Sunday, September 2, 2012

I'm Moving The Site

I have decided to move my blog and all my family research to Weebly.  You can continue to follow me there:

Ancestors Before Me 

Hope to see you there!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Citing Sources....Lessons Learned

The other day, I watched several webinars that covered citing sources...

Citing Sources ( with Anne Mitchell, and part two here.   I also watched "The 5c's for Success in Genealogy Today" with Barbara Renick.  Anne provided a great tip, which if I had remembered my secretarial days, I would have thought of myself.  Basically, use templates to help you cite your common sources, like census records.  Why constantly work to come up with the right format, when you can use a preformatted template, and just change a few key parts to fit the particular census you are citing (date, place, etc).  I HIGHLY recommend you watch the videos, especially if you are just starting out in genealogy, and documenting your family history.

While Barbara's webinar wasn't specifically about citing sources, the last part she did, covering this topic, hit home for me.  We all have things from our beginning days as family researchers, where we just went willy nilly, collecting information without noting where it came from.  I have a recent example.....

Not long ago, I read somewhere that the border between NY and CT, near where my great grandfather was born, was very fluid for a long time.  This would involve Westchester county in NY, and Fairfield county in CT.  I think I remember it saying that if someone was actually born in Rye or Poundridge NY, which is so close to the Fairfield county border, before 1870, that their records would be in Fairfield county.  I say "I think" because, I forgot to save the link, or even copy and paste the information for future use.  Now I can't remember where I read it.  Drats!!!

Barbara shared a "chant" that was taught to her in a course...I am adopting it as my mantra:

When looking at ANY information, follow these steps:

1. FIND the source of information
2. CITE the source (don't read it until you do this!!!  Even if there is no useable information that applies to your research.  You will have a record that you already looked at that particular source).
3. SEARCH the source
4. COPY the source....write down any information you find that is relevant to your research, or copy/paste into a digital research notebook (I prefer OneNote).
5. EVALUATE the source - is it a primary source or derivative?  How reliable is the source?
6. REPEAT all the above steps and collect more information.  Never rely on just one source in your research.
7. ANALYZE and ADD - analyze the information you have found, and when you are sure of your findings, then add it to your family tree information.  

Now, I will admit, that if I find something on Ancestry or Family Search, that is pretty clear cut, I automatically add it to that person in my online tree.  The reason for this is because my Ancestry tree is my "working" tree.  It is always in a state of being updated, changed, etc.  When I am pretty sure of a fact, I put the information, with sources to back it up, into my online tree (noting that it might need more research).  I don't transfer it to my tree in Roots Magic until I can verify it ...within reason. Sometimes you only have once source.  If I feel it is accurate (which is a complete judgement call), I will add it to my master tree in my program on the computer.  

And sometimes, I add things to my shoebox on Ancestry.  Things that look like they might be a help, but need more analysis.  By doing this I am still keeping the record handy.  I have had times where I have found something, took a mental note of it, but didn't save it, and then couldn't find it again.  This goes back to citing your sources....always find a way to save what you find, whether it's online or on your own computer.  Something as simple as a Word document can be invaluable.  Write out what you find, paste a link to where you found out, and save it for future reference.  It always amazes me, when I look at notes I took 10 years ago, what my thought process was.  And many times I see things right there in front of my face, that I didn't see back then.

Both Anne and Barbara mentioned using a tool called Snag-It.  This can be a bit pricey at $50 if you are on a budget.  But I like the will snag what is on a webpage.  All of it.  Unlike the normal screen capture (PrtScrn) on your computer, which will only grab what is visible in the screen.  I can't afford that $50 at the moment though, so I did a search for free options. The one that I will give a try is called ScreenHunter Free.  Cnet gives it extremely high ratings, and that is a bonus.  I will update you down the road as to how I think it works.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Wedding Wednesday - What's In A Name?

Thanks to Family Search obtaining Vermont Vital records, the Blanchard side of my family has opened up ten-fold.  I recently found out that my great grandfather Charles Forrest Blanchard was not always married to my great grandmother Lucy Ann Riley.  In the Family Search records, it clearly shows that he was married twice before:

First to Rose A Ashley on 25 Dec 1886
    Source Citation: "Vermont, Vital Records, 1760-1954," index and images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 8 April 2012), Luther W. Blanchard in entry for Charlie F. Blanchard and Rose A. Ashley (1886).

Then to Lucy A Eastman in 1891
      Source Citation: "Vermont, Vital Records, 1760-1954," index and images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 8 April 2012), Charles F. Blanchard (1871).

But then he married my great grandmother Lucy Ann Riley.  Based on the age of their oldest child, Charles T. in the 1900 census, I estimated their marriage to be around 1894-1895.  But I couldn't find a record of it.  I had a gentleman on Ancestry actually argue with me about my findings, claiming that there was no way. But there it was, in black and white.  There are no other Charles Forrest Blanchard's that I have found in Vermont at that time, with a father named Luther and a mother named Lydia.  So this leads me to believe that I am on the right trail.

Then something weird happened.  I found a census record for a Stephen T. Riley in Vermont, with a wife named Grace E. and a daughter named Lucy Ann.  I punched it into my tree with the hope that something would show up in the shaky leaf hints.  Nothing, after several weeks.

I did a search for Stephen, but all I kept coming up with was a Thomas Riley with the same birth date.  Just out of curiosity yesterday, I tried searching Family Search for Thomas Riley.  And poof....there it was.......

Source Citation: "Vermont, Vital Records, 1760-1954," index and images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 22 Aug 2012), Thomas S. Riley in entry for Charles F. Blanchard and Lucy A. Riley, 1892.

The proof I was looking for to show the marriage date of my great grandparents.  They were married July 10th, 1892. And then on top of that, I found out that for whatever reason, most of Lucy Ann's fathers life, he went by Thomas, not Stephen.  I can only guess why he showed up in the census that one time with Stephen....did he have a son of the same name?  Did someone other than a family member give the info?  Did the census taker just swap the names by accident?  Who knows.  But it has opened up two other family lines....the Riley's (paternal of Lucy Ann) and the Kathan's (maternal of Lucy Ann).

I haven't searched to find out what happened to the first two wives....illness causing death?  Another adventure to add to my "to do" list! Right now I am busy getting my files in order and trying NOT to get off track.  Finding rabbit trails like this though make it awfully tempting lol.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Getting Back In the Groove

My boys officially started back to school on Monday.  This is a bit early, even for us homeschoolers, but with my dad's illness back in the spring, we lost a lot of time, so I wanted to get a jumpstart on it.

So what does mom do while the boys are working on their schoolwork?  I am formulating a plan of attack....attacking my best options for setting up my files here in the apartment I am sharing with my aunt.  Attacking my education, which path I want to take.

As for the education side of things, I am currently getting caught up on some free webinars.  Today I just watched Thomas MacEntee's "The Genealogy Cloud - Which Online Storage Is For You", at Legacy Family Tree.  It said it was to expire on 8/6, but I was still able to access it.  Wow!  I took 6 pages of notes on the info he gave, and have some decisions to make after I check out all the options.

I haven't worked on my Research binder for awhile, so I need to update that as well.

I also found a great checklist, that I will be filling out for each person of my family tree, to make sure that I do not miss anything in collecting documents.  I tend to go willy-nilly sometimes, and need to reighn myself in, and be more methodical.  Step by step is much better than rabbit trails.

As for the file storage....I will use my file boxes for now, but am searching out Craigslist for at least a 2 drawer filing cabinet.  I would prefer a 4 drawer one, but might have to wait for that.  If I can't find one there, I will buy one next month.

What are you "attacking" at the moment?

Saturday, August 4, 2012

1940 Census Searchable On Ancestry

I might be a day or so behind, as I just checked my gmail account for genealogy stuff, but Ancestry has indexed all of the 1940 census, and it is now searchable.

This was a huge thing for me, because whenever I tried the tricks offered using the street name and enumeration district from the 1930 census, I came up empty.  In my searches, I could not for the life of me, find East Meadow Street in the 1940 census.  Stamford, CT was a big city back then, being a huge boom town since the late 1800's, and the massive immigration of the Irish.  There was no way I was going to through, page by page by page, to find them.  So I waited.  Sometimes patiently lol.

This one contains my grandfather, Gordon E. Nichols and his family.  Including my great grandfather Arthur E. Nichols, who passed away later in 1940.  I am glad he was still alive for the census, although I suspect he was probably already sick.
(Source: 1940 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2012.
Original data: United States of America, Bureau of the Census. Sixteenth Census of the United States, 1940. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1940. T627, 4,643 rolls.)

I did make a correction to the transcribing, as they were listed as "Nicholas".  I can't blame the wonderful indexer, as the handwriting on this one is not great (big surprise there, wonder if they ever thought to make the census takers do a handwriting course).

And this is my grandfather Mayo H. Blanchard, and his family.  He is always pretty easy to find, due to his unusual name. I also made a small correction to the transcribing on this one, as my uncle's name is Alfred, not "Affred".  That was the census taker's fault.

(Source: 1940 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2012. Original data: United States of America, Bureau of the Census. Sixteenth Census of the United States, 1940. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1940. T627, 4,643 rolls.)

My father and mother will not show up in the 1940 census, as they were born 1942 and 1943, respectively.  But many of my aunts and uncles are there. It is kind of funny to see them as little children.  I want to do nothing more than spend the day working to find others, but I must get my homeschool planning done for my boys first, since we begin the new year on Monday.

I will be definitely getting my files set up so that I can get back to searching, as soon as I possibly can.

And I just want to take a minute to thank all those wonderful volunteers who have worked so hard to make the 1940 census available to all of us.  It is so appreciated! 

Thursday, July 26, 2012

And We Are Moved

The official move wasn't without a few hiccups, but it's done.  We are officially in NC! :)

My poor genealogy research has taken a hit, as I haven't really done anything on it since 2 months ago.  I need to get back to it.  I have a project I was working on, for a barter situation, that I need to finish up with.

I did just order the DNA kit for my father to take, for the Nichols Project. Maybe this will finally give us some answers, or at least direction, on this brick wall.  I will keep you updated, once we get the results.  We chose the Y-DNA37 test.

I will also keep you updated on some of my research for my friend, as well as my own.  I haven't set my filing system up here yet.  It's all kind of mish mash in the containers I chose for it.  Need to get that done for sure before I do anything else.  I have a "to do" list a mile long for this stuff, on top of starting a new school year for our homeschooling.  Should be interesting.

I did just sign up for two great free webinars though.  Need to start working on the education side of things.  One is "Neglected History" with Megan Smolenyak.  That one is August 1st.  The other is "Using Our Nation's Library" with Laura G. Prescott, on August 20th.  I have never done webinars for genealogy before, but definitely looking forward to them!

Hope you are all enjoying your research!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Moving and DNA

I didn't mean to completely disappear from this blog, but life is a bit chaotic at the moment.  We are nearing the end of a process of giving up all but our most basic things (clothes, family mementos, etc.), to get ready for a major move.  My two boys and I are relocating from NH to NC in early July.  So, obviously, the genealogy research has been put on hold.  I have been into my family tree on Ancestry a few times, but am trying not to look at too many documents, because I will not remember what I already researched during this transition time.  All of my genealogy stuff is packed, along with the printer.  Temptation is a great thing, so I had to get those packed and take that away.

On another note, my cousin has offered to pay for DNA for our Nichols line.  I was shocked, but excited.  We haven't broken down the brick wall that is my great grandfather, so this will at least give us a direction to go in.  According to what I have been told, and researched on my own, it should at least give us the general line of Nichols that we descend from.  Then maybe, by starting back at the beginning and working forward, I can find Arthur, his parents, etc.  I should get the check this week sometime, and will update you when we get the results.  My father will be the one taking the test for me.  If you are interested in the Nichols DNA project, you can find more information here.

So please be patient, as I will get this blog back on it's feet once we get settled in NC and get our bearings in our new environment.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Ancestry Family Trees

I have read a lot of posts online, mostly on blogs, concerning the use of Ancestry family trees.  Both professional and non-professional genealogists are split on whether these should be used as "working" trees, or be a completely accurate tree (ie: every single person documented with sources out of the gate).

I personally am of the mind that my tree is a work in progress.  Both on my Blanchard side of the family, and the Goyette side, I can trace my tree back quite far.  I have found out this information through others who have the documentation to prove it.  I don't yet, but am working on it, one person at a time.  

I see my Ancestry tree as a place to work, adding sources as I find them.  The final product is what I add to my genealogy program on my computer.  I update the online tree at Ancestry, so that it is as accurate as possible, when I find new information that either proves or disproves a fact/theory.

I do wish their was a place on my tree to add a note stating that this is a working tree, and that no one should take any person as "proven" until I can confirm sources.  But, I think anyone who is serious about their family history will see this.  There will always be those who just copy people from one tree to another, willy nilly.  You can't prevent them from doing this.  They are not really interested in the stories of their family, but rather collecting people on their trees, like trophies.

It is very exciting to find that I have some pretty well known people on the Blanchard side of my family, but I am just as excited to find out the stories and facts about those every day people on my tree, like my Great Grandfather Nichols.  As I have said before, the every day, ordinary people are the ones who worked hard to make this country what it is, and their stories are just as important as those who made a name for themselves.

How do you use your online tree?


Monday, May 21, 2012

Blanchard and Google Books

Until a few months ago, I knew very little about the Blanchard side of my family.  Aside from the fact that my grandfather was named Mayo, after the county in Ireland (according to family stories, yet to confirm this was the reason), I knew little, because there aren't any relatives near us.  We keep in touch with our immediate family, but that is it.

After finding a family tree online, with excellent documentation, I have been able to take this tree back many generations.  I am in the process of collecting my own documentation to prove all the connections.

One thing that astounds me, and excites me, as a history buff, is the amount of information on Google Books about Blanchards.  A simple search of Amasa Blanchard, my 3rd great grandfather, brings up multiple options.  Amasa was a popular name among the Blanchard's, so it takes some serious hours reading, to make sure I am following the right one.  But it is so worth it!  Snippets of his life, and of other Blanchards, really make the picture come together.

You may not have family information in Google Books, but definitely don't over look it as a resource to find things.  It can be invaluable.

Friday, May 18, 2012

History Geeks Get It

In some form or another, all three of my children are history geeks.  Whether this is passed down through the genes (I LOVE history), or it is just created through my own passion for it, it is there in varying degrees.

For those of you that don't know, for much of my children's lives, I have homeschooled them.  Sometimes, history is the biggest chunk of our studies, because we love it so much.  I have to purposely do our science or math, but history always naturally happens.

I think this is just part of what makes me love genealogy.  And it seems that my 16 year old is not far behind me on that.  He has always been fascinated with the fact that his name (Joseph) goes back multiple generations on both sides of the family.  Whenever I find a new relative who carries that name, he is online trying to find out everything he can about him.

Recently I did a barter agreement with an online friend, offering to help her with her family tree, in exchange for a gift card to buy a fairly expensive pair of shoes that don't hurt my feet.  Before I was an hour or two into it, my son was helping me find more sources online, including photos of the headstones of her ancestors.  You could see the light in his eyes, and he found one resource after another.

And his face was beaming this morning, when he informed me that he had contacted our local historical society in our little town, to offer a donation of the bottle from the 1880's that he found on one of his adventures.  He is a bit of a "mountain man", in that he goes out in the woods for hours on end, exploring.  He finds some pretty cool stuff.  No wonder he wants to be a history teacher when he is done high school.  Although I doubt he would fit into a traditional school, with his eclectic style.  

So my history geeks, those great kids of mine, get it when I spend hours researching and reading.  They almost always share in my excitement of a new find.  And that is worth more than anything to a mom's heart, to have that with your children.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Lucy Ann Riley

Recently, in connecting with my distant cousins in the Blanchard family online, I was finally able to put a face to a name.  Lucy Ann Riley, daughter of Stephen Riley and Grace, was my great grandmother.  She was the third wife of Charles Forrest Blanchard.

I don't know much about her, I never met her.  From what my grandmother told me, she was a very sweet person, and she really liked her.  She is one that I will be researching very soon.  It is so easy to research the men in the family, they left the paper trails.  Women are much harder, although in most instances, they are the keepers of the family history. 

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Computer Geeks Heaven

I am going to be sharing my genealogy research with family soon.  Currently, I have folders set up on my computer by Surname, and then individuals within that.  But to have it make sense to someone who isn't into genealogy, or how it is set up, it seems like a lot of random facts.

Enter OneNote software, from Microsoft.  I have had this software for a couple years now, and love playing with it.  I have set up notebooks for things like crocheting and gardening, so it seems only natural to use it to share genealogy with family.  If you cannot afford to buy OneNote, there is a free option called EverNote, that will do much the same thing.

Here is an amazing video made by Brian over at The Paperless Genealogist, which will give you an idea of how it works, and intial ideas to set it up.

My initial thought to other pages that could be included in each person's section would be:
-Photos (make sure you label who is in them, and dates if you know them)
-Census records (this gives a timeline of sorts to where they were)
-City Directories (again, provides a timeline of their location)
-Maps (a map from 1845 of the area your ancestors lived in is really going to add perspective for those looking at the information)
-Miscellaneous (this I would use for things like photos of heirlooms, odds and ends of things you might find online, etc)

For my Blanchard line, I think I will include a Google Books page as well, where I can insert excerpts from numerous Google Books that have information on them, especially the early ancestors.  It will make it easy to provide documentation too, of random items from various books into one place, for those who don't want to go read every single book like I do.

One thing to remember, even in using this set up.....CITE YOUR SOURCES.  This will be invaluable to those who do more research down the road.  It is also the best way to prove your research is worth it's weight in gold.  Don't just go off willy nilly, adding things that don't belong, unless you can prove it.

Things that I find, that are a "maybe", will be kept in the General Notes page at the beginning of each person, until I can prove it.  This is also where I will keep a list of questions that will crop up and need answers, theories, etc.

One of the most exciting things I can see about using OneNote to share what I am finding in the family history, is that it can be saved as a pdf.  This makes it so much easier for anyone wanting to print it out as actual book.  By being able to update the information as I find new things out, sending out a new copy, with a note as to updates, will be invaluable.

How do you store your genealogy on your computer, and share with family?  Would love to hear your ideas.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

CamScanner App for Android

image courtesy of Google Play

My old standby printer, an HP Deskjet, has finally decided it doesn't want to work anymore.  I still held onto it a few years ago, even though I bought a new wireless printer, because the copying and scanning functions were working fabulously still, and it was one of those printers you could refill the ink cartridges without it going haywire.  It won't copy anymore.  Frankly, this is ok.  I have to move in a few months, and I need to pare down what I take with me.
Enter a neat little app that I downloaded a few weeks ago, but hadn't played with yet.  I found CamScanner in the Google Play store on my Android phone and decided to give it a try.  My cousin is anxiously awaiting a copy of my grandparent's marriage license, and I hadn't gotten it into the mail to him yet, so thought I would use this as my test piece.
You take a picture of the item to be scanned using the camera on your phone, from within the CamScanner program.  It will then crop it to be just the document, and then enhances it. I first saved it as a simple jpg (you can click on it to see it larger). 
You also have the option of converting it to a pdf, before you send it to where you want it to go.  I really like this option.  I prefer pdf's over jpg's, but that is a personal preference.

The app gives you a lot of options for sending your document to another location.  You can email it to  yourself or someone else, you can upload it to Dropbox, Facebook, pretty much anywhere.  

This is definitely going to be a useful tool for my genealogy research, and also my homeschooling with my children.  Super simple, easy to print out what you scanned.  Win-win.

Friday, April 27, 2012

The Strong, Silent Type

Agnes Theresa Nichols and Everett Gordon Nichols

My father, Everett "Butch" Nichols is very much his father's son, despite being the doted on by his mother, as the youngest boy.  Not many men in our family actually express their feelings, or tell their history.  I probably know more about my dad than I ever could about his father, because I enjoy listening to the stories.  Even if I have heard them before...every time, more details come out.  Yes, we all change the story we tell, adding here and there, or taking away bits, but ultimately the story deep down is the same.
My father is the fifth child out of six, for Gordon Everett and Jessie (Ede) Nichols.  From all accounts, he was my grandmother's baby boy.  Spoiled to the core.  Sometimes this caused problems with his dad.  Such as when he was a teen.  Numerous times he got kicked out of school, and finally when he was 17, they told him not to come back.  My grandfather gave him an ultimatum...."Go in the military, or come work for me".  Dad chose the military, thinking that it would get him away from his dad, and his firm discipline. He admits now, that within a few months he wished he hadn't, it wasn't so green on the other side of the fence.
 Gordon E Nichols, Jessie A (Ede) Nichols, Patricia M (Blanchard) Nichols, Everett G Nichols
Just two years after getting out of the Army, he married my mother.  He had known her most of his growing up years, they lived in the same neighborhood, and he hung out with her older brother Al for a lot of the time.  He actually dated her younger sister Lou, and was engaged to her for part of the time he was in the Army, but it didn't work out.  Good thing, otherwise I might not be here.
Funny thing I have always wondered, and my mother can't say (for whatever reason)...he asked her out many times, and she kept telling him to "go away and grow up".  Apparently he did, enough for her to want to marry him anyway.
Over the years he has worked many jobs...mechanic, part time carpenter, part time logger, and 27 years as a shipwright at a local navy yard...anything to pay the bills and care for his family.
 And now we take care of him.  47 years of marriage to my mother, and we watch her help him get through each day as he fights cancer.  He is a miracle.  The odds are against him, but he fights with all he has.  He is stubborn, cranky sometimes, but loving beyond belief.  And if you want to see Poppa Bear come out, mess with his family.  Especially me, his only daughter, my mother, or his granddaughters.  He will hurt you and ask questions later.
My maternal grandmother always told me I was too much like him.  I always took it as a compliment even though she didn't mean it that way.  My only wish, if I could change things, is that he would have had a closer relationship to my boys.  That is how he is like his father.  He is the strong silent type with the boys, the ones who need him most.  Need his guidance, his wisdom.  So I tell them what I can of him, of his life, what he would think of different situations, so that they can know him.  Not the same thing, but it's better than nothing.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Be Back In A Bit

I will be posting again shortly.  We are currently dealing with a family medical issue.  Thanks for your patience.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Starting the Organization

One of the biggest faults of myself, and other family genealogists has to be not keeping things organized.  Constantly looking for that record that you know you have, but just cannot remember where you put it.  Researching the same thing multiple times, because you didn't keep a record of it.

In my quest to be more organized, and to make it easier to share things as more family connections are being made, I am starting my filing system.  Yeah me!

I talked in this post about how I would set it up, and I am following through with that plan, with an addition.  First, here is what I am using to store my files:

These file boxes were $6 at Walmart.  I chose them because we have a move coming up in two months, and I needed something that is easily portable and small.  Eventually I will get a large filing cabinet, once we get into our new home, but for now these work.  As I mentioned in my previous post, I am using the closed folders, by color, to help organize the individual files for each person in the family.  Please ignore the writing on the red folders, that was my last attempt at organizing several years ago, and doesn't apply.  But I am all about using what you have, rather than spending extra money.

These red folders designate my paternal grandfather's family, and associated families. The next batch will be blue folders to designate my paternal grandmother's family.

The individual folders themselves, lists the name of the person, date of birth, and date of death, along with their number in my system.

The numbering system I have decided to go with is the Sosa-Stradonitz system.  I have also begun to keep an index in Excel, so that I can print it and keep in my main filing folder, along with a written explanation of my filing system.

I do have the software from My Heritage, to eventually build a GEDCOM file, and have also downloaded PAF to see which I like better, but for now this works.  It allows me to keep track of who is who, where they are located in the filing system, and hopefully find things quickly to share.

A bit daunting, but slowly I am getting there.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Blanchard Connections

Mayo H. Blanchard and Charles F. Blanchard (believe they are on the right of the gentleman in the suit), building the Bristol CT Theatre

While searching around on the internet the end of last week, I came across the Brookfield, VT Historical Society.  Since I knew that Luther Waters Blanchard, and his father, Amasa Blanchard had both lived here, thanks to census records, I worked my way through their blog posts.  I was disappointed to not find anything, especially on Luther.  I left a comment on their blog to this effect.

A few days later I received an email from Elinor, who is the historian for the society, and as chance has it, is also part of the same Blanchard clan (connected a few generations back, as is her husband apparently).  She mentioned a friend she had, Joyce, who was seeking out Blanchard history, as she is one as well.

I am Blanchard on my mother's side:
My mother
Mayo Howard Blanchard (b:1901 VT, d:1961 CT)
Charles Forrest Blanchard (b:1867 VT, d:? Newtown CT)
Luther Waters Blanchard (b: 1833 VT, d: 1906 NH)
Amasa Blanchard (b: 1792 MA, d: 1887 VT)

 Lucy A (Riley) Blanchard and Charles F Blanchard with two of their sons (not sure yet which ones, possibly Mayo?)

Anyway, turns out Joyce is the daughter of Charles T. Blanchard, my grandfather's brother.  She gave a tip about another cousin, Dennis.  I was able to contact him through the Blanchard Yahoo group he set up to connect with others from the family who might be out there.  He is the son of my grandfather's youngest brother, Ernest Blanchard.

It amazes me sometimes, thanks to the internet, that I can find relatives that I never knew I had.  My mother didn't know any of them either, as the Blanchard family pretty much scattered from CT. There are a few still there, but many of us have moved to other states.

I never saw a picture of my great grandfather, Charles F, or my grandfather Mayo H.  Dennis had some amazing photos that he let me download. What a treasure! 

Never underestimate those random facts or connections you find on the internet in your searches, you just might come up with gold, or better yet, family!


Friday, April 13, 2012

Genealogy Tv Shows Review

Recently, Lorine at Olive Tree Genealogy, did a blog post about the PBS series "Finding Your Roots".  I think she may have been reading my mind, because I have been mulling over a similar post the last week or so.  But I want to give you my thoughts about the three major shows out there.

First, Finding Your Roots:  I dislike this show for a few reasons....
The host, Henry Louis Gates, is a specialist in African American History.  Because of his own agenda, I believe, every SINGLE EPISODE is about slavery, or if a white person has black roots in their tree, or vice versa.  I would prefer to see a show that just naturally finds a trail and follows it.  He admits in the Kyra Sedgwick episode, that because her ancestor was so famous in American History, he sought out something different on him.  He purposely went looking for what he wanted to find.  What if he hadn't found it?  What would the slant be then, how would he work slavery into the storyline?  If you notice, Kevin Bacon's family was glossed over, less time spent on it, because his family didn't meet the agenda.  Kyra's family, who is well known in the history of this country, needed some dirt dug up on them.  That is the mindset I see.

The host makes the show too much about himself.  I have watched all the episodes available online to date, and in every one, he always goes back to his family tree, his great grandmother, his life.  The show is supposed to be about those he asked to be on it.

There is not enough genealogy information given.  He glosses over facts, doesn't give a good overview of how they came to find this information out (this could be an editing problem).  

Overall, I think it is a poorly made show.  If he wanted to make a show that focused on African American genealogy, then that is what he should have done.  He is trying to use the format of a genealogy show to promote his personal opinions.  I don't doubt he is very well qualified in his area of expertise, but most people who tune into a show touted as a genealogy show, don't want the slant, the agenda.  They want to know how these people found the information, their stories.

Who Do You Think You Are, from NBC is my next show that I watch:
Overall, I like this show.  I am not a huge "celerity follower", but to watch some people I like, such as Reba McIntire or Marisa Tomei, find out where their family tree leads them is interesting.  There is a bit of information given about where some records are found, which might spark someone else to look into those resources they hadn't thought about before.

My only wish on this show, is that they do a similar show for everyday people like myself, who also want to find out where they come from.  I have had a brick wall in my family for 20 years, and desperately could use professional help in getting past it.  But like most family genealogist, I cannot afford the cost of doing that.

The Generations Project from BYUtv:
 I have been watching this show online for several seasons.  I dislike the newer format they have gone with this season, in removing the host.  I really enjoyed that aspect of the layout of the show, her asking questions, setting up a certain part of the video.

I also dislike the need to have an end goal, to change something in your own life, in order to be on the show. I actually applied for this show, in hopes of getting through my brick wall, that I mentioned above.  After two phone calls with a casting director, I backed out.  I didn't like the way they pushed you to have an agenda, other than finding out where/who you come from.  That is my main goal.  I don't have some deep seated issues that I need to resolve.

The best part of this show, is that it is about everyday people, like you and me, who are trying to find information.  Simple.

None of these shows will give you a "how to" on genealogy.  That is best left to experts that you can learn from who have written many books, websites, and produced videos on the subject.  Do your research, learn how to do genealogy, and enjoy these shows for what they are, entertainment.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Mistaken Idenity

I have had this photo for over twenty years:
 When my grandmother passed away, all of her items (photos, etc) were divided up between the kids. I don't know if any real system was used, just sorted into boxes.  This photo was in the box my dad got.  My grandmother's cousin had identified it as my great grandfather, Joseph D. Ede, from England.  For twenty years, that is who I believed it was.

Over the last couple of years I have been able to connect with some cousins on Facebook, who are sharing photos from our family history as well.  This photo turned up from my cousin Donald:

 I firmly believe this is the only photo of Joseph D. Ede, and his wife Olive, based on the clothing they are wearing.  Olive died sometime between the 1920 and 1930 census, and both were in their 60's by the 1910 census.

Now look at the photos, side by side:
 Sure looks like a family resemblance to me.  I am fairly certain now, that the first photo is not of Joseph D. Ede, but rather his father, Edgar Ede, also of England.  He and his wife Esther did come to America, after Joseph and another son, and settled in the Strafford, CT area, where they are buried.

Being able to use a photo, estimating the year(s) it might have been taken, to see a visual of the people you come from is so exciting!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Overwhelmed With Information

Being an avid family history researcher (aka: genealogist) and being a naturally disorganized person do not go hand in hand.  The last two days have been a whirlwind of finding all new information for my family tree.  Now, what to do with all of that?

I haven't printed anything out yet.  My first step is to get it in their profile on Ancestry, or if I find it on another site like Family Search, then I download it to a file with their name on my computer.  Problem with this is that (a) sometimes I have to bounce between 20 different things to remember one fact about someone (b) many cousins are now requesting copies of everything I am finding.

I could easily keep it all on the computer, the external hard drive (always back up in more than one place!), and can send the cousins cd's.  But I am a paper person.  I want to hold it in my hand, look at that piece of paper while I am looking for another fact.  It also helps me to solve a problem in a person's timeline, to see it laid out in front of me.

So, where to start in setting up paper files?  I have no less than 10 family lines at the moment.  I have been flitting from one to another as I find information, which makes it all the more crucial that I set up a filing system to sort it all.

This video, done by a young genealogist, really gave me a great idea.  Here is what I came away with for ideas, after watching her video:

-Main folder in the front to hold forms, etc
-Four colors for the main families (Paternal Grandfather, Paternal Grandmother, Maternal Grandfather, Maternal Grandmother). All families that come off that main branch will receive the same color folder.
-Non direct lines (ie: siblings of my great grandfather), will receive a group sheet, with sources cited, and be filed in chronological order, in one manilla folder with the family name on it.  They do not need a specific folder for their family, as they are part of my family but not direct.

For my folders I will be using these:
And then each person will get a regular manilla file folder inside.  I prefer these over hanging file folders, because they won't fall down (the hanging ones tend to come off the brackets if they get the slightest bit bent).  And by having closed bottoms and sides, papers and other items cannot fall out.  It is also easier to grab a folder for a family, to take with me if I have to go do research somewhere else.  Just grab the whole folder and put it in my bag.

I also plan to set up a binder, with blank research forms and citation forms to take with me when I will be researching somewhere other than home.

Happy Researching!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Don't Ignore the "Maybe"

While sitting around not feeling good yesterday, I spent the better part of the day on the computer, working on Ancestry.  I have been very lucky lately to find a lot of information on many of my family lines.

I was in sort of a haze, uploading some old family photos to my great aunt, Marie Ede Wykowski, when I decided to another "search" on her.  And there it was.

This obituary jumped out at me.  It was for a Charles M. Plank of Danbury, CT.  It took me a minute to remember that the Plank family lived on Meadow St in Stamford, CT with both my grandparent's families.  I had seen them in the census records, and I have a photo of my grandfather Gordon Nichols with a Charlie Plank (apparently they were good friends).  But it didn't register at first why my great aunt would be listed in this obituary.

 Gordon Nichols Sr. with Charles C. Plank

Then I read it....I had forgotten that she married Charles C. Plank, and this man's obituary that I was looking at, was their son.  I had always heard her name as Wykowski, so it took me a few minutes to absorb what I was reading.  Once I added her first husband, the children (listed in the obituary), a ton of information opened up, including the death record for Charles C. Plank, her first husband.  I also now have the names of long lost cousins to add to my tree, and possibly get in contact with.

That is a huge thing for me, finding living family, since I don't know most of them.  We moved to NH when I was seven years old, and didn't stay in touch with most of them, especially after my grandparents passed away in the late 1970's.

So always go read those random hints and sources that pop up, even if you don't think they might be connected.  You just might discover another line in your family.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

How I Got Addicted

I have always been interested in where I come from. But this photo, along with a comment from my father about 20 years ago, fueled the addiction.  My dad suggested I try to find out about his Nichols family.  Nothing was known.  A few tid bits here and there.

As I began digging, this gentleman, Arthur Ellsworth Nichols (b: 1858), has been the thorn in my side. I have been able to trace quite a few generations back on both sides of my family tree, except for him.  The man who gave us our last name, and I cannot find anything that is certain on him prior to my grandfather's birth.  

I won't stop looking though.  Not until we know.  There is a lot to be learned from our ancestors, and I get a thrill every time I find a new one.  Someday this man's history will come to me.  It may not be earth shattering as far as achievements, but more times than not, those are the people in my family history that I relate to the most.

The quiet, hard working people.  They remind me of myself, my parents, and God willing, my children.  It amazes me, how things can be handed down generation to generation, just by living our daily lives.  Our beliefs, our convictions, our pride, our strengths, and yes even the bad things such as prejudice. 

With this blog, I hope to continue to connect with others online who are related.  I have found many cousins and long lost relatives I didn't even know I had, by using the internet.  It is such a fabulous thing to talk to someone in Japan, who is a cousin, by way of my great great great grandfather.

If you feel there might be a connection in our family histories, don't hesitate to contact me: genealogynichols at gmail dot com.  

Enjoy the adventure!