mom in the front yard of the house, circa 1957. This photo showed as much of the house as I could find until I came across the one of Jack the dog.

When we moved into the house was when indoor plumbing was first installed in the house. I remember the pantry being repurposed as a bathroom and a kitchen sink being put it. It sure beat pumping water and *ahem* using the outhouse! I keep thinking that I'm not that old to be able to remember a time without plumbing.

The house was torn down a few years ago. I always felt a little sad whenever I would drive along the highway and not see the house where I lived during my formative years. The house was run down after my grandfather died in 1968, so it's actually kind of surprising it remained standing as long as it did.

A couple years ago, a new house was built on the lot. Even though it isn't "our" house anymore, at least someone is still living on the land that I called home for five years.

Follow Friday: Around the Blogosphere - November 12

Yesterday, Veteran's Day, the genealogy bloggers were out in full force honoring the veterans in their family. These posts were full of love, respect, admiration and gratitude for what these men and women contributed to keep our country free.

It is literally impossible to select only a handful of these posts to feature in today's Around the Blogosphere, so I am providing a link to where all of these tributes are assembled via the Geneabloggers news feed. I encourage you to take time to read as many as you can.

Read all posts from A Day to Remember Veterans

Other blog posts that I enjoyed this week include:

Kerry Scott of Clue Wagon asked for help on identifying the use of a "hen in the nest" dish. Many people jumped in with their comments about dishes they had that were similar to this one.

Holly Hansen of Family History Expos did a nice piece on preparing to attend a genealogy conference. The Family History Expo is in Atlanta this weekend, so check out Facebook and Twitter (#fhexpo) for on-the-spot coverage from the Bloggers of Honor.

The Flip-Pal scanner is catching on like crazy in the genealogy community. Maureen Taylor writes about why she loves her Flip-Pal. I love mine, too!

John Reid of Anglo-Celtic Roots offers advice on the many genealogy ebooks available for Kindle. He advises what to watch out for when purchasing ebooks.

Becky Jamison is the blogger whose very personal project touched my heart deeply this week. On her Grace and Glory blog, she shared her project of compiling a family history book for her son and his birth mother. Then she shared the photos of presenting him with the books and his family tree. Becky's love and kindness shows through in these posts. These are the "must read" blog posts of the week. Hats off to Becky!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Thriller Thursday - attempted breakout at the Nebraska State Penitentiary

In recent months, one of my new found family treasures was an album of photographs that belonged to my grandmother, Ruby Pecht Petersen Baker. The photos were from her first marriage to Otto Petersen and included photographs of my father as a baby and toddler. So I've dated the photographs to be from the mid 1920s.

Among the photos of many family members and friends - the majority of whom are not known to me, were three photo postcards that seemed out of place in this collection of images of family gatherings.

Dummy Gun
Used by Fred Brown
In Attempted Outbreak
The text on this card reads: "Dummy Gun" Used by Fred Brown "The Chain Man" in attempted outbreak September 28, 1925. Nebraska State Prison.

Further research tells me that Fred Brown was a "notorious Omaha kidnapper" and that he and another prisoner of the Nebraska State Penitentiary in Lincoln, Roy Smith, attempted to break out of prison on September 28, 1925. Brown and a prison guard were killed. Smith and another guard were wounded. In earlier crimes, Brown's aliases were Gus Grimes and Ernest Bush.

Source: Lincoln Star, Lincoln, Nebraska, September 29, 1925, page 1.

The next photo postcard in my grandmother's album is one of Nebraska's electric chair. Between 1879 and 1913, convicted murderers who were sentenced to death in Nebraska were hanged. The first use of the electric chair in Nebraska was on December 20, 1920 when Allison Cole was executed. In all, 15 people have been executed in Nebraska's electric chair, including notorious mass murderer Charles Starkweather.

On February 8, 2008, the Nebraska Supreme Court declared electrocution as "cruel and unusual punishment." On May 28, 2009, the state legislature adopted lethal injection as its method of execution.

Source: Wikipedia

Nebraska State Penitentiary
Lincoln, Nebraska

The third and final photo postcard of this series in my grandmother's album is of the administration building at the Nebraska State Penitentiary in Lincoln.

The Lincoln Star
Lincoln, Nebraska
September 29, 1925
This post is not intended to solicit a discussion of the use of capital punishment. My curiosity centers around why my grandmother included these photo postcards in an album of family photographs. She was twenty years old and she and Otto Petersen were newlyweds, having been married less than one year at the time of this incident. Ten months after this incident, her first child, my father, would be born. At this time, I know of no known connection between the attempted prison break and my family. Perhaps it was just a representation of my grandmother's curiosity about a significant news event of the time.