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!