24 December 2006

Merry Christmas

Wishing all of you a wonderful Christmas and a great New Year ahead.

Now it's time for me to clean house, bake more cookies, and get ready to open gifts with family tonight.

Always remember the most important thing in life is your family both past and present. Preserve their memories and cherish and love them.

05 December 2006

Columbia and Jamestown, CA

My husband and I have always been very fascinated by old ghost towns of the "Old West." So one plan we had when visiting family in California, was that we wanted to take the children to our favorite place to visit, Columbia and Jamestown.

We went with James' parents. First we stopped in Jamestown to visit the old Railtown Museum. James loves trains and so do the boys. Here are a few of my favorite picture there.

Here is my father-in-law looking back at the Blacksmith shop we just left.

Here he is walking hand in hand with Jamie. This one is my favorite!

Many of our favorite movies were made here. How many do you know?

Engine #2 a bit of a movie star, but I believe #32 was the biggest movies star.

Old signs. So where is our next destination?

And I wonder why they didn't want to leave!

We all really had a lot of fun in James town. The kids came home with train toys. Of course Justin got one of his favorite characters, Thomas the Train, who takes a very close second only to Bob the Builder.

Next we went to Columbia. As we were entering I almost wanted to cry. One of my favorite ghost towns was being built around. It is once again booming. It is no longer the little old ghost town in the middle of the California hills that I use to love. We parked and walked into town. What was left of it!!! I is now only one small street that is blocked off from public traffic. It use to be blocked off all the way up the hill to the grave yard and the school house! What happened? It is moments like this when I find I HATE PROGRESS! There were new buildings going up. It just wasn't the same experiance I had hoped to share with the kids. We did stop and had a picture taken in the old photo shop of my father-in-law, James and the two boys. I can't wait to see it. But I left Columbia feeling really sad. It's sad that people can't have more respect for history. Then again maybe many people consider me crazy because I want to preserve as much of it as possible, but there was miles of undeveloped hills near Columbia, why couldn't they build another town near by and leave Columbia to it beautiful history? It's sad! We only took a few pictures in Columbia. I think James and I were both taken back by what we saw of our old beautiful ghost town. We had once loved it so much that we spent the day of our Senior prom there.

01 December 2006

Storybooking Grandma and her Conner/Connor Family

Well some of my time in California was spent interviewing Grandma. I didn't have nearly enough time. I only got half way through the questions I had for her. But at least I have enough to start the first part of her life in the book.

I am asking for help from anyone out there who may have photos of our Connor family. Some of the family members I am looking for photos of is: Ernest Conner/Connor & Flora Mae Manning, William Monroe Conner & Laura Barnett/Conner, William Conner & Rachelle E Martin/Conner, and Joseph H Conner and Effie. As well as any of their children and siblings. I am also looking for any stories you may have about these people.

I am currently working on two books right now. One is of Grandma for our family, and the other is of the Conner family (descendants of Joseph H Conner) for anyone interested in ordering one of these books when I have it finished I will announce it.

16 November 2006

Christmas Blog

I've spoke of my Heritage Makers books as wonderful personalized Christmas gifts for your family. But here is another great sight. Check out this Holiday Blog. Sean has many more great ideas for the Holidays that he shares on his blog.

10 November 2006

Storybooking Grandparents

In a couple weeks I will be going back home to CA where I grew up for a visit. One of my main goals while I am there is to interview my husbands grandmother.

Never put this off! You never know when it'll be to late to records their stories and life. I have no grandparents left, and my husband only has the one. So I will start with her, but then I will quickly interview our parents. I want their stories preserved for my children. There is nothing I can do about the ancestors before us. All I can do is ask for the stories and photos that all the family members have of them, but their life as they knew it is lost.

When interviewing a parent, grandparent, or, if you're lucky, a great grandparent, start by creating a timeline of their life. I posted how to do a timeline before. Cindy's List here has a few great software programs that will help you create a time line or you can use my example here. This will tell you what major world events they would have experienced in their life time.

Then create a series of questions that ask them about each decade of their life. Make sure to cover each major event during their life such as the Depression, WWII, Assassination of Kennedy, Korean War, Vietnam, etc. If they served in any of the wars ask them to share their experience. Don't forget their childhood such as the places their family lived, schools they attended, their toys, entertainment, and talk to them about their parents and siblings. Their parents may not be alive for you to interview and get a first hand account, but what you can get through your grandparents interview about their parents will be more than you will uncover just researching them.

Interviews can be useful in research so that you know where to look for another piece of the puzzle, but the real treasure is in the stories and photos. But don't just gather all of this information, publish their story for you family. There will be no book more precious to your children then those written about their grandparents, parents, and even themselves.

So get started with your interviews and gathering photo. Then outline the stories you want to write. When you're ready to write your story go here to begin writhing and publish your stories.

09 November 2006

Three more Weeks

There is only three more weeks left to get your storybooks written and published in time for Christmas gifts. Don't miss out on this wonderful gift opportunity. My favorite gifts are always those given from the heart.

Call toady and get your books ordered so you still have time to create them as wonderful gifts for your family!
208-777-4312 or go to my website to check out your options at www.untangledfamilyroots.com.

04 November 2006

Christmas Gift from the Heart

There is nothing so special as a gift that comes from the heart. There are a few more weeks left to make your books for a grandparent, parent, spouse or even a child. Here are some wonderful storybooking idea for Christmas:
  • Record you memoir or entire life for your children or grandchildren
  • Rewrite the stories in your family, but for a 6-10 grade reading level for your children
  • Delight a friend with a "Best Friends Book"
  • "I Love you Because...." A gift for grandparents, with a page from each grandchild, including photo and quote about what they love about their grandma and grandpa.
  • "Just Like Dad" - pictures and stories of Father and Son doing similar things.
  • For the soldier who is now deployed and will miss Christmas with their family. Write a special "Love You and Miss You" book to update them and share photos of what is happening while they are away.
  • For the immigrant in your family. Write a book about their life
  • For the joking co-worker or friend publish a book of all your favorite jokes and anecdotes.
  • For the spiritual friend a book a favorite quotes and prayers.
  • Compose a "Grandma Brag Book" of her grandchildren.
  • Celebrate siblings with a "Sisters Book" of "Brothers Book"
  • Do a "Mother and Daughter" book. She won't be able to hold back the tears.
  • Do a "From Daddy's Little Girl" book, and watch him melt.
  • Write you own children's story for your child to cherish.
  • Mother's publish a cook book of your favorite recipes for your daughters and daughter-in-laws. They will forever cherish those recipes.
  • A poster for your child of their favorite hero.
  • A Timeless Calendar

The ideas are endless, and rather inexpensive. But the love and joy you will receive when you give them is priceless.

The Christmas deadline is November 30th, so call me today (208)777-4312! Don't miss out on this wonderful idea for your loved ones. Your Heritage Makers Independant Consultant.

17 October 2006

Never Enough Time!

Here was our house about three months ago.

Now at least the face lift is almost done. I have been so busy over the last couple weeks trying to beat mother nature. I want to finish the painting on the front of the house. I know I won't get the rest done until after winter, but I at least want the front nice. I love my new big bay window. Also the car is blocking the big huge bolder my husband found to give it an added touch of granduer. I'll keep my fingers crossed that I will at least have one of two more days of sunny warmer weather so I can paint around the two bedroom windows with the dark green and finish that last couple feet of eves. If I can just get that much done before winter then I'll be happy. We also spent the weekend cleaning up around here. There is still some building material, but we'll get that when we are done with the roof. It won't be quit so embarassing when people come to my house now for my digital scrapbooking workshops.

That's something else I have been very busy with. Getting my office in order for presentations at the workshops, making appointments for celebrations, and all the other little things that go along with starting up a business. It's going well. I have four celebrations booked, and I just know that they will take off from there.

Halloween is just around the corner and I haven't even gotten the kids costums or anything. I guess I better get on that sometime soon.
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04 October 2006

Heritage Lost

Come; look with me inside this drawer
In this box I've often seen,
At the pictures, black and white,
Faces proud, still, serene.
I wish I knew these people,
These strangers in the box...

Their names and all their memories
Are lost among my socks.
I wonder what their lives were like,
How did they spend their days?
What about their special times,
I'll never know their ways.

If only someone had taken time,
To tell who, what, where and when,
These faces of my heritage,
Would come to life again.

Could this become the fate?
Of the pictures we take today?
The faces and the memories
Someday will pass away.

Make time to save your stories,
Seize opportunity when it knocks,
Or someday you and yours could be,
the strangers in this box!

-Author unkown

This poem touched me when I first read it. If we don't preserve the stories of our lives and photos then will our grandchildren and their children know who we were and what we were about?

I have a few pictures like the one described in the poem. I don't know who is in them really. I don't know what memory that picture was meant to preserve. Memories like pictures fade in time. It is up to us to preserve the memories that still remain and the ones to come so that future generations can see, feel, and enjoy our memories as we did. Help our future generations not to forget about the things that touched our lives, shaped who we were and added to who they are. Give them the chance to laugh, cry, be proud, think, enjoy, and all the other emotions we fill in our lives with us even after we are gone.

Preserve your Heritage at www.untanglefamilyroots.com

19 September 2006

Heritage Makers

I am so excited about this new phase in my life. I just got in my new Heritage Makers sample books. They are beautiful! I can't wait to get back my first book. I am working on one about my children right now. It's a little brag book. Small enough to easily fit into a purse or even my planner. So ladies if you would like a way to share the story of your children everywhere you go, well it's here!

Do you like scrapbooking? Do you hate the mess you have to clean up everytime? Are you afraid to let the children look through it for fear that they may damage some of it? Do you find yourself in the middle of your project when dinner time rolls around and you've got to put it all away so you can use the table? Or maybe your the type of person who hates the hassle of scrapbooking, but loves the look of it. That would be me! Well here is your solution. Digital scrapbooking.

Now don't let that little word "digital" scare you. It's easy to do. First contact me so we can set up your account or party, or if you want to test drive the program go to Heritage Makers on the bottom right of the home page select "try our online publishing system" and see how easy it is, or watch the video. If you want to do a party it will help you to earn credits towards the story books you want to write.

There are opportunities for everyone from the hobbyist to the professional. I fall in between that until the kids are older.

This completely shares all my passions. I love photography and the stories of my ancestors. I have been researching my genealogy for almost two years now. I love this because this is a way I can write those stories and preserve them for my children and grandchildren and all future generations to read. I enjoyed the genealogy so much that I kept looking online for something exactly like this that would combine my passions for photographs and family history. Then one day just out of the blue I received an email that I sure did not ignore, introducing me to this business. It was the answer to my prayers.

These photos are the samples that I received. They are handstitch, glossy, hardcover books. They are not only durable, but lovely to look at and handle.

My next projects will be story books of my grandparents. All of my grandparents are gone now. They only one living is my husband's grandmother. I plan to start with her story first. I want to preserve all of her story before it is too late. The others I will have to rely on mine and other family members memories to write their story. Don't wait until it's too late to write those stories. Because after grandparents are gone their stories fade. Make sure your children and grandchildren will remember their ancestors.

You can contact me at 208-777-4312 or amyrebba@adelphia.net to book your party today.
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Heritage Makers

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13 September 2006

Time to Get Started

I got in my kit today for my Heritage Makers. It's time to get started selling these memory books. I hope some of you are still reading my blog on occasion. I am looking for hosts who enjoy family, photographs and even preserving their family history and memorable stories.

I have given my notice at UPS, so as of October 1 I am available to do parties for any interested hosts. I have a couple people in mind who just might go for it, but that won't keep me very busy.

Right now I have a lot of reading and preparation to do, so if you don't see many posts for a while please be patient. I am not giving up on this blog.

07 September 2006

Part of My Business

Not only am I offering research on families, but all the research can be printed in a beautiful book. Please check out my website. Even if you have no interest in the past, but would like a durable, fun, beautiful way to display the events that make of the life of you and your family, it can now be done!

I can also throw parties with this business and there are many incentives for the hostess. So if any of you ladies would like to host a party for you friends and family, based around photos, stories and books of families then give me a call. I am looking for a couple hostesses.

27 August 2006

Schwimmer and Spiesman family

I am still working on gathering information for a co-worker of mine on her family. I am researching the Spiesman surname of Germany and possibly Prussia origin as well as the Schwimmer's of Missouri and German origin. Then both families end up in Pennsylvania and Indiana. If anyone out there has information on these two families I'd sure love to hear from you. I did find someone who had posted their family tree with the Schwimmers that completely matched my co-workers family. The sad thing is they didn't post any contact information. I have even found a few things they may not have yet and it would be great to share information so I can also help my co-worker complete her family history.

Well we refinanced the house this week, so by Wednesday when we get our money I will be able to buy my sales kit. Not only will I be able to offer the service of researching ones family history, but then I will be able to have it printed into a beautiful bond book! I can't wait to quit work and get started. My dental is maxed out and I'm just waiting to see what happens with my husband's back. Hopefully I will be done with work in about a month.

22 August 2006

My First Ginnie Pig!

I have been asking for people who are interested in someone researching their family. Well last night a gal at work finally handed me her file of information on her mom's family to get started. I have already found her grandfathers WWI registration, which gave us his birth date that she didn't know. I did find the family in 1920 living in Indianapolis, which she did know, but now I can giver her a street address where they were living at the time, and that also gave me the approximate birth years of all the children.

Then I went to Ancestry.com Family tree and history to find that some has already done three generations worth of research which both confirmed what I had and gave me more clues to look for. Though there was no contact information or source information, so I will treat it as a source for clues only, not a reliable 100% source. Always keep that in mind when you are doing your families research. Other people so graciously share their research online, which is great, but if their research is wrong, and even mine has been sometimes, it can get you off on the wrong path. So look at everything carefully and always try to find the first person source such as a birth, marriage, death, pension, military, land, probate or other such record to back up their findings.

So if you don't hear from me for a few days it's because I'm next deep into this new family. I can't wait to go to work tonight and show my associate her grandfather's WWI registration which tells so much about him.

17 August 2006

Mapping Your Ancestors Migration

I just found out about this wonderful new website. It was designed for you to map out the countries and/or states you have visited, but it can also be used to map out your ancestors migration.

I've used my husband's, Conner, relatives for this example. My research only goes back to 1803 to Joseph Conner. It is believed he was born in TN or possibly VA.

I started by marking all the states that his ancestors were in at any given time, in no certain order. It then creates the image at the top. I saved that image as a photo file. Then I went into Publisher and added the image to a new sheet. Then I began to map out where they lived, by using a line with an arrow at one end. This helps show the direction in which they moved, which would be really useful if they had back tracked. At each arrow is a place they lived. I then created a text box and in that put the ancestor that lived there, the years, and the city or county in which they had lived if known. What you end up with is a nice clean colorful map showing the path of migration your ancestors took.

The other alternative and what I had been doing was to use a black form of the United States and write out by hand all the information and then basically connect the dots.

What either method does is to give you an over all look of the times and places your ancestors lived in. Then you can easily take that information and study the history of those areas in that time period to get a better understanding of your ancestor's life, what possibly was behind their movements, the events they lived through and witnessed and more.

You could do the same thing with just one family. By starting with where the family lived and most of the children were born and then showing branches off of that as to where each child moved to after leaving the home. This may also help you to research the other descendants of your ancestors if you know where they moved to, in order to find future generations of descendants. Posted by Picasa

16 August 2006

Timelines and Outlines

These tools are very useful in your genealogy research. They can give you a picture at a glance of what happened and when in your ancestor's life, what time period they lived through, and what events were happening in the world during their life time. It is also useful when determining what wars your ancestors may have served in. I have another form I will cover that will help you further with that in the future.

This time line is from Unpuzzling Your Past. Emily Ann Croom has created this wonderful book of forms such as the one above that you can use to research you ancestors. She shows a sample similar to the one I have done, except she just marks a rectangle starting at the persons birth and ending at their death. Then she writes the name to the left and their relationship as I have done. I've changed it slightly by putting a line and writing BORN and year, then another line across both husband and wife for MARRIAGE and the year and then the last line at DIED and year. Then for my direct ancestors I highlighted them. I also included the son-in-law only for my direct ancestor. Martha Ellen and Thomas Miller Hoard would be my gg grandparents, and then above them would be the head of the family John Anderson McCombs and wife, Luticia who were my ggg grandparents. Then below Martha and Thomas are all of her sibling. So with one view you see the whole family including the one who married into the family and the events that would have impacts their lives.

Now the next form you see is a computer generated timeline of John Anderson McCombs that was created from all the information I have entered in Family Tree Legends software for him. This gives you a chronological list of all the known events in his life.

However, if you do not have software that can create such a form, then you can create your own in Excel or use the form I show below (here is a blank copy of it) to write out an outline. There are two added columns in this form that I think are very useful, one is age. It's helpful, or at least interesting to know what age your ancestor was at the time of each event in his/her life. The other is source, this is one more place that you can keep track of where you obtain the information that supports that fact.

You can use these individually or as a group. I think they work well as a group especially the Timeline at top and the Biographical Outline at bottom. I don't usually use the center one unless trying to establish a timeline or outline from my generated information.

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14 August 2006

Part of Your Census Study Arsenal

I have been writing lately about studying your family in the census records. This form should be part of your many forms to help you.

With this form you want to write down each known family member. Then I also like to place a line in front of the census year where I know they will first be found.

As you look for your family members you will want to work backward in the census. I knew John McCombs died in 1921. Therefore I want to first look in 1920 for him and hopefully his family. Then I will work backwards from there. As I find the family I will write in the square usually just the county and state where I found them, because I will have the city and other details on my transcription of that census year. I will also fill in the square for his wife and any of the children that are with them in that census. If you will notice there is only one year where I find the oldest children with them. After that I loose track of Martha, Thomas, Mary and Edward. Part of the reason for that is 1890 census does not exist. It was lost in a fire, so between 1880 where I found the family in Benton, AR and 1900 where I find them in Blaine, OK the kids have married and moved on with their own lives. I didn't find them living near their parents like some of the younger siblings, so I will need to start a separate search for each of them.

My next step is to complete this family by finding all of the descendant of John and Luticia McCombs, not just my direct ancestor. So this census checklist will tell me what years I am missing for what children. Then when that is complete, as best I can, I will then go back and study John's parents as well as Luticia's. Since I do know who they are it won't be to difficult to study them. But I also want to study all of their descendants as well. You want to do this step with each generation and with each family group.

The title is a link to Family Tree Magazine website. Where they will have not only the census checklist, but many more useful forms you will need.

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11 August 2006

Transcribing and Studying Census Records

Here is a sample of a 1900 census and my transcription of it. There are several places you can go for census forms. There are a few good reasons to transcribe the census records you find, although I also like to keep a copy of the original too. One way you can use this form is at the library or Family History Center where you can view microfilm. If you don't absolutely have to have a copy of the original you can transcribe the information you find to save the cost of copies. I like to have the original, so I only transcribe the family I am researching. However, if you are not going to have a copy of the original then you may want to transcribe the families that are their neighbors. You may find in the future their neighbors may marry into the family.

Another really good reason to transcribe your census records are to catch the details. Sometimes when I am looking through the census records I may not pay attention to all of the little details, just the important ones. But when you transcribe your census records you pay more attention to all of the details, and you might actually notice something that you may have otherwise ignored. That little detail any tell you something about your ancestor's life.

Also hopefully your own writing is easier to read then the census, so when you go back to it in the future you can quickly and easily understand what is in the census information. Many times the originals are so old that they didn't scan very clearly for the microfilm and they really are hard to read. Also they are shrunk down in size. Most of us don't have printers that can print 11x17, and even some library's can't do that, so when we print it out on 8.5x11, it's reduced in size from the original and therefore even harder to read.

When transcribing any form of original make sure to transcribe exactly as it is written. If you will notice in my transcription of the 1900 census I made a note at the bottom that the census taker spelled Luticia's name as Tisha L, which was incorrect, but in my transcription I wrote it exactly as the census taker did. This way in the future if you or one of your descendants are going back to look for the original they can find it exactly as it was written and not be hunting for something that didn't exist.

Going back to noticing the details I saw something in the 1900 census of this family that I would have never noticed if I hadn't written it out. Benjamin R McCombs in place of occupation the census taker wrote "Invalid." This tells me that Benjamin was somehow injured or suffered from some sort of infliction. Though I know from the 1910 and 1920 census that he did in fact marry, though as far as I know they never had any children. That may change if I ever find him in the 1930 census. But my point is that there is possibly something on record regarding his injury or disability. Also his number of months unemployed that year was 12 verses his brother and father who were only unemployed for 3 months. This gives me another clue to look into. Was he injured in a war? Possibly the Spanish-American War? It would fit the time line for him. Or was it a work related accident? These are all things I can look into. Posted by Picasa

08 August 2006

Individual Research Worksheet

These are my notes from my research of John Anderson McCombs. On the first page you can see how I entered information that I knew and then highlighted what was missing or incomplete. I also made more notes on this page as I discovered details in my search of the census records. Such as John's place of birth. The information that was given to me a long time ago appears to be incorrect. It appears that he was really born in TN not MO. I also noted that there were two more children born to John and Luticia that we don't have names for, possibly they died as infants. Also I noted that one child, Walter, was never in the census records which would lead me to believe he also died young, which would correspond with Luticia's account of only 9 living children by 1900. In this section I entered in my questions and began to set my goals. I added more questions as I went along.

There are more pages. I have done research that can be 20 or even 30 pages worth of research, but other individuals only needed a half dozen. Your research can go only as long as you want it too, and sometimes, some questions just can't be answered. But never stop looking. You never know when someone will turn up who has a peice of history for you. Posted by Picasa

Finding Your Ancestors, Part III The Research

There is a great deal of research that you can do online. Online is where I always start my research. But first you need to prepare you forms, so you know where to search and what you are looking for.

Let's start by deciding what ancestor you want to research. Choose only one. If you are looking for too many people at a time you get off task and your research won't be as complete as it could be. That's not to say you can't keep notes of others in your ancestry that you come by. Keep a note book near by to jot down where you found another ancestor living near the ancestor you are focused on, this way you'll have notes when you move on to the other ancestor so you will remember where to go back and look for the other person. To choose an ancestor I would say start with your parents if they are passed away or you were separated from them, but if they are still alive they can fill in their own blanks, in that case move to your grandparents. For most people their grandparents are the best starting point.

In my previous post I spoke of John Anderson McCombs and posted his picture. He is my current project so I will use him as an example. I am going to show actual scans of all my notes. Starting with my Research Worksheet. In the Research Worksheet section A you want to write down what you do know about the individual. Then highlight all missing or incomplete information. For example is you only know that your ancestor was born in Missouri, but not exactly where then that information is incomplete.

In Section B simply write down questions you want answered or other pieces of information that you need to verify. Last in section C you want to set you first research goal, then write down each source you look through to answer that question and in results write down everything you find to support your research. Be sure to write detailed notes as to where you found something, exactly, so that you can go back to it later if you need to. Print out any documents you find to support your research.

I was going to post the notes in this blog, but they are too big. I will have to upload them another way so my notes will follow this post separately.

Online I typically research three different databases, Ancestry, Rootsweb, and USGenWeb, but I don't limit myself to just that. I also find when I hit a brick wall just Google the name you are looking for and you might just come up with a new avenue. I also visit GenForum to look at their message board from time to time to see if anyone else is look for the same ancestor. Cindy's List is also another good one for finding a variety of information. I also look on DeadFred to see if their are any new pictures for that family.

tomorrow I will show you how I transcribed the information I found onto other forms in order to see the big picture. This will tell me where I have filled in the gaps, created new gaps and where I still have research to finish.

Sharing Your Genealogy

For many of us we wouldn't know as much as we do about our families if someone hadn't shared stories, relationships and photos with us.

I've been talking about putting your information into a database that can create a GEDCOM file of your family tree. GEDCOM's are the universal file format for sharing genealogy. One way you can use your GEDCOM's are to upload the files to the internet. There are two websites that I know of. One is Ancestry.com. Of course this is for a fee, but well worth it when you can connect your family tree with others that match yours. The other is Rootsweb, which is free. I have my research on both. This has allowed other cousins to find me, and I have made contact with others as well. If it were not for these two website I would not have the information that others have so graciously shared, but even better I would not have the photos of my ancestors.

Today I got to experience another one of those treasured moments when a cousin sends you another photo of a great grandparent. A second cousin twice removed to me contact me today. He had seen my family tree on Ancestry.com. He said he had pictures of some of the ancestors I had listed and offered to send me some. Of course I wasted no time emailing back to him. I shared photos I had of my family up to the point where they connected to his. I also sent him genealogy reports, another added benefit of genealogy software, of all the information that has been given to me and that I have found on our mutual families. A short time later I received a photo of my ggg grandfather John Anderson McCombs and his wife, my ggg grandmother, Lutitia Nichols. The photos I had only went as far back as one of their granddaughters. I was so excited! I couldn't wait for my mother to show up who just happened to be on her way over to rescue me from the kids. Now I need to get a copy of it to my Aunts.
The picture above is of John and Lutitia McCombs.

Family Tree Software

I have been using Family Tree Maker for about a year. I like the program. It has helped me to organize my information and notes on the family. But yesterday I discovered a new software, Family Tree Legends. They both cost the same at just under $30, but they each have wonderful features. I will end up using both of mine for different features. The nice thing is I can transfer the files back and forth between the two easily.

  • The data base both are pretty standard. You can enter in all the information about your ancestor, their spouse, children and all their information from the first screen Family Tree Maker gives one added bonus, by showing the name of each spouse's parents on a button above their name. With Family Tree Legends you have to click on the parents button to see their names. Also with Family Legends you need to click on the child in order to enter notes for them, but in Family Tree Maker you can simply click on the notes button while in the family view to enter in notes for a child.
  • Notes are a great place to enter little details or stories you find out about the person as well as notes to yourself of future research. In FTM you would put all of this in one place with one standard type face and no spell check. This is where FTL makes a big difference for me. You can enter in stories in your notes , but here you can bold, Italics, or underline important pieces of information you want to stand out. You also have a spell check, and if your like me this is a must! To further organize your notes you can put your future research notes in a To-Do List not in the middle of your stories!
  • To-Do List This is a wonderful feature, only available in Family Tree Legends. At this point I had been doing this with paper and pen. With this list you can prioritize each item to do, categorize it as research, write letter, etc., enter expected expenses, due date, and place of research.
  • address Book again only available in FTL. Here you can keep tracking of contact information for family members still living.
  • Medical History both programs are about the same here, but FTL allows you to enter in your DNA fingerprint if you have had that done.
  • Pictures both programs have a place for pictures in the scrapbook, but FTL allows you to create slide shows, scan photos directly into FTL and edit pictures, as well as create multiple scrapbooks for each family group.
  • Reports both do about the same for reports. Both will allow you to export the reports to Word, but only FTM will allow export to Adobe Acrobat.
  • Charts here is where things really get interesting. In FTL you can create beautiful family trees with frames around the names, pictures in the background, many color and font options, you just have more options to create beautiful family trees.
  • Books in FTM you can create a rather limited book for web publication, but not print. In FTL the difference again is significant. You can create beautiful books for print with many more options.
  • Web Search with FTM you can search Ancestry's many records for a fee, with FTL you can search their limited record for free directly from the software. With FTM you simply click on the person you want to look for and hit the "search web" icon and it will bring up all the matches. With FTL you go into another page and enter the information you are looking for and it will search their records.
  • Blank Forms I have expressed the benefits of forms in keeping your research organized. Well guess what? FTL has many of the forms included with this software so not only do you have a data base to organize you information, but you also have the forms you need to do the research!
  • Upgrade Family Tree Legends also has a wonderful upgrade. I didn't get it because I don't have a hand held device yet. But you can purchase an upgrade to allow you to down load your family tree information onto your hand held device to take with you to the next family reunion or to go do your research.

Here are two wonderful software programs for organizing your family tree and neither are very expensive. Get a family tree software before you get too far into your research, or you'll find yourself overwhelmed. When you can find pieces of information quickly at your finger tips it will make your search for you ancestor go do much faster.

Harmon Co., OK Genealogy

Genealogy is like a puzzle, and just like a puzzle you sometimes have to build around the outside to figure out the center. This family is one of those examples. I searched for more than a year for Flora Mae Manning. It was like she didn't exist prior to her marriage to Ernest Gahmo Connor. Then my mother-in-law found Flora's death certificate with Grandma's important papers. This gave us only one clue, her father's name was Tom. Who ever, probably Ernest, was giving information at the time of her death knew very little about her family. It wasn't much but at least it was something.

So I started searching for Tom Manning living in Oklahoma around 1920-1930. Do you know how many hits I got on that? Too many to waste my time. There had to be a better way to find him. Then it hit me one day Tom is short for Thomas. What if the family called him Tom, but he reported his real name on the census. Sure enough I found a Thomas Manning living in Harmon Co., OK! This was before a learned the importance of neighbors. If I had only searched the 10 pages before and 10 pages after the Conner family who lived in Dryden, Harmon Co., OK in 1930 I would have found Flora's family long before. Then I went back to the 1920 census and sure enough I found Flora, and then I understood why I never found her before. Her name was spelled as Lora!

So when you find a family that you know fits your ancestors check the families living around them, you just might find families of spouse for those children in future years. Especially the females, they are the hardest to trace because they marry and change their names.

Below is Flora's family. Thanks to the help of Jeanette Coaly of Harmon Co., OK I now have three generations of Manning's. But we are still looking for Ira Manning's family. As well as any details on his murder. Jeanette is also looking for information on other families of the Harmon Co., OK area. She runs the museum in Hollis, OK.

Descendants of Ira Manning

Generation No. 1

1. IRA1 MANNING1 was born in Alabama2, and died Abt. 1888 in AL or AR3. He married TAMSEY MANERVIA SESSIONS3 Abt. 1874 in Alabama, daughter of WILLIS SESSIONS and MARY PUGH. She was born Abt. 1857 in Taladega, Alabama3, and died Abt. 1929 in Hanna, McIntosh, OK3.

Notes for IRA MANNING:
Ira was robbed and murdered and then thrown overboard on river around AL or AR.
According to Manning/Sessions family history, ca 1887/1888 Ira/Will and Tamsey were travelling by riverboat while enroute from AL to AR. Ira/Will carried all the family's money on him even though Tamsey had warned him it could be dangerous to do so. At some point during the trip, he was murdered, robbed and his body thrown overboard into the river. (Arkansas River, Mississippi River?) Sometime after reaching AR Tamsey remarried to Charles Layfette Shropshire and had three more children.
I'd like to make contact with anyone researching, or with info on this family.

Some time after reaching Arkansas and the youngest child, Julia Ann was born June 6, 1888

cited by Wesley Parker

Cause of Death (Facts Pg): Murder

Marriage: Abt. 1874, Alabama

2. i. THOMAS MARION ALONZA2 MANNING, b. 07 Nov 1874, Alabama; d. 1941, OK.
ii. JOHN WILLIS DANIEL MANNING, b. 25 Mar 1876, Arkansas.
iii. WILLIAM HENRY MANNING, b. 11 Apr 1878, Arkansas.
iv. JULIA ANN MANNING, b. 06 Jun 1881, Arkansas.

Generation No. 2

2. THOMAS MARION ALONZA2 MANNING (IRA1)4,5,6,7,8,9 was born 07 Nov 1874 in Alabama10,11,12,13,14,15, and died 1941 in OK. He married (1) MATTIE SMITH16 1900 in Cherokee Nation, Indian Territory16,17. She was born Feb 1883 in Indian Territory18,19, and died Bet. 1910 - 1920. He married (2) MARTHA EVELINE SORRELS20 1918 in Hanna, McIntosh, OK, USA20. She was born 1898 in Arkansas21.

Residence: 1930, Dryden, Harmon, Oklahoma22

Mattie died of dropsy. She was holding her baby and the baby had to be pried out of her hands. What we don't know is if that baby was Flora (the youngest known by census) or if ther was another child that was born and died between 1910-1920. The family had always though there was another child younger then Flora. I have found that Flora had three half brother born before 1930, children born to her father and step mother.

Cause of Death (Facts Pg): Dropsy

Marriage: 1900, Cherokee Nation, Indian Territory23,24

Marriage: 1918, Hanna, McIntosh, OK, USA25

3. i. FLORA MAE3 MANNING, b. Abt. 1910, OK, USA; d. 15 Mar 1940, Amarillo, Potter Co., TX, USA.
ii. CARL MANNING, b. 1904, OK.
4. iii. IRA MANNING, b. 06 Mar 1906, OKLAHOMA; d. 21 Nov 1995, FRESNO, California.
5. iv. HENRY LEE MANNING, b. 06 Jul 1908, Hanna, McIntosh, OK, USA; d. 26 Dec 1982, Fresno, Fresno, CA, USA.

v. WILSON3 MANNING26,27, b. 31 Jul 1919, Hanna, McIntosh, OK, USA27; d. Jul 1988, Elgin, Comanche, OK, USA27.
vi. M LONZA MANNING27, b. 1924, Oklahoma.
vii. L KENITH MANNING, b. 1930, Oklahoma.
viii. MILDRED MANNING27, b. 09 Dec 192427; d. 26 Dec 2002, Elgin, Comanche, OK, USA27.

Generation No. 3

3. FLORA MAE3 MANNING (THOMAS MARION ALONZA2, IRA1) was born Abt. 1910 in OK, USA28, and died 15 Mar 1940 in Amarillo, Potter Co., TX, USA29. She married ERNEST GAHMO CONNOR30,31, son of WILLIAM CONNER and LAURA BARNETT. He was born 17 Jan 1898 in Williamson, TX, USA32,33, and died 23 Dec 1976 in Phoenix, Maricopa, Arizona, United States of America33.

Flora died shortly after the birth of her fifth child. The fifth child was still born. It was a girl, but never named. Flora was burried in Liano Cemetary, Amarillo, TX.

June 2006
Estelle, Kathy, Renee and LaTosha went on a trip to Amarillo, TX to find and visit the graves of Flora and her last baby. They finally found them after a great deal of help. Grandma was disturbed by the fact that the only thing marking her mother's, Flora, grave was a small brick size marker with only her name on it. Grandma then purchases grave markers for both Flora and the baby, who we found out today was named Geneva. So now thier names and dates will always be known.

Ernest is Cherokee Indian

After Flora died Ernest put the children in an orphanage for a short time in TX until he got back on his feet. He remarried and got the children back. The marriage didn't work, so he took the chidren and they moved to Arizona. However, Ernest changed the children's birth dates for fear of his ex-wife turning him into the orphanage as an unfit father to care for his children alone. No one ever came looking for the children. I have found all of the children's correct birth dates except Estelle. She has always celebrated her birth day on the date her dad gave her after moving to Arizona. We are also still unsure of where Estelle was born. Possibly Hollis, OK.

But during the time the children were in the orphanage is a missing link for us. We have not been able to locate the birth place or birth cirtificate for Estelle the oldest child. She may have been born in Oklahoma instead of Texas like the rest of the children.

Social Security Number: 464-07-097833
SSN issued: Texas33

i. ESTELLE4 CONNOR, b. 25 May 1929, Hollis?, OK, USA; m. (1) SAM CLIFTON RIDDLE33,34; b. 19 Feb 1919, OK, USA35,36; d. 20 Apr 2002, Modesto, Stanislaus, CA, USA37; m. (2) JACK CASEY.

Residence: 1930, Ponca City, Kay, Oklahoma38
Social Security Number: 440-18-205339
SSN issued: Oklahoma39

ii. UNKNOWN ESTELLE'S TWIN CONNOR, b. 25 May 1929, OK, USA; d. May 1929, OK, USA.
iii. MATTIE JOSEPHINE CONNOR, b. 29 Aug 1931, Wheeler, TX, USA.
iv. LOTTI "LAURA" BELLE CONNOR, b. 28 Jan 1935, Wheeler, TX, USA; d. 07 Nov 1965, San Bernardino, CA40; m. CHARLES DECKER; b. 06 Aug 1929; d. 07 Nov 1965, San Bernardino, CA40.

Laura, her husband and son David were all killed in a car accident.

Laura's real name was Lotti. One of Flora's, Laura's mother, cousins was named Lotti and Flora didn't like her too much so she started calling Lotti, Laura. Aunt Mattie says that the cousin Lotti was involved with Ernest before Flora knew him, and that is why she didn't like her too much. It was someone else's idea to name the child Lotti.

v. BILLIE JOE CONNOR, b. 11 Sep 1937, Amarillo, Potter Co., TX, USA.
vi. GENEVA CONNOR41, b. 11 Mar 1940, Amarillo, Potter Co., TX, USA; d. 11 Mar 1940, Amarillo, Potter Co., TX, USA.

4. IRA3 MANNING (THOMAS MARION ALONZA2, IRA1)42,43 was born 06 Mar 1906 in OKLAHOMA44,45, and died 21 Nov 1995 in FRESNO, California46. He married MINNIE L MANNING47. She was born 1908 in Oklahoma.

Residence: 1920, Hanna, McIntosh, Oklahoma48

i. THOMAS L4 MANNING49,50, b. 09 Feb 1928, OKLAHOMA51,52; d. 14 Jan 1972, FRESNO, California53.

Military: 15 Jan 1946, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma54
Residence: Grady, Oklahoma54

5. HENRY LEE3 MANNING (THOMAS MARION ALONZA2, IRA1)55,56 was born 06 Jul 1908 in Hanna, McIntosh, OK, USA56, and died 26 Dec 1982 in Fresno, Fresno, CA, USA56. He married OMA ALZADIE YOUNG56 Nov 1928 in Hollis, Harmon, OK, USA56. She was born 10 Feb 1909 in Gould, Harmon, OK, USA56, and died 17 Jul 1993 in Fresno, Fresno, CA, USA56.

Marriage: Nov 1928, Hollis, Harmon, OK, USA56

Children of HENRY MANNING and OMA YOUNG are:
i. ROSA LEE4 MANNING56,56, b. 12 Sep 1931, Hollis, Harmon, OK, USA56,56; d. 22 Nov 1993, Fresno, Fresno, CA, USA56,56; m. HAROLD JAMES WELCH56.
iii. JULIA MANNING56, b. OK.

Source are available, but because of space I have deletted them from this post.

Finding Your Ancestor, Part II

At this point you should have a family tree started and family group sheets filled out. Now it's time to start searching. First get a highlighter, set down and highlight each unknown, unproven, or incomplete piece of information for each ancestor.

Pick one ancestor to start with. Then of course there are more forms to use! Also you will need a computer database to enter you information into. It really will get overwhelming if you don't.

Census Charts These charts will help you to read the originals or you can use them to transcribe the information from the originals that pertain to your ancestors.

Individual Research Chart These will help you record all information about one particular ancestor as well as a chronological list of event in their life that will aid in your research.

Another Great Web Site of Genealogy Forms and Chart

Now that you have an ancestor to research and you know what information is unknown. There is a few more forms you will need!

Research Log

Source Notes

Research worksheet This one is a must. I used this form and added a few things to it. This was the first page. The second page has a section to write down all the questions that need to be answered. Then the bottom half of the second page has three columns; Set Goal, Source, Results. If you would like a copy of this form please email me. I would be glad to share it.

Now lets get started. The first place I recommend any beginner to start is on Ancestry.com. Ancestry seems to always have a two week free trial period. Take advantage of it. Here you can find census records, birth, death, and sometimes marriage records. The census records and the WWI records you can view and print the originals. Most other records are just indexes so you will need to send off for the originals. There are also some newspaper articles available on Ancestry. Simply enter you ancestors name and date range as well as the place they were born, died and or lived. Be open to misspelled names as well as census records with other incorrect information. You may actually find your ancestor and not know it if your don't consider all possibilities.

Another place for online research is on RootsWeb. Again there are index records and family trees and histories to look through. Searching for your ancestor works the same way as ancestry. Enter as much information as you can. The best part though is Roots Web is FREE!

Always keep in mind that other people do research and post their information on these websites. Consider anyone else's work only a clue to your ancestors existence. Do not look it as fact. There is a great deal of information posted on the web that is incorrect. Use what you find to give you a clue as to where you might find you ancestor. Also contact anyone who appears to be researching the same family line. You will be amazed at how many people love to share their information. You may even be lucky enough to find someone with photos of your family members.

Remember keep your files organized, use as many forms as possible that help you in your search, contact others researching the same family or surname, post what information you can prove at least on Roots Web so others can find you, and if you ever get stumped I'm here to help.

Finding Your Ancestor, Part I

Now the fun begins! Now that you have filled and organized your photos and documents putting together what you do know about your ancestors will be a great deal easier.

So lets get started. The first thing you will need to do is download and print several charts and forms for compiling your information. You need to write down everything you know about your family in an organized set of forms that will help you to start searching. Here are all the forms you will need:

Pedigree Charts

Family Group Sheet

These are the two main forms to get started. Grab a package of sharpened pencils and set down and fill in as much information as you can using the photos, documents and your memory. Now for some of you this will be easy and you will have a great deal of information to start off with. For others this may be more difficult.

Here are two more pieces to add to your arsenal of information gathering.

Family Interview Also on this site you will find other related articles to help you learn how to interview your family members in order to efficiently unlock the clues of the past.

Very Detailed Family Interview!

Interview as many relatives as you can about themselves and what they remember of the family. It's important to keep in mind that unless they are speaking of themselves consider the information just clues. Second hand accounts may be inaccurate.

Keep a log of your interviews and interview attempts. You may have some relatives resistant at this time, but when they realize the rest of the family is really getting into what you are doing and it gets exciting they may be willing to get involved later. So keep a log that you can go back to and try to revisit those relatives.

Correspondence Log This link will take you to a great article about maintaining a correspondence log. Also included in this article is another link to many other useful forms such as the ones above.

Keep in mind that you need to gather as much information as possible before you start your search. Your search will be a great deal easier if you gather information about relatives living in the 1930's and before. For me that was my grandparents, but where I had information on great grandparents my search became much easier.

The title of this page will take you to a website of someone I consider to be very helpful for the beginner. Emily Ann Croom is the author of Unpuzzling Your Past, a wonderful book. I bought her book of worksheets a while back and it has helped me to be even more efficient in my search. Take a moment to read some of her articles as well.

The Organized Genealogist, Part III

Now it's time to organize all the paperwork you have that pertains to your family history. You will need a file cabinet or files boxes, hanging file folders, and manila or colored folders. There are three ways you can choose to organize your files.

  1. Surname: You can choose to organized based one each surname in your family. Create a hanging file for the surname and then create a manila folder for each family group, using the head of household's name (and possible birth year if the name repeats).

  2. Location: File everything based on the state then subdivide by county or even city. This maybe useful if you have different surnames from different locations and you do most of your searches based on location.

  3. Document Type: File each record based on the type of record. Keep marriage records together or death records together. Then assign a sequential number to each item and write it on an index at the front of the folder.

Next decide on the system that works best for you. For me I choose to use the surname system, but I took it one step further, by color coding the files. First assign a hanging file for each surname. Next I created a file folder for each family group with in that surname. Last I created a color chart and color coded the folders. My chart looked something like this:

1) Ancestors of James Shannon Crooks (my hubby)
a) Earl Porter Crooks
b) Ruth Ann Ward
c) Sam Clifton Riddle
d) Estelle Connor
2) Ancestors of Amy Christine Woolsey
a) Albert Lee Woolsey
b) Olivia Joyce Jenkins
c) Von Joseph “Rusty” Roe
d) Mary Ellen Hayes

Then I applied my chart to all of my folders. All folders that pertained to my husband family had a thin blue highlight across the top, and for my family it was pink. Then the four ancestors below our name represented our four grandparents and their family lines. So that each file a one color at the top to represent mine or my husband’s line and then the rest of the tab was color coded according to the family line that the file belonged to. I will say this method has worked wonderful for me. When I research I generally stick to one person or one particular family. With this method I can go to my file pull out the family I want to work on and set down at my desk with out. If I’m going to the library I may take out a few families I hope to find information on and take with me. With this method it is neat, organized, easy to use, and easy to transport.

Now that you have the system that works for you it’s time to starting filing. In each file I also made sure to include a family group sheet and at the front of each surname file was a pedigree. However you may not yet have that, and I will discuss both of these forms later. First you need to just start filing. As you add more generations and families to your pedigree you will also add more files.

Photo copies; there are certain things like newspaper articles, documents, and scraps of paper that you will want to photo copy as you go. Newspapers will yellow and crumble over time, as will old documents, so it is a good idea to have a photo copy as a back up. Place your originals in an archival safe sheet protector to keep them unnecessary damage. All those scraps of paper you have been write notes on photo copy them on to 8.5”x11” paper so that your files stay neat and don’t bulge with little sheets of paper, also there is a greater chance of loosing the little pieces of paper rather then the full sheet.

Once you have photo copied and filed all your documents, letters, and notes you will be on your way to a much more organized and less stressful search for your ancestors. The next step is to begin searching. I will get you started on that in my next post. Until then you may want to consider other areas of your desk, office and work space that may need to be organized to make you search more efficient, such as a card file for contact information, holder for pencils, pens and highlighters, all of which you will need, a shelf for books you will buy to improve you methods of searching, and last a few files for articles you will collect about genealogy, areas you are searching, and history for time periods you are searching.

The Organized Genealogist, Part II

Now it's time to get started on that huge pile of photos. You know the one that keeps getting stuffed into drawers, in boxes and thrown in the basement. No more! You want to start organizing and preserving your history so that not only can future generations know who you were, but so they can also see you, and the rest of the family.

To me the most rewarding part of my search for my ancestor are the photos I find and that others so graciously share. When you can put a face to the name and see that they really did exist it's indescribable the way you feel.

There are several different ways you can organize and preserve your photos. You can chose one or a combination of methods.
  • Scrapbooks This method is fun. It is also a great way to show off your photos and include information about the people and events in the photos. However be careful when scrapbooking to make sure that all material is acid free. Also as much as you want to do not cut your photos. What may not be important to you now may be invaluable to a genealogist in the future. Such as a car with a license plate, or a picture of the family in front of the house that 10 years later is torn down, these items can help to date a photo. If you would like to do scrapbooking you can check it out by searching the internet, there are too many sites to list, check out your arts and crafts store, photos shop, or even Wal Mart carries a good selection of scrapbooking material, though read every label to make sure it is archival safe.
  • Boxes Okay I know I told you to get your photos out of the boxes, but you can still use boxes, but they just need to be organized and labeled in some fashion that will make it easy for future generations to search through and view your life. There is a large variety of boxes out there for photo storage, Clamshell boxes, crafted removable lid boxes, photo frame boxes, wooden, plastic or cardboard. It doesn't matter what style you use, what you need to make sure is that it is archival safe and organized. Now you can organize them by surname if your purpose if for mostly family research, or by events in chronological order, or a combination. Maybe you want a tab with a surname behind that tab are all pictures that pertain to that surname, but then maybe behind that you want a tab for weddings with those pictures, anniversaries, reunions, graduations, and so forth.
  • Photo Albums These are the great old time favorites of most families. I'm sure some of your photos are already in a few. These are also just as great as scrapbooking, though not as decorative. However, they are still a great way to create a book with pictures and captions talking about the people in the photos so that you can share them with others. Some people find photo albums a little easier to do the scrapbooks. There are also many beautiful photo albums out there to use. Again make sure that the pages are archival safe.

What ever method you choose to use, here is what you must consider.

  1. Is is archival safe? I can't stress that enough. You don't want your great granddaughter to come across you wedding photo some day in an album and not be able to see your face because the photo has faded beyond recognition.
  2. Is it simple enough that you will continue to use it? Don't choose scrapbooking as your only method if you are only going to get one book started and then throw everything back in a boxes and gine it back to the dark, dreary basement again. That doesn't serve the purpose. If you don't have a lot of time then simply choose the box method. Make tabs and then organize your photo in the boxes. Make sure to write information on the back with a soft pencil as you go.
  3. Will future generations be able to view and understand the people and events when you are gone? Make sure to label all photos either on the back or with a caption below it. Include name, dates, places, and events.
  4. Last but not least make copies and give to other family members. This way in the event something catastrophic happens to your home and contents those photos will not be lost forever. I'm sure they will be gracious enough to make copies and give back to you.

The last thing to think about is what will happen with your photos and heirlooms when you are gone. Make sure that you have a data base or a file somewhere that expresses who is to get what item when you pass away. This way there is no question to your intentions. The best method is to have a will with every precious item listed and the recipient. Then to further enforce it find a way to put that person's name on the item, or on the container it is stored in. If each generation the item is passed down to continues to do this then it will also serve as a record of each person who has owned the item.

If you have any other methods that you and your family use to preserve, label and designate the next heir of your precious heirlooms and photo please share them with us. I'm sure there are many other methods out there. What ever works for you just make sure it will preserve and be very clear for the next generation to come.