Friday, December 31, 2010

December 31, 1930 - Happy New Year!

Source: Beatrice Daily Sun, Beatrice, Nebraska - December 31, 1930

Successful Weight Loss and Fitness Strategies for the Genealogist

Countdown to 2011!

You know what that means. The holidays and the parties did a number on you. The fit-em-all pants don't fit anymore. The TV is already blaring with ads for weight loss centers and exercise equipment. These ads guarantee you will drop 20 pounds in 20 days.

But did you know that there is a weight loss and fitness plan that is geared strictly for genealogists? Follow these simple strategies and you'll be well on your way to a healthy and fitter new you!

Trim the Fat from your family tree - Do you collect ancestors or do you collect family history stories? When you discuss your genealogy with others do you brag about the number of people in your database or do you share an interesting story? It might be time to stop following the leads on the ex-husbands of your third great aunt Tillie's fourth cousin and get back to working on your direct line ancestors and their immediate families. Ignore some of those green leaves that keep popping up on Researching those distant kin can sometimes help tear down those brick walls, but are you pursuing a family line that has no relevance to your personal history? Narrow your focus and find the stories about the people who are most relevant in your lineage.

Exercise! Exercise! Exercise! Get moving! Cemeteries are all around you and it's easy for your pedometer to click off 6,000 - 7,000 steps in an afternoon. Although you might become a bit distracted if you have your camera along and decide to start photographing tombstones. In that case, you might need to do a little weeding around the graves, removing old leaves and branches out of the picture. You can burn about 250 calories per hour of gardening. In other words, three hours of cemetery cleanup will burn off that Big Mac you had for lunch.

Tone Those Muscles - Keeping muscles toned via weight training is essential for everyone, especially those of us who are females and over a certain (ahem!) age. You don't need to visit the gym. You don't need to buy any expensive equipment. You can even do it in your local library! Just find two comparable sized 876 page county history books, put one in each hand and lift! lift! lift! Up! Up! Up! Work it! Work it! Can you feel the burn in your upper arms? If you're lucky, your research facility has multi floors, so forget the elevator and take the stairs as frequently as possible.

Blog - If you don't already have a blog, it's time to start. One minute of writing burns about one calorie. That's even fewer calories than you can burn while sleeping. So - to burn off one pound of fat, you only have to blog for about 58 hours! Piece of cake!

The Buddy System - You don't think you can handle this alone? Get a buddy to help you! Just think of all of the valuable research time you can miss out on by hanging out with your buddies on Facebook or Twitter. Not only that, you'll be helping them with their research goals, too!

Metabolism - everyone's metabolism is different, we all have a different genetic makeup. So make 2011 the year that you have some DNA testing done for your genealogy. After all, everyone knows that once you have your DNA tested and you get in the massive database, you'll receive all of these family trees and family group sheets in the mail - you won't have to spend any more time in the musty basements of those old courthouses!

There you have it! A sure fire plan for weight loss and fitness success in 2011! Happy New Year!

Follow Friday: Around the Blogosphere - December 31

It's time once again for Around the Blogosphere - my favorite posts from the genealogy blogs from the past week. This is the last Around the Blogosphere post for 2010.

The last few days, I have really enjoyed reading everyone's retrospectives of 2010 - their favorite blog posts, the highlights and successes of the year, as well as the goals and aspirations for 2011. It's the time of year to look back at where we've been, where we are and where we are headed.

So - in addition to all of those fantastic posts, here are a few others that struck my fancy this week.

52 Weeks of Online Digital Archives and Databases - Nebraska  - Miriam at AncesStories compiled this list of Nebraska resources which is fairly comprehensive. There were even a couple there I had not checked out before!

Every week, James Tanner at Genealogy's Star usually has at least one post that makes my list. This week it was Who Owns Your Genealogy? and Other Misconceptions. I also enjoyed his take on genealogy education on Why Conferences?

Barbara Poole at Life From the Roots provided some very interesting examples of digital images by comparing the differences between a scan of a photocopy of a document and a digital photograph of the document. Both had very good clarity. Take a look and decide for yourself on Scan or Photo?

Midge Frazel of Granite in My Blood totally rocks when it comes to organizing her stuff! A week ago she shared the Grid-It organizer from Cocoon. This week she shows us her Mobile Warrior Kit - her new Flip-Pal mobile scanner and accessories. Midge continues to inspire me to do something to better organize all of my gadgets, cords and batteries!

Travis LeMaster of TJL Genes shared his template for building his 2011 research template. He's done a nice job of organizing the "essentials" in his plan and it's worth taking a look at.

As I read Amy Coffin's wrap up post, Thanks for Playing, about the 52 Weeks to Better Genealogy blogging and research challenges, I was sad to see this geneablogger feature come to an end. I didn't participate every week, but there were times that the challenges really kicked me in gear to learn and try something new. The last paragraph is the Best! Amy has something new in store for us in 2011 and she's keeping it under wraps until it is announced on I can hardly wait to see what Amy has planned for us!

And there were some photographs that made me smile this week.

Midge Frazel shared her parent's wedding photo on Granite in My Blood.

The Saturday Night Bath by Kellie on She Finds Graves.

Oscar Wilde: Sun and Snow - captured on On a Flesh and Bone Foundation.

Other bloggers also offer their recommendations and weekly highlights. Check their recommended reading lists:

Randy Seaver's Best of the Geneablogs on Geneamusings.

Greta's Follow Friday on Greta's Genealogy Blog.

Elizabeth O'Neal's Best Bytes on Little Bytes of Life.

My Favorites Posts from 2010

Yesterday, I shared the list of the LongLostRelatives blog posts with the most readership in 2010.

Today, I'll be a bit more indulgent and share the list of my favorite blog posts that I wrote during the year. As expected, most of these are more personal and family-related.

Family Stories and Memories

The Women in My Family Tree - Patricia Landon Kelly Petersen - a tribute to my Mom, who died in 1983 at age 55.

What If Your Ancestor Was an Axe Murderer? - it's always interesting to find those skeletons in the closet. This year I discovered that my 3rd great grandfather killed his daughter and then committed suicide. I know there is more to the story and I need to track down some more newspaper articles on this event from Valentine's Day, 1851.

Success Stories: When the Pieces Come Together  I had some photographs in an album of my great grandmother, Minnie Welch Kelly. By continuing my attempts to decipher the handwriting on the photos and entering numerous variations of a surname in, my work finally paid off when I discovered that her sister Agnes married Clarence Garrigus, which led me to a lot of information on Agnes and Clarence's family.

The Bellinger Family History as Related by John Bellinger - this is the transcription of a letter originally penned by my great grandfather, John William Bellinger, about his revolutionary war ancestors. The family lore doesn't quite match up with what really happened, but it's an interesting story anyway.

Batter Up! the baseball players in my family - if there's a theme among my ancestors, it's farming, carpentry and baseball!

Success Story! Jeremiasen - Petersen immigration record - One of my brick walls came tumbling down once I upped the ante and got the World membership at My Petersen-Jeremiasen family immigrated via Quebec and I was finally able to make the connection to their roots in Denmark. To date, this is my first and only solid jump across the pond to my European ancestors.

Sunday Supper - homemade ice cream - it was fun reminiscing and sharing the story of the Great Ice Cream Scandal of 1959.

If You Can Read This, Thank a Teacher - Miss Bess Bowen - not a family member, but a woman who contributed to my education and love of learning - my teacher for kindergarten and grades one and two.

Create Your Own Genealogy Conference - I was a bit jealous of the folks attending the Jamboree in California last summer and was living vicariously through their Facebook messages and blog posts. So I came up with the idea of doing a Create Your Own Genealogy conference using resources and learning tools available on the Internet.

Those were my favorite posts of the year. What will 2011 bring?

Thursday, December 30, 2010

52 Weeks to Better Genealogy - Challenge 51 - Goals for 2011

Sina Harriet Bellinger Kelly
On New Year's Day, I'll be posting my "Bucket List" for 2011. I'm much more comfortable with that approach than coming up with some New Year's resolutions or a lengthy To Do list with items that may never get checked off.

Week 51 of the 52 Weeks to Better Genealogy, a series of prompts created for the geneablogging community by Amy Coffin of We Tree Genealogy, offers this challenge:

Think about the goals you want to accomplish next year and write them down. What research steps do you want to take? What records would you like to find? Think about the brick walls you’d like knocked down. 

In August, I wrote a post called Getting to Know My Grandmother after having been inspired by Lisa Alzo's presentation on Finding Your Female Ancestors at the Midwest Family History Expo in Kansas City. Something she said still resonates with me: "Give voice to the stories of the silent women from our past."

It was then that I realized there wasn't a whole lot that I know about my grandmother, Sina Harriet Bellinger Kelly. I have memories of her, even though she died when I was just five years old. I want 2011 to be the year when I get to know her better.

To accomplish this, I will gather all the photographs I have of her. There aren't that many because she had a habit of cutting her face out of photographs! I am optimistic that reading through the microfilm versions of the Greenwood Gazette (Greenwood, Nebraska) at the Nebraska State Historical Society will yield some newspaper articles that might give me some insight to her daily life and social interactions. I will seek out a copy of the record of her marriage to my grandfather, William Leroy Kelly.

Since I wanted to change the look of for 2011, I changed the header. It was a conscious decision to put a photograph of 17 year old Sina Bellinger at the top of the page - as a daily reminder to me about the major research goal I want to accomplish during the year.

Most Viewed Blog Posts of the Year

As 2010 draws to a close, all of the media seems to be doing a "year in review" and I thought it would be interesting to see what blog posts on had the most views during the year - at least since the time that Blogger began tracking this information in May.

It was no surprise to me that the posts that were most popular with my readers were not those about my family or my discoveries or success stories, but rather those posts that were of more general interest to the genealogist-at-large. Product reviews seemed to get the most readership on this blog.

Coming out at the top of the list, tied with the same number of views, were the two-parts of my review of the Flip-Pal Mobile Scanner. About one fourth of the people who viewed these posts were referred via the link to this blog from Flip-Pal's official site.

Flip-Pal Review - Miracle in Minutes - Part 1

Flip Pal Review - Part 2

Several weeks ago, I changed the focus of my Follow Friday blog posts to what I call "Around the Blogosphere." Each week, I label my favorite posts in my Google Reader, review each of those posts on Friday and select the ones I enjoyed the most to share in this feature. The post receiving the most views in this category was from the December 24 edition. This was clearly due to the fact that Randy Seaver of Geneamusings took the week off from his "Best of . . ." series and referred people over here and to Greta's Genealogy Blog. Thanks, Randy! I also appreciate it that Randy always spells my last name correctly! A good trait for a genealogist!

The next two most viewed posts had to do with my enthusiasm for using the Kindle e-Book reader for genealogy:

The original post, Kindle for Genealogy appeared in September and last week, I posted Kindle for Genealogy Redux when I discovered another use for the Kindle so that I can carry my charts and family group sheets - and photos - on my Kindle.

Another Follow Friday post that received a lot of traffic was my review of five of Family Tree magazines best free web sites. That was a fun task for me - to test drive some web sites I had not visited before, see what they had to offer and share my findings with blog readers.

Next on the list was an article I wrote about managing and organizing digital files. I need to re-read that one myself because it seems like I have files and folders all over my various computer drives the last couple months. I need to take my own advice!

Another in the most visited list was my post on the first blogiversary of I worked on this post for several weeks because I knew it would be a one-time post and I really wanted to include the highlights of the year. So many incredible things have occurred this year in my genealogy and blogging world and I wanted to share my excitement and enthusiasm with my new found friends. My thanks to everyone who read the post and left their congratulatory comments. Those really meant a lot to me.

A post I wrote called Why Do Singles Do Genealogy? also created some great discussion among blog readers.

Where do readers of live?

Don't worry. Blogger doesn't tell me WHO you are or specifically where you live. It just provides statistics on the countries of origin of site visitors. Also not surprising is that the overwhelming number of blog readers reside in the United States, followed by the U.K., South Korea, Russia, Germany, Australia, Netherlands, Slovenia, and Malta.

I get by with a little help from my friends

Many blog readers wind up here by clicking on a link from another site. Topping the list of referring URLs is my own domain, - no surprise there.

Next, I once again give a tip of the hat to Randy Seaver of Geneamusings for sending visitors my way. I appreciate that Randy includes a link to my Around the Blogosphere list each week, but even more exciting is when Randy selects one of my posts for his "Best of . . ." lists. I've made that a time or two this year, so getting Randy's seal of approval is always a thrill. Thanks, Randy!

I've already mentioned that the Flip-Pal mobile scanner web site's link to my review of their product brings a lot of traffic to the blog.

The next site that sends readers my way is Geneabloggers. I am forever grateful to Thomas MacEntee for all he does for the growing community of people who write genealogy blogs. He is always available to answer my questions - especially those having to do with his area of expertise - technology and social networking. He is also a lot of fun in person. Thanks, Thomas, your support has really meant a great deal to me this year.

Last, and certainly not least, in the sites sending traffic here is Family History Expos. I was honored to have been selected as a blogger of honor for the Midwest Family History Expo in Kansas City in July. It was an amazing opportunity to meet my fellow bloggers and make new friends. Holly Hansen and her team do a great job with these regional genealogy conferences and I'm looking forward to meeting up with the gang again in Overland Park in 2011. Thanks, Holly, and FHE!

2010 has been a wild ride and I am thankful for everyone who reads - whether it be on a regular basis or for that one post that strikes your fancy. It's truly a labor of love and I'd do it even if I was the only one reading it. Knowing that something I've written has helped inform or educate another person makes this truly rewarding. And, of course, there were those numerous long lost relatives with whom I connected this year. That was the best part of all.

Thanks again to readers of this blog. I look forward to another eventful 2011!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak to speak Live via Skype to Stromsburg Nebraska

Noted genealogist Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak will will present "Cold Cases: Genealogists, Coroners and the FBI" for the Stromsburg Library in Stromsburg, Nebraska live via Skype. The event will take place at 7:00 p.m. central, March 28, 2011 at the Stromsburg Public Library, 320 Central Street, Stromsburg, Nebraska.

For Megan's complete speaking schedule, please visit:

For more information contact the Stromsburg Public Library.

Oprah Winfrey Network features genealogist looking for long lost family

From the Oprah Winfrey Network - beginning January 1

TV shows on the Oprah Winfrey Network - OWN TV:

"Viewers are in for an intensely personal and emotional ride as cameras follow Professional Investigative Genealogist Pam Slaton and her clients through the step-by-step journey of 'Searching For' a lost loved one. Each searcher's story is vastly different and the unpredictable and emotionally charged outcomes range through joyous reunion, painful rejection, or tragic loss. Pam has an 85% success rate, follows a strict 'no find, no pay' policy, and is one of the most sought-after Professional Searchers in the country."

UPDATE: Looking For . . . web page

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Sunday Supper - Community Cookbooks - Part 1 - Esther Petersen Wyatt

Before tossing out any old and worn out community cookbooks, make sure that you look through them for recipes from your relatives! My Dad managed to salvage the 1950 Hardy, Nebraska American Legion Auxiliary Cookbook from my stack of cookbooks I had planned to donate to charity! Thank goodness he looked through them first! This cookbook included not just recipes from my family members, but also photographs of them.

Quick Creamed Potatoes and Meat 

Relationship to me: Aunt Esther is Esther Petersen Wyatt, sister of my grandfather, Otto Petersen. About 20 years ago, Aunt Esther was my guide through the cemeteries in Nuckolls county, Nebraska and Republic county, Kansas, to photograph the graves of many of my ancestors.

See other recipes on this blog

Sunday's Obituary - Tilson Sanford Laymon

T.S. Laymon
Hardy City Cemetery
Hardy, Nebraska
Death has again entered our midst this time calling a dear brother, T.S. Laymon, the oldest son of John and Eliza Laymon. He was born in Grundy county, Illinois, on February 11, 1863, and died at Havelock, Nebr.; November 8, 1925, being at the time of death 62 years, 8 months and 27 days of age. He was united in marriage on February 12, 1898, to Miss Alvaretta McPherren. To this union were born three sons and one daughter. He leaves behind him a wife, three sons: Ray S. of Sheridan, Wyoming; Arthur H. and Howard E. Also one daughter, Venus A. of Havelock; also an aged mother, three brothers: George W. of Hardy, Nebr.; Herbert H. and Frank E. of Sheridan, Wyoming, and one sister: Clara Pecht of Hardy. His father and two sisters preceded him to the great beyond. -- Hardy Herald

Source: The Nelson Gazette, Nelson, Nebraska, Thursday, November 26, 1925
Relationship to me: great grand uncle; brother of my great grandmother, Clara Rosella Laymon Pecht

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Lincoln-Lancaster County Genealogical Society announces 2011 Programs

The Lincoln-Lancaster County Genealogical Society (LLCGS) has announced its program schedule for 2011.

January 11 - Collecting Oral Histories on Our 35th Anniversary
New Year's resolutions may very likely include finding more information about your ancestors. An excellent way to do that is to plan opportunities to collect oral histories. Mary Kay Quinlan from the UNL College of Journalism and Mass Communications and a Nebraska Humanities Council speaker, will discuss effective methods of gathering oral histories and share some she has done. Bring your notebook to jot down ideas and to list people from your tree you may wish to contact in 2011. We'll also explore collecting oral histories about our society to celebrate our 35th year and enjoy cocoa and donuts in commemoration of the society's first organizational meeting.

February 8 - Tracing Our Elusive Ancestors
"Cluster Research" Are you having trouble with that one elusive ancestor? Cluster research techniques might help you! Marcia Stewart will help us learn how to use family artifacts, such as letters and postcards, and re-use some standard resources to piece together the "cluster" with which your ancestor existed. A cluster includes friends, neighbors, associates, and extended family. Researching the cluster will provide good insights into your ancestor's life and perhaps unearth a few good leads.

March 8 - Preserving Photos
If you're able to locate photos belonging to other family members and would like to safely copy them or have discovered some of your own genealogical records in need of TLC, join us for a presentation on copying, restoring and preserving photos and documents. Karen Keehr, Curator of the Visual and Audio Collections at the Nebraska State Historical Society will present practical advice for preserving, labeling and storing those treasured items.

April 12 - Courthouses, a Source of Old Records
LLCGS survey results indicated an interest in locating naturalization records, land records, vital records, school records etc. Many of them can be found in courthouses. Learn about the history of courthouses in Nebraska from UNO Professor and Nebraska Humanities Council speaker, Dr. Oliver Pollak. In addition we'll have helpful information to take home for doing research at courthouses. We'll also plan a visit to local sites with records for a "hands on" experience in finding records.

May 10 - Tour the LLCGS Library, a treasure worth exploring
LLCGS members have added useful resources that are being combined with gifts from the Nebraska State Historical Society and placed among Union College references available at the Ella Johnson Crandall Memorial Library. Bring along a notebook to jot down references you'll want to come back and check after our tour. We'll divide up into groups to facilitate group sizes where everyone can see and hear. We'll learn about books, periodicals, atlases, indexes and a variety of resources.

June 14 - Finding and Documenting Resources
Learn tips from researchers on what to take with you and how to search efficiently through records, microfilm and old newspapers. Then discover ways to document and save findings whether on paper or electronically. We'll also make plans for a research opportunity at the Nebraska State Historical Society on the following Saturday morning, June 18.

July 12 - Civil War Research
Ed Zimmer, PhD, returns to present a view of the Civil War through the lens of Wyuka Cemetery. We'll also have materials and resources about the Civil War that will assist in researching ancestors involved in the Civil War.

August 9 - An LLCGS "Family Reunion" 35 Years
Let's celebrate our heritage. We'll review the genealogy of LLCGS and its membership since 1976. Then we'll do what our "LLCGS ancestors" did in 1976 and take time to find out what genealogical interests and goals everyone has and learn more about our current LLCGS family.

September 13 - Internet Research
How can we use the internet to help do research? What are your favorite websites, message boards, blogs, query lists, free and commercial sites? We'll highlight sites used and recommended by our members. Watch the newsletter and emails for requests to share your favorite sites before the September meeting so we can use them in the presentation.

October 2 - Family History Month Fair
(Note change of date and location.) Organizing and preserving our work was a topic receiving many votes on our survey. We'll collect favorite techniques and display them at a fair for genealogists to exchange ideas during Family History Month. We'll also obtain some legal advice regarding ideas for preserving our work when we've become an "ancestor". To facilitate a display of various techniques, we needed another location so we're meeting nearby at College View Seventh - Day Adventist Church at 48th and Prescott where there is ample, convenient meeting space and parking. And, to make it easier for our own members and visitors from other societies in the area to attend, we're meeting before dark on a Sunday afternoon.
November 8 - They Went West
Early U.S. Migration Routes by Water, Trails, and Rails. Did you ever find the ultimate book containing your family’s history – only to discover that your branch “went west” and there was no other information provided? Such is the case for many of our families that left eastern states to travel across this vast country to finally settle in the plains states. Phyllis Ericson will lead an exploration of the reasons for migration, the main routes used, and strategies for tracing the migrations of our ancestors.

December 13 - Will DNA Records Help Us Find Answers?
What answers can be discovered by DNA studies? Where do genes fit in genealogy?

Meetings are held at 7:15 p.m. at the Lower Level Theater, Dick Administration Building, Union College Campus, 3800 S. 48th St., Lincoln, Nebraska unless otherwise noted.

For other genealogy meetings, conferences in eastern Nebraska, visit the calendar.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Follow Friday: Around the Blogosphere - December 24

The following are some of my favorites posts from the genealogy blogs from the past week.

Barbara Poole of Life From the Roots continued the fascinating story of Delight Adams Benham. And it all started with just a name.

Margel at 2338 N Washington Blvd has shared a great story and photos of a "portable graveyard" - you must see this one to believe it!

You never know what you might find along with documents at the National Archives - but a MOLE? Check it out at NARA's Prologue: Pieces of History.

Is interest in genealogy waning? Search results might say so. Read the statistics from Jirene's Genealogy Tips.

One of the best personal stories (and photo essay) I've read in a long time is this profile of Tom D, shared on the Family Epic blog.

James Tanner of Genealogy's Star hits the mark once again with Finding Your Way: GPS for Genealogists.

Bill West of West in New England gave some points to ponder in his post What is the Worth of a Genealogy Blog?

Thanks to a link from Randy Seaver's "best of" list last week, I've discovered several personal history blogs that I subscribed to this week. The Top 10 personal history blogs are featured by Dan Curtis on his Professional Personal Historian blog.

Bloggers will also be interested in another post by Dan Curtis called What Everybody Ought to Know About a Successful Blog.

Family Oral History While Using Digital Tools had two great blog posts: Interviewing While Looking a Photo Albums, Part 1 and Part 2.

For past selections for Around the Blogosphere, click here.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Kindle for Genealogy: Redux

JPG to Word to PDF
In September, I wrote about using the Amazon Kindle ebook reader for genealogy - primarily discussing genealogy books that have been formatted for the Kindle and transferring public domain books from Google Books to the Kindle.

Since my Kindle is always in my purse, it seemed like it was time to kick it up a notch (as Emeril Lagasse would say) and discover some more uses of the Kindle for genealogy.

The Kindle actually functions as a high capacity USB drive that can be connected to the USB port on your computer. Adobe PDF files are one of the many file formats that are compatible with the Kindle. That means that any file that can be converted to PDF can be transferred to your Kindle.

I use Microsoft Word for creating word processing documents. Any Word file can easily be converted to the PDF format once you download and install the Microsoft Add-In Save as PDFIt's a quick download, automatically installs in the entire suite of Microsoft products and it's Free! If you don't have this Add-In already, you definitely need it. Being able to convert files to PDF format really makes file sharing quick and easy because just about everyone has the Adobe Reader on their computer.

In the illustration above, I started with a jpg image file that I inserted into a Word document. I then saved the Word document to a PDF file, then copied the PDF file from my computer to my Kindle via the USB port. This only took a couple minutes. If you have numerous photos you would like to put on your Kindle for reference, you can easily insert one photo per page into Word and follow the same process. You will then have a multi page PDF document that you can scroll through on your Kindle.

Carry all of your Descendant Charts, Family Group Sheets and other reports on your Kindle

I use Family Tree Maker 2011 to manage my genealogy database. Within this software, I'm able to create a variety of printed reports. For me, the most used are the Descendant Chart and the Family Group Sheet. Family Tree Maker allows me to export these reports to a PDF file. I'm not that familiar with other software packages, but I imagine they have a similar feature (please comment below if you can provide information about other software packages).

Descendant Chart on my Kindle (landscape view)

In my Family Tree Maker software, I created a descendant chart on my great great grandfather, John Crispin Pecht, and within a couple minutes, the report was created.

I selected the "Export to PDF" option and in a minute or so, my PDF file was completed. I plugged in my Kindle to the USB port on my computer and copied the file.

Once my files are on my Kindle, I can organize them by Collections. In PC terms, that would be equivalent to creating a folder. The file names within that Collection (folder) are displayed. I can select the file I want to view on my Kindle.

The default display on the Kindle is full page, but since the font is too small for me to read the PDF file comfortably, I can change the orientation to landscape and I can easily read and scroll through my file. The Kindle also has a zoom feature which you may use. Since my report is in PDF format, the document is also fully searchable. So if I'm looking for a descendant named Ruby, I can use the Kindle keyboard and type in Ruby and locate all references to that name. That makes it very easy to find the information I am looking for.

As you add more information to your family tree, you can simply create new reports, export or save them as PDF files and transfer them to your Kindle, replacing the old file.

There are many advantages to putting your genealogy reports on your Kindle. Number one is portability. I thought my netbook and Flip-Pal scanner were the greatest things ever for portability and convenience. And they still are. But I don't carry those with me every day. By using my Kindle, I really can have as many genealogy reports as I want with me all the time. I already have 205 books on my Kindle and have barely used any of the storage space on the device. My Kindle Wi-Fi has the capacity for 3,500 books, so there's plenty of room left for me to upload as many genealogy reports as I will ever need.

I have no doubt that other genealogists also experience moments of spontaneity as I do - and discover you aren't prepared because you haven't really planned a research trip. But an idea strikes you as you are driving by a library, court house or cemetery and  you think, "I should stop there and look up . . ." But you don't have your database or binder or research notes with you. By putting your genealogy reports on your Kindle, you can have that information with you all the time and be able to take advantage of those spontaneous moments.

Having these reports on your Kindle is also handy when you meet up with family members. You can look up the information on the spot, even when you don't have your laptop or netbook with you.

Even though I've demonstrated how you can put family photos on your Kindle, I will acknowledge that there are other portable devices that are more appropriate for carrying around digital versions of your family photos. I just wanted to point out that it can be done.

Copying my genealogy reports to my Kindle gives me yet another option in my genealogy toolbox. Please share your experiences using the Kindle for genealogy in the Comments section below. I'd love to hear other ideas for using this device to aid in genealogy research.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Bloggers Do It Better - Happy Holidays from

Personalize funny videos and birthday eCards at JibJab!
With my blogger buddies from the Family History Expo in K.C.
You know who you are! now available in mobile format

The blog is now available in mobile format for mobile devices. My thanks to Elizabeth O'Neal for pointing out this feature on her Little Bytes of Life blog. Please see Elizabeth's blog post for details on how to make your blog mobile accessible. She's done a great job explaining this.

Sunday's Obituary - Ida Ann Laymon-Weir

Mrs. Ida Ann Layman-Weir, who died Nov. 9, 1921 at her home in White Rock township, brief mention of which was made in last week's issue, was born in Grundy county, Illinois, and came to Kansas in 1879, with her parents, locating in White Rock township, Republic county, Kansas, where she lived at the time of her death at the age of 54 years and 3 months. She was married Jan. 10, 1892 to Chas. C. Weir, and they were blessed with two children, Roy Weir, at home, and Mrs. Ethyl E. Thomas of Union Valley, Republic county, Kansas. Her father and mother, John and Eliza Laymon, living at Hardy, Nebr., also survive her as does also one sister, Mrs. Clara R. Pecht, of Hardy, Nebr., and four brothers, Geo. W. Layman, of Hardy, Nebr., T. S. Laymon, of Fairfield, Nebr., and Frank and Herbert Laymon, of Sheridan, Wyoming. Three grandchildren and a host of other relatives and friends also mourn the death of a noble woman in the death of Mrs. Weir. Elder W. P. Jewett of Courtland, conducted the funeral, which as under the direction of A. Haskett, of Courtland. A mixed quartette of singers, made up of old neighbors of the deceased, Messrs. Myres and Curtis and Mrs. Myers and Mrs. Osborne, sang impressive hymns and she was buried in the Mount Pleasant cemetery.

Source: Belleville Telescope and Belleville Freeman, Belleville, Kansas, November 24, 1921, page 8.
Note: The family name is spelled Laymon; the spelling of Layman as published in the newspaper is retained from the original article.
Relationship to me: great grand aunt; sister of my great grandmother, Clara Rosella Laymon Pecht

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Family History Expos returning to Kansas City area in July

It's not yet listed on the Family History Expos web site, but since it IS listed in FHE's ad in the current issue of Family Tree Magazine, I'm going to go ahead and mention it here.

The Family History Expo will be returning to the Kansas City area again next summer with an Expo scheduled for July 29 - 30, 2011 in Overland Park, Kansas.

It's on my calendar, so I plan to be there. I'm pretty sure I've got confirmations from at least two of last year's bloggers who will plan to return for a Blogger Reunion at the Expo.

Thanks to Holly and her team at Family History Expos for making a return trip to the midwest!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Update on Who Do You Think You Are

Original post

NBC's news release yesterday regarding the celebrities who will appear on Season Two of Who Do You Think You Are includes a celebrity who was not originally listed in the lineup: Oscar winner Gwyneth Paltrow. This is definitely a nice addition to the series, as Gwyneth can at least be classified as a A-list star.

Previously named for Season 2 are: Tim McGraw, Lionel Richie, Ashley Judd, Steve Buscemi, Vanessa Williams, Rosie O'Donnell and Kim Cattrall.

Follow Friday: Around the Blogosphere - December 17

Here are my favorite blog posts from the genealogy bloggers from the past week.

From footnoteMaven: Making Your Way Online Today Takes Everything You've Got. I always appreciate it when fM tells it like it is.

From Deep Web to Deep Dust by Debbie Parker Wayne on Deb's Delvings in Genealogy - getting behind the walls of the internet to find information you seek.

Sorry there's such a short list this week - most of this week's blog posts dealt with Christmas advent calendar postings and a magazine contest for the best genealogy blogs.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

What You Can Do With 20 Minutes

Quite often, I'll find myself up early in the morning - after a quick check of blog posts in my reader and Facebook messages from my fellow genealogists, I'm faced with a few uncommitted minutes before I need to get ready for work. This is when I will turn to my family tree on and select one of those leaves that tells me I have a hint or two about someone in my tree.

That's what happened yesterday morning as I checked the information on the siblings of my great grandmother. I didn't have much information on one of her brothers whose last entry was the 1930 census in Sheridan, Wyoming. I turned to Google, typed in his name and "Sheridan Wyoming." Among the first hits was a reference to his burial at the Sheridan Municipal Cemetery. There were several other people buried there with the same surname.

Next step: There were listings for him and his wife. I clicked. There was a photo of their tombstone, with the years of their births and deaths. There was one other name on the stone - that of their son. And there was room for a fourth name, not yet added.

I entered this information on Ancestry. I returned to Google and entered the name of the son. These search results told me that his wife just died in April of this year at the age of 90. There were several references to online obituaries for this relative who Ancestry informed me is the wife of my first cousin, twice removed. I clicked. There was her beautiful, smiling face, from her younger years, on the screen.

Her obituary told me where she lived when she died, when and where she was born, the names of her parents, the high school and college she attended (and the years), the date she married her husband, the names of her children and grandchildren, names of her brother and sister, where she attended church, a story of how she helped her husband through five battles with cancer, and her 45 year career in nursing.

Her obituary states that she enjoyed her achievements and worked hard with her husband to create a complete, balanced and very happy life for her family.

Her name is the one waiting to be placed on the tombstone that is pictured on FindAGrave.

That's what I was able to learn in just under 20 minutes yesterday morning. Twenty minutes gave me three generations of a family I knew nothing about when I started.

Note: because this woman's death is so recent, I have opted not to list any names here out of respect for the privacy of her and her immediate family. To write such a wonderful obituary, it strikes me that there is a lot of love and respect there and it sounds like she was a much loved and respected woman.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Lineup for Who Do You Think You Are is Disappointing

NBC has announced that the new season of Who Do You Think You Are will feature the following celebrities: Tim McGraw, Lionel Richie, Ashley Judd, Steve Buscemi, Vanessa Williams, Rosie O'Donnell and Kim Cattrall.

Hopefully, their ancestors will be more interesting than this group - although Steve Buscemi might provide the most interesting show (or maybe I have him confused with his character in Fargo). And, with any luck, Ashley Judd's sister and mother will not be on the show.

I'll still be tuning it - the star of the show, after all, is family history research.

Monday, December 13, 2010

First Blogiversary of Long Lost

Breaking Through Brick Walls
Is Like Icing on the Cake
It hardly seems possible that I've been blogging about my family history quest for a year.

My original idea about the blog was to post queries or "looking for" messages about ancestors and long lost relatives who had become brick walls. My first post, one year ago today, was a query searching for my mother's cousin, Evelyn Bellinger Gibbons. I still have not tied up the loose ends on that search. But I have found the source of her husband's obituary and his burial location, so I'm not too far away.

It didn't take me long to begin sharing the old family photographs, stories and obituaries on the blog. Then I added information about genealogy events in Nebraska. As my Tombstone Tuesday postings increased, I decided to start another blog of my tombstone photographs with a title that aptly describes it, Nothing But Tombstones.

Shortly after I started my blog, I discovered the Geneabloggers blog, managed by the one and only Thomas MacEntee. I was welcomed with open arms by the geneablogging community, and had about a dozen followers sign up within the first few days of my blog being announced by Thomas. Then I got hooked on following my fellow bloggers to see what they were writing about - and learning more and more about genealogy resources and research.

I had dabbled on Facebook before, but decided to focus my Facebook presence primarily on genealogy. I sent friend requests to a few people who I already knew, introduced myself as a genealogist to others with the same interest and my online network started to grow.

The Year in Review

Looking back over the past year, my genealogical world has literally exploded with new found friendships, contacts and distant (and not-so-distant) relatives.

Some of the highlights of the past 12 months:
  • Selecting some of my favorite photographs from my personal collection to share on the blog. Every picture tells a story (remember the old Rod Stewart album of that name?).
  • In January, I took a risk and posted What if Your Ancestor Was a Axe Murderer? - a rather disturbing tale of my 3rd great grandfather killing his teenage daughter and then committing suicide.
  • Genealogy hit mainstream television with NBC's Who Do You Think You Are? and PBS' Faces of America. We all tuned in and it seemed like the number of people researching their family history at least quadrupled overnight.
  • Through shirt-tail kin who I had "met" online, I first saw a photograph of the tombstone of my great-great grandparents, Mark Welch and Sarah Conneally in Litchfield, Connecticut. By deciphering some penmanship and discovering the correct spelling of a surname, I connected one of Mark and Sarah's daughters, Agnes, to the Garrigus family and a wealth of stories and discoveries on FindAGrave emerged.
  • The floodgates opened once I made the connection to my great-great grandfather's brother, Daniel Kelly, whose family remained primarily in St. Paul, Minnesota. A research trip to Ramsey county and a stroll down Summit Avenue is definitely in my future.
  • In March, I took a two session class taught by local genealogists Marcia Stewart and Cynthia Monroe. Tips from the class helped me get out of my comfort zone and try additional research methods.
  • Spring came and that meant some field trips to Wyuka Cemetery and Calvary Cemetery in Lincoln (Nebraska) and Rose Hill Cemetery in Waverly. Later in the summer was an excursion to Sheffer Pioneer Cemetery between Greenwood and Ashland, Nebraska. The cemetery had not yet been added to the FindAGrave site, so I added the cemetery to their database and added the photos of the graves I was able to document. My photographs on FindAGrave became the largest collection of photos of Sheffer Pioneer Cemetery to be housed in one online location. Since then, I've been able to transfer several of the memorials over to the direct descendants of some of those pioneers buried there.
  • On St. Patrick's Day, I attended a wonderful presentation by the Ulster Historical Foundation on Irish and Scots-Irish research.
  • In May, I attended the two-day conference of the Nebraska State Genealogical Society in Norfolk, Nebraska, featuring two fantastic days of lectures presented by Paula Stuart Warren, who immediately became one of my genealogical heroes.
  • In May, I also made my first jump across the pond. Who would have ever thought that my Danish ancestors would be my first European connection? In Danish naming tradition, the surname changes every generation! I had resigned myself to never being able to go back to a prior generation. The Jeremiasens had been elusive to me in immigration records and passenger lists on - until I splurged for Ancestry's world membership and within a few days, I found the Jeremiasens arrival record via Quebec! Shortly thereafter, I found the Jeremiasens in the Danish online database.
  • Enter the power of social networking. I was following William Smith's Dr. Bill Tells Ancestor Stories blog and we are Facebook friends. He had commented on a photograph of the Midwest Genealogy Center in Kansas City that was posted by Jenna Mills and a reference to the upcoming Midwest Family History Expo in July. Within a day I was registered to attend!
  • I was invited to be a Blogger of Honor at the Midwest Family History Expo. Wow! I would be blogging and posting to Facebook about my experiences at the Expo.Within ten minutes after the opening session, I found myself at the Beacon of Bloggers area and my Facebook friends suddenly became my real life friends - Thomas MacEntee of Geneabloggers and Destination Austin Family, Jenna Mills of Desperately Seeking Surnames, Diana Ritchie of Random Relatives, the previously mentioned Dr. Bill, Lisa Alzo, Cheri Hopkins (aka You Go Genealogy Girl #2), Gena Philibert Ortega of Gena's Genealogy. That weekend went by entirely too fast!
Blogger Get Together at Family History Expo in Kansas City
Diana Ritchie, Thomas MacEntee, yours truly, Jenna Mills
photo copyright 2010 Jenna Mills
used with permission
  • October was Family History Month and that meant a full day with John Colletta at the Lincoln-Lancaster County Genealogical Society fall conference  and another full day at the Greater Omaha Genealogical Society fall conference two weeks later. It also marked the beginning of a six week course on the history of Lincoln (Nebraska) taught by local historian Jim McKee. It was very insightful to be able to place my family in context with local history. I suppose I'm one of the fortunate genealogists who lives in the same county where my family has planted roots for nearly 140 years. The streets where my ancestors worked and lived are all around me.
  • October also marked the arrival of what I believe is the best product to hit the marketplace for genealogists in ages - the Flip-Pal Mobile Scanner. I've made no secret of my enthusiasm for this product. I'm a scanning fool! My other product recommendation this year is to use the Kindle e-reader for genealogy. I'm now carrying thousands of pages of local history books in my purse all the time. I'll confess that I also use my Kindle for some game-playing - probably more than I should!
  • November brought a new adventure when I decided to have my DNA tested at 23andMe. Fellow bloggers Joan Miller and Carole Riley and I decided to become DNA testing buddies. We'll be blogging about our experiences and serve as support for one another as we go through the process. Of the three of us, I probably have the most to learn, since I know nothing about the science of this process. We are located in different countries - Joan in Canada, Carole in Australia and me in the United States, so I think it will be interesting to see what kind of migratory patterns emerge for each of us. You can keep up on our adventure as well as read other pertinent blog posts on the subject by following this RSS feed.
  • I love reading the blogs written by other genealogists and recently made the Follow Friday theme a regular feature on this blog with Around the Blogosphere - a review of my favorite posts from the geneabloggers from the previous week. I have learned so much from the rest of you this year!
It's been a fun-filled and eventful year in my genealogy and blogging world. My heart-felt thanks to everyone who has posted comments on this blog or personally contacted me. The genealogy community is by far the most friendly and helpful group of people with whom I've ever been associated. My thanks to my blog readers, followers, my Facebook friends and Twitter followers. Who would have ever believed I'd be using Twitter after my "Bye Bye Blue Birdie" post!

So, is this post a bit self-indulgent? Of course! It's okay, I'm only going to have a First Blogiversary once. Many thanks to all of the wonderful people I've networked with during the past year. You helped me get here.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Sunday's Obituary - Carlton Park Ruth

The following is the obituary of a long lost relative who came to light yesterday via searching on We share the same ancestors, George Pecht and Rachel Hartsock. The couple were his great-grandparents and they are my third great grandparents.

Carlton Park Ruth's parents were Edward Ruth and Edna Hutchinson. His grandparents were Samuel Hutchinson and Martha J. Pecht. Martha was the daughter of George Pecht and Rachel Hartsock. Martha was the sister of my great great grandfather, John Crispin Pecht.


Carlton Park Ruth

Funeral services for the late Carlton Park Ruth, who passed away at Hines hospital on Sunday morning, were held this afternoon at 2:30 at First Methodist church, Freeport, with Rev. Gene Van Kranenburg, pastor of the Dakota Methodist church, officiating, assisted by Rev. John H. Nightingale, of First Methodist church. Brief services for the family were held at the Walker mortuary at 2. The American Legion conducted services at the grave. Eric Carlson, Albert Swanson, Clifford Scheider, William Frank, Donald Fink and Stanley Smith served as pallbearers, and burial was in Oakland cemetery.

Mr. Ruth was born in Lancaster township on Oct. 18, 1894, the son of Edward M. and Edna M. Ruth. He was married on Sept. 19, 1925, to Marie E. Kortemeier, who survives him, as do two daughters, Roselyn and Betty Louise. He resided on a farm in Rock Run township. He had been a devoted member of the Methodist church for 35 years and at the time of his death was a member of the Dakota Methodist church.

He is also survived by two brothers, William Ruth of Eagle River, Wis., and Edward Ruth of Wilmette, Ill., and a sister, Esther Ruth Smith, of Crescent City, Calif. He was preceded in death by his parents.

He served as a first musician in the U.S. navy during the first world war, having enlisted July 19, 1917. He was stationed at Great Lakes naval training station during 1917-1918 and later served overseas. He was a member of the Lena post of the American Legion.

Source: Freeport (Ill.) Journal-Standard, Freeport, Illinois, July 18, 1944

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Connecting the Dots via "Snoop Sites"

There are many web sites where you can do background searches on people for a fee. You can often obtain information such as age, date of birth, address, former residences, and names of relatives. The information on these sites is culled from public records.

There have been times when the information on these sites has given me the clues that I need to fill in some blanks, confirm information from my inferences and figure out what happened to more contemporary relatives.

And guess what? Much of the time, you can pick up some clues without even paying to get the full records search results.

One site that I turn to when I get stuck on more contemporary people is Since this site has information about living people, I don't want to use any screen captures for illustration purposes. You can try it out on some of your own missing kin - or on yourself, just to see how it works.

What has been most helpful to me in using sites like Intellius is that a basic search will provide results that include the most recent cities the individual has lived in, generally in chronological order with the most recent listed first. There is an estimate of the person's age. And what is very handy is that a list of names of possible relatives shows up on the search result page. This is a way that I've been able to determine married names of females and from that, take my people sleuthing a bit further. Sometimes, this information is used as confirmation that I have identified the correct family and the area where they are located. Sometimes those additional family member's names can be used to help you narrow down some online searches for obituaries of the person's parents or great grandparents. It has worked for me.

Intellius also still has deceased individuals in its databases. So you might find people who show up in your search result and it shows they are 111 years old. Again, that is just providing you with a clue to the person's year of birth and names of potential family members.

Once you try this out, or do a sample search on yourself, it might creep you out. I acknowledge that. I was creeped out at first. But I'm a researcher, not a stalker. I've not used the information obtained on these snoop sites to contact anyone directly. There was only one time when I paid to get information from one of these sites so that I could verify a date of birth and the address of a living relative. I've been holding on to that information for about eight or nine years now and have yet to make direct contact.

It's just another tool that may be useful in your genealogy quest. You never know - it might turn up that long lost cousin who has all of those photographs of your ancestors that you've never seen before.

Please feel free to comment about your experiences with these snoop sites in the comments section below.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Follow Friday: Around the Blogosphere - December 10

I'm sure that some of you will be relieved to know that none of the Advent Calendar blog posts will be included in this week's edition of Around the Blogosphere. Nothing personal, I just quit reading these about six days ago. In between those posts, there were quite a few posts that I would like to highlight:

Deb of Adventures in Genealogy had a good Follow Friday post last week in which she provided links to several genealogical and historical societies - all worth checking out and bookmarking.

DearMYRTLE shared an update of all of the latest newspaper records to

The Saving Stories blog has a nice piece on the history of social media and using it for genealogy.

Ian Kath advises folks to take a break from their life stories on the Create Your Life Story blog.

A story that needs to have a follow-up posted is the Groom is Sick on the Oakland Genealogy Items blog. You've GOT to read this one.

The photo shared by Debbie Parker Wayne on Deb's Delvings in Genealogy is a magnificent comparison between old and new. Be sure to check it out.

These photographs of an Irish famine ship were also quite interesting and emotional as I thought about my ancestors from Ireland. These are from the blog 'On a Flesh and Bone Foundation: An Irish History'

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Family Resemblances - three generations of the Pecht family

As "new" family photographs come to light, it's interesting to observe some of the family resemblances.

John Crispin Pecht
My great great grandfather

Leroy Pearl Pecht
My great grandfather
Son of John Crispin Pecht

Ruby Luella Pecht
My grandmother
Daughter of Leroy Pecht

I find the resemblance between Leroy and John to be quite strong. Even my grandmother seems to have the Pecht mouth and chin. Resemblance? What do you think?

Advent Calendar: Outdoor Christmas Decorations

This is probably going to be the only Advent Calendar themed message I'll be posting on this season, but it really seemed appropriate because, you see, my cousins happen to be the Clark Griswold family.

My cousins in St. Louis are Christmas Crazy and that includes covering every available outdoor space with Christmas lights.

Here's their web site:

But for the news coverage and video of their computerized light system, click here.

It was actually because of their web site that I was able to reconnect with my cousins a few years ago. We now joke that we get together once every 28 years. Happy Holidays, Patricia and Tim! is given Ancestor Approved Award

This week I was notified by Jenny Lantcot of Are My Roots Showing that she was recognizing this blog,, with the Ancestor Approved award.

The award comes with a couple of requests:

1.  List ten things that you have learned about your ancestors that surprised, humbled, or enlightened you.
2.  Pass the award to ten other genealogy bloggers.

What I have learned:

1. My ancestors worked hard all their lives to support their families and raise their children.
2. My ancestors were willing to take risks, to travel to new places to make a better life for their families.
3. My ancestors lives were not without sadness and tragedies.
4. My ancestors seldom smiled for the camera.
5. My ancestors did not always get along with their siblings.
6. Number 5 brings me to Number 6: My ancestors spent quite a bit of time in court suing and being sued by their relatives.
7. My ancestors believed in honoring the memory of the family - how else would I have so many wonderful photographs, documents and mementos?
8. My ancestors treasured education and their faith.
9. My ancestors weren't all horse thieves as Grandpa Kelly used to warn.
10. My ancestors made my life possible.

In turn, I pay it forward by passing along the Ancestor Approved Award to the following blogs:

Life From the Roots - Barbara Poole
Random Relatives - Diana Ritchie
Genealogy's Star - James Tanner
The You Go Genealogy Girls Blog - Ruby Coleman and Cheri Hopkins
Documenting the Details - Linda McCauley
Grace and Glory - Becky Jamison

Each of these bloggers contributes something different to the genealogy blogging community. I learn something from each and every one of them and their blogs are among my "must read" list in my RSS reader. Please visit their sites and add them to your RSS feed if you have not do so already.

UPDATE: On January 1, 2011, was recognized with the Ancestor Approved award by Polly Kimmitt on her PollyBlog. Thanks, Polly!

UPDATE: On January 19, 2011, was recognized by ScotSue at FamilyHistoryFun. Thanks, Sue!